Please Tell Me How to Remember Love - Chapter 3 Part 3
Chapter 3 Part 3
The more someone was used to tail another, the less they’d expect to be tailed by others.
Aoi once read such a sentence in a manga, but never did she expect that she would witness the actual scene happening in real life.
“Seriously, look at him. With all the bad rumors surrounding him, you’d expect him to do things in moderation, but he just went ahead and acted like a thug in broad daylight. I know that this is better than doing nothing, but still…”
To summarize what just happened.
Just as Takayuki and Haruka were being tailed by Misato, Aoi was tailing Misato. She put on some light disguise for safe measure, but the person she tailed didn’t even notice her, so there really was no need for her to go that far. In the end, Misato was caught in the trap that they had set. All Aoi needed to do was to contact Takayuki at the perfect moment and so that he could catch her during the act.
“We can finally start…”
Aoi followed Takayuki and Misato to a closed restaurant. The door was unlocked, so they could freely enter the place.
Thanks to Takayuki’s connection, they were able to rent the space. Their plan was to let Takayuki and Haruka hide inside the restaurant to make Misato lower her guard down. Since the place was supposed to be closed, there was no way that Misato would expect that they were hiding inside. After that, Takayuki would sneak up on her and drag her to the restaurant with him.
“Ah, there you are, Miyama. Good work.”
When Aoi entered the restaurant, Takayuki greeted her with his usual irreverent look. Next to him was a girl with a gloomy expression. At first glance, she looked like a normal high school student, save from her unusually long bangs despite her having shoulder-length hair. From behind her bangs, her eyes constantly wander around in confusion. With her appearance, it was obvious that she was not a model or something like that. Her presence gave people who saw her a sense of unease. The girl was Kageyama Misato, the culprit of the stalking incident.
Both Takayuki and Misato were sitting at the furthest table from the entrance. He was keeping a close eye on her, preventing her from escaping.
“I need more than praise from you. Buy me something to eat later. Seeing you two flirting around without a care in the world was painful.”
With a firm tone, Aoi responded to Takayuki’s praise.
“I knew you would say so, that’s why I bought you some steamed buns! Here you go~”
“…Thank you, Haru-kun.”
Haruka handed a plastic bag filled with steamed buns to Aoi. She was seated near the entrance, far away from where Takayuki and Misato were seated.
This distance was the only compromise Takayuki was willing to make for their willingness to participate in this plan. Originally, he wanted both of them to stay out of it since they might be exposed to danger, but both of them insisted on accompanying him.
Back then, Aoi was still able to smirk, thinking that Takayuki was just being a worrywart like usual. But when the culprit was right in front of her like this, she became less talkative out of nervousness. Meanwhile the victim, Haruka, was still able to smile, but it was clear that she was forcing herself to.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I’m okay… I’m okay…”
Seeing Haruka’s response made Aoi realize how amazing of a person Takayuki was. Even in this situation, he didn’t seem to falter.
“Now that we’re all here, let’s get started.”
Noticing Haruka’s state, Takayuki quickly cut their conversation short.
“First thing first, Kageyama-senpai, we know that you’re the one who’s stalking Haruka-senpai. I got enough evidence to prove that. By the way, the evidence isn’t a video or anything. It’s the things that you stole from her. We procured it out of your room. All of them.”
“…Eh? Ah? H-How?…”
To Misato who asked that question with a trembling voice, Takayuki answered her question casually.
“I know your sister. When I explained the situation to her, she was more than willing to cooperate. In exchange, she begged me to not bring this case to the police. She even got on her knees for you.”
Hearing that, Misato turned her head down as her bangs fell down like a curtain.
Takayuki wasn’t lying. By strange coincidence, Misato’s sister was one of Takayuki’s regulars. The office lady who went to a hotel with him the other day.
Therefore, it was easy for him to get ahold of the stolen things. Of course, at first her sister rejected his request. She didn’t want to intrude on her little sister’s private life. But soon enough, she realized that if she didn’t cooperate, worse things could happen to her little sister, so she changed her mind. The result of that was this, they found the evidence that Misato was truly the culprit.
“Kageyama-senpai, if I want to persecute you because of your crime, I’d already report you to the school, hell I’d even report you to the police. The reason why I haven’t done so already is because of your sister and most importantly, this is the victim’s request. Do you understand the situation now, Kageyama-senpai?”
“Eh?… H-Haruka-senpai? W-Why?…”
“I’ll repeat my question. Do you understand your situation?”
Misato was about to turn her gaze toward Haruka, but before she was able to, Takayuki restrained her action with his words. He didn’t raise his voice, but the change in his tone intimidated her.
“Good. Then, let’s get to business, shall we?”
Seeing Takayuki still acting nonchalantly made a shiver run down Aoi’s spine.
