My name is Noguchi Natsuko. I’m just an ordinary high school girl. However, I’m currently facing a major crisis. It’s awkward even though it’s supposed to be a meal.”
“What is it?”
“Aren’t you going to eat? You haven’t touched your meal at all.”
“Don’t worry about me.”
We’re in the cafeteria. I’m not sure if we can say we’re eating facing each other, but we are eating. Gindou-san has been fixated on a certain point the whole time.
“It’s great to see Hihara-chan with him, right?”
Kuroda-kun and second-year senpai, Hihara Karen, are happily having a meal together, and she’s watching them intensely. Her current state of mind is anger born out of jealousy.
“…How did it come to this?”
She started to look down and feel down. It’s natural not to feel good when the person you like is getting along with another girl. In her case, it’s showing up blatantly.
She practiced inviting him to this lunch, but Kuroda-kun had already headed to the cafeteria and was having a meal with Hihara-senpai.
“By the way, who is that!!!”
She is depressed, angry, and quite busy. She doesn’t even eat her meals. He is not even able to eat.
“That’s Hihara Karen, a second-year Senpai.”
“I see. I remember hearing about her. That kind of person.”
“That kind of person… isn’t that a rude way to put it?”
But still, is Kuroda-kun planning to get involved with Hihari-senpai now?
I don’t really understand his actions. They make me curious, but right now, I need to do something about the girl in front of me.
“Come on, calm down.”
“I am calm.”
Liar. I think so while she responds without looking at me, her gaze fixed on those two over there. However, when she shows me that, I also feel the desire to support her in her love.
“Gindou-san, have you ever had a boyfriend before?”
Her face may have darkened a bit. Maybe it’s better not to ask too much about her past or something?
“I see. So you don’t know much about romance?”
“Shall I teach you how to catch Kuroda-kun’s attention?”
—-A maiden! A maiden is here!
Her face suddenly fills with hope. It’s rare to see such a pure girl in this day and age…
“Do you want to hear it?”
She pouts and turns away. Ahh, she’s being stubborn. I guess if I ask her that, it’s like admitting that she likes Kuroda-kun, and she probably doesn’t want to acknowledge that. It can’t be helped. I’ll have to take matters into my own hands.
“I see. If you don’t want to hear it, I won’t tell you.”
“But what I’m about to say is just me talking to myself, so if you want to listen, feel free to eavesdrop.”
What’s with this girl? She’s too pure.
“Boys are simple, so they get curious when girls act a little flirtatious towards them.”
She doesn’t seem to get it and tilts her head. How cute. I’m a girl, but my heart is racing.
“For example, just asking to exchange contact information or asking if there’s someone you like can make their heart race.”
Ah, she’s really lost in thought. She’s furrowing her brow, crossing her arms, and contemplating. How earnest and cute. Kuroda-kun, just confess to her already. Then it’ll be a happy ending. I felt so inclined to support her.
“Also, it’s recommended to just express your feelings straightforwardly. Like I mentioned earlier, since guys are simple, when you tell them directly…”
When I don’t immediately say the words, she also fixes her gaze on me with great interest.
“There’s something that can make him fall for you instantly.”
Her face is filled with a wide smile. It seems she’s internally thrilled to hear something good.
But well, everyone knows this kind of thing, but since she doesn’t know, I have to tell her!
“Also, well… since refined women are often liked, it’s good to pay attention to cleanliness and such. But I guess you don’t have to worry about that, Gindou-san, because you’re perfect in that regard.”
Ah, it’s ephemeral and beautiful. Her smile is understandable for why guys would fall for her. I can’t just leave a girl like this alone. It’s no wonder guys are confessing to her left and right.
“Gindou-san, it’s safe to say that your appearance is perfect. But that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. For example, under no circumstances should you have snot running down your nose. Even if it’s Gindou-san, if you have snot running down your nose, it might be a bit of a turn-off.”
BANG, She hit her head on the table. Eeh? What’s wrong?
She doesn’t lift her head from the table. What’s going on? Did she actually have snot running down her nose? I need to follow up…
“It’s safe to say that Gindou-san is not a snot-nosed person.”
She finally lifts her head slightly.
She stands up a little more. Her expression seems somewhat complex.
“You can easily regain the favorability in a matter of seconds with something as trivial as nose mucus!”
She stands up even further. Her face looks a bit complicated.
“From now on, you can boost your favorability as much as you want, so cheer up! You’re adorable, so Kuroda-kun will easily fall head over heels for you!”
Incredible. Such pure-heartedness. At this point, I feel a little tempted to play around…
“Well, the fact that your favorability dropped due to your snotty nose is undeniable, though…”
–Her head descends sharply once again.
Her head hits the table.
Ahahaha!!! Oops, sorry. It’s unforgivable to toy with her pure feelings like this.
“You’ll be fine, Gindou-san. I’m confident that you can make Kuroda-kun head over heels for you.”
“Come on, let’s just eat for now. Afterward, I’ll teach you more things.”
She raises her head and starts eating silently, while glancing at a certain pair…
Seeing her like this, I’ve decided that I truly want to support her in her love.
During the lunch break, I was able to interact with Hihara Karen and even gained a certain level of favorability. This is a promising start in avoiding a bad end in the future.
While the bad end with Hihara Karen is still far off, there’s no harm in taking action early on. I’ll consider today a success and head home. It wouldn’t be good to get too involved all of a sudden.
Once homeroom is over, maybe I’ll stop by a cafe and have a parfait. Surprisingly, I really enjoy sweets. I think about such things while listening to Rokudo-sensei informing us of the day’s announcements.
“That’s all for the announcements. Make sure to be careful on your way home.”
