Sorry for the long wait, but I’m finally done with the first volume of Brothers Conflict 2nd Season. As we saw in vol. 7, Iori and Kaname have left the house. They’re both away in this volume, but Yusuke gets his long-awaited spotlight!
In spring, Ema became an undergraduate student in Meiji University. While the Asahina brothers are still not giving up on her, each of them has grown too as a person. Once again, the brothers begin clashing with each other to win her heart. In this volume, a new school year starts for those who are still studying. Ema goes to an anime’s anniversary event and runs into a problem during a group date, while Tsubaki learns an important thing from Yusuke.
Chapter 24: 特別な誰かはいないふりをして
[ That special someone is pretending to be away ]
Five months after entering Meiji University, Ema experiences her first summer vacation in university. The department of science has a policy for students to submit reports even from their first year, and since she has several reports due right after the vacation, she goes to the library once or twice each week. One day, Ema is about to go home when she sees a notice on the bulletin board. It was posted by the basketball team, promoting their circle by using Subaru’s status as a future pro player. They attached the schedule of Subaru’s matches as well, and Ema notices that the first match is today. In fact, it’s taking place as she reads the notice. Ema is a bit reluctant at first, but she decides to see the match. When Ema arrives at the gym and waves her arms at him, Subaru smiles at her before turning his focus back to the match. As she watches him play, Ema realizes that Subaru has improved a lot compared to the last time she watched his match. It was a close game up to the beginning of the last quarter, but in the end Meiji University win with an overwhelming score thanks to him.
After the match, Subaru comes to talk to Ema just before she leaves the gym. He thanks her for coming and asks why she knows about today’s match, so she tells him about the notice. He only sighs since he already told his teammates not to do that, and he’s going to sign the contract after graduation… which means he’s not a pro yet. During his trip to Kyushu, he got to watch the pro team’s practice. He realized that he can’t possibly compare to any of them, but he’s happy to be able to play with them. He’s glad to have continued his basketball career. Ema smiles upon seeing Subaru looking so happy, and this makes him blush since she looks so cute. He quickly says it’s nothing though, and she decides to take her leave since his teammates are waiting for him. When he asks if she’s willing to come to his match again, she nods and asks him to inform her the schedule—which he promises to mail to her later. Just as Ema turns around to leave, she suddenly hears Subaru whispering that he’s glad she doesn’t hate him. She instantly stops walking and turns to see him, but all she can see is his back walking towards the locker room.
Ema goes to the station in front of Meiji University after that, and she hears two high school girls talking about “Asakura Fuuto” while waiting for the train. They notice that Fuuto has been appearing in a lot of dramas recently, but one of the girls seems sad about it since there’s a rumor about how the members of “forrtê”—the idol group he belongs to—are fighting because of this. While the rumor itself comes from the internet, it seems like something happened when the members of “forrtê” appeared on TV before. Sadly, Ema doesn’t get to hear the details since the train comes before they get to that part. She can’t help but feel worried about this, because Fuuto has the tendency of looking down on others—which might just come out when he’s at work. She then tries looking for more information through a search engine on her phone, and she feels relieved to see no results for this topic. However, there are several articles which contain the suspicion that Fuuto might have a sister complex. The cause is obviously the message he sent for Ema on TV before. She sighs and decides to tell him about this when they have time to talk.
From Kichijouji Station, Ema walks through a shopping arcade on the way home. Suddenly she hears a loud voice calling her name, and she looks around to find someone waving at her in front of a fast food restaurant. It’s a young boy wearing Bright Centrair’s junior high uniform—Wataru. Since he’s now in junior high, Wataru also asked Ema to change the way she calls him. It used to be “Wataru-chan” before, but now he’d pout and sulk unless she calls him “Wataru-kun”. Even though it’s summer vacation, he actually had a mock exam earlier today. Since Bright Centrair focuses on preparing their students for entrance exams, they have to take national mock exams and have shorter holidays than other schools… but Wataru is actually quite smart. His grades are higher than Ema’s junior high records. She doesn’t see him studying that much at home, so maybe he’s just smart like Masaomi and Ukyou.
As they walk home together, Wataru tells Ema about his school life. Since she’s only nodding at him, he soon gets worried and asks if his stories are boring. If they are, he wants her to tell him… or else he won’t be able to fix the flaw. Ema has to explain that it was because she’s intently listening to him, and Wataru apologizes for saying strange things. This makes her realize that he has matured a lot, but when she tells him about this… he falls silent for a while. Then he shakes his head and says that he’s still not mature yet, because she’s still not willing to become his girlfriend. Σ(ﾟーﾟ；) Since the shopping arcade is packed with people today, before long everyone around them start whispering about their “relationship” LOL. Wataru then points out that Ema would only see him as a man when he grows up, and that’s why he knows she’s still thinking of him as a kid. Before Wataru can go further, Ema quickly takes his hand and drags him out of the shopping arcade. ( ﾟ∀ﾟ)ｱﾊﾊ八八ﾉヽﾉヽﾉヽﾉ ＼ / ＼/ ＼
After parting with Wataru, Ema collects the Asahina family’s mails from the 1st floor and sorts them out for everyone in the living room. Among the letters and magazines for Masaomi and Ukyou, she finds an envelope with a certain game developer’s logo—the company Natsume works for. Inside is a list of their new releases, and one of the titles is highlighted. Directly beside it, he wrote that he encountered a lot of difficulties during the development… but the game’s finally complete. In spring, Natsume transferred from the sales department to the development department. He’s been exhausted since he had to work overtime or even spend the night in the office. She didn’t want to disturb him either, and so they haven’t seen each other in the last few months. Now that Natsume is done with the project, he should have some free time… and Ema is wondering if he’s going to visit the mansion again. It’s only obvious because this is his home after all. The question is how is she going to face him. Ema still can’t forget Natsume’s words and the kiss he left on her neck, but then she takes a deep breath and calms down. She reminds herself that she can’t think of one person only, because he’s not the only one who has confessed to her.
