Friday, March 25, 2022

Please Leave Me Alone V2 Chapter 3

Translator: Pingas
Editor: Roi Soleil

The Bunjitsu meeting is over. It’s a Monday in late June. I guess it’s time to start worrying about the final exam.

I was going to go to the library after finishing my lunch. However, a girl I didn’t know called out to me right after I left the classroom.

“I’m sorry. Do you have a moment?”

“Eh, ha.”

The girl’s long black hair is tied into a ponytail. Her face shows a lively and determined expression. There are tan lines on her arms under the summer uniform’s sleeves. That together with the scent of deodorant in the air is enough for me to judge that she’s a sports club member.

I can tell that she’s in the same grade from the color of her shirt. It’s just that I don’t know her. It’s most likely that she wants me to call someone from my class, right?

However, the girl just kept staring at my face without saying anything until a great deal of time had passed.

Is there something on my face? Or is there something wrong with my clothes? But, if that’s the case, she would’ve just told me and left right away.

If not, is she here to invite me to join a cult? …I don’t even have enough money to buy a charm or anything. Finally, the girl made up her mind and spoke up.

“You are Hodaka Nanamura-san, right?”

“Nope, you’ve got the wrong person.”

“Actually, I want to talk to Nanamura-san- Ehh!? I-I got the wrong person!?”

Oh, shit. I instinctively denied her because I had a bad feeling.

The girl in front of me mumbled, “T-That is impossible, right…?” She’s confused and shocked. Perhaps she only came to talk to me after confirming my identity. Of course, anyone would freak out if somebody said they’d got the wrong person. However, she’s actually right about this.

Nevertheless, my instincts drove me to avoid any harmful consequences. So, even though I feel bad for her, I must leave with a calm face.

Goodbye, unknown girl. I wish you the best of luck.

However, before I could make my escape, that girl asked one of my classmates next to the door.

“I’m sorry. Where is Nanamura-san from Class A?”

“He’s standing right there…”


The girl from my class giving the directions appeared confused as to why anyone would ask for me but obviously still pointed straight at me.

Truthfully, I’m glad my classmate didn’t forget who I was and ask, “Who’s that?” first! Hiya, now I can’t get away from this girl. Still, I felt a tinge of warmth spread through my chest when my classmate remembered my name. Perhaps I left a bad impression in this classmate’s heart after the Hoshigasaki incident. Still, it’s better to have your name fall into disrepute than to have none at all. I’m still willing to believe that a bad reputation outclasses being forgotten.

That girl is too shocked by the unexpected answer. She froze on the spot. However, she immediately recovered and tugged the bottom of my uniform.

“Don’t you go anywhere!”

“Hey, don’t tug me that hard.”

“You’re Nanamura-san! Why did you lie so calmly!?”

“It’s because I can sense that something troublesome will happen. This is proper self-defense.”

“I don’t understand! Sheesh, you just ruined my rhythm…”

“Well, I’m the same.”


“You stopped me when I was preparing to go to the library. My rhythm is ruined as well. So, you tugging at me and my lie cancel out.”

“How does this cancel it out? Fine, I’ll admit that I was wrong for tugging at you.”

Regrettably, she won’t be tricked into leaving so easily.

But my plan really has been interrupted. A loner’s life is always one of calmness and peace without any unexpected events. So, being coerced by others normally stresses me out.

Even though there are always plots in light novels where the FMC calls the MC out during the holidays, in real life this is just a pain. If I’m thinking of chilling in the house and reading and someone calls me out, I always try to find an excuse not to go. Even just getting a text on Line interrupts my rest when I’m lazing around at home.

I’m so bad at dealing with people.

…Well, I’ll just keep all of this to myself. It’s not going to help me out even if I tell this girl about it. As for the person in question, she’s giving me an intense stare while I remain entirely silent. After a while, she seemed to give up and sighed.

“Anyway, I’m Hinata Kadotani from Class F.”

“Oh, …no, I don’t recognize the name. Who are you?”

I don’t know her even after her self-introduction. Eh? Is she an acquaintance of mine during middle school? Or even elementary? But if I don’t remember her, it proves that she’s a stranger.

My mind is filled with questions. As for Kadotani, she answered me with a chic smile.

“I’m Sora’s friend. Sora Hanamitsuji. You must be familiar with her, right?”

“Ahh, her friend?”

Come to think of it, the only person I know in Class F is Hanamitsuji. After she brought up the name, I finally remembered that sometimes I could see a girl with a ponytail in Hanamitsuji’s group. It’s just that I really don’t remember what the group members all look like.

Kadotani got slightly closer after seeing my reaction.

“I want to talk to Nanamura-san.”

“Eh, what?”

“Except, there are too many people here. Why don’t we go somewhere quieter?”

Kadotani put her hand on her chin. What she just said really excited a high school boy’s fantasy, whether he wanted it to or not.

A guy and a girl go to a quiet spot, like behind the school building or the gym. Obviously, what’s going to happen there is a confession…

This is just my fantasy, no matter how healthy a high school boy I am.

A pie won’t just fall from the sky, you know?

No matter how often this occurs in rom-coms, conflating reality with fiction is just stupid. It makes you vulnerable, perhaps people will start having a laugh at my expense. “Look at how excited you were when Hoshigasaki asked you to come to her house.” Of course, inconvenient facts like this that can be used against me must be enthusiastically ignored.

“Fine, where are we going?”

“Follow me.”

I listened to Kadotani and let her lead the way. I feel like girls have kept interrupting my routine and taking me places recently. …It would seem a good thing, but they are all here to give me trouble. Did I do too many good or bad things in my previous life? It’s hard to say.

After a while, we arrived at the back of the Club Building.

The sports clubs’ training in our school isn’t that intense. We don’t have those admirable clubs that practice during lunch as well. This is the ideal location for people who want to talk in secret.

…Come to think of it, Hiiragi’s always been the one who’s been next to me whenever I’ve been taken to quiet spots like the little used stairs and behind the gym recently.

I see. This is why I need to avoid people. Unbelievable. After that, Kadotani suddenly became a person who uses force instead of words in my eyes.

“Kadotani, let’s search for a way to solve this problem peacefully, okay?”

“Ha? What do you mean? I don’t understand…?”

From her reaction, it looks like Kadotani won’t physically harm me. Either that or she’s saying, “You think you can get away at this point?”

She turned around and faced me. Kadotani took a deep breath and spoke up.

“Actually, I want to talk to you about the rumors.”

“…Ahh, about that.”

The rumors have died down recently, so I just swept it out of my brain. There were rumors about Hanamitsuji and me when we were on the trip.

Kadotani continued calmly.

“Were you really with Sora during the trip?”

“Ahh, yes. I think it caused some rumors too.”

“I asked Sora about it. She said Nanamura-san saved her, but it caused weird rumors. She apologized for causing trouble for you.”

“I see.”

That girl said something like that? Even though she complained about me grabbing her, she did feel bad for me. Well, we both made mistakes that day. There’s no need to mind it at all.

Kadotani suddenly lowered her head while I was thinking about that. I was confused. Her expression and tone are incredibly sincere, even if I can’t see her face.

