📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.
📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.

V2 I Reunited with my Ex-Girlfriend on a Dating App Chapter 3

When Men and Women Drink Together, It's Basically a Group Dating Event

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NOVEL WISHES


Chapter 3: When Men and Women Drink Together, It’s Basically a Group Dating Event

“So, would you be able to come?”

Inside a monochrome black, white, and gray cafe, the deep aroma of coffee mixed with the sweet scent of French toast filled the air.

The day after my zoo date with Kokoro-san. Every Sunday, as usual, I have the same work shift as Enji.

We had just finished our shift, and now we were sitting at the counter in the cafe, drinking coffee and talking.

The topic of conversation, of course, was Kokoro-san’s wish from yesterday – to enjoy cherry blossom viewing with a group of people.

“I see, I see, I’m happy to help if you think I can be of use. I’ve wanted to get to know Hatsune-san better anyway. I’m already friends with pretty much everyone at university, but I haven’t had the chance with Hatsune-san.”

“You’re friends with pretty much everyone? What are you?”

“But, Enji, I can’t turn into a girl, you know? Hatsune-san said she wants female friends too, right? What will you do?”

Knowing Enji, he probably already sees through my plan.

He wants me to say it myself. I don’t have female friends, except maybe Kokoro-san. But as a friend, or more like a nemesis – or rather, an ex-girlfriend, there is someone.

“I’ll invite Hikaru.”

“Oh, Shou inviting someone, that’s rare.”

“Well, thanks to you, inviting someone for cherry blossoms isn’t so bad… uh, but isn’t it weird? Inviting an ex to a cherry blossom viewing is like saying, ‘I still have feelings, give me another chance’… Yeah, I changed my mind.”

“So, what will you do about Hatsune-san’s request?”

“Argh! I get it! I’ll invite her! Damn, I should have studied more about mole-type girls!”

“What are you talking about?”

At this point, I was desperate.

It didn’t matter what others thought. Or rather, if I explained Kokoro-san’s situation, it wouldn’t seem like such a big misunderstanding.

It’s just helping a friend. Easy, right?

“Hey Hikaru, want to go cherry blossom viewing?”

But as I typed, I realized it sounded too much like I wanted to go with her. Delete, delete.

“Hey, Hikaru, a friend of mine wants to do cherry blossom viewing, wanna come?”

This sounded like an excuse.

If she replies with “Isn’t it actually you who wants to go? :)”, I’d be so frustrated I’d cry blood. So, delete that too.

“Give it here.”

“Hey…!”

Enji snatched my phone from my hand and started typing something.

I reached out to grab it back, but my apron got caught on the chair, and I tumbled over dramatically.

“Ow!”

“Done, I sent it for you, indecisive Shou.”

“What did you do…?!”

I immediately checked what Enji sent and felt despair.

For now, I just strangled the smiling Enji sitting beside me.

“Ow, ow, ow… I’m gonna die…!”

I strangled him with about nine-tenths of my strength.

“Enji sent this, I swear! Look, colorful emojis and all!”

“Hikaru-chan, hey there! 😊 So, Enji-kun and I and some friends are thinking of going cherry blossom viewing 🌸🌸, wanna join?? It’ll be fun, we can eat and drink 🍺🍺, hope you can make it! 😉😉”

Just reading it made me feel sick, but what was worse were the overly colorful emojis.

“Enji, how could you do this to me? This is so not me!”

“Just say I sent it!”

“That sounds even more like an excuse!”

“Guys, there are customers around, stop it!”

“Sorry.”

Maybe it was because of Enji’s unnecessary meddling, but Hikaru read my message and ignored it.

For the rest of the day, I just groaned, holding my head in my hands and cursing Enji, searching online for voodoo dolls.

What a terrible day.

I was probably being mocked as creepy… As I was thinking this, a reply came.

“I’ll go.”

Seeing the two-word message, my cheeks unwittingly relaxed a bit.

Why though? Why am I happy about this?

This is all for Kokoro-san’s sake. Yes. Not for me. I don’t care whether Hikaru is there or not.

“Also, what’s with this creepy message? I almost blocked you.”

“Must be a bug.”

“What kind of bug is that?”

“Enji sent it without asking.”

I debated whether to say it since it sounded like an excuse, but I really didn’t want that message to be mistaken as mine.

“Ah, if it’s Enji-kun, that seems likely.”

I managed to make them believe me. Good that I said it.

After all, having been together for more than three years, Hikaru should know I would never send such a message as a joke.

But does Hikaru see Enji in that light?

“Is this friend someone I don’t know?”

I wondered if I had ever talked about Kokoro-san with Hikaru.

I probably mentioned that I matched with someone from the same university on Connect.

Yeah, I did.

But that was about it.

I hadn’t explained that she was shy or that she wanted to overcome it and needed help.

“I’m talking about a girl named Hatsune Kokoro. She’s extremely shy around people. I thought, since Hikaru can become friends with just about anyone, I wanted to ask for your help.”

Since high school, Hikaru always had someone around.

Hikaru got along with everyone and was liked by all, and thanks to that, even my unsociable traits improved a bit, I’d like to think.

So, perhaps Kokoro-san would be influenced in the same way and might become a bit less shy.

“Eh, a girl?”

“Yes.”

“Shou has a girl friend?”

Before I could reply to Hikaru’s message questioning the oddity of me having a girl friend, another message quickly followed.

“Ah, the one from Connect?”

“Yes.”

“Is that okay? You’re going to introduce me? Won’t she be upset if you mention your ex-girlfriend?”

Why would Kokoro-san be upset about Hikaru being my ex-girlfriend?

