Chapter 8:

A Nobody

Hanging by a Thread

It's noisy here, but at least this time, it's not the classroom. Nope, I'm somewhere way worse. All around me, people were walking around with their mouths moving nonstop. There are so many that it's not even possible to hear one conversation among the hundreds. Even now, I question why I'm even here, standing smacked dead in the center of the mall.

Well, I know why I'm here, but still... why? I was browsing online, and I found a limited-edition manga of a popular new rom-com series. There are only a thousand being sold right now, and being the guy I am, I had to get my hands on it.

I did this back then when I bought a limited-edition manga for twelve thousand yen. Only two hundred copies were sold, so the value skyrocketed over the course of a year. I sold it for about twenty times the original value. That's how I was able to rent my own apartment.

I hurried over to the manga shop and scurried around. Luckily, there was one copy left. The thing about limited-edition mangas is that barely anyone bothers to go in-store to buy one. They try to order it online because they assume it'll be all gone by the time they find out about it. I brought it over to the cashier, dropped eight thousand yen on it, stashed it into my backpack, and scurried out as fast as possible. I don't know why that was so stressful.

Mission accomplished, I suppose, but since I'm here, I might as well get some food. I went over to the same fast food place where I ordered from the last time I was here. Alice was trying to experiment with my fate then. How long has it been? About a month, maybe.

It's a bit funny thinking back on it. I actually could've died that day. Alice and I are on much better terms now, but I can't shake the feeling that it could easily change.

I placed my order and went off to the side, waiting for my name to be called. Ever since the girls began calling me by my first name, my life as a loner was no more. They would greet me in the hallway, which raised many eyebrows. I'm sure that not a single person in the entire school has ever heard my name until the girls began using it regularly. It is a bit annoying that my once quiet life has gotten significantly louder, but it's a small price to pay.

"Order for... Chl... Chloe-san?" the cashier said.

"That's me," answered a very familiar voice.

I nearly broke my neck when I turned around to find Chloe herself picking up her order. She peeked into the bag and took a whiff of the delightful smell before her eyes shot wide open when she saw me. I had to force my jaws up to keep them from dropping.

Chloe had on a pale blue hoodie that matched flawlessly with her silvery-blue eyes, along with thin leggings beneath a white skirt. I've only ever seen her in her school uniform, so this was a pleasant surprise.

"Chloe-chan?" I gasped.

"Asahi-kun!" she exclaimed with a bubbly smile. "What are you doing here?"

"Uh... there was something I came to buy. I have it now, so I'm getting ready to go."

"What? Already? Come hang out with us!"


"Ah, Asahi-kun!" yet another familiar voice called out.

I pretty much recreated the same reaction when I saw the other girls right behind me. Lana was wearing a sleeveless top with a cutout area above her chest along with a fuzzy white jacket to accompany it. Alice was wearing one of the outfits she bought the day she took me here with her—the one with the crop top and a loose jacket. Even her hair was styled differently, which amplified her beauty.

I need to somehow control my emotions. I can't keep losing my breath every time I see them.

"Fancy running into you here," Alice winked.

"What a coincidence!" Lana jumped over and grabbed my hand. "We were thinking about inviting you today, but we didn't want you to feel overwhelmed by us since... You know... you have to see us every day at school."

"I won't mind if you just ask," I said. "Worst I can say is no. Besides... I kind of enjoy hanging out with you guys, so it's likely that I'll say yes."

"Aw, Asahi-kun!" Lana said cheerfully as she squeezed my arm.

I don't know if it's because of her godlike strength, but my arm feels like it's about to fall off.

"Is that so?" Alice asked.

She reached over to my chin with her fingers while her head was sliding a little too close to mine.

"Do you really think you can handle us?" she whispered seductively.

The closer she got, the faster my heart was beating. I couldn't move any further as my back was already against a wall. My face feels like it's being shoved into an oven.

"It's just three girls. How hard can it be?" I tried to say confidently but failed miserably.

"Oh my, looks like someone's on their high horses," Alice chuckled. "Careful, Asahi-kun. We're not just three girls. We're three goddesses."

