Prove Your Eternal Love. There Shall Be No Heroine Correction. - Chapter 1 The Taste Of First Kiss
- Prove Your Eternal Love. There Shall Be No Heroine Correction.
- Chapter 1 The Taste Of First Kiss
I jumped up from the bed. My heart beating incessantly, my breath uneven. My sweats from the night clung onto my pajamas. I’ve just had a bad dream. I quickly turned over the candy can on my bedside table and popped a lemon candy into my mouth to cover the unforgettable taste of the mint.
As I put my dizzy head back on the pillow, the alarm clock started to ring. Oops, I overslept. I hurriedly got out of bed and started my day.
As I walked out the door after getting ready for the morning, the sun’s bright rays blinded my sleep-deprived eyes.
At the same time, a girl came into view. Our eyes met, and she smiled like a flower blooming.
“Ah, good morning, Suguru-san! You’re later than usual. I was worried about you.”
A cute kouhai came running up to me, shaking her lightly pigmented short hair and bright red ribbon. She was about to hug me, so I took a half step back to get away from her.
Then, below eye level, about a head lower, she puffed out her cheeks in dissatisfaction.
“Why did you take a step back!”
“Listen, Nagisa. People usually have a sense of distance that is appropriate for their relationship. What is the relationship between us now?”
“We’re a couple who just started dating.”
“Don’t just spit out a blatant lie.”
“A man and a woman.”
“Right, keep an appropriate distance, but don’t keep the distance in a way that could cause a lot of misunderstanding. Okay? We’re just a senpai and a kouhai in the same senior high.”
She was like this all the time, even though it has been almost three months since we started school. I thought that she would soon get bored as soon as she moved on to senior high, but I may have underestimated her persistent feelings a bit.
“Mmm. Then again. Suguru-senpai, good morning! Yes, this is fine, right?”
“Yeah, good morning, Nagisa. And I’m sorry for making you wait. I’m not making any promises to be on time, and you don’t have to wait for me every day like a loyal dog.”
The name of the energetic kouhai walking next to me was Tokiwa Nagisa.
Last fall, ever since I broke up with her older sister, Tokiwa Minagi, Nagisa has been faithfully waiting for me every morning before school. It has been more than eight months now. She has done the same on windy days like today, on rainy days, and even on snowing days.
“I don’t want to go ahead. It would be a pity to leave the heartbroken Suguru-senpai alone, wouldn’t it?”
“Heartbreak, that was a long time ago—Fuah.”
In the middle of talking, I let out a yawn. I’ve been sleeping less than four hours for many
nights lately, but last night was particularly bad.
“Mmm. Suguru-senpai, you have dark circles around your eyes. Are you already preparing for the final exam? Finals are the week after next and you’re doing this much already. You might end up being a doctor or a lawyer!”
“You’re thinking too much into it. Unfortunately, I’ve already decided that my dream is to become a civil servant.”
“Mmm-hmm. Stability, that sounds good. After all, the best thing is to keep everything the same. That seemed to be a safe way to live with Suguru-senpai.”
Nagisa put her school bag behind her back and nodded to herself. She imagined a picture of her future with me as if it were a matter of course, but I had never made such a promise before.
“It’s not about stability, it’s just that I think it suits me. A civil servant is expected to follow the right process rather than brilliant results. The process is more important than the results. You see, I fit right in.”
“Huh. Suguru-senpai, you’re still the same.”
She stared at me in dismay similar to how Minagi does it. That was all it took for the taste of mint to rise my throat, and I was momentarily at a loss for words.
“Ah. If you’re focusing on the process, that means that Suguru-senpai is more interested in going to school with me than getting there, right? If that’s the case, I’ll skip school today and have a date with you!”
“That’s no longer going to school. While we are talking about this — you know, not jaywalking when you’re running late, that kind of thing.”
The green light that had finished flashing in front of us turned red. Although we knew that there would be almost no cars on the road, we still stopped, keeping our feet still.
“Is that really all? You know, you always take a detour on that road.”
“That road was dangerous because the visibility is so bad. I heard there were a few accidents there recently.”
I often use that road when I’m by myself. But with Nagisa, we have to go to the normal route.
“Also…I guess there is also studying? Well, uhmm. You see, Nagisa, studying is all about the accumulation of things you do regularly, and the high score you get by hurriedly cramming before an exam is meaningless.”
Nagisa made a stern, serious face and a low voice like a stubborn person.
“You’re right, but are you imitating me now?”
“Yes, that’s right. Do I look like you?”
“No, not at all. You’re not very observant, you know. You’re not very good at mimicry and drawing either. I still haven’t gotten rid of the funny picture you drew of me in the picture game when we were young. It was so hilarious that I thought it was a Sumatran elephant, even though I felt attacked with that Sumatran elephant.”
“Eh, why did you keep my work of shame? Please throw it away! Come on, go home right now, while I watch you! After that, it’s just the two of us, skipping school and having a wild rendezvous—”
“Wait, wait, wait, don’t make up some mysterious schedule on your own.”
I wavered as I tried to avoid Nagisa who was closing in on me. My legs staggered and I almost hit a telephone pole.”Whoa,” I said, letting the words escape my lips as I reached out and steadied myself.
“Um um, Are you okay? You need to get some sleep, okay? I’m worried about you, so please, hold my hand tightly.”