Right, Hikaru must be thinking that Kokoro-san and I are in a romantic relationship. But that’s not the case.

I had mistakenly thought Kokoro-san had feelings for me because of that declaration, but she later said we were just friends.

It was my misjudgment. So, there’s no reason for Kokoro-san to be upset about Hikaru.

“It’s fine, we just became friends normally.”

“Okay, let me know the details of the date and place later.”

“Okay.”

Our exchange lasted only about three minutes, and after my “okay,” there were no more replies.

Even when we were dating, we both preferred not to contact each other unless necessary.

After finishing the LINE conversation, I found myself smiling slightly. Why am I enjoying this?

It was supposed to be a casual exchange.

Just a straightforward conversation without emojis or anything fancy.

This makes it seem like I’m still in love with Hikaru.

Actually, even I’m not sure about my own feelings.

I closed my phone and closed my eyes.

I need to sleep early since school starts again tomorrow.

But three seconds later, Hikaru’s LINE message made me expose my eyes to the blue light again.

“Goodnight.”

“…”

“Goodnight.”

The preparations for the cherry blossom viewing were perfect.

Since I was the common acquaintance of the other three, it naturally fell upon me to be the organizer without much discussion.

Enji helped out too, so even a cherry blossom viewing novice like me should manage somehow.

While I was researching “What is cherry blossom viewing?” online, Enji, sitting next to me, said, “Shou, you haven’t done cherry blossom viewing because you don’t have friends, huh?” mocking me without even realizing it.

So I retorted, “Then why don’t you plan everything?” But he really did end up planning everything, and I, the supposed organizer, just became a mere communicator.

It was Enji who decided the date and location, and he also informed me of what we might need. All I did was pass on what Enji told me to Hikaru and Kokoro-san. Can I really say I helped Kokoro-san with this?

“Shou, did you bring the leisure sheet?”

“Yeah, I brought it from home.”

“Thanks.”

None of the four of us had a leisure sheet, and buying one just for today seemed wasteful since it would hardly be used again. So, remembering that my granddad often went picnicking with grandma, I decided to borrow theirs.

When I went home after a long time, just as mom said, granddad was doing his explosive radio exercises in the garden. He’s really energetic.

“There are girls coming too, huh! Then I’ll lend you granddad’s special one!”

“I just need a normal one, ah, but if you have one big enough for four, that would be great.”

Granddad pulled out a huge leisure sheet from a bulging black bag. It was a character sheet, maybe a panda, bear, or dog, hard to tell. It was embarrassing, but no choice.

“This is granddad’s special one. It’s the only one that’s big enough for four. Use this and have fun, Shou.”

He gave a thumbs-up, showing off his surprisingly neat white teeth despite his age, and winked.

I’ve been close to granddad since I was a kid, almost like friends.

Granddad is very stingy, he never gave me New Year’s money, and for birthdays, even when I was in high school, he gave me pretty stones from the riverbed or acorns from the park. I kept telling him I was too old for that stuff.

When I first brought Hikaru home, granddad was crying.

Not because he was sad about me growing apart from him, but out of gratitude towards Hikaru for choosing me and being moved by my growth, as grandma later told me. He claimed he was crying because he “chopped onions,” but that’s impossible because onions make you cry, not carrots.

Occasionally, going back home isn’t so bad.

After all, I chose a university within commuting distance from home, but granddad rented my current apartment for me to be independent, making him sometimes lonely. Now and then, he sends me awkwardly translated English text messages on LINE. I wish he’d let his grandson be more independent.

“This is the town where Shou grew up, huh? There’s nothing here.”

While I was reminiscing internally as I walked down the streets of my hometown, Enji teased me without malice. He’s like that sometimes.

“Shut up, you chose this place.”

“Well, it was a good halfway point for Hikaru and Hatsune, and the riverbank here is a popular cherry blossom spot.”

“You just admitted there’s a cherry blossom spot after saying there’s nothing here. Apologize.”

“You’re so petty, aren’t you afraid of being disliked?”

“Shut up, there are plenty of things on the main street, like eateries and karaoke. There are even three karaoke spots just in this town, so everyone here is good at singing.”

“Shou good at singing? That’s definitely a lie.”

“I’m the exception.”

“So you admit you’re bad.”

While we were chatting like this, I saw someone running towards us in a flustered yet apologetic manner, attracting the gaze of men around her. It was Kokoro-san.

“Sorry for keeping you waiting…!”

Kokoro-san arrived, panting, her light pink dress fluttering.

From her hairstyle to her dress, she was like the embodiment of men’s ideals.

“You didn’t need to hurry; we’re still five minutes early.”

“Shou is being considerate…!”

“I can do this much, okay!?”

Kokoro-san showed a face I hadn’t seen recently, similar to when we first met. I could feel her nervousness.

I hate to admit it, but Enji is handsome.

He’s tall, over 180 cm, with a good style. He’s a glittering boy with fashionable clothes, hair, and a clean, neat appearance.

It’s natural for her to be more nervous around him than me, but it’s frustrating.

“Hello, Kokoro-san. I’m Ichinose Enji.”

“Hello…! I’m Hatsune Kokoro…”

“Do you remember me? I talked to you once at university.”

“I remember…!”

“Great, I’m glad. Looking forward to today.”

“Y-Yes…! Thank you…!”

Her stuttering was pretty bad.

“Just waiting for Hikaru now, but she’s always late, so let’s spread out the leisure sheet and sit.”

“Typical, the ex knows the ex-girlfriend’s habits. Ah, sorry.”

Enji quickly realized he might have said something inappropriate to Kokoro-san, but it was fine.

“No, I’ve told her.”

“Oh, really… I was careless.”

