Friday, February 18, 2022

Please Leave Me Alone V1 Chapter 2


Translator: Pingas



I spent the entire Golden Week laying in my house being a dead fish. It’s mid-May now. The midterm just passed by. I’m about to go home after the class assembly. During this time, Shiramine came to talk to me.

“Nanamura-kun, do you have a moment?”

It’s an SSR event for me to be talked to in class. I nearly jumped from that.

“W-What’s wrong?”

“You haven’t handed in your Japanese homework yet.”

“Ah, right, we have something like that…”

I’ve really slacked off after the exam is over. I don’t really want a recommendation letter to universities, anyway. Honestly, I can’t care less about the internal report. The only things I need for not staying a year are attendance and exam grades. This homework is only for the internal report, so it’s fine even if I don’t do it.

“I’ll be the awkward one to submit it to sensei if I don’t have everyone’s.”

“I see. Things are tough on you as well, Shiramine.”

I’m fine with being scolded, but it’s otherwise if someone has to take it for me. It’s because a lone wolf can never return someone else’s favor. Sigh, let’s just get this over with.

“Sorry, just a second.”

I took the notes out of my school bag and started writing. The homework is about writing your thoughts on the criticism text discussed in class. Even though the word requirement is a lot, I’m already used to making up stuff when writing light novels. It took me less than 10 minutes.

Just as I’m silently writing, fewer and fewer people are in the classroom.

Then, Shiramine’s voice came from above my head.

“Hey, you can just keep writing while you answer.”

“What?”

“What’s your total score in the last exam?”

My hand that’s holding the mechanical pencil stopped. This unfamiliar person certainly knows how to ask strange questions. After I raised my head, Shiramine’s closer-than-expected chest came into view. T-They are huge. …It’s even more apparent because she’s short.

I don’t know how she interpreted my reaction of reflexively looking away from her weapon of mass destruction. Shiramine quickly waved her hands as if she wanted to find an excuse.

“S-Sorry, I asked you a strange question. I’m just a bit curious…”

Hmm, I pondered it for a moment.

Why is Shiramine asking things like that?

It’s not rare for friends to ask each other’s scores. However, her interaction with me is next to none. It’s puzzling to see her asking how I did in the exam. Don’t tell me Shiramine thinks of me as her friend? That’s impossible.

…Ah, I know it.

“Shiramine, are you the 2nd place in the class?”

“Y-Yeah, …how did you know?”

Shiramine’s almond-shaped eyes bulged. I put my hands on my cheeks and answered calmly.

“I just guessed it. Well, that’s the only reason I can think of when you’re asking an unfamiliar person’s exam score.”

Suppose a person who ranked no.20 in class asks for a stranger classmate’s score. That guy must love meddling in other people’s business. Is this girl trying to put everyone’s rank in a statistical graph? Shiramine doesn’t look like she has that kind of weird curiosity.

However, things are different if someone ranks high or very low in class.

Our high school is still a famous one. It has a lot of students who did very well in middle school. I can understand why people care about who ranks high in a class like this.

Shiramine is also very good at academics in Class A too. She can always answer the teacher properly whenever she’s called.

That’s why Shiramine wants to see who ranked higher than her instead of lower, right?

“You’re looking for the 1st place, right? This time, it’s me.”

“Hmph, …I didn’t expect it to be Nanamura-kun.”

Shiramine’s expression looks very stiff. She doesn’t believe me. Sigh, well, I don’t blame her. I don’t really pay attention in class, anyway.

However, I don’t want her to think I’m bluffing. So, I handed her the grade sheet from this morning’s class assembly. The class rank is 1, while I got 4th place out of the entire grade.

“Nanamura-kun is so good at studying. That’s surprising.”

This time, she was genuinely surprised.

“It’s just luck. The area covered is pretty small, after all.”

I got good because I came from 3 years later. But it’s kind of dumbfounding that I got 4th place in the entire grade only. It looks like there are always more talented people.

Sigh, I do know one of those people.

“Here, it’s done.”

Shiramine snapped out of it after I shook the homework in front of her. She moved her eyes away from the grade sheet. After taking the paper politely, Shiramine put it inside the transparent folder in her hand.

“Well, I’ll be taking this. Also, thanks for telling me your grades. It’s a nice challenge for me.”

“Glad to help, I guess?”

Shiramine left the classroom with the folder after waving at me. She seems to be going to the office right away.

Phew, I took a deep breath and stood up. It’s hard to see from Shiramine’s appearance, but she really doesn’t like losing. Even if I got 2nd place, I wouldn’t go out of my way to know someone else’s scores.

Come to think of it, I just remembered it.

I don’t remember talking to Shiramine this much in my previous high school life. It would be all about work, even if I did.

It seems that connections between people are still created sometimes, even if you don’t want to relate to that person.

However, even so, the fact that this is annoying to me doesn’t change.

By the way, even though I was a mess when I tried to talk to her, things were normal today. Indeed, it’s a fatal mismatch for me to talk to someone to know them better.

*

After school, I went to meet Hanamitsuji in the old family restaurant. Although I’ve made no progress in making friends, the family restaurant meeting continues every Monday. I feel like I’ll meet a brutal end if I don’t go.

“Then? How did your exam go?”

“It’s fine. I was about to do the public exam a while ago, after all.”

“That’s great. I was worried that you would not study and go write light novels instead.”

“Things will be even more troublesome if I fail the exam. If a lone wolf is going to a supplementary lesson’s classroom, people will definitely give me sympathetic looks. ‘Ah, …this guy isn’t just friendless. He’s dumb as well.’ I’ll really die from that.”

“That’s clearly an experience from your past life, right…?”

“It looks like you did well too, Hanamitsuji.”

“Yeah, while my grades were nice last time, I ranked top this time.”

Hanamitsuji announced her result calmly.

I’m not surprised. Attractive people with high grades are unfairness seen everywhere. I wish politicians proposed collecting taxes on good-looking people to eliminate the class difference.

After telling our scores to each other, I found out I only beat her in Japanese. In other words, Hanamitsuji has a slight lead in every other subject except Japanese.

By the way, this girl nearly aced all subjects. Isn’t she too serious?

“Hmph, hmph, you’re quite hardworking for who you are.”

“Shut up. It’s all just tiny differences.”

“That’s how I beat you in a long shot in the total score.”

“You sure pay attention to these things.”

This girl seems to be just as unwilling to lose as Shiramine. Coincidentally, I finished my cola and stood up to head to the drink bar. Hanamitsuji handed me her empty cup. “Oolong tea.”

“I told you to not make me run errands for you so naturally.”

“I beat you in the exam. Why can’t you be nice for once?”

“You’re just playing rock after I played scissors, girl.”

I still took her cup away despite the complaint. This is pathetic. I feel like I’ve been tamed already.

I got back with a cup of cola and oolong tea. Hanamitsuji suddenly spoke up.

“By the way, you’re not joining the Literature Club this time?”

“Literature Club? Ahh, I didn’t even pay them a visit this time.”

“This time? So, you’ve been there last time?”

“Yes, but those people’s hobbies aren’t my taste.”

“Isn’t it enough if you all love to write novels? It’s not that easy to meet people who write books.”

Indeed, I would love to hang out with someone who writes novels in the Literature Club.

But things aren’t that simple.

“Their wish is pure literature. I’m a light novel guy. We aren’t the same.”

Yep, I also had na├»ve thoughts like, “Let’s join the Literature Club and sing our high school life with good teachers and friends!” in my previous life.

However, after reading their club magazine, I found out it’s all difficult terms and poetry. The conversation is very abstract as well. This is just sewing random literature together, right? I feel like they were influenced by a certain Murakami-sensei. In the end, I returned the magazine without even finishing half of it.

The senpais even said, “Pure literature and poetry are the best. The entertainment-ism in light novels is too embarrassing.” I just couldn’t deal with them. Even though I read normal ones too, I love light novels as well, you know?

With this experience, I didn’t go to visit this time. I think I made the right decision.

