Chapter 18:

Hiroshi Believed in Me

Hanako won’t Grant my Wish!

“Do you have any idea where he could have been taken? Any way to figure out where he is?”

I had never seen such panic in somebody’s eyes. It never occurred to me that I’d see it first from such a cool-headed person.

Of course I knew. Based on what he said, there was only one possible answer to what happened to Noboru.

But I couldn’t tell him. It would mean exposing Hanako.

“I- I don’t! I don’t know anything!”

We already called my sister to let her know I was alright. Apparently, the first thing that Hiroshi did was have his parents get in touch with her to check if I had gotten home alright. Now that I had called properly, her concern turned to fury. Fortunately, she didn’t leave work this time.

But I asked her for some time. That said, I had a long and very dreaded talk waiting for me when I arrived home.

According to Hiroshi, Noboru never came home after school today. The police were contacted and have been searching for him for a few hours now. Their only potential lead was his computer’s recent search history, which was all filled with occult forums and satanic rituals.

“Shoutarou, please. You care about Hiroshi. I know you do.”

He knew. About Hanako.

Or at least he had some sort of confidence that I was hiding something from him. I didn’t know how to answer. Telling others about her would be too dangerous. I couldn’t risk it.

But at the same time, wasn’t this far more important? What if Saito really was in danger?

I thought back to the article that ironically sparked his whole interest in this charade to begin with.

My body froze like it had when I had faced Hanako.

We were in a dangerous situation. A situation that not even adults would be able to handle properly; one that only a demon could handle.

There was a very real possibility that Hanako would have some method, magic or otherwise, to find him, especially if he had been captured by a succubus.

I thought he would give up on it after a few days if we just turned him down. We both did.

For that, I felt responsible.

I could see the same thought crying out from Hiroshi’s panicked demeanor.

But I felt coerced too. I could tell that he was saying things that were supposed to lure me into responsibility. Hiroshi was good at controlling social situations, but this must have been the first time I was an active victim of it. Up until now, I had only seen him manipulate others for my own benefit.

It felt horrible. Until now, I had just been sitting back and letting him treat people this way for my sake.

I understood his side of things. But at the same time, I had my own things to protect. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t act.

Once again, I couldn’t do anything when the decisive moment came.

Eventually, he backed off and calmed himself.

“Nevermind. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t force you to get involved.”

Even he was willing to admit it; that he was trying to drag me in. But he must have been desperate, too.

Hiroshi was smart. Whenever I saw him interact with others, I always got the impression that he understood things that most people our age didn't think about. It used to always bother me, as if he was just trying to act mature. But after talking to him enough, I'd started to realize that he likely just had a lot on his mind. He was a thoughtful person.

For him to panic this much; to have no answers to this situation, he must have really understood how dire it was.

"Wait! I- I do. I know somebody who might be able to help."


With a single expression, I could tell for sure this time. Hiroshi already knew something about Hanako. He also knew how hard of a decision it was for me to tell him. I didn't quite understand it, but there was a deep connection between us made in that moment; one which I couldn't hope to describe with words.

“Even if it couldn’t have been anybody else, I’m- I’m still a little happy that you came to me… Just a little bit.”

We ran as fast as possible back to my home.

And on the way back, it occurred to me for the first time that Hanako and I had just fought.

And I ran away. Nothing had been resolved.

How could I ask for her help? After all of that?

For me to be afraid of her because of something that she couldn’t help; because of something that she didn’t choose to be; I didn’t deserve to be by her side.

We reached the front door of my apartment.

I couldn’t pull the handle.

“Shoutarou!? What’re you waiting for?”

“I- I can’t. Hanako and I got into a fight. She–probably hates me now.”

He didn’t reply.

What could he be thinking?

Perhaps I let him down.

“Let’s put the issue of Noboru aside for the moment.”


“You need to fix things with your girlfriend.”

“I- I can’t! I already ruined them.”

“But you love her, don’t you? Are you going to give her up that easily!?”


Did I love Hanako?

She said that she “wanted” to love me.

I still didn’t get it. I didn’t understand our relationship.

“I’m sorry…”


Hiroshi threw his arm across my shoulder, slamming his hand against the door.

W-was this the fabled Kabedon??

I could see his troubled face lean down against mine. He was actually a little taller than me, though I never really thought about it before.

“Don’t be sorry. Instead, think it through. We don’t have to be in a rush. You can take your time. Just–think it through properly. I believe in you, Shoutarou. I’m sure Hanako does too.”

The words echoed through my ears and into my mind. I couldn’t muster words; I couldn’t even keep the feeling in my legs.

I slid down into a sitting position, and gave him a nervous nod.

Think it through.

Think it through.

Think it through.

These strong feelings I have for Hanako…

I don’t think they’re love.

She was right. Neither she nor I were in love with each other.

But that didn’t mean that our relationship was moot, did it? It had been almost a month since we had our first meeting together. She knew things about me that I hadn’t been comfortable revealing to anybody else. It was one of the craziest months of my life.

And without a doubt the happiest. At this point, she was a special and irreplaceable existence to me.

She always seemed to know what I needed most at any given point. And she always trusted me so blindly. It was as if she knew me better than I knew myself.

But she was dangerous too. Ever since day one, I’ve had the lingering fear that everything we were building together would eventually crumble. That eventually, things would go back to the way they were.

And even despite everything I had shared with her, I still couldn’t trust her completely.

She said it was because she was a demon; because she hated humans.

But up until recently, didn’t I feel the same way? How did that line up?

No, I didn’t really hate anybody. I only hated myself for being the way I was.

What did Hanako see in me?

What did she mean by “wanting” to love me?

Did that mean she also “wanted” to know me? That she “wanted” to trust me?

So it was all a lie after all?

No. Don’t think like that. My relationship with her was more important than a lie.

It just meant that she was giving her best, most honest effort to understand and care for me.

She had done a great job up to this point, too.

But she didn’t know everything about me. And she wasn’t right about everything either.

I was afraid of her because I had never really gotten to know her to begin with.

That’s it.

I want to get to know Hanako properly.

“Wait here. Uh, please.”


I opened the door and ran inside, but paused again.

“T-thanks, Hiroshi. For believing in me.”

He nodded.

I ran over to my room and knocked on the door.

“Hanako! You’re in there, right? I want to talk to you! I want to face you properly!”

No response.

She was in there, right?

I peeked inside, but there was only silence.

My chest tightened.

I hadn’t even thought of the possibility of her being gone.

Where are you Hanako?

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