Upon returning home from school, I immediately received a lengthy explanation about this second stage of the heroine conquest strategy. Honestly speaking, I didn’t have the foggiest clue as to what I was even being told.
(Like I said! In order to raise the affection of your heroine-in-conquest towards you, we need to raise the protagonist’s stats first!)
I get that with the heroine-in-conquest, you’re surely talking about Himeno Miina, but who’s supposed to be the protagonist?
(You of course, Itsuki-kun!)
When did I turn into the protagonist?
(Did you ever play gal games, Itsuki-kun?)
I played one that I borrowed from a friend a long time ago.
(Why did that not turn into your sole reason for existing?)
Not my thing, honestly. In gal games, you proceed through the story in the position of the protagonist, right? The girls on screen are talking past the screen, directly to me, right?
(Well, duh. That’s the real thrill of a gal game. It makes you feel like you’re the protagonist of your own story.)
…Yeah, that’s the problem. Even when it’s in-game, I get nervous talking to girls, so I wouldn’t even know what action to take.
(T-That sounds severe…I didn’t think the situation was this dire…)
With manga or novels, the story progresses without any input on my end, so there’s no problem. I just have to flip the page, and enjoy the rest. Not to mention that most stories end with a happy end through the protagonist’s actions. But, gal games are different. If I don’t go along with the girl’s interests and hobbies, I won’t make any progress. That sounds like too much of a pain, honestly. If my thoughts get denied and I get rejected in-game, I’d just live on with the shock. Not even being able to be popular in a game that is built for you as the player, I’d be super depressed.
(Maybe you’re like me, and you feel a sense of realism from gal games? You have talent for it, I’m telling you!)
What kind of talent is that supposed to be?! So, tell me…since Himeno Miina is playing the gal game you’ve been wanting to, and since you can’t play it because you’re stuck with me…are you trying to create some real-life gal game? Are you just using me as a toy?
(You only realized now? But, you’re not a toy, you’re the playable character, or the protagonist. Since I’m the heroine you’re trying to conquer, it’s no biggie at all. It might be a gal game that’s easy to clear, but I won’t relax!)
“This ain’t a gal game, alright!?” I screamed towards the transparent girl.
If this was some romcom, this would be the time where you’d get lovey-dovey flirting scenes between me and the heroine, but as much as it pains me to say it, I can’t even touch this girl in front of me.
(Ah, you suck as a protagonist.)
Crap, at this rate, I might get forced along Miena’s weird plan!
(This being the case, let’s raise your abilities as a protagonist first~)
This ain’t a game, so I doubt things will go that smoothly for you, alright. Also, I’m not really asking for that, nor does anybody need me doing that, so isn’t it fine? Ah, I said that out of habit again, I should work on that.
(It seems like there’s some cracks forming on your shell, Itsuki-kun. Hehe.)
I don’t want to forcefully be changed by someone else. If it happens naturally, or out of my own desire, then it’s fine. When it’s a natural kind of change, I might not even realize it myself.
(You really treasure yourself a lot, Itsuki-kun. You’re like a helicopter parent.)
The world is a cold and dangerous place after all. I myself need to at least be kind to myself.
(Yet, you immediately put yourself down all the time. What was your plan with that, making other people feel better about themselves? Isn’t that just a facade so that you can get drunk on this feeling of servility?)
Stop, don’t just see right through me.
(Sorry to be so strict with you. But, if I want to get back to my original body, I need you to work hard yourself, Itsuki-kun…Why not make this the perfect trigger for you to reach your ideal high school life?)
Miena now spoke with a more serious tone and expression compared to before. Trigger…huh. What if, through my actions, I managed to get along with Himeno Miina? There’s the case with Miena, and I don’t think that staying like this will do me any good in the long run. Leaving aside the whole gal game thing, if I have Miena’s support, it won’t hurt to…No, I can only do this, right?
(That’s the spirit! There hasn’t been any heroine I have failed to conquer so far, so it’ll be an easy victory this time around as well!)
Easy victory…After you announced that whole heroine conquest strategy nonsense, we’ve only been failing, you know? Also, why do you even like gal games that much?
(Hehehe, you finally asked. The main charm of gal games that I enjoy is the fact that the true feelings of the appearing characters directly reach me, and that my efforts always pay out!)
…I think I shouldn’t have asked. It’s like I flipped a weird switch.
(I told you before, but in reality, girls don’t really express their honest feelings at all. If we did, our current relationship might break down after all. You can’t mess up the group of people you’re a member of.)
Since I’m not part of any group, that’s just beyond me.
(We also stay quiet when it comes to boys and our relationships. It’d be awful if two girls happened to like the same boy after all. If that happens, one of the two would generally keep their feelings a secret, because fixing a relationship that already has cracks in it is quite difficult. Girls love to hold grudges after all. It’s much more common for us to act like any clash or conflict just didn’t happen.)
Since I don’t even have any person I could clash against like you’re saying, that’s just beyond me.
(However, gal games are different! Even if I chose one girl to go for, the other girls still spend time with me, and we all get to play and have fun! They support me and the heroine, and they’ll generally forgive any cheating. Frankly put, they’re very open-minded! Of course, some games don’t go that way, but most of the time all the girls have their own charm, so as long as I don’t betray them, they won’t hurt me either!)
Isn’t that because the protagonist is a boy?
(Not. At. All! That doesn’t have anything to do with it. They’re facing me with their honest feelings, which is why I can be honest with them myself.)
Rather than your true self, you’re just the player character, the protagonist, right…
(Anyway! Childhood friends or little sister characters are the best. They’re the closest to me, and understand me the most, and right when I think that this relationship will never break apart, another main heroine appears.)
Now I feel a bit scared, knowing that you have these kinds of feelings towards Rion and Himari…
(When I call out to another heroine, or play with them, the childhood friend and little sister suddenly get all jealous~ Maybe they finally realized their own feelings? Or, maybe they’ll support me when moving onto a different route? Even after everything ends up complicated, they continue to keep our current relationship! It’s just marvelous!)
Yaaaaaaawn…Oh man, it’s not even late, and I already feel sleepy.
(On top of that! The efforts you put into yourself directly correspond to your success in the game. As of late, most gal games have protagonists that can’t do anything on their own, and still end up popular. Before, when playing a gal game, you had to raise your own skill depending on the tastes of the heroine you wanted to conquer!)
When is she gonna end this…
(The protagonist basically picks his choices depending on the heroine’s tastes. When you pick the best possible choice, you get to talk with the heroine, and get valuable information out of her. By stacking all this small stuff, you can eventually reach the position of being the heroine’s lover. It’s vastly different from the usual ‘Ahh, he hit on me at the beach, and we just started dating, but broke up soon after~’ okay! There’s no superficial pretend-love!)
I wasn’t listening until the end, but aren’t you just dissing Shiraishi-san at this point?
(N-No! I wouldn’t just talk badly behind her back! T-This was just a coincidence. Also, listen to me all the time, will you!)
Isn’t a game just another type of pretend-love.
(No! It’s pure love! Love and friendship!)
What about that whole cheating part?
(You don’t need to listen to the small details!)
Alright, I get it. I fully understand that you’re a gal game fanatic. But, let me say one thing.
There’s no way the idol of the school would devote herself to an average male student. That’s not realistic at all. Reality and gal games are different, you get me?
(Dun get it!)
Damn it, her thought process halted completely. Also, I don’t even want to become a protagonist.
(I’m looking forward to tomorrow~ It’s fine, I’ll make you the best possible protagonist, Saotome Itsuki. Since the heroine herself will give you advice, it’ll be a won race before it even starts.)
…Right, I forgot. I’m being forced into an actual gal game that’s happening in reality.
(Regarding our conquest this time, it’s a bit more of an old-school style. Since we understand the hobby of the heroine, we now have to raise your status as a protagonist.)
So that’s what you were talking about with the second stage of the strategy. It finally clicked for me.
(We’ll now judge the protagonist’s situation, and close the gap between you and the heroine’s tastes.)
My situation…basically, my specs, right? My grades are in the lower half, my physical abilities are in the upper part of the lower end. As for my style, just put me at rock bottom. Regarding my face…you judge that, Miena. Ah, actually, I’m scared. Even if you’re rotten you’re still Himeno Miina.
(I’m not rotten at all! I already guessed your study level and physical abilities from your grades at school. Regarding your style, you’re not that far down, I think. As for your face…you’re short-haired, so you should be fine.)
She spoke like a mother closely inspecting her daughter’s boyfriend, checking every part of me. As for Miena’s clothes, she was still wearing the school’s uniform. However, she had taken off her flower hair accessory, getting her hair a bit more open compared to her main body, which made her feel a bit more casual. Her face was still the same as Himeno Miina’s, so she’s as cute as ever, hehe~
(What are you grinning for like that? Don’t act all high up on a horse just because I was praising you a bit.)
