Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: Volume 8 The End of the Prologue/The Day Kodaka Hasegawa Became a Protagonist

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The End of the Prologue/The Day Kodaka Hasegawa Became a Protagonist[edit]

I ran through the halls as fast as I could, flew up the stairs two at a time, and then swung the door to the roof wide open.

The cold breeze that awaited me blew across my entire body.

It wasn't as strong as the wind on that day, but it was certainly colder, it being December now and all.

Rika Shiguma was standing there, waiting for me on that cold rooftop.

"......Haa... Haa... R-Rika..."

I glared at Rika while breathing heavily.

"...3 minutes and 26 seconds since I sent you the text, huh. You're late, but if I count the time it took for the mail to get to you and for you to read it, I suppose I can let you off the hook."

Rika said with an amused giggle.

"...I bet you don't even have a recording of me reading that stuff, do you? And how would you even play it over the PA system anyway?"

I didn't have any time to think about it before so I panicked, but thinking about it rationally as I catch my breath, there's no way she-

"Hehe."

Rika laughed gently, and then hit a button on the handheld terminal she had in the right hand.

The sound of the speakers turning on rang through the air, and then,

"Heh heh"

Click.

It was only for an instant, but that was definitely me playing the role of the sadistic biology teacher just now.

"You were serious!?"

Rika simply went "Hmph." and exhaled through her nose after hearing my scream.

"Rika is quite skilled, Senpai. Setting up something like this is a piece of cake. Not that I eat much cake, but you get the idea."

"A-alright, I'm sorry... Just please don't play that over the PA system..."

I begged Rika to stop with my head hung down in defeat.

"Well, I did say I'd let you off the hook. I'll keep my word."

She said before sticking the terminal back into her lab coat's pocket.

Rika was wearing her usual school uniform and lab coat. No glasses.

Her hair was its usual black, hanging straight down... and while her hair was normal, she was wearing a headband with cat ears on it for some reason.

She's dyed her hair blond and even silver before, so honestly the cat ears weren't much of a surprise to me, but she's already plenty cute without that kinda cheap gimmick if you ask me. Note that I thought that, and did not say it out loud.

"...So, what do you want?" I asked.

"It's nothing much really——"

She said with both hands stuck in her pockets, and then glared at me with a lazy smile.

"I just thought I'd beat some sense into the pathetic delinquent who ran away like a little girl while trying to act cool by spewing some bullshit about wanting to 'protect the Neighbors Club (`・ω・´)キリッ'"

I went "Uu..." and let out a faint moan, after hearing her say that.

"............I'm sorry."

I gave her an honest, heartfelt apology.

"...Pretty obedient of you. Not gonna try to make up some excuses?"

Rika said, clearly unamused.

The cat ears on her head twitched as she spoke.

"...No, because you of all people deserve to be mad at me."

I was the one who ran away from Rika on the roof that day, after she criticized me for playing dumb and tried to force us to move onward.

The very next day though, she was back to her usual pervert fujoshi self.

She bent her own will to go along with my desire to maintain the status quo in the Neighbor's Club.

She did so much for me, and yet I betrayed her.

"...You can kick me, punch me, or do whatever you want."

If doing that will help her feel better, it's a small price to pay.

It's the least I can do to atone for what I've done to her.

The cat ears on Rika's head started to move back and forth.

They weren't blowing in the wind though, it was more like they were moving according to Rika's own will, like a real pair of cat ears.

"Hmph... how admirable of you. I suppose I'll take you up on your offer then."

Rika said as she took her right hand out of her lab coat's outer pocket, and started fishing around in one of the inner pockets. She then took out three dully shining balls that were each a bit bigger than a ping pong ball.

"......?"

...What the heck are those?

"Wup."

Rika tossed the balls in front of her as I stood there confused.

However, instead of hitting the ground, each of them stayed floating in the air.

...What the heck...? They look like regular (metal?) balls, but somehow I've got a bad feeling about them.

