The morning came, and the typhoon has disappeared.
I wasn’t able to sleep that much last night because the fact that Shirakawa-san was next to me and our connected hands were on my mind.
We ate a truly Japanese style breakfast prepared for us by the inn’s staff in our room, wore the clothes we left to dry overnight, then set out to return home a day late.
The train during Sunday morning that we got on was empty. We both dozed off, talked about random things, then we arrived at A Station.
“Then, I’ll see you again on the day after tomorrow”
Tomorrow was a day-off because of tests, and Tuesday was the last day of the first term, the end-of-term ceremony.
In front of Shirakawa-san’s house, we exchanged parting words.
“Yep. See you later, Ryuuto”
The eyes of Shirakawa-san, who said so and waved her hand, suddenly turned serious.
“…On our second month.. take care of me, too, okay?”
“Yeah. The same for me”
When I answered her, her face returned back into a smile. Feeling relieved seeing this, I waved my hand at her.
After seeing Shirakawa-san entering her house, I returned back to A Station alone.
At the station plaza, at Sunday noon, there were people standing around looking at their phones, seemingly to be in the middle of a rendezvous. As I was walking around the area, I came across plenty of people handing out flyers and tissues.
Today too, I could find several people who seemed to be doing that in the direction where I was going.
“The izakaya ‘Bacchus’ is handing out lunch coupons!”
Izakaya…. It’s at the moment when I had that thought, and was about to reflexively receive the paper handed out in front of me.
The woman handing out the paper raised her voice, and I looked at her face. That’s when I opened my eyes in surprise.
She was Shirakawa-san’s best friend, Yamana Nikoru-san. I was walking around downtown while trying not to look at people’s faces, so I didn’t notice it myself.
Yamanasa-san was wearing deep blue clothes that looked like a samue1, and an apron without a chest covering.
“Can’t you tell by looking”
Yamana-san said curtly, and once again, handed me the coupon.
“Sending Runa home? It’s just right. You, come to our shop”
“I’ve got something I wanna talk about Runa, you see. Runa probably gonna be worried if we meet up alone, so it’d be convenient if we get it done while I’m at work”
“B-but, aren’t you working at an izakaya….?”
Even the coupon given to me was giving the feel that it’s quite an intense izakaya, recommending all-you-can-drink from noon.
“Are you scared? It’s not like you have to order only alcohol. Even our shop has plenty of customers bringing their kids, too, you know?”
Is that so…. So cheery people can order food and drinks at an izakaya while still underage, huh. I’ve only been eating out at a family restaurant or a donburi2 shop, so the hurdle is high for me.
Going to an izakaya alone, then what am I supposed to do. I mean, Yamana-san is going to be in the middle of work, so it’s not like she’ll be available all the time.
“Can’t you just bring your friends then”
Yamana-san told me with annoyance.
“Or you don’t have any?”
“I-I do, okay”
“Then come with them. Today I’ll always be on the shift until night, alright”
After speaking quickly, Yamana-san started handing out coupons again.
“We’re handing out lunch coupons!”
Looks like it’s decided for me to come today, for some reason.
At any rate, I didn’t want to go alone and be thought of not having any friends, so I tried calling Ichi on my way back home.
“What is it, man?”
“Are you free today?”
“I’m not free at all, I’m playing a game with Nishi. ….ah, yeah yeah, it’s Kashi”
True, I can hear a game’s BGM and someone’s voice from the phone.
“Eh, why didn’t you invite me, too”
“I mean you.. yesterday you went to the sea with Shirakawa-san, right? Fuck you! Go explode! I thought you might be tired, you see”
I think heard his inner voice there for a moment, I wonder if it’s just my imagination.
“….Say, have you eaten yet?”
“Huh? If it’s lunch, I have. With a take out cheese rice beef bowl extra large”
“Then, want to go have dinner together? I also want you to invite Nishi, though”
“Huh? Why all of sudden”
“By Yamana-san.. I was invited to come and have a meal at the izakaya she’s part-timing at”
“By Yamana… do you mean Yamana Nikoru from our class? You, you’re in contact with a demon gal like her!?”
“It’s related to Shirakawa-san… Yamana-san is.. Shirakawa-san’s best friend after all”
When I explained it briefly, I could hear a heavy sigh coming from across the phone.
“Kashi…. you really have changed”
“….So you won’t come?”
I should’ve known he won’t.. It’s when I thought of that.
“Of course I’m coming!”
A sudden immediate reply came back.
When I listened carefully, I could also hear Nishi’s voice saying “I’ll come! I’ll come!” from a distance.
“Eh, you’ll come!?”
Judging by the how the talk was going, I was certain they’d refuse so I was surprised.
“Like hell I’d let myself get left behind by Kashi any more than this! The pride of gloomy people can eat shit! Summer in the second year of high school is a last chance for the springtime of youth! This summer I’ll become a normie, too! Having dinner at an izakaya where our classmate is part timing is really cheery people-like, ain’t it! Don’t you think so, Nishi!?”
And I could hear a voice saying “That’s right! That’s right!”
Well, I’m glad that they’ll come.
Thus, me, Ichi, and Nishi were going to have dinner at the izakaya where Yamana-san was part-timing.
“Bacchus” izakaya was located within the shopping district spreading out in front of A Station. It’s on the third floor of a multi-storey building full with restaurants from the first until the fifth floor.
As we passed through the curtain in front of the shop, we were greeted by a high-spirited voice of the employee.
Although the time was still before 6 PM, the inside of the shop was already lively with many customers, perhaps because it’s Sunday.
