I Want To Make Time Thief-chan’s Heart Pound, A Love Psychological Warfare with my Summer Vacation on the Line - Chapter 2
- I Want To Make Time Thief-chan’s Heart Pound, A Love Psychological Warfare with my Summer Vacation on the Line
- Chapter 2 - Wormy-Apple Breakout
Do you know what the Fruit of Wisdom is? The biblical story of God’s creation of man and His permittance of their existence in the Garden of Eden is as follows:
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil borne the Forbidden Fruit, something the first humans, Adam and Eve, were forbidden to eat. But at the cogent words of the Serpent, they were persuaded into doing so, gaining the knowledge of good and evil.
Then, however, Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden.
And according to some theories, the Forbidden Fruit that they ate were apples.
…I see you’ve already figured it out.
Yes, the vision of the apple that you saw—that was your own Fruit of Wisdom. The fruit that Adam and Eve ate has been passed down to us humans.
By the way, why do you think God forbade them to eat the Fruit of Wisdom? But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die. This implies that if the fruit was not consumed, one could live for all of eternity, don’t you think?
In exchange for the knowledge of good and evil, humankind placed a limit on their own lives. Time is that limit.
The Fruit of Wisdom is filled with Time—the amount of Time that a person can exist in this world. With every ceaseless beat of the heart, it is consumed, little by little.
If one consumes all of their allotted Time, they will vanish. No matter how healthy one’s body is, if the Fruit of Wisdom is gone, they are gone. So far so good?
It was after school on September 3rd. For some reason, I was being lectured by Fujinomiya on the rooftop. Well, I knew what the reason was. Neither would I resign nor would she yield. And so, I decided to play a game with Fujinomiya with my summer vacation on the line.
To be honest, I wasn’t interested in the “vacation” part of summer. There was just the glaring fact that I hadn’t started on any of the summer homework, which was supposed to take forty-two days. Plus, the teacher was bugging me to submit it, and I didn’t know how long I could keep saying, “I forgot to bring it.” Oh, well! I’ll just have to get my summer back from Fujinomiya! Alright, I’ve got this!
“So, Fujinomiya, what game are we gonna play?”
“Don’t be in such a hurry. We’re still going over the basics. Well, it’s good that you are motivated, Kashima-kun. You always look like you’re trying to imitate a sloth.”
Imitating a sloth… Hey!
I was about to make a comment on that, but I managed to stop myself. Maybe that was how other people perceived me. But as of now, I was more concerned about the way Fujinomiya stared at me.
Fujinomiya pulled something out of her skirt pocket.
An hourglass. Or so I thought. It wasn’t actually an hourglass, as there was no sand in the gourd-shaped parts.
“I’ll give you this temporarily.”
“A portable fourth-dimensional matter maintenance device. Also known as Adams (Artificial Apple).”
Another term that made no sense. Just great.
As my face contorted strangely, Fujinomiya twirled the small hourglass in the palm of her hand.
“Take a flat side of Adams, place it on yourself. Take the other flat side and place it on someone else. Then, the Fruit of Wisdom will open and transfer Time. Didn’t you see the Time spilling out of the Fruit of Wisdom before?”
That jostled my memory.
My “hallucination” of an apple was the Fruit of Wisdom.
Those sparkly particles emitting from the sliced apple were Time.
“Against someone else? Can it be anywhere on the body?”
“Yeah, you don’t even need to place it on bare skin, though it is more efficient that way as it can directly react to the pulse. But certainly, it can be placed over clothes. In fact, when I stole your summer vacation from you, Kashima-kun, I did it through your shirt.”
With a mocking look, Fujinomiya laughed.
Well, aren’t you going a bit far, miss?
“However, there is one thing to keep in mind. When Adams transfers Time, there’s no fixed orientation that specifies who will be giving or who will be taking. The person with the slower heart rate takes the Time. It’s sort of similar to osmosis.”
“Osmosis… I remember hearing about that somewhere.”
“Likely from biology class. The faster the pulse, the more Time flows out from the Fruit of Wisdom. Adams sucks out the Time from the one with more Time flowing out and gives it to the one with less.”
“Hm? If the taker isn’t fixed, are there cases where you try to take but get taken from?”
“Good observation. That’ll happen if you use it when your pulse is higher than the other person’s. That’s why you should only use it when you’re certain that their pulse is faster than yours. That’s the golden rule.”
I thought back to the first Time I had my Time stolen.
“No way… you confessed to me so you could do this!”
“It was just to get your heart rate up. That’s all.”
I wanted to shrivel up and crumble into bits. Of course, there was no way that Fujinomiya actually liked me… I knew it…
Fujinomiya held an innocent expression on her face and continued:
“The amount of Time that is taken depends on the difference between the two pulses. The greater the difference, the more Time is taken. But still, a whole summer vacation—”
Fujinomiya’s words abruptly stopped, turning her head to look directly at me instead. I could see the mockery within her expression.
“How excited were you when you heard my confession?”
“Geh! How much Time does it usually take?”
“Two to three days at most. I’d never thought that I’d take more than a month from you. Quite unexpected.”
In short, Fujinomiya completely exposed how heart-pounding her confession was for me.
Again, at her giggle, I wanted to crumble into bits. Bury me already.
“…What about when I was stuck on the rooftop at 1:00 A.M. yesterday?”
“It’s your fault. If you had completely given in to my temptations, I would’ve probably stolen 24 hours.”
“It would’ve been better if you stole nothing at all.”
“Unless we accurately monitor our heart rates, there would be no way to know how much Time will be taken until it happens. And if one’s pulse changes during the usage of Adams, the amount of Time they will take changes.”
Fujinomiya thrusted Adams into my hand.
“So, what’s the game about?”
“Go on a date with me.”
I stared at Fujinomiya.
Her face seemed to be serious, so she clearly wasn’t just joking around. At my incessant gaze, she turned her head away.
“Don’t make me repeat myself. You’re going on a date with me and you’re going to try and take Time from me. If I had to name it, I’d call it a Time Theft Game. If you can steal any Time from me, you win.”
“Well, why the hell do I need to go on a date with you to do this?”
Sigh, Fujinomiya exhaled in exasperation.
“I’ve already explained how to steal Time. You use Adams when the other person’s heart rate is higher than yours. In essence, this is a game to see who can raise the other’s heart rate the most.”
“So that’s why you’re making us go on a date. All you have to do is to make my heart race. Pretty convenient for you, huh?”
I fidgeted with Adams in my hand. Since it was made of glass, I thought it’d be quite heavy. However, it was much lighter than I expected.
“…Wait. If I use this while on a date, won’t one of us just disappear?”
“Yes. Is there anything wrong with that?”
It seemed that she would hold no regard for her partner’s disappearance, even while in the middle of a date. Point taken, it was a total game.
“If, by the end of the date, you’ve taken even a little smidge of Time from me, you’ve won. I’ll give your summer vacation back to you.”
“What happens if I’m unable to?”
In the background, the sunset sky shone a shining scarlet.
Fujinomiya gave a wry smile.
“Of course, your summer vacation is mine. Isn’t it simple?”
September 4th was a Saturday.
As there was no school on that day, Fujinomiya and I decided to play the game.
We met at 10 A.M. in front of the ticket gate of the most urban train station in the prefecture.
I shoved my phone, wallet, and a pair of worn-out sneakers. My phone soon buzzed.
Incoming Call: Makoto
Ah shit, sorry. I don’t have the Time to apologize or explain right now. I’ll talk to you once I get my summer vacation back. Please forgive me!
I mentally clasped my hands together in a praying pose and hurried to the nearest station.
As I swayed on the train, I thought back to Fujinomiya’s words.
Isn’t it simple?
However, there was a huge risk involved in playing this game.
There was a chance that she would steal more of my Time.
The one who will give and the one who will take wasn’t determined by Adams beforehand. This meant that if I used it carelessly, I would essentially be spoon-feeding Fujinomiya Time.
I had already been robbed of forty-three days and thirty-seven hours. What would I do if I were robbed of even more Time? I thought back to Fujinomiya’s wretched grin, and I vowed to win the game.
My strategy for the Time Theft Game was as follows:
Maintain an iron will and a calm mind!
That was the only way.
Almost certainly, Fujinomiya’s strategy would be to flaunt her charms at me, attempting to act frighteningly close to a girlfriend. My Time had already been stolen three times from me, and in each and every one of those incidents, she had used the same trick. She wore the facade of a sweet idol and manipulated my innocence to her advantage. She was… unforgivable!
However, I wouldn’t be fooled again. I knew her strategy this Time. I would have to shrug off the cutesy-idol version of Fujinomiya and her allurement, while constantly reminding myself that her appearance was just an act.
The problem: how would I make Fujinomiya’s heart pound? But I knew that if I stayed with her for half a day, I would surely have an opportunity to do so.
There were many possible ways the heart rate could rise. For example, it could leap up when one exercised, or perhaps when one was scared or laughing hard. I didn’t have to make her heart pound by romantic means.
During the date, all I had to do was to stay calm and unfazed by her actions, sort of like a monk in training. I could use Adams when she laughed or something along those lines. Isn’t this plan just perfect?
Bzzt, buzzed my phone in my pocket.
Fujinomiya had LINE’d me.
[The game begins once we meet at the station. You are allowed to use Adams whenever and however you see fit.]
I sneered with confidence, having already made the perfect plan.
[Yeah, got it.]
Soon after I replied, I arrived at the designated train station.
~Time Theft Game: Start~
I passed through the ticket gate and stood by the counters. Fujinomiya hadn’t arrived yet, it seemed.
In order to maintain the composure I required for my plan, I mindlessly collected my daily login bonuses from a mobile game.