A-As if! Also, how is my hair related to my face?
(Can’t help it, everybody has their own preferences when it comes to people’s faces. I can’t just tell you good or bad. Though I personally would say that as long as you keep it hygienic, everything’s fine. Since you don’t play any games all night, your face is somewhat refreshed, and it leaves a positive impression on me.)
Eh, so you’re saying that my face is good enough?
(Hm? I mean, I don’t see any problem with it. Though, this is also just my personal impression.)
Isn’t his personal impression super crucial right now!? If you, Himeno Miina, like it, then there’s no problem with it, and even if a lot of other girls like it, there’s no meaning if Himeno Miina doesn’t.
(Now that you mention it…Hold on, isn’t this gal game a bit too easy? Or, am I just that easy of a heroine…?)
Himeno Miina is an easy heroine…!? Like hell that’s the case! I know just how many boys confessed to her during the first-term alone!
(I expected nothing less from your sources. But, there’s a proper reason for that. After all, all the boys that confessed to me didn’t even know anything about me. Being confessed to without the person knowing who I truly was, that’s just the same as being hit on, you know? It’ll just end up with us dating for a bit, and then breaking up again.)
You’re dissing Shiraishi-san again, right?
(Shiraishi-san doesn’t have anything to do with this! S-She’s a good person…okay?)
I thought she was one of the people you were hiding your true self from?
(It can’t be helped, reality often doesn’t go the way we want it to. I don’t plan on actively leaving the group I’m in. I want someone I can be honest and straightforward with, but it’s easier said than done…)
So that’s Miena’s…No, Himeno Miina’s true problem. Being independent is an admirable thing, but being alone means being lonely, with solitude as the final straw. I guess even our idol Himeno Miina is afraid of ending up all on her own. That’s probably why I should start building a relationship where she can put trust in me.
(Exactly. You can only go with the usual procedure, and keep at it.)
So, what should I do for starters?
(The first goal is to exchange contact information with me. Since you both know each other’s names and background, it’s the most orthodox step to take.)
That sounds less like a step and more like climbing Mt. Everest…Let me start with a mountain here in the neighbourhood…
(I mean, I know my own contact address, but there’s no meaning in telling you like this. You have to make my main body give it to you out of her own desire.)
I don’t think that, with my current status, I can manage to exchange my contact address with Himeno Miina.
(You did save me before, so she has that affection for you, not to mention that it’s just your contact address. If anything, if you were to interact with me this way, I probably would have asked myself.)
Seriously!? Maybe I can actually do this?
(However, that’s solely regarding my interests, okay? If we get your studies to an average, it might raise the chance of success.)
Basically, go up one step? That’s doable. Getting the top of the class will be impossible for sure, but if it’s getting to an average level, I might be able to do it with a bit of effort. Although I really hate words like average and effort.
(You can do it for sure, Itsuki-kun! The biggest problem is how you interact with the real me.)
Yeah, I expected as much. Maybe I can’t even fix that for the rest of my life.
(You technically just have to get used to it, but for that, you need to talk to girls. If you do that, you’ll end up suspicious. It’s a vicious cycle, right? If so, then you just have to practice with me.)
What’s this gal game otaku talking about, I don’t get it.
(Basically, I’ll be acting like the me I always show at school. If you keep talking with me that way, you’ll eventually get used to it despite being awkward in the beginning. It’s even more efficient since I am your target after all.)
Rather than this being practice, it’s like I’m being thrown into the real deal right away. Aren’t I just repeating the main deal over and over? What if I get a heart attack?
(It’s fine, it’s fine. With enough practice, you’ll be fit for the real match with your techniques, and with more studies and exams, you’ll figure out the tendencies plenty. On top of that, it’ll feel like the real deal, and you can use your experience to improve for the next time. There are some things you can’t learn with just practice alone.)
You make it sound so simple. This is why self-confident people are such a chore. Well, that means I have to now focus on my studies for the exams next week.
(That’s right! I’ll help you, so let’s both do our best!)
With this, Miena and I set a new foot onto our heroine conquest strategy.
The following week, on Monday during the midday. Ever since we moved to the second stage of our strategy, I’ve been studying earnestly. Yesterday it was six hours total, and today I got up at 6am to study some more, getting up to a total of ten hours with small breaks in between. I feel like I’m going a bit too far here, am I some examinee?
Still, I wonder why, a faint glimmer of joy has been growing inside of me. Maybe it’s all thanks to the existence of Miena who’s with me.
(Doesn’t seem like you have any problems with math, so you should be able to get an average grade.)
Aiming for the bare average sure sounds pathetic, but that’s about the best I can do.)
(Aiming for a perfect grade would be too much. With things like these, working on it day by day and slowly raising your grades is much more fun.)
That sounds like a true gamer, alright. Then again, from a cheat character’s view like hers, this is like she’s training an NPC. Am I just being trained like an animal?
(Gal games have those elements in them after all. I’ve been pointing out that the cute girls are a big charm, but the protagonist working hard behind the scenes is just as great.)
I personally prefer isekai stories where the protagonist ends up overpowered with some cheat-like ability.
(That doesn’t exist in real life, you know. Only after you put some real effort into it, you can taste this fulfillment. It’s the same with clubs. Why not join the badminton club?)
Hell no. I don’t want my precious time to be stolen by some club.
(I see, what a shame. I was thinking maybe we’d get to play some mixed doubles~)
M-Mixed doubles!? …Gulp, maybe it might be worth investing some of my personal time after all?
(Itsuki-kun, you’re way too easy of a protagonist…)
While discussing this and that, I slowly moved through the tasks at hand, and when I was stuck with something, I had Miena help me. I heard that teaching others efficiently requires a vast amount of knowledge and grasp of the topic, but that’s the top of our year student for you, I guess. If the real Himeno Miina were to teach me face-to-face like this, I surely wouldn’t be able to focus properly.
In that sense, I’m glad Miena’s with me. With a bit of banter, I’m making good progress through my studies. After that, I also made it through modern literature, biology, and English.
(I’m not giving you the answers during the test, okay? Cheating isn’t fair for the others, and I don’t want to mess up your focus either.)
It’s fine, I somehow feel confident this time around. I’ve been studying this hard, so I should be able to get better grades compared to my first term when I didn’t do anything. I didn’t even realize the time had moved to 9pm because I was so focused.
(Let’s leave it at that for today. If you stay up too long, it’ll just drain your energy for the next day. Getting enough sleep is important for a healthy student, so you’ll have to get up at 6am instead, as that’s more efficient. We’ll do one last chap before the exam.)
I guess Himeno Miina is indulging in this kind of lifestyle as well? Thinking that we get up at the same time made me break out in a faint smile.
The following morning at roughly 6am, Miena woke me up, and we went through the questions that might appear on the exam. And then, the real deal arrived. Oh? That modern literature question is something Miena corrected when I did my summer homework. If she hadn’t done that, I probably wouldn’t have been able to solve this question now.
Math next. Oh yeah, that question I solved this morning with just different numbers. The formula to solve this problem is the exact same even. Damn, I’ve never felt such a successful response during my exams before! Going at this pace, the exams ended, and afternoon arrived.
(Good work today! How’s your gut feeling?)
Honestly, I’m fairly confident right now.
(Just kidding~ I’ve been watching you the entire time after all, so I know.)
S-So, what do you think? Can I get a good grade here?
(Well…I-I’ll just have you wait for the official grades to come out instead~)
She clearly stuttered there. You’re clearly not confident at all. Normally, I wouldn’t care much about exam results, but this time, it’s different. It’s an important exam that’s the first step towards my Himeno Miina conquest. I can’t be tripping and falling at the very beginning. Miena’s attitude irks me a bit, but I do want to get closer to Himeno Miina. If the person herself gives me advice like this, things should work out, right? Still, it is a bit fishy.
Two days later, we received the answer sheets back, giving us the results. By the way, Miena has continued to teach me even during those two days, so I’m taking my studies quite serious….A-And yet…Damn it, why! Why did this happen!? My results at the exam were far lower than I would have expected. I did reach an average grade with math and modern literature, but the rest is still below average. I luckily didn’t end up with any failing grades, but this is a huge difference compared to what I was hoping to see.
(This isn’t something to be depressed about. If anything, it’s weird that you’re so down about this. In just a few days of effort, you immediately achieved this much. You’re being very rude towards the people who don’t have this much success in more time.)
Urk…B-But, I never worked this hard before, so I was hoping for a bit more than this. It’s frustrating.
(Being frustrated is an important feeling. To Itsuki-kun, who never really worked towards anything, this must be a first for you, right? Since I hate losing, I feel it all the time.)
Miena is? I didn’t expect that.