Rokudou-sensei leaves, and the tension among the students eases. Everyone starts moving on to their next plans. Maybe I should do the same.
“Double Destruction-san, aren’t you taking Kohaku-chan home?”
“Stop giving me that condescending look right now.”
Sasamoto, sitting in front of me, looks at me with a mocking expression. There’s nothing I can do about people like him, who belittle me for having two pistols. I try to act like I can’t hear, but it’s quite embarrassing. I really wish they would stop using that nickname.
Haa, I try to leave my seat to head home when the classroom door opens forcefully.
Izayoi!! Let’s go home together!!
It’s my senpai, Hihara Karen!!
If she invites me to go home together, I can’t refuse. She probably wants to talk about light novels or manga, but how much does she want to talk about? I’ll have to give up on the parfait this time. But if she’s coming with me, there’s no problem at all.
There’s something off about the reactions of those around me. Sasamoto is flipping me off, isn’t he? And aren’t most of the male students doing the same?
“This can’t be true.”
“He’s really going home with Hihara-senpai?”
“Should we exile him?”
“Ah, Gindou-usan fainted.”
Ignoring the reactions of the first-year Class A students, Hihara Karen approaches me.
“Let’s go to the bookstore! I want to recommend something to you!”
“Yes, let’s go…”
She took my hand and started running like a child. I wonder what I will be called in class tomorrow. As we leave the classroom, we are met with a variety of stares.
“This one is my top recommendation, and this one is the recent popular one.”
As soon as we entered the bookstore, Hihara Karen started giving a speech in the light novel section. She had been talking non-stop even before we came here, and I get the feeling that she could keep talking forever if left alone.
Her knowledge is truly incomparable to mine. She could be called a walking encyclopedia of the 2D world.
“Since it’s unfair for me to only recommend, why don’t you introduce something you like too?”
“I understand. Let’s see…”
Are there any light novels that I know but she doesn’t? Let’s start by recommending something I know and find interesting.
“How about this one? ‘Is It Okay to Bring a Machine Gun to a Different World?’ It’s quite entertaining.”
“The one with ‘Gun Taro,’ right? It was indeed interesting, but do you have anything else?”
“Well, how about ‘The Unrivaled Life of the Strongest Sage’?”
“I’ve seen ‘Smug Face Jiro’ too. Anything else?”
“…Then, what about ‘The Demon King Ten Thousand Years from Now’?”
“I’ve already seen ‘Self-Proclaimed Hero Ichikiri.’ Got anything else?”
It seems like there’s no light novel I know that she hasn’t already encountered. Moreover, she’s referring to the protagonists of my recommended works by their nicknames on the internet. Her knowledge is just too extensive.
They’re all enjoyable and worth recommending, but she seems to already know them all.
“Is there really no work that Senpai doesn’t know about?”
“Well, I can’t claim to know everything. I’m not a god, after all.”
She laughed while looking at the light novel shelf. Am I the only one who didn’t take it as a joke…?
“Oh! This one is also recommend!”
She found something and handed it to me, thrusting it in front of my eyes. I’ll just ignore the points she’s recommending and focus on the book itself.
“‘Heroes in the Shadows’ huh?”
I’m not familiar with this one. It’s the first time I’ve seen this title. The girl on the cover, who appears to be the heroine, is quite cute.
“This is actually the story of a protagonist who wanted to become a hero. But he’s an ordinary person who gives up on his dream, yet there’s a lingering feeling of not completely giving up. By reading this, I learned that even I don’t fully understand my own heart.”
“…Don’t fully understand your own heart, huh?”
A question arose in my mind, and it bothered me. Why am I trying so hard to save this girl in front of me?
Is it because I know? The worst possible future?
I thought that duty-bound reasons were the main driving force behind my actions. If I were to compare it, duty would be ninety percent, and goodwill would be ten percent. But is it possible that there’s another possibility?
What if goodwill accounts for ninety percent, and duty only accounts for ten percent? And within that goodwill…
Could there be a mixture of pure goodwill and selfish goodwill?
“Do you not like it?”
Her worried face and voice made me snap out of my thoughts. I forcibly escaped from my train of thought and quickly composed myself. There’s no point in thinking about this now.
“N-No, not at all. I’m interested, so I think I’ll buy the entire series at once…”
“Great! I don’t think you’ll regret it because it’s really interesting!”
Since “Hero in the Shadows” has five volumes available, buying them all at once shouldn’t be a problem. Besides, I genuinely developed an interest in it.
I purchased the books at the register and walked outside the store. The surroundings were bathed in the reddish light of the setting sun, indicating that we had spent quite a long time in the bookstore.
“I’ll walk you home.”
“It’s fine. I can manage going home alone.”
“I see. Well then, see you tomorrow.”
“Right, ah! Let’s exchange contact information!”
“S-Sure. I’d appreciate it.”
We both took out our smartphones and exchanged contact information. I didn’t have many girls’ contacts apart from my mother, so this was quite exciting. Especially since she’s so beautiful.
“If anything happens, make sure to contact me!”
She lightly winked at me, and my heart started pounding. Damn, she’s so cute. It’ll take a while to get used to this. She’s cute. Incredibly cute.
“Well then, goodbye, Izayoi!”
She waved her hand lightly and walked away. Damn it, I acted suspiciously at the end. I managed to stay calm the whole time, but I messed up at the last moment. This must be the disadvantage of my past life…
But she didn’t seem to notice anything strange, so I can consider it a good outcome. I should head home for today as well.
With a plastic bag containing the light novels in one hand, I started walking home. Suddenly, something bumped into my foot. It was a large cardboard box.
Was there anything like this earlier? It feels strange, but I guess it’s nothing to worry about. I start walking home again.
I didn’t notice that the cardboard had moved a little at this point.