Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly ~ Kagiha Interlude ~

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(Welcome back from Kagiha’s route. WASN’T THAT FUN!? Now we get to have happy-cute times… hopefully. There’s also an important episode that we need to read about first before tackling other interlude scenes. Also, I may shove some extra childhood scenes here because organizing these short episodes are hard and I don’t know which one belongs to which character (>A<;) MERCY ON ME GAME. Also, cookies to everyone who has managed to follow my crazy posting style for this game. PS. This CG sums up my feelings for Kagiha.)

SPOILERS AHEAD. So many spoilers. We’re going to start off with the biggest of them all right at the beginning.

*** PROMISE OF MARRIAGE (結婚の約束)***

Natsuki, her childhood friend, and her used to pluck flowers at a nearby dried riverbed. They looked for wild-olives and horsetails. They also enjoyed playing hide-and-seek and tag with everyone. But she loved looking for new plants with just her and Natsuki. Natsuki, who was older than her, knew a lot of things and would teach her the names of the flowers or grasses that she didn’t know. Whenever she said things like him being amazing and knowing a ton of things like an older brother, he would just smile and reply that this wasn’t the case and she knows a lot of things that he doesn’t know. She loved seeing that gentle smile on him and it was like being exposed to the sun.

Today, Natsuki suggests they look for a four-leafed clover. Ai repeats the name slowly and then asks if such a plant exists? Natsuki states that it does and tells her that the name of the clover in Japanese is the “white clover”. So saying that, he crouches down and starts to look for something. He finds what he’s looking for and then shows her what a clover looks like. Ai tells him that she’s seen these plants before!

Natsuki explains that normally these things have three leaves but occasionally there will be four-leafed ones. She asks him if that’s what a four-leafed clover is. He nods before also telling her that they’re symbols of good luck overseas. She repeats his words thoughtfully before asking him if they’ll have good luck if they find one. He laughs before agreeing that they might. She pouts since it’s only a possibility. But he points out that they’re like protective charms and something good might happen if she has one.

In that case Ai thinks they should work hard to find one then. It’d also be nice to find some for Haruka and her father. Natsuki laughs at how they’re in a hard situation since they need so many, and then suggests they split up to search. He’s going to search the front and she can search over there; he points to a spot a few meters away.

She agrees before telling him to call her if he finds a four-leafed clover. She’ll do the same. He agrees to reporting it if either one of them finds one. She tells him that she’s going to go over there now then. He wishes her luck. She gives a large nod and then walks over to her spot.

It’s been around 30 minutes since they started searching for a four-leafed clover but Ai pouts as she finds another three-leafed one. She doesn’t know how many times she’s repeated the same thing of picking up a clover and feeling the anticipating of this one being the one only to encounter another three-leafed one. She didn’t think it would be this difficult to find a four-leafed clover, but she realizes that this is why it’s considered good luck to find one. She wonders if Natsuki has found one.

Curious, Ai throws a glance over in his direction. But she can only see his messy hair appearing and disappearing in the middle of the field. It doesn’t look like she can see whether or not he’s found a four-leafed clover. She wonders if they can search together since looking for it alone is… kind of lonely. For a little bit she thinks on how she wants to search together, but she’s embarrassed to call out to him on her own. She’ll try looking some more on her own. Ai lowers herself again and resumes the search for a four-leafed clover.

In the end, she looked all over her large area and, fearing that she might have overlooked it, she went over the same area again and again. But she didn’t find one. Not even a single one. She thought that there’d be at least one. Suddenly, Natsuki asks her if she found one. She turns around at his voice to find that he’s standing behind her. Ai shakes her head and reports that she didn’t find a single one. How about him?

Natsuki exhales heavily before saying that, even though he worked hard, he didn’t find one either. She frowns at the fact that he didn’t find one either. He admits that he thought they’d find at least one in such a large place. Ai agrees but it looks like four-leaf clovers are just that precious. She would have liked a symbol of fortune though. Upon seeing her shoulders drop, Natsuki has a troubled expression.

He apologizes for not being able to find one. Ai quickly shakes her head and reassures that it’s not his fault. Next time, if they search in another place they might find one. He cheers up at that and agrees to search for it next time again. But he also has a present for her, though it’s not a four-leafed clover. She becomes excited and asks him what it is. He hesitates before asking her to hold out her left hand. Ai nods hesitantly and then timidly holds out her hand while wondering what it’ll be.

And then, Natsuki places a ring on her ring finger. It was a ring carefully created by weaving the stalks of white clovers together. Ai is amazed and then asks if he made this. Natsuki nods and then admits that he wanted to present it with a four-leaf clover too but they couldn’t find one… so he just made this. She’s touched by how he went out of his way to make this for her and thanks him sincerely. He’s just happy that she’s so pleased. He really wanted to give this to her.

Ai tells him that this is the first time she received such a lovely present and she’ll treasure it. But then she realizes that it’ll wilt soon because it’s made out of flowers. How can she make it so that it’ll always be on her? Natsuki thinks that might be difficult. She’s disappointed upon hearing that. He quickly reassures her that when he grows up he’ll present to her a ring that won’t wither. She repeats his words in confusion.

Natsuki stutters out that he’s not sure how to explain about how he wants to present a proper ring. Embarrassment is written across his face as he finally tells her that he wants to give her a marriage ring. Ai accidentally exclaims in surprise since it was so unexpected. Because marriage… marriage means becoming like her mother and father, right!? She’s never thought about that and so she’s so surprised that she freezes.

He hesitantly asks if she doesn’t want to. Ai shakes her head quickly and tells him that she’s happy; it was just so unexpected that she was surprised. She’s ecstatic but her heart is pounding and she’s not sure how to properly tell him that. He smiles widely 「良かった。じゃあ、改めて言うね。大きくなったら・・・。僕と、結婚して下さい。」(I’m glad. Then I’ll say it again. When we’re bigger… let’s get married).

Natsuki kneels and takes her left hand before squeezing it. She can feel his hand grow warm. Under his stare, she somehow feels embarrassed but nods with all her might. She tells him that she will. He exhales in relief and admits that he wouldn’t know what to do if she refused. She tells him that she wouldn’t and then once again promises to treasure this ring. Even if it withers, she’ll place it in her treasure box so she doesn’t want him to forget their promise. He tells her that he won’t, of course, and he expects the same from her. She promises never to forget.

And then she recalls something and asks him to wait here for a moment. He tilts her head and asks what she’s doing. She tells him that she’ll also give him a present. He hurriedly tells her that it isn’t necessary and he’s happy just from her accepting his gift. Ai is firm on how she wants to give him one though and asks him to wait here. She’ll come back immediately! Natsuki reassures her that he’ll be here waiting until she comes back and he looks forward to her present then.

Ai nods and then hurries back to the area that she had just been in. She also wants to give Natsuki a ring. But making it in front of him is embarrassing and so she’ll do it away from him. She stumbles through making one. She was taught how to make a ring by her mother in the past but she can barely remember it. And because she wants to quickly give him it, she doesn’t make a very good one. Many white clovers were sacrificed until she finally creates a ring that she’s satisfied with.

Now she needs to return to where Natsuki is. She turns and waves at him. He smiles and waves back. She calls out to him as she runs over because she wants to be with him again as soon as possible. Even though they’re only separated by a few meters, it feels like a long distance. She tells him loudly that she wants to give him this! Natsuki is surprised to see a ring. His eyes are wide when she holds it out to him.

Ai nods before acknowledging that it’s not as good as the one he gave he. She explains to him how she thought about men having rings too, like her father, and so she thinks Natsuki should have one too. Natsuki is amazed by it and thanks her sincerely. He smiles without restraint and his eyes crinkle. Somehow, she becomes even happier seeing Natsuki, who is usually calm, smile like this. He asks if she’ll be the one to put the ring on him then.