I’ve talked to Kokoro-san about Hikaru.

About her being my ex-girlfriend, about our occasional meetings since our reunion, and that I might still have some lingering feelings.

“Well, just waiting for the habitually late Hikaru now…”

“Don’t treat me like I’m always late!”

Turning towards the voice, I saw Hikaru standing there, dressed in a spring-like outfit, looking defiant.

She was wearing a band collar white shirt tucked into black leather shorts and black leather boots, topped with a black waistcoat. A neatly dressed woman.

I was momentarily captivated by her slender, white thighs, but she caught my brief glance and gave me a “don’t you dare look” glare with her eyes. I didn’t mean to stare; it just caught my eye.

“Long time no see, Enji.”

“Yeah, it’s been a while.”

After greeting Enji, Hikaru shifted her gaze to Kokoro-san.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Takamiya Hikaru. We’re the same age, right? Just call me Hikaru.”

She smiled warmly at Kokoro-san, a smile she no longer showed me.

“Nice to meet you…! I’m Hatsune Kokoro. Thank you for coming out today for me…!”

“No worries, I’ve been curious about you since Shou told me. Let’s get along.”

“Yes! Looking forward to it…!”

“Ahaha, you can speak informally with me.”

Hikaru closed the distance with Kokoro-san in an instant, embracing her right arm.

“Uh, okay.”

Kokoro-san seemed to be relaxing a bit now.

Somehow, I felt both happy and a bit sad seeing her make new friends. It was like watching a grandchild grow up, the kind of feeling a grandfather might have. I wonder if that’s how granddad felt.

“Let’s split into two groups: one for reserving the spot and the other for shopping! We’ll decide with rock-paper-scissors!”

Since Kokoro-san barely knew the others, I wanted to stay with her if possible. Our eyes met, and I made a fist to signal ‘rock’ and closed my eyelids tightly to show her.

But Kokoro-san tilted her head, not understanding my sign…

“So, Shou and I will do the shopping, and you two can stay and reserve the spot. It’s better since the stuff might be heavy, and it works out well.”

Enji and I then set off for the nearby supermarket. I had to get back quickly; otherwise, I worried Kokoro-san wouldn’t be able to relax. With these thoughts and a pun in my heart, I left her with Enji and started walking.

******

“Can I call you ‘Kokoro-chan’?”

I pride myself on being able to get along with anyone. But that’s just a skill; it doesn’t mean I want to be friends with everyone. I certainly don’t want to be friends with people I dislike, and I don’t bother talking to people I’m not interested in.

But I’m confident.

When Shou asked me to be friends with his friend, I thought it would be interesting, especially since it was rare for Shou to have a female friend. That’s why I agreed, and I didn’t find it troublesome at all.

I had heard she was shy, but it was more than I expected. Yet, she was desperately trying to communicate and bond, which I found incredibly admirable.

She’s a nice and cute girl… someone I want to protect.

“Yeah, and I’d like to call you ‘Hikaru-chan’… Is that okay?”

“Of course it is. You know, Kokoro-chan, you look like an idol. Your face is so small! I was surprised at how cute you are when I first saw you.”

“No, that’s not true…”

“You’re slim and have a great figure. I’m jealous.”

“Hikaru-chan has bigger breasts and is beautiful… I’m jealous. Oh, sorry for suddenly talking about bodies…”

I was aware my chest was larger than most.

Most men tend to glance at my chest instead of my eyes when talking, and even female friends would touch them, calling them comforting.

“Having these is just a nuisance, you know? They make me look fat, hurt when I run, and limit my clothing choices. Kokoro-chan, your clothes are so cute. You’re idol-like with your face, clothes, and beautiful hair. Shou is lucky to have a friend like you.”

Honestly, she might be the cutest girl I’ve ever seen, maybe even cuter than a real idol.

Most importantly, there’s this aura about her.

It’s hard to explain, but it invokes a protective instinct.

I almost drooled over such a beautiful girl, wondering when I became such a lecherous old man.

“Can I ask you for a favor?”

“Of course, if there’s anything I can do…”

“Can I pat your head?”

“Huh…!?”

Before waiting for her response, my hand was already reaching for the top of Kokoro-chan’s head.

Ah, what’s with this girl, I like her. She’s cute.

She was shy, and when I asked to pat her, she hesitated but then tilted her head, making it easier for me. Now she’s closing her eyes, a mix of confusion and contentment on her face.

Men around the world must be captivated by Kokoro-chan.

The other cherry blossom viewers, especially the men, were looking our way. Serves them right, she’s mine now.

I wonder if Shou isn’t falling for such a cute girl.

He said they were just friends, but is that really true?

Maybe he’s already fallen for her but just isn’t saying it.

Considering she’s an ex-girlfriend, it would be harder to confess. It’s highly likely.

In fact, it’s strange not to be smitten by such cuteness. But considering Shou’s lack of interest in romance, it’s not impossible.

I wonder what made him like me in the first place. If I ask now, he probably won’t answer, and I’m too embarrassed to ask anyway.

I did ask him a few weeks ago what he liked about me, but it was embarrassing to hear, especially when he noticed things I wasn’t even aware of.

“Seriously, jumping the last two steps of the stairs? How much are you watching me, that’s creepy… Idiot.”

“Um…”

While I was stroking Kokoro-chan’s head, lost in thought, she looked up at me with those big, adorable eyes. She’s too cute.

But my hand, which had been enjoying petting her, had had its fill. It might have been my imagination, but the hand I’d been petting her with seemed to be sparkling.

Ah, it’s not my hand that’s sparkling. It’s Kokoro-chan, who’s so close that she nearly fills my entire field of vision, shining brightly.