With a slight blush on her cheeks, Nagisa reached out her hand to me. I could feel my heart palpitating just from that. But I would not take her hand.
“It’s not going to happen if you try to get me to hold hands in the heat of the moment. I’ve told you many times, you and I have a normal relationship.”
“I’ve heard that earlier. …Muu. Suguru-san is a meany. I worked so hard to get into the same school, but I’m not satisfied with just moving up the ranks from being an acquaintance.”
Nagisa sniffed and pouted her lips in frustration.
Our relationship has changed drastically since last year. First, I went from being her sister’s boyfriend to bringing her sister’s ex-boyfriend. The distance between us, based on our awkwardly arranged acquaintance, became a little closer when she passed her entrance exam, and we became senpai and kouhai.
“Well, it’s true that you did well to raise the level of your school of choice at the last minute and get in.”
“Right. That’s right. I think there should be more rewards for my hard work!”
Nagisa swung her fist around. I hoped she would calm down for a minute.
“No, that’s why I brought you to a cake buffet to celebrate your acceptance. Don’t tell me you forgot that you ate so much that you even filled another stomach.”
“Well, I do have a separate stomach, you know. But that’s not the point, you see…”
Her demeanor has changed from the energetic look she had earlier, and she begins to shyly knead her index finger in front of her pleated skirt. Oh, here it comes. I braced myself.
“…I want to move up in the ranks and become lovers with Suguru-san.”
I don’t even know how many times she has confessed to me.
The first time was last winter, on Christmas Eve. The second time was right after winter break, on the day of the first snowfall. Since then, it has been a regular exchange between us, repeated many times.
So the response slipped smoothly off my tongue.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t accept your confession.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve said that either.
My heart thudded. I could hear my heart pounding against my chest plate from the inside, screaming at me, to be honest.
I had already fallen in love with Tokiwa Nagisa. Probably since her seventh confession on the day of her acceptance. Ever since then, when I walk next to her, my heart beats fast.
I wanted to accept her confession right now. I know that was the natural course of events. But I’ve told her no so many times. I just couldn’t be in a relationship with her now. Because I can’t go out with her this way.
“Is…that so? I understand. You still can’t forget about Onee-chan.”
There are many similarities between her and Minagi in her healthy figure with good skin. The shape of their nose, the angle of their eyelashes, and the timing at which they look at me.
What Nagisa said was one hundred percent correct. Even now, more than half a year later, I still can’t forget the mint taste. I shed so many tears and thought I had moved on from Minagi. I’m attracted to Nagisa now, but even so, I still have feelings for Minagi.
If I go out with Nagisa like this, it would only make her feel uneasy. She’s a lot like Minagi, and that’s why it was even more important. Nagisa would think that she was a substitute for her sister, or that I will have a hard time remembering Nagisa as a unique individual. That was why, in order for us to go out properly, Minagi’s shadow was one I must overcome.
“But, Suguru-san, if one day you don’t care about my sister anymore, it means that you would accept my confession!”
Her carefree smile was dazzling. Ah, how energetic this girl is. Every time I reject her, her presence grows in my mind. I forced myself to look away from her eyes, took a breath, and pretended to be calm.
“I guess, maybe. And it should be Suguru-senpai, not Suguru-san.”
“That part of Suguru-senpai is really a pain.”
“I would rather cherish and nurture that part of myself though.”
Shirase Suguru is really a pain. I know it myself. In the first place, I have no intention of responding to her confession, because I was going to confess to her myself.
If I want to be able to forget about Minagi, I have to be able to confess to Nagisa myself. It was when the number of times Nagisa confessed to me reached double digits that I made up my mind to do so.
Nagisa had been pursuing me, and I had been avoiding her. The result of our relationship may be the same. But in order for us to have an equal relationship, I needed to be the one to confess instead of responding to her confession. It was to show her that I didn’t give in to my past with Minagi, but that I made the choice of my own accord. Such a process was necessary for us.
“Haaa. How did I fall in love with such a troublesome person? But I did anyway.”
“…Don’t you ever just give up?”
Goodness, I don’t know why my mouth was churning out all these lines. But even though I reacted in such a lame way, Tokiwa Nagisa still gave me the same smile.
“Fufu, You don’t have to worry about it. My feelings for Suguru-san are not going to disappear so easily.”
My heart thumped painfully against my chest. I couldn’t take it anymore, and my feet stopped.
“? What is it, Suguru-senpai?”
Nagisa turned around and smiled with her cheeks softening. Why did she have to look so cute and sweet?
I want to keep seeing that smile. I also want to move on to the next relationship together with Nagisa. My swollen feelings for Nagisa are about to break down, which was why I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Before I knew it, I was thinking about how to confess my feelings to Nagisa, and even now, I find myself about to confess.
“Nagisa…well, confession, I mean…uh, no, you know, what kind of situation would you like to be confessed in?”
But in the end, Minagi’s shadow stood in the way, and I couldn’t take the next step. I still can’t shake off the taste of the mint. I started to move my feet again, hiding my muttered voice. One moment later, Nagisa also returned to my side with light steps.
“What’s up all of a sudden? Well…For me, I long for a world where it was just the two of us. Just looking at each other in an empty space, as if we are the only ones in the world. For example, it would be nice to be in a high place while looking at the scenery. What about you, Suguru-senpai?”
