Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-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.
T/N: After a poll on our Discord, it was decided I’ll start creating the chapter titles myself, seeing as the author doesn’t. However, if that changes, I’ll use his titles instead.
After leaving school, Saki and I sat face-to-face in my apartment. I sighed into my hands while ruminating over the ill-suited bet we’d just made. Saki, on the other hand, had been quiet as a Buddha since passing through my door.
“Why were you so reckless?” I shook my head.
“Isn’t it obvious? I didn’t want to see that heap of garbage’s ramblings any longer,” her every word gurgled venom. Then, she looked at me squarely. “Besides, how could I allow someone to bully the boyfriend whom I love so, so much?”
She had been angry for my sake. My reproachful reaction now panged me with a tinge of shame.
“Still,” her face relaxed ever-so-slightly. “I was too bloody mad for my own good. Sorry I got you involved in this, Akito.”
“Y-you don’t owe any apologies! I’m the one who messed up everything because I’m not good enough…”
Alone she stood against my whole class and in my defense. Not only that, but she also offered herself as a prize just so Matsuyama would kneel and apologize… Now she’s apologizing for selfishness? No. I felt ashamed of myself that things turned out like this.
I’m an idiot! I beat myself up inside, feeling I’d lose something as a human being if I ran away. Moreso after how arranged it was. Be less of a whiny man, Akito Iwaki!
Now resolute, I stood from my seat and walked next to her. I didn’t want to see that apologetic face anymore, so I wrapped my arms around her.
“Huh? W-what are you doing, Akito?” Her face burst into flames as she quivered, puzzled. Chest against chest, I could feel her heart galloping not unlike my own. My skin was most likely melting due to how deviating this was from me usually.
“Thank you, Saki. For being angry in my stead…”
“T-that’s a given.”
“No. No, it’s not,” I shook my head softly. “You’re the only one on my side.”
After my Dad died, I had no one else in my life. The stepmother I so tried to please snubbed and abandoned me. Not even school was a place of respite, and I was instead bullied by my peers. Among all the suffering, she was the only one who ever looked out for me. Alone, she stood against the mob, her body so frail it could easily break if touched…
Therefore, this is my pledge. My pathetic weakness ends here.
Fire burning within, I faced her with a wry smile. “We’ll win for sure, Saki… Let’s make him grovel at our feet.”
My words left her agape for a moment, but she was quick to change. A fearless grin soon spread across her face. “That’s the spirit, Akito. Let’s make him get down on his knees and cry!” She bellowed.
“Yeah!” I thundered back.
The two of us will crush Matsuyama to the ground. I promised myself. Now that we shared a common goal, there was nothing to fear between us.
“Let’s take action for a better future!”
Unlike our heroic war cries, however, our stomachs were sad and anxious. Saki and I locked eyes before turning away, a tinge of shame on our faces.
“…First, let’s just grab something to eat,” I stammered
“…I’ll help you.”
The clock pointed at 6:30 PM — a good time for dinner.
“Bon appétit!” We both exclaimed in unison.
Using the ingredients we had on hand, Saki and I prepped our food. I’d always cook alone, but she insisted on helping. It was unexpectedly fun to do it with someone.
“Delicious! Yup, no one beats you in cooking, Akito!” She beamed.
“Thanks for the compliment. Flattery is always appreciated,” I smiled back.
“No, it’s not flattery. You’re far better than any restaurant out there!” Her face was serious as stone.
“Nah, too much,” I shrugged. “Mikiko always used to complain about it to me.”
The moment her mother’s name was dropped, she stopped moving her chopsticks. A look of utter disgust twisted her face.
“Don’t worry about that old hag. She did that because she had a complex about her inability to cook as well as you.”
“Huh? Is that so?”
Not only that, she used to tell me anyone else could do as much housework as I used to.
