Chapter 9: Making a choice

Making a choice

It is December twenty-fifth in the afternoon. 

I was wearing a coat, jeans and white sneakers. It was very cold, and my ears hurt every time the wind blew, which is a strange thing, since the sky is clear and there is no sign of snow.

In both hands I carried two paper bags, each had the Christmas gifts I chose together with my sister. For Hayasaka-san I had bought gloves, and for Tachibana-san, a scarf. It was really not complicated at all to choose the gifts, the sales clerk was the one who chose the gifts for me, as my sister advised me that it would be better for me to play it safe and not to buy something so complex.

Tachibana-san had been absent from school for several days due to her upcoming piano recital of which today is the last day. I’m a little worried about what I might encounter, Yanagi-senpai didn’t seem to be particularly interested in taking steps to get closer to her since she decided to invite me to the party after all. 

But surely something must have changed in Tachibana-san’s feelings during this time. And if that wasn’t enough, Hayasaka-san said that today would be our last day to be together.

I was supposed to spend the whole day with Hayasaka-san today, but she told me that we could meet in the afternoon, as she had to work half a day at her job. To my surprise, she was in the same mood as usual, it was as if she was not bothered by the fact that today would be our last day. She also stopped accepting invitations from every boy who approached her to go out with her. It was as if the old Hayasaka-san had returned. And of course, that made me very happy, it was like seeing the sun rise after a whole cloudy day. 

I headed towards the hotel where Tachibana-san’s recital would be. I had no intention of going, I didn’t want to give Yanagi-senpai the pleasure of showing up in an environment that is clearly not designed for me. But still, I made the decision to attend not because of me, but because I wanted to make Tachibana-san happy. She had been depressed due to the fact that we couldn’t spend Christmas together, so giving her a surprise visit and delivering my gift would surely lift her spirits.

And before heading to such a place, I had something important to do first. Hamanami had contacted me to help her find a gift for Yoshimi-kun. Because he was busy with his basketball team practice, he and Hamanami will celebrate this day tomorrow.

After helping to choose a suitable gift for her crush. Hamanami wanted to accompany me to the hotel to deliver my gift to Tachibana-san. For some reason, she thought it was a bad idea to let me go alone to a place like that.

—Kirishima-senpai, are you sure you want to do this? These kinds of social gatherings are not meant for you.

—I have no choice.

The train stopped at a station in the center of the city. We followed the directions on the invitation given to me by Yanagi-senpai, and it took us to an area of the city so elegant that it made me wonder if there was no other place in this country that was so quiet and clean.

After walking for several minutes, we arrived at the hotel just at dusk. We approached the entrance and in front of us beams a beautiful gold logo. I had my doubts whether this was the right place. The whole atmosphere was so tense that it made me doubt if I did the right thing in coming here. 

A black car pulled up in front of us, and one of the employees rushed over and opened the car door. A man got out of the vehicle with a wheeled suitcase and looked at us sideways.

It was the first time I had ever felt contempt through a look.

I thought nothing of it and proceeded into the lobby. What caught my eye was a large chandelier hanging from the top of the ceiling, and the marble that stretched across the entire expanse of the place. I walked towards the grand staircase in the foyer that led to the second floor, the dense red carpet that covered it was to such an extent, that with each step I felt how it absorbed my feet. 

Once I reached the second floor, I stumbled upon what appeared to be Tachibana-san’s meeting, it seemed to have already started, and the feeling of nerves once again took over my body and mind. I tried to go straight into the room, however, one of the hotel staff stopped me and gave me directions to where the checkroom was. 

I had a lot of items with me, so it was expected for me to leave some of my belongings behind for a bit. I left Hayasaka-san’s gift, along with the gift Hamanami bought for Yoshimi-kun, I only kept Tachibana-san’s gift and proceeded to enter.

—Senpai, these people look so elegant… And you look like a tramp.

—Hamanami, you look just as good as me too.

The room where the meeting was taking place was not as spacious as I would have imagined. The size was modest, as was its decorations that stood out, but even so, it still gave the impression of being a very luxurious place. 

