I heard RADWIMPS from the living room. Mizuto happened to be watching ‘Your Name’ on the TV.
My little stepbrother was leaning on the sofa, staring at the strangely pretty depiction of Tokyo scenery.
“What are you doing?” I asked him.
“Watching a movie.”
“Not like I wanted to watch it.”
He made it sound like there was someone else watching.
“Yume-san, pardon my intrusion~”
Suddenly, a voice drifted in from out of nowhere.
While I was still shocked, a hand waved at me from the other end of the sofa.
I looked to where it came from, and found Higashira-san lying on the sofa.
She was resting on Mizuto’s lap.
“………Higashira-san, what are you doing?”
“Watching a movie.”
Er, no, that’s not what I was asking. I meant the situation.
“Mizuto-kun said he’s never seen ‘Your Name’. That’s ridiculous, so I’m giving him remedials! This is a compulsory class for all Japanese citizens! Compulsory!”
“Japan’s education directive sure has become strange recently.”
“So when this is done, let’s watch ‘5 Centimeters per Second’.”
“Shouldn’t we be watching ‘Weathering With You’ instead?”
Mizuto retorted naturally while his fingertips poked at Higashira-san’s fluffy hair.
They clearly looked like a pair of lovers, and if not, they were a pet putty and the master.
A doubt flashed through my mind.
It was a question I had so many times, and always came with a prickly sensation.
Did I just come across a room date between those two?
Did they actually start dating while keeping it quiet from us …?
Did that relationship happen unwittingly after we saw that confession, and that they kept it from us because they’re too embarrassed to say so—
—So that’s why he didn’t kiss me?
—Y-you, that was just…!
—At least I conveyed my feelings through my actions as you wished?
My chest felt irritated and annoyed—and I sat down next to Mizuto to shake off this feeling.
Mizuto side-eyed me,
“I’m watching too.”
I wasn’t touching the shoulder, let alone the lap pillow, or rather, the hand—I kept my distance from Mizuto, and looked at Higashira-san’s face.
“Feels nice to not be facing each other directly and yet act like a bickering couple ~”
It’s a good chance.
I so happened to have a task entrusted to me.
My mission was to affirm—what was the actual relationship between Mizuto and her, who’s talking about otaku topics.
“Say, how’s Higashira-san like as a person?”
Asking this question excitedly was a female classmate who loved to gossip—not.
It’s Yuni Irido.
In other words, my own mother.
It was a free and easy morning, and I was checking on the new publications on my phone when she asked me that. I lifted my head,
“…What do you mean?”
“Well, you see, hasn’t she been at our place every day ever since summer vacation started? I was wondering what her actual relationship with Mizuto-kun is~. Don’t you think they’re way too intimate for a couple who had broken up?”
Let’s recap this.
Mom and uncle Mineaki assumed Higashira-san was Mizuto’s ex, because of her slip of words.
Both of them were so vested in this completely unexpected rumor, and they would ask Higashira-san this and that, scaring her.
“…Well yeah, I think they have a good relationship …unnaturally good.”
“Right!? Right!? I told uncle Mineaki that maybe they told us they broke up because they’re embarrassed ~!…Can you investigate this for me, Yume?”
I nodded without thinking, but what did mom just say? Investigate?
“Higashira-san looks like she’d be really nervous if she sees us. She’d probably feel casual~ though if it’s you, Yume?”
“W-why do I have to do this …”
“You’re curious about their relationship too right, Yume?”
“It works out then! I’ll leave it to you!”
Mom insisted, and I had no chance to continue on.
Why didn’t I inherit this aggressiveness? I started to begrudge my genetic makeup.
The protagonist and the heroine started a romcom on the TV.
It’s some time ago since I last saw this moment, and I remembered it wasn’t long after I started dating the guy next to me. Looking at this movie again made me feel like there’s something building up within me…like I’m hoping the protagonist would be paired with another girl.
