The following day, after classes had ended, Miena and I decided to put the heroine conquest strategy into action, and were now waiting next to the school gate. In order to gain secret information on Himeno Miina, we had to stay on halt until her club activities were over. Miena mentioned that her main body apparently would be taking a detour on the first Friday of the month, something she even kept a secret to her friends…Then again, it’s not really that secret since Miena knows about that for obvious reasons.
(Just focus up already. If the target realizes, then it’s all over!)
The target—Himeno Miina is the ace of the girls badminton club. This is a pretty average school overall, but the girls badminton club is a big charm. After all, Himeno Miina managed to make it into the best four of this year’s girls badminton national Inter High held during summer break, despite being only a first-year. Participating in a national tournament like that apparently was a big success for our school, which is why she received a testimonial on the opening ceremony.
(Only to then fall down the stairs, huh.)
If you’re that good, didn’t you get scouted by a powerhouse school?
(I did receive recommendations, but I wasn’t too interested in any dormitory life. The school trying to scout me had a mandatory dormitory stay attached to it.)
Huh, I didn’t expect that. Since it’s you, I figured you would be able to get along with anybody, and you seemed like you were having fun with your clubmates.
(It’ll make sense once you see who I really am.)
I wonder why? Maybe living in a dormitory would have been troublesome for her in some way. Now I’m curious. But, I’ll surely find out about this in a few hours. Until then, I need to bear with this heat. Even after we moved on to September, the heat outside didn’t change much, as I could feel sweat building beneath my uniform. As if to make it even more warm for me, I heard the passionate voices of the sports club members from the sports grounds. At the same time, the sweet tones of the wind instrument club drifted through the air. I didn’t know which of the two was more passionate.
Normally, around this time, I’d be sitting in my train home, not being boiled alive in this heat. These guys would practice all day, in a place and way I had no chance of knowing. It was an odd feeling, as I saw discrepancies compared to the school I thought I had known. As a member of the go-home club, it felt like I was ostracised. I only know of their results, but never had any interest in the kind of efforts they put in to achieve those.
If you can’t achieve anything, then effort is futile. Considering that, not doing any effort is better, otherwise you’ll just be exhausted. Leave studying and sports to the people who can, and focus only on what you can do. That’s much more efficient. For the world…and yourself.
(What you can do?)
I’m going to search for that from now on. If you’re a ‘Can-do-it-all’ guy, then you have an endless amount of doors open for you, alright. For some average guy like me, this door doesn’t show up that easily.
(It’s not like you can do everything from the start. You need to put effort into it, and then grasp it.)
Not wrong, but some people can’t grasp anything no matter how hard they try. People like me, for example.
(Itsuki-kun, I feel like you’re just giving up without trying.)
Can’t help it. Even after working hard on something, I could see no results. I might have given up on myself, but there’s no problem as long as I don’t trouble others.
(Are results really that important…)
What are you talking about? Even Himeno Miina is working hard right now in order to achieve good results. The ones who can do that are the chosen ones.
(…For what sake am I even working hard at my club?)
Miena turned towards the gym hall, where her real body was probably training right now. I mean, it’s to leave behind good results, right?
(Hmm…I don’t think so. Honestly speaking, it’s probably just hard to say you want to quit. You’d betray parents and friends.)
Eh, it’s that kind of negative reason!?
(That’s just how it is. You’re just pushing your ideals onto me, Itsuki-kun. I’m not as great of a human being as you think I am.)
I’ll be able to see just what you’re talking about in a bit. Can’t tell if I’m excited for it or not, though. Almost as if to respond to my expectations, the chime rang, signaling the end of club activities for the day. So, what are we going to do now?
(If we see my real body at the shoe lockers, we’ll tail her from a bit further away!)
Yeah yeah, tailing, I got it…Wait hold on!? Why are we tailing her!? That just makes me a stalker! Do you want to turn me into a criminal or something!?
(It’s fine, even if a police officer caught you and you get interrogated, just tell them that an imaginary girl told you to do that.)
…You’ll get turned into an insane asylum! Not good.
(As long as she doesn’t find out, there’s no problem. And also not really if she finds out. Today, my real body is probably quite wary and careful of her surroundings, but with your tailing skill, you’ll be fine, Itsuki-kun!)
My tailing skill isn’t that good at all! And yet, Miena formed a fist in front of her chest, brimming with confidence. Why does she look like she’s having so much fun? What we’re doing is absolutely evil.
(I mean, tailing reminds me of some detective drama, you know. Since it’s me we’re tailing, there’s absolutely no guilt either.)
I do feel guilty, you know!?
