“What do you mean? What do you mean? What do you mean?!”
Yui demanded of Chihiro in a spitting rage after the athletics festival.
“I said that I used to seriously like you, it’s past tense, it happened in the past. We’ve known each other for so long anyway, so it’s not weird for such a phase to have happened, is it?”
“Urgh… You actually told me that you’ve liked me before to distract me… But it wasn’t a lie…”
Yui clutched her head in distress and shook it fiercely, as if she were enduring a struggle within her heart.
“Urggh! I looost! How am I supposed to explain this to everyone?”
Actually, the phase in which he had liked her [before] was when he had met Yui, all the way to now.
Incidentally, since Yui was very active during the athletics festival, rumor was that nobody blamed her at all.
After their victory, Class 1-B seemed unable to calm down.
“Ahh, this is fantastic! This is utterly fantastic!”
“I’m so glad we trained seriously… You reap what you sow!”
“I think I’m actually moved~.”
“A lot of it came from the boys winning botaoshi!”
“No, that honor should go to the girls for winning the relay race! That event gave us a ton of points!” Everyone worked together for the group competition, and they had won. After this dramatic conclusion, the boys and girls in the class mixed together, intently discussing the athletics festival that day.
“But the most important part! Uwa-kun's part!”
The girl named Higashino shouted, pointing at Chihiro.
“Good going, Uwa!”
“Yeah, Athletics Festival Leader!”
“Child of the Athletics Festival!”
“No, I didn’t do much… and what does ‘Child of the Athletics Festival’ mean? What kind of character are you guys turning me into?”
Chihiro’s sudden talk about working hard before the athletics festival had led his classmates to believe he held some sort of special sentiment towards it.
“Let’s just call Uwa-kun ‘Athletics Festival’ from now on!”
“Don’t just make decisions on your own! At least call me something that fits me…”
“Give me an example, what kind of characteristic can we use as your nickname, Uwa-kun?”
“... For example… I think I was unusually passionate…”
“Ah, so Uwa-kun wants to become that kind of person? Heh! Didn’t expect that.”
“Uwa, I’m very sorry to inform you, but there’s something called staying within your boundaries…”
“Don’t advise me all seriously like that! It’s my freedom to admire whatever I want! N-No, I don’t admire anyone in that way!”
“Chihiro-kun’s a tsundere. Like, 80% tsun, and 20% dere.”
“Shut it, Enjouji. When did you become so familiar with the meaning of tsundere that you can even give examples?”
Afterwards, the members of Class 1-B held a bowling tournament as the celebratory banquet of the athletics festival.
The next morning, the breakfast table was stacked with a simple salad and toast. Chihiro, his father, and his younger brother sat at the table; his mother was in the kitchen preparing bentos for both boys.
Chihiro spread butter on his toast and bit into it.
The three of them didn’t talk.
His father sipped his coffee and read the newspaper. He didn’t know whether something good had happened to his brother or if he had become obsessed with some song; he would occasionally hum while he ate.
Only the sound of the television echoed emptily.
His father stood, leaving the table to brush up his appearance.
His brother’s untouched tomatoes sat on his plate. His mother knew that he wouldn’t eat them, but kept adding them into his brother’s salad anyway.
It was a typical morning that had already repeated itself several times, tens of times, hundreds of times.
Today, Chihiro was determined to try and change this morning a little bit.
“Are you humming Yuratei’s new song?”
“Huh? You know that band, bro? So you listen to this kind of niche music too. Their new song is great, by the way! But I’m broke right now! I can’t buy their CD~. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to the MV on their official website…”
“I have the CD, want to borrow it?”
“Eh… You have the CD? When did you become interested in this type of music, bro? I’ve always thought that you’d pay attention to that! Lend it to me! Lend it to me!”
“Sure, but you need to finish your tomatoes first.”
“Huh… tomatoes? Hey, what’s with that condition! Why… I-I got it! I’ll eat it! I’ll eat it, okay?!”
His brother threw all of the tomatoes into his mouth and began to chew.
“Ugu… Oof… Mm, finished! Lend it to me right after school today!”
With that, his brother dashed towards the bathroom.
His plate was clean, leaving nothing behind.
“Thank you, Chihiro.” His mother said.