Hmph. Hanamitsuji started mumbling while flicking the glass cup with her finger in boredom.

“Well, there’s really no one for you to talk to in school, Nanamura-kun.”

“No, no, I’ll still answer if sensei calls my name.”

“Does that count as a conversation?”

She complained dumbfoundedly. Indeed, the boundary here is pretty weird, even under biased eyes.

“Well, but Shiramine did talk to me after we got the test results.”

“Heh, Mashiro?”

Her eyes are filled with curiosity. Come to think of it, she said she was friends with Shiramine last time. It’s hard to see from her looks, but Hanamitsuji is very serious too. I feel like they match each other.

“What did you two talk about?”

This is a bit sensitive, but it should be fine since I think Hanamitsuji keeps a secret well. I told her about my conversation with Shiramine after getting our exam papers back.

“I see.” Hanamitsuji crossed her arms and nodded after hearing it.

“Mashiro is really unwilling to lose. Also, she loves meddling in other people’s business.”

“You sound like you’re insulting her.”

“These are Mashiro’s good points, okay? Even though they can be very heavy sometimes.”

Hanamitsuji put her hands on her cheeks as she took another sip of oolong tea. She seemed to have drunk a lot when talking to me. The cup only has some ice left.

“Mashiro is a good girl. She’ll probably worry that you’re lonely and come mess with you.”

“No, thanks. I’m good.”

“Hmph, but it’s about time for that.”

“That?”

“Each grade will go on a school trip in the first term. Did you forget?”

“Ah, I think we have something like that…”

Higashidani High School will decide the location of the trip by class. Everyone will be on coach buses. Although I don’t really remember, I think I’ve gone to a mountain and the outer islands in the prefecture.

“You’re in the same class as Mashiro. I guess your class is going to the islands. She said she wanted to go to the mountains in our second year.”

“You actually remember these things?”

I said that in a half-dumbfounded, half-praising tone. Hanamitsuji glared at me.

“I can remember the conversations I’ve had with my friends. It’s hard for you to understand since you have few friends, right?”

“What few? I literally have none. I don’t understand.”

“It’s fine for you to act tough, but the problem is we’re splitting into groups during the trip. If that’s the case, you’ll have a very awkward memory during that time, okay?”

“Ugh, this is actually…”

I have no issues with spending time alone during the trip. I’m already used to it.

However, my presence will definitely create an awkward atmosphere when forming groups. Even though everyone treats me as an unnecessary being, I can’t get used to that period. “Hey, someone is still not in a group yet.” This is far more tormenting than being alone.

“Sigh, you just better prepare yourself mentally to be struck down.”

“You already assumed that I’ll be extra.”

“Is there any point in being indirect to you at this point?”

Hanamitsuji shook her cup. The ice inside knocked against each other and made a clear sound. Well, not that she’s wrong, but it won’t kill you to be nicer to me, right?

*

The next weekend. I’m in downtown right now. It takes 30 minutes to get here by metro.

I’m the kind of tower defense-type lone wolf who can stay in the house for a week during the summer or winter holidays. However, sometimes, I’ll check out light novels or books in those doujin magazine stores.

The bookstores near my home do have light novels. However, I feel like I should collect those in-store BDs while I’m at it. Although a 600-yen round trip is a bit ridiculous, a high school student’s financial capabilities can barely cover it.

After exiting the station, walking on the main path, and turning a corner before strolling for a couple minutes, I’m here at the street filled with specialty stores.

Is it okay for stores this similar to be packed together? But, different shops have different BDs. Therefore, it’s a good thing these are within a buyer’s walking distance.

I’ve already pinpointed some targets before this. However, it’s kind of fun to check out the new releases on showcases. Buying a book by its attractive cover and accidentally making the right choice has happened numerous times.

“Oh, I’ve seen this before.”

I said that after seeing a familiar cover.

This light novel was released just a few days ago, but I didn’t come here after knowing it was released.

I’ve read this book in my previous life.

Indeed, I’ve already checked out a couple of light novels that will be released later. I also know what are getting anime adaptations next year. I even know a masterpiece is about to be shitted on because of prolonged delays. Although there’s a possibility that Hanamitsuji and my actions may have caused a butterfly effect, I don’t think a lot will happen in 3 years.

Should I ignore what I’ve read before and buy light novels I haven’t touched yet? But I want to see the good ones I’ve read last time.

I’m surrounded by the new releases, the old-but-gold ones, and the money in my wallet. I started surfing across the narrow paths in the bookstore.

I really love times like this. You can’t acquire the same feeling in online bookstores.

After taking a lap around the manga area and returning to the light novel zone, I saw a girl entirely unfitting to an otaku store like this.

It’s not weird to have girls here. Even though customers vary by store, all shops are guaranteed to visit girls. It’s just that this girl looks a bit too apparent.

Bright blonde hair, khaki peaked cap, the exposed skin on her off-the-shoulder knitwear looks very charming. She’s in a high waist skirt with bumpy heeled boots.

She’s clearly an unusual presence compared to the surrounding atmosphere. Not to mention the fact this person is picking up light novels like a psychopath. A gal staring intensely at the light novel bookshelf, this is so peculiar that it’s terrifying.

I can’t do what I want if this continues. I already subconsciously keep my distance whenever a girl is present. It’s because other people may think I’m a chikan.

I sighed inside my heart and glanced at the girl’s hands. Brillant. She’s holding a bunch of rom-com light novels and manga.

I feel like our interests are super similar, yo! I can’t help but get excited.

But hold on. Even though our tastes in light novels are similar, she’s an extroverted girl. There’s no way we can talk even if we have common ground.

For now, I should just shake hands with her mentally and go to another area.

Just as I thought about that, the girl turned to me. I quickly tried to look away, but she had already spoken before I could.

“Shit…”

The voice is full of disgust. Although I think saying “shit” after seeing someone is really mean, I don’t blame her. Even I’ll be scared if a stranger otaku is glaring at me.

I considered pretending not knowing anything to get out of here. At this point, she walked toward me.

The path is already pretty narrow. So, it feels like she’s forcing me into a corner.

“Hey, get your ass here.”

The girl said that in a very deep and vicious tone. Eh, is this the prelude of blackmail? Don’t tell me her scary blonde boyfriend with earpieces is just around the corner? What did I do wrong? Ah, I should’ve just stayed home. Online shopping is the best. I regret it.

My mind immediately started simulating blackmailing scenes.”Hey, brat, hand me your money. Do you know what pension is? Pension.” “Jump up and down twice for me.” Am I going to get all of my money taken away? At least let me keep my IC card.

The girl is exerting immense pressure in silence. I’m in a standoff with her on the path without anyone.

However, I’m still too afraid to raise my head and look at her.



“You got something to say?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. …Did you get the wrong person?”

After I tried to fake it through with incoherent words, she smacked her tongue. “Tck.” I’m going to piss myself.

“Nanamura, weren’t you just staring at me?”

“Uh, no, instead of saying I was staring at me, it’s you who coincidentally entered my view. I’m really not having any weird thoughts. Forgive me, really. I really need my money to go home, please. …Eh? Did you just say my name…?”

Slow down. Why does this person know my name? Do blackmailers look up their prey’s address, name, and phone number before striking now? No, that’s impossible, right?

I raised my head in fear. Then, I couldn’t move my eyes away from her face under the peaked cap.

Well, I think I’ve seen her before…?

“Ah, Hoshigasaki.”

“What are you ‘ah’-ing about? Don’t ‘ah’ me.”

Her lips curled downward. This person is undoubtedly my classmate Hoshigasaki.

Her hairstyle is different than that in school. She didn’t put on a lot of make-up either. But, if you listen closely, it’s indeed her voice.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t realize? Ah, sheesh, I shouldn’t have called you…”

“No, no, wait, wait. Why are you here?”

Hoshigasaki smacked her tongue again, this time awkwardly. Whether it’s Sakado or her, aren’t these two smacking their tongues too often? Is this a trend now? Well, but it’s not as menacing as before.

