I can say now that I was young and foolish, but I had an existence called a boyfriend between my second and third years of middle school.
Any intelligent being would probably understand from what I say next. I would admit that I was a peerlessly plain looking person, caught in this predicament, and had to settle this crisis. The logic’s as clear and obvious as lighting a bonfire in pitch darkness.
Our encounters before we dated were all during the summer break, when there were no lessons, but we always met up at school, and I always wore school uniform. Our first date was the summer festival, and I managed to pull a fast one by wearing a yukata. I, ever the strategist, managed to defer the issue at hand deftly, over and over again.
But once we started dating, this wouldn’t work.
In any case, both he and I were the type to coop at home, and our dates were mostly to the bookshop or the library, but once we became lovers, we did meet during the weekend.
In other words, in personal clothes.
I, who didn’t know the meaning of the term fashion sense, would surely be forced to reveal this fact.
I didn’t have any friends, and could only rely on magazines and the internet.
I murmured to myself, this wasn’t fine, that wouldn’t do. I got funding from my mother, mustered my courage, and invaded the apparel shops I had never thought of, and I nervously handled the attendant who approached me.
And for the first time in my life, I wore winning clothes.
I was a little stunned when I tried those clothes and sized myself up.
I felt I couldn’t accept the fact that I was dressing up, as though I was watching a doll dress up. Maybe that’s the reason why I thought so at that moment alone, when I was so lacking in self-esteem.
Alright. I look cute.
So I thought as I looked into the mirror, the first time I ever thought so. Well, that’s to be expected right? Only a narcissist could look into the mirror and go all ‘I’m cute’. There should be a limit as to how tragic a woman could be, calling herself cute and such. I definitely wouldn’t have such thoughts, or so I thought, until that moment.
To all the males in the world, please remember one thing.
We aren’t narcissists in any way.
The clothes’ cuteness does not equate to our own cuteness..
I would say that might be the moment I awoke as a female, the moment I thought myself as cute after dressing up, that I could discard the opinion I had of myself, and experience this trendy fashion sense. For the first time in my life, I managed to grow, because I dated him.
But if I had to say what the remaining problem was.
I guess it’s probably that my fashion sense wasn’t ‘popular with the guys’, but that ‘it suits his tastes perfectly’.
I only realized so once I entered high school, but that aside, back on point.
On the day of the date.
The epitome of plainness that was me, who usually wore knee-length uniform skirts, was dressed in a miniskirt that exposed her thighs fully. And when Mizuto Irido saw that, his response was,
—Morning. Let’s get going then.
No thoughts about it? He didn’t think anything about his girlfriend’s unusual getup? I practically put all my efforts in dressing up.
Huh, wait? I’m supposed to be his girlfriend, right?
I tried to act calm and walk next to him, glancing aside from time to time.
He showed no signs of commenting on my clothes, and I became increasingly uneasy.
…Was it plain looking?
I felt that I looked cute, but it was my own opinion, and might not be enough…since Irido-kun’s a nice person, maybe he’s avoiding the topic that’s my plain clothing so that he wouldn’t offend me …?
The more I thought about it, the more I felt it was possible.
After all, if it wasn’t the kind, the kind and delicate wouldn’t have made the classical blunder of not praising a girl’s clothes—no, on second thought, he’s the kind of person who’d make such a classical blunder.
I always thought of myself as the source of every misfortune in this world, like I was the devil, thought to myself dejectedly that ‘so this is what it means to look plain’. I toured the bookshop with my boyfriend, chatted with him in the café, and just continued to date like that.
And right when we’re about to go our separate ways then.
—……As for, your clothes today.
He suddenly said,
—I think they’re rather cute.
For a moment, the slow brain of mine couldn’t comprehend.
Why at this moment? Right when we’re about to go our separate ways?
I had countless questions swirling in my head, but once I saw him avert his eyes awkwardly and cover his eyes, I had a brainflash.
…Ah, I see.
He really wanted to praise me, but he was too embarrassed to say so, and dithered until the end of the date.
My back feels itchy ~~~!! In hindsight, that’s so embarrassing~~~~!!
