A week has passed.
I passed the days worrying endlessly.
I never made eye contact with Mia in the classroom.
I also still haven’t heard back from Mikoto.
Since Shirota is busy with clubs, I haven’t gotten a text from her.
Even if I were to ask Eda, it doesn’t seem like there would be any progress.
During this passing of time, Eda easily became student council president.
As originally planned, Mia supported her with a speech and then she won with overwhelming votes.
I don’t know what type of exchange Eda and Mia had.
But, Mia gave a fervent speech without hesitation about Eda being a good fit for the students.
And then, the final exams for the first term approaches.
Of course, it’s not like I was studying like crazy. The results are already clear.
Recently, I haven’t gone to club either.
As classes finish, I head home as if running away.
Today is Friday.
The bell rang as classes finished up.
The other students didn’t have any clubs before the exams but I left the classroom faster than the others.
I headed towards the entrance almost like I was running.
I take off my indoor shoes and tried to take my shoes out of my shoe locker.
At that moment I noticed. There was a white letter in my shoe rack.
Grabbing it, I try to look underneath but the name of the sender wasn’t there.
There wasn’t a heart sticker pasted there or a razor inside.
When I carefully open it, a card-sized piece of paper came out.
『When exams are finished, I want to have a proper conversation. -Mia』
Just that was written there in pretty characters.
This was definitely Mia’s writing. Since I’ve seen it multiple times, there’s no mistaking it.
It’s not like Eda didn’t do anything.
She made it to where Mia and I can talk personally.
Looking at the back of the card, I could feel my heartbeat quicken.
There were small heart stickers. It was reserved but there was a lot pasted on.
It didn’t particularly spell anything out.
However, I knew it wasn’t like she was done with me.
I carefully put the card away.
Even if I were to call her immediately, I wanted to meet with Mia.
However, Mia’s reasoning for sending this card would become meaningless.
It seems I’ll have to bear it until exams are over.
I headed towards the bus stop with so much vigor I was pretty much skipping.
On the way, I got a call.
“Could it be Mia?” is what I thought but it wasn’t.
The person on the other end was Ooki’s little sister, Rino-chan.
「Is this Okutani-san?」
「Yes? What happened?」
I stop skipping and walk.
「Um…Onii-chan still hasn’t come back」
「Eh? Is that so?」
It’s already been two weeks.
I wonder if he hasn’t come home yet from going out to practice.
「I was wondering if you knew anything…」
「No, he’s in a different grade and I also haven’t been going to club」
「I see…I don’t know what I should do」
「Has he been gone this long for training before?」
I could hear quite a bit of worry from Rino-chan’s voice on the other end.
That’s probably why she called me as soon as classes finished.
「Are you still at Ichikura?」
「I’m here but…」
「Do you mind meeting up with me somewhere?」
I agreed without a reason to refuse.
We met up at a cafe near the station
The place was called『Honey Cafe』.
The interior was completely opposite from the cuteness of the name, as it was quite refined.
When I enter the store, sitting at a table, Rino-chan raised her hand.
It was a small store with just 2 tables that could seat 4 people each and a counter with 5 seats.
Rino-chan wasn’t in her uniform.
It seems she’s gone back to her home before this. She was wearing a black T-shirt and jeans.
Her hair is in the same twintails I saw when I first met her.
「Sorry for the sudden invite」
When I ask for an iced coffee from the clerk, Rino-chan bowed her head.
「Well, it’s fine but…It’s unexpected that he still hasn’t come home yet」
「Yeah. I sent several messages to confirm his safety but…」
「Is that so?」
Honestly it didn’t bother me.
If Ooki is in fact walking the path of training, he would want someone to help him.
However, it seems Rino-chan can’t be that person.
「Have your parents said anything?」
「They said to leave it alone. Since it doesn’t mean he died, it seems they don’t really care」
I somehow or another understood Rino-chan’s clear reasoning.
Or rather, it’s probably a strong burden.
She seems like she would be a good wife.
「But I’m worried…at this rate he’ll end up having to drop out of school」
「Yeah, you’re right」
「Umm…I can only really ask this of you but…」
The middle school girl looks at me with a serious gaze.
Her face was still immature and undeveloped and her body was currently developing.
That unbalanced feeling invites a strange sense of excitement.
「Can you go out to Mt. Nomiya and meet Onii-chan?」
As if guessing when that silence would come, the clerk placed the iced coffee I ordered on the table.
The peaceful music flowing through was probably old jazz.
And the smell of ground coffee wafts through the air.
The tobacco smoke from another customer smoking collects at the ceiling.
「You want me to go?」
「Ah, of course, I’ll go with you…However, the place Onii-chan does his ascetic practices doesn’t allow women inside」
Ooki went to Mt. Nomiya in order to hide from the common populace and become a sage.
It was probably to distance himself from his earthly desires.
「I know it’s a troublesome matter but…as I thought, I can’t help but worry about Onii-chan」
「Y-you could say that but…」
「Yesterday Ebara-san and Touta-san came over worried」
Even after I had reported to them, those two still went to his house worried.
Of course they would. He hasn’t come to school in almost 2 weeks.
「Those two said, “since he still hasn’t come back, well go together”…」
「Then if those two go with you」
「I don’t like it」
Rino-chan shakes her head.
Her twintails swayed through the air.
「Those two aren’t bad people but…somehow…the way they look at me…」
「What did those two do!」
I unintentionally ended up letting out a loud voice.
However, none of the other customers looked over in worry.
Everyone was calm because they were adults.
「N-not to that extent…You can rest assured…」
I wonder about that.
Recently I don’t understand myself that well.
Rather, the one who should be doing some ascetic training is me not Ooki.
「I got it…Let’s go together」
「Thank you very much」
Tears gathered in her eyes as Rino-chan looked at me with a smile across her whole face.
My heart jumped but so did my dick.
As I thought, I need some ascetic training.