Not to brag, but I did once visit a female classmates’ house before.
Not to brag, but she was my girlfriend back then.
Really, not to brag, absolutely not.
I mean, I’d been to my girlfriend’s house, but I never went to a female friend’s place.
“Mizuto-kun, do you want to come to my house tomorrow?”
I wondered why Isana Higashira suddenly called me, and that was what she suggested.
“Why? It’s not like I need to look for you.”
“It’s boring~. But you’ll have me around.”
“You’d just come over even without me saying anything, right?”
“It’s because of that. That.”
“Well, I’ve been visiting your house every day. So mom…
“What? You finally got scolded?.”
“No, no—mom said, I want to meet Irido-san for once.”
I see. That’s what any parent in their right mind would do. Probably.
Given all the telltale signs thus far, I could tell Higashira’s mother was a rather intense character, but it seemed she did have some social common sense.
“But but, don’t you find it a hassle to bring a mom to a friend’s place?”
“So basically, after discussion, we thought we should invite you over,Mizuto-kun.
“Another trouble… why do I have to greet your parents?”
“Fufu… it feels like we’re getting married.”
“Now I don’t feel like going.”
“Please! Mom’s going to kill me otherwise!”
“I’ve been wondering for a while, but is your mom an ex-delinquent or something?”
“Not at all. My mom’s not a delinquent. She’s just violent.”
“Now I really don’t want to go.”
“Don’t worry. She said she just wanted to thank and apologize to Mizuto-kun!
“’Thank’ and ‘apologize’? That kinda sounds like…”
Well, the argument’s legit, and to be honest, it’s not like I wasn’t willing to accept the invitation…I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in Higashira. She already ransacked through my bookshelf, and it’ll be unfair for me not to have a bit of a payback.
I looked towards the next room.
If I said I was going to Higashira’s house, I wonder what expression she’d make…
“… You don’t, want to visit?”
There was a slightly anxious voice on the other end of the phone.
“If you really don’t want to. I don’t mind. It’s fine…”
“No. I’m fine with it. I’ll go.”
I answered her as though the hesitation from a moment ago was a lie.
Higashira’s voice brightened.
“Yeah. I don’t like it when my privacy is the only one invaded.”
“Only the invasion?
“Only the invasion. Tomorrow I’m going to strip you naked.”
“Eh? … Ah, erm erm, if you want to do that, I’ll have the boy prepare that …
“Slip of tongue. I’m going to strip your bookshelf bare.”
“I’ve been toyed with! Mom!”
“Stop being an idiot, go to horny jail!”
What’d happen if I visited her tomorrow and end up with a good ol’ ‘you sleazeball dare to come over and strip my daughter naked, huh’?
“Mmm…please be careful, Mizuto-kun? Our house never prepared for such a thing.”
“Mine doesn’t either. Basically, no different from usual.”
I’ll clean up my room and wait for you then. Higashira hung up.
Then… I unwittingly glanced towards the next room.
… There’s no reason for her to complain, right?
At this point, I had no obligation to protect her even if it made Higashira lonely.
Higashira’s house was a family apartment slightly off the main road.
I did walk her home before, and did arrive at the front of her apartment, but I always left her at the entrance. It’s my first time actually entering.
Unlike the houses of Kawanami and Minami, there didn’t seem to be any autolocks. I went through the main gate, got onto the elevator, and went to the room number I was told beforehand.
The nameplate “Higashira” was at the far end of the hallway. It was a corner apartment.
The intercom was right in front of me. I took out my phone and called Higashira.
“…Did you just wake up?”
“I’m fine. …. I’ll open it now…”
She hung up. Well, it’s only 1pm, summer vacation, no wonder. I’d just wait for her to clean up.
So I thought, and wanted to take a book out to read, but before I could, the door opened with a creak.
Higashira appeared, clearly looking sleepy.
I was dumbfounded once I saw her.
“So that’s how you welcome guests?”
Higashira’s wearing a large T-shirt and loose shorts. Clearly she had just woken up.
She wasn’t wearing a belt or anything, and the T-shirt was held up by her large breasts, swaying like a curtain in front of her stomach. The collar was loose and worn out, and her cleavage poked up. The thighs exposed under the shorts were defenceless before me.
Clearly, she wasn’t here to welcome a visitor—let alone a man.
It’s not the first time that Higashira was so defenseless, but she had been wearing outdoor clothes till this point. Clearly she was dressed up like this since she’s alone at home….
“Hmmm… come to think of it, I’m still in my nightwear ….”
Higashira tugged lightly at her collar and looked down at her attire. She nearly exposed herself from there. Even this calm me had to avert my eyes..
… Hmm? Now …?
“I’m sorry … I was asleep earlier … fuuaah….”
“Go get dressed. I’ll wait for you.”
“Ahh~It’s okay …. I’ll get changed later… please come in for now …”
Higashira rubbed her eyes and walked through the entrance.
Are you sure you want to do this? I tilted my head and entered through the door.
Higashira yawned, casually removed her sandals, and went up the stile.
She’s still not awake, huh? The moment she went up, she nearly tripped over—
That was… weird. Did her chest… shake. …?
“That was dangerous. Hehe~…ah, Mizuto-kun. Do you need slippers?”
“Ah, I don’t need it…”
“I see… Please follow me then.”
Was it just me? Look, it’s not like I always paid attention to how they shook…
Higashira walked down the hallway to the right from the front door.
And then, she opened a door not too far from there.
“My room is here.”
“That’s pretty close to the front door.”
“Isn’t it~? It’s easy to go out. Hehe~~.”
“I envy you . Over fifteen years. I’ve been living upstairs.”
“I’m more envious of yours. I’d rather have a two-story house.”
A few meters down the hallway, to the left, there was another door at the very end.
“That’s my parents’ bedroom~. Around the corner is the living room.”
“Should I go and greet them first?”
“Mom’s out for a while. She’ll be back soon.~.. Dad’s not home today.”
She specified that he’s not home today, so in other words, he’s more often than not at home. In this sense, her family situation’s a little different from the Kawanamis and Minamis.
“Make yourself at home~ “
Higashira cleared the way, and invited me into her room.
Higashira’s room, well, was pretty much as I imagined.
