After the morning homeroom ended, I began preparing for the next class while observing Gindou-san in the front seat. She took out a strawberry-flavored candy from her bag, put it in her mouth, and her cheeks slightly relaxed.
“Ah, Natsuko-san, would you like some too?”
Without changing her expression much or moving her body much, she responded and turned to offer me a candy from her snack bag. As I’ve thought since the first term, she always seems to have candies in her snack bag. I shouldn’t… No, I won’t say anything about her being concerned about her weight. If I did, she’d probably get really upset and start giving me a series of karate chops.
In front of her, the new transfer student, Maguro-kun… the girls are all looking at him with heart eyes. Huh? I feel someone’s gaze. Kuroda-kun… Oh, it really looks like they’re both mutually interested. I sort of had a feeling from before.
“Listen to what I have to say!”
Without much change in her expression and hardly moving, she simply responds. Isn’t she a bit cold? Well, it’s our first meeting, so I guess it can’t be helped, but… isn’t she a bit cold? I’m sure if it was Kuroda-kun…
“Kohaku-san, can I talk to you for a moment?”
“Sure, what is it?”
With her relaxed way of talking and tilting her head, she’s appealing with her cuteness while giving a goddess-like smile… As expected, she’s expertly cute, limited to Kuroda-kun! Well, it’s that aspect that’s cute about her.
Now, let’s get back to my thoughts. Maguro-kun… suddenly in front of her…
“Reintroducing myself, I’m Kuromaguro Takeshi! Nice to meet you!”
“Nice to meet you, Takeshi-kun.”
“So, I’m still not used to this school! So, during lunch break, could you show me around the school…”
“I’m sorry. I have plans during lunch.”
No, her response was too quick! She didn’t even let him finish speaking!
“U-uhm Maguro-kun, suddenly to Gindou-san…”
“Could it be like a shoujo manga!?”
The girls are making a fuss, but… she doesn’t seem to care. Gindou-san would probably be someone who would have a high difficulty level in dating sims or something. Kuroda-kun is just special; for the average guy, the difficulty level would be beyond “Very Hard.”
“How about after school?”
“I already have prior commitments after school, I’m sorry.”
“Ugh, you’re quite busy.”
“Yes, I am.”
“I’ll try again…”
A-amazing. She’s elegantly sidestepping a pushy guy. Unbelievable. It’s impressive that Kuroda-kun managed to win her over. Well, Kuroda-kun wouldn’t be deterred there, and he’s probably going to stick around like a spirit of vengeance – that’s visible.
[Don’t follow me!]
[It just so happens our destinations are the same!]
He’s going to stick around… He’s pretty persistent. The first impression I got from her was that she was a bit cold, but this time, she left the impression of trying to forcefully retreat into her shell. I’ll ask her about it.
“Gindou-san, aren’t you a bit cold?”
“Yes, I thought so too. I apologize for that.”
“Then why did you react like that?”
“…Ordinary male students wouldn’t receive that kind of reaction from me. However, regarding that transfer student, Takeshi-kun, it’s not just my self-importance… I can predict he has feelings for me.”
“Ooh, you’re being quite straightforward.”
Is it okay to say that so bluntly? Well, it’s true though. But, she did realize it.
“Yes, I’m not that oblivious.”
“Ooh, you seem like a capable woman. You were a helpless clod when you were with Kuroda-kun.
“T-that’s not true! It’s just that Izayoi-kun was skilled at it! He doesn’t give the bait right after catching the fish!”
“That’s right! Furthermore, Izayoi-kun is a different type from anyone I’ve encountered before, so I didn’t know how to handle it! He’s… persistent, kind, but sometimes a bit shy, and that’s cute too…”
“I see. So why did you act cold then?”
This conversation is getting a bit indigestible, so I quickly changed the subject and asked about the reason for her salty treatment towards Maguro-kun.
“Right. Let’s get back to the topic. When someone suddenly shows affection like that, it’s just troublesome. I thought that by pretending not to notice, he might give up on his own. Also, I need to avoid getting too close to him because I absolutely can’t reduce my time with Izayoi-kun.”
“I see, those are pretty personal and dark reasons…”
“Izayoi-kun would probably have the courage to say outright that he couldn’t date me, but I don’t have that… I’m ashamed of myself. In conclusion, Izayoi-kun is amazing! Oh, I’ve been confessed to by someone like him. It’s mutual…”
“Um, please don’t force this into a heartburning development. The conversation has taken a 90-degree turn.”