"...What are those?"

"They're part of the Nine Lives Breaker."

Rika coolly replied.

"............And what is that?"

I asked again in a stilted tone of voice.

"They're balls remotely controlled by my brain waves."

And that was the answer I got.

"...I took the name from season 3 of that anime Kobato likes, Kurogane no Necromancer. It's the name of the special attack the main character learns at the end of season three. It's a fearsome attack spell that severs the cycle of death and rebirth, obliterating the enemy's soul in the process. Not only can someone hit by this attack not be brought back to life, they can never be reborn ever again."

"Yeah, I didn't need an explanation of the anime. ...So, honestly, what are those things?"

I asked while feeling a boundless sense of danger.

"It'll probably be faster if I just show you."

Rika responded with a sadistic grin, and then yelled,

"Crush my enemy's soul! Nine Lives Breaker!!"

Her yell sounded incredibly similar to the one I sometimes catch glimpses of Guernica-chan letting out for her Hell Blaze Buster when Kobato's watching the anime at home, and, as her yell echoed across the rooftop, the cat ears on her head stood straight up, and the three balls came flying towards me.

So fast!!

I was so surprised I didn't have time to dodge.

Smack! Thunk! Crash!

"Aguah!?"

Each of the three balls hit my gut at almost exactly the same time.

I let out a scream in agony due to the sudden intense pain.

The balls quickly left me after that, and went back to Rika.

"...Ow ow ow..."

I glared at Rika while holding my stomach in pain.

"...Y-you little... What the hell..."

"You're the one who said I could do whatever I want, Senpai."

Rika said without so much as budging an eyebrow at my groaning.

Those cat ears flicking around on her head were starting to piss me off now.

"...Yeah, but... this is... ridiculous... If you're gonna hit me do it with your hands...!"

"Rika's weak little punches wouldn't even faze you. Don't go thinking you can run away from your guilt with something as light as that."

"Uu..."

"Hence, I decided to beat you up with a weapon I made myself, since I am an inventor and all."

"...You wanna beat me up that badly?"

I asked, prompting Rika to stare at me with steady eyes.

"...Rika is mad, Senpai. ...I can't obliterate your soul like in an anime—— but I can beat that pathetic escapist attitude out of you!!"

The Nine Lives Breaker came at me again right as Rika finished her declaration.

"Uoh!"

I made a wide dodge by reflex and managed to dodge two of them but the third hit me right in my side.

"Aguh!"

I groaned at the sharp pain that ran through me.

The two balls that missed me hit the concrete floor and made a light "clink" sound along with a loud "crunch" as if they'd dug into the pavement before floating back towards Rika.

"E-escapist? But I——"

I tried to argue back, but was soon interrupted.

"——You ended up running away because you were confused and didn't know what to do. Emotionally speaking, I can see where you're coming from. Even Rika panicked a little bit. I never would've imagined Sena would ask you to marry her all of sudden right in front of everyone else like that."

Rika said with a frown on her face.

"S-see? There was no way I could——"

However, she quickly changed to a glare, and fired the three balls at me again.

"Wha—— Uoh!!"

I managed to dodge all three this time on account of her poor aiming.

Rika went "Tch." and clicked her tongue at me before yelling,

"That's not the problem! Rika is mad about what you did after that!!"

She then took out three more Nine Lives Breaker balls from her lab coat pocket and tossed them into the air.

"Go!!"

"Eek!?"

Six balls came flying at me, and two of them ran straight into me.

"Agagobo!"

On top of that, one of them hit me in the cheek.

It felt like a heavy punch right into my jaw, and made me feel faint for a second afterwards.

"...A-after that...?"

I asked, unsure of what Rika meant, prompting her to roar back at me in a voice full of anger,

"...The day you ran away I can let slide, but you didn't show up at all the week after that, so I started wondering what you were up to and what do I find...?"

"Uu..."

"You flirting with the same damn chick who tried to destroy the Neighbors Club!!!"

