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The meaning of my life.
When I think about that, I feel conflicted.
About that question.
The question is stuck inside me. Probably Yaegashi Taichi also has the same question stuck inside him.
Without noticing it, have I always been immersed and happy being in this generous world?
No, it's a question that I must witness someday. I cannot escape from this question.
Face each other. And then charge at the other.
The worse is that it probably will end there. I don't know.
I'm very very very scared.
In order to end this confrontation, I must decide on which path I should take.
Inaba Himeko, was thinking that way.
The second summer vacation of high school life has ended. It was after school a few days after the new school term began. The cleaning duty is finished and Yaegashi Taichi aimed for room 401 of the club room building.
The cultural festival held at the beginning of September is over. Taichi walked in the premises of Yamaboshi High School while it is returning back to its usual drive. It was a day where the sun's rays were intense but given that there were wind and shade, it felt vaguely like autumn.
With an old-fashioned appearance, Taichi finally arrived at the club room building. Before entering the building, on a whim, he looked at that entire scene.
Moderate earthquake proofing construction was needed. Recently, it seems that there were talks about changing buildings soon. Personally, we want it to hold out until we graduate, Taichi thought.
Very soon, one year will pass since we, the Cultural Research Club, were made to depart from the everyday world.
Until now, on many occasions we have encountered crises, and on those occasions we pooled our efforts and were able overcome them. Finally, new members were dragged into this turmoil, and we were also able to defeat that.
When will it end? It has not ended now. And because of Heartseed's phenomenon, I suppose he will put an end to it one day.
A year and a half from now, we second years will leave this school.
While climbing up the stairs, he took out a printout that was distributed today from the bag on his shoulders.
On the top "Career Survey" was printed. There were spaces to fill in for the career one hopes for and the choice between science and humanities for the third year. Yamaboshi High School holds reasonably good achievements in student careers. Nearly all of the students aim to continue education in university. In the very first part, the subject is the choice between humanities or sciences. The classes are separated by specific learning direction. The classes are split in third year based on the choice in this survey so the second years right now are surely approaching a final decision.
Taichi held his career survey between his fingers and fluttered it. This light piece of paper decides a part of one's life, Taichi thought. It feels a little ridiculous.
There is still two months left until the announced due date. Nonetheless, no one will hand it in ahead of time. University is decided with this... And then...
While in the middle of thinking, he arrived at the fourth floor. Walking down the hall until the end, he arrived at his destination. While looking at the print out on an A4 sized paper with the words "Cultural Research Club" written on it, Taichi opened the door of the club room.
"Shino-chan and Chihhii, what do you want to become in the future?"
The cheerful voice of Nagase Iori projected out from the room.
"Ah, Taichi. Yo!"
Nagase made a salute pose. Her silky long hair smoothly swayed. Thanks to her playful mood and standing out beauty, it is decided that it looks like she can be in a poster as she is now.
In the clubroom, six members have already gathered. Adding himself, all seven member have assembled.
While everyone were talking, Taichi sat down on the pipe chair.
"Future…….is it?. Future, right? The future me……. Future……carrer…...life…...the next life……"
"Isn't that being born again? Enjouji?" Taichi whispered a retort.
"Hah, future! Future…..ummmm……mmmmmhhh……uuhhhh…….guuuuu….."
"It's alright Shino-chan! Right now, it looks like steam is coming out of your head!?"
Enjouji Shino removed her hand that was plunged in her light brown hair. While she made her eyes teary, she wished for Kiriyama Yui's help. Enjouji is a girl with a body that gives the mood of a small animal which stirs up a desire for protection and is also Taichi's junior.
"Shino-chan, you're still in first year~ It is still too early to think about these things~"
Kiriyama Yui patted Shino's head and smiled with a good mood. Kiriyama prides herself on her long chestnut coloured hair. Today it is shining like glitter.
Over there, in fooling around mode is a man with a tall stature and delicate feature. Aoki Yoshifumi cut in.
"Yui~ Next time, can you spoil me I wonder~ Meow, meo~"
"Uhh…..I feel like vomiting…… Aoki-senpai, you just committed a crime of insulting all the cat-san in the world and deserving a prison sentence….."
"It's alright. That's because with these hands I'll close him up. With three kicks and four fists."
"Isn't that cruel to that extent!? I recognize that I was joking around!"
Enjouji has a wicked tongue and Kiriyama is a veteran in the karate world. They have one aspect that from their outer appearance it is unexpected.
