“Just for a little while will be fine— Please become my boyfriend!”
Miichan declared so with a nervous voice.
Her cheeks were coloured bright red and her eyes, looking at me in an upturned gaze, were filled with a mixture of hope and worry.
Embarrassingly enough, I thought for a moment that I was confessed to and was thus a bit surprised, but….I got the feeling that it wasn’t really like that. For starters I should think about it rationally.
A certain day in the later half of summer vacation. Nazuna’s friend Sakurai Miyuki aka Miichan had come over to our house to consult with me.
On the other hand, I just had returned home from the bookstore, where I purchased the long-awaited new volume of a novel. I had wanted to read it right away, but I had shown up in the living room, where Miichan brought up “I have a favour to ask…” and then spoke the sentence from earlier.
But it weren’t just Miichan and me in the living room. My little sister Nazuna and our three freeloaders— Luna, Machina Liebelei Orangelo and Elni were here too.
There was really no need to bring that up in front of them, besides I found Miichan’s words to be strange to begin with.
“Hey, what do you mean by ‘just for a little while will be fine’? Don’t tell me, you’re just after my body?”
“Wh- What would you do if… I said I was?”
On my light joke, Miichan responded with a flirtatious glance.
To be honest, to me she only looked like a little kid, who played a mischievous little devil by stretching herself. I felt sorry for Miichan, but it was at least five years too early.
“…Miichan, if you’re really only after my body, then I will lecture you for nearly an hour now… What do you say?”
“I, I’m sorry! I told a lie! I don’t want to be hated by you!”
Good, she apologized honestly. A certain maid would have kept her cool with “O- Oh my, Shinobu-sama, do you plan to train me through scolding!? This is really perverted. Just bring it on!”.
Miichan indeed was a weird girl. But this honest side of her was cute.
Not like the perverted maid Kaorun aka Kaoru wasn’t cute, but… that aside here. It was about time I asked about the circumstances.
“So, why do you want me to become your boyfriend? I take you have some kind of reason for it.”
“…Uhm, this could take some time. Do you mind?”
“No, it’s okay. I have time. Let me hear it.”
Placing the paper bag with the novel on the table, I sat down on the sofa and urged her with a smile.
Miichan opened her mouth with a somewhat distant look in her eyes.
“It happened during the cleaning after school on a school day during summer vacation. When I went to throw out the trash, the trash bin was heavier than I imagined, so I tripped in the hallway.”
“…Ehm, you didn’t get hurt?”
“No. It was no problem, since I’m used to tripping.”
So Miichan tripped a lot. For some reason I could easily imagine that. While thinking something kind of rude in my heart, Miichan continued with a “But”.
“when I tripped, a nearby upperclassman reached out a hand for me with a “’Let me help you’.”
“Hee… Sounds like a nice person.”
“Indeed. It was a really cool and kind senior. At that time we didn’t have much time to talk, but Senpai asked someone like me to become friends. We also exchanged our cell phone numbers.”
…Wait a moment. Exchanging numbers out of the blue? Wasn’t he just hitting on her? It might be too early to reach a conclusion, but instead of a nice guy, he was more of a frivolous guy, in my opinion.
“Then while we exchanged mails and talked over the phone, we got to know each other better. I was really happy to get a new friend.”
Raising the corners of her mouth, Miichan showed a smile. In regards to that Nazuna slowly raised her hand as to signalize that she wanted to say something.
“What is it, Nazuna-kun?”
“Yes! I was a bit jealous just now! I’m worried Miichan might be taken away from me!”
“Yeah, good to see you’re so honest. But let’s talk about that later. Can you stay quiet for the time being?”
Nazuna saluted full of energy. She obediently closed her mouth. But, now Miichan raised her hand with attitude.
“What’s up, Miichan?”
“Yes! I was really moved just now! I want to emphasize that Nazuna-chan is my best friend!”
“Miichan! I feel the same!”
Along with their words, Miichan and Nazuna clung to each other. Luna and Machina watched over them with a smile. While Elni casually hugged Nazuna and Miichan.
“…Well, we all know now that you’re best friends, so can we get back on topic?”
When I asked so while leaking a single wry smile, Miichan nodded small and got away from Nazuna regretful.
“Ehm, as we got along very well, it turned out that we would go play together with just the two of us…”
For no apparent reason, Nazuna cut into Miichan’s words and raised her hand again.
“…I sure hope that you don’t want to say ‘I wanted to play with her too!’.”
“Ehh!? How did you know? Are you an esper, Brother?”
“Yeah, actually I am. I’ll convey my feelings to you now per telepathy. ‘Brother will be angry if you keep butting in. Be a good girl and stay quiet on Luna’s lap’. Did you feel it?”
“Yeah! I felt it! You’re amazing, Brother!”
I didn’t know what was so amazing, but Nazuna’s eyes sparkled and she rested her cheek on Luna’s cheek, like I had told her. Seeing that, Miichan faintly flushed her cheeks and looked at my thighs.
“Uhm, can I continue my story on your lap, Shinobu-oniisan?”
“Prepare 10k yen first, then we can negotiate.”
“Uhh! I wanted to buy a game this month, but if it’s for a lap pillow…!”
“No, no. Don’t start taking out your wallet while sobbing. Just to tell you, it was a joke. So put away the 10k yen bill. Same for you, Luna.”
A bit shocked, I gave Miichan and Luna a light warning then opened my mouth to get back on topic.
“—So, did something happen with that senior?”
“Yes. On the arranged day, I played with Senpai until evening, but when we split up, well, Senpai confessed to me. ’Please go out with me’ is what Senpai said…”
He really might have just been hitting on her. Somehow I got the gist of things. Miichan continued while showing a complex expression.
“Of course I declined politely. I certainly like Senpai. But I just couldn’t imagine being lovers. But Senpai just wouldn’t give up… so I told a lie.”
“A lie? What kind of?”
“Well, I ended up saying ’I already have a boyfriend’. Then Senpai made a serious face and lowered the head to me with ’Please let me meet him’. I couldn’t really turn down the favour, nor could I tell that it was a lie…”
I didn’t know if that senior just couldn’t give up on Miichan or if he saw through her lie. Still, my cute, younger friend was in trouble. I couldn’t just leave her alone.
“I understand. In other words, you want me to play your boyfriend in front of that senior, so that you’ll be left alone?”
“That’s right… Can I ask you to do that?”
“Yeah, leave it to me. I can manage at least that much.”
Well, it should work somehow as long as we matched our stories. I replied with a big nod to Miichan, whose eyes were rocking in worry.
There Machina pulled on my sleeve a bit worried.
“Hey, Shinobu. are you sure you should promise that so easily? Can you play the boyfriend role properly?”
“Don’t worry. On that day I’ll show you acting worth of a Hollywood star. I’ll make it a Die Hard development. Even Rambo would get pale.”
“…I’m worried after all. What do you think a boyfriend is? I’m getting pale on your idea as well.”
Machina wearily covered her face with one hand, but Elni and Luna both opened her mouth with a smile, as they didn’t seem especially worried.
“Machina, I don’t think you need to worry that much. The gigolo skill is a standard configuration for Shinobu. Just behaving like always will make the girls be at his feet.”
“Because Shinobu-san is so cool.”
“…Now that you mention it, somehow, I agree. Shinobu is a playboy.”
It was a quite unsatisfactory evaluation, but Machina was convinced by it, so oh well.
However, what about me was a natural gigolo or a playboy? For a while I continued to wonder in my heart…
Chapter 01: Miichan’s senior
Afterwards it was decided that we would make a date plan for said day. But just when I thought how quiet she had been for a while now, Nazuna was soundly sleeping on Luna’s lap.
I carried Nazuna to the bed in her room while Luna went out shopping for dinner, so right now there were Machina, Elni and me in the living room together with Miichan.
With these members we started our planning.
“Miichan, you said that senior would always match the schedule to yours, right?”
“Yes, seems any time this week works out.”
“Then let’s get it over quickly. That should be favourable to both of you, Miichan, Shinobu… Tomorrow would be too early, so let’s make it the day after.”
Without time for Elni or me to interject, Machina and Miichan smoothly advantaged the matter.
“Mhm~ Machina-oneesan, where should we go for the date? The cinema or aquarium sounds fun.”
“That doesn’t sound bad, but it won’t be just you two, but three people and it’s just a fake date. It might be better to go with an effortless department shopping.”
“Nothing less of you, Machina-oneesan. Then the great department hall in…”
…Yeah, there was no point of me being here. Elni probably felt the same as me, as she made a lonely face and pulled on my sleeve.
“Hey Shinobu, wanna play some word chain?”
“Yeah, of course. I was hoping you would say that. Well then, I’ll start with ‘All beloved Shinobu’.”
“U, U, U… Ugly.”
“You dare to call me ugly!”
“Mh, you gave me back a ‘y’. Then— You, shut up!”
“No, no, this isn’t really a word chain anymore.”
When I retorted with that, Machina called out with a sigh.
“Hey, I couldn’t care less about Elni, but you have to listen seriously, Shinobu. Even if fake, you’re going to be Miichan’s boyfriend…”
While saying so, Machina suddenly compared Miichan and me with her eyes.
Then she raised a voice and cast down her eyes awkwardly for some reason.
“I just noticed something that I shouldn’t.”
“Mh? What’s up, Machina? If you mean that Luna’s breasts became bigger again, I also somehow suspected that.”
“Oh, you knew as well, Elni? Sister’s brassiere size went up one size again— wait, no! Sister told me to keep it a secret, so don’t expose it, Elni!”
“No, actually you’re the one exposing it, Machina.”
When I pointed that out, Machina avoided my glance and reddened her cheeks lightly, then she held up her index finger with “Ssh” like it didn’t concern her.
…I could understand that she lose her head, but what was up with that reaction? That was kind of cute.
Inadvertently I forgot to retort. Then Elni opened her mouth to get back on topic.
“So, what did you notice, Machina?”
“Mhm~ I don’t really want to say it, but, Shinobu, can you try standing next to Miichan for a moment?”
Just what was up? I wondered in my heart and stood besides Miichan, like I was told. There Elni raised a small voice just like Machina.
“…I see that you noticed it as well, Elni?”
“Yeah, it’s really hard to say, but… well, you two absolutely don’t look like a couple. To be honest, you’re close siblings at best.”
“I, I’m shocked!”
Making an exaggerated face like the world had ended, Miichan’s eyes dwelled up with tears.
There Machina opened her mouth to make a follow up.
“I- It’s just like Elni says, you two don’t look like a couple. But if you behave like a proper couple, I guess your senior will be convinced?”
“Ehm, so what should I do explicitly…?”
Miichan pondered with her well-formed eyebrows frowned. On the other hand, Machina put her index finger against her cheek in thought and said after a short pause.
“…How about you change the way you call each other? Miichan, you call Shinobu with ‘Shinobu-oniisan’, right? I think you should call him something more befitting for a boyfriend.”
“That is a great idea! I’ll try it right away!”
With a lively voice, Miichan faced me and declared with a smile.
Instantly, Machina and I snorted at nearly the same time. For some reason Elni gave a big nod and gave Miichan an applause, but I left that aside. Wearily, I opened my mouth.
“Miichan, stop with that.”
“…Could it be, you’re more of the ‘My Lord’ type, Shinobu-oniisan? Or are you the ‘Sir!’ type? I’m fine with either!”
“Mhm, I’m not so sure about the types, but let’s see… if I have to choose one, I would go with the first ‘Master’— no, wait. Miichan, you shouldn’t force yourself into anything and just behave like always.”
It was more likely to turn weird otherwise. Machina also nodded in agreement with me and opened her mouth after a single wry smile.
“Shinobu is right. Besides, if you were to call him ‘Master’, I believe your senior would go beyond pale and pop some veins on the forehead.”
“B- But, in anime or games, boys are really pleased when they are called that by a girl.”
“Well, I certainly might be pleased when we’re all alone….wait, you don’t need to take any notes, Elni, Miichan.”
Warning the two of them, I continued with a sigh.
“But Miichan, for argument’s sake, what if someone saw me being called ‘Master’ by a middle school girl. And what if that someone are you parents, then it would be the worst. If things go bad, I’ll be arrested. As you can see, it’s better you keep calling me like you always have.”
“Mhm~ But I think my parents would be all that concerned about it.”
“…You have some really broad-minded parents.”
“No, that’s not really the case. If anything, they are neurotic… but they don’t seem to care about me.”
While saying so, Miichan lowered the ends of her eyebrows and showed a somewhat lonely smile, whereupon Machina tilted her head doubtful.
“Don’t care, you say… but they’re your parents, right? So that can’t really be, can it?”
“…I wonder? Both father or mother rarely come home and even if they come back by chance, they only fight and hardly talk with me.”
Dropping her voice, Miichan looked down just like that. But soon enough she raised her head and showed a forced smile.
“But I’m perfectly fine. I don’t get scolded for staying up late and I can play my favourite games for hours without getting reprimanded. It’s quite comfortable.”
Actually, she likely wasn’t fine at all. I could tell by looking at her. But even when I irresponsibility were to get upset with “Her parents are at fault”, Miichan would without doubt just be hurt.
Anyone would hate it if you spoke bad about his family.
So I couldn’t say anything and instead reached out my hand for Miichan.
“Miichan, if anything happens, you’re always free to come over. I’ll help you out, if you want.”
When I softly petted her head,
“I knew it, you’re so kind, Shinobu-oniisan.”
Miichan’s eyes filled with tears and she looked down once more to hide it.
Upon that, Elni clung to Miichan wordless from behind and Machina leaked a faintly trembling voice.
“…Miichan, sleep over today.”
“Hey, hey, Machina. This isn’t a funeral. So stop with such a voice…wait, are you crying?”
“I, I’m not crying, idiot! Why would I have to cry! I’m not that lachrymose!”
No, even if she denied that with such red eyes close to tears, it wasn’t convincing at all.
I thought so, but didn’t say anything tactless and closed my mouth that I had opened to say something.
At that time, Miichan smiled faintly and raised her head, then showed a bright smile.
“Thank you, Elni-san, Machina-oneesan. I would really like to sleep over, but I haven’t prepared anything for it and I have been imposing on you for a long time already, so it’s time I take my leave.”
Saying so while still smiling, Miichan faced me.
“Shinobu-oniisan, I’m looking forward to the date.”
“Yeah, be a good girl and wait.”
“Yes! I’ll be a good girl! I’ll go donate some blood right away!”
…Somehow, she said some strange stuff again.
“Miichan, just to tell you, you have to be at least sixteen years old to donate blood.”
“Ehh!? I- Is that so!? Then, what exactly am I supposed to do to be a good girl?”
“Just go to bed early and wake up early, I guess?”
Hard pressed on an answer, I said something harmless for now.
—Well, with that Miichan left the words “Give Nazuna-chan my regards” and went home…
* * *
Then two days passed and it was the day for the date with Miichan. I fixed my appearance and showed up in the living room. Elni and Nazuna were there.
The two of them weren’t dressed casually, but dressed up to go out.
“Mh? You two are going out?”
When I asked casually, both Nazuna and Elni nodded with a smile.
“In opposition to your date with Miichan, El-chan and me are going to have one too.”
“Makes you envious, right Shinobu. I’ll have a Saturday Night Fever with Nazucat all night long. Let’s go, Nazucat. I know of a good place, where you can enjoy the pretty night view. I won’t let you go home tonight!”
“Meow! I don’t want to go home tonight either!”
When Nazuna happily clung to her with a smile, Elni pointed her index finger to an imaginary camera with a narration tone.
“—After the CM, Nazucat will be Cinderella. Don’t switch the channel!”
“Mhm, this is a kind of interesting development, but I don’t have any time, so I’ll be going now. Don’t forget to call if it gets too late.”
When I told them so, Elni held up her thumb.
“Roger! You have a date with today, right Shinobu? Show Miichan’s senior who the boss is! Settle it cool! That’s important!”
“Hey, hey, Elni. what are you saying? I’m always cool. If you take the coolness away from me, all I have left will be my handsomeness.”
When I cracked a joke, Elni smiled faintly and Nazuna’s eyes sparkled.
“Nothing less from you, Shinobu. I have nothing to say any more. Miichan’s senior might even fall for you, Shinobu.”
“Yeah! Brother is a good guy!”
“Well, because my sincerity shows on my face.”
While getting a bit embarrassed, I waved my hand lightly to Luna, who came to send me off, and left the house. Then I headed to the meeting place— the fountain at the station.
….Reminded me, it was the same meeting spot as with the first date with Hijiri.
In the strong sunlight that scorched on my skin, I arrived in front of the station with these thoughts. Even though it was still thirty minutes before the arranged times, Miichan was already there.
Miichan wore a neat, white one-piece and a slightly large straw-hat. She looked like a rich lady on a first glance.
Suddenly, I felt my cheeks forming a smile and Miichan also noticed me.
She came over with a smile.
On the way, she tripped perfectly, stopped moving and just lay there motionless like that.
“….H- Hey, are you okay?”
When I approached hastily, Miichan raised her head with a small moan.
“Uhh… It’s the long-awaited date, yet I already failed right at the beginning.”
“W- Well, everyone makes failures. Even Luna trips on even ground, so don’t worry about it too much. Actually, could it be that you’re nervous?”
“…Yes. When I thought about how I, whose power is still unknown, will have a date with my adored Shinobu-oniisan, I just couldn’t sleep last night from all the excitement.”
“Hee, I feel honoured. …By the way, the idiom you used actually goes like this: ‘whose future is still unknown’, you know?”
“Hauh! I failed again! Unconsciously my adolescent delusions of grandeur came oust— aw, I bit my tongue! I’m done for!”
While saying so, her cheeks turned red like on fire and Miichan hid her face with her straw-hat.
A funny girl as ever. I felt my cheeks forming a smile again and reached my hand out for her, petting her head. Then I chit-chatted for a while with her.
Suddenly Miichan raised a small voice and pulled jerkily on my sleeve.
“Shinobu-onissan, my senior is here.”
“…Quite early here as well.”
When I dropped my gaze on my wristwatch, there were still ten minutes until the arranged time. However, arriving at the meeting time ahead of the arrange time made a good impression.
So, what kind of person was it?
If I could tell that it was a frivolous guy, I would have to… Mh? H- Huh? W- Wait a moment. ….For real?
Following Miichan’s gaze, I affirmed the person and inadvertently was at a loss for words.
Strong-willed eyes, extremely well-ordered features and long, slender legs. Dressed in a jeans with a look that exposed the navel. On a quick glance, you might think it was a pretty boy, but judging by the for a middle schooler well-developed two breasts, it was without doubt a girl.
…I- It couldn’t have been more unexpected. Of course Miichan would turn down a confession when it was from a girl. While I was indeed a bit shaken, the girl glared at me furiously as soon as she reached us. She leaked a threatening, low voice.
“…Who are you?”
“As you can see, a human.”
“In, Indeed… wait, that wasn’t what I was asking!”
When the girl raised her voice while frowning, Miichan hastily got between us and interjected.
“S- Senpai, the world calls Shinobu-oniisan as ‘evil’. He loiters around the streets with the motto ‘I’m looking for someone stronger than me’. He spends all his time on alcohol, cigarettes, fights and women. Cool, don’t you agree!”
“…Miichan, you’re not making it any better. I’m not like that, nor have I ever been called ‘evil’… Ah, no, quite often actually.”
Due to my evil look, I often was treated as a delinquent, even though I hadn’t done anything wrong. Suddenly remembering painful memories, I felt somewhat miserable, whereas the girl frowned in a bad mood.
“I see. A former Yankee, huh. The worst. The type I hate the most.”
The girls once again glared at me and opened her mouth after a short pause.
“First off, to make it clear, I hate guys. To be honest, all guys are trash.”
“…The evaluation of guys drops every time you phrase it out. Actually, your dad would cry in sadness if he heard that, seriously.”
“P- Papa is different!”
“Papa, is it?”
Miichan and I tilted her heads and asked back.
“F- Father, I mean! Father is different!”
The girl turned bright red and corrected herself right away. But after that, as she was embarrassed, she faced sideways with her cheeks still red.
There Miichan pointed at me with her hand to introduce me to the girl.
“Senpai, this handsome man is Shinobu-oniisan. My previously mentioned boyfriend.”
“Ehm, I get that he’s your boyfriend, Miyuki-chan, but…what about his evil face is handsome?”
“Well, the handsome stuff is just Miichan’s opinion, so don’t let it bother you. Also, you can casually call me ‘Onii-chan’.”
…I- It was meant as a light joke, but she surprisingly acknowledged it.
“No, sorry to ask this at this point, but please stop with the ‘Onii-chan’ after all. It was just a joke.”
“Fufu, you don’t need to force yourself, Onii-chan. I also often ask the younger girls with ‘Call me Onee-chan’, which they always turned down with a vague smile. Even Miyuki-chan turned me down. So I painfully understand your feelings, Onii-chan.”
“Okay, I don’t want to be grouped together with you. I’m really averse. Stop it right away.”
“H- How rude can you be! Then I’ll call you Shinobu-san! Satisfied?”
“Yeah, that’s okay. Actually, you’re surprisingly well-mannered.”
“Because you’re older, so I have no other choice…”
The girl showed a reluctant expression, as she actually didn’t like it.
But, for now I made a sigh or relief.
“I’m relieved that you’re honest. I was prepared that you would call me ‘Scumbag’. Though if you had done so, I would have dealt with you with an iron claw at mach speed…..You narrowly escaped death.”
I showed a smile on my joke, but for some reason the girl trembled her shoulder with a shiver in fear and backed off a step. But, suddenly she stepped forward, grabbed my collar and looked at me with a fierce glint in her eyes.
“…I came here today to judge if you’re suitable for Miyuki-chan or not. Should I decide that you’re just a frivolous guy…. you better prepare yourself.”
At the same time with her dagger-sharp voice, she glared at me with cold glance at point-blank range.
To be honest, she had an intensity that made you doubt that she was a middle schooler. However, I was more concerned about her long eyebrows and well-formed lips.
“…You, are rather cute at close-up.”
“W- Wh- Wha- What are you saying out of the blue!”
“Mh? Just an honest impression. Anyway, stop getting any more red and get away from me. Otherwise I’m going to kiss you.”
“I- Interesting. Just you try!”
Even while rocking her eyes in agitation, the girl looked straight back at me.
She might think that it was her loss if she pulled back here.
Surprisingly enough, I agreed on that. I dropped my gaze, softly took the girls hand place a gentle kiss on top of it.
Instantly, the girl raised a surprisingly adorable “Hyahn” voice and turned red up to her ears. Following, she once more glared at me, but I could see impatience in her eyes and nothing of the earlier intensity.
“J- Just what are you doing!”
“A kind of greeting.”
“Kind of cool! I want to mimic it and kiss girls— wait, I should take notes. Anyway, what’s up with you!”
“…Well, if anything, just a weirdo, I guess?”
“So cool one after another!”
Eh? Cool? I myself tried to look stupid and wanted her to retort, but the girl took it seriously. Raising her voice once more, she continued.
“Are you a gigolo? A playboy with delinquent looks! You aren’t suitable for Miyuki-chan!”
“…There’s a lot I want to say, but for now, it’s not for you or anyone else to decide if I’m suitable for Miichan or not. Miichan herself decides it.”
I should play the boyfriend for a bit. I changed my tone into a serious one.
“So, even if you or anyone else don’t agree with it, I’ll continue to be Miichan’s boyfriend, as long as she wishes that.”
“…Y- You say some reasonable things, unexpectedly.”
When the girl widened her eyes, Miichan, who had stayed quiet up till now, waiting for a good opportunity, opened her mouth with a smile.
“Shinobu-oniisan, sorry for the late introduction, but this cool person is Segawa Tamaki-san, my senior.”
“….Eh? Cool? Don’t you mean cute?”
When I replied with that, the girl— Segawa-san stared blankly for a moment, then reddened her cheeks and gave me a sullen look.
“D- Don’t say anything weird! Idiot! Besides, I’m not happy at all to be praised by a guy!”
“I wasn’t really praising you. Just stating a fact.”
“Uhh! You’re a gigolo after all! I won’t be fooled!”
Segawa-san took a deep breath to calm her feelings. Feeling her eyes with hostility once again, she called out to me in a calm manner.
“Shinobu-san, you can call me Tamaki.”
“Are you even listening to me! I love the name ‘Tamaki’ that Papa— I mean, that my father gave me! Properly call me by it!”
“Roger, Ms. Father Complex.”
“Father complex you say!? That’s actually a compliment for me! Thanks!”
“… I’m sure your dad would cry in happiness if he heard these words.”
Tamaki told me her thanks when I hit bulls-eye with the father complex. She might actually be rather easy to handle. When I thought that, Miichan said “Ehm, how about we get going now?” reserved.
There we, like initially planned, took the train to the two station away great department hall to enjoy some shopping. Looking at accessories with sparkling eyes or listening to some trial tracks, we had fun on our date, but… Tamaki seized every opportunity to attack me.
To be honest, I personally didn’t hate a girl like Tamaki. But it must have been different for her. She once again said to me with a harsh tone.
“…You already have Miyuki-chan as your girlfriend, yet you looked at that miss with lewd eyes just now!”
“Yeah, I thought she resembled you.”
“I, I’m not that pretty. Stop with the poor flattery. …By the way, just for references, what exactly resembled?”
Tamaki made eyes somehow filled with expectations, whereupon I declared with a smile.
“You know, about having two eyes. It’s a perfect match.”
“Anyone has two eyes! Then it would have been better if you had denied it all together! I’m a bit hurt! You’re not suitable for Miyuki-chan after all!”
“…That’s the only stuff you’re on about the whole time.”
Every time she opened her mouth, it said “You’re not suitable for Miyuki-chan”. I had thought she might surprisingly easy to handle, but it would be a though job to get her give up on Miyuki-chan.
When I leaked a sigh in my heart, Tamaki asked with a weary face.
“Actually, you have been messing around the whole time, but have you ever properly told Miyuki-chan ’I love you’?”
“Why are you acting bashful only at a time like this! So irritating! Break up with Miyuki-chan right now! If you don’t listen to words, I’ll show you with my fists!”
“I don’t really mind. It’s easier that way. Okay, bring it on. And realize, that in the end beauty always prevails.”
When I beckoned her with my index finger while saying so, Tamaki made a sharp front kick on the spot. That refined movement didn’t look amateurish at all. She most likely was doing some kind of martial arts.
With absent-minded thoughts like that, I slightly draw back my upper body and with a short pause, I easily dodged the kick. There Tamaki widened her eyes a bit, then draw back her kicking leg and laughed weakly.
“Looks like you aren’t that bad. Interesting. I’ll be serious on the next one.”
“I see. Well, good luck. In the end it’ll only make my victory more beautiful.”
