Chapter 42:

Lost In Otaku Translation

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

“Another, walking pose…”

“Riku, over here too! My face is about to explode holding this smile!”

“Coming! Coming!”

As Riku was snapping pics of Chihiro and Mari left and right, with the energy and fervor of a child in a playground the rest of us enjoyed the waves instead.

Sumi and Chiaki sat along the shore, in the shallow end, while Kirara tried to convince Ichika to swim ahead.

Spoiler alert: she didn’t. They joined Sumi and Chiaki instead.

“You’re boring!!!”

Kirara would come up from underwater to say a few times, kicking up a stream of bubbles with her mouth.

“Did you know a place like this existed?” I asked Kota, who was sitting beside me across a towel and beneath a pink umbrella with a shirtless, ikemen dude printed across it. Yes, it was Kirara’s beach umbrella.

“I had no clue… Although Kirara did mention it a few times before, we never actually came here.” He shrugged, before lowering his tone, “Partly because Ichika refused before Kirara even got past the “scary forest” part of the story…”

“Heh, makes sense.”

“You know your friends are rather nice…” Kota started, “I was kinda surprised they didn’t know about you being an otaku though.”


He hit the nail on the head with that one, didn’t he?

“I tend to uh… keep it a secret, I guess.” Some words failed me as I explained. “I appreciate you not outing me though.”

“No worries, I heard you had some sort of weird circumstance from Ichika so…” Kota smiled slightly.


As if on cue, Sumi emerged from the ocean, her skin glistening in the sunlight. With an innocent smile, she folded her hands behind her back.

“Wanna join us?”

I flashed a look behind her, and caught a glimpse of Ichika looking over this way. Half her face was submerged, and she was eying me warily, like a predator.

I guess I couldn’t really say no?

“Sure.” I got up, patted my trunks and took off my shirt. “Kota… you coming?”

“In a bit. You go ahead…” He lied on his back, fishing through his backpack with a smirk.

Handheld console time, I concluded and joined the girls.


“And then, he went up in flames, screaming, you’ll be cursed for all eternity! Bah!”

“Oooh…” A few gasps spread around the fire, as we sat opposite from each other, huddled close. As the sun set, the perfect time for scary stories had arrived

First went Mari, then Chiaki who did a better performance than one would think of her, and then the host, Kirara.

If I were to be brutally honest, none of them really hit the spot.

Meanwhile, Ichika was shaking like a leaf.

“Haha… that was fake… right?”

“Who knows…” Kirara only grinned in response.

Sumi too, tried to brave it, gulping and raising a hand.

“Uhm… can I skip my turn?”

“I shall take over!” With a sadistic laugh, Chihiro grabbed the flashlight.

A Chihiro horror story?

“I smell stupid.” Mari’s eyes narrowed. As always, she didn’t mince words.

“First, listen. Judge later.” Chihiro glared, before making his best narration voice.

“Once upon a time, in a forgotten ikemen village…”

Ikemen village? What is that supposed to mean?


I felt a light tug on my arm, and turned to a whisper from Ichika.

“What…?” I whispered back, “…I’m listening to a very serious, and not stupid horror story right now…”

“You… don’t believe in all that, do you?” Ichika gulped, careful to keep her voice as low as possible.

What was that? She really was disturbed by this kinda crap?

That was rather… cute, albeit a little childish. The way her flushed cheeks lit up against the crackling of the fire too, only added to her allure.

“Don’t worry, about it.” I shook my head, “It’s just random, incoherent stuff so—“



Right as I was about to reassure Ichika, Chihiro’s pretend roar caught everyone off guard. Yes, even Mari.

“And the village was not ikemen after all…”

The story seemed to conclude.

“Ah, lame?” Mari let out an exasperated sigh, rubbing her temples after the minor jump scare. Judging by everyone's expressions, it was clear that, apart from the well-timed scream, the storytelling wasn't even remotely scary.

I mean come on, ikemen village?

“Hey guys, think we should wrap it up?” Kota looked back at the horizon, still painted a deep orange, as the sun descended further and further beneath the mountains ahead.

“Ugh, as much as I don’t like raining on everyone’s parade, it also looks like it might rain on ours too. Like, literally…” Kirara pointed at a few clouds hanging overhead.

“Walking back through a scary forest, while rain falls, and thunder booms…” Riku said, trying to sound ominous.

And in fact, he succeeded. Ichika the scaredy cat shot up from her seat in a matter of seconds.

“Let’s go, then! Chop, chop!”

She started collecting her items like she was paid based on efficiency.

“I guess, we could hurry…” Chihiro, our new tsundere nodded with a sigh.

“Okay, everyone let’s get this show on the road!” Mari clapped her hands, scanning the surrounding area like the group leader she thought she were.

“Ah…” She voiced awkwardly before turning to me, almost robotic. “Haruhi?”


“Can you, uh, go look for Sumi?”

“Sumi?” I looked around. True, Sumi was nowhere to be found. “Where did she disappear off to?”

While I muttered lowly, Mari hid a smirk behind her palm.

“I don’t know, can you go check around there maybe?”

"Sure..." I replied hesitantly, making my way over to where Mari was pointing. A bit farther from our location, there was another spot nestled between two large boulders. It provided a clear view over a stretch of lush vegetation and tall trees. I guessed this was the boundary between the beach and the surrounding wilderness.

I hoped Sumi hadn't gone somewhere risky. But then again, Mari didn't appear worried. In fact, she seemed almost amused...? She had the same kind of expression Kirara used when discussing... hardcore BL.

Yeah, maybe that wasn’t the thought I wanted to have right now.


Just as my thoughts were about to spiral out of control, I came around one of the boulders and discovered a familiar figure standing there. She leaned against the rock, appearing a bit fidgety as I approached.

Yet she didn’t seem surprised. Nor did she seem like she was engaged in some task.

Why was she here?

“Hey, Sumi. We’ve been looking for you—“


She cut me off, her expression almost teary, and threw herself onto me, clutching the back of my shirt tightly.


I was slightly taken aback by this unexpected gesture from someone as reserved as her. Her eyes glistened in the fading sunlight, and the gentle waves brushed against our bare feet on the shore. The only sounds were the distant voices of our friends and the soothing echoes of nature.

“I wanted to gather seashells, but I heard something from the bushes and…” Her voice trailed off, her grip relaxing too. She released her head from my chest, and looked up into my eyes in return.

Her hands travelled up to my neckline softly, her lips parting.

All strength was sapped from my body, realizing the meaning behind all this.

Why Mari sent me here.

Why Sumi lunged at me pretending to be scared.

It was all for this.

So that I would kiss Sumi.

The beautiful, popular Yumikawa Sumi. The embodiment of every guy's high school dream.

The cute, precious Sumi.

But did I really want to do that?

As she edged closer to me, her face only a few breaths away, I clenched my eyes shut and seized her shoulders.


I pulled her back, gently, but firmly.

Surprised, the girl before me tried to speak.

Yet she was cut off. Cut off by yet another familiar voice.

A questioning, breaking tone.


I turned instinctively at the sound, and my eyes met with Ichika’s. With her glasses fastened on, and with her backpack slung across her shoulder, she laid there in front of us, frozen, like a statue.

“I uh… I’m very sorry for interrupting!”

Ichika swiftly turned around, shaking her head and using her arm to wipe something away from her face. Without another word, she dashed down the opposite path from which she had come, disappearing into the dense greenery and the depths of the trees.