As everyone knows, there’s a rite of ritual human lovers have to undertake before they become a couple.
Yes, a confession.
Using the situation of me and a certain boy as an example, I was the one who did so. It’s unfair that one side didn’t have to confess, right? Well, a few people, including me, would have thought so, but given his personality, he’s never going to confess to me even if the heavens fall, so I had to do it.
My manner of confession was a love letter.
To be honest, the reason why I confessed through a love letter was simply because I didn’t have the courage to confess straight to his face, but I wrote it at a really bad time. I could see him every day during summer vacation, but our relationship might end once the second semester started…so I brooded, and by the time I opened the envelope, it was late at night, the day before summer vacation ended.
The passage I wrote really was befitting of the late night. I immediately laid on the bed once I finished it, as I was too tired, and did not complete the most important part.
It was mental preparation.
Of course, the natural manner to hand over a love letter was to put it in the other party’s shoe locker. That was my intention when I wrote it, but I was so disappointingly clumsy and timid back in middle school, and awaiting me at the very end was the usual outcome.
Right when it was going to happen, I was terrified.
Maybe I should have put more thought into this, right? So I sought this excuse, and tried to backtrack.
But right when I was about to.
He showed up, and changed shoes before me.
We went to the library together, and the anxiety spread in my heart. What should I do? Maybe I should wait till the next day? No no no, we got lessons the next day. If I miss this chance, I wouldn’t have another chance again…!!
If only I had made up my mind earlier—but that was just a meaningless guess. A coward like me would never be able to steel myself unless I was driven to despair. At the very end, I ended up speaking only at the very last moment, right when we were about to bid each other goodbye at the crossing.
—I-Irido-kun…! …P-please…read…this, letter…
To repeat myself, I didn’t have the courage to confess straight to the face, which was why I prepared this love letter that was rather antiquated.
But, what’s this situation about?
I really wondered what fetish caused me to give myself the green light, and have him read out the love letter I spent so much effort writing in the middle of the night?
While he read the letter silently, my mind was filled with regrets. I was repulsed due to the excessive self-loathing I had, and my gut winced. Every passing second, I could sense my organs falling out from every single hole I had.
FInally, he read the letter.
And he said to me, who merely stared at the ground intently, shivering.
—I think you’re the closest person to me in my life.
I lifted my head in fear once I heard those unexpected words.
—You’re the only one other than dad whom I could talk with everyone else. Other than dad, I can’t think of anyone else who’ll laugh next to me.
Wait…so I suddenly had this thought.
I started looking forward to a good future.
…And then, I immediately got rid of that notion.
How many times did I have my expectations disappointed? I never had anything go well in life, and my life was filled with failures. Every decent thing I did, none would remain.
Thus, I too assumed it would be the same outcome, and without reason, gave up.
Irido-kun then said,
—Thank you for being able to like someone like me…do continue to take care of me.
I couldn’t understand his words immediately. I didn’t dare to believe my ears. Again and again I reflected upon his words, certain that I did not mishear, and started to doubt if I was dreaming again.
I lifted my head, and saw it was an unfamiliar face of the person I like. His face looked so gentle, I had never seen before, yet he seemed a little awkward as he stared into my eyes earnestly.
Just maybe…so I quietly muttered.
Irido-kun then proposedly decisively, as though he had seen through my heart.
—Please be my girlfriend, Ayai.
Not because I was terrified, not because I was sad, and not because I was reading a light novel.
I was crying…in joy, for the first time in my life.
—And so, in the summer during my second year of middle school.
I had a certain existence called a boyfriend.
At this point though, I felt that I was completely young and foolish.
“I have your secret. Come to the place listed after school if you don’t want it to be revealed.”
The next morning, we slipped a blackmail-like letter into Higashira-san’s shoe locker, for the strongly cautious little brother of mine didn’t provide us her LINE number. A wise decision.
“Is this really okay…?”
I glanced at the restaurant entrance as I poured the tea into my cup.
“It’s fine it’s fine~ Higashira-san will definitely run here looking all teary.”
“I’m worried because of that.”
It’s fine it’s fine~ so Akatsuki-san kept repeating away as she pressed the button for melon soda. We just threatened someone else, so how’s she still so calm? I felt a little suspicious.
And while we’re lingering around at the drinks bar, the target was spotted.
A girl with a short bob haircut and large breasts entered the entrance apprehensively, her back arched. She looked around, and the waiter approached her.
“Table for one?”
Akatsuki-san stood up, went to Higashira-san, and patted her on the shoulder.
“Waiting for you! Over here over here~!”
Higashira-san continued to blink away in bewilderment, and Akatsuki-san led her over.
Higashira-san was clearly befuddled, ah, but she blurted out once she saw me at the four-seater table.
“The brocon little stepsister…”
“I hate that this is how you remember me!”
“Anyway, did you just forget my face!?”
“Hiiuuuu…! I’m sorry I’m sorry…!”
I couldn’t hide the fact that the absolutely sarcastic introduction of myself stuck so well. Akatsuki-san herself too seemed to be really devastated, since she’s usually a character well liked by many, only to be forgotten by someone she met yesterday.
Given my experiences in middle school though, I’d guess that she didn’t see our faces clearly as she couldn’t look at us in the eyes…
Akatsuki-san had Higashira-san sit opposite me, and moved the nearly translucent melon soda towards me. Thus, Higashira-san was facing us two.
Higashira-san glanced aside at us, and her timid look really was too adorable. We couldn’t talk at this rate, so I tried to give her some leeway, as gently as possible.
“Sorry about this, Higashira-san. That letter was a prank from Akatsuki-san. You don’t have to be so scared.”
“A…prank…? Not a threat…?”
“No no no! Drinks are on the house!”
After all, we’re the ones who called her out. It’s to be expected that we would be treating her.
Next to me, Akatsuki-san pouted.
“Say, Yume-chan, isn’t it too much to say that was a prank by me? You and I know what Higashira-san’s secret is after all…”
Akatsuki-san gave a long, meaningful smile. It looked intimidating. It looked so intimidating, Higashira-san suddenly shivered. Ahh seriously!
Anyway, I thought I should have a drink to calm down, so we went to the drinks bar.
“Higashira-san, do you know how to use the drinks bar?”
“Eh, ah, I do…we do visit a family restaurant whenever mom’s lazy to cook.”
…Surprisingly, she has a rather carefree mother. My mom likes to cook, so I hardly had the chance to.
We returned to our seats, and Higashira-san started gulping down the orange juice. She seemed thirsty.
Once she finished her drink, Akatsuki-san spoke again.
“Higashira-san, do you know what secret we know about you?”
“Eh…? My secret…?”
Higashira-san seemed a little perturbed, but she had calmed down somewhat.
“Erm…ah, are you talking about the ero books I got through some means…!?”
“That’s not it. That’s quite a boyish secret you have.”
“Ehhhhh…? Then, you’re talking about a virtual live channel I created as a test run before deleting it back in middle school…!?”
“Not at all! Goodness, I didn’t think you would blurt out that history! That’s more shocking to us here!
“Th-that’s not it!? Ahhhhhh I blurted it out…!”
Higashira-san blushed as she sprawled on the table. She looked adorable, yet it made me restless.
Upon seeing that, Akatsuki-san said with a reluctant tone.
“It’s about Irido-kun.”
Higashira-san lifted her head.
“Yes. You like Irido-kun, don’t you, Higashira-san?”
“Heh? Well, yes. I like him.”
Akatsuki-san clearly looked helpless in the face of this honest affirmation.
Wait, they seem to be on different channels. So I thought, and said to Higashira-san.”
“Higashira-san…the ‘like’ Akatsuki-san mentions here is actually more of ‘love’…you understand?”
“Eh!? Love…? As in romcom, love?”
Does her understanding of English only apply to light novel jargons?
Higashira-san tilted her head to the right, and then to the left, clearly looking confused.
“You say…that…I love…Mizuto-kun? Ehhhh….I’m sorry, but that’s a misunderstanding, maybe…?”
“That’s not it. You’re the one who misunderstood! Yume-chan, give me that thing!’
Akatsuki-san snapped her fingers, and as discussed beforehand, I took out my smartphone, though I looked on grimly.
“…Are we really showing her this?”
“Then why did you take that photo?”
“…I suppose so.”
I tapped at my phone, and showed the phone I took the previous night, as per Akatsuki-san’s instructions.
I took a really huge risk to take this photo. Thus, I felt a little hesitant about showing the results of this escapade so readily.
But it’s to be expected. If I didn’t show it to Higashira-san, it would just be taken for my own interest…
And while I was fidgeting, Akatsuki-san suddenly snatched my phone. Sh-she’s way too fast at this…!
“Now then, Higashira-san? Can you say the same thing after seeing this photo?”
“Huh? I don’t know what kind of photo it is, but Mizuto-kun and I are just ordinary friends—”
“—Voila! A photo of Irido-kun’s sleeping face~!”
The moment the screen was shown to Higashira-san, she froze and gasped.
She stared at Mizuto’s sleeping face that was shown on my phone, which I had taken last night by creeping into his room. I spent quite some effort as he was a late sleeper.
“Ohh~ Irido-kun’s sleeping face is cute, isn’t it, Higashira-san?”
