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E6 - 6 This article contains HEAVY spoilers. Please view at your own risk.

This is Chapter 4 from Volume 8 of the Toradora! Light Novel series. The text is from Baka-tsuki.

Transcript

To confirm what Minori really thinks.

In other words, to confirm whether Kushieda Minori is willing to go out with Takasu Ryuuji. And would her thoughts be affected by the fact that Takasu Ryuuji is no longer involved with Aisaka Taiga's life?

If he could obtain the answer to that, then he would be able to relay the thoughts that he was not able to relay during that night on Christmas Eve, and once again repair the awkward relationship between themselves.

For Ryuuji, this was the true purpose of the field trip.

"Takasu, it's your turn! The word is 'come'."

"... 'Come on'!"

Ryuuji quickly snatched the microphone which Kitamura, who sat beside him, handed over and yelled his answer. "That's your answer!?" "I thought the topic is only limited to painful, sadness and bitter stuff?" -- All the classmates in the coach booed at Ryuuji as a result.

Ryuuji quickly cleared his throat,

"Um... ah... 'come for over time'! That's painful enough, right? The word is 'time', next!"

Ryuuji randomly gave his answer, and passed the mike to Taiga, who sat at the other side of the aisle,

"'Time'!? Time out... no, that won't do. Um... time, 'time to move home'! That should be painful! OK, Minorin, 'home'."

"Great answer!" Everyone approved Taiga's 'time to move home' answer.

It was the first day of the field trip.

Six coaches were transporting the entire second year students towards their destination, the snow mountain ski field. But as the scenery along the highway was too boring, the students began to get carsick. So someone took out a microphone and suggested, "Let's sing some karaoke!" But there were only enka songs available on the coach, so the students of Class 2-C ended up playing shiritori with a specific theme.

Though it was quite mundane, and the mood wasn't really that enthusiastic, but at least it was better than watching the dull gray tarmac road outside.

"'Home'... 'home', and it has to be something painful and sad..."

The mike had now passed to Minori, who knelt on her window seat with one leg. She seemed to be in deep thought, as she grunted silently while furrowing her brows, since the punishment for whoever loses was to keep singing until they drop dead.

"Kushieda, your time's almost up!"

"OK! Time to countdown! Ten! Nine--! Eight! Seven! Six--! Five! Four! Three--! Two! One..."

As everyone clapped with the countdown, Minori suddenly took a deep breath, and then her eyes narrowed,

"HOME------!!!" She yelled with veins popping out of her forehead, the mike amplified her voice throughout the coach. "My ears!" "That's too loud!" "Are you crazy!?" ... The whole class writhed in agony, but Minori took no notice of them, as she held the mike with her right hand, while her left hand shivered as she said,

"... Was where I felt a sudden impact, not knowing what was going on. But as I opened my eyes, I realized I couldn't speak... Why!? Why was it there?"

As though going through some spiritual connection, Minori's panting sound was transmitted through the mike, but she continued,

"Why was it there? Did I throw it away already? I took it to the shrine to have it exorcised, and I already prayed and apologized to it, but why did that cursed doll still returned to my room? I certainly didn't take it home, but there it appeared right before me! I quickly clasped my palms and begged it, 'Please stop following me already. There's nowhere for you to stay here, I no longer need your protection.' I was so afraid that I didn't notice the doll's eye sockets were hollow. I guess our eyes met at that moment, and I got terrified. Stop that! Stop that already! Please! Stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it!!! Don't look at me don't look at me don't look at me don't look at me don't look at me!!! No, no, stop stop stop!!! Ah--- Stop that! Don't look at me!!!"

Minori shook the seat in front of her wildly, causing the girl sitting in front to yell softly; Taiga, who sat beside her, began moving her eyes around; even Ryuuji was out of breath and was unable to move, and could only cover his mouth like a speechless housewife. Though he was determined to ask Minori what her thoughts really were, no one had asked her to tell a scary story.

"'The one who has no where to stay... is YOU!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!"

"Kyaaaaa!!!" "Noooooo~~!"

Surrounded by horrendous screams everywhere, Ryuuji quickly closed his eyes. "Eek..." Even Taiga was cuddled up and covered her ears as she whimpered softly.

"Your story was hardly scary at all, what's scary was really your voice and expression!"

Ryuuji very much agreed with Kitamura's opinion, but looking at Minori, it didn't seem like she was feeling sorry about it, and only stuck her tongue out in jest and smiled,

"And so that's it. The syllable is 'Aaa'. You're next, Amin."

"... How was that story bitter anyway!?"

"That was a true ghost story titled 'Not my doll', which is actually a bit bitter."

Minori remained squatting on her seat as she passed the mike to Ami sitting behind, who was feeling rather unpleasant from the scary story just now, and flicked her hair roughly as she received the mike and clicked her tongue. "Tch!"

At first Ami had no intention of joining the field trip, and she told the 30 Year Old Single Lady that she needed to take a vacation so she could work, but she got flatly refused. "You're a student, and joining a field trip is your obligation!" Since she couldn't use her work as an excuse, there was no other way she could get out of this, and so she ended up coming along.

"'Aaa' is it? 'Ami-chan's mood right now'! Maya your turn! The word's 'now'!"

"Great answer! As expected from Ami-chan!" The classmates applauded wildly, but Queen Ami-chan's mood hardly improved as she sulked and hid her face beneath the curtains.

"Ehhh~~!? 'Now'... 'Now I got dumped on Valentine's Day'."

"Kihara... you started with 'ehh~~'!"

"That doesn't count, so you lose!"

Maya quickly complained, "How come Kushieda's scary story and Ami talking about her mood is counted, but getting dumped on Valentine's Day isn't!?" Unfortunately, there was no fair judge to mediate. Everyone, including Ryuuji, no longer wished for the mike to return to Minori, neither did they want to provoke Ami again, who was in a bad mood. Besides...

"Well, that's because we all want to hear Maya-chan sing enka, heh heh heh!"

Haruta said with a smile that looked disgustingly smug, much to the agreement of most of the guys.

"What!? What kind of joke is this!? How can that not be counted!? Of course getting dumped on Valentine's Day should be counted!"

The coach entered a tunnel. Ryuuji, who was about to say something, felt his ears ringing as a result, and so frowned and swallowed what he was about to say.

The tunnel was short, and very soon a bright spot could be seen at the end, and it was getting larger.

"... Eh!?"

Maya, who still held the mike, was the first to exclaim.

Ryuuji was suddenly blinded by a bright flash of whiteness, just when he was confirming what that brightness was, his breath was quickly taken away by the dazzling sight.

"No way! It's snow! Snow! Now's not the time for shiritori! This is too beautiful!"

Hearing Maya yelling into the mike, Ami too opened her eyes and jumped up, "Wow! Amazing!" Ryuuji and the others too all sat properly, making all sorts childish exclamations at the view outside.

