One week later
A noisy notification sounded from Ryoma’s phone. Ryoma, who was working on his college assignment, came to a halt and examined his phone’s LCD. What he spotted on the screen was a message from Aira.
“Senpai, I finished my final exam. Let’s go on a date tomorrow! Your shift tomorrow ends in the morning, right?”(Aira)
Without warning, Aira threw three consecutive stamps of this sentence along with a goofy punch at the end.
“No, it ends at night.”(Ryoma)
“Hmm. I’ll give you one last chance to think it over. You have until mid-morning tomorrow, right?”(Aira)
You can only lie once. Ryoma could feel such pressure through the email. In order not to offend Aira any further, he stopped fooling around.
“Hey, your contracted JK is asking you out on a date, so don’t try to turn her down. And Aira is a JK who loves men, you know?” (Aira)
“Yes, yes, yes.”(Ryoma)
“Why don’t you just say that you’re happy that I asked you out? You’re a college student now, so you won’t be getting asked out by JKs, will you?”(Aira)
Ryoma handled the situation lightly, but he has no objections or reservations about going out with Aira. He’s looking forward to it even without the contract.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, but how does Aira know when I’m working? You didn’t even show up to my part-time job throughout your test period.”(Ryoma)
“I’m going to be completely honest with you. I didn’t have enough time in the exam to consider the length of Senpai’s shift.”(Aira)
“Wow, that’s terrible.”(Ryoma)
“Oh my god.”(Aira)
Following the email, Aira sends a paid stamp resembling a seal with a very agitated face. It’s a very Aira-like stamp.
“What’s with that peculiar stamp?”(Ryoma)
“Isn’t this stamp more adorable than the actual thing?”(Aira)
“It just looks twice as annoying as before. Other than that, aren’t you happy today. Did something good happen to you?”(Ryoma)
“Oh, you wanna know? Well, it’s partly because my test is over, but it’s also because I get to go on a date with Senpai tomorrow.”(Aira)
“You get nothing in return for saying that.”(Ryoma)
“But you feel happy, don’t you?”(Aira)
“What if I say I’m not happy?”(Ryoma)
“I’ll keep sending you stamps until you say you’re happy.”(Aira)
“Hurting Aira’s feelings is much more vicious. Aira is a woman, so she needs to be taken care of.”(Aira)
“I’m sorry about that.”(Ryoma)
Aira’s parents were too busy to take care of her. She was living a lonely life all by herself. Knowing this, Ryoma couldn’t afford to joke around. He sent a light “I’m sorry” stamp to avoid sounding too sorrowful but still convey his feelings to her.
“If I weren’t looking forward to it in the first place, I wouldn’t have asked Senpai out on a date, and we wouldn’t be talking about a contract, So we’ll have a lunch-to-dinner date tomorrow, right? Your part-time job should be over by then, and I’m sure you’re hungry after a hard day of work, so let’s go out to eat together.”(Aira)
“I’m hungry after work, so that helps.”(Ryoma)
“Yup! Isn’t it sweet of me to notice that?”(Aira)
“I know you’re nice when you’re not trying to bother me.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma later received an email from Aira. In anticipation of this, Ryoma gave his affirmation and continued to send the mail.
“But, you’re not nice to me at all.”(Ryoma)
“Ugh! Your responses are all over the place. I was about to fall in love with you too!”(Aira)
“What kind of person falls in love with someone just because they get one compliment?”(Ryoma)
“Isn’t that normal? They say men are weak, but women are weak too.”(Aira)
“Huh. Then tomorrow, I’ll praise Aira and see if she’s right.”(Ryoma)
“Is that foreshadowing that you’re going to confess to me?”(Aira)
“What if it’s foreshadowing?”(Ryoma)
“I’d say yes.'(Aira)
“Are you really saying that?!”(Ryoma)
“Yup. So let’s make a compromise, think about it for a week, and if you like it, nod your head.”(Aira)
“Hou~ . So please satisfy me tomorrow. Then maybe you won’t be so on edge, senpai~.”(Aira)
Ryoma could imagine what kind of expression Aira had on her face as she texted this. It would definitely be Aira with a teasing look on her face.