“I can’t come here? Aren’t you here too?”

“You can tell that I come here from my looks alone. It’s fine for me. Don’t tell me you’re into hobbies like this too?”

I pointed at the school rom-com light novel in Hoshigasaki’s hands.

“Shut up. It’s none of your business.”

“I remember you saying ‘disgusting’ when I was reading light novels in school.”

“Y-You can’t blame me! I was just curious to see what you were reading! S-So, t-that’s why I felt like I needed to say something.”

Hoshigasaki answered a bit embarrassedly.

No, I mean, I can understand how she felt, but out of all of the options, why did she choose ‘disgusting’ as the answer? Other people would’ve been hurt. No, even though I was hurt as well.

“Well, yeah, your little group doesn’t feel like they read light novels.”

In the end, I feel like no one in our high school loves light novels. The Literature Club is like that. Although there are otakus in the class, they aren’t interested in light novels.

Hoshigasaki sighed deeply. She told me to come here with her finger. I won’t get punched, right? However, I still raise my awareness to the maximum if I have to dodge to the side.

“What?”

“Nanamura, you should understand, right?”

“No, say it clearly.”

“Ugh, …then listen, alright? Don’t tell this to anyone. Got it?”

“Do you think I have someone I can tell this to?”

I answered jokingly. Hoshigasaki then dropped her shoulders with a very dissatisfied expression.

“Sigh, …I’m so unlucky today.”

“Hey, that’s my line.”

“What are you talking about, you idiot? Talking to a beautiful girl in her casual clothes during the weekend is literally the plot of a rom-com MC. Be more excited.”

“What the hell are you talking about!? From my perspective, I’m being messed by a rude gal classmate on a rare weekend. I’m literally the MC of an unfortunate-themed light novel, alright?”

“Nanamura, you don’t have the MC’s face.”

Hoshigasaki said something really mean. Didn’t you just say I’m literally a rom-com MC!? Did you forget that already?

“Anyway, keep this a secret. See you.”

Hoshigasaki turned around as she prepared to leave. I spoke up.

“Hey, you forgot your books.”

The light novel and manga Hoshigasaki just took are still on the shelf.

“Ah.”

“I can put it back if you aren’t buying.”

After my wise reminder, Hoshigasaki mumbled.

“No, …I’m buying it.”

“I see.”

“Nanamura, I’ll really punch you flying if you dare to speak to me in school.”

“Alright, alright.”

Hoshigasaki went to the cashier after leaving a dangerous declaration. Peace has returned. I went back to choose my light novels as well. Right, it has to be quiet when I’m picking my favorite ones.

I remembered what Hoshigasaki had bought. Hmm, those are nice books. I feel like our interests are similar. I really want to tell her, “This novel will have a long series.” However, it’s not my fault that she doesn’t want to talk to me. The light novel I brought to the cashier must be the same type as Hoshigasaki’s. Well, even though we didn’t get the exact same ones.

I walked out of the automatic doors after checking out. Even though it’s only early summer, I’m already surrounded by an intense heat that makes me sweat. I can’t imagine how bad it’ll get in summer a few months later.

But, by the way, it’s surprising to know that Hoshigasaki loves light novels. This has never happened in my previous high school life.

If this is the same as last time, perhaps Hoshigasaki and I can become friends who discuss light novels together? Nah, that’s impossible.

Hoshigasaki must be keeping her love for light novels a secret in class, right? There’s no way she went out of her way to talk to me.

Suddenly, a strange feeling emerged from my heart.

“Hmm?”

In my previous high school life, I was in the same class as Hoshigasaki for the entire 12 months of year 1. Like her appearance, Hoshigasaki is a very charming person in the class. Although there wasn’t any direct contact between us, it’s not strange for me to at least leave a “charming gal” impression.

However, aside from vaguely remembering her face, I almost have no memory of Hoshigasaki.

…Why is that?

*

“Hey, do you remember a girl named Hoshigasaki?”

The next Monday. I asked Hanamitsuji in the family restaurant. We’re still staying here despite just ordering drink bar services. Not many people are around here, anyway. Please understand.

Hanamitsuji took a sip of her tropical iced tea. She tilted her head. “Hmm?”

“Hoshigasaki…? That’s a weird name.”

“Isn’t Hanamitsuji a weird name too? You aren’t a light novel character, right? …Anyway, the main point is Hoshigasaki. She’s a blonde gal with fabulous make-up. Her appearance is very apparent in our high school. Do you remember anything?”

“Not sure. I don’t remember.”

“I see.”

Hanamitsuji gave me a puzzled look as I crossed my arms and thought about this.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing.”

“You like her?”

“That’s impossible. This person said she would punch me flying in front of me.”

“What’s up with that?”

I want to know too. Anyway, I love girls who are elegant and quiet. FMCs who sometimes show their soft side or open up to the MC really fascinate me. Well, even though I don’t hate tsundere as well.

“This is strange. Things would be fine if I don’t remember Hoshigasaki.”

“That’s not what you should say to your one-year classmate, right?”

“Shut up.”

I don’t care now because I’m a lone wolf. However, I was pretty young in year 1 last time.

At that time, I would stand up, leave, and kill time in the toilets of the Special Building during breaks.

The same went for lunch. Even though I wouldn’t eat in the toilet, I always went to empty stairs or classrooms with my bread and juice from the vending machine. This feels like I’m a light novel MC, even though the heroine is nowhere to be found.

That’s why I have very few memories of year 1. Unfortunate events like this should be completely eradicated, yet I remember this clearly. Why?

“The most important thing is Hoshigasaki now. You know a lot of people. You should’ve at least heard of them if there were charming people in other classes, right? Hoshigasaki has such an outstanding appearance, yet you know nothing about her. Isn’t this weird?”

“Indeed, I understand what you’re trying to say…”

Hanamitsuji fell into silence as well. Both of us let time pass without speaking a single word.

Honestly, only one image comes into my mind about Hoshigasaki.

She sat on the chair alone in the empty classroom. I could only see her back.

As for when it was and why weren’t her friends around, I can’t remember any of these details. I also don’t know why do I remember this scene.

That scene looks straight out of a dating sim, after all. Perhaps my brain just made it up for me. I can’t help but shiver after thinking about this possibility. Filling my youth with made-up memories is the extreme. Someone save me.

The second hand of the clock made 2 turns. I took the cup and stood up.

“Whatever, perhaps there aren’t any special reasons. Sorry, I asked something weird.”

“Well, then I want unsweetened soda water.”

“Haven’t you thought of refilling drinks yourself? Are you a noble from somewhere? Don’t tell me I’ll die if I dare to complain about a big shot like you?”

I reluctantly took the two cups and walked to the drink bar.

I pressed the cola button and released it around half full. The bubbles will spill out if I fill it at once.

Just as I’m staring at the sinking bubbles-

The forgotten memories from my last time were suddenly recovered.

That was 3 years ago, a blurry memory from my first year 1.

“I see…”

I snapped out of it when I mumbled subconsciously. I filled the remaining cola. Although I wish this is only a worrying hypothesis, the memory fragments are piecing together to form a clearer image.

I see. If that’s the case, Hanamitsuji and I will literally never remember Hoshigasaki.

If this memory is true, the events that happened in the past will be carried out as well.

The future where Hoshigasaki and I can talk about light novels can never happen.

*

It’s the second day. The class is about to start. I still have no one to talk to in this noisy classroom. So, I’m looking at Sakado, who’s being very lively in the back.

Please don’t say things like, “Dog, I don’t know you’re looking at girls instead of light novels.” I have a very noble reason.

Sakado’s group remains the same. They are chatting and laughing. While it’s not as great as Hoshigasaki’s group, they are on the extrovert end of the spectrum. From what I can remember, their distance with the sports clubs guys changes from time to time. To put it simply, they are the B-tier group in the class.

They always shoot videos with their phones during breaks. It’s annoying as hell. I’ll freak out if I’m included in it, okay? Don’t do that. What if someone replies, “The guy behind looks disgusting, lol.” after uploading it to SNS? I’ll cry.