I side-eyed discreetly, and found Mizuto and Higashira-san staring at the monitor with blank looks. I really couldn’t tell what they were thinking.
At first glance, it might seem they found the movie to be boring, but in fact, beneath their poker faces, they might be all high-strung and going all “This is so interesting!! So amazing!!”. Peas in a pod ….
Higashira-san nudged about on Mizuto’s lap, and murmured so.
Not too long ago, Higashira-san would wear the clothes Akatsuki-san and I picked for her, but slowly, she’s been wearing her home clothes, probably because she thought of our place as her own house. She’s wearing jeans and half-sleeved parka.
The air-conditioning was a little too warm, so she might be a little too hot in that parka. I should lower the temperature then, and right when I was about to look for the remote,
Right before then, Higashira-san undid the zipper of the parka.
She let out a relieved sound and immersed herself in the movie once again.
I wasn’t in the mood to watch the movie though.
It’s cooling. Too cooling.
Beneath her parka was a tank top that wasn’t any different from underwear.
It’s no different from when Akatsuki-san exclaimed that anyone wearing that wouldn’t be any different from a slut. It clung onto her skin perfectly and emphasized her ample breasts and the cleavage of the real bonkers, those I cups. And because her straps were crooked, I could see those bra straps clearly!
I faltered and stared at the sight for quite a while, but Mizuto next to me continued to stare at the anime intently and calmly. I really didn’t want to disturb them while they were watching, and I couldn’t voice out and remind Higashira-san after the shocking move she made.
What…? What’s this…? Was I the only one who thought this was weird…? Did she not pull the zipper down completely, and only at her chest for some reason…? Maybe it’s because she found it a hassle to pull the zipper up completely afterwards …?
The movie didn’t stop while I was acting all restless, and we’re in the middle part. The story started to escalate.
Once Mizuto’s stare finally remained on the monitor again, the second impact struck me without warning.
Higashira-san murmured as she fidgeted, reached for her back, and scratched it. Was it because she felt ticklish there? That’s what I guessed, but it’s never that simple with Isana Higashira.
And then there was a rustling sound. She reached her hand into the parka that was half-removed—nope, the tanktop—inside.
Eh? What? What’s she doing!?
And the answer to the doubt in my confusion was a teeny-weeny sound.
I, no, any girl out there would recognize this familiar sound in our daily lives.
Even though it’s that Higashira-san we’re talking about, Mizuto’s right next to her. No way, wait—
I prayed from the bottom of my heart, but my hopes were dashed immediately.
Higashira-san reached in through her chest—no, beneath her bra.
Her hand reached for the tiny gap that occurred after she removed the hook, and scratched what was probably the front part, incessantly.
Look, I understand, you know? It’s hot, I know, I know. You’ll want to scratch once in a while. But are you seriously doing that? Openly in front of a guy—or for that matter, anyone else!? Just like this!? I’ll rethink it even if it’s in front of my family!! This is unbelievable …!
Higashira-san looked completely relieved, removed her hand from her chest, and rehooked the bra strap on her back as though nothing happened.
I’m sorry to say this when you’re looking all relieved, but I have to tell you off here no matter what.
I should say a few words to her after this, and also report this to Akatsuki-san.
Even Akatsuki-san wouldn’t act so indecently in front of other guys. Even with those she’s most comfortable with, she’s never going to wear an oversized T-shirt and show off like that. I’m not fighting alone. Higashira-san’s ways were heretical! I got to tell her off no matter what!
“…I’ll go get a drink.”
I kept my head down slightly, and got up from the sofa.
The difference in attitude left me a little dizzy…how relaxed was she to end up like this? You too Mizuto, why do you act like it’s nothing.
They’re way beyond the state of being boyfriend and girlfriend.
They’re basically living together.
They’re basically a couple who lived together for three years.
