"Ew!" Mary nearly spits out her drink.
"Why is this super bitter Daisuke?!" she sticks out her tongue.
I instinctively rub the bridge of my nose.
"Of course you dummy…Didn't you hear what the barista said?"
"I couldn't hear what they were saying. It's super busy in here right now."
Mary heads over to the counter and sprinkles some sugar packets into her drink. She mixes it with her straw and takes a sip.
Apparently this cafe had just had a soft opening. I heard rumors beforehand that you could get free drinks if one got a voucher, but those were incredibly rare. The prices were a bit inflated due to the hype, and as a result Mary ordered the cheapest drink on the menu. I offered to pay for her drink but she declined.
Hmm…she could try mine? No! That's way too forward! It's basically an indirect kiss-
I snap myself out of these lewd thoughts. If she knew what I was thinking she'd beat me into a pulp.
Still…I'm kinda surprised Mary asked me out of the blue to this place.
I've been waiting for this moment ever since I first met the Roadrunner. Mary Kaneko's famous reputation made me think she was just an airhead. Well, she is an airhead, but more than that. Girls would confess to me on an almost daily basis back in the day, chasing for my affections any chance they had. Sometimes I just felt that girls were just talking to me only for romantic intentions, much to Kazuki's disdain. Mary didn't treat me like that. The Roadrunner just saw me as a normal person. She didn't see me as a former delinquent or that semi-popular dude. Mary Kaneko accepted me for who I am. As a result, it felt like I managed to see through her rough exterior. I can't imagine how much pressure she feels being the school celebrity that everyone depended on. I can barely contain myself right now, but I can't help but think it's a bit strange that I'm with Mary Kaneko.
We still haven't acknowledged that I basically confessed to her that time. She still remembers right?
"Hmm?" she says, sipping on her drink through a straw.
"How did you find out about this place?" I ask.
Mary suddenly chokes a bit on her drink. I pat her back a few times as she eventually clears her throat.
"I-I read about it online. Yep. That's all. Thanks for coming along by the way haha…"
"Right…" I raise my brow.
As much as I didn't want to admit it, there's no reason for Mary to suddenly invite me to hang out alone together. There must be an ulterior motive. I doubt that it's about my confession either.
"Why are you peeking your head around like a lost kid?"
That was another thing that was odd. When we entered the café Mary seemed a bit disappointed. She had been restless this whole time, fidgeting and rubbing her Masked Avenger pin anxiously, even before getting hit with caffeine.
"I-I am?! I mean, n-no I'm not. What are you talking about?" she twirls her blonde hair.
Finally, she lets down her façade.
"I'm sorry." she sighs. "I'm helpless. I just was hoping to see them."
Now the dots connect.
"You mean Kazuki and Akane?"
"I found out from Akane that she's on a date with Kazuki-kun and well…I was curious and wanted to just watch over her y'know? Make sure he doesn't do any funny business!" she confirms. "All I knew was they were planning on coming here. I guess we missed them."
Weird stalking tendencies aside, I don't blame her. Those two are probably denser than a black hole when it comes to their feelings for each other. I haven't caught up much with Kaz yet, but today at the photo shoot he seemed "off."
I can't think what to say right now. It's hard to concentrate.
"You wanna take it outside?" I suggest. "The café's pretty busy now and I can barely hear what you're saying."
Mary nods and we both exit through the crowd of people. With nothing better to do, we start to randomly walk around. We eventually find a park to explore.
"Maybe I'm worrying too much about them. They're both so hopeless." she sighs.
"I'm sure they're doing fine..." I reply.
The tension between us is uncomfortable right now. I can't tell if it's because of the caffeine finally coursing through our veins, or because of how anxious I am.
"Ah!" I shout loudly into the air.
I impulsively down the rest of my drink in one gulp and toss the empty cup into a trash bin.
"W-What are you doing?" Mary scratches her head.
I need to cheer her up the only way I know how.
"I-I'll race you Roadrunner!" I proclaim with my finger pointed at her. "One lap around the park! Go!" as I start sprinting ahead.
