Chapter 22: Unknowingly trying to lead someone astray is the hallmark of a true heroine.

On the way home from a date with Ayana, Kotone appeared right in front of us and raised her voice.
I had thought that I might have run into Shu’s family on the way to drop Ayana off, but as bad as my premonitions can be, the bad predictions often come true.

I see intense anger in Kotone’s eyes as she looks at me.
It’s as if she’s saying, “Why are you next to Ayana? Why are you Ayana’s lover and not Shu? Why isn’t Shu the one next to Ayana?” Her voice echoes in my mind and I instinctively put my hand on my forehead.


I heard Ayana’s worried voice coming from next to me.
I told her I was fine and opened my mouth to Kotone, who was still glaring at me.

“I am in love with Ayana.
That’s why I confessed my love to Ayana, and she accepted it, and we became lovers.
That’s all there is to it.
There was nothing strange about that.”

“Shut up!”

…So this is what it means to be stranded with nowhere to go.

Kotone probably won’t listen to anything I say.
Eventually… Ah, that’s right.
It’s the same thing I thought about Hatsune-san back then.
This world of theirs ultimately revolves around them alone.

Shu and Kotone, Hatsune-san… come to think of it, what about her husband? For now, let’s leave that aside.
The world where Ayana is the only one there is their world.
Kotone, the girl, simply admires Shu, and it’s true that she also admires Ayana who was by his side.

(…So these are the people who were deceived by her masks.)

I can’t know how Ayana’s actions of suppressing her true feelings and serving Shu appeared to Kotone and the others, but perhaps she seemed like a convenient presence to them.

When people say “convenient,” it’s often taken in a negative sense, but in the case of these girls, they genuinely believe that being with the pure and innocent Ayana is everything, and that being with Shuu is what makes Ayana happy.
That’s where the misunderstanding began.

Thinking about it that way, Ayana’s past was pretty hellish.
What if they hadn’t met at that time? It’s an impossible “if” now, but it makes me feel a pain in my chest to think that Ayana might have continued to suffer forever if she hadn’t been with us.

“…Hey, Kotone-chan, Ayana isn’t a doll.
She’s a human being with her own will.”

“Huh? What are you saying that’s so obvious?”

At this point, she doesn’t seem to realize what she doesn’t understand.

“Then let me ask you, have you… have you ever heard Ayana’s true voice?”

“True voice… What are you talking about all of a sudden?”

Kotone really doesn’t seem to understand the meaning behind my words.
Maybe it’s cruel to expect a child at that time to understand.
After all, Ayana’s mask even deceived her own mother, so it might be inevitable.

Thinking that this conversation might be too much for her, I was about to continue speaking, but Ayana stopped me.
She stepped forward and looked at Kotone, speaking calmly.

“Kotone-chan, I’ve been suffering for a long time—being with you all.”


Ayana’s words hit the nail on the head.
Even I didn’t expect her to say it so clearly, and like Kotone, I was a little surprised and looked at Ayana.
Ayana continued to speak calmly without changing her demeanor.

“…To be honest, I should have been clearer about my feelings too.
But back then, I just followed what I was told to do.
I prioritized Shu-kun because he was my childhood friend, and I spent my days just being with you all because of that connection… He was the one who rescued me from those days, and this warmth led me out of that small world.
Since then, I’ve liked Towa-kun all along.
And finally, those feelings were conveyed and we were able to be together in a true sense.
So, Kotone-chan, I can’t go back to being the Ayana you all love anymore.”

Saying that, she looked at me and held my hand.

“This warmth led me out of that small world that day.
From then on, I’ve liked Towa-kun all along.
And finally, those feelings were conveyed and we were able to be together in a true sense.
So, Kotone-chan, I can’t go back to being the Ayana you all love anymore.”

Her words were straightforward and clear.
To me, they also sounded like a farewell to the them.

The words were a bit difficult to understand, but Kotone seemed bewildered yet focused.
She wasn’t looking at me, but only at Ayana.

“I don’t understand.
Ayana onee-chan was always by my side.
She was always smiling and by Onii-chan’s side… When mom said you should become his bride, you nodded with a smile, right?”

That was the Ayana who wore a mask…

Kotone’s illusion of Ayana was shattered by her own words.
While I can understand why she may lash out at me, saying anything more now would just be adding insult to injury.
I don’t really want to be friends with Kotone, but I don’t want to hurt her either.
So when I tried to leave with Ayana, Kotone erupted in anger.

“….Of course, that’s it! Ayana onee-chan became strange after meeting you!”

 It’s true that Ayana changed when she met me.
But I don’t think that was a mistake.
Above all, it was that encounter that led us to where we are today.