Nagisa tilted her head innocently. I crossed my arms and pondered for a while. I’d be happy in any situation if Nagisa confessed to me. How laughable I am, being happy when she confessed to me, yet I rejected her each time. As I lowered my eyes to my watch, I saw the longhand approach in an unexpected direction.
“Oops. Nagisa, before we know it, it’s almost time. Let’s run. We’ll be late for our usual train.”
“Wait, Suguru-se—senpai! Please don’t leave me here! Ah goodness!”
Nagisa pouted out her cheeks as she chased after me. This was the relationship we have now.
『Shirase Suguru-sama. I have something very important to tell you. I’ll be waiting for you on the rooftop during today’s lunch break.』
At the back of the classroom, I was holding my head in my seat by the window, there was a row of small round letters. I had a hunch when I saw the light pink envelope in my shoebox. I wondered if this was a love letter. I spread the lemon candy in my mouth with my tongue and reconfirmed that this was the unshakeable reality.
The problem was that there was no name of the sender. I had no idea who it belonged to. In the first place, I didn’t know any girls. There was no one who would take the trouble to play a prank on me. …Wait, no, there is. There is one person I should be suspicious of. I opened up my messaging app and quickly typed in a few words.
『Did you put a letter in my shoebox?』
『Uhhhh, what are you talking about?』
Nagisa replied right away. A picture of a black cat with a hatchet on its head appeared on the screen. What…the heck is this one? Is she playing dumb, or does she really not know?
『On the roof at lunchtime, that one.』
The message was marked as read, but there was no response. It was not that I needed to know now since I’ll know by lunchtime, but I was somehow hoping that this letter would be from Nagisa.
I let out a sigh of uncontrollable emotion and carefully folded the letter and tucked it into my chest pocket.
“Oh…Suguru! Open that window right now!”
One of my few friends, Sasakura Sakuma, who ran into the classroom, shouted at me.
“Eh? What’s with you all of the sudden?
“Just hurry up! The direction of today’s wind, its strength, the structure of the classroom. My Neumann-grade brain, which has calculated everything, is telling me now is the moment!”
I quickly opened the window behind me after a desperate urge from him. And then…a powerful gust blows in. It’s a nice breeze that reminds me of the beginning of summer. I had no idea what to expect at that time. And soon I would find out what I had been a part of.
Aogashima Yuno had just walked into the classroom. She was the most beautiful girl in our class, in our grade, or even in our school. She was on a different dimension, with perfect beauty to the point of being frightening, a gesture of admirable refinement, and a quiet personality that could be described as mysterious.
In addition to this, she was also a good example of a person who was able to make a difference in the lives of others.
The moment I thought, “Oh no.” Bam! The window was closed by someone’s hand. It was a close call. Damn it, that man… I was so relieved when I looked up.
One of the girls was looking down at me coldly. I instantly understood the situation. Her golden ponytail swaying, she was Kuroiwa Aika. She has dazzling blonde hair, sharp eyes, and a worn uniform. As her appearance suggested, she has a strong personality, and no one can go against her. She was in contrast to Aogashima-san, but somehow they seemed to get along well, and Kuroiwa was always by her side, like Aogashima-san’s royal guard.
“Shirase, you, that wind was on purpose. Are you ready to get beat?”
“Wait a minute, Aika. I didn’t expect this either. The mastermind was that guy over there with his arms folded.”
I quickly pushed my friend under the bus. When I pointed it out to her, Sakuma, who had failed his objective, winced. Aogashima-san, who was supposed to be the victim, did not seem to be bothered at all and was opening a paperback book in her seat.
Aika cleared her throat, grabbed Sakuma by the collar and pulled him down the hallway. After that.
“S-S-Sorry, guuuhhh, waaaah! Please understand the limits of my joints, AHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
And more than ten other painful sounds were played for two minutes. When I went to check on him, I found that he had collapsed and Aika was dragging him away. I couldn’t help but let out a “wow” at the sight of his painful form, and then my eyes met with Aika’s.
“So. Shirase… Did you really want to see Yuno’s panties too?”
“No, like I said before, I…”
She didn’t care about my explanation, Kuroiwa put her arm around my shoulder and whispered in my ear.
“Come on, be honest. Don’t you want to get rid of those things? That’s why, Shirase Suguru. Ignore that letter and do something nice with me, okay?”
The warm breath that touched my earlobe, and her fingers that touched my chest, made my body tremble softly.
Kuroiwa Aika. She has a flamboyant appearance, a habit of skipping school, and a history of going out with guys and then breaking up with them. The title she’s been given is “a hundred battle-hardened slayer”. Apparently, I’m her next target.
“W-What are you talking about? I’ll pass.”
When I looked away and replied, she pushed me toward Sakuma with a click of her tongue.
“…Sh*t. I won’t let you f*ck me even if you cry about it later.”
Waving the back of her hand dismissively, Kuroiwa walked back to the classroom alone.
“No, what the heck was that…?”
As I muttered behind Kuroiwa’s back, I suddenly felt strange. How did Kuroiwa know I had a letter? Besides, the way she called me by my first name, seemed to be somewhat odd…
I was a little curious about her behavior, but my priority was to save Sakuma, who hadn’t moved a muscle since a while ago. I lent my shoulders to him and somehow managed to get him to sit in his seat — the seat next to me.
