Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!
Completely dumbfounded, I stare back at the girl who just took a picture of me hurriedly pick up my Lillia-chan manga copy, like a man possessed.
Is this what I think it is?
Wait! Don’t jump to conclusions! Maybe it isn’t at all what I—
“Hm.” With an utterly evil smirk, the mysterious girl looks down at me once more.
Nope, I’m definitely doomed.
“Hey, what the hell do you think you’re doing?!” I hurriedly rise to my feet, as I fasten my cap and sunglasses on once more.
“Ah-ra, If it isn’t, Naruse, right? Who would have thought that you were an otaku…” With that same smirk plastered across her face, the girl speaks my name almost painfully slow.
“How do you—! No, I suppose everyone knows my name, huh?” Well I am popular after all, one or two more fans isn’t that big a surprise…
“Oye, this isn’t the time to revel in your fame, dude.” The blonde chick took a step forward as she spoke. “…Because I have proof of the real you…”
She soon flashed me a photo of me very clearly reaching out for the Lillia-chan manga, with a Lillia-chan bracelet very clearly on my wrist.
Shit, this is even worse than I thought!
Now, I can’t even use the excuse Kotone thought of! Why would I be wearing a Lillia-chan bracelet if I was just fetching it for my sister. huh?!
Oh lord, have mercy…
Then again, there’s a lot of Photoshop going on in this era right? Deep faking and all that?
But EVEN IF I manage to somehow convince everyone it’s fake, just the ruckus this will initially cause might be devastating…
Well, there’s only one thing left for me to do now!
Deciding it’s best to play dumb, I scoff.
“Who’s to say I’m an otaku. Huh? Pffft!”
“Yeah, reaching out so desperately for Lillia-chan’s manga, definitely isn’t a dead giveaway!” She snickered in response to my reply, before zooming into the picture further. “And that bracelet…”
Damn it, for someone who’s wearing glasses, she’s definitely got decent eyesight!
“Okay, okay! I suppose… you can’t just… delete it, right?” I internally hope for her answer to be a positive one, as I squint in anticipation.
“No can do, pal. I need YOU to do something for me, first, as a fellow otaku.” Her smirk only grew wider, as she stuffed her phone into her red hoodie’s pocket like a ninja storing away her kunai. Or Lillia-chan sheathing her wand. Okay, stop…
With a resigned sigh, and a click of my tongue, I turn back to the girl with a glare. Appearances be damned at this point.
“What do you want from me?”
“Oh, it’s very simple.”
Somehow I doubt it, but I got nothing to lose at this point, so might as well hear her out.
With no hesitation whatsoever, and a face as straight as it gets, she voices her demand.
“Simple as being my boyfriend.”
My reaction resembles that of a deflating balloon, as I hear out her ridiculous proposition.
Boyfriend? So she was just into me from the start? Oh, she must be a tsundere!
“Heh, you should have said so glasses-chan! Maybe we c—“ Right as I start making hand gestures, she swats my hand away with a glare.
“Hold your horses, you’ve got it all wrong.” Her frown deepened, as she crossed her arms over her chest. “Long story short, I need YOU to FAKE a relationship with ME for the time span of a few months.”
“Fake a relationship? A few MONTHS?!”
I am gradually taken aback as I think through her demands one by one.
Why would she need a fake relationship? And how on earth has she concluded any number of months, is a short amount of time?!
“You heard me.”
“I most certainly did, but that doesn’t change the fact what you’re saying is outrageous!”
“Yeah, outrageous!” I bark back, my glare evident. She can’t make me do this, surely! I mean whatever she’s suggesting is—
“Okay, then don’t mind me while I upload the picture of the famous Naruse reaching—“
Glasses-chan used blackmail!
“Understandable.” I suddenly stand as straight as an arrow.
It’s super effective!
“What was that?” Looking away from her phone, and from above her askew glasses, the girl smirks once again.
Look at that smirk… she’s definitely a sadist!
Be that as it may though, I can’t let her upload that picture! My whole social life that I’ve worked so hard to build will come crashing down on me, killing the famous Naruse Haruhi in the process. That’s why I…
“I’ll do it.”
“For real?” Despite her surprise, she still doesn’t seem convinced.
“For real. I can’t let you ruin my social status, after all.”
“Sheesh, I knew a normie like you would say that. You sure changed up that tune fast.” With a hearty chuckle sort of filled with relief, she extends her hand to me.
And with a grin that I can’t quite make out if it’s genuine or not, she introduces herself.
“Hayasaka Ichika, glad to be working with you.”
With a sigh, and despite myself, I shake her hand back.
“Naruse Haruhi, definitely not likewise…”
That very same day, I return home full of crushed dreams and nightmares, and decide to shut myself in my room and drown my sorrows amidst the cuteness and bravery of Lillia-chan the magical girl.
“Damn it…” I mutter, as I look up at my ceiling. That whole ordeal was such a big blow to my mood, not even Lillia-chan can lift it…
If only I hadn’t stumbled across that girl.
If only I kept my mask on…
If only I was watching where I was walking…
All this could have been avoided.
But I guess luck, or even fate, has a weird habit of hitting you square in the face, when you least expect it. With a bat, full of nails, wrapped in a chain.
Nevertheless, after the two of us shook hands on our deal, we also opted to create a few steadfast rules that were never meant to be broken.
Of course, trust was a vital part of an agreement, EVEN IF said agreement was built upon lies and blackmail.
The first rule, established by none other than me, was that we wouldn’t act like a couple at school. Of course, what would the point of acting like her boyfriend at school be if I wanted to uphold my reputation, and I dated some random otaku nerd girl?
Second rule, established by the both of us, was the no hand-holding or kissing rule. Of course, that was to be expected. We weren’t a real couple, after all.
Third rule. Established by the contractor, Ichika, is that we tell no one of this fake relationship. When asked if we are a REAL couple though, we need to reply yes. Why? Beats me.
That about covers the rules and what we discussed.
Although, despite the brief talk we had, she failed to mention WHY the hell she needs a fake boyfriend in the first place. No matter how much I prodded her, or needled her, she just wouldn’t budge.
She said she’d tell me when the time was right.
I’ve really gotten myself mixed up into something outrageous, though…
And despite how innocent that girl may seem to onlookers, with her small weak frame, and her nerdy glasses, she’s definitely a sadist through and through!
On the other hand. I’m at least not forced into courting a princess that suplexes the hell out of her suitors, right?
Ah… I can just hope this ends sooner than I think it will.
Maybe everything will be forgotten, and I won’t have to be no one’s boyfriend to uphold my status?
Yeah, maybe she’ll forget about it too…
As my wishful thinking is taking center stage, a vibrating sensation rippling through my phone catches me off guard.
Is this that Ichika girl? I mean we did exchange contact info but what could she need so early on in our agreement—
As my eyes dart through the screen though, my heart can't help but freeze.
Meet me at café XXDD tomorrow after class, we need to talk about the first date.
Oh, that is her, all right… And she has already voiced her first demand.