Translated and Edited by: luccayn.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
“K-Kou-kun, what a coincidence!”
“Oh, Michiru. What are you doing in a place like this?”
That same weekend, Michiru, pretending to encounter Hareta by chance, intercepted him as he wandered through the bustling town. She’d deduced his weekend activities from his social media and had strategically positioned herself ahead of time.
There were several options for her to do so, but that didn’t take from the fact Hareta attracted a bunch of hard-working girls. Was it a superpower? Luck? I pondered with slight jealousy as I sipped on my latte, sitting somewhere secluded in the shop they were about to enter. But I digress.
While I sat quite far from where the two were, I could hear their conversation due to Tsukino and I being on a call. We both wore earbuds, though hers wouldn’t be noticed behind her long hair. This way, I could provide her with precise instructions without worrying about being caught.
(“So, how about having some tea together?”)
“So, how about having tea together?”
(“The chance to be alone with you is rare enough to only happen in coincidences, Kou-kun.”)
“T-The chance to be alone with you is rare enough to only happen in coincidences, Kou-kun.”
“Alone, why?” He asked.
(Say, “Is it a no-no?”. While saying that, give him a ridiculously cute upward glance. Trying to logic your way into this is pointless, as it would only lead to misunderstandings.)
“…Is it a no-no?”
Hearing her cutesy plea, he casually scratched his head and answered, “Sure.”
Does he have some incurable disease that prevents him from getting excited about anything? He’s being invited by a goddamn beauty; he should at least be happy about it.
(What should I drink?) She whispered into her phone.
(Dunno. Just pick whatever you like.)
How did she even manage to fall in love acting like this? I mean, Hareta lacks any sort of initiative, but her remote-controlled behavior is quite something as well. I wonder if the other three girls are like this. If that’s the case, her victory is practically guaranteed, no fight necessary.
“What is it, Kou-kun?”
“That guy, Shinji Takatsuki or whatever his name was… You went to the same elementary school as him, right?”
As soon as the two entered the shop and picked a table, Hareta spoke up with his ever-indifferent tone. Though, it was clear he was quite annoyed, seeing he brought it up. In fact, he must’ve investigated in some way.
(“I don’t know. Just some good-for-nothing weirdo good at talking trash”) I instructed her.
(Say it. What he wants isn’t an answer, just sympathy.)
I could see the two from where I was. As soon as I finished talking to her, she hesitated slightly before casting her gaze down.
“I-I don’t know. I’ve heard some bad rumors, though.”
(Dummy. That’s just asking for a retort) I admonished her.
“What kind of rumors?”
(Damn it. “Rumors about him being a scumbag who makes innocent girls cry, or that plays dirty in arguments.” Stick to the script.)
“There are rumors about him being a terrible person who makes girls cry. I don’t know the details, though,” she said her half.
“I see. So he’s really that kinda guy…”
(“You did nothing wrong, Kou-kun. That guy’s just a weirdo.” Why don’t you just say it properly?)
“…You did nothing wrong, Kou-kun.”
Regardless, Hareta sipped his black coffee with a satisfied expression. Maybe he’s got a rotten personality, just like one of those gossip girls. I mean, the unpleasant aspects of a rotten woman apply perfectly to him in spite of gender.
What sets him apart from one of those girls, however, is that he can throw hands like most men can’t. He could beat me to a pulp from what I’ve experienced. Of course, that’s the biggest issue.
(Hey, do you have any intention of making this work?) I questioned her weird choices.
(Shut up! Zip it!)
Why is she so angry?
“Did you say something just now?” Hareta raised an eyebrow.
“N-No, it’s nothing! I just mentioned that it’s gotten a bit cooler lately.”
“Oh, yeah,” he said, shifting his gaze outside the window. It seemed like he had no interest in things outside of himself, even if it was a girl that was clearly into him. Wasn’t it normal to feel happy when a girl talked to you cheerfully? Especially when it was a beauty like Tsukino?
Maybe I should go through another approach. Self-centered guys like him usually like talking about themselves, despite their contradictory words.
(“Kou-kun, do you have someone you like?”)
(W-What’s this all of a sudden?!)
(There’s no helping it; just go along with it this time.)
After taking a sip of iced cocoa, Tsukino coughed and turned towards Hareta. “Hey, Kou-kun, do you have someone you like?”
“What’s up? Why’re you suddenly asking that?”
(“Since we’re alone, I want to know things about you you wouldn’t usually tell me.”)
“Since we’re alone, could you let me know things about you you usually don’t tell me?”
