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If you don’t realize it, this is the LN. The bot on NU added this in the WN section. Apologies for the misunderstanding.
I, Ichijou Jun, together with my younger sister have an absolute guardian, Aunt Arika, whose theory is that general adolescent conflicts occurring in the first semester of the second year in high school were dangerous.
No, what is this person saying? Obviously, I had asked her about the meaning of this, to which my aunt’s large round glasses shone brightly, as she answered me with super high tension.
“Come now, why do you sound half-asleep Jun-kun? Second year of high school is the time for boys to thrive! It is a must! You will never have another chance to so naturally set a flag with a girl! Fufu!”
“Jun-kun, isn’t there a girl that you like…? You know, it’s almost summer vacation. So for that, you should be carefully preparing right now. “Graduation from virginity during the summer vacation of high school second year”, this is one of the conditions to win in this game of high school life.”
Aunt Arika had been slightly hysterical since she woke up. Perhaps it was due to her profession of being a love comedy shoujo manga artist, that she grew anxious whenever her deadline was close. Of course, I needed to be considerate since I was aware of that, so I decided to reply as was appropriate.
Yes, just like usual. In fact, I had told my aunt a lot of little lies. For example, I have three friends who always come over to our house to play after school.
Maybe this was also because of her profession, however, aunt was always noisily telling me to enjoy my youth right now. Things like, “The God of Youth punishes those who neglect the school festival,” or, “In the world of Youth, you are a great sinner.” All these vague phrases were aunt’s teachings.
For some reason, our Arika patriarch-sama was relentlessly strict about these things. It was not that I hated it… I just did not want to tell her that I was a loner and make her worry.
“I understand. Then I’ll do my best from today onward and surprise aunt when Summer comes.”
“You know, it’s okay to just bring someone home right away! Even if you do naughty things in your room, I’ll pretend not to see. And while pretending not to see anything, I can gather material for my work!”
“No, won’t you basically be staring while pretending not to see?”
“Ufufu… Am I exposed?”
Rather, was that not your intention from the very beginning…
During breakfast in the morning, you had to eat both vegetables and meat. This being Aunt Arika’s policy, the breakfast in our house was quite luxurious when compared to the evenings. In the middle of the table, there was piles of sweet and sour pork, although if you were to neglect your vegetables, they would be persistently heaped on your plate, so you must not be negligent.
…And as if afraid of that happening, the person sitting over there playing around with the lettuce spoke up.
“It’s useless Aunt Arika. That would be impossible for Aniki.”
The girl sitting there still unkempt from sleep giggled with a “hihi”. Her name was Ichijou Keyaki. As my little sister, she had cat-like habits and was a selfish recluse. It was already eight o’clock, yet she still had not changed out of her pajama shirt and shorts. She was supposed to become a third grader today, however it was apparent that she would not be going to school today.
“Has this person ever taken a girl out?”
“Oh, now that you mention it…”
“He’s either studying hard or playing games with me.”
“It won’t be like that soon. Watch me.”
“Did you ever bring anyone apart from your male friends? …Admit it already.”
Keyaki smirked impishly as she played around with her brown-dyed hair. Even though she was such a recluse, she had annoyingly sharp senses. Needless to say, she probably already knew that I was a loner.
“It’s fine if you stay with me this week too. If Aniki graduates from being a loner, who will take care of me?”
“Now now, Keyaki-chan. You shouldn’t spoil your Onii-chan. He really will become a loner.”
Shut up, stop underestimating me. I already am one. Although in truth, I did not mind being a loner. Of course, I respected Aunt’s opinion a lot, however I was already too used to this lifestyle of a gloomy person to actually take her advice. Yet in times like these, I never once told her this. Even if I argued against her, she would crush my logic with her power. After all, it was best to just be an obedient boy. Besides…it was alright.
It was during this time when the protagonists of a school love comedy had conflicts in vain and were often squeezed into bizarre club activities full of pretty girls. I was familiar with this plot. However, if a real loner was thrown into a flock of pretty girls… Was it not miserable just imagining this?
Firstly, I would not able to form cohesive sentences. Instead, the words would be stuck in my throat as soon as I made eye contact with them, so it was not much different from being surrounded by a basilisk. Speaking in terms of wanting to run away in fear, it was akin to being in those zombie movies.
