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Chapter 1


 Main Character’s POV
 
 In 2020.
 I (ore) died in Eastern Europe.
 
 "..."
 
 I look up at the sky, covered in blood.
 Drones are flying overhead, and my comrades-in-arms are shooting at them.
 That thing was the one that killed me.
 I didn't expect to see a machine gun attached to a drone.
 I want to have a cigarette in my mouth for the last time, but I can't muster my strength.
 But then someone reaches into my pocket and takes out a cigarette with a bullseye logo and puts it in my mouth.
 Thank you.
 As expected, a comrade-in-arms.
 The unknown comrade-in-arms lights the tip of the cigarette with a lighter and runs away.
 I'd like to say goodbye to him for the last time, but I'm not sure I can do it at this point.
 
**a
 "..."
 
 In my mind, I recall the children that I left behind in my hometown, and my best friends.
 I see... This is what people call a running memory.
 I should have made a will.
 As I savor my last taste, my consciousness fades away.
 It's a fitting end for a man like me who killed so many enemy soldiers around the world.
 Many of my comrades-in-arms have died terribly, becoming cripples due to drug addiction, or being blown to pieces by bombs, etc.
 In my case, I'm in perfect health.
 There should be a clean funeral.
 ...But it's not going to happen, is it?
 As I think about it, the cigarette falls out of my mouth.
 
 This is me, Lou Bradley, in my last life, my last memory.
 And now?
 By some fate, I'm 16 years old in Japan, a country I have no connection to.
 
 "Takkun, are you thinking about something again?"
 
 A beautiful girl with a stunningly beautiful face appears in front of me.
 She is Tsukasa Kitaoji, a 150cm (4.9 ft.) tall woman with a ponytail.
 She is the childhood friend of the owner of this body.
 I must say, I never expected to find such a beautiful woman despite my criminal look with bad eyes.
 I don't understand the Japanese sense of beauty.
 
 "Ah. I'm in a daze from surgery."
 
 Most of the time, this explanation is enough to convince everyone.
 Even the schoolteachers.
 But this woman, perhaps an idiot, reacts differently.
 
 "Are you okay?"
 
 She looks like she's about to cry, and she's panicking.
 I know she's a good person, but it's annoying to be honest.
 I guess she's worried about me because we've known each other since childhood, but I'm not the same guy I was before the surgery.
 We are as different as a Germanic and a Slavic.
 Was it hard for the Japanese to understand?
 
**b
 "I'm fine."
 
 With a fake smile, I tell her implicitly that I don't want to talk, but she is, after all, kind.
 
 "If you don't feel well, tell me right away, okay? I'll ask mother to take a look at you."
 "...Thank you."
 
 I have an image of Japanese as gentle people, but she is too gentle.
 If she were in a battlefield, she'd be the first one killed.
 
 "..."
 
 I sigh without her noticing.
 I thought I would feel better after I die, but apparently, God is a sadist.
 Maybe God wants to make my life a living hell in a peaceful country now that I have taken so many lives.
 As atonement.
 But, unfortunately, I'm an atheist.
 And, uh, I'm not a communist.
 Just in case some people might misunderstand.
 
 Anyway, Tsukasa's mother is my doctor.
 It seems that this owner's body was registered in an organ bank, and just a few days before the surgery, a suitable match was found and it got a transplant.
 The donor is, of course, me, before I died.
 Somehow, I made it to Japan during the chaos of the war.
 It's a hell of a story, isn't it?
 Well, my previous family will never see my dead body, and I'm sure my retirement money has been sent to them, and I think I have a pension from the U.S. Army.
 Just to confirm, the owner of this body, or right now, myself, is an adopted child in Japan.
 Thus, I can't go abroad easily, and I hesitate to even go there.
 According to Tsukasa, my biological parents disappeared as soon as they found out I was sick.
 Being abandoned at three days old, that's a very 'good' thing.
 Perhaps I wasn't always wanted.
 Well, it is hard to motivate parents to spend the rest of their lives supporting the product of their one-night-stand love.
 Still, I blame them for avoiding the responsibility.

**c
 Anyway, I was taken in by the Kitaoji family who wanted to have a male sibling.
 And the fact that my parents are surgeons (messers) makes me a winner, but for my part, I would have preferred to be a soldier.
 My hands are too dirty to save lives, and first of all, I am not good at medicine.
 Although I have borrowed some medical books from medics and read them on the battlefield, I don't know what they are about.
 On the other hand, a soldier can go to higher ranks depending on the results of the battle.
 It's a very easy job for me, who is not an educated man.
 I guess this kind of leadership is also proof that God wants me to be reformed.
 Seriously, I'm in hell on earth because I've been living in a strange way.
 This is why I can't have faith in God.
 
