On the third day since Todoroki transferred in, after school, for some reason, I found myself accompanying her on a shopping trip. It was just the two of us. Moreover, we had come to a shop in the area that’s quite unsafe, the opposite of the school, where Mio-san’s store is located.
While Todoroki’s eyes were sparkling, and she was talking to me enthusiastically, I was responding half-heartedly with vague nods. Apparently, this shop is the only place around here that sells limited edition figures of her favorite anime character. She seemed extremely pleased. And on top of that, she was acting even more childishly today than usual. It felt like being a father who brought his daughter to a store on a holiday while waiting for Todoroki to purchase what she was looking for.
I mean, why am I, who decided not to get involved with others, here with her at the shop? Mio, for whom I am counting on, is unable to go shopping with me due to club activities. And Todoroki doesn’t have any other friends yet, so when my girlfriend, Mio, asked me, it was impossible for me to refuse, right?
And if I even hinted at refusing, Todoroki would end up looking teary-eyed… Somehow, I just ended up feeling guilty, as if I were making a child cry or something.
… I’m really pathetic. It seems my fundamental goody-two-shoes nature isn’t that easy to change. Well, it’s only towards nice people, though.
After finishing the payment, Todoroki came running towards me with a smile, so I decided that since we were done, it was time to go home.
“Look! Look! It’s Rekka-chan’s limited edition figure! She’s so cute and cool, my idol! Like, in episode 7, when she saved that boy who was being bullied by the delinquents…”
“Yeah, yeah, got it… Well, I’m glad you’re so happy…”
According to what she was saying, this “Rekka-chan” is a character who sets an example of “helping the weak and defeating the strong,” and she’s like a role model for Todoroki, who aspires to be a strong woman.
I like anime too, but I’ve never heard of this character Rekka-chan, and the title doesn’t ring a bell either. It’s probably a minor anime that aired a long time ago.
“You’re not reacting much!? Are you listening? And why do you seem so uninterested?! I can’t sense any enthusiasm from you at all!”
“No, no, I’m listening. Yeah, I’m listening. I mean, it’s amazing, isn’t it? Yeah, I think Rekka-chan is kind of amazing? I don’t really get it, but yeah.”
“You’re being incredibly nonchalant!!!”
Well, it can’t be helped. We came quite far from home, so it will take a considerable amount of time to get back. And if I keep up with Todoroki’s high energy level, my body might not hold up.
With a dissatisfied pout, Todoroki complains as I take her along, and a little further down the road, I hear a somewhat intimidating and menacing voice. Trouble, huh? We don’t have any other way to go home but this road…
“Hey, isn’t that bad? Yagami, let’s go!”
“W-Wait, hold on!”
Chasing after Todoroki, who’s running, I find three delinquent-looking guys surrounding a timid-looking boy.
“Hey, you there? You think it’s enough to just bump into me and apologize? Show some sincerity, come on, sincerity!”
“I-I’m sorry! I-I don’t have any money… Please, have mercy!”
“You idiot! If you don’t have any money, then go ask your parents or someone to make some for you!!”
… Looks like I stumbled upon quite a troublesome situation.
The well-built guy with blond slicked-back hair, who seemed like the leader, grabbed the collar of the teary-eyed boy. The two others flanking him weren’t physically intervening, but they were smirking and seemed to be enjoying the boy’s fear. There were very few passersby, and the few who were around were hastily passing by, wanting nothing to do with the situation. There was no sign of them making a call to the police.
This isn’t good. But unfortunately, I’ve never been in a fight in my life, and I don’t have the kindness to help a complete stranger. Maybe I should call the police, I thought as I took out my phone, when suddenly I realized Todoroki wasn’t by my side. Could it be…
“Hey, let go of him now! Can’t you see he’s scared? I won’t forgive any muggers, especially not Akane Todoroki!!”
What an idiot…!
“I’m fine! Yagami! I’m Onii-chan’s sister, you know? I won’t lay a hand on them. I’m just buying time until the police arrive!”
“Hmm? What the hell are you guys…? Hm? You have quite a cute face, huh? And you’ve got a great body too. Hey, will you be my woman? Just dump that sorry excuse for a boyfriend and come with me.”
“Hey, that’s not fair, bro! Let me have a turn too.”
“What the hell are you saying, you idiot! It’s me! Isn’t it, bro?”
This conversation is sickening. It has nothing to do with Todoroki, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable as a man.
Todoroki doesn’t show the slightest hint of fear. Her unexpected demeanor, quite different from the impression I’ve had of her as timid since we first met, surprises me a little.
“Heheh, looks like this could be fun. I’m lucky today, huh? I don’t care about a piece of crap like this who’s already a goner. …Hey, you, you interested in being my woman?”
“Idiot, who the hell would want to be your woman? Boy, while you can, run away and call the police! Yagami too! I’m fine, so both of you, get out of here quickly!!”
The boy who was freed from the grip of the delinquent runs away at full speed.
“Th-Thank you! I-I’ll call the police right away! I’ll definitely come back, so please wait!”
He must have been through quite an ordeal. The boy takes out his phone and runs off as fast as he can.
… What should I do?
… It’s obvious. I shouldn’t care. I should just run away. It’s not my problem. Todoroki just recklessly got involved in this mess herself. All she needed to do was call the police.
The boy said he would call the police. He seemed quite desperate, and he owed her for getting him out of trouble. There’s no reason for him to be lying.
… If that’s the case, there’s nothing I can do right now. If I jump in with a sense of justice and get involved, I’ll end up being a punching bag and that’s it.
I start walking, just as Todoroki told me to, and ignore what’s happening. The delinquents are completely focused on Todoroki. Nobody is going to bother chasing after me. I walk with heavy steps and after a little while, I hear a dull sound from behind.
“Bro, this girl is really strong! We can’t catch her at all!”
“B-Bro. It seems impossible with just us! Please help us!”
Thank goodness… It seems Todoroki is really strong. It’s frustrating, but I feel relieved that she’s safe.
Thinking that Todoroki will be fine, I decide to distance myself from the scene. As I start moving forward, I hear Todoroki’s anxious voice from behind.
“I-I don’t want this! Let go of me! Don’t you dare touch me with your filthy hands!”
“Heh, you might be strong, but you’re still just a woman in the end! Escaping from me is a hundred years too early!”
My steps come to a halt. It hasn’t even been a week since I met Todoroki. I had decided I didn’t need any more friends. But the crude smiles of those delinquents from earlier flash through my mind, followed by the worst-case scenarios.
If I do nothing and something terrible happens to Todoroki… can I forgive myself?
“Hehehe, give it up. No one’s coming to save you. The people around here are all a bunch of cowards. And your boyfriend, as you can see, is eager to run away. Hah, what a pathetic guy. How about having some fun with us? Hey, you guys. Let’s kidnap this girl before the cops arrive.”
“Don’t mess with me! Let go! And by the way, Yagami is not pathetic, you moron!! Yagami is, you know, my friend!!”
You idiot…. I’m telling you I’m not your friend…!
In that moment, something inside me snaps, and I sprint towards them with all my might.
Honestly, this girl is beyond annoying. If Todoroki was trash, I would’ve abandoned her without hesitation. But when she’s willing to protect me even though she’s in danger herself, who am I to abandon her?
I don’t care what happens anymore…!!
“Let go of that idiot!! You scumbag!!!”
I tackle the delinquent who’s holding onto Todoroki with all my strength.