“First of all, I have to express my gratitude. Thank you for saving Sora.”

“…Why is Kadotani the one to thank me?”

“I was in the same group as Sora. I didn’t manage to get her to stay when Sora asked to leave. …she wouldn’t have run into trouble like that if I forced her to stay with the group.”

I see. In other words, Kadotani blamed herself for not protecting Hanamitsuji since they were in the same group during the trip. That’s why she’s thanking me.

“I see, but it was just a coincidence that I saved her.”

“Even so, I appreciate you, Nanamura-san.”

“O-Oh, …don’t worry about it?”

She sincerely showed her gratitude. My heart is getting a workout. I’m completely unused to receiving compliments of any kind.

How should I react at times like this? I don’t know. It’s bad to be too humble. Being too proud won’t do either. Is there a suitable response? …At this point, Kadotani raised her head.

Kadotani’s aura had changed completely. She’s staring at my face right now.

I guess she doesn’t just want to express her gratitude.

“Is there something else?”

“There’s one thing I hope Nanamura-san can do.”


What is she going to tell me? …Don’t tell me this is a real confession? The rejected possibility resurfaced again. Hiya, hiya, it’s impossible…

However, it’s actually not impossible. …My mind started racing, my thoughts jumping from left to right.

My body turned stiff as Kadotani stared at me. She spoke up in an incredibly serious tone.

“Can you break up with Sora?”


My voice sounded briefly and then cut out behind the Club Building.


It’s been a few hours since my conversation with Kadotani.

I’m at the usual family restaurant.

Hanamitsuji is holding a cup of iced tropical tea in front of me. She listened to me with a look of exhaustion on her face.

“…and that happened. What’s wrong with that Kadotani girl?”

“I got it. Sorry, Hinata really bothered you…”

Obviously, I told Hanamitsuji about what happened between Kadotani and me.


Our conversation continued after that. Kadotani is worried about how Hanamitsuji and I got closer after the trip.

Recently, she can see Hanamitsuji chatting with me on Line occasionally. Indeed, we texted each other a while ago to calm the rumors and talk about the Bunjitsu work.

That’s why Kadotani suspected that we were indeed close.

Of course, I emphasized that Hanamitsuji and I aren’t like that. She believed what I said as well.

However, Kadotani asked me about what happened to Hoshigasaki. She asked me whether Hanamitsuji was tricked by me.

However, I couldn’t spill the truth, so I remained silent. Then, Kadotani’s face immediately stiffened. It couldn’t be helped. No one wants a guy who loves shoving light novels into a girl’s school bag to talk to their friends.

“The enemy of girls…!”


Even though this is retribution for my involvement, it hurt my heart when a girl I had just met said that to me. I’m not, alright? The so-called enemy of girls shouldn’t be used to refer to a loner like me, but boy bands and YouTubers instead! I really wanted to scream out all of my biases.

Although I didn’t know whether she sensed my depression, Kadotani left me with a warning. “Please refrain from approaching Sora.”


That’s what happened.

Hiiragi also warned me not to approach Hoshigasaki as well. A lot of people hate me now. I want to cry. I hope something good can happen in my next life.

Although I managed to deal with Kadotani for now, Hanamitsuji and I already met in the family restaurant every Monday before the trip. The troublesome part is that Kadotani’s worries aren’t all misplaced.

“I couldn’t pretend that I knew nothing about what she was talking about. That’s why I told her we just chatted because of the rumors. That isn’t a lie, right?”

“Thanks, I still bothered Nanamura-kun in the end…”

It’s rare to see Hanamitsuji listen to me so calmly. It looks like she was already aware of Kadotani.

“What happened between Kadotani and you?”

“We’re normal friends. …No, we were supposed to be normal friends.”

“That means you two aren’t normal.”

I can tell there’s a deeper meaning in Hanamitsuji’s words. She finally gave up and explained her relationship with Kadotani.


Kadotani is a member of the Hard Tennis Club. They were good friends in her previous high school life.

This time, Hanamitsuji still wanted to befriend her. When school started, she enthusiastically forged a deep bond with Kadotani.

Hanamitsuji has experience from last time. So she knows everything about Kadotani, whether personality or hobbies. This made them good friends in basically no time.

It’s just that she made one miscalculation.

Kadotani has grown way too fond of Hanamitsuji.

“I feel like she really, really loves me.”

What Hanamitsuji said can probably hype up an otaku into yuri. However, her expression looks very strange right now.

Even though otakus want two girls to kiss as soon as they meet, actual girls won’t immediately be conscious of each other even after getting closer. Kissing is, of course, impossible.

However, I feel like girls are always closer compared to boys. They often have skinship. I can always see girls sitting on a chair and then another girl sitting on her in the classroom. If guys have to replicate this scene, perhaps the difficulty is higher since there’s something between our legs.

I don’t know whether Hanamitsuji can tell that I’m fantasizing about yuri scenes from the look on my face but she quickly added.

“Of course, Hinata thinks of me as a friend. She just loves me very much as a friend, okay!? Uh, she doesn’t think of me as a lover. We’re just friends. Well…”

“It’s just that her feelings are way too heavy?”

I questioned Hanamitsuji when she stuttered. Her reaction made me believe that I was right. However, she quickly waved her hands in denial of her acknowledgment of what I had said. She continued.

“Ugh, …no, it’s not like I think this is a pain, okay? I-It’s just that she sends a little too many Line messages. I don’t know why she always wants to use face cam whenever we’re on a call. She bumps into me a bit too often near the shoe shelves when going to school. I also don’t know why she always follows me to the entrance before going to her club. She always asks me out on Saturday or Sunday. That’s really all.”

“Okay, I got it. That’s already scary enough.”

“I-It’s not scary…”

Hanamitsuji clearly lacks the confidence to admit it but it looks like she agrees this is a bit terrifying as well.

Come to think of it, lately, Hanamitsuji always has a troubled look when she’s on the phone, whether when we were in Hoshigasaki’s house or during the Bunjitsu meeting. Perhaps this is due to Kadotani’s text bombing.

Kadotani glued herself to Hanamitsuji. So, naturally, she’s concerned why a guy like me is messaging Hanamitsuji. That’s why she went out of her way to warn me too.

“I’ll go ahead and ask this. Was Kadotani like this last time?”

“I would’ve distanced myself from her if she was. We were really just normal friends last time.”

“So, Hanamitsuji did something wrong this time.”

“Yes, …I feel like I’m going too deep into Hinata’s heart.”

Hanamitsuji mumbled with an exhausted expression.

From what I’ve heard, I imagined Kadotani’s and Hanamitsuji’s high school life up to this point.

She just got into high school. She’s worried that there aren’t any acquaintances in her class.

Then, a classmate always tries to talk to her.

For some reason, this classmate quickly understood and accepted her favorite things, hobbies and personality.

It’s not just that. This classmate even guessed favorites that she hadn’t revealed yet and said, “I think you’ll like this.”

…That makes sense. No wonder she can’t leave you.

Kadotani could never imagine that Hanamitsuji already knew her previously and had experience as a friend of hers too.

Being friends with the same person in her second high school life does seem like fate. Perhaps this can be a “saving a friend who died in an accident in her previous high school life” fiction.

