Chapter 1:

Playing vs Being Played

Pretty Boy Gangster

“I-I’m sorry!”

“It’s fine.”

“I-I-I wasn’t watching where I was going because the pile was too tall and— I'm not saying you're short! I just didn't see you there and, uh..."

The girl's babbling soon ran off into incoherent mumbling as she tried to find an excuse.

The young boy let out a sigh. Within the first week of classes, Akari Inmura had already experienced several accidental confrontations with his fellow classmates. This encounter had raised the tally to seven.

They were becoming rather tiresome for him. While Akari understood why the girl was scared, it was not like he was going to bash her head in. Everyone made mistakes and he was aware of that.

Akari was also completely aware that this was entirely his fault...

Moments before the collision, Akari had been staring at his phone, focusing on adjusting his hair.

Much to his distaste, his red hair did not match the black and blue uniform. He specifically loathed the blue tie but at least they complemented his orange eyes.

As the two collided, Akari dropped his phone and fell backward. With a mountain of papers exploding between them, Akari tried to conceal a laugh upon the subtle realization that this looked way worse than his conflicting school uniform.

"Did I hurt you?" Akari asked with a gentle smile, kneeling to help pick up the papers scattered across the floor.

"No! I mean, it hurts but I'm fine.."

Faced with the rumored gangster, the paper girl was not sure if his concern was genuine or to act as a threat.

Akari simply nodded to her response and neatly organized the sheets he had gathered in silence.

As she frantically picked up the papers around her, the paper girl mostly avoided gazing at Akari for fear of angering him. However, Akari's tranquil demeanor soon caused her to occasionally dart her eyes up with a flushed expression.

Reaching out for his phone, Akari noticed their encounter had drawn a crowd around them. It was the end of the school day but there were more students still lounging around than he expected.

"Do they not have something else to do? Perhaps homework, dinner, or work? I can only guess from those TV dramas. Ah!'My Hardworking Kouhai' should be on soon!" Akari glanced at his phone for the time.


His phone screen had shattered.

Akari took a deep breath. Ryoichi just fixed it for him a week ago after the phone's collision with a bat. Personally, Akari did not want to ask Ryoichi for another repair. His 'prices' were always too expensive for Akari's pride to handle.

The thought of simply going to him made Akari grimace.

Glancing back at the paper girl, Akari realized he must have been staring at his cracked phone for too long, lost in his thoughts.

If she was calm before, Akari's irritated expression caused both of her hands to quiver and be on the verge of tears.

"I'M SO SORRY!" She slammed her head against the ground with her light brown hair whipping the floor. "Please forgive me!"

The whispers around them grew louder as she groveled on his knees in front of Akari. He noticed the uncertain expressions of other classmates staring at the unpleasant slight.

Personally, Akari was more concerned about her posture than the crowd around them, right now. Did that skirt even reach low enough in that pose?

Trying to think of a way to end this dilemma without further issues, Akari instinctively scanned the hall. A sudden movement caught his attention and Akari's eyes widened upon noticing an anomalous sight beyond the window.

Glancing over a classmate's shoulder, Akari saw a member of the gang, Yuuta, laying on a thick tree branch with his arms reaching down. Below him was the bothersome Naoki who was halfway up the tree trying to grasp Yuuta's hand. As the two reached the canopy, both were drastically trying to keep themselves balanced on the schoolyard tree.

Akari almost lost his own balance when Yuuta spotted him staring and gave a huge wave with a beaming grin. He turned towards Naoki and mumbled something before both of them glanced back at Akari and resumed waving furiously in the sunny weather.

"What on earth are they doing here?!! They may be in casual attire but two grown men scrambling up a tree outside of a high school is definitely NOT what normal civilians would be doing!" Akari clenched his hands.

What a great way to end the first week of school.

Within the last ten minutes, Akari had accumulated a total of seven untimely collisions with scared students, his phone screen had cracked again, a girl was currently groveling at his feet, and Yuuta and Naoki were now on his tail like stalkers.

"How is the weekend going to pass..?"


Having Yuuta and Naoki on campus stressed Akari out more than he should have. It was fortunate the two fell out of the tree just before the crowd dispersed. If anything, Akari betted that half-held laugh scared the students away.

After Akari told the paper girl he would accompany her, she kept her eyes focused on him suspiciously the whole time. Akari theorized his classmate thought he was going to assault her when they were alone. Or perhaps she had determined Akari's given title of "The Ice Prince" really was living up to her expectations.

Or perhaps she was questioning the other nickname.

Either way, the whole confrontation was rather mentally draining for Akari. At least he was certain that after that encounter, the paper girl wouldn't be walking down that same hall any time soon.

After dropping off the stacks of papers, Akari made his way to the front gate. Both Yuuta and Naoki were waiting, one tapping his foot impatiently. As they spotted Akari, their bored frowns immediately shifted to beaming smiles.

"Akariiiiiii~" Naoki dived forward to give the young boy a hug only for Akari to kick his leg sharply. The glasses-wearing pervert clutched his shin before collapsing on the floor in pain.