Ema then takes Natsume’s letter and decides to return to her room. She uses the stairs thinking it would be quicker than waiting for the lift, but then she finds Tsubaki and Azusa on the 4th floor’s elevator hall. She gets really surprised when they suddenly call her, and this causes her to slip on the stairs. Ema closes her eyes just because she hits the floor, but it doesn’t hurt that much. Also, it feels warm for some reason. When she opens her eyes, she finds Tsubaki’s face right in front of her—so close that his breath touches her lips. It seems that Tsubaki caught Ema when she fell down, though it caused him to fall onto the floor before hitting his back on the wall. ∑(-∀-；ﾉ)ﾉ She turns red as she apologizes and tries to get up, but he holds her in place and quietly asks her to stay like this for a while. It would be bad if she’s injured. When Azusa tells him that it’s fine, Tsubaki lets go of Ema and helps her stand. Of course she feels bad and asks if he’s alright, but both of them ask her not to worry. Azusa also picks up the letter from earlier and gives it back to Ema, which makes her wonder if he noticed the sender… He probably did though, because the envelope bears the logo of the company.
Ema is about to leave after thanking them, but Tsubaki stops her since they were looking for her earlier. He then takes out a ticket from his jacket and asks her to accept it. The anime he’s working on is going to celebrate its 20th anniversary soon. They’re going to hold a memorial event to celebrate it, and he wants her to come to the event. Ema is unsure since she doesn’t want to cause a misunderstanding, but noticing that she’s reluctant, Azusa tells her that it’s different from what she’s thinking of. It’s going to be Tsubaki’s big moment as a seiyuu, and Azusa wants Ema to see it. Since the role is really important to him, Tsubaki also puts a lot of hard work and dedication into it. Once again he hands the invitation ticket to Ema, and he looks so relieved when she finally accepts it. Both Tsubaki and Azusa have to return to work after that, and Ema is left in doubt. She knows the event is really important for Tsubaki as a seiyuu, but is that really the only reason…? Realizing that she’ll only drown in worries if she stays in her room, Ema puts the ticket along with Natsume’s letter in her mailbox and goes outside.
Even after reaching the first floor, Ema still can’t find the answer to her doubt. Just before she walks out, she runs into Rui—who just returned from work—at the hall. Noticing that something is troubling her, Rui takes Ema to have dinner at a Japanese tavern in Inokashira Park. One of his customers is working there, and they are guided to a couple’s seat inside. The seats are incredibly close to each other, and this makes her feel uneasy. While she knows that he’s different from the triplets, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a man too. Ema tries to get away by mentioning that it’s almost time for dinner at home, but this only leads to Rui calling Ukyou instead—asking him to cook dinner for today. When Ema tries to argue, Rui says he can see that she doesn’t want to stay at home right now. This really surprises her since she didn’t tell him anything, but his job trained him to read people’s feelings. Everyone has an important reason for coming to his salon, and he can’t let those reasons to be ignored. He always observes their movements, gestures, facial expressions and eyes. That’s why he can see what people are wishing for.
Rui then asks if Ema is worried because of Natsume. Maybe Tsubaki and Azusa? Or could it be Subaru? When Ema asks why he brought up these four people, Rui explains that he heard everything… from Juli. From around the time when Ema entered university, Juli has been spending most of his time away from her room. She’s been wondering about what he’s doing, but apparently he’s been investigating a lot of things for her sake and reported the results to Rui. Of course it’s not a good thing for him to disturb their brothers’ privacy, but Juli promised not to do it again after Rui asked him to stop. When Ema apologizes for Juli’s actions, Rui says that’s probably why everyone loves her—she always accepts them at all times. They’re brothers, but they become distant as they grow up to avoid clashing with each other. This causes them to dislike showing their real feelings too, because that would make it more painful when they clash. However, they can show how they truly feel in front of Ema… and that’s why everyone is attracted to her. Rui then says they should make an order soon, but as they open the menu, he says there’s another reason why everyone loves her. It’s because she’s cute. ﾟ.+:｡(*-ω-)(-ω-*)ﾟ.+:｡
After they return to mansion, Ema goes to the living room and nearly bumps into Ukyou—who’s holding a bottle of brandy. It turns out that Ukyou went out to discuss something with Masaomi earlier, and so he ordered a delivery for everyone’s dinner. Their discussion got stuck though, so they decided to return and continue at home. Masaomi then suggests asking Ema about this certain issue, and Ukyou asks her to sit with them. What they’re discussing about is actually none other than Iori. Ever since he left the mansion, Iori hasn’t contacted them even once. He didn’t draw any money from his bank account either. Since Iori is smart, they think he should be doing well out there… but they’re also a bit worried. Even though they’re brothers, Iori never talked to them that much. It might sound weird, but even brothers don’t stay together all the time. They do have things they can’t share with each other. However, they think Iori has opened his heart a bit for Ema… and so they’re wondering if she received any contact from him.
