Four days have passed since I started to understand the numbers on the head (or more accurately, something like likability) and the inner voice.

The first day was somewhat eventful, and Saki was slightly disconcerting, but so far no particular problems have arisen. It is probably due to the fact that there has been no particular progress between me and Misaka san, and also because I have increased my skinship with Saki, such as patting her head, as a way of venting, while making all of her forget-me-nots strategy fail.

As for the plan to make Misaka san and Takuma break up, it is slowly and deliberately underway. In the end, the only way out is for Misaka san to break up with Takuma, and toward that point, she is gradually hardening her attitude toward Takuma. She smiles a little less than usual and declines his invitation for a little after-school date.

Takuma feels a little uncomfortable with Misaka san’s attitude, but thinks that she is temporarily not feeling well. To be honest, it is very distressing to see.

I tried to find out from Takuma how their relationship was going and gave him some light advice to help them [get back together].

However, Takuma has a tendency to rush into things when he thinks he knows something, and since he thinks I don’t know much about Misaka san, he didn’t really listen to my words.

For example, the other day, when I heard that Takuma and Misaka san had watched a romance movie, I said to him, [I think Misaka san likes comedies more than romances.] However, Takuma would not budge, saying, [Kana has always preferred romances, and since she is a girl, she should have more fun with romances than comedies.]

However, Misaka san herself said, [Romance is not bad, but to be honest, it’s a little boring. But Takuma has been enthusiastically recommending them to me ever since we started dating, and when we first went to the movies, I pretended to enjoy them …… Then he thought I liked that kind of thing……. I was worried that I had made a mistake…….].

As Saki said, Misaka san should convey her feelings directly to Takuma. However, they have become entrenched in a relationship that makes them hesitate to do so, and unable to do so.

Should I take the time to talk with Takuma and clear up the misunderstanding?

Should I encourage Misaka san to rebuild a relationship in which they can express their true feelings?

Should I proceed with the breakup in accordance with Misaka san’s wishes?

It is difficult for me to decide which is the right answer, and for the time being, I’m proceeding in accordance with Misaka san’s wishes.

And I’m gradually getting used to my special ability that has suddenly developed.

It is hard in some aspects to be confronted with the reality of being able to see their likeability towards me. I feel bad that I can hear their inner voices, as if I’m peeping into their secrets.

However, I gave up a lot of things that I had to do if I could already know. Thanks to this, I’m able to be attentive to details, and I don’t think there are many noticeable disadvantages.

In particular, as for hearing the inner voices, the fact that I can only hear the voices of people who are highly sensitive to me is a pretty good thing.

If I could hear the voices of people who didn’t think well of me, it would have been painful, as if I was constantly being bombarded with malice itself. Now I only get positive feelings, so I feel pretty good. In a way, it’s hard not to get carried away because it’s so good.

Well, today is Friday and tomorrow is my day off. I was anxiously waiting for school to end soon, and when lunchtime arrived, I decided to have lunch with Takuma and Misaka san.

There, Misaka san, whose number above her head is changing from “75” to “77,” talks to me.

“Fujisaki kun, I have a small favor to ask you.”

“Hm? What?”

I pretend to know nothing about it, but the truth is, I know what it is. I’ve been listening to her since this morning thinking about what she wanted to talk to me about during lunch break. And it seems that she and Takuma had already talked about it beforehand, so he doesn’t really interfere.

“There’s a school festival in June, right? Our archery club is going to have a pancake store booth, and I was wondering if you could help us with the posters. Size A4.”

“If you’re asking me to do that, does that mean you want me to draw the illustrations?”

“Yes. That’s right. I’m planning to make several different types to post on bulletin boards at school on the day. I was wondering if you could do one of them for me.”

“Poster, huh……”

“It should be a simple one, how about that?”

A common misconception among non-illustrators is that it doesn’t take much time to draw a single illustration. In reality, however, it takes a lot of effort just to draw a single illustration. Even if it is easy, it takes about four hours to draw something that can be shown to others.

If it were really just a doodle, it would be quick, but I can see that if I actually showed such a thing, I would receive a very disappointed look.

“…….By the way, is there a reward?”

I tried asking. I don’t think it’s okay for an amateur like me to ask for compensation, but I also don’t feel comfortable drawing illustrations for free just because a girl asked me to.

The relationship between Misaka san and Takuma is also a little shaky, but if I put on a nice face too much at the beginning, I’ll be in trouble later on. Honestly, it’s annoying when people think, [I’ll always be happy to do this] and they keep asking me various things one after another. Even though I’m not an avid illustrator, there are things I want to draw myself. The more requests I get, the less time I have.

