“As one would expect, there are very few people over here.”

I wondered how long it had been since I had been to the back of Akaitohama Station, where I usually have no business.
According to my parents, this side used to be like a downtown area, with more bars and a few sex stores than now.
However, after the area became a tourist spot, those places disappeared because they were busted or something.
Nowadays, the only people who visit the area are students who have business at the old complex and the recently opened Internet café.

Even on holidays, the place is deserted.

“The rise and fall is exactly what it means. Besides, this side of the city was never safe to begin with.”

My middle school is in a different district than where I live, so I don’t know many people there, but I’ve heard a lot of people from the school over here are delinquents.
I’m not saying that’s why, but since I’m a weak, average guy with few friends, I try to avoid coming here as much as possible.

“Well, I’m sure there won’t be any extortion in high school.”

The area from in front of the station to the seaside has been filled with many tourists since this morning.
So I decided to go out and naturally headed to the back of the station.
There’s also the one I recommended to Kaneko.

I knew that Kaneko would probably go on a date around noon, and if I wandered around and found the place too unsuitable for a date, I’ll have to let him know.

“…But it’s a really boring place to be alone.”

The place used to be a nightlife district, and all the doors are closed during the day.
I don’t go to karaoke or bowling when I’m alone, of course, and I don’t go all the way to an Internet cafe because I can relax at home by myself.
In the end, I just hung around.

After circling the area I went into a nearby complex to use the restroom.

“Tokiwa kun, taking a walk in the morning. Healthy and nice, I like it.”

But where was he headed so early in the morning? 
Ah, perhaps to inspect the site to come up with a date plan with me?
Yeah, I see.
Tokiwa kun is so thoughtful in this way, isn’t he?
I like that kind of consideration.
I originally wanted to go out with you today, so why don’t we just go along?

“It’s a little dark and scary behind the station.”

I followed him out of the house and arrived at the back of Akaitohama station.
I had tried to stay away from this place because I knew it wasn’t a safe place to live.
How did he end up in such a place?

“Ah……I see. You are so naughty, Tokiwa kun.”

There are several old love hotels around here.
Tokiwa kun, you came to check out which one looks the best to escort me.
Ehehe, I wouldn’t mind going anywhere.
Or even your house for that matter.
But I’d like to have our first time together alone in a quiet place.
I wonder if Tokiwa kun is surprisingly romantic.

Yeah, I like him.

“Ah, we’re in a building. Is that the restroom?”

I was a little chilled from the morning breeze, too.
It was just as well.
Can you go to the bathroom and wait for me until I come out?
No, boys are faster.
Then I’ll have to wait for you.

“Ehehe, I’ll ambush you.”

“Erm, restroom…..ah, there it is.”

The complex I entered had a karaoke box on the first floor, a bowling alley on the second floor, and a used bookstore on the third floor, making it the perfect place for students to hang out.

Of course, there was no way I was going to play alone in a place like this, so I went into the restroom just before the reception desk.

As I was doing my business in one corner of the spacious restroom, a few local high school students who were probably playing inside came in.

“Hey, did you see that girl standing there just now? She was really pretty.”
“Yeah, she’s not one of our students, but she’s probably around the same age? Do you want to pick her up?”
“Right. If she’s alone, she might be waiting to be asked out.”

I could hear them talking like that from next door.
Apparently, there was a beautiful woman outside the restroom.
But for me, no matter how many beautiful women were there, it was never an easy idea to ask them out. 
I was thinking that it would be more fun to live a life like these guys, while looking at the slightly bad-looking people on the other side.
I washed my hands and went outside.

And then,

“Hey, do you want to go bowling with us afterwards?”
“No, thanks.”
“It’s fine, I’ll pay you.”
“No thanks.”

One girl was being picked up by a couple of guys.
I was a little taken aback by the fact that all these guys were like this, but I decided not to get involved because they looked worse than the guys I had just met in the restroom.

As I was about to look away, I caught sight of a girl being picked on.

“Hyori senpai?”

There she was, Senpai, who was responding calmly with her arms crossed, with a blank expression on her face.
I wondered if she would be okay being surrounded by several men.

I stopped.
Then, a tall brown-haired man held the wall behind him with his hand and pressed in close.

“Hey, just come with me. Even I, a gentle man, will get a little angry if you talk so coldly to me, okay?”
“…..I don’t like people who are violent. Let me go.”
“Hey, hey, we’re not being violent. We’re just asking for a little companionship.”

The man said so and brought his face close to Senpai.
Senpai’s face is clearly clouded.
Her eyebrows furrow, and her eyes look as if she’s looking at filth.

“It’s not good…….”

I watched from a distance.
Then, the guys I met earlier in the bathroom come out, see the guy who’s picking up Senpai, and look at each other in panic.

“Shot, it’s Takashiro senpai.”
“Seriously? The guy is really evil, isn’t he? Let’s get the hell out of here before we get tangled up with him.”

And with that, they headed for the exit.

It seemed that he was a well-known evil person around here.
He certainly looked evil and strong.
He has a good build, light-colored hair and bad eyesight.
Even in front of a picture-perfect delinquent, Hyori senpai’s expression doesn’t change, but if things continue like this, she’ll definitely be taken away…

“……I can’t pretend I didn’t see it, right?”

I was scared to my core.
I didn’t choose a school in Akaitohama because I didn’t like my hometown being full of delinquents and mischievous people, so I knew it would be reckless of me to stand up to people who would surround girls in groups.

Still, my body reacted on its own accord, probably because it was Hiori senpai who was entangled.
It wasn’t that I wanted to protect her because I knew her, or that I wanted to help her because she was friendly with my mother.
I wanted to show her my good side.

“Hyori senpai !”

I called out to her, absorbed in the situation.


The delinquent, not Senpai, responded to my voice first.

“Who are you?”
“What, you know this girl? We’re not trying to rough her up or anything.”
“Ah, no, no, no. I’m just, uh.”

I tried to jump out with all my might, but I ended up in the state of a frog being attacked by a snake.

Senpai kept her head down, not even looking at me.
But when I looked closer, I saw that her body was trembling a little.
I knew she was scared.

“Mr, could you be this girl’s boyfriend?”
“Eh? No, I’m.”
“No what? Can you please clarify that? We’re not trying to take anyone’s stuff. But if it’s nothing to do with you, we’ll pick up this girl without hesitation.”
“……I’m, um.”
“What? I can’t hear you.
Which is it?”

He was a little overbearing, but if I were to take what the delinquent in front of me was saying at face value, I should probably tell him that I was her boyfriend.
I still had the composure to know that much right away.

But the words just didn’t follow.
I wasn’t asked to tell such a lie, but I wondered if I could say such a thing to someone else without permission.
I wondered if it would bother her if I thought I was my boyfriend, even if it was for the sake of helping Senpai.
Even at a time like this, I was at a loss for words because I had triggered a strange negativity.

“What’s wrong? Well, if that’s the case, don’t complain if we invite her.”

Saying that, the man turned to Senpai again and this time reached out her hand to hug her shoulder.

At that moment, something different from nervousness or fear made my heart tremble.
And before I could even think about it, I said.

“That’s… girlfriend.”

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