* 29 *

I wanted to settle this doppelganger problem within the year.
The longer I let it go on, the harder it would be to execute.

In addition, if I could kill Tokiwa before December, they wouldn't get to spend Christmas and New Year's together.
No doubt, if those joyful days came along and I was reminded of how my first-life self and Tsugumi spent them, I would be hit with the worst depression of all.
I wanted to avoid that if at all possible.

And it was hardly an impossible proposition. By now, with my daily tailing, I had a very good grasp on Tokiwa's daily rituals.
To be honest, I had long been in stellar condition to execute the plan. But a minimum of three times, I passed up a chance to kill him that had very little risk.

Just as I predicted, Tokiwa's habits were extremely similar to mine. He liked to look down from high places, so there were many times he stood on the bridge gazing at the river, or on steep roads down at the residential district at night.
In my opinion, it was almost like he was just asking to be killed. Maybe God was on my side at this point, I thought.
And yet I was simply unable to carry out the plan. Probably I couldn't make up my mind to take the plunge.

The thing is, there was one other thing I was after in tailing him. I wanted to see Tokiwa's faults.

I was waiting for him to show me some kind of defect.
To justify my actions, I wanted him to give me some reason, any reason to believe that he was someone who deserved to die.
If only I could find just the slightest reason why killing him was worth it.

But the trouble was, I went a whole month looking and looking, but he didn't show me a thing. Didn't even get haughty about his lack of faults.
I dunno if he was even conscious of it, but Tokiwa appeared to be very careful about how he presented himself.

Tokiwa's greatest weapons were a polished smile that immediately took down anyone's defenses and a harmonic voice that everyone wanted to listen to, yet he dared to keep them in check most of the time.
And at critical moments, he would bring them out in a very targeted way, leaving a deep impression on those around him.
Naturally, people took notice. But he never gave them time to get accustomed to that charm; he pulled it back before they did.
By doing this, he let people's imaginations swell, and they began to think that he had even more charm than he really had.

It was magnificent, honestly. It taught me that when you have visible charms, it's better to show them off from time to time like a reminder, rather than keep them on at full blast.
A useless technique for someone who doesn't have any charms, hidden or otherwise, though.

I hate to admit it, but he was one hell of a guy. Even with all my hate, I still held some esteem for him.
No doubt everyone else saw Tokiwa as a very charming individual.

Chapter 30

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