TL: sleepy Pop
It is currently 3:51 in the afternoon. There is lesser than 10 minutes left before the time that Ryouma and Himeno have agreed to meet at.
Ryoma was wearing a white shirt with a leather jacket underneath, skinny black jeans, white sneakers, and a navy blue scarf.
Ryoma heeded kaya’s advice and adopted the colour white to create a clean appearance.
The meeting location was in front of the fountain in East Park, a popular jogging spot.
He was instructed by the company to arrive at precisely 16:00, and was given information on the client.
Name: Kashiwagi Himeno. Age: 19. Height: 147 cm. She has silver hair and is wearing a black dress with many frills and ribbons.
Ryouma was surprised that the client was 19 years old. He imagined that he would be dealing with someone in their twenties or thirties, so he relooked at the e-mail from the company dozens of times. He then finally understood what was going on. Ryoma was thinking,” That might be the case ……, she might actually be 19 years old.” The rude thought of the client being older than was actually listed definitely did not cross Ryoma’s mind. No, it didn’t even enter his mind. ( I think the author is trying to say that Ryoma might have believed that Himeno is older than what was stated, but he realizes that that not true.”)
Ryoma felt tense, but he kept repeating the advice Kaya had given him in his mind as he walked into East Park.
Their meetup spot, the fountain, is roughly 100 meters away from where Ryoma was standing. Before he went to the rendezvous location, he used his phone’s camera for double-checking his appearance, making sure it was alright.
Unlike his usual college appearance, Ryoma could see that his hair, which was styled with wax and hair spray, was in perfect shape. Ryoma arrived in front of the fountain at fifteen fifty-four, which was 6 minutes earlier. He caught a glimpse of the girl sitting on a bench in front of the fountain, dressed in a black dress while fiddling with her phone. She was wearing a black ribbon on her silver-haired head and white stockings.
Ryoma felt it the minute he glimpsed Himeno’s appearance. He is dressed in a way that lets her shine brightly. This is the first time he has been able to accomplish this, and he felt a great sense of achievement.
Himeno’s face is youthful, but she has a faint paleness to her complexion. Her silver hair was trimmed short enough to hide her delicate brows, and she has long lashes, along with big purple eyes. Her beauty makes it difficult to imagine she doesn’t have a boyfriend.
Ryoma swallowed his saliva as he recognized that Himeno was on a different level. His heart is racing so fast that it could burst, and he feels out of breath. The more he dwells on the difference of their looks, the less he can say, “It’s good for me “, or feel “happy”.
It would be strange to think, “Dating a girl like this is too hard on me ……,” or “This is more like a punishment game …….”
Surrounded by anxiety as he stood there, Ryoma wanted to escape reality. Just as he puts his hands over his eyes as if the anxiety engulfed him, he feels a thump.
Ryoma heard a thud, seemingly from something being dropped. Looking at the source of the sound, he immediately found the cause.
His client, Himeno, had dropped the phone she was holding in both hands. Himeno picked up the phone without any trouble, but the atmosphere between them had changed.
Himeno shook her tiny shoulders, wriggled her body, and rubbed her cheeks with both hands. Her conduct changed as the time approached 16:00.
It was impolite to be laughing, yet Ryoma could not stop it as the tension between him and Himeno has dissipated. He realized that Himeno was also nervous, and it felt as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders as he was not the only nervous person.
“It’s about time. Let’s go.”(Ryoma)
“In and out, take a deep breath—three long breaths. The time on my wristwatch is 16:00”, Ryoma thought to himself.
“Let’s get started.”(Ryoma)
I should pretend that I have just arrived at the bench in front of the fountain, Ryoma suggested to himself mentally.
Ryoma inched slightly closer to Himeno to shorten the distance between them and gave a slight cough. Following that, he tried to be cheerful so that she would feel at ease.
“I’m sorry if I’m wrong. Himeno Kashiwagi … is that right?”(Ryoma)
Himeno, who was fiddling with her phone, jerked her shoulders when Ryoma suddenly approached her. She opened her crystal clear purple eyes and looked at Ryoma.
She has a small face that you would fall in love with just by looking at her closely. Her cute and adorable vibe makes it so that you would want to protect her.