Only the noise of the television echoed emptily — Chihiro had always thought this, but if he listened carefully, he would discover that the morning of the Uwa household still resonated with the warm, gentle sounds of his mother preparing food.
As long as he tried to change, the world would immediately change.
As long as he changed his perspective on things, the world would immediately change with it.
The world will always maintain its original form, his own world within it, and he could rely on himself to change.
After finishing his preparations, Chihiro left home.
It was the first school day after the athletics festival. What exactly would the class’s mood be like? If the mood back then had only been temporary overexcitement, the class would regain its original mood today, and what should he do then? No, that would be quite interesting too.
What would he want to do then?
He already knew that his classmates could be serious when the circumstances called for it, so could he maintain the current situation? Ahh, indeed, that would work. It would be a real headache to be that passionate all year; it didn’t fit his personality at all.
The best case scenario would be if they become passionate only during events… Chihiro thought so, but things would certainly not go as well as he hoped.
There was no way he could create a world that went as he hoped.
Because everyone had their own ideal world.
Everyone’s ideals were different: they would interfere with each other, conflict with each other, and finally combine, into a massive world.
Then, how should he view that world — this world?
Chihiro looked up into the sky.
The blue sky unfolded as far as the eye could see.
Every time he saw this sky, he would remember.
—Remember how those people had changed his world.
Could he change someone’s world? — thought Yaegashi Taichi.
After the end of the phenomenon, <Heartseed> making everyone see imposters and selecting Chihiro to become the inciter, Chihiro and Enjouji came to thank Taichi, saying “It’s thanks to you senpais that you could change our world”.
Changing someone’s world was no easy task, and it wasn’t a task one could do just by “doing” it, but during <Heartseed>’s phenomenon, Chihiro and the others certainly seemed that way. During this time, had he done anything himself?
When this time had first begun, Taichi didn’t even notice that the phenomenon had started. Although Chihiro had claimed “I didn’t think I could win,” he was being much too modest, and the actual situation was a lot more dangerous.
Imposters began to appear. What a frightening world.
He didn’t know what would become of it if they had missed even one piece of the puzzle. He seemed to lose his memories in the middle of everything; just how much had Inaba and the others worried about him?
But everyone worked together to overcome this crisis.
<Heartseed>’s new method was no longer random this time. However, even if Chihiro were consciously instigating incidents, to Taichi, it was no different from being random. In this sense alone, it could be said that he had definitely acted according to certain rules.
But did <Heartseed>’s change of method hold some sort of important meaning?
Did this mean that a new stage was going to begin?
Or did it signify that it was going to end soon?
No matter what, they had successfully protected their world this time. For now, just this was enough.
In addition, Chihiro and Enjouji had finally, in the truest sense, become members of the Cultural Research Club.
They had overcome the hurdle that is <Heartseed>, and were willing to stay in the club. Taichi kept trying to convince them otherwise, but neither of them was swayed.
Because there were important things — both of them looked very strong and dependable while saying so.
Although Chihiro was still Chihiro, he felt much more open than he had been before.
Although Enjouji was still Enjouji, she felt much more assertive than she had been before.
Even though they hadn’t changed much superficially, both had changed in many ways. If they had changed for the better, and if he had helped with that, then that was excellent.
How had he — How had he and the others changed those two?
In the end, Taichi still couldn’t figure it out.
Taichi could only say one thing.
As long as he treasured every day and lived with all his might, maybe he could occasionally change someone’s world — just that.
Taichi and Yui didn’t lose their memories.
She was so, so, so so so so glad.
If their memories had been lost, if their memories of everyone had been lost… Damn, she didn’t even want to think about it.
She didn’t know how many nights she had tossed and turned over this, but luckily she’d scraped by just before having a meltdown. Before her glasslike theatrics of feigned strength could shatter, they had regained their memories, and no one needed to worry about her.
She fervently believed that it was everything she had.
It was everything, and it was her.
But luckily, after this incident, she couldn’t help but think about that kind of future.
She was downright unable to imagine, and did not want to imagine, that kind of world. But that world might loom one day. Then, she would— She was at a complete loss for what to expect. She was scared. She was terrified. She could only fear it, fear it more than anything.
If Yaegashi Taichi were to disappear, what would she become?
She — Inaba Himeko, tried to imagine such a future, and began to tremble all alone.
Kokoro Connect: Nise Random - End