During lunch break that day, an event that I had assumed but did not want to have happen happened.

“Um, …… Sugino-kun, I just need a minute of your time.”

Just like yesterday, Saejima came out of the door.
What was different was her attitude and facial expression.

I could feel that Saejima was sorry. By the way, Kohinata was pecking at the lunch box she brought with her while being adored by her classmates.

“…… Haa.”

Not that I forgave Saejima, but that was a misunderstanding to begin with. I don’t doubt her desire to protect Kohinata.

I honestly didn’t feel like talking to her, but I felt bad about ignoring her.
So, I gave Keiichi the heads-up and asked him to take care of it. I was busy with my onigiri (rice ball).

“Saejima, what do you want with Tomoki?
“Ka, Karakusa-kun! Why are you here?!”
“Because this is my seat. I mean, I was here yesterday too.”
“Oh, that’s right,……, I didn’t notice because I had my back against the wall – so I want to apologize to Sugino-kun for what I said yesterday,…….”

Saejima asks Keiichi with a raised eyebrow, “Is it no good?”
Since they are in different classes, it wouldn’t have been a problem to leave them alone, but they are so disciplined. It’s probably because of that sense of justice that she acted the way she did.

I kept her out of my sight as much as possible and looked down at the screen of my phone before chewing the rice. Today’s ingredient is plum. It’s sour.

“Tomoki, can I talk to you briefly?”

I nodded, keeping my eyes on my phone. I feel like a little sunburned.

“Saejima, Tomoki doesn’t like girls.”

I almost blurted out rice. I know he said he was going to talk lightly, but he was going to be too brief about a lot of things.

“Well, I’ve heard a few rumors about that. …… I knew Sugino-kun likes boys–“
“Not! Don’t get me wrong, Saejima! It’s going to be another weird rumor!”

I couldn’t help but interject. The leap of the story is amazing. Why does ‘hating girls = liking boys’? Is your head in a flower garden?

I mean, what do you mean by ‘I knew it’? What? Is there already such a rumor?

“I-I’m sorry! I misunderstood something again.”

Saejima put her hand over her mouth and moved her eyes impatiently.

I could have asked Keiichi to explain, but I had a feeling that the conversation was going to take a strange turn, so I had no choice but to join in the conversation.
Keiichi, don’t tell me you didn’t anticipate this and invite me to make a mistake like that. ……? This guy could do it.

It took me and Keiichi five minutes to explain the situation to Saejima.

“So, I have a physical ailment when girls talk to me vigorously. It might be similar to a fear of heights or something like that. That’s why I don’t like Saejima who talks a lot. I threw up a lot yesterday, and to be honest, I’m still a little uncomfortable.”

Saejima, perhaps feeling the pain of being called “bad at it” to her face, raises her eyebrows with a face as if she were about to cry. She rubbed her eyes with the sleeve of her uniform and then opened her mouth.

“So you’re saying that Sugino-kun tried to talk to Asuka in order to move on, but I got in the way, and in turn, rekindled the trauma. ……?”
“That’s exactly right.”

keiichi says directly

I could sense a little bit of a thorn in his tone, so I guess he was a little angry with her.
Saejima looks even more depressed, so I decide to give Saejima a little help. I can’t watch this.

“So, this is not only Saejima’s problem, this is my problem too. It’s also true that we had a confrontation in elementary school that became a rumor. …… I’d appreciate it if you’d leave me out of it, since I don’t need to worry about yesterday’s incident. No need to go out of your way to tangle with someone you’re not compatible with, right? Dogs and monkeys are happier living in separate places.”

I said to her, comparing usto a dog and a monkey, but Saejima didn’t say a word.
Keiichi also looked somewhat bitter. I think we’ve come to an agreement, but I wonder if it wasn’t a good result for him.

“There’s no more time to eat. Go home go home”

I gesture to Saejima as if to shake her off. She put her hand on the door and muttered a small “I’m sorry” before walking out of the classroom.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

“I have a guilty conscience too, you know.”

While playing video games in the apartment, I repent to Keiichi, who is standing next to me. The topic of discussion was the conversation with Saejima during lunch break.

“If you’re going to feel guilty, you shouldn’t have been so cold,”
“Coldness is just fine. I don’t want to get involved.”
“I understand how you feel, but what would you do if you went out in the world and your boss was someone you didn’t like?”
“I’ll just get over it ………….”
“That’s a very unrealistic answer.”
“Shut up.”

I work on my days off at a coffee shop about 15 minutes away by bicycle.
I work as a waiter in the hall and have no problems. There are not many customers, and even on weekends, when I hope to attract more customers, there is only one staff member in the hall. My main jobs are cleaning and talking to the manager.

This is fine for now, but I know I will have to improve it someday.
I also know that I can’t keep this disadvantage forever.
That is why I approached Kohinata that day and obeyed Saejima’s call.

While I was staring at the large “GAME OVER” message on the TV screen, Keiichi called out to me, “Hey, you know what?” His gaze remained fixed on the screen.

“Hey, why don’t you let me take care of it? I won’t make things worse.”
“What is it? You’re going to guard me like Saejima?”
“Well, well, that’s just for fun.”
“……, you’re not thinking of anything strange, are you?”
“I’m always thinking of Tomoki first!”
“It’s statements like that that give people the wrong impression about you! You’re a standout, so plan what you’re going to say!”

I’m getting goosebumps even though I’m not even facing the girls.
What in the world is this guy trying to do ……?

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