Author's Note: I'm early again, but I finished the story early and couldn't wait! The story of Inaba Hiro and Nakahara Naomi will continue. Thanks to Felrain and the mysterious Guest for the support! For now, I plan to update every Valentine's Day and White Day, which means that I'll only be publishing two chapters a year. This may change if I'm inspired or don't feel like working on my other stories.
Chapter 2 – Senpai Noticed Osanajimi
"Mm. Don't worry. I'll see you on White Day then."
Having thus finished my conversation, I hang up and slipped my phone back into my pocket -
"Hiro-kun, do you have some time now? I'd like to talk."
- And I now had to think of a way to handle the demon with a beauty's face who had just entered my classroom and sat down opposite me right after. There are no words that can adequately describe the terror I felt at that moment. Imagine that you've just arrived at a town with 3 HP after wandering around the overworld map, and you haven't saved in five hours. The natural response would be to go to the inn to heal up. But alas! While trying to select the option to pay for a night's rest, the innkeeper morphs into an impossibly huge dragon and begins a boss fight! There's no way you can win! And you haven't saved yet! It's so unfair!
Basically, even a scenario like that was not nearly as scary as the sight of Nakahara-senpai's frozen, smiling expression. The ever-popular student council president, Nakahara-senpai's appearance was normally lovely enough to perk up any of the male students and brighten up their day, and yet right at that moment, I couldn't help but think of it as an ogre's grin. It was definitely amazing in more than one way.
Incidentally, the lucky-yet-unlucky person who had the privilege of being Nakahara-senpai's boyfriend was none other than me, Inaba Hiro. By the standards of society's normal members, I'm nothing more than a gross otaku who cares too much about our senior dimension and places too little importance on reality. It would normally be unthinkable for someone like me, whose true residence was really in a different world, to date a popular riajuu like Nakahara-senpai. However, through the questionable manipulations of what I can only call luck and fate, the two of us got to know each other better, and we fell in love.
"Who was on the phone earlier?"
It was an question that sounded innocent, but I knew that it was really just waiting for an opportunity to whip out the chainsaw that it was hiding behind its back.
Everything about our relationship sounds too good to be true - at least from my perspective, and perhaps that really is the case, but there is one significant drawback that I have not mentioned. Nakahara-senpai is really in love with me. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the case. If I had to compare it to a galge, then it's something like a glitch that activates all of the flags on the Nakahara Naomi route. A 100% success rate. But her love isn't actually something that I can joke about like that.
It's a serious, straightforward love that doesn't hold back.
Or, to reuse my earlier analogy, if you activate every single flag, then that necessarily means that you have to activate the flags that lead to the Bad Ends too.
And now I, who was in a situation where I couldn't simply reload from a save, was desperately trying to think of the option that would lead me away from the Bad End that loomed straight ahead. There wasn't much time left. I had to reply quickly before Nakahara-senpai jumped to her own conclusions.
"Oh, no one important," I lied. Yes, I had to think quickly. And so that was the best I could have done under the circumstances. I shouldn't have unrealistic expectations. There are things that everyone can and cannot do.
I'm an idiot! What the hell was I thinking?! It's impossible! There's no way that Nakahara-senpai would ever accept such an obvious lie! I'm dead!
I slapped both of my hands on to my face and my head lolled backwards in despair.
"Oho? I see. That's alright then, Hiro-kun."
I couldn't see, but I could hear Nakahara-senpai's soft, gentle voice.
I peeked out from in between my fingers. Nakahara-senpai was still smiling, but it seemed less like the grin of Jack the Ripper and more like the smile of a normal high school girl now. Just a second earlier, I wouldn't have even dared to hope for salvation, but could it really be? Could I be spared? I mean, I've always been a very lucky person. It wouldn't be all that surprising!
In an instant, a shadow clouded over her face, and she regained the slasher smile that she had earlier. She reached out with her hand and began stroking my face slowly. It was a docile, almost demure gesture that belied the overwhelming killing intent that was flowing out from her eyes.
"No, Hiro-kun. Not really."