Sadly, Ema hasn’t heard anything from Iori either. A heavy silence hangs between them, until eventually Masaomi nods and thanks her. Ukyou also apologizes for stopping her, and she knows it means she can leave now… but then she decides to tell them how she feels regarding this situation. She thinks they don’t have to worry about Iori. Back on her graduation day, Iori told her that he will be alright—he already got the confidence to start over. Ema believes in Iori, and she thinks they should do the same. Both Masaomi and Ukyou agree with her opinion, though this also makes them realize that they don’t really understand Iori. Before they retire for the night, Masaomi hands a letter for Ema. There’s only a single line written on the envelope: “For imouto-chan.” It’s from Kaname. From time to time, he sends a letter for Masaomi. The temple he’s training at has a limit on sent mails, so whenever he needs something from his brothers, he’d put a separate letter inside and send everything to Masaomi. Ukyou is wondering what he does with the remaining amount, but let’s put that aside for now. If Ema wants to send reply, she can give her letter to Masaomi and he’ll send it for her.
After that, Ema returns to her room and opens Kaname’s letter. He asks if she’s doing well in university. As for him, he will have to spend a bit more time over there. He apologizes for being unable to stay with her, but he promises to return as quickly as possible. When that day comes, he wants her to give him a kiss to welcome him back. Just a kiss on the cheek would do. ヽ(*´ー`*)ﾉ Kaname can’t fool Ema anymore though. She has learned that from time to time, he would lie to protect others. She knows that he didn’t write the letter because he’s worried about her, but rather because he cares… and that makes her really happy. On the second page of the letter, Kaname tells Ema that if she ever loses her way, she should choose the path she believes in. She shouldn’t let others twist her around, for the path she chooses will surely be the right one. As she reads this, Ema feels deeply touched by Kaname’s words.
On the day of the memorial event, Ema wears a new dress thinking it’d be rude to show up with improper clothes. She doesn’t want to trouble Rui all the time, so she matches the coordinate herself. She’s actually planning to go out after having a light breakfast, but when she goes to the living room… she finds Hikaru eating the sandwich she made last night. His expensive-looking suit is all sloppy, which clearly shows that he came home in the morning. When Ema says she was planning to eat the sandwich, Hikaru remembers that she’s going to attend the event today… and he suddenly asks which one of the triplets is she going to choose. From Hikaru, Ema learns that Natsume is coming to the event as well. His company is planning to release a game for the anime, so he’s going to be there for work. It’s unclear how Hikaru found out about this, but it’s not important. He’s more interested in their “love square” instead. Even though Ema says that she’s only going for the sake of attending the event, he doesn’t think that excuse would work on men.
Hikaru won’t let Ema go to the event with such a “plain” appearance either, so he tells her to come over and not move until he allows her to—he’s going to do her make-up. He can’t give her the best result, but the triplets prefer light make-up on girls anyway. For the finishing touch, Hikaru puts a pearl pink lipstick on Ema’s lips… with his finger. Σ(ﾟーﾟ；) At the same time, he wraps one arm around her and holds her in place. As he licks the remaining lipstick on his finger, Hikaru starts laughing and wonders how the triplets would react when they see Ema later. Then he sends her off and literally shoves her out of the living room.
From there, Ema doesn’t remember how she came down to the first floor. She feels like she rushed down the stairs and tries to control her breath at the entrance, but her feelings just won’t calm down. Because of this, she probably won’t make it for the train. The event takes place in Makuhari Messe, so it takes an hour and a half from the mansion—not to mention she also has to change trains. Just then one of their family cars stops in front of her, and a voice calls her to get in. Ema is surprised to see Yusuke sitting on the driver’s seat, but he only says he’ll drive her to the Makuhari Messe. He tells her that he’s going to the university, so he might as well take her there… even though it’ll be a huge detour since Makuhari Messe is in Chiba. Ema feels bad and says she’ll take the train instead, but Yusuke won’t allow her to get off. She’s putting a lot of effort for today’s event, so he doesn’t want her new clothes to get dirty in the crowd. She doesn’t know why he’s going this far just for her, but he says it’s simply because he wants to do so.
However, Ema then hears Yusuke muttering: “You’re so dangerous today. What would you do if I get even more rivals…?” He falls silent after that, and it seems like he’s not aware that she heard what he just said. Ema gets nervous when Yusuke suddenly asks her to calm down and listen, but then he says something completely different: “Actually, I just got my driving license two days ago. This is the first time I’m driving with someone inside.” Σ(-`Д´-ﾉ；)ﾉ!? After a heavy silence, Ema panics and asks Yusuke to let her out. It’s impossible since they’re already in the highway though, and he quickly tells her not to worry because his driving instructor praised him for being a good driver LOL.
