Crime, Punishment, Atonement, and Farewell
“…You’re more honest than I thought.”
When I gave my approval to the request for cooperation, Shiho looked reluctant.
I told her that I would help her, but I didn’t expect her to look at me like this. …I guess she’s not very comfortable with me after all…
“I wonder if you have something unpleasant on your mind … I haven’t even explained the details yet, but you’re being too cooperative, which is counter-intuitively suspicious.
She looked uneasy, but of course I wasn’t playing any tricks on her.
I just wanted to get closure on my feelings.
“That’s outrageous…, I’m not as bad a person as you think, okay?”
Shiho may only think of me as an enemy, and she may perceive me as a brute and a jerk.
But I’m not as evil as she thinks I am.
I can say that with confidence.
“It’s just that I’m less self-absorbed and less aware of other people’s feelings than most people. I may choose to say or do bad things as a result, but I’m not doing bad things because I want to.”
“…You surprise me. You’re aware that you’re that kind of person, aren’t you?”
“No? It’s just that Shiho told me, so I guess I am.”
I’m not aware of my abnormality.
If Shiho had not told me so, I would have recognized myself as a normal person.
Even when Nakayama told me something similar, I did not believe it at all. I had always thought of myself as an ordinary person.
But because Shiho says so,… I can accept it when someone I like says that to me.
Her evaluation is ‘absolute’ for me.
“You accept it because it was said by me? I don’t understand that …”
“… You don’t have to understand … Shiho. These are just stupid feelings.”
It’s not that I want to be understood.
I don’t want to tell Shiho how I feel now.
Of course, to date her…, and so on. Or to want to be lovers. I don’t have any such thoughts at the moment.
Strangely enough, I had no ulterior motives now.
I just love Shiho and have decided that it is time to put an end to those feelings.
In other words, this was a parting gift.
No, or perhaps it would be better to describe it as atonement.
Or perhaps it could be expressed as “penance”.
(This is the first and the last time… Let’s put an end to this feeling by inscribing the proof and the memory of having fallen in love with Shiho.)
I wanted to be a “good person” for Shiho at least for the last time.
It doesn’t matter if it is a ‘convenient person’.
I didn’t want to end up as “someone she didn’t like”.
After all, it was my first love. If it is going to end anyway, I want to make it as good as possible.
Ideally, I would be very happy if … Shiho thought, “Ryuzaki-kun has some good qualities, doesn’t he?”
I know it’s late, but I would be … very happy if she regretted even refusing my confession.
Well, I know.
That’s not going to happen.
Because Shiho is not very fond of me.
“Hey, I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while now,… would you please stop calling me that?”
…See. I knew it.
“I don’t feel very comfortable being so familiar with you just because we’ve known each other since childhood. There is only one person besides my family… who can call me by that name.”
The clear rejection shattered even the faintest of my dreams.
I could only chuckle at the unrelenting disgust.
(I guess this is my punishment for all the “sins” I’ve committed.)
I had always trampled on other people’s feelings, so it was only natural that the person I loved the most would hate me.
I can’t do anything about it now.
So, let’s at least … make up for it a little and lighten the sin.
“I understand. I will no longer call you Shiho …”
Once again, I told myself.
This is the last time I’m going to be involved with Shiho.
“… What should I do, …. Shimotsuki?”
I call her so in a stranger’s manner.
I say it, but I don’t feel any different.
Because that is the appropriate distance between me and her.
There is no loneliness. No regret.
It just became clear to me.
If I were to put it another way, it could be called ‘it feels right’.
It was probably the same for Shiho.
“Yes, well done… Then, I’ll tell you what I want you to do.”
For the first time, Shiho softened her expression toward me.
It was a slight smile, but it was so slight that it couldn’t even be described as a smile.
(…After all, a smile suits Shiho.)
But that alone made me very happy.
I’m going to be her puppet…
The pawn named Ryoma Ryuzaki is once again intervening in the romantic comedy between Kotaro Nakayama and Shiho Shimotsuki.
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