* 24 *

So - that's how Operation Take Back My Girlfriend began.
Or to put it more bluntly, my plan to murder my doppelganger.

Now, if I were caught after murdering Tokiwa, it would all be for naught.
To ensure this murder would be the perfect crime, I first began to stalk him.
I tailed him for days on end, believing the perfect moment for me to actually kill him would someday appear.

The method I desired was to push him from somewhere high up, to make it look like an accident.
Yes, I sought a death so believably natural that in a few years' time, even I who'd carried it out would be thinking "That was an accident, wasn't it?"
Of course, you always hear about people who do bad things getting arrested because of one little slip-up.
But what I think is, that doesn't happen because they dropped their guard. It happens because the person actually thinks "I should've been arrested."
That guilty thought consumes them until they feel like "it'd be easier if I were arrested," and that leads to a slip-up.

So just like I said, it was ideal that I went with a method that weakened the feeling that "I killed him" to keep that from happening.
And at least speaking for my first-life self, I loved spacing out and watching the scenery on bridges, viewing platforms, rooftops, all kinds of high-up places.
So, you know, if he was on a bridge with nobody around and no railing, gazing off ahead of him, I could sneak up and grab his legs, then push him right off.
I didn't know what kind of equipment the police had those days, but even if by some chance they noticed anything unnatural about his corpse, as long not a single hair, fiber from my clothes, or fingerprint could be found on the body, I thought I'd be okay.

All I had to do was keep waiting patiently for a fortunate moment. I couldn't just make an opportunity here, I had to wait for it.
No buts about it, I'm not the kind of person who can flex their wits to deceive the police. No matter how tight-lipped I tried to be, it was inevitable I'd make some mistake.
So I just had to count on luck.

And fortunately, I did have plenty of time. Had this been before the festival day, I might have been a little more impatient.
I may have even killed Tokiwa before he crossed that final line. Man, I'm really glad it didn't come to that.

Tailing him wasn't particularly hard to do. Since Tokiwa was so remarkably identical to my first self, I could easily predict his actions.
I bet he'll go here next, he's probably going to leave soon - I recognized those kinds of things plain as day.
And really, you're not going to notice you're being tailed if you're not someone who looks behind themselves a lot.

Now when you hear me talk about "tailing" my target, you're probably imagining this to play out like some hard-boiled private detective story. Well, I'm gonna have to let you down there.
In actuality, it was all boredom and inconvenience. Even if my target did have some big secret he was hiding, he was still just a student.
Plus, the times I could follow him in assured safety were limited. So my primary job was just... waiting.
Primarily, waiting for Tokiwa to come by and settle himself somewhere. He'd get suspicious if he saw me, obviously.
I'd once had a part-time job counting people who boarded and got off the train, and that felt more worthwhile than this.

The funny thing is, though, I was going out more frequently for the sake of stalking Tokiwa, which soon ended up curing me as a shut-in.
Of course, maybe it wasn't that severe a case to begin with.

Ironically, my personality brightened for a while after getting the idea of murder.
I went to old clothes stores for changes of clothes to help with stalking, I studied up on tailing techniques from books and the web, I memorized city maps...
It was all just little stuff coming together, but maybe it had a good effect on my brain.
It hadn't had much in the way of stimuli before, but now it was starting to get a good workout with all that info.

I suppose it was good to have a clear idea of what I wanted to do. Even if my objective was murder, at least I was working toward something - it had a positive effect.
The look of my face even started to gradually improve as a result. I rarely looked in the mirror after getting to college, so I never noticed the change at first.
But when my sister pointed it out, and I took a good look in the mirror, I did notice how I looked a little more cheery...

Ah, that's right. I've completely forgotten to talk about my sister. Maybe I should've brought it up earlier.
My sister, she'd undergone changes about as drastic as my own.
From a certain perspective, I made her suffer more than anyone else.

Chapter 25

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