After that, Sakado suddenly turned around. Our eyes met.

Shit, crap. Was I staring too much? I wanted to look away, but it was too late since our eyes had met already.

After a while, Sakado said something to her friends with a super upset expression. Then, she walked toward me with a displeased aura. Jesus, are you a Pokemon trainer?

But it’s fine. I have something to ask her, anyway.

Sakado is standing next to the table. She’s not attempting to conceal her displeased expression. She spoke in a quiet voice.

“Why do you keep staring at me? It’s disgusting. Can you stop doing that?”

What, I can’t even look at people now? Am I Medusa? I held the urge to retort.

At least not until I ask the question I want to be answered.

“It’s nothing. I just want to ask you something. Can I?”

“Ha? What?”

“Sakado, are you on good terms with Hoshigasaki?”

She didn’t answer right away. However, for a moment, she frowned intensely.

Alright, good, I already understand now. You don’t have to say anything. Their relationship is definitely not good. I can already imagine her smacking her tongue.

“…It’s normal.”

Sakado’s expression turned neutral again as she mumbled.

“Really?”

“You’re annoying. Didn’t I say it’s normal? You got a problem?”

“Nope.”

I see. She won’t tell me the truth because I’m unfamiliar to her. Hoshigasaki’s “friend power” seems to be stronger than Sakado’s. It must be hard for her to say certain things, right?

After figuring out Sakado’s attitude to Hoshigasaki, I have no more reason to talk to her.

Well, not until I made a comeback at her for calling me disgusting.

“Also, does your so-called normal apply to relationships like you and me?”

“Ha?”

“There are a lot of types of normals too. Normal love, normal hate, etc.”

“What are you even talking about? You’re just normally disgusting. Stop staring at me.”

Right, I’m normally disgusting? Sakado mumbled non-stop before leaving. “What did you two talk about?” Her friends asked. “I have no idea. It’s so disgusting that I’m about to die.” She answered.

Isn’t my frequency of being told disgusting these two days a bit too high? I feel like I’m in a store with that kind of service. People with fetishes like this must be willing to pay to be scolded.

Regrettably, I don’t have such hobbies. …No, wait, what’s there to regret about?

Anyway, from what I’ve heard, I think the relationship between Sakado and Hoshigasaki must be terrible. I didn’t ask Hoshigasaki yet, so it’s also possible Sakado’s hate is unilateral.

Looking at the front of the classroom, Hoshigasaki is still chatting with her friends happily. She seems to be watching a video on her phone.

Suddenly, the weekend’s encounter with Hoshigasaki appeared in my head.

Although she said she would punch me flying if I dared to talk to her in school, for some reason, I feel like her impression then was more gentle than that in school. That place is kind of special, after all. Is it because I got her when I knew her hobby?

From Hoshigasaki’s book selection, I can tell that our interests are the same.

If the gears of fate make a shift, perhaps there’s a future where we can talk about light novels together.

However, if what happened in the previous high school life will occur here, Hoshigasaki is about to disappear very soon.

I can’t imagine how I will feel at that moment.

The premise of leaving someone is that we must encounter each other first.

Hoshigasaki and I are nowhere close enough for me to leave her.

*

<5/F Corridor, Special Building. Can you come here right now?>

<I’m busy reading light novels.>

<That normally means you’re free, right?>

<My talents cannot be classified as normal.>

<Stop fooling around.>

<Something happened?>

<I want to talk about Hoshigasaki-san.>

*

Hanamitsuji told me to go to the Special Building on Line during lunch. She’s waiting there with her arms crossed. Why does she always act so chicly every time I see her? Are you the heir of our modern society?

“It’s about what happened to Hoshigasaki-san. We talked about it in the family restaurant.”

“What, did you remember what happened in your last high school life?”

“No, I have no memory of the last name Hoshigasaki. However, I remembered something concerning.”

Hanamitsuji lowered her head a bit. Her expression is grim. I understood. Ah, she must have gotten the same answer as I did.

I didn’t urge her to continue. She impatiently slammed the ground with her heels.

“I’ve heard that some students refused to go to school just before year 1’s summer holiday.”

“…Sigh, the world changes non-stop, after all.”

“And, it’s also two people.”

I fell silent. Hanamitsuji suddenly got close to me with stern eyes.

“Although the memory is hazy, those two students must be in Class A. One of them is Hoshigasaki-san, right?”

At this point, I can’t derail the conversation anymore.”

“Indeed, if Hoshigasaki refused to go to school, it’s reasonable for us to have no memory of her.”

“What about the other person?”

“It’s a girl named Sakado.”

“Is she Hoshigasaki-san’s friend?”

“No, their relationship isn’t good, from what I observed. It’s also very hard to conclude that they just stopped coming to school coincidentally. Something must have happened…”

Hanamitsuji pondered about my words for a moment. Then, she threw it a tentative question.

“Did you remember the cause?”

“I can’t. I was already a lone wolf at that point. You wouldn’t find me in the classroom during breaks or lunch. There’s no way for me to know what happened in the classroom. Naturally, I didn’t receive any information because I didn’t talk to anyone.”

“You’re useless.”

“Shut up.”

We remained silent upon the end of the conversation. We don’t know how we should treat this unsolvable problem.

“…Can’t we do something?”

“Calm down. In the end, there’s no guarantee that the same thing will happen again. At this point, Hoshigasaki and Sakado still aren’t showing any symptoms of not coming to school.”

“M-Maybe you’re right.”

Hanamitsuji still looked unconvinced. However, there’s no point in worrying about a problem that may or may not happen.

Moreover, it’s not just Sakado. I have no business with what will happen to Hoshigasaki. We aren’t friends. We don’t even talk to each other.

However, perhaps it counts as a conversation for a lone wolf. She told me, “I’ll punch you flying if you dare to talk to me in school.”, after all. It’s more like she should have never talked to me.

“What will Nanamura-kun do if something happens?”

“What do you mean by what will I do? No, what can I do? I’m just a lone wolf.”

“Perhaps you can make friends with Hoshigasaki-san and Sakado-san if you help them. Isn’t this nice? You can stop being lonely.”

“Why would it go so smoothly?”

“I was just joking. Forget it.”

She sighed. Her face is clearly sullen.

“I don’t know much about Hoshigasaki-san and Sakado-san. …But, even so, I don’t think it’s fine for them to not come to school.”

I always forget it because of how rude she is to me. Hanamitsuji is a kind girl. She has so many friends, after all.

Why is Hanamitsuji bothered about this? You don’t even know Hoshigasaki and Sakado. She won’t listen even if I tell her, right? I thought about whether I messed up when I discussed this with her.

“Sigh, we’re still in the same class. I will keep an eye on them for now. You can just wait.”

“…I can’t drop my worries.”

I ignored Hanamitsuji, dropped a “see you later”, and left.

Sheesh, I hope she stops underestimating me. Do you know I am? I’m a man who’s too reliable that I was responsible for cutting the colored papers for the student council’s board in elementary school. “You’re just trying to beautify the fact you don’t want her to bother you anymore.” Naturally, complaints like this must be ignored determinedly.

*

After going back to the classroom, my eyes subconsciously searched for Hoshigasaki and Sakado.

Hoshigasaki’s group isn’t in the classroom. It’s lunch right now. They must be at the vending machine buying juice, right? Sakado’s group is chatting happily behind the classroom as usual.

Even though I said leave it to me, I have no plan in mind. Although I came from the future, my special power is just being cheeky. This ability has no use aside from letting me read light novels publicly in the classroom.

This is an in-class problem. Should I give a heads-up to the class president Shiramine? …I looked around the classroom, but I couldn’t find her. Sigh, even though I don’t think she’ll believe me. Shiramine must feel like she’s in an awkward position.

At this point, I’m out of ideas. It’s more it was over before it even began. There’s nothing I can do.

It can’t be helped. Let’s just stick to the plan and read light novels. No, I mean, I want to solve this properly, but there’s nothing I can do. How regrettable.