Like a “beautiful girl hazard”. No, too plain.
“Walking beautiful girls.” That would just be pretty girls walking!
“Beautiful girl land.” Definitely sounded like an indecent establishment or something. Could be arrested for that, arrested.
…While thinking about these stupid things, it had already become 7:55am. Time to go.
“Thanks for the meal.”
Standing up as if nothing had happened, I cleared away the plates. As I headed to the front door, my little sister opened her door slowly and peeked out.
“…Today, that thing is on sale, so…”
She was probably referring to the game that she had been looking forward to, “Crash Brothers”. Naturally, my sister did not want to go outside. So whenever she had things she wanted to buy, she always asked me. However, for some reason Keyaki was fidgeting. Muttering vaguely, she pushed a 10 000 yen bill into my hands.
“What, I’ll buy it okay? I want to play too.”
“No, that’s not it…”
With this, Keyaki squished her cheek against the edge of the door and mumbled,
“About that… You seriously shouldn’t go out with anyone this weekend. The new game is finally out. You shouldn’t try that hard for something like finding a girlfriend.”
“I’m always home. What are you suddenly talking about?”
“Also, don’t bring anyone home! That’s it! Bye!”
With that, she slammed the door shut.
“Haha…” I involuntarily gave a dry laugh. There was no one I could bring. Was she being sarcastic?
Keyaki was a blunt girl after all. Always playing online games and looking at future prices, there were dark circles permanently under her eyes. Her skin was also unhealthily pale. Wasting time with such a sister on the weekend, studying during weekdays… Yet, it was not that bad.
This might not be the school life that Aunt Arika wanted for me. However, I was satisfied with it. Why would I want to exert effort to change my situation when I am perfectly happy with it?
Even Keyaki was like this. Despite being such a strange sister, she was blessed with a talent for speculation and had managed to scrape together game funds before breakfast. For now, she was backing it with Aunt’s money, however one day she would earn enough from gaming to make it a living. For someone like that, was school even necessary?
The bell rang at the end of fourth period and the heavy atmosphere of the classroom instantly lightened. After a moment, someone sitting on the side of the room opened one of the windows so that the wind breezed in from outside, the sky a clear blue.
The classroom was always lively during lunch breaks. Everyone talked about yesterday’s TV shows while putting their desks together to eat lunch. Or club happenings and love interests. Speaking of which, there was also talk about a popular game.
Such a seemingly careless conversation is one of the most memorable things after becoming an adult, is what aunty…no, is what Aunt said. If it was about games, I wanted to join in just a little. (TL: MC almost called his Aunt oba-chan (ばっちゃん), a casual term seen to be impolite in this case, before correcting to oba-san (叔母さん), the polite term.)
Besides, since it was the start of Golden Week, not only was our class cheerful, but the whole grade had brightened up. After all, us second years had summer vacation and a school trip, school festivals… These main events of the student life were still to come.
There was only now, so we should enjoy this moment. This sense of exhilaration that was so similar to giving up, was probably almost as equally infectious. For the majority.
However in my case, I had simply eaten two blocks of CalorieMate, cheese flavoured, and opened up my English workbook. It was useful for exam preparation, although…I have no clue how many times I have already revised this. It was not that I liked studying, rather I had no choice. Since childhood, I could not even say, “Let me in,” so when I thought about what to do during lunch break, naturally this was the best idea. (TL: CalorieMate is a brand of energy bars. MC is eating the one with black text on the box in this link: https://www.otsuka.co.jp/cmt/product/)
Nevertheless, it was not a bad thing to act so negatively. My grade ranking has been steadily rising up and was currently in the fourth place. The girl who had been at the top for years…that is…I have reached a place where I can almost overtake what’s-her-name. If I continued down this path, entering a top national university would not just be a dream, so I could not be lazy.
Still, there was one minor problem. It was a really trivial matter, however…it was only natural for someone like me to be treated as a dense, tactless person in this youthful environment.
“Hey. That guy’s doing it again.”
“That unsocial guy, something-Jou? Lol.”