“Ha, …I didn’t expect to be like this with Hinata.”

“Do you hate her being so clingy?”

Hanamitsuji didn’t answer right away. However, she doesn’t seem to be holding back for Kadotani’s sake either. Instead, I think she’s thinking of a more appropriate answer than a simple yes or no.

She sipped some of her drink and slowly explained.

“Hmm, actually, I don’t think she’s too annoying. It just gives me a close friend feeling when she’s normal.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

The answer is vague. I crossed my arms and looked at Hanamitsuji.

“…The closer Hinata is to me, the fewer choices she has.”

“What does that mean?”

“Previously, I wasn’t Hinata’s only friend. Not only did she have other friends, but she also loved her club too. I was just a part of her life. However, Hinata is spending way too much time on me this time. I’m starting to worry about how she’s doing on other things.”

“Oh, …I see.”

I finally understand what Hanamitsuji meant.

This time, perhaps Kadotani still has friends other than Hanamitsuji. However, the most important person in her heart is Hanamitsuji. But, since she knows what Kadotani was like last time, she thinks she has killed the relationships that Kadotani could’ve constructed.

This girl is thinking about some troublesome stuff.

“I know I’m thinking about something troublesome.”

She said that as if she read my mind. I looked at her.

Hanamitsuji is drinking iced tea and looks tired. There’s a lot less liquid in the cup now. I bet only half-melted ice cubes will remain soon.

“Sigh, …the stress really piles up when I’m frustrated.”

“You sure have it rough-”

Hanamitsuji listened to me and sighed. Her lips curled down in dissatisfaction.

“I know this has nothing to do with you, but can’t you think about this for me?”

“It’s hard even if you say that. I was really thinking, …nevermind, I shouldn’t say it.”

“Bruh, don’t leave me on a cliffhanger. Say it.”

Even though I think I shouldn’t say it, I can’t help it if she urges me.

“It’s actually not that big of a deal. I’m just thinking that even though Hanamitsuji always scolds me about making friends, now it’s you that made a mistake when dealing with your friend. How interesting is that?”

“You’re the worst! The worst in the world!”

“I know. That’s why I didn’t want to say it.”

Even I feel that I’m the worst. However, I can’t deny that I feel lighter after learning about Hanamitsuji’s blunder.

After all, as perfect as Hanamitsuji in her second high school life is, she still makes miscalculations. If that’s the case, it’s not strange for me to keep messing up.

I’ve recently started thinking about how many people can even have a perfect high school life.

Hanamitsuji messes up too. Hoshigasaki doesn’t want others to know she’s an otaku. I’m a loner. If high school life is all about failure, then in a sense, being lonely is just another instance of high school students.

Hanamitsuji’s eyes are full of resentment. She sighed, put her hands on her cheeks, and changed the topic.

“Anyway, Nanamura-kun, you let Hoshigasaki-san’s brother read your novel when we were in her house earlier, right? What brutal comments did you receive in the end?”

“Are you so sure that it was brutal?”

She’s exactly right, but can’t Hanamitsuji show her kind side a bit more? Think about it. Didn’t we construct an imperfect friendship during the trip? …Don’t tell me that didn’t count.

“At which point did he say it’s boring?”

“It’s not that clear cut. It’s just that he tried to change the topic when I asked him for feedback. They are really siblings.”

“Hoho, interesting.”

“He even said it was sincerely boring but that it’s amazing that I can already write so much.”

I tried to retain an emotionless face when I said that. However, Hanamittsuji looks like she’s about to burst into laughter. Her shoulders are shivering.

“Pfft, haha, …ahaha! Even his thoughts are the same as Hoshigasaki-san.”

“Hey, don’t laugh. I’m crying inside, you know?”

“Sorry, it’s too funny. …Well, aren’t novelists, creators, and athletes always subject to criticism? Why don’t you train your mind right now?”

“Seriously? My mental strength has already skyrocketed from spending time with Hanamitsuji…”

“No need to thank me.”

“But my mind is almost at its breaking point.”

“It’s fine. I’ve heard that muscles only grow after being torn apart. Also, I feel much better after laughing so hard.”

“Am I your punching bag now?”

When I took a sip of my cola it had already lost its fizz, I chugged it in frustration.

Whatever. What I said was kind of mean as well. I can forgive her for a trivial thing like this. Also, I should think twice before picking on Hanamitsuji.

However, there’s something I should say to her. Relationships are constructed out of mutual respect, after all.

“You know, I may be Hanamitsuji’s punching bag but it’s not like I’ve not been thinking about this at all. Isn’t there a better way to describe our relationship?”

Hanamitsuji pondered my question.

“Hmmm… I’m using your talent appropriately?”

“No! Please don’t discover talents like that!”

Also, what I wanted to say was “have a sense of propriety”. Sigh, I’ll admit that it was a dumb question.


On Wednesday, our homeroom teacher shouted for everyone’s attention at the start of the assembly.

“Alright, pay attention, everyone. Today’s the start of exam week. All club activities should take a break. Everyone should know the scope by now. Remember to study hard-”

As if on cue, the guys in sports clubs started cheering “Yeahhhh!” Everyone already knew the schedule beforehand, but they seem to be in consensus that now is the moment to scream.

You guys are so happy whenever clubs take a break. Then why just not join any of them in the first place? Well, but it’s not that simple.

It’s tiring to keep up with club activities, even for competitive people. I’d also feel pretty bored if I just read light novels and manga without a break. I’d like to do something else.

That said, I don’t have any hobbies worth mentioning. The most I manage is taking naps or chatting with Satsuki to kill time.

Also, some people are not into the club activity itself but just want to hang out with friends. To them, the most important time is after the club ends. Honestly, Higashidani’s sports clubs are pretty weak. Students who want to take club activities seriously probably have to stay back a year.

The cheers in the classroom haven’t died down after the assembly is over. Everyone is chatting and laughing with their friends.

“Hey, you up for karaoke?” “There’s no way we can study there.” “It’s fine. Whoever’s not singing can study with BGM.” “People will die from the noise if we all sing in the same room.”

“Where are we going?” “We’re studying at Miho’s house.” “I’m going too-” “Well, should we go shopping for clothes on the way? I want to buy new summer clothes!”

“The Science Room is full. Let’s go to the arcade.” “Didn’t you fail your math in the mid-terms?” “Who said we can’t study in arcades? We can calculate how many 100-yen coins we’ll receive in exchange for a 1000-yen bill.” “That’s mental arithmetic instead of math, right?”

I perked up my ears and listened in on their conversations. Whether it’s sports clubs, cultural clubs or Going Home Club, it’s clear they have no intention of studying at all. All of them are just thinking about playing with studying as an excuse. I guess they are fighting over who has the most interesting idea.

I constantly see study meetings before the exam in light novels too. However, I’m deeply suspicious of its effectiveness.

Let’s think about it. Do you think a group of good friends can quietly concentrate on their reference books and textbooks and actually study?

They are guaranteed to stop and start trying to find something fun to do. Even when I’m never invited to a study meeting, I can understand such simple logic.