"I'll... keep that in mind."

"Alright, enough!" Lana shouted as she pulled me away. "Stop getting so close to him, Alice."

"Oh? Do I hear a slight hint of jealousy, dear sister?" Alice smirked devilishly.

"You're not being any better, Lana," Chloe muttered.

It was at that moment that Lana realized she was still holding onto me. Instead of letting go like I thought she would, her grip only tightened.

"W-well, how else was I supposed to get him away from Alice?"

"In that case..." Chloe said.

She then grabbed me by my other arm and pulled me away from Lana.


"Isn't this what you just did? It shouldn't be a problem if I do it too, right?"


Suddenly, both the girls were latching onto me. If they pulled any harder, I'd be torn in half.

"Girls, you're killing him," Alice sighed.

"Yeah, Chloe," Lana grumbled. "You should let go."

"You first," Chloe muttered bitterly.

"Uh... can you both just let go?" I asked. "My arms... I can't feel them anymore."

They both immediately yelped and let go, allowing me to fall to the ground with my arms limping like wet noodles.

"A-Asahi-kun!" Lana shouted. "Are you okay?"

"Sorry, Asahi-kun," Chloe whimpered. "We'll be more careful next time."

"Next time?" I groaned. "I think I'll be dead by then if this continues."

Alice helped me up while the others were standing next to each other with guilt written all over their faces.

"I'm just kidding," I chuckled as I poked their foreheads at the same time. "I don't mind, just... tone down your strengths a little bit."

"I will!" Lana assured.

"M-me too!" Chloe chimed in.

"Good," I said. "Anyways, what were you guys doing here?"

"Lana and Chloe wanted to go shopping, and this was the only mall close to us," Alice said. "What about you?"

"Uh... I'd rather not say."

Chloe suddenly appeared right in front of me and looked dead into my eyes. No... she's trying to read my mind! I should be safe, right? The last time Alice tried to do this, she said she couldn't see anything because it was as if I defied fate. That applies here, too, right? It has to!

"Manga," Chloe muttered. I felt my soul attempting to leave my body. "So that's what you said you were here to buy."

"You're secretly an otaku, hm?" Alice smiled deviously. "How cute."

"I-I'm not!" I rejected.

"Hey, that's fine. We're not here to judge," Lana whistled. "We've seen way more embarrassing stuff throughout human history."

I didn't even bother trying to defend myself after that one. The truth is, I don't read that much manga or watch any anime. It's not like I wouldn't enjoy it. I just never got around to doing it.

"Order for Yoshino Asahi!" the cashier shouted.

"H-here," I stuttered defeatedly.

"Are you busy today, Asahi-kun?" Chloe asked. "If not, why don't you come sit down with us?

"It's fine. I don't want to bother you guys."

"Who's bothering who?" Lana immediately shot me down. "Let's go."

We walked through the crowded food court until we finally found an empty table. Chloe was the first to sit so she could neatly line up everyone's food. I pulled out my own food and began eating. Just like when we sat down at that small restaurant, a pleasant warmth began filling me up simply by being with them while I ate. It's a nice feeling.

"Did you guys ever get your project in order?" I broke the silence between us and asked.

"We made about twenty different models," Chloe replied. "However, we did get around to finding the exact amount of sodium we needed for the model that we settled for."

"You should've seen the look on Chloe's face when we blew up the most realistic model she made," Lana snickered. "Priceless."

"You put way too much! It was only supposed to be a small dab."

"I'm sorry, Chloe..." Alice gulped. "It was actually me who did that."


"I told you, didn't I?!" Lana shouted with a pointed finger. "But nope, it's always my fault!"

"You made it sound like it was you!"

I couldn't help but laugh, which put an abrupt end to their little argument. I tried to stop myself when I noticed their gazes, but I just couldn't.

"I'm sorry," I said when I finally calmed down. "Sounds like you girls had a good time working on it."

"Well... at least Asahi-kun thinks so," Lana grumbled as she gave Chloe the snake eye.

"Yeah, at least," Chloe said, emphasizing those two words.

"A-all's well that ends well, right, girls?" Alice smiled, but it looked forced.

