Tōdō Hoshibe ◆Appropriate Excuse

 

I wrecked my shoulder right after I entered high school.

I just went for a normal layup.

A normal shot that I had repeated thousands and thousands of times.

From dribbling to a shooting motion, I took a step, jumped, shot at the basket—

And my world was turned upside-down with the pain.

The rim was so far away. I couldn’t even reach out, and could only look up at the net that didn’t move at all. It took me several seconds to understand my situation. A sharp pain in my shoulder, along with the fact that I was writhing on the floor, didn’t manage to reach my consciousness in time.

It’s so far away. The rim was far away.

The rim that I could easily rim in the past was now so, so far away.

I spent the entire summer having treatment. Of course, I missed the tournament too. Our Rakurou basketball team wasn’t so strong to begin with, and we were easily eliminated in the second round.

I could only watch from the bench, but the senpai told me,

—You still have next year, and the year after that.

That’s a fact. It’s a suitable encouragement. For a first year who couldn’t participate in practice, senpai’s words were warm enough.

But,

—It’s far.

It’s so far.

The rim, the hoop, the net.

Everything—seemed too far away.

And so it was summer vacation. I heard that they were starting practice under a new regime, but I couldn’t even bring myself to the gym anymore.

My shoulder that was supposedly healed was aching.

I tried to lift my arm, and the intense pain of that day appeared in my mind again.

Even when I tried to walk to the gym, I would stop immediately.

No matter how many days or years I walked, I felt like I couldn’t reach that ever familiar place again.

The gymnasium I used to pass by every day seemed so distant, like an isekai.

…What if I pushed myself too hard and ruined my shoulder further?

There’s a possibility that if it hindered my daily life, I might have to live with it for the rest of my life. Was it really necessary for me to take such a risk and keep playing basketball?

In hindsight, I only practiced seriously in middle school.

That’s why I didn’t choose a high school with a strong basketball program, but one that focused on academics.

Yeah, that’s right. It’s a good chance to put an end to it all.

Or rather, I should be celebrating that I didn’t stay on halfway through, and made it this far as a freshman. There were many other things I wanted to do besides basketball.

I was absent for a week for no reason, and armed myself with the perfect reasoning..

I deemed my setback.

As an explanation to end it.

I covered up the fact that I didn’t have the guts to try to catch up.

I left the club.

—Shortly after, I was invited to join the student council.

 

Yume Irido ◆Such a topic so early in the morning is way too much calories

 

I stared at the unfamiliar wood ceiling for a few seconds, and remembered that yes, we’re on a trip.

“…Nn…nn…”

I slowly got up and looked around the slightly blurred room with my eyes that hadn’t had their contacts on yet, waiting for my fuzzy head to clear up.

“Good morning, Yume-kun.”

I turned to look at the dignified voice, and saw President Kurenai sitting in a chair on the wide veranda by the window.

She’s still in her yukata, but she was already done combing her hair, and didn’t appear to be sleepy in the slightest. Was it a morning routine for her or something? She was basked under the sunlight shining through the window as she slowly sipped a cup of tea. It’s something of a nobility gesture, but President had her distinct style when doing so…

“Good…morning…”

“You’re the first one. What time do you normally wake up?”

“Erm…”

I looked at the clock in the room and saw that it was about 7am.

“Yes, probably…around now.”

“It is good to have a proper routine. Would you like some tea?”

“Ah…yes. Don’t mind me.”

I slipped out from under the futon, creeped past the others who hadn’t woken up yet, and went to the veranda where the President was at. In the meantime, I combed my messy hair with my fingers.

The moment I sat down opposite the president, she served me a steaming cup of tea.

“Thank you very much.”

I took a sip, and the warmth of the tea spread through my mind, as though my brain circuits were opened.

Poof, poof, I put the cup down and asked the president who was before me.

“President, what time did you wake up?”

“Hmm? Around 5am. It’s rare for me to sleep this much.”

5am.

I remembered that everyone fell asleep before midnight or so…so she slept for 5 hours? She didn’t look sleepy at all. Really, she’s a light sleeper…

In contrast—I looked around at the devastation in the room.

“…It’s quite a mess, isn’t it…?”

I couldn’t help but show a wry smile. As to what, that would be everyone’s sleeping face..

Asuhain-san was sleeping normally peacefully under the futon (so cute), but the other three were really shoddy.

Akatsuki-san had her body outside the futon, Higashira-san’s yukata was all messy, and her breasts almost spilled out, and Asou-senpai was hugging the futon cover like a bolster, completely exposing her panties.

“We really can’t let the boys see this…”

“It was the right decision to have separate rooms, no?”

“Yes.”

And the trio who had bed sleeping habits all had no bras on. Well, Akatsuki-san and Asou-senpai had thin bodies, so I understood why, but Higashira-san… wouldn’t it be difficult for her to turn in her sleep? According to her, her mother usually nagged at her to wear it, so she would, but she really didn’t want to wear it while sleeping. I understood her feelings though.

“Yume-kun, do you have any plans today?”

Faced with the sudden question, “Erm” I hesitated for a while.

“I remember… everyone’s going to Kobe Harborland, right?”

“Yes. We need to decide on the groupings.”

President gave a meaningful smile.

“I was wondering if there is anyone you want to go with..”

“Ehhh…”

S-She knew after all, didn’t she…?

There’s lots of places I wanted to go…with Mizuto, but he had to take care of Higashira-san too…and, the footbath yesterday…

Ahhh goodness! We just touched, didn’t we!? Why did it seem like we did something forbidden!? That’s why I ran away without a second thought last night! It’s because we talked about such sensitive stuff at the hot spring …!

“…What about you then, president?”

I tried to hide my own embarrassment as I changed the topic.

“Do you want to walk around with Haba-senpai?”

“Hm? Uh…”

…Oops?

It’s rare to see President look so evasive. Did something happen!?

“How about you have a heart-to-heart talk with him? I can even help you out if possible.”

“…It feels unbearable to expose my shame.”

“I’m embarrassed too, so we’re even!”

And so, having suggested so, I took the offensive.

I told the president about the footbath yesterday, and also the somewhat, well, lewd hand action with Mizuto.

“…Just those?”

For some reason, President’s reaction was weak.

She tilted her head slightly, and I hurried to explain.

“We-we just touched, you know? Like, well, having fun playing with our fingers, like trying to hook up, or something…!”

“…Pfft.”

“You just belittled me, didn’t you!? Did you belittle me a little just now!?”

“No, pardon me…I just find it quite, I should say, adorable….”

W-what’s with her confidence…or rather, condescension…did something happen with Haba-senpai!?

“Actually, last night—”

President Kurenai didn’t bother to hide her sense of superiority as she talked about what happened between her and Haba-senpai last night.

She said that she was forced to dress up as a bunny girl as part of a punishment game, and went to meet Haba-senpai—that’s what she wanted him to think, but she returned without doing anything, basically.

“Fufu. Well, this might be too stimulating to you, Yume-kun, given how agitated you are at touching hands…”

“…Erm, President?”

“What is it?”

“In other words… right when the winner’s about to be decided, you chickened out at the last minute? ”

“…………”

“You freaked out, didn’t you? You usually could be so aggressive, but you’re scared at the crucial moment, right? The one student council president, hailed as the greatest genius since the school was founded, freaked out and escaped right when she’s about to do it, right?”

“…S-Shut up! I just considered the location! Would you have wanted to lose your virginity right next to a vending machine where anyone else would have passed by?”

“Wasn’t it you who invited him to such a place, President?”

“I don’t want to hear it from you when you were seducing someone in the middle of public!”

Ugh! Right in the kisser…!

I took a breath to calm down… speaking of which, I thought of something. President probably prepared everything when she seduced Haba-senpai at every given opportunity…

After ensuring that everyone else wasn’t awake, I hushed my voice and asked.

“President…there’s something I’m a little curious about…”

“…What is it?”

“You’ve been seducing Haba-senpai the entire time… but well, when it comes to the real show, have you prepared… anything that’s like a charm… Do you have such a thing prepared?”

“…………”

President fell silent.

This is…

“You didn’t prepare it, did you…?”

‘Well… isn’t it too shameless for a girl to be carrying such a thing…?”

“No, it’s just that you’re not ready yet, right? You feel that Haba-senpai won’t touch you anyway.”

