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It’s first love so it can’t be helped
“Tetsuhiko… I’m going to act at the cultural festival too.” I said as soon as I entered the classroom the next morning, and after blinking several times Tetsuhiko smiled self-satisfactorily.
“Honestly, I’ve been waiting for you to say that.”
This – was my conclusion!
I would make my comeback as an actor, grab everyone’s attention, and become even more popular than Abe!
How about that?! Abe was going to the lengths of dating Shirokusa to humiliate me! If he lost to me as an actor, would he not feel humiliated as well?! And moreover, I was going to pretend that Shirokusa didn’t mean anything to me in the slightest!
And then what?! Having been put by me in his proper place, and knowing that Shirokusa couldn’t be used as a weapon against me any more, Abe would realise there would no longer be any meaning in capturing Shirokusa’s heart at the Confession Festival! Therefore he would try and undermine me using some other cowardly means instead!
But that was exactly what I was hoping for! I would then expose his dastardly methods and destroy everyone’s opinions of him!
Thus Shirokusa would awaken to the truth, and maybe even come clinging back to me, but… hehe, it would already be too late! For I would already be hot stuff! And also because Shirokusa had been turned by Abe into a dancing clown!
The popular me would gallantly reject Shirokusa, and select only the best girl out of a harem of mesmerising women! Oh yes, this would really be the ultimate revenge!
Muahahahaha… I gloated internally while Tetsuhiko placed his elbow on my shoulder.
“What’s going on, Sueharu∼? Why the sudden change, hmm∼?”
“Well… you know…”
“I can just tell you’re having one of your stupid delusions again, but this works out for me so I’ll let it slide.”
“What do you mean, stupid delusions?! My plan is perfect!”
“But you’re an idiot… I’ll tell you what, just because we’re friends I’ll listen to the ending, alright?
“How much more condescending can you possibly get?! …Tsk, well basically, I just wanna beat Abe-senpai. That’s why I’m performing. That’s all.”
Tetsuhiko stiffened for a second, but then grinned like a cat.
“… I see. I think I’ve roughly figured it out. It is true that this is the only way you could possibly defeat Abe-senpai.”
“You figured that out way too quickly.”
“You’re just slow.”
“Don’t you mean dead slow?!”
“Oh no, I did mean that you should kill yourself, so that wasn’t a mistake.”
“That’s horrible! Are you really my friend or what?!”
I sighed, then stuck my palm out at Tetsuhiko.
My gesture didn’t exactly mean for him to give me his hand. I was asking him to “hand it over”.
“What, Sueharu, are you gonna give me something?”
“No, the opposite. The script for the performance that’s we’re doing. I know we’re going from one actor to two, have no sound, lighting, big or small props, but you do have a script we could use, right?”
Tetsuhiko shrugged his shoulders.
“Well, I do, but…”
“If you’re going to beat Abe-senpai, taking one of the drama scripts from the library definitely isn’t going to cut it. I’m sure you’ve realised that much.”
I knew. Trying to gather more attention than Abe, a working professional actor, in the span of a single stage performance would be something close to impossible – it was, if I were being completely honest.
Of course I would try my best, but my skill as an actor alone would not be sufficient. I first needed to create a theme. A performance with a theme that had to be above all interesting, and would satisfy anyone who came to watch it. The scripts in the library were thus off the table.
It wasn’t that classical dramas were bad. They were a staple, and perhaps could even have been said to have been polished over the benefit of time.
But they were hard to please a crowd with. That was a fatal flaw. There was no flashiness or topicality. They may have been suited to a public performance by the Theatre Club, but two male enthusiasts doing one in a normal setting wouldn’t attract any interest. There were also the additional hurdles of a lack of lighting and sound.
“At this stage, I feel like doing a skit may very well bring us closer to achieving my goal.”
A skit would be entertaining so long as its subject matter was interesting, and most importantly it would be easily relatable. In this case, attracting more attention than Abe-senpai wouldn’t be a pipe dream.
