Please Tell Me How to Remember Love - Chapter 2 Part 4
Chapter 2 Part 4
“What rotten relationship? You are practically into each other…”
That was Takayuki’s response after hearing Aoi’s old story.
“B-But, Satou-kun! She kept tormenting me with her bizarre actions! She’s inconsiderate! Always dragging me to stupid things without minding the time and place! No matter how much I complained to her, she’d only brush it with ‘I know you love me, Aoi,’ and it’s driving me insane! I swear, one day I’d block her account…”
“Why haven’t you done it then?”
Despite her calling Rinko ‘unruly senpai,’ the bond between them was strong. Aoi might say that their relationship was based on the give and take principle, but the truth was, if one of them were in trouble, the other one would lend her aid without any hesitation.
“A-Anyway, she was talking about love so seriously, so I couldn’t just say no to her. It’s a miracle that a weirdo like her, who only has interest in painting, somehow managed to fall in love with someone. That’s why… Um… I-I can’t just leave her alone. Is what I’m doing bad?”
“No, of course not.”
Takayuki responded to her words with a fearless grin.
“Got it. I’ll make sure that she and Iwanaga-sensei will be able to meet up outside school.”
A second after she smiled beautifully, Aoi’s face turned serious as she asked Takayuki that question.
“There are a lot of ways to do it. Recently, I made an acquaintance who seems to be experienced handling this kind of thing. I can just ask them for help… Also, I have an ‘insurance,’ just in case everything turns out to be a failure.”
Takayuki thought that it would be more than possible for Rinko and Shuzou to meet outside of school. He even had an insurance that would definitely make both of them meet each other without fail. Hence, the only problem they had to tackle would be everything that would happen after the two of them met.
“I’ll cooperate with you, Miyama, but please tell that senpai to prepare herself in advance. While I can make the two of them meet, I can’t ensure that her confession will go through. Even if it seems that she has a good chance—”
“Ah, Rinko-senpai told me that she had already prepared herself to be rejected by him. She said that when that happens, she’d just start her career as a painter overseas.”
Takayuki’s concern was immediately dispelled by Aoi’s words.
“I-I see… Your senpai is one hell of a girl…”
Aoi smiled at Takayuki, who seemed to be flabbergasted.
“Naturally. Though her personality is troublesome and arrogant, she is still someone that I can rely on.”
Her smile was filled with pride as she described what her close friend was like.
* * *
“Oh my, helping a cute girl who fell in love with her strict teacher? Hehehe… I don’t see any reason to say no to that!”
A few days later. Takayuki invited Reina and Karin to a coffee shop. The reason being, he wanted to ask for their help to solve Rinko’s case. With Reina being herself, someone who wouldn’t easily be remembered by anyone, she was the best person he could ask to investigate Shuzou’s daily life pretty much unnoticed.
Of course, Takayuki had an ‘insurance’ and the means to call Shuzou out by himself if the needs arose, however, he’d only use them as a last resort. It would be best if Reina was able to gain the information they needed and settle the matter as peacefully as they could.
He didn’t expect that she’d immediately agree without him trying to coax her, though.
“It’s that, you know? The royal road! If this is a shoujou manga, this kind of pattern surely can be counted as the royal road! This kind of development is too charming for me to not lend my hand!”
“Don’t agree to help someone with that kind of half-assed reason, please.”
Naturally, Karin, who was sitting next to Reina, protested while glaring at her for accepting the request without much thought. She expected her to at least hear more of the situation on hand before accepting it.
“Oh my, sorry, Karin-chan, but I owe a debt to Takayuki-kun because of the little prank I did the other day. Besides, it won’t be hard to follow that teacher around. I’ve been following Takayuki-kun around lately, don’t you think it’s good for me to accept this request for a change of pace and for all the troubles we’ve caused him?”
However, Reina didn’t back down and instead asserted her thoughts even more, as if trying to pressure Karin. On the other hand, Karin couldn’t say anything against her, despite her having her own ideas about this matter.