Back then, I didn’t know that I would be so embarrassed about this in the future, and shivered because I shared his sentiments.
I was so overjoyed that I could grasp his psychology through this little gesture.
But, he then continued his assault.
—……But, erm…I’ll be glad, if you rein in, that miniskirt.
—Eh…? Y-you don’t like it…?
—N-not that, well…
He tried to look nonchalant even though his voice sounded stiff,
—…I wouldn’t mind, if we weren’t outdoors.
……? Once again, I felt confused.
But this time, I couldn’t grasp his intentions immediately.
So I just answered, waved at him, and we went our separate ways.
I kept thinking about this on my way home.
If we weren’t outdoors? In other words, if we’re indoors? Why not outdoors? Because too many people will be looking?
……Because there were many people outside?
The moment I realized so, my face boiled, and I pinched at the hem of my miniskirt.
So…that’s what he meant.
He didn’t want others to see my legs.
This possessiveness is disgusting.
Surely the current me would’ve thought so, but I wasn’t a popular person back then, so I did yearn to be possessed by others, to some extent.
And furthermore, it’s him we’re talking about.
He, who never looked passionate about anything, actually showed how possessive he was of me.
The smile on my face never faded until I reached home.
And ever since then—I never wore a miniskirt.
Akatsuki-san and I were leaning by the plants around the corner of the cross junction, staring at the passing crowd before us.
It’s the weekend, and most of them were in their own clothes instead of suits and school uniforms. I was a little impressed that most people in this world had sufficient fashion sense to not look weird at all.
“What do you think?”
Akatsuki-san suddenly asked, so I answered,
“I don’t think I need to answer.”
“Your thoughts anyway?”
“No way~. That’s impossible ~. I heard those clothes are super expensive.”
“What do you think then, Akatsuki-san?”
“Ahhh, I see…it’s very convenient.”
“It really is~. I think I’ll go all ‘woah, that’s a hassle’ if I don’t have a school uniform.”
“We’ll have to think of what to wear when we go to college, you know?”
“Woah, that’s a hassle.”
Ahaha, Akatsuki-san laughed.
“But we got to prepare ourselves.”
“Yeah, just in case she’s dressed up like a lolita.”
“To be honest, I really don’t know how to prepare myself for this.”
And while we’re talking, we spotted the person we’re waiting for amidst the crowds.
She looked flustered once she saw us, and scampered over.
“So-sorry…! Was I late…?”
We silently stared at the girl who was panting away even though she ran a short distance. To be precise, we were sizing up Isana Higashira’s outfit.
She’s wearing a T-shirt with weird alphabets and a crumpled parka. Well, because of the massive Alps on her chest, the alphabets were stretched into Unowns.
For bottoms, she’s wearing jeans, which used to be blue, probably. After washing it over and over again though, it’s more of a sky blue.
And once we saw this, we quietly decided in our hearts.
“E-eh? What’s wrong? Why are you relieved?”
“Thank goodness you’re just being ordinarily plain~~”
“We were wondering what we’d do if you really showed up in Lolita clothing. There’s still hope though, you’re just in plainclothes.”
“Eh!? A-am I being bullied!? This is bullying, right!?”
(Plain looking) Higashira-san was all teary.
It’s fine if it’s just to visit a nearby convenience store, but this getup’s a little weird for someone going out with her fellow girls. If it’s not us, she’d probably be the laughing stock with all the ‘wait…what’s with this outfit~!? (LOL)” “So plain~! (LOL)” and end up trying to laugh it off.
“So, Higashira-san, here’s the plan for the day!”
Akatsuki-san lifted her hand and pointed her index finger at Higashira-san.
“It’s called! ’Isana Higashira’s Dress Up Event’!!”
Higashira-san, who only heard that we’re just hanging out this rest day, gave us a blank look.
“Well, we never had the chance to observe your personal clothing while you tried to conquer Irido-kun. After our end-of-terms, it’s summer vacation, so we’re going to do something before you embarrass yourself before Irido-kun, Higashira-san.”
“Erm, why do you think I’ll embarrass myself? You haven’t seen my own clothes, right…?”
