“Do you know about Cowslips, Koremitsu?”
An utterly sweet voice could be heard by the ear.
Koremitsu, covered in a blanket, had his eyes covered as the voice gently reached him like a lullaby.
“The Cowslips are yellow flowers that bloom wildly in the grassy plains during spring, as cute as the Japanese Primrose. The girls gather these flowers as a form of fortune telling, ‘This one, or that one? Tell me, who shall I marry?’ singing such songs innocently.”
(This guy’s still yapping away early in the morning…it’s already summer vacation. Can’t I just take a break…)
Koremitsu muttered quietly to himself as his body embraced the refreshing mattress, and the comforting feeling of the pillow.
During this time, Hikaru continued his flower lecture.
“In Nordic Mythology, the Cowslip is the flower the Goddess Frejya, the keywielder, holds. In the past, it has been known as the ‘flower key’. It became widely known through the evangelism of Christianity as ‘Saint Maria’s Key’ and ‘Saint Petero’s Key’, a flower symbolising the revival of life.”
(Ahh, I see…well, whatever. Anyway, are you always in such a lecturing mode when waking up with a girl too? Even if it’s you, an effeminate pretty boy prince, you sure are noisy…)
“In ancient English, Cowslips are known as cow dung.”
(Wait wait. Why are we talking about that early in the morning?)
“The bell shaped flowers are the beds for pixies, so they are also known as pixie cups. The situation here is similar to that too. Look Koremitsu. You have a very cute one right beside you.”
Hikaru chuckled with his usual sweet voice.
(What kind of fairy tale are we talking about?)
However, he felt an intriguing warmth near his chest. There was a silky feeling beneath the blanket, and though it had some weight, it was still soft… sniffing a little, he smelled the scent of sweet fragrance of grass and milk.
“Good morning, big brother Koremitsu.”
The wide-eyed girl with silky cheeks greeted with her pink, tender lips.
Stunned, Koremitsu froze there, maintaining his sideways sleeping posture.
Shiiko, or Shioriko Wakagi, dressed in a bear pajamas, waa clutching at Koremitsu’s chest tightly, her soft thin black hair scattered.
Hikaru was beside them, dressed in white robes like a god from Greek Mythology, smiling with amusement as he narrowed his pretty eyes.
(Goodness, this guy’s acting like a Takarazuka actor–no, more importantly, Shiiko.)
Koremitsu got up from the bed sharply.
As it was summer, he was dressed in singlet and shorts. His muscular arms and legs were showing, and the sight of him in such a state, sleeping with a 4th grader girl is really a bad thing! The law would definitely not allow it!
“Hey, Shiiko! Didn’t I say not to enter my futon whenever you want to!”
“You’re petty. It’s fine, right? We slept together before.”
Shioriko looked unhappy as she puffed her rosy cheeks.
“That was different. You’re a 4th grader already, sleep alone! If you want someone to sleep with, go sleep with Lapis!”
“But Lapis finds it annoying to sleep in the futon, and will run away.”
“Well…it is the summer after all. It’s hot.”
At this time where the hot air blows through the open windows, Shioriko would find it tough sleeping while cuddling the cat.
“That’s why I’m sleeping with you, big brother.”
He refused adamantly.
Shioriko’s first temporary stay at the Akagis’ was on the day where her grandfather was hospitalized. That day was special because she was in a complete funk.
After her grandfather Tomohiko died, she began living with them as Koremitsu’s little sister, and had gotten livelier as a result. As an older brother, Koremitsu had to remind her that she must not enter a man’s futon no matter what.
Koremitsu accepted Shioriko as family with such a serious attitude, and Hikaru, who had been yapping from the get-go ‘Shiiko is cute, but she is off limits!’ ‘As Shiiko’s original guardian, I shall only allow you to do so 10 years later!’, relaxed that Koremitsu would not abduct a loli. At this point, Koremitsu was extremely miffed that Hikaru was clearly enjoying seeing him panic at Shioriko’s shocking actions, while trying to think of countermeasures.