(During the last Inter High, when I lost in the semi-final, and even lost in the match for 3rd place, I wasn’t just frustrated. I was the only one who lost two times in the entire tournament like that. Just remembering makes me want to scream!)
I see, to other people getting the 4th place might have been something amazing, but to the person in question, the frustration of losing two times is far greater, huh. Since I never experienced anything like that, it’s a bit hard for me to really grasp that feeling.
(Of course, there’s also this satisfying feeling you get after having given it your all. With your exam results this time, you’ve surpassed what I expected, honestly.)
Seriously? How am I supposed to accept these shitty results? Also, were you expecting me to fail miserably from the start? That’s quite interesting to hear.
(Urk…what are you talking about…? I’m just saying that working hard for a few days is plenty. Especially math, didn’t you almost end up with a failing grade during the first term? Now you even made it above average, isn’t that amazing? How hard do you think it is to make such a progress in a subject you’re bad at in a few days?)
…Now that you mention it, you might be right. Math was always the subject I failed the most at, and also the one I invested most of my time in.
(Everybody has their own different goals and efforts they put in. Compared to the few days of effort you put in, Itsuki-kun, you showed sufficient results. What’s most important is that you continue this. Be disappointed, be satisfied, as long as you get back to your usual rhythm.)
If you say that, then I guess I should be more confident?
(Continuation is the biggest strength you can have. Rather than caring about me, the habit is much more crucial.)
It’s all effort that hopefully raises Himeno Miina’s affection towards me. That’s the most important part.
(Thinking about it in gal games terms, that’s a good thing, but you also need to do this for yourself, Itsuki-kun. The gal game ends if you raise the heroine’s affection enough, but you also need to think about your life after you finish the game. You’re opening up your possibilities for the future.)
Despite being a gal game freak, she’s lecturing me about life? Miena…No, Himeno Miina might be more of a respectable heroine than I previously assumed.
(Me? I’m an easy heroine.)
That’s from your point of view, right? To me, you seem like an unattainable flower.
(What, you’re embarrassing me now. Whenever I conquered a heroine that was called an unattainable flower, I was filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment. I can’t imagine myself standing in that same position.)
You’re the sole dictator over that position, you know! Don’t tell me…is she not aware of her objective appearance? She stands at the top of the school caste, and isn’t even cognitive about it. She probably doesn’t even think much of her position in class.
(I know the word caste, okay. It’s that class system in the Hindu religion.)
No, well, you’re right, I guess. It’s like a social class, influencing our student life. It’s about who’s above and below you.
(…Hmm, even if you have some sort of social class attached to you, I don’t think you should be using the word caste.)
(Caste is like a class system that was solidified, right. It has a negative connotation added to it, meaning that you can’t break out of it no matter how hard you try.)
I see. I was using it that way.
(That’s why, using hierarchy from top to bottom is much more beneficial, because if you raise your parameters, you can conquer your heroine just fine!)
Hierarchy…Being at the bottom of that sounds equally hurtful…
(You took an important step forward, Itsuki-kun. Now, calling out to me should be no biggie, right?)
Exams aren’t fought against another person, so there’s no problem for me, but conquering a heroine is different. I can’t just use the correct formula to solve the problem. Even if the answer is inside my head, there’s a chance that it’s the wrong one. I wanna complain to the teacher if that happens.
(You have a problem with my way of teaching, heh?)
No, not at all! Why are you smiling, but your eyes are dead!?
(It’s time to go on the offensive this afternoon!)
Y-Yeshhh! As I had yet to mentally prepare myself, afternoon arrived, and I was forced to attack Himeno Miina. She’s the last boss of my story, so even if I challenge her now, I can only see this ending the same way as before. Will my efforts really show off?
During the final class of the day, while listening to the teacher, I was confirming the mission with Miena. Our plan was for me to call out to Himeno Miina before she went off to club practice. Honestly speaking, it feels impossible to me. Much much more difficult than getting an average grade in all subjects at least.
(What are you talking about? You’re not even inviting her out to eat lunch together, so easy peasy.)
Then, how should I call out to her?
(Do you have club after this? I’m cheering for you~ or something like that? If you try to take it too far, you’ll just dig your own grave again.)
I wonder, won’t she just treat me like a stalker if I do that…Like, ‘Why’s this guy constantly talking to me? We’re not even that close. Does he like me? Ugh, gross!’, you know…
(Do I really seem like the type of awful woman who would do that? There’s no person who’s this self-focused.)
R-Right. My angel Himeno Miina would not act like that. She’s kind and considerate towards everyone, with a high level of tolerance.
(On the surface, that is. Even I can be fed up with human relationships on the inside.)
(But, I won’t suddenly hate you just because you call out to me. Especially Itsuki-kun…will be…fine…mumble mumble.)
Even though Miena surely wasn’t even listening to the teacher, she suddenly turned towards the blackboard. It might have just been my imagination, but her chees seemed faintly red. I couldn’t hear that last part, so could you repeat that for me?
(I-I’m saying that you should be more confident!)
If I could do that, I wouldn’t be suffering like this. As I was making fun of myself, the chime for the final class’ ending rang. Since I had class duty today, I cleaned the floor until it was squeaky clean, and prepared to head over to the gym hall. The strategy was to wait around there where the girls badminton club was usually practicing, and randomly call out to her on the way to her club.
(It’s not that big of a thing you’d call it a strategy.)
On my way to the gym hall, I spotted a crowd of people. It’s bound to be a list of the top-ranking people of the last exams.
(Are you not going to check, Itsuki-kun?)
I’m not there anyway. Since I’m ranked 215 out of 315, it doesn’t have anything to do with me. As expected, it showed the exam results, the particular subjects and the overall ranking in particular. It clearly is revealing very personal information, but since I’m not on there, I’m safe.
(Doesn’t this show the top 50 of every subject?)
That’s right, but the top 50 don’t have anything to do with me. Let’s just go to the gym hall instead.
(Itsuki-kun, weren’t you 50th in Math?)
Hearing Miena’s words, I stopped in my tracks…Oh yeah, I think so. I pulled a U-turn and checked the paper in question. Running my gaze along the math ranking, I did indeed find my name at the bottom.
“Woah!? Are you serious!?” I accidentally let out a scream.
It was just that shocking of a revelation. Normally, this would have been an event I ignored by simply walking past it, but now my chest was filled with joy.
(Congrats! How’s it feel to see the fruit of your labour?)
Ahh, I’m realizing it now, but…you know, I might be a bit…super ultra happy!
(Which is it!? Hehe, now I’m even feeling happy seeing you react that way.)
Miena showed a teasing smile. Her voice and laugh sounded so adorable and lovable, I almost forgot about the whole heroine conquest thing…But wait, doesn’t this make me look like I’m at the bottom?
(Then, why don’t you aim for the 40th place next time?)
Hearing these words, I next directed my gaze at the upper ranks. Finding the top of the list, I also found Himeno Miina’s name. I checked the same for the other subjects, and that fact didn’t change for either of these. Just what you’d expect, I guess.
(He he he…Well, that’s what I know and love about her, I guess.)
Don’t give me that! You are her, right!?
(Now there’s still a large gap between us, but one day I’ll catch up!)
Just what are you even fighting. But, being a bit more confident before making my way to the gym hall is indeed a big thing. Now, I might even be able to call out to Himeno Miina. I walked down the hallway that connected the school building with the gym hall. There I stood, with my smartphone in hand, waiting for Himeno Miina. Of course, whatever may have been on the screen at that time, I don’t remember. The smartphone is just a tool to make it seem more like a coincidence.
(She should be coming soon. Remember, act natural.)
Just as Miena stated, Himeno Miina and some other students from the girls badminton club were walking towards us, wearing their usual gym clothes. It’s the same girls that went home with her before, with even Shiraishi-san. They must have changed in the school’s changing room. As with everything else, Himeno Miina in her gym clothes attire was bewitching beyond belief—
(Hey, who cares about that!? Do something about your racing heart, I can’t take this aaaaaaah!)
Looking at Himeno Miina, my heart started beating faster. It’s like I was witnessing a Pavlov’s dogs experiment with me as the dog.
(B-Being nervous towards my real body…I can’t get used to this at all, uuu…)
The group of four walked past me, closing in on the gym hall.
(A-Anything is fine, just call out to her!)
“Urk…U-Um, ehm…!” I turned towards the group, clearly desperate.
“Ahaha, that’s so funny.”
“Right~? …Hm, Hime? What’s wrong?
“Ah, well, could you go on without me?”
“Uhh, sure. We’ll just put up the net in the meantime~”
The only person who caught on to my voice—to my existence—was Himeno Miina after all. The other three girls left Himeno Miina alone, and disappeared into the gym hall.
(Good job, me!)
“…S-Saotome-kun? C-Can I help you?”
