So, that’s basically the state of mind the trio has during the entirety of Volume 11. However, before jumping into Volume 11, there are a couple of noteworthy things that happen in Volume 10,5.
>Iroha says she’s going to marry someone that’s going to make a lot of money. Iroha and Yui both aren’t good at studying, so it’s highly likely that they plan on becoming housewives. This makes Iroha shift the conversation towards Yukino. Iroha asks Yukino if she plans on working immediately after finishing college/university. Yukino says that was what she initially planned, but now she’s not so certain. Hachiman starts feeling uneasy about the reason why Yukino suddenly changed her mind like this. He chooses not to think about it too long.
“Well, isn’t having some kind of goal in itself a good thing? I’ve been trying hard everyday towards my goal since a while ago, after all.”(!)
“Hoh, a goal…” I gave Isshiki a scrutinizing glance to see what she truly meant when she had uttered something so unlike her. But there, she placed her index finger to her chin and tilted her head.
“Of course, I plan on retiring after several years by getting married, you know?”(!)
“Just where exactly are you putting in the effort…?” said Yukinoshita, sighing.
Isshiki puffed her cheeks. “I mean, I’m not very good at studying and there isn’t anything I want to do…”(!)
“I totally get you. I’m like that, too…” Yuigahama dropped her shoulders and slumped over. Isshiki confirmed with her from behind. And as if realizing something, she lifted her head and looked at Yukinoshita.
“Oh, but Yukinoshita-senpai, you seem like you’ll jump straight into working.”(!)
Yukinoshita blinked her eyes to her unexpected statement.
“I’m…” Yukinoshita stumbled, thinking the subject wouldn’t be directed to her. Her open lips were on the verge of saying something only to be promptly sealed shut.
When she averted her eyes down, her long eyelashes curved downwards. In doing that, her hair smoothly swayed, giving a glimpse of her slender neck as well as highlighting her white skin, causing me to instinctively catch my breath. Her hands that were atop her skirt in a well-mannered fashion moved ever so slightly and she delicately squeezed her fingers little by little.
“I wonder. That’s what I thought before…(!) But now, I’m not so sure yet,”(!) Yukinoshita lifted her face and said, wearing a smile as though she was embarrassed.
“Well, I guess sooo. It’s still something much later in the future, after all.” Isshiki said lightheartedly.
Isshiki stated lightheartedly, but no voice followed after hers. I think Yuigahama and I hadn’t been listening to her. Because Yukinoshita’s answer had been a little unexpected.(!) There weren’t very many students who could give a straightforward answer regarding their futures. However, I thought-just somewhat vaguely-that Yukinoshita had already properly thought out her future.(!) Perhaps I might’ve just been selfishly forcing my illusions on her, but even so, an unusual sense of discomfort was lodged in my heart.(!) I rested my cheeks in my hands on the table and made a sidelong glance at Yukinoshita. When she noticed, she tilted her head curiously at me, waiting for me to say something.
She looked at me inquisitively with an “um…” and I lightly shook my head, telling her that it’s nothing. She then retracted her chin and nodded back.
…Well, even Yukinoshita’s just a second year in high school. There’s nothing wrong with her not having figured out what she wanted to for the future yet.(!) In fact, if she’s choosing not to say anything because it’s still unclear to her, that can be her reason, too.(!)
When I reached that point in my mind, I gulped down the sense of discomfort and moved my gaze forward.
>I’ve already posted this text twice. It’s the one where Yui calls herself unfair. By now you should know what she means by this. I’m only adding it here so that you know where exactly in the series this conversation takes place. Feel free to skip it.
“…I don’t really like seeing you in pain, Hikki.”(!)
“Saying that is unfair.”
Despite my outburst, I could tell how soft my tone was. Perhaps it was my exhaustion. Being told something like that with such a gentle voice along with the shoulder massage only caused my shoulders to relax. Simultaneously, I tensed my shoulders again. For a wonderful girl to give me those kinds of words, this was nowhere near the time to give up and run away. It’s when you were given these kind and sweet words that you mustn’t rely on them and abandon yourself to. That’s why it only gave me less of a choice to resign here no matter how idiotic the circumstances are or how difficult the problem is.
“You think so…?” Yuigahama stopped her hands and rested them on my shoulders, eventually lifting them up slowly.
“Oh, uh, it was more like a figure of speech.”
I chose the wrong words when I called the person who was worried for me unfair. I rotated my chair and turned my body towards Yuigahama. I sat there while digging around for the proper words to tell her. Yuigahama, however, didn’t give me the time and nodded.
“…Yeah, I think I am unfair!”(!) Yuigahama said, her voice cheerful and as though she was convinced of something. I didn’t quite catch the meaning behind her response, but I wanted to get the right nuance across to her and opened my mouth.
“I didn’t mean it like that, but uh, in a good way…”
Yuigahama, however, shook her head and interjected. “I think… I really am unfair… It’s because I can never stop you or even help you.(!) And also… for a bunch of other things.”(!)
Yuigahama’s words were in a jumble, perhaps because she was trying to think while she talked. But it’s due to that that I felt her words were from the bottom of her heart. In the same way she’d laugh to hide her embarrassment or mumble her words and look away, I’m sure she wanted to play it off somehow. But even so, she looked straight at me, as though wanting to tell me everything.(!)
“That’s why… That’s why, when something like this happens again, I’ll make sure to do it.”(!)
(“When something like this happens again” = her actions in the last episode (S2E13).)
>After the Service Club got saddled up with Iroha’s request to make a newspaper so that Iroha can keep her budget for the next year, Yukino gives Hachiman a can of MAX Coffee to boost Hachiman’s morale, because he was at his wit’s end. Yukino tells Hachiman how in the end she is the one who was unable to do anything the most. Yukino is showing her doubts in herself. Ever since Hachiman “defeated” Yukino in Volume 8, Yukino has stopped believing in herself. Since she wasn’t able to save Hachiman (the one thing she set out to do since the beginning of the series), Yukino is starting to doubt herself.
When I asked her, Yukinoshita turned her face towards me. She then dropped her gaze to the paper at her hands, understanding what I meant. While rolling the red pen along her lips, she opened her mouth.
“…There are mistakes, but they’re at most misspellings and typos. There isn’t anything glaringly wrong, so don’t worry. Rather, it’s the other two who had far more typos,” Yukinoshita said with a teasing tone and chuckled. She looked much more her age like that, taking a much more cherubic appearance.
“Well, you were making a lot of red marks, so it got me a bit worried.”
“Oh. You only forgot to add some notes near the words, so I’m just adding those in. I make revisions as I go along.”
“Sorry for the trouble.”
I thought I was being casual in stating that, but Yukinoshita stopped her hands and gently set aside her red pen on the table. She then lowered her shoulders in discouragement.
“…I’m sorry, too. I should’ve checked on your progress when I had the chance. I should’ve known that even you can make mistakes.”
“Ah, no, it was just a miscalculation on my part. Actually, is that, like, some kind of super high-grade sarcasm…?” I asked.
Yukinoshita smiled and shook her head. “That’s certainly part of it, but… it essentially means that it was my miscalculation as well.”