“Sakuma, you’ve been through a terrible time. Although, you totally deserved it.”
“I don’t care about it, Suguru. I’m willing to take that risk.”
“No, did you know about the risk before you went on…?”
“More importantly, you were invited by Kuroiwa. I was also invited while being strangled in the hallway. I didn’t realize that the rumors of ‘a hundred battle-hardened slayer’ were true.”
“What kind of an invitation is that, especially while choking you? Also that’s even worse than the rumors say.”
“Well, it was an exchange of sorts if I gave up on Aogashima-san, so of course I refused. I’m not such a cheap guy. I’m not going to stop until the day I win Aogashima-san’s heart over.”
“The result was a skirt-flipping that made unnecessary use of your cleverness…”
“I mean, Aogashima-san is the flower of the high mountains, isn’t she? No man or woman, except Kuroiwa, could approach her. The only way I could approach her was to lift her skirt.”
No, there are other things, aren’t there? I looked in Aogashima-san’s direction as I had a silent tsukkomi in my mind. She seemed to be nodding her head as Kuroiwa showed her some kind of cat video.
As Sakuma said, Aogashima-san was a flower that blooms on the high mountains, or rather, at the edge of the universe. No one but Kuroiwa would know what she was like inside. I couldn’t even imagine what she’s thinking, how she looks when she’s happy, or how she laughs.
“Haa. Suguru, you’re so lucky because you have a kouhai who’s crazy about you. I caught a glimpse of you two in the distance this morning, but you two were still as lovey-dovey as ever. Just get together already.”
“It’s not like that with Nagisa…but did it look like it?”
I knew it was the usual teasing complaint, but I couldn’t go through with it today like I usually did.
“Mmm? No. You’re still a dull man, you know that? I really don’t know how you can stand it. You’re still acting calmly even after being hit by that ‘I love you’ ray.”
“You know…it’s bad if you mislead people.”
I can’t express my feelings well, and my speech ends up muffled.
I felt guilty about getting Nagisa’s hopes up. That’s why I couldn’t promise to go out with her until I was over Minagi. It would be selfish to give her a guarantee and make her wait in return. I want to be equal with her so that I don’t make her feel uneasy when we get together someday.
“…Haa, I knew you two were lovey-dovey. Just from the way you just said, ‘It’s bad’.”
“No, what’s wrong with what I said?”
In response to my question, Sakuma grinned and didn’t answer. Damn it, you’re pissing me off.
“Could it be that she’s similar to your ex-girlfriend? Are you still reeling from that?”
She’s her sister by blood, but I don’t need to tell him that.
“Well, I’ve only seen her in pictures, but she was really beautiful. It’s really a miracle. You must have worked really hard in your second year of junior high. What kind of killer words did you use to confess your love to her?”
“Shut up and don’t say any more.”
Sakuma was not a bad guy. It was just that he was a little bit deadly unpredictable. So I took out the can from my chest pocket and put candy into his mouth to shut him up.
“Fuga, Hogo. Oh, lemon today, huh? I’ve heard that the first kiss tastes like lemon, but what does it really taste like?”
The flavor of the candies I carried with me was based on my mood the day before. Last night, I chose lemon flavor from the used drop cans in my room, but I should have gone with grape flavor.
“Anyway, someone else was going to get that cute girl if you left her alone. You know, there’s a rumor going around these days about a person named ‘Ocupid-sama’ who can bring you luck in love.”
“Ocu…What was it?”
When I raised my eyebrows at the unfamiliar word, Sakuma responded with confidence.
“You really don’t know much about these things, man. There’s a rumor going around the school right now. If you draw a magic circle on the floor with red chalk and summon Ocupid-sama in the storage room at the back of the club building, you’re sure to get married to the person you like. That’s why the guy who secretly has a crush on your kouhai might beat you to it. In fact, I might even try it myself. And with Aogashima-san…”
“No, it’s always…best to make a steady effort and not rely on that shady rumor. There’s no such thing as skipping the process and just getting the result.”
“Shut up. You’re really full of these things.”
“It’s okay for me to speak up. I’m not going to bend myself to my friend’s will. It’s the process that matters.”
What happens to a person who neglects the process? I’ve been in the front row, so I know about it.
It may be good while the results are coming in. But as soon as you lose those results, you have nothing left. As soon as you stop, you lose sight of the path you came from. You will be forced to keep wandering, looking away from yourself, empty and without anything.
That was why I’ve decided to value the process above all else.
“Haha, well, guess that’s what makes you Suguru. You seem to be talking about something sophisticated, but in the end, it’s always about the process. You’re quite simple in a way.”
Sakuma slapped me hard on the back. The pain made me come back from my thoughts.
Yeah, he was right.
It was not like me to overthink things. The most important thing for me was obvious.
I’m attracted to Nagisa. That was the result. Then, what process did I go through to be attracted to her? I went out with Minagi, and then we broke up. That was the beginning. Nagisa was always next to me when I was heartbroken, and she was so energetic and cute. She also had to work hard at her studies, which she was not good at, in order to be in the same senior high as me.
It was all a necessary process. It doesn’t matter if I can’t get over Minagi or the taste of mint. In fact, in order to get over it, I should accept the past in its entirety and go out with Nagisa.
As if to show that my decision was correct, the main bell rang. I glanced at my phone, and before I knew it, Nagisa had replied.