The six balls came flying at me again in tandem with Rika's fierce accusation.

"Ow!!"

This time I avoided all but one which hit me in the shoulder, and as I groaned from the pain it caused, I yelled back,

"...I-it's not like I was flirting with Aoi! I was just helping her do some work!"

"Oh, so you call her by her first name now too!?"

"She asked me to! What do you want me to do about it!?"

"Ugahhhhh! I can't believe you, fawning over a cheap-looking girl like that!! Seriously, people like you are so damn——!!"

BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!!

The balls came flying at me in sequence once again, but I somehow managed to dash my way around them without getting hit.

"It's not just that Aoi Yusa girl either! You were even wagging your tail like a puppy in love at that Student Council President girl too! What, got a cougar fetish!? Is that it!? What happened to that steel-like self-restraint you used to avoid falling for anyone in the Neighbors Club!? I can't believe you fell for some pretty older girl so easily, you damn closet pervert!!"

"Watch your mouth!!"

I screamed at her, unable to hold back.

"Eh...!?"

Rika's attacks stopped, most likely because of how serious I looked.

I looked Rika straight in the eye, and cleared up her misunderstanding.

"...Hinata's looks didn't make me fall for her or anything. I swear on it."

"Mu... R-really?"

"...Yeah," I said with a light nod.

".........It's not her looks, but her personality that I totally fell for."

"That's even worrrrrrrsse!!"

Crap, I just poured oil on the fire.

Rika's anger led to her taking out another three balls and then tossing them into the air as well.

The nine metal balls—— The Nine Lives Breaker formed a circle in front of Rika and locked onto me.

"W-wait, when I say fell for I don't mean it in a romantic way! I just mean I respect her as a person! I don't have any dirty thoughts about Hinata at all!"

As I hurriedly tried to make an excuse for myself, Rika looked at me with one eye half open, and said,

"Hmph, I wonder about that. Knowing you, you probably got lucky and saw her panties, and then told her something like 'I didn't see anything at all~' in an attempt to cover it up and act normal."

"H-how did you know about that!?"

I asked in reflex, too shocked to stop myself.

"How did you know that three days ago when I accidentally forgot to knock before entering the Student Council room that I got an eyeful of Hinata, Aoi, Akane, and Karin almost completely naked because they were all in the middle of changing into their jerseys!?"

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Vol8 Ch11 Img01(Vexed).png

.........Snap.

I think I just heard one of Rika's blood vessels pop from all the way over here.

"JUST DIE ALREADYYYYY!!!"

The nine balls spread out into a larger circle before coming at me faster than ever.

I had no way of dodging the balls flying at me from every frontal direction, which left me with no choice but to be hit repeatedly.

"...Gobh... Ugh... Ah... Kh...!"

Unable to withstand the damage, I finally fell down on my knee.

Rika was also breathing heavily as she glared at me.

"...Haa.... Haa...... You know, I really want to kill you now. I should've brought a railgun like that one popular anime heroine's, not this weak little toy. It'd actually be pretty simple to make you know."

"I don't really know what that is, but I'm sure having one'd get you arrested under the Swords and Firearms Control Law..."

I spat out as I wearily stood myself back up, to which Rika responded by laughing and saying,

"The Swords and Firearms Control Law defines a 'gun' as a device that fires bullets via the use of pressurized air. It has no bearing on a railgun."

"...Thanks for the pointless trivia..."

I said with a wry smile as I tried to hide the pain I was in.

Still, this is no time to be joking around... I need to do something about this soon... I might really die here.

Rika said her balls were weak, but you can hurt, and even kill someone barehanded.

Each hit from the Nine Lives Breaker is just a bit weaker than the punch I took from this one punching machine in 8th grade that I set a new record with, the best in my life actually (I don't remember what it was called though).

Those balls have to be fairly light for them to float in the air like that too.

Hence, while they might be limited in terms of power, it's still dangerous to keep getting hit by them.

