Omae o Otaku ni Shiteyaru kara, Ore o Riajuu ni Shitekure!:Volume 1 Chapter 8
The next day, upon reaching school, I saw a student carrying a highly piled up stack of notes while walking along the corridor.
It was Hasegawa. She was probably performing her duty as a class rep, and in the midst of carrying the notes on behalf of the entire class to some place.
"A-are you all right!?"
I called out to Hasegawa. My voice went slightly into falsetto range from my nervousness. After what happened yesterday, I made a firm decision to learn from Koigasaki and work harder myself. That's probably why I could call out to her.
I stepped closer to Hasegawa's side and said, "I'll take half of them."
"...... thank you, but, it's ok."
Hasegawa declined politely. Even though I was crushed at hearing those words, seeing Hasegawa stagger with her load, I said,
"No, doesn't look ok to me...... I'll carry some."
Before thinking about how I want Hasegawa to think well of me, I was really worried about her and thus said those words without thinking.
"Sorry, it was really unreasonable of me to try carrying so much at once......"
Hasegawa placed the notes on the floor, and split them in half. I picked up half of them.
"T-there's no need to apologize, it's nothing......"
Hasegawa started off towards our class with the notes in hand, and I followed after her. Hasegawa never replied and we continued on without exchanging any more words.
Hearing Hasegawa's words of thanks made me jubilant on the inside, but I continued to act cool on the outside.
While saying her words of thanks, Hasegawa never once showed a smile and remained expressionless, as always.
Having finished her duties, just as Hasegawa was about to return to her seat, I called out to her.
Compared to Koigasaki's efforts yesterday, mine were still not enough. This won't do, and I need to work harder, I thought.
"I-if, a-anything comes up again next time...... I'll give you a hand."
I finally spoke my mind. That proclamation was unthinkable for me, who had been rather timid up till then.
Hasegawa said nothing to my words.
However, I did not miss it.
Hasegawa once again showed me her smile.
It wasn't a generous smile like the one I saw when I first met her, just a small smile.
But it was a kind smile. There is no question that she is a kind person if she can smile like that. One day, I want to see that same generous smile that I saw on the first day of school.
While day-dreaming about that, I returned to my seat.
Even though I've always been helping Hasegawa out with her duties, today is the first time I talked to her. Since I had this thought that I would never be able to start a conversation with another person in my entire life, I was rather surprised at myself.
With this, I made up my mind to work harder in order to talk to Hasegawa just like I did today.
"Kashiwada, got some time?"
During the next break, I was unexpectedly called at the corridor.
Upon turning around, I was taken aback. There stood Koigasaki's friends, Sasagawa Miki and Amemiya Mizuki.
We hadn't talked since the karaoke session, and I'd fully expected that to remain unchanged.
"H-how may I help you?"
In spite of being in the same school year, I ended up using polite language without thinking.
Once again, I found that appearance-wise, both Sasagawa and Amemiya belong to the more flashy type of Gyarus, and quite honestly, that made me quite fearful of them.
"You know, Kashiwada, recently, haven't you been on really good terms with Momo?",
"I mean...... it's hard to say this but, can you stop getting close to Momo in class?"
On hearing Sasagawa's words, my mind froze.
"Recently, Momo's been getting bombarded by Ashida and other guys with questions like, 'why won't you talk to me yet you're on such good terms with Kashiwada?'. She can't seem to deal well with those delinquent-looking guys and always gets scared. If I'm around, I can help her out, but I feel bad for her when the guys try to get to her when she's alone......",
said Sasagawa with a pained look.
"Seriously...... I didn't know."
That Koigasaki actually had to go through all that because of me.
"Huuh? Are you really clueless about it!?"
At that moment, Amemiya, who had been standing behind Sasagawa, spoke up for the first time.
"You know, I think Momo talks to someone like you because she's a really kind girl, but it's really a bother to her."
Said Amemiya in an irritated tone.
