Hellping

Humans are creatures of habit.

After two months of the hellish cohabitation, we started to get used to the lives we were experiencing. Home is wherever we call it…which wasn’t exactly appropriate in this situation, but at this point, we were finally able to get used to this strange circumstance of living together under the same roof as exes, and didn’t have to live with such tension.

 

But that was the mistake we made.

 

The most dangerous moment would be when we got too used to the moment—such was the golden rule every human took to heart, and yet we were so complacent, we forgot all about it.

If we could maintain that moment of tension when we started living together,

That tragedy would not have happened…

 

 

It was sunny, which was a rarity for June.

—But that only lasted till 4pm.

 

In this day and age, a single glance at a phone would show the weather forecast on an hourly basis, yet a true perfect prediction remained an unfulfilled dream. And I could prepare no countermeasures against the sudden thunderstorm that defied all scientific and technological prediction.

It was a downpour.

I was completely soaked.

From sleeve to hem to clothes, I was soaked all over in every way possible, and I passed through the entrance while feeling relieved.

 

“…Ahh shit, here we go…”

 

I cussed at my current predicament, and checked the bag that was before me. I prayed that that the books I brought to school weren’t completely drenched, but as expected, some edges were a little wet. Damn it. It’s my fault for not bringing an umbrella, but I still had an urge to grumble.

…Anyway, I need to get changed.

I was soaked completely till my underwear, so I thought I should have a shower.

 

The water droplets trickled onto the hallway, and I went to the bathroom, thinking that I should clean up later, and put my hand on the door—

 

I didn’t knock.

 

—I opened the door.

 

“…………”

“…………”

 

And there, our eyes met.

There was a single woman beyond the door.

There was a single woman with her long black hair completely soaked.

There was a single woman—who was completely naked.

 

“…………”

“…………”

 

During this frozen time, my eyes looked aside for help.

Like, I hoped that she had her underwear on.

Like, I hoped the steam would have obstructed my vision.

I cautiously affirmed the situation, hoping for a plot twist.

 

My hopes were dashed.

 

The result was that I affirmed that she, who was before me, was completely naked, and that my eyes were not hindered in any way.

I could see the round bump between her thighs and buttocks, the curves running to her waist, her thin, floating ribs, and even the drops of water running down her unexpectedly large bulges.

 

Drip. And she—Yume Irido, collapsed on the spot.

 

I in turn wordlessly closed the door to the bathroom.

And then, I fell to the floor.

 

…The sight of the slightly seared white skin was etched beneath my eyelids.

And so too were the small buttocks, the slender waist and the bowl-shaped bulge.

But what I experienced in my chest wasn’t excitement.

There was no joy, nor was there a sense of apology.

 

———I DUN GOOFED———!!!

 

The only thing I felt was this huge remorse.

 

 

 

We had a tacit agreement regarding the bathroom.

Whenever someone was taking a bath, the ‘bathing’ signboard on the door had to be flipped over.

It’s a minimum requirement for a boy and a girl in their youths, living under the same roof. For me and for her, it was also a form of self-defence.

 

It’s one thing if it was back in middle school, but at this point, I didn’t want to see her naked.

Above all, I didn’t want to end up in the trap of a crude romcom.

 

I could almost see Kogure Kawanami leer away. But seriously, such was the great influence of manga that those who knew that we were living together would ask ‘you sure you won’t walk in on each other changing?’ That was the one expectation I didn’t want to give them.

 

That was supposed to the case.

That was supposed to the case!

 

I fled back to my room, and finally, I was seething.

I had just checked that the signboard on the bathroom was not changed to ‘bathing’..

I guess she’s the same as me, completely soaked by the sudden downpour, and thought she should take a quick shower. That’s why she forgot to flip the sign.

If that’s the case, wouldn’t she be responsible for this accident?

It wasn’t my fault, was it?

It’s true that I didn’t knock, and I didn’t notice her shoes at the door, but there shouldn’t be a reason for me to act all guilty and flee the scene, right?

 

“—Mizuto-kun~? Are you in~?”

 

There was a knock at the door, and I heard my stepmother—Yuni-san.

My shoulders jolted, but I tried to keep my composure.

 

“Yuni-san, aren’t you home early today…?”

 

Did she appeal to Yuni-san for help…? Did she utter nonsense that I peeped on her when she was changing, and wanted to cover up for her own negligence…?

While I remained on guard, Yuni-san said to me cheerfully.

 

“I finished work early today~♪. Anyway, I bought some cake because I saw it’s cheap. Do you want to come downstairs to eat? It’ll harden if we leave it for too long.”

“Ahh, yes. I understand…”

 

I was quietly relieved by this. It seemed she hadn’t informed Yuni-san of the accident—

 

“Yume will be with us too. Hurry down!”

 

Yuni-san said as she left, and I froze on the spot.

…With Yume?

With Yuni-san present?

……Now?

 

“…………………………”

 

Are we seriously…going to pretend to be a pair of siblings who get along well?