What do I do about this...

Sadly, I'm not exactly unfamiliar with fighting, but today is the first time I've ever done something like this.

The way I usually win is by making the first move in order to get a psychological edge on my opponent, and then using my face and voice to bluff their will to fight away.

However, that kind of bluffing won't work on Rika.

After all, this isn't a fight with some random punks. This is my first time fighting against someone who knows me very well.

As I was thinking about what to do next,

"Gafh!"

I took another hit in the gut and let out a groan.

...Damn it, if I don't do something about those nine balls we won't even be able to calm down and talk to each other.

I've gotta... stop them.

I solidified my will, and glared at Rika. Specifically, the cat ears on her head.

Those irritating cat ears that have been constantly moving around this whole time.

They'll always stand straight up as if trying to intimidate me when the balls come to attack me, and they'll gently rock back and forth a lot when the balls are hovering around near Rika as well.

Rika said that the Nine Lives Breaker is controlled by her brain waves.

That cat ear headband is most likely—— No, definitely some kind of antenna that transmits Rika's orders to the balls.

The answer's simple then, I'll just take it from her.

If I do that, she shouldn't be able to use the Nine Lives Breaker anymore.

Rika shot out the nine balls towards me once more.

I made a wide lunge to the side, dodging every single one of them, and then made a mad dash towards Rika the next second.

"Uohhhhhhhh!!"

"...!"

Rika's eyes opened wide in shock after hearing my roar and seeing me charging at her.

Rika turned around, lab coat and all, and tried making some distance between me.

I'm not letting you get away!

I was just a few centimeters away from reaching her cat ears when all of a sudden,

THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD!!

"Aguah!?"

A string of fierce attacks hit me in the back out of nowhere, causing me to flop onto the ground.

"Phew... That scared me a bit there."

Rika exhaled after getting a safe distance away from me with the nine balls back to hovering around in front of her.

I guess she can shoot the balls at me not only from nearby her, but also re-aim them and shoot them from far away as well.

"Damn it..."

"...Sheesh, can't let my guard down around you, can I!"

She fired the nine balls at me again, as if trying to finish me off.

"That's my line!"

I leaped up and then quickly crouched down as I sprinted underneath the balls and towards Rika.

"Kh!?"

Rika started to run away from me again as well.

I took another attack from behind, this time in my shoulder, sending a sharp pain through my entire body.

Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, the other balls came back, circled around in front of me, and then rammed themselves into me.

"Kgh!?"

I went down onto my knee, unable to stand the double-sided attack.

Rika looked worn out too as she yelled,

"...Sheesh! Just knock it off already!"

"Again, that is my line!"

THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK!!

I made a quick dash backwards and somehow managed to avoid the next set of nine attacks.

The nine balls each ran into the ground and then bounced up, forming a wide shape around me before continuing their attack.

"Damn it!"

I stayed alert for a chance to get close to Rika as I jumped around avoiding, blocking, and getting hit by the unpredictable attacks from the balls.

However, Rika would back off any time I got close to her, cleverly running away so as not to get caught.

"Damn it, quit running away! Coward!"

"Y-you're the one person I don't wanna hear that from! Agh, ugh!"

Rika yelled back at me and choked violently as a result.

She was starting to look even more tired than before.

Well, she is running around while controlling those balls with her brain waves at the same time. Maybe doing that takes a lot of stamina to pull off.

"I asked Sena-senpai after that too you know!"

Rika screamed without interrupting her attack.

"Huh!? Asked her what!?"

I screamed back while dodging said attack.

"I asked when she started to get interested in you!"

"!! ...Bgofh!?"

Rika's words took me by surprise, causing me to take a hit in the stomach.

"Apparently you saved Sena-senpai from a group of thugs at the pool! Aren't you so damn cool!!"

"Yeah, but they weren't thugs, they were just hitting on her!"

Also, things only got as bad as they did because Sena just had to provoke them.