For the first part of the journey, all they could see was dirty snow under the road fence, which was more black than gray, but now was different. Ryuuji and Kitamura grossly squeezed their faces together onto the window and cried out like girls,

"Awesome...! What's all that glittering stuff!? It can't be snow!? In this fine day!?"

"It is snow! Oh wow! Since when did we enter the world of Kawabata Yasunari? This is too beautiful!"

The coach was bathed in a dizzying white light, as the view outside was glittering.

"Beautiful!" The classmates seated by the windows all opened them, and the coach was quickly filled with the fresh, cold air from outside. Everyone felt refreshed upon breathing in that air, as though being reborn.

Emerging from the tunnel, they were faced with a white, silvery and shining world, the reflection of light by the snow was dazzling, it was different from any of the snow they had ever seen.

"Wow! This is the first time I've seen something like this!" Taiga yelled as well, sticking her head outside the window with Minori. This idiot might just fall out the coach like that! Ryuuji secretly worried, but was soon relieved when he saw Minori tightly grabbing Taiga's jacket.

Everyone was kneeling on their seats and watching the view outside.

"Fantastic! Oh wow, I think I'm getting excited!"

"I never knew a snow mountain can get me fired up like this!"

"Snow country! This is snow country!"

"Wow~~! Camera! Quick! Someone get this on camera!"

The mountain range that the noisy students of Class 2-C was heading towards shone in a solemn white, it’s tough exterior was covered with white snow, while the golden sunlight shone on its peak, which shot skywards.

"Hey, this trip may turn out to be great! Snow mountain's not that bad!" The thoughts of the entire Class 2-C were now combined as one.

Even the 30 Year Old Single Lady sitting at the front turned her head excitedly and pointed towards the peak and said,

"Alright everyone, feeling fired up!? Let us all yell loudly at the mountain we're about to visit---"

"AHHHHHHHHHHHH-----!!!!!"

Their voices were in unison, so were their hearts. Amidst the excited cheers and applause, the driver silently muttered,

"... We're not even headed towards that mountain at all..."


  • *

"Hey, no fair... How come you managed to look cool in that?"

"Really? Cool? Well, I guess I do look good in these track suits."

Under Noto's envious stare, Kitamura stood at the gathering point while looking at his own rented skiing costume. This costume can only be described as "very purple", from top to bottom, while emblazoned on the chest and legs were some "very golden" lightning logo. In any way, it was a hard to describe skiing costume, while the material was made of silk... That's right, silk.

Just the costume alone was already weird enough, but everyone was also required to have a large name badge placed on their chest. The name badge wasn't even white, it was light blue, which seemed to be the representative color of Class 2-C. The students from other classes also wore melancholic expressions, for they had to adorn their own colored name badge for their class, ranging from green, dark red, bright red, and brown.

Ryuuji thought, It's incredible that Kitamura can make this look good on him. Wearing his skiing boots, he looked quite dashing as he stood on the firm snow. Whether it was how he wore the costume, or the fact that he's an athletic youth to begin with, that skiing costume suited him just as it would suit a member of a proper skiing team. Even Ryuuji had to agree with Noto, Kitamura's not playing fair.

Not long after arriving at the hotel, each person received this hideous skiing costume. Each team of boys and girls went to their own rooms to get changed. (The rooms were quite difficult to describe in words. To put it simply, it would be the type of Japanese-style rooms that would make Minori pretty excited.) After changing, they were to gather at the entrance of the ski-slope not far from the hotel according to their class.

"Takasu, you certainly look frightening in that..."

"Shut up. I don't need you to tell me that."

Seeing Noto's apologetic eyes, Ryuuji bit his lips hard. For someone with a face that resembled a Buddha when smiling, a demon when crying, and a fugitive when speaking, there was no way such a colorful skiing costume could match up with him. Ryuuji looked as deplorable as those dolls with exchangeable heads, or rather, like a transvestite assassin who lost his makeup after an intense battle.

As for Noto, he resembled one of those puppets in those old traffic safety ads.

"Ha! I have discovered the secret to why Kitamura looks good in this skiing costume! That's because he's wearing a fur cap and hanging a pair of goggles over his neck! Noto-chan, Taka-chan, let's learn from him as well!"

Haruta, who was constantly mumbling, resembled a delinquent that just came out of jail and found himself coming to the wrong place... in other words, extremely pathetic. Though they decided to believe Haruta's suggestion, and mimicked Kitamura by wearing a cap and hung a pair of goggles...

"..."

"..."

"..."

They each had different reactions, since they were speechless at how each other looked. They just looked different, there was no way they could match Maruo the girl-magnet... Though there was no point in them laughing at each other and hurting each other's feelings either.

Forget it. No matter how lame and terrifying I look, my charm was never in my dressing sense anyway. Ryuuji came to that conclusion and breathed in the cold air from the snowy mountain. The air was fresh, and the lungs felt refreshed from its iciness and cleanness. Even the nauseating feeling in his head caused by the carsickness during the coach trip felt as though it was wiped clean by a paper wiper.

Above the concrete floor of the ski-slope entrance was a thick layer of snow as high as a person. There were students from other classes happily munching on the snow, leading to the local skiers to comment, "That's filthy..." They're already high school students, and yet they still do something so embarrassing. Though truth was, if no one were watching, Ryuuji would have done the same as well.

Actually, snow itself wasn't something to really marvel about, but as this was Ryuuji's first visit to a ski resort, as well as seeing this much snow, he never knew the snowy view could be this dazzling.

The scenery was so beautiful that the mother-complex within Ryuuji swore, I’ve gotta take some photos later tonight to show to Yasuko!

It was only now that the girls casually appeared. Upon seeing their outfit... "Pft!" "Wahaha! Look at you guys!" The guys quickly forgot their own appearance and pointed at the girls while laughing out loud.

And then...

"You look pathetic...!"

"Hahaha!"

Taiga, who tied her hair into long braids, had veins popping up her face. For even Ryuuji couldn't resist laughing upon seeing her outfit.

She was dressed completely in pink... or "extremely pink"! Adorned with a blinding green... or "extremely green" curved lines stretching from the left shoulder all the way to the right leg, as though trying to give a sense of speed. The material seemed to be made of silk... no, it was indeed made of silk. Not to mention the light blue colored Class 2-C name badge on her chest.

While the guys' costume was horrid, the girls' weren't any much better. For some reason the costumes were designed as a one-piece suit, with a slim waist area. Though when someone as small as Taiga puts it on, she would look as though she has grown 1.7 times her size. It would only take a small gust of wind to blow her off to the mountains over the other side, just like Mary Poppins.

"Heh... heh heh heh! You look... heh heh heh!"

"What's so funny!? What's there to laugh at anyway!?"