Then, unexpectedly, someone grabbed me by the arm.
“Good morning. Did I keep you waiting?”
I turned my head and froze.
A beautiful girl with her hair tied up in a ponytail had taken my arm.
Who was this fashionable, cheerful, adorable girl? It was Fujinomiya. I had only seen her in school uniform before, so her casual clothes made her seem like a different person to me. Her ponytail was tied at a high point by her trademark ribbon.
The soft smile of the charming black-haired girl, paired with her cerulean eyes, instantly broke through my defenses and made my heart skip a beat—
—Don’t be fooled!!
An alarm in my head sounded.
No, no, my heart shouldn’t be racing. Am I an idiot?
My iron will was in disbelief. Already, the plan was about to fall apart. I swerved my head away to forcibly shove Fujinomiya out of my sight.
“N-No, not really. Good morning.”
“Phew, I’m glad to hear that. It took me a while to get ready.”
“It’s my first time seeing you in casual clothes, Hayate-kun! It’s a fresh look on you.”
My first name!?
It was the first time a girl from my class had called me by my first name. The fact that she knew my first name was a little touching… wait a minute. Fuck. Fujinomiya completely had me. I felt my heartbeat hastening.
“H-Hey, are there timeouts in this game…?”
I looked sideways at Fujinomiya’s face. At any rate, I needed to regain my composure.
However, Idol Fujinomiya met my question head-on, an invincible smile plastered all over her face.
“No timeouts are allowed. I’m nervous about my first date with Hayate-kun, too, you know?”
I see… so Fujinomiya is also nervous. That makes me a bit happy, but it’s also quite embarrassing—
—Don’t be fooled!!
I swerved my head away again. I stressed my relaxed facial muscles and glared at the inorganic pillars of the train station.
Hey! Get a grip, me. You’re playing for your summer vacation now. Don’t be fooled by Idol Fujinomiya’s facade.
I shoved my hands into the pockets of my jeans, feeling around for Adams. Remembering the details of the game, my heart rate calmed down. Alright, I just gotta keep this up—
“Oh, yeah, Hayate-kun, what do you think of my outfit today? I’d like to know.”
Fujinomiya re-entered my view.
She took an elegant spin on the spot. Her raspberry-colored skirt spread ever so delicately. Her laced, custard cream-colored cardigan and slightly high-heeled shoes accentuated her style. Her outfit was right up my alley. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
“Ehehe, I picked out these clothes while thinking of you, Hayate-kun!”
Fujinomiya flipped her hair over her ears with a flirtatious look, causing her fluffy ribbon to sway from side to side. After getting a closer look, I could tell that her makeup was different from what she had on at school.
“I hope that at least for today, I’m the kind of girl you like, Hayate-kun.”
Kyun. I heard such a sound coming from my chest.
My heart was racing, almost painfully so. Its pounding was at its climax.
By the ticket counter at this station, our gazes locked.
The ambience of the bustling station was gone.
Eh? This person… she likes me, doesn’t she? I mean, she put so much effort into dressing up for this date! Surely, she likes me… right!?
Gulp. I swallowed the saliva stuck in my throat.
Fujinomiya quickly turned her face down. Her fingertips twiddled around the edge of the ribbon.
She sighed. “You’re too easy. I was expecting at least a little opposition, but it seems that you’re spineless. There’s no competition at all.”
A voice as cold as absolute zero rang out. She untied her ribbon.
In an instant, an inky, jet-black aura surrounded her. Idol Fujinomiya had disappeared, and Black Fujinomiya had descended.
She finally lifted her chin, disdain reigning her eyes.
“Do you really think you can get your summer vacation back with this kind of nonsense? If you don’t take this seriously, I’ll be going now, okay?”
I’ve been fooooooled!!
I screamed internally and squatted down. I wanted to become a rock.
I had simply fallen into the Time Thief’s trick. This was a game, and Fujinomiya’s appearance was just an act—I was aware of these facts, yet…!
I was utterly in shock. As I was squatting, however, something warm ran through my hair. Something, or rather, someone was gently stroking my head.
“Geez, I’m just joking about leaving. Hayate-kun, please don’t cry.”
“…I’m not crying.”
That was a lie. Tears had already begun welling up in my eyes.
When I looked up, I saw Idol Fujinomiya staring at me. Her huge, innocent eyes, and her adorable, captivating smile—they were all present. The ribbon was even tied back securely. I couldn’t believe that this was all an act…
“Hayate-kun, let’s go watch a movie.”
She asked that just as I was recovering.
“I have a movie that I really want to watch. I want Hayate-kun to come with me.
Since I only had a plan for the game, and not for the date itself, I was grateful for her suggestion.
She held out her hand to me.
“Since it’s a date, can we hold hands…?”
As she glanced toward me, her eyes blinked adorably, causing her pretty eyelashes to flutter.
…I see. On a date, you are supposed to hold hands. Wait, is this possibly the first ever time that I’ll be holding hands with a girl…?
While trying to recall, I took Fujinomiya’s hand. It was small and delicate and smooth… Such a sensation caused my heart to pound faster.
Fujinomiya gave a little chuckle.
“Hayate-kun, you can use Adams whenever you want~♡”
With that one phrase, I realized that I had been fooled again!
I tried to pull my hand apart from hers, but Fujinomiya squeezed my hand, clearly not intending to let me go.
“Geh, Fujinomiya, let go…!”
“No, Hayate-kun’s hand feels so manly… ah, it’s making my heart race!”
“Do you really mean that!? Hey, are you serious?”
“It’s true, you know? I wouldn’t lie to you.”
“Like hell I’m gonna believe thaaaat—!”
While laughing heartily, Idol Fujinomiya dragged me along by the hand.
In the eyes of others, we probably looked like your typical high school couple, experiencing the peak of youth.
Something suddenly occurred to me. I was experiencing a simulated youth—
And as if to reinforce this fact, on our walk to the movie theater, my heart would not calm down even for a single second.
Result: My complete loss
Surprisingly enough, the movie that Fujinomiya wanted to watch was an anime.
Once we arrived at the theater, we sat down in the couple seats that Fujinomiya had chosen for us.
The seats looked like a small couch. Next to the armrests, there were partitions to sheathe the couple’s actions from others.
The screen was the only light source in the theater. Beside me, Idol Fujinomiya hugged my arm just as a lover would, and I could feel the two soft mounds pressing against me.
On the big screen, the heroine was doing the same thing to the hero, who was deeply in love with her. He had a look of complete delirium.
—Calmness of mind, peace of mind, presence of mind…
While glaring at the screen, I repeated those words in my head.
When Fujinomiya chose this movie, I pumped my fist internally. I had already seen this movie right after it was released since I had already read all the novels in the series.
Because I knew what the movie’s highlights were, I was sure that the climax would be enough for Fujinomiya to get excited, as long as she was already immersed in the movie. I certainly was.
Fujinomiya’s heart rate could be raised by this. So, the problem lay within me.
However, since a while ago, Fujinomiya had been snuggling close to me. Her head rested on my shoulder, and the scent of her shampoo was just… Goddammit!
—Don’t be fooled.
Since I could use Adams whenever I wanted to, she would have to keep my heart rate higher than hers at all times.
Fujinomiya’s idol version was just an act. Assertive skinship was the Time Thief’s ruse!
…Even though I had been telling myself all this, it was disappointing that every time Fujinomiya moved around, I found myself thinking, “Ah, her thighs are hitting me…” Probably just as Fujinomiya had planned, my heart rate remained high.
However, I knew that I had to regain my composure by the time the movie reached its climax.
“…Hey, Fujinomiya,” I whispered, prompting her to glance toward me.
“Don’t you think we’re a bit too close?”
“We’re in couple seats, so this much is normal.”
When she replied with a nasal voice, I almost went, “I see, so it’s normal…” and backed down. But that wasn’t the case!
“I’m not talking about whether it’s normal or not, I’m talking about the objective evaluation of this proximity—”
“Hayate-kun. We’re in the middle of a good movie.”
Hmph, her adorable, pouty face seemed to say.
Well, that wasn’t a bad thing either. After all, it was up to the movie to raise Fujinomiya’s heart rate. If she wasn’t into it, my plan would fail.
Well then—I slid my hand under Fujinomiya’s armpit.
Her body twitched. Oh, a good reaction.
With my hand in her armpit, I began tickling Fujinomiya.
“…H-Hee, s-stahp, nghh, nggggh~~~”
Fujinomiya tried her best to hold back the laughter, seemingly on the verge of bursting out. Her pursed lips were quivering and her cheeks were puffed up.
This might be her weakness. Should I use Adams now? No, wait. My heart rate might still be higher than hers since tickling her required me to touch her.
On the couch-like seat, Fujinomiya twisted in an attempt to escape my hands.
After she caught her breath, she cutely scowled at me with tears in her eyes.
“Hayate-kun, what was that all of a sudden!?”
I wagged my hands and smirked.
“If you want to see the movie properly, you’ll have to stop clinging onto me.”
—Fujinomiya had successfully been peeled off of me!
I gave a shout of joy internally. Muahaha! Now there’s nothing to disturb my calm mind! Victory is close!
In contrast with my excitement, Fujinomiya had an annoyed look on her face. Even her ribbon seemed to be downtrodden.
“You’re so mean. I just wanted to make out with you, Hayate-kun.”
“I thought we were like lovers, but… sigh, Hayate-kun, you were teasing me…”
With a look of disappointment on her face, Fujinomiya turned her eyes back to the screen. She didn’t cling to me anymore.
…You know, I would totally be down if it weren’t for the fact that this was a game. I’m a guy! I want to make out with a girl while watching a movie too!
