If you like our work, please follow us on our social media, and feel free to join our discord: https://discord.gg/e4BJxX6
It’s first love so it can’t be helped
“Right, I would hereby like to commence the 23rd Round Table Meeting of the Entertainment Appreciation Society, but…”
Meeting Room 3 in the school gym.
It had once been called the Theatre Dressing Room, but the Theatre Club had folded seven years ago due to a lack of members. From then on it had become Meeting Room 3, which students were allowed to borrow freely with permission from the student council. To that end Tetsuhiko had been granted preferential usage of the room soon after his establishment of the Entertainment Appreciation Society, and we had used it since to prepare a foundation for the advancement of the club. Today was no different.
“So Haru, what you’re saying is that you’re planning to discover Abe-senpai’s weakness, then expose it to everyone else?”
“Exactly! Every guy has one or two secrets he’d like to hide, right? I’m going to let the whole world know his! That way there’s no way Shirokusa will escape unscathed either! Everyone’s going to talk about her horrible judgement, about how she’s a hopeless woman who got caught by a hopeless man! The two of them are going to hit rock bottom! Oh, it’s going to be the greatest revenge plan ever! Heheheh! Sometimes my genius scares even myself!”
Kuroha and I were discussing something else – our first love revenge plan in earnest.
“H- Hey, Sueharuuu, Shida-channn…”
Tetsuhiko’s exasperated calls never reached my ears.
I could not have waited a moment later to go over the plans with Kuroha that I had restlessly formulated earlier during class. However, due to the nature of the subject matter, then I had no choice but to flesh out my schemes alone.
But now school had finally ended. Meeting Room 3 was secluded and completely soundproof. There was really no better place suited for our discussion, as I excitedly revealed my grand scheme to her after keeping it a secret for so long.
“… Haru, Tetsuhiko-kun is calling for you, are you sure you want to ignore him?”
I looked up and indeed saw Tetsuhiko standing in front of the whiteboard.
“Since when did you get here?”
He hadn’t been there when I brought Kuroha over. Too absorbed in the conversation, I had completely failed to notice him.
“You’re in too deep, man. Wake up.”
Shit, did we have to stop now? Considering how sensitive this information was, I really couldn’t let Tetsuhiko hear it. I had just gotten into a groove too…
“Tetsuhiko, could you please go somewhere else? Kuroha and I are discussing something important.”
“Uh, are you forgetting who booked this place?”
“Come on, can’t you let go just for today? It’s not like you’re going to do anything productive.”
Tetsuhiko’s brow furrowed.
“The cultural festival’s coming up soon, man. We’re supposed to decide what item we’re gonna perform by today.”
“Just decide yourself. The original plan was going to be you running a one man show anyway, right?”
“Are you really not going to perform, Sueharu?”
“I’m only helping because you asked when I was free. Like I’ve told you many times before, I have no intentions of going up on stage. Alright, I’ve said enough. I promise to help you out later, so please, just go home. Right, Kuro, as I was saying–”
Pow! I got punched in the head. It hurt like crazy. I snapped.
“You bastard! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
“Well, I wouldn’t have punched you if you hadn’t said those things to piss me off first, you wimpy maggot!”
“Why are you acting all pissed off for? This ain’t the time, dumbass!”
“Look, I know you got rejected, okay?! I can tell that much, you piece of trash!”
“………………………… How did you know?”
As my eyes rounded into circles, Tetsuhiko scratched his head and looked to Kuroha to speak.
“You’re too easy to read, Haru. Tetsuhiko-kun has a good intuition. I figured he’d be able to tell.”
“For real? Well, you’re wrong.”
“Sueharu, enough of that. It’s just too obvious.”
“Well, you’re still wrong.”
“Why do you have to be a such a ham actor… Shida-chan, do you know?”
“Haru’s always been like that when it comes to personal things.”
“Well maybe it’s a coping mechanism then.”
Tetsuhiko softly cleared his throat.
“–So anyway, Sueharu, I already know what’s going on. You’re just being a bother trying to hide it. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone else.”
“Y- You sure about that, Tetsuhiko?”
“Of course. We’re friends, aren’t we?”
