Giving Up Or Giving In

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"Why me?" Your voice was quivering with emotion, just not the kind Hiro wanted.

"What?"

"Why do you want to date me so bad? My friends are all prettier, smarter, funnier, and stronger, better than me in every way. Why me?"

He laughed like you were a fool for even asking such a question. "I think we have a real connection! You can't beat chemistry. And you're wonderful just the way you are."

"... A real connection..." Those were the same words he said to you when you first tried to shrug off his romantic interest onto another girl.

You had been doomed to fail from the start. He was always going to feel a pull toward you, being the tutorial girl. And none of the romance would progress until there was something, someone, to be jealous of.

"Okay, I'll go out with you," you murmured. Your voice sounded distant, muffled to your own ears, as if you were speaking underwater. You could barely hear past the ringing in your ears. You reached out to take the flower.

"Really?!"

"Really."

Hiro lurched forward to kiss you. You turned your head just in time for his lips to land on your cheek rather than your mouth. He didn't seem offended. He just pressed his lips into the flesh of your cheek, pressing it hard into your gritted molars. Then he pulled away to a bearable distance again.

You nestled your nose into the petals of the pink rose he had given you. All the thorns had been whittled away, so it didn't hurt when you gripped the stem so hard your knuckles turned white. It smelled lovely.

Someone once told you pink roses represented innocent romantic love and a pureness of emotions. A good choice for teen romance or the early phases of a romantic relationship.

He really was a beautiful boy. Too bad he would get you killed.

Don't think like that, you urged yourself, not yet ready to lose all hope. I have a chance. I befriended all my rivals. Maybe they'll be happy for me.

You looked behind you, where your friend group was standing. They did not look happy for you. No, they did not look happy at all.

Hinata looked devastated, absolutely heartbroken, and had already started crying. Kimiko was snarling, practically boiling with rage, clenching her fists at her side like she wanted to throw a punch. Oshiro was pouting, crossing her arms and looking petulantly away. Minoru was stone-faced, more like a marble statue than she had ever been before.

You wanted to shout. I tried to set you up with him! I did everything in my power to make things work. You weren't interested until it was me he set his sights on.

Do you even love him? Or do you just love harming those who love him? If you have him, will you be happy? Despite everything, you wanted your friends to be happy.

"How about right now?" Hiro asked enthusiastically. You missed what he had said before that. You were too busy staring death in the face.

"What?"

He didn't take offense at your lack of attention, just laughed again. He was practically vibrating with excitement. "Our first date! How about right now? We can sit down at the cafe on your way home and just talk."

"That sounds lovely." As far as first and last dates sound, you couldn't argue with his choice. Whatever drink you ordered better be to die for, however. Might as well order a pastry too if it would be your last meal.

...

Hiro took care of everything... Finding a table, paying for your food and drinks, carrying the conversation. You played your part... Replying to any questions, laughing at the right times.

Your heart wasn't in it, though. Still, his eyes twinkled and shined like stars whenever you so much as smiled in his general direction. You could practically hear the game sound effects in your head. Intimacy up! Successful date!

"Promise me something," you pleaded afterwards. He walked home with you, escorting you to the door like a gentleman. You were thankful for that. You felt safe so long as he was with you. The capture targets didn't murder Aina in front of the player character in the game, after all.

"What is it?"

"Promise me you won't go to school tomorrow."

Tomorrow would be the deciding factor. Tomorrow morning you would either wake up alive and whole in your bed or be dead and chopped up into pieces spread around the school. If it was the latter, you didn't want Hiro seeing you like that. It would traumatize him for life and leave him more vulnerable to the yanderes.

"Why do you want me to skip school?" He asked incredulously.

"Hiro, please..."

"Tell me why first."

You huffed at him, searching the shadows surrounding your house for girls wielding bone saws. "I have this creeping feeling that something terrible is going to happen at school tomorrow."

"Bad things happen every day."

"Do this one thing for me, Hiro. I won't ask you again. I just..." You sighed, ran your fingers through your hair. "I want you to be safe and happy."

Hiro gave you a doubtful look. But he could obviously tell this meant a lot to you, so he exhaled through his nose and said, "I promise."

Then he leaned in to kiss you goodnight. You didn't turn your head away this time, letting it land on your lips, but didn't kiss back either.

It could be the kiss of death. You'd find out tomorrow morning.

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