She nods and then slowly slides the ring on his left hand that he holds out. She pauses though when she realizes that she made the ring too large for his ring finger. Natsuki points out that it’ll fit if they place it on another finger and now they match! The ring ends up being placed on his middle finger and he smiles softly as he shows it to her. Ai laughs in delight at how they look like marriage rings.

Natsuki tells her that, when they’re bigger, he’s going to come for her with a real ring. Will she wait until then? Ai promises to wait until he comes. He promises that he’ll definitely come for her. She notices that the atmosphere around him seems a bit different from usual. For a second, the look on his face resembles that of an adult, and it makes him seem like another person.

Anyway, time passes until Natsuki points out that the day is getting dark and they should head home. Ai nods and, without either one of them asking, they hold hands and walk through the park. She can feel him squeeze her hand and she likes holding hands with him. While looking at the side of Natsuki’s face as he walks slightly ahead of her, she wonders about what kind of dress she’ll wear for the wedding. A white tuxedo would suit Natsuki. That’s all she thought about.

Even after returning home, she continues to look at the ring on her left hand. She doesn’t want to remove it and wants to wear it always and forever. It feels like if she were to remove it then the spell would come undone and everything that happened today would disappear. In the morning, during breakfast, she continues to look at her left hand despite her father looking at her with a suspicious expression. She was so happy that she didn’t even notice this. She thought on how nice it’d be if she were to become an adult tomorrow. The smile on Natsuki’s face as he promised her that he’d definitely come for her won’t leave her mind. In flower language, white clover means “promise”. That’s something she learned much later.

*** HAPPENING (ハプニング)***

Desiring someone to save her from this place. It’s not that she never thought about this once. She has companions and a vague objective. If they complete the kaleidoscope then they might be able to leave this place. When she thinks about that, rather than lament and desire to be saved, it’d be better for her to act. But if her footing were to crumble even just once then the small peace that she has will be torn. And at that time she might want someone to save her… someone’s kindness… she might start hoping for that no matter what.

It’s night and the rain is echoing. Beniyuri has just finished her preparations to sleep and is about to lie down on her bed to sleep. But something in the corner of her vision seems to struggle frantically. A white butterfly? White butterflies are always floating around her room but she’s never seen one struggle before like today, as if it were in pain. She rises from her bed and sees that its wings seem to be caught on a high decoration.

Ah, she needs to save it! She can’t reach it from the ground and so she stands on her bed and tries to touch the lamp at the top. Can she reach it from here? Even while standing on her tiptoes to extend her reach she can’t touch it. Upon seeing her fingers suddenly appear the butterfly is surprised and flaps wildly, glittering. She tells it that she’s rescuing it and asks for it not to move. But her words don’t reach it and its wings continue to flap strongly and wildly.

Beniyuri is worried that it’ll hurt its wings at this rate and asks for it to wait as she tries to do something right now. She stretches again in a panic and, at that moment, she yelps loudly as she falls to the ground with a spectacular sound. She winces in pain but luckily it doesn’t seem like she’s injured, though her body aches. At the same time, she hears someone’s frantic footsteps from somewhere.

Kagiha slams open her door and calls out her name worriedly. She looks up in surprise. He tells her that he heard a large noise and asks if she’s okay!? She greets him, still surprised, before apologizing for falling. But this just makes him more shocked. She fell?! Is she okay? Is she hurt!? She explains that she fell from her bed and doesn’t seem to be injured. She also collided with the wall and was surprised by how loud it was… but she shows him that she’s unhurt, see?

He’s relieved at that and, after exchanging a look with her, exhales largely… or at least, he was going to except he suddenly yelps out her name. At the same time that he calls our her name, he averts his head with great force. She blinks in surprise and asks him what the matter is. He stutters out that her clothes… moreover, her skirt…! She echoes his words before following the direction his finger is pointing in to finally realize that her skirt has ridden high.

Beniyuri fixes it hurriedly but it’s already too late; when she looks at Kagiha’s face again, even his ears are red. She apologies in a flustered voice for letting him see such a messy thing. He shakes his head and apologizes on his end because he didn’t knock before entering a woman’s room. She points out that he came because he was worried and so he didn’t do anything wrong! He shakes his head more though and believes that he should have been more careful. He’s really sorry.

She realizes that, at this point, no matter how many times they both apologize they’ll still be worried about it. It’s really regrettable. Kagiha smiles awkwardly and comments on how the night is late and so he’ll excuse himself now. He apologizes again to her. She tells him again not to worry about it, but then suddenly realizes something. He freezes and asks her hesitantly what the matter is.

Beniyuri recalls why she fell down in the first place and asks him for a favor to rescue the butterfly. He has a confused expression on his face at her words but he follows the direction her finger is pointing in and immediately notices it. He realizes that it’s caught and asks to borrow a chair. She nods immediately and watches as he stands on it and brings his face close to the light. He whispers quietly to the butterfly that he’s going to touch it a bit. He reassures it that he’s not going to capture it and so it’ll just have to endure his touch.

As if responding to his gentle voice, the butterfly’s wings calm. It slows until it finally comes to a complete rest and Beniyuri watches this entire thing while holding her breath. And then, in a blink, the butterfly is freed. Kagiha smiles and tells it that it’s fine now before the butterfly flies up into the room, circling around as if in happiness. He watches it with a smile. Beniyuri comments on how it feels like the butterfly is overjoyed. He chuckles and agrees.

And then she remarks on how amazing it is that he’s kind even to butterflies. His brows furrow as he asks her if it’s strange? She shakes her head and tells him that she just thought it was amazing. Because he spoke to it gently, she felt like the butterfly was able to entrust its body to him with ease. He thinks she’s exaggerating and, besides, the first one to notice the butterfly’s dilemma and need to be saved was her. She laughingly points out that she fell though.

Kagiha thinks they can just call that a proof of her passion. At any rate, he also thinks that she’s kind. She thinks his ability to follow up on compliments is also another point to his kindness. He suddenly tells her that she should call for him the next time this happens, since he’s sure to be of help. She nods and promises to. She feels at ease knowing that there’s a person she can rely on and Kagiha’s words are immeasurably warm and gentle.

And then Kagiha tells her hesitantly that he might be overstepping here but… she tilts her head worriedly. He gives her a sheepish smile before pointing at his own hair as he tells her that her hair is in quite a state. He thinks she might want to neaten it. Beniyuri stiffens before patting at her head wildly. Kagiha hurriedly tells her not to be so frantic before she falls again. She points out that he said it was in quite a state, right!? It’d be embarrassing if she continues to be such a disgraceful sight but… she realizes that it’s already too late.

Kagiha looks down and apologizes again but he thought that it might be better for him to point it out before she realized later and became even more embarrassed. Beniyuri sighs loudly and comments on how she’s happy at how kind he is but it also hurts. He smiles and tries to reassure by saying that he thinks her clumsy side is also cute! She thanks him sulkily but right now his encouragements aren’t landing. He quietly murmurs that he was serious though… and then he wishes her a good night.

She nods and returns his good night. She sees him out and, after closing the door, slips into her bed while feeling completely embarrassed. And then, half asleep and half awake, she recalls the butterfly that they rescued. Where did it go after that? After it’s small show of gratitude, did it return to its own flock? She doesn’t know where the butterfly went. All the butterflies are just as white and elegant. It’s impossible to distinguish one.

But even now she thinks that small butterfly is feeling fortunate at having been saved. She wishes for that butterfly to continue flying energetically. She wishes for it to be able to dance together with its companions. She closes her eyes while wishing that.