“D- Don’t look down on me!”
Along with her words, Tamaki took a stance while I put both my hands in my pockets with a yawn. There Miichan hastily got between us.
“You two, stop fighting! Also, Senpai, you’re a black belt in karate, so Shinobu-oniisan will be in danger if you get serious!”
“Don’t worry, Miichan. I quit karate after two weeks since it was a pain, but I have some experience. Besides, I have an idea.”
I rested my hand on the shoulder of Miichan, who had lowered the ends of her eyebrows worried, and cracked a joke with a straight face.
“First I’ll attack her with my fists. But I stop at the last moment. Tamaki will be moved to tears by my kindness on the level of Buddha. She’ll feel guilty. With a change of heart, it’ll be a melty love.”
“Coming up with such a flawless plan under all this tension! As expected of you, Shinobu-oniisan! If you do that, even Senpai might fall for you!”
“Th- There’s no way I would fall for him— Is what I should tell you officially.”
No, just deny it clearly. Retorting with that in my heart, I suddenly pointed at a pet shop that I spotted, as to change the topic.
“Okay, jokes aside, how about we go there next? Look, there have a lot of cute animals. Miichan, you have nothing against animals, do you?”
“It’s okay. Actually, I love them. Let’s go watch the puppies.”
With a sparkling smile, Miichan nodded big. That sight was way cuter than of the animals. While forming a smile, I called out to Tamaki.
“Hey, Tamakiemon, are you coming along too?”
“Who are you calling ‘Tamakiemon’! Don’t give me a weird nickname! I irritates me that you brush off the quarrel just now with a joke! Besides, I’m not really a fan of dogs.”
“Oh, you hate dogs? Then sorry, but wait here for a bit, tamaKing.”
“Truth is, you forgot my name, right! It’s so cruel to ignore everything I say! Besides, I don’t hate dogs! I’m just a bit scared, since a big dog bit me as a kid! Well, I’ll wait at a distance this time…”
Midway in her sentence, Tamaki suddenly approached me and while a sweet fragrance, partly from a shampoo?, hang in the air, she softly whispered into my ear.
“It’s a good chance to observe you two. No matter how I think about it, it’s just weird that you’re Miyuki-chan’s boyfriend. Be careful to no show any flaws.”
I didn’t know if that warning was meant to be kind or just sarcasm. However, for now I had only one thing to say.
“…You, smell nice.”
“Wh- What are you sniffing me for when I’m being serious here! Are you a pervert? Or do you have a smell fetish?”
“No, I wasn’t really sniffing you. The smell just hang in the air and I thought it was a nice fragrance. That’s all. Don’t get the wrong idea, Tamaki.”
“It’s not fair that you only call my name properly at such times! A- Also… smelling nice and stuff, don’t talk about such embarrassing things! Just get going to the pet shop already!”
There, pushed on the back by the bright red Tamaki, I headed to the pet shop together with Miichan.
Upon that, there in a transparent cage for display, were various kinds of dogs and cats. A puppy that wagged it’s tail as soon as he saw us, a soundly sleeping kitten and some kind of animal that I didn’t know, which determined kept on eating.
Amidst that, Miichan looked at the tail wagging puppy and pleasantly narrowed her eyes.
“A puppy is just so cute. Cuteness is justice. It’s invincible.”
“Yeah, for a moment I involuntarily thought that I would like to keep it.”
When I replied so, Miichan smiled faintly.
“Fufu, Shinobu-oniisan, a puppy is really nice. It likes even someone like me and plays with me. And it stays close by at sad times.”
“…Miichan, are you keeping a dog at your house?”
I felt so from her way of talking, so I asked, whereupon Miichan opened her mouth while keeping her glance on the puppy.
“When I was still small, I recklessly asked my father and had him buy a dog. It was a puppy with a white fur that I immediately liked at the pet shop. I named it ‘Whitey’ and…”
While saying so, Miichan leaked a small smile and continued with a faint smile.
“I remember being really happy, since it was like I got a little brother. I was an only child, so with him by my side, I was fine even father or mother weren’t at home. Now that I think back on it, I was inseparable with Whitey.”
“…Is that so?”
“Yes. Apparently I’m a weird girl, so I couldn’t make any friend at kindergarten or elementary school. I was always alone outside. But when I came back home, Whitey played with me. Therefore I wasn’t lonely, but…”
Averting her gaze from the puppy, Miichan smiled lonely.
“Whitey didn’t live a long life. Last year, he passed away. I was happy with Whitey by my side. But, by staying with me all the time, Whitey couldn’t play with other people…”
Momentarily stopping her words, Miichan bit on her lips and said isolated.
“It might not have been such a good life.”
“…I don’t think you should decided that on your own.”
I felt a bit angry.
Before I noticed it, a unexpected low voice had left my mouth.
“Human or dog, each of them have their own kind of happiness. It’s not something to be decided by others. It’s something decided by the one in question.”
Breathing out lightly, I continued with a “Still,” in a soft tone this time.
“I can’t believe that Whitey was unhappy. How did Whitey behave when… he was with his beloved older sister? Did he look displeased?”
When I asked that, Miichan softly closed her eyes and, as she remembered about the time back then, she said with tears thinly dwelling up in her eyes.
“…When I came home, Whitey would always welcome me by greatly wagging his tail. Before he passed away, he stayed on my lap the whole time and even though it must have been painful for him, he kept wagging his tail until the very end…”
“Then the answer is obvious. If you keep saying strange stuff, Whitey will be sad.”
When she opened her eyes, a tear drop spilled down on her cheek from her eye.
Most likely Whitey’s only regret was to have left behind Miichan all alone. Gently reaching out my hand, I gently petted her head, whereupon Miichan wiped the dwelled up tears away and showed a bright smile.
“I’m, really grateful to Whitey. It might be that Whitey looks after me from somewhere. Thanks to him, I managed to become friends with Nazuna-chan.”
“Mh? Thanks to Whitey?”
When I asked back, Miichan nodded with a smile.
“The day after Whitey passed away, I couldn’t hold back my sadness and cried at school. Even though it was during class, even though she sat far away, Nazuna-chan immediately stood up once she noticed it and came over to me.”
…I was sure that there were others in class who had also noticed it. But it surely was just Nazuna, who stood up without hesitation.
“Then she asked me ‘Are you okay? Does it hurt anywhere?’. But at that time I only cried and couldn’t say anything. So Nazuna-chan told me ‘Let’s go to the infirmary’ and gently pulled me along on my hand.”
I believed that for Nazuna it was just a natural thing to do. But for Miichan it must have been something special. Her words were partly filled with happiness.
“Then Nazuna-chan closely listened to me at the infirmary. It took quite some time to tell her everything and even though I stopped midway a lot of times because I started to cry, Nazuna-chan stayed with me the whole time. In the end, she cried together with me.”
“As always, she’s so easily moved to tears.”
“…That might be. But, to me, Nazuna-chan looked really bright. I thought that I would like to be her friend. And then, we really became friends. I’m sure Whitey helped me out there.”
“I see. It certainly might be thanks to him.”
Of course, it might have been a mere coincidence that they became friends. But, some kind of power invisible to me might have been at work and that thought surely pleased Whitey as well.
Before I noticed it, I had started to smile. Miichan opened her mouth while smiling.
“I’m really happy to have become friends with Nazuna-chan. School has become fun and with her I can play games that I couldn’t with Whitey. Besides, it also made me meet you, Shinobu-oniisan.”
“…And that’s a good thing? If I remember correctly, when we first met, you looked at my face, said ‘M- Murderer! I smell a wild, dirty and dangerous smell! Please don’t kill me!’ and were half in tears.”
When I said so teasingly, Miichan flushed her cheeks and turned away her face.
“I, I’m sorry. Back then I was really nervous about visiting a friend’s house for the first time, so when I walked into you by chance in the hallway, I was just so surprised. I’m not scared now! I think you’re wonderful!”
Grabbing my hand, Miichan insisted.
“Just like Nazuna-chan, you also properly look at me even when I saw weird things, Shinobu-oniisan. At times you get angry. …And you don’t ignore me. Therefore, I’m a bit envious of Nazuna-chan.”
“…Envious? For what?”
“I told you earlier that I’m an only child. If I only had a gentle, cool and funny ‘Older Brother’ like you, Shinobu-oniisan, is what I have been wishing for since my childhood.”
Along with her words, Miichan slowly clung to me arm.
Mhm, Miichan might adore me as an “Older Brother”.
Well, that was flattering in itself. Instigated by Miichan, I also smiled and reached out my hand to pet her head once more, whereupon
I suddenly got a bad feeling from behind along with the faint sound of footsteps. I immediately embraced Miichan and jumped to the side.
Right after, two hands were pushed out to the place were I stood a moment ago.
She must have wanted to trust me away from behind. When I looked at her, Tamaki stood there with her eyes widened.
“…Wh- What was, that?”
With her hands still pushed out, Tamaki made an outrageous face and looked back at me.
“How could you dodge it? You didn’t see it. Just, who are you really?”
“Just a lone wolf.”
“So cool! So frustratingly cool! Inadvertently I was about to fall for you!”
“Well, I don’t care about that. What’s up with you? Need something?”
To be honest, I really wasn’t concerned about it at all, but
“Sh- Shinobu-oniisan, how can you stay so calm!? You have to be angry here!”
Miichan frowned and drew closer to Tamaki with a “Senpai!”.
“What would you have done if you had gotten Shinobu-oniisan injured!? Even I can get angry if it’s necessary! Please give it a rest already!”
“S- Sorry, Miyuki-chan. That was wrong for me to do. But seeing him getting in a good mood with you made me somehow angry…”
After grumbling with a small voice, Tamaki glared fiercely at me and continued.
“Also, I can’t acknowledge him as your boyfriend. I don’t care if you come to hate me, as long as it gets him away from you. I won’t dread to use force! Until Shinobu-san apologizes in tears, I won’t stop hitting him!”
“You are more determined than I thought! A- As it has come to this, ehm, uhm… I know! Shinobu-oniisan is scary when angry, you know!”
“…He’s already pretty scary as it is, even when not angry.”
When Tamaki stated her incredible rude impression, Miichan desperately fought back.
“S- Still, he gets super scary when angry! Who do you think he is! Shinobu-oniisan is the kind of guy that not only kills three people, but also cruelly turns them into waxwork afterwards!”
…Well, I hadn’t kill anyone so far, nor did I have any creepy intentions like making waxwork. Miichan might be trying to rebuke Tamaki, but no one would believe such a lie.
Even I got weary of it, but Tamaki looked at my face and simply said.
“His face certainly looks like he’s capable of that.”
“Should I turn you into waxwork as well?”
“Uwaah! Stay away! Muuuurderer!”
I had inadvertently made an angry outburst, whereupon Tamaki got away from me with teary eyes and then trembled her legs like a newborn deer.
“…Y- Your life is in danger when you stay besides such a dangerous guy, Miyuki-chan. I have to do something…!”
Could it be, this made her lose her faith in me even more?
Tamaki was looking at me like I was a criminal.
I crossed my arms and pondered what to do, whereupon Miichan clapped her hands, as she thought of something, and pulled out her cell phone from her pocket. Following, she operated it for a while, then called out to Tamaki.
“Uhm, Senpai, you hate guys, correct?”
“Yeah, that’s right. They’re the trash of society.”
“Ehm, then what do you think of this person?”
Along with her words, Miichan held up her cell phone.
What was it? Together with Tamaki, I looked at the screen of the cell phone, which showed an attached photo of a girl.
That girl had a sharp look, but that aside she could be considered a beauty.
She wore a waitress uniform and was a bit sulky, but she would surely look even more charming with a smile. Actually, this girl somehow resembled my mother?
When I got that impression, Tamaki opened her mouth spellbound.
“So pretty. Is she your friend, Miyuki-chan? If possible, I want you to introduce her to me. What that be okay?”
“Of course I’ll gladly introduce her. You want to get closer to this person, right?”
“Yeah, I want to get closer. Get intimate, go on a lot of dates and one day, at night— wait, no, no! I’m faithful to Miyuki-chan! I won’t cheat! But, fantasizing should be allowed, right? Ehehe…”
As she fantasized about something, Tamaki faintly smiled and flushed her cheeks. Still looking cute even in such a slovenly state was the cunning part about a pretty girl.
For now, I retorted wearily.
“Hey Tamaki, you’re drooling.”
“I, I’m not! Sure, I might be about to drool and a bit might have come out already, but don’t say it! I hate guys because they lack of tact! Idiot!”
When she once again glared at me fiercely, Miichan softly gave her a fair warning.
“Senpai, you can’t call the person you want to get closer to an ’idiot’.”
“…Mh? What are you talking about, Miyuki-chan? I didn’t say a single word about wanting to get closer to this kind of guy.”
Tamaki frowned doubtful, whereupon Miichan held up her cell phone again and declared with a bright smile.
“The person in this photo is Shinobu-oniisan in cross-dress.”
Instantly, even I snorted.
Wh- What the. I didn’t notice at all. Either way, how came that Miichan had that photo? Did my mother leak it?
When I felt my cheeks getting hot, Tamaki compared me numerous times with the picture on the cell phone while blinking. On the other hand, Miichan continued with a smile.
“You might hate guys, Senpai, but I take you could fall in love with Shinobu-oniisan in cross-dress?”
“…Yeah, that’s possible.”
Surprisingly enough, Tamaki gave a big nod. Flushing her cheeks, she faced me again.
“Shinobu-san! I beg you! Go on a date with me in woman clothes!”
“Are you stupid! Of course the answer is no!”
“Wh- Why! I will properly wear woman clothes too!”
“You’re cute too begin with! If you want a date, try hitting on that beauty over there!”
Shouting that, I pointed to a female that I had suddenly spotted, but… ehm, on a closer look, it was Hijiri.
With the glamorous long, black hair, the dignified features and the curvy body left no room for doubt. She was Gogyou Hijiri, my classmate and actually my fiancée. …Reminded me, Hijiri loved dogs. She might have decided to drop by the pet shop during her shopping.
Well, either way, meeting Hijiri was more than bad. I immediately wanted to withdraw from here, but unfortunately Hijiri noticed me.
Saying isolated, Hijiri relaxed her dignified expression. And showing an incredible cute smile, she approached me.
“What a coincidence, Shinobu-kun. I didn’t expect meeting you here.”
“…Yeah, indeed. I never had so less luck as today.”
Wondering tilting her head, Hijiri faced the others.
“Ehm, Shinobu-kun, who are they?”
“Yeah, well, you see, they are…”
I truthfully wanted to introduce Miichan as Nazuna’s friends and explain Tamaki as her senior.
However, right now I was Miichan’s boyfriend.
Somehow Tamaki also glared at me with eyes that wanted to say “Who’s this pretty miss? Don’t tell me, an affair? You’re having an affair! Unforgivable! I’ll beat you up!”….So I had no choice, but to lie.
Determined I averted my eyes from Hijiri.
“Hijiri, this girl is Sakurai Miyuki-chan. Nickname, Miichan. And she, well, happens to be my, girlfriend…”
As she couldn’t comprehend the meaning of the words, Hijiri widened her eyes puzzled and stopped moving like she had been petrified. But, after a while tears dwelled up in her eyes and she asked.
“It’s one, of your usual jokes, right? You never told me about having a girlfriend and it’s not even Luna-san….It has to be a lie.”
“It, It’s not a lie. We started dating just recently. Isn’t that right, Miichan?”
“Eh? Ah, yes, that’s right.”
She must have somehow comprehended the situation. Miichan made a firm nod, albeit a bit awkwardly. But, Hijiri wrinkled up her well-formed eyebrows with still teary eyes.
“….Seems a bit suspicious. And I don’t want to believe it. It’s a lie after all, isn’t it? Shinobu-kun, please tell me the truth.”
No, I would very much like to tell the truth, but as long as Tamaki was here, I couldn’t do that. How could I get out of this?
When I pondered like that in my head, Tamaki nodded in agreement with Hijiri and interjected with a sharp look.
“I agree with the miss. You two are a bit suspicious. If you two are really going out, then show us a kiss.”
“…Stop messing around. Why do we have to kiss?”
I replied so innerly shaken, whereupon Tamaki combed her hair upwards and responded stylish.
“Because feelings become noticeable during a kiss.”
“…What the? Stop saying nonsense. Besides, it’s too embarrassing to kiss in public, so I can’t do that. You wouldn’t be able to kiss either if urged to, right?”
I asked persuading, but Hijiri blushed and Tamaki kept her straight face while they answered.
“I, I would just try hard!”
“No problem for me, even sober!”
“…So much for your opinions. But a kiss is out of the question. Let me off with just this.”
I felt a bit bad, but along with my words, I embraced Miichan.
Upon that, Miichan blinked her eyes in surprise, then
“Ehehe, so warm. Feels good.”
showed no real sign of resistance, happily put her hands around my back and tightly returned the hug.
Her two soft breasts pressed on my warm body and there was a sweet fragrance.
To be honest, it was rather embarrassing, but for a while I kept embracing Miichan and petted her head…When the shame became unbearable, I slowly got away from her.
“S- See, this should convince you…wait, huh? H- Hijiri-san?”
The moment I faced Hijiri, I was at a loss for words unmeant.
Of all things, Hijiri was crying big tears out of her eyes. While I desperately searched for words to say, she made a hic and leaked a small voice.
“This is… too much. What… should I do from now on? I can’t stand this… Shinobu-kun, you… you’re…”
“Ehm, I’m, what?”
Raising a voice that pierce my chest, she turned her back to me.
With a crying voice that made even the listener sad, Hijiri went away just like that.
…My chest was about to be crushed by guilt.
In the corner of my vision, Tamaki threw a fit with “Y- You looked well together, but I won’t acknowledge it!”, but to be honest, I couldn’t care less. Why did my chest hurt so much?
I pressed one hand on my throbbing chest, whereupon Miichan spoke to me with a small voice worried.
“Uhm, Shinobu-oniisan, are you okay? That miss was crying. Don’t mind me and go after her.”
“…W- Well, it’s not a problem as long as I explain it later. You don’t need to worry, Miichan. But… Can I go to the bookstore for a bit and read a book about self-enlightenment?”
Replying so with my shoulders dropped, I made a big sigh in my heart….
* * *
After that we ate a somewhat late lunch at the department hall and after the meal I left my seat to go to the toilet. Hoping that Hijiri was near and that I could clear up the misunderstanding, I walked around a bit as a detour, when
A familiar loud laughter reached my ears.
Ehm, whose was it again? When I tilted my head and faced the laughter, there was a girl in a truly rich lady dress.
If I remembered correctly, she was the somewhat stupid girl that quarrelled with Nazuna at the seaside school. Her name was Chihaya-san. Just like previously, she had two follower girls with her.
That Chihaya-san seemed to face someone, but I couldn’t see the face of that someone from my position. Just who was she talking to? For some reason I was a bit curious, so I headed towards them, whereupon
“…Mh? Nazuna and Elni?”
Two familiar faces came into my vision. Inadvertently I stopped my feet.
Reminded me, they had said that they also were going on a date in opposition to Miichan and me, but they came to the same place? What a coincidence.
I certainly was a bit surprised. Chihaya-san threw out her chest and once again raised a loud laughter.
“Oh~hohoho~! Oh~hoho~! Oh~hohoho~! *cough!* *cough!*”
Midway she started to cough violently. Upon that, one of the follower girls made a weary face while the other started to stroke Chihaya-san’s back worried.
“…Just what are you trying to pull?”
“A- Are you okay, Chiyaha-sama?”
Having her back stroked, Chihaya-san recovered, as she held up her palm to her follower girls, thus stopping them.
“I am fine already. I just choked a bit and thought I would die from the pain, but apparently I am still alive.”
“…Is that so. Too bad. It would’ve been better if you died.”
“S- Somehow, I get the feeling something incredible rude was said so nonchalant, but they always so the beautiful die young! Oh~hohoho~!”
Not paying any mind to the outrageous stuff her follower girl had said, Chihaya-san released her special loud laughter, as she was in a good mood, and faced Nazuna.
“Nanjou-san, what a fancy to meet you here!”
“Yeah! Really! Oh~hohoho!”
“Oh my, mimicking me, I see. Just fine! Oh~hohoho~!”
Whatever might be fun about it, Nazuna and Chihaya-san raised loud laughter, whereupon even the nearby Elni joined in their “Oh~hohoho~!”… All the gazes from people near by were concentrated on them.
Amidst that, the follower girls shrugged her shoulders together and both of them pulled on Chihaya-san’s sleeves at the same time.
“Chihaya-sama, stop acting stupid and let’s go already.”
“We don’t have much time. We’ll be late for the lesson…”
“Oh my, it is already this late? But please give a bit longer. I have something to tell to Nanjou-san by all means.”
While saying so, Chihaya-san pointed sharply at Nazuna and declared with an overbearing tone.
“Nanjou-san, previously I warned you with ‘Do not get cheeky’, did I not? Despite that! You seem to get along well with Gogyou-senpai from the Kendo club lately! What is the meaning of that? The fan club will not stay silent about it!”
“Yeah, yeah! Just like Chihaya-sama says!”
One of the follower girls nodded in agreement with Chihaya-san, but
“Well, it’s her usual jealousy, so don’t worry too much about it. That idiot behaves so even at Gogyou-senpai’s fan club, so she won’t hurt you, Nanjou-san…”
The other follower girl stood besides Nazuna and looked at Chihaya-san like she was an idiot. In regards to that, Nazuna paid no mind to getting scolded and faced Chihaya-san with a smile.
“Actually, Arisugawa-san, Gogyou-senpai’s big sister and my big brother are friends.”
…Ahh, speaking of, Hijiri previously had mentioned that she had a little brother and it appeared that he was in the same middle school as Nazuna. Actually, Chihaya-san’s last name was Arisugawa, huh.
While such thoughts crossed my mind, I returned my gaze to Nazuna.
“So, Gogyou-senpai talked to me. He’s actually a surprisingly funny person, so we got along well right away. If you want, I can introduce you to him?”
“I, I will not take any mercy from my enemy! Even if you introduced me, I would be too nervous to talk! Either way, your composure irritates me!”
Out of anger, Chihaya-san trembled her lips and continued with a “Also!” by raising her voice.
“You were confessed to by Yamada-sama from the class next door on the school day of summer vacation! And you dared to turn him down so readily! Why are you giving every single one of the wonderful guys that declare their feelings for you the brush-off! I do not understand you!”
“Mh? But, I love my brother more.”
When Nazuna replied so with a smile,
Chihaya-san made a foolish laughter and shrugged her shoulders in disappointment.
“Nanjou-san, no matter how much you love your brother, I am sure that your brother thinks of you as an annoying little sister.”
Instantly, Nazuna’s eyes rocked with worry, but Chihaya.san didn’t seem to notice that and shouted with tears in her eyes for some reason.
“I also have a big brother, but he always tells me ‘You’re annoying’! Even though I love him so much! I am sure my dear brother hates me!”
“Yeah, yeah! Just like Chihaya-sama says!”
“Hauh! Hearing someone else confirming it hurts my chest so incredible!”
Chihaya-san made a shocked expression. The follower girl pressed her hands on her shut mouth. The other follower girl burst out in laughter.
Glaring at both of them, Chihaya-san then faced Nazuna again with the tears still in her eyes.
“Anyway! Even your brother will consider it a bother when you stick to his heels like a dog! Real little sisters are just an annoyance after all!”
“Th- That’s not true! My brother loves me! Madly in love!”
“Oh~hohoho~! That is what it means to be conceited! Stepsisters aside, us blood-related little sisters can only give up! Too bad for you and me!”
With nothing to say back, Nazuna glared at Chihaya-san while moved to tears.
“Stupid Arisugawa-san! I hate you! I’m not talking to you again!”
“N- Not talking to me again!? S- S- So- So what! I am not sad at all!”
“…Ehm, Chihaya-sama? You’re making a face close to tears right now? How about you stop pretending and just apologize?”
“No! I mean, I am not at fault here! I just stated the truth! Not talking again suits me just fine! Well then, Nanjou-san, have a nice day! Oh~hohoho….”
Facing sideways and raising a loud laughter that sounded like a crying voice, Chihaya-san walked away with her back to Nazuna. On the other hand, the follower girls said “Sorry” together and hastily went after Chihaya-san.
Then the girls came close to where I stood.
“…Aww, I did it again.”
Chihaya-san dropped her shoulders greatly in a depressed state.
“Why can I only make vicious remarks? I guess, I am an idiot…”
“Yeah, yeah! Just as Chihya-sama says!”
“S- So mean, Akina! That is too much!”
While doing a comedy duo like that, Chihaya-san and the two girls left the place.
After watching them off, I returned my gaze, whereupon Nazuna was walking away just like Chihaya-san and Elni hastily followed her. The crowed of people closed behind their backs and they disappeared from my vision.
…Catching up to them would be impossible. Leaving Nazuna to Elni and while it was hard for me to leave, I returned to Miichan and Tamaki.
Upon that, Miichan showed a soft smile as soon as she noticed me, but Tamaki asked sullen.
“You sure took your time. Just where did you go?”
“Yeah, actually there was a girl being attacked by aliens, so I helped her, but then the aliens abducted me instead. And after a fierce fight, I finally made it back to you two.”
“You’re amazing, Shinobu-oniisan!”
“…Well, if that’s what happened, then it can’t be helped.”
Uh, the eyes of innocent girls tightened my chest. Unable to endure the guilt, I lowered my head with “I told a lie. I’m sorry” right away…
After that, we left the department hall and started some window shopping at the nearby shopping district. Not long after, we entered a store for western clothes that Miichan and Tamaki spotted and the two of them looked at the clothes together on cordial terms.
…Tamaki was also a girl after all. It was a heart-warming scene how she happily choose clothes together with Miichan.
I didn’t want to bother them. So I told them “I’ll look around a bit” and moved to vicinity near the exit of the store. For a while I randomly trotted around there, whereupon
Tamaki, holding a paper bag, called out to me.
She made a kind of serious expression and jerked her chin towards the automatic door of the store.
“Come along for a bit. Miyuki-chan is still shopping, so let’s talk outside.”
I had no real reason to turn her down. I gave a nod back and left the store with Tamaki.
While the chirping of the cicadas attacked my ears, Tamaki began to talk with still a serious expression.
“We’re finally all alone, Shinobu-san.”
“…Sorry, but I can’t respond to your feelings. I already have Miichan.”
“Wh- Why are you acting like I’m going to confess to you! How can you get that misunderstanding! Just what’s going on in your head!”
“Well, I thought that you might attack me like a beast in the moment we’re all alone, so I just made the first move.”
“Wh- What are you taking me for!?”
“…A cute girl?”
“L- Like I said, stop with that embarrassing stuff!”
