Chapter 19:

I'm not falling for her. [Do-over]

Light of my darkest eve

“It’s freezing, I can barely feel my fingertips,” she says, slipping her hand into mine. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“N-no,” I lied.

This is the third consecutive day that Hanji has invited me on a ‘date,’ and she’s pulling shit like this more and more frequently. What was originally light teasing and actions that could have been construed as romantic has now become open flirtation and affection. She does it so naturally and casually, but there’s a part of me that feels like her every action is calculated.

To put it bluntly, I don’t trust her.

“I know a cafe nearby that does some top tier cake. I’m talkin’ gateau-straight-from-France level shit. Wanna stop by while we’re here?”

“S-sure, sounds nice.”

That being said, The cause of my nervousness is not my lack of trust. On that front I’m relatively calm. If this is all a ruse and she’s simply manipulating me, then that’s that. Nothing more to it. The thing making me anxious is that sliver of possibility that this is all real.

One of the first things I learned about Hanji is her complete lack of understanding in terms of boundaries. For someone who has no qualms about sleeping with her friends or even someone she just met, is it really out of the question that the way she’s acting is just completely normal for her? In that case, is it possible she really is trying to get closer to me on a personal level?

I also can’t deny that part of me sincerely wants to be close to her. And not just that part this time. Despite how… strange she is, she’s genuinely fun to be around. Her completely blunt and direct attitude makes a nice change from the thousand layers of sugarcoating most people use.

It’s also not a stretch to say that I’ve never met a woman I’ve been so physically attracted to. One look at her face could make a man melt . There’s no other way to say it: Hanji is beautiful. From her piercing eyes, to her soft lips, to her sleek black hair in it’s carefully tied ponytail, she’s nothing short of gorgeous. When combined with her well-toned body, she’s damn near perfect in my eyes.

I’m not falling for her though.

“This is the place. Quaint, innit?”

“Looks nice, I always like small businesses like these.”

“Well, whatcha waiting for? Let’s go already!” She practically drags me by the hand into the little cafe, which is significantly warmer than the cold outdoors. Despite that…

“Uhhh… Hanji?”


“We’re inside now. You not gonna let go of my hand?”

“No, this is fine.”

“...okay.” Dear god, woman, do you intend to kill me?

We walk to the counter hand in hand, catching the eye of the only other person inside, a worker who had been refilling a coffee machine when we walked in.

“Ah, Hanji, good to see you again!” said the middle-aged worker, a wide smile plastered across his face.

“Good to be back, old man.”

“The usual, I take it?”

“You know it. A coffee too, if you please.” The man gives a nod of acknowledgement, before briefly turning his focus to me, looking at our hands which are still interlinked.

“You got a new boyfriend or somethin’?”

“Nah, just friends for now.” For now? For now?! The hell is this girl implying? Fuck me, I can feel my cheeks going red.

“Ahhh, I see,” said the old man with a smirk, clearly not believing a word. “And what would Mr Friend For Now like to order?” The embarrassing nature of the situation almost makes me forget I’m supposed to actually answer the question for a moment.

“Uh- chocolate fudge cake, please.”

“A fine choice. Find a table, you two. I’ll bring your orders to you.”

“Cheers, old man.”

“Th-thank you.”

Still holding tight to my hand, Hanji guides me to a table for two by the front window, and we sit down opposite one another (finally breaking hands). A short moment later, the man with a shit-eating grin brings two slices of cake to the table: my chocolate fudge, and a mouth-wateringly appetising red velvet for Hanji. He returns a minute later with Hanji’s coffee too.

“You too enjoy the rest of your date.”

“We will, thanks old man.”

“Th-thank you.”

He returns to the counter, leaving me and Hanji alone with our food. I begin digging into the (incredibly delicious) fudge cake, but my mind is otherwise occupied. ‘For now.’ That was a deliberate word choice. I’m now absolutely certain she’s at least implying the possibility of romantic development.

But for what purpose? Just to keep me on the hook? Or is this part of her masterplan to learn how to form human connections? Hell, can someone like her actually feel love in any capacity? Is it just a way to entice someone into a hook up to her? Or a way to keep them around for her own needs? Or could it be genuine on some level?

“Y’know, I fink the gang’s really ftartin’ to like you.” I’m brought back to reality by Hanji talking with her mouth full, like an utter barbarian.

“I’m… sorry?” I say, having swallowed my food first like a normal person.

“I said I think the gang are really starting to like you.”

“Oh… yeah, I hope so. I feel like I’m getting along well with them so far.”

“Yeah, they seemed to enjoy your company at lunch yesterday. Well, Yosuke and Saki did. It’s impossible to tell with Akane, and Koto doesn’t really like anyone.”

“He seems to like you a lot.”

“Eh, that’s a little different. He and I have that sorta kinship where our conditions are so similar. We even dated for a little while once.”

“Really?” Well I guess that answers the 'can Hanji have romantic relationships' question.

“Well, we called it dating, all we really did was skip class, smoke weed and fuck in my room pretty much every day.” Or maybe it doesn’t.

“I-I see. To be honest, I thought the idea of a psychopath and sociopath dating sounded a little… unhealthy.”

“Heh, you’re not wrong, but neither of us really cared all that much. We only broke up cos our grades started to slip from all the classes we missed.”

“That… makes sense.”

For a moment we go back to eating in silence, but a question plays on my mind, and eventually I cave and answer it.

“So… do you ever have real relationships? Like, with actual romantic feelings and stuff?”

“You askin’ cos you wanna be my first?”


Her little smirk as she eats another bite of cake tells me that my reaction was exactly what she wanted.

“I’m jus’ playing. It’s a fair question to ask. And not one I can really answer, honestly. I don’t really know the difference between normal and romantic feelings. Hell, I don’t even know what normal feelings towards people are like. But so far, nah, I guess not. There’ve been times where the other person in my ‘relationships’ have confessed actual romantic feelings for me, and I just had to break it off. Ain’t fair otherwise.”

That’s… incredibly disappointing to hear. Not in that way, obviously, because I’m not falling for her. Not at all. I am not stupid enough to fall in love with a girl who can’t love. That would be asinine. I’m just… sad that she has to suffer such an emotional disconnect. It must be lonely.

“Y’know, I… really wish I could though.”


“Fall in love. People always describe it as this incredible feeling, like finding the other half to your own existence, but it just sounds… impossible to comprehend for me. It’d be nice to know what it feels like, at least once before I die.”

Hanji’s disposition is different to how it’s been at any other point in time. She’s neither being deliberately flirtatious and provocative, nor letting her real emotions slip out onto the surface. She’s just… staring off into space, as if daydreaming of something incredible and fascinating. But her expression is somewhat empty, as if she knows she’ll never achieve that dream.

For the first time since her anger at seeing Akihiko, I think I’m seeing the real Hanji in its complete form. Not a facade or a Freudian slip, but the real, unadulterated Hanji. And the emptiness in her countenance hurts my soul.

…please don’t fall in love with this girl. She’s making it so hard, but please don’t fall in love with her.

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon