Chapter 9: Spring Thunder

Spring Thunder

I was at the club at lunchtime.

Tachibana-san opened the window and looked at the courtyard.

Although it was February, it felt warm like spring. The wind blowing through the window was gentle.

Under the cloudy sky, there were third-year students sitting on a bench in the courtyard.

“Are they Nakayama-senpai and Okura-senpai?” I asked, and Tachibana-san replied nonchalantly, “Yes.”

Nakayama-senpai and Okura-senpai were the winning couple of last year’s Cultural Festival Couple Contest. They got the future marriage spell, and Tachibana-san likes to look at that couple.

—Hey, Shiro-kun, have you heard yet?

—Heard what?

—They say that Nakayama-senpai and Okura-senpai are different when they are alone at school.

I have an image of Okura-senpai reprimanding Nakayama-senpai, who likes to joke a lot, but…

—Outside of school, Nakayama-senpai doesn’t act like a fool at all, he seems trustworthy, and Okura-senpai follows him around while being spoiled by him.

—Now that you mention it, it seems plausible.

—It’s great, right?

In the courtyard, as usual, Nakayama-senpai tried to touch the chest of Okura-senpai, who was known as the number one of the women’s volleyball team, but he received a blow to the hand.

This is a normal reaction considering that they are in public. But I guess it’s different when they’re alone.

—By the way, Tachibana-san…

—You don’t have to say anything.

—I can’t just stay like this.

—You don’t have to do anything, Shiro-kun. I will talk to Hayasaka-san and we will make a decision together.

Tachibana-san continues to look at the courtyard with a melancholy expression.

That’s how it’s been lately.

Tachibana is trying to be Yanagi’s girlfriend until she graduates. The other day, Yanagi was playing soccer on the field, so I went to cheer him on. According to the rules, Hayasaka and I went together. 

And Tachibana looked at the field through the net. 

Senpai had to give up soccer due to an injury. However, it seems that he didn’t quit completely because he couldn’t play well. He started trying to make a comeback in college. 

If she were a normal girl, she might have been touched and tried to support him from nearby. But that was not what Tachibana was looking for. In fact, Tachibana didn’t expect anything from Yanagi at all. 

Actions as simple as giving her the towel and the isotonic drinks seemed like punishment to her. 

She even went to support him at his university entrance exam and told him to “hit it hard”. And those words sounded so empty that they only intensified the pain. 

In Yanagi’s expression in the pictures they sent us, you could see both resignation and regret. 

We knew it. Everything is coming to a head. 

If we don’t act quickly, we will only continue to hurt each other. 

We might even all end up separated, and that would be partially okay. So, with a feeling of indifference, I told Hayasaka and Tachibana that we’d better end it all.

The next day, after what happened at the mansion, they called me to the club after school. 

It was a very cold day.

The two of them were dressed in maid’s uniforms they had brought from the mansion, and they sat on the sofa holding hands. 

—We’re ready to get along, you know? 

—If we don’t, Kirishima-kun, he’ll probably run away, right? We’re sure you can’t stand being the cause of our fights. You’re always the bad guy, so you’d rather be alone than hurt any of us. 

—We don’t think you’re cruel, Shiro-kun. You are just someone who is vulnerable… 

We are good friends, everything will be fine from now on. So don’t run away. 

That’s how they see it.  

It might seem forced to say that they are good friends, but the two of them hugged each other and started kissing.

—Look, we are good friends.

—You like that kind of thing, right?

Tachibana was in a passive position. While kissing, both girls explored each other’s bodies. When it was all over, only the two girls were left on the couch, breathing heavily and listening to the soft sound of the air conditioner.

There was a pleasant smell of decay in the air.

As a snapshot captured on film, it was certainly beautiful, but it lacked continuity and future perspective. In other words, it had no future.

From that day on, Hayasaka and Tachibana began to get along superficially.

But after such an intense fight, they couldn’t just go back to normal. It would be like an old wound that hurts every time it rains.

I have no choice but to make a decision on my own.

That’s why…

—Tachibana-san, I need to talk to you.

—There is nothing to talk about.

Tachibana still looked down at the courtyard.

—Even we could be like that.

For Tachibana-san, Nakayama-senpai and Okura-senpai were her ideals. A loving couple who won the couple competition and were recognized by all the students. No one could come between them.

—I want things to be like this.

Tachibana-san said that at that moment.

Nakayama-senpai and Okura-senpai stand up from the bench. They seem to have a more mature expression than the third year students. And carried by the wind, the words of their conversation reach Tachibana’s ears.

—So, how about we say goodbye today?

—Yes, that sounds good. It would be too much to continue acting until the graduation ceremony or to do things that lack sincerity.

Tachibana silently closed the window.

Her expression was cold as a knife.

—Shiro-kun, come on.

 

****

 

Under a sky that seemed about to cry, they walked along the river, on the dam.

Right now, her classmates would be in class.

—Let’s go.

After leaving the club room, Tachibana put her shoes in her locker and left the school.

Although I told her that it was lunch time, she only reacted with disinterest.

I was worried that Tachibana would just disappear somewhere, so I stayed by her side the whole time.

We’ve been walking on the dam for almost an hour.

—Where are you going?

—Somewhere far away. — she replied, looking at me out of the corner of her eye.

She seemed indifferent, but gave no indication that she was acting on impulse, perhaps she had a plan.

—Let’s escape together. — she said while holding my hand — I understand everything now.

When she heard that Hayasaka went out with me because she liked Yanagi, but it was impossible, Tachibana realized something.

—Do you know that she is madly in love with you, Shiro-kun?

I didn’t answer and just let her talk.

—It wasn’t because you couldn’t separate from Hayasaka-san after doing many things together. It wasn’t because you cared too much about Yanagi-kun. But I guess you already know the answer to that.

It’s true. If Tachibana had told me that he liked her before Hayasaka and I started dating, and if Yanagi-senpai had shown a little interest in Hayasaka-san, then the puzzle would have fit together perfectly. And none of this would have happened.

But our feelings are fickle and fragile. And now we are in limbo.

—That is why we should run away together.

If we do that, we will not have to deal with the bondage around us. We will be able to be together as those who love each other the most, without having to worry about anyone else. That’s what Tachibana wants.

—It might be a little difficult at first.

Tachibana plans to go to a small coastal town in the countryside.

—We will rent a small apartment. A room with a view of the sea from the window. I will work in inns and restaurants.

Tachibana could really fit the role of an innkeeper.

—And if they don’t hire me, I can work in a bar serving alcohol. So it’s okay that Shiro-kun doesn’t work and devotes himself to studying.

She knows that I am preparing for the university exams after finishing high school. Unlike her, I don’t have any special talent, so I have to work twice as hard to get into college.

—Until Shiro-kun graduates from university, I will be in charge of supporting us, and until you get a good job, things can be better for both of us.

Tachibana had already planned what our daily life would be like.

—Every morning, I will wake you to the sound of boiling miso soup.

—I can’t imagine getting up so early.

Tachibana-san stared at me and I remained silent.

—We will share a bed and I will be happy with that. I will try to do the housework, even if you hit me when you are drunk.

—Hey…

—I imagine strange things, right? I know, sometimes I imagine Shiro-kun taking the money I’ve won and going out to gamble. Even when I ask you to stop, you hit me and I fall to the ground.

—I’m worried that you’re imagining that…

—I will feel guilty for asking you to run away with me, so even if you kick me or hit me, I will still apologize. While I cry, I will wait for you in the room with the money you took and left.

—I wouldn’t do such a cruel thing.

—Really?

—Yes, I can’t imagine doing such a thing.

—Then we can be happy, right?

Tachibana-san seemed a little happy, but soon she had a cold expression on her face. She seemed to have a calm determination in her eyes.

—This is wrong. — she said as she looked ahead — It’s wrong to leave someone you love. It is absolutely wrong.

She was talking about Nakayama-senpai and Okura-senpai. According to the conversation in the courtyard, they had decided to separate because of their future goals.