To give an example, the atmosphere between them was so suspicious that if Mizuto was to slowly move his hand towards Higashira-san’s chest, she’ll just go all ‘ahh~ that tickles’. It won’t be weird if in the next moment, they’ll say something like ‘we should get married’ ‘let’s do it’. It’s stupid to describe their relationship in the form of distance.
Why did it feel like he’s living together with Higashira-san instead of me, who’s the one living with him!? Why!?
Error, does not compute. If there’s anything I really didn’t get, what else could it be? They seemed closer to each other after she got rejected! Akatsuki-san and I were worried that they couldn’t be friends after she got rejected, but that in hindsight was such a joke.
Mizuto Irido and Isana Higashira couldn’t be friends? How’s that possible?
…That’s when I increasingly felt how miraculous their existences were. What were the chances of them encountering someone they got along with? Ever since we started high school, I should have had an overwhelming victory in the number of friends, but even this felt so laughable.
…I’m so envious.
Ah, no, I didn’t mean anything else.
I returned to the TV with teacups and barley tea. While watching, I poured the tea into the cup, and was about to drink it,
“Give me some too.”
Mizuto said, but he didn’t look away from the TV.
“…You could have told me just now. I would have brought another cup for you.”
Woah…he was engrossed.
After all, I knew him since middle school, and I more or less knew his interests. Pure literature, light novels, movies or mysteries, he’s always the type who loved works with an additional flair of the author. So he simply never had the habit of watching anime, and given his personality, Director Makoto Shinkai’s works should hit the mark.
I turned towards Higashira-san, who was lying on Mizuto’s lap, and saw her look up at Mizuto’s face, smiling as though it was as expected.
—There’s no room for me here.
—I’m just a narrow-minded person. Just having one person I could earnestly face was my limit.
Mizuto said, and rejected Higashira-san’s confession.
At this point…only I, I knew who that person was.
“…I’ll give this to you then. I’m almost done though.”
Mizuto didn’t even look at the cup I handed over, received it, and gulped it all down. He looked so delicate, but he certainly was daring like a boy at such moments.
I received the cup from Mizuto, poured the barley tea again, and brought it to my lips.
The cold tea washed away the anxiety that spread throughout my body.
And while I drank the barley tea, Higashira-san looked back and forth between Mizuto and me, looking completely nonplussed.
What? So Higashira-san wanted some tea too?
So I wondered, only for her to deliver a haymaker from a completely unexpected angle.
“That was……an indirect kiss, right……?”
Mizuto and I looked at each other, and then we looked at the cup.
Mizuto seemed to have realized something, and then looked at the TV once again.
“Eh, that’s it?” Higashira-san saw that insignificant reaction of his, and reacted in shock.
Speaking of which, there did seem to be such a concept.
I continued to drink my tea.
“E-ehh~…? You two don’t mind at all…? Is this what being family is about…? Or are high school students all like this…?”
It’s not like we’re using each other’s utensils or toothbrush. We already lost that innocence a long time ago.
…I guess he wasn’t on the same side as Higashira-san when it came to this.
And the moment I thought of this, the anxiety in my heart abated a little—just a little.
After the staff roll ended, Mizuto leaned back onto the sofa lethargically.
And Higashira-san, who enjoyed two hours of the lap pillow, peeked at Mizuto discreetly.
“…How is it?”
“What attracted me at the beginning was really the description of the landscape but when the middle of the story started I saw the entire structure of the script well how do I put it I feel like I if I look closely at the work I can see the director’s personal fetishes appear but when I look at this in an overview it feels like there’s a beauty similar to a Hollywood movie and these combine together to form an unspeakable charm.”
That was fast!!!!
Higashira-san immediately hopped over, her eyes sparkling.
“Fetishes!! I get that, I get that! It’s like a duty to rub the breasts every time, don’t you think that’s great!?”
“I guess that’s a staple for a gender bender schtick. As far as I know, transsexual works are rather niche, so how did this movie end up as the face of all movies in the country?”