It hurt, but I retained my calm mind for now.
Now, all I had to do was to wait for the climax of the movie. Come on, protagonist!
I was standing by with Adams in my grasp. Even though I was farther from Fujinomiya than I was before, she was still beside me. If I reached out a little bit, I could use Adams.
In preparation for the right moment, I glanced sideways at Fujinomiya—
“Oh, by the way, Hayate-kun, I chose this movie because you’re reading it, and it seemed pretty interesting.”
I broke out into a cold sweat. Just wait a minute. What did she mean? How did Fujinomiya find out about the romance novel that I had been reading? This one didn’t have that many explicit scenes, but some of the illustrations did expose a lot of skin.
The fervent pounding of my heart intensified. Since when did Fujinomiya find out? More importantly, how did she find out? It had become radically difficult to play this game with these thoughts running around in my mind.
Fujinomiya turned to face me.
She gave an all-knowing grin.
“You like dark-haired heroines with big boobs, don’t you?”
My eyes unconsciously drifted toward her twin mounds. I thought my face would spontaneously combust from the embarrassment.
Eventually, the movie reached its climax. Fujinomiya tightly squeezed my hand in anticipation.
I stared at the big screen with blank eyes, unable to recover from the damage caused by the revelation of my fetish.
Someone please kill me…
Result: My loss (Death by shame)
Once we exited the theater, it was approximately time for lunch.
The sun was still shining brightly in the middle of the blue sky, and in contrast with the cool, air-conditioned movie theater, the direct sunlight stung my eyes and caused me to sweat. The Saturday crowd also added to the heat.
“Where do you want to go after this? Should we go grab lunch?” I asked, picking at the neck of my shirt.
Idol Fujinomiya lifted her handbag.
“Ta-da! Actually, I brought lunch!”
That was quite surprising, though I did notice that her bag was a little too big to bring on a date.
Her ribbon swayed as she puffed out her chest in pride.
“I’m glad it’s sunny. Look, there’s a park over that way. Let’s eat there.”
And so, we sat down on a bench in a nearby nature park.
In the park, there was a large pond with spot-billed ducks swimming in it. On the other side of the pond, I could see a few joggers. There was practically no one around us, and we could only hear the peaceful chirping of the birds.
After purchasing two bottles of tea from the vending machine, I returned to our bench. I offered one to Fujinomiya, who was setting up our picnic.
“Wow, you’re very thoughtful! Thank you!”
“Not as much as you, though.”
I sat down next to Fujinomiya. Bringing lunch for the both of us was one of the most “thoughtful” things she could do. On a Saturday at noon, all the restaurants were crowded and had long lines.
Or rather, we wouldn’t be able to play the Time Theft Game properly in such a place.
When I used Adams, either I or Fujinomiya would disappear. If this happened in a place where there were many bystanders, like a family restaurant, this would cause quite a commotion. This would be an undesirable incident for Fujinomiya, as she wanted to keep her Time-stealing a secret.
“Hayate-kun, it’s all ready! Here you go!”
I took a sip of my tea as she handed me lunch.
Ooh, it was an authentic Japanese-style lunch. A rolled omelet, deep-fried chicken, braised burdock root, stewed root veggies… At that moment, a faint, unsettling feeling of discomfort came over me.
…Oh, there’s no carrot?
I hated carrots, and there were none in any of these dishes. That was rare. Conventionally, they were always included in this kind of food. It was as if she knew I wouldn’t eat them.
I brushed aside the discomfort and clasped my hands, and I said, “Let’s eat.” I took my chopsticks and put the fried chicken in my mouth.
The moment I bit into it, an electrifying current ran through my body.
What is this…? It’s delicious! It’s too good!!
It looked much the same as your typical frozen fried chicken, but its flavor was simply extraordinary despite it being somewhat cold. The crispy coating, the juicy chicken meat that just melted in my mouth, completely rewrote my perception of fried chicken. The base flavor was the exquisite harmony of the savory aged soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. What really whetted my appetite—the sesame oil. Perhaps she had mixed it in during the frying process. But that was not the only thing special about this fried chicken. I stared at the partially-eaten fried chicken in my chopsticks and noticed tiny brown grains. At that moment, I realized. There was Japanese pepper! That was the secret ingredient! The spicy aroma effusing through my nose added a sharpness to the refreshing taste that lingered.
“W-Wait a minute!”
Slapping myself internally for almost turning this into a gourmet manga, I looked at Fujinomiya. She seemed curious about my opinion on the food.
“…What is this?”
“It’s fried chicken, no?”
“I know what it is! But why is this fried chicken so good? Which fried food restaurant did this come from?”
“I didn’t buy that at the store. I made it myself.”
I stared at Fujinomiya with a dumbfounded look on my face.
“What is it now…?
“So that’s homemade…?”
Imma expose something. You know about those home economics classes where the girls learn how to cook? There’s this event where the girls give the boys the dishes they’ve made. To be frank, I envied those who received anything. There’s something special about a girl’s homemade food, isn’t there? On top of that, Fujinomiya’s creations were the ones that all the boys in the class wanted.
And now, I was eating it.
My heart would not stop racing. I mean, it was impossible not to get nervous! I couldn’t think of any strategy to counteract hers…
Damn it, I groan. Fujinomiya peered at me.
“How is it? I tried my best to make it, you know? What do you think of it?”
“It’s so good… This totally changes my perspective on fried chicken… The next time someone asks, ‘What is your favorite food?’, I’m gonna answer with this.”
“Ahaha, I’m glad. I’m confident in the other ones too, so please eat a lot.”
I stiffened at her elated expression.
“Huh…? Confident in the other ones…?”
“I made everything for that lunch, you know?”
My heart skipped a beat.
“Hayate-kun, dig in!”
“Seriously!? All of them are homemade…!”
I was in awe.
I had no idea that fried chicken could be this delicious. Now, for the other dishes—
With trembling chopsticks, I plucked the glorious yellow egg and put it in my mouth.
A new electrifying current ran through me.
I wondered if I had ever eaten an omelet like this before. Nah, no way. The sweetness of an omelet was typically a matter of personal preference, but this was beyond that realm. So good. So, so delicious. I could down three bowls of rice with this. It had a pleasant, refined sweetness coupled with the firm white broth (rest omitted).
My face changed expressions as I feasted on the dishes one after another. What in the world was this? Was this really the work of an amateur?
After I had conquered all of the appetizers, I set my chopsticks down. As I let my mind wander, Fujinomiya peeked at me.
“What’s wrong, Hayate-kun? Is there something you can’t eat?”
“…No. It’s just that… this was the best lunch I’ve ever had in my life…”
“Geez, stop exaggerating!”
“It’s true! No kidding, this is legit the best food in the world. I didn’t know you were so good at cooking, Fujinomiya. Amazing—what kind of wizardry is this?
“There’s no ‘wizardry’ involved in cooking. It’s just careful prepping.”
“Mhm, it tastes better since I soaked them overnight.”
With a slightly embarrassed look, Fujinomiya opened her bag. “Here, Hayate-kun’s favorite salmon rice balls,” she said, taking out a triangular object wrapped in plastic.
There was a nagging question in my mind, however.
“Why did you make us lunch?”
Idol Fujinomiya flinched.
I looked down at my lunch. It was evident that a lot of care and effort had been put into it, not only in the taste, but also in the presentation.
“This is a game, no? You could’ve just bought lunch boxes with frozen or pre-prepared dishes from a convenience store. I don’t see why it was necessary to make it by yourself.”
Obviously, Fujinomiya had prepared lunch boxes because we couldn’t play the Time Theft Game in a family restaurant.
Even if the lunch box were to be full of frozen food, I was relatively sure that I would have eaten it gratefully anyway. After all, a high school boy’s diet was more about quantity than quality.
Did she aim to make me nervous by presenting me with her homemade cooking?
But even if that were the case…
“It takes a lot of work to make food of this quality. I can tell because, well, I cook from time to time. Even if you wanted to make it by yourself, you could’ve skimped on the cooking. Why are you going this far? Why are you doing this for me? Why—”
“Do you really not know why?”
Fujinomiya opened her own lunch box.
A gentle breeze blew against her fluffy ribbon.
“I made these delicious dishes because I wanted to raise my appeal to you, you know…? I just wanted to make Hayate-kun like me more…”
Her eyes and voice gradually dropped. When her head was hanging, I could see Fujiniomiya’s blushing cheeks.
My head went dizzy from my rapid heartbeats.
Already used to the developments that had happened during this game, I was warned and reminded by my dizziness.
—Acting… was it acting?
It had to be. Ultimately, we were playing a Time Theft Game. How many times have I been fooled already?
I averted my gaze from her. Even though I knew it was part of her strategy, I couldn’t stop feeling giddy.
We were eating her homemade lunch on a bench in a park side by side. It was awesome, to say the least.
Result: My loss (White flag)
After finishing our lunches, we discussed where to go next.
“I want to go eat a chocolate parfait.”
With the first thing Fujinomiya said, the destination was decided. There was no need for further discussion.
Fujinomiya stared at her phone with a focused expression, trying to decide which cafe to go to for our parfaits.
I headed to the bathroom at the edge of the park to take a break. As I purposefully walked there slowly, I was able to quickly use my phone to search up “places that make girls nervous”!
If Fujinomiya continued at this pace, I would lose. I had to find a place where I could have an advantage no matter what.
I didn’t know why “exciting situations” were also listed in the search results when I looked for specific locations that made girls nervous… but a peek wouldn’t hurt.
・Kabe-don—I tried this on the rooftop, but it didn’t work…
・Mata-don—Under what circumstances, though?