“Yes, yes. I’ll do my best to make sure you enjoy yourself, Aira.”(Ryoma)
“Yep! But it’s okay for you to act normal, Senpai. It makes me happy to see you like that.”(Aira)
“Great. Now I can rant and rave all I want.”(Ryoma)
“Don’t be silly! We’re going on a date tomorrow, so please be my escort.”(Aira)
“We’re only going out.”(Ryoma)
“It’s a date.”(Aira)
Aira started applying pressure on Ryoma and threw out four heart stamps in a row. Going out and dating was similar, but she doesn’t seem to be backing down at all.
“I’ve sent you a lot of heart stamps, I’ve got a date tomorrow, so I’m going to take a bath.”(Aira)
“Make sure you don’t slip in the tub and fall asleep in it.”(Ryoma)
“Stop pretending to be such a gentleman, Senpai. I know what you’re thinking~ “What does Aira look like when she’s naked.”? Am I right?”(Aira)
“You shouldn’t say those things so lightly. Anyway, just be early tomorrow.”(Ryoma)
“Yes, I know! I’ll try to go to Senpai’s part-time work as early as possible tomorrow, so don’t try to run away!”(Aira)
“Yeah, I won’t.”(Ryoma)
“If that’s the case, see you tomorrow for our date Senpai~.”(Aira)
“Yeah. By the way, return the muffler that you keep stealing from me.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma sent that email, but it didn’t mark it as read. Whether she intentionally ignored it or started preparing for her bath, only Aira could tell.
However, Ryoma knew that Aira isn’t the kind of person who would keep ignoring him.
‘I’m sure Aira will bring me the scarf tomorrow.’
Ryoma turned off his phone, scratching his cheeks as he slowly opens the drawer in his desk.
The drawer appears to be neatly organized. At the back, you could see a slightly wrinkled brown envelope. This was the envelope that contained the money required for the contract with Aira.
“I wonder how much money I’ll have to spend for my date tomorrow….”(Ryoma)
After which, Ryoma slowly closed the drawer.
I hadn’t touched any of this money after signing the contract with Aira. That was mainly due to the reason that Aira only desired a big brother. Since we both live in such a complicated family environment, I can’t bring myself to spend any of this money. On the last day of the contract, I’ve decided to give it all back to her.
“Good night! Oh, wait, before you go, which one do you think is more popular with men, this one or this one? Here, I just sent you a picture.”(Aira)
-Fifty minutes later.
After getting out of the bath, Aira called her friend as she promised.
The picture’s that Aira sent were the outfits she was planning to wear on tomorrow’s date. In the pictures were two outfits, one being casual and the other being streetwear.
Tomorrow is my date with Senpai. As a woman, it’s natural to want to be careful about what you wear in order to get as many compliments as possible.
“What kind of high-level question is that?! I don’t know what to say except that I believe both would look really beautiful on you, Aira. You’re naturally cute after all.”
“I wouldn’t lie to you! Hmm, that’s right. Aira, are you torn on whether or not you should expose her skin?… But, isn’t it better, though?”
“You’re right. Men like it when you show them your skin, don’t they?”(Aira)
“But, I’m sure it’s different during this period of the year since it’s not summer! Since some people think it’s better to show off no skin since it’s fairly cold right now.”
“But for you to be going out with a boy, Aira, I’m sure he must have a gentle personality. So it’s better for you to keep the exposure low so that you don’t bother your boyfriend.”
“Hmm, I see. Thanks for the advice. I’ll wear a coat tomorrow.”(Aira)
Isn’t it great that my friend is making such a reasonable assessment and is genuinely correct? Senpai does treat me kindly and cares for me…
“Ah! You even changed the way you dress your hair and do your nails for this picture. You sure are excited for tomorrow’s date, Aira.”
“I figured it was okay to try a little harder, right?”(Aira)
“It’s challenging to make a hair bun, especially when your hair is as wavy as yours, Aira-chan.”
“It took me a long time to make this.”(Aira)
“I’m sure it’s difficult, especially since Aira doesn’t usually tie her hair up in this manner. But, I think you should leave it like that! If you’re on a date, you should easily be able to win him over.”
“Stop teasing me. I already told you that I’m friends with him.”(Aira)
“I wonder if that’s true. It’s also possible you could see him as a boyfriend as well, am I right.”
“Liar. Then why are you taking such good care of the scarf that he lent you?”
“That’s natural. It’s a branded item, so I can’t be careless with it.”(Aira)
Recently, I’ve been getting teased a lot at school. Is it the muffler? I don’t think I’m treating it that ‘well’ to the point that I should be getting teased. I’m just doing what I can to ensure that the muffler doesn’t get dirty or damaged.