“Excuse me, I’m a friend of a part-timer named Yamana-san….”
When I told the male employee who came out to guide us, he let out an “Ah!” then nodded his head.
“It’s for three people, I see. This way, please”
Where we were led to was a sunken-kotatsu3 table seating where we must take off our shoes. It’s adjacent to a wall and there’s a partition at the front and the back. There’s even a paper sliding door on the aisle side, making it almost like a private room. I informed Yamana-san on LINE that we planned to come to the shop just in case, so she might’ve saved us a seat.
“Please wait a moment”
The employee left, and we sat down somewhat nervously. We sat down on the bench-style seat for four people, with me facing Ichi and Nishi.
“Come to think of it, have you watched today’s KEN’s videos?”
“Ah, no, I haven’t. I haven’t even get to watch yesterday’s videos, so I watched it first”
“Tsk, normies are really so”
“Was Shirakawa-san.. in a bikini?”
“Fuck you die! Glad you had a good time, huh!!”
“Your inner thoughts are leaking, hey!”
“Forget that, just show me a picture!”
“Did you think I’d show any to you as it is, huh!?”
It was then, when we’re having a talk like that.
I heard a skilled female employee’s voice, and two mugs were placed in front of me.
When I looked at her, it was Yamana-san.
“Eh, we haven’t ordered anything yet….”
When Nishi spoke in puzzlement, Yamana-san winked suggestively at him.
“It’s a service♡ Thank you for coming, okay”
In that instant, I witnessed Nishi and Ichi’s eyes turning exactly into heart marks.
“It’s Ca●pis Soda4. I made it perfectly thick♡ And you won’t find this kind of drink at home, you know”
“Umm, how about mine…?”
“Ah, you can go order your own. If you put the order on the touch panel there, the order will be sent directly to the kitchen”
There’s no service for me, huh! Rather, isn’t there a huge difference in your personality towards those two!?
While I was ordering a cola using the touch panel by myself, Ichi and Nishi merrily sipped the Ca●pis Soda in their mug.
“Demon gal really is the best!”
“It’s the era of a demon gal!”
“The outside is that scary but the inside is so kind.. Don’t you think the gap is so unbearable!?”
“There are so many things you can’t help but fall in love!”
“All hail Yamana! All hail Yamana!”
Those two praised Yamana-san to the moon in high spirit while gulping down the drink in their mugs.
“Hoooollly shiit!! It tastes so good!!”
“I’ve never had drinks this thick before!”
“Eh, how is it? Is it really that thick? Let me have a sip….”
When I reached out my hand to have a sip, Ichi and Nishi simultaneously guarded their mugs.
“Nope! This is the thick Ca●pis the demon gal gave only to us”
“The demon gal is the ally of the non-normie! It’s a NO for you!!”
Perhaps becoming so happy that they’re favored, those two proceeded to chug down their drinks in one breath.
“Well, it’s fine, I guess. I’m going to order the food then”
While feeling a little peevish, I looked at the menu on the touch panel and chose delicious-looking dishes.
“…This will do for now, I guess? Hey, take a look at this for a…. bit!!?”
It was then, when I looked at them to have them confirm the order I’ve selected.
“What now, Kashiiii~”
Without a doubt, Ichi and Nishi’s condition was weird. Their faces were bright red, their eyes were hollow, and their speech was disordered.
Then I realized something and I grabbed Nishi’s mug in front of me.
When I took a sip, I was surprised.
“Urgh…. What the hell is this!?”
It definitely tastes like Cal●. She made it considerably thick, and I can sense its sticky-sweetness, but…. I could also sense the smell of ethanol so strong, that the faint carbonated water can’t completely disguise it.
Ethanol…. I see, this is….!
“Are you all right, you two? Do you feel sick?”
“Huh? I’m feeling raaather good instead, ye….”
“I know, right~. Demon gal da best~….”
Ichi and Nishi plopped down on the table after that, and they…. slept.
Are you serious.
Rather, they really were able to drink something like that so well, and their mugs are practically empty. They must’ve been on cloud nine.
But, why the hell were the drinks in their mugs like that…. And when I had that thought.
“Ah, they’re already asleep”
I found Yamana-san standing next to me.
“Here, your cola”
Then a glass of cola was placed in front of me.
“And these are the potato fries service, okay”
She placed a basket with a mountain of fried potatoes, sat at the table, then closed the paper sliding door.
“It’s because my senior colleague told me I can take a break when I want”
She made me tense up. And I sat close to the wall, keeping my distance.
“Err, what’s the meaning of this….”
“I mean, they’re a nuisance, right? And I wanted to talk about Runa with just us two”
“Eh? D-don’t tell me for that reason you….”
“Isn’t it fine. And aren’t those two sleeping so comfortably? Well, we’ve all made mistakes”
Is she telling me.. that the drinks were mistakenly made and something extra was mixed up in their mugs….?
No, there’s no way that’s…. the case, or not, but I’m definitely sure that’s the case from how she acted just now.
“B-but, even if it’s a mistake, won’t it be a big problem for Yamana-san if the shop’s management finds out that you let high schoolers drink something like that…”
“You’re maybe right. But you know, I know the manager’s secret after all”
When she told me that, Yamana-san made a gesture where she made a fist with one, and raised only her pinky finger. In the past, I saw a relative’s uncle doing that gesture when referring to “woman”.
Manager, are you having an affair….? And perhaps, are you going to use that as a blackmail material?
“Yo-you’re amazing, Yamana-san….”
