Why, from the ears of this story’s protagonist, Hiramiya Reiji, “It’s hopeless, a gloomy person shouldn’t fall in love in real life… Gufu…!,” such words let out by his classmate during lunch break didn’t disappear no matter how much time had passed?
It’s probably because I’m a bit of an unattractive gloomy guy, I guess,’Reiji concluded as he stepped off the train, which had arrived at the nearest station, onto the platform.
Today, the first love of his fellow gloomy friend from class ended.
Reiji breathed in as the compressed air was used to open the train doors.
The one who had his heart broken was one of Reiji’s gloomy friends.
His name was Itou Yuuta (Alias).
He was a figure-loving, wholesome otaku high school student.
Of course, as a proud otaku, he had never fallen in love with a real person until he was his age.
Regrettably, however, he had fallen in love with a famous beauty within school.
The reason was simple. That Beauty A was a model.
And then in a certain youth magazine’s gravure picture, she was featured in a cosplay costume of Itou Yuuta’s beloved two-dimensional character.
Even Reiji was momentarily captivated by Beauty A when he saw the gravure picture.
However, the other party was clearly a three-dimensional being.
The protagonist, Reiji, was able to immediately return to his senses.
But his friend, Yuuta, had stayed behind and couldn’t come back.
He had already been deeply in love with Beauty A, who was the life-sized beautiful girl figure.
And then he was killed instantly.
‘…I can’t make conversation with her. But I want to have her interested in me’
Then Itou Yuuta brought the figure of the character Beauty A was dressed as, and took the trouble to display it at a table in the school cafeteria, in the vicinity of her seat.
‘I’m sure when she sees this, she’d be interested in me and start talking to me, like “Ah! That’s the character I cosplayed the other day, right? Do you like that character, too? Then next time, do you wanna have… A secret personal photo session with me?”!! HAaa~~!!’
How did it actually end up?
Certainly, Beauty A had reacted to that figure.
With few words.
Another page in his black history.
Reiji himself, together with his friend, were the ones who had been hit by those words at close range.
Immediately following, Yuuta had said words that, even now, were still stuck in Reiji’s head.
‘It’s hopeless, a gloomy person shouldn’t fall in love in real life… Gufu…!’
Reiji exitted the ticket gate.
The chorus-like line didn’t stop even after he had bought a value pack of three puddings in one at a convenience store.
Things like love.
Something like love was a ray of light that was unrelated to those gloomy friends of his, including Reiji.
The world was cold to gloomy people.
…No, the world didn’t have interest in them.
And then, towards the things that were of no interest, the world didn’t give it… A general humane judgement.
Reiji recalled the monotheistic behaviour he had learned about in world history.
Unless you’re part of those who believed in the same God of Light, in other words, if you’re not a cheery person, you’re not a person.
And then, to something that wasn’t a person, you could do anything you wanted to it, with considerable force.
That’s this world.
Reiji headed forward, trying to somehow shrug off the cruel words directed at his friend during lunch break.
――That’s right. Even among people of the light, among cheery people there are exceptions.
For Hiramiya Reiji, it was his childhood friend, Nanjou Ayato.
Ayato was part of the so-called cheery-tribe. However, he had always been a friend of Reiji ever since they were little.
Even such exceptions could exist.
Currently, Reiji was heading towards Ayato’s house.
Reiji had been very close to him ever since they were very little, and would often come to stay over on day offs.
Today was Friday.
To have a stay over, from Friday night through the day offs like this, was not unusual either.
He proceeded along the familiar street, and arrived in front of a detached house with a blue roof.
The intercom was replaced with a new one last year when the house was renovated.
With the sound of a clear doorbell, Reiji called out for Ayato.
However, what came was the voice of a woman. It’s Ayato’s older sister’s.
“It’s Reiji, is Ayato already back?”
‘He’s not back yet, though?’
Ayato and Reiji were in the same class, but the timing of their return home varied from day to day.
There was also such a day like this, too.
“Is that so, then bye,” said Reiji, who then walked away from the intercom.
It was then, when he thought, how should I pass time in front of the station?, and was about to go back the way he came.
“Hey! Why are you even trying to leave!”
The entrance door was suddenly open, and a woman who looked like a university student appeared.
She was Nanjou Sakuya, the older sister of his best friend, Ayato.
The Nanjou family was full of good-looking people.
His best friend, Ayato, was no exception, and looked attractive.
And then the older sister, Sakuya, also had the kind of looks that would make her a sure-fire entry for this year’s Miss Campus pageant.
She was wearing a stylish, tight dress that didn’t look like loungewear, and even her natural makeup was flawless, perhaps she had been out somewhere.
The aura of a “capable and beautiful onee-san1” that she always released, was released several times more than usual.
Spontaneously, by that aura.
Reiji was overpowered.
A shining type of person. As a result of the so-called cheery person in front of his eyes, his heart started to somehow beat violently.
“Wh-what’s with you, groaning at people like that…”
It could only lead to problems if a cheery person were to know the tangled emotions unique to a gloomy person.
Today, on this issue――there was also the matter during lunch break――Reiji was more sensitive than usual.
“Anyway, I can’t just send my little brother’s friend away like this. So come on, get in”
“You don’t want to…?”
Were he able to honestly say, “I don’t want to,” he wouldn’t be an unattractive gloomy person.
As for Reiji.
“It’s not like I don’t want to, though. But, if Ayato isn’t back yet, then I’d be more comfortable waiting outside”
Above was the meaning of the, (“It’s… I… But~~ ”,) mumbling voice, which he actually uttered. While not being able to say anything but suhc mumbling voice, he was dragged into the entrance by his friend’s older sister, Sakuya.
I was careless.
I should’ve sent Ayato a message and checked if he’s already back before pressing the intercom.
There was a reason as to why Reiji was bad at dealing with his friend’s older sister.
The reason for it was, I’m reeeeaa~lly disliked by Sakuya-san.
“Not coming in…? No way, right?”
“Tha-thank you for having me…”
Look, this sense of intimidation.
As if threatened, Reiji took off his shoes and entered the house.
However, Reiji immediately paused.
It was because, Sakuya-san’s leaning against the wall just right after the entrance, looking at me.
It’s not like she’s being mean by blocking the way.
Wait, hold on…? Isn’t this just, barely before the line of being mean…?
No… She’s definitely being mean…
It makes me feel super duper uncomfortable.
As expected, she definitely dislikes me…
The hallway has enough room even if Sakuya-san is there. It’s not like I can’t move forward.
But she’s really being a hindrance.
Reiji quietly walked past her, like he was trying not to feel Sakuya’s presence as much as possible.
Is Sakuya-san about to go out?
Or she’s just been out from somewhere?
The outfit she’s wearing right now somehow has a design that emphasizes the chest (And she also smells incredibly good).
This way, while avoiding Sakuya-san and moving deeper inside, we might bump into each other as we pass by each other.
If, in the small chance that I bump into Sakuya-san’s large chest armor that’s sticking this way…
I don’t even want to imagine what would happen.
Reiji tried so hard, that he thought he had never focused so hard like this ever since he was born.
Then he carefully passed by Sakuya’s chest armor so as not to get into contact with it, and breathed a sigh of relief.
If I ended up touching it even just a tiny bit, she’d hate me even more, and I’ve no idea what she’d even do to me.
Immediately in the next moment.
“Ah, I found something nice”
There was the sensation of something being snatched away from the side pocket of Reiji’s rucksack.
He hurriedly turned back towards Sakuya.
When he looked at her, he saw her gripping the bottle of sports drink that Reiji had inserted into his rucksack. Even the cap had already been taken off by her.
There’s no room to stop her.
Sakuya had taken a sip of Reiji’s sports drink, and was drinking it.
She’s messing with me again…!!
I didn’t even do anything…!
“Why? Of course it’s because I was thirsty, right?”
“But, that’s mine… Gi-give it back…”
“This is my house, remember? That means, isn’t everything in this house mine? Is that wrong?”
Sakuya brought the sports drink to her mouth again, and took another gulp.
However, Reiji couldn’t oppose her.
The vigor and unreasonableness of his friend’s older sister, who had her cheery aura running full throttle, made him incredibly nervous and rendered him incapable of uttering a word.
However, it seemed that he lacked expression, making it difficult for his grief to be transmitted to others.
“I’ll take this as a souvenir. You’re not complaining, aren’t you? It’s normal to bring some souvenirs when you’re coming to someone’s house, right?”
Too unreasonable. However, he also felt that she’s right.
Besides, if it’s souvenirs, he had the pudding bought at a convenience store on the way here.
But somehow he just couldn’t bring himself to say it.
Reiji reluctantly consented, and gave up his sports drink.
It’s because, surely, this friend’s older sister would be out soon.
I’ll have to endure it until then…!
Clatter clatter… clack.
Suddenly, there was a sound of someone trying to unlock the front door.
To Reiji, it sounded like an angel’s trumpet announcing happiness.
Ayato had returned.
It was really Ayato who showed up.
