Chapter 37:

The Otaku And The Magical Touch

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






“You… big… idiot…”

Slowly, Ichika managed to spell out, as she helped me disinfect the slight cuts on my cheeks and forehead. There was no doctor in the first aid room, who woulda thunk?

I was thankful that the hotel even had an infirmary. Considering the fancy amenities here though, it wasn't too far-fetched.

I also had Kota and Kirara, as well as the staff I worked with to thank, who didn’t waste any time in calling for help and breaking up the “fight”— That very one-sided fight.

And now, Ichika, my personal nurse, was dabbing at my face with a cotton ball, as she bit her lip. It stung a bit, making me wince. Throughout the first aid process, she remained mostly quiet, but her guilt was palpable.


“Yeah…?” I mused, as she averted her eyes away from mine.

Just like that, she closed the distance between us. Her arms wrapped around my back, and her cheek found its resting spot against my shoulder. Like a shy cat seeking comfort, she nuzzled against me.

I didn’t have time to comprehend what was happening, and so she continued.


“Why… what?”

“Why did you… take that beating for me?”

That was a very… specific question. A question that I had no clear-cut answer for.

With a chuckle I looked out the window at the setting sun.

“Well, honestly, I don’t know. My feet were moving before I knew it, and I had made up my mind.”

Ichika relaxed against me at the sound of that.

“…I thought that I shouldn’t… couldn’t let them hurt you. Or whatever it was they wanted to do.”

I scratched the back of my head.

“…And you know me, I’m not good at fighting so… I just kicked one in the nuts, and hoped for the best.”

There was a brief silence for a few seconds, that only the tittering of the birds along the trees outside filled.

I couldn’t see Ichika’s face amidst our moment of embrace. I couldn’t tell what she was feeling.

Slightly though, I could feel her shoulders start to shake.




Her laughter reverberated against me, sending ripples of amusement between us. Was she making fun of me? No, it seemed like she found the situation more amusing than anything. Despite the awkwardness, I found myself joining in with a smile.


“You’re so silly.”


“So spontaneous…”

“Should I take that as a compliment?”

I mused while Ichika sighed, amidst her laugh.

“So cute.”


What was that?

“And I’m such a big idiot.” I could feel her voice crack beneath the weight of a newfound sadness. Her shaking shoulders changed their tune, and now played a sorrowful lament reminiscent of the one I saw back at the beach that night.


“I’m sorry…” She sniffled, and I could feel her tears wet on my shoulder “I’m so sorry…”

“Ichika don’t worry I—“

“I hate being the damsel in distress, but what I hate most is seeing you hurt…” Her tears flowed freely, as she balled the fabric of my shirt in her fists. Firmly, strongly, as if I would up and leave her. “I should have helped… maybe I shouldn’t have talked back in the first place. I—“

Before she could finish, I pulled her close, and hugged her back. My arms held her back with a sense of purpose, as if I could transfer my feelings directly from my heart to hers. I wanted—hoped to convey a feeling that words could never fully express.

“I agree. You’re such a big idiot.”


I could feel the fluster in her voice, her cheeks growing hotter against my arms.

“You know, if I could do it all over again, I probably would.” I chuckled at how cheesy that line came out.

“But… why?” Ichika sniffled back a reply.

“Because in your words, as much as I hate getting beaten up, I think seeing you cry…” I sighed, and braced myself for this line. I squeezed Ichika tighter to distract myself. “Hurts way more.”

There was a silence, as Ichika probably froze by this sudden declaration.

“So yeah…” I laughed. Was I always this expressive? “I’d probably kick a thousand nuts for you, so— Wait!”

Wait, what did I say?!

“Ah, I meant protect you, or—“

“Pfftt!” Ichika spluttered all across my shirt, unable to stay serious.

“Don’t laugh, oye!” I hissed, slightly blushing at my weird statement.

Just let it slide, dude!

“I can’t believe you…” She sighed contentedly and wiped away a tear, her gaze meeting mine. Her radiant smile matched the shimmer of emeralds in the sunlight, and her gentle expression was captivating enough to sweep me away.

"Thank you, Haruhi." Her arms slid from my back to cup my cheeks, her touch gentle to avoid hurting my cuts, yet firm enough to convey her emotions. "Truly, thank you." In an instant, her lips puckered slightly, and she rose on her tiptoes.

Wait… was she going for a…?

Before I could react or even close my eyes, her lips hovered over mine. But instead, they missed their mark, and they landed on the band aid on my forehead instead.