Hareta looked at her. It was the first time since sitting down he’d made such a gesture.
“Do you wanna know?”
What a pain in the a*s.
(“I do. It’s pretty obvious I like you, Kou-kun.”)
(Huh? When did this happen?)
(Dummy. Didn’t I say it a few days ago? Someone who goes through the trouble to make you lunch is definitely into you. Even if it’s not clear to him, just assert it as such.)
“…I-I do. It’s pretty obvious that a girl who goes out of her way to make you lunch is into you.”
I’m surprised the three other idiots haven’t caught on at this point. That being the case, it’s blitzkrieg from here on. It’s more efficient to make Tsukino convey her feelings and steal the focus, allowing for smoother actions. Knowing someone likes you can sometimes make things forgivable, after all — an advantage not present with the other girls.
“So, how about you? Is there someone you like?” She continued.
(W-Wait. If you chase too hard, he’ll pull back.)
Women often pull away when someone comes on too strong. It’s clear from Hareta’s fundamental personality; he couldn’t even respond to that debate with anything other than physical force. He wants to be in control, but if he’s attacked too much, it becomes a pain for him. It’s a basic distortion for someone with high pride and no experience.
(How do you even know about that kinda thing?) She asked me in whispers.
Silenced long enough for a whispered conversation to conclude, Hareta remained quiet as a stone. Indeed, he always avoided giving answers to crucial decisions.
I didn’t want to say it, but he’s overly effeminate and annoying.
Unwittingly, he understands that if he answers Tsukino, there’s a possibility of losing the other heroines.
It’s gross. Seriously, why is Tsukino even into this guy?
(“Why won’t you answer?”) I instructed. The silence had gone on for too long.
“Why won’t you answer?”
“W-Well, you see…”
(“There’s nothing embarrassing about having a crush. Love is a wonderful thing, and I think it’s cute.”)
“T-T-There’s nothing embarrassing about having a crush!” She quivered, but rather than it being off-putting, it came off as innocent and likable.
(“Yeah, that’s right. By any chance, did something unpleasant happen to you in the past?”)
(…Yeah.) She answered instead.
“Huh?! Ah, yeah, that’s right! B-By any chance, did something unpleasant happen to you in the past?!”
Asking like that made it more of a threat than a question. Approaching from the top carries the risk of hurting his inflated pride.
“More or less.”
The fact he seemed willing to answer indicated he at least had some fondness for Tsukino. That’s good. He has a pulse after all.
“I was cheated on. I saw my childhood friend holding hands with another guy, y’know? That’s when I lost a bit of trust toward women.”
“We were supposed to be dating. One day, I thought it was strange she just disappeared, and I ended up seeing her walking into a love hotel with another guy.”
“I believed in her, and she betrayed me. Ever since then, I couldn’t put my trust in women.”
“I see. That must’ve been tough,” she offered these words.
“I can’t believe someone would cheat. And I just can’t trust anyone who does that kinda thing, man or woman—”
Knowing that comparing oneself to others leads to no good, I sighed, ended the call, and held my head in my hands.
I don’t really understand what it’s like to be him, but it really must’ve been tough for the guy. Based on the conversation, there was no definite indication he and that girl might’ve been actually dating, so there is a possibility he just assumed as much.
But still, the way he interacts with Tsukino and Aoyama is incredibly suspicious to me. There’s no specific evidence of what went wrong with his old childhood friend, and he hasn’t explained any effort on his part to keep her around. Not only that, he doesn’t limit himself to just one person; he’s messing around with all four girls!
…I can only hope he’s not actually that messed up.
In the first place, being cheated on isn’t just some shallow phenomenon where a promiscuous woman sleeps with another man, for example. It’s an unfortunate tragedy where a built-up relationship is lost to mis-buttoning and the overlap of momentary coincidences.
That being the case, Tsukino probably shared her own troubles with Hareta after I hung up. If she’s into him, she’ll listen empathetically. And sharing their worries and traumas will eventually lead to understanding each other.
I shouldn’t know what others intimately share. Tsukino, too, should understand my intentions to hang up the call and treat Hareta kindly, as a mother would.
Thinking this way, I messaged her, “I’m heading home. Let me know the details in writing later,” and left the cafe.
If everything he said is true, it’s not hard to feel sorry for the guy. I’d sympathize. So, I should quickly analyze the information I’ve gathered and figure out a path for the two to get together.
While I’m at it, I should also look for that childhood friend who allegedly cheated on him. It might provide hints for my conquest.
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