Chapter 6:

The Otaku Earns Some Points

Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!


“Oh, anata, what are you saying to the kids?”

“I’m just stating my perspective, Kaori. I don’t want my daughter to be forced into any sort of relationship.” Ichika’s father menacing side eye very clearly landed on me.

Excuse me? It’s the other way around actually! I’m being blackmailed the heck out of this dinner ACTUALLY!

“No, father, I’m not being forced into…. anything.” Ichika protested, restraining herself from getting more heated.

“Then you wouldn’t mind telling me what sort of stuff Haruhi-kun actually likes, correct?”

What I like? I mean, even if she did tell him, he wouldn’t know if she was telling the truth since I can effectively accept or deny anything she says…

“Eh?”

Yet it seemed Ichika’s restlessness has caused her to miss that very obvious plot hole altogether.

“Haruhi-kun….” She gulped nervously, turning to me “…likes, books…”

Sure, I do like them, mostly light novels, though.

“….Football….”

Uh-huh, sure do.

“…Anime?”

Well, that’s supposed to be a secret, but I’ll let it slide.

“And….”

“And…?”

“Girls?”

Pffft!

The hell do you mean by GIRLS?

Liking girls isn’t a hobby, it’s a sexuality!

“Girls? As in other girls?”

“Sure…” Ichika nodded, hesitantly.

Oye, why are you nodding?! That makes me sound like a goddamn playboy!

With a clear dagger stare aimed at me, Ichika’s father retorted.

“I see….”

“I’m sure she means something else, dear.” Kaori-san chimed in from the side, trying to diffuse the situation.

Okay, I need to have a one-on-one with your daughter folks, like right now!

“Uhm, Ichika, will you show me to the bathroom, please?” I smile somewhat apologetically.

“Eh?”

With a quick tug on her shin, I get up, maintaining my poker face.

Finally, she gets the hint, rising from her own seat too.

“U-uh yes!”

“I’m sure you can find it yourself…” On the other hand, Yuuto-san arched a brow at us, understandably skeptical

“Oh, you see I have a terrible sense of direction…”

And with that as my excuse, and Kaori-san’s slightly tipsy giggling, probably as a result of the wine, the two of us headed to the bathroom.

<><><><><><><>

”Hey, I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but you’re about to blow your own cover out there!”

“I know! I know, okay?!”

Back in the confines of her house’s rather spacious bathroom, I give Ichika a piece of my mind. Shaking her head, she sits at the edge of the tub, looking too worse for wear.

With a sigh, Ichika leaned her head back, and spoke once more.

“It’s just that… My father always gets me nervous, especially when he’s all serious like that.”

“So your dad’s the problem, huh?”

“Yeah…. Maybe the fear of revealing my lie might also be a factor.”

“Might? Girl you’re about to short-circuit out there!”

“I know!” With an unladylike groan, Ichika muttered to herself. “This stupid dress is so stuffy, and the contact lenses are hurting my eyes… I just want to punch myself in the face…”She exhales, frustrated.

Snorting, I step forward “May I have the honor, ma’am?”

“Oh, try me…” with a menacing glare, Ichika looked up at me.

Always ready for a fight this one, huh?

“Heh.” I chuckled, withdrawing. “That look suits you better. Fierce. Too bad you can’t glare your father into submission.”

With a hint of amusement in her eyes, Ichika finally stood up. “Huh, what’s with that? Sounds stupid…”

With a scoff, she was already out the door, yet I had a feeling that some of her spunk was back.

<><><><><><><>

After pretending to take my time in the bathroom, I returned to the battlefield, AKA the dinner table.

“It sure took you a while, Haruhi-kun.”

“Bad sense of direction Yuuto-san, like I said.”

With a composed smirk, I took my seat.

“But Ichika guided you there…”

“I meant the sink, and the towels of course.”

After chuckling at my witty comments, Ichika’s mother offered me some more salad, which I gladly accepted. As long as it wasn’t made by Ichika that is.

“Say, Haruhi-kun, do you really like… anime, like Ichika said?”

Woah, that came out of nowhere…. Is she suddenly interested in learning about my people’s culture?

“Ichika too, seems kinda enthusiastic about it… What do they call that term… Otaku?”

