Maria-sama ga Miteru:Volume30 Chapter5
What Kind of Groups?
Yoshino-san emerged from the exit of the teacup ride and was almost carried by Rei-sama over to where Yumi and the rest were waiting.
"Don't worry about her. She's just woozy."
Rei-sama informed them, then escorted Yoshino-san away. Judging by the direction they were heading, they were probably going to the restroom.
"Let's leave this to Rei."
Indeed, they wouldn't accomplish anything by all following after Yoshino-san, asking "Are you okay?" And that's probably the last thing the sick person wanted too. Yumi was incredibly worried about Yoshino-san, but chose to resist the temptation to chase after her.
"Rei-sama really was keeping a close eye on her, wasn't she."
Neither Tsutako-san nor Shouko-chan had noticed anything strange happening with Yoshino-san. It was only as they were leaving the ride, when they noticed Rei-sama wasn't with them, and they heard Yumi saying, "I wonder if she's okay," that they realized something was happening.
Yuuki returned, a bit unsteady on his feet. His mind and body looked like they had taken severe damage from the double-punch of being spun to exhaustion on the teacups followed by Yoshino-san collapsing right in front of him.
"It is as follows: I won't be going on the roller-coaster today, so you should go ahead without me."
"A message for you, from Yoshino-san."
It wasn't really like they'd promised to go on the rides together, but apparently Yoshino-san's earlier invitation of, "Why don't we go on one of the rides? Come on, Yumi-san," was equivalent, in her mind, to a promise.
"Sounds good. Why don't you go and do that now, Yumi. Given how she was looking, Yoshino-chan probably won't be back for a while. The same applies to you too, Tsutako-san and Shouko-chan. I'll wait here, so if there's any other rides you want to go on, you might as well do that now."
The two photography club members excused themselves and left. Since they were heading towards the lake, it seemed unlikely that they were planning on riding the roller-coaster. As she watched them walk away, Yumi idly thought that Tsutako-san looked somehow different to normal. Although there probably wasn't anything wrong with her health, since she seemed to be enjoying herself immensely on the teacups with Shouko-chan and Rei-sama.
"Come on, you too Yumi. I'll look after your bags."
Yumi was still worried about Yoshino-san, and didn't want to leave her onee-sama either. However.
"That's an order."
Based on Sachiko-sama's tone of voice, Yumi knew she wouldn't tolerate any dissent.
Yumi left her bag with her onee-sama, taking only her handkerchief and her all-day pass.
"Well, shall we go?"
Kashiwagi-san lightheartedly offered his arm to her but Yumi chose not to acknowledge it, instead turning her back on him.
"Yuuki... I suppose this would be a bit too much for you."
Earlier, her brother had been enthusiastic about going on the roller-coaster this time around, but now he remained seated on a nearby bench, looking on with a listless expression. Given how things had turned out with Yoshino-san and the teacup ride, it was fairly obvious that he was willing to call it a day at this point. It would be unfair to make him go on the roller-coaster after all of that.
"I'm heading off."
Yumi bid her onee-sama farewell, then turned towards the roller-coaster entrance. Kashiwagi-san once more offered her his arm, which Yumi completely ignored.
"You don't have to be shy."
"I'm not shy. It's just embarrassing, doing something so pretentious."
The amusement park was a dream country, a fairy-tale country, but it was still unmistakeably a part of Japan. It wasn't like a formal dance, where it was customary to link arms. There were some couples who had reluctantly given in to holding hands, but she and Kashiwagi-san were not a couple.
Kashiwagi-san didn't appear even slightly discouraged by Yumi's response, or her labeling of it as pretentious.
"I can't help it. I've been raised since birth to be a prince."
"Of the ginkgo-tree country," Yumi thought to herself.
A child looked at Kashiwagi-san, as though he were something unusual. Well, that was true. A gentleman walking along, leaning slightly, with his elbow jutting out.
"Yumi-chan, you've grown so much."
Kashiwagi-san said, maintaining his odd pose.
"The way you said that, it seems somehow wrong."
Yumi coldly rejected him.
She was under no illusion that Kashiwagi-san was especially interested in her, but it was uncomfortably similar to how Hikaru Genji saw the young Murasaki in 'The Tale of Genji.' Not understanding the subtle nuance, the person in question smiled and said, "Wrong, huh." In this way, his breeding and his looks made him incorrigible. Yumi increased her pace, leaving the prince behind. She didn't really care if she wasn't with Kashiwagi-san on the ride. She could ride the roller-coaster by herself.
