The next day, I went to pick Yui up from her house.
I pressed the intercom, praying in my heart that her parents wouldn’t come out because I would feel awkward. The door opened, and Yui peeked out from the gap.
Yui was still wearing the same hooded parka as she had on the day before. Her hood was covering her eye, perhaps to hide her hair.
When she came out of the house, I was surprised to see her quickly walk towards me as if to say,『What are we going to do today?』
The expression on her face was a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Yuuma’s eyes narrowed at the sight of Yui.
“Can we just play at the Internet cafe like yesterday?”
It was a short reply, but Yui’s expression softened, and she let out a small smile. My first thought was that she’d prefer to go to an internet cafe together instead of me taking her around, and apparently, I was right.
So we started walking together.
As we were walking together again, Yui shrank, hiding behind in my shadow, perhaps worried about the stares of the people around her.
(Well, it can’t be helped.)
Yui grabbed her hood tightly to hide her white hair.
In Yuuma’s case, he wasn’t very bothered by it since he was initially friends with Yui. He also knew about her so-called subculture. However, some people may stare at Yui’s white hair since others have been bullied her for it.
…Every time we passed by someone, Yui’s chest would tingle in fear as she casts her face downwards.
“By the way, what happened to the materials you got after defeating Lucifer ・Alternative yesterday? I haven’t used mine yet since I have no use for it yet.”
“Ah…uh…I haven’t used it yet, but I think I’m going to use it for armour. I’m going to be tanking a lot, so I’m focusing on defence….”
“I see. Then I’ll go for the wand since it suits my role.”
“Mmm…I think that’s good. A mythical wand can increase your firepower drastically. And Yuuma has always been good at evading…”
As soon as I began talking about the game to distract Yui, she became more talkative. It was kind of funny to see her like that.
In the midst of their discussion, they arrived at the internet cafe.
Just like yesterday, Yuuma went through the reception and headed for the room.
When Yui entered the room, she let out a sigh of relief. She sat down on a chair and relaxed.
“It feels like I’m back home again.”
When Yuuma called out to her, Yui took out her smartphone. With a flick of her little hand, she typed in a message. A message arrives on Yuuma’s phone.
『I’m not very good at going out～、I’m tired～』
Along with this message comes a stamp of an exhausted anime character. I couldn’t help but giggle as the stamp and Yui’s pose matched perfectly.
『Is it easier for you to talk in chat？』
『Yes. I’m not very good at talking, so this is way more fun for me because I can speak in my usual way, no?』
『Ah, no. If that’s what you want, you’re free to keep it as it is.』
When Yuuma said that, he received a stamp of an anime character with a speech bubble that said,『Thank you.』
Truthfully, I would like her to speak for herself so Yui could overcome her communicative disorder, but she’s already trying her best just by going out, so I don’t think I should push her any further than this.
Besides, during one of our games yesterday, I found out that she could speak for herself whenever she’s in a pinch, so it’s safe to say that we can proceed slowly for now.
『It seems like you’ve gotten used to me. You were so shy at first.』
『Well, that’s because I like you, you know.』
──I know that Yui doesn’t mean that at all, but it’s still pretty upsetting when a girl says she likes you when she really doesn’t. I laughed at myself for being so adolescent.
『Shall we play a game then?』
『Yeah, let’s play.』
What we were doing was basically the same thing as before, just two people playing an online game together.
But playing in the same space like this, it felt…warm. I don’t really know to put it into words, but it was a lot more enjoyable than before.
I glanced at Yui and noticed that she had a slight smile on her face. That made me really happy.
Yui is quiet and shy in real life, but as a gamer, she’s a pretty serious person. She would take on high-difficulty quests that would wear her down, and we would play through the game together.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
Before we knew it, we found ourselves playing the game for several hours straight.
“I think we should take a break, don’t you?”
When I asked her that, Yui nodded her head.
I was so engrossed in playing my games that my eyes felt heavy. Yui appeared to be the same way, firmly closing and opening her eyes.
“Here’s a hot eye mask. It’s good to warm up your eyes when they get tired.”
Yui took the hot eye mask. But she didn’t put it on right away and looked down as if she was thinking about something.
“…I wonder if it’s really okay for you to be treating me this nicely…”
“T-thank you…Yuuma, for playing with me like this today…and for taking such good care of me…but I feel like I should give something back to you too…”
“We’re friends, so don’t worry about it.”
Yui had a look of uncertainty on her face. She probably thought that she was a bother to me and made me feel uncomfortable, but that was not the case.
Yui was a person who had a low sense of self-esteem or little to no self-confidence.
Yuuma thought about it for a moment, scratched his head to hide his embarrassment, and opened his mouth.