Tetsuhiko placed his hands on both of my shoulders and looked at me with eyes full of sympathy.
My eyes glazed over in emotion.
“Juuuuuust kidding! Heheheh, how could I possibly keep something so juicy to myse –ack!”
There he goes immediately showing his true colours!
“I’m gonna kill you!”
“Do your worst! I’ll tell everyone before I die, hahahaha!”
Kuroha sighed and tore open the bag of potato chips I had given her as tribute. Chip in one hand, Kuroha began fiddling with her phone in the other, showing no signs of moving to stop us.
“If you do that I’ll tell every new girlfriend you get about your relationship history!”
“Whaaaaaaat?! Sueharu, you coward!”
“Hmpf, you talk to a man who has mastered the art of kneeling! I’ve wiped away whatever conscience I once had and thrown it into the toilet!”
“Huh? I’ve been told very seriously to kill myself by more than a hundred girls, you think you stand a chance against me?”
“Easily. I can strip in three seconds. How about that? Can you?”
“Pfft, I’d lick a woman’s heels in a second if it meant I could reel her in without having to speak. I win, right?”
“Really, the two of you are such idiots…”
Kuroha sighed again and fluidly held out the bag of potato chips between the both of us.
“Want some, guys?”
Enticed by hunger, the three of us wordlessly munched on the potato chips.
“Oh, Shida-chan, your badminton uniform looks really cute.”
“Are you skipping training?”
“I took her away just as it was about to start.”
“Ooh, you were so pushy, Haru.”
“That’s because I couldn’t wait to talk to you any longer.”
“Sigh, didn’t you tell me earlier to come over to your place after club? You better apologise to the captain later, Haru.”
“I will, I will. I’ll get down on my knees and say I’m sorry.”
“You’re a real turn-off, Sueharu. Miss me with that special ability of yours. More importantly, you should just join our Appreciation Society already, Shida-chan. The two of us really aren’t enough to do anything at the cultural festival.”
“I think I’ll hold off for the moment. It’s not like I’m super enthusiastic about club or anything, but do I have other plans right now.”
I had just seized an opening created by Kuroha talking and grabbed a handful of potato chips, savouring their flavour as I dumped them into my mouth all at once, but–
“… Wait, what? Are we talking about something else now?” I whispered after snapping back to reality.
“You just realised, huh?”
“Haru… That’s a bit…”
“Don’t look at me like I’m some poor kid!”
“You look kind of pitiful, Sueharu. Anyway, I’m done for the day. Use the room however you like.” Tetsuhiko said, tossing me the key. He meant for me to tidy up and return it.
“You sure about this?”
“I mean, it’s not like you’re in a state to listen to me right now. We don’t have much time till the cultural festival but whatever.”
Strange, Tetsuhiko was being extraordinarily compassionate… What could have brought on the sudden change in the wind?
Being shown kindness made me feel regretful. Accordingly I gave Tetsuhiko a genuine apology.
“Sorry, Tetsuhiko. When I’ve calmed down I’ll be sure to help you out.”
“Don’t worry about it, man.”
Tetsuhiko slung his bag over his shoulder and left the meeting room with an unusual glow surrounding him.
“Did he eat something strange? Or could that have been somebody else who looked like him?”
“I think most people would accept someone else’s concern after getting rejected… You’re pretty horrible too, Haru.”
Well at any rate we had now secured a room where the two of us could talk alone without reservation. I turned the conversation back to the topic of revenge.
“As I was saying, Kuro, what do you think of my plan? If I reveal Abe’s sore spot, people will think poorly of Shirokusa as well. It’s killing two birds with one stone, right?”
Kuroha looked cute as she thought with one finger pressed against her chin.
“Well, to be honest… it’s not a bad idea.”
“What we’re looking for is the ‘ultimate revenge’, Haru. I do think the best solution is the one you find the easiest, so of course I’ll take your opinions into consideration, but we could go in another direction too. Finding something that will hurt the people that we hate the most. That is probably the simplest approach.”
“It’s a good thing you didn’t choose to pick an awkward fight with Abe-senpai. Selecting this approach may be cowardly, but it’s also more effective. From what I’ve heard anyway, Senpai is more or less a flawless superhuman, so you’d be at too much of a disadvantage if you attacked head on.”