“It’s true though,” she sighed. “That witch was always so prideful even though she couldn’t do sh*t. That’s why she was so horribly jealous of you, who could do anything at the drop of a hat. Whenever I’d praise you, her face would get 20 years older.”
“But for every compliment I tried to give, she would just end up taking it out on you! Ugh, I still get angry thinking about it!”
“O-oh, chill,” she was almost flipping out.
That being said, my standards were basically built around whatever Mikiko would say. Thus, I couldn’t just drop what I believed in for years out of nowhere.
“Well,” she sighed her anger away. “In the end, I’m happy ‘cause I can eat my favorite food—yours, right now.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” I could feel warmth seeping through my cheeks.
“Oh? Are you embarrassed, maybe?”
“Nope. Just your imagination.”
Saki had been complimenting me to Heaven and back. Sure, I tried to act nonchalant to hide my embarrassment, but the smirk on her face told me it was all for naught. She suddenly scooted next to me.
“Here, ahn~!” She propped a boiled egg up to my mouth.
“…What are you doing?”
“Can’t you see? I just wanted to feed you my food as a girlfriend would. But since you are the cook, this is all I can do to show my love for you,” she cooed. “C’mon, eat up!”
“Aw, I’m sad. Maybe you still don’t like me enough…” She pouted in sadness.
Argh, I just can’t with that face!
I bit the egg out of her chopsticks, and she beamed satisfaction in return.
“So, how’s the taste? Better than before~?” She teased.
I knew better than anyone else the taste of my cooking. Still, that simple boiled egg tasted ever-so-sweeter than before. Saki gave a satisfied hmph in response.
“Time to get serious.”
After the dinner cleanup, we both sat down to study.
“It would be inefficient to teach you everything from scratch. So, if you have any questions, just let me know. I’ll be here to help.”
“Thank you for that,” I nodded.
“Well, let’s start with an hour. No talking during that time, capiche?”
With that, I opened my math textbook as I’ve always done and flipped through it. But then, before I could even write a word, she spoke up.
The rule was broken immediately.
“Hm?” I looked inquisitively.
“Nah, it’s nothing,” she then closed her mouth and looked at her own material.
Looking over, I saw she wrote down some textbook problems and started solving them. I watched for a few seconds longer before doing my own. However, she spoke up again after fifteen minutes or so.
“I mean, are you serious?”
“Wha—” Rude much? “Excuse me, I’m very serious about this,” I came out a bit passive-aggressive.
“You’ve been flipping through your textbook for a while now, and still haven’t written anything down. I highly doubt it,” she clapped back.
Seems like she was still on edge. I had no choice but to answer with a proposal.
“Then I’ll give you proof. I’ve been through everything up to here on the textbook, so ask me any questions you’d like.”
She took the book with half-lidded eyes, still not buying it. “If you can’t answer, you’ll have to study my way. Deal?” Her eyes nailed me.
Then, she flipped through the pages and presented me with a problem. Sure enough, it was about vectors, so not too hard. I could solve it with my left hand.
The following problem was a bit more applied but still doable. No sweat.
“You really did it…”
“Right?” I was a bit smug, not gonna lie.
“Getting carried away, aren’t we? Any one of our school’s students could do it as well.”
She was pissed. And sure enough, the next question was even more difficult than the last one. I still blazed through it with time to spare.
“C-correct… What about this one?”
Her next proposition was harder than all of them combined. It made the previous ones look childish in comparison. But still…
“Done,” I plopped my pen down and asked her to round it up. She looked as if she had seen a ghost breakdancing.
“No shot… This is a question from Tokyo University, you know…?”
It wasn’t awfully difficult for me, so it didn’t really register. Still, I put on the smuggest face of them all and said, “I’m studying really seriously, aren’t I?”
She flinched for a moment. “Y-yeah. I can’t believe it, but it’s my loss.”
With her trust now gained, she could rest assured.
“Still, how do you do it?” She eyed me curiously.
“I just read it. Like this.”
