Genres: Friendship, Humor, Action, Romance, & Family
Others: Slow burn, Platonic relationships, Fluff, Possible dark themes in future chapters


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I

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'People are still people, quirks and all.'

This is the silent mantra I repeat to myself when the sunlight hits my face because my mornings don't start with singing birds or talking mice that help me through the day. It starts with an immediate feeling of dread, and the mantra is some sort of guarantee, or a reminder that even in this world of people with crazy abilities and superpowers, they are all still humans. 'People are still people, quirks and all—' they are who they are even with their powers.

The same goes for me; that despite my quirk, I am still me. 'I am Hoori Oniyuri, fourteen years old, a third year middle school student.' I am who I am, and nothing else.

It's a little difficult, though, especially when people call you names or things on a daily basis. And even when they don't say a thing, their eyes do. Like they don't have to say anything; they just need to look at me, and I will know. I can always see and hear them say—

"Demon."

"Monster."

"Villain."

And I can't blame them for it— I do look different in a way.

It wasn't a pretty experience for a four-year-old kid to see herself looking an entirely different person from the night before she went to sleep. On the morning after my fourth birthday, I remember standing there in front of the mirror where my brown eyes weren't staring back at me anymore.

Instead, there was this small girl who had an unfamiliar pair of yellow eyes glinting with loss and confusion as they tried to look for something that wasn't there. Black horns stuck out of her forehead, and the life in her skin looked as if it had been sucked out by this thing that seemed to have possessed her. When she saw something red coming out from the corner of her lips, she opened her mouth and saw sharp fangs that reminded her of a dog's teeth. She noticed a thin line on her forehead, like there was some sort of an eye sleeping there, and when she tried to touch it, it hurt like an open wound. Flames sprouted from her hands when she looked at them for a few seconds before they disappeared. Finally, she stood there staring at herself, trying to find where the brown-eyed girl was, and wondering if she could see her again.

"This is your quirk," a voice told her. "This is what you're going to be from now on."

That was when she cried. She cried out her own name that her aunt and uncle came up to her room, and they stumbled back when they saw this horned creature instead of their niece, so the girl cried even harder, looking for someone named 'Yuri.'

She only stopped when a woman with brown eyes came to see her. The moment she saw the woman's face resembling the girl she was looking for, she calmed down, and the woman smiled a sweet smile for her before she wrapped her arms around her and said—

"There you are, Yuri."

And I found my way back.

The next morning, I still wasn't used to seeing my new self, so my mom taught me about the mantra. She told me to repeat this to my self— "people are still people, quirks and all." That I am still Hoori Oniyuri, even with my quirk. That I am still her daughter no matter what. And I did it the following morning, the morning after that, and I repeated it on the mornings of the next ten years of my life.

'People are still people, quirks and all,' and with that last repeat, I hope Auntie made rolled eggs and sausages for this morning.


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On my way to school, there was this lady who turned into a giant dragon to fight off a couple of hooligans in a matching Mario and Luigi costumes. Or, at least that was how their colour schemes reminded me of. This was a pretty normal occurrence in any city in Japan— a hero versus villains— but considering the circumstances, it was a pretty rare thing to see, actually; it was almost like watching someone play Super Mario in a fight against Bowser, except Bowser is the hero while the plumber brothers were the princess kidnappers.

Though, I have to thank those three that my walk to school is relatively peaceful this morning. People are too distracted with this real life Super Mario Brothers experience to even pay attention to Satan walking in the streets of Musutafu right now. There are a few glances once in a while, but their eyes immediately go to the one of the villains throwing fireballs at the dragon lady. The brothers got a power up, apparently.

Ah, this is one of the few times when I appreciate the existence of heroes and villains. Yes, both of them, because there cannot be good without evil. There will be no heroes if there are no villains. Other times— well, a thousand curses flash inside my head whenever anyone mentions them, because—

In a way, they are the reason for this thing going on with me and people. You see, our world right now is ruled by heroes and villains. Well, not in a sense that they make the laws and stuff, but they affect people's perspective on things.

Take me as an example. I'm Hoori Oniyuri, fourteen years old, a third year student at Aldera Middle School. That should be it. But that's not how people see me. To them, I am 'the evil, demon girl who's going to be a villain someday.' It was funny at first, like imagine adults getting scared of a nine-year-old kid making sand castles and probably thinking, 'That's what modern hell's going to look like.'

