>While Hayato may have come to accept what Hachiman is doing, Haruno doesn’t. Haruno tries stirring the pot with Yukino a little, but she gets no response.
However, she was probably getting tired of looking after others, for she was now leisurely enjoying a cup of tea with Yukinoshita.
“Yukino-chan, what are you making? Let your Onee-chan have a taste~”
Haruno-san’s insistent voice was completely ignored by Yukinoshita. Yukinoshita was now supervising Miura and Yuigahama. Under Yukinoshita’s watchful eyes, Miura was molding the dough into shape with a serious look, whereas Yuigahama was shaping the mold with another piece of dough. She was probably displeased with how Yukinoshita ignored her(!), and so her tone changed to one that was pouting, and spoke again to Yukinoshita.
“Hey, Yukino-chan, can you hear me~”(!)
“……Haruno-san, Yukinoshita-san is still quite busy.”(!)
Seeing this situation, Hayama had a wry smile, and walked up to Haruno-san’s side as though wanting to try and dissuade her.(!) If the surroundings were going to be that noisy, Miura would probably get distracted. Maybe Hayama said such things because he felt concerned about this as well.
>Hachiman’s job as taste tester is about to begin, but not before Orimoto triggers this turn of events.
As everyone focus on doing their own things, my job as a taste-tester was probably about to begin as well. As I thought that, I watched from the sidelines, maintaining my ‘Not going to be a bother ‘ pose.(!) Thereupon, Orimoto came running my way, and spoke to me, who had currently nothing to do.
“……Come to think of it, have I ever given some to Hikigaya?”(!)
Her tone suggested that she really had no idea which made me smile bitterly. You don’t remember? Well, that’s to be expected. Although Orimoto was the type who would give obligatory chocolate to whoever it was as long as they asked, I somehow did not fall under that category of ‘whoever ‘.
>All the girls react to Orimoto’s question.
>After witnessing this event, Haruno sees an opportunity to get Yukino’s attention. She brings up Yukino and Hayato’s past, which causes Yukino and Hachiman to get awkward around each other. Hayato defuses the situation by saying that it was in elementary school and that Haruno also received some. Haruno doesn’t like hearing answers like that. (In ANOTHER Yukino says that Haruno made Yukino give some to Hayato.)
I carried with me a small sense of satisfaction and turned my head back at the kitchen table, and my eyes met with Haruno-san, who was standing by the window.(!) Haruno-san seemed to have been watching our exchange with a great smile on her face.(!) Her expression seemed to suggest that she had spotted something fun to toy with.(!) Then, her expression changed from the soft smile to a sadistic one.(!) The corners of her mouth curled upwards, and her eyes that were now narrowed had a sharp edge to them. Haruno-san looked at Hayama who was beside her.(!)
“Let me see, Hayato seemed to have received some chocolate from Yukino-chan some time ago?”(!)
Although she was talking to Hayama, the truth is 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. But what was surprisingly, was that my hands had somehow became fists at some point in time.(!) It’s going to be hard to comb my hair like that…… Yukinoshita did not deny Haruno-san’s words, and looked at me with a troubled look in her eyes.(!) Her expression seemed to suggest that she felt troubled because she didn’t know what to do at having the past suddenly brought up.(!) She bit her lips lightly, and her eyes betrayed a sense of the unease she was in.(!) However, I probably had a similar expression as well.(!) The discomfort I felt was as though I had phlegm stuck in my throat, or the insides of my stomach crawling about due to indigestion. Yukinoshita lowered her head, and I averted my eyes as well.(!) In front of me, I could see Yuigahama’s uneasy expression as she seemed to be quite worried about us. A short silence. Still, it felt as though a long period of time had passed. I wanted to say something to break this silence, but I couldn’t find anything appropriate to say.
“Ah, that’s true, that’s probably during elementary school or so. Haruno-san received some as well.”(!)
The person who gave such a correct answer(!) under this sort of situation, was of course Hayama. Hayama answered with an ever so magnificent, refreshing smile on his face, and dodged the question.(!) Hearing that, Haruno-san seemed to be a little let-down.(!) Hearing his answer, Miura looked relieved, and Isshiki heaved a sigh of relief as well. Yet, in contrast to their reaction, Yukinoshita Haruno’s expression seemed to grow even colder.(!) She glanced at Hayama with a disinterested look(!), and left the window side as though she was bored with the development. Hayama watched her leave with a lonely look in his eyes.
>This is essentially the payoff to this moment in the series.
>Haruno confronts Yukino about who she’s going to give chocolates to. Is it going to be Haruno? No, because Haruno has never given Yukino chocolates in her life. So, then apparently it’s somebody else. Now, Haruno brings up how Yukino has never lied before, but that there have been times where she hasn’t told the truth. Haruno is likely referring to the car accident here, but possibly also Yukino’s past and Yukino’s current issues.
Haruno-san stopped by Yukinoshita’s side.
“Then, Yukino-chan, who are you planning to give this to?”(!)
Her voice seemed to suggest that she was just joking with her. If one did not have a good understanding of the two of them, it would surely have sounded like some cute teasing between the two sisters. In actuality, Yukinoshita who looked away with a “Hnng”, seemed to be just a playful sulk from her in response to her sister’s teasing.
“……This has nothing to do with Nee-san.”(!)
“Eh, you are not going to give your Onee-chan?”(!)
Haruno-san laughed softly, and hearing her joking tone, Yukinoshita glared at her, seemingly a little angry.
“Of course not. There’s absolutely no reason for me to do that, not to mention that I have never received chocolates from Nee-san even until today.”(!)
“Uh, that’s indeed true.”(!)
Haruno-san nodded her head, indicating her understanding, and then, she smiled bitterly as she sighed.
“Well, Yukino-chan say she wouldn’t be giving me and so she definitely won’t be doing so. She has never lied after all.”(!)
This point was very close to my impression of Yukinoshita in the past. However, Yukinoshita Haruno definitely had a greater understanding of her than I had in the past.
“But, there are still times when she wouldn’t say the truth.”(!)
Haruno-san was looking at Yukinoshita coldly as she said that, a great change from her previous warm and cheerful gaze.(!)
“You didn’t say that you were not going to give it to anyone. That means you are indeed going to give it to someone.”(!)
Yukinoshita maintained her silence and continued to glare at Haruno-san coldly. Although I saw her accepting her sister ‘s conclusion, but the smile on Haruno-san’s face did not change.
“Well, but the people to whom Yukino-chan can give chocolates to are very limited.”(!)
“Asinine. Whatever you say.”(!)
Yukinoshita discontinued the conversation, and once again, began to work.
>Yukino clumsily knocks her bowl over, she immediately apologizes to Hachiman, which shows that she feels a need to apologize to Hachiman for any shortcomings. Both Hachiman and Yukino continue to fumble around being very insecure about how to approach one another. Yui picks up the bowl and makes a joke to make the tense atmosphere disappear. Yui hands Yukino the bowl back, but Hachiman notices Yui’s lonely expression. He starts wondering when he has seen that expression before. (Possibly in Volume 3, after seeing Yukino and Hachiman on their date at the mall or during a couple of moments during this volume after Yui witnessed the infirmary scene. The point is, Hachiman is starting to notice that Yui is starting to withdraw.)
She reached her hands out towards the empty bowl and tray in front of her, and began to keep them, deliberately making “Ka-cha, Ka-cha” noises as she did so. The exchange between the Yukinoshita sisters had finally come to an end, and the cooking room resumed its usual clamorous state. This clamorous atmosphere gave everyone present a sense of peace and calm. Just as I sighed in relief, I heard a loud clanging noise. Looking in the direction of that noise, I saw a metallic bowl spinning on the floor, spinning towards me. Accompanying the ringing sound of the bowl, was a small voice.