“The boldness to show personal fetishes in a national-class movie is a good point of Director Shinkai, , including ‘Your Name’. This is…well, it’s like showing an uncensored porno to a pure and innocent girl—”
“Ueh!? Th-that wasn’t a dirty joke, you know!? Haven’t you read ‘Yu Yu Hakusho’!? Doesn’t your dad have a collection!?”
I would admit that I was a relative nerd in the world of mystery novels, but there’s all kinds of subcultures in their conversation, and I couldn’t get them at all.
…If I were an otaku like Higashira-san, would I be able to continue dating him?
I immediately erased the notion that flashed in my mind. There’s no meaning to this assumption, and even if that’s the case, his temper wasn’t going to change, and I wouldn’t feel disillusioned by him.
I…didn’t want to end up like Higashira-san.
If I became Higashira-san, I wouldn’t be able to be friends with Akatsuki-san and the others了.
“Haaa…it’s tiring to stare at the screen intently for two hours.”
“That’s too little stamina.”
I gave a dumbfounded look towards Mizuto, who was slumped on the backrest of the sofa, remaining still. This from the guy who could read books for hours.
“Oh, in that case!”
Higashira-san suddenly sat upright, and slapped her thighs.
“As a reward, here! Allow me to offer a lap pillow!”
“No stoppu stoppu (https://www.myinstants.com/instant/stoppu-koga-aoi-27519/)!”
I hurriedly held back Mizuto’s shoulder right when he wanted to lie down like that.
“That’s not good…! Well…that’s not good at all!”
Why else, look…if Higashira-san gives Mizuto a lap pillow and he looks up from that angle, those breasts will …
Higashira-san showed a mysterious smile on her face, and leaned over towards Mizuto who was sleepy due to his fatigue.
“It’s a JK lap pillow~. Really comfy~. Comes with an ear digging service~. It’s a special service only to your older brother, you know ~?”
“Don’t use such a weird way to describe it! Anyway, where did you hear that from—”
“…Higashira digging ears seem a little scary …”
Mizuto mumbled, and fell horizontally like a puppet.
Not towards Higashira-san—but towards me.
Mizuto sought out the most comfortable position on my thighs, and…just fell asleep.
Higashira-san and I were stunned, and stared at that sleeping face.
His usual state ever since summer vacation started was to sleep till noon, and he’s often very tired in the evening…but I didn’t think he would be so at ease, sleeping on someone else’s thighs …
“…Erm, did he go to you because he didn’t want me to dig his ears, Yume-san?”
“R00d. Do I look that clumsy?”
“To be honest, yes.”
I couldn’t imagine Higashira-san would actually make something.
Higashira-san muttered, went to my lap, knelt down, and looked at Mizuto’s sleeping face.
“I can’t help but forgive him when I see such a cute sleeping face. Ehehe~♪”
Higashira-san showed a completely relaxed smile, and poked at Mizuto’s cheek.
She’s really fond of Mizuto, so I thought. Even though he rejected her, and she knew she couldn’t be Mizuto’s girlfriend, but she really was head over heels for Mizuto.
…Speaking of which, Mizuto does treat Higashira-san like she’s a pet dog, and I couldn’t deny that Higashira-san was treating Mizuto like a pet kitten.
Higashira-san wasn’t one who had the range of expressions, but she smiled as she stood before Mizuto.
“Now that I have the chance, shall I dig his ears?”
“Eh? That’s a little…don’t you find it scary to put a stick into someone else’s ear?”
“Ah, I get that. I was so scared when mom dug my ears the first time. Seriously, don’t go about digging for treasures in someone else’s ear.”
“I’ll just kiss him then.”
Higashira-san’s words were overly natural, such that I instinctively nodded away.
Higashira-san continued to stare at Mizuto’s sleep face intently.
“……Higashira-san? Did you just say, kiss?”
“I wonder if he’ll find out if I do so now …”
“No wait, I guess that won’t happen, but…are you fine with your first kiss being so casual?”