The entrance was decorated with lots of glass that shone against the light, the cooks were preparing the dishes in an open kitchen, so the guests could witness the whole process of how the food was cooked, and all of this accompanied with a view of the illuminated garden.

—Hey, Senpai, isn’t that Tachibana-senpai? — Hamanami asked, pointing to where the piano was. 

In a corner of the room, there was a grand piano, and Tachibana-san was posing in front of it while surrounded by some friends chatting and laughing. Because of the charismatic attitude she had here, I doubted for a second if it was really her. She was wearing her hair up, and a beautiful elegant black dress with lace around her shoulders. She looked like a very mature woman.

—They all look very classy.

Hamanami looked at her outfit. Hamanami herself was clearly not dressed for the occasion, she was just wearing normal clothes that anyone would wear to go shopping with a friend. I don’t blame her for feeling like she didn’t fit in this environment, I felt the same way too.

—I think your sweatshirt is very colorful and stylish, Hamanami.

—No need to try to praise me, Senpai…. We’d better give her the gift and go home.

—I agree with you.

As I was about to approach her. Tachibana-san sat on the piano chair, and started to play the keys in a playful manner, and immediately a girl who seemed to be her friend sat next to her and they began playing as a duet.

I could observe Yanagi-senpai in the distance, who looked very stylish, he had a smile on his face, and he looked proud.

While we were watching Tachibana-san and her friend playing the piano, another conversation was coming to our ears from a man and a woman standing near us. The topic in question was about how they were planning to spend the New Year’s holidays abroad.

I never thought about how expensive it would be to spend a few days away from Japan just to enjoy some time with your partner.

The longer I stayed in this place, the more I began to feel uncomfortable. I looked at the table where all the exchange gifts were. The scarf I bought for Tachibana-san was of a somewhat high cost, not the kind of value that a rich person would afford, but the most expensive that a student with that of a part-time job could afford.

But as soon as I saw the different sizes and the quality of the paper they are wrapped with, it made me understand that most of these gifts were beyond my financial means. I tried to avert my gaze and not think about the harsh reality I had to face, but I ended up staring at my foul appearance and my dirty white tennis shoes, making it all the more difficult. 

—Senpai, it’s torture for you to stay here, leave the gift on the table and let’s go home.

—It’s okay…

I put Tachibana-san’s gift, and when I headed for the exit, that’s when the unexpected happened.

—What are you doing here? — Miyuki, Tachibana-san’s sister, exclaimed.

She was wearing the same hairstyle as her, and a one-piece dress of a different color.

—I want you to stay away from my sister.

—Senpai, why does Tachibana-senpai’s sister hate you? What did you do now?

—Huh… I hypnotized Tachibana-san into becoming an elementary school girl and called me Shirou Onii-chan.

—You did what?!

—And she also hypnotized me into getting excited about her when she wore pigtails and wore a school swimsuit.

—Your sense of ethics is gone, senpai…

—And well, Miyuki-chan found me and Tachibana-san in an unpleasant situation.

—You’ve embraced anarchy! I can’t support you in this, senpai! It’s unfortunate.

Hamanami turned away from me and sided with Miyuki-chan, she’s all for Tachibana-san’s sister hating me, and I don’t blame her, I did have a very pitiful attitude.

—Oh come on, Hamanami, what kind of person do you think I am?

—A pedo, that’s what you are!

Hamanami’s response was relentless, and painful at the same time.

—My sister is engaged, please don’t try anything weird with her, just get out of here.

Miyuki-chan grabbed the paper bag from the table where I had put my gift, and headed for the trash can outside the room. She hesitated for a moment whether to throw it in the bin, but in the end, she ended up doing so.

—Please leave now.

Miyuki-chan must be aware that what she did wasn’t right, but I understand her being upset. I didn’t want to continue being a nuisance, so I apologized to her, and Hamanami and I left the hotel.

I looked up at the sky and the darkness had taken over, and then I looked back toward the hotel. Thanks to social media, I knew that there were people with a great lifestyle in the world, but as soon as you look at it head on, the difference about what it’s like is even greater than what pictures or videos can show.