(This reaction…I knew it…)
Miena took a close look at Himeno Miina’s face. It was like she could see right through her. That’s my support character, she sure is reliable. At the same time, as for me…just being asked that by her had me blank out fully.
“Y-Yesh!? Um…well, your gym clothes…are very cute!”
I was waiting here, in front of the gym hall, just to say that? God, I’m gross. I really want to die right now.
(W-What is this awkward silenceeeee!)
“U-Um, Saotome-kun? I’m sorry that I didn’t get to hear you out during the last lunch break.”
(Don’t suddenly scream like that!)
Himeno Miina must have been taken by surprise because of my outburst, as she stood still.
(Hey! Why am I suddenly so quiet!? Respond properly, me!)
Miena attempted to grab Himeno Miina’s shoulders and shake her, but the main body showed no reaction. W-W-W-What should I do!? What am I supposed to do now? Miena, help me…
(I-It can’t be helped now that it’s come to this. We’ll try to accomplish our goal now.)
(Did you forget? You’ll exchange your contact address with my real body.)
Right now!? You’re asking for too much!
(The girl right in front of you is as defenseless as can be. You need to go on the offensive!)
Impossible…Also, that girl is still you, okay…
(I feel like you can do it right now!)
“C-Contact address! P-Please…!”
Right there, my HP ran out. Whatever happens happens now, ahaha.
(So that’s your limit…But, you did well, Itsuki-kun!)
“Contact address? Do you want to…exchange it with me?” Himeno Miina showed a dubious expression, waiting for my response.
(Alright! It seems like your intentions got through to her! It’s fine now, I can guarantee that!)
On one hand, Miena was confident of our success, whereas Himeno Miina seemed a bit conflicted, her eyes wandering from left to right.
(Eh!? Hold on, what are you thinking, me!? That’s not something you’d need to ponder about! The answer is easy and simple, so hurry up and exchange it with Itsuki-kun!)
Miena’s victorious pose swiftly changed into a raised fist against her real body. And then, Himeno Miina spoke up—
She showed a polite bow, and went her way towards the gym hall. I was left all alone, not counting Miena.
(Hold on! Are you kidding meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!?)
A loud scream coming from Miena made the inside of my head reverberate. It was a scream only I could hear. It seems like she’s screaming in my stead. Ahaha, I want to die. Now I fully understand what people mean when they say they were dumbfounded. A cool fall breeze hit my body, as a single cosmos flower flew against my face. Ahh, it’s fall already. I can hear the sound of the badminton ball being hit over in the gym hall, nobody giving any attention to me at all. Welp, time to go home…
Because I was devoid of any emotion, Miena stayed silent. She must be disappointed with me.
“Itsuki~ What are you doing here?”
Right as I was lamenting my entire existence, a familiar voice reached my ears.
“…Nothing at all.”
“It’s rare for you from the go-home club to stick around here. Killing time?”
She must be off to her tennis practice, as my childhood friend had her hair tied up into a ponytail, which shook as she took a peek at my face.
“Got nothing to do with you, Rion. Just go to your club already.”
“Ehh, I’m curious though?”
“It’s my own business what I’m doing and when I’m doing it, right.”
“You’re not wrong, but I saw you call out to Hime, you know~?”
Damn it! Of course she had to see me like that! …Still, we keep running into each other a lot as of late, huh.
“W-What’s it matter? Even I talk to her from time to time.”
Not like you could really categorize that as me talking though.
“Say, Itsuki……Do you like Hime that much?”
“Shut up. Y-You know, Himeno Miina is like an idol at this school, right? From an objective point of view, I just admire her, that’s all.”
There, Miena started pouting for some reason.
“Well yeah, Hime stands out a lot, and she sure is cute. I can’t help but admire her myself.”
(That’s not true at all…She’s the worst, you know that?)
Miena was praised by her beloved Rion, but couldn’t fully show it.
“Rion, you’re not acquainted with Himeno Miina, right?”
“Eh?! W-Well…I never directly talked with her. But, why do you know about that, Itsuki?”
“J-Just guessed. I figured that even from a girl’s point of view, Himeno Miina does stand out, right?”
“Of course she does. Top 4 in the nationals, getting first place in all subjects across the board, that’s just impossible! Can’t she share some of that talent with the rest of us? Haha!” Rion laughed like she was poking fun at herself.
“Maybe she’s just working hard without anyone realizing?”
“…Well, I do think that she probably struggles a bit with human relationships and all that…I guess?”
“Eh, you can tell, Rion?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Girls have a lot of problems, you know~ I bet a lot of girls are jealous of her. Not to mention…everybody has their own package to carry…I realized that recently!”
Miena visibly cheered up after hearing Rion’s words. Her voice has become a bit more cheerful now. It’s crazy to think that Rion cheered up the person in question without even knowing. Even so, despite me having watched Himeno Miina across the entire first term, I had no way of understanding her true feelings. To think Rion realized it before me…Well, it’s not like she has it all figured out.
“Never would have guessed you were thinking about this sort of stuff, never seemed like you do after all.”
“And you’re as rude as always! Just to let you know, but you should probably think about this stuff a bit more. If you call out to her like some creepy stalker like that, let alone Hime, every other girl would run away in an instant.”
So she saw me from the very beginning!? It seems like I was too focussed on Himeno Miina, I didn’t pay any proper attention to the people around me.
“Zip it, I have to think about a lot of stuff myself. Also, shouldn’t you be heading over to your club right about now?”
“Oops, you’re right. Anyway, go get them, champ!”
“Also, congrats on your 50th place in math.” As her ponytail swayed left and right, Rion made her way towards the tennis court.
(Rion-chan…She’s so cute…!)
On the way home, Miena was oddly quiet. To me, it simply felt like I had returned to my usual life, but I couldn’t shake off this odd discomfort.
That night, it was Miena’s turn to reflect on her actions.
(…Um, I’m sorry.)
She seemed apologetic, as she lowered her head towards me, sitting on her prime position—my bed—as always. Can you stop reminding me of what happened this afternoon, it still hurts.
(Ahhh, geez! Why did I reject you like that, me!)
I mean, it’s probably to avoid the risk of having to deal with a creepy stalker bastard from your neighbouring class, right, ahahaha.
(Of course, I would always reject people if I don’t even know them. But, we have met several times now, and I never said no to somebody like that…)
Stop, you’re only hurting me even more. My HP are already at 0, okay!?
(It doesn’t make any sense…She’s a fake…a different person. I wouldn’t react that way…)
…You know, being rejected like that, I started thinking. Isn’t this a pretty obvious result?
(It’s definitely not. I wouldn’t reject you just like that. My real body is acting off, for sure.)
From your point of view, it might seem that way, but what about your real body?
(What do you mean? Are you saying that I’m not Himeno Miina after all?)
No no no, I do believe you Miena, especially after everything that happened.
(Then, isn’t it weird that the difference in thought process of me here and my real body is this big?)
No, not at all. Ever since the start of the second term, we’ve pretty much been together 24/7, Miena. We even shared our heartbeat and senses. We went to Akiba together, and worked together behind the scenes. You even taught me at school, and I achieved better results during the exam.
…But, that doesn’t mean my feelings and sentiments reached Himeno Miina. In her eyes, I’ve only been acting suspicious around her. There’s no way she would even know that I managed to get into the top 50 in math after almost failing. Miena knows about me. But, Himeno Miina doesn’t know a single thing about me. That’s just how it is. Being rejected like that, it all started to make sense. I was expecting reality to be kind to me.
(…Hmmm, you might not be too far off. But, I still can’t accept this.)
Why? You’re just on my side because of our shared memories and time that we acquired over the past two weeks, right?
(N-No! Even after you saved me from falling down the stairs…I was already a bit, you know…Mumble mumble.)
She put her fingers together, fidgeting nervously. I couldn’t even pick up what she said in the second part. How am I supposed to guess what you’re thinking?
(I-It’s fine, as long as I understand it. You’re not wrong, but that still doesn’t explain why I declined exchanging our contact addresses. Even my main body was interacting with you, if only for a bit.)
But, isn’t that way of interacting not good at all?
(It couldn’t be helped that you were acting a bit suspicious like that. But, even with the other three girls around, only she caught on to you and your intentions. Even though we didn’t even call out to her directly.)
You really are turning this into a tactical gal game, huh. Terrifying. Well, speaking from the results, I was denied in the end, so there’s no way but to accept it.
(Urk…why am I so frustrated towards not hearing my own contact address…I feel like an idiot…!)
I’m glad you finally understand what it means to not be a popular guy. Once you go back to your main body, maybe you’ll be a bit more kind to us unpopular guys.
(I understand how hard it is. I also have to accept that I was letting my guard down, thinking it would be easy because it’s me.)
Well, the player character you’re operating is just that useless. I guess we have to raise my stats some more first. Can’t be rushing things.
(Why are you this calm!? You’re suddenly the one rationally analyzing this event instead of me.)
