Chapter 4.5-5: A Future Challenge

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Ayanokōji's POV

It was the evening, a couple of hours after I'd finished playing with Sora, Lelouch and Shiro.

Lelouch had gone to do whatever Lelouch does in his spare time, while Sora had left to spend some time with Hirata, a new friend he'd managed to make.

It was quite the milestone. It was the first time in his life that Sora had ventured to make a connection without Shiro.

Unfortunately for Shiro, that had left her alone with me.

Sora had initially wanted to decline Hirata's invitation, both because he was anxious and because he'd be leaving Shiro alone. However, it turned out that Light was also with him today, and Shiro insisted he go despite herself.

Obviously, the girl had been in a depressive mood ever since.

For her sake, we'd ended up going nearby to where Sora, Light and Hirata were. If she could see him, at least, Shiro wouldn't be in the worst possible state. She'd done a good job of keeping herself together.

We were seated on a bench, watching the three have a friendly soccer game with some other classmates.

"Do you want to talk about it, Shiro?"

I knew that the chances were slim, but I asked anyway. I couldn't deny that the silence had felt very awkward. I was almost acting as a babysitter.

"I-I... how can I... Ayanokōji?"

Whatever Shiro had suffered, it had clearly resulted in severe issues with her state of mind. She had extreme difficulty in social situations, even more than me, and found it impossible to trust anybody other than her brother.

It was only natural she'd be wary of me, despite saying before that she'd like to trust me.

"You don't have to. But, if it were Sora here, you'd have no problem, right? If it makes it easier, you could just close your eyes and imagine it's him."

She looked down. "Actually... I haven't told Nii... anything."

Apparently, whatever was weighing on Shiro's mind wasn't something she could share easily, even to Sora. In all likelihood, it was something wanted to avoid burdening him with.

"Isn't that all the more reason to tell somebody else? You don't want to tell your brother because it would be detrimental if he knew, isn't it?"

Shiro initially didn't respond, but after some time, gave me a small nod of affirmation.

"I see."

I felt like I had an idea of what was going on now, as I glanced over to Sora, who was having fun trying his very best to be useful at a sport.

Usually, if Shiro were merely parted from her sibling, she'd recede into a dismantled mess. However, this matter seemed to be more than that. She wasn't just panicked and afraid; she was in melancholy.

Even though I thought I knew what was wrong, I still wanted Shiro to tell me herself, rather than just answering to my leading of the conversation as she has been.

"Can you tell me what it is?" I asked, making my voice softer than usual.

Shiro looked up at me, not saying anything. Her face looked like she was desperate to get this off her chest, but she couldn't bring herself to speak.

"Shiro, your brother trusted me when it really mattered, back on the ship. All I'm asking is that you try to do the same." I reassured her.

She lent back and closed her eyes.

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