Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!
Code red! I repeat, code red! CODE RED DAMNIT!
“Ah, it’s nothing…”
These definitely were Ichika's parents...
Their boat however was directly behind ours, so all they could see was my back, thankfully. But if any of our boats stayed where they were for long… Let’s just say that wouldn’t end well for me.
Without even turning back, heck without even blinking, I rowed away from the familiar voices like a Viking warrior on a raid.
“Oh, Haruhi-kun! We’re going pretty fast!”
“Yeah! We are! Haha!”
Sorry Sumi, grab onto the swan, this is gonna get rough!
“…What came… over you…?” Sumi huffed, almost seasick, as we walked out the gates, and split the bill of the boat renting between us.
Before y'all say anything, I had already paid for ice cream.
“Ah, you know… this rowing was so boring, I had to kick it up a notch.” I shrugged in an attempt to play it off. “You could call it… training!”
“Training?” Sumi smiled in amusement, “You mean about your upcoming football match?”
“You’re right! Exactly!” I nodded over and over, “I would never forget about that, haha!”
I definitely did. Sorry, coach.
We were still one arc away though, so for now I had to evade Ichika’s parents!
“Silly, Haruhi-kun…” Sumi giggled, as we walked.
“Keep calm, Haruhi. Keep calm…” I tried to ease out of the initial shock of almost being caught cheating on my fake girlfriend, as I waited for Sumi a few ways from the ladies’ restroom department.
The washrooms were thankfully off to the side of the theme park, and encased in a small bundle of tall bushes. Only a single lamp post stood atop the buildings and greenery, illuminating what little there was.
That did work at my advantage of course, since nobody on the theme park could see me. At least if they didn’t come this way that is.
I hope Yuuto-san and Kaori-san didn’t get roped into any water drinking competition after the boat ride.
Why were they even here in an attraction aimed at teenage couples in the first place? Man, they’re pushing fifty for crying out loud!
My luck this month has been going so downhill you’d think it was some kind of crypto currency after Ilon Mousk badmouthed it on twitter…
“Oh, Yuuto-san dear… hush…”
Oh for the love of everything that is magical about Lilia-chan!
“I can’t help it, Kaori. It seems fishy…”
From behind a bush, and even through the crowd that was evidently dying down around the theme park, a few voices weaved into my hearing frequencies.
And of course, oh so conveniently, it was the exact same thing I was avoiding.
Or was it?
“It doesn’t really seem… all that fishy.”
Kaori seemed to protest, while Yuuto-san sighed.
“You saw the kind of photo Ichika sent you didn’t you? It seemed… forced.”
“Forced? I think you’re exaggerating! There were even cookies baking in the background!”
“So what?” Yuuto-san scoffed, “You know Ichika… She’s never made an edible thing in her life…” He sighed once more. “Haruhi probably made them himself, and made it seem like they were cooking together.”
Why does the old man say some reasonable, yet dark stuff sometimes? How disbelieving can you get?
I mean sure, we want to fool them all right. But as a parent you should just take the bait, you know?
“Haah…” Ichika’s mother sighed.
Come on Kaori-san, say you believe in us!
“Oh, dear…” She just muttered instead.
“I think they may be fooling us, Kaori… And that mention of his name in the pond almost struck me like a bolt of lightning. Like someone up above wanted me to see…”
Ah, no? I was actually there…
“The truth…” Yuuto-san muttered again, “That’s it. Let’s go back and see if Haruhi-kun’s still there!”
“Ah-ra dear… Are you sure? We only just came here…” Kaori always the one to go with the flow, seemed baffled but didn’t press further.
“Yes, I’m sure. Let’s go.” Yuuto-san voiced, as I peeked through the twigs of the bush to see Kaori-san get up from a bench.
Their rest was over, and they were probably going back home…
What the hell am I supposed to do?!
“Uhm, thanks for today!” Sumi bowed deeply at me, her face tinted red. “It was really fun…”
A smile tugged at the corners of her lips.
I gulped, trying to compose myself, and smiled back.