“Hm~…I guess a place with a slightly better atmosphere should be fine. I can’t reach my tongue in when Mizuto-kun’s sleeping …”
“What do you think the first kiss is about?”
“He’s not going to go with the flow and rip my clothes off …”
She’s way too compliant with her desires.
“…It’s amazing you managed to keep such a distance from him when you have such a mindset, you know …”
“I’ve been trying hard, you know? To be honest, I feel very conflicted when Mizuto-kun headpats me, for example. Now I finally get how the heroines feel when they blush once they get headpats.”
“I definitely don’t think those heroines blush because they have conflicted feelings.”
That’s an insult to all shojo manga out there.
“To be honest, one reason why I confessed to Mizuto-kun was because I crave for his body …”
“Is that so!?”
“I mean, if we’re already on good terms, we can do some pervy things. Is there anything better?”
“…………Uh, huuuuuuhhh ~…………”
That’s true, if this was the most explicit explanation.
“The all-ages version is fun, but I guess I still want to play the original R18 version, that’s the kind of feeling.”
“No, I don’t get what you’re saying.”
“If I’m friendzoned, I can’t do everything I can do with Mizuto-kun…I guess.”
Higashira-san continued to stare at Mizuto’s face up close, and her expression was inscrutable.
“…I too want to see Mizuto-kun acting all pervy.”
My heart was gripped while I saw that unperturbed face from the side.
It’s as though the me, who could have continued the relationship with him in the past was right there.
I understood that the past me wasn’t the same as Higashira-san, but I couldn’t help but put our silhouettes together.
Two years ago, on the day before summer vacation ended—I guessed our relationship would have continued like this if he rejected my confession.
Maybe it would have lasted a little longer—like Higashira-san’s situation.
“But if I add a certain term before the word friend, we can continue to be friends and enjoy pervy stuff together.”
“No wait, I’m not going to help you out if you’re going to work hard in this manner.”
“I know that. It’s a grave misinterpretation on my part to assume Mizuto-kun will make sexfriends.”
“You’re trying to make it vague!”
……Misinterpretation. Misinterpretation, huh?
The otakus really created quite the nice term, so I thought.
Countless love confessions ended up as the prelude to mayhem due to this source of all evil.
Higashira-san stared at Mizuto’s sleeping face, and fidgeted somewhat anxiously.
She then stood up immediately,
“…I’ll borrow your toilet.”
What’s she intending to do in someone else’s house!?
Higashira-san saw my reaction, was a little stunned, “Ah” and her face was completely red.
“N-no! I’m just using it normally!”
“Ah-ahhhhhh, I see…”
My mind so happened to be in the gutter sincer we’re on the topic of lewd ….
“…Speaking of which.”
Pfft, Higashira-san made a mysterious giggle.
“I heard from Mizuto-kun that you don’t have such knowledge, Yume-san…but you clearly do, don’t you?”
“…We’re high school students. I do pay attention to health ed classes…”
“Nfufufufu. It’s super exciting hearing the prettiest first ranked model student in our year discuss this.”
I simply scolded her back, she squealed and scampered off.
It’s not that I didn’t know, but that I just wasn’t adept at discussing this.
And after all, I always showed the flattering side of myself…after all, I was fearful of being misinterpreted by him.
The second hand of the clock ticked away with Mizuto’s steady snoring echoing in the room. I looked down at that slender face while feeling the weight on my thighs.
The long eyelashes were closed tightly, and the slightly longer bangs hung slightly above them. I reached out and plucked the bangs above the eyelashes, and felt a soft touch on my fingertips.
A steady exhale came out of his thin lips.
And I was ever so familiar with the touch of those lips.
They were so soft, but were dry from time to time. Whenever that happened, I would lend him some lip balm to apply, and redo again once he was done…sometimes, even though I was just fooling around, I applied lip balm on his with my own lips.
