“I like you, Sena.”
Sena’s eyes opened wide, coloured with joy. I continued.
“But I can’t be in a relationship with you.”
“Huh?” said Sena blankly.
She blinked away tears again and again, poring over what I said, and her expression finally became one of shock.
“But – what?! What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“I like you. There’s so much I want to do with you, do… um, to you.”
Sena’s face was bright red. I felt my own face burning up as well.
“You know, like those games you always play… I-I want to do dirty things to you! I really do. Every time I see you, I get so turned on. It’s been that way ever since I met you. That time I stayed at your place and saw you naked? It was so damn hard… if I wasn’t sleeping next to your old man, I don’t know what I would’ve done!”
“D-Do-Do you even know what you’re saying?!”
Sena half-cried as she remembered.
“And that time we went to the beach resort. I saw your breasts. I didn’t know what to do, then, either. They’re… they’re amazing! I want to see them over and over again!”
I couldn’t tell whether Sena was embarrassed or angry anymore. I continued.
“I always wanted to play with them. Even now, I mean. I want to touch them! Fondle them! Bury my face in them! And not just your boobs… I want to touch your legs, and your ass! And I want to make out with you! I mean, I can do all of that any time I want if you’re my girlfriend, right?! Hell yeah!”
“Who said I’m going to let you do that any time you want?!”
A confused Sena cried out.
Haha… it looks like she’s pretty confused. Of course, I can touch them whenever I want and however much I want… that’s what lovers do, right?
“I want to do things with you… I want to touch you whenever and wherever I want, do the dirty things I want to do! It’d be like a dream! Me, having you all to myself! I can’t even imagine it without crying a bit! It’s totally a dream! It’d be a miracle!”
“L-Listen to what I’m saying…!”
Sena was shaking adorably.
To this girl, cuter than any other, I said.
“But I can’t be with you!”
I said flatly.
“If I do, the Neighbours Club won’t be able to stay the way it has always been. Meeting you – getting to hear you say you like me – is a miracle… but so is the Neighbours Club! That’s why…”
I stared – glared, almost – at her.
My knees touched the floor, hands thrown forward, as my eyebrows touched the floor.
“I’m going to stick with it – so stick with it, with me!”
I pled with her.
When the Japanese male wishes to have his will enforced, regardless of logic, tradition dictates that he deploy the Dogeza.
“To protect the Neighbours Club, keep it as it’s always been, I can’t be with you, or anyone else!”
This is my answer.
I can’t choose which is more important – Sena or the Neighbours Club.
That’s why I’ll choose both – even though this hope of mine can never be granted by me alone.
“Work with me to protect the Neighbours Club! Bear with it, and with me!”
Turning Sena down is out of the question. It will only hurt her and ruin the mood whenever she is with me or the other members. No matter what, she mustn’t quit the Neighbours Club.
No matter what, I don’t want anyone to be unhappy.
That’s why I have to persuade her – to be patient.
For the sake of the Neighbours Club.
Even though we have feelings for one another – we’ll draw a line.
Even though we’ve both accepted how we think about one another – we’ll bear it.
I’ll stop lying, stop pretending to not hear, show my true self – and have her be patient with me.
Is it unnatural? Maybe it is.
Am I just putting off my final decision? Maybe I am.
“…Are you serious?”
Sena asked as she looked down at me, perplexed.
I raised my head and looked right back at her.
I’m sure that, somewhere along my life, there will come a time where I have to choose what is most important to me.
There will definitely come a time when I have to let something to lay on the wayside.
There will definitely come a time when I have to hurt someone.
But – instead of getting drunk off some cheap sense of heroism and letting impulses take over – I want to find a way to go as far as I can without hurting anyone at all.
Is there really no other choice anymore? I want to think it through to the very last moment.
Is it right to have a clear-cut resolution for everything? I don’t think so.
Even at the very end, I don’t want to make up my mind to hurt someone.
I know this solution – having everyone hold back – is not the way to make everyone perfectly happy.
Not for me, or Sena, or Rika, or Yukimura, or Kobato, or Maria, or Yozora. Regrettably, I know of no way to give everyone a full three stars of happiness.
But if giving someone three stars means another someone will lose theirs – I would rather everyone had two and a half stars each. That’s the regrettable path that I decided to walk on.
“And if I say no?”
“I’ll convince you.”
“And if I still say no?”
“I’ll convince you harder.”
“…Do you really understand what you’re saying, Kodaka?”
“No, you don’t!”
Sena shouted in exasperation.
“We have feelings for each other but we can’t be with one another… and you want things to be the way they’ve always been?! Did you really think people would accept a meaningless answer like that?!”
“I don’t care if other people accept it! I care if you accept it! So, please! Accept it!”
I shouted back, gazing into those eyes that were shooting daggers at me.
Sena flinched for an instant, pressured by my words.
“…You know I hate holding back, right?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“You know that I’ll get anything and everything I want, right? You want me to hold back? To compromise? Just hearing those words make me want to throw up. They’re for people who don’t have the power to get what they want… peasants. I’m perfect. I don’t hold back. I don’t compromise.”
“I know. That’s why I like you. That’s why I fell in love with you. Your world is so bright… the way you live is something a normal person like me wouldn’t ever be able to imitate. ”
“…D-Don’t just say things like that one after another. It’s embarrassing…”
Sena suddenly became flustered, which was also cute in its own way.
It made my heart throb.
Sena and I stared wordlessly at one another for a long time.
Our faces red.
Our eyes blurred.
Our hearts pounding.
To a bystander, this might look like the antics of a young, fresh, awkward couple… but no, this was a battle.
And it finally ended.
Sena averted her gaze and murmured.
“…I’ll do as you say. For now.”
My eyes widened, but Sena’s eyebrows twitched as she said angrily.
“D-Don’t get me wrong, okay?!”
Her words sounded almost like a tsundere’s.
“I-It’s not like I agree with you!”
Sena shouted, flushed crimson.
“Don’t get me wrong, okay, Kodaka?! I’m only holding back because I like you!”
It was like a tsundere’s line, but it wasn’t and it couldn’t be interpreted any other way – it was a declaration of love, and far more destructive than any line from any girl of any light novel or anime.
And just like that, I began to love her more and more.