[translation] Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi ~ Yokozawa Takafumi no Baai 6, Ch. 11 part 1169
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 and Kirishima discuss what he heard in the stairwell–as well as what he DIDN’T hear.
Chapter 11 (cont.)
”I guess that about does it.”
Yokozawa had been engrossed in chores the entire morning: he’d taken care of his pile of dirty laundry, run the vacuum cleaner over the floor, and swept, and given his little-used bathtub a good scrubbing, making even the kitchen sink sparkle. Engaging in physical activity like this kept his mind from dwelling on ridiculous things—though perhaps, he considered, he ought to be thinking harder on them.
Spending time with Kirishima and Hiyori had become something of ‘the norm’ for Yokozawa, and days off spent alone now seemed to drag on and on. Even though a day off was his own to spend as he pleased, without concerning himself over others, he couldn’t help but worry.
Ever since that day, he’d lost his ability to maintain a proper distance with the Kirishimas. The harder he tried to keep any buffer he erected from seeming unnatural, the more awkward he came off. He couldn’t decide where he ought to make his cuts, how much space he should maintain, and before he realized it, another weekend was upon him.
He needed to do as Yasuda had suggested and establish boundaries, to keep an appropriate distance between himself and the Kirishimas—that was ideal. But he’d been utterly bowled over by the oblivious Oosaki’s desperation.
How awkward he felt was frustrating, but there was nothing to be done about it. And perhaps it was more than mere awkwardness he had to contend with, but his stubbornness. Giving in was necessary on occasion, this he understood—he just couldn’t bring himself to actually do it.
Logical consideration of the situation suggested that it was only natural their little pieces didn’t all fit together nicely. If he could have, he would have liked to have conducted himself with more finesse, but it just wasn’t working out.
“God, I’m pathetic…” He was getting fed up with himself, now, the way he kept obsessing over the same thing. If someone else had come to him for advice on this same situation, he probably would’ve told them they had no choice but to fight back. And yet, despite knowing this, he couldn’t help the air of desolate gloom that settled over him, depriving him of any viable answers.
Why did emotions have to be so damned difficult?
What had Kirishima and Oosaki discussed after he’d left? Yokozawa had all but fled the landing when they’d started discussing Kirishima’s late wife, so he hadn’t a clue what they’d talked about after that. When he’d joined them later, they’d both looked as if nothing at all had happened. The fact that she’d invited them out for dinner, though, suggested that Oosaki wasn’t one to give up so easily.
Kirishima and Oosaki would be spending a fair amount of time from now on as editor and author, and the media serialization of her works was a big project for the company. Oosaki would be above him, in terms of work relationships, and if she asked to meet him for a discussion of any sort, it would be difficult for Kirishima to turn her down.
Yokozawa understood there was no helping this. But, truthfully, that didn’t make it any easier to stomach. He’d always assumed that he was prepared to gracefully withdraw should a proper partner for Kirishima appear—but they had to be a woman perfectly suited to be Hiyori’s mother as well.
Lost in thought, he was airing out his futon and changing the sheets when the intercom rang with a soft pin-pon.
“A delivery?” He’d ordered a book on the internet a few days prior when he hadn’t been able to find it in the shops. Perhaps it had finally arrived. He didn’t bother to check the arrival through the video screen, instead heading for the entrance with his signature stamp in one hand.
“Sorry for the wai—Kirishima-san?!” He pulled open the door, eyes going wide when he saw who waited on the other side. He quickly checked his mental schedule to see if Kirishima had been supposed to come over today, but he failed to recall any such promise.
“What are you here for?”
“Oh, just stuff. I wanted to have a little chat—and figured it was time to enact my revenge from last time.”
“Last time…?” He thought he’d felt a sense of deja vu, only now recalling how, some evenings prior, Kirishima had arrived in a similar manner without warning. He’d run the conversation pretty much entirely on his own, then knocked Yokozawa down and promptly passed out on top of him. He’d apparently been pretty exhausted, as no amount of calling his name or shaking him had roused him.
“My one great regret in life is falling asleep on top of you.”
“You actually remember that?” He’d never brought it up before, so Yokozawa had assumed he hadn’t cared. Apparently he’d just been waiting for the perfect opportunity to turn the tables.
Kirishima shoved his way inside, taking care to lock the door and chain it shut behind him. It almost seemed as if he was cutting off Yokozawa’s escape routes, which was a little perplexing.
“What are you planning here?”
“You’re confined to your quarters.”
“Confi…” He was shocked Kirishima was able to say such a thing with a straight face.
“You like to run and hide whenever you panic, so I figure I’ve gotta do this if I want to ever have a calm, serious conversation with you.”
Apparently Kirishimam could see right through him, divining how he already wanted to flee the scene. If he admitted it, there would be no need to keep up appearances, but he couldn’t help putting on airs. “I—I’m not going to run away!”
“I’m gonna take your word on that, got it?”
“Off to see a movie with Yuki-chan. She said she’d be back by 5, so we should head back around then too.”
“We? I’m not going over to your place tod—”
“And by the way, I told her that you and I were going on a date of our own.”