As a senpai in life who went 3 years back in time, I want to warn all of you, “You’ll lose motivation when you turn into a third-year if you don’t start studying now.” However, I don’t take my studies seriously either, so I’m not really in a position to lecture others.

Although there’s this “loners study because there’s nothing to do” trend in light novels, it actually varies from person to person. I want to say that hard working loners would still study even if they had friends.

Well, at least I’ve never thought, “Hey, no one’s inviting me out. Let’s study.” I normally kill time with light novels, manga or sleep.

A busy loner doesn’t have time to learn.

You can also say that I’m so busy being a loner that I don’t have time for friends.

That sounds good, right?

In the first place, the goal of exams is to check how much students understand. Isn’t it wrong to go out of your way to study for an exam? Lazing around after cramming to get a good grade only hurts you in the end. Shouldn’t we use our honest ability to face exams and reality?

In conclusion, studying for an exam is living in a fool’s paradise. The most sincere and natural attitude is to show my actual talent on a test.

…This conclusion makes so much sense that I ignored the cheers in the classroom and headed home. That said, I would still go home even if my conclusion was, “I should prepare for the exam.”

In the end, no one’s going to invite me anyway. All I can do is return to base.

As I’m walking in the corridor my phone suddenly vibrated. I was puzzled, but it was just Hanamitsuji texting me.

<Can you come to the family restaurant today?>

<I’m busy.>

<You got something to do?>

<It’s exam week. I need to study.>

<You can’t stay concentrated for long, anyway.>

<Don’t underestimate my effort. All of the Ninomiya Sontoku statues will be changed into mine in the future!>

 <The Ninomiya Sontoku statue in our school is already a natural memorial.>


It looks like climate change wreaked havoc on the statues too. Well, I’ve never seen a real Sontoku statue though. The impression that there’s a Ninomiya Sontoku statue in my elementary school just comes from horror novels in the library and Chibi Maruko-chan.

The Ninomiya Sontoku statue looks like a child lowering his head and studying with piles of firewood on his back. Their reason for building these statues is to spread the mindset that studying while helping around the house is amazing (I think).

Another Line text came through while I was thinking about that.

<Anyway, come here if you have nothing to do. We’re having a study meeting here.>

Oh, wow, this invitation came at just the right time! But I just made up my mind that I’m against study meetings.

<Did Hanamitsuji even consider how effective study meetings are?>

<Shut up, come here. It’s going to be fun.>

She didn’t give me the chance to debate. She even said it’ll be fun. It’s clearly not studying, right?

I sighed and checked the weather. Luckily, it’s not raining. I can go to the restaurant on my bike.

Sheesh, am I spoiling Hanamitsuji too much these days…?

Spending this much time with her seems to be going against the principles of a loner.


Around an hour later, 4 people gathered in the old spot.

Hanamitsuji, Hoshigasaki, Shiramine, and me. It’s the same faces from when we discussed how we should stop the rumors.

When I arrived, they had already placed each of their glasses, notebooks, papers, textbooks, and documents on the 4-seat table.

“Why are Hoshigasaki and Shiramine here too?”

“It’s a study meeting. The more, the merrier.”

I asked Hanamitsuji quietly. She looked very surprised as if I had said something weird.

“Is it…?”

I mumbled. As for Hoshigasaki, she sat even closer to Hanamitsuji and answered with a bright smile.

“Of course! Right, Sora-chan?”

“I feel like I said something wrong when Hoshigasaki-san agrees.”

“That’s mean!”

Shiramine smiled wryly as she looked at the two joking with each other and ordered me:

“Alright, sit down too. You look like a waiter waiting for our order.”

“…Yeah, sure.”

I just judged study meetings to be absolutely meaningless, yet here I am now. Laughable. Well, but not that I can do anything about it now. So, I sat next to Shiramine.

At the same time, Hoshigasaki pressed the call bell. A noise sounded in the restaurant.

“Nanamura, you want drinks?”


“We were planning to order fries too, but the table would be too small if we ordered first.”

Shiramine said calmly next to me.

“Shiramine, when did you get so close to them?”

“I’m not really. Hoshigasaki-san invited me here.”

“Yep, I think it’s better to have more smart people in a study meeting.”

“I have no reason to reject when the no.1 in class, Nanamura-kun, is here. Also, even the top of our grade is here too, Hanamitsuji-san.”

“I was just lucky.”

Hanamitsuji said that with a humble face. This girl was already an elite student last time. She got no.1 this time because her starting line was way ahead after going back.

However, I got first place in class because of this as well. Previously, I was just floating around the average. Perhaps I’m the one who received the most benefit from going back in time.

I put down my school bag and stood up after telling the waiter I wanted drinks. After I got some cola, the three girls paid full attention to their notebooks and question banks. They are studying for real. I thought study meetings were filled with lazy people. However, unexpectedly, these three are studying hard for the exam.

So, I reluctantly took out my textbooks and papers and placed them on the table. It’s against my principles to study during exam week. But…

The sound of automatic pencils stroking against the papers is really gentle. I can also hear pages being flipped and occasional chatter.

“Sora-chan, this question…”

“This one? The method is included here.”

“Wow, you’re right! Thanks.”

“Hanamitsuji-san, can you teach me as well?”

“Of course! Where? Ah, this has at least one solution between -2 and -1…”

Hoshigasaki and Hanamitsuji exchanged words quietly. Both soon returned to their work. As for me, I’m reading the textbook about modern society dazedly. It’s about the formation of capitalist and socialist economies.

Hanamitusji finished explaining shortly after. Shiramine exhaled in awe.

“I see. You make it pretty easy to understand.”

“No worries.”

“The top in our grade is really something else. You really know a lot about this unit. …It’s almost like a senpai is teaching me.”

“A-Ahaha, that’s ridiculous. Sheesh.”

Shiramine touched upon something dangerous the moment she spoke up. As for Hanamitsuji, her face twitched as she answered her with a smile. To Hanamitsuji, the first-year material must be a piece of cake, right?

By the way, Hanamitsuji and Shiramine seem to be close. Even though they were a bit stiff when we met last time, the two are doing alright today from what I see. It’s a relief.

Actually, I worried whether this group of people would isolate Shiramine, but that doesn’t seem to be the case now. Come to think of it, while Shiramine isn’t an extrovert, she’s good at socializing. My worries are unnecessary.


Wait, aren’t I the one being isolated right now?

Even though the three girls are exchanging suggestions and focusing on studying, how come I’m the only one reading textbooks silently?

No, it’s good to be quiet during a study meeting, but what’s the point if I come here and not say anything?

Come to think of it, this is a girl-girl-girl-me study meeting. I’m obviously the excluded one. A group of girls is ruined by a guy like me and forms this “3 girls 1 dude” scene. The girls will be relatively close in this case.

If I did help Shiramine to get closer to the other two, wouldn't I be a lubricant of relationships now? Should I brag about this during future job interviews?

“Your face has been looking pretty weird for a while now. What’s wrong?”

Shiramine looked at me confusedly while I was thinking about that. She said my face looked weird, but that’s how I look.

“It’s nothing. I just didn’t expect a gal to take her studies seriously.”

“Why are you talking about me now!? I-I do study.”