“I don’t think you brought much money, but it’s fine.”
So I ignored the topic and pressed on.
“Akatsuki-san and I will split today’s budget.”
“Eh…! I-I can’t let you two do that…!”
“It’s fine it’s fine! Just think of it as a present from us!”
“Yes yes…but in return, promise us one thing.”
Akatsuki-san and I smirked, and we said in unison.
““Promise that you’ll wear what we recommend. No complaints allowed.”“
It’s the reason why we’re gathered on this day, the ’Isana Higashira’s Dress Up Event’, aka ‘Isana Higashira Dress Up Doll Play Invitational’.
“Don’t worry don’t worry. We’re not going to overdo it~ right Yume-chan?”
“Yes, of course. Nothing indecent.”
We entered the shopping mall, emphasizing that we’d keep it SFW, but Higashira-san continued to shiver like she’s a squirrel eyed by a savage wolf.
“Y-you won’t lie to me, right…? You’re not going to make me show my belly button or something, right…?”
“No no no! Even if summer’s too hot, anyone wearing that is a slut~!”
We entered the apparel shop while smiling away.
It’s June, the temperature’s already risen, and it’s all summer clothing in the shop.
Of all the dazzling and loose clothing shown, “Oh!” Akatsuki-san spotted a top from the rack, and picked it.
“Found a camisole.”
“Stop! That’s the one clothing I can’t wear! My cleavage will be exposed!”
“Shut up~!! Just wear it ~!!”
It seemed Akatsuki-san transformed into some abusive dad at home as she shoved hot pants no different from swimsuits and a camisole to Higashira-san.
“D-do I have to wear this…? It feels like some fanservice in a horror flick! Are you serious!? You’re not insane!?”
“Wear what we tell you!”
We pushed Higashira-san into the changing room from behind.
Then, we folded our arms, and she probably gave up resisting, for we could hear cloth being ruffled beyond the curtain.
“…Nn…! Wai, th-this is a little too small…uuu~…!”
“Need our help~?”
“N-no need, I’ll refuse…! That sounds so evil …!”
“Tch. I want to see those ridiculously large boobs myself.”
“You’re being too honest with yourself…”
I too wanted to see though.
About a minute or so later, I heard a timid voice from beyond the curtain.
“…E-erm…I’m done…no-nobody else is around, yes…?”
“Nope~. Just the two of us ~.”
“R-really? I trust you then…? I’ll really trust you…!”
Another ten seconds or so passed, and the curtain was moved aside.
Akatsuki-san and I gulped once we saw Higashira-san.
The camisole appeared to be bulging, but they managed to cover Higashira-san’s voluptuous body, somehow.
However, the law of equivalent exchange dictated that the fabric would stretch, and the belly button was exposed.
The hot pants didn’t seem to fit her, biting into the nice fatty thighs—
In other words,
“I told you already, didn’t I!?”
Higashira-san yelled and pulled the curtain body..
That lewdness left us speechless.
She’d be arrested for lewd indecency if she was to walk outside in this.
“Mom nagged at me every day…telling me not to wear anything too revealing…she said that if I wear such clothes with this body, it’s not sexy anymore, it’s too erotic…”
“We understand your mom here …”
“I like that though, but yeah, we can’t have people thinking of you as a slut.”
If we’re talking about clothes that aren’t revealing, then it’s my turn.
After all, I’m famous for stubbornly refusing to expose my legs even as a high school girl (though among my friends).
I looked through the rack, chose something decent looking, and returned to the changing room.
“What about this then? Little cleavage, and exposes little.”
“Hm~, it looks a little smart, but not bad? Feels innocent.”
“…Smart, my fashion sense?”
“It’s fine, Yume-chan! Cuteness is forgivable!”
I was a little curious about something, but since Akatsuki-san allowed it, I handed over the clothes to Higashira-san in the changing room.
“Well, these clothes are rather …”
I could hear clothes being changed in the room, and the curtain was pulled aside.
“…How is it?”
The half sleeved shirt was matched with a high waist skirt, simple and fitting.