・Hand-holding—We just did this. My heart was racing.
・Snuggling/Caressing—Same as above.
・Sudden kissing—There’s no way!!
(TL: A kabe-don is pushing someone else against a wall using their hands. A mata-don is restraining someone against a wall by placing one’s knee between their legs.)
I closed the very unhelpful website and opened the page I was looking for, “5 Date Locations That Make a Girl’s Heart Race!”
・Movie Theater—Fujinomiya had already taken me there.
・Aquarium—I’d consider this… if there were one nearby.
・Amusement Park—If we actually planned on going to one, we needed to arrive there in the morning.
・Nightscape—Ah, that’s a nice idea. Does Fujinomiya have a curfew, though?
・Deluxe Public Bath
“Whut thuh hail iz thus?”
Though I was born and raised in the Kanto region, I suddenly burst out in the Kansai dialect. But how could I not? The last one was a bit too odd! Why a public bath? It’s separated by gender! There might be places where mixed bathing with swimsuits on was allowed, which might make the girl nervous, but that wouldn’t stop me from getting nervous!
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but now that I had some basic knowledge, I just needed to figure out how to put it to good use.
While walking back from my bathroom break—huh?
Three guys were in front of Fujinomiya, who was elegantly sitting on the bench.
Judging by their clothes and size, they were in their twenties. One had brown hair, one had blonde hair, and one had red hair, all of them exuding a strong gaudiness. In my opinion, they were pretty repulsive.
As I snuck up to them, I could hear the conversation.
“Come on, it’s just tea! Let’s go, we’ll buy you a drink.”
“That would be a problem. I’m waiting for my boyfriend.”
“Then, let’s exchange LINE IDs. That’s okay, right? It’s just LINE.”
It seemed that they were hitting on her. Fujinomiya fidgeted with the tips of her ribbon with a troubled look.
I called out from behind the trio. The colorful array of heads all turned at once. Noticing me, they snidely looked at me with their pierced faces.
“…Is this guy your boyfriend?”
“No waaaay, right? Are you two seriously going out?”
The three of them gave me dubious gazes. Shut up, I know we don’t match.
I was slightly annoyed, but I ignored them and stepped to Fujinomiya.
“Let’s hurry. We’ll be late for the train.”
“You know, you’re ignoring us.”
When I tried to get past the brown-haired guy, I was grabbed by the shoulder. He then stood in front of me with an unsatisfied expression. I was fucked, wasn’t I?
The redhead and the blonde began talking to Fujinomiya.
“Hey, why don’t you leave that boyfriend of yours and come hang out with us?”
“We got a car over there. I’ll take you for a drive.”
Their hands reached for Fujinomiya.
“Don’t touch my girlfriend!” I shouted at the top of my lungs.
“What, are you trying to act cool, brat?”
The brown-haired guy shoved me aside, causing me to land on my rear.
Immediately, I scanned our surroundings, searching for someone who might be able to help us. However, there was no one. The quiet nature park was against me.
“Yeaaah, I wanna go for a drive! Are you sure you want to take me?”
—A high-pitched voice rang out, startling me.
Fujinomiya stood up from the bench, giving the trio a dazzling smile. She seemed to be totally into it.
As I lay stunned on the ground, Fujinomiya threw me a cold glare.
“That’s why, I’m sorry, Hayate-kun. Bye-bye.”
And with that, she snuggled up to the gaudy trio.
The mocking voice of the brown-haired guy smacked into me.
“You just got dumped, dumbass.”
The three guys surround Fujinomiya and leave. Fujinomiya didn’t even spare me a glance. As she left, I stared at her fluffy ribbon with total abandon.
You’re kidding… right?
What would happen to her if she got into a car with some random guys? It was hard to believe that she wasn’t aware. But Fujinomiya had chosen to go along with them. For what reason?
I couldn’t get rid of them. That was why she fake-dumped me. Idol Fujinomiya was an act, after all. The smile that she was giving them wasn’t real.
“…You… stop right there!”
I clenched my fists and kicked the ground.
Three versus one? I didn’t care. They were all bigger than me? I didn’t care.
Fujinomiya had planned to offer her body in order for me to escape safely. Please don’t do this, Fujinomiya. If that happened, there was no way I could ever atone for my error. You’re not my girlfriend, you’re not even my friend; you’re a thief who stole my Time. But, you’re the only girl I talk to in class. I can’t just leave you like this.
I grabbed the brown-haired guy by the jacket. And then, a fist was right in front of me. The brown-haired guy had turned around and thrown a punch at me. I couldn’t even dodge it.
I felt a powerful impact on my temple, a loud thud ringing in my skull. My vision was cluttered with sparks. And yet, I refused to let go of his jacket.
A second shot by the brown-haired guy hit me square in the cheek. My lips parted and I tasted blood.
“Hey man, don’t go too far…. you—AHHHHHH!!”
Suddenly, a shriek rang out.
When the brown-haired guy and I looked over, we saw that both the bodies of the redhead and the blonde were on the verge of vanishing. The two charlatans were in a state of panic, their pierced faces twisting in fear.
“Help me! My body’s disappearing! It’s disappearing—AHH!”
“No, I don’t want to die! Eek! What the hell is happening!?”
In futility, their body had already vanished from the knees down. They struggled around in midair, but their hips, stomachs, and arms disappeared quickly after. Ah, what déjà vu!
“Good grief, what noisy pieces of shit.”
A chilling voice had descended.
Black Fujinomiya stood there, beside the disappearing duo.
Her dusky aura radiated in full swing. She had a small hourglass in each of her hands, into which glittering particles were being sucked.
Huff, huff, a rough voice panted nearby.
It was the brown-haired guy. His face was pale from helplessly watching his friends disappear. Since he didn’t know the truth behind this phenomena, he probably thought they died and that he was next. It was understandable that he was petrified.
The blonde and redhead completely vanished.
Fujinomiya’s eyes landed on the brown-haired guy who remained. Her now-obsidian eyes were ice-cold, causing him to twitch.
“S-Sorry, ma’am! I’ll be going home now, so could you please let me off…?”
His confident demeanor earlier was nowhere to be seen as the brown-haired man slowly backed away, trembling all the while. However, the Time Thief was ruthless. Her red lips boldly curved into a warped smile.
“No can do. Shit must be completely disposed of; every last one of them.”
She spun Adams around, her jet-black hair fluttering in the wind as she inched closer. The brown-haired guy turned and tried to flee. However, his legs were entangled and useless. Thus, Fujinomiya managed to easily use Adams on him.
The brown-haired man let out one final, desperate cry of agony as he vanished into thin air. The park was once again silent. The Time Thief held up the two hourglasses in her hand against the sun, examining the Time collected within before she looked at me.
“Let’s move somewhere else quickly. It’d be a pain if those guys showed up again.”
I could only nod my head as she alluringly smiled at me.
“Kashima-kun, are you okay? Are you hurt?”
“No, I’m fine. I guess hair really does protect your head. Thanks to my overly-grown hair, I didn’t sustain any injuries.”
“I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing… but I could’ve sworn that you got hurt when he punched you. Was that just my misjudgement?”
Fujinomiya placed a wet handkerchief on my temple, closely scrutinizing my face for any injuries. There weren’t any—no bruises, no scars—on my face. When I noticed that Fujinomiya’s gaze began to fix upon my lip, I slowly turned my face away.
We were now at a cafe a few train stops away from the one near the nature park. The clientele population mainly consisted of girls, most of whom were slightly older than us. A strong scent of coffee flowed wonderfully throughout the cafe.
Leaning against the chicly-designed wall, Black Fujinomiya had an enigmatic expression.
“I’ll make sure to learn from this incident. If I knew that this was going to happen to you, I would have used Adams earlier. I was too naive… I thought I could maximize their excitement and steal a week from each of them…”
I was just thinking about how surprisingly calm she was when she accompanied those men. So that’s what she was planning to do.
“Don’t worry about it. If you didn’t have Adams, who knows what would’ve happened to me…”
“I must admit, I wasn’t expecting that.”
Fujinomiya put away her handkerchief and propped her elbows on the table. Her dark eyes pierced through me.
“I never would’ve thought that you, Kashima-kun, a gloomy and dull person, would come to save me.”
“Are you dissing me or complimenting me? Choose one, ‘cause I’m having trouble reacting here.”
“I’m complimenting you. I’m surprised that the always-in-a-daze, non-interactive, motivation-less Kashima-kun didn’t just turn tail and run away. I should apologize for thinking of you as ‘shit’. I shall promote you to ‘trash’ from now on.”
“The diss came back three times worse! Also, ‘trash’ isn’t a promotion, you know!?
Or rather, how does she even know that much about me?
In the subdued lighting of the cafe, Fujinomiya’s necklace sparkled. Unable to meet her gaze directly, my eyes drooped.
“…Hey, this is supposed to be a date, right?”
Fujinomiya raised her well-defined eyebrows.
“Yes. Of course this is a date.”
“I don’t want to be the kind of guy who’d leave a girl in trouble alone on a date.”
“It just seems… kinda scummy to me, you know? Plus, it’s not like I’m that great of a person, so I just hope that the few people who associate with me don’t suffer any misfortunes.”
Fujinomiya looked at me with a slightly shocked expression.
Beyond our table’s dividers, lively voices buzzed about. I reached a glass of cold water and poured it down my throat, feeling the shock spread through my body from the sudden chill of the water passing through.
“…Um, could you please not just sit there and stay silent?”
“My bad. I was simply in awe that the perpetually-lonely, unattractive, plain-featured and nerdish Kashima-kun could say such selfless, empathetic things.”