“Then…can I ask you for one favour?”
“Would you like to hang out with me again tomorrow, if you don’t mind? We can do it the day after tomorrow or some other day if you have things to do.”
“Eh? Oh, uhm, I don’t have any plans during spring break, so…is that okay?”
Yuuma sighed and gave a small smile to Yui, who still looked worried.
“You see…I’m nice to you because I enjoy playing with you, and I’m happy when you’re happy. You’re the one who often gives me items and information in games, right? It’s the same thing.”
“And! Well…I…uhm…like you too….”
I was so embarrassed that I had to whisper at the end. Yui, on the other hand, was blinking her eyes.
“As friends! As a friend!?”
Yui’s eyes were still fluttering as she replied.
Her expression slowly relaxed. She placed her hands on her cheeks, her face flushed, as she smiled happily.
“Ehe, ehehehe……♪ I’m happy…I’m so happy…”
I was really happy to hear that, and it made me feel even more embarrassed.
“And that’s how it is, anyway. Let’s take a break for now! And after the break, we’ll play some more games! Is that okay!?”
We played together for a few more hours, and then it was time to leave.
When we left the internet café, the sun was almost down. However…there were still quite a few people left on the street. I felt Yui tense up and stiffen next to me.
“Are you okay? I’ll walk you home then.”
Yui’s gaze wandered anxiously. She then reached out and pinched the sleeve of Yuuma’s shirt with her hand.
“Well, I don’t want…to get lost, so……。 Besides, I feel a little safer when I do this…….No?”
“No, no. I don’t mind, but……”
Yui was picking at my clothes. Even though that was all she was doing, I could feel my face heat up.
“Then, let’s go, shall we?”
As Yuuma starts to walk away, Yui follows after him, still pinching his sleeve.
I feel like the distance between us has shortened yet again. I’m happy about that, but I feel really embarrassed.
I walked Yui home, feeling a little nervous.
The next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, Yuuma played with Yui at an internet cafe.
To be honest, my pocket money has been dwindling due to my daily trips to the Internet cafe, but this is for Yui’s sake. I’m glad I left some money for her.
I plan to get a part-time job when I enter high school, so I’m prepared to use up all the money I’ve saved for this year.
Although Yui was still mainly chatting, she was smiling more and more when she was alone with me.
It’s been a week since I started playing with Yui. Today, the two of us were playing at the internet cafe yet again.
I’m currently enabling auto-combat mode for hunting down small fries as I read my manga. This kind of multitasking is the hallmark of an internet gamer.
At first, I thought to myself, [Aren’t you playing a game with your friends?] But then I discovered the two most recent volumes of the most popular manga, 『Maou Tensei: The Villainous Ladies Butler』, was sitting out on their bookshelf, which I hadn’t read before, so I had no choice.
Yui, who was the first one to read the manga, sank into her chair. She was flapping her legs as if she was delighted with the development of the manga. Such a gesture is adorable.
──It seems that she has finished reading.
[Heh~] Yui exhaled with satisfaction and closed the manga book. She then took out her phone and began operating it.
At the same time, Yuuma also held up his phone.
Since most of the conversations with Yui are performed via chat, it has become a habit for Yuuma to hold up his phone when Yui starts operating it.
『I’ve finished reading it. It was pretty fun and exciting.』
『Hmm, can I borrow it then?』
『Yes! Fee-chan’s awakening to the power of an angel and becoming a warrior was both cool and cute. It was great!』
『”Whoa! Don’t spoil it!』
『It’s okay, you’ve already heard that Fee-Chan’s a descendant of an angel, so it’s a little too late for that.』
『It’s one thing to read a book and say,『See, I knew it！』But it’s another thing to be spoiled, especially by your friends!』
Yui apologizes 『sorry』while she was smiling. It was an unguarded smile. Her smile makes me feel as if I can forgive almost anything she does.
『But, you still like Fee-Chan, don’t you?』
『Of course, Fee-Chan is very cute! Heh…I wish I could take her home and take care of her…』
By the way, Fee-chan is the silver-haired Loli from MaouTensei. From what we’ve talked about so far, Yui seems to like the so-called loli characters.
『…Isn’t it unfair that when a man’s a Lolicon, he’s looked down upon, but when a woman’s a Lolicon, she’s treated as some sort of precious existence?』
『That’s because men look at characters with sexual desire, right? I look at Fee-chan as a maternal figure.』
『The average 15-year-old exists in the public eye as a loli, especially since you’re on the small side.』
『Is that a roundabout way of saying I have small breasts?』
『Don’t read too much into that, okay!?』
『Yuuma…also makes fun of me for having small breasts…』
『If…you’re really that concerned about that…then…I’ll try to be more careful from now on, Okay? I don’t really know about guys, but I’ve heard that girls do care about this kind of thing, so…』
『No, not really? It’s just a joke, so don’t worry about it.』
『What’s the matter with you!?』
Yui was giggling happily.