*** SENIOR AND JUNIOR (年上と年下)***

They have no memories of their past. Due to the repair of the kaleidoscope, they regained a portion of their memories but it’s all fragmented. What kind of people were they? What did they do while they were alive? Trying to live without knowing any of that is unpleasant. That’s why, during her free time and just before sleeping, she thinks on what her name is, her age, and her address. But she doesn’t know. Even though she tries to think on it, she doesn’t have any answers. And so it’s fun to guess about other people so that they wouldn’t have to be troubled about themselves. At any rate, it wasn’t like they were going to be correct. They’re able to imagine and talk about it comfortably. With these feelings, they had a friendly chat on that day.

Karasuba, who had been drinking his coffee leisurely, suddenly mutters absently under his breath that “Karasuba” is a bit grim for a name but what if his real name was “Yamada Ichitarou”, then what would he do? THIS LEVEL OF JAPANESE COMPREHENSION IS BEYOND ME. I MEAN KARASUBA DOES SOUND DARK CAUSE IT’S LIKE “CROW WINGS”. BUT I DUNNO ABOUT THE OTHER ONE. UPDATE: I HAVE JUST BEEN TOLD BY FRIENDS THAT YAMADA ICHITAROU IS A SUPER COMMON NAME LIKE “JOHN SMITH”.

For a second Beniyuri thinks he’s joking but she sees his serious profile and realizes that he’s not. She asks him why he suddenly brought this up and that name isn’t so bad, right? He retorts loudly that it’s not good. It’s not cool at all! Kagiha enters the conversation and says that he feels like it’d be precious. Karasuba shakes his head violently and says that he’d change his name in that case. It’s Yamada! Ichitarou!?

Beniyuri tries to imagine Kagiha with the name “Yamada Ichitarou” and thinks that it’d be a gentle name. Karasuba thinks that’s the impression of the person himself rather than the name. She becomes sheepish as she realizes that in her mind, Kagiha equals a kind person already. Kagiha thinks she has a point and that while names are said to represent a person, he thinks the opposite happens too where someone hears a name and thinks that it suits that person. Beniyuri agrees; she feels like Kagiha will have a gentle name no matter what.

Karasuba asks Beniyuri to try imagining a name for him then. She’s startled and tries to come up with one by thinking of all his various points but a name doesn’t come to mind. She mumbles a few names like “Tanaka”, “Suzuki”, “Takahashi”, and “Satou”. Kagiha is amused by her difficulty. Karasuba cheers her on and then prompts her for a name. She blurts out something that sounds like “Akarui, Jordan-kun”. Karasuba is struck speechless before asking weakly if that’s a foreign name.

Beniyuri points out that it’s impossible! She doesn’t know his name! At her surrender, Karasuba rests his chin on his hands with a sullen expression. It looks like he was really looking forward to a name. Kagiha tries to soothe them by saying that there’s a high degree of difficulty in getting the right name. How about they try guessing ages? Karasuba thinks that’s easy and Beniyuri is probably around his age. She tilts her head at that. He explains that his intuition is telling him that.

She asks Karasuba about Kagiha’s age then. Karasuba shrugs. Kagiha calmly states that Karasuba has no desire to guess his age, huh. Karasuba explains that a difference of ages between males doesn’t matter but a difference of one or two years with a female is like a problem of life or death. L O L. Kagiha echoes his words about it not mattering… but he can understand the severity of the situation with women.

Beniyuri hums in thought before declaring that she thinks Kagiha is older than them. Kagiha asks her why she thinks that. She explains that his manner and bearing is gentle like an adult and his entire atmosphere just seems older. Kagiha gives her a small smile and thanks her, since hearing that makes him a bit happy. Karasuba excitedly asks her for his age. Beniyuri blinks in surprise and repeats that they’re around the same age, no?

Karasuba tells her that he’d like to hear it from her mouth, whether he’s a reliable senior or a cute junior. She thinks over the words “reliable” and “cute” before stating helplessly that he just feels like the same age. Karasuba mumbles lowly that it feels like he brought calamity to himself. At any rate, Beniyuri asks Kagiha who he thinks is the oldest.

He doesn’t know since he hasn’t thought about it but he thinks it’d be fun if they were all around the same age. They’d be able to gather together, attend the same school, same classroom, and receive the same lessons. He stops there before murmuring that it’s just a wild idea. AT FIRST YOU’RE LIKE “AH YEAH HE’S JUST IMAGINING THINGS BECAUSE THEY’RE TRAPPED” BUT IF YOU THINK ABOUT HOW HE PROBABLY HAS ALL OF HIS MEMORIES AND HAS BEEN HERE FOR YEARS… OH MY GOD.

Beniyuri shakes her head and thinks it sounds exciting! It’d be more interesting that way. Kagiha only smiles weakly at her strange reaction but she really thinks it’s a good idea. Karasuba suddenly grumbles about how imagining these have no purpose since they can’t return home right now. Beniyuri hesitantly gives him that point.

Karasuba wants to talk about something more constructive, like… what type of person does she like? She jolts at that sudden question. He smirks and says that it seems like a valuable experience to have a type of person they like appear in their mind when they don’t have many memories. Kagiha actually agrees and finds it interesting since it involves the deep psyche. He also asks her what kind of person she likes.

Beniyuri can’t believe he’s asking too but she falls quiet to seriously consider their question. Karasuba suggests for her to start with liking older, younger, or same age people. She startles at that before hesitantly answering that she thinks she’d feel at ease with an older and calmer person. Karasuba gapes at her; she likes older men?! She quickly corrects him to say that she just feels like an older person would be like that! A younger person would have an energetic and fun image. Meanwhile, she’d be able to converse with a person her age.

Karasuba asks weakly what this means. Beniyuri explains that it means she doesn’t care for age if she likes someone. Kagiha asks if this applies to any age? Karasuba follows up by asking if she’d like a really old grandpa or a young kid. GUYS NO. She weakly stands by her point that if she likes them… then it doesn’t matter. Karasuba averts his eyes and hums. Kagiha thinks this shows that she’s the adult here. Karasuba thinks that’s unfair since he can’t say anything to her words.

Beniyuri doesn’t know if she’d agree with his words, but then she asks them about their type. Karasuba instantly replies that his type is Beniyuri! Kagiha also says that he would like a person like her too. She tells them that they don’t have to be courteous. Karasuba recoils in dismay at how she’s not taking it seriously. Kagiha adds that it’s sad not being able to convey one’s feelings. Beniyuri asks for them to stop saying things that she doesn’t know whether to take as a joke or seriously. Karasuba grumbles at how this is why Beniyuri is… Kagiha murmurs that they need to work hard to make her treat them seriously.

If they are able to chat comfortably like this then their lack of memories won’t be as painful. More importantly, she thinks that it wipes away the impatience in her heart by showing her that she’s not alone. She continued talking with Karasuba and Kagiha, changing topics many times, until it was time for dinner.

*** I WISH I COULD SEE YOU (会えたらいいのに)***

How many years has it been since her mother died? Her mother died soon after giving birth to her younger sister, Haruka. Haruka doesn’t know what their mother looks like and, because she’s young, she doesn’t seem to know what “death” means. But when she goes to her friends house or when other aunties come to visit, she seems envious. She’ll ask why they don’t have a mama in the house. Their father would have a troubled expression and return warmly that their mother has gone to a far away place. And Haruka believed that.

After that, she asked them every day about when mother would return. Their father would smile wryly and answer that she wouldn’t be coming home for a while… of course, that day would never come. But even she didn’t know how to explain that to Haruka. Whenever she was asked the same question, she could only smile wryly and answer that their mother would return one day. But, slowly, as Haruka continued to innocently ask this question she started to feel something heavy settle on her.