“You think so? Even so it’s a lot tamer than what I’d done, though. Around here, even delinquents’ balls will shrink up if they hear ‘Nikoru of the north’, you know”
Wh-what did you do, Yamana-san!?
“An…. and then, what do you want to talk about?”
I was scared and I wanted to get to the point quickly. And when I asked her, Yamana-san’s eyes turned serious.
“It’s been a month since you’re with Runa, but how was it?”
When I was wondering what she meant by “how”, she put one elbow on the table and rested her chin on it.
“Runa is.. relative to how she looks, she’s heavy, isn’t she”
When she said that, Yamana-san’s eyes looked as if she’s staring at a far distance.
“….The first time I talked to Runa was.. on the day of the entrance ceremony. I was blankly standing in line at the ceremony, and she called out to me from the opposite direction. ‘Your nails are cute’, she said”
I knew that they’re close since the first year, but it was like that at the start, huh.
“On the next day, Runa came to me, showing me her new earrings. She then said ‘I thought it’d look good on you, so I bought matching ones’. She gave it to me, then said ‘Will you be my best friend?’”
Perhaps remembering those days, Yamana-san suddenly smiled and looked at me.
“‘What the..’, It gives you that feeling, right? Don’t you think that’s too heavy5? Normally you’d back off from that”
I recalled the time when she gave me a matching phone case to celebrate our one week of dating, and felt that really was Shirakawa-san-like.
“But, Runa is crazy cute, right? And cheerful to boot. That’s why I.. thought to myself. I was happy, and thought that I also wanted to become best friend with this girl”
Smiling shyly, Yamana-san stopped resting her chin on her hand.
“People do say ‘it’s heavy, it’s heavy’ like it’s a bad thing, don’t they. You leave your emotional baggage on someone, and they’ll also leave the same weight on you…. And if the weight on the scale was exactly balanced, neither of you would feel ‘heavy’. That’s having a good relationship all about, right? And that’s how ‘mutual baggage’ and ‘mutual love’ are. Do you get it?”
It’s surprising. I never thought Yamana-san to be the kind of person to talk about such a thing.
“That’s a cool thing to say, isn’t it….”
“Even ‘Nikoru of the north’ can be poetic, you know”
With a grin, Yamana-san’s expression turned serious again.
“But you know, no matter how much mutual love between us is, she likes man, and so do I. That’s why, Runa and I can’t be more than ‘best friends’. That’s vexing… and that’s why I was hoping she would find one soon. The only man she can sincerely trust and find comfort in… the only man she can always be with. The ‘boyfriend’ Runa wishes for is.. not a hunk she can brag to her friends, but a man that… she can connect her heart with”
And before I knew it, I had feelings of admiration towards her and sincerely listened to Yamana-san’s words.
“Why she’s wishing for that kind of partner is perhaps, because of her family circumstances”
After muttering those words, Yamana-san raised her brows.
“And yet, the one she dated up till now was nothing but idiots, who were only cheerful and looked good on the outside. Every morning and night, Runa always sends a LINE without fail, right?”
“You don’t particularly hate it, do you?”
“Yeah. The fact that she’s thinking about me, it makes me happy”
Hearing my reply, Yamana-san nodded her head, seeming satisfied.
“That’s what dating someone is about, right?”
I see. I only have the experience of being in a relationship for a month so I don’t know, but if Yamana-san said so, it’s probably like that.
“But, since her ex-boyfriends were all trash, of course there were nights and mornings when she couldn’t reach them. And whenever she expressed her worry about it, they’d tell her ‘you’re too heavy’ or ‘annoying’, you see. I reeaaaaallly hope they die so bad”
Yamana-san said as if spitting out and with that momentum, she reached for the mountain of potatoes on the table and brought them to her mouth. Didn’t you say that is a service for me.
“But, Runa doesn’t speak bad of her ex-boyfriend either, doesn’t she. Not just her ex-boyfriend, I also never heard her speak bad of anyone”
I was becoming hungry, so I also started eating the potatoes.
“And you know, Runa likes people. She thinks that everyone is a good person, and that there’s no human who is bad at heart. That’s why regarding her ex-boyfriend, too, she believed it when they said ‘I like you’ on the surface. She then dated them, got betrayed, and got hurt”
And then Yamana-san stopped her hand that was carrying the potato for a moment.
“Runa has this jinx called ‘two-months wall’”
“A number of boyfriends she’s dated up until now were caught cheating before two months have passed. Even if that didn’t happen, they’d gradually give her the cold shoulder then break up after three months, though”
I see… That’s why it’s “two-months wall”, huh.
“Even if she trusts in you, I think that Runa is worried right now. Until two months pass”
Then, Yamana-san stared at me.
“Can you promise me that you absolutely won’t do anything that will make Runa worried?”
I was overwhelmed by that piercing gaze… and I nodded deeply, though, not necessarily because of that.
“I promise. I won’t do anything that will make Shirakawa-san worried”
To me, who promised to her and firmly stared back at her, Yamana-san stared at me motionlessly for a moment.
“…I see. I’m relieved”
Then she smiled broadly. I saw Yamana-san’s child-like carefree smile, and I felt that this was the first time that I saw this person’s proper smiling face.
Thus, Yamana-san’s “talk” with me was over, however.
“About this, what’re we gonna do?”
Yamana-san got off from her seat, then pointed at the line up of Ichi and Nishi in front of her, who peacefully plopped down on the table.
“Even if you asked me that…”
I want to ask her. You’re the one who made them so smashed like this, so take responsibility… But I’m scared, so I didn’t say it, though…
“Well, by the looks of it, they might not wake up until tomorrow, won’t they”
“That’s a problem!”