Yukinoshita lowered her head, her face a shade of red all the way till the tip of her ears, and she came running over to pick up the bowl. This sort of mediocre mistake was really rare.(!) As I thought so, I squatted down to pick up the bowl that had come spinning to me. Thereupon, I locked eyes with Yukinoshita, who had also squatted down to pick up the bowl. Both of us extended our hands, and froze in that posture, searching for hints as to who would be one to pick it up. We looked at each other, separated by just a few centimeters. Yukinoshita hurriedly retracted her hand that was so close to touching mine. What are you so agitated about? Seeing you like that will make me agitated too as well.
I looked away from her, and left the job to her as I tried to apologize. Yukinoshita picked up the bowl in a hurry. However, probably because of her unstable grasp of the bowl as she picked it up, the rim of the bowl that was still in contact with the floor once more made its annoying ringing noise and rolled someplace else. The noise made by it continued to reach my eyes, and even if it finally stopped moving, that noise would still be stuck inside my head. It was not until when someone picked up the bowl gently, did that noise finally cease. I raised my head, and saw Yuigahama spinning the bowl on her fingers, puffing out her chest with pride.
“Hehe, Yukinon, you still need have quite some way to go. My ability in handling metals bowl and cooking equipment is top-notch.”
Seeing her laugh like that as she said it, I sighed with relief.(!) The thing that had been stuck in my chest seemed to have disappeared as well. I said a few words and stood up at last.
“……No, apart from this, everything else is a fatal flaw.”
“That is indeed so. ……Thank you.”
Yukinoshita too, had a smile on her face, and with her thanks, extended her hand to take the bowl from Yuigahama. Yuigahama nodded her head with an “Un” and passed the bowl back to her. Yuigahama had a somewhat lonely expression(!), and looking at her now empty palm, clenched her hand into a fist. That action caused me some degree of concern(!), and I looked at her for a while. When and where have I seen that expression before?(!) Exactly when was that? As I searched my memories, I sat down on the chair by the wall. Just as I let out yet another sigh, I seemed to feel that somewhere, someone was gently laughing away.
In the anime, Hachiman doesn’t pay attention to Yui’s facial expression. Also we get a close up of Haruno to show that she isn’t pleased with this result.
>Sensei has one final conversation with Hachiman. Hachiman says he’s afraid of change, he tells her he’s feeling a sense of unease. Sensei tells him to never give up on that sense of unease and she once again tells Hachiman to learn to “think with his heart”.
“I don’t really feel like we’ve grown though. We keep doing the same things over and over again.”
“Even so, there will be more or less some changes.”
Hiratsuka conversed with me as she continued eating her chocolates. She swallowed the chocolate and proceeded to wipe her mouth with her finger. This action was sexy, or rather, youth-like. I laughed unintentionally.
Indeed, my impression of Hiratsuka-sensei had sort of gradually changed. Hence, other people’s perception of me would have more or less changed a little as well. However, towards this sort of change, I harbored a sort of fear(!), the type that was hard to put in words.
“Change, that huh…… To hear it mentioned like that, gives me a sort of weird feeling.”(!)
“A strange feeling?”(!)
Hiratsuka cocked her head and observed me. I felt embarrassed and turned my face away, and hurriedly continue on with what I wanted to say.
“Ah, something like discomfort and unease?”(!)
After saying it out, I felt an unexpected sense of satisfaction. That was something that had always been bugging me. That feeling would strike me unexpectedly at times; that feeling was somewhat different from what I had always felt. When I interacted with those people(!), a doubt would surge forth from the depths of my heart as I questioned myself, “Was this really right?”(!)
“Unease, huh…… I hope that you will never forget that feeling.”(!)
Hiratsuka-sensei was staring into the distance, and spoke in a tone that seemed like she was reminiscing of something. Although the target of her words was me, she seemed to be saying that to someone else as well.(!)
However, as expected, she was instead talking to me, and her gaze returned back to me.
“This is probably what they deem as signs of growing up. When you become an adult, you will often gloss over such things. That’s why, right now, I wish that you would take a closer look at this ‘unease’ that you are feeling.(!) This is extremely important.”
“But there’s a saying that says that important things can’t be seen.”
I said that on purpose to poke fun at what she said, to which Hiratsuka-sensei chuckled.
“You are not meant to see it with your eyes. You are supposed to look at it with your heart.”(!)
“Don’t think, feel. That sort of meaning? I don’t have that sort of force.”
What was this person talking about…… Was she just saying this for the sake of being able to say some lines from a shounen manga……. I looked at her with that sort of expression, and Hiratsuka coughed intentionally, probably from embarrassment.
“Just the opposite. Don’t feel, think.”
Hiratsuka-sensei who repeated her words once more, no longer had a joking expression on her face, her eyes was filled with kindness and sincerity. Slowly, quietly, she continued to convey her intentions to me.
“Towards this sense of unease, please, always continue to think about it.”(!)
I repeated that word, trying to digest the meaning of it completely. Hiratsuka-sensei nodded her head in reply.
“Un. Always. If you do, you will definitely be able to understand it one day. People don’t look back to see how much distance they have covered when they are walking. In fact, from the viewpoint of those who have stopped walking, the more they progress, the more they feel betrayed.”(!)
Hiratsuka spoke until here, and took one more look at the people in this room one by one.
“Right now, I am glad to be able to see this sort of scene up close.”
Saying that, Hiratsuka-sensei stood up.
“……After all, I can’t watch over you guys forever.”
Hearing that sort of voice, I looked at her, and saw Hiratsuka-sensei flexed her shoulders, and stretched herself lazily, making it impossible to take a peek at the expression on her face.
Which brings us to the following chapter:
Chapter 6: The genuine article that he seeks is still out of his grasp and he continues to mistake what’s real.
This is the last chapter of the chocolate making event. Hachiman makes his last round between all the characters. He receives chocolates from the following characters: Iroha, Orimoto, Saki and Yui. This ties into the chapter title/episode title. (See Part 5 for an explanation)
>Hachiman is looking for another distraction.
Then again, considering his attitude just now, could it be, that that was Tamanawa’s effort in trying to hit on her! It looked like he was totally unable to convey his intention to her. ……Who cares, it’s none of my business. Putting his matter at the back of my mind, I needed to work hard too. The important part is to get Totsuka to wear a skirt in front of me. Eh, Totsuka, totsuka, suka, totsuka. I began searching for Totsuka in high spirits, and I easily found him. As expected of Totsuka, no matter where he was in this world, I had a hunch that I would be able to find him anyway! I approached him and saw that he was together with Zaimokuza, and they were with Keika. Upon taking a closer look, Kawasaki was beside the kitchen table, clearing up the area as quickly as she could. I guess that the both of them had taken of the task of looking after Keika whilst she was cleaning up the area.
>Hachiman wants to walk Saki to the station, Saki says it’s not necessary. For “some reason” Hachiman decides to sit down instead of going back inside. Hachiman is “happy” with the way things are.
As she was doing those, we reached the entrance of the Communication Center. The sky outside was already dark.
“Do you want me to walk you to the station?”(!)
“There’s no need. I always go back at this sort of time anyway. Don’t you have other things to do anyway?”(!)
“Well then, good bye.”
“……Careful on the road.”
