[translation] Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi ~ Yokozawa Takafumi no Baai 6, Ch. 11 part 980
Type: Novel Translation
Title: Yokozawa Takafumi no Baai 6
Series: Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi
Author/Circle: Nakamura Shungiku, Fujisaki Miyako
Forum Discussion: HERE
Notes: You can also view the book in-progress on Pressbooks for what’s likely a more pleasant reading experience!
This time: Yokozawa eavesdrops on Kirishima and Oosaki’s conversation–and learns that he and Oosaki have far more in common than he’s comfortable with.
Chapter 11 (cont.)
“I’ll be waiting by the entrance.”
Yokozawa took the girls’ coats from them as they scampered off for the restrooms, then started down the stairs. He was just about to enter the stairwell, though, when he heard voices speaking.
“I’m really glad I decided to come today. The atmosphere here just takes me back—I feel like I was able to remember some of what it was like to be a child.”
“So you think you’ll be able to use this for your piece?”
“I’m abuzz with ideas right now. I’ll have to jump right on my computer as soon as I get home.”
The conversation was between Kirishima and Oosaki. Yokozawa recalled that there had been a bench situated just beside the steps, and apparently that was where the pair were seated. All he needed to do was start down the steps and join them, but for some reason, he couldn’t move—this seemed to be happening a lot lately.
The two continued their conversation, unaware of their eavesdropper. “I’m quite certain Chiba-san will be thrilled.”
“Back to the prim and proper speech around me, are we?”
“I can’t risk being rude to you.” His words were gentle, but Yokozawa could feel the iron-clad will.
“Do you remember what I said the other day? I told you I’d hoped to be able to work with you some day, right?”
“Indeed, I remember.”
“To tell the truth…I kind of had a crush on you back in college.”
Her confession was exactly the sort of thing they’d expected. Oosaki, perhaps interpreting Kirishima’s silence as indication of his surprise, continued fondly reminiscing about their college year.
“You had no idea, did you? I wasn’t even on your radar back then, plus everyone knew you were head over heels for a girlfriend attending another school. So…I gave up on you back then.”
The phrase ‘back then’ stuck out.
“I was totally lame and frumpy in the past, remember? With the glasses and the braids and the long skirts. I didn’t even own any jeans, and I didn’t have the guts to wear a mini-skirt. That’s why I couldn’t bring myself to ask to be your friend.” She seemed to have had a complex of some sort in the past; Yokozawa could certainly sympathize. It took some balls to even walk alongside a man like Kirishima. If you didn’t drum up some confidence and refresh yourself, it was difficult to stand at his side.
“And that’s why I used the money I made from my debut’s award to give myself a complete makeover. I changed my glasses to contacts, went to a fancy beauty parlor, bought clothes at an upscale department store—even had a professional teach me the proper way to wear makeup. I made myself go out more—that’s how badly I wanted to change who I was. So—what do you think of me now? Pretty different, huh?” She kept her tone light, but her question was clearly serious.
Kirishima must have realized he couldn’t put off a response this time, and he chose his answer carefully before responding, “I can’t speak to whether before or now suited you better, but I will admit that I didn’t recognize you on first glance.”
“Oh, I’m glad to hear you say that. The whole reason I accepted Marukawa Shoten’s offer was just to see you again.” Kirishima gave no comment. “But you’re a manga editor, right? I caught a glimpse of you at a party once, but you were surrounded by gorgeous mangaka and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Ooh, that really got me down.”
That ‘party’ was likely the thanksgiving and reunion affair held at the end and beginning of the year, where the company expressed its gratitude to the writers and authors. Editors were expected to schmooze with their respective charges the entire time, and for someone like Kirishima, who was Editor-in-Chief of Japun, he had to pay his respects to not only mangaka but also staff involved with associated media, like directors and cast members.
At Marukawa Shoten’s galas, most of the female authors tended to flock to the editing team of the shoujo magazine Emerald, but Kirishima had his fair share of fans as well, and it was an annual tradition for authors to beg him for pictures. Popular for his amiable, sociable nature, he could always be found at the center of a crowd. Sometimes, a line even formed as people waited their turn to chat.
The image of that night was probably stark in her mind—in her eyes, if she could’ve been one of those authors, she surely would have had the chance to speak to Kirishima. But then, she would’ve merely been another face in the crowd, so it was hardly the situation Oosaki could have hoped for, since she wanted Kirishima’s focus on her and her alone.
“That’s why I decided to go all out and make it so that we could publicly work together. If one of my pieces became a manga, then we’d have reason to see each other again. But there was no way I could just suddenly pop up and say ‘Please make my book into a manga!’, so I decided to write a new story that would appeal to younger readers and make it easier for us to work together.”
“I see—so that’s why your latest work had a slightly different feel from your other pieces.”
“Yup—that’s right. I never really read manga before, but I decided to do some studying and read a mountain of it. Then, I kind of got into it! That was when the offer for a movie version came along, and I thought, ‘oh FINALLY!’”
