As a high school student, I lived with the personality I thought I was the opposite of. This side of me was easier. I was able to be honest about my true feelings, which I had been hiding until then.
“—-You’re in my way. Move”
That’s all it takes for those around me to get out of the way.
I have lived with this since late middle school. My classmates in junior high school were puzzled by the sudden change in my personality and appearance.
When I first entered the school, I was sharp.
I am aware that I was particularly harsh towards men.
I know the cause of what happened to Mukawa-kun. If only I had rejected him when he came to talk to me in the library, it wouldn’t have happened.
While I disliked the man more and more, I had other feelings toward Mukawa-kun, the benefactor who saved me.
As soon as I entered the school, I was immediately out of place.
No wonder. Because a delinquent had entered a progressive school. Even so, I was not bothered by it, and I just went about my life with my hands in my pockets, ignoring the voices of those around me.
Even though I was a delinquent, I was a phony. I didn’t dye my hair because I didn’t want to get in trouble, and I didn’t open my earrings because I was scared.
Some guys would occasionally confess their feelings for me, but I would just cut them off.
“Like me? I hate you. How could you tell me with that face? Look in the mirror and try again.”
“Don’t call me. You’re bothering me.”
“I’m not going out with you just to try it out.”
I really cut them off.
But being a small person by nature, I was scared to death as I spat out the strong words.
……. I’m sorry. Please don’t get upset and attack me.
I used strong words while apologizing in my heart. It was the complete opposite of what I had been doing.
It was easy to live my life thinking that it was okay to be hated.
However, I had become popular, despite what I thought. For some reason, there were always girls around me. From them I got information, fashion tips, knowledge about clothing, stylish goods, and so on.
I was shy, serious, and timid at heart, so I equipped myself with the fashionable items that were recommended to me and learned enough information to be able to keep up with their conversations.
I was able to improve myself naturally.
When I came to realize it, I was elected as a goddess. I heard that I was very popular among women, let alone men. If I recall, there was always someone around me.
I even had a woman confess her feelings for me. I couldn’t use strong words, so I turned her down softly.
I wasn’t interested in being a goddess, but I was happy when I saw the people who had become goddesses.
Yuuhi Akazawa was an idol. When I was in junior high school, she was not someone I could compare myself to. I was happy that I could now stand shoulder to shoulder with that idol. By the way, I thought Akazawa and Inuyama were dating until then.
Umi Aoyama was an all-around athletic beauty. She had been famous in track and field since junior high school, and had even won awards for her performance in competitions. She was bright, cute, and someone I secretly admired.
Mayuki Shirase was from a different junior high school, but she was a cute mascot at Tenkain. She was a young lady, yet friendly and loved by many.
It was still fresh in my mind that heading to the conference room was complicated by the feeling of honor to be rubbing shoulders with such great people and the feeling of guilt for the things I had done in the past.
It all started when Inuyama-kun, now a male god, told me.
These guys were not goddesses.
Umi Aoyama was a terrible woman. She was best friends with Mukawa-kun, but she ignored him, talked ill of him, pushed him down the stairs, and seriously injured him.
Mayuki Shirase is Mukawa-kun’s ex-girlfriend who cheated on him and dumped him shortly after they started dating. Mukawa, who was already hurting, had his heart completely broken by this.
The most unforgivable person for me was Yuuhi Akazawa. Even though they had been childhood friends, and despite the fact that Mukawa-kun liked her so much, she trampled on his feelings without a shred of interest in him at all. I could not forgive her. I was annoyed at this woman who seemed uninterested in him despite the fact that he had feelings for her.
“You treated Shota, who helped you, like a criminal. And then, you played the victim, hoping to draw sympathy from the others.”
I heard these words in junior high school.
To be precise, I knew nothing about it. I didn’t defend Mukawa-kun as if he was being treated like a criminal. And yet, because I was friendly with the person who had wronged him, the people around me concluded that he was as evil as the rumors said.
There was no refutation.
There was no excuse for not knowing or not noticing. The other party was a close friend of Mukawa-kun’s, someone who truly cared about him.
I am not so brazen and shameless as to say “I didn’t know, so I forgive me” to such a person.
It is meaningless to say that revenge has already been taken and they have been sent to hell. The information would never reach Mukawa-kun, and even if he did know, I doubt he would be happy about it.
For me, that meeting was a turning point in many ways.
I felt like punching myself in the past for admiring these people even for a moment.
I was a sophomore in high school.
I was being followed by a certain underclassman.
Her name was Kanon Nijitani.
She was a gal who told me that she had a crush on me, and she started contacting me the day after I entered school. Apparently, she had been a fan since junior high school. There were several other girls like that, but she was the most aggressive. She had apparently come from Himemiya Jogakuin to meet me.
At first I didn’t pay any attention to her, but then Kanon-chan told me that she was going to have a stepbrother to get my attention.
“Heeh, at that age you’re going to have a brother?”
“Yes, Kanon is looking forward to it. He is coming over here next week.”
“That’s good to hear. What’s your brother’s name?”
I wasn’t that interested.
“……What is the last name of your new mother-to-be?”
“As I recall, it’s ‘Mukawa’.”
I thought my heart would skip a beat.
Mukawa-kun is coming back. And he will be attending Tenkain Academy.
I don’t know what I should look like when I meet him. Even so, the first thing I would have to do is apologize.
But I was lost.
Was it really an apology?
Isn’t it normal to bow and say, “Thank you for helping me.” In the first place, I did not personally do anything to him. What should I apologize for?