“Big brother, you really are very petty. Petty, I tell you! Lapis~ big brother is being petty towards Shiiko!”
Shioriko even fussed a little at Lapis as the cat remained squatted at the sliding door, with a cool look. Its eyes remained still as it licked its furs with its pink tongue.
And upon seeing this, Shioriko again pouted her lips, slumping her shoulders.
“…I dreamt of grandpa. I felt lonely…that’s why I came here…”
Koremitsu felt his chest tighten.
Was this her usual acting at work?
(No, I’m learning everyday too, even though we’ve only been together for a month or so. I guess it can’t be helped if she wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to be with a relative…)
“Shiiko really is pitiful to be treated so coldly by her big brother.”
Hikaru spoke with an empathetic tone,
While Koremitsu watched that little back of hers, hesitating as to how he was supposed to tackle this issue, Shioriko looked over her shoulder, and quickly looked forward, looking on dejectedly.
“Uh, a-actually, if you really can’t handle the boredom, you can come to me and…well, that.”
“No, I’m already an adult. I’ll handle it alone.”
She continued to keep her back turned away from Koremitsu, letting out a soft, unenergetic voice, sobbing deep within her throat.
“No, there’s no way you’re an adult when you’re still in 4th grade, right? I don’t mean that when you’re being so lonely you can’t take it.”
“But I’m not really a family member…I’ll just cause you trouble, Big Brother…”
“Enough with that nonsense! You’re not causing me trouble! You’re already…something like a real little sister to me. If you’re really troubled, just come to me however you want. Watch me settle everything for you nicely.”
What am I insisting on so early in the morning? He felt his face burn upon thinking about this.
Shioriko turned her head around.
She continued to stare at Koremitsu with wary eyes, but soon after, showed a childish, innocent smile.
“Right, big brother.”
She clung onto Koremitsu tightly, and began to rub her cheek onto his.
“Yikes, this is really itchy! You can only hug me when you’re really troubled! Right now, go wash your face at the basin. It’s time to go for radio exercises.”
Lapis watched Koremitsu whisk Shioriko off with a ‘good grief’ look, and Hikaru, dressed in a Greek outfit,
“It is good for siblings to be so amicable in the morning.”
Made such a comment.
Shioriko was feeling really chuffed, her cheeks glowing. Her sobbing had ceased.
(Have I been fooled again?)
Koremitsu had such a doubt in his mind. At this moment.
The cellphone on the table rang, playing the Godzilla theme.
“Shiiko, you changed my cellphone ringtone!?”
“I didn’t find any hellhound theme when I looked through, so I used this as a makeshift.”
“Don’t search for such a thing! And stop looking through someone else’s phone!”
He brought the phone over, and glanced at the caller’s name.
He murmured, and Shioriko’s ears picked up on it.
He then pressed the receive button.
And answered bluntly.
“S-sorry! Was I too early? Are you still sleeping?”
Honoka in turn quickly replied in a shrill voice that struck his eardrums.
“No, I already woke up.”
“Really? Th-that’s good…sorry. I decided to call you immediately, Akagi. I thought something big might happen again if I didn’t do so.”
She rambled about such random matters.
And Koremitsu frowned.
“Seriously, how many times did you think of calling me? Don’t tell me something happened?”
He asked seriously, Ack! And got such a response.
“…Instead of that…er-erm…we-we haven’t set the date.”
“Koremitsu, the pool.”
Hikaru reminded at Koremitsu’s ear.
Speaking of which, they did affirm the promise to go to the pool at the end of semester ceremony
(Ah, is that so? She’s referring to that? I should be the one proposing the time and location.)
Hikaru had always been the one advising Koremitsu on the locations when he invited Aoi and Tsuyako out. This time, Koremitsu was to do so himself, and he was careless.