It was admittedly quite a feat for the piece she’d penned with the intention to make it into a movie to do so without a hitch. She’d said she’d done her research, but the fact that she’d been able to instill her own literary style in the work showed how much artistic sense she had.
Yokozawa couldn’t help but admire her passion; did his own feelings for Kirishima even begin to compare? ’Of course not’—came a small voice in the back of his mind.
His jealousy with Yasuda had been envy for a coworker, so it wasn’t all that difficult to draw a firm line between his actions in private and those on the job. But Oosaki had mixed up her personal and professional feelings from the get-go; she’d used her job to make the love of her life her own.
She hadn’t cared what it looked like to others, and that attitude of hers was confusing Yokozawa. After hearing her confession now, he hadn’t the slightest clue how he was supposed to act.
“And you had no objections to branching out into other forms of media?”
“Well everyone else was calling for it; I just found it tedious, to be honest. I didn’t trust anyone else enough to leave the grunt work to then, but if I took the time to review everything myself, then I wouldn’t have any time left to write! But I know I can trust you, Kirishima-kun, so I’m not worried at all.”
So her heart had won out over everything else. How did Kirishima feel about this passion of hers? His opinions on the matter as a single man and as an editor would surely differ.
“I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to say, but just…let me get it out. I’m sill in love with you, Kirishima-kun. There were times when I tried to forget out—but it’s been over ten years now…and I just can’t.”
Yokozawa could understand her feelings painfully well. The pain of continuing to hold on to feelings you know you’d be better off without was beyond description.
You don’t have to forget—that was what Kirishima had told him, and the load on his heart had finally lightened. It’s impossible to forget feelings that have already developed—but you can stop remembering them.
“I won’t ask for your response right now. There’s Hiyori-chan to consider, after all, and I’m sure you can’t just jump into anything right away. I just…wanted you to know how I felt.”
“I’m sorry—but I’d like to refuse you right here and now,” Kirishima replied immediately, refusing her request outright.
“Eh…?” She seemed floored, likely having expected some manner of blithe, toothless polite response.
She thought she’d finally become a woman worthy of the man she admired, had created an environment where they might interact, and then confessed. They weren’t a couple of fearless pubescent teenagers—they were mature adults. They didn’t try to start relationships without some sort of plan in place, so she’d worked so hard just to finally see him again, and she likely thought she’d been remarkably patient in expressing her feelings for him.
But the previously bold and daring Oosaki…was now teetering on the edge of anxiety and uncertainty.
“Umm, is that…because we’re meant to work together? If so, then we can just discuss things once we’ve finished this project. You can forget this conversation even hap—”
“That’s not the issue,” Kirishima gently interrupted her increasingly desperate arguments.
Oosaki paused, waiting a moment in silence, then asked in a trembling voice, “…Is it because you still haven’t forgotten your wife?”
Perhaps this was the true Oosaki, beneath the veneer. A shy young girl who liked to cloister herself away in a library behind a stack of books. It was difficult to transform who you were at heart.
“Forgetting her would be impossible.” Kirishima’s tone shifted to a more firm declaration as he placed a high wall between them.
Yokozawa was probably the one freaking out the most among the three of them. Now that discussion of Kirishima’s late wife was on the table, he was even more unsettled.
It wasn’t that he harbored any feelings of jealousy for the woman—but he didn’t feel unintimidated by her either, and when he stood at Kirishima’s side, in the position he knew she had rightfully earned, sometimes it weighed just a bit too heavy on him.
He knew Kirishima’s feelings for him weren’t false or fleeting—in this, he trusted implicitly. Because of what had happened in the past, they had the present they did now. And that meant the present of now…would one day become the past.
He didn’t know what Kirishima was about to say—and while he did wonder, he was too frightened to eavesdrop any further.
The silence continued, and the first to break, unable to stay there any longer, was Yokozawa. He fled back up the stairs he’d just come down.
To put it simply, he was confused: So confused, he couldn’t even tell what exactly it was making him feel uncomfortable.
“Huh? Oniichan? Didn’t you say you were going down ahead of us?” He ran into Hiyori once he’d reached the second floor again.
“Needed to use the restroom myself.”
“Then I’ll hold your bag! Dad and I’ll be waiting downstairs.”
Now that he’d said he’d needed to use the bathroom, he couldn’t leave without going in, so with little choice otherwise, he entered the men’s restroom. Thankfully, it was empty, and after standing at the sinks in front of the mirror and taking a few deep breaths, he splashed a bit of water on his face to calm himself and scrubbed himself dry with a paper towel.
No matter how the conversation went between Kirishima and Oosaki, Yokozawa had no right to make any comment. All he could do…was stand on the sidelines and watch quietly. He didn’t want to blurt out something that might cause Kirishima even more trouble, after all, and while he didn’t quite have the degree of control over himself he might have liked, he would still work to make a firm distinction within himself.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“No, I should be the one apologizing for making you watch Hiyo all this time.”
Yuki and her parents were gone by the time Yokozawa returned. “What happened to your friend?” He’d hoped to avoid seeming more suspicious than he already did by delivering some manner of greeting to Yuki’s father, but it seemed he’d missed his timing.
