Chapter 4:

Chapter 4: Next Door Neighbor and New Friend

The best neet gets rehabilitated Into a regular normie.

Chapter 4: Next Door Neighbor and New Friend - Revised

"Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I live next door," Maiko nonchalantly states.

"How can you just mention that like it's not a big deal? How long have you lived here?" I ask, slightly annoyed.

"Well, it's not like I forgot. But more importantly, how do you not know I live next door? You don't even know who your neighbor is?" Maiko teases.

"No, I never left the house," I admit.

"Well then, that's your fault, isn't it?" she retorts playfully.

"Maiko, that's definitely not my fault. How do you forget to mention you live next door, idiot?"

"Don't worry; it's a good thing because you can't escape your neet rehabilitation," she chuckles.

"You know, Maiko, I could always just not open the door," I reply, half-jokingly.

"Well, Kazu, lucky for you, I know how to pick locks," she says with a mischievous grin.

"Pick locks? What kind of criminal are you?" I tease.

"Maiko: the cute kind, and well, maybe I am. You don't know everything about me," she winks.

"I'm sure you just watched some YouTube video about how to pick locks and left it at that," I playfully mock.

"A true master never reveals their secrets, easily," she says, feigning mystery.

"How long have you lived next door for?" I ask curiously.

"It's only been about a year," she replies.

"A whole year, and wait, how didn't I notice this? I don't understand," I say in amazement.

"I do understand. You need to definitely get out of the house more and get more involved in your community," Maiko advises.

"Get more involved? You completely avoided saying you lived next door, dude!" I retort, still a bit miffed.

"Well then, are you ready to make your first friend?" Maiko says with a smirk.

"Don't just ignore me!!!" I protest.

"Okay, we need to talk about this later, and where do you plan on me making my first friend?" I ask, trying to change the subject.

"Well, I thought of maybe going to a mixer and meeting new people, starting up a conversation," Maiko suggests.

As she keeps speaking, her voice starts to fade into the background, and I'm lost in my own thoughts, remembering a terrible time from my past involving a mixer. It was back in high school when I attended a mixer, and things went horribly wrong. My crush was there, and I ended up getting sick and embarrassing myself in front of everyone. The other kids bullied me for the rest of the year, and I became known as the "throw up boy." The memories flood back, and I can't help but feel anxious about facing another mixer.

"Kazu, alright, you ready for the plan? Let's go!" Maiko snaps me out of my thoughts.

"Huh, what? Yeah, what's going on?" I ask, trying to shake off the unease.

"Are you serious? Did you really zone out like that?" Maiko looks at me in confusion and concern.

"Sorry, I was just coming back to some pretty dark memories... Um, I don't think I can go to the mixer. Let's do something else, okay?" I stammer, feeling the anxiety growing.

"The mixer is different this time around because you have me with you, and I already know you're an embarrassment as it is, so I'll protect you and tell off anyone that might bring any trauma," Maiko reassures me.

"Hey, you're the one bringing the trauma, idiot!" I say, half-jokingly.

"But thank you," I add, sincerely grateful for her support.

"Huh?" Maiko looks surprised.

"Thank you for having my back and being my friend. No matter what, I'll have your back as well," I say, my heart swelling with appreciation for our newfound friendship.

Maiko suddenly punches me in the face before I could finish my sentence, leaving me bewildered.

"Was that really necessary?" I rub my jaw, trying to recover from the unexpected blow.

"Well, are you ready? Let's get going," she says, ignoring my question.

As we walk through the bustling streets, passing by various shops and restaurants, I start to enjoy just walking with Maiko. It's nice not to be alone all the time. The birds are chirping, and the weather is pleasant, making the walk more enjoyable. I can't help but notice that we probably look like a couple with our dog, Lulu, walking together. Not that I'd ever date her, or would I? We finally arrive at an izakaya, and I prepare myself for the upcoming challenge.

"Ahhhhhhh, this hits just the spot!" I exclaim as I take a large gulp of my cold beer, enjoying the momentary relief from the anxiety.

"I think I see the mixer group, Kazu. Let's head over there, and stay behind me," Maiko suggests.

As we walk towards the group, my stomach churns with nervousness. Memories of past mixers flood my mind, and I feel the sweat starting to pour down my face. The anxiety intensifies, and I can't tell if it's the heat of the day or my fear of facing my past.

"Excuse us, please," Maiko politely addresses the group as we approach.

One of the guys in the group looks at me with a curious expression, "Hey, aren't you the guy from that high school mixer?"

My heart sinks as the past comes rushing back, but before I can reply, Maiko steps in confidently, "Yes, he is. But that was then, and this is now. We're here to have a good time and make new friends."

