Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Please Leave Me Alone V1 Prologue & Chapter 1

Translator: Pingas
















Spring.

This is a season where nature blooms and animals recover from their hibernation.

Everyone agrees that the school life genre tends to start in spring.

It’s hard to contain the excitement when you inhale the air filled with warmth, no matter who you are. This atmosphere really sets you to look forward to your future.

As for me, Hodaka Nanamura, I’m no exception.

Today’s the entrance ceremony of my high school. With my successful enrollment into Higashidani High School, I’m now walking on the ramp that leads down to it. The brand new uniform that I’m still getting used to fills me with joy. I can barely hold back my hope of a refreshing high school life. Honestly, I’m running out of breath.

The ramp is filled with stylish fashion stores and cafés on both sides. Although there aren’t any customers yet, I can still see several people. They look like first-year students, just like me.

“Ho, …is this the stage of my youth?”

I gently smiled.

The middle school me would’ve probably run away because of how stylish this is. However, right now, I’m already a high school student. Who cares about whether it’s a café or something? Come at me, bro. I have more pocket money now too.

I fantasized about those youthful events awaiting me in high school.

Clubs, friendships, and of course, love.

Hiya, I’m getting a headache. My future is so bright and charming that I can’t stare directly at it.

Spring is a very magical season. It makes people feel like everyone will go smoothly. The “I’m going to walk 10,000 steps every day starting from now” from Dad this morning made me think he can do it too. Well, even though he said the exact same thing half a year ago.

Ah, everything in front of my eyes is just so beautiful. The clouds floating in the blue sky, the rustling leaves on the trees next to the ramp, the sparkling dog shit under the sun are all so extravagant. …No, I don’t think dog shit counts. Yo, don’t shit on such a stylish road. Also, I can see a footprint above.

I paid a moment of silence to a certain unlucky bastard.

…Forget about dog shit. I hereby announce that my friendless and loveless days are finally over.

Spring has finally come after I painted my early puberty with grey.

It’s time.

This is just the start of my sparkling high school life!




It’s the last day of February.

The cold winter that can’t help but make people cheer on global warming is finally about to end. The erratic sunny place and the blooming trees are the preludes to spring.

I’m pushing my bicycle on the ramp from Higashidani High School to the metro station. The bike is pretty worn out after 3 years. After all this time, the uniform fits unusually well on me.

I only have one more chance to stroll on this familiar path in my uniform.

Tomorrow’s the graduation ceremony of my high school. These 3 years went by in a glimpse.

I started reminiscing those youthful days absent-mindedly.

…………

……………………

………………………………Nothing at all. It’s totally empty to the point that it scares me.

No, well, I do understand that. Yep.

In the end, I never encountered a youthful event in my high school life.

I didn’t join any clubs or the class committee. I don’t even have a friend, not to mention girlfriends. Well, even though if you want someone responsible for this to apologize, I’m probably that person.

It’s been 3 years since the day of the entrance ceremony. I remembered how much hope I had when walking on this ramp. Now I only feel agony. What stage of youth? Am I an idiot? No, well, this is me we’re talking about.

While high school debuts sound easy, you have to invest the effort to get out of your shell. Suppose the guy ranks among the top of unremarkable middle school students. How can he obtain a vibrant high school life by simply enrolling in it?

I walked along the ramp deflatedly.

Even though I really wanted to slap my bicycle flying, I decided to push it because this place is filled with people. I attempted to glare at the surrounding clothing store and cafés. However, I feel like I’ve lost already because of how stylish it is. The awkwardness I bring is too strong. Perhaps the alarm would be immediately triggered if I dared to step into those shops.

In the end, I didn’t even go to the Starbucks next to my high school once. I have more pocket money, but I didn’t have friends to go with.

The only time I’ll take a detour is when I’m buying light novels in bookstores.

Sigh, I bet my brain malfunctioned 3 years ago because of that vibrant spring mood. Well, even though many guys who feel like they are light on their heads are surrounding me right now. I bet this must be because we’re near graduation instead of spring.

Today’s the last day before the graduation ceremony, after all. Everyone around me must be a year 3 student too, right? I guess? I feel slightly less confident since I’ve never talked to them.

My ears are filled with exciting conversations like, “You guys are done with the exam too, right? Let’s go karaoke!” “Uwah, it’s already the graduation ceremony tomorrow! I don’t want to leave!”

Please, I beg you. Can you guys talk about this when I’m not here? Can’t all of you just be a little bit considerate toward a lone wolf?

People always the winter of year 3 is a season of departures. Yet, I don’t feel anything. I literally don’t have a person with a close enough relationship who makes me feel sad when they leave.

Therefore, honestly, I don’t really understand how those classmates feel when they say goodbye to their friends.

We’ve been bidding farewell in elementary and middle schools. Get used to it, guys.

You aren’t used to it. You just don’t have friends. Well, let’s leave that criticism alone first. No one can retort monologues, anyway.

Honestly, I thought about wanting those friends that complain about stupid conversations like this dumbfoundedly in light novels.

However, such convenient friends don’t exist in reality. No beautiful girls will talk to me. A gal who’s very gentle to an otaku is literally an urban legend. The only similarities between a school MC and me are just perverseness and the lone wolf attribute. I would be better off without those two.

Hmph, whatever, I’m not asking for friends right now, anyway.

Also, I’ve already understood this after 3 years.

I’m guaranteed to fail to make a friend, even if I tried.

Smiling like an idiot to match their boring conversation, contacting people you have distanced from to maintain the relationship, paying attention to mundane things to chase the trend. I can’t really do any of that. Basically, I’m just not suited to interpersonal relationships.

It’s kind of impolite for someone like this to make friends too. I don’t want people to tell me, “I’ll just fake a smile if your conversation is too boring. I won’t contact you on my own as well. I’m not even interested in your hobbies. If that’s fine with you, let’s be friends.”

So, it’s fine for me to be like this. My elementary teacher has taught me, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I exiled those people standing in the center of youth out of my view. Then, I took out my phone and opened a novel webpage.

I’m not going to lie. I’m publishing light novels online to become a novelist. When others are still living like a mess, I’m already working toward my future one step at a time. Amazing, I’m so amazing.

All of my stuff is school rom-coms. Please don’t say things like, “Why is a guy with zero relationships writing those things like he’s a god?”. “Don’t try to escape reality with novels.” It’s because all of those are correct. You hit the nail on the head.

The page view and favorites are displayed after clicking on my published work.

“Oh, I got more views, …but the favorites remain the same. Tck.”

I published 3 drafts in total. The first and the second one ended with an infinite to be continued. In other words, it’s the so-called hiatus. Obviously, hiatus should be condemned, but I have my reasons.

Too few readers.

Nearly a whole class of people read the first chapter, but only half remained in the second one. After the fifth one, the count is only a family with several siblings. Only the chosen elites can survive in the last chapter. While that feels cool, in reality, it’s probably because they were too late to jump ship.

Readers will gradually be filtered as chapters increase in published works. However, this is so much filtering that all readers have gone extinct.

At this point, I want to ask the readers who read the latest chapters, “Why are you reading this? Is this a punishment game?” No, I mean, I’m pretty happy that they are willing to read it. However, a creator’s heart is tender and easy to break.

Moreover, sometimes, even I think, “Is this just boring…?” when I’m writing. This just keeps me from updating it further. Perhaps it’s indeed not interesting. Anyway, no one cares because there are no readers. I feel like I’m about to cry.

Right now, the readers of my current novel are almost classified as a near-extinct species.

When I first started writing in year 1, I thought, “I watched a bunch of light novels too. Perhaps I can make my debut in high school!” However, recently, I already corrected the lower limit to “Please let me make my debut before I die.” It’s fine even if I have to lick the editor’s shoes, but I guess they aren’t willing to.

I sighed and raised my head.

The pedestrian green light finished shining. The traffic light turned green. It seems that the signal changed when I was looking at my phone and screaming internally.

While many people are on this road from the high school to the station, there aren’t many cars around. It would be fine if someone crossed on a red light. But, since high school is right behind me, I canceled that idea.

On the opposite of the crosswalk, I can see a group of girls laughing as they walk. Shit, am I being super in the way by standing right here? …Sigh, whatever. I’m graduating tomorrow, anyway. Perhaps people don’t even acknowledge my existence, not to mention a toll on my reputation.

Come to think of it, why do girls love standing in a row on the road? It blocks traffic, you know? Do they have those schools of fish’s habit where they make themselves look larger to ward off predators? You girls are Swimmy or something?

On this point, it’s great to be a lone wolf since I only take up a person’s space. I won’t be loud and disturb the peace too. I guess my carbon footprint is pretty low since I rarely go outside.

Society should acknowledge the perks of lone wolves. Lone wolves no.1. Glory to lone wolves.

Just as I was thinking about those things, a girl turned around and left the group.

“Sorry, I’ll go get it back right now.”

“Alright, we’ll get you a seat.”

I heard this conversation. It looks like she forgot something in school. Looking at the girl’s face, I finally realize she’s Hanamitsuji in our class. I was in the same class as her in year 2 as well. She ranks very high on the list from all of my experience- no, she is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. That’s why I can remember her.

Her slightly curled and brown short bob hair matches really well with her expression. Along with her pale skin, it really makes people wonder whether she’s a model for a magazine for high school students. It’s also amazing how much the adorable flower hairpin goes along with her.

In other words, she’s a girl with who I can never interact. It’s a waste even if she does.

Hanamitsuji is paying attention to her friends behind as she dashes toward here. I’m slightly worried about how fast she’s going. At this moment-

Even though the lights haven’t turned red, Hanamitsuji just dashed into the crossroad.

Unfortunately, a truck is coming on the opposite side.

“Hey!”

I screamed instinctively.

“Eh? …Ah.”

Hanamitsuji raised her head in confusion after hearing my yell. It takes her a second to realize a truck is heading her way.

I don’t know whether she’s freaking out to the point that her legs gave up. She stood completely still.

The side profile of Hanamitsuji remains beautiful, even when she’s in a complete pinch.

Beep! The loud horn covered the sound of my bicycle falling onto the ground.

I ran out without much hesitation.

Why am I doing this? I don’t know even if you ask me. I don’t have a good relationship with Hanamitsuji. I’m not even an MC who has a tragic past of losing his important ones in an accident.

This must be the so-called “instinct”.

There’s no important reason or inevitability. I just dashed to the crossroad, like a light novel MC. …It’s a bit awkward to say this, but I suck at sports. My running pose must look bad right now.

Luckily, I knocked Hanamitsuji away from the truck.

Although I accidentally touched a girl, this is a safe zone, right? She won’t sue me, right? I’ll cry if she does.

Well, if anything’s unfortunate, it would be that in exchange for Hanamitsuji, I’m the one standing in front of the truck now.

I can feel a terrible shockwave next to me.

I flew out. Everything is inverting at high speed, just as that thought appeared in my head.

I didn’t realize I was rolling on the ground until I hit the guardrails on the opposite side.

“Ah, …ugh, …cough.”

Even though I want to say something, nothing is coming out of my mouth. Shit, my body is feeling weird.

My body is flaring up, but I feel shivers down to my very bones.