Taiga was close to exploding, roughly kicking the snow as she treaded along,

"H, h, how do you expect me to maintain my dignity as a human being when I'm being forced to wear such a costume!? Do they seriously want me to take a class photo in this!? What if some incident were to happen someday, and this photo were to be used by all news outlets? Won't it be broadcast nationwide and on all magazine covers, as well forever archived in the National Library!? Just thinking about that is scary enough! I don't want this!"

"Well, it's fine as long as you don't commit any crime..."

"It'll be the same even when I'm a victim! This photo will be shown to the whole world... Pft! What is that you're wearing!?"

Taiga seemed to finally noticed what the guys were wearing. Ryuuji's appearance got her rolling on the ground laughing. "Suit yourself," Ryuuji was calm as a puddle, since Taiga looked just as hilarious. That makes us even. Ah... The air sure is fresh, and what a wonderful scenery.

An endless stretch of blue sky.

A slope went upwards from the entrance, at the top was a large wooden hut, while on its side was a ski elevator. The tracks of skis and snowboards sliding down formed a beautiful pattern on the slope.

While the sparse white ski track was dazzling to the eye, the students costume was so hideous that even the mountain gods would laugh at them if they saw them.

"Hey! You guys! Don't underestimate the snow mountain! And don't get charmed by yetis... WHOA!?"

Chasing behind Taiga was Minori, who quickly went speechless upon seeing the guys' attire,

"Wow... you guys have such colorful costumes as well that it's imprinted into my retinas... Kyaa!"

The guys also became speechless by the way Minori appeared.... she suddenly fell backwards, landing on the snow on her bottom, and spun in circles. At first they thought it was because the snow was too slippery...


"Ow! Hey! Who threw a banana skin here!?"

But next to Minori's feet... sorry, bottom, was a banana skin.

"Minorin, are you alright? Can you stand up? Are you hurt?"

Taiga went forward to help lift Minori up. "Here, take my hand." The guys weren't the only ones watching this commotion.

"Sorry about that, looks like my bum has... whoa!"

"WAH...!!!"

As usual, the clumsy Taiga slid down together with Minori, who was trying to get up, and they both fell on their bottoms at the same time, embracing each other and yelling while rapidly sliding down the icy slope.

"Hey, wait! No way!? Don't come over here!!!"

"Yah! It's dangerous! Stop!"

"Sorry~~!!!" Falling like bowling pins, the pretty girl trio who were standing together were also shoved into the soft snow.

"T... Taiga, Kushieda! What are you guys doing!?"

"Really~! It's embarrassing and cold..."

"S, s, s, s, sorry! Maya-sama, Nanako-sama! Here, take my hand! Sorry Amin! Are you okay?"

Minori bent down and lifted the three of them out of the snow one by one. Maya and Nanako, who were completely covered in snow, slowly got up--

"Amin? Huh? What's wrong?"

Someone couldn't get up.

Ami's head was buried in the snow, her bottom facing outwards. And she remained motionless in that strange posture. "No reaction, just like a dead person." Taiga muttered. Even Haruta was screaming... not because he got electrocuted, but because he heard what Taiga said.

"Oh no, Ami-chan must have lost her will to live, that's why she couldn't get up."

Maya looked at Ami's bottom and said, even Nanako nodded,

"The skiing costume is just too hideous, even just now we had to carry her over."

Ryuuji thought, How could something this ridiculous ever happen? "Alright!" As expected from Ami's childhood friend, Kitamura came towards her and said to everyone,

"Now this is going to look embarrassing for her, so please don't say anything while I do this!"

He wrapped himself around Ami and pulled hard, finally managing to pull Ami's upper torso up and removed the snow on her head,

"Ami! Get a hold of yourself! You alright?"

"... Where is this place...? What happened...? Am I dead...?"

Wearing a horrid skiing costume, Ami merely replied incoherently. Her pretentious mask and mischievous face had vanished, leaving behind a stupid looking face with an empty gaze and wide-opened mouth that hardly resembled that of a model.

"Wow, she really has lost the will to live, poor girl..."

"Anyone got a felt-tip pen? I'm sure Bakachi will return to her senses if you write 'CHANEL' on her costume."

Just when Taiga was seriously looking for a felt-tip pen, someone yelled,

"OK! Everyone gather up! Line up together according to your group... PFT!"

Everyone instantly stared at the 30 Year Old Single Lady, aka Koigakubo Yuri. Only she brought her own snow board and wore a trendy skiing costume. And it's white! Damn her! She quickly lowered her head and said,

"... Your costumes are really amazing... It's completely beyond my imagination..."

Standing before the single row of ultra purple and ultra pink army with light blue name badges on their chest, the 30 Year Old Single Lady struggled to contain her giggling. "Hee hee hee, hee hee hee, hee hee hee hee hee..." Not even covering her face with the roll-call book could conceal her laughing.

"Hmm." Kitamura correctly guessed the intention of his classmates, and instantly became a revolutionary warrior. Ami too stood up, her eyes filled with a dark rage. The objective: To rebel and take over the city. Kitamura raised his right hand,

"... Ready, aim..."

Everyone in Class 2-C picked up a snowball by their feet and held it tightly...

"Huh? What? No way? What's going on? Eh?"

"FIRE!!!"

"NOOOO~~!" At Kitamura's command, everyone mercilessly threw their snowball at the 30 Year Old Single Lady. The students from the other classes, along with the regular skiers, all pointed at her and laughed.


  • *

After greeting each other and warming up, the entire second year students were separated according to their groups and allowed to roam around freely. The snowy slope was scattered with purple and pink spots. To prepare for the proper lessons in the afternoon, there would be about an hour to allow the students to get used to the snow and recognize their skiing abilities.

At the wide skiing field under the gentle slope, the nine-person team led by Kitamura each put on their own rented skis.

"Whoa...! Whoa, whoa, I'm sliding! What do I do with this!?"

This was Ryuuji's first time riding on skis, after taking his time to fasten his ski boots onto the ski bindings and managing to stand up, he began to slide wobbly down the slope.

"Change the direction of the skis so that they're perpendicular to the slope!"

Kitamura quickly suggested, but...

"Wha!? Perpendicular!? How do you... WHOA!?"

"Use your poles! If you can't stop then land on your backside! Stay calm and don't hurt your knees! Move your centre of gravity forward!"

"Wha!? Whoa, whoooaa!!!"

The poles were not much use as they were being swung round and round, the V-shape made by the skis was getting wider and wider. My legs will rip apart! Ryuuji panicked, and after losing his balance beautifully rolled onto the surface.

"... This isn't fun at all!"

Ryuuji sat up and grumbled, staring at his skis which were facing towards the blue sky. Besides that he also saw...

"Alright~~ Look at this snow, this is great~~ Heh heh~~ watch this~~"

Minori paced forwards and backwards on the firm snow, making sure the snow could withstand her weight. She then stepped onto her skis and began twisting her hips left and right.

