Hellping

I can say now that I was young and foolish, but I had an existence called a boyfriend between my second and third years of middle school.

That guy, he’s aloof, never cared about his appearance, and also hopeless at sports. He’s a sad existence of a guy, but for some reason, his brain was the only outstanding part about him.

He’s not exactly the most attentive in class, often sleeping or just reading his own book, doing whatever he wanted, but for some reason, his grades were often at the top. For that reason, he was often stared at by the teachers like a delinquent, even though he had little presence.

I would say I’m definitely not the smart one, but over the year and a half when we were lovers, I never won against him.

Despite that, I always won in maths, my best subject by the slimmest of margins. Tragically, I couldn’t hope to beat him in the other subjects, especially modern language.

It’s something I would grit my teeth about, but back then, I always giggled away…whenever we cross-checked our answers in a corner of the library, I would go “Wow, that’s really amazing” whenever I knew it was my loss, like a bar hostess praising a guy to high heavens.

Of course, I didn’t have any mastery of social skills back then, so though it sounded terrifying, I really was sincere. I really wanted to ask the me back then if I had any regrets. Did I have a shred of dignity? Probably not. I was just a good-for-nothing who was heads-over-heels.

My defeatist attitude never was healed even into high school, but there was once, just once, when the meek and gloomy Yume Ayai was overwhelmed with the desire to win.

It was the second year of our middle school, the end of term exams during the first semester—In other words, right before summer vacation.

That was right before my, no, our ‘encounter’.

 

A student’s duty is to study, not to chit-chat with friends, not to fool around with boyfriends. Studying was the raison d’etre of a school. Thus, even at school, I hardly had anyone I would talk to. Nothing wrong since I’m just going to school to study. What, you got a problem?

I’m a bookworm.

I used to be someone who went to school for the purpose of studying. Actually, I did nothing but study at school.

And this me was very adept at maths.

The reason as to why I was good at it was just because I found those intellectual characters in mystery novels to be very cool. That’s all that is, but I never lost to anyone in maths exams.

—It was the one thing I was proud of in this school.

But, during my second year, the first semester mid-terms,

I experienced the taste of defeat in math for the first time in my life.

From a boy called Mizuto Irido who was from my class.

He’s the same kind of person as I was, a boy without friends. He did try to reach out to help me a few times, probably because he sensed a kindred spirit. I really was grateful, but let’s call a spade a spade.

My insignificant pride would not allow me to lose to someone similar to me, in my own specialty.

I’ll definitely win next time.

That might be the first time in my life that I felt rebellious.

I reduced my sleeping time for the upcoming end-of-terms, and devoted more time into studying.

I did everything to beat Mizuto Irido, fighting for even a single point, not wanting to make a single mistake.

And so—I had the top score in class.

This meant that I beat Mizuto Irido.

I received the teacher’s praise and the answer sheet, and tried to act nonchalant as I

How about it? I won. There’s no way I’ll keep losing in math.

So I thought as I looked over at him—

—And was met with an inattentive look to the air above.

Irido-kun didn’t seem to have heard the teacher praising me, and merely looked outside, disinterested.

I felt that I was cooled off.

…Did I misunderstand something? I just assumed that we’re kindred spirits, just because he’s the same kind of person as me, unable to blend into the class, and that he would be curious about me, just as I was about him.

He probably didn’t know that I was good at math either. Seriously, what was I looking forward to exactly…?

I felt hollow.

—Either way, I was playing on my own.

So summer vacation came, and I came to the school library aimlessly.

And it was there where I ‘encountered’ him.

—You like mystery novels too?

Irido-kun asked when he took a book from the tall bookshop, and actually, I wasn’t really surprised.

I already knew, for a long time, that he was always reading at his seat, and knew that some were mystery books.

So he might have misunderstood.

But the trap God laid to bind him and me wasn’t that conversation in particular.

He then muttered, and clearly did not intend to let me hear so, and that was the real trap laid out for us.

—…Ahh, I see, so that’s why your maths grades are so good?

That little murmur stabbed through my heart.

I didn’t know how he associated mystery novels with maths.

I just ended up liking maths because I admired characters from those stories, and there’s no way he would have realized so just from a single book.

But even so, even so, my ears clearly heard so.

There was a tinge of unhappiness lingering deep within his words, and that was caught on by me.

