The World God Only Knows:Volume 1 Chapter 4
Chapter 4: Minus World
Katsuragi Keima led the way, and the girl was fidgeting somewhat, and she said with a stiff voice to hide it,
“He, hey, Katsuragi! Where are you bringing me? I, I’ll say these bold words first. I’ll refuse if you want to do anything bold to me! I’ll really refuse you! We have to go in order.
Keima suddenly turned his head back.
He stared through the girl with a piercing expression, and the girl could only look around helplessly. They were at a shrine somewhat distant away from the road.
There wasn’t anyone else there.
No, there was someone there.
The person who seemed to be observing them came out stealthily from behind the trees…
(Who, who’s that?)
The girl didn’t know what to do. A girl with a skull-shaped headdress appeared there.
Katsuragi Keima was asking that girl something.
It seemed that those two people knew each other.
“Elsie, how is it?”
The girl called Elsie shook her head.
“…In other words.”
“No. This person doesn’t have a wandering spirit.”
Katsuragi Keima sighed loudly.
“I see. Thinking through it carefully… maybe I should have realized it. I thought it through and thought that the girl with a wandering spirit would have some problems. And because of that, I was searching a girl without problems for problems. After clearing the smokescreen, it wasn’t even a dual character.”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I was really naïve! No, rather than that.”
“Elsie, there wouldn't have been this problem if you had followed me after school. I wouldn’t have been bothered by such a low-level trick…well, the reason why I put you in charge of Amami Tooru was because you were the only one who could detect runaway spirits.”
“This time, the smart one got misled.”
The girl called Elsie stared at the other girl.
“She really looks the same.”
The girl panicked.
She was anxious.
Katsuragi Keima and this girl called Elsie were saying something strange right from the beginning. She was thinking that ‘it seemed that Katsuragi-kun’s not some bad person, so my mission should be over with’. However, these good feelings scattered away.
Her instincts were scaring her, burning like oil being lit.
Who is this person?
Who is this person?
Keima glanced at the girl.
“Fuu…‘what do you want?’. Actually, that's my line. Well, it doesn’t matter. I can roughly guess why you wanted to do this. So just confess, you’re not Yoshino Asami.”
The girl widened her eyes. Keima raised his hand and pointed at her.
He said this.
“Yoshino Ikumi. Her sister, and twin.”
Yoshino Asami’s twin sister, Yoshino Ikumi stood there, stunned.
She was confused.
She looked around in a flustered manner, and the girl called Elsie was looking at her in an interested manner. Yoshino Asami—
Or rather, Yoshino Ikumi who was pretending to be Yoshino Asami felt Keima’s cold gaze pouring through her,
“Thi, this, that.”
First, she raised the one question that bothered her the most.
“Let’s ask this…how did you know my name?”
Even after been seen through, she didn’t get angry due to embarrassment, and neither did she laugh at Keima. She was just panicking honestly.
At this moment, a certain aspect of Yoshino Ikumi showed through, or rather, she basically revealed herself there.
“It’s simple. I asked your elder sister a question back at school, and made a request.”
“I asked her ‘do you have a twin sister?’. And, the request was ‘don’t tell your sister what I asked you today when you get home, but you can follow whatever else she says’.”
Yoshino Ikumi widened her eyes. Keima then said.
“Yoshino Asami…your elder sister answered yes to both questions. She looked incredulous, like you now. She had never told anyone the existence of her twin sister at a different school, and how I knew—like that.”
Keima then continued.
“It’s because of this, right? You heard from Yoshino Asami…your elder sister. She had never told anyone at school about you, so logically, I wouldn’t know of your existence. Thus, you tried to trick me and pose as Yoshino Asami…your elder sister to understand me, right? To know me personally.”
Yoshino Ikumi was stunned.
“Then, when did you realize it?”
She was completely lost.
“You didn’t show any change in expression even until the weekend.”
Keima looked somewhat self-mocking as he laughed.
“No, that was a coincidence…one that you won’t understand even if I tell you. A girl would look so different, then maybe the opposite can hold true. In other words, two girls may look like one person under set conditions. I just thought of that.”
Keima glanced at Elsie.
For some reason, Elsie was all happy, and Keima stared back at her with a somewhat kind look.
After a moment of silence, haha, Yoshino Ikumi laughed stiffly.
She lamented from deep inside her heart.
“I could even fool mom since young if I was serious. To think that you saw through it.”
Keima then added on.
“…But you weren’t serious at all.”
After revealing this, Yoshino Ikumi looked somewhat embarrassed.
“U, tha, that’s because…”
Keima pushed his glasses and said with a heavy tone.
“If you were serious, you may be able to be just like your sister. That ‘ordinary’ personality can be completely duplicated, right? But you showed your true personality in front of me because you weren’t aiming to make fun of me or play a prank on my. Your aim was simply just to understand me.”
Yoshino Ikumi was showing fear in her eyes.
Because Katsuragi Keima.
This good looking boy in front of her was practically saying the truth.
Fu, Keima grimaced.
“…Speaking of which, even if you weren’t serious, I was fooled by you. Twin switching should be the basics of basics.”
He clicked his tongue slightly.
“Two conquests overlapped…so I had the idea of taking the initiative. I was too naïve too.”
He continued to remind himself.
“But, well, since you took action like this, I found a way to solve it, and this outcome’s rather delightful too.”
Keima used his long and narrow eyes to look at Yoshino Asami.
“You’ll tell me, right? Tell me about your sister’s troubles, Yoshino Ikumi. That’s why you approached me, right? If it’s me.”
Keima said confidently.
“I’ll definitely save your sister. I can do it.”
Yoshino Ikumi timidly shouted out.
She practically shouted her lungs out.
“HOW MUCH DID YOU KNOW, KATSURAGI-KUN?”
The shout was filled with the fear the ordinary girl had on the insightful boy. Keima widened his eyes, but just for that moment.
Fuu, he laughed confidently.
“Everything! Everything! I know everything! Yoshino Ikumi, everything!”
Keima waved his hand as his declared that.
Elsie nodded her head too without hesitation as she folded her arms.
“Hm~as expected of kami-sama.”
Yoshino Ikumi looked at Keima and Elsie, showing obvious fear on her face.
“You said, eve, everything…”
She said with a hoarse voice.
She finally managed to find her words.
“You’re not god!”
Keima’s expression suddenly went serious. He turned around and muttered to himself.
“Speaking of which…this is the second time I was called ‘kami-sama’ since I started this conquest. However.”
He again turned to look at Yoshino Ikumi.
He gave an expression that was overwhelming and wouldn’t allow for any objections, and it can even be called pressurizing.
“I am God! I’m the conquest god!”
It wasn’t just an expression itself as Yoshino Ikumi was wavering from the expression. Elsie seemed to be really impressed as she said,
“Hey, that’s true, you know? Kami-sama’s really god!”
Yoshino Ikumi was speechless. It’s like a certain part in her brain short-circuited, and that she felt numb. (Actually, this was really Keima’s aim, to use a forceful tone to show his confidence to her.)
Yoshino Ikumi suddenly showed tears in her eyes, and at the next moment.
She started laughing like she had a loose screw. Elsie was shocked, but Keima merely cocked his eyebrows.
“…Is it strange?”
He asked coldly.
“Is it strange that I called myself god?”
Yoshino Ikumi was laughing so much that she was gasping, and shook her hand.
“No! That’s not it, ahahaha!”
Finally, she managed to hold back her laughter, and her fingers wiped away the tears that came out.
She suddenly nodded her head with a relaxed expression.
Her eyes were full of confidence. Keima’s lips showed a smile. This was exactly,
The outcome that he wanted.
Yoshino Ikumi declared.
“I got it! I’ll trust Katsuragi-kun completely! Please! Solve onee-chan’s problems!”
Keima smiled with his lips, and also his eyes.
He simply said.
That was something that happened a long time after that. Yoshino Ikumi still remembered everything as she said to her friends in amazement.
Her words were full of honesty,
Though she more or less misunderstood about the term ‘Conquest god’, this was more or less something to take heart from!
“Really’s a guy who conquered earth!”
However, this would be what happened after. Right now, Yoshino Ikumi was wholeheartedly describing her sister’s situation to Katsuragi Keima. Keima, Ikumi and Elsie went to the back of the shrine, found a bench to sit down on. They were drinking the canned juice Elsie went to buy, and Yoshino Ikumi started to talk,
About her sister’s situation.
“Onee-chan, she really hates people.”
She said such a shocking thing so easily, took a deep breath, exhaled greatly, and looked at Keima.
However, Keima was,
Yoshino Ikumi smiled.
(It’s great to have someone like this.)