“Dunno. Whatever-Jou, who cares about him. Lololol.”
Things like these were often said at the back of the classroom. Ha, say whatever you want. They were probably talking deliberately so that I would hear them, though I was not in the mood to respond. It was true that I was antisocial, and “who cares” is a mindset that I also had towards them. If I was self-conscious about everything, I would not be able to think at all.
“Ah. Now Ichijou-kun is scared. Are you gonna cry? Lolololol.”
“Oi, stop it lol.”
I take back my previous statement. Was that not too harsh?! This is already at the bullying level. I will cry hard now, so educational committee, seriously look at me. Well…since there were more than three hundred students in the first grade alone, there would obviously be various kinds of people. This held true even if we considered only this class and interestingly enough, it was possible to tell where a student placed in the classroom just from where they sat during lunch.
For example, those who were purposefully stabbing me in the back were sitting at back of the room on the corridor side, usually talking about games. My seat was at the front of the room, also on the corridor side, so they were directly behind me. These people were often labelled as otakus and in truth, I would like to be in their group too, although that was impossible. In fact, they were looking down on me as not even worthy of being their friend.
On the other hand, the group located across from them were more or less different. They were also at the back of the room but on the window side, meaning that they were diagonally opposite from me. If you observe them for a few seconds…you would see that they were a mixed group of guys from the soccer and basketball clubs, and a few girls with good looks. Hmm. Somehow, I felt that they were a team with superior appearance, social skills, and physical strength. You could tell from the first time seeing them that they were at the top of the so-called school caste.
By the way, these people were different from the otakus from before, they paid no attention to me. It would seem like they had never even noticed me since the beginning. Regardless, they were discussing something with loud voices.
“You know. It was such a mess, she ran off in the middle of our date…”
“Haha, no way.”
“She dumped you fast. Clear your tears, baseball club.”
“Daichi-kun got a buzz cut (laugh)”
The boy called Daichi-kun nodded feebly, dropping his head down on the desk with a thud. Uuh, did that not seem pitiful somehow? Getting a buzz cut just from this kind of situation… However, they really did like sharing love stories. They probably came to school looking forward to these talks. Whenever they came across a pair of students who seemed to be close, they would start rumours about them and seriously try to make them a couple. People’s love affairs, they should just leave them alone. …And then.
“Hey Tachibana… What do you think of buzz cuts?”
“Ah, all the guys wanna know. Tachibana’s type!”
Consequently, the blonde girl sitting in the middle gradually became the centre of attention. She crossed her long white legs while sitting on the desk and said with a puzzled smiled, “Eh, me?”
Tachibana Karen. On the surface, she was an innocent girl popular with both males and females, yet underneath all this, she was a notorious b*tch. There was actually no two sides of the coin to her bad reputation, since it was more of a public secret… Anyway, there were various rumours about her. So many stories were circulating, so I will omit the details and mention only the most common one that “she would eat up any guy she took interest in”.
Although, it seemed like the boys in the class actually wanted to be eaten by her, so the classroom quickly became quiet in order to hear what her favourite type was. Even the guys who were insulting me lowered the volume of their games. Well, after all, you guys were also puppies aiming for her…
“Uun, about that…”
In truth, she had already charmed all the youths of the world from the way she dressed. This was not only about her flashy hair and attractive facial features. She had unfastened the first two buttons on her shirt to reveal slightly her developed chest. Her skirt was clearly short enough to violate the school rules and showing off her bare legs and feet… Wait, who cared about that! I should be studying hard, studying.
That odd girl, she was nothing but a seed of trouble to me. After Tachibana came to the library, my after school hours had become strange. Either way, I was only there to tutor her. That gyaru who seemed to be blockheaded. She would not appear today again right…?
“If he’s not manly enough, I won’t fall for him easily after all. Buzz cuts are okay, but it’s like you’re just indecisive you know…?”
“No way, and I was just dumped…”
Just like that, Daichi-kun from the baseball club was shot down before he could even speak. It was too unreasonable. I would like to send him just one word of comfort and I felt sorry that I could not say anything since I was a loner. Please turn to me anytime. And please become my friend while doing so.
