Chapter 10: Sharing

Sharing

The best couple contest was created with the intention of finding the most loving couple in the whole school. Contestants face various challenges, and it’s always a very exciting event. During the process, you tend to see how well some couples get along, while others have some pretty embarrassing fights due to things like forgetting each other’s birthdays.

This year, eight couples will be participating, and two of them are a foursome participating as a joke. Tachibana-san, disguised as a ghost, together with Yoshimi-kun, and me with Hayasaka-san who is disguised as a bear.

But because we were ‘fake’ couples, the audience focused their attention on the real ones. The bittersweet faces of the couples on stage was a very agonizing thing to see, to the point of being creepy, given that they are not the kind of people used to showing their love in public. And to do it so suddenly on a stage full of people must be stressful.

The most surprising thing about this event is that one of the most popular girls in the school, who is a freshman, is participating with a junior. 

Everyone in the audience watched in amazement. Since she was not a girl with a good reputation for being with only one guy, and standing in front of the whole school with an official couple was something never seen before. 

Even the other couples weren’t safe from the gossiping public. To also see girls with great charisma and beauty with guys who normally look boring or uninteresting is something that would leave you speechless and was thus very interesting. 

This could be seen as an example of my hypothesis about cute and striking girls being surprisingly nice to those guys who are the opposite of them. In any case, it gives me a warm feeling to see those kinds of couples. After all, everyone has their own love story.

While I was thinking about this, the president of the festival’s organizing committee announced the start of the contest through a microphone. A loud round of applause broke out at his words.

—The first test of this contest will be a usual compatibility test.

Flip charts and pens are placed on a desk above the stage. Each person holds their own so they can answer the questions and show them to everyone. 

—The first question is… What is the place where the two of you first spent time together?

This question was quite complicated. Hayasaka-san and I have been to many places together, so that makes it difficult for us to get it right.

—Show your answers.

When the time was up, I showed what I had written on the flip chart. I chose “school”, after all, I didn’t know which place to choose… But to my surprise, Hayasaka-san had written “Hakone Hot Springs”.

Damn… That place hadn’t crossed my mind. It was certainly our first trip together when we shot the movie, and it was also where we hit it off the longest as a couple. I guess girls tend to be quite appreciative of first trips and other things like anniversaries.

It was my fault for not being more aware of it. 

But luckily, the rest of the couples didn’t get their answers right either, except for one… And indeed, it was Tachibana-san and Yoshimi-san. Their answer was “in the well”.

The next questions were the same questions Hamanami and I asked as a test with Yanagi-senpai, Tachibana-san and Hayasaka-san in the mystery club.

And the misfortunes between Hayasaka-san and me continued. We couldn’t get any of the questions right. Even though she and I understand each other much better than before, our minds weren’t connected enough to be able to move in the right direction together. I was focusing on giving answers that would suit Hayasaka-san, while she, on the other hand, was doing the same with me. As a result, this crossover of ideas between us came out.

Even though Hayasaka-san and I were having a serious problem agreeing, Tachibana-san and Yoshimi-kun were doing more than fine. They kept getting every single question Maki asked right. Even getting to the point of being the favorite couple to win the contest.

Suddenly I started to hear comments from the audience saying how incompatible I was with my partner. Hayasaka-san, noticing this, raised her whiteboard towards me, writing the word “angry” on it while waving her arms in the air in a chaotic manner. It seemed that she also didn’t like to hear how incompatible we were at all.

—And now, the next test will be a moving confession situation.

The evaluation system for these events will be based on a panel of judges who will give the scores. For this task, the heads of different activities’ departments have been chosen as judges. It doesn’t really matter if they have extensive knowledge about love, or have never experienced it. After all, the goal here is to be able to make even the coldest heart beat. 

—In this section, each couple is asked to recreate a confession scene. Points will be awarded depending on how good the performance was, so give it your best shot!

Each couple will be given a set time in turn to perform their performance. 

The first to pass was the most popular girl from first year. She is part of a light music club, and is also the lead singer of a band that has played at a small venue in town. Since it was an amateur band, usually the members as a whole were other students from the school.

Her beautiful voice echoed throughout the venue. She mesmerized the audience with the lyrics of the song, which she addressed to her dream boy whom she is in love with. 

At the end of her performance, the audience was very excited, everyone applauded loudly at the great show they had just witnessed.

Maki, who was acting as commentator, took the microphone and gave his opinion about the song. I was satisfied with what I had heard, especially surprised by the courage it took the girl to declare herself to someone in that way, and even more so considering that it was in front of the whole school. Since, to the surprise of all of us, they were not a real couple, this was clearly done with the intention to declare they were together as one.

