Chapter 23:

Interlude: Maybe Someday

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

I have to meet Sumi at the amusement park…

I have to meet Sumi at the amusement park…

“I have to meet Sumi at the amusement park!”

I fumed with frustration, unable to contain my anger any longer. I angrily flung the purple penguin plushie, Pingin, across the room in a fit of unbridled rage. Regret washed over me immediately, and I apologized silently to the innocent plushie for my outburst, and retrieved him.

“That dumbass…” I hissed under my breath. “Haaah…” I sank back into my bed, hugging my penguin close

Why was I feeling like this? Why was I so furious? It wasn't just because Haruhi left to meet Sumi at the amusement park; it was the WHO he left me for—a girl who was beautiful, elegant, and popular throughout the school.

Yumikawa Sumi.

“Heh…” I chuckled at myself and my stupidity.

Of course he’d go on a date with her. I was aware they were friends before I even came into the picture. But… I couldn't help but resent the situation. I hated how it all made sense. I had forced Haruhi into a fake relationship with me, blackmailing him into satisfying my whims. Deep down, I knew that he wouldn't choose to be with me if it wasn't necessary.

The memory of the menacing glare I gave him as he left for his date made me feel even more foolish. I berated myself, realizing how idiotic and selfish I had been.

Our relationship was nothing more than a fabricated, convenient, lie.

“Ah, I’m such an idiot!” I hurled the plushie in my arms across the room again. “Ah, I’m sorry again, Pingin!”

Seriously I needed to get it together already. Haruhi was gone, and I needed to accept that...

In an attempt to distract myself, I perused my anime Blu-ray collection, searching for something to occupy my time.


Princess Princess and A Love Sorceress Helps Me Get Back Together With My Ex seemed like they would only emphasize my single status, while Our Most Remarkable Return wouldn't do either as I wasn't in the mood for sports.

What the heck was wrong with my collection? Everything was labelled romance!

Love Manga & Blackmail

Hah, as if a plot like that could ever be realistic…

“Argh!” I ruffled my hair, and sat back down on my bed. I needed to find something to do. My twitching eye was getting out of hand.


“Oh, the cookies!”

Finally remembering the only task I was left with, I ran out of the room and made for the kitchen at once.

With a glove, I fished out the freshly baked snacks and set them atop the counter.

“Phew…” I wiped my brow. Thank God they don’t look downright awful. My cooking had a tendency to miss the mark appearance-wise, after all. Haruhi's remarks about my less-than-stellar cooking skills suddenly played in my mind, and I questioned if anything I made could ever be satisfactory.

Despite having already finished the cookies mom made for me and Haruhi during the earlier stages of my fit of rage, the fresh, steaming cookies before me seemed to gauge my appetite yet again.


I gulped.

I blew at one, and picked it up, altering it between both hands. It really was piping hot!

With my expectations high, I prepared to take a bite.

They probably just look good, though… there’s no way my cooking will—

“It’s…” my thought process halted as I focused on chewing instead. “Actually good!”

Was this a dream? I had done it! My cooking had produced something decent for once!

“I did it!” With a proud smirk, I pumped my fist in the air, triumphant.

Wait until that dumbass gets to taste this!

“Look! Ha—“

Instinctively, I had turned to address someone. Someone that wasn’t here.

Of course, Haruhi was already at the amusement park by now.

Having fun.

On a date…

Suddenly I wanted to toss Pingin across my living room too, but thankfully for him he hadn’t made the trip to the kitchen with me.

Why was I so fixated on that idiot, anyway?

I could have fun on my own!

On my own. Sure!


Although I tried, nothing could get the stupid thoughts I was wrestling with off my mind. I paced around the room, tried a few games, browsed the TV… but nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

The seconds turned to minutes. And the minutes turned to hours.

I had retreated to my room, shutting myself away.

What a lovely Saturday night… My thoughts always kept drifting back to Haruhi, no matter what I did.

I wonder, was he having fun?

I bet he was.

I heard the front door unlocking, as my parents had come home.


When my parents returned home, my father's expression made it clear that something was amiss. He asked about Haruhi's whereabouts, and when I tried to explain, he accused me of lying and trickery.

In a matter of seconds, everything seemed to change.

I tried to explain but for some reason he just wouldn’t listen.

“Ah...” I exhaled shakily, dropping my gaze to the floor.

It was over, huh?

Just like that.

If my father wouldn’t believe us, then what was the point?

Haruhi was gone.

And he wasn’t coming back.

And with him, our lie was shattering and crumbling right before my eyes.

The weight of my fabricated relationship with Haruhi was crashing down on me. And no one could save me.

“You’re not really in love.”

My father’s words hung suspended in the air, as if floating despite their weight.

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming desire to rebel against my father's control. What did he know about my feelings? What did he know about my life? When was he ever here to see me become who I am today?

What did he know about me?!

“What do you know…?”

My voice escaped from my throat, my hands curling into fists. My head spun in place, sirens of anger going off within it.

I wanted to tell him off. Tell him how he couldn’t dictate my life. Tell him I was my own person.

I opened my mouth to speak…


But again, I stopped. I couldn’t form any words. I wanted to scream at my incompetence, my lack of courage.

I was just weak. I couldn’t really do anything but be swept by the current. I can’t stand up to my father. Not now. Not ever.

In the midst of this turmoil, a familiar and soothing voice resonated through the house.

“Never mind… I think we don’t have anything else to discuss, it’s evident you have accepted my—“

“Ichika, is something wro—“

A very familiar voice. The kind of voice that tugged at my heartstrings. The mere sound of it brought me a sense of relief, like a lifeline in the chaos.

He was here.

Haruhi was here.

But why?

“Oh, Yuuto-san, Kaori-san… Sorry for not coming to greet you. We were playing a game you see, so…”

He calmly diffused the tense situation with my father, effortlessly reassuring him that there was no need for further discussion. Haruhi's presence alone seemed to quell the storm, and I felt an inexplicable sense of safety when he looped his arm around my shoulder.

I could feel his touch against my skin.

I felt… safe. Relieved.

Our eyes met, and for a moment, everything else faded away. It was as if we were the only two people in the world. My cheeks flushed with embarrassment, but his touch made me feel a newfound comfort that I had never experienced before.

It was peculiar, yet so simple.

So raw.

He hadn’t forgotten about me. Even when everything seemed hopeless… He was there.

I’m blackmailing you, you know… and even if dad found out, I wouldn’t rat you out.

Why did I even say that?

“…Maybe I would have come back, anyway…”

And what did he even mean by that?

My head was a mess. My thoughts were incoherent, and my heart wouldn’t stop pounding.

“Because for some reason, I’m having fun.”

He was having fun… with me?

For some reason those words hung in my mind. So abstract and free.



Then it hit me.

Maybe, I was having fun too.

Somehow, when he was here, I felt different. Stronger…

Maybe, with Haruhi around, I could do it.

Maybe someday, I could work up the courage, and finally do what was long overdue.

Maybe… someday.

That was the feeling I got.

Taylor J
Mario Nakano 64