His chest was slowly sizzling due to his mistake.
“Sorry, it’s about the pool, right? When are you free then?”
Honoka heaved a sigh of relief, probably worried if Koremitsu had forgotten about the promise.
“I’m fine with whatever time it is. This week maybe? A little earlier is good, or my heart’s going to tighten while waiting—uu, it’s nothing. Anyway, arrange it this week! This week! I do have lots of things to do in the summer vacation unlike you!”
This time, she hurriedly rattled on.
“This week…well, I have nothing. I’m okay on Wednesday and Thursday.”
Koremitsu said as he checked through his calendar.
“I wanna go too, big brother! It’s alright, right?”
Shioriko suddenly shouted.
She was shaking Koremitsu’s knee with her little hands while he remained dumbfounded
“Okay, please, please, big brother? I—always wanted to go to the pool with you ever since summer vacation ended! Didn’t you promise Shiiko to bring her out during summer vacation?”
She complained, her eyes wide.
“Ah, got it. I’ll bring you out next time. Maybe next week.”
“No, I’m free this week too!”
She shook her head and fawned, the twintails of straight hair swaying left and right.
Koremitsu sensed that Honoka was listening on the other side of the phone with bated breath, and was at a loss of what to do.
Before the summer vacation, he could not take care of Shiiko because of Tsuyako’s matters, and as such, harbored the guilt that Shiiko might have felt lonely. Thus, he decided to make sure matters were settled during the summer vacation, and not leave her unattended.
“Guess I got no choice. But I’m definitely going to be worn out if I’m going to a pool twice.”
“We’re not going together. I want to tag along with you guys.”
(Wait, with you guys, as in, she’s coming along with Shikibu and me?)
Was left thunderstruck.
Shioriko lifted her head, and stared at Koremitsu with an impish, innocent look.
“Besides, if I’m going to the pool with you, you’ll be mistaken as a kidnapper, big brother. You’ll be sent for re-education.”
(WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT!?)
Hikaru let out a giggle, and on the other side of the phone,
“…It’s very possible.”
A feeble voice could be heard.
“If you’re going to be locked up, I’ll be really troubled, big brother Koremitsu. You’ll be mistaken for a lolicon, a kidnapper.”
“Akagi is a lolicon and kidnapper…!?”
The voice on the other side of the phone suddenly got shrill.
“In that case, you might be forced to quit school. If you can’t get through the job applications and background checks, you might end up being a yakuza like Butaro in Little Maruko!”
“THAT’S VERY POSSIBLE!!”
“Shikibu! Don’t just agree with her like that!!”
Koremitsu inadvertently exclaimed.
(Speaking of which, Hikaru, stop snickering away over there!)
Shioriko placed her soft, tender face on Koremitsu’s coarse face, and said to the mouthpiece.
“Well, please, Miss Shikibu? Please let us go to the pool with you so that big brother Koremitsu’s life won’t have a bleak future. You’re the only one I can ask!”
(Wait, the initial promise to the pool was between Shikibu and me! Now why do I have to ask Shikibu to allow Shiiko along!?)
It was too ridiculous no matter how he thought about it. Where had the premise been changed?
And while Koremitsu remained dumbfounded.
“Understood! I-I’ll go to the pool with you and Akagi as your guardian, Shiiko!”
Upon hearing Honoka’s determination.
Hikaru, floating beside Koremitsu, let out a wry smile as he commented.
“Miss Shikibu really is the reliable yet easy-to-fool type, huh?”
♢ ♢ ♢
And so, it was agreed that Koremitsu, Honoka and Shioriko would go to the nearby pool two days later, Thursday.
“You are quite popular, Koremitsu.”
It was after breakfast. Shioriko hurriedly ran out from her room and scampered across the corridor, saying ‘I got to prepare early’, and Hikaru was joking by the side. Certainly, it was annoying.