There’s a bookshelf crammed with paperbacks, and the books that couldn’t be put were on the desk, bed, floor, everywhere else, forming high stacks. Also, the printouts from school and removed socks were all over the place. No doubt about it, I got that ‘Ah, it’s Higashira’s room alright’ feeling.
I casually sat down on the floor, and Higashira closed the door.
“Huh~… you can sit on my bed, you know?”
“I’m not as bold as you.”
“What? Is that so weird? …”
Higashira tilted her head, and put her knees on the bed where the blanket was in a mess..
She said she would clean up the room, but why did it end up like that? The printouts scattered there, might not be her summer homework, right—hm?
The moment I randomly put my hand down, I touched something cloth-like.
What’s this? Red like a rose, two bowl-like shapes stuck together—
…. ……. ……….
…… Isn’t this a bra?
Obviously, it was a bra lying haphazardly on the floor. It’s different from what I saw of Yume’s though. What’s different? The size. According to her. I remembered Higashira’s a G-cup—
Ahh goodness! There’s no way she could welcome guests like this!
Abort, abort. I hastily looked away from the bra.
And while I looked away in a certain direction… a brand new development happened like a trainwreck.
Higashira was on the bed in a girl’s sitting position.
She moaned and groaned in a muffled voice characteristic of a sleeper.
She probably didn’t want to see her own stomach.
The way she rolled up her shirt was clearly—of one who was trying to remove her shirt.
I could see Higashira’s belly button. I could see her ribs and hips. And the T-shirt caught some things above them.
The hem of the T-shirt was caught by them.
Thanks to gravity, the lower half spilled out of the T-shirt.
It was at this point that I finally realized—the cause of the distortion I sensed.
She’s not…wearing underwear.
Pure white. Half-moons of flesh, no fabric as protection, peeking out from the hem of her rolled-up T-shirt.
I was immediately stunned.
To begin with, it’s my first time seeing a girl’s underboobs—and I hadn’t expected Higashira to be braless. I never even thought about it this very moment!
Higashira struggled for a moment with the t-shirt that was caught on her G-cup breasts.
That momentary struggle was the moment that feIt like it was the difference between life and death.
Just before I could see the fatal parts, I finally yelled up.
Higashira stopped her hands from pulling off her T-shirt, and gave me an incredulous look.
Her underboobs were exposed while she just stared at me for a few seconds.
She finally looked enlightened, and pulled the hem of the T-shirt down over her belly.
She grabbed it, and was silent for a short while.
“……That shocked me…….”
“That’s my line!”
I retorted with all my might. Higashira smiled shyly and said, “Uehehehe.”
“I was totally sleepy. I forgot I got a guy in my own room…”
“I’m sweating like crazy now. That was…”
“Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Higashira remained seated on the bed, and lowered her head quickly.
… At that moment, the collar drooped, and then, as expected, two white lumps that were still uncovered entered my eyes. Even if I looked away—I only saw white, right? I didn’t see anything pink, right… …?
That’s… too defenseless.
Well, she’s always been full of openings, and more so when inside my room. She said she trusted me, but we’re talking about a whole different ball game. She probably had no algorithm for how to behave when someone else’s in her room.
“Either way, you’re being too careless. And you haven’t cleaned up your room. …”
“Well~ I thought of doing that before I slept…ah, I guess I didn’t put away what I wore yesterday.”
“…The ones you wore yesterday? As in, the one lying right next to me? This?”
“Ahhh~… it’s so embarrassing …”
“Are you serious!?”
I picked up the edge of the bra and used the momentum to throw it at Higashira.
It hit Higashira’s face, and she spread it open, putting it on her chest..
“How do you like it? I’m wearing something pretty sexy, right~”
“Did you hear what I said?”
“Actually, I’m still pretty shy about it. I guess that’s why I’m making jokes to cover up. Please understand.”
… Like hell I know. You would have blushed if that’s for real.
Higashira tucked her bra under the blanket to hide it.
“In the first place, why aren’t you wearing any underwear in the first place…?”
“Of course it’s because I was asleep until a while ago.”
“Do you take them off when you sleep, …?”
“I wear something called a night bra. Look, this one.”
She unrolled the black fabric that had been left on the bed. This one looks like a short camisole, and didn’t feel as secure..
“I heard that if I don’t wear this, my boobs will lose shape.”
“Didn’t think you would actually pay attention to this.”
“Nope, mom will kill me if I don’t wear it properly… she always says ‘what’s the point of growing such beautiful big boobs’.”
If Higashira gets killed, what’s the point of beautiful boobs or big boobs?
“Then why aren’t you wearing it?”
“I always take them off unconsciously when I wake up.”
Well, men wouldn’t understand the restraint of a bra. I couldn’t comment on that
Higashira threw off her night bra, looked down at her breasts, “Hmmm~” and tilted her head.
“Can I…not wear a bra…?”
“Mizuto-kun, you’ll be happier if I go without a bra…”
Higashira had both hands holding the T-shirt over her belly, and showed the outline of her breasts.
And then, she started wobbling them up and down.
“Doink doink~ ♪!”
“Stop it, you idiot!”
Creak, creak, the bed springs creaked and squeaked as Higashira’s bulges swayed softly. The lack of bra support changed everything, and the manner in which they bounced seemed to convey the weight and softness of her body.
I could see Higashira smiling wickedly at me out of the corner of my eye while I looked away from her.
“What now~? The Mizuto-kuun who dumped me? Are you really bothered by the tits of the woman who you dumped?
“Don’t get too carried away…! At least be thankful that I’m acting gentlemanly!”
“Ehehe~. This embarrassed Mizuto-kun is cute and adorable~! Come on. Come closer!”
“Don’t come closer yourself!”
Higashira got off the bed and approached me. I could only retreat.
It might be a bad reaction from me, but Higashira escalated her antics. She lifted her breasts with both hands.
The heightweights got her fingers sinking into her into her shirt.
“They’re soft, you know~ you can touch them, Mizuto-kun~?”
She’s just getting carried away. …!
It’s time to punish her a little—or so I thought, and lowered my voice a little.
“You sure I can touch them?”
I looked into Higashira’s eyes. She clearly blinked more frequently than before.
“No, erm, that was…”
“I can touch, right?”
And just like that, I began to close the distance between us. Higashira in turn backed away accordingly.