It’s like the Ghost Festival and New Year coming simultaneously. …No, that’s definitely not true, right?

Am I not thinking properly? My mind just can’t get serious no matter what. I just feel like I’m going through a loop endlessly. My brain is filled with things like what’s Hanamitsuji’s name again, and please don’t let my family see that horrible text file on my PC.

“Hey! Are you okay!?”

I suddenly hear somebody’s scream. Then, a face full of tears blocked my view. Oh, it’s Hanamitsuji.

Great, she’s alive.

“Hey! Don’t die! Please, I beg you!”

“Ah…”

Hanamitsuji’s face is covered with tears. I should say something, but I can’t even lift a finger right now. How inconvenient.

The feeling of pain, heat, cold, and Hanamitsuji’s cries don’t feel realistic at all.

“S-Sora, I’m calling an ambulance now…”

That voice came out of nowhere. It must be one of the girls in that group.

“Please! Please! Don’t die!”

Don’t say that to me, girl. I can’t help it.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

No, you don’t have to apologize, right? I just acted on my own. Relax and chill. I’m about to be isekai’d here if this is a light novel.

The words I want to say just keep looping in my mind. I can’t make a noise.

Eventually, I couldn’t see Hanamitsuji’s face anymore. It’s dark. I’m tired.

“No! You can’t die here! Nanamura-kun!”

Oh, Hanamitsuji- actually knows my name.

With that, and after wishing for hoping for a New Game Plus, my consciousness suddenly disconnected.






I woke up.

It looks like I’m lying on a bed. My head feels unusually heavy right now. I feel like I was involved in a pretty big accident…

I moved my body, and the tip of my foot hit the wall.

“Ouch!”

This pain awoke my brain gradually.

Eh? Wait, didn’t I just get hit by a truck in front of my high school?

Goosebumps appeared all over my body after I remembered what had just happened.

I subconsciously touched my body. I don’t feel any pain, nor are my limbs missing. It’s relieving to know that for now.

But there’s no way I get out of that accident alive without a scratch, right?

However, all of my limbs are still here. …Don’t tell me that surgeon with half of his hair painted white operated on me? Or is it the person who says he has never lost?

If I’m getting isekai’d, I should be getting cheats from an adorable goddess or just an OP skill based on how I use it, right? This is a New Game Plus!

With a heart full of hope, I took off my blanket. A table, a chair, and a bookshelf appeared in front of me.

This is my room, no matter how you look at it.

I’m not in another world nor a hospital. There’s no adorable goddess or a nurse onee-san. Tck, I was looking forward to it.

“Eh…?”

I sat up in confusion. My feet moved from the bed and onto the ground. It doesn’t hurt. There’s not even a bandaid on me, not to mention bandages.

From the sunlight shining through the window, it’s in the morning now, right? Was that just a dream?

Something felt wrong after I looked around the room.

The uniform I hung on the wall is gone. There are fewer books on my shelf. Half of the light novels on the table disappeared. In comparison, there’s a nostalgic book that I read a long time ago. It’s a BS club-oriented rom-com I used to love in middle school.

But I don’t remember revisiting these things recently?

I grabbed the phone lying on the short table with my mind filled with clouds.

It’s just past 7 AM now. This isn’t a problem on its own.

However, the date is wrong.

More than a month has passed from what I remembered.

Is it a memory order caused by PTSD? I’ve seen light novels like that before.

I hastily glared at my desk and door. Suppose this is a story about memory loss. In that case, stickers saying “you have a memory disorder” and “look at the notebook on the table” should be everywhere. There’s even a scene where the MC has left tattoos on his body. Well, but I don’t think I would’ve done that no matter what. I’m afraid of pain.

I checked everywhere. No stickers.

My heart is entangled in relief and disappointment as I look at my phone again.

I realized something was wrong again after I looked at the back of my phone.

I bought this phone when I was about to go into high school. I was going to change it after graduation. Since I don’t have a case, there should be small scratches even though I treasure things. It’s been 3 years, after all.

However, the phone in my hand looks too clean for a 3-year-old product.

It’s literally like I just bought it a couple days ago.

With a mysterious expectation, I checked the date on my phone.

I already know it’s April now. The most important thing is the “year” instead of the “month”.

“…Seriously?”

The date displayed on my phone is exactly 3 years ago.

The year when I got into high school.

*

I went down to the first floor and tried to calm myself down.

Let’s think about this calmly. Going back in time is literally BS. It’s not a light novel.

However, those 3 years of high school life don’t feel like a dream.

I basically forget my dreams once I wake up. However, I clearly remember the light novels I’ve read and written. While the faces of my classmates are a little vague, that’s because I’m a lone wolf.

Also, the more serious question is that I have no memory of what happened “yesterday” in this world. This is impossible if those 3 years were just a dream.

I carefully walked around the living room and kitchen. The house is just the same as what I recalled. I can immediately tell if they have changed something. I looked at the mirror after entering the bathroom.

“Hmm, …yeah, I’m younger now.”

The face that appeared in the mirror looks like a middle schooler, no matter what. I think this is how I looked like 3 years prior.

Just as I was mumbling to myself in the bathroom, an adorable face peeked out behind the mirror.

“What’s wrong, onii-chan? You’re glaring at your face. …You know, I won’t think you’re handsome no matter how long you stare at yourself.”

“Ah, Satsuki.”

I turned around. My little sister is staring at me confusedly in her pajamas. Even though she’s insulting right in the morning, we have a good relationship.

“By the way, this…is you.”

“What? You look serious.”

Indeed, my little sister looks 3 years younger too. She’ll be in Higashitani High School too 3 years later. Right now, Satsuki still looks pretty innocent, even though she’ll feel like a JK in no time.

If I went back 3 years, this means Satsuki is in year 2 of her middle school.

By the way, unlike her onii-chan, Satsuki is adorable. Right, I didn’t know Satsuki 3 years ago still looks so small. She’s going to look gorgeous in 3 years…

“W-Wait, why are you crying!? It’s scary, you know!?”

Shit, my tears came off upon thinking of my little sister’s growth.

“Hiya, I can’t help once I think about Satsuki’s future. …Satsuki, you’ll be very pretty.”

“Can’t help what!? Are you okay, onii-chan? Do you hate the entrance ceremony this much?”

“Ha? Entrance ceremony?”

I let out an idiotic noise after hearing something unexpected. Satsuki dumbfoundedly put her hands on her waist and sighed when I still had tears around my eyes.

“Yeah! Didn’t you keep blabbing you’re getting a girlfriend in the entrance ceremony since yesterday?”

“Wait, I wasn’t that high even it was 3 years ago! Only an ass thinks he can get a girlfriend in the entrance ceremony. The best I can do is make a hundred friends or something like that, right?”

“You’re so high that your mental age turned into that of an elementary student!?”

Hiya, Satsuki’s joke is quite tormenting. Even though I feel a bit high, …it’s not that bad, right? Eh, I’m starting to lose faith in myself.

“By the way, onii-chan, what did you mean by 3 years ago?”

“Ah- no, it’s fine. I’m just a bit crazy.”

“That’s anything but fine, right!? What’s wrong with you? You suddenly cried out earlier.”

“No, I’m really okay.”

I returned to my room after comforting my scared little sister. My school bag already has the documents for the entrance ceremony. A new set of uniforms is inside the wardrobe.

From the document, the entrance ceremony is indeed today.

“…Hey, hey, wait.”

It looks like I have to start over from my high school’s entrance ceremony again. …No, wait a minute, I still haven’t accepted this mysterious prologue by any means, okay?

There are still explanations to do!

*

My parents greeted me in the living room. They just plainly blessed me. “I bet you must have noticed you traveled from a world 3 years after.” A shocking fact like this isn’t revealed.

“You know, your dad is aiming to walk 10,000 steps every day from now on.”

He said that, but he surrendered just 3 days later. You’ve said that 5 times and gone down in defeat in my 3 years of high school, okay? If we change it and say, “he attempted it 5 times”, I guess it does sound like a challenger. But, it just “sounds” like a challenger.

I restlessly changed into my uniform and ate breakfast. Then, I walked toward the high school. The parking lot is closed during the entrance ceremony. I feel quite exhausted since I’m totally used to cycling to school.

The ramp from the station to the high school is filled with first-year students. From my year 3 eyes, everyone here looks so tiny.

If I did go back in time, I must have seen the same view during the entrance ceremony.

The memories from 3 years ago are so hazy.

Just as I’m lamenting the fact I can’t get the refreshing feeling that first-years do, I saw a pile of dog shit on the roadside. It seems that an unlucky bastard stepped on it. The footprint is clearly fresh.

A moment of silence, please. Just as I’m mumbling inside my heart-

A spark of electricity ran over my brain.

“T-This is…!? Memories from 3 years ago…?”

While that line totally sounds like what an MC would say, what I remembered is about dog shit.

I remembered seeing this particular pile of dog shit on the ramp to school on the morning of the entrance ceremony too! What’s with this disgusting memory!?

If I still have memories like this, it means I really have gone back in time. …No, what the hell is this? Why am I confirming whether I went back in time with a pile of dog shit!? It should be…with other reasons, right?

No, I actually do understand, alright? It’s a classic plot to really feel “I have really gone back in time” after a small event.

But, please, anything but dog shit.

Also, this pile of dog shit caused a chain reaction in my brain (please don’t). I even remembered saying the disgusting line, “Ho, …is this the stage of my youth?” on this ramp (please don’t remember it). 

Ah, I’ve had enough. This is so dumb.

Screw that BS vibrant high school life. Why was I so excited back then?

I picked up the pace to exile this disgusting piece of memory away. The school building that already looks annoying to look at is right there.

*

The entrance ceremony ended peacefully. A whole group of people lining up and walking to their classrooms like they are in Dragon Quest.

I already knew which class I was in before the entrance ceremony started.

Before entering the classroom, I glanced at the “Class 1A” sign on the top. Come to think of it, I was in Class A during my first year. I remembered it without much fuss.

Upon entering the classroom, the classmates feel like they are pinning each other down and chatting stiffly. Right, this happens every year too. The room is filled with a weird atmosphere.

I recovered more memories upon looking around the classroom in my own seat. Right, these are the same people. I even recalled a couple of their names. Indeed, it’s very possible that I have gone back in time.

After that, it’s a pretty ordinary class assembly and self-introduction.

Self-introduction is a very important activity for my future high school life. The most excited guy, I think his name is Kuno, said, “I just stepped on dog shit! Someone, please comfort me!”

No, wait, after all the time, I only figured out one of my classmates until now? Come to think of it, I remembered something introducing himself this way before…

By the way, extroverts are amazing. They can actually turn stepping onto dog shit into comedy.

If it was me, I would’ve tried my best to hide it and wash my shoes next to the tap. However, it probably is still going to smell like shit. I can imagine people next to my shoe shelf saying, “Do you smell something?” I would probably tremble in fear.

Of course, I didn’t say, “I’m actually from the future 3 years later.” I just did a very plain self-introduction. No one would believe me even if I did bring it up.

The reason I have gone back in time and the way to return to the world 3 years later are still unknown. I have no idea what to do right now.

The best I can do is watch out for traffic accidents this time. Perhaps I should get a charm from a nearby shrine.