“Don’t refute me with facts and logic! You’re just a kouhai!”

President would end up weak whenever this was discussed, and somehow, I ended up teasing her too much.

But I should probably say something for real this time.

“Shouldn’t you have prepared seriously this time…since you know Haba-senpai has such feelings though…?”

“P-Prepared…where?”

“Well…I don’t really know. Like a purse or something…?”

“N-No, shouldn’t the men prepare such things…?”

“President, when you’re the one always cornering him, how would he have the time to prepare such things!? ”

“Grrr…!”

President suddenly groaned in pain, and her face was flushed. I understood her hesitation, but it would be really scandalous if the student council was to end up pregnant while still in school.

“I-I understand…I should prepare one…just in case.”

“Just in case?”

“Just in case means just in case!”

The moment President suddenly shouted loudly, “Nnn…” I heard a cute moan.

We turned around gingerly and saw Asuhain-san wriggling out from the futon, turning her body aside to us…

She woke up.

She looked at us with barely opened eyes.

…She didn’t hear what we talked about…right?

“…Good, morning~ …”

The slurred voice clearly implied that she had just woken up.

But, just in case, I asked tentatively.

“G-Good morning, Asuhain-san…did you hear anything we talked about?”

“Fuaai?” What…?”

“We-we’re just going through the plans for the day! Is there anywhere you want to go!?”

President bluffed her way through deftly, and Asuhain-san rubbed her eyes and said,

“Fuaa…let’s see. I don’t really have any wish in particular…”

I quickly exchanged glances with the President.

We’re…safe!

“‘Really!? That’s great!”

“Let’s ask the others then! Wake them all up!”

“Ah, yes.”

“Phew…that was close. How would Asuhain-san react if she heard that conversation just now, given how much she worshiped the President.”

We really shouldn’t have talked about such stuff in the morning. I should have calmed down and thought this through. But there’s something I had to say…

……Should I prepare myself too?

No-no…Mizuto probably wouldn’t attack me without a second thought…anyway, I wasn’t as direct as the President!…And before that, I had to talk it through with him without running away…

So I thought as I woke Higashira-san and Akatsuki-san up, who were in a state of disarray, fixing their clothes. How did their obis end up loose while sleeping …?

And so, after the six of us woke up, we sorted ourselves out as we checked our plans for the day.

With a determined look on her face, Asou-senpai said,

“Everyone, I want to request something.”

 

Kogure Kawanami ◆Opening Declaration

 

—You might think it’s fine.

—But what about those who like you?

—Actually, I still do like you.

Till where were her true feelings.

Where did her true feelings start?

Was she fooling around with me again? Or was she really telling the truth? Everything she said seemed so full of innuendo that I had no idea what’s going on anymore.

She still liked me?

Well, that probably would happen to some extent. After all, I was the one who dumped her. She’s cautious about ensuring that I didn’t have such feelings since I got that constitution, and I knew that. I knew more than anyone else that she’s not some amazing person who could change her mind completely in months or so.

It’s the same…for me.

I was tired. I wanted to give up. That’s a fact, that’s true.

But it was also true that I liked her.

We probably would have dated normally if she wasn’t such a monster. I could explain to pops and the others, and we could flirt openly in school. I liked her enough to conclude so,

Then.

If her personality had improved somewhat till this point…

…It’s a meaningless assumption. It’s a meaningless imagination.

That’s because my body couldn’t fall in love anymore.

I couldn’t help it—I couldn’t even accept goodwill from others..

—I want to cure it.

What would happen to me?

If my constitution’s really cured—what should I do then?

 

“Good morning.”

 

Once I saw this scene right after I woke up, I froze up.

Wh-Why!?

I should have been sleeping in the boys’ room last night…! Why’s she here!?

Once my sleepiness was gone immediately, Akatsuki slowly reached to grab my frozen face.

She stroked my cheeks like she was petting a cat, and smiled lovingly.

“Goodness…your sleeping face is cute, you know?”

Woaahhh—! I felt a shiver.

My body kept shivering within the futon. The methods, the expression, the way she looked like she’s feeding a bird, the endearment of one protecting the weak, watching from outside the birdcage—

Suddenly, Akatsuki covered me.

She was so light like a doll that it’s hard to imagine she’s a human being. At the same time, the warmth and softness distinct to a human body came together. The palpitations of my heart pounded with excitement and fear. The feelings that were imprinted within me, imprinted by her. A woman’s comfort and a woman’s terror blended together in a pile.

Sweetly, coldly, she muttered,

“(Everyone is looking. Endure. Now.♥)”

At this point, I finally started to check my surroundings.

My roommates Hoshibe-san and Haba-senpai were giving us curious looks. Irido was the only one who seemed uninterested as he yawned. Yeah, those that didn’t know were watching.

I endured the chills. I suppressed my shivering body. I pushed back the bad memories and imaginations to the back of my mind.

I didn’t want anyone to see this pathetic constitution of mine… aside from her.

“(Well done. Good boy♥)”

Once she said so with a sweet voice, Akatsuki finally pulled away from me.

“Hurry up and change your clothes~ Everyone’s waiting!”

Saying that, Akatsuki lifted the yukata’s hem and tiptoed out of the room.

Hoshibe-san saw her leave, and murmured as he stared at the entrance to the room.

“So you two… were dating after all?”

“What do you mean, after all…?”

For a while, I couldn’t get up from the futon. The residue that was Akatsuki’s weight and body warmth was still etched on me, pinning me down.

—Do you know what exposure therapy is?

How could I not know? I did think of this when I thought of ways to cure this constitution.

It’s a method of overcoming trauma by daring to interact with the cause—

Wait, we’re doing that?

Starting today? The whole day?

We’re going to keep doing that—like when we were dating!?

 

Asou Aisa ◆Equipment requires Appropriateness

 

“Please! Help me pick clothes for a date with senpai!”

A few hours after I asked for help, we were at a shopping mall in Kobe Harborland.

We were at the same building, split as guys and girls, and went to the fashion and apparel area. Yes, I had an appointment with senpai to hang out alone with him at around noon! It’s obvious I had to get all my equipment before this boss fight.

Could I have bought my dating clothes in advance?

Some might have said so. In fact, some already did. Ranran said, “Why didn’t you buy them beforehand?”. That’s a logical argument, a fastball. And this was my reply.

Do logical arguments apply to me anyway!?

Look! My personal clothes! Fluffy! Fluttering! Landmine girl clothes that are almost kid-like! I like such clothing! I could only choose such clothing! I couldn’t tell the difference between personal clothing and cosplay!! The only thing I knew was that these shouldn’t be the clothes to wear for a date to win him over!

It’s not that I hadn’t gone out to play with senpai before.

I just wore clothes that I liked, as usual. While senpai looked a little annoyed, it was fun.

But today was different.

Because today— I was going to confess my feelings to senpai.

That’s why! I had to endure my shame! That’s why I begged for help!!!!

“I have no idea why you are feeling strangely arrogant, but since it is my friend’s big show of a lifetime, I shall help you with all I can.” Suzurin said. “I always wanted to do something about your fashion sense.”

“You got a problem with that!? They’re cute, right! Landmine type!”

“Then wear that to a date.”

Grrr…everyone’s so quick to argue logically. That’s why they say the student council’s such an uptight organization.

“Well, well, isn’t it fine? It’s better to have a purpose than to just go window shopping!”

Saying that was Akki, who wasn’t a student council member.

“I too have been wondering, ‘why does senpai like to wear such kiddy clothing when she has the body of a model’. Right on time, isn’t it??”

“You’re dissing me too, aren’t you, Akki?”

I’ll tell you girls, you’re making an enemy out of all the landmine girls in the world.

“Asou-senpai, since you’re tall and thin, cool looking clothes might suit you.”

“Dating clothes might be different though, Irido-san.”

The two kouhais, Yumechi and Ranran, were the only ones chatting seriously. The other kouhai Isana-chan was taking pictures of the area with her phone for some reason. It’s obvious that she’s the indoor type, but it’s amazing how she’s able to dress up. Where did she learn her fashion sense? Was this some compulsory education?

“First of all, we should decide on a directive.” Said Suzurin. “Since we’re choosing clothes for you to walk together with Hoshibe-senpai, it’s important that we choose appropriate clothing… Today’s Hoshibe-senpai is—”

“He’s wearing a jacket and jeans in cold colors~” said Akki. “It’s a safe outfit, but since he’s so tall, anything looks good on him. It’s amazing.”

