In some ways, a rival can be more dependable than your best friend. A best friend can wound you with a single careless word. The worst a rival can do is piss you off. But you've been there before, haven't you? A best friend can be unpredictable, sullen one day, sunny the next. A rival will always be annoying. Always, no exceptions. A best friend will never conveniently state if they need a push or a helping hand. A rival demands the push. Easy.

But you're still confused, aren't you?

What do you do when you aren't sure which is which anymore?

Neither one of them want you to win the affections of the lovely young lady, but neither one of them would turn you away if truly needed their help. Neither of them know where you live, but both of them know your locker combination. A single word of kindness from either can warm you all day, and a single word of cruelty is as hard to forgive from one as it is the other.

Let's forget the best friend for a moment.

Now. What about your rival?

He isn't quite so much your rival anymore. He's seen more often than the best friend, anyway. You eat lunch with him, swap the occasional textbook and bad joke. Sometimes... sometimes its easy to forget that you're both supposed to be chasing after the same girl.

The same girl who still thinks of you as one of her brother's friends. Not even his best friend. Just... one of the guys. But hey, at least she thinks the same of your rival, right?

So you and your rival are chasing a girl that barely knows you exist. That must be nice. Something a bit funny though. Have you noticed? You keep fighting to keep your rival from the girl. But who are you protecting? Certainly not the girl's precious honor. She has her brother for that.

Keeping her from him. Keeping him from her. Such a subtle little distinction there. Which would hurt the most? The girl picking your rival over you? Or your rival picking the girl over you? Oh yes. That would hurt even worse than the best friend abandoning you for the boy pharaoh.

Who belongs to you? The best friend? Your rival? Friendship can be so passive. It's like exercise. So hard to do at first, but after while, it's just a matter of habit. Rivalry though, that takes effort. That old spark has to be maintained or it will fall into apathy.

So that's where you're at now. Habit and apathy. But it isn't quite apathy, is it? Most people wouldn't let the supposed target of their affections wander off while they were busy arguing with their rival. Most people wouldn't drink in as many details as possible before shoving him away. Most people would at least say hello to the girl first.

Maybe it isn't about the best friend and your rival after all. The best friend doesn't even seem to be in the picture now. Just you and this strange person who's somehow managed to take the best friend's place and still be your rival at the same time.

Well. Look at that. The best friend. The girl. Your rival. Now which one does it seem you're possessive of? The best friend has run off with the boy pharaoh. The girl still has a while before she realizes there's a choice she can make.

Don't worry so much, Honda. You've still got Otogi.