Normally, Takayuki was a mild-mannered and silly boy, but in this situation, he was even more intimidating than his looks suggested.
“So, Kageyama-senpai. Why did you steal Haruka-senpai’s belongings? Why did you send all those cryptic letters to her and stalked her? Didn’t she help you out when you were in trouble? Why are you doing something like this to her? No sensible person would do this to her savior, do you know that? Oh, by the way, I’m not trying to threaten you or anything, I’m just asking you to find out about your motive. We need to find out the root of the cause so that this wouldn’t happen again in the future, after all. That’s why, I hope that you would be willing to cooperate with me.”
“Cat got your tongue? Where’s my answer?”
His amiable smile was gone, the tone of his voice was cold.
Even Aoi and Haruka were trembling after seeing this side of him, let alone Misato. In fact, Misato was already tearing up.
“B-Because… I-I’m not… S-Special…”
Her confession was accompanied by tears.
“H-Haruka-senpai is cool… Amazing… E-Everyone adores her… S-She has a lot of friends… M-Meanwhile, I… I…”
Her eyes were hidden by her bangs, so Takayuki couldn’t see them.
But he could see her self-deprecating smile.
“I-I don’t know… I don’t know! I didn’t even want to hurt her! At first, I just picked up the keychain that she dropped, but when I was thinking of giving it back to her, something inside me was telling me not to do it. When I saw her pained look, my heart ached and I regretted my actions, but I… I felt… Relieved…”
Her words were shaky like her wobbling body. What she said didn’t make any sense, it was obvious that she harbored a certain dark emotion.
“I didn’t want to do this, but I was afraid that if I didn’t do something, Haruka-senpai would abandon me! Unlike her, I’m not a special existence! I was afraid that she’d grow to be disappointed in me, leave me and eventually forget about me! But I realized that it’s inevitable. It’s natural that she’d leave my side. That’s why, if I do this… Even though she’ll end up disappointed in me all the same, at least she won’t forget about me. I know that it’s stupid, the more I do this, the more my heart aches… But I did it anyway, because I love her… I love her, I love her… Why do I hurt the person I love? I don’t know, but I love her…”
Her words were more than enough to get on Aoi’s nerves. Meanwhile, Haruka stared at Misato with a blank expression, but her complexion looked pale. She was in a state of shock after hearing her kouhai’s confession.
“Ahahaha… I’m stupid, I know… But, you know what? I’m glad that it turned out this way. Yes, I’m hurting. Yes, I feel sad about it. But who cares? With this, Haruka-senpai will remember someone like me… She’ll never forget me… Ahaha!”
Aoi could hear something within her snap. Misato’s selfish words made her lose her mind.
She could tolerate Misato no more. Aoi forcefully stood up from where she sat.
“Stop messing around.”
But before she could do anything, a quiet, angry voice echoed through the room.
“What the hell are you even on about?”
It was Takayuki’s voice. It was clear from his expression that he was angry, but at the same time, there was a hint of sadness in his eyes. While still wearing that expression, he grabbed Misato’s arms and helped her to her feet.
“Look at her closely. Do you think that she’s some kind of special existence?”
Ignoring her cowering body, Misato moved her gaze toward Haruka.
“Swipe that depressing bang away and look closely at her face. Does that seem like the face of someone who’d abandon her friends without feeling any remorse to you?”
Takayuki then swiped Misato’s bang away, forcing her to see what was happening in front of her.
With a clear vision, Misato was finally able to get a good look at Haruka’s face.
She looked pale, weak and there was sadness in her face. Even so, her expression seemed to indicate that she hadn’t given up on Misato yet. Misato could see Haruka’s fingers trembling, but the latter’s gaze never left Misato’s face.
“She’s just a normal girl.”
Takayuki said, after seeing Misato’s wide-eyed face.
“That person is an idiot who’s too embarrassed to wear the clothes that she bought herself. She’s the kind of idiot who stayed up late on the night of an exam talking about manga with someone on the internet and ended up being scolded by her parents. The idiot who tried to save a bullied kouhai just because she felt that they were the same kind of person.”
“She was proud that the kouhai she saved grew to be able to talk to other people normally, to the point that she made that cheesy, stupid-looking certificate to celebrate the occasion. Even when everything backfired on her, she still believed in her kouhai like the idiot she was. Tell me, Kageyama-senpai. Do you really think that she is a special existence or whatnot?”
In a quiet tone, Takayuki tried to passionately convey his words to Misato. Her expression became distorted. Not because she disagreed with his words, but because of the self-loathing she felt after hearing his words. Her regret made her sneer look ugly as her tears slowly trickled down on the floor.
“Uuu… W-Waah… S-Sorry… I… I…”
At the sight of Misato kneeling while apologizing, Haruka let out a sigh of relief.