Well, how should I put it… If you gathered boys and girls together in one room, there would naturally be differing characters. There were those who were involved in love stories and those that enjoyed the fun and despair of games.
Hence, as a loser who only searched for places to study, there was no reason to worry about them. Moreover, the fact that I am alone, that others deliberately speak ill of me behind my back, it was not the first time these things have happened in class. Was there anything that I should care about?
However, among them, there was a girl whose level of strangeness I could not accept.
Tachibana Karen… In the end, she came after school that day. No, I should say that she was not the one who came. Even though I had left the classroom as soon as homeroom was over, she had been several minutes quicker. Entering the library and walking a little further in, I had headed to my usual window seat where there was a girl reading a book quietly, a stark contrast to her cheerfulness in class.
On top of that, she was not even sitting in the chair, rather, she sat on the desk in an uncivilised manner, a subdued white sunshine illuminating her. Every now and then, she turned to gaze out the window from what seemed to be boredom. I could not tell if she was looking at the textbook with an expression of seriousness or an absent mind.
Still, this female student did not fit in with this dusty and serious room ─ if anything, there was a sense of ennui ─ so it was a strangely dream-like scene. (TL: Ennui is a French term describing a feeling of tired, listless boredom. I kept the term since it was written by the author in katakana as アンニュイ.)
As she noticed my approach, she fastened her eyes on me and opening her mouth, the first thing she said was,
…Sorry? What did I do? No no, I did nothing wrong. I was confident I did nothing that differed from ordinary. Convinced of my innocence, I went ahead and sat down in the seat next to her with no worries and took out my study materials from my bag, laying them out neatly.
Whatever the case, she came here today to study so we should finish this quickly. Even so, I considered my inability to refuse someone as disastrous behaviour. I had no sympathy for myself. Since the first time she asked me to look at her homework a few days ago, she had not given me a break. Well, it was not like I hated it that much. I had been coming here alone anyway.
“Hey, listen to me!”
With that, Tachibana tugged on the sleeve of my uniform. The blonde girl’s huge eyes were accusatory. For a moment, her face was quite close and a sweet floral aroma tickled my nose. I…gulped. The air in my throat was stuck.
“W-what is it…?”
“I’m annoyed. Seriously.”
“What you mean is, “Please ask me why I’m so annoyed, you virgin prick,” right?
“I wouldn’t go that far… Let’s just say idiotic virgin poopy prick…”
“Isn’t that an even stronger insult?! Are you an elementary student?!”
This was outside of the joking limits even for a casual conversation with a bookworm loner. I was going crazy just from helping her study everyday.
“Look here. If you feel like complaining, you should turn to a better listener. Especially since you have so many friends.”
“Ha? That’s not it. This isn’t about me bookworm… It’s about you.”
“The talking today! During lunch.”
“Ah, about that…”
Um, you mean the group who were playing mobile games? They were certainly spiteful. They had spoken pretty loudly so while I heard them clearly, their voices had even reached Tachibana’s rowdy group.
“What’s with that, he was seriously bullying. It was so annoying. Laughing so stupidly, it was so painful to listen to! I thought about saying something…”
“I’m glad you stopped thinking about it. It’d just complicate things, so don’t bother.”
Tachibana became agitated and clung even tighter to my sleeve. I tried to shake her off lightly. Was she glaring daggers at me? Was I being glared daggers at by a gyaru right now? The only thing in my vision was her face. Speaking of which, exactly who are you angry at…
“….Urk. It was harmless in the end, so it doesn’t matter.”
“Even if Bookworm is okay with it, I’m not! I seriously don’t get you…”
In the first place, why were you the one feeling annoyed instead of me? It should be me saying that I seriously did not understand you.
“Being forever alone, don’t you hate it? Besides, it’s dull.”
…Hating it, huh? Well, I do hate it, yet it was not that simple. I had been like this for a long time, whereas Tachibana was completely opposite to me. About that… How could I make her understand?
Being a loner was almost like living by yourself. If you became used to being alone, you would be rather comfortable over time. As long as you are disliked, you had to be alone so it was almost a relieving outlook. It was like being guaranteed loneliness in the future. So, it was not as simple as just whether I hated it or not.