『I remembered.』『That was me.』『I put it in there yesterday after school.』『If it is okay Suguru-senpai, can we meet on the roof during lunch break?』
I managed to keep my smirking cheeks to myself and gently put my hand on the letter in my chest pocket. Just the two of us, on the rooftop, at lunchtime. It was the perfect place for a confession.
During class, my mind was not at rest. No matter how many times they took the red ball out of the box, no matter how many times the old woman pulled out her hair, no matter how many times the glorious empire collapsed, my mind was always thinking about Nagisa. If I went out with Nagisa, where would we go and what would we do? For now, I want to hold her hand. I want to hug her. I think it might be a little too early for a kiss, though. And I want to be with her not only in the morning like before, but also after school. Even lunch.
That was what I thought. I was going to confess there. But now I am not on the roof, but rather in the opposite direction — in front of an open warehouse. Nagisa is currently inside this warehouse.
Right after morning classes, I happened to see Nagisa walking down the stairs with an urgent look on her face. I wondered where she was going when she had an appointment with me. I followed her secretly and found out that her destination was this old room, where even the word “ware” in the warehouse had faded.
I remembered the rumor about “Okcupid-sama”, a person who always brings the person they love together with them. It was only this morning that I heard the rumor from Sakuma.
“Anyway, I know don’t what you’re doing, Nagisa, but—”
The light in the room gradually leaked out, and as I stepped into the four-and-a-half tatami room, I was greeted by a strange sight. A bright red magic circle was on the floor. Nagisa was nowhere to be found, and in her place was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed child. In addition, he was sitting on a pipe chair completely naked. The sight was too mismatched.
The child’s face was as beautiful and neutral as a plaster statue, reminiscent of Cupid as often seen in paintings. If I looked closely, I could see translucent wings on his back, moving slowly.
I put a lemon candy in my mouth to see if it tasted sour. It seemed that this sight was not a dream but…what is this absurd child? Where is Nagisa, who was supposed to have entered just a few minutes ago?
“Hello, Shirase Suguru-san. Welcome aboard! Now, please come this way!”
The child smiled affectionately in a fluent and polite tone that did not match his appearance. At the same time, my alertness jumped to the highest level. Nagisa who disappeared. A child who knows my name.
“Oh, what’s wrong, Shirase-san? Yes, are you wondering why I know your name when we’ve never met before? The answer is simple. Because I am an angel. I not only know your name, I know everything.”
“Angel…? No, what do you mean? Don’t tell me you’re ‘Ocupido-sama’?”
Without taking my hand off the knob, I answer. The self-proclaimed angel smiled innocently and snapped his fingers. As if being pulled, my legs started to move on their own, and I was made to stand in the middle of the magic circle. At the same time, the door behind me slammed shut by itself, cutting off my escape.
As the strangeness continued, I can’t help but come to a realization. Something unreal was happening in this place right now.
“As you may have guessed, I am ‘Okupid-sama’ — the angel Cupid.”
“…I knew it. Was Nagisa the one who summoned you? Where did she disappear to?”
“She’s already finished her entry and is on her way out.”
“Entry? She already left? That door is the only way in and out, right?”
It made even less sense. I hadn’t seen Nagisa come out of the warehouse. The angel smiled at my confusion, looking calm and beautiful.
“No. This place is already connected to another place. More importantly, you are very lucky. After all, you can participate in the Confession Quartet.
“Participate…Isn’t it different from saying that you will always end up with the person you love?”
“Yes. I’m the one who started the rumor. It seemed that the rumor had been exaggerated…but summoning me was just a procedure to start the quartet.
“So, in the end, umm…What is this quartet?”
In response to my question, the angel happily spread his arms as wide as he could. And then, at the top of his voice, he declared.
“It’s a wonderful game that will help you achieve your love life!”
Achieve your love life…Is it? I don’t need such a thing. Nagisa and I have feelings for each other, and all I have to do is to confess my feelings.
“Well, well, Shirase-san. You may think you don’t need it. …But I told you, didn’t I? I know everything about you. I know that you have painful memories of lost love in your heart. So here’s my advice. Shirase-san. If you don’t listen to me…you will definitely lose something important to you.”
The look in his eyes was so intense that it was disproportionate to his soft face. It was a threat that I would lose something important. This angel has a mysterious power, so I can’t choose to ignore her here. With an unpleasant premonition in my heart, I silently sat down on the pipe chair that had appeared in front of me. The angel was satisfied and put one hand on his chest and bowed reverently.
“Well then, Shirase Suguru-san. I’ll explain it to you now. As I mentioned earlier, the goal of this game, Confession Quartet, is to achieve love — or more accurately, to have a relationship with the target.
“Target? …Means the person you like?”
Nagisa’s face came to my mind as I asked, and Cupid smiled ambiguously.
“Yes, many people will declare that they have a crush on someone, whether it’s a cool senpai or a childhood friend with whom they get into fights a lot. However, you don’t necessarily have to like them. For example, it could be an idol on the other side of the TV or a rich lady whose name you don’t even know. You are free to choose anyone, no matter how different your age or position. Of course—you can only choose one person, though.”
Cupid said with a big smile on his face and continued the explanation.