So you really were being sarcastic…
Either way, there’s no doubt that the both of us had made the wrong call. Whether it was me, her, or ourselves, we still had yet to come to an understanding.(!) And that was presently like the state of the sky that expanded beyond the window, the sky that belonged to any one person. While you were unable to distinguish between noon and night, the moment you could tell was the moment the color of would change, moment by moment.
“In the end, I’m the one who’s unable to do anything the most,”(!) Yukinoshita muttered, looking at the indistinct sunset.
“You’ve done more than enough. It’s not like Yuigahama and I are any good at scheduling. Isshiki’s pretty good at bragging and making ends meet, but she’s not exactly the type that can plan things…”(!)
While answering, I looked at the same sunset. Regardless, it’s likely the color we were seeing were different. Red, pink, or scarlet. Perhaps, vermillion or even dark red. It may very well be orange. But no matter what the color, it wouldn’t have bothered me.
“So, uh… you’ve been a huge help.”
I took my eyes off the window and returned them back to the Student Council Room. The setting sun poured into the room, dying it red. When I turned to Yukinoshita beside me, her downcast expression was unperceivable. But her ears and her nape that peeked out from between the gaps of her hair was submerged in scarlet.
“…If that’s what you think, then I hope so.”(!) Yukinoshita sighed, and muttered with a low voice, as though having no confidence, or perhaps, as though she was sulking.
However, that was at most only an instant. She promptly lifted her face, brushed aside her hair at her shoulder, and with her voice no more chilly than the usual, she said, “I’ll make some adjustments to the work at the end and buy you some time.”(!)
“Ah, s-sure… Huh, you can do that?” I asked, but Yukinoshita didn’t answer.
Instead, she started dialing a number with her cellphone.
“…Yuigahama-san? Change of plans. In case the manuscript isn’t completed in time, fill the rest with as much text as you can and submit it. As for the last portion, enter in dummy text. We’ll proofread it and revise it then. That’s all. Can you let Isshiki-san know as well…? Yes, please do.”
After Yukinoshita cut the call, she directed her gaze at me as though to confirm I had heard all that.(!)
“…Is that okay?”
“It’s simply an emergency countermeasure in the event we don’t make it on time. We’ve already factored the extra expenses that will come with making corrections in the budget, so there shouldn’t be a problem. I’m afraid we may not be able to do a final check on everything, but… there’s little we can do given the situation,” Yukinoshita said, and smiled. In order to deal with any unforeseen accidents, she prepared a schedule with a buffer as a last resort.
Good grief. She’s the one always telling me how soft I was, but who exactly was the soft one here? Well, I couldn’t deny that I was a softie. But a softie could easily be an antagonistic demon. But that’s exactly why I wanted to turn down being pampered like this.
I swallowed the rest of my MAX COFFEE and forcefully put the can aside. The table clanked when the can came in contact with the steel desk.
“Time to finish up,” I said, and faced the computer once again.
“…I see. In that case, do your best.”
Which brings us to Volume 11.
One of Yahari’s main themes is: “And soon Spring will come.”
>Yukitoki is a song about Yukino waiting in this “sunlit room” for someone to “melt her”. Basically it’s about her waiting for someone to find her (the “real” Yukino), waiting for someone that deserves a special place in that empty space she has kept safe; her heart. Notice the strong Spring motif.
I’m in this sunlit room, waiting for all of it to melt.
Cold rain comes down from the clouds and only the distant breeze of Spring can clear it away.
The day I waited for without realizing has already melted away with the snow and soon Spring will come.
That small room I kept safe still has that empty space.
I never knew that I was fine with it being just the two of us.
>Hachiman’s character song Harumodoki (S2 OP) is about Hachiman’s search for something genuine.
Even if you carefully raise a beautiful flower,
It will simply be trampled,
By dirty feet lacking hesitation.
Under the building white,
A tiny bud is steadily covered up;
The far, far off spring,
Is beneath the snow.
Things we can’t see, without fail,
Always fade from our memories.
As we forget the place we endeavor to search for,
We step upon that bud, unnoticing.
I don’t want a replica like this -
I’m fine only having things that can be called “real”.
I’ll go searching for you:
“Thank you for finding this tiny bud for me.”
>One of the first moments of Volume 11 is Hachiman thinking about how Spring is almost here. The season of new beginnings. The season where plants, trees and flowers start to sprout/bloom. The season where budding romance starts to sprout/bloom as well. One of the things Hachiman thinks of is how in a little less than a month insects are going to start to awaken as well. What two characters in the series have been referred to as insects?
When it’s this cold, you ended up thinking, “How could you even call this spring(!), is ‘Spring Has Come’(!) playing in your head all the time or something?” But there’s also the saying: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” It was after school and the atmosphere of the class was showing steady signs of the upcoming spring.(!) A little less than a month to go and that would mark the awakening of insects(!) on the calendar.
>Tobe says that Hayato doesn’t accept chocolates on Valentine’s Day. However Hayato has received some from Yukino in the past. It could be that this was one of the things that started the rumors about Yukino and Hayato and because the tension in the classroom got awkward after this, Hayato decided never to accept chocolates from anyone anymore. Whether Yukino gave Hayato chocolates simply because he was her friend or if there was something more to it than that is up for debate. Yukino’s character songs imply that the feelings she’s feeling for Hachiman are feelings she is experiencing for the first time, so take that as you will.
“Nah, Hayato-kun usually doesn’t accept anything.”(!)
“Are you kidding!? What a waste!”
Oooka shouted causing Hayama to make a strained laugh. I see, he likely chose that route so he could avoid unnecessary trouble.(!) However, for girls that were in love with him, they might not be so eager to accept that. The head of that pack, Miura, was listening in on their conversation in silence while facing away from them with a disinterested expression.
Then of course, there’s also this:
>Taken from ANOTHER. In this timeline, Haruno brings up how Yukino made chocolates for Hayato, except this time Yukino answers Haruno as well. Yukino says that Haruno made Yukino give Hayato chocolates, implying that whatever happened between Yukino and Hayato in the past, it’s highly likely Haruno forced the two of them to try and be together.
“Come to think of it, Hayato seemed to have received some chocolate from Yukino-chan some time ago?”(!)
Although she was talking to Hayama, the truth was that the voice could be heard by everyone present. Yukinoshita who had been ignoring her all this time seemed to have reacted to it. She looked at Haruno-san with a confused expression and glared at her without saying anything. Those who couldn’t find their voice was not only Yukinoshita, but also Miura. Even Isshiki shrieked softly. I scratched my head briskly as I smiled bitterly. There was no need at all to say this in front of both Miura and Isshiki. Even Yukinoshita, who had been maintaining her silence up till now, responded. Yukinoshita sighed tiredly, and glared at Haruno-san. A faint smile formed at her lips.
“Indeed. During my elementary school days. You made me do it.”(!)
>Yumiko brings up how handmade sweets might be too pushy or clingy. In the LN Hachiman wonders who Yui made her cookies for while he is still in the classroom. Hachiman and Yui look at each other, Hachiman then leaves the classroom.
“…Well, handmade things might be too pushy? Makes sense why you wouldn’t accept them.”