(I’m not the type who goes crazy because of a bit of tailing, okay.)
Don’t just drop bombshells like that.
(Look! My real body came to the shoe lockers! Hide behind the car over there. From there, you can start tailing her much easier.)
Oh no, the tailing is starting without me even being ready!? Also, isn’t she awfully used to tailing others?
(If anything, I’m good at shaking off people tailing me. I tend to get a bit too much attention from some boys, ever since middle school.)
Well yeah, with that kind of face, I bet you must have it rough. Also, you’re excited to finally be able to be on the tailing side, and not the other way around?
(Exactly! I’m burning up! We need to stay hidden until she gets to her destination!)
…I feel like you’re just using me for your own fun, you know.
(Focus up…Alright, she went past the school gate, we’re starting the tailing now. Keep a safe distance, and hide in the shadows while you’re following her.)
Ms. Stalker was never this motivated before. I however moved carefully, so that I wouldn’t end up in the girl’s view. As for Miena, she was floating behind me, her eyes sparkling in excitement. Of course, there’s no reason for Miena to hide like that, but…And rather than the position between me and the target, what’s going on between me and Miena is much bigger of a problem. I could hear her excited breathing and warmth breathing right next to my ear, and because my imagination skill is far too great, I kept imagining her chest hitting my back even though I didn’t feel anything.
(Oh? Itsuki-kun, finally motivated? You’re excited, right?)
Y-Y-Yeah! I guess! I gave a vague response, and continued the tailing. It seems like Himeno Miina was heading home with friends from the girls badminton club. One, two, three…Four people in total, huh. There’s even Shiraishi-san from class 3 with her. They seem to be talking about something, I’m exceptionally curious. Girls talk on the way home from school sure feels like youth, alright. And I’m spending my youth as a stalker, so who am I to talk?
(I don’t think they’re talking about anything crazy. Complaints at the club advisor, how lame the homework is, or about a popular sweets shop nearby, even the culture festival next month. Something like that, you know.)
I guess it’s not anything crazy for you Miena, huh.
(I would just give random comments to the topic at hand, and give a vague opinion if it was needed.)
Really? From my point of view, it feels like Himeno Miina is the center of that group. And yet, she’s not interested in whatever the conversation topic is? What an irony that is.
(I do think of the topic at hand as boring, but as long as I don’t openly show that, nobody can complain, and nobody will be hurt, right? Hehe.)
That logic sure is annoying, alright. I’ll use that in the future as well. But, you’re not even interested in the culture festival? Rion said she’s busy with the preparations of the tennis club, right. Leaving aside me, it’s pretty surprising that Himeno Miina isn’t interested in that kind of thing.
(I am interested in Rion-chan’s homemade sweets! But, the culture festival itself doesn’t interest me much.)
Seriously? You don’t sound like our school’s idol at all.
(Because I’m not an idol~!)
As we were discussing that, we reached the train station next to the school. The group of four then turned into three, and they boarded the train, taking the opposite way of which I would take to get home. I boarded the train wagon next to the one Himeno Miina and her friends were in. It seems like they were having a mindless conversation. I found it hard to believe that she was simply showing a fake smile to satisfy her friends. Or rather, I didn’t want to.
(Hey now, no talking badly about people. It’s not like everything about it is a lie, and I do like my friends, okay? Also, it’s normal for girls to just probe at each other’s feelings, but not stepping too far, okay. We all ask for superficial joy. I like myself when I hear other people’s problems, and also when I can help them. That’s how you keep a friendly relationship.)
To a mob with zero communication like me, that sounds like it’d be impossible. But, that sounds just like Himeno Miina, I would have no idea she’s feeling that way, looking at her face.
(Don’t say it like that…But, you’re right. I do look like I’m enjoying this a lot more…I’m making such a defenceless smile…)
Having that pointed out, I also felt like something was off. What I saw from her through the first term was a polished and refined atmosphere. At the same time as she was friendly with everyone, it felt like she wouldn’t let anybody get too close. It contradicted itself, but that’s what it felt like to me. Right now however, it looked like she enjoyed talking to her friends from the bottom of her heart……No, it’s a bit different.
(Leaving aside you observing me this closely, you’re right about something. This does feel a bit odd…)
Maybe her train of thought now changed with you gone from her head? All these distant feelings are gone now, and she became a snow white and pure Himeno Miina? So Miena was evil all along!?
(No! I’m the original, and the real deal! S-So why…Sniff.)
Don’t just start crying. Actually, don’t start fake-crying.
(Well, it’ll be faster if you just confirm it yourself. As long as you’re still not sure, you have to continue tailing her, and see my real personality.)