After releasing the notes and giving instructions, the familiar teacher dismissed the class pretty early.

Everyone in the class looks too awkward to go back right away. They started chatting with friends nearby.

Perhaps they want to obtain a like-minded friend as soon as possible to solidify their high school life.

Ah- so young, all of you are so young.

I mumbled to myself as I observed the classroom like an annoying senpai. In fact, my mental age is almost 3 years older than them.

I used to be like them in the past.

I believed a glorious future was awaiting me. I also challenged myself to make some new friends.

But all of those ended in humiliating defeats.

I more or less know how to talk to people. I don’t have a communication disorder.

However, I can’t continue the conversation.

Answering their topics, realizing what they are thinking, and showing interest in what they like. From my perspective, all of these are super annoying.

Last time, I failed to make a friend and brilliantly became a lone wolf on the morning of the Golden Week.

Initially, I tried to work my way up. Yet, I still ended up alone. I feel like this is one of the most tragic types among all the lone wolves.

Honestly, I have a lot of acquaintances whom I have talked to but haven’t interacted with in a long time.

This way, both sides feel quite awkward even when we’re talking about business. Although we haven’t contacted each other already, just a small conversation is enough to remind me of trying to make friends back in April. It’s literally a vicious spell that reminds people of memory they want to forget.

If the person also goes, “Ah, come to think of it, this guy tried to befriend me in his first year too. …But, isn’t he alone now?” Well, if that’s the case, please just murder me on the spot.

The worst part of this is that I always think, “Perhaps we can actually talk this time” when people try to strike up a conversation. Then, after it ended plainly, I’ll reflect on myself, “I should’ve said that…” It really hurts.

However, this time, I’m different.

I have already lived through my high school life once, after all.

This is a big advantage. The experience is different from when I was just a newbie.

Humans are creatures who can learn.

I have to use my previous high school life’s lessons to be successful this time.

The biggest lesson I got from my last life is-

I’m ill-suited to construct interpersonal relationships.

I end up alone no matter how much I try, anyway.

In other words, giving up on making friends is the ultimate strategy. It’s a waste of time staying in the classroom.

Hoho, perfect, literal perfection, me. Indeed, this must be my New Game Plus.

This way, I can avoid being an awkward lone wolf with many weird acquaintances. If I’m upgraded to being alone at first, I don’t have to face any of my strange expectations. What a great improvement.

This must be how it feels to be successful in a life-oriented rom-com. The sense of achievement is real here.

I left the classroom in an upstanding pose with a heart full of superiority.

A common first-year student can’t pull off something as amazing as leaving the classroom immediately after the assembly. Oh my god, I really grew overwhelmingly after going back in time.

Then, when I’m heading to the stairs, I can hear a girl’s “Wait!” from behind. Of course, she isn’t calling me, right? It’d be super embarrassing if I turned back. I won’t make a mistake like this.

Just as I felt satisfied with my logical decision, someone held my arm. What?

“Hey! Why did you ignore me?”

This voice belongs to the same person who shouted “Wait!” a moment ago.

Shit, she’s really calling me? It’s just the start of the semester. I literally know nobody. There should be no interactions between my middle school classmates and me too.

I turned around while thinking whether I dropped my keys or handkerchief on the ground. Then, a familiar girl is standing in front of me.

Pale skin, determined eyes, beautiful nose, elegant lips. An adorable flower hairpin is on her slightly curled brown short bob hair.

“I know it…”

The girl mumbled while trembling as she looked at me with teary eyes.

“…Wait, are you-“

“Don’t tell me you forgot how I looked.”

While her face still has a sense of lingering innocence of a middle school student, I believed her the moment I heard that.

“Are you Hanamitsuji?”

“Yes, Nanamura-kun. Hodaka Nanamura-kun.”

Suddenly, Hanamitsuji looked down. She’s biting her lips tightly as if she’s holding something back.

After a few seconds, Hanamitsuji finally raised her head. The corners of her eyes turned red.

“Y-You’re still alive. …It’s great to see you. I’m really glad y-you’re still here…!”

Hanamitsuji burst into tears in front of me. Right, she cried too when I got hit by the truck.



*

Perhaps it’s because I left the classroom really early. There’s no one around. Great, a first-year student who made a girl cry on the first day won’t have a good impression.

Talking in the corridor right in front of the classroom is bad. That’s why we went to the 5th floor of the Special Building. I’ve been in this school for 3 years. Of course, I know which place has the least people.

Hanamitsuji seemed to have calmed down as we walked. She started fussing over her crying after I met with her face-to-face in the corridor.

“Sorry, I freaked out too much there…”

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about that. So, Hanamitsuji, you really came from 3 years later, right?”

“Hm, yes. Nanamura-kun also has memories 3 years later too.”

Hanamitsuji, who’s 3 years younger than her image in my memory, stared straight into my eyes. She held my hand.

Ah, a girl’s fingers. Slim! Soft! Warm! Is this real?

I’ve never had an experience of touching girls. That’s why I’m trying my best to not look away.

“Thank you so much. I would’ve been dead without you.”

A tinge of warmth appeared in my heart after hearing that.

Why do I have this feeling? I thought of an answer after a moment of pause.

“I wasn’t trying to grant you a favor. It’s fine. …Indeed, this is better.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, no, it’s nothing.”

It’s not something that I have to say out loud. This is just my personal trauma.

Hanamitsuji was crying and apologizing to me after I got hit. I do understand how she feels. I’ll keep saying sorry too if our positions change.

However, compared to an apology, gratitude is much more enticing.

I finally heard something other than “sorry” from Hanamitsuji.

Hanamitsuji maintained her surprised look for a while, but she showed a gentle smile at last.

“Anyway, I’m glad that Nanamura-kun is fine. My effort isn’t wasted.”

“Ahh, …you mean you caused this situation?”

I had a slight idea when she called me. Of course, I still don’t understand how she made us go back 3 years ago.

“Well, it’s a bit of a long walk. Do you want to hear it?”

I nodded silently. Then, Hanamitsuji explained what happened after that accident.

*

Should I say I expected it? I died after the accident that day.

Hanamitsuji wanted to get her savior back.

However, I was already gone. The only thing she can do is to pray to the gods.

Hanamitsuji’s family are all priests. I think her house is a pretty big shrine.

Even though she knew she was just wasting her effort, Hanamitsuji kept praying in the shrine deep inside the protected woods.

After that, she was already lying on the bed in her room when she snapped out of it.

Finally, on our first day, she realized she went back in time to 3 years ago.

Initially, Hanamitsuji was very startled too. However, she thought I should still be alive if she returned to the entrance ceremony.

So, she immediately ran toward my classroom after the class assembly was over.

*

“I guess that’s the summary. It’s fine even if you don’t trust me. Even I’m not fully convinced yet. I just kept praying and praying at that time, but I didn’t expect this to happen. …That’s all.”

Hanamitsuji explained. Her face is still riddled with confusion.

I thought for a moment about what Hanamitsuji said. Even though there were a lot of places I would like to complain…

“A shrine maiden praying to the gods to reverse time, are we in a light novel, anime, or manga!?”

“Don’t ask me.”

“Right.”

I sighed after getting a half-hearted response. While it sounds ridiculous, I can only accept Hanamitsuji’s explanation for now. At least this feels more realistic than getting reincarnated into another world, …right? In the end, it’s not even clear how did this whole “going back 3 years” thing happened. I’m already fine with knowing the chronology of the events.

Sigh, even though there are loads of issues ahead, let’s say what I have to say first.

Staring directly at Hanamitsuji, I suppressed my overflowing embarrassment with my determination.

“Uh, well. Ah, …well, thank you.”

I put my hands aside and bowed to her deeply. It’s like when I’m receiving a graduation certificate.

“Y-You’re welcome.”

Hanamitsuji also answered with a slightly puzzled tone. She didn’t say anything else.

I raised my head. Our eyes met each other. Both of us looked away very awkwardly. I saved Hanamitsuji’s life, but Hanamitsuji also saved my life too. …This makes my heart a bit itchy.

Suddenly, I noticed something unusual?

“Why is it 3 years ago? Why not just return to a day before the accident if you don’t want me to die?”

I think Hanamitsuji wanted me to be revived. But, if that’s the case, it should be enough to just go back to a day or a week before the accident. Why the entrance ceremony 3 years ago?

“Why would I know? Go ask the gods.”

That’s a cold answer. I won’t be so troubled if I can just get the answer as simple as that.

“Hmm, …ah, right. How about you go and make us return to 3 years later?”

“Eh?”

“Think about it. Didn’t you pray in the shrine? Perhaps we’ll go back once again if we pray sincerely.”

“A-Ah, well, I guess? But, will the gods really keep making your wishes come true? I don’t think they are that bored.”

“Why do you know about the gods’ schedule?”

For some reason, Hanamitsuji crossed her arms and looked away. The atmosphere turned a bit strange, but now’s not the time for that.

“Things must be hard for you if we returned to 3 years ago, right? Anyway, let’s visit your shrine first and try praying?”

“Uh, sigh, I guess that’s the only thing we can do…”

Hanamitsuji’s face looked like she didn’t want to do this. The shrine is famous, but it takes nearly an hour to get there by bicycle.

…Seriously? I didn’t expect this girl to be a wealthy lady as well.

*

I told my parents, “There’s only the entrance ceremony today. I’ll be back before noon.” It’s going to be a pain if I just went there and find an excuse later. So, Hanamitsuji and I got home first. Mom kept asking me a bunch of high school stuff after I returned. It took me a while to get her off me.

I got on a bus from the last station near my high school in the afternoon. The shrine in question is in front of me. It’s pretty huge. The wide stone stairs have a huge torii above them. I think the line during the New Year will probably go all the way to the road, right?

…I don’t feel excited at all, even though I’m going to a girl’s house. It must be because it’s a shrine.

Hanamitsuji was waiting in the station nearby. She brought me to the huge forest next to the main temple. After a couple steps on the stone slabs, I can see a lonely temple covered with moss.

“This is the one? It’s smaller than I thought.”

“I think there’s a reason, but I’m not sure either. The heir is my brother, anyway.”

We squatted down in front of the temple. It’s about as tall as my head right now.

Hanamitsuji glared at me after I stared at it for a while.

“Oi, you’re not praying? This is your idea, you know?”

“Eh? Ah, hold on. It’s bow twice, clap twice, and bow once, right? Uh, should I go wash my hands first?”

“I’ve never done that. Just close your hands like this.”

Hanamitsuji clapped her hands together as she mumbled something and closed her eyes. I thought she would mumble something, but it’s just “Namo Amitabha”.

“Hey, you’re just praying to the Buddha, right? Don’t you have something more proper?”



“I ain’t a professional. Why would I know that? I just kept praying and saying that back then. You just have to hope for it, I guess.”

Really? It’s confusing, but I guess what she said makes sense.

I also clapped my hands together and made a wish silently. Please let me return to 3 years later. It’s great if you can give me the talent for writing light novels!

*

It’s been nearly an hour since we started praying. Right now, we are sitting in front of the temple and stroking our legs.

Our legs went numb from squatting and praying all the time. Of course, we didn’t go back to 3 years later.