At first glance, he looked someone who was always playing around.
However, he was a nice guy at heart, and really popular among both the cheery and gloomy people at school. And he was one of the central figures in class.
“Ah, you’re already here, Reiji? That’s quick”
“Yeah, I just got let in earlier…”
“Hmm? Sis, you’re not doing anything strange to Reiji, aren’t you”
“What’d you mean by anything strange? I didn’t do anything, you know. Right? Reiji”
“My sports drink was stolen…”
“Sis… What’re you doing? If you want, I can buy you one, you know?”
“Guess so… You two, today you’ll be playing games or something until late again, right? So why don’t you go buy drinks, snacks or something for that time? While you’re at it, buy some for me, too”
“I-I’ll go too, Ayato!”
“Ah… It’s fine, you can just stay here!”
With his gaze, Reiji asked for help from Ayato, who was still at the entrance and hadn’t even taken off his shoes.
“Sorry, go play some games with my sister”
“‘Kay, let’s go to the living room, shall we? Today I’ll definitely win at SmoBro2”
In the corner of Reiji’s field of vision, as he was being dragged deeper into the house, he caught the back view of his best friend disappearing behind the front door to buy snacks…
A Friday, which was supposed to be fun.
A weekend, a moment of time which was supposed to be a fun stayover with his childhood friend.
However, Reiji was continuously being messed around with by Sakuya more than usual.
“I can’t, Sakuya-san! Playing with one hand is just impossible! I can only move, I can’t attack!”
“Hey come on, just stand still! Eh? Eh? Why’re you avoiding that!?”
With the enthusiasm of definitely winning against him today, a fighting game took place.
However, against Reiji who was imposed with an absurd handicap, Sakuya’s character now slipped, and disappeared off the screen.
‘1P WIN!! (KA-BOOM!)’
“So weak…,” Said Reiji unconsciously.
Then Sakuya glared at Reiji.
“…Ugh, just now it’s cheating, right…?”
“Eh? Didn’t you just self-destruct, Sakuya-san…”
“There’s no way I can lose to you who’s using one hand, while I use both hands! You’re cheating! Cheating!”
“How am I even losing!? Sheesh, as punishment for cheating, give me a shoulder massage, Reiji! My lower back as well!”
“Come on, quickly! I got tired after a match against you…!”
Sakuya tossed away the controller, and turned her back towards Reiji.
“A bit harder”
“Nnnnn…! That’s right, just like that… Nn, it feels good…”
Why am I doing this…
At the same time, Reiji managed to suppress the sigh that almost came out of his mouth.
If I don’t massage her properly here, she’ll definitely find fault with it, and then mess with me again!
“Then next is my back”
Sakuya went to lie face down right away.
Reiji gently grabbed Sakuya’s lower back with both hands, and gave it a strong push.
“Nn… You’re pretty good at this, aren’t you? Keep going like that, please”
Reiji helplessly continued to give her a massage.
Even if that was true, I’m trying to give a good massage since I’m intruding into their house anyway.
But, everytime I give it a push.
“Nng…,” weird voices come out, and I wish you can stop it…
And after a while of giving a massage, “I’m back…”
Ayato returned while carrying a convenience store bag, opening the door to the living room.
“Reiji, what’re you doing…?”
“Giving a massage… Ordered to…”
“Sis, just stop doing that sort of thing, okay”
“Yes yes, then in return, I’ll cook dinner for you and Reiji”
That’s a nice offer.
Contrary to her character, Reiji found the food that Sakuya made was delicious.
This was worth giving a massage.
Eating food made by Sakuya was, actually, one of his secret enjoyment when staying over at Ayato’s house. However…
“Cough! Cough cough!”
An hour after finishing playing the game.
Sakuya cooked spaghetti.
The so-called Napolitan
While she was in the middle of cooking, the smell of sausages being cooked and the smell of ketchup being fried made Reiji’s stomach growl.
And the moment he threw the finished piping hot Napolitan into his mouth, “Cough! Cough cough…!”
This is Tabasco…! Absurdly lots of it…!
“Ah, you mistook mine for your pasta. Geez, you’re always so clumsy, Reiji”
“I mean.. It’s placed.. in front of me…”
“Okay, this is you cheese powdered Napolitan, Reiji”
It’s definitely on purpose that Sakuya placed it there to mess with him, but if he were to argue here and she took his Napolitan away, he’d definitely regret it.
This time, too, Reiji decided to let the matter drop.
Reiji was in the bathtub, and finally able to catch a break.
As he submerged himself up to his shoulders in the bathtub, he realized how very tired he was once again.
“Today was particularly awful…”
Of course, this wasn’t the bath in his own home.
It’s the bathroom of Ayato’s house, his best friend since they were little.
It was just right after the renovation, so it’s brand new and felt great.
However, it’s something he had already gotten used to, so now he could relax in it like he would in his home’s bath.
“I wonder if I did something to Sakuya-san…”
If I could recall anything, I should be honest and apologize for it.
But, I couldn’t quite grasp the reason why Sakuya-san was messing with me like this.
When he submerged himself up to his chin in the warm water, “I’m coming in.”
The bathroom door was opened.
Standing there was Sakuya, undressed.
Reiji became even more confused when he saw his friend’s older sister coming into the bathroom.
“There’s no way I’d come naked, right? Eh? Or you wanted me to be naked instead?”
Reiji shook his head vigorously.
Sakuya-san was certainly wearing a swimsuit.
But that didn’t mean that was a good reason to come in.
She’s wearing the so-called bikin-type swimsuit with a pareo wrapped around her waist.
Of course, there was more skin exposed than usual.
He was also confused by the unusual situation of wearing a swimsuit in the bathroom.
“Since I’m wearing a swimsuit, it’s okay to come in, right?”
“Of course it’s not okay!”
“I mean, you’ve been inside since forever. And today I kinda wanted to try this swimsuit”
“I’m coming out now! Please give me a break, Sakuya-san…!”
“Youuu can’t. Hey, can you use the shower to run hot water over my swimsuit? I just wanted to check the feeling of it when it’s wet”
“Af-after this ends, please get out immediately, okay!?”
Reiji stretched his body from the bathtub, grabbed the shower nozzle, and let hot water gush out strongly.
The steamy shower hit Sakuya’s shoulders and skin, and it bounced into droplets.
“Hmmm, so it feels like this, huh…”
Sakuya spun around on the spot, and took a shower all over her body.
As a result of her shifting position, the shower nozzle, which Reiji was holding with both hands, now had its water hitting Sakuya’s cleavage.
“It’s… It’s about time… Isn’t it?”
To Reiji, it felt as if he was playing with Sakuya’s chest with sprinkles of hot water the shower was creating.
“Eh? I’m gonna go straight for the bath, though?”
“I’m… I’m going out first…!”
If he were careless, she could really invade the bathtub he was in.
The fact that she was wearing a swimsuit while he was completely naked was unfair.
…Well, that said, it’d be even more problematic if she was also naked, however…
In any case, he hurriedly fled from the bathroom and took refuge in Ayato’s room in just his trunks.
Maybe because he had been messed with that much, Sakuya seemed to have been satisfied.
Finally, a peaceful time passed.
With Ayato, he had a blast chatting about school and games, and since it had gotten late, they went to bed.
He had the futon laid out on the floor, and spent about fifteen minutes lying down.
The sound of a door of the dark room opening.
Reiji woke up slightly.
This feeling. The atmosphere. It’s definitely Sakuya-san.
Rustle… And for some reason she’s coming closer.
Slip. The quilt moved, and someone invaded Reiji’s futon.
I must not react…! I’ve got to pretend to be asleep here…!
Sakuya seemed to be creeping closer, snuggling up against Reiji’s back.
This would make for a funny story if it was actually Ayato’s drunken father, but Reiji was certain that the smell and breathing were definitely that of Sakuya.
If I just remain still like this, she’ll get bored and will definitely leav――
Sakuya suddenly started to poke him on the side.
“…How boring, why aren’t you reacting?”
“I did react, didn’t I!? The, ‘Nngg!?,’ earlier was me getting surprised, right…!?”
“Sis… What the heck were you thinking…”
Ayato crept out of the bed.
And then, fifteen minutes later, after he, together with Ayato, somehow managed to drive Sakuya out of the room.
Just what the heck have I done exactly…?
Reiji’s confusion only deepened.
Messing with me to this extent.
Absolutely, there must be some cause I’ve overlooked or don’t know about.
Or else it’ll be weird. And not making any sense.
…At the beginning of the week, Reiji casually asked Ayato about it in the school classroom.
“Hey, about Sakuya-san doing all that. What’s actually going on?”
And then Ayato jerked up, and looked into him as if surprised.
“Reiji, as expected, you still haven’t noticed it, huh?”
What came back was an incomprehensible question.
“Wha-what the heck? Come on, tell me if you know”
“Well, my sister told me to absolutely not talk about it, so…”
Ayato was told not to talk…?
“What the heck is going on…”
The mysteries were scary.