“Sorry, I got carried away!”

“It’s, it’s okay…”

Shou had said Kokoro-chan was just a friend. I don’t know his true feelings, but I wonder what Kokoro-chan thinks of Shou as a man.

Maybe I’m biased as an ex-girlfriend, but I think Shou is a good guy. Despite his awkward and unfriendly demeanor, he’s actually kind and caring. So, it wouldn’t be strange if Kokoro-chan fell for him… I think.

After breaking up with Shou, I hadn’t fallen for anyone else. Probably even if I hadn’t had lingering feelings for Shou, it would have been the same. I guess I’m not the type to fall easily.

“Kokoro-chan, you and Shou met through Connect, right?”

“Yeah, we just happened to be sitting next to each other when we matched… It’s amazing, isn’t it…”

I had heard she was Shou’s only friend, and they spoke to each other in formal language, so it’s natural she wasn’t used to speaking informally.

She probably doesn’t speak formally with her family… but then again, if she’s some incredibly sheltered young lady, it might be possible.

Calling her parents “Mother” and “Father”… maybe even having an elderly butler she calls “Jiiya.”

Her demeanor and actions make it seem possible. In fact, now it seems almost likely.

“Shou recently said he hasn’t matched with anyone else but us on Connect, isn’t that incredible? His ex-girlfriend and the girl next to him.”

“It really is incredible…”

Honestly, I’m curious how Kokoro-chan feels about Shou.

“Truthfully, what do you think of Shou?”

The question slipped out before I realized it.

I wouldn’t know what to do if she said, “I like him,” and I hadn’t intended to ask. Especially not so bluntly…

I still can’t see Shou as just an ex-boyfriend.

He had been someone special to me for over three years, and since reuniting, my feelings have become even more unclear.

After we broke up, it was always painful. I never thought that time without Shou (藤ヶ谷 翔) would be this hard.

But I thought that over time, I would surely forget him. Or maybe, I could overwrite my lingering feelings for Shou with a new romance. Despite thinking this way…

I ended up reuniting with Shou through Connect, which I started in order to forget him.

In my current complex state of mind, what would I do if Kokoro (初音 心) said she liked Shou?

Would I support her, help her, and give her advice while suppressing my own feelings?

Or would we become rivals, competing for him?

If that happened, I’m sure I would lose. After all, how could I win against someone as cute as Kokoro-chan?

That day, Shou and I apologized for our past. Things I couldn’t say back then, I finally managed to say that day.

So, I’ve thought several times since then whether there might be a chance for us to start over.

But, if Kokoro likes Shou, I won’t have the chance to confirm these half-hearted feelings.

Because their union would mean the loss of that opportunity.

Several seconds passed after my question.

Kokoro still hasn’t answered. She was silent, looking down… then, she raised her face and spoke.

“What do you mean…?”

“Like, what do you think of him as a boy?”

“…What should I think?”

“Oh, sorry! I asked something weird! By the way, what do you do on your days off?”

I changed the subject to further our friendship.

“Reading books, watching movies… I often go out with my mom…”

“Oh, really?”

I asked, but it took a while for Kokoro’s words to reach my brain. I was too flustered.

I didn’t intend to ask what she did on her days off, but before I knew it, I had asked.

In other words, I ran away.

“Shou-chan, it’s about time you take over.”

“It hasn’t even been a minute yet.”

“You heartless person~”

Enji (一ノ瀬 縁司), holding a bag with lots of drinks and some snacks, complained three steps behind me.

“You’re the one who lost at rock-paper-scissors, and it was your idea that the loser should carry the heavy bags. Got any more complaints?”

“…That’s why you have no friends…”

“Shut up, I do have friends! Besides, I like being alone!”

“Yeah, right, keep pretending.”

I want to smack this guy.

At the nearby supermarket, we bought everything Hikaru (高宮 光) and Kokoro had previously requested. Of course, that wasn’t all.

In the shopping cart I was pushing, Enji kept adding various things. I also put in items we’d likely need.

But all I added was a two-liter bottle of water, a two-liter bottle of tea, paper cups, chopsticks, and paper plates.

Thankfully, Kokoro-san had brought lunch boxes for all four of us.

The plan was to enjoy drinking together.

Kokoro-san had never drunk alcohol, so we needed to have other drinks in case she couldn’t handle it. Hence, I bought water and tea.

Enji took care of the alcohol, adding a variety to the cart, so there should be no shortage.

“Hey, you’re the one who put so much in there.”

“Yeah, but it’s heavy~”

“…”

Enji was holding the bag with water, tea, and some snacks in his right hand, and in his left, a ridiculously heavy bag of alcohol.

I stepped back to his right side and grabbed the bag.

“I’ll carry this one since it’s what I chose.”

“Shou-chan…!”

“But you’re on your own with the other one. You definitely don’t need that much. Carry it yourself.”

“Shou-chan, I’m so touched…!”

“Am I your mother?”

Despite carrying half of his load, Enji’s complaints continued. Ignoring him, I saw Hikaru and Kokoro-san sitting on a leisure sheet.

“Hey, Enji.”

“Yeah, they seem to be having a lot of fun…”

From a distance, it was clear that the two had hit it off well.

I had left the introverted Kokoro-san with the stranger Hikaru and hurried back, leaving complaining Enji behind. I was relieved to see there was no need to worry, but also felt a bit sad.

It was as if… my own child had flown the nest. Kokoro-san managed to communicate without me… A feeling close to jealousy arose.

“Hey hey, sorry for the wait~ Shou-chan made me carry everything halfway, it was tough~”

“Shou, you devil.”