 

 

 

 

I recalled that I was still soaking wet, so I got changed into my indoor clothes, went to the scene of the crime—the changing room—dumped my laundry into the basket, and arrived at the living room..

The moment I entered, I felt a strong shiver from her, who was already seated by the dining table.

I looked at her, but she wouldn’t make eye contact with me.

Her long black hair was no longer damp, for she probably used the hair dryer. Naturally, she had a one-piece knitted gown on her. Her face looked a little red as she had just bathed. Surely. Let’s pretend that’s the case.

 

“Ahh, you’re here. Mizuto-kun, which cake do you like~?”

 

Next to Yume was Yuni-san, who opened a box of cakes in a unique, fluffy vibe. My attention wasn’t on the various colorful cakes though, but on the two empty seats.

…My usual seat was right across Yume.

If possible, I didn’t want to sit here…but if I acted too differently from before, Yuni-san might wonder if something happened between us.

 

“…I don’t really have a particular preference for cakes. I’ll take the leftover, I guess..”

 

I managed to act natural as I answered, and sat opposite Yume.

I stared forward at her face.

This time, our eyes met.

The redness on her face seemed a little deeper than before.

 

I gritted my teeth to stop myself from faltering. Don’t think about it, don’t think about it, don’t think about it. I voided my mind. I didn’t have a byte of memory space to devote to her naked body. Don’t ovelap! Don’t look at this woman in a knitted dress with the one I saw in the changing room! Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō…

 

“Yume, you want a cheesecake, right?”

“S-sure…”

“Then I’ll have strawberry shortcake. Mizuto-kun, will you be fine with chocolate?”

“Yeah. No problem.”

“Oh, the water’s ready. I’ll go make some tea!”

 

I saw Yuni-san leave her seat and head for the kitchen, I took a breath.

This was the situation. We didn’t have to make eye contact, and make the bare minimum of conversation. That’s all we needed while eating the cake. Once done, we just needed to scram back to our rooms.

 

“…………”

“…………”

 

We were abandoned by Yuni-san, and there was an unbearable silence emitting between us.

We didn’t make any eye contact, let alone show any hostility.

But, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Yume grab her left arm with her right hand, as if she was hugging her body.

Perhaps it was an instinctive expression of self-defence, but the result was that the lumps before her chest were increasingly emphasized.

No, wait, she’s not, doing it on purpose, right? I wondered if she was hoping for my reaction, just when she seduced me with just a bath towel on a certain day back then.

 

I felt skeptical, and I was worn out just from getting my face all tense. It was then that Yuni-san came back with teapot and cup.

I was actually relieved to see her. I was nervous about her presence just moments ago, but I just couldn’t endure the awkward atmosphere between us after she left. It’s hell everywhere, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, a case of Double Bind.

 

If all else fails, retreat.

At this juncture, I could only devote myself to the first cake eating race!

 

“Speaking of which, how is school for your two?”

 

I was focused on exerting my will and strength into the fork when Yuni-san slowly chimed in, as though seizing a lead.

She placed a steamy teacup in front of us and asked,

 

“How’s it like in a prep school? I only attended an ordinary public high school, so I’m just a little curious~.”

 

I felt complete despair in my heart as I watched Yuni-san raise her cup with a smile.

She’s clearly…in the mood for a conversation.

She clearly wants to hear us out!

 

I stole a glance forward.

At the same time, she too shot me a look.

You’re kidding, right!? How are we supposed to talk in this situation?

Grrr…! But we had to maintain a charade as a good pair of siblings in front of Yuni-san. We already had an argument during mid-terms. At this point, we were desperately trying to pull a fast one over that incident.

 

“Th-they call it a prep school, but I don’t think there’s anything special about it. Right?”

 

The firebreathing Yume quickly passed the ball to me.

I stabbed the fork into the chocolate cake to distract myself.

 

“I guess so…yeah. Though there’s a huge difference in seriousness during the exam period compared to middle school.”

“Yeah. There was a real heavy atmosphere in school back then.”

“Students too. There are honest, serious ones, and then there are guys like Kawanami.”

“Speaking of which, Kawanami-kun hasn’t been scolded for having such hair? It’s brown all over, and he always plays with his bangs.”

“He probably got scolded, but he just doesn’t want to, I guess?”

“In a certain way, such guts is worthy of respect…”

 

It was clumsy, but we barely managed to establish a conversation. We could do it if we put some effort into it after all, for me, and for her.

The completely tense body really relaxed a little. I tried to extend my legs, wanting to relax a little more—

 

“Speaking of exam period, Akatsuki-san—hyaah!?”

 

—And then, my bare feet touched something.

…It was someone else’s foot.

It belonged to the girl who was seated before me.

 

Yume, who made an abrupt, strange sound, immediately sprawled onto the table and shivered.

…I-It’s just a toe poke. What’s with the reaction…?

 

“What’s the matter, Yume? Are you okay?”

“…I-I’m fine…I just stubbed my toe, on a chair leg…”

 

She kept her head low, and it seemed she could no longer bluff her way through with an excuse of having just showered.