“(Nod nod nod)”
Higashira-san nodded really quickly.
Akatsuki-san smiled once she saw this, and I narrowed my eyes.
Higashira-san probably noticed how unsightly she was being. She covered her mouth with her hand, and averted her eyes from the screen.
“…I-I don’t really have interest in such things. Mi-Mizuto-kun is my good friend! I-I-I won’t look at him with impure eyes.”
“Just to note, this isn’t the original. It’s a snapshot from a video.”
“It’s recorded perfectly together with his breathing! …Right? Yume-chan?”
“……I-it’s because you told me to do so, Akatsuki-san……”
It’s not because I have a fetish! I’m just following orders!
“I actually planned to offer you the video if you admitted to it, you know~? You’re basically sleeping with him if you listen to that, you know~”
Again Higashira-san sprawled onto the table, and let out a sound as though she was attacked on the inside.
……Sleeping with him if you listen to that……
Huh!? What was I thinking!? I’m deleting that video once it serves its purpose! Didn’t I already decide that!
“You’re rather stubborn. Why aren’t you admitting this?”
Akatsuki-san sighed as she looked down at the anguishing Higashira-san.
“It’s no wonder that you’ll fall for a guy who has similar interests to you and is willing to treat you gently? Even Yume-chan’s the same. She does have a brocon side to herself, but she’s not going to say something like ‘you dare to woo my little brother’.”
“I won’t say that, even discreetly! And I’m not a brocon!”
“Yes yes yes.”
She just brushed me off. I can’t accept this!
And then, Higashira-san, who remained sprawled on the table, made a feeble voice.
Higashira-san’s seemed to be really playing dumb a little too much, and we lashed out in unison. She shriveled up like a little animal.
Akatsuki-san rolled her eyes upon seeing this.
“Eh…? Are you serious? You’re serious about what you said?”
“Wh-why do I have to lie here…!? I-I really don’t know…! I never had, such experiences, before in my life…”
“Ehhh? A first love? At this age?”
Higashira-san blushed as she tugged at her bangs to hide her face, sprawling on the table again.
I started to feel a little restless, seeing how innocent she was.
“…Wh-what do we do now, Akatsuki-san? My back feels a little ticklish now.”
“…What’s a coincidence, Yume-chan. I’m suffering the same symptoms too.”
First love…ahhh, such a nostalgic yet despised term…
And she said she was unsure about it. Give me a break. It felt like I got my black history slapped onto my face. I really wanted to yell out for some strange reason, yell and run away. Was my past self such a shameful creature?
“…Well, for example, just imagine.”
Akatsuki-san said begrudgingly.
“Imagine Irido-kun suddenly embracing you while you’re talking.”
“And then he whispers with a deep voice into your ears, ‘sorry, just a little while. Can we not be friends for this little while’?”
“And then while you’re wondering, your lips were already taken by Irido-kun—wait, why are you sprawling on the table too, Yume-chan?”
N-nothing. My mind just went wild a little. It’s really because the voice Akatsuki-san used really resembled him a little too much…!
Snap! Akatsuki-san quickly took a photo of Higashira-san’s face.
And then, she showed that photo to the latter.
“You showed such a look, and you say you don’t like him? That’s impossible.”
In that photo was the face of a blushing girl with dazzling eyes, mouth half opened.
Higashira-san shivered once again once she saw this screen.
“Isn’t that a pig!?”
“Yep. You’re a pig.”
Uuuuu…! Higashira-san blushed once again, but because of another reason, and collapsed onto the table.
“So I said I’m Mizuto-kun’s friend, but I’ve been looking at him like a hot pig…it’s a lewd demon…it’s the work of a lewd demon…”
“If this is the work of a lewd demon, all the women in the world are demon lords…”
It seemed Higashira-san didn’t hear my little retort, and she might have been sweating over the fact that she realized that she was in love for the first time in her love. Ugh, I felt a little nauseous at this sweet and sour feeling.
“Okay okay. Now we’re finally talking.”
Akatsuki-san finished up the melon soda that had fizzled quite a bit. She let out a long burp. How crude.
“Finally talking…is there something else…?”
Higashira-san lifted her head uneasily, and Akatsuki-san giggled.
“Well, Higashira-san, Yume-chan and I will help you out and ensure that you’ll be able to date Irido-kun!”
Higashira-san blinked away. Akatsuki-san slapped her empty chest confidently. Yume-chan…and I?
“Erm, Akatsuki-san…it might be a little too late for me to say so, but I didn’t agree to help out…”
“Ehh—? But Yume-chan, you know all of Irido-kun’s likes, right? Higashira-san, you too feel at ease if Yume-chan’s standing next to you, right~?”
“E-ehhh…? Me, erm…”
“You’re being way too suspicious here, but I’m the kind of person to take such questions all the time! Leave it up to me!”
It’s true that Akatsuki-san’s the kind of person to accept such questions, and it’s obvious from her usual conversations that she did have love experience. When she occasionally refused our invitations, everyone wondered if it was because of that guy.
“So how about it, Higashira-san? Yume-chan and I at your service. Quite the fine lineup, right? It’ll take seconds to conquer Irido-kun, seconds!”
Well, I never said I would help out.
…But I didn’t have a reason to refuse. If I did, I would never be to rid the label of a brocon. No, but…
And while my mind was in chaos,
“…No, never mind. Forget about that…”
Higashira-san said with a feeble voice, as though a raindrop landing.
“It is fact that I like Mizuto-kun as a friend…I’m already happy enough to be able to talk with him like it is…you see, for someone like me, even if I do stand out, I’ll just make him suffer, you know! Maybe it’s because I’ve been focusing on useless things…you’re willing to help me out, but I’m sorry…”
For every word she said, her voice and silhouette shrank.
…Where did I see this scene before?
Someone who would avoid acting due to a lack of confidence, having assumed that everything she did would be for naught, insisting that doing nothing is the best, giving excuses that were not logical weapons, just looking at the situation she’s not exactly happy with—
—Yeah, she’s basically me back in middle school.
“Don’t run away before you even try.”
And before I knew it, I spoke up.
Higashira-san and Akatsuki-san looked at me in shock, but I couldn’t stop the words swelling from my heart.
“Give up only when you’re done with everything. You really want to, don’t you? You want to be his girlfriend, right? You want to do things ordinary friends can’t do, right?”
I lifted my waist and leaned forward, lifting Higashira-san’s face.
“You can do it if you become his girlfriend! You can hold hands and go home with him after school every day, kiss him on the way back, and even talk about anything through phone with him. You’ll receive a Christmas present, and he’ll even take care of you when you’re sick! How about it!? It’s all to be expected when you’re his girlfriend!”
Higashira-san widened her eyes.
I could see ripples of emotions in her eyes.
She would be so happy if she could do all that.
She would be so delighted if she could become like that.
If, just if, she could determine where her happiness would be at,
“—You’re still thinking that it’s fine not to be his girlfriend?”
Her eyes started to falter.
That alone was enough to form an answer.
Higashira-san lowered her head, and grabbed at the hem of her uniform firmly—
The hoarse voice finally eked out her determination.
“I-I want to flirt around with him too…I want him to say that he likes me too…! I want to do things, with Mizuto-kun…things that are beyond, friendship…!”
She lifted her head again.
The despondence in Higashira-san’s eyes were long gone, and replacing them was a seemingly endless desire to battle.
“What do I have to do, to succeed…? What can I do, to become Mizuto-kun’s girlfriend?”
She lifted her waist, leaned forward, and held my hand, saying,
“Please teach me—sensei!”
And then, I recovered.
My mind went hot for a moment, and that added fuel to the fire…
…Is this really fine with me?
Next to us, Akatsuki-san made a little fist pump.
“Izanami: Mizuto-kun only looks at me as a female friend.” – 20:14
It was the night after I hastily agreed to take up the role as Higashira-san’s love consultant—so I was in my room, looking at the LINE chat group titled ‘Mizuto Iridor Conquest Meeting’.
Akatsuki-san, Higashira-san and I had this chat group to smoothen the operation—but Higashira-san said these depressing words, a terrible start in this chat group. And also, she’s using the name of a god?
“Izanami: I’m going to fail even if I confess now. I’m scared.” – 20:14
“Akatsuki☆: No no no, I think it should be fine here. After all, he’s a guy despite what we say. He’s probably conscious enough of a girl’s body. You have a super nice body after all, Higashira-san, lol.” – 20:15
“Izanami: The only things I’m confident in are my boobs!” – 20:16
“Akatsuki☆: I’m so envious of you, damn it. Share some with me.” – 20:16
Akatsuki-san posted a melon emoji.
“Izanami: I’d say these are watermelons.” – 20:17
“Yume: What’s with this self-awareness about those boobs? What happened to the shy girl?” – 20:17
“Izanami: Well, my shoulders really ache, and I can’t find any cute bras” – 20:18
“Akatsuki☆: She’s boasting about her large boobs~—!!!!! I can’t forgive that!!!” – 20:18
Akatsuki-san started spamming a chopper emoji, and I giggled.
Truth be told, Higashira-san’s breasts look rather amazing even to girls. We too would glance a few looks. I suppose it would be moreso for guys.
Is it really possible for him to pay attention to this scene next to him…?