Chapter 25: 夏の日、三度の問いに身を焦がし
[ A day of summer, burnt by three questions ]
When they reach Makuhari Messe, Yusuke tells Ema to be careful of heatstroke. It’s really hot outside, not to mention the event hall is packed with people. Since she remains silent beside him, he asks if his driving was too rough and made her feel sick… but she says that’s not it. Even though she can’t drive, she knows that he was being really careful. He seems really concerned about her, so she finally decides to ask about what he said earlier. What did he mean by “dangerous” and “rivals”? Yusuke instantly turns red. He denies saying something like that, so Ema only nods saying she must have misheard him… but when she’s about to get off, he quickly grabs her arm and admits that he lied. He did say those words earlier. Since Yusuke is looking straight at her, Ema blushes too and reflexively pulls her arm. Upon realizing what he just did, he panics and apologizes before letting go. Before she leaves, Yusuke tells Ema that it was a monologue. He was just talking to himself, and so he doesn’t want her to ask about the reason—he’ll tell her properly one day. When Yusuke smiles at her, Ema is surprised since she never saw this expression from him back in high school. It’s a gentle smile, and yet it looks painful as well. He then asks her to enjoy the event, and she knows it means the end of this conversation.
As she walks into the event hall, Ema reassures herself that she’s only here to attend the event. However, her doubts return when she recalls Hikaru’s words. Before she knew it, she start walking out of the event hall—thinking that she shouldn’t have come after all. That’s when she hears a familiar voice, asking her not to run away. Ema immediately stops and looks around, but the owner is nowhere to be seen. There’s no way he’d be here, since he’s supposed to be training in a temple somewhere… but his voice erases her doubts. It reminds her that the event is really important for Tsubaki, and she shouldn’t run away from it. After thanking Kaname in her heart, Ema takes a pamphlet and walks back into the event hall. Suddenly, someone asks her not to walk through the path. When she turns around, she sees a group of people near the exhibition entrance. All of them are wearing polo shirts with the logo of a certain game developer. As they carry cardboard boxes into the event hall, she notices that one of them is giving instructions to the others. His speaks in a brisk voice, and his toned back looks so big and firm. This is Ema’s first time seeing Natsume at work.
When Ema calls his name, Natsume looks surprised to see her. He awkwardly nods at her before telling his colleagues to go on standby, and he apologizes for not noticing her. Natsume thinks Ema came here because she likes the anime, and she finds it hard to say that she only came because Tsubaki invited her. Because of this, she ends up answering to everything he says with a short “…yes.” until he eventually asks about her make-up. She asks if she looks weird, but he tells her that she looks beautiful. Before Ema can thank him, Natsume suddenly pulls her behind a pillar and pins her against it—saying it’s impossible for him to hold back. He wants to know who she’s dressing up for. All that he knows is that she’s not doing it for him. Ema is surprised to see Natsume getting angry, and since she’s not answering… he then asks who she loves among the brothers. Is it Tsubaki? Or Azusa?
This makes Ema realize that she might have done something terrible. Tsubaki, Azusa and Natsume have confessed to her before, and all of them got rejected. Now the three of them are attending this event, and yet she came wearing brand new clothes and different make-up. She didn’t think about how they would feel when they see this. Ema feels really terrible, and as much as she tries not to cry, tears start welling up in her eyes. Natsume immediately lets go and apologizes, but then she asks him to understand. She only bought new clothes because this is an event, and Hikaru was the one who did her make-up. Natsume is relieved, especially after Ema confirms that she’s not doing this for Tsubaki or Azusa. Just then one of his colleagues comes to inform him that they’re not allowed to put their luggage around the entrance, so he tells her that he has to return to work. When Natsume looks at her, Ema notices that he seems reluctant about something. He doesn’t have any time to think though, so he puts a key on her palm and tells her to use it whenever she wants to. Then he runs off towards the entrance.
Ema doesn’t remember what happened after that. She only returns to her senses when Azusa eventually comes to find her. The event is about to start, and he was worried that she might not come. Since Ema is spacing out, Azusa asks if she’s feeling unwell due to the heat. She quickly assures him that she’s alright, but then she drops the key… and he picks it up before she could reach it. He notices that it’s not a key to their mansion, and she asks him to give it back since it’s not hers—she will have to return it to the owner. Azusa only smiles and nods, but Ema can feel that he’s trying to find something behind her words. After returning the key, Azusa takes Ema to their seat beside the stage. They can see the whole stage from the reserved seating area, and soon Tsubaki comes out to greet the audience.
Unfortunately, Ema can’t focus at all during the first half of the event. She keeps thinking about the key, since it’s clearly the key to Natsume’s mansion. He should have a spare key since he gave this one to her, but why would he carry the spare key around…? Could it be that he was planning to hand his apartment key to her? During the break before the second half, Azusa asks Ema what happened. He noticed that she didn’t pay attention to the stage at all, and he asks if it’s because of Natsume. The question is actually a trap, but she walks right into it by asking why he knows. Azusa isn’t happy that Natsume is doing things behind their backs, and when Ema tries to defend Natsume… he angrily asks what she came here for. He tells her that Tsubaki worked really hard for today’s event. He checked the scripts and practiced until late hours, and he didn’t get much sleep last night. Of course it’s a part of his job as a seiyuu, but he put that much effort into it because he knows she’s coming to the event.