“Well, it became like this was also because ‘I made a mistake when making the drink’, so I’ll figure out something later. If we let them sleep for two or three hours, they’ll probably wake up on their own then go home”
“Are you sure…? Then, I’ll leave them to you”
Eating alone in front of my dead drunk friends was no fun, so I decided to leave those two to Yamana-san and then leave the izakaya. In the end, I only had a cola and potatoes.
I’m worried about those two, but those two were not alone, but together. They’re also just sleeping and Yamana-san is a classmate, so she’d probably take care of them in case anything happens.
It was then, when I was descending downstairs while having such thought.
My feet faltered, and I quickly grabbed the handrail.
My field of vision was narrower than usual, and I felt like the world was suddenly becoming distant.
There’s a fleeting feeling in my chest. I didn’t really understand it, but it’s a happy feeling.
…Perhaps… it’s because I took a sip from Nishi’s mug, but with just one sip?
Rather, just how ridiculous is your “I made a mistake”, Yamana-san…
If this is because of just a sip, I can’t certainly say that Ichi and Nishi are really weak with alcohol. There’s a possibility that I’m awfully weak, though…
Well, I’ll just go home, take a bath, then go to sleep anyway. And as long as my parents don’t find out, I don’t think it’ll be a problem… Then it happened when I had such a thought.
The phone on my pocket vibrated. I took a look and saw that it’s a LINE call from Kurose-san.
“Why’s she calling…?”
I wonder if it’s because my reply was delayed. But, what should I reply to her… Despite that crossing my mind, I was feeling more worked up than usual, so I pressed the accept call button without much thinking.
“Ah, hello, Ryuuto!?”
When I heard the voice, I took away my phone from my ear, and looked at the screen again.
“Ahaha, are you surprised? I’m at mom’s house right now, but my phone’s battery ran out, you see. So I borrowed Maria’s phone”
It’s definitely Shirakawa-san. But I never heard she had such a plan today.
“Ah… Now that you mentioned it, yesterday we used up your battery bank, didn’t we. I’m sorry too for borrowing it. You didn’t have time to charge?”
“Nn? Ah, yep yep. Well, it’s fine, though. I mean, in this way I can contact you, too”
“Did you.. get to talk with Kurose-san?”
“Yep. It’s alright, thanks”
She went to her house and borrowed her phone, didn’t she. I guess they’re now heading in the direction of returning to how it originally was.
“And you see, Ryuuto…”
Then I could feel Shirakawa-san’s voice becoming a little nervous.
“I wanna talk with Ryuuto for a bit. I wanna… meet with you alone”
I wonder what it is about… And then I remembered what Yamana-san said to me earlier.
──Even if she trusts in you, I think that Runa is worried right now. Until two months pass
Come to think of it, even when we’re at Enoshima, Shirakawa-san was also slightly different from the usual.
──For our two-months anniversary, we can be together like this, too, right?
I wonder why she said something like that. Does she perhaps.. want to talk about that?
“…I got it. Shirakawa-san, are you already home? I’m at A Station right now, so should I go to your house?”
“Eh? No… Umm, I’m.. not ready to go home yet. So, I wanna us to meet at school”
“It’s because I wanna meet with you alone…”
“But at school is… Firstly, can we go in on Sunday at this hour? And I’m in my casual clothes, though…?”
I looked at my phone before I left the izakaya and it’s already past 7 PM. The surroundings have also become dark, and a time period when a high school student has to worry about the eyes of others.
“It’s alright, I’ll figure something out……. Is it a no?”
Before I knew it, Shirakawa-san’s voice had become weak and frail like she’s somebody else. That worried me, and made me feel like I had to see her as soon as possible in any case.
“All right, I got it. Then I’ll be heading to school now”
“Okay. If anything comes up, contact this phone… contact Maria’s LINE, okay”
“I got it”
Nn?, I felt a feeling of discomfort there for a moment, but my head was in a daze, so I hung up the call without thinking deeply.
“…I wonder what’s going on, Shirakawa-san”
Somehow, I feel uneasy.
──Can you promise me that you absolutely won’t do anything that will make Runa worried?
──I promise. I won’t do anything that will make Shirakawa-san worried
While remembering the conversation with Yamana-san earlier, I made my way through the crown in front of the station, heading to the ticket gate at a quick pace.
When I arrived at school, the lock of the side entrance was opened. There’s light coming out from the staff room inside the school building, so I wonder if it’s because there’s a teacher, or Shirakawa-san arrived earlier and opened it somehow, just like how she said “I’ll figure something out”.
Come to the gymnasium’s storage room
“Gymnasium’s storage room?”
I think it’s the room inside the gymnasium where they store mats and vaulting boxes. Then again, why at such a place… Though that crossed my mind, after coming this far, I had no choice but to go, following what she said
It was dark in the gymnasium, but the door was opened and the storage room’s heavy sliding door also opened easily.
There’s only a window inside the storage room, however, it seemed to be far away from outside lights, so there’s only a small amount of light coming in. When I looked around inside the dark storage room with my eyes not used to the darkness, I saw a figure of a person sitting deeper inside.
I heard Shirakawa-san’s voice.
“Ryuuto, come here”
Doing as told, I approached in the direction of the voice.
“What do you want to talk about, at this kind of…”
At the moment I tried to ask, Shirakawa-san leaped strongly into my chest.
Shirakawa-san wrapped her hands around my neck and whispered into my ear.
“I.. wanna have sex with Ryuuto…….”