 "You're in a daze again."
 
 In gym class, Tsukasa came to talk to me.
 The school swimsuit is dazzling.
 I have to admit, though I can't help tilting my head at the Japanese sense of aesthetics.
 
 "Can you swim, Takkun?"
 "Yes. I'm good at it."
 
 Because Japan is an island nation, many schools have swimming pools.
 It is better to be a good swimmer, though I feel the maintenance cost is too much for a pool used only during the summer.
 In countries where people are not accustomed to swimming, there is a death every time there is a water accident.
 On the other hand, in Japan, I have the impression that the number of such accidents is small.
 So, it is better to be able to swim at least to some extent.
 After all, it is for their own protection.
 
 "Hmm? Takkun, weren't you couldn't swim at all (金槌)?"
 
 Oops.
 I thought so.
 But now I don't have a good excuse.
 
 "I can swim. About 200 kilometers (124 miles) for a full day."
 "Here it comes again... Another of your jokes... LOL..."
 
**a
 She scoffs at me.
 Wow, that's really uncomfortable.
 She doesn't believe me.
 I snap my knuckles and stretch.
 I was a member of the Special Forces 'SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy)' when I was young.
 I'm probably a better swimmer than the Maritime Self-Defense Force.
 And then I just jump in.
 
 "Ah, Kitaoji!!!"
 
 The teacher rushes to follow.
 He seems to think I'm acting abnormally due to the aftereffects of the surgery, or maybe he's panicking too much.
 But I pushed him away, swimming faster and faster.
 The other students are also stunned.
 It's no wonder that a sickly guy, who can't swim at all, has beaten a teacher who used to be a member of the Japanese national team.
 However, I should be on my guard.
 As I made a turn at the 25m mark, I felt severe pain in my leg.
 
 (I had a cramp?)
 
 Later, I figured it out.
 I swallowed a lot of water.
 And I couldn't breathe.
 I heard someone screaming, probably Tsukasa.
 She seems to scream that she does not want to see her brother-in-law drown.
 The nearby students, who saw me, gather around, one after the other, carrying me as I sink deeper into the water, and manage to pull me to the edge.
 Just before I was about to fall unconscious, I heard the siren of an ambulance.
 It sounded like a requiem to me.
 
 "..."
 
 Tsukasa's hugging me, she's screaming about something.
 Stop it, don't make that face.
 You're making me want to protect you.
 Just before the paramedics arrive, I see total darkness.
 This is the end of my second life.
 
**b
 At the same time, I can picture Tsukasa's face.
 Her life plays in my mind like a movie projector.
 Tsukasa cries a lot at my funeral.
 Tsukasa begs me to burn him with her when she leaves the casket.
 Tsukasa, who never leaves my grave, just traced my engraved name with her finger.
 ...
 After graduation, she has an arranged marriage with another family and gets married.
 She started a family, but her face always had a fake smile on it.
 She visits the family altar when she wakes up and before going to bed, and prepares food for me even though I'm dead.
 Her husband doesn't say anything, but inside, he must be dissatisfied.
 His new wife is always looking at his late step-brother-in-law.
 If I were in her husband's shoes, I would be just as dismayed.
 They are a married couple, pretending to be a happy couple on the outside, but on the inside, they are separated at home.
 They don't seem to be very happy.
 
 "..."
 
 Before I knew it, I was staring at them the whole time.
 Not at the husband, but at my stepsister.
 I'm glad she still cares about me even after my death.
 And, her husband, I feel like he wants to beat me to death.
 Still, have I fallen in love with her?
 With my stepsister.
 I know a 16-year-old is attractive, but for my taste, I'm more into hardworking office workers over 25.
 A so-called "cool woman", which I have not seen so often in Japan.
  ...
 Looking at my hand.
 If this is a romantic feeling, it must be the previous owner's body before the organ transplant.
 There have been various cases reported that transplanted organs can give the deceased memories of their previous lives or change their tastes and preferences to those of the deceased.
 Various cases have been reported.
 Among them, the most interesting one is the 'change of skin color'.
 There is a case of a Russian who received an organ of African descent transplanted into his body, and his skin color became that of African descent in no time at all.
 Of course, this may not be the case in all cases.
 Is it a wonder of a human body or a mischief of God?
 Anyway, it is a fact that my race has changed.
 
