When Hino went to Sumire’s room, he found Sano had Sumire pushed against the bed frame, and he was kissing her deeply. This sight didn’t surprise him. He should have known that Sano would do this.
“You’re so pretty. I’ll use my tongue more; you’re okay with it, aren’t you?”
This is not the first time he is seeing them like this. In Sumire’s words, Sano was a kissing monster who had a bad habit of randomly kissing her.
But there was a problem, her gaze seemed hollow and lifeless. Hino quickly yanked Sano away and shook Sumire’s shoulders.
“Hey, Sumire? Sumire?” Hino tried calling out to her.
She was looking at him with her eyes wide open. But it felt like she wasn’t really there.
What’s wrong with her? He has never seen her like this.
Before he could panic and work out what was wrong, a flash of red hair rushed past him, grabbed Sumire’s arm, and injected a needle. It didn’t take long before the girl’s eyelids closed, and she slumped into his arms.
“Hey, what did you do–“
“I just made her go to sleep.” Atsuro sighed. “She isn’t okay, you know. She could put up a front when Yuhi was still with her because he could distract her and keep her mind off things. But being home alone, in a huge house, and in an isolated area like this one makes her remember the accident. She remembers how she failed to protect Mamoru.”
Hino felt his body freeze after hearing Atsuro’s words. So that’s what the issue was. He always felt that there was something wrong with Sumire. Whenever he watched her with Yuhi, however, she seemed okay, she seemed like a normal girl. But that’s not it.
Atsuro knew this, and that’s why he was very persistent about meeting with her. Sumire also knew this, and that’s why she pushed him away.
“If that’s all, all we have to do is drag Tsueno here,” Sano spoke up. He turns to Sumire, now fast asleep. “I’ll come back with that idiot along, just wait.”
Before Hino could even say a word, Sano had gone.
Atsuro shakes his head. “It’s no longer a simple case of her seeing Mamoru. That friend of yours already knew, by the way.”
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“When he confidently said to Yuhi that he knows Sumire better than he did, it’s because of this. He knows what state Sumire gets in when those close to her ‘leave her.’ First, it was her parent’s accident. Next, it was Mamoru’s stunt about faking his death, falling out with Nase Siena, who went away, followed by Mamoru’s accident, and then Asahi’s death last year. Do you know what she was mumbling when I came in?”
“What?” Hino was too afraid to ask.
“I found her holding both babies and mumbling. ‘The people close to me always leave me. Will you two leave me too? Kyoko and Satomi, I love you two so much. But, what if you two leave too?”
Hino clenched his fists, hearing those words. So, she truly isn’t okay.
“She almost dropped the children. So I snatched them from her, and she got angry when I said her mental state wasn’t good enough to take care of them.”
Hino didn’t know what to say. He has spent the past two weeks with her but didn’t even notice. No, he knew. But he brushed it aside.
“Are you saying Sano knew?”
“That guy knows what will hurt her the most, and he did date her for a long time. Of course, he knew.” Atsuro clenched his fist. “Sick bastard, I wondered how he could get away with kissing her.”
It all makes sense now. The ‘surprise’ kisses aside, the previous times must be Sano taking advantage of his knowledge of Sumire.
“I don’t even know why I’m friends with him sometimes,” Hino mumbled.
Atsuro sighed. “Well, we can’t control who we end up being close with. Sometimes it just happens unexpectedly.” He trailed off. “Sumire’s birthday is tomorrow. Are you taking her out?”
“Yes, but she is sick–“
“Take her out,” Atsuro said firmly. “I’ll give her some medicine, so she regains her strength. I don’t think she should stay alone here. It’ll drive her crazy.”
Hino nodded, and after a few more words, Atsuro left too. He turned to Sumire, still slumped in his arms, and realized that she was awake since he heard her sobbing.
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“Hey, it’s okay.”
Sumire shakes her head. “I’m so weird, Hino, there is something wrong with me. Atsuro is right, what if I hurt the kids?”
“You’re not weird, Sumire, and you won’t hurt them.” Hino tried to reassure her.
Hino knew his words didn’t make her feel any better, and he caressed her hair and back. Being this close to her, it was difficult for him not to inhale her scent.
“Hino, you’re hugging me.” Sumire pointed out.
“Because you need to calm down. I’ll apologize and tell Yuhi later. But, let’s stay like this until you’re fine.”
“Just now, Sano kissed you. Were you aware of it?”
“To be honest,” Sumire bit her lip. “-sometimes I just blank out and find myself in unusual situations. Like in the past, I’d wake up in an alleyway that smelled like blood. Or waking up in a strange room with some guy in the shower.”
“Did you subconsciously mess around?” Hino asked worriedly.
“No, I think before it ever got to that, I would snap out of it. There was something in my head that would subconsciously reject others. So, even if the situation came close to that, it never happened. Also, back then, I had Ru by my side. So he would rescue me from any strange situations.”
“Do you miss him?”
“I do,” Sumire admitted. “He was my closest friend, and we practically grew up together, and then we eventually started dating. Sometimes I think the bond I have with him is stronger than the one I have with Yuhi, and yet I know the one I love is Yuhi.”
After that, she started to cry again, and Hino hugged her tighter. Kusajishi Atsuro is wrong; she isn’t weird. She is just a bit more emotional than others, but that doesn’t make her a strange person.
“Hino, I’m sorry for troubling you so much.” Sumire apologized.
“Well, it’s true that you’ve destroyed a few of my nice shirts with your tears.”
“If that’s the case, I can just make you a new one,” Sumire mumbled. “But oh, I haven’t made any new clothes in a while. I hope I still remember what to do.”
That’s right, Mashima Toh should be returning soon. The reason he knew this was because that guy actually requested a meeting with him.
‘I have never spoken to that guy before, so it is clear what he wants from me. He wants to talk about Sumire.’