Then, just as I’m about to pull out the light novels from my desk-

I can hear a huge bumping voice, followed by something falling onto the ground.

“Ouch.”

I couldn’t help but turn around. Sakado is covering her leg while squatting down next to the table. It seems that she hit the chair while playing.

“Hina, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m about to die.”

“So you’re fine?”

“That scared me.”

“Crap, things fell out.”

It seems that the schoolbag was dragged down along the chair. Textbooks and notebooks are all over the ground.

Uwah, Sakado said that as she bent down. Her friends also helped her to pick the stuff back up.

By the way, that’s Hoshigasaki’s seat, right? I looked around the classroom as I thought about that. Hoshigasaki isn’t back yet. I guess Sakado is lucky.

Sheesh, you girls made so much noise and freaked me out. As I was about to turn back, Sakado let out a weird noise.

“Hmm? Hey, look at this, girls.”

“What? …Uwah, what is this? That’s hilarious.”

“Seriously? Did this fall out from the school bag?”

“Shit, that’s scary.”

Is it hilarious or scary? Make up your damn mind. I looked at Sakado’s hands while thinking about that.

Sakado seems to be holding a book. That alone is fine. However, the charming illustration on the cover came into view. I held my breath.

It’s a light novel.

Even though it’s far away, that should be the book she bought when we met. It’s a sweet school rom-com. I remembered having a good time reading it in my previous life.

What? Why the hell is that girl bringing light novels to school despite hiding the fact that she loves them? Is she an idiot? What, don’t tell me she wants to enjoy the excitement of bringing something dangerous to school? That’s impossible, right?

Just as my mind is falling into chaos, Sakado starts to flip open the book. She’s laughing at the illustrated scenes.

Of course, Sakado’s group noticed who’s the owner.

I have a bad feeling.

“This is indeed Hoshigasaki-san’s, right?”

It fell out from her bag, after all. It must be.”

“Uwah, that’s scary.”

“Reading these things with that look? That’s BS.”

Sakado and the girls started chuckling. They forgot to pick up the stuff on the ground. Other people in the classroom don’t know how they should react.

Clack, the classroom’s door is opened.

The entire classroom’s eyes are focused on Hoshigasaki’s group.

“What’s wrong, everyone?”

The leading girl looked around the classroom puzzledly. Her eyes fixed on Sakado’s group. Sakado is chuckling as she whispers something to her friends.

Then, finally, Hoshigasaki saw her dropped school bag.

“Hey, that’s my school bag.”

“Ah-, sorry-, Hoshigasaki-san-, I tripped over the chair accidentally-“

Sakado dragged every word in her sentence. When Hoshigasaki took a couple steps toward her, she suddenly raised the light novel she had been holding behind her.

“Ah…”

Hoshigasaki stopped after seeing that. This reaction seemed to have greatly pleased Sakado. She chuckled.

“We found this when we were picking up the stuff-, what is this?”

“It’s hilarious, right?”

“Isn’t this a light novel?”

“Hoshigasaki-san, you’re a super otaku-“

Sakado and her friends didn’t attempt to contain their teases and mockery. Hoshigasaki’s eyes wobbled in confusion.
“This, …it’s not.”

The sentence she squeezed out was too powerless. It further reinforced the predator-prey relationship for Sakado’s group.

“Ah-? What no-? This is Hoshigasaki-san’s, right-?”

“You actually like these things. Interesting-. That must be what they call contrast, right-?”

“The princess of otakus!”

Sakado’s group is so rude that even a bystander like me gets agitated.

I’m not planning to intervene in the conflict between Sakado and Hoshigasaki. However, I don’t feel good when someone’s being so explicitly despised. It’s like the enjoyment of ramen is lost when the boss is scolding the staff in the ramen shop. I literally have no mood to read light novels right now. Also, light novels being despised is like a personal attack on me.

Hoshigasaki still struggled to come up with words. She can only muster vague words like, “No…” and “That’s why I said.”

Are you this bad at talking? You can’t show your weakness here. Right now, you should be mad at them or pressuring them with your aura. How long have you been an extrovert?

Also, why aren’t Hoshigasaki’s friends saying anything?

Looking at them, every one of them kept their distance to Hoshigasaki. They are just spectating this argument. Even the center girl is just crossing her arms lazily.

Right, even though they are in the same group, they have only known each other for one and a half months. The friendship isn’t deep. Their reaction is to observe in silence upon the first sign of trouble. I’m afraid it’s normal to make such a decision.

The atmosphere in the classroom is stiff. Nearly everyone is looking at Hoshigasaki and Sakado.

“Hoshigasaki-san, can you read this out?”

“Eh…?”

“Read aloud! You’re already a seiyuu, right!?”

“Oh-, this is nice- can I record this?”

Everything suddenly connected when I saw Sakado’s group being all excited.

I see. The calm part in my brain finally understood.

This is probably why Hoshigasaki stopped coming to school.

Or at least something similar happened.

Her otaku-ness got exposed. Her friends distanced themselves from her, losing her place in class. I’m afraid her dumb mouth can’t brush it off with a laugh, right? Hoshigasaki isn’t a person who can turn stepping on dog shit into a joke.

Of course, what happened in my previous high school life may not be exactly the same this time. However, if Hoshigasaki’s oversight and Sakado’s personality don’t change, things like this will happen sooner or later. Sakado can spill everything in the school bag out to vent her anger.

I remembered a scene I saw in my last high school life.

Inside the empty classroom filled with afternoon sunshine, Hoshigasaki sits there alone.

Her back looks really lonely.

I remembered it now. That was exactly in May, right here, right now. It happened on a lunch break just before changing classrooms for the lessons. No one came to wake me up after I accidentally fell asleep during the last lesson. I was already left alone in the classroom after snapping out of it. It was with Hoshigasaki as well. She was sitting on the chair with her head plopped down.

Hoshigasaki remained in her seat when I hastily packed my things to leave.

To that girl, I left without saying anything. There was no reason for me to talk to her.

That was the last time I saw Hoshigasaki in my previous life. I think Sakado stopped coming to school soon after.

3 years ago, I didn’t understand why Hoshigasaki and Sakado stopped coming to school. Perhaps I still noticed that Hoshigasaki was being isolated. However, after a while, I forgot why Sakado and her stopped appearing in school.

You may say I’m cold-hearted, but lone wolves don’t have connections with others. It’s hard to create sympathy.

Unsettling sweat filled my back and palm.

Don’t tell me- this is the moment that decides Hoshigasaki’s life?

Should I stop Sakado?

No, I can’t change anything even if I speak up.

At the end, who will listen to a lone wolf’s “don’t do that”? Even though it’s relaxing to live alone, I sacrificed my right to speak. Moreover, this incident can end in peace too. Hoshigasaki can probably return to her normal life.

As I continued to search for excuses in my head, Sakado’s group continued to taunt Hoshigasaki cheerfully.

“Hey-, we won’t understand if you don’t say anything-“

“Hoshigasaki-san is ignoring us-? You’re mean-“

“…Well, that’s-“

Hoshigasaki went as silent as a shell. Her shoulders are shivering.

Hoshigasaki’s blushing cheeks in the anime store came into my mind. Hanamitsuji’s “I don’t think it’s fine for me if they stop coming to school.” followed as well.

Ah, shit, why am I thinking about these things now?

Those images looped around my mind. I still don’t believe there’s anything I can do to change the outcome.

However, I don’t want to just be a silent bystander. The worst thing I can do is talk shit about what she could’ve done after the tragedy.

“I can’t do anything.” I can just sink into my self-commiseration.

A lone wolf who can’t construct interpersonal relationships always has themselves at the center. There’s no need to worry about other relationships. My feelings always take first priority. That’s why the only person who I can’t forgive is myself. It’s because a lone wolf is just…me.

I finally made up my mind after piecing together all of the excuses.

I’m definitely not doing this for Hoshigasaki’s sake. It’s just for pure self-satisfaction.

After taking a deep breath, I abruptly stood up. The back of my seat hit the table behind me.