“That’s not the case. I’m just going to the pool with my little sister and classmate. Besides, Shikibu helped me out a lot of times before this, so I guess this can be some sort of thanks. Right, that’s it!”
“Normally, I do not think there is a need to specifically go to a pool with a female classmate alone just to repay her.”
“It’s not just the two of us. Shiiko’s coming along too.”
“Yes, Miss Shikibu must have been regretting things right now since she was the one who allowed Shiiko to come along. She probably is grabbing her pillow, rolling around on the bed. It really was a chance for her, and you will be bringing your little sister along for this rare date.”
“It’s not a date.”
“It is not?”
With Hikaru staring back with wide eyes, Koremitsu felt an abrupt unease.
Eh? I-is it a date after all…?
For Koremitsu, who had girls fearing and evading him till this point, he was unable to draw the line between a date and a simple outing.
(But because Shikibu helped me so many times before, I want to go along with her if she asks me to go to the pool with her. I don’t want to be the one being helped by others all the time. I think it’s more like I want to maintain the friendship rather than wanting to treat her equally like how she treated me. But is a single date between a boy and a girl really a date?)
Hikaru looked dumbfounded, and said to Koremitsu while the latter murmured with his arms folded,
“Koremitsu, what exactly is your definition of a date?”
He came up with the hardest question to answer.
Am I not thinking hard about this thing now!?
Koremitsu frowned, and answered,
“I think a date is when, you kiss when the atmosphere is most intense. No, when you’re holding hands.”
Hikaru was gobsmacked.
“I don’t think it’s a date if we’re walking without holding hands.”
How in the world am I able to say such embarrassing things to a ghost? Won’t others be thinking that I’m a guy who likes to clench his fists and mutter to himself on the corridor?
Hikaru looked back intently, giving a pitiful look either out of disinterest, or because he saw Koremitsu gritting his teeth silently.
“Well…that certainly is just like you.”
“Just shut up already.”
He tried to forget the embarrassing conversation from before, drew the cellphone out from his pocket, and flipped it open. Normally, he would not be checking his messages, but ever since the summer holidays began, he had been doing so often.
Surely he was still worried about Aoi.
–Thank you for coming over to help me.
Hikaru’s older brother Kazuaki tried to abduct Aoi into a distant villa before summer vacation ended, causing quite a commotion. Aoi was left unscathed in the end, and during the end-of-semester ceremony, she even came to Koremitsu’s classroom with Asai to bow and apologize.
Her life was not in peril back then, but it must have been quite a shock to her. Her face was pale, and looked tentative.
–I really am foolish for not knowing anything, to believe what Mr. Kazuaki said. I cannot allow myself to be this naive and let such a thing happen again.
Her body was curled up, her eyes were lacking vitality as she spoke in a self-depreciating tone.
On the other hand, the cold looking Asai,
–Yes, it’s better for you not to be bothered with a shaggy stray dog like him.
Said that with derision, and there was a falter in Aoi’s eyes.
–I really am sorry for causing you trouble, Mr. Akagi.
Aoi whispered with a teeny-weeny voice, and was dragged away by Asai.
Hikaru was worried for Aoi, and Koremitsu too had the same feeling, often exchanging messages with her.
–-Are you alright?
–Don’t worry about me. If something comes up, you must tell me.
–Summer vacation is starting. Are you feeling a little better?
It was the first time he had sent messages to a girl so frequently since Yū. Aoi’s responses were brief in comparison,
–I am alright.
What exactly was she thinking? How had she been living? Was she really not suffering—Koremitsu became really worried given that he could not see what was going on exactly.
While Koremitsu was checking to see if Aoi had sent any messages, Hikaru grimly glanced at the screen from the side
“So there is no news from Miss Aoi?”
He muttered to himself, his eyes betraying the worry for Aoi.
“…Hm, with Asa and Mr. Shungo watching over her, I do not think something like that will happen again.”
He probably remembered that extremely caring big brother.
