Chapter 9 Answering the Question
“The game you told me about, I was so addicted to it, that I stayed up all night…….”
I went straight to a family restaurant after finishing my part-time job, and this was the first thing Kazemiya said to me after I met up with her.
(I didn’t expect that she had really stayed up all night playing the game…….)
To be honest, although I recommended it to her, I didn’t think she would be so engrossed in it.
By the way, the game I recommended to Kazemiya was a new action game that was just released the other day.
In this game, the player became a hunter, defeated monsters, strengthened their weapons and armor, and hunted stronger monsters again.
“I know I recommended it, but I didn’t think Kazemiya would be that into it.”
“I’m surprised at myself.
It was the kind of game I don’t usually play, and I thought maybe I would stop playing it soon…….but, I think I like this kind of game where you have to keep improving your character.”
She had such a dazzling appearance, but she likes to work hard.
When talking with Kazemiya, the word “gap” fell like rain.
“How far have you gotten, by the way?”
“That’s too fast.”
In terms of progression, it was around the latter half of the game.
Even though this game had a starting point of finishing the story quests, it was still quite fast-paced.
“It took me three days to get there.”
“Are you saying Narumi is slow or something?”
“Sure, it’s not the fastest one, but still, your speed is off the charts.
How late were you up?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t sleep in the first place.”
“Should I be happy or sad as the one who recommended it……”
“You should just be happy about that.”
When I saw Kazemiya smiling while looking sleepy, I could tell that she was really into the game I recommended, not out of flattery or anything.
“I’m sure Narumi will overtake me soon.
Then, how about I help you collect materials?”
“If that really happens, I’ll be a little disheartened.”
I would say that I fell into the otaku category but in a shallow and broad sense.
I rarely play games, but in Kazemiya’s case, she might be the type who plays them all the way through.
Then, do your best not to be overtaken.”
“I’d like to…but if I’m too absorbed in playing games at home, I don’t feel comfortable in front of my stepsister.”
“My mom’s remarried partner has a daughter who’s a freshman in high school.
This junior is not only serious but also very talented…and she’s been pointing out how late I’ve been coming home.”
“The type that would be class president or something?”
“The type that would be class president or something.”
“Right…but, I see.
So that’s your little sister.”
“What about you?”
“In my house, it’s my mom who says those things.”
Something like heat faded from Kazemiya’s eyes.
Like a cup of hot tea that had been left unattended cooled down.
“She doesn’t care what I do.
But, I can’t do anything to ruin your older sister’s reputation.
Don’t do anything that will be a drag on your older sister—or something like that.
That’s all she cares about.”
She played with the white cup of the store with her delicate, beautiful fingers.
“So yesterday when I was talking to Narumi’s mom……I got a little jealous.”
“You’re jealous…of me?”
She was really worried about Narumi, and when she found out he had a female friend, she was really happy.
My mom wouldn’t have been like this.”
Kazemiya laughed self-mockingly, and that was where the conversation stopped.
The conversations of businessmen on their way home from work and the customer service of the waiters.
The voices, which normally would not be bothersome if they were conversing, were now vividly audible.
I’m not trying to preach to you.”
“I know that’s not what you meant.”
I would not enter into the affairs of Kazemiya’s house.
Kazemiya didn’t enter into the affairs of my house.
“We’re just complaining and listening.
We won’t go any further than that – right? So you don’t have to worry about that, Kazemiya.”
“…I really like how easy it is to talk to Narumi.
I wish all boys were like Narumi.”
“I don’t want it, that’s for sure.”
“Well, from your point of view, for sure.”
Kazemiya took a breath and quenched her throat with a sip of cold tea.
I think this is the first time I’ve ever complained so much about my family.”
“I’ve never talked about my family this casually before either.”
Although I talked to Natsuki sometimes, I still always felt a kind of guilt.
It was not the kind of atmosphere to complain like this.
“If it’s true, you know.
I wouldn’t like it if you just brought up my sister or my mom.”
“That’s what you get when you see Kazemiya in the classroom.”
Kazemiya’s cheeks puffed out in disapproval.
“I usually turned them down at first because they were just after my sister.
But then some of them wouldn’t give up.
But if you keep on intimidating them like that, they will eventually stop coming.”
Even I could understand now that just as being well behaved was self-defense for me, and that attitude in the classroom was probably self-defense for Kazemiya.
—Kazemiya-senpai is a person of whom I have not heard many good rumors.