Come to think of it, they never did catch Jack the Ripper, did they?
"You know, I really like you, Hiro-kun. You do know that, right? Right?"
I gulped and answered as quickly as I could.
"Yes, I know, senpai."
She pouted and narrowed her eyes until they were nothing more than tiny slits, with her dark pupils peeking out behind them, before closing the distance between us in one swift movement. There were only a few inches separating us.
"So if at all possible, I'd prefer not to do any bad things to you, Hiro-kun. But if you leave me no choice, then I'll try my best to endure it and not be sad..."
Er, couldn't you just not hurt me? We'd all be happy that way.
Of course, I didn't say that out loud. Even I'm not that stupid. I decided to try some stalling tactics.
"It's not what you think, Nakahara-senpai. I just didn't want you to misunderstand."
"Misunderstand? Well, right now it looks like my boyfriend has decided to cheat on me even though we've only been in a relationship for four weeks! Isn't that the truth? Is that something that I should be okay with?! Aren't situations like this why Japan's birth rate is falling and why there are so many examples of Narita divorces?! It's a social malady that we need to deal with without hesitation!"
It was an outburst from Nakahara-senpai that shocked even me. For the usually calm and reserved Nakahara-senpai to be this agitated...This wasn't just something that could be laughed off.
"Wait, calm down, senpai! I'm not cheating on you!"
"Then who was on the phone, Hiro-kun? Tell. Me. Now."
Allow me to remind everyone that my face and head were still in her grasp. Eep.
Well, it looked like there was no other way. I had to come clean.
"It was a friend of mine. Kitamura Rin. My childhood friend, to be exact."
I gave a brief explanation of the situation while the last few of my classmates left the classroom, leaving Nakahara-senpai and I alone. I did not miss the dirty looks that they gave me.
"Oh? So Hiro-kun had a childhood frienddddd..."
Nakahara-senpai dragged out her words in a slovenly drawl that completely did not match her image. Well, then again, she hadn't been acting like herself at all today. There was almost no trace of her usual personality had led her to be so popular in school. Hey, your high-class, graceful character is rapidly disappearing, you know!
"...Yes, and I was afraid you would misunderstand, senpai."
She raised a finger and said, "I understand your feelings, Hiro-kun, but you should never hide something from a woman. We know when you're trying to do that, and we'll come to our own conclusions even if you don't tell us anything about it."
That sure sounds right.
"And so? This childhood friend of yours - I seem to have forgotten her name - gave you chocolate as well on Valentine's?" Nakahara-senpai asked, crossing her arms.
"Yep. All Rin gave me was just giri chocolate, though."
"Hmph. That doesn't matter. Seeing another girl besides me on White Day...It looks like you have no idea what it means to be my boyfriend, Hiro-kun."
She pouted and turned her head away from me.
Now, how should I placate her? Now, I don't mean to brag, but I've had quite a lot of experience in such situations. Yes, even someone like myself has dealt with angry girls quite a few times over the course of my life. However, I've never had to think of something to say myself at those times. I just had to pick one of the three options on the screen.
Eh? Wait a minute. Aren't I in trouble here? This could be bad.
Well, let's try for some logic first. It can't hurt.
"Rin lives pretty far away, you know. Since she's coming all the way over here for White Day, the least I could do is to return her gift."
Yeah, as far as I can tell, there was perfectly reasonable.
"I don't care."
Well...this was the result of trying to be reasonable. It didn't even take three seconds for her to shoot down my explanation with an answer that matched my thoughtfulness with an equal amount of inconsideration.
"I know it's not right of me to think this way, Hiro-kun, but I don't like it! I don't want you to look at anyone but me!"
We stared at each other in silence as Nakahara-senpai's declaration slowly sunk in.
...Wait...! Isn't this..? What senpai just said...!
The tiny, little voice in my head trailed off.
I felt my face burn up as I averted my gaze from her.
Opposite me, Nakahara-senpai was blushing furiously as well, and her hand shot up to her face as she tried to hide herself behind it.
