In hindsight, that date was a perfect opportunity.
It was right before summer vacation. I was invited out by Ayai on our rest day.
Back then, we could somehow have a casual conversation. We basically had a verbal agreement, and really wondered how we could go back to how it was before.
At this point, I realized that it was the last best chance.
Ayai really put in so much effort to dress up. She was dazzling all over, and clearly she was implying that she wanted to patch up with me.
It’s just that simple.
What I needed to do was just that simple.
But, why? I just couldn’t say it. I had been a natural the entire time, and at this point, there’s no need for me to be embarrassed. But…I just couldn’t voice out the words. There just happened to be something unspeakable in my heart, just preventing me from saying what I had to say with all its might.
I just needed to say that one line.
“Okay~, have a good day!”
With mom sending us off, Mizuto and I walked out the door.
Mizuto was waiting for me at the entrance, and when he saw me lock the door, he started to walk quickly. He didn’t seem to care about me at all. How rude. Well, I expected that, so I wore shoes that were relatively easy to walk in today.
As usual, Mizuto was dressed in a crude getup of hoodie and chinos. For me, I didn’t put much thought into my outfit, so I wore a normal blouse and a normal long skirt, with a stole draped over my shoulders because it seemed autumn was coming.
We were both in casual clothes, out together, and it could be said that we’re on a date. There’s no need to hide it from mom and Mineaki-san this time though.
Today, we’re going to Madoka-san’s university to check out the costumes that are to be used for the culture festival.
I stood next to Mizuto and said,
“Is Madoka-san’s university pretty far away?”
“In terms of distance, it’s pretty far. But if you take the train, it won’t take too long.”
“We can use the culture festival budget to pay for transport.”
“We’re not talking about money!”
I was reminded of the time when we went to shop for a gift during Mother’s Day, and I was sandwiched by Mizuto on a crowded train…there would be lots of tourists in Kyoto as it’s autumn, so I assumed it’ll be crowded …
It’s not a date.
It’s not a date, but—I was ordered by Akatsuki-san, at least.
—You hear me, Yume-chan? The culture festival is the perfect opportunity! You can build friendships when working during the preparation period, and then you can invite him out on a date on the day itself! In other words, …!
—In other words?
—There’ll be a surge in the number of girls who want to kiss Irido-kun!
—Well, there are rumors about Higashira-san though~. That might help to deter most of them, but I’m sure there will be some girls who don’t care about that.
—B-but…! There’s no way he would fall for a girl who just shows up…!
—Hello? Do you remember what happened with Higashira-san?
—Look, Yume-chan, you should take more initiative this time! Now that you’re a member of the executive committee, you can date Irido-kun without worrying about the rumors involving Higashira-san!
—So-so how do you powder him…? Or rather, what’s this about…? Scale powder…?
—Fufufu, I’ll tell you what this powder means.
—Basically, you seduce him—until he goes ‘does she like me’!
—…………What more do you want me to do when we already kissed…………?
—For that, well~… hang in there!
In the end, I was pretty much left to fend for myself, but Akatsuki-san did teach me her little tricks.
For example, I walked half a step closer than usual.
For example, I would touch his shoulder or hand casually whenever I feel like it.
For example, I would look into his eyes the moment when I talked to him.
It’s true that such gestures, if done by a person of the opposite sex, or someone you’re infatuated with, you might wonder if that person’s interested in you. …
—… Hey, Akatsuki-san, don’t mind if I ask you something.
—Have you…ever done this yourself?
—Akatsuki-san? Hello? Earth to Akatsuki-san?
Recently, I started to notice something.
Akatsuki-san always advised me on this and that at every turn. Her feedback’s valuable, and I was grateful for that…but when it came to love, she’s pretty much an amateur like me, even though she basically dated her childhood friend of a neighbour while they’re very familiar with each other….
No, well, it’s better than to believe someone who had no experience with men at all, right? But, skinship to get closer? She definitely never did it before, I guess?
Well, I wasn’t in the position to talk about other people’s experiences. My success back in middle school was really a windfall—even till today, I wondered how my confession actually worked. Since I was intending to surpass that success, I should try everything we could.
In any case, I tried to close the distance between us by half a step.