She was pretty nervous in the beginning, but she seems to have gotten used to me.
With that in mind, Yuuma decided to take it just a little bit further.
『But, you would look pretty good with a Fee costume, wouldn’t you?』
『Eh? Cosplay? Does Yuuma do those kinds of things?』
『Well, I don’t do it much, but…I know of someone who does. So, how about it? Try mustering up your courage and give it a go…』
『I can’t, I can’t, I can’t! I’m not going to wear a costume, even if it’s a request from Yuuma!』
『I’m only half kidding about the cosplay. But, I think you should at least practice taking the hood off, don’t you?』
Over the past week, Yui has consistently worn a hood over her eyes to hide most of her hair.
It was no different for Yuuma. He also had the very same deep-rooted complex as Yui ages ago.
But that’s not going to be the case once school starts.
『First of all, you should practice taking off your hood when you are alone with me. You’re aware that I don’t give actually care about your hair anymore, right?』
Yui put down her phone and took a deep breath while placing her hands on her chest. She looked at me timidly, and I nodded back to encourage her to make up her mind.
After a few moments of hesitation, Yui turned to me. She closed her eyes tightly and took off her hood. The long hair, which she tucked inside her clothes, was let out. Her white hair spread out softly, like an angel spreading its wings.
Yui had always given me the impression that she was boyish, partly because she had been hiding her hair under her hood and partially because of the image she gave me so far. But the moment she let her hair out, the girlish feeling she had given off intensified.
“How…..is it…..? I-it’s, not weird…, is it?”
Yui asked shyly. In response, Yuuma said,
“C-cute…..sorry, not now.”
I couldn’t help but comment on how cute she looked when she was this embarrassed.
Yui’s face immediately turned red, and she began to fumble around with her phone.
『Liar! I told you not to say that, come on!』
『Why!? Isn’t it a great thing that I’m having such a positive reaction!? And I’m serious; you’re really cute! You’re such a beautiful girl!』
I chose to compliment her in the sense of[if you eat the poison, you get the recipe.] Yui was incredibly flustered, and her face was bright red.
『Don’t you think it’s a little embarrassing to tell a girl that she’s cute face to face!?』
『I’m telling you this because you’re too stubborn to admit you’re cute! You’re cute! You’re so cute!』
『S-stop! It’s super embarrassing for me!』
Yuuma was also slightly embarrassed, so he let out a slight cough to cut the flow of the conversation.
『Do you have an inferiority complex about your white hair?』
『No, it’s because having white hair like this is unusual. When I was in elementary school, people frequently called me weird and disgusting…….』
『Don’t pay attention to what the other elementary school kids say. White hair is indeed rare, and I can understand why you’re so concerned about it, but frankly, the others around you don’t seem to mind, and I’m used to seeing it. You’re funny and friendly in chat. If you can be like that in real life, you’ll definitely be popular.』
When Yuuma said that, Yui turned her face downwards in embarrassment again. She barely replies 『I…don’t need to be popular…』
For some reason, I suddenly felt embarrassed, even though Yui had stopped wearing her hood for quite some time, so I decided to read a manga to cover up my embarrassment.
In the story, Fee has awakened and is very active. However, I couldn’t focus at all since I was still worried about Yui, who was squirming around.
As I was reading the manga──
Yui grabbed the hem of Yuuma’s clothes lightly.
“Eh? What’s wrong?”
“A-am…am I…really that cute….? You didn’t say that…as flattery, did you?”
Yui’s face was red all the way up to her eyes, and she was looking at me with anxious, clingy eyes.
──For some reason, I felt my chest tighten.
“……Y-you’re cute. Really.”
My embarrassment was many times greater than it was before as I blurted it out.
Yui smiled cheerfully despite her embarrassment.
“If you say so, Yuuma…I’ll try a little harder…, Okay?”
When we left the internet cafe, Yui didn’t put on her hood.
“It doesn’t…look so good to me…”
Yui froze the moment she left the internet cafe.
The moment Yui left the internet cafe, she froze in her tracks.
Well, it comes as no surprise to me. It was the height of rush hour. There were a lot of people out on the street. Many of them turned their heads to look over at Yui’s white hair.
“I know what I said before, but you don’t need to push yourself, Okay?”
“S-still, I’ve decided to do my best…”
In an effort to strengthen her resolve, Yui said these words. However, she wasn’t able to take the first step.
