CH 1.5

The day after Touya revealed his feelings to me.
Me, Touya, and Ruri went to school together.

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We usually go to school together, or rather, we have always gone to school together since elementary school.

I thought that Touya was going to ask me to leave them so they could go to school alone, but he told me that if I did that, she would definitely notice..

When I heard that, I felt a bit of relief, even though I was pathetic.

“Oh! Here comes yesterday’s hero!”

As we entered the classroom together since all three of us were in the same class, Takanashi, a classmate and a member of the same soccer team, pointed his finger at us and started to talk.
He pointed to Touya.

“Eh, what? Me?”

“We were just talking about yesterday’s game.
That was an amazing dribble and shot from Touya.
He seriously looked like an ace!”

For some reason, Takanashi sounded proud.

“You’re so cool, Touya~!”

“As expected of Touya!”

“Touya is really amazing!”

The other classmates instantly surrounded Touya while praising him.

Thanks to this, I and Ruri, who were by his side, were pushed out.

“No, I just played my role as a forward, and I couldn’t dribble or shoot if my teammates hadn’t got the ball to me in the first place…”

“Why are you being so modest? We won yesterday thanks to Touya, so you should be more proud of yourself!”

As Takanashi patted Touya on the back, his classmates also said stuff like, “Touya’s so cool!” “Touya is the best!”

The day after the soccer team’s games were usually like this.

Whenever the team won a game, it was always because Touya scored a goal.

And he was a person with an outstanding sense of sportsmanship, grades that always rank in the top one digit of the grade, a handsome and bright face, and a gentlemanly personality.

So it was not at all unusual for me to have a situation like today where they have “Touya Fever.”

Naturally, I was no match for him in soccer or academics.

But I respected him and admired him.

“Hey you all! Yesterday’s game had heroes other than Touya!”

Suddenly, a lively voice echoed through the classroom.
It was Ruri.

“What? Where is he?”

“He’s right here! Here!”

Takanashi asked with a dubious look in his eyes, and Ruri raised my arm to the sky like a referee raising the boxer’s winner.
What was she doing!?”

“Kenji was yesterday’s hero…?”

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“That’s right! If it wasn’t for Kinu’s pass, Touya-kun wouldn’t have scored that goal! In other words, Kinu staged yesterday’s victory! He’s a fantasista!” (EDN: According to google, Fantasista is a old soccer/football manga)

Ruri appealed desperately.

“Fantasista” was an exaggeration, and she definitely didn’t understand the meaning of the word.

“It’s started again.
Aima’s fondness for her childhood friend”

Takanashi said in exasperation at Ruri’s comment.

The other classmates also looked at each other with the same look of “Oh, no, not again.”

“What’s with that reaction! I’m just telling the truth! If it weren’t for Kinu’s pass…”

“Yes, yes, I’m tired of hearing you brag about your childhood friend.”

As Ruri was in the middle of her complaint, Takanashi stopped her with his hand.

“It’s true that Kenji is an okay passer, I’ll give him that.
…But other than that, he is subtle, and compared to the great Touya, he is nothing at all.”

Takanashi’s words were met with nods of agreement from his classmates.
Yesterday I was told terrible things by my enemies, and today I’m being told the same by my allies, too.
Can I cry about this?

“No, it’s not! Kinu is much more amazing and a super player than you think, Takanashi-kun!”

“I get it, I get it.
I’ll let it be that way.
Can we just drop the topic now, please~?”

Perhaps not wanting to be prodded further by Ruri, Takanashi forcefully ended the conversation and urged the surrounding classmates to disperse.

The classmates may have thought the same thing and quickly dispersed from the area.

“Mou… They don’t understand Kinu at all.”

“Don’t do anything rash.
My heart can’t take it.”

“I want everyone to know that Kinu is amazing! Also, umm… when I do this… does it bother you?”

Ruri turned her face down a little and asked anxiously.

The day after a soccer game, Ruri will always tell our classmates that I was great too when there was Touya fever going on.
Whenever Touya scores a goal, it was usually when I passed the ball to him.

To be honest, Ruri’s behavior may be a little too much… but I’m…

“I don’t mind.
Rather… umm, thank you.”

I was too embarrassed to look her in the eye, but I thanked her.

Then, Ruri’s expression suddenly changed to a bright one.

“Yeah! From now on! I’m going to show off Kinu to everyone!”

“I honestly don’t want more of that…”

Ruri was smiling happily even though she was saying so.

I wonder what she will do next time.
…It was making me nervous.

“I’m sorry, Kinu.
I should have said something more.”

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“No, it’s not Touya’s fault.
I mean, they’re right, and it’s nobody’s fault.”

I responded to Touya’s apology.

I was just a good passer there.
Nothing wrong with that.

“But then again, Ruri really likes Kinu!”

“! I-I don’t like you or anything! I just want to show you off because we’ve been together since childhood! If Kinu is great, that means I’m great!”

“You’re actually covering for me for your own good!?”

I was surprised, and Ruri laughed like a villain.

What a farce this was.
…Well, I guess it was true that she didn’t like me romantically.

“All right.
Everyone, take your seats!”