Bam!

It made a huge noise. It’s even more apparent since the classroom is quiet except for Sakado’s group.

Everyone’s eyes focused on me. My kneecaps accidentally hit the bottom of the desk. It hurts so much. But now’s not the time for that.

Sakado and everyone else is frozen. Now’s the only chance.

“A-Ah! That novel- is mine!”

I used the wrong volume, and I was literally half screaming. I even accidentally pointed at Sakado in the heat. It’s almost like I’m in a shitty drama during the cultural festival.

The whole classroom fell into silence.

“Ha?”

Sakado replied dazedly. Hoshigasaki dropped her jaw behind.

“That light novel is mine!”

I screamed again. “Why the hell did I say that again? Also, why is my voice so loud?” The logical part of my brain complained about my lines, but I should ignore it for now.

Anyway, the whole classroom’s eyes are fixed on me now. Hoshigasaki and Sakado don’t know what to do. It’s still my turn.

I can’t bail out now. I have to unleash a combo without hesitation.

“T-This is, …well, Hoshigasaki said I was disgusting when I was reading light novels! Then, I felt bad for this poor soul who doesn’t even know what a light novel is. That’s why I shoved my recommendation into her school bag secretly! Hohahahaha! This is all part of my plan to let Hoshigasaki appreciate the greatness of light novels!”

My tone turned into a weird explanation vibe since I made that all up in an instant. Is this because of my habit of writing light novels? No, that’s impossible, right? Apologize to all of the novelists right now.

Sakado showed me a twisted expression and mumbled.

“Uh, N-Na, …uh, hey, are you serious?”

This woman doesn’t even remember my name and calls me “you” instead. …Whatever.

“Of course, I am, alright? I can tell you the plot of that light novel too. If you allow spoilers, I’ll say what happened in the finale as well.”

All of this is true. Well, even though I read it in my last high school life.

I don’t know whether it’s working because I’m saying this so blatantly. Sakado’s confidence seems to be shaking as well. She used a slightly awkward expression and looked at me, Hoshigasaki, and the light novel in her hands.

“Uh, Hoshigasaki-san, is he f-for real?”

“Hohoho, Hoshigasaki! How dare you mock light novels? Go read it to learn what light novels are!”

I yelled before Hoshigasaki could make a weird answer. Sakado gave me a super disgusted expression, but I ignored it.

“Play along.” I conveyed with my eyes. Hoshigasaki is looking at me worriedly.

Hey, why do you look like you’re about to cry? I’m the one who’s supposed to cry! Seriously, what did I even say while crossing my arms? Someone come save me!

“…Yeah, that’s not mine.”

Hoshigasaki mumbled, and the mood calmed down. What, it’s just a misunderstanding? That’s what the atmosphere feels like.

“Oh, I see.”

Sakado looked between Hoshigasaki and me a couple times as well. She said that dazedly. Anyway, it seems that the worst scenario is avoided.

Congrats. Eh, isn’t this epilogue more perfect than I’ve expected? Don’t tell me I should form a club to deal with everyone’s problems?

I thought about that.

“Disgusting…”

Hoshigasaki’s friends are genuinely terrified. They mumbled. It seems that they aren’t planning to remain silent anymore.

“Ruri, are you okay?”

“Y-Yeah…”

“Ignore that guy. I’ll punch him flying if he dares to approach you.”

Eh? Why am I the one getting punched? But it makes sense when I think about it.

A guy who shoves light novels into a girl’s schoolbag is clearly a dangerous person.

I feel like those guys deserve to be sent flying. By the way, Hoshigasaki’s group surely loves punching boys. Are you guys the martial arts faction?

“Uh, ahaha. Hoshigasaki-san, I’m really sorry about that, okay?”

“It’s fine as long as you understand…”

In the blink of an eye, Sakado apologized to Hoshigasaki. Although she’s a bit arrogant, she’s surprisingly honest about these things.

“How should I put it? I just felt it would be funny. …Hiya, I went over the line. …Sorry. Come to think of it, why would you read things like this? Ahaha, you should’ve said earlier- I nearly misunderstood, right-“

Even though she pretended that it was a joke, Sakado’s tone was pretty stiff. Her expression is very dark as well.

I understood after seeing that expression. I see. This is why Sakado stopped coming to school.

Anyway, Hoshigasaki and Sakado’s problem is solved. While that’s a good thing…

“Isn’t that guy a bit dangerous?”

“I feel bad for Hoshigasaki-san.”

“Is this a crime?”

Everyone in the class started pointing fingers at me! Also, it’s not even like they are scolding me directly. They are just whispering far away.

T-This is a critical hit…

“Jesus, that’s some BS.”

“An otaku who can’t draw the line is scary…”

Tashiro’s otaku group also started whispering. Screw you. You guys are only acting normal in times like this! No, they have friends to cooperate with. Perhaps they are indeed normal people when compared to me. It’s also because I’m way too unusual.

The bell rang just in time. Everyone started going back to their seats.

Sakado handed me the light novel with a terrified expression. I can feel that she doesn’t want to spend another second with a super dangerous person.

I searched for Hoshigasaki. She returned to her seat under her friends’ impregnable defense. You girls are close.

I can return the novel back to her later.

Anyway, it was a long day. …Let’s just go back and sleep.

*

“I heard something interesting when I was going back today.”

“Oh?”

There aren’t many customers in the family restaurant after school. It makes me worry about how this store is doing. I fiddled with the straw inside the glass with the tip of my finger as I awaited her next sentence.

“It seems that a Class A boy shoved a light novel into a girl’s school bag. Isn’t it scary?”

“I see. That’s indeed scary.”

“That person also seems to have stolen girls’ shoes and even invaded the girls’ toilets. He’s lawless.”

“Aren’t there too many exaggerations?”

“The girl’s name is Hoshigasaki, while the guy’s name is Nanamura. …You have an explanation?”

Hanamitsuji crossed her arms and glared at me. You’re the scary one, okay?

It’s after school. The Hoshigasaki incident just ended. I was summoned to the old family restaurant on Line. <Emergency meeting.> <I’ll be mad if you don’t explain to me properly.> She’s already mad, right?

Come to think of it, it’s Wednesday today. It’s rare for me to show up in the family restaurant outside of Monday. Well, it’s probably not that different even when the date changed.

“I have a reason. You can’t blame me.”

Of course, I don’t want to become everyone’s target as well. I just wanted to solve this issue and said whatever came into my mind. Everyone thinks I’m a super disgusting person in the end.

If I don’t know the truth, of course, I’ll be disgusted as well if a strange girl shoved light novels into my school bag as well.

No, seriously, I won’t get used by Hoshigasaki because of this misunderstanding, right? Although I’m not called to the teacher’s office or Student Guidance Room, I can’t die with my eyes closed if a guy shoving light novels into a girl’s bag becomes the hot potato of Higashidani High School.

“Sigh, I guess this has to do with Hoshigasaki-san not coming to school, right?”

“It’s a great help that you can understand so quickly.”

“But I also suspect that there’s an 80% chance that you carried out a suicidal attack because you can’t find your love.”

“You’re too good at suspecting me, right!? I’ll only cause hate if I did that!”

“Love and hate is just a thin sheet apart, after all.”

“It’s not.”

I told her about my encounter with Hoshigasaki in the otaku bookstore and the conflict between Sakado and her. Although Hoshigasaki doesn’t want others to know her love for light novels, I have no other choice now. It has an impact on my life, after all. Seriously.

Hanamitsuji isn’t a person who spreads secrets everywhere too. Even though she has a sharp tone, she’s pretty serious.

After the explanation, Hanamitsuji sighed and shrugged.

“I see. Also, can we agree that the shoe and girls’ toilet thing is true?”

“You can’t!”

Obviously, I’ve never stolen a girl’s shoes or gone to a girl’s toilet. Which asshole threw these false accusations onto me!?

“Sigh, whatever. It looks like you didn’t put it in on purpose.” [TL: Literal translation here to match what they say next.]