“Ugh, we prayed for so long. …Ouch, ouch, ouch.”

“That’s why I told you. Gods are busy too, …ugh.”

My legs’ blood circulation finally returned to normal. I stood up while trembling like a first-born deer. Even though Hanamitsuji’s kept her poker face, she eventually managed to stand up.

“But it’s not working.”

“I bet it’s just the gods wanted to do it that one time.”

After that, Hanamitsuji put her hands on the small temple and mumbled.

“Moreover, is Nanamura-kun fine with going back to 3 years later?”

“Hmm? What do you mean?”

“Uh, didn’t you get hit by a truck? If you pray to go back to 3 years later, are you sure you can return right before the accident? Aren’t you afraid of going back to when you’re about to die?”

“…………”

“…………”

“…Fine, I’ll leave matters into my own hands! Well, at this point, I’ll just be a high school student once again, …even though it’s annoying.”

Sigh, things just got more troublesome. I thought my high school life was already over the graduation ceremony ended. But, well, here I am, spending another 3 years in high school again.

“I feel bad for you. It’s like you got dragged into this with me.”

I lowered my head and said that. Hanamitsuji quickly shook her head.

“Don’t worry about it. Everyone wants to save someone who died to protect them. I don’t regret it.”

“R-Really? …Y-You’re really a kind person.”

I shouldn’t carry my bias over her just because she’s good at dealing with people. Usually, it’s not weird for an extrovert to be kind. That’s why they have a lot of friends.

“Sigh, even though that’s not the only reason.”

“Eh?”

Hanamitsuji was mumbling something, so I questioned her. She then looked away and refused to answer.

Whatever. I have more things to worry about.

“Hanamitsuji, do you the common price of giving a favor back to your savior? Can I pay you back in terms?”

“What terms? …Why would I know that? Also, we’re each other’s savior.”

Hanamitsuji pointed at herself and me dumbfoundedly. Hmm, I guess what she said makes sense.

“So, we don’t owe each other anything.”

“I see. I guess it’s a good thing for me.”

After that, Hanamitsuji seemed to have nodded in satisfaction.

“Come to think of it, this is the first time we’ve ever talked properly.”

Indeed.

It feels weird. Including my last high school life, today’s the first time I had a normal conversation with Hanamitsuji. I think it’s too much to include what we talked about after I got hit by the truck as “chatting”. I couldn’t even muster a proper sentence while Hanamitsuji was crying her eyes out.

“Let’s leave it here today. Nanamura-kun and I still have a lot of things to get used to after going back 3 years. Anyway, let’s split up.”

“Got it. You were a great help.”

Hanamitsuji showed me an attractive smile after I nodded. Don’t do that. A lone wolf’s heart can’t handle this. What if I misunderstood?

Well, let’s go back to the bus station. At that moment, Hanamitsuji took her phone out.

“Well, since we are partners who have traveled 3 years back in time, I’ll be looking forward to working with you. Let’s exchange contacts.”

“Eh? A-Ah…”

I see. Is this how normies exchange contacts? It’s kind of confusing for me since I have no experience.

After I added her on Line, I asked her a question that suddenly popped out of my mind.

“Right, I want to ask you something.”

“What?”

“Does this shrine sell charms for traffic safety?”

*

I suddenly felt exhausted upon getting home. I just lay on the bed with my uniforms on. The traffic safety charm is already in my wallet.

I’m looking at the contacts I have on my phone.

It’s hard to tell the first name and last name upon for the first time. I thought about irrelevant things like that when I stared at the name “Sora Hamamitsuji”.

*

It’s been 10 days after my second entry into high school. The days are pretty calm and boring.

Honestly, even though I was still puzzled, I quickly got along. Perhaps it’s because I’ve read several time travel light novels before. …Huh, and this is the way they applied into my real life?

Pretending I’m paying attention to the teacher, reading light novels during breaks, going home right away after school. This time, I’m not planning to make any friends. That’s why I’m alone at the start. There aren’t even assassins sent from the future due to paradoxes.

I’m not even suspected of being someone from 3 years into the future. Honestly, no one cares about me. Lone wolves are amazing, such defense.

Perhaps people may ask whether it is okay to live so boringly when you have a chance to restart from year 1.

However, please think about it.

It’s fine if I start from 1st grade, but there’s nothing much I can do when it’s just going back from year 3 to year 1.

The classic plot in time travel stories reverses time to save the FMC or the world from danger. Other than that, maybe the MC has some strong nostalgia for something.

However, for me, I don’t have the FMC’s life or the world on my shoulders. I don’t have anyone that I regret not confessing to.

In the end, I don’t really have anything I want to do after going back to year 1.

However, it makes sense to observe things from different perspectives. “Well, I should talk about this with my friends!” While I thought about that, regrettably, I don’t have any friends.

That’s why I asked my little sister Satsuki when I got back from the shrine on the day of the entrance ceremony.

“Satsuki. Suppose I came from 3 years into the future. What do you think I should do?”

“Ha? Did you finally go crazy after reading too many light novels?”

Satsuki is lying on the sofa lazily in her uniform. She squinted her eyes and glared at me as she ate her cereal.

When there aren’t any snacks, my little sister always eats cereal. She just adds them to the plate without milk. It literally looks like bird feed, but I don’t think she cares.

As her brother, I think she should eat something a bit more girly. However, I can’t answer what food girls eat if you ask me. Macaron?

“Just think about it casually. The worst that can happen is affecting your onii-chan’s life.”

“Doesn’t that mean I have to think about it seriously!?”

Satsuki’s ponytails moved around as she sat up and continued eating cereal. Even though I think my priority is lower than the bowl of cereal, she seems to be more focused now.

“Oh, I can’t believe Satsuki thinks I’m so important. …I’m so happy.”

“It’s because I don’t want onii-chan to become a NEET. I don’t want to check your body if onii-chan died alone in the future, okay? You’ll smell.”

“You don’t have to worry about that now! Also, I won’t leave home if I become a NEET. You don’t have to check my identity even if I died alone.”

“This is what you’re worried about?”

Satsuki’s black hair flailed around as she moaned. Also, if I’m being honest, I hope she can at least come to confirm my corpse if I die in a faraway town.

After a moment, Satsuki concluded with a simple sentence.

“Sigh, just studying is fine, right?”

“What about other than studying?”

“The only good point onii-chan has is your grades are okay. What else can you do if you throw away this?”

“Eh, there are no others? For example, well, …nothing?”

“Don’t ask me.”

Satsuki gives me a despising look, but she still puts her hand on her chin. She seems to be thinking.

“Other than studying, onii-chan can, …I don’t know, picking up trash in the town?”

“Am I a volunteer of the neighborhood committee now? Aren’t your expectation of what I can do a bit too low?”

“This is because onii-chan is unpopular, doesn’t want to be popular, weird, and bad at sports. It’s all your fault.”

“Hey, Satsuki, you can’t be so rude to someone other than me, okay? I’ve lived with you for a long time, so the only damage I took is just your words leaving a lasting mark in my mind that I can’t sleep with.”

“That’s a big enough damage, right?”

Hiya, I want my little sister to learn from a certain Panadol brand with 50% gentleness. But, I think that slogan means the medicine stops headaches and protects the stomach. Unfortunately, the “gentle” in it is not psychological. [TL: That’s a slogan from Bufferin.]

Satsuki sighed and continued.

“But think about it, onii-chan is still onii-chan even if you’re from 3 years later.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, then, in the end, you can only do things you can do, right?”

I suddenly realized it after she said that. Yeah, she’s right.

Time traveling doesn’t mean I have better capabilities or can deal with people. Well, unless I’m reincarnated into another world with OP powers from a cute goddess.



If my powers aren’t enhanced, naturally, I can’t do much.

The premise of I’m still being me is immovable. I didn’t really change in the 15 years since I got out of my shell to middle school.

So, I guess this life will be similar to the last one. It’s going to be calm.

Hmm, hiding the fact that I’m from the future to live a quiet life, doesn’t this feel like I’m an MC that hides his powers? Yeah, it sounds nice.

But, honestly, I also thought, “How about I just buy stocks that will go up to live a free NEET life?” In fact, I was already thinking of what stocks I should buy.

However, I realized a fatal flaw here.

…I didn’t pay attention to any stocks in my last high school life. So, I have no idea which is the right bet.

Damn, I would’ve checked the market every day if I knew I was going back in time!

Although I can remember some famous companies, I don’t know whether I can make big bucks. Will it really go up? No matter how big the internet is, no one can tell me what will happen 3 years down the line.

Some did proclaim themselves are from the future, but it’s all about WWIII and disasters. Tell me the stock prices, dude.

In conclusion, the plan to reach the top of my life with stocks died in the crib.

However, I have some stronger places than in my previous life. Grades, for example.

I was about to take the year 3 public exam a few weeks ago. If I went back to year 1, all of the lessons would feel simple to me, naturally. I should check out those reference books for exam students when I have time.

Therefore, I decided to live peacefully through my high school life like last time.

Also, I’ve seen Hanamitsuji a couple times in school. I’m amazed by how she can always be with her friends. I don’t even think we’re the same species. She gives off an elegant, high-class feeling. I was in the same class as Hanamitsuji in year 2 and 3. She was hanging out with a group of friends like that too.

Even though we’ve never talked in school, Hanamitsuji sent me a couple messages on Line.

I freaked out because I thought we would just add each other and not talk until our deaths. A girl of the same age has sent me a Line message. This event is too heavy.

However, only the first time made me think, “Should I make some red bean rice?”

I was too lazy to reply the second time.

The hardest part about interpersonal relationships is maintaining them instead of constructing them.

This must be why I turned into a lone wolf, right…?

Luckily, Hanamitsuji’s texts are simple and clear. I don’t really like to be involved in something troublesome. I might have accidentally blacklisted her if she had just bombed me with waves of emojis and stickers.

However, I don’t like how she texts me when she has time. I almost want to reply, “Then, what do you want from me?”

Just like yesterday night, the message popped up on my phone while I was lying on the bed reading light novels.

*

<How’s it going?>

<Uh, okay, I guess.>

<Really? Did you find your place in the class?>

<Yeah, I’m good with how I’m doing now.>

<Glad to hear. I was worried because you seemed like you had very few friends in the class.>

<Don’t underestimate me. It’s not very few. It’s a zero that’s infinitely close to nothing.>

<All that big talk, and you’re just friendless in the end. I was already trying to be subtle about it, you know?>

<If you have time to worry about me, it looks like things are going well on your end.>

<It’s okay. I’m doing fine since I already have a lot of friends.>

<Good.>

<Now that we’re getting used to it, should we meet up somewhere?>

<No, I’m not trying to meet you offline with this.>

<What do you mean by meeting me offline!?>

<I feel like it’s not good to search for real-life interactions when chatting online, right?>

<We are classmates, right!? We know each other in real life!>

<People will hate you if you act too greedy, you know?>

<Why are you making it like I’m forcing you?>

<What, don’t tell me you love me?>

<No, not at all. That’s impossible, right?>

<Sigh, that’s why I told you we’ll figure it out when the time comes. See you.>

<What are you even trying to say?>

*

I decided to ignore the last reply. No, it’s not because the “What, don’t tell me you love me?” I sent out nervously was casually ignored. I wasn’t even looking forward to it, alright? It’s more like I’m now free of weird misunderstandings, you know?

