Evil Leader Next Door! Volume 1 Chapter 1 part 2

The invisible blades cut through flames, making their presence known as they approach. I release my power calmly. 
“Power of the trees, obstruct—Shelter Forrester!” 
Temporarily summoned trees protect us from the blades, shielding us, the city’s buildings, and the citizens. 
“Good job, Red! Don’t worry about collateral damage!” 
“Thanks! You’ve been getting a bit cocky lately!” 
Arriving are me and Red, dressed in a deep crimson color, and Green (me) in a different shade of green. 
The monster is a beetle-like creature with transparent blades, called KaburaBeet by the Banshokuger headquarters. It’s quite powerful, but by the time I arrived, Red had already dealt damage, and with my help, victory was certain. 
“Burning Finger!” 
Red, with flames forming a line of fingers, strikes the monster. 
“It was tough, but it’s over—burn!” 
Instantly, flames erupt from the monster’s eyes, mouth, and various parts of its body unable to withstand the internal pressure. 
“Flame Extinguish!” 
With Red’s roar, the flames are gathered into a pillar. Within it, the shadow disappears without a trace. 
It’s settled, although we just arrived. Red (and I) have grown significantly since our battle with Cleared. We don’t fall behind against somewhat strong enemies. 
“No giant form this time, huh?” 
“Our robot is still under repair, so it helps.” 
We confirm the defeat of the enemy, and both the flames and the trees disappear. We breathe out and shake hands. 
“Nice, Green. Thanks to you, I could go all out.” 
“Sure thing. You would’ve won even without me.” 
“I wonder. He was quite defensive.” 
As the winter sun began to set, a lively smile beneath the suit seemed to shine through the red hues, and I responded with a smile of my own. 
“Did we do it…?” I asked. “Phew, that was close.” 
Seemingly sensing the end of the battle, people from the town started to gather, their eyes locking onto us. 
“Oh, it’s the Banshokuger.” “Red and green, huh?” 
We were somewhat famous, exchanging knowing glances and awkward smiles. 
“Hey, Red is here!” “It’s Green!” “Seriously! Let’s get Red’s autograph!” “I saw the Burning Finger move! It was awesome!” 
The crowd’s attention gradually shifted towards us. I shrugged at Red, who looked around with a troubled expression. 
“The fate of being popular,” I commented. 
“Yeah, well… Can you help me out here? Oh, here they come.” 
The university student-like Red, who let out a pitiful voice, is immediately surrounded by people. Using him as bait, I quickly slip into the shadows and report the end of the operation. 
“Well, can’t be helped. Hang in there.” 
Among us, Red, who handles attacks and decisive moves, is clearly popular. It’s obvious even to outsiders that my role as support is more subdued. 
(Well, I guess I’m a little lonely too, and I wouldn’t mind a bit more attention…) 
I glance at the main street. There, a crowd is forming around the crimson figure. 
“But that level of popularity can be scary in its own way… I just want a moderate amount of attention.” 
I’m just a commoner, after all. I smile wryly, inform headquarters that they can pick me up early, and then disconnect the communication. 
Fighting and fighting, with no lover and not that much popularity. 
(Not that I’m fighting for that reason.) 
Becoming like the ideal hero, tirelessly fighting for justice, is not easy. Feeling not just physical exhaustion but also a weariness that comes from more than just labor, I lean against a building. 
“Maybe today I’ll just get a discounted bento from the supermarket…” 
Thinking about unheroic things, even though I’m supposed to be a hero, today’s battle is over. 