Ryuuji couldn't understand her behavior. Finally Minori skied down along the slope in one go, causing snow to fly all over before turning rapidly to stop. She could already perfectly control her skis just by moving her centre of gravity.

That movement was so awesome that Ryuuji even forgot how pathetic he looked as he remained lying on the snow. He was totally mesmerized by the sight of Minori skiing. Her short hair could be seen under her furry cap, which made her look cute in a way. Ryuuji couldn't move his eyes away.

Ami clapped with her rented gloves, speaking out what Ryuuji was thinking,

"Minori-chan you sure can ski! You look good, as expected from a sporty girl!"

"Heh heh, really! By the way, Amin you're good at it as well!"

"Eh~~ no way, that's impossible! This is just normal~~!"

Ami, who kept on saying her skiing was normal, was sliding smoothly forward on the slope less mountain as though skating. Humming, she placed her centre of gravity on one foot while dancing an elegant dance, and returned to the spot after drawing a curve on the snow. If this is "normal", then what am I who can't even stand properly? A freak!?

Ryuuji has been trying to stand up, but his skis kept bumping into each other, and the front parts were hooked together, which meant he was unable to move freely. Not to mention half of the ski was stuck in the snow, further adding to his immobility. And so he lay there paralyzed. For me to look so pathetic, I guess I'm hardly normal.

Ryuuji panted while lifting his head up in an embarrassing posture, and saw Maya and Nanako smiling happily,

"Lessee, form a pizza shape... Hey, I did it, I did it~~! Pretty good, huh~~?"

"Slowing down with the V-shape technique. I never thought that I would still remember something I learned back in 1st year of junior high!"

Even they are skiing well! Besides Minori, Kitamura and Ami, it seemed this wasn't the first time Maya and Nanako had skied as well.

Don't tell me I'm the only one in this group that can't ski? Wouldn't that be damn lonely? I’ve got to find someone else who can't ski! And just at this moment,

"Takasu, why're you sitting there like that? Let's ski!"

Noto's glasses reflected the sunlight, and trudged roughly forward before Ryuuji's face. And just behind him--

"Actually, I'm better at snowboarding~!"

With his long hair fluttering, even Haruta slid in an elegant movement as he came before Ryuuji, and even happily hummed a song. Before Ryuuji could open the seal on his evil third eye on his forehead, he realized, Oh yeah, I remember Haruta said before that his granddad used to live next to a skiing field.

Ryuuji sensed himself being abandoned by everyone. "Traitors!" And glared and muttered at his friends. At this moment, a skiing pole suddenly slipped out of his hand, as he quickly tried to hang on to its strap, the pole had already slid rapidly down the slope. Ryuuji could hardly even get up, let alone chase it, and so he could only stupidly watch the pole slide even further away.

"Aha, found something!"

Whoosh! Someone spun around and spraying snow all over, and helped Ryuuji picked up his pole. It wasn't till she placed her goggles on her head that Ryuuji realized it was Minori. She just looked so energetic when she's engaged in sports.

"This is yours, right, Takasu-kun? How could you lose this? You gotta make sure you put the strap on properly!"

Even her lecturing looked so dazzling that Ryuuji struggled to open his eyes. Together with the shiny reflection of the skiing field, it looked as though Minori was really glowing brightly.

"Hey! Are you even listening!? Take it, and make sure you hold onto it tightly!"

"Oh... sorry!"

As though attracted by that smiling face, Ryuuji involuntarily stood up using the remaining pole on his hand. Hey, I stood up! Maybe skiing could be easy after all... Just when he was thinking like that...

"... WHOA!?"

He slipped, and was heading towards Minori. Ryuuji swung his pole trying to maintain balance, but his lower body was completely stiff, and the ski was spreading out towards different directions. "Whoa!" "It's good! Charge towards my embrace!" Minori robustly spread out her arms. "I hope so!" Ryuuji wanted to shout, but...

"Whoooooaaaa!!! I, I'm sorry...! This is too embarrassing...!"

"Whoa! It's alright... don't worry too much about it!"

There was nothing more embarrassing than this.

Ryuuji was practically leaping towards Minori. Thanks to her grabbing him firmly, he managed to come to a halt, but as a result, both had them had also fallen onto the hard snow...

"... I'm really sorry...!!!"

"It's okay! Really, don't worry about it!"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, ahhhh... I'm really sorry...!"

His constant apologies only made him look more pathetic. Ryuuji was lying on top of Minori, his terrifying looking face was rested on her chest and he could not get up. The more anxious he got, the more their skis got stuck together. As they were separated by their skiing suits, Ryuuji could hardly feel Minori's body. How fortunate! No, I'm serious! Ryuuji quickly tried to get up and moved his limbs about.

"... Takasu-kun, you really don't have to worry too much about this, and there's no need to panic..."

"No, no, no, no, no, I'm s, s, s, s, sorry! I'll get up right away! Just hang on!"

"... Actually, whenever you move your ski, you'll hook into my butt..."

"Whoooaaa!!! No waaaay!?"

As though being possessed, Ryuuji managed to push himself away from Minori, his face was as red as a drunk ghost. Using his goggles to conceal his flustered face, he sat on the snow and squirmed embarrassing,

"H, how could I do something like this...!? This is too embarrassing... I, I don't think I can live anymore! Please just leave me here and not pay attention to me anymore!"

"I should be the one who's embarrassed! Anyway, hurry up and get up! Come!"

"Whoa!?"

Minori slid gently and came behind Ryuuji, grabbing Ryuuji under his arm and pulled him upwards. Ryuuji could finally stand firmly.

"W, whoa, wait...! I'm sliding forward!"

"Oh dear... but hey, you can ski now! That's good! Keep it like that!"

"Of course not! This isn't skiing, I just can't stop sliding, that's all!"

Minori supported Ryuuji from behind, and they slowly slid down the slope while being together.

"Let your body remember this balance! We'll keep it like this for now~~!"

"No way!?"

Grabbing Ryuuji's armpits, she threw away her poles and placed her skis on top of Ryuuji's. After maintaining their balance, Ryuuji relaxed his knees and began to lean forward.

"Whoa... oh, oh, whoooaaa..."

This was his first time skiing. The four skis had managed to slide forward in this uneven slope. I see. Since my ankles were fixed by the skiing boots, I had to use my knees in order to ski properly. Though his body could now get used to this method...

"Whoa, hey! This is still quite scary!"

"Don't worry, you won't go too fast in this slope! Just make sure your skis don't overlap each other!"

"Whoooooaaaa!"

"Speak English!"

Minori yelled right behind the cautious Ryuuji,

"Very good! You've learned how to ski! You're amazing! I was in 3rd grade when I first learned how to ski, and this was how my dad taught me!"

"I, I feel... quite embarrassed!"

"Why's that?"

"I'm no 3rd grade schoolgirl, and you're not my dad!"

"Hahaha! Well said! You've won yourself a sitting cushion!"