“Wha—don’t screw around like that!” He went pale at Kirishima’s flippant comment.
“Don’t freak out; Hiyo just assumes I’m joking. Reacting like that makes it more suspicious, though.”
“Don’t tell bad jokes like that.”
“But it’s not a joke at all, so what’s the harm? Oh, here: a souvenir.”
“It looked tasty, so I indulged in an impulse buy. I decided against booze today; I’m sure I’d be fine, but I’d never live it down if I fell asleep just when things were getting good again.”
Yokozawa peeked into the plastic bag he’d been passed, finding fried goods inside—it seemed to be a croquette and menchi-katsu sandwich from the butcher’s shop near the station. “This is just snack food to eat with booze.”
“So eat it with your dinner, then. Put on some coffee, would you? And not the instant stuff—I want a proper drip drink.”
“Someone sure is bossy today…” But despite the annoyance of Kirishima barging in the way he had, being able to retreat to the kitchen granted him a small respite to organize his thoughts, and as requested, he put some coffee on.
Usually, this kind of regulated process was enough to calm his nerves, but today he couldn’t help the way his thoughts kept winding back to Kirishima, settled comfortably on the sofa. The coffee seemed to be flowing more slowly through the filter than usual.
What could Kirishima want to talk about? At the very least, he was clearly going to confront Yokozawa about his strange attitude lately.
When enough coffee for the two of them had been brewed, he filled two cups and headed back to the living room where Kirishima awaited.
He settled down next to Kirishima, sipping his coffee in silence. Perhaps because he’d been in such a hurry to brew the coffee, the aroma was weaker than usual.
Kirishima failed to start a conversation, and Yokozawa was similarly incapable of saying anything. It might have been easier to just come out and apologize, but what was he supposed to apologize for? He felt regret that he’d behaved so awkwardly this whole week, but it didn’t strike him as something he ought to express apology for.
While he stewed over how to broach the topic in his mind, though, Kirishima finally came out with, “…So is it Oosaki-sensei you’re worrying about right now?”
“………” Instead of responding in the affirmative, Yokozawa opted to just sit there in continued silence.
“Yeah, I figured. To be honest, I’d probably feel bad if you weren’t concerned about her. You were listening when she and I spoke at the exhibition last week, weren’t you?”
He inhaled sharply at the question. “Y—you knew?!”
“Yeah, but just me. I recognized the sound of you coming down the steps. I went out of my way to say more than I strictly needed to, just to make sure you overheard, but then you didn’t bother to stay to hear the whole thing.”
“………” His upset deepened as he realized that Kirishima had known the whole time he’d been eavesdropping.
“So how much did you hear?”
“About…about where Oosaki-sensei asked you if you couldn’t forget your late wife…”
“You’ve gotta be kidding—after that was the important part!”
“As if I could have known that!” Most people would have gotten angry at being eavesdropped on, but Yokozawa had never imagined Kirishima would be pissed at what he hadn’t heard.
“And that question was ridiculous to begin with; it’s ludicrous to think you could possible forget that you loved someone. Even if it’s someone who cheated on you and broke up with you, it’s not like you can erase the fact that you were in love. You can try not to remember, but you can’t make it like it never happened.”
“…Yeah, that’s true.”
The very existence of the past made you who you were now. If Yokozawa had never met Takano, if he’d never known how painful love could be, he might not be here with Kirishima now. Who you were…was a culmination of all the good and bad in your life.
“Oosaki-sensei didn’t seem like she quite accepted that, though, so I told her that I had someone I loved and that I was dating them, so I couldn’t respond to her feelings.”
“You told her?!”
“Calm down—I didn’t say it was you. And then, when she asked me if I was going to marry that person…I told her that I wanted to be with them for the rest of my life.”
“The rest of…” Yokozawa felt his face flush a deep crimson at the bold announcement.
“When we left, she asked me to let her still love me. And well, it’s not my business to dictate people’s feelings; saying no wouldn’t have made her feelings disappear, after all.”
“So then, she still…?” Despite having been throughly rejected, she had absolutely no intention of giving up, it seemed. She would probably continue to pursue Kirishima through their work together.
“It’s not something she needed to ask my permission for, though; in fact, frankly, it’s fucking annoying.”
Yokozawa was struck by Kirishima’s harsh phrasing, and his blood ran cold at the thought of him being on the receiving end of such words.
“Did you…actually say that?”
“I sure as hell did. If I’d left things vague, she might still harbor some vain hope, and there was no way I’d ever be able to respond to her feelings, so I didn’t want to leave any room for misinterpretation.”
“Yeah, but don’t you think you went a little far…?”
“I realize I was pretty harsh, but this isn’t just my problem alone.”
“Well, yeah…but still…” While Yokozawa agreed with Kirishima’s rationale, he couldn’t believe how calmly he was addressing the issue. This couldn’t have been the first time he’d been confessed to, and Yokozawa was amazed, grasping just how experienced Kirishima had to be with this type of situation. Despite the circumstances, he didn’t let his feelings waver, keeping a steady course in his love for one single person.