Of course, I wasn’t lying when I said, “I’m good with how I’m doing now.”

Being alone because I don’t want to make friends is guaranteed. Naturally, I don’t feel anything aside from acknowledgment and satisfaction from that.

By the way, why does Hanamitsuji care about my relationships? Is she my mom? Sigh, even though my actual parents don’t notice this. They didn’t ask me, “Did you make any friends?”

*

The day after our Line chatting is still as calm as usual.

No one in the class will talk to me, but it’s no problem if you’re cheeky enough.

The same goes for lunch too. I just leisurely sit there and eat. Everyone in the class is split into different small groups during lunch. However, that has nothing to do with me. For now, I’m just there with the tea I got from the vending machine and bread.

Ah- this porkchop sandwich tastes pretty good. …How should I put it? I like the fact the cabbage and the meat are all very sloppy. It’s reassuring to see the sandwich is just as weak as I am.

After finishing my one-person lunch, the classmates seemed to have realized something and distanced themselves from me. No one is sitting around me. It’s like there’s an indestructible barrier around me.

I quickly finished my meal and started reading light novels. A group of girls laughed as they walked next to me. I don’t need to raise my head to know that’s the most charming extroverts in the class based on their voice.

A student’s status in the school is determined by how loud they are.

The bigger the volume, the more power they have. A weak group is literally not allowed to talk loudly. Are you guys animals who scream to protect their territory? Also, a lone wolf without someone to talk to won’t even dare to speak at all.

 Sometimes, there are loud otakus. However, those people are also enjoying their school life healthily, unlike a lone wolf.

I really want to forget this piece of memory. In my last high school life, I also wanted to join the otaku group in my class. I thought we were like-minded at that time. In the end, after some conversations, I realized their tastes for anime and manga are completely different than mine. The mobile games they played were unknown to me as well. Side note, they don’t even read light novels.

Groups like this usually have anime, manga, and mobile games that act as a common language for everyone. It’s hard to talk to them if you don’t know about any of those. I am watching it because my friend is watching it. I start playing mobile games because we have to share the joy and sadness of rolling gacha. Since I could never do those things, I quickly became a peculiarity. That’s why I slowly distanced myself from them.

They didn’t abandon me. I kept my distance away. This will be in the exam. Make sure you remember it.

The otakus talked about going to the cinema on the day after the Golden Week. “Hey, wait, you guys didn’t even call me?” So, I realized everything and left them. Don’t say I’m getting bullied.

Novelists are creatures that love to be alone. That’s why, as a future light novel author, I don’t need any friends. Moreover, the pressure of trying to keep up with them is insane. Many misunderstandings will occur if we move as a group. I can’t deal with their type.

In the end, should I say it’s coordination? I cannot literally twist myself to fit a group’s narrative.

With that, I’ve achieved a conclusion. I’m only suited to be alone.

If I myself have accepted that, naturally, there aren’t any problems.

After thinking these things for a while, my eyes returned to the light novels again. However, this attention is broken in just a couple seconds.

I realized a girl was standing next to me.

Who? Don’t tell me you have something to do with me.

It’s because I realized it’s a gal from the extrovert group that just went past after getting a glimpse. If I remember correctly, her name is Hoshigasaki. Her depigmented yet bright hair is tied into a ponytail. Even though Higashidani’s rules are pretty relaxed, this certainly feels like stepping on the line.

As for why an important and famous high school has a gal, there’s nothing much for me to say. After all, some extroverts have a 200 IQ and are good at everything. The people who are only good at grades are all introverts, like me. The truth of this world is too harsh.

Did she realize I glimpsed at her? Hoshigasaki’s eyes and mine met up. She’s standing, so I feel like I’m being strongly despised here. …I don’t have that kind of fetish. Hoshigasaki already has upturned eyes. It feels scary to be stared at by her. Is she trying to terrorize me now?

At this moment, Hoshigasaki spoke.

“…Disgusting.”

After she mumbled that, she walked away toward the group of girls as if nothing had happened. She almost bumped into another girl as well and mumbled, “Uwah, sorry.” The girl in question (I think her name is Sakado) also replied, “Oh, it’s fine.”

Sorry, lol. Hoshigasaki laughed as she said that to Sakado before grouping with the girls.

“Hey, Ruri, what are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“Hey, hey, check this video out. Don’t you think it’s hilarious?”

It seems that she forgot about me. Hoshigasaki is now chatting happily with her friends.

…How can her tone be completely different than the “disgusting” just then? Did she make that sound with another vocal cord? Is that the same principle as a higher pitch when you’re talking to your mom?

By the way, gals are scary.

There are fantasies where gals are pretty gentle to otakus, but that doesn’t exist in reality. I was super looked down upon there.

Ah, perhaps it’s because I’m a lone wolf instead of an otaku. Extroverts have this unusual contempt toward lone wolves and people with few friends. Why is that? Don’t you know quality over quantity? Of course, you don’t need a full plate of friends.

Sigh, even though, according to this theory, lone wolves will die from starvation.

Come to think of it, my last high school life doesn’t contain any memories of Hoshigasaki. I was in the same class as her in year 1. I should have some memories more or less, right? Don’t say things like it’s because there’s nothing memorable about you. Sigh, it looks like the interactions between are just that minuscule.

“…Tck.”

I freaked out when I heard someone smacking their tongue. Don’t tell me I’m already hated for sitting in my seat alone?

I think that was from Sakado. There’s a hairpin on her shoulder-long black hair. She turned her head halfway and glared at Hoshigasaki. It looks like she directed that to Hoshigasaki instead of me. Lucky.

Sakado also goes wild with her friends during breaks. She’s a 100% extrovert in my eyes. However, she’s not in the same group as Hoshigasaki. It looks like extroverts aren’t all in the same faction.

It’s not easy being an extrovert too. My phone suddenly vibrated when I thought about that.

Even though I knew the message was probably not important, I still took out my phone.

The screen showed the name “Sora Hanamitsuji”.

I have never received a Line notification in school before. I have a bad feeling about this, so I wanted to ignore it. But, I feel like things will get worse if I ignore it.

I reluctantly opened the chat.

<Can you come to the corridor in the Special Building like last time?>

<Please come before lunch ends if possible.>

After reading the two messages, I couldn’t help but put my hands between my eyebrows. Even though the person who sent them is a beautiful girl, the fact that it’s annoying remains unchanged.

If I read the text already, I’ll probably be in trouble if I don’t go. <Sorry, I fell asleep.> That’s only an excuse for cute girls.

<Just a second.> After I replied, I tried to contain my sigh and stood up.

*

“Aren’t you too slow?”

“What can I do? This place is far away from my classroom.”

Hanamitsuji’s face is emotionless. She crossed her arms with her legs slightly opened in the Special Building’s 5/F corridor. Since her face is pretty, this adds more pressure to her stance.

“Do you know why I called you here?”

“No.”

My answer made Hanamitsuji sigh explicitly. After that, she suddenly took a step closer to me and mumbled.

“I’ll be frank here. You got the rare opportunity to go back 3 years to now. Why is Nanamura-kun still being alone?”

Ah, about this…? It’s going to be a pain to explain. I was hoping she wouldn’t go into it.

I attempted to change the topic and ask my questions.

“Hey, why do you care so much about my relationships? Are you my mom?”

“Of course, I do. You saved my life.”

“Didn’t I tell you to not worry about it?”

Hanamitsuji interrupted me as if she didn’t want to give me a chance to retort.

“Even if we leave that there, I still worry about someone I know being unable to make friends. It’s normal for me to want you to meet more people, right?”

Is it normal? I don’t know what’s in an extrovert or normie’s mind. Huh, guess I should’ve read more light novels with normie characters.

“Wait, why do you know I’m alone? We aren’t in the same class.”

“Some of my middle school friends are in class A. After I subtly asked her about you, the answer I ended with is, ‘Ah, you mean Nanamura-kun (laughs)’, or something like that.”

“It’s painful to be able to imagine a girl’s live reaction!”

Uwah, what a critical hit. The last thing I want is to know others’ opinions of mine from another person.

I can roughly guess what that friend said. It was probably, “He’s a guy who sits alone and reads light novels.” Yep, this must be the correct answer.

“You know, didn’t you say ‘I’m good with how I’m doing now” when I ask you, “Did you find your place in the class’!? Why did you lie!?”

“No, I wasn’t lying. I’m not planning to make any friends. Isn’t it reasonable for me to turn into a lone wolf if I don’t talk to anyone and just read light novels?”

Hanamitsuji, who’s clearly frowning, glared at me brutally.

“I’ll ask you again. Why are you still have to be alone when you went back to 3 years ago?”

I shrugged it off.

“You know we were in the same class in year 2 and 3, right? I was alone at that time too, so I’m just trying to be the same this time.”

“But, right now, don’t you have the last time’s experience already? Even if you were alone before, don’t you want to reflect on yourself and make friends this time?”

Sigh, this girl doesn’t understand anything. Whatever. People like Hanamitsuji can never understand a lone wolf’s heart.

“Hanamitsuji, you forgot something important.”

Hanamitsuji showed a shocked expression upon seeing my seriousness.

“Something important?”

“Yes, you said it, right? ‘Last time’s experience’. In other words, you have accumulated some EXP for interpersonal relationships in your last time.”

“Yeah, I already know who I can hang out with. That’s why I’m better than making friends this time.”

It must be a fact, right? I can always see her with her friends in school. I’m not paying attention to Hanamitsuji, but she’s a beautiful girl, after all. Her aura is very apparent.

“Nanamura-kun, it’s impossible for you to not remember anything from your previous life, right? I feel like things should at least get a little bit better for you.”

“Naïve, you’re too naïve, Hanamitsuji. This theory won’t work for a lone wolf.”

“W-Why?”

My sudden look of superiority clearly startled Hanamitsuji. Since it was a bit embarrassing, I puffed up my chest and announced loudly.

“Lone wolves don’t have any relationships. In other words, if I was alone in my last high school life, I don’t have any experience to help me make friends.”

Even though being cheeky depends on one’s mental strength, this doesn’t help you make friends.

“So, it’s impossible for me to make friends!”

“Why are you being so upright about it…?”

I brilliantly made Hanamitsuji go speechless.

I don’t blame her. Lone wolves are aloof creatures. Commoners like her won’t understand.

“Also, I’m happy with being alone. I don’t need to care how others look at me. It suits me.”

“If you’re saying you’re happy, Nanamura-kun must know the hardship of friends, right?”

“I tried to make friends last time too, but I couldn’t. Creating common ground of conversations, cheering along even though that’s not what I wanted, and laughing at boring topics. That’s why I became a lone wolf last time.”

“…But, even so, are you sure that you just want to repeat again? You should’ve at least thought about being able to avoid making the same mistakes, right?”

“No, I’ve learned my lesson.”

“Hmph? What lesson did you learn?”

It looks like Hanamitsuji’s trust for me is next to zero. She is giving me a pretty disappointed look.

I cleared my throat before speaking up to cover the awkwardness.