However, Reiji understood that Ayato knew something, and that he seemed to be thinking that Reiji didn’t need to know about it immediately.
If it was really a big issue, Ayato would’ve told me.
But if it wasn’t, it could also mean that it’s actually nothing serious.
So that means, when I go to Ayato’s house this weekend, that kind of messing around might suddenly stop.
Then I guess I don’t particularly have to worry about it now.
For the time being, Reiji decided to forget the matter about Sakuya.
…I wonder if I really made the right decision at that time.
In later years, there would be times when Reiji would think back upon this.
Looking at the result, If I hadn’t made the wrong decision in that way, our relationship would’ve stayed the same forever, Reiji thought so.
If he were to write his own memoir, he would probably express its content in a few words.
“This is the story of me and Sakuya-san until we become a lovey-dovey married couple”
I was naive.
On the weekend, one week after the “barging into the bathroom with swimsuit incident” and “midnight futon invasion incident” caused by Sakuya.
I would’ve never thought that Sakuya-san would set up this kind of elaborate trap for me…
I resent myself for not having expected it at all.
Right now, Reiji has fallen into a crisis.
This week, Sakuya-san proposed another SmoBro match with me.
Why did I make a promise where the loser would’ve to do any three wishes the winner said?
Of course it’s because of my decisive win last week…!
If he won, Reiji could give her order.
Please don’t mess with me anymore, and be a good girl.
And then please buy me some snacks from the convenience store… That kind of order!
But right now, I’m about to give in against Sakuya-san shortly.
“Why don’t you just give up?”
If Reiji lost, he didn’t even know what Sakuya would demand of him.
“No… No way, impossible…! Am I going to lose!?”
Thinking about it, the trap his friend’s older sister had set up was a trap that had already ensnared Reiji from the very beginning, like an invincible spider’s thread.
On the weekend.
According to what he had heard from his best friend, Ayato, his older sister, Sakuya, was supposed to be out that day.
It seemed that he would be coming home a little late, so Reiji was left with the key to the house today.
Reiji had already been trusted by Ayato’s family enough that he was told to just use it, come in and make himself at home.
After all, both of their fathers were also similar best friends.
Their families were very close, and probably were closer than the average relatives.
He arrived in front of Ayato’s house, and tried to ring the intercom just in case.
There’s no answer.
It seems there’s no one at home, just like the info I heard beforehand.
However, just then, a message came in on Reiji’s phone as he stood in front of the front door.
Sakuya> Are you at our home?
Sakuya> The laundry in the bathroom gets in the way, right? Can you at least put away the towels for me?
Maybe Sakuya-san won’t be home until late tonight.
Reiji> I understand
After replying with a short message, Reiji opened the door with the borrowed key and entered the house.
First, putting down the stuff.
He also put some bottles of black tea in the fridge for Sakuya, which he had bought at the convenience store, just in case he ran into her and she snatched his drink again.
He then headed towards the bathroom.
He was intruding in their house.
He wanted to at least finish the simple task he had been asked to before forgetting it.
When he turned on the light in the bathroom, he saw towels being dried on a laundry hanger hanging on a laundry pole.
Following as Sakuya had told him, he reached for the hanger with countless clothespins on it.
At that moment.
Beep beep, snap!
A flash hit Reiji.
From the closed bathtub cover, an arm stretched out and a phone was held in that hand.
Huh….!?, confused, in an instant, Reiji had plenty of question marks popping up such as ”Someone took a pic of me!?!,” “Who!?,” and “Why!?”
Then the answers to his questions were revealed in turn.
Sakuya emerged from the bathtub in stylish loungewear.
“I’ve got a perfect shot of you♪”
Apparently, Reiji had really been photographed.
“You perv~, Reiji-kun. Did you want my underwear that badly?”
“…Huh? But, these are towels, though…”
Reaiji reached out for the laundry hanger again.
These are definitely face towels hanging on the clothespin…
The only towel was the one at the very front.
On the other side of the towel, in a completely blind spot from Reiji, were hanging a variety of different colored women’s underwear.
“Fufufu… See? A perfect shot of you reaching for my underwear”
Sakuya showed him the screen of her phone.
On the screen was indeed a picture of stupid-looking Reiji reaching for Sakuya’s underwear to steal it.
Even to the victim, Reiji, it appeared that way.
A total stranger would probably think “this man is a big pervert who can’t keep his senses in front of women’s underwear” if they saw this.
“Wh-why’re you doing this…!?”
“If you don’t want this revealed to everyone, then have a match with me?”
This was the condition that Sakuya had offered him.
The first player to get three wins in the SmoBro match won, like how they had played it a week ago.
Also, “The loser must grant up to three wishes of whatever the winner asks”
He had no choice but to accept it.
After all, “If you accept this match, then I’ll erase this”
Even without winning, and just by accepting the match, he didn’t have to end up as an underwear thief.
Besides, Reiji had confidence that he could beat her in a SmoBro match.
Even when playing with his friends, Reiji was strong.
He even won a league match between his friends when the characters and other factors were well-matched in his favor.
To begin with, I shouldn’t lose against Sakuya-san who’s not good at action games.
Even I could win with just one hand last week.
It’s also tempting that the winner can ask for three wishes from the loser.
Then this weekend, I can also ask her to stop messing with me.
Despite Reiji giving off the vibe of having reluctantly accepted it, Reiji was actually chuckling internally as they started the match.
And then right now, it was freezing in real time
‘2P! WIN! (KA-BOOM!)’
In the blink of an eye, he lost three times in a row.
“So weak!! Damn weak! What a loser! Small fry!!”
With a full-faced smile, Sakuya, clapping her hands, was starting to agitate Reiji.
“No-no way…! Sakuya-san, you were doing super special training, weren’t you!?”
“Huuh? This is my true real ability, though? It’s just that you’re a small fry, right!?”
“No, but I mean, the combo, tactics and stuff, it’s just like Ayato’s fighting style!”
“Well, we’re siblings, don’t you think it’d look similar?”
“There’s no way DNA can inherit SmoBro’s tactics, right!?”
“Then first, I guess I’m gonna have you to listen to my first wish, damn-weak Reiji-kun~”
No matter what I say, I already have Sakuya-san delete the image data from earlier.
I’m kinda not happy about this, but I couldn’t break my promise here.
That’s, above all, against my virtue.
Just what kind of wishes this friend’s too-unreasonable older sister is gonna ask from me…!?
The next day.
It was very sudden, but Reiji had come to the aquarium with Sakuya.
This was one of the wishes of the winner, Sakuya.
Of course, Reiji had asked his friend, Ayato, for help.
Reiji told him that it was too sudden, and also unreasonable.
However, like older sister, like younger brother.
After hearing about the laundry trap and the game’s outcome, for some reason, Ayato showed cooperative moves for his older sister, Sakuya.
Let alone opposing Sakuya’s tyranny and demand, he seemed like he found it amusing.
In the first place, there’s suspicion of Ayato giving special training to Sakuya.
“I thought we were best friends…”
That’s why a cheery person’s fun-lovingness is so…!
However, if Ayato, his playmate on the weekend didn’t mind Reiji spending time outside with Sakuya, then it’s like one of his reluctance had gone.
A match is a match. A promise is a promise.
Once I’ve accepted it all, going to an aquarium on a day off is also not bad.
Though, “Huh…? Hey Reiji, is it really this station? It’s just so quick, though”
“I’ve told you, right? This aquarium is so close”
“Don’t you have the impression that aquariums are someplace really, really far away?”
“I think it depends on the person, though…?”
“Actually, Reiji, why did we arrive at our destination so easily?”
“Eh, I wonder why…”
As for Reiji, on the contrary, he wanted to know why they couldn’t just arrive at their destination so easily.
Reiji, who had arrived at the station closest to the aquarium easily, exited the ticket gate and looked for a guide signboard.
The smell of sea water tickled his nostrils.
Both the station and the aquarium were close to the beach.
Looking around the vicinity, his eyes immediately caught a conspicuous sign saying, “Three minutes walk to the aquarium.”
“Ah, then Sakuya-san, this is good enough, isn’t it?”
“Huh? What’re you saying? Of course it’s not, right? We haven’t arrived at the aquarium yet!”
“But, you told me to show you the way, you know? You told me you couldn’t get here on your own”
“It’s my wish, so just come all the way inside the aquarium! I’ll even pay for your ticket, Reiji!”
“Also, what if I get lost inside the aquarium?”
“You could just call someone one then”
“Call who!? If you’re not here, I’m on my own, so who!?”
Come to think of it, I feel like there’s no one she can call.
“If I get lost, it’s either you call me or I call you, right? And I can’t do that if I’m alone!”
“Sakuya-san, you’re already an adult, right?”
“I’m only nineteen! I’m still a minor!”
“Now I wonder if you’ll be a proper adult in another year…”
“Can’t you just come with me without complaining? Also…”
Sakuya took a quick look around the station. After making sure there was no one around, “I’m scared of fish!,” she exclaimed in a whisper.