I called out to the two of them who were walking on the path that would lead to home, and watched their retreating figures getting smaller and smaller in the distance. There was no wind and no clouds, and the winter night sky was clear.. However, it incited coldness as well. The two of them clung to each other tightly, so they probably wouldn’t feel any coldness. I kind of regretted not wearing any coats before coming out. Although all I had to do was to go back inside, but what was unexpected was that I did not move even one step.(!) As I shivered, I sat down on the steps in front of the door and sighed deeply.(!) I had clearly not done anything worth of note, but nevertheless, I still felt a huge sense of fatigue. Yet, I felt that what I had done was sufficient as well. Hearing Miura, Ebina-san as well as the Kawasaki sisters’ request, then organizing this event with Isshiki and the student council. There was also Orimoto, and Tamanawa as well as the student council members of Kaihinsougou High, and Meguri-senpai and Haruno-san too came running over to join, and even Hayama and Tobe came to participate as taste-testers. There was also Totsuka and Zaimokuza, and Hiratsuka sensei who dropped by as well. It was more than enough. I am really happy.(!) And that was what I murmured.(!) Just like the feelings of itchiness that an ant crawling on your body gives, that same feeling extended all the way to my neck(!), the corners of my mouth continued to remain in a smile. This was probably the cold’s fault that caused my face to stiffen in such a manner.(!) I rubbed my face to try and disperse the cold, and stood up at last.(!)
>Hachiman enters the room again, Yukino pours tea for him. She tells Hachiman that he has worked hard, not knowing that Hachiman has been doing that to keep himself occupied.
Yukinoshita poured the red tea into the paper cup, and after preparing three portions, sat back down again. Then, she noticed me walking towards her, and called out to me.
“Ara, seems like you worked hard.”(!)
“I didn’t do anything worthy of that.”
As I answered her I sat down, and Yukinoshita swiftly brought paper cup in front of me. Her eyes had a teasing edge to them.
“Is that so? Contrary to what you say, you seem to be pretty busy.”(!)
Was that because of chocolates? That’s right, chocolates and maka was really effective in reducing one’s fatigue. Come to think of it, the fact that I was moving quickly from place to place wasn’t exactly wrong, so it was indeed hard for me to deny what she had said.
“Seems like you can get some rest at last.”
>Hachiman tries Yui’s cookies. The Service Club members have pretty much become Hayato’s group 2.0. They’re enjoying the time they’re spending together, enjoying the now, while superficially hanging out with one another and not addressing anything.
“You worked hard as well.”
“Yes. That’s correct. I really worked hard.”
With that, Yukinoshita’s eyes looked in the direction of the oven. Yuigahama was there. Both her hands were wearing mittens, and carrying the baking tray, came running towards us. Ah ah, I get it now. Yukinoshita was not only teaching Miura and Kawasaki how to bake.(!) She probably taught Yuigahama as well.(!) That indeed would be tiring.
“Hikki, try this!”(!)
With a Ta-dah!, she presented a plate of chocolate cookies to me. Yuigahama must have had always been waiting in front of the oven for such an opportunity(!), for the cookies emitted a fragrance that indicated that it was fresh out of the oven. Looking at it, it seemed to be just like any ordinary cookie. Although some of the shapes were uneven, but there weren’t any obvious burnt marks. There also didn’t seem to be any suspicious thing mixed into it. There didn’t seem to be any problem with it. Right then, what was left was just the taste. I took a peek at Yuigahama’s expression, who was standing right in front of me. What I saw were her pupils sparkling with anticipation, her restless shoulders shaking nervously, as well as a smile on her lips that tried to cover up her lack of confidence. With that kind of expression she was making, I had no choice but to eat it……(!) I gulped, making an audible noise. Naturally, what I swallowed wasn’t saliva. If I must say it, then what I swallowed was my resolution!
“……Alright, let’s eat.”
With a long and deep breath, and then rolled up my sleeves all of a sudden! Just as I was about to quickly extend my hand towards it, Yukinoshita who was beside me opened her mouth without warning.
“You seem to be making some sort of tragic resolution, but it’s going to be alright. I more or less helped her with it.”
“......What, well then, I am relieved.”
“I think I just heard something horrible!?”
Easing the tension from my shoulders, I tossed the cookie into my mouth carefreely. With a few munches and crunches, I swallowed it. After waiting for a bit, I realized that my body did not produce any adverse reaction to it.
“……Amazing. It’s actually edible.”
“What do you mean by its edible…… Cookies are naturally edible, in fact, it’s meant to be eaten.”
As my honest thoughts unconsciously spilled out, Yuigahama puffed out her face upon hearing it. No no, knowing your cooking skills, this was already considered great praise from me? But my surprise was real. Yuigahama really did put a lot of effort into it.(!) Although all of this was really thanks to Yukinoshita…… As I thought so I looked at Yukinoshita, she was brushing her hair off her shoulders, and puffed her chest out in pride.
“This is to be expected. After all, I did monitor her carefully for each important step of making the cookie.”
“That’s called monitoring!? I thought, that that was just you teaching me normally.”
Although Yuigahama seemed dejected, but in Yukinoshita’s vocabulary, monitoring and teaching essentially had the same meaning, so she didn’t really have to take it to heart. In fact, Yukinoshita really didn’t seem to care about the difference between the meanings of those two words, and was busy moving the cookies from the baking tray to a paper plate, and inspecting it carefully. Then, she pinched her jaw, and nodded her head.
“Doesn’t seem to have much problem. There seems to be nothing wrong with the taste as well, so I shall eat a little as well.”
“So what you mean is that, I was there to test for poison…… Why am I the one who does such a dangerous task?”
“Don’t keep making that talk about it being poisoned! I want to eat it as well.”
The three of us sat back down, and reached out for the cookies.
>Hachiman tries convincing himself that he is really happy with the way things are right now, but for some reason that feeling of unease is still there. Just as Hachiman has that thought, here comes Haruno. Is the trio allowed to act like Hayato’s group? Not on Haruno’s watch. Haruno asks Hachiman if this is what he considers genuine. If this is really the extent of how meaningful their relationship is, then Haruno prefers the Yukino that followed in Haruno’s shadow. Hachiman is once again confronted with the one thing he has been trying to keep his mind off of the entire event/volume.
The sweet cookies, the warm red tea, having all these, were more than enough to make me satisfied. It should be so. That’s why, once again, in my throat, I murmured that I was really happy.(!) And yet, that feeling of unease still existed within me.(!) Just as I felt that, I heard the sound of high heels steeping on the floor. That person didn’t seem to be interested in hiding the fact that she was approaching us, in fact she seemed to be bragging out her existence. Step by step, she approached us, and revealed herself. Noticing the high-heel sounds, Yukinoshita stole a glance behind me. Her brow furrowed nearly instantly. Just by these alone, it was sufficient to deduce who it was behind me. It was Yukinoshita Haruno.
“Nee-san. What’s the matter.”
Haruno-san did not answer Yukinoshita’s question. Rather, she looked at me straight in the eyes, silently. Her fingers glided across her mouth, those seductive lips slowly opened.
“This is Hikigaya-kun’s genuine things?”(!)
The instant she said that, a chill ran over my spine, and I averted my gaze from Haruno-san’s face instinctively. However, Haruno-san would not allow me to escape(!), and she took another step yet again to close the distance between her and me.
“This moment in time, is what you meant by the genuine article?”(!)
“……I don’t know.”
