I Know That After School, The Saint More Than Just Noble - Chapter 6
- I Know That After School, The Saint More Than Just Noble
- Chapter 6 - Meeting With The Distressed Junior
After parting with Seira at the usual fork in the road, Yamato returned the way he came.
When he entered the designated cafe in front of the station, Tsubaki was already seated at a table for two and called out, “Kuraki-san, this way.”
“Sorry for the wait.”
“No, thank you for coming.”
“I was still in the area.”
“Yes, I’m sorry for calling you out in secret.”
She was well-mannered and courteous. She acted the same as she had been when Yamato had first met her.
In other words, she was now putting on a front.
“So what did you call me out for?”
Yamato asked cautiously.
Tsubaki, perhaps sensing his wariness, said with a wry smile.
“Well, well, don’t be in such a hurry. Here, why don’t you have something to drink? I’ll pay for it, and you can order anything you like.”
“No, I’ll pay for it myself. I just got paid from my part-time job.”
Yamato ordered a small size iced cafe au lait to show that he did not intend to stay too long, regardless of Tsubaki’s pouting.
Within a few minutes, the iced café au lait arrived, and Yamato drank vigorously on the straw before turning to face Tsubaki.
“So, I think it’s time for you to get down to business.”
“You seem to be very wary of me. Did I do something to cause that?”
“No, you haven’t. But I have a feeling that you will soon.”
“Haaa, I see.”
Tsubaki’s expression suddenly became blank, as if she thought it was pointless to try to make things better.
“—I’m going to get straight to the point: I want you to convince Seira-senpai to attend the Obon meeting.”
The Obon meeting would be the Shirase family gathering that had been mentioned at the aquarium.
In order for Seira to attend, Tsubaki wanted Yamato to convince her—
“Let me confirm one thing first.”
“What do you want to confirm?”
“Did Shirase ever say she wouldn’t attend?”
Yamato asked, and Tsubaki quickly looked away.
“No, I did not hear from her that she would not be attending. When I asked her about it, she gave me a muddled answer, ‘What to do about it’.”
“That means you’re not sure, right?”
“…In addition to the Shirase family, other people with close ties to the Shirase family are invited to the Obon meeting. Showing up means… haaa. Anyway, Seira-senpai was absent last year as well. Presumably, she intends to do so again this year.”
“I see, so she didn’t go last year…”
From the way Tsubaki was describing it, the Obon meeting was probably larger than the Golden Week meeting.
And if she didn’t attend last year, it wouldn’t be surprising if she didn’t go this year. It was rather normal to think so.
“But why are you asking me? Why don’t you just convince her yourself?”
“I can’t persuade her. Compared to you, I don’t have much influence over Seira-senpai.”
Yamato was at a loss as to how to react to Tsubaki’s resolute but somewhat pained words.
Seeing Yamato like this, Tsubaki smiled gently and continued.
“But if it’s you — if it’s what Kuraki Yamato says, I’m sure Seira-senpai will listen to you. This is the conclusion I’ve reached after spending the past few days together.”
Yamato, confronted by Tsubaki’s confident words, answered while feeling overwhelmed.
“No, that’s buying too much into it. Shirase basically doesn’t bend once she decides on something, and that won’t change even if I say anything. In the end, I think she only does what she’s convinced herself to do.
“Do you really believe that?”
Tsubaki stared straight at Yamato and he stiffened like a frog encountering a snake.
“Yeah, I do.”
“If that’s the case, I feel pitiful for Seira-senpai. Her most important person who is the closest to her has mistaken her for an inflexible cyborg.
“I-I didn’t think of her that way! I think you are the one who underestimated Shirase.”
“Me underestimating Senpai? You’re wrong. Please take it back.”
“You take it back. Shirase is not pitiful. She may be inflexible, but don’t compare her to a cyborg!
I had expected a few more counterattacks, but Tsubaki fell silent unexpectedly quickly.
Or rather, Tsubaki was stunned with her mouth hanging open, and then, just when I thought she was stunned.
She suddenly burst out laughing loudly.
The surrounding customers glanced at them.
“Hey, hey, Kosaka-san! This is a café, there are other customers here, so don’t yell so loudly.”
“Hah, hah… sorry, I was distraught. I-I’m fine now.”
Apparently, she calmed down. The fact that Tsubaki stopped laughing also made the people around them look away.
“Did I say something so funny?”
Yamato asked, feeling drained, and Tsubaki shook her head.
“No. It’s just that the reason Kuraki-san got angry with me earlier was because of Seira-senpai. I was just thinking how earnest you are to ask for a retraction of my statement about Senpai.