“Can you not diss me? Is it a rule to use a descriptor on me every time you refer to me?”
“It’s not just a descriptor. Considering my flawless use of language, I’d consider it an epithet.”
“I don’t care what it is! That’s not the problem!”
Fujinomiya giggled in amusement.
Soon, the two iced teas and the jumbo chocolate parfait that we ordered were brought out.
“It’s so big!”
The actual parfait was far more intimidating than the image given on the menu. The chocolate soft-serve loomed over the glass like a tower. Chocolate brownies surrounded like an impregnable fortress, and the bananas were placed on all sides like turrets. I could feel the creator’s taunting challenge of “If you think you can stomach it, go ahead and try.”
Part 3 (Hamlet’s part)
Seemingly overwhelmed, Fujinomiya’s eyes twinkled. And although she was in her Black Fujinomiya state, she let out a cheerful “Wooow~” and snapped a quick picture with her phone. Then she took the long, thin spoon and prepared to dig in.
She had a truly blissful smile on her face. I couldn’t care less about the chocolate parfaits, but I was glad we came here. Seeing that smile of hers was more than enough to make today’s date worth it… Wait, that’s not it! I completely forgot we were playing a game!
As I sipped on my iced tea through a straw, I peered at Fujinomiya.
She seemed to be completely engrossed in eating the chocolate soft-serve. Hey, isn’t it a good time to do that?
I stealthily reached into the pockets of my jeans when suddenly, Fujinomiya looked up at me.
“Do you want some too, Hayate-kun? I could feed it to you if you’d like?”
Geh! She’s gone back to being Idol Fujinomiya!
My cheeks stiffened as Fujinomiya moved her ribbon aside and scooped some of the ice cream.
“Here, say ‘Ah!’”
She held her spoon out toward me with a sweet smile on her face.
Hmph. You’re too obvious! I know what you’re trying to do, Fujinomiya!
This was the Time Thief’s ploy. If I took the bait, my heart rate would inevitably increase, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to use Adams. However, I saw through it. I wouldn’t play into it.
I thought I would firmly reject Fujinomiya’s tempting offer to “say ‘Ah!’”, but… my body leaned forward and I opened my mouth.
It’s strange, isn’t it?
The devilish chocolate soft-serve, coated in sweet, sweet fudge, melted in my mouth.
“So, is it good?”
“Ugh, my heart…”
“You’re so easy-to-read, Hayate-kun. But I like that about you~♡”
“What I don’t like about you is that you keep rubbing salt in the wound!”
An indirect kiss with Fujinomiya—!!!!! As I squirmed internally, Fujinomiya’s expression grew smug.
However, when her irises fixed upon the glass, her expression hardened.
Fujinomiya’s gaze departed from the glass to her spoon, unmoving.
With a forced smile on her face, she brought her spoon toward the chocolate soft-serve. In the awkward silence, even the light clink of the spoon on the glass could be heard.
“…Could it be… you haven’t realized yet? If you use that to eat, it’s gonna be an indirect—”
At my remark, her head snapped up with eyes fiercely glaring at me.
“Of course not! I’m just trying to figure out where to eat from next!”
“Should I tell her that her Idol Mode is off right now…?”
“I can hear you! Shut up already!”
She shoved a banana into my mouth.
Fujinomiya ate single-mindedly, attempting to show indifference at the idea of an indirect kiss.
…I wonder if this should be considered a draw. I think both our hearts are racing right now.
After I finished the banana, I confirmed Adams was in my pocket before I spoke.
“So there was another Adams besides the one in my pocket, huh. I had been certain that this was the only one out there.”
Black Fujinomiya’s hand ceaselessly scooped bite-sized chunks of the parfait and delivered it to her mouth.
“Adams is a medical product and is therefore mass-produced. If it had been irreplaceable and important, I wouldn’t have left one with you.”
“I guess that’s true. But where and how did you get one of these?”
“That’s a secret. The workings of the Fruit of Wisdom and Time—their correlations—are a closely guarded secret. Only a few people are aware of the existence of Adams.”
“Yeah, for sure… In fact, I didn’t even know about it for the sixteen years I’ve been alive.”
“You better not think about getting your hands on Adams. If you do, and if you use it to commit a crime, you will face serious social sanctions.”
Big talk coming from the Time Thief, eh?
She suddenly made a bewitching smile. Perhaps she had sensed my thoughts by my expression.
“You see, I only steal Time from pieces of shit.”
Clink! Fujinomiya set her spoon inside the glass. The jumbo-sized chocolate parfait had been cleanly devoured.
“Those lowlives earlier are a good example. I don’t know what they were planning to do with me once they got me into their car, but I’m certain they were only thinking with the lower half of their bodies.
“It’s the truth. I know exactly how men look at me. Or are you trying to say that I’m wrong, Kashima-kun?”
“Sorry…” I said before turning my face away from hers so I couldn’t peek at the extremities of her self-assertion.
A relaxed smile forms on Fujinomiya’s face.
“There’s no need to apologize. I’m used to those kinds of things happening to me and playing around with them isn’t all that bad. Plus, it’s a pretty good way to steal some Time.”
Since she had the charms to make any man’s heart race, I assumed that her… thievery business never failed.
“The pieces of shit who try to hit on me or offer to be my ‘sugar daddy’ are my targets. Their sickly ulterior motives justify my stealing of their Time.”
“And, at least with the case of those three back there, it’s kinda like self-defense.”
“It’s also important that they don’t know who I am, making it highly unlikely that they will find me after I’ve stolen their Time. Most of my victims probably think they’re just daydreaming or something.”
I was convinced.
If I hadn’t questioned Fujinomiya, I would’ve never gotten to the bottom of it. She did say that he was the first person she had stolen Time from three times. With what she had just said, Fujinomiya probably only stole from strangers once and only once.
Then, why’d you steal my Time, dear classmate? And three times, for that matter—
Sooner than I could ask her, Fujinomiya continued.
“Well, another reason I haven’t been exposed yet is because I use the Time I steal almost immediately. No evidence is ever left behind that way.”
“Huh?” I let out in a hoarse voice. “Does that mean… you’ve already used my summer vacation…?”
“It’s long gone.”
Wha—! My back snapped upright.
“There’s no need to worry. I’ll be sure to pay you in full if you win the game.”
“…How are you… so quick to use forty-or-so days?”
I didn’t get it.
Fujinomiya leaned back in her chair and cast her gaze at the distant scenery.
“Just for you, I’ll describe what kind of summer vacation I had.”
She breathed in and calmly began.
“I took an intensive summer course at a major cram school for English, math, and Japanese. Two hours for each subject every day; ten days in total. I spent two days every week at a private tutoring center to study a range of subjects beyond the school’s current progression in the curriculum. Three hours a day went to doing and reviewing school assignments at the cram school. I worked part-time in a nearby cafe for six hours a day for four days a week. With my friends, I went to the fireworks festival three times and to the community pool five times. And before each morning basketball team practice on the weekdays, I got three hours of independent practice beforehand—”
“Wait, wait, wait! Ridiculous, the time doesn’t add up! Plus, there’s absolutely no way you did all that with just one body—”
“I can’t increase the number of bodies I have, but I can increase the amount of Time I have. Now do you understand why I need more Time?”
I was at a loss for words.
“…Even so, you’ve got way too much on your schedule! Why?”
“I want to go to a national medical school. Preferably by passing the entrance exams on the first try.”
I could feel the strong resolve in her words.
“I know it’s difficult. Borderline impossible. I have to make sure I have the time to study, and since my family’s not that wealthy, I have to pay for cram school myself. That being said, I didn’t want to waste away my high school days just studying and working.”
Tap, tap. Fujinomiya drummed her fingers on the table with a melancholic expression, with a pair of sincere eyes.
She was dead serious.
It was surprising, to say the least. I didn’t expect a freshman in high school would be so thoughtful about their future, let alone the seemingly carefree Fujinomiya.
“I want to go out with my friends and participate in clubs just like a normal high school girl. I don’t want to cut off anything. Not my studies, not my club activities, not my part-time job, and not my friendships… Does this way of thinking make me selfish?”
I let my gaze linger on Fujinomiya, who was breathing in perfect tranquility.
“Do you have any dreams or goals for the future?”
I had no answer.
I pathetically looked down at my now diluted iced tea and desperately searched for an answer. Fujinomiya smiled, somewhat self-deprecatingly.
“…Was that an inconsiderate question? Perhaps it’s just because you’re a normal high schooler.”
Are you not normal? I decided not to pursue the matter.
Result: A draw??
When we left the cafe, the sky was dyed a beautiful crimson. The timing was perfect.
I walked slightly ahead.
Where to, Fujinomiya?
She was following me without a single question. Well, it probably didn’t really matter to her. As soon as I fell into the “piece of shit” category, she could steal my Time and temporarily erase me from existence.
After a short while, we arrived at the destination.
“I’d like to ride this with you.”
At my proposal, Fujinomiya raised her head. Her fluffy ribbon swayed.
Colorful gondolas were slowly spinning against the sunset. We were standing in front of a Ferris Wheel. The falling sun would soon illuminate the view, though it was still a bit early.
“Wow, so romantic!”
Fujinomiya was brimming with excitement as we stepped into a gondola, her smile bright like an idol’s. The attendant closed the door.
I sat across from her, arms folded.
“You know, since riding a Ferris wheel is a classic for dates and all.”
That being said, I only came up with the idea of riding a Ferris wheel a short while ago. I remembered the website I had searched up earlier saying “amusement park” and “nightscape”, which led me to this idea.
“Say, have you ever actually ridden the Ferris wheel alone with someone before?”
“Oh, with who?”