“Well, there are two types of lone wolves. The first are those who had painful memories of making friends or classmates who are awkward to talk to. The second are the ones that start out as aloof. Last time, I didn’t manage to control my ambition to make friends. However, I’ve already given up a thought like that. So, I won’t be leaving behind any black history.”

“You’re clearly going the wrong way, right?”

“I’m progressing toward the correct future. This is a posthumous promotion.”

“That’s only for people who died in duty. …No, you did die once, so that makes sense.”

Hanamitsuji said that dumbfoundedly. She put her hand on her forehead as if she has a headache.

“Why are you avoiding relationships?”

“I’m not avoiding. Please call this diversion.”

“Are you an army that refuses to use the word retreat?”

But, in fact, I don’t think I’m avoiding it at all.”

“Escaping is a negative decision made under helplessness. However, I actively decide that I’m not going to make friends. Is it really avoiding when I’m walking on a path I acknowledge?”

I stand by my conclusion. However, regrettably, Hanamitsuji’s dumbfoundedness remains unchanged.

Hiya, that’s why I don’t like these “friendship-ism” people. There’s a long way before they can reconcile with lone wolves.

“But, if you’re talking properly to me now, doesn’t that mean you don’t have any communication disorders?”

“I guess. I don’t have any fatal communication disorders. My little sister can have a proper conversation with me. I can show a friendly attitude toward people I just met.”

“Then, you should be able to more or less cater them, right? If you just need a bit of effort to make friends and enjoy your high school life, this compromise isn’t bad, right?”

Having friends make you happy. I see. I can always hear that, whether in real life or fiction. Light novels where the MC tries his best to make friends are one of my favorites too.

However, this doesn’t apply to everyone.

“Hey, some people still can’t deal with relationships even if they don’t have communication disorders. Temporary interactions and participating in social groups are two different things.”

“Y-You’re right…”

“Even if I can go along with others at first, I’ll eventually show who I am. I think I’m better off not building those relationships that will show cracks in the end.”

Friends that you’ll eventually say goodbye to are literal time bombs. Staying with those people won’t generate happiness. It’s just going to be exhausting.

Hanamitsuji went silent. Her face is still full of dissatisfaction.

Even though she doesn’t get anything from worrying about me, is this girl an honest-to-good kind person? I hope she won’t be targeted by scammers in the future.

“…Well, does Nanamura-kun thinks it’s annoying to talk to me here too? Do you not want to talk to me anymore?”

Hanamitsuji looked away and mumbled.

“No, you’re fine.”

I answered immediately. Hanamitsuji’s almond-shaped eyes bulged. She turned her head and questioned me again.

“W-Why? Why is it fine if it’s me?”

“It’s because Hanamitsuji is special.”

Is she still asking that at this point? Isn’t this obvious?

Just as I was thinking about that, Hanamitsuji, who was staring at me a moment ago, abruptly turned away. This girl is sure busy twisting her head around.

“S-Suddenly saying things like that, that’s cheating…”

What? You’re the one who asked me. I swallowed my complaint. I don’t know if it’s my imagination. Her cheeks look kind of red. Is it because of the lighting?

After that, Hanamitsuji smiled and spoke up chicly.



“P-Perhaps? You sacrificed yourself to save me, after all. I’m not unaware of Nanamura-kun’s feelings. However, we’ll have a lot of problems if this continues.”

What is she talking about? I interrupted Hanamitsuji when she kept blabbing non-stop.

“The special I mean is that you’re the only one who’s also from 3 years later. If we’re both from the future, naturally, there are things only we can talk about.”

Hanamitsuji froze after hearing that. After a couple seconds, I can see her cheeks clearly flaring up. What’s with this reaction?

She shook her head a few times before looking outside the window. Then, she cleared her throat and answered.

“…Yeah, I know. You’re right. We should be cooperating with each other since we’re both partners from 3 years later. Yep, that’s what I thought.”

“O-Oh, I’m glad you can understand.”

“Well, even if we’re partners, I’ve rarely talked to you last time. It’s a problem that we don’t know each other well.”

“Relax, it’s not just yourself who has never talked to me. I’m not lying here. But, aside from work conversations or being called by the teacher, I don’t remember opening my mouth in year 3.”

“That’s really not worthy of lying.”

“Everyone has their nicknames on their t-shirts during year 3’s sports festival. I’m the only one with ‘Nanamura’ printed on my back.”

“Ugh, …hey! You’re banned from mentioning a painful past like this! I can’t go to bed if I think of this.”

I think my lone wolf tale is treated as a ghost story.

But that ghost story is real, you know?

“Well, forget about that. Hanamitsuji doesn’t really have to worry about my problems, right? You should just mind your business. …Ho, don’t tell me you lo-“

“You’re overthinking.”

She quickly denied me before I even finished. I just said “lo”.

Well, this is so refreshingly boring, even though I know it. Rom-coms are too heavy for a lone wolf.

“Ahem, ah, well, I did think of repeating my high school life once more. If I feel like doing nothing is fine, Hanamitsuji isn’t in a position to tell me what to do.”

“Well, you’re right.”

It seemed that she couldn’t retort. Hanamitsuji unwillingly fell into silence. I’m the only one that can take care of my life. Sorry, but I won’t betray my ideals so easily.

“Also, in the end, Hanamitsuji, you’re not that determined to help me make friends, right? I’m sorry if you are, but if you aren’t, stop meddling in my business.”

“I got it.”

Hanamitsuji interrupted me with her determined eyes. She raised her index finger.

“Ha?”

“Well, I’ll help you make friends. No complaints?”

Time stopped for a few seconds.

The question of “what is this girl saying?” looped in my head for a while. However, I was a bit attracted to Hanamitsuji’s confident smile.

“Didn’t you say it? It’s different if I’m helping you make friends. I’ll show you my determination.

“H-Hey, Hanamitsuji. That was just a phrase. I’m really fine with being alone.”

“Shut up! You’re really good-for-nothing for a man!”

“Hey, you can’t say those ‘-because you’re a man’ and ‘because you’re a woman’ anymore. We’re talking about being politically correct here. You can’t go into Hollywood with that.”

“What Hollywood? Ah, that’s enough. You’re such a pain. A beautiful girl is saying she’s going to help you make friends. Appreciate me!”

“You sure think of yourself highly!”

The bell rang just as I was complaining. The afternoon lessons will begin in 5 minutes.

“Sigh, anyway, we’ll talk about this later.”

“I’m hoping that we just forget about helping me make friends.”

“We’ll have a strategy meeting after school about that.”

She’s really energetic. This is troublesome…

“It’s not just to help you make friends. We’re partners from 3 years later, right? Don’t you think we should meet each other from time to time and talk about our worries and problems? Didn’t you say I’m special before?”

“Well, yeah.”

I wrapped my hands around my head. Hanamitsuji glanced at me and continued making her arrangements.

“Well, how should we make the schedule? Hmm, …I’m busy, so I can’t meet you every day.”

“Don’t just assume that I’m free, alright?”

“Heh, what’s your schedule then?”

“I hope you don’t ask me about this as a token of mercy to a samurai.”

“Who are you serving?”

Hanamitsuji sighed explicitly. She took out her phone and thought about it.

“Hmm, well, let’s do it every Monday after school. We’ll meet in a family restaurant a bit far away from the school to avoid being seen by others. I’ll send you the location later.”

“Can’t we just meet here?”

The corridor on the 5/F of the Special Building. No one comes here too.

“Won’t you feel bad about bringing a beautiful girl here?”

Hey, this girl has kept calling herself “beautiful” without hesitation since then. No, well, I mean, yes, that’s true, but isn’t she too confident?

“Also, there’s nowhere to sit here. I hope we only meet in school when it’s an emergency. We’ll be in trouble if someone sees us.”

“Ah, yeah, things will go bad for you.”

No one cares about me in class, so I don’t really mind my reputation.

However, Hanamitsuji is living through her second high school life successfully. I think she doesn’t want others to know she’s meeting a lone wolf like me.

“I won’t have any issues if you can be more normal.”

Hanamitsuji’s tone sounded like she was throwing a tantrum. So, you’re blaming me? Well, yeah, I’m the one to blame.

“Whatever. I’ll work hard to help you make friends and live like a normal student.”

“You sure like meddling in others’ businesses…”

“We had the chance to go back to year 1, you know? It’s definitely a loss to not spend it with friends happily. I feel bad for letting my savior’s high school life be so boring.”

“Didn’t I say you don’t have to worry about it?”

“Well, I’ll go back first. See you after school.”

“You aren’t even listening to me, right!?”

Hanamitsuji completely ignored me and walked down the stairs. I can’t follow her. So, I killed time for a bit and sneaked into the classroom just as class was about to start.

It has to be because the class is starting soon, right? There are no strangers in my seat. I’m relieved.

After all, it’s common for a lone wolf’s seat to be taken away. Why does that even happen?

*

After school, I went to the family restaurant next to the freeway. It’s a bit far away from my high school. Hanamitsuji, who goes to school by bus, sees this place every day. As for me, it’s just a 15-minute ride on my bicycle from school.

Most of us go to school by car or metro. Not a lot of them take the bus. That seems to be the reason why Hanamitsuji never sees anyone in the same uniform in this family restaurant.

“Well, let’s talk about helping Nanamura-kun make friends.”

Hanamitsuji is sitting opposite me. She looks very serious. A glass of oolong tea is in front of her, while mine has cola.

“Are we really talking about this…?”

“No shit. That’s why we’re here.”

I know, but I just don’t want to. I feel like she’s trying to mess with me.

“By the way, didn’t I say I volunteer to be a lone wolf?”

“But isn’t it a waste to live for 3 years as a lone wolf? You have your previous life’s experience. You should use it efficiently.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt you when you’re so worked up for my life. I don’t have any experience, you know? I was friendless last time too.”

“Hmm, well, let’s change our thinking. Do you want to befriend anyone?”

“No, I can’t deal with people who have more friends than I do.”

“Doesn’t that mean almost everyone?”

She looked at me dumbfoundedly. I looked away and drank my cola.

“Well, did you interact with anyone?”

“Nope. My lone wolf level is not just me being friendless in class. Instead, I’ve never spoken in class. I’m aloof to the extreme.”

“That’s just going to make you even more lonely, right?”

“Shut up.”

“Hey, won’t you feel inconvenient to be alone? Like when you can’t come to school, forget to bring textbooks, or when getting into groups during PE.”

“I’m not bragging, but I’m so healthy that I’ve never taken an absence. Well, if I forgot my books, I’ll just give up.”

“Seriously?”

“It’s a bit awkward when I have to get in groups, but there are always extra people aside from me. The teacher just says, ‘Well, go with Nanamura then.’ on his own.”

But, come to think of it, this is a bit problematic. Aren’t we all extra people?

Why am I the only one treated like I have to beg to be in a group? This is unacceptable.

“Even though I don’t want to respect you at all, I admire your mental strength for being able to tolerate things like this…”

Hey, don’t feel pity for me. The worst thing you can do to a lone wolf is pitying him. The surrounding looks hurt more than the fact of being a lone wolf.

“Our high school isn’t a mess, so I’m not bullied for being a lone wolf. It’s fine once I get used to it.”