In the end, she probably just wanted to convey that she doesn’t have time for Maguro-kun. She must be dealing with various complex situations right now, considering two romantic interests and all. It’s tough. People who attract others have it hard.
Lunch break had arrived. I felt relieved after realizing that Kohaku had no special feelings for Maguro-kun, so I could comfortably invite her to have a meal together. Originally, in Maguro-kun’s story, he confessed his feelings to her and got coldly rejected, after which he repeatedly tried to win her over, but it didn’t seem to work on her, partly because she prioritized her friendships and activities as a magical girl. Nevertheless, there hadn’t been any significant developments. Since this was a slice-of-life scenario, there wouldn’t be any major plot twists, and I didn’t intend to intervene. I was just glad that she wasn’t changing in any way.
Now that I knew she wasn’t interested in Maguro-kun, I invited her to have lunch with me.
“Yes, what is it?”
She tilted her head with a sweet voice. It was almost too cute. Why did she have to reply like that? I felt like I was being charmed, or maybe I already was.
“Would you like to have lunch?”
She agreed with a bright smile. I planned to invite the other second-year girls as well, but they came to our classroom before I could suggest it.
“Izayoi, we’re coming too.”
“Aoi-chan is joining.”
Crimson, Ocean, and Lightning. The three of them are all attractive girls, and I’m so happy to be invited by all three.
“Oi oi oi, isn’t there one more girl now?”
“Man, that guy… Is he straight up a harem protagonist?”
“I never thought he’d turn into the center of attention for girls.”
“But still, the Fried horse mackerel vibes don’t disappear.”
While the boys weren’t looking favorably at me, at least they weren’t giving me hostile glares like Maguro-kun used to. On the other hand, the girls were giving me skeptical looks and speculating.
“Is Kuroda-kun popular?”
“Well, it shouldn’t be… But he does seem to have a good personality.”
“Indeed, he does. Maybe he’s secretly handsome?”
“His appearance is like Fried horse mackerel, but his heart is like tempura? Both are reasonable.”
Heh, it seems like my stock is rising.
Now, as we were about to head to the cafeteria, he suddenly stood in our way.
“Wait! Is your plan to go to the cafeteria with that guy?”
“Yes, I’m sorry.”
She lightly bowed her head and apologized as she distanced herself from Maguro-kun. Then, Maguro-kun looked at my face…
“I see… it’s you? I understand. Good……I challenge you for a duel!!”
I knew Maguro-kun had fallen in love with Kohaku at first sight, and once I realized she wouldn’t respond to anything he said, I expected that he might turn his attention toward me. However, what unfolded was a completely unexpected turn of events with a classic duel challenge. I couldn’t hide my surprise. Did he have something he wanted to say, comparing me to her?
“I fell in love with Gindou Kohaku at first sight, and because of that, I dislike you. So, I challenge you to a duel over her!”
Upon his words, the girls in the classroom erupted in cheers, while the boys stepped back in disbelief.
“Here we go, a duel over a girl. I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it.”
“But he seems popular with the girls.”
“I wonder if I’d get comments if I did the same?”
“Is it another kind of scream?”
“Cheers are reserved for handsome guys, it seems.”
On the other hand, the magical girl group commented:
“This is like something out of a romance manga. Such a typical plot.”
“Kohaku-chan is quite popular.”
“Kohaku… is amazing.”
“No comment, please.”
Kohaku seemed unsure of what to do, Karen applied a two-dimensional perspective, Aoi and Moegi complimented Kohaku, and Maguro, who had challenged me, kept pointing his finger at me.
The answer to his challenge was clear.
“Even if we make a bet over Kohaku-san, whether I win or you win, we have no right to decide anything about her. So, it’s pointless. In conclusion, I won’t do it. Moreover, using Gindou Kohaku, a young girl, in a bet is absolutely unacceptable! Her life belongs to her and her alone!”
“Kuh, you’re right…”
This time, I pointed my finger at him.
“Shame on you for even thinking like that! You idiot!”
“Ugh, I’ll come back…”
With that, he left.
“As expected, Izayoi! That was cool! I’m moved!”
“That’s quite a thing to say… Cool.”
“Hooh, surprisingly, it resonated with my heart, cool.”