Eventually, things got out of hand that even kids of my age started avoiding me in fear of getting involved or hurt by a 'bad' person. But what could I even do? Throw crumpled papers at them and scream for world domination?

Of course, I tried to show them I wasn't a 'bad' person. That I was just a normal kid just like them. I tried to approach my classmates, tried to be friends with them, but— but they all said the same thing.

"We don't want you here."

And that couldn't have been clearer when all of them didn't say a word to me afterwards. Even the teachers didn't try to make things better. "I hope you understand, Hoori-chan," was what they said, and I did, I really did, and I wanted to change their mind but they wouldn't let me, because—

Fear doesn't go away that easily. Either it stays, or it only gets worse. And I'm certain they all feel that way about me for one reason: villains are all out there.

So, if my problem is the existence of villains, why should I include heroes in the picture? Well, there can't be good without the bad; if I, the "villain", exist, there should be a "hero", too.

And man, there are a lot. There are people like that— people with a distorted view of heroes and what justice is all about. People who think that they're doing the world a huge favour when they "punish" me but in reality; they're just assholes for hurting someone who hasn't even done anything to anyone. Like, wounds and bruises always covered me up because of those "heroes". And every single time, I can't fight back, because I know I'll be the bad guy if I do anything against them.

But people have their own limits— so do I.

Back in my freshman year, there was this group of students who suddenly showed up when I was eating lunch by myself. There were four people— two girls whom I recognized as some of my old classmates from elementary school while the two other guys looked older. Must be upperclassmen, I assumed.

I didn't ask them what they came for; I knew it the moment they got there, and I wanted to get away as soon as possible. I was the "villain", I knew that, and they, the "heroes", probably wanted to tell me to "know my place", "put me away" or something else along those lines— I didn't care, I didn't listen, because it would probably be the same bull they always say.

So I got up to leave, but one of them tripped me with a foot, and I landed face first on the ground. I tried to get up, but another kicked me over in the stomach, and I almost puked my lunch from the impact. I lied there clutching my stomach in pain. The four rounded up above me, and they started kicking me all over— I curled myself in defence, but they hit me on my back, my head, and anywhere they could hurt me.

I felt like I was in hell.

Every hit felt so painful that my whole body started getting numb. It was almost as if I was being tortured, and I couldn't think quite clearly then— all I could remember was a voice asking me questions over and over: "Is this how it's always going to be like? You're always getting hurt and you never fight back all because you will be the "villain". Are you going to let this happen to you every single day for the rest of your life? Do you want that?"

And something inside me snapped— everything became dark, but I remember feeling like I was on fire, like every inch of my body was boiling and seething like hot lava. When my sight came back; all colour seemed to have left the four. They stood there and stared at me in complete horror like they saw the Bogeyman himself. One of the girls was visibly shaking while holding her arm. The other girl was cowering on the ground, while the two guys seemed to have stopped breathing entirely.

Even up to this day, I still can't remember what I did to them. Whatever it was, it did stop everyone from harassing me, including the hero wannabes. In fact, no one had approached me since. Before that incident, anyone could still look at me in the eye, but after that, it became obvious that no one dared to even stand or breathe near me because terror had completely took over them.

And I just let things that way, because none of it is going to chance. I still rejected the idea of me being a villain, but it's understandable that as long as the real heroes and villains existed, things would stay the way they were. I tried to change people's minds, became compliant with their treatment towards me, but all I did was to make things worse. The difference I thought I was trying to make ended up backfiring on me. I became this living, breathing reminder of the fear that everyone had to face every time they stepped out of their home. They wanted nothing but to run away from me.

But, no— I am still Oniyuri no matter what. 'Fourteen years old, third year middle school student.' I am no villain or hero. I am only me.

I am me, and nothing else.


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"Mm...? Yeah, I took a nap. ...Okay. ...Okay. ... I won't. ...Okay, bye."

Uncle's not coming home tonight because of police work and all that. What about Auntie? Is she— oh, speak of the devil. She just sent in a message.

"'Yuri, I'll be home late tonight. Sorry I didn't text you earlier; I'm really busy with my thesis right now. Go buy something from the convenience store for dinner, there should be some money left on top of the fridge. Later then!'"

I guess I'll be all by myself tonight. Well, isn't that a great thing to wake up to? I'll be... Home Alone. 'Heh,' that movie. No thief would ever come here— everyone in this apartment complex knows they need to abandon all hope once they stand in front of this cursed place. At least, that's what I assume, because we rarely have visitors.