What did she say!?
──I’m gonna like Ryuuto even more from now on and I wanna touch Ryuuto more and more, that’s what I feel…. If I have sex when I truly want to, for the first time in my life, I wondered if it could really make my body and mind feel good
Even though last night she said that to me, but, is she telling me that her feelings become changed in a day?
In that case then… but wait, at this kind of place!?
Although such thought crossed my mind, my body has already reacted. The fact that I was holding on to the horny feelings from last night didn’t help either, and it helped ignite my lust.
I was feeling good and my head was light-headed, so even though I sensed some kind of discomfort, I hugged Shirakawa-san’s slender body.
“…Shirakawa-san, are you sure?”
When I buried my nose in her neck, I could smell a girlish, sweet vanilla-like smell.
A sigh mixed with a passionate, long breath was blown into my ear.
I embraced her body over again, strongly tracing her as if to check her body line. Her light-colored wavy hair tickled my nose as if luring me in.
As if not able to endure it anymore, Shirakawa-san let out a small gasp. That’s extremely lewd and so arousing that it sent shivers down my spine.
This was all the first time for me, so if I were to actually take a step to do something like this, I knew I’d absolutely be flustered. That said, my brain was in a hazy, light-headed state, and it robbed me off of my awareness regarding suspicious details, so I was able to act on instinct.
I reached my hand towards the bottom part of her uniform blouse and ran my fingers over her slightly sweaty, smooth skin.
Shirakawa-san bent her body backwards, and her reaction made her stick tightly to me. Towards her adorable reaction, I hugged her even more tightly and tried to feel her.
And then, I suddenly sensed a strong sense of discomfort.
──Can you, hug me?
Even now, my whole body still vividly remembered the sensation when I hugged Shirakawa-san last night. And the elasticity sensation of large, soft bulges I felt at the time, I couldn’t feel it no matter how hard I hugged her.
…Were Shirakawa-san’s breasts.. always this small?
At the same time, many doubts arose within me.
Was Shirakawa-san, always this small? She’s indeed small and slender, but now, I feel like the girl in my arms is a size smaller than I remember.
Furthermore, the smell is not the usual Shirakawa-san.
The small sense of discomfort that has been piling up since sometime ago, finally, turned into something I couldn’t ignore.
And then, the true nature of the sense of discomfort I felt at the very beginning, little by little, began to take its distinct shape in my hazy mind.
Shirakawa-san went and visited Kurose-san’s house, but why would she borrow Kurose-san’s phone when her battery ran out? If she’s inside a house, wouldn’t it be faster to borrow a charger? Moreover, going out alone while carrying Kurose-san’s phone… would the owner allow such a thing?
As I was thinking all that, the breast of Shirakawa-san, who was in my embrace, trembled unnaturally.
When I separated our bodies, with an “Ah”, Shirakawa-san pulled her phone from her breast pocket as if in a hurry. “Saitou-kun” was shown on the screen. With a fumbling hand, she tapped the accept call button.
“Kurose-san? I’ve locked up the storage room like you said! Kurose-sa…”
The voice coming out from the phone was cut-off there. Looks like she’s in too much of a hurry that she can’t tap the end call button quite accurately.
I think the voice I heard just now was our class’s Saitou’s, no doubt. He was a guy who previously carried files of paper for Koruse-san until the staff room when I and Kurose-san were on class duty.
Shirakawa-san was holding onto Kurose-san’s phone, so it wasn’t particularly weird if there’s a call directed to Kurose-san.
However… I saw it.
The face illuminated by the light coming from the screen was subtly different from the face of Shirakawa-san I knew.
I was so surprised my voice became hoarse.
What’s the meaning of this?
Kurose-san seemed to be wearing a different make-up than what she’s usually wearing. And she, indeed, looked a little like Shirakawa-san. The light-colored long wavy hair, too, was Shirakawa-san-ish.
“Why is Kurose-san…?”
My head was in a great panic as to what was going on.
In front of me, Kurose-san froze for a while when she saw my state.
When I asked her, she let out a small sigh and took the wig on her head. She then released her tied up hair and Kurose-san’s usual black hair flowed down beautifully.
“Who knows, I don’t know where Runa is. Isn’t she at home eating the dinner grandma made around this time?”
In other words, Shirakawa-san has nothing to do with this at all, huh. Understanding that Kurose-san hasn’t done anything to me, I felt a little relieved.
“How did you….”
To the dumbfounded me, Kurose-san was pleasantly smiling. My eyes have become accustomed to the darkness inside the storage room, and now I was able to see few details.
“Me and Runa don’t look alike at all from the outside, but our voices are exactly alike. Since we were little, even our parents also mistake us when on the phone. …Hey, Ryuuto!”
For a moment, I felt like I was really called by Shirakawa-san’s voice. Even though I knew the origin of the voice, I ended up looking behind me.
Why didn’t I notice it. No, it’s not just me, even no one in class has mentioned it before. Probably, it’s because the tone and wordings she used when speaking are different, I guess.
I didn’t know, so I ended up coming all the way here thinking that it’s a call from Shirakawa-san, without doubting it.
“…Why are you doing such a thing?”
“I already told you. ‘I.. wanna have sex with Ryuuto’……..”
Imitating Shirakawa-san’s voice again, Kurose-san smiled.
I remembered what happened earlier, and I trembled.
I see, I… doing something like that with Kurose-san….
This thumping heart and cold sweat, even I wasn’t sure myself from what kind of emotion it came from.
But at any rate, I at least knew that it’d be bad if I stayed here.
