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When I returned to my room, they greeted me with smiles.
“Ah, welcome back.”
“Thank you very much.”
I was glad they seemed to enjoy their talk.
Arisu-chan immediately came next to me and entwined my arm with hers.
That sensation made me feel relieved. As I thought, I was no good unless we were together.
“…I see, so this is what you mean.”
“Do you understand now?”
I wouldn’t pry into their meaningful exchange.
Digging into girls’ secrets was boorish, after all.
Kikyou-chan seemed to be in a very good mood.
That was what I thought, but she felt a little different. She had a somewhat embarrassed expression I had never seen before. She sat restlessly on the other side of Arisu-chan and took a deep breath.
Then she whispered in my ear.
“…Arisu-chan said she was against us staying as ‘best friends’.”
“So forgive me for this, okay?”
She closed her eyes and brought her face closer…
Something soft touched me. My thoughts couldn’t catch up with what happened just now.
Why did Kikyou-chan do that to me? Why at this time?
Any doubts that popped into my head were erased by the warmth on my lips and I couldn’t think of anything else.
Kikyou-chan was kissing me. That was more than enough to rob me of my composure.
Of course, I was happy. I also liked her very much, and I already considered her more than a best friend inwardly.
However, I couldn’t hide my confusion at the sudden and overly radical approach.
I got the feeling that the whole process was omitted and the conclusion was suddenly thrust at me.
“Fufu, it was just as I expected.”
While we were doing so, Arisu-chan looked at us with amusement.
There was no doubt that she was the one who arranged this. How did she come to think of making this happen?
I thought I understood Arisu-chan’s way of thinking to some extent, but it seemed that I still didn’t get it at all.
However, after thinking about it slowly, I felt like I could understand. I had begun to get used to reading Arisu-chan’s thoughts to such an extent that I had baseless confidence in that regard.
“Kikyou-san, my feelings for you are just as I told you earlier. I both like you and am jealous of you the most. And because of that, I love you… Please take care of me from now on.”
“Yes. I will always cherish Arisu-chan.”
Kikyou-chan had a notebook in her bag.
It was the “Arisu-chan memo” that I wrote. Seemed like it got passed to her.
Even the dull me could understand the meaning of that.
…I guess Kikyou-chan will be with us forever.
But I was glad it was this girl. She was the gentle girl who loved both Arisu-chan and me.
I think that meeting her was the luckiest thing that happened since enrolling in this school.
“I’m sure you’ll be part of our family someday. I’m looking forward to that day.”
Arisu-chan, who said that, looked happy from the bottom of her heart.
That night, I had a hard time falling asleep.
So Arisu-chan and I were standing at the end of the deck, enjoying the sea breeze.
“Too many things happened today and my excitement won’t cool down.”
“Fufu, how was the matter with Kiyotaka-kun?”
“As expected, he is dangerous. But Kei-chan gave a strong impression that she was happy with that.”
I see, replied Arisu-chan briefly and she fell silent.
It was a night with just the two of us without anyone else. The eerie silence shook my heart.
“…I see that you are not asking about the matter regarding Kikyou-san.”
“I won’t ask. Since it’s Arisu-chan, I’m sure you’re acting with me as the top priority, right?”
I immediately responded to her muttering.
It was an absolute trust. If I were to express the relationship between me and Arisu-chan in a phrase, it would be something like that.
No matter what, we wouldn’t betray each other and we needed each other.
It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that she was my other half.
The kiss with Kikyou-chan certainly surprised me. But I was sure there was something to think about this too.
No matter what happened in the future, it was impossible for our bond to be shaken.
“Thank you very much. I’m very happy to hear that… fufu, actually, that is the reason.”
Arisu-chan let go of my hand for a moment and stood at the edge of the deck.
She reflexively moved her legs, which made me think it would be dangerous if she fell, but she supported herself with her hand.
“…You actually don’t see me as a woman, do you?”
The ship shook along with the sound of waves.
For a moment, I couldn’t understand what she was saying.
Arisu-chan looked confident and didn’t break her smile.