Sorry about that. I tend to make the wrong move as I’m a good-for-nothing. Same as going home is a wrong move at times. Anyway, as I was ridiculing myself, the other two friends of Himeno Miina got off the train.
(They’re living near the train station here. My home is two further stations away.)
Just like the train station I was using to get home, this was a train station with no limited express stops here. The train station where Himeno Miina usually gets off was more like a terminal, which allowed you to get on several terminals, and limited express trains also stopped here…Why do I feel like I lost.
(You’re concerned about the weirdest stuff. I usually don’t take limited express trains.)
The words of the commoner do not reach the royalty, as usual. Our train arrived at the train station that had limited express trains, but Himeno Miina showed no signs of getting off.
(You can stop talking about limited express trains already!)
And then, a large number of people boarded the train. Himeno Miina took a seat in an open space, and just observed the scenery. Since all the other people around her were busy gazing at their smartphones in one hand, Himeno Miina stood out compared to the rest.
(I also look at my phone from time to time. But…something really is off.)
It feels pretty normal from how I know you though?
(That’s what’s weird. Usually, I’d confirm if there aren’t people I know around me. Not to mention that I’m in the middle of the train wagon, so I’m just being careless at this point!)
(Normally, after separating from my friends, I’d move to the very first or last train wagon. On top of that, I would always sit on the furthest end, often even wearing a mask.)
That’s much more unnatural, okay!
(Still, that stupid look on my face…It’s full of openings, did I always look like that? I’m starting to hate myself here…)
After Himeno Miina split up with her friends, she seemed much more peaceful, and relaxed…Cute. To me, it didn’t look stupid at all, but just cute.
(Hmpf. You’re too naive when it comes to me, Itsuki-kun! No, you’re quite strict towards me…but not the real me. Why not show me some of that kindness as well!?)
I don’t like cheating on my beloved one.
(We’re the same person though!?)
While having a bit of banter back and forth, we reached the area that you could call the center of town. After another five minutes of being shaken back and forth inside the train, we reached the next train station.
(Ah, this is it! This is where my real body gets off, so hurry up!)
I frantically looked over at Himeno Miina, and it did seem like she was preparing to head off. I joined her, and continued to tail her.
(My real body doesn’t realize it at all, huh…I’m way too careless. I feel like knocking her down.)
Stop that. Are you already tired of stalking, wanting to move on as a violent molester? Still, that’s a Friday rush hour for you, the train station is crowded with people everywhere. Some even carried large plastic bags in their hands, others with large backpacks weighing them down, all aiming for a destination. At the same time, there were also men and women in suits, probably on the way home from work. If I even looked away from the target for a second, I’d surely lose her immediately. I feel like tailing the target without her finding out would be quite difficult. Also, isn’t this train station…
“We’re a maid cafe that opens tomorrow! Please stop by if you have the time~!”
An energetic maid called out to me, handing me tissues together with a flyer. The building in front of me had a large anime illustration hanging down from it. Vending machines selling toys lined up at the site of the main street in the shadows of the sun. From the stores and establishments around me, I heard familiar anime songs……Hold on, ain’t this Akihabara!?
It’s not like Akihabara, or Akiba for short, is anything out of the ordinary, but it’s more the fact that Himeno Miina supposedly has business here that shocks me. Isn’t this the place exactly opposite of what she would like? I do come here from time to time to shop for something, but I’m not a passionate otaku. I watch new popular anime, but I wouldn’t actually buy the Blu-ray disks. I do buy games from time to time, but only super popular RPGs. I only check into my mobile games for the login bonus. I don’t know any VAs like at all, nor do I have any idols I’m supporting.
What am I even living for then? I’m not an otaku, I don’t study, and I don’t participate in any clubs either.
(I could tell at first glance that you’re not an otaku, Itsuki-kun. No weird goods either.)
Can we just forget about me, and focus on Himeno Miina!? I feel like she’d have a prejudice about this stuff.
(Oho, you’re saying I dislike Akiba?)
What’s that pressure about!? I mean, I feel like you’d probably walk around Shibuya or Harajuku’s shops like the other normies. Beauty shops, sweet shops, you know?
(I do join my friends there from time to time. But as I said just now, I’m not really that interested in that kind of stuff.)
In that kind of stuff? So what about this kind…?
(I absolutely love it!)
Wah! Your character is breaking apart! Also, are you kidding me!? The real personality you mentioned is an otaku!?
(W-Well, that’s…Meow, I want you to look at the real me, meow~)
Pfffft!? Miena raised one hand like a cat’s paw, going meow meow. Despite starting this whole thing herself, she was blushing furiously. How am I even supposed to react?