If anything, it’d be unnatural for a guy like me to suddenly get Himeno Miina’s contact information. From the viewpoint of Shouma and the other guys, it’d probably be a lot more believable if the world ended tomorrow.
(You don’t need to care about your evaluation from the people around you. This is a problem between you and my main body.)
And as for that problem, I was rejected flat-out today. Then again, my lack of confidence might be another reason for that.
(Confidence, huh…It’s weird, you seem to be totally fine when talking to your childhood friend though?)
Where did that come from!?
I mean, she’s my childhood friend after all.
(Even though you can’t even properly talk with my real body…)
I told you, you’re special.
(Special because you admire me from an objective point of view, huh. I see, I see.)
Urk, always so rebellious towards everything. I’m sorry, alright. I know I’m not good enough. But, I could at least talk with her more compared to before, right? It’s just as you said, I should keep up my work instead of trying to achieve everything at once. It wouldn’t be interesting at all if I could suddenly treat her like Rion.
(Not wrong, but the progress has gone backwards compared to before…)
T-That’s…Uhhh…Ah, I know! It was probably because of her club. Since Himeno Miina had her club to attend to, she didn’t have much time to properly think it through. She surely just was rushing things because of that, which is why we couldn’t talk for long.
(It was just about a few minutes, you know. I’m not that pesky of a person when it comes to my schedule.)
Honestly, you seem very focused on efficiency. Like you’re always keeping cost and reward in your head. So rather than talking with me for a few minutes, you’d probably want to hit a few more times in your badminton practice.
(Am I a demon or something? Because of that, you’re about to walk right into the childhood friend route…What is my main doing, not even knowing of my own feelings…)
Seeing Miena act this way towards herself was quite absurdly comical.
(…What are you laughing about?)
Oh, not good. I was warned because I couldn’t hold back a grin. Her tone was the same when she pointed out any mistakes when I was learning math. Her face was smiling, but her heart wasn’t. She clearly is a demon.
(If it was me, I would have taken my time…Geez.)
Miena let out a defeated sigh. It can’t be helped, Himeno Miina is on the level of a near-impossible Demon Lord class demonic heroine. I’m not the type of person who could dream to conquer her.
(Rather than a heroine, I turned into the last boss, huh…)
Did you finally understand? There’s absolutely no romantic interest to be found.
(It’s weird…My reaction doesn’t make any sense…)
It does, considering that I’m a mob bastard.
(It’s not normal…My attitude compared to last time is vastly different, and vague.)
Not like Himeno Miina?
(Exactly. A reason for that might be that it’s you, Itsuki-kun.)
Why would I make a difference?
(Y-You don’t have to think that deeply into it! Just me talking to myself, not related to the conquest at all!)
You’re probably just blabbering about some weird gal game knowledge, right?
(Don’t call it weird, okay. I just know. I wouldn’t say something like that. Normally, I would exchange my phone number no problem…I don’t get it…)
It was evident that Miena ended up in a bad mood. It’s like I’ve woken an entity that should have been left alone. A wise man stays away from danger, as they say.
(I’m not some entity, nor are you a wise man. It’s just…something weird is going on with my main body.)
Seriously? Are we reaching a time limit where you can’t return to your main body!?
(Maybe. I never experienced something like this before, so I can’t say for certain though.)
At the very least, we can assume that it doesn’t influence her thinking abilities. She got her usual first rank in the exams. If anything, my head is slowly turning into a mushed up mess of gal game knowledge.
(What might you be talking about? Well, leaving aside your newfound joy for gal games, isn’t there something you realized when looking at my real body today?)
She was as cute as always, that’s for sure…Gufufufu…hehehe…
(I wasn’t asking about that! Today, my real body was using much more casual language towards you, right? Before, I would always speak as politely as possible.)
Casual language? Did she? I don’t remember much because I was just spacing out. Maybe she just judged that she didn’t have to be polite towards trash like me? Ah, I want to die.
(There’s no way I would act differently just because of that. Remember, I don’t even use casual language with girls I’m close with. It seems more like some change in her mental attitude happened over those past two weeks.)
Weren’t you using casual language from the very start, Miena?
(Well yeah, after ending up in this kind of situation, what good would being distant do?)
As a result of that, I didn’t even know who called out to me in the beginning, yeah. So, what does that mean in terms of progress? She still doesn’t want to exchange her contact information with me, but the distance between us shrunk?
(I don’t know what kind of change caused this difference in behaviour, but I do think that you’ve gotten closer. Since I’m saying it, there’s no mistaking it.)
I feel like you’re just too bugged of a supporting character.
(How rude, I’m the same me as always. My real body is acting off, okay.)
So that means, I should hurry up and try to get closer to her before any more negative impact happens?
(Summed up, that’s about it. Our time limit might be closer than we think.)
Guess I can’t stay like this forever. Helping Himeno Miina is important, but you are just as important, Miena.
My words must have taken Miena by surprise, as she looked at me in shock. I should probably try and regularly talk to Himeno Miina, so that she doesn’t come to hate me. I shouldn’t get my expectations up to immediately reach the goal. Everyday conversations are the best. It’s still hard as all hell, but better than nothing…
(It seems like your motivation has gone up at least. And, if you end up in a pinch during a conversation, then I have something up my sleeve!)
What, you have like an ace in the hole!? Just use that from the very beginning!
(I can’t, it’s like a double-edged sword, so I can’t just bring that out immediately.)
I got a really bad feeling about this.
(Now that it’s come to this, we’ll challenge my real body again tomorrow. I’m sure she must feel guilty about having rejected you like that.)
You think that we can still exchange contact information like that?
(Of course, I can see it being possible.)
Asking a girl who already rejected me once again, I feel like this time she’ll definitely think of me as creepy.
(Exchanging contact information is the reference for when you made it onto her route. At the same time, if you can’t achieve even that, then the conquest is a failure.)
But, since she rejected me once, isn’t this already a game over?
(Eh? Being rejected as the protagonist is a common occurrence in gal games, you know?)
What kind of gal game is that supposed to be? I definitely don’t want to play that. Can’t we just go with a more recent one? The one where I’m popular without even doing anything?
(That’s just too boring of a conquest if you manage to get on the route right away. Success comes from effort, and this connects to your confidence. So, we’ll aim for that.)
Well, it’s true that I might be a bit more confident if I succeeded here. Though, I’d at least like to hear about this hidden trump card you were talking about. I won’t know how to react if you suddenly take it out during the real deal.
(It’s not that big of a deal to be honest. Basically, you just have to mention my own hobby towards my real body.)
Your hobby? Are you talking about how you’re a gal game maniac?
(Phrasing! You’re making me sound like some weirdo!)
Alright alright, you’re a gal game lover.
(Doesn’t feel like you changed much…but, it’s better. Anyway, just tell her that you happened to spot her while buying gal games in Akiba before.)
Miena-san? I feel like that’s getting close to threatening!?
(That’s why it’ll be like a last resort. After all, it might end up building greater distrust towards you, and she might stay away from you as a result.)
That’s definitely not good! It’ll have the opposite effect of what we want to do! It really is too much of a double-edged sword.
(If things work out, she’ll think of you as something like an ally, you know? I always wanted friends who shared my hobby. Hearing that you like gal games would be a big boost in likeability, no doubt.)
Of course, if it was any other normal girl, she’d probably be grossed out. Even I would be.
(Grrr…then, why don’t you just start playing gal games yourself? That’s right! You buy that gal game my real body bought a few days back. If I properly guide you, it’ll be easy peasy!)
I told you before, right. I get nervous when playing gal games, and buying it is embarrassing as well…
(I knew it, it’s a severe problem. If you even get nervous towards girls in the game, you need to get used to real girls as quickly as possible.)
Isn’t it normally the other way around!? For now, we won’t use this hidden trump card, alright. I’m glad I asked beforehand, I guess I’ve gotten used to dealing with Miena now. If only it was that easy for 3D girls.
(For that, we’ll go on the attack again tomorrow.)
Ahh, I’m scared. If I get rejected like that again, I might not be able to go to school again.
(I’ll cheer you up once I’m back to my main body, so cheer up!)
For a day, an awkward stop was hammered into our conquest strategy, but thanks to the moral support of my hidden heroine Miena, I will once again challenge Himeno Miina tomorrow.
The following day, inside my classroom, as the other classmates were discussing during homeroom, I wasn’t even looking at the blackboard, but instead outside the window. Or more accurately, at the direction where Miena was sitting. At school, her most prominent position was on that very window frame. However, she wasn’t particularly sitting on it, just floating above it. Why not just make your clothes see-through instead of your entire body, huh?
(We’ll be waiting at the gym hall again today, once classes are over. And, make sure not to bring up gym clothes!”