I honestly feel a little bad for those guys. They got hit by a wave of insults and then got a little roughed up by me when all they did was go up and talk to a cute girl.

"Aha, so even you used to have a manly side to you, huh! Too bad you're such a pathetic loser now!!"

"S-shut up!!"

"Then after that you stayed over at her house and raised a bunch of flags with her too, huh!! Funny how you never mentioned that to us!"

"D-don't give me that flag crap! This isn't some galge!"

I yelled with a pair of red cheeks, but Rika ignored me and continued on,

"Apparently she practically asked you out when we all went shopping in Nagaya too!"

Nagaya...

...Is she talking about when Sena asked me if I wanted a girlfriend or not?

...Or does she mean when Sena said "There is no way that any human I, the Sena Kashiwazaki, am interested in could be a boring person."?

Whatever the case,

"Even if she 'practically' asked me out, she didn't actually do it so it doesn't count!"

"You pathetic loser sack of shit!!"

"Gaha!?"

She landed a blow right in my solar plexus, sending an intense pain through my body and causing me to feel faint.

Rika then said, as she continued to pant heavily,

"...Then we find out you're engaged to her, and that you're childhood friends with her too!? What is with that cheating little rich girl...!? Honestly, it's so ridiculous that if this was a galge you'd be forced into the Sena route no matter what choices you make! Rika hates cheat characters like that, they make games boring!"

My movements, having become dulled due to the pain, led to me being hit again and again by the balls flying at me.

"...Uagh...! ...T-tell that, gueh! ...T-to Sena, gefoh! N-not me...!"

Rika ignored my feeble protest, and said,

"...Even worse, thanks to that Yozora-senpai's all mopey and in full loser mode now."

"...Can't do anything about that, I mean, her memories were a huge emotional support for her..."

Yozora's memories of being with me 10 years ago were incredibly important to her.

No, they're important to her even now.

I guess it's because of her good memory, but she even remembered things that I'd forgotten a long time ago.

Having Hasegawa Kodaka as her oldest friend was like a major part of Yozora's identity.

However, that part of her identity was shaken up by the fact that Sena knew me even before that, and was involved with my family as well... It's only natural she'd be shocked after learning that.

"Hah."

Rika exhaled as though mocking me.

She then appeared incredibly irritated as she stated,

"Who cares what order you met in? Who cares about what memories you have? If you wanna say that crap is more important than what you have right now, then you can just spend the rest of eternity sucking on your mama's titties, ya' god damn idiot!"

"Haha... You don't—— pull any punches, do you..."

A wry smile leaked out onto my face before I knew it.

She's got a point, I get what she's trying to say.

But, people's feelings just aren't that simple.

"...Actually wait, by that logic, don't you have no right to complain about me getting along with Aoi and Hinata?"

"Fueh!?"

Rika made a stupefied look on her face after hearing my sudden idea.

Looks like I hit a sore spot.

"...Uh... Umm... That's, umm... Yeah, well...

That's different!"

"What!?"

I barely managed to avoid Rika's sudden attack she'd launched in an attempt to change the subject.

I decided to use this chance to try and get close to Rika.

"Kh..." went Rika as she retreated, and then yelled at me,

"God damn, raising flags with every damn girl you meet...! What are you, some harem love comedy protagonist who gets stupidly popular just for being nice!?"

"OH JUST SHUT THE HELL UPPPPPPP!!"

Her example was so ridiculous I couldn't help but shout back at her.

I took a hit from each of the nine balls straight on and felt wobbly, but even so, this time I forced myself to stay up.

".........A harem love comedy protagonist...?"

As I weakly shuffled my way towards Rika, whose eyes were open wide in shock, I yelled at her.

"If I could be one—— then I'd love to be! I'd love to bring everything to a happy end just by being dense and a little nice! But I can't do that... I'm not the protagonist of some story. I'm powerless when faced with some huge problem, that's why I'm so lost right now damn it!!"

