The summer was approaching, so the night was getting hot and humid recently.
But I didn't feel hot. Because I was exposed to the freezing glare from the Goddess in front of me.
"Judging from your expression, it's just as I expected, huh?"
"As you expected?"
"I expected that Tokiwagi-san, who avoided me, would finish his part-time job one hour early and immediately go home."
"What a detailed prediction. But you're completely wrong... That's not the reason."
"Is that so?"
It's a lie. Her prediction was spot on. Amazing.
"First, may I enter your apartment? If we stay here for long, the ingredients I bought will rot."
I replied briefly and invited Wakamiya inside. Then she started putting the ingredients in the refrigerator.
"...I'll pay you later. I feel bad receiving your help all the time."
"We can talk about that at a later date. Rather than that, please sit down," Wakamiya said as she sat down, urging me to sit as well. Obediently, I sat down, facing Wakamiya.
Wakamiya lowered her eyes and took a sip of her tea. Then she began to speak slowly and quietly, "You know why I am angry, right?"
"Yeah, kind of..."
"Is that so... I have many things I want to say to you. However, I think I will do that after listening to Tokiwagi-san. Please tell me what you are thinking. I don't think you will behave like that for no reason."
"I don't really have anything to say, though..."
"You don't need to worry whether you'll hurt my feelings or not. Please don't think of escaping from this."
Wakamiya's eyes seemed to complain, "I won't let you escape until you speak."
So I couldn't run away from this, huh... I took a breath and decided to tell her.
"Let's... stop talking like this starting today."
"Can I ask why?"
"If Wakamiya gets involved with me more than this, people will think that we're dating."
"Is that bad?"
Wakamiya tilted her head as if she couldn't make any sense of my words. Maybe she didn't understand her position and our situation?
"Yeah, that's bad. High school students at our age love the topic of romance more than anything. They'll prey on everyone's compatibility. It's troublesome if they start to misunderstand and question if we're dating or if we're on good terms."
"Wakamiya-san had done so many things for me until now... I can't bother you anymore. So I think you shouldn't speak to me in public."
Rumors quickly spread, even from our small conversation in the lunch break. If this continues, everyone would start to belief on the rumors. Then after it got widely spread, it would be almost impossible to eliminate them.
I had to do something before that happened. That was my decision. I chose the best choice.
"I said this before. I don't mind the rumors, you know?"
"If it's just rumors, then maybe you can just ignore it. But then, you won't like it if people start to ask you directly or act persistently, right? It's also tiring to fuss about them..."
"You're right. I don't like it if people are being persistent..."
"Right? There's also this. For example, there's A-kun here. Let's say one hundred people say, 'A-kun is shit'. But one person doesn't think that he's shit. Even so, it will be reckless for this person to keep saying that 'A-kun is a good guy' since they will challenge the masses of a hundred people. It's impossible to ignore the mayhem of the numbers."
"I see... I guess that also makes sense."
"Yeah, rumors are scary. So we have to cut it off before it's too late..."
To be honest, I had been depending on Wakamiya's kindness too much...
I was used to being alone. I thought I liked being alone, but... unexpectedly, I might have been missing the warmth of other people.
In fact, the last few days had been fulfilling for me.
Before I grew even more spoiled.
Before this feeling became stronger.
Before the misunderstanding accelerated.
Before I became too blissful at her comfort.
I had to cut it off. In order not to regret it later.
"It's a bit disappointing to hear that," Wakamiya muttered, her voice desolate. Then she left her seat and approached me.
"I don't know how I look in Tokiwagi-san's eyes. If you distance yourself because you think that I'm a perfect, unreachable person who is on a different level from you..."
"Huh?" I was puzzled.
Wakamiya clenched her fists.
"I don't like it at all!" Wakamiya protested in an angry tone. It was truly unexpected since she always talked in a monotone voice.
Surprised, my body twitched.
"I'm not perfect at all. I'm just an ordinary girl who is on the same level as Tokiwagi-san. I'm selfish, I care over the particulars, I impose my decision on others, and I hate what I hate."
Wakamiya pulled both of my cheeks. Even if I wanted to say something, I couldn't speak well.
"And I will decide who I'm going to befriend with. I won't let the evaluation of my surroundings or my reputation influence that. I genuinely want to see, talk, and be with you. That's why I'm here."
"Tokiwagi-san, I won't let you forcefully stay away and keep a distance from me. I'll say this first. Please don't think of leaving me and not talking to me for my sake. I don't want that."
"Nhu, bwuu! (No, but!)"
"Still, if Tokiwagi-san is going to change your attitude..."
"I will do this in public. At outside, at school, and of course at your part-time."
Wakamiya wasn't hugging me. Of course, she also didn't try to kiss me.
She only grabbed my sleeve. She looked at me with upturned, teary eyes. Like she was asking for my attention.
I'll honestly say this.
The destructive power was impressive. Wakamiya was usually calm, never bothered with anything.
And now, she showed me this appearance. No, rather than 'showed', it's might be better to say that she 'enchanted' me.
Doing this in public? Then it's the same as giving me a death sentence!!!
Wakamiya gazed at me while grabbing my sleeve, waiting for my reply.
"Ahh! Damn it! Okay, I get it. It's my loss, so stop that... If you do that in front of other people, I... I will die..."
I dropped my shoulders in surrender. My face was hot as if it was burning.
I glanced at Wakamiya. Her cheeks were bright red, and she was smiling with satisfaction.
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