Chapter 19: Good Person
The chapter starts with an announcement that the class representatives should report to the conference room, and it seems those taking supplemental lessons will be moving to class 1. As they head off to the conference room, Hatano asks Taki if he also had the teacher go over the details of the last test with him. That's how he got first place, right? Taki responds by asking Hatano if that means she knew what was on the test. So then, if she hadn't heard that, she would have ranked even lower? Without ever dropping her smile, she tells him that isn't what she meant; isn't he rude... Listening to their banter, Mio thinks that it's clear enough that her comments are part of Hatano's objective to defeat Taki and take first place in algebra. It looks like Taki is also gleefully accepting her challenge. With her heart pounding as she pictures Taki's dark side, Mio thinks that he also got into that quarrel with Icchi, and put Marui through that Spartan study session. Marui shows up at that point, and asks if Taki is working as a representative. Mio tells him it seems so, but she isn't sure how long it will be. Is Marui here for supplemental lessons? Yeah, but he can get by without taking a make-up test; he just has to show up for lessons. What about Mio? She didn't fail. Didn't she promise that they would always fail together? Mio protests that she did not promise that; she got a little motivated this time. Mio thinks that she was trying to beat Hatano; and though it seems it was a fruitless effort, it got her to try her best. However... Blushing, Mio recalls Taki telling her, “Just being with you is what's fun, Mio.” So, considering that it brought about that result, it was worth it! Watching Mio's reaction to thinking about Taki, Marui asks her if something good happened. Mio looks away, then asks Marui if he said anything to Taki before the midterm. Marui tells her no, and Mio smiles brightly, thanking him for all he did. But, everything is fine now! Marui tells her that's good to hear... Mio leaves, telling him to work hard, and Marui wonders what she was talking about. Did he really go out of his way to do anything? He says to himself that he doesn't feel like he's been a particularly good pers
on this whole time... (Mio is saying good bye to Yuni and Shii, and Yuni tells Mio that her hairstyle makes her hungry for chocolate cornets.)
In the hall, Taki sees that Akane's rival classmate (I can't find a name for him) is angry at her. She tells him to stop shouting, and he continues, “You said you were joining the tea ceremony club, and you're never there!” He tells her that he's just been eating tea cakes and drinking tea, and Akane responds, “Isn't that good?” He grabs her shoulder (causing her to go dark with rage), and says he joined because she said she would. Akane butts in and reminds him that she said she might, and he yells, “And then you ended up managing the basketball club!? Is there a guy you're after?” Akane spots Taki, and calls out, “Nao! Are you on your way out?” Taki starts to respond, and the other guy butts in to ask who he is. Thinking it's the easiest explanation, Akane says, “My brother (from next door).” Playing along, Taki smiles and says, “I'm her older brother. Do you need something from my little sister?” Looking up at Taki, the kid gets flustered and says, “No, nothing...” and retreats. Akane tells Taki he saved her, and Taki notes that he seemed really upset. Akane tells Taki he's always like that. He's unhappy that she got first place on the entrance exams, and these sorts of things keep happening. Taki laughs, telling her that sounds fun (and thinking about Hatano). Akane retorts that it's not fun! She's been ignoring him, but since he's a conspicuous, obstinate loudmouth, he doesn't seem to understand how to shut up. Taki laughs again, saying that the way he keeps an eye on her, you'd think he was her boyfriend. Akane flips out on him, yelling, ”No! Stop right there, because that will never be!! What if the people around us heard that and got the wrong idea!? You hear me!? It would start rumors, so don't suggest such a thing again!! Especially not around the second year classrooms!! Got it!?” Sweating a little, Taki says, “...Right.” Quickly collecting himself (as Akane catches her breath), Taki asks, “Why the second year classrooms...? Oh, anyway, did you really become a manager for the basketball team, Akane?” Akane stammers that a classmate basically forced her to go against her will; so don't read too much into it! It really couldn't be helped!! Taki tells her that he wasn't really reading anything into it. Akane pushes him away, saying that Ootaka must be waiting on him, right? He mentions his council meeting, and Akane says, “Well, then, hurry and go!” He walks off, a bit bewildered, and glances back at Akane. She's still blushing, trying to compose herself.