Then, she hurriedly said to hide her delight.
“It’s not just an expression.”
She said to Keima, who in turn nodded his head.
“Aren’t you surprised? This onee-chan of mine looks so ‘ordinary’, so approachable, doesn’t have any special characteristics and looks so well-behaved hates others, you know?”
Keima similarly asked back.
“Is there something to be shocked if she merely hates people? And,”
He showed a knowledgeable expression as he added,
“I’m thinking of whether it’s this sort of reason…or rather, this kind of reason. That ‘ordinary’ was just a mask of Yoshino Asami, right? For convenience in her life.”
Yoshino Ikumi chuckled.
“No wonder onee-chan would be so concerned about you, Katsuragi-kun?”
Keima prompted her to continue on with her eyes. Yoshino Ikumi nodded her head hard too. On a side note, Elsie was the only one who was confused.
The girl didn’t understand more than half of her words.
However, Yoshino Ikumi and Keima continued with their conversation as they left Elsie aside.
“Ever since we were young.”
Yoshino Ikumi started saying,
“Ever since we were young, we were often told that ‘you sisters really aren’t like each other’. Ah, of course we’re not talking about our appearances. About that, we’ll occasionally feel that we’re facing the mirror. I feel that twins are more similar to each other.”
Keima nodded his head.
Yoshino Ikumi smiled slightly and said with a complicated expression.
She said with a sad expression.
“She’s completely different inside.”
“Katsuragi-kun, what about me?”
Yoshino Ikumi hurriedly turned to look at Keima.
“I guess you can tell from the time you were with me, but I like people! I like being with others! I have lots of friends, I like school, and I’m really happy to talk with Katsuragi-kun now. But,”
“Onee-chan’s the opposite.”
Keima remained silent. Yoshino Ikumi continued on,
“But onee-chan, she’s the complete opposite of me. She hates others, hates gatherings, hates being with people, and a school with lots of people is something that depressed her. Interacting with people and being with them would cause her to feel like she’s suffering.
(In the karaoke bar…in the theme park, at the bowling alley…so that’s the reason why she doesn’t feel comfortable.)
Yoshino Ikumi said,
“As for onee-chan, she said that she really liked to read books alone, play games, watch movies. That’s her dream.”
Yoshino Ikumi grimaced.
“When we were young, both of us had a dream. Mine was to be a kindergarten teacher. Guess what onee-chan’s wish was? To hide in a nunnery deep inside a forest, and that was during elementary school, you know? What kind of student is this!? A lot of people would have thought.”
Keima didn’t say anything.
Yoshino Ikumi shook her head.
She added on with a depressed look.
“The biggest problem is.”
She paused and then muttered,
“Onee-chan hates this aspect of hers the most.”
Keima’s eyebrows never twitched at all.
Because this was exactly what he expected.
If not, she wouldn’t be wearing that mask to live on.
Yoshino Ikumi continued,
“She said that she always envied me, seeing that I’m on so good relations with others, envied me for laughing together with everyone else. That’s what she said. We’re sisters. Is it because we’re twins? No, that’s not it. Onee-chan herself would have exceptions when it comes to hating people. Family members are basically alright, so at home, onee-chan would often…no, would always talk to me, and then.”
“It was the first time, really the first time. Onee-chan started talking about all sorts of things that happened in school. More accurately…”
She sealed the lid to look at Keima’s expression.
Keima’s expression didn’t show any change at all. Yoshino Ikumi then smiled slyly as if she wanted to crush Keima’s poker face, and said,
“She started talking to me all about this guy called Katsuragi Keima.”
However, as expected.
Keima still remained silent.
This was also as expected.
Keima prompted her to continue. Yoshino Ikumi looked somewhat bored as she said,
“Aren’t you shocked? That onee-chan would only talk about how you, Katsuragi-kun, whether it’s ‘whatever happened to Katsuragi-kun today’ or ‘he enraged a teacher today’ and would continue talking! Her eyes were blazing! Isn’t this love or something! Onee-chan’s really an ordinary girl!”
(Is that so?)
Keima had a question mark in his mind.
(It’s not love or anything. Absolutely, at least for now.)
However, he didn’t say this to Ikumi and merely asked.
He stared at her eyes and said,
“So to check my behavior, you disguised yourself as Yoshino Asami, your own sister?”
Yoshino Ikumi nodded her head heavily.
“I was really shocked the first time I met you! At that time, I knew that Katsuragi-kun stayed near our house. I was shocked when onee-chan was really happy as she said ‘I walked home with Katsuragi-kun!’. That’s because you were really there, Katsuragi-kun, and more importantly, your appearance was just like what onee-chan told me! ‘Pretty-looking face and looks like a rich kid hikkikomori!’ or something like that.”
“Before that, I heard onee-chan that ‘otamegane, he’s called otamegane’, so I thought that onee-chan’s description of Katsuragi-kun’s appearance would be an image created from a girl in love, so I was half-doubting it. But I was really shocked when I met you. You’re really like a rich kid.”
Yoshino Ikumi giggled.
Keima himself was giving off cold sweat.
Should he be happy about this at this point…
“Ahaha, it’s late, but I have to apologize to you, right. Anyway, I still tricked you, Katsuragi-kun.”
Yoshino Ikumi lowered her head.
On a side note, at this moment, Elsie was…sleeping.
Kukaa~she was sleeping soundly. It seemed that she logically gave up on understanding the topic at hand as it was too complicated. Keima glanced at her and sighed.
“It’s alright. This shows that you’re worried about your sister. So your sister’s not really good with socializing with others, and if you understand me really well, it’s obvious that it’s not suitable for her to dive into a relationship with me. So you wanted to try me out to see whether I can match your sister.”
“To be honest.”
Yoshino Ikumi scratched her head in an awkward manner.
“To be honest, I was a little curious as well. I was really curious how this Katsuragi-kun onee-chan kept talking about was like.”
“…Which was why you didn’t disguise yourself completely to be like your sister.”
Yoshino Ikumi admitted.
“Because, if possible, I wanted to look at how you would respond to my sister with a different mask on, a different ‘me’…how you would respond to onee-chan inside school and outside school. Well, this can be a conclusion somewhat.”
“It’s true that I was troubled.”
“Because a lot of scenarios overlapped with each other.”
Yoshino Ikumi lifted her eyes and looked at Katsuragi Keima.
“I could have told you the truth earlier, but I didn’t do so. I delayed it for a while…well, I actually wanted to confess about this to you…do you know why?”
Keima gave a wry smile and said,
“It’s because you saw Amami Tooru…that girl who was just like an angel, right?”
“That’s absolutely correct! At that time, I was thinking that even though this guy’s called otaku, otamegane, is he really a flirt? I don’t know how you managed to attract such an irritating onee-chan, but were you fooling around with that onee-chan or something like that.”
Keima plainly stated.
He stated casually,
“I’m not popular with girls at all. Normally speaking, that’s the case.”
This time, it’s Yoshino Ikumi’s turn to break out cold sweat.
This time, it’s Keima’s turn to ask.
“You just said that Yoshino Asami, your sister, started talking about me from the first day on. That’s likely something that happened long ago, right?”
Yoshino Ikumi nodded her head.
“I guess it’s around the time when she was in the same class as Katsuragi-kun.”
“I see. This is just my guess, but was there a huge change in Yoshino Asami during the few days after she met me? For example, did she say lots of self-loathing things, especially about human relationships?”
Yoshino Ikumi widened her eyes.
Either way, her voice trembled in amazement.
“How did you know?”
“Just as expected.”
Yoshino Ikumi continued to stare at Keima silently for a while, and then sighed in the same manner, looked forward and said,
“Un, that’s how the case is. I don’t know how you knew this, Katsuragi-kun, but it’s just as you said. Onee-chan was always envious of me, but it seemed to have become even more intense. ‘Let alone you, Ikumi…I guess I want to be a girl who can interact with others too’—that was what she said. We, well, I guess that’s it. She felt even more bothered after liking you, Katsuragi-kun, I guess. Maybe she thought this way because she wanted to be on good relations with you?”
Keima didn’t answer.
But in his heart,
“I see. It’s shaping up…seems like Yoshino Ikumi was correct.”
He muttered deep inside his head.
He then answered with a question.
“But your sister always wanted to correct herself. That’s why she joined the tea ceremony club which requires one on one communication with others, something she’s most inept at, right?”
Yoshino Ikumi laughed stiffly.
“That’s right, that’s completely right. Onee-chan joined the tea ceremony club because of this reason. Onee-chan had been worried about her personality and wanted to correct it, correct how she hated others. Thus, she would try to join gatherings, and would even work hard to participate in club activities.