This realization left Yokozawa feeling like his heart was going to be crushed with emotion. “—“
He’d never meant to feel jealous of Oosaki, but the fact that he’d felt like her lesser showed how strongly he felt he couldn’t compete with her. She held a station he couldn’t hope to reach, and there’d been nothing he could do. It wasn’t a competition, and she wasn’t snatching Kirishima from him—nor did he want Kirishima to compare the two of them. It just hurt, that was all.
“And anyway, if she just wanted to stay in love with me, she should have kept her mouth shut and done just that. What the hell did she need the permission of someone who’s already got a lover for? There’s no way she couldn’t understand that no proper adult would go around making trouble for someone else like that!”
“Ah…” He finally realized what Kirishima was getting at. People were free to feel whatever they pleased, but once you involved someone else in those feelings, it was no longer just one person’s problem. Professing that you would “continue to care” for someone could be taken no other way than to assume that meant they would simply wait for the object of their affections to change their mind. She’d put herself forth as a partner to consider, to be compared with Kirishima’s present partner.
“Those emotions might be pure if you keep them hidden inside your heart, but once you start making them known to others, that’s when they become selfish.”
“You’ve got a point…”
“I mean, I’m not deluding myself that romance is all sunshine and daisies; I know perfectly well there’s a dark side, and I know that sometimes it helps to involve those around you. But I absolutely couldn’t forgive her using Hiyori to further her intentions.”
“!!” And now Yokozawa understood why Kirishima had taken such a harsh tone with Oosaki. The woman had kept clinging to faint hope, even after their discussion, and invited them out to dinner. Hiyori feeling sick had undoubtedly been because she’d sensed that Oosaki’s efforts were fueled by self-interest.
“Of course, I’m angriest at myself for worrying the both of you with my indecisiveness,” he admitted, scorn in his voice that spoke strongly of the regret he felt over his attitude.
“It’s not like you could help it, given the position you’re in. She’s a really important author for the company.”
“Even so, I should know my priorities. Who gives a shit about work if I can’t protect the things most precious to me?”
“To think the day would come when I’d hear those words from your lips.” He’d expected Kirishima to spout some drivel about how you couldn’t call yourself a proper adult if you couldn’t juggle your job and your family. He must’ve been really pissed at Hiyori being used against him like that.
“And just so we’re clear: you’re acting like this has nothing to do with you, but you do understand what I’m saying, right?”
“I told you I want to protect the things most precious to me, and I’ve got this guy now who gets bent out of shape when a woman as beautiful and talented as her professes her love for me.”
“……” Yokozawa lifted his head to find Kirishima staring down at him, as if watching over him. He wasn’t being conceited just now; he knew quite well that Kirishima was talking about him. Perhaps Kirishima had seen through him, discerned just how unsettled he was by the situation, long ago.
“Things don’t always work out the way we might want them to in relationships; that’s just human nature. But whenever possible, I want to show that I care for you. I don’t want to worry you, and I don’t want you treating me with kid gloves either. I guess that’s just my way of being selfish, though.”
“~~~!” Yokozawa’s face was heating with emotion, his mind a bubbling pot about to overflow, and he couldn’t manage the words to respond to Kirishima.
“She asked me if it would’ve been better if she’d confessed to me sooner, but I’m confident that love isn’t about who gets there first. Sure, maybe timing does have some influence on whether or not there’s a spark between two people, but falling in love is more about who the person is, right?”
“Who the person is, huh…” Yokozawa muttered to himself—before a hand came up to slap him sharply on the back of the head.
“You’re supposed to agree with me there! Or what—are you suggesting that you would’ve fallen for anyone who comforted you after you got your heart broken, even if it hadn’t been me?”
“Yeah, I figured,” was the leered response to Yokozawa’s reflexive denial. Yokozawa grit his teeth, realizing he’d been played, but it hadn’t been a lie. “Anyway—I’ve wrapped things up with Oosaki-sensei now, so enough with the worrying.”
“You say that—but you’re still managing her work, right? You’ll probably see each other at meetings, and I can’t imagine her giving up so easily…” From the way Kirishima had put it, Oosaki didn’t seem the type to abandon hope just like that. Perhaps the strongest evidence of that was how she’d still invited them out for dinner despite being soundly rejected by Kirishima only moments before.
“I had her drop me as her managing editor.”
He gaped at Kirishima’s announcement. “Huh?! Are you sure that’s such a good idea?!” Oosaki’s sole condition for turning her work into a movie had been that Kirishima be in charge of the comics version. Everything could fall apart if Kirishima declined the position—and that would not be good for Kirishima himself, either.
“She agreed to it. It would’ve been tough on the both of us, after all. I’ll still look over her storyboards and approve any actions taken—I mean, I do like the story itself. But I think she can handle things without me.”
Still, even if she’d agreed to the move, that didn’t mean she approved of it. But there was no way to be sure, so if Kirishima said he’d wrapped things up, then Yokozawa had no choice but to trust that he knew what he was doing.
To be continued…