—Ahhhh.

I wasn’t just getting competitive on my own.

He was acting nonchalant…but he was actually paying attention to me.

He acted calm and poised, looking distant, but he might be a bigger sore loser than I was, and liked to act tough—

…Goodness me, he’s not doing it on purpose right?

What’s with that chirarism? Can you be any more obvious with your regrets? Shouldn’t you hide your feelings a little more? Why are you so open about it that I can hear what you’re thinking.

Of course I got a misunderstanding because of what you said.

That was how I had a misunderstanding, that I was the only one paying attention to you, and you were the only one paying attention to me. If you’re doing that on purpose, you’re a scumbag for cheating a girl’s heart. If not, you’re just a natural scumbag of a thief, aren’t you?

That’s why…because of those words, I devoted myself to that first love in my life.

 ◆

The sound of the mechanical pencil racing upon the notebook echoed throughout the quiet space.

It’s a self-study room separated by screens, allowing for improved concentration. There usually wouldn’t be that many people around, but this was the one period where the rooms were packed full.

The mid-terms were right around the corner.

If it were an ordinary high school, there would be some who would try to relax, going on, “Great~, now we have the time to play~” since club activities were suspended But this school’s different.

It’s a prep school.

I was an idiot who enrolled in this school for the idiotic reason of ‘not wanting to enrol in the same high school as my boyfriend’, but that aside, everyone here’s great at studies. To them, the mid-terms was a battlefield to reign supreme, and obviously, it’s not going to be as easy as pulling an all-nighter and acing the exams.

I was the same.

No…actually, I probably desired to take the top rank of our mid-terms, more than anyone else.

The school’s about to close soon, and people were starting to pack their bags and go home.

I too felt that it was time to go home, and the moment I put the pencil into the box, I heard a voice behind me.

“Yume-chan, let’s go home~♪”

I turned around to find three of my class friends, led by Akatsuki-san.

I hardly ever talked about studies with everyone, but studying until the school closes became our default state during the revision period. Everyone usually act obedient, but we’re all rather serious about this since our class has the high scorers during the exams. Except for that guy.

I hurriedly cleared up, and left the study room with Akatsuki-san and everyone else.

We passed the corridor, changed our shoes, and started chatting away on our way back. For us, this after school time was one of the few breather moments we had, given that we had to study, study and study before the exams. Even then, nobody had time to watch TV or SNS (and I sealed up my phone completely). Naturally then, our conversations would normally be concerned with the exams.

“Ahh~ I’m not confident about these exams at all~. What happens if I fail~?”

“You’re aiming for the top rank, aren’t you, Irido-chan?”

“…Well, I want to do well.”

I suppressed the tension I had, answering so.

“So cool~ I’m okay with just scoring above average.”

“You aren’t ambitious at all! Just aim for the top if you’re going to study~!”

“No no no, Irido-chan’s going to be top after all~”

I responded to their laughter, while sensing my face tense up.

Yes, it’s a given that I would be the top ranked.

After all, I am the top ranking genius girl, Yume Irido.

“……”

I had a feeling Akatsuki-san was glancing at me.

And right when I sensed her stare, clap clap, she tried to disperse the mood.

“Let’s talk about our plans after the exams instead! That’s more likely to cheer us up, right~?”

“Ohh! Sounds good!”

“Alrighty, where are we going?”

I basked myself in that genial mood, and accepted their invitation.

 

“I’m back~”

I went my separate way from Akatsuki-san and the others, entered my house, and tensed up once again.

Got to hurry back to my room, get changed, and study…

Maybe I should prepare some coffee before entering my room. So I thought as I entered the living room.

And then, I saw my little stepbrother lying on the sofa, reading.

…Huh?

I started to doubt my eyes.

It’s the exam period, right…? Why’s this guy looking relaxed and lazy!? I-I’ve been working hard, studying…!!

“…You sure your studies are fine?”

I hissed and asked, and Mizuto answered without looking up from his book.

“I’m almost done. Just need to make sure that I don’t forget what I revised on the day of the exams.”

Done? It’s possible to be done with exam revisions?

H-how annoying~…!

This guy’s always been like this. He hardly spends time revising before the exams, and I guess he can be called a genius. He’s completely different from me, who’s always ensuring that I have time to study.

I exerted all my disgust in my words as I spat back,

“…And that’s why you lost to me.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing.”