I don’t want to be the typical person who judges based on appearances, I want to believe that all the people present there are kind to each other despite the luxurious life they lead. 

After standing still for a few seconds while looking around the hotel, Hamanami tugged on my sleeve.

—Let’s go now, senpai. Please don’t torture yourself like that. I’m sure when you grow up, you’ll be able to strut around in places like this.

—I doubt it. 

Unlike when I was a kid, I feel a bigger wall between me and Tachibana-san now. The conversation I had with Maki a while back about how my life was like Jay Gatsby’s came to mind. After all, Tachibana-san and I are not so different from the characters in that story. I understand Gatsby’s feelings more and more now.

—Hamanami, thank you for trying to make me feel better. But I don’t need you to feel sorry for me.

—Really?

I know Tachibana-san doesn’t care how other people see her or what they think of her. If I had called her, she would have surely approached me and chatted with me in the same mood as always without worrying about her surroundings. I wasn’t trying to make myself look like a cool guy, or pretend to be someone I’m not. I just tried to give her a gift in the most dignified way possible. 

—I only came because it was what she expected from me.

—I see… Well, if I’m honest, I prefer a senpai who hypnotizes innocent girls and gives them kisses on a stage in front of many people, then being a stupid rich guy.

Hamanami said with a sullen look. 

—Thank you.

I’m sure Tachibana-san feels the same way. I walked to the station and then said goodbye to her, then I took another train and headed to the meeting point where Hayasaka-san would be waiting for me.

As I looked out the window, I thought about everything that had happened, I assumed that Yanagi-senpai had set me up or tried to make fun of me. And after seeing such a scene, indeed, I felt very depressed and discouraged.

The train stopped at the station right where I was supposed to get off. I left the place and walked through the crowd, and when I reached the square, I saw many people, but I could not find Hayasaka-san. It wasn’t until after a few seconds that I felt someone poking me with their finger in the back while letting out a playful laugh. I turned around, and saw her, her cheeks were red from the cold and her breath was white in the air.

—Well, let’s start our last Christmas date, Kirishima-kun. — Hayasaka-san said with a big smile on her face.

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

The main event of the day had begun. Hayasaka-san brought me to a familiar restaurant, which surprised me since for our last date, I thought it should be in a more ostentatious place. 

I tried to convince Hayasaka-san to go to a better place, but She didn’t like the idea, She was happy to be with me in this place. It seems that she has been planning her ideal date with me for a long time, so she begged me to leave all the responsibility to her about what we were going to do today. I don’t know what she has planned for me, or what the whole night will hold for me, I just know that she was very happy to be able to be with me, and that was more than enough for me.

—Kirishima-kun, you must eat a lot and have enough energy. We’ll be busy all night…. Huh… That’s not what I meant! You know, I’m just saying that we’ll be going to many places until dawn… — said Hayasaka-san with a red and embarrassed face. 

—I know, relax.

Hayasaka-san was wearing a collared sweater and a long skirt without showing any skin. Everything hinted that it was going to be a wholesome evening and nothing out of the ordinary would happen. She doesn’t seem to have that bad girl personality anymore, which was a relief.

After eating our dinner, we proceeded to do our gift exchange. Hayasaka-san quickly unwrapped hers, and put on the gloves with great joy. She was delighted by my gift.

—I love them so much, Kirishima-kun! I would never have been able to afford to buy ones like this even with my part-time job.

What a relief, that was the reaction I was looking for.

—Although I’m sure the sales clerk chose this gift for you.

—How do you know?

—Because Kirishima-kun couldn’t have such good taste.

As she said that, she put her hand on her cheek while smiling. By the way, what Hayasaka-san gave me was a knitted cap. As soon as I put it on, she became even happier.

—You look very cute with my gift, Kirishima-kun~.

We started walking down the street holding hands. We looked like a real engaged couple. Or that’s the impression I want to give for tonight, which will be our very last together.