I sideyed his expression, but he didn’t seem to be paying attention to me.
Any healthy boy though will react to a girl when she’s within touching distance of your shoulder—so Akatsuki-san said.
Thinking about it, this level of closeness didn’t really matter.
After all, we’re already living under the same roof—I had to say that just walking shoulder to shoulder with him wasn’t really worth mentioning compared to that.
In fact—my heart wasn’t fluttering either..
I guess it’s not a good idea to walk too close either…
“Nothing…just a little dizzy due to the crowd.”
The future’s too bleak.
We took the subway to Kyoto station, then took the Nara line and changed to the Keihan train at Tofukuji. A few stops on the semi-express train would bring us to the closest station to Madoka-san’s university.
There was no way to get lost. We left the station, turned at the corner, and the campus entrance was ahead of us.
It was almost the middle of September, but summer vacation hadn’t ended for college students. I guess that’s why there were so few people passing by. We walked along the wall of an elementary school near the station.
“There’s an elementary school right near the university. … It’s not affiliated to the university, right, is it?”
“I don’t think there would be one. Maybe they aren’t related at all.”
“I didn’t know that schools could be clustered so close to each other. …”
“That being said, there’s a police academy right next to the campus. I believe.”
“What? A third school?
I’ve heard that there are many schools in Kyoto, but even I think there’s too many of them.
The gates were open. I looked around and stepped into the campus grounds for the first time. Woah, I’m in.
“You look suspicious. Feels like you’ll be arrested even though you didn’t do anything..”
“B-but, I usually don’t get a chance to enter a university!”
“It’s not like you’re enrolling. You’re just overreacting. …”
What!? Can’t you at least be as excited as me!?
Mizuto found a campus map and walked towards it without a care in the world. Honestly, I was more annoyed than depressed by his lack of care at all. We’re not on a date, but he’s way too uncaring!
I gave him a resentful (hyperbole) look, and looked at the map with him. If I remembered correctly, our meeting place with Madoka-san was—
“Ermm…ken? Shinkan? Was it?”
“Why do these buildings have all these complicated kanji names…?”
It didn’t really look the part, but this is a Buddhist university, and their names seemed to be derived from Buddhism. In this sense, it’s different from a middle school or a high school.
And while we’re all cross-eyed from looking at the campus map.
“Aah! You’re here!”
Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice from behind,
“Yo! You two~!”
I was startled and turned around.
When I turned around in surprise, I saw a girl with stylish glasses grinning mischievously.
She was wearing a light colored blouse and a soft long skirt. The girl’s appearance could only be described as innocent looking, and her large bust was held up by her blouse breasts. Clearly she was the girl I met in the countryside a month ago.
She is Mizuto’s—and my cousin.
“It’s been a month! How have you been~?”
“Yes, You’re still the same, Madoka-san….”
“Yes, as usual, Yume-chan…your clothes really clash with mine!”
I looked again, and realized that Madoka-san and I were wearing the same outfit today, almost as if we were paired up.
“So-sorry. I forgot about ….”
“That’s okay. You’re going to change clothes anyway. Nihihi!”
Madoka-san was the same as usual, and her fashion style showcased her cheerful character fully. Mizuto didn’t say a word, but I would have reacted the same back in middle school.
“It’s been a while, Mizuto-kun! How long has it been since we’ve seen each other outside the countryside?”
“…Who knows. Wasn’t it a funeral or something? ”
“Ah, I see, I see. Why, you’ve grown so big!”
Madoka-san, completely unfazed by Mizuto’s salty attitude, spoke like an old granny with a smile. Her height shouldn’t have changed since our encounter a month ago though.
“Well then, let’s get going~! The costumes are in the club room!”
Madoka-san naturally latched herself into my bosom and wrapped her arms around me. I felt as if my arms were swallowed by her ample breasts, and even as a woman myself, I nearly screamed in my heart.
The stiffness of her bra made my heart race. So this is the power of the F-cup…if that’s the case, how does Mizuto feel whenever Higashira-san latches her G cups onto him? How can he look so nonchalant? He doesn’t have a sex drive, does he?
I didn’t try to shake her off, and walked through the rather empty campus. As we crossed the square where the stage and café were set up, Madoka-san brought her face towards me.