The two verbally assaulted, and Aoki said, "Why is it…..that I had a feeling to enter that circle….." and he grabbed his head.
"Why did you think you can go in today."
Taichi whispered and Aoki said "I do what I can!" and stretched his body and tossed up his arm.
"Whoa, that action was as though the a revolutionary warrior received a call from ring announcer—"
"Your stupid pro-wrestle example is not needed."
Taichi's line was interrupted by Inaba Himeko.
"Uh-oh, Inaban is stopping Taichi! I expected 'Dereban' to allow for any of Taichi's act but. Has 'Inaban' returned!?"
"What are you talking about Iori. As Taichi's best partner, I always do the best most suitable action with whole-hearted devotion—"
"Ah, that's enough of Dereban stupidity."
"Stu-Stupidity, what do you mean!?"
You could call her more than cute but a beauty, with an adequate overall image is Inaba who flared up at the child-like Nagase. When she is silent, her sharp figure is charming, but like right now her disarranged jet black hair exposing her feeling is very appealing I think……and, although I am Inaba's boyfriend, I see things in a reasonable light, probably.
"Taichi-san, why are you looking at Inaba-san and making a broad grin?"
With a cool voice tattling he turned to the side. A composed face was there.
The person behind the retort was Uwa Chihiro. In the same class as Enjouji, he is the additional first year boy.
"No, no I wasn't doing something like that……Well… I was thinking she was cute or something though."
"Ahh, somewhat being lovey-dovey."
Chihiro removed himself from Taichi's view and his face returned to before. With an asymmetrical hair style, his hair is on the short side. Taichi fixated his eyes on his appearance. Even from the side, Chihiro has a beautiful face and can be grasped in an instant.
Heartseed tempted Chihiro and he used the "power" given to him by Heartseed. While half way noticing it Enjouji Shino could not stop it. After the two decided to continue being in the Cultural Research Club, the five second years said, "Don't worry about it" but as they thought, the two noticed their wrongdoings and looked like they felt awkward. They feel obliged to those two for having them carry the burden of the fear of laying eyes on an inhuman existence.
That experience has passed. And as before, it really is the foundation for an impossible talk.
Forcing them along. The reality is nothing can be done about it. For a long time, while Taichi and the others approached them the same as always, the two first years became not taking themselves too seriously in the club room.
"I mean, off track off track! We are talking about what Shino-chan and Chihhii want to become in the future."
Iori's cheerful voice and the calm tone of Chihiro's.
"Is it necessary for us to talk about it?"
"Weren't you the ones who brought up, 'What are senpais' career paths'?"
"That wasn't me. It was what Enjouji thought."
"Huh!? But, but ……I had a feeling that Chihiro-kun wanted to ask from the tone of his voice……"
"Can you even determine that from the voice……"
Once in awhile Enjouji display her voice fetish skills.
"First of all, on the way from the classroom to the club room you—"
"Ahhhhhh, hey don't say it Enjouji."
"Chihiro's face is becoming red. It's cu~te~"
Kiriyama straightened her back and patted Chihiro's head who is taller than her even when sitting down.
"Wait Kiriyama-san keep it away……ugh"
Chihiro was scowling but he was mature enough to allow her and not brush it away.
Are those the eyes of someone who has taken responsibility for committing a crime? The person himself doesn't know whether he has changed but Chihiro is becoming more mellowed. While still keeping his cool character, the feeling of looking at things cynically was lessening.
Thanks to that, the two juniors can look cute all they want. This point Kiriyama is in a good mood for.
Chihiro opened his mouth to speak.
"Well, I…..for the meantime, my goal is to get into a reasonably good university though. So I can enter a stable excellent corporation."
"Huh? Your main goal isn't to be satisfied with yourself like the senpais?"
"Don't make wild ideas as you like Enjouji!"
"Chihiro-kun aiming for us? I'm glad~"
"Yui-san, until when will you be patting my head? As you would expect, I will shake you off."
"While saying that, you are still under our mercy! Certainly Tsundere! With Inaba becoming 'Deredere', the empty 'Tsundere' seat can only be filled by Chihhii!"
Chihiro was played with by Enjouji, Kiriyama, and Nagase.
"Uh-oh. Because before long, Yui will also plan to change from 'Tsundere' to 'Deredere', a little more—"
"Yes, Aoki should shut up~"
Kiriyama absolutely did not look at Aoki’s direction. Her voice was soft but cold.
"Hey Taichi……recently my……. position as the person being bullied has been taken by Chihiro, have I become treated as a miscellaneous person……? Am I imagining things…..?"