What do you mean well said!? Ryuuji's retort was dispersed by the wind. Now he has indeed maintained a V-shape for his skis and slid slowly along the slope, as well as getting used to maintaining his balance. Though it was still very early, but he felt he had finally grasped the basics of skiing.

As a result of this, his other thoughts were quickly swept to the back of his head, replacing the anxiety in his head.

This included the feel those hands on his, as well as the breathing behind his back.

"...!"

As he realized this, those feelings were transmitted to Ryuuji's body even more through their costumes, and he became more mindful of how people would see them.

It wasn't long ago that Minori didn't dare to touch him anywhere save his sleeve, yet now she was embraced with him like this. If she really hates me, she wouldn't do such a thing, would she? Just what is she feeling right now?

"Alright! You should be able to ski on your own, right? I can let go now, right?"

If so... would I be able to get an answer different to the one I got during that night in Christmas?

"K, Kushieda...!"

Just what are her true thoughts..."

"WHOA! Don't turn around!"

"Whoa!?"

One movement had destroyed their subtle balance, and their skis quickly bumped and tangled into each other. Minori fell towards the side while Ryuuji landed on his backside.

Though they had tripped, it was quite a hard fall, and for a while Ryuuji could hardly catch his breath.

"... Ow... Are you okay!?"

Ryuuji quickly looked for Minori.

"Ow ow ow... I'm okay! Nothing's happened to me!"

Right behind Ryuuji, Minori stood up while patting the snow off her suit, and wore back her fur cap as she looked at Ryuuji,

"If you're to ski, then you must be prepared for such small things! You've underestimate skiing! Alright! Now start by standing up by yourself!"

Minori pointed at Ryuuji like a teacher. "Whoa!" Though as he tried to get up, Ryuuji quickly fell back down facing the skies, spreading his arms out wide.

"Oh, what a pity! And you were just starting to get used to it! By the way.. where're my poles?"

Minori looked puzzlingly at her empty hand, Ryuuji nearly fell again,

"Weren't you the one who threw them off!?"

"Eh! Really? Darn, I picked up Takasu-kun's pole but tossed my own, I feel so stupid. I'm gonna go get my poles!"

Even without her poles, Minori still managed to trudge up the gentle slope on her skis, leaving a V-shaped markings on the snow.

Being left behind, Ryuuji could only look at her back, though he still couldn't get up.

Though it was different from what Minori said, but Ryuuji could feel it was good... the mood between the two of them.

If all this could go on smoothly... Now why am I still foolishly hoping for this!? I've already been dumped, isn't this a bit too shameless?

Looking around, he once again remembered the fact that he had been dumped. Suppressing his enthusiasm, he did his best to ignore the expectation slowly growing within his heart.

He breathed slowly, telling himself to remain calm, and removed the skis which he could hardly use while on his own. Yet his head was full of thoughts. No! If I can't calm down, how am I going to find out what Minori truly thinks...

"OOMPH!"

A sudden impact caused Ryuuji to land into the snow with his face. WHAT THE HELL!? As Ryuuji stuck his head out...

"Don't just stand there like an idiot, you wooden pole!"

He then realized he just got ran over.

Behind him was Taiga - her tiny figure was riding on a sled and barging everything she bumps into, and was now scowling fiercely at Ryuuji, who was at a loss of words and merely sat there,

"W... why... why you...!!!"

"Huh? Did you say something? Damn, you're in my way! It took me some time to get this thing moving smoothly forward, and now I've stopped again thanks to you!"

Taiga finished what she wanted to say, and sat upright on her red plastic sled, swinging her legs besides the sled in a vulgar fashion to move it forward, after a bit of acceleration the sled began moving again, however--

"OOMPH!!!"

"HEY!"

She once again ran over Ryuuji.

"Enough! You're really pissing me off! Why did you go under my sled!?"

"W, w, w... what did you say!?"

Ryuuji stood up angrily, yelling at Taiga as he approached her,

"I should be the one asking why! Why'd you run over me!? Can you please not run over me!? It's not like I want to be run over!"

"Oh shut up, there's no need to yell so loud... What? You sure are annoying, why're you so worked up? Did something piss you off? Alright, alright, I get it, I'll do as you say. Think of it as a special treat from me."

Taiga shrugged her shoulders as a matter-of-factly, her eyes had that "So what?" look on her as she lifted her haughty face and smiled a generous smile.

That face, and that manner of speech.

"NNGGGHHHAARRRRGGGHHH!!!" This was the first time Ryuuji's throats has made such a wail, which when translated into American English would be "Goddamit!", and in Chinese would be "Aiyaaa!" Yet Ryuuji would use "nngghhaaargh" to express that feeling. He placed his hands on his head before spreading them outwards and yelled again,

"What's pissing me off is that I've been run over! By you! And that sled! TWICE!"

"It's not like I want to ride on this sled."

Taiga sat properly on the sled and placed her hand under her chin, and gave a reply which had nothing to do with Ryuuji's fury. "Wha!?" Ryuuji grunted while thinking, If those ears of hers are incapable of comprehending human speech, she might as well discard them!

"I tripped twice after renting the ski and headed towards this way, and both times my skis had ended up hitting the 30 Year Old Single Lady. After picking up the ski for the second time, I tried to get to where everyone was, but when I turned around, the skis whacked her yet again."

"T... this really is..."

Something worth listening to... I must remember not to get too near Taiga whenever she's holding onto any long objects.

"So she said it was too dangerous and forbade me from using skis, so I had to ride on a sled instead. Is this something a teacher should be saying? Oh well, since I can't ski, and this suit sucked anyway, so I don't really care."

"WHAT!?" Ryuuji couldn't help yelling, and pointed towards Taiga, his eyes gleaming,

"So you can't ski!"

"Why're you suddenly getting so excited for? How gross!"

Though Ryuuji still felt pain at the back of his head, at least he discovered something useful - someone other than himself who can't ski. That's right, he had nearly forgotten about the existence of the clumsy dumb tiger.

"And I thought I was the only one in our team who couldn't ski, so you couldn't as well."

"Eh!? No way! Though it's expected that Minorin and Kitamura-kun could ski, but is it true!? Even that idiot could ski!?"

"Just look for yourself, he's pretty much enjoying himself."

"EHHH!?" Taiga looked at Haruta, who leisurely skied past them, and moaned. She rubbed her eyes like a comic character, making sure she saw it right.

"This must be the end of the world... sigh... skiing's so boring. Why must I sit on this long board in order to ski? We're not exactly Eskimos, there's no meaning riding on this thing."

"I feel the same way... but you shouldn't be moaning. How about asking Kitamura to teach you? That guy loves teaching people. Or has he already taught you with all his passion?"

"What's there to learn with riding a sled?"

She's right, actually. Sitting firmly on the sled, Taiga just seemed quite persuasive,

"What about you... shouldn't you be seeking Minorin's help rather than lecturing me?"