“Izanami: But even with my boobs, I think Mizuto-kun’s impossible to conquer. I can’t sense his stare at all. I feel safe and secure.” – 20:20
“Akatsuki☆: You serious~? Well, Irido-kun does look like he’s not interested in girls though. What do you think, Yume-sensei?” – 20:21
“Yume: Don’t call me sensei.” – 20:21
“Yume: I think he’s just good at hiding things.” – 20:22
“Izanami: Has Mizuto-kun given you lewd looks before, sensei?” – 20:23
I leapt from my bed.
What’s she asking!? Would anyone ask such a thing? Really?
Would the mood be awkward if I answered ‘yes’ here…?
I cautiously chose my words in my reply, expressing the doubt I just had.
“Yume: Higashira-san, you don’t mind that? Are you jealous or something?” – 20:25
“Izanami: I don’t seem to be the type to get jealous.” – 20:25
…I’m so jealous.
Would our relationship be a lot smoother if I had that personality too…
“Izanami: Has Mizuto-kun given you lewd looks, sensei?” – 20:26
Copy and paste. How curious was she?
I hesitated for a while, but since I was the one who coaxed her into it, I had to answer.
“Yume: Well, we do meet after I finish bathing, from time to time.” – 20:27
“Izanami: Does Mizuto-kun have any fetish?” – 20:27
“Yume: One question after another!? How would I know?” – 20:28
The ears, I guess. He always nibbled at my ears whenever he wanted to kiss.
“Akatsuki☆: Hm~ your personal testimony doesn’t make sense. Anyway, let’s see how it goes.” – 20:29
“Izanami: How it goes?” – 20:29
“Akatsuki☆: I mean when you two are together. We’ll see how it’s like. Maybe Irido-kun has some awareness in ways you don’t know of, Higashira-san.” – 20:30
I myself was wondering how those two normally spent their time together……no no no it’s all for Higashira-san’s sake.
“Izanami: And what if Mizuto-kun is staring at my chest while I’m not noticing?” – 20:31
“Yume: Then we’ll fend him off by putting a ‘boobie alien’ cap on his head.” – 20:31
“Akatsuki☆: Nice idea! Count me in too!” – 20:32
“Izanami: I’ll join in then.” – 20:33
“Akatsuki☆: Ah no no, the fun will end if you join in as well, Higashira-san.” – 20:33
And just like that, Akatsuki-san and I entered the library after school, pretending to stay behind to study.
Akatsuki-san removed her usual ponytail, and I had low dangling twintails, along with the glasses I used back in middle school.
“I-it-it really suits you~~~…!! Glasses Yume-chan is…oh my…”
Akatsuki-san seemed strangely excited initially, and started taking a few photos, but she did calm down somewhat.
Seriously, was there a reason for her to react this much just because I have glasses on? How’s it possible for a vision correcting tool to make someone cute or handsome, to the point of preserving the memory as a photo. I’m really sorry, but I can’t understand that at all. Really!
We sat at the reading area, and had our backs turned against the corner where Mizuto and Higashira-san usually sat at.
We set the phone upright on the table, used the camera function we have, and shown on it were our shoulders, along with Mizuto and Higashira-san who were over there.
We could thus avoid their stares while looking, and could watch over them. So Akatsuki-san suggested.
“…Hey, Akatsuki-san, can I ask you how you know about such stalking tactics?”
“No~ can~ do~♪”
I chose to retreat, for I sensed darkness. Akatsuki-san was often strangely terrifying whenever she made such an innocent voice.
I turned my eyes towards the cellphone.
Mizuto merely leaned his body onto the air-conditioning next to the window, and Higashira-san removed her shoes and socks, her knees tucked together, barefooted as she sat on it. Wait, she’s not getting scolded? The air conditioning isn’t supposed to be used like this.
“(If Higashira-san didn’t mean it, isn’t it amazing how she’s sitting like that?)”
“(Eh? How so?)”
Akatsuki-san continued to whisper.
“(Girls don’t usually show their bare feet. Seems like they’re erotic to guys).”
“(…Yeah. Feels like it’s some premium edition of bare legs.)”
“(And she’s sitting there with her knees cupped. Sitting up there like that. She might give a pantyshot here and there. And her knees are pressing against that rack…)”
“(Ahh yeah, maybe her breasts are holding up her body. When she leans forward, she’ll find them stupidly heavy—)”
“(Heh. I. Really. Have. No. Idea. How. That. Feels.)”
Neither her eyes nor her voice showed any bemusement. Is she that bothered by her body…
…Speaking of which.
Mizuto and Higashira-san, still in the inner camera footage, were just reading silently. From time to time though, they would show each other what they’re reading, and sometimes giggle.
The sight of them reminded me of my time with him. Should I say I’m nostalgic, or embarrassed…
Since I could visualize our past with this, it obviously meant that they were no longer ordinary friends.
Their shoulders were about to touch.
If they moved even the slightest bit, they could kiss.
It’s not that kind of relationship, but they should be more mindful of how close they were.
“(Irido-kun really isn’t looking at all. He’s ignoring the massive rack right before him…)”
“(I’m starting to feel a little sad for Higashira-san.)”
“(Even I too would look. I was looking when talking with her.)”
“(You’re looking too much.)”
But well, I supposed it’s a good thing.
It’s no wonder that a girl would feel at ease, why the timid Higashira-san was so clingy towards him. I really felt it was a good thing as a friend.
But at this point, Higashira-san deemed him as a boy.
It would be a real pity if he ignored her this much, or rather, if there was no hope to begin with.
Would I really have confessed if he treated me like this before we started dating.
Did the timid me make up my mind to confess because I had a feeling he liked me, somehow…
“(Does he really not have awareness about that?)”
Akatsuki-san said, looking completely baffled.
“(They have such common interests, and she does look prettier recently, her body’s super erotic too, you know? If I were Irido-kun, my heart would have fluttered.)”
“(Don’t call it erotic…but, well…)”
Her situation’s similar to mine back then.
A similar encounter.
In that case, how was it possible that I was the only one who managed to date him, while he was merely friends with Higashira-san?
…He’s definitely just hiding his feelings.
He merely managed to train his poker face after dating me; it’s only a matter of time until the facade cracks.
—Dozens of minutes later, it happened.
He was probably done with his book, for he closed it, got up, and went to the nearby rack to look for a new book.
“(Th-that! Higashira-san’s skirt…!)
Once Akatsuki-san mentioned so, I finally realized.
Higashira-san, who was prone by the windowside like a shelf with her bare feet and knees tucked, had opened her legs slightly.
They were exposed.
Her light green panties were exposed.
I hastily tried to contact her through LINE of this crisis, but it was too late.
Mizuto, who picked a new bunko from the shelf, turned back.
And of course, it would mean that he was looking at Higashira-san directly.
And of course, the defenseless fabric would show up in his eyes.
—I personally saw Mizuto’s eyes slide there.
No matter how he tried to act innocent, there’s no way this plain girls-loving guy would let off a top prey like Higashira-san—
“Oy Higashira. Your panties are showing.”
Mizuto pointed between her legs without changing expressions.
We exchanged looks.
In our haste, we couldn’t understand what happened.
“…Eh?” It seemed Higashira-san was the same, for she looked up, sounding dumbfounded, and looked down at where he was pointing—
Her face immediately turned red, as though burning, and she hasting sat like a girl, pushing her skirt down.
She looked down at her hands that were grabbing onto the hem firmly, and muttered with a trembling voice,
“? I’m reminding you because I saw it.”
Mizuto tilted his head in confusion.
Does he not have a human heart?
“Th-thank you, very much…?”
Higashira-san’s face was completely red to the ears, and after ekeing these words, “I’ll be at the toilet.” she put on her socks.
Akatsuki-san and I nodded towards each other, and went to the toilet closest to the library.
We met up with Higashira-san there, and the first question she posed us was,
“…Do you think I was treated like a girl?”
“”Not at all.””
We were certain.
Mizuto Irido merely viewed Isana Higashira as a friend with a common interest.
There was no way this could be misconstrued.
…Why exactly was there?
“Aha, ahahahahaha…I guessed so…a gloomy girl like me wouldn’t be of interest to him—ahahahahaha. Ahahahahahahaha…”
“Pull yourself together. We might not have a chance now, but it’s too early to give up!”
“Akatsuki-san, you’re rubbing it in! You’re adding insult to injury!”
We hurriedly grabbed Higashira-san’s shoulders once we saw her stumble.
Hahahahahahaha. So she laughed so ominously, I felt I would be cursed if I listened.
She was so rattled…and it was then that I realized that she really liked Mizuto.
Once I saw that she could stand upright, I cautiously asked her.
“Look, as proven, he really can’t empathize with others…what do you like about him anyway?”
“Ah, we haven’t asked about it, now that you mention it! I want to hear too!”
“Eh…e-even if you do ask though…”
Higashira-san’s eyes wavered around suspiciously, and then she said,
“…The voice, I guess?”
“He’s usually a cold person, but sometimes, he’ll be kind enough to care for my sake. When I hear his voice become a little kinder, I, well, how do I put it, I suddenly feel dizzy, and I really have the urge to yell out loud…ehehe…❤”
The sight of Higashira-san blushing bashfully with a happy look left Akatsuki-san and I looking up in unison.