My motivation would run out if I continued to talk with this guy.

I was about to brew coffee and head back,

“There’s something I’m more concerned with nowadays.”

Mizuto suddenly said, and I narrowed my eyes.

“…What? It’s about some new work?”

“First rank.”

Mizuto got up from the sofa, and gave me a mischievous smile.

“How does it feel like, sitting on that throne?”

…I see. So that’s how it is.

My eyes met Mizuto’s, clashing head on.

“Too bad, that’s my personal throne.”

“Then prepare yourself for the second rank next time.”

I coldly snorted, and looked away.

“…Come and try. It’s most likely a waste of efforts.”

I then turned away, and left the living room.

…Seriously, he’s a bold one.

You’re the first one to challenge me head on.

 

I focused my entire time on studying.

I got up early in the morning to study, spent the rest time in school studying, used the library and study room after school, and after school, returned home, locked myself in the room, scrambling away. I sealed all the books into a box, and locked them away in the storage, all to reject all temptation.

I would hurry back to my desk after my meals and bath, and only go to sleep reluctantly once I got too sleepy and was lapsing in concentration. Such days continued on.

“—Yume! Chopsticks!”

“…Ahh.”

Once I heard mom’s voice, I frantically gripped the chopsticks that were about to fall out.

It happened during dinner.

I guessed I nearly fell asleep while eating. That was close, got to buck up.

Uncle Mineaki showed a worried look.

“…You appear to have worked hard. Studies are important, but your efforts will be for naught if you exert yourself and end up unable to perform during your exams, Yume-chan.”

“No, I’m fine. I’m staying within my limits.”

“That’s good if that’s the case…”

I gave a superficial smile.

Exerting myself? Of course I was.

I wasn’t really the type to be top ranked in our year, but even so, I wanted this position. Of course I had to exert myself. It’s a matter of fact.

Mizuto was seated opposite me, giving an inscrutable look.

After dinner, I took a bath immediately to keep myself awake, messily dried my hair, put on my pajamas, and left the changing room. Come on, it’s time to study for the night.

I resisted the urge to stretch my back, and went for the stairs.

Mizuto was seated there, as though he had been waiting.

“Looks like you’re really tired.”

His inscrutable eyes stared intently at me.

And at this point, I didn’t have the strength to bother with him.

I didn’t look at him in the eyes, and the moment I intended to pass him by.

Mizuto stood up, and blocked me.

“Is getting first that important?”

I couldn’t look back at the stare that was directed at me up close.

I put in effort to act tough, to fight the odds. I had to put in all my efforts on my studies…

“…It’s very important…”

And that’s why I couldn’t just brush this matter off.

I felt angsty, threatened, in turmoil, and these emotions trickled from my lips.

“After all, I am who I am now because I’m the top ranked student…”

My personality changed.

I became more sociable.

But even then, I too had my limits.

Ultimately, I was just charging head on. I was always weak, inapt at talking, and unable to make friends. I had somewhat changed myself consciously, but i could not instantly become competent.

That was why I had to add value to myself.

I needed this value that would allow me to be forgiven for being somewhat clumsy, unsociable, and then more.

The role of an honor student.

That’s why I need this added value that would be most effective in this prep school.

“You definitely don’t know…those uppity people who live on without a care to those around them won’t know.”

I had a feeling I said something I shouldn’t have, but maybe it’s because I was tired.

But to me, expending any energy on my regrets would be a waste.

I passed Mizuto by, and went up the stairs.

I had to study.

“…Well, that’s true.”

I had a feeling there was a murmur behind me.

 

And then, the first day of the mid-terms arrived.

“Everyone, please keep your pencil cases in your bags~”

I looked at the answer script that was flipped down, and repeatedly muttered what I revised.

First day, first subject, modern language.

As a bookworm myself, I wouldn’t say that I was bad at this subject; on the contrary even, I was really good at it. But—I so happened to have a really tough opponent this time.

I turned my attention to the one behind me.

Seated there was my younger stepbrother.

His best subject was modern language.

His rank for the national mock exams was was in the double digits—but that was when he never actually studied during middle school. He probably could be top ten after enduring the hell that was the high school periodic exams, or even get full marks.

I had to ensure that my score did not differ too much from him if I wanted to prevent him from getting first overall.