"Y-You idiot! You think you can beat me?!" I hear her high-pitched screams behind me.
She took the bait!
I only take a few steps but suddenly my thigh begins to act up! The only thing that was keeping me forward was the adrenaline and caffeine amplifying it.
Just run through the cramping Daisuke!
I keep running, ignoring the random people staring at me. Of course, Mary passes me and eventually I see a trail of dust behind a girl in a red tracksuit.
"I…didn't…even…stand…a…chance." I barely let out.
I finally reach Mary, who seems like she's barely broken a sweat. She still has her cup of coffee in one hand. Mary takes a few more sips and then throws into the nearby trash can like she's shooting a basketball.
"Let's…take…a breather." I haphazardly let out.
It was stupid of me to challenge the Roadrunner to a race. I'm too dumb to think of something better to change the mood. I'm sure that she probably could've run around the park twice and still beat me. I slump into an empty bench, opening my shirt up to cool down.
This isn't exactly a date…but I didn't expect a track meet either…
"You're really out of shape dude." she says, trying to cover her mischievous smile with her hand.
"Being…in…exile…does that." I say, trying my best to keep my drink from coming up.
"If you're going after the king, you better not miss."
"You're probably fast enough to dodge bullets." I reply sarcastically.
Mary sits down next to me. I immediately get out of my malaise and sit up straight.
From this distance I could practically smell her shampoo. It's a pleasant smell, a mix between flowers and something like vanilla ice cream.
"Thanks." she smiles softly.
"You're welcome." I anxiously reply.
Jeez Daisuke! You can't be more awkward right now.
Although from this angle (actually from any angle) Mary is cute, I made sure to snap a lot of mental images earlier today. Never in my dreams would I have expected to see Mary in that red prom dress. Who would've known the Roadrunner could be so elegant?
"So..." I break the silence. "D-Did you have fun taking the photos?" I ask.
Being the Roadrunner, I'm sure seeing an advertisement of her in that dress would've convinced about 99% of the male populace to show up. I'm sure whatever they planned would be a success.
She's so pretty…
"That red dress was so lewd!" she cringes.
"I can't believe Aka-chance told me to wear it!" Mary's face turns pink.
"R-Really? I thought you looked great in it." I say aloud.
Mary instinctively punches my shoulder. It doesn't really hurt, but I feign pain by vigorously rubbing it.
"Y-You pervert! You better forget about it you knucklehead!" she pouts.
I will never forget about it.
I stop my teasing at the thought of taking another flurry of her punches.
"T-Thanks though. I'm not exactly used to wearing stuff like that. It was so tight and binding! I could barely walk in those heels. Why can't I just wear what's comfortable?" as she extends her legs off the ground, displaying her worn sneakers.
"It did make you look taller though." I reply.
"R-Really?! How much taller?" she replies with stars in her eyes.
"Normal-sized." I joke.
"Haha so funny…" she says with a wry smile. "At least I'm not mistaken for a walking street light with that blonde hair of yours."
"What…?" I raise my brow.
Suddenly my stomach starts to hurt from laughter. I laugh uncontrollably to the point where I nearly fall of the bench. People around us are starting to stare at how much noise I'm making, but I don't care.
"What…what kind of insult is that?" I wipe a tear from eye.
"J-Jeez! You and Kaz are the same!" she turns her body and crosses her arms.
I eventually calm myself down, though I can't help but chuckle a few more times. My composure finally returns.
"I can't help but feel worried about them." she sighs. "Akane's my best friend. I just want Kazuki-kun to be happy. I want both of them to be happy but I have this strange anxiety in my heart." she explains.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"It just feels…like we're all drifting apart. I don't know how to explain it, but it feels like we all look at each other like we're strangers. I try to get Akane to open up about what happened during the six months but she just ignores it or doesn't say much. I just want to help but I don't know what to do." Mary slumps into the bench.
"I know how you feel. Kaz's my partner-in-crime but even I can't get a read on him."