“You sure you wanna know? …It was with Makoto.”
“Oh, dear, that’s too bad. Not really a date, is it?”
She teasingly laughed at me, causing my mouth to snap shut. What she said was frustrating, but true.
“What about you? Have you ever ridden the Ferris wheel with your boyfriend?”
“No, I haven’t. You’re the first person I’ve ever gone on a date with, Hayate-kun.”
I reflexively leaned forward, gaze locked with hers.
“Is it really that surprising? Do you think it’s too late for someone to have a lover for the first time in their freshman year of high school?”
“Well, no… I’m just surprised that you never had a boyfriend, Fujinomiya. It seems like you have a lot of experience.”
“Hmph. So that’s how you see me, Hayate-kun. I’m offended that you think that I’m a bitch with a shit ton of exes.”
“That’s not what I meant, I swear! You know, you’re really popular, Fujinomiya! You’re bright, beautiful, smart, athletic, basically flawless—”
“Is that really what you got from our date today?”
Fujinomiya’s face inched toward mine.
She had an earnest expression, as if testing me.
I dropped my gaze and shook my head loosely.
No. That’s just Fujinomiya’s surface-level appearance. The mask of an idol she forged for herself.
“…Maybe I misunderstood all along. I always thought of you as a faraway, divine being who was the radiant center of your classes, blessed with beauty and talent, unlike me.”
At the very least, that was what it looked like to an average gloomy guy like me.
People as high up as Fujinomiya are special. They’re in a completely different dimension, and no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to catch them.
We’re so blinded by their dazzling appearance that we fail to notice their true nature.
“Going on a date with you, Fujinomiya, has made me realize how surprisingly down-to-earth and hardworking you are. You never slack off on your preparations, and you seem very diligent in your studies. I also realized that even you have your own problems. It kind of made me feel closer to you. Well, you might not like the idea of that, though…”
“No, it’s okay, Kashima-kun.”
Fujinomiya gently smiled at me.
“I’m glad we went on this date today. I could finally show you the real me, you know?”
The golden rays of the sun stroked her hair. Seeing her accepting smile, my wavering feelings, smoldering inside me, turned into conviction.
─I know what I have to do.
Resolving myself to do what we rode the Ferris Wheel for, I moved next to Fujinomiya. The gondola swayed.
“I also felt like I had a taste of youth today. I’m glad my first date was with you, Fujinomiya.”
“This is my first date, too. On the whole, I think it went pretty well.”
“That’s all thanks to you, Fujinomiya.”
“Yes, you,” I replied. I took a deep breath before reaching into my pocket and grabbing Adams. “It’s because you’ve been observing me on a daily basis and have a perfect grasp of my personality and preferences.”
The torch of battle was lit.
Sitting side by side, neither of us made the slightest of movements.
The gondola rose gently, bringing with it a faint vibration. Normally she would’ve made a cutting remark by now, but Fujinomiya was in her Idol Mode, ribbon untied.
“It’s quite bewitching. Why? Why do you know what I’m like in the classroom? Why do you know what kind of novels I read? You even know which foods I like and dislike. Don’t you think it’s strange? You and I are worlds apart: you’re the idol of the class, and I’m a loner. Why do you know so much about me?”
“…Don’t you think it’s because I’ve been planning to steal your Time all along?”
“Even so, that’s pretty excessive. There are tons of other boys you’ve stolen Time from, so why did you have to go through the added trouble of choosing me, someone who’s had no experience with girls? You dressed according to my tastes and preferences, you made a lunch box that I liked, and you chose a movie based on my hobbies. Did you really have to go to all that trouble just to steal my Time?”
She could’ve just stolen my Time by simply confessing to me. I myself know how simple of a man I am.
“Your actions are too extravagant for a mere game. You can steal my Time without having to watch me and make me like you. You know that, don’t you?”
Fujinomiya, seemingly troubled, fiddled with her ribbon.
“…So, what are you trying to say, Hayate-kun? Are you mad that I’ve been watching you this entire time?”
“I’m not mad. In fact, it actually made me very happy. Fujinomiya, allow me to reveal what your true motives are.”
I tightly grasped Adams.
Calm down, me. It’ll all go to nothing if I get nervous here, too!
I stared at the empty seat in front of me and calmly declared.
“─You’re actually in love with me, aren’t you?”
That’s how certain I am of my guess.
First of all, I am ninety-nine percent sure that Fujinomiya has feelings for me. I mean, if she didn’t like me then why me? Why bother observing me? She even knows the traits of my favorite heroine. How thorough was her investigation of me?
At this point, I was nearly certain of my victory. However, there remained a measly five percent in which this would just be all in vain. Overly self-conscious statements were not my thing, but…
It was my only option.
If I received this sort of passionate message from the person of my affection, my heart would definitely beat faster. Even if Fujinomiya had a heart of steel, I predicted that she would not be able to withstand this shock.
I reaffirmed the calmness of my heartbeat and looked toward her.
Fujinomiya flushed deep crimson, her hand covering her mouth. In her averted eyes, I could see the last resistance of her mind crumbling.
“So you’ve noticed…” came Fujinomiya in an embarrassed voice.
Thump, jumped my heart.
Crap. It’s dangerous to keep staring at her. Decide the result now!
I began to move.
As the hourglass that stole Time approached Fujinomiya—
“—Oh, you’re completely wrong. I think I misled you a little too much.”
She removed her hand that was covering her mouth.
Idol Fujinomiya’s lips were trembling, as if she were about to burst out laughing. She shut her mouth tightly in an attempt to suppress her mockery.
It was quite fortunate that the gondola doors were not open. If they were, I might’ve just thrown myself out immediately. Goodbye, life. Wait, no, someone please tell me that this is a lie!
I let out an inaudible scream to the sky. I didn’t even get to use Adams.
“Sorry, Hayate-kun. I’m glad you feel that way… I guess?”
Why are you acting like I just confessed and got rejected?
I looked up timidly, only to meet Fujinomiya’s affectionate gaze. Wait, does this mean this girl really likes me…?
“Am I really… mistaken?”
“Well, Hayate-kun, you’re expecting a little too much!”
“But… but, there’s no other way to think of it! What the hell were you thinking, then!?”
“Well… I guess there was one miscalculation. I didn’t expect Hayate-kun to be so cautious.”
“I was waiting all day for you to use Adams on me, misled Hayate-kun.”
Her expression warped into something twisted.
—I was utterly deceived.
From the beginning, from the moment Fujinomiya approached, from the onset, everything that happened was in her complete control. During our date, everything I said and thought and felt—I was dancing in the palm of her hand.
I gritted my teeth, head boiling over.
“…Naturally. I’ve got to be cautious since I’m dealing with a Time Thief.”
“I don’t think it’s very smart to stay on the defensive all the Time. Sometimes, it’s better to just go for it.”
“You’re literally just saying that so you can steal my Time.”
“Did I anger you, Hayate-kun? Well, at least for the end of this Time Theft Game, I hope you’ll do your best, okay?”
Agitated, I let my emotions overtake me. I slammed my hands on the gondola wall, leaving no space for Fujinomiya to escape in this narrow space.
“Then, Fujinomiya, can I kiss you?”
This was one of the heart-pounding situations I had looked up on my phone. Though I had deemed it useless, it came to mind just then.
However, after I asked her, I regretted my foolishness. This was a forbidden step; it was something that would make both of our heart rates skyrocket. However, I had already asked if she was “actually in love with me.” Laughable, but then, I was no longer afraid.
As I waited patiently for Fujinomiya to finish me off, she smiled gently.
“Sure. As long as you use Adams.”
Then her eyelids fell.
I shuddered even at the thought of kissing her on the lips, her defenseless look heightening my nervousness.
A voice rang out from our gondola’s speakers, announcing that we would reach the top of the Ferris wheel shortly.
Was she only willing to let me kiss her because she knew she’d steal my Time? Or did she think that I didn’t have the guts to kiss her?
Either way, she was still underestimating me.
My throat, parched. Even if this was all part of her plan, I wouldn’t back down.
I confirmed the presence of Adams with my sweaty head, then, grabbing her shoulders, caused her to tremble slightly.
The innards of the gondola were streaked with blazing red in the sunlight of the settling evening.
Her protracted eyelashes, glassy-smooth cheeks, lustrous lips—a beautiful dye came over them, expelling us into a paradisiacal scene. Lured by her distinguished features, I brought my face closer to hers.
My last shred of reason, my last imperial of logic, however, whispered in my ear, halting my attempt to retrieve Adams.
—Did you forget? She’s a Time Thief.
No, I hadn’t forgotten. This would probably be the last of my struggles. I had no clue how much Time I would lose, but I had already made my decision. At the very least, I would give her my Time given that I got to kiss her. Lose the game, win the date.
Another calm voice resonated within me.
—You idiot. How can you say that you won the date if your partner hates you?
If I used Adams, say, then the answer would be no. I just couldn’t.
The horizon-bound sun shone on us. It was hot, and so, the gondola, which had no air conditioning, with all of its intense heat, melted the two of us. Fujinomiya remained motionless with her eyelids shut as I continued to move toward her.
The gondola reached its highest point.
A bead of sweat ran down my own neck, and I pulled my hand away from hers.
I moved back to sit down across from her, and her eyes opened, sensing the disappearance of my close proximity.
Mock me for my cowardice.
Fujinomiya’s lips trembled, seamless. Unnerved, I watched the daytime city slowly being eroded, enveloped by the evening darkness.
Result: My tragic loss
We got off the gondola while the sun set in the backdrop.
A short distance from the Ferris wheel landing, Fujinomiya untied her trademark ribbon.