“That’s right!”

Our senpai is tall! He’s 187cm tall! Anything would look cool on him!

“Aisa, it’s still too early for you to look like a girlfriend.”

“You should wait till your confession succeeds, senpai.”

“…I’m sorry.”

The tension swung in a weird direction. Apparently, I had to calm down a little on this day of the biggest turning point in my life.

Suzurin and the others continued to share various opinions.

“Hoshibe-senpai has more subdued colors, so how about some lighter colors?”

“That’s great~! It’s winter, so the colors aren’t going to be that splashy!”

“Pants? Or Skirt?”

“If we’re talking about dating clothes, it has to be skirts.”

“You’ve got nice legs, it’s a waste not to show off!”

“Yeah. Anyway, take off the pads.”

“Wa-wait! If I remove them, my bra size will…!”

“”Let’s use this opportunity to buy one.””

“Time to buy your winning underwear just in case…”

As we chatted away, we found an eye-catching store.

We then gathered items from all over the shop, and I went to the changing room.

“Okay, I’m wearing them~ How is it~?”

Once they saw me pull the curtain aside, “Ohhh~…” there were many indescribable voices.

Anyway, the clothes shoved onto me after some choosing were a blouse with an open neck and a pleated skirt that’s just above the knee. The overall look looked like a mix and match of a school uniform.

The result was,

“This…”

“Kinda…”

“…Looks like a gal, right?”

“Yeah, a gal.”

I became a gal.

All I had to do was to hang the accessories on my neck and wrists, and wrap the sweater around the waist, and it would be perfect.

“Pfft.” Ranran stifled a laugh.

“It looks good on you. It’s like it’s tailor made. Pfff…!”

“Oy you, what are you laughing at!? Are you saying that I’ve always been an otaku, and now I look like some raunchy gal!?”

“You look more like a gal who’s kind to an otaku~! A real gal wouldn’t have twintails. What do you think, Higashira-san, since you represent the otakus!?”

“Eh?”

Isana-chan, who was suddenly prompted by Akki to speak, looked at me in the fitting room, and for some reason, pointed her phone lens at me,

“I guess so… it’s like you pretend to sleep during the break, but you wish for everyone to talk to you…”

“You see? It’s really great, senpai!”

Grrrr…as an otaku, I knew what she’s talking about!

“Nnn… but…”

“Is there anything you’re unhappy about?”

“Well, it’s like I’m not conveying my true feelings. I want to get him to think ‘today’s a little different’, but you see, I’m usually the type to be proactive…”

“You mean you want a gap moe?”

“Yes! That’s it!”

Since ancient times, gap moe has always been able to hit the gap in the human heart! The usual me was the foreshadowing There’s no guy I wouldn’t be able to conquer! Even that blockhead of a senpai would be the same, probably!

“I think such dressup works well on those who are more serious to begin with, right? Like say—”

Instantly, all eyes were gathered on one spot.

“Eh?” “Ueehh!?”

The textbook innocence of Yumechi and the representative of plain girls Isana-chan looked confused and daunted.

“…Hoh?”

“…I see?”

Suzurin and Akki’s eyes lit up with curiosity.

Fufufu…… here we go. Let’s go wild!!!

 

Mizuto Irido ◆Otakus are usually biased against Gals (biased)

 

“Hello~! Are you from around here?”

“Nope, sorry.”

Some women were squealing away, but Hoshibe-senpai gently waved them off.

It’s the second group of women who have tried to woo us ever since we entered this shopping mall and went our separate ways from the girls. I learned for the first time today that reverse wooing actually existed, but it’s amazing how I got to see it twice in one day.

I guess we really caught attention, or rather, to the girls, it’s Hoshibe-senpai’s height. The proof was that Hoshibe-senpai, the one being wooed, was so calm as he dismissed their advances.

“Sorry to leave it to you, senpai…”

Kogure Kawanami, usually the rowdiest and most playful, would hide behind Hoshibe-senpai for some reason whenever a woman approached. Was it just me, or did he look pale?

“Ah~? It’s fine. Leave it to your seniors here. I’m surprised though, Kawanami. You aren’t good at dealing with women, are you?”

“No, well, it’s fine if they just talk to me…”

This was the same guy who once said that love should be watched and not done. Was it implying that he hated the hassle of being wooed himself?

If this was the case, he shouldn’t have split from the girls. There’s six of them, so nobody would actually try to talk to them…

“He-hello~….”

“You’re so cute~! Where do you live~? What’s your LINE account~?”

I sighed once I heard the voices directed at me.

Oy oy. What’s going on? What’s with Kobe’s security?

I looked back, wondering which idiots were ruining the safety of Japan—

“A-Aha…ahaha…h-hello~…”

“Isn’t ya Mizuto-kun! Scary me~! Are ya on LINE~?”

I was wondering where these idiots came from, but these were idiots I knew.

There’s an idiot whose appearance was as hopeless as her mental state, and an idiot would only know how to say ‘are you on LINE’ when wooing someone.

They both had open chests, short skirts, and nowhere near their usual conservative appearance. But it’s because of their timid attitudes and the wrong way they flirted that their true natures were shown.

Two gloomy people trying to imitate gals.

Yume Irido and Isana Higashira.

“What are you girls doing…?”

“U-uuu…! It’s scary! Girls being excited are really scary…!”

“It’s not so bad ya~, it’s like cosplay ya~!! It’s so exciting ya~!”

Why did someone think that ending her sentences with ‘ya’ would make her a gal?

I looked behind the idiots and found a group of girls laughing hysterically. I kind of understood what was going on.

“…So? How is this punishment game of yours supposed to end?”

“I-It’s not really a punishment game, but…”

“It ends immediately when Mizuto-kun gets smitten! Charge!”

Isana shouted like she was going to attack me as she clung onto my arm.

Ploop, my whole arm was engulfed in a soft, impressionable feeling. Isana put her chin on my shoulder “Nishishi” grinning away.

“Gals usually act like they’re close to you. They don’t care if their boobs touch you.”

“Don’t spread such bias like that.”

To begin with, you’re not acting much different from usual.

“Yume-san too, don’t be shy.”

“Ehhh!? Me too?”

“Become a proper gal! Act shameless for now!”

No, wait, hol up. It’s really bad—

“—I…I under, stand…!”

I didn’t have the time to stop her.

Yume looked determined as she hesitantly took my other arm opposite Isana—let’s go, she seemingly said as she put her full body weight onto it.

At that instant, my upper arm was covered completely, and while it’s not as impressionable as Isana, it’s bouncy enough, and sparks flew through my brain.

From up close, where I could feel her breath, Yume looked into my eyes, seemingly begging as she said,

“…How is it?”

How…so you say, but.

“A-anyway…it’s embarrassing.”

It’s not something to be done in broad daylight. I was restless to have so many curious pedestrians looking at us. At the same time, I barely managed to hold back the likelihood of my brain just malfunctioning…

Yume quickly blushed as though she too understood what I wanted to say.

“I-I guess, sorry…!”

She immediately peeled away.

I felt relieved while my right arm lost Yume’s warmth, yet at the same time, I felt a little lonely…

“Nihihi.” Meanwhile, Isana, who was still clinging onto my left arm, laughed away.

“I guess my gal power is better. Gals don’t have the common sense to care about how others look at them, and don’t feel any shame at all.”

“You too, get away from me. And stop spreading your own bias.”

“Aw!”

My released right hand nudged Isana away, and she simply broke off. Seriously, most gals would have more common sense than her.

Haa, I sighed, and let the heat escape from my head.

Goodness me…the guys were being so well behaved, but this group of girls was being so crazy.

I glanced over at Yume, who did a complete 180 from her usual conservative attire.

—You know we’re going back to the same house tomorrow, don’t you?

Like, even if you endure it today…I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, you idiot.

 

Isana Higashira ◆Got to ride this big wave

 

“Mm~n…”

Something just seemed weird.

I slurped away at my udon while seeking out the mood at the table.

Mizuto-kun was next to me, eating his yakisoba with the usual grim look, but it seemed like he’s been looking forward less often than usual. as usual. Right before him was a direction he didn’t want to look at, Yume-san, who was chatting with Minami-san next to her, not talking to Mizuto-kun at all.