I couldn’t make a single mistake.

“—Now then, let’s start.”

Upon the teacher’s command, dozens of papers could be heard flipping inside the classroom.

“…Nnnn~…!”

 

It was the first night of the exams. I was done estimating my marks on the question paper, and frowned due to regret.

All my scores on the first day exceeded 90 marks.

But I got 94 for my modern language. If he got full marks, I would end up 6 points fewer, by my calculations.

I lost two marks because of a simple kanji mistake…! I’m fighting to maintain an average over ninety marks, but this difference of six marks is too big…

…But that’s assuming he got full marks.

“…”

I teetered out of the room, keeping my footsteps quiet.

I cautiously peeked at the living room again and again.

Mizuto’s seated at the sofa, reading.

In other words…nobody’s in his room now.

He too might have written down answers on the question paper.

I could then tell if he actually got full marks…

…I might be getting a little carried away, but this isn’t despicable, right? Even if I know he didn’t get full marks, it’s not going to change mine.

If I were found out however, I would be reproached by that horrible guy…alright, let’s check it out now while I have the chance.

I returned to the second floor, stealthily opened the door to Mizuto’s room, and turned the knob shut.

I switched on the lights, and appearing before my eyes was a really messy room with books all over the place.

The bag he brought to school was lazily tossed onto the bed.

Again and again I looked around the room, affirmed that he did not return to the room, and reached for that bag.

I unfastened the bag, and immediately saw the white paper.

This is it.

The few question papers were messily stuffed into the bag…and as expected, the answers were recorded.

I felt a little nervous, and pulled them out.

…The most important one was the modern language. Did he get full marks…?

I closed my eyes hard, prepared myself, and looked at the question paper.

I compared the answers recorded on it with the one I brought along.

…Frustratingly, he was correct. He easily got the correct answers, even though I got wrong, and did not leave any eraser mark.

He was completely flawless until the big question at the end.

It’s a ten mark question, a terrible question anyone would have lost marks at if they did not allocate their time properly.

There’s a possibility of losing some marks, but at the very least, I did answer correctly. It’s really hard to imagine him actually having trouble with it, so I guess he got a hundred marks—I prepped myself for this, and looked to the left of the question paper—

“…Eh?”

For a moment, I assumed I saw incorrectly.

—But there was no answer.

He did not write any answer on this last question.

Was it so simple that he did not have to record it down…? N-nope, it seemed there were eraser marks. Did he erase the answer he wrote down? But why…?

He was rather casual about erasing the marks, and the words could still be seen. I narrowed my eyes, and read that part.

It was correct.

He erased the correct answer.

…Did he erase it because he thought it was not the correct answer? Did he lose time answering it…? Impossible! There’s no way this question could have stumped him when even I could!

In that case.

That was,

“…On, purpose……?”

He deliberately erased the answer.

He deliberately submitted a blank slip.

This was the only explanation for this unnatural eraser mark…

And by the time I realized it, my hands holding the question paper were shivering.

I sensed a certain boiling thing filling my mind.

I realized it.

I noticed it.

I understood—why did he do such a thing.

 

—…It’s very important…

—After all, I am who I am now because I’m the top ranked student…

 

Was it because of me?

Because I said those words!?

“…Uu, uuuu…! Uuuuuuuuuuuu….!!”

I couldn’t feel happy about that at all.

And before I knew it, I stormed out of the room, and hurried down the stairs.

I offhandedly shoved the living room door aside, and the guy on the sofa turned towards me in annoyance.

“Wh-what’s with you making such noise…”

“Don’t take me as an idiot!!!”

I then threw the question paper onto him.

Mizuto saw the paper, and then frowned. I clearly saw him giving a gaudy look as he frowned.

“You’re giving me the position…!? You think I’ll be happy about this!? Stop messing with me!! You challenged me so confidently!! You’re saying that I’ll lose if it’s a head on challenge!? Don’t take me as an idiot!!”

“Wa-wa-wait…what’s with this noise!? Yume!?”

I heard my mom’s voice when she should be in the bath. It didn’t matter however, as I loomed towards Mizuto, who was on the sofa.

“Do you think you’re cool sacrificing yourself and all!? You’re not!! You’re just taking me as an idiot! You’re belitting me!! I’m not hoping that you’ll do this at all—!!!”