Oh, Auntie's right— there's still a thousand yen on the fridge. Since Uncle won't be home, which means all the freedom in the world is in my hands with this money.

Well, a Jagabee* and Umaibo* party, it is then. To the store!

Five minutes past ten, and the night's less chilly now than the previous ones— winter ended a while ago, and spring just came. The streets are a mess with all the pink cherry blossom petals scattered around, though. It's like they replaced the snow that plagued during the cold here, but this is much better than having to worry about my lips turning purple or slipping by accident and landing on my ass.

From a distance, there aren't much people in the convenience store. Just a couple of employees and a costumer. Good— there will be less people giving me the Look, which is wary eyes coupled with nervous sweating.

It's a normal thing for people to get uneasy around me— it's the "villain" thing and all that, so crowded places are a no-go for me. School is, well, an exception since it's a must.

As for disguises, they don't work. When I was younger, beanies used to hide my horns since they were smaller, but now that they're bigger and pointier, not even ten beanies can do the trick of concealing them. As for others, face masks are stuffy, contact lenses hurt my eyes, and wigs are impossible because of these things on my head. Suspicions would only grow more around me if I dared to go out with those things on. In the end, it's relatively better to have my appearance out in the open rather than to hide it.

"W-Welcome!"

Ah, there it is— the familiar crack in the employees' voices whenever they greet me. Even though the people around here change every few months, the reactions always stay the same.

The snacks section is my safe haven in this place. It's pretty much at the back— the tall stacks of food can perfectly hide me from the people around. Let's see here— where are the Jagabees? Oh, there's cheese potato flavour available. Sweet! Better get two of that. What about Umaibo? Cheese, lemon squash, Tonkatsu sauce, vegetable salad— ah, there's a couple of cinnamon apple pie ones! And, oh, 'holy pepperoni,' there's one Mozzarella and Camembert flavour left! We're eating well tonight!

'Now, I need a drink.' What about Coke? 'Nah, too sugary.' Tea, it is then. Green tea for all these sweets I'm about to feast on. Man, I can't wait to go back home.

There's still some money left with all these. Maybe a bun on the go and pay for my stuff to get things over with.

"Hmm..."

This guy has been here with the buns for about five minutes now. Or more, because he's the customer I spotted before coming in here and I haven't seen him move since. His eyes— oh, they're actually blue under all that weird shadow— are too focused on the buns in the glass steamer.

Looking at him, I can't help but think— is he doing okay? I mean, this guy's blond hair is too messy, and he looks so thin, so scrawny that he can't even fit into his t-shirt and pants. His clothes are too baggy for his size. 'I don't know,' I haven't seen anyone as sickly looking as he is. Does he need help, or—

"Hey, kid, which one should I get?"

The question was so sudden it interrupted my thoughts. The growing awkward silence is starting to feel painful, so panic kicks in, and I—

"Um, if you want something meaty, you—you can try the pork bun... Or, or, um, if you want something more flavourful and maybe western, you can go for pizza bun or cheese-and-bacon bun! Yeah, but, uh, personally, I—I recommend the Anman. It has that kind of sweetness you can't get enough of, yeah."

He stared at me for a moment, and heat's rising up to my face— did, 'did I really just do that?' I don't usually talk to strangers— it's either I leave them alone, or they get away from me before I can even approach them, but— but he asked me the question, so why shouldn't I answer?

And he was only asking which one he should get. Why did I make this harder for him by telling him all those things? 'Agh,' how embarrassing! Ah, I want to scream so bad right now! Where's a giant dragon for distraction when you need one?

But— "Oh, is that so?" he doesn't seem bothered, thank God. Actually, he looks a little pleased. And I could only blink, because people are not always pleased when they talk to me. "I can't really decide on anything, but I think I'll have the Anman, then."

'Huh.' He's not nervous, too. And he's not sweating, shaking, or showing any signs of running away for his life. 'Weird.' People would normally drop their things and get as far away as possible, but weirdly enough, he's not. That's— 'that's good, I guess?' I don't know. My brain is close to short-circuiting with all this stuff right now.

"You have my thanks, young lady," the guy smiled at me just as he got the bun. I gave him a slight bow in return, and he went off with his food.

I guess that's... that. 'Whatever that was.'

Well, now that someone's buying one, Anman became appealing to me. The pork bun was the original plan, but my stomach started craving for the sweet one. Haven't I got enough sweets already, though? 'Oh, well.' Sweets are one of the few things in life that makes me happy anyway, 'so eh.'