“Huh?” I uttered, completely dumbfounded.

“How does Lilia do it… Pain, pain fly away?” She smiled up at me chanting a cute spell, her eyes glistening like two gemstones in the light.

“Hah…” I exhaled. The sirens in my head turned off.

I felt slightly dejected, yet her sweet expression and kiss made that feeling go away instantly. Ichika’s touch must have had some sort of healing properties.

For some reason, I felt like the two of us reverted to how we used to be. Cool around each other. Natural. Or perhaps, even more?

I found myself leaning towards her. Ichika stood still, yet her eyes fluttered, and closed.

I inched and inched closer.

Much to my dismay, the sound of a door opening ensued.


The two of us shot away from each other, and luckily, we weren’t in direct view of the entrance from where we stood.




Riku, Sumi and Chiaki rushed towards me, ignoring a red-faced Ichika briefly.

“Hey guys…” I smiled amidst my confusion.

“Are you okay? We heard the news!”

“We thought you were deaaaad!”

While Sumi was concerned, and Chiaki seemed just about ready to start sobbing, Riku greeted his teeth.

“Yeah, we need to know who did it! I may be small but—“

Mari intervened, grabbing Riku’s collar.

“Hey, hey let the guy breath people.” Mari turned to me, her eyes clad in a veil of worry. “Are you feeling okay?”

“Yeah, it wasn’t that big a deal… I guess?” I shrugged, being put on the spot like that.

“I swear…” Chihiro sighed, “You always play the knight, don’t you?”

He looked at me and I swore I saw a smile replacing the scowl he had when he came in. I knew Chihiro well enough to deduce he was happy to see me in one piece.

“Ah, hey?” Chiaki raised a hand, only now noticing Ichika.

“H-hey?” She flashed a wry smile back.

“Are you the girl who uhm, Haruhi… protected?”

“Yeah…” Ichika nodded slightly. “Name’s Hayasaka Ichika. I’m sorry your friend got hurt…”

“It was my fault…” Ichika finally sighed, yet Mari just tapped her shoulder lightly instead.

“Ah, don’t worry.” She grinned, “He just wanted to look cool I reckon. Haruhi tends to be like that.”

“Wow, thanks…” I muttered, while the rest of the group shared a brief laugh.

“Hm, Hayasaka, huh?” Mari scrutinized her slightly, cocking a brow, “You’re from our class aren’t you? 3C?”

“Ah, yeah.” Ichika nodded awkwardly.

“Wait…” Chihiro then stepped forward too, “Aren’t you the girl from the shrine too?!”

“Oh, yeah, you’re that guy I insulted.” Ichika tapped at her chin, pretending to only realize now.

“You insulted… Chihiro?” Riku gulped, and shrunk back. “So powerful….”

“You’re my idol.” Ichika suddenly found her hand being clasped by Mari, the redhead staring straight into her eyes. “I’m Koizumi Mari, and I want to be your apprentice.”

“Wow! Ichika-chan go!” Chiaki cheered, while Sumi tugged on my sleeve.

“You sure you’re okay, Haruhi-kun?”

I gave her my usual smile, and nodded.

“Yep, don’t worry.”

“Haruhikachoo! Ichikaa!!”

Suddenly, another second bundle of energy came running into the room.

Ah, Kirara…

I found myself sighing, as she landed next to me.

“Oh, you know her too…?” Sumi furrowed her brows, as Kirara shook her head and corrected herself.

“Oh, I mean stranger knight in shining armor that saved my friend-kun!”

“That’s a very long name…” Riku gulped, his head spinning from the amount of words.

“Wait…” Mari’s eyes narrowed. “You’re that dumb green-haired that tried to beat me at table tennis!”

“What? The redhead gyaru?” Kirara raised a brow, and cackled. “Tried to beat you? I’m pretty sure I did!”

“No you didn’t! It was a tie!”

“Champions never tie!”

“Argentina did against Netherlands.”

“That’s different…” I sighed at Riku’s remark, while Ichika’s shoulders slumped.

“Oh boy….”

“Kirara calm down…” Kota who had just joined the fray, stepped between the two girls in an attempt to avoid another fight: 

“Who is that?”

“Beats me…”

Chiaki and Chihiro commented on the sidelines, while the experts, meaning Riku, Sumi and Ichika tried to pry the two rivals off each other’s throats.

Amidst all this chaos, the sun had already set on our first day away from town. 

Mario Nakano 64