Yoshino Ikumi grabbed Keima’s hand.
“Please! How can we cure her? What should we do to make onee-chan more sociable?”
Her eyes were full of trust in the almighty insight of Keima.
“If it’s Katsuragi-kun! If it’s you, Katsuragi-kun, you’ll know, right? What should we do?”
Keima didn’t respond as he raised a question that’s slightly deviated from the topic at hand.
It wasn’t really a question that was directly linked with the conquest, just something that this boy called Katsuragi Keima himself wanted to know, something he wanted to understand about Yoshino Asami.
“How’s your sister when she’s not wearing a mask? How’s she at home?”
“How’s she at home?”
Yoshino Ikumi said with some doubt,
“Ah, no, you’ve been talking about some mask up till now, Katsuragi-kun. But onee-chan won’t really change personalities immediately, and she would be delicate and kind to others just like she would be to us. She would also listen to my complaints too. I feel that she was even gentler because she’s not really good with people. It’s just…onee-chan would never show her burdens to others, ever. It seemed that she would be pained to let others see her real weak side. Thus, she always wanted to be a good girl. I said before that onee-chan would let me share my complaints, but that’s the difference. Onee-chan, she,”
Yoshino Ikumi paused for a while,
“Actually, she’s really a good girl who tries to overcome her weakness.”
Keima was silent for quite a while.
“…Is that so.”
And he merely answered and stroked her chin. Elsie rubbed her eyes and got up in a dazed manner. Keima glanced at Elsie and then said,
“I got it. I’ll find a way. It’s definitely possible.”
Yoshino Ikumi’s eyes were shining.
At this moment, Keima answered with a stern expression and said,
“But your assistance will be necessary. You’ll help me, right, Yoshino Ikumi?”
Yoshino Ikumi raised her hands in approval.
Was standing there blankly.
Yoshino Asami was invited by her younger sister Ikumi, who just returned home.
“My friends and I will be going to Dean Land tomorrow. You want to come along, onee-chan?”
Of course, Yoshino Asami wasn’t really interested. However, the younger sister said,
“Well, I feel that it’s a good training for you as you try to get along with others well, onee-chan.”
Then, she added an ‘and also’ which shook Yoshino Asami’s heart.
“Katsuragi-kun’s coming along too, that Katsuragi Keima-kun onee-chan often mentioned.”
Yoshino Asami couldn’t help but ask as that face of hers was full of,
Such questions. Yoshino Ikumi answered,
“Coincidentally, my friend’s friend is Katsuragi-kun!”
On hearing that,
Yoshino Asami answered as if it was instinct.
Her younger sister Yoshino Ikumi was nodding away in a satisfied manner.
The next day was a bright sunny day.
Yoshino Asami’s heart was beating hard as she reached the entrance of the Dean Land. Over there, there’s the bronze statue of the founder of Dean Land, Ikegoma Gakkan. This was the gathering place.
For some reason, her little sister Ikumi,
“I’ve got something on, so I’ll go first, okay?”
And after saying that, she smiled and left the house.
Yoshino Asami thought,
(Since we’re living together, shouldn’t we just go together…or rather, even though I don’t know what you have, I can still accompany you.)
“Ahahaha, you must enjoy yourself today, really enjoy yourself, onee-chan~”
Seeing her little sister give such a bright smile, she couldn’t say anything.
Facing this sister of hers who had a completely different personality, Yoshino Asami always felt that there was something she couldn’t match her in.
She was heavily reliant on her twin sister, Yoshino Ikumi.
She had reached the age of youth, and she couldn’t fawn around with her parents like when she was young (even though this was the case, there wasn’t really much of a family issue, just a little feeling of isolation, especially to the father). Her sister was basically the only person she would talk to.
Even though she would also have her own troubles or talk about school, whenever the little sister complained about youth things that ‘studying for tests is so hard~’ or ‘there’s a handsome guy in class…’ (Even though they look the same physically, in this aspect, Yoshino Asami would be a late bloomer, so she was rather restrained in front of guys, often being very shy) she would listen attentively.
Even removing this factor, the twin sisters were on good terms with each other.
But even though she’s the elder sister, the decision making between these two girls would always land on the younger sister, whether it’s about school or about Katsuragi Keima.
“Onee-chan, tell me more!”
Ikumi would always prompt her to talk about it. She knew that her sister was worried about her.
Worried that she still had inter-personal problems.
Her sister was always so worried.
‘You hate people.’ That’s how the sister would describe Asami, but to Asami, it was a little different.
She’s just not good with others.
Asami wasn’t really good with building relationships with others on the surface.
Thus, if there’s a need to say that she ‘hated’.
It’s more like she hated,
‘Communication with others’.
She hated it…
No, that’s not it.
‘She hated ‘herself’ for being unable to communicate with other successfully.”
In fact, she didn’t really hate ‘humans’, or rather, it was the opposite. Asami loved to read books, and she basically read highly-rated books, biographies, and of course, light novels too. However, she’s engrossed with the characters that appeared in the books because she liked the existences called ‘humans’. As she couldn’t be involved, Yoshino Asami liked to see people interactions.
“Onee-chan, in our class, a classmate close to me likes a certain guy from another class, but he.”
She liked to listen to her sister Ikumi talk about these unnecessary things. To be honest, what shocked Ikumi was that Asami was very clear about her sister’s relationships with her friends, and also, she understood her classmates’ personalities, standpoints, history and so on.
It’s not that she didn’t care about others. She was really interested in them. However,
Once she got involved, she couldn’t take it.
Yoshino Asami really liked happy people.
Ikumi was able to describe things things so happily because she could always build rapport with anyone around her, and she liked to look at classmates who could get along well from afar.
Couldn’t do it. Once she got involved, she felt like she would crumble. How should she put it? It’s like the harmonious balance would collapse once it enters ‘her’. She would not know how to react, and would then feel uncomfortable, and then her body would feel uncomfortable. Thus, other people thought that ‘onee-chan hated humans’ as a response.
She’s really frustrated with herself for having such strong thoughts.
She wondered when was it that she couldn’t get along well with people.
It wasn’t that there was any chance.
Before she realized it, she found her sister dazzling, and then always envied her, and then felt unhappy about it—that was when she was still a kid.
She wrote that she ‘wanted to be a hermit in the mountains’ as her dream, and her homeroom teacher was extremely worried and told her parents, who were in turn extremely angry.
These were her true thoughts. It’s not that anyone wasn’t good with her, but that she just couldn’t do it.
After they reached their youth, the difference in personalities between her and her sister became more obvious, and Asami tried her best to correct her personality…
Even though she felt anxious about that, but this was a major reason why she agreed to go to Dean’s Land. Asami was still fearful about personal relationships, but she would often take part in class activities or social events, and she chose the tea ceremony club because she hoped to use one one one communication to improve her interaction ability.
But in fact.
Most of the situations couldn’t work. She couldn’t smile too much when she was playing with others (she didn’t feel like she was smiling), she was worried about whether she irritated them, whether she made them unhappy, got really anxious until she felt uncomfortable. Then, she would be more cautious about the people around her and would feel even more embarrassed. She would always inadvertently compare herself with her sister.
‘’Why am I always like this?’’
And would feel dejected because of it.
But to be honest, she had a little expectation that came with this anxiety.
After she got off the bus a walked down a gradual downhill slope, she looked around and found the meet-up location. There was a stern-looking male bronze statue beside the entrance, and 2 people were already standing there.
Ikumi and Katsuragi-kun aren’t here yet?
Thinking about this, she wanted to turn to the opposite direction to look for him, and found him there.
Her heart beat wildly as Katsuragi Keima was standing there alone.
He was still playing his handheld games. Asami was troubled as she wondered if she should talk to him. After hesitating for a moment.
“We, well, Katsuragi-kun.”
She summoned her courage to utter out those words.
Katsuragi Keima suddenly spread his arms wide and kicked his right leg like he was using to the handheld console in his hands to catch something that’s falling from the sky.
Yoshino Asami was taken aback as she backed away.
Keima’s eyes returned back to the screen.
“Okay, success…good morning.”
Yoshino Asami heaved a sigh of relief.
“Ah, u, un, good morning.”
She found her senses and put on her usual ‘ordinary’ mask. This was the only skill of interaction Yoshino Asami had.
Yoshino Asami, who’s not good with getting along with others, thought of the only way to mix with the crowd.
A low profile.
Not making people unhappy or be too forthcoming. That’s,
Yoshino Asami’s method.
“You’re really early.”
She said with a calm tone as she looked for a way to start the conversation.
“Your younger sister…Elsie-san, she’s not coming?”
