–Now that I think about it, what was the correct answer?
–Where did I go wrong?
At an extravagant room that would be able to take the space of several small houses, Tomoki, who had been living a pretty decent quality of life in Japan as well, hadn’t even seen this level of extravagance before, but now, this is his room.
They told him with an apologetic tone ‘this is a narrow place, but it is only temporary, so please bear with it for now’, and the place they guided him was this.
When preparations are done, just what kind of room will he be living in?
The hero that descended into the Gritonia Empire, Iwahashi Tomoki, was thinking as he made a dry laugh, and for now, he calmed down.
And then, when his expression changed to a dark one, he remembered his bitter past.
Why did he become the target of bullying?
Even now, he hasn’t been able to find an answer he can be satisfied with, and it is a big worry of his that is always occupying a side of his mind.
Those worries are…
-What should I have done to avoid it?
-What was the correct way to act?
Those kind of questions.
(Should I have just gone all the way for a plastic surgery?)
He was popular with the girls.
He thinks the biggest reason for the bullying was this.
Physical activity wasn’t a specialty of his and his body was slender, but he was tall.
His face was like that of a delicate beauty that one would think came straight from a shoujo manga.
He himself didn’t do anything special to his skin, and yet, his skin was also beautiful.
That’s why, even before entering middle-school, at elementary school and kindergarten, girls would swarm him as well.
In regards to that, it wasn’t all rose and flowers.
Because there were many cases when he would be shown way too excessive goodwill including skinship, he had been cornered to the point where he was close to having gynophobia.
But after he began going out with one of them, and obtaining experience with a few more, the wound in his heart was able to recover to a slight degree.
In reality, the reason why Tomoki was popular with the girls was not thanks to his face alone.
…The reason for being bullied was also not because of that alone though.
Maybe because he has been in that kind of environment since infancy, from the bottom of his heart, Tomoki has acted kindly towards women, and has obtained the ability to hear out the conversations of the girls with a demeanor of interest.
The clothes and accessories he wore felt like a natural mesh; his fashion sense was a natural high.
Compared to the guys of the same age, Tomoki looked like an incredibly mature person in the eyes of the girls.
When he was in the late years of middle school, his father, who works in the advertisement industry, had asked him a few times to be a model, and Tomoki has decorated a number of pages before.
A household that doesn’t have any incommodities, a body and face that is enough for people to request him to be a model, on top of that, fashionable.
In elementary to middle school, his body and heart matured even more, and with that, there was no way that he wouldn’t stand out.
The wider his outlook, the more charming he was.
(Maybe it was a bad idea to be involved in modeling? But someone like me, who was asked a favor from his parent, would at most get a role as a stand-in, and I don’t remember ever flaunting about it. I knew well that I only got those kind of roles because my father coincidentally was in that kind of industry. What I was doing was literally earning pocket money.) (Tomoki)
Tomoki stood up from the sofa, threw his body onto the big bed, and lets out a sigh.
It is completely wrong.
…At the age of middle school and high school, those are the times when the words like talent are the most prominent.
Envy from the same sex, occasional jealousy from the opposite sex…
But at that time, Tomoki was disconcerted thinking that what he did everyone else could do.
It is true that, at first, he was selected because of the job of his father, but it is rare to be called to be a model several times.
If whichever one of the parents were quite the famous people, it would be possible to be called several times.
But…Tomoki’s father may have been a capable person, but he was by no means someone in the casting department or someone who had enough influence to use his name as authority.
In the first place, stand-ins are not things that happen often.
The surroundings had noticed a long time ago.
That Tomoki had the talent for that area.
Meaning that it was due to the influence of his parents.
And in reality, his father had received several contracts from companies asking to employ his son.
At the very least, since Tomoki’s second year of middle school, he has been asked to work not as a stand-in, but actual work.
But towards his son that hadn’t noticed his own talent at all and just worked as if it were a pain, his father told him that he would increase his allowance, so to please help him out to save him face. He would quickly bring talk to Tomoki about sudden requests for stand-ins.
They have spoken as father and son a number of times.
About whether he would want to work seriously as a model.
About consulting with the teacher of his current school and choosing a high school that would accommodate such work.
But because his father was saying the complete opposite of what he told him when he was featured in pages of a magazine: ‘Don’t think it was your ability’, ‘don’t get conceited’, and ‘studying comes first’, his current words didn’t resonate much in his son.