“…W-well then, I will go now”
I turned on my heel and returned to the entrance, but the metal sliding didn’t budge.
“I had the door locked from the outside. You did hear it earlier, didn’t you?”
Saitou’s doing, huh.
Losing strength, I planted my back on the door and sat down.
“Saitou-kun is in the judo club, so he often uses the key to the storage room. I took advantage of that, and asked him to do it this evening”
I understood that Saitou was easily doing as Kurose-san said because of ulterior motives. Kurose-san is an idol-grade beauty so it’s not impossible.
“…I’ll go out through that window. Or calling the staff room because it looks like the teacher’s still there…”
“Are you sure? Even if Runa finds out?”
“I’ll tell Runa. What Kashima-kun did earlier”
When I tried to make a rebuttal, Kurose-san knelt down facing me, and embraced me.
Kurose-san whispered to my ear as I was frozen still.
“If we go all the way, I won’t tell anyone”
What did she say…?
What I remembered were Yamana-san’s words.
──Can you promise me that you absolutely won’t do anything that will make Runa worried?
Earlier, I hugged Kurose-san and got in a naughty mood because I thought it’s Shirakawa-san.
But, it’s actually Kurose-san… And no matter how many excuses I come up with, like how her voice sounded like Shirakawa-san’s or like how I wasn’t sober, it’s the truth that I’m here, alone with Kurose-san and we hugged each other.
If Shirakawa-san finds out what happened here…
Even as I was in limbo thinking such a thing, Kurose-san tightly embraced me. Being glued to a soft body, the feeling I had earlier came back. Even at this very moment, I love Shirakawa-san, but my body slowly became hot, contrasting my heart.
“…Will you.. keep your mouth shut if we go all the way?
I nervously asked her, and Kurose-san nodded.
“Yep. I won’t tell anyone. I mean, Saitou-kun also doesn’t think that I’m inside, so it’ll never get found out”
Kurose-san whispered close to my ear, and the hands she put on my back went up and down as if stroking me.
“If you love Runa that much, then I’ll pretend to be your Runa. …Okay, Ryuuto?”
Even though I knew it in my head, I went under illusion.
I had a flashback of my horny feeling from last night, and before I knew it, I was pushing Kurose-san to the floor.
Kurose-san’s hand entered my shirt.
My head was in a daze and hot.
As long as Kurose-san keeps her mouth shut…
But, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ll betray Shirakawa-san.
Thinking about this, feelings of calmness came back to me a little.
But, a thing better than having it exposed by a failed attempt and making her worried is…
But still, a betrayal is a betrayal.
Inside my head, an angel and a devil were whispering at a dizzying pace.
I stopped my breath at the moment her voice was whispered close to my ear
──Ryuuto, so warm…. I feel at ease
Last night, Shirakawa-san’s voice resounded with happiness in my ear.
The voice, and also the warmth… it’s certainly alike, however.
The one here.. is not Shirakawa-san.
I came back to my senses. Then I separated myself from her and stood up.
“…One thing, do you mind if I confirm one thing with you?”
I’ve been feeling that something’s slightly weird since sometime ago. But my head was in a daze, so I couldn’t confirm what it was, though. And finally, it struck me.
“I thought that the reason Kurose-san was pretending to be Shirakawa-san and summoning me here, was in order to get revenge on Shirakawa-san, however…”
Kurose-san resents the fact that, when their parents divorced, her beloved father took the custody of Shirakawa-san instead of Kurose-san. That was why she previously spread bad rumors about Shirakawa-san, trying to harass her. This time too, I think it’s also the extension of that.
“If that’s the case, if me and Kurose-san… umm, if we enter a physical relationship and never tell anyone about it, wouldn’t it then be meaningless from Kurose-san’s point of view?”
Kurose-san also raised herself up, sat down on the floor, and looked at me with upturned eyes.
“…Why do you think so? Are you telling me that I will tell Runa either way?”
“I mean, if you don’t… is there any gain for Kurose-san? What’s the point…”
Of seducing a man you don’t even like?
At the moment I thought so.
“…I do love you”
Kurose-san spoke in a whisper.
“It’s because I love you… I just, wanted to do it with Kashima-kun”
There’s no way she… and when I looked at Kurose-san while thinking that in my head, she’s casting her eyes down and shaking. Even in the darkness, I could see that her cheeks were tinged with red, and she’s biting her lips so strongly it turned white.
I found it hard to think that this was all an act.
“I love you… since the time you scolded me when I spread bad rumors about Runa”
“…I wonder why. I guess it’s because I felt like you’re being so kind6 to me. When I was talking about my story, too, you’re earnestly listening to it…”
Kurose-san, who answered me bashfully, then stiffened her expression and looked up at me.
“As long as you keep silent to Runa, it’d be all fine”
I shook my head, as I’ve completely regained my senses and my thoughts became clear.
“Even so, I can’t do any more of this. It would be a betrayal towards Shirakawa-san, besides…”
To Kurose-san who fixedly looked up at me, I spoke.
“I feel bad for Kurose-san, too”
When Kurose-san heard this, she opened her eyes wide like she was shocked.
“Is anyone there!? I can hear you talking”
I heard someone’s voice coming from the gymnasium. And with a click, the lock was unlocked, and the sliding door opened.
Standing there was a security guard with a flashlight, seeming to be on patrol.
“What are you doing at this kind of place? From what year and class? I have to tell the teacher…”
The moment we heard it, Kurose-san started to run.
“Hey! Don’t run!”
Seeing that the security guard was being undecided whether to chase her or not, I also started to run.