“Ooh, I see, you’re right. But, Sueharu, are you really capable of doing a skit? Which one of us is writing the script? And in the first place, do you even want to do a skit?”
“I’ve never fancied myself as a comedian either.”
Tetsuhiko had prepared for the cultural festival with the theme of “showing off” in mind. Thus even a plain humourless classical drama had the merits of, or perhaps would further accentuate Tetsuhiko’s lesser-seen, traditionally masculine side. A skit was moving away from the direction that he had intended.
“The script, huh? We should make it something that fits the situation we’re currently in, right?”
An amazing script that would also be topical, super hilarious, and beat Abe into silent submission.
“Hmm, now to find somebody that could write it–”
At that moment Shirokusa entered the classroom. My eyes unconsciously followed her, and Testuhiko’s did too after he saw her.
“There is one person I can think of.”
“Uh huh, there is.”
The beautiful Akutami award-winning high school girl author, Kachi Shirokusa – there were probably few nationally who could write a story better than she could, let alone in this school.
With her, topicality wouldn’t be an issue either. We had completely missed the presence of somebody so qualified for the task in our neighbourhood.
“Oi, Sueharu. Go and ask her, will ya?”
Tetsuhiko poked me lightly with his elbow.
“Why me? Go do it yourself.”
To the heartbroken body, calling out to the person who had caused the injury in the first place was like dumping salt into the wound. No matter how much you deluded yourself with revenge, it still hurt.
Tetsuhiko sighed as exaggeratedly as possible to make fun of me.
“You still don’t get just how much I’m hated, huh? Well, I’ll demonstrate in a way even an idiot like you could understand, so have a gander.”
While upset at being called an idiot, I looked on without having a say in the matter.
Tetsuhiko called out to Uga Reina, a girl from the tennis club who happened to be standing in front of the blackboard.
“Rei– na– chan, won’t you talk to me for a second?”
“You horrible man! Go kill yourself!”
Incredible, he got told to die within a second.
Yet Tetsuhiko remained upbeat. This time he turned his aim toward Kuroha.
“Shida-chan, won’t you play with me some time?”
“Ooh, Tetsuhiko-kun, you’re not being honest at all… that’s being rude to the girl, you know?”
A gentle response, as expected of Kuroha. She was probably one of the few girls left in school who still treated Tetsuhiko kindly.
The last person he turned to was Shirokusa.
“Hey, Kachi, can I squeeze your boobs?”
“–I’ll make you go extinct.”
“How about that?” Tetsuhiko asked while turning around.
“‘See?’, my ass! I’m not sure where to even begin, but you must have incredible nerve if you can casually ask a classmate to let you feel her breasts like that! And Kachi’s reply was way too scary! What did she mean ‘extinct’?! Is she going to make humanity extinct?!”
“Nah, she’s probably only talking about ending my family line, right?”
“That’s scary enough! How can you be so calm after hearing that?!”
“Well, I don’t really care about people other than me. Who cares about my family line?”
“You’re really exploring new levels of trashiness, huh?”
“So in conclusion, Sueharu, I can’t do it, so you have to. You two get along well when you’re alone, right? If you weren’t lying, prove it.”
Well, if he was hated this much I probably had no choice but to go.
I didn’t feel like I could look Shirokusa squarely in the face.
A rejected man was a wretched one. No matter how much you hated her, you would absolutely still get nervous and your heart would pound over speaking directly to her. That only brought even more humiliation and frustration.
That’s why frankly I didn’t want to talk to Shirokusa. I didn’t even want to see her in my field of vision.
But one thing piqued my interest. The fact that yesterday Abe had said that “he had heard about me from Shirokusa”.
Shirokusa knew about my time as a child actor. Yet she had never once raised the topic between us. I wanted to speak to her regarding that.
“What have you two been talking about since just now? The girls are all a little on edge because of Tetsuhiko-kun.”
Kuroha, who had been talking with her friends nearby, ended her conversation with them and broke into ours.
I related to her how I had decided to act with Tetsuhiko at the cultural festival, but also how we had no suitable script and the subsequent difficulty I had in asking Shirokusa to help write one.
