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Takamura-kun wa Norowarete Iru.
Chapter 9 – Hiwatari Shuu Comforts (1)
The university Takafumi attends is having a Cultural Festival today.
There’s a preconception that Cultural Festivals are held in November, but it appears that Takafumi’s university holds it on the last day of June. I’ve never been to a university Cultural Festival, but apparently they do things like inviting celebrities and forming bands. All in all, it’s pretty amazing. So far, I’ve been unable to attend Takafumi’s Cultural Festivals for one reason or another, be it the distance or cost. However, it’s different this year. I’ve moved into the metropolitan area and my allowance has increased.
Let’s forget about the end-of-term test for now and depart for the Cultural Festival. There’s also matters more important than the term tests to consider, but let’s forget about them for now too.
The matter that plagues my heart to the utmost. Its emergence dates back to several days before.
Sena Tsugumi is male. Moreover, he says he likes me. I thought it was a lie, but I understood it’s true when I saw the Uroboros tattoo on his right flank. Because I have the same thing on the left side of my waist. The motif of two snakes eating into each other, forming a circle. Uroboros, the symbol of ‘death and rebirth’, ‘immortality’, et cetera.
Looking back at the mirror, I gaze at my waist. Sure enough, there resides two snakes that are about fist-sized. I’ll remain male as long as these snakes continue to reside on my waist.
However, this curse will unravel if I come to like Sena and kiss him. I can return to being a girl at once.
But my heart is unable to keep up. There’s no signs that my heart will come to like Sena. After all, I thought he was a girl until a mere couple of days ago. Moreover, even now, Sena’s appearance, gestures and everything are those of a girl’s. From my perspective, it’s exceedingly difficult to have feelings of love for him because I don’t feel like becoming lesbian.
A dress shirt with ¾ length sleeves paired with loose jeans. Only a wallet and smartphone are in my leather bum bag.
It’s 9am on the dot. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the university from here so I’ll be able to reach there before 10am.
It appears that the band Takafumi is in will perform at 10.30am. There can’t be anything harder to associate with Takafumi than a band, but it seems he’d been in one since his high school days and he’s the guitarist there. That’s too much of a surprise.
That’s why I must at least catch Takafumi’s band performance.
I left the house with these thoughts in mind, but goodness, the train’s been delayed. It’ll be delayed for up to 30 minutes so I may not make it for Takafumi’s performance. I sit down on a bench in disappointment. People who’re likely planning to go to the Cultural Festival are gathering at the platform of the ascending line.
When I nonchalantly start people-watching, I spot the figure of a familiar tall boy.
Having spotted Hiwatari, who is wearing a black shirt, slacks and a knitted jacket with stripes, I unconsciously called out.
“Are you going to the Cultural Festival too, Hiwatari?”
“Yes, I suppose.”
I may have no right to say this of others, but Hiwatari’s replies are so short that it’s hard to continue the conversation. The awkwardness is difficult to bear.
Needless to say this of Kousaka and Sunohara, but even Sena and Takafumi are the talkative type, so it was fine for me to just listen. I believe I’m quite fortunate.
“Is there someone you know there?”
“Yes, well. My older brother formed a band.”
“My cousin will be playing in a band too. I wonder if it’s the same one?”
Hiwatari had a surprised expression when I told him the name of the band Takafumi belongs to. Seems like it’s the same band.
“Then, Hiwatari’s onii-san and my cousin are friends, huh.”
“That might be so. Still, we’ll definitely not make it at this rate.”
“That’s true, huh… I wanted to hear Takafumi-kun’s performance.”
The train still has not been fixed. We’re already plenty late at this point.
Takafumi will definitely look cool during the performance, huh. I lowered my gaze slightly.
“Do you like him so much? That ‘Takafumi-kun’?”
“Rather than ‘like’… well.”
Staring at my toes, I shifted them restlessly. Various feelings emerged when I recalled the time when I liked Takafumi.