“So you had a good laugh…”
“Yes, I’m sorry. And I also take back what I said earlier.”
Tsubaki wiped the tears from her eyes, and Yamato replied with a sigh.
“Then I, too, was out of line. I’m sorry.”
“Yes. So now we have no more conflicts.”
If it were possible, Yamato would have liked to see Tsubaki remain calm, but he had to answer her firmly.
Therefore, Yamato told her with a serious look on his face.
“I can’t persuade Shirase to do what you asked me to do. From what I’ve heard, she doesn’t want to attend the meeting. If that’s the case, I can’t force her.”
“By all means?”
“Yes, by all means.”
Hearing Yamato’s answer, Tsubaki turned her head down, looking dejected.
Yamato, unable to bear the sight of her dejectedness, asked.
“Generally speaking, I don’t understand why Kosaka-san would go to such lengths. Maybe Shirase’s parents are asking you to do this, but is it really necessary to be so obliging?”
“…I am sorry if I have given you the wrong impression. Seira’s parents were not involved in any of this.”
“But the other day—”
“Yes. When Senpai asked ‘did my parents send you?’ I said something like that.”
“Are you telling me that you lied?”
Tsubaki replied with a troubled look on her face.
“I might say that I was trying to look good, rather than lying. —I had heard from Reika-san, Senpai’s sister, that her parents wanted the Senpai to attend the meeting.”
Yamato did not expect Reika’s name to come up here. From what he has heard, Tsubaki seemed to have a reasonable friendship with her as well.
And it seemed to be true that Seira’s parents wanted her to attend the meeting, no matter what.
“Well, I guess it’s natural for parents to want their daughters to attend a gathering of their relatives.”
“But I don’t understand it any more. What’s your reason to go this far?”
If Seira’s parents were not laying the groundwork, that would mean that this time Tsubaki was trying to get Seira to attend the meeting by her own will.
Wanting to know the reason, Yamato waited for Tsubaki’s reply.
“…I understand. If it might change Kuraki-san’s mind, I’ll tell you.”
After taking a small breath, Tsubaki opened her mouth with a look of determination.
“—My true purpose is to help Seira-senpai return to her original state.”
Tsubaki’s face became stern as she said this.
“Her original state, you say?”
In this case, the “original state” she was referring to was probably the Seira in her middle school years.
Even if that were the case, what would be the benefit to Tsubaki? In order to ask that question, Yamato silently waited for her to finish the rest of the story.
“I’m actually in a slump right now. —Ah, I’m talking about ballet. So, in order to change my situation, I’m thinking of having my target rival come back to me.”
“In other words, you want Shirase to start ballet again?”
“Yes. If she does so, I am sure that I could recover, and if I am in perfect condition now, I should be as good as Seira-senpai.”
Tsubaki’s eyes were filled with a fighting spirit akin to determination as she said this.
Yamato now understood what Tsubaki was trying to say.
Seira was doing ballet because her father had told her to learn it. Therefore, in order for Seira to return to the world of ballet again, Tsubaki believed that she needed to return to her parents’ home and be under her father’s complete control, as she was in middle school.
So the real goal is for Seira to “return to her original state”.
“I see… No, I don’t know much about the world of ballet, but I get what you’re trying to say.”
“I see. I’m glad to hear that. Then—”
“Not yet. My answer is still the same. Because that is completely for Kosaka-san’s convenience. Shirase doesn’t want that, and there’s no merit to it.”
Bang! And at that moment, Tsubaki powerfully slammed the table and stood up vigorously.
Toward Yamato, who was unintentionally startled, Tsubaki said in a manner that he had never seen before.
“If it’s a merit, it’s there! You can say such a thing because you know nothing about the old Seira-senpai! She was a perfect genius, a lone genius who could not be surpassed by anyone else, a genius who had outstanding talent in all fields. She was a target for athletes and people of culture, and at the same time, she was a treasure, a rare existence! Now she has become just another ordinary person, just playing around. It would be rather beneficial if she could break away from that and return to that wonderful existence! She should go back to her former self!”
Not even trying to hide her anger and frustration, Tsubaki leaned forward on the table and pressed closer to Yamato.
Her face was now right in front of Yamato’s eyes, but Yamato could not understand what emotions were causing his own heart to pound.
Tsubaki took her seat, breathing hard, and with a cough
“…I’m sorry, I’m distraught again. I’m going to the bathroom.”
With that, she got up and left her seat.
Yamato, who had experienced a kind of emotional outburst, was in a state of shock.