“I see, so that’s how it is.”
“Tetsuhiko, don’t you think it would be even better if we left it to Kuro ask her instead of me?”
“Well–, if we think about it in terms of bargaining ability, you’d be right–”
“There you have it, Kuro, so could you do us a favour and ask her?”
Processing time: zero seconds. It was an instantaneous decision.
“–No. Absolutely not.”
Kuroha settled on a cold expression of feigned ignorance.
To see her react like this was honestly quite unusual. Kuroha was always smiling and was the type who got along well with everyone. Tetsuhiko, who most of the girls thought of as no more valuable than garbage, was no exception to this rule.
But for her to express her refusal so strongly… speaking of which, she did say that she hated Kachi before, didn’t she? I didn’t take her seriously at the time because I thought it sounded kind of like a joke, but now having arrived at this point…
Kuroha suddenly and forcefully moved her face towards mine.
“Didn’t you get my message on Hotline¹? Asking you to wait because I was going to meet you at your house this morning?”
I checked my phone, seeing that I had indeed received that very message.
“Oof∼, my bad, I didn’t realise.”
“Well, it wasn’t marked as read, so I figured that might’ve been a possibility…”
“I’m really sorry!”
“Seeing as how this was our first morning dating each other, I really wanted us to go to school together, you know?”
In that instant, waves of bewilderment rippled out across our surroundings, freezing time all at once.
The inside of the classroom began to sound like the rustling of leaves as a stir encroached upon it.
“N- Not so loud!”
The fact that Kuroha and I were dating certainly had to be made public sooner or later, or Shirokusa would remain unaffected.
But I felt like I would have preferred it to have been done more prudently, and perhaps in a more limited fashion. Such as for example letting only Shirokusa hear. A method for doing so escaped me, though.
I too was at fault for not discussing the matter earlier with Kuroha, but to strike so suddenly in this way… it could only mean the start of more gruesome bloodshed to come!
“It’s time to plaaaaay!”
Here we go. Jealousy-mad Male Classmate Number One and Two.
Okay, the metal bat and such are scary, so could we please put them down? Where were you all hiding all of these in the first place? This isn’t funny, okay?
Kuroha immediately squeezed herself between myself and our classmates, hugging my arm in her bosom.
Feeling the softness of her chest against my elbow, my mouth unconsciously broke into a grin. A fullness I could feel even through her bra… it was a sensation too absurd to be expressed into words. I felt amazing.
“Whatever you’re going to do to Haru, you’re going to have to do to me too.”
“B- But, Shida-san! We’re not going to do anything you should be worried about…”
“Exactly! We’re only trying to make you come to your senses, Shida-san…”
“Am I not wide awake?”
The jealous bastards who I had found so frightening before were but little more than babies when Kuroha dealt with them.
“O- Oh, I see–, that’s great–!”
“B- But why did you choose someone like Maru…”
“Someone like Maru? Did you just insult Haru by calling him ‘someone like’?”
“N- No, not at all!”
“H- Hey, let’s get out of here!”
Seeing Kuroha’s expression, Classmates One, Two and several more guys who planned to follow them withdrew dejectedly.
“Let me know whenever you encounter these sort of people, Haru. Big sister will protect you.”
Big Sister Kuroha, you’re honestly too dependable.
Man, I really made a great childhood friend. Her trustworthiness was angelic.
But just as I thought that, I felt chills run up my body.
Looking around wondering what had caused them, I met Shirokusa’s gaze.
It had been her usual morning reading time earlier, but for some reason she was now looking straight at me.
Curiously the lone word “demon” came to my mind. It was a look of tremendous intensity, one that made me want to prostrate myself and beg for forgiveness.
Looking closer I could see that the book she had been reading had dropped onto the floor. Yet still she stared at me without moving a single muscle.
A famous novelist she may have been, I but I knew how deeply she cherished books in general. Every book she read came with a protective cover, and she always used a pretty fancy bookmark. But to not even try to pick a book off the floor… could be said to be fairly abnormal behaviour for her indeed.