“They left already—but they said to say hi to you!”
“I see. Well tell them thanks from me as well.”
“Will do! I’ll be sure to tell them later.”
“My apologies for keeping you waiting as well, Oosaki-sensei.”
“Oh not at all; I’m the one who barged in on your outing today, so I should be the one apologizing. But I really did have a wonderful time.”
The atmosphere between Kirishima and Oosaki seemed to have reverted to normal, and Yokozawa couldn’t help but wonder how the conversation between the two had developed after he’d left. But he’d been the one who’d fled—and he’d been eavesdropping to begin with. There was no way he could ask, though he knew it wasn’t good to let secrets fester between them like this.
“Kirishima-kun, do you have any plans after this?”
“Not particularly. We were thinking about grabbing lunch on the way home.” His tone was back to its usual tenor now; they’d planned for the three of them to share a meal together after the exhibition, but they hadn’t yet decided where to dine.
“Then why don’t we all eat together? I’d like to take the opportunity to ask Hiyori-chan all sorts of questions! It’s not every day you get to hear comments from a real-live elementary schooler, after all, so I’d love the chance to chat. And of course it’ll be my treat.”
“Oh, we can’t let you do that.”
“Then we could split the bill? I know an adorable little cafe nearby. I’m sure Hiyori-chan would love it.” With Hiyori being looped into the conversation now, it was getting harder for Kirishima to refuse her, and when Kirishima groped for a response, Oosaki took her questions to Hiyori herself. “How about it, Hiyori-chan? Would you like to go? They have the tastiest desserts there! And I’d love to be able to chat more with your and your father.”
Hiyori’s expression grew conflicted when Oosaki addressed her directly, and after a moment’s uncertain hesitation, she mumbled pathetically in a tiny voice, “…My tummy hurts…”
“Did you get an upset stomach? That’s rare, for you to get sick.” The three adults went a bit pale with worry, and Kirishima squatted down to peer into her face for a closer look. Perhaps her quiet demeanor from before had been because she wasn’t feeling well, and Yokozawa kicked himself for not noticing.
Apparently Hiyori had often developed fevers as a small child, but once she’d started attending school, she’d rarely gotten sick. Indeed, Yokozawa could only recall one instance since he’d started dropping by the Kirishimas’ place that she’d been bedridden. This was the first time he’d ever heard her actually say her stomach hurt.
“It hurts…but I think I’ll be okay.” It was painful, seeing her try to force a smile as she put on a brave front for Kirishima. It showed how desperately she didn’t want to cause any trouble for her busy father.
“Hey now—I’m not telling you to put up wit it; if you aren’t feeling well, we shouldn’t go out to eat. We can stop by the clinic on the way home, too. You’ll feel better once we’ve had a doctor take a look at you.”
“I’m sorry…” she apologized, voice tremulous with unshed tears.
“What’re you apologizing for? You can’t help having an upset stomach. There’s no reason you should force yourself if you aren’t feeling well.”
“Oosaki-sensei, I’m sorry—but my daughter doesn’t appear to be feeling well, so we’ll be taking our leave today.” He dipped his head in a polite bow, and tucking back the flicker of his private side he’d just shown, he promptly returned to work-mode.
“It’s quite all right, please don’t worry. She shouldn’t force herself, so hurry back home. I’ll take my leave as well.”
“How will you be going back?”
“I was planning on taking a taxi, so I’ll just wait over there for a bit.” She pointed toward the taxi curb, and while it seemed that all of the cars were out at the moment, a quick phone call would have one pulling up to retrieve her in no time.
“Then I’ll stay with you until your taxi arrives.”
“I’ll be fine—you stay with Hiyori-chan. She’ll be worried if her father’s not with her, won’t she?”
“Why don’t I take Hiyo back to the car first, then?” Yokozawa had initially considered waiting with them as well, but he was keen to hear Hiyori’s thoughts in private. Hiyori had been looking at Kirishima this whole while like she wanted to say something, but given the burden of responsibility she felt, not wanting to cause her father any problems, she’d swallowed her complaints silently. She should feel fine, though, talking things over with Yokozawa, he suspected.
“…Sorry; I’ve done nothing but rely on you today…”
Kirishima decided to call Oosaki a taxi and see her off, so Yokozawa and Hiyori would head back to the car together. They could rest for a bit, now.
“No sweat, leave it to me. C’mon, Hiyo—hop up. I’ll give you a piggy-back ride.”
“N-no way, I’m fine! I can walk the distance to the car!” She shook her head from side to side, evidently a bit ashamed at riding on someone’s back in public.
“There’s no need to be shy around Yokozawa, you know that. Go on, have him carry you.”
“He’s right; don’t push yourself. Let people spoil you when you’re sick. Or would you rather I hold you like I did for your Field Day?”
“…I’ll ride on your back.” She must have weighed the options in her head and decided which was the less embarrassing of the two.
She climbed up onto Yokozawa’s back, and after confirming that she had her arms securely wrapped around his neck, he stood. “There we go. Okay—we’re heading back to the car first.”