Chapter 41:

The Otaku Takes The Evening Off

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

The room was quiet, curtains swaying in the morning breeze. Sunlight seeped through the open window. Our poolside fun ended quickly yesterday, and exhaustion settled in after some more laughter.

Despite yesterday's challenges, I lay awake at dawn, my mind replaying moments, especially those including Ichika. Was I truly in love?

Ignoring the signs wasn't an option. Yet, honesty meant a new beginning. Was I ready for something like that? 

Torn, I sighed, unable to sleep.

Craving fresh air, I slipped out of bed and the room, careful not to disturb the others. The door closed softly.

Down the sandy path, I strolled to the beach, immersed in thought. Inhaling the sea's scent, waves and seagulls blended with my contemplation. The sun hadn't risen fully, casting a few beams on the water.

The sea seemed peaceful, nature's sounds surrounding me. Amidst it all, a familiar figure graced the shoreline – Kirara, barefoot, her hair dancing in the breeze.

What was she doing up this early?

“Oh, Mistah Uke… Morning!”

She waved at me, a grin on her face.

I chuckled back, and moved closer.

“It’s been a while since you called me that…” I shrugged, her grin turning sheepish.

“That means I’ve known you for a while, too…” She nudged me, and did a twirl in the water reaching her ankles.

“Well, a month isn’t THAT long…” I shrugged, slipping out of my flip flops and following suit with her in the water. “I never took you for an early bird…”

“Heh, there’s many mysteries to little ol’ Kirara.” She turned her back to me, folding her palms behind her back as she looked at the horizon stretching beyond.

Amidst the small silence, she heaved a slight sigh.

“I come here to think whenever I visit my sister.” She started.

The way she looked, and the way her tone was laced with a pang of nostalgia, gave her a weird kind of aura. She felt much more subdued than the energetic, meddlesome girl I thought I knew.

“Think? About what?”

“Heh, you think I’m not capable of such a complex thing don’t you?” She grinned menacingly, causing me to shrug.

“Your words…”

“You know, I’m not always like that, right?” She smiled, “I gotta take some breaks too.”

“Breaks from… what exactly?”

Her newfound seriousness caught me off guard, and I found myself intrigued.

“From being me. You know I can’t always act like I do. I’m not even THAT happy-go-lucky.” She turned back with a wink. “I’m not bright, but I guess I’m not that stupid either. It’s more of a defensive mechanism, you know. Back at school, or everywhere I go.” She sighed, and moved further into the sea, her now wet knees glistened in the growing sunlight.

“…If I act oblivious, nobody can really insult me, take me seriously. And even if they do, I can just brush it off, for acting annoying.”

“So you’re… pretending?”

Kirara laughed at that.

“No silly, that’s where you’re wrong. I like teasing everyone, and I like who I am. That side is just another part of me.”

I stood in marvel, watching Kirara walk along the shoreline again, kicking at the waves.

I never thought Kirara’s thoughts ran so deep. Maybe… we were more alike than I thought.

We all hide something within…

“Why are you saying all this, all of a sudden?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“You know, I’m not as stupid as people make me out to be. I saw how you looked when you walked over. Hell, you could use some therapy!” She grinned cheekily, turning around to face me this time. “I just thought my story may help you figure something out for yourself too…”

“Myself, huh?” I muttered, pondering on her statement. Was I that easy to read now? Or was I always this transparent? Oblivious to everyone else.

“Hey…” Kirara mused, “Do you like Ichika?”


This question was bound to arise I guess. Again she was reading me like a book.

“You know, there are a lot of things I could explain, but I’ll hold off for now…” Suppressing a chuckle I turned my back to her. Like my persona. Like my past. Like who I wanted to be, and who I really was. Like how close Kirara’s words hit home.

“The short answer is yeah. I do like Ichika.”

“But? I sense a but coming…”

“But I need to figure out something else first and foremost. And…”

“And?” Kirara raised a brow.

“And if you tell her before I do, then I’m burning all of your BL collection.” I gave her a wink, and went on my way back to the cabin. For some reason I felt weirdly refreshed after this talk.

Kirara laughed at that too, “I won’t! And you wouldn’t dare!”

I threw in a wave as well and raised my voice, “Thanks for the talk Kirara!”


She shouted back, and I stopped in my tracks, looking over my shoulder.

She gave me a thumbs up. “Your friends are way better than I thought. So… stop worrying so much.”

With a final chuckle, I walked back to the cabin. My steps were lighter, and my mind clearer as I returned.