“But, you know, isn’t there this cliché plot in school light novels? There’s always a person who sucks at studying when a few people are in a study meeting. The said person then always fusses about not wanting to study, and the surrounding people have to bait them into it.”

“I know what you’re trying to say! But I do study usually, alright?”

“Don’t pretend to be an elite student and ruin your gal setting…”

“I’m not pretending! While my grades aren’t good in high school, I was smart in middle school!”

Despite everything, Hoshigasaki still got into Higashidani High School, which is very academics-oriented. Perhaps she wasn’t lying.

“But, seriously, I’m surprised to see how hardworking Hoshigasaki-san is.”

“Ehh! Even Prez too!? I came here after rejecting Yuria’s invitation to go sing karaoke, alright?”

Yuria should be Hiiragi’s first name. Even though I never had the chance to say this name, I remember it after dealing with her a few times.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go with them? You two are friends, right?”

“Hiya, I just want to study now. Yuria and I are both in the Going Home Club. We can go to karaoke after exam week is over.”

“Hoshigasaki-san knows.”

Hanamitsuji said that sarcastically. I agreed with her.

“Look, I have a relatively fabulous appearance. Mom will be mad at me if my grades are poor. That’s why I take my studies seriously.”

Ehehe, Hoshigasaki-san laughed in embarrassment. This girl is more serious than I thought.

At least she sounds more like an elite student than I do. I’m really sorry for having a bias based on your appearance.

“Come to think of it, that’s the same look Kouya-san had when we visited Hoshigasaki-san’s house.”

I nodded in agreement after Hanamitsuji said that. Kouya-san’s and Hoshigasaki’s appearances seem to be in the same style.

“Yeah, I guess onii-chan played a big part in my fashion sense.”

“I see. You’re influenced by a man.”

“That’s pretty mean, Nanamura!?”

We were in the midst of chatting when I snapped out of it. The study meeting had come to a pause. I checked the time. It’s already been 30 minutes. It’s a bit too quick, but I don’t dislike taking a break.

A relaxing aura radiated between the 4 of us. I drank some cola and spoke up.

“I still don’t understand the point of a study meeting.”

The three girls looked at each other and laughed before I could even finish my sentence.

“Hoho, …yeah, that’s just who Nanamura-kun is.”

“Oi, what does that mean?”

“It’s nothing. We just talked about how Nanamura-kun probably hates study meetings.”

“I feel like you probably think, ‘There’s definitely no meaning in studying with friends. Studying alone is obviously more effective.’”

“Prez made it really easy to understand!”

Hanamitsuji knew what I was thinking while Shiramine did a perfect imitation. They completed the picture for Hoshigasaki. Am I that easy to read?

“Wait, I’ve been to many study meetings too. I’ll dash over to any study meetings even when I’m not invited.”

“You’ll only be a nuisance, right?”

I said something dumb to defend myself. Hanamitsuji silently ignored me.

As for me, I can feel contempt in Shiramine’s eyes.

She dropped an “Honestly, you can’t go to study meetings without friends.” That’s brutal. I mean, she’s right, but she really doesn’t mince her words.

“Shiramine, didn’t we promise to not talk about this?”

“I don’t remember promising that to you.”

Shiramine said that pointedly. Hoshigasaki raised her voice exaggeratedly in front of her.

“Ehh!? Nanamura, you really haven’t been to any study meetings!?”

“Don’t underestimate me. I did once.”



“…What should we do, Sora-chan? I feel really bad for Nanamura.”

“There’s nothing we can do.”

Hanamitsuji closed her eyes and shook her head. Her reaction made me feel unusual for not going to any study meetings.

…Eh? Don’t tell me I’m really the weird one here?

After that feeling appeared, I started thinking about whether I should participate in a study meeting, even though I hate it. Did I… go to activities like this before…?

So, after racking my brain, I finally searched for an antique piece of memory at the periphery of my brain.

“Eek, yes! I did go to a study meeting before!”

I was excited. Hoshigasaki’s eyes bulged in shock.

“Ohh! Someone’s nice enough to accept Nanamura!”

“Hey, don’t just think that I was pitied!”

I looked into the distance and announced that nostalgic event.

“I was in the third year of my middle school back then. It was a weekend during winter. The midterm exam was right around the corner. I went to the nearby café to study and change my mood.”

It was a Komeda chain café store in front of the station closest to my house. They always give you a small plate of snacks when you order a cup of coffee. When I was a middle school student, I felt pretty good when studying somewhere other than at home. At that time, a drink and some manga were enough to make me feel I had come to an amazing place.

By the way, even though this happened 3 years ago, it’s only been half a year in this world. This is already from a long time ago to me.

“I walked into the store feeling refreshed and sat at a table. The first thing I did was order a melon soda.”

Then Hoshigasaki tilted her head and interrupted me.

“Wait? There wasn’t anyone with you?”

“I was there alone, of course.”

“Please help him out, Sora-chan. His situation is dire, alright!?”

“I can’t do anything. The patient is Nanamura-kun after all.”

I ignored Hoshigasaki’s irritating words and continued my story.

“At that time, I heard some faint and weird noises behind a screen…”

“It’s getting intense!”

“I secretly looked in the noise’s direction. It was actually my classmates sitting behind me. We were just a screen apart. Also, they were a normie group with guys and girls.”

“Nanamura-kun, do you only have stories that other people don’t want to hear?”

Even though Hoshigasaki kept responding to me, she’s leaning on the sofa like a slime right now. As for Hanamitsuji, she’s pressing the spot between her eyebrows with her forefinger.

Are these people not following the story? Even though the next part is the best bit.

“Although I felt incredibly awkward back then, they would definitely look down on me if I just finished the melon soda at lightspeed and left. So, I had to stay there until they left.”

“Please just admit defeat, alright…?”

Shiramine raised her head and looked at me. Her eyes are full of disdain, but I won’t stop here.

“After that, I paid attention to my studies for 3 hours. They had already left when I snapped out of it, and I could finally go home. Do you know how good I felt back then? I felt like I had just won everything. Isn’t this it? A group of people studying in the same space generally counts as a study meeting, right?”

I puffed up my chest and gave a chic look. The three girls leaned their heads together with tired expressions. After a moment of conversation, they raised their heads and stared at me.

“No.” (x3)


My best moment got rejected so easily. I can’t believe it.

“If that counts, then everyone in the study room counts as being in a study meeting.”

“Yeah, my bad. I shouldn’t look forward to Nanamura saying something interesting about his study meeting.”

“How should we even react to what you said?”

“Yep, I can’t find any reason for a guy like Nanamura-san to be with Sora.”

Wait, even though I just talked about my study meeting experience, I heard 4 servings of disappointment… Huh? 4 people?

The three girls noticed it at the same time as well. They raised their heads and looked at the owner in a sudden voice.

“Why are you here?”

The person standing next to me is the girl who really, really, really loves Hanamitsuji, Kadotani. Her eyes are dead cold. She’s no longer hiding her hostility toward me.

“There’s no club today because of exam week.”

Kadotani’s hair is tied into a tight ponytail. She looked around with her arms akimbo. After that, she spoke up with a face full of dissatisfaction.