After turning her face bright red, Tamaki averted her eyes from me and asked with a corrected tone.
“…Hey, just what do you love about Miyuki-chan?”
“Mh? Why are you asking that? Can’t you tell by looking?”
“Certainly, your eyes are gentle when you look at Miyuki-chan. But, I’m worried. Miyuki-chan is, well, I don’t really want to say this, but she’s kind of a weird girl.”
Suddenly casting her eyes down, Tamaki dropped her voice.
“From what I heard from my junior friends, Miyuki-chan is a bit aloof in class. She has a cute friend named Nazuna-chan, who I confessed to once and was turned down… but that doesn’t matter now.”
Yeah, I was a bit surprised about finding out that Tamaki even had confessed to my little sister, but Tamaki continued her story with a wry smile.
“So, that Nazuna-chan is quite popular in class and seeing her getting along with Miyuki-chan, the other guys in class, how should I say, get kind of jealous. I don’t know if that’s the reason, but I heard that the others don’t think all too well about Miyuki-chan.”
It was the first time I heard of that, but I, as an outsider, wasn’t going to be just persuaded into pitying her. I wasn’t going to think something that rude, but I was certainly angry.
It might be that Tamaki felt the same. She tightly clenched her fists and said with a strong tone.
“Of course, I also like Miyuki-chan’s slightly weird side. But, how about you? If you say that you’re only dating her for her appearance….I’ll never forgive you.”
Sincere eyes. Words overflowing with kindness. Straight-forward feelings. Yeah, she really loved Miichan.
Without doubt she couldn’t suppress her worry for Miichan. That was way she went through the trouble of meeting with me.
…Such a good girl. I changed my tone into a serious one and properly told her my feelings.
“I’ll tell you, I’m not bothered by Miichan’s weird side. There are a lot of weirdoes around me. And even if there were nine things I hated about her, as long as there is one thing I like about her, I’ll go out with her.”
Averting her eyes from me, she made a resigned sigh.
“Glad to hear that. But, it’s still frustrating.”
Tamaki dropped her shoulders, then suddenly returned her gaze to me.
“By the way, Shinobu-san, do you love Miyuki-chan?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Y- You’re not sure!?”
…Aw, shit. I carelessly said my real feelings while still in serious mode. I hastily smoothed over my blunder.
“H- How should I say, you know, love isn’t about reason. It’s not something you can express with words. What’s important is, this.”
“…I see, the heart, huh.”
When I pointed to my chest with my thumb, Tamaki pressed one hand on her voluminous chest.
Upon that, her huge breast softly changed change on the pressure of the palm, which was kind of lewd.
“You, sure have big breasts.”
“D- Don’t say it so bluntly, when I’m already bothered by it!”
When I asked out of slight curiosity, Tamaki faced sideways and answered.
“I was teased by the boys in elementary school because of these breasts. I already hated boys since kindergarten because of their teasing, but I came to hate them ever more then because of that. That’s why I started karate and got stronger, so that I wouldn’t lose to the teasing.”
“…That’s a splendid endeavour, but I don’t think your breasts are the reason. The boys just might have wanted your attention, since you’re cute. Brats often tease a girl they like.”
“Th- That’s not true! No! Guys are my enemies! A guy also took Miyuki-chan away from me, besides, I’m not cute at all!”
Becoming vivacious, Tamaki denied obstinate.
Well, saying anything more would be pointless. I opened my mouth to change the topic.
“Tamaki, now a question from me. I understand well why you hate guys. But, do you really love girls?”
“…I guess, you also find it strange to fall in love with the same gender?”
“Well, I don’t think it’s really normal.”
When I answered honestly, Tamaki hang down her head depressed.
There I rested my hand on Tamaki’s head and continued.
“But you know, I’m not going to deny it. Whatever other says, I believe it’s amazing to be able to honestly say what you like.”
I also adored that way of living. When I conveyed my sentimental feelings, Tamaki widened her eyes, then smiled faintly.
“…You sure don’t tell any lies, Shinobu-san.”
“Well, what’s the use of telling a lie here.”
“Fufu, but everyone else denies it, you know? While they always claim ‘It’s not weird’, I actually know that they’re just being considerate to me and are actually lying. In their hearts, they surely think ‘It’s weird’.”
“Still, regardless of what others think, you are you. There’s no need to force yourself to play-act. It’s better to stay true to your feelings. As long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.”
“…You’re so cool…”
After mumbling with a small voice, Tamaki showed an unbound smile.
“I’ll give up on Miyuki-chan. Doesn’t seem that I can win against you…”
With her voice faintly trembling, Tamaki let out a bright voice as to cover it up.
“Shinobu-san, wait here a for a moment. I’m thirsty, so I’ll go buy some juice.”
As soon as she said that, Tamaki ran off, getting away from me.
While Tamaki had made a smile, her eyes were faintly filled with tears.
With that the case should have been closed, but was it really okay like this? There were times, where it was okay to lie, and times, were it was not. While feeling a pain in my chest, I crossed my arms and waited for Tamaki to return…
After a while, Miichan came out of the store once she finished her shopping.
“I’m sorry, Shinobu-oniisan. Seems I made you wait. So ehm, where’s Senpai?”
“Yeah, she went to buy juice, but now that you mention it, she sure is taking her time.”
“Is that so? Well then, I’ll try calling her.”
While saying so, Miichan took out her cell phone and called Tamaki. But, the call didn’t connect and Miichan frowned worried.
“I wonder if something happened?”
“…For now, let’s go take a look.”
A bit worried, Miichan and I separately searched for Tamaki.
But without being able to find her and the worry gradually increasing, I suddenly heard an angry shout from the nearby road.
When I moved on with hunch, there were Tamaki, standing covering in front of an unknown female, and three ill-bred guys.
Tamaki frowned displeased and glared at the guys.
“How often do I have to say it! Give it a rest already! The miss here doesn’t want to hang out with trash like you! Go home and suck on your mommy’s breasts!”
“Idiot! Mommy’s breasts belong to papa! A brat like you doesn’t even know that? Isn’t it rather you, who want’s mommy’s breasts? By the way, I want them a bit!”
The guys messed around and raised a laughter, as they didn’t take Tamaki seriously.
Upon that, Tamaki trembled her shoulders and tightly clenched her fists.
“Stop messing around! If words won’t get through to you, I’ll make you understand with your bodies!”
Along with her words, Tamaki launched a sharp roundhouse kick and the guy, who get hit by hit, moaned faintly, then bended his body and got on his knees.
Instantly, the guys’s attitude changed drastically. Their smiles disappeared, their looks sharpened and they looked like they seriously would attack Tamaki.
…Good grief. Judging by the situation, Tamaki mostly likely wanted to help the female that was persistently being hit on, but her way of doing so was just too bad. What was the use in agitating them?
I had quite mixed feelings as it resembled my past self. I shrugged my shoulders and approached them. There Tamaki noticed me and faced me with a happy smile.
“Great timing, Shinobu-san! I’ll beat up this trash! Help me!”
“…As if I would do that.”
Replying wearily, I faced the guys.
In that moment, the guys took a look at my face, trembled their shoulders and backed off one step.
Whoops, not good. I had a scary face to begin with. So I thought about making a smile as not to agitate them. Therefore, I had raised the corners of my mouth and showed a smile while calling out to the guys.
“Sorry that my companion troubled you. There are too many people here. Shall we head somewhere more quiet to talk? Oh no, I’m not going to do anything bad to you. Just tag along for a bit, okay?”
I had tried my best to bring out my good faith, but
“Hiiii! We’ll be abducted by a Yakuza and thrown into the seeeea!”
The guys turned pale and for some reason even the female, who was hit on, raised a scream. All together, they ran away at full speed with trembling legs.
But that wasn’t all. For some reason even the people around us all averted her eyes from me and left at a smart pace….The only ones left here were Tamaki and I.
I felt rather hurt, whereupon Tamaki approached with sparkles in her eyes.
“Amazing, Shinobu-san! That was rather cool!”
Tamaki seemed to praise me, but for now I placed a light chop on her head.
“Wh- What are you doing! That hurt!”
“…I’m sure the guy you kicked just now thought the same. Anyone will feel hurt and get angry upon being hit. Depending on the situation, they can even get scared. I believe it was a praiseworthy thing that you tried to do, but it wasn’t executed well. Don’t resort to violence so easily.”
Spreading my hand that I hit her with, I petted Tamaki’s head and continued.
“Besides, it’s dangerous. What would you have done if you got hurt? Don’t go provoking others. Leave violence only as the very last resort. If you get hurt by helping someone, there will be people who get sad.”
“Ah, no, I also said a bit too much. My bad.”
Seeing her honestly lower her head made me realized that I had gotten a bit too passionate.
…What was I lecturing her for. I did the same stuff in the past, so I couldn’t be so pompously.
When I got a bit awkward and scratched my cheek, Tamaki said isolated.
“…Somehow, you’re like my papa.”
“Mh? What was that?”
Giving a small smile, Tamaki raised her head and stared at me.
For some reason, her eyes were wet and her cheeks flushed. Getting a really bad feeling, I decided to leave and regroup with Miichan as soon as possible.
After regrouping with Miichan, we now enjoyed some shopping in the city, when Tamaki suddenly stopped and leaked a small voice.
“…I think, it’s about time I leave.”
“Eh? What’s the matter, Senpai?”
“Do you feel sick?”
When Miichan and I asked back, Tamaki slowly shook her head.
“I already achieved my goal. Staying any longer would be a bother to you and if it’s Shinobu-san, I can safely entrust Miyuki-chan to him.”
Tamaki made a slightly lonely smile, leaked a “I feel stupid for getting worried on my own…” and lowered her head to Miyuki-chan.
“Sorry, Miyuki-chan. I caused you a lot of troubles. I’ll properly give up on you. But, if you don’t mind, would you stay friends with me?”
“Yes, that goes without saying, but, uhm…”
She must have felt guilty from the lie. Miichan was hesitant to speak and searched for the right words to tell Tamaki. There I, like giving her a push on the back, called out softly to Miichan.
“Hey, Miichan, are you fine with this? Do you want to keep lying to the friend that seriously worried about you?”
On my words, Tamaki tilted her head, whereas Miichan tightly bit on her lips.
“I’m sorry! I told you a lie, Senpai!”
This time Miichan lowered her head.
“Actually, I don’t have a boyfriend! I pushed Shinobu-oniisan into playing my boyfriend! I, like you, Senpai, but I cannot become your lover! This might sound selfish, but please stay friend with someone like me!”
“…Oh, it was all a lie?”
Tamaki showed Miichan, whose eyes were rocking with worry, a gentle smile.
“I’m a bit surprised, but in the end, it was my fault for coming onto you so strongly. Sorry, Miyuki-chan. I should be asking for us to stay friends.”
Not only did she forgive Miichan’s lie with a smile, but Tamaki also lowered her head once more.
…She really was a good girl. I felt like petting her head. I felt my mouth forming a smile. Then Tamaki for some reason reddened her cheeks and softly faced me.
“Ehm, if you’re not Miyuki-chan’s boyfriend, then that means you’re currently single? You don’t have a girlfriend?”
“Yeah, I’m a sad loner.”
When I replied with a nod, Tamaki came closer with sparkling eyes.
“Then, Shinobu-san, please become friends with me!”
Grabbing my hand with her two hands and with bright red cheeks, Tamaki continued with a loud voice.
“—In a sexual way!”
“A- Are you stupid! A middle schooler shouldn’t say that! Besides, didn’t you hate guys!?”
“I certainly hate guys. I’m set on having a girl as a lover. But, I also fell in love with you, Shinobu-san! So please have a merely physical relationship with me!”
“Such an adulterated relationship! Your dad would cry of this, seriously! Are you okay with that, Ms. Father Complex?”
“…It saddens me that papa will cry.”
Even while replying so, Tamaki placed her hand on her chin and continued “But” with a serious expression.
“It’s about I graduate from my papa. Next year I’m going to high school and I should stop taking baths together with papa! Shinobu-san, please take baths with me from now on, in place of my papa! If you could possibly cross-dress for me as well, I would be delighted!”
“I won’t take baths with you, nor cross-dress! I’ll only date a fine woman! Try again once you have become a better woman!”
“Okay! I’ll work hard! I’ll never give up! I’m fine with just a physical relationship, so just say the word anytime!”
…O, Oh god. Who could have predicted this outcome? Inadvertently I buried my head in my hands, whereupon
“O- Oh my god! Who could have predicted such an outcome! I gave birth to a strong rival through my lie!”
Leaking partly the same impression as me, Miichan also buried her head in her hands.
Amidst that, Tamaki closely clung to my arm, but all I could do was to sigh. Really, how did it come to this? If I could turn back time, I would like to do so for a few hours.
“Okay! I’ll make Shinobu-san mine and aim for a harem end in the future!”
“…For me that’s without doubt a bad end.”
Replying so to Tamaki, I hung my head on the spot.
The chirping of the cicadas seems rather distant…
* * *
The next day. Tired from all the stuff that happened yesterday, it was already past noon when I woke up.
I had a vague memory that Luna tried to wake me up earlier with “Lunch is done”, but… in the end, I didn’t get up, did I. Geez.
I should go apologize to Luna immediately. And I should have her give me some food. I was quite hungry. Therefore, I left my room and showed up in the living room, whereupon there was Miichan, who had come over to play again.
Besides Miichan, there were Nazuna and my mother in the living room.
“There, it’s a braid.”
My mother was playing around with Miichan’s pretty and long hair. However, as soon as she noticed me, she called out to me with a grin.
“Morning, Shinobu. I heard from Miichan about Tamaki-chan. You sure a popular.”
“Yo, it’s troubling how money and women come to me so naturally. For starters, I’ll buy an air guitar, so hand over some money.”
Not yielding to her and giving a random reply, I held out my hand to my mother in a joke.
“Yeah, here. Shinomun gets thousand yen. Yay.”
Surprisingly enough, my mother gave me an allowance.
…Somehow, she was in a rather good mood today. I wondered why?
I tilted my head, whereupon Miichan made a slightly worried face and asked.
“Uhm, Shinobu-oniisan, you really don’t have any intentions to date Senpai, right?”
“None. She’s a middle schooler and while she’s certainly cute, she’s difficult, to be honest.”
To begin with, a mere physical relationship with a middle schooler was way too dangerous.
Actually, I didn’t want a mere physical relationship to begin with. I replied while shaking my hand lightly, but Miichan said still worried.
“But, Senpai seems to be set on you. Yesterday I phoned with her at night and she asked a lot of things about you. She’s very attractive and has big breasts, so I’m worried.”
“Don‘t worry, Miichan. There’s hardly any girl who can win against Luna-chan in breast size.”
“You’re right. No one can win against Luna-san… wait, I get the feeling that it’s worrying in some other way!”
When Miichan once more showed a worried expression, my mother smiled lightly and opened her mouth with somewhat distant eyes.
“Somehow, when I look at you, I’m reminded about my younger self. I also had a time, where I had the same worries at you, Miichan.”
“Haha, can’t be.”
“What are you laughing for, Shinobu. Even I was a cute maiden like Miichan in the past, you know?”
“Though there’s not a single trace left of it now.”
“…I’ll smack you?”
“Not in the face. I still have a photo shooting— hey, ouch! What are you doing! I told you not in the face!”
As such I was messing around with my mother, whereupon Nazuna, who had stayed quiet up till now, softly pulled on Miichan’s sleeve.
“Hey, Miichan, I have something to discuss. Is that okay?”
“Discuss? Of course it’s okay. If it’s for you, it’s okay 24/7 all year!”
“Thanks. Then let’s go to my room.”
“Eh? We can’t stay here?”
“Yeah. I mean, Brother is here.”
Aw, Brother felt a sting in the chest on these words.
Why was it bad for me to be present? Was it something she couldn’t tell me?
I was quite hurt, but Nazuna was a girl at a good age. She obviously had a few things that she couldn’t tell me.
Nazuna made a serious expression on a rare occasion, so I didn’t interject and silently watched Nazuna and Miichan leaving the living room.
There my mother talked to me teasingly.
“Still, Shinobu, the incident with Tamaki-chan shows again that you still have a tendency to attract weird girls.”
“Huh? Attract weird girls? That’s not—”
true, is what I wanted to deny clearly. However, I recalled some things and inadvertently closed my mouth, whereupon my mother giggled.
“Speaking of, Luna-chan and Elni are a bit weird too… At this rate, you might become a playboy like your dad.”
“….Don’t jinx it.”
Replying with a shrug of my shoulders, I left the living room.
She would just keep teasing me if I stayed. Besides, I was hungry. I walked down the hallway looking for Luna and suddenly thought.
…About what Nazuna wanted to discuss.
It was an early afternoon during summer vacation, when I was a bit curious about that…
Chapter 02: Tsundere and, Summer Cold?
…Lately, I wondered at times if I was having a bad dream. Actually, I felt fed up with it if it wasn’t dream.
At night after dinner, I lazed around in my own room, waiting for the bathwater to heat up. There I happened to nod off, but
“P- Please wake up, you rubbish! Why is the person who said ‘I want to take a bath first’ carefree sleeping now! Please take a bath already, you piece of rubbish!”
Suddenly I was showered with harsh words and felt a pressure on my cheek.
When I opened my eyes, to my disbelief, Luna was grinding the back of her foot against my cheek.
With her posture, I could see her white panties and bright thighs, but I had no time at all to enjoy that. Luna frowned distressed and continued.
“Are you finally awake? Shinobu-san, you really are rubbish beyond help. Just to tell you, I am not thinking anything on the likes of how happy I am to get to see your cute sleeping face! Please do not get the wrong idea!”
“Ah, yes, somehow, I deeply, apology. Sorry. I’m sorry that I was born.”
The shock of being told that by Luna was just too great. Inadvertently I became submissive and apologized, then I keenly left my room.
There, for some reason, Luna came after me hastily. She passed by me with swift steps and walked ahead of me for a while, then she suddenly stopped and turned around. She fiercely glared at me.
“Uh- Uhm, what is it? Did I do something rude?”
“…You do not know? Your right hand is free, right?”
Facing sideways, Luna held out her hand pouting.
Ehm, did she want to hold hands? I wasn’t too sure, but for now I grabbed Luna’s hand, whereupon she smiled happily.
Her mood might have been fixed.
I made a sigh of relief and getting a bit excited on the sensation of Luna’s small hand, I arrived in front of the anteroom, whereupon I made a usual joke.
“Luna, since you’re already here, want to take a bath together today?”
“Th- That is disgusting, so please stop it.”
…I was done for. Inadvertently I fell on my knees on the spot.
“Ahh! Sorry, Shinobu-sa—”
Luna was about to lower her head with a sorry expression, but she hastily pressed her hand on her own mouth.
“A- Actually I would like to take a bath together with you, but I only turned it down because it is embarrassing! Please do not get the wrong idea…wait, huh? Somehow that sounds wrong, ehm…”
Placing her index finger on her cheek and pondering for a bit, Luna then pointed her index finger sharply towards me.
“A- Anyway! I do not like you or anything, Shinobu-san! Also, I was not thinking anything of the likes of how happy I was to hold your hand! Please do not get the wrong idea about that either!”
For some reason Luna declared so with sad teary eyes, made a hunch and while saying “…Was that okay? It is too hard…”, she walked away.
On the other hand, I, left behind, couldn’t even stand up for a while, but then I slowly entered the bath and buried my face in my arms while I soaked in the bathwater.
…Lately, Luna was behaving strange. She was strangely grumpy.
Until just recently, she had happily told me “Shinobu-san, please wake up. I will kiss you if you do not get up?”.
Yet, yesterday it was “Please get up already, you blockhead! I- It is not like I come to wake you up every morning because I want to see your sleeping face or anything! Please do not get the wrong idea!”. Such a cold treatment.
Moreover, it wasn’t just Luna behaving strange.
After my bath, I spotted Nazuna at the hallway and I tried to call out to her.
“Nazukitty, come here. The water here is good.”
When I beckoned her with my hand, Nazuna came closer like a cat.
Oh, right now it was the usual Nazuna.
Inadvertently I smiled and petted Nazuna’s head.
“Hey, Nazucat, want to go play together tomorrow?”
“Yes! Absolutely! I‘m looking forward…”
On my words, Nazuna made a sparkling smile, but midway in her sentence she faced sideways and forced herself to frown while saying.
“…On second thought, tomorrow I’m going shell gathering, so I can’t play with you.”
“Eh? Why do you lie? You said just now that you want to.”
“I, I changed my mind! I won’t play with you! Just to tell you, I’m not the slightest bit happy about your invitation! Don’t get the wrong idea!”
Turning her back to me angrily, Nazuna mumbled “….This is really hard” with a small voice and went away with her shoulders dropped dejected.
…Why did Luna and Nazuna act so cold?
I made a deep sigh and moved to the living room. Leaning my body into the sofa, I crossed my arms and pondered. If I remembered correctly, ever since the night when Miichan came over to play, Luna and Nazuna had been strange. Was it somehow related to Miichan? Or I simply might have done something that angered them.
When I wrecked my brains like that,
“Head empty~ Depressed and parched~ What about my chest! I’m Goddemon~♪“
Done with her shower after me, Elni showed up in the living room while singing a weird song in a happy mood.
Elni’s cheeks were lightly flushed, which made her look kind of erotic. Her hair wasn’t tied up in the usual twin tails, but had let it down straight with the hair ends a bit wet.
But, she wasn’t really bothered about it and sat down on the sofa with a fermented milk drink in one hand. She started a video game with a smile.
After borrowing the game console from Miichan, Elni had been engrossed in the game since morning. Was the game that much fun? While I faced the television, I softly called out to Elni.
“Elni, you can play the game all you want, but at least dry your hair properly. The hair is a girl’s life, isn’t it? Let’s ‘value life’, okay?”
“No, the tactic is ‘Full throttle’. I’m going to defeat the Demon Lord now!”
After all, Elni was engrossed in the game. Left with no other choice, I grabbed the towel and wiped her hair, whereupon Elni suddenly raised a scream.
“Uwaaah! Shinomun diiiied!”
“…Don’t give your game character my nickname.”
I retorted with that and since the game came to an end, I shook Elni’s shoulders while talking to her.
“Hey, Goddemon. Luna and Nazuna are strangely cold lately. Do something about it.”
“…Shinobuta-kun, Goddemon is busy. Drink this and cheer up.”
Along with her words, Elni handed me the fermented milk drink. What was up with this half-hearted reaction? Inadvertently I made a sigh.
“…I shouldn’t have asked Stupidemon for help.”
“Mhm, it’s a bit early to say that, Shinobu. I certainly might be stupid, but…”
When I demanded a continuation, Elni crossed her arms and started to ponder for the right words, but after a while she averted her gaze from me and lowered her head a bit.
“….Sorry. I can’t think of anything good to say.”
“Then how about ‘But it’s fine’?”
“That’s it! I certainly might be stupid! But it’s fine! Yeah! I feel kind of miserable now!”
Replying slovenly, I dropped my shoulders a bit.
There Elni rested her hand on my shoulder and showed a gentle smile.
“Shinobu, you don’t really need to worry that much about Luna and Nazucat. I believe they’re just mimicking Machina. I’m sure they are in a Tsundere boom right now.”
“Yeah, because Tsundere have a certain popularity at any world. The two of them might have just joined in on that. I also heard that there are Tsundere Cafés now.”
What kind of café was that? First time I heard of it. Was it something like a maid café?
“Just what kind of café is that?”
“First, when you come in, the waitress will shower you with cold words like ‘Huh? What are you doing here?’. Then, when you order, she’ll act cold with ‘You’re ordering that? Well, whatever’.”
…Was that even feasible as a shop? I was doubtful, but listened to Elni.
“Bu you know, when you try to leave, the waitress makes a sad face with ‘…Eh? You’re leaving already?’ and then turns all lovestruck with ‘Sorry for bullying you today. Please come again’. Personally, I don’t get it.”
“Right! The last lovestruck part was unneeded!”
“Eh? That’s the issue?”
Personally, I thought the treatment of the customers was the problem, but apparently not for Elni. Clenching her fists, she stressed out.
“At best, I want her to say ‘Begone, Idiot!’! She should just stay grumpy! Being lovestruck just lowers your guard! I always want to be alarmed! And I also want to go to a Tsundere café at least once!”
“…I don’t want to go. Doesn’t sound fun at all.”
“What are you saying, Shinobu! An expert like me doesn’t need any lovey-dovey, but an amateur like you, Shinobu, surely will be engrossed in the Tsundere café. Just wait, I’ll teach you the merits of a Tsundere!”
Along with her words, Elni cleared her throat with a cough. Facing sideways, she said with a played bashful tone.
“I- It’s not like I love you or anything. I hate you!”
“Yeah, I hate you as well.”
To be honest, I just meant it as a joke.
After a moment of puzzlement, Elni’s tears filled with tears and before I could fix the situation, tears started to fall. She started to cry without a voice.
“….Huh? Ehh? E- Elni? It, It was a joke, you know? Why are you crying?”
I rarely saw Elni crying. When I was thus in a panic, Elni looked down, as she didn’t want her crying face to be seen, and said with a small voice.
“….I get that it’s a joke. But, sorry. The tears just came out.”
“No, I should apologize. I’m sorry. To make up for it, I’ll listen to anything. Just say whatever you want.”
“Well then, hug me.”
“Y- Yeah, okay.”
It was embarrassing, so I hesitated for a bit, then I softly embraced Elni.
“Next, pet my head.”
Like I was told, I gently petted her head, whereupon Elni continued even further.
“Now kiss me on the cheek.”
“…Don’t get cheeky now.”
Quickly getting away from Elni, I then considered pulling on her ear, but… I refrained from doing so after all. Because Elni still had teary eyes, as it was quite the shock for her. I scratched my cheek lightly and properly lowered my head.
“I’m really sorry. On this occasion, you can complain about me. Say whatever mean thing you want to. Then we’ll be even.”
“I can’t do that. It’s impossible. I have no right, to speak bad about you, Shinobu.”
“What makes you think that?”
“I mean, I already forgot what you said earlier….”
“That’s a wonderful birdbrain you have. By the way, do you remember the day when we first met?”
So she properly remembered that. That meant, she was merely playing stupid just now. Elni must have been considerate to me.
While petting her head once more, I sat down on the sofa, whereupon Elni sat down in my lap spoiled.
….I couldn’t say anything anymore today.
Leaning the back of her head against my chest, Elni started her game again.
For now I tied up Elni’s hair into the usual twin tails, since I had nothing else to do. Then my mother came into the living room.
Seeing us, she smiled roguish and opened her mouth.
“Shinobu, are you that lonely after getting treated coldly by Luna-chan and Nazuna? It’s a rare occasion that Elni has to comfort you. You’re surprisingly pampered, Shinobu.”