“Wait, Himuro, Kuramori is right. While I do find you two following me around annoying at first, but after the lost child’s case, I don’t really feel that way anymore.That’s why, you don’t need to worry about this sort of thing.”
Instead, it was Takayuki who denied Reina’s words. Though, he did it more because he was afraid the conversation would end right there and then.
His words were genuine, though. After the lost child’s case, Takayuki had begun to open up to Karin more. In fact, part of the reason why he interjected was because he wanted to help Karin out.
“…I don’t know how to feel after hearing those words, Satou-san.”
“Hehehe, you’re exactly the kind of person I expected you to be, Takayuki-kun.”
“Once you start to trust someone, you’d also start to go easy on them, huh, Satou-kun?”
However, all he received from the other three were their retorts.
Everyone sitting in the coffee shop already knew Takayuki’s personality to a certain degree, that was why they could be in sync in admonishing him.
“Alright, I’ll accept this request because I don’t want Takayuki-kun to do something reckless if I were to refuse. Any objection?~”
Eventually, the three girls reached the same conclusion; it would be better for Reina to accept this request to prevent Takayuki from going out of control. At this result, Takayuki could only nod his head. Since it was just the other day that he caused some troubles, Takayuki didn’t have any right to complain.
Therefore, before they could admonish him even further, he moved on to the next topic of conversation.
“Ah, also Kuramori, Himuro, I’m not doing this as a thank you for accepting my request, but rather it’s my way of showing my trust in you. I’m going to tell you about my ability. …Time to make a fool out of myself.”
It was to make sure that they would be able to solve this case smoothly, also to build a certain level of trust between them. Takayuki proposed a heart-to-heart talk between them.
“Oh my, that’s a good one. Karin-chan, I’m going to do the same so that we don’t need to be vigilant against each other anymore. Is that okay with you?”
“Right… I’ve been thinking about doing that for a while and it wouldn’t look good for us if I were to refuse, anyway…”
At Takayuki’s suggestion, Karin and Reina nodded their heads. After knowing Takayuki’s personality, they concluded that it would be better to drop the unnecessary vigilance toward each other as it would only stress them more as time went on.
Once Takayuki received their agreements, he turned his head toward Aoi, who nodded, as if saying, ‘Go ahead,’ urging him to continue the conversation. Since the lost child case, Takayuki had been learning to consult with Aoi before doing anything big.
“Alright, I’ll start. My ability’s name is ‘Sugar Spice.’ With it, I can eat someone’s love. The side effect of this ability is that whenever I use it on someone, they’ll forget everything about it and think that I solved their problems using a method that adheres to common sense.”
Takayuki’s explanation didn’t seem to surprise both Reina and Karin. Just as Aoi and Takayuki had been trying to figure out what Reina’s ability was, both of them had also been doing the same.
“I see. So, I assume that you ate Minoru-kun’s love for me?”
Reina, who had already guessed his ability to a certain extent, smiled and asked him that question. She was there when it happened, hiding while observing from behind the scene, but she still wanted to hear everything properly from Takayuki’s mouth.
“Yeah, I ate his love for you. He was the one asking for it though, as he felt that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his promise otherwise.”
“…I see. That’s a relief, then. Thank you for saving that child, Takayuki-kun.”
Her smile wasn’t her usual gentle smile, but one that was filled with gratitude and a little hint of loneliness.
Karin, who was sitting next to her, looked at her expression with a somewhat sad look, but it didn’t last long. Almost immediately, she wore her expressionless face again.
“No need to thank me. Minoru is my friend. It’s normal for friends to help each other out.”
“Hehe, I guess you’re right. Still, I want to thank you.”
“…Somehow, this feels embarrassing. Let’s drop this and talk about your ability instead.”
“Oh my, hehehe…”
Feeling embarrassed, Takayuki urged her with a blunt tone. Meanwhile Reina was smiling, feeling amused by his reaction.