It seemed like there’s some distance between those two.

I actually tried to help by leaving a seat next to Mizuto-kun at the table, but Yume-san just sat opposite him without looking.

Well, it’s much better for her to sit opposite him, but from my hazy memory, I did remember that Mizuto-kun sat next to Yume-san at the footbath.

It’s rare that Mizuto-kun got a chance to go on a trip with Yume-san, but I couldn’t get the feeling that he’s taking the initiative. Actually, I wasn’t a kid who had to be supervised 24/7.

Compared to that, I really respected senpai’s proactiveness.

Just moments ago, she wore the clothes everyone chose for her, and she was off to the meeting place. Her back looked like a warrior when she went off with determination. I just couldn’t help but marvel, thinking that the back of a maiden who had decided to confess.

…Ah, I might be sounding like an outsider, but I did confess to Mizuto-kun before too. Did I look like that back then too?

Well, Mizuto-kun and Yume-san are patching up again, so it’s not going to be that easy. Since they’re living under the same roof—it might not be possible for them to become friends like us here.

For me, if my confession hadn’t been rejected, and if we dated before something happened that results in a breakup and end up like this—yep, I guess it’d still feel awkward after all.

Speaking of which, it’s amazing these two could remain as proper stepsiblings.

If it had been me, I would have locked myself in the room and not come out, or I would have a life with my sex drive in overdrive, yep, definitely.

I finished my lunch while thinking about this, and everyone got up to leave the food court.

“Akatsuki-san, where are you going this afternoon?”

“Ah, sorry. I got some special things to do this afternoon~”

“Eh?”

Suddenly, there was an unexpected turn of events.

Minami-san quickly latched onto the arm of the frivolous guy (that Kawanami whatever) and declared outright.

“Alright, we’ll be off on a date then! See you this evening~!”

“Huh!? No, oy!!”

Minami-san dragged the confused frivolous guy and disappeared into the crowd.

Yume and I just looked on, slack-jawed.

“I had been wondering when I heard they were childhood friends…”

“W-when did they…”

He’s on such good terms with Minami-san, yet he called himself a love ROM or something. Absolutely unforgivable. Frivolous guys should die.

“…What’s going on?”

Mizuto-kun looked somewhat bewildered.

Four out of the ten students left on their dates. It’s organized by the student council, but it’s quite an ill-disciplined trip. Actually, it’d be weirder if they weren’t been dating—

“Mm.”

I had an inspiration.

Let’s go with the flow.

“Mizuto-kun.”

“Hm?”

I tugged at the hem of Mizuto-kun’s clothes, saying.

“Let’s go on a date too!”

“…Huh?”

“With Yume-san, the three of us!”

“”…Huuuh?””

 

Tōdō Hoshibe ◆My true disguise

 

I arrived at the agreed meeting place, a damn large giraffe sculpture, and found her already waiting there, fiddling with her bangs restlessly.

For a moment, I was puzzled by her attire that’s completely different from before…

She was wearing a loose knit sweater and a tight skirt just above her knees—and she had tights on her legs, probably because it’s cold out there. The childiness from before was gone, and there’s left was a calm adult-like pois.

She probably went shopping with those girls and wore them here. Kurenai probably criticized her landmine-styled fashion and forced her to buy these—

“…Yo.”

I gently waved and called out to her, and she raised her handbag from her knees…

“Senpie—”

It’s obvious she bit her tongue.

After freezing up for a moment, “P-Please wait.” She said, and turned her back to me.

“Phew…hah ….”

She heaved her shoulders a few times.

And then, she turned to face me again, leering with a mischievous smile.

“Senpai! You’re late, you know? Minus points for making a girl wait.”

I didn’t know how she could continue like this after what happened just now. Seriously, I was impressed.

“You’re just a little closer to the entrance, right? We were in the same shopping mall.”

“Oh, an excuse now? Minus 1 point.”

“Anyway, why are you the one giving points? Can I grade you points??”

“Fine then. Give points then. How many points does Aisa get today, senpai??”

Asou showed a very confident look as she put her bag behind her.

Ahh, so that’s what it was… she wanted to be praised for today’s attire.

Clothes make the person… it’s too cliché to say that though. Well then—

“A landmine has to be detected too.”

“What kind of a compliment is that!!?”

Thank goodness she cleared minesweeper—that’s pretty much the praise I was getting at. With this getup, nobody would assume she’s an approval seeking monster.

Asou deliberately pouted her lips (I guess the landmines of gestures hadn’t been cleared) and took a step closer to me.

“Don’t you notice? There’s a concept for such clothes—…”

“Ah? How would I know—?”

… No, wait?

Now that she mentioned it, I noticed. Something seemed off. What? I saw it in a magazine or something. A brown knit sweater, a blue tight skirt—

Ah.

It’s the same color as the shirt and jeans I was wearing on this day, huh?

“Fufu, did you notice?”

Asou smiled and came alongside me.

“Matching clothes, you know, senpai?”

“Some new harassment?”

“How rude~ And besides, the jacket color is different from yours, you know? You wouldn’t like it if it’s too deliberate~.”

“Ah, I see. You just cover up your shirt with the jacket in the front, huh?”

“It’s a secret couple getup, you know, senpai?”

“You’re not letting me run away anyway, right!?”

Asou’s shoulders shook as she giggled.

Goodness, she bought new clothes just for this? It’s not cheap for a student..

—I’m serious.

Why?

The serious voice I heard yesterday came to mind.

“Senpai.”

Asou said with a tone that I couldn’t determine if it’s joking or serious.

“You have a girl who gave up on her usual habits and worked hard to be by your side, you know? …Don’t you feel there isn’t enough compliment??”

…Damnit.

I couldn’t really badmouth someone who spent effort and money.

“Looks good on you. Can’t you dress up like this usually?”

“……!!”

Asou suddenly covered her mouth with her hands.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing…”

Her eyes wavered, and she turned her back away to hide her expression.

“I’m just…happier than I expected.”

There was joy seeping in her voices, and a lot less teasing.

—I’m serious.

Yesterday’s voice echoed in my mind once again.

 

Kogure Kawanami ◆Beginning Treatment

 

“—Oy! Oy wait!”

Akatsuki, tugging my arm hard, finally looked back at me after Irido and the others were no longer in sight.

“Hm? What?”

“Don’t what me! What do you mean by date!? I never heard of this!”

“Because I didn’t say it.”

Nihi, Akatsuki laughed deliberately.

“Eh? You hate it? Surprise!”

“It’s not a surprise. It’s called being demanding, okay?”

Goodness. What would happen if Higashira seized the chance to do something to Irido? It felt like the Iridos had been rather distant today…

“My my, don’t be so uptight. I gave them an opportunity.”

“Huh? An opportunity?”

“Asou-senpai will be on a date, and then it’ll be us, so won’t the others follow suit~?”

“……!”

Did she actually say it’s a date just for this…?

Akatsuki hugged my arm firmly.

“Well, it’s true that I wanted to go on a date with you.”

“…Wait—…”

“What would you do if I had said so?”

The rashes that were starting to surface were quickly eased away by Akatsuki’s annoying smile.

So she said, wait…so which is it!?

“It’s fine, it’s fine. Don’t be so worried. I’ll make sure you’ll get used to it slowly.”

“Get used to it slowly, wha…?”

Was she talking about that exposure therapy…?

Akatsuki does not answer my question, but only smiles meaningfully.

“Shall we go? It’s been a while since we went on a date, so let’s enjoy this, Kawanami.”

She didn’t call me ‘Kokkun’ as a childhood friend, but ‘Kawanami’, showing a bit of distance, and it left me a little relieved.

But it’s also obvious this relief was the great counterproof nagging at the back of my mind.

 

Yume Irido ◆Unknown Cowardice

 

“Ah! Look there, Mizuto-kun! It’s that, that!!”

“That?”

“That thing! That’s where you put your foot on when looking out at the sea!”

“…That’s not a footrest. That’s for tying a rope and docking a boat.”

“Eh!? It’s my first time knowing of this…”

I watched them from behind as Higashira-san stepped on the evenly spaced bumps on the quay, while Mizuto stood next to her, making sure she didn’t fall into the sea.