After listlessly saying those words, a faint sigh came from a different direction.(!)
“Pushy… I guess so…”(!) Yuigahama rubbed the bun of her peach-colored hair with her thin fingers that stretched out of her slightly loose cardigan. She then made a troubled, but embarrassed smile. After seeing that smile, something suddenly came to mind from some time ago.(!)
Just who was she making those cookies for?(!) As I thought that, I looked towards her and our eyes met. Yuigahama and I averted our faces away in reaction.
>In the anime, Hachiman simply leaves and thinks about who Yui’s cookies were meant for while he’s walking down the hallway. As he thinks about it, he tries shaking it off.
>This whole snow theme is pretty important. Yukino Yukinoshita means “snow beneath the snow” however, Yukino’s last name is also the name of a Japanese flower, the saxifrage. Once the snow starts falling in Chiba, because of Haruno’s words, Hachiman will try burying his and Yukino’s feelings beneath the snow. That is, until the very last chapter of the volume/last episode of season 2, which has the following title:
Spring, Bound Beneath the Thick Snow, Begins to Sprout.
So, once the “flowers” (Yukino) start to bloom, the “good friend” (Yui) will go away.
Condensation was visible on the glass windows of the classroom, but not the hallway which had a clear look into the school courtyard. It was filled with shedding trees and bare beds of flowers, a dusty and dark brown spectacle of winter unlike one seen in the northern parts of Japan. Not very much snow fell in Chiba.(!) The scarce amount was prominent even in the Kanto region of Japan that was unfamiliar with snow. Last month, the news reported snow falling in Tokyo, but not a single drop was seen in Chiba.
Waiting ahead for us wasn’t a spring of warmth, but a spring of parting.(!) Like the storm which comes when flowers bloom(!), the good friend goes away.(!) Our classes would change and we would build new human relationships. Next year, this season was the time we’d be right in the middle of testing and no longer be required to go to school. That’s why, everyone enjoyed and valued this winter, peacefully waiting for it to come to an end.(!)
>Yui comes after Hachiman, she asks him why he didn’t wait for her. Hachiman tells her that he wanted to see how Hayato and Yumiko were doing, implying that once again Hachiman was looking at Hayato on how to deal with the feelings of girls that may like him. Yui says how she’s glad how everyone is cherishing the “now”. Hachiman agrees. This is a worrisome thing for Hachiman to be agreeing with, because it shows that Hachiman is afraid to think of the future. During this volume, Hachiman is going to start behaving like Hayato, that’s why he was looking at him.
In that, there’s an apparent warmth as well as a faint chill. I mumbled “cold, cold” into my muffler as I walked and the sound of light footsteps echoed from behind. I turned around and my shoulder received a light shock. I was met with a glum look from Yuigahama.
“Why’d you leave first…?”
“You didn’t say anything about leaving together…” I said unpleasantly, not having an idea of why she took that attitude.
Yuigahama’s mouth dropped open and she gently brushed her hair in embarrassment.
“…Oh, I totally thought you were waiting for me. You stayed in class for a while, so…”(!)
“That’s not really…”(!)
While speaking, I gave some thought to the reason why I stayed behind.(!) It’s true that Yuigahama invited me to head to club together several times.(!) Perhaps that’s why I found myself waiting with the assumption that she’d come over to talk to me. But another proper reason came to mind.(!)
“Yeah, I just wanted to see how Hayama and Miura were doing.”(!)
“Ahh, right. I think they’re good now, so I’m glad.”
Yuigahama let out a small breath and weakly nodded. She then proceeded a few steps ahead of me in the empty hallway and twisted her body.
“It’s kinda nice, you know? I’m sure everyone’s thinking about all kinds of stuff, but it’s like they’re trying to live their lives as much as they can now while cherishing it…”(!)
She stated each word in emphasis, wearing a gentle smile on her expression.
“Yeah, I guess. We’re probably having the best time of our lives right now.”(!)
“Ohh, you’re unusually positive…”
“When you recall the past, you want to die from regret and when you think about the future, you get depressed from anxiety.(!) So by elimination, our time now is pure bliss.”(!)
“You were being negative, after all!” Yuigahama dropped her shoulders with a sullen look.
>Yui has been reminding Hachiman of the “promised date” for quite some time now. Hachiman decides that it isn’t fair of him to keep waiting for Yui to ask him, so instead he brings it up. Since Haruno’s words, Hachiman is doing whatever it takes to not have to deal with Yukino’s feelings. He has essentially given up on Yukino’s feelings for him being the genuine thing he has been looking for. So instead he is now looking for an easy way out in Yui. Yui, who witnessed the infirmary scene, knows that Hachiman and Yukino have feelings for each other and that Yui is constantly making moves on Hachiman behind Yukino’s back. Yui decides to give her answer later, because she concludes that it’s not entirely fair what she’s doing.
She then briskly walked ahead and voiced her complaints.
“There you go again with that stuff… Can’t you read the mood?”(!)
Like what kind of mood? For example, the mood on Valentine’s Day? I suppose I could understand in that case. Occasionally, I’d learn from the masses(!), take in the mood, and play it off. Then, I’d just brush it all off with a simple “it’s what everyone’s doing.” Doing that made you want to have expectations, be spoiled, lose yourself, and wait. But I don’t think that’s something you should do.(!) It’d be insincere if all you did was wait. Regardless of the answer and conclusion awaiting you at the end of the tunnel, you should make sure to take that step forward without deception and incredulity and leave the regrets for afterwards.(!) That’s why, I took in the mood and decided to ask now.(!)
“By the way…”
I squeezed out those words with a hoarse voice and Yuigahama turned around. Her inclined head and her eyes urged me to go on. Seeing her straight-on was somewhat dazzling that I slightly averted my face.
“…Do you have a day you’re free on soon?”(!)
“Huh? U-Um, yeah, I do… I think, “ Yuigahama said, prattling on and moving her hands in surprise.
She fidgeted as she frantically took out her cellphone. But then, her movements abruptly stopped.(!) She shot a glance to the door of the club.(!) After that, she had trouble bringing out her voice. And unlike earlier, her expression sank. I was slightly surprised to see that and hesitated to ask why she was making that face, finding myself choking as well.(!) The air in the hallway was awfully cold and dry that I had an uneasy sensation as if something was stuck in my throat.(!) Asking her that now in this place might’ve not been the best choice. Or perhaps, there might’ve been a better or smoother way to do so. Would it be weird to ask again? I just wasn’t confident in any of those. Unable to exchange any more words, I glanced at her face, my back still slumped and my eyes downcast. The problematic smile that she wore caused me to lose my breath.
To fill up the silence, Yuigahama quickly said, “Let me think about it and I’ll tell you later!”(!)
Was I relieved or just exhausted?(!) Perhaps, something much more different?(!) Whatever it was, since I had let out a deep sigh at the same time, Yuigahama didn’t wait for my response, walked a few steps ahead, and opened the door to the clubroom.
>Yui brings up that Hayato is not going to accept any chocolates. Yukino explains why that’s the case.
“Oh, but it sounds like Hayato-kun’s not accepting any chocolate, though.”
“Ehhh, why’s that?”