Here, Azusa asks the same question as Natsume did earlier—who does Ema love among the brothers? He knows it’s not him, so is it Tsubaki? Or maybe Natsume? Before she can recover from the shock, he asks if she knows what she’s doing. She rejected them, but then she agreed to come to this event only to not pay attention. Azusa doesn’t mind if it happens to him, but he doesn’t want Ema to do this to Tsubaki. He has to leave for work now, but he asks her to stay and watch the reader’s theater. Tsubaki would be happy if she tells him her impression later. Before leaving, he apologizes and asks her to understand that he didn’t mean to hurt her.
As much as she wants to focus, Ema can’t enjoy the second half of the event either. She feels tired by the end of the event, but he also finds it a bit hard to go home. Just before she leaves the hall, Tsubaki grabs her arm and asks her to wait. He then takes her to the staff area, asking the remaining audience to make way because he has a “meeting” with her. Once they’re alone, Tsubaki asks if Ema has some time to talk. She actually wants to refuse, but since she can’t explain the reason… she follows him to a nearby beach. There’s a sign saying “no swimming”, and so the beach is empty even though it’s summer. When Tsubaki asks her about the event, Ema continues spacing out until he asks if she can hear him. She quickly says it was good, but he actually knows that she didn’t enjoy it. He could see her seat from the stage wing, and he saw her talking to Azusa during the break… but then he noticed that Azusa was angry.
As they walk along the beach, Tsubaki says he’s been thinking of asking Ema a question: “Who do you love among us brothers?” Ema is surprised since the triplets all asked her the same question on the same day, but Tsubaki adds that he has decided not to ask. He’s been waiting for a chance to ask her, but he can’t give her that question right now… because he knows he won’t get the right answer. He also has a feeling that her affection towards Azusa and Natsume has lowered drastically at the moment—which is true. Tsubaki then takes out a handkerchief and hands it to Ema, asking her to sit with him on the beach. He keeps his gaze at the sea as he admits that he wasn’t planning to invite her. He knew she would come if he asked, but then he might misunderstand her intentions—because men are stupid. They’d get carried away if they see hope, just like how he went out of control last year.
After that incident, Tsubaki has been thinking and realized that Ema has a lot on her mind. The reason is none other than him and his brothers. He came to realize his brothers’ feelings and all the things they did to her, along with the fact that he was doing the same thing. As a voice actor, there are things he can see by observing people’s gestures and expressions. From there, Tsubaki realized that Ema needs time. He was planning to wait quietly for now, knowing that he should do that if he loves her… but then Azusa told him to invite her to the event. The reason was because Azusa knew Ema probably holds a negative impression on Tsubaki, and the event was a good chance to fix his image. Tsubaki found this strange because Azusa loves Ema as much as he does, but Azusa told him that he wants a fair fight. He doesn’t want to win only because Tsubaki started off with a negative image. After a while, Tsubaki realized that he feels the same… and that’s why he took Ema to the beach. He doesn’t want Azusa to start with a disadvantage either.
Realizing that’s why Azusa got angry earlier, Ema feels really bad and apologizes. Tsubaki doesn’t think it’s her fault though. He doesn’t know what happened between them, but he thinks it’s Azusa’s fault for getting angry. Besides, she’s probably not the only one who triggered Azusa’s anger. Tsubaki knows this must be related to Natsume somehow. When he heard that Natsume’s company is going to run a booth during the event, Tsubaki had a bad feeling. He felt that something troublesome would happen if Azusa runs into Natsume… and his hunch always comes true during times like this. When Tsubaki asks if Ema is confused because of them, she decides to admit that he’s right. He thanks her for answering, and he asks her not to worry. He believes they will understand once he talks to them. Tsubaki knows he has caused a lot of trouble for Ema before, so he wants to help her as an older brother.
When the evening sun disappears into the horizon, Tsubaki says they should go back and helps Ema to stand up. He keeps holding her hand in silence for a while, but soon he apologizes and lets go—asking her not to mind him. She doesn’t know what to say to him either, and so she tells him that she’ll return his handkerchief after washing it. It’s the least she can do to thank him for today. Tsubaki has to go back to the event hall, so he walks Ema to a place where she can catch a taxi to go home.
Three weeks passed after that, and September eventually comes. During those three weeks, Ema received a few mails from Natsume. He only told her about the games he’s going to work on though, and he never mentioned anything about the key. Azusa apologized on the day after the event, and he’s back to normal ever since. As for Tsubaki, he’s been really busy with work—asking his agency if there’s anything he can do aside from voicing anime and games. That day, Ema realized that she still has a lot to learn about her brothers. She has been living with them for two years, and she will have to keep watching over them from different perspectives. On her graduation day, she rejected those who confessed to prioritize her family’s happiness… and she doesn’t think she made the wrong decision. After all, the Asahina family is filled with wonderful people.
