Chronologically, this chapter is set some time before the graduation ceremony.
Since all of us happened to be on break at the same time, Arioka-senpai, Chii-chan, Mizuhara and I went on a walk in Yokohama.
My main intention was to give them souvenirs from France (it was amazing, I want to go there again) so I wanted to meet up somewhere nearby. But Arioka-senpai was envious of my graduation trip, complaining that he had always wanted to get a feel of foreign countries.
Because of that, we ended up going all the way to Yokohama.
It’s a short trip from Chiba.
It’s a little early for lunch, so we decided to go for a stroll. We were having a small discussion on where to go while looking at free pamphlets.
「Usually people go to Motomachi and Chinatown. It’ll feel like we’re going to China, so it’s a win.」
「Oh, you can’t go wrong with Yamashita Park or Oka Park either. I’m kinda interested in the foreigners’ cemetery.」
「I wanna go to Hakkeijima Sea Paradise.」
「That’s a little far though.」
「I figured. What about you, Mizuhara?」
「Tianjin Roasted Chestnuts.」
After spending some time chatting idly, we decided to take a walk in Yamashita Park and have lunch in Chinatown.
We randomly entered a restaurant without looking it up, but it was intense.
The mapo tofu, meat buns, and chili lobster were all delicious.
I looked at the menu for desserts and immediately decided on the annin tofu.
The Chinese dishes were tasty, but we were a little iffy on the desserts. We gobbled down the sesame dumplings, so it was a little hard to finish everything else.
Chii-chan was full, so she passed on dessert. Arioka-senpai and I had annin tofu. Mizuhara had buns filled with sweet bean paste.
I tried some of it, but my only thought was that it was sweet.
My stomach was bloated, so I drank some Chinese tea and stopped eating.
It was a little relaxing.
「By the way, Noda. What happened between you and Michel?」
Arioka-senpai broke the peace and quiet. I almost spat out my tea.
I held a tissue paper to my mouth so I wouldn’t make a mess. I looked at him, who seemed to be overcome with curiosity.
「……How much do you know in the first place?」
「Hm? I don’t know the details. I only heard that Michel confessed to you, and that you turned him down. By the way, here’s the report from Michel. I won’t give up. That’s what he said.」
Arioka-senpai said without hesitation. I wasn’t used to such things, so I felt a little embarrassed. I could feel my face turning red.
I wondered why he wasn’t surprised that Michel liked me. How did he even know that I rejected Michel in the first place?
I, for one, was rather shocked.
I told him that, and he said:
「I knew that he liked you long ago.」
Again, he didn’t seem surprised.
I’m the one who was shocked.
「But I didn’t expect that you would reject him. I thought he was special to you.」
He was spot on.
Michel was special to me.
But that special feeling had changed into something different.
I remembered his sad look, and felt a little depressed.
I still liked him, just in a different way. I wish I could reciprocate his feelings.
As I was mulling over the situation, Arioka-senpai messed with my hair.
「You need not get depressed. Wouldn’t you say it was a good experience, both for you and for Michel?」
For once, he encouraged me instead of making fun of me or the situation.
I thought he was mature in cases like this. I nodded in agreement.
「Don’t be fooled, Saa-chan. This guy is less mature than you think.」
Chii-chan looked at Arioka-senpai in complete disbelief.
What is she talking about?
「You never noticed at all, but Arioka-kun’s approach toward Michel-kun has been detrimental.」
I looked at the culprit, who began to whistle while looking away from us.
Judging from his response, I began to wonder if what she said was true.
But wait, did something like that happen before? I couldn’t remember anything that seemed to match her claim.
「Michel is the perfect prince after all. I simply thought that you weren’t a good match for each other.」
「……Well yeah, it’s not like I’m a princess or anything……」
「What I meant to say is, he’s a good man.」
I had no clue what he was trying to say. Arioka-senpai explained his case.
「For instance, let’s say that you, Kinoshita-san, and all the other club members are about to fall off a cliff. Seeing that, Michel would go straight to Kinoshita-san and reach out for her first. It’s not an issue about who’s the most important to him, but who seems the weakest. That is his overall reasoning.」
I don’t even want to imagine the club members groaning while hanging off a cliff.
Leaving that aside, what’s wrong with Michel’s decision?
If I were in his situation, I would choose Kinoshita-san too.
「Why wouldn’t he? I would climb all the way up the cliff and help Kinoshita-san too.」
「Why are you starting from the bottom, Saa-chan?」
Among all of them, I would choose Kinoshita-san without a second thought.
「In terms of aiding the weak, he scores full points as a prince. However, I don’t think that’s what a man would do.」
I didn’t quite understand what he was saying, besides the fact that he seems to think that a good man is motivated by what’s important to him, rather than who’s the weakest.
It was too deep for me.
「But Michel has indeed become a good man. It seems that he hasn’t given up on you, and he may even be able to touch your heart in a few years.」
Saying that, Arioka-senpai looked at Mizuhara, who was busy taking photos of mooncakes on his phone.