...Well...Of course I'm happy that she thinks of me in this way! It's not like I have a problem with that...Definitely not! But...Still...
...For someone like me who doesn't have much experience with love, and is even still referring to his lover as 'senpai', it's just too much to expect me to take such a declaration calmly.
I looked up at the sound of Nakahara-senpai clearing her throat. It was still difficult for us to meet each other's eyes, and my heart was still engaged in its Limit Break mode, but it felt a little easier for us to talk now.
"A-Anyway, Hiro-kun, did this childhood friend of yours travel over for Valentine's as well?"
Yeah, a change in subject was probably best for now.
"Yes. Well, to be exact, she dropped by on the fifteenth. Rin's in the basketball club, you see, and she happened to have a match on Valentine's itself, so she had to wait for the next day. But that's no reason for me to not return her gift."
"So she doesn't live nearby here?"
"Nope. I think it takes her about three to four hours to get here. We used to live pretty close to each other, of course, but Rin accepted a sports scholarship and she's now in a high school that's pretty famous for its basketball club. Shuuhoku High School, to be exact. Ever heard of it?"
Nakahara-senpai shook her head. "No, unfortunately not."
Well, that was hardly surprising. Nakahara-senpai was definitely not what I'd call a sporty type. I knew very well that her passions mainly lied in music.
"...I see...So she plays basketball...That should be fine, right? Hiro-kun doesn't look like the type that would like a tall, muscular woman...Well, I'm tall too, but that's different..."
I raised an eyebrow as she spoke rapidly in a voice so soft that she was almost whispering.
"Hm? What did you say, senpai? I didn't quite catch it."
She looked up with a jerk and shook her head furiously.
"...! No, it's nothing, Hiro-kun. Putting that aside, what do you think of childhood friend-type characters?"
Out of the blue, an arrow had been fired, and it was now heading straight for me. I've always known that you were an assassin, but at least give some kind of warning first!
"Wha - ! That's...I don't really think anything of them, senpai. Why did you ask me something like that? Wait, even before that, why do you know of a concept like a 'childhood friend-type character', senpai?!"
This isn't much of an observation, but childhood friends aren't all that uncommon in reality. Even someone like me has a childhood friend. But a 'childhood friend' in reality and a 'childhood friend-type character', a concept that exists in the fabled second dimension, are wildly different. Just like how a loser with no powers, special ability, or talent other than playing video games is surely able to become a hero and form his own harem, a childhood friend in the second dimension morphs into a goddess that few others can match. Always by your side. Cooks delicious food for you, and wakes you up every day. An existence who possesses all of the attractive characteristics of a housewife despite being only sixteen. Indeed, there is no end to the praise that I can laud upon such a character -
But I seem to have gotten a little sidetracked. Ahem. That isn't the main issue here. The real question was why Nakahara-senpai, a riajuu who by all rights should have no interest whatsoever in the visual arts of manga, anime, and games, knew of such a concept.
"Heheh. I've been doing my own research, Hiro-kun. It's necessary for me to know just what kind of things my boyfriend is interested in, after all."
"No, no, wait. There's no need at all for you to do this, senpai!"
Even though Nakahara-senpai is older than me in terms of age, and is much more intelligent as well, she's always given me the impression close to that of a sheltered princess. She was, after all, an honour student, and I don't think it's surprising for her to not know much about what life was like when you strayed off the beaten path. And I felt that there was no need for that to change, either. She was fine the way she was. I appreciated her effort, but I never thought it necessary for her to align her interests with mine. I didn't want her to change just because of me.
"You're worrying too much, Hiro-kun. It's not like I'm forcing myself to do this."
"Yes, but even so...!"
Nakahara-senpai tilted her head and frowned. "Does it bother you that much? You're making a really scary expression."
I widened my eyes and reached up with my hand, touching my face.
She's right. I'm glowering. It's not like me at all.
It must have been because she brought up Rin.
I shook my head. What I really wanted to do was to clear my mind, but I was sure that Nakahara-senpai would simply interpret the gesture as an answer to her question.