Aoi watched this situation with mixed feelings.
“Alright, before Takayuki-kun gets into any trouble, let me tell you about my ability.”
Reina glanced at Aoi and began her explanation while smiling.
“My ability’s name is ‘Little Maid.’ It turns me into an immortal. That means, I’ll never be able to die no matter what happens. Whatever ‘change’ I receive, my body will reject it and restore itself to its original state. For example, if I were to do this…”
Right in front of Takayuki and Aoi, Reina bit her finger until it bled. But, the wound disappeared in a blink of an eye. No traces of blood could be seen on the table.
“My body hasn’t changed in any way after I gained this power. I didn’t age nor grow. Even if I starve myself, my body will reject the change and restore itself to its previously healthy state. I’ve tried this before. Also, this sailor uniform I’m proud of comes as a set with my very existence, that’s why this uniform will never get dirty! Well, I get tired of wearing the same outfit all the time, so sometimes, I wear different ones!”
Reina said those words in a rather casual manner, but the content of her words were heavy. Immortality. Aoi gulped after hearing words that would only come up in fantasy stories.
“I see. No wonder your ability’s side effect is way worse than mine. I guess it would take something like being easily forgotten by everyone to balance out immortality.”
While Aoi was surprised, Takayuki was calm. If anything, he seemed satisfied by her explanation. He was relaxed, probably because he had finally found the answer for the question he had in his mind for a while now.
“Yes. My existence itself is against the common sense of this world. That’s why, to correct everyone’s perspective on me, the common sense of this world erased me from everyone’s memories. Well, either that or it distorted everyone’s perspective of me as I’m not someone who’s supposed to exist in the first place. It’s like Nurarihyon, you know? The youkai.” (T/N: It’s a youkai in the form of an old man with a big head. It would sneak into people’s houses, drink their tea while sitting in their living room while pretending to be the owner of the house. It could make you think that it’s actually the owner though, hence the comparison.)
“I see. That’s why they called you ‘Dareka-san.’”
“I was doing my things like usual, before I knew it, an urban legend about me was created.”
“Ah, I feel you. My side effect doesn’t make everyone involved lose their memories, but distort them. There are times when those memories that remained in their brain turned the truth into some kind of bizarre ghost story.”
The two people who were disconnected from common sense were having a cheerful conversation.
Seeing this, Aoi felt a gulf was created between herself and the two of them. A gulf that separated ordinary people like her from the two.
“U-Um, Himuro-san, can I ask you a question?”
“Hm? What is it?”
That was why Aoi voiced that question. To create a bridge so she could cross that gulf. She wanted to stand on the same side as them.
“I’ve never met anyone else who’s connected with the supernatural aside from you two. What about you? Have you met someone other than Satou-kun before this?”
“Yeah, but I haven’t met a lot of them. The last time I met one of them was thirty years ago, so I’m not really familiar with this matter.”
“T-Thirty years ago?!”
Aoi was surprised to hear the words that she said ever so casually. She forced herself to stop pursuing the matter though. Instead, she asked her about the thing she wanted to know the most at the current moment.
“Then, can you tell me what makes people like me and Kuramori different? Why can we distinguish you two from the rest of the crowds?”
Aoi managed to recognize Takayuki’s ability despite her not understanding the logic behind it. This led to a certain fear appearing in her heart. The fear that one day, she’d lose this mysterious qualification that she had.
“Right… Well, I have my own guess about this, but what do you think, Takayuki-kun?”
Under Aoi’s gaze, Reina casually passed the question over to Takayuki. She wasn’t doing this because she was being irresponsible or anything. Rather, because the question came from Takayuki’s partner, she thought that it would be better for Takayuki to say his opinion first.
Even if his answer was way off the mark, it would at least show that he was taking his partner seriously.
“…Give me a minute.”