(You’re so boring~ Don’t worry, I’m not interested in adding meow at the end of every sentence.)
Thanks for telling me, now I can rest in peace. But, I’m still not buying it, alright. Unless I see Himeno Miina buy otaku goods with my own eyes, I will not fall for any slander! I continued following Himeno Miina until she stopped in front of a shop, checked out the display case, and entered.
(This is our goal. We managed to tail her just fine, huh.)
I mixed in together with another customer, entering the shop. Now it’s an infiltration mission. Also, there sure are a lot of people here. Wait, where did Himeno Miina go? Crap, I might have lost her!
(Calm down, this place is split into floors, and she definitely went up to the 5th.)
I followed Miena’s directions, and headed up to the 5th floor, checking inside. Unlike the floors down below, this place wasn’t as crowded, with only like five people in here. Maybe because it’s dinner time on a Friday?
(Yeah, that’s the reason I come here on a Friday. Though there’s also the part of tomorrow being a Saturday.)
I see, makes sense, this being a gal game store after all……….Hold on, what!? Eh, wait, what is going on…I get that you’re interested in otaku stuff, and that you like Akiba as well. B-But, gal games!? All the customers here are guys! They’re all experienced warriors!
……Except, there was a single girl. She was a beauty that made your jaw drop. She looked like a heroine that jumped out of one of the games being advertised here. Except the employee working there, all the other guys were looking at her in shock.
(The employee knows me after all. He’s a nice person, always giving me good recommendations.)
Aha…ahahaha, you’re kidding me, right…There’s no way that my Himeno Miina would be into gal games! She’s supposed to be a pure and delicate idol who has no resistance towards this stuff…
(Way too many points to retort on there. I’m not pure or delicate, nor am I an idol~)
No, you are pure. Weren’t you embarrassed to see me naked when taking a bath?
Ah, I remembered!!
(Ah, you made me remember!!)
Calm down, me! Calm down, this isn’t the time or place to remember that!
(…G-Geez. Just look at my real body now! She’s been staring at the package for a hot minute now. She’s definitely gonna buy that!)
How can you be so sure? There’s always a chance that she’ll buy a game from a different developer. Or, she might go home without buying anything.
(Mom pointed this out before, but whenever I’m anticipating or looking forward to something, I have this habit of raising up the left side of my hair. It’s probably because I’m excited about it. I apparently do it when I’m at a checkpoint during badminton. And now, I’m lifting up my hair again.)
Now that’s some juicy personal information nobody else knows! Watching Himeno Miina from afar, just as Miena had guessed, she took the package to the cash register.
(I was planning on buying that game for a while now. So, after going back and forth, I finally made up my mind to buy it today.)
H-Huh…So, why didn’t you buy it last month?
(I couldn’t come here because of the Inter High. I held back for two months, you know. If I hadn’t participated in the Inter High, I might have been able to enjoy my summer break to the fullest. Ahhh, I wanna hurry and play it!)
Are you really comparing Inter High to a gal game right now? …Maybe my common sense is just messed up?
(To think that Itsuki-kun, who isn’t even part of a club, would say something like that, hehe.)
Since it came from the person I thought was enjoying their youth most out of everyone I knew, I was just shocked…So, the reason you rejected a school’s invitation that had mandatory dormitory life…?
(Because I can’t keep playing the gal games I like as openly as I can now.)
Hahahaha…I looked over at Himeno Miina, who bought the game at the cash register, happily smiling.
(Now you must have understood who I really am, right?)
…Yes. Thanks to this entire mess, I realized that this is the real Himeno Miina.
(I’m glad you finally understood not only my real body, but also accepted me right now.)
Still, what a shame, Miena. You won’t get to play that game after all.
While cheering up Miena, I headed to Akihabara station.
Will you cheer up already?
(Waaaah, it’s not faaair! I’ve been waiting to play that game for two months! Why did I even work so hard at the Inter High! Urk…)
Self-fulfillment? To reach a goal you were working hard for? Something like that?
(That follow-up actually has no pervasiveness at all. That’s a go-home club member for you.)
She spit harsh words at me that held no power at all. I’ve been meaning to ask, but if you go back to your main body, which Himeno Miina will result from that?
(Which Himeno Miina…Both are me, so nothing will change. All I know is that the transparent me will disappear from your side.)
What about your memories? What will happen with the memories you gained during that time?
(I’ll probably inherit the memories? I never went through this before, so I wouldn’t know.)
That means the memories of the main body will remain as well, right? Then, there’s no reason to be frustrated that you couldn’t play the gal game, right, Miena?