Although things started to take an unexpected turn, as we were walking, Hayasaka-san started talking about our relationship and what Tachibana-san meant to me, she was trying to give me advice just like Yanagi-senpai was giving her.

She seems to be handling this breakup in the best way possible, it’s a very mature attitude on her part, but I can’t help but feel bad for her, my plan was for none of this to happen, in fact, I tried my best to avoid it.

When we first met, we agreed that this would come to an end once I got to be with Tachibana-san, and she with Yanagi-senpai. But then, everything took an unexpected turn and various events occured in which I ended up having two girlfriends.

Now we are in a position where I continued to fight to be by Tachibana-san’s side against Yanagi-senpai. While the love Hayasaka-san had for him fizzled out, she turned to me.

In spite of everything, Hayasaka-san has all the makings of becoming the number one girl for both Yanagi-senpai and me. She’s a very kind, attractive, and attentive girl.

It’s not fair to anyone. Yanagi-senpai still continued to be a little nice to me after what I did to him, and Hayasaka-san is by my side supporting me in this. It would seem that the only one who stands to gain from all of this… Is me. 

I stopped walking and decided to give Hayasaka-san a hug.

—What’s wrong, Kirishima-kun?

I couldn’t answer that question, I felt so bad about myself, all this trouble was started because of me. 

—Hehehehe — Hayasaka-san smiles while hugging me back — I’m glad you are so kind to me.

Hayasaka-san jumps into my arms. She was so happy that she was laughing with happiness. So, I hugged her even tighter, and she rubbed her face against me even happier because of that.

—Kirishima-kun. We are on the street~

After that emotional scene, Hayasaka-san took me to the cinema to watch three movies to be shown throughout the night.

The first one was a movie based on a popular manga. As soon as I told her that I didn’t know the story, Hayasaka-san laughed and said that she didn’t know what the movie was about either. The goal was to spend the whole night together.

The second movie was a romantic drama to be honest. It touched the deepest part of my heart. Halfway through the movie, already close to midnight, I could hear Hayasaka-san snoring. I tried to wake her up with a kiss on the cheek, but she shook her head with sleepy eyes and continued to sleep peacefully with her head resting on my shoulder. She woke up at the end of the movie though, and seemed excited about everything that was happening in the plot.

After watching two movies, Hayasaka-san was satisfied with how the date was going, so the last movie was a gangster movie at 2 in the morning.

Having slept through the second showing, she was more active than ever for this movie, her eyes sparkling with interest in the scenes playing on the screen. Every time a shooting scene came on, she would hold my hand tightly. And that’s how we spent most of the night inside the movie theater. After the show came to an end, we left the theater, where the sky was still dark. There was still an hour left before the trains would start running again.

—Let’s go for a walk Kirishima-kun. 

We held hands again, and walked through the completely empty city center. It was a strange feeling to see no one in a place that is usually very crowded. The twenty-fifth of December had come to an end, and I still had doubts about whether it would really be our last day together. I tried to pretend that nothing was bothering me, but that was definitely the only thing going around in my mind.

—Can I be selfish for one last time Kirishima-kun?

—Yes.

—Since I was a little girl, I had always wanted to receive a ring from the man I love. — Hayasaka-san said with a tense smile on her face.

As was obvious, the mall was not going to be open at this early hour of the morning. So, we entered a 24-hour trinket store.

I saw many rings displayed in a showcase next to perfumes and watches of dubious quality, and bought a ring with the remaining amount of money left in my wallet. Leaving only the ticket for the train home. 

It wasn’t something expensive, let alone extravagant, but I suppose it will serve to fulfill Hayasaka-san’s wishes.

As soon as we left the store, we began to walk for a bit again, but it was so cold that we headed off to wait for the train at the station. The waiting room on the platform was warm and empty. I proceeded to take the ring out of the paper bag, took her hand, removed her glove and then put the ring on the ring finger of her left hand.

—Hehehehe, Kirishima-kun made all my dreams come true. 

Depression struck me again. I was in a rather significant place. Millions of people pass through here daily, many with fates I could hardly imagine. Our goodbye was approaching, and that made it harder.