She herself hasn’t wanted to accept the fact that their mother isn’t in this world any longer. She wanted to believe that their mother would return one day just like Haruka. But she’s the older sister and so there’s no way she could tell Haruka to stop asking that question because it hurts. And that’s why, even today, she smiles and lies. But on that day Haruka threw a tantrum and wouldn’t accept that answer. She slowly became irritated.

Haruka angrily accuses her sister and father of always saying that mother is going to return home “one day”. Why is it only their house which doesn’t have a mother? Erica has one and Itsuki! Ai tries to tell her patiently that even she and their father doesn’t know when. If Haruka is a good girl then their mother will surely return. Haruka calls her a liar. She’s always been a good girl but their mother has never returned! her sister and father say that mother is going to return “one day”.

Ai tries to soothe her but Haruka interrupts and starts shouting out that she wants to see mother and she wants to be hugged! Ai tells her that she’ll give her one as an older sister and asks Haruka to come to her. But Haruka slaps Ai’s hands away. Ai is dumbfounded at being completely rejected by Haruka.

Haruka continues to throw a tantrum about not wanting a sister. She doesn’t want anyone but her mother! She cries out for her mother and asks where she is. She wants her to come back! GODS I SYMPATHIZE BUT PLEASE STOP SCREAMING. I HATE CHILDREN. Ai desperately tries to get Haruka to stop crying, but Haruka continues to cry loudly. It echoes loudly in Ai’s mind. She continues to try and plead with Haruka to stop crying but Haruka refuses to listen to her.

Her crying becomes very loud and it makes Ai want to crouch down and cover her ears. Shut up, shut up, shut up! In her mind, Ai is frustrated because she wants to cry and she’s hurting too! It’s not fair that only Haruka can do this. These feelings well up inside of her. Finally, she snaps and calls Haruka an idiot and claims that she doesn’t know her anymore as a sibling. She’s standing up and shouting this before she realizes.

Because of her own angry voice, Haruka’s cries become even more inflamed. Ai hurts just from hearing Haruka cry and so she leaves her and runs out of the house. It’s fine that she leaves the house but she has no idea where to go. Before she knows it her feet have carried her to the park. Ai sighs and wonders out loud what she’s doing. She takes a seat on the swings and gives a large sigh. She feels guilty for getting angry at Haruka who is still young.

But she’s already given up and she wasn’t able to endure any more of that. She herself would like to see her mother. Just thinking that makes her tears start to drop one by one. And then, like a dam that has been burst, her tears overflow. She continues to cry to the point where she forgets to even wipe her tears. Why is she the only one that has to endure this? She is sad too and she wants to see their mother too…

Just because she’s the older sister, why does she have to work so hard? She doesn’t want to do this anymore… In the sunset, and encroaching darkness, it feels like she’s hidden away; she can spill the tears that she had been holding back without hesitation. Doing this also made her feel like she’s the world’s most unfortunate person and even more tears spill from that.

Suddenly, a voice calls out and asks her what’s wrong. A long shadow stretches in front of the swings and her eyes. The owner of that shadow is her childhood friend, Natsuki. She mumbles out his name sadly which makes him ask her why she’s crying and if she hurts anywhere. Ai quickly tells him that it’s nothing and she’s fine. But Natsuki points out that it can’t be nothing because her eyes are red, like a rabbit. She asks him in a startled voice if it really looks that bad.

Natsuki nods and also points out that her face is covered in tears. He tells her to wipe her tears and hands her a handkerchief. She thanks him and wipes her eyes, though it stings a little when she rubs. Natsuki tells her that she looks better now. Ai laughs sheepishly because it feels like he’s seen an embarrassing side to her. He asks her again why she was crying and then takes a seat on the swing beside her before looking at her intently.

Ai reassures him that it’s really nothing and she just got in a fight with her little sister. But Natsuki presses on and asks if that’s really it. She winces. He points out that she cried quite a bit and he’s willing to listen to her if she wants. He thinks he can’t do anything but offer an ear though. Natsuki’s gentle voice sinks into her heart and she wouldn’t tell this to any of her other friends but… somehow she feels like Natsuki would be able to understand.

Hesitantly, she opens her mouth and explains how every day Haruka asks her and her father when her mother is coming back, even though she’s no longer in this world. Haruka is so persistent about it that she gets irritated. Ai explains how she herself wants to see their mother and is feeling the same pain. And then she left Haruka at the house, came to this park, and then started crying abruptly. Her voice becomes shaky as she remarks on how she fails at being an older sister, since she isn’t able to cheer up Haruka. She even took out her anger on Haruka.

Natsuki immediately denies that and reminds her that she’s hurting too, right? He agrees quietly on how not having a mother is a sad thing. He can actually understand her a bit. Ai looks at him in surprise. Natsuki confesses that he doesn’t have a mother either… or a father. Right now he’s with a distant relative but he doesn’t know where both of his parents are. And that’s why, while he doesn’t understand all of her feelings… he can understand her sadness at not having a family. He can also understand her want to cry.

He tells her that it’s fine for her to cry because she’s always working hard to smile even when she’s sad. Ai murmurs his name before starting to feel her eyes burn again. Listening to his kind words is making her tears fall again. And even though he looks like he wants to cry, he gently caresses her lowered head. She apologizes to him as she cries even harder but he just tells her in a quiet voice that it’s fine and no one is looking. Ai starts to cry loudly and even though she tries to tell herself that she mustn’t cry her tears won’t stop. But Natsuki simply continues to softly and kindly pet her head. Like her mother.

Some time later, Ai thanks Natsuki for listening to her. He shakes his head because he’s happy so long as she’s happy. She’s touched by his words. Suddenly, Natsuki recalls something about there being a place somewhere to meet dead people. She repeats his words in confusion. He nods and explains that he read it in a book he borrowed from the library, although it was a fairytale. She asks him what the story was about.

Natsuki tells her that there were two beautiful white butterflies and, among the other butterflies, these two were very close. But then, one day, one of the butterflies died and the butterfly that was left behind wanted to see the dead butterfly again no matter what. This butterfly heard a story from travelers about how there was a land out there that allowed one to meet who they wanted to meet and so it aimed to head for that land.

Ai asks what kind of place that would be. Natsuki isn’t sure. Ai starts to wonder wistfully about there being a place where one could meet the deceased. If there was then she’d take Haruka and her father to meet their mother. Natsuki nods sympathetically. She smiles wryly at how even though it’s a fairytale hearing it from Natsuki makes her feel like there is actually a place like this… it’s strange. He laughs in embarrassment.

At some point her tears had stopped and now the wind brushes past her dry cheeks. Ai confesses that talking to him has cheered her up. Natsuki is relieved at that and comments that she looks cheerier than before. He peers into her face as he says this and she rears back, feeling her heart pound at how close his face is. She doesn’t see his face since she hurriedly lowers her head. Natsuki asks her if something is wrong since she suddenly looked down at the ground. Does she feel bad? Ai quickly tells him that it’s nothing but stutters for an excuse and flinches upon feeling his direct stare.

Suddenly, she hears a familiar voice call out her name and lifts her head up to see her little sister, Haruka, standing awkwardly a short distance away. Ai immediately asks her why she’s here. Haruka admits that she was looking for her. She couldn’t help but think about how her sister may disappear because she was being a bad girl. Haruka’s eyes are red and she’s gripping the hem of her skirt tightly.