“I’m really sorry for interrupting your study meeting, but I have something that I want to ask Sora, Nanamura-san, …and for some reason, Hoshigasaki-san sitting here too.”

“Eek! W-Why me!?”

Hoshigasaki moaned in fear and hugged Hanamitsuji’s arm. Kadotani’s eyes turned even sharper after seeing her like that. I feel dizzy at what I’m seeing right now.

Then, someone kept poking my elbow.

“Are all of your acquaintances girls?”

Shiramine mumbled that quietly. Only I could hear it. I don’t just want to deal with girls too, you know?


After that, Kadotani temporarily returned to her seat. She had been sitting behind me just then. We were just a screen apart.

I didn’t notice her at all. A serious girl is scary…

Kadotani grabbed her school bag and drinks and sat next to Hanamitsuji.

“Well, I’ll leave-”

I ignored everything and stood up. I planned to make this a “4 girls having fun” situation. However, Kadotani grabbed my arm tightly.

“Nanamura-san can’t go yet.”

I’m not happy, even though a girl just touched me. Her grip is so strong that it hurts. Is it because she’s training in the Hard Tennis Club?

“I apologize for my sudden intrusion and for scaring everyone. I’m Kadotani from Class F.”

“Uh, she’s my friend. Yep…”

Hanamitsuji is flanked by both Kadotani and Hoshigasaki. She introduced her apologetically. On the other hand, Kadotani is swimming in joy when Hanamitsuji introduces her as a friend.

“Ehehe, yeah, I’m Sora’s friend.”

After hearing that, Hoshigasaki and Shiramine looked at me. They seemed to be saying, “I don’t mind this, but what’s her relationship with you?”

Sure, you girls can ask that, but I'm not even sure what my relationship with Kadotani is.

“Well, we barely know each other.”

“Nanamura-san is my enemy.”


Let’s ignore what you said first. I don’t remember identifying you as such.

Kadotani hugged Hanamitsuji’s arm. She’s clearly not going to let go. The person being hugged smiled as her face twitched.

“By the way, why is Hinata here?”

“This is not worthy of mentioning. It’s just that I decided to protect Sora in secret after the club came to a pause, and then I came here. Hiya, what a coincidence.”

“How is this a coincidence!?”

Hanamitsuji complained as Kadotani casually revealed her stalking tendency, but she just brushed it off with chuckles.

I’m looking at a person who doesn’t know the line between usual and unusual…

“Hey, Hanamitsuji, think of a way to fix her. Aren’t you her guardian?”

“I’m not! Don’t just make things up!”

“Forget about that. There’s something more important.”

Kadotani decided to put her unusual acts aside. Her face looks like she’s a clean and proper person as she stares at Hanamitsuji and me.

“What’s the relationship between Sora and Nanamura-san? I’ve been observing for nearly an hour. You two are indeed really close. It doesn’t look like you two just met during the trip at all.”


It’s hard to answer her question. We have to go pretty deep if we wish to explain properly.

I raised my head. Hanamitsuji crossed her arms in confusion as she glanced at me non-stop. Do you think I can come up with an excuse with such a simple signal of yours?

After a moment of silence, Kadotani looked at Hanamitsuji sternly again.

“I’m worried about Sora! Perhaps Nanamura-san did help Sora out during the trip. But is there anything good about him aside from that?”

“But it’s also possible that those rumors aren’t true…”

“There’s a reason why people are talking. Perhaps Nanamura-san has some issues of his own. Actually, I can tell that he’s ill-suited for society from your conversation.”

“…I cannot deny that.”


Please don’t just accept it, but even I think I’m not suited to school. Isn’t this pathetic?

“Please, Sora. Wake up. Even though he showed you his good side during the trip, don’t let him trick you! Guys are beasts once you take off their disguises! Please come with me.”

“Don’t just try to make her choose you!”

This girl is more of a beast than I am, right?

Therefore, Kadotani turned to Hoshigasaki, who had just curled herself up into the corner.

“There’s something I still want to know. You are Hoshigasaki-san from Class A, right? I’ve heard that Nanamura-san did something disgusting to you.”

“Ah, well, …yes.”

Hoshigasaki gave up and nodded. She put her hand next to her mouth and mumbled.

“But isn’t this weird? Why are the victim Hoshigasaki-san and the perpetrator Nanamura-san in the same study meeting?”

Hoshigasaki stuttered. I’m also struggling with this terrible development. As Kadotani said, it’s weird for Hoshigasaki and me to be in the same study meeting.

What should I do?

We have to figure out a way to get through this, or Hoshigasaki’s secret will be revealed.

It took me a lot to protect Hoshigasaki in the classroom. It’ll be tragic if all of my efforts are wasted by this one question.

I racked my brain and came up with a proper explanation for this unreasonable situation.

“Kadotani. I’m actually not invited to this study meeting.”

“Huh? What does that mean?”

Kadotani questioned with a confused expression. I raised my finger.

“Like you.”

“What are you talking about? I don’t understand. There’s absolutely no common ground between Nanamura-san and me, right?

“You can still be this arrogant after all that stalking!?”

“The most is that we’re both organic?”

“Both of us took science. There should at least be more similarities, right!? Like how we share 99% of our genes! Also, we are both warm-blooded and breathe with our lungs.”

“What exactly are you two fighting for?”

Shiramine interrupted us dumbfoundedly. That was close. Kadotani almost got me off-topic.

I changed the mood and continued calmly.

“So, I heard Hoshigasaki was holding a study meeting with her friends, and I came here ignoring their rejection. You came here without an invitation, too, right?”

“I’m not. I’m not here for a study meeting. I just followed Sora here and sat behind her.”

“If that’s not a stalker, I don’t know what is.”

“Ugh, …forget about that. If what you said is true, why is Hoshigasaki-san still here?”

“So, this is the moment where Hanamitsuji shines.”


“Hoshigasaki is obviously not comfortable with this, but Hanamitsuji owes me a favor. I’m using Hanamitsuji to smooth over my relationship with Hoshigasaki. So? Aren’t I as dangerous as what the rumors say?”

I exhaled in triumph. Kadotani backed down for a bit. Hanamitsuji looked at me. Her eyes are filled with resentment. As for me, I forced myself to not look at her.

Kadotani has had animosity toward me from the beginning, anyway. I’m just lowering her opinion of me even further now. It’s nothing. I can trick her into forcing me to leave later and go home to chill. I’m so smart.

An ardent voice suddenly exploded in this silence when I came up with this plan.

“Ah, no! I-It’s not like what he said!”

All of us looked in the voice’s direction.

Hoshigasaki stood up from the corner of the seat. Her right hand is on her chest. She looked at us and spoke up again.

“Uh, Kadotani-san. What Nanamura said wasn't true.”

“Hey, stop saying nonsense.”

I quickly interrupted her, but Kadotani ignored me and looked at Hoshigasaki instead.

“Hoshigasaki-san is a victim of Nanamura-san, right? Why are you defending Nanamura-san? What’s going on?”

“Actually, Nanamura-”


I stopped Hoshigasaki when she was about to tell the truth. I signaled her that things would go bad if she continued.