“Eeeeeh…? The-then, why did we come to an aquarium…?”
“The limited edition plushy of Kuutan the jellyfish is for sale today, okay!”
“The limited edition plushy of Kuutan the jellyfish is for sale today!”
He unconsciously parroted back.
“And that’s why we’ve come here two hours before it opens!”
Although he didn’t voice it out, Reiji just breathed in, and raised a “WOW!” in a cheery person-like voice (He didn’t)
“It made me want to go home even more… By the way, why am I here again?”
“You’re here because you lost a match against me, right!?”
I certainly had her erase that misrepresented image.
But then, breaking the promise on my end is certainly against my virtue.
“I-I understand. I guess it can’t be helped…”
“It’s good that you understand. Now Reiji, tell me something interesting until we get to the aquarium”
If he could suddenly make such a snappy talk, he wouldn’t be an unattractive gloomy person.
However, if he had to say it, it would be harder to just walk with Sakuya in silence.
As a last resort, Reiji talked about what had happened at school recently, one by one.
Sakuya was a graduate of the high school that Reiji and Ayato were attending.
He managed to somehow find a topic they shared in common, and (from Reiji’s point of view) was able to enliven the talk with stories about teachers who were still at the school since Sakuya’s time.
At Ayato’s house, I didn’t have many conversations like this with Sakuya-san, so it feels fresh.
When I was in an early grade in elementary school… No, when I was more of a child, I feel like I used to have these kinds of trivial conversations with Sakuya-san. So it feels like it has been ages.
Before he knew it, they had arrived in front of the entrance to the aquarium.
Maybe because the beach was close by, he felt a crunchy feeling because of the sand between the ground and the soles of his shoes.
The feeling of it only somewhat heightened his mood.
“Yay, first in line! With this I can definitely get Kuutan plushy!”
“Well, I guess so”
I’m glad we seemed to have finished our objective.
“Coming here early paid off, but it’s still over an hour and a half until it opens…”
The ticket counter was not even open yet.
Suddenly, “Hey, are you thirsty?,” Sakuya, who had been checking the time on her phone, asked.
Here it comes…!, Reiji immediately prepared himself, remembering if there were any convenience stores or vending machines from the station to here.
“Reiji, you wait here. I’ll go buy one for you, too”
The feeling like being let down floated.
I’m not the one who’s gonna go buy it…?
His friend’s older sister promptly turned around, and started walking away.
“Sakuya-san…?,” he ended up muttering.
However, it probably wouldn’t reach her anymore as she was already a little distance away.
Huh? She’s being kind…?
“Hmm? Come to think of it…”
Have I been messed around with by Sakuya-san so far today?
Within Reiji, the urge that made him feel like unconsciously laughing was born.
“Eh…? Sakuya-san is.. Pretty haughty at home but reserved outside…?”
When outside she’s putting on a front…?
Speaking of being haughty at home but reserved outside, it’s a main element of gloomy people.
And that kind of nature.. Is in that Sakuya-san…?
I just made a disgusting laugh, even if I say so myself.
“Unexpectedly, she’s kind when outside…? No, just the outside is nice, huh”
Reiji felt a sense of superiority for some reason.
Sakuya-san, you’re only nice on the outside after all~…, he muttered internally.
Speaking of the outside, how should I put it…
Reiji thought back.
“Sakuya-san is.. How should I put it… A beautiful woman?…”
I left Ayato’s house with Sakuya-san, and went from the nearest station to here.
We didn’t travel far in terms of distance, and it was early in the morning, so there wasn’t even pedestrian traffic, but still, I feel like the people around were looking at us.
No, the nuance is off. There weren’t many people, but so many looks were at us it bothered me.
At first, Reiji thought if the people around were looking at him.
Maybe they’re laughing at me for going out with bed hair and a shirt?
Or rather, were they laughing at my very existence in the first place?, and in a characteristic subservient move of a gloomy person, he checked himself again and again, but he felt there was nothing odd about him, appearance-wise.
He then suddenly realized.
They weren’t looking at me.
It’s directed at Sakuya-san.
The looks weren’t just from men.
Sakuya-san was also getting a lot of looks from women.
The looks from men are easy to understand.
It’s just a maybe, but many men seemed to find Sakuya-san to be a beautiful woman.
Reiji didn’t quite understand what the meaning behind the looks from the women was as it was too complicated, but he only knew that it was probably envy or jealousy or similar feelings.
“I wonder if that’s it…”
Once again, Reiji recalled how Sakuya looked today.
Speaking of which, what is different about Sakuya-san compared to the so-called beautiful women on the internet and TV? Reiji couldn’t give a quick answer.
He couldn’t say anything about her outfit or anything difficult, but all he knew was that she’s dressed fashionably today.
Her clothes, bag, and accessories were mostly unified in dark purple, and each one was very refined.
Both the thin, slightly snug-fitting sweater, and jeans with fluttering hem. It gave off an aura that if it’s not Sakuya, it couldn’t be worn stylishly.
Of course, Reiji had never thought of Sakuya as unattractive before.
But he had never thought beyond that.
It was kind of strange.
“I’m back, Reiji. I got something for you”
Reiji took the can that was offered to him.
Can…? Not a bottle, but a can…?
Moreover it’s a minor company that I’ve never seen before.
I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.
“Sorry, there’s only that”
Reiji rotated the canned rink around to make sure of the product name.
“Super sweet pudding juice…?”
His throat, which had started to demand liquid since the time Sakuya asked him if was thirsty, started aching.
“Then why are you drinking normal bottled tea, Sakuya-san? There’s no way there’s only this one…!”
I take back what I said.
Sakuya-san is super haughty even when outside.
However, it seemed that even such a haughty university student would become timid in front of the fish she was scared of.
There was no straight way from the entrance to the shop that sold Kuutan the jellyfish.
Therefore, they had no choice but to go through the dimly lit passage surrounded by aquariums, and Reiji had to lead the way through the aquarium at a fast pace with Sakuya clinging on to him with her eyes closed shut.
They also passed by a huge aquarium that he would’ve liked to look at more closely if it weren’t for this situation.
While carrying a sense of disappointment that he knew was coming, they arrived at the souvenir shop.
They were the first ones to arrive, of course.
“There it is! Kuutan’s new plushie! It’s soooo cute~!”
Upon realizing that the signs of living fish had gone, and that they had arrived at the souvenir shop, Sakuya suddenly started to run and then held up the jellyfish plushie with both hands.
Sakuya excitedly finished paying at the cashier, and then came back.
Sakuya, who showed an uncharastically smiling face, pushed out the plushie she had taken out of the bag towards him.
“I got it!”
“Well, not a single person has lined up from behind after all… Actually, was it necessary to wait in line…?”
It’s a mystery.
We were at the shop like this just after the opening, but no one has come to go buy Kuutan the jellyfish yet except us…
“So, let’s go home, then”
“Eh, I mean, we reached our goal here, right…? It’s getting Kuutan, isn’t it?”
“We’ve already come all the way here, so of course we’re gonna see the real jellyfish, right!?”
“Is that so…?”
“And then I also wanna see the dolphin show”
“Eh? Fish is no go, but dolphins are all right?”
“I mean, dolphins aren’t fish but mammals, right?”
“No way, you didn’t know? It’s common knowledge, you know…?”
“No, I know that dolphins are mammals, but…”
“Even that walking fish encyclopedia, Fishy-kun, has no information about dolphins and whales because they’re mammals, you know? You too must learn from Fishy-kun”
“Dolphins were amazing, right~… As expected of mammals”
I wonder if this is the result of learning from Fishy-kun that I’m saying this.
On the way back to the station from the aquarium.
“Hey, was today fun…?”
“Well, speaking of fun, then yes, it’s fun…”
The sky, charred by the evening glow, was shifting from red to deep purple.
In the end, he ended up thoroughly enjoying the aquarium and the beach ambiance.
The smell of the slightly cooled seawater helped Reiji replay his memories inside the aquarium.
As for Reiji, he wanted to see all kinds of fish since it was such a great opportunity.
Therefore Reiji had tried his best to get Sakuya used to the fish little by little. However, every time she made eye contact (?) with a fish, she would grasp his arm tightly, reacting ] as if she was in a haunted house. Thus he gave up.
Reiji and his best friend, Ayato, were childhood friends, and Sakuya was Ayato’s older sister.
So in fact, he and Sakuya were also childhood friends, but Reiji had never known that Sakuya was afraid of fish until now.
I’m not sure if this can be called a fresh surprise. It’s a mysterious feeling.
“Wanna eat something on our way back?”
For lunch, he had a specialty called Whitebait Bowl.
He actually hadn’t been expecting much from the taste, but it was mysterious that he could enjoy eating it.
I wonder if it’s because of the location (?)
“I don’t mind if we have dinner after returning to our neighborhood, though…”
After all, food in tourist spots was expensive.
As for Reiji, who was also treated to lunch, he would feel bad if he were to be treated to dinner as well at this point.
