Third Arc: If

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Qualia the Purple

Arc 3: If

Just when I started to think it was pretty warm, the rain began to fall. And just when I thought the cold, windy days would continue, it became warm again. This weather pattern was known in Japanese as "sankan shion," which referred to alternating periods of cold and warm days. It was commonly said to be a sign that spring was near.

When I thought about that, about these days which were warm, then cold, then warm, then cold, it almost made me picture spring as a hesitant, timid child who was walking nervously towards us. It was a fun image to have in my head.

We soon found ourselves going into March, which was the prime time for viewing the nearby plum blossoms.

It would be rather out of character for me to be into something as girly as flower watching, but I must admit that, no matter how out of character it was, sitting on Yukari's porch and watching the plum blossoms dance in a distant mist of pink filled me with a sense of peace.

It was nighttime.

The air was damp with moisture and the sky was moonless.

"Ah, Gaku-chan. Here you are."

Yukari walked up behind me and sat herself down next to me.

"Yeah... the flowers are really pretty at night, aren't they? They're like little lights in the distance."

I had watched the flowers at noon, in the evening, and now when the sun had set, but I had to admit that the scene was the most breathtaking at night.

"... Yes, but you know they light up the plum trees over there at night, right?"

"................... Ah.................. I see. So, where's Tenjou and Alice?"

"At the back. Kasoku-kun came to deliver some sake, and they're teasing him now. Why do you think Ten-chan likes teasing Kasoku-kun so much? Even Alice-chan is starting to join in... Kasoku-kun is a really really good person, you know? He's really kind, and dependable..."

"............... Come on, I'm sure Kasoku can handle himself. I mean, he has that amazing drill, right?"

"Uuu... And it's not like Gaku-chan ever tries to help Kasoku-kun out at all either. Maybe I shouldn't have told you about his drill? Maybe everyone is just jealous of his drill? Well, it really is romantic and super cool though..."

"Yeah, maybe. Don't worry, I'll be sure to let Tenjou and Alice know everything you said later."

"... Wha?"

In the end, Yukari never transferred away.

After spring, we would all go into our third year of junior high together.

Right now, my biggest worry was whether or not Yukari and I would get placed in the same class again for the new school year.

I had vague, fuzzy memories of being put in the same class as Yukari in the other worlds (by the way, I had Yukari seal the call function on my left hand, and because of that my "dream" really just seemed like a dream now... I also considered asking Yukari to remove the cell phone from my hand entirely, but I ended up not making that request. This left hand was a connection between Yukari and all those other me's, after all), but that didn't mean I could just let my guard down.

After all, there was now an irregularity in this world.

"But isn't it great?! Alice-chan is going to be a third-year with us!"

"Yeah."

Alice had decided to continue her study abroad with us even into spring.

Originally, she had planned to return to Jaunt right after the second school year ended, but she clearly had some kind of change of heart and ended up extending her stay in Japan.

Yukari was really happy when Alice told her about this, and I... well, I admit I was glad as well.

Alice still called me a commoner and was still in the midst of inspecting the goods and figuring out whether I was worthy of being her true friend (I think things were going pretty well between us though).

Also, maybe it was because they both had similar personality types (i.e. people who just can't properly express their true feelings), but Alice and Nanami seemed to hit it off pretty well with each other. And now, through that relationship, Nanami was also slowly getting used to having a normal relationship with Yukari again. Of course, Yukari was also ecstatic about that.

Spring would be here soon.

It would be the first season I would be ringing in together with not only Yukari, but with Nanami and Alice as well.

I had a feeling that this upcoming year would be even more exciting than the last.

Ah, and wouldn't it be nice if we could all experience that year from within the same classroom...

In the distance, the lit up plum blossoms floated in the night air, making me feel as if I was being treated to an ethereal glimpse into the Garden of Eden. I was captivated.

Suddenly, I felt Yukari's gaze on me.

"...... What's up?"

"............. Ah, it's nothing."

Yukari shook her head and her gaze fell to all the plastic models that decorated various places around her porch. She took one of the models into her hands.

Following her actions, I also found myself looking at that plastic model.

Now that I think about it, back during that incident all these plastic models had been moving, right?

I vaguely remember them protecting Yukari and fighting for her, and acting like they were worried about me... I had asked Yukari about it before, but she just told me it must've been my imagination. Still, I'm pretty sure I hadn't just been seeing things back then...

"... Hey, Gaku-chan."

"Hm?"

Yukari didn't look at me, keeping her eyes on the robot in her hands.

"...... Thanks, Gaku-chan."

"...... Umm, for what?"

"Just... for lots of things..."

After she said that, Yukari smiled.


And planted a soft kiss on the robot she was holding in her hands.


And seeing that... for some reason, I suddenly felt blood rush to my cheeks.

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