“…Wh-Who knows?” Yuigahama inclined her head in confusion.
Then, Yukinoshita let out a brief sigh.
“It’s obviously because of the disputes that will ensue.(!) During elementary, the classroom the following day would see sparks flying all over the place…”(!)
>Iroha brings up how sweet Hachiman wants his sweets to be. Hachiman says that he wants the rest of his life to be “sweet”, which is once again a sign that Hachiman is looking for an easy way out. He doesn’t want to face the bitterness of life. The point being: throughout this entire volume, Hachiman is acting like Hayato, he is slowly giving up on wanting something genuine.
“It’s what happens when you don’t get very many opportunities to drink sweet stuff.(!) I’m always having to drink bitter stuff, after all.”(!) I snorted bitterly.
Then, Yukinoshita brushed aside her hair along her shoulders and wore a tenacious smile.
“Bitter things aren’t something you drink, but something you experience.”(!)
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. But the pain I have to deal with doesn’t change. In that case, I just want to live the rest of my life drinking sweet juices.”(!)
“It sounds like what you’re tasting aren’t bitter things, but life itself…”(!) Yukinoshita let out a profound sigh.
No, no, it’s exactly as you said. I’m totally tasting everything bitter, even life.(!) So based on the aforementioned, life was equal to everything bitter, so life was pain! I thought with these pointless ideas running through my mind.
>Iroha asks if Hachiman has ever received any chocolates before, Yui says that this year he will most certainly receive some. Hachiman nods at her, as in he knows that Yui will give him some, however he quickly pretends like he meant from Komachi.
When I was on the verge of falling into a thinking pit of what true peace really was, Yuigahama who was sitting on the side puffed her cheeks.
“I don’t think you need to be worry… Besides, Hikki will get chocolate… right?”(!) She said and sent me a reserved glance.(!)
I nodded back with a small smile.(!)
“Wha…? You mean…”
Isshiki alternated glances between Yuigahama and me.(!) When her eyes that trembled as though from bewilderment crashed with mine, I instinctively let out a proud laugh.
“Hmph, you got that right… I have Komachi, after all!”(!)
And that’s exactly why I’ll get chocolate! Woohoo! I’m so glad to have a little sister! As long you have a little sister, you’re good!
>Yumiko and Saki come into the Service Club asking for advice on how to make chocolates/sweets.
>Hachiman thinks about the meaning of this specific Valentine’s Day.
Next year, around this time of the season, we weren’t obligated to attend school. It also happened to be right in the middle of the testing season, with exams for private universities being held during this time as well. Therefore, this was going to be the last Valentine’s Day of our high school life.(!) The event would probably have a completely different meaning to us later in our lives.(!)
>Yumiko and Saki have their quarrel.
>Yui and Yukino try complimenting Saki. Hachiman notices how Yukino has softened up a lot recently.
After watching their quarrel, Yukinoshita sighed and shook her head.
Your “how deplorable” face doesn’t mean much considering you’re just like them most of the time… Oh, but, recently, the Yukinon with the jagged heart cutting knife that hurts everyone hasn’t been in action that much.(!)
Anyway, let’s stop thinking about cats and focus on Kawasaki. Then again, that weird follow-up by Yukinoshita embarrassed her even more that she was shaking like a baby kitten that was just given away. I’m so sorry that she doesn’t know how to make feel people better…
>Hachiman reflects on how the atmosphere in the Service Club has changed since the beginning. Is it because of the changing of the seasons or is there another reason behind it? Hachiman starts feeling uneasy so he starts looking out the window.
This empty room that resembled a storage room could actually turn into such a bustling place. The chairs that were here originally, were put haphazardly, and were facing random directions. But, since some time ago, they had begun to form a sort of distorted circle around a long table that had a tea-set on top. The clubroom had changed a lot since the past.(!) The warm air, tea-set and blankets, the paperbacks that had accumulated. The number of chairs as well as the placement of various objects. The intensity of the sun shining in and the coats hanging on the wall. The room that had been the color of frost, had turned into a hue of warmth following the end of spring. It wasn’t clear at all whether this was due to the changing of the seasons, or maybe there were some other reasons behind it.(!) The air around us was inducing us into a slumber, making us feel quite uneasy(!), and so I looked outside the window reflexively.(!)
>Yukino says how the increase in requests is quite worrisome.
>Yui says she understands how Hayato is feeling, how he is always trying to look out for other people’s feelings. Hachiman and Iroha both think Yui is the same as Hayato in that regard. Iroha compliments Yui on her kindness, which makes Yui respond awkwardly. Yui questions herself if she really is as kind as Iroha and Hachiman try and make her out to be. Hachiman thinks Yui is just being shy because she was complimented and tries not to think too much of it.
“But then, I think I kind of understand how Hayato-kun is feeling......”(!)
Hayama’s feelings, no, I don’t really understand him...... I looked at Yuigahama questioningly, asking her for the intention of that line. Yuigahama thought for a while, and then spoke once more.
“Ah, you see......, how should I put it.....as expected I still can’t really say it openly, or maybe I just read too much into things......”
This sort of worry was really like her.(!) Hearing her, Isshiki nodded her head “Ah, that is so like Yui-Senpai. So kind.”(!)
“Is that, so......, ahaha...... Just like me, huh......”(!)
Yuigahama laughed awkwardly at Isshiki’s words, and had a slightly dejected look on her face. She was probably shy from being praised. It’s probably just that.(!) Or rather, she was the same as Hayama Hayato. Because they were both kind, they were probably suffering from being too concerned about others.(!) Thinking about it, Yuigahama was on very good things with Hayama, Miura as well as Isshiki. Her trouble with getting caught between the three of them had already surfaced during the ride to Destiny Land(!), and it was all the more obvious now.(!)
>Hachiman starts thinking about how the three of them (Hachiman, Yukino and Yui) also want a conclusion to their story. Hachiman wonders what would happen if he came to the same conclusion Hayato did. Would that mean that everything he has done up until this point was meaningless?
I had a hard time understanding why someone would keep worrying about the relationships between others.(!) However, I had the same feeling as her.(!) That feeling of wanting to obtain a conclusion.(!) Probably, Yukinoshita felt the same way as well.(!) I could tell from Yukinoshita’s expression that she was quite concerned over Yuigahama’s dark mood. For example, if I could obtain the same conclusion as Hayama(!), then perhaps everything I have done up till now was a waste of effort.(!) Hayama Hayato, who has chosen to live up to everybody’s expectation, has decided to fulfill it flawlessly. To undertake the greatest compromise without compromise.(!) Dedicating himself to using such a measure to prolong such a life. There was nothing as sincere as this insincerity.(!)
>Hachiman suggests creating a situation where Hayato is forced to accept the chocolates without having to acknowledge that it’s for Valentine’s Day. However, he’s not so much doing this for Hayato, as he’s doing it for himself. Hachiman knows there are girls that want to give him chocolates, so he’s suggesting this as a way for the girls to give him chocolates without him having to address their actual feelings.
For such a kind person, there wasn’t much that an unkind person could do. The most they could do was to engage in monologue, or to repeat the same thing over and over again.