It would be nice if things could end just like this, but this was the real life not fantasy.
“I-I! I probably will repeat this again, even if you forgive me… Hic… E-Even if I feel sorry today, that dark emotion will come back again one day… H-Haruka-senpai, I love you and I want to keep you to myself… But I don’t want to hurt you anymore…”
Even if one could accept everything logically, the human’s heart worked differently than the mind. The mind would want to do good, but the heart could corrupt that intention and turn it into a dark and twisted one.
Aoi knew this as she had experienced the same thing in the past.
“That’s why from now on, I’ll disappear from your life, Haruka-senpai! I’ll go to somewhere you can’t reach, it’s the only way—”
“It’s not the only way.”
But there was one thing that could change the current situation.
“Kageyama-senpai— No, Kageyama Misato. If you wish, I can save you in exchange for something that’s dear to you, your feelings. You have to keep this in mind though. If you agree to this, something within you will change. For better or worse, we wouldn’t know, but a change will definitely occur.”
Takayuki laughed scornfully as he reached out to Misato, who was kneeling on the floor.
“…Eh? What are you?”
Being told something like that so suddenly, obviously Misato would feel confused. Puzzled by Takayuki’s words, she looked up to him, trying to find out what he was talking about.
To Aoi, this scene brought her a sense of deja vu. In this room, she was probably the only person who understood what he was trying to do.
“Whether you want to believe me or not, it’s up to you. I still want you to choose, though. If there’s a way for you to get out of this situation without having to disappear from Haruka-senpai’s life, will you take it no matter the price? If so, take my hand.”
Staring at his hand dumbfoundedly, Misato pondered. Not long after that, she erased the tears from her face with the cuffs of her uniform. Brushing her bangs, she took Takayuki’s hand and looked up at him.
“As long as Haruka-senpai doesn’t get hurt by my decision, I’m willing to pay anything.”
“I see. I’ll do my best to fulfill your wish.”
Takayuki supported Misato to stand with her own legs. Then, he guided her to sit down at a nearby chair, making her body lean toward the table.
“Make yourself comfortable here. You can keep your eyes open, but make sure to put your weight on the table… Yeah, just like that. Perfect.”
“…This feels scary somehow. What are you trying to do to me? This is even scarier than getting a needle shot!”
“Hahaha what are you talking about, Kageyama-senpai? I won’t do anything scary like that.”
Even though she was frightened, Misato still obeyed Takayuki’s instructions.
“…Um, Aoi, what is he doing?”
Watching the scene unfold before her, Haruka asked Aoi what was going on.
“Just watch, Haru-kun. Don’t worry, he won’t be doing anything dangerous.”
To the worried looking Haruka, Aoi assured her that Takayuki wouldn’t be doing anything outrageous.
After all, Aoi knew. The anguish and pain that Misato felt and inflicted would turn into memories eventually. Takayuki’s ability would just speed up the process.
“Don’t worry. This will be over soon. It’s as easy as taking candy from a baby.”
Aoi’s gaze caught the sight of Takayuki touching Misato’s head with his fingertips. This was the second time she saw him doing this. Her attention was focused on the beautiful sight in front of her, the sight when Takayuki invoked his power.
Thanks to that, Aoi failed to notice Haruka’s state. Her previously pale face had turned bright red.
* * *
“Phew… It tastes so disgusting. How do I describe this? It’s like drinking coffee milk with frozen charred coffee beans. It’s the taste of self-hatred and anguish. It’s been a while since I tasted something this vile…”
Takayuki managed to flawlessly invoke his ability, but soon afterwards, his face turned really ugly. It seemed like Misato’s love tasted as bad as he described.
“Hahaha, good job, Satou-kun.”
However, Aoi didn’t find his attitude to be uncool. She felt relieved after seeing the familiar expression on his face.
“We’re all done then?”
“For the time being, yes. If she really were stalking senpai out of love, she’d stop doing it from now on.”
“Well, you’ve already done your best. Honestly, the fact that you are able to erase the pain of her broken heart is good enough already… By the way, does love really taste that bad?”
“Broken heart tastes bad, yes. There are different kinds of ‘bad’ for the taste, though. It’s the first time in a while that it tastes so bad that I almost fainted from eating it.”
“Huh, I see… By the way, what did mine taste like?”
“So bad I almost fainted.”
“Stop! Stop shaking me, idiot! You won’t get your love out of my stomach, you’ll just make me vomit out the inside of my stomach if you do this!”
As Takayuki and Aoi were making a fuss, Misato, who passed out beside them, began to move her body. Slowly, she got up and looked around her surroundings with a sleepy gaze. It seemed like the girl was a light sleeper. After hearing someone making some noises beside her, she immediately woke up.