“I feel like your way of talking is a bit…”

“Eh?"

I thought it was a dirty joke, but Hanamitsuji froze. Did she not notice it?

However, Hanamitsuji is already a freshman mentally. It seems that she’s not totally oblivious about those things. Her face blushed harder and harder.

“I-Idiot! Pervert! Do you just have to put it in that way? Unbelievable.”

“Hey, wait, you also thought of it that way, right? We’re both guilty.”

“Sheesh, stop pissing me off.”

Hanamitsuji sighed and pointed at me.

“We’re talking about you now. Rumors that say you’re a dangerous person is already spreading to my class.”

“Yeah, I’m totally a dangerous person in other people’s eyes, after all.”

“We just passed the halfway point of the first term. You’re already making your high school life into a living hell. What are you trying to do?”

“That’s the only thing I could’ve done.”

“You’re totally an idiot, right? This is your second high school life, okay!? Shouldn’t you have a better start than last time? Why did you make it worse than your previous one? You were already a lone wolf. I can’t believe you can make the situation worse. Unreasonable.”

“I can’t retort, but can you please be more gentle? I’m really sad, you know?”

“Then you should’ve planned things ahead first…”

She took a sip of her drink dumbfoundedly. Hanamitsuji mumbled.

“If this goes on, won’t your high school life turn into a mess again?”

“None of your business. I don’t care.”

“You don’t care. I care.”

“Ha? What does that mean?”

“It’s nothing. Forget about it.”

Hanamitusji sighed deeply. Her body leaned forward onto the table. After fiddling with the call bell in her hands for a while, she seemed determined to press it.

Ding. Noise can be heard from the cashier.

“Let’s eat something today. I feel kind of sorry for just ordering drinks alone.”

“Then I should order something too.”

After looking at the menu for a while, Hanamitsuji gazed into my eyes.

“…Nanamura-kun, thank you for helping Hoshigasaki-san.”

“I just helped because I wanted. You don’t have to thank me, right?”

“I said my worries, yet I couldn’t do anything.”

“That’s normal, right? You aren’t in the same class, nor do you know Hoshigasaki. Even I almost wanted to pretend I didn’t see anything and leave. I probably won’t do the same thing again.”

“Even so, you did save Hoshigasaki-san, …just like when you saved me.”

“…So?”

“So, I’m thinking that you and I can…”

The conversation ended here. I looked at Hanamitsuji because I wondered what she wanted to say. However, I realized the waitress was walking toward here now. Shit, I need to decide my order.

I hastily looked at the menu. The waitress mumbled.

“Eh, seriously…?”

“Hmm?”

The waitress’s reaction made me raise my head.

Her blonde curly hair is tied into a ponytail. The waitress standing there with her dropped jaws is Hoshigasaki. Eh, why is she here?

“Nanamura, why are you?”

“No, that’s my question. Why are you here?”

“I-I’m working here.”

Come to think of it, I think the student handbook said we’re allowed to work as long as we requested permission. However, this is the first time I have seen someone actually working. At least I’ve never applied for a job myself. I’m a spiritual noble. I’m not fitted for labor.

Hanamitsuji also seems to have noticed the “Hoshigasaki” sign.

“Ahh, you must be Hoshigasaki-san, right?”

Hanamitsuji lamented quite deeply. Hoshigasaki is confused.

“Uh, …you must be Hanamitsuji-san from Class F, right?”

“You know me?”

“Ah, yeah. Your cuteness is famous, after all.”

Even though they are in different classes, this kind of news gets out really fast among girls. No, perhaps guys know it too. It’s just that I’ve never heard of it.

“It feels a bit embarrassing when you say that.”

As for the complimented person, she replied with an indifferent smile. The fact that she didn't deny it fits her character very well.



“But you’re really cute. …Right, well, I’m Hoshigasaki from Class A. Nice to meet you.”

Hoshigasaki quickly made a self-introduction after snapping out of it. I feel like Hoshigasaki is giving off an even warmer vibe than she was in the bookstore. It must be because she’s working now.

Looking between Hanamitsuji’s and my face, Hoshigasaki tilted her head and asked.

“Uh, are you two dating?”

“Wha…!”

“That’s impossible. You misunderstood.”

After I said that, Hanamitsuji made a weird noise and nodded like a broken robot.

“Right, why would I go out with a lone wolf like him? This is unreasonable. Hohoho, this is the first time I’ve suffered such humiliation…”

“Hey, you know you’re humiliating the person in front of you, right?”

“Ah- ahaha, it looks like you two aren’t.”

Hoshigasaki smiled bitterly. I suddenly remembered something.

“Right, Hoshigasaki. I have your book.”

“Ah, …I’m really sorry about what happened just then. That’s…all my fault.”

“Don’t worry about it. I just did it for self-satisfaction.”

“Yes, but still, thanks a lot. I really mean it.”

Hoshigasaki lowered her head. Her cheeks seem to be showing a faint color. Perhaps it’s because of the warm lighting. Sheesh, a normal high school boy must have already misunderstood this. You’re lucky that I’m a cautious lone wolf, Hoshigasaki.

Hanamitsuji watched our conversation. She slammed the menu onto the table.

“Hoshigasaki-san, when do you get off work?”

“Eh? My shift is until 7 PM today.”

“Well, we’ll wait until you’re off. You should chat with Nanamura-kun after this. I think you two have a lot to talk about. It’s not good to talk while you’re working, right?”

“Ah, well, thanks.”

“Well, I’ll give you back your book at that time.”

After that, Hanamitsuji and I ordered fries and a parfait. Hoshigasaki turned around and left.

“Sorry for making you worry.”

“It’s fine. The most awkward person is the spectator when those conversations occur.”

Hanamitsuji got a spoonful of parfait and answered calmly.

Indeed, it’s really awkward when an acquaintance is talking to a stranger right in front of you.

“But are you sure? You don’t have to wait until Hoshigasaki is done with her work, right?”

“I just feel like you two will just explain everything within 3 sentences if I leave both of you alone. In times like this, you two need to have a nice chat.”

“You should also tell Hoshigasaki-san I know what happened to her as well.” Hanamitsuji added.

Indeed, it’s a fact that I leaked Hoshigasaki’s secret out without her permission. I have to apologize to her about this.

“But, by the way, Nanamura-kun, you’re surprisingly kind for a lone wolf. You even told her ‘don’t worry about it’ just then.”

“The lone wolf comment is extra. By the way, what’s wrong with you? …Don’t tell me you forgot your wallet?”

She suddenly started praising me. I can only think that she wants to pay for her parfait.

“It’s not. I’m just thinking I didn’t know this side of you last time.”

Hanamitsuji seems to be looking into the distance. I think she’s very happy as well. I’ve heard of something similar before, but when?

“Right, I have something to ask you.”

“Yeah?”

“Hoshigasaki-san is being pushed around by Sakado-san today, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then why did Sakado-san not come to school as well?”

Ah, I see. Right, it’s impossible to deduct the reason from this incident alone.

I dipped some fries into ketchup as I answered.

“Sakado isn’t that bad of a person.”

“What does this mean?”

“Think about it. If Hoshigasaki stops coming to school a few days later because of this, what will Sakado think?”

“…Feels good because the person she hates is no longer here?”

“That will be the case if Sakado is really a bad person. However, it’s not that common for a girl to be that malicious, right?”

I remembered Sakado’s face when she was apologizing to Hoshigasaki. In that scene, instead of saying she was trying to end the chaos, it was more like I just ruined everything.

That girl was probably regretting what she did.

“Sakado probably didn’t expect things will be that bad, right? She had no idea that Hoshigasaki would stop coming to school. In the end, she imploded in her immense guilt.”

The reason why Sakado’s absence is probably due to her guilt for making Hoshigasaki disappear. It’s also possible Sakado received other people’s cold eyes after Hoshigasaki stopped coming to school. People always search for the reason whenever a tragedy happens. If Hoshigasaki went away, the next target is obviously Sakado.