That ended up giving them a lot of points, as it fulfilled one of the key points for this test.

Next was Yoshimi-kun and Tachibana-san’s turn. The two of them are also not dating, so it is very much required for both of them to have a very creative confession scene. 

Yoshimi-kun froze in front of Tachibana-san for a while. Maybe nerves got the better of him, or he didn’t know what to do, although the latter was somewhat hard to believe, since if Tachibana-san is behind this, she should have given him key instructions to follow very carefully. 

But then he bowed his head and spoke with much resignation.

—I can’t do it… There’s someone else I really like, and I can’t confess my feelings to anyone else but her. It doesn’t matter that this is just a game. 

Yoshimi-kun had apologized to Tachibana-san, and to the entire audience present. But his words did not end there.

—I’m someone quite shy, and although I’m always with the girl I like, I haven’t had the courage to tell her how I feel about her. For about ten years now, I’ve acted as if I don’t care about her presence. It’s a pretty stupid thing for me to admit. But being on this stage, and seeing that everyone is taking love very seriously, made me realize that I have to be honest with my feelings too.

Yoshimi-kun started scratching his head, then turned to look at the crowd, probably looking for Hamanami.

—When this contest is over, I’ll tell you what I’ve been keeping quiet for ten years.

—That would be best. I can understand that it was not easy for you to say something even in jest. I know it’s just three words, which at first may sound simple, but you of all people know that it carries great weight and value. Most people here would have said them lightly. But not you. You give importance to that person’s feelings, and that is something worthy of respect.

I think that was the most mature comment I’ve ever heard from Maki. 

In the end, the only ones left to take the test were Hayasaka-san and me.

Hayasaka-san held the board in front of me, and it had the words “be creative” written on it. I guess that would be most appropriate. I don’t have the time to think of romantic situations we’ve been in that are suitable for all audiences. 

I struggled to think hard about a confession that would be awesome, and dramatic at the same time. So, I stood in front of Hayasaka-san on the stage and said with all my might.

—I like you like a bear in spring.

It was a confession taken from a dialogue in the book Tokyo Blues. A beautiful novel written by Haruki Murakami. I’ve always wanted to propose to a girl with those words since high school. As soon as I read that the protagonist complimented his beloved in this way with one of the most fascinating dialogues I’ve ever read, I was completely enchanted.

But despite having fulfilled my greatest wish, it seemed that no one had been pleased by my statement. Unlike the other couples, an awkward silence pervaded the whole place. 

Maki took the microphone between sighs.

—I could fully grasp your intention with those words. But taking the words from a literary work to put them into a confession of love that should be creative makes me lose all enthusiasm. Considering that it’s used in a romantic and tender way in the book, yours felt bland and passionless. I understand how you feel, and your desire to propose to a girl in this way. But doing it in front of an audience is too embarrassing.

I’m aware that I’ve screwed up. Although it was to be expected to some extent, this sort of thing has always been a fatal tendency in me, and there’s no use regretting it now either. I’d like to go home and drink beer until I pass out.

It would also be nice to drink a glass of wine, boil pasta and go looking for cats in the alleys… Of course, this is all in the form of a metaphor… Though I might end up doing it. 

I was trying to escape reality with my imagination, but a tap on my shoulder from Hayasaka-san brought me back to reality. She showed me the whiteboard, it had the words “don’t worry” written on it. 

Not a very pleasant comfort, but still, it’s better than nothing. And as expected, after my pathetic confession, Hayasaka-san and I were in last place.

Tachibana-san and Yoshimi-kun were in first place. They were taking this contest too seriously.

—Yoshimi-kun, what’s up with you and Tachibana-san?

I turned to him from behind his back.

—Nothing, but I want to win.

—And what about Hamanami?

—Everything is still the same, I only have feelings for her. But if I win, I’ll get a kiss from Tachibana-senpai. Tell me, what man in this school doesn’t want that? Anyway… I’ll just tell you what, you should take this more seriously, senpai. Or else I’ll be the one who gets Tachibana-senpai.

So that’s what it’s all about… The snob effect. By following Tachibana-san’s advice to the letter, Yoshimi-kun has successfully managed to attract Hamanami’s attention. Tachibana-san seems to be shoveling the same thing, but with me.

—She asked you to do this, right?

—I’m sorry, senpai. I’ve been indebted to her, so I want to help her. I’m on ‘Team Tachibana’.

He said while scratching his head.