Still, stride length counted for a lot, and Kashiwagi-san soon caught up and was walking alongside Yumi. He wasn't making that odd pose, so perhaps he'd given up on that.
"Is there something, specifically, you're trying to say?"
But it looked like he was still continuing on with their earlier conversation.
"Like before. Really, you wanted to stay with Sacchan and wait for Yoshino-san to return. But you put yourself in her position and decided to go on the roller-coaster."
Yumi had intended to ignore his remarks, but was unable to do so once her onee-sama's name had been brought up.
"Yoshino-chan was probably worried that you would forgo the attractions and just wait there for her. That's why she gave that message to Yuuki, to prevent that from happening."
"Last time around, Sacchan fell ill midway through your amusement park date, and had to retire. Robbing you of your fun time. This time around, the same thing happened to Yoshino-chan. And you responded in a way that would please Sacchan. Of course, that's how Yoshino-chan wanted you to act too."
Yumi hadn't actually thought about it all that deeply. She'd just been following her onee-sama's orders, which seemed the correct thing to do. But maybe that had been part of her motivation, and she hadn't tried to self-analyze.
"Not really. I just wanted to go on the roller-coaster."
Yumi lengthened her stride, trying to get away from Kashiwagi-san. If it was true, then it was annoying that Kashiwagi-san was able to articulate it.
"Ahh but I find that petulant, childish side of you so cute, Yumi-chan."
"Give me a break."
Was there something he wanted to say?
Could he be flirting? No, Kashiwagi-san was supposed to be gay. Wait, was it that, or did they say he was bi?
Either way, if that was supposed to be flirting, then Yumi thought it seemed rather forced.
"But there's no way of stopping you from maturing, Yumi-chan. It's sad, but I have to recognize that there's also some good things to come of it."
Yumi was completely lost. She was fairly certain that he wasn't flirting, but it seemed awfully close. Seeing her confusion, Kashiwagi-san smirked slightly.
"Basically, you asked me if there was anything I wanted to say, and I want to express my gratitude to you, Yumi-chan."
So that's it. It was easy to forget, but Kashiwagi-san was actually Touko's cousin.
"But I didn't – "
Do anything deserving of gratitude. They had become soeurs, but only because they both wanted it. So it wasn't something that Kashiwagi-san should be thanking her for.
"You did. I wasn't able to save her. But you subdued her wild spirit, and melted her stubborn heart."
When Kashiwagi-san was talking seriously about someone he cherished, his face looked like a rough sketch of a stone statue. The stone statue and the smug look, they both belonged to the same person but they seemed like different people, leaving Yumi confused about how to deal with him.
"Since she's become your petit soeur, Touko's heart seems to have settled. And I put that down to you having a steady heart, Yumi-chan, and holding onto her tightly."
Yumi tilted her head in confusion. For some reason, that phrase got stuck in her head.
That was it. It was the true shape of the 'solidness' that Sachiko-sama and Shimako-san had both mentioned a few days ago.
Yumi wasn't too sure about this 'steady heart' business, so much as it could just have been that she wasn't on-edge recently. Which may have been why Sachiko-sama pushed against her behind the gymnasium.
"Did I, by chance, hit upon something with that phrase?"
Kashiwagi-san peered at her, smiling, the stone statue now completely hidden.
"That's a secret."
"Well then, why don't you take my hand as thanks."
The line for the roller-coaster had just come into view, so Yumi ran off ahead, knowing full well that Kashiwagi-san would soon catch up to her.
As thanks, Yumi decided to allow him to sit next to her on the roller-coaster, and to scream really loudly.
Yuuki's body had more or less recovered by the time Rei-san and Yoshino-san returned.
"Sachiko-sama, I'm deeply sorry for making you worry."
Yoshino-san faced Sachiko-san as she apologized. Yuuki could hardly believe his eyes. Incredibly, she had skipped over to meet them, twirling the jacket she was no longer wearing around in her hands.
What kind of magic had been used to bring about a full recovery in Yoshino-san? From listening to her conversation with Sachiko-san, it became apparent that she had spewed. Although Yoshino-san hadn't phrased it quite that crudely.
"And you too, Yuuki-kun."
Yoshino-san said, turning towards him.