Most people aren’t determined beings.

Whether it’s Hoshigasaki, Sakado, or those cheering crowds. Hell, not even me.

“I see. It’s quite complicated.”

“I feel the same. People are so troublesome. …This just reaffirms my lone wolf theory.”

Interpersonal relationships are literally a Rude Goldberg machine. It’s the same for today. My reputation plummeted after Sakado forced Hoshigasaki. Why does this happen?

“By the way, Hoshigasaki is very cute.”

“Ha? Uh, I guess.”

“Your motive for helping Hoshigasaki-san turned deeper.”

“Hey, wait. Why is my reputation dropping?”

Hoshigasaki’s outstanding appearance and my falling reputation seemed to have produced a “treasure bowl” effect. No, I didn’t earn anything. It’s all losses. [TL: It’s a feng shui decoration that gathers luck in one place.]

We killed time with chats and our phones. It’s finally 7.

More and more customers appeared in the store. It’s getting harder and harder to chill in the store with drinks alone. Hoshigasaki appeared after changing into her school uniform at the back of the kitchen.

“Sorry, I’m late.”

“It’s not even 7:10. You’re already fast enough.”

Hoshigasaki sighed in relief after I answered. Unlike the previous mood, my chest feels kind of light now.

“So, should we go somewhere else?”

“Hmm, I’m fine with here, as long as Nanamura doesn’t mind.”

“I’m okay too.”

Hanamitsuji stood up after talking to Hoshigasaki next to the table.

“Alright. Well, see you on Monday, Nanamura-kun.”

“Eh, you’re going back?”

“I’ll only disturb you two if I stay here, right? Here’s the money.”

After that, Hanamitsuji left some coins here and left.

“She’s a loose cannon.”

“I think she’s really dashing.”

Hoshigasaki mumbled. Indeed, Hanamitsuji is pretty. She keeps her words simple. She’s an energetic and spirited person. At least stronger than me.

“Right, about our conversation earlier.”

“Ah, well, yeah…”

Hoshigasaki sat in front of her. Her body shook nervously. She curled herself onto the sofa and looked at the table. Her tone is entirely different than before as well. The sudden nervousness got to me. I really want to postpone this.

“Uh, well, let’s order some drinks first. We’re sitting here, after all.”

“You’re right. Okay, I’m pressing the bell.”

“Ahh.”

The waitress quickly came. I looked at Hoshigasaki as she ordered. They talked. “Your friend from school?” “Yeah, it’s close.” I feel pretty awkward for some reason.

I just talked to Hanamitsuji. Now it’s Hoshigasaki's turn. The time I’ve spent talking to girls today already surpasses my last 3 years of high school life. I’m a bit overloaded. The going home meter is already shooting up.

After the waitress left, Hoshigasaki made up her mind and spoke up.

“Hey, I really appreciate what you did.”

“I just acted on my own. Don’t need to worry about it.”

There’s no reason for me to accept Hoshigasaki’s gratitude. I just did what I wanted to do. Moreover, I didn’t manage to help her last time.

“Even so, thank you so much.”

Hoshigasaki still lowered her head. She’s very polite for a gal. Although my first impression of her is terrible, she’s a good girl.

However, a lone wolf’s opinion of her is meaningless, right?

“But why did you help me? Honestly, I should be a pretty hated person in your eyes, right? Shouldn’t you feel good when Sakado forced me?”

You’re actually aware of that. …However, it’s difficult to answer this question. I can’t say you’ll probably stop coming to school if I left you alone, right?

“Well, I felt like I would have a bad time after waking up if I just observed. I’m a person who emphasizes sleep. We spend a third of our life sleeping, after all.”

I just randomly came up with a reason and went along with it. Of course, I wasn’t lying. I’m the kind of guy who can fall asleep right before the exam.

“Also, Sakado clearly knows that she went over the line.”

“Ahaha, even though I know she probably doesn’t like me. It’s much worse than I expected.”

“I’m glad that I’m alone after seeing that. Whether it’s you or Sakado, people who try their best to build relationships are amazing. Even though I respect you people, I will definitely never copy it. I can’t even if I wanted to.”

“You sound just as humble as you look.”

Hoshigasaki smiled gently. I was relieved after seeing her expression, but what does “I sound just as humble as I look” mean? I want to know more.

“Right, I have to apologize. It’s about Hanamitsuji, who was just here.”

“Ah, yes. Are you two really going out?”

“We aren’t! Don’t say something so scary, okay? I’m serious! …It’s actually about your love for light novels. I told Hanamitsuji about it after reasons.”

“Oh, well. It’s fine if Nanamura trusts her. Hanamitsuji-san looks like a kind person, after all.”

“You two barely know each other, right?”

“She’s super cute. I freaked out when I came close.”

I already turned numb after seeing her so frequently. Hanamitsuji is a beautiful girl. I still can’t believe this kind of people will go out of their way to care about a lone wolf like me. It looks like her mindset is very unusual.

Right, I almost forgot. I searched for Hoshigasaki’s light novel in my school bag.

“Here. It’s yours.”

“Ah, yeah. Thanks.”

“Don’t bring light novels to school if you’re trying to hide it, girl. I can’t protect you if something like this happens again.”

“You’re right. …I’ll be careful from now on.”

She should be taking care of herself better from now on, right? She took the light novel with an honest face.

“Come to think of it, Nanamura, did you read this already? That’s quick.”

Right, I think I’ve said that in the classroom. I did read it, but it was in my previous life. Honestly, I don’t even remember the details anymore.

“I guess. I think it’s okay.”

“Ahaha, what is that? This just got released. Which part do you think it’s the best? I’m just halfway through.”

Hoshigasaki laughed genuinely. After that, we talked about light novels for some time. It seems that her interest in light novels is under her brother’s influence. She used to take them from his bookshelf when she was young. Eventually, she started buying them herself.

I see. Family members with similar interests will borrow each other’s books. It saves a lot of money. Regrettably, Satsuki never buys any light novels. I’m envious.

Come to think of it, this is the first time I’ve properly discussed a light novel with someone since high school. Although I don’t really provide feedback for novels, something like this is nice once in a while.

Hoshigasaki’s schedule seems to be only on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. I always come to the family restaurant on Monday. No wonder we didn’t see her before.

We left after chatting for an hour. Hoshigasaki spoke up before leaving the family restaurant.

“Hey, tell me your Line.”

“There’s no use in adding me, right?”

“No, think about it! Like light novels, I don’t have a friend with who I can talk about it. So, I’ll be very happy if Nanamura can stay and talk to me sometimes. …Can you?”

She’ll be very happy if I stay with her. I’m a man who won’t be shaken with words like this. I won’t react foolishly to hints like this as if my time spent as a single person is equal to my age. No, even though my time spent as a single person is equal to my age. I’m referring to my mental maturity. Ah, it’s not like we can’t talk about this later. It’s perfectly fine. I’ll be looking forward to it.

“It’s fine for me.”

“Glad to hear that.”

Don’t be so happy with such a trivial matter. I’ll have those “time spent as a single person equal to my age” imagination again.

After adding me, Hoshigasaki wanted to say, “Well, see you in school.” She then shut her mouth. I realized it and spoke up nonchalantly.

“I don’t think school works. Me being your stalker is on trending right now.”

“No, I don’t think it’s that ridiculous, …right?”

“Why don’t you just be firm instead of being so not confident?”

I really appreciate you trying to smooth things over, but it’s not working.

I sighed and looked at the family restaurant we had just left.

“You can text me on Line if something happens. We can just come here again, alright?”

“Yeah, you’re right. I got it.”

It’s a promise. Hoshigasaki nodded and waved at me.

“I’m going this way. See you.”

“I see. Well, see you around.”

I got on my bike after making a simple greeting. I stepped on the foot pedal. The traffic lights quickly changed color. I subconsciously turned back.

Hoshigasaki is still gazing at me. She then quickly looked away in embarrassment.


[TL: Looking for an editor/proofreader. PM me on Discord (pingas #9654) if interested.]


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