I hate Aoi, but Aoi is Hikaru’s most beloved. Kazuaki, the child of the Mikado’s legitimate wife, treasured Aoi like a doll.
–I can be forgiven by anyone no matter what I do.
Even after his cross-dressing habits were revealed, he was still able to calmly state his own views with a cryptic smirk.
Tsuyako once trembled and said that Kazuaki was the embodiment of the spider.
That the Rokujō who personally murdered her cheating husband and the mistress was still alive.
As she had said, Kazuaki was ostensibly surrounded by a demonic, ominous aura of madness at that time.
Upon recalling it, Koremitsu felt a chill on his back, and at the same time, rage surged to his throat when he thought about what Kazuaki did to Aoi.
“If I see that perverted brother again, I’m definitely going to beat him up good.”
He muttered to himself.
Hikaru never said anything about Kazuaki.
From the beginning, he never mentioned anything about his family.
(The brother does seem rather obsessed with Hikaru…what does this guy think of his brother.)
I am an illegitimate child, so I hardly have the chance to talk to my older brother. Hikaru once said this…
Koremitsu wanted to know the reason why the luster would fade from Hikaru’s eyes, but at the same time, he was afraid of knowing.
Hikaru probably killed himself. Tsuyako’s words echoed at Koremitsu’s ears.
(I won’t ask now, but when exactly will he tell me?)
When exactly will that day arrive?
Probably on the day they separate.
Upon thinking about it, Koremitsu could feel his heart breaking apart.
To change this gloomy atmosphere, he racked his brains, thinking of something else.
He heard a soft grumble from Shioriko’s room.
“Ah, seriously, I don’t like this one too.”
She sounded really anxious, but there were also voices like ‘this can’t do’, ‘it’s showing already’, ‘Lapis~Nice body~’, and even the stomping of the tatamis.
“Arghhh, this is the worst!”
The stomping got louder.
“What’s the matter, Shiiko?”
“Ah, Koremitsu, do not open the door now.”
Hikaru reached his hand out, wanting to stop Koremitsu. However, the hand passed through Koremitsu’s body like usual, and the door was opened.
At that moment,
A cute cry rang.
Koremitsu too exclaimed.
There were all sorts of swimsuits, pink, yellow, scattered on the floor like flowers, and Shioriko was standing in the middle, changing clothings.
The one-piece polka dot swimsuit with frills by the side was right at Shioriko’s waist, and the sight of her snowy white back entered Koremitsu’s eyes, who hurriedly rushed out.
“Ah, why did you suddenly enter, big brother! You’re a pervert!”
Shioriko covered her flat chest with both hands, her face blushing as she protested.
Koremitsu really hated the notion of having to apologize to others, and hated it when others apologize to him. At this point however, he had no choice but to apologize.
Shioriko hastily turned away.
“Y-you’re really p-pe-perverted!”
She sneaked into Koremitsu’s futon and opened the door to the bathroom while Koremitsu was bathing; all those were fine, but she looked regretful when Koremitsu saw her naked body, calling him a pervert over and over again.
“I told you already not to do so.”
(That’s too late.)
Koremitsu saw Hikaru sighing away by the sight, and resisted the urge to lash out at him.
“Sorry. You were changing?”
And then, he turned around to apologize again.
“Uuu, I’m choosing the swimsuit to wear at the pool. Hikaru bought a lot of them last year. I told him that I don’t need any of these, but Hikaru kept saying that they all suit me, and would keep giving me a gift-wrapped swimsuit every day.”
(Hikaru…your actions are basically that of a pervert’s…)
How would the shop attendants think of a 9th grader buying swimsuits for a 3rd grader.
If it were a pretty boy like Hikaru, even if he was buying an elementary school girl-sized purple bikini in a shop, the attendants would be rather understanding. My, he is such a caring older brother, they might compliment.