"You're getting mad at me!? How pathetic can you get!?"

Rika's attacks continued from all sides.

My face, chest, legs, arms, and legs were struck again and again, but even as I was getting beat to a pulp, I didn't stop walking towards Rika. I mean, I am used to getting attacked from all sides.

"I know that I'm pathetic, you retard!"

"Uu..."

Rika winced, and then slowly retreated while facing me.

"Yeah... I'm pathetic... I'm weak...! But I can't help it, this is my first time facing something like this. This is the first time I've found such an amazing place to be. It's an incredible place where people like you, Yozora, Sena, Yukimura, Maria, Kobato, and I can just be ourselves. And I... absolutely do not want to lose that place!"

"You damn...... idiot!!"

Rika said, spitting out her words before launching her biggest attack so far on me.

"Aguh...!?"

"You don't want to lose the place you can be yourself!? Well that's just great, aren't you admirable! But you're still wrong!"

"How am I wrong!?"

"Because, you're holding back and not being yourself!"

"......!"

Rika's yell was almost like a scream, and I stopped in my tracks after hearing it.

"...First you play dumb and go 'Hahh, sheesh...' and sigh like a mere bystander in order to protect the place you found where people a little different from the rest of the world can be themselves! But then you run away when you can't do that anymore! What point is there in protecting that wonderful place you found if you're not even in it, you idiot!! I got some news for you, the world ain't that nice! You can't protect the things important to you with such a cheap act of self-sacrifice! Get over yourself, moron!"

"Like you're one to talk, idiot!"

"!?"

This time it was Rika's turn to be yelled into silence.

I resumed my wobbly advance forward, and said,

"Who're you calling a self-sacrificing bystander, huh!? You're the one who's always, always acting full of energy, but at the same time doing tons of stuff behind the scenes to keep the Neighbors Club running damn it! Even now, you're here playing the bad guy! Which one of us is really holding back!? Drop the condescending guardian act, nobody cares that you're a little grown up, have some communication skills, and read the mood, got it!? What are you, our mom!? Honestly, I'm more grateful than you could ever imagine for all the stuff you do for us, but...! What do you want to do!?"

clang.

Rika retreated so far her back hit the roof's fence.

Rika hung her head down, and whispered, in a tiny emotionless voice,

"...What do I want to do...?"

"...Isn't that... obvious...?"

She asked in a barely audible voice, and then raised her face.

She stared me down with a dazzlingly strong will in her eyes, and then...

"I want friends!!"

She finally said her honest wish, the one she'd hidden all this time.

And, at the same time, the Nine Lives Breaker dug into every part of my body.

"Guah...! Aga...!"

My entire body was aching with pain, but I withstood it and reached out for the cat ears on Rika's head just a meter away.

Yet another wave of attacks assaulted me.

My sides, cheeks, shoulders, thighs, butt, shin, upper arm, the back of my head, and spine all took a severe amount of damage.

But even so, I refused to give up and at last my desperately outstretched hand grabbed Rika's cat ears.

Surprisingly, the headband they were attached to came off easily.

Given that they were actually a machine, they were a good deal heavier than they appeared. So much so, in fact, that it'd probably hurt your neck to wear them for a long time.

I tossed the headband with the cat ears down onto the ground.

"...Heheh."

I may have been beaten and bruised, but I still managed to wring out a victorious smile.

——At that very instant, nine different blows struck my body.

"Heh?"

The Nine Lives Breaker I thought I'd disabled was still working just fine for some reason, and thus, now finally at my limit—— I collapsed face up on the ground with a stupid look on my face.

Rika looked down on me with a faint wry smile, and then took her left hand out of her lab coat pocket for the first time since we started fighting.

...In her hand, was a remote control with an analog stick attached.

"Sorry, Senpai. I lied when I said it was controlled with my brain waves."

Rika moved the analog stick with her thumb, and when she did the nine balls all glided through the air in tandem.