“…… Well, isn’t it enough to just use an excuse?(!) Some sort of official reason to convince Hayama.”(!)
“Just as long as you get him into a position whereby he’s forced to accept it(!), or rather, whereby he can accept it naturally.”(!)
Hearing my follow-up, the corners of Isshiki’s mouth curled upwards, a queer expression that didn’t really seem to suggest that she understood it completely. Then, Yukinoshita placed the tea cup and cup holder to one side and with her eyes, told me to be quiet.
“That is to say, it’s fine as long as there is an excuse?(!) …… If you were to give him in a closed environment, Hayama-kun wouldn’t be troubled by it.”(!)
“For example…… Don’t mention Valentine’s Day, just get him to taste it.(!) Something like that, I don’t have an exact idea.”
“So it’s like that…… would it okay for everyone to make (the chocolates) together?”
Yuigahama inhaled a deep breath as she spoke, her expression suggesting that she was quite relieved.(!) Un, I think that it would be best if you understood it without much trouble.
>The trio comes to an agreement that they are going to help out. Yukino asks Hachiman for confirmation. Now all they need to do is come up with an idea for how they want to host the event.
Yukinoshita cleared her throat, and shot a glance at me.
“If it’s help, I don’t think there’s much of a problem in providing it…… What do you think?”
“I can’t really care, even if you ask me what I think…… The one’s who’s doing the teaching is you, so if you don’t think you will be tired out from it, then it’s alright.”
Also, Yuigahama seemed to be really into it. Hence, it doesn’t really matter even if I rejected it.
“Is that so? Then we have to think about the way in which this event could be held……”
The next chapter is called: Chapter 3: Surprisingly, the thing that Iroha’s absence brought about was.
Why is this title important? Well, there’s a certain purpose Iroha serves when she’s in the Service Club, especially after the events of Volume 10 (Haruno’s words): she’s a distraction. Without Iroha present, the trio is now forced to think about all sorts of things they’d rather not think about, as in: their feelings for each other and what could happen if anyone were to act on their feelings.
>There’s an unsettling atmosphere in the club room, Hachiman wants Iroha to come in and ask for their help. Hachiman, the character that claims he hates to work, is very open to working now all of a sudden. It’s almost as if he’s looking for something to keep his mind off of things.
Although it was said that we needn’t bother ourselves with the small things, but this was quite unsettling. In truth, in the few days after that heated consultation as well as Isshiki’s proposal, there was an unsettling air within the club room.(!) After school, coming to the club room, reading books, drinking red tea and the occasional tea-snack, and then suddenly glancing at the door.(!) These few days passed just like that.(!) Today was no different. This uneasy feeling(!) was like how one felt when they were going out to run an errand for the first time. Even up till now, there were tons of jobs being thoughtlessly pushed upon me.(!) I felt anxious for Isshiki as to whether she could do her job properly without anyone’s help.
If it wasn’t that, I would begin to suspect myself on whether I was actually a workaholic and get myself into an identity crisis. Since always, whenever we accepted a request or a consultation, I would immediately plunge myself into the job, but this time was slightly different.(!) If I had to put it in words, it was akin to accepting a job that had vague descriptions, but one where you knew the deadline or the due date for it clearly. A feeling whereby living was akin to dying.(!) Moreover, the person who was entrusted that task was Isshiki Iroha, who would be spurred on by that sense of unease. What am I going to do from now now!? I had this sort of feeling that was typical of a protagonist from a Magical Girl series as I thought about it and sighed deeply. Then, I could hear a sigh as well coming from across me.(!) Looking up, I saw Yukinoshita had looked up from her book, and was now looking at the door.(!) It seems like, she has the same feelings of fear as me. Ah, don’t tell me she has fallen in love with Isshiki? Iroyuki, that would work! Thinking of this, I suddenly heard the sound of laughter coming from Yuigahama.
“Since just now, you two have been staring at the door for quite a while.”
She said it with a wry smile.
>Yukino and Yui tell Hachiman that he pampers Iroha too much, as in: he helps her out too much. Hachiman starts thinking about his bad habit: not being able to trust someone else to solve their own problems, always having to play the hero and save the day. This is important, because it shows the difference between the relationship Hachiman has with Iroha and the relationship he wants to have with Yukino. Hachiman’s thoughts drift back to what Haruno told him, but he quickly starts talking about something else to keep his mind off of it. Hachiman is once again concerned about his future.
As I spoke, even I felt that the words that came out of my mouth at the spur of the moment had hit on the heart of the matter. No, because those words were spoken on the spur of the moment, they were definitely the truth. That was my bad habit.(!) Unable to entrust anyone with anything(!), that was tantamount to not having any sort of trust in them.(!) Towards this sort of person, how was it possible to understand and rely on them.(!) Needless to say, it was all the more impossible to see the truth behind such a scary existence that thrived on reliance.(!) Seriously, who would be worried about that sort of person. There was a limit to how absurd something could be. I thought back to those words exchanged in that cafe where the cold wind blew about us. Was there really anyone who could answer that question? Thinking about it, my mouth stopped talking, and an inevitable silence resulted from that.(!) Noticing that, I quickly added on something to make up for that lapse.(!)
“Hence, instead of saying that I am worried about Isshiki, it would be more appropriate to say that I am worried about my future.(!) I feel all uneasy(!) when I think about how I am going to be stuck doing work.”
“What you just said made me worry even more for your future......”
Yukinoshita pressed her temples and let out a deep sigh.
>Considering how the story is nearing its conclusion, the main trio reminisces about the amount of shared memories the trio has shared and how nostalgic all of this feels. Because it’s highly likely that in Volumes 13-14 some things are going to come to an end. Another incredibly important thing to take note of here is that throughout this volume Hachiman constantly tries convincing himself of how “happy” he is with the way things are going. (Hachiman is trying to preserve the status quo and he is acting like Hayato.)
Then, Yuigahama laughed happily. Yukinoshita, who seemed to think that Yuigahama was laughing at her, looked at her with displeasure.
“……What’s the problem?”
“Ah, nothing at all…… I just thought that, this is so nostalgic.”
Yuigahama had at first tried to wave her hands hurriedly to try and smooth things over, but as she lowered her hands gently, she said those words in a mellow tone. Her eyes seemed to sparkle as she looked at Yukinoshita. As to what she felt nostalgic about, I knew the answer. Maybe Yukinoshita too.
Yukinoshita answered simply. However, her gaze in response, continued to capture Yuigahama in her pupils long after she was done talking. After a while, Yuigahama chuckled sheepishly, and deliberately shifted her chair to get closer to Yukinoshita. In the end, the two ended up sitting next to each other, directly opposite me.
Then, as though she was confirming something, she spoke that in a soft voice. Looking at her tilt her head, looking my way with a faraway look in her eyes; I couldn’t help but break into a smile at that cherubic expression of hers.
“I guess so.”
I replied just as simply, and shifted my gaze away. One year has clearly not past, yet, why did that feel like it had happened such a long time ago, that it could evoke such nostalgic feelings. In that room where everything has yet to begin, in that instant in time where everything started to move.
“Iroha-chan, thank you.”
“Eh, ah, yes, erm no, …… you’re, you’re welcome?”