"Rather, you're really causing a lot of trouble to her. Isn't it because you're friendly with Momo that makes others think less of her? And thus, since we are friends with Momo, it also affects our reputation. Get it?"
"Mizuki, stop it."
Sasagawa stopped Amemiya from going on further.
"Well, I'm really sorry, but this is what it's all about......"
After saying that, both Sasagawa and Amemiya left.
For a while, I stood rooted to the spot, unable to move.
The reality that I'd just heard caused my mind to go blank.
Because of me, Koigasaki got bothered by the delinquent guys in my class.
Amemiya told me that I was a bother.
And above all, Koigasaki herself actually found me to be a bother.
That's what Amemiya said earlier.
If what Amemiya said was true, then, indeed, my existence was nothing more than a bother to Koigasaki.
Because of me, Koigasaki's reputation had suffered.
Because of me, she got involved with delinquents.
Unable to think about anything anymore, I walked unsteadily to the classroom.
Having gone to an 'Only' event with just the two of us, having dinner together, I felt that I had gotten a little closer to Koigasaki.
It was unexpected — that in truth, Koigasaki found me a bother.
Just as I thought, even if an Otaku like me tries hard, there's no way I can ever become a Riajuu or a cool guy.
In the end, I'm only good enough to be the target of ridicule and mockery.
Since I got ahead of myself, it's a given for me to be punished.
This is the third time I'm facing despair in my life.
The first time was when I was a freshman in middle school.
In the past, I actually belonged to the athletic type of guy. In elementary school, I was in the baseball club. I was quick on my feet and pretty good at sports, hence was a pretty active player. I had female friends, too, and was even kind of popular with girls.
However, in middle school, under the influence of my friends, I became an Otaku. Without caring about how others looked at me, I engaged in Otaku talk openly in class. The guys whom I'd been close to in elementary school started shunning me. I got ostracized at my baseball club, and at the end of my first year in middle school, I stopped playing baseball, a sport I'd been playing for about four years. And from then on, I devoted myself to my Otaku hobbies.
My second time of despair was the summer of my third year of middle school. It was the day I got repudiated by the girl I liked and was bad-mouthed by other girls behind my back.
And today, at this moment, is the third time.
From that day onward, I ended up avoiding Koigasaki.
Even when Koigasaki called out to me after school, I would tell her, "sorry, but I've got something to do", and quickly went home.
This became the attitude I adopted every time I remembered Amemiya saying I was a bother to Koigasaki.
And because of that, in time, Koigasaki never talked to me again.
Even after taking the trouble to exchange our mail addresses and contact numbers, in the end, we never had a single exchange over the phone.
In the meantime, even Kiritani, who used to be friendly with me, started hanging around the more popular guys, and gradually talked less and less to me. After changing our seats, we were no longer next to each other and pretty much stopped talking altogether.
Since these were the only two people I could get along with originally, after all that, I became ostracized in class.
As usual, I was far away from Hasegawa and we never talked to each other again. I completely gave up on Hasegawa, and also stopped helping her out.
After giving up on everything, I became apathetic. I also stopped my efforts to become more stylish, giving up on styling my hair and trimming my eyebrows. At this point in time, there was no other guy in class who looked worse than me.
Not just that. Suzuki, who used to be attached to me, also stayed away from me. He became friendly with the Otakus in his class, and no longer troubled by having no Otaku friends, he stopped talking to me.
With that, without making any new friends, I spent my entire high school life without a single close friend. Even middle school was better than this.
After failing my university entrance exams, and my worst high school days finally over, my life sunk into despair.
No hope ever came. I no longer cared about anything.
But, if there was one thing I was concerned about...
...... did she manage to get together with him?
As I awoke with a roar, I found myself on my bed in my bedroom.
Beside my pillow, an anime song ringtone was playing noisily. Thanks to this, I was awakened from my sleep.
On the display, it showed, "Incoming Call : Kiritani".
I said in a raspy voice. Remembering now, I've been down with the flu and had been sleeping after taking sick leave from school.