Akari pouted overtly as he swiftly brushed past Yuuta and strolled down the sidewalk. Yuuta glanced away and whistled innocently while Naoki slowly made his way back to his feet.

When the two finally caught up with the red-haired student and surrounded him, Akari could see devious grins on their faces.

"What are you guys doing here?" He asked disappointedly with both hands on his bag's straps. "I thought you had promised to not harass me outside of our home."

"Aka-cchi, boy, do we have some interesting news for you~" Yuuta wrapped his arm around Akari's shoulder and pulled him in close.

"We got you a date for tonight!" Naoki exclaimed from the student's right as he pulled back his dark hair.

"That's not a funny joke." Akari tried to pry Yuuta off but his grip was too sturdy. The brown-haired gangster tugged him even closer almost to the point where Akari couldn't move at all.

"It's not a joke," Yuuta pulled his phone out in front of Akari to share a zoomed-in photo. "She is quite the looker."

Long glossy lavender-purple hair that complemented her bright hazel eyes. A warm gentle smile that was captured with her friends around her. A perfect slim figure with clear skin covered by a fitting brown T-shirt and light gray coat. Ten out of ten indeed.

"I-I won't lie. She is cute" Akari admitted shyly. "How did you guys manage to set this up?"

"Simple! After some chit-chat, all Nao-cchi had to do to seal the deal was show her your picture from last Christmas's costume party!" Yuuta excitedly explained as Naoki adjusted his glasses, looking rather quite proud of himself.

"Hold on..." Akari froze in place and gave Naoki a blank stare.

"You did what—"

Despite the cool breeze, Akari felt like he was thrown into hell. They might as well have told her he was a gangster!


Akari could not remember how he was coerced into the costume but he immensely regretted how every single member had that saved photo.

The costume was normal at first with a black vest and a red cardigan but after the black shorts, they soon went overboard...

A Santa hat that was two sizes too big was shoved over Akari's head followed by a small fluffy white collar that draped down to the red cape. His bare legs were exposed while Akari stumbled around blind in those brown winter boots in the center of the room. To make it worse, everyone was staring at him in that ridiculous costume with their phones out.

Sure, it may have been cute but it wasn't masculine in any way!

"I think I'm going to be sick." Akari bent down and hugged his knees. Taking pity, Naoki kneeled over and patted his back.

"There, there. Want a sweet?"

His hand was slapped away in an instant.

"I may be cute but I'm not a kid!" Akari leaped up and shouted out of frustration; his discomfort was taken over by disgust. Naoki held up his hands in defense as he sheepishly laughed.

Staring at the two adults, Akari still couldn't believe they were part of a gang.

Naoki Amaya, one of the soldiers, never paid attention to his surroundings. Despite his tall stature and how serious he may behave, the glasses-wearing idiot was always hanging out in arcades or ogling girls at malls.

Honestly, It surprised Akari that the man had several relationships lasting more than a month. But just like Naoki's victims, his lifestyle was too messy for all his dates.

Yuuta Shinohara, on the other hand, was very meticulous with his work. His super-protective behavior and always keeping his promises were almost the complete opposite of Naoki's nature.

Yuuta was the closest thing Akari had to a real big brother. After Boss found Akari ostracized in the orphanage, Yuuta was the one who took care of the young lad.

Honestly, Akari often wondered why Yuuta joined the gang in the first place. The only answer Akari had ever gotten out of him is that he loves money and enjoys using a simple metal bat.

"Aka-cchi, pass me your bag," Yuuta held his hand out. Akari gave him an uncertain stare before dropping his backpack. The brown-haired male exchanged it for the black one he had behind him and tossed it in the boy's direction. "Your date clothes!"

Akari fumbled back to grab the backpack before holding it between his arms. He hesitantly glanced up at Yuuta who gave a signaling nod.

"This better not be another Santa costume..."

Zipping open the bag, Akari quickly rummaged through its contents: a pair of jeans and a red-orange long-sleeved shirt with black ends. Not the type of attire he would have expected for a date.

"Can I go in something more stylish?" Akari whined, tugging on Yuuta's brown leather jacket. "Something like what you're wearing!"

"These would probably be too big for you," Yuuta pointed out their significant height difference while Akari buried his head in Yuuta's gray turtleneck shirt.

"You're the best you when you're simple and cute!" Naoki smugly proclaimed. Akari spun around angrily.

"I'm supposed to be cool in public, not cu—"

Akari's tongue was met with a sweet sensation that interrupted his thought. Glancing up, he realized Yuuta had stuck a lollipop in his mouth. Cherry.

"Aka-cchi's much cuter when he is quiet." The charismatic gangster whispered with a soft stare that would entice any fair maiden.

Akari, however, was glaring daggers at him furiously.

Noticing his lure failed, Yuuta returned to his usual playful self and shoved a crumbled note into Akari's hand.

"I wrote the address and her name in here. 6 pm sharp! You better not stand her up."

Immediately, the two shot forward and began scurrying away like rats, waving as they ran.

"Bye Akari! Enjoy your night!"

"We'll tell Boss you're busy tonight, Aka-cchi!"

Akari stood motionless as his friends disappeared down the road. Finally coming to his senses, he let out the loudest sigh in his life.

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