“I-It’s so bright…!”
“A first love…! This light is burning me to crisps Yume-chan…!!!”
That naivete was a really potent poison to me, who had once experienced the dark side of love! What’s worse was that I could empathize with her! I get her! He would occasionally make some gentle voices!
“Higashira-san, we need to pair you up with Irido-kun, and get you to understand that getting a boyfriend isn’t necessarily a good thing. Get on it so that we can grumble together!”
“Eh, okay. I’ll do my best!”
“Don’t work hard in this way! Live on as someone who’ll always have a fantasy about love!”
Don’t fall to the dark side here!
“Well, whatever, there’s nowhere to go if we don’t get Irido-kun to see you as a girl first. Oh dear dear, I never thought there would be a guy who would openly point out that a girl’s flashing her panties…”
“Sorry about my little brother…”
“It does seem like Irido-kun’s unexpectedly capable of taking care of girls. Is it because he has experience with you, Yume-chan?”
My heart jolted. No, she’s just talking about us living together, not about our prior relationship.
So I nodded vaguely.
“In that case, the only way forth is through skinship.”
Akatsuki-san gave a heinous smirk.
Higashira-san took a few steps back.
“Here we go again~, again acting like a good kid. I’m saying that you can attack with those things you’re proud of!!”
Akatsuki-san suddenly reached her hands forward, and fondled Higashira-san’s breasts like an eagle’s claws. Woah, the fingers are sinking in…
“So I say, put these large fats onto him purposely! It doesn’t matter whether he’s conscious of that then!”
“Hiii!? Y-your hands are being weird…nn!”
“Akatsuki-san stop! Any more and it’s R18!”
I instinctively grabbed Akatsuki-san by both hands, and pulled them apart.
“Y-Yume-chan…breasts…really are soft and bouncy after all. They feel like they can form any shapes…huh…? Then, what’s on my chest…?”
“Don’t think about it if you want to live long.”
Higashira-san wheezed as she protected her chest with her arms, and turned towards the sink.
“L-lean on him purposely…i-isn’t that like a bitch…?”
“Girls who attack guys up front are bitches.”
“You’re creating enemies in mass numbers!”
I hastily looked around. Did anyone else hear these words!?
“Well, I say to lean onto him, but you just need to brush by.”
Akatsuki-san ignored my worries and reached her fingers out, stopping right before Higashira-san’s breasts, stopping there.
“Eh? Did you just touch? Is it just me? That much is best! If I touch him that much, I’ll be hated!”
“Akatsuki-san…erm, where did you learn the trick?”
“I taught myself that! I’ll get excited if others do that to me! I’m a girl because I have nothing to do with soft breasts after all!”
Better stop pressing her berserk button then.
Akatsuki-san raised her clenched fists.
“Anyway, quality is more important than quantity! Repeat it over and over again, and that memory will slowly build up in Irido-kun’s heart! No guy will ever forget the feeling of breasts! Even though some can’t be felt through their bras!!”
“Stop spamming your own berserk button already!”
And I tried to be conscious of your feelings! Now everything I do is for naught!
Akatsuki-san suddenly took out her phone, looked at the screen, and showed a grimace.
“Oh dear dear. He noticed huh?”
“We got an overly excited peeping tom. Got to attract his attention—”
Higashira-san and I tilted our heads in confusion, and Akatsuki-san clapped her hands together in apology.
“That’s it for today! We’ll talk more about our strategy on LINE!”
We watched Akatsuki-san dash out of the toilet.
…An overly excited peeping tom?
After school, in the library. Higashira-san was next to Miuto Irido, looking like a shy cricket.
It was a different day, Akatsuki-san and I once again were peeping on the duo through the phone camera.
The only objective of today’s operation was to witness the first day of this boobie skinship strategy Akatsuki-san suggested days ago—I swear to god it wasn’t me who named this.
And while we watched on in trepidation, Higashira-san looked around suspiciously, before she seemed to make up her mind and went next to Mizuto.
“M-Mizuto-kun, please look at this.”
She showed him the book in her hand. Lemme see, so he muttered and looked over without any suspicion. This was the trap Akatsuki-san taught.
She went towards the leaning Mizuto, and clumsily rubbed her chest onto him.
“(…Sh-she actually did it…!)”
My eyes widened. It’s amazing. It’s really amazing. I personally could never do such a thing. Just flaunting my body with a towel wrapped around me was my limit, even though that too was acting like a bitch.
Nihihi, Akatsuki-san too laughed.
“(Do your best, Higashira-san. To be honest, I thought she would have said something like ‘I don’t want to change our current relationship’ and backtrack on it.)”
“(Aren’t you the one who encouraged her to do this, Akatsuki-san…?)”
“(I actually wanted to give her a nudge once she decided to backtrack, but I guess I worried too much)”
It’s true that given how good their relationship was, it’s not weird to worry that their relationship would change. I was the one who egged her on, but Higashira-san still didn’t seem confident. Nevertheless, she wasn’t so timid as to worry that they wouldn’t remain friends even if he rejected her.
She might be an unexpectedly courageous person, compared to me who was so terrified of handing over a love letter.
Mizuto called out with a deep, calm voice, and Higashira-san’s shoulders shivered.
“Your chest is touching me.”
I wasn’t too shocked as something similar did happen before, but this guy’s heart isn’t made of flesh, right? How’s he able to point that out without flinching? Do you have the word ‘innocent’ in your dictionary?
“(I hope she does what we told her~…)”
Akatsuki-san prayed. We already knew this would happen, and already told Higashira-san what she should do thereafter.
And the correct answer after that was—
That’s it! The blushing face!
When I suggested that, Akatsuki-san commented, “I don’t think I can be friends with such females, but maybe Higashira-san can.” Wait, last I remember, you two are friends already, right?
We greatly anticipated Higashira-san’s blushing performance, and watched the developments that followed.
Higashira-san pulled away, lowered her head, and looked up at Mizuto.
A perfect response! Now all she has to do is to act embarrassed and apologize—
“…I did it on purpose.”
Mizuto reacted exactly the same as we did. What are you saying, Higashira-san?
“I’m teaching you the wonders of huge breasts, since you’re unexpectedly a flat-chest lover! Come on, just enjoy this motherliness!”
Higashira-san got onto Mizuto’s back, and those those large boobs were pressing onto his shoulders, and they were clearly fooling around—
Akatsuki-san looked stunned. It’s to be expected, since—
Behind him, at a position where he could not see.
The blushing Higashira-san had tears welling in her eyes.
“”(You should have shown him that.)””
“You really brushed it off in the name of friendship, huh?”
Higashira-san was summoned to the closest toilet to the library again, and lowered her head before us dejectedly.
“I can’t do it…I can’t become that kind of cute girl so suddenly…”
“How can you have a boyfriend if you can’t become a cute girl—!!”
“O-okay okay, I get what Higashira-san’s feeling…well, looking at it,s he probably finds it easier when he doesn’t think of her as a girl.”
“Y-yes! That’s right! I feel a lot at ease!”
Higashira-san kept nodding away.
I was once like that; I acted like I wasn’t interested in dressup and stuff, since I didn’t want others to view me as a girl. Given how Higashira-san would always take the opportunity to joke about her boobs, I could see how she chose to live life every day.
“Well, it’s not like I don’t understand, but if you’re going to keep running away like this, you’re never going to conquer that Irido-kun, you know? You should at least hold back on that joking attitude…”
“…But Mizuto-kun and I are just friends.”
Higashira-san said with a soft voice, but she was clearly resisting.
“I like him, yes, but we’re friends. Is it impossible for us to not like each other as friends? Do I have to stop liking him as a friend just because I see him as a love interest…?”
She looked down at Akatsuki-san in the eyes, saying so with vigor. Clearly she was insisting that she was not going to back off.
She wanted to be his lover, but she didn’t want to end her friendship with him. Maybe these words showed how stubborn she was being, but she’s clearly showing how honest she was.
Maybe there was an impassable divide in our understanding, between us, and Higashira-san.
Higashira-san only thought of becoming his girlfriend because she just wanted to improve her relationship with Mizuto, and not exactly look for something completely different from their current relationship.
For her, lovers were just merely an extension of being friends.
And that’s why she said she wanted to be Mizuto’s lover without sacrificing the fact that they’re friends.
Akatsuki-san and I were different though.
We felt that being lovers meant being something more special. We could make as many friends as we could, but being lovers meant being something more special and valuable…
“…I see. That’s how it is…yep, I get it.”
Akatsuki-san looked like she understood something as she kept nodding away, and smiled to ease the current situation.
“Sorry Higashira-san. I won’t tell you to change your attitude…I guess it’s best for you to go with the flow.”
“R-really…? Thank goodness…”
Higashira-san let out a long sigh of relief. She probably wasn’t used to exerting her will.
And Akatsuki-san continued to smile.
“But your lack of confidence is a big problem too.”
“You said that you’d find it easier if he doesn’t view you as a girl, right? I think it means you’re not confident as a girl. It’s not the entire reason why you think this way, but I think it’s a really big factor.”
“Then imagine, if you’re a super duper beauty prettier than a manga heroine, do you think Irido-kun won’t have thoughts about you? Aren’t you going to imagine Irido-kun blushing because of you?”