“There will be four participants. The duration is three weeks. You will be approaching the target while going about your normal lives. The winner will be the one who confesses to the target and succeeds the quickest, in other words, the one who starts a relationship. So it’s a confession competition with four participants!”
Only the one who is the fastest to get together with the target within the time period wins. The rest lose. The rules are simple, but… As if reading my mind as I pondered on the spot, Cupid whispered to me.
“Please don’t worry. Naturally, there are advantages to participating. That is the special ability I am about to explain to you, and the reward for the winner.”
At the same time, his finger snaps again. A large office desk appeared between us, followed by a small vending machine filled with capsules and a normal-sized deck of cards.
“Each participant is given a special ability that would not be possible in reality. In a nutshell, there are two types of abilities: ‘skills’, which are determined randomly, and ‘trump cards’, which can be chosen according to one’s type. …I say that, but it’s hard to imagine it, isn’t it? Then, for example…”
Cupid turns the handle with a clatter. Twisting open the red capsule that had fallen into the outlet, Cupid opened the piece of paper inside for me to see. The words on it were
【Can Be Used Once A Day: Chance to Talk With The Target Alone.】
“With this skill, you don’t need to dare to lure your target out or wait for a coincidence to get close to them. There are various other skills available, but no matter what you get, you would have the advantage to better achieve your love life compared to normal”
I see. If you have such special abilities, you may be able to achieve success in difficult love situations. This would certainly be a big advantage of participating.
But this was not important to me. Perhaps the next piece of information was worth noting. Seeing the change in my gaze, Cupid grinned and spread his arms wide again.
“And then! As for the winner’s reward, those targets and participants who successfully got together will be ‘Engaged’!”
With a bad feeling in my heart, I repeated the term Cupid had used.
‘Yes, this is great, isn’t it? Don’t be surprised, okay? The two of you who become Engaged…will be united in eternal love!
I was horrified. The hair on my body was sticking up. I was not able to describe the feeling of rejection that swirled in my chest.
“…Eternal love, you say?”
“Yes, yes! Eternal love. No matter what happens, no matter what hardships come your way, you two will never change your mind, you two will remain absolutely happy together, and you two will never part. You will always be with your beloved one, how can you not call this the greatest happiness!”
With a big smile on his face, I responded with silence.
Eternal love was two words that sounded good but were completely unrealized.
I once said to Minagi, that the process of striving for eternal love is what makes it meaningful.
Time flies. You, your partner, and your environment change. But it was a lie that only love remained unchanged in the same form. It was a bullsh*t that skipped the process and only mended the result. The guarantee that you will never be separated was just a restraint.
I know that love is something that fades, something that disappears. That’s why I have to make an effort for love not to change. That’s part of what love is.
That’s why I can’t accept it at all. The next thing I knew, I was on my feet, knocking over a pipe chair, pointing punishingly at the smirking angel in front of me, glaring at him.
“Don’t be silly. I don’t want a piece of your eternal love.”
I raised my voice, but Cupid didn’t seem to be in surprise and gave me a grin.
“Ah, come on, let’s be honest, Shirase-san. You still have feelings for her in your heart. If you can regain the love you lost with your ex-girlfriend…Tokiwa Minagi, and make it eternal, you won’t have to go through the pain again, would you?”
Minagi’s expression when they broke up came into my mind, along with the taste of mint. The memory that has not yet faded still continued to haunt me. Still, my answer remained the same.
In the middle of my heart was filled with a cute kouhai who is always waiting for me, smiling at me, and who likes me.
“Look, Cupid. I’m not going to reverse my past choices. Minagi and I broke up. It’s because of this process that I am the person I am today — the person who loves Nagisa.”
Cupid furrowed his brow and gave me a deliberate sigh.
“…Haaa, Shirase-san, aren’t you very troublesome?”
“Didn’t you know? That’s one of my strengths. I’m sorry, but I’m going to leave now.”
I turned on my heel without hesitation and walked over the fallen pipe chair on my tip toe. The moment I put my hand on the doorknob to leave, I heard a voice call out.
“Shirase-san. Of course, I knew that. I know that you are passionate about Tokiwa Nagisa and her personality. Therefore, I’ll ask you again. Are you sure you don’t want to enter? …Aren’t you forgetting one important thing?”
The cold-hearted tone of his voice gave me chills. The unpleasant feeling I had been feeling for a long time was combined with my anger.
That’s right. I’ve heard that Nagisa has already entered this “Confession Quartet”.
If she wins, she’ll get eternal love. The game has a huge return. Then, of course, isn’t there a certain amount of risk involved? I slowly turned around and asked Cupid.
“What happens if one loses…?”
“Don’t worry. If you lose, your love will never have happened. All the memories and records in the world will be rewritten, and your relationship with the target will be reset to the state it was in before you fell in love. In other words, the sad memories of unrequited love will disappear. Voila, you’ll be happy either way, right?”
Cupid tilted his head deliberately and raised the corner of his mouth in a smirk.
It never happened in the first place?
I didn’t understand what he meant. What’s so happy about that?
“…Can’t you rescind Nagisa’s participation?”
“No, once you enter, you can never get out.”
My heart starts racing and cold sweat runs down my back. The incandescent light bulb flickered on and off, making a buzzing sound. Forgetting to even blink, I let my thoughts wander.
But no matter how many times I think about it, this situation is bad.