“(Yume-chan, Yume-chan, what happened to that story?)”
“(That story is …)”
“(The story about how that girl called Higashira-san is Mizuto-kun’s girlfriend! The other relatives all believe it, but it’s a misunderstanding, right?)”
“(Yes…it is, but……)”
“(Woah, sounds like there’s another part to this story.)”
I kept an eye on Mizuto who was silently following us, and kept it short. The story about Mizuto and Higashira-san dating had spread not only to our relatives, but also to the school, and pretty much everyone had accepted this…
“(That’s, well, it’s kind of a…tough one.)”
She could only say that it’s tough.
“(So this time, you’re going to turn the tables while preparing for the culture festival? Not bad… ♪)”
“(W-well…it’s my friend’s idea.)”
“(Hohoo, looks like you have a pretty smart friend. I think we might get along.)”
It’s true that Akatsuki-san might get along well with the similarly sunny Madoka-san, but Madoka-san’s terrible at setting the mood. What’s with her confidence anyway?
We passed through the big main gate and went outside.
Apparently, the building where the club rooms were located was separate from the campus. We crossed the crosswalk and entered a beautiful building with a modern design.
“Madoka-san, are you a member of the drama club? Mom didn’t make it clear.”
“I’m not officially a member of any club. But my boyfriend is in a drama club, and I sometimes join as a helper. I guess I’m sort of an associate member?”
“Eh? Is it okay to borrow their costume?”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. I spoke to them. The club members are all my friends. They said it’s free as long as I return them.”
It’s amazing. “We’re all friends.” That’s a line only a true sunny character will say.
Nihihi, Madoka-san suddenly smiled and put her mouth to my ear.
“(Don’t use it for anything naughty, okay? You’ll get the costume dirty!)”
“(I-I wasn’t thinking of it until you mentioned…!)”
There’s no way we can do that!…If I could solve this by cosplay, I would have…uuu.
Madoka-san led us up some stairs.
As I walked down the hallway, I could hear some chatter and laughter beyond many doors. It’s an unusual atmosphere for me, but Madoka-san naturally ignored it, and we walked to the drama club room—was I correct? Should it be called the theater room instead…?—either way, she let us through.
It’s a messy room, with some manga magazines and empty plastic bottles left on the tables, and countless cardboard boxes piled up against the wall.
Ohhh…it does look like a club room after all!
“The costumes are in those cardboard boxes. Let’s open them and check them out.”
“Ehhh, …? Are you sure it’s okay to store them like this?”
“It’s probably not a good idea, but it’s very expensive to rent a closet~.”
While saying this, Madoka-san began to open a cardboard box with the word ‘costume scrawled on it with a magic marker.
I peeked into the box, and saw that it was filled with costumes that couldn’t just be called clothes. They’re to be used by the drama club after all, it’s expected.
“Hmm …, I thought it would be a bit more organized, but it’s really just stuffed in there. Yume-chan, Mizuto-kun, let’s split up and open it.”
Mizuto completely ignored my reply as he silently began to open the cardboard box. Can’t this guy be a little more sociable to his relative?
We needed costumes so that we could host a cosplay cafe. Thus, a clear idea concept was needed to make it more appealing. The costume shouldn’t simply be unusual, it had to be easily recognized at first glance, like a flower.…
“Oh …hihi. Yume-chan Yume-chan, how about this?”
When I first saw the clothes Madoka-san showed me with a grin, I honestly thought, “Oh, that’s cute and adorable.”
It was a combination of a waitress-like apron and a short-sleeved blouse, very European.
But…on a closer look ….
“Erm…actually…isn’t the chest too open…?”
The collar had a rather unusual opening, and I could see the top half of the chest. …
“Yume-chan, this dress is called Dirndl. It’s a traditional German folk costume.”
“I-is that so…?”
“Yes. Even now, it’s still worn at German festivals like how we wear kimonos. It’s not ecchi. It shows as much cleavage as a swimsuit, but it’s not ecchi at all.”
“Aren’t you saying that it’s ecchi when you emphasize it like that!?”
“Why don’t you try it on? It’s a culture festival, right? Let’s learn about German culture.”
