“Yah-hoo. Nice to meet you, Ito-kun⭐︎”

Nakashiro gave me Okai-san’s contact information, and I immediately sent her a line that evening.

The current time was 23:00.
The reason it took me a little longer to send the line is because I kept typing, erasing, and repeating what I was going to send.

Sending a line to a girl I haven’t talked to much is somewhat nerve-wracking.
Furthermore, the situation of asking about another girl also added to the difficulty of sending the line.

However, even though I managed to acknowledge the line and send it, it took me less than a minute to receive a simple reply.

I couldn’t help but wonder what that time was …….

Then, just as I was wondering how to continue, I received a phone call.
The caller was, of course, Okai-san.
Her energy was tremendous.

I coughed lightly and picked up the call.

“I heard from Nakashiro~. He said you’re worried about Suika! Kyaaaaa!!”

Without any time for me to speak at the opening, a noisy voice came from the speaker.

It’s loud …….
Moreover, it was said with some kind of implication. What is it exactly that you’re concerned about? Nakashiro, you didn’t breathe anything strange into her, did you?

“No, um, Okai-san? You must have misunderstood something.”
“Hmph. Do not say that to everyone. I know what I’m talking about. Leave it to me!”
“No, I’m sure you’re misreading something!? I’m worried!”
“It’s all right, it’s all right! You’re worried about Suika, aren’t you? Nakashiro told me about it.”
“…… Well, I hope you’re listening to me.”

I wonder if he’s …… telling the truth?
I am a little anxious about it.

“Yes, that”
“It’s true that Suika has been acting weird lately. Should I say she is preoccupied or something? As Nakashiro said, I wondered if she was worried about the tournament, but that was the only time she wasn’t feeling well. It seems that the person herself was blown away, though…”
“Is that so from Okai san’s point of view? You mean something else is bothering her?”
“Yeah, something like that. And yet, she’s more focused than usual on her club activities. too much to be afraid of. So I somehow think it’s something related to club activities, but she won’t tell me even if I ask her. I’m shocked.”

I can sense a sense of concern from Okai-san.
She must be really good friends with Suika.

“Well, if it’s about something related to club activities, isn’t it hard to talk about it since you guys are in the same club?”
“Maybe. Suika doesn’t talk about this kind of things with others.”

As far as Okai-san told me, it seems that Suika is definitely worried about something.
IIs it also about club activities? If the competition isn’t the reason, then what is it?

“Well, you know. I don’t know if I can help you with that, so if you want, Ito-kun, you can help me too.”
“That’s fine, ……, but even if I cooperate. What can I do?”

What did I want in the first place? Fujibayashi asked me to do it, but I was worried about Suika, who simply said she wasn’t feeling well. that’s all.
I had vaguely thought about asking her about her problems, but I hadn’t thought beyond that.
I was just thinking about what to do. ……This is why even Yuri calls me half-heartedly kind.

“If it’s a problem in the club, I don’t think it’s right for me, an outsider, to get involved.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. it’s not a matter of club activities, just refresh Suika and that’s all you need to do.”
“Yes, yes. These days, she’s been playing basketball for a long time. She needs to be refreshed once in a while.”
“Isn’t that what always happens?”
“That’s not always the case! I think it’s necessary to get away from club activities once in a while. Even on days off from practice, she even goes to the park to play basketball.”

What is it that drives her so much? What drives her to such an extent?

“So, what should I do?”
“Well, you should take her to play with you on the Saturday after practice.”
“For fun? Is that what you want? I mean, isn’t …… club activities?”
“Of course, Saturday is morning practice. So it’s in the afternoon!”
“It’s hard …… at the end of club activities, but it’s quirky for the two of us to be alone. ……”

Even though we played basketball together, I don’t think we’re close enough to go out alone. I don’t mind, but I don’t know what the other side thinks.
“Well, it’s true that if it’s just the two of you, there’s a chance that you’ll be refused, so we all do it together! But I don’t think she’ll feel comfortable if it’s just the members of the basketball team, so that’s where Ito kun comes in.”
“I see. ……? But even if Suika and Okai-san are fine, won’t I float among the other members of the basketball club? 

In a way, this is what worries me the most. The last time the boys came to our store with Suika and the others, they seemed strangely hostile to me. I mean, the boys and girls may have different practice times, so should I worry about that?

“I’ll think of the members and leave it to me!”

I have nothing but anxiety. I can’t imagine any other member I wouldn’t have to worry about. Well, there’s no use in saying no here.
So I decided to take Okai-san’s suggestion and go out with Suika and her friends for the upcoming vacation.

“But well I knew it …….”
“You’re really into Suika, aren’t you?”
“Eh, You like Suika, don’t you? So, you’re trying to somehow, somehow get information from the friend of the person you like like like this and do something about it, right? I heard that from Nakashiro. It’s love, isn’t it?”
“……? Ito-kun?

Look, it’s coming through in a weird way!
He did it again!

“No, it’s not that I like her or anything, …… it’s just that I’m worried about her, purely as a friend.”
“Well, I’ll just leave it at that~. It’s getting late, so I’m going to bed.”

I tried to stop her, but the sound of the phone disconnecting came through the speaker.

Nakashiro Bastard…… You did it, didn’t you……?

After that, I sent a reminder to Okai san that Suika was just a friend, just to be sure.

But all I got back was a stamp that sounded like the cat was up to something.

Damn. This is definitely a weird misunderstanding. ……
I-it’s a pain in the ass …….

I got tired of thinking about it, so I threw my phone on the bed and went to sleep that day.

“Haa …… tired ……”

I, Takimoto Suika, lay down on my bed and buried my face in the pillow.

Recently, I have been coming home late because I keep practicing on my own until the gym closes after club activities.
After practice, I would shower, eat dinner, and go to bed.
Such was my daily routine.

But that was not enough for me to get better. I had to practice more and more to catch up with him.

Next Saturday, I would practice only in the morning, and if the gym was open at noon, I would practice there as well. If it’s not available, I guess I’ll go back to the usual park. ……

“Ah, sleepy …….”

And while I was thinking about this, I was about to slowly fall asleep, when the electronic sound of my phone woke me up.

“……What, already …….”

I took a deep breath and picked up the phone on my bedside table.
It was a message from Natsu.

“This Saturday, let’s go out this afternoon!”
“……That’s sudden, Natsu, that’s unusual. You are so energetic to go out after morning practice. …… But I refuse. I need to practice more.”

As I was thinking about how to refuse, the message continued:

“Ah, let me tell you, you have no right of veto! I’ve told Ito-kun that Suika is coming too!’
“Oh, Arase-kun! Why is Arase-kun …… and she says no veto,……mouu natsu….”

What’s going on ……? Why Natsu and Arase-kun? When in the world did they become friends?

“Nn~? What should I do ……?”

As I was thinking about the wording of my refusal, I was once again struck by sleepiness and closed my eyes without replying refusal.

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