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Nanase is standing at the entrance of the back alley with her eyes fixed on the back of the building. Apparently, she really has been following me. And from the moment I left the school.

(At any rate, I’m glad I didn’t go straight home.)

If it hadn’t been for my step sister’s order, I would have gone straight home. If I hadn’t noticed Nanase following me, she might have been able to locate my house. Well, there was no way I wouldn’t notice that she was tailing me like that.

“Yup, I’m a little nervous.”

For some reason, Nanase started walking down the alley without turning back. I’m holding my breath so I won’t be noticed, but I quietly move my body deeper into the shadows.

As I move my body, my thoughts start to wander.

(Why is Nanase following me?)

The connection between Nanase and me is not that strong. If I had to say so, it would be that I helped her when she was being harassed, but I received a proper thank-you for that. When we bumped into each other at a department store the other day, my step sister gave her a drink, but that was an incident for which I thanked her. In other words, there was no reason for Nanase to follow me around.

(This is just like Kisaragi and Yukihana some time ago.)

That time, Kisaragi was annoyingly following Yukihana around and was on the verge of getting her hands on her. In the end,my step sister rounded her up nicely, but there is no doubt that she was on the verge of crime.

And the next time, somehow I was followed around. I wondered if it was retribution for the gods’ decree. I don’t want to think that Nanase will be violent with me.

While I was thinking about this, I heard footsteps moving away from me. It seemed that Nanase had gone further into the back alley. To be on the safe side, I decided to hide myself in the shadows until Nanase returned.

“……”

It had been a long time since I’d spent time doing nothing. Since I was so busy, I decided to do some self-analysis on myself.

(……)

Thinking about it, [I] have been strange lately. I guess it all started the day I moved up to the second grade and joined a new class, or to be more precise, the moment I saw Shinkai joining the student council.

Since that day, I have been making more and more strange choices.

Did I really need to make a contract with Yukihana?

Couldn’t I have hunted Kisaragi down more on that very spot?

Was it really necessary to take the risk of exposing myself in front of Shinkai?

Most recently, I had to pull off an unnecessary trick in the soccer game just now. There was no need for me to do that, but I found myself moving on my own. No, my brain reflexively performs inefficiently and attractively. That is just like a high school student returning from another world.

Maybe I’m unconsciously putting a save on my body. I should be able to take more efficient and reliable measures, but I’m not able to perform to my maximum potential. It’s as if I’m being pulled by something exemplary…..

[Of course you are. Because you’re not ‘me’.]

“…… !?”

I suddenly felt like someone was talking to me and immediately looked behind me. However, there is only the old door of the tavern there, and there’s no sign of insects, let alone people. While returning my jumping heart rate to normal, I took a deep breath quietly to calm my rough breathing.

(Ah…..I’ve given up thinking about)

It’s not that I don’t have an idea of what I’m thinking about, but I quickly switch my attention to the fact that it’s useless to think about it. As I strain my ears, I hear footsteps approaching me again. These footsteps are definitely Nanase. It seems that she hit the end of the hall and turned back.

“It’s strange, he should have definitely come here. Could it be… Eh, spirited away !?”

Or was it a mirage? Nanase started blurting out such things. At any rate, she’s scared, so it won’t take her too long to walk away from here. If I’m ambushed….let’s think about it at that time.

“Hmm, I wanted to make sure of something, but…..well, never mind. I’ll ask him directly tomorrow when I see him.”

Saying that, Nanase slowly walked forward. The way she walked, she seemed to be tired of something.

(What do you want to ask me?)

In that case, I don’t need to follow you……no, I ended up talking about things like getting noticed this morning and how about the weekly magazine. Could it be that she was waiting for the right time to talk with me without being seen by anyone? If so, it was an unusual obsession.

(Well, if she’s going home, that’s that…..)

And that’s when I felt relieved.

Squeak, slam !

I heard the rusty door slowly open. And then…..

“I was able to get the item in good condition.”

“Yeah, It was worth the trouble I went through with a vendor I know. It came straight from overseas.”

“You guys, make sure you protect the product. Without it, we have no face to show to the young lady……”

Out of the door came men with tattoos around their necks and stitches on their faces, men who looked like they were in some kind of bad shape. They are holding a heavy-looking aluminum case with great care, and the man beside them has a wooden sword in his hand. They are clearly…..

(Yakuza?).

At the moment I thought so, my eyes met those men. Two of them were looking at me and one was looking in the direction where Nanase would be. Then, the man standing in the center holding the case yelled at us.

“What the hell are you guys doing here !  This ain’t no kid’s playground !”

I instantly assessed the situation and sat up a little. I had been crouched down for so long that my back hurt. But the guy standing next to the guy holding the case walked toward me, irritated, as if he didn’t take that into consideration.

“I’m sorry, but now that you’ve seen what happened, I’m not going to let you go. You’re going to pay for this, kid.”

I thought he was going to swing down the wooden sword in his hand, but he threw a strong kick toward me. But I guess he was holding back and I was able to avoid it.

I roll on the ground to avoid the man’s kick. Then I instantly took a back step and took a few steps backward.

“Eh, wait, Senpai !? Where in the world did you get…..”

“……”

I hear Nanase’s surprised voice coming from diagonally behind me. It’s only natural because the person she thought wasn’t there suddenly appeared. In the end, I was found by Nanase because of them.

(Seriously, today is a bad day)

Maybe God really is being mean to me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have encountered such an event.

Then, the man holding the case whispered something to the two men. Perhaps that man is like a boss to the two men.

“Hey, that guy is no ordinary man.”

“Yeah. Even though he was holding back, it’s the first time I’ve been dodged by such a smooth move.”

“But it doesn’t matter. Just frighten them into shutting their mouths. Or else we’ll be yelled at by the young lady.”

The three yakuza men were gnawing at us with devilish expressions on their faces. I’m wondering what to do, and Nanase still hasn’t fully grasped the situation.

“U-um….”

When I looked back, Nanase was completely bewildered. Her hands are shaking and she doesn’t seem to know what to do.

“….Sigh.”

I sigh heavily. I haven’t been so lucky since middle school. When I think about it, for some reason my chest feels painful.

Forgetting all about the shopping, I stepped into my disaster for the first time in several years.

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ICZephyr
ICZephyr
10 months ago

Well….I didn’t see that coming.
I thought he’s gonna get into trouble for something he did, not by a random coincidence like this. Although, going into a secluded back alley kinda triggers a flag for a yakuza/bad guy encounter.