Akatsuki-san called it ‘innocent’, but I chose it because of Higashira-san’s personality. White shirt with dark blue skirt. Because of him, I knew that people like her wouldn’t like bright colors.
I heard that one frustration of large breasts was that anything would look fat, so I deliberately chose a high waist skirt that could squeeze her waist.
But in fact, because the hem of the shirt got hold up, and Higashira-san’s meaty body got emphasized—
“What do you want me to do!?”
Higashira-san knelt down, her face blushing furiously. The embarrassed look seemed so erotic when she’s like this.
”Hmmm.” Akatsuki-san and I groaned with our arms folded.
“This is a toughie, Yume-chan……”
“Yeah…she looks lewd no matter what she wears…”
“Please stop…! Please don’t call me a perverted slut! I know I am, somewhat!”
Higashira-san finally pulled the curtain back and hid herself in the changing room. She’s probably removing that innocently lewd outfit. How lewd.
“Anyway, we can’t talk about matching clothes unless we erase the existence of those G cups…no matter what she wears, she seems like a big ol’ game character.”
“People with big breasts sure have it tough. It’s the first time in my life that I felt something other than hatred for them.”
“So you’re one of those who hate big boobs with a passion?”
“I’m fine with creating some udders! Let’s try it in 2D mode ~”
Akatsuki-san showed me a anime image on her smartphone. The pretty girl’s boob shape was clearly shown even through the clothes.
“This is, ignoring physics, right?”
“It’s possible to do it in real life though. Higashira-san, you should be happy since you like this kind of thing, right ~?”
“Please don’t mix VR with reality!”
The changing room curtain was pried apart furious, and Higashira-san, now changed into her old clothes, exited the room.
“To me, anyone who can walk out there with those udders are nuts! Shameful display! They’re basically Adam and Eve before they ate the fruit!”
“You’re making it sound like they’re really amazing. You alright with that?”
“Tch~. I wanted to get Higashira-san to cosplay~.”
“Cosplay…ah, I’m fine with a maid outfit though…”
“So you’re fine with that?.”
“You sure are interested in cosplay…”
“N-not at all! Absolutely not!”
Higashira-san continued to protest with futility as we led her around the shop again.
The best way to obfuscate breast size was to wear large, loose clothing, but such clothes might make her seem fat.
And even if we managed to bound her waist, those large boobs would just stand out all the more…
Hmm, it’s difficult.
“Say, light and fluffy ones are better, right?”
“Light and fluffy?”
“It’s similar to your likes, Yume-chan, if I have to put it.”
I looked down at my getup.
I was dressed in a white blouse and a beige pleated skirt. I usually tend towards mild colors, partially because my long black hair looked gloomy enough, and another reason was that—over the time I dated him, he tended to wear black clothing. I hated it when couples wore black.
“Well, I feel that both of you have a light and fluffy silhouette. You’re not willing to show off your body shape, right, Yume-chan? So if I go by this thought process, your shirt should be a little bigger, and you should be wearing some light fluffy dress…some gaucho pants, maybe? I think that might suit Higashira-san’s vibe better. She looks like an airhead after all.”
“Hmm—, that’s true.”
“I…look like an airhead?”
Higashira-san tilted her head in confusion. Yep yep.
It sounded like a good idea, but Akatsuki-san looked conflicted for some reason.
“But well ~, this style clashes too much with Yume-chan’s ~.”
“What’s wrong about clashing?”
Once again, Higashira-san was puzzled.
“Of course not~! Two fluffy girls walking side by side on the road. That has got to be embarrassing, right?”
“So not only do I have to think about whether it suits me, I have to think about whether it meshes well with others…?”
“Ah, Higashira-san, you’re giving that ‘this is troublesome’ look. Well, it is what it is. Welcome to a girl’s world.”
“This reinforces my will that I don’t want to get involved with that world…”
“The world of girls isn’t so Spartan for newbies to back off, right Yume-chan?”
The ball’s on my court even though I didn’t know why, and I looked at Akatsuki-san’s face.
“It’s a problem if it clashes with your style, Yume-chan. How about you compromise for her and give up yours~?”
“Yep! Time to start a whole new trendy style!”
U-uh oh…she’s been gunning for this the entire time!?