She must have sensed my wicked thoughts, as she gave me an immediate retort, which only reached my ears. Yeah yeah, I got it.
(Grrr…you need to reflect on this sort of stuff.)
Like this, as Miena and I were discussing things in our own world, the atmosphere inside the classroom grew more excited all the same.
“So, do we have any volunteers?” The class representative’s voice reverberated through the otherwise quiet classroom.
Our class representative is the honor student type of person, with girly twintails befitting her image. Ever since we got into the second-term, she’s gotten used to standing in front of my classmates. In the beginning, she had this role as the class rep pushed onto her, and clearly didn’t like it. I couldn’t be bothered either, but one person has to do it eventually. Well, I’m sure that getting trust back from her classmates helped out a lot as well.
(…I’m sure she’d be happy to know that you feel this way, Itsuki-kun.)
And yet, Miena was the one smiling in happiness. However, even as the class rep got used to her work, nobody would offer a response. The classroom was only filled by my classmates, and although somebody was always making noise in class, now nothing but an eerie silence reigned. It’s almost like they all turned into mob characters, hiding inside the crowd. Don’t just steal my identity as a mob character, will you.
(So then, what about this one mob over here?)
Huh? Me? Don’t joke around. There’s no way I’d take responsibility for our class’ exhibition. Today’s homeroom was there for us to decide on who would be the leader for the attraction our class decided on to offer during next month’s culture festival. On a side note, a vote lead to it being a haunted house. Since nobody offered to volunteer as the person in charge, it was clear that they all rather wanted to have fun themselves over enabling other people to have fun, I guess. At times like these, would Himeno Miina raise her hand to volunteer, I wonder?
(I wouldn’t. I don’t have the personality to do something like that with passion. However, even so, I would often end up with these roles after all.)
So you’re the type who can’t say no when push comes to shove.
(Yeah…But, since this is my first culture festival, I’m actually looking forward to it. Although…)
(I really want to play this new gal game, so I can’t be bothered about the culture festival, you know.)
Again with your gal games!? More than the culture festival? You really are the weird one here out of you two…
“If we don’t have volunteers, I won’t mind any recommendations, so won’t anybody please step forth?”
Two female students stood in front of the teacher’s pult, with our homeroom teacher crossing her legs as she sat on a chair in the corner of the room, giving the students a testing gaze.
“Let me ask again, is there anybody who would volunteer to take responsibility for our class’ attraction?” Another girl standing next to the class rep spoke up.
She’s the president of the culture festival execution committee. This role was decided in the first term with a lot of priority. However, now that the actual preparations began, and the real work started, she might have actually begun to regret her decision. At the very least, that’s what her expression showed.
(A great observing eye.)
Mobs act while being conscious of the situation and ranking in class. We can’t get in the way of the protagonists or the heroines. I’m busy with my own role. So, this is a necessary skill.
(What a mob mentality. A professional mob…a pro mob. Wait, you’re the protagonist, Itsuki-kun! Be aware of that, geez!)
Yeah yeah, I get it.
(Today, we’re going to raise a flag with your own heroine, so do your best!)
I got it, I got it. Ahh, I can’t wait to see Himeno Miina in her gym clothes again today.
(You’re talking about that again…? Once I’m back to my main body, you can look at that…No, even now, I’m always ready to…)
Huh? Miena slowly stood up from the window frame. Right as I was confused about what she was talking about, her uniform suddenly started to turn even more transparent, and—Ehhh!? Her clothes are actually transparent now! I mean, I was thinking about how nice it would be just now, but you can’t do this! We’re in the middle of the class right now! Well, only I can see it, but that doesn’t matter right now!
Various emotions started to dwell up inside of me, and after Miena’s were close to appear entirely, what appeared was—A-A gym class uniform!? Without anybody realizing, there stood Miena looking like that. Even though she had been wearing a normal uniform not too long ago, she now changed into an average gym class uniform. In comparison to her normal uniform, she wore short pants, and the legs reaching down from them were long and healthy…even a bit lewd, it’s weird.
Even though a fully-fledged fall had arrived, Miena’s cheeks were beet red. Rather than her crimson short pants she was wearing, her face seemed more like a tomato.
(E-Even I can wear gym clothes like this…Although it’s embarrassing.)
Her expression was distorted in nervosity and tension. At the same time, I was assaulted by this guilty pleasure of being the only one who gets to see our school’s idol in such bashful fashion.
(W-With this, you should be used to it, so don’t be nervous when the real me appears looking like this, okay!? You have to pull yourself together for the heroine conquest.)
“Yes, I’ll do it!” I answered with full confidence, having stood up with great momentum.
“Ohh? Now that’s an unexpected volunteer. Saotome, you want to take care of our class’ attraction?” In the middle of the ongoing homeroom, my homeroom teacher stood up, inspecting me.
“Eh? No, um…this is…”
(H-Hey! What are you doing!?)
“Seriously, OtsuOtsu volunteered!”
“Saotome-kun did? You’re kidding, right…”
“OtsuOtsu! A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one!”
My classmates were giving me dubious glances. I was only showing my determination for the heroine conquest, and yet I stood up for the one responsible for our class’ attraction…N-Now I messed up! Oh no, even the class rep and execution committee president were looking at me in surprise. Although they finally found a candidate, they both had such complicated expressions on their faces.
Is it because it’s me? Are they nervous because it’s me? That’s fine, I don’t remember volunteering in the first place! Not at all!
(You say that, but you stood up and proudly declared that you volunteer as a tribute.)
Miena gave me an exhausted look, while still wearing her gym class clothes. Besides here, there was also a student who didn’t give me an anxious look, but rather one filled with expectations and admiration—It was Rion. Just when I was wondering what she was about to do, Rion shot up from her chair at a momentum that wouldn’t lose to me.
“Um! I’ll become the vice supervisor for our class’ attraction!”
She actually volunteered as the vice supervisor next to me. Also, did we even have a role like that?
(If she’s going to take the job of the vice supervisor, then I’m going to be the assistant of said vice supervisor!)
Don’t you join in as well! What about doing your role passionately, huh!? Also, why does the vice supervisor need an assistant!? At least be my assistant instead…
(This clearly is the individual route we’re about to enter!)
Who will enter whose individual route!?
(Eh? I’ll be entering Rion-chan’s route of course.)
Why are you acting as the protagonist now!? Wasn’t I supposed to be the protagonist!?
(Ah! Oh yeah, you’re right. I’m not the protagonist right now…)
I ignored the depressed Miena, and glanced over at Rion. Why did she suddenly volunteer like that? It makes no sense to me.
(What kind of dense protagonist are you? Being this dense is so old-fashioned.)
I don’t really get it, but I think I was dissed just now, right?
(Your reaction just now makes you a perfect protagonist, it’s crazy.)
I decided to ignore the gal game otaku who kept rambling on about this nonsense.
“If Shiina-san were to become the vice supervisor, then there wouldn’t be a problem I suppose.” The class rep sighed in relief, and accepted Rion as a candidate.
Now I really can’t pull back from this whole thing anymore, huh.
(The culture festival, huh…This might be a good chance for you to get some more confidence, Itsuki-kun. I’ll be supporting you, so why not take this responsibility?)
You make it sound so simple. Even if I actually went along with this whole supervisor thing, the real problem is Rion. Dealing with her means I would have to step into the ring of this class. After all, she’s pretty popular here.
(This might be your chance to find a place inside your class, you know?)
Doesn’t sound very convincing from the person who literally is at the center of this entire school. Well, if I have your help, then I don’t mind. But, I don’t want to make more enemies just because I’m getting closer to Rion, nor do I want there to be any weird rumours going around. Also, Rion shouldn’t have the time to help with our class…
“U-Um…Shiina-san isn’t very good at dealing with scary things, and she doesn’t know too much about good horror, so could I request someone else as the vice supervisor?” I asked for permission from the class prez and the execution committee president.
“Itsuki!? What are you—”
(So Rion-chan was bad with scary stuff…that’s also cute though.)
Nah, Rion actually likes horror and everything related to it. She’s not so fragile who’d get scared by a high school haunted house.
(Fragile…Of course she is, she’s a girl after all!)
Because of my words, my classmates’ gazes changed to looking at me like a mob again.
“That’s a childhood friend for you!”
“OtsuOtsu, you really know a lot about Shiina! You like her or something?”
All of them turned towards me, poking fun at me relentlessly.
(Nope~! Itsuki-kun actually likes…uuhh…me…Mumble mumble…)
It sounded like Miena was arguing against them…with a voice even I could barely hear.
“Saotome-kun, who would you like to recommend then?”
I can understand the class rep’s annoyed face, since I pretty much just denied the conclusion of this incident. However, there’s no better person to help me with haunted houses. After all, he’s working part-time at a genuine haunted house. See, the guy who’s resting his head on his desk, sleeping.