On Sunday afternoon, Fuuto comes home in a suit and asks Ema to make lunch for him—he’s tired and hungry. Ema actually has a promise to see Wataru, but Fuuto knows they’re just planning to play games together anyway. He calls her sad for gaming with her little brother at this age, but when she gets mad… he gives her and box and asks her not to get angry. Inside, Ema finds a bottle of perfume from a famous foreign brand—though it’s not sold in Japan. Fuuto has been chosen as the brand’s image model, but it’s tentative since he hasn’t signed the contract yet. As he puts his tie around Ema’s neck, Fuuto asks her to cook something for her beloved younger brother who’s about to spread his wings and fly around the world. ヽ(*´ー`*)ﾉ He leaves after asking her to bring the food to his room, and she has no choice since it’s a huge achievement for him. After putting Fuuto’s tie into her pocket, Ema calls Wataru and asks him to wait for a while.
Chapter 26: 告白は夜に解けていく
[ The confession melts into the night ]
One day at 5:25 PM, Ema runs into Yusuke at the station in front of Meiji University. It’s unusual since he mostly drives to university after getting his license, but he has to take the train because Ukyou is using the car today. It can’t be helped since it’s not his personal car, so Yusuke wants to save up and quickly get his own car. When he asks what she’s doing here, Ema explains that she’s waiting for Mahoko. Similarly to them, Mahoko goes to Meiji University as well. It’s just her major is literature, while Ema and Yusuke both take commerce. Mahoko is late since they’re supposed to meet up at 5 PM, but soon the train arrives and she appears from the crowd… with Sasakura walking behind her. It turns out that Mahoko is late because she was meeting up with Sasakura first in Shinjuku, but then she mistook the place. Since Sasakura goes to Hosei University, Ema hasn’t seen him at all since graduation. It reminds her of their high school days.
On the other hand, Yusuke is clearly not pleased to see this. Especially because Mahoko then invites Ema to go on a group date together. There’s a large scale group date in a club in Shibuya tonight, and a lot of good-looking guys from other universities are coming. A senior in Mahoko’s circle knows the staff, so she invited Mahoko to join in. However, she has to bring a good-looking guy in return. Due to this condition, Mahoko then invited Sasakura to come along. The problem is that she just told him earlier today. It’s way too sudden, but Sasakura agreed as long as Mahoko gives him a compensation later… so she decided to replay him by calling Ema. Mahoko really wants to join the group date though, and Sasakura also asks Ema to go with them. He doesn’t get much chance to see her because their campuses are far apart, so he feels happy to be able to meet her today. Before Ema can answer, Yusuke points out that Mahoko is only increasing the number of girls by bringing her along. Her senior might ask her to bring another guy, so he will be going with them.
During the group date, Mahoko finds a good-looking guy from Keio University. She excitedly reports back to Ema, but sadly Ema isn’t enjoying the event at all. In fact, she regrets not refusing Mahoko’s invitation. The club is located underground, about 10 minutes away from Shibuya Station. The group date is going to end in an hour, but she’s planning to just sit alone until it ends. While Mahoko tells her to at least talk to someone, Ema has noticed that all the guys here have a similar aura. They look cheerful and sociable like Kaname or Hikaru, but somehow she finds them shady as well. About three of them have approached her earlier, and she felt that they’re all hiding something behind their gentle words—just like what Hikaru usually does to her. Since she thinks they’re suspicious, she couldn’t have a proper conversation with any of them. When Mahoko leaves to talk to the guy from earlier, Ema also moves to find a seat that’s closer to her… but then she sees Sasakura chatting with a pretty girl near the stairs. Realizing that both Mahoko and Sasakura are having a good time, Ema decides not to disturb them.
From there, Ema goes to the balcony on the southern side of the club. It’s empty since there are no tables nor seats, and her eyes sweep through the floor below—wondering where Yusuke might be. At the start of the group date, the four of them were sitting together. Ema then left their table for a while, but then both Sasakura and Yusuke were gone when she came back. According to Mahoko, they got lucky since some girls came to pick them up. Ema hasn’t seen Yusuke ever since, and she can’t seem to find him anywhere in the club. Since she has no idea what to do, Ema decides to just stay in the balcony until the group date ends… but then a girl suddenly comes over and asks Ema to follow her. She was asked by “Yunagi-kun” to call Ema, though Ema doesn’t recognize the name. The girl says she’ll get flooded with complaints if Ema doesn’t come, so she pulls Ema’s arm and takes her to the northern side of the club—which looks like the VIP area. A man is sitting on the sofa, surrounded by about 10 girls. All of them have heavy make-up, like the one who brought her here. The man seems to know Ema, but she doesn’t remember him at all. When she politely asks who he might be, all the girls around him start laughing at her… and she obviously gets pissed because she never wanted to come here in the first place.
Just when Ema turns around to leave, the man suddenly says that “Kana-san” has disappeared because of her. Since she still doesn’t remember him, he then gives her another hint: “summer festival”. This finally makes her remember that he’s the monk she met at the temple Kaname works at—Chiaki. His full name is Yunagi Chiaki, a third year in Keio University. When she asks if it’s alright for a monk to play in a club, he says he was just working part-time at the temple. He didn’t want to do it, but the person who asked him to come is a bit special. Chiaki was asked by an acquaintance to join this group date, and he was about to leave because he found it boring… but then he saw Ema at the balcony. He thought it’s a good chance to talk to her, since he has some questions for her. For example, how does it feel to be loved romantically by her older brother? Σ(-`Д´-ﾉ；)ﾉ!? A monk’s job involves seeing all sorts of relationships between people, so Chiaki knew that Kaname was in love with Ema. What he doesn’t get is that there’s a lot of other girls who are more beautiful than Ema, and yet Kaname left to train and erase his “worldly desires” because of her. Chiaki draws closer as he asks what Ema did to win Kaname’s heart, telling her that he’s interested in her.