But paying it for myself hurts too.
Since it’s cheaper to eat burgers in our neighborhood, I hope I can lead her there as much as possible, he thought.
“Wait, on the contrary, should I be the one treating her here…?”
After muttering to himself, he retorted “WHY!?” grandly inside his mind.
Aah, I see…
Why did I get myself into such absurd thinking?
It’s because there were so many couples around, huh…
I wonder why all the young men and women walking as couples looked so cool or beautiful.
That boyfriend, I bet he treats his girlfriend to dinner…
This must be because he was carrying such an unneeded feeling from the time he had been loitering around the aquarium.
“Sakuya-san, don’t you have a boyfriend or something?”
Sakuya stopped walking.
“Wh-wh-wh… Why’re you asking me that?”
“Ah… Sorry, if you have one, you wouldn’t have me as a navigator, wouldn’t you. Hhahaha,” Reiji laughed.
I just asked some foolish thing.
“What is it?”
Reiji turned to look back.
He then noticed that Sakuya had come to a stop.
It seemed that he had gone about three steps ahead of her.
“I wonder if the rumor about how a skilled hacker can restore an image once it’s been completely erased is true”
“…I-I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
“I want seafood. It’s on you right, Reiji…?”
“Are you extorting a high school student!?”
Pulled by the hem of his clothes, Reiji was dragged to a restaurant that looked somewhat like an old establishment, and not to the trendy restaurant where had eaten lunch.
…The seafood was very delicious, and just in case, Reiji had paid for it, including Sakuya’s portion.
Actually, Sakuya-san, so you’re fine with eating fish, huh…
The destination of Reiji’s return from the aquarium was Ayato’s house.
Of course he returned together with Sakuya.
Though, “My skin is kinda sticky from the seabreeze,” she said and then went straight for the bath.
Today was Saturday. It was still Saturday.
Tonight as well, Reiji was staying at Ayato’s house.
“Welcome back, Reiji. How’s the aquarium?”
“Yeah, about that…”
Reiji was thoroughly explaining to Ayato just how absurd Sakuya had been.
He felt like he wouldn’t be rewarded if he didn’t get a little sympathy for what had happened at the aquarium.
Ayato would burst into laughter at every chance he got.
“So my sister’s still bad with fish, huh. And I was wondering what she would do”
“At the deep-sea fish area, Sakuya-san was screaming like crazy. When the goosefish suddenly moved, she jumped, you know…? Can you believe it? She also jumped when the angler on its head twitched”
“That’s just overkill, isn’t it?”
“Haah… Anyway, I really wanna relax tomorrow…”
As Reiji slumped down his body into the living room sofa, “What’s with that happily-ever-after look on your face…?”
Through the gap on the door, Sakuya, who had just got out of the bath, was peeking.
“I still have two more wishes to make, you know…?”
The night that day.
“Damn it, I can’t sleep…!”
Reiji’s eyes were wideopen.
“I just can’t stop thinking about it…”
His head was filled up with thoughts about Sakuya.
There are still two wishes left for Sakuya-san.
I wonder if the progenitor of the three wishes, the lamp genie, was also spending his days feeling anxious like this.
“What else am I gonna be asked to do…”
At first, I was thinking that it’d be something easy, like the usual “Can you go buy me some chips?”
But even the first wish was to accompany her to an aquarium, something quite heavy in calories.
Reiji, who had been lying down on the futon on the floor, got up.
He then slowly moved towards the corridor so as not to wake up Ayato, who was sleeping in the bed right next to him.
He headed for the kitchen, looking for something to drink for a change of mood.
Despite it being in the dead of night, the light in the kitchen was on.
Someone was sitting on a chair at the dining table.
“Re-Reiji? What are you doing…?”
Sakuya, in her pajamas, hurriedly closed her notebook and looked up at him.
“Are you studying until late at night, Sakuya-san?”
“We-well yeah! And you, Reiji…?”
“I couldn’t sleep…”
Sakuya was uncharacteristically fidgety, perhap flustered that she was found out studying in secret.
However, Reiji knew that Sakuya was quite a hard worker, always studying and such.
Even her notebooks and stuff were very neatly organized.
And so without particularly minding it, “Umm… What are you going to make me do with the rest of the wish?”
“It was bothering me, and I couldn’t sleep…”
“Ah… I see~”
Sakuya exhaled, looking somewhere between dejected and relieved.
Closing the notebook in which she had been writing something until a moment ago, she placed a writing case on top of it as if to seal it.
“I’ve given it all sorts of thought, you see…”
Reiji’s body unconsciously reacted with a jerk.
I-I knew it…!
Reiji took a half step back.
“Hey, come sit down here”
“I-is that the second wish?”
“…Huh? It’s just a normal order, though?”
Reiji obediently followed the order.
“About my wish for you is, for example, let’s see…”
Reiji just sat down right across from Sakuya.
In pajamas, she leaned forward with her elbows on the table as if to relax.
“Like having you wear my clothes, and become a crossdressing YouTuber”
“Or having you become a human alarm that comes to this house every morning and gently wakes me up. I thought of that, too…”
What crazy things she’s thinking…!
Reiji started trembling. It’s natural that he couldn’t sleep.
My instinct must’ve been running wild out of sensing this…!
“But, I’ve a wish I decided to make just a moment ago, you see”
“Wha-what is it!?”
“Wanna hear it?”
“Please, or else I won’t be able to sleep…”
Trying to keep his thumping heart in check, Reiji focused his ears on Sakuya.
“Do you know Fighting Gym Go Dash?”
“Huh…? Urr, what is that…?”
“It’s in front of the station, but you don’t know it? It’s a gym okay, a gym. Combat sport one”
Combat sport.. Gym…??
“I’m thinking of going there”
“Eh… What? Do you want to be strong…?”
Even more than this? Reiji swallowed down the words.
It didn’t mean that Sakuya was especially strong physically.
Probably even if they were to arm wrestle, Reiji should be able to easily… win
“Why do I even have to be strong? I’m dieting okay, diet”
“Do you need to go on a diet?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
Sakuya’s face turned slightly red.
“It’s originally a combat sport gym, but it has a diet course for women. I wanna go and have a look, but I’m kinda anxious. So Reiji, will you accompany me?”
“I.. Don’t really mind…”
He got a flash of anxiety.
If pushed to say, I’m more of a creative person.
On the other hand, a combat sport gym must be a hangout for the sports minded.
That means it’s a field of cheeriness.
But I am to accompany Sakuya-san.
It’s not something I’d go to myself.
Also it should be better than being a crossdresser YouTuber or a human alarm…!
“That’s a relief. Then the second of my three wishes is to accompany me to a gym, okay?”
“I understand. So that means we’re going there tomorrow, right?”
“I’m counting on you, Reiji”
“Okay, then I’m going to sleep now”
“Good night. I hope you sleep well”
“Probably I will. Then, good night”
Reiji got up, and then returned to Ayato’s room.
“…But, maybe you’ll be too awake, and might not be able to sleep”
“It’s all right. I’m already feeling pretty sleepy again, so I think I’ll be able to sleep in a moment once I lie down”
“That so? Then if you can’t sleep, should we sleep together?”
“You’ll definitely do some tricks on me, so no. And why do you keep following me…!? Your room is over there, right, Sakuya-san!?”
“Come to think of it, it’s been so long since you and I were hanging around in front of a station, right, Reiji?”
“Wasn’t the last time when we’re still early in elementary school…? Wait, maybe even longer?”
He still frequently hung around in front of the station with his best friend, Ayato.
However, Reiji was surprised that the view would be different if the person next to him was different.
He didn’t even realize there was a combat sport gym in front of this station.
Speaking of which, there are many trendy clothing, shoe, and miscellaneous goods stores in the station building that would appeal to women, and there are also trendy cafes in front of the station.
“Ah, there’s a new product. Looks tasty”
“It sure looks delicious, isn’t it”
It seemed to be a seasonal drink, but for the price of one L-size drink, he could have a bowl of house style ramen.
Reiji couldn’t readily buy it, but he was sure that it must be delicious.
Unlike the usual, my curiosity was heavily piqued (but he didn’t buy it).
…Things that I didn’t even care about even if they were in my sight because I didn’t have any business with them when I was with Ayato were brought to my attention. It looks like a different city.
It was just a local station, but it feels mysterious.
The gym they were looking for was just past the miscellaneous shopping street.
It was on the fourth floor of a multi-tenant building about three blocks from the station’s roundabout.
For some reason, there wasn’t an elevator in the building, so they took the stairs to get to the front of the gym.
The door was made of glass.
Even now, he saw several people inside doing what looked like mitt-hitting (?).
The one kicking the small square mat-like thing must be the customer, and the one holding the mat must be the trainer.
“The building looks run down, but the inside of the gym is bright and clean, isn’t it”
“That’s great, isn’t it”
The walls were all painted white.
At the far back, there was a mirror wall, making it possible to check form.
Reiji unconsciously looked away from his small reflection.
