Chapter 1:

「Chapter 1: Ichika Tachibana is Merciless With a Boy's Heart」

I Fell in Love, Now What?

"Sorry but I'm already in love with someone else."

When you hear something like that, the only thing you feel like doing is dying. I mean, what is there left for you? You spend days building up the courage to confess to your crush, planning how you’ll ask her to meet behind the school only for her to reject you without hesitation. It’s a real gut punch. It takes days for you to catch your breath again.

And what’s worse is when they say that they are in love with someone else. All hope is lost at that point. But at least she decided not to completely humiliate me by saying Ew, gross! or Sorry, but who are you again?

My point is, I wanted to die.

"Hmm. But if it makes you feel any better, I'll let you call me by my given name."

"Huh? What do you mean, Tachibana?"

She brought her finger to her chin and gave it some thought. "You know, “Ichika.” Come on, say it with me."


Then, as if she were pointing at the syllables of a word on a chalkboard, she sounded out her name.

“I… Chi… Ka…♪♪” she said, waving her finger back and forth as if she were counting the beats of a song. “Simple, no?”

What was she doing? Of course I already knew her name!

"Got it? You can even add a little '-chan ♪♪' at the end if you want," she added with a shake of her finger.

"The way you say it makes it feel demeaning, to be honest." It’s as if she was trying to make fun of me while emasculating me at the same time. She was treating me like you would a toddler who was learning someone's name. It made it seem like she only thought of me as her little brother.

"Hmm. I should have told you to call me that a while back. I've never been into these sorts of formalities. And plus, I already call you by your given name, Haru. It wouldn't be fair for you to be so formal with me. It’s not like I’m older than you. We’ve been friends for a while after all."

Aghk. What a dreaded word.No boy wants to ever hear the word “friend” while confessing their love.

Yep. She definitely didn't see me as a romantic interest.

I kind of saw it coming, though. We’ve been good friends for a while and I feared that she wouldn’t have feelings for me. Nevertheless, I wanted to give it a shot and confess knowing that I might get rejected. I just didn’t realize how bad a rejection could feel.

“I see,” muttered, dejectedly. “Thank you for your time.”

I was ready to leave but Tachibana called out to me.

“I really am sorry, Haru. It’s not that I don’t like you. I just love someone else.”

“And who is this lucky person? You still haven’t mentioned their name.” I asked as I turned back to face her.

Her cheeks noticeably turned a soft pink and she grew a bit fidgety at the thought of revealing her crush’s name as if she were confessing her love right then and there.

"Alright, fine.” Tachibana gave into the idea and returned to her usual self. “Since you built up the courage to confess to me, I might as well tell you her name."

"Her name?"

"Yep. She's kind, she's smart, but most importantly she's oh so cute! And her name is Izumi Suzukuma!"

What a flamboyant way to say it. I half expected her to wink and have sparkles come out of her eye as she made peace signs with her hands. Tachibana would make a terrible magical girl, though.

But this presented a new revelation for me. How was I supposed to know Tachibana was into women?! Not only was she not interested in me, or sexualities didn’t match. My chances of ever going out with Tachibana are effectively zero now. It felt somewhat depressing, to be honest. A matter of bad luck.

But ironically, this became a problem for Tachibana as well. "I never got the impression that Suzukuma was into women, though," I pointed out. “Won’t that be a problem?”

"But, Haru, there is hope for me," she began, waving her finger. She placed one hand on my shoulder and used the other to direct my attention upward as she gazed into the sky full of determination. “As luck would have it, we were talking about the topic in a group one day and she mentioned how she was fine dating whoever as long as she loved them. Romantic, isn’t it?”

Sure, it was romantic, but I still felt cheated.

“So, is she in love with you?”

At the sound of my question, her gaze darkened and made its way to the ground and she moved away from me.

“Ehehe… I’m not too sure about that,” she admitted.

Who knew we would be stuck in similar situations.

“Do you plan to confess, then? You won’t know for sure until you ask. And I doubt Suzukuma would ever confess her love to someone. She’s terribly shy.”

Though she was class president, (purely because she was forced into it) Suzukuma only was herself in her friend group, a group Tachibana was often a part of.

“I feel like that might be a hard thing to do. You see, I’m also very shy when it comes to the whole confessing your love to someone thing.”

Now that was a surprise. Tachibana talked to almost everyone at school and was friends with a large group of people. That coupled with her naturally good looks made it almost inevitable that she would become fairly popular amongst the student body. If I hadn’t known her since middle school, I doubt I would have managed to become a close friend of hers.

