46. The Ghost Is Being Chased
‘Please try to make Takuto laugh.’
There was no such impossible task in the original story.
My expectation was Keito Kiryuu would want to bring his younger brother Takuto and the ‘ghost’ together and let them talk. Because Keito wants them to get along. The three of them are too complicated, aren’t they?
That night, when I called Amamiya and told him about what had happened today, he laughed out loud. It would have been easy if Takuto were to laugh as quickly as Amamiya did.
“I was surprised that you met Kei, but I am even more surprised that you need to make Takuto laugh. It’s just that Takuto who didn’t laugh even when you made that weird face, you know?”
“No, that was not a weird face. I was just making that painful face because the wasabi cream frosting was so spicy.”
“Don’t just say ‘hmm?’”
I heard that I made a horrible face when I got a cupcake with wasabi cream frosting in the second tea ceremony room, but only Kiryuu didn’t laugh. I wonder what would make him laugh?
“And then, you wanted to thank Takuto for the pool’s incident, so you got involved with the sibling’s problem?”
“Well…something like that.”
“Sorry, but isn’t it going to be too difficult? It would be fine if it was the original story, but to make Takuto laugh is difficult.”
If it was the original story, there was no mission to make Kiryuu laugh. It’s not difficult to bring Kiryuu and the “ghost” together, so I thought even I could do it, but I didn’t expect this to happen.
“By the way, why doesn’t Takuto Kiryuu laugh?”
He is always stern, so I’ve never seen his kind expression. Even when Sumire said or did something strange in the second tea ceremony room, he furrowed his brows, and he didn’t smile like the others. The original story didn’t mention that either.
“…Because he was told to not laugh.”
I thought it was because of that older brother, but the original cause of the sibling’s mess was their parents. It was mentioned shortly in the original story, Kiryuu’s parents were expecting his older brother Keito and raised him strictly. He had to keep the top grades all the time. Otherwise it wouldn’t be forgiven. However, his younger brother, Takuto, was not raised as strictly as his older brother.
But that all changed one day.
“Kei, for a while, really closed his heart and stopped going to school.”
“That was mentioned a little bit in the original story, right?”
“Ah, now that you mention it, that’s true. At that time, Takuto was…around the third grade of elementary school, if I’m not mistaken. He was a cheerful child who attracted people around him. When Takuto desperately tried to cheer up his mother, who was shocked after Kei became like that, his mother said, “Why are you laughing when your older brother is like this? I don’t want to see your laughing face again.”
As far as I know, this is a story that was not mentioned in the original story. It’s possible that it happened after Maria’s incident or after the main story ended.
“At that time, Yuu and I visited Kiryuu family to check on the Kei situation and heard it by accident. Then Takuto stopped laughing and was told by his parents to take Kei’s place and has been doing his best since then.”
“Did they get along well?”
“Hmm, I wonder. I think they had a complex relationship with each other.”
Keito, the older brother, had no freedom and was expected to be perfect. Takuto, the younger brother, was cheerful and attractive. Because they are two completely different people, they may have harbored a sense of inferiority towards each other.
“So, are you going to get involved in their issue?”
“…I’m just repaying my debt.”
I don’t have any intention to get along with Kiryuu, but I want to properly return the debt when he saved me at the pool. At that time, Kiryuu really saved me. Because I understand the circumstance and the future to some extent, there should be something that I can do.
Besides, it’s not only a problem for those two, but also for another person.
“…Why is Amamiya thanking me?”
“Even if our relationship is just like the original story, Takuto and the others are important friends for me.”
I could hear the kindness in his voice, and I could tell through the phone that he really meant it.
“But well, it may be too heavy to entrust you with something that neither me and Yuu…or that girl could do.”
“Please don’t entrust it to me. Because I’m just going to do what I can do.”
Amamiya laughed at my response. I couldn’t see his face, so I couldn’t be sure exactly what he meant, but I felt it.
“I have an early morning tomorrow too. I better go.”
“Ah, you have make-up classes tomorrow too, right?”
“…I’m hanging up.”
“Sorry, sorry. Well then, goodnight.”
Amamiya is still annoying like usual, and I don’t know what he is thinking. But it’s a little bit of a relief to have someone who I can talk to without being careful what I say.
A gentle night breeze blew through the open window as if the heat in the day had been a lie. The lace curtains waved, revealing the night sky cut out and peeking through the window frame.
After tomorrow’s make-up classes, let’s go see the ‘ghost.’ If Keito is there, there is a good chance she will come.
The next day, after finishing my lonely make-up classes, I went to the counseling room again, and as expected, he was there again.
“Even though it’s summer vacation, you’re still going to school?”
“I have to take make-up classes in July because of my attendance. You’re the one who goes to school even though it’s summer vacation.”
“I’m here for the food,” I said to Keito, who smiled wickedly with one corner of his mouth lifted. I would poke at his lunch again. When Keito saw that I had brought chopsticks, he was slightly taken aback.
I thought I might get a compliment, but his cold eyes told me, ‘If you’re going to bring chopsticks, then bring your own lunch.’ The Kiryuu family’s food is very delicious so I wanted to eat it again.