“Yes, I’d like to recommend the haunted house professional!”
After that, Rion was removed from her position as the vice supervisor, and I became the one responsible for the class’ haunted house project after my virtuous (?) decision to volunteer. In the end, whether you’re popular in class or not, the thought process of ‘Anybody is fine’ probably is the strongest in this world.
“Itsuki, what is this about?!”
After homeroom ended, Rion walked towards me, as her long hair shook with every move she made.
“Hm? Ah, sorry about that. They ended up getting the wrong idea.”
“No, that’s not what I meant. If anything, I wouldn’t have minded that one bit…Wait, no! Why did you lie and forcefully make me retire as a candidate!?”
(Rion-chan…she’s so cute.)
“Sorry for lying like that. But, you don’t have the time to act as my vice supervisor, right?”
“T-That’s not true! It’s easy peasy!”
“Rion, you have to help with the attraction of your tennis club, right? You must have your hands full with that.”
“You were the one who said you’d be busy. So, leave this to me.”
(I see, a childhood friend’s thoughtfulness, is it. How nice~)
“…Well, whatever. Since you actively wanted to participate this time, I’ll leave it at that! Ehehe~”
“Why are you laughing like that?”
“Don’t mind me~ Just, a lot happened when you were in grade school, so…you know? Since then, you’ve been keeping your distance from other people, and stopped trying to deal with others. That’s why I was a bit worried, thinking that this might have been my fault.”
“How would that be your fault? It was a problem within my family, right?”
“Maybe if I had listened to you more, you know? After all, you did so much for me, and I couldn’t give you anything back.”
“Did I do something for you?”
“Ahh, you’re really saying that now? When I was young, a certain someone forcefully dragged me outside since I was just playing with girl friends of mine, but I can’t quite remember who?”
“Huh? I thought you were praising me, but now it just sounds like you’re blaming me!?”
“You pulled the introverted me out into the outside world, so I’m thankful for that. Not to mention that I got into tennis as well. And yet, you became the introvert instead of me~”
(So that’s what happened…)
She was still hung up on that? Is that why she kept inviting me all the time? Well, the reason I started living in my fantasies rather than the real world isn’t related to Rion though.
“Don’t you worry about me, I’m living my life the way I want to.”
“But recently, you changed a bit, Itsuki. I mean, you volunteered as the supervisor today. It’s like you’re trying to be more active…Ah! But, when it comes to Hime, you should probably think more before you act. Right now, you got no chance at all, Itsuki!”
(That’s not true at all. After all, this is a problem between me and Itsuki-kun, yup yup.)
“N-None of your business. I know what to do.”
Yet, Miena sounded much more convincing than me.
“Well, just let me know if you need some advice in love, I have much more experience than you after all.”
“Hm!? W-Well, yeah. I’ve been…dealing with love for a long time now.”
“Oh really, I had no idea.”
“E-Enough about me. Regarding Hime, come ask me for advice first, otherwise you’ll just end up hurt!”
Rion behind these mysterious words, and walked away. Why did she suddenly bring up Himeno Miina like that? Are her emotions unstable or something?
(You’re a pretty good protagonist, you know that. I kind of want you to suffer a bit now.)
Why!? For some reason, my support character is emotionally unstable as well now.
(Well, your heart wouldn’t race at all this time, so I’ll let this slide.)
S-Scary…You’re not making any sense. Also, what about next time then…?
“Itsuki~ What were you talking about with Shiina?” Shouma seemed to have finally woken up from his slumber, asking me to gather more information as always.
Well, he surely doesn’t know because of him being asleep all the way through the homeroom.
“Ain’t got anything to do with you, Shouma. More importantly, let’s both do our best for our class and attraction.”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“I’m the supervisor, and you became my vice supervisor, so I’m leaving the haunted house to you.”
“Huh!? I didn’t hear about this!”
Since I recommended Shouma, who was asleep, it was decided without his consent. These kinds of things actually get decided fairly smoothly. And, while ignoring Shouma’s futile complaints, I simply prepared myself for this afternoon.
Finally, classes ended, as Miena and I stood in front of the gym hall as yesterday. Since I got to see Miena up close in her gym clothes, I surely won’t be as nervous again with Himeno Miina today. Still, what a convenient ability that you can just change your appearance like that.
(Doesn’t seem like I can just change into whatever I want though.)
Really? So how could you change into gym clothes like that?
(Right now, a great portion of each of us is connected to each other, so if you can imagine it strongly enough, I can change my outer appearance, or something like that.)
So basically, I was that desperate to see Himeno Miina in her gym clothes…how embarrassing.
(I’m the one who’s supposed to be embarrassed! G-Geez…I wear these clothes like any others, but to think you were looking at me this way…)
(Well, whatever. As a gal game protagonist, you get a perfect score.)
Are you making fun of me again!?
(More importantly, this is weird. My real body isn’t coming at all today.)
We’ve been waiting this entire time, but the target showed no signs of appearing. Yeah, something’s off for sure.
(I don’t think I would split up from that group just like that.)
Maybe she went to the toi—
(Awawawawa! If you proceed that thought any further, I’ll wake you up in the middle of the night, okay!)
Scary, seriously. Well, it’s a habit of mine to fantasize, so I already imagined that sight.
(What’s wrong? Were you imagining something weird after all…?)
No no no. Look over there, isn’t that Himeno Miina? We stood in the center of the pathway connecting the gym hall and school building, and around 30m away from there, I spotted a bright light coming from the courtyard. It had to be Himeno Miina.
(I’m not some light, and neither do I give off some divine aura like you make it sound…)
Having felt Himeno Miina’s presence nearby, I rushed off towards the courtyard.
(Wah, it really is me…S-Scary!)
It’s not scary at all. It’s one of my standard features. But, I wonder what she’s doing here? Club is about to start, and yet she’s still wearing her normal school uniform. As for the gym clothes…I’ve seen those already today, so I’m fine.
(Enough with the gym clothes. Though, I am curious what she’s up to.)
I stood a bit further away, observing her from a distance. She carried some heavy-looking cardboard box, so she probably was transporting it to an outhouse. I ignored the whole heroine conquest thing for a moment, and just decided to help Himeno Miina first.
(Ohh? Itsuki-kun, you’re so proactive today.)
“? Saotome-kun!?” Himeno Miina seemed bewildered at my sudden appearance.
“Sorry…for the sudden interruption. It looked heavy, so…I’ll carry it for you.”
As always, my words sounded lame and creepy. But, now isn’t the time for self-deprecation, I need to help her.
“Eh, ah, t-thanks…But, it’s heavy, you know?”
Still a bit confused, Himeno Miina put the cardboard box on the ground. Her odd behaviour had me curious, but the same goes for the contents of the box. I wonder what’s in there.
(It’s weird seeing me react in a way that I don’t understand, really.)
Miena tilted her head, and closely inspected her main body. Since Miena had returned to her normal uniform appearance, they looked like siblings standing next to each other…Well, they are the same person after all.
“It does look heavy, but…is it something that could break if it falls to the ground?”
(You don’t need to be so formal, it’s just me.)
Yeah, but she’s Himeno Miina, not Miena, okay.
Miena directed a pout of protest at me. I guess even if they are the same person, I can’t help but tense up when it comes to the main heroine. If I make the wrong choice here, it’ll completely ruin the atmosphere. That’s the main difference to you, Miena.
(She’s just any other gal game otaku, you know!)
Ah, so you finally admitted it? Not to mention without your main body being aware of it. Also, why are you trying to head chop your own body, stop that.
“It might be. It has two gas cookers inside.”
“My class will be doing a maid cafe for the culture festival. I was chosen as the supervisor for that, so I’m already in the middle of my preparations.”
So even Himeno Miina got forced into being the supervisor, huh.
(That’s what I’d expect from myself! My classmates have great trust in my abilities, ha ha ha!)
You say that yourself!? I bet it was just pushed onto her.
(It pains me to say it, but it sure sounds that way…Haa, that’s very much like me again.)
Not just like you, she is the person in question, and the real one. Unlike you, Miena.
“That sounds hard.”
Considering Miena’s words just now, I spoke up again.
“It is hard for sure, but there’s a lot to gain as well. It really makes me feel like I’m participating in the culture festival if I help prepare like this, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the happy faces of the visitors we get.”
Hey now, isn’t this the exact opposite of what you were saying? She sounds like an absolute honor student.
(W-Weird…why am I so motivated…)
Just as Miena had pointed out, Himeno Miina seemed dedicated to the preparations. That’s Himeno Miina for you, she’s completely different from a certain gal game otaku.
(Hm? Hmpf! Why are you treating me so much different from my real body!?)
Miena pointed at her real body, full of hostility. If Miena was real, her index finger would have touched Himeno Miina’s cheek by now. I mean, just look at her, she’s way too cute.