It doesn’t look like it was a problematic question, and logically, she felt that Keima would answer,
“Un, I like buns, but I’ll take anything you make for me.”
Yoshino Asami was bothered.
She couldn’t help but ask back.
“So you don’t have to depreciate your own cooking.”
Unable to establish a conversation, Keima then said to the handheld game,
“I, TOLD, YOU, I, LIKE, BUNS!”
Yoshino Asami was speechless.
“We, well, Katsuragi-kun?”
The moment she asked this question, Keima said,
“I, LIKE, BUNS!”
No matter how she looked at it, there’s only one dangerous weirdo. Yoshino Asami finally realized that Katsuragi Keima was talking to an in-game character.
The proof was,
“Un…NO! I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE COLOR OF UNDERWEAR I LIKE, REALLY!”
“Un…it’s nice to download this morning breakfast event, but the voice recognition device still can’t work. This will be bad for conquest. Got to let the manufacturer correct it. Hm?”
At this moment, Keima finally noticed that Yoshino Asami was staring at him blankly. After glancing at her, the first thing Keima said was,
“Hey, you’re here?”
Yoshino Asami was stunned…
Has she really fallen for him?
To her sister, it was,
“Well~it’s love love! You’re definitely thinking about Katsuragi-kun now, onee-chan!”
And that was what she said.
As she reported her daily school life events to her sister, the mysterious boy called Katsuragi Keima kept popping up more often, and her sister pointed that out.
On hearing that.
She should more or less be honest with herself.
It was a fact that she was blushing, and her heart was beating even faster. Her sister happily said,
“Hey~ just as expected!”
She clapped her hands.
“No, that’s not it!”
Yoshino Asami shook her head and her hands. She thought that she couldn’t possibly have this feeling.
Normally, when she talked about him, she would be merely a little more shy than usual.
Ignoring this rationality, it’s just like what her sister said. Her heart did waver. Was this—falling in love?
At the beginning, she was often mindful of this boy called Katsuragi Keima. During lessons, lunch break, inside the classroom.
Even when they brushed by each other on the corridors.
Before she realized it, she was shocked to find that her eyes were always following Keima. To be honest, recently, she had been going home with Keima, and even though she looked like nothing was going on, her heart was secretly beating wildly.
Nobody knew whether it was really love or not, and to be honest, she didn’t really understand this thing called love.
There’s just one thing.
There’s just one thing she could be certain of.
And it was,
She was very mindful of Katsuragi Keima, this boy.
She couldn’t deny that she had feelings for him.
She didn’t know the reason.
Thus, she checked this thought of hers which she couldn’t really understand. Even if it’s a little, if she talked more to Katsuragi Keima, maybe she could sort out the messy thoughts that couldn’t be sliced off. However…
She just felt uncomfortable on meeting him.
What made her even more troubled was—the next thing Keima said,
“Alright, let’s go in, shall we?”
And just like that, he brought Yoshino Asami into the Dean’s Land. Asami was panicking.
“Eh? Th, this?”
Right in front of Keima, the ‘ordinary’ mask she always managed to put on successfully was shed.
“Wait! Where’s my sister? Everyone else?”
“What? Didn’t you hear? Your sister and Elsie will be here one hour later, and the rest seem like they’ll be here after that. There are only 2 of us right from the start.”
On hearing these words,
Yoshino Asami was rooted for a moment.
And couldn’t help but shout out as it was completely unexpected.
Then, Keima hurriedly entered Dean’s Land, and Yoshino Asami looked lost as she followed in.
Keima looked at the crowds of people that entered and said without hesitation.
“…I don’t feel like changing clothes. What about you?”
(This is a facility that only allows access after getting into cosplay.)
Yoshino Asami blinked her eyes and blushed.
She didn’t know what to do, what to cosplay.
It was alright if she was with her sister, but it would be too embarrassing to do it alone with Katsuragi-kun!
She couldn’t help but say these words, and then realized something as she stuffed her mouth. However, Keima’s mood didn’t seem to be affected.
“Of course. Really, I don’t know what those people who like cosplay are thinking. It’s impossible for 3-D to beat 2-D.”
He muttered to himself, and Yoshino Asami’s mind was thinking about all sorts of things.
(Eh? Ar, are we going to be alone together? Wha, what do I do now? I can’t sing karaoke, I can’t play games, I, I can’t hang on!)
Asami was bothered by this as she started to panic again. But soon, all these thoughts were for naught. Keima’s expression suddenly,
Went completely serious.
Yoshino Asami reacted to where Keima was looking at. Over there,
“Bishoujo game~Uniform enhancement week~”
There was such a poster on. Keima looked around with an even serious expression, and Yoshino Asami also looked around.
So that’s how it was.
She wasn’t sure, but there were really girls wearing strangely glamorous uniforms around.
Perhaps these uniforms were all worn by girls in games?
At this moment,
“Is that the uniform of Izumi Academy in ‘Poninyan’? But the color of the sash isn’t right…and what’s that!? The uniform of Grand Sand Academy from ‘The Time Without You’ and the Furuhara High School uniform from ‘The Smiling Summer Vacation’ is all mixed up!”
It seemed that Katsuragi Keima really couldn’t stand seeing the slight mistakes in the uniforms.
“That uniform’s insignia’s reverse! I said that there’s a bird together with a tree on the insignia of that Ohno bird patch! Or else that last flag would be meaningless!?”
To be honest, Yoshino Asami didn’t understand what Keima was saying, but…
She could thoroughly understand why Keima was angry. Then, he answered the statements of ‘hey you, do you have any right to say that’ with action.
Completely ignoring the existence of Yoshino Asami, who was accompanying him, he stormed to the reception and ranted,
“This so-called uniform has huge problems!”
He complained to the workers of Dean Land, and then said meticulously,
“Then, remove the scarf here, and that should be all. There should be gold thread used to make prince clothing, right? It would look more like a student from Neville Academy.”
He continued to raise point after point of improvement. At first, the workers were all incredulous, but as what Keima pointed out were direct and would have a huge effect with just a little correction, what happened was that it wasn’t just the counter girl who listened, but also the superior, until,
“That, that’s really amazing! Please be our costume consultant!”
He held Keima’s hands in a touched manner and tried to convince him. As for Keima,
“If I can do so for costumes related to gal-games.”
He readily agreed.
Just like that, an hour passed.
Until the time Yoshino Ikumi and Elsie arrived.
At first, Yoshino Ikumi heard about everything that happened and called out.
“Eh~? No way! You two didn’t go play!?”
To this, Yoshino Asami could only agree with it. Elsie was the only one who looked guilty as she gave a bitter expression and looked at Keima who was slamming the table at the counter and saying things.
(That’s really just like what kami-sama would do.)
It was somewhat a little reluctant.
Thus, Keima and Yoshino Asami were joined by Yoshino Ikumi and Elsie, and even Keima didn’t intend to stand in front of the counter and talk about gal-game clothing. ‘’Really’’; he gave such an expression before following the Yoshino sisters and Elsie.
The one excited was Yoshino Ikumi, as she looked like she wanted to bring her sister closer to Katsuragi Keima as this sister of hers looked like she was unable to get near Keima,
“Over here! We’re going in here!”
She loudly declared as she pointed at the selling point of the 7-levels Dean Land, ‘entering a haunted house with a swimsuit’. Yoshino Asami was blushing, Elsie was shocked, and Keima was merely giving a blank face.
What’s with this facility?
That’s what his expression was arguing.
Let alone cosplaying and walking inside the facility or the jet coaster outside, the designer of Dean Land took it too far. Also, this ‘wearing swimsuits and entering a haunted house’ was a rather brilliant concept.
The entrants would have to change into swimsuits at the entrance (both male and female versions were available for loan), and they would enter a building where the water’s at their knees.
It was designed as an ‘underwater complex’.
As of his understanding, it’s a haunted house combined with a swimming pool. The entrants would have to wade through the water-filled complex.
The ‘Water moving at knee level’ was the crux.
For example, they’ll find that the water that was all clear up till a certain point became bloody red, or that someone grabbed their ankles from within the water.
Whether it’s an increase or decrease in temperature, ordinary humans will feel a large psychological burden.
There were too many unknowns that were concerns.
The unknown water.
That’s rather scary.
In a certain sense, it was an outstanding creation.
Another reason was that as they have to wear swimsuits, a lot of couples were attracted as they were looking for thrill. Yoshino Asami was hesitant at first, but bought an entrance ticket on Yoshino Ikumi’s forceful request.
They came out separately from the men and women changing rooms on the left and right sides respectively. Yoshino Asami and Ikumi were wearing striped one-pieced type, while Elsie was wearing a separate thing with a towel wrapped around her.