“Ah, she’s up.”
“Right… How do you feel, Kageyama-senpai?”
Hearing Takayuki’s voice, Misato blinked her eyes.
“…Huh? Eh? …I-I? Huh?”
She tilted her head, placing her hands in her chest before opening her eyes wide.
Again and again, Misato grasped her chest, trying to confirm her own words before she nodded. Her expression changed from confused to relieved in a few seconds.
“Hahaha, finally… Finally I’m free from that disgusting emotion… Ahaha… Thank you… You saved me… Thank you…”
Seeing the change in Misato’s emotions made Takayuki bewildered. With eyes filled with tears, she held his hands tightly.
“S-Sure… S-So, did you feel anything different?”
“I feel exhilarated! It feels like I’ve been reborn! Ah, of course, I’ll atone for my sins to Haruka-senpai and everyone that I had been troubling so far… I promise…”
Misato who had her love eaten away was like a whole different person. Her smile was so bright, it was as if all the dark emotions inside her had been completely purged.
Meanwhile Takayuki was having trouble dealing with the now energetic senpai of his.
“Of course I won’t ever forget this favor. You’ve saved me. I’ll dedicate my whole life to you to repay you.”
“No, don’t do that, please…”
Through her bangs, Misato’s eyes were glittering. She held Takayuki’s hands tightly. But suddenly, she moved away from him. No, she didn’t do it because she felt intimidated by Aoi’s smile.
“Anyway, first thing first.”
Misato spun her body around and bowed toward Haruka.
“Forgive me, Haruka-senpai. I know I have no right to beg for forgiveness from you, but I’ll do my best to atone for my sins…”
Seeing this, Haruka shook her head. There was a gentle smile on her face.
“…Idiot, it’s fine, Misato. Don’t be too hard on yourself, okay? I’m fine.”
“No. Your kindness is a part of your charm, Haruka-senpai, but please don’t go easy on me. Of course if you feel troubled, I can just disappear. I don’t want my atonement to make you feel burdened.”
“Oh jeez, don’t be like this, Misatio!”
Seeing Misato’s conduct, all tension left Haruka’s body as she began to show a more relaxed smile. The tone that she used to address Misato was a gentle one, the tone that she normally used toward her friends.
“If you say so… But, can I say something to you, Haruka-senpai? I know I’m meddling in your private affairs, but you know…”
“If you want to say it to him, the sooner you do it the better.”
Misato said that in a teasing tone. Rather than meddling, it was more like she was giving a small push for her friend.
For a while, Haruka failed to understand what she was trying to say. But, when Misato nudged her chin in Takayuki’s direction, Haruka’s cheeks turned bright red.
“E-Eh? W-Why?! H-How?!”
“It’s very obvious. It’s actually harder to not notice it. In any case, do your best, Senpai.”
When Misato urged her with a smile, Haruka couldn’t say anything back to her. After a while, she faced Takayuki with a determined look.
“Yeah? What is it, Haruka-senpai?”
In contrast to Haruka’s tense gait, Takayuki had a relaxed one. He didn’t know anything about Haruka’s feelings. Though, Aoi, who was standing next to him, started to feel nervous after seeing this scene.
“First of all, thank you for everything. Thanks to you we managed to reach a satisfying conclusion safely… Honestly, I can’t thank you enough…”
“You’re welcome. Well, toward the end, I actually kinda casted a spell on Kageyama-senpai—”
“I know, I can see it. There was something that looked like a mist that came out from Misato’s body and it went inside your mouth. After that, she suddenly became cheerful like this. I assume that it was her bad feelings and you ate them all, am I right?”
“Hehehe, strange isn’t it? I saw an amazing sight in front of me, but I didn’t freak out somehow. Normally, I’d probably pounce on you and ask you various questions, but I don’t even feel the urge to do so right now. But, Kouhai-kun, that isn’t important right now.”
“I have something to tell you, Kouhai-kun.”
Seeing Takayuki all flustered made Aoi react the same way. Actually, she was even more flustered than him. It was to the point that she wasn’t able to say anything. After all, if what Haruka was saying was true, that meant Aoi wasn’t a unique being to Takayuki. She always thought that she was the only one who had the privilege to stand by his side. Never did she expect that it was just her wishful thinking.
“Please listen to me properly…”
Aoi could only watch this scene in silence.
Her cheeks upturned, her eyes were moist. Aoi witnessed Haruka desperately trying to convey her feelings.
“Y-You see, Satou Takayuki… I-I… I love you! I love you romantically!”
When Haruka finally confessed her feelings, Aoi couldn’t do anything anymore.
“U-Uwaah! I-I said it!”
“Uh, w-wait! Haruka-senpai!”
Before Takayuki could give her an answer, though, Haruka had already fled the scene out of embarrassment.