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The next day, you waited just outside the school gates for Hiro to come out.

You had been careful to ensure your friends wouldn't find out about this meeting. Minoru was at her Student Council meeting. Hinata was in the library, waiting for you to return from the bathroom so you two could continue reading. And Kimiko and Oshiro were in detention. They were all still in school and couldn't see you from any of the windows. You were in the clear.

As if on cue, the man of the hour rounded the school gates and spotted you.

"Aina!" He called out, laughing and running over. "What are you doing here? Minoru told me she usually drove you home."

"Not today," you replied with an absentminded wave of your hand. Then you pushed yourself off the wall and walked up to him. "I thought you and I could walk home together."

"I'd love to," he said so sincerely it gave you pause, made you blush.

"I wanted to talk to you about something," you said as the two of you started on your way home. You didn't bother asking where he lived, didn't care to know, just assumed it was somewhere past your house.

"I'm just happy we're talking! I was under the impression you didn't like me." He seemed really nice. He was like a puppy dog you couldn't quite shake. You didn't want to break his heart, but you wanted yours to continue beating.

"I don't. I want you to stop pursuing me." It was best to be direct, leave no room for misinterpretation.

Hiro made a face like you just said something completely illogical before asking, "Why?"

"You're not my type."

He just laughed. "I'm everyone's type!"

"I'm a lesbian."

"You're what? Eighteen? How do you know for sure? I didn't know I was pan until I tried dating another boy. Maybe you just haven't met the right guy yet! I could be The One." That was way too much information to drop on someone who was barely an acquaintance.

"Why won't you just take no for an answer?" You growled, incensed. You stopped in your tracks and gave him a hard shove.

He just smiled at you, rubbed his sore arm, and shrugged. "I feel a real connection to you. Call it fate, call it destiny, but it's like we're meant to be."

Your eyes went wide and a shiver ran down your spine. That... Was not what you expected to hear. That's not what you wanted to hear. Did he know? That he was the player character? That you were the tutorial girl and he couldn't progress without going through you?

"Is this just a game to you?"

"Yeah, kinda."

"So you're a player." You're the player.

Hiro scratched the back of his head before tilting it at you. "I mean, I guess. I'm willing to play the field, jump through any hoops you need me to, but I'm looking for the love of my life."

You couldn't tell from his response if he knew just who he was. And you couldn't ask him directly if he knew he was the player without either sounding crazy or breaking the fourth wall. What if he didn't know he was the player? Worse, what if he knew but didn't know this game wasn't your standard otome game?

Who would want to date a yandere?

You didn't say any of this aloud, though. The beginnings of a plan were already forming in your head.

"You know high school relationships are usually pretty short-lived, right?" Your tone was dripping with contempt.

"Call me a hopeless romantic."

I'll call you something alright, you thought with a scowl. You ran a hand down your face and took a few deep breaths to calm yourself.

"I'll be honest with you. I can't date you because my friends like you."

"I thought you just said you were going to be honest. I haven't met any of your friends other than Minoru, and Minoru hates me."

"Minoru doesn't hate you."

"She does too! She's so cold to me."

"She's cold to everyone."

"Except you."

"I'm her baby," you snapped. Then, realizing how that sounded, you blushed and corrected yourself, "I'm the baby of the group. I just joined. If she were cold to me, it would come across wrong."

"Uh huh," he said, crossing his arms with a doubtful look. "I'll tell you what... Let's compromise. Go on one date with me and, if you don't feel a spark, I'll leave you alone."

One date with Hiro was exactly what triggered your death in the past!

"Let's compromise further. Let me set you up with each of my friends. If no one else in my clique will date you, you'll get your one date." That would never happen, though. They'd all fall into obsession with him and live unhappily ever after. Hopefully the in-fighting wouldn't affect you too much.

"So this is a Scott Pilgrim vs. the World situation? I have to defeat the evil exes before I can get the girl?" He sighed, sounding just as exasperated as you were. "Is that really necessary?"

"I'll never agree to date you unless you give each of them a shot." This wasn't a compromise so much as an ultimatum.

He gave you a long look, trying to decipher whether or not you were really serious. You were dead serious.

"Okay, I guess? Where do we start?"

"Where I started. With Minoru. Now, which arm is your dominant one?"

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