“What’s with that unbelievable reply?”(Aira)
“Then why don’t I send Aira-chan a picture of her sniffling the muffler? I’m sure you’ve heard the rumours at school about how your face melted like baked chocolate when you were sniffing it.”
“What kind of rumour is that! I’ve never heard of it before!”(Aira)
Isn’t that a bit too much? Such an expression of mine….being seen at school. Ahhhhh!!!!-I’m so embarrassed! I mean, it’s not like that!
“I was so happy that everyone was trying to keep it a secret. However, the boy who was aiming for Aira-chan collapsed.”
“Stop trying to spy on me! Wait, hold on, isn’t that a problem?!”(Aira)
“Sorry, sorry, that was a joke!”
“There it is. You’ve got a lot of guts, telling a joke like that to me. I’ll beat you to a pulp on Monday!”(Aira)
That isn’t something you should joke about so lightly. I’m going to poke fun at you as much as you poke fun at me.
“Hold-on! However, it’s true that the boy’s face had melted, and he had collapsed.”
“Yeah, his face was really melting. It’s more akin to a three-year-old burying his face in his favourite stuffed animal and becoming mushy.”
“Well, I think you’re joking. There’s no way that anyone would make such a face in high school.”(Aira)
“You’re so obsessed you don’t even know it! It’s youth! I’m sure your date tomorrow will be a lot of fun!”
“You’re driving me crazy!”(Aira)
It wasn’t a smart idea for Aira to ask her friend, especially one with such a personality, what she should do on their next date. Although it was stupid to be upset, it’s more entertaining than simply responding coldly.
“As thanks for helping you decide what to wear tomorrow, I’d like to know what happens on your date tomorrow.”
“I’ll think about it when I’m satisfied and feel like bragging.”(Aira)
“Ok-ay. So, tell me, where are you going tomorrow?”
“I’ll never tell you. If I tell you, you’re going to come and observe me with your friends.”(Aira)
“Such intuition! -Tch.”
“I don’t want my boyfriend to fall in love with you. You and your friends especially.”(Aira)
Since my friends are all older than me, there’s a one percent chance they’ll go after Senpai. Because of her twisted and stingy attitude, I doubt she’ll be able to express many of her excellent qualities, yet she’s so kind that it would be awful if Senpai found her.
“Eh?! Is your date partner that cool? Now I’m getting interested. What level is he at?”
“I’m not quite sure what level he’s currently at. Well, he’s equivalent to my class’s shining star.” (Aira)
“You mean the captain of the soccer team, most popular in the school year!?”
“I don’t know. For now, just imagine Ikki’s face, and picture him as a more mature, calmer and caring person. There are many more things I could say about him, but this is what I can easily imagine.”(Aira)
“Ah!!! That’s crazy! He’s sooooo my type!!”
“Which is why I’m not going to tell you anything else.”(Aira)
“Meanie! Cheapskate! So if Aira-chan’s date was in the same school as us, would he be in a higher tier than Ikki-Kun?”
“If you like older people, wouldn’t you? I heard he can cook and do housework, too.”(Aira)
“He even has skills like that?! Please give him to me, Aira-chan! Please!”
“I’m hanging up the phone.”(Aira)
Aira hung up the phone on her. It’s not like she was mad or anything. These were just their ‘regular’ hangout sessions.
But depending on Aira’s mood, she could have seriously cut her off. It wasn’t a joke. Aira decided to turn off her phone for ten minutes to let herself cool down.
I guess a man who can cook makes a good impression. I should learn to make something while I still can. Then I’ll be able to cook with Senpai, and he’ll be able to use the kitchen in my house. I wonder what Senpai’s favourite dish is…
“Why am I trying to fit in with Senpai….”(Aira)
It has a certain ring to it. It’s as though Aira is attempting to attract Ryoma’s attention by force.
In the meantime, Aira will call her friend one more time to check up on her. She was going to give her one more warning. However, Aira was grateful to her for helping me decide what to wear tomorrow, though.
Aira proceeded to call her friend. But because of Aira’s ‘check in’ with her friend, the conversation got really lively.
“Do you love him, Aira-chan?! Do you like him?!” I keep getting teased about it non-stop. However, I have a contract with Senpai, so I can’t just let her take him. That’s just how it is…
The call ended at 3:30 am.
It was 12:40 in the afternoon. Aira was in a hurry.