"For your information, she already has. If it wasn't for you running over me, I would have continued going after her already."

"Wha? What's that supposed to mean? Stop trying to shirk responsibility, you hopeless dork!"

"Hmph!" Taiga turned her head away and snorted, puffing white steam out of her nose,

"Really... looking at you. What's the point of me volunteering to live on my own?"

Come to think of it... Ryuuji realized he hadn't talked alone with Taiga in a long time. It wasn't long ago that the two of them were doing the same things together every day and every night. Even just chatting for a while like this, he found that the muscles he rarely used were starting to become stiff and fatigued.

"... That's right, I never thought you would last this long."

Ever since Ryuuji got hospitalized -- which happened that Christmas night after he got dumped by Minori, Taiga had not been spending her time with Ryuuji. Though they still saw each other at school, it was really a long time since they were alone together.

"You've been working hard."

Hearing Ryuuji say that, Taiga proudly puffed her chest and flicked her braids away and said,

"Of course! And I'm going to keep working hard for the rest of my life! You should as well, as gratitude for my kindness! I'm not doing this for you, ultimately I'm doing this for myself."

.. To continue practicing living alone and become a grown-up.

"And that's it. Now get out of the way! Or you'll be run over by me again!"

"... Aha! So you did do it on purpose!"

"Oh well, that was just a different way of expressing it."

Taiga revealed an evil smile and began to move the sled, preparing to slide down the slope.

"Whoaa!?"

Is this divine punishment? The sled suddenly fell backwards before Ryuuji, the flying snow making a strong contrast with the blue sky. Seeing such an elegant tumble, even Ryuuji couldn't help but yell,

"I don't believe this! Really... you can even trip while riding on a sled, just how did you manage that!?"

"Owww~~ That gave me a fright, I pushed too hard!"

Ryuuji carried his heavy snow boots and trudged towards Taiga, after pushing the overturned sled away, he attempted to give a hand to Taiga, who was covered in snow.

"I don't need your help!"

Taiga bluntly rejected his offer, and stood up by herself, patting off the snow in her suit and climbed back on the sled.

"I think... it's a bit dangerous for you to be riding a sled by yourself, how about you play something else?"

Ryuuji instinctively placed his foot onto the sled. Taiga turned her head and clicked her tongue, glaring at him with a twisted face,

"Shut up, I told you I'm fine! Get your foot off! Scram!"

"I can see it already... As you slide down the slope, you find that you can't stop, and after crashing into a wooden hut, you'll break a bone and you'll cry... From then on, whenever it rains, gets cold, or becomes humid, that wound will torment you for the rest of your life... That's how it'll be... You poor thing."

"Why you..."

Feeling scared, Taiga widened her eyes. It seemed like Ryuuji's words had affected her as her face stiffened,

"You say you're worried about me, yet you still manage to say such inauspicious stuff..."

"Well, it is possible. Especially for someone as clumsy as you."

"I told you I'll be fine! I don't need you to look after me anymore! Let go of your stinking foot!"

Taiga yelled as though about to bite, and moved her legs as she attempted to move the sled. It's not my feet that stink, it's those boots... Ryuuji thought of such mundane stuff while biting his dried lips.

That's right, maybe Taiga doesn't need me to take care of her anymore. No, rather than not needing, what's more important is that I shouldn't be obstructing Taiga, stopping her as she struggles to be independent, regardless of whether it's dangerous or not.

If I forcefully stop her, it'll be like I'm sulking at the fact that I don't want Taiga to grow up before I do.

Maybe it means I'm really hopeless.

"LET--- ME--- GO---!"

"..."

Just as Taiga pushed forward with all her might, Ryuuji also lifted his foot.

"WAHH---!? Don't suddenly let go---!!!"

"Ah...!"

Taiga's kicking on the snow was more powerful than Ryuuji had imagined, without any obstacles, the sled went full speed down the slope, not even Ryuuji could stop it if he stretched his arm out. "I----- CAAAAAAAN'T----- STOOOOOOP-----!!!" Only Taiga's screams remained behind as she slid three meters down.

"OOMPH!"

And smacked right into a small snowy dune. The sled was completely upended, and Taiga was thrown forward, burying her face in the snow. "I told you so..." Ryuuji muttered softly.

"I don't need you to help me! But it's definitely your fault that I've tripped!"

Taiga said in a low, threatening voice while covered all in snow. Ryuuji stood still and lifted his hands high, stating that he understood and wouldn't make any move.

POW!

At this moment, a torrent of snow flew towards Taiga, startling her and causing her to fall again. As she was still wondering what happened--

"KYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! AHAHAHAHAHAHEEHAHAHAHAHAWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

The non-stop laughter echoed around. The one who used the tip of her skis to shove the snow into Taiga, and laughing till her jaw nearly dropped was none other than Ami.

"Bakachi... you bastard..."

"How pathetic! I can't believe you managed to trip even on a sled, that has got to be a rare sight! How can there be such a klutz like you? Ami-chan is head over heels. But isn't that a bit sad? Though looking at it another way, it's actually a talent, kyahahahahaha!"

Ami pointed at Taiga with her ski-pole and laughed till tears came out her eyes. Taiga's eyes slowly changed, her pupils slowly widening, and her curly hair starting to straighten.

"... Kawashima, shouldn't you start running?"

"Ami-chan's skiing isn't so poor that she would get chased by someone who can't even ride on a sled. Come on, you can chase me if you have a problem. Who knows, you might actually chase me if you roll over in a snowball like a comic character? Pft... hahaha!"

"See ya~~!" Ami prepared to ski off elegantly, but...

WHAM!

The sled which Taiga threw out had smacked the back of Ami's head with precision. Before the trembling Ryuuji, Taiga silently pounced on Ami, who had fallen on the snow.

The scene resembled one of those Tibetan sky burials. "Stop!" Taiga sat on Ami, who was lying on the snow, and slowly removed her skis. "AAAAHHHH!" Her skiing costume was being yanked and her lifeless limbs were about to be torn apart.

"S, she's being eaten...!"

Even Ryuuji felt terrified and covered his mouth. Taiga was sitting on top of Ami, who was frothing at the mouth, and after holding onto one of Ami's sockets, laid her fangs down and took a bite.

"Hahahaha!" At this moment, Kitamura arrived behind them with a casual demeanor, turning while carrying a smile which you often see in TV commercials, and took off his goggles as he asked,

"Ami, Aisaka, what're you guys doing? Even if the snow mountain environment is relaxing, you mustn't do anything weird... OWWW!"

Ami, who was trembling non-stop, used her final breath to swing her skiing pole and jabbed it towards Kitamura's crouch.


  • *

"Kushieda, Ami and Haruta will go to the Advanced Level Class; I, Noto, Kihara and Kashii will go to the Intermediate Level; while Takasu and Aisaka will go to the Beginner's Level."