I had no idea of how to come up with a meaningful answer. Haruno-san’s question had in it a sense of coldness, but also at the same time, it was also genuine. As though it was telling me that she really didn’t understand, that she couldn’t comprehend this at all. That voice, sounded like she was forsaking me.(!)
“Nee-san, what are you trying to do?”
“That, that’s right, this, th, that……”
I raised my hand gently, stopping Yukinoshita and Yuigahama who was about to speak, having been unable to tolerate this anymore. Right now, the person who was being asked was me. From the start, I didn’t need to do anything. Yukinoshita Haruno didn’t seem to be interested in anything else apart from my answer.(!) She looked at me intently, noticing my each and every action, noticing each of my breaths.
“Is that it? ……I thought that you weren’t this sort of person.”(!)
Saying this, she approached my back, and lowered her head and looked at me eye-to-eye.
“Are you really that boring?”(!)
The distance between us was so close that I could feel her breath, that this distance was so close that I could touch her just by moving a little. Yet, that sentence felt as though it came from somewhere shockingly far.
“If I was that interesting, I would have already become the class popularity king.”
“That is something that I like about you.”
Seeing how I answered her whilst looking away, Haruno-san laughed as though she had found something funny. Then, she finally took a step away from me. If she were to leave like that I would be more than happy. However, Yukinoshita Haruno would not do that. I had known long ago she wasn’t such a generous person. Haruno-san was a step away from us, and glaring at all of us.
“……However, you are all so boring currently. I… kind of prefer the Yukino-chan of the past.”(!)
That sentence caused me to catch my breath. I felt that my face was stiffening. Although I had no way of looking at the expressions of Yukinoshita and Yuigahama who were looking down, I dare say that their expression and mine were the same. I willfully decided that for myself. Haruno-san seemed to have realized that no one could answer her and took a short breath. Soon, the sound of the high-heels gradually grew further. Hearing that voice, I understood very clearly what she was trying to convey.(!) The words hidden behind Yukinoshita Haruno’s words, that this was not genuine.(!) I agree.(!) Met with this type of situation, these sort of relationships, there was that feeling of discomfort that I had.(!) Due to lack of experience, because I wasn’t used to it, hence, I had always thought that these were merely feelings of discomfort. I had always thought that with the passage of time, I would get used to it, that I would be able to accept it.(!) Even so, she did not overlook this. Something that had frozen and had clung on to my chest. The restless cold that was within me. The feeling of disgust that had always been there but had not revealed itself even until today. Things that I didn’t want to think about(!), had all been pointed out by Haruno-san.
“That is not trust, but something more unforgivable, more awful.”
In the anime Hachiman thinks about this while they’re walking Yukino home.
>Since all of this is new to Hachiman, he thought that this was the way it was supposed to be, that over time he’d get used to it. However Haruno gave them a firm wake-up call.
>Hachiman is very eager to help out, so much so that he wants to stay until the very end. Hachiman wants to distract himself with work, otherwise he’ll start thinking about the things he doesn’t want to think about.
What was left behind after a festival was loneliness.(!) It was not an exception for the event held in this cooking room. After Isshiki completed her simple concluding statement, everyone began to pack-up and left in groups of two and threes. The number of people gradually grew fewer, the originally lively cooking room grew quiet as well. Only the student council members were left as well as us, the members of the Service Club.(!) As I was helping the student council members to clear up the trash and return everything to their original positions, Isshiki returned after having collected the posters.
“The student council will take care of the rest, so you guys can leave now?”(!)
Listening to her, I took a look around the room once more. There was indeed not much left to be done. There shouldn’t be any big problems leaving the rest of the work to them.(!) However, my answer was the opposite.(!)
“Un……. But, I still want to help till the very end.”(!)
“Yes. There’s no need to be too considerate towards us.”(!)
Be it Yuigahama, Yukinoshita or me. We all chose to stay back and help out.(!) Hearing our answer, Isshiki was surprised and looked at me seeking confirmation. As I nodded my head in reply, she smiled.
“Is that so? Then, I will take you up on your word.”
Although Isshiki said that, but the one should be taking her up on her word was me. Because once this was all over(!), there would be no way for me to stop thinking about those things that I do not want to think about(!), hence I wanted to delay time as much as possible.(!) However, this kind of resistance could not continue to prolong this period of time.(!) The tidying up was almost complete, the only job left was to clean up our kitchen table. I squashed the already cold paper tea cup, and tossed it into the trash bag. After sealing the opening firmly, there was nothing else to do. After locking the door, and checking for anything that we had forgotten to take, everyone left the communication center. Placing the trash bag at the designated area, there was no longer any reason for me to stay here.(!)
>The trio decides to go have dinner. Hachiman would rather go home, but he can’t come up with a reason to reject them.
Hearing me ask that, Yuigahama gave a somewhat troubled smile.
“I, I was thinking, let’s go have dinner?”
Her abrupt request caused me and Yukinoshita to look at each other.
“What should we do? It’s already quite late.”
“Then then, since I am going to stay overnight at Yukinon’s house, how about we eat something nearby?”
“Tonight…… You just decided that on your own didn’t you…….”
Indeed, Yuigahama seemed to stay over at Yukinoshita’s house quite often. I had the impression that they always go back together after this sort of event.
“Is, is that all right with you? I can’t?”
Yuigahama said so in a coquettish tone. Yukinoshita sighed softly.
“I don’t really mind……”
“Woohoo! Then, let’s go! Hikki……What about you?”
Her sweet voice was slightly different from the way she spoke to Yukinoshita just now, and caused me to feel a sort of pressure.(!) Hence, unable to think of a suitable reason to reject her, I had no choice but to agree.(!)
“I will go as well, since I am hungry anyway. How about we gather by the station?”
Hearing her reply, I nodded my head in return as well. I changed the direction of my bike, and began to pedal immediately.
>While walking Yukino back home, the trio encounters Yukimom. Yukimom says she heard from Haruno about Yukino’s sudden change in her career path. Yukimom wants to talk about this, because it jeopardizes her plans of keeping a strong relationship between the Yukinoshita and Hayama families. Yukimom passively aggressively takes all the blame on herself. Yukino is unable to talk back to her mother. Yui tries interjecting, but Yukimom quickly shuts her down. This is a Yukinoshita private family matter. Yukino tells her mother that she will explain everything to her, just not right now and not in front of her friends.
“I heard from Haruno about your future education path. I came here to talk to you regarding that. Yukino. What are you doing outside so late at night……”
Facing her mother ‘s caring gaze, Yukinoshita lowered her head. Seeing her reaction, Yukinoshita’s mother sighed lightly.
“I thought that you weren’t the type of kid who would do something like this.”(!)
Hearing this sentence, Yukinoshita raised her head in an instant, and looked at her mother’s eyes fixedly. However, she was unable to object to her(!), and was only able to bite her lips softly and looked away. The kind yet cold words wrapped about Yukinoshita. To keep her in check(!), to deny her(!), this sentence was more than enough.(!) Yukinoshita’s mother was not looking at her sharply. Her voice too did not contain any trace of anger or irritation. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that it was closer to that of grief or sorrow.(!)
“I believed in you, hence I gave you freedom(!), but…… No, this is my responsibility, this is my failure.”(!)
Not giving anyone the opening for a rebuttal, Yukinoshita said as such and shook her head silently when she was done.
Yukinoshita spoke in a weak voice as though trying to say something(!), but this too, was swept away by yet another sentence from her mother.(!)
“Perhaps it’s my bad……”(!)