Sigh, even though a gal just said I’m disgusting, that’s pretty much it. It’s just that sometimes I get upset whenever I think about this before going to bed.

“Sheesh, well, I’ll play by your level. Do you open your eyes in the classroom?”

“Is this a swimming lesson for elementary kids? Your standards for me are too low, right?”

“I see, so you won’t open your eyes.”

“I do. Of course, I open my eyes! I’ll answer the question if my name is called. I’ll talk as long as it’s about work.”

“Heh, with who?”

Hanamitsuji’s eyes are sparkling with curiosity. With a slight embarrassment, I mumbled.

“Well, …the class president.”

Even though a gal just said I’m disgusting, I can’t possibly count that as a conversation. Lone wolves have their own set of honor codes too.

Hanamitsuji’s expression slightly brightened up after hearing my answer.

“The Class A president is a girl named Mashiro Shiramine, right?”

“How did you know that? Also, even if you ask me, I don’t know her last name.”

Just like what she said, our class’s president is a girl named Shiramine. Her long and straight black hair gives a deep impression. She’s a model student.

I was reading light novels in my seat when we were supposed to change classroom for English. She said, “We’re changing classrooms next lesson.” to me. I answered, “O-Oh, thanks.” Come to think of it, it’s a bit reluctant to count this as a conversation, but I have no other choice.

Forget about that. Why does this girl know Shiramine?

D-Don’t tell me she’s so worried about them that she asked my classmates…?

“I was friends with Mashiro last time.”

“Really? I see. I almost thought Hanamitsuji is a stalker.”

“Why is that your conclusion!? By the way, you should at least remember your classmates’ names, right?”

“Normally, no one will remember a name of the opposite gender.”

Even though I don’t remember the guys’ names. Honestly, I think I should already applaud myself for remembering their first names.

I was in the same class as Shiramine in year 1 and 2 last time. I think we’ve talked a couple times too. Of course, it’s all about work. However, I can count all of the people who have spoken to a lone wolf like me with one hand. So, even a trivial matter like that left an impression in my mind. If I remember correctly, Shiramine was the class president last time too. Perhaps that’s why she talked to me.

Hanamitsuji nodded and hmphed for some reason. She pointed at me.

“Hmm, that’s a good thing. Mashiro is honest and kind. She won’t treat anyone differently, even if it’s you.”

“Don’t just jump to another topic, okay? What are you talking about?”

“Of course, I’m talking about helping you make friends. Did you forget already?”

I didn’t, but I want to forget. By the way, if she said that…

“Even though it was about work, it’s easier to communicate with someone you’ve talked to before, right? Well, you should start by striking up a conversation with Mashiro.”

“No, no, wait, aren’t I supposed to start with a guy first!? Isn’t it too difficult to start with a girl right away!?”

“I feel like it’s just as hard for you to talk to a guy, right?”

“That’s not the problem.”

I mean, yeah, there are plots like this in light novels! But it’s literally impossible for a lone wolf to talk to a girl because he wants to befriend her. I can deal with girls like Hanamitsuji who voluntarily talk to me, but it’s too much for me to take the initiative.

“Also, what if she sues me after I talked to her?”

“What are you going to say to her that causes you to get sued?”

Uh, hmm, what are some of the topics I can say to a girl I just met…?

“Let me think. ‘Shiramine, your hair smells so good. What brand of shampoo do you use?’ Something like that?”

“Yeah, I won’t be surprised if you’re getting sued…”

Hanamitsuji’s eyes were a bit cold. She leaned back a bit as if she wanted to distance herself from me. Hey, it hurts. Stop. Even though it’s my fault for saying weird things.

“Forget about that. I refuse to let Shiramine be my springboard for making friends. I feel really bad for her. Moreover, my school life will really be ruined if she hates me.”

“I feel like it’s 100% Nanamura-kun’s fault if you managed to be hated by Mashiro. …Whatever. Well, does a guy work for you then? Hmm, the guys in Class A, …Kuno-kun from the Baseball Club is in your class, right? Weren’t we in the same class during year 3 too?”

“Why would I remember what happened in year 3? But, there is a guy named Kuno in my class. He’s loud and annoying.”

“Who’s loud and annoying?”

Kuno is the guy who stepped on dog shit on the entrance ceremony day. He’s always messing around with his boys from the Football and Baseball Club. Of course, he’s an extrovert as well.

That group is so loud that I can’t deal with them, …especially those who emphasize their existence even though there’s no one around. A lone wolf won’t be seen even if he’s in front of people.

“I can’t deal with those extroverts. Our wavelengths don’t match.”

“Yeah, not a lot of people can match Nanamura-kun’s wavelength.”

“I would rather bite my tongue than say ‘please be friends with me’ to that kind of guy.”

“Do you have to go that far!? Uh, …well, what about Tashiro? He was in the same class as us in year 2. I think he loves anime and stuff. You should be able to get along with him.”

Tashiro is a guy with glasses that gives off a neurotic feeling. He’s a part of the otaku circle in class.

“I’ve talked to him last time. I think we share the same hobbies.”

“Heh, then why don’t you just be friends with him?”

Hanamitsuji leaned forward, but I shook my head. Even though the premise is good, there’s a giant canyon between Tashiro and me.

“Nope, that guy is an isekai anime fan, while I’m a modern rom-com light novel enjoyer. The people who hang out with Tashiro are the same. We won’t have fun talking.”

“I feel like it should be the same if you two both love anime and light novels.”

“Otakus aren’t united too.”

Not all otakus in the world read light novels. Most people focus on anime and mobile games. Those who do buy it are mostly just for the sake of the anime adaptation. People who buy new releases that may get axed in a couple volumes like me are in the minority.

Also, I don’t really watch anime or play popular mobile games. Don’t get me wrong. I think the characters in mobile games are cute, but the gaming part is boring. I feel like it’s better to just let me read the story. It’s much easier to read light novels and manga since I just need to flip the pages.

From Tashiro’s perspective, it’s probably, “This guy, he knows nothing about anime and mobile games despite looking like a shady otaku…?” It must be like that.

They are always talking about popular animes. If I dare to say, “Sorry, I didn’t watch that.”, they must be like, “Hey, hey, are you serious!?”, “This is the best one of the season!”, “People who don’t watch it have no right to call themselves an otaku.” chicly. I can’t deal with them. I’m not planning to call myself an otaku, anyway.

In conclusion, I didn’t manage to befriend Tashiro and his otaku group last time.

Clearly, the same result will happen even if I try again.

“Anyway, I don’t want to talk to Tashiro and his group. I would rather commit seppuku.”

“Can you stop using such an annoying analogy?”

Hanamitsuji sighed. She picked up her straw with an exhausted face.

“Well, let’s go with Plan A and talk to Mashiro. Let’s try your best.”

“Oh, leave it to me. …Hmm?”

Ehh? Something’s wrong. Since when did we decide for me to talk to Shiramine!?

What happened? I remembered refusing the plan of talking to Shiramine initially. It then changed to talking to guys, but I said no too. …Shit, is this a genius’s trap?

“When are you going? I feel like if I don’t cut off your esc- make a plan, you’ll keep dragging your feet.”

“You just said ‘cut off my escape’, right?”

“Alright, alright, don’t go off-topic. Make up your mind.”

She totally decided that I was going to talk to her! Hanamitsuji’s unbeatable negotiation strategy is shocking.

This girl, perhaps she’s talented at selling expensive paintings and crocks. I’m probably her first victim.

“Good things shouldn’t be delayed. You should talk to her tomorrow.”

“Whether this is a good thing is still worthy of discussion. Whatever. If I’m talking to her, the best time is probably during lunch.”

“Hmph, what a hero.”

“Eh?”

“Nothing, it’s okay if you agree. Let’s go tomorrow during lunch. I’ll sneak into Class A to check on you.”

Hanamitsuji chuckled as she crossed her arms in satisfaction.

I took a sip of cola deflatedly, but the glass was empty. As I was about to stand up, Hanamitsuji handed me her empty glass.

“I want iced black tea without ice.”

“Hey, don’t just make me run errands for you so naturally.”

*

It’s the second day. My wish of elephants or giraffes escaping the zoo and messing everything up isn’t fulfilled. Lunchtime came in just a blink of an eye. Well, even though I'll be in trouble if my wish came true.

I don’t have any appetite today. It took me 10 minutes to finish the convenience store sandwich that I always finish in 5. No, it’s not because eating by myself is lonely, alright?

I stood up quietly. With my eyes filled with a tragic sense of determination, I searched for Shiramine.

Shiramine sits on the left side of the blackboard, next to the window. However, several girls have put their tables together. They seem to be chatting happily.

Of course, this is lunchtime.

It’s already late April now. The groups in the class are pretty much set in stone. The classroom during lunchtime is filled with island-like communities. I’m the only person who eats by myself. Ah, I’ve surely earned a lot from training my mental strength from eating lunch.

However, this is problematic. It’s way too hard to launch a sudden attack on Shiramine when she’s happily having lunch with her friends. People will definitely give me the “Eh, what’s wrong with this guy.” look. I’m fine with being viewed as a weirdo, but I don’t want to cause Shiramine trouble.

In the end, why did I even pick lunchtime!? Don’t people normally spend time with their friends during lunch!? This is one of the hardest times to strike up a conversation with someone!

No, I know the reason. It’s because a loner like me didn’t consider that people spend lunch with their friends. I was just thinking, “Huh, it’s easier to talk during lunch because of how long it is.” Yeah, I’m a total idiot.

But forget about me. That girl, Hanamitsuji, must’ve realized it, right?

That girl didn’t say anything because she wanted to see me…

No, wait. I tried to talk but failed. She won’t know I’m lying if I reported it like that, right?

Right, I don’t have to force myself to talk to her like an idiot. I’m not planning to make friends, anyway.

My heart suddenly turned lighter after thinking about that. Sheesh, I don’t have to worry about this at all.

This is dumb. Let’s get some juice from the vending machine. Just as I was thinking about that, a girl glared at me from the corridor when I walked out.

It’s Hanamitsuji.

She’s vehemently warning me with her eyes. “Hey, don’t you dare run away.” Terrifying. You’re literally staring into my soul. Stop looking at me!

Why is this girl in front of Class A’s door? What if the fact that she knows me got out…? This worry flashed inside my mind. However, upon closer look, a girl from Class A is standing next to Hanamitsuji. I think they are talking about something.

Come to think of it, Hanamitsuji said that her middle school classmate is in Class A. Is this why knowing a lot of people is good? It comes into use in unexpected places.

With my escape cut off, I have no choice but to talk to Shiramine. Shiramine is in front of me, while Hanamitsuji is ganking behind. I have to do this, even though I don’t want to. This must be that plot where I must fail once before making progress.

Shiramine seemed to have found out when I was walking toward her tremblingly. Her straight black hair shook gently. Her beautiful face looks amazing even without make-up tilted slightly. Along with her gorgeous eyes and thin lips, she gives off an aura that attracts girls.

“Hey, Shiramine?”

“Ah, Nanamura-kun. How can I help you?”

Shiramine’s deep and intellectual tone matches her expression perfectly. I can’t help but praise her. …Wait, now’s not the time for that.

Uh, topics for chit-chatting, let me think.