"It's nothing. I just overreacted. Sorry."
Nakahara-senpai leaned closer to me and looked into my eyes. A faint pink tinge crept up her cheeks.
"Er...Yes? Is there something you want to ask me, Nakahara-senpai?"
"Are you worried that I'll look up perverted things?"
"Huh? No! That's not it!"
I hadn't even considered the possibility of Nakahara-senpai saying a phrase like 'perverted things', never mind looking them up.
"You only sound more suspicious if you deny it so strongly. Ami told me that otaku guys are particularly into all kinds of strange, deviant fetishes that normal people can't be allowed to know. That's it, isn't it!"
She pointed a finger at me with no shortage of dramatism.
Perhaps I really am strange. My girlfriend was basically accusing me of being a pervert who had weird fetishes, and all I can think about is a way to restrain my laughter. All of the tension that I had been feeling earlier had completely drained away.
Incidentally, Nishimura Ami was a friend of Nakahara-senpai who had a strong interest in entertainment like manga and anime as well. For those of you who are more familiar with our subculture, she's basically a fujoshi. Unlike the antisocial me, however, she knew how to fit in despite her interests and didn't have problems making friends. You can think of her as my opposite in many aspects.
"I mean, I'm Hiro-kun's girlfriend, so even if you have all kinds of strange preferences, it's my duty to try my best and fulfil them..."
She looked up at me shyly.
"...But no matter how hard I try, I can't replicate something like being a childhood friend! And Ami told me that you seemed like the type who liked those characters!"
So that makes at least two things that I've learned about my girlfriend today.
One. She's prone to fits of jealousy.
Two. She's extremely gullible when it comes to certain things.
Just what the hell did Nishimura-senpai tell her?!
"Er, I'd say every guy has his own preferences, but I think this isn't something that you should be concerned about right now, senpai. And as for childhood friend characters, I don't particularly like them."
"It's similar to how people who actually have little sisters aren't interested in little sister characters."
Another lie. This line of thinking does apply to quite a few people, but there are also those who seek refuge from the harshness of reality by enjoying themselves with characters who won't betray their expectations. But Nakahara-senpai didn't need to know that right now!
I held my breath as she stared at me.
I exhaled slowly so as not to draw her attention.
"But I'm still not satisfied. I want to meet your childhood friend. Bring me along when you go to meet her on White Day."
"Is that really necessary?"
I was foolish to have let my guard down. Tezuka-san, I'm sorry.
Her tone was unmistakable. As expected of the student council president. She could be forceful when she needed to be.
According to the message Rin sent me, she was going to arrive in about ten more minutes.
"How long until she arrives?"
"Ten minutes, senpai."
Nakahara-senpai was, of course, standing next to me outside the train station. We were waiting for Rin to arrive together.
I had tried my best to dissuade her, but there were times when you had to accept that your best was simply not enough, and this was definitely one of those times. Besides, Rin herself had wanted to meet Nakahara-senpai, which only served to tie my hands up even more.
I thought back to our conversation a few days ago while we waited.
"Eh? Your girlfriend wants to meet me?"
"Hmm...Sure, why not? It's no problem, no problem at all! To be honest with you, I want to meet her too. And it'd be a huge waste if I travelled all the way there just to get chocolate back from someone who's already attached...!"
"Huh? Aren't you staying around after that? It sounds like you plan to go home right after."
There was a pause as I waited for Rin to reply.
"...Are you an idiot, Hiro? Aren't you going to go on a date with your girlfriend later?! What's the point of me staying there?!"
"Mm? Actually, we haven't made any plans."
"I shouldn't have asked. You really are an idiot. Go make some plans then! Honestly, I'm not your mom, you know!"
"Hey! It's not my fault. It's difficult for me to suggest a date because Nakahara-senpai is usually busy. She lets me know whenever she does have spare time."
"Yes, but it's White Day, you know! Hmph, forget it. I'll talk more when we see each other then."
And, with that said, she immediately hung up. The only thing I could do was fix my phone with a disapproving look, but it seemed to be rather unaffected by that.