"Got it." After hearing Kitamura announce how the team will be split up, the rest of the team all responded politely.

The weather was still fine, the illumination of the strong afternoon sunlight made the white skiing track even more dazzling. It was so bright that one might think he might go blind without goggles.

After splitting up based on their abilities, the students began to commence their skiing lessons in earnest for the afternoon. As they came to the ski lift terminal, they each split up accordingly.

"Don't you have the guts to go up the hill with the Advanced Class?"

"... You sure demand stuff which even you yourself can't accomplish. I think I'll stay with sleds."

Whispering together, Ryuuji and Taiga sighed. During lunch, they have heard that the Beginner's Class was only a class in name, it simply involved gathering those who can't ski and have them ride on sleds and build snowmen at their own leisure.

Why must we do such things on a school field trip? On the other hand, this is far less painful than falling in the snow while skiing. If I forced myself to join the Advanced Class just to be with Minori, I'll end up being an annoying burden as everyone will have to take care of me. No matter what, I really can't expect Minori to stand behind and support me all the time when I can't even stand on the skis on my own, can I?

"Then let's head for the ski lift terminal! Follow me! Remember to hang your ticket straps over your necks!"

Kitamura showed his leadership skills as he stood charmingly at the front, and everyone began following him and marched forward. The other classes also began walking towards the terminal. It was quite a sight to behold to see an army of colorful costumed students trudging along with skis in their hands.

Maya hurried up alongside Kitamura and said to him,

"The ski lifts are double seaters, right? I want to sit with Maruo~!"

Hearing this, Ryuuji instinctively turned to look at Taiga, who was walking just behind him. Yet Taiga merely shrugged her shoulders, mainly because they were headed in different directions, and wouldn't be riding together anyway.

"Alright, I'm fine with it. But don't you want to ride with Kashii?"

"We want to take pictures of each other while riding on the ski lifts! We won't be able to photograph ourselves fully if we were riding together. Right, Nanako?"

Maya waved her newly dyed brownish hair and jabbed at her friend Nanako, who then smiled her usual elegant smile and said,

"Yeah, that's right."

She then looked at Ami standing beside her. Ami rolled her round chihuahua eyes and smirked. Seems like the Pretty Girl Trio had already come up with a plan to capture Kitamura. Taiga must be feeling anxious! Ryuuji got close to Taiga's face and asked,

"... Taiga?"

"EH!? W, what!? Don't suddenly lean your face over like that!"

Upon looking at Ryuuji's eyes, Taiga instantly leaped off five meters.

What's with her...? Ryuuji frowned and wondered, Taiga definitely looks strange. Her crush Kitamura is about to get snatched away by Maya, and yet she's acting oddly.

"... Is it me or are you behaving strange lately?"

"Lately? What do you mean lately? And how am I strange? I'm pretty normal! N-O-R-M-A-L, you see?"

Something IS wrong with her. How is that normal? Especially her relationship with Kitamura.

It's not just her behavior now. Now that I think about it, something hasn't felt right for some time now, it's as though Taiga's no longer as close to Kitamura as before.

If it were the Taiga before, she would quickly lose her bearings upon finding out that the field trip would be divided into teams, and would blush and shout, "I wanna be in the same team as Kitamura-kun!" Though she still ended up being on the same team as Kitamura, yet when he found out about it, he discovered Taiga was actually more concerned that he and Minori would be on the same team. Maybe it had something to do with Ryuuji getting dumped by Minori, yet for some reason, Taiga's relationship with Kitamura, how should one say it, had somehow got cooler...

"... What do you want? Will you please stop staring at me? That's horribly gross!"

"..."

"I said don't stare at me!"

No, I had to stare.

Now I remember, could it be the opposite? Ryuuji recalled during the meeting in Taiga's place, the way Taiga conversed with Kitamura. It just felt strange now that I think about it. They were too natural, and too close. As though they didn't need to say anything else. They would understand what each other was saying just by mentioning "that incident before".

"... Did something happen between you and Kitamura?"

"EHHH!? N, No! O, o, o, of course not! Nothing's happened... has there? Though I say nothing, but if I have to say it, I guess... there's something... How should I say this... Um..."

Before Ryuuji's low inquisitorial voice, Taiga's face changed colors as quickly as a traffic light. It was a rare stunt to behold.

"H, haven't I told you before? T, that's right. I went to the shrine, you know... for the New Year's prayers? We went together."

"..."

Why didn't you tell me?

-- Ryuuji couldn't say it out, he quickly deduced that doing so would make the mood even more awkward and would get blown out of proportion.

You could've told me. Now I know why you two get along so well.

The reason Taiga didn't say this was because she was able to face Kitamura calmly. Her reaction was not one of coldness, but of calmness.

"Well, you just got out of hospital then! And one thing came after another! I can't be the only one happy around here? Like I said, I feel responsible for it, so... HEY! Why must I explain this to you!? What is this!?"

"... Why're you getting angry for!?"

Taiga's face went red, and then crimson red, she stomped the snow hard with her ski-boots and her eyes glowed,

"Why must I report everything to you? There're things I don't feel like saying! People that say whatever that comes out their heads are weird people! What's wrong with not saying something one doesn't want to say!?"

"I never said you were wrong! Why're you getting worked up for? There is something strange about this! You haven't been causing any trouble behind my back, have you?"

Even Ryuuji was taken aback by his own tone. Hearing Ryuuji's words, Taiga erupted and yelled,

"W, w, why you! How could I tell you everything!? There's way too many things you'll never understand for the rest of your life! I'd rather DIE than tell you! How could I tell you!?"

"Then suit yourself! If you don't want to say it, then don't! On the other hand, I have been telling you everything! Ah, so I see! So that's the way it is! I don't care! Not at all! If you don't want to tell me or let me know, then take it with you to your grave! What's it got to do with me anyway!?"

"I was planning on doing that anyway! What do you know anyway!?"

Close to tears, Taiga lifted her sled and began to whack at Ryuuji. Ryuuji was not about to stand and get beaten, and so lifted his sled and retaliated. Why are we fighting each other? Why did I make Taiga cry? Even Ryuuji wasn't sure himself, he just felt mad that Taiga was hiding something from him, and even started attacking him, which was why he retaliated. If I kept silent, I'll just get beaten up.

As the red and blue sleds knocked onto each other, right behind them, Kitamura's voice boomed,

"WHY ARE YOU GUYS FIGHTING!?"

"It's all her fault!" Ryuuji turned around instinctively, and ended up getting whacked at the back of his head by Taiga's sled. "You bastard!" And kept on beating at him.

"Stop! Noto! Kihara!"

"Huh? He wasn't talking about us!?"

Ryuuji tripped at the surprise. "A person like you would never understand!" And managed to dodge Taiga's last attack. As she used too much force in that attack, she fell straight into the snow.

They finally realized they weren't the only ones fighting.