“I think that if you can gain that little bit of confidence, Irido-kun will view you very differently. That’s why—”
Akatsuki-san said with a vague smile,
“I’m going to change you up slightly, Higashira-san.”
Akatsuki-san caught Higashira-san and dragged her off to her apartment.
We left the elevator, wait here, Akatsuki-san said, and had Higashira-san and me wait. She leaned her ear onto the next door—the Kawanamis.
“…Alright, doesn’t seem to be home. Chance. Get in here.”
“You really don’t want to bump into Kawanami-kun…?”
What exactly happened between those two…? Surely I would be curious, but the current priority was Higashira-san.
We entered Akatsuki-san’s house. It’s my second visit, the first being the stayover, but her parents weren’t home either.
Akatsuki-san dragged Higashira-san by the arm into her room, and sat her down before the dresser.
“E-eh…erm, what are you doing next?”
“It’s your changing scene next, Higashira-san♪”
“Is this Super Hero Time!? Co-cosplay is a little too…”
“Girls are creatures who cosplay every day before leaving home. People like you are the only ones who’ll show up looking paling. You’re so behind the fads now!”
Higashira-san seemed rather stunned to be described so. It seemed to be a really powerful insult against otakus.
Akatsuki-san combed the hair of the stunned Higashira-san, rather skillfully in fact.
“Ah…! A-are you putting makeup on me!? Am I going to have makeup now?”
“You get it? The one way to gain confidence as a girl is to dress up and be all pretty! Dressing up is a mechanism to spend lots of time and effort to gain confidence!”
“N-no no no! I-I’m not suited to make up! Not at all!”
“It’s just makeup. It’s not about whether it suits you or not. It’s fine~ You already have a nice build, Higashira-san. A little brush up and you’ll look like a Taiwanese idol.”
“Isn’t that a completely different person!?”
“That’s why it’s a transformation scene.”
“Even the Super Hero Time characters don’t change their faces! Ukkyaaa!!!”
Akatsuki-san continued to do things onto the howling Higashira-san. Pak pak tak tak. I guess she already planned it, since she didn’t hesitate in her actions. It’s amazing…
“How do you usually dress up Yume-chan? You’re not the type to put on thick makeup, right?”
Akatsuki-san asked me, the bystander, while she continued to work.
“I can’t really do complicated stuff…just trimming my eyebrows, taking care of my skin. I spend more time caring for my hair.”
“Ah~ Such nice long hair. Must be troublesome taking care of it~ Why did you grow it that long?”
I had to think through my answer. Honestly, it all went back to my middle school days.
“…I wanted to change my image. Well, a brand new me, I guess…”
“Hmm? Did it work? Have you created a new self?”
I felt that I had changed myself, yet felt that I did not fully accomplish so.
I could not imagine myself chatting normally with Akatsuki-san like this back in middle school, but once I got involved with him…
“So that means the effect is enough for you to hesitate? Isn’t this great, Higashira-san. We have an example here.”
“…B-but applying powder and water…”
“How rude. You’re calling my makeup powder and water…but can you say this after seeing this new self?”
Higashira-san had been looking down, and Akatsuki-san lifted it up.
Higashira-san saw herself in the mirror before her.
Shown on it was her face.
Her slightly long bangs were held up by hairclips, and her eyes were shown, blinking away. Her eyes were large, her nose was cute and adorable, and her puffy cheeks were like a baby. She looked feminine, and there was a coquettish vibe to her.
“…W-we have a pretty girl here, you know…?”
Higashira-san’s trembling finger pointed at the mirror as she turned back to look towards us.
She only saw the reflection on the mirror, but we’re looking at the actual person. The actual person was exactly the same as shown on the mirror.
“Allow me to introduce~! This pretty girl is Isana Higashira-san~! Please be friends with her, okay~?”
“N-no no no no no no no no! Isn’t that a completely different person!? It’s like plastic surgery! Makeup’s scary…”
I felt somewhat nostalgic as I saw how Higashira-san yap away.
“I did see the makeup process though. Akatsuki-san only adjusted your eyebrows and eyelashes. A full makeup won’t end so quickly if we’re looking to change a person completely.”
“Yep yep. And a little foundation too. But really, the way you are now, there’s not much change actually.”
Higashira-san stared at herself in the mirror in disbelief…well, her reaction’s unsurprising. She probably never had a proper look at herself in the mirror after all.
“I said that you have a nice build, Higashira-san, right? Just a little touch up on the eyebrows and eyebrows and eyelashes, sort out the bangs, show a little more of the face, and voila! …So, Higashira-san, all I did was…”
Akatsuki-san put her hand on Higashira-san’s shoulder, probably to cheer the latter.
“…To pull out that cuteness you already have. You’re already adorable after all?”
Higashira-san’s voice got stuck in her throat, and she groaned.
Well, she probably never thought that it was possible. She never felt that she was an adorable girl.
After all…I too was the same back in middle school.
“Well, all you need is some self awareness, and the feeling will just come up. You just need to learn this much. Come on, I’ll teach you. I got lots of little tools here! Anyway, go meet up with Irido-kun like this tomorrow.”
“Ehhh!? W-we’re showing it to Mizuto-kun!? I-I can’t do it I can’t do it!”
Higashira-san crouched down and covered her face with her hands. Akatsuki-san continued to smile, and put her mouth next to the ear—
“—But you really want to show him, right?”
Sounded like words from the devil.
And it was as effective as advertised.
Higashira-san lifted her head slightly, and looked into the mirror through the gaps between her fingers. She looked at it, stared at herself, saw that she was cuter than usual, groaned, and pursed her lips—
And then, she put her hands down onto her knees.
Akatsuki-san saw this, and hugged Higashira-san, beaming away brightly.
“Yo pretty girl! Light novel heroines aren’t as pretty as you!”
“No, light novel heroines are cuter, I think.”
“An immediate answer huh…?”
As Akatsuki-san had predicted, since that day, there was a slight change in Higashira-san’s self-awareness.
At first, she started dolling herself up before meeting Mizuto. Her feminine power was at level 1, and she started levelling up day by day, 2, 3, 4…on a side note, a normal girl’s feminine power is about 30 or so.
Of course, even though Higashira-san’s eyes were a little clearer, we’re talking about that dumb blockhead—
“What’s with those eyes? Stayed up overnight?”
—And thus the outcome. You gotta be kidding me. Seriously, this guy? How long do you think she spent on trimming her eyebrows?
“Hey, how about you give up on making him your boyfriend?”
“D-don’t say that…he’s just worried about me…”
Ahh, such a strong girl…why’s it that he never noticed her feelings? Blush a little already. Look guilty already. Stop acting cool.
I tried to put myself in Higashira-san’s shoes, and my rage towards my blockhead of a little stepbrother just ballooned.
“…Oy, what’s with the hostile look?”
“Nothing. I just think you’ll suffer one day. Like, you’ll get killed by a woman.”
Mizuto retreated from me with a pale face.
What? He’s overthinking it. So I chopped the carrots for lunch using the cleaver.
And then, a week passed.
We’re entering the middle of June, when the season of plum rain was about to begin, and our efforts along with Higashira-san finally started to bear fruit.
“Good morning Mizuto-kun.”
Higashira-san finally learned to doll up before arriving at the library, and was already waiting for Mizuto. Come by earlier and don’t wait until after school, so Akatsuki-san advised, but she wouldn’t do so, I don’t wanna, I’m too sleepy~, so she grumbled. It seemed that she didn’t think there was any benefit to dolling up for anyone other than Mizuto’s sake.
And as usual, she had her socks removed and stuffed into her shoes as she sat next to Mizuto. The skinship operation was still underway, and their shoulders should be touching—
Mizuto nudged his butt aside, and pulled away.
Higashira-san looked at his sidelong face incredulously, and moved closer to him.
Mizuto moved away.
Higashira-san closed in.
Zuu, zuu, zuu.
They continued with their cat and mouse game, and kept inching towards the air conditioning by the windowside. Finally, Mizuto was cornered.
“Why are you moving away, Mizuto-kun?”
“I’m the type who wants my personal space. If you dare enter it, you’re going to seashell.”
“Hoho~, so how about you show me what that hell is—raaaaa!?”
We, watching by the side, were taken aback. Mizuto suddenly grabbed Higashira-san’s hair, and ruffled it like he was washing a puppy.
The hairstyle she spent so much effort in dolling up immediately became a puffy bedhair.
“Wh-what are you doing!?”
“I’m showing you hell. Isn’t this fine? Now you get to practice that hairstyle.”
Higashira-san, and us onlookers, widened our eyes in shock.
Wait—was he paying attention!? Did he notice Higashira-san’s makeup!?
And he’s acting abnormally…he’s clearly hiding his embarrassment!
So Mizuto nonchalantly began to read again, and Higashira-san flusteredly flailed about. She looked aside meaninglessly…and finally pinched her bangs.
“Y-you’re bullying me. This is bullying…”
“I-in that case.”
She frisked out a comb from her bag.
“You’ll…join in with my bullying, right, Mizuto-kun?”
She said, and handed the comb over to him.
Her words were completely beyond the understanding of Akatsuki-san and me.