……Well, if it’s just a spur-of-the-moment request for a cultural festival, I might feel free to accept it.

As expected, Misaka san and Takuma were stunned. [Eh, you’re asking for compensation even though we’re friends?] I thought.

“Hey, hey, hey, it’s a friend’s request, so why don’t you just be generous and draw a poster for the school festival?”

Takuma was aghast. However, Misaka san seemed to quickly change her mind and continued, apologetically.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t really think about the compensation. Well, I didn’t mean to ask you for free, I was just thinking of giving you a voucher for the pancakes at the shop…”

The pancakes to be served at the bake sale will probably cost around 300 yen each. If it takes four hours, the hourly wage is 75 yen……. I’m an amateur, but it’s a ridiculously low fee.

“……I guess it’s strange that a friend is asking for compensation. I’m sorry. I’ll take care of the poster.”

“Oh, thanks. I should not be the one to say that. But I guess I can rely on you. Last year’s festival went smoothly thanks to you.”

“It’s just that Takuma did 90% of the work and I filled in the remaining 10%.”

Last year, Takuma and I were in the same class from the beginning of the school year, and Takuma was a member of the festival committee. He showed leadership and was very helpful to the class, but there were some areas that were not well planned, so I helped him out a little bit. Then Takuma and I became close friends.

“If it weren’t for Touya, we might not have been able to open the bake sale properly on the day of the festival.”

“……Well, just leave it at that.”.

In fact, someone else would have done it without me, but I won’t say that now.

Unlike the cheerful Takuma, Misaka san says apologetically.

“Thank you, Fujisaki kun. I’ll think about the reward a little more carefully. I shouldn’t be lenient just because we’re friends.”

[I guess drawing illustration is harder than I imagine. I probably shouldn’t have asked him casually. But it’s nice to be able to ask about the compensation. If it had been me, I would not have been able to say what I thought even if I had something on my mind. ……I have to be careful about this kind of thing. I know that if he puts on a good face at the beginning, it will be hard on him later on…….]

Misaka san is flexible even in times like these. If I had a likability rating on display, the number might have gone up by about three points.

“By the way, what kind of poster should I draw?”

“The themes are ‘archery club,’ ‘pancakes,’ and ‘maids. Anything is fine as long as it doesn’t deviate too much from those themes.”

“……Hmm? Did you just say ‘maid’? Adolescent auditory hallucinations?”

I had heard about the posters, but I didn’t know there was a maid involved.

“Ahaha. It’s not that. Though I said maids. The sales girls in the archery club are maids. Well, it’s not so much a full-fledged maid café as it is just the vendor wearing a maid’s uniform.”

“……Ah, is that so. Hee.”

“Fujisaki kun, you seem to be good at drawing maids, so I thought it would be okay.”

“Eh, where did that perception come from? Have I ever shown you that I draw maids?”

“No, but you’re drawing them anyway, aren’t you?”

“……You’re prejudiced. Not all high school boys are happy to draw maids.”

“But Fujisaki kun, you do draw them, and you’re one of the guys who enjoys it, aren’t you?”

“…..I don’t draw them often. In fact, I rarely draw them.”

“That means you’re drawing them. Why don’t you just admit it?”

“……High school boys have a complicated pride.”

“Well, I’ll leave it at that.”

Misaka san smiles wickedly. Damn, girls who have been in a relationship will easily try to dominate a virgin boy…

[Why are boys embarrassed by stories like this? I’m not prejudiced against boys who like maids, and I wish they could be honest with it. But it’s cute how he tries to cover it up in such a low-key way.]

The number above Kamisaka’s head changes from “77” to “78. Don’t raise the number at a place like this.

With some dissatisfaction, I decided to make the poster anyway.

Anyway, Misaka san’s mind is relatively at peace. It’s good to be reassured. ……Is it?

Also, it seems that Saki is not planning to do anything directly to Misaka san at this point, but I know that she is looking for a way to separate me and Misaka san in case of an emergency. I also have to do my best to protect Misaka san somehow……. It’s a bit of a pain, but it’s also a duty as an older brother……

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6 months ago

This novel is strangely well-written considering how the concept is “I can see likeability ratings above people’s heads and read their minds and turns out three hot chicks are after me and also they’re all kinda nuts”. Having read quite a few web novels in similar genres, I’d expect a novel like this to have more amateurish prose, but both the dialogue and character personalities are quite subtle.