Well, how should I put it? It seemed she was embarrassed that she had reacted excessively to a mere toe poke, rather than the fact that she just poked.

…Hmmm?

 

Why was that so? Given how she looked, there was something slowly rising within me.

Well…I should check it out first.

 

“So? What about Minami-san?”

 

I said as I poked my leg out. Once again, I tapped her foot, and rubbed the thumb between her ankles.

 

“……!?”

 

Yume barely managed to restrain herself to the point of shivering slightly, and she glared at me.

I in turn had my face propped by the shoulder, maintaining a stoic look.

She lifted her head, seemingly realizing my intentions.

 

“There was once when I didn’t manage to get a seat for self-studying. I didn’t know how Akatsuki-san did it, but she borrowed a spare key for the science prep room—”

 

She tried her best to act calm as she continued on, reeling back her legs.

I realized that though, and hooked her calves with my ankles, stopping her.

 

“Speaking of which, I wonder how that Kawanami managed to get a key for an empty room in the clubroom building.”

 

Yume then answered in turn by looking forward and sending her leg to the frontline.

I too resisted with my legs. I caught the leg that kept swinging forward, and tickled the ball of her foot.

 

 

“—Ugh…T-those two, really have quite the connections. We enrolled on the same day, so what’s different about us…”

“Well personally, compared to me, you got quite a lot of connections, o top student Yume-san with brains and brawn.”

“Go-goodness…don’t flatter me, Mizuto-kun?”

 

Yume continued to beam away while she furiously kicked away underneath.

I sensed that she was seething, and decided to retreat.

 

“You two seem to be getting along really well. Thank goodness! Studying is important, but it’s more important to live happily!”

 

Your daughter isn’t happy at all.

 

“I should go prepare dinner then. What do you two want?”

“…Fish.”

“…Meat.”

“Oh, quite the opposite choices. What do we have then…”

 

I waited until Yuni-san turned her back on us, quickly wolfed down the remaining cake, finished the tea that was sufficiently cooled, and returned to my seat.

If all else fails, retreat.

I hastily left the living room, but the moment I took the first step onto the stairs, I heard footsteps behind me

 

“W-what are you planning…!?”

 

As expected, it was Yume, whose face was red as a lantern.

She’s probably talking about how I fought with her beneath the table.

I looked towards the wall.

 

“I dunno…it felt interesting, I guess?”

“Haahh…!?”

“I didn’t expect you to have such a sensitive reaction…so…well…”

 

I weighed my words, and covered my mouth with my hand.

 

“…I felt I flipped a switch.?”

 

I wanted to see it a little more—how you would react after I saw you naked and touched you.

…That might be a hyperbole though.

To be honest, I just wanted to seize upon this rare chance to humiliate you.

 

“Ahhh…uuuuu…!”

 

Yume’s lips were agape, her face was flushed, and after a while,

 

“I-I…I don’t understand at all either…!”

 

She spoke up with a teeny-weeny voice.

 

“I’m wearing clothes, but, it doesn’t feel like, I’m wearing anything…my mind’s all blank…I feel restless for some reason…I feel limp at ths pot, I’m touched, whenever it happens…so—!”

 

She took a step forward.

It was a small step, but I could see there was a strong will in it.

The girl I had unwittingly seen naked took the initiative to approach the boy who had unwittingly seen her naked—there’s no doubt this required a lot of courage.

 

“—…Thank goodness it was you who saw me naked.”

 

She tried to hush her voice as much as possible, but I didn’t mishear what she said.

My mind immediately went blank, and I looked at her, who was staring at my belly.

 

“…Huh?”

 

So I said.

That’s all I did.

Yume then appeared to have recovered, for she hastily scampered away, pulling her distance.

 

“I-I misspoke…! Somewhat! I mean, it’s a little better that it’s you at least! Because, you see, you’re the most irrelevant!”

 

And while she continued to flail her hands and seek excuses, I sized her up for a few seconds,

 

“…I see.”

 

I sighed.

 

“Well, I don’t have any interest in your naked body at all. Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen.”

“Huh!?”

 

Yume gave the exact same reaction as me.

Thus, I ignored her.

I turned to head up the stairs, and trailing me was Yume’s voice,

 

“Y-You should apologize at least! Don’t you know how I—”

“…Sorry.”

“Eh?”

 

I turned around, and looked down at Yume from the top of the stairwell.

 

“I won’t be seeing your naked body again a second time.”

 

I said it.

I said it outright.

Yume’s face—or rather, her entire head was clearly flushed with blood. I didn’t know if it was because of shame or rage, so I chose to ignore her and took another step.

 

“O-of course, you idiot—!!”

 

So I quietly chortled in my heart and returned to my room.

She shouldn’t think that she’s privileged just because I saw her naked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—That night.

 

“………That’s quite a pitiful body.”

“!?”

 

A peeping tom showed up the moment I got out of the bath, and we had an argument, which ruined our parents’ impression of us once again.

 

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