Nakayama-senpai had mentioned that he wanted to go abroad. They decided that it would be better to focus on their studies, on training to get on professional volleyball teams, instead of carrying the distance and distracting each other.

I think that’s a mature thing to do.

If someone was willing to give up their future opportunities for a fleeting love in their teens, everyone would say don’t do it. But…

—That is definitely not happiness. Fight, strive, fulfill your dreams, but without someone to love by your side, I don’t want that.

Achieve goals, become an admirable adult, and find a wonderful partner who matches that future self. It is a very realistic path to happiness.

Maybe Tachibana’s way of thinking will change in time.

But Tachibana is seventeen years old, a girl with a sensitivity as fragile as glass, and that’s it.

We walked together until our legs were tired.

The scenery changed around us, and I felt like we were approaching a charming and melancholy harbor, just as Tachibana-san had imagined.

Gradually, however, the sky darkened and thunder was heard.

Rain began to fall softly.

Tachibana pursed his lips and continued walking.

Her steps became faster. And just when it seemed that she was about to run away, she suddenly stopped and said with a voice broken by her teeth.

—I am just a girl.

Tachibana began to cry as the rain intensified.

—I wanted to come back before it started raining.

Tachibana frowned and tried to hold back her tears, but she couldn’t and sobbed as she cried.

They were tears of frustration.

After all, escaping together was not realistic at all. When I was fifteen, I also tried to run away and live on my own. 

I was influenced by novels. I trained by doing sit-ups, took the bus to a faraway place, and was determined to work in a privately run library. 

I packed my things in a backpack and bought the bus ticket. But that was all. I stood at the bus station and watched the bus leave. 

I think it was a good thing. I understood that there would be no privately run library that would hire a fifteen-year-old boy. And probably the melancholic port that Tachibana wanted did not exist either. 

I took Tachibana’s wet hand and we walked back the way we came. 

We can’t go anywhere. 

By the time we got near the school, the rain had stopped and the sky was clear. Tachibana returned to the club, dried her hair with a towel, and changed into her sports uniform before going straight home. 

Perhaps I should have cried with her. But I could not. And that makes me a little sad. 

On the night that Tachibana cried over her own helplessness, I went to the study hall as usual and studied with Hayasaka-san for the university exams.

When I checked my phone after school, there was a message from Tachibana.

The message said that she had taken Rei-san’s credit card from her wallet, as well as the cash she had at home. She also mentioned that there was an offer to stay at a ryokan in a hot spring town and that she had bought a ticket for an overnight train.

The overnight train left Ueno today at 11:30 p.m. Tachibana said she would wait for me at Ueno Park.

“If you don’t show up, I’ll leave by myself.”

That’s what the note said.

 

****

 

It was 8:15 p.m.

There were less than three hours before the night train was due to leave, and I was walking aimlessly through the bustle of the business district.

I didn’t know how serious Tachibana was.

Still, I had a feeling that if I didn’t go, Tachibana would disappear. She firmly believes in her own fleeting feelings.

I couldn’t cry with her or show a normal expression when I went to the academy. I felt terribly dirty.

I could have made any excuse not to go to the station.

“You can’t do that”, Hayasaka-san said as we left the academy building, as if she understood something.

“You’re my boyfriend, Kirishima-kun, you chose me.”

Hayasaka blurted out words as sharp as razors.

“Tachibana-san is not good for you. She is dangerous, and one day she will ruin Kirishima-kun.”

She then asked me to go to her house for dinner because her mother wanted to meet me.

Although I told her that it was not possible tonight, Hayasaka-san did not agree.

“I’ll wait for you! I’ll wait for you until morning if I have to!”

She said as she walked away, waving her hand.

And I, not knowing what to do, just walked aimlessly around the city.

If I don’t go to Ueno Station, Tachibana will be ruined, but if I go, it seems that only she and I will be ruined. Just the two of us, a future with no way out.

On the other hand, if I don’t go, I can see a future where I stay with Hayasaka and we have a normal relationship.

But it was obvious that if she did that, Tachibana-san would be irreparably hurt. Because she left everything and is waiting for me.

