Why did everything have to be so goddamn difficult? Nothing has ever gone right for Ryuuji. Unfortunately, this was no exception. He curses himself for falling in love with two girls, two best friends no less. Taiga and Minori both mean the world to him, but he can't bring himself to choose between them. He doesn't want to hurt either of them. Ryuuji tries to imagine what things would have been like if things weren't so complicated. It's difficult, but he can almost see it...
"Taiga, hurry it up, we're gonna be late!" Ryuuji shouts across the alleyway.
Taiga's response is a shoe thrown through the open balcony door. He dodges it, but after continuing along its arc, it slams into Inko-chan's cage, waking the poor bird up. Inko-chan starts to squawk endlessly, which in turn wakes Ya-chan.
"Ryuuuujiiii! Make him stop, Ya-chan has a headache!" she whines.
"Sorry, Taiga accidentally woke him up," Ryuuji apologizes.
He manages to calm Inko-chan down before walking onto the balcony. He leans over the rail to talk through the open window.
"Taiga, what's your problem? We have to go!"
"No! No way in hell am I going out there with this stupid haircut!" she shouts back.
The day before, Kawashima-san somehow convinced Taiga to cut her honey-brown hair. Taiga insists she did it to humiliate her, which Ryuuji wouldn't doubt, but the haircut isn't bad, per se. It's just a big change from Taiga's usual waist-length haircut. After the drastic cut, it stops just above her shoulders, sort of like Minori's hair.
"Taiga, you look fine! Now let's go!"
Taiga hurls another shoe at him, this one nearly hitting him, instead flying through the open sliding door. Ryuuji realizes he has no choice but to practically drag her to school. He climbs over the balcony railing and makes the short jump into the large window.
Taiga's apartment is dark, and mess like usual. But he can see her sulking in the corner. He walks over and sits next to her.
"Taiga, come on. You don't look horrible. In fact, I like the new haircut," he tells her.
"No you don't. It's terrible. Why else would Kawashima convince me to cut it?"
"I don't know."
"See? It must look ridiculous."
"Taiga, it doesn't matter what your hair looks like, you're still beautiful."
"Absolutely. Now come on, we're already running late."
Ryuuji moves to get up, but is interrupted by a hug from Taiga. She grips his neck tight, and whisper a quiet "I love you" to him. He blinks in surprise. Getting a hug from Taiga, then an "I love you"? That has to be a first. He returns the hug, and replies with a simple "I love you, too".