“…If you understand the situation, stop messing around and give me some advice please, dear mother. Should you fail to help me out, I’ll load a virus onto your computer, damnit.”
“That’s not really an attitude for asking a favour, but fine.”
My mother sat down on the sofa, crossed her long legs and put her index finger against her cheek.
“Nazuna aside for now, properly apologize to Luna-chan. You just have to apologize in all sincerity and add ‘I’ll die when you hate me, Luna!’.”
“…And what if she replies with ‘Then die?’?”
“Then you die right in front of her.”
“Are you stupid! I don’t need your nonsense now! Stop messing around when I’m serious worried here!”
There I retorted with all my might, when Elni interjected as a follow up.
“But Tomoe-san has a point. Don’t they often say ‘Strike and be smashed up’?”
“They don’t and there’s no point if I get smashed up! What are you trying to break my delicate heart for! I won’t rely on you again! Just to tell you, I have a far more reliable confidant than you guys!”
Shouting resentful, I sprinted out of the living room. Then I ran into Machina at the hallway to my room.
For now I grabbed Machina’s shoulders and asked her.
“Hey Machina, could you pipe down your tsundere a bit? Luna and Nazuna are mimicking it, which troubles me.”
“Wh- What’s that, out of the blue! I’m not really a tsundere or anything! Don’t get the wrong idea!”
As I made her angry, Machina turned her back to me and went away in a huff. But, midway she stopped and said isolated with her back still to me.
“…Ehm, if you insist, well, I’ll try a bit.”
Ah, I just noticed. It was so bitter, because Luna and Nazuna had no “lovestruck” side.
In other words, they weren’t being tsundere, but might be simply angry. Then there was no need for Machina to tune her tsundere.
I scratched my head and called out to Machina’s back.
“Sorry, Machina. Forget what I just said. You’re cuter the way you are.”
“Th- Thanks… wait, first you say I should pipe down, then you say I should stay as I am, which one is it now! Stupid Shinobu!”
Machina turned around with her face bright red, then left this time for sure.
…She sure was cute.
Such thoughts crossed my mind as I went back to my room and took out my cell phone…
* * *
“…So you see, that Luna called me ‘rubbish’ and a ‘blockhead’. Don’t you think that’s a bit cold?”
After returning to my room, I had called the Gogyou Household’s maid Kaorun for advice. Just, because Kaorun gave vague agreeable statements of “Yes”, “Right” and “You are not at fault, Shinobu-sama.” and properly listened to me, midway I ended up grumbling without noticing it.
“Hey, what should I do? What do you think, Kaorun?”
“….More importantly, I am hungry.”
“Okay, then let’s go fetch some food. I know a shop that has opened all day. It’s my treat, so get ready.”
“Not only is your usual retort absent, but you are also strangely kind!?”
After releasing a surprised voice, Kaorun then said with a somewhat weary voice.
“Shinobu-sama, just now was a joke on my part. I will properly listen to your worries, so please continue.”
“No, enough about me. It’s only become grumbling now. If possible, I would like to hear your opinion, Kaorun. Why do you think is it that Luna and Nazuna act cold towards me?”
While hoping for an advice, I waited for her reply, but for some reason It wouldn’t come, no matter how long I waited.
“Mh? Kaorun? Kaoru-san?”
“…Ah, I am sorry. I dozed off a bit just now.”
“Listen seriously! You’re the only one I can rely on now, Kaorun!”
“I- Involuntarily I was deeply moved by your remark just now, but for how long do you think we have been talking now? I am tired. I want to go to bed now. I cannot even think straight anymore.”
“….Tired? From what? Did you stalk Hijiri or what?”
“That is my daily routine, so I am not particular tired from it. On the contrary, it supplies me with energy. Still, lately Hijiri-chan, who is a refreshment for my heart, is behaving strange. She was sick in bed the last few days, so I can only sleep at night from all my worries.”
“No, it’s plenty enough to sleep at night. Actually, stop stalking so casually.”
After retorting just in case, I corrected my tone, as I was a bit worried, and asked.
“So, what’s up with Hijiri? Did she got a summer cold or something?”
“To be honest, I am not sure. I would like to believe that it is a cold, but recently she is in a state, where she ‘meaningless’ sheds tears on whatever she looks at, be it a blooming or withering flower, which I can not really comprehend.”
“S- Somehow, I’m getting even more worried after hearing that. Can I come pay her a visit tomorrow?”
“Yes, of course I do not mind. Actually, you are more than welcome… But are you sure? In a way, you have troubles as well, Shinobu-sama?”
“Well, yeah, but I don’t really want to be at home right now.”
“Is that so. Well then, please come over tomorrow during noon. Let us assault Hijiri-chan in her bed together.”
“Roger. I’ll take the front. You secure the rear, Kaorun.”
Kaorun leaked a surprised voice, but I paid it no mind and said my farewell.
“Okay then, Kaorun, see you tomorrow. Sweet maid dreams.”
“You even took my catchphrase from me! For some reason, I am a bit angry! Please prepare yourself later on!”
Once again paying no mind to why Kaorun was angry, I hung up the phone. Then I took a look at the clock on the wall of my room, which showed that it was already past ten in the evening.
…Already this late? Impressive that Kaorun kept my company all the time. She was a really nice fellow. I was happy that she listened to me.
My affections points for Kaorun jumped up greatly, when suddenly my cell phone rang. It was a mail from Kaorun.
What was it? When I opened the mail, it said “This is Shinobu-sama’s real appearance. Please sent this mail to at least three more people. Otherwise you will become unhappy.” along with an attached picture of me cross-dressing.
…That rascal. Making such a simple harassment. Not just Miichan, but also Kaorun, just where did they get my cross-dress photo from?
I was quite interested about that, but that wasn’t something for right now.
For starters, I should dispatch the Mad Dog to take a picture of Kaorun’s sleeping face next time and then sent her a chain-letter type of mail with it.
With that decided upon, I left my room to get some tea and walked down the hallway, whereupon
“Mh? Nazuna is still awake?”
Nazuna’s door was opened a bit and through that gap showed a faint light.
…She must have been staying up late again. Not like I was one to say, but Nazuna was still in middle school. I had heard it was not good to stay up late during your growth period.
Intending to give her a light warning, I approached her room and was about to knock.
“Leave me alone already! For your information, I hate you!”
“Ah, yes, sorry.”
Even though I didn’t say anything yet, I was rejected and I apologized on a conditioned reflex from my recent experiences.
But, now that I thought about it, that wasn’t Nazuna’s voice just now.
Then whose was it? When I opened the door with my head tilted, inside were not just Nazuna, but also Luna. Huddled together, they were sleeping on the floor. As for the source of the voice, when I shifted my gaze towards the television, there was an anime showing on the screen.
Apparently a cute girl had flushed her cheeks bright red and was angry about a guy that stayed cool.
“Stupid, idiot, stupid! Who are you calling a tsundere! Die once! I totally hate you!”
“…Are tsundere popular even in anime now?”
While cocking my head in puzzlement, I turned of the television and faced the bed.
There, instead of Nazuna, a cat plush-toy lay with it’s cheek on the pillow. A bit wearily, I rested my hand on the shoulder of Nazuna, who was still sleeping on the floor.
“Hey, Nazuna. You’ll catch a cold if you sleep here. Properly sleep in your bed.”
While saying so, I lightly shook her shoulder, whereupon Nazuna mumbling moved her mouth in sleep talk.
“… I don’t… like you or anything, Brother.”
Why was she saying such cold stuff even in her sleep? When I inadvertently screamed, Luna also leaked a sleep talk, as in response to it.
“Uhh… I do not want continue… It is too sad… but, I have to … properly please…. -san….”
“…I’m… not annoying…. I’ll work hard…”
Frowning anxious, Luna and Nazuna were having a bad dream.
I didn’t know about their circumstances, but they might be worried about some stuff in their own way. I carried them in my arms in turns.
Nazuna’s body temperature was high, which calmed my heart on contact.
As for Luna, her body was soft and gave off a sweet fragrance, so I got a bit excited on the way to the bed. But, sleeping soundly on the bed together, they looked like sisters, which made me smile unmeant.
…I wished they would return to their usual selves quickly.
With a rather eager wish, I turned off the lights and left the room.
Then I showed up in the living room, where Elni was still playing the game and Machina was sleeping on the sofa, as she got sleeping while watching.
The hem of Machina’s skirt was rolled up and exposed her soft thighs, but I quickly averted my eyes and faced Elni aka Mad Dog again.
“Mad Dog, I have a job for you.”
“…What’s the job about and fee?”
I responded to Mad Dog, who slightly sharpened her look, with a low voice.
“Anytime will be fine. Take a picture of Kaorun’s sleeping face. As for the fee, how about I take you to the tsundere café next time?”
Giving a small nod, Mad Dog resumed the game.
She seemed just like a professional. It was kind of cool.
Well, that aside, negotiations were successful. After that, I carried Machina to her room and lay her to sleep on her bed. Then I went back to my room and slept.
…By the way, Mad Dog worked even faster than I had anticipated and the next morning, I had a mail with a picture of Kaourn’s sleeping face attached on my cell phone.
* * *
After lunch, I took out my cell phone, since all preparation were done, and said a mail to Kaorun, which first told her ‘I’m coming over now’, then had the addition “If you fail to sent this mail to at least three more people, you will go to hell” with the picture attached of Kaorun’s cute sleeping face.
…Good. I made a big nod in satisfaction.
Then, before leaving the house, Luna came to sent me off like always, but she was still grumpy as ever.
“Have a safe trip, Shinobu-san. I will not ask you where you are going, but I am not thinking anything of the likes how sad I am that you are going out even on summer vacation! Please do not get the wrong idea! You do not even need to come back!”
…I thought about saying something back, but it was too painful, so I could only say “I’m off”. Running off with my face covered by both my hands, I jumped on my bicycle with attitude. Then I headed for Hijiri’s house as if I was running away…
There pedalled my bicycle for a while and then a Japanese-style big mansion came into sight. At the same time, I spotted a female standing in front of the house.
Almond eyes and skin white as clouds. A semi-short haircut, which was a bit shaggy on the side. The female was an eye-opening beauty.
But she was just the Gogyou Household’s perverted maid Karoun aka Kaoru… wasn’t she?
Strangely enough, Kaorun wasn’t wearing her usual maid clothes.
For some reason, she wore the uniform of my high school and her long legs that peeked out from the skirt were rather erotic, which accelerated my heartbeat a bit.
On the other hand, Kaorun in question didn’t seem to notice my approach and made a slightly tired face while looking down, as she was likely in thought.
“Yo, worrying about something?”
When I tried to call out to Kaorun for now, Kaorun raised her head a bit surprised and smiled softly upon recognizing me.
“Welcome, Shinobu-sama. Will it be a temporarily stay today? Or will you be staying the night?”
“…Is your house an indecent hotel or what? I’ll leave by today. Actually, what’s up with that get-up? What about your maid clothes?”
“Well, truth be told, this morning when I told Hijiri-chan that you would be coming over, she stole my maid clothes for some reason and with the words ’Kaoru-san, please wear this’, she forcefully made me wear this. It certainly is a bit embarrassing.”
While saying so, Kaorun held down her skirt with both her hands. Her appearance had a fresh feeling to it and I didn’t grow tired of looking at it.
“Kind of cute.”
“…I see, you knew. But your face is red, you know?”
“I know that as well.”
“You sure know everything.”
“Yes, I also know that you love me very much.”
“…I see. So you don’t know everything after all.”
For some reason her usual joking was boring. After all Kaorun did appear a bit tired. Also concerned about Hijiri, I changed the topic.
“Hey, from what you said, Hijiri seems to be doing well, but… Is it really a cold?”
“…I have no idea anymore. Hijiri-chan is truly strange. You will understand once you see her, Shinobu-sama. For now, let us proceed inside.”
Inviting, I set forward, when Kaorun suddenly stopped in front of the front door and opened her mouth with “Reminds me”.
“Shinobu-sama, what was that mail from earlier about? How did you manage to capture my sleeping face? Actually, I am quite sensitive to people’s presences or gazes. I was quite surprised that I was photographed without my knowledge. Do not tell me that you have installed hidden cameras in my room, Shinobu-sama?”
“That’s a trade secret. Though, we have an excellent hunter called Mad Dog at our house— That’s all I’ll say.”
“…At times I am not sure if Elni-sama is amazing or simply stupid. Also, Please do not use the picture of my sleeping face to do anything perverted. It would arouse me.”
“Right back at you. Don’t use my cross-dressing picture to do anything perverted. It would embarrass me.”
“I understand— Is what I would like to say, but… it is already too late for that.”
“…Hey, wait a moment, pervert maid. What did you whisper just now?”
“You want me to say that embarrassing sentence with my mouth once more? You sure enjoy verbal abuse. Shinobu-sama, you pervert.”
…No, that reaction of turning bright red up to the ears just troubled me.
Even I got embarrassed and intruded on Hijiri’s house with my mouth shut from then on. Following, I took off my shoes in the entrance hall that was thrice as big as ours and Hijiri secretly peeked out her head from a corner.
“Ah, it really was you, Shinobu-kun. Welcome.”
“Yo, Hijiri. Thanks for having me over. You look more energetic than I…”
Inadvertently I stopped midway in my sentence and for now tried to pinch my own cheeks, but apparently this wasn’t a dream and certainly reality. The pain in my cheek told me that.
However, I couldn’t believe it. To describe the current situation with a single phrase— Naked apron. I took a second look, but without doubt she was clad in nothing but an apron. In a way, a man’s romance. Certainly surprised, I was dumbfounded, whereupon Hijiri flushed her cheeks and showed an adorable smile. Moreover she came running over to me with her voluminous breasts bouncing greatly.
….It seemed like a dream, but I suddenly realized. That this might just be a trap, plotted by Kaorun.
Hijiri actually was an exorcist. Her occupation was to seal and exorcise devils. And by accumulating results, she wanted to change the exorcist organisation that treated hybrid devils like Kaorun as tools.
So to increase her own strength, she had wanted to use a yin-yang technique, but that technique was cunning, as it was necessary to do perverted things.
Therefore, Hijiri used every opportunity to seduce me. This naked apron must have been Kaorun’s idea as well.
With that in mind, I wearily faced Kaorun, but
“H- Hi- Hi- Hijiki-chan!?”
“Who are you calling Hijiki! That’s a delicious sounding name, really!”
While retorting, I felt surprise. Kaorun, who I had thought to be the mastermind, was widening her eyes and got close to Hijiri in a flustered state.
“Wh- What are you doing, Hijiri-chan! Did you not wear my maid clothes earlier? Why naked in an apron!? That is a bit immodest! Depending on the other party, it might cause the person to freak out!”
“Don’t worry, Kaoru-san. When Shinobu-kun saw you and Luna-san naked in an apron previously, he was pleased. The maid clothes didn’t have enough impact. You also prefer this, right Shinobu-kun?”
While saying so, Hijiri shyly took a pose by bending over.
Upon that, the distinctly surfaced fine collarbone and cleavage of her big breasts were exposed in front of my eyes. Her voluminous breasts perfectly gleamed like silk and at their tip, I got a sneak-peek on a pink colour, where I averted my eyes right away.
“Ehm, well, Hijiri? Didn’t you have a cold? If you run around like that, your cold will get worse. I think it’s better if you hurry up and change.”
“…I see. This wasn’t good enough for you. Okay. I’ll go change into something different.”
“Eh? Different? Actually, what about your cold?”
I asked that, but Hijiri didn’t hear me, as she turned her back to me with attitude and walked away with swift steps. But, was she fully comprehending her current outfit?
Her peach-like bottom was in full view for me. Her sensual bottom shook lightly on every step, which nearly induced me to get a nosebleed.
I quickly pressed my hand on my nose and while cladding myself in composure, I called out to Kaorun.
“…What’s up with Hijiri? Is it really a cold?”
“I told you, did I not? That Hijiri-chan is behaving strange. I do not know what to do anymore.”
Along with her words, Kaorun made a small sigh.
Judging by this, Hijiri most likely wasn’t instigated by Kaorun, but were voluntarily actions from her.
….Seriously, what was up with Hijiri?
“Just to make sure, this isn’t a dream, right?”
“That is actually what I would like to ask. Shinobu-sama, I would like to confirm if this is reality, so would you please spank my bottom?”
I must have been quite shaken myself. Before I noticed it, I had spanked Kaorun’s elastic bottom, like she had told me to.
Instantly, Kaorun raised a strangely erotic “Yahn” voice and turned around. While colouring her cheeks bright red, she looked at me with protesting eyes.
“Wh- Why are you actually hitting me? It is not like you to reply to my foolery with foolery, Shinobu-sama! It made me leak a weird voice in surprise! My bottom is off-limit!”
“S- Sorry. Something must be wrong with me. To make up for it, you can hit me as well, Kaorun. I also want to confirm if this is a dream or not.”
“…Well then, Shinobu-sama, please close your eyes.”
“Ah, you can hit me, but not in the face, okay? And don’t strike my stomach. Also, making it all too strong is forbidden too. Be gentle, okay?”
“You are so selfish. It seems like you would ask ‘Make it a nipple slap’ at this rate… so please make do with this.”
Kaorun came closer with her cheeks still red and rested her hand on my shoulder, then softly pressed her lips onto my cheek.
“…I knew it, a dream?”
Kaorun got away from me right away and turned her back towards me, but her aroma still tingled my nasal cavities even now and I could also still feel the sensation of her lips on my cheek.
While I stood there absent-minded, Kaorun said with her back still to me and red ears.
“A payback for hitting my bottom. Also, this is reality. Therefore, Shinobu-sama, please stop making a stupid face and go ahead to Hijiri-chan’s room. I will go prepare some tea. You know the way, right?”
“…With my current condition, I might go into your room by mistake, Kaorun, but don’t worry about it too much then.”
“I understand. I also might go into your room, crawl into your bed and sniff your smell by mistake, Shinobu-sama, but please do no worry about it either.”
“No, what kind of mistake is that. I’ll worry.”
Having my foolery replied with a foolery, I perfectly understood Kaorun’s feelings from earlier. I shrugged my shoulders, split up with Kaorun and headed for Hijiri’s room up the stairs.
The house was as huge as ever, but I had been in Hijiri’s room once before. I shouldn’t get lost. I arrived in front of the room and knocked lightly….but there was no reply.
“Hijiri? I’m coming in.”
While precautionally giving notice, I opened the door, but no one was inside. Hijiri might still changing her clothes. Then I would feel bad about entering her room all on my own.
I wanted to close the door right away, but I suddenly noticed a couple of magazines scattered on the floor in the room and stopped my hand.
…What? She had kept everything in neat order when I came here previously. Well, it wasn’t so much as to call it dirty now, but I was a bit concerned about the titles of the magazines.
All of them were how-to books with titles like “How to capture a guy for sure”, “How to make a guy yours” and “How to make a guy spellbound”.
…Was Hijiri really the type to read such magazines?
I tilted my head, as I felt it out of place, then I could hear footsteps. When I looked behind me, there stood Hijiri. She stood there, but
“Wh- What’s with that outfit?”
I became speechless once more.
This time she was naked in a white shirt.
The shape of Hijiri’s big breasts rose up through the white shirt while from the hem, her thighs gave off bewitching brilliance and her long, white legs extended smoothly.
While I was petrified perfectly, Hijiri crossed her arms behind her back and took an erotic pose.
“How’s it, Shinobu-kun? This outfit should satisfy you?”
“….I had my fill already.”
To be honest, my heart been in a turmoil for a while. I wished she would go change right away, but it would be troubling if she changed into something even more stimulating.
For the time being I affirmed and turned my gaze back to the door.
“H- Here, Hijiri, why don’t we go in?”
“Yeah, today for sure I’m going to please you, Shinobu-kun.”
…Uhm, I just came here to pay her a sick visit? Had she really been sick in bed? She certainly behaved strange, but just what was up?
While I wondered in my heart, I went into the room and sat down on a seat cushion near the table. There Hijiri fidgeting rubbed her knees against each other and opened her mouth with red cheeks.
“Uhm, Shinobu-kun, can I sit down too?”
“Mh? This is your room, so you can sit down wherever you want, you know?”
Saying her thanks with a smile, Hijiri sat down like that in my lap while still smiling.
….Mhh? Wait a moment.
The sensation of her elastic bottom pressed onto my body and a sweet fragrance hung in the air from her glamorous, black hair. All of a sudden I was in a pinch.
“Ehm, Hijiri-san? What are you doing?”
“Y- You said I can sit down wherever I want, so I sit down here. If, If you were to embrace me from behind now, I would be very happy.”
“….Sorry, but I can’t bend my arms today. Give up on it.”
“No, I won’t give up. I’ll test if you really can’t bend your arms.”
H- Huh? My usual disregarding didn’t work at all? Today Hijiri was quite different. Just like a whole different person. Bashfully taking my arms, she smiled happily.
…Please, stop it.
My palms were on Hijiri’s stomach and both my arms touched her soft breasts. I was already in a bind from her bottom and sweet fragrance. With that on top, my reasoning was unlikely to last.
But, I bit onto my lip and decided to endure it by all costs.
Despite that, with no regards to my feelings, Hijiri held both my arms tightly and said.
“Shinobu-kun, does it feel good? The book said that boys like the sensation of a girl’s body. Do you also like it?”
“Rather than like or hate, I’m only feeling warmth.”
“Mh, sometimes you stay so cool that it’s saddening.”
“But you like me better as cool, right?”
“Not really. I also want to see you not cool at times.”
“Me and not cool? Then I would just be handsome.”
“Th- That might be…”
No, that wasn’t so. She should deny it. It made me embarrassed.
So I retorted in my heart while Hijiri blushed and continued with a “but”.
“For example, I would like to see a Shinobu-kun that says ‘Hijiri-tan, Hijiri-tan, hah, hah, I can’t stand it anymore. I want to hold you tight, kiss you all over and then do perverted stuff’.”
“…You really want to see me like that?”
“I, I might not after all. I want it to be more romantic.”
“Then don’t say it. Besides, what’s up with that phrase? Is it Kaorun’s influen—”
“But! I’ll accept you even like that!”
Cutting into my words, Hijiri turned around and brought her face closer.
For now, I decided to use my last trump card.
“Shinobu-kun, I’ll kiss you if you pretend to sleep.”
“I’m awake! I just woke up!”
M- My trump card was defeated so easily.
When I opened my eyes right away, Hijiri puffed her cheeks lightly and leaned the back of her head against my chest once more. Then she fanned her cheeks with her palm and said.
“…Somehow, it’s hot here.”
“Well, the cooler is on, but it’s because you’re clinging to me even though it’s summer. I’m sure you’ll feel refreshed when you get away from me.”
“It’s hot, so I’m going to take off some clothes.”
“WHY!? Listen to me! You’re not a nudist! Stop it!”
I desperately raised a voice to stop her. However, Hijiri didn’t listen to my words at all and unbuttoned three buttons around her chest, which exposed her ample bosom.
From my position, I got a fantastic view into her cleavage and as Hijiri didn’t wear a brassiere, the tip region of her breasts changed shaped through the white shirt. I got aroused— No, I did not. I shouldn’t, by all means. Right away I clenched my fists so hard that it hurt and succeeded in cladding myself in composure.
However, my worldly desires followed me around like a pet dog.
Every time Hijiri moved, her voluminous breast shook and I was on tenterhooks. A lot of things stayed dangerous.
K- Kaorun, hurry up. Do something about this situation. Help me.
I wished for that in my heart, then as my wished had been heard, there was a knock on the door and Kaorun came into the room.
Kaorun held a tray with cups of drinks and cakes on it in her hands.
But, the moment she saw us, she was about to drop the tray in her hand. Following, she looked at us once more and raised a surprised voice.
“W- Wh-Wh-Wh- What are you doing, Hijiri-chan! What is the meaning of that outfit!? I believe that is certainly too daring!”
“It’s okay, Kaoru-san. I’m properly wearing panties this time!”
“That is not the problem here! It looks like Shinobu-sama is enduring something with an incredible expression, so in a way it might be a correct solution, but there is no meaning if you lose your sanity for it, Hijiri-chan!”
“I’m sane! Kaoru-san, be quiet for a moment!”
“For some reason I made her angry!?”
Receiving a shock, Kaorun got teary eyes on a rare occasion and put the tray with the drinks and cakes on the table dejected. Then she called out to Hijiri reserved.
“Excuse me, Hijiri-chan, could you get away from Shinobu-sama for now, so that we can have tea? He is a guest and and we have to properly cater him.”
Replying to Kaorun with a nod, Hijiri got away from me reluctantly. There I made a sigh of relief and reached out for the cup in front of me, but
Along with her words, Hijiri snatched away my drink, put it on her mouth and drank it in one gulp. Following, she quickly closed in to my face and opened her mouth with bright red cheeks.
“I did something mean to you, Shinobu-kun! So punish me!”
“Huh? Punish you? I’m not even angry. I’ll just take your drink instead. Besides—”
In the middle of my sentence, Hijiri took her own drink and once again drank it in one gulp.
“Ehm, then I’ll take Kaorun’s…”
When Hijiri fiercely glared at Kaorun,
“Ah, yes, I understand!”
She guessed Hijiri’s intention with just that and grabbed her cup, then drank it in one gulp like Hijiri.
I watched over that dumbfounded, whereupon Hijiri lowered her head a bit.
“Sorry, Shinobu-kun. Kaoru-san and I carelessly drank all the drinks on purpose. That was rude to you, our guest. So please punish me.”
“You just said ‘on purpose’! It was totally intended! Besides, what kind of punishment should I do?”
Hijiri fidgeted her index finger against each other, then
“…Please spank my bottom.”
She isolated said something unbelievable.
Yeah, I had not choice but to escape.
“Shinobu-chan is going to the toilet for a bit.”
“Hold on with the toilet, Shinobu-kun. The punishment comes first.”
“Th- Then I guess it’s time for me to go home?”
“That would be troubling! And sad! Kaoru-san! Seal the door!”
“Ah, yes, I understand. I understand, but just why do I have to do that!? I do not like such a Hijiri-chan!”
Once again getting teary eyes, Kaorun headed for the door like told and sealed my escape route.
Now I was completely trapped. I could only fool them with words. I forced myself to show a refreshing smile and declared to Hijiri while smiling.
“Hijiri, you’re cute today.”
“Thanks. Now the punishment please.”
“H- Hijiri-san, we have such fine weather today. How about we go somewhere to play?”
“Yeah, let’s do so later. For now, punishment please.”
“Hijiri-sama! I beg of you, please abstain from that.”
“I definitely won’t stop! I won’t give until you do so! Punish me, please…”
Facing me with such wet eyes was a foul play.