“Have we had enough of this game?”
It was Black Fujinomiya.
I could tell from her gaze that she sensed that I was running out of ideas.
In agreement, I nodded my head.
“I see. It was fun in its own way, but it’s a shame you didn’t use Adams at all.”
Fujinomiya had a plain expression, and her statement made me speechless.
Terribly. Absolute tragedy.
I couldn’t even bring myself to use Adams once.
“Now that the game is over, can I have Adams back?”
Ah, I supposed that she did need it back. Reaching into my pocket and feeling the empty hourglass, I suddenly stop moving.
“Hey, tell me one last thing? Why me?”
Unsatisfied, I seeked an answer I hadn’t received.
She stole my entire summer vacation away. I should have the right to know why, at the very least.
“At best, I’m your acquaintance. It’s pretty weird for you to target me, considering everything. Why, then?”
“I wanted to make the most of my summer vacation by stealing a chunk of Time from you,” she began dryly. “And, there’s a certain amount of risk of assault that comes with greedily stealing Time from a stranger. With some random guy, my heart rate would also rise, making the amount of Time that I can steal very small. On the other hand, since you’re a classmate, that risk is essentially eliminated. Plus, it’s easier to make their hearts race, don’t you think?”
“That’s not enough to convince me. There’s a lot of guys in the class who’d also probably fall victim to your ploy. Out of all of them, why’d you pick me?”
“I’ve had my eye on you for a long time.”
It was a classic line out of a confession, but the tone suggested something different.
And Fujinomiya continued in a similar fashion, completely oblivious to my inner emotions.
“You’re always in the classroom reading your book with a dazed look. Even when the rest of the class is hyping about something, you’re the only one who doesn’t give any sort of reaction. Do you know what your classmates call you behind your back? Caw-Caw-shima. Frozen like a scarecrow in the fields.”
Ah, that nickname was quite clever, though I had never heard that nickname before.
“And, it’s not just during passing periods. It’s also during class, lunch, and after school. You remain absentminded and basically motionless at school. Everyone else is studying, participating in club activities, or doing whatever they want to do with the limited Time they have. They try to enjoy their high school life, sing a song, perhaps, but you? What do you do? You spend your days in a state of permanent lethargy, motivationless. It’s almost like you’re mocking them for living their youth.”
I couldn’t deny a single word.
Fujinomiya looked me in the eye.
“—Kashima-kun, I hate you.”
A genuine pain smited my chest.
To be honest, I was a little surprised. If someone had said whatever she just said to me on July 20th, I probably would have brushed it off nonchalantly.
But now that I had gotten to know Fujinomiya, had gone on a date with her, and had come to know the full extent of a girl’s charms, it was hard for me to ignore her lingering words.
“I live everyday to its fullest. However, there’s still never enough time. You mentioned how I prepared for even a game with so much care—that’s because whenever I do something, I do it to the best of my ability. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time, and most of all, it’s bland.”
The glowing lights of the Ferris wheel lit up, a small cheer crying out around the area.
The giant Ferris wheel spun with leisure, flickering with those bright, artificial luminosities. Fujinomiya’s perfectly pale face reflected it.
“What are you, then? You claim to want to enjoy the fruits of youth, or perhaps to become a young adult, but you never listen in classes, causing your report card to be full of threes. In the classroom, you mostly keep to yourself, exchanging minutiae with your only friend, Makoto-kun. Hell, even today! You have a date, but your clothes and hair are a mess, and I certainly cannot feel your drive.”
As if she had already seen through everything, she sliced through me with faultless accusations.
“If you live like such, your days will be as boring as they can be. It’s your own fault that you don’t have a youth. It’s because you, yourself, are not making an effort to attain it.”
The wind, pregnant with remnants of summer, breathed between her and me.
On the boundary between day and night, Fujinomiya stood still with a Ferris wheel, as romantic as can be, behind her.
I was absolutely captivated by this scenery. She was neither Idol nor Black. At that moment, I felt that I was seeing the true Fujinomiya for the first time.
A somewhat underwhelming, life-size girl, pathetic.
There was pain.
Fujinomiya held down her fluttering ponytail in a graceful gesture, looking into the distance.
“I find your way of life unpleasant. You are profaning Time. That’s why I targeted you. Since you were a piece of shit who didn’t value every day, I thought it’d be okay to take Time away from you.”
Class idols were not born idols.
It was the accumulation of effort and Time that had allowed Fujinomiya to become what she was.
Even I understood that just from hearing about what she did over summer vacation.
When I slumped over and hung my head, my sloppy long bangs and my tattered shirt came into sight.
I was embarrassed at the fact that, for a moment, I had thought Fujinomiya liked me. Especially if she knew what I was like in the classroom. There was no reason for her to fall in love with me.
How could a girl just-so-happen to fall in love with me when I am someone who was just randomly waiting for a fateful encounter?
“Now, if you understand, may I have Adams back?”
Fujinomiya reached out her hand.
I was so beaten down that I took the empty hourglass and—
Tightened my grip.
Fujinomiya’s brow furrowed in confusion, but I refused to flinch. I had calculated in my head and came up with an answer.
“…In two hours, can you meet me in front of our school gate?”
“What are you talking about? The game is over, isn’t it?”
“No, not yet. It’s not over yet!”
My strong voice seemed to have disoriented Fujinomiya. I looked at my phone for the time.
“Two hours later at the school… eight o’clock at night. Are you really going to make me stay up that late?”
“How many hours do you think I’ve lost to you? You could at least give me this opportunity.”
Fujinomiya sighed and shook her head.
“Fine, then. Two hours later in front of the school gate. But this is the last time.”
“Yeah, I know. See you later.”
I ran out to the station.
There was no certainty that I would succeed. But I could say one thing.
I was going to put up a fight.
Exactly two hours later, Fujinomiya arrived. As expected of her.
Standing by the closed school gate, Fujinomiya blinked, startled, when she noticed me under a streetlight.
“So, you’ve changed into your school uniform. And you’ve cut your hair.
Idol Fujinomiya was wearing the same clothes as before. She came up to me with her ponytail flipped up and peeked at me in a mocking gesture.
“Unfortunately, the best clothes I have at home are my school uniforms.”
“That’s so like you, Hayate-kun. So, what are you going to do by calling me out here?”
She folded her hands behind her back and peered at me with high expectations.
I pried open the movable fence at the school gate, entering the school’s construction site.
“Well, just follow me.”
“Is it really fine to break into school at night?”
“Well, I tried it before you came and it went pretty smoothly.”
The school was unnervingly quiet at eight o’clock at night. The towering school building in the darkness was somehow eerie, different from what one could see during the day. The pitch-black windows and the entrance to the school stirred up an unnecessary fear in me.
“Hey, hey, Hayate-kun. You couldn’t possibly be… you know, taking me on a test of courage here, right…?”
Fujinomiya tightly held onto the cuffs of my sleeves. Her face was ghastly pale, and her eyes frantically darted around the place. It made me wonder whether this was just another act of hers or not.
“Now that’s surprising. Do haunted houses and stuff spook you?”
“N-No, they don’t! I’m just not used to them…!”
“Calm down. What I have in mind isn’t some sort of test of courage. It’s a legend you yourself know very well.”
“Legend?” she asked me. I noticed her complexion had improved somewhat.
“Yeah. You’re the one who told me about it. The legend where couples who confess their love under the sakura tree in the garden will get married.”
We didn’t enter the school building, but instead, followed the trees along the school’s outer perimeter. This way, we could reach the garden out back without going through the locked building.
We were heading for the most well-known confession spot at school, the place where it all began.
Realizing this, Fujinomiya’s smile deepened.
“Ooh, is it your turn now to confess to me, Kashima-kun?”
I didn’t answer her question.
Eventually, the hard ground below turned to soft grass. We’d arrived at the garden.
It offered a wide field of view, and in the center of that view was the sakura tree. As soon as Fujinomiya saw it, she gasped.
The tree in the garden was not the young tree we knew.
Its magnificent trunk grew tall and its branches spread wide as if to cover the sky. It looked as if it had been there for decades. And the cherry on top of it all was the plentiful cherry blossoms falling from its branches.
“…What on earth…?”
Her voice was hoarse as she walked towards the tree.
Her face turned into one of surprise and joy when she found that the fluttering pale-colored flowers and petals weren’t illusory.
Fwoosh. The night wind blew.
Her fluttering ribbon and the countless number of petals falling reflected the light from the stars as they danced in the empty sky. The garden was completely transformed into a magical world by the flurry of cherry blossoms. Standing underneath the blooming sakura tree and moonless night, Fujinomiya cupped her hands and caught several of the out-of-season petals.
Eventually, her hands grew full of them, and she snapped back to her senses.
“…What did you do? Why is there a large sakura tree here?”
Her idol facade was nowhere to be seen as she asked me this question.
“This is how serious I am. Would you believe me if I told you I found a big cherry tree and transplanted it here?”
“There’s no way you could’ve done that in two hours! Besides, how can sakura trees even bloom in September!?”
“Maybe the tree just read the mood? I mean, it wouldn’t have been as romantic if the leaves were their usual color.”
“Stop joking around! There’s no way that can explain why the tree suddenly bloomed…!”
I reached out and caught a petal that was floating in the air. A petal that wasn’t supposed to bloom.
“I’ve been thinking really hard. Why is it that even though you confessed to me just like in the legends on July 20th, we didn’t get married?”
Fujinomiya looked flabbergasted.
I walked down the carpet of petals and approached her.
“Getting married means you in turn have to like me as well, right? This kind of one-sided relationship feels off to me.”
“You… You really believe in that legend…?”