Her own monologue was apologetic and she seemed to be lamenting something as well. Her monologue that came out in bits and pieces that showed her frail and self-punishing attitude did not permit anyone else to take the blame.(!) No one else, not even Yukinoshita, who was the subject of her talk. As soon as she noticed Yukinoshita’s mother sighing away in regret, Yuigahama spoke timidly.
“That…… Today is, because it was an event by the student council, that’s why, she was helping out until so late……”
“Is that so, are you here to walk her home, then, thank you. However, it’s already quite late now, your family members must be worried about you. ……What do you think?”
Hence, please hurry up and go back. Although she didn’t say this directly, but she conveyed the same meaning with that kind voice and gentle smile, without any trace of sharpness in her words no matter how hard you searched. At the same time, her attitude also drew a clear line for all of us(!), that this was their family’s problem(!), so outsiders shouldn’t interfere in it.(!) We had no choice but to back off as well. We both knew that we weren’t in a position to say anything.(!) After we kept our silence, Yukinoshita’s mother quietly closed the distance between us, and gently touched Yukinoshita’s shoulders.
“I hope that you are able to become yourself, to live a life of your own……(!) However, I am afraid that you would walk the wrong path……(!) From here on, what do you want to do?”(!)
This question seem to contain a lot of subtext. I was unable to completely understand it.
“……I will explain it properly, so could you please go back for now?”(!)
“Is that so…… If that’s what you say……”(!)
>Yukimom turns towards Hachiman and Yui and says that it’s time for her to go back home, the implication being that Hachiman and Yui should go home as well. Hachiman asks if he can walk Yui home, Yui says it wouldn’t be fair of her to take advantage of the situation, now that both Haruno and Yukimom are applying pressure to Yukino.
Hearing the words from Yukinoshita, whose head was lowered, Yukinoshita’s mother had a perplexed expression on her face. Then, her gaze shifted towards me and Yuigahama.
“…… It’s time for me to go back as well, since she’s already safely back home.”
Saying that, I gave a bow towards Yukinoshita’s mother, and turned about. Having a boy so close to her daughter who lives alone, that was probably something that didn’t rest well with her.(!) If I were to continue staying there, that would probably be unfavorable for Yukinoshita. After walking away for a few meters and looking back, Yukinoshita seemed to have exchanged a few sentences with her mother. After that, Yukinoshita’s mother returned to the car. Yukinoshita who remained rooted to the spot for a while quickly disappeared behind the condominium’s doors. As Yuigahama and I waited for the traffic light in front of the pedestrian crossing, Yukinoshita’s family car slowly drove by in front of us. The windows of the back seats were covered with some reflective material, and I was unable to look inside.(!) However, I felt that I was being observed(!), which made me lose my composure. Soon, the light turned green, and Yuigahama ran a few steps ahead before turning round.
“Then, I will go back first.”
“Ah…… let me walk you home.”(!)
However, Yuigahama shook her head.(!)
“There’s no need, it’s very near to the station from here. Also, I feel that…… this isn’t very fair.”(!)
I replied her helplessly, and just like that, I watched her leaving figure walking away from me.
>As Hachiman is headed home, he starts thinking about the things he has tried keeping his mind off of the entire volume. This is an incredibly important monologue for several reasons. It portrays one of Yahari’s main themes: who defines who you are. Everyone has an ideal image of themselves that they want to present to the world. Everyone wants others to perceive them in that way. However at the same time how a person is perceived by others is different for each person that interacts with you. If you think back to Part 1, about Hachiman’s monologue near the end of Volume 5, where he spends time thinking of how other people perceive Yukino, you could see this as the continuation of that. Another important thing that comes from this monologue is that Hachiman wants his genuine article to be incorruptible. That’s why he has been avoiding putting a label on the current relationship he has with Yukino, because if he were to try and change it into something different, it wouldn’t be the genuine thing he wants them to have. The final thing to be taken from this monologue, is that because Hachiman doesn’t believe anymore that what Yukino feels for him is genuine, he wants to “cover it up under the snow”.
Ignoring everything else, I began to pedal my bike non-stop, and as opposed to my body which was starting to get heated up, my mind became completely chilled. What I appear to be.(!) What she appears to be.(!) What our true self appears to be.(!) No matter who it was, we all have our personal image that had always been determined by others, one that was always slightly off the mark.(!) Whether it’s me or her, we were all the same.(!) Our true selves and our appearances always seem to differ from one another. This was a fact that was easily understood without the need for anyone to confirm it. Because, this was what I had said so in the past. This was what the Hikigaya Hachiman of the past had always been saying. Was this really okay? Was this your desire? Was this Hikigaya Hachiman?(!) That jeer, that angry roar, that howl; I closed my eyes and shut my ears to prevent myself from hearing them. What replaced the words that should have come out of my mouth, was a hot sigh. Our true self was something that not even ourselves could assert. Then, this genuine article. Where can we actually find our true selves?(!) Why was it that in this world, our relationships were defined by this sort of thing? Unease. Once I give this a more definite name, I would no longer be able to think of it as just mere unease. This feeling, this relationship, was something that cannot be defined. It was something that must not be given a name.(!) One shouldn’t discover the meaning of such a thing. Because, once one appends a meaning to it, it would lose all of its other functionality. If I could just admit it, it would surely be easier for me, but the reason why I did not do so, was because I knew. That if I mold it into something else, if I were to change it, it would only lead to its corruption.(!) Because what I wanted was something incorruptible(!), I had always avoided giving it a name. Whether it was me, or her, were we all clinging onto these shapeless words?(!) My brain was full of such thoughts. At the very least, I wouldn’t have to think about this extra stuff if the snow would just fall and cover up and hide away all these sort of thoughts.(!) However, snow was extremely rare in this city, and tonight, the night sky was not muddied and was perfectly clear. The light from the stars were ever so bright, and illuminated me ever so distinctly.
Anyway, the parts that were very applicable to the second season have all been brought out at once in this episode. That would be the doubt that is, “myself,”(!) who we think we are(!), and the image that others want of us.(!) These will be the things that will shape us. Once they have established their identity, when they face the problem that they have been avoiding directly, I don’t have any expectations that the relationship between the three of them would be unaffected just because they each can talk it out.(!)
>Back at school, Yukino has trouble looking Hachiman directly in his face. Yukino apologizes for her mother showing up. Hachiman and Yui tell her it’s not a big deal, however no one talks about it. Instead they start talking about Komachi’s entrance exams.
The long table had a teacup, a mug and a teacup that looked out of place with the other two. Out of the corner of my eyes, I could see Yukinoshita pouring red tea into each of them. She placed the steaming hot tea in front of me and Yuigahama. I lifted my head from the paperback so as to take the red tea, and Yukinoshita and I met each other ‘s gaze.(!) Yukinoshita immediately lowered her head(!), but quickly looked up again.(!) Then, she lowered her faze once more.(!) This unnatural attitude of hers was clearly different from usual. Yuigahama seemed to feel the same way as well.
Hearing her voice, Yukinoshita looked at her with some restraint, then glanced at me again. Then, she spoke with some difficulty.(!)
“I am really sorry for that time…… That, my mother, she……”(!)
Saying that, she lowered her head silently. Although she didn’t say much, but judging from the few keywords and the way she spoke, I quickly understood what she was apologizing for.(!) The events of that day rose easily to my mind without me having to rack my brains. I could not forget it, the events of that day kept playing itself out again and again in my head.(!) The matter with her mother notwithstanding, the words that Haruno-san said to me as well(!) as the parting words she gave Yuigahama(!) kept repeating themselves in my head. It’s just that there wasn’t any point in talking about them, not to mention that no one was to blame for that chain of events. Hence, I shook my head slightly and told her that it was nothing she should worry about. Thereupon, Yuigahama who was seated diagonally opposite me, waved her hand vigorously to imply that she didn’t mind either.