“W-What should I do…? I couldn’t talk…”

Higashira-san gave me the opportunity to talk…and even earlier, the three of us went into a bookstore in the mall and chatted a lot, but I could only talk to Higashira-san…

Even I realized that I was overthinking it! We just touched hands, in a slightly lewd manner! I mean, back in middle school, I went into his room, looking forward to my first time!

I basically regressed to being a kid, worse than an elementary school student. It’s a love regression to that of a toddler…

Why was I being so conscious of this? Weren’t we always together? There’s a hundred and one chances to do it, right? Or was it because I saw Mizuto naked in the bath the other day?

…I didn’t know. I had no idea at all.

Since I liked him, since I wanted to date him, I could have been a little more lowkey in wooing him—seeing how the President pushed a person over while dressed in a bunny suit…no, the way she tried to woo someone was extraordinary, I thought.

I really envied Asou-senpai,…she had a heart that wouldn’t give up no matter how Hoshibe-senpai dismissed her.

Didn’t she think it’s scary?

I was scared. I was scared before I started dating Mizuto. I was always scared that Irido-kun would hate me for some slight remarks when we met during summer vacation, always.

Even now, yes. I was scared. I was fearful…but it wasn’t because I was scared of being hated by him. It’s a given that I was hated for something long before.

So what was being scared of?

At this moment, what was I missing—

“Yume-san, Yume-san.”

I was lost in thought when Higashira-san called out to me.

With one hand, Higashira-san held down her hair that was disheveled by the sea breeze, and the other was pointing somewhere.

“Shall we get on that?”

“Eh?”

There was a large Ferris wheel at where Higashira-san was pointing.

 

Suzuri Kurenai ◆The student council president is the most ill-disciplined

 

Wh-What should I do? I couldn’t talk to him…

When Yume-kun and the others went on the date, the result was that I went to Ijinkan street with the same group—Ran-kun, Joe and me—and we decided to keep walking.

In other words, it’s a great opportunity.

There was no better chance to excuse myself for my shoddy escape last night.

“Woah…it’s amazing, President! It’s my first time seeing a luxury cruise!”

Ran-kun’s tiny body looked up at the towering cruise ship that was docked.

Since it’s rare for us to be close to the sea, I thought it would be interesting, and we walked around at the harbor… it’s probably Ran-kun’s first time at a harbor, and she looked around curiously, feeling moved as she spoke to me.

As a senpai, I was happy to be adored by a kouhai, but I lost my chance to speak to Joe at all. As usual, Joe had blended into the background completely. To the passers-by, it’s probably just two high school girls, Ran-kun and me.

There probably should be a chance for us to chat for a moment like how it was back at… but unfortunately, there wasn’t any chance at all.

When could I talk…! And anyway, what excuse should I give…!

The more I thought about it, the more I got stuck in quicksand, and it started to feel like I was evading Joe..

“Speaking of which…I’ve been thinking…”

Ran-kun said as she looked around.

“Walking here reminds me of the Kamo River. Why do couples like places where there is water?”

Indeed, I could see a few male and female couples scattered around. It’s not surprising since Harborland is one of the most popular spots in Kobe. However, there weren’t just couples, but also families and students like us, so it’s not that they’re all couples.

“It’s not just couples, humans like the waterside. Didn’t the four great civilizations flourished around rivers?”

“…And I just noticed the couples? Maybe it’s because of what I saw last night…”

“What you saw last night?”

“Mizuto Irido.”

Ran-kun said spitefully.

“Mizuto Irido was flirting with Higashira-san at the inn last night. They were touching each other’s faces and hugging each other, pushing their chests onto each other…l-like, at such a public place…!”

Oh? I remembered those two. They were so intimate that people would assume they were dating—hm? Then what about Yume-kun? In Joe’s view, it’s not in a love triangle…

“That’s enviable. Were they so passionate that they didn’t notice their surroundings?”

“What are you talking about, President! It’s one thing if they were in a room, but they were in the lounge where anyone could have entered! I don’t think any rational human would flirt so openly in a place where anyone could have entered at any given moment!”

“…………”

Truly.

A rational human shouldn’t have dressed up in a bunny suit to tempt a boy at a place anyone could have entered at any given moment, let alone push him down.

“I just hate this! How could someone like him end up second in our year! He looks so innocent, but he’s definitely a wild beast inside! He’s a pervert who loves to humiliate girls!”

I’m sorry.

I’m very sorry for being a pervert who enjoys telling a boy about her fetishes.

“I wish he could be more aware as a student representative with great grades, and act with more moderation and sound judgment! Just like you, president!”

“……Pretty much so.”

I shall be mindful. Moderation and sound judgment are key.

 

Tōdō Hoshibe ◆A foreshadowing would be pointless if it’s not noticed

 

The restaurant Asou had checked beforehand was a posh one with an open-air terrace overlooking the sea.

“It’s really different to actually experience it myself~!”

“Oh yeah. It’s a little intimidating for two high school students to come here.”

“I checked it out on the internet. The scene here’s really pretty at night. For it feels like it’s a toast to your eyes!”

“Shouldn’t that be my line?”

“Then say it.”

“It’s so cheesy.”

“That’s why it’s funny!”

We received the lunch that was served to us as we chatted about trivial stuff…

“Don’t say that. I mean, don’t people say that one should propose in a restaurant where there is a night view?”

“Ahh, so you’re such a person?”

“What kind of bias do you have against Aisa?”

“I guess you probably admire those shoujo manga scenes even at your age.”

“That’s the biggest insult to girls! …Well, I can’t say that I don’t admire it though.”

“That so? Then, you’re the type who wants to be toasted by the eyes? Here, cheers.”

“Hey, don’t bring your glass to my eyes. What’s the point of doing this!? Like, physically?”

“And then? What did you say about proposing?”

“Now that I’m at a restaurant where I get to see a night view—it’s not night…but I guess it’s just embarrassing to be proposed to at a place with so many people.”

“So you booked a private room?”

“Home’s the best after all! Home! Living together for a third year, both people resting in the living room, going all ‘we should get married right~’, ‘nn, alright~’, like, doesn’t that sound good!?”

“Well, it’s not like I don’t understand…”

“What’s with your vague explanation anyway…”

“I have a feeling you’ll just want a surprise in the end.”

“Surprise!? Are you saying Aisa would just propose out of a sudden like a flash mob!? How rude!”

“You’re the rude one. Apologize to all the flash mobs out there.”

“…But, senpai?”

“Ah? What are you grinning at?”

“Weren’t you just talking about proposing to Aisa? Aisa did say something like ‘I really look forward to such a marriage proposal~’, but you never asked about what were the proposal plans in the future though?”

“Just take it as if I’m talking about proposing to another woman.”

“I’m angry!”

“I thought so.”

I guess I got used to it after all. I could basically respond on instinct against her annoying harassment.

And because it’s a reflex instinct… I never thought about any other woman..

“…But well, the night view is still nice, isn’t it?”

Asou marveled as she gazed out at Kobe Harbor under this clear sky.

“It’s a little embarrassing with everyone looking…but if it’s just two of us, it’ll be great if I get to see a beautiful night view.”

“…Great? What’s great?”

“What do you think it is?”

Asou laughed, being a little vague.

I felt the foreshadowing being steadily laid out, yet I played dumb to what was happening.

 

Kogure Kawanami ◆Full throttle treatment process

 

“A little closer~!”

Akatsuki yanked me over, and then there’s a snapshot I heard from the phone.

“Great! We’re on camera! Red brick is the way to go after all!”

We arrived at the brick warehouse south of Harborland. I had been converted into a fancy café.

Akatsuki happily showed me the photos she took in front of the brick warehouse that had been weathered over the years.

“Look! It’s like a Conan cover page!”

Well yeah. It’d be perfect if we were wearing the Holmes cosplay from back at Ijinkan Street.

“..You actually took a photo of us. Do you want to show these photos or something?”

Akatsuki and I were in the photo, and from this angle, we looked so close like we’re lovers. If this was shown to anyone else, it’d just be a repeat of what happened during the study camp.

“Nothing wrong with that, right? I’ll just go back and look at it myself.”

“Yourself?”

“Like, I’m happiest at such moments. Right?”

Akatsuki tilted her head, knowing full well this childish gesture really suited her. Yep, it’s deliberate. If she thought she’s going to rattle me with this little act, that’s a big mistake.