"Hey, Kashiwada, are you ok...... You've been absent for 3 days already."
"Kiritani.....? You're still my friend...... uuuwh, you're such a great guy......"
"Huuh!? What's wrong, you're so creepy...... You seem fine, I'm hanging up."
At that moment, Kiritani really hung up. A glance at the clock told me it was still mid-morning, and he must have called during the brief interval between class periods.
I'd had a long nightmare and appeared to be crying for some reason. My cheeks felt wet.
It was a really terrible dream. And it was frighteningly close to reality.
Since the day when Sasagawa and Amemiya told me not to get close to Koigasaki, I started avoiding Koigasaki, and in about three days, I was down with influenza. After that, I took sick leave from school for three days.
As my mental state had been seriously weakened, it probably affected my physical health as well, I thought.
I looked at my mobile. Mails from Koigasaki...... never came. Well, I'm the one who started avoiding her, so that's to be expected.
I took my temperature with a nearby thermometer; my fever had already come down.
"Naoki, I'm coming in."
After a knock on the door, Mom came in.
"Oh, you're awake?"
Mom put a bowl of porridge beside my bed.
"Eat this. You've been sleeping for pretty much the whole of the past two days. Akari is also very worried."
Akari is worried? That little sister of mine with her bad personality and prejudice against me...... it's probably some kind of mistake.
"How are you feeling?"
"No good...... I still feel feverish and my voice's sounding raspy......"
"Wait, 35.6 degrees!? Aside from your throat, you have totally recovered, haven't you!? You'll be able to attend school next week, right?"
After taking my temperature, I just left the thermometer as it was, and consequently, my lie was seen through.
"I don't want...... to go to school......"
I whined to Mom like a kid, if I say so myself.
"You don't want to go? Naoki, aren't you enjoying yourself more in high school than when you were in middle school? Every morning, you would busy yourself with your hair and the like, and it looked like you were hanging out with your classmates, too."
"I was enjoying myself? I......"
"You were enjoying yourself, very much. What happened? Did you fight with your friend?"
"I didn't...... fight or anything, but it's something close to that...... I suppose......"
We did not fight. It's just that I knew I wasn't 'welcome', so I just avoided her on my own accord.
"If you fought, the best thing to do is be the first to apologize. You don't want to keep up that awkwardness, right? If you apologize, you can go back to being friends."
Mom said it so simply, but it wasn't about apologies or anything like that. In the first place, I was not 'welcome'.
Even the act of talking to her was unforgivable.
So on Monday, after completely recovering from my influenza, I went to school full of melancholy.
Upon entering the classroom, I was showered by looks from my classmates.
The guys who I normally don't talk to asked me, "Are you already ok?"
Once I reached my seat, Kiritani said, "You've completely recovered, right!? Don't spread it to me!?".
I was happy and a little touched by the warmth of my classmates.
At that moment, I noticed.
Koigasaki was looking at me.
I didn't know why, but she was looking intently at me with a sad look on her face.
But I quickly averted my eyes.
On that day too, without exchanging a single word with Koigasaki, I finished all my classes. Even though it was just the eighth day since I'd started avoiding Koigasaki, it felt like we hadn't talked with each other for ages.
Perhaps, we might never talk to each other again. Just like in that dream......
Just as I was about to head home, I remembered that I'd left the textbook I needed for the quiz the next day under my desk, and I returned to class to retrieve it.
When I reached the classroom, I found the door slightly ajar, and I could hear voices coming from inside.
"Koigasaki-chan, why do you prefer someone like Kashiwada?"
It was the voice of my delinquent-looking classmate, Ashida.
It seemed like Koigasaki was inside and Ashida was talking to her.
"In spite of finding him a bother, you still talked to him, right? For a guy like him, he's really getting ahead of himself to be talking to you, right?"
Koigasaki was being bothered by Ashida because of me. It was just as Sasagawa said.
Koigasaki did not say anything.
My legs froze.