—Don’t apologize to me, but to Hamanami.

It’s not good in the eyes of the public to win a contest like this with a different girl than the one you said you truly love in front of everyone. It goes against the purities of love. However…

—I don’t think ‘good’ and ‘bad’ exist in love. I felt it when I was on stage. Everything seems positive when you fall in love with someone, but it’s not all about that. I know it’s an uncontrollable force, pretty inexplicable, and it makes you do stupid things, like the ones I’m doing now. But all this is because of the love I feel for the girl I really like.

Yoshimi-kun turned around, and looked at the contest couples scattered around the place, and then focused his gaze on the popular first-year girl who sang the song about the one she loves a while ago.

—Look at the girl over there. Everyone at school thought she was selfish, that no one liked her, and that she only played with men’s feelings. But in the end, she had that beautiful feeling deep down inside her, and she let it out in a way that many wouldn’t be able to. That’s what love is all about.

Maybe Yoshimi is right. 

Love is a stark, sometimes violent and inexplicable emotion, so it defies legality, consistency, correctness, and leads us to make a mess of our heads over the person we like. That’s why it’s ephemeral, has a momentary beauty, and people find it a precious thing.

—In a contest where emotions are put to the test, you can’t fail, it’s all or nothing.

—I think you take your sense of sportsmanship pretty far.

—Sort of. Also, I think it’s a bit exciting to be paired with a beautiful girl like Tachibana-senpai in a contest like this.

After that, Yoshimi-kun patted me on the shoulder and went back to Tachibana-san.

While I was thinking about what had just happened, Hayasaka-san tapped my shoulder again, and showed me the board, and on it she wrote “Let’s win.”

—All contestants gather again, let’s start with the next event! It’s time to find out how well you know your partner. Let’s start with the basics, what is your birthday?

For this test it was the girls’ turn to guess things about the boys. So, I proceeded to write my birthday on the paper, and closed it. Hayasaka-san also did the same. 

As soon as we were given the signal to show it, we both opened the paper at the same time, and got the correct answer: April 1.

From that moment on, Hayasaka-san’s intuition awakened again. Every question we were bombarded with, we answered them correctly without missing a single time. I was very surprised that she knew things like the brand of coffee I like, the brand of wallet I use, and even the way I dress when I sleep.

—Okay, let’s move on to the next test. The pairs should write down three things they like about each other.

I thought about the things I liked about Hayasaka-san. It was rather embarrassing as it was the first time I stopped to think about the way I see her. 

For a moment I thought that Hayasaka-san would be in the same situation as me. But what I witnessed with my eyes was something that left me speechless, for she hadn’t stopped at writing three things. 

In fact, she wrote many things that she loved about me, among them was the way I wear my glasses, how unusually big my back is, the way I dress, my skill with my hands, how good I look wearing a tie, the great knowledge I have from reading many books, and something as casual as how I match our walking speed when we walk together…

I didn’t think she would be able to come up with all those qualities about me.

Yoshimi-kun is right, when you like someone, those strong emotions take over you, the passion reaches a point so high that you can easily name a hundred good things about the person you love. Maybe I was still somehow running away from those strong emotions. Maybe I just wanted to get girls to like me in a superficial way, even though deep down I was afraid of it.

I’m afraid to face those feelings. 

Tachibana-san wants to see me lose. She wants to see me struggle not to lose her to someone else. And Hayasaka-san wants to win the contest with me. There is no reason to do one or the other.

If I win, Hayasaka-san and Tachibana-san will be in a good mood at the same time, and Yanagi-sepai will realize that it’s Hayasaka-san who is wearing the costume, so there will be no chance that he’ll suspect my relationship with Tachibana-san.

I want to continue my fleeting love with Tachibana-san for a little longer. And I also don’t want to give up my slightly unhealthy love with Hayasaka-san. Not to mention that I don’t want to ruin my friendship with Yanagi-senpai.

I know, all these thoughts are scummy. Until now I had acted as if nothing was my fault, since Tachibana-san was willing to take responsibility, and also because Hayasaka-san would forgive me no matter what I did. But it’s not like that anymore. If this is the path I choose, then I must take responsibility for my actions.

—Alright, let’s do it Hayasaka-san!

—[Yes!]

The final phase of the contest had begun. The penultimate test was an endurance test. The challenge was to see how long I could hold Hayasaka-san in my arms. Even though she was wearing her costume, we managed to win, and that earns us a lot of points.

—We did it, we’re the winners!

Hayasaka-san was jumping up and down with happiness.