"Hey, you guys figured it out," I said. "Let's just leave it at that. You accomplished more than what the average high school student could ever."

"If Asahi-kun says so..." Chloe mumbled.

"He does have the most experience here when compared to us," Lana mentioned. "Kinda sad, if you think about it. We've lived for... how long now?"

"Way too long to keep count, that's for sure," Alice said, which made the girls laugh a little.

I'm glad they stopped fighting. I can't imagine what would've happened if that had gone on any longer. A battle between gods is like something you'd hear out of a mythology tale. Granted, now that I know that gods exist, it's likely that those legends are true events that happened far in the past.

"Let's finish eating," I said. "After you guys are done, we can go do whatever."

"Really? You'll come with us?" Lana asked with a huge grin.

"I don't have anything going on today, so I don't see why not."

Chloe's eyes suddenly began glowing. "Promise?"

"O-of course."

"No going back on that one now that you've promised us, Asahi-kun," Alice chuckled. "That means you'll be coming with us no matter where we go."

As Alice finished that sentence, Chloe and Lana simultaneously turned and gave me odd smiles. The coldest chill ran down my spine when I realized the implication of my words.

"Well... within reason," I gulped.

"Uh-uh, you already promised us," Lana smirked. "Too late to add anything now."

"Why are you making it sound so... horrific?

"That all depends on how you perceive it," Alice winked at me. "You'll find out soon enough."

"Don't worry, Asahi-kun," Chloe said softly. "It's not anything bad."

"P-promise?" I asked nervously.

"Sorry, I can't make that promise."

I tried to think of as many things as I possibly could that would warrant this kind of response. Just where are we going, and why are they making it sound like I'm about to die? It can't be that bad, right? They know I'm human, so they won't do anything drastic... at least, that's how I'm coping with what's about to come.

"How come you're not eating?" Alice noticed and pointed it out.

"I... lost my appetite for some odd reason," I sighed.

The girls began laughing amongst themselves. Why do I feel like I'm being taunted? Maybe I can still get out of this. Every corner of my mind is telling me that I should, no matter the cost.

"I just remembered... I have to finish my science project," I said as I stood up.

"What? Just do it later," Lana rejected.

"Well, I'm a bit behind, and I'm working alone. If I don't catch up today, I don't think I'll finish it on time. Anyway, I'll see you guys later."

Right as I turned around to sprint away, Alice grabbed my wrist with unfiltered strength. I spun my head around slowly and immediately regretted ever trying to attempt this getaway plan.

"Asahi-kun... you promised us, remember?" she whispered dangerously.

While a murderous smile stretched her cheeks apart, her eyes were slightly open. All the sirens in my head are going off.

"Y-yes..." I squeaked.

The girls finished eating with the mood suddenly so much brighter than before. All I could do was sit there, anxious about where they were planning to take me. I'm scared. I shouldn't be scared, but I'm genuinely scared this time around. I haven't felt this way since my first meeting with them when they pulled me through that bookshelf.

"Alright! Let's be on our way!" Lana cheered.

"I hope you're ready to break the law, Asahi-kun," Alice smiled.

After just a couple of minutes, I found myself standing in front of the entrance to what is possibly the worst place for me at my age. Compared to what I was thinking, this isn't nearly as bad. Though, it is still bad.

"A... bar?" I asked.

"Why do you sound so disappointed?" Alice chuckled. "Were you expecting something else?"

"You made it sound like we were about to rob a bank or something,"

"We're goddesses," Lana reminded. "If we really wanted to, we could easily get away with it. A little crime like that is nothing to us."

"But we wouldn't do that," Chloe assured. "We're not petty thieves."

"I'm glad it's not that, but I don't think I'm allowed in here," I said.

Despite knowing that, they simply dragged me in with them.

I've never been inside of a bar before. The interior is rather dark and tamed, lit only by moody lights. Already, I could spot a couple of guys in the back who stopped their conversation to awe in the presence of these beautiful goddesses.