Tachibana is basically saying that we should go bankrupt together so that we can be alone.

I think she is similar to Hayasaka in that way.

Hayasaka-san wanted to go crazy on me and ruin our school life. Not only did she abandon her reputation of being a good girl and having a noble image, but she also implanted a completely opposite image.

Recently, a boy called her into the hallway. While she rejected him as usual, she threw obscene words at him… It seems like he just wanted to do that and then belittle her. 

But Hayasaka said: “It doesn’t matter. I have Kirishima-kun. I just need you to be here, Kirishima-kun”.

Afterwards, she laughed and said, 

“I get a lot of lewd messages on my social networks. I also get a lot of anonymous direct messages. Let’s propose that we do it together.”

Hayasaka-san, who became my official girlfriend, is very stable. But sometimes, when she becomes unstable, she can’t help but say things that degrade herself. 

“What if Kirishima-kun doesn’t choose me? Like I said, I’ll just give myself to anyone without worrying. I don’t need that, I don’t want to be like that. But, I don’t know… I guess this is how I’ll have to live without you.”

They’re both putting too much pressure on me. 

Feelings of love are always treated as something positive, as if they’re acceptable even in excessive amounts, but they’re throwing me around while they’re hurting themselves, and I feel like I’m about to be crushed. 

As I think about it, time is running out and there are less than three hours before the night train leaves. I’m in serious trouble.

Somehow the city lights are starting to look blurry.

At that moment, I saw a familiar face in the crowd. I raised both hands and made the peace sign with my fingers.

—Kirishima!

That person was Sakai. She had her hair up and her glasses off. She might be in beautiful mode because she is coming from a date with someone.

—What happened? I see you very happy.

—That’s because you’re just what I needed. I want to ask you something, Sakai.

—This is very sudden, even coming from you.

Social norms aside. I told her about Tachibana-san’s fragile sensibilities and how she left me with a few hours to make a decision.

When we reached an alley with few people, Saeki stopped.

—Wow…

—Yeah, I’m in trouble. Both girls are overly excited right now, but they will calm down with time, and I don’t think it will have much effect if I decide not to choose one of them. Besides, both of them are very popular, so even if I hurt them a lot, they probably wouldn’t suffer much damage…

—Judging from your words, you want to run away.

Sakai approached me, smiling happily, and took a step forward until we were at arm’s length.

—Hug me.

—Huh?

—Come on! Do it.

Following her instructions, I hugged Sakai. Her body gave me a softness and warmth I had not imagined from her sweet fragrance and elegant appearance.

—We can kiss too.

Without thinking, I kissed Sakai’s thin lips.

—How do you compare me to Akane and Tachibana-san? — she asked, waiting for an honest answer from me.

—There is something different. — I replied — You are undoubtedly attractive and I’m sure the old me would have been completely thrilled. But although I’m captivated by your sensuality, I don’t feel the same passion I felt when I embraced Hayasaka-san and Tachibana-san.

—That means you’re in love. Unlike that, what you have is real and cannot be changed. Maybe another person will never come along to make you feel like Akane and Tachibana-san. So you have no choice, Kirishima.

That’s cruel, Sakai whispers into my ear.

—You have to make a choice. Tachibana-san, you will never fall in love with anyone for the rest of your life. It’s like you’ll never smile again. Or it could be even more tragic for her, since her happiness and health depend on you.

When she said that, she came even closer to me and hugged me.

—On the other hand, Akane will underestimate herself. There are many girls who, because they have many relationships, downplay the one precious love they lost and try to pass it off as something unimportant. Akane has many buyers, so she will soon have many men who will play with her. Sooner or later, a bad man might get addicted to her and turn her into a pet. So… What are you going to do? 

I really thought I couldn’t do anything about it, and while I kept telling myself that, I kept going on without looking for a solution. 

So I did the most sensible thing so far… I rolled on the floor and cried as much as I could. 

She twisted me while moving her arms and legs. I know it doesn’t solve anything, but I just want to get away and cry some more.

Sakai is having so much fun that I feel like time is stopping here, and I could stay like this for the rest of my life. 

