Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!
“Okay listen up, punks!”
A raspy, booming voice echoed across the soccer field, commanding attention from me and my teammates. We stood tall and rigid, like arrows ready to be launched.
It was some while after classes had ended for the day, and remembering the normie duties I had neglected for the past few days, I decided to show up for football practice. Thankfully, I was quite the star man in the team, so I didn’t get too grilled for skipping practice on several occasions.
Incidentally, the burly man with the terrifying voice, and the whistle around his neck was none other than our coach. He sometimes liked to believe we’re in some sort of military camp during practice, but he is actually quite the gentle soul. Provided you didn’t misplace a pass that is.
“…10 laps around the field, go!”
We responded in unison, sprinting across the green field, the pleasant scent of grass filling our nostrils as our cleats dug into the ground.
“Yesh?!” I flinched at our coach’s voice, as he suddenly appeared beside me. What was this? Some sort of instant transmission technique?
“It’s 15 laps for you!”
15? That’s brutal!
I guess that’s what you get when you miss practice, huh?
Despite myself, I nodded vigorously. There really wasn’t any way to deny him when he was in the zone…
After finishing the laps, our training consisted of a few rondos, some shooting and passing drills, and concluded with a mock match.
Safe to say, when all of it actually came to an end, I was huffing and puffing for dear life. The summer heat didn’t exactly help with the situation either.
"Good job, everyone." the coach acknowledged, as we finished our stretching.
“I’m beat…” One of my teammates, Kanda Satoshi, one year younger than myself, grumbled.
“You better not let coach hear you say that…” I retorted.
“You’re not tired, Naruse-senpai?”
“Nah, I’m good.” I shrugged, as we walked towards the changing rooms side by side.
That was a big fat lie of course, but I couldn’t afford to show any weakness in front of my kouhai!
“Heh… You’re quite impressive, senpai.” Kanda said nonchalantly, as he looked around
“Oh…” He exclaimed, as his eyes landed upon something. Or rather, someone.
“What is it?” I too raised my gaze.
Is that a... fox deity?!
No, wrong novel…
"Isn't that girl your... um, friend?" Kanda pointed at a lone figure by the field, seeking refuge from the sun near the school corridor. With striking, short pink hair and an attractive figure, there was only one person it could be.
What was she doing here?
“So you do know her…” Kanda let out a sigh “She’s so cute. I wish I could talk to girls like that too, once in a while…”
Ignoring my kouhai’s loner remark, I notice how Sumi’s eyes keep scanning the field over and over. Soon, our eyes meet.
With a shy, but radiant smile she raises a hand in greeting towards me.
“You’ll get your chance, too.” I chuckle, breaking off from Kanda and heading towards the enticing shade, and even more enticing smile.
Ah, Sumi… Suddenly my stamina has been miraculously replenished.
“Haruhi-kun.” She smiled upon my arrival.
“Hey, Sumi.” I smiled back, as a slight breeze blew throughout the field and flitted her hair about just slightly.
“Uhm… here.” Timidly, she revealed the hands she had hid behind her back, and offered me something.
It was a bottle of a famous brand. Wait, she got me a sports drink? Did she watch me practice?!
“Heh, thanks Sumi, you didn’t have to.” Trying to mask my shock I give her the best toothy grin I can muster.
“Ah, no problem, I see you were working hard so…” Fidgety, she too tried to mask the embarrassment her flushed cheeks betrayed.
Oh Sumi-chan… you’re an angel.
Crap, her cuteness caught me so off guard I got nothing to say.
Is my breath alright? I don’t reek of sweat, do I?
“…Haruhi-kun?” Sumi's voice brought me back to reality
As the shade of red across her face deepened, she withdrew her hands back again and looked away.
“Everybody’s already gone home, but… would you like to walk home together?”
Did I hear this correctly? Am in dreamland? Did I die and go to heaven?
Suppressing my thoughts of shouting out my gratitude to the heavens, I nod firmly and give my reply.
“Sure, count me in. I’ll meet you at the gate as soon as I’m done changing, okay?”
After sharing one final smile, I made my way to the changing room, all calm and composed.
“Hm, hm, hm!”
Okay, maybe I was humming to myself a little.
After getting changed, I headed to the school gate where Sumi stood, school bag in hand. The setting sun cast a magnificent orange glow across the campus, serving as a picturesque backdrop to Sumi's heavenly presence.
I greeted Sumi again, and together we set off toward the train station. Despite living a considerable distance apart, the train was the most convenient method of transportation for both of us. Our prestigious high school was the sole point our small town could take pride in, believe it or not. That was also partly why the student body held such an outdated outlook on otaku culture to begin with. Country bumpkins the lot of them…
“How come you stayed so late today, Sumi?” I broached a topic out the top of my head as we walked down the paved road.
“Oh, I had some student council work to do.” She replied with a smile “It can get quite busy before the exam season.”
Uff, exam season….
“Exams… Why’d you have to remind me…?” I sighed dramatically, earning a slight giggle from Sumi.
“Heh, but you’re always in the top 5 in our class, aren’t you?”
“Still, that doesn’t mean I enjoy studying all that much.” I shrugged slightly.
Being good at academics is just a part of the image I want to maintain, but of course I can’t say that aloud can I?
“What’s with that? You sound like Chihiro-kun…” Sumi held back another chuckle.
“True, he always goes on about how his morning and night hair routines are more important than finals…”
That ikemen snob can be really ridiculous.
“Is it really, though?”
“Oh it is, trust me. On last year’s school trip, Riku tried to buzz all his hair off while he was sleeping…”
“No way! And what happened?”
“He woke up instantly, grabbed the razor and threw it across the room like some sort of ninja…” I shuddered at the recollection of that event. “…The next day Riku woke up with a buzzed head himself… said it was revenge.”
“Wow! Don’t tell me…”
“And that’s why Riku’s being growing it out ever since. Crazy right?”
As we continued our lively conversation, we soon reached the train station. Passing through the gates, we waited together on the platform, knowing that we would be taking the same train home.
Eventually, the train arrived, and we found seats next to each other. However, I knew that I would have to disembark a few stops before Sumi.
As the announcement for the next station played over the speakers, I got up from my seat.
Ah, I wish we could spend more time together…
Right as I made for the door, Sumi followed closely behind me, tugging on my sleeve.
“Yes, Sumi?” I turned around, baffled.
“Uhm, would you be free this Saturday?” She asked hastily, realizing my stop was almost up.
Wait, is she asking me out? But I’ve already got a girlfriend!
Well, fake girlfriend. That means it’s… okay for me to go, right?
Gulping down the ball of nerves, I nodded.
“Sure, why do you ask?”
“I was wondering if you’d like to… go out with me somewhere.” With a distinct redness spreading across her face, she squeezed my sleeve albeit slightly.
With determination, I smiled back and stepped out the platform.
“Yeah, sounds like a plan. Text me when you get home.”
As realization spread across her face, a smile bloomed.
The doors closed between us at once, as the train dashed back down the tracks.
After exhaling sharply, I turned on my heel.
I’m going on a date with Sumi!
Smiling like a creepo to myself, I made my way home.
Ah, how beautiful it is to be alive!
The song of the birds is music to my ears!
The trees look so…
Excuse me, I’m trynna have a moment here!
Exasperated, I flip my phone out of my pocket, and look over my notifications.
At once, my heart sunk to the pit of my stomach.
I need you at my place.