Chapter 9: Perfect plan

Perfect plan

—You must be lonely, right?

—Yes.

The festival was proving to be a great success. Many marching bands were participating, and the students were dancing and enjoying themselves. Also, the drama club put on a great show so everyone could enjoy the great atmosphere.

Everything was going as planned. Though I’ve spent a lot of time alone since it all started.

—Why aren’t you with Hayasaka-san?

—She’s pretty busy with the cosplay cafe.

—How about spending time with Tachibana-senpai?

—She’s busy playing a ghost in her escape game.

—So you got into a fight with her.

—……………

Since that night at my house, both Hayasaka-san and Tachibana-san haven’t spoken to me. It’s gotten to the point where Hayasaka-san runs away every time she sees me. It’s all my fault since I humiliated her in a way I shouldn’t have.

I can understand why she feels uncomfortable and doesn’t want to see me, but Tachibana-san continues to be blatantly cold. Instead of simply running away, she acts as if she doesn’t know me. It’s as if I’m a complete stranger.

—And what do you plan to do?

—I hope everything will return to normal once the festival is over.

—So, you’re hoping that time will just heal it. It probably will, but that doesn’t solve the root of the problem. 

—I want to believe we’ll get through it.

—I’m aware that you plan to carry out your plans on the premise that Hayasaka-san and Yanagi-senpai won’t find out about your secret relationship with Tachibana-san. But you should be more careful, sometimes betrayals come in the least expected ways. And even more so when things aren’t going well with them at the moment.

—I guess you’re right. 

—You’re hopeless… What do you say we take a walk?

After some thought, I accepted Hamanami’s invitation and we walked through the whole festival together. We saw many interesting stalls, and even wonderful graffiti on the school murals made by the art club.

Hamanami and I stopped in front of one of the murals and took a picture together.

After this, I started to get a little hungry. So, I proposed that Hamanami and I go to one of the food stalls to try Takoyaki. 

When we arrived, the guys were a little nervous about having someone as cute as her willing to try their food. So much so that they gave it to us for free. I was quite surprised at how pretty girls come to have such an easy time with these things.

—Hey, Hamanami, say aah ~

I took a piece of Takoyaki and tried to feed it to her directly. But she didn’t seem to like it one bit. To the point of outright refusing it.

—Please stop. Don’t think you can replace Hayasaka-san or Tachibana-san with me.

—Oh, I thought you were trying to do the same with me and Yoshimi-kun.

—That’s not true! I don’t want to do this kind of thing with you! I… I just…

Hamanami was elated. Something was bothering her, and it was the fact that she would not be able to spend time alone with Yoshimi-kun on such a special occasion as this.

—Yoshimi is an idiot. Right now, he’s trying the escape game that Tachibana-senpai organized. Aren’t you supposed to have made her cancel it!?

—A lot of things happened after that…

I really tried to persuade Tachibana-san to give up this crazy idea about being the prize of her own game. But the results worked against me. I know for sure that Yoshimi-kun likes Hamanami, and this is nothing more than a desperate act to get her attention.

—You can rest assured. Everything will be all right.

—Nothing will be fine! Yoshimi was very confident, he said he was going to participate and get out of that game as fast as possible.

If I have to guess, I think Tachibana-san gave the answers of the game to Yoshimi-kun days before with the intention of having him win. It’s just a matter of time before they announce that the two of them will participate in the Best Couple contest.

I guess I can bear the thought of the two of them participating together. After all, Yoshimi-kun only likes Hamanami…

—Tachibana-senpai is waiting for you to go and participate so that you can win, right?

—Probably

—Then go and win that stupid game!

—I can’t. Are you forgetting that it could ruin things with Yanagi-senpai and Hayasaka-san?

—I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know! It’s just… Ughhh. I guess we’ll just have to wait.

I want to believe that Tachibana-san will stop all this at the last moment. She supports the love between Yoshimi-kun and Hamanami as much as I do, so I wanna believe she isn’t so angry with me that she would show up to the contest with another man with the intention of hurting me.

Or… Maybe she is?

—[Hamanami-san, your presence is requested in the audiovisual room right now].

A voice over the school loudspeakers resounded all over the place.

—Did something happen within the committee?

—I think so. Well, I’m not surprised, they’re all pretty much useless when I’m not giving them orders.

Hamanami turned around and headed for the AV room. But at the last moment she turned to look at me. 

—Kirishima-senpai, I… Um…

—I know. I’ll tell Tachibana-san to stop.

—….Thank you, and excuse me.

Hamanami bowed to me, then entered the building.

Once again, I had been left alone. As a member of the organizing committee and someone in charge of event preparation, all I have left to take care of is the cleanup. So I have time to kill somewhere until the festival is over.

—Kirishima!