“I knew you’d understand, Kuro.”
Kuroha cleverly read the intentions behind my plan. “As expected of a childhood friend,” I should have said.
But at this juncture Kuroha’s expression hardened.
“But it’s also a little naive, I think. I can see at least two potential problems with your plan.”
“W- What?! What problems?!”
“The first problem is that your revenge plan has an incredible amount of risk. In the process of searching for Abe-senpai’s weakness, for instance… you could get caught stalking him and be beaten to a pulp. Even if you ultimately succeeded and found what you were looking for, one wrong step and people could get wind of your underhanded methods, leaving you the one worse off in the end. Because everyone already has such a good impression of Abe-senpai, you have to be prepared for blowback, Haru.”
It was true. To defame another person was honestly pretty despicable. If caught, one’s reputation would surely end up in the gutter, with no easy way back out.
I had already prepared myself for this.
“I’ve already taken that into consideration. If I don’t take on some risk, I’ll never be able to catch a cheater like Abe off guard. I don’t mind it at all.”
“… Alright then. But there’s still one more issue.”
“The way it is right now, Haru, even if your plan goes well, you can’t win. You’ll only lose.”
… Yeah, I kind of knew that too.
Success, but with an empty feeling was characteristic of the way most revenge schemes ended.
Revenge served more as a mechanism for someone who was losing to preserve a draw where both players were knocked out. That surely could not be considered as winning.
“We can’t exactly call that the ultimate revenge, can we?”
“… You’re right. But what should I do then?”
“Oh, that’s easy.”
Kuroha wrapped my hands in hers.
“You should find your own happiness, Haru. If you get there, it means you’ve won in the end, right?”
“I see… You’re right, Kuro. But happiness, huh…”
I couldn’t think of another word further from how I was feeling right now.
As the fires of revenge burned within me and I lay caked in the mud of cowardice, happiness felt like it could only be found on another planet.
But for a short-lived flash an image came to my mind.
“You just thought of something happy, didn’t you? What was it?” Kuroha prompted, reading my heart like a book. Unfortunately I could not answer her immediately.
Despite being rejected, Kuroha still held feelings for me.
I briefly wondered if it was really something I should tell her, but then I remembered that I had already shown the full extent of my worthlessness to Kuroha that evening by the river bank. I thus felt again like I had no reason to hide anything from Kuroha, and told her what I had seen.
“I imagined Kachi confessing to me.”
While I had decided on getting revenge, my feelings for Shirokusa still remained as expected. Though upsetting and pathetic, that was how I truly felt.
“Of course I’m still angry and want to get my revenge! But… I’m such an idiot, aren’t I…”
“Yup, a real idiot.”
Kuroha’s unfettered words pierced through my heart.
“Ack… I know! I know, man!”
“But it’s not like I don’t understand.”
Kuroha pressed her forehead tightly against my arm.
I felt myself fill with regret.
I was inflicting the pain Shirokusa had given me onto Kuroha, yet she had not said a word of reproach.
“What if the two of us pretended to be lovers then?”
I could not see the true motive behind Kuroha’s unexpected proposal.
More importantly, wouldn’t this hurt Kuroha even more? But having suggested it herself, what did Kuroha really intend?
Perhaps reading that I couldn’t tell from her expression, Kuroha kindly explained herself to me in the way one might teach a child.
“I think that, if you lose in love, the best way to get back is to just win in love.”
“W- Well that might be true…”
“The most important thing when it comes to these kinds of things is to attract your target’s attention. Kachi-san hates guys but showed you her soft side. That means that we can assume that she likes you to a certain extent, possibly even enough to consider you a fall back.”
“I- I see…”
“So when she gets her first choice, she then thinks about cutting ties with you, but just as she’s about to, she sees you with someone else… What would she do then, especially if your new lover was somebody as cute as I am?”
“You know, you really can be too overconfident sometimes.”
“Is that a no?”
Kuroha floundered meekly, and looked up towards me with teary eyes.
Shit, why did you have to go and make yourself look so damn cute, you idiot? Acting like that in front of a high school boy is unfair!
