Chapter 2:

Into the Tiger's Lair

One Wish They Never Wanted


"Say, human," the fairy lifted up a business-like letter addressed to him that he didn't recognise, "I found this, this morning, in the little house where your paper is stored. I...sort of opened it, since I guessed it was part of my reversal spell..."

Takuma snatched it up with a sudden scowl - realising the "little house" was a mailbox - and proceeded to read, only to ball it up and aim it at the flying nuisance of a fairy.

It was a job letter for the bookstore right next to the convenience store where his fate had changed.

Just then his mother - a youthful-looking woman who now resembled him a lot - slammed open the door and began yelling into his ear about how her son was all "grown up" and "finally taking his responsibilities seriously". There was also something about how all his unsuccessful exercise had finally paid off, but he paid it all no attention.

None of that was his handiwork anyway.
----
The letter had directed him to a small backdoor part of the bookstore, which from the road next to it was presumably used for deliveries. The front of the store was covered in painted stripes already, so it startled the boy that the back of the store had them too.

A brunette woman with boyishly short hair and hornrimmed glasses was peering out of the single door present at this part of the building, but as Takuma let out a slow and involuntary yawn, she checked the silver watch on one wrist and realised the lanky suited bespectacled boy was early by a few minutes. From her formal dress and jacket, which almost matched his own dark suit and olive green tie, she was his interviewer at the very least and his (potential) boss at the most. She stepped back curtly to let him in, her shiny black heels making noises on the concrete that in his panic, he tuned out.

With the horrible sinking feeling in his chest still stirring and the tune of his heart in his ears, he readjusted his left jacket sleeve and took the few steps that would dictate his future.
----
Takuma stared up at the bookstore (which was informally known as "Toragai") and shivered. Not because the morning was cool - he'd already worn a black suit jacket for that - but because his worst nightmare had come true.

Despite all his stammering and nervousness during the interview, he'd landed the job.

As he narrowly avoided walking into the glass doors, the first thing - or rather person - he laid his eyes on was the girl at the counter.

It was the girl from the convenience store, but in the uniform of the store (black pants, black leather shoes, orange shirt that was a little too painful to the eyes). Surprise, surprise.

"You look familiar," she started as she dug through a stack of papers close to her and produced one before putting it back. "Oh, you're - you couldn't be, right? The boy I met in the convenience store a few days ago?"

"Unfortunately, yes." The boy's eyes were downcast as he slid past a shelf and took a place behind the sales counter.

"But you were -" she was lost for words, specifically words that wouldn't offend him.

"Fat? Big boned? Chubby? Believe me, I've heard it all." Takuma glanced away out of instinct.

"I'm Amelie," she finally interjected after an awkward momentary silence. "Amelie Leroy. Full time student, part time worker here at Toragai and your senior from now on." She turned away, and the boy swore he heard her say under her breath as she retrieved an orange uniform shirt for him, "Wasn't Takuma Takashiro in my year level at school, though?"

He had been in school - her school, in fact - up until a half year ago, but he preferred not to think about events from his school days, especially the ones that led up to his ultimate leave. They were just too painful to remember.


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