The point is, she is not at all shy. She is a very outspoken person. That’s one of the reasons it took so long for me to confess. I feared she would go on to tell people about it resulting in everybody laughing at my rejection. Not that Tachibana was necessarily the kind of person to do that.

“But even if I get nervous with the idea of confessing to her, I still want to do it,” Tachibana admitted in a soft voice, the rosy blush returning to her cheeks. “But I definitely want to confess before the school year ends.” Though her voice trembled just a bit, her proclamation didn’t lack determination, though, it was more bad news for me.

“But it’ll take some time,” she continued. “I want to build up our relationship a bit more before I confess so I won’t be taking any chances.”

“So basically your plan is to seduce her into loving you?”

“That’s a cynical way to put it, but yes.” Then she began to think. “But if we go down that route, maybe I could wear something sexy or show up to her apartment in black lingerie. Maybe that will do it.”

She said all of this with a giant smirk plastered on her face, yet it looked as if she were giving that last idea some serious consideration.

“Nonononono!!” That was a dangerous road she was going down. As a friend of hers, it was my duty to stop her from doing anything stupid. “I’m sure she’ll only become alienated toward you if you do that.”

“Hmmm, you have a point. If I show up half-naked while she’s dressed in casual clothes, she might get uncomfortable, so I'll bring a pair along for her as well.”

“I think you’re missing the point.” And what kind of a solution was that? I’m surprised she hasn’t already sent Suzukuma running to the hills.

“Yeah, she's probably into cute, pink underwear.”

Did I make a mistake? Was this really the girl I fell in love with? I never even knew that this was her sense of humor. All I could do while she laughed her heart out was give an exasperated sigh.

Noticing this, Tachibana managed to get her giggling under control and sighed. “That’s basically the plan. Oh, and please do keep this between us. I don’t know how she’ll react if she finds out. And of course, I won't say anything about what you told me.”

“Don’t worry. If anything, I just feel a bit depressed now. I should have done this after school so that I could have just gone home to cry in bed.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I really cherish our friendship and don’t want it to end. I’m also not going to treat you any differently now, so feel free to hit on me as much as you want. Who knows, maybe that will get me to change my mind.”

Though I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way, her last comment seemed a bit cruel. She knew that she would never see me as a romantic interest but still decided to humor me. I’d be mad if she had said it with ill intentions but that’s not like her. Still, her consolation did little to lift my mood.

After a moment of silence, the school bell rang signaling the end of lunch period.

“Welp, we better head off to class. See you in class, Haru.”

“See ya, Ichika,” I whispered as she disappeared behind the corner of the school building. She gave me permission to use that name, so I might as well use it. Though, it still felt awkward to say it any louder given what just happened.

I sighed and started to head back inside when a voice yelled out my name.

"Hey! Haru!"

Who the hell…?

The voice had called me from above. When I looked up to investigate I found my two best friends, Sora and Yuma waving from the window of our classroom on the second floor.

Yuma leaned out a bit and yelled "How did your confession go?"

Crap!! Did they hear everything we said?!

"From what we could hear, Tachibana didn't seem interested. Did she reject you?" Sora chimed in.

Shut up, shut up, shut up. At the volume they are yelling at, everyone in the class is going to hear them. I had to adjust the collar of my shirt because I was beginning to break into a nervous sweat.

"Don't worry, buddy. You’ll find another girl," Yuma assured me while Sora gave me two thumbs up and a toothy grin.

Every time one of those idiots yelled out to me, I wanted to bury my head in the sand. Good thing there wasn't anyone near me because I was practically a nervous wreck ready to passport from a panic attack.

Wanting the potential embarrassment to be reduced, I waved back at them with a forced smile and told them I would tell them everything later. They nodded and pulled their heads back inside.

Finally having a moment to collect my thoughts, my mind immediately went back to the humiliation I had just suffered at the hands of Tachibana. Now, all I could do was sigh and move on with my life. I would go about my day at school like normal and return home only to cry whilst in the bath.

As I headed to class I caught a glimpse of a random guy standing in the distance staring back at me. I was so fed up with my bad luck at this point that I balled up my fists and yelled "The hell are you looking at?!!"

Character Trivia: Tachibana does actually own a pair of black lace underwear. She has never worn them but she bought them just in case. Wink. She is thinking about getting a white pair.