On their way out of school, Taki tells Mio about Akane becoming a manager for the basketball team. Mio tells him that's unexpected; it's not something a top ranking student would usually be willing to do. Taki tells her that Akane insisted that she was practically forced to go with one of her classmates, and Mio finds that to be even more surprising. They end up turning back, because Mio declares that she wants to go try to see Akane doing her job as manager. Doesn't Taki want to see, too? The door is closed, and Mio wonders if people are prohibited from watching. She cracks the door open anyway, and spots Akane. Taki leans in to look, too, and Mio notices that Akane is there, working alone. Smiling, Taki explains that's how Akane is; she may not take the initiative, but you can count on her to do her share of the work well. Kohashi sees the door is cracked, and comes over to ask if they need something. When she opens the door, Mio falls backwards, so she only sees Taki at first. Thinking that he's cute, she repeats her question more politely. Meanwhile, Taki is helping Mio up, and Kohashi clicks her tongue, realizing he already has a girl. Kohashi tells them that, if they don't have a reason to be there, can she close the door? After they're shut out, Marui arrives, and Mio asks if he's finished with his lessons. He tells her yes, but why are they here? Mio explains that they heard Akane was a manager, so they came to get a look at her. Marui says he's pretty surprised about that, too; how did that come about? Anyway, want to go inside? When they open the door, Kohashi, still trying to fall into Marui like Akane did last chapter, comes flying out. She lands on Mio, and looks up cutely, saying, “Sorry, senpai...” Mio responds, “Well, this is awkward. Are you OK?” (Marui seems a little aroused by this.) When Kohashi sees that she missed her mark, she just looks annoyed and leaves Mio confused. When Akane spots them, she yells, “Nao!? What are you doing here!? And Ootaka, too...” Taki tells her they came to see her, and Akane tells him to stop. He is just the worst... Watching the interaction, Kohashi exclaims, “Ah, rather than [Mio's], is he your boyfriend, Ebihara-san!?” Remembering the scene from earlier, Taki smiles brightly and says, “I'm her brother.” Mio looks confused, and Akane just glares at him. Kohashi responds that, now that he says so, she can see the resemblance. Irritated, Akane tells him to stop screwing around... So, why are they really here? Marui leans in and tells her, “Because someone went and did something unexpected like becoming a manager, they came to visit. Honestly.” Flustered, Akane drags them away, yelling, “Stop doing ridiculous things! Go home, already!!” Mio apologizes for bothering her, and they go. Mio remarks that it's the first time she's Akane act shy like that. It was pretty cute. Taki says that he doesn't think he's seen her like that, either... Akane stays outside for a moment, thinking she can't go back while blushing like that.
Practice ends, and everyone else seems to have left. Akane is still at it, putting the balls away. She thinks that there seems to be too few balls; were they counted correctly? As she starts to take the balls out to recount them, she hears someone ask if the cleaning is finished. She sees Marui in the doorway, and drops the balls, thinking that she's still shaken from earlier. She tells him that she was planning on counting the balls, so... Marui asks why, and she tells him that there should be 25, but it looks like there aren't that many. Marui starts to pick the balls up, and Akane tells him she'll do it herself. He tells her that they can clean this up faster together, and Akane doesn't protest. Picking up a ball, Marui starts talking, “So, those two came today, right?” Nao and Ootaka? Marui continues, “They're probably together somewhere now, too. It's tough, huh?” Akane replies, “Huh? Not really.” Marui pays no attention, and keeps talking. Akane and Taki have been together their whole lives, so it must be difficult to let him go. Marui can't blame her; don't worry about it. Akane responds that she isn't quite sure what he means, but the way he says it makes it sound like she's in love with Nao. Marui looks a little surprised; well, she is, isn't she? Akane yells back, “Not at all! Ever since we were kids, he's seemed like a little brother to me.” Little brother!? Akane says, “That sort of 'love'...” She thinks back to when they were kids. Nao was little and cute, and she always thought that she needed to protect him. There were plenty of girls who said they liked him, but generally they would cool off on their own when he was different than they imagined. Thinking of Miwa, Akane recalls that she was different. Akane says that she thinks it's good, really... But even so, she thinks, it was easy enough when they were little and a bully would tease him. However, when Miwa so casually hurt him... There wasn't anything Akane could do. It was frustrating for her; she wanted Nao to go back to being his usual self as quickly as possible. Looking at her hair, Akane notices that