“… Fine, I’ll admit that you’re cute.”
“Yay, I win.”
A victorious peace sign. I didn’t know what she had won, but Kuroha seemed extremely delighted.
Putting that aside however, I expected nothing less from Kuroha’s plan. If Shirokusa saw a guy she was supposedly keeping away as a replacement suddenly become lovers with another girl on Kuroha’s level, would she not think: “Wait, I was going to use him as my plan B, but was I the one who was being kept as a backup option instead…?”
This was amazing! This would surely be an effective blow! It was exactly the kind of humiliating blow I had been searching for!
“But are you sure about this? You sure it won’t be too hard on you? If word got around that you and I were dating, wouldn’t you be at a disadvantage?”
I was an idiot. Sure, people would be jealous if I dated Kuroha, but if Kuroha dated someone on my level she would be asked things like “Did he threaten you into it?” or “Are you taking pity on him because he’s your childhood friend?”
… Yeah, I began to feel pathetic just thinking about it.
In other words, if we pretended to date each other, I had everything to gain while Kuroha had nothing. Would that really be alright?
“Ooh, you’re such an idiot, Haru.”
“That’s true, but I’d still like to hear you try to convince me first.”
“It may be a lie, but I still get to ‘date the person I like’, you know? To me that can only be a good thing.”
What was this intense pressure?!
I was assaulted by guilt strong enough to make my forehead want to nuzzle the ground and me want to apologise, all while my heart felt like it was being physically squeezed.
But it was altogether not an unpleasant feeling. I felt incredibly happy being told by Kuroha that I was the person she liked. Her candid expression of affection made me feel like flying. I was confused by the jumble of emotions I was feeling.
… Wait, what? Something wasn’t right. Was Kuroha always this cute?
With her head tilted to one side, Kuroha looked three times cuter than she always had been. My heart couldn’t stop pounding.
Okay stop, this was a dangerous development. I was too easily manipulated. I was too immoral.
“Did you say something, Haru?”
“N- no, j- just give me a moment. I’m a bit agitated right now and I can’t gather the right words.”
I turned my back to Kuroha and crouched. I covered both my ears with my hands to block out the sound.
Okay just calm down, calm down. You’re safe here. That’s right, just forget about all the noise and calm down, like you’re in front of a camera–
Meanwhile Kuroha had gotten herself within touching distance of me and entwined her fingers around one of my hands. Pulling that hand away from my ear, she whispered into it from near enough for me to feel her breath.
“You know, you should just tell your big sister everything you’re really feeling right now, Haru.”
My back shuddered. I felt pins and needles shoot all the way to my fingertips.
I leapt with all my might.
“Kuro! I’m telling you, this is dangerous, very dangerous!”
I couldn’t handle the peculiar allure of Kuroha’s provocativeness while she was in her sadistic older sister mode.
“… You already know, damn it.”
“Ahaha, you’re so cute, Haru.”
With a crack, I lost all sense of logic.
Driven into a corner by psychological pressure and guilt, a whisper and breath like melted butter had caused most of my mental faculties to shut down. The further experience of being completely toyed with by being told I was cute with upturned eyes caused anything that still worked to spontaneously combust.
Anger and impetuousness welled up within me. But being a man, I chose not to resort to violence, instead fighting back by brazenly telling Kuroha how I truly felt.
“You’re the one who’s cute, idiot! That’s why I’m gonna be so embarrassed even if we’re just pretending to date! Sure, I’d be super ecstatic, but that’s so cringey, don’t you think?!”
“Oh… I’m sorry, kind of.”
Man, girls really are quite unfair, huh? They look so cute when they’re ashamed, and then you can’t get angry with them anymore.
“Oh, no, I’m the one who should apologise…”
“N- no, it’s just that I’ve never actually heard you tell me that I was cute before, Haru, so… I’m just kind of embarrassed…”
Gah, this is exactly what I’m talking about! She’s just too damn cute!
Of course I stopped short of actually saying that, putting all my effort in continuing my counterattack.
“I know you were trying to provoke me, Kuro, but please, I can’t help it, so give my heart a break! You’re making me waver!”