“Ah, yes. I’m …… Himeno. Are you …… Shiba-san?”(Himeno)
Her voice was muffled and quiet, but her tone was clear and concise, which was easy to hear.
“Yes, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Shiba Ryoma. Thank you for using my agency. I look forward to working with you.”(Ryoma)
“It’s nice to meet you…….”(Himeno)
Himeno slowly stood up as her chocolate-coloured shoes plopped onto the ground. The difference in height between the two of them was probably more than 20 centimetres. Due to the sheer height difference between both parties, Himeno had to face upwards to see Ryoma.
“So……, first of all, would it be better for you if I change my tone? I think it would be difficult for Himeno-san to deal with me like this.”(Ryoma)
“Hmm……, I want you to change your tone.”(Himeno)
“So, …………, yeah. Is this fine with you?”(Ryoma)
As this is a lover’s agency, many clients don’t like formal tones because they feel distant. It is an unspoken rule that the agent should have this matter cleared up before starting.
It took a lot of courage to use an honest tone with someone he had never met before, but he had to do it. Ryoma consciously raised the corners of his mouth and managed a natural smile. It was a nerve-wracking task, but the tantalizing sum of money he would get motivated him to do his best and succeed.
“I feel that it was a great way to get closer.”(Himeno)
“Oh, haha. Thanks for that. Let me know if you’re uncomfortable, and I’ll try my best to accommodate your request.”(Ryoma)
“Oh, no problem. It’s fine…….”(Himeno)
“Thank you. I’ll leave it at this then.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma doesn’t feel awkward, as Himeno is silent and does not often change her facial expression. She has a unique personality and is able to convey her feelings with little words.
“So… er…, Himeno-san,”(Ryoma)
When Ryoma was trying to find out where their destination for today was, he hit the first wall.
“……You can call me Himeno.”(Himeno)
Himeno suddenly makes a difficult request, but it was not something strange. Dropping the honorifics from her name makes her feel as if she and Ryoma are actual lovers.
“Ahh, I’m sorry. It’s nothing, really.”(Ryoma)
“If so, call me Himeno.”
Himeno pressuring Ryoma is the last thing he wants right now. However, he has no choice but to adhere as this is the only way for him to get money.
Ryoma, looking at Himeno’s round eyes, courageously opened his mouth.
“Hi, Himeno……, was that okay?”(Ryoma)
“Mm…… . I’ll call you Shiba.”(Himeno)
“E~eh? You are calling me by my first name?”(Ryoma)
“W-what’s wrong with that?”(Himeno)
Ryoma had cold sweat in response to Himeno’s question. He was afraid that his question had annoyed Himeno, but it didn’t.
“Calling me by my name makes me embarrassed …”(Himeno)
“Oh, I see. Then it can’t be helped.”(Ryoma)
“You can call me Shiba too…then”(Ryoma)
“O-kay. I’ll do that.”(Himeno)
Ryoma agrees with Himeno, who looks away and blushes slightly, but her inner feelings were a little different.
“I’m embarrassed too! It’s sly! “. However, Himeno is the client this time, so she couldn’t possibly complain.
“Today, we’re going to IYON.”(Himeno)
“Is that the mall where the buffet stores are right in front?”(Ryoma)
“OkayOkay. Well, the clock is ticking, so let’s get going.”(Ryoma)
“Yes. let’s go.”(Himeno)
Ryoma, who personally thought that Himeno would feel more comfortable if he let her take the lead in the conversation, somehow managed to take the lead instead.
Just when Ryoma was about to walk out of the park with Himeno while feeling relieved that he had not messed up, another request was made by Himeno.
“Shiba …… Yes.”(Himeno)
Himeno suddenly calls his name. Ryoma moved his head, and he noticed the snow-coloured pinky finger that was presented in front of his face.
“It’s embarrassing to hold hands right off the bat, … so first connect your little finger.”(Himeno)
“Ah, we just met, so is this okay with you?”(Ryoma)
Ryoma’s inexperience showed when he confirmed it in this way. If he were a seasoned agent, he would have grasped her little finger in reply. However, this was Himeno’s first time using the service. He was sure that she’d be pleased to know that she isn’t the only one who’s a bit nervous about this.