"Why are you always shamelessly getting in my way!? You're so annoying, annoying, annoying!!!"

Maya ignored Kitamura's calls and kept hitting Noto with her skiing pole. Seeing someone who rarely goes ballistic doing so, Taiga commented, "She's gone mad...", while totally forgetting that she was the least qualified to say so. Noto was not content with being beaten, though, so he grabbed Maya's pole and threw it back.

"That's your problem, Kihara! Always doing whatever comes to your mind! Doing everything just to get what you want! You're the one who's devious!"

"I haven't been doing anything devious!"

"Yes, you have! Only thinking of yourself! It's the same every time! Just now as well---!"

Noto pushed his glasses and said, "... W, what's going on!?", only to be attacked by Maya's pole again.

"Oh, you two are done? They're just getting started over here."

Nanako nonchalantly kept a distance from the bickering pair, and explained to Ryuuji and Taiga what just happened.

A while ago when Kihara was planning to ride on the ski lift with Kitamura, Noto taunted her and said, "Kihara is up to something again." Upon hearing this, Maya quickly retorted, "That's none of your business." To which Noto replied, "Always showing herself off. Sure pisses me off." -- What then followed was what everyone had seen.

"I've been wanting to ask you for some time now, Noto-kun. Why are you always obstructing me!? WHY!?"

"Who's obstructing you!? I was merely helping my good friend achieve happiness! Right, Haruta? You know I'm right!"

"Yeah~!" Haruta joined in the battle and placed his arm around Noto's shoulder,

"Sorry about that~ Kihara, but your devious plans are just~ too gross! Our legs are shivering just seeing all that."

"Huh!? You idiots can go ahead and shiver your legs wherever you like, what's it got to do with me!?"

"Alright--- Enough, stop! Peace! How'd it become like this?"

Minori got in between them and tried to mediate, "Let's get along with each other, okay? We've come all this way for our field trip! Okay, let's end this now and let me Kushieda take care of this!"

But Noto shoved Minori's shoulder and said, "What do you mean let you take care of this!? Kushieda, all you ever do is act crazy! Sorry, but I'm going to speak everything on my mind today! This is really pissing me off!"

"I'm the one who should be speaking my mind here!"

Maya and Noto glared even more furiously at each other. "When have I ever acted crazy!?" Minori protested loudly, but Noto and Maya both ignored her. Feeling troubled, Kitamura could only intervene by snatching away their skiing poles,

"Really strange! How did it end up like this? You guys should calm down and not get so upset!"

"... Oh my, looks like we have another fool here."

Hearing his childhood friend interrupting, Kitamura could not conceal the anger in his face,

"... When you say fool, were you referring to me?"

"If you don't understand the reason why they're fighting, then of course you're a fool. Sigh--- really, Yuusaku, are you born dense or are you just pretending to be dense?"

"What are you trying to say!? Stop being so pretentious and let it all out!"

This time it was Kitamura and Ami's turn to quarrel. Maybe because she was his childhood friend, his words were three times harsher than usual, while Ami's were five times that.

"You want me to say it, right? You really want me to say it clearly, right? Whatever it is that Ami-chan says, Yuusaku is just going to play dumb and say, 'Oh! I don't know anything!' And act all surprised without having to bear any responsibility. You always place yourself in a safe spot, and act so innocent as though it's got nothing to do with you. Excellent-- You're always like that, since long ago."

"What's that you say!? What do you mean by safe spot!? What do you mean by always like that!? When have I ever been like that!?"

"... Are you serious? You really don't know the reason why they're fighting?"

I don't believe this. Ami rolled her eyes and looked up towards the sky. Kitamura glared at her while looked irritated. Ryuuji thought, That's the sort of person Kitamura is. Even Noto and Haruta exchanged understanding glances. That's how Kitamura always is, why are the girls acting as though they only realize now?

Even Nanako, who had been quietly witnessing the whole thing, remarked softly,

"No way... Maruo, could it be that you're really that dense? Being ignorant is also another way to get people hurt, you know..."

"WAAAHHH!" --- Maya began crying. Nanako and Ami quickly ran towards her and embraced her.

"Are you alright!? Come on, stop crying, Maya-chan."

"You poor girl... Noto-kun you've gone too far. I think what you just said was very offensive, hurry up and apologize to Maya-chan."

"Me!? Why should I!? You're saying I started this!? In the end it's all my fault!?"

Under Maya's crying and Ami and Nanako's cold stares, Noto muttered, "I feel like crying as well, okay..." He was totally not cute, but still pitiable. So Ryuuji went towards him and patted him on the back.

"Takasu-kun, you traitor! Sniff sob!"

"Huh? Now I'm the villain!?"

Maya, her face full of tears, glared at Ryuuji,

"Ahn yoo on de same side as me---? I fot yoo were on my side---? Yet not only ah yoo not helpin me--- yoof even gone an patted dat bastard's back---! Wah---!"

What Maya was trying to say was: "Aren't you on the same side as me? I thought you were on my side? Yet not only are you not helping me, you've even gone and patted that bastard's back---! Wah---!"

Though she was unintelligible, good thing Ryuuji was used to hearing Yasuko talk like that all the time that he was able to understand. But even though he understood what Maya said---

"I, I already said you've got it all wrong!"

But Maya didn't seem to want to understand, and Ryuuji's words didn't get into Maya's heart. (To put it simply, Maya would never hear any words spoken by someone like Ryuuji.) Ami hugged Maya, who was crying nonstop, and glared at Ryuuji, so too was Nanako. "Hmph!" Taiga was ignoring Ryuuji for something completely different, and walked towards Ami. Even Minori had to sheepishly join in with the other girls, she too was staring at the boys, though she didn't ignore them with a "hmph!"

Ami looked at the girls around her, and nodded with a satisfied expression, and spread out her arms as the leader of the girls and said,

"Alright, everyone, let's take Maya-chan to the bathroom! You guys are the worst."

Staring at the boys, the girls walked slowly, with Maya at the centre, and walked away. Nanako even turned around and added a parting shot,

"To make a girl trying to get close to you cry... I think that's just too mean."

Other students nearby jabbed each other and asked, "Hey, what just happened?" "Looks like there was a fight!" "Someone got a girl crying!" "Ehh!?" The nosy crowd decided to interpret what just happened on their own.

The boys that were left behind looked at each other and nodded their heads.

We were definitely right.

There's no need to apologize to the girls.

Because we did nothing wrong.

Exchanging their thoughts telepathically, they placed their hands on each other's and shouted, "HA!" And motivated themselves. In this way, who cares about skiing? Who cares about moving together as a team? They quickly withdrew their hands since it was getting too gross, the four boys then went towards the ski lift heading towards the Beginner's Course.

They weren't going to ride on sleds, neither were they going to build snowmen. They just wanted to go to a place where no girl would be able to hear their moaning.

Light Novel
Main Series' Volumes

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