(Give me a break. In the entertainment industry, no matter if it is a model, performer, or actor, only a few handful manage to survive. It is a world where you have to pass your whole life in a scraping battle of talent and individuality. There’s no way I would survive in there. Why would my father bring out such stupid talk. Before entering middle school, he would always tell me ‘study for the private school exams’, ‘don’t drop your grades’. That’s all he talked about, and yet…) (Tomoki)
When entering the photo shoot, Tomoki would obviously meet other models.
Whether they be men or women.
In there, it was a place for serious battle.
For Tomoki who came there with the intention to gain pocket money, with the feel of doing a part-time job, it was simply like looking at the opposite side of the shore, but he had gulped his breath at how grand it was.
Look a bit better than the others.
Be in the lenses for a bit longer than the others.
—More than anyone here.
In this battle that felt like a spiral of resentment, for Tomoki who had no resolve at all, it wasn’t a peaceful sight like that of scooping water, but the very depiction of ogres hitting each other with metal rods.
But within those ogres, there were some that were harsh, but most of them interacted with Tomoki as kind brothers or sisters.
There was even a child actor that had gotten attached to him and treated him like a true older brother.
Tomoki saw this as them considering him an outside existence in their battle world, and that made him feel relieved.
But it was the contrary.
Iwahashi Tomoki should have noticed at around that time.
Many of the older male actors invited Tomoki to a meal with an older brother act, and called him out saying they would teach him some nice places.
Most of the female models would do casual talk about fashion, hobbies, and those kind of things while actively closing distance. On top of that, they would invite him to lunch and would try to seduce him.
That’s not because they didn’t see him as an enemy.
In the few times Tomoki had been working together with them, in the few conversations they have had, he had defeated them.
Violent levels of dazzling talent.
Just like how Tomoki and his father feel, it isn’t easy to survive in the entertainment industry. That’s true.
But there are exceptions.
Within the many people that try to shine in that place with hard work, there are exceptions that emit overwhelming light in their natural state.
A young boy, that is only serving as a stand-in due to his father and is simply getting pocket money, who just has a bit of good looks, takes poses in photoshoots, and can’t freely change his expressions; he should need training and experience.
He is a beginner that is not affiliated to any company and doesn’t have a manager, so he shouldn’t be able to get special featured pages from several magazines and shouldn’t get several requests to appear in dramas.
He had sketched a jacket and said ‘it would be nice if there were something like this’, and if there hadn’t been a reporter who was shocked by this and had made it a real product, it wouldn’t have been a hit. Of course, there wouldn’t be a talk about helping him out in creating a new brand either.
Moreover, the talks about being featured in a newspaper, offers to appear in dramas, and the creation of a brand, the models around Tomoki had advised him and Tomoki himself rejected those offers.
Regarding the jacket, his name wasn’t published, but the results of it had properly been transmitted to the people involved.
Work offers were coming to him one after the other.
Seeing a middle school student managing to do so many unreasonable things one after the other with close to no effort, many of the people in that entertainment industry had given up.
It is not that he wasn’t being acknowledged by the others, they had surrendered.
(As I thought…being a model was a bad idea. It made me strangely famous, pushing me into the go-home club, and making me have few friends… But I refused all confessions. I didn’t take the girlfriends of no one. And yet, why was I still hated…) (Tomoki)
It wasn’t just within the school, Tomoki’s existence was known in the neighborhood. If one were to observe the path to school of Tomoki, you would easily be able to see many girls from neighboring schools in their different uniforms.
The number of confessions were quite a lot, but he rejected them all.
He was slightly interested in going out with a girl, but his fear still won over his curiosity, and for Tomoki, his time with manga, games, and his few friends was more important.
(‘I won’t go out with anyone’, is the kind of intention I tried to show though. Haha… and it was as if I had lost everything because of it. Even though Ryuji was…for me, the first true friend I got.) (Tomoki)
He had a lot of things, but he was unenergetic and negative to everything.
Even so, the amount of times the ‘results’ of Tomoki were transmitted from the net, SNS, magazines, and the talk of girls began to change the view the others had of him into jealousy and anger.
He was bullied by the male students within the school, but within the male students, there was actually one close friend of Tomoki in his same grade that still continued to stay amicable with him.
You could say he was the only one Tomoki could call a friend since the moment the bullying had begun to surface and turned into ignoring.