Even though she requested it herself, she would be embarrassed if Ryoma had just not asked questions and held her pinky. This was especially true since Himeno has never had a boyfriend before.
Himeno was red up to her ears, making awkward noises and feeling embarrassed, but she didn’t twitch her pinky finger.
It was the natural thing to do in order to enjoy the experience of being a lover fully. As a client, Himeno really wanted to hold hands with Ryoma today.
“Oh, I see. I’m glad you’re okay with it. I’ll hold your pinky, okay?”(Ryoma)
“…… okay okay”(Himeno)
After Himeno’s reply, Ryoma gently grasped her pinky finger. Himeno’s finger felt moist and soft. It was also cold, perhaps due to the cold weather.
“A-ah……, t-thank you……”(Himeno)
“No need to thank me. Let’s just go to IYON.”.(Ryoma)
As soon as they held hands, Ryoma saw that Himeno had hardened and had walked up front and taken the lead. The fact that he was able to switch to that way of thinking right away was a good sign that he was a good ‘boyfriend’. Thinking about his current job, Ryoma was wondering where to apply Kaya’s advice at.
Himeno didn’t know when the last time she held hands with a man was ……. Maybe it was a field trip back in elementary school.
She wondered if Shibe could hear the sound of her heart. Himeno had asked him to hold her hand, but she was so nervous ……. Himeno felt embarrassed about the way she had Shiba hold her pinky ……. But there was nothing awkward about it and she was happy that Shiba was leading the way.
“What’s your favourite food Himeno?”(Ryom)
“……I like sweet things.”(Himeno)
“Do you like pancakes?”(Ryoma)
“I like fluffy pancakes the most.”(Himeno)
“Ah, it’s the one they show on TV and stuff.”(Ryoma)
“Yes, it’s so delicious!”(Himeno)
Shiba knew right away that Himeno was not a good talker.He brought up a lot of topics to keep Himeno from getting nervous.
It’s funny how Shiba doesn’t feel awkward when talking to a stranger. This makes him really amazing……
“Is there anything you dislike?”(Ryoma)
“Shiitake!? That’s such a waste.”(Ryoma)
“Do you like Shiitake, Shiba?”(Himeno)
“I love it. I’m a bit of a foodie, and if it’s in sukiyaki, my chopsticks will be the first to grab it.”(Ryoma)
“The ones with the crosscuts on the top?”(Himeno)
“Ah, yes, the ones with the decorative cuts. If I’m going to eat shiitake, I’d also rather plop the whole thing in my mouth.”(Ryoma)
“W-wait, what’s with the silence? Your face tells me you think i’m joking!”(Ryoma)
“I wonder if you’re telling the truth.You look like you have just seen a monster.”(Ryoma)
“I think i did……”(Himeno)
“H-hey! You’ve been teasing me from the start!”(Ryoma)
“It’s not funny though!?”(Ryoma)
Himeno tried to make fun of Ryoma but he didn’t get angry.Instead, he replied in a kind way and made it funny.
She was wondering whether all agents were like Ryoma…… but Himeno quickly dismissed the notion. She was just lucky and pulled a lucky agent.
“Are you a student?”(Himeno)
It’s a strange question to ask out of the blue, but Himeno and Ryoma would have something in common if that was the case.
“Yep I’m in my second year of college. I heard from the agency that you’re a teenager. …… Are you also a student?”(Ryoma)
“Yes. Im a freshman in college.”(Himeno)
“Oh! It’s a lot harder than high school, isn’t it? University, that is.”(Ryoma)
“Yes, I have a lot of assignments, the lectures are long, and its hard to score.”(Himeno)
Himeno is a student, but she has a part-time job. Her schoolwork and projects have deadlines that she has to meet, and it’s hard to cope. When there are university exams coming up, It’s hard to get any rest.
“I know that feeling too. It’s hard to adapt to the difficulty even after 2 years.”(Ryoma)
“I think it depends on the university, but as you go through the grades, there are more and more required courses, so the assignments get longer and tougher.”(Ryoma)
“I didn’t to hear that.”(Himeno)
“Hehe, I’m sorry, but this is revenge for looking at me like a monster.”(Ryoma)
Shiba has a look of triumph on his face. He was teasing Himeno, but he’s thinking it through. He didn’t let go of Himeno’s hand despite the teasing.