“─My husband passed away early. I live with my daughter now.” 
“Oh, I see. That’s… my condolences.” 
Several minutes later, as the two of us walked side by side carrying shopping bags on our way home at dusk…! 
(How did things end up like this?) 
Well, after everything was over, I bumped into her while buying dinner at the nearby supermarket, “Daikokuya.” 
Trying to ease the tension, I brought up small talk about her husband. However, her serious response made me feel quite embarrassed. I shouldn’t have mentioned it. 
The stunning beauty walked beside me, seemingly unfazed, shaking her head. 
“No, it’s been many years already. Don’t worry about it… By the way, thank you. I didn’t understand things like the seasonality of vegetables or prices very well.” 
It’s been a few months since the destruction of Cleared. Even the supermarket where we were shopping was recruiting part-time workers. This city, which was the stage for the final battle, has largely returned to its former state. 
“Ah, no problem. I’ve been living alone for a long time, so don’t worry about it.” 
Trying to impress, I accidentally bought ingredients for cooking. Am I going to cook? Probably not. I’m too tired after the battle. 
(…No, but really. When she’s right next to you, it’s different) 
I try my best not to meet her gaze, but in my tired state after the battle,  
I find myself inadvertently drawn to her. The well-defined high nose and face lines, the slender overall figure, and the rather assertive chest and hips that seem to defy gravity… No, no. 
(No, no, this is not okay. It’s rude… but where have I seen this before?) 
I divert my eyes from Ashella-san, using all my morals to resist the charm she exudes and the déjà vu feeling. However, 
“What’s wrong?” 
Caught in her direct gaze, my efforts go in vain. 
“Oh, it’s just that you made little nervous.” 
I give up, hoping that my face hasn’t turned red, and turn my face back. I lightly tap my cheeks as if to regain composure. Let’s at least look at her face. 
“Oh my, you say strange things. To someone like me.” 
She gives a small smile that softens the cold impression, which honestly feels quite comforting. 
(Happy, but for a guy like me, this distance of about ten centimeters is too stimulating…) 
Summoning all my self-control and patience, I manage to arrive at the front of my room without directing any impolite glances. A sigh of relief. 
“By the way, would you like to have dinner together? It’s my treat. As a thank you for yesterday.” 
And then a bomb drops. 
“Eh, um, well, you see…” 
I’m fully aware that I’m stuttering. 
(How embarrassing! I wasn’t even this nervous when facing the supposedly invincible Demon Blade General Sodias!) 
Ignoring my pathetic inner turmoil, Ashella-san takes my hand. 
“I’ve heard that neighborhood relations are important in Japan. Please, come.” 
A sudden turn of events. A sudden turn of events indeed. 
(Is it okay to be invited to dinner by a widow…? How should I take this?) 
In my rather limited experience with women, I can’t find any techniques to handle this. 
Inadvertently nodding along with the flow, Ashella-san narrows her eyes at me. 
“That’s good.” 
“Yes, um, I’ll leave my things first…” 
“Please come over right away.” 
I watch Ashella-san step into the adjacent room as if stepping through a dance. Returning to my room, I immediately open the SNS of the Banshokuger male group. 
Green: [The widow next door invited me for dinner. What should I do?] 
Red: [What’s that? A new light novel?] 
Black: [Details] 
Aside from Banshoku Red, the college student Akashi, who was with me a few minutes ago, Karasu-san, Black, is a 30-something adult. He can be expected to give reliable advice, given the fact that he is often pursued by Nadeshiko-san, aka Pink. 
I share the current situation, hiding the personal information of the mother and daughter next door. The guys seem to be interested too, as a quick response comes. 
Black: [I’ll ask a straightforward question first. Is she someone you’d consider dating?] 
Green: [Honestly, she’s my type, so I’m in a bit of a dilemma.] 
Red: [Wow, that’s amazing, Midori-san.] 
Black: [Calm down, college student. Is there a possibility of a honey trap?] 
Green: [─If she brings up strange crystals or pyramid schemes, that would be bad, right?] 
(Well, Black is calm.) 
In reality, considering the fact that she has a child and doesn’t give off any suspicious vibes (I think), it’s probably safe. But it’s better to be cautious. 
Black: [Also, if things unexpectedly progress well, don’t make any rash decisions. She’s a mature woman, right? There’s a high chance she expects a [responsible relationship].] 
Red: [Oh, I see. I need to think about my situation with Ao too…] 
Ignoring Akashi, who started talking about his situation with Ao, I nod. 
Green: As expected, Karasu-san constantly asked for responsibiliy biy Pink. Reliable. 
Black: Isn’t that irrelevant now!? 
Green: I think you’re worrying too much, but I’ll be careful just in case! I’ll be off! 
Black: …Good luck. 
Red: I pray it goes well. 
I take off my suit jacket and stand up, tidying up my appearance. 
“Well, she does have a child. Nothing unusual. Just got invited for dinner, that’s all. It’s okay, it’s okay…” 
Muttering to reassure myself, I headed towards the next door. 
“That girl is going to have dinner at a friend’s place tonight. …Didn’t I mention it?” 
“Huh, really? Ahaha…” 
You didn’t mention anything! Moving to a new place and getting invited to a friend’s house right away – her social skills are too strong. 
Thinking this, I spoon some omelette rice, trembling, into my mouth. 
(Is this bad? Is there a crystal or a pot or some kind of insurance or personal growth seminar coming up next?) 
Nervously moving my mouth, I taste the sweetness of fresh tomatoes and the softness of the egg spreading in my mouth. 
“…Ah, delicious.” 
“Good. I thought of making something quick since you might be hungry.” 
On the dining table are root vegetable soup, leafy salad, and a generous portion of chicken omelette rice. The menu seems well thought out in terms of cooking time and nutrition, just as she said. 

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