I try to find my voice, but my anxiety keeps me silent, and Maiko continues, "You see, Kazu here is a good friend of mine, and we're ready to enjoy this mixer together. Let's all have fun tonight!"

The tension in the air dissipates, and the group nods in agreement. Maiko's ability to defuse the situation amazes me, and I feel grateful for her unwavering support.

We sit down at a table, and I try to relax as the izakaya's delightful aroma fills the air. Maiko orders a few drinks, and I follow suit, hoping that it will help me open up.

"So, Kazu, how have you been these past few years?" one of the guys asks, breaking the silence.

I hesitate for a moment, unsure of how much to share, but Maiko encourages me to open up.

"My life has been alright, just an average joe. What about you? You must be doing well now, right?" I reply, trying to keep the conversation light.

He nods, "Actually, Kazu, I could be better. Believe it or not, there's not much going on in my life."

Maiko starts to share her own experiences, but I find myself tuning out, lost in my own thoughts. The anxiety builds as I see the faces of my past bullies in front of me. The memories of the humiliation and embarrassment flood back, and I struggle to keep my composure.

Maiko senses my discomfort and abruptly cuts off her story, noticing my growing unease. She pulls me to the side in a rush, concerned about my well-being.

"Kazu, what's wrong? You look as if you're having a heart attack out there," she says, worriedly.

"I-I'm sorry. I was just coming back to some pretty dark memories... I don't think I can handle this mixer," I confess, feeling the weight of my past bearing down on me.

Maiko's expression softens, and she places a comforting hand on my shoulder. "Hey, it's okay. You don't have to face this alone. Remember, I'm here with you, and Lulu too," she reassures me.

Her words offer some comfort, and I take a deep breath, trying to calm myself. I remind myself that this is different from the past, and I have Maiko and Lulu by my side. With their support, I feel a glimmer of hope that I can overcome my fears.

"Okay, let's give it a shot," I say, mustering up some determination. "But if it gets too overwhelming, promise me we'll leave."

"Deal," Maiko agrees, giving me a reassuring smile.

We return to the table, and I try to focus on enjoying the evening. Maiko and I engage in casual conversation with the group, and surprisingly, I start to relax. The more I talk to them, the more I realize that they aren't the same bullies from my past. They seem genuinely friendly and interested in getting to know me.

As the night progresses, we share stories, laughs, and even some embarrassing moments. Maiko and I take turns telling hilarious anecdotes from our lives, and the group seems genuinely entertained by our banter. Lulu even joins in the fun, doing tricks and receiving adoration from everyone.

In that moment, I feel a sense of camaraderie with the group. They no longer represent my past trauma but newfound friends who genuinely care about me. I begin to let go of the fear and anxiety that had gripped me earlier.

As the evening draws to a close, we say our goodbyes to the new friends we've made. Maiko and I walk back home, laughing and chatting about the unexpected turn of events.

"See, Kazu? It wasn't so bad, was it?" Maiko says with a grin.

"I guess not. I never expected to have fun at a mixer," I admit, feeling grateful for her support.

"That's the spirit! We make a great team, don't we?" Maiko winks playfully.

"Yeah, we do," I say, smiling back at her.

We reach our apartment building, and I suddenly feel a pang of sadness. The night has been filled with laughter and joy, but it's also brought back memories of my past struggles. I wonder if facing my fears was worth it or if it will only open old wounds.

As we approach our neighboring doors, Maiko turns to me with a mischievous glint in her eye. "Hey, Kazu, how about we continue this adventure tomorrow? I have a few more places in mind where we can have some fun."

I hesitate for a moment, but then a sense of excitement and curiosity takes over. "Sure, why not? I'm in."

"Great! I'll see you tomorrow then," Maiko says, giving me a playful salute before disappearing into her apartment.

I enter my own apartment, feeling a mixture of emotions. Tonight was unexpected, but I can't deny that I had a good time. Maiko's presence has been a positive force in my life, pushing me out of my comfort zone and showing me that facing my fears is possible with the right support.

As I lay in bed, I find myself looking forward to tomorrow's adventures. With Maiko by my side, I know I can handle whatever comes my way. I close my eyes, feeling hopeful about the future and the unexpected journey that lies ahead.

Little do I know that tomorrow's adventure will lead us to a secret that will change everything. A mysterious encounter, a hidden artifact, and a whirlwind of emotions will await us, pulling us deeper into a thrilling and heartwarming escapade. What started as a simple desire for a fresh start will turn into an extraordinary journey of self-discovery, friendship, and maybe even love.

And so, with a mix of anticipation and nervousness, I drift off to sleep, ready to face whatever challenges the new day will bring. The world of unexpected adventures and newfound connections awaits, and I am determined to embrace it all.

The story continues in Chapter 5...