The day came when I was still in doubt.
Mukawa-kun did not want an apology.
He was about to be reborn. I could see it in his behavior from a distance. He was trying to live a new life in a new place without telling anyone that he was Shota Mukawa. It seemed to me that he was intentionally trying to detach himself from his past.
I could understand. Because I myself was like that.
If I could, I would have wanted to leave my past self behind too. But I couldn’t do that and stayed in the halfway house. With no intention of moving, and with a distinctive name to begin with, I have no plans to change my surname.
He took that chance.
His appearance and last name changed, and he lived his life without any information about his past.
If so, gratitude and apologies are counterproductive. Mukawa-kun is trying to get rid of Shota Mukawa. If I apologized, I would hurt him.
After much consideration, I decided not to contact him.
I tried to live my life thanking him in my heart for helping me. I decided that one day, if Mukawa-kun got pissed off at me and demanded an apology, I would try my best to apologize to him.
I adored his stepsister, Kanon-chan. It was a shallow attempt to return this feeling of inability to do anything for Mukawa-kun to her, his stepsister.
I was working at a bookstore a few stations away, where I was sure know one knows me. I was strangely serious and worked hard in my old appearance, trying to make it different from school because it was my job.
One day, a new person came to my office.
It was Mukawa-kun —no, it was Nijitani-kun.
I almost made a funny sound. Compared to the past, he had become a very handsome man.
How should I describe his face at that moment? He looked lost looking at me. It was no wonder. When I was working part-time, I was dressed in my old clothes in order not to stand out.
“Huh, do you know me?”
“We’ve never met before, have we?”
I panicked and made up for it.
I thought about changing my part-time job, but it would be strange for me to change my part-time job here. I had no choice now that we had met.
We were reunited in this way, but we kept our first meeting with each other. I was convinced by his attitude. The reason why he was somewhat awkward was probably because he had hidden something about me.
Both of us kept a distance from each other, not mentioning the past, and kept the distance of being part-time friends.
A few days later, a rumor circulated at school.
It was a nasty rumor that I was “Sugar d*ddy” or “compensated dating”. Of course, I was not.
I have no experience with men, and I still have a fear of men and cannot even touch them. Except for Nijitani. I don’t feel disgusted when I am near him, and I don’t feel uncomfortable when I touch him at my part-time job.
From what I heard from the conversation, it was probably when I was out with my father. We went shopping to buy a gift for my mother. I couldn’t decide the first time, so I spent a long time shopping the second time. On the way home, we had dinner at a restaurant.
It was just after Nijitani had started working at his new part-time job, so it was as if the timing was perfect.
I kept silent about the rumor.
Meanwhile, the rumor spread. Nijitani must have heard the rumors as well.
I kept silent because I thought it would make him feel better if I suffered the same pain he once experienced. I hoped that this would make me feel the same suffering that Nijitani-kun went through as I did.
But it turned out to be an unexpected turn of events.
The rumors disappeared. It was Nijitani-kun who dispelled them.
Why did you save me that day when I didn’t reach out to you, when you should have hated me?
When I asked him about it at his part-time job, he replied.
“I don’t like gossip and rumors. I saw Kuromine walking happily with your father before. I know your father’s face because he came here to pick you up. So I just told the girls in the vicinity. I was pissed off that they were talking nonsense.”
Why are you being so nice?
I hated myself for thinking only in the direction of revenge or retaliation.
I told Nijitani what was on my mind. And I told him about my past when I was a fool.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s not good if you keep on enduring. The longer you endure the pain, the more damage you accumulate, and the worse it will be, the more you will be crushed.”
Perhaps coming from his own experience, Nijitani’s words sunk in.
I then offered to talk to him at school. When I told him I was trying to cure my phobia of men, he reluctantly agreed. A lie. He was kind to me, so I felt inclined to talk to him at school. I wanted to let him know that he was the only special person I could talk to, because everyone around me thought I was a man-hater.
When I talked to him at school, it became a rumor that we were dating. I got impatient and convinced Kanon-chan to be my reason.
I reflected on the fact that I couldn’t do anything flashy, and continued my relationship with Nijitani as a mere part-time job companion.
I thought that relationship would be fine for a while. I thought I would take my time and build a new relationship with him.
The peaceful time was soon crushed.
Shirase brought Nijitani to the God meeting. And she said they were friends or something.
After that, we decided to have a test showdown. I studied hard and came out on top among the goddesses. Inuyama-kun took the game, but I felt good about my victory.
Since then, I have been thinking.
Those scum must not have been aware that [Shota Mukawa = Shota Nijitani]. His appearance has changed so much. There is no way they would have noticed.
Besides, if they had noticed, they would have harassed him again. If they don’t, then everything is fine for now. Which means that those scum have targeted Mukawa-kun with their excellent sense of smell.
…… I have no choice but to protect him.
I owe him a debt of gratitude.
I won’t make a mistake this time.
This time I will repay you.
I arrived home.
I still can’t decide if my feelings are those of love. Maybe I am feeling more like guilt or repaying a favor than liking someone.
However, Nijitani’s presence in my life has become bigger than my brother’s.
I have decided what direction I should take from now on.
First, I will protect him from other goddesses. And I will try not to let anyone notice that [Shota Mukawa = Shota Nijitani]. Finally, I will make sure of my feelings and face him.
To do so, I will be actively involved. In a new relationship, separating from the past.
I was unsure of what to do, but I made up my mind. I opened the front door with determination in my heart.