“I don’t see Arisu-chan as a woman?”
“You and I are too close to being in a relationship of the opposite sex. It feels off to name the relationship of someone more precious than parents as a lover—an extension of someone else.”
After a moment, I finally understood what she was saying.
To me, what kind of existence was Arisu-chan?
Indeed, everything was as she said. Upon recalling the past, it made sense.
We spent most of our days together, bathed together, and slept together.
It wasn’t something special and became a norm. That certainly felt different from being a lover.
Both of us were two in one. I would be fine as long as Arisu-chan was happy, and vice versa.
Basically, love only existed toward other people. We didn’t deny the love between parent and child or between siblings, but our feeling was universal in that respect.
I guess that’s what she meant by being too close.
“What should we do from now on?”
“What do you want to happen, Haruto-kun?”
What do I want, huh? This was surely a very important question.
Arisu-chan would probably act as I wished according to my answer.
I looked up at the night sky once and calmed my mind. There was a beautiful starry sky in the ocean.
What would be the best for us?
“…I’d like to put the topic on hold for now. The shock is so great that I can’t come up with an answer right away.”
“I understand. Thank you very much for thinking seriously about it.”
In the end, I couldn’t come up with an answer right away.
That said, I think it was fine to stay this way for now.
High school life was long. I decided there was no need to rush to a conclusion.
“But I love Arisu-chan, more than anyone else.”
“I also love Haruto-kun.”
We kissed and confirmed each other’s existence. At this moment, I understood once again.
This feeling was… rather than calling it a romance between man and woman, it was closer to affection toward family.
“…I thought it was closer than a parental relationship, but I guess it wasn’t even that.”
“Yes. I also thought exactly the same. You are already ‘my other self’.”
What did Arisu-chan want to do? I could somehow understand it.
It was an ability that came from years of supporting her.
Even when I didn’t have any special feelings toward her, reading Arisu-chan’s mind made my work easier, so I made it my top priority.
The ability developed and before I knew it, I was able to read Arisu-chan’s thoughts and feelings.
Now it was even possible to sense the movement of Arisu-chan’s heart from her slight gestures and changes in facial expression.
…Arisu-chan might be capable of doing the same thing to me.
It was easy to forget, but she was a super genius. If she used all her abilities for my sake, she should be able to learn that much easily.
Originally, only married couples who had been together for decades were capable of that.
Our peculiar circumstances had sped up the clock insanely fast.
Someone who could understand your will and act ahead of time.
It could be considered as your other self.
“The reason you made Kikyou-chan do that is because she loved me as a person of the opposite sex, right?”
I asked Arisu-chan directly.
Now that I knew that much, there was no need to pretend that I didn’t understand.
Until now, I had been trying not to say things unless I was sure, but I decided to stop doing that in the future. My prediction about Arisu-chan was surely correct.
“You’re right. Fufu, it sure is youth.”
“I’m saying this beforehand, but I don’t think it’s that deep yet, you know?”
“I know. That’s why I wanted to try it.”
“Judging from Kikyou-chan’s reaction, she didn’t seem aware of it yet.”
Something that could be done toward another person. Kikyou-chan and I hadn’t left that territory yet.
However, things like lovers in high school were established exactly because of that degree of relationship.
After understanding that much, the meaning of the last words that Arisu-chan said also made sense.
She wished that Kikyou-chan could go beyond that and arrive at the same place as us. It was such a wish.
Making Kikyou-chan practice supporting Arisu-chan was also part of that.
“…Love is difficult, isn’t it? I began to think that recently.”
“If it’s difficult for Arisu-chan, then it’s something incomprehensible to me. But isn’t it fine to be like that?”
We were getting sleepy, so we returned to the guest room while holding hands.
Just before we entered the ship from the deck, I concluded the discussion as follows.
“Thinking about each other like an idiot. I think this behavior is love.”
The sky was still beautiful.
The next one would be on Saturday or Sunday.
It might be another chapter in Arisu-chan’s perspective after a long while.
Arisu-chan was quite jealous of Kushida.
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