—The date I had with you today is something I’ve always imagined when I would be in college, going out with my boyfriend to eat a nice dinner, spending the whole night at the movies while fighting the sleep that overcame us, and then skipping classes the next day.

What I did today with Hayasaka-san, was something that she wanted very much to happen in her daily life when she was in college, and that means a lot to us.

—Then I went to my boyfriend’s apartment, who lives alone, and slept on his chest in his little bed… But in exchange for that, what I did today was to walk until dawn with you, you gave me a ring, and now we are here… Waiting for the train to take us home… And separate us again…

As the sky began to light up due to the appearance of the impending sun. Hayasaka-san was having to deal with her fate.

—Really, I thought I would be able to do it. To get away from you and put an end to this. But I can’t, even though Tachibana-san and you love each other very much, I can’t help but feel like a hindrance, I’m not able to just walk away…

Hayasaka-san seemed to have imagined what her life would be like after this day if she no longer had me by her side, so she continued to express what she felt.

—You… You will be with Tachibana-san for the rest of your life, while you will forget about me. That’s why, I can’t accept it… Because it’s with you that I want everything, Kirishima-kun, it’s with you that I imagine my future, it’s with you that I imagine going to college… You are everything to me, Kirishima-kun…!

Tears began to well up in her eyes as she hid the expression on her face with her hair.

—I can’t break up with you, Kirishima-kun. I don’t want to leave. I’m sorry… I’m so sorry… Kirishima-kun… I love you so much, I want to be a normal girlfriend for you, and I can’t ignore these feelings I have for you…!

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

It was now Monday morning, it was so cold that the streets of Tokyo were freezing, I was on my way to school wearing the hat that Hayasaka-san gave me. If I didn’t use it, Hayasaka-san would probably give me a dry smile while saying something like; “Even on such a cold day, you wouldn’t be able to use my gift…”. But the days of being on both sides of the board are over.

Before we said goodbye on the twenty-sixth of December, Hayasaka-san gave me a choice between her and Tachibana-san. Stating that she has fallen madly in love with me, and that she doesn’t want to be number two either. Let alone getting to share me with Tachibana-san, she wants to be a normal girlfriend.

I knew from the beginning that this three-way relationship would be impossible. It was more than obvious that neither Hayasaka-san nor Tachibana-san wanted to share me with the other, so the time has come for me to take responsibility for my actions.

On the other hand, I have to think of a way to tell Tachibana-san. I am sure she will flatly refuse, although her family situation makes it impossible for a relationship between the two of us to be projected in the future. In fact, Tachibana-san’s worries are more about her confusion that Yanagi-senpai is pushing towards her, rather than the fact that she is sharing me with Hayasaka-san. Hence, it becomes more uncomfortable for me to have to tell her that I have to choose between one and the other.

—Shirou-kun!

As soon as I arrived at the school gate, Tachibana-san greeted me with much enthusiasm, she had a big smile on her face, her excitement was to such an extent that she didn’t seem to mind that I was wearing a cap that Hayasaka-san had given me.

—Let me carry your bag to the classroom.

—It’s not necessary, Tachibana-san.

—It’s okay, I want to do it. — She said as she took my things, it seemed that she wanted to carry any item that was of my belongings. 

—Everyone is watching us Tachibana-san.

—Then I’m going to have to mark my territory.

Tachibana-san grabbed my arm and pulled me towards her. Many comments around us started to come up, some of them hinting that Tachibana-san and I had finally had sex. But she didn’t seem to mind at all, as she was very happy.

—Shirou-kun, don’t be shy. – She said as she brought the scarf close to her face and inhaled deeply. — I never imagined that you would leave my gift with my sister. I knew you would come to see me.

In the end, Miyuki-chan gave her my gift that she must have taken out of the trash can. However, when I asked her what had happened, I knew right away that her sister didn’t do it because she felt bad for me, but gave it to Tachibana-san since she lost her patience.

