96-I dedicate myself to you the best in the world....

I'm looking at you. He's staring at me.

For a few seconds until our eyes meet and I look away. Our awareness of each other was mutual. As if the month of pretending to be someone else had never happened.
I look away before I'm about to fall into those mysterious glowing amber eyes. I almost said something to her.

'Alina? What are you doing here?

Tsuru stood up and approached Alina.

'I was just curious. I feel strange.
It's deja vu. Crane and I have been here together before, haven't we?
'Yeah. Maybe when I was brought to the comet?

It was when Tsuru kidnapped Alina to thank her.
When she was a freshman. She fell down on an icy road in winter season and was in trouble because of her injury, but Arina saved her and carried her to school. I wanted to thank her for her kindness, and when I set up a meeting with Tsuru, this is where I took advantage of it.

I knew it. It's real, isn't it?
'Of course. I said thank you to Alina!
'Yes, it is. I'm the one who gave you a piggyback ride. I'm sorry for being so cynical.
'I know. You remember this story too, don't you?

I was at a loss for words when the subject came up unexpectedly. I had been looking for a chance to escape with my bag slung over my shoulder. Now that Alina was here, I couldn't stay.
After a short pause, I replied with a short 'I don't know' and stood up. To others, I look like an unfaithful little brat. I want to punch myself in the face. Alina's bewildered look made my heart ache.
I walked past them, put my hand on the sliding door, and was about to leave when I was grabbed by the sleeve.


Alina stops her. Not being the worst kind of person to shake her off, I had no choice but to turn around and look at Alina. Alina looks me up and down. Too shy to face her head-on, I only face her and turn my body in the direction of the day after tomorrow.
She takes a step closer to me. She was so close to me that our uniforms almost touched. Reflexively, I retreat, but there is a sliding door behind me. I was in a backwater position.
I looked at Tsuru with my eyes for help, but he only smiled at me and didn't seem to do anything. I'm sure he's gloating in his heart, 'Suck it up,' he says.

Why are you lying?
'I didn't lie.
'What were you talking to the crane about? It's about me, isn't it? Tsuru, isn't that right?

The crane nodded and continued to watch from the sidelines.

'I didn't hate you or anything. How can you deny that?
'You didn't like me, you know.'
'Look me in the eye and say it!

He grabbed me by the chin and forced me to make eye contact with him. The forcefulness made me feel nostalgic.
She is a poisonous rose after all. Not the angel Alina, not a new personality. It's the Alina Hibane I know so well. She is the embodiment of freedom, noble and unbounded.

'...... don't know'.
It doesn't matter if you have memories or not. What you think, what you feel, how you feel about me is something only you can know.
Then why did you say that? Why did you say that I hate you so much?

For Alina. Yes, for Alina's future.

How can you dislike someone you've spent time with after school?

It was when I was in the Rose Garden.

'Would you hate someone you walked shoulder to shoulder with at the festival?

It was when I served as a temporary member of the public morals committee.

'Would you hate someone you went to the aquarium with?

It was when I followed Makoto and Ryuka on their date.

'Would you go to the home of someone you don't like?

It was when I stopped by his house on my way home from a New Year's visit.

Do you make chocolates for people you don't like?

Valentine's Day. A milestone day when she would have forgotten me.

'For someone I don't like...'
'Don't do that.'

I'd had enough.
It's hard just to remember. Everything she said must have been pulled from her notebook. So in the end, it is a fiction to her, like a novel.
This story is solitary. The story that we created together and that only two people in the world know exists only in my head. I am the only one who colors my heart in retrospect. I wonder if she understands that if I tell her in words, I will only be filled with emptiness. I will only suffer the tale of my loneliness.

For me. You keep telling yourself, 'For Alina,' don't you? Just as you did for me, you are enduring this time for me, aren't you?'

Breathing stops.
It is as if everything is being seen through, as if I am being stripped naked in front of the public. Such shame melded with amazement and silenced me.

'I'm not stupid. Amnesia, dual personality, abusive past. It would be foolhardy to try to cure me of my instability. You've been with me long enough to know that. It's like a maze in the dark. And then my father's death brought back my memories. In exchange for you, for Comet Sakakiki, the person I loved.

Tsuru is 'hmm? Nngh! What? Eh, eh, eh, eh! And became a hiragana mass-production machine. The fact that the story flowed so smoothly was a source of confusion for Tsuru.
Alina must have decided that it was okay to tell Tsuru. I take in her determination and listen to her words as she freely shares her secret with me. I couldn't ignore her anymore.