No matter the truth, it’s already acknowledged as a fact that I literally stalked Hoshigasaki in school. Thanks to that, this ended with her interest in light novels remaining a secret. If people learn that’s not the nature of our relationship, the premise will definitely collapse.

Kadotani was about to accept that as the truth. What’s the point of rejecting everything at this stage?

However, Hoshigasaki just kept shaking her head.

“It’s alright, Nanamura. I really appreciate you. Really.”

If she said that, I had no right to interrupt. Hoshigasaki took a deep breath.

“Kadotani-san said Nanamura is my stalker, right? That’s actually not true.”

“…Can you explain?”


After that, Hoshigasaki explained everything. She loves to read light novels. She accidentally brought one to school, everyone found out, and I protected her.

Kadotani and the rest of us didn’t interrupt her. We listened to her.

“That’s everything. I’m sorry for lying to you.”

Kadotani paid attention to what she said. She put her hand on her chin and mumbled.

“I see. This makes more sense.”

“That’s why Nanamura isn’t a bad guy like the rumors said! It’s just that everyone misunderstands him because he helped me to keep my secret. It’s all my fault.”

“Hoshigasaki didn’t do anything wrong. I brought it upon myself.”

Hoshigasaki is blaming herself too much. I interrupted her. I indeed brought it upon myself. I don’t want to see you taking all of the responsibility.

“Well, then why are Sora and Nanamura-san in the study meeting?”

This time, Hanamitsuji gave up and sighed.

“If Hoshigasaki told the truth, I should no longer hide it…”

“You mean what Nanamura-san said isn’t true?”

“Yes, Nanamura-san and I already knew each other before the trip due to circumstances I can’t talk about.”


“So, right now, at least we’re close enough for me to invite him to this study meeting.”

“Uh, so, are you two going out?”

“That’s definitely not true.”

Hanamitsuji said that without hesitation.

I mean, that’s true, and I won’t complain. But didn’t she answer too quickly? …As for Kadotani, she gave me a sympathetic look.

“Don’t mind it, Nanamura-san.”

“That’s a big misunderstanding!”

Being rejected and pitied hurt my heart so much!

“I’m sorry, Hinata. I didn’t explain things to you properly.”

After Hanamitsuji said that, Kadotani quickly flailed her hands around.

“No, no, don’t worry about it, Sora. It’s more like I feel much better now that I know.”

“I’ll apologize and ask you one thing. I hope you can keep this a secret. Whether it’s about Hoshigasaki or me. Please don’t tell others about it.”

“Y-Yes! Of course! I won’t tell anyone!”

Kadotani answered with sportsmanship. She made a promise energetically. Even though she may lose it sometimes, Hanamitsuji and she trust each other.

Then, she turned to me and lowered her head gently.

“I’m sorry, Nanamura-san.”


“I didn’t confirm whether the rumors were true and blamed Nanamura-san thoughtlessly.”

“I’m also at fault for not clearing up the misunderstanding with you. No need to blame yourself.”

“But I did say something really mean to Nanamura-san. …I’m really sorry.”

“I know. We can leave it here. Raise your head.”

Kadotani slowly raised her head and gently smiled. I’ve never seen her like this before. While she does give off a thorny impression, this is how she usually looks, right?

“It looks like Nanamura-san is a kind person. You can’t really judge a book by its cover.”

“The last part is unnecessary, right?”

“Sorry, I’m the type who doesn’t lie.”

“Your explanation is also unnecessary.”

“Anyway, I’m relieved even though Nanamura-san and Sora are close now. Also, you two aren’t lovers, …but don’t you get any bad ideas, okay?”

“Alright, alright.”

Kadotani prepared to leave after saying that. However, Hanamitsuji spoke up and kept her here. “Why not come study with us?”

“C-Can I?”

Kadotani looked at me worriedly. I nodded.

The so-called study meeting is used to get closer to friends half of the time anyway. Now that we have reconciled, it’s not bad to study together.

“Well, I’ll obey rather than respect them. …Ahaha, it’s been a long time since I’ve last studied.”

Kadotani smiled in embarrassment as she put her stationery on the table.


After that, within 10 minutes, I can already judge that Kadotani is so stupid that even Hoshigasaki has to abdicate. From what she said, her class and grade rank can be counted on two hands, starting from the bottom, that is.

…You know, there’s something you should prioritize more than being Hanamitsuji’s stalker. No, it’s not good to stalk people in the end.


We disbanded at 6 PM.

Everyone stopped when we were at the exit. At times like this, it’s hard for us to leave when no one speaks.

After an awkward moment of silence, Kadotani finally spoke up.

“Well, I’ll be leaving. I’m sorry for what happened, Nanamura-san.”

“It’s fine. See you.”

Hanamitsuji, Shiramine, and Kadotani are taking the bus. Hoshigasaki and I watched as they left for the station.

“Well, I have my bicycle.”

“Oh, yeah.”

“See you.”

After that, I turned around. However, I still can’t forget what Hoshigasaki said. I turned to her again.

“…I want to ask something.”


I hesitated and wondered whether I should ask her at this stage. However, Hoshigasaki’s expression is very calm right now. She clearly knows what my question is.

I still struggle with caring for others. However, it’s definitely not right to just pretend nothing happened.

“Why did you tell Kadotani you like light novels? We’ve been keeping it a secret till now.”

Even though Hanamitsuji, Shiramine, and I know it, it was a gamble for her to tell Kadotani. Who knows whether that girl can keep secrets after all.

We could’ve ended it if she had just played along with me and tricked Kadotani. Yet, Hoshigasaki decided to give up this option and told the truth. I still don’t understand the reason behind Hoshigasaki’s action.

Hoshigasaki slowly closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then, she gently put her hands on her chest and closed them.

That looks like a ritual to solidify her determination.

“Nanamura, do you have a moment? There’s a park nearby. Let’s talk over there, shall we?”

I nodded silently.


The sunset is about to fade away into the orange sky. We’re on a narrow path within the residential area now. I’m pushing my bicycle just a few steps behind Hoshigasaki.

“I didn’t know there’s a park here.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty close to my house. I’ve even played here when I was little.”

The park we’re in is indeed not far from Hoshigasaki’s house. I randomly chose some tree shade and put my bicycle there. After that, I sat with Hoshigasaki on a bench under the tree.

There’s no one in this residential park. The vending machine is standing in the corner all alone. Our shadows are being cast on the bench by the sunset.

Phew, Hoshigasaki took a deep breath as if she was containing her nervousness. She looked up at the sky.

I followed her and raised my head as well. The western sky burns like fire, while it’s darker in the east. I can see the color of the universe at the edge.

“Well, where were we?”

“Right, why did you tell Kadotani the truth?”

“This is all because of Nanamura in every way.”


She said it was my fault from the start. I don’t understand. I just said something appropriate to solve the crisis at hand. …Also, what does she mean in every way?

Hoshigasaki didn’t look at me. She mumbled.

“You know, I’ve been a timid person ever since I was little. I’ve said this before as well, right? However, onii-chan is my total opposite. He pulled me up.”

Even though I’m confused by Hoshigasaki’s sudden backstory, I should still listen for the time being.