 (Tsukasa. If God gave me an opportunity again. I'll live this life for you if you want. I owe you a favor. If there's a next time.)
 
 Immediately after I made my decision, I felt a blinding light.
 A stairway to heaven or the fires of hell.
 Determined, I open my eyes.
 
* * *
 **c
 "Zzz."
 
 When I open my eyes, I see the princess sleeping on my bed.
 No, it was Tsukasa.
 She takes my pillow and sleeps with me.
 Having a beautiful girl in front of me must be a strong stimulus for adolescent boys, but unfortunately, I am an ex-married man.
 I even had a child.
 So, this is not going to cheer my 'son' up now.
 Anyway, looking around, I found myself in a hospital with an intravenous drip.
 It's a familiar hospital room with familiar chemicals.
 This is the Kitaoji family.
 
 "You're awake. Stupid son."
 
 A woman doctor comes in to change the drip.
 She's in her 30s but looks like a college student... and she's our mother, Satsuki.
 She wears glasses and has a charming crying face.
 But the downside is that she makes people feel her coldness.
 Luckily she hasn't passed that queenly impression on to Tsukasa.
 I'm glad.
 If Tsukasa had been like this, I would have felt awkward.
 
 "As usual, you're fond of Tsukasa but rude to me, aren't you?"
 "Did I say anything to you?"
 "Women can tell what a man is really thinking no matter how much he tries to deceive them. But the other way around, we can't tell because we're too stupid."
 
 Oh, she's always talking about women and men.
 If she were a civil society group, I'm sure she'd protest it as sexism.
 But theoretically, it seems that she's not wrong, though it seems to be the reality.
 
 "Maybe you wanted to show Tsukasa how good you are, but you clearly lack muscle strength. Exercise, as I told you before, in moderation, okay?"
 
 I take back what I said before.
 Her kind words make me almost fall for her.
 Damn you, my stepfather who tricked such a beautiful woman into having a baby and dying prematurely.
 I've never met him, but if I did, I'd punch him in the face.
 ...but I must correct myself as soon as possible.
 
**a
 "I'm sorry to say, but I'm not in love with Tsukasa, okay?"
 "Oh, even though you promised to marry her when you were little?"
 
 A shocking truth.
 If it was me, if someone had promised to marry my child without my knowledge, I'd report him for child pornography.
 
 "Maybe in the past, but not anymore."
 "Then, what about me?"
 
 What?
 Is she a witch?
 Well, compared to Tsukasa, Satsuki's my type.
 
 "Then, I'd like to be a candidate."
 "Stupid. I love only my late husband. If you want to marry me, you'll have to be a decent man."
 
 So she wants me to enter the medical department of a state university, graduate first in my class, and become a medical officer of the Self-Defense Forces?
 If it was me, I might be able to make it in the SDF, but the former, I can't.
 
 "Are you a demon?"
 "Because my daughter is kind to you. I'll have to be harder on you."
 
 At the same time, Satsuki's phone vibrated.
 
 "Looks like an emergency. Okay, I'm going now."
 "Have a good day."
 
 She flips on her lab coat and leaves.
 But she returns in a few seconds.
 
 "Did you forget something?"
 "Ah, no. Don't take advantage of the fact that she's asleep."
 "Like what?"
 "Sleeping pills."
 "That's not a very nice thing for a doctor or a mother to say."
 "But that's who I am."
 
**b
 She kisses me on the forehead and runs to her patient.
 Every second counts. It's not very nice of her to come back just for this.
 That's why I'm not good with Satsuki.
 
 "..."
 
 Silently, I'm wiping off the lipstick stain, but then...
 
 "Takkun, don't die."
 "Gwah!"
 
 The princess hugs me and pushes me down.
 Tsukasa covers me, and I can't move.
 At the same time, my intravenous drip is removed, and my consciousness fades away.
 
 (Am I going to be killed by Tsukasa?)
 
 I am not frustrated, though I am rushing around in my heart.
 It's not so bad to be crushed to death by a woman who doesn't hide her love for me, rather than to suffer and die in great pain.
 
 "Good night. Princess."
 
 Imitating Satsuki, I kiss Tsukasa's forehead,
 
 "Hehe."
 
 The princess smiles happily.

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Edited Kanaa-senpai.
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