Akatsuki-san had been trying to get me to wear dashing outfits. I told her they wouldn’t suit me!
“Which one then~♪ This one then~?”
And Akatsuki-san took out long pants from the rack before I could stop her.
Th-that’s weird…! We’re supposed to be dressing up Higashira-san today! Why me!?
Akatsuki-san quickly chose a set, probably because there was one she liked, and shoved it into my hands.
“Wear it then ♪”
“Wear, it, then ♪”
I was pressured by the intimidating smile, and gave Higashira-san a pleading look.
…And Higashira-san turned her face aside.
S-such a heartless woman! She saw a chance to pull down with her and she took it!
“Now now now! Go in go in go in! Ah, tie your hair up! That’ll suit your clothes better! Here’s a rubber band!”
Prompted by Akatsuki-san, I was forced into the changing room.
I saw myself in the mirror, and looked at the clothes in my hands. It’s the type of clothes I always avoided, the ones that really emphasized my body . U, uuuu…! She just forced clothes onto someone who never really wore anything other than a uniform, and…
Anyway, I just had to try it on once, and Akatsuki-san should be happy enough…I had no choice but to think so.
I quickly removed my clothes, and changed into the clothes that were handed over to me.
A sleeveless blue top and white pants—skinny pants. They didn’t expose my thighs, but the curves were emphasized.
I tied my hair as Akatsuki-san said. Realizing that this might clash with Akatsuki-san’s ponytail, I simply tied it at the neck, and had it dangle slightly in front.
Is it a good thing…I really couldn’t tell after looking at my own getup..
At this point, I didn’t have a baseline.
Or to be precise…I didn’t have someone to show this to.
I used to have one, someone I wanted to appear before after combing myself. I wanted to see his reaction, and choose anything that would catch his fancy, make up for what I was already lacking. So after I lost that person, I ended up like Higashira-san, a novice in the world of fashion—I couldn’t be sure of how I should dress up.
…Let’s just go all out then.
I gave up on thinking, and pulled the curtain aside in somewhat desperation,
“…How is it?”
Akatsuki-san and Higashira-san looked at my face for quite a while, and—
Akatsuki-san was blushing with excitement, and Higashira-san gave me an admiring look, her eyes dazzling.
Ehh…? Does it suit me well? Really?
“I knew it! This really suits you very well! Not many girls are really suited for white skinny pants! Definitely!”
Akatsuki-san’s words got faster and faster. Sounds legit.
My heart felt a little ticklish.
All my fashion choices till this point so that I wouldn’t whenever I was with a guy, or rather, him. But…it’s not a bad feeling to try out various clothes with my fellow girls.
Once again, I looked at my getup.
I, in skinny pants, seemed to have aged by three years or so.
And then, I immediately felt that my past getup was, should I say, too childish, too feminine, or too conscious of what boys like…
Unexpectedly, this getup’s decent…huh?
I looked at the price, and felt it was suitable. As I had been sharing books with him, I managed to save some money. Novels as a hobby weren’t really expensive either, so I had more pocket money…hmm, well, it’s a good chance then.
“…Let’s get the staff to cut the price tag off.”
“Nfufufu! It’s a dream come true!”
My fashion sense could always remain at elementary school level, and it’s a good chance…there’s no need for me to appeal to him after all.
“Let the show begin! Higashira-san! This one’s for you!”
And while I asked the staff to cut the price tag, Akatsuki-san had already chosen clothes for Higashira-san.
The clothes she gave Higashira-san were all dark colored. She probably avoided light colors so that Higashira-san wouldn’t look fat.
“Th-this set…? Erm, isn’t it a little too cute for me…”
“Isn’t dressing up for the sake of becoming cuter? Go in go in!”
Akatsuki-san nudged the timid Higashira-san into the changing room, and pulled the curtains.
I too hoped that Higashira-san would just enjoy dressing up and ignore everything about love. Maybe she could improve on her lack of confidence…but I had a feeling that she’s overly reliant on him. Well, I couldn’t say anything much if they were fine with that.
So I pondered about this as I accompanied Akatsuki-san, waiting before the changing room while Higashira-san got changed.