How was I supposed to interpret this? Could I see it as according to Kuroha’s plan, she had been made to 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…?”, and that she had been affected emotionally as a result?
If so, the plan could have been said to have succeeded. It was a first strike back against the humiliation of being rejected.
I felt like we had succeeded. I felt like it served her right. But my heart felt consumed by the feeling of depression.
The word that best expressed the strongest emotion I felt for Shirokusa at this moment was “Idiot!”
I know he looked cool on the surface, but to be deceived by Abe-senpai, who had been so filled with jealousy for me–
“Idiot! Moron! You let yourself be tricked just because he was good-looking?! Do you have peep-holes for eyes?! Get some sense of judgement! And regret not realising my feelings!”
Or so I would have liked to lecture her for almost an hour.
But I also knew that to resist the charm offensive and sweet talk of an unfair pretty boy of Abe’s calibre would be no easy task if he tried seriously.
For example, if I got along pretty well with a big sister model who lived next door, but she suddenly came and confessed to me – or something similar happened, I personally had no confidence in my ability to refuse.
Thinking about it that way, some part of me felt like it couldn’t have been helped, and I could not easily accept that she deserved what came to her.
As I held those complicated emotions within me, Tetsuhiko tapped me on the shoulder.
“So anyway Sueharu, it’s up to you to ask Kachi to help us with the script then.”
“Man, didn’t you see how she stared at me like I was trash just now?”
“Dumbass, of course I did. How could I not? I saw and I’m still telling you to go. Because if you do, something terrible could happen to you and that would be way too amusing.”
“You’re incredible, you know? Incredible how you can be so exceedingly repulsive.”
“All right, all right. I know myself the best, so just get a move on already.”
I was pushed forcibly in the back and ushered to the vicinity of Kachi’s seat.
Well, if I wanted to make Abe speechless, I needed a script capable of stealing Abe’s popularity. To that end, asking Shirokusa to write it was the most optimal option. At any rate, I now had no choice but to go onto the offensive…
“–What do you want?”
Oh, this was not looking good.
Her mood was still about as bad as when Tetsuhiko talked to her earlier… or perhaps it had gotten worse.
I despised my own foolishness for getting myself into this mess. It was as if I had thrown myself into the midst of a pack of hungry wolves.
I turned away with teary eyes. I gestured at Tetsuhiko to help me, at which he adopted a pacifying pose asking me to relax.
I nodded and breathed deeply. I then awaited Tetsuhiko’s next instruction, only to see his eyes suddenly open as wide as possible and him acting like he was reciting a Buddhist prayer.
…B- Buddhist prayer?
“Don’t you think you’re being rude by calling me then turning your back against me?”
Uh oh. She’s totally pissed now.
And the worst part was that Shirokusa was right. It was all my fault.
“First of all I’d like to say that I’m really sorry for a lot of different things put together!”
I could not afford to hesitate at times like these. My conditioned reflexes rightfully kicked in and I fell to my knees.
I was unaffected by the whispers of “That idiot’s kneeling down again…” I heard around me. Getting Shirokusa’s mood to improve at all was of a greater priority.
Unable to hear anything from her, my eyes glanced upward. I resisted looking at the slender and sensual thighs wrapped in a pair of knee-high socks, as well as something I could see hidden in the depths of her short skirt, because there would be no way back if I did, and instead turned my gaze further above.
Shirokusa was – blushing, for some reason.
Her dark aura had completely dissipated. Had I unintentionally used some sort of orb of light?
“When you said ‘a lot of different things’, did you mean…” Shirokusa let slip in a whisper.
But as I prepared to ask her what she meant by that,
“… Ahem, forget it.”
Shirokusa shut herself back into her shell.
“Anyway, if you have something to say, let me hear it. I don’t have a lot of time to spare.”
… Wait, that was strange. Her thorns had come off. What was it that had been so effective?
