Chapter 1:

Blending In

Assassin's Guide to Being Ordinary

"Ran, you there?" Watcher called for me through the comms.

I lifted my finger up to my left ear. "I'm here, sir. Do you have a new mission for me?"

"Yeah, actually, I do. Pick up your goddam phone."

After that, I heard a static click, a sign that his transponder had gone offline. Pick up my phone? What did he mean by that?

I pulled out my phone from the pocket of my jeans and opened up the lock screen. Rolling down my notification log was a collection of missed calls from Watcher, all within seconds of each other.

I unlocked the screen and shot him a call.

"Jesus Christ, son," he grumbled. "You know how many times I tried to call you? I can't keep contacting you via comms. Looking so damn suspicious, reaching for your ears and shit like you got something to hide."

"Apologies, sir. I forgot to switch my phone back from silent mode after my exams."

"Uh-huh. Speaking of which, how'd that go?"

"I'd be surprised if I passed any of them, sir."

"What the... You know how hard it was for me to get you into the University of Tokyo? That place ain't no joke when it comes to admissions."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, sir, but I remember you explicitly telling me that all it took was a word from you, and the headmaster caved."

An awkward moment of silence fell between us.

"Ahem... Anyways, you out of class yet?"," Watcher quickly said.

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Now, it's time for your actual mission. I want you to go around campus and see what interests you."

"... Pardon, sir...?"

"You heard me right, son. Take a look around, and go see all the extracurricular shit the young folks do in college. Maybe join a club. How about the student council? Actually, wait. Scratch that. As of today, your mission is to join at least one club before the end of the week."

"If you don't mind my asking, sir... What does this have to do with our line of work?"

"Absolutely nothing, but that's the beauty of it, eh? You finally get to go around and be a normal kid for once in your life."

"Would it be impolite to say that I'm uninterested, sir?"

"I don't give a shit if you're uninterested. That's the mission. Got it?"

"... Understood, sir."

"Good. Now, get going. There's a lot to see, haha!"

With that, he hung up the phone.

For the next couple of minutes, I stood at the center of a bustling courtyard, dumbfounded and pondering Watcher's words. Extracurricular activities? Clubs? Student council? That requires me to interact with other students. It's not like I can't, but... I don't necessarily excel at it either.

Even now, many students of the university were passing me by, most of them in groups of two or more. They talk and converse with each other so fluidly.

I've been an assassin of the Hunt for as long as I can remember. How can I possibly hope to match my fellow students?

Despite my worry, I decided to go along with the mission. In the courtyard, a bunch of decorated stalls were stationed on the grass next to the many arching pathways. I suppose now that final exams are over, they're back to recruiting new students for their clubs.

There seems to be quite a variety here. Some athletics clubs were lined up on one path as if to compete against each other. The cultural clubs had by far the most visually appealing stalls. They had decorations that were similar to the Autumn Festival that was held a month ago. Perhaps they are the ones who are in charge of setting up festivals.

Other clubs included academics, community service, and of course, the student council.

"Come join the basketball club!" shouted one. "Beginner or pro, we'll take ya in!"

"Wanna get into study groups and prepare yourself for the next term? Come join our math club!" cheered another.

If I'm being honest, none of these appeal to me. The only few that remotely fall within my line of interests are the athletics clubs, and that's only because I work out a lot during my training sessions with the Hunt.

A part of me wanted to reach back to Watcher and call it a mission failed, but that would certainly put a dent in my perfect record. That's the last thing I want. Even then, this particular mission is extremely out of place for someone like me.

Suddenly, a pair of students bumped my shoulder while running past me. One of them turned around with a frantic expression.

"Sorry, man!" he said before turning to his friend. "Dude! Quit bumping into people!"

His friend turned around. "S-sorry!"

"Don't worry about it," I replied with a smile. "Where are you guys off to in such a hurry?"

"The student council stall. The 'Belle of Campus' is there right now! We gotta get going, or we'll miss her. See ya, man!"

The 'Belle of Campus.' I've heard that name only a couple of times since summer break ended. Apparently, she's the most beautiful second-year student on campus. She is said to have charmed some of the popular third-year guys with just a single glance.

I wonder why they even care about things like that. I get it. Girls can be pretty, and guys will do anything in their power to get with someone they love. However, this seems a bit... cultish, the fact that they call her by a specific title and hoard around her like she's some kind of goddess.

It's times like these that I look up to the sky and laugh at myself for being so different from other people my age. Maybe this is just the norm, and I'm the weird one.

No, that's definitely the case.

I took a deep breath and looked back at the direction those two were headed. Even though I've heard so much about this 'Belle,' I've never actually seen her before. I suppose I should go and check it out.