“…Not to say it isn’t. I’m just wondering that since you wouldn’t take photos of your meals, when caused you to change your philosophy?:

“I don’t care about food photos, but I want as many photos of Kawanami as I can get.”

“…Ugh.”

I felt rashes start to cover my arm.

She wanted as many as she could get. We had seen each other’s faces for so long that we got sick of it, and at this moment, a photo or two…

I couldn’t say anything, and Akatsuki grinned at me, saying,

“Endure this. Endure this. See, I won’t be doing anything, right??”

She waved her hands before me. She’s basically indicating that she wouldn’t do anything perverted.

She wouldn’t do anything… yeah, she hadn’t laid a finger on me. She didn’t feed me, wash me, or even go to the toilet with me… yeah, it’s fine. There’s nothing to be scared off…

After taking the time to catch my breath, the rashes subsided.

“That’s good. Progressing well?”

Seeing that I was feeling better, Akatsuki nodded her head in satisfaction.

“…Are you seriously going to cure me like this…?”

“Since you aren’t scared of me, isn’t everything else easy peasy? There’s no one crazier than me now.”

“Don’t act now.”

“Heh heh heh.”

Ahh, yep, surprisingly, I could endure this after trying so.

I had a feeling that my constitution wasn’t as scary at this point as back when I was thoroughly avoiding goodwill from girls…

“It’s a medical procedure after all!”

Akatsuki wrapped her arm over my arm that was just cleared of rashes.

“I’m doing this to heal you here! Don’t be mistaken!”

“Being a tsundere really doesn’t suit you. I ain’t gonna throw up.”

“Fufuf. Go ahead and retort all you want for now.”

Akatsuki suddenly leaned over, put her mouth to my ear, and murmured as she blew in.

“(I’ll love you today until you can’t stand up. Are you ready?)”

A shiver runs down my spine.

I couldn’t tell if it was from anxiety or something else—

“—Poof—♥!”

“Woargh?

“Ahaha!! Were you scared? You were, right?”

This was definitely something else. Who would actually blow into someone else’s ears?

 

Mizuto Irido ◆If it starts to stink, cover up with a lid

 

I, Isana, and Yume entered the four person gondola in order.

I sat down, and Isana sat down in the middle seat opposite me..

“Eh? Wait, …Higashira-san?”

In that case, Yume wouldn’t be able to sit next to Isana.

Yume stood there, looking troubled, and Isana  grinned,

“Yume-san, over there please~”

…What’s with that ‘she got baited’ look on her face…

Yume looked back and forth at me and Isana, but the gondola door closed at this moment, and the gondola itself started to move.

“Oy, it’s not safe to stand.”

I had no choice but to comment, “Y-yeah…”, to which Yume replied and sat down next to me.

The scenery outside the window slowly approached the sky.

The view extended beyond the buildings, and we could see Kobe harbor entirely below us. A white cruise ship was crossing the sea.

…Even though this scene was right before my eyes, my attention was seized by the sight opposite the window..

This situation of me sitting next to Yume inevitably reminded me of yesterday’s footbath.

In hindsight, it was really trivial. We just touched our fingers. We didn’t kiss, we didn’t touch butts or chest, but why did this memory occupy my mind so much?

When we were dating, holding hands was a normal thing. Locking arms, hugging, kissing, everything was part and parcel of daily life.

And yet—yes.

I didn’t remember showing my desires so openly like yesterday.

When we were dating, when we touched, we were basically linking our hearts together. I should say we mutually opened our hearts to each other, allowed each other in, allowed each other to touch.

But…yesterday, that was.

Desire—or rather, instinct. It’s something hidden deep inside, an instinct called bestiality.

It was something that should never be shown to others.

I recognized its existence. Yume and I recognized its existence. And then—

I allowed Yume’s, and Yume allowed mine. It was filth disguised as sanity.

It was just a simple act of touching hands, but the fact that we let this happen caused our hearts to topple over…

Ah, whatever—I thought.

I gave up… on holding back.

That probably was what… I was afraid of.

“Yay~! It’s so tall~!”

Isana, oblivious to what was going on, was cheering away as she looked out of the window.

“It’s going to look so beautiful at night, right!? We arrived too early, didn’t we?”

“…Don’t people only ride a Ferris wheel at night if they’re going to confess or something?”

That was absolutely dangerous. If the night’s the only source of light, and if we’re in a completely dark locked room—I wouldn’t have the confidence to think that we wouldn’t touch.

“Oh, I see~. Then, is that senpai going to confess here after all?”

“Hm? Which senpai?”

“…Huh? Can I really mention this, Yume-san?”

Yume gave a wry smile.

“It’s fine, I guess? Asou-senpai and Hoshibe-senpai will probably be done once we meet up with them.”

Asou-senpai and Hoshibe-senpai… ah, those two. Well, I could more or less guess who’s going to confess.

“A confession during the trip? It’ll be awkward if she fails.”

“It’s fine~ they look like they get along really well, and right now, they look like they’re already dating. There’s no way she would be rejected, right?”

“…………”

“…………”

An awkward silence fell between me and Yume.

Isana looked at us in shock, “Ah” she spoke up.

“I remember when I was rejected in the same way.”

Isana laughed. Since she’s laughing, I probably didn’t have to worry that much either.

Yume gave a troubled smile,

“It’ll be great if they’re as easygoing as you, Higashira-san…”

“Well, I was gunning for Mizuto-kun’s body anyway.”

“Oy.”

It’s true that whether we’re dating or not, the only thing that would have changed would be whether sex acts would be allowed.

“But if you just want to hang out and have fun together, why not just be friends? Since you’re going to be dating, are you probably going to go for the erotic route?”

“That’s, well…”

Maybe that’s the case, Yume muttered.

—This might be the case.

The reason why I hadn’t confessed even though I decided on it might be because I had ulterior motives I wanted to deny—maybe I was subconsciously refusing to show my hidden instincts towards Yume.

Even if Yume were to forgive me, I probably wouldn’t want to see myself like this…

It’s probably just me being immaturely self-conscious. It’s probably just a matter of insignificant pride. Still, I didn’t want to express my feelings for Yume through such desires…

There’s definitely something much better, and I was seeking something that didn’t exist—

“I guess dating reasons differ based on the person.”

—It’s impossible. I knew that though.

“Isana’s unexpectedly logical, and that’s why this was the only conclusion she got. Some can’t come to terms with it. Some do think of illogical points as something to be experienced in an romantic relationship …or are you one of those people who can only see the opposite sex in physical terms? Do you look innocent and all but your mind is all perverted?”

“Uehh!?”

Yume blinked away in surprise.

She definitely never expected herself to be wooed. After all, the dam in her heart was on the verge of breaking. Who knew when it would burst.

That’s why.

We shouldn’t take it too seriously. If we did, we would end up devoured. Anything stinky had to be covered with a lid. The name of the lid’s called sanity. Since I was still myself, I could just remain sane and pretend not to notice.

“T-that’s not true though!? You have such a pitiful body!”

“I’m talking about a male body in general, not mine.”

“Uggh…!”

“Don’t give me that! Some even go after their fellow female bodies in general!”

“Work on your personality in general.”

All we could do now is to let bygones be bygones.

Only by doing so could we remain as ourselves.

 

Jouji Haba ◆She acts sulky after throwing herself at me

 

My specialty—or rather, my habit, was human observation.

I would blend into the background and observe the people around me. It’s the only thing I could do. Nobody would notice me, and nobody would talk to me. Before I knew it, I could analyze someone’s personality from the expression, gestures, tone and various other signals.

That’s how I knew.

Kurenai-san was avoiding me.

The reason was obvious. It was about what happened last night. I got pushed down by Kurenai-san, who was dressed in a bunny suit, whispering to me with sweet words, and before I knew it—

…I couldn’t help it. I’m an ordinary man after all. Rather, it’s weird if I didn’t have a reaction. I should say it’s amazing that I managed to control myself until this point.

But,

Kurenai-san felt something abnormal on her ass at that moment, and immediately scampered off. She’s the one seducing—maybe she didn’t think so, but she probably felt that she was doting on a harmless animal. After I suddenly bared my fangs, she naturally reacted warily.

She probably…hated it as a girl.