Madoka-san’s eyes were fixed on me, and she was shoving the Dirndl towards me. Nope! You’re clearly giving me a lewd look!
I thought I heard a slightly stiff voice, and then Mizuto put his arm between Madoka-san and me.
“Even if it’s traditional or ethnic, management will reject all revealing clothes. She can’t wear this.”
Madoka-san’s eyes fluttered as Mizuto told her so, word for word.
She then gave a meaningful look, and pulled back the Dirndl.
“Got it, got it. Let’s not do that. You certainly don’t want to show Yume-chan in such an outfit to many anonymous eyes, do you?”
“… Please choose some clothes that won’t violate public order and morals.”
Mizuto then went back to opening his box.
Did he just … get a little angry?
Did he hate… the idea of me in revealing clothing?
Woah. I just couldn’t stop smiling…! Wait, was this another reason as to why he didn’t want me to wear anything too revealing. Was he trying to protect me? Oh my god. Woahh~!
“Nihihi, well then, let’s find something that won’t make Mizuto-kun angry, shall we, Yume-chan?”
“Y-yes…ah wait a minute.”
I stopped Madoka-san’s hand from putting away the Dirndl.
I stared at the design.
“What’s the matter? Do you still want to wear it?”
I guess this would suit Higashira-san. Very well in fact.
“…By the way.”
“Is it possible to borrow it for personal reasons?”
Madoka-san tilted her head.
“Don’t use it for anything bad, okay?”
“I…won’t be using it!”
There’s nothing bad about making Higashira-san wear a dress with an open cleavage! Maybe!
Click, I unbuttoned my blouse.
I felt uncomfortable taking off my clothes inside a room I entered for the first time, moreso when I remembered that Mizuto was in the room right next to me.
“Your skin is as shiny as ever, Yume-chan. So this is a JK…”
Madoka-san, who was inspecting me like a critic, was already in her underwear. Despite her innocent fashion, her bra and panties were lacy and red. It’s not just adult underwear, it’s basically winning underwear…
“…Madoka-san, do you usually wear such things…?”
Madoka-san laughed at my tentative question,
“No, of course not! It’s not unusual for the top and bottom to be of different colors…, but I’m planning to show today.”
Was she talking about this moment?…Or did she have any plans… after this?
Madoka-san gave me an inscrutable smile.
“Well? Why exactly~?”
Without hesitation, she unhooked the front of her bra.
We were about to try on the outfits we had found.
The costumes weren’t something we could decide on our own anyway, so we decided to try them on, take pictures, and then decide later in a class discussion.
I would take samples for the girls, and Mizuto would do the same for the boys.
There was another room next to the club room, so Madoka-san and I moved to that room, while Mizuto stayed in the club room to change into his costumes.
So why was Madoka-san changing too? “I want to try them on too~!”, because she insisted.
What’s more, Madoka-san was holding a very revealing outfit that Mizuto and I had rejected. There was so little fabric that she couldn’t even wear a bra.
Anyway, the first thing I tried on was a traditional maid’s uniform.
The skirt was longer than the ones often seen in manga or anime, and went up to my ankles.
Thanks to that, I wasn’t too embarrassed, but the frilly katyusha was still a bit …
“It’s nice! It’s cutey cute! It’ll go well with Mizuto-kun!”
“What do you mean, ‘go well’—kyaahh?”
Madoka-san nudged me in the back to meet up with Mizuto.
Mizuto was wearing a butler’s uniform. The black color looked nice and taut on his slim and thin body.
“Oooohh~! Great! It’s really great!”
Madoka-san was so excited that she started taking pictures with her phone.
Meanwhile, I glanced over at Mizuto. He’s frowning in disapproval, but it really suited him. If he could just have a better haircut—
Wait… wouldn’t this be a good chance to put some … put some powder on it? Maybe I could get some attention if I praise him a little here?
“Y-you look good in….that, don’t you?”
I said it!
I choked up a little, but I managed to say it! That’s pretty good for me!
Mizuto paused to affirm what I said,
I spent all my efforts trying to praise you, and that’s your response!? That’s all? You should compliment me back! Can’t you just say ‘it suits you’ even if it’s just flattery!?
Grrrr…this otaku somehow has no reaction to a maid’s outfit. …!