Truth be told, I didn’t understand how I did it in full, so I had no choice but to demonstrate. She looked at me with widened eyes.
“Not a single normal person can read that fast, much less solve a math problem after what can only be considered as skimming.”
She cradled her head in her hands, sighing before she continued. “I wonder, were you born with this ability?”
“Nope. It was acquired.”
This much I can say with utmost certainty.
“Mikiko always used to push me around, so I could only study a few minutes every day. Despite that, I still wanted to get into the same high school as you, so I worked my a*s off to do it… Hm? What’s wrong, Saki?”
“My mother created a monster without knowing it… Well, we’re saved because of it, but I still can’t be happy…” She started rambling incoherently.
“Nothing! Look, I’m sorry for doubting you. You may continue as you were.”
“And maybe you can show me how to do it sometime.”
“Sure will. You’ll get the hang of it in no time.”
“I hope so.”
Thus, we continued studying in earnest. As I flipped through the pages and quickly solved the questions, a thought popped up in my head. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since I actually sat down to study.
Saki had mentioned an alarm would buzz in an hour’s time, so I just decided to go up to wherever I could. Focused, I sank into a lake deep in my mind, where only my books and I existed.
“Hm? Are we done?”
“Yup, that’s it. You’ve been concentrating a lot, haven’t you?”
“Mm, guess so.”
Somehow, I seem to have forgotten that the clock was even a thing. This may as well be the first time I’ve ever concentrated on something for more than a few minutes.
“So, how did you go?”
“Well, I finished reading all the math textbooks,” I enumerated each with my fingers.
She locked eyes with me, and I reflexively did the same.
“Um, Akito? What did you just say?”
“I, well, I said I finished reading all the math textbooks…”
She slapped her forehead with gusto. “Akito… What’s the scope of the next test again?”
“From here to here… Oh…” I got one of the textbooks I read and indicated the pages which the teacher would use. “Sorry, Saki. I wasted your time…”
If I had finished the math part of the test, I should’ve picked up the other subjects and started on them right away. I was out of myself, so I didn’t realize it.
I only have two weeks left…
However, the troubled look on her face was for a whole other reason. “That’s not the point! Akito, listen! You have completed in just one hour what takes a normal person a whole year to do! Do you even know what that means?!”
Her sudden booms pushed me over the edge. It wasn’t often I saw Saki so restless. Then, she looked at me with the eyes of a tired old woman, and the life breathed out of her shoulders.
“Man, you’re a genius.”
“Yes. Much more than I am. Ugh, it’s frustrating, but you’re the one I fell in love with, all right? Actually, I think I fell in love all over again.”
She lifted me up much more than I deserved. Still, it made me unbelievably happy due to how little praise I have received throughout life.
“Actually, I was going to use Saturday and Sunday to wrap up math with you, but that plan’s down to the ditch already.”
“Don’t be. Especially in this case. You could say it was a happy little accident,” she put away her materials before standing up. “That’s all for today. We’ll start in earnest tomorrow.”
“Mhm,” I nodded.
“Then, I’m gonna use your bath. Excuse me.”
I froze solid at her words. Did she just say she would use my bath?
Not privy to my confusion, she quickly took out a change of clothes from her bag before heading for the bathroom.
“See you later,” she waved.
“Wait, wait, wait!”
“Hm? Something wrong?”
“‘Something wrong?’ Yes! Why are you trying to take a bath here as if it were a public bathhouse or something?!”
As if she’d just remembered something, she ‘threw rock’ with her hands and told me without batting an eye, “Ah yeah, come to think of it, I forgot to tell you. Sorry, Akito. I’m staying over tonight, so please take care of me.”
“Excuse me for going first~!”
She sang before waltzing away to take a bath, blissfully ignoring my own self-restraint.
“What should I do…?”
With my selfish girlfriend worrying me sick, I was worried if I would be able to catch some Z’s tonight. Highly unlikely.
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