Jaku-chara Tomozaki-kun - novelonlinefull.com
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Sat.u.r.day, three days after the incident.
I was now with Hinami at a certain Italian restaurant in Kitayono, in the process of eating the world's most delicious salad.
「This is way too delicious……」
「Fufu. I know, right?」
Forget the pizza and the pasta, I was done in by the starter salad. What a surprise attack. That was sly. Way too sly. I'm happy though.
While enjoying the perfect harmony between the vegetables' natural sweetness and salad dressing, we began a familiar kind of meeting. To tell the truth, I would have liked us to have held the discussion sooner, but for a while Hinami had been preoccupied with bringing things under control. As a result, up until today we hadn't had a proper chance to go over what had happened.
「Still, that ended up being pretty messy, huh……」
For the act that had played at the former Princ.i.p.al's Office, due to the number of eyewitnesses and loudness of what had had happened, even the tiniest details had made their way to the ears of a great number of people. The way in which Nakamura had suffered consecutive defeats, my words of provocation, my gross playstyle, my loud and serious rant, my…… wait, huh? Looks like they're all negative things about me. Ha ha ha.
As for the influence the incident had on the power relationships within our cla.s.sroom…… surprisingly, it didn't end up changing very much.
Nakamura still reigned at the top of the hierarchy, and there was no apparent strife between the Nakamura group and Konno Erika group. As one might expect, the frequency of interaction between members of the two factions had dropped, but on Friday, I saw Izumi acting as an intermediary for a slightly awkward conversation between Nakamura and Konno. Those guys are way too good at mending relationships. Perhaps they had been adopting a wait-and-see att.i.tude before patching things up.
If I had to say what it was among those things that had changed drastically ── they were two in number.
The first was with regards to Izumi. Almost everyone in our cla.s.s had guessed that Izumi had been practicing AtaFami to get Nakamura to pay more attention to her, and the mood was to warmly watch over her. It was likely that the only person to have not realized Izumi's feelings was Nakamura himself.
This theme had settled in our cla.s.s such that a mention of the word 『Thick-headed』 would result in a finger being pointed at Nakamura. However, even this was something Nakamura himself had yet to notice, making it a somewhat comical situation. He's probably too engrossed in AtaFami to realize. Really, with that kind of never-give-up att.i.tude, he might be well-suited to being a gamer.
The second change was in Nakamura himself. Ever since the incident, perhaps due to the frustration from losing to me, his pa.s.sion for AtaFami was now stronger than ever. Well, it would have been fine if that was all there was to it, but it now felt like he had become all 'I don't have time for things like love!'. Be it the short breaks or even the lunch break, he seemed to be using them to practice AtaFami like a demon.
In other words, because of me, who should have played the role of cupid, Nakamura's focus was more on AtaFami than on Izumi more than ever. ……Nakamura, you had probably paid quite a bit of attention to Izumi up to that point. Umm, sorry. It looks like my meddling ended up having the opposite effect.
「Well, regardless, it's good that you weren't too negatively affected in the end.」
「……That's also true.」
That's right. The effect on me had also been smaller than expected.
The incident had taken place on Wednesday, so I had experienced the following for the duration of two days. Cla.s.smates would occasionally approach me about the incident, but the majority of them possessed intentions that were neither malicious nor friendly, but instead those of straightforward inquisitiveness. I would truthfully answer the questions thrown at me, after which with a 'Heeeh!' they would leave satisfied. My number of enemies hadn't increased as a result of that incident. Neither had my number of friends, though.
──It was likely that the only reason Nakamura and I had suffered relatively low damage was due to Hinami's work behind the scenes.
With just the words「There's a few things I need to do」, without giving me the specifics, for those two days Hinami had excused herself from our after school meetings. However, during that period I witnessed Hinami's public relations activities at work several times. The one that left the biggest impression was the one where in the middle of our cla.s.s, she said something to the effect of「Heeeh! If Juuji of all people is that into AtaFami, that must really mean it's an interesting game!」in a bright tone of voice. Stealth marketing at its finest. She was stealthily manipulating everyone's impressions of Nakamura and of AtaFami.
It was likely that she had also been covering for me in the same way. Well…… I'm thankful for that.
Also, although I'm not sure if this was something she had been saying all along or had now started saying since that incident with me had already happened, I even witnessed her spiritedly say 「Onitada!」 once in front of all our cla.s.smates. She really likes saying that.
「Anyway, now for my report……」
「Aside from the incident……so it's about what's going on with Fuukchan, right.」
「Yeah. I'm not sure how to put this, but a few things happened.」
I told her about how I had confessed the truth to Kikuchi-san, and how I had ended up not inviting her to see the movie.
Hinami sighed in exasperation.
「Come on, you. Do you really mean to say that despite how well things between the two of you were coming along, you let a chance like that escape? Look, do you really have the motivation to do this?」
「Nah, I've got motivation, plenty of it in fact.」
「……Fine then. There's no point in chattering about past events. Let's think about how to proceed from this situation.」
Saying this, Hinami sunk into thought.
Even as I replied, I couldn't help but be impressed yet again.
As always, this part of her was amazing. Up until now, for whatever reason it had become routine for me to describe her as『amazing』, but I hadn't seen what it was that made her amazing.
However, the reality of that is simple. It's because she's trying so hard to be that way. Recognizing where she currently stands, and putting in the effort that is needed. She is proceeding one step at a time, steadily, by her own volition.
That is why she's amazing.
Ever since accidentally hearing that recording of hers on the IC Recorder, my feelings regarding Hinami had been ones of amazement, or perhaps respect. At any rate, I harbored an emotion that resembled those things.
And so, with this in mind, I once again carried out an action that hadn't been prescribed by Hinami.
「Look, Hinami……by the way, this is just some idle talk, but……」
「What is it?」
Hinami became slightly on-guard.
I put a hand in my pocket. Then, as deliberately as I could, I said the following.
「I've got these tickets for tomorrow's preview screening of Mary Jone, you see. Want to go see it together?」
For a moment, Hinami was taken aback. Then, she laughed mischievously.
Then, in the same deliberate manner as me, she gave me the following reply.
「──Ahh, I'm sorry. I've got plans for tomorrow, you see. I can't go.」
Hahaha, is that so. I laughed as cheerfully as I could. Then a feeling of depression sank in. No good, huh.
In a gentle tone of voice, like a parent watching over a naughty child, but while at the same time showing me a somewhat impish smile, Hinami continued to speak.
「I'll be free after this, so why don't we go see a different movie afterwards?」
For a moment, I blanked out.
After which for some unknown reason, I found myself a.s.sailed by a sense of excitement, resembling an intense feeling of exaltation, or a feeling of accomplishment. However, I did not believe it likely to be a feeling of delight coming from a sentiment like『I've gotten to know a riajuu』or even『I'm going out somewhere with a girl』.
It was nothing but a simple, uncomplicated feeling of『In real life, through my own hard work, I have produced a result that I myself wanted.』. That kind of actual feeling; a primitive, uplifting feeling. While it wasn't very definite, that is the type of suspicion I had.
When I tried saying this as an experiment, Hinami pointed out that my usage was slightly incorrect. I see, I'll have to take this kind of thing step by step as well.
After all, isn't that how Life works? Since that's the case, I'm going to show you what I can do.
I might be a novice when it comes to this game, but I'm going to try playing it thoroughly from now on.
──End. j.a.pan's number one niwaka gamer, the jaku-chara nanashi.