“Kakeru-san, that’s harsh…”

“No, no! It was Enji who said the one who lost at rock-paper-scissors should carry! It’s true!”

“Shou-chan, desperate defense, huh~ But everyone knows that. They’re just teasing.”

“Haha, Shou, you’re so desperate.”

“Hehe.”

“Even Kokoro-san…”

These three seem to be teasing in perfect unison without any prior arrangement.

It’s annoying, but I’m relieved that I, being the only common acquaintance, don’t have to work hard to liven things up.

After spreading out the contents of the bags, we distributed what everyone needed, and it was finally time for Kokoro-san’s long-awaited lunch box.

“I hope it’s to your taste…”

Like before, she cautiously presented the already opened lunch box.

This time, it wasn’t sandwiches.

She must have taken care not to repeat what we had eaten together last time.

One tier of the large three-tier lunch box contained simple rice balls wrapped in seaweed in a barrel shape. The other two tiers were filled with side dishes that seemed to go well with rice.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette), sausages, kinpira gobo (sautéed burdock root), asparagus wrapped in bacon, karaage (fried chicken), isobe-age (seaweed-wrapped fried fish cake), broccoli.

I wondered if Hikaru would feel despondent seeing all this, realizing the gap between her cooking and this. But when I looked, she already had an onigiri in her left hand and tamagoyaki in her right.

“Mmm! Kokoro-chan, you’re a genius! This is three-star quality!”

“We get back and you’re already eating?”

“Well, you guys were late. I just couldn’t stop after one bite. Kokoro-chan’s cooking is too good.”

“Well, that’s true but…”

My comment made both Hikaru and Enji look at me in surprise.

“You’ve eaten her cooking before…?”

“Ah… yeah, just once.”

“Hmm.”

Why are you two so in sync?

Kokoro-san blushed and looked down, though I couldn’t see her face, her ears were very red, probably her face too. Why, though?

“By the way, the drinks! Enji picked out a variety, so everyone just grab what you like.”

“I’ll take this one! Chuhai with cassis flavor.”

“I’ll have a highball. Shou, you’re a beer guy, right? Here.”

“Thanks. What about you, Kokoro-san? We also bought water and tea, and there’s a vending machine nearby, so don’t push yourself.”

“Yes… but, I’d like to try something.”

“Then I’ll pick for you!”

Hikaru put her hand on Kokoro-san’s shoulder, leaning in and pulling out a few bottles.

“These are probably the easiest to drink.”

“Um… I can’t do carbonated drinks…”

“Oh, you can’t? Then these are out.”

Yeah, that’s very Kokoro-san-like.

Being sensitive to carbonation is just as I expected.

If Hikaru didn’t know that, she still has a lot to learn about Kokoro-san. This confirms I know her better.

I’ve known her longer, after all.

“This looks good…”

“Hey, that’s liquor. Are you sure?”

Kokoro-san chose a bottle labeled “Mandarin Orange Liquor,” with an alcohol content of seven percent. I thought it might be safer to start with the three percent Chuhai.

“That one, I picked it because I wanted to drink it. But you can have it on the rocks; I brought ice.”

Enji took out a ziplock bag of ice from his cooler. To dilute the alcohol as much as possible, it’s better to have it with water or soda, but Kokoro-san can’t handle carbonation, so it’s just water.

“How about it? If you can’t drink it, I’ll finish it. Why don’t you try?”

“Yes, thank you, Hikaru-chan.”

“Alright, I’ll pour it for you.”

The atmosphere between them had completely changed since before we went to the supermarket.

When did they get so close?

There’s no room for me anymore, and soon Kokoro-san might say, “I’ll be having lunch with Hikaru-chan from now on.”

But still…

“Dufufu~ Seeing girls getting along is a treat for the eyes~”

Enji whispered in my ear with a creepy voice.

“Ah, the joy of seeing such a yuri couple is exhilarating─ Ow!”

“Don’t whisper creepy things in a creepy voice.”

“Shou, you were drooling over them, so I thought I’d speak for you! Ow, ow!”

I pulled his ear up.

“I wasn’t thinking anything like that, and I wasn’t drooling.”

“Liar! I could hear your heart’s desire spilling out!”

Fortunately, Hikaru and Kokoro-san didn’t seem to hear what Enji whispered and looked at us confusedly.

Good thing Kokoro-san didn’t get exposed to that weird world.

“Alright, I’m hungry. Kokoro-san, let’s eat.”

“…Please go ahead.”

“I’ll have some too.”

Kokoro-san’s three-tiered lunch box, quite voluminous, was completely emptied in just thirty minutes.

Kokoro-san experienced her first drinking session under our watchful eyes. She praised the taste, exclaiming, “Incredible… delicious…!” It didn’t seem to make her feel sick or dizzy.

For now, I was relieved.

“I’m going to use the restroom.”

Feeling the urge to pee, I left those words behind and headed towards a nearby convenience store.

It seemed Kokoro-san was getting along well with both Hikaru and Enji, which was a relief. Honestly, I thought it would be awkward to have my ex-girlfriend Hikaru and another girl together, but they had become friends before I knew it, and my worries were unnecessary.

Though Kokoro-san still seemed a bit distant from Enji, I bet he would soon win her over like a dog wagging its tail, eager to be friends. Damn him, I can’t stand it.

Feeling bad about just using the restroom, I remembered I was almost out of toothpaste and bought some before leaving the convenience store.

It was only a five-minute walk back to the riverside where we were cherry blossom viewing, and soon I could see the trio from about fifty meters away. Enji, noticing me, waved his hands enthusiastically and simultaneously dropped his highball, drenching his clothes.