I reckoned I was ready for another day.


A couple days after the cook mishap back at our establishment, work seemed to flow better than ever. The 5 of us, seemed more in sync by the day, and Ichika and Co always seemed to hang there or there abouts around the beach.

Today however, was slightly special.

“Here you go, Yuuto-san. Black coffee.” I smiled at Ichika’s father in his floral pink shirt, and sunglasses, while his wife smiled sweetly at me behind her sun hat.

“And a tropical fruit juice for you, Kaori-san, enjoy.”

“We thank you, Haruhi.” Yuuto-san nodded, and his wife beamed.

“You look like a very dependable waiter Haru-chan! I hope nobody tried to snatch you away from Ichika’s grasp!”

“Heh…” I laughed dryly. How did she know? “You don’t have to worry, ma’am. Ichika is the only one for me.”

“Oh, my!”

While Kaori-san’s smile only grew and Yuuto-san stared satisfied, I caught a glimpse of a pair of reddened ears along the sunbeds sprawled across from the ocean.

I gave the blushing Ichika a wink, who hid her face behind a fashion magazine. It seemed she could also read it upside down.

As I made my return to the counter, the ultimate waiter checkpoint, Sumi tapped on my shoulder.

“Haruhi-kun, Wataru-san needs us for a bit.”

“Oh, he does?”

After a quick confirmation nod from Sumi, and calling Chihiro over and away from his flirting candidates, the crew was all assembled.

“Kids, I have good news for you…” He wiped the sweat off his brow, like always. For some reason, Wataru-san always seemed he was running a marathon. I guess such was the job of a beach-bar boss.

“More pay?” Mari grinned cheekily.

Apologetic, her uncle smiled, “I’ve decided to close the shop early today. After noon, you’ll have the rest of the day off.”

“Yattaaaa!” Chiaki was the first to cheer high fiving an equally happy Riku, as the rest of us remained skeptical amidst our surprise.

“Is there a specific reason for that, uh… Wataru-san?” Sumi questioned, her soothing smile always on her face.

“There is. It took me a while but, I discerned lower revenue was much more acceptable than overworking my staff. The incident with the cook and all that, sort of opened my eyes.”

“I see…” I muttered, while Chihiro flipped his hair, already on his way out.

“Hah! A day off is a day off! Who cares about the circumstances?”

“Thanks, uncle.” Mari gave an appreciate kind of wink, before returning to her post too.

It seemed the five of us would have more free time in the evening than we thought. I wondered what we would do with it, although I had a rough idea already.


“You sure this is the right way, you green-haired fool?” Mari grumbled, as our group walked over branches, and traversed a small forest a few ways from the sea.

Our guide, who was none other than the dependable Kirara, snickered, “You either trust me, or this jungle consumes you!”

“Consumes… us?” Sumi shrinked back.

“Don’t worry about it. She’s just trying to sound dramatic…” Ichika reassured her, as we pressed on further into vegetation.

“Agh, I swear if I see a bug…”

“Can we eat the bugs?”


While Chihiro grumbled, Mari reprimanded Chiaki before she consumed anything weird. And more importantly, alive.

All I could see was trees and green all around. For a second or two I almost pondered if we were actually lost.

“Here we are!” Kirara finally announced having reached a clearing from the thick vegetation.


We had decided to spend our evening off together, and as it seemed the girl leading the way did exactly what she promised: Guiding all of us to a special place.

Presumably, we were headed to a beach concealed within a sprawling forested expanse. As the trees gave way to an open space, Kirara skidded forward, arms outstretched.

"Behold!" she exclaimed, twirling to showcase the scene before us. Completely hidden behind towering rocks, and thick trees, was a magnificent ravine beach. Golden sand stretched across it, azure waves crashing where sea met shore, and a rocky archway painted the backdrop of one of the most hidden, picturesque beaches I’ve seen. 

It was rather small, one had to admit, but the sight of it was magnificent.

“Woah…” Mari exclaimed, while Kirara snickered at all our dumbfounded expressions.

“This is a very well hidden spot. Only a few locals are familiar with it, and word around here doesn’t spread around as easily.”

It really was a small paradise, I had to admit.

Sumi and Ichika stared in awe, while Riku tossed off his shirt and ran into the water.

“Now, praise me!”

Kirara stretched her arms out again, while the rest of us shuffled towards the shoreline, ultimately ignoring her.

“Wow, cool, pat pat…” Only Mari patted her head indifferently before following along.

“Praise me, damnit!”