We sat down at the counter where the bartender greeted us. I couldn't help but awe at his elegant appearance. His slicked-back hair had a subtle curliness like smooth waves upon the ocean surface. His sharp, cerulean eyes quickly trailed to me. He's probably the most handsome man I've ever seen in my life.

"Leave him alone, Bach," Alice said. "He's with us."

"So it seems," he sighed with a deep voice as he grabbed a cocktail shaker. "I'm not one to allow minors to drink in this day and age, but if you girls are requesting it of me... I suppose I have no choice. What'll it be today?"

"The usual. Give Asahi-kun here a raspberry sake tea cocktail."

"You can handle it, right, Asahi-kun?" Lana leaned her head on the table with a grin.

"Um... I don't... think so?" I gulped. "I've never drank before."

"Don't worry," Chloe said. "It's not as bad as you think. We'll take care of you if anything happens."

Bach, the bartender, worked so fast that my eyes couldn't even keep up with his insane movements. It was a magnificent sight to behold, even if I could only see a fraction of it. A minute later, he slid over four glass cups, each filled to the brim with something glamorous.

"B-Bach-san," I called nervously.

"What is it, young man?" he said.

"Are you perhaps... Bacchus? Or... Dionysus?"

He came to a sudden halt, turning his head at me with calm yet extremely scornful eyes. He then fixed them upon the girls who were taking sips out of their drinks.

"No need for caution," Chloe said. "He knows."

"I see," Bach scoffed. "It seems you've been caught up in quite the predicament, young man. You even got the Moirai to somehow call you by your first name. I didn't think it was possible for anyone, let alone a human."

"Things happened," Lana said while spinning her cup around. "Long story short, Asahi-kun here is our one and only true human friend."

"The Moirai making human friends? That's even more unbelievable."

"We didn't think it was possible either, but... Asahi-kun is something else," Alice smiled.

"Something else, hm? I see... By any chance, do you girls-"

Alice slammed her glass down before he could finish that sentence. "Say not another word, Bach."

"My mouth remains sealed."

That was a strange interaction. Perhaps it's because he is a fellow god, but Bach seems very calm in the face of these goddesses. After what felt like a threat from Alice, he simply went back to cleaning some glass cups with a rag.

"How you ladies doin?" a man's voice greeted from behind.

We turned around to see three men in various colored suits with smug looks on their faces. I've never seen the Yakuza before, but if I had to guess their appearance, these guys match that description pretty accurately.

"How can we help you?" Chloe asked.

"Looks like you need some company," the man smirked. "How about coming over and hanging out with us?"

Almost every time the girls and I go out, we're stopped by men who attempt to flirt. I'd imagine it's happened a lot more when I wasn't present. Like always, I should just stay out of this.

"Sorry, we're already occupied," Lana smiled, her hand resting on my shoulder.

"With who? This shrimp?" the man scoffed. "You're telling us that this little guy is keeping you company?"

"He is," Chloe muttered harshly. "What about it?"

"You can't be serious," the man scoffed. "Come on, ladies. We'll show you a better time."

"Uninterested. Please, leave."

"It's okay, guys," I said. "You can go with them if you want to. It's not like I'm allowed to be here anyway."

Yeah... this is the best I can do. I can't always stay by their side. If they want to leave, they can, and there's nothing I can do to stop them. I have no right to. I'm just an extra in this story—someone whose opinion means very little if any at all.

"Hey, the kid knows his worth," the man laughed. "You heard him, ladies. Let's go."

"For the last time, we're not interested," Alice growled. "We can't just abandon our friend, can we?"

"Seriously? Look at him. Probably only hangin' around with you girls cuz' he's got no one else. He's a goddam nobody."

The goons behind him let out a taunting laugh as they reiterated those insults. Normally, I wouldn't bat an eye. People can say all they want about me, but I could honestly care less. It never seemed to bother me, but for some reason... it hurt this time. It's like they read my mind and spoke the only words that have resonated within me for the longest time—what I've always called myself.

But they're absolutely right. Why are these goddesses hanging around someone like me? I don't have any cool stories or anything that makes me special. My introverted personality is probably my biggest downfall. Even my looks are on par with pretty much the average guy. I'm just...

"A nobody..." I whispered.

Suddenly, an ear-splitting crackle rendered the entire bar silent. It echoed for the next few seconds before a thud followed shortly after. I tilted my head around, my brows rising at the sight I saw.

Chloe was standing right in front of the man with her left arm bent at shoulder height. The man himself was sitting on the ground as if he had fallen, a visible handprint growing on the side of his face.

"You dare to insult Asahi-kun?" she snapped. Her rage was laid bare upon her face, one that I never imagined she was capable of.

Alice took a shot before standing up and approaching one of the baffled men behind the one who just got slapped. Before he could react, she grabbed him by his hair and violently threw his head to the ground. When I took a closer look at him, I noticed the ground beneath was slightly cracked. That may have been... a little too much strength. He rose his head and turned back to Alice with an overwhelmingly frightful expression.

"Ask us again. Go on. Say it," she demanded ironically but very indignantly.

Bach must've read the room flawlessly because he handed an empty glass bottle to Lana, who held it upside down in her hands as she leered at the final standing man. With a cry of fear, he attempted to run towards the exit. Lana bent her arm back before hurling the bottle through the air with perfect accuracy. It shattered as it slammed against the back of his head, forcing him to the ground.

Without saying a single word, Lana dropped the bill on the table along with a hefty tip while Chloe grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me outside. We kept going until we reached a small and quiet lounge area. The girls remained silent for the next minute, but I had a solid guess as to what they were thinking.

"I'm fine, guys," I said with a smile. "Let's just... forget that ever happened."

However, those looks of displeasure wouldn't leave their faces. Chloe finally turned around and threw her arms around me. As flustered as I was, I kept my cool. At least, I was keeping my cool until Lana and Alice did the same. I wanted to say something, but I couldn't. The words just wouldn't come out.

"You're not a nobody, Asahi-kun," Chloe whispered. "You exist, and you are your own person. No matter what you might think, at least believe us when we say... you're somebody to us. A very important somebody."

My mind went blank while her words filled the void. A warm presence suddenly filled my cold heart.

"You've been alone your whole life," Lana reminded. "Because of that, you've kept yourself from welcoming new faces. But we're here now, and we'll never leave you. That's a promise."

"So... Asahi-kun," Alice said.

The girls released me from their grasp and lined up in front of me. It was only then that I recognized each of their individual qualities.

"Stay by our side," Alice finished with a bright smile. "We're the sisters of fate. If we can't change your fate by a thread, then we'll see to it ourselves."

My heart began beating rapidly as if it had been unknowingly yearning for this. The chains that once locked it behind a lonely wall have now collapsed entirely. What was left in the emptiness was filled by these three, and for the first time in my life, I felt genuine happiness.

However, I'm not selfish enough to ask this of them. They're confident. They're beautiful and kind. They know exactly what to say and when to say it. That's the difference between me and them. The spotlight beaming down upon them shines bright like no other, whereas I am left to wander the darkness of the backstage, perpetually lost and oblivious to all that happens around me.

I don't mind it. I never did. Being alone... being left out... It's just a part of who I am. It's what I've always been since the day I gained consciousness.

'A Nobody.'

Even as I stand here now, embracing the warm kindness of these wonderful girls, it won't change who I am.

Like those men said, I know my worth.

I don't deserve them.

"Thank you, Chloe-chan... Lana-chan... Alice-chan. But... you needn't stay with me just because of my feelings. I'm just... one human." I insisted.

"That, you may be," Lana scoffed. "However, you seem to keep forgetting that we're goddesses."

"And us goddesses always get what we want," Chloe professed.

"So from this moment on, Asahi-kun..." Alice smiled softly. "You belong to us."

What kind of a statement is that...? How can she say something like that with a smile on her face? 'Wonderful' as they are, they're so weird.

Even then, it made me happy. I can't believe that they would allow someone like to me stay by their side. Despite our friendly relationship, I can't help but think realistically. They're goddesses. Eventually, they'll either leave or outlast me, but I won't think about that anymore. For now, I'll simply cherish the time I have with them. It's the least I can do.