And so, we came to the last test. It was a three-legged race, and the start of it began on the stage, we had to run a lap of several meters, and then return to the stage again. 

A toy gun sounded, and the race started. Yoshimi and Tachibana had a good start. We, on the other hand, fell a little behind. Hayasaka-san stumbled several times on her way down from the stage.

—Are you all right?

Hayasaka-san nodded, and quickly got up. Looking ahead and walking in a synchronized manner, we were able to maintain a good pace. 

Yoshimi-kun and Tachibana-san continued to have a good running pace as well, and left us far behind them. I was surprised at how good the chemistry between the two of them was, and it was something I was very upset about.

But suddenly I began to notice that with every step she took, she was having more difficulty running, apparently due to her long dress. Hayasaka-san and I began to speed up a little more, getting to the point where we could run very naturally.

—Cheer up, Kirishima, you can do it!

In the crowd I could see Yanagi-senpai cheering me on. That’s a good sign. I guess I’m slowly regaining his trust and he won’t be suspicious of me anymore. Will things start to go well from now on?

And in a moment of carelessness, Tachibana-san stepped on the hem of her dress, causing her to trip along with Yoshimi-kun. Given this opportunity, Hayasaka-san and I were able to take the lead without trying harder than necessary.

There was no one in front of us anymore, and we had a clear path to the stage. We cut through the finish tape, and both of us fell on the ground panting. It was a tough competition, but we made it. 

The rest of the couples started to cross the finish line after us. Tachibana-san and Yoshimi-kun were the second to arrive. They seemed to be very sweaty from the race. Tachibana-san’s hair covered her entire face, and she kept panting. 

But it wasn’t until after a few seconds that I noticed something strange. On her feet, she was wearing high clogs. It didn’t make much sense. Since Tachibana-san herself is a tall girl, if she were wearing those kinds of sandals, she would end up being much taller than Yoshimi-kun.

—Who are you?

Yoshimi, realizing that, takes off the wig from the person who was disguised as a ghost, revealing the face of Hamanami.

She looked very embarrassed. I guess it’s normal. After all, she went through so much to get here. 

—Tachibana-senpai had called me from the school megaphone to ask me to dress up as a ghost and participate in the contest with you….

—So that’s what it was… Now it all makes sense. That’s why she told me to think of the ghost as Hamanami.

—Yes…

Now that they know how they feel about each other, they can’t look each other in the eye.

—I want to hear what you wanted to tell me… What you’ve been holding back for ten years.

—Oh, that… I’m so ashamed…

What a frustrating situation, these guys are hopeless… Wait a minute! If Hamanami is the ghost, then where is Tachibana-san?

I slowly turned to the stage in great fear, and looked at the person in the bear costume still struggling to breathe. As she stood there leaning forward, the bear’s head slowly slid off until it fell to the ground.

And the person who appeared was… Tachibana-san. She was drenched in sweat, and her wet hair was stuck to her cheeks. Then, after taking a breath she said.

-…We won.

**********************

The audience around us went crazy when they realized that the girl inside the costume was Tachibana-san. And that made the audience recognize both of us as real sweethearts.

Now that I think back, during the test where we had to mention three things we liked about each other, Hayasaka-san had written a hundred compliments that most of us hadn’t even experienced together. But they were all things I’d experienced with Tachibana-san. 

Between gasps Tachibana-san continued speaking

—…..We are the best couple… Shiro-kun.

The look on her face was worrying, as if he was about to faint at any moment. But she also had a look of excitement and self-satisfaction. How ironic. I tried so hard to make everything go my way, but I didn’t take into account Tachibana-san’s cunning mind. My perfect plan fell apart.

Tachibana-san attacked from all sides. During the bear costume change rotating among various students, she intercepted the person who would wear it after Hayasaka-san. Then, she had Hamanami wear high clogs so as not to arouse suspicion when she would be the one to disguise herself as a ghost in the contest.

She also probably intended to hide her identity with the bear costume then leave without anyone knowing, taking the souvenir she wanted so badly. But what she didn’t count on was that her plans might be undermined by her own sense of stupidity.

—Tachibana-san, you should take it easy.

—…Shiro-kun… We did it… We defeated them all.

—Yes, we did it, but you should calm down. 

—…We’re the best couple… No one can beat us.

Tachibana-san seemed to completely ignore my words. She was intoxicated by the moment of happiness she was experiencing.

She proceeded to remove her torso from her costume, then slowly stood up. I guess I should have suspected it earlier. Hayasaka-san would never have been able to move so nimbly inside that costume, let alone guess what kind of clothes I would wear to bed.