"Ah! Hiro! And you must be Nakahara-san."
And here she was. Kitamura Rin.
"...! You are...Kitamura-san?"
Nakahara-senpai stared at her.
"Yep. Is something up? You look pretty shocked, you know."
"Oh!" Nakahara-senpai shook her head. "No, it's nothing. It's just that I had a slightly different image of you in my mind from what Inaba-kun told me."
By the way, even though Nakahara-senpai was bold enough to call me by my first name when we were alone, she still referred to me using my last name whenever we were in public. We've only been dating for a month, after all.
"Different image? Eh?"
Rin looked at me with a furtive grin. "Just what have you been telling her, Hiro? I didn't think that you were the kind of person who would badmouth his friends..."
"You know that I didn't do anything like that!" I protested.
"Ah, no. Sorry, it was my mistake for not being clearer. Inaba-kun told me that you played basketball, and so I thought of you as a rather tall person...I made a mistake..."
I see. That did make sense. Incidentally, Nakahara-senpai was quite tall herself - in fact, she was taller than me.
Rin, on the other hand, was really quite short for someone who played basketball, and was a full head shorter than Nakahara-senpai. She twirled her short, curly strands of brown hair around a finger as she replied, "Yeah, normally you'd think that, wouldn't you? Actually, I'm the shortest person in our club. I play as a point guard, and so my height isn't as important compared to the players in the other positions. Of course, it'd help to be taller, but if you're going to be short, there's no better position than point guard!"
She raised two of her fingers in a peace sign.
I doubted that Nakahara-senpai really understood what Rin was talking about. She was just trying to be polite.
"Well then! First! Hiro! Where's my present?"
I sighed. She was as energetic as ever. Being in an athletic club really suited her.
I reached into my bag and took out a box wrapped up in white paper. Silver sparkles adorned the packaging.
"Here. Marshmallows. They're your favourite, aren't they?"
"Ah! How unfair! You know that I have to diet because of my matches and you still got me sweet food!"
Well, even though she said that, she was still grinning.
"Just think of it as a reward that you can enjoy once you're done with your training and matches. Good luck, Rin."
"Mmmmmmm...Fine, whatever! I guess I should be happy that you're giving me anything at all now that you have a girlfriend, anyway."
"Don't be silly, Rin. It's customary."
"Who knows? Anyway, so that's done. Get out of the way, Hiro!"
I stumbled slightly as she charged past me, knocking me aside in the process. Even though I'm a guy, I'm also a guy who spends all his free time exercising his muscles on buttons, keys, and joysticks. A trained, national-level athlete like Rin would have no problems overpowering me whatsoever, as she just so aptly demonstrated. She came to a halt in front of Nakahara-senpai.
"So you're Nakahara-san, huh? You really look as beautiful as Hiro-kun said. In fact, aren't you too beautiful?! Why'd you fall in love with a useless guy like Hiro?"
A normal person would have been swept away by Rin's pace, but Nakahara-senpai was simply too...competent, for lack of a better word.
"That's not true. Inaba-kun is an amazing person."
She smiled kindly, but there was an edge to her voice that I did not miss. Was she angry because of the way Rin had referred to me? Come to think of it, the compatibility between these two was probably awful. Rin was too straightforward and abrasive to get along with a calm, quiet girl like Nakahara-senpai.
I took a step back, both to hide my embarrassment at Nakahara-senpai's compliment and also to prevent myself from getting caught up in the storm that was going to occur in the foreseeable future.
"It's good that you think that way, Nakahara-san. But I just want to make one thing clear. I'm in love with Hiro too."
Oh, no. Why? Why?! I had a small suspicion that she was going to do something, but I never thought that she would come here to declare war!
"Oh? Well, isn't that just regrettable, then? Hiro-kun is my boyfriend now."
There was definitely nothing friendly about Nakahara-senpai's icy smile now. I hadn't intended to get involved, but if I didn't do something soon, I really doubted that I could wake up to see tomorrow in one piece.