She then pushed a button on the remote, which caused all the balls but one to fall to the ground.

"It's... radio controlled...?"

"Tehepero(・ω<)" went Rika as she showed me an impish smile and grabbed the one remaining floating ball.

"Incidentally, this is the only one I was controlling with my thumb, the other eight are made to follow it automatically. It looked like they were all moving individually though, right? That's 'cause I added some chaos theory into the algorithm it uses."

Rika triumphantly explained, although I didn't really get any of it.

I slowly turned my aching neck and looked over at the cat ears on the ground, and asked,

"...Eh... Then... What was that... for?"

"It's just a toy. It reads the brain waves of the person wearing it, and moves the cat ears accordingly. They stand straight up when you're focused, and rock back and forth when you're not."

".........Wh... What the heck..."

Thunk.

I was so exhausted I simply let the back of my head fall to the ground. Ow.

I stayed like that for a bit, taking deep breaths. I could feel the cold air filling my lungs and spreading out through the rest of my body.

"......Haha... You're... pretty good..."

Rika giggled after seeing me laugh as well, and then added,

"...You're not bad yourself."

No sooner had Rika finished saying that than did she lean back against the fence and wearily slide down until she was sitting flat on the ground.

"What... you're done for too?"

"...Honestly, just standing was getting hard for me. I'm not very athletic you know."

Rika said along with puffs of white breath coming out of her mouth.

"S'cause you don't eat breakfast." I casually commented back.

"You might be right..." Rika said with a wry smile.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Vol8 Ch11 Img02(Vexed).png

"......Kodaka-senpai."

"...Yeah?"

"...If you run into a huge problem you can't solve by yourself... then come to Rika for help. Who the heck do you think I am? I'm the genius inventor, Rika Shiguma, you know. ...I can easily... make the impossible possible."

After hearing Rika's brazen, yet kind words, I thought to myself.

We just fought each other on the roof, and told each other how we really feel.

We even did that shonen manga cliché of complimenting each other after the fight.

Honestly, at this point, how could I possibly not admit it?

No matter how you think about it, all I can do now is move on forward.

Not moving even a single step forward after doing all this would be too pathetic, even for a pathetic loser like me.

Still, it's gotta be pretty arrogant for a pathetic loser like me to even think about wanting real friends, or true friendship after all that I've done.

That's probably why,

"......Hey, Rika."

"Yes?"

"Will you be my friend?"

...In response to my "confession",

"Eh? What'd you say?"

Rika teased me by playing dumb.

"...No, don't give me that 'What'd you say?' crap... Man, having someone say that to you is actually pretty irritating...... Sorry for saying it before..."

I felt incredibly stupid and started to blush as I reminisced about my past self.

"What nonsense are you talking about now, Senpai?"

Rika's usual aloof smile rose to her face, and she then said, as casual as can be,

"I mean, aren't we friends already?"

This time, those words were not lost in the wind. They clearly echoed across the entire rooftop under the clear December evening sky.

Shortly after, we both burst into laughter.

We simply laughed and laughed, unsure of what we were even laughing about.

It was almost like a revival of Sora and Taka from 10 years ago—— but it was also fundamentally different.

Sora isn't here.

And... neither is Taka.

The prideful Taka, who yelled "I'm not a weakling!" and recklessly attacked even the helping hand offered to him is no longer here.

It's not the loner Taka, but the weak and pathetic Kodaka Hasegawa who is here now.

A helplessly normal high schooler not dense enough to remain ignorant of the miracle that occurred around him, yet also too frail to simply accept that miracle.

"...Rika, can you help me?"

If I can't do anything alone, then I'll ask my dear friends for help.

"Sure thing."

Answered my friend—— Rika Shiguma, in a light tone of voice with a natural smile on her face.

Thus, the long long prologue has finally ended.

As the pathetic comedy ends, the curtains on the equally pathetic love comedy rise.

And to start with, I think I'll go give Sena Kashiwazaki a reply——


The End.




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