This was a bad idea. I talked on the phone for much too long last night! I couldn’t sleep till the following day because I was so thrilled about the date. I got up, applied my makeup and hair, and it was already this late! I’m supposed to meet him at 13:00, but I’m already running late.
“Sorry, Senpai! I might be about ten minutes late!”(Aira)
There was no time for her to send any messages to Ryoma. Aira wrapped Ryoma’s scarf around her neck and hurriedly ran out of the house.
Ryoma had already finished his job. Aira waved at Ryoma, who was waiting for her in front of the bookshop.
“Long time no see, Aira. I haven’t seen you since the test.”(Ryoma)
“Hah,….., hah. Huh, yeah. Hi. I’m really sorry I’m late!”(Aira)
“It’s only been five minutes, and I don’t mind. I even texted you so that you won’t have to panic.”(Ryoma)
“Oh, really? I didn’t get your email…….”(Aira)
It’s nearly impossible to be late when I’m the one who asked Senpai on a date….I can’t just tell him that I was looking forward to the date and accidentally fell asleep or something embarrassing like that, so I’m really sorry.
“I know I don’t understand how Aira feels, but please be careful because the more you rush, the more likely you are to have an accident. I don’t want anything to happen to you, Aira.”(Ryoma)
He really said that…Even when I did something so unpleasant, he’s too kind.
“You know, it’s kind of crazy that Senpai’s acting like this today.”(Aira)
“Why is that?”(Ryoma)
“Because you’re kinder than usual.”(Aira)
“It isn’t kindness. I’m only stating the obvious.”(Ryoma)
“Then why is Senpai…”(Aira)
“Nevermind! It’s nothing!”(Aira)
This Senpai doesn’t understand anything. This isn’t how ordinary people should behave. There are a lot of people who get upset when they are late for a date. I’ve heard that from my friends too.
“Well, whatever. Let’s go out for dinner as planned then. Do you have a place in mind?”(Ryoma)
“I’m thinking of all-you-can-eat. How do you feel about that?”(Aira)
“Oh, that sounds great.”(Ryoma)
“You’re so thin. You’ll probably give up after only a few bites.”(Aira)
“But I eat a lot. Really.”(Ryoma)
“Is that so? I’m a good eater, too, so you can count on it.”(Aira)
“Oh, Aira is ……? I can’t believe it. You’re thinner than me.”
“Well, I’ll show you at the buffet.”(Aira)
“What do you mean, ‘I’ll show you? “(Ryoma)
” ‘Show you’ is short for ‘I’ll show you.’ “(Aira)
“You don’t have to abbreviate it, you know?”(Ryoma)
Senpai just complimented me on how thin I am. I’m glad to hear that because my Senpai never compliments me unless I ask him for it…….I worked hard on my hairstyle, clothes, and nails for today, but I expected him not to compliment me at all. I’ve often heard from others that men don’t notice such things.
“……Now that Aira is breathing again, let’s get going.”(Ryoma)
“Wow, Senpai, you’re extremely good at prolonging the discussion. I hope that you didn’t forget that you were going to be my escort, so you’ve studied hard, right?”(Aira)
“What’s with that aura of wanting praise? You’re losing points.”(Ryoma)
“Haha, that’s too bad.”(Aira)
Senpai is clearly no stranger to dating. You can’t just learn how to escort people in one day, and you give off the vibe that you’re used to it in the first place. That is why I believe Senpai is pretty famous. Aira walked alongside Ryoma, showing off a displeased expression. Only at certain moments do their gazes connect.
Yaba…am I going to get..scolded?
“I couldn’t find the right time to tell you, but it seems like you changed the way you dress your hair today.”(Ryoma)
“Yeah, I changed how I dress..my hair.”(Aira)
“It’s called a hair bun, I’ve presumed. I’ve never seen this type of hairstyle before, but I think it suits you very well, Aira.”(Ryoma)
“I also like how you dressed. It makes me relieved to see that you’re properly being protected from the cold.”(Ryoma)
“Hey……don’t praise me out of the blue……. It’s embarrassing…….”(Aira)
It isn’t fair to keep praising me like this…but I can’t assume that he won’t be doing this again later.
Aira was dressed in a coat, wearing long trousers, so it wasn’t that revealing. However, Aira found it a little funny that Ryoma was relieved since men would usually be disappointed at the sight of this.
“I’m sorry about that. As I said, I couldn’t find the right time to tell you.”(Ryoma)
TL notes: My exams are finally over, so now I can get back to Tling.