"Hah, I also understand your fear of your position being taken by Chihiro. I have also been told by Nagase about my 'calm and low tension character' but I’m worried……"
"Ah, Taichi, you’re worried about that. Sorry—"
Looking as though she had nothing to do with it, Nagase said.
"Come now, not worrying about little things, that's Taichi. Yeah, it’s completely that, that is because that. That? I had feeling and then that and that, what?"
“"The result is that the words didn’t come to mind!? And then it's somewhat nostalgic!"
The two of them did have a time where Nagase played with her words like that.
"My, my goal for the time being is also, wanting to work hard on my studies. I want to go up higher than the middle in the school. And also work hard on the aspect of a fulfilling life."
"What does a fulfilling life mean?" asked Taichi.
"Ummm, it's easy to say……that is when the situation develops into Taichi-senpai saying 'You’re cute, Shino' with his sexy voice! Hehe!"
"What sexy voice! Though perhaps it’s not something that I won’t say…..Ooof!?"
Inaba poke of hell exploded into Taichi’s throat.
"Inaban attacked Taichi!? As I thought, Inaban shed her 'Dereban'……"
"Calling someone cute other than me…….Taichi doesn’t need some like that right……?"
"Ah, forgive me 'Yandereban'."
Probably, Inaba is going with Nagase’s mood. Those two get along well. …..Well, as one would expect, I don’t want to think that what Inaba just said was for real.
"And, how are Senpais' humanities or sciences selection?"
Chihiro said and Enjouji continues.
"Yeah, that's right! Certainly, I want to hear about Senpais' marvelous future's plans!"
Enjouji raised the hurdle meaninglessly. Inaba replied first with "I get it."
"For me, science. I have been told that getting a job is hard it seems but in a certain standard of university, after if I don’t make the wrong decision on the discipline then the occupation will not be a problem."
"Realism is very Inaba-like."
"In science, if I do not make a mistake in choosing the discipline then occupation will not be a problem……sort of plain."
"Hmph, what’s so bad about seeing reality. ……Well, there is an unrealistic reason but—"
"What do you mean by unrealistic, Inaba-chan?"
Aoki got into it and asked.
"There's no way that I am thinking I could do it. For that, I don’t plan on having any special cooperation. In any case, it will be a waste of time. But when there is a one in a thousand chance occurring, I will not end it by giving it up, unable to do anything. I want to plan on keeping this knowledge."
Inaba made a sigh and pulled her lips up broadly grinning.
"I am going to explain the mystery of Heartseed."
She made a daredevil announcement.
"It’s not like you give up……."
Kiriyama let out a voice with amazement.
"Trying to explain the mechanism behind natural disaster is human right? I really hate not knowing. I said that but when choosing the discipline I won't take this into consideration. Whichever discipline it is, it won't get any closer to that guy’s phenomenon."
"What's done is done, and it cannot be helped" is what I thought, but Inaba is stuck with a belief to "to completely take advantage of the situation." Furthermore not being reckless and precisely looking up at realistic problems. Amazing, Taichi thought without rose coloured glasses.
"Inaba is a little cool huh!? The feelings of the people presenting after become easier~. If compared to that they can look shabby~"
Nagase with a "Haaa" let out a sigh and hit her forehead.
"Ah, ummm, and ……Iori-senpai……what kind of wonderful magnificent future……?"
"You’re strict! You completely don’t even give me time to loosen my hands! Shino-chan, do you have a wicked tongue or a sadist!? ……And…….uh, those sparkling innocent eyes……"
"Unjust suspicion of me and aren’t you a tyrant……" said Nagase who pressed her chest and acted like she was in pain. She said "It can't be helped" and started talking.
"Well recently, I, the thing I want to do…… I can see it a little bit."
"Ehehe," Nagase was shy.
"That circumstance it can be humanities but also science~. The service program will also be in hand."
"I get a feeling that you’re overemphasizing." said Chihiro.
"But I still haven’t announced it in the beginning! The only hint I will say is it is related to children. In a little while, when I become certain I will properly announce it. So until then, look forward to it!"
"It’s fishy. Aren't you trying to get away like usual?"
Inaba without delay said one line.
"I was deceived! As I thought, the strictest person is Inaban~!"
Taichi was shocked by Nagase’s announcement.
Not knowing the things she likes herself, not knowing what she wants to do herself. Going on and on, the confused girl has moved forward towards the thing she wants to do. I know she has overcome her worries and is walking out of it. I didn’t know that she has come to here.
