Chapter 7:

Definitely Not a Heroic Tropes

We are Supposed to be the Side Characters

I dozed off in class again. Lately, sleep has been elusive, as if a fog of smoke envelops my mind every time I close my eyes. I feel uneasy whenever I leave school like there's something I should do before I left.

Despite my efforts to live like a normal student by focusing on my books during each class, and interacting with my desk-mates from all four directions, something still feels off.

The last two days, Nikki came to school, but I tried my best to ignore him. Miya is becoming more popular with both guys and girls, and I'm just a background character without a place within a five-meter radius of her without disappearing from sight.

As for Noa... she's just the same as always. Actually, I've been avoiding Noa even more than Nikki. Just seeing her silhouette from around the corner is enough to make me turn back. What's strange is that I can recognize Noa's silhouette. Shouldn't she have an attribute-less silhouette?

After my mind flowed freely upon waking up in the middle of an empty classroom in the afternoon... only now do I wonder... where are the other students?


'Pip,' I imitate the sound of a vending machine button being pressed.

"gublukgubluk--kavoom," the sound I recognize comes from behind, continuing the vending machine impersonation theater from earlier.

It's an ambush.

"Please," I say, making way for Noa to use the vending machine.

Noa takes out her wallet and uses the vending machine. "Wait!" she says, holding from leaving the scene. Damn.

"Where are you going?" she asks.


"What about your practice?"

Oh. that's right. That’s why the class is empty. They are practicing for the sports festival next week.

"Who's my partner again? I forgot." Now I feel bad. If I've been dozing off, it means my ping-pong partner has been practicing alone.

"It's Pii-chan. She sits next to me," says Noa, and now we walk together.

"What about your practice?"

"I'm just a substitute player for the volleyball team, so there's not much I can do," she says, wiping off her sweat.

Although she says that, she doesn't seem like she's slacking off to me.

"Ah, you know... Miya has been getting even more popular now that we've been doing activities outside... even the upperclassmen--"

Ah, she's like recapping the episodes I missed. Indeed, the treatment of a side character.

Our conversation, which I didn't really pay attention to earlier, comes to a halt as our focus is drawn to a group of students surrounding something.


I’ll picture the situation.

Nikki is like a solo defender, looking both predatory and intimidating at the same time. Miya is on the ground, holding her wrist, surrounded by other girls. And there are three seniors who seem to be afraid of Nikki and targeting him at the same time.

"Apologize to her!" Nikki demands from the three seniors, confirming my understanding of the situation. He doesn't look much better off than the three seniors, who are catching their breath.

It's like a classic rom-com scene, where the MC protects the heroine who is being harassed by upperclassmen.

I'm not really interested in watching this play out, so I better leave them and hope that Nikki and Miya's love blossoms after this.

"He kicked me first! Why should I apologize, you brat?!" one of the seniors exclaims loudly, surprising me.


"Miya!" Noa suddenly runs, cutting through the crowd and entering the empty circle that was supposed to be Nikki's battle ring.


Noa falls in front of Nikki.



Nikki bows his head, "Are you alright?" he asks Noa on the ground.

"Hooaaaa :o" Noa is surprised as Nikki approaches her, making her legs quickly wriggle and crawl at the same time towards where Miya is.

After that little intermission, the situation heats up again.


This is going to be a little embarrassing, but I guess I have to do it.

I clap my hands as I enter the battlefield.

"What a fight, Nikki. But our coach will scold you for sure."

"Hah?" he says briefly.

"If you break your leg again because of a street fight, how are you going to face the international karate competition next month?"

"What are you talking ab--" *Khak I kick Nikki's right leg to make him stop talking. Meanwhile, the three seniors seem to back off; it seems my bluff made them react.

"HEY, WHAT'S GOING ON THERE?!" The teacher's voice yells from afar, breaking the focus of many students. So, I grab Nikki's hand and take an escape route away from the dangerous sight and sound.

"What are you doing?!" Nikki asks as we run.

"If you're going to cause trouble like this just a few days after joining, you might as well just skip school completely!" I complain while still running.


Both of us catch our breath behind the school storage building, and there are no signs of the senior bullies chasing us. It looks like my strategy worked.

"Seriously, what were you thinking?!" Nikki complains.

"Saving you, dumbass!" I retort.

"You think I'm some kind of damsel in distress, and you're Mario on a mission! You just wanted to divert the attention from Noa, didn't you? Why drag me into this mess?" he says while still catching his breath.


Nikki may act tough, but his breathing tells a different story.

"I'm outta here," Nikki declares.

"Where to?"

"Don't know, but the teachers will surely call us soon."

Oh right. I didn't consider that possibility.


After getting reprimanded in the teacher's office, I learn the fact that Nikki's grandma is seriously ill in the hospital, probably the reason for his frequent absences.

The homeroom teacher still talking with Nikki, so I'll probably apologize to Nikki later.

Right now, all I want is a drink.


"Pop," I mimic the sound of a vending machine.

Unconsciously, I look back, remembering the incident from earlier in the afternoon. Somehow, I secretly wish someone would continue my little impersonation act.

Instead, a burp breaks the silence a few seconds later.

"Clearing your throat after spreading lies, huh, kid?" It's the senior from before. Looks like he caught on to my little stunt.

"...Pretty impressive that you actually sought validation from my declaration earlier," I reply.

Two others appear behind him. This is not good, school hours ended a while ago, and there are only a few students left on the premises.

"We even searched for his name on four different search engines," one of them adds.

"And besides, the karate competition ended three months ago!"

Geez, these guys are so loud.

"Oh, look, there's a teacher dressed like Elvis Costello over there," I point, followed by a quick glance in the same direction from the three seniors.

Then I make a run for it.

What's with these guys? Are they cartoon villains? So easy to fool.

But this time, they're chasing me.

"Hey, wait! Kid!"

Escaping through the school gate would only make things worse. I have to deal with this inside the school right now. But where should I run? Images flash in my mind.

After turning left along the school building, a large window in what should be the library opens, and two hands reach out for me. Noa.

Just as our hands touch and clasp, I leap into the room, hiding from the view of the three seniors who are still running from behind.

"Hehe," Noa smiles after saving me.