“Y-you can…actually, I really want it…but maybe I should say I’m still not mentally prepared …I don’t think my feelings are ready for this sudden…I-I just got carried away—ah!?”
Higashira, who had been looking away from my eyes with all her might while giving excuses, suddenly shouted and crouched down to hide her body.
“No-nothing. Well. Thank goodness… you didn’t notice…”
Higashira murmured something incomprehensible for a while, and finally lifted her head.
That face of hers seemed somewhat embarrassed.
“My nipples… showed a bit.”
Higashira giggled in a joking tone.
“Ehe… ehehe. Just a little bit. Did you get a little excited?—Owie!”
I silently smacked Higashira on the head.
To all the females, think about the line you’re not allowed to cross.
I left the room to allow Higashira to change.
Goodness… didn’t she know that there’s a code of etiquette even among friends? Even if it’s not a lover we’re talking about, there’s still a need to make yourself presentable.
…Well, even if I wanted to say so, I probably went a little overboard when I turned the tables on her—of course, I did explain to her that I didn’t really mean it.
I leaned my back against the wall, and looked up at the ceiling. I really felt restless just by standing in the hallway of someone else’s house. Her family’s supposed to be home any minute now—no, actually, it’d be a bigger trouble if she actually told me nobody else’s going to be home.
I heard the door open along with a voice, and I was startled..
Someone entered through the front door next to me…or rather, returned.
I didn’t need to think about who it was.
“Isana~. Are you awake~? —Oh?”
The woman spotted me standing in the hallway, and raised her eyebrows.
She was slender and tall, and looked like she belonged in Takarazuka.
She wore slender pants, had a straight back, thin arms and legs, and didn’t seem to have the violent personality Higasira spoke of. Given her boyish short hair though, I got a glimpse of her personality.
Yuni-san already looked young, but she looked even younger—nobody would doubt if she was said to be Higashira’s older sister. I never heard that Higashira has a sibling though.
“…Sorry to bother you.”
Anyway, I greeted that woman—who’s most likely Higashira’s mother.
Higashira’s mother (assumed) frowned, “Hmm?” leaned over, and I instinctively leaned back a little.
“Are you … by any chance… Mizuto-kun?”
“Y-Yes, I’m Mizuto Irido.”
She actually addressed a complete stranger as ‘omae’.
I was overwhelmed by an unspeakable pressure, and looked back at her eyes with a mystified look. She’s about as tall as me.
Higashira’s mother (assumed) tilted her head.
“Well, it’s weird…why would a friend of Isana be so polite to actually introduce himself to someone he just met?”
What’s with that bias?
“The ‘Mizuto-kun’ that Isana spoke of is an unsociable, mean loner of a guy, not a handsome chap like you.”
“Oy, Higashira! What kind of rumors are you spreading!?”
I could hear a frantic voice from beyond the door.
A few seconds later, the door opened, and Higashira poked her face out. She’s still in her nightwear that was her T-shirt, but I could see a bra strap peeking out from her loose collar. I guess she’s wearing underwear, thank goodness—no, wait, I could still see it.
“What are you doing—ah, mom.”
Higashira’s mother (confirmed) looked down at her daughter with squinted eyes.
“Where’s the ‘welcome home’?”
“Welcome home. Mother!”
Higashira suddenly raised her hand and said it like an oath.” Good,” nodded mama Higashira affirmatively. What is this? Army?
Mama Higashira pointed her thumb at me.
“Isana. Let me ask you something. Who’s this guy?”
“This guy? Really?”
“Really. I said he has a very cute face, didn’t I?”
I’ve always heard that she would speak in polite language to everyone, but I never thought she would do so to her family too? It’s really weird.
Higashira’s mother sized me up—ahh, it’s really troublesome.
“I’m sorry. Can I ask you a question?”
“I’d like to know your name.”
“Yes. Otherwise, I’ll have to call you ‘Aunty’.”
I really didn’t think it would be appropropriate to call this person ‘aunty’, and I didn’t mean anything else when I said that. Mama Higashira beamed in amusement.
“Heh, an interesting man.”
She said a line that was seemingly derived from a shoujo manga.
“My name is written as Nagi Tora. Do you know what the kanji is?”
“Nagitora… Nagi as in lull in the sea, and tora, tiger?”
“How do you read that?”
It’s not feminine to read it as Nagitora.
“… Natora. I guess.”
As soon as I answered, Mama Higashira—Natora, smiled at me, and slapped me on the shoulder.
“Well~ hahaha! Sorry for doubting you, Mizuto-kun! You’re not what I imagined!”
“Haa…I don’t really mind.”
“You’re quite the quick thinker! You managed to get my name right at once. I guess you’re probably the 5th one or so who got it.”
The ‘probably’ was as ambiguous as it could be. It’s true that her name was a little weird, but it’s not as bad as those fancy, glittery names. Just to note, the only reason why I could associate Nagi as the lull of the sea was because the daughter’s name was somewhat related to the sea. (‘Isana’ is an ancient name for a whale).
“And you’re rather polite for a brat! I’m rather fond of you, Mizuto-kun! You’re too good for Isana!”
“Thanks for that.”
I just need you to stop slapping me on the shoulder.
“Thank goodness, Mizuto-kun~. If mom doesn’t like you, you might be hammered to paste.”
“Isana, don’t disparage me in front of others. I’d have just sent him flying out with a kick and ended it at that.”
What’s the difference between that and beating the crap out of me?
“…Anyway Isana. What’s with the appearance?You greet your guest like that?”
“Ehh? That’s fine. I’m not going out anyway.”
Higashira’s wearing a T-shirt and shorts, and pursed her lips unhappily.
Yes. Go on mother, tell her what’s common sense.
Natora crossed her arms and inspected her daughter’s outfit.
“… No. I was wrong. You’ll just wear this for today.”
What? What’s acceptable? We got a loose slouchy collar slipping down to her shoulders and exposing her bra straps here, you know?
My questions went unanswered. Natora-san started walking down the hallway.
“Isana, you haven’t eaten anything, right? It’s late, but here’s lunch. Mizuto-kun, you probably ate at home, so have a snack.”
“Ah, yes, sorry to trouble you.”
“Huh, that’s silly of you. You’re the first friend she ever invited here. Why shouldn’t I care?”