“Err, well, the truth is…”
I still had my doubts, but I could not let the chance slip away. Leaving Abe out of the picture, I told Shirokusa about how Tetsuhiko and I were performing together and were searching for an interesting script, and wanted things to be as lively as possible so we would greatly appreciate it if she would agree to collaborate with us.
Shirokusa didn’t move an eyebrow as she listened, maintaining her usual “cool beauty” facade. When I finished, she spoke while staring me right in the eyes.
“It really is quite the bother when suddenly people flatter you and ask you to do all kinds of things for them after you become famous, isn’t it?”
It was as she said.
For me, after I broke out as a child actor, I was talked to by people who I had never met before who would say “Hey, say a line for me,” or ask “How did you find XX-san?”. It was a different matter if they were my friends, but I distinctly remember my anger at being told the above by people patronisingly trying to play me for a fool.
“That’s true… Sorry, for saying something awkward.”
I turned heel and was about to walk away dejectedly, when Shirokusa turned towards my back and spoke.
“But you know, I do want to support people who want to challenge themselves, so I will consider helping you out.”
Did this mean there was a chance she would help us write the script? Seriously?
“You’re going to act, right, Maru-kun?”
At that reminder, I received a jolt.
I did say I was going to act. But as to whether I could do it or not… I still lacked confidence.
“Well, I do kind of have that intention.”
“… Kind of?”
“No! I’ll do it, I’ll do it! I definitely will!”
If a dignified beautiful girl like Shirokusa showed me an expression saying “Hey, why can’t you make it clear, huh?”, how could I not say I was going to do it?!
Shirokusa observed me intently, as if to certify how honest I was actually being.
“… If so, I’ll think about it then. About writing your script.”
“It will all depend on my compensation, though.”
Those were words I would have killed Tetsuhiko for saying, but Shirokusa was a professional writer. She had the qualifications to say so.
“I- I’ll see what I can do, so please–”
I felt like Shirokusa was saying “good grief” as she let the tension slip from her shoulders.
“Let’s exchange Hotline addresses. I do leisurely want to hear what kind of script would be good, among other things.”
“Oh, you sure…?”
“I’m the one who’s asking.”
H- hold on a minute! This is Kachi Shirokusa we’re talking about here!
The beautiful Akutami award-winning high school girl author! With looks good enough to get herself printed in gravure magazines! But she also hates men! She has rejected countless of them!
For that Shirokusa to ask for my Hotline address… What? Was it even possible? Was this reality?
The truth was that the class was now chattering as excitedly as when Kuroha had earlier announced that we were dating – actually, perhaps even more so. Because Shirokusa asking for a boy’s Hotline address was that improbable an occurrence.
I glanced to my rear for a moment and saw that even Tetsuhiko, who had so utterly made a fool out of me earlier, had his eyes the size of saucers.
“What now, Tetsuhiko? You see that? We really do get along, don’t we? Now do you realise?” or so I mused soaked in the sense of my own superiority, when I caught sight of Kuroha observing the scene with an icy gaze.
“Oh, right. I still have to try my hardest to play it cool before the fact that I’m dating Kuroha becomes public.”
Trying my very best to stifle my mouth which threatened to turn into a grin if I lost concentration, I pulled out my handphone.
“Ok, I’ll send you a summary of the proposed setting and plot as soon as I can.”
“All right, I’ll be sure to use them as a reference.”
O- Oh man, I’m seriously really happy right now…
Shirokusa was dating Abe, but just taking a step closer to her as a friend was enough to make my cheeks feel fluffy.
Oof, was this what it meant to be taken captive by love? How pathetic I was.
Just as we finished trading addresses, the morning bell rang.
“Come on, Haru. Time to head back to our seats.”
Kuroha was in a bad mood of an unknown origin. Calling me would have been enough, but she had to pull my ear as well.
“Damn it, I know! Ouch, Kuro! Go easy on the ear!”
“All right, all right. Then pick up the pace.”
In my pain at that time, I didn’t realise.
Realise that for a split second, Kuroha and Shirokusa had glared at each other with the scariest of looks.
¹Fictional spoof of Japanese instant messaging app LINE.