But Mizuto looked away from the book, and towards the comb handed to him.
He gave a bemused smile, received the comb, and had her turn around.
He combed the hair he personally messed up, rather delicately in fact. Higashira-san acted like a puppy with her fur combed as she leaned onto him in comfort.
Seeing this, Akatsuki-san said,
“(She should be able to confess now, right?)”
I couldn’t find a reason to refuse.
“I can’t do it.”
It was the next day.
Higashira-san shook her head hard at the family restaurant after school.
“It’s not time yet. I can’t do it. It’s too soon…!”
“No no no, it’s fine, it’s fine.”
“It’s definitely not fine! I definitely can’t do it! I can’t do it I can’t do it I, can’t, do, it!”
Higashira-san continued to cause a ruckus while she laid on the table. She was acting like a kid, but I could understand her feelings.
“…Akatsuki-san, maybe we should delay a little more as she said? She needs to prepare herself mentally after all…”
“R-right! I’m not mentally prepared yet!”
“Then get ready.”
“Ehh!?””I say, if you don’t get mentally ready, you’re never going to be mentally ready! Don’t hope too much for the future! The people tomorrow are all idiots, damn it!”
Akatsuki-san took a large swig of the melon soda.
“The longer you wait to confess, the harder it is for you to do it. If you keep dragging it on, it’ll become a habit. A guy who thinks of you as a long time friend will be troubled to be suddenly confessed to, right? Tell him as soon as possible, and it’ll be more likely to succeed.”
Except when confessing on first sight though, so she quipped.
I had a feeling these words bore the most weight thus far in my life.
Did she too experience the same thing? Did she think of changing a long term relationship…
“But you still can make it, Higashira-san. You only know each other for like, two, three weeks? You have the chance to correct it. And…mental preparation isn’t something that can be done by spending time. It’s better for you to think that if you don’t confess now, you’re never going to do it.”
…What would have happened if I didn’t manage to confess to him during the first month, the summer vacation during my second year in middle school? Once I thought of this, I started to empathize with what Akatsuki-san said…ahh, if that happened, I probably would never be able to muster so much courage to confess.
The first month.
If I didn’t confess in the heat of the moment, while I was still innocent, I probably would never have thought of confessing.
After all, like bubbles, love’s something that’ll vanish after cooling off.
“Hm..mmm…yeah, it’s not like a romcom, and I don’t think I have the courage to confess after dragging things out…”
“Right—? Love in real life isn’t going to continue like manga—”
“…Then, if it’s as you say, it doesn’t mean that we’ll break up even after I confess, right?”
“I, didn’t, say, so.”
“Didn’t you say that!…S-sensei! There’s no such thing, right!? There are romances that continue on forever, right?”
“…T-there are, yes…”
“Your eyes are really moving!!”
Don’t ask someone who didn’t manage to hang on for two years!
“Well, ignoring whether the relationship will last for months.”
“Month!? You just said months!? Not years!?”
“I think it’s very likely to happen. Irido-kun doesn’t have a reason to reject after all. You’re cute, you two get along well, and he’s single.”
Higashira-san fiddled with her hangs, and her shoulders shriveled.
“…I’m so pessimistic…troublesome…and I have nothing other than boobs…”
“Your confidence there sure is unshakeable damn it.”
Akatsuki-san smiled while emitting rage.
“…What do you think, Yume-chan? Do you think Higashira-san has a chance?”
I looked towards the table, and pondered for a little while.
About that guy.
The time I spent with him.
The faces he made when I was with him.
His words and deeds.
“…He‘s not going to look at a girl’s status or trait.”
And then, I remembered Higashira-san being together with Mizuto.
“He looked rather happy when he’s with you, Higashira-san…so, if you say that you want to deepen your relationship, I don’t think he’ll refuse.”
I wouldn’t be so sure if Higashira-san’s the same person as the me back then.
But she’s different from me.
They got along so well, both interest-wise, and tempo. They didn’t need to hide anything, and didn’t need to hold back.
It was different from when we dated, that though we appeared to get along well, we were holding back for each other’s sake.
She lacked confidence, but he would definitely get along with her well. After all, he did manage to do so before.
For all I could think of.
The person most suited to be Mizuto Irido’s lover was none other than Isana Higashira.
They got along so well, that even though I’m the ex, I felt like a mistake.
Higashira-san whispered with uneasiness and hope.
“C-can I really become, Mizuto-kun’s, girlfriend…?”
She looked so feeble that she might collapse at any given moment, but the sight of her struggling to lean forward was reminiscent of me.
Even then, it’s not a direct copy of myself.
She’s not the foolish Yume Ayai who said unnecessary stuff and ruined everything.
Overlapping with her silhouette.
Was myself, who had yet to fail…and could possibly maintain the happiness until the very end.
“You can do it.”
In that case, how could I not give her a nudge?
After all, she might be able to see the scene I couldn’t see.
I felt my heart ache, but it was meaningless before this hope.
“—The ex-girlfriend (me) can be sure of it.”
And then, we started discussing over how the confession would go.
“A love letter after all?”
“Eh~? Isn’t that too old-fashioned? Do I write a passage while agitated in the middle of the night, and have him read it out before you like it’s a poem? I don’t want to live if I have to do that much—”
It was in the spur of the moment…I was just young and stupid…I didn’t plan to write a passage that embarrassing…
That was an interlude in our discussion, and finally, we decided that it would be a simple manner of getting him to the back of the school building, and confessing there.
Following that was instructor Akatsuki Minami’s confession drill.
“Repeat after me. ‘I like you, please go out with me!’.”
“I-I like yu! P-pulease go out…auuu….!”
“Don’t bite your tongue! Don’t be embarrassed! Make sure you’re loud and clear! And stammer a little!”
“That’s impossible for me!”
And after spending such a day—
“Izanami: Sent a message. 5pm, behind the school.” – 22:48
“Izanami: I feel like vomiting” – 22:48
“Akatsuki☆: Good work~! 5pm? You chose a time nobody will be around. I guess Irido-kun knows too.” – 22:49
“Yume: Better puke while you can if you don’t want to confess while your mouth’s all smelly.” – 22:49
“Akatsuki☆: You thought of puking before Yume-chan lol?” – 22:50
“Yume: No comment.” – 22:50
I confessed through a love letter, so when he read the love letter before me, my gut winced and cramped. I endured it though, since I had a feeling that if I ran off to the toilet, that little hope I had would be extinguished.
“Akatsuki☆: 5pm? There’s still some time after school then. I’ll sort out your hair and eyebrows. Let’s meet up after school then.” – 22:51
“Izanami: Thank you very much.” – 22:51
Maybe she’s anxious or something, but Higashira-san’s LINE messages were terse, and there’s no kanji used.
For some reason, I too started to feel nervous.
“Akatsuki☆: What do we do then? Shall we have Yume-chan have a look? Maybe Irido-kun’s really shaken.” – 22:52
“Izanami: I think that no matter the outcome, I’ll feel really anxious.” – 22:53
“Yume: Better get an early sleep then.” – 22:53
“Izanami: I don’t think I can sleep at all.” – 22:54
“Akatsuki☆: Watch some stupid anime and empty your mind then. I’ll recommend a few.” – 22:54
Akatsuki-san posted a few anime, thank you very much, and Higashira-san quickly responded, before she went all quiet.
It’d be great if she didn’t go confess with black rings around her eyes…
I was worried for Higashira-san, like it was my own matter, but I got a notification on my phone.
I picked up the call, and put it to my ear.
“Well, we’re getting a little nervous too.”
Akatsuki-san said half-joking, I get that, and I answered with a giggle. Then,
“…I couldn’t really help much after all. You’re the one giving all the suggestions, Akatsuki-san…”
“Of course not. If it were just me, Higashira-san probably would have given up a long time ago.”
Akatsuki-san sounded really confident, maybe because there’s a basis to it.
“So, Yume-chan, how do you feel about your little stepbrother getting a girlfriend?”
“…Do you think it’ll work?”
“It will, if we think about it naturally.”
“I think a confession is very likely to work out as long as he doesn’t have a bad impression on her. After all, don’t you think her liking him is enough reason for him to do likewise?”
Well…I guess so. It’s natural to think that he’d like someone who likes him.
“But there’s a saying that ‘there’s nothing more disgusting than being liked by someone you have no interest in’. To be honest, I’m more inclined towards this.”
“But on the other hand, Higashira-san should be fine since she’s friends with Irido-kun, right? It’s not like they don’t get along, and if he rejects her, the relationship might turn sour. Most importantly, he can get a girlfriend if he just nods. He doesn’t have to love her romantically, but it’s possible that he may like her in the future. Anyway, the natural progression should probably be to accept and go with the flow~ I think.”
“But…Irido-kun doesn’t seem like a natural person.”
Akatsuki-san’s voice became a little gloomy.
“This is where I’m hesitating. What I said is more suited to those people who value the existence of a girlfriend, or the concept. Irido-kun probably doesn’t isn’t one of them.”
“…Is that so?”
“Yeah, well, I think he’s the kind who can live on even without a girlfriend. He probably doesn’t put any value into the term girlfriend…if someone like him does want to have a girlfriend though—”
Akatsuki-san continued on with her words.
And I was so shaken, I forgot to breathe, and the words echoed in my heart.