Unexpectedly, their eyes met. Nagase showed a smile like a sunflower. Taichi silently nodded.
—Thank You. There was a feeling that he heard that.
"Everyone are certain with their decision….Even though I am wavering~. I won’t be left behind~"
Kiriyama flapped her body.
"Why? Yui looks like she can get a sports scholarship, am I right?"
"Only the results of the next tournament is left. But I’m still undecided. I wonder if I will stop doing Karate after high school."
"Aren’t you too good at it? You have the spirit of talent."
This time Inaba said.
"Spirit……I wonder. But in the future, I want to be a person in society who is useful. It's not that karate isn't useful but only being strong physically is not enough."
Kiriyama pointed out the thing she wants to become out from the reasonable comment.
"…..Heartseed is a special example but seeing that guy, in this world, I think that there is many people who has been visited by something illogical. I want to protect those people!..... That means, I want to correct the bad things in this world so maybe a police officer I wonder!"
For a girl bursting into a smile, probably only cuteness is shown. But if you carefully face her, you can feel the hidden strength of her heart and body.
"Your intentions are wonderful but becoming a police officer is not that easy."
Inaba was harsh.
"I, I haven’t thought that far!"
"Well, humanities or science which one? By the way humanities?"
Kiriyama was asked by Nagase and she answered with "Hhmm, that’s still under consideration."
"All the senpais are amazing…… One year after we will be doing something similar……"
Enjouji was admiring them and beside her Taichi was the same.
The potential of the three girls of the Cultural Research is quite high. If these three are serious, it looks like they can accomplish anything. He remembered the similar but scary expectation.
"And, the two boys, how about you? For starters~ ……..Taichi!"
Nagase pointed her finger.
He opened his mouth by reflex and it looked like he was going to say something.
But he noticed that nothing come out from him.
Silence. He's at his limit.
Kiriyama asked with curiosity.
Suddenly silent, he did not move.
Inaba called out but with a "Hah," he came to his senses.
All the members had their sights focused on him.
His cheeks became hot. He felt his entire body sweating.
"Well…..I still, completely haven’t thought about it. … Really it’s a blank sheet. I will think about it from now."
"It’s not particularly something you need to hide."
"You’re wrong Chihiro-kun. If I were in his position, there's so many choice that I would be confused myself. A voice actor or a narrator or an announcer or maybe something along the line of using his sweet voice every morning to wake me up."
"Ah……what's with your last wish!?"
"What are you doing making delusions about someone else's boyfriend, Shino…… However, a morning call……certainly that’s something worth discussing…….but of course, the only person who is allowed listen is me."
"I-Inaba-senpai! One time is good enough so make a recording and let me listen to it please!"
"……When it’s related to voices your aggressiveness is really serious, Enjouji."
Chihiro was astonished.
Since the two first years and Inaba were talking, their focus shifted away from Taichi.
"Mmmmm, well that's ok. Well, Aoki?"
Nagase tossed the topic to Aoki.
He wanted to say something but stopped. It wasn't that he made a sigh it seems. Aoki hesitating is rare.
"………Will become a boss quickly! Start a company and become the boss! Going to university is probably impossible, so I'll work."
"Is it because you're stupid that you can't go to university…..? I pity you…… But is our school's standard is so low that even you can temporarily enter and somehow manage it……?"
"Don't seriously pity me, Yui! It has nothing to do with being stupid! …..Ah, as I thought, there is a direction that is related….."
"What are you saying, are you stupid?"
Inaba coldly said.
"No, no, it's not that."
And denial entered the conversation. It wasn't Aoki but Nagase.
"A direction without interruptions?"
Nagase turned to Aoki and confirmed something with him. The tow looked at each other and a strange gap was made.
"Without…..No soon….a possible direction! It has nothing to do with hiding it or not hiding it."
"Huh…..serious? I can say, there's no way I recommend it? Confirming it or something……"
"I get it Iori-chan. I will do just that I thought."
"What's going on? What happened?"
The two had a discussion only those two would understand. Taichi asked.
"Well well, I will start talking about it now. Without hesitation, I hope you would listen to me."
From the introduction, Aoki continued and spoke.
"Frankly, there's been a little trouble……It looks like my father was fired from his company. Just when the company was restructuring the essential personnel. Well, he was guilty of doing something. Though the person himself said 'I didn't do it' and we believe him."
A serious atmosphere rose from the odds and ends of the words.
"'Didn't do it' …..you said?"
Kiriyama had a very worried expression.