As a fellow person who was connected with the supernaturals, Takayuki was also aware of Reina’s intention. That was why he fell silent as he mull over what he wanted to say.
From his first meeting with the witch, his reunion with Aoi to the appearance of Haruka, another person who managed to recognize his power. As he traced his memories back, Takayuki came to one conclusion.
“…I’m guessing that it has something to do with love.”
However, both Aoi and Karin hadn’t heard of the witch’s hint. That was why they retorted as hard as they could the moment they heard his words.
“I see, that’s a good one. As expected of you, Takayuki-kun, that’s a brilliant answer.”
Meanwhile, Reina nodded, pleased by the answer she received.
Karin was troubled by her reaction. While it was true that Karin loved Reina, she was still in the youthful age of puberty. She simply couldn’t accept that Reina said it out loud that she loved her.
“A-Ahem! That wasn’t what you told me, Reina-san! Didn’t you tell me that people like you two were people who went against common sense itself and the people who could recognize your ability had a different perspective about what they considered as common sense? We could become your partners because we either have a flexible perspective or strong emotions that could overwrite that perspective itself. In other words, we have the ability to accept the supernaturals into our common sense!”
With a red face, Karin gave her explanation.
Aoi immediately understood what she was talking about. Ever since she was a young child, she always strongly believed that the supernaturals existed because she believed in the existence of her hero. No matter what anyone else said about it, she continued to believe in her hero and look for him.
With that in mind, she also managed to guess why Haruka could also perceive Takayuki’s power, though she wasn’t sure about it. The more she tried to think about it, the more the vague feelings in her chest grew.
“Honestly, I like Takayuki-kun’s answer more, but what Karin-chan said was correct.”
“…That meant I made a fool out of myself.”
“Your answer is still a brilliant one, though~”
Next to Aoi, who was struggling with her emotion, was Takayuki, who was covering his head with his hands.
Like a normal boy in his puberty, he was dying from shame after knowing he made a fool out of himself.
“Ahem! U-Um, thanks for answering, Kuramori-san, I appreciate it! And, Himuro-san, I have another question, I’d appreciate it if you can answer it this time.”
To change the atmosphere that had become quite delicate, Aoi forcefully changed the focus of the conversation by attempting to start another topic. All while ignoring a certain feeling that appeared in her chest.
“Hehe, of course I’ll answer your question, Miyama-san. Just ask me anything.”
“…You told me that you met another person like you thirty years ago. If you weren’t lying, then I assume you’re way older than your look suggests?”
“Oh my, it’s considered rude to ask a woman of her age, you know?”
“But, we’re both women, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.”
“Hehehe, I guess so, huh? Alright, then. It’s embarrassing, but I’ll tell you.”
Reina smiled before casually answering the question. Her tone was light, as if she was engaging in your usual daily conversations.
“Right… My real age should be around the same age as Takayuki-kun’s grandfather, Hiiragi Soujiro-san’s age if he’s still alive.”
But the content of her words were basically herself admitting that she was truly an undying monster.
* * *
Hiiragi Soujiro. After that name was mentioned, Takayuki stopped saying anything. When Aoi tried to talk to him, he only replied to her absent-mindedly with jumbled words. When they were on their way, as they approached the toilet, his face became noticeably paler, as if his health was slowly deteriorating.
Seeing this, Aoi suggested that they break up their little gathering. Since the purpose of this gathering was to gain Reina’s cooperation and they had already accomplished that purpose, it should be okay for them to break up now. They decided that they’d be having another discussion at another opportunity.
But, as they broke up, Takayuki didn’t leave together with Aoi. After saying, “Give me some time alone,” he walked away on his own.
“I knew it. Satou-kun still hasn’t moved on from his late grandfather.”
On her way home, Aoi quietly muttered those words.
His grandfather was the person that he admired, but at the same time, he was the source of his trauma. A man of character who was adored by everyone around him. Someone who’d go as far as sacrificing his own life just to save a small child. That was the only thing that Aoi knew about his grandfather.