Takafumi had been a truly cool person ever since we were young. He’s someone who’ll easily save me whenever I’m troubled. That’s why even if you ask me whether I like or dislike him now, it’s a definite ‘like’.
The feelings I have for him now are probably special. I absolutely don’t know if they’re romantic sentiments or affection for Takafumi, who’s an older-brother-like existence to me. But I carry much, much heavier feelings towards him than towards Sunohara or Sena.
“We apologise for the delay during busy times. Normal service will resume as of now.”
In the end, the service resumed after 26 minutes. There’s a thin line between whether I’ll make it or not for Takafumi’s performance. But I’ll be happy even if I can see only the ending.
“Let’s get on, Hiwatari.”
“Eh, are we going together?”
The two of us chatted this much together and are even going to the same place. Isn’t it strange if we don’t go together at this point?
“Well, it is not like we can’t.”
“Let’s go together then.”
His indecisive attitude is bothersome so I forcibly dragged him onto the train.
We spent 15 minutes being swayed on the train. It takes about 10 minutes to reach the university Takafumi attends from there. In the meantime, as I speak to Hiwatari, he replies in a distinct and clear-cut manner.
It’s past 10.40am when we reach the university. Takafumi’s band should have started already. I’ve to quickly get to the gymnasium that Takafumi and the others are performing at, but I don’t know where it is at all. I’m directionally-challenged. By the way, I can’t read maps either.
“Hiwatari, I don’t know the way.”
“Are you not holding a map?”
“I can’t read it.”
I hand him the pamphlet so that he can read the map.
Hiwatari reluctantly accepts the pamphlet and opens it to the page of the school map. After staring at that map for a while, Hiwatari points to the right of the main entrance.
“I believe it is this way.”
I follow behind Hiwatari who walks a couple of steps ahead.
“What’s Hiwatari’s onii-chan’s name?”
“It is Kaede.”
Thanks to Hiwatari’s guidance, I manage to reach the gymnasium in one piece. Folding chairs are arranged in the frontal half of the gymnasium, and most of those chairs are filled. A lot of people can also be seen standing and watching the performance in the back.
Looking at the stage, Takafumi stood slightly off-centre, a little towards the right, as he held a guitar. It isn’t the usual gentle and leisurely Takafumi; you can feel a wild manliness from him. That expression and attitude leave my heart thumping so much that there are tingles running down my spine. At the same time, I feel like crying because his existence feels so far away.
“Which one is Takafumi-san?”
Because I had been staring at Takafumi intently, I was unable to reply to Hiwatari’s words immediately.
Thinking that I can’t let him notice my uneasiness, I look up at Hiwatari who is standing next to me and do my best to smile.
“He’s the guitarist on the right. Which one is Hiwatari’s onii-san?”
“He’s the bassist. The one acting cool.”
“I see… he sure is cool. He resembles you, Hiwatari.”
Hiwatari made a strange face. My heart gradually calm down as I look at such a Hiwatari.
I’m aware that it’s weird for me to feel uneasy when I see a side of Takafumi I don’t know. I’m aware.
“Takamura-san resembles Takafumi-san too.”
“I resemble Takafumi-kun? … Is that so?”
I’d never paid much attention to that. In the first place, I never thought that we’d be similar.
My facial features are closer to the sharp-eyed side while perhaps due to his droopy eyes, Takafumi has kind-looking features. I’ve straight blue hair while Takafumi has curly, cream-coloured hair. Even our heights, builds and personalities are completely different.
Noticing that I’m making a dubious face, Hiwatari starts explaining as though it’s tiresome.
“It’s like… the feeling where you unnecessarily delve into others is completely the same.”
“… I see.”
It’s no-good because Hiwatari’s always honest with his words.
The band performance ends 15 minutes after my arrival. Although I couldn’t see much of it, I’m already fortunate to be able to catch it despite encountering an accident like the train delay.