Tachibana-san said she herself was waiting in the hotel lobby that day long after the party was over. Two hours later, Miyuki-chan gave her my gift saying that she forgot to give it to her earlier.

After everything she told me, I couldn’t tell her the ultimatum Hayasaka-san gave me, neither during recess nor at lunchtime. I get a lump in my throat every time I see Tachibana-san sitting in her seat with a happy face, and the scarf around her neck.

She loved my gift so much, she even spent the whole day wearing it. One girl told me that during class, when the teacher asked Tachibana-san why she continued to wear the scarf even though the classroom already had heating, instead of giving the typical answer; “I’m cold”, she instead said with great pride in front of the whole class; “My boyfriend gave it to me”. 

That provoked the teacher to impose a punishment on her and to write a letter and reflect on what she did. An activity she was doing with a big smile on her face. I didn’t want to ruin her mood. But it’s something I can’t drag out for too long either. I had to tell her one way or another.

Time passed, and when classes were over, Tachibana-san and I met in the club room, she was waiting for me with a cup of coffee she had prepared. And as expected, she continued to wear the scarf, something quite disconcerting since there was already heating in the room.

As soon as I sat down on the sofa, Tachibana-san immediately came to me with the attitude of a dog wagging its tail.

—What do you want to do today? Shall we go out? Or do you want to stay here all afternoon? That sounds much better, don’t you think?

Tachibana-san placed her head on my shoulder, but I couldn’t even enjoy her company at all. my conscience was killing me, so I told her everything that had happened with Hayasaka-san, making the expression on her face suddenly turn cold.

—Why are you telling me all that, isn’t everything supposed to be fine if Shirou-kun has both of us? Isn’t that what you want? — Tachibana-san said as she separated from me.

She seemed to be depressed, but the most surprising thing to me was that she showed no signs of anger.

—What about our trip together? 

—She said I wouldn’t have to choose now, but I have to give her an answer when I get back.

—But… So how are we going to enjoy our time together?

—Do you want me to make a decision first?

—No, that would be worse.

—Calm down, I haven’t made a decision yet.

—That’s not true! You’ll choose Hayasaka-san!

Tachibana-san thinks that I will make that choice because of the situation that is going on in her house, and because I don’t want to ruin her future.

—Hey, what if we convince Hayasaka-san to continue our agreement? I don’t care who the public-facing girlfriend is. If Hayasaka-san wants to take priority, that’s fine with me, I’ll be strong.

I haven’t even made a choice yet, and Tachibana-san is already looking for a solution to her possible rejection.

—I don’t want this to be my last trip with you Shirou-kun…

Tachibana-san has become a bit disturbed by what I said to her.

—Shirou-kun, do you think it’s a good idea? Maybe this trip shouldn’t be made. My mother… She doesn’t support this.

Tachibana-san’s family has a tradition of spending New Year’s with her whole family. When she tried to get out of it, saying that she was going on a trip with some friends, her sister interfered in that conversation, and gave her away by saying that she was going on a trip with another man who is not Yanagi-senpai.

—I still wonder how my sister knew about my trip with you. I haven’t told her anything.

My gaze fell on a notebook that was on the table, and it had a page with all the plans she wanted to make happen with me in Kyoto. As if that wasn’t enough, on the cover was written the title “A trip through the ancient capital with my beloved Shirou-kun, who will kiss me a hundred times a day”, all written in colored pen.

Yeah… I too wonder how she found out…

—You’ve always told me that I should get along with my family, and strengthen relationships with them. My mother doesn’t like the idea of me being with you, let alone going on this trip.

—Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.

—You can’t do anything about it.

Tachibana-san replied in a nonchalant manner. She seems to be afraid of antagonizing her mother, all because of her engagement to Yanagi-senpai.

—I don’t think Tachibana-san’s mother is the kind of person who is complicated to understand.

—Shirou-kun… You don’t know anything about my mother.

—Maybe, but still, I plan to talk to her personally, and ask for her permission.

Tachibana-san was hesitant at my words. And then, as if she had discovered something, her eyes widened.

—…Shirou-kun, where are you working at?

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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