“Well, that’s just me thinking too much!”
Akatsuki-san tried to laugh it off, but the words continued to echo in my mind, and never faded away.
If that’s the case.
If that’s the case, I—
“Good night Yume-chan. Let’s see the result of the hard work tomorrow.”
“Eh, ah, yeah…somehow it feels like peeping has become a habit of ours, right?”
“That’s our duty as consultants though~”
At this moment, I felt that I was a little gloomy.
I didn’t get the answer, hung up, and snuggled under my blanket.
I just couldn’t sleep.
I rolled about on the bed, but I didn’t feel sleepy, and so I had to get up for the time being.
Did I too get nervous because of Higashira-san?
Anyway, let’s drink some water to calm down first…
I exited my room, went downstairs, entered the living room with its lights still extinguished, and fumbled for the switch. Having lived in this house for two months, I already gotten used to it.
I found the switch, and the lights went on.
And then, I noticed someone sitting on the sofa.
I exclaimed, and the person on the sofa slowly turned around.
He looked at me listlessly, and didn’t blink at all.
“Wh-what are you doing…you didn’t switch on the lights…”
“…Just thinking about something.”
Mizuto said, and looked up at the ceiling.
Thinking about something.
…He’s definitely thinking about Higashira-san.
Even though he’s a blockhead, he knew that he’d receive her confession the next day. The proof’s that he chose to meet up with her at a time nobody else was around. It’s a little delicacy shown by him, for he noticed her aim.
Was he troubled?
Troubled…whether he should accept her confession?
Higashira-san merely thought of being lovers as a progression from friendship, and not erasing what they had—in fact, she didn’t change her mindset about Mizuto even when she decided to confess to him.
The time since she realized her feelings for him might be considered the trial period.
It was a trial period to prove that even when they became lovers, their relationship would not end.
We suggested to her not to change the way she treated Mizuto, and that hit the spot. After all, we managed to avoid the possibility of giving him the excuse that ‘we can’t be friends then’.
Thus, he had nowhere to run.
Everything would depend on his will.
That should be the care. There’s no reason for him to think otherwise—
Mizuto looked up at the ceiling, speaking to me.
His voice faltered like a lost child.
“What will you think…if I have a new girlfriend?”
My heart was gripped.
The swelling pain throbbed away.
And at the same time…I was increasingly incensed.
“Do my thoughts matter here?”
We’re talking about Higashira-san’s hard work, and the answer to her.
It’s too selfish of you to have me decide on everything—
“You should decide based on your own thoughts.”
I didn’t have the right to decide.
He had the right to decide.
Only he had the right to give the answer to Higashira-san.
No matter what the answer was.
“…You’re saying exactly the same thing. You and Higashira.”
“I’m saying you’re right.”
He stood up, and gave a self-reproaching smile.
He went towards me at the door, and patted me on my shoulder as he passed me by.
My ex-boyfriend muttered by my ear, before he went up the stairs.
I stood there for several minutes, and then poured water into the cup.
The icy feeling flowed in through my throat.
But it couldn’t fill my heart.
My heart remained empty, as though a large hole was punctured through.
—Let’s break up.
Suddenly, I recalled the scene of me breaking up with him.
I remembered the relieving feeling, as though a huge burden was lifted from me.
Ahh, so that’s how it is.
If I felt so back then—
—Maybe I didn’t experience a heartbreak from a breakup after all.
Akatsuki-san kept her comb, and turned Higashira-san’s face towards the toilet mirror.
“What do you think, dear customer? I think it’s rather complete~?”
“…I-isn’t this fraud?”
“It’s completely legal! I didn’t do anything excessive too! I’ve said it many times, but you’re actually rather cute, Higashira-san.”
“Again with that~?’
“But your opinion of yourself hasn’t changed much though…”
Higashira-san learned how to comb and apply lipstick, but the skills of a pro (?) really was something else.
Either way, she’s already the type to stand out with a little makeup. She’s tall, has a nice body, and had a romantic, innocent feeling on her face…it’s like she’s a gravure idol.
“I never thought you would be the same as him, looking so different with a little touchup…”
“Heh~ Irido-kun’s the type to look handsome with a little touch up? Do you have a photo, Yume-chan?”
“A nicely cleaned up Mizuto-kun…I wanna see…I really wanna see..”
“…No no no~…too bad I don’t have a photo~”
I obviously couldn’t share with them the superstar-like photos buried in my phone.
Following that’s the confession. It’d be bad if any unnecessary mistake was to happen here.
We left the female toilet, and there’s nobody in school.
The sounds of the wind instrument club and sports clubs practices were the only things heard.
It’s a prep school, so there weren’t a lot of students who devoted a lot of focus into their club activities. There’s a lot of people enrolled in the going home club, including us, so there would hardly be anyone in school an hour after classes.
This would be the perfect time for a confession.
“Higashira-san, remember to follow what you practiced. We’ll be watching in secret!”
“I-I’ll do my best…”
I really had enough of seeing her act stiffly with a stoic face, so I gently put my hand on her shoulder, trying my best to sound calm,
“You can do it.”
I already did it…why can’t you?
Higashira-san shivered like a phone, slowly calmed down, and took a deep breath.
“…I’m off then.”
Her voice and her face showed that she was still acting tough—but with firm steps, she continued to walk towards the confession location, the back of the school building.
We silently watched her leave.
Akatsuki-san sounded rather amazed.
“I guess it’s true when they say love can change.”
“Why are you sounding like it has nothing to do with you?”
“…Ahh—well, I’m the type to think about the worst.”
Akatsuki-san said with an awkward, and tried to brush it off by walking away hastily.
“Let’s hurry then, Yume-chan. We need to bear responsibility and see this until the very end!”
“…Yeah. We have to.”
I had to witness the other possible ending.
Akatsuki-san and I went to a classroom close to the back of the school, where the confessions would be held, and we hid there.
We spotted Higashira-san alone there, looking restless, fiddling with her hair for no apparent reason, kicking at pebblings for no apparent reason, and he still didn’t show up.
Akatsuki-san’s next to me, seated on the floor by the window, anxiously typing at her phone, it seems.
“What are you doing?”
“Shooing people out.”
The classroom’s empty, and so’s the corridor. I couldn’t find anyone in the neighboring classroom either.
The school didn’t really put a heavy emphasis on club activities, but there’s way too few people around. Did Akatsuki-san do something? If then, how did she do it…?
I experienced another inscrutable side to the best friend I had since entering high school, and heard new footsteps outside.
I whispered. Akatsuki-san stopped fiddling with the phone, and peered out of the window.
Mizuto so happened to stop before Higashira-san.
“…I’m here, Higashira.”
His voice was a little rigid.
It was so serious and earnest, so determined.
Yet that voice had to be relayed to Higashira-san. He showed her that her hard work wasn’t for nothing.
“E-erm…th-thank you, for coming…”
Long gone was the result of her training, and she was stammering away, so Mizuto gently answered.
“E-erm…well, I-I have some things, I want, to say, to, you, Mizuto-kun…”
“Well actually, thank you, for taking care of me, all this while…it’s just a short two weeks though, but…auugghh, no no no, not this. Erm, erm erm, erm—…”
Higashira-san was completely panicking.
She grabbed onto the hair she finally managed to doll up, and groaned away.
“Ugh…” Akatsuki-san groaned, and covered her face, unwilling to take this anymore.
But I didn’t look away.
I knew that this amount of panic didn’t mean that she would fail.
“Just say what you want, in the order you want, one by one.”
Mizuto said slowly, as though pacing himself with Higashira-san.
“I’ll sort out your thoughts. After all, the books we read aren’t for nothing.”
The gentle voice Higashira-san liked.
She lifted her eyes slightly, took a deep breath, and was relieved.
The words started coming out from her mouth, somewhat confidently.
“…When you bumped into me at the library, you spoke to me, right, Mizuto-kun?”
“I felt, so happy…it’s true that it’s because I met someone with a similar interest…but more importantly, you’re willing to listen to me, and not find me a hassle…I was always told that I was a weird, troublesome person since middle school, no, earlier than that….”
“You’re the first person…who would listen to what I have to say…and would respond to me properly…I’m really happy…really, really happy.”
And then, Higashira-san’s eyes, which were looking down the entire time, looked towards Mizuto for the first time.
“I want to go closer with you.”
Her voice echoed in the space with a slight quiver.
“I want to be with you, forever.”
She continued on, as though seeking to get closer, as though seeking a place of refuge.
“So—I wish to be your girlfriend, Mizuto-kun.”
She then said the last line.
And it naturally flowed out, as though from the bottom of her heart.
“I like you.”
This one line echoed in this silence again and again.
There was no way those words did not reach him.
It was such an earnest, sinere line I had never heard before.
I forgot to breathe, and peered at Mizuto’s face.
He took her stare head on, and after a moment, he smiled as though easing the tension.
“…We always declared each other to be friends though.”
“E-erm…that’s true though! We can still be friends…!”
“Yeah, I’m really happy when I’m with you, Higashira.”
Whoosh, I felt a gust.
There was no rustling tree though, and the hair didn’t flutter.
It’s just a certain thing akin to a frigid breeze blowing through my heart.