“I really had fun too, Sumi. Let’s do it again, someday.”
With a short wave, Sumi got up on the bus that stood by the side of the road, like it was her special, exclusive ride home.
This line was really devoid of people at this time… Maybe I should walk her home?
But I have to…
“See you at school, Haruhi-kun!”
With a big, enticing smile through the lowered window, Sumi waved once more, as the bus rode away.
In the pretense of taking another bus, because I was visiting my uncle, I had left Sumi go home alone.
“Haah…” I could wallow in self-pity and repentance later. For now, I had a disaster to stop from occurring!
As soon as the bus was out of sight, I dashed down the road like a man on a mission. The mission to preserve both his fake relationship, and his reputation!
Reaching one of the most crowded roads, I opened the door and jumped inside a random cab.
“What?!” The driver jolted up, eyes as wide as saucers.” I already have a client, can’t you see kiddo?!”
“Oh.” I turned to the back seat, where an elderly woman sat.
“I need to get somewhere so fast, you’d think I teleported! Please!”
There was no other taxi in sight. I needed to be gone, man!
“No can do boy, the lady—“
“Ah, I don’t mind, dearie…” The granny flashed a toothless smile. And certainly not by lack of trying. Her teeth just weren’t there.
“Ah, are you sure baa-san?” The taxi driver, an aloof but burly looking man said, as he smoked a cigarette through the window.
“Yes, my boyfriend can wait…” She said jokingly. Or at least I hope she did. “…This young man is in a hurry, I can see.”
Huh, it shows?
“I’ve already lived my life, after all. And my boyfriend too.”
She wasn’t lying, huh?
“Okay, then…” The taxi driver nodded, and I leaned closer to him from the passenger seat.
“I’ll pay double if you step on it…”
The engine roared to life, the vehicle flying out onto the road.
Without using a blinker, might I add.
It would be nice if I arrived alive, I thought to say, but of course I didn’t wanna jinx it.
It seemed the granny was enjoying it, too.
It seemed the impossible fit had become quite possible, as the taxi driver parked by the side of the road, a few meters away from Ichika’s house.
A parked taxi would raise suspicions outside her house after all.
Paying the promised amount for a job well done, I opened the door.
“Oh!” The driver did a double take at the amount of cash. “Here.” He slipped me back half, with a slight grin.
“What? But we agreed—“
“Keep it, and treat your girl to something nice instead. It’s been a while since I felt so alive doing this shitty job.”
With a pat on the back, he drove off before I could protest.
“Go get’ er blff!”
It seemed the granny was cheering me on, but her lack of teeth and aged gums, didn’t quite obey her.
Still I cupped my hands and shouted, “Thanks! Both of you!”
And I took off running, without a second’s delay.
Although they had misunderstood my motivations, it was also quite true that I was trying to salvage a sinking relationship.
Albeit a fake one.
In a matter of seconds, I was huffing under Ichika’s window.
Judging by the closing of the door, it seemed her parents had just arrived too.
Thank god, I had texted Ichika to keep her window open during the drive to her place though! Saved!
Bad thing was, my phone died shortly after…
Her room window was still quite high from where I stood, but it was nothing my athletic prowess could not handle in a pinch.
With a masterfully placed jump, and using my questionable, but still sufficient, arm power I pushed myself up and over her frame.
So many nights of assassin’s dogma have finally paid off!
I wanted to pat myself on the back for a job well done, as I jumped over her bed.
“Brillia— Woah!” Too quick to celebrate, I tripped over her massive bed’s frame and fell with a thud. My shoe slipped off in the process.
Oh, I’m supposed to be in her house for a while, right?
And so I slipped off the other shoe too, and exhaled. Mission complete! I thought and relaxed.
Thank God nobody was here to see me fall though.
Where was Ichika?
“I knew Haruhi wasn’t here.”
My heart suddenly leapt onto my throat once more, as a voice defied the sets of walls and doors between us, and made its way to Ichika’s room.
It was Yuuto-san.
Now was the moment, to reveal myself!