“Madoka-san! Next costume!”
“Oh, Yume-chan, you’re getting into this, aren’t you?”
“Yes I am!”
The next costume I wore was a Chinese dress.
Of course, the slit on the lower half of the dress exposed a lot of leg, but Madoka-san suggested “it should be fine if you wear skin-colored tights’.
We naturally wouldn’t have any skin-colored tights with us, so we had to show our bare legs.
How about this! I showed up before Mizuto, who was dressed like a suspicious Chinese sorcerer,
Seriously! This guy!? Usually I’d be too embarrassed to show my bare legs, so I wear tights even when I’m in uniform. Now that I’m showing this much leg, that’s his reaction!? Seriously!?
After that, I tried various costumes like Áo dài and mage, but Mizuto’s reactions were all ‘heh’, ‘hmmm’, and ‘huh’.
“Woah, they’re all so cute!”
Instead, Madoka-san was the one who looked most excited.
Madoka-san was wearing a swimsuit-like costume (costume?) and a veil-like thin cloth, dressed like a dancer.
It would be criminal if a person like Madoka-san, who has a large part of her body showing, just stepped out of the room while dressed like this, but Mizuto didn’t react at all.
Madoka-san too was looking back at the photos she had taken with her phone while crossing her bare white thighs.
“Speaking of costumes, the yukata you wore at the summer festival was really cute. After all, long black hair and a kimono is justice!”
“C-classic or not, I think…Japanese-style costumes might be a good idea. It’s not too revealing.”
“I guess. It’d be popular with the PTA. Japanese style, huh? I wonder if there are any miko outfits~…”
Madoka-san was on all fours on the floor, rummaging through a cardboard box. Y-your butt! Watch your butt! It’s almost poking out!
As I was blocking Mizuto’s view, Madoka-san pulled something out of the box.
“Ah found it! Say, say, how about this?”
It looked like a kimono…but only the top half. It was just a shirt that looked like a kimono. Madoka-san was also holding something that looked like a hakama.
“Hm~ this is~…ah, right. I have a picture of last year’s school festival.”
Madoka-san tapped at her phone “This this!” and showed me the screen.
On the screen was a woman standing on the stage, wearing a gorgeous red kimono on top and dark brown hakama on the bottom—boots as shoes though?
“Right? I think it’s called Taisho Romantic. I like it too!”
It’s a mix of Japanese and Western style, cute and cool at the same time. It’s not very revealing, but it really would get quite a bit of attention
This might be the most appropriate one…management will understand, and it does have the feel of a proper cosplay. There’s a clear concept here…and most importantly, the other classes probably wouldn’t be able to prepare this..
“But, what about the boys?”
“The boys used this.”
Madoka-san swiped the screen and showed me a new picture. In the photo was…
Kimono and hakama, school cap and gown! That’s exactly what a scholar looks like: …!
“Isn’t it nice?”
I nodded with all my might. This costume is brimming in intelligence, and it struck my senses more than the butler’s uniform did. Good! It’s really good!
…But the question was whether that other committee member would agree to this…?
I looked back at Mizuto and uttered nervously,
“…What do you think?”
“Well…it certainly fits the criteria ….”
Oh? That’s the most positive response I got though I couldn’t say for sure, but I guess Mizuto felt that he had found the answer.
“Well, why don’t you try it on? You too, Mizuto-kun!”
I-I see…I had to try it on too…M-Mizuto will be dressed-up like a poor looking scholar…
I was nervous to say the least, and got changed in the next room. It looks like a kimono, but it’s not, so it wasn’t difficult to wear it. The costume size was also adjustable.
As I tapped my toes and checked the comfort of my boots,
“Let me raise your hair a little.”
Madoka-san took part of my hair, lifted it up to the back of my head and inserted a hairpin that was a prop. She too had a half-updo. Thus, in my mirror, I found myself increasingly resemblant of a prim and proper young lady from the Taisho era.
“I love it! That’s chic!”
Madoka-san encouraged me, and I started to feel better.
I shook my body from side to side, and so did my hair, the sleeves and the hem of my hakama. The surreal silhouette caused me to feel that I wasn’t myself, that I was doting on a doll.