“Ah, I thought it was surprisingly heroic …. C-cool?”
[TL: They all use さすいざ (Sasuiza) which I translated to as ‘cool’ but I have not really an idea what it really means]
It seemed like Aoi was just playing along, but cool… that kind of praise unexpectedly made me happy. And I couldn’t help but feel delighted that they were genuinely complimenting me. I suppressed my grin, adopting a more herbivorous demeanor, and we headed to the cafeteria.
Well, I never expected him to suddenly come out with such a wonderful line, but it got me a bit excited even though I’m not involved… Now, we’ve arrived at the cafeteria. We lined up at the counter to choose from the cafeteria’s menu. Aoi-chan had the first turn.
“What should I get…?”
“The shrimp fry is delicious.”
“The meat and potato stew is fantastic.”
“The omelette rice is also really tasty.”
The cafeteria’s menu was so extensive that it’s understandable to feel lost when you see it for the first time. That’s why Kohaku-chan, Karen-chan and I took turns suggesting what to order, but ironically, that made her even more indecisive.
“Um… Shrimp fry, meat and potato stew, omelette rice… They all look so good; I can’t decide. They also have Miso-marinated mackerel… um, well… do you have any recommendations?”
“Well, in that case, I recommend the curry.”
“Okay, then I’ll have the curry.”
Quick, her decision was quick. As soon as she asked him for a recommendation, she made up her mind instantly. That decision sharpened our gazes for a moment. It seemed like she had set off some kind of maiden’s intuition.
“””No it’s nothing.”””
After that, we also ask him to take his turn. He’s a little cool…
Before he could say, “the usual,” his words were cut off, and he finished ordering. It seemed like the cafeteria lady remembered him very well. Once we all sat down, we became the center of attention again. It was similar to what happened in the first semester, but this time, it might be because Aoi-chan, the transfer student, was with us. Aoi-chan then covered her face with both hands.
“What’s wrong, Aoi-chan?”
“I don’t like being stared at… I feel all fidgety. And I’m nervous and flustered.”
“Sorry about that. It’s probably because I stand out… If you want, should I use a magic spell to cast an illusion on everyone?”
“No, it’s okay. I can manage. I’ll just imagine everyone around as potatoes and pumpkins.”
“Guu, Aoi-senpai, you’re so courageous…”
Guu, Aoi-chan, you’re so courageous… I couldn’t help but think the exact same thing. After finishing our meal, I parted ways with Kohaku-chan and him, heading back to the classroom.
After school, when we had all gone home, I started cooking at Izayoi’s house. Today, it was my turn to cook. While preparing the meal, I reflected on the events of the day.
It was quite unexpected that a transfer student, like a typical protagonist, fell head over heels for Kohaku. He even challenged Izayoi to a competition, but Izayoi, the “protagonist killer,” deflected it with a cool and impressive response. That’s Izayoi for you. As I chopped carrots, I thought back on these events. My chopping skills had improved significantly since I started cooking. Truly the genius in action.
I tried not to dwell too much on the fact that the transfer student, Maguro, might end up with Kohaku. Instead, I focused on my own little frustrations. I wondered if Izayoi was getting anxious about not wanting to lose Kohaku or if he felt threatened by a new rival. As a result, he occasionally glanced at Kohaku. It was all pretty tedious.
Chopping vegetables with a sense of catharsis, I quickly prepared the ingredients. I stirred the meat and vegetables in a pan, and once they were mostly cooked, I started simmering them.
“Meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes, tonight it’s meat and potatoes~”
I hummed a self-composed tune as I began to simmer the dish. Then came the tricky part. I decided to watch some anime while cooking. I had to be careful here. Last time, I got carried away watching anime and nearly burnt the dish. This time, I was only going to watch a tiny bit, just five to seven minutes… Just a little, nothing more!
“Yeah, this scene is worth watching over and over again.”
“Oh, I love this incantation.”
“The animation in this part is amazing!”
“This scene is the best… Hmm? That burnt smell… AAAAHHH!!!”
Afterwards, I served the dishes on the dining table. I placed several side dishes on the table while everyone took their seats. There were lotus root tempura, karaage, and pork cutlets with sauce. Various dishes were laid out.
“…Tonight’s dinner is a full-course of frozen foods…”
I said, avoiding eye contact as I removed my apron.