What’s amazing was that even though the twins were wearing the same swimsuits and had the same face, Yoshino Ikumi gave a lively impression while Yoshino Asami just looked pathetic.
Also, Elsie’s figure was unexpectedly good.
Even Keima, who was rather cold to real-life girls, was somewhat moved.
After that, Keima, the only guy, and the 3 girls entered the haunted house and dipped their feet into the warm water as they walked into the labyrinth attraction. It was rather scary, and Elsie and Yoshino Ikumi were walking in front, and Keima and Yoshima Asami were following behind.
Every single time there was a drop of water from the ceiling or a zombie popping out to scare people, Yoshino Asami would let out a pained cry and cling onto Keima.
It was impossible to resist it.
She didn’t mean for this to happen, but that her body was saying its own thing and responding in such a manner. Keima blushed slightly as well, but never ever rejected Yoshino Asami.
She would cry at one moment and make a ruckus at the next moment. The four people finally finished this one-of-a-kind facility, and Elsie and Yoshino Ikumi seemed like they really enjoyed it.
After completing everything, they changed back into their own clothes inside the changing room. Even after walking for quite a while from the haunted house, Yoshino Asami’s heart was still beating wildly.
Was unlikely to be because of fear.
They ate their slightly late lunch at a restaurant in the theme park. At that moment, Yoshino Asami just felt like she let go of everything as she would talk and joke with Keima and criticize Keima with Ikumi, and even to Elsie, whom she never really talked to…even though there were some restraints, she could still talk normally.
She was happy.
So she could talk to people other than her own sister.
She was so shocked,
About this new discovery.
She wanted to thank her sister,
And she wanted to thank this boy called Katsuragi Keima even more. However,
“Ah, that’s right! My friends will be here this afternoon~”
Her sister said that. On hearing Yoshino Ikumi’s casual words, Yoshino Asami’s abdomen ached slightly. The intense happiness suddenly wilted, and it felt like she got a dampener.
At this moment.
Katsuragi Keima was silently looking at this Yoshino Asami,
While eating his omelette rice with his spoon,
Had an expression that looked like he could see through everything.
Katsuragi Keima’s request beforehand to Yoshino Ikumi was extremely simple.
“First, let’s have Yoshino Asami and I have some time alone in the Dean Land…let’s see, about an hour. Then, it’ll be you and Elsie. Finally, your friends will show up in 2 hours’ time. Get some optimistic and forgiving people who are really sociable here.”
On hearing this, Yoshino Ikumi said,
“I got it! So we’re going to get onee-chan to get used to it in steps, right? First, Katsuragi-kun, then, us, and finally, the rest. In that case, even onee-chan who’s not used to group gatherings can ease her burden a little~I see. As expected of Katsuragi-kun!”
She said that in amazement. Elsie also said,
“Un~ as expected of kami-sama! This method’s really nice!”
She said as she flailed her arms. At this, Keima merely,
Thus, Yoshino Ikumi followed what Keima instructed. Once it was afternoon, Ikumi’s friends slowly gathered at the Dean’s Land one by one.
The group was then so large that there were 7 people altogether.
Keima, Elsie, the Yoshino sisters, a tall boy, a kind looking boy and an energetic girl with a really cute smile.
“Okay~ everyone! Let’s enjoy ourselves today!”
The tall boy who had that leader attitude declared.
That girl happily said,
“I always wanted to come here to play!”
“Ah, I came here a few times. Un, I recommend..ahh, before that, let’s introduce ourselves first, okay?”
The kind looking boy seemed like he was thinking for everyone. After that, everyone decided to head back to the counter to change before playing.
Yoshino Ikumi was extremely excited.
“Hey hey, what clothes is everyone changing into today?”
She asked her friends as she looked really happy.
“U~n, let’s wearing something we couldn’t wear the last time. Hey? Onii-sama?”
Elsie was also completely into playing mode as she asked Keima. Yoshino Asami looked rather ordinary as she said,
“…Katsuragi-kun may be really suited to dress up like a prince.”
Only Katsuragi Keima,
Was playing the PFP silently.
Everyone ordered the costume they wanted to cosplay from the counter and changed at the changing room. After changing, they started to cheerily evaluate each other’s clothing.
And then, they went for karaoke.
They all sang for 2 hours, and then changed clothes before moving to the bowling alley.
It was really exciting.
They were split into two teams in a competition.
Right now, the competition was intense. Teammates were high-fiving with each other, and it was really bustling. Then, everyone was having tea inside Dean Land and chatting away.
Excluding Yoshino Ikumi, who recruited everyone, they all met for the first time. However, everyone got together rather well, and the boys and girls with quite the good personalities didn’t seem to show any estrangement. Elsie and Yoshino Ikumi were laughing from start to end, and the important Yoshino Asami looked rather ‘normal’ as she blended in.
She was still smiling.
After a while, everyone decided to head to the game center. The boy joked about, and everyone burst into laughter. Then, everyone started to jab each other with words, and Yoshino Asami was laughing while covering her mouth.
Elsie, who was walking last, whispered secretly with a soft voice that nobody else could hear to Keima, who was walking beside her.
“As expected of Yoshino Ikumi’s friends! Everyone’s all really good people.”
Keima remained silent.
Elsie said in amazement,
“I see! Creating such a joyous atmosphere and getting a few sociable people can correct Yoshino Asami-san’s ‘human hating’ presence. Lookie look, kami-sama! Yoshino Asami-san has gotten on well with everyone!”
Keima looked at Yoshino Asami’s thin profile. She was answering someone, and looked rather happy.
“Is that so?”
And then, he turned to look at his PFP again.
“I can bet that things won’t be that easy. A lack of communication skills can’t be treated so easily.”
“Eh? Then, then why?”
The unexpected words caused Elsie to stop as she didn’t know what to do. Keima left her behind.
And remained expressionless.
But just for a moment, his eyes sparkled.
He was waiting.
It looked like he was waiting for something.
After that, they had dinner, and everyone head towards the dance hall level. There, one person changed for some reason.
That person was Yoshino Asami.
Yoshino Asami should have Keima, Elsie and Ikumi with her, but unknowingly, Keima wasn’t with her.
At the event place, he was called out by the workers to head out through the back door. It seemed that they were asking for suggestions for the sudden ‘gal-game clothing consultant’ that suddenly appeared, and she couldn’t help but wanted to keep him with her.
However, she couldn’t find an excuse. Thus, Yoshino Asami swallowed her words.
Keima didn’t have any direct links with her. As she responded, she found her sister Ikumi saying something to the 2 boys.
She was alone.
She didn’t know how to get involved. She didn’t know what to say.
The remaining girl Elsie was looking around blankly.
To Asami, there’s nothing more painful that getting together with the people around her. Once she entered her youth, she unknowingly had the ‘ordinary’ as a manner of response, and after such a long time, she finally reached her limit.
She felt even more pained.
She felt that it was harder for her to smile.
To get along with others,
Her heart was starting to ache.
It was painful.
That’s why she hated herself, and Ikumi, who was like her split personality, was able to talk with others so happily.
The discomfort on her body started to strike her.
She wanted to puke.
Her body couldn’t help but tremble.
It was like for a few times, and she was really unhappy. She wanted to go, she wanted to get involved, she always wanted this to succeed.
She wanted to be like her sister, to get along well with others in an ‘ordinary manner’.
She would face a huge setback every time.
Why couldn’t she just be ‘ordinary’?
A simple chat with anyone,
Anyone could do it.
But she couldn’t do it if she didn’t borrow the power of the mask she constructed. So that’s how it was.
She had such a huge flaw.
It couldn’t be helped then.
Her forehead was sweating, and unknowingly, she couldn’t take it, and couldn’t smile anymore. As she watched Elsie and her sister Ikumi getting along well with everyone, she couldn’t keep a calm heart. ‘’Let’s apologize then, apologize to my sister later, and apologize to Katsuragi-kun after that.’’
She covered her mouth with her hand, forcing herself to hold back the strong urge to puke.
There were cosplayers wearing all sorts of costumes. And at this moment, she,
Ran out of the event hall, not looking back as she ran off, down a staircase where no one was, stuttered down half the level, and turned back after she found a certain boy who passed by her.
Standing over there was,
Katsuragi Keima, who was holding the PFP tightly.
He kept his back facing her and said,
“Are you going back home like this?”
At the corner of the stairs, Yoshino Asami looked up to see Keima’s back and muttered. Keima turned around,
“Before you run back home.”
He sighed, lowered his head and looked at Yoshino Asami before asking,
“Yoshino Asami, let me ask you something.”