“I had a different image of the daughter of the Kumoriwashi family.”
“Oh my, what do you mean by that? I will have this Japanese braised chicken and vegetables.”
“That kind of thing.”
“I don’t understand. I’ll take the last shrimp.”
“No, I wanted that, though.”
Hmm. It was soaked in flavor and delicious! I wonder if Japanese food is the Kiryuu family’s basic food? I like French food, but Japanese food is also the best.
“So, have you come up with a way to make him laugh?”
I stopped my chopsticks at that question.
If it were that easy to come up with, he wouldn’t have asked me to make his younger brother laugh.
It would be too absurd to ask someone like me, whom he just met, to do it so suddenly. To begin with, it’s not like I’m close to your younger brother, anyway.
“I can’t think of anything. Don’t you know more about his humor than I do?”
“I don’t know. Because we rarely talk.”
The words he said so casually were not harsh or sad, but I could tell that it was true.
Maybe these people didn’t spend that much time like siblings.
“I don’t know what makes Takuto happy. I only know what makes ‘that person’ happy.”
…That person, eh. He is not talking about Takuto Kiryuu when he says that.
“If you don’t eat soon, I’m going to eat everything, but I wonder if that’s okay?”
“There is no way it’s okay! What are you doing eating like a squirrel in front of people while they’re talking!? Are you glutton?”
Oh, no. I was careful not to eat like this because my mother would scold me, but I had stuffed my mouth unconsciously.
“What’s wrong with you? Hey, there’s rice on your face. Not that! It’s right!”
Ah, it’s true. There was a grain of rice on the right side of my mouth.
He unexpectedly had a bad mouth and was rude. But well, it’s probably easier for me to deal with people like that. Sometimes I get tired of talking to people who are just giggling hehehe hahaha. The flower party is especially hellish. When the ladies tickle each other, it makes my stomach hurt.
The other day, one of the girls said, “Well, what a lovely hair clip. It looks like the one I used to wear when I was in elementary school, hahaha.” I think I heard a voice behind me saying, “So lame. The hair clip looks like a kid, Gyahaha.”
“No, get the rice off your face.”
“Do you hate Takuto Kiryuu?”
Keito’s movement stops at my question.
In that pause, I take the rice from my mouth and eat it.
“…What about you? What do you think about Takuto?”
“I don’t have any special feelings for Takuto Kiryuu or you, but I owe Takuto Kiryuu, so I’m on his side.”
Keito put down his chopsticks while laughing at himself.
He slowly looked around as if remembering something, then let out a small sigh and returned his gaze to me.
“For me, he is my younger brother. Nothing more, nothing less.”
In short, he is an important family member to him. Even though there is a rift between them and they are not close, he will always be his family.
“I guess your family is more like siblings than ours.”
“Siblings have their own way, so there is no right or wrong.”
Right after I said that, I heard strange footsteps and a disturbing yell, “Gyaaa,” then Keito and I looked at each other.
I left the counseling room to see what was going on, and when I looked down the hallway—I saw a scene that left me speechless.
“Hahahaha! Wait for me! Ghost!”
For some reason, Sumire was running towards us with a bug net, and someone was running away while hiding their face with a black cloth. In the back of the room, Hitomi was standing behind with a bored look on her face, and there was an insect cage at her feet.
“There is an idiot.”
“That’s a moron.”
Keito and I were watching the scene.
“It’s coming this way.”
“…Is that, your acquaintance?”
I don’t really want to say that I know her. After all, does anyone usually want to catch a ghost? Moreover, using a bug net!? Sumire’s way of thinking is too weird, though!
What should I do? She’s getting closer here. I was lucky to meet the ghost, but I didn’t expect this to happen.
Perhaps sensing the danger, Keito quickly hid behind a wall. Wait a minute, I want to hide too.
“Maria! That’s the ghost! Catch it! Do repetitive side-steps or something and make sure to not let it get away!”
When Sumire noticed me, she pointed at the ghost running in front of her with a look of victory on her face.
What is that girl talking about? I’m good at repetitive side-steps! But, I will be pulled into this ghost chase. No, that’s not it!
“Hey, I think she called your name, though. You know each other after all.”
I grabbed Keito, who was hiding behind the wall, by the neck and stopped him from running to the counseling room because he wanted to stay out of trouble. It can’t be helped anymore now that this happened. Let’s get Sumire and the others to help us.
“I won’t let you get away!”
You don’t want others to know that you’re here, right? Well, of course, you probably want to get away before the troublesome Sumire, and the others find you. I guess that’s probably why he hid behind the wall right away. But I can’t let you get away from here.
I was just about to turn around when I heard footsteps nearby.
I was tackled vigorously from behind and fell together with Keito while grabbing him by the neck. In those few seconds, my vision was covered by something thin and white.
From my dim vision covered with white, I found myself on the floor with the bug net over my head, Keito underneath me, and a shivering, pale “ghost” right next to me,
…Sumire, I won’t forgive you.