"I'm sorry. For lots of things."
The predatory look she had had in her eyes when she grabbed Yuuki by the arm right before he was about to go on the teacup ride and the possessed look she had had about her as she continuously spun the teacup's wheel had both completely disappeared. Yoshino-san smiled sweetly, looking like a completely different person.
"It's okay. It looked like you were going through some tough times yourself, Yoshino-san."
Yuuki was relieved to see that the stormy atmosphere between Rei-san and Yoshino-san had dissipated.
The foundations were strengthened by adversity, or, rather, their petty squabbles vanished when something important came up.
After all, they hadn't actually been fighting, but there had been a cloud over them. And everyone else had been dragged into it. A certain amount of collateral damage was to be expected.
Yoshino-san asked Sachiko-san, as though she had just noticed that Yumi wasn't around.
"She went to the roller-coaster with Suguru-san."
"Oh, really? That's good."
Upon hearing Yoshino-san say, "That's good," Yuuki also thought, "That's good." If Yumi were still here then it would have meant that the meaning of Yoshino-san's message had been lost.
After sitting down on the bench in the gap between Yuuki and Sachiko-san, Yoshino-san said:
"I'm feeling kind of hungry."
"I want to get something to eat."
Was it normal for someone who had just vomited up the entire contents of their stomach to want to fill that space so quickly? Wouldn't it be better to give the stomach a rest for a little while? At any rate, she had recovered quickly. Too quickly.
"Wait here, I'll go find you something easy to digest."
Rei-san said, then walked off. Were there any limits to her tolerance? Yuuki watched Rei-san's shrinking figure with respect.
"Yuuki-san. Is it alright if I ask you to watch over our bags?"
Hearing his name called, Yuuki spun around. He was being asked to watch over their bags, which meant –
"Yoshino-chan and I are going to go for a short walk. We won't be long."
Judging by the puzzled look on Yoshino-san's face, this was something that Sachiko-san had decided on her own, not something that they had discussed.
"Well then, I'll leave these to you. Let's go, Yoshino-chan."
Regardless, it was a request from a senior. Yoshino-san followed along, even though she looked unsure.
"Wait. Wouldn't it have been easier for me to leave instead?"
By the time he'd realized what had happened, Sachiko-san and Yoshino-san had already left their bags with him and started walking. Left behind, the teenaged boy evaluated his situation objectively and slumped his shoulders.
Alone, sitting on a bench, looking after three women's bags and one women's jacket. If there were just one person's worth then it would look like he was watching over his girlfriend's belongings, but there were three bags. There was no easy explanation.
So then, would it be better to be embarrassed by the situation (as seemed proper), or to act defiant and adopt a, "Yes I'm looking after three women's bags. So what," attitude? If Kashiwagi-sempai were in his position then he'd probably respond with, "It's tough being popular," but there was no way Yuuki would be able to pull that off, so it was useless as a point of reference.
Yuuki slowly surveyed the area of the park around him. Everyone was so wrapped up in their own enjoyment that they didn't spare a single thought for the teenaged boy sitting alone on the bench. Much less what he was looking after – .
Yuuki called out. Just then, out of the corner of his eye, he had seen the fleeting likeness of someone he knew.
"Uh, uh, uh."
It was just for an instant. And then they'd disappeared behind one of the buildings. But he was fairly certain it was them.
Yuuki stood up, ready to give chase. If he were to dash off now, he was certain he'd catch up to them. After all, his quarry was a girl who was simply walking along.
But three bags and a jacket were literally weighing Yuuki down.
"Ah – geeze."
Sachiko-san had told him to mind their bags, so there was no way he could just leave them behind.
What to do, Yuuki. How will you weather this crisis!?
Fukuzawa Yuuki made his decision and started running.
"Why did things sour between you two?"
Sachiko-sama asked as they walked.
Yoshino-san's silence elicited a small smile.
"I don't mean to interfere in someone else's affairs, but I can't stop worrying about it. Maybe it's because graduation is getting closer and I'm starting to get nervous."
Yoshino thought that it was Rei-chan and herself, not Sachiko-sama, who were acting nervous.
"I won't bother you with what sparked it, since it was completely trivial. But neither of us were willing to back down. In other words, how to put this … it was stupidity."
"From both of us."