Ai hesitates because she doesn’t know what to say, but Natsuki gives her a light pat on the back. He suggests that she hug Haruka since that’s the best way to convey her feelings. Ai nods and gets up from the swing to walk to where Haruka is before silently hugging her. Relieved, Haruka wraps her arms around Ai’s waist and returns the hug with all her strength. Ai laughs softly at how Natsuki was right it seems. Natsuki is pleased that they’ve resolved their differences. Ai thanks him again for staying by her side.

She’d like to stay and talk some more but since Haruka came to meet her, they’re going to return home for today. Natsuki nods and says that he’ll see her tomorrow before wishing her a good night. Ai unwraps Haruka’s arms from around her waist and then holds her small hand as they walk home.

A place to meet dead people. It’s a fairytale that Natsuki told her about. She thinks Haruka would be pleased to hear about it, but for some reason she has the feeling that she should store this story in her heart. She only tightens her hold on Haruka’s hand silently and continues to walk on the street, illuminated by the sunset.

*** TERRITORY DISPUTE(縄張り争い)***

One day after school, everyone gathered at the park and it was time to play! Her, Natsuki, and Aki were always together but today Takuya and Kazuya were at the park first. She was glad that Natsuki invited everyone to play together since they were all here. It’s not easy to gather this number of people. Kazuya and Takuya requested to play soccer, although it was actually Takuya who declared that. She said she wanted to play “kick the can” and both Aki and Natsuki thought that was good. But Kazuya and Takuya wanted to play soccer no matter what. Neither side was willing to move a step and so, failing to reach an agreement, they ended up glaring at each other.

Takuya snaps out that he’s already said he wants to play soccer. Ai points out that there isn’t 11 people and so they can’t play it because they’re lacking. He replies that they can play a modified soccer with random positions. Kazuya says that he wants to be the referee then because 5 people is too much. Takuya complains about that because Kazuya is being lazy.

Aki points out that Takuya is going to be hated if he just keeps forcing his assertions on everyone, but Takuya snaps at him to shut up and then asks if he can even play since he had a coughing fit a while back. Aki states that he can and he’s feeling better! Natsuki intervenes and asks everyone to calm down and not to fight. Ai agrees and then points out that if they don’t hurry up and decide then it’ll get dark and they’ll all have to go home.

Kazuya asks if he can just go off to draw by himself. Takuya reminds Kazuya loudly that they were going to play with everyone, so why is he now talking about drawing by himself. Aki is impressed by Kazuya and wishes that he could say what he wants to do like that. Takuya doesn’t get why Aki is praising him because Kazuya isn’t following the conversation at all. Everyone just keeps saying what they want and they aren’t able to discuss anything together. Finally, Takuya and Aki start to quarrel.

In truth, she wants to play together with everyone. She doesn’t want to fight. But she also really wants to play “kick the can” and doesn’t want to concede on that. What do they do!? Suddenly, a quiet voice cuts through everything and everyone stops moving. It’s Natsuki and he says that he knows what to do. He confirms that those who want to play “kick the can” and those who want to play soccer won’t give in, right? Takuya, Kazuya, Ai, and Aki nod.

Natsuki suggests they take turns then. Takuya asks him what he means. Natsuki explains that they can play soccer and then, after that, they’ll play “kick the can”; this way everyone gets to play what they want. Ai reluctantly thinks he has a point. Aki worries out loud that if they play soccer first then Takuya won’t ever want to stop. Natsuki thinks they can set a time limit then and they’ll switch after 30 minutes. He turns around in a circle to look at everyone’s faces.

No one could say anything, or find anything to pick a fault with. It was a perfect compromise. Takuya finally blurts out that he doesn’t care. Kazuya agrees. Ai excitedly declares that it’s a great idea! Aki thinks it’s good too. Natsuki is just glad that everyone agreed and then decides that a lady should go first and so they’ll play “kick the can”. Takuya pounces on his words though and asks if he said that because it’s what he wants to do!? Natsuki apologizes because he didn’t notice and then suggests soccer first then?

Aki just rolls his eyes since they had finally managed to compromise and now… Takuya shouts at him to shut up and then agrees to play “kick the can” first. Natsuki decides they should start then and they’ll decide who’s “it” with rock-paper-scissors. Everyone gathers around him and starts to move their hands. Rock, paper, scissors! Aki notes that Takuya is “it”! Takuya grunts at his lack of luck. Aki blames it on his terrible attitude this morning. Takuya snaps at him to shut up and that he wasn’t as bad as Aki.

Natsuki sighs at how they’re fighting again and then intervenes to tell Takuya to release his stress by catching everyone since he’s “it”. Takuya instantly looks like he understands and he places his hands on his waist, looking at them with an arrogant look. He thinks that’s fine and he wants everyone to be prepared! Natsuki tells everyone that it’s going to start now then and places an empty juice can, that they picked up, on the ground. He then kicks it and sends it flying into the sky.

Aki yelps out that they need to run! Ai panics and wonders where they can hide. Natsuki warns everyone not to run too far because it’ll be a problem if they can’t find them later on. Kazuya nods in understanding. Meanwhile, Takuya laughs loudly to fluster them on purpose and yells at them all to run but no matter where they hide he’ll find them! Ai timidly grabs hold of Natsuki. Natsuki tells her to follow him and guides them behind a tree to hide together.

Out in the open, Takuya curses and wonders where they went. He slowly approaches their location. Ai worriedly wonders what to do because at this rate they’ll be found! Takuya pauses before murmuring out loud that he feels like they’re over in this direction. His eyes land on the tree they’re hiding behind and he slowly approaches. Ai whispers that they’re found! What do they do?! She shuts her eyes and makes her body smaller; the only thing she can do is hope not to be found.

Natsuki reassures her that it’ll be fine and asks her not to be so afraid. His hand, which is always holding hers firmly, suddenly squeezes strongly. Takuya’s footsteps come close to their tree and then stops. He thinks they’re around here. And then, at that moment… something rustles directly opposite of their location and Takuya moves away in that direction. Over there! Takuya declares that he’s found Kazuya!

Kazuya slowly stands up from the bushes with a troubled expression as he notes that he was found. Takuya points out that there’s no way he would have missed Kazuya with that loud noise he made. He’s really stupid. Kazuya nods and then calmly says that he’s no match for Takuya. Takuya snickers and declares that’s obvious! Takuya returns back to the area with the can and plants the can on the ground with a satisfied face and a lot of force.

Takuya yells out that he’s found Kazuya and then orders Kazuya to stand in front of the tree over there. Kazuya quietly moves to the tree near the can and stands there with a quiet and upright pose. Natsuki expresses his admiration for Kazuya in a whisper. Ai, hearing Natsuki’s whisper, suddenly realizes that Kazuya made that loud noise on purpose so that she and Natsuki wouldn’t be found. Natsuki isn’t too sure but he thinks they should move to another place so that they won’t be found. He pulls her by the hand and takes her behind the playground slide and to the bushes there.

After some time, Takuya curses and wonders where everyone went again. Aki suddenly taunts Takuya by saying that he’s over here! Takuya instantly turns in that direction. Aki tries to hide behind his tree again but isn’t able to make it in time before Takuya finds him. Takuya declares loudly that he’s found Aki! Aki sighs at how he’s been found and walks over to Kazuya, but his expression doesn’t look depressed at all.

Takuya tells them that they didn’t resist at all and they need to use their head more when hiding. Aki agrees lightly and says that he just got too excited. He glances over in Ai and Natsuki’s direction though and Natsuki meets his eyes before nodding like he understood something. Natsuki then whispers to Ai that they’ll split up from here. At her look of surprise he explains that he’ll draw Takuya away and in that moment Ai needs to kick the can.

