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Jaku-chara Tomozaki-kun Volume 2 Chapter 1 Part3-4

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The week had begun, and it was now Monday. I was in the cla.s.sroom, waiting for the start of school. Since there had been a meeting on Sat.u.r.day, there hadn’t been one this morning.

「Ah, Tomozaki!」

「Hn? Ohh, Izumi.」

Izumi, who had entered the cla.s.sroom a few minutes before homeroom was to begin, began to talk to me. As usual, she smells nice, she’s as ditzy as ever, and her chest is huge.

「Um, listen to this!」

「Wh-what is it?」

「The memorization……I think I’ve mastered it.」

Izumi spoke in a serious and profound tone of voice. She was probably referring to the memorization of moves used in that AtaFami match that I had come up with as an a.s.signment.

「Ohh! Seriously!?」

「Seriously serious!」

Ever since the incident in the former Princ.i.p.al’s Office, in the midst of those subtly changed power relationships, I was now leading a lifestyle somewhat less stigmatized than before.

「Well, I guess that means you’re almost ready to have a serious fight with Nakamura.」

「Really!? ……I did it.」

Izumi made a small guts pose. The innocent guts pose of a girl in love sure is cute.

In this way, we were carrying out a conversation more directly than ever before. However, if I had to say what it was, this was more to do with Izumi being good at conversations and me just following her lead, so it didn’t really possess that feeling of me having grown. Also, the conversation topic was AtaFami, which is kind of my specialty.

Which is why I wouldn’t stop there, instead taking one more step of my own to acc.u.mulate more experience points.

「Ah, more importantly, that is coming soon, huh.」

「Hn? What is?」

Every day is special training. I recalled one of the topics I had memorized for use with Izumi.

「Pretty soon it’ll be Nakamura’s birthday, right.」

「……Um, that’s true, but why do you know that Tomozaki!? Actually why are you even telling me that!?」

Izumi was kind of talking non-stop as her face turned red. Ah, I suppose directly touching on the subject of Nakamura is what they call ‘having no tact’, right? What do you think, Hinami-san?

「Ah, well, uhh……ahaha.」

「Don’t ‘ahaha’ me! Also, there’s a whole month to go so it’s not even ‘soon’!」

And like this, I’ve said something off again. But please don’t be too harsh on me.

However, in this way, lately I had progressed a little further away from being a loner, having cla.s.sroom chats like this with Izumi not just about AtaFami, but also anything else that would come to mind. Also, my group conversations with Mimimi, Tamchan and Hinami had been increasing in number. That feeling of being a loner had been decreasing ever so slightly. Which is incredible.

However, thinking about it carefully, me saying that『There’s several people in cla.s.s that I talk to』is something incredible might be scary in and of itself. I’d like to turn a blind eye to that.

Speaking about problems, Konno Erika and her followers were still giving me a hard time, or rather, they would have conversations like「Gross, isn’t he~」「Like, that look in his eyes.」「That desperation is seriously hilarious!」in a volume just loud enough for me to hear, being quite effective at piling up damage to my heart. It was getting unbearable. However, aside from that, things had been peaceful.

Though if I tried thinking about it, I was interacting with nothing but girls, which from the perspective of other guys might not be viewed in such a positive light. I have the feeling they might think it only natural for me to be treated that way.

However, just as I was wondering if this meant that I should get around to discussing the matter with Hinami.

During the break right before fourth period, that happened.

「Tomozaki.」

「……Hn?」

My name was called out by a voice I wasn’t too used to being called out by. Looking over my shoulder, standing there was ── Mizusawa.

Mizusawa. The cool, stylish, and brown-haired ikemen who frequently hung out with Nakamura. Differing from that other follower-person Takei, rather than being a『Follower』, Mizusawa gave the impression of being a strategist who supported Nakamura from the shadows. This was something about him that I had also strongly felt during that eventful incident with Mimimi and Tamchan in the Home Economics Room.

「Uhh, am I getting called out again……?」

When I asked this in a small voice, Mizusawa went「Hahahaha!」in a rather well-carrying laugh.