It seemed that the people around him mistook it for a love affair, and the stares he was receiving stung him painfully.
After about five minutes of enduring, Tsubaki returned.
“Why don’t we leave for now?”
Yamato suggested out of awkwardness.
Tsubaki looked around and then agreed, “Yes, let’s do that.”
The location changed.
Yamato and Tsubaki were at a nearby park.
The sun was already setting and the area was gradually becoming dark. Perhaps because of this, there were no other people around.
“Let’s talk here.”
Sitting Tsubaki on a wooden bench, Yamato went to the vending machine.
After buying a sports drink for Tsubaki and an iced tea for himself, he returned to the bench.
“Here you go.”
“Thank you very much. I’ll pay for it—”
“No. As I said before, I just got paid. Besides, I’m older than you, so let me at least buy you a drink.”
Then Yamato suddenly thought of the man at his part-time job who had tried to hand him money for a meal and had called him an avec. Yamato wondered if he was in the mood to buy him a drink because he was older than Yamato, like he was now with Tsubaki.
“…Okay, I understand. Then, I’ll have some.”
After Tsubaki sipped her sports drink, Yamato opened his mouth.
“Then, well, how should I say it—sorry.”
Tsubaki’s eyes widened in surprise.
To the bewildered Tsubaki, Yamato continued.
“I think I spoke badly about Kosaka-san’s situation earlier, without even knowing your situation. I don’t think I can force Shirase to do something she doesn’t want to do, and I don’t think it would be good for her to go back to her old life. That is my honest feelings.”
“Because Shirase seemed to be in a lot of pain when she told me about her past.”
On the last day of the Golden Week, Seira looked very painful as she talked about her past at the rooftop amusement park.
Yamato believed that Seira must have chosen to part ways with her past self, taking all of these things into consideration.
However, no matter how much she said she had gotten over it, it did not mean that everything had never happened.
As proof of this, Seira did not avoid being involved with Tsubaki.
“I admire Shirase for trying to decide how to live on her own. I may not be strong enough, but I want to support her and be someone who can stand next to her. So I can’t deny Shirase the path she has decided to take.”
Perhaps because she realized that she could not achieve her goal, Tsubaki turned her head down, biting her lip as she struggled to hold back tears.
Yamato turned straight to her.
“But that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t cooperate with Kosaka-san.”
Yamato spoke softly to Tsubaki, who looked up slightly.
“At least Shirase isn’t trying to keep Kosaka-san away from me. If that’s the case, I’d like to think of a way to successfully solve Kosaka-san’s problem too. I’m sure that would make Shirase happy.”
“I don’t know much about ballet, of course, so I want you to tell me more. I want to think about how you can get out of this slump other than by beating Shirase.”
When Yamato told her this, Tsubaki’s eyes widened for a moment.
“…Seira-senpai, you’re right.”
“Umm, what do you mean…?”
“No, not talking to you. Don’t worry about it.”
Tsubaki smiled at him.
Yamato told her that he wanted to have a heart-to-heart talk with her, but it had already ended, and it made him wonder if she understood what he was trying to say.
However, Tsubaki seemed to have already changed her mind and began to talk.
“First of all, the reason for my slump is probably my sense of inferiority to Seira-senpai.”
“Inferiority? From what I’m hearing, it certainly sounds like that’s the problem.
“Yes, that’s right. Because for me, Seira-senpai… is an enemy.”
It was a dangerous word. That was what he had thought.
“So you hate Shirase, Kosaka-san?”
“No, not at all! I love her!”
Yamato was unexpectedly pressured by her voice.
But regardless, Tsubaki continued.
“But sometimes I feel like I hate her. After all, she has everything I have and everything I don’t.
“R-Really? Well, I guess it is inevitable to have such feelings.”
Shirase Reika, Seira’s older sister, said that geniuses are supposed to be lonely. It was very natural to feel jealousy and backbiting when faced with an existence that was superior to one’s self. Yamato was reminded once again of the meaning of this statement.
“But Kosaka-san is an amazing ballerina, too, right? I think that’s amazing enough for an ordinary person like me.”
Yamato thought to himself that his vocabulary was not good enough, but it seemed that Tsubaki understood what he was trying to say.
“Yes, it is true that I am an amazing ballerina.”
She instantly got into it.
“To get to the bottom of this story, I need to go back to when I was a little girl.”
“Yes, I’d like to hear it.”
It would be necessary to solve Tsubaki’s problem, and Yamato was simply interested in their past.
However, he felt a little guilty about asking her about it in Seira’s absence, but he had no choice.
Tsubaki then began to talk happily, as if she were bragging about herself.