Himeno was glad that Shiba did not let go of her pinnky, as she wouldn’t have the courage to ask him to hold it again.
“I don’t think you need to worry too much about your assignments. I’ve been able to keep up, so you should be fine as well.”(Ryoma)
“I hope so.”(Himeno)
“I’ve only known you for a short while, but I think you’re hard-working, you don’t give up easily and have great mental strength, so you will have no problems.”(Ryoma)
“……Why do you think so?”(Himeno)
Ryoma had many ideas about Himeno’s personality, so he was surprised.
“What if I told you I have psychic powers?”(Ryoma)
“I’m going to hurt your pinky.”(Himeno)
“Huh!? I-Im sorry! You didn’t like it that much!?”(Ryoma)
“Payback for being mean to me. Hmph!”(Himeno)
“Tha-, wai-…, oh, you got me. I’m done for.”(Ryoma)
“FuFuFu, You’re easy, Shiba.”(Himeno)
“Oh, you say things like that to older people.”(Ryoma)
“Shiba is older than me, and you’re my ……b-boyfriend, so I’ll tell you.”(Himeno)
Currently,Himeno is doing what she has always yearned for. She’s able to do couple-ish things such as holding hands. . “I’m getting really embarrassed…..”, she felt that it was a little inappropriate to be calling Shiba her boyfriend.
“Well then, as Himeno’s boyfriend, can I say something?”(Ryoma)
“Your clothes look great on you, Himeno.”(Ryoma)
“I’m sorry it took me so long to tell you. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since the beginning, but I just couldn’t find the right time.”(Ryoma)
“Oh …… It’s fine… Thank you ……”(Himeno)
Himeno didn’t think Shiba would compliment her directly to her face ……. And she never had a man compliment her before, so she was really happy. She could feel her blood rushing to her cheeks.
“Could it be….. that Himeno is shy?”(Ryoma)
“N-no, i’m not shy.”(Himeno)
“Then face me.”(Ryoma)
Himeno drowned out Ryoma’s voice with her reply.
Maybe Himeno wanted to be complimented and was impatient?
Ryoma thinks it’s easy to read Himeno, who does not have prior dating experience. Maybe it’s
due to him being Himeno’s agent.
Himeno was feeling nervous the whole time, yet it was unfair to her as Shiba looked so relaxed.
Himeno guessed that that’s just the difference in experience between her and Ryoma, who is an agent.
But she’s not going to let him get the better of her. Himeno didn’t want to be embarrassed any further.
It took 20 minutes to take care of the embarrassing stuff.
“Alright……, where shall we go first?”(Ryoma)
Shiba asked me when we reached IYON. There are so many people here, but Himeno and Shiba were still holding hands. She didn’t mind it at all, but it’s attracting so much attention ……. There are so many people watching them, and yet Shiba is so calm and composed. It’s impossible. He’s amazing. ……
“Yeah, uh, ……, we’ll go to the bubble tea place first.”(Himeno)
Going to the bubble tea shop was meant to be the last thing for the date, but Himeno changed her plans.
The reason Himeno changed the plan was because before she met Shiba, she received a text message from Ami that read, “The chestnut smoothie was delicious!” As Ami had already bought a drink, Himeno figured that if she spent some time at the bubble tea shop first, the chances of her being caught by Ami and her friends would decrease.
Ami is supposed to be at IYON with her friends, so Himeno is trying to stay under the radar.
“The bubble tea shop is the one at the corner of the first floor right?”(Ryoma)
“Yeah. They have Chestnut Smoothie on the menu and it’s only available this time of year.”(Himeno)
“So that’s what you came here to drink today?”(Ryoma)
“No, Im drinking brown sugar milk tea with tapioca.”(Himeno)
“”Oh, ……,you aren’t influenced by limited time sales?”(Ryoma)
This is Himeno’s favorite drink. She likes the sweet brown sugar better than the Japanese chestnut.
