Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!
Another morning, another ordinary day at school.
Oh, how I wished that to be true....
“Haaah…” Slumping against my desk very dramatically, I let out an equally dramatic sigh.
“Haru? Something the matter?”
“Something the matter? He looks dead inside, can’t you see?”
Riku and Chihiro, alarmed by my unusual behavior, looked over at me with puzzled expressions.
“I just didn’t get enough sleep, guys.” I waved my hand off dismissively.
Were that the only problem I was currently facing, though, I could probably be called a lucky guy.
Since I got that text from the devil herself last night, I’ve been tossing and turning in my bed all through the night…
She said something about meeting at a café, and she also said something about the FIRST DATE, like it’s some sort of trial, I have to overcome. What if she exposes me, anyway? What if she’s just toying with my pure heart?
While I was still going through pure agony, Chihiro smirked playfully. “Hm, I bet a girl is the reason he couldn’t sleep last night…”
“You mean as in… the same bed, Chihi?” Riku asked, gulping audibly.
“Of course that’s what I mean…”
How do this guy’s guesses, always hit and miss the mark at the same time?
Nevertheless, I wasn’t having it.
“Shhhhh!” I hissed at them like an angry cat. I can’t let him spread weird rumors…. “Sumi might hear you…!”
As those words escape me, both of them now turn back at once.
Shit, now I’ve done it.
“Oh, shut up…”
Right as my thoughts commanded my gaze around the class, in hopes that my friends’ weird shenanigans didn’t attract any unwanted attention, a certain blonde haired girl wearing glasses caught my eye.
For a moment, our eyes meet, as she pauses in front of her seat.
And with a very sadistic, familiar smirk, she turns away.
What was her deal anyway?!
“Alright class, Homeroom is about to begin.”
Damn it. It seemed like I needed to wait in order to unravel her mystery.
Thankfully, the day passed without incident, as I managed to mask my mounting anxiety, and soon it was time for the ultimate 100 level boss—the meeting with Hayasaka Ichika.
After making sure I got it right, I entered the café discreetly, wearing a hat to remain incognito. After exchanging pleasantries with the waitstaff like a true gentleman, I spotted Hayasaka sitting alone in a corner, all by her lonesome. I joined her at the table, trying to act nonchalant.
As soon as I sat down though, it seemed the girl before me had something to say.
“Seriously dude, you need to ditch the cap. You look like a mailman."
What? Is that the first thing she says to someone she doesn’t even know?!
Safe to say, I wasn't gonna let that slide.
“You need to ditch the glasses, you look like a nerd.”
“Well, sorry I’m nearsighted.”
“Well sorry I don’t wanna be… seen.”
Leaning forward, Hayasaka suddenly assumed a business-like demeanor “Anyway, I believe you’re already aware of why I called you here today, right?”
“Hell no, I’m not! What is that “first date” about, anyway?” I hiss back at her, causing a vein to pop out her forehead like a whack-a-mole mini game.
“Well, I was gonna get to it, if you would just stop bitching around.”
The hell did she say?!
“Bitching?! Excuse me—“
While I’m about to pop a vessel, a very well-dressed girl with prim and proper manners cuts me off, a curt smile on her face.
“May I have your order, please?”
“Sure…” Hayasaka said, dropping her glare and moving to the menu.
“I’ll have a parfait.”
“And I’ll have…” What should I even get? During dates I always go for black coffee, since it makes me look mature, but that thing seriously tastes like a patch of dirt.
Out of the blue, Hayasaka suddenly leans forward, an intoxicatingly sweet smile on her face.
“…Orange juice, right darling?” Before I can even reply. She does it for me. And in extremely ridiculous fashion too.
After they both flash a smile at each other, the waitress withdraws.
“Oye, what’s the big idea?” I ask, as soon as the waitress is out of earshot.
“Shut up…” She clears her throat, a rosy tint barely visible on her cheeks. “If we’re gonna be a fake couple, then we need to get some practice in.”
“Ha!” I scoff,. “I don’t need no practice, I’ve been on dates before.”
“Wow, talk about being lame…”
If I didn’t know better, I’d say that almost indicated a loss of interest. That’s not really likely though now, is it?
“Back to our topic now…”
Okay, it was about time we got to business. I’m sure she will just brief me today, after all it’s not even been a day since this farce began so—
“Tonight. My house. You’ll be meeting my parents, got it?”
“The hell?!” I shot back instinctively. “Isn’t this moving a little too fast?!”
With an unfazed gaze, she arched a brow at me before replying.
“Look, you’re not here to make demands, you’re here to smile, and play the boyfriend.”
“Okay, okay…” With a sigh, I ultimately give in. “So, what’s the plan?”
“No plan in particular. I just give you the address, you show up, we have dinner and then you go home.”
Suppressing a sigh, I retort “What’s the point of that, anyway? Who are you trying to impress?”
While I expect her to snap back at me when I say that, her eyes are suddenly cast downwards, an unreadable expression taking over her face.
She almost feels torn. Weak.
“That’s… none of your concern.”
Hm? Did I hit a sore spot?
As much as I don’t like taking advantage of people, judging from how vulnerable she seems, it looks like I might finally get my answers.
“Look…” I lean over the table. “If you can tell me, why you’re making me do all this, then maybe I can help you more effectively.”
“Don’t you try and use your talk-no-jutsu on me….” Her eyes still cast away, she gives a half-hearted reply.
As a fellow otaku though, I salute that reference.
“Don’t I deserve to know what I’m stepping into at least? What if I say something weird and mess it up or—“
“Okay, okay! Haaah!” With an exasperated sigh, she pushes her glasses up her nose and begins speaking again.
“My father is really old-fashioned, and unless I get a boyfriend, he’ll marry me off to some son of an acquaintance of his…”
That sounds so romcom-like that words fail me for a moment.
How the hell did I get mixed up in this? I can’t be the main character, right? All of my family is still intact!
“You mentioned a trial period, though… What are you doing after that?”
“Nothing. He works abroad since I was born, so he’ll probably leave in a couple months. His company allowed him to work away from base for a while, which is why he came back in the first place.”
“I see…” I mutter, as our order arrives, almost as if on cue.
The more I hear about this, the more I believe I was somehow roped into some weird plot for a webnovel romance competition.
“Now that you know…” Ichika started, as she rummaged through her bag. “Here.”
She slid a small notepad across the table towards me.
“What is this? You wrote a poem for me?”
“This is not Doki Doki Literature club, dude.”
“It better not be…” With a slight scoff, I flip said notepad open to reveal a series of bullet-organized facts.
“What in tarnation?”
“Let me explain.” She cleared her throat. “These are, a series of things I like, and don’t like, as well as some things you need to know about me.”
What is she on about?
“I don’t know if you’ve heard Hayasaka, but people tend to get to know each other, instead of exchanging notes about themselves like its math.” With that, I let her notepad back on the table.
“Getting to know each other takes time, which we do not have.” With a fake sweet smile, she slid the notepad further towards me. “So, read the notes, because my father will most likely give you a pop quiz. He may not know much about me since he’s always away, but he certainly knows more than you do, Fake Boyfriend-kun.”
“And no Hayasaka. It’s Ichika. We’re supposed to be a couple, remember?” With a slight shake of her head to fill a small pause, she looked up at me, trying to mask her uncertainty. “…Haruhi.”
First name basis, huh?
Despite her very assertive ways, she does make a fair point.
Am I seriously gonna study for a dinner date like it’s a quiz, though?
That remains to be seen.