“Eh? You two…”
We heard a familiar voice, and turned around,
Two high school boys were outside the shop, staring at us.
One of them had somewhat curly hair, was dressed in a ¾ sleeve T-shirt and pants, and had a frivolous vibe to him.
That’s our classmate, Akatsuki-san’s childhood friend, Kogure Kawanami.
And the other was a striking contrast, dressed in an old jacket and shirt, and crumpled chino pants, his hollow expression seemingly showing how disinterested he was in the world.
It’s my ex, and little stepbrother, Mizuto Irido.
The two people we’re very familiar with were standing there for some reason.
Akatsuki-san’s face cringed a little for some reason.
“Why are you here? And with Irido-kun too…?”
“Buying clothes, what else? It’s summer anyway, so I want to get that Irido-san there and this Mizuto-kun here matching summer clothes before the hell that’s the end-of-terms begin.”
“I never asked you though…”
Mizuto said, clearly looking frustrated.
And Kawanami-kun smirked as he put his hand on the shoulder,
“Don’t say this man. This guy here will dress you up as the most handsome guy this summer!”
“I say I don’t need it. Damn it. It’s a grave mistake on my part to plan the stayover at your place …”
“That’s definitely the right thing to do, you know? You managed to buy time for your parents, and you don’t have to pay for new clothes, you know?”
Oh. I was wondering why he was with Kawanami-kun, somehow, but it seemed this was leverage for him staying over.
…Anyway, wait, will there be a summer version of the handsome mode during the aquarium date? I-I can’t say I’m completely uninterested in this…
“Oh.” Kawanami-kun raised an eyebrow at me,
“You look different from usual, Irido-san. Looks cool.”
“Right right~!? Even you of all people get this vibe!”
“As to be expected of you I get. It’s always you who come up with such things.”
Kawanami-kun said, and then, I finally remembered.
At this point, I had a completely different vibe from usual, from when I was dating him.
I noticed Mizuto giving me a slight glance, and froze up.
Before then, my getup was simply an extension of my middle school days, when I tried to fit his tastes. It’s different this time though.
I got approval from Akatsuki-san and Higashira-san…no no no, pull yourself together, me! It’s not about what he likes anymore. Nothing at all. I’m just wearing what I like.
Come on, say what you think. I won’t be hurt by whatever you say. So I thought as I steeled myself for the upcoming battle.
Mizuto immediately averted his eyes.
…He didn’t like it after all, huh?
Hmm~.ahhh, I see. I don’t care though? Not at all?
Kawanami-kun’s stare turned to the spot behind us.
The pulled curtain, the changing room—where Higashira-san was.
“No no no, we don’t know that person! It’s my date with Yume-chan ~!”
Akatsuki-san made a bold faced lie as she latched onto my arm, and whispered into my ear.
“(Yume-chan, we can’t let him meet Higashira-san!)”
Kawanami-kun and Higashira-san?
I was a little confused…but I just put up and shut up.
Kawanami-kun probably took Akatsuki-san’s words as they were, and looked aside.
Akatsuki-san heaved a sigh of relief once she saw this. And then,
We heard a photo snapshot from the changing room behind us.
And a tad later,
Bzzzttt. I wondered where this vibration came from, and saw Mizuto frisk his phone from his pocket.
He then gave a lethargic look at the screen.
And froze there for seconds.
And then, he glanced discreetly at the changing room Higashira-san was in.
Wait? A premonition occurred to me.
Akatsuki-san probably came to the same conclusion too.
Did Higashira-san, just—
“Hm? LINE? From who?”
Mizuto instinctively pulled his distance, and did not show Kawanami-kun his phone.
He moved his thin fingers quickly, and replied with a message,
“Let’s stop dallying here and finish up what we’re here for, Kawanami. I want to go home and study.”
“Yes yes. You’re here to do interesting stuff with me anyway. Let’s go then—”
Mizuto asked to leave early, so Kawanami-kun waved at us, and both of them disappeared into the shopping mall crowd.
And once we saw them leave.
Akatsuki-san and I slowly turned towards the changing room—
—And with a whoosh, the curtain was pulled aside.