Having been suddenly thanked by Yuigahama, Isshiki seemed to be at a loss, and tilted her head to one side. Was it because this action was so comical that Yuigahama started to giggle? Then, after stopping her giggling fit, she sighed contentedly.
“Although this year is about to come to a close, I am glad that there’s such a fun event near the end.”
“Although this year hasn’t started for long.”
“To be more precise, this school year.”
Yukinoshita and I spoke unanimously, to which Yuigahama puffed out her cheeks. Even Iroha too was taken aback by us and muttered “Uwa, the two of them are so nitpicky.”
But thinking that this exchange of words between us signaled the end of the conversation, she gazed at us and sighed a long breath, said, “Let’s call it a day,” and stood up.
“Thank you for the tea. Then, sorry for the trouble.”
“A, un. Thank you in advance for the help you will render on the actual day itself.”
“Then, see you again. I will do my best to come up with an estimation.”
Hearing both Yuigahama and Yukinoshita’s parting words, Isshiki bowed and left the room. Just like that, the three of us was left behind. The feeling of nostalgic that stuck us now was even more real than what we had felt previously.(!) However, this nostalgia that we felt, it was probably because a lot of things have changed since then.(!) It was also probably because somewhere, sometime, we have lost our identity.(!) Perhaps, it was because we knew that it was no longer possible to obtain the same thing once more. That’s why, it was nostalgic. If it did indeed begin to change, then, surely, there will be a day where everything come to an end.(!) Yuigahama, who was smiling so purely, as well as Yukinoshita who was looking at her. The two of them were engaging in empty conversations. Although it was just this sight, yet strangely enough, I felt so contented.(!)
>While in context this is not directly about Yukino, you could say that this is about Yukino. The entire point is, that if Yukino is able to stand on her own two feet (solve her own problems), she will be able to “walk together with another person”. (Hachiman thought the same thing about Rumi in Volume 9.)
Using your own strength and your own will was one of the steps of growing up. Learning to crawl by yourself, walking by yourself, then understanding for the first time what it means to walk together with another person.
>The cooking event begins.
>Hayato approaches Hachiman. Hayato asks Hachiman if he’s here to test the food as well, as in: if Hachiman is doing the exact same thing Hayato is doing. Hayato has realized that Hachiman has started emulating him. (I’ll come back to this in Part 5.)
That guy is sure in some serious trouble ahaha. I thought about these random thoughts(!) as I observed them and drank big gulps from the can of MAX coffee. My eyes met with Hayama’s all of a sudden.
With a short greeting to me, Hayama used his eyes to urge Miura and Isshiki to go on ahead without him. Both of them tilted their heads in puzzlement as they proceeded to the hall. After sending them off with a gentle smile, Hayama glanced at me.
“Hikigaya, are you going to be tasting the food as well?”(!)
“......So it’s like that”(!)
Hearing my answer, Hayama narrowed his eyes.(!) He seemed to be having trouble enduring something before a small laugh escaped him.
His eyes looked at me as though he had seen through everything(!), and his smile had a trace of pity in it.(!) That look and the way he spoke made me feel the way I felt when I saw him face to face(!), irritated and annoyed. Because of that, the voice in which I would reply him was rather sharp. Thereupon, Hayama shrugged his shoulders and shook his head slightly. His expression was meek. That curious, mature air that he was giving off just now had disappeared.
“Ah, nothing. I think that you are really suited for this job.”
“You like sweet things, right?”(!)
Hayama spoke in a teasing manner and pointed with his finger to the can of MAX coffee in my hand.(!) No, well, I do indeed drink MAX coffee quite frequently......
“That’s why.” Hayama added on softly, before sauntering off towards Miura and Isshiki who were waiting for him at the hall.
......Rather, I wasn’t really feeling that great.(!) If I didn’t come up with these sort of pointless jokes to distract myself(!), I would find myself thinking about all sorts of other things.(!) This was probably the same for Hayama as well.(!) Hence, he had probably chosen those topics to talk about on purpose(!), and then evaded them just as skillfully as well.(!) Drinking the rest of the MAX coffee in a single gulp, I gripped the can tightly, even though I know that I would be unable to crush it flat.
>Hachiman can’t just stand here and watch, he has to do something. He needs something to distract himself with.
Well, at least the work with the posters were completed. Even though I have yet to see the work that needed to be done inside the community center(!), I couldn’t just stand here and watch, I have to at least do something. And so, my next job is about to begin......
Although I had resigned myself to the fact that I had to do something, but I would never have thought that the job awaiting me would be physical labor.
>Haruno enters the scene.
>Hachiman asks Iroha why she invited Haruno. Iroha says that Yukino lacks the “service” (social charm) Haruno has (but I didn’t include it here).
Taking this chance, I signaled to Isshiki quietly and spoke softly.
“Hey, why did you call her here?”
“Because, she seems to be a veteran in this?”
Isshiki cocked her head at my question and answered as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. Ah ah, your judgement is wonderfully correct. Rather than say she was a veteran, it would be better to just say that she was ever victorious.
“I am more than enough for the job……”
Yukinoshita hugged her elbow, and shifted her gaze away from Haruno-san, who was opposite her.
“Well, let’s not talk about your teaching methods, but the snacks that you make are indeed very tasty.”
“…… It’s not like it’s anything special.”
Yukinoshita seemed surprised at being praised and seemed momentarily at a loss for words but quickly turned her face away. No, she was not praising you. She did say that your teaching methods being horrible.
>Which raises the question, why is Haruno here?
Yukinoshita Haruno, a person whereby there was a meaning behind all her meaningless actions.(!) She was here today because there was something she wanted to do.(!) She wouldn’t show up anywhere just because her kouhai asked her to.(!) This time was no different. That person, will be as her name suggests, she will expose everything under the broad daylight.(!) Whilst all the time, hiding everything about herself from everyone.
>The girls start making chocolate under Yukino’s supervision/tutelage. (Yukino and Yumiko have learned how to get along with one another.)
>Iroha gives Hachiman a taste of her chocolate.
If you remember from earlier in this volume, this whole “sweet” vs. “bitter” thing also serves to show that Hachiman from this moment onward only wants sweet things/things that come easy. He has turned his back on bitter things/things he has to fight for/things that are genuine. Yukino and Yui both want Hachiman to taste their chocolate. Hachiman feeling cornered, is glad that Sensei enters the room and creates a distraction.
Following Isshiki’s voice, the spoon flew by the side of my jaw and was thrust straight into my mouth. Being surprised by this sudden turn of event, I was blinked my eyes several times, clearly flustered, and in my flickering vision, I could see Isshiki’s alluring smile.
“Senpai, this sort of sweet thing, do you hate it?”
As she shook her spoon, she tilted her head, and looked at me with upturned eyes. Her smile was one that was like a child’s smile upon a successful prank, but her puffing out her chest was provocative, which formed an imbalance. That’s why this was seriously alluring.
“…... I don’t really hate it.”(!)