“Is he already drunk?”

Enji didn’t seem particularly weak to alcohol. In fact, when we drank together, he didn’t appear to be a lightweight.

But if he’s that tipsy, he must have drunk a fair amount or perhaps got overly excited and dropped his highball.

“Hey, isn’t that Kakeru?”

From under a gazebo on the riverside, someone called out to me by chance.

“Oh, Kaede? It’s been a while… well, actually, was it last week? Or the week before last? Or even the week before that?”

“Sounds like a Radwimps song.”

“Ahaha, nice retort, Kakeru.”

What a weird person.

Kaede, unsteady on her feet, came closer to me and casually put her arm around my shoulder.

Uh, her chest is… touching me. And what’s this nice smell?

“Kaede, why are you here?”

“Oh, I’m doing cherry blossom viewing with my workmates. What about you, Kakeru?”

I had a rough idea since the people behind her were of mixed ages, probably her coworkers, and I assumed she was “Hiyori Kaede.”

But most of her coworkers were men, and they all seemed to be staring, or rather glaring, at me.

“I’m here with friends. And are you okay? You smell of alcohol and your face is red. You should stop drinking after what happened…”

“It’s fine! Oh, and my real name’s not Kaede but Fū, Hiyori Fū. Nice to meet you.”

“Fū-san, huh? And I’m not Kakeru but Shou, Fujigaya Shou.”

“Shou-kun, huh? Nice name. Cool guy, this guy~!”

Stop elbowing me. It doesn’t hurt but it’s annoying. And the stares from your coworkers are scary.

They probably all like Fū-san. She must be like the princess of their circle – cute, affable, and with a close distance, leading to misunderstandings.

“I’ve been curious about something for a while, can I ask?”

She said this right into my ear. Actually, she’s too close altogether.

She probably thinks it’s a normal question, but the glares from the guys behind us suggest I should keep some distance.

Her whisper tickles my ear, and she smells nice…

I carefully create some space before responding.

“What is it?”

“Why are you carrying toothpaste?”

She could’ve asked that without getting so close.

“I borrowed the restroom at the convenience store, so I bought some. I was running out.”

“Ooh, I thought maybe you were planning to kiss a girl.”

That made me think of Hikaru and Kokoro-san. Why? I’m not in any kind of relationship where kissing them would be appropriate.

“No, that’s not it.”

“Oh? Maybe I guessed right?”

“You didn’t! I’m going back!”

And so, I left the spot as if escaping.

“I’ll come hang out with you guys later~”

“Don’t!”

“Che~”

Even if I went, the other three would be bewildered. I’ve always thought this, but Kaede-san (日和 楓) is definitely a natural airhead. It’s obvious from the way she talks.

“What, someone you know?”

“Just a bit.”

Asked by Hikaru (高宮 光), Kaede-san’s words echo in my mind.

──I thought you were about to kiss a girl or something.

“Definitely not!”

“What’s not?”

“…Nothing.”

“You’re weird.”

Hikaru doesn’t seem to be too drunk yet.

I was worried about Kokoro-san (初音 心), but she seems surprisingly good with alcohol. She’s handling it well. But this guy, who I thought would be the strongest…

“Shou-chan, you’re taking so long! Talking with acquaintances? That’s not like you~”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Shou-chan, even if you bump into a classmate you haven’t seen in a while, you pretend not to notice and just walk by. You’re such a loner~”

That’s true, but it’s annoying.

“Ouch!”

As I sat down on the leisure sheet, I stepped on the annoying Enji’s (一ノ瀬 縁司) foot.

After a while of drinking with the four of us, my phone rang.

“A message from Kaede-san.”

“…?”

A message from Kaede-san, who should be about fifty meters away.

It would be like Kaede-san to message because it’s too much trouble to walk over, but it’s a distance that could easily be covered on foot.

Thinking this, I looked towards the gazebo where Kaede-san had been. But instead, she was hiding in the shadow of a tree about ten meters away, watching this way.

What is she doing?

I decided to check the message.

“Come here for a sec.”

At the same time as I received the message, Kaede-san, who was in my line of sight, beckoned me over.

“Sorry, I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Where are you going?”

Enji, his face now completely red, looked up at me as I stood up.

“To the bathroom.”

Somehow, Kaede-san’s gestures and expressions, the atmosphere… It felt like she didn’t want the other three to know, like she was secretly asking me to come over.

So, I said that, even though I didn’t really need to go,

“Shou-chan, you go to the bathroom a lot. Soon you’ll be playing gateball or something. Pfft! Grandpa Shou!”

Annoying.

In times like this, the best is to ignore Enji because responding is exactly what he wants.

Ignoring Enji, I went over to where Kaede-san was.

“What’s wrong?”

Kaede-san had an expression I had never seen before.

The fluffy, blushed cheeks from before were gone, now she seemed a bit pale.

“Um, the boy with Shou-kun… could it be, Enji Ichinose?”

A surprising name came out of Kaede-san’s mouth.

But, if it’s Enji, it wouldn’t be strange for him to have acquaintances around. That guy makes friends with anyone.

“Yeah, why? Do you know him?”

“Is, is that so… He’s here…”

My question didn’t seem to reach her; she was clearly disturbed. It’s not just a mere acquaintance.

Could it be, maybe an ex-girlfriend…?

Enji had mentioned before that he had never fallen in love, and I had never heard any stories about his romantic life.

He often talks about things I never ask about, and I thought I knew almost everything about his personal life. Yet, I’ve never heard him mention anything about love. Could it be I’m just overthinking?

“So, what? Do you know them?”

“Uh, yeah… We’ve known each other since childhood. But, please don’t mention that we met… to them.”