(You might be right, but again, I have no way of knowing how the whole inheriting memories thing works.)
(Hmm? What’s that gloomy face for?)
Well, you know…I know that I’m being a real coward here, but…
(What’s up~? It’s rare for you to be stuck up on words, even towards me.)
Tehe~ I was just thinking that if you return to your main body with your current memories, that means I would be able to freely talk with Himeno Miina, right? Just kidding.
(Yeah, you’re not wrong. If it’s me, then you’re always nervous after all. But at this rate, you still won’t be able to interact with my real body, right?)
So we’re still at zero!? I’m cursed with my low communication skill, seriously.
(Even if you manage to touch me and return me back to normal, we don’t know if my memories will remain. If so, then my real body will probably treat you like a weirdo, and your high school life is over.)
That’s terrifying, alright. I don’t want to lose my high school life this early. It’s barely started. But, more than anything, I think it would be pretty sad if your memories as Miena just went up and vanished.
(Oh my oh my? Have you taken a liking to me? Fufu.)
Miena showed a teasing smile. If this was the real Himeno Miina, she would never show me such an expression. If it was her real body, she would probably treat me like a stranger and be cautious with me around.
Yeah, just like that…Wait no, hold on! Himeno Miina totally spotted me, right!?
(This sure is awkward. I can’t tell who has bad timing here…)
Himeno Miina frantically hid the plastic bag with the gal game behind her back, and fidgeted nervously.
“W-What a coincidence to meet you here. Are you out shopping?”
It totally ain’t a coincidence, but I can’t just confess that I was following her.
“Eh, ah, yes, that’s right!”
For now, I tried to give a vague response, and hide that fact. She managed to regain her calm immediately, smiling at me with a divine smile.
(There’s nothing calm about this! Why is your heart racing as soon as my real body appears!?)
“A friend of mine asked to buy something for them. Since this is the first time I came here, I was quite nervous.”
She emphasized the fact that she definitely wasn’t here because of herself, and that she was here for the first time.
(Grrr…What a blatant lie. Itsuki-kun, this is your chance, we have the advantage!)
“T-This is also my first time…y-y-y-yes!”
(What are you talking about!? Also, don’t just go along with her lie, okay!?)
“Is that so. It’s gotten pretty late, so be careful on your way home. Now then, I wish you a happy weekend.”
Himeno Miina gave a polite bow, and passed through the ticket gate of the train station.
(She ran away!)
She probably wants to play the gal game she bought as quickly as possible…Ahaha.
After I made it home, I sat on the chair in my room, analyzing the situation.
(That just now was your perfect chance, you know.)
Miena sunk down on her personal resting space in my room, namely my bed. How exactly was that a chance…
(You were at the hideout of the heroine you aim to conquer. If you kept on pushing, you might have won her over, or at least raised a flag.)
No no no, wasn’t Himeno Miina feeling uncomfortable because she was seen by me?
(Not wrong, but I always wanted friends I could share my hobby with. If I knew that you’re interested in gal games, I would have latched on so quickly.)
Seriously? If I had known about that beforehand, I would have maybe been able to move the conversation that way, but…Maybe not. I guess it would have been impossible either way.
(Even after you learned of my real personality, you still treat me like some goddess, huh.)
You might like gal games, but Himeno Miina is still Himeno Miina, so she’s my eternal heroine.
(D-Don’t just blurt out embarrassing stuff like that…Why can you make my heart skip a beat this easily even though it’s not my real body…)
Miena covered her mouth, and cast her face down. So, I learned some new information about my heroine, but what am I supposed to do now?
(Ah, r-right. We’ll continue from here on out. Especially with this valuable information.)
Was it that valuable of information…?
(Itsuki-kun, you haven’t realized? My real body called you ‘Saotome-kun’, remember? That means the distance between the two of you has shrunk.)
I see! When you meet someone for a few times, it’ll make you more familiar with them!
(From now on, we’ll show off your existence to her as well. Alright! Today may have been a coincidence, but we’ll go on the offensive on Monday!)
Miena’s eyes lit up, as she formed a fist. She’s full of motivation. Huh? I’m the one who has to do the acting right!? I feel nervous just from thinking about it!
Monday morning arrived.
I heard my favorite heroine alarm from above my head. However, since I woke up an hour earlier than usual, I wasn’t too happy about that. Morning over there.
(No motivation as always~ Come on, feel the excitement!)
She sure seemed like she was enjoying herself, floating through the air like that. You really shouldn’t be asking me to feel the excitement this early in the morning, or you’ll regret it.