“After you’ve bought your drink,we can take a break in one of the nearby seats and chat.”(Ryoma)
Himeno thought that Shiba had dated many women besides her. Shiba must be a popular substitute because he leads so well. And yet, this is her first date and she’s not even used to men, so she thought that Ryoma wouldn’t enjoy this date.
“I enjoy it.” It’s easy for Shiba to say this as he is just a stand-in.
Himeno wants Shiba to have fun, but she’s lacking experience, so Ryoma has to put up with her. To make up for this, Himeno bought Ryoma a cup of seasonal chestnut smoothie.
“Thanks for treating me to a chestnut smoothie, Himeno.”(Ryoma)
“It’s fine. You are not supposed to bear any costs of the date as per the agency’s rules.”(Himeno)
“Oh, haha ……. I’m sorry, I did it out of habit…….”(Ryoma)
“It was thoughtful of you to do that. But please be careful next time, Okay?”(Himeno)
We took a break and chatted on the seats along the side of the store after purchasing our drinks.
Himeno was taken aback at first. Shiba tried to pay the bill as they were ordering the drinks, despite the agency’s regulations. But Himeno noticed and stopped him. If she had not noticed, she would have let Shiba pay for the drinks. ”I must follow the rules……”, she thought. Himeno was relieved to learn that Shiba was willing to pay for her drink though.
“It’s ok. Do you want to have a drink with me then?” (Himeno)
“Oh, sure. Thanks!.”(Ryoma)
Shiba clasped his hands together and drank the chestnut smoothie.
“Shiba, is it good?”(Himeno)
“……! It’s so good!”(Ryoma)
The bubble tea store here is well-known for its delectable drinks. Many individuals look as satisfied as Shiba with their eyes wide open as they drink. Himeno followed Shiba’s example and drank her tea as well.
It’s prepared with brown sugar syrup and thick milk. The pearls are big and gooey and it tastes amazing.Himeno can’t help but want to drink this everyday. She took small mouths and savoured the flavour.
As Himeno was chewing on the pearls, Shiba suddenly laughed. Looking closer, she could tell that Shiba was pretty happy.
“…… is there something on my face?”(Himeno)
“I’m sorry. I just never knew Himeno could make that sort of face..”(Ryoma)
“What kind of face?”(Himeno)
“The kind of face you make when you’re eating your favourite food, you know… the happy face.”(Ryoma)
How is Shiba not embarrassed to say these kinds of things? Himeno felt that it was really strange……, almost as if he was making her nervous on purpose.
“Don’t look ……”(Himeno)
Himeno said with a straight face.
“Isn’t it okay, since it’s a date?”(Ryoma)
“No. That’s an order.”(Himeno)
“Order!? Well, that is….do I have to obey…I wonder?”(Ryoma)
Himeno’s not used to dating, so this is what she ordered Shiba to do.
Himeno thinks this is the first time Shiba has ever been told something like this. He looks so confused.
“If you don’t make fun of me, you can look.”(Himeno)
“I didn’t mean to make fun of you though? It was my honest opinion.”(Ryoma)
“Then don’t look.”(Himeno)
“Okay, okay! I’m not going to say anything else! Is that okay?”(Ryoma)
Himeno was thrilled to hear Shiba praise her so much and tell her how he felt, But she was not used to it like Shiba, so Himeno wanted him to do it little by little.
This time, Shiba was trying to not tease Himeno with his reply.
“Shiba was the first person who was not surprised at my dress and complimented me for it.”(Himeno)
It was something Himeno had been thinking of saying to Ryoma for quite some time.
Himeno likes cute and adorable clothes. That’s why she has a lot of them at home and wears them often. She’s aware that she stands out from the rest of the crowd ……. So Himeno wants to express her gratitude to Shiba.. Shiba doesn’t care about that because he’s on a date with Himeno. So he’s walking next to her without looking uncomfortable.
“It may be natural for you since I’m requesting you to act as my boyfriend, but I was worried at first. I wondered if it was okay for me to wear whatever I wanted. I’ve had many friends tell me to wear more normal clothes or that they honestly didn’t want to walk next to me.”(Himeno)
“Well, if I’m honest, I was surprised at first. Gothic? I don’t have any friends who wear gothic or cute fashion.”(Ryoma)
Himeno was surprised. She had the feeling that Shiba wasn’t surprised when they had first met.