Before I could reply, Yuuto-san perked up.

“Almost too enthusiastic…. I’ve told her countless of times to drop such childish hobbies, too.”

Childish… hobbies?

Is he referring to anime, by any chance?

As I steal a glance from Ichika, I notice she’s got her gaze cast low, almost as if we touched upon a sensitive topic.

Does that mean her father really opposes her watching anime? On what basis?

“Can we not bring this up, maybe?” Ichika smiles apologetically at her father, who then turns to me, almost as if evaluating me

“What do you think, Haruhi-kun?”

I don’t know what their deal is, or how their relationship works, but Ichika looks downright distressed about this whole topic. I know how it feels to suppress your desires for the sake of others… And I know it’s hard. What I don’t know, is if what I’m about to say will spell trouble for the both of us. Even so, I feel like I have to say my piece.

“…Yuuto-san with all due respect…”

“Hm?”

“I do not agree at all, with all that’s being said. It’s not a matter of me sharing Ichika’s hobbies or not, but it’s rather about how you’re putting pressure on your daughter about something that shouldn’t be up to you.”

Silence spread across the dinner table at once. Ichika gulped and met my gaze.

“…It’s not a matter of being childish, or immature. Ichika likes what she likes, and no matter how unbecoming of a girl her age it might seem to be, it is something she is passionate about. Shouldn’t you, as her father, be supporting her instead, Yuuto-san? What good would more pressure do?”

When I finish my long speech, the three other attendees are left staring at me in disbelief.

Of course, Yuuto-san was the first to recover, looking almost ready to explode.

“Haruhi-kun…” he clears his throat.

Anticipating an outburst, I brace myself.

We’re gonna be throwing hands, I presume? What’s it gonna be? A duel? A sumo wrestling match?

“…Well said.”

“Eh?”

“Oh my, that was quite fascinating, Haruhi-kun!”

Kaori-san applauded, while Ichika’s father nodded in satisfaction.

“I had my doubts about you, and I still do, but the way you defended Ichika was rather interesting. You have earned some respect.”

Am I hearing this right?

Glancing at Ichika in order to confirm, I catch a rare, genuine smile on her face.

Woah.

Turns out that when she smiles like that, a rare mature beauty shines through her features.

“I… see.” I mutter, relaxing against my seat.

Thank God, I didn’t blow it! It would have been terrible if Yuuto-san took it the wrong way!

“I’ll bring the dessert!” Ichika rose from her seat, a certain, renewed spring to her step.

<><><><><><><>

Incidentally, our dinner concluded without any further mishaps, so, with the mission complete, I waved goodbye to my fake girlfriend's parents while Ichika walked me to the gate.

“Honey, you didn’t have to see me off…” I shrugged, walking merrily all the while.

“Oh, shush…” Ichika held back a chuckle, leaning against the gate.

“Say…”

“Hm?” I turned around at her soft prompting.

"After today, I..." Ichika spoke, her tone tinged with amusement and her cheeks slightly flushed. “…I just wanted to say, you may not be exactly what I thought you were.”

What did she think of me in the first place?

“Me?” I pointed at myself and scoffed. “You mean the dashingly handsome classmate, with great hair, and even greater sense of humor? Oh, I’m all that, all right.”

“Pfft!” Stifling a mocking laugh, she stuck out her tongue. “Get lost, normie.”

Despite the animosity in her words, her tone suggested something rather playful, as I chuckled and made my way down the road.

The night was coming to an end, and the moon hung high in the sky.

“Hey!”

Just as I was about to head home for good, Ichika rushed out of the gate and called after me, her face slightly more flustered than before.

“Thank you!!” With a deep bow, and fighting more color from tinting her face, Ichika’s hair swayed behind her as she bowed to me for a moment.

Slightly taken aback by her gratitude, I flinch.

Did I just receive a thank you from Ichika? I’m being blackmailed here so…

Why?

“Does that mean our deal is off?” I chuckle, raising a brow.

“Keep dreaming!” With that as her final line, and a sassy smirk, Ichika withdrew back through the gate.

“Haaah…”

I sigh, still looking at the spot where she just stood.

I’m being blackmailed so… why….

Why did her gratitude make me happy?

While pondering this puzzling thought, I made my way back home.

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