(Exactly, exactly! You need some revitalization, Itsuki-kun. Today, you’ll be talking with my real body today, so let’s both do our best!)
Oh yeah, that reminds me. My stomach suddenly started to hurt. Without any unforeseen accident, I don’t think I can talk to her…But, I have Miena with me…No, Miena is possessing me, so it’s fine!
(Just leave it to me! If we get a good flag going today, there’s a good chance a row of events will follow after!)
I was feeling a bit scared hearing Miena use gal games vocabulary so nonchalantly, but I could only do it.
(Now, let’s go at full speed today!)
Like this, my 6th day with Miena started.
I went to the classroom, and right upon sitting down at my desk, my intracerebral strategy meeting with Miena started. I sat at my window seat, with Miena sitting on the window frame.
(It’s not that big of a deal. During lunch break, right before my main body goes to eat lunch with my friends, you’ll call out to her, asking if you can eat lunch together.)
Not happening! No no no no no! What are you talking about!? Maybe I shouldn’t put my faith in you after all!
(It’ll be fine, let me tell you. Since I always eat lunch with my female friends in the courtyard, you just have to catch and invite me before that.)
Why are you just progressing this whole thing without listening to me? Do I not have any right in this? By the way, the group of people who eat lunch on the courtyard are pretty much the top of the school caste. I am not even allowed to approach the courtyard, as I am nothing but trash.
(You’re using some messed up logic again, you know? It’s everybody’s freedom where they eat. Why not just invite Shouma-kun and eat lunch in the courtyard another time? It’s easy.)
What do you mean ‘It’s easy’, huh? Don’t make it sound so simple.
“Itsuki, suuup!” Shouma came to greet me.
(Boys really are weird at times. Why not greet each other with a smile?)
I don’t want to become a male student like that. I don’t want to be some idiot who progresses with that and stands out like a weirdo. Once you stand out in class, it’s hard to get back into your comfortable position. In my case, I probably sunk a bit too much into the class.
(Seriously, what is this menial thinking…)
If I put myself down, another person gets put up above me. I feel happy about thinking that way.
(You’re not being cool at all, okay.)
Yeah yeah, gotcha.
(But, that does make sense. I might need to change the plan up a bit.)
Plan? Stop, you’re genuinely terrifying me. I just got on the defensive because you suddenly told me to invite Himeno Miina to eat lunch together, and I ended up acting too arrogant, so I’m sorry please forgive me.
(For now, let’s just spend lunch break as always, okay.)
“Itsuki, what’s been going on with you? You’re just staring outside the window.”
“Eh? Ahhh, yeah, sorry, I was just thinking about some stuff.” I gave Shouma a vague response, when classes for the morning started.
Along with my classmates seriously listening to class, I was just mentally practicing for lunch break. A few seconds after the chime for lunch break rang, all the students who were frantically running their pens along their notebooks as they copied the contents on the blackboard stormed out of the classroom to reach the school store fastest. On the exact opposite of the spectrum, I was continuing my intracerebral strategy meeting until the very limit. And then, once the faithful bell rang, the students entered their usual lunch break.
(Alright! We’re heading over to class 6!)
It seems like I wasn’t granted this normality, sadly enough. Am I seriously going over there…I feel like my heart is about to explode just thinking about it…
“Oi, Itsuki, where are you heading off to? Aren’t we gonna eat lunch together?” Shouma called out to me from the corner of the room, munching on his convenience store bread.
According to the information I got, Himeno Miina brings homemade lunch with her, made by her Mom.
(H-How do you know about that!? Your information network is honestly terrifying…but I can’t help admiring that.)
“Ahh, well, I have some business to attend to, so eat lunch without me!”
“Seriously? Eating lunch alone in our classroom is just depressing, you hear me!”
I don’t particularly care about that comment of Shouma. Unlike me, he actually has a lot of friends. He probably won’t end up eating alone at all. If anything, there’s a bigger chance that another friend would eat with him, and I’d end up as the loner.
(That sure is some negative thinking…What about just eating lunch all together…?)
Suddenly getting along with strangers is like a hero’s exam. A test that requires courage is definitely not something I’m putting up with. I want to live together in a village with cows for the rest of my life. Animals are great, they won’t betray me.
(Why are you suddenly talking about cows…?)
…Wait, hold on. I’m going to invite Himeno Miina in a bit, right?
(Yup, that’s right. That’s why you’re heading over to class 6 right now.)
Rather than this being a hero’s exam, it’s like I’m going to attack the last boss, the Demon Lord!?
(Hold on! Who are you calling the Demon Lord?!)
No no no no no, I’ll get killed for sure! At least let me fight a slime first! I haven’t leveled up enough!