I left the gymnasium after the performance ended, wanting to at least inform Takafumi that I came to watch it. If I wait at the door that directly connects to the stage’s wings, I should be able to meet Takafumi who’ll come out to move the instruments away or the like. I bring out my phone with the intention of leaving him a text. Hiwatari is standing right next to me. With how peppery he had been acting, I thought he’d leave the moment he finished listening to the performance.
The door open before I could text him. Hiwatari’s older brother, Kaede, and the band’s drummer exited from the stage’s wings.
“Oh, Shuuー! So you came after all. As expected of a tsundere~”
“Shuddap. It was senpai who brought me here!”
Just as I kinda watched Hiwatari who was getting his head rubbed by Kaede, he arbitrarily made it so that it was me who brought him here by force.
When I look at Hiwatari in an attempt to protest, he give me a glare that says: “Don’t say anything unnecessary!”
“Eh~, you, what -chan are you?”
“I am… Takamura Mahiro…”
“Mahiro-chan! I know. You’re Takafumi’s cousin, right! Uwaawaa, cute. What a cute face.”
Poke poke, he prod a ‘hole’ on my cheek with his index finger. He subsequently hugs me, and even rubs his cheek against mine.
This level of skinship rivals, or perhaps exceeds, Sunohara’s. My anger, embarrassment and the feeling that this is bothersome cross the boiling point and the insides of my head turn white. Question marks and exclamation marks alternately flits across my mind.
Even though his unruly ash-purple hair, fair skin, straw-like tall and thin build, facial features and atmosphere are identical to Hiwatari, the insides are completely different.
I gaze at Hiwatari, seeking for help.
Hiwatari gives a deep sigh and tug my arm, pulling me away from Kaede.
“What, so you were Shuu’s lover? Sorry about that.”
“We’re not lovers, I say. More importantly, I think Takamura-san is looking for Takafumi-san. Where’s Takafumi-san?”
“If it’s Takafumi, he’s still inside. Feel free to go in.”
I take Kaede’s advice and enter the backstage.
On the stage, the next band has already begun its performance. It seems that it’s a girl band this time.
The stage’s wings are dark and I can’t see clearly. When I blink several times and let my eyes adjust, I see Takafumi, together with a girl, further in. There aren’t any female members in Takafumi’s band. That girl’s definitely someone who’s allowed to watch Takafumi from the closest possible location, the stage’s wings.
Without noticing my presence, two of them are laughing together. I felt severely unsettled at how intimate they appear. The girl touches Takafumi’s shoulder as she smiles. Takafumi touches that girl’s hand gently.
And just like that, they exchange a kiss.
The instant I see their kiss, my heart hurts as though icicles are stabbed into it. A piercing pain and the sensation of the center of my body growing colder assaults me. I tremble.
Thinking that I can’t let them notice my unsettledness, I slowly back away and head out the door like that.
“Takamura-san, are you okay?”
“I was surprised. It sure is awkward to witness one’s relative kissing.”
When I give him a smile, Hiwatari let out a sigh so deep that it was unnatural.
“You’ve been forcing it since just now, you know? You don’t usually act so frivolous, right.”
“Even though you’re unsettled because Takafumi-san was taken by that girl. You’re hurt because an onii-chan you’re related to seemed like he was taken away, aren’t you.
Am I unsettled? If I’m unsettled, why so? I wonder why.
Do I like Takafumi romantically? Is that why I’m hurt?
My feelings are left abandoned in a dark and cold place. My feelings are left in a place so deep like the depths of hell. I’m afraid to go looking for them, but I can’t possibly leave them abandoned like this.
“I… am hurt?”
I probably like Takafumi. I didn’t want to admit it, but I can’t deceive myself anymore.
After all, I’m already in tears. I’m in tears because I’m anxious that Takafumi’s a couple with that girl.
Yes. For these 17 years, I’ve always liked Takafumi.
 An offstage area