“‘I myself would like to believe they’re true’. Isn’t that what you said to me with that perfect smile of yours on the twentieth of July? It’s your fault for making me believe in it.”
Her lips quivered, and her feet took one step back. I easily closed the distance.
“Unfortunately though, a key part of the legend was incomplete at the time. I mean, of course it wouldn’t work unless all the conditions are fulfilled first. And the missing part of the legend I’m talking about? It’s the large sakura tree.”
Her face cast downward, she kept backing up until she bumped into something. Shocked, she looked behind her, only to find that she’d bumped into the thick trunk of the tree.
“That’s why I’ve prepared! Now everything that’s necessary for the legend is here! If I confess now, you and I will get married. In other words, you will fall in love with me. Isn’t that right?”
We were now standing in front of each other under the sakura tree.
Above my head, the sakura were in full bloom. I looked toward Fujinomiya, comparing my uniform to her casual clothes. She leaned against the bark of the tree, paralyzed.
I took a deep breath, and Fujinomiya responded with a raised voice.
“Y-You idiot…! You think someone’s feelings can change as simply as that—”
“It does change. That’s what the legend says, right?”
And so, Fujinomiya was at a loss for words.
I caressed her glossy black hair. From the knot in her ponytail, I plucked a petal, and it was as if the color of the sakura had been transferred to her cheeks, pink with passion.
“Frankly, when I saw you with your ponytail up this morning, I was overjoyed. You represented the paradigm of my ideal type. I was so giddy on this date today.”
Her unfixed, glazed-over eyes indicated her intense unrest.
With a sincere tone, I spoke.
Fujinomiya flinched. Her eyes widened. I continued in a whisper.
“—Return my summer vacation to me.”
And I quickly pulled out Adams.
With a surprised yelp, Fujinomiya tried to wriggle out of this situation. Too late. I grabbed her arm and pressed the hourglass against it. I couldn’t let her escape here.
Her chest convulses and twists, evident from the contorting of her cardigan. That was where her heart was.
A black hole, leading to another dimension, was being summoned.
From Fujinomiya’s chest, the tip of an apple peeked out.
It was the Fruit of Wisdom, obtained by mankind. The forbidden fruit that controlled Time.
Though I was elated at the initial sight of the apple, I was bewildered as it was ominously levitating in the air before us.
“W-What the hell…!?”
Fujinomiya’s Fruit of Wisdom had a number of distorted holes, each a centimeter in diameter. It looked as if a worm had eaten its way through it.
“…Since you can already see it, I guess it can’t be helped. I have a case of congenital Time deficiency.”
Fujinomiya wore a contemplative expression.
“Congenital Time deficiency…?”
“I was born with a Fruit of Wisdom that prevents me from storing large amounts of Time. In this entire world, there are only a few cases of this disease, making it extremely rare. I can only store twenty-four hours of Time in my Fruit of Wisdom. All the sands of the hourglass had been washed away since birth, leaving only a day’s worth.”
“Wait. If that’s the case, your Time stealing has been…!”
How could I not notice this? Why else would Fujinomiya have a medical product like Adams? Why else would she know so much information about an esoteric concept—one’s Fruit of Wisdom?”
I knew why.
People, inherently, asked for the impossible.
She was born deprived of Time, and so she became obsessed with it. She used the Time she had obtained more carefully and meaningfully than anyone else, as she could never allow it to be wasted.
No wonder she hated me. I had thrown down the drain what she could never get back.
The wormy-apple opened.
A sparkling trail of Time was being released by her hole-filled Fruit of Wisdom, being sucked into the hourglass in my hand. Simultaneously, that fruit became black.
I panicked. This was not good. I didn’t know what was happening, but my gut told me that this was not good!
“What’s happening… How can I make it stop—hey, Fujinomiya!”
Although Adams had already stopped making contact with Fujinomiya, Time continued to flow out of the wormy-apple.
“Kashima-kun, don’t hesitate. You won the game. Don’t let my situation hold you back and make you feel sorry. Take your hard-earned Time.”
“I can’t do that! What happens if this Time is taken away from you—!?”
“I will disappear.”
Fujinomiya smirked casually.
My mind went blank, and Fujinomiya continued like it was just any other conversation.
“But if I can get to a Time hospital, then maybe…”
“I don’t give a shit about a Time hospital! I can’t let you disappear because of me!”
After screeching at the top of my lungs, I noticed that Fujinomiya was missing from the knees down. Adams was mercilessly eating up her Time.
By instinct, I covered Adams up with my hands in an attempt to prevent Time from being absorbed by it, but to no avail. Time, just like the Fruit of Wisdom, went right through my hands. Damn it, I couldn’t stop it from taking Fujinomiya’s Time. Why was her heart pounding so fast with a guy who she hates?
“Calm down, Kashima-kun. I knew this would happen if I lost this game. It’s my fault for underestimating you.”
Under the waning sakura, Fujinomiya smiled gently, fleeting and fragile. Even as she was about to disappear, she remained beautiful.
I clenched my back teeth.
“Don’t apologize. I don’t blame you.”
“No. I’m sorry, but this is all I could think of.”
And with that, I planted my lips onto hers.
Fujinomiya’s eyes widened.
Adams worked like osmosis. Time was passed from the one with the higher heart rate to the one with the lower heart rate. This principle remained absolute, even throughout the process of exchanging Time.
I used Adams on Fujinomiya as I kissed her, and she didn’t resist.
Her lips were soft. This was bad for my heart. Pleasure ran through my body. My heart raced with passion, my heart overflowed with euphoria, so excited that I lost alertness to this critical situation—
My own Fruit of Wisdom appeared.
It went just as I had planned. My heart rate had exceeded hers, and so the flow of Time reversed.
I didn’t know how fast Fujinomiya’s heart was pounding, but there was absolutely no way hers could compete with mine, as after all, I was kissing the girl I liked. Don’t underestimate the power of a virgin!
Adams was already beginning to take Time away from me instead of Fujinomiya.
Fujinomiya, who had disappeared from the head down, was now quickly regaining her body as if a video were being rewinded, and now, it was I that was disappearing.
Losing the touch of Fujinomiya’s lips, I heard one last wistful call out to me.
And I was swallowed by the light.
I was glad. Fujinomiya didn’t seem to be angry. I would hate it if she never spoke to me after this. Oh, well. I was given the okay to do the same thing on the Ferris wheel.
When I opened my eyes, I was greeted by broad daylight and a soft touch on my face.
“Saotome-senpai, I’ve always liked you… Aaah!”
All of a sudden, a girl’s scream drove into my ear. The cause: me.
I was under the big sakura tree in the backyard, the confession spot on campus. It seemed that I had suddenly appeared and apparently interrupted a confession.
And just like that, my face was buried in the girl’s chest.
Well, it wasn’t like I intended that. The girl did already run away, though, so it couldn’t be helped. They were screaming “pervert!” or something along those lines. I should probably get out of here as soon as possible. As I got up to leave—
“Uh, you there, wait.”
The guy, who had been confessed to, stopped me.
He was a good-looking guy. Enviable height, silky-straight russet-colored hair. A sharp and well-defined face, enough to make the girls in school fuss over him.
As I was staring at Saotome-senpai, he gave me a warm smile.
“Did you just appear out of nowhere just now…? It looked that way to me, at least.”
He was right, but it wasn’t like I was going to tell him that.
“It’s just your imagination. I’m in a hurry.”
Again, he stopped me.
“Look, there’s something on you.”
Saotome-senpai elegantly took a petal from my shoulder and showed it to me.
“A sakura petal? Weird, isn’t it? This tree is already nothing but leaves.
Looking above me, I saw fresh green leaves sprouting on the branches of a large tree. There was no trace of the sakura anywhere.
“Right. So they must be from somewhere else.”
I snatched the sakura petal from Saotome-senpai and fled the scene.
While running, I checked the date and time on my phone. It was noon on Monday. More precisely, it was two weeks later. Fifteen days and sixteen hours of lost Time. As I had said, don’t underestimate a virgin.
As I was walking down the hallway, my homeroom teacher unfortunately found me and took me straight to the student guidance office. I was given a warning about my unexcused absences and that my school credits were in danger of being lost because I had missed so many classes. I was also asked about what happened to my summer vacation homework, since I was the only one who hadn’t turned it in, and more. When I was finally released, lunch was over. I felt that so much Time had been wasted then.
When I left the student guidance office, I noticed that Fujinomiya was waiting right next to the door, surprising me. At the same time, I couldn’t help but to blush as I remembered the feeling of her lips on mine. For Fujinomiya, that was sixteen days ago, but for me, it was only an hour ago.
“You’re such an idiot. I can’t believe you sacrificed your own Time in order to save me.”
It was Black Fujinomiya.
However, this time, I didn’t see her black aura. She was fiddling with her hair and fidgeting nervously, looking similar to when she “confessed” to me. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me, and she had an oddly endearing charm to her. And, it was the first time that I had seen her with a ponytail at school.
“I don’t care how you use it. It’s my time, after all.”
Immediately, Fujinomiya’s face strained, and tears welled up in her eyes.
“W-Why…!? I stole your summer vacation and now… you do this!”
She was nearly weeping, but her cries stopped there. Shaking her head, Fujinomiya thrusted the sand-filled Adams at me, her face completely red.
“…Take back your fifteen days and sixteen hours. I can’t accept all this Time you took from yourself to save me.”
“Since you owe me all that Time…”
Fujinomiya looked up in curiosity.
And declining the hourglass, I spoke with a straight face.
“I need help with my summer homework. I’m in deep trouble.”
TL: Hi, it’s ucali here. I’m tired. Hope there aren’t too many mistakes in here.