Natora-san grinned heartily. If I were a woman, I too might have fallen for her dashing look, but in any case, she seemed to be giving orders whenever she spoke…
Higashira and I followed Natora-san down the end of the hallway.
It was a spacious living and dining room, and there’s a large veranda at the back, with laundry drying unprotected.
“Isana, your lunch today is oyakodon. Sit quietly and wait.”
Natora-san entered the kitchen, and Higashira went to the sofa in the living room and plopped onto it. She looked at me, and patted the seat next to her, so I sat there.
Higashira looked into my face.
“Your greeting was a great success.”
“Looks like it…well, it’s better than being hated.”
“You can come to my house anytime from now on!”
“I’ll think about it if you dress decently.”
I said without looking at Higashira’s face. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to avoid the chest that was completely exposed beneath the collar of that T-shirt.
Higashira grumbled, “Ehh? I can’t be bothered to change my clothes though…” Well, I could understand what she was thinking, but I would hope she had a basic sense of shame, as a person.
But still, it’s amazing that she would actually allow her own daughter to dress up like that. What kind of education’s that? I guess Higashira’s naivete was largely due to her home environment.
And while we’re discussing the new releases at the end of the month, Natora-san came out of the kitchen.
“Here you go. Eat.”
A bowl of oyakodon was placed in front of Higashira. Surprisingly, I should say, Higashira didn’t even say ‘itadakimasu’, just grabbed the bowl, and started chomping away. It was like a real dog eating food.
“This one’s yours. Do have some.”
Natora-san said and put a wooden plate in the middle of the table. There were cookies.
Higashira spoke while ignoring the rice grains on her lips..
“Ah, those? The ones made yesterday.”
“Sorry they’re not freshly baked. But well. I’m sure it’s good enough. I guess.”
“Did you make it yourself?”
“It’s a hobby. Life without fun isn’t interesting after all.”
This character’s hobby is baking? …. That surprised me, but the capricious way she acted was somewhat cool. The fact that she’s not influenced by how others viewed her seemed to be a common trait with her daughter Higashira.
I thanked her, and tasted the cookies (they’re delicious). Natora-san sat down in front of me.
“Alright, Mizuto-kun. Once again, thank you for taking care of my daughter.”
“Huh? Mizuto-kun, shouldn’t that be ‘no no, I’m the one who had been in her care’ …?”
“No no, I’m the one who had been taking care of her.”
“Huh huh!? That’s wrong!? You shouldn’t be speaking in the passive context!?”
“Haha! Seemed like she really gave you a hard time. Thank you very much.”
Natora-san folded her legs and chomped on a cookie. She basically ate it like a rice cracker.
“Isana always had zero sense of cooperation. It’s better than her being just a common mob character, but this mother’s been worried because she never had a friend. You know how happy I was when Isana beamed away and introduced you?”
“I-I wasn’t beaming…”
“You were… ah, well, you weren’t beaming, you were giving a dumb grin. That really disgusted me, you know!”
“That’s terrible! I’m calling abuse!”
Natora-san laughed heartily. Their family really seemed to get along well.
“As far as I know. Mizuto-kun, you’re the only one who’s been so kind as to take care of my unpredictable daughter. I guess you two must be on the same wavelength. What do you think? Eh?”
“… It’s true that to me, I’ve never met anyone who I got along with as well as Higashira. I’ve never had any friends either.”
“Wa-wait, Mizuto-kun…I’m a little embarrassed…”
“Uuu~” Higashira groaned. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s just a fact.
“Haha!” Natora-san laughed heartily and slapped her own knee.
“Alright! Get married, you two!”
My brain couldn’t compute.
Both Higashira and I were stunned for a moment.
Natora-san grinned to herself.
“So, Mizuto-kun. I heard you’re the top honor student in your class, especially in that prep school. That’s really impressive. Isana’s never going to meet anyone as impressive as you. So please accept her.”
“Is there a need to be surprised? It’s natural for a mother who cares for her child. I’m a good judge of character, you know. I know you could make my daughter happy. Marry Isana. Hurry up. As soon as you’re eighteen.”
I recoiled from the pressure, and then, I thought.
I quickly whispered to Higashira next to me.
“(Hey, Higashira…you didn’t tell her?)”
Higashira confessed her feelings to me. And I rejected her.
Maybe Natora-san didn’t know at all?
“(I-I couldn’t possibly talk about it. …)”
“(I-If I say that…I think she might kill you, Mizuto-kun…”
I shut up.
Then. I saw Natora-san’s piercing eyes looking straight at me.
Unpleasant sweat trickled down.
I hadn’t seen how violent Natora-san was, but… the pressure clearly implied “If you make my daughter sad, I’ll kill you.”
She seemed so rough with her daughter… but she’s quite the idiot parent too.
I couldn’t say anything.
If I did, I’d die.
I’ve already dumped her…but I couldn’t say that in this situation.
“Hmm? What do you think? I don’t think it’s a bad idea if you aren’t opposed to her.”
“No. It’s just that…I talk to her as a friend.”
“That’s fine. What’s wrong with marrying your friend? Well, you might have your hands full with this daughter of mine, but don’t worry, I guarantee she got the best body I’ve ever seen.”
Natora-san gave a thumbs up. “Ehehe.” And Higashira too looked embarrassed. What’s there to be embarrassed about? She just berated you.
What’s wrong with marrying a friend, huh…
To be honest, even if I had to compromise, I wouldn’t mind sharing a room…
Natora-san snorted and crunched on a cookie.
“You’re that kind of person, aren’t you? I guess you’re the type who doesn’t want to go through the trouble of falling in love.”
“…Yea, I guess. That’s basically it.”
Natora-san sighed deeply. She might be disappointed, but that’s what I really thought. She’d be really angry if I tried to bluff my way through.
“You don’t get it at all. That’s why I don’t like brats—in fact, the more you think of it, the earlier you should get married.”
“Listen up, Mizuto-kun. Married people are basically for those people who want to wash their hands from the messy world of love.”
The unexpected words caused me to stifle a gasp.
“If I wear a ring on my left ring finger, no one will try to harass me, and I don’t have to worry about my family nagging away like ‘Don’t you have a boyfriend?’ ‘When are you getting married?’ It’s easier when you’re married, right? Those who are married don’t have to deal with those hopeless people who think every human should fall in love.”