It wasn't in her nature to be docile, but Yoshino understood the situation. After hearing that, Sachiko-sama would say nothing further. If Yoshino had stubbornly replied that it was Rei-chan's fault, then she would have received a lecture from Sachiko-sama about it.
"Still, that's not like Rei."
Sachiko-sama said, after thinking for a while.
"That's for sure."
Yoshino-san agreed, walking beside Sachiko-sama. Rei-chan was, fundamentally, a patient and tolerant person. Knowing this, Yoshino believed she could do whatever she wanted and Rei-chan would still forgive her. So, for Rei-chan, going on ahead after waiting for five minutes and trying to force an apology from Yoshino was not like her at all.
"I don't know what you think sparked all this, Yoshino-chan, but perhaps there's something more to it than you think."
"The root cause of all this … It may be that Rei's displeased with something, but you haven't noticed it."
About how she was acting like a spoiled brat right before Rei-chan's graduation? Or how she needed to be more self reliant? Nonetheless, Yoshino was fairly confident it wasn't something so abstract.
Sachiko-sama probably thought so too, for she offered the following example:
"Perhaps there's something she wants to talk to you about."
"You mean, like an apology?"
"I think it would be something else, don't you?"
Even without Sachiko-sama's response, Yoshino knew that her answer was wrong. After all, the apology came after the act. It's not like Rei-chan's heart had hardened because Yoshino rarely apologized.
(There's nothing Rei-chan wants to say to me, right?)
Suddenly, Rei-chan's words came back to her.
"Did you just remember something?"
"Yeah. But it's a bit, umm … "
It was a bit faint, but she'd caught it. Perhaps Rei-chan hadn't been looking for an apology on the bus. But something else. There was probably something else that Rei-chan had wanted to hear.
"By the way, what happened with Nana-chan?"
Hearing that keyword, the penny dropped.
"… That's it."
Sachiko-sama's eyes widened at Yoshino's utterance.
"Yoshino-chan. Are you saying that you didn't even tell Rei about what happened with Nana-chan?"
The 'didn't even tell Rei' part stung her ears.
"Yeah. I forgot."
It wasn't just Rei-chan – she hadn't said anything to Yumi-san or Shimako-san either. She'd just forgotten.
"And how about the phone call to Nana-chan? You did call her, right?"
"Yeah, of course."
Yoshino had taken care of that last night. That part she hadn't forgotten.
"But Nana had some things she had to do, so she said she wouldn't be able to make it. Of course it's possible she was just being polite … she's a bright kid, after all."
"Whereas I'm really quite dim. It wasn't like I was intentionally keeping it from Rei-chan, but it still probably made her feel like she was being excluded."
Yoshino had been somewhat relieved that Nana-chan wasn't coming and, after a night's sleep, had forgotten all about it. Much like chickens that forget what they're doing after three steps. And then Yoshino got carried away with thinking about how she would hide under her bed covers and surprise Rei-chan.
"As long as you understand, you can change things."
"I'm going to talk to Rei-chan. Then I'm going to apologize."
"That's how a bright kid would handle it."
Sachiko-sama put her arm around Yoshino's shoulder as they walked along. When Sachiko-sama said, "Shall we return?" and altered their course, they happened across a rather unusual scene.
"Oh … Isn't that Yuuki-kun?"
The sight of a teenaged boy running at full pace while carrying three bags – one over each shoulder and one held in his left hand – and holding a jacket in his right hand was drawing considerable attention.
And not just from Yoshino and Sachiko-sama, other people walking along the path were turning to stare at him too.
She wasn't quite sure how it ended up this way, but Touko and Kanako-san boarded the steam train for a trip around the amusement park. They timed it well and were able to embark without having to wait long.
The haunted house and pirate cove were both enclosed adventures so it felt good to be journeying outside, in something well ventilated. Blowing in the wind, her vertical hair rolls would collapse, but Touko was enjoying herself so she didn't really mind. Kanako-san tied her hair with a hair-tie shortly into the voyage, worried that her long hair would get tangled by the wind.
At any rate, they still hadn't met anybody.
Touko was gradually becoming more and more concerned about whether or not they had actually planned to come to the amusement park today. For instance, maybe they actually meant next Sunday. No, Sachiko-sama had definitely said, "Tomorrow." And surely she wasn't mistaken about the name of the amusement park.
Touko wanted to confirm this, but there was no point asking Kanako-san since she hadn't actually been there at the time.
Kanako-san suddenly cried out.
"What is it?"