“I got slightly better at socializing in middle school. With that, I became much more outgoing after entering high school…”

She stopped at this point and touched the ground with the tip of her shoes, the pebbles rustling underneath. This sound is followed closely by her voice.

“At that time, didn’t Nanamura step in to save me when Sakado started trouble? I think this is very important, you know?”

At this point, I still fall into indescribable emotions whenever I think of that. I only helped Hoshigasaki because I went through my last high school life.

It’s because the memory of not helping Hoshigasaki last time is forever engraved into my brain.

It’s still a needle in my heart. Even though this is irrelevant to the Hoshigasaki before me right now, I just can’t control my emotions. Also, I’m not mature enough to kill my emotions with reason.

In the end, I just lied to myself.

“I really brought that upon myself.”

“Ahaha, perhaps.”

Hoshigasaki chuckled and continued.

“I think I could never have done that if I were you.”

I urged her silently. She slowly pressed on.

“Prez is amazing as well. She immediately brought you into her group when Nanamura struggled to find someone.”

Indeed, it’s rare for people to have clear goals and decisively work toward them as Shiramine does. Most people are aimless and unreliable. They just change based on the situation to have an easier time.

“Looking at you two, I always think I can never do things like that.”

I don’t know how I should answer her sincere feelings.

An awkward silence filled the humid park. The quiet calls of the insects formed an ethereal BGM.

After that, Hoshigasaki poured strength into her hands. She clenched her fists on her lap.

“But that’s not all. I want to be like you two.”

Her tone sounds even more determined.

It seems that she isn’t saying that to me. She’s admonishing herself instead.

“Nanamura, you tried to help me today too, right?”

“But you still ended up telling the truth.”

Hoshigasaki laughed in confusion after hearing my answer.

“I was really happy at that time, but I don’t want to be protected like this anymore.”


“Actually, I’ve been thinking about this more and more since I heard the rumors between Sora-chan and Nanamura. I have to change myself!”

This sentence is truly plain and ordinary.

Humans want to deny the status quo and hope for growth. It’s a natural and obvious sentiment. It even seems cliché to bring this up in the modern era. Hoshigasaki must feel the same too.

However, why-

Why did I feel as if I was struck by lightning after hearing what Hoshigasaki said?

Hoshigasaki’s fists clenched even harder.

She must have been like that when talking to Kadotani in the family restaurant, right? This thought appeared in my head.

“Nanamura-san, you tried to paint yourself as a bad person to convince Kadotani-san, right? The same thing would’ve definitely happened again if I had done nothing. I once again felt just how amazing Nanamura is. I can never sacrifice myself for others and give up like that.”

“…That’s all? That’s why you told Kadotani the truth?”

“Yes, I don’t want to be like this anymore. This feeling is so strong that even I’m surprised. I already spoke up before I could even react.”

Hoshigasaki moved her waist and got slightly closer to me.

“Nanamura, do you think I can do it? Do you think I can change myself?”

Her face is painted with a tinge of redness. It caught my eyes in an instant.

“You definitely can, Hoshigasaki.”

She showed a relieved smile after hearing my sincere answer.

“I see. Glad to hear that.”

“…You’re amazing, Hoshigasaki.”

“I-It’s nothing. Right now, I don’t even know how I should change and what I need to do. …Even so, I don’t want to stay like this anymore.”

“I see. I’ll cheer you on.”

I added, “Even though I don’t know if I can be of any help.” Hoshigasaki angrily chided me, “Don’t say that.”

Hoshigasaki stood up. She took a few steps forward before turning back.

“Thank you. I can work even harder after knowing your feelings.”

Hoshigasaki looks incredibly charming under the sunset. I subconsciously closed my eyes.


I bid farewell to Hoshigasaki in front of the park, got on my bicycle, and went home.

I know where Hoshigasaki lives. If we were in a light novel, perhaps I should’ve said, “I’ll walk you home.”

However, it’s quite difficult to say that to a girl in real life. Will she be afraid if I do say that? What if she says, “No, my house is there…”? I would be disappointed for days.

I passed the family restaurant we were just studying in. I rode along the bus line toward my high school. The lights from the vehicles are twinkling in and out across the slightly dim city. It looks like an out-of-season light show.

My feet are pressing against the pedals. The evening air seems to be chipping away all the unnecessary thoughts in my head.

I think I understand now.

In the past, I had always thought that I had to protect Hoshigasaki.

To put it bluntly, she was someone I should’ve been protecting.

Perhaps one of the reasons is that I’ve seen a future where Hoshigasaki dropped out of school. I thought I was someone special. When Sakado and Kadotani were there, I was afraid that the same thing would happen if I didn’t solve the crisis and protect her. I was afraid of not doing anything.

After that incident, I’ve been wallowing in regret for not helping Hoshigasaki in my previous high school life. I was always thinking someone had to protect Hoshigasaki.

I unilaterally limited interpersonal relationships as giving to others.

This is definitely belittling Hoshigasaki’s determination.

Conceited and arrogant.

I couldn’t help but smile bitterly. I suddenly feel overcome with embarrassment.

I’m not a light novel MC to begin with. I’m not even someone who can save others. Come to think of it, I’ve never solved any problems smartly.

In conclusion, it makes more sense for a loner like me to be protected.

I was already near my house when I snapped out of it. The shining decorations of the gift shop near the crossroad brightened up the dark road as if it were a light in the deep sea.

The traffic lights changed and I stopped my bicycle. The pedestrian light at the side just turned green. I’ll be here for a while, right?

I looked at the crossroad dazedly. I remembered Hoshigasaki’s expression when she said, “I want to change myself.”

Her face is full of determination. That’s the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen from her. It has nothing to do with her facial features. It was something from her heart that gave me that feeling.

Hoshigasaki, she can definitely do it.

Her willingness to change is manifested in her heart. Even if I wasn’t there, and even if Shiramine wasn’t there, I think she could definitely have had the same thoughts and developed the same desire sometime in the future.

The traffic lights started sparkling before me.

I held the grip as my feet pressed against the pedals.

I was enlightened when Hoshigasaki said, “I want to change myself.” At that time, perhaps I didn’t truly understand what it means for a person to change.

When I was a loner, I already thought personalities and attitudes were set in stone. That didn’t cause any issues. I identified everyone in my school as humans who aren’t me. There’s nothing wrong with it either. That’s because the more superficial the mistakes are, the less I’m willing to interact with people.

However, now that I know Hanamitsuji, Hoshigasaki, and Shiramine, I can’t carry the same attitude I’ve had previously, right?

Humans do change.

I can’t escape the influence of my surroundings, or I should say it’s something inside my heart. They are all changing constantly.

I can’t treat people as NPCs that give specific reactions after I complete certain actions. No one can guarantee what happens today will be the same tomorrow and the day after.

It’s just like when Hanamitsuji and I argued during the trip. Our mindsets conflicted with each other’s, which caused me to change for just a bit.

The mindsets and emotions in humans who aren’t me vary over time. Also, there can be subjective changes as well.

I finally realized it after hearing what Hoshigasaki said.

The signal changed. I took a deep breath and stepped onto the pedal.

Can everything change in a good direction? I prayed in my heart.

However, the logical part of my brain is clearly aware that life is definitely not that easy.

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