While I was thinking of a place to go, someone called out to me from behind. When I turned around, I saw that the person in question was Yanagi-senpai. Among all the people enjoying the festival, Yanagi-senpai was the only one who had a worried look on his face. The atmosphere had completely changed and felt much heavier than before. 

—Can we talk?

I nodded my head at his question.

************************

I was walking together with Yanagi-senpai through the school halls, and we were in front of the cosplay cafe. As soon as we took a look inside, we noticed that a big teddy bear was serving customers together with girls dressed up as magical fairies. 

Because no sound could come out of the bear’s head to communicate with people, she used a whiteboard that was around her neck along with a magic marker.

—That’s Hayasaka-chan, right?

I nodded at the senpai’s question. As soon as Hayasaka-sam became aware of my presence, she took the whiteboard, wrote something with the marker pen and then raised it above her head. Written on the board were the words “Never come here”.

After that, she walked to the back of the classroom. Senpai observes this strange attitude and looks at me suspiciously.

—…Kirishima, what did you do to her?

—It’s a long story.

At that answer, he suggested we have a more relaxed chat somewhere else. So, we headed to the rooftop of the building. 

It was late fall, the weather was cool, and the sun was beginning to set.

—How were your exams?

—I’m not complaining. I guess everything is going relatively well.

Yanagi-senpai plans to study business administration when he goes to college. He’s looking to prepare himself to take over his father’s company. He’s a forward-thinker who is very mature on his part.

—Although I’ve started to feel a bit suffocated. That’s why I want to relax today.

In spite of his words, his body language was not that of someone relaxed at all.

—And how have things been going with you?

—Everything is the same, nothing new.

—How are things in love?

—Same as my life, a failure. You know how I am when I try new things, just like that time when we played soccer, no one believed in me if it wasn’t for you—

—Kirishima… Do you have feelings for Hikari Tachibana?

I tried my best to avoid answering his question and move on to another conversation, but senpai realized my intentions. 

Senpai has been curious about my relationship with Tachibana-san ever since the day he saw us holding hands. And even at this moment where I’m caught between a rock and a hard place, I had no choice but to lie about it. 

And it’s something that makes me feel very bad. Senpai is a very kind person, and he doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment from me. I feel disgusted.

—Why do you say that? 

—Because if I were you, I would love the fact that someone like her would hold my hand.

Yanagi-senpai is speaking clearly. The way he talks to me is the same as always, but this time I sense a lot of willpower coming from his tone of voice. I guess he is determined to resolve his subconscious thoughts about me once and for all.

—You and she have the same interests, and even spend a lot of time together at the mystery club.

—We get along well, but that’s all. Tachibana-san is someone beautiful, I admit, but her attitude is too cold for me.

—I see. So, who do you like?

—Well…

—I don’t want you to lie to me. 

—It’s complicated…

—It’s not that Hamanami girl, right?

—…No, it’s not her.

I couldn’t keep lying to the senpai, let alone dragging Hamanami into the mud.

—Then is it Hayasaka-san?

—Maybe…

—I saw you with her at the station the other day. Are you dating?

Assuming so would be quite normal given the way things happened. But if I tell him yes, he’ll feel more at ease, and he’ll stop suspecting that Tachibana-san and I secretly have something going on. But if I tell him that I’m dating Hayasaka-san, then her plans of wanting to be with him will also come to an end. 

It’s true that I don’t want to give Hayasaka-san to anyone. I want to have her all to myself. But that would be too selfish of me, moreso considering the consequences if that were to happen.

—We’re not dating. We’re just good friends, and I even get a lot of love advice from her.

Surely senpai still had a hunch that my answer was a lie. But I have to do something so that I can come out of this looking good.

—What do you think of Hayasaka-san?

At my question, senpai stared at me for a moment, completely silent.

—I’m not stupid.

At that answer, I thought the next thing he would say is that he knows all about me and Hayasaka-san. But it wasn’t like that… Instead, he felt embarrassed, and scratched his head.

—…I know Hayasaka-chan likes me. I noticed it every time we played soccer. Every time she approached me and gave me a towel, she would turn red and get nervous. The same thing happened every time we did push-ups together… I often keep getting confessions of love from many girls, so I know when someone likes me.

—So, you know the truth, huh?

—Yes. But I don’t mind. I’ve tried my best to look like I don’t notice it. In fact, I thought you liked Hayasaka-chan.

—I see… Still, you haven’t told me what you think of her.

—I think she’s cute. She has a great personality, she’s not like the rest of the girls.

—And would you like to go out with her?

—I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Everyone thinks I’m a carefree guy. But there’s more on my mind than just striving to be handsome and getting good grades.

—Yeah, you’re even having thoughts about dating other girls while you have a fiancée.