>Yui tries to encourage Yukino to give Hachiman the cookies/chocolates she made, Hachiman still tries denying his and Yukino’s feelings because he doesn’t believe in them anymore.
Seems like there wasn’t going to be any visitors today. The clubroom had a relaxed atmosphere flowing about it like always. As I enjoyed this faint sense of relief, I continued to turn the page of my paperback. Yuigahama sprawled herself lazily on the table, fiddling about with her mobile phone whilst Yukinoshita was taking off the lid of the teapot, and poured another cup of red tea. Then, she placed her bag on the table, and from it, took out a small paper bag. Opening the bag, sound light rustling sounds could be heard as well as the presence of a sweet smelling fragrance. Seems like this was some sort of snacks to go along with the tea. Yukinoshita poured them carefully onto a wooden plate. I took a glance at it, and realized there was an assortment of them, ranging from the chocolate chip with jam, or cookies with checked patterns as well as multi-colored ones. From the types of cookies as well as the paper bag, I could infer that they were probably not brought from a shop.(!)
“Ah, are these all hand-made by you?”
I saw Yuigahama’s eyes sparkling with anticipation. Yukinoshita’s skills in cooking was undisputed. Including the cooking event just a few days ago, she has already demonstrated her cooking prowess several times. Each time, Yuigahama would have a great feast. Hence, there was nothing surprising there. Although this should have been the case, but upon hearing Yuigahama’s casual comment, she seemed to not know how to answer her.
“……Eh, yes. I made a bit last night.”
Then, she lowered her head slightly, and then she played about with the edge of the plate with her fingers, and took a small breath. Then, she sneaked a glance in my direction.(!) With her gaze downwards, her head and arms were also not moving. From the gap in her bangs, I could tell that she was hesitant to look at me directly and was now regarding me with some restraint. Her actions would cause anyone to be discomposed. Yukinoshita’s mouth opened slightly before closing tightly again, as though she was having trouble deciding whether or not she should say it. I noticed those cherubic lips of her more than ever and instantly averted my gaze. Then, the entire clubroom lapsed into silence.
“I see…… I did try to put in some more effort since that time, but it’s still not as good.”
Yuigahama seemed to dislike the silence that was caused in the previous instant, and tried to smooth things over with a laugh. She fiddled about with the bun of hair on her head as she shook her head.
“My house’s oven range seems to have spoiled. It keeps making those weird noises and won’t bake anything at all.”
“That’s probably because it is just a microwave oven.”
Saying that, I sighed. I was probably relieved by her usual display of stupidity. Yukinoshita too, was covering her mouth with her hand, trying to hide her laughter. Then, she placed her school bag on her knee and took out yet another small paper bag. She had probably decided to give this bag to Yuigahama. The bag was decorated with a cute pink ribbon and had cat paw prints on it.
“If you would be so kind as to accept this.”
“Is it really okay!? Oh, oh! Thanks!”
“The things inside are more or less the same.”
Yukinoshita added in a line of apology to Yuigahama, who had received the bag with great joy.
“Uun, I am really happy! Yukinon’s snacks are super tasty.”
Yuigahama hugged the paper bag tightly to her chest. Then she held it in her hand and looked at it gently. Blinking her eyes several times, she looked at Yukinoshita.
“Eh…… there’s only my portion?”(!)
I understood the meaning behind that question and instinctively looked away.(!) I tried to continue reading the paperback in my hand without shifting my head back, but found that it was impossible. Why did I have to look away?(!) I noticed the ‘Ding’ sound that the bowl made, echoing throughout my ear. Even if I didn’t look at it with my eyes, I couldn’t block out the noises that were coming from inside me.(!) What I could do was to try and bury them with my thoughts.(!) Willfully trying to understand, willful self-awareness, willful expectations. Whether or not she had prepared some for me, it was strange to try and derive some meaning out of it.(!) This club has only three people. Even if I was given it, it would be just an obvious consideration on her part.(!) When you try to give such stuff deeper thought, to try and decipher some sort of meaning behind it, then you were already being overly self-conscious.(!) Thinking about this sort of thing was disgusting. To frantically tell yourself that whilst not acting on it was repulsive as well. These sort of repulsive and disgusting things were definitely wrong. Although I was determined to bury such thoughts in my head(!), my restless feelings would not calm down. I pretended to comb back my hair and my restless eyes looked about the surroundings. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Yuigahama’s mouth stiffening. Her white and thin throat moved all of a sudden.
“What about Hikki’s?”(!)
There was no need to help me ask.(!) No, it’s not like I really wanted it.(!) I am being serious.(!) However, I did not say that out loud.
Yuigahama’s voice and eyes, were looking out for others like always.(!) She posed the question ever so timidly, but even so, I could see her left hand that was originally on her knew, grasping the hem of her skirt tightly. Seeing her like that, the words that I wanted to say stuck in my throat.
“Ah, no, I don’t really……”
I clumsily stuttered those words out. The mood was growing heavy, and then came the sound of Yukinoshita’s sigh. Yukinoshita gripped the bag that was on her knees tightly, and then placed it under her arms before silently pushing her chair aside and standing up. Leaning herself against the long table, she stretched out her hand and pushed the plate of cookies in front of me.
“If you would.”
I tried to give a reply but her eyes did not meet mine, and was constantly looking towards the side. The side of her face was illuminated by the evening sun. Perhaps it was due to the cloudy weather, but the evening sun today seemed to be a deeper shade of red than usual, and the whole clubroom was dyed in red. Her eyes and neck were dyed red, her lips trembling slightly in embarrassment and those long eyelashes kept flickering as she blinked. I hesitated to look at her directly and hence, I closed my paperback harshly instead, and reached out for the cookies.
“……This is delicious.”
“I know right!”
Yuigahama leaned forward to reply me after she heard my non-committal murmur. Then, she took a cookie herself, bit down on it and placed her hands on her cheeks in joy.
“……Is, is that so. I made it like how I had always done so.”
Watching our response, the tension seemed to ease from her shoulders as she answered and then, she finally returned to her seat. The cookies were placed at the center of the table, the correct place where it should be.(!) Steam rose from the teapot and teacups. We talked about our thoughts regarding today’s red tea and snacks, sometimes lapsing into silence, where some of us would be either playing with our mobile phones or reading a book. Then, we would once again break into conversation and the sound of laughter would fill the clubroom from time to time.
>Once they step outside, Yukino wants to give Hachiman chocolates, however she has trouble bringing it up. Yui notices this and wants to leave to give them some privacy, but since all of these feelings are new to Yukino and because she has lost her self-confidence, Yukino needs Yui to be there to help her out. The three of them are at a crossroads of not knowing what to do about this situation.
“Un. See you tomorrow.”
Yuigahama waved her small hands in front of her chest. I returned her gesture with a nod and was about to straddle up to my bike. At this time, ever so faintly, I heard a voice mixed with a sigh.
Turning my head back, I guess that Yukinoshita had wanted to call out to me but stopped midway. She had taken half a step forward. My eyes were asking her what’s the matter, but her demeanor did not change. She seemed to have something to say but her lips did not move. She stood there, stock still, both her hands clutching tightly the opening of the bag, which hung from her left shoulder. Seeing her trembling, uneasy gaze, I did not thoughtlessly ask her what the matter is but stood there motionlessly, waiting for her to speak.(!) This silent ‘war ‘ continued on for some time and then the sound of the gravel and sand could be heard.