If you are seen out together late at night, even Narumi-senpai could get caught up in the rumors.
—Rumors that she’s out at night or hanging out with bad people, I don’t even know if they’re true or not.
I don’t really like those kinds of rumors.
At that moment, the words of Tsujikawa and Natsuki came back to my mind.
Tsujikawa heard whispers in the school about the “not-so-good rumors”.
“Ah, maybe you’re wondering about the ‘rumor’?”
She seemed to have found out what I was thinking by the fact that I just hesitated to say it.
“It’s not that I care.
“I just remembered because my sister gave me a little nagging this morning.”
I’m curious, about the details of that little nagging.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”
“Don’t we need to share information with our allies?”
That’s cheating if you brought that logic.
After all, our relationship was built on the basis of an “alliance” of sorts.
To deny that would be to deny this time and relationship itself.
“….She said, ‘Kazemiya-senpai is a person of whom I have not heard many good rumors.
If you are seen out together late at night, even Narumi-senpai could get caught up in the rumors.’….”
A sister who loves her brother.”
I’m just taking those ridiculous rumors to heart.”
“Could it be Narumi, are you angry?”
The question settled in my mind.
It was like finding a piece of the puzzle I was looking for and it fits perfectly.
“I hated it when people took ridiculous rumors to heart and said bad things about my friends…and it made me angry.
…Ah, I see.
I was angry because people were saying bad things about Kazemiya.”
Now I finally understood.
Tsujikawa’s perception of Kazemiya and her warning to me.
That was the reason why it had been stuck in my head for so long.
I was angry.
I was angry because someone said something bad about my friend.
It was that simple.
“Ahh……that clears things up.
I feel like I finally got it off my chest.
I’ve been worrying about it all morning, but now I’ll be able to sleep comfortably.
I feel so good, I might even indulge myself and order a grape parfait!”
As I was feeling refreshed and relieved, Kazemiya herself, sitting in front of me, was for some reason stiffening.
“Hey, what’s wrong Kazemiya?”
For some reason, KAZEMIYA was flustered and acting suspiciously.
I had never seen her this restless in the classroom or at this family restaurant.
“It’s a little…awkward because I’ve been told to my face that I’m your friend, and…you’re angry for me.”
“That’s not it.
It’s not that I don’t like it…it’s more like…”
Kazemiya stuttered as if searching for the word within herself.
But she must have found the word right away.
Her ears turned bright red while she turned her gaze away from me…….
That made me happy.”
She was embarrassed.
That Kazemiya Kohaku.
It was dangerous.
If I had activated the camera mode of my smartphone, I might have taken a picture of her.
We’re not just allies.”
“I said it in the heat of the moment, but I think you’re right.
I told my mom you’re my female friend, too.”
“Of course, the “alliance” relationship still exists.”
More and more titles were added.
But I didn’t feel bad about the increasing number of titles.
“…By the way, about the rumors.
In case you’re wondering, I don’t do anything other than going home from this store at night.
I stop by the convenience store once in a while, but I don’t go out to play or anything like that.
And…as for the rumor that I’m involved with some not-so-good people, I think that’s just because I was seen being scouted by the president of an entertainment agency.
That guy was fancy looking.”
Well…I guess it is something like that.
That’s the truth of the rumor, huh? You’re keeping this rumor alive just to cut down on the number of people who come to you for your sister, right?”
“You can guess that much.
“If I put it in the context of family matters, I could guess it.
The nightlife thing was somewhat predictable…and the scouting thing was unexpected, but it wasn’t particularly surprising.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Kazemiya got a scout or two.”
“….What do you mean by that?”
“I mean, that’s how attractive you are.”
I wouldn’t say that Kazemiya had a good reputation when she was in the classroom.
Even so, everyone couldn’t take their eyes off Kazemiya, and they were aware of Kazemiya Kohaku.
That was how attractive she was.
“Grape parfait, you want some Kazemiya? I’m in a good mood, so I’ll buy it for you.”
I ordered two grape parfaits from the waitress I called.
While waiting for the exciting dessert, Kazemiya casually cut in.
“You know, Narumi.
Do you hate the fact that there are rumors about me?”
“I never liked those rumors in the first place, and now that I’m friends with Kazemiya, I just don’t like them anymore.
I understand that it’s self-defense for you, so I’ll try to be patient from now on.”
—What exactly did you get it?
I didn’t find out until a little later.
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