—You’re right. I really like Hikari, and I think about her every night. But she doesn’t like me. She’s only my fiancée because our parents decided so. Sometimes I think I’d be happier if I went out with Hayasaka-san.

What he’s saying is quite logical, to give up a forced love in search of true love. It’s what any sane person would do. No idiot would stay in a place where he’s not wanted, and I think Yanagi-senpai is already clear on what he should do.

—I don’t know, this whole thing makes me feel weird. Maybe being busy studying for exams has made my head all messed up… Forget everything I said today, it was stupid to suspect that you and Hikari-chan had something.

He looked quite embarrassed and very regretful. Yanagi-senpai is definitely a good person. He shouldn’t keep tarnishing his image like this.

—I really think you’re a good influence on Hikari-chan, Kirishima. She looks more cheerful when she’s with you. So please be a good friend to her. I don’t want her friendships with others to be interrupted just because she is my fiancée. I’ve even noticed that she’s more active in school events.

—Regarding that, are you okay with it, senpai? That Tachibana-san runs the risk of participating in the couple contest with another man?

—She’s doing that as part of a game. I don’t mind at all… Although, if you had been the one to participate with her, things would be different… No, I’m sorry, I’m thinking weird things again.

—Don’t worry about it. Tachibana-san and I are just friends. Besides, I’m here with you. It’s not like I can be in two places at the same time.

—You’re right. Well, I’d better go, I don’t want to mess things up.

Yanagi-senpai came up to me and patted me on the head.

—Kirishima, I trust you. 

I must admit that I felt happy at that moment. Senpai always knows how to make me feel happy.

After that, I was alone on the roof. I can’t continue lying like this. The damage I could continue to do to him would be much greater if, at any given moment, it all came out. Either through our own carelessness, or out of simple revenge.

As these thoughts invaded my mind. I looked up and saw a large teddy bear watching me from the stairs. It was all very surreal. 

When we make eye contact, the teddy bear fidgets and then lifts a whiteboard with much embarrassment. The words “Let’s go to the festival together” were written on it.

****************************

I walked around the festival together with Hayasaka-san, who still had her costume on. As the last day of the festival came to an end, there wasn’t much to see, except for the after-festival stage.

Although it was no longer just for the sake of seeing interesting things, but to enjoy our time together as we walked slowly inside the school building.

—….Hayasaka-san, don’t you think it’s time to take off your costume?

—[I’m fine like this] 

I guess I’ll just have to get used to her answering me by writing on the whiteboard.

—[I’m embarrassed to look at Kirishima-kun face to face…]

Apparently, her embarrassment is still present.

If I had done what she wanted back then, she wouldn’t be wearing that costume right now, and we’d be walking down the hall holding hands. 

—[Besides, this way people won’t be talking about our relationship behind our backs].

—I think it’s pretty obvious who you are, Hayasaka-san.

—[That’s not a problem. The costume is rotated over a period of time with the rest of the people in the class].

I guess that’s a pretty shrewd way of thinking. And we run less risk of Tachibana-san or Yanagi-senpai seeing us together. But I must not let my guard down, Tachibana-san has a keen intuition. She will definitely notice. 

Although this is the least I can do, since I made Hayasaka-san very miserable the other day… But on the other hand, I should also be considerate of Tachibana-san’s feelings, since she asked to make memories with me at the festival. 

This is all so difficult.

—[Let’s drink together]

Hayasaka-san stops in front of a classroom where they run a tapioca milk tea store.

—[I’m sorry. I bought it, but I can’t drink it because I’m wearing this bear head. You’ll have to drink it instead].

Hayasaka-san handed me both drinks, one in each hand, so I had no choice but to alternate between sipping on each drink.

—I’m sorry for the other day. You’re a very attractive girl, Hayasaka-san. But I didn’t have the nerve to do it…

—[It’s okay, I think I was too hasty to want to do that too. We should slow down on that kind of thing. We’re still students, we’ll have enough time to do it. I also want you to forgive me for making you say that you like me more than Tachibana-san].

—Don’t worry.

—[I behaved in a very childish way. I’ve reflected on it, and it was also something silly to say that my body is much better than Tachibana-san’s. It was a lie. We were both at a medical checkup at school, and she probably has bigger breasts than me].

—Really?

—[Kirishima-kun, your nose is bleeding.]

—It’s your imagination.

—[I’m not upset, she’s a very attractive girl. You’re free to admit it. Go on, say her breasts are big and wonderful].

—Don’t make me say something like this.

—[Just do it.]

I had no choice but to say it because Hayasaka-san kicked me in the shin.

—Tachibana-san’s breasts are big and wonderful.

—[Bigger and better than mine].

—Bigger and better than Hayasaka-san’s.

Hayasaka-san stops abruptly and starts moving strangely. I can hear a strange noise inside her head. She might be crying.