But, well, I just needed to keep my reasoning. That seemed to be rather difficult, but I nodded resigned.
Upon that, Hijiri showed a temporarily hesitation, then put her hands on the bed and lightly pushed out her bottom.
As a result, I could see black panties from under the white shirt’s hem, which showed a vivid round curve, and her bottom was exposed in front of my eyes, even if only in black panties.
Th- The black panties were rather lewd. When I pondered if I could really have my way with this bottom, my reasoning was about to crumble at once. I took a deep breath to calm my feelings.
“I- It looks like I am a bother, so I will excuse myself now.”
Kaorun averted her eyes and quickly left the room.
…Without doubt, she ran away.
To be honest, I wanted to run away as well, but it didn’t seem like I could back away from this situation. Setting my resolve, I looked at her, whereupon Hijiri had her eyes tightly shut and her cheeks were flushed from shame while her body was somewhat tense.
It would get dangerous if I looked at this for too long. I should finish this quickly. I slowly raised my hand and a bit hesitant, I swung down my hand, gently hitting Hijiri’s bottom.
“Ahn… He… really did it…”
Hijiri leaked a sweet voice and looked at me with drowsy eyes. Moreover, she said somewhat begging.
“Shinobu-kun, it’s punishment, so you have to hit a bit stronger….”
“I, I see. Like this?”
I put a little bit more strength into my hit.
“Yah… Hah… Ahh… Yaah.”
A bewitching voice started to come out from Hijiri’s pink lips.
“Ahh, Ahh, Hah…Ahah….Mmh!”
Every time her bottom was slapped, Hijiri’s voice gradually became louder and her dignified voice mixed together with a sweet voice while her breathing became rough.
Her well-formed bottom softly took in my palm and repelled it, which conveyed it’s indescribable elasticity through my palm.
Because of this, my chest filled with guilt and immorality while Hijiri’s sweet voice melted my brain and nearly made me forget myself for a moment, whereupon I stopped my hand.
There Hijiri looked at me with wet eyes and timidly opened her mouth.
“…Shinobu-kun, you can touch me elsewhere besides my bottom too…”
“Sorry, but any more is impossible. Let’s end it here.”
It really was dangerous. I was at my limit. I declared clearly.
Upon that, Hijiri cast down her eyes and looked down. After a small pause, her voice trembled a bit.
“I knew it, I’m not cute, so Shinobu-kun isn’t pleased with me… Shinobu-kun prefers little girls…”
Huh? Little girls? What was she saying?
“Ehm Hijiri? I’m not a paedophile.”
“….Don’t lie, Shinobu-kun. I mean, you’re going out with a younger girl. I’m sure you’re only interested in younger ones…”
Mhh? I didn’t have a girlfriend though? Just how did she got this misunder— wait, ah, damn…
Reminded me, due to the incident with Tamaki I had claimed a lot of things, as well as telling the lie that I was going out with Miichan.
…Not good. I had wanted to clear it up afterwards, but Luna and Nazuna started to be grumpy right after, so I totally forgot about it.
Hijiri most likely still had a misunderstanding. While hanging her head, she bowed down a bit.
“Sorry, Shinobu-kun. You already have a proper girlfriend, yet, while I know it’s pathetic, I can’t congratulate you, I can’t give up on you, I’m sad that you got taken away and I’m always thinking how I can get you back….”
“No, Hijiri, stop for a bit!”
Sopping Hijiri midway, I scratched my cheek and continued.
“Well, it’s a bit too late, but, well, I had my reasons…”
Actually I felt rather guilty and it was hard to say, but I explained it in order.
About how Miichan was troubled. How I played Miichan’s boyfriend when we met at the department hall. How I could only lie in front of Tamaki.
While I explained that, Hijiri’s cheeks gradually become redder and when I finished my explanation, Hijiri was bright red up to her ears.
“Sh- Shinobu-kun! If that as the reason, why didn’t you tell me earlier! Now I ended up doing something unbelievable! So embarrassing! I’m so ashamed of myself! I’m done for! I can’t properly look you into the face anymore!”
Right after covering her face with both hands, Hijiri moved onto the bed and pulled the blanket over her head with attitude. Shutting herself in, she didn’t come out from there.
…Somehow, I felt really sorry.
Apparently the reason why Hijiri had turned so weird was me. After days of worries, Hijiri had ran rampage today.
I sat down on the corner of the bed and called out softly to Hijiri.
“Hey Hijiri, you called yourself ‘not cute’ earlier, but I think you’re a very cute girl.”
“…You’re lying. I mean, you always ignore me.”
On my words, Hijiri’s pouting voice came back from out of the blanket. There I made a wry smile and slowly opened my mouth to use this opportunity to tell her properly.
“I have no other choice but to ignore you. I mean, I’m a guy after all. If I were to respond to you, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to hold myself back.”
“….Eh? What, do you mean…?”
“Just like I said, every time, even today, I’m holding back myself, you know? I’m worried every time, since I’m always close to forget myself.”
“I, I don’t believe you. You’re always making such a calm expression.”
After showing her face out from the blanket, Hijiri straightened up her upper body and avoided my gaze.
I declared to her firmly.
“I told you, I’m keeping myself in check. If I were to respond to your seduction, I would abandon myself to you.”
Hijiri’s seduction was done for the yin-yang technique that increased her own strength. As long as that was the reason, I had no intention to respond to it.
“…Well, you see, I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with you, just for the yin-yang technique. I don’t want to do it with you for that.”
Temporarily stopping my words, I paid my embarrassment no mind and continued.
“For me, you’re, how should I say, really brilliant. Maybe admiration? Either way you’re popular at school, cute and charming, so I’m not really a match for you. But you’re precious…. Mh? Hijiri? What’s up?”
Even though I was suppressing my embarrassment, Hijiri was looking down and was mumbling something on the line of “…Ad- Admiration… cute… charming…”, not listening to me.
“Hey, Hijiri? Listen to me.”
When I grabbed her shoulders and shook them as a test, Hijiri, with her head raised, was dizzy for some reason and so bright red that I thought she would start to emit steam.
“…I’m… really… done… for….”
Leaving these words behind, Hijiri hung her head and her body lost all strength.
“Eh? Hey, Hijiri? Hijiri-san?”
As she fainted, Hijiri didn’t twitch at all when I called out to her or shook her body. Her sleeping face looked strangely happy, so I hesitated to wake her up.
There I softly laid down Hijiri and pulled the blanket over her.. then quietly left the room.
I came for a sick visit today, but the reason for Hijiri’s strange behaviour wasn’t a cold. Since I kind of resolved the actual reason now, she should be fine.
…Now then, I should play a bit with Kaorun and then head home.
I walked down the long hallway, got down the stairs and looked for Kaorun, whereupon I found her in the needlessly big living room.
Kaorun was in her usual maid clothes, as she had changed.
However, even though I was in such a big pinch, she was nonchalantly watching TV while eating rice cookies and drinking tea.
“Ah, I though of a little poem. In the early afternoon – In my master’s room – there is a beast soon.”
“….Hey, what are you composing lame poems for after you abandoned me? Actually, you already noticed me, right?”
When I called out like that, Kaorun showed no sign of surprise, as she really did notice me already, and turned off the TV. And when I sat down besides her, she asked with a little bit serious expression.
“So, Shinobu-sama, what happened to Hijiri-chan?”
“Seems she was tired. She’s sleeping in her room.”
“…So you did something to make her tired, I see. Then please make sure to take responsibility. And properly feed me as well please.”
“No, you can survive even without me. Also, don’t make weird suspicions. I didn’t do anything.”
“That is too bad— is what I would like to say, but it might have been for the better this time. If you had given in to the seduction in that situation, I am sure you would be unable to bear the guilt and fall down as far as you could.”
“…I won’t deny that.”
“Why are you not denying it! You are unexpected weak, Shinobu-sama! I am surprised!”
While surprised, Kaorun rested her chin on her hand on the table and made a sigh.
“At any rate, I wonder why Hijiri-chan behaved so strange?”
“Ehm, there was some stuff.”
“…Judging by your phrasing, you know something about it? That said, I take you did something to Hijiri-chan?”
“You sure are sharp.”
“No, I merely asked a leading question… But for now, I seek an explanation.”
“…You won’t get angry even if I tell you the truth? You won’t hit me?”
I asked timidly, whereupon Kaorun grinned and responded.
“Of course I will not get angry, no matter the reasons. I promise you that I will not hit you. I am gentle to Hijiri-chan and you, Shinobu-sama. Now please tell me.”
Urged by Kaorun with a smile, I told her the true circumstances.
As a result, Kaorun leaked a big sigh after I finished my story and stared at me.
…She might have been angry after all. Just what was she going to do to me? Her usual inexpressiveness was conversely scary. I got a bit worried, whereas Kaorun got on her knees and came closer to me.
Suddenly, she reached out both her hands and embraced me.
…Mh? Huh? What was going on? It was just so unexpected that I was dumbfounded for a moment, then I opened my mouth right away.
“Ehm, Kaoru-san? What’s this, out of the blue?”
“I am tired from a lot of things. Today I want to rest at ease by petting your head, Shinobu-sama. Please keep my company.”
Replying softly, Kaorun started petting my head like she had said.
…Somehow I got the feeling that I was treated like a puppy. I would like to get away from Kaorun right away, but not only was I hesitant, but it also seemed impossible.
Although, her supple fingers touched my hair and her elastic breasts pressed against my cheek while her body was warm and gave off a sweet fragrance.
In a way, I felt like I was being seduced. While my heart beat rapidly, Kaorun giggled and said whispering near my ear.
“Shinobu-sama, seeing as this is a good opportunity, shall we proceed onto the bed now?”
“Nope. Please keep it here.”
“You are so cold. But, that shy side of yours is cute.”
“Is that so. Well then, I am sure you know as well that your own cheeks are red. Fufu, you indeed are cute.”
Giggling happily, Kaorun tightly embraced me.
…Did she really take me for a puppy? Actually, was someone like me really soothing her?
I was doubtful, but after a while,
“Energy charge complete.”
Saying that, Kaorun made a satisfied face and finally let go off me.
On the other hand, I was strangely tired from the nervousness, so I laid face up down on the spot.
While watching over me with a smile, Kaorun opened her mouth with “Reminds me”.
“Last night, you told me over the phone that Luna-sama and Nazuna-sama were behaving strange and I now understand the reason for it for Nazuna-sama.”
“Eh For real?”
When I straightened up my upper body with attitude and leaned forward, Kaorun nodded small.
“Actually, I talked to the young master for a bit this morning and it appears that the young master is acquainted with Nazuna-sama.”
Yeah, I got the feeling that Nazuna said something similar to Chihaya-san at the department hall the other day.
“Also, the young master was aware of the reason to why Nazuna-sama had turned Tsundere, so I thought about asking him, but he would not tell me so easily…. I had no choice but to harden my heart, as it was for your sake, Shinobu-sama”
…Just what did she do? I was rather curious about that, but I gave up on it, since I was a bit scared. I didn’t interject and listened to Kaorun.
“According to the young master, Nazuna-sama consulted with her best friend and has become a Tsundere to please you, Shinobu-sama.”
“…To please me?”
The best friend was most likely Miichan, but why would Nazuna think about that?
Considering it weird, I tilted my head, whereupon Kaorun opened her mouth to answer my question.
“Apparently, Nazuna-sama does not want to be hated by you, Shinobu-sama.”
“Huh? I don’t really hate her. It’s actually the opposite.”
“Yes, I am well aware that you have a sister complex, Shinobu-sama.”
I was more or less aware of my own sister complex, so I stayed quiet for now. There Kaorun giggled, then changed her tone into a serious one and continued with a “Therefore”.
“I found it to be strange as well, but it seems a classmate denied her that fact, so she is trying hard.”
…Mh? Denied that fact? Could it be, Nazuna was bothered about the stuff Chihaya-san said at the department hall?
“Yesterday, the young master seemed to have met Nazuna-sama by chance at the club activities, but he said that she was rather depressed.”
“…I see. Thanks for telling me.”
While saying so, I stood up, whereupon Kaorun tilted her head and asked.
“Shinobu-sama, where are you going?”
“Sorry, but I’m going home for today.”
“That is too bad. If you were to stay over tonight, you could have feasted on Sushi from Hijiri-chan’s body. And the desert would have been a naked Hijiri-chan.”
“…Sounds like a dish that really brings out the flavour of the ingredients.”
“By the way, the main dish would have been a rendezvous with a maid.”
“The fact that it’s not even food makes it inadvertently stand out the most.”
Well, it was her usual joking. I would have liked to stay a bit longer, but I had to do something more important now. I headed for the front door, whereupon Kaorun, who came to see me off, said teasingly.
“Please give Nazuna-sama my regards, Mr. Siscon.”
“…You’re more than enough of a Siscon yourself.”
Retorting with that, I made my tone softer while petting Kaorun’s head.
“Thanks for going through all the trouble of finding out about Nazuna. You were a great help.”
“…U- Usually you act all bashful, but you can say these things so readily, which is exactly why people call you a natural gigolo, Shinobu-sama.”
W- Was that so? However, there was no need to worry if it was just that. I said my thanks to Kaorun once more, then head home right away.
* * *
As soon as I got home, I headed for Nazuna’s room, knocked and called through the door.
“Nazuna, it’s me. Your brother with the wonderful smile. Can I come inside?”
“…I’m currently not at home.”
“No, no, you’re totally there. I’m coming in.”
When I opened the door after a fair warning, Nazuna was sitting on the bed and her expression was somewhat gloomy.
“Wh- Why are you coming in on your own? I- It’s not like I’m happy that you’re here or anything!”
“Don’t be so cold.”
I would have gotten depressed for sure if I hadn’t known the circumstances, but I just shrugged my shoulders, sat down besides Nazuna and opened my mouth.
“Just to tell you, I like the usual Nazucat more than the Tsundere Nazucat, you know?”
“I, I’m not a Tsundere! Don’t get the wrong idea!”
“…It’s something I heard from a certain maid. The reason you consulted with Miichan before, was for a way to please me, right?”
When I asked softly, Nazuna widened her eyes in surprise, then dropped her shoulders dejected.
“…Oh, you already know. Even though I was going to be lovestruck now and please you…”
“You don’t need to force yourself to do that. It’s only disturbing me. I just told you, I like the usual Nazucat better.”
“…Really? I’m not annoying?”
Along with her words, Nazuna’s eyes shook in worry. She really seemed bothered about what Chihaya-san said before. I softly reached out my hand for Nazuna’s head.
“Not even once, have I thought of you as annoying.”
“…But, I always fawn over you… and only cause you troubles?”
“Troubles from my cute little sister are nothing. I told you before, you can fawn over all you want. I’m your older brother, so don’t show any weird reservation.”
While petting Nazuna’s head, I leaked a small sigh and continued.
“Besides, I was quite depressed when you acted all grumpy. I though that I might be hated by my precious sister… I was about to cry, you know? Please be aware about that.”
“…I’m sorry. I was bitter for me too, but because I love you, I wanted to please you. Otherwise I thought you would hate me… So…”
“Aw, don’t cry. It’s okay now. Just be your usual self from now on again.”
Nazuna might have been enduring it in her own way. As she no longer could hold back, big drops of tears spilled out of her eyes.
There was a lot I wanted to say, but as she did it for my sake, I couldn’t reprimand, nor get angry at her. For a while I continued to pet her head.
Upon that, Nazuna softly wiped her tears with her fingertip and pulled on my sleeve.
“Hey, Brother, Luna-oneechan is the same as me. Miichan told us that boys like Tsundere, so we learned from an anime that Miichan lent to us and tried to please you. That’s why, I think she’ll start to be lovestruck from tomorrow on. Please let her be until then.”
“…Sorry, but I can’t do that. I like your usual selves better. You don’t need to force yourselves. I’ll go talk to Luna for a bit.”
“Ah, you can’t. Luna-oneechan is really trying hard, you know?”
“Like I said, there’s no need for that weird hard-work.”
While saying so, I got away from Nazuna, left the room and looked for Luna. There I happened to run into Luna at hallway with the perfect timing, so I called out to her with a casual tone.
“Hey Luna, I want to talk a bit. Do you have time?”
“N- No. I am busy, so please wait until later. I, I do not really enjoy talking with you or anything, Shinobu-san. Please do not get the wrong idea.”
….Strange. Even though I knew it was acting, my heart hurt for some reason.
Facing sideways, Luna turned her back to me like that. I couldn’t just quietly see her leave…. Before I noticed it, I had embraced Luna from behind.
Instantly, Luna raised a somewhat surprised “Hyah” voice.
“Eh? Ehh? Sh- Shinobu-san? What is the matter?”
I got the feeling that Luna got bright red up to her ears, but
“…Luna, enough already.”
paying no mind to it, I embraced her even tighter.
“When you act like that, I become no-good. It’s too sad. I like the usual Luna better. So please, stop it.”
When I begged her desperately, Luna, who had stiffened up a bit, relaxed her body.
“……Yes, I understand.”
And a true preoccupied voice left Luna’s mouth.
Did she really understand? I was a bit worried and when I released my hug,
Luna hugged onto me with drowsy eyes from the front this time. And in a spellbound state, she lightly kissed my cheek.
Luna’s lips were soft and warm, felt really good.
I completely forgot myself on the sensation of her well-formed lips, when Luna softly got away from me.
“Ehehe… Shinobu-san likes the usual me…”
Mumbling something with a small voice, she went away. But, midway she tripped perfectly. Still, Luna stood up, as it didn’t hurt, and hummed. She stayed in a good mood even later…
Well, with that, the case was somehow resolved.
Still, I was kind of tired today. After getting out of the bath, I wanted to go to sleep right away, but then I got a call from Kaorun.
What did she want? I tilted my head and took the call.
“What’s up, Kaorun? Did you want to hear my dandy voice?”
“…Excuse me to spoil your good mood, but I have no time to play along with your joke. Hijiri-chan is acting strange again.”
“I would not be troubled if I knew that. With her cheeks red, she happily keeps saying ’Shinobu-kun did….. He did… ehehe…” and will not come out from under the blanket. Shinobu-sama, just what did you do to Hijiri-chan?”
“N- No idea…?”
I had hunch, but just this time I kept my mouth shut…..
Chapter 03: Pampered Puppy
The sensation of round breasts pressing against the back of my head. A sweet fragrance tickling my nasal cavities. Long, red hair hanging over my shoulder.
“Hey, Shinobu, what’s that?”
Sticking close to me and resting her chin on my head, Machina peered at my hands.
…Earlier she had docilely played with the portable game console on my bed, but in this situation now I couldn’t concentrate at all.
Leaking a sigh in my heart, I hid my agitation and answered her question.
“It’s a report Sougo-san wrote for me.”
“…If I remember right, Sougo-san was Hijiri’s father that was on bad terms with Elni?”
“Yeah, unlike my random gramps and dad, he’s a serious person.”
While feeling the indescribable elasticity of her voluminous breasts, I continued further, not paying all too much mind to it.
“You remember that Kaorun came over yesterday, played a game with Nazuna, sexual harassed Luna, took a nap in my bed and then peacefully went home, right? She gave me this report at that time.”
During summer vacation, Sougo-san apparently couldn’t clear his schedule at all and thus couldn’t give me any exorcist training. So instead, he wrote a summarizing report about the exorcists spells and devils, mailing it here from his job.
When I told Machina that, she made an agreeable “Mhm” response while resting her chin on my shoulder this time. And pressing her soft breasts against my body, she once more looked down on the report.
…I was repeating myself, but I couldn’t concentrate in this situation at all.
“Uhm, Machina-san? As you can see, I’m studying.”
“So what, I’m not really bothering you, so it’s fine.”
Replying with an intimation of sulking, Machina clung to me even stronger.
Could it be she was bored? Or did she just want attention? Either way, it didn’t look like I couldn’t ignore it. I should put my studying on hold and play with her.
When such thoughts crossed my mind, the ring tone of my cell phone suddenly sounded. …Such bad timing, who was it? When I got away from Machina and took the cell phone in my hand, it was a call from my classmate and friend, the pervert Asada Kouta.
“Hello? Here’s the elegant English Gentleman, but which pervert am I speaking with?”
“Hello, I’m the fairy-like pervert that lives in the Asada valley in Midoriyama. I called today to hear the voice of my beloved darling. I wuv you, Darling.”
“…Drop dead. I’m busy right now. I’m hanging up if nothing is up.”