Hikaru looked blissful,
“Every single piece does suit Shiiko after all. I cannot pretend to ignore such a sight; whenever I pass by the swimsuit shop, I find that they all suit her very well.”
(That’s just your own delusion. Also, a man shouldn’t be lingering in front of a swimsuit shop, let alone pick the sizes of an elementary school kid.)
Koremitsu glared right at his floating friend.
“Uu”. After that, Shioriko groaned behind him.
“I’ve received enough presents to last me a lifetime, but these are all too small. I can’t possibly wear them.”
“So you have grown, Shiiko.”
Hikaru looked touched as he narrowed his eyes.
(Why are your words so disgusting here.)
“Well, it’s not like the swimsuits shrank. You’ve grown after all. It’s your puberty, and it can’t be helped, right?”
Her voice got softer.
“…It’s rare to get a chance to go out with you, big brother. I want to wear the most beautiful swimsuit and play all I want. These are all what Hikaru left for me.”
Hikaru was dumbfounded.
How exactly does Hikaru think of that polka-dot one piece frill swimsuit? Just when Koremitsu was lost thinking about this.
“In that case, I can only upload my photos on a lolicon online shop and sell them all.”
“Ack, aren’t these what Hikaru left for you!?”
Koremitsu yelled back.
“Did I hear that correctly, Shiiko?”
Looked on grimly.
Shioriko barely managed to put on her swimsuit, but it was too small and tight fitting, causing her to shriek ‘kya!’. She picked up the scattered swimsuits, cuddled them to the front of her chest, and covered her body.
Meanwhile, the slim-bodied Lapis continued to lick its own feet coolly.
“I think that instead of looking at these swimsuits I can’t wear, reminiscing and crying over Hikaru, I might as well exchange these for money and get new swimsuits. Everyone’s happy. The latter is more logical.”
She went straight to the point.
“The 2nd hand shops in town doesn’t allow the sales of underaged stuff, but those weird online shops can sell them for a good price when done well. If Hikaru knows that I can use his presents in such a logical way, he’ll definitely be happy.”
“Uu, well, if Shiiko can be happy here, I do not mind.”
“No, Hikaru will be devastated if he knows about it! He once wanted to groom you into a fine lady! A fine lady won’t sell her own swimsuits at a weird shop! Anyway, pull yourself together and stop thinking of such ideas again!”
“But, the swimsuit…the pool…I have my own swimsuit for class…but, that kind of swimsuit won’t get me any appeal, making me look like I’m an elementary school kid. It’s not cute at all…won’t I lose here?”
What in the world are you thinking about? Koremitsu personally felt that an elementary school girl should wear such a swimsuit, but Shioriko really looked troubled at such a proposition, fidgeting away.
“Well, Shiiko is a girl after all. She wants to show her most beautiful side to her big brother after all, especially when it is her first time going out with him.”
Hikaru spoke up for Shioriko by the side. Koremitsu frowned, and said,
“I’ll buy one for you.”
An hour later.
Shioriko was beaming as she skipped beside Koremitsu on the streets.
“You’ll help me choose one, right? Big brother?”
“I don’t really know anything about a girl’s swimsuit.”
“It’s alright. I want to wear what you like.”
“Leave it to me, Koremitsu! I guess, well, a bright grassy green separate piece swimsuit should fit Shiiko very well. I do have a dilemma here, whether the sweet pea pink bikini or the snowdrop white one-piece will showcase Shiiko’s cuteness to its fullest. Ahh, I really feel wonderful to be able to choose Shiiko’s swimsuit this year.”
The sight of Hikaru being bashful was disgusting.
Both of them entered the swimsuit corner of the department store, and upon seeing Koremitsu, the staff members scowled.
A youth with red messy hair was glaring through the stores with an abnormally sharp glare; such a person would definitely be deemed as a dangerous person, and if not for Shioriko beaming so brightly beside him, he would have been whisked away for questioning.