"I just wonder if we'd ever get back to the good 'ol days. I wish Akane and I talked like before, staying up super late. I even miss Kazuki yelling at me about English class." she chuckles.
Speaking of that…
"S-So uh…about Kaz." I speak up. "Are you two still…?"
Mary stays quiet. Her body fidgets uncomfortably.
"No. We're not…I just…I don't know dude." she admits.
"You still like him…?" I ask.
"I'll always like him. He's always been there for me even if he is a knucklehead." she pouts. "But I'm not sure anymore."
Mary rubs her Masked Avenger pin. It's pretty worn, with the silhouette of the character barely visible now.
"Seeing him with Aka-chan, I just know she's right for him."
"You're okay with that?"
"No! I mean…" Mary sighs. "Akane's my best friend. I just want to go back to what things were. I just want Kazuki-kun to be happy. I want both of them to be happy."
"Yeah. Me too."
Seeing them earlier today made me really feel like they were meant for each other. Even if Kazuki is weird right now, I can tell his heart is in the right place at least.
"The way he looks at her, I know he'll never see me that way. I've accepted that now. I just hope they'll still be in my life." she smiles. "You'll never leave me right Daisuke?"
"Never." I say instinctively. "I-I mean if you want t-to that is. I-I mean y-you're a perfectly strong and independent…"
I didn't see that coming! I'm tearing up inside! That was way too forward! Or was it not forward enough? "Never?" What kind of response is that?!
Why can't I just be normal around Mary Kaneko?!
"Y-Yes?" I quickly try to calm myself down.
"What do you think of me?" she asks bluntly.
""I think you're really nice and uh...you're the Roadrunner of Kasumigaseki High." I reply anxiously.
"Is that what you really think of me?"
I look into her deep blue eyes. They remind me of the calm ocean sea.
"No." I take a deep breath.
I tell her my true feelings.
"I like you Mary. More than anything in the world." I reply.
"Why?" she asks. Mary moves closer to me, her expression still unfazed. I can practically feel her breathe on my face.
"Um..." I tilt my head back a bit.
"I don't know when it was the exact moment. But I remember you calling me an idiot." I laugh. "The more we talked and the more I found out about you, you're not just the Roadrunner – you're Mary Kaneko. I don't know if it was your intention, but I think you saw me as someone other than the rumors. You treated me like any other person, and not shunned me because you thought I was a delinquent or were trying to just get with me. Ironic isn't it? I was annoyed that being next to the Roadrunner in class would attract unnecessary attention and trouble. Now, I can't imagine spending another second without you."
"I'm in love with you Mary Kaneko. That's the truth."
Mary finally averts her eyes. She rubs her Masked Avenger pin and looks towards the path. People are walking past us, living their normal lives.
"I see..." she speaks up. "Thank you for your honesty."
"When you confessed to me six months ago I didn't know what to say. It made me feel kinda honored to be honest. I appreciate your feelings for me Daisuke. I'll always see you as a friend no matter what."
"I understand." I reply, bracing myself.
"I don't think I'm ready for a relationship yet." she admits.
My heart sinks like a boat to the bottom of the ocean. Argh! It's my own fault for being too forward and way too awkward. I'm such an idiot! I resign myself to my fate.
It is what it is…
"But…" she continues.
"I wouldn't mind if it was you."
"W-What?" I reply, unsure if I heard correctly.
"I-It's too embarrassing…don't make me say it again." Mary blushes. "I-It's not official or a-anything. We still have to go on a…a date."
"O-Of course. W-We have to go on a date first…" I nervously let out.
"T-Then it's settled. We'll go on one date and go from there. Yep!" Mary proclaims. "We'll save those two dummies together!"
Pinch me…I must be dreaming.
I can't believe I'm going out on a date with Mary Kaneko. My anxiety and heart are racing, now for different reasons. I don't think I've ever been this happy in my life. It's the same feeling of joy like when my sister got released from the hospital.
I better tell Kaz the good news. Maybe we could even go on a double date!