“Aww, you’re so cold, Darling. But, that’s what I love about you <3” “That’s what I love about myself as well.” “…You’re so screwed up that it’s cool.” Returning to his self and retorting, Asada cleared his throat with a cough, changing his tone into a serious one. “Hey Nanjou, sorry that it’s so sudden, but I have a favour to ask.” “A favour? I don’t know Machina’s three sizes, you know? Ask someone else.” “No problem, I already know them. From top, 92 - 59 - 88, F-cup. It’s saved in the gentleman folder in my brain. If you want, I can tell you the three-sizes of all females at our school, regardless of class, year, student or teacher…. What do you say?” “Nope. If I really want to know them, I’ll ask the person in question myself. That’s how a gentleman rolls.” It wasn’t like I had no interest, but Machina looked a bit doubtful with “…What are you talking about?”. I should better get back on topic. “So, Asada, what’s that favour about?” “Yeah, actually, I want you to look after our pet dog.” “…I don’t want to look after you.” “I’m not a dog! Though I do want to become the dog of a pretty miss! But that’s not what I meant!” Then what did he mean? I had visited the Asada Household a few times to hang out, but I didn’t see them keeping a dog. I was doubtful, whereupon Asada made a sigh and explained. “Remember that day where there was that huge storm? At that time, I found an abandoned dog.” “…And you, picked it up?” “What else could I have done. It was still a puppy, I couldn’t leave it alone. I wanted to search for someone to take it in, but my mother and sister became rather attached to it, so in the end, we kept it.” According to Asada, his mother and sister were smitten by the puppy. However, the Asada family had plans to go on a family vacation during summer vacation and they couldn’t take the puppy with them. Therefore he wanted that I looked after the puppy while they are on the trip. Once I heard all the circumstances, I suddenly asked curious. “Hey Asada, I get you, but when are you leaving for that trip?” “To.mor.row<3” “…Sorry but there’s no tomorrow for you. Farewell.” “Noooo! Wait a sec! Don’t turn me down! Even I know it’s sudden! Actually our neighbours were supposed to look after the puppy, but…” “But what? They made a run for it?” “No, idiot! Don’t say something so sinister! They’re all down with a cold!” Oho, so that was why he called me today. I comprehended in my heart, whereupon Asada raised the volume of his voice with “Therefore”. “I only have you, Nanjou! Please! Just for a little while! Look after our dog! I’ll give you my treasure books if you accept! Like the one with the blondie or the blondie or the blondie or some that I don’t need…” “…Don’t limit my tastes to blondies! And don’t push your unwanted erotic books on me either! Even without these, I’ll look after your dog.” “Eh? Really? You sure?” Even though I gave him the okay, Asada leaked a perplexed voice for some reason. “Ehm, don’t you have to consider things as well? After all it’s really sudden, shouldn’t you ask your folks about it?” “None of your concern. The great me allowed it. Don’t waste your time on unnecessary worry and just think about flirting with your beloved sister on your trip!” “…Tsundere sure a nice.” “Huuh? You said something?” “No, nothing.” While saying so, Asada snickered and continued with a soft tone. “Thanks, really. You’re a great help, Nanjou. I’ll come over tomorrow morning, so until then.” “Yeah, if you actually live to see a tomorrow that is.” Getting a bit bashful, I said something suited and hung up. There Machina tilted her head and came closer. “Shinobu, it seemed like a fun conversation, but who was it?” “The pervert.” “Wh- Which one? Kaoru? Or Asada?” M- Mhm~ That reply was unexpected. Kaorun shouldn’t be grouped together with Asada. I felt a bit sorry for her. Feeling a bit sympathetic for Kaorun, I answered to Machina’s question. “The call was from the true pervert. Seems he started keeping a dog recently and we’re going to look after it while he’s on a trip. I’ll tell the others about it when mom comes home… But you don’t mind, Machina? You don’t hate dogs or anything?” “No. I’m completely fine with them. Anyway, when’s the dog coming? What’s it’s name? What breed? Is it small? Average? Or big? And is it true that dogs get angry when you touch their tails?” Readily leaning over her body, Machina bombed me with questions. …If she were a dog, I would totally touch her tail now. With that impression, I called Asada, so that I could answer her questions. I asked for the gender, breed and name of the dog…. * * * The usual dinner time. Luna, Elni and Nazuna happily chit-chatted. While giving the slightly restless Machina a side-glance, I waited for the right opportunity to call out to my mother. “Hey Mom, my friend from school asked a favour of me…” “Eh? What? You had a friend?” “Surprised, huh?” I replied to my mother, who had rudely widened her eyes, with a composed smile. “It might not look like it, but I have friends, like a Pervert, a perverted Maid, a sullen perverted black-haired cool beauty, a F-cup erotic girl or other strange fellows.” “…I’m quite worried about your social intercourse, but what did that friend ask you of? I don’t want any favours like your dad’s, who brought a suspicious foreigner over with the words ‘Hide him for a while’. It’s too much of a pain…” “Well, I’m more worried about dad’s social intercourse. This isn’t such a heavy favour. From tomorrow on he just wants me to look after his dog for a while… is that okay?” “Of course it is.” Regardless of the suddenness of the topic, my mother smiling gave the okay without hesitation. Well, in a way, I already predicted this outcome. Surprisingly enough, my mother loved animals. When I picked up a kitten in the past, she also allowed me to keep it without any opposition. That cat was now away with dad on his business trip, but I wondered if it was doing well. Divagating into thoughts about our cat, I cheeked upon the reactions of the others. Upon that, no one seemed to be opposed to it. The girls were all smiling and specially Nazuna had sparkles in her eyes while she raised her hand full of energy. “Brother, Brother, can I touch the puppy’s nose when it’s here?” “…If he allows it.” However, why did she want to touch it’s nose? I tilted my head doubtful, whereupon Elni remembering said “Reminds me”. “I heard that a dog’s nose is quite wet and when it becomes dry, the dog has a cold.” “Hee, is that so.” Giving an agreeable response, I softly touched Elni’s well-shaped nose tip. “….Mhm, it’s dry. Elni, you have a cold?” “Ohh, no wonder that your face looks so weird then, Shinobu.” “Now you have said it.” While replying so, I lightly poked Elni’s nose. There Nazuna frowned lightly and gave a light warning. “Geez, Brother, that’s rude. Even El-chan will get angry if you treat her like an animal. Right, El-chan?” “…Eh? Ah, yeah. E- Even I’ll get angry! Bark, Bark!” Most likely she herself wasn’t bothered at all by it. Elni started to howl at me with a kind of forced expression. …Kind of cute. Inadvertently forming a smile, I petted Elni’s head and at the same time asked as a joke. “By the way, Elni, you’re technically handled as the Mad Dog here, but do you think you can get along with the dog?” “Tomorrow will be--- war!” “…El-chan is all pumped up for a fight.” Elni replied to Nazuna, who made a slightly worried expression, with a big nod. “Mad Dog vs. Puppy, an all-out war. A raid. Survival of the fittest! Graaar!” For some reason Elni started to threat. Watching over her, I asked wearily. “…Actually, do you have any chance of winning?” “None! Not the slightest! I don’t feel like I can win!” Elni grandly declared the pathetic. “Such a disgrace for the name of Mad Dog…” But well, Elni should be fine with the dog. I was also glad that I got my mother’s permission. I made a sigh of relief and called out to Luna as well, just in case. “Luna, are you fine with it? I remember that you were half in tears when the dog from Satou-san chased you some while ago.” “I, I was just surprised because it suddenly jumped at me. I am fine now.” Faintly flushing her cheeks, Luna threw out her big chest with confidence. “I get along quite well with Satou-san’s doggy now. I believe Tomoe-san advice about being stern with it helped. Lately, when it sees me, it shows it’s stomach right away.” …If I remembered correctly, dogs showed their stomach to show obedience or playfulness. However, that wild dog did it for Luna? It didn’t even do that for it’s owner. Just what did Luna do? Quite curious, I send my mother a glance. “….Luna-chan is surprisingly suited as a domina…” Okay, I was a bit scared, so I better didn’t ask. I closed my mouth and resumed my dinner. Incidentally, Machina used the computer after dinner to watch pictures of dogs on the internet for a long time with a smile, as she was really excited about the dog’s arrival… * * * The next day. Like he said on the phone yesterday, Asada came over in the morning. Reminded me, before the girls came here, Asada had visited to hang out a few times. Reminiscing over the past, I opened the front door after the chime rang, whereupon my vision fell onto a guy with a handsome face that hugged a puppy to his chest and was shouldering a big luggage over both his shoulders. It was the guy, who would be popular if he didn’t say anything, Asada Kouta. For starters, I let Asada into the house and shifted my gaze to the puppy. If I remembered correctly, it was a female with the name Momo. A small body, white fur with brown spots and adorable round eyes. Asada had told me over the phone yesterday that she was a crossbreed and apparently she was quite affectionate. When I reached out my hand, the puppy--- Momo wagged her tail and licked my finger. …What a cutie-pie. I felt my cheeks forming a smile, whereupon Asada placed the luggage onto the floor while opening his mouth. “Nanjou, this is the dog toilet. Then there is Momo’s food and some snacks. Also, her favourite toys. A manual for a troubled pet owner and…” Asada continued his listing with a serious expression, but suddenly closed his mouth and hugged onto Momo while trembling a bit. With tears in his eyes he shouted. “I’m worried after all, so I’m not going on the trip! I’ll live her together with Momo!” “I’m afraid, we don’t allow Perverts in our house. Hurry up and go on your trip. Otherwise I’ll scatter salt over your stupid face.” “No! Stop! If you do that, I’ll melt!” “…Are you a slug or what?” Retorting wearily, I pushed on Asada’s back. However, Asada was sick for worry about Momo. “Nanjou, don’t forget to feed her. Don’t forget to praise her as well when she’s behaving well. Also, when she’s barking sadly, call me. I’ll sing her a lullaby over the phone…” Displaying a perfect idiotic parent play like that, Asada left with a regretful expression. On the other hand, Momo was watching the front door, in spite of Asada having gone outside already. There I petted Momo’s head lightly, then called out to her softly. “Asada will be back soon. Come here.” I beckoned her lightly, whereupon Momo trotted over to me, albeit looking a bit worried. …Cats were like that as well, but dogs sure showed a lot of expressions. Actually, when you kept a pet, you just end up talking to dogs or cats on reflex. Such thoughts crossed my mind. “Oh, a dog!” A lively voice from above my head. When I faced it, there was Elni coming down the stairs with sparkles in her eyes. Showing a smile, she approached us and started to gently pet Momo’s head. “Ohh, her fur is so tufty!” Saying so, Elni then hugged Momo to her chest and spoke to her with “Woof, woof”. Upon that, Momo gave a small bark in return and Elni nodded understanding to it. It really looked like they were having a conversation. That made me smile a bit and I called out to Elni. “Hey Elni, what did she say?” “Yeah, she introduces herself to me with ’I’m Momo’. And she asked ’Where did Kouta-chan go?’.” “I see. Tell her that Kouta went on a trip… wait, hold it. I haven’t told you the dog’s name yet? How did you know it?” “Mh? I just said that Momo told me it.” “No, no. Momo told you? …You can understand a dog?” When I asked certainly surprised, Elni triumphantly puffed up her chest. “I’m a Goddess after all! Of course I can talk with animals! A dog once shared his food with me when I was hungry in the past!” “…You sure are going through a lot of troubles, even though you’re a Goddess.” Still, talking with animals, huh. It didn’t seem like Elni was lying or joking… She unexpectedly might be amazing after all. When I stared at her face, Elni tilted her head a bit. “What’s up, Shinobu? Something on my face?” “Yeah, eyes, ears and a mouth.” “…Technically I got a nose too.” “Ohh, it was so flat that I overlooked it. Sorry.” As a matter of fact, Elni’s nose wasn’t really flat. But, for some reason I lightly poked on Elni’s nose teasingly. Instantly, “Graaar!” As I made her angry, Elni bit onto my hand. However, it was just as hard as play-biting and didn’t hurt at all. For now, I apologized to Elni once more and shifted my gaze to Momo. With “That aside”, I changed the topic. “Where’s Machina?” Yesterday she looked like she could hardly wait for the dog’s arrival, but I yet had to see her this morning. When I asked a bit curious, Elni showed a wry smile and replied. “I think she’s still sleeping in her room. She really looked forward to the dog. It seems she had trouble falling asleep last night from the excitement.” “…She behaves like a kid on the weirdest things.” Hooked on by Elni, I also gave a wry smile and when you speak of the devil, she shows up. This time Machina came down the stairs. Machina rubbed her eyes drowsy. “Morning…” There she gave us a low-spirited morning greeting. Then she was about to head for the living room, but as soon as she noticed Momo, her sleepiness was blown away and she stopped with sparkles in her eyes. “O- Oh, it’s already here.” Happiness was mixed into her short sentence and my heart involuntarily skipped a beat on Machina’s smile. But I hid that fact and called out to Machina while petting Momo’s head. “She’s quite affectionate. Do you want to touch her as well, Machina?” “Yes, I would like to pet her head.” Nodding honestly on a rare occasion, Machina squatted down. Following, she reached out her hand for Momo and started to pet her head, but Momo quickly got away from Machina’s hand. “Grr.” Without changing her expression, she bit onto the hand. “…Oh my? You were so happy that you bit me? Geez, you’re so helpless--- wait, it actually hurts! Why do you bite me!? Stop it!” When Machina shouted hastily, Momo quickly got away from her and pampered snuggled up to Elni. “Ehm, Elni, why did Momo bite Machina?” I was perplexed at this unexpected turn of events, whereupon Elni started to talk with Momo again and then faced Machina with the same perplexed look as me. “Somehow, she wants you to stop, since it messes up her hairstyle.” No, but it didn’t bother her when I petted her. I retorted with that in my heart. “…I see. My way of petting was wrong. I’ll pay attention to that.” Surprisingly enough, Machina reflected on her action. Reaching out her hand for Momo once more, she petted her much more gentle than before. However, the result didn’t change at all. “Grr, Grr.” Momo bit on Machina’s hand, then faced Elni again while wagging her tail. While Machina was perfectly petrified, Elni talked to Momo in dog language, then said unfortunate. “…Momo said she hates Tsundere.” “Wh- What the!” As that really offended her, Machina stood up with attitude. “Fine! I also hate such a selfish dog! Nazuna or Elni are way cuter! Hmpf!” Facing sideways along with her words, Machina left with swift steps. Yeah, speaking sharply with teary eyes wasn’t convincing at all. Besides, Machina’s back looked really sad. For some reason, even I got sad. “…For all that, she was so excited.” Making a small sigh, I turned my gaze back to Momo. There Momo approached me while happily wagging her tail, but… she was quite picky, wasn’t she? What if she bit Luna and the others as well? Getting a bit worried, I took Momo and moved to the living room together with Elni… * * * In the end, my worry was unwarranted. For some reason Momo only hated Machina and got along well with Luna and the others. Even know she was happily playing with Luna and Nazuna in the living room. I joined them and tried to give her the orders “Sit” and “Paw”, whereupon Momo perfectly responded to it without confusion. Upon that, Luna smiled and petted Momo’s head praising. “You are so smart, Momo-chan.” “Yeah, she might be even smarter than Nazuna.” “Yeah, right.” “No, no! Object it! I wanted you to object it!” As Nazuna had affirmed it with a smile, I replied with that right away. But well, it was certain that Momo was clever. She properly used the toilet where I set it up and she basically listened to everything I said. “You really are smart.” There I also praised Momo, whereupon Elni, who was watching us from the sofa, suddenly stood up. And, in opposition to Momo, she jerkily pulled on my sleeve. “Shinobu! I’m also smart! An elite!” Mhm, while I knew it was rude, I didn’t believe that. To test it, I threw Elni a question. “Elni, 2x2=?” “Flying squirrel! Strong!” “What an energetic answer. 8x2=?” “Caution! It hurts when stabbed!” “Yeah. You’re right. 8x8=?” “Hiccup! Europe! Check-up!” “Oh, you made a rhyme. But you know, I’m afraid that isn’t right. There are even chimpanzee in the world that can multiply. Guess you’re stupid after all?” I dared to say so in a gentle tone, whereupon Elni nodded small. “I certainly might be stupid. But I have rap, so it’s fine! YO, YO! Not forgetting to rhyme, not forgetting before heading out.” “…Your rap isn’t really good either.” As such I talked with Elni while Nazuna held out her palm to Momo with a smile. “Momo-chan, give me your paw too.” So she requested, but Momo rested her chin on Nazuna’s palm and wagged her tail, as she wanted to play. “M, Mhm~ Momo-chan, not your chin, but your paw, you know? C’mon, paw.” Nazuna softly advised her, but Momo broke her sitting and started to lick Nazuna’s cheek. Upon that, Nazuna faced us with a smile, as she had given up. “Momo-chan isn't feeling well today.” “…Nazuna, try touching Momo’s nose. It’s wet without doubt. She’s perfectly healthy.” When I replied so half-wearily, Luna pressed her index finger against her cheek and opened her mouth. “It might be better to ask for it more sternly.” While saying so, Luna suddenly changed her tone. “---Momo-chan, sit!” Calmly with a smile, yet with an aura that didn’t allow disobeying, Luna ordered Momo. In that moment, Momo drooped her tail and sit down instantly. At the same time, Nazuna and Elni also sat down formally on the spot. Thoughtlessly I was about to sit down formally as well, but I returned to my senses and stopped. ---Luna-chan is surprisingly suited as a domina… Suddenly my mother’s words from yesterday floated in the back of my brain and I got the feeling that I somewhat understood them now. It might be, that our natural erotic big sister has a S side to her. Speaking of, previously when Luna drank alcohol by mistake, she erotically chased everyone in a drunken frenzy. It was quite likely that she had a S element. While such thoughts crossed my mind, Luna demanded “Paw” from Momo. Not just Momo, but also Nazuna and Elni held out their hands. “You are all great.” She must have thought of it as a joke. Luna petted Momo’s head, then she embraced the slightly trembling Nazuna and Elni with a smile. There I made a wry smile and felt a sudden glare on my back. …Who was it? Bothered, I took a peek behind me, there I noticed Machina sneaking a peek on our situation from the gap of the faintly opened living door room. She was looking at us with great envious and tears had dwelled up in her eyes. She must have really wanted to play with Momo as well. Machina slowly closed the door with her shoulders dropped dejected. When I closed my eyes and perked my ears, I could hear faint footsteps, so she most likely went back to her room. …Momo seemed happy with Luna and the others, so I should go play with Machina. I just couldn’t bear to see her like that. After asking the others to look after Momo, I headed to the room, which Machina and Elni shared. However, Machina wasn’t there and even when I looked for her throughout the house, I couldn’t find her. She might have gone out. …I would have tagged along, if she had invited me. Shrugging my shoulders, I scratched my head lightly and returned to my own room, but… somehow, there was someone on my bed. I couldn’t tell who it was, since the blanket was pulled all over the head. However, I had a hunch. Approaching the bed, I pulled away the blanket, whereupon my vision fell on long and pretty red hair. It was Machina after all. I hadn’t even considered that she could be in my room, so I overlooked it, so it surprised me to find her here. When I looked down on her, Machina had buried her face in my pillow and showed no particular reaction to the removal of the blanket. “…What are you doing here?” For starters, I called out to her. “Leave me alone.” Machina replied powerless with her head still buried in the pillow. Mh, if she really wanted to be left alone, she would have gone to her own room. I quietly sat down on the bed and gently petted Machina’s head. Then while I wordlessly continued to pet her head, Machina suddenly said isolated. “…Hey Shinobu, why am I being hated?” Raising her head from the pillow, Machina faced me with wet eyes. “Just what did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything bad, did I? What do you think, Shinobu?” “…Sorry, I don’t really understand dogs.” Since I had a pet cat, I was somewhat knowledgeable about them. However, I had no clues about dogs. So I couldn’t help Machina. But, suddenly I remembered and opened my mouth. “Reminds me, I heard that dogs have a strong sense of smell. Maybe, Momo doesn’t like your scent?” This had no basis and was just the thought of a complete amateur. To be honest, I just wanted to try saying it, but Machina seemed to take it seriously. Sniffing her own scent by snorting her nose faintly, she frowned a bit and tilted her head. “…I can’t really tell myself. Shinobu, sniff me for a bit.” “*sniff, sniff* Oh, it’s the smell of an altruistic Maid.” “Fufu, that’s correct, Master--- wait, what kind of smell is that! To begin with, you haven’t sniffed me at all! Do it properly, Shinobu! C’mon!” Along with her words, Machina got closer to me and pointed out her voluminous chest. …Ehm, she told me to sniff her, but what am I supposed to do? Involuntarily moving my gaze on the soft two breasts in front of my eyes, I shook my head to stop myself. I would without doubt be a pervert if I sniffed her while burying my face in her breasts. Actually, just the sniffing itself was already embarrassing and seemed impossible for me. I felt bad for Machina, but I had to refuse. “…Shinobu, you hate my scent?” Because I had been reluctant, Machina rocked her eyes in worry. …Now I couldn’t refuse her anymore. Left with no other choice, I reached out my hand for Machina’s hair. Following, I picked up her silky red hair with my hand and sniffed it while I felt my cheeks getting hot. “Yeah, a normal scent, I guess. I like it.” “Y- Yeah? Uhm, thanks, Shinobu…” Reddening her cheeks, Machina cast down her eyes. Personally, I thought that would be the end of it, but apparently it wouldn’t go like that. Machina said pleading with upturned eyes. “Well then Shinobu, now try to sniff my body scent.” Okay, let’s escape. That certainly was impossible. I stood up and turned my back to Machina. “Eh? Shinobu? What’s wrong so suddenly?” “I smell danger. Therefore, farewell.” Declaring rashly, I intended to escape right away, but “Wait a moment, Shinobu.” I was clung to by Machina from behind, so it failed. Machina pressed her elastic two breasts on my back while tightly clinging to me spoiled. “Geez, why are you running away? Take this serious, Shinobu. How is my scent? Do you like it?” “…It’s really exciting.” “Eh? Wh- What are you saying out of the blue? Is, Is it your usual joking?” No, because of the sweet fragrance, I just happened to carelessly speak out my mind. But it would be too embarrassing to expose that. To fool her, I played serious and said. “It’s not a joke, Machina. I’m really excited. To use a simile, I’m right in the middle between composure and zeal right now.” “G- Geez, Shinobu, you’re such a pervert… wait, hold it. Now that I think about it, isn’t that a normal condition?” “Indeed. Well, it’s a good scent nevertheless.” Cladding myself in composure, I readily got away from Machina. There Machina showed a slightly worried face, then returned to her serious expression and started to ponder with her arms crossed. “Mhm~ If my scent isn’t the problem, what’s the reason then?” Probably, the sense of smell was different for a human and a dog. However, I was just an amateur. I wouldn’t blunder this time. “Why don’t you ask Elni?” While making such a harmless suggestion, I took Machina’s arm. “It seems she can talk with dogs. I think she’s more knowledgeable about dogs than us. Let’s go talk to her for a bit.” “….Will it be alright to ask Elni?” “She’s the Mad Dog. The other day, my mother said ‘Today I want to eat a hot dog’ to Luna, whereupon Elni shouted ‘Tomoe-san is going to eat me!?’. I’m sure she knows a dog’s feelings well.” “Ehm, I’m only getting more worried after hearing this.” …That certainly might be so. At that time, Elni, who had made that messy foolery, was half in tears because my mother hat cut her allowance. Machina’s worry was understandable. Still, we two couldn’t settle this on our own. I pulled on Machina’s hand and moved to the living room. There Luna and Nazuna told me that Elni had returned to her own room, so we headed to her room, which she shared with Machina, and knocked on the door. “Elni, can I come in? It’s me, everyone’s idol, Shinobu-kun.” “…Are you really Shinobu? The Shinomun? I can’t really tell by your voice. Say the usual password if you want to come inside.” “---God is dead.” She said usual, but it was my first time hearing that a password was needed. I didn’t know it, so I gave a random reply, whereupon Elni raised a dissatisfied voice through the door. “Boo! Wrong! The Goddess isn’t dead. She loves you, so she won’t die! If the password doesn’t work, say something cool.” “Something cool? Okay, that’s my expertise.” Replying instantly, I combed back my hair. “The secret to my popularity? Just look at me! That’s the answer!” “Ahahahaha!” Upon hearing my words, Elni raised a rude laughter through the door. When I faced Machina standing besides me, she pressed her hand on her mouth while trembling her shoulders, as she was desperately trying to hold in a laughter. I felt my cheeks getting hot, then the door opened and Elni showed up with a smile. “Shinobu, that was funny, so you can come in. Also, I request another cool remark.” “---Black? That’s my colour!” Instantly, not just Elni, but also Machina started to laugh. …Didn’t it work because I was not handsome? Embracing a somewhat bitter feeling, I entered the room together with Machina and asked Elni right away. “We want to consult you, Elni. You can understand dogs, right? So could you think with us about why Momo only hates Machina?” “Mhm~” As she was going to help, Elni changed her expression into a serious one and crossed her arms. “This is just a hunch, but I think Momo is just behaving pampered with Machina.” “…Behaving pampered? She bit onto Machina with all her might, you know? Doesn’t she rather think of her as an enemy?” “That’s not true. If she really thought of her as an enemy, Momo would threat her with barks. Momo just might feel uneasy in a new environment. She’s still a puppy. I’m sure she thought her own wilfulness would be understood by Machina.” “…I see.” Even humans sometimes were wilful and troubled a mother or alike. This might be the same. I felt that idea to be convincing. When I nodded impressed, Elni continued “Therefore” with a smile. “I don’t think Momo hates Machina or anything. If her nervousness eases up, she should get along with Machina just fine. Well, it’s just a matter of time.” “…Just for reference, do you have an estimate on that time?” When Machina raised her hand and asked, Elni replied still smiling. “Not really. But I guess a week should work.” “I see. I can only be patient then--- wait, in a week Asada is already back! So in the end I can’t get along with Momo!? I don’t want that!” Drawing closer with teary eyes, Machina grabbed Elni’s shoulders. “Is there no other way? Please, Elni! Do something!” “..Y- You’re helpless, Machina.” Saying so in a weird tone, Elni searched inside the pocket off her hoodie. Following, she pulled out a tool like a certain cat robot. “A dog-ears headband!” “….What about it?” When I interjected wearily, Elni answered “fufu” with her still weird tone. “Good question, Shinobuta-kun. If you want to get along with Momo, you just have her accept you as a comrade. And the fastest way for that is with this. If you wear this and talk in dog language, Machina also will get along with dogs right away!” “Amazing, Elniemon! I’m surprised on this overhasty idea!” “Fufufu, I’m Goddemon after all.” To be honest, I believed that Elni was just making a foolery, but apparently Machina took her for serious. Taking the dog-ears from Elni, she instantly put them on without hesitation. A bit worried, she faced Elni. “How’s it? Will Momo accept me like this?” “Eh? Ah, yeah. Looks good. Don’t forget the dog language as well, okay?” When was the usual retorting coming? Is what Elni might have been hoping for, but it didn’t come true. Machina gave Elni a nod and tightly squeezed my hand. “Shinobu, come with me.” “…You forgot the dog language.” “Ehm, woof, woof!” N- Not good. So frigging cute. Like that I would forgive her anything. While my thought progress remarkable dropped, Machina sprinted out of the room, still holding my hand. And then “…H- Huh?” Hearing Elni’s bewildered voice from behind, as she was still waiting for the retort, I headed to the living room, still being dragged on my hand by Machina. Midway, I spotted Luna preparing lunch in the dining kitchen and Nazuna helping out with it. But, not calling out to them, Machina and I opened the door of the living room. Upon that, Momo was sun-bathing at the window and looked a bit sleepy. However, when she noticed me, she stood up and started to wag her tail.
“Hey, Machina— No, I mean, Momo, come here.”
“Hey, Shinobu? Why did you mistake my name with the dog’s? At least mistake it with Elni’s.”
“…What are you saying? Right now, you’re my dog. Where’s you usual ‘Master’ and ‘woof’?”
“I, I’m sorry, Master. I’m your pet dog. Woof, woof— wait, who are you calling a dog! If you want to own me, put a choker on my like with my sister! Buy me one as well next time!”
…She was angry, wasn’t she? Or was she happy? It was hard to tell without a tail.
Tilting my head in my heart, I lightly pushed Machina’s back.
“C’mon, Machina. Why don’t you try out Elni’s idea just in case?”
Machina was cute like this. It might work out. On my urging, Machina approached Momo with a slightly nervous face, got down and called out to Momo.
“Ehm, woof, woof. Woof, woof.”
…Aw, damn. Such a failure. Why didn’t I prepare a video camera?
I felt a strong regret in my heart, whereas Momo surprisingly— no, calling it surprisingly is rude. Momo wagged her tail and got closer to Machina.
Instantly, Machina smiled happily and reached out her hand with “Woof, woof”, but
Momo barked once seriously. She bit on the extended hand. And while Machina froze up with a smile, Momo passed by her with an indifferent face. As if nothing happened, she came over to me.
“…It was no good after all.”
The moment I uttered that carelessly,
“Hey, Shinobu! What you do mean after all!?”
Machina turned around with attitude and shouted with tears dwelling up in her eyes.
“Say so first if you already know the outcome! Why are you so mean to me!? Stupid Shinobu! Idiot! Shinobu‘s—”
When Machina badmouthed my mother with my interjection, my mother raised a low voice from behind, as who knew for how long she had stood there.
“…Machina-chan, what did you just say?”
“Eh? T- Tomoe-san? Uhm, you got it wrong! Just now, Shinobu added that, it wasn’t what I meant! Really! But I’m sorry!”
Machina apologized flustered, but my mother sharpened her look and replied.
“I don’t feel any sincerity in that. Properly apologize in dog language.”
“Okay, woof! Woof, woof— wait, how is dog language sincere!? Why are even you teasing me, Tomoe-san!”
As she was sulking, Machina puffed up her cheeks lightly. Seeing that, my mother smiled faintly, approached her and petted her head.
“You’re really cute, Machina-chan.”
While saying so, my mother moved her gaze to Momo.
“Hey, you can’t bite Machina-chan.”
Along with her words, she lightly clapped Momo’s head.
Instantly, Momo barked sadly and cast down her face dejected.
Upon that, Machina showed a sad expression for some reason and hastily made a follow up for Momo.
“Tomoe-san, Momo is still a puppy. You don’t have to be so harsh with her…”
“No. Dogs are animals that value hierarchy. At this rate, you’ll always be thought as someone lower as her, Machina-chan.”
“…Someone lower as her?”
When Machina asked back like a parrot, my mother explained properly.
“Apparently a dog can see through a house’s hierarchy. As it stands, she sees you as someone lower than Nazuna or Elni. I guess she thinks of you as a servant or something. You have to be more strident or she’ll look down on you.”
“Wh- What’s up, with that…”
As she was angry, Machina trembled her shoulders all over.
“Lower than Elni? A servant? That’s too much! If that’s how she thinks, I no longer want to get along with her!”
Facing sideways with teary eyes, Machina left with the dog-ears still on her head.
…I really couldn’t stand to watch this. Once Machina had calmed down, I should play with her for sure.
While I thought so, I called out to my mother a bit curious.
“Hey Mom, did you ever keep a dog?”
Judging by her earlier words, she seemed to be knowledgeable about dogs. And apparently my guess was right. On my words, my mother nodded while petting Momo’s head.
“In the past, we had four dogs at my parent’s house.”
“Four even? Impressive. Out of curiosity, what kind of dogs were it?”
“Dobermans. They looked scary, but were really cute.”
As she remembered about the dogs, my mother showed a smile. On the other hand, I felt a cold shiver on my spine.
…Ehm, the Doberman was a selective bred kind of dog for guarding, wasn’t it? I heard of that on TV or somewhere else, but why would they keep four of such dogs at home?
Reminded me, my mother seemed to have cut contact with her parents and I never met my grandfather on my mother’s side. I smelled some kind of danger from the current conversation.
I was a bit scared, so I decided to quickly change the topic.
“A- Anyway, it’s my first time hearing about a dog seeing through hierarchy. I guess, Momo considers you as the boss of the house after all, Mom.”
“…What are you saying, Shinobu? The boss is obviously Luna-sama.”
Mh? Somehow, my mother said something weird with a straight face.
“Uhm, Mother? What you mean with Luna-sama? That joke isn’t funny, you know?”
I replied with a casual tone, but my mother opened her mouth with somewhat distant eyes.
“…A while ago, I made Luna-chan drink alcohol as a prank. Fufu, then hell broke loose…”
Trembling lightly, my mother rested her hand on my shoulder and gave me a warning.
“Shinobu, Luna-chan actually becomes an affectionate S at night. Be careful.”
“…And how am I supposed to be careful of that?”
Even when I asked, my mother just gave me a vague smile and didn’t answer…
After that we ate Lunch, then I invited Machina and decided to play a game with her in the living room.
However, Nazuna and Elni were playing with Momo in the living room and Machina couldn’t help but be concerned with it. Even now she stole an envious glance at them.