“Y-Yuuma, can I…ask you to do something for me…?”
“Uh, can I…borrow your arm…?”
I wasn’t sure, but I extended my arm lightly toward Yui.
I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I lightly extended my arm towards Yui. Then Yui clung to my arm tightly.
Yui closed her eyes tightly and held my arm.
I don’t know whether to call this fortunate or unfortunate. But because of the thick fabric of Yui’s hoodie, I hardly felt the so-called “guess what” feeling. It was mainly the soft touch of the fluffy hoodie that I felt.
But, as an adolescent boy, just the thought of being hugged by a girl my age makes me nervous.
However, Yui was trying her best, so I couldn’t just shake her off.
“Are we going home?”
Yui nodded her head desperately with her eyes tightly closed.
“Well then, let’s go…shall we?”
I barely managed to keep myself from croaking. I started taking slow steps.
From that point on, it was all shame and embarrassment. The girl with the white hair and the boy with his arms held stiffly in the air stood out.
Yuuma could feel all the eyes around him staring at something interesting and smiling, and Yui was clinging to his arm with all her strength, making it a very difficult task to walk. Thus they had to march slowly.
Upon arriving at the front of Yui’s house, they let out a sigh of relief. Yui then started operating her phone.
“Yuuma, I did my best today. Praise me, praise me.”
Yui was happily smiling as she typed that. Yuuma laughed along with her smile.[If I had a younger sister, would it be like this?]
But wasn’t she scared the entire time? Praising her would be too much. However, she still mustered up her courage and tried her best…so, let’s praise her as requested. With that in mind, I extended my hand.
“Alright, alright, you did well.”
I placed my hands on Yui’s head and lightly stroked it.
Yui then looked up at me with a surprised look on her face.
[Eh….? Did I make a mistake? I jokingly said I would compliment her and unawarely pat her head by mistake…did I misread the air?)
I hurriedly removed my hand from Yui’s head.
“I’m sorry! I just thought this is what it would be like to have a little sister!”
“Uh-huh. I’m fine.”
Yui, too, was embarrassed, and her face was flushed. I took a big breath while placing my hands on my chest. Afterwards, Yui resumed chatting normally to kick start our conversation.
『So…Yuuma thinks of me as his little sister?』
『……Sorry. That’s what I think, to be honest.』
『It’s okay; you’ve helped me a lot…..but, I hope you don’t do that too often outside since it’s pretty embarrassing for me』
『You don’t have to apologize. I’m just a little embarrassed, and it’s not like I dislike it or anything…』
Yui suddenly stopped chatting after a while.
She was looking about, pondering about something. Yuuma looked around as well, but there was no one around.
『Hey, Yuuma? Do you want to pat my head?』
『No, not in a weird way, okay? Sometimes when I see characters I like, I want to pet their heads — and I thought Yuuma felt the same way.』
『…… Well, I won’t deny it.』
Honestly, I have a slight desire to pat Yui’s head.
It’s not so much that I have feelings for the opposite sex as it is that I always wanted to take care of a younger sibling.
『Then, is that Okay? I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me.』
Yui’s cheeks slightly flushed as she raised her gaze to Yuuma. She gently tilted her head and waited for Yuuma to pat her.
(is this Okay…?)
I was still a little uncomfortable with the idea of touching a girl myself, even if it was just patting her head.
In spite of this, it would be improper to refuse when Yui offered to do this for me. Then, after some hesitation, Yuuma patted Yui on the head.
At first, I lightly touched her head with my fingertips and then slowly wrapped my whole hand around it.
Yui’s hair was thin, soft, and silky. When I moved my hand lightly from side to side, I felt a pleasant touch.
Yui’s eyes were lightly closed, and her cheeks were dyed red with embarrassment, but not in disgust. At the very least, she doesn’t mind being stroked.
(She’s pretty cute, isn’t she….)
I think she’s a little too cautious about boys, but seeing her like that makes my heart skip a beat.
However, she’s only cute as a little sister. I don’t view her as a romantic interest or anything of the sort.
(Since I’m a big titty lover who likes older women.)
To tell you the truth, I’m glad I did. We wouldn’t have the relationship we have today if Yui had been my favourite person.
“Ah, it’s nothing. I guess I’ll be going home then.”
“Yeah. See you tomorrow, okay?”
──In any case, today, Yui was able to take another step forward of her own volition.
At this rate, Yui’s communicative disorder would be easier to resolve than I had initially anticipated. That’s what I was thinking.
But the very next day, an incident occurred.
TL notes: Having a wisdom tooth sucks. Please donate if you don’t mind 🙂