Koremitsu was already used to seeing such stares, but it was somewhat unbearable for him to enter a women swimsuit counter. While he continued to lower his head and arch his back further, he heard a familiar voice.
“Ahh, seriously, which one do I choose? The purple one-piece here or the black bikini over there? Uu, I can’t decide.”
“You’re so pretty, Hono. Any of these will suit you. It’s rare to see you being so indecisive however. Normally, you’re the one who made up your mind while I’m still thinking of what to pick.”
“I’m betting on a woman’s spirit here! I have to wear the best—swimsuit this summer!”
“The best swimsuit?”
“So-something that can make the breasts look big…”
“Hee? The breasts!?”
“He did say that he likes big breasts when I asked him whether he likes them large or small…uu, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, I can’t lose here.”
As expected, Honoka was standing in front of the changing room, speaking to a bespectacled girl, wearing a bright purple one-piece swimsuit.
The swimsuit emphasized the cleavage greatly, and the elegant curves from waist to legs were as radiant as before.
“This one is really good, Miss Shikibu. It shows the charms of a mature woman to the fullest extent! This is really wonderful!”
Hikaru’s eyes were dazzling.
Honoka in turn noticed Koremitsu.
And shrieked in shock.
“What’s the matter, Hono? Uh, Mr. Akagi!!”
The class representative with braided hair was stupefied as well upon seeing Koremitsu.
“Wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-why are you at the women swimsuit corner, Mr. Akagi!? Are you a swimsuit collector? Are you the type to put all sort of designs in a room, and even rub them on your face to stimulate something?”
“Stop thinking of others as a pervert and give me that condescending look! I’m here to accompany this fellow!”
Honoka and Michiru looked over at the girl beside Koremitsu, the skirt reaching the knees.
“Y-you’re a lolicon after—”
Upon Koremitsu’s glare, Michiru’s shoulders shivered as she hid behind Honoka.
Honoka used her right hand to pull the changing room curtain and cover her body, her face flushed red as she looked at Koremitsu, her mind blank. She then looked over at Shioriko, showed a surprised look for an instant, before frowning.
On the other hand, Shioriko gave Honoka a childish, impish smile.
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Shioriko Wakagi, living with big brother Koremitsu and the rest. Are you Miss Shikibu?”
She lifted her head at Shikibu like an innocent bird.
Honoka’s eyes faltered, and she greeted back with a smile.
“Yes. Hello there, Shiiko.”
“I-I’m Mr. Akagi’s class rep—”
Michiru too introduced herself, and upon hearing them, Shioriko showed a cuter smile.
Hikaru continued to marvel Shioriko’s cuteness beside Koremitsu as he made a weird happy dance,
“Shiiko is so cute, she is an angel! A pixie!”
(What’s going on? What’s with this smile full of fighting spirit? It’s Shikibu here, not some moneybag middle-aged man she likes!)
While Koremitsu remained confused, Shioriko raised his hand with her slender arms.
And Honoka’s eyebrows twitched.
“Thank you very much for allowing Shiiko here to go to the pool with you and big brother. I come here with big brother to pick a swimsuit. Oh yes, you say you want to choose the best swimsuit for me here, big brother Koremitsu.”
Right now Koremitsu was about to speak up, Honoka spoke in a tone shriller than usual.
“It must have been tough. Since it’s tough for you to take care of a kid yourself, Akagi, I’ll help you as well. It really takes a lot of effort to take care of a kid. Right, choose my swimsuit too.”
She loosened the hand that was grabbing the curtain, and undid the Pareo at her waist. With a crisp sound, the deep adult-like purple one-piece swimsuit revealed the slender waist and the long thighs.
She even reached her right foot forward to showcase the curves of her legs, placing a hand on her waist.
“This is fabulous, Miss Shikibu! It is like a Heliotrope basking under the sunlight, brimming with passion!”
Hikaru was effervescent with his praises, but Koremitsu wondered,
(What’s going on? Why did the atmosphere become so intense all of a sudden?)