In regards to that, the foolery guys didn’t notice it, as Nazuna was talking to Momo with a smile.
“Momo-chan, I’ll throw the toy, so go fetch it. There!”
When Nazuna threw the dog toy like she had said, Elni jumped up before Momo and caught it perfectly.
“Got it! I got it! Praise me, Nazucat!”
“Geez, El-chan, you can’t. El-chan, sit!”
Obeying the words, Elni sat down formally on the spot. Hooked on by that, Momo also sat down besides her. Seeing one human and one dog doing so,
“El-chan, Momo-chan, you’re great.”
Nazuna smiled and petted their heads.
Watching over that, I shrugged my shoulders wearily.
“Dogs sure have it easy. With just sitting down or giving paw, they get praised.”
Well, I wasn’t really envious though.
I added that in my heart, when Elni came over trotting, as she heard my voice.
For no apparent reason, she once again pulled a dog-ear headband out of her hoodie and placed it onto my head. Then she held up her palm to me with a smile.
“Shinomun Dog, paw.”
I had lot of things to say. But, for now I obeyed her order.
Upon that, Elni made a sparkling smile and started to pet my head. For some reason even Machina held out her palm to me with a smile.
“Shinomun, your paw for me as well.”
For a moment, I considered resting my chin on her palm like Momo had done it, but I felt sorry for her, so I didn’t do it. I properly shook Machina’s hand.
Instantly, Machina showed a bright smile and started to pet my hand after Elni.
“You’re so smart, Shinomun. Good boy, good boy.”
I wanted to mimic Nazuna and shout “Who’s bad!” right away.
However, I suppressed that impulse and accepted Machina’s action.
“Fufu, unlike Momo, you’re cute, Shinomun.”
Machina even rubbed her cheeks against mine with a smile as a result. Certainly getting embarrassed, I raised a low growl, warning her to “stop”.
There Machina tilted her head and faced Elni.
“Hey Elni, what did Shinomun say?”
“Yeah, he said ‘Call me a dog’.”
“What kind of M guy do you take me for! Like hell I would make such a rash remark! It‘s over now. Over, you hear!”
While retorting, I roughly removed the dog-ears.
But, Machina quickly snatched away the dog-ears from my hand and along with a bright smile, she put it onto my head again.
…There was the incident with Momo, so I should tag along for a while.
Making a small sigh, I kept playing Shinomun Dog as Machina desired, as I didn’t have a choice.
“Sh- Shinobu-san? What are you doing?”
As she finished cleaning up lunch, Luna showed up from the dining kitchen. As soon as she saw me, she widened her eyes and was somewhat perplexed.
For now, I sulky talked in dog language, whereupon Luna flushed her cheeks for some reason.
And she clung onto me spellbound.
In that moment, Machina started to cling to me with a smile as well, which made me become unable to suppress my embarrassment… Shinomun Dog returned to the usual cool guy after a few minutes.
* * *
It has been two days since Momo came to our house. Wanting to take Momo out for a stroll, I left my room and went down the stairs, whereupon I suddenly heard Machina’s scream.
“O- Ow! Why are you only biting me!? Stupid dog! Shinomun is way cuter!”
I leaned over the handrail of the stairs, whereupon my gaze fell on Momo, sitting in the hallway, and Machina’s hunched back.
…Ever since, Machina seemed to have tried to sneaking get along with Momo, but to no avail. Lately, she put the dog-ear headband on me quite often and treated me like a dog.
“—As you can see, because of you, I’m becoming quite tired.”
Approaching Momo, I said so, but she just wagged her tail happily.
“…You don’t get it at all. Well, whatever. Anyway, what about my clothes? Do they suit me?”
As such I sought an impression, but obviously Momo didn’t show a particular reaction.
“Yeah, no way that someone, who wears fur even in summer, would have a fashion sense.”
While saying so, I headed for the front door and took the dog lead for the stroll.
Instantly, Momo wagged her tail wildly, as she understood that it was time for a stroll by just that, and circled around me.
“…Here a stroll ends with three steps. Would you get angry if I said that?”
I made some stupid monologue, when the door of the living room opened and Luna showed up. When she noticed Momo and me, she came over with a smile.
“Shinobu-san, if you are going on a stroll, can I come along as well?”
“Yeah, sure. Actually, I’ll take you on a stroll.”
Suddenly getting a prankish urge, I attached the lead on Luna’s choker as a joke. …Oh, you could really attach a lead to this choker. I was a bit surprised, whereas Luna titled her head puzzled, then
She suddenly raised a cute bark for whatever reason and clung to me playful.
Her voluminous two breasts pressed onto my body and her sweet fragrance abashed my heart while her warm body temperature tempted my reasoning.
I, I didn’t expect this reaction. I thought for sure that she would reprimand me, but Luna raised a “Woof, woof” voice once more in a happy mood.
“Uh- Uhm, Luna-san?”
“I am not Luna-san. Right now I am your doggy. Please order me anything.”
…How did it turn out like this? I wished she would refrain from saying such things. I was desperately trying to keep my reasoning here.
I mentally buried my head in my hands, whereas Luna, unaware of my feelings, said pampered.
“Shinobu-san, please hurry up and give me an order. If you do not, I will lick your ear. Also, I will stay like this.”
“Ehm, well, then that?”
“Mh? That? What you mean that?”
…Yeah, time out for a minute. I was afraid that the earlier remark was not an imitation by someone. Without doubt that word came out of my own mouth.
E- Even stupidity had a limit. Just how cracked was my reasoning? Luna had to be astonished for sure.
“Ehm, Shinobu-san, could you crouch down for a bit?”
Not giving it too much thought, I obeyed her words reflexive.
But, that wasn’t good. Luna hesitated for a bit, then twined her arms around the back of my head and pulled me closer, leading me into her big breasts.
As a result, my face got buried into Luna’s voluminous breasts.
“H- How is it, Shinobu-san? These are boobies.”
“Does it feel good?”
I knew I had to get away right away, However, Luna’s soft and elastic breasts just felt too good that I didn’t move at all.
I would like to stay like this forever… wait, was my reasoning that fragile?
I was surprised myself. However, it really was about time to get away from Luna.
Somehow, Momo was coiling around my feet for a while now, so I should take her on the stroll already.
Such thoughts crossed my mind, when I suddenly heard the front door opening and Nazuna’s energetic voice reached my ears.
“I’m home! What’s for dinner…”
Nazuna spoke humming, but as she saw us, she stopped midway in her sentence and raised a surprised voice.
“Wah! Wawah! S- Sorry! I bothered— wait, Uwah! Momo-chan, stop!”
Mh? What was up with Momo? Did something happen?
Spurred on my worry, I swiftly got away from Luna, whereupon I saw Momo’s back, as she had jumped out of the front door into the garden. Following, a surprised “Uwah!” voice was raised outside.
When I hastily got outside, the house gate was open, as Elni returned just now as well, and Momo used that chance to slip by, running outside with attitude.
Seeing that, Elni changed her expression into a pale one.
“Wh- Where are you going, Momo! I don’t really get it, but I admit it was my fault! Come baaaaack!”
Elni chased after Momo, like one would chase a runaway wife. Right away, Nazuna, Luna and I followed as well, but even though she was still a kid, a dog certainly was fast.
When we reached a corner, Nazuna and I, who had been the vanguard, had lost sight of Momo. …This was quite bad. Nazuna and I stood there dumbfounded, whereas Luna and Elni, who caught up with us, dropped her shoulders, as they guessed the situation.
Amidst that, Nazuna said worried with tears dwelling up in her eyes.
“What now? Momo-chan might get lost.”
“No, don’t worry about that, Nazucat. Dogs have a homing instinct. Even from far away, they find their way back home. But…”
Midway in her sentence, Elni dropped her gaze and continued hesitant.
“A lot of cars are driving by here, so we have to find her quickly.”
…Indeed. The possibility for a traffic accident existed. Most likely everyone understood Elni’s words. Nazuna turned a bit pale and Luna opened her mouth with a serious expression.
“Momo-chan might still be nearby. Let us split up and search for her.”
Replying to Luna with a firm nod, I called out to the others while turning around.
“I’ll go check if Momo has gone back to the house. Call me if there’s anything.”
Also, if Momo wasn’t home, I should get Machina to help searching as well. I sprinted back home, searching for Momo.
But, without finding her, I reached the house.
I dropped my shoulders lightly, then I headed for Machina and Elní’s shared room and knocked on the door to ask her for help.
Upon that, Machina showed up from the room right away and smiled a bit upon recognizing me.
“What’s up, Shinobu? You want to play together again?”
Machina pulled out the dog-ear headband in a good mood. Usually I would have retorted here, but it wasn’t the time for that. I asked Machina with a serious tone.
“Machina, Momo ran away. We’re all looking for her separately now, but will you help as well?”
“Eh? Run away… Why?”
“I’ll explain that later. For now, come with me. If Momo happens to get into a traffic incident—”
“H- Hey! Don’t jinx it! Stupid Shinobu!”
As she pictured the worst case, Machina changed her expression into a pale one and tears dwelled up in her eyes. Then she passed by me and went down the stairs with attitude.
“…H- Hey, wait a sec.”
Hastily turning around, I chased after her, whereupon Machina sprinted outside through of the front door in a heartbeat, looking for Momo on her own.
…Even though Momo had been biting on her so often. She was really kind.
While feeling my heart get warm, I told my mother the circumstances as well and asked her to call me on my cell phone if Momo should come home….
After that, I once more left the house and started to look around, but I couldn’t find Momo anywhere. My mother hadn’t called me either, so she didn’t come back home.
Earlier Elni had said that dogs have a homing instinct, but was that really true… Mh? Wait a moment. Maybe, for Momo the home wasn’t our house, but Asada’s?
Suddenly thinking of that, I headed for Asada’s house to verify it.
On the way, my vision suddenly fell on a large dog at the crossroad.
Did it get separated from it’s owner? The dog wore a chocker with a lead still attached to it and when I casually followed his gaze, there was Momo.
Momo was hiding behind a telephone pole and trembled all over with her tail drooped, as she was completely terrified.
On the other hand, the big dog happily wagged it’s tail and slowly approached Momo.
From what I could tell, it didn’t look dangerous, but I should intervene anyway. After all, I finally found her. It would be troubling if Momo were to run away again.
Such thoughts crossed my mind, when suddenly footsteps sounded.
“Hey you, what are you doing?”
Machina showed up with kind of heavy breathing and called out to the big dog.
As she didn’t notice me, she swiftly approached Momo and softly reached out her hand, embracing Momo just like that.
Upon that, Momo showed no real resistance, as she must have been really scared, and still trembled in Machina’s arms. And the big dog, as it wanted them to play with it, wagged it’s tail even more and approached them, whereas Machina showed a wry smile and responded.
“Geez, she’s still a kid, so don’t scare her.”
Machina advised softly, but the big dog didn’t seem to listen. Snuggling up to Machina’s long legs, it continued to wag it’s tail.
“…Quite cute, aren’t you. Your fur is all tufty as well. Fufu, woof, woof.”
Smiling happily, Machina started to pet the big dog’s head with one hand while holding Momo against her chest. Mh, Machina seemed to have fun, but Momo was certainly scared of the big dog. Being close to the big dog made her trembling even worse.
But well, that settled the incident. Maybe, Machina and Momo might get along now due to this incident.
Holding this impression, I pulled out my cell phone to call Elni and the others, but
“Unlike Momo, you’re so obedient. And you’re cuter than Momo.”
It was in the moment when Machina said so to the big dog with a smile.
“Mh? Oh my? Momo, you want to play— wait, why are you biting me again! Just what are you displeased with!?”
Bitten by Momo, Machina raised a sad voice.
…Judging by this, it still might take some time for them to get along. I shrugged my shoulders a bit and operating my cell phone, I called Elni and the others.
By the way, afterwards the big dog was found by it’s owner and went back home and Momo stayed in Machina’s arms until we got back to our house, in spite of her biting onto Machina…
* * *
That night, I made a small sigh in my room.
These days, as she was hated by Momo, Machina often came to my room.
However, this hadn’t come tonight and it was quiet in my room.
Thanks to that I could leisurely read the report that Sougo-san wrote for me, but for some reason I got a bit lonely before going to bed.
…I should talk to Luna for a bit before going to bed. I was sure that she would chat with me with a smile. I stood up and headed for Luna’s room, but when I knocked on the door, there was no reply. Seemed like Luna was already asleep.
“I, I’m not lonely or anything!”
…Acting Tsundere all by myself was just vainly.
Sleep then. I moved to the dining kitchen and drunk some tea, then I wanted to return to my own room, but I suddenly noticed that the lights in the living rooms were on.
A bit curious, I opened the accordion curtain of the dining kitchen and went into the living room.
There my eyes fell on Machina, sitting on the sofa in the living room. On her laps was Momo, who was sleeping by emitting small sleeping sound while resting her chin on Machina’s lap.
“…You’re still here?”
She might have been here ever since she got out of the bath. When I asked a bit surprised, Machina nodded with a small smile.
“Because she’ll be all alone when I return to my room.”
“No, I think she’ll be fine alone at night.”
Putting herself aside and replying so, Machina then cast her eyes down and changed the topic.
“…Hey Shinobu, she bites me, but she’s behaving in front of you guys, right?”
“Yeah, she is. Unlike her owner, she’s smart.”
When I affirmed with a nod, Machina a somewhat sad expression and opened her mouth.
“Why do you think such a well-behaving girl ran away?”
“…Sorry. I really don’t know anything about dogs.”
I answered truthfully, whereas Machina faintly dropped her voice and told me.
“I heard it from Elni that this girl thought ‘I might be abandoned again’. So she run out of the house and looked for Asada.”
…I see. Reminded me, Momo was picked up.
Maybe, she was sad from being abandoned by her original owner. Continuing to wait in the rain for her owner that wouldn’t come… How hard must have that been. Amidst that, Asada had reached out for her. She must have felt incredible happy.
Asada was treating her, an unwanted and abandoned dog, as a precious family member.
There might be no better happiness than that for Momo.
“…I’m sure, she loves Asada very much. So she was constantly worried. It’s really lonely not having your beloved person by your side.”
While saying so, Machina gently petted Momo’s head.
Upon that, Momo faintly opened her eyes, as she had woken up, then bit onto Machina’s hand like always.
However, Machina didn’t really say anything and continued to pet Momo’s head with her other hand.
Instantly, Momo let go off Machina’s hand and licked it, then closed her eyes once more, falling asleep on Machina’s lap.
While watching that, Machina said softly.
“It’s reassuring for her to have someone by her side when she wakes up, so I’ll stay by her side at night.”
Making a short agreeable response, I softly sat down besides Machina.
“Mh? Shinobu? What’s up?”
“Aren’t you bored by yourself? Actually, I’m bored right now. Will you talk a bit with me?”
I petted her head along with my words, whereas Machina faintly flushed her cheeks and looked down. She said isolated with a small voice.
“…If you can act nice like this, then treat me nicer normally too…”
I didn’t quite understand what Machina said, but not paying it too much mind, I started to talk with her then…
* * *
Afterwards, Momo still bit onto Machina, but she always followed her around and hovered over her.
On the other hand, Machina accepted that pleased and went on strolls or took baths together with her. She was smitten by Momo. Even now she was playing with her in the living room.
Luna and I watched over that with a smile, but Elni, who sat on the sofa just like us, sulky puffed up her cheeks a bit.
“Recently, Momo only plays with Machina. I also want to touch Momo.”
“I understand your feelings, but make do with Luna.”
I tried to crack a joke, but Luna didn’t seem offended at all and clung onto Elni with “Woof, woof” and a smile.
But, Elni lightly patted Luna’s head, then made a small sigh.
“I knew it, the real one is better.”
“I was cast away!”
“Ohh, poor girl.”
To comfort her, I petted Luna’s head this time, whereupon I suddenly got an idea. I asked Elni half-prankish.
“Hey Elni, could it be, you’re actually lonely because you can’t play with Machina?”
“…It was that obvious?”
Elni admitted it readily.
“You sure are honest. Wanna play with me if you’re sad?”
“Yeah, play with Shinomun!”
Nodding with a smile, Elni pulled out the dog-ears headband from the pocket of her hoodie and held it out to me.
For now, I took it and softly placed it onto Luna’s head.
“Oh, really cute.”
If Luna were to wear maid clothes now, she would be the greatest dog-eared maid.
Such stupid thoughts crossed my mind, when Luna blushed and grabbed the sleeve of my clothes.
“…Shinobu-san, are you going to order me again?”
In that moment, I escaped from living room right away…
Incidentally, on the day when Asada came back from his trip and we had to part with Momo, I thought for sure that Machina would cry, but she behaved surprisingly composed, just saying “See you”.
However that night, Machina came into my bed, as she was indeed lonely, and continued to cry for a long time, not leaving my bed…
Chapter 04: 16th September
—I love you.
These were the words she always wanted to hear from someone.
* * *
“…Recently, everyone is acting strange.”
A bench in the park. Luna, sitting besides me, dropped her gaze and said depressed.
“How should I say, they are acting distant. At times they all come together and seem to secretly discuss something. Even if I want to join them, they ran away as soon as they see me. Why is that? Do you know something, Shinobu-san?”
“…The sky, sure is blue.”
“Wh- Why are you trying to brush it away? If I made everyone unknowingly angry, then I want to apologize properly. Please tell me if you know anything!”
Luna shook both my shoulders greatly with teary eyes, whereas I, aware of the circumstances, somehow managed to keep my mouth shout, as I wasn’t allowed to speak about it.
I had to endure this for the surprise later on.
After all, for that very day we advanced our preparations very carefully…
* * *
It all started from an incident on a certain morning.
It was a kind of languid Monday morning after summer vacation with school resuming.
Before going to school, Luna, Machina, Elni and Nazuna watched TV in the living room. Apparently they were checking their horoscopes and amidst that, Machina lightly dropped her shoulders.
“…Today, I have the worst luck.”
“Machina, don’t pay too much mind to horoscopes. I basically have good luck every day, but only at times of best luck, I drop my wallet or get stung by a bee.”
“For a Goddess, doesn’t that mean you’re cursed?”
“Th- That’s not true! My life is just set to very hard! For that I get better items!”
Elni had a doubtful distinction between reality and a game. Petting her head softly, Machina said with an unusual gentle voice.
“Elni, you’re playing too much games lately. I get that the game you borrowed from Miichan is fun, but if you’re lonely, I’ll play with you, okay? Shall we go somewhere on the next holiday?”
“Nope. Because Shinobi will take me to the Tsundere Cafè next time.”
“T- Tsundere Cafè? What the, take me as well— wait, no! I was so kind to invite you! What’s with that attitude! Why are you so cold! Play with me too!”
…Apparently, not Elni, but Machina was the lonely one.
Mh, I should free some time to play with Machina as well.
Such thoughts crossed my mind, when Nazuna moved her gaze from the TV and faced Luna with a smile.
“Hey, Luna-oneechan, how was your luck?”
“Ehm, I… I do not know.”
“Mhh? You didn’t find your own zodiac sign? Then should I tell you? I remembered them all. What’s your sign, Luna-oneechan?”
“…I, wonder which?”
A bit troubled, Luna smiled with the ends of her eyebrows lowered. Seeing her like this, Nazuna tilted her head puzzled and Machina opened her mouth timidly.
“You know, Nazuna, Sister has—”
“Okay you two, we have to go now. Are you ready?”
Cutting into Machina’s words by interjecting, I urged the two of them.
Upon that, Machina made a face like she wanted to say something, but closed her mouth in the end, grabbed her bag and came over to me.
Nazuna on the other hand stared at Luna, then took her bag like Machina and came running over to me.
…I wasn’t really sure as to why I stopped Machina’s sentence. I merely might not have wanted to see a sad expression on Luna’s face.
When she came to send us off, Luna showed her usual smile, but it was unthinkable that she was unaffected about earlier. Nazuna seemed to have noticed something from the atmosphere as well, as midway on the way to school, she was unusual quiet, then suddenly stopped. Pulling on my sleeve, she asked with a small voice.
“…Brother, Machina-chan, could it be, Luna-oneechan doesn’t know when her birthday is?”
“Yeah, seems so.”
Luna was abandoned as a baby by her mother on a night with a full moon.
The villagers didn’t think well of Luna, “The whore ran for it, leaving her troublesome kid behind”, and she was bullied all the time.
It could be that no one ever celebrated her birthday with her. When I thought of that, my chest hurt incredibly.
Nazuna surely must have felt the same as me. Casting her eyes down and looking down, she squeezed out her words.
“…That’s no good. Not having a birthday is… just sad…”
When Nazuna said so, Machina comfortingly petted her head.
“Nazuna, as you know, Sister is a devil. Devils live far longer than humans, so they don’t celebrate their own birthday. To begin with, most devils don’t even know their birthdays. So you shouldn’t worry about it.”
“…You also, never celebrated your birthday, Machina-chan?”
On that question, Machina stopped petting Nazuna’s head.
“I properly celebrated it, since my mother was human. My father, a devil, didn’t know his birthday, but my mother gave him one. She baked a big cake on that day…. It was fun every year.”
Machina smiled with a somewhat sad expression that was nostalgic, yet regretful over something currently absent.
Upon that, Nazuna raised her head after listening to it and faced me.
Looking at Nazuna’s face, it was more than obvious what she wanted to say. She probably thought of the same as me. I gave a small nod.
“We’ll be mimicking Machina’s mom, but let’s give Luna a birthday as well.”
When I proposed so, Nazuna nodded with a smile, but for some reason Machina widened her eyes and then tightly bit on her lips, averting her gaze just like that.
“…What’s up, Machina? You’re against to it?”
“No, quite the opposite. I think it’s great.”
Shaking her head lightly, Machina dropped her voice and continued.
“I was just thinking a bit. You both are amazing…”
What did she mean? A bit curious, I pondered about the meaning behind her words, whereupon
“—I allowed myself to listen to the whole story, Shinobu-sama.”
I was suddenly called out from behind and when I turned around in surprise, there was a Maid peeking out from behind a telephone pole. It was without doubt Kaorun.
“…What are you doing there? Are you bored?”
“Yes. That is correct. So I was stalking you, Shinobu-sama, to dawdle away. Same goes for Hijiri-chan.”
“It, It’s not the same for me!”
Along with her words, Hijiri peeked out her head from behind Kaorun with attitude.
“I was at a loss about how to call out to you, Shinobu-kun, so Kaoru-san told me to cling to you from behind and ask ‘Guess who!’. I was just waiting for the right timing!”
Denying with a bright red face, Hijiri then continued with a “Anyway”.
“I feel bad about eavesdropping, but you’re holding a birthday party for Luna-san, right? If so, can we help out? You know, the more the merrier.”
“Well, sounds good, but I was going to invite you guys anyway…Are you sure?”
“Of course. Luna-san might be my rival, but she’s a precious friend. I also want to participate in it.”
“I am of the same opinion as Hijiri-chan. Luna-sama might be my rival, but she is a fellow perverted maid. It is only natural to celebrate for a comrade.”
…I understood that Luna had a lot of rivals, but
“You’re the only perverted maid.”
I retorted with that to Kaorun, then made a suggestion while walking to school with them.
“Since we’re doing it, let’s make it a surprise party.”
“Yeah, sounds good. Let’s surprise Luna-oneechan.”
When Nazuna agreed with me, Kaorun showed a smile and opened her mouth.
“Well then, how about we hold a meeting after school today? There are a lot of things to discuss…”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea, but… don’t you have any work to do? You technically are a maid, right?”
“Do not worry. With my special older sister privilege, I loaded it onto the young master. No problems.”
…As always, she treated Hijiri’s younger brother so cruelly. Actually, could she really push the work on him? A bit worried, I faced Hijiri.
“Hey Hijiri, Kaorun said that, but is it really okay?”
“Yeah. I’m sure he’ll understand if we explain the circumstances. Besides, he obediently listened to anything that Kaoru-san tells him. Though he rarely listens to my requests.”
“…Is that so?”
When I asked a bit curious, Hijiri gave a small nod and dropped her voice.
“When he got into 6th grade, he stopped taking baths with me… And lately when I embrace him or pat his head, he runs away annoyed. He might be in his rebellious age.”
“No, no, please understand the boy’s delicate heart in puberty.”
Most likely, her brother was just bashful…We got a bit off-topic.
I opened my mouth to get back on the topic and while heading for school, we all discussed various things regarding Luna’s birthday…
* * *
With classes over, it was after school. After explaining things to Elni in a mail, we decided to have a meeting. The topic was of course Luna’s birthday party. The meeting was held… in my room for some reason.
I didn’t really know how it come to this. Before I noticed it, Hijiri, Machina, Kaorun, Nazuna and Elni had gathered in my room, which made it rather cramped.
Keeping in mind that we should hold future meeting at Hijiri’s house, I faced the girls.
Hijiri was sitting on my bed with her cheeks faintly flushed and restlessly looked around my room. Sitting besides Hijiri, Machina was hugging my pillow to her chest in a kind of good mood. Nazuna sat formally on a seat cushion with a serious expression and Elni also had a serious expression while she… sat in my lap like it was natural.
And Kaorun, entrusted with the role as chairwoman, had leaned a small white board, wherever she got it from, against the wall and while holding a pen in one hand, she opened her mouth.
“The first agenda is about the day itself for the birthday. A holiday would certainly be the best. It should either be this week’s Saturday or next week’s. As for the decorations for the party, please leave that to Hijiri-chan and myself. I will entrust the cake matter to the rest of you. What could prove to be a problem is…”
As the meeting was progressing as such, suddenly there was a knock on the door and Luna showed up.
Instantly, Kaorun hastily turned around the white board and everyone started to look at Luna in a restless state.
Amidst that, Luna tilted her head bewildered and came into the room. She was holding a try with drinks.
“Ehm, I brought you some tea, so if you like, please drink some.”
Luna placed the tea on the table and then asked with a smile.
“What are you all talking about? Can I join in as well?”
On that request, everyone avoided her gaze at once and I as well was troubled for an answer.
There Kaorun, as a representative for everyone, opened her mouth.
“Luna-sama, my apologies, but we are discussing something important. Please take your leave.”
“…Am I, a bother?”
“No, that is not really the case and it is rather troubling if you make such a teary expression…”
“…It is fine. I am sorry for asking the impossible.”
“Ahh! Please wait! Ehm, please look at this, Luna-sama! It is a live picture of Shinobu-sama changing!”
Saying something outrageous, Kaorun pulled out a kind of picture from her pocket, whereupon Luna turned bright red and took it with both hands.
From my point, I couldn’t see the picture, but when did she take a peeping shot of me changing?
I was taken aback a bit, when Kaorun confidently puffed up her well-formed chest.