As the answer, Ema yells at Chiaki to stop messing around and slaps him on the face—telling him not to insult her brother. He glances at his own cheek, muttering that he can see her answer. The next moment, he suddenly strangles her saying it’s probably impossible for Kaname to get rid of his worldly desires… so he’s going to provide some help. All the girls around them instantly scatter when Chiaki takes Ema to the sofa. As he pushes her down, Chiaki tells Ema that he’s going to make her his. That way, Kaname would have no choice but to give up on her. Ema tries to resist, but she can’t move since Chiaki is strangling her neck. She desperately turns to the girls around them, only to realize that none of them are willing to help. No one here is on her side. However, someone soon comes to pull Chiaki away—saying he’s here to fetch Ema. When Chiaki mocks him for trying to be a knight, the person recognizes him as “the monk from the same temple as Kana-nii.” When the light on the floor panel changes, Ema realizes that Yusuke has come to save her.
When Chiaki asks if he’s Kaname’s brother, Yusuke ignores him and apologizes to Ema. He got caught by a weird girl earlier and was taken away from her side. Yusuke then puts his arms around Ema to help her walk, but of course Chiaki won’t let them leave after ruining his party. Yusuke doesn’t care though, so he only says he won’t hold back if Chiaki gets in their way. Chiaki points out that it’s weird to go this far just for his sister, and Yusuke answers that Ema and him are not siblings… but he falls silent before he can say what she is to him. This makes Chiaki realize that Yusuke is also in love with Ema, and he mockingly tells Yusuke to join Kaname in his training. They can meditate under a waterfall and erase their worldly desires together. Yusuke snaps and shouts at Chiaki to shut up, raising his fist in front of Chiaki’s face. If Chiaki goes further with his words, Yusuke will make sure he can never speak again. Chiaki only scoffs and bats Yusuke’s hand away, calling them “perverted brothers” as he tells Yusuke not to get cocky. Knowing that Chiaki might call more allies if a fight occurs, Ema stops Yusuke saying that’s more than enough. Yusuke seems reluctant at first, but then he nods and takes Ema outside.
Once their taxi reaches Sunrise Residence, Yusuke calls Sasakura to make sure everyone has gone home safely. He walks Ema to her room so she can get some ret, but then she starts trembling and clings onto his arm. Realizing that Ema doesn’t want to be alone, Yusuke decides to take her into his room—because he just can’t walk into hers. When they enter his room, he asks her to wait at the entrance for a while. His room is messy, and he needs to clean up for a bit. She nods and waits near the door while he goes inside. She feels completely blank for a moment… and then it all comes to her. Fear and peace. Sadness and joy. Anger and emptiness. Hope and despair. Everything explodes inside of her. When Yusuke returns, Ema is silently crying alone. She tries wiping her tears, but they won’t stop coming out. Then suddenly, Yusuke squats down and hugs Ema. As he puts his hands on her head and back, she breaks into sobs and cries even harder—forgetting everything else.
By the time Ema calms down, midnight has passed and the date has changed. She feels really bad and refuses when Yusuke wants to walk her back to her room, because she caused him a lot of trouble today. He had to join the group date because of her, and he also came to save her. Yusuke says it’s only obvious because she would never get in danger if he didn’t leave her side, but Ema was really afraid that he’d get hurt if it turned into a fight. She can’t bear the thought of something terrible happening to him. However, Yusuke only asks Ema to listen to him for a while. If she does, she will understand why he doesn’t think of this as a trouble. It’s not something they can talk about at the entrance though, and so he takes her into his room. As they sit on his bed, Yusuke tells Ema that he’s always looking at her. From the very first time he saw her in high school, he’s always been in love with her. Ema is surprised, and Yusuke turns red as he asks her not to stare—he’s not used to these kind of stuff. He tried to keep his feelings hidden in front of her, but most of their brothers already know about this.
Ema feels really sad. She can’t accept her brothers’ feelings to protect the whole family, and she finds it so painful to reject Yusuke’s feelings. He doesn’t mind though, because he loves her to the point that she can do anything to him and he wouldn’t complain. He only confessed to let her know that he never thinks of her as a burden, but now he’s glad that he did. He’s been in love with her for the longest time, but he couldn’t say it because they suddenly became “siblings”. That’s why he gave up on confessing, but he can finally tell her how he feels today—even though it’s the worst timing ever. Yusuke then asks if Ema still wants him to keep her company. When she tells him that she’s alright, he smiles saying he’s glad to hear that. His smile looks so gentle. Maybe even too gentle. Ema nearly cries again, but Yusuke stops her since he might catch a cold if she pours more tears onto his shirt—which has completely changed colors LOL. She can’t help but laugh, and she allows him to walk her back to her room after that.