“Wait, you lot!”
If the teacher were to be informed, not only Shirakawa-san, but the whole school would know that I was alone with Kurose-san in the storage room.
When I left the gymnasium, Kurose-san was waiting for me and then spoke.
“I’ll leave through the back gate, so Kashima-kun go back through the side gate”
And as Kurose-san was about to go, she turned around and looked at me.
“…In any case, I love you”
She told me with a smile, and started to run.
I was left alone, and started to blank out for a moment, however.
Remembering the security guard, I quickly started to run to the side gate.
It was a long day.
As looked back at the event last night, when I spent it holding hands with Shirakawa-san hardly getting any sleep, it’s hard to believe that it all happened practically on the same day.
After I got home, I lay down on the bed in my room and the fatigue came on pouring in.
I stared at the ceiling while thinking idly. What came to my mind was, as expected, it was what Kurose-san had said earlier.
──In any case, I love you
Was that.. a confession?
If that’s the case.. should I give a reply?
In the storage room, I told Kurose-san that I couldn’t go all the way, but we were immediately chased by the security guard and we ended up split up in an unsettled manner. I felt like I didn’t respond clearly and it bothered me.
When I recalled the series of events happening inside the storage room, my heart started pounding violently.
Kurose-san.. really is cute. I think she could choose any man she wants, and yet, why me.
Well, I liked her when I was in the first year of middle school, and even now, if I hadn’t been dating Shirakawa-san… no, there’s no point thinking about this “what if”.
It’s because right now.. I can’t think of anyone else but Shirakawa-san.
I’ll make it clear to Kurose-san.
With that in mind, I opened LINE.
Somehow not being able to stay lying down, I sat upright on the bed and tapped the voice call symbol. I felt like it would be rude to turn her down with just a text.
Kurose-san immediately picked it up.
“Hello, Kurose-san? Did you get home safely?”
“That’s good. …Umm, about what you said earlier”
Being called out in a strong tone, I stopped talking.
“I know what you’re going to say. But, I want to hear it face to face”
“If you say it on the phone, I can’t give up. I won’t bother Kashima-kun anymore and this will be the last time, so… can I meet you just one more time?”
The way of speaking just now was Kurose-san’s, but the type of voice was certainly similar to Shirakawa-san’s. When I thought about it, I was having even more of a hard time ignoring it.
“…I understand. But, we’re meeting outside, okay?”
When I told her that, as I was wary that it’d end up like it did today, Kurose-san laughed a little from the other side of the phone.
“I know. We can meet at a park or something”
“It’s getting late already, so can we meet tomorrow?”
“Yeah. Then tomorrow when it’s bright”
Thus, we decided on the specific time and place, then we ended the call.
The next day. It was a day with cloudy sultry weather.
Even after nearing noon, Ichi and Nishi weren’t online in Discord. It got me worried, so I called Ichi’s LINE for the time being.
I was exhausted yesterday, so I ended up falling asleep even though I was worrying about those two.
“Hello? Ichi? Are you okay?”
Since I didn’t hear any voice even though the call got connected, I tried to ask. And in the next moment, it was returned with a sound so loud I thought my phone would crack.
“I’M NOT OKAY AT AAAAAAAAALL!!”
It seems that something happened, but I’m relieved he’s okay for now.
“That bitch! Calpi● Soda my ass!! There’s no way a Ca●pis would make my head hurt so much like it’d split open!!!”
“That’s right, what a shit joke!! How dare she play around with a gloomy person’s pure heart!!!”
From nearby, I could also hear Nishi’s voice.
“Is Nishi there, too?”
“This is my house! Of course I’d be here!”
“Nishi let me spend the night here… ‘You have the nerve coming home at this hour with your face all red as a high school student’, I was told that and got punched hard by my old man, you see… and I was kicked out of the house”
Ichi explained it with a sorrowful voice to the bewildered me.
“My parents were also upset, but I explained it’s a crappy employee making a mistake in the order. And I managed to get into the house with Ichi, somehow”
Certainly, whether it’s intentional or by mistake, any employee who served high school students that kind of drink would be crappy, wouldn’t they…
“So I went to bed, but since dawn I’ve been vomiting and crashing down, and my head hurts”
“I’ve decided I’m never drinking again!”
“That shitty demon gal!”
“And Kashi was gone since god knows when!”
“Ah, yeah, about that.. I’m really sorry…”
Their resentment was pointed at me, so I hurriedly apologize.
“After you two fell asleep, I didn’t have anything to do. And Yamana-san told me she’d look after you two afterwards, so that’s why…”
“That shitty demon gal! Looking after someone my ass!! She has the nerves saying ‘I’m leaving now, so go home’, throwing two water bottles at us and kicking us out!!!”
“That person is not a demon gal! She’s just a demon!!!”
“I’ll slice her up with my sun katana!!”
I kind of had a hunch regarding that, but I guess they really weren’t treated warmly.
It also applies to me, but I’m sorry that it has been a very awful first time at an izakaya for those two… And as I was thinking that.
“As expected, going to an izakaya is a bad idea”
“Guess so. If you’re aiming to be a normie, we have to go to the sea with a girl just like Kashi”
“There’s no girls, though. For the time being, I guess it’ll work out if I go to the sea”
“Yeah, it’s going to the sea for now”
“Next year will be a dark summer of studying for exams, so I’ve gotta have a look on gals in swimsuit this year”
As if to escape reality, Ichi and Nishi were talking about their future plan.
“…But Yamana-san was worried about you two, you know?”