“Excuse me, I’m Nanjou. I’ve booked for a visit”
Sakuya called out to the man at the reception desk with a clear, innocent voice.
“Yes, I will confirm it. Please wait a moment”
I guess the man is a fighter, too.
He guided Sakuya to nearby chairs with a smile that surely he would never make if Reiji were the one to talk to him.
This interior was surely designed with women in mind.
Reiji’s imagination of a sweaty, dusty gym was overturned.
Looks like Sakuya-san’s also pleased.
I’m sure there are many women who would like to join here for dieting purposes.
However, Reiji was bothered by the looks Sakuya had been giving him ever since they opened the door and went inside.
Conversely, if it’s quite hard to get people to join without being so mindful of women, then maybe customers like Sakuya-san are rare after all.
Especially women who look like to be chosen as Miss Campus…
“So first, let me introduce you to the system of our gym”
I wonder if I’m mistaken.
I feel like the eyes of the trainer explaining with a pamphlet in his hand are sparkling.
Am I.. necessary here?
“(But well, it’s a hindsight, huh…)”
The monthly membership, which was a bargain for unlimited daily access, was not cheap at all for a high school student like Reiji.
But I wonder if it’s appropriate for university students.
Sakuya-san’s enthusiastically listening to it.
“We also have a family discount”
Huh? Do I look like Sakuya-san’s little brother…?
“Ah, then wanna join together, Reiji?”
“Is there a little brother’s friend discount?”
Reiji’s finest joke was ignored.
That’s why sports minded people are so…!
Reiji observed the trainer in leisure while placing the blame for his unsuccessful joke on his sports-mindedness.
It’s my first time seeing a fighter’s body this close.
It seems that the main selling point of this gym is that all trainers are either active or ex-fighters.
To be honest, I’m scared.
If I wasn’t with Sakuya-san, I sure would have gotten groggy and felt like running away.
I’m relieved that none of the trainers are looking at me at all.
Though, I think it’s not a big deal, but Sakuya-san is the older sister of my best friend.
Reiji straightened his back, which was about to yield.
“Okay, then I will show you around the facility”
As the trainer and Sakuya stood up from their chairs, Reiji stood up as well.
Thud… Such a hitting sound roared, and a heavy reverberation resonated low in the gym.
The trainer took a deep breath.
The youth accompanying a beautiful female university student was lowering his right right foot after kicking the kicking mitt held up by the trainer, while bringing his centre of gravity back up over the stance he was taught.
“…Umm, is there something wrong?”
“Ah, it’s nothing. Try to keep it up!”
The trainer, who had felt the shock reaching his arm… no, even up to his stomach, readjusted the kicking mitt.
The youth’s kick, delivered in a seemingly clumsy and just-learned form, was, however, a heavy bomb.
This boy――his name is Reiji, isn’t it?
Thuuuud…! A heavy wave sent the air of the gym vibrating.
The name of the trainer catching Reiji’s sharp kick was Udou Kouji.
He was a 31-year-old who had experienced winning a Real King kickboxing tournament in the light middleweight division.
He was struck by the physical as well as the mental impact of it.
Ten minutes ago, he was in charge of Nanjou Sakuya, an incredibly beautiful university student, and was very enthusiastic about having her join at all costs.
Such a lighthearted feeling had been replaced in a very short time.
He involuntarily let out a small groan.
The sound of the impact had changed from thud, to a baaang.
I wonder if the boy who looks like a younger brother accompanying his older sister started to get used to it.
One kick after another, each one getting heavier.
He’s not a mere ameteur.
The quality of the blows is clearly not ordinary.
It is beyond the scope of a normal combat sport.
There is even a hint of technique that has a different system than the techniques you learn in a typical gym.
But why does such a boy…?
Even if you’re quite an expert, most of the force of the blow usually bounces off the surface of the kick mitt.
But, the impact of the boy’s strike pierced through as if there was no mitt on.
Don’t tell me, am I wrapped up in a prank video with a unique professional in disguise…?
The boy’s kick is heavy enough to make me think that, and he has talent hidden behind his clumsy footwork…
I’m glad we came here.
Reiji, you’re really so cool.
“Haa… Haa… Haa… You’ve done.. Quite well”
A minute passed in a flash, the timer went off, and it turned into a break.
Reiji wiped the sweat from his forehead.
Sakuya swallowed her words for Reiji.
If I let my guard down now, I might end up saying “Will you marry me?” to Reiji.
So Sakuya chose her words carefully.
“Reiji, will you marr… I mean, you were.. Pretty amazing, weren’t you…”
“I’m pretty much still a man, so I have more physical strength than you, Sakuya-san…”
“But your kick, Reiji, didn’t it kinda sound different from mine?”
“It’s just that the trainer who received it is skilled”
“N-no, I agree with what the miss said, you’re pretty amazing! Have you done anything like this before?”
Hey, why are you getting all excited over my Reiji, you perverted trainer!
I’m really gonna kick you flying!!
Sakuya still had a smiling face, but an angry mark appeared on her temple.
“Eh…? No, nothing in particular…”
No, you’re wrong. Sakuya was vaguely aware of this.
“…Ah, in the past, a bit with my father…”
At Reiji’s words, which was like a trigger for her memory, Sakuya once again remembered.
Reiji’s father and her own father were best friends, just like the relationship between Reiji and Ayato, her younger brother.
That’s why in the past, they would often drop by the house on weekend nights. That’s originally the reason why Reiji got along well with the older sister and younger brother siblings.
At some point, he heard Reiji’s drunken father relating a story to her own father.
It seemed that Reiji’s father had once been shot with a gun when working overseas.
Apparently it paralyzed a part of him that felt fear or something, and there was a time when he was obsessed with finding a way that could make him win against guns, which he eventually mastered.
And now he was teaching that skill to his son…
If that was true, Reiji was probably learning that skill from his father.
Remembering Reiji’s usual appearance, physical strength, and remembering his sharp movement, Sakuya had a hunch.
At first glance, her little brother’s friend looked to be a slender, creative type.
But his physique was surprisingly sturdy, and he had a very good sense of balance and flexibility.
Despite his appearance, Reiji was also considerably athletic.
So thinking that he must be also good at this kind of masculine activity, Sakuya asked Reiji to come with her to a gym.
If it’s here, then Reiji might do some cool activity, and then I can praise him to my heart’s content…!
Actually, it feels good seeing Reiji surrounded by several trainers who have gathered and are praising him.
“Wait, not that, hold on a second…!?”
It’s my job to praise Reiji and get him to feel good, though…!?
However, Sakuya was unable to break through the group of slender, macho fighter men surrounding Reiji.
I get so easily repealed!
It wasn’t supposed to be like this…!
To begin with, it was kinda strange even at the aquarium yesterday.
By her calculation, it’s not surprising if she had already received a confession of love from Reiji.
And the aquarium was supposed to be the best stage for that…!
Not only that, but for the past few months, she had been expressing all of her feelings for Reiji through her actions.
Reiji, who was also the best friend of her younger brother, Ayato, came to stay at their house every weekend.
And she made the most out of that opportunity.
This feeling should’ve definitely been conveyed to him…!
But, as expected, are all boys these days late-bloomers…?
They’re also called herbivores. And recently they’re also called desireless youth.
According to Sakuya’s plan, she should’ve already been confessed to, and in a lovey-dovey state about this time.
“I knew it, should I be the one to…?”
Nooo..! As the older one, I can’t confess to Reiji who’s younger than me.
It’s too embarrassing…!
Just imagining it makes my heart race, and makes me not able to look at Reiji’s face anymore.
I’ve always been leading Reiji, but to suddenly be led is…
Thankfully, I’ve one more wish for Reiji.
I’m really glad I made it as three wishes as insurance.
Then, I’ll carefully think about the content of the wish, and definitely make him confess to me…
Sakuya’s fighting spirit was renewed.
“Please! Please try joining our gym! If it’s you, you can make it to the top!”
Reiji was still surrounded by the trainers, and was saying, “Aah…,” and, “But…”
…Wait a sec, gym trainers.
Reiji is cool, sure, but…
But aren’t you too interested in Reiji…!?
――The time was several days later, and moving to a certain point of view.
A mob character who was not important to this story.
Here, all of sudden, from the mind of Okada Yukio, a character making his debut, “I’m not gonna let anyone talk to me like that again!! …ah, no, Li-like I don’t wanna hear it… Hii! I-I’m sorry, i’m lying, please forgive meeeeee…!,” such words wouldn’t leave. Why..?
It’s because he was treated lightly, and not even considered as one of them by the hoodlums and gangsters that had spread through the city.
I want to live a cool life.
Okada Yukio was confident in himself.
Whatever I’ve done, I believe I handled it well.
Even in class I’m well regarded. I think.
That’s why I don’t want to do anything tiresome like making an effort.
More easier. I should be able to live more comfortably.
Because it’s me we’re talking about.
Thus, with absolute confidence, Okada Yukio believed that he had done everything quickly and skillfully.