(What do you mean by that! Hmpf, just let me carry the heavy stuff already!)
As I was busy appreciating Himeno Miina’s existence, Miena complained even further, hehe.
“Ahh, really…So cute…”
(Hey! You said that out loud!)
Not good! Since I was thinking about Miena, I relaxed too much and let that slip!
“………” Himeno Miina looked at me in a daze.
“Ah, I’m…sorry! It’s nothing. Anyway, I’ll carry this for you! Where does this go?!”
I need to focus on Himeno Miina now, not Miena!
(Grrrr…that face of hers is just annoying me now…!)
“I was planning on carrying this to the empty classroom on the third floor of the east building, but are you sure? This is pretty heavy.”
She probably doesn’t know that I’m part of the go-home club. However, she surely judged that my body would have trouble carrying whatever is in there. Ahh, I wish I had worked out a bit more.
(Rather than Mr. I’m going home today, my real body is a trained badminton player, so just leave it to me.)
Like hell I could do that! Is there any protagonist who’d ignore his main heroine who’s in trouble like this!?
“Alright! One, two, up we go!”
I lowered my waist, and put all the strength I had into my legs. Oh, it’s not that heavy. Maybe 15kg at best? It’s no biggie at all.
“Isn’t it heavy!? I can carry it on my own, so don’t push yourself, okay?”
“No problem, I’m confident when it comes to physical labour…Ah, whoops.”
(You’re not fine at all! Your heart is racing again! Just let me carry it!)
My heart is racing because of another reason, okay. I’m talking with Himeno Miina, this intimately…
(Even though I’m always much closer to you!?)
While I carried the cardboard box with both my hands, we entered the school building, and went up the stairs. The weight itself isn’t a problem at all, but going up to the third floor is pretty tough. Himeno Miina was right behind me, paying attention that I won’t lose my balance and fall. She really is as kind as an angel.
“Don’t force yourself, okay? About yesterday, I actually…”
My angel was saying something, but I was too focused on properly carrying this cardboard box. I can’t afford to fail here, otherwise I might really just stop coming to school, so I put all my attention on the carrying.
(I’m not an angel or anything…Rejecting Itsuki-kun’s invitation, despite him working so earnestly…I won’t forgive that, you demon heroine…Mumble mumble.)
Not only from behind me, now I even heard faint muttering from a certain ghost next to me. Even though it was the same voice, the tone sounded like it came from a totally different person. I somehow managed to carry the box up to the third floor, and walked away like a dignified protagonist—I lied as naturally as I breathed, because I was running like a cat terrified of thunder because my heart wouldn’t take it anymore. However, I feel like I’ve forgotten something…
(The whole exchanging contact information bit, yeah.)
Night arrived, and as always, I was forced to reflect on my actions today. Regarding my conquest attempt today, it was an utter failure. However, I gathered some crucial information, so I’ll count it as a success in that regard.
That I’ll get to see Himeno Miina wearing a maid uniform during the culture festival! Hell yeah! Heh heh heh.
(Wah, who cares about information like that…Also, since I’ll be the supervisor, I won’t be wearing a maid uniform, you know?)
(Eh…why are you so depressed about that…I wouldn’t really know about that, not like it even matters that much…)
It feels like I fell from heaven down to the deepest layer of hell.
(A-Alright, I get it! Once I’m back together with my main body, I’ll let you, you know…Although it’s really embarrassing…)
Seriously!? Hell yeah! I need to hurry and get Himeno Miina’s contact information!
(About that, I feel like the chances of that have gone up a lot thanks to today’s event.)
(However, I feel like you also raised the affection of another heroine in the mix. Even though the most important act right now is to focus on a single heroine rather than several…)
There’s other heroines in my gal game? First time I heard of that.
(How dense of a protagonist can you be? You need to be a bit more sensitive towards the other heroines’ feelings. This isn’t some light novel, you know?)
So I need to become more of a gal game fanatic for it to really click?
(You’re making fun of me again, right. Tomorrow, we’ll exchange contact information with my real body for sure, okay?)
Yup! While fantasizing about Himeno Miina’s maid uniform, I headed to bed. Miena usually falls asleep quite fast, it’s something that I’ve grown accustomed to over these past two weeks. Normally, I would use her faint breathing as BGM to make me fall asleep, but today I heard nothing of that. Since she wasn’t right next to me, but rather floating above me, I can’t confirm anything either.
I caught on to this irregularity, and called out to her in a way that only she could hear. However, no response came. What’s going on? Where is she? I tried to raise my body amidst the darkness, but I failed to move my upper body. And it wasn’t just that, my entire being was wrapped in an odd comfortable feeling and sense of tranquility, it’s like my brain was denying to give out orders to my body.
This peaceful sensation…is this a dream? Maybe I felt so happy and delighted at simply being able to talk with Himeno Miina that I fell asleep in an instant? Right as I wanted to turn my body, an unfamiliar object popped up in my view. It was right next to my head, consisting of white fabric with frills attached. At first, I thought I was just looking at my curtains, but there shouldn’t be anything close to me.
I moved my gaze along the laces, finding a silky sparkling fabric reminding me of polyester. The color of this fabric seemed black to me, but was that simply because of my surroundings being this dark? Right as I decided to simply give in to this feeling, this unknown object suddenly started moving ever so gently.
(Oh, did I wake you up?)
An angelic voice tickled my ears. Of course, it wasn’t an angel at all. It was Miena’s clear voice that I had heard so many times recently. What, it’s just you, Miena? When you’re this close to me, it really feels like you’re right next to me.
Hm…? Right next to me!? Why are you this close!? Eh, what even is going on…!? I moved my eyes, trying to understand this situation I found myself in.
(H-Hey, don’t stare at me like this…It’s embarrassing…!)
I immediately understood just why she felt embarrassed. The fabric that had been in my sight this entire time actually belonged to a maid uniform she was wearing. Right now, she wore the type of gothic maid uniform that I was imagining right before heading to bed. Because of the darkness surrounding me, I couldn’t say for certain, but I think that her clothes were drenched in a black tone. After all, that’s what I wished for. However, there is one thing that doesn’t make much sense. Why…why are you giving me a lap pillow!?
(Ehehehe, when talking about maids, you can’t forget a lap pillow with ear cleaning, right~)
What kind of knowledge is that supposed to be!? From gal games!? If so, then I love gal games! Accurately speaking, since I can’t touch Miena like this, it’s just a fake lap pillow, but because this happened in the darkness, my heart started racing faster.
(Uuuu…is this really Itsuki-kun’s heartbeat…or is it mine…?)
So this is the destructive power of gal games…!?
(Ohh? Have you finally understood the charm of gal games, Itsuki-kun? That’s great! In gal games, the heroines would cosplay like this, and…Oh yeah, in the gal game I played before…)
—Ahh, I’m so happy. I can experience something like a dream in reality. Until now, I would have never imagined that I would get to spend such a blissful time like this. If only this time could continue forever…As my head was slowly dozing off, a certain thought popped up in my head. Do I actually like Himeno Miina? Whenever I interact with her at school, amidst my nervosity, are there really any romantic feelings filling my chest?
The answer—is no. I’ve realized it now. Rather than talking with Himeno Miina at school, I feel much more bliss when I interact with this maid girl that’s giving me a lap pillow right now. Rather than the facade that Himeno Miina is acting out, I much more like Miena who reveals her honest feelings.
During the first term, just like every other student, I was looking at Himeno Miina like an idol. However, she’s no idol at all, but just another high school student who has her own share of problems. You could find a girl like her everywhere—is what I would say, but surely it’ll be hard to meet a girl who is this much into gal games.
It’s true that Himeno Miina is my type, and in the dead center of my strikezone. However, more than any of that, I’ve started to awaken to a loving heart which is directed at Miena, who always supports me.
Although I feel happy that she’s making me happy by wearing what I fantasize about, more than anything—I long to touch her. And yet, even though she’s this close to me, I can’t feel her, which leaves me empty inside. It really is a shame that my main heroine isn’t even available as a target to conquer. Can I just throw a complaint at the game publisher?
…If Miena goes back to her main body, I wonder what will happen. Will all her memories we spent together vanish, with us going back to how we were in our first term? At school, we’re just heroine and mob. I may know of her real personality, but she does not know of me. Just thinking about this makes it feel like my heart is being torn apart.
Of course, I’m worried about Himeno Miina herself, but the sense of danger and fear of losing Miena entirely is much stronger. At the same time as I wish for things to stay like this forever, I also know that we need to return her as quickly as possible. Of course, there’s no way I can tell Miena about these twisted feelings of mine.
(—And then, the way you had to raise a flag with that heroine was so unique! You had to move onto another heroine’s route, and change it during that. It was a lot of work for me to…Itsuki-kun, are you even listening!?)
After all, I can’t suddenly change my route mid-playthrough.