…At this point, I finally realized lone wolves don’t have stuff like that. W-What should I do? Cold sweat is dripping down my back. I scrambled my brain to squeeze a couple sentences out.

“W-Well, …I’m sorry to interrupt you when you’re busy. Can I take just a moment of yours?”

“I’m not busy. By the way, why are you talking in business e-mail style?”

“Ah! I’m trying to ask you which classroom are we going to in the afternoon?”

“You were just trying to find something to talk about, right? I can hear it from your ‘Ah!’. …Forget about that. We don’t need to change rooms for any of our afternoon classes.

“Ah, I see. Someone messed with me.”

“I didn’t do anything. Who messed with you? …Is that all you wanted to say?”

“Ah, yes. Appreciated it. Thanks for your work.”

“Why do you sound like a kouhai in a sports club now?”

Shiramine and her friends are giving me puzzled stares. I retreated deflatedly.

Phew, I’m amazing. I bet her affection meter for me must be exploding now.

Just as I was trembling in satisfaction, my phone suddenly vibrated.

<Corridor, 5/F, Special Building. Get your ass here right now.>

The order is clear and simple. I don’t have to say who the sender is, right?

I turned back toward the corridor like an unlubricated machine. Hanamitsuji glimpsed at me before walking toward the stairs. Her face is brimming with a smile.

That’s the first time in my life I’ve seen such a terrifying smile. I really don’t want to go…!

*

“Do you know why I called you here?”

“I think I heard the same thing yesterday. Did I go back in time again?”

After trying to calm down the mood, Hanamitsuji slammed her hand onto the wall behind me. Ohh, a kabedon! I didn’t expect myself to be on the receiving end of it. …However, I think it’s more likely that people will do it on me than the opposite. The girl will probably sue me if I attempted a kabedon on her.

“Na-na-mu-ra-kun?”

“Yes, madam! We are reflecting on my performance. I know it.”

“I think this is impossible, but don’t tell me you think you tried your best there?”

Even though that’s what I thought, I don’t dare to answer “yes” in this mood.

“No, even I think that was pretty bad. …But, Hanamitsuji-san, can you listen to me?”

“I’m listening.”

“In the end, striking up a conversation just because you want to make friends is an impure motive. Well, the most important thing about friends is mutual feelings, right?”

“Is this a joke where a friendless person talks about what friendship is?”

“It’s not a joke! However, this route is really bad for me. Please allow me to withdraw. Uh, right, it’s because I have something more important than friends. I don’t want to waste my precious high school time on making friends.”

“What’s more important than friends? Moreover, you literally have no friends at all. Who gave you the courage to make such a bold statement?”

“We can’t continue talking if you keep doing that! Ah, please stop asking me! …Well, uh, I view life from a greater perspective.”

“What’s your greater perspective?”

“Of course, I’m going to become a light novel author. …Ah.”

Shit, I spilled the beans. Hanamitsuji’s eyes immediately brightened up as she asked in excitement.

“Heh, you’re writing novels?”

“Ugh, …ah, well, …yeah.”

“I see. I didn’t know you have such a hobby.”

Hanamitsuji put her hand on her chin. Her lips curled upward.

“Hey, no laughing.”

“I’m not laughing at you. I’m just thinking that I didn’t even know Nanamura-kun was writing novels last time.”

“Ha? Uh, we didn’t talk to each other back then, after all. …There’s no way you could’ve known.”

I don’t understand what she’s trying to say. I feel like Hanamitsuji is laughing cheerfully.

What’s with this reaction? Don’t tell me she’s going to blackmail me?

“I’ll say this ahead. I would advise you to give up if you’re trying to blackmail me with this. Literally no one cares about my secret. The only reaction you’ll get is ‘who is Nanamura’ from spreading it out.”

“Don’t you feel pathetic for saying that by yourself? Also, I’m not planning to blackmail you.”

After my preemptive warning, Hanamitsuji’s expression immediately deflated as she frowned.

“Forget about that. What’s with your conversation just then? Even though you can talk to me normally, why can’t you come up with a word when you’re facing Mashiro?”

“I can normally communicate too if there’s a proper reason and motive. As for Hanamitsuji, it’s because we already crossed those troublesome barriers when we first saw each other in this world.”

After suddenly going back to a world 3 years ago, she grabbed my arms as she cried and explained the accident.

It would be weird if I didn’t get used to it.

Hanamitsuji still seems unconvinced. She sighed and pointed at me.

“Sigh, …we’ll leave it here for now, but I’m not giving up! You still have to try your best to make friends from now on!”

“No, I don’t want to try at all…”

Hanamitsuji seems very worked up for some reason. I sighed gently.

*

It’s been a couple days after my lightning failure of befriending Shiramine.

Being isolated from most of the class, I still eat alone during lunch. The family bread only takes me a couple minutes to finish. Everyone in the class is chatting with their friends as they have lunch. However, since lone wolves don’t have one, I blitzkrieg’d my lunch.

There’s still some time left. I’m planning to visit the library today.

I read normal novels too, not just the light ones. There are a lot of them you can borrow in the library.

Higashitani High School’s library’s borrowing and return desk is on the entrance's right-hand side. The room in the front is the reading room. The innermost is the bookshelves. The reading room has shelves with new releases and novels. There are long tables and chairs too.

The library is great. I thought to myself.

Few people here can calm down. Those who come to the library are alone as well. So, even a lone wolf won’t raise any attention. This is a safe zone for our species.

I randomly went behind a bookshelf and browsed the book titles on it. After choosing a couple that I’ve only heard of the name, I planned to go back.

From a blind spot behind the bookshelf, I saw a familiar person. I quickly hid.

W-Why is Hanamitsuji here!?

I have to pretend that I’m looking for books while waiting for Hanamitsuji to leave. Although there’s no reason to hide, I always feel awkward whenever I bump into Hanamitsuji in school.

The girl behind the desk seems to be Hanamitsuji’s friend. The two of them are chatting carefreely.

“Sorry, Sora. You are a great help!”

“Sheesh, let’s just pack this up.”

“Okay!”

Even the quietest voice becomes clear in the library. I can even hear rustling and bumping noises. They must be tidying the books.

Huh, Hanamitsuji is a librarian? I’ve never heard of it.

The door is opened just as I’m thinking about that. Then, I can hear the sensei in charge goes, “Hiya, thanks for the work.” The management room is behind the desk. It’s connected to the library.

“Eh, is Okada-kun from year 2 not here?”

“Yes, I think he didn’t come today, …but my friend in the class came to help.”

“Ah, hello. I’m Hanamitsuji from Class 1F.”

“Hiya, really? Thank you. You’re a great help.”

They seem to be arranging their book stock. I guess Hanamitsuji isn’t a librarian. She’s just called by her friend since the other guy on duty is absent.

“I’m so sorry, even though Sora is still on break.”

“I said it’s fine. It’s not your fault.”

“Uwah! I love you so much!”

“Sheesh, don’t hug me.”

I can hear how close they are to the conversation and voice alone. It’s even more awkward for me to go out now. Be quiet in the library, girls.

However, by the way, Hanamitsuji is really kind to her friends. She always says what’s on her mind, but that doesn’t apply to everyone. People with a lot of friends are probably well-balanced on things like this. Be nicer to me too.

“Ah, give me that book.”

“Here. Thanks a lot-“

They tidied the books as they chatted. As for me, I can only flip open the novel in my hands. Well, guess I’ll have to kill time with it until Hanamitsuji leaves.

Right now, I can truly feel the difference of mindset between Hanamitsuji and me. I scanned the minuscule text on the novel as I mumbled. We would’ve gone our separate way if it was a band.

*

“Oh, you’re early.”

It’s next week’s Monday. I walked into the family restaurant to meet Hanamitsuji. She’s already on the seat.

“Did you make any friends?”

“That’s the first thing you ask?”

I sighed heavily. Then, I sat diagonally to Hanamitsuji. I’m not really used to sitting right in front of someone. The diagonal line option can only be attributed to a lone wolf’s pathetic habit.

“The world won’t be suffering in wars and poverty if I can make friends that simple.”

“Those aren’t even related, right? Why are you acting like it’s such a serious issue?”

Hanamitsuji is dumbfounded. She put her cup next to her lips and handed me the menu.

I shook my hand and didn’t take the menu. Instead, I asked for self-serve drinks from a passing-by waiter. I’m so sorry that we’re just leeching here with ordering that alone.

After I’m back from getting cola, I suddenly remember what happened a few days ago.

“By the way, what were you doing in the library?”

“What? That’s sudden.”

“Uh, weren’t you helping the librarian out during lunch before?”

“Oh, about that. We were sorting the outdated Cultural Club magazines. A lot of them were mistakenly placed into folders. It was a pain. …Eh, why did you know that?”

“Ah, I was in the library, coincidentally.”

“Really? I didn’t see you.”

“I was behind the bookshelves.”

“Stalker?”

“Hell no. You came here when I was trying to borrow books. It would be awkward for me to go to the desk at that time. Things will be bad for you if you see me in school, right?”

“Why didn’t you just pretend you don’t know me?”

“You’re right.”

She’s right, but it hurts a little bit if she just ignores me when I’m in front of her. A lone wolf’s heart is very fragile.

After taking a sip of cola, I asked a question that I had been pretty curious about since then.

“I’m thinking your attitude toward friends and me are very different. Can’t you be nicer to me too?”

Hanamitsuji hmphed and put her crossed arms on the table.

“I feel like Nanamura-kun is responsible for making me so angry, right?”

“Why blame me? I’m literally the definition of docile.”

“Will someone really describe themselves this way?”

“No one will say it if I don’t. Lone wolves, girl.”

But I really don’t understand. It’s just because I lack interest in her proposal to help me make friends, not replying to her Line messages, and arguing as soon as I see her. Eh? I suddenly know why.

“Moreover, of course, I’m pretty nice to my friends. However, Nanamura-kun, are you my friend?”

I suddenly pondered about it after she said that. What’s…my relationship with Hanamitsuji?

Even though it’s complicated, we are at least not friends.

“…No.”

“See? My attitude is different depending on the person.”

“You dare to say that in front of the person in question?”

“It’s fine. I won’t say that to my friends.”

“Fufu.” She laughed teasingly. From her perspective, I’m the only one getting special treatment, but I just feel like she’s looking down on me.

“Sigh, I’m quite envious of people who can go with different attitudes on different people.”

I can never do that. I don’t really lie or go along with the mood.

Hanamitsuji put her hands on her cheeks. Her eyes bulged. “Heh.” She gave me a pretty interesting look.

“I didn’t expect you to envy me.”

“I’m not an anti-friend person. I bet I’ll make friends right away if I have your personality.”

She seemed to have misunderstood. I don’t dislike hanging out with friends. Even if it’s just at a pretty surface level where you hang out for fun. I think people talented at befriending others should go make friends.

It’s just that I don’t have that talent.

“I’ll consider your suggestion if I find someone on the same wavelength as me.”

“Yeah, I bet someone will match you…eventually, …probably. …I-I can’t say it’s impossible, …maybe.”

“No, I hope you can be more confident on this part.”

Is it that hard for me to find that someone? I’m such a rare species. Should I be included in the Washington Treaty’s protection?


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