Epilogue: Unreaching Voice
May, the first day after the end of the consecutive holidays.
In other words, the following day.
“Oh, Io, Takeya-kun, good morning.”
“Nothing. Just wondering if you’ve checked the clock.”
“Since apparently you think now’s the time to say ‘Good morning’…”
…More precisely, it was 12:20.
“We only had morning classes today.”
“Meaning it’s time to go home.”
As proof of this, Setsuna had encountered the two of them in front of the school gate.
She bumped into them as she was entering, and they were leaving.
“What were you even doing last night? What time did you get to sleep?”
“I-I’m just a little groggy after the holidays. I turned into a complete night owl this past week!”
She couldn’t exactly tell them…
That she had overslept from sheer exhaustion after masturbating so hard.
“Groggy? I dunno, Setsuna-chan, you’re looking awfully refreshed.”
“Hweh?! N-No way, you can tell…?”
“Ohooo? Did something nice happen over the break?”
“Oh, the break! Um, yeah, I was just sleeping all the time! Morning to night!”
“I really wish you won’t talk like that, Miss University Idol…”
“Yeah, it’s fine for us, but if any of those other guys heard you it’d be across the internet like wildfire.”
“Ahaha, yeah, I guess. Ahahahaha…”
With all this shadiness concerning her acts of the night before, Setsuna answered their perfectly ordinary question with weirdly high energy, suggesting all sorts of things.
But the fact that she was getting so spontaneously excited…
Meant that Setsuna had broken free of something.
That she had taken a step forward, even if her stride was short.
“Why don’t we all go get something to eat?”
“Sounds great! I haven’t eaten anything today.”
“Yeah, because you only just woke up.”
To the two who had called themselves her best friends since three years ago, that much was no effort at all to suss.
“Let’s get going, then. Morning service is over by now, but…”
“Hey, how about Yoneda Coffee? We can hang out there as long as we want.”
“Just don’t order anything with coarse anko in it…”
Now that everything was settled, Takeya with his usual long stride and Io with her quick gait took the lead, setting a high pace for their travel.
Setsuna, who kept to her own pace whether or not Haruki was there, strolled slowly behind them, pondering the upcoming lunchtime.
How much she should edit when telling them about what happened with Tomochika last night.
How Haruki was still the same Haruki.
How, nevertheless, he acted in a way that was beyond her expectations.
How she might indulge herself in talking about him, just a bit, because of it.
Or, how Haruki had declared that Takeya, not Tomochika, was his best friend.
How Takeya might react if she told him.
How enjoyable this lunch was likely to be.
How she hoped he didn’t talk about his love life even more than she did…
Even though my love may never reach you…
Unconsciously, a melody started to spill out of her throat.
But, the moment it left her mouth, it dispersed.
In the end, it didn’t reach anyone’s ears, including Setsuna’s herself…
“Did I just…”
The melody that played all through campus in the winter.
And a melody that had not once passed Setsuna’s lips in the past two years.
She hadn’t sung it.
She hadn’t wanted to sing it.
And she probably couldn’t have sung it, even if she’d wanted to.
But now, now that she was immersed in this pleasant mood, it seeped out of her…
Setsuna turned back toward the main gate, almost unintentionally.
More precisely, toward Building 3, which was a little way north of the gate.
I still love singing.
Facing the one in her heart, who was likely to be there.
I do want to sing again, one day.
And I want to be repaid.
“Quit spacing out! C’mon!”
“Oh, yeah, sorry! Be right there!”
Setsuna took off running.
With a stride different from her muddled pacing for the past two years.
I’m not giving up. I won’t give up…
My feelings will reach him.
Even if our bond was broken once.
As long as he hasn’t changed completely…
And as long as my feelings don’t change…
Setsuna took off running.
Keeping her restless heart under control, moving forward, one solid step at a time.
I can’t sing just yet.
And I probably won’t be repaid right away, either.
But, one day, I want to set my feelings free with this song.
The next time I sing, it’ll be with him there to hear it.
When… he wants me to.
But, until then…