“Kotone-chan, please stop it—-“

When Ayana tried to approach and calm Kotone down, she blurted out words that even I, who had overcome the past, found a little piercing in my heart.
And then…

“You make me go crazy! Mom said that you were punished when you had the accident! You should have died instead of getting injured! Then she could have been by Onii-chan’s side forever!!”

It was the worst trigger that touched the anger of the girl who loved me.


When I heard Kotone’s words, I felt a little sad.
It’s true that there was resentment, but I thought I would just live on without caring about it anymore.
But… even so, it was hard to be told to die face to face.
Even though I said that the person I saved, Shu, was your family, I am still being talked about as if I am the bad guy… It’s tough.

…Anyway, those words just now really got to me.
Even the gentle Towa-kun wouldn’t forgive this brat.
Just as I was about to say something a little harsh to the kid in front of me, Ayana’s voice sounded cold.

“…Hey, what did you say just now?”

It was a cold voice that made me feel like the surrounding temperature had dropped several degrees.

Unconsciously, I looked at Ayana’s expression, and she had a mask-like expressionless face.
Her eyes didn’t reflect any light, and she was staring at Kotone as if she had forgotten my existence.


Staring into such cold eyes, Kotone involuntarily fell on her buttocks on the spot and was unable to move.
Ayana slowly, slowly walked to close the distance between her and Kotone.

“Hey, what did you say? Hey… Hey!! You can hear me, right!?”

“Hey, what did you say? Hey… hey!! Can’t you hear me!?”

“…No… no!”

Ayana forgetting even her usual polite language and losing control in anger is scary.
Ayana normally defaults to polite language, but when she crosses a certain line of anger, she becomes like this and her language becomes vulgar.
I’m not particularly surprised since it’s often depicted in games, but for Kotone, it seems to be a different story.
She completely lost her footing when she saw Ayana’s expression for the first time.

“What did you say!? You always do this kind of thing–“

Ayana tried to approach Kotone, but stopped and took a small deep breath.
She still felt angry, but she seemed calmer than before as she continued to speak.

“I don’t like you guys.
I have nothing to do with you.
So please don’t have anything to do with me either.
And that includes Towa-kun… If you say anything to Towa-kun again, I won’t show any mercy.”

Her words were a clear rejection of them.
Kotone seemed like she was about to cry, but her fear of Ayana won out and she left, stumbling and ungraceful.
When Kotone’s back disappeared, Ayana ran to me and clung to me, pressing her forehead against my chest.

“I’m sorry.
It seems like I made Ayana say everything.”

“No… I couldn’t stop myself either.”

We stayed together like that for a while.
A few minutes passed, and Ayana finally calmed down enough to let go.

“…..Fue, I feel better now.
But… I feel strangely refreshed.
It’s like I released everything I was holding back.”

“You had a really intense expression though.”

“F-Forget about it! Ah, mou… it’s the worst to show that side of me in front of Towa-kun!”

Ayana’s face turned red with embarrassment as she shook her head and seemed reluctant.
Although I already knew about that side of her, it was a little touching to see it firsthand.
And even though I was moved by Kotone’s words that resonated with my heart, I was genuinely happy that Ayana was angry with me like that.

“I love Ayana no matter what kind of person you are..but I will try to avoid making you angry like that.”

If she had scolded me with that kind of expression, I might have cried too.
Although I wasn’t too surprised by her reaction, I still felt scared.

“Is there anything that would make Towa-kun angry…? I will spoil you a lot, you know?”

“Please stop.
If you spoil me any more, I’ll end up drowning in Ayana’s love and become a useless person.”

“What’s wrong with that? Towa-kun, please let yourself drown in my love even more.
I’ll take care of you, so it’s okay if you become a useless person by my side.”

She said it as if it were natural, but was she expecting a reaction?

But somehow, since we started dating…well, even before that, I had a feeling that Ayana might be the type to turn the person she loves into a bad boy.
She had a kind of seductive, demonic quality that could envelop her partner in love and devotion and lead them to corruption.

(At first I thought she would be the heroine who gets corrupted, but in reality she’s the one who corrupts others…isn’t that too novel?)

But that’s also one of her charms.

If I’m not careful, I might really end up being corrupted by Ayana…in a bad way.

“Towa-kun, shall we go home?”

 I nodded to Ayana, who crossed her arms with me and started walking away.

 Meeting Kotone was unexpected and a little painful in some ways, but I have a feeling that we won’t see each other so often after being rejected by Ayana to that extent.

 It’s a bit bewildering that they remain at cross purposes without having a firm discussion.

“What’s wrong?”

 I feel like that’s not a problem as long as this girl is there next to me.

“Thanks, Ayana.”

Ayana was surprised for a moment at such a short response, but quickly smiled and nodded her head.


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