Tomoki was deeply moved, thinking that he might have, for the first time, met a friend that he could speak his heart out with.
If it was with him, he could speak as much as he wanted to the point of forgetting the passage of time.
For the first time in his life, he had been invited to stay in the house of someone.
Ryuji works a sweat in a sports club, and at a glance, they appear as if they were polar opposites, and yet, Tomoki had fun being with him.
The physical education classes that, in the past, he would almost always be absent of, after meeting Ryuji, he had been influenced enough that he would now take part in about half of the time.
The face of that person surfaced in the memory of Tomoki.
At the same time, his chest began to hurt.
Since the day that friend of his, Ryuji, had averted his gaze and ignored him, Tomoki began to fear going to school.
Tomoki knew that Ryuji had an unrequited love towards a childhood friend of his that has been with him since elementary school.
Tomoki knows how she looks as well.
He has spoken to her a number of times when she was together with Ryuji.
That’s why…when Tomoki received a confession of her…Tomoki tried to piece vague words that would not hurt her, and ended up unconsciously saying this instead:
“Sorry. Just you alone, I will never be able to accept.” (Tomoki)
In the priority list of Tomoki, Ryuji was number one.
The result and the words…soon made her go running to Ryuji in tears to spit out her anger.
On top of that, because Ryuji concentrated in his club activities, he didn’t have good grades.
And, Tomoki, who found the times together with Ryuji as the most fun, didn’t have anything to do anymore. He began to neglect the studies that he had done decently in the past. Thus, the times he had to take supplementary lessons together with Ryuji had increased.
It is not as if Tomoki had slacked because he wanted to take the supplementary lessons.
It is just that, the studying that he didn’t like in the first place, he began to feel even less worth in it, so he stopped doing it seriously, that’s all there was.
But the result was the same.
Tomoki hasn’t pitied Ryuji even once. If it is envy and respect, he has done so a number of times.
But at that time, Ryuji felt like…Tomoki was pitying him.
A crack had been driven in.
The connection between the two had been destroyed.
Even with that, if they brought out the courage, it might have been possible to fix that relationship with time.
That’s right. If only Tomoki hadn’t thrown everything away and passed pointless time…and if he hadn’t been found by the Goddess.
“Ara, what splendid talent. Nice. A natural born fashion sense, right? Sensitive to fashion. The fashion that he likes could turn into a trend. Also…ufufufufu. This boy might be able to bring a new sense of beauty to my world. Even if that’s not the case, there’s no doubt that he will serve as a good stimulus to it.”
She had fallen in love with the talent of Tomoki.
She immediately gathered the information regarding the background that surrounds him.
He is convenient.
That’s all the impression the Goddess had of him.
A perfect candidate to be her hero was right before her eyes.
“Something like the demon race, with one more human and my assistance, we will be able to crush them really quick. Rather than stressing about the battle, a hero that has overflowing talent fitting for what comes after would be better. Right, if I were to give him the [Charm Demonic Eyes], I wonder if he would wag his tail to me.” (Bug)
In the endings of many mythologies, there’s an incredibly low amount where that kind of power would lead the user to a happy ending.
But there was no hesitation from the Goddess.
It is a profitable ability. It would be a great charity to him if she were to give it to him.
What’s next would be whether the person using it is worthy of the power, or can become an existence worthy of that power.
That’s not something the God should think about. It is the so called ‘trial’ that Gods give to people.
Anyways, within the negotiation between the Goddess and Tomoki, she managed to bring out the answer she wanted from him, and ended the talk.
“Oh well, nothing matters anymore. I have become a hero. This time for sure, I will do things properly. With my power, this time for sure, everything…!” (Tomoki)
With a teary face that one couldn’t describe as cheerful at all, Tomoki, who had become the Empire’s hero, forced out a smile and said this.
A single boy that suddenly disappeared without a single trace.
A lot of speculations flew around, and there were many who agreed in helping in the search.
But the situation didn’t change one bit.
It was suspected that there might be a connection between his disappearance and the one of a highschool girl that disappeared around the same time.
Iwahashi Tomoki had disappeared.
His father found doodles in Tomoki’s room and hurriedly relied on his connections. And with that, the drawings turned into products with the brand of TOMO and became a big hit.
His parents decorated the inside of the house with those clothes as if they were mementos of Tomoki.
But he didn’t return to the Iwahashi household.
The needles of the clock were still unmoving.
Simply left behind.