Chapter 44:

Volume 2: Chapter 3: Discovery - Part 7

Nephalem


It was a lot later than I had expected when I arrived home. The sky was dark, the stars were out, and many of the houses that I passed had shut off their lights.Bookmark here

My original thoughts were that I would be home in time to watch anime with Alicia and Yūgure, but it must have been close to midnight as I entered the front door. Trying to be quiet, I took off my shoes and snuck in. Everyone was probably asleep. I didn’t want to wake them.Bookmark here

“You’re coming home awfully late,” a voice called out as I passed the living room. I froze.
Alicia was sitting on the couch. The lights were off, so I couldn’t see her very well, but the buxom silhouette was a dead giveaway.Bookmark here

“What’s wrong? Got nothing to say?” she asked.Bookmark here

I relaxed. “I didn’t think you would be up, so I was trying to be quiet.”Bookmark here

“When you didn’t arrive home in time to watch anime with me, I grew worried and decided to wait for you.”Bookmark here

“I-is that so?”Bookmark here

Something about this situation seemed odd, off, wrong somehow, but I couldn’t figure out what.Bookmark here

Alicia stood up and walked over to me. Her steps reverberated through the mostly silent room until, stopping directly in front of me, she frowned.Bookmark here

“Did you have fun with that girl?”Bookmark here

A chill entered my heart. I knew that she was talking about Gabriel. She couldn’t have been talking about anyone else, but that would mean she knew what I had been doing. I thought back to those times when I felt someone watching me. That must have been Alicia.Bookmark here

I’m… sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to keep this from you.”Bookmark here

“Then why didn’t you tell me?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know.”Bookmark here

“You’re lying.”Bookmark here

I winced. “It… I promised Gabriel I would keep it a secret.”Bookmark here

“And you didn’t find that at all strange?” Alicia asked, lips peeling back to reveal her grit teeth. “You didn’t find it weird that she would ask you to keep your meeting a secret from everyone?”Bookmark here

“I figured she didn’t want to deal with the trouble that came from being seen with me,” I mumbled. “And I didn’t want to trouble someone who wanted to spend time with me.”Bookmark here

“You’re too naive!” Alicia snapped suddenly, and the force of her voice made me take a step back. “Are you really that stupid? If that girl actually wanted to spend time with you, then she should have proudly proclaimed that you’re her friend! She shouldn’t have any reason to hide it!”Bookmark here

Frowning, I said, “you don’t know her circumstances, though. She might be here for an important job. If people learn that she’s been spending time with me—”Bookmark here

“Oh, don’t give me that.” Alicia placed her hands on her hips and glared. “There are over one million people in Saitama. Not everyone is going to know who you are, so it shouldn’t make a difference if whoever she works for finds out about it. Open your eyes, Jacob. She’s not spending time with you because she wants to. She’s probably an enemy who’s trying to get close to you.”Bookmark here

Something spread through my body, white hot like fire, a raging inferno of anger. This was the first time I had ever felt angry at someone. Maybe it was my anger that made me speak, but in that moment, upon hearing those words from Alicia’s mouth, I snapped.Bookmark here

“You’re just upset because Gabriel accepts me!” I shouted before I could stop myself. “Gabriel is the only person who doesn’t cringe when I touch them, who doesn’t tense up when I’m near them! She’s the only person who has never expressed wariness whenever I’m around! Even you sometimes look me as though I’m about to stab you in the back!”Bookmark here

Alicia’s eyes widened. “That’s—”Bookmark here

“But Gabriel doesn’t do that! She talks to me without reserve! She treats me like a human being!” My eyes felt hot and salty as all of the emotions coursing through me like an out of control forest fire poured out of me. “I’ve never been so completely accepted by someone else in my entire life! Even if I like you, I’m not going to let you take this from me!”Bookmark here

I didn’t give Alicia a chance to respond as I whirled around and stormed up the stairs. Before I entered my room, I heard Alicia’s shout of, “She’s going to betray you!” before I slammed the door shut.Bookmark here

Hurrying over to the bed, I threw myself face first onto it. I took several deep breaths. As my anger subsided, I suddenly felt a deep sense of shame, a self-loathing over what I had done. Speaking to Alicia like that had been wrong. I felt awful, but I also didn’t want to apologize.Bookmark here

What should I do to fix this?Bookmark here

Exhaustion hit me seconds later. Spending all that time walking around, and then getting angry, had sapped my energy. Only one emotion penetrated my brain before I fell asleep.Bookmark here

Regret that I might have just lost my first friend because I had lost control over my emotions.Bookmark here


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