"Mmmm…..please pardon me on that. Even Yui don't need to be worried because it's alright."
Looking like not knowing what kind of response she should make, Kiriyama looked downwards.
"No no don't apologize," said Aoki with a bitter smile.
"My sister is working but there is the loan for the house to think about and financial problems."
"But right now…….it's because you have a scholarship ."
Taichi said according to his thoughts.
"Mm, we will manage somehow or another the tuition until graduation, but for that Nee-chan will become unable to leave the family. Ah, Nee-chan is already 24 you see, and because she has a strong sense of responsibility, in this kind of situation she would say something like until I get out of university I would stay in the family. Long awaited, she finally met a good person she said."
"……I don't know whether it's good that it was outside of what I was thinking, ……but it's a serious reason."
Inaba had a meek face.
"Don't be so gloomy don't be so gloomy! It's not like I'm dead. Well, my family is saying 'No matter what it takes, you'll enter university,' we'll manage one way or another!"
Aoki showed a laugh. But that smile, saying that you completely can't see a shade, is a lie.
Being with him so long, we completely understand. Aoki is taking a heavy hit.
Problems in reality are at times more serious than supernatural problems.
But the reality is we must continue on living.
"I coincidentally heard Aoki and the teacher talking by accident….."
Nagase said unpleasantly on the side and Kiriyama raised her face.
"If there is anything we can do say it! Really……say it."
"Thanks. Well I will rely on you Yui!"
Aoki made a smile but lured Kiriyama to soften her expression.
But right after, Kiriyama's face became dark and she looked down. At the same time she whispered something.
It did not properly reach anyone with that quiet voice. But Taichi was able to read the movements of her mouth.
—In this situation……I can't……be decisive about confessing now……
While Taichi is returning home from the club activities, he stopped by a café with Inaba.
It wasn't something one would call a date. Sometimes when the club activities are finished, Taichi and Inaba make time for themselves. (When the two going together separated from the others, it wasn't significant enough for Nagase to make fun of.)
Like a sea urchin, Inaba pressed Taichi's cheeks with her index finger.
"That is why" "Poke" "Hey" "Poke poke" "Hey" "……poke?"
While her finger is still pressed into Taichi's cheeks, with an innocent face Inaba tilted her head to one side in confusion.
That looks like a baby seeking affection from their parents……it was super cute.
"I-Inaba…… things like that is, somewhat coming to my heart."
"I will knock down your heart then."
This time she made a gun shape with her hands. And a wink with cuteness and coolness is mixed hopelessly together was done.
Not pretending to be hit, Taichi's heart was simply killed and Taichi pressed his chest.
What…..amazing destructive power from that…..
"Hmmm, Today's Dere will be around this much."
"Hey, don't say something that will wake me from the dream."
I will adjust with my own will so stop doing that.
"Anyways, you. Do you really have a blank sheet for the career survey?"
It changed to today's main topic, the talk about the future. Again it was brought up.
"Ah….. There's still……about two months."
Taichi dodged the issue by being evasive. He sipped his milk tea.
"The humanities or sciences choice?"
"It's already the fall of second year so it would seem good to have thought out to that stage."
Recently, Inaba has become a little harsh on Taichi.
It was the fault of being used to the sweet-sweet Inaba, she became having feeling of being angry with me…… but of course even being angry at me couldn't be helped.
It's not like my choice is as narrow as Aoki's. But also not like Inaba and the others either who has steady focus of the future and not at the step of being confused about the future.
If I think about it, at the time of the high school entrance exam, I didn't have the feeling of carefully thinking about what I want to become in the future.
"You are somewhat indecisive at times. But then you do have kindness."
Indecisiveness, kindness. Is it ok to perceive those words as generous?
"Because you're kind, you….."
Unexpectedly, shadows ran across Inaba's face. It was dark like light did not come close but that quickly disappeared and Inaba's face became bright.
"Slowly worry, young one."
"We're the same age."
"Huhuhu," and calmly laughed. Her glossy semi-long hair swayed.
A really mature look. Of course, right. If we say not yet then we're still not yet. If we say very soon then we will be very soon. We will become adults ourselves.
Path. Future. Career. Dreams. Life.
Unable to see the extremely big picture, Taichi felt a pressure on his body.
Even saying the path one should take, Taichi did not have any thought coming up.
It became like aimlessly taking in the anxiety. Confused, he let out a breath to escape from the suffocation.
"Well, you'll manage somehow."
Inaba words were extremely comforting, and he will manage somehow. Taichi has decided to be optimistic for now.
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