“Hyaaahh!? Wh-what’s going on!?”
Higashira-san was in the changing room, her shoulder shivered—but at least she had her clothes on.
The shallow V shaped shirt gently covered her, and the hem was tucked under her flared skirt, which took the focus away from her breasts quite a bit, along with her waist. That’s why Akatsuki-san told her to do so.
Color matching-wise, the top’s a greenish-khaki, while the bottom’s a brownish beige. It looked plain, but this plainless might be better for Higashira-san.
She really gave the impression of a village girl in a fantasy, and it really did seem to suit her, but that’s another matter altogether.
Akatsuki-san and I stared intently at the phone Higashira-san was clutching at her lap.
“…Looks like it didn’t look indecent.”
“Doesn’t look that lewd after all.”
Higashira-san looked at us, back and forth, perturbed.
The worst case scenario we had imagined was her holding her cellphone, half-naked, in this locked room called the changing room. It seemed that Higashira-san managed to slam the brakes in time.
“We’re too hasty to conclude this time. We’ll spare you the lecture this time, Higashira-san.”
“Yeah. It might be a little too much that you took independent action before we could decide, but we understand how you feel about that ‘I want him to be the first to see this!’ We’ll let you off!”
“Ehh…h-how, did you now …?”
Don’t let anyone else hear this, so Akatsuki-san hinted with her eyes, and continued,
“And so? How about it?”
Higashira-san held her phone firmly, and covered her mouth.
Not completely though, and we could easily see a smile on her face.
It seemed there’s no need to ask.
She lifted her eyes, peeked at us again and again, and tentatively asked.
“…Can I…buy these clothes?”
Akatsuki-san looked so proud as she agreed.
I then nodded, and Higashira-san looked at her phone, before she smiled happily once again.
…Well, depending on what we define as the starting point—it doesn’t matter whose standards we’re talking about, we’ll just have to build from there.
So I thought as I looked at Higashira-san, comparing herself in the mirror and on the phone, she’s taking the exact same path as I once did.
“…Higashira-san, can I ask something?”
Since we had a rare opportunity, the three of us toured the shopping mall..
And while Akatsuki-san went to the toilet, I made up my mind and asked..
Higashira-san was seated next to me on the bench, “Hm?” licking off the crepes cream on her lips as she turned towards me.
“Erm…Higashira-san…you still like that guy after all?”
It happened just this month. Higashira-san seemed to have recovered at a ridiculous pace after she got dumped by Mizuto. However, there were often times when she showed her fondness of Mizuto, just like before—especially when Mizuto himself could not see her.
So, which was she?
Did she still like him, or not?
“I still like him though?”
Higashira-san heartily answered as she slowly chewed on the crepes.
“I like Mizuto-kun not because he’s a potential boyfriend for me though. I probably will continue to like him, you know? Both as a friend, and as a boy.”
I was a little hesitant.
“…Don’t you feel like, you’re suffering?”
“Really? I think I’m happier than when I was just his friend. Maybe it’s because I don’t need to hesitate about hiding the fact that I like him, I guess?”
I thought of the old me.
“…What if he has a girlfriend?”
“Hmm—……well, I‘ll be unhappy, I guess? It might sound ridiculous coming from me, but I’ll feel that I lost. If Mizuto-kun has a girlfriend, I don’t think he’ll pull his distance from me, so that should be fine. I can’t tell though unless it actually happens …”
Or rather, Higashira-san continued,
“I might be a little more jealous if Mizuto-kun has a new friend.”
“Mizuto-kun’s happiest when he’s chatting with me! So when I think of him having fun with someone else, at some place I don’t know of…! Uuu, I’m angry just thinking about it!”
Higashira-san then wolfed down the remaining crepes.
Ehh? Eh? …Ah, of course. Higashira-san doesn’t know about Kawanami-kun because she’s in a different class.
I see…I finally understood why Akatsuki-san told me not to let Higashira-san and Kawanami-kun meet.
“…You won’t get jealous of the lover, but of the friend?”