Ai is worried because Natsuki will be caught like that! Is that fine!? Natsuki reminds her that she’ll be able to save everyone if she kicks the can. She’s not sure if she can do it though… because Takuya is fast. Natsuki tells her firmly that she can do it… definitely. Takuya mutters out loud about how Natsuki and Ai are the only ones left and he thinks they have to be around this area. He goes around the area they’re hiding in.

It feels like there’s a tight grip around her heart and it hurts. Natsuki tells her to run at his signal. He’s sure that Takuya won’t be able to catch her in this distance. She nods shakily. Natsuki tells her that he’s counting on her and then pats her on the head. Somehow, that makes her feel relieved and she feels her confidence welling up. She can do it. Natsuki declares that they’re starting their plan now.

Natsuki raises his body just a little so that his head is peeking up through the bush. Takuya instantly spots the hair and recognizes it as Natsuki! He slowly approaches them. Ai points out to Natsuki that Takuya is coming over… is it really okay? Natsuki reassures her again and asks her to believe in him. There’s only a few more feet left just before Takuya arrives at their bush and then – in that moment – Natsuki shouts out that the time is now!

Ai nods and then, right as Takuya declares that he’s found Natsuki, she bursts out of the bush and slips past the side of him to run towards the can. It’s only a few meters away but it feels like a long time. She kicks the can with all her strength and it goes soaring through the sky. Aki and Kazuya, who were standing close to the can, crowd around her. Aki praises her for doing it. She sighs in relief. Kazuya also praises her and is glad his sacrifice wasn’t in vain. Natsuki isn’t surprised that she was able to manage it.

Takuya curses when he realizes the can was kicked since that means he’s still “it” and he stomps the ground with a vexed look. Ai giggles and apologizes to him. But then Takuya thinks out loud that it’s time to switch to playing soccer. Aki comments on how Takuya is dodging the topic here. Takuya shouts at him to shut up and then asks Natsuki for the time. Natsuki looks between the clock in the park and Takuya’s frustrated breathing and shrugs before smiling. Too bad, there’s still 15 minutes. Takuya curses. Aki laughs and tells him to work hard.

Kazuya offers to trade being “it” with Takuya. Takuya notes that Kazuya must not understand the rules because there isn’t a rule for switching! Natsuki intervenes since they’re fighting again and tells Takuya that he’ll just find everyone quickly again. Last time he found them one after another, right? Takuya’s pride is soothed by Natsuki’s words and he agrees to another round. Kazuya volunteers to be the one to kick the can this time.

He places the can upright and then lightly kicks it. The can flies a short distance and then lands on the ground. Takuya gapes at how weak that was and tells him to kick it harder! Kazuya apologizes. Natsuki reminds everyone that the game has started and everyone who isn’t “it” needs to run. Aki and Kazuya nod.

Under Natsuki’s words, everyone scatters and runs away. By the time she notices it, she’s pulled away again by Natsuki. Aki and Kazuya exchange looks with them as they disappear. Just like last time, she’s sure it’ll be fine. They’ll cooperate with everyone and, at the end, they’ll be able to kick the can. But even if she’s found by Takuya and becomes “it” she thinks that’ll also be fun. As long as she’s playing with everyone, everything will be fun at any time. She wants this time to continue every day, every month, every year, forever and ever. At that time, she believed in that without a doubt.

*** DATING SOMEONE (付き合ってる人)***

Like stitching, they try to find ordinary things in their days of abnormality. For example delicious meals, entertaining conversations, or nostalgic toys. She thought the book that Kagiha was reading would be one of those things as well–

Beniyuri asks Kagiha what he’s reading. He greets her before saying that he just chose a book off the bookshelf at random and it seems to be a romance novel. She’s surprised that he’s reading it. He hesitantly asks if it doesn’t suit him, though he thinks it isn’t so bad to read one from time to time. She hurriedly tells him that she didn’t meant it that way! It’s just that normally men don’t read romance novels.

Kagiha chuckles at that and agrees with her, especially the rest of the people here. She can’t even imagine it. He laughs again and says that thinking about it actually makes him want to hear their opinions on it after they’ve read it. Beniyuri’s voice is amused as she states that it’d be impossible. He notes the strength in her words. Beniyuri returns their topic back to the novel and inquires about the title; she’d like to see it actually.

She looks at the title and the contents, which she’s curious about, and then feels a strange coincidence stemming from the memories of her past. Beniyuri hesitantly says that she knows this book and it was made into a movie recently. It’s quite famous. Kagiha is intrigued though he picked it out without knowing that. She tells him that she only knows about it because it’s famous but she hasn’t actually read it. What is it about?

Kagiha summarizes the story to be one about two childhood friends, a girl and a boy, who became estranged but were reunited when they go to high school and then they fall in love. But, before they reach that state, various romantic trials and things happen. Beniyuri asks for an example. He tells her about how they both attend different high schools but learned about each other through their friends.

At first they didn’t know that they were childhood friends, but they were drawn to each other while talking and then when they finally met– they realized that they were childhood friends. SQUINTS EYES. WHY DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR. Beniyuri gasps and then asks if they started dating then? He doesn’t reply though and looks at her with an unreadable expression. She prompts him by calling his name and he pastes a smile on his face before answering that they do and their confession scene was heart-pattering.

Beniyuri asks him how they confessed to each other. He starts to explain before pausing and then asking if she wants him to explain EVERYTHING. She giggles and admits that it was entertaining since he was answering her politely and properly but she still wants to know about the confession scene. Kagiha explains that the male lead, who was mistaken about the female lead liking someone else, grabbed her by the arm.

And then he told the female lead that, at the very least and for this moment, she could listen to his words and look only at him. Beniyuri pauses before realizing that making him say this out loud might be kind of embarrassing… she apologizes sheepishly. He winces and asks her not to apologize since that just makes him even more embarrassed. She can now clearly see that he’s embarrassed despite having read the lines out without a complaint.

But then Kagiha muses on how these embarrassing lines must come out easily for people who are in love. Beniyuri thinks that it’s also because it’s a story. He points out that people say love is blind and perhaps they’re unable to hold back from doing embarrassing things or saying embarrassing lines. She asks him if he means things like flirting in the classroom or saying “I love you” when going home. Kagiha is a bit amazed at those actions but thinks they’re very student-like.

Beniyuri nods and thinks out loud about a high school romance. It’s a normal thing in the real world but talking about it now makes her feel nostalgic. He asks if she’s ever thought about things like love and school? As he asks her this and peers at her face, she recalls the words of love he had recited to her and feels herself become shaken. Beniyuri shrugs ambivalently and then asks if he ever thought about it.

He seems surprised before answering that he feels envious when he reads this book. At her look of confusion he explains that it seems nice to be able to call out to a person one likes without hesitation and to become ecstatically happy with just one word. THIS KIND OF HURTS WHEN YOU REMEMBER THAT HE KNOWS HE’S DEAD. She’s intrigued that even someone like him thinks that. She sympathizes with the feelings of swinging from hope to fear and wondering if someone likes them or hates them.

Kagiha nods and says that there are those scenes in this book. It may seem trivial but for the people concerned it ends up being a huge deal to them. Beniyuri excitedly agrees and adds that even though they may believe they’re over-thinking things, they still end up being troubled. He hesitantly asks if there are people who think this. She startles when she realizes that he’s asking about her. Kagiha smiles sheepishly and points out that it sounded like she was speaking from experience.

Beniyuri hurriedly explains that it’s something that all girls think about. It’s not just limited to lovers either, but also people they respect and friends. Kagiha hums in thought before suddenly asking her if she is dating someone. Her heart skips a beat at his unusually serious question and pursuance of this topic. She stutters out that she doesn’t have one… she thinks. She notices that Kagiha seems happy about that and wonders what she should say. OH MY GOD HE WAS SO HAPPY. HE WAS LIKE “REALLY? I SEE!!”.