What is wrong with me?
I'm finally able to stop my tears. I ran away from Kazuki after his maniacal story about killing me. I ran away from him, the boy I loved dearly, and I impulsively told him I never wanted to see him again.
What was I thinking? I cannot believe I said that.
He spoke about being in some other "world" and that he apparently killed my other self in another reality. Was this the doing of his disappearance? It feels like Kazuki has never returned, that my search for him still continues.
How did he know about my cat doll?
That was the key detail that still bothered me. Absolutely no one knows about my childhood plush toy, not even my own brother. I have kept it a secret since it is really embarrassing, and also that it is a precious childhood memento that I did not want to reveal to anyone.
Could he be telling the truth then…?
"Argh!" I exclaim loudly to the wind.
I cannot believe that I am entertaining the idea of alternate realities!
My heart wants to believe what he is saying, but also my mind is telling me that it makes absolutely zero sense. Is this another part of Kazuki's suffering? Am I the source of his troubles?
"You seem more troubled than usual." someone says on cue.
A mature voice catches my attention.
The class president, Tsubasa Takemi appears in my vision. The dainty and shy class president persona was merely a façade. The real Tsubasa Takemi is an apprentice to my older brother, and a detective in training. With what happened in Yozakura, I'm not sure what to think of her. However, we both share the burden of an experience that will haunt our lives. I trust her fully with my life it ever comes to it again.
"H-Hello Akane-chan!" she says in her usual meek class president voice.
Tsubasa waves and greets me with a peace sign with her right hand. Her rather unsettling smile eerily changes into a coldly blank and emotionless expression. She takes a sip of a milk tea drink in her hand. It looks to be from the same café I was at earlier.
"I know you're my master's sister, but don't think that it means you have a free pass to do whatever you want." she says in a monotone voice.
This must be my brother's doing. I would not blame him; I would do the same to make sure my family was safe.
"So he has you on babysitting duty? I do not need your protection." I snap at her.
"I am free to do whatever I want during my free time." she explains. "I'm not here to protect you. I'm making sure you don't do anything stupid again." she says bluntly.
"Keeping up appearances is part of your rehabilitation."
"I am not going to do anything rash. Just stay away from me."
I avert my gaze and look at the light mark on my hand.
"After what just happened with Kazuki, I think leaving you alone is the worst thing to do."
"Y-You saw?" I get taken back.
"I didn't hear what you two had to say, but judging based on your reaction, I don't think your happy reunion went well."
It does not take a detective to tell I am unnerved right now. My mind is in haywire. I can barely stand up, my legs are trembling from this anxiety and emotional state.
Tsubasa walks up to me and she grabs my hand. She wraps her fingers around mine tightly. They are not like mine. Her fingers are tough, weary, like they have been trained to do things I cannot imagine.
"This isn't the Akane my brother talks about." she says in a low voice.
"I don't know what you see in that boy, but the Akane I knew didn't go to those lengths just to suddenly abandon the person she loves. Do you remember what you said to me when I found you?" she asks.
"I will not forget about him." I reply confidently.
She lets go of my hand.
"I don't know what he said, but I know you wouldn't give up on him like that so easily."
Finally, she says something that digs deep into my heart:
"The only person that could help him right now is you."
Tsubasa was right. Despite what methods she chose to tell me, what she said is true. It was my unwavering conviction to save Kazuki over the last six months that convinced Tsubasa to stay silent about what really happened in Yozakura. That incident gave me a clue to his return, albeit at a heavy cost.
"Sorry about that scar. I wish we didn't have to do that."
"It is fine. It was the only way to convince my brother."
I am not sure what to feel right now. Maybe I was too dense and stubborn in saying those words to Kazuki. The only thing I know for sure is that I must see him again. I should not have given up on him so easily.
"Thank you Tsubasa. I really needed that." I smile.
"Go. I'll check in this direction." as she finishes her drink and heads off.
I head off in the other direction to find him.
Kazuki, where are you?