“Okay, I guess.”

It’s strange to be so flustered just because they’re from the same hometown. There must be another reason, but it feels inappropriate to ask. I’m curious, though.

“What’s your relationship with Ichinose-kun?”

Ichinose’s nickname must be “Itchy,” derived from ‘Ichinose.’

“We’re at the same university, work the same part-time job, and live in the same apartment building. All by coincidence.”

“That’s amazing, huh? So, you’re friends?”

Friends, huh?

I’ve never explicitly said that to Enji. I can’t just say, “We’re friends, right?” It’s too embarrassing.

But well, I guess we’re friends. Annoying as he is.

“Are you and Ichinose-kun… like, dating?”

“No, it’s not like that. …Why don’t you suspect that I might have a girlfriend?”

“Eh, but you’re on Connect, right…? Wait, are you cheating?”

“Ah, I see. No, it’s not like that. I thought you were mocking me.”

“You’re good-looking, Shou. It seems normal for you to have a girlfriend.”

Being told that so naturally makes me blush.

“Why are you blushing? That’s cute.”

“It’s the alcohol!”

Being teased is annoying, but I’m relieved to see Fū-san back to her usual self.

“Hey, Shou.”

“…?”

“Is Ichinose-kun doing well here?”

A strange question. It’s like a mother worrying about her child.

Of course, Fū-san is the same age as me, and so is Enji. She can’t be a mother. Not siblings either, given they’re the same age.

Twins, perhaps?

No, the surnames are different, and they don’t look alike.

I can’t help it. I decided not to ask, but it’s bothering me.

“Why are you concerned about that?”

“Eh, why…?”

“If you’re curious, why not ask him directly? If it’s awkward because it’s been a while, I can mediate.”

Fū-san seemed to contemplate for a moment but then shook her head.

“No, I don’t want to meet Ichinose-kun. …I was just about to forget…”

She murmured almost inaudibly, a whisper, but I heard it.

It feels like looking at myself from a little while ago.

“Forget…?”

“…Nothing, I’m sorry. See you later.”

She seemed to escape, as if to avoid being questioned further.

I’ve only known Fū-san for a short time, but I could tell that expression and tone of voice were not her usual. She always seemed carefree, the type who wouldn’t seriously worry or ponder over anything. That was my impression.

But this time was different.

That expression, that tone of voice, they were things I knew all too well.

I had been trying to forget. What was it, you ask? It was obviously about Enji (一ノ瀬 縁司), as one could easily tell from the flow of the conversation.

Enji had easily seen through my lingering feelings for Hikaru (高宮 光), but perhaps I was also this transparent.

I wonder what Kaede-san (日和 楓) thinks of Enji. Enji’s feelings are even more elusive.

He never talks about such things.

After parting ways with Kaede-san, who had run off toward the gazebo, I returned to the trio.

“Hey Shou, isn’t Enji pretty much done for? Look at him.”

Hikaru pointed to Enji, who was slumped over, groaning.

“Enji, you can’t handle your liquor, huh… surprising. Are you okay, Kokoro-san (初音 心)?”

“Yes, surprisingly… I’m okay.”

“Why don’t the two of us take care of Enji-kun and send him home?”

“Yeah, that sounds good…”

Normally, with a group like ours today, the two guys would split up to escort the others home. But why am I the one dealing with Enji…? Well, he’s completely wasted, so it can’t be helped.

“Then, I’ll take him home, but are you two going to stay here?”

“We’ll take care of cleaning up, it’s fine. I want to talk to Kokoro-chan a bit more.”

“…thanks.”

Hikaru and Kokoro-san’s conversation… what is it about? It’s really intriguing. But they seem to be getting along just fine, so maybe it’s just small talk.

“For the leisure sheet and stuff… well, I’ll find a way to return it.”

“Got it. Then, sorry to ask, but I’m counting on you. See you again, Kokoro-san.”

“Yes…!”

Hikaru seems to understand everything I’m thinking.

As expected from someone I’ve known for over three years. He even anticipated the clean-up before I mentioned it.

The cherry blossom viewing ended after about three hours. It might have lasted longer if Enji hadn’t passed out.

I helped Enji to a taxi and headed for our apartment. Saying it like this makes it sound like we live together, which is kind of creepy.

On the taxi ride home, Kaede-san’s expression when she left kept lingering in my mind.

“Today was fun. I got to be friends with Kokoro-chan, so I’ll let you know.”

I received a LINE message from Hikaru when we arrived at the apartment.

It seems Kokoro-san had no trouble getting along with Hikaru, even though they just met. It was obvious to anyone watching.

I probably accomplished what Kokoro-san had asked me to do, as she seemed to get along even better with Hikaru than with me.

“Enji, I’ll leave some water here for you.”

Even after arriving at the apartment in the taxi, Enji was still out of it.

I carried him on my back to the elevator, only to find it out of order. Thankfully, Enji lives on the second floor, but our building has five floors. I probably wouldn’t have managed past the third.

Now, I’m sitting beside Enji’s bed where he’s sleeping, taking a break.

“Shou-chan, I’m sorry. I got a bit too excited.”

“Just drink some water. Let me know if you need to throw up, I’ve left a bag here.”

“Thanks.”

This might be the first time I’ve seen Enji so weak.

He’s always been so easygoing, calm and composed. He never shows this side of him.

“Today, I asked you to come, so I’ll do this much. You tried to liven things up in your own way, and made sure Kokoro-san had fun, right?”

Enji is a meddlesome guy.

He likes making people happy, and I think that’s one of his best qualities.

Though I’d never admit it to him – too embarrassing.

“Shou-chan, you really have changed.”