I told them this because I thought that their impression of Yamana-san would’ve turned for the worst if I hadn’t, though, but it’s not like it’s a complete lie.
Last night, I got a text from Yamana-san saying “They made it home safely, and get them some turmeric7 if it looks bad”.
Then Ichi’s tone of voice changed.
“Even a demon gal has a human heart, huh…”
“Going hot cold hot cold like this, ain’t she too much of a gap moe expert?”
“I guess it really is the era of a demon gal”
“This carrot and stick loop is inescapable!”
With Nishi, he exchanged frustrated remarks. I’m glad that they’re such strong friends.
Thus, I found out they were safe, and then the three of us talked about trivial things for a while, then ended the call.
After that, I began to change from my home-use-jersey in order to meet Kurose-san.
The meeting place I’ve decided with Kurose-san was a large park near the K Station. In the first place, Kurose-san had gone to the same public middle school as me, so her home was close. And also, her grandpa’s house, which she came back to, was at the same place as it had been in the past.
When I arrived at the park that was 10-minute walk away from my house, I found Kurose-san had already come even though it’s still several minutes before the appointed time.
When she noticed me, Kurose-san smiled happily. Her face is so cute, and it’s painful to think about what I will tell her.
I liked her in the beginning and her look is my type, so it makes it even more painful for me.
But, I have to properly tell her. In order to not make Shirakawa-san worried, I have to tell Kurose-san clearly.
“Thank you for coming, Kashima-kun”
Kurose-san.. has such a soft smile.
That was not the flattering smile she showed to the guys in class, nor the malicious smile she showed when she’s spreading bad rumors about Shirakawa-san, but it was a natural smile she would make in front of her friends or someone she loved.
Someone she loves… as expected, it’s the truth when she said she loved me, huh…
“Can we talk while we walk?”
Following Kurose-san’s proposal, we decided to walk along the promenade inside the park. Under fine weather, the sunlight passing through leaves of trees would make this place beautiful, but under cloudy weather like today, it felt awfully bleak. Considering that places where you could spend time outdoors pleasantly in this midsummer were few, this place was a nice and cool place with its man-made stream flowing nearby.
“Kashima-kun, I thought you were caught by the security guard”
“I was fine. Looks like he was just talking and never came after me”
“Is that so. I wonder if it’s because he’s a grandpa
The park was located on high ground along the railroads, and our conversation would occasionally be interrupted due to the sound of passing trains and planes passing by in the sky.
After interruptions for the umpteenth time, I steeled myself and started to talk.
And then Kurose-san stopped walking.
“Kashima-kun, you know”
Kurose-san, who spoke up and stared ahead, dropped her gaze to her feet and softly smiled.
“Until I came here, I had fun. …I felt like I was going on a date, wondering what I should wear, doing my hair…”
Somewhat surprised, I looked at Kurose-san’s whole body. Kurose-san was wearing a black and pink gingham check dress. Her handbag and shoes were black, and although not to the point of gothic lolita, it was overall a combination of items with girlish taste.
“But, I’ll get turned down. I knew it, but it’s painful, isn’t it…”
Drops fell on Kurose-san’s feet. As I was about to look at the sky wondering if it’s finally raining, I was caught by her eyes.
Kurose-san was crying. Pursing her lips, she narrowed her eyes as if enduring it. And from those eyes, large teardrops flowed one after another.
“Guys who have confessed to me so far… and Kashima-kun, too, I wonder if this is how you felt? I’m sorry, for making you feel painful things, Kashima-kun…”
“I’m sorry, Kurose-san…”
When I said the same words Kurose-san said, her shoulders went up and down in a great movement.
I did come here to properly turn her down.
However, I felt like it’d be too harsh to her now if I said more than I already have. Even with only that, it should’ve been more than enough to convey my feelings.
I have always thought that I’m not popular and got rejected by the girl I liked because I’m a gloomy guy with a mob face. But, love is about connection between people and timing. That’s why, a beauty like Kurose can also get turned down by an uncool guy like me. There’s even the case where a really cute and good girl like Shirakawa-san was constantly made to cry by men. And a guy like me can also date a lovely girl like Shirakawa-san.
You’re unpopular because you’re gloomy, you’re a cute girl so you’d have an easy life, I realized that such things are nothing but preconceived views.
“With this, I was able to revenge for being turned down in the past”, such a thing, not even an atom of it crossed my mind, however.
──I’m sorry. I’m.. only think of Kashima-kun as a friend…
I felt like the huge weight that I had been carrying in my heart since that moment was lifted all of sudden.
“Kurose-san… do you want to sit down and rest for a bit?”
There were many benches along the promenade in various places. To me, who made the proposal out of concern for the public eyes, Kurose-san jumped at me so suddenly and quickly.
My body froze solid immediately. And as I tried to separate away from her.
“…hic… uuu…. hic”
Like a child, she’s crying right in front of me. It made my heart ache so I wasn’t able to do it.
“hic… Kashima-ku… n”
In between crying, Kurose-san squeezed out the words out of her throat with her utmost effort.
“I’ll be going home soon, so… hic, just for a bit… let me stay like this”
Kurose-san buried her face in my chest and wrapped her hands around my back, hugging me and crying as if she’s clinging to me.
I couldn’t hug back this delicate back, however.
Only at this moment, I felt like I wanted to be there for her feelings.
^5. Heavy as in the feeling or something like that. I can’t think of any good English word for it hence this TL note
^6. originally, the meaning of kindness here is about the kindness you’d find from your family/relatives. But since it’d be too long, I made it “so kind”