“Ah, eh, I think I should just go on ahead?”
Although Yuigahama said all this with a troubled smile, she had only taken a step back. She played with the bun of hair with her gloved hand and looked at Yukinoshita, observing her reaction. Yukinoshita seemed to be unwilling to see her making that face and shook her head slightly, then gazed intently at Yuigahama imploringly. Seeing that, Yuigahama lowered her head in that instant, but quickly looked up, looked at her gently and asked once more.
“Eh…… What should we do?”(!)
The voice contained no trace of bewilderment, just a kind voice seeking confirmation.
The words that she was about to say vanished into the distance, just like the blowing wind. Unable to find the right words, she blushed and had a troubled expression on her face as she lowered her gaze and stared at her feet. Maybe it was due to her using too much force, but her shoulders were twitching, and she was clutching her bag even tighter than before.
>Haruno shows up, she’s here to pick Yukino up so they can go home together on Yukimom’s orders. Yukino stayed out too late and she has changed her career path. Yukimom is either worried about her daughter or at the very least she feels like Yukino is straying away from what Yukimom wants her to be.
We waited for her to continue her sentence, not moving at all. No one was making a sound, but soon, a hard sound could be heard. Ka-to. I had a hunch that this was the sound of heels striking the asphalt. The sound grew louder with each step, making me think that it was the sound of my heartbeat. Perhaps that this was some sort of illusionary sound that reached only my ears. I even thought that it was the physical manifestation of the unease that had always been strongly rooted inside of me. But this didn’t seem like a sound that was heard only by me. Yuigahama looked in the direction of the approaching footsteps. Then she let out a cry of surprise.
Soon, the footsteps stopped abruptly. We followed Yuigahama’s gaze and what we saw opened our eyes wide.
“Yukino-chan, I am here to fetch you.”(!)
Seeing her, Yukinoshita uttered those words involuntarily. Yukinoshita Haruno’s heeled boots sounded out once more as she walked to our front. She put her hands into her coat pockets, and had an intrepid smile on her face. She tilted her head to the side, as though looking at Yukinoshita.
“I didn’t know anything that would warrant you coming down to fetch me.”(!)
“It’s what our mom wanted, that you and I should live together temporarily.(!) Ah, there’s a spare room in your apartment, right? It won’t be a problem if I arrange for the luggage to be delivered tomorrow right? If its morning I can still take care of it, but I will be going out in the afternoon, so can I leave that to you?”(!)
Haruno-san unleashed a volley of questions so as to prevent me and Yuigahama from interrupting.(!) If she seized the initiative just like that, then it would be impossible for us outsiders, to say anything at all.(!) Above all else, although the tone of Haruno-san’s voice sounded like she felt she was being a bother, it felt way too natural. As though this was something that had been decided long ago.(!) Her demeanor felt like she would not listen to any form of objections.(!)
“Wa, wait. Why this all of a sudden……”(!)
Yukinoshita said it with a mix of disapproval and bewilderment. To that, Haruno-san’s shoulder shook as laughed loudly. Then, she leaned forward a little, and looked at Yukinoshita as she replied.
“You should know, don’t you? Or at least, have an idea.”(!)
Hearing her question, Yukinoshita’s shoulders jumped in surprise.
“……This, is something that I will do myself. It has nothing to do with you, Nee-san.”(!)
Yukinoshita was definitely glaring at Haruno-san now, as she replied in a sharp voice that clearly stated her rejection of that proposal. The thing that Yukinoshita ought to do herself.(!) I fear that that was referring to the matter that she and her mom had discussed a few days ago.(!) That time, they had probably made some sort of promise, that Yukinoshita would give the answer to her question herself.(!) But still, even so, Yukinoshita Haruno was right here before us.(!) Was it because her mother had no longer wanted to wait for her daughter ‘s answer or was this just an act of simple concern for her returning home late at night?(!) I wasn’t sure. Probably only Haruno-san understood her mother ‘s thoughts.(!)
>Yukino tells Haruno that she will solve it herself. Haruno confronts Yukino and asks her if she even has a self. Yukino has always followed in Haruno’s footsteps, has Yukino ever made any decisions for herself? Has Yukino ever gone after the things she wants for herself? Hachiman interrupts the conversation, he doesn’t want to be confronted with the one thing he has been trying to avoid the entire volume. Yui tries sticking up for Yukino. Haruno says she and Yukino will continue this conversation once she returns home. The continuation to this conversation takes place in Volume 12.
Haruno-san listened to Yukinoshita’s words quietly. The smile that had been present earlier was gone. She narrowed her eyes at Yukinoshita, her sharp gaze piercing her, as though trying to catch hold of her, not letting her escape. She continued to look at Yukinoshita with that cold stare; All of Yukinoshita’s actions and expressions were reflected in her eyes. It even seemed like that gaze had seen through all of Yukinoshita’s thoughts. Soon, her mouth opened slightly.
“Does Yukino-chan even have a ‘self’?”(!)
These words by Haruno-san threw Yukinoshita into disarray. Just as she was about to ask for the meaning of that question, Haruno-san cut her off preemptively by continuing to speak.
“You have always been following in my footsteps, can you really call that ‘your own thoughts’?”(!) Although there was now a thin smile on her face, Haruno-san’s voice was far colder than usual, and her frozen gaze pierced through Yukinoshita. Yukinoshita did not make any noise in objection or produce any words of rejection.(!) She looked at Haruno-san, completely dumbfounded. Seeing her in this state, Haruno-san shrugged her shoulders lightly and sighed in amazement.
“Yukino-chan has always been allowed to do as she pleased, but she has yet to decide anything for herself.”(!)
Her voice was gentle, yet there was pity in it as well.(!) Then, her gaze of pity shifted away from Yukinoshita. She directed her gaze now at Yuigahama, who was beside Yukinoshita, and then to me, who was standing opposite them. When our eyes met, she chuckled unintentionally.
“……You have no idea of what you should do even at this juncture, don’t you?”(!)
This question, I had no idea who it was directed at.(!) Not only Yukinoshita, but even I was rooted to the spot.(!) I had wanted to stop Haruno-san from continuing on with her verbal assault(!), but my voice seemed to be stuck in my throat, unable to come out. What could be the right thing to do now?(!) To that, I had no idea.
“What does Yukino-chan want to do?”(!)
“If you two are going to quarrel, could you do it somewhere else?”(!)
I spoke at last, so as to prevent Haruno-san from questioning further. That was because she was definitely going to say that one conclusive line.(!) One that would thrust the truth in our faces.(!) Hence, I could not allow her to continue.(!) Not for Yukinoshita’s sake, but for mine.(!) Haruno-san seemed like she had her fun taken away from her and looked at me with a bored expression. Her eyes were full of scorn, as though asking if these were the only words that I was capable of.
“A quarrel? I hardly think that this qualifies as one. We had never actually argued before.”(!)
“Even if that is true, this is not the place to say such things.”
With that, we stared at each other coldly. I used every ounce of my willpower to continue staring at her, trying my best not to avert my gaze.
“Th, that…… we are giving it some proper thought. Yukinoshita too, and me as well.”
Yuigahama intervened, trying to stick up for us.(!) She stood up right next to Yukinoshita and spoke those words strongly. Yet, under Haruno-san’s stare, her voice gradually grew weaker.(!) At the very end, her entire head was facing the ground. Haruno-san looked at her gently with a pitiful gaze and told her.