However, in the end, he hadn’t been able to build up anything the past seventeen years.
Yukio hadn’t realized it.
However, that feeling of meaninglessness was certainly dwelling in him as an indescribable fog.
I want to do something about this situation.
I want to do something about it.
…As soon as he had this in mind, something came into his hands.
It was in a video site in his phone that he was looking at randomly.
It was unknown why that video was recommended to Yukio.
But he casually tapped it, played it, and became glued to it.
A muscle version of the Cinderella story of a man who was just a hoodlum yesterday rose to the top with only his physical strength.
Strength is power.
Body strength and muscle power is the mark of man.
Yukio was inspired by those videos.
“Then, maybe I…!?”
Yukio immediately looked for a training gym in the neighborhood.
Fortunately, there were several combat sport gyms near the nearest station.
When he looked at the sites, they all looked pretty genuine.
Direct attack type, karate and kickboxing.
He also discovered some mixed martial arts and some boxing places.
However, Yukio was not satisfied.
In that kind of place, there should to be some pretty strong guys around.
I refuse to be instructed by those kinds of people in a pompous manner.
There should be a more suitable gym for me…
What he found as he extended his search was “Fighting Gym Go Dash.”
It also taught combat sport, but main focus was on fitness, and it seemed there were plenty of young women there.
“This is it…!”
If it’s here, I might be able to get to the top right from the start.
I’ll rise from here…!
The vibe inside is also not as rugged as other gyms.
Inside Yukio’s brain, the spectacle of himself being surrounded by the women who had already joined the gym, and having their admiring gazes on him as he was doing his parring, floated.
But I’ll have to wait and see a bit more before I make a visit and apply.
There’s timing to everything.
Yukio waited, and waited before making an inquiry for a free trial lesson.
And at last, while going to buy new manga publication in front of the station, he decided to stop by the gym he had been aiming for.
I’m sure I can get by even without reservations.
After all, I am the champion of the future.
I’m sure that my talent would be noticed during my first-hand lesson, and a flood of trainers will come to scout for me.
Yukio looked up at the multi-tenant building that had the gym in it.
He stared at the sign.
Looks like it’s open.
Which means there must be some trainers there.
As of now, the trainers are definitely still stronger than me…
Should I try on another day…?
Yukio loitered around the vicinity of the building.
…Actually, is there really a need for me to go to a gym?
I feel like it’s quite a feat considering that I can make up my mind to go to a gym, even if I say so myself.
That means, I’m already pretty strong then…?
And the truth is, I’m already awakened to my considerable ability then…??
Yukio began to be wrapped up in an almighty feeling as his blood circulation improved while roaming around the alley.
Perchance, I’m already something of a champion myself?
This power, I want to test it…
Before he knew it, Yukio was back in front of the multi-tenant building where he had originally been.
And then his eyes caught the sight of a beautiful woman coming out of the building where the gym was located.
She was an insanely beautiful woman.
I wonder if she’s around university age.
She looks slightly older and has an indescribable charm about her.
The air around her glitters, as if I had somehow walked into a movie.
Maybe she just finished working out in that gym.
The post-workout aura of freshness makes her all the more charming.
I’m sure that even that hot girl who looks like she’s a Miss Campus is gonna be attracted to the current me.
He decided to immediately call out to her.
For Sakuya, getting hit on was an everyday thing.
Speaking from experience, there was maybe only one man out of fifty who called out to her because they really wanted to date her.
These professionals, who called out to her in front of the station, did so disguised as pick-up artists with a different aim in mind.
Such people usually were after money.
I know your aim even if you called out to me, though?, and if she gave off such a vibe, they would often give up.
However, among them, there was also the unusual case of a troublesome approach.
Hitting on girls was essentially a one-sided communication.
It’s basically a rude act, but there were those who exceeded that. They were those who approached girls, while emitting the scent of violence and domination like a brute.
What truly had to be watched out for was those kind of people.
The most important to watch out for was the kind of pick up artist who was trying to be uber-engaged from the start.
One of the reasons why she had thought of going to a hand-to-hand fighting type fitness gym was to acquire the awareness to not get rolled up with such a dangerous fellow. However…
“Hey onee-san, you know you’re insanely beautiful? Hey, are you heading out somewhere?”
That day, Sakuya had promised to go shopping for new exercise clothes with Reiji.
Reiji, who had finished his high school classes, should be waiting for her in front of the station about this time.
Going to the gym to work up a sweat before meeting up with Reiji shouldn’t have been a blunder on her part.
However, she didn’t factor in the time it would take to do her makeup after she showered.
But still, she was hurrying and getting ready as fast as she could, and then this.
While trying to meet up with Reiji just barely late, Sakuya was called out by a hoodlum-looking man, Okada Yukio, on a deserted street.
“Don’t ignore me! Hey, are you looking down on me? Huh?”
“I’m in a hurry. Can’t you see I’m not interested in these things?”
Yukio flinched at the harsh words suddenly thrown back at him by a beautiful woman.
The embarrassment of things not going according to his calculation turned into “Don’t you know I’m the best!?” such irritation, and blew up inside him.
“Hey c’mon, don’t be like that…!”
Yukio grabbed Sakuya’s arm, and circled around so as to block her way.
“How about having a love rendezvous with me?”
Come on! Come on! With such momentum on him, he closed in on Sakuya.
Yukio had to make this beautiful woman understand.
Make her understand who was in control of this place.
However, the female university student shook his hand away.
“Don’t screw with me!! You’re just disgusting!!”
In that moment, Yukio’s too-high pride made him forget that he was in the middle of hitting on a girl.
Yukio’s expression changed in a flash.
“Bitch!! I am disgusting!? I’m seriously not gonna forgive you!!”
Sakuya’s shoulders shuddered.
“I ain’t even having a teensy bit of disgustingness in me… I’m seriously not gonna forgive this slander… I’m really gonna take this to a lawyer!!”
“Le-let me go…!!”
With a forceful shove, Sakuya pushed the man hitting on her away.
However, Sakuya’s strength couldn’t make her break free from the hoodlum man.
That’s when it happened.
A single youth cut in between them.
“Hmm? What the fuck you want!?”
Sakuya immediately knew.
This back belongs to the boy I’ve always loved.
The fact that Reiji was able to find Sakuya was truly the result of his daily teaching from her.
“If the person you’re meeting with is likely gonna be late, it’s courtesy to go and pick them up, not wait for them, okay”
It’s such a seemingly absurd claim, but one that made him think that there might’ve been a reason for it if Sakuya said it.
Up until a month ago, he might’ve brushed off those infinitely selfish words.
But it’s a wonder that the current him suddenly remembered those words, and wanted to come and pick her up voluntarily.
“Hey Ayato, I’m thinking of going to come and pick Sakuya-san up from the gym, but you wanna come?”
“Hmm? Sure. I got nothing to do anyway”
Sakuya didn’t show up even after the designated time, and there was no response from her phone.
The two of them went to pick her up. However, “Ah, do you mind if I have you pick her up alone, Reiji? I just remembered some business to do.”
“Huh? Well, I don’t mind”
After Ayato left behind words telling him that he would be waiting at the same place, Reiji headed for the gym where he and Sakuya had started attending.
And then he found Sakuya getting tangled up with a hoodlum-looking man.
Reiji slipped into the gap created when Sakuya pushed the man away.
“Hmm? What the fuck you want!?”
The hoodlum-like-pick-up-artist man, Okada Yukio, though flinched just a little at Reiji’s entry, he puffed up with pride.
Right now I’m invincible.
“This person is a special someone (of my best friend), so could you maybe let go of this hand…?”
At Reiji’s line, Sakuya’s chest skipped a bit with a kyun♡.
Just now, did Reiji call me a special someone!?
“Huu~uh? Special someone you said…!?”
Yukio’s anger finally reached its peak after being interrupted in his attempt to hit on a girl and having been one-upped with a girlfriend.
“Bastard… I hope you know what happens if you piss me off who has never had a girlfriend in my seventeen years of life…”
“No, I don’t…”
“It’s a farewell from this world, you hear!?”
Reiji had no idea what the flashy-hoodlum Yuki had done.
Normally in a situational like this, it would probably be either a punch or a kick.
However, Yukio twisted his body strangely, and tried to push his arm out.
The hell is this…!?
Unable to understand the reason, Reiji became a little scared, and nimbly evaded Yukio.
Furthermore, Yukio’s flank――Correction, the vital parts of the human body were defenseless.
Imagine it. Reiji felt like he could send every conceivable blow into it, but he couldn’t move.
This kind of approach full with opening is, on the contrary, somehow scary!
Yukio, who was supposed to have thrown the strongest punch, lost his balance and fell to the asphalt ground.
He was simply being evaded.
Even if Reiji didn’t move his hand for a millimeter, it created time.
“Let’s escape while we still can”
Sakuya, who was startled by Reiji’s words, ran off as she was being pulled by Reiji’s hand.
Yukio had no idea what had been done to him.