Natora-san smiled wryly.
“I don’t deny marriage out of love , but if you ask me, it’s basically gambling. The person you fall in love with doesn’t always have the same lifestyle as you. Look around you for example. Those who dated in middle school mostly broke up in high school, and those who dated in high school broke up in college, right? Emotions alone aren’t going to ensure that you’re going to be with your partner for the rest of your life—if you want to marry, choose someone you can get along with. Take it as an advice from someone who experienced this.”
“You parents seem rather close, huh?”
“Yeah. We still play MonHun together.”
“But I feel that dad’s always getting scolded by you..”
“That’s because he forgot to bring the large barrel bomb.”
Gahahaha! Natora-san laughed like a pirate.
So those who started dating in middle school broke up in high school, huh…?
Well, that made sense. Love’s just a passing fancy. It wouldn’t decide the partner in life.
And once married, I wouldn’t have to worry about being distracted…
It made sense.
Higashira and I might not be lovers, but as husband and wife, we might be able to live comfortably—I guess it’d be an undeniable fact.
“Well…I did tell you to hurry up, but I think you need some time to think about it. You’re a high school student, still in a stage where you’ll only think with your lower body.”
Did she think of high school kids as some lowly lifeform or something?
Higashira’s oyakodon was empty. She licked off the grains of rice from her lips.
Natora-san looked at Higashira and pointed at me. He pointed at me.
“You. Go cage this guy up.”
“Eh~? I’d do it if I could.”
“Whatcha said? Damn you~ why did you think I gave you those big tits for? Use them.”
“Mom, you don’t know how iron-willed Mizuto-kun is. Your back isn’t the one hurting..”
“Of course he’s holding back, you idiot.”
“The neighbors aren’t home right? I’ll go out for a while. If you’re too scared to do anything, I’ll kill you.”
Higashira groaned in disgust.
Well, I started to feel numb about that, but what should I even say to this mother and daughter? I felt like I was isekai’d into a world where common sense was different.
Natora-san got up from the sofa.
“Now then, Mizuto-kun, take your time. Our walls are rather thick, so you can make some noises.”
“…Don’t worry about that.”
“Don’t make me repeat myself. Of course I care, you know?”
Natora-san smirked and actually left.
We were left behind. For a while. We spent some time eating cookies. I felt that Higashira next to me was a little aware of me, and didn’t ask me for a lap pillow as usual.
“… Ah… Mizuto-kun.”
Higashira stammered as if at a loss for words.
“You don’t have to worry about what mom said, okay?”
“She’s quick to judge everything. Once she makes up her mind, she will have order. “
” …Erm… shall we return to the room?”
I looked aside and saw Higashira looking up at me.
Beneath my eyes, I could see the white of her T-shirt, the skin tone of her chest, and a light blue cloth at the bottom of my vision.
—Of course he’s holding back, you idiot.
Yeah. That’s right.
I didn’t dump you because I didn’t find you attractive.
I recalled what happened back then.
Higashira confessed. I rejected her.
—Sorry Higashira—I can’t have you as my girlfriend.
When Higashira heard my answer, she just stood there in silence for a while.
I couldn’t talk to her. I couldn’t walk away. All I could do was watch quietly, and I thought that was all I had to do.
In fact, I already resolved myself.
Higashira and I might not be friends forever.
Just like Ayai back in middle school, we might end up as something beyond being just friends.
And when that happened.… I surely would end up making a choice that Higashira would hate me for.
I was really delighted that she was fond of me…but that seat in my heart couldn’t be given up to anyone else..
For me, there was no doubt to my choice.
It was either to let the person in my heart cry, or to make Higashira cry—that was my dilemma.
Even if it meant wallowing in self-loathing, unable to forgive myself, that was the only choice I could make.
Higashira…didn’t cry at all.
She just stood there for a while, her head lowered—and then when she lifted her head again.
She just showed a relaxed smile.
—Thank you very much for listening… Let’s go home, Mizuto-kun.
She acted as usual.
I was stunned to see Higashira act like how she was the previous day.
Higashira smiled deceptively at my stupid question.
She grabbed her right elbow with her left hand, like she was protecting herself.
—I can’t say…that I’m fine…I’m just scared of being alone.
That was the first time I saw Isana Higashira look hurt.
If it had been someone else who had hurt her. I would never forgive that. I would do anything to make the perpetrator regret it.
And because of that.
When I realized that I was the one who did it, I realized that I had to be punished.
I felt I had to take responsibility for rejecting Higashira.
So, even when she made the crazy request to go home with me right after her confession was rejected, I felt I had to go along with her no matter what.
I left the school gate with Higashira that day.
We stopped by a bookstore as usual. She said she wanted that new series, and we talked about the same old stuff.
I thought it would be the best solae to her.
And when we parted, Higashira said,
—-Well… thank you so much for today.
For the first time, that’s when…Higashira’s voice trembled.
It was a faint, faint tremor.
But that said enough.
It showed me how desperate Higashira tried to keep her emotions in check when we went back from school and browsed through light novels, and how desperate she was to keep our relationship alive—
Maybe it’s her personality.
Maybe it’s a trait.
Maybe it’s because she never really interacted with others, and didn’t know how to control her weak facial muscles, that she never showed it on her face.
She’s completely unlike me who threw tantrums over trivial things, the complete opposite of me who wanted to go back to the past but never tried.
Her feeble appearance looked so glamorous to me.
It was so precious, I wanted to protect her at all costs.
So—before Higashira turned away.
Before she trudged on her lonely journey home.
I grabbed her arm.
Higashira was startled. She looked up at me.
The tears remained in her eyes, and shimmered faintly.
And I told her to prevent them from flowing out.
—What’s bad about being friends?
—I guess lovers will break up after a few years. Like, we might not keep in touch once we enter college. Compared to that—
—Wouldn’t friends be much better?
It might just be me arguing semantics.
It’s probably just a bunch of nonsense to belittle love and fluff friendship.
But I needed an excuse.
I needed a reason for Higashira not to cry.
—I might not be able to kiss you, but I can hug your shoulders.
—You may forget your makeup, and your clothes might not be cute, but I won’t get angry at that. I don’t need you to have any qualification or effort to be next to me.