…Well, it’s not that Kurenai-san shouldn’t stay away from me. It’s weird for her to cling onto me to begin with. It’s just back to how it’s supposed to be.

But…I wanted to apologize at least.

As a person, I felt that I should draw a line here.

I would disappear from her world like normal, but if it’s that much—

I was looking for that opportunity all day.

And the time finally came.

“Excuse me. I need the toilet…”

It happened when we entered the Kobe Maritime Museum next to the harbor. Asuhain-san said this and went off alone.

Only Kurenai-san and I were left behind.

It was the perfect opportunity.

“Joe—”

The moment Kurenai-san turned around, I bowed my head.

“I’m sorry.”

“…Eh?”

We were in the museum, and when she heard my hushed apology, Kurenai-san let out a bewildered voice.

“I’m really sorry for making you uncomfortable yesterday. If you’re willing, I’ll even quit the student council—”

“Wa-wait a minute!”

Kurenai-san shouted out loud, looked around in a panic, then quickly hushed her voice.

“(I-I was the one who started everything yesterday, right? Why are you apologizing?)”

“(…You were avoiding me today because that was uncomfortable, right?)”

“(N-No! T-Today, erm…)”

After mumbling a few words, Kurenai-san forcibly lifted my head.

“(Anyway! What happened last night wasn’t your fault! I don’t feel uncomfortable about that Actually, I’m loving it)”

“(Eh?)”

“(…No, I’m sorry. That was a slip of the tongue…anyway, you don’t have to quit the student council!)”

“(Then…why were you running away from me?)”

“(Th-That’s…)”

Kurenai-san’s porcelain-white skin turned red, and her emerald eyes wavered around, seemingly seeking help.

After looking around everywhere for a while, she glanced up at me, and said,

“(Like, the sudden feeling was like… was it such a thing, and it shocked me… I was a little scared…)”

…Shocked?

Scared?

That…Kurenai-san?

“(I just wanted to tempt you!)”

Kurenai-san spoke up, as though she was finally opening up.

“(But I couldn’t help it! I’m just a proper virgin! I only worked on the theory part! Of course I would be a little apprehensive when it comes to the real thing.)”

“(You make it sound so impressive even though you were being pathetic…)”

“(Ehhhh shut up! We wouldn’t be in this situation if you let me eat you up!)”

Well… that might be the case.

Haa… Kurenai-san let out a deep sigh.

“(I was going to make an excuse, it is useless.)”

“(Somehow…I feel sorry.)”

“(Enough. I have decided.)”

Kurenai-san looked up at me with determined eyes.

It was as if a light was released from it, shining on my face.

“(I won’t be shocked next time. I won’t get scared. I shall be prepared.)”

“(…Prepared, as in?)”

“(My side. You only need to know. The next time you have a boner when facing me, that will be the moment you lose your virginity!)”

Bo…eh, she’s talking about such vulgar stuff openly again…well, it’s a vulgar matter, so it’s more or less unavoidable.

Anyway, just when I was thinking—this matter all settled.

“(…By the way.)”

Kurenai-san hushed her already hushed voice further.

“(Erm…how did you deal with it after that?)”

“(…Huh? Deal with it, as in?)”

“(Because, you see…when boys are like that, they won’t regrow back if you don’t deal with it, right…?)”

………….

“(Kurenai-san, please discard those reference materials.)”

“How!? How did you know I learned this from reference?)”

“(Because it’s wrong.)”

Somebody, anybody, please provide proper sex education to this person. I didn’t have the confidence to teach her myself.

 

Asou Aisa ◆In the normal everyday life, I fell in love normally

 

At first, I was hostile towards him.

I was furious by the high-handed advice from him. That’s why I got serious and tried to get back at him. It’s pointless, that’s the stare senpai gave me, and I wanted to get rid of that. That’s what I thought when I tried to woo him.

When did that turn into affection?

Maybe, surely, I wouldn’t know… the opportunity came from a really trivial, everyday scene.

—Oy!

It happened when I was working in the student council room. I was searching the shelves, looking for materials. Senpai shouted loudly, Eh? And I turned around.

Thunk, there was a sound.

It came from above.

I looked up to see the cardboard box on the shelf tumbling over. I couldn’t react. I could only watch it happen.

So I could only stand and look dumbfounded until senpai came running over to hold up the box with both arms outstretched.

Ah, I murmured.

I finally remembered what I should say.

—Thank you, very much…

—It’s nothing… be careful.

Ah, yep, it’s cliche.

But then again, wait, I didn’t have a crush on him just because of this little thing. If I fell in love just because he protected me a little, my first love would have happened much earlier.

Shown through my eyes, etched in my heart was.

Haa, it was the look senpai had after a sigh..

Even till this day, I didn’t know what expression it was.

Was he relieved, shocked? Confused, or hesitant—?

He just …looked weak.

His face looked very, very weak.

—He actually had such an expression.

The student council president was always aloof and invincible. The iron-faced senpai could react calmly no matter what I did..

It was only then—that he looked like me, a weak human being.

…It’s sleazy, it’s sleazy of you, senpai.

How could I forget such a face? Girls are weak to gap moe, you know?

I was the one who wanted to etch myself in your eyes—

But you’re the one who etched yourself in mine. What should I do?

And when I noticed, everything happened so naturally. I found myself increasingly paying attention only to senpai’s face, like I yearned to see his expression again.

This too became my daily routine.

—Yes, it’s nothing special.

It could be in the student council room, a café, chatting about mobile games, introducing interesting anime and manga, meaningless time. The insignificant time I spent next to him was the most important to me.

That’s why I didn’t have anything special in mind today.

I overdressed a little, went to a game center for the first time. These were all spices, and we just needed to be the same as usual, like before—I want to become the most important girl to you, senpai, to continue everything.

Let’s make it a fun day.

Let’s make it a fun day which has been ordinary as always, until now.

So, at the end of it all, just a little.

Will you go out with this serious me?

“Senpai.”

Time passed.

Before I knew it, the sunset lit the sky.

“For our final stop… would you like to ride the Ferris wheel?”

 

Akatsuki Minami ◆Just desserts

 

“Wow. Is it this late already?”

I lifted my head up and saw that the blue sky was turning red.

I had a look at the time on the phone, and found that it’s past 4pm. We’re entering late November, and it’s worrying that the sun will set early. It’s basically the time for elementary school kids, that we had to think about going home.

Yeah—that’s the time when I called out to him that we’re heading home back then.

Since we were neighbors, we would be playing together even after returning home. Kokkun pulled my hand as if he was dealing with a little sister.

Ahh—what’s the term for it again? I read up on it in a manga or something.

“What is it called, Kawanami?”

“…………”

Kawanami didn’t answer. I glanced aside at him, and found him blue faced, his lips pursed.

…We were just sitting on a bench together, and I just put my head on his shoulder.

Even this little thing… couldn’t be allowed?

My chest pricked and ached. Was it sadness? Or did I feel sorry for Kawanami? Maybe I should stop. Nope, if I stopped here and spared him, it wouldn’t be effective treatment. He’s a goner. I didn’t want to continue hurting Kokkun. Let’s stop flirting. It’s a wound I caused. If it’s not up to me to take care of me, then who??

Just desserts.

I finally managed to find the appropriate term. Yes, it’s called just desserts..

Everything that happened in middle school was my fault. Kokkun was upset when he hit me at the hospital, but it was my just desserts too. I treated him like a doll, and played with him like a doll. That bit of insult wasn’t enough.

The me that just couldn’t help but want to return to that time still remained in my heart.

At this moment, the desire still ran wild in me. I wanted to let Kokkun lie down while he’s uncomfortable, undress him, wipe every corner of his body, cook porridge for him, blow it cool for him, eat with him, and give lots of good night kisses until he slept. I suppose it’s this helpless fetish I had.

I probably should just remain single for the rest of my life.

Either he died, I died, or both died—I could easily imagine such outcomes. I felt it would be great if Kokkun could get a new girlfriend.

But at the very least, I wished to remain as his childhood friend.

Kokkun too cherished the memories of being childhood friends with me. I hoped to at least remain as childhood friends.

This would be the last time.

We wouldn’t be holding hands, putting heads on each other’s shoulders, locking arms while walking. Everything would end on this day..

I just wanted to leave this position to someone else—to clear up my mess, and return to being just a childhood friend.