“I feel like my territory’s invaded? Is this NTR?…Do you feel the same too, Yume-san? What would you think if a long lost little sister of Mizuto-kun suddenly shows up?”
The complicated feelings swirled in my mind, and I felt really anxious. However, my feelings were a little different when I assumed that Higashira-san might become Mizuto’s girlfriend.
I wasn’t resistant, nor regretful, and definitely not furious.
Higashira-san said as she looked at the empty wrapper.
“When I think of how I only have Mizuto-kun, and yet he has other replacements, I just feel, very scared, very lonely.”
I really, really, really understood her feelings.
This was the feeling of one who was chased out of her solace, thrown into the world alone.
Of course…she wasn’t being possessive of Mizuto.
She’s just scared, scared that she wouldn’t exist in Mizuto’s eyes.
…But, once again, I questioned.
Was she really fine with it?
Could she really …continue to rely on him, cling onto him, and fawn over him forever…?
“There’s still some cream.”
I took a tissue paper, and wiped her mouth. It felt like I was taking care of a baby.
She said she had nobody other than Mizuto-kun.
But at this point, Mizuto Irido wasn’t around.
The ones who thought about and chose her new clothes were Akatsuki-san and me.
So I said.
“We’re friends too, right?”
Higashira-san’s eyes wavered uneasily, and she blushed…before she peeked at my face.
“C-can I, really?”
She then invited me, just as she did when she bought those clothes, even though she had no need to.
“Of course. We already thought of you as one.”
Higashira-san held my hands vigorously, only to be dejectedly.
And finally, she muttered with a teeny-weeny voice.
“…Though you can’t be, a replacement, for Mizuto-kun…”
These words might have been a critical hit to me.
But I didn’t falter.
“Yep. I know.”
I might be of a similar level, or better.
I bid farewell to Akatsuki-san and Higashira-san, returned home, and found that my useless little stepbrother had arrived earlier.
I didn’t utter a greeting at all. He was on the sofa, reading a book, and with his back turned towards me, I asked,
“So how about it?”
Mizuto tilted his head aside at me.
“…Well, she looks good?”
“Can’t you just say something like ‘she’s very cute’…and so? What did Higashira-san say?”
Mizuto looked completely annoyed, tapped at his phone, put it on the table, and showed the screen.
It’s the LINE chat with Higashira-san.
Her reply to Mizuto’s nonchalant praise.
“1000 yen for another shot!”
…Seriously, this girl.
Why couldn’t she show such a reaction in front of Mizuto?
She couldn’t convey her feelings honestly. It’s a suffering personality. I really pitied her.
“…Anyway, why did Higashira-san here cover her eyes with her hand?”
“Who knows? Go ask her.”
“Feels like I’ll get some crazy reply…”
She looked like someone taking an indecent photo of herself on a SNS platform—so I barely managed to swallow back my thoughts. It would be as she intended if I said it. Better lecture her next time.
—And then, I felt a stare.
I looked towards Mizuto, who so happened to avert his eyes.
…Was he looking at me?
I was wearing the clothes I bought, the skinny pants Akatsuki-san recommended. When we met first, he completely ignored these clothes.
I thought these clothes didn’t suit his tastes though.
I went before the sofa, and stood before Mizuto.
Mizuto turned his eyes towards the book intently, and wouldn’t look at me.
There’s no reason for me to go along with his tastes.
There’s no need for me to use him as a benchmark.
But, that’s a different matter altogether.
I slowly took out my phone, turned it horizontally, and covered my eyes.
Just as Higashira-san did.
Mizuto’s voice quivered, his lips twitched.
“You two are really similar.”
“What do you mean? I’m just looking at my phone from a little higher up.”
“If there’s anything you want to say, just tell me.”
“I got nothing though? You’re the one who want to say something, right?”
Mizuto’s lips reeked of bitterness. He turned his face aside, and said tersely.
“…But that’s good anyway.”
I gave a victorious smile. Mizuto looked a little displeased.
I had no reason to not wear miniskirts.
He had no right to criticize me no matter how I exposed my legs.
But even so…it’s bemusing how I managed to break that stoic facade of his.
I’m not going to share this joy with just about anyone.