she seems to have grown her hair out like Miwa's. Getting back to Marui, she tells him that, as far as her feelings for Taki, maybe some different types of love are mixed together. But as to what, she isn't sure; it isn't something she's really thought about. Marui sighs; he sees... Well, it sounds like it's somewhere in the “family” range. Throughout the conversation, Akane has been counting the basketballs, and she gets up to “21.” Then, she remembers why Marui said he was there... She yells at him, “Give me that ball! Didn't you say, 'It will be faster if we work together?' You didn't help at all!” Marui laughs, and Akane wonders why she said all that to him [about Taki]. Putting the twenty-second ball away, Akane sees she was right – they're three balls short. Where did they roll off to...? Marui asks if she can do it tomorrow, and she tells him it will bother her if she doesn't finish. Marui remembers something, and suggests that they might be on the stage. Akane finds them there, and awkwardly carries back all three balls at once, telling Marui that when he takes something like that, bring it back. He jokes that isn't his job, and cheers Akane on. She snips back that he was actually the one who took the balls, wasn't he? Akane loses her hold on one of the balls, and Marui leans in to catch it, saying, “Ah, so you caught me?” Akane notices how close they are, and drops the other two balls. Marui asks her what she did, and sees that she's holding her hand in front of her face. He reaches out, asking if she did something to injure her hand, and she smacks his hand away. He sees how much she's blushing, and she tells him, “It's nothing! Cl-, clean the rest up!” and hurries away. Marui watches her flee, baffled.
In the morning, Mio is running late and misses her train. She texts Yuni and Shii that she missed it, and might be late to school. (She sighs, seeing that Taki doesn't seem to have his phone.) As she makes her way to the elevator and tries to decide what to do until the next train comes, she spots Marui. He surprised to see her, and asks if she overslept. Mio explains that she had a bad case of bed hair, and by the time she fixed it... Some older women hurry toward them, yelling to hold the elevator. They crowd into the elevator, pushing Mio up against Marui. She notices her position and apologizes, pulling away and knocking heads with the woman in front of her. The woman yells at Mio to be more careful, and Mio apologizes again. Unsure what to do, Mio steadies herself with her hands on either side of Marui. Marui looks away, thinking that this is like she's hugging him... Looking down, he thinks, “Just do it. It's the opening you wanted.” He puts his arm around her and pulls her toward his chest, telling her it's all right. Go ahead and lean on him. Mio thinks that he said it's all right, but this isn't good. Looking at his hand on her shoulder, Mio thinks that he calls this leaning, but... Mio starts, “Ma-, Marui?” while willing the elevator door to open sooner. She tells him that this may be too much. This is the sort of thing you would do for a girlfriend... She thinks it would be best if they stopped. Leaving his arm around her, Marui asks, “Like what?” Well, the way he's being affectionate, it's the sort of thing you wouldn't do with just anyone. At least, for her... If Taki was being this affectionate towards some other girl, she would absolutely hate it. The elevator jerks, and Marui moves his hand to the back of her head. She starts to question it, and he explains that she was about to hit her head again (while thinking he really didn't want to hear Taki's name, just now). Mio hangs her head, apologizing again. Marui explains that he didn't intend to be this way toward anyone, but... it just sort of happened. The elevator door opens, and Mio hurries out. Marui stops her, saying he understands. He can see what it looks like, but... He wouldn't do it for just any girl. So... he thinks it's OK. They avoid eye contact on the train, and Marui thinks that his reasoning abilities were clouded. Mio is wondering if he said what it seemed like he was saying. Glancing over at him, she thinks that she wants to be friends with Marui, but... She really doesn't know how to deal with something like the mood from earlier. Marui's stomach growls loudly, and he grumbles that he's hungry. Mio asks if he ate breakfast, and he says that he ate some, but... It's just his weird metabolism. Mio digs in her bag, and tells him that he can eat her gummy candy, if he wants. He takes it, and she thinks it's good that he seems to be back to the usual Marui. She's glad. She smiles, and the chapter ends with him gazing longingly at Mio.
Notes: The impression I got in this chapter was that Marui suspected Akane was doing something out of the ordinary, like managing the basketball team, to get Taki's attention. But, it really was a mixture of her classmate begging her and her unwanted crush on Marui. I found it funny that Akane seems to be the only of those girls who takes the managing job even a little bit seriously, as opposed to showing up only to flirt.