(Don’t be like that. Look, we already made it to my classroom.)
We made it to the Demon Lord’s castle…How am I supposed to defeat that with a wooden stick and pot shield in hand? I wasn’t hoping for a weird roleplay like this…
(If you don’t hurry up, my real body will leave!)
Damn it, to hell with all of this! I can only put my faith in my allies who are also the hidden boss! I set foot inside the Demon Lord’s castle. As expected, the atmosphere of the monsters around me can’t compare to the beginner dungeon I was just in.
(Hey! They’re all nice people in here, don’t treat them like some evil guys!)
I ignored the hidden boss’ words, and headed for the seat in the furthest back, currently inhabited by the Demon Lord.
(Now, go forth young hero! Talk to the Demon—No, talk to me!)
Reaching Himeno Miina’s seat, I had gathered the attention from the monsters around me. Makes sense, since some boring mob guy like me appeared in front of this school’s idol. If I was a mere onlooker here, I probably would have already thrown an insult at myself. I won’t allow any worthless insect to cling to Himeno Miina. However…
(H-Hey, are you okay!? Your heartbeat is getting painfully fast! That’s not normal, no matter how nervous you may be!)
Right now, I’m a worthless insect. The unpleasant atmosphere in the classroom only led my heart to race faster. Because of the high-level monsters’ gazes, my HP was getting lower and lower. And right then, the Demon Lord caught on to my appearance. As a result, my heartbeat grew faster as my HP shrunk.
(Awa…awawawawa, oh no, it won’t stop…!)
Hidden boss! Pull yourself together! W-What should I do!?
As even the hidden boss panicked, the beauty in front of me opened her mouth.
“Eh!? No, well, um! Basically, uh…”
(Hey! You’re way too nervous! Your heart is going to explode…!)
“H-How can I…help you?” Himeno Miina asked me, clearly confused.
On top of that, the monsters around me were giving me dubious gazes. Ahh, I want to die.
“W-Well, um! T-The thing is, t-t-today…”
I was biting my tongue too much, I didn’t even know what I was saying anymore. I want to die.
(Y-You can do it! It’s just me! There’s no need to be nervous!)
(Hey, me! Don’t be looking at him like that and take a hint!)
Miena slapped her hands on the desk of Himeno Miina. It didn’t create any sound, but I could feeling her anger.
“Hime~ Let’s hurry up to the courtyard, we don’t have that much time~”
There, a friend of Himeno Miina ignored me, and called out to her.
(Ah! Kii-chan, now is not the time, so don’t interrupt us!)
“Come on, don’t space out like this, let’s go?” The girl called Kii-chan urged Himeno Miina even further.
“Ah, but…” Himeno Miina showed me a complicated expression, and seemed to be troubled about something.
(What are you acting like that for, me!? There’s an important visitor right in front of you, you can’t just ignore him!)
Miena was complaining about her main body. She even tried to slap herself on the cheeks, but her hand was met with nothing but air.
“I-I’m sorry, I need to get going, so…If you need something from me, I’ll be willing to listen later.”
Since my HP ran out completely, I could just stand there in a daze.
(Ahh, don’t leaveeee! Don’t leave me heeeere!)
Since Meina is unable to leave my side, she merely stretched out her hand towards the leaving Miina.
After I returned to my own classroom, I finally got a grip on myself, and returned to reality. Heh…hehehhe…guhehehe!
(W-What’s wrong, did you completely break now!?)
It’s a great success! I managed to talk with Himeno Miina!
(That wasn’t any success at all! You failed miserably!)
No doubt about it, my communication skill has gone up. Unlike before, I actually started talking to her. In this regard, this couldn’t have ended any better.
(That’s…just your imagination. And, how was this a success?)
Just like during this morning, Miena sat on the window frame, questioning me. The only difference compared to before is that she had her arms crossed, giving me a sharp glare. I mean, Himeno Miina promised that she would hear me out later, right?
(I think that was just lip service.)
You again with your jokes~ This means I can come talk to her again, yes~?
(You’re not wrong, but I doubt that this raised her affection towards you or anything.)
Huuuh!? She’s not just giving me special treatment because I acted before my rival?
(There’s no rival to begin with. Nor do I have any male friends. I wouldn’t give special treatment, okay.)
I know that. If someone like that existed, I would crush them—in my head.
(You really are possessive, Itsuki-kun…Sorry to ruin your mood, but that communication method just now wasn’t nearly good enough.)
That’s…yes, I’m aware. But, this is also your fault, Miena! You said you’d give me advice, so I challenged the impossible. Sniff.