「No, no! That was just me talking to you normally. Seriously, just how used are you to getting called out?!」

This was said in a lighthearted tone. Well, looks like I’m enough of a jaku-chara that I get addressed unreservedly as a「You」[1]. However, even as I lamented my unchanging jaku-ness with such thoughts, I was relieved by the fact that I wasn’t getting called out.

「Talking to me normally?」

「What’s with that question mark? Look, you did pretty great the other day, didn’t you?」

「The other day? Ahh, you mean that thing with Konno Erika……」

「Yep, that’s right!」*Ka Ka Ka*. He laughed happily.「Maan, that’s the first time I’ve seen someone make Erika so resentful.」

「Sh, shut up!」

Even as I found myself at a loss for words, I willed myself to use a cheerful tone as I made my retort. This too was part of my practice. I had also attempted a cheerful expression. It goes without saying, but my tone and facial expression are things I’ve been trying to practice regularly, doing a little bit each day so that it can become second nature to me. However, it doesn’t seem to be going too well against this higher-ranked opponent.

「Tomozaki,」For some reason, Mizusawa’s face bore a mysterious expression.「No, rather than that……that was good.」

「Eh, good?」

I ended up responding to him with a question in an idiotic voice.

「Yeah. I mean, weren’t those your actual thoughts at the time?」

I thought back to what I had shouted at Konno Erika during that incident in the former Princ.i.p.al’s Office. Gyaaa.

Having someone tell me that those were my actual thoughts is somewhat embarra.s.sing, but, well, since it’s the truth I’ll have to admit it.

「Ahh, I guess.」

For some reason, Mizusawa smiled delightedly at my answer.

「Thought so. What can I say. I don’t hate that, you know.」

「……Eh?」

「You see, doing that sort of thing means you’re taking things too seriously, it’s unpleasant, and it’s kind of uncool. So there’s also those who would call it gross or something……Konno, for example. But me? I think that was a pretty good thing to do, and to tell the truth……」

At that point, the words stopped coming.

My interest piqued by Mizusawa’s unexpected remark,「……To tell the truth?」, I couldn’t help but urge him to continue.

「I too share the same view. In fact, I was slightly moved by how you could say something like that so openly. Or rather, it was like you were telling me that I had an ally out there who was just like myself.」

「A, ally?」

This was something completely unheard of in the records of my high school life up to now. I let that majestic word echo over and over again in my head.

「Anyway, it’s not like there’s any big meaning to this. How about we go out with a few people for a relaxing meal or something!」

「With a few people……」

Despite the sense of foreboding I had this time about that detail, I tried my best to produce a lighthearted tone of voice, and followed up with an「O-Okay!」. Here, I was using Izumi as my reference. That carefree ‘okay!’ of hers is pretty easy on the ears.

「Of course, Shuuji won’t be coming.」

「Eh, is that so.」

Perhaps having understood my feelings, or perhaps having planned it that way from the very beginning, Mizusawa quickly dispelled my ominous premonition.

「That’s a given, right. After all, you don’t like it, do you? Being around Shuuji, that is.」

「Uhhh……well, perhaps.」

I gave him a vague reply.

「You know, Tomozaki.」

With a serious expression, Mizusawa looked at me in the eye. Then, he grinningly opened his mouth.

「It would have been funnier if you’d instantly answered with a『Yep, I don’t like it』or something there, you know?」

This sudden advice took me by surprise, and that probably showed on my face──but I was forced to concede that I agreed with him.

「……That’s true.」

Even as I marveled at that riajuu power, simply giving me a sidelong glance, Mizusawa didn’t waste any time in moving the conversation forwards.

「Don’t you think so? Anyway, as for the other people joining us, let’s see……」Mizusawa grinningly looked into my eyes.「Aoi, for one.」

At that choice of person, I lost my composure yet again.

「Is, is that so. Hinami, huh.」

To avoid him sensing that discomposure, I feigned calmness as I replied.

「Yep, her. You’ve been getting along pretty well lately. As for our final member, I was thinking it might be interesting if we could just get one of the other girls to come eat with us.」

「I see. That does sound like it would be interesting.」

I strained my facial muscles to produce a slight smile as I spoke.