The classroom door opened and the homeroom teacher entered.
At the same time, all my classmates returned to their seats.
We were about to go to our seats as well when it happened.

“I’m looking forward to working with you about yesterday.”

Suddenly, Touya whispered in my ear so that Ruri could not hear.

When I turned around, he was smiling again, just like yesterday.

Of course.”

“I’m counting on you, my best friend.”

With that, Touya walked to his seat with a smile on his face.

…What was I doing talking happily with Ruri?

From today on I have to support Touya’s love and make sure he and Ruri get together.

I looked over and saw Ruri sitting in her seat, lightly chatting with her friends while her homeroom teacher was preparing for homeroom.
That sounds like fun…

Then I thought to myself.

I wondered if I would be able to enjoy talking with Ruri like that again if she and Touya got together.


After school.
Normally, we should be practicing for the finals of the Tokyo tournament, but our soccer team always has a cool-down day the day after a game, and club activities are canceled.
Voluntary practice is also forbidden.

According to the coach, this is because middle school students are not yet physically fit, and if they push themselves too hard, they will soon get injured.
Rest is part of practice, the coach always says.

So I was at the arcade with Ruri and Touya.

Ruri invited me to go with her.

By the way, I have been playing only with Ruri and Touya since I was little.

The reason was that I’ve always given priority to Ruri and Touya, even when I’ve been invited by other people.

That was how much I care about them.

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When I thought about it, I didn’t know anyone I was close to except the two of them…

“Yay! I win again!”

In front of the fighting game, Ruri happily shows off a guts pose.

“You’re too strong…”

Meanwhile, I, sitting opposite her, was limping.

As soon as we entered the arcade, Ruri asked me to play against her, and before I could say no, she had me sit down in front of a fighting game.
I was forced to play against her for 10 rounds, but I lost all of them.

As you would expect from someone who plays games after school every day.

I was being hit with a lot of unintelligible frame-ups, and an amateur like me couldn’t compete with her at all.

“…I’m doing it again.”

I had to support Touya’s love life, but it wasn’t going well at all because of Ruri’s behavior.
I’ve been trying to get Ruri and Touya alone at school, but she always tries to get the three of us to go out together.

Maybe Ruri valued our time together as much as I do.

Or maybe I’m simply not ready for it yet…

“Kinu, can you do me a favor?”

“! What, what is it?”

When I was unexpectedly approached by Touya, I jumped, wondering if he had seen through my mind.

“I wanted to play the crane game alone with Ruri from now on, can you find a good reason and go home?”

“Go home… but since it’s Ruri, she might say she’s going home with me then.”

“It’ll be fine.
I’m going to hold her back a little bit.
Please, Kinu.”

Touya put his hands together, then bowed his head and asked earnestly.

When my best friend did this to me, I wouldn’t be able to refuse…

“…Got it.”

“Thank you! Kinu is my best friend after all!”

Touya thanked me with a happy look on his face.

It was supposed to be a joyous occasion, but my heart didn’t beat at all.

“Sorry! My mom asked me to do some shopping, so I’m going home first!”

I said in a slightly louder voice so that Ruri could hear me over the din of the game.

“Really? Well, I should go home too—”

“No, no, Ruri should stay at the arcade.
Touya is here too!”

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I insisted, and Touya moved closer to Ruri.

I’m sorry Kinu, but we are going to play some more.”

“Eh, but…”

Ruri looked at me, but as if to intercept her, Touya took her hand and led her away.

“You worry too much.
I’m going home first, so have a good time.
See you later.”

I turned my back to them and started to walk away.

So it was just Touya and Ruri together… It was like a pseudo date already.

With this in mind, I came to the doorway of the arcade.

But then I couldn’t help but notice the two and turned around.

“Ruri, that’s great! You’re so good at the crane game!”

“Yes, I am! I’m always up for a game!”

Both of them were smiling happily.

Especially Touya had a look of enjoyment on his face that he had never shown when he was with me.

I see… Touya really likes Ruri.
Even though I heard it from him yesterday, my heart tightened again when I actually saw him like that.

After that, Touya and Ruri happily played the crane game together.

They seemed to be a good match.
…That was a given.

Touya was the ace and captain of the soccer team, and he was a smart, high-spec handsome boy.

Ruri was said to be one of the prettiest girls in our grade, and there were many boys like me and Touya who had feelings for her.

If they were to become lovers, I was sure everyone would congratulate them.

“Of course I’m not good enough.”

I was just a childhood friend who has been with her for a long time, and I was not even close to Touya in terms of studies and sports.

There was no way Ruri would ever look at me like that.

If that was the case, then I must be right in helping my best friend.

I told myself as I left the arcade by myself.


Day after day, I supported Touya so that he could be alone with Ruri.

I have heard from Touya himself that when he was alone with Ruri, he aggressively showed himself off and asked her out on dates.

However, Ruri was puzzled by his sudden change in attitude and has yet to go on a date with him.
Even so, Touya tried his best to make Ruri like him on a daily basis.

Watching my best friend’s desperate attempts, I, who at first had mixed feelings, gradually began to think about one thing.


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