Chapter 98: After lunch

"Now that we've finished all the food. I cooked, so you guys should know what to do, right? Of course, I am not talking about this handsome face right here." Rachel stands and stretches her arms up high. "You don't need to help them, darling. Let them be helpful once in a while. It's the least they can do!" She then squints and puts on a triumphant look.


Upon hearing Blondie's snide remarks, Laura clicks her tongue, and Kuro keeps silent. They know she is right. Actually, not just those two, but we all know Rachel stands on a higher ground than us. Saying anything will only fill that satisfactory meter inside her.

"Nope. I should." Shaking my head, I quickly reach for the boxes and lids closest to me, gathering the chopsticks and spoons. Even when I know they wholeheartedly want me to stay still, it is standard for me to give a hand. What kind of guy would I be pushing chores to everyone else? "There is no way I'm letting you girls do all the work while eating and drinking for free. I'm shameless, but not that shameless."

Then, glancing over at Kurokawa while she tries to pick stuff up with only one hand, I look up at the housewife: "I should do twice or thrice the work. Please, leave it to me!"

At the corner of my visual field is a gentle smile of a girl with bangs covering her eyes. She is still not saying a word, but I somehow understand the meaning behind those beautifully curved lips. The light inside her emerald gems speaks of gratefulness and happiness. Without a doubt, she knows I want to do her part of the chores. There are plenty of ways to tell someone you appreciate their actions. And for someone who acts more than talks, Kurokawa has her own way of expressing feelings.

"Someone's jealous!" Rachel laughs with a high-pitched voice. Although she is not saying a clear name, it is clear who the person Blondie is hinting at with her mischievous words.

"Shut it!" Replies Laura with a scornful tone. "Don't act like you are unaffected."

Hearing that, Rachel points at her cheeks. A cute but playful smile stays on her lips. "Yes, you're correct. There is a big difference between us two you are not mentioning, though. I'm not showing my frustration on my face! Unlike you."

"You lousy little twerp!"

Defuse! DEFUSE! They are going to explode!!

"I apologize, class rep, Blondie. Truly. Still, for Kurokawa to work under her current conditions is a little too harsh." Turning my face over to Laura, I plead. It is evident they also want to have my affection, especially Laura. Still, this is not the right time or place for it. "If it is okay with you two, please let me do Kuro's part. In fact, I will do the rest by myself. You girls have done enough. Please let me handle the dishes. No need to argue over something so mundane."

"Don't worry, C. It's not your fault." With a soothing and reassuring voice, Laura grabs my hand tightly, not forgetting to throw a piercing glare at Blondie. However, contrary to how she treats Rachel, our class rep puts her hostility away as she looks at Kurokawa's hand: "I'll help her too."

"Thank you very much." Kurokawa beams.

The intense atmosphere quickly dissipates, and a familiar warmth immediately wraps my heart. Honestly, I am glad to have an understanding girlfriend like Laura. If I did not know any better, there would be almost no reason to think this world has any yandere or misunderstanding. At all! Rachel has been tame, as well. Rather than brandishing her favorite weapon to get what she wants, Blondie only uses words to make fun of people.

I consider that to be a great win!

In fact, I think Han should have no problem clearing the game if he was in my shoes in this iteration. Unfortunately for that poor protagonist, once the girls choose a target, there is hardly any chance for them to switch. The reason is apparent, too. I do not want to repeat it.

It is just that never in my right mind would I believe such people are by my side like this. Not in a million years.

Anyway, back to work!


Five minutes pass relatively fast, and with the help of nearly everyone and one energetic cheerleader in the background, who occasionally chimed in to create silly banters with Laura, the lunchbox quickly becomes neatly packed with a bow knot on top, similar to before Rachel brought it up this rooftop.n--o-.V-(e(-l.-b/-1/(n

Concurrently after tidying up the place, our school bell rings, signaling the beginning of the afternoon classes. From now to the end of today's final period, we will have a relatively calming time to prepare for the worst. There will not be any special events. Of course, I only talk about those that use our school or classroom as the background. Outside this area, where the bookworm lives, there will be one.

Since studying gets me nowhere, I plan on using all this afternoon talking to the bookworm about her main event while trying to get off whatever lives inside her chest. While a psychology degree is far from achievable for someone like me, I can do the thing called listening. There is still a face-off waiting for Kuro at home. With a few hours on hand, my main goal is to alleviate her fear and anxiety as much as possible so she does not need to rely on violence.

Ultimately, Kurokawa is still not entirely out of harm's way. Years of constant abuse, physically and mentally, do not disappear in a few hours unless a lobotomy is performed. In her own words, Kuro's scars are not only on her skin but also carved deep inside her mind. As someone who suffers from mental wounds, I know the path to her total recovery is long and arduous. Because of this reason, just for the murder of Kuro's birth giver, I can only hope to eliminate that sudden impulse that drove her to madness in the past.

If it comes down to the worst-case scenario where Kuro can not help it and attack her mother anyway, I have a plan B. Although I understand it is not a conventional way of solving our precious bookworm's issues, similar to my original objective, plan B can save her mother from certain death and Kuro from eternal guilt. That is the most crucial aspect of this.

For now, all I can do is trust in my ability to do the job right. There is no room for mistakes.

"Well, girls. I guess it is time to get back to class. Before we leave, please think of what I said." I remind them one last time. "The simulation thingy."

And about my plan for the future, I have already planted the seed of this world's truth in the girls' hearts. Slowly but surely, those seeds will become so large they will grow fruits made of doubt. Finally, when those fruits ripen, I hope they will question reality itself and can understand without me explaining everything, thereby reducing the chance of triggering a reset if I were the one to reveal it.

My ultimate goal is for Laura, Rachel, and Kurokawa to be able to look at this world and everything it created in a new light, alongside developing critical thinking and questioning every detail.

Then, and only then, they can be truly free. I can also explain why and how I understand them so clearly despite having no prior connections with them in the first place. Of course, by having them as allies, solving future problems should be more uncomplicated, too. With their support and complete trust in me, we can pull many more out of unavoidable death sentences created by the system and the author.

Regardless, convincing the girls of the true nature of our game world is not something to rush. What I am trying to do is simple but exceedingly challenging at the same time. In reality, unless one sees the difference between their world and others with their own eyes, one will never believe anything outside their worldview. That is just how a person would behave, not to mention once their entire life reveals itself as one big fat lie, there is a chance of a total nervous breakdown.

"Oh, by the way, Rachel! Thank you for the meal. Excellent work, as always!"

But before anything can happen, a few words to express my gratitude are vital. After so many years of living without the need for nourishment and the concept of companionship, spending time in meaningful moments like this has long been a farfetched dream. Therefore, I will not take Blondie's generosity for granted. She did her best to prepare our fabulous meal and deserves utmost gratitude.

However, rather than simply accepting the compliments with flashes of happiness on Rachel's face, her reaction also contains hints of surprise. Her aquamarine eyes open wide to look at me, unable to keep the sudden shock from overflowing. It is as if I said something completely unexpected out of the blue.

(I quit my job. Recently got a new one so I haven't been uploading anything. I'll return my weekly update starting now though!)