「What would you have done, Mizuhara?」
He was of course referring to the cliffhanger situation.
Mizuhara checked his photos.
「I would run to you and simply watch you.」
He said he would watch Arioka-senpai die.
That was an unexpected choice. There was complete silence for a second or two.
「……Are you still upset, Mizuhara?」
Arioka-senpai had tried to eat Mizuhara’s madeleines. Maybe he was still angry with him.
He was always one to hold a grudge.
「It’s your fault for trying to take his snacks.」
It wasn’t the first time Arioka-senpai did it, so I reproached him. His response was the same as before.
「Hold, Noda-kun. I have something to say as well.」
He was making up an excuse again, just like the first time.
He said that few months before, Mizuhara and Arioka-senpai went for a vehicle inspection together.
Even now, I still can’t tell if their relationship was good or bad.
「Both Mizuhara and I bought a car at the same time, remember? We had the same schedule for our vehicle inspection as well. I asked my friend for a discount since he works there and we had two cars. Furthermore, I told him that I was just an average employee and didn’t have much pay. He gave us as much of a discount as he could.」
「Ehh…… I feel deeply sorry for the dealer.」
Arioka-senpai is persistent, so his friend must have held a grudge.
「No no, it wasn’t just due to my efforts. Mizuhara’s psychological attacks were rather effective as well.」
Arioka-senpai seemed deeply impressed by Mizuhara.
I definitely don’t want to negotiate with these two guys.
Mizuhara proved that his psychological attacks were effective during the cookie sale at the school festival. I pitied the dealer even more.
「It was at that time. Mizuhara-kun was holding a butter sandwich cookie that looked delicious. I snatched it and said playfully that I was going to eat it. To my surprise, he showed a lack of response. How lonely I felt…」
「You were being childish again……」
Even then, he ate the butter sandwich cookie.
「Well, I was shocked, but I thought his lack of reaction was weird. I ate it for real, but he still showed no reaction. How sad I was…」
I imagined him eating the cookie.
There’s a childish part of him that messes with people because he wants a response. Showing a lack of response is the most fitting way to deal with it.
「I was curious about his uncommon reaction. Mizuhara-kun brought a bag of marmalade today, so I tried it again, but he retaliated quickly before I could finish talking. Unlike before, he seemed extremely irritated. And now he says he’s going to run to me, just to watch me fall off the cliff.」
In other words, he snatched Mizuhara’s snacks to get a reaction from him.
But I made these madeleines at Mizuhara’s request. No doubt he was still angry.
「He didn’t mean any harm.」
「If he did, I would have stepped on his hands.」
「Mizuhara-kun, Saa-chan, what would you do if both of you were there?」
Mizuhara and I looked at each other.
「Does she need me? I would have confirmed that she had climbed up first, then gone to Arioka-san.」
「They’re fine on their own, so I would climb up without worrying about them.」
Just like that, we made idle chat once again. Some time had passed, so we decided to continue walking around Yokohama.
We explored Chinatown, shopping at the Red Brick Warehouse. In the evening, we went up the observation deck of Sky Garden at Landmark Tower.
I was excited about getting a 180º panoramic view, but the others didn’t seem too interested. Chii-chan and Arioka-senpai said:
「We’re going to get a round of drinks.」
They went to the Sky Bar.
We had paid so much to go up there, and they could have gotten a drink somewhere else anyway. But it was a bar with a night view of the city, so it may have been enjoyable in its own right.
「Hey, Mizuhara. Look there. It’s the Tokyo Tower.」
He had a tolerance for alcohol, but he wasn’t interested in the Sky Bar, so he watched the view with me.
「Ohh, you can see the SkyTree too!」
I pointed at whatever I saw, but Mizuhara was looking at me.
「Do you like such things?」
That was unexpected.
Maybe it was partly because I didn’t have much of an opportunity to be there, but I also think it’s interesting to see something that you usually can’t.
I dragged Mizuhara along, getting excited upon seeing buildings that I knew about, like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office and the Bay Bridge.
I only noticed after a long time.
Mizuhara wasn’t wearing glasses. He couldn’t see the view at all.
「I see. Even with glasses, your eyesight isn’t as good as mine.」
He couldn’t enjoy it if he couldn’t see it.
The other two said that they were only getting one round of drinks, but they hadn’t shown up yet. I wondered if they were still drinking, and asked Mizuhara if he wanted to go to the bar.
「It’s okay. It’s not like I’m not enjoying it.」
「I thought you couldn’t see?」
It didn’t look like he was able to see what I was pointing at, but since he said himself that it was okay, I continued enjoying the view with him.
In the end, Chii-chan and Arioka-senpai didn’t return until closing time, so Mizuhara and I walked round and round the observation deck the entire time.
Our trip to Yokohama lasted late into the night. We went home greatly satisfied.