Ah, that's right......
"Huuh? There's no way I would like him, please don't screw with me, seriously."
The voice of the girl I liked in middle school rang out in my head.
This is the same situation. Just like in my last year of middle school.
It was the very worst day of my life when I got repudiated by the girl I liked, a day I could not forget even if I wanted to.
That traumatic day which I had relived in my dreams again and again, a day which I could not help but remember again and again.
"You actually found him creepy, right? Am I right?"
Ashida's voice got louder and became more and more intimidating.
Don't ask her any more.
If I were to hear from Koigasaki's own mouth that I was really a bother, I would never be able to get back on my feet this time round.
I wanted to escape from this place right there and then, but my legs were cramped and wouldn't move.
"...... I'll...... whoever speaks badly of him."
She said it with a soft voice that was barely audible. Ashida seemed to have missed it, but I could hear it clearly.
"I'll kill whoever speaks badly of him."
I doubted my ears. But without a doubt, Koigasaki did say that.
That's a line from the anime 『Sakuragaoka Girls' High School』 which I recommended to Koigasaki, a line which the protagonist said when she stuck up for her rival.
On top of ridiculing the anime and the protagonist, Koigasaki said that she wouldn't watch it if Suzuki wasn't watching it.
And yet, she said that line from the show.
Was it for sticking up for me?
"Eh? What? What did you say?"
Ashida asked again. I stood there, kept quiet and listened carefully.
"Don't bad-mouth Kashiwada, was what I said. He's my friend."
Koigasaki said clearly in a shaking voice.
She can't deal well with guys. Especially when it comes to delinquent guys like Ashida, she can't speak to them.
And yet, she's resisting Ashida.
She said that I was a friend. She clearly said that.
"Huuh!? What the hell did you say!? Friend? That creepy guy? Do you even know what you are saying!?"
"...... compared to a person like you, who ridicules people whom you haven't even spoken to, Kashiwada is a much more splendid person."
A splendid person.
Koigasaki just called me a splendid person.
I was already used to getting repudiated by girls.
I thought that there weren't any girls who would ever approve of a person like me.
However, I still held a hope in my heart.
I'm on the verge of tears right now.
"Huuhh!? What the hell are you......"
Ashida snapped on hearing Koigasaki's words.
Worried about Koigasaki, I became anxious, swung the door open and entered the classroom.
Ashida was grabbing onto Koigasaki's arm.
"Let go of her hand!"
If I might say so myself, I ended up uttering that death-cold line that sounded like a line from a manga, but this isn't the time for that.
"What the hell is with you guys? Did you already do it!? That's really gross!"
Ashida thrust Koigasaki away.
Koigasaki collapsed onto the ground.
"H-hey! What are you doing!?"
My voice was completely shaking. Ashida is well-built, and I didn't feel I could win against him in a fight.
But, if I backed down now, I would remain as I was.
I would remain the same weak, cowardly, unbecoming person that I was.
Koigasaki had stuck up for me. In spite of being unable to deal with guys, she stuck up for me and rebutted Ashida.
That's why it was now my turn to protect Koigasaki.
I used all my strength to ram my body into Ashida. With his legs tangled up, Ashida fell to the ground and I pinned him down with my body.
I yelled with the loudest ever voice in my life.
"Eh...... no way......"
"Don't just stand there, run!"
My voice gave Koigasaki a start, and while looking a little confused, she started running, out of the classroom.
"Hehh, that's pretty cool of you."
In the next instant, Ashida punched me on my cheek.
I tasted blood in my mouth.
"What's with you? Don't tell me you are confident in your fighting skills~?"
Ashida grabbed me by the collar as I lied on the ground.
"I don't have...... that kind of confidence......"
"But you want to act cool in front of your beloved girlfriend, huh~? That's real cool!"
Ashida sneered at me.
"She's not my beloved, nor my girlfriend!"