Hmm, there's one Butaman over there, a couple of Pizzaman, and where's the Anman? 'Anman, Anman, A—'

"Ah."

There's no Anman left. The guy just bought the last one. And all at once, the final bit of my luck in the world abandoned me.

'HNNNNGGG— no, no,' no worries, everything's okay, everything's alright. At least the mozzarella Umaibo is in my hands. 'You're already lucky someone left you one,' and the sick guy needs the Anman more than I do. Luck is still on my side. Well, somehow. But it hasn't abandoned me yet. And the guy can at least believe there is still some good left in the world. 'Don't be overdramatic, alright?' Forget about that bun, pay for the food, and move on with life.

Yep. Goodbye, Anman. 'Good bye.'

"T-That'll be six hundred and sixty five yen," and after that one last encounter with the nervous cashier, I headed out of the store.

A breeze passes by at the exit— the moon is peaking out from behind the clouds that are illuminated by the dim light, and the cherry blossom petals dance with the rhythmic movement of the trees around. It's fifteen minutes past ten, and so far, it has been a peaceful night, and—

"Man, I really want that Anman."

Agh, I can't help it. God, my stomach can't stop craving for it. Just when I'm about to have this feast, it's not going to be complete without that bun, but— well, it's gone now. Then again, there's always tomorrow to come by and—

"Would you like to have some, then?"

"WAH—!"

I almost jumped out of my own skin. 'What the hell?' Who was that? Did I imagine that? Or was that a ghost? A sense of déjà vu hits me, but where—

"Ah!"

It's the sickly guy from before, who is now sitting on one of the benches a couple of feet away from me. He's handing out a bun to me, and I look at him and back to the food.

I drop my eyes down to my feet. 'Me and my big mouth again—!' "I...I'm okay, mister. Y-You bought it first anyway." Ugh, my face getting hot again. I'm such an embarrassment.

"No, no, I insist," he broke it into halves and offered a portion to me. "Consider it as a thank you gift for helping me back there, young lady."

'A thank you gift?' Why would he thank me for butting into his business? I— I don't really get it, but it'll be rude of me to refuse now that he's offering me the bigger portion of the two. I'm really not used to this— there's no harm to accept it, right? If he's being nice, I should do the same, too.

"Um..." I took the Anman from him and bowed a bit. "Thank you..."

"Now, sit," he gestured towards the seat across him. "Let's eat while the bun's still hot."

Gosh, I really don't know what to say about this whole situation. Is it really okay to sit with him? I mean, he's kind enough to invite me and all, but I hope he doesn't mind me having me here. Ah, I should just take the seat and put my plastic bag on the ground.

I probably look awkward to him right now— I keep looking at him to see if he's going to start eating; I don't want to look eager or rude so I'm not biting into my bun yet. When he finally takes the first bite, I follow his lead and start eating my portion as well. Another breeze passes by as we eat in the sound of the leaves rustling with the gentle wind.

This feels so... new and foreign— a stranger offering me a seat to eat a bun with him. Usually, my expectations of people acting kind to me are below the ground. With my yellow eyes and pointy horns and overall creepy vibe, getting glares, hearing whispers, and everyone avoiding me entirely are a normal thing to me. It's what I've experienced ever since I was a kid— things that not me or anyone can prevent because of what I was born with.

So now, sitting here and eating this Anman in a peaceful night like this, I guess it's not so bad. This kind of comfort only happens when my family are with me. It feels kind of weird too with how the events led up to this moment, but mostly, I'm okay with it.

Ah, it's only wishful thinking, but why can't everyone be like this guy? He doesn't look scared of me and he doesn't seem to mind how I look like. He's also kind and rather selfless, despite his, ah, physical condition. Man, that cashier store would probably have national security called here first before she could ever sit with me.

"Is there anything I can help you with, kid?" the guy suddenly said. Agh, I didn't even realize I was staring at him— 'stupid, stupid!' "You seem troubled about something."

"Um, no, I—"'c'mon, just say something nice!' "This, this is nice— eating food with, with someone!"

He looked at me like he just saw an elephant do a somersault before he let out a hearty laugh. Despite how he looks, he's quite a cheerful guy.

"Of course, it is!" he said. "Don't you have friends to share food with?"

'Oof—' As if on cue, something crash inside the store, like it echoed the same noise that broke from inside me. I tried my best not to look hurt— I know it was unintentional, that he didn't mean to hurt me, but boy, did that jab go straight into the my fragile heart.