I couldn’t finish my words.
Before I could, Higashira looked down, and tugged at the chest of my uniform.
—-Please stop. Please. …
—If you keep saying this…I’ll just love you more …!
I neither denied or affirmed her words.
It was up to Higashira herself to decide whether she should do so..
But, I promised her one thing.
—I’ll always be the me you’re familiar with.
Our relationship wouldn’t change just because she confessed.
Our relationship wouldn’t change just because I rejected her.
It’s the only way I could make it up to her resolution that I could think of.
A few seconds later … I thought I heard sniffling, and Higashira looked up.
That face looked as though everything before was a dream, so carefree.
—Now then, that’s how it is. Please continue to take care of me!
Even I was shocked, and horrified at how quickly she changed moods.
Even I wondered if she actually forced herself to smile.
She waved happily, and hurried back home. It was then that I understood, this was Isana Higashira.
Surely I squinted when I watched her walk away.
As though I had seen something dazzling.
Ah, yeah, I wasn’t going to fool her about it.
Because it’s not a passing fancy.
—I believe in Isana Higashira.
It’s not love. It’s faith.
We returned to Higashira’s room, and pulled some distance between us.
Higashira sat on her bed. I stood by the study desk.
The bed creaked, and Higashira’s eyes clearly blatantly swimming. She fiddles with her bangs. She’s the one who told one not to take it so seriously, yet she was clearly jittery.
She jumped the moment I called her, and frantically flailed her hands.
It’s funny. Let’s continue to tease her a little.
“You’re not going to do anything?”
“E? …Ah, do-do I take off my clothes now?”
“You don’t have enough cards to play.”
Even if she wanted to capture me, that should be the last card, the trump card to be played.
Auuu~. Higashira felt sideways on her bed, and groaned.
“I can’t do it after all… and I was dumped because we couldn’t do it. …”
“Don’t worry about it. Even if it’s another girl, I wouldn’t be able to do it either.”
“Well, I guess. Maybe I hit the jackpot just by inviting you into my room, Mizuto-kun..
Absolutely. Even when I was in a relationship, I wouldn’t have entered her room if not for the cold.
I tried to relieve Higashira’s tension by looking at the desk. It didn’t seem appropriate for me to look around someone else’s room so carelessly, but since Higashira is always looking around every corner of my room, I guess we’re even.
There was a tablet PC, several light novels, and a dusty headset and other things on Higashira’s desk. Clearly she wasn’t studying at all. Did she finish her assignments?
There’s a loose-leaf notebook buried in there.
Her study notebook? But there’s no text on it…
I was curious, so I moved the light novel atop it. “Ah!” Higashira suddenly blurted.
Too bad for her, it’s too late.
I saw what was drawn on that loose-leaf.
Yes—it was a drawing.
It was an illustration.
It appeared to be an illustration of the heroine of the light novel that was on the loose-leaf.
“Hmm… I see.”
“Arrrgh! Don’t look don’t look don’t look!”
“Don’t be so hasty. I’ve already guessed that you’re writing illustrations and novels.”
“Eh!? You saw what’s on the tablet?”
“So the novel’s stored in the tablet?”
“Argh! I dug my own grave~…!!!”
Higashira pressed her face against the pillow and screamed in agony.
In the meantime, I pulled out the loose-leaf and examined the illustration carefully.
“You’re not tracing…not bad if you’re actually drawing it from scratch.?”
“Not at all…no matter how many times I redraw, the arms, legs and face look weird…”
“Hmmm, I can’t really tell as an amateur though.”
At the very least, I’d say she’s at least good enough to get glances in art class.
Higashira rolled about on the bed.
“That’s not true at all~! I can’t draw like the godlike illustrators on social media!
“You want to be a godlike illustrator?”
Higashira suddenly got up and stared right at me.
“Listen up Mizuto-kun—if I can’t draw well, I can’t draw ecchi.”
“If I draw badly, it won’t be erotic! If I don’t have the skills, I can’t draw illustrations of humans getting together!”
This underage girl’s blatantly breaking the law.
“Why do you want to draw erotic pictures so badly…?”
“Because I want to see the nipples of my favorite heroine! There’s not a lot of light novel fan art, so I have to draw them myself!”
It’s rare to find a woman who’s so honest about her adolescent sexual desires.
“Well, I couldn’t just dismiss that as a motivation though. I can’t advise you since I’m an amateur myself, but since you’ve made it this far, you should do your best.”
“Ehh~? But I need to practice drawing and stuff if I want to be good at this.”
“People say the basics are important in everything after all.”
“But don’t you find it boring to draw apples and stuff? Just looking at them is boring enough.”
“It’s not like there’s a rule that you have to draw apples when you practice. Can’t you just choose something you like and draw it instead?”
“Mmm…, then, Mizuto-kun.”
She said it like it’s a matter of fact, and for a moment, I couldn’t react..
Higashira tilted her head puzzledly.
“You said I should draw something I like, right? I’ll draw you then, Mizuto-kun. Please help me~”
“No… well, not like you can.”
Should I say she’s really carefree, or that she didn’t hesitate at all…whatever, I wouldn’t be able to take this if I get rattled every time Higashira did this.
Higashira got out of her bed, and picked up a tablet PC on her desk. She’s not going to draw analog, but digital.
“Please sit on this chair~.”
She pulled a chair from beneath her desk, offered it to me, and returned to her bed.
I sat down in the chair, Higashira sat in a triangle, and put her tablet on her lap.
“Can you draw in that posture?”
“Yep. Please don’t move too much~.”
She picked up the stylus, glanced at me repeatedly, and began to draw.
“I’ve never had anyone else as a model before. I’m kind of nervous.”
“So you always draw everything in your imagination? That’s kinda impressive.”
“Well actually, I do often draw what I see. The human body doesn’t make sense to me when I try to draw it.”
“Ahh, so you look for model images on the Internet?”
“Even without that, I do have my own body.”
“Like, I pose, take photos of myself, and then look at them…do you want to look?”
“Thank goodness. They’re all uncensored.”
What the hell was she trying to draw? Speaking of which, I shouldn’t ask..
“Back then, I used that mirror there for selfies so that I could get reference materials, but ever since Minami-san taught me, I’ve been using it more often for its original purpose.”