But that wasn’t the issue now. The crowd of people were demanding that we kiss. I tried to draw a line between us, and prevent it.

But Tachibana-san approached me without caring about the consequences it might trigger.

—Tachibana-san, I don’t think we should do it.

—You’re mine, and I’m yours, Shiro-kun. It’s our time.

—Come to your senses.

—It’s just you and me, and no one else.

—I know, I know, I know, but I think—… 

—Shh…

Before I could say anything else, Tachibana-san hugged me, and caused me to lose my balance, and I fell backwards on the stage, causing her to be on top of me, and then kissed me on the lips.

Shouts of outrage from all sides rose skyward from the people present. Tachibana-san was completely aroused, and continued kissing me to the point of sticking her tongue in my mouth. A rather lewd act that could only be committed in privacy. But no, she did it in front of everyone.

After all, that was the feeling of love that had taken hold of her. An uncontrollable force that she was at the mercy of. As Tachibana-san continued to kiss me, I caught a piercing glare directed at me from the front row.

It was Hayasaka-san, who had an expressionless face.

************************

—I’m sorry.

—No need to apologize.

I was walking out of school with Tachibana-san. After the school festival was over, I stayed late cleaning up, but it got so late that it was already dark. I was met with the unexpected surprise that she was waiting for me at the exit. 

—While I was waiting for you, people started talking about me as soon as they saw me. 

—Something similar happened to me. 

When I was helping to dismantle the stage, I received congratulations from a lot of people, mixed with a lot of coldness. From now on, to the public eye, Tachibana-san and I are officially sweethearts, and it’s something no one will ever get out of their heads.

—I really didn’t mean for any of this to happen, I didn’t want to take off my disguise.

—I know.

—What will happen from now on?

—I don’t know.

All the plans I had with Tachibana-san and Hayasaka-san have been reduced to nothing. Yanagi-senpai didn’t say anything about it. He merely watched us from a distance, then lowered his gaze and walked away. 

This unprecedented change doesn’t only affect me, but also Tachibana-san’s personal life. But in spite of that, she seems very calm.

—I don’t care. I’m happy with this.

—Why do you say that? 

—Because I don’t have to lie to anyone anymore. I don’t have to hide the fact that I like you.

After all, it was me who pushed Tachibana-san to this point. I had forced her to do things that didn’t suit her. That tension led to this breakdown.

—I just hurt two people…

—Me too. 

—Even if they point the finger of blame at us, I wouldn’t be able to say anything to defend myself… Although I guess it can’t be helped.

—So, no hard feelings, huh.

—Maybe.

I was immersed in this situation, feeling like I’m all alone in the world with the most perfect girl I’ve ever met. But, after hurting so many people, we don’t know what to do, we can only walk side by side.

The only hand I can hold now is hers, and vice versa. Somehow, I feel like we’ve taken giant strides to the end of the road.

—Shiro-kun.

Tachibana-san stops when she reaches the square in front of the station. Beyond the calm area was a woman. It turned out to be Hayasaka-san, who then approached us.

—Kirishima-kun… Tachibana-san….

The tone of her voice was reserved, and she continued to have the same expression as before.

—You two… You’ve been doing this for a long time without me knowing about it… Right?

—I’m sorry…

I thought Hayasaka-san would be deeply hurt, angry and sad. However, when she raised her face again. None of those feelings were reflected in her. Somehow, she had the air of someone feeling embarrassed and shy.

—Hey… Let’s go for the middle ground.

—Huh?

—This request is not for you, Kirishima-kun.

Hayasaka-san turned her attention to Tachibana-san.

—Hey, Tachibana-san… Is it okay if you share Kirishima-kun with me?

No… No way… This is something unreal. Tell me it’s some kind of joke. Just the idea of two girls sharing the same guy is something so absurd. I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of relationship this would turn out to be.

After a few seconds, Tachibana-san broke the silence.

—Okay. From now on, Shiro-kun is ours.

 

End of Volume 2…

I’m fine with being the second girlfriend

I’m fine with being the second girlfriend

わたし、二番目の彼女でいいか
Score 8
Status: Ongoing Author: Artist: Released: 2021 Native Language: Japanese

Kirishima and Hayasaka are two classmates who have a secret relationship in public.

In their school life they pretend that they don't know each other, but behind the scenes there is much more to them than people can imagine. The two get into a relationship that is difficult to break and ends up being impure, unhealthy, and complicated, as the relationship between them was nothing more than an affair that simply created a love triangle before Kirishima's first love and his second love.

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