She finally ends up blurting out that he seems like he’d be popular and is level-headed enough to have a girlfriend immediately. He blinks in surprise and hesitantly says that he’ll accept that as a compliment…? She nods quickly. He thanks her before explaining that he doesn’t have a girlfriend though, never. She latches onto his last words and asks him if he has memories of it, which is why he can say that he’s never had one.

Kagiha stutters out that he doesn’t have his memories but he also knows that he doesn’t have one. SMOOTH. She thinks on that and murmurs that he seems like he would have one though. He returns that he thought the same about her. She quickly says that she can’t do anything but long for love and think about the stories inside books. Kagiha replies that he’s the same in longing for it and he wishes he could have a love like the one in stories… a girl as wonderful as her.

Beniyuri pauses and then gapes at him. He smiles upon seeing her bewildered expression. She points out that it’s because he’s so composed that she can see him having a girlfriend. He explains that he’s not being composed and he’s simply just conveying his honest feelings. Besides, what he longs for is… still very far away and that’s why he can calmly accept his feelings like this. She sees that, as he talks, he’s calm but also a bit sad. She doesn’t know what to say but Kagiha suddenly comments on how he said something weird and offers to pour them some tea. Would she like some? She nods.

With that, their conversation about books ended but this rare conversation about love pricked at her heart from the beginning to the end. Kagiha had said that he longed for love but she was sure that someone as wonderful as him would have someone appear in front of him immediately… But if they fell in love in this world… what would happen to that love? What kind of conclusion would greet them?

*** LET’S SNACK TOGETHER (一緒におやつ)***

Sweet smells nourish the heart. Even a small candy, when popped into one’s mouth, can make one happy. That doesn’t change even in this world; rather, because it is this world that she thinks these things even more. That’s why, on that day, when Usagi brought them eggs and milk she thought to make some pancakes. It was only natural.

Lining up the ingredients on the kitchen counter top, Beniyuri and Kagiha exchange looks. She confirms that they should only need flour, eggs, milk, and sugar. Kagiha is surprised that this is all they need. She nods though she adds that it’d be nice if they had baking powder, but it looks like this place doesn’t have that. In truth, she’d like to make some pastries but the ingredients in their refuge doesn’t supply any of the ingredients she needs to make pastries.

And that’s why pancakes were the candidate to be made out of what they had. Kagiha expresses his astonishment again because he thought pancakes needed to be made from a pancake mix. She smiles in embarrassment and says that she’s made it from time to time and so she remembers how. He asks if she made it for her family? She thinks so… but she can’t really remember. Beniyuri finds it strange that she can remember how to make pancakes but she doesn’t remember when.

Kagiha apologizes for bringing up her memories and then asks her to give him instructions; he’ll do exactly what she says. She turns the flour into meringue and then adds eggs, milk, and sugar. Here and there she receives help from Kagiha but she’s shocked by his skill. Beniyuri compliments how fast he can remember things and then asks if cooking is one of his skills? Kagiha tells her that he doesn’t really remember. She apologizes for asking something strange.

He brushes it aside though and then asks if cooking is one of her skills? She doesn’t really remember either and she can’t remember any recipes so it doesn’t seem like she was particularly skilled at it. He thinks that’s a shame since he’d have liked to get his fill of her cooking. She splutters at that before telling him that it’d only be miso soup. He suggests that they get together again to make something then, not just sweets but various types of food.

Beniyuri tells him that his help really supports her and she feels like she’ll be able to do it. He’s pleased to hear that from her. As they talk peacefully like this, they finish their tasks quickly and move to the part where all that’s left is to cook it. Kagiha smiles at her while he mixes the raw batter before confirming that they need to cook this, right? He asks her to leave it to him. She muses on how he’s helped her without making a disagreeable face even once and it’s really easy to rely on him.

She tells him out loud that he’s worked so hard that she didn’t have much to do at all. He frowns and disagrees with her since it was her instructions. She shakes her head though and points out that she’s the one who wanted to make pancakes so she should cook them. He chuckles before suggesting that they both cook then. He’ll hold the frying pan and she can add the batter. She nods and then grabs a ladle.

They continue to split the tasks and, because the two of them were working together, their positions naturally came closer together. She tunes in to the present only to hear the end of one of his sentences. When she asks him to repeat what he said, he tells her that they seem like newlyweds since they’re so close together and cooking pancakes.

Beniyuri startles so hard at his words that she nearly drops the bowl, forcing Kagiha to support it with his hand. She becomes even more embarrassed before stuttering out that it’s true that it’s rare for friends to make pancakes together alone together. He smiles calmly and agrees. She wonders for a moment if they’re too close but then it feels like it’d be rude to create some distance right now.

At any rate, Kagiha continues cooking and remarks on the pleasant smell. He tells her to smell it too. She nods, but then he points out that she won’t be able to smell it from that far and he suggests that she come closer. He comes even closer to her while still smiling, to the point where she can see him breathing. He suddenly chuckles and tells her that he was joking and only wanted to tease her by commenting out loud on how this seems like something newlyweds would do.

Beniyuri exhales and admits that she was surprised. Kagiha notes that this distance is still the best to smell it from though before realizing that he should flip the pancakes over. She agrees out loud but her mind isn’t on her answer because Kagiha’s hand is still on her shoulder. Inwardly, she thinks on how he may not be conscious about it but she feels like they really are like a married couple with this!

Kagiha interrupts her thoughts by pointing out that it’s cooked and looks delicious! Her shoulders were tense while it was cooking and even after he lifts his hand away, she finds it hard to go back to normal. She distractedly agrees that it looks delicious. He suggests that they cook a lot more just like this then. They repeat the same steps and start to cook more pancakes.

During that time, Kagiha was very kind and was careful not to let her get burned by any of their cookware. Though while thinking he was kind, she also desperately tried to remove the words “married couple” out of her mind. Beniyuri notes that they cooked a lot and it almost seems like there’s too much. She hopes Monshiro can eat it all. Kagiha pauses and asks her why she brought up Monshiro?

Beniyuri explains that she talked about pancakes to him once and he said that he’d like to eat some, so she thought to cook some for him. OH NO… Kagiha averts his eyes as he acknowledges her words. She blinks in confusion because Kagiha seems a bit… dejected? Did she say something strange? Suddenly, he turns back to her with a smile and suggests loudly that they should taste it first before anyone else tries it, just the two of them. She tilts her head but agrees.

Kagiha tells her that he’ll cook the last one and then they can eat together. Under his dazzling smile, she sets the table. As they settle in to eat Kagiha asks her what she’s going to put on top of her pancakes: honey, the strawberry jam that they made, or the blueberry jam? She’s amazed at the various toppings but decides to go for an orthodox one first and selects honey. He tells her that he’ll prepare it and asks for her to wait a moment.

She’s a bit stunned at his treatment because he even goes so far as to pour her tea. And then he asks her to open her mouth. Beniyuri gapes at him. What?! It appears like his treatment developed to feeding her too. She freezes in front of the piece of pancake that is presented to her. Kagiha asks her innocently if she won’t eat it. Beniyuri stutters. What should she do!? He has a disappointed face but she’s embarrassed to open her mouth like that… but… but…!!

Kagiha asks if he put too much honey on it and then asks if she’d like a different one? She quickly shakes her head and says she’ll eat it before steeling herself to open her mouth. Her heart feels like it’s pounding through her entire body. He asks her to open her mouth again and she obeys, though she wonders if she’s opened her mouth too wide. He won’t criticize her eating manners, right? She’s so nervous!