We were rigid and clumsy the first time around, and just a little touch alone was our limit. We tried to turn our faces sideways because the tips of our noses would hit each other, and we laughed at how funny it was, as if we were faking each other. We reached a tacit agreement to do it on the right cheek, but the kiss didn’t last long as we panted due to embarrassment…
—Every three seconds, we would pull a little distance, catch our breaths, and continue.
—During this time, we looked at each other, and caressed each other.
—We waited for one side to touch the other on the back, and the other would then touch the back. That’s all.
In this entire world, only I—he and I knew of the rules.
I supposed this was what Higashira-san wanted to know once she became a lover.
And at this point, he definitely remembered so.
I bent down, and my hair fell from the right side of my face.
I put the hair over my ear, as I usually did while reading.
He’s sleeping. Won’t get fooled again. Whenever I faltered, those feelings would return; the euphoric pleasure, that burning passion, or that longing and satisfaction felt from the moisture.
Looking back, when was our last time? I guessed it was probably before we had our argument, in June last year. This feeling remained dormant for a year and two months, and finally awoke once again, racing out, as though they’re about to flow out.
—… I too want to see Mizuto-kun acting all pervy.
I want to see that too. That notion flashed through my mind again and again before.
It’s been a while since I saw you like this. Your eyes wouldn’t look at anything but me, and your arms embraced me firmly as though you swore that you wouldn’t hand me over to anyone else, and the feeling when I was about to become one with you.
When I thought about it, I couldn’t help but yearn for that experience again.
I knew it wouldn’t happen again, but I couldn’t contain the feelings from overflowing.
——This was just a sexual desire.
Everything boiling deep within my chest quickly cooled down.
I understood why you refused to kiss me back then.
Thinking back on what happened, wanting the satisfaction of the past, and wanting to repeat what I did in the past—there were so many moments over the past four months.
But…I was just obsessed with the past.
What once satisfied me was no longer around. This was just a desire to fill a hole inside.
Superficial. Unbearable. Shameful.
Higashira-san’s first ever confession failed because of these desires—how would he ever recognize them.
We had a misinterpretation.
I took a deep breath, carefully put his head down from my lap so as not to wake Mizuto up, and stood up.
I had stopped Higashira-san, so why was I having such weird thoughts.
Let’s calm down a little…
I tiptoed out of the living room and went to the bathroom.
My reflection in the mirror looked as stoic as a trampled ground.
“How’s the situation between Mizuto-kun and Higashira-san?”
It was night when mom asked me excitedly, so I honestly told her about the results.
“Yes yes! What else?”
Mom looked unhappy, but there wasn’t anything else to say.
“But well, nothing specific? Like, what did they do?”
“…Erm, like say, Higashira-san got a lap pillow from Mizuto-kun …”
“Higashira-san got hot, and suddenly started stripping…”
“And then she just reached under her bra because she said it was itchy, so she scratched …”
Mom’s excited expression turned into that of bewilderment. It was to be expected.
“One thing to note, she did all those things right before my eyes, as though it’s all normal.”
Mom tilted her head in confusion,
“A couple living together for the third year…?”
Like mother, like daughter.
“But but, don’t you think they’re perfect for each other? You see, Mizuto-kun too has an intriguing mood to him, and now he’s with an incredible kid too, right?”
“Well, if you put it that way.”
They suited each other.
My opinion hadn’t changed even before Higashira-san’s confession failed.
I even felt no couple in the world suited each other as them. Even then, it didn’t mean that the relationship would continue naturally. This was the tricky part about being human.
“You shouldn’t hesitate now then, Yume!”
My heart jolted once mom suddenly declared so.
Eh, eh, why me? Did mom already—
“You need to find a decent boyfriend and not get left behind by Mizuto-kun! You’re so cute now, you can find one easily!”
So that’s what she meant….
That I should look for a boyfriend…other than Mizuto?
“…It’s not a contest anyway. You can wait.”
It’s a pity—it’s really, really a pity.
This was the biggest misinterpretation till this point.