The negative legacy would be cleared.

“……Time really, passes, huh?”

I heard a grunt, and looked up into Kokkun’s face.

“Time passes like an arrow, so you can’t waste it…I guess that’s what it means.”

“…Are you alright?”

“Yeah…thanks to you, I guess…I’m getting a little used to it.”

Kokkun forced a smile while looking blue.

“Is that so?”

Thank goodness—I couldn’t say that yet.

If I did feel relief, it would surely show overwhelming goodwill.

“You’re surprisingly knowledgeable, aren’t you? Even for an idiot.”

“I’m not an idiot. I managed to make it to Rakurou… don’t lump me with Irido.”

“We can’t waste time as it flies by like an arrow…huh?”

My ears hurt when I heard that. I looked up at the sunset.

I wouldn’t waste it. I definitely wouldn’t waste it.

I caused Kokkun so much suffering… and I definitely, definitely wouldn’t allow that to happen.

 

Tōdō Hoshibe ◆What was broken was

 

Do something if you have time.

The words that led me to the student council were pretty much something of that effect.

It just happened.

After I quitted basketball, I had nothing to do, when someone just told me to ‘do something if you have time’. I hadn’t found my brand new self, and there was an opportunity given to me. I just went over and seized it. That’s all I did.

I never thought I would end up as the student council president—I did what I felt I could do, and before I knew it, it just happened. I didn’t have any particular plans or reasons. It just happened…

It’s just that—yes.

If the price of quitting basketball was becoming student council president, that’s worth it. Since the senpais invited me, I had to oblige them somehow.

Such thoughts… often crossed the back of my mind.

Because, yeah, if I had been slacking on rehab, my left shoulder couldn’t recover, right? If that’s the case, I couldn’t do anything about it at this moment. It’s still better than doing nothing, right—?

…Yeah, that would be fine.

I would be fine with it if I had such a flimsy excuse.

And yet, at that moment.

—Oy!

Asou turned around in surprise. And that wasn’t it. Wait, you didn’t see it? You got a box above your head. It’s going to fall on you!

It was as soon as I could. I stretched my arms out. I managed to catch the box that was going to land on Asou’s head in the nick of time.

Asou looked up above her. Ah, she blurted.

—Thank you, very much…

—It’s nothing… be careful.

I felt relieved during the initial seconds.

And then, I felt a chill run down my spine.

And then there was more.

I found myself lifting both arms over my shoulders—but there wasn’t any pain.

—Ahh.

I was already healed.

The onIy thing that wasn’t healed was my heart.

The one I didn’t dare to face seriously was myself.

 

Asou Aisa ◆I don’t dream big like Cinderella

 

After queuing for a while, both of us entered the round gondola, just the two of us.

The sky had turned completely dark while we were waiting. The doors closed, and the gondola shook a little as it slowly rose towards the night.

“You’re not afraid of heights, are you?”

Senpai, sitting on the opposite seat, said so.

“I’m totally fine. I stood on the transparent floor of the Sky Tree when I went to Tokyo.”

“Really? I can’t really handle such places…”

“Aren’t you usually at a high place?”

“Don’t count my height in this.”

I giggled. He’s just like usual. That’s why he didn’t notice how tense I was all over…

I had decided this would be the last stop.

The night scene of Kobe was overly dramatic, but I guess this cliché part might be great. It’s like making a little joke, and I thought my feelings could take shape..

Ah, but—I didn’t manage to act as planned. I didn’t think I’d be this nervous. I didn’t have the confidence to say it out well. The line I practiced tens of thousands of times seemed to be falling onto the ground that’s becoming distant.

Senpai.

We really were on bad terms to begin with, right? No, that’s before this. We didn’t even have a proper talk. Both of us probably weren’t really interested in each other.

Senpai.

We had such a relationship, but you actually dared to lecture me? Wasn’t that just giving instructions? I learned then that it’s not always nice to be meddlesome. That’s why I kept clinging onto you.

Senpai.

I was surprised to find out that you were an otaku. But I was a little happy. It’s amazing that we could share hobbies. See, I got snagged easily too. You’re like a gloomy character opening up to a gal. Do understand though. Once someone you can’t handle finds a common point, she usually feels much closer to you, you know?

Senpai.

Senpai.

Senpai.

The gondolas approached the sky. The cruise ships were sailing on the sea. The cluster of buildings were stretched across the horizon. The glittering night scene of Kobe was seemingly studded with jewels, stretching everywhere.

If the night scene was this beautiful, would I be able to have a beautiful magic?

I only need the magic of this moment. Like Cinderella, I didn’t need my dream to be as lofty as Cinderella. Just five minutes. No, three. No no, it’s fine even if it’s just this moment, let me become the prettiest girl in the world.

I wanted to convey my true feelings to him. I want to tell him how I really feel.

“Senpai—”

I left the script on the floor.

At the moment the gondola was closest to the night sky, the words came out naturally.

 

“—Please look at me for the rest of my life.”

I didn’t try to disguise anything as I was being truthful.

The wishes and desires became words.

 

“And I shall only look at you for the rest of my life, senpai.”

 

The glow of the night scene caused senpai’s eyes to twinkle like a kaleidoscope.

 

“I love you—Please be my boyfriend.”

 

The gondola shook lightly as I spoke the decisive words.

But neither senpai nor I shook at all, and we didn’t utter a sound.

The starlight and the beautiful night scene shone into this cramped, dim gondola, lighting it up like a stage.

The silent lights shone upon us like a spotlight.

In this world, only the two of us stood on this stage.

“…Phew.”

Senpai froze up for a moment, exhaled, and sat upright on the seat.

He then stared at me.

He wasn’t being aloof. He wasn’t looking annoyed. He wasn’t looking lazy like when he was napping in school, he was showing a serious expression.

“Asou, I—”

Senpai then told me his answer.

 

Yume Irido ◆Answer

 

The sunset sky signaled the arrival of winter.

I gently rubbed my shoulders. Before I knew it, it’s the season to want to wear more coats. It’s fine wearing thin clothing in the day, but it was a little unbearable to be wearing autumn clothing at night. Of course, having been forced to wear gal clothing as a prank by the other girls, Higashira-san and I had changed back as it was too cold out there…

“Aisa’s late…”

The president muttered as she stared at her phone.

We were all notified of the gathering time on LINE. 4.30pm, in front of the Kirin statue. WE acted properly as members of the student council should and gathered on time, and the girls naturally stopped as they looked over at the Gas Light street where Asou-senpai probably would arrive from Gas Light Street.

The orange gas street lamps were evenly spaced on the walkway, giving a Christmas season-like mood, and there were many couples walking. We were waiting for Asou-senpai to walk alongside Hoshibe-senpai among the crowd.

It should be over by now.

I hadn’t heard of the plan, but we were supposed to regroup at this time. That’s why—Asou-senpai should be done with her confession by now.

It’s almost 5pm.

She’s 30 minutes late but we continued to wait without complaining.

“—Ah!”

President blurted softly.

A tad later, I found her too. There was someone a head taller than the crowd.

Hoshibe-senpai!

Next to him was—Asou-senpai, who was dressed in the date outfit we chose for her in the morning.

“…Phew.”

President showed a smile and heaved a sigh of relief.

I too felt relieved. Both of them walked together under the gas lamps, and there wasn’t any awkwardness between them. They were walking close enough to touch arms, and nothing seemed off about them even as compared to the couples surrounding them.

“Senpai!”

We waved at them and welcomed them back.

Hoshibe-senpai took one look at us, and silently walked towards Mizuto and the boys.

…Eh?

Something’s wrong… and I finally noticed.

“Senpai—”

I looked at Asou-senpai’s face.

Senpai looked at all of us.

And suddenly… she smiled.

“Thanks everyone.”

It was a crying face taking shape as a smile.

No words were necessary, and the final answer was conveyed through that expression.

5 thoughts on “[Motokano V8] Chapter 4 – I’ll (atashi) show you my true self

  1. This volume literally showed no romance progression between Mizuto and Yume. Getting really tired now. 8 Volumes in and they still get embarrassed holding hands and after just holding hands she avoids him? Like come on show a bit more progress.

    1. I’m surprised I haven’t dropped this novel I just couldn’t stop reading but yeah its getting boring and to be honest I couldn’t care less about the other couples

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