He asks her if it’s delicious but she honestly confesses that she’s so nervous she can’t even taste it. L O L. He chuckles at how honest she is and then asks if she doesn’t like him being the one to do this? She shakes her head before blurting out that she’s probably nervous because it is him! He suggests that she try eating another piece then and requests for her to open her mouth. She does so and even though she’s nervous she’s able to taste it the second time. The sweet taste spreads through her mouth and brings nostalgic feelings.

Beniyuri murmurs that it’s fluffy and delicious. Kagiha is pleased by that though he thinks it’s thanks to her efforts. She returns that it’s thanks to his efforts in making the meringue. He comments on how kind she is for complimenting other people and for wanting to make pastries for someone. She tells him hesitantly that she didn’t just make the pancakes for Monshiro alone though. He tilts his head at that. She explains that she wanted everyone to slowly enjoy something sweet.

She also adds that it was because she was happy to be invited by Kagiha to make something and making something with someone is fun! In truth, she didn’t think about anything else and was able to have a lot of fun making these, which is all thanks to Kagiha. He tells her that he’s happy enough with just being able to share some time with her, although there was something even more happiness-inducing for him.

At her look of confusion, he explains that it’s being able to see see her pleased as if she’s bitten into a small piece of happiness and her smiling face. Right now, her smile is being shown only to him. GODS SOMETIMES HE’S KIND OF CREEPY. She hesitantly and quietly thanks him. She’s also never seen him with this kind of smile before… she’s happy that he’s happy. But she’s so embarrassed by his words that she’s not sure how to follow up.

And then, while she remains idle, Kagiha once again presents to her a piece of pancake. He asks if she can eat more. Under his recommendation, she eats another piece while in front of her she sees his smiling face. He asks if she’ll feed some to him too? She quietly tells him that she’ll only feed him once.

The sweet fragrance and soft texture transforms into happiness in her mouth. She might have done this out of self-interest but eating this was able to transform her feelings. Having someone eat this with a smile makes her feel like she can do anything.

*** WHAT I’M AFRAID OF (僕が怖いこと)***

What do those butterflies survive on? Sometimes she thinks about these things; about the white fluttering butterflies in her room, and the black butterflies that appear with the monsters. What do they survive on? What kind of nectar do they absorb in order to live? Or are they just illusions? She thinks about that as well whenever she sees them become sucked into the accessories.

As always, when a monster is defeated its shadow changes into a large clump of butterflies. In the space of a wing beat, the black butterflies are sucked into their accessories. Their hunt is finished. Kagiha confirms worriedly if she’s uninjured. Beniyuri reassures him tiredly that she’s fine and thanks him. She’s used to being distracted from the fatigue after a hunt and tries to regulate her breathing. She’s extremely tired but they won’t be able to leave this world if they don’t hunt. That’s why she needs to work hard.

Beniyuri tells herself this and tries to stand up, but Kagiha’s worried face soon appears and he tells her not to push herself before offering himself as support. She points out that he’s tired too, right? He tells her that he’s fine and she shouldn’t mind him. He extends his hand and she takes it, moved by his kindness. Kagiha notes that there’s still time before it’s night and so he thinks they can return without rushing. She nods tiredly and thanks him again.

Just from holding his hand, she can feel his kindness. She’s certain that he would treat her with this same kindness no matter what she did– to the point where she feels like she might misunderstand it. Beniyuri murmurs that he’s always kind, huh. Kagiha appears a bit surprised before saying that he’s happy to hear that from her.

But, because of his kindness, she accidentally asks him why he’s a bit strict on Monshiro. When Monshiro said he wanted to be their companion, Kagiha was one of the first to oppose that. And when everyone is together she can tell that he’s kind of avoiding Monshiro. She wonders why. Kagiha denies that and says that it might be her imagination. She tells him that it’s not her imagination though and she sees it. He asks her what her evidence is.

She hesitates before saying that even though he’s asking for evidence… she’s asking him right now because she doesn’t know his reason for it. She tells Kagiha that even though Monshiro is quiet, he’s a good person. Kagiha hesitates and murmurs that even if she calls Monshiro a good person… She isn’t sure what to do when she sees his expression become clouded, but she wants him to understand about Monshiro.

Beniyuri continues on to say that Monshiro is afraid of being alone, worries about anyone getting hurt, and is poor at communicating his feelings but he really wants to become everyone’s companion. Kagiha’s voice is flat as he notes that she’s talking about Monshiro as if she knows him. She tells him that it’s because Monshiro is conveying this and she thinks Kagiha would understand this too if he just properly talked to Monshiro.

Kagiha turns a question on her though and asks her why she trusts Monshiro so much? It’s strange to him. Beniyuri stutters out quietly that it’s because she can see that he’s not the type of person to lie. Kagiha’s voice is quiet as well as he asks her if she thinks he’ll accept that. She shakes her head. She can’t say this well and can’t communicate it to him, but she just wants the two of them to be a bit closer. Her heart squeezes with pain and she almost feels like crying. She can’t help but feel her own powerlessness.

She thought that, because it’s Kagiha, he’d surely understand… Her chest burns with some kind of remembered pain and she unintentionally averts her face. Her gaze searches the outside of the mansion but she can’t see anything but the clouded windows in front of her eyes. They’re in an enclosed world with limited companions, and so it’s painful not to be able to understand each other.

Beniyuri berates herself for being unable to convey it well and thus putting blame on Kagiha. But even though she’s punishing herself, the sadness won’t disappear. As she clenches her right hand, she hears the sound of clothing shifting from behind her. By the time she realizes it, Kagiha is right behind her and he places his hands against the window, trapping her as if concealing her. W O W THIS CG.

He murmurs lowly to her that she’s mistaken and he doesn’t want to hurt her. She can’t say anything. The whisper coming from behind her is overflowing with sadness. Beniyuri tells him that she’s the one who was wrong. But Kagiha refutes that and says she isn’t wrong. Due to the clouded window, she can’t see Kagiha’s expression and can only hear the sorrow coloring his voice. He admits that he’s the one who is wrong and he knows that.

Beniyuri blurts out loudly that she didn’t mean that! He replies firmly that he knows! He’s not talking about that– she doesn’t know what to say when she hears the pain stuck in his words. In her mind, she believes that she’s mistaken a part of his heart and so is disagreeing with him. This is why she doesn’t understand him. But why is he in so much pain…? In that case, what should she do? She just wants to understand and wanted them to understand. That’s all she wanted.

She slowly tells him that if there are painful feelings inside of him then… she wonders how to continue her sentence as she stares at his tense arm. She tells him that she’ll always listen to him, if he wants to talk she’ll listen to anything. If he does then they may be able to come to some kind of answer maybe. During the time that she searched for her words, she can feel Kagiha’s body warmth against her back.

A long time passes after her words before Kagiha finally replies, with sad and pained words 「・・・ごめん。君に嫌われるのが、怖いーー。」(… I’m sorry. I’m terrified of being hated by you–). A silence falls between them after these words. Even though they’re this close, she doesn’t understand. She can’t get closer. Frustration tightens around her heart. Even though they’re beside each other, they’re alone.

And then the two of them return to the refuge in silence. Even though they do everything the same as always, Kagiha doesn’t say a word. In the end, nothing was resolved. That night, she had a dream. A dream where a flock of butterflies sipped quietly at honey. It was a very beautiful but scary dream. Even though she felt it was beautiful, she was scared. Even though she wanted to know, she was scared. She doesn’t know why she felt that way. She’s afraid of the things she doesn’t know. Even though those beautiful butterflies are things she always sees–

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