The amount of sugar in this was definitely not little, and my tongue was about to numb from all that sweetness.(!) Come to think of it, wasn’t this spoon the one that you just used for…… Doing this sort of thing was really bad for the heart so could you please stop doing this the next time……. Although it could be said that sweet things were good for fatigue(!), but the adverse effect was larger this time. Suddenly, a wave of fatigue wash over me and I couldn’t help but sigh, to which Isshiki did the same as well. I watched her leave, and with my finger, wiped the chocolate off my face and put it into my mouth. The smell of chocolate and rum entered my nose.
“It’s too sweet……”(!)
Just as I was murmuring my thoughts, I suddenly heard the sound of metal objects scraping against one another. That sort of noise sent chills down my spine, and I turned my head to look at the source of the unpleasant sound, and saw Yukinoshita hugging a bowl, and stirring the contents in it with a spoon.
“……Come to think of it, Hikigaya-kun is in charge of tasting. Because you have been useless up till now, I have completely forgotten about you. By all means, won’t you come over here as well and give your opinions (on the taste) as well?”
Saying that, Yukinoshita extended the spoon handle towards me. The spoon itself was filled with pure black chocolate.
“Your cocoa content is over 90%, it will definitely be very bitter……”(!)
I didn’t have to eat it to know. That there wasn’t sufficient sugar or fresh cream in it, and at best, there was only a little bit of unsalted butter in it. From the appearance and the smell of the black luster of the chocolate, it gave off a ‘super cocoa’ feeling. However, Yukinoshita continued to look at me coldly, and didn’t seem like she was going to back off. She even proceeded to take another step towards me, and thrust the spoon silently in my direction.(!) I wasn’t going to accept this sort of spoon(!) and so the two of us continued to stare at each other, until Yuigahama came between us.(!)
“Ah, how’s mine! What about mine!”
As she said that, she brought her bowl over to me as well. The fluid in the bowl was a light brown color. It would be ridiculous to call that thing in the bowl chocolate. In fact, it wasn’t even really appropriate to call it chocolate sauce, perhaps it would be more believable to call it chocolate milk. Without hesitation, I thrust my nose forward and took a sniff. There was a sweet smell to it.(!)
“I think that Hikki will most likely like this……”
As I watched Yuigahama pass me the bowl with an “Ehehe------- How’s this” sort of expression, I felt a strange sense of deja vu.(!) That was a choking and sweet fragrance that reminded me of coffee. There was a whiteness amidst the brown color, the foam that made me feel as though it had a high sugar content…… It kind of looks like MAX coffee…… However, the person who made this was Yuigahama, its actual taste was definitely different from its appearance…… This girl, the taste will shock you just like a jack-in-the-box. I mean, weren’t we supposed to be making chocolate here? The bitterness that was evident in the dark matter without even having to eat it. As well as the dark matter whereby I had no way of guessing how it would taste like. This sweetness and bitterness caused me to feel faint.(!) Facing the both of them, my voice clammed up in my throat.
“Wai, wait just a moment?”
As I was still deliberating, the door of the cooking room was thrown wide open.
Thanks to Hiratsuka-sensei, or perhaps I should say thanks to the existence of this intruder, the mood of the current situation seems to have changed slightly. Accompanying the spread of the sweet fragrance, the cooking room began to be filled with a calm and quiet air.
>Another distraction shows up.
Then, another person who fitted the image of this calm and quiet atmosphere appeared. This kid’s bluish-black hair was split into two, and extended down to her shoulders. She wore an appropriate sized apron as well. She was someone who I definitely believed will grow into a beauty in the feature. Her set of facial features was something that I remembered clearly. Kawasaki Keika. The sister of Kawasomething-san.
>Not really important to the story, but in the anime they cut out Yukino and Yui, so that only Hachiman interacts with the Kawasaki sisters. This interaction does show that Yukino wants to reach out to Keika and openly show affection, but she’s always second guessing her actions.
Yukinoshita however, walked to Keika’s side but her hand seemed to be hesitant in reaching out to her. She extended her hand a little then retracted it. Seems like she was worried about whether it would be all for her to pat Keika’s head. So clumsy. As I thought that, it seems like there was someone even clumsier.
‘That……. Today, I look forward to working with your……”
Kawasaki seemed to be vexed at what sort of greetings she should give, and in the end, managed to utter those words shyly. Maybe she felt that was unbecoming of her sister, and so, Keika who was looking up at her sister, straightened her seating posture and bowed deeply.
“Please take care of me.”
She probably learnt that in nursery. Although she said those words slowly, but compared to her sister’s curt way of saying it, it still felt more amicable, and let those who see it be more at ease. Not only me, but Yuigahama too was struck by her cuteness and writhing about going “Kya~”. Kawasaki’s eyes were moist, as though touched by her sister ‘s growth. Thereupon, Yukinoshita too smiled with affection. She grasped her skirt and slowly squatted down, and looked at Keika directly and spoke slowly.
“I look forward to working with you as well. Well then, what sort of candy do you want to make?” Having been asked such a question, Keika raised her head and looked at Kawasaki’s face, and Kawasaki nodded in reply.
“Ke-chan, what kind of sweets do you want to eat?”
Hearing this question, Keika seemed stunned for a short while, then spoke suddenly.
>Hachiman’s job as a taste tester has yet to start, he may as well take a walk around.
However, it probably wouldn’t be a massive flop if Kawasaki and Yukinoshita were around. It seems that I, as a taste tester, have yet a need to make an appearance.(!) Well then, before my job starts, I guess I should go take a walk around.(!)
>Yet another distraction shows up.
Seeing that, I was really the only one not doing anything. Anyway, I guess I should just stand at one corner and observe so as not to get in the way of others(!), when out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed the door of the cooking room being opened gently. The person who opened it was perhaps observing the situation inside, as the door only opened a few centimeters before stopping. What……don’t tell me that some other group who were using the communication center had come to complain that we were being too noisy…… Seems like I was the only one who noticed the situation with the door(!), and so I had no choice but to go take a look.(!) I walked to the door, but was a little hesitant. It was going to be scary if it was some old auntie or someone like that…… If they are coming to come up and complain I am going to just apologize. Anyway, being scolded by people in society was a common fact of life. That is to say, being scolded could be said to be a job. Well, although there wasn’t any salary in such a job. The Service Club has no wages for the entire year! ……Unpaid. As I steeled my resolve, I opened the door forcefully. The person outside was someone I knew. That person was probably on the way home after club activities, wearing a baggy windbreaker that was too big for him. Owing to the overly long sleeves, the hands that were unable to fully extend outside were now crossed in front of his chest in uncertainty. Was it because of the special aura that came about with this person? Because whenever he made this sort of pose with his back hunched over, even the stiff material of his nylon shirt and coat become soft. Then, his eyes met mine and his face beamed.
“To, Totsuka…… I see that you came.”
“Un, although I am a little late cause I was held back by club activities.”
>Haruno approaches Sensei and Hachiman (and others). Haruno tells Sensei how there are a lot of things she wants to discuss with her (in regards to Yukino). Sensei says that if Haruno really means that, then she can contact her anytime. Haruno wants to invite Hachiman as well, but he passes. This interaction between Haruno and Sensei gives Hachiman a glimpse into Haruno as a person or at least when she’s talking to people older than her. Then again, Haruno doesn’t interact seriously with Sensei, or at least not in the same way she interacts with VIPs and politicians, so it’s difficult to judge if this is how she conducts herself with other people that are older than her.