"What do you think that is? A deer? A cow?"
It was the same sort of thing that the primary school student seated in front of them was saying.
"Hey, look at that person. Oooh, that's a puppet, right? Or just someone in makeup?"
She kept pointing left and right, urging Touko to look at various sights. Kanako-san seemed to have an unexpected fondness for this sort of thing. Who knew.
"What is it this time?"
"Rosa Chinensis and Rosa Foetida en bouton."
For a moment, Touko thought that it was the name of some character. That moment's hesitation was enough.
"Ah – they've disappeared behind that rock."
The train was in motion. It wasn't possible to get off midway through. Just as Touko was ruing the fact that she hadn't seen them, Rosa Foetida suddenly popped into her field of vision.
Touko shouted out, without thinking about it. It probably wouldn't have reached her anyway. Not just because of the distance, but also because the sound of the steam engine and the clatter of the wheels would have drowned it out.
"Huh, where, where?"
This time it was Kanako-san that had missed out.
"The others could be there too."
They strained their eyes but couldn't find anyone else they knew.
The steam train returned to the station it had departed from. They were both puzzled as they disembarked.
"What was that all about?"
It wasn't as though they doubted what the other said they saw. But still.
"On the one hand, there was Rosa Chinensis with Rosa Foetida en bouton."
"And on the other, there was Rosa Foetida by herself."
The impression they got from on board the train was that the two parties were some distance apart from each other.
"Just what kind of groups are they walking around in?"
– Without knowing about the drama that had unfolded earlier, it certainly looked like an inexplicable situation.
When Yumi returned from the roller-coaster, Yuuki told her:
"I saw Touko-chan."
"Touko-chan? You mean Touko?"
He responded somewhat sulkily to this question with, "Who else would it be?"
"So, where is she now?"
The only other people gathered at the makeshift waiting area they had established around a bench beside the teacups ride were Sachiko-sama, Rei-sama and Yoshino-san.
Yuuki spat the words out.
"You don't know?"
"That's what you say when you don't know."
That hardly seemed pertinent. It was the kind of thing a little child would say. Fairly irritating when you were trying to better understand the situation. Perhaps Yuuki's foul mood was contagious.
"If you saw her, how come you didn't call out to her?"
Then, just before she was about to add, "Are you an idiot?"
"Yuuki-kun went to a lot of effort. So don't blame him."
"It was our fault that he lost sight of Touko-chan."
Yoshino-san chimed in on Yuuki's behalf. What on earth had been going on at ground-level while Yumi was screaming her lungs out on the roller-coaster?
For some reason everyone was fussing over Yuuki, who looked suitably depressed.
But, her onee-sama had said, "Don't blame him," so Yumi ceased her interrogation of Yuuki (she could always force a confession after they'd returned home) and changed the topic by asking a different question.
"So, was Touko by herself?"
"No, she was with Kanako-chan."
So Yuuki had noticed who Touko was with. And since she was with Kanako-chan, it meant he probably hadn't mistaken someone else for her.
"And she called out to Rei-chan too."
Yoshino-san said, standing and pointing her finger.
"Called out to you?"
"I heard someone call out, "Rosa Foetidaaaaa," but when I turned around I couldn't see anyone I knew. I couldn't say definitively, but I thought it sounded like Touko-chan's voice."
"Did you hear it too, onee-sama?"
Yumi asked Sachiko-sama. If two or more people had heard it, they could be reasonably sure about who it was.
"I didn't. I was with Yoshino-chan at the time."
With Yoshino-san? Just the two of them?
"Yeah. I'd gone off to buy some soup, right?"
Rei-sama said smoothly.
Still, the way Rei-sama said that made it sound like she was asking for confirmation, which raised more questions than it answered for Yumi, who was hearing this for the first time.
Now that she mentioned it, Yoshino-san had been nursing something in a Styrofoam cup for a while now. That was probably the soup Rei-sama had just mentioned.
A number of nagging questions were piling up in her mind, but if she got sidetracked here then the conversation wouldn't progress at all, so Yumi decided to plow on ahead.
"So, where were you, Yuuki?"
Yumi glanced at her brother, who was looking down, unwilling to say anything. She couldn't tell why, but it looked as though he had been off on his own at that time.
"Just what kind of groups were you walking around in?"
Kashiwagi-san muttered, standing beside her. Yumi shared the exact same opinion.
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