I wasn’t as embarrassed as I was while wearing the previous costumes, and it’s not as difficult to move as it looks, probably because it’s a theatrical costume. And…most importantly, it’s cute.
“…Madoka-san, how many of these do you have?”
“Caught your fancy?”
“Eh, well, yes…”
“I guess I have about four or five. If we count the guys, I think I should have enough for the service staff.”
It’d depend on how good the guys’ clothes looked…no, I was pretty much convinced. After all, I saw more of him than anyone else over the past six months. I could easily tell what looks good on him and what wouldn’t, even without actually seeing him.
We knocked, and returned to the club room where Mizuto was changing—
I nearly blurted out, but I was overwhelmed by Madoka-san’s cry that sounded like it was straight out of a battle manga.
Mizuto had a sullen look on his face, and Madoka-san’s eyes lit up as she rushed over to him.
“M-Mizu-Mizuto-kun! Eh!? Are you really Mizuto-kun!? That tiny, cute little Mizuto-kun!?”
“Did your memory of me stop years ago…?”
Mizuto gave a dumbfounded look, and he was dressed in a kimono and hakama, with a school cap on his head, just as I had seen in the picture.
It’s really good…
I was right. The costume meshed really well with Mizuto’s fine features and intellectual vibe….but well, what…!
“B-book! Mizuto-kun, tuck that book under your armpit! It’s wrapped in cotton! in the props box!…Yes yes yes! That’s the one!…Yes, but there’s something missing…”
“G-glasses…! Madoka-san, glasses …!”
Madoka-san and I excitedly rummaged through the props for the date glasses and put them on Mizuto. “BWOOOOAAH~~!!” Madoka-san was blown away. I didn’t scream, but I felt the same way inside.
Madoka-san covered her mouth with both hands and shivered.
“So-so cute…and cool…cute…cool …. This big sister is so shocked that we have an extraordinary talent in our family, Mizuto-kun ….”
“You are exaggerating…It is normal, no?”
“Aaah! You’re using keigo too!”
That’s good! I nodded vigorously in my mind.
The previous handsome tutor style was good, but this one is also good too…! It’s really, really good…! Ahh, my vocabulary…! I don’t have enough words to describe this!
“H-hurry up you two! Stand next to each other! Come on!”
Madoka-san nudged me next to Mizuto. Ah, wait g-get away from me! I’ll die! I’m going to die!
“Ooooh, it’s great… Taisho. It’s Taisho alright! Come on, get closer, get closer!”
Madoka-san was so excited that she took a lot of pictures.
I stiffened up and glanced at Mizuto, who was shoulder to shoulder with me. The brim of his school cap cast a shadow on his young face, and gave him a languid vibe…
Hiiii~~! Th-the face…! My face’s about to smile…!
“Well, guess it’s decided now! Rakurou allows outsiders to visit during the culture festival, right? I’ll be going then! I’m definitely going!”
After Madoka-san’s photo session was over, I finally escaped from Mizuto’s side. M-my heart nearly stopped…
As I was puffing my chest out, Madoka-san beckoned to me. What is it? I approached her,
“Look, look, my best shot!”
She showed me the photo she had just taken.
Shown on the screen was a high-collared chic maiden who was blushing and glancing at the scholar—I-I was being too obvious…!
And I was so distracted by the weakness of my own defenses “Here, here.” that I didn’t notice something until Madoka-san told me with her finger,
I wasn’t the only one. Mizuto was glancing at me.
“Nihihi. He didn’t say it, but it seems he fancies your costume, you know?”
I quickly covered my mouth with the sleeve of my kimono.
Ugh…I couldn’t hold it in anymore. No matter how I tried…my face would always loosen up.
“I know, I know. I’ll send it to you, okay?”
I thanked her in a faint voice.
Then I looked at Mizuto, who was making a blank face.
He stopped me from wearing revealing clothes, and looked like that just now…
Is it possible that…he likes me?
I changed back into my own clothes, cleaned up the club room, “Do you want to look around the university?” and Madoka-san asked me.
It’s not often that I get a chance like this, so I decided to take her up on his offer. Mizuto said he wanted to go home, but he still went along.