“We get along so well with each other, and we don’t have to worry about each other. It might be the first time I experienced this. I guess if I date you, it’ll be smooth sailing. We may argue or yap at each other, but we’ll probably forget all about it once we talk about a new release.
I closed my eyes.
Even though I didn’t look away when Higashira-san was flustered just moments ago.
For some reason though, I couldn’t bring myself to look further.
He’ll show a gentle smile he never showed before.
He’ll feel a little embarrassed, but he’ll look at her in the eyes.
I widened my eyes.
The words reaching my ears…were completely different from what I knew.
“Sorry, I can’t date you.”
Mizuto repeated once again, as though emphasizing the courtesy.
All of us were stunned.
Higashira-san asked with a quivering voice, and a hollow expression of one who refused to accept the current situation.
“So-so…you never tr-treated me as a female…?”
“No, not at all—say Higashira. I’m a guy too. There’s no way I wouldn’t be having thoughts when someone presses her boobs onto me, even if it’s a female friend. To be honest, I really can’t differentiate our friendship with love…”
“Well, I tried to calm down and think about it.”
A somewhat perturbed bitter smile appeared on his lips.
“I looked at my heart and my feelings again. And then—I realized that there’s no place there.”
He said in a self-deprecating manner.
“I’m a self-centered guy. I can really care for one person at most—there’s just someone who didn’t have the right, but she’s occupying that place.”
“And right now, even though I don’t need to, I don’t want her to cry.”
His words seeped into my heart, and my vision turned blurry.
“So, well, how do I go about apologizing? I’m sorry. I’m not rejecting you because of you, but because of someone else. I’m really sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just me…what I really think.”
The words he said the previous night resonated with this current scene.
“Sorry Higashira…I can’t have you as my girlfriend.”
Echoing in my mind were the words Akatsuki-san said yesterday.
—…if someone like him does want to have a girlfriend though—
—She’s probably not worth anything to him, not someone he’ll be proud of, but someone he wants next to him…I guess.
My legs lost strength.
I turned my back towards the wall, leaned on it, and slid onto the floor.
Why, you idiot?
You could have been happy.
You could have dated successfully with someone different from me.
I’m just an adopted family to you now.
So, why do you?
Why do you want your ex,
—To remain with you?
I could hear a dumbfounded cry from Akatsuki-san.
“He would have made you cry no matter the answer, huh?”
“I-I’m not, crying, uu, uuuuuu…!!”
“You really, like him, huh?”
“I told you…I don’t like him, anymore……..!!”
I stopped liking him.
But even then.
—I remained by his side.
Ahh, what do I do?
I-I’m really happy.
“…You two are so weird.”
Maybe it’s just me, but she seemed to be kicking a fuss.
In any case, I didn’t understand what happened since then.
I couldn’t see until the very end, how Higashira-san responded to Mizuto’s response, and how it all ended.
According to Akatsuki-san, they disappeared while she was consoling me.
…I really didn’t know how to apologize to Akatsuki-san.
I was the one who encouraged her, but back then, I really was happy that Mizuto dumped her—I was so joyful beyond words that he dumped her because of me.
How rotten had my personality become? I probably had nothing to complain about if Higashira-san beat me up.
I really couldn’t bring myself to see her, and I really couldn’t muster the courage to contact her through LINE the next day. I didn’t see any notifications either, and it seemed Higashira-san didn’t contact me.
I recalled how empty I felt on the night before the confession.
…And she’s probably feeling the same. I really wanted to console her, but did I really have the right to do so…?
I attended classes with a heavy heart, and after school.
“Let’s have a consoling party then.”
Akatsuki-san suggested after we left the school building.
“We’re also responsible for me, and…Irido-kun’s the only friend to Higashira-san, but after that happened…see?”
My heart was increasingly anguished once I heard her words.
“…Yeah, ah. Maybe the relationship they had till this point probably won’t last…”
If not for us stoking the flames, Higashira-san wouldn’t have lost a friend in Mizuto.
I really couldn’t bring myself to play dumb.
“We can’t really replace him, but we should clean up the mess since we encouraged her, right? Play with her, console her, tend to her wounds..and then be friends with her again.”
“Hmm…but how do I do that…”
I was the reason why she got dumped. How should I console her…
“No problems! We’ll go scold Irido-kun together!”
“I see…! I wholeheartedly agree!”
“And then we’ll go get scolded by Higashira-san!”
“…I wholeheartedly agree.”
We’ll just let that happen. After all, Higashira-san’s just a victim of us, the ones who irresponsible encouraged her, and also of that damned guy who just didn’t know how to choose his words. Couldn’t he have chosen a gentler way to dump her.
“I’m calling then. You ready?”
Akatsuki-san tapped at the phone.
I took a deep breath, and lifted my head as much as possible. My heart would feel increasingly heavy if I kept it lowered. I had to lift it up even if I had to act tough—
…What’s going on? I felt like my eyes just caught sight of something impossible.
At the end of the third floor of the school floor.
The library window.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, and pointed there.
Akatsuki-san looked over at where I pointed, and her face too froze.
It’s a natural reaction.
Right at the window.
Leaning over there,
Chatting away happily.
—Were Mizuto Irido and Isana Higashira.
We were completely speechless as we saw Higashira-san pick up the phone through the window, before she scampered off from there.
Soon after, I could hear a voice from Akatsuki-san’s phone.
“”What’s going on?””
The consoling session soon became an interrogation.
We’re at the family restaurant we always frequented. Higashira-san drank away, looking completely perturbed.
“How are you somehow getting along well with him after what happened yesterday!?”
“You got dumped yesterday, right!? And it was kinda overboard! What happened!? Did something drastic happen when we didn’t pay attention!?”
“I don’t know if it’s drastic, but I was heartbroken.”
“Ehh…I don’t know why you two are so angry…”
Higashira-san frowned, looking somewhat perturbed.
What’s going on!? Why did we have to explain further!? We’re the ones demanding explanations!
“We’re really blaming ourselves here! We thought we ruined your friendship with Irido-kun because we encouraged you to go one step further!!”
“Ruined our friendship? Why? Isn’t it the opposite?”
The just heartbroken busty girl continued on, as though narrating common sense.
“If I’m dumped, that means I have no hope, so I can be friends with him without having to worry about anything else, right?”
We were completely speechless.
She didn’t say ‘maybe we can’t continue this relationship’ or that stuff…and was somehow very accepting of our ideas to approach Mizuto, but that’s because…
I felt a shiver down my spine.
The airheaded girl seated before us seemed like an alien from some distant isekai.
“…I don’t get them…I don’t get the youngins’ nowadays, Yume-chan…!”
“It’s fine. Calm down! I don’t get them either!”
“Thank you very much for your efforts. My first heartbreak in life was unbearably painful, but as you can see, I’m doing fine now. After all, Mizuto-kun comforted me yesterday.”
“”What’s going on!!?””
“He told me, ‘calm down and think about it. Isn’t it more likely to gain friends in high school that will last a long time instead of a lover in high school’? That makes sense to me.”
“I don’t get what you’re thinking at all!?”
“Please stop ruining our common sense here!!”
So why was I thinking if I had the right…!? She got consoled by the one guy who didn’t have the right.
It didn’t seem like we could continue this conversation. There’s something so different in our thinking. We decided to go to the other involved party.
“Hello. I’ll like to ask you about the girl you dumped yesterday.”
“…Wait, how do you know that Higashira confessed to me?”
“Don’t sweat the details.”
“It does though.”
“…I heard that you consoled the heartbroken Higashira-san herself. Is that ture?”
“…Oh, that? I don’t know where you heard that from, but don’t worry.”
“Worry about what!?”
“I don’t know how it ended up like that though.”
Akatsuki-san I heard from a completely bewildered Mizuto, and we looked towards Higashira-san in unison. And she looked completely poised, staring intently at the ‘spot the difference’ banner attached with the menu.
Seemed like we’re not the weird ones after all.
“…She’s from an isekai.”
“She’s from an isekai.”
“Eh? Why am I transported to an isekai?”
I really understood then that there were people in this world who had entirely different virtues.
—And then, at that moment.
A deep voice could be heard from the other end of the phone call with Mizuto.
Akatsuki-san looked like she was in trouble once she heard this somewhat terrifying voice.
Was that…Kawanami-kun? It’s not Mizuto, so probably him.
“Did…I just hear that you got confessed to…from who?”
“Hm? Anyway, I never told you about Higashira, right—”
“Ahhhh!! No no no!! Irido-kun, don’t mention about Higashira-san to him—”
“Oy, who’s she! You’re aiming for someone other than Irido-san—!”
“Ah seriously! I managed to hide everything from him till this point!!”
Akatsuki-san frantically carried her bag and got up.
“Sorry! I’ll deal with that somewhat problematic pervert! See you later!!”
She put down the drinks money on the table, and ran out of the restaurant.
Dumbstruck, I saw her leave, and muttered.
“…Maybe to everyone, everyone else is from an isekai in some way or another…”
“Ohh? That’s deep. I guess it’s like how those who are isekaied can somehow communicate with people from other worlds without problems, right?”
No two completely similar people exist.
And no two completely similar romances will exist.
Once the first love ends, something will continue on as replacement.
Yet I couldn’t figure out its name.