(Don’t just start crying. I know that I messed up…But, with your heart racing like that, my head wouldn’t think straight.)
Did you finally understand the feelings of an unpopular boy who sucks at communication?
(To think I’d experience that towards myself. It sure feels weird to be nervous in regards to my main body…)
Not to mention that I’m eating lunch all alone now. When I gazed outside the window, I could perfectly see the courtyard. Ahaha, I can hear Himeno Miina’s cheerful voice. And I’m up here, all alone.
(Why do I feel so irritated now…geez. Itsuki-kun, you’re not alone at all, you have me, right?)
To the people around me, I’m still as much of a loner. Seeing no other option, I stuffed the ‘Tastes better when warm’ cold bread into my mouth. As I was starting my lonely lunch…
“Itsuki~ Is it true that you invited Hime out to lunch?”
(Ah, it’s Rion-chan! She’s wearing her hair in a ponytail now! So cute~!)
While her ponytail swayed left and right, Rion approached me. She sure picked up on that fast. Apparently Rion would tie up her hair like this when eating lunch. I wasn’t interested at all, so I never even realized. Also, it’s rare for her to call out to me during lunch. Maybe because Shouma ain’t here?
“Information sure spreads quickly…This literally just happened…”
(To think we’d jump into a sudden event like this!? What to do…)
Miena-san, your defeated aura from just now has completely vanished, you know that? There’s flowers blooming on your face, what even is going on.
“Nakagawa-kun went to eat lunch at another class, you know?”
“Yup, knew that.”
“So, you got rejected by Hime, now eating lunch all on your own, huh.”
“So what? Just leave me alone.”
(Worst possible choice! Now, you should eat lunch together with Rion-chan!)
“Hime’s got her own reasons, so it makes sense she would reject a sudden invitation like that.”
(Look! Now even her affection towards me has gone down! There’s no way I would reject the invitation of someone who saved me!)
I mean, you sure did though?
Miena-san was pouting in annoyance.
“Not like I was bothering you or anything, what do you have to do with this?”
“Aren’t you lonely eating lunch all on your own? T-Then, the two of us could just…”
“Itsuki-nii~ Let’s eat lunch together!”
Before Rion could even finish her words, the door to the classroom slid open, and Himari stormed inside. Because of her sudden appearance, my other classmates were looking at her in confusion. Can’t blame them, Himari’s a kiddo from the middle school division after all.
“Hey, Himari! You’re a middle school student, so you can’t just come over here!”
“There’s no wall between me and Itsuki-nii!”
“But there’s a wall between the middle and high school division. You can’t just break through that wall easily, so go back to your classroom.”
Why are you suddenly in such a bad mood, Rion-nee? Since the usual bother is gone, I thought I could spend some time with Itsuki-nii~”
(Good for you, Itsuki-kun. You’re so popular.)
Ahh, geez. Can’t I even eat my lunch in peace?
(By the way, with bother, is she talking about Shouma-kun?)
Yeah, it seems like Shouma took a liking to Himari, though she apparently sees him as nothing but annoying. He checks out girls indiscriminately after all.
“Ah, it’s Himari-chan! What’s this, did you come here to meet me?”
Look, Shouma’s back.
“Urk, the bothersome insect is back! Time to run!”
Upon hearing Shouma’s voice, Himari ran out of the classroom. Like a storm, she arrived and left in one heartbeat…Ahh, geez. Give me back my calm lunch break. This is all your fault, Miena.
(Making it my fault again!?)
In the end, all I managed to do was fill my stomach, the rest of lunch break being plagued with failure.
During the lessons of the afternoon, I was discussing the results from today’s lunch break, and our plan of future actions.
(Looking at your exchange with my real body today, I finally understood. Suddenly inviting me out to eat lunch together was too high of a hurdle.)
I’m glad it only cost me half my honor as a man for you to understand that.
(Yup, now it really set in.)
If it’s with any other boy, I can still manage, but when it comes to a girl…especially Himeno Miina, my cells just start raising screams of terror.
(So rather than liking me, it’s more that you’re bad at dealing with me?)
That’s not true at all! I admire you to the point I fantasize about you all the time!
(H-Hearing that this upfront sure is embarrassing…Also, why can’t you just interact with me like you would in your fantasies?)
(Alright, I think I might have messed up my order. I was careless of the protagonist’s status.)
Protagonist? Status? Are you talking about a galge again?
(In order to properly raise flags, you need to raise your own parameters.)
She’s progressing the story again without telling me anything…
(I got it, so let’s move on to the second stage of our heroine conquest strategy!)
Apparently we made it past the first stage, without me even knowing what it was about…