Ah, guess I'll just have to be honest with it. "Uh, well, no, sir. I don't actually." No need to hide what's obvious anyway.

"Oh!" His eyes widened like he just stepped on a landmine— the landmine being my feelings. "Sorry...!"

"No, no, it's... okay, mister," I shook my head and tried to laugh to make things lighter. "I am a 'villain' anyway, so..."

"What?!" The guy was so surprised he coughed blood and spoke in English. "You're a villain!?"

"No, no, sir! I'm, I'm not!" 'Did he choke?' Panic overwhelmed me that I grabbed the bottle of green tea in my plastic bag and gave it to him quick. "I, I mean it's just how people see me but, you know, it's not like I'm a real one! I swear!"

He blinked his eyes at me before looking at the bottle in his hand. "Oh, I see, I see," he seemed to have calmed down with how he sighed and his shoulders went back to a relaxed position. "But, people see you as a villain? How so, young one...?"

"Um..." it's my turn to blink my eyes, because isn't that obvious already? Or does he have bad eyesight? Well, he does have that weird shadow in his eyes, so I might as well show him.

"It's because of, um, these," I ducked my head and pointed my horns, "and these," pulled up my lids to give him a better view of my eyes, "and these," and showed him my fangs. "I also have, ah, black nails," and I raised my hands to show him my fingernails. "I, uh, look evil... I guess."

He stared at me for a few good seconds, before he concluded, "Well, you don't look like a villain to me."

And then, for a moment right there, he looked like he had seen something far worse than I did. He had that look that I had only seen on my uncle before— it was when he came back from work five years ago and there was this unusual kind of sadness mixed with a deep sense of fear rooted from something, but it went away at once when he saw me and smiled.

But I appreciate that he doesn't think of me as a villain. I really do, because only my family thinks that way, too. They've only seen me as a normal girl, and this guy sees me for what I really am. I really am just a normal girl, and not a lot of people see that.

"Actually, you look pretty normal, kid," he said and took a few gulps of the green tea. "Many people have horns and sharp teeth, don't they?"

I look... pretty normal? I mean, a lot of people do have those, but they haven't done anything to scare the living acne out of people. Sure, the word average fits me in a way, but some people know what I did to my schoolmates, and they will be reminded of that whenever they see me. It's that part of my quirk they're scared of, and somehow, I—

'No. Don't say it. Don't think about it. No, no.'

"Sure, sir, but, um, I can't really get rid of their fear away once it's there..." I stare down at my feet to avoid meeting his eyes. "That's why I, uh, don't have any friends..."

"Have you tried smiling?"

'What?' "Smiling?"

"Yes, yes!" He smiled, as if to show me how to do it. "Don't you know how to smile?"

I nodded, but I'm not sure where he's getting at. "I-I do, but..."

"C'mon, just try it," he still kept smiling. "We're doing the first step right now."

"T-The first step to...?"

"Why, to make friends, of course!" He spread his arms, like he was welcoming something. "Now then, try smiling, kid."

Smiling... is the first step to making friends? How does that work? Then again, I don't have any friends since I haven't approached anyone in years and no one did the same to me, so I might as well do as he says. He's the one here who has the experience anyway.

I smiled, just like he said. "Like this?"

"Oh, not bad! Not bad at all!" He grinned. "Now make it happier. Smile, like you are glad to see everyone!"

"Um..." Man, I don't understand what he's saying. How am I supposed to get happy when people are running away from me? "I, uh, I don't really get it, sir..."

"Think of smiling as a message, young lady!" He said it in a way like a teacher would to his student. "Smiling is a way of telling people that you're a good guy. It's to help them relax around you and to tell them that you are not going to do any harm to them. You smile because you do not want to scare them away; it's to invite them in!"

So, "I should smile... to lure people in?" To capture them with my smile and turn them into my friends? Is that it? 'Did I get it right?'

"W-Well, technically, yes," he seemed a little hesitant to agree, but he nodded anyway. "You have a weird way with words, but you got it, kid!"

"Oh, okay, but, um..."

Smiling isn't something I haven't tried with people before, but all I can see is them running away from me. It's not even funny anymore; making friends is something I've always wanted to do, but it's impossible, and that— that frustrates me. It hurts me that I'm always by myself, but it's so hard when you know that everything you'll do is not going to work because their fear has long been engraved into their minds.

"I, uh..."

I am that fear that they desperately try to hide from— the fear they don't want to face. I am—

"Are you scared?"