“The Kosaka and Shirase families have always had a close relationship, and because of that I have been invited to many of their parties. That’s why I knew about Seira as far back as I can remember.”
“So you really have known each other for a long time, like what you call a childhood friend?”
“Yes, we are. So, by the time I entered the elementary section of the integrated school, I had heard that Seira-senpai, who was one year older than me, was achieving excellent results in various lessons. I was also learning various arts and crafts according to my parents’ policy, so even as a child, I had a competitive spirit, thinking that I couldn’t lose.”
Tsubaki’s competitive spirit apparently began at an early age. She shared this with Seira.
“But as soon as we actually competed in the same tournament, I realized that we were on different levels. I realized that she was a true genius, and I was just a mediocre talent who couldn’t win a prize.”
“So Shirase was already great from the time she was in the lower grades of elementary school.”
“Yes. The first thing to do is to make sure that you have a good idea of what you want to do.
“Yes. I was not so much frustrated as I admired her because she was so far ahead of our time in every field. And I had the chance to talk to her several times, and even when I did, she had a casual attitude and I thought she was cool, even though I was a kid.”
It seemed that Seira’s curt attitude toward others has been present since she was a child. Up to the point where she thinks it was cool, Tsubaki also seemed to have changed a little since the past.
From that moment on, Tsubaki must have recognized Seira as an enemy — a rival.
As if reminiscing about the past, Tsubaki continued with a faraway look in her eyes.
“I decided to do everything I could to win, and since ballet was the one thing I was best at, I decided to focus solely on it. I explained my reason to my parents, and as soon as I entered middle school, I was able to focus only on ballet, but I still couldn’t win even once against her.”
The topic of ballet was probably the most sensitive part. Therefore, Yamato silently waited for the rest of the story.
“As you know, I have a certain amount of skill when it comes to ballet. I have years and years of experience. I am unrivaled in my age group, and yet, I was always told by others that I was ‘the second-ranked Traviata’ of all time.”
When she mentioned that name, Tsubaki bit her teeth in frustration. It must have been a name she did not want to remember. Yamato could feel her humiliation.
“There are people who say terrible things, aren’t there?”
“Yes. I was so frustrated because of this that I almost broke down many times, but there was nothing left for me but ballet, and I couldn’t give up on it. Then one day—Senpai was gone.
The day she disappeared, must be the day Seira quit ballet.
It was also the time when Seira stepped forward to choose her own way of life.
“Did you not hate that at first?”
“At first, I was relieved. I thought, ‘she’s finally gone.’ But in the end, I was still chasing the shadow of my senpai, and I couldn’t believe that I could ever do anything as good as her performance. No matter how many competitions I won, how many scout offers I got, how famous I became, I could only think it was because she was not there.”
Tsubaki’s face was contorted in pain as she spoke, and she was holding back tears.
This was probably the very emotion that Tsubaki continued to carry and fight against. The weight of her expectations was immeasurable.
Tsubaki then laughed at herself and looked up at the sky.
“But, well, of course. I later learned that she had been scouted by a famous junior ballet company overseas, and that she had also continued to achieve excellent results in other fields in which I had quit. I guess we were living in different worlds.”
After finishing, Tsubaki covered her face with her hands.
“Uggh, I’m sorry, I did it again… I’m not even going to get anywhere by saying this…”
Tears spilled from the palms of her hands covering her face, and sobs of regret leaked out.
She has always wanted to complain that the world was unfair.
But now Yamato understood.
Those who have talent have their own suffering.
Yamato now knew this, and there was no way he could leave Tsubaki alone.
“You did your best.”
Yamato gently patted her head.
“Ugggnnn, ugh, ugggh…”
Tsubaki borrowed Yamato’s chest and cried into it.
Yamato stroked her head for the time being until she stopped crying.
After crying for a while, Tsubaki finally seemed to have regained her composure.
After a slight distance, she turned her face away in embarrassment.
“I’m sorry, I was distraught again…”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m the one who asked you to tell me.”
“Kuraki-san, you’re much more dependable than I thought you would be. You’re like a father figure, and you made me feel a little relieved.”
“O-Oh. Well, that’s uh…”
Yamato was feeling a little embarrassed, but he was feeling incredibly complicated inside when a girl only one year younger than him told him he was “like a father.”
However, he did not say that to Tsubaki now because it was not the right timing.
“I wonder if Seira-senpai was also attracted to this kind of thing.”
“No, as expected, I think I’d make a better father than Shirase’s father.”
“Please don’t get heated up by a strange rivalry… I didn’t mean it that way.”