We had a look at the gymnasium, cafeterias, lecture rooms, and libraries, and we decided to take a break at the cafe in the central plaza. I didn’t really have a lot of experience with cafes, but this university’s café was very unusual. I was basically looking around like a fish out of water until we found a seat, and I sat down opposite Madoka-san.
But the moment Mizuto came to sit next to me, my attention was immediately seized.
Wh-why did he come all the way to sit next to me when there was an empty seat next to Madoka-san…!?
No, no, calma calm, he probably felt more at ease with me, the stepsister, than his relative Madoka-san now. That’s definitely right…aaah~! But I’m curious!
Madoka-san took the menu,
“What do you want? We have cake. It’s at a reasonable price too! Don’t hesitate to order!”
Hmmm…what should I order? I have dinner coming up, so I want to keep it light, but….
“The cake and parfait look delicious. …”
“I think I’ll just have coffee, Mizuto-kun?”
“I’ll have tea—and this cake.”
Mizuto pointed to the chocolate cake that I had been struggling to choose between and the parfait.
He gave a nonchalant face,
“I’ll order this one, and you can order that parfait. Then we can share, so you could eat both.”
“Ah…y-yes. Of course…”
Why’s he so sweet! What is he? A boyfriend? Wait, are we dating?
Seeing Mizuto’s move, Madoka-san too gave him a meaningful look, her eyes sparkling. That’s right! I wasn’t mistaken, right? It’s like he’s showing affection to me!
…No, no, no, calm down. It’s him we’re talking about. Maybe he just wants to eat the cake, right? That’s definitely the case. He wants to eat it…right?
Soon after, a parfait was placed in front of me, and a cake before Mizuto. The parfait was small, just right for a snack. The ice cream atop it wasn’t too sweet, but there’s a slight sourness to it. Hmmm… I think I’d like it a little sweeter.
“How does yours taste like?”
Mizuto, who had been munching on a chocolate cake without expression, put down his fork and silently pulled the cake over to me. I took over and pulled the parfait towards Mizuto.
“Huh? You’re not going to go all ‘ahhh~’?”
Madoka-san grinned at me as she said this.
… It’s true that we’d do that when sharing food…but there’s no way he would show such a soft side in public, and in front of his relative…but given how he was talking today, just maybe—
“I don’t want to.”
Mizuto said without hesitation.
…I knew it. I didn’t know what I was expecting…
“It’s not something you’d do in a public place like this.”
At the next words, my head stopped for a moment, and Madoka-san made a puzzled face.
“… Huh? That makes it sound like you do it in private, you know.”
“I’ll leave that to your imagination.”
Huh? W-why? Why didn’t you deny it clearly? Usually you would have admitted outright if you hated it, and reject it—
“What’s the matter, Yume? Why are you spacing out”
“Huh? Oh, no, I’m just thinking about .y-you know, the calories. I’m just worried about them!”
He peered into my face, and I hurriedly faked a reaction.
H-he actually showed concern for me….h-he’s so much nicer than usual after all—
“Hmm~, so even you care about your calorie intake too, don’t you?”
“Eh? …Wh-what do you mean, even you!?”
“I thought you didn’t care because you always eat sweets.”
“I- I do eat them…just a little though! I don’t garble them down!”
You’re either being nice or sarcastic. Choose one already, goodness!
After a quick tour of the campus, the sun was almost setting.
We had to go home, and Madoka-san had plans later, so we decided to split up.
We left the campus through the gate near the station, and Madoka-san checked the time on her phone,
“I have a drinking party at Kiyamachi after this. He’s supposed to pick me up…oh, here he is.”
A car drove up and stopped a short distance away. Madoka-san waved to the man sitting in the driver’s seat. That man is Madoka-san’s boyfriend….I couldn’t see him very well because of the distance, but he seems to be tired….
“Bye then, both of you~! I’m looking forward to the culture festival!”
Madoka-san ran up to the car “Thanks” she called out to the driver’s window. Then she went to the passenger seat, sat down, and waved to us from inside the car.
The car started and disappeared down the road in a flash. I was quietly moved while I stared at the car as it disappeared, thinking that the sight of her and boyfriend driving away together was very adult-like.
Mizuto said suspiciously.
“…She said she’s attending a drinking party, right?”
“Eh? That’s what she said, right?”