Facing the lost Yoshino Asami, he took a step down and said,
He raised a question,
“Why must you make friends with others?”
Yoshino Asami was stunned. Keima continued to walk down the stairs and say,
“I had been observing you, trying to know you. You’ve been forcing yourself, right? Is it really that important to talk and joke around with others? Was there a need to chat happily with others? Do you have to worry about being left out in a friendly group? Ha! That’s stupid! Watch a person’s mood? Why do you have to observe a person’s mood? Atmosphere? Just let it be messy if it’s messed up! What’s so bad about being haughty? Just being alone! If that suited you, be proud of your own solitude! Don’t be lost, Yoshino Asami!”
Yoshino Asami immediately understood.
She was seen through. That Katsuragi Keima,
Saw through all the problems she had.
She had always been struggling with her feelings, and had given up on the true nature.
“As for me.”
Keima stared at Yoshino Asami with a sad expression,
And took the next step down,
“I’m like this, Yoshino Asami. I had always been like this.”
He was just like an eagle flying in the blue sky and looking down at a pathetic animal that was crawling in a lonely manner.
He knew that.
Always been like this, he had always been like this. He was proud of it, and never complained about living alone.
He saw through her existence.
She must have always admired this boy called Katsuragi Keima for not being swayed aside by anyone, standing alone there with superhuman will.
Yoshino Asami’s voice was trembling. She finally realized that she, Yoshino Asami was really admiring Keima, and had feelings for him.
But, she realized it.
She couldn’t be like Katsuragi Keima.
Her tears flowed out, and her body couldn’t help but tremble. She covered her mouth with her hand and cried out,
“BECAUSE! I CAN’T DO IT! I’LL FEEL HURT!”
Words naturally flew out of her.
“I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE! I’M SCARED OF BEING ALONE! I, I’M NOT STRONG LIKE YOU, KATSURAGI-KUN!”
Whenever she saw that her sister was getting along well with others, she felt the unspeakable loneliness, anxiety, and that her sister was about to leave her.
That’s why she always followed it. Her split personality.
As for Keima,
He smiled kindly and said,
“Yoshino Asami. You don’t actually hate humans.”
He slowly walked down the stairs and stood at the same height as her as their eyes met,
“You’re just simply afraid, afraid of being hated by people…just a little more afraid than ordinary people, just a little.”
“If it’s the original you, will you feel lonely?”
Keima said firmly. He kept his kind smile and placed his hand on her shoulder. At this moment.
Keima’s eyes were showing sincere light.
Perhaps it was concern for the girl who seemed similar to him but was in fact not. He said,
“Aren’t they here? Don’t you have a sister who’s thinking of you no matter what? Who says that you can’t live normally with people?”
“If there’s a choice between ‘you’ and ‘the world’, she’ll undoubtedly choose you. You’re not alone. You’re not alone, Yoshino Asami.”
He added as he brought his face closer in.
Yoshino Asami’s body stiffened for a moment as Keima’s words invaded her heart and soul at this moment.
“I’m right beside you. I’ll accept the normal you. On this basis…”
Yoshino Asami closed her eyes, and Keima’s lips gently closed in.
That forgave everything, accepted everything, approved everything.
The kiss that had Keima’s ‘belief’.
Yoshino Asami was thoroughly released at this moment.
That was the first conquest for the day.
Swoosh. The runaway spirit flew out from Yoshino Asami’s body, and Elsie, who was waiting at the stairs above,
Immediately reclaimed the runaway spirit. Keima opened his eyes and sighed in his heart.
He seemed to feel a weird stare.
That’s to be expected.
Keima’s eyes met with the girl who was looking up at the two of them in a surprised manner.
The possibility of meeting was unexpectedly high…
But he managed to trigger an encounter.
The ‘Denpakei’ girl, Amami Tooru was standing there.
After that, the chaotic series of events happened. Amami Tooru was clearly shocked as she widened her eyes and turned around before fleeing.
“We did it! Kami-sama! We got the runaway spirit!”
Elsie was extremely happy.
Yoshino Asami was still leaning on the wall in a dazed manner, and she shall lose all her memories of this conquest. At this moment, the workers from Dean Land came rushing over.
“Ah, so you're here, fashion consultant! You see, the dance had already started. It's thanks to you that this dance event was really successful!”
They said that as they pulled Keima.
Keima hurriedly said,
However, they never let go, and Keima was forcefully brought back to the event hall and pushed up the stage as he was given the support from everyone as he was lifted up.
“Hey, wait a sec! I'm busy! Let go of me!”
Even after Keima said that, the crowd were just cheering loudly.
They must be thinking that it's some form of entertainment.
The happy music echoed.
Keima looked up.
“It's necessary to follow the original plan, isn't it...”
Katsuragi Keima was seen kissing a girl directly, and having bore such a negative impression that would be hard to take back, he started his final conquest...
She stayed in a very luxurious mansion
Her father was a big boss.
He ran a few famous enterprises.
Her mother was a famous aristocrat.
Her entire family was extremely rich.
Ever since she was young, she had nothing to worry about. She had full-time maids and butlers, which would be unbelievably rare in modern Japan, a chauffeur, bodyguards and specialized chefs. Also, there were Japanese and western food.
Ever since she was young, she had 4 outstanding home tutors taking turns to teach her. Her garden's really bad, and German Shepherds would be released at night.
There was also a large lake.
A few white birds were swimming on the lake, and their wings were clipped—to prevent them from flying away.
It sounded like a joke, but there was even a personal golf course in the garden. It was an interest of her stout father.
Her father was one with such great wealth.
No matter how sumptuous they lived, they had such wealth that there seemed to be no problems.
It was so great that it probably wouldn't be shaken even if the next three generations continued to spend. Her life was that envious.
When she wakes up, her maids would be waiting for her at a corner of the rest.
She would walk to her personal bathroom, and someone would hand her a hot towel, wipe her face and choose her clothing.
For breakfast, the emphasis is on the ultimate harmony of healthy and delicious food.
Her parents belief were that,
Everyone must be present for meals. That would then be a happy breakfast befitting that of a prestigious family.
And so, all 3 members of the family must be present. After having breakfast, she would go to school, and there would be a black limo sending her there. Normally, this kind of sending would be extremely exaggerated, but the school was one where extremely rich kids would be studying at, which made it quite a common thing there.
There were princes of large enterprise companies, daughters of politicians, girls of foreign royal blood and sons of famous international pianists. Everyone was obviously outstanding, not worrying about the things in the world. Each one of them were obviously rich, and each one of them were served by others and accepted them accordingly.
There was a world that was completely different though.
They definitely won't know.
In school, she would use the 'keigo' tone that nobility would use as girls were always like this.
So thus, she was like this too.
That's the kind of education she had.
And she did it.
If she didn’t do so…
She was the only daughter, a girl who was to inherit the vast fortune of her father and the highly prestigious bloodline of her aristocratic mother. She was always given lots of expectations and love.
While she was rather healthy, she once fell ill when she was young.
While it wasn’t an exaggeration, all the staff of an entire hospital was summoned to the house, and her parents felt that this should be the case.
However, she still felt somewhat guilty.
Of course, she was bathed in the highest class of love, and she had the most advanced care, and even the highest level of education was often prepared for her.
As a child of a respectable family.
Education was something that was necessary.
Violin, piano and even riding were taught to her.
And she even learned table etiquette before she learned how to talk.
Standing posture, mannerisms or even verbal gestures; all these minor details were checked by her father,
And the specialized home tutor. She would be told off if she broke the rules slightly.
This seemed like it was implemented from her mother’s family, from the time of her maternal grandmother.
Once she showed any signs that didn’t fit that of a daughter of a respectable family,
She would be told off. As her mother,
“That’s our love for you! That’s why we have to harden our hearts and show our scowls!”
She teared up as she said that. At a certain level, she would receive a penalty.
Like for example, being unable to go out.
Like for example, not allowed to have her meals.
Like for example, being smacked lightly on the hand.
“When my mom did this to me back when I was young, I really hated her for it, but now, I’m really grateful to her for training me to be such a refined lady.”
Her mother would emphasize this in a teary manner.
Answered dryly with a dull expression and accepted it.
She accepted it.
To become a highly refined girl, she had to try her best not to disappoint her parents. Her father would only,
“Un un, mama’s right.”
He would often agree with her mother, and then, to his own daughter,
And he wouldn’t hesitate about it. That’s because it’s his love to his daughter.
It’s all for his daughter’s sake.
Would have the voices ringing inside her head.
“Minus Check! Minus Check!”
And it would never become positive.
It was always negative.
Under the education as points continued to be subtracted off instead of being added.