Nagisa likes me. There was no way she wouldn’t go out of her way to win the heart of the troublesome Shirase Suguru, who wouldn’t accept her confession. She’s probably targeting me without even realizing that I had already fallen for her.
“Well, even if I could cancel it, I’m sure that the person who entered without a moment’s hesitation wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say.”
Cupid was absolutely right. Nagisa was that kind of girl. She was both naive and yet rash at times. Once she made up her mind, she couldn’t stop thinking about it and was just stubborn enough to not give up.
How can we be so different?
I can’t accept eternal love. And yet, if I don’t accept her confession, her love for me will disappear. My relationship with her will be wiped out and rewind to the time before she fell in love with me. My love, which was now for her, will be taken along with her.
“Well. What should you do, Shirase-san? The information of the ‘Confession Quartet’ is confidential. If you don’t enter the game, I will erase your memory. Of course, if you do participate, after the game is over, regardless of whether you win or lose, all memories and records related to the game will be adjusted to make it all add up, so please bear with it.”
“…So no matter what I do, all that’s left is the result.”
Whether I participate or not, I will eventually forget about this game. Then the whole process disappears, and only the result remains. “Confession Quartet” — it’s a sh*tty game that went against all my principles. Still, I couldn’t ignore this game anymore.
There was no time for regret, no time for fear. I have to confront this game. Only I could change the bad ending that I cannot accept.
“…Hey, Cupid. You said it. You said that if I don’t listen, I’ll lose something important. Then it should be there. A way for my wish will come true…a way to keep Nagisa and me together.”
Cupid grinned, then smiled, and snapped his fingers, “Good, you know what I mean.” At that moment, a card flew out of a bundle on the desk and landed in my hand.
“What’s this? That says something …【Loser】What the hell is this? Are you kidding me?”
“No? It’s quite serious. That’s the ‘trump card’ I just explained to you, Shirase-san.”
I went back to the desk and opened up the other cards and fished through them. Other words on the 20 or so cards included “Color Trick,” “Clever Trap,” and “Fearless.”
“The word indicates the type of the trump card. You can use it to find the trump card that suits you best, but this time I have especially given you the trump card that you need — the ‘Loser’ trump card. If you have no objections, please take a look at the card in your hand.”
When I returned my gaze to the card in my right hand, the word 【Loser】 disappeared like a blot and was replaced.
“【Target Change】—I see. So this is the effect of the trump card. So what part of this is going to serve my purpose?”
Cupid smiled in a cat-like voice, while I was trying to suppress my frustration.
“The trump card can be used by anyone other than the owner, as long as they hold it up and say it in their head. Therefore, there are some interesting developments in the late game, such as the battle for the card that can turn the tide—”
“So you’re saying that you’re going to let Nagisa use this instead of me?”
There was only one thing that needed to be solved in this game. Nagisa has me as her target. I needed to convince Nagisa to use this trump card and change her target to someone other than me. That way, even if the game was over, my relationship with Nagisa would not be affected.
“Yes. You’re right. However, the trump card is powerful and cannot be used casually, so be careful. The conditions of use are written on the back, so make sure you check them properly, okay?”
I nodded, but quickly put the trump card in my pocket without even a glance. Right now, I wanted to see Nagisa’s face as soon as possible.
“…So, the skills are random, right? I’ll just have to spin that.”
I grabbed the handle without hesitation and turned it vigorously. And then… unlike before, a golden capsule was ejected. Could this color be the jackpot?
“Ooh! You drew a good skill! It’s an SSR!”
Cupid noisily clanged a handbell that I didn’t know where he got it from. I twisted the capsule open and took out the piece of paper inside, breathed in, and meditated. My hands were shaking as I slowly unfolded the paper. That’s right. The skills I would acquire here would make a huge difference in my actions in the game.
Hopefully, it would be a skill that would match my purpose.
The outdated incandescent light bulb was buzzing again, and I felt a slight flicker of light coming from outside my eyelids. I exhaled slowly and opened my eyes.
The string of words that jumped out at me was—
【You Can Give One Command To The Person You Kiss. The Other Person Carries Out The Command.】
【However, If Someone Kisses You Instead, You Have To Carry Out One Of Their Command.】
“…Haha. This is a disaster. It’s a useless skill.”
It was not that the skill was weak. In fact, it was too strong. The ability to make someone do anything you want just by kissing them. Too bad I won’t use it. It was a skill I can’t use because it went against my principles.
A skill that would serve my purpose better than anything else. All I had to do was kiss Nagisa and order her to use my trump card to change the target, and everything would be back to normal. And yet, instead of taking the shortest route in front of me, I’m holding up the piece of paper with the skill written on it with a frown.
Perhaps not expecting my reaction, Cupid fiddled with his blond hair with a troubled expression.
“Well, well, that was a very powerful skill, but you don’t like it?”
“Yeah. Unfortunately, I’ll probably never use it. It’s not my way to take shortcuts.”
“I see. Then, let’s get back on track. Please declare your target.”
The target can be anyone other than Nagisa. All I had to do was name a person that came to mind. I somehow chose one of the people I talked about today.
I finished all the formalities and put my hand on the doorknob again, fifteen minutes after I had entered the room. The candy had already melted and disappeared in my mouth.
I put my weight on the door and got out. The wind blew so forcefully that I had to close my eyes. When I lifted my eyelids fearfully, I was greeted by a cloudless sky and Nagisa.