“That means her boyfriend can’t drink, right?”
I was told that she likes bad boys…and that aside, she seemed to be very pushy.
I recalled the sight of Madoka-san in her underwear when she was changing her clothes.
She didn’t want her boyfriend to drink because she wanted him take care of her—
I imagined Madoka-san in her expensive wine red underwear, lying innocently on the bed. Begone thoughts! We’re stepfamily, but it’s kind of awkward to imagine a relative like that!
The two high school students left behind crossed the crosswalk and walked toward the station.
The distance between us remained the same. Even though I tried to take half a step closer, nothing much has changed, and we couldn’t discuss anything in particular.
This day would probably end the same way it has for the past six months.
I didn’t want to stay like this anymore.
Akatsuki-san supported me, and even today, I felt…Mizuto was a little bit different from usual.
That’s why—that’s why.
It’s going to be okay.
Pressed by the occasion on this day, a voice came out from my throat.
“I…ah, no, the dress I wore today!…Do you think it’s cute?”
I knew I had a chance. The look he showed in the photo Madoka-san gave me already told me what Mizuto was really thinking.
That’s why…even if Mizuto were to make a spiteful remark here—
“…Well, it’s normal.”
He’s never been honest with me, so—
“You’re cute, normally.”
Mizuto hurriedly covered his mouth,
“Wait, wait a sec. I misspoke….”
“That’s—Arggh my brain short-circuited!! …I’m doing something I’m not used to. ……”
I hurried after him, and smiled.
I was happy.
I was delighted.
I was very delighted.
And most importantly—I was completely elated the moment I heard that honest praise.
—I like you, you know?
—I really do like you from the bottom of my heart?
I didn’t express myself in words, and instead conveyed my thoughts through the gaze directed at his back that never turned.
For the time being, I couldn’t convey it.
Someday, surely…I will.
—Listen up Irido, you don’t have to act flamboyantly. Just act a little different from your usual behavior.
After we returned from the university, I remembered what Kawanami said to me.
I wanted to find out how Yume felt about me, so I tried to approach Yume.
Both Kawanami and Isana had insisted that today’s outing was the perfect opportunity to do so.
—Just a little. Just a little bit will do. Be a little bit nicer than usual! Be just a little bit more manly than usual! That’s all it takes to get her attention.
—I understand. Especially since Mizuto-kun is usually too salty, just being a little nicer will make a big difference!
—Goodness, you have it easy, pretty boy!
Yep, it’s all because of those two. I didn’t approach Yume on my own.
It’s impossible for me to like her ever again.
It’s easy, right? I’m not saying that you should praise her for being cute and adorable.
” …… I said too much …….”
It was a grave mistake.
I did something that I wasn’t instructed to do.
Yes—it was a mistake.
At this point, there’s no reason for me to say something like this now.
The next day, when I showed the sample photos of the Taisho-roman costumes to the girls class, everyone immediately squealed.
Akatsuki-san’s reaction in particular was amazing.
“Akki is broken!!!”
“Stay. Stay, Minami-chan.”
Akatsuki-san, who was panting hard, was restrained by Maki-san and Nasuka-san. I took a step back as I sensed I was in peril.
“It’s great~! Woah, it’s nice!” “I want to wear it too!… but I’m not sure I look as good as Irido-san…” “”That’s true!””
I was sure it’s because of the quality of the costume, but I wasn’t surprised that people were praising it so much.
…But I hadn’t shown them the trump card.
There’s one more photo of the other person I hadn’t shown yet.
“I’m not sure if there’s a guy in our class who suits this as well.” “He looks like a scholar~!?” “I don’t think there are many who look smart, cool, thing—”
The girls started to chatter, and slowly, they turned their eyes to a single corner..
And at where the gazes gathered.
There, reading a book without a care in the world, was the one thin guy who had one of the highest grades in the school.
I couldn’t stop myself from smiling, so I took a moment to show everyone the other photo of Mizuto, dressed like a scholar.
They were all blown away.
I was filled with a mysterious sense of superiority.
Mizuto in turn made a bitter face at his seat.
It was already decided.
So I wrote “Taisho Romantic Cafe” in the desired event column of the paper to be submitted to the management.