I am probably the closest to the other me, Mr. Akakusa, and to the Alina Hibane you have described. So you thought. 'If I mess it up too much, I'll ruin it. I'm already unstable, and if you try to remind me of myself, I'll switch personalities again, or forget, or get hurt. You, who are so kind to me, thought so and lied to me.

Alina grabbed me and Tsuru by the sleeves and pulled us to sit on the chairs.
Tsuru raised his hands and said, 'What? Yes! I am still a hiragana mass-producer, converting the nutrition in my body into sound energy. I would have told him to shut up for a minute, but if I had been in his shoes, I would have panicked and called out a string of indecent and obscene words.
Alina stood on her haunches and opened her mouth again.

'You two were talking about me, weren't you? Tsuru, what kind of things?''
'Well, well, Alina seemed to have forgotten about the comet, so I was lecturing her about whether that was okay or not...yeah, I mean, she was angry. Comet was saying gutless things like 'I'm fine as it is' and desperately trying to hide something and lying, and suddenly yelling at me, I mean, yes, I was angry.
'Yes. I see.
'But, but. What you just said is, you know--'
It's true. I've never had any memories before the ninth grade. And I have dual personality dissociative identity disorder. Caused by an abusive ex-father.

Tsuru looks at me with exclamation. I felt sorry for Tsuru, whose brow furrowed and expression clouded as he looked at me, so I made a peace with him to relieve his tension. But he slapped me.

'Are you saying that Comet was lying to me so that I wouldn't know about it?
'That's right.
'Are you saying that you decided not to get involved in Alina's, uh, past - no, in the sense of protecting her body and mind?'
That's what I meant when I said 'for Alina's sake. Remembering me will definitely take a toll on her. I thought it would cause something bad to happen to Alina. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you what happened, Tsuru.
'Oh no,......why would you do that,......gosh.'

I looked at Tsuru, who was about to start crying again, and I said, 'Don't cry! Endure! You'll dry up! I made fun of him. I didn't want her to cry any more.

I didn't want her to cry any more. I can't accept such a sad happy ending! I'm sorry~ I'm sorry~ I'm sorry~ I'm sorry~ I'm sorry~ I'm sorry~ I'm sorry~ I'm sorry~ Arina, don't avoid Zui, Zui, don't avoid her~''
'Don't cry, don't cry. Don't spill the calpis. Take better care of your lactobacilli.
'It's not galbiz~'
'You said it. Now cry for the rest of your life. If you care about humanity, go cry in the desert.
'I'm sorry, all of mankind is sorry~'

Let's wait till the cranes calm down. When he looked Alina in the eye, she gave him a troubled smile and murmured, "I guess so.

What do we do now?

Leaving the weeping Tsuru alone, he asked Alina a question.
My plan to stay out of her life was shattered. Whether it was the right decision or not, we will see, but we have lost our purpose. It is no exaggeration to say that the project to rehabilitate Alina has been completed. Now that she has forgotten me, there is no reason for me to have anything to do with her.
I don't know what to do. That's crazy. You act like there's more to do. It's like the selfish wish of a toddler.

Professional homecoming party member.

Alina said it proudly, holding up her index finger.

'I see you call yourself that.
'I don't call myself that. It's a fact.''
'The note said some pretty painful things, but they seem to be true. You're strange.
'You too.
'Yes, me too. I'm a freak just like you.

He smiles and pats his long desk as if to flaunt the unflattering label. I follow his long, white fingers with my eyes, and then they stop on the desk and point at me. When I looked up, she was smiling.
It was the most beautiful, prettiest, and most perfect smile I had ever seen on Alina's face. I am sure that there is no other woman in the world more attractive than her.
I realized for the first time that she was that kind of person for me. She will probably remain in my memory until the day I die, and when the running lights come on, she will be very much in my mind. Who will be there at her death, I do not know. The old Comet Sakakimagi would have laughed at me for having lost my mind as a single aristocrat, but it seems that spring has come to me, too.
I hoped in my heart that she would be there at my deathbed.

'Quit the homecoming club for my sake.

She said these words as a declaration of war for the members of the homecoming club with straight eyes.

I'll spend time with you after school to remember you. It's your last job. Will you help me again?

I laughed. There's no quitting in the homecoming club. Since there is no notification of joining or leaving the club, of course there is no concept of quitting. In other words, it is a status that is established by calling oneself a member of the club.
So you don't have to call yourself a member. However, I still can't give up my pride as a member of the Homecoming Club. The homecoming club members all over the country are most afraid of losing their friends. It pains me to betray them, but I will quit for the sake of Alina. Let's quit for the sake of a girl with a sharp tongue.

All right.

Attention all homecoming club members nationwide.
I'm temporarily resigning from the homecoming club.

I'm asking you to take care of the earth for a while.