—This is the side of Kirishima I wanted to see for a long time. Yochi yochi yochi~ 

Sakai puts her finger in my mouth and I suck it. 

—It’s not good, right? Both girls said they loved you and that made you feel good, right? 

I nodded my head. It was incredibly beautiful. 

—As the love became more intense, did you want more and more? 

I nodded my head. I nodded my head again. 

Being loved is a feeling of immense pleasure.

—Were you happy that the girl who normally doesn’t smile did so only with you?

Yes… Without a doubt, I was very happy.

I felt a sense of superiority over the other men, and even more so over Yanagi-senpai.

—It was fun to paint the two girls your own color, right?

Exactly. It was the best.

—It was nice to see the purest idol that everyone wanted for them all alone at your mercy, right?

Yes. Having and possessing Hayasaka’s body to my full pleasure was a unique sensation.

—So tell me, how does it feel to have the sweetest, most innocent girl in the whole world branded as a slut because of you?

I felt guilty, but somehow pleased.

—How did it feel to drive both girls to extreme insanity?

It was very nice.

—You’re scum~ — Sakai said with a smile.

I certainly have a lot of feelings that make me a scumbag. But…

—I really like them both and I want them to be happy. That feeling was definitely there, and that was all I wanted.

But unfortunately, that was not the case.

—Life isn’t like a fairy tale, you can’t make everyone happy. — She replied while tapping me on the forehead — Someone has to die and you have to choose, who will it be? Akane or Tachibana-san?

—You don’t have to say it so abruptly.

—Come on, get up. You’ve complained enough already. I know you will make the right decision.

—How do you know?

—Because you tend to choose the girl who is more broken over the one who is weaker.

It’s true that I have that tendency.

If I follow that tendency, I’ll know who to choose. And I thought that was good.

After saying goodbye to Sakai, I went to the rendezvous point in Ueno.

The hustle and bustle around me sounded very distant.

Someone said; “Ambulance, ambulance.”

No, I don’t want that. The place I have to go is not a hospital, but the place where Tachibana is waiting. She’s been waiting alone all this time.

But my body stopped moving, my vision became blurred, and everything became darker and darker.

As the cherry blossoms fall around me, the last thing that comes to my mind is the image of Tachibana standing alone.

 

****

 

When I open my eyes, I am lying on a bed.

There is a white ceiling, white curtains, white sheets. I immediately realized that I am in a hospital. Hayasaka is sitting in a chair next to the bed, her head in my lap, sleeping.

When I moved a little, Hayasaka raised her head. Tears were streaming down her face.

—What a relief!

When she saw me wake up, she took my hand.

—I was so worried about you.

—Hayasaka-san, you have a bit of saliva hanging out of your mouth.

—I’ll call the doctor. Your mother and sister are also here.

—You left a spit on my sleeve.

—Hehehe.

Apparently, what happened to me wasn’t that serious. It seems that my mother and sister got bored of being in the room and went to the grocery store.

The cause of this very strange event was the blow to the head I received at Tokyo Station.

—You don’t remember much, do you?

—No, all my memories are blurry.

—I see. Anyway, they gave you a serum, so you’ll be fine!

I look down and see a tube connected to my arm.

—I’m mad at you, you know? Why didn’t you tell me you were having medical treatment?

—I did not want to worry you.

As we have this conversation, I feel my face turning pale.

—What time is it now?

—Eh?

—The time.

I looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was three in the morning.

When I tried to get out of bed, I felt my whole body shaking.

—You cannot leave!

Hayasaka-san shouted and clung to me, preventing me from moving.

—If you go with Tachibana-san, Kirishima-kun, you will eventually break. You need to take better care of yourself.

Saying that, Hayasaka-san held on tightly and did not move.

I noticed that my cell phone was on the table next to the bed.

When I grabbed it, I saw that there were several missed calls from Tachibana. However, the calls stopped after midnight.

I fell on the bed, feeling that it was all over.

The image of Tachibana with a suitcase in her hand, walking away from me, goes through my mind.

In the morning, I received a message that said,

“Bye.”

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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