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https://kakuyomu.jp/works/16817330662545387095/episodes/16817330665554580119

We left Ishihara, who had suddenly fled, alone and proceeded along the approach to the shrine.

The approach to the shrine was so crowded with worshippers that we could not even see the front of the line.

“Hey, I heard there is a tea shop there. Let’s take a break after praying.”

“Dumplings and green tea? They look delicious.”

“It looks so good. Let’s all stop by later !”

After 30 minutes of chatting and waiting, the temple grounds finally came into view.

After cleansing our hands at the hand-watering fountain, we proceeded to the hall of worship, threw in some money, and clapped our hands in the air.

I wished for Ari san to pass the entrance exam….

This was supposed to be the only thing I wished for.

But the sarcasm that Ishihara said to me stuck in my head and made me think twice about it.

In my mind, Ari san’s success comes first. I’m not lying about that.

However, because of Ishihara’s sarcasm, I suddenly began to reflect on myself.

I felt terribly frustrated that he had made fun of me.

In other words, it was proof that I was not satisfied with myself.

Until recently, I had the title of [guitarist of Lyconess.]

I could stand on stage, be the center of attention, and be a hero, even if only for a short time.

I was an expressive person who was chasing his dreams.

I liked myself like that.

Of course I did. Otherwise, I couldn’t think of songs for the band day in and day out, or practice with sore fingertips.

Of course, I love music. At the same time, I like being noticed and recognized by others.

So what about myself now?

I’m just a college student. I’m just an ordinary guy who is about to turn 20 years old walking around the neighborhood.

Hmmm……boring. Is that what I want to do with my life?

A college student is a prelude to becoming a member of society, a status that allows them to have some free time. It would be a waste to just waste time in disappointment because your dreams have been dashed. Then, as Ishihara says, I should devote myself to study or job hunting, but that is not like me.

If I take away the guitar, I feel like there is nothing left. So I have no choice but to take the guitar.

But what will I do if I take the guitar away….

Form a band again?

With whom?

I’ve never thought of playing with anyone other than Yua and Nobuhiko, so I can’t picture myself on stage with anyone else at all.

I think again.

I loved Lyconess.

I loved being on stage as the guitarist of Lyconess and being cheered by the audience.

Then, now I am……

Do I hate myself now that I am no longer a member of Lyconess, that Yua dumped me, and that I don’t play guitar anymore?

It’s not that I don’t like myself. I like myself more than I thought I would. Even though I quit the band, I still have fun every day.

But I still feel like something is missing.

I’m busy tutoring Ari san right now, so I’ve forgotten about it, but it doesn’t make up for what I’m missing.

So…..what I’m missing is–

“Hey Kingo, how long are you going to keep praying? You’re putting the other visitors in trouble.”

Ryoko’s exasperated voice pulls me back to consciousness. Before I knew it, Ryoko and the others had finished praying and had left the line. The other worshippers looked at me suspiciously as I was left behind.

“What were you praying so fervently for?”

Ari san asked me as I caught up with her.

“Well, I was praying for your success and…..”

“And?”

“…..I prayed for a fruitful year.”

It’s a reasonable answer, but it doesn’t lie about how I feel.

Once Ari san’s entrance exams are over, I will become just another university student.

That’s not like me.

So I’m going to start something in the spring.

I have no idea what I’m going to do, but it would be a waste to stay still.

“I see. I wish you a good year. I also prayed for your success in college and that you will enjoy your college life.”

“I’m sure it will come true. I’m looking forward to walking around the campus with you.”

“Ehehe, I’m looking forward to it too.”

After that, we decided to go back to the approach from the temple grounds and have a drink at a tea shop.

We enjoyed matcha green tea and dumplings, which are said to be a specialty, and talked about our memories of the New Year.

“Okay, let’s pay the bill. Is it all right if the three of us college students split the bill?”

Ryoko, holding the bill, asked me and Senpai.