I skipped over and bopped Rin on the head with my fist.
" - Ow! What the hell are you doing, Hiro?"
"I could say the same for you. What do you think you're doing?"
"Hmph. You don't understand how girls think at all, Hiro. It's better for us to be straightforward and settle our differences."
What do you mean, 'how girls think'? That's just how you think, isn't it?!
"It's fine, Inaba-kun. Sometimes it's best for us girls to have a good chat with each other," Nakahara-senpai said.
Well, if senpai was going to go that far...It looked like there was nothing left that I could do.
"Right, right!" Rin said, nodding.
I sighed and stepped back from the fray.
"So you say that you're in love with Inaba-kun, Kitamura-san? Does he know that?"
And somehow, I found myself dragged in the next instant.
"Yep, of course he does."
"And just what is the meaning of that, then?"
"Exactly that. I'm in love with Hiro, and I want to make sure he's happy. That's all. I can't make him happy myself, and that troubles me, you know! But you're different from me. You can do that! And I want to make sure that you're happy together. That's all!"
Nakahara-senpai blinked and stared at Rin. Rin may be a very abrasive girl, but she's also a good person underneath it, and her straightforward nature makes it easy for everyone to see that. Her kindness and honesty was, to tell you the truth, pretty impressive. Once again, I was reminded that I was surrounded by girls who were so much more amazing than I was.
"Wait. Hold on a moment, Kitamura-san. Slow down a little, please."
Yeah, as expected. Even someone like Nakahara-senpai can't keep up with Rin whilst she was going at lightspeed.
"What do you mean when you say that I can make Inaba-kun happy? I haven't known you long, Kitamura-san, and we may have got off to a bad start, but you don't seem like an unattractive girl at all. You're cute and lively in a way that I can't be...So what do you mean by that?"
"Mm...It's a long story...Uh, I don't want to talk too much about it either. It's embarrassing, you know! Well, if I had to explain it quickly, Hiro's my childhood friend, and a really important person to me, but I can't accept all of him, Nakahara-san. But Hiro told me that you can! That's something I can't do. That's why you have to be the one to make him happy!"
Nakahara-senpai blinked her eyes in confusion. Clearly, she hadn't understood what Rin was saying. Not that it was her fault; Rin had simply sped ahead too quickly.
It looks like I'll have to do the explaining, then.
"It's basically something like this, senpai. I told you that you were the only person who accepted me, right? I wasn't lying then. My parents weren't happy. And even Rin...couldn't approve of the way I had chosen to live my life."
"The way you had chosen to live your life? Do you mean your obsession with otaku matters?"
"Yes. That and my antisocial behaviour. That's what you meant right, Rin?"
The bubbly girl nodded her head repeatedly. "Yep. I'm not proud of it, but that's what happened. Hiro used to be a pretty nice and cheerful kid, you know! But as he grew up, he started getting quieter and quieter, and whenever I asked him about if something was wrong, all he ever said was, 'Nothing's wrong. I'm just not interested in talking with other people.' in that dead voice of his!"
"Dead voice? I've...never heard Inaba-kun talk like that before."
"I'm actually more social now. I used to be much worse back then," I explained.
"And, just because of that, you decided that you can't be in a relationship with Kitamura-san?"
I looked away. "It sounds silly, doesn't it? But that's the truth. Well, it wasn't as simple as that. Rin tried really hard to get me to change, but I'd never listen to her. That wasn't possible from the start, anyway. I can't change. That's just who I am. But because of that, a rift started to open up between us, and it stayed there for quite awhile. To tell you the truth, we only started talking again when high school started and she had to move away."
"Uh-huh. Well, as I grew older, I realized that Hiro was happy the way he was, and that problem disappeared, though."
"But now you're on good terms again," Nakahara-senpai replied.
"Yes, but it's just not the same after that. I can't like Rin in that way."
The girl in question nudged me in the ribs without any trace of bad humour.
"Ugh! Honestly, Hiro! There's no need for you to try to put a reason to everything! Love isn't logical, you know! The truth is that you didn't fall in love with me, and that's that."