I wondered what my life would be like if I had never met Akane Yuki. Maybe in some other lifetime I would've been the same Kazuki Kaneshiro that coasted by his high school career. Now that our relationship has been irrevocably broken, I try to find some semblance of a positive outcome. I was the source of her pain. Yuki-san was just humoring me out of obligation because I managed to coincidentally save her. I aimlessly wander around the area, eventually finding myself somehow at the first place where this all started.
A few cars whiz by the road near the abandoned factory. Just a few meters away from me was where my bicycle became a pile of scrap. I still vaguely remember the yellow headlights coming closer and closer towards me. I can't shake this restless feeling and so I begin to kick a couple of rocks around.
"Is this what my hero of justice has become?" a voice whispers.
A chill runs down my spine. I know who it is.
"Stop it! You're not real!"
I close my eyes and cover my ears with my hands. There is momentary silence.
"You loved her, didn't you?"
I reluctantly open my eyes, to see Her – Akane Yuki.
"You loved her like you loved me right?" as a grin appears on her face.
"Welp. There's no helping it now Kazuki. This was bound to happen anyways. Only a matter of time." She sighs.
"Shut up! What do you want from me? Do you want me dead?!" I shout at Her.
Her enigmatic figure only wants to cause me harm. These headaches, visions, hallucinations, whatever you want to call them are because of what I did. Maybe this was just justice being served to me.
"You still don't understand do you?"
With a snap of her fingers, my world becomes black. I can't see anything.
"Tell me what you want." She asks. "What is it you desire?"
I can't live without Akane Yuki. She is who I desire.
But that is no longer possible. I killed her. Whoever this being is could very well be from the depths of Hell.
"Tell me what you want." She asks. "What is it you desire?"
What are you talking about?! I said what I wanted. I can't live without Akane Yuki! That is my desire!
I wish to undo everything. I wish I didn't act so dumb in a fit of rage. Akane Yuki is the only person that can make me happy.
"Tell me what you want." She asks. "What is it you desire?"
Although I can't see it, my brain can feel my phantom fists curling from anger. The voice is clearly tormenting me.
Then what is it I desire!? I am literally telling you what I want!
"Do you remember happier days?" it replies.
Suddenly my vision returns, and I find myself standing in the middle of the road. The abandoned factor is pretty close by. I think either I returned here or I had just blacked out for a bit. My world resumes breathing.
"Come with me."
She appears. Her back is turned towards me and she starts walking forward in the middle of the road.
"Where are you going!?"
She doesn't reply and keeps walking forward. I reluctantly start to follow her.
"This road we are on. It's interesting to think about the number of people that have traveled this path isn't it? Life sure finds a way to keep itself interesting no matter what."
"What does this have to do with anything? Why are you going on these tirades? If you're trying to get me locked up for insanity then just do it! I have nothing to left to lose." I say, dejected.
Suddenly She stops.
"Then all the more reason to continue. Find something Kazuki."
I didn't expect a response.
A sharp pain races across my head. Images flash through my mind. I see Her. I see Akane Yuki. I see my friends. Everyone is smiling and laughing.
There is joy.
I fall to my hands and knees and see myself. It looks like I am staring at my own reflection, but that isn't the case. It's me. The "other" Kazuki Kaneshiro – My true self.
I wrap my hands around His neck. Instinctively my grip becomes tighter and tighter.
"Just go away!" I shout to his blank expression.
I keep squeezing tighter and tighter until a figure's shadow enters my view.
"You can't kill him. He's you. You've been here before." She says, glaring down at me.
I look down to see my reflection has disappeared.
"There's something more important that you haven't accepted yet." She explains.
"What! I accept this pain! This is what I deserve isn't it! If this is to atone for my sins, or for Akane Yuki, I am willing to do whatever it takes to get back to her!" I plead.
"Accept the truth Kazuki. Your true desire."
My true desire...?
Finally She makes me realize something I have buried deep down:
Tears begin to flow uncontrollably down my face. I don't feel any pressure like before. Instead, I feel this simple feeling, a feeling of warmth that I haven't felt in a long time.