He was completely mystified.
Also, he had to choose Shioriko’s swimsuit and Honoka’s swimsuit. This was absurd.
“But I don’t know anything about a girl’s swimsuit!”
Though Koremitsu insisted, Honoka and Shioriko had their game face as they bombarded him with one question after another.
“Akagi! What about this? Does your heart race after seeing this?”
“Big brother? Which one do you prefer? This bikini or that one-piece?”
“You prefer the swimsuits that emphasizes more on the breasts, right? In that case, I’ll go try that leopard stripe swimsuit. Wait for me.”
“Big brother, I’m done here. Tell me what you think.”
“Look, it’s the leopard stripes, Akagi. Look and tell me what you think.”
Sweat was seeping from Koremitsu’s forehead.
“Ahh, that’s enough already. Shiiko, pick one with more fabric.”
“As for Shikibu…forget about the leopard stripes. Wait, don’t take the zebra stripes!”
He ended up chiming in hastily.
Meanwhile, Hikaru floated above Koremitsu as he requested selfishly,
“Speaking of girls swimsuits, it is best if you choose something that matches their personalities. Oh yes, Koremitsu. The yellow one with flower patterns on it will definitely suit Shiiko well. There is a vinyl silver swimsuit over there! I want to see Miss Shikibu wearing it. Please, Koremitsu.”
(If you like it, go wear it yourself! You thoughtless ghost!)
“Why are you looking upwards, Akagi? Look at me!”
“Big brother! I can’t tie the back. Help me here.”
“Ahh, Akagi…! I’m having trouble with the string on the waist!”
“Big brother! I can’t take off the swimsuit. It’s too tight. Help me!”
“Akagi! The skirt hook’s caught on a string. It’s uncomfortable rubbing on my leg, and…”
“Hono…I need to go for cram school…”
“Help me, big brother!”
There were calls from both changing rooms.
The store attendants were left aside, unable to approach.
Koremitsu continued to run around to help, grumbling in his mind,
(Argghh, seriously, like I know anything here! You girls might as well stick seashells on the top and bottom!!)
♢ ♢ ♢
After returning home,
Koremitsu was seated cross-legged in his own room, his shoulders slumped heavily.
“…I’m never going to shop for gold, jewelry or such things again, and I’m never going to go shopping with girls again.”
What exactly was going on? Why would those two keep arguing like that? While they were on the way home, Shioriko was clutching at the bag with the bikini inside.
“I can’t lose.”
“I do find it enjoyable however. Miss Shikibu and Shiiko would actually have such a cute side to themselves. It really is quite a sight to me.”
“…Cute? Their eyes were bloodshot, goodness.”
Were they feeling emotional because it was the summer? If not, how else could he explain that strange tension going on?
“…I think I used up half of my summer vacation energy for this day alone. I still have to go to the pool with those two 2 days later. Ugh, can’t this be finished faster?”
“You cannot let yourself be dejected, Koremitsu. I shall assist you however I can.”
“Heck, you’ll just say things like ‘that polka dot swimsuit is good, this high leg is good’.”
“Haha…that is a man’s instincts.”
Koremitsu let out a deep sigh.
“Well, never mind. Speaking of which, it’s about time we deal with your ‘wishes’.”
“Ah, you still remember.”
“Of course. I want this chatty ghost beside me to hurry up and depart into the afterlife. Let’s just finish them over the summer vacations.”
“Uu, you are being so cold today, Koremitsu.”
Hikaru looked dejected.
“Like I care. Then? Who’s the girl this time? Where is she?”
“Actually, I do apologize, but I do not know.”
As Koremitsu widened his eyes, Hikaru beamed cheerfully, giving a sweet, cheerful smile that could cause many girls’ hearts to flutter.
“I do not know anything about the girl’s real name, her age, where she lives, her face, her voice, nothing at all.”