“Stttoooooopppp!! I don’t know what’s going on, but stop!”

I raised my right hand, about to give him a slap, only for my hand to be grabbed from behind.

Mom grabbed me from behind with both hands. I kept struggling, but I couldn’t break free.

“Hey, what’s going on!? What happened!? Tell mom!? M-Mizuto-kun, what’s—”

“……..What…?”

“Eh?”

Mizuto stood up.

He crumpled the question paper, and stared at me.

“You’ll be bothered if you don’t get first, right…? Isn’t that what you said? That’s why I let you win!! What’s wrong with that!! Can’t you just accept it!!!?”

“Eh-ehhhh—!? You too, Mizuto-kun!? M-Mineaki-saaannnn!!! Come here a moment!!”

Mom frantically dashed out of the room, Mizuto closed in on me, and grabbed my shoulders.

“I don’t care if I’m not first in my year! You’re right! It! Doesn’t! Matter! How others look at me! That’s why I gave it to you! Anything weird about that!? Is there anything wrong with what I said!!?”

“…Uuu, uuuuuuu…!!”

None.

There was nothing weird about what he said.

It was mutually beneficial, a really logical decision that pieced together like a jigsaw.

But.

But.

“…It’s weird…”

My vision was blurry.

I too knew that I was despicable, but there was a turbulent uneasiness in my heart, unable to be conveyed as words, just becoming tears that welled from my eyes.

“It…doesn’t feel like something you’ll do, Irido-kun…”

The regrets I felt back then—

The little peek into his competitive personality—

…The Mizuto Irido I assumed I could connect emotionally was not supposed to be like this.

“…Why, did you…”

Mizuto looked anxious, and appeared to have something to say, only to swallow his words and let out a heavy sigh.

And then, he stormed by me furiously.

He didn’t say a word.

He went behind me, and I heard the living room door open, along with the sound of him violently climbing the stairs.

BAM! I heard a heavy thud from the second floor.

I then looked down at the wooden floor, and left the room.

“…Y-Yume? You alright~…?”

“What happened…? It’s rare to see you two bicker…”

Mom and uncle Mineaki sounded worried, but I couldn’t answer their question properly.

I went up the stairs silently, and returned to my room.

And then, I collapsed onto the bed, like a puppet with its strings snapped.

…What exactly was I hoping for at this point?

Our hearts were connected, we understood each other, or so I thought, and it was simply me being delusional. Did I not realize it when I bickered with him over the past half year?

My thinking that he was the only one who would face me on equal footing was simply weirder.

Either way, I was just playing on my own.

“…Fine, so be it.”

I had one fewer opponent then.

That’s all.

That’s simply the case.

I should be happy about it.

I secured first place.

If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be me.

After all, everyone thought I should be doing this much.

The next day.

I never could revise as I went to sleep just like that.

However, I did accumulate much fatigue. I was in peak condition, relieved from the lack of sleep.

At the morning dining table, I didn’t say a word.

Mizuto and I wordlessly stuffed the toast into our mouths, and mom and uncle Mineaki would glance at us with worried eyes from time to time, but we really couldn’t bring ourselves to act as normal after what happened the previous day.

“…I’m full.”

I finished breakfast, quickly cleaned up, and left for the corridor earlier than usual.

The biggest enemy chose to fall behind.

And I had my best subject, maths.

I should be able to solidify my position as the top rank if I performed as usual.

I put on my loafers at the corridor.

Ittekimasu I wanted to say, but an unexpected voice interrupted me.

“—You don’t have the right to decide how I do things.”

My heart jolted.

I looked back.

I saw Mizuto in uniform, looking at me with his somewhat sleepy eyes.

“And also, you shouldn’t let others decide on how you should be, right?”

My heart jolted again once I heard this annoying voice.

I felt as though I was seen through.

As though I was completely laid bare.

I couldn’t say anything significant as I was so anxious. Mizuto then went next to me slowly, and changed into his sneakers.

He glanced aside at me, and reached his hand for the knob.

And then, I noticed something.

There were faint black rings under his eyes.

“—I’ll end your pitiful high school debut then, little stepsister.”

He said that, and vanished beyond the corridor.

And I, left behind, couldn’t figure out what happened.

If there’s anything I was certain of,

“…I said I’m the older one, little stepbrother.”

Someone like you has no right to decide for me.