"It's okay Kazuki. I am here for you."
She wraps me around her arms, and caresses my head.
"How can I be forgiven for what I have done...?"
"I am not sure Kazuki. Your choice has certainly caused a great deal of trouble for Us." She chuckles.
"But I know the only person that can forgive you...you. Your happiness isn't just from Akane Yuki. It can only come from within. You can't love others if you cannot love yourself."
"I'm scared. I don't know how I can do it." I admit.
"That's okay." Her voice makes me feel at ease. "You'll have friends that will help you along the way."
Daisuke. Mary. Akane. They'll help me?
"Only if you let them."
A big wave of relief courses through me. Although my anxiety isn't gone. I know what I must do.
"Is this it? Is this the last time we will see each other?" as I stand up.
"Yes." she replies. "This will be the last time we see each other Kazuki. Live with a heart full of joy and gladness. Find the sunny side of life." she smiles.
"But, even if I am gone. I will always be by your side Kazuki. I won't ever forget about you."
"And I won't either." I reply.
Finally, she comes closer to me. She wraps her arms around my neck and kisses me one last time.
A flash of light blinds my vision. I am alone. There is nothing left. She has disappeared from my consciousness. Now I must find my own path in life.
I'm feeling a bit light-headed right now. I don't know where I am, but I can tell this is definitely not my room. An unfamiliar septic scent hangs faintly in the air, one that isn't particularly pleasant. My eyes take a moment to adjust, and my weary eyelids finally open. I look up at the ceiling to see some fluorescent lights that are attached, though they aren't on right now, probably because the sun was shining through the windows
I hear a subtle beeping noise periodically, as I notice the medical equipment hanging from the walls. It seems like some of it was there to monitor me, as I try and fail to rub my chest, only to see a neat nest of wires running down my skin. I look down at my legs to see I'm wearing a thin blue gown, though I'm wrapped in heavy bandages. My body feels super heavy, as I can barely lift anything.
Am I in a hospital...?
Finally, I notice that someone is slumped over their arm near my feet.
I try to say something but nothing except a dry groan leaves my mouth. It seems my voice hasn't come back yet.
Who is this...?
With the long black hair, I think it's a girl. She is lying face-down by my bed so I can't tell what she looks like.
Suddenly my memories come flooding back to me. How could I have forgotten who this is? The long black hair was the same hair I've seen every day at school. Silky, smooth, and black as night. There's only one person this could be, lying at my bedside:
But is this my world?
I quickly scan her body for any distinguishing marks, but I can't tell which Akane it is. My thoughts are suddenly interrupted by a sharp pain in the front of my skull. I quickly try to comfort it with my hands, but I stop myself as I notice Akane is holding my right hand. She isn't gripping it tightly to be honest, and with a small budge I could probably let go, but I don't want to.
Then it finally hits my oblivious head:
Akane Yuki has been waiting for me to wake up. I notice the coffee cans scattered around the room, along with get-well cards and balloons. I see a familiar red tracksuit with a pin placed on Akane Yuki's back like a blanket.
How long has she been here?
I only hear light breathing coming from her. She's sound asleep...peacefully.
I shouldn't disturb her rest.
Her hand feels warm, comforting; I never want to let go of it ever. I feel lucky to have someone watching out for me. I'm glad that I have someone by my side. But, maybe because I've been staring at Akane for a bit, I'm starting to feel a little sleepy as my eyelids begin to droop. Almost instinctively, a smile starts to appear on my weary face.
I wish to see her smile later.
I'm feeling light-headed.
That's it! Thank you for making it all the way to the end of "I Can't Believe I Have the Girlfriend of My Dreams!" Being my first work, I never would have imagined anyone would even click on my story, let alone actually review and follow. I hope it was satisfying for you to read, as much as it was for me to write. Please look forward to my next work, which will probably be drastically different, and most likely be published about a year from now. Stay safe, and thank you very much! ~kenbinru
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