I didn't look up at him, but I nodded as an answer.

It's something I don't want to admit for a very long time now. It started the moment I saw that unfamiliar girl on the mirror, and fear had taken a hold of me since.

'People are people, quirks and all—' every morning, the mantra repeats and replays inside my head, but it only helps me get by through the day. And the fear will always be there. Every time I see the frantic look on people's faces, it's almost as if my own fear is being reflected back at me. "I am me— I am me, and no one else," always on repeat, but it is also a reminder of the monster inside me, that I really do have the power hurt people.

I held my hands to keep them from trembling. 'Yes,' I'm scared. 'I'm so, so scared.'

"Let me tell you something, kid. A secret about smiling."

There's a secret about smiling? What more is there to know?

"You see, smiling doesn't just go in one way only, young lady. You can smile for others, but you can also smile for yourself," he looked ahead of him, but it seemed to me like he was looking at something far, far away from here. Something unreachable or probably gone. I wonder what it was.

"You can smile to put everyone at ease, including yourself. Smile to trick the fear inside you."

"Smile... to trick the fear inside me...?"

"Yes!" He smiled— "Well, that's what I tell myself, at least!" and laughed it off.

So, he's afraid? Is he scared of me? Well, no— he would've never told me that secret much less talk to me and even share his food with me.

Is there something else that scares him then? If so, what is it? It makes me wonder what this guy has been through. They are probably some of the most horrible things in life, given the rough state he's in right now. Some things that most people would've never thought of happening in their lives. Or, he's always been that way? And he's afraid something worse might happen so he smiles it off? To trick the fear inside him, like he said? I don't know, maybe I'm just imagining things. I do hope he'll be alright, though.

And, I guess this is where I smile. To put him at ease and to tell myself I'm going to be okay, too.

"Thank you, sir," I returned a smile for him. "For everything."

"That's it! Keep it up, young lady!" He gave me two thumbs up. "With that smile, you can make many friends— no, hundreds of friends!"

"Pfft—" Hundreds? Now that's just silly. One is more than enough already, but, "I'll do my best, sir."

"That, you shall, kid. I have high hopes for you!"

After giving him another smile, the Anman tastes sweeter than before now. Tonight's been really fun— getting to meet a nice stranger and sharing food with him. He even gave me some helpful advices! It's thanks to him that I feel kind of better about myself now. That I may not be as bad as I or everyone thought. Maybe things will change for the better now that he taught me the first step on how to make friends. I really do wish that it'll work this time.

The guy then stood up— he might have finished his portion now. He checked his watch, and with a brief moment of surprise, he turned to me and said, "It's almost eleven now, kid. Shouldn't your parents be looking for you?"

'Zits—!' I almost dropped my bun. I didn't even realize it's already late. It's like what people say— time flies when you're having fun.

"Um, I'm going ahead then!" Auntie should be coming home soon. As much as I want talk to him more, I need to go back and prepare for school tomorrow, too.

"T-Thank you so much, sir!" I walked on ahead after picking up my plastic bag and bowed for him. "I learned a lot from you!"

"No problem, young lady," he saluted at me. "And remember! Keep smiling!"

"I will!"

With one last bow, I waved at him and started heading back to our apartment. 'Oh, wait,' I didn't get to ask what his name was. He should still be there, but—

'Weird—' he's gone. 'Huh.' Maybe he went back inside the store? Well, there's always a tomorrow to come back to the store. Will he be there around the same time again?

For now, I'm calling him 'Anman Guy', because he has a smile as sweet as this bun we shared together. And I smiled as some sort of promise not just to him for myself, too. I'll smile for others. I'll smile for myself when things are tough and difficult, too. I'll smile, even if I'm scared, just like he does. I'll remember his words, and—

"I promise I won't let you down."


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* Jagabee - It's a popular Japanese snack that looks and tastes like potato fries.
* Umaibo - Another popular Japanese snack; it's a puffed corn stick that comes in different flavors.
* Anman - A sweet type of steamed buns, filled with red bean paste. Note: don't get it confused with Anpan or sweet bread. They may have the same filling but as these two are different. :)


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Nico: So yeah, the timeline of the story's events is going to start from here! Tbh, I'm more satisfied with this than the previous version haha so yeah, I hope you liked it! :D

If you have any questions, or if you want to make suggestions, the review box is open for everyone (anon or not) orrr you can send me a private message! :) Constructive criticisms or simple comments are all equally loved and appreciated here. uwu

Thank you very much for reading!