That's right. I have no romantic feelings for Koigasaki. A girl with a bad personality like her is really off my charts and falling for her would be the last thing I do. The only girl I am and have always been in love with since the first day I met her on the first day of high school is Hasegawa Midori.
But right now, I have to risk my life to protect an important friend of mine.
Just like how she stuck up for me.
I turned my eyes to the corridor. Probably just one minute has passed since Koigasaki escaped from the classroom. But if she ran at full speed, she should be far away from here by now.
"I have no confidence in fighting but......"
I kicked Ashida in the shin with all my strength.
"Wha, it hurts......!"
The moment Ashida let go of my collar from the pain, I took that chance and ran out of the classroom as fast as I could.
"What, in the end you're going to just run!?"
Ashida immediately came chasing after me.
I ran out of the classroom along the corridor at full speed, and before long, I reached the stairs and hopped down two steps at a time.
I could hear Ashida's voice from behind.
I no longer knew whether Ashida could hear me or not, but I still yelled out smugly, "I don't have confidence in fighting, but I do have confidence in my speed!!"
When I was in elementary school, I was the fastest guy in class. Even though my speed might have gotten a bit worse since quitting baseball, I'm still going strong.
Once I reached the first floor, still wearing my indoor shoes, I exited the school into a crowded street. I stopped for the first time and turned around.
There was no sign of Ashida. Rather, I seemed to have lost him back when I was ran down the stairs.
It'd been a while since I sprinted at full speed, and feeling tired, I sat down. Even though passers-by were looking at me, I didn't have the leisure to concern myself with that.
I remembered Koigasaki and took out my cellphone to call her.
Koigasaki picked up even before the first dial tone was up.
"Kashiwada!? Are you all right!?"
"Aah...... haah...... I'm, all right...... where are you, now......."
I asked in between my ragged breathing.
"Now? I'm at the door to the teachers' room."
"Eh!? Why...... the teachers' room......?"
"I was thinking of getting Umeda-sensei, the P.E. teacher, to stop Ashida......"
"Wha!? No, it's fine, Ashida is already gone......"
"Really? It's really fine!? Where are you now!?"
"I'm just outside the school......"
"Got it! I'll be right there!"
Koigasaki really did appear almost immediately after hanging up. It seemed like she ran here.
Koigasaki had been on the verge of tears, but, upon seeing the traces of me getting punched, she broke down.
"You aren't all right at all! The infirmary...... ah, but the doctor probably left already......"
"No, seriously, this is no big deal......"
"You can't call that 'no big deal'! Ah, that's right."
Koigasaki appeared to have thought of something; she then rushed to the road and waved her hand. A taxi then stopped before us.
"Eh!? Where are......"
"To my place. It's just a short distance away."
"Eeh!? There's no need to."
"No! We have to treat it!"
"Well, even so, we can walk...... I don't have any money......"
"Don't worry about money! Come on, quickly!"
I was somewhat forcefully pushed into the taxi by Koigasaki.
"Excuse me, please make a right turn at the third traffic light......"
Koigasaki gave the directions to her home to the taxi driver with ease.
Don't tell me this girl is used to going home by taxi......
"What happened after that!? What about Ashida!?"
"Aah, I managed to get away somehow."
"Is that so......? I...... never thought that you'd do something so reckless......"
Koigasaki was still crying.
About five minutes later, Koigasaki stopped the taxi. She hurriedly paid the fare.
"I'll return you the money tomorrow......"
"Huuh!? I said don't worry about it."
As I got off the taxi, I was taken aback.
The house that has Koigasaki on its nameplate...... is an opulent mansion.
It's probably about three times larger than my house.
Even though I'd speculated that Koigasaki might be a rich man's daughter, to think that it was actually true...
As I stepped up to the large entrance hall, I said in a small voice, "Sorry for bothering......".
Upon climbing the steps, I reached the living room and there, I saw a beautiful woman sitting on the sofa. I guessed it must be Koigasaki's older sister.
"Momo, welcome back. Oh, hello~! Are you a friend of Momo?"