She grew up under such an environment.
She had a unique habit in that she liked to imagine ever since she was young. For example, as she look out from her room through the window and into the night sky far away, her mind would start to weave a story.
She would use a story that she knew as a basis and illustrate the prince on the moon and the princess on the stars, and then rethink about it again and again and enjoy herself.
No one would obstruct her.
This was a sweet world that belonged only to herself.
For example, if she saw the white clipped birds and the German Shepherds with the chains on them, she would come up with a story of a remarkable friendship between a hurt traveller and an artist who lost his lover and his will. The intricate details of this story would even amaze her.
That’s her only shelter.
During the storm of Minus Checks.
She used her imagination that spread her wings out in this situation. Most of the source of this imagination was from the current books or manga she had.
She had secretly bought a lot, hid them and browsed through them.
In contrast to her age,
There were a lot of books that were more like children books, and she liked to read books or manga that were aimed at a younger age.
But one day,
They knew about it.
‘I guess this person should be alright’. After deciding this, she said this to a maid after she went out, and yet she told it to her mother, and her mother threw out all her collection. Seeing her stunned like this, her mother said,
“These books and manga are for kids, not for a refined lady like you at all! You actually hid this from your mother…”
And that’s what happened. Once the points were accumulated to a certain extent, she would be hit on the hand.
That pain didn’t matter.
The physical pain on the body wasn’t much as compared to the pain that she felt inside her heart, and she couldn’t even cry out.
That night, as she returned back to her room,
She looked outside the window listlessly, bathed under the bright moonlight, and thought.
(I want it to be always a plus.)
Normally, she wouldn’t imagine with herself as the main focus, and she had never imagined herself to be the protagonist in her imagination.
But that day was different. She imagined and thought.
In this planet…where the guiding stars were shining, there was a treasure that’s called ‘an eternal plus that won’t fade away’. Even though she didn’t know what it was or how it looked like, but she started on an adventure. This was a journey of infinite imaginations as she looks for herself, relies on the guidance star and finds it. Sometimes, she would be an angel, and sometimes, a princess, and sometimes, a female detective, and sometimes, a female swordsman. However,
She had to become a character that’s far different from herself.
To find an ‘eternal plus’.
That would change her heart. So let’s try it.
She wanted to search for it in the real world.
From that day on, her preparations were all set. She skilfully arranged the time such that she had enough remaining time for herself after school, extra-curricular activities and as she moves to and from home.
Though there were only 1 or 2 times at school.
It wasn’t impossible at all. She was smarter than what her parents thought as she used the internet to buy clothes, download the maps, and had already planned her journey one time after another.
She tried it that day.
She was always cautious as she went home. There was a large 5-sided star painted on the building, and she snuck in as her parents went out. As that building had restaurants, manga cafés, and billiards shops, nobody could stop her once she entered.
As she completed her cosplay as an angel, she looked up the emergency staircase, and thought that it didn’t matter even if she was seen.
Because she was an angel now.
She had become an angel.
She wasn’t that princess who was always stuck inside the huge mansion and had to take Minus Checks.
At a turn up the stairs, she met a male smoker who walked in. That man widened his eyes in shock after seeing her dress-up.
She was a little ashamed, but she felt more like teasing him. Unlike the usual get-up she would show, she pushed the initiative with the next daring action.
“…I’m an angel. I’m looking for an ‘eternal plus’. Do you know what it is?”
She looked serious as she asked.
The man took a few steps back before running out of the staircase, and a happy feeling swelled up in her.
Fufu. She chuckled.
She used this time to run up the staircase. Ahaha, before she realized it, she was laughing, and then she arrived at the rooftop.
An endless landscape appeared in front of her.
The unlimited blue sky covered the streets in front of her.
Ahahahaha, as she laughed, she felt.
She felt that the thick fog in her heart was cleared from her eyes, and for some reason, she cried for a while for some unknown reason.
After that, she just needed a chance to repeat this and make some minor changes. However, no matter what costume she wore, her basis of ‘looking for this eternal plus that wouldn’t fade’ never changed. She continued to believe that ‘I’m looking for it’, and turned this daring entertainment into a decisive action.
Her parents were even stricter on her.
It’s because of this, because of this, that what looked like another form of entertainment opened up in her like a window…
On a certain day, just when she was dressed as an angel like usual and looking for her ‘eternal plus’,
There was a fire, and she was shocked about such bad luck. Anyway, she decided to get to safety first. However, as she was the only one at the rooftop, so it was slightly too late the moment she heard the alarm. As she reacted, the surroundings were already covered with smoke, making her really scared.
However, she used her handkerchief to prevent herself from breathing in smoke and successfully managed to head down the emergency staircase. At this moment, she managed to get an encounter.
A boy collapsed onto the floor while hugging a brightly colored bag to his chest.
At first, she couldn’t help but be stunned.
“Are, are you alright?”
As a kind girl, she obviously went to save him. The boy stared at her in a dazed manner for a while, but quickly lost consciousness.
As a delicate girl, it was already a miracle that she could save him. Another reason was that the boy himself was rather light, but there was a strange force that she had never felt before filling up her body. This time, it was because of that power.
“Because I’m an angel!”
That’s what she really thought back then,
“So I have to save him!”
Before she realized it, she had already reached the bottom of the body and laid the boy’s body on her back onto the floor. After exhaling a huge breath, she felt like she really accomplished something.
But once she felt the sounds of the ambulances and the fire engines coming over, this sensation wilted and quickly became fear. If they stayed here and talk about who saved the boy, someone would contact her family, and her secret adventure game may be discovered by her parents. She felt terrified about it.
She hurriedly left the scene and subconsciously turned behind.
Un~ He moaned.
It seemed that he was okay, but she was still worried.
After barely managing to squeeze some time out, she decided to take a look at him. Thus, she checked on the boy, who he was and what hospital he was staying at.
To her, who’s good at collecting information, money and contacts, this wasn’t something hard to her.
On a certain day, she went to the hospital and met with the boy. It was really a coincidence that they met on the rooftop, and after seeing that the boy was really healthy, she wanted to head back, but as the weather was too good, she couldn’t help but enjoy the scenery as she looked out from the roof.
After that, the boy followed her…
“In that case.” She jumped down and talked to him. She felt that his eyes were really beautiful. As she talked to him casually and saved him, she was an angel.
Thus, she continued to disguise herself as an ‘angel’.
She saw that he was really puzzled, and deep within her heart,
(Well, we won’t be meeting for a second time already.)
That was what she thought,
Bye bye. She waved her hand and left that place. It was supposed to end there.
However, the boy appeared there for the third time.
It was a break day, and she found an alibi, left the house and walked around on the streets. As she was looking around for the star-shaped building, the boy again talked to her.
“Shall I help you find something?”
The girl was shocked. She was really happy to see him safe, but she had never even thought that they would meet each other again. While talking, she found that the boy continued to stick to her.
Suddenly, she thought.
“A request to go on a date?”
“Does he have an interest in me?”
In fact, she was already used to being talked up by young guys on the road. She knew of such animals.
She had already learned that guys are animals who would want to attract the attention of girls. She also knew that she was rather attractive to guys.
She really felt like playing tricks on him.
Thus, she continued to act an angel. She felt that the boy was trying to make a good impression, and that if she continued to talk about things from her own imaginary world, he would run away eventually. The other guys were like this without exception.
Like for example, if other guys would say to her,
“Hey hey, do you have time now? Let’s go out to play.”
At this moment, she’ll just say,
“Sorry, I’m looking for my guidance star!”
“I’m looking for treasure! I’m a runaway princess! You’re wearing such shiny costume. Are you a soldier?”
As long as she smiled and said this, the other party would definitely reveal an ambiguous expression and say ‘ah, it’s alright, never mind, sorry’ before running away.
Thus, she thought that this boy would be the same too, and would quickly surrender before retreating…
However, this boy was different. He never took a step back as he continued to follow her until the end. No matter what nonsense she did by bringing him to the entertainment center that he was always interested in,
No matter how she tried to make him cosplay.
No matter how she dragged him selfishly along for a roller-coaster ride.
He always tried his best to respect her view on the world, which shocked her. Up till now, nobody would do this for her.
Her parents denied her inner world without exception.
The rest viewed her as a strange creature from her imaginary stories.
However, the boy,
Still believed with those beautiful eyes.
Her actions, her world, her worlds, her behaviour.
The boy accepted all of that while he was with her, and embraced this with her. No matter how others viewed her with strange looks, he never backed down.
He did that proudly.
Not flattering her at all.
He just continued to look at her.
She…never had this feeling before.