He didn’t even know that nothing had been done to him.
The moment he was about to throw out a punch, a chill ran down his spine, he went weak in his legs, his hips buckled, and he lost his balance.
He even choked on his breath from the pressure, which felt as if he’d been hit by continuous counter-attacks.
However, such a physiological reaction was only for a moment, and he couldn’t understand what had happened to his body at all.
Although Yukio had been in a daze for a moment, the shock of falling down calmed him down, and he quickly stood up.
“Damn it! I won’t let you escape…!!”
It was then, when he was about to chase the escaping two with trembling knees.
“Hold on a second”
Suddenly, from another direction, such a low voice directly reached his brain.
It’d be bad if I don’t stop.
But it’d also be bad if I turned back towards the voice.
A call from behind, which made him instinctively believe so, restrained Okada Yukio.
Nanjou Ayato had always been supportive of his older sister, Sakuya.
Even from Ayato’s perspective, the relationship between his best friend, Reiji, and his older sister, Sakuya, was vexing.
But he believed that one day, they would get together, and become boyfriend and girlfriend.
However, Sakuya was a bit awkward, and Reiji was insensitive even to his own feelings.
It’s bad if things stay like this.
Ayato owed a great debt to Reiji.
It was something that had happened when they were little, so Reiji might’ve forgotten about it.
But Reiji had certainly saved the siblings, especially the older sister, from danger.
Ayato had always remembered it.
That’s why he wished his best friend, Reiji, to be happy.
At the same time, Ayato also cared about his older sister, whom Reiji had saved.
No matter what happened, Ayato wished the two of them to be happy.
So, he gave the two late-bloomers a push.
He created many opportunities where Reiji and his older sister could be alone together in his house.
Regardless of the shape, the two of them cared about each other.
With just that, then they’ll probably get together naturally. That’s what he believed.
Ayato’s wish, however, didn’t show a sign of coming true at all.
The heck? Are those two elementary schoolers or what!?
Getting vexed even had its limit.
At this rate, his older sister would graduate from university first.
And perchance, his older sister might go off to another place for finding employment.
Once Reiji also graduated from high school, he would probably have a very different environment as he continued on to university.
If that were to happen, the relationship between the two would be even more difficult to develop, and they might even grow apart.
Therefore, he prepared an environment that would give them both a push, and also provided advice to his older sister.
Ayato had intentionally sped up the pace of their relationship.
Even if a little forcibly, he’d bring them closer together.
He planned to smoothly handle the unexpected situations that were born out of forcing the situation.
That was why Ayato didn’t go to the gym with Reiji to pick his older sister up, but created an opportunity.
However, he quietly followed Reiji in order to cover for him in case of emergency.
As usual, to give them a push if things seemed getting vexing.
And then, Ayato found his older sister getting hit on by a young hoodlum, and Reiji cutting in between them.
If it’s Reiji, I’m sure he can handle it easily, believed Ayato, who watched over them.
Perhaps, Reiji is much stronger than someone like me.
Reiji’s personality and real abilities are astonishingly mismatched.
And just as Ayato had predicted, the two of them escaped from the hoodlum without making any ruckus.
As expected, Ayato thought.
However, Reiji’s way of doing things was of a different style from Ayato’s.
From here on, it had to be Ayato’s way to erase any worries that might arise in the future.
Besides, Ayato was genuinely angry at the hoodlum.
Ayato had a nature that the angrier he got, the more calm and clear-headed he became.
A ferocious smile crept across Ayato’s cheek.
The little brother called out the hoodlum, who hit on his older sister, from behind.
“Hold on a second”
It’s just too dangerous to turn around…! The body of Okada Yukio disobeyed such feelings of his.
As if being forced to watch a thriller movie, a youth came into Yukio’s sight.
“Re… Red Devil of Hakuba West Middle School…!?”
As if reading from a teleprompter, Yukio then shouted Ayato’s nickname.
If he laid his eyes on you, you wouldn’t be able to walk on the streets.
A legendary delinquent who no longer appeared on stage.
That was the other face of Nanjou Ayato, which neither his older sister nor Reiji knew.
As far as Yukio knew, the rumor was that he had left the team and stepped down when he entered high school, but his influence was still going strong.
It was said that a single word from him could still move a considerable number of people.
The legend engraved on the other side of the city was an existence known as Ayato.
“I’ll let you off the hook for assisting the love between my big sis and best friend”
Concentrating really hard, Yukio let the meaning sink into his brain.
In short, it seems I’ve laid my hands on that Red Devil’s relative…!
As Ayato ordered, his legs started to move on their own.
While scampering, Yukio began to make a run in the opposite direction of Ayato.
“Don’t ever show that face in front of us again”
The hoodlum, Okada Yukio, shouted with all his might.
He ran as his legs turned into a circle, and swoosh~!, disappeared over the horizon.
He didn’t want to rely on this title.
However, Ayato had determined that he would do whatever it took if it’s for those two.
“This is as far as my assist goes, okay? Good luck, sis…”
“I guess it’s safe now if we ran this far…”
He led Sakuya by the hand, returned to the station, and stopped walking near a hidden café in an alleyway.
He looked around the surrounding area, making sure that they’re safe.
It seems like that hoodlum stopped chasing us.
It seems we managed to get out of the crisis.
Sakuya’s heart beating fast wasn’t only because they had been running all the way here.
This was in front of the café where she had brought Reiji along the other day.
Though it’s in front of the station, it’s a bit hard to spot, and for some reason the public order was good.
Reiji remembered it, and then brought her here.
“Wh… Why did you come to help me?”
Reiji’s eyes turned to Sakuya.
“You’re my (best friend’s) special someone… So of course I would”
“I… I see…”
Reiji, you’re really telling me I’m your special someone…!
This means.. He already confessed to me, right? Right!? In that case…
“The… Then, Reiji… I… do…”
“I don’t mind if you date me, you know?”
I wonder if I have truly conveyed my feelings to Reiji.
The words she had released must’ve vibrated the air, and reached Reiji’s ears.
At this very moment, there’s no way the laws of physics would change.
However, Reiji, “Why did it become such a topic?”
“Eh? Why? You don’t wanna!? It’s with me…! And didn’t you tell me I’m your special someone!?”
Sakuya was aware that she was getting out of control.
But she couldn’t do anything about it.
Because this was who she was.
“Well, you’re special, and I don’t not want to, but… Are you sure you want to be with someone like me?”
Why’re you making a sincerely wondering face!?
Sakuya was annoyed.
Of course I do…!
“Frankly, I’m unattractive, aren’t I? That’s why, it’s like, I wouldn’t be a good match for you, Sakuya-san…”
“You’re not unattractive at all, you’re so good-looking, Reiji! Geez! If you don’t wanna, then…”
Reiji must’ve been saying something incomprehensible.
“Reiji, date me!”
Sakuya hugged Reiji tightly as she confessed.
Reiji stirred restlessly in her arms.
“Noo! I’m not letting you go!”
“B-but, it’s hitting me…”
“That doesn’t matter!! I’m not gonna let go until you say you’ll date me!!”
Sakuya was surely in front of Reiji’s chest, looking up at his face.
“Geez… What are you blankly standing there for! This will be my last wish, okay? Tightly hug me now!”
Reiji went on to wrap his hand around Sakuya’s back, then hugged her.
Reiji took a deep breath.
Her little brother’s best friend’s chest expanded greatly.
“Also, I’m going to date you, Sakuya-san… And I’m not saying this because you’re asking me to, okay?”
Sakuya’s breath, which was suspended, relaxed and melted warmly in Reiji’s chest.
“But? But what?”
Looking up, Reiji was trying to say something.
“I… Don’t have any sexual experience at all, so please teach me a lot, okay”
Without a second thought, Sakuya lightly pushed Reiji away.
“Yo… You…! What are you even saying!!”
Is Reiji actually much more of a boy than I know!?
“I’m not gonna do that kinda thing right after starting dating…!!”
“Eh…? Like going on a date… You won’t do it?”
“I will do that! And isn’t that like something we’ve always been doing even till now!”
“Eh… Then, what you won’t do?”
“…That’s.. Something you’d do, together alone… I-it’s that thing. That”
“Sh-sheesh! Those kinda things are too early for kids like you!!”
Sakuya took Reiji’s arm and started to walk.
Just like a whiny child who would never let go, and never let anyone else have it.
And then, Reiji was finally able to name the mysterious feeling that had always been swirling around in his chest recently.
It was a love for Sakuya.
It was a name of a feeling that had been there for a long time, the first love he’d always had for his best friend’s older sister.
And then ten years later…
Reiji and Sakuya became a lovey-dovey married couple, but that’s a story for another time.
^1. I decided to leave it as is. Onee-san is really a mysterious word. I just really can’t think of an English word that can describe “a beautiful onee-san” nicely. In the past I’d translate it as older woman or older ladies. But then I checked in google image how “older woman” or “older ladies” would look like, and I immediately noped the fuck out.
^2. Most likely parody of SmashBros