 

The teacher’s hands laid bare a massive piece of paper on the notice board.

Only the top 50 of the mid-term rankings were shown. There were approximately two hundred students in a single school year, and the released names would account for 25% or so. It’s not exactly difficult to get ranked on it, and the noticeboard, being where the announcements were made, was completely crowded.

I was right at the front of that crowd.

The moment I went there, everyone made way for me. It’s proof of my mandate, that I should be the first to check my ranking.

Since my biggest obstacle Mizuto had lost marks, I had no reason to worry about securing my rank. I estimated my score, and was sufficiently confident of it. All I had to do was to affirm if I never noticed any minor errors—

The teacher pasting the paper moved away, and the rankings were revealed.

And at that moment—the surrounding students caused a ruckus.

And then, I nearly cried out in joy.

For I saw my name next to ‘1st’.

…But it was only half.

Written next to it was my last name,

 

“1st Irido, Mizuto 777 marks”

“2nd Irido, Yume 774 marks”

 

Such was written on the paper.

The fact didn’t change no matter how many times I looked at it.

I-I lost?

Did he surpass me in the other subjects…after the advantage I had in modern language…!?

“Seriously?”

“The Irido siblings took top two…”

“Amazing. That competition’s intense.”

“Irido-san dropped to second so quickly…?”

Strangely, I couldn’t hear the surrounding chatter.

I looked to my right, and to my left, and saw that back slowly creep away.

“So-sorry! Please let me through!”

I pulled away from the crowd, and chased after the silhouette that was about to leave.

I tapped his shoulder, and he turned around.

His eyes caught sight of me.

And his lips gave a sneering smile.

“Yo, isn’t this the second in our year? Nice to meet you.”

And this was the only time I ignored his wretched tone.

I threw all the questions I had onto that dumb blank face of his.

“Wh-why did you…! You were prepared to let me win, and then you turned the tables on me. The only way that could happen is if you studied hard…and in a single night…! That’s—”

“…It’s so unlike me, right?”

I shut up.

Mizuto’s sneer grew once he saw my reaction.

“I already said so, didn’t I? I’m just wondering how it feels to be on your throne.”

“…Eh?”

“But I failed……it doesn’t feel good to be first in our year.

……Ah.

Wait.

This guy.

“I’m so envious of you, second place. You probably have it a lot easier than the first.”

My little stepbrother, honored with first place, said so, and turned away.

“Well, it is what it is…if you still want this position, work hard for the end of term exams then, honor student.”

The ‘honor student’ part clearly sounded sarcastic.

But, it really was ironic by itself.

It meant that my position had changed.

“—Too bad, Irido-san~!”

Suddenly, someone grabbed my shoulder from behind, and I turned around in shock.

“Too bad you couldn’t get first with those scores! Irido-kun’s just too strong!”

The tall, cool girl with a short haircut Maki Sakamizu-san appeared to be taking this result tougher than me.

“There’s always someone better. I can’t catch up.”

Nasuka Kanai-san, who had a bob cut, was slouching away while sounding like a kitten that had just woken up.

“Enough already, you 45th! You’re ranked higher than me!”

“Oh I see? Didn’t notice that. Thanks for telling.”

“Grrrr!!! You Kyoto people drive me crazy!”

H-huh!? What…?

My mind was in complete chaos once I found myself getting along with my classmates like before.

It was far from what I imagined.

It was far from what I feared.

If I couldn’t be first in our year…then, what would have happened…?

The words and expressions used by my friends…didn’t change at all, even though I wasn’t top.

Ahh, I see, so that’s how it is.

I’m just, me.

The one who bound myself to being first in our year, more than anyone else…was me after all.

—You shouldn’t let others decide on how you should be, right

I saw faint black rings under his eyes on the second morning of the exams.

Definitely, that was because.

Of that.

Of this.

“…Ahhh…”

I got down, and covered my face.

The friends around me flusteredly comforted me on my back.

“Ahhh, don’t cry, Irido-san!”

“Second is amazing too! Yeah seriously!”

No.

I’m not crying.

I’m not regretting this.

I’m…not alone.

I’m not the only one thinking so.

…How did you understand?

How did you manage to get through to me?

I thought I was the one mistaken, and I was sure I was just delusional. But at this point, at this point…even though I never said anything to you.

…You’re the only one who would do this.