“No objection.”

“I’m fine with it too.”

We readily agreed and the conversation was settled. It seemed as if we had.

However, Ari san, who was in the position of being offered a drink, was afraid to object.

“I-I’ll pay for it, too ! I got a New Year’s gift, so I can pay for it !”

“Don’t be so modest, Ari chan. You should be treated by your college student brother and sisters here.”

Ryoko quickly quieted her down, and Ari san stepped back. She was not happy to be treated even though she was the youngest.

Hoping to make her feel better, I said something like this.

“This kind of treatment is only for high school students. When you start college in the spring, you will have to pay your share of the expenses, so you might as well take advantage of it while you still can.”

High school students and college students have different financial capabilities. So it doesn’t hurt or itch to treat one person. Of course, this is also because we understand that we are dealing with students preparing for entrance exams, who have a hard time working part-time.

However, once she becomes a university student, she is on equal footing and there is no reason to treat her. Even as a junior student, I can’t buy her a drink.

“I-is that so? Then, thank you for the treat.”

“I’m glad you’re being honest. Getting tutors for free and getting treated dumpling and tea…Ari chan, you’ve got a good senior〜”

“Don’t call yourself a good senior.”

I retort while handing over a thousand yen bill. However, I was conscious that we were doing something good for her. The three of us here are giving their time and money to Ari san.

“Ehehe, I’m happy. Surrounded by such good seniors.”

[ [Ari chan……] ]

Ryoko and Senpai are getting excited. Even I would be impressed if she said something like this with a carefree smile !”

“Ryoko san, Shino san, Kingo. I love you. I can’t wait to be a college student and split the bill with everyone !”

“Thank you, ari san. But splitting the bill is not something to look forward to.”

Ari san, you are a funny girl after all.

After leaving the teahouse, we walked back the way we came while browsing the souvenir shops along the approach.

“It’s an accessory shop. Let’s take a look.”

“Agreed !”

Ari san accepted Ryoko’s invitation with a smile. These two seem to like accessories. Senpai is also very interested in it. They are girls after all.

In contrast to the three of them, who were eagerly looking for things, I was just staring at the display. I have no idea what to look for, since the items are all women’s items, of course. I had been to this kind of store many times with Yua, but as a man, it was not interesting to me.

So I was looking at them with a cold heart, when one item suddenly caught my eye.

It was a hairpin with a cherry blossom design.

I impulsively picked it up and went straight to the cash register to pay for it.

“What, you bought it, too?”

Ryoko asked curiously. I don’t have a girlfriend to give it to, so it was natural for her to look at me that way.

“Yeah, I thought it was for Ari san.

“Oh, me !?”

Ari san was surprised by the sudden nomination.

“Yes. If you don’t mind, I’ll give you this.”

I put a hairpin in Ari san’s palm. She stared at it dumbfounded,

“Cute…….”

She let out a voice.

“It’s a [cherry blossom] wish.”

‘I’m so happy…..”

“Ari chan, shall I put it on for you?”

The hairpins are fastened by Senpai at the position of the bangs. The one point of the cherry blossoms reflecting the sunlight is well suited to the bright atmosphere of Ari san.

“H-how is it? Does it look good on me?”

“It suits you very well.”

“Ehehe, thank you ! I’m going to wear this to the exam !”

I’m glad. Passing the entrance exam and cherry blossoms are a common combination, but it seems to have made her happy.

The university entrance exam will be held soon.

The common exam will be held in about two weeks, and the second exam will be held a month later. Two months of anxiety will begin, but I’m sure Ari san will be fine.

I was relieved and renewed my determination to support her until the end.

“(Damn you, Kobayakawa,……. Look at me. I’ll show you that in the end, the one who studied diligently will win…….)”

“Hmm?”

I suddenly look back at the approach.

“What’s wrong, Kobayakawa kun?”

“No, I just felt a greasy stare……”

Perhaps it was my imagination.

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