Seeing Sensei drooping her shoulders, Totsuka became flustered and tried to smooth it over. Seeing all these, Haruno-san on the other hand, laughed happily.
“For Shizuka-chan, she probably eats it along with alcohol. Sounds great~ I too, want to eat these tasty chocolates as I drink alcohol.”
“Indeed, I do eat chocolates with alcohol……. However, I can’t do that today.” Hiratsuka scowled at her, to which Haruno-san seemed dissatisfied, and pouted.
Watching their interactions, I felt surprised. In truth, Yukinoshita Haruno was the sort of person who did things with a purpose, as well as one who commonly made a mockery out of others. But now, her response towards Hiratsuka-sensei seemed completely natural, at least, that’s what I thought. Of course, this could be a special ability of her strong exterior appearance. Yet, it could be said that I knew next to nothing about Yukinoshita Haruno. Yukinoshita’s elder sister, Hayama’s childhood friend, Meguri-senpai’s senpai, a former student of Hiratsuka-sensei, a superdemon with a perfect exterior appearance. Even if I knew all these superficial facts about her, I still couldn’t peer through the murky, bottomless marsh to get a peek at her true nature.(!) Thinking about it carefully, this was the first time I had seen Haruno-san spending a long time conversing with someone older than her.(!) I was somewhat taken aback, and kept looking in the direction of Haruno-san, all the while thinking that the water surface of that bottomless lake was being distorted gently.(!) She deliberately drooped her shoulders, and Haruno-san proceeded to lie flat on the kitchen table, and looked at Hiratsuka-sensei sweetly.
“That’s a pity then. Next time, bring me out with you~ there’s so many things that I want to talk to you about.”(!)
That was just a casual lip service. However, Hiratsuka looked at her seriously in return.(!)
She ceased her unwrapping of the chocolates, and clasped her hands together. Slowly, she looked at Haruno-san’s eyes as she crafted some words and spoke gently.
“Haruno, if you…… really do have something you wish to tell me, I can entertain you anytime.”(!)
The instant she had said her piece, Haruno-san’s shoulders shook ever so slightly. She was still lying flat on the kitchen table, and the eyes that were looking at Hiratsuka-sensei was like glass-works, devoid of any color. However, in that instant, I thought I saw a pale flame flash across her eyes. Although that instant lasted less than a second, but the time that the two spent looking at each other felt very long, to the extent that I had even forgotten to breathe. The silence was broken by the sound of Haruno-san’s laughter escaping from the side of her mouth.
“Really? Then you’d best schedule your time------ Ah, Hikigaya-kun is here too?(!) Come and drink with the big sisters~”(!)
Jesting, she intentionally shifted her body towards me, and looked up at me. Immediately, I moved myself away to increase the distance between us.
“I am still not of age yet. I can’t drink alcohol, how about orange juice instead.”
Zaimokuza laughed derisively. Hiratsuka lost the serious edge from just now, and her shoulders
shook from the laughter. Seeing that my joke was effective against the two of them, in other words, it was useless against the others.(!)
Totsuka had a “And so?” expression as he tilted his head, whereas Meguri-senpai continued to smile with an expression that she didn’t quite understand what was going on. Haruno-san frowned and shook her head.(!)
“It’s too bad if you can’t drink. Well whatever, can’t be helped since you aren’t of age, how about Meguri?”
“Haru-san, I am still not of age yet~ But it’s ok if we go for tea……”
“I see. Ehh, what should I do then? Find my classmates?”
Hiratsuka-sensei watched Haruno-san picked up her mobile phone and seemed to be dialing some numbers on it, and she sighed deeply.
“Well, if you want to, just call me.”
With that, it signaled the end of the subject, and Hiratsuka-sensei pushed a bag of a seemingly famous brand of chocolates in my direction.
>Sensei gives Hachiman chocolates, so he can hand them out to others. He has another conversation with Hayato. Hayato gives Hachiman BLACK Coffee for some reason, while asking Hachiman if he wanted something sweeter. I wonder what Hayato means by that? (See Part 5) Hayato tells Hachiman that after thinking about it a little bit, this was probably the best way to handle things. With the way Hachiman chose to address Valentine’s Day, everyone can act naturally and no one has to address any feelings etc.
My mission was now completed without a hitch. Just as I was thinking to go back since I had done what I was supposed to do, I heard the light sound of metal behind me. I looked in the direction of the noise, and saw that the noise was caused by Hayama flicking his finger against a coffee can. He was waving two coffee cans about, and with his smile, asked me wordlessly if I would care to have a can. Well, I guess that even Hayama would be more or less tired after having to put up with both Miura and Isshiki for so long. Perhaps he wanted to use me as an excuse to take a break from them. In any case, I wasn’t doing anything anyway. With a ‘Oh’, I nodded my head slightly and Hayama took a seat at a kitchen table nearby Miura. I followed his suggestion and moved a seat there as well. When I sat down, Hayama placed a can of coffee in front of me. The brand showed that it wasn’t MAX coffee, but BLACK coffee. Seeing me look at the brand name again and again, Hayama gave a bitter smile.
“You want it to be sweeter?”(!)
Even I, had no interest in drinking something sweet now.(!) Besides, I still had to eat chocolate after this.(!) I opened the can of coffee, and drank it in big gulps. Hayama did the same as well, and with a ‘Fuuuuuuuuuuu” exhaled greatly. There wasn’t any sort of conversation between us, just the sound of coffee cans hitting the table as well as the occasional sighs that escaped our mouth. This sounds of this exchange replaced any possible conversation and continued on intermittently. From the weight on my hand, I knew that I was nearly done drinking the can, when Hayama suddenly said, “Even so.”
“I thought about it properly as well.”(!)
My reply to him was serious, as I really had no idea as to what he was trying to tell me. However, he gave his usual Hayama Hayato-like smile that everyone was familiar with and continued on gently.
“If it’s like this, then everyone…… everyone can behave more naturally that way.”(!)
Saying that, he took a glance round the cooking room. Following his gaze, I could see all sorts of things happening around me. Miura who was looking at the weighing scales seriously, or Isshiki who was whistling as she operated the oven, or Yuigahama whose face was flushed pink as well as Yukinoshita who was hugging her head as she watched Yuigahama. Soon, Hayama’s gaze returned to me again.(!) That expressions that he now had was one that I knew fairly well, a lonely bittersweet smile that was characteristic of Hayama Hayato. The ‘everyone’ that Hayama spoke of.(!) Who was he referring to?(!) And who was included in this ‘everyone’ that he keeps referring to?(!) I noticed this faintly and averted my gaze from Hayama, and took a sip from the bitter coffee. I had no response to his soliloquy, and Hayama added in another sentence suddenly again.
The anime shortens it to an incredibly short interaction. I’d say cutting out how Hayato pities Hachiman for doing the same thing he is doing is a pretty huge adaptation miss. In their first interaction, Hayato revealed how he pitied Hachiman. During this conversation Hayato comes to terms with this being the best way to handle things even if it isn’t genuine.