"I really shouldn't be the one to point this out, but aren't you way too cheerful, Rin? We are talking about your heartbreak, after all..." I said.
"Mm...Of course I'm a little sad, but this all happened long ago! I shouldn't let myself get upset over it. Besides, Hiro and I are still good friends. Which brings me to what I really want to say, Nakahara-san!"
Rin really was an unstoppable dynamo.
Nakahara-senpai sighed and let out a little chuckle.
"Fine. I'm listening."
"Hiro's an idiot! He doesn't know how to deal with girls at all! So you can't play coy with him, okay? You have to let him know what you want him to do. Basically, you have to lead the way! Do you get me?"
"Yes, I understand. Thank you, Kitamura-san, and don't worry. I've already experienced that a month ago. I know what to do."
I laughed guiltily as I thought back to the events that had taken place during Valentine's.
Rin flashed a wide grin. "Good! That's all I want to say. Have a nice White Day, you two. Thanks for the present, Hiro!"
"Wait, hold on a moment! You're going back already?" I asked.
"Honestly...! I'm not your girlfriend, Hiro! Pay more attention to the girl who is! I'm glad I met you, Nakahara-san. You're a nice person. I hope we can talk more in the future! Get my number from Hiro if you want to, okay? Message me any time if you want advice!"
And with that, she ripped off a smart salute and dashed back inside the train station. Neither of us could even get a word in.
She was a real character, alright.
I breathed out slowly and allowed the tension to seep out from my shoulders as I turned to face Nakahara-senpai, who was smiling quite sincerely. I had thought that those two were on bad terms at first, but it looks like that's not the case...? Girls are too difficult to understand.
"You're lucky, Hiro-kun. She's a good girl."
"But still, I won't allow myself to lose to her. Where's my present, Hiro-kun?"
Of course, there was no way I would have forgotten it. I retrieved another box that had been wrapped up in the same kind of paper as Rin's present.
"Mu...It's the same as Kitamura-san's!" Nakahara-senpai protested, puffing out her cheeks.
I gave a nervous chuckle. "Sorry. I got the packaging done in the same place. But what's inside is a little better. I think. I hope so, anyway. Open it and have a look."
She did just that.
The paper wrapping fell apart smoothly as she undid it with the precision that only a musician's fingers had.
The box was actually transparent - I had requested for that. Through the cover, it was easy to see the white chocolate that was inside.
It had been created in the shape of a miniature violin, resting on a small stand that encased it and prevented it from falling out. The smooth surface of the chocolate almost made it look as though it was made of ivory. By its side was a small bow of the same colour and material.
Nakahara-senpai flushed crimson as she stared at the present, holding onto it tightly.
"Happy White Day, senpai. Just so you know, this isn't handmade like yours was..."
"Of course I know that! Honestly, Kitamura-san's right. You're such a dullard, Hiro-kun..." She puffed her cheeks out again. To be honest, it kind of reminded me of a certain Pokemon. She was really cute.
"Speaking of which, Hiro-kun. Have you kissed Kitamura-san before?"
"What?" Now it was my turn to turn completely red. "Of course not!"
"Or any other girl, for that matter?"
"There's no way that's possible, isn't it?!"
She giggled and placed a finger on my lips.
Before I even had time to register what was happening -
She leaned in towards me, and our lips touched for a brief instant.
Those authors who like to describe a kiss as taking forever, an eternal moment - they're all liars. There's no such thing. I only found myself wishing that it had lasted longer.
Nakahara-senpai touched her own lips with her fingers, smiling.
"I said that I won't lose to her, didn't I? Happy White Day, Hiro."
Afterword: I hope you've enjoyed reading! From my point of view as the author, it was a blast to write. Also, for those who are wondering what this lines means - 'I was foolish to have let my guard down. Tezuka-san, I'm sorry.' – It's a Prince of Tennis reference. Tezuka's favourite phrase is 'Don't let your guard down', but clearly Hiro hasn't taken his teachings to heart.