「Doesn’t it? Anyway, I’ll speak to you again later! 」

「Okay!」

Even as I invoked yet another Izumi ‘Okay’, I was astonished by how so many different people had recognized how I had been getting along with Hinami recently. It was something I had been told by both Mimimi and Izumi. As expected, riajuu sure have incredible powers of observation when it comes to things like changes in interpersonal relationships……

Still, a meal, huh. To tell the truth, I actually think that it’s way too sudden and feel slightly intimidated. However, an event like this shouldn’t be particularly unusual for a normal high school student. Probably. High school students are freaking amazing. Are their lives riddled with events, seriously.

However, given how it is that kind of event, provided that Hinami’s around, I should be able to manage one way or another. Though it is a bit of an annoyance that she’s becoming somewhat of a crutch for me.

Later that day, I had a few more conversations with Mizusawa: once during the lunch break, and then a quick chat after school. For Mizusawa, I could very much feel the presence of his riajuu aura; or rather, while it’s true that people like Mimimi or Izumi are riajuu, male riajuu emanate a rather overpowering feeling, kind of an air of ‘Survival of the Fittest!’, perhaps several times more frightening than that of the female riajuu. Which is why I was incredibly nervous during our interactions. I wonder if this also counts as experience points.

However, in this way, although I’m not too sure what will become of it in the future, it seems like I now have a fellow male student that I might be able to call somewhat of a friend. On top of that, someone from the riajuu side. This makes me a little happy──

But I think the fact that they said they agreed with what I had shouted out that day might also make me slightly glad.

「Well then, this will be the first meeting we’ve had here in a while.」

「Please don’t be too hard on me.」

It was after school in the second Sewing Room. This would be our first meeting here ever since the incident that day.

In this dusty old room that I had by now become all too familiar with, I noticed that I felt a strange sense of calm.

「Well then, to start off, let’s review the current goals. Do you still remember what the small goal is?」

Hinami promptly moved on to the matter at hand.

「Of course I do.『Going out somewhere with a girl other than Hinami』should be about right, correct?」

「That’s right.」

Hinami nods.

「Still, the more I think about it, the scarier it seems.」

「Please, I’ve just about had enough of your stupid whining.」

While touching the ends of her black, silky hair, Hinami nonchalantly spewed out those venomous words. Each time she switched the positions of her crossed legs, in a dazzling flash of white, those thighs would fleetingly reflect the sunlight shining through the window. As I thought, everything about her looks is just too good, right down to her figure.

「But what should I do? Is it like, if you invite someone with the right words, they’d agree?」

Hinami shook her head at my words.

「Rather than that, it would be best if you could achieve it naturally through the flow of a conversation. Though it is true that it’s the kind of goal that can be easily cleared if you do something like invite people over and over again with only the goal in mind.」

I don’t think it’s easy, though.

「Hm, ‘naturally’, you say.」

「Yes. Also, even if you do manage to get someone to go out with you that way, since the skill of the current you is too low, it’s highly possible that you won’t handle conversation well and the date ends in failure. That’s why improving your skill in that area first takes priority.」

「I, I see. Still, conversation skill, huh……」

「It’s not the kind of thing you’ll be able to resolve overnight, but that’s what the whole memorization thing is for, right? Are you properly doing it?」

Memorization. In other words, the memorization of topics to use when conversing with people.

Even during these past few days during which I hadn’t been able to hold a meeting with Hinami, I had still been carrying out my routine memorization of conversation topics.

「Yes, I’m doing it.」

「I see. Well, as far as I can tell, it does seem like you’ve been doing it.」

「As far as you can tell?」

That part had taken me by surprise, so I asked her for an explanation.

「Don’t you use them at times? The topics, I mean. Even when you’re talking with myself, Mimimi and Hanabi.」

「──Ahh.」

So it was the memorized topics, huh. Currently, when talking with Izumi, or when talking with Mimimi, Tamchan or Hinami, I would try my best to see if there were any memorized topics suitable for the conversation at hand. If there were, I would take the opportunity and try bring them up. I suppose it’s only natural that Hinami would be able to tell from seeing that.