How would Higashira look like on the mirror by the wall…I tried to imagine.
She’s alone in the room, making a scandalous pose, pointing her phone at a mirror—
—Oh goodness. Stop stop stop, don’t think anymore.
I had a severe sense of guilt whenever I had Higashira in such imaginations—probably because I actually had the chance to do it, and I felt that I was denying myself by not choosing to do so..
If I retracted my answer to that confession at this moment, I was sure Higashira would happily accept it.
If that day actually came—I shouldn’t be retracting on my decision with evil intentions.
“Nurufufufu, Mizuto-kun’s body…”
…Well, she’s the embodiment of evil though..
“You have a really slim and beautiful figure. Your fingers are so thin. It’s like you’re straight out of a shoujo manga.”
“I’m just lacking in muscles. I’ll be all bare bones if I take off my clothes.”
“Nnnnnmmm… I’ll add some onto you then.”
“… Hey wait a sec. I’m wearing clothes, okay?”
“It’s hard to draw clothes.”
“It’s fine it’s fine! I’m not going to draw those stuff that requires mosaics!…it’s a different story if you’ll show me the data though.”
“Like hell I’ll show you!”
Higashira clicked her tongue regretfully. She’s for real…
Even while talking, Higashira continued to move the stylus. She seemed really happy about it. Speaking of which, Yume too was the same when she took photos of me as a model. What’s fun about having me make such poses?
“…Y’all really have your weird fetishes…”
I muttered away, and Higashira looked up.
“This is my first love. I don’t know what’s so weird about that.”
“So don’t say it outright. You’ll scare me.”
“So, Mizuto-kun… Have you ever had a girlfriend?”
Higashira asked in the tone of a chat between friends, and her face was already directed at the tablet screen, the stylus showed no signs of stopping.
You don’t care? Naturally, I didn’t ask such a question, since I knew Isana Higashira wasn’t a narrow-minded person.
“…Nope, I don’t have anyone I like.”
“Ehh~? Why are you lying? I remember—when I confessed to you, you said. ‘There’s someone on the seat inside my heart’.”
“I thought that was a weird thing to say. Doesn’t that mean you have someone you love?”
Till this point, I never paid attention to how accurately Higashira understood my answer.
Maybe Higashira never cared about the details; that was the faint hope I had.
But, well… that couldn’t possibly happen.
“…Nope, I don’t have anyone I like… right now.”
“…Do you really want to hear about it?”
“I want to! I’ve always been a little interested in this! “
“A little? You should be more interested about it. I mean, you could have asked me at the confession.”
“I wouldn’t be in the mood. I had a heartbreak right before I succeeded!”
“No wait, that does seem to be the case…well, I shouldn’t try to buff you here. I’ll say this first though, don’t get angry, okay?”
Higashira tilted her head, and I steeled my resolve.
“Back in middle school—I had a girlfriend.”
I never told anyone else of this till now.
The fact that was sealed away came up from my mouth.
Higashira’s stylus stopped.
Gigigigi. She lifted her face like a cranky machine.
Higashira opened her mouth with a 999ms ping lag.
Higashira stared at me with mouth agape, like a fish.
Grgrgr, she retreated on the bed, and hit her back against the wall.
“A-an o-otaku like Mizuto-kun! Actually! Go-got a girlfriend…! A girlfriend…!
“Says the one who confessed to me.”
“… Ah. You’re right, ….”
Higashira calmed down at once.
I thought she would be angry. Higashira always seemed to be on a common wavelength as me—and definitely assumed I was like her, having spent my days in middle school all alone. I never told her about this because I couldn’t bear to betray that expectation…
“I see …I’m somewhat shocked…that you got a girlfriend, Mizuto-kun…”
“I’m glad it’s only ‘somewhat’.”
“I thought it would be some kind of creepy story where you’ll go all ‘I can’t forget the girl who lent me an eraser’…”
“What do you think the guy you fell for is like?”
Wouldn’t she be in trouble if she had such a person on a pedestal because of this little act?
Higashira slowly continued to move her stylus.
“So you ‘had one’…which means you broke up with her…?”
“Yeah. When we graduated… actually, we were practically broken up half a year before then.”
“Woah~~…it feels a little disgusting to hear that from you, Mizuto-kun.”
“If you really hate it, I’ll stop.”
“Yep, please stop.”
Shouldn’t this be the part where she’d say, ‘No, it’s not.
“Hmm… I see~… So you rejected me because of this ex-girlfriend?”
“That’s… right, I guess.”
“In short. You’re still thinking about your ex, aren’t you?”
“You still have a lot of regrets on your mind, don’t you~?”
“…N-not at all…”
For a moment.
Higashira’s eyes looked sad and downcast as she looked down.
“… You really like her, huh?”
It was obviously an envious look.
She was envious of the person whom she didn’t know, and yearned to be such an existence too.
“I’m sure you’re very kind and caring to her, Mizuto-kun… like a hero in a shoujo manga, always helping her out.”
The stylus stopped again.
She lifted her head with a nostalgic look.
“…… ah ……”
And she let out a sigh.
“… It feels creepy…”
This shouldn’t be the part where she should revisit the bitterness of her lost love.
“But really, it’s creepy. It’s OOC for the handsome Mizuto-kun to be kind to a girl.”
“That’s probably true looking at it now…!”
“How about you try it on me (LOL).”
“You’re sounding like a kid who likes to bully others!”
Try it if you dare! Don’t end up falling in love with me again, you idiot!
Though I was modelling, I couldn’t just remain quiet after being taunted like this. I stood up from the chair, and sat down next to Higashira on the bed.
Higashira continued to look at her tablet, and I reached for her face, gently brushing her bangs aside.
” Let me have a closer look.”
I recalled the various events of the past and leaned my face closer to Higashira’s, making a gentle voice.
“Well, you’re so cute and cuddly… don’t hide it so much.”
Higashira lifted her head, looked into my eyes, and her eyes sparkled..
She burst out laughing, covering her mouth.
“Aha! Ahahahahaha! Ahahahahahahahahahahaha!”
I reached out to stop Higashira, who was rolling on the bed, cupping her belly.
Now that I calmed down and looked at it, it all felt like a joke! I was so serious back then though! Ahhh I wanna die!
