Now for the epilogue – or perhaps I should call it the conclusion of this case.
Having thought of a way how both of us could move forward without having to distort ourselves and having made the first step on that journey of a thousand miles, I wasn’t shaking with excitement, but rather really tired. I immediately returned home in order to recover from my lack of sleep during the previous days, but in the entranceway, I ran into a historically big annoyance – it seemed like Tsukihi had come back from Tōkyō, since there were some sneakers there that belonged neither to me nor to Karen.
I noticed it because I had formed the habit of checking the entranceway for shoes since Tsukihis and Hanekawas previous returns … but I wish I hadn’t noticed this time.
That’s right, thinkining about it, she said that she’d come back here one more time before returning to her life overseas. But why did it have to be today of all times? With Karen being on night shift, I’d thought that I could relax today. Oikura and Tsukihi really always have bad timing, as if they were planning for it … well, I don’t get this opportunity very often, I’ll interrogate this sister of mine inquisitively about her life abroad. I don’t think hearing about her messed up private life will have any merit for me, but at least it’s going to give me a negative example. I’ll listen to my little sister’s problems while thinking about Senjōgahara, who, accounting for the time difference, should be working hard in another country right now – or so I thought.
When I entered the living room for today’s last effort, none other than Senjōgahara, who, accounting for the time difference, should be working hard in another country right now, was sitting on the sofa with her legs crossed.
“Don’t give me ‘yo’!”
With my knees giving in, I was barely able to prevent falling over. I crawled towards the sofa.
“How did you even get in?”
"You really should change the places where you hide your spare key, you know?"
“You do know there are multiple police officers living here, right?”
“I’m sorry, I apologize, I’m an idiot.”
She apologized, looking me into the eyes directly.
That being said, the apology she had made with her dark sunglasses still on - as if she’d just come back from a place where the sun was blazing in the sky - sounded like it had been read from a teleprompter. But it also didn’t seem like she had apologized for some audacious trespassing.
Could it be that she came back just to apologize … ?
Judging by the sturdy-looking suitscase at her side, it was just like she’d come here directly without returning to her father’s home first – no, you can’t come to this conclusion just because of that.
“No, I was the idiot. There was some stress I had built up. I’m sorry.”
Even thought I had the feeling that I had been beaten to the punch, like I had been trumped, I sat on the sofa facing Hitagi.
It had been a plan I'd come up with using the brain I didn’t have, but I hadn’t discussed it with Hitagi at all.
Until reaching a certain point, I had wanted to do things based on my own decisions. I had wanted to show sincerity, but maybe there’d also been some stubbornness to it.
But well, even though I'd already planned on giving her a short call tomorrow, now that we’re facing each other like this, I couldn’t keep silent for even one more second.
I wanted to share my plans for the future with Hitagi.
“Hitagi. There’s something I want to tell you first. Is that okay with you?”
“By all means. As long as it’s not about breaking up for a fourth time. And as long as you listen to me first.”
She’s really taking the wind out of my sails, but well. If I just started blabbering without thinking, maybe she’d get mad at me for advancing the discussion by my own accord. I should think about how I want to convey it.
“I sent lots of mails to the CEO about establishing a Japan branch under the condition that I officially advance to team manager, and somehow it took shape. It’s not the final decision, but as soon as the budget problems are cleared, I can come back to this town together with my higher-ups and the team this spring. That way I can live together with you again.”
She had advanced the discussion by her own accord.
What? Whaat? Whaaaaaaat?
She put conditions on her promotion? Not only that, but she ended up involving her higher-ups and her team? Just in order to come back to Japan? Just to not be separated from me anymore?
“There had been talk about a Japan branch for a long time, I just put it forward … now my father’s going to be my full-fledged rival, but well, a daughter has to overtake her father eventually, right?”
I think that saying is about a son, but there’s also no law saying that a daughter can’t overtake, too.
That being said, what is this. We were thinking the same all along. No, to be precise, I only planned on progress under conditions by working under the organization’s system, while Hitagi change the system of the organization altogether, moving forward under her own conditions. It really was like I had been trumped…
But now … what do we do with this now?
Could there be such a gift of the Magi sent from overseas?
If Ougi-chan were to phrase it, it be a gift from the fool.
“What’s up? If you’re not happy about it, I’ll cry”
“I am happy about it. I have never been happier … I’m having trouble not breaking into dance here. But, Hitagi. Are you ready to prepare yourself and listen to what I have to say too?”
Now that it’s come to this, I really just want to wait until the symbol of peace who was once called Hanekawa Tsubasa is going to erase all boundaries between countries. But I can’t just wait arrogantly for that day. When that situation eventually begins to be tinted with reality, Hitagi may have to keep watch on the affairs of international finances while I’m going to, at worst, have to manage the whole thing.
That’s why we should talk about things now.
“What are you on about. ‘Prepare yourself’ … you’re really keeping me in suspense. You’re not really going to talk about a fourth breakup, are you? I’m going to cry if you do that.”
“That’s not it, I’m telling you. There’s no way I’d want to do that, why do you want to cry so much. Anyway…”
Anyway, why should I talk about breakups when we haven’t even made up properly yet? That’s the first thing we have to do. Because no matter how ordinary it may be – I don’t want us to be looked at as a couple that separates and gets back together all the time. I had enough of dragged-out reconciliations.
I extended my hand and took off her sunglasses. I pretentiously did it because I thought that the fact she was wearing them inside the house meant that she wanted me to take them off. It seems like my assumption had been wrong. Hitagi had wanted to keep her eyes, which looked red and swollen as if she’d been crying for days, covered.
Now, if I said what I am about to say, she might cry even more … but I’m someone who has started practicing languages. Putting the other things aside for now, I want her, who has spent a long time over there, to check my half-baked pronounciation.
“I love you”
After opening her red eyes wide, Hitagi answered shyly, as if she was smiling while crying,
The concluding words were not something fancy, but from our personal memories.