“Ah, Suguru-senpai. You’re early unlike this morning! Are you hungry by any chance?”
“Eh? Ah… I guess so?”
“Then we should start eating right now. …Eh, uh? Suguru-senpai, why are you empty-handed?”
Nagisa quickly held up a vermilion-colored box. Wait, wait, wait. I can’t get my head around the situation. Even if I rubbed my eyes, the fact remains that I was on the rooftop.
Cupid had said that the exit was connected to another place. But I didn’t expect to warp from the warehouse in the corner of the school building to the roof.
I checked my watch, and the second hand had just reached the top, five minutes after twelve o’clock.
I didn’t pay attention to it, but I guess that meant time in that room had stopped… And Nagisa, who entered and left the room first, came here before me and was waiting for me.
Looking curiously, Nagisa lightly combed her hair, which was disheveled by the wind, with a hand comb.
Eventually, I called out her name, “Nagisa,” and stared straight into her eyes. Her cheeks immediately turned bright red as she noticed my strange look, and our eyes drifted away from each other. The gesture was so similar to Minagi’s that my heart started beating strongly.
“W-What’s the matter, Suguru-san? That look you’re giving …I-It’s my lunch, I’m not sharing it with you, okay?”
Nagisa quickly hid her box behind her back. I can hear the mocking words playing in a raspy voice. But I’m sure my following words are the opposite of what she would want to hear.
When I called out again, Nagisa’s shoulders shook exaggeratedly, and she let out a “Hyah!”
“W-What’s the matter, Suguru-senpai? I feel embarrassed when you stare at me like that.”
With her hands crossed in front of her skirt, Nagisa fidgets with her fingers, just as she did this morning when she confessed.
“I-I-I-I I’m not such a cheap woman, you know? I’m not going to easily fall for a confession from my favorite senpai in an ideal situation, you know?”
How can you say that after confessing your feelings so many times? If I tell her how I feel now, she’ll jump for joy and say yes with the biggest smile on her face. But that was a wish that would never come true.
“Let me confirm…did you summon that angel?”
“I-I didn’t. By the time I got into the warehouse…it was already there…E-Eh? What’s that? Suguru-san…how do you know about it?”
Like a cat that has been caught playing a prank, Nagisa’s body trembled. Her face was getting paler. She must have realized where I had been and what I had been doing a while ago. The box had slipped out of her hands.
“Am I the target?”
Stepping back, Nagisa answered frightenedly. Her voice was shaky, but she didn’t seem to be lying.
“You should know this already, Nagisa. I’m now part of the Confession Quartet.”
“Suguru-san, is there someone you like!? Are you trying to get back together with my sister?”
“No. It’s not Minagi that I’m targeting.”
How could this have happened?
I was going to confess my feelings to Nagisa today, right here in this place.
I don’t know why I’m taking such a long way around to do so.
If I had made my decision earlier, maybe this would not have happened.
“Nagisa. Now you know, I will never accept your confession.”
I wonder how she interpreted my statement. She kept her eyes downcast for a couple of seconds, her gaze dim in a way that didn’t suit her, but she didn’t give up hope. It was like the sky waiting for dawn.
“If so, then it’s a declaration of war. It doesn’t matter who Suguru-san likes. In the next three weeks, I’m definitely, absolutely, going to win Suguru-san over!”
One step, two steps, three steps. Nagisa stepped back, spread her arms wide like a small animal scrawling, and declared strongly with a challenging expression.
Immediately after that — after a small jog, she jumped.
And then, just like that, with great vigor, she jumped toward me! No, wait, she’s rushing at me like a boar! Not being able to avoid it, I managed to catch Nagisa and fell down, landing on my back.
At that moment, I felt a slightly cool, yet soft touch.
—I love you.
I thought I heard such a voice.
“…I’m surprised. It really tastes like lemon!”
As she straddled me with a self-satisfied look on her face, I realized that she had kissed me.
Yeah—I should’ve gone with grape flavor if this was going to happen.
There was no time for regrets. I was now immediately in one of the biggest crises of my life.
【However, If Someone Kisses You Instead, You Have To Carry Out One Of Their Command.】
That was the weakness of my skill.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
I quickly moved Nagisa out of the way and she held her mouth as she fled like a rabbit. This is not good.
“N-Nagisa. I’m going to go to the store now, but oh, yes. Do you want me to buy you some dessert? Anything is fine. I’ll buy you anything!”
Now that Nagisa has kissed me, if she confessed her love to me now, I would have no choice but to accept. In other words, Nagisa was going to win, and we would be “engaged”, bound by eternal love.
When I put my hand on the door, Nagisa came up to me and tilted her head.
“Suguru-senpai? What’s wrong with you all of a sudden? I’ve already purchased the dessert. It’s a baked pudding!”
“O-Okay. Then, um…”
“That’s beside the point, Suguru-senpai. I want you to tell me. Who did you target, senpai?”
Her innocent command echoed in my head. My brain felt as if it was melting, and my normal thought process was blocked. Regardless of my intentions, my slightly moistened lips move.
“My target is—”
I was deeply relieved. I was glad that nothing fatal had happened.
But at the same time, as I listened to my own voice echoing in my skull, I thought, ‘This is pretty bad for me.’
“My target is in the same class as me—Kuroiwa Aika.”