“Hiii~…wheeze…ah~, that was funny. Please do it again (LOL).”
“Like hell I will!”
“I knew you’re more suited to be a dishonest character, Mizuto-kun, but that’s great for an ASMR. Please use that tone when you’re going to do ecchi things.”
“Like hell I will!”
Pfft, Higashira continued to wheeze as she slipped closer to me.
She put her hand on my shoulder, her lips to my ear.
“(…Mizuto-kun, you’re cooler than I thought, you know?)”
“Ah, did I get it right? I see. So that’s how your ex was like. It’s really a stupid conversation.”
“Shut up! All couples are idiots!”
“Nurufufuu, now, next up…”
“That’s enough! It’s disgusting!”
I pried Higashira off, grabbed her by the shoulders, and pinned her to the bed.
“Ah!” Higashira’s eyes widened pretentiously as I pinned her.
“Since you had a girlfriend… did you ever …?”
“… No, I never got that far.”
“Ah~ I see~ so that’s why you still have regrets about her…”
“No! Look, I guess I got to explain this to you. I rejected you because I thought of every single reason, and not because I’m still in love with her—”
Higashira turned her head to the side as if something pulled her.
And I, who pinned her down on the bed, I looked in the same direction.
The door was slightly ajar.
Two eyes peeked quietly through the gap, while we’re on the bed.
It was Natora-san.
“…Well done Isana. but wear what you have to wear.”
Natora-san said, and tossed a little box through the gap.
That thing—to put it mildly… was a box of nighttime etiquette bags. In other words…
“It’s too early to get pregnant, you know. So, good luck with that.”
Natora-san said, and closed the door.
I didn’t have the time to excuse myself.
Higashira curiously stared at the small box that was tossed in… Huh? Did she….?
She slipped out from beneath me, crawled on the bed, and picked up that little box.
“What’s this-… Ah!? Is this?”
Higashira tilted her head as she inspected the small box, and happily showed it to me.
“Look at this, Mizuto-kun! This is it! It’s the one you wear on your dick! I’ve never seen it before! Wow~. So this is what it looks like. Woah~…”
“… I guess.”
Higashira didn’t hear my awkward reply and started to open the box. Before I could stop her, she snapped off some of the connected square bags.
“Mizuto-kun. Look! … Ahmm, let’s put it on the cover of the doujins~!
“Stop it, you idiot!”
I slapped Higashira’s head like it was fastest finger first, and the square bags slipped from her mouth.
How many times do I have to teach you this lesson, young girl!?
“See you later. Bye.”
“You could have stayed for the night though~? That’s what my mom said.”
“I’m not so crazy to stay at a house I’ve never been to before.”
I said to Higashira as she walked me to her apartment entrance.
After all that, Natora-san practically forced me to have dinner, and even got me to shower. At this rate, I wouldn’t be able to go home, so I hurriedly escaped.
Higashira was dressed only in her nightgown and a cardigan. She rubbed his arms lightly.
“Please come again.”
“Yes, I will…when there’s no one else around, I hope.”
“Eh~~. No~! You perv~!”
“That’s a stupid embarrassed look.”
Higashira moved her outstretched cardigan sleeve to her mouth and giggled.
“Let’s play a game or something next time. Mom has a horror game, and I want to see you get scared, Mizuto-kun.”
“I’m rather strong at them though.”
“Who knows if that’s the case. Will you say the same thing when someone cuts off your arm in VR?”
“Seriously, you have VR?…Now I’m a little interested.”
“I have gamer parents after all. There’s no way I could have bought such expensive things with my allowance!”
Higashira bobbed and swayed to express her excitement. Upon seeing that, my lips curled slightly.
I guessed as long as I remained who I was, and Higashira remained as Higashira.
Nothing would change. Whether I confessed or rejected her, whether she confessed or rejected me, nothing would nothing.
We didn’t lose ourselves in a moment of folly.
“Okay. Send me a LINE message when you get home.”
“Okay. I’ll get back to you when I feel like it.”
“You say that~, but don’t you always have a 100% reply rate~?”
“That’s because if I don’t read your message, you’ll spam crying emojis, right?”
Nihehe. Higashira giggled.
That’s fine for us.
It was around 8pm when I heard the front door open.
Dinner was over, and I was restless in the living room all day, so I hurried out into the hallway.
At the front door, I saw Mizuto taking off his shoes.
“…Hm? Ah. I’m home.”
“Welcome back …Not!”
“Where have you been all this time? You said you were coming back after dinner, and mom’s just leering away, unwilling to tell me anything!”
It’s the first time this happened to Mizuto.
I initially thought he was just hanging out with Kawanami-kun, and went out for dinner, but I couldn’t shake the bad feeling.
Mom did grin away like that after all, like there’s some meaning to that..
Mizuto ignored my frustration and walked briskly down the hallway.
“I went to Higashira’s house.”
He said simply.
“I mean, that Higashira’s been hanging out at our place, and her parents said I should say hello to them. I didn’t expect them to make me eat there too,–ah, yeah.”
While I froze, Mizuto quickly walked past me, and opened the door to the living room.
“Yuni-san, dad, are you there?”
“Oh, Mizuto-kun, welcome back. What’s up?”
“Higashira’s parents want to drop by for a visit. They want to know when’s a good time.”
“Oh! Sure. Wait a minute. Let’s see when I’m free..”
Mom started checking her schedule on her phone, and anxiety seized my body.
“Wha- Wha- Wha- Wha- Wha- Wha- Wha- Wha- …!”
I grabbed Mizuto’s shoulder from behind, and he turned around in bewilderment.
“Wh-what are you thinking…!? Did you forget what mom thinks of Higashira-san now …?”
They assumed that Higashira-san was Mizuto’s girlfriend.
If that misunderstanding was to spread to Higashira-san’s family, …!
Mizuto looked away as though he wanted to bluff me..
“Actually, about that…”
“Eh? What? What? I don’t want to hear it!”
“Maybe it’s…a lost cause.”
Mizuto’s tone clearly was one of resignation.
What do you mean? I didn’t need to ask that.
In other words, Higashira-san’s family already recognized their relationship…!
—What’s going on!?
Why did it seem like Higashira-san’s making further progress than the me who’s living together with him!?