“Yes, I was surprised, but I think it didn’t show on my face because Himeno’s fashion matched mine perfectly. The stronger the feeling, the more it doesn’t express on my face.”(Ryoma)
“…… Oh, thank you.”(Himeno)
An awkward air fills the atmosphere. Himeno hesitated before saying anything else.
‘I received another praise from Shiba…… he is most likely aiming for me. I believe he understands what will make me happy. It makes me feel so light-hearted and happy, I can’t help but let out a grin.’(Himeno’s thoughts)
But then Himeno realized that Shiba was an excellent agent, so her previous thought was completely shut down. She was getting carried away by her first date.
Shiba’s job was to be an excellent substitute. He said it was his job to make Himeno feel good, and that’s why he was complimenting her. He was trying to make her happy.
Himeno didn’t want Shiba to praise her just because he is an agent. If Shiba were to praise her, she wanted it to be genuine.
As soon as Himeno realized that, she got depressed.
But Himeno had to get rid of that thought; This is all so selfish……
In order to hide her feelings, Himeno drank her bubble tea.
“I am not praising you as this is my Job. I’m praising you because I wanted to.”
“What? Are you okay?”(Ryoma)
“Ahem…… I’m fine……”(Himeno)
Himeno choked on her bubble tea. She never thought Ryoma would say that.
.”I’m sorry I spoke to you when you were drinking. I should have chosen a better time.”(Ryoma)
Himeno firmly believed Shiba could read her mind. It was scary how accurate he was. She was sure that what she was thinking didn’t show on her face, but she still tried to hide it anyway.
“So, back to the topic at hand, I think I envy you, Himeno.”(Ryoma)
Shiba’s reply to Himeno’s question with a weird face.
”I envy Shiba more. He’s cheerful, good at talking, and seems to have lots of friends.”(Himeno)
”It’s hard to believe that Shiba envies me.”(Himeno)
“I mean, aren’t you very open about your hobbies, like your passion for cute dresses?”(Ryoma)
“I’m the total opposite of you. Even though I have hobbies, I don’t have the courage to express them honestly like you.Plus I haven’t found anything I like.”(Ryoma)
“Yeah. That’s why I envy your way of life, you’ve found a hobby and you’re showing it off. I hope to be able to do the same someday.”(Ryoma)
“I’m not going to lie to you, your fashion sense is a little special, And I’m sure some negatives have been said about it before ……. or maybe they haven’t been said yet. But I hope Himeno will ignore those words. ‘There’s no hobby that isn’t great’ that quote was spread around, and I think it’s true.”(Ryoma)
Himeno had to respond. She had to respond in some way. She knew that, but she kept her lips tightly closed. She didn’t want to open her mouth as her face would loosen up and become weird.
Himeno couldn’t react, so she became silent.
“Oh, er…… sorry! I got a little heated. I’m going to go to the bathroom.”(Ryoma)
“Well, I’ll be waiting, don’t just run away.”(Himeno)
“Yes, of course. I’ll be right back.”(Ryoma)
After leaving his wallet on the seat, Shiba scratched his head and looked really embarrassed. He flashed a bitter smile and walked to the bathroom.
Himeno will be alone here. She tries to drink some milk tea to calm her mind. But she couldn’t get enough strength in her mouth to drink it properly.
‘Shiba trusts me too much.’(Himeno’s thoughts)
Himeno believed that Shiba left his wallet as an indication that he would return.
’It’s a good idea to carry your valuables with you because you’ll be leaving your luggage behind. I might take the money……’(Himeno’s thoughts)
But now is not the time to do so…….
The limit of endurance. The corners of Himeno’s mouth were turning up in spite of the eyes around her. She started laughing out loud. ‘I have to regain my composure’, she thought. At least before Shiba, who will tease me, comes back, ……. Himeno held the cold drink in both her hands and made a straight face.
But Himeno’s face quickly changed, as what she had dreaded the most was happening……
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Hime’s here! It’s my princess!”(Ami)
“Huh? Oh! It’s Himeno!”(Fuko)
Himeno couldn’t find her voice .
Her best friends, Ami and Fuko, are slowly walking towards her……