"He is. Mama, can you get me the first-aid kit?"
Koigasaki's reply surprised me. The person I thought to be Koigasaki's big sister appeared to be her mother. She had a good figure and wore her makeup even though she was at home, making her look so young that one could easily mistake her to be in her late twenties. Way too different from my Mom.
"Sorry for bothering. Excuse me for coming unannounced......"
"No no, thanks for taking care of Momo. I never expected Momo would bring a guy back~! Oh my, that looks painful! Give me a second."
Koigasak's mother took out a first-aid kit from the cupboard.
"What happened? Did you fall?"
"Yeah...... well, something like that."
Koigasaki brushed it off. Koigasaki's mother urged me to sit on the sofa, and started disinfecting my wounds.
"Sorry to trouble you. Thank you......"
After the disinfection was done, I got up from where I was sitting and hastily headed for the door. However.
"Oh my, you're going back already!? Since you're already here, might as well stay for a bit."
The words of Koigasaki's mother held me back.
"Kashiwada, let's go to my room."
I was deeply surprised by Koigasaki's suggestion.
"Eeh? Can't you guys talk here?"
"No way! If we talk here, Mama, you'll definitely say something unnecessary!"
Ignoring her mother's attempt to hold us back, Koigasaki walked briskly to her room. I kept quiet and followed after her.
I was a little...... no, I was actually quite nervous.
This was the first time in my life I was entering a girl's room, as if I had something to hide. As expected, Koigasaki's room looked pretty much like a girl's room, with a uniform pink coloring her walls, curtains and other parts of the room, as well as plush toys and other cute stuff lining her shelves.
Her bookshelves also had Shoujo manga, fashion magazines and the like. There were also affixed posters of idols.
I sat down on a pink sofa after Koigasaki prompted me, but still couldn't relax.
"I say, why did you do such a reckless thing!"
While I was looking around studying Koigasaki's room, she suddenly burst out angrily at me.
"I wasn't being reckless...... doing that was the only thought that I had in my mind."
"I'm just glad you got away with just these wounds, but, when I think of how much worse it could have been......"
It had taken her a while to stop crying earlier, but now, she sounded like she was about to break down again.
"Thanks for saving me......"
Her straightforward words of thanks ended up throwing me off balance somehow.
"I-It's not something you need to thank me for...... ah, which reminds me."
"Did you watch 『Sakuragaoka Girls' High School』!?"
As if she never expected me to have heard that line, Koigasaki reacted in a flustered manner,
"W-Well, erm, about three days ago, I just happened to go to Tsutaya to loan out a DVD. And, it just happened that the DVD I wanted to watch had been loaned out to someone else, so I thought I could kill some time by checking out what this strange anime is all about, that's all!"
She actually watched the anime I recommended...... Despite having proclaimed that she would never watch it.
"How was it?"
"It was...... unexpectedly, somewhat interesting. Though those weird Otaku-pandering scenes were really annoying."
This was perhaps the first time Koigasaki had acknowledged the Otaku culture. If she kept this up, maybe the day of her becoming an Otaku wasn't that far off.
"Forget about that! I'm really angry, you know!?"
I gave Koigasaki a blank look at her sudden change in attitude.
"Why did you...... suddenly start ignoring me!? When I tried to talk you, you ran away. What's with that attitude!?"
So much happened that I'd forgotten about it, but this was the first time we'd properly talked ever since I started avoiding Koigasaki.
"Were you mad about something!?"
"Erh, it's not like......"
"Then, what is it......?"
While Koigasaki was fuming angrily, there was also a trace of sadness in her expression.
"Didn't we agree to work with each other......"
"Erh...... I...... heard that I was causing you trouble."
Now that it's come to this, I suppose that it was just a rumor. After all, I heard clearly from Koigasaki's lips that I'm her friend.
"What's that about...... who told you that......"
"Your friend, Amemiya, if I remember correctly......"
On hearing that name, Koigasaki sighed out deeply.