Aren’t you the only weirdo who could sense my thoughts like an esper, when I’m bad at communicating, talking, and failing at sociability?

If even you treated me like that, I…

—How would I lived on with you?

Hey.

Tell me, what should I do?

Hey…

The mid-terms ended, and a warm atmosphere returned to school.

It was after school, and I was headed to the library. Mizuto glanced aside at me.

“…Why are you following me?”

“What’s wrong with that? I removed my reading ban after exams ended. Just want to find some books.”

“…I see.”

That was a lie.

In fact…erm, I just wanted to find the opportunity to apologize.

Mizuto deliberately made a mistake, and I got angry on my own. It seemed like we settled this, but actually, neither he nor I apologized properly. In that case, wouldn’t the one apologizing first look more reasonable?

There’s always a chance as long as we move together. That’s the only reason why I followed him, and definitely not because I want to be by his side.

“…Oh, the Irido siblings.”

“Eh? The ones who took first and second?”

“Ohhh~ those two…”

Ever since the exam rankings, we got increased attention whenever we were together.

I was already used to it, but Mizuto seemed really uncomfortable with it. Feels good. Enjoy the payback for taking first from me (though I’m just unhappy about losing first place to him in the first place).

We arrived at the library, and Mizuto pointed a shelf deep inside.

“The mystery novels are over there.”

“Hmm. And what about there?”

“Those are light novels. From the old classics to the latest ones, all kinds of them…finally have interest?”

“No way. Light novels don’t have mysteries.”

“Seriously, I’ll turn a blind eye if some Fujimi Mystery Bunko fan is to kill you.”

Mizuto went his separate way from me, who was headed for the mystery genre rack, and he went to the light novel section opposite the entrance. It seemed that recently, he’s been more interested in them.

I scanned the spines laid on the bookshelf, up left to down right. Ehe~ quite a complete collection here. If only I had arrived sooner.

I reached for a book I had never seen before, and poked my face out from the bookshelf, towards where Mizuto disappeared to.

…How about I pretend to retreat while he’s choosing a book, and apologize?

After all, he too was someone who would say something like, can you please say something that everyone else other than me can understand, and then go off tangent by saying something only I would understand. My apology might seem a little hasty, but it should be fine.

Not a bad idea. Yep, let’s do it.

I took the book, and approached the light novels rack where Mizuto was. He should be behind this rack, so I thought as I prepared to get around the rack.

“—Wooohh!”

“—Woaahh!”

I heard weak cries from beyond the rack.

And following that, the sounds of books falling onto the floor.

Sorry, and Mizuto’s little mutter.

Did Mizuto bump into someone?

For some reason, my heart jumped.

What’s going on?

Deja vu. I’d been in this place before

I hastened my steps slightly, and peered behind the rest.

There were bunkos with fancy covers, scattered onto the floor.

A girl was frantically picking up those books.

She was an unimpressive looking girl.

For a moment, I thought it was the girl who was with Mizuto back then, during the aquarium date. I immediately realized then that she was a different person.

Her hair was a short bob cut, no braids, and I didn’t know if it was because of her sleeping habits, or that she was always like that, but her hair’s puffing everywhere. She’s taller than the other girl by about 15cm or so, and Akatsuki-san will be envious to see this.

More importantly, what convinced me that it was a different person…was the chest that was about to swallow the books in her clutches.

…Th-they’re big…

They had an overwhelming presence almost bursting the school sweater open. Akatsuki-san views my chest as an eyesore, but I really can’t compare to this girl. F…? Maybe even G…?

I was instinctively terrified of the massive chest that was probably only seen on a light novel cover. Mizuto picked up a book that was scattered on the floor.

“…Ah…”

That girl let out a somewhat timid voice, looked up at him, and immediately lowered her head.

She’s definitely embarrassed. Well, of course. It’s always somewhat embarrassing to have one’s hobbies known—

“—This series?”

Eh? That girl lifted her head.

Eh? I too looked at Mizuto.

It was completely unplanned.

It’s just the face of an otaku who found a kindred spirit.

Mizuto Irido said.

“You like it too?”

And then, I noticed it.

 

The moment God’s trap activated on someone other than me.

7 thoughts on “[Motokano V2] Chapter 5 – The ex-couple Contest each other (Don’t take me as an idiot!!)

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