The next morning, Ema runs into a half-naked Subaru in the kitchen. They surprise each other by opening the door at the same time, and he explains that he’s about to take a bath after training. Before going to the bathroom, Subaru suddenly asks if something happened last night. He saw her returning home with Yusuke at night, and later on he also heard someone crying from the hallway. He recognized the voice as hers. Ema doesn’t know how to answer, but Subaru says she doesn’t have to force it. The only thing he wants to know is whether she was crying because of his brothers or not. When Ema shakes her head and explains what happened yesterday, Subaru smiles saying he’s glad to hear that… and this really surprises her because his smile looks exactly like Yusuke’s from last night. It’s a gentle smile that lets her know they truly care about her.
Subaru then asks if Yusuke is hurt, and Ema says he’s fine since it didn’t turn into a fight. Impressed by Yusuke’s actions, Subaru laughs saying he won’t lose. He asks Ema to tell him if there’s anything he can do, because there might be things Yusuke can’t handle alone. He wants her to remember that he will be happy if he can help her. Subaru then pats Ema’s shoulder and leaves to take a shower, while she stares at the hallway for a while after he’s gone. It’s not only their smile. Subaru and Yusuke also said exactly the same thing.
After #026 – Side Tsubaki & Yusuke: 煙の向こうの恋敵へ
[ For the rival beyond the smoke ]
Tsubaki has always thought that one can never have too many holidays, but recently he’s starting to see that it’s not really true. Today, Ema said that she’s going to clean up her room. Before, he’d definitely tell her to play with him instead… but today, he only asked her to call him if she ever needs help. He feels that it’s something Natsume would say, not to mention she ended up going out with a friend after that. After the memorial event, Tsubaki went to talk to Azusa and Natsume—just as he promised. They both listened to him and stopped doing things which would trouble her, but at the same time this also made it hard for him to ask her out. Everything he said would be pointless if he does that, and Azusa would warn him that it’s called “cheating” LOL. Tsubaki ends up spending the day doing nothing, and he heads to the 5th floor to find Yusuke lying on the kitchen table—half-dying from hunger. The fridge is empty, and earlier Ukyou called to say that he’s going to return late today.
However, this gives Tsubaki a nice idea. Since Yusuke already has a driving license, they can go out and eat grilled meat. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ At first Yusuke is suspicious, but Tsubaki explains that he wouldn’t be able to drink if he goes alone. Yusuke only has to drive, and Tsubaki will pay for their meal. Tsubaki could ask Natsume instead since he only needs someone to drive, but he doesn’t want to be alone with Natsume… because the topic of Ema might come up. He really wants to avoid that for now. Tsubaki thinks it’s safe to bring the tame Yusuke, but soon he realizes that he completely underestimated Yusuke… because Yusuke is a carnivore. Literally. As Yusuke continues ordering meat to their table, Tsubaki remembers that Yusuke is madly in love with Ema as well. He starts wondering if their current situation isn’t painful for Yusuke, so he decides to ask about this—even though Yusuke is still stuffing meat into his mouth.
When Tsubaki asks if he loves Ema, Yusuke smiles saying he does… and that feeling probably will never change. This obviously surprises Tsubaki, since he was expecting Yusuke to get flustered as he admits it. Yusuke also knows it would be difficult to have his feelings returned, but when Tsubaki asks if it doesn’t make him sad… he answers that’s probably what it means to be in love. Yusuke doesn’t think having a relationship is the main point of loving someone. Love doesn’t need a reason, and it’s not something they can erase either. If they give up just because their love is one-sided, it means they probably have no rights to fall in love in the first place. Tsubaki is shocked. This isn’t the Yusuke he knows, but it also makes him realize that “loving someone” and “dating someone” are not necessarily connected. Tsubaki sighs saying he understands, then he calls Yusuke cheeky and walks to the toilet—leaving Yusuke to order more meat.
After leaving the restaurant, Tsubaki gets into the car and calls Yusuke. Tsubaki says he forgot his wallet, so he asks Yusuke to cover the bill for him. Of course Yusuke panics since he has no money, but Tsubaki only says he’ll be waiting in the car. If all else fails, they can always call Ukyou for help. After ending the call, Tsubaki sits back on the passenger seat—whispering that he won’t lose. Soon enough, Yusuke calls to protest since Tsubaki actually has paid everything with his credit card. ｡ﾟ(ﾟﾉ∀`ﾟ)ﾟ｡ｱﾋｬﾋｬ Tsubaki says that’s because Yusuke went ahead of him for a moment, so he should just bear with the prank. Of course Yusuke doesn’t get this at all, but Tsubaki doesn’t explain and tells him to come to the car already. Once again, he whispers that he won’t lose. No matter what happens.
Wow, Tsubaki and Yusuke grew up a LOT in this volume. As we can see from the extra chapter, Tsubaki is still himself… but he’s much more considerate towards Ema compared to before. I feel bad for Ema during the event since it’s not really her fault. In fact, it’s not her fault at all. It’s just things were so tense between the triplets, especially with Azusa and Natsume. Still, I was impressed that Tsubaki actually helped Ema to resolve this issue. ヾ(✿❛◡❛ฺฺ)ノ～❤ Meanwhile, Yusuke has become much calmer by the end of this volume. Maybe because he has finally confessed? His rivalry with Subaru seems healthy too, and I’m looking forward to see further development in the next volume.