During bad times, being alone was sometimes an escape route, even if it was terrifying. If a socially adept and friendly guy appeared… For those who were not accustomed to such things, it was easy to become embarrassed and shocked. If you thought about being possibly hated by a friendly person, you would be okay with being lonely from the very beginning.
No that was besides the point, Ichijou Jun. Did you think that she would understand if you explained all this to her? Haa, stop it, just stop. This would only ruin the mood.
Somehow, my head spun from thinking about this by myself. Being a loner meant not being able to hold a conversation with yourself, so it was bothersome that my inner thoughts were so noisy. There were usually at least three different internal voices debating by themselves so I often had trouble dealing with my loud mind. And I had to teach her too, today was seriously a mess…
“Not particularly… I don’t exactly hate it. Some people don’t care what others are saying. Otherwise, how could I study during lunch break?”
“That’s sad… Do you not care about anything in class?”
“It’s not really like that…”
“Anyway, I hate that Bookworm is being hated! Even though you’re a nice person. And kind.”
“Stop that talk, I’m getting goosebumps! Did you come here to study or not? Start on the problems already. You came because there’s something you don’t understand today, right?”
Tachibana sighed, clearly unconvinced, although she finally released my sleeve. Still, even after a conversation like that, today’s study session progressed steadily. It seemed that she was used to my teaching now, since she was becoming more and more earnest. At first, she had only asked about simple homework, yet now,
“Eeto… This story is in the past, so it should be past tense here?”
“Wrong, it’s present tense there. Look closely at the previous verbs… like advise and recommend, the clause following the verb uses that so it’s in the present tense.”
“Eh~, how would I know! That’s unfair.”
“Don’t tell me that, I can’t control it. Go to England if you want to complain about the words they made, or give up and just memorise it. One or the other.”
“The virgin is acting like a demon teacher…”
“Shut up, you showing me the b*tch nature?”
“Hahaha, what is that even…”
By now, the difficulty level of the problems had increased. In terms of exam scope, this was clearly the content that would be included in the next mid-terms, however…they were still a month away. Haha, now you have became a bookworm too.
Although, is this gyaru who messed around in class really doing nothing but studying earnestly after school? What a crazy female. You know, even in the old days, good children played outside after school ended. They even went to karaoke.
Of course, I could not say that aloud. However, it was obvious that Tachibana had her own reasons for doing this…even though I had not asked about this. It was not like we were friends. Instead, my imagination was ran wild on its own. See…maybe she was aiming to become a doctor, studying hard under a facade of playing around. In the future, she could be a blonde surgeon beauty, called Dr. B*tch. Please refrain from using girly slang when writing medical reports. Anyway…the mystery only deepened.
This was the only time during the day when we even talked to one another. I rarely spoke in the classroom. The same held true for gymnasiums, school grounds, and home economics. Even our commute routes were completely different. However, I felt more comfortable this way.
…Tachibana asked so many questions that by the time it was all over, the sun was already setting. So when we finished, the colour of the light permeating the room had turned orange, and by now, there was no trace of the receptionist lady. Why was she always like that?
While Tachibana was packing up to go home, she smacked my butt with her soft hand. I had let down my guard. Realising my carelessness, I looked at her with an expression that said, “What the hell was that, B*tch?”
“Ne… Earlier, you said you didn’t mind what people thought about you, right?”
“Well, I guess I said that.”
“About that. In other words, you don’t care if everybody likes you, right?”
Ha…? I responded with a confused face. The smile on her face widened as she smirked at me, as if my face was funny to her.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nyehehe… It’s nothing. I wonder if everyone would start liking you if they found out that the bookworm is actually a tsundere virgin.”
“When did I act dere…”
“Haha, don’t be so embarrassed. Either way, I’ll already know you’re a deredere.”
As she said this, Tachibana kept poking my shoulder with a devilish laugh. So irritating…
“Like you would. That’s enough. Bye…”
“Ah, wait up~!”
All of this felt like a joke. No, maybe it was a dream or something. Everything can just end already.
Tomorrow would be Friday, so maybe she would stop coming next week. As a simple guy, this kind of situation made me feel unpleasantly nervous. It took a good deal of time to calm down after I went home and rested. I kept telling myself not think too deeply on it.