“What was going on?” She thought. However, happy times would fly so fast. There was contact on her handphone, and it seemed that her mother started to doubt her excuse.
She had to go back.
As she would be lonely,
She never said goodbye.
Maybe she acted until the end.
And because like a lost angel,
The fourth encounter was too disastrous. She met him while walking on the street at an open terrace café.
After walking by happily,
She found a cute girl with him, and the shock she had was so huge that it was far more than what she expected. So, that’s how it was, she thought.
As expected, he was just a guy who really liked girls.
Maybe it was just out of interest that he went out with her, and she really couldn’t take it as she hurriedly left. That day, for the entire day, she was really restless.
Then, the worst thing happened that day.
Found out that she was walking on the streets.
The reason seemed to be,
The check carried out by her home tutor.
Perhaps it was the one positive amongst all the mishaps as the reason why she did so was undetected. Her parents just thought that she made up the schedule to play on the streets.
She took numerous ‘Minus Checks’ and endless punishments. She was forbidden from going out except with her parents, and got scolded over and over again.
“That’s not what a refined lady should be doing!”
“We had such high expectations for you!”
“You betrayed out trust!”
Minus check. Minus check. Minus check.
She heard those words until her mind was all blurred, and while she cried unhappily at first, it didn’t matter in the end.
Perhaps her mind was breaking.
Every time there was a Minus Check, her body would have black fog around her, and looking at it, it was a ‘-‘ sign after another. The ‘-‘ sign continued to cover her like garbage and dust, taking her vision away.
But her parents didn’t seem to realize it.
The girl was imprisoned by the ‘-‘.
Her dreams vanished.
Her imaginations wilted.
What swallowed her was the corrosion of reality.
This was her final resistance. Her greatest wish. She tried hard to search through her happy memories and arrived back at the Dean Land where she had fun with that boy.
The time was really tight, and she felt that she could see those clear eyes of the boy clearly.
And then, they met,
The boy was kissing another girl…
Nothing else really mattered then.
The girl already,
Gave up on thinking.
The girl’s name was
That day, Amami Tooru had lots of Minus Checks. As she sighed heavily and returned back to her own room,
She was lethargic during the past few days.
After seeing that boy, Katsuragi Keima kissing another girl.
The minus fog that covered her was too much.
It was too thick,
It was hard for her to move forward,
Taking extremely fatigued steps,
Opened the door to her room, and then,
She met him for the sixth time.
Basked in the moonlight that shone directly into the room, he whispered,
Yes, he smiled.
Katsuragi Keima was standing there.
Amami Tooru was stunned. What was most unbelievable was the fact that he was there. The security in this house was extremely tight, and it couldn’t be imagined how he would break in through the front door, escape the guards, prevent the German Shepherds from barking and being undetected by the security snesors.
It was impossible.
“H, ho, how? Why?”
Amami Tooru muttered and looked up. And she was even more,
Stunned. A huge hole opened in the ceiling, only the ceiling in Amami Tooru’s room. The gentle moonlight shone in from there.
It was like spotlight shining down from heaven.
The boy who was shining brightly like a prince.
“I’m a prince, so I’m here to save the imprisoned princess.”
Keima respectfully placed his hand in front of his chest and said that. Amami Tooru was so stunned that she couldn’t say anything.
“How, how did you do it?”
She repeated. Keima smiled,
“Didn’t I say it? I’m a prince. I used lots of ancient magic. The moon tonight is really beautiful, and magic is really effective now. I rode a silver carriage and flew in the air before arriving in this house’s garden. The soldiers guarding you raised their spears at me, but I chanted a magic spell to make them sleep.”
“St, stop kidding around!”
Amami Tooru was angry,
Unknowingly, their positions were reversed.
“How, how could there be such a thing?”
Keima described his fantasy, and Amami Tooru denied it.
Keima smiled and took a step closer. Amami Tooru instinctively took a step back.
Keima started to come up with another story,
“I’m like what you said. I’m god. I borrowed the power of a demon to look for the lost angel.”
Keima asked calmly.
“Wh, why? Why? Be, because.”
Amami Tooru was confused.
“Wh, why!? Why are you here!? Why must you come here!?”
“Because I like you.”
It was direct.
Straight into the core. Amami Tooru’s eyes lifted up. The reason why she rejected Keima wasn’t just because he appeared in that room like magic,
“You, you kissed that girl already!”
She was angry, clenching her fists and growling.
“YOU’VE ALREADY KISSED!”
Keima’s expression never changed.
“Actually, I had a deal with a demon.”
He said casually,
“That kiss was actually to save that girl. To prevent that girl’s soul from being eaten by other demons, I could only do that.”
“I, I don’t believe it!”
“This is the real story that belonged to me. It’s like the story you said, a quality, real story.”
Amami Tooru was confused,
“What are you…”
Her body started to tremble,
Her legs started to tremble.
The black fog that surrounded her got thicker.
“Who exactly are you?”
“Didn’t I say it?”
Keima narrowed his eyes slightly.
“I’m the prince who came to save you.”
He stretched his delicate hand out.
“…To save a princess who’s bound by such a minus mark.”
A beat later,
Amami Tooru widened her eyes.
Nobody could see that ‘Minus’.
See that imprint that was placed on her soul!
“You, you can see this?”
Seeing the shocked Amami Tooru, Keima merely nodded his head.
Amami Tooru shook her head.
Showing the wavering in her heart.
In front of Keima,
Her real thoughts,
The soul that was hurt and suppressed shouted out.
It cried out.
“I’M NOT SOME PRINCESS! I’M JUST A USELESS GIRL WHO’S ALWAYS CALLED OUT FOR SOME MINUS MINUS THING! INCLUDING THOSE BOOKS! I JUST HATED MINUS! I HATED IT! BECAUSE I HATED IT!”
She hugged her head.
And started shouting out in an almost maniacal manner,
“I HATED IT! I HATED MINUS! I REALLY HATE IT! I DON’T WANT SUCH A WORLD! I WANT TO BE, I WANT TO BE MYSELF THAT’S DIFFERENT! THAT’S ALL, THAT’S ALL!”
Keima closed in on Amami Tooru with a pained expression, and at a distance where they almost touched.
“…I like your story. I like the you that’s narrating the story. I like this you right now. Even if you change, I’ll definitely,”
“I have a belief, I face reality with that belief. Your story, the one you created where you’re fighting with ‘now’.”
He looked straight in her eyes and asked,
“Don’t you have any belief?”
Amami Tooru timidly said,
“Bu, but I’m covered in minus! What can I believe in!?”
She shook her head,
Tears flowed out of her eyes.
“My story already had flaws! I’m powerless!”
Seeing Keima question her so calmly, she shouted out at the top of her lungs.
“THAT’S WHY I SAID THAT IT DIDN’T EXIST! I’M LOOKING FOR THAT ‘ETERNAL PLUS’ OR SOMETHING! I KNEW IT RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING! THIS THING NEVER EXISTED RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING!”
“Yes it does.”
He suddenly changed his expression and said clearly,
“The eternal plus is here! Now, right in your heart!”
He pointed at Amami Tooru’s chest.
Over there, it was the cross that was hanging on Amami Tooru.
The shape of the ‘plus’, the symbol.
Keima smiled and said,
“I have a belief. With this belief,”
“All minuses will become plus.”
(As long as you have a belief that you want to save the other party with all your heart.)
As if time stopped, Amami Tooru was frozen for a while.
Her mind accepted Keima’s words,
Chewed on it,
And swallowed it.
All the entanglements.
(I see. So that’s how it is…)
Something warm appeared, and the moment it exploded.
The cross let out a glow.
The minus signs were blown away, and the light shone like a storm as the chains of minus gradually broke, the negative thoughts that bound her words broke. In the midst of this light, Keima smiled, stepped forward and kissed her. Amami Tooru never tried to avoid Keima.
Or rather, she took the initiative and accepted Keima.
Light of hope.
After a while.
Having heard the explosion, the parents rushed into Amami Tooru’s room. They were stunned. First, it was the large hole in the ceiling.
The furniture that was all over the place.
And a seemingly restless Amami Tooru.
Her face looked flushed like she was drunk.
“It feels…like there was a prince here.”
Then, she turned around,
Wasn’t an expression of a princess that relied on her parents’ expectations to survive.
But one that realized something important,
An energetic girl’s smile.
At the same time, Elsie, who was in the air, said to Keima.
“It’s finally over now!”
She was the one who used the power of the hagoromo to pierce the ceiling, captured the runaway spirit that flew out as Keima kissed, and brought Keima away from the scene.
At this moment, Keima sighed tiredly,
“That was really a long night…”
However, he looked rather satisfied.
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