She pondered. Would Takayuki be able to move on from the scars of his past? If so, how?
As she was deep in thought, suddenly, a voice called out to her from behind, making her let out a strange sound in surprise. She hurriedly turned around to see Karin standing behind her.
“…Huh? Kuramori-san? Do you need something from me?”
“Yes. There’s something important that I have to talk to you about. Do you mind walking with me for a moment?”
“Yes, sure, but… Something important?”
Aoi nodded at Kuramori, who was looking up at her with her expressionless face. As soon the latter received the answer, she immediately turned around and walked away.
“Um? Wait, Kuramori-san!”
Karin didn’t stop walking as she went through the alley in front of them.
“Their abilities came with a price.”
Aoi had to hasten her pace to catch up with Karin. When she did, she asked her that question in a flustered tone.
“Yes. According to Reina-san, to gain an ability, one has to follow a procedure. First, summon the witch using a certain medium. Then, the witch will offer you to pay a certain price after she hears of your wish. If you agree to her offer, then a contract between you and her will be formed and she’ll grant you the ability you could use to fulfill your wish.”
Without paying any attention to Aoi, who was still behind her, Karin continued to speak.
“When Reina-san’s life was about to end due to an illness, she called upon the witch and stated her wish to ‘stay alive.’ And that was how she was granted with her immortality. And in exchange for that, she had to pay the price for it.”
“Price… But, from her explanation, that ‘price’ seems to be part of her ability…”
“Isn’t it obvious? She sugarcoated it. The truth isn’t that pretty.”
Karin answered Aoi’s question while facing forward.
Her face was still expressionless, but it was clear that she was holding back from showing her emotion this time.
“Abilities like this always come with a price as the price itself is part of the ability. Like birds, they sacrificed their birds so they could fly. Fish, they sacrificed their ability to live on land to be able to roam freely in the ocean. And to be an immortal, then they just don’t need to age to begin with. Well, at least that was the price that the witch decided.”
“Beats me. The only thing that I know is that the price for any kind of ability isn’t something trivial.”
Karin’s expressionless face was unchanged, but there was a hint of pain in her voice.
“At a first glance, being ‘ageless’ sounds like something enviable, but if you think for a bit, there’s more to it than it meets the eye. Your family, your friends, the people that you love, they will carry on with their lives, growing up and eventually leave you behind. Meanwhile you are there, being the ageless being you are, unable to grow, never-changing, never aging and eventually you’d become a lone outcast among the sea of people. That loneliness comes with immortality, there’s no way around it. In Reina-san’s case, it’s even worse than that. The side effect of her ability makes her easily forgotten by others, even by the people that she loves. She can’t even remain in the memories of her aging loved ones. That’s the kind of life she has been living in.”
After that long speech, Karin stopped her feet as she turned to face Aoi, who was walking right beside her.
“Miyama-san. Do you know what the price that Satou-san had to pay?”
“Eh… U-Um… I-I… Don’t know…”
“I see. Then, I strongly recommend you to ask him about it. In a way, the price he had to pay is the shortcoming of his ability, that’s why someone with an ability like him and Reina-san tend to hide it. I had a hard time trying to find out about what Reina-san had to pay too.”
To Aoi, who was flustered by the unexpected question, Karin sent her words, uttered in a strong tone.
“You need to hurry before it’s too late. Besides, it’s better if he can confide in you for things like this. Having someone to talk with is always a blessing, after all.”
Her expressionless face broke into a self-mocking smile. After saying, “That’s all from me,” Karin walked away, leaving the stunned Aoi behind.
“Price… The price Satou-kun had to pay…”
Even after Karin disappeared from her sight, Aoi was still standing on her spot while muttering those words over and over. It wasn’t like she was clueless about this matter, though.
“Isn’t that obvious?”
It was precisely because she knew that she became restless like this. Aoi’s mind was being encroached by impatience.