—Hayasaka-san, I don’t think it’s good for you to make me say these things.

—[Let’s go get a compatibility reading!]

Suddenly, Hayasaka-san points to a classroom a little further away. It was the first-year class, and they had a divination station. 

Strangely, she had quite an energetic attitude. Honestly, I’m very worried about her emotional state.

She entered the classroom in a zigzag fashion, and inside the place was a special section for tarot cards and all that sort of thing. Since Hayasaka-san was very interested in a future reading, she turned her attention to the girl who did traditional palmistry and physiognomy.

—Please read our compatibility.

The student in charge looked at the bear costume and smiled very wryly. She realized that this customer would be somewhat problematic and would not be satisfied with any answer.

—You have big and fluffy hands.

Said the girl as she touched the bear suit’s hands.

—[Are we compatible?]

—It seems so.

The tension on the girl’s face was evident, she could do nothing against the pressure exerted from Hayasaka-san.

—[Yes!]

Hayasaka-san balls her fists and prances.

—I’m just saying what I see, but my words might not be accurate since I couldn’t see your palm or your physiognomy.

After that we left the school building, headed to the field and did target shooting, an activity organized by the soccer club.

Hayasaka-san kicked the ball very straight beyond the center panel. It was somewhat surprising, since she’s usually quite clumsy, and she’s not the type of person who can kick a ball while in costume.

But I guess the training with Yanagi-senpai was paying off, as he must have taught her to kick the ball like a pro would. Honestly, it makes me a little jealous.

More and more I feel the desire to monopolize her heart. I want her to be a part of me body and soul.

Just like in movies and dramas, even though they show the cute side of the characters and the funny scenes they go through, there are hidden romantic feelings that are not shown to the public, and those are the selfish and dirty emotions we feel for the person we love. 

With this in mind, I was left holding Hayasaka-san’s hand after high-fiving her. She looked a little surprised for a moment, but then quickly withdrew her hand before she bumped into me and knocked me to the ground.

From inside the costume, I could hear strange sounds. I wondered if she was feeling bad about this little accident.

—[Sorry!]

—It’s okay, don’t worry about it.

She held out her hand and helped me up.

Suddenly, a deafening noise invaded all around us. We looked toward the source of the commotion, and I saw that it was coming from the back of the grounds. Many people began to gather in a specific place. And that was the main stage, the final stage of the festival had begun.

A couple of students took the stage to compete in the most awaited contest of all. It is always a sensation to see a man and a woman make their feelings for each other publicly known. 

Mixed in between all the couples that were there, Yoshimi-kun could also be seen next to a girl disguised as a ghost. And indeed, it was Tachibana-san.

—I had forgotten about them, what should I do now?

—[Let’s stop them]

—Hmm?

—[Let’s participate in the contest, and thus prevent them from winning.]

In the unlikely event that Yoshimi-kun and Tachibana-san won the contest, it would be a complete disaster. Not to mention the fact that if the two kissed on stage, Hamanami would burst into tears.

—But, do you really think that would be okay?

—[Yes, don’t worry. After all, I’m a girl in disguise. Besides, I’m sure you wouldn’t like to see Tachibana-san win with another man, right?].

That’s right. I don’t care how ridiculous it might be, I’ll die if Tachibana-san kisses Yoshimi-kun.

—And do you really think they’ll let us participate? I think it’s already a bit late.

—[It’s okay, I registered beforehand because I knew we were going to do it].

—You’re very perceptive.

I could imagine Hayasaka-san’s face smiling inside that costume… Well, since she did all this behind my back, I have no choice but to do it.

I headed to the stage with Hayasaka-san, and on the way, I saw Yanagi-senpai with a friend. It’s normal for him to be curious to see what will happen here. I’m sure he is already aware of the person inside the bear costume.

But even at this point it’s better than for him to see me competing with Tachibana-san. The last thing I want right now is to hurt someone. 

According to my perfect plan, I plan to marry Hayasaka-san once my relationship with Tachibana-san comes to an end after graduation. All this under a hidden veil where no one will find out what I do with both of them behind their backs. 

It’s a very selfish plan on my part. But I guess that’s just my nature.

I’m fine with being the second girlfriend

I’m fine with being the second girlfriend

わたし、二番目の彼女でいいか
Score 8
Status: Ongoing Author: Artist: Released: 2021 Native Language: Japanese

Kirishima and Hayasaka are two classmates who have a secret relationship in public.

In their school life they pretend that they don't know each other, but behind the scenes there is much more to them than people can imagine. The two get into a relationship that is difficult to break and ends up being impure, unhealthy, and complicated, as the relationship between them was nothing more than an affair that simply created a love triangle before Kirishima's first love and his second love.

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