For Yamato, the father who annoyed Seira was almost like an “enemy,” so to speak. Thanks to this, Tsubaki was a bit taken back.
Tsubaki immediately tightened her face and turned to face him.
“I myself know the truth. Even if Seira came back to the ballet world now, she would not be the one I wanted to fight with. Besides, it would be meaningless to use the blank time of her absence to win. In fact, I don’t even have a vision of winning now─”
When Tsubaki had spoken that much, Yamato interrupted her.
And instead, Yamato made a suggestion.
“Why don’t you talk to Shirase about all these feelings? Of course, it might be considered troublesome, and Kosaka-san might say something that would make her angry. ─But I am sure that Shirase will face you head-on.”
This was Yamato’s own idea of a way out. Rather than just letting her thoughts smolder, he thought she should confront them head-on.
“I wonder if that’s so. To Senpai, I’m probably not even anyone of significance, so she perhaps doesn’t remember a thing about me…”
“I haven’t been idle these past few days. But I know how Shirase feels about Kosaka-san. Don’t worry, Kosaka-san is someone Shirase cares about.”
Yamato couldn’t say much for sure, because he couldn’t really grasp Shirase’s thoughts, but he could assure Tsubaki that Shirase did not think of Tsubaki as someone unimportant.
This was because he had seen Seira’s reaction to people she actually doesn’t care about compared to those she does.
“If you’re wrong, I’ll hold a grudge against you, you’re fine with that, right?”
“No, I’d rather you not hold a grudge against me…”
“Fufu, I won’t hold a grudge. Instead, I’ll trust Kuraki-san on this one.”
Yamato was unexpectedly struck by such a comment from a junior girl.
Hence, he quickly averted his gaze and stood up.
“W-Well, since that’s decided, we’ll have to set a date and time to talk to Shirase.”
I’m kind of nervous. When should we do this…?”
“They say the first day of the month is the best day, so how about tomorrow?”
“I can’t! Give me a little more time to prepare myself!”
Yamato himself was the type of person who knows that the day the idea strikes him was a good day, but she couldn’t quite match him, so he couldn’t force her.
“What would you do then? I wish there was some kind of opportunity.”
Tsubaki pondered for a while and then said,
“Then, I’ll tell Seira-senpai the next day when we are all together.”
“Okay, it’s decided. But by the way, I’m supposed to hang out with Shirase tomorrow…”
“…Perhaps, do you two hang out and play every day? You truly are filthy.”
“Anyway, I have a ballet lesson tomorrow, so I won’t be able to make it. As well as the day after tomorrow, and the day after that. And the day after that.
“Are you really planning on telling her…?”
“Yes, I am! You are so rude.”
Tsubaki’s pout that was appropriate for her age was extremely cute for Yamato.
Having heard Tsubaki’s true feelings, Yamato finally realized that she was one year younger than him.
“Well, for now, let me know when you find a day when your schedule is free. It doesn’t matter for me or Shirase.”
“I understand. I’ll do that.”
When the conversation was over, they decided to go home.
By this time, the sun had set and darkness had descended.
After Yamato dropped her off in front of the station, Tsubaki turned to him.
“Thank you very much for today.”
“It’s already dark, so be careful on your way home.”
“You really are just like a father. But thanks for your concern.”
“I’m really hurt when you call me a father, so please don’t do it…”
When Yamato asked her rather seriously, Tsubaki smiled softly.
“I understand. ─Then good night, Yamato-senpai.”
“What, that now…?”
Without hearing Yamato’s last words, Tsubaki disappeared behind the ticket gate.
After seeing her off, Yamato, feeling embarrassed, started on his way home.
When Yamato came home and got out of the bath, he found a new message on his phone.
He immediately wondered if Tsubaki had made up her mind, but the sender was Eita.
『Let’s go to the fireworks show this weekend, Kuraki, together! Of course, you have to invite Saint-san too! The location is here→』
The arrow came with a map of the fireworks show.
“A fireworks show, huh?
Yamato would be lying if he said he was not interested in it.
And if he invited Seira, he might be able to see her in her yukata.
Yamato was just about to reply with a simple “Okay,” when he came up with an idea.
He sent a message to Eita saying, “Can I invite other people to that fireworks show?”
Eita immediately replied, “Of course! But don’t cheat on me, okay?” Yamato decided to ignore the second part of the message.
Instead, he sent a message to another person.
Seeing the reply that arrived immediately, a smile appeared on Yamato’s face.
[EDN: School starting next week so expect even slower updates than these.]
[TLN: Mine has already started.]