“H- Haru, you’re being too straightforward…”
“So what if I am?! Did you not tell me to tell you all about how I really feel? Or do you not like what you’re hearing?”
“Well, I, of course I’m happy to hear the person I like say that to me…”
This is way too dangerous! Revealing our true feelings to each other too quickly like this is super super risky!
What is this atmosphere?! Everything looks pink! If you’re gonna tell me that you like me so casually while actually meaning it my sense of reason will just melt away!
I glanced sideways at Kuroha to see how she was doing, just in time to catch her doing the same looking upwards at me.
It was only for a moment, but our eyes definitely met.
Our timings were too much in sync. … It was embarrassing.
Like magnets repelling each other, we mutually turned our sights in the direction of the day after.
“S- So, I’m assuming that the plan to humiliate Kachi-san by spreading the news that we’re dating, though actually a lie, is approved…?”
“Y- yeah. Let’s go along with it…”
“T- Then to seal the deal… Should we kiss?”
“Oi, Kuro! Come back! Come back to reality!”
“But, I mean, isn’t this something that just happens along with the flow? Surely now is the time to kiss, right?”
“Oh my god oh my god… I think I’m gonna go crazy too…”
“Ooh, still trying to resist, are you, Haru…? When I’m already like… this? That’s… not fair…”
Kuroha’s lips glistened lusciously. Her ample lips, tinged with a hint of red, drew the rapt attention of my eyes.
I backed away, only to have my legs trip over a chair, causing me to land on my bottom.
“Hehe, clumsy Haru.”
In a normal situation, Kuroha would have probably said that in an exasperated tone while offering her hand out to me without delay.
But now Kuroha’s voice had a seductiveness to it. Instead of lending a hand, she knelt beside me and moved her face closer to mine.
“E- E- Err, Kuro… Don’t you think you’re being just a little too close…?”
“You think so…? Maybe I am…”
I pulled backwards and away from her with my butt still plastered to the ground. In response Kuroha pursued me while still in a kneeling posture.
I dug in my heels to get away some more, only to come up against the wall with nowhere else to run to.
There Kuroha came to a stop.
“Uh, Kuroha-san…? You’re staring at me…”
Oh my god. She’s completely lost it.
“I mean, if you’re asking me…”
“Just leave everything to big sister, Haru… You have absolutely nothing to be afraid of…”
“Well I’m scared because I can’t move away anymore…”
“Still thinking about other things, hmm…? I won’t let you…”
Our consciences melted away and mixed in the poisonous pink-coloured atmosphere.
Kuroha’s lips came closer.
This might not be so bad, I thought to myself. If I kissed her, I was sure a pleasant world where I could forget my pain awaited.
“–Thank you. Hearing you say that makes me really happy. I’m really glad… that I tried as hard as I did up till now.”
The violent throbbing in my chest brought me crashing back to reality.
“I- I can’t do this!”
I stood up in order to escape.
But the whiteboard was right there!
Even as I my head reeled from the forceful impact, my legs staggered towards the right to gain some distance from Kuroha.
“K- Kuro, I know the atmosphere got a little nice there and I sort of wavered a bit, but we can’t do these sort of things while things aren’t clear between us!”
“Ooh, so you were wavering, huh…? That’s also…”
The amorous look in her eyes was enough to send my head spinning again. The general mood, which had briefly assumed a semblance of normalcy, immediately became clouded by a pinkish hue.
“Ooh, you really don’t know how to lie, do you, Haru? …I don’t hate that part of you at all.”
“See, this is exactly what I’m talking about! If someone cute like you tells me you like me or whatever, a guy like me won’t be able to handle it!”
“Why won’t you be able to handle it, Haru? What won’t you be able to handle? Why don’t you tell me, hmm…?”
“Anything but that!”
My god, Kuroha was really too far gone.
At this point, the only thing that I could do was to–
“I’m out of here!”
Make a run for it! I grabbed my bag with incredible speed and placed my hand on the exit.
“I’m just gonna get some info on Abe-senpai! When I’m done I’ll be back to lock up, so just go back to club! Thanks for today, and see ya tomorrow!” I said peremptorily, and escaped through the other side of the door.
In the instant while the door closed, I heard Kuroha, who remained inside, mutter.