「You should keep up with that. Memorization is one thing, but actually being able to bring up those topics in a conversation is a completely different matter. The fact that you’re currently able to do so means you’ve grown a lot.」

Her tone of voice was blunt, but for whatever reason, her mouth formed a happy smile as she spoke.

「Is, is that so.」

Having been praised, I kind of unconsciously became fl.u.s.tered.

「Though there is something you really need to reflect on. Because you’re always on edge trying to bring up those topics, your tone of voice becomes unnatural, and you tend to say something like『Um, you know!』like you’re about to begin talking about something important, but then follow up with something inconsequential like 『The other day, on television……』.

While squandering that acting talent on a recreation of my unpleasant tone of voice, she stabbed those words into my heart.

「I will keep that in mind……」

I was made to feel despondent so easily. Seeing that expression of mine, Hinami smiled in satisfaction. Hasn’t this person’s sadism been on the rise?

「Be that as it may, the points needing improvement are easily identified, so it’s still much preferable compared to before. Well, as for how to proceed from here……before I move onto that, have there been any changes in your situation?」

「Let me see…… Ah.」I suddenly remembered something.「It only just happened today, but I spoke with Mizusawa about a number of things.」

「With Mizusawa? Come to think of it, you did speak with him a few times, didn’t you.」

「That’s right. Though as a result, today I didn’t manage to visit the library before the cla.s.sroom move.」

「I see. ……Hmm, well I suppose there’s not much you could do about that.」

The『Medium-sized goal』that Hinami had set, in other words, the unthinkable task『To get a girlfriend before advancing to the third year』, is something that I had been instructed to continue to work towards. As part of that, I had also been reminded to speak with the『Target Heroine』Kikuchi-san as much as possible.

「We have cla.s.sroom moves on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I intend to visit the day after tomorrow, though……」

「That’s true. If that’s the case, it should be fine. Rather, it might be better this way. So? What happened with Mizusawa?」

I was curious about what she meant by ‘rather, it might be better this way’, but since she had asked me another question, I decided to answer it.

「Well, there kind of was that incident with Konno, right? He said something about sharing the same view with what I had said at that time, and suggested we go out for a meal with a few people sometime. As a group of four, boys and girls, Hinami included, that is.」

「……Hmm. Mizusawa said that, huh.」

Hinami frowned. Well that’s kind of unusual.

No, the frowning itself wasn’t at all that unusual. However, showing a frown when talking about someone else, especially despite not seeming to have any ill-intentions towards that person. That was what I found strange.

「What? Is there a problem?」

「What might you mean by that?」

「Uh, well……」

「It’s nothing too important. However, going out for a meal with a few people, huh. It might be just right.」

Hinami placed a finger to her lips, as if deep in thought. It felt like she had said that to change the subject, but her facial expression didn’t waver.

「’Just right’?」

「Isn’t it obvious that I’m talking about that thing we discussed earlier? Conversation skill. Or rather, dating skill. It seems like you’d be able to carry out some good practice in that situation.」

Apparently, the subject had now changed completely.

「Practice, huh……certainly, it does seem like it would be easy for me to get some practice done in a situation like that where it’s me and you with Mizusawa and someone else」

「Don’t you think so?」

I imagined what that scene would look like.

Even as I pictured the riajuu-like scenery, I was frustrated by how I was currently such that the fact that Hinami would be nearby gave me a sense of security. Just as I was thinking this, Hinami opened her mouth once again.

「In addition, you’ll be able to work on not just your date practice, but also on your invitation practice.」

「Eh? Invitation practice?」

Which meant……that, perhaps?

「That’s right. That other girl? You’re going to be the one inviting her. It’s only natural, don’t you think?」

「……I knew it.」

Of course that’s what it meant.

Thus, one after the other, my training tasks in this game called Life proceeded to get established.

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Jaku-chara Tomozaki-kun Volume 2 Chapter 1 Part3-4 summary

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