“…Changed how?”

“Until a little while ago, you seemed like a boring person, but you changed since reuniting with Hikaru-chan.”

“Boring? Are you teasing me again?”

“No, no. Not that you’re boring, but that you were living your life in a boring way.”

“Confusing. Thought you were teasing me like usual.”

But indeed, that was true.

Before reuniting with Hikaru, every day was dull. It’s not like I had nothing to do, with university assignments and part-time work, but still, I was bored.

Life was monotonous: wake up, go to school, come back, do assignments, eat, and sleep. On weekends, I’d either work or laze around at home, fiddling with my smartphone or reading.

But recently, that’s changed. Something inside me must have shifted.

“It’s kind of enviable. I wish I could feel that way too.”

“You seem to be enjoying every day. You have lots of friends, and you go out a lot on your days off. I think your life is fulfilling when I see your Instagram posts.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Enji’s expression seemed pained, despite his ability to converse easily. Now that I think about it, I’ve seen this expression before.

I shouldn’t be familiar with Enji’s gloomy look, yet why does it feel so familiar?

“What? Stop staring at me like that. It makes me feel shy.”

Enji’s rare expression caused me to gaze at him intently, making him blush and avert his eyes with a heroine-like gesture.

But thanks to that, I realized.

This expression wasn’t just familiar. It was the same as mine a little while ago.

And not just that, it was the same as Fū’s when we parted ways.

“Enji, you said you’ve never been in love before, right?”

“Eh… yeah. But don’t get the wrong idea! You’ve been looking at me like that… Are you thinking I like guys!?”

“No way, I’ll knock you out!!”

“Sorry, sorry… Why are you asking that?”

I turned away from Enji, leaning my back against the side of the bed.

I feel it’s easier to talk without making eye contact when you want someone to open up. It’s easier for me, and it feels somewhat embarrassing to discuss these things with Enji.

“Isn’t that a lie?”

“Why would you think that?”

“Just a hunch.”

Enji sighed as if giving up on something, then sat up on the bed and started talking.

“You’re sharp sometimes, Shou. You’re usually oblivious.”

“You’re making fun of me, aren’t you?”

“Sorry, sorry… You know, I’ve liked someone for a long time. From elementary to high school, twelve years. We were always close, but one day, she started avoiding me. Realizing she hated me was incredibly painful, and I tried to forget her. But our hometown was filled with memories of her, and I couldn’t forget, so I ran away to Kobe.”

Right now, Enji is vulnerable.

People tend to act out of character when they’re weak, unable to make normal judgments.

I’m using this to hear things Enji wouldn’t normally talk about, and despite feeling guilty, my curiosity prevails.

I don’t usually take such an interest in others, but I’m curious about Enji’s past.

Is it because, as Fū said, we’re friends?

“What was she like, this girl?”

“Hmm, she was fluffy but had strong opinions and was quite stubborn. She seemed carefree but thought about everything more than anyone and never spared any effort behind the scenes. She was that kind of girl.”

She sounds just like Fū.

Enji easily talked about the girl as if it were yesterday’s events. Perhaps I was the same before reuniting with Hikaru.

I could recall my days with Hikaru as if they were yesterday. From the day we parted, it felt like time had stopped.

“Do you still like her?”

“No way. I haven’t seen her in two years, right?”

Right. I thought the same.

I hadn’t seen her for a year, so there’s no way I still liked her.

I loved her, but she didn’t feel the same, I thought, and didn’t confirm those feelings.

“Let’s say, just hypothetically…”

“?”

“If you knew she liked you, what would you do?”

As I turned around, Enji was smiling faintly.

“That’s impossible.”

He never revealed his feelings till the end.

When I returned to my room after a short break, Enji seemed much more relaxed. A few minutes after I got back, a notification popped up on my phone. It was from Fū.

“I have a favor to ask of you, Shou, is that okay?”

Her message was hesitant. I had a hunch about what the favor was.

If it was what I was thinking, my response was already decided.

“What’s the favor?”

“I was wondering if you could arrange a meeting between me and Itchy?”

As I expected.

Then, my answer was clear.

I think the person Enji has liked for so long is probably Fū.

And Fū’s reaction clearly shows she doesn’t just see Enji as a mere classmate.

So, like Enji did for me and Hikaru, I should create a chance for them.

When Enji canceled dinner plans to let Hikaru and me meet, it led to where I am now.

Then, it’s my turn now.

I’ll connect Fū and Enji. But beyond that, it’s their issue.

I can’t and won’t interfere.

If Enji has regretted it for two years, he should be able to speak his mind. He’s not as stubborn as me, so it should be fine.

“Okay. I’ll let you know the place and time later.”

I decided to arrange their reunion.

But as I made my decision, I felt a sense of incongruity.

It’s the first time I’ve done something like this for a friend.

Enji always teases me, and honestly, it often annoys me. But I owe him for what he did during my time with Hikaru, so yeah, it makes sense.

I’m just returning the favor he did for me.

📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.
I Reunited with my Ex-Girlfriend on a Dating App

I Reunited with my Ex-Girlfriend on a Dating App

I Reunited with my Ex-Girlfriend on a Dating App, マッチングアプリで元恋人と再会した。, 在交友軟體上與前任重逢了。
Score 9
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Artist: Released: 2022 Native Language: Japanese
No matter what happens, they are still attracted to each other!The newest student romcom connected thanks to a dating app!A friend recommended me a dating app. However, the person I met was actually my own ex-girlfriend, Takamiya Hikari!And what’s even weirder is that I was also matched with a beautiful girl from the same university as me, Hatsune Shin!Who should I date?With my old love or with my new love?

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