"That girl...... has some problem with her personality...... That's the way she is...... I see, she doesn't think much of you......"
Upon saying that, as if she were afraid that what she just said would be a shock to me, she quickly added, "Rather, she's the type who hates all the plain-looking guys indiscriminately", which wasn't really much of a consolation, really. Well, I already knew that Amemiya hated me, so it wasn't really that much of a shock.
"She also told me not to get involved with you, Kashiwada......"
"I must be really hated."
I then understood why she took on that attitude at the karaoke.
"Anyway, I've never said anything about you causing me trouble."
"Yeah, I get it."
"From now on, I won't believe anything unless I hear it from your own mouth."
Now that I think about it, right from the beginning, the reason why I felt that I couldn't deal well with Koigasaki was because of a rumor that she was a bitch, a rumor that had no factual basis behind it.
This time round, I listened to someone else instead of Koigasaki herself and started avoiding her because of a misunderstanding.
Considering that, it seemed that I hadn't made any progress.
At the very least, I've made up my mind that from now on, I'll only believe what Koigasaki tells me.
Koigasaki avoided my eyes, perhaps out of embarrassment.
Then, as if remembering something, she said,
"By the way! One more thing! Did you get lazy on your appearance!? What's with your hair style!? And your eyebrows!? They're a mess!"
I then realized it upon hearing it. Ever since I started avoiding Koigasaki, I'd stopped trimming my eyebrows.
"Have you already given up on Hasegawa-san!?"
Which reminded me — recently, I hadn't been motivated enough to work on my appearance.
If this girl doesn't get on my case, I probably won't pay attention to it.
"There's no way I'm giving up."
To be frank, I did give up once.
I thought it was impossible for me to become a Riajuu and win Hasegawa's heart.
I had forgotten.
That I have her.
That I have a reassuring ally called Koigasaki Momo.
"Aaahh, jeez! You're really such a lame, lazy, hopeless Otaku......"
Koigasaki ranted in exasperation while looking at me.
What? I thought I'dmade some good improvements, and everything's back to square one?
"I can't leave you alone."
Did Koigasaki just say that she couldn't leave me alone?
"If I don't help you, you really can't do anything by yourself...... I've decided, I'll do everything I can to help make you a cool, stylish guy."
"In return, you will do even more than before to help me get closer to Suzuki-kun! I'll become an Otaku and become closer to Suzuki-kun!"
Declared Koigasaki with brimming confidence as she pointed a finger at me.
"...... aah, I get it! I can't ask for anything better! I'll also help you with everything I've got! So you'd best not forget what you just said!"
As an affirmation of our pact, we clasped each other's hands strongly.
"All right, I'll start doing my best again tomorrow! I'll definitely become a Riajuu! And set my flags with Hasegawa!"
When I'm standing beside this girl as a friend, I have to become a guy who doesn't look out of place beside her. I have to become a cool guy who not even Koigasaki's friends or the guys targeting her can complain about.
For that to happen, I must become more stylish, and more of a Riajuu.
As long as she's cheering me on, I'll never be daunted again.
This was the strong vow I had made to myself.
"What are you grinning about?"
While I don't think I'd been smiling, it did seem like my face had relaxed.
"Well, I just thought of a common development that happens in manga and novels."
"In manga, normally, the guy and girl who make some kind of pact usually end up being together...... ah, we'll be the exception, of course......"
I regretted it immediately after saying it. When I looked into Koigasaki's eyes......
"Huuh!? You were thinking about such things!? Creepy!!"
Aah, I shouldn't have said it. I really shouldn't have said it. Please turn back time.
"Ah, your head is really full of manga. All your thoughts are based on them. Haah~, it feels creepy."
"Stop it with the creepy creepy creepy thing! Didn't I say that we'll be the exception! I also don't want such a thing to happen!
I didn't make a girlfriend after entering high school.
But instead, I made a female friend with a venomous tongue.
Translator's Notes and References & OTARIA Glossary
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