“…… I see. Then, I would like to hear it when you come back.(!) You have only place that you can go back to anyway.”
With the addition of this line, she turned around and left. The sound of her heels grew increasingly distant, and I could feel the tension in my body slipping away.
>Yui sees that Yukino is in trouble and she invites them over to her place.
>We find out that, unlike Yukino, Yui has an incredibly normal home situation and a healthy relationship with her parents.
>Yui apologizes for her mother’s intrusion. Yui says that her mother is excited because Yukino is there, but it’s actually because Hachiman is there, Yukino is merely an afterthought. Yukino says she’s envious of the relationship Yui has with her mother, because Yukino doesn’t have that type of relationship with her own family. Yukino feels like she’s intruding and says she’ll leave. Yui says Yukino can stay for the night, to at least avoid Haruno for today. Yukino looks at Hachiman for his approval. Hachiman tells her what to say to Haruno, Yukino calls Haruno and repeats Hachiman word for word. Yui notices this. So does Haruno. Haruno asks if she can speak with Hachiman, she tells him how nice he is for allowing Yukino to rely on him so much.
To the embarrassed Yuigahama, Yukinoshita shook her head lightly and told her she needn’t worry. Then, she gave a helpless smile.
“Your relationship with your mother is really good. …..I am a little envious of it.”(!)
There was a tinge of regret and loneliness on her expression.(!) With a mother and a sister like that, it would be difficult for anyone, not just Yukinoshita, to get along with them. Yuigahama and I thought of this and we were unable to say anything.
“Sorry, I must have said something weird…… I should be going back now.”(!)
Yukinoshita prepared to stand up, but was forced back down by Yuigahama. As she returned to her original seat, she spoke cheerfully as she clapped her hands.
“Why not stay the night here? I often have sleepover at other houses. ……There are times whereby it’s not too convenient to go back home, right?”(!)
Caught off guard by her words, Yukinoshita seemed puzzled, and hesitated for a bit. Her gaze shifted about restlessly from her troubles, and in the end, looked towards my direction.(!) No, don’t look at me, it’s not like I can help you or anything……(!) However, taking into account the exchange with Haruno-san just now, in this current situation, if Yukinoshita were to go home, it would only lead to the same result as just now.(!) From Yuigahama’s tone I could tell, that she was thinking about this as well. As I thought this, I looked at Yuigahama, and she nodded her head in response in a way that only I could see. Well, if it was difficult to face someone, then don’t. Backing off was a also one of the effective ways in which one could smooth things over. But if a deadline was not set in which the people involved would face each other for a final conclusion(!), then it would just be running away from the problem.(!) However, I could hardly say that this was a bad idea in delaying the time.
“……Well, I would say that the both are of you have yet to calm down. So why not take tonight to think things over.(!) But you would still have to make a call.”
“Un, this sounds like a good idea.”
Yuigahama agreed with me, after which Yukinoshita hugged her knees, and thought for a short while before nodding her head slightly to show her agreement.
“……What you say makes sense.”(!)
She retrieved her mobile phone from her bag and placed her call. She was probably calling Harunosan. After a little bit of waiting, the call got through. Yukinoshita raised her head and began to speak.
“……Hello. I think that both of us have yet to calm down, so I’ll take tonight to think things over. I am just informing you.”(!)
Yukinoshita completed her message and the other side seemed to have no response. The room was drowning in silence. I could only hear Yukinoshita’s breathing, as well as a small voice saying “Did she just……”(!)
I looked towards the source of that voice, and saw Yuigahama looking back and forth between me and Yukinoshita in surprise.(!) Just as I wanted to ask her what the matter is, I heard a bored laughter at the other end.(!)
“Oh, I understand. Hikki-kun is there with you now right? Pass him the phone.”(!)
In this quiet room, her provocative voice reached my ears all the way from the phone. Met with Haruno-san’s request, Yukinoshita seemed hesitant for that instant. But upon hearing the cold “Hurry up” urging her on, she sighed lightly, and passed the phone to me.
“…… My sister wants to speak with you.”
I took the phone silently from her and placed it close to my ear, and spoke slowly.
“……Hikigaya-kun, you are really kind.”(!)
Her chuckle and scornful voice was both lovely and charming. I felt as though like I had been possessed by a goblin. I was pretty sure that the smile on the other side of the phone, had a very twisted beauty to it. I could visualize that expression clearly in my mind. That expression was probably similar to hers, and yet, totally different at the same time. I cleared my throat and looked at Yukinoshita, who didn’t seem to have overheard anything. Yukinoshita was hugging her chest and standing by the window. Her side profile faced the windows and looked outside the window to avoid my gaze.(!) The streetlights and the red lights from the far away skyscrapers, was insufficient to chase away the descending darkness. From the glass, one could only see a black mirror. The pair of eyes that were reflected in them, were ever so clear, and yet ever so empty.(!)
>Since the series is nearing its conclusion, Watari decides to bring back Sable, the dog that played a part in the car accident. Watari is bringing back elements that were introduced in the beginning of the series, because in Volumes 13-14, Yukino is going to reveal the truth about the Service Club. Another thing to take from this interaction is that Yui doesn’t know that Yukino is afraid of dogs. Hachiman naturally does know.
I took my schoolbag and stood up at the same time as Yuigahama. One tempo later, Yukinoshita stood up as well. Seems like they were going to send me off.
“No, there’s no need to.”
“It feel strange to bid farewell here.”
Saying that, Yuigahama led the way by opening the room door. Then, at this instant, a fur ball sprang towards us at high speed from the corridor. It was Yuigahama’s dog, Sable.(!) Then, Sable collided with my body.
Yuigahama lectured it and picked it up from beside my feet, where it was exposing it stomach to me, and hugged it. Yukinoshita saw Sable and quickly stopped walking.(!) Oops, this girl really can’t handle dogs. On the way to the entrance of her house, Yukinoshita followed behind Yuigahama, constantly keeping a distance of 3 steps away, trying her hardest not to have any interactions with Sable.(!) On the other hand, Sable kept was in high spirits, and kept barking restlessly in Yuigahama’s arms.
Un…. Was this all right? I think I should probably give a word of advice to Yuigahama.(!) I wore my shoes, and as I proceeded to leave, said to Yuigahama.
“Hey, Yuigahama. If Yukinoshita is going to stay over then Sable will have to…….”(!)
Yukinoshita spoke to me in stern manner to block out my words. Her lips pouted, and she crossed her arms in front of her chest as she glared at me. I see, so you didn’t want me to say that you were afraid of dogs.(!) Well, the reason was probably she couldn’t bring herself to say that she was afraid of something that her friend greatly loved.(!) She would probably feel sorry if she had to let Yuigahama worry about her on top of the trouble she had already caused by staying the night. If that’s so, then I will respect her wishes. However, it was all too common that one could not just take back his words after one had spoken them. Yuigahama asked in a puzzled tone.
“Sable? What about it?”
Facing such a question, I didn’t really have any good replies.
“Un. Ah …… Sable might be a little bit lonely, but learning how to bear with will be good training for him. Especially so for him.”
“Un. He will be fine!”
Although the words were hastily made up on the spot(!), Yuigahama nodded her vigorously. Oh, you actually believe in that ‘training’…… I felt that it didn’t really listen to Yuigahama at all…… As I thought that, Yuigahama dropped her shoulders and spoke.
“……Because here at home, Sable always go around bugging Mama.”
“Oh, so that’s how it is……”