“It took quite the effort, since Shinobu-sama is sensitive to presences— wait, Luna-sama, please do not casually put the picture into your pocket. That pictures costs a lot, you know? Also, I have pictures of Shinobu-sama sleeping or cross-dressing… What will it be?”
“All of them, please!”
“…Uhm, handing me your wallet actually troubles me. The price was meant as a joke. I will give that picture to you, Luna-sama, so please return to your room now and do perverted things to yourself while thinking of Shinobu-sama like always.”
“Like always…. I am not that perverted! I only do it at times!”
“Sh- Shinobu-sama, Luna-sama just made an unbelievable coming out!”
While covering both of Nazuna’s ears with my hands, I pretended not to listen.
There Kaorun shifted her gaze back to Luna and said teasingly.
“Luna-sama is indeed the natural erotic big sister. I am certain that you lick these big breasts of yours and comfort your burning hot body. Such a perverted person!”
“I, I am not doing such things, probably.”
“…Sounds suspicious. Please let me touch your breasts for a bit.”
“How does it come to that!? Ah, Kaoru-san, please stop… Yahn… Uhn… No… Yahn!”
Her breasts fondled by Kaorun, Luna hastily covered her breasts with both her arms, turned around and left.
There Kaorun chased after her with a somewhat happy expression… Soon enough Luna’s erotic voice sounded even back to my room.
After a while, Luna’s sweet voice stopped short and Kaorun came back to the room in a lively fashion. She had strangely nice smile, so I asked her for now.
“…Actually, you quite like Luna, right?”
“Y- Yo- You are mistaken! It is only ordinary! Any at rate, when we all assemble at one place, Luna-sama might grow suspicious. Hijiri-chan, Machina and Nazuna-sama, please head down into the living room play some game inconspicuous. We others will continue with the meeting in the meantime.”
On Kaorun’s words, Nazuna saluted with a “Meow!”. Then she tightly grabbed Hijiri’s hand.
“Let’s go, Gogyou-san. I have a game about cats.”
When Hijiri nodded with a smile, Nazuna reached out her hand for Machina.
“You come as well, Machina-chan.”
Replying shortly, Machina took Nazuna’s hand. However, Machina might actually have wanted to attend the meeting. She faced us with a little regretful expression, then left the room together with Nazuna and Hijiri.
As a result, the remaining members were Elni, Kaorun and me.
Okay, we should settle things as far as we could with these members.
Was what I thought, but
“….Huh? Isn’t this member constellation the worst?”
Suddenly realizing it, I said so.
For a moment, Elni and Kaorun both puffed up their cheeks a little and each of them said dissatisfied.
“That’s rude, Shinobu! Just what about me are you discontent with?”
“It is as Elni-sama says! Just what is so wrong about us?”
“Well, Elni is a bit of an idiot, Kaorun is a bit of a pervert and I’m just too cool. I get the feeling we won’t achieve any decent results with that line-up.”
When I replied so, for some reason Elni acknowledged it with a “Certainly” and even Kaorun affirmed it with an “Indeed”.
However, Kaorun suddenly changed her tone into a serious one and opened her mouth with “Nevertheless”.
“I already anticipated to a certain extent that the meeting would fail, just by the fact that we were gathering in your room, Shinobu-sama. As long as Luna-sama remains in the house, she will be wary of our secret conversation…”
“Well, if you already knew it, then don’t come to my room to begin with.”
“Now, now, Shinobu-sama. We have plenty of time, so let us not rush. Hijiri-chan also seemed keen on seeing your room, so please let her sleep in your bed later on. I am certain that she will be pleased.”
“….What did you guys even came here for?”
I retorted while shrugging my shoulders, then we resumed the meeting to decided at least on things we could.
Upon that, we discussed stuff like the day for the birthday or the schedule of the day surprisingly smooth.
But, one problem arose in our discussion and we all crossed our arms and started to pondered with our mouth closed.
Speaking of birthday meant a birthday cake and presents.
The former wasn’t all that hard to prepare, but the latter was a problem.
First we had planned that each of us buys an own present, but it was a first birthday for Luna, so we thought that we should use the opportunity and buy another present from all of us together, apart from our personal presents. We hadn’t any ideas for it though.
We considered that a birthday song or the birthday cake itself could be a present from us, but in the end we dismissed it as unsuited.
After that a lot of ideas were proposed, but repeatedly dismissed, which kind of derailed our discussion and Elni and Kaorun started to say nonsense, as they had grown tired.
“Shinobu, we should just gift Luna romantic.”
“Yeah, you know, we’re just thinking about how that the exact shape of that romantic.”
“Well then, Shinobu-sama, will it not be alright to just give Luna-sama yourself as a present? Like the cliché ’The present is m.y.s.e.l.f’. It might feel a bit cheap, but should prove best in this case.”
“Like hell it is! Rejected, totally! Besides, calling it cheap is rude!”
Giving the xth dismissal, I made a big sigh in my heart, whereupon Kaorun clapped her hands for no apparent reason.
“Shinobu-sama, I have a great idea. How about giving her a few touching words?”
“That’s it, Kaorun!”
On Kaorun’s words, Elni sparkled her eyes on the brilliant idea for some reason.
“I’m sure Luna will be happy if Shinobu presents her with some wonderful words!”
“…Wonderful words? Like what?”
When I put my retort on hold and asked, Elni put her hand onto her chin and after pondering for a bit, she answered.
“Well, how about ‘You’re precious’? Shinobu, try it on Kaorun.”
For now I nodded and faced Kaorun.
“Well, I will not deny that.”
“…Yeah, I think you better deny it?”
Resuming my retorting, I said with a sigh.
“Hey, is it just me or do you guys have forgotten our aim? Why is the present suddenly only from me? Think about something we can do together. Also, why are you even fooling around more than necessary?”
Momentarily stopping my words, I raised my words and shouted.
“Even I want to fool around!”
“Ah, Shinobu finally spoke out his mind.”
“I believe he was envious of us.”
As Elni and Kaorun were right on the mark, I shut my mouth for a moment, then I stood up and declared with my back to them.
“…No use talking with you two. I’ll go ask Luna directly if there’s anything she wants.”
“Eh? What are you saying, Shinobu-sama? Is that the fooling around you spoke of?”
“If so, it’s hard to understand. We’re going to keep the party a secret from Luna until the day, right?”
“Don’t worry, I won’t let her find out. See you.”
Replying so to Kaorun and Elni, I left my room. Then I showed up in the kitchen, as I concluded to find Luna there preparing dinner at this time, which turned out to be right.
Luna wore the white and black dotted cow apron, which I gave her as a present a while ago, and that appearance soothed my heart.
…Luna was always cooking delicious food and took care of all the house chores. I properly wanted to celebrate her birthday with feelings of gratitude.
Okay, I should casually ask her about a present. First some chatting and then gradually getting to the main topic.
I approached Luna and called out to her softly.
“Hey Luna, what’s for dinner today?”
“Ah, Shinobu-san. I’m making croquettes today…Are you already done with your talking?”
Noticing me, Luna showed a smile, to which I also replied with a smile and nodded.
“Yeah, we’re done for today. Anyway, it’s been on my mind a bit, but what are you usually doing while I’m at school?”
“Eh? Most of the time I clean the house, help Tomoe-san with her job, play with Elni-chan or take a nap in your roo—*cough*!”
Midway in her sentence Luna coughed to brush it over.
Apparently she sometimes took a nap in my room, but I didn’t really mind. Elni slept in my bed before as well, so it wasn’t such a big deal. When I stayed quiet and waited for her to continue, Luna flushed a cheeks a bit and opened her mouth again.
“I am reading books as well.”
“Reminds me, you’re often reading gardening books, right? You have an interest in that?”
“Yes. A while ago Tomoe-san told me ‘You can use the garden as you want’, so I was planning to plant some flower seeds in the garden next time.”
Mhm, gardening, huh. Making a note in my heart, I questioned further.
“By the way, do you have any other interests besides gardening?”
“Well, I like the piano.”
“Piano? You can play a piano?”
“My motivation is greater than my skill, but I often played it when I stayed at the church.”
…I didn’t know that. Once more I made a note in my heart.
“While I’m at it, let me ask what your favourite food is. I guess gratin or omelette rice?”
“Yes, but I also quite liked the baumkuchen you bought for me before.”
“Hoohoo, likewise, any food you hate?”
“Mhm~ Nothing in particular.”
“I see, I see. What about your favourite type of man?”
“I like a kind person.”
Okay, I shall be kind from now on. A note with a double circle for importance.
“Well then, Luna, tell me your three sizes from the top on this occasion.”
“Ehm, 97 – 58 – 89… Mhh? I think I just thoughtlessly answered an incredible question….”
“Don’t fret it. Anyway, I’m going to take a picture now, so take off a layer of clothing.”
“Ah, yes, okay. I will take off my apron then…wait, no! Uhm, I am cooking right now, so, well, can it wait until later?”
“I don’t mind at all. Lastly, tell me if there’s anything you want.”
To be honest, ever since the surprising and honest answer about the three sized, I had been quite agitated. Luna probably had lost her head due to the incredible question.
Using this chance, I tried a direct approach, whereupon Luna put her index finger against her red cheek and pondered, then she suddenly faced me and turned even redder for some reason. Now she fidgeted both her index fingers against each other in front of her chest and answered with a small voice while staring at me.
“…Presently, I want a baby.”
Th- This couldn’t have been any further away from my predictions.
Inadvertently I snorted, but I should calm down for now. To hide my initiation, I played cool. I looked back into Luna’s eyes and opened my mouth.
“…Are you singing?”
“N- No! L- Luna! Th- The stork brings babies! S- So you just have to wait patiently.”
…Frankly, I couldn’t hide my agitation at all. For some reason I felt embarrassed.
I turned my back to Luna and opened the accordion curtain, moving to the living room in an escape.
There, in the living room were Hijiri and Nazuna.
The two of them didn’t seem to notice me, as Nazuna played a game like Kaorun had told them and Hijiri had embraced Nazuna from behind in a kind of spellbound state.
“Ahh, you really are so cute, Nazuna-chan…”
While saying so, Hijiri petted her head, whereupon Nazuna narrowed her eyes pleased and raised a “Meow, meow” voice while playing her game.
Amidst that, Hijiri hesitated a bit, then opened her mouth timidly.
“Uhm, Nazuna-chan, I have a favour to ask. If possible, could you call me with Oneechan, like you do with Luna-san?”
“…Eh? Really? If I change the way I call you, Gogyou-san, I’ll probably fawn over you a lot. Are you sure?”
Stopping her hand from gaming, Nazuna turned around, whereupon Hijiri gave back a big nod.
“I don’t mind if it’s from you. You can even think of me as an older sister. My real brother won’t fawn over me at all recently… B- Besides, in the future, well, I want to become your sister-in-law…”
For some reason, Hijiri lowered her voice midway in her sentence.
Nazuna, as she probably couldn’t hear it well just like me, tilted her head. But not all too bothered by it, she flushed her cheeks a bit and said while staring at Hijiri.
“….Could it be you’re just as shy as Shinobu-kun? I wish you wouldn’t fool around at a time like this…”
“Ah, no! I made a mistake!”
Hijiri dropped her shoulders. Nazuna panicked. I, an observer, desperately tried to suppress a laughter.
…Reminded me, Nazuna had the embarrassing experience of calling her teacher “Mom” by mistake.
When I wallowed in reminiscences, Nazuna lightly grabbed Hijiri’s sleeve and opened her mouth with upturned eyes.
“I’m sorry, Hijiri-oneechan.”
Instantly, Hijiri embraced Nazuna. Well, I could relate. Even if you ignored my favouritism for a relative, her behaviour was just cute.
Such thoughts crossed my mind, when I noticed that Machina wasn’t in the living room, so I approached the two and faced Nazuna.
“Hey, sorry to interrupt your flirting with Hijiri, but where did Machina go?”
“Ah, Brother. Machina-chan said ‘I’ll go get some fresh air’ and went out into the garden.”
While answering, Nazuna’s cheeks were rubbed by Hijiri’s in a happy mood. Hijiri on the other hand didn’t seem to listen to our conversation, as she was once again spellbound by embracing Nazuna.
…I felt bad for bothering them and was a bit concerned about Machina.
“I’ll go check on her.”
Telling the two of them shortly, I turned my back to them. Following, I opened the window of the living room and went outside, where Machina stood in the garden all by herself. In an absent-minded state, she watched the sunset.
“What are you doing here? Thinking about something?”
When I approached and call out to her, Machina looked at me, showed a wry smile and opened her mouth.
“…While everyone was discussing stuff for Sister, I kinda felt pathetic for myself. I thought about a lot of stuff…”
“Mh? Pathetic? What are you saying? You were seriously thinking up stuff as well, right? There’s no need to feel depressed.”
“That’s not it. I meant the birthday. I was with her all the time in the demon realm, yet I never did such a thing for her…”
Dropping her voice, Machina tightly clenched her small hand.
“I told you before, that I acted quite spoiled with her over a long time. Even though I knew that she was originally human and a kind of strange devil. I should have known how painful it was for her not to have a birthday, if I had given it a bit of thought… Yet I didn’t do anything for her.”
Machina bit on her lips, looked down and continued with a slightly trembling voice.
“Just like Mother gave Father a birthday, I should have given Sister one way earlier. She gives me so much, but I can’t offer anything in return.”
“…I don’t think that’s right.”
Softly, I denied it.
“You did give her something in return. Just by smiling at her side, Luna is quite happy. I believe she’s satisfied with just that. You should also know that Luna is that kind of girl.”
Reaching out my hand for Machina, I opened my mouth once more with “Besides” while petting her head.
“If you feel like repaying her, you just have to do so from now on. Right? For now, let’s make Luna happy with the upcoming birthday party. Okay?”
“…..Yeah, you might be right.”
Raising her head, Machina showed a smile.
But tears dwelled up in her eyes and to change her mood, I cracked a joke like always in the end.
“Hey Machina, earlier I thought about a present for Luna with Elni and Kaorun and there was this idea about presenting her touching words. What’s your take on that?”
“…Even if you ask me, I’m not sure. How would you present her that?”
“If you want to know, I’ll show you.”
Along with my words, I rested my hands on her shoulders and declared sentimental.
“Machina, you’re easy to trick and then retort.”
“Oh my, thanks. That’s the ultimate compliment for— As if! It’s the worst kind of insult! It’s not touching my heart, but stabbing it! Are you making fun of me!?”
“Oh, excuse me. Then how about this?”
Now I put my hand on Machina’s chin and said whispering.
“Machina, you’re a precious female to me. So let me touch your voluminous breasts.”
“Eh? What’s this so sudden? Geez, you’re so helpless. Just for a bit— wait, I won’t be fooled! I won’t fall for that trick again! Actually, do you want to touch my breasts that bad!?”
With her cheeks bright red, Machina cross-examined me with a fierce tone.
“Even at our first meeting you said something weird and touched my breasts! And a while ago, you touched them through a clever scheme of ‘Do they give milk?’! Are you a boobie alien!? How is it!?”
“Mhm~ I wonder?”
“What the! Forget it! Stupid Shinobu! Pervert! Lecher!”
As she was pouting, Machina turned her back to me and went back into the house in a huff. But, the earlier tears in her eyes had completely vanished and I made a small sigh of relief.
As words of comfort they were the lowest, but it was the best I could do. I watched the sunset while lightly scratching my head, then slowly went back into the living room…
* * *
From them on I was busy until the day of Luna’s birthday.
During that one week, I asked my mother for help, pondered about my own present and we tried to bake a birthday cake by ourselves. There was a lot to do.
Amidst that, everyone settles on presents for Luna through repeated meetings and we came to feel some kind of backlash.
I was happy doing something for Luna. Most likely the others girls felt the same. While we were busy, we also had fun.
But on the other hand, Luna lost her vigor by the day and on the appointed day with all preparations done, I took Luna outside, so that the living room could be decorated for the party. When we went to the park together, she said somewhat depressed.
“…Recently, everyone is acting strange.”
I had sat down on a bench and Luna took seat besides me while looking down.
Luna had noticed that we were behaving unusual after all. We were careful as not to behave suspicious, but Elni and Nazuna were bad with lies.
Every time they were about to spill the beans, my mother, Machina or I kept making follow ups and due to that Luna surely felt that we were hiding something.
Luna must have been worried.
Shaking my shoulders with teary eyes, she had said that she would like to apologize if she unknowingly made everyone angry. She wanted me to tell her if I knew anything.
I on the other hand, aware of the facts, really wanted to tell her, but I managed to keep my mouth closed. I had to endure this for the later surprise.
“Shinobu-san, is it something you cannot tell to me? It IS something you cannot tell me, right? Then at least please give me a hint! I beg you!”
“Uhm, well, you see…Oh, right. Luna, let’s sing! Let’s earn a bit of small cash with that great singing voice of yours at the street!”
“…Right now I can only sing sad songs…”
Dropping her shoulders dejected, Luna was close to tears.
…This wasn’t good. I was about to give in. When I pondered how to fool her, the ring tone of my cell phone finally sounded.
When I took the call, I could hear Elni’s reliable voice right away.
“Mad Dog here. Preparations are done. Jackal, initiate the plan. And make it cool. That’s important after all.”
“Roger. I’ll do my best.”
Replying shortly and hanging up, I took Luna’s hand.
“I have something to show you, Luna. Come with me.”
“…Please show me hope to face a tomorrow. I feel disheartened.”
An extremely weak Luna. I couldn’t really take it. I increased my squeeze of her hand a bit and returned to the house with swift steps.
And when we reached our house, Luna tilted her head a bit.
“Uhm, Shinobu-san, you wanted me to show your house?”
“Yeah, it has something even better than the hope to face tomorrow. Just think that I tricked you and get inside.”
While saying so, I pushed on Luna’s back.
There Luna stood in front of the front door together with me while making a puzzled expression and then slowly opened the door.
At that moment,
“—Welcome home, my Lady!”
Machina, Elni, Nazuna, my mother, Hijiri and Kaorun, all clad in maid clothes, welcomed her back with her heads lowered.
…Okay, what? Why maid clothes? We never discussed this before. Just like Luna, who had widened her eyes, I was surprised, whereas the others all launched the crackers that they had hidden behind their backs and said together.
Along with a nice PLOP sound, the confetti from the cracker flutter about in the air.
Amidst that, Luna made a blank expression, but soon enough she said in hastily state.
“T- Today is Shinobu-san’s birthday!? I did not know at all! Wh- What should I do! I am supposed to give a birthday present, right? I do not have prepared anything! Aww, just what should I do?”
…Luna perfectly got the wrong idea. Everyone else made a wry smile as well. For now I should clarify the situation.
I again pulled on Luna’s hand and took her to the living room.
In front of the living door room, a banner with “Birthday Party” hand-written by Kaorun was set up and when we went inside, the living room was perfectly party decorated.
Balloons and paper chains were displayed in the room and there was even a banner with “Happy Birthday!” written on it.
Seeing that, Luna still didn’t realize that she was the star of the party and she looked around the room curiously.
There I gently rested my hand on her shoulder and explained.
“Hey Luna, you said everyone was behaving weird lately, but this is the reason for it. We all prepared for it in secret, because we wanted to hold a birthday party for you.”
Momentarily stopping my words, I then continued along with a smile.
“So, are you surprised?”
“…Ehm, well, a birthday party for me? But, I, do not know my own birthday…”
“If you don’t know it, why not make it today? We all want to celebrate with you. Right, guys?”
Turning around, I asked so, whereupon the girls, who had watched over Luna with a smile, nodded without hesitation. Then Elni and Nazuna took Luna’s hands and made her sit on the sofa. Hijiri and Kaorun brought some snacks and tea, whereas Machina and my mother brought a big self-baked cake.
The cake had a chocolate plate with “Happy Birthday!” written on it, just like the banner. We didn’t know Luna’s age, but for now we put 18 candles on it.
By the way, the candles were not lit yet. We had decided to do that last and apparently we were right with that decision.
Luna made a face like she couldn’t believe it even now, as it didn’t feel real to her.
Today was Luna’s first birthday party. She could take her time. Waiting for Luna to calm down, we then decided to give her the presents first.
At the end of days of worry, I noticed how much Luna treasured the choker I had bought her before, so I presented her a pendant necklace.
Nazuna gave her a wolf plush-toy as big as her love for Luna.
Elni had a breads bracelet that was so pretty that you doubted it was handmade. Machina, as she couldn’t settle on one, had the highest count of presents. A watering can, shovel, scissors, bucket and etc. for gardening.
Hijiri, who said that she actually would like to present her a piano, gave her a keyboard.
Kaorun had maid clothes for some reason and a self-made “Nanjou Shinobu’s First Picture Collection” book on which I wanted to retort a lot. As for my mother, she presented her a cell phone that she had signed up for the other day.
While everyone was giving her the presents, Luna finally perceived it as reality, as tears gradually dwelled up in her eyes.
But, as her confusion was greater than her joy, Luna didn’t say a single word ever since she sat down on the sofa.
There I softly clapped Luna’s shoulder and pointed at my mother’s present, the cell phone.
“Luna, why don’t you try open that cell phone?”
When Luna took the cell phone and opened it as I told her, I continued further.
“Now open the profile menu… Ah, no, sorry. Guess that was too much.”
Luna was bad with machines. She surely didn’t know how to operate it. I gently overlapped my hand with Luna’s and operated the cell phone, opening the profile menu.
Instantly, Luna widened her eyes a bit upon seeing it.
She leaked a small voice.
The profile showed the phone’s number, mail address and the name [Luna].
“That’s another present from all of us.”
Luna was called “Luna”, because she was abandoned by her mother on a night with a full moon. But Machina previously told me that she didn’t really like her own name and actually wanted to get one from her parents.
Therefore, we decided to give Luna a name.
I had the idea. It might be a selfish thing, as a name is something precious, but I wanted Luna to like her own name. I didn’t want her to hate it.
I looked into Luna’s eyes and said sentimental.
“If you like, would you accept that name?”
Facing everyone, Luna’s voice trembled a bit.
“I, getting all these presents from you…can I really accept it?”
“Of course. We all want to celebrate with you, since you’re precious to all of us.”
When I declared gently, tears finally spilled out from Luna’s eyes, she cast her head down and trembled her shoulders.
“…As a kid, I… thought that it is for the best that… I do not know my birthday. Because even if I had one… no one would celebrate it with me… I had given up on it… but, actually I was always envious of it…”
Drops of tears spilled down and trembling her voices with hics, Luna hugged her cell phone onto her chest.
“But… everyone hated me…so I could not invite them to a birthday party…I, just do not know… what am I supposed to do at a time like this… I know I should not be crying, but… I am sorry…”
Unable to watch any longer, I draw Luna closer and tightly embraced her onto my chest.
“You can cry. You don’t have to say or do anything. If you’re happy, that’s all that counts. Nothing more is needed. Therefore… it’s okay.”
Along with my words, I gently petted her head, whereupon a crying voice raised from Luna’s mouth. That voice echoed loudly through the living room and Luna continued to cry just like a baby.
If Luna was born crying like this, then this was a baby’s first cry, marking today the birth of Luna.
Such thoughts crossed my mind as I held back my tears that were about to naturally flow out. When Luna had calmed down, I shifted my gaze back to everyone.
“Okay then, time to lit the candles…wait, why are you guys even crying?”
Everyone except for Kaorun was devastated.
Of course I could relate. But, I wished they would keep their act together. I was desperately holding mine back. To change the mood, I dared to say with a bright voice.
“C’mon Nazuna, we’re going to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ now, so stop crying, okay?”
“…Sorry…that’s impossible… The tears make everything blurry… I can’t see in front…”
“I, I see. Then Machina with her beautiful voice will have to sing it by herself.”
I brought up the matter, hoping for her usual combination of getting tricked and retorting, but
“Hic… My voice is unstable… I… can’t sing…”
Machina was also no good after all.
“Ehm, then let’s sing with the rest. Hijiri, can you do it?”
“…Yeah… I’ll try my best…”
No, I appreciated the thought, but it looks impossible as well.
“W- Well, in the worst case I’ll just sing alone. Mom, lit the candles.”
“..Uhh… Luna-chan… you can always stay with us, okay…”
My mother wasn’t listening to me. Surprisingly enough, Nazuna had her tendency to easily cry from my mother.
In other words, my mother was useless as well.
“Th- Then I’ll lit the candles. Elni, pass me the lighter.”
“…Shinobu, allow me to take on that role. I want to do it.”
Apparently Elni recovered as the first. Wiping away her tears with her fingertip and taking the lighter, she slowly lit up the candles on the cake.
Meanwhile, Kaorun closed the curtains of the living room and turned off the lights, so when all candles were lit, I called out to everyone.
“For now, those who can sing, sing. Here we go.”
On my calling, even the crying members technically started to sing Happy Birthday, but the mixture of crying and singing was rather troubling.
Kaorun and I looked at each other and raised our singing voices louder as to cover up the voices of the others, then we both made a small sigh.
…When I looked into Kaorun’s eyes earlier, they seemed rather wet, but I decided to pay it no mind. I lightly clapped Luna’s shoulder.
“Okay! Now blow out the candles while wishing for something, Luna.”
“…Yes…I hope… hic… that I can always stay… together with everyone…”
No, no, the candles wouldn’t be blown off by such weak blowing and crying. Mhm~ What to do?
I pondered about that in my heart, whereupon Kaorun, as to change the mood, cracked one of her usual jokes with still wet eyes.
“Luna-sama, please blow out the candles already. At this rate Shinobu-sama might get aroused by the sight of candles and start some S&M play with a candle in his hand.”
“Don’t say such outrageous stuff! If that’s what you want, I’ll drip wax onto you!”
“Oh no! Shinobu-sama, you pervert! But, I might not be all so opposed to it!”
Like that, Kaorun and I dared to fool around.
“Hey! What are you two doing!”
Elni got angry on a rare occasion and continued while puffing up her cheeks a bit.
“Let me in for such stuff too!”
“Well then, I will drip the wax onto you, Elni-sama.”
“Uwaaah! Scary! Stop it, Kaorun! Someone help me!”
When Elni raised a pathetic scream, everyone snorted with laughter a bit and even Luna showed a smile. She took a deep breath to blow out the candles.
There Kaorun said isolated.
“Shinobu-sama, please do not do anything perverted once the room turns completely dark.”
“..Right back at you. Don’t do anything weird.”
Just as Kaorun laughed suspicious, Luna blew out the candles and the room was enveloped by darkness.
In that moment, my mother started to raise an erotic voice… and when I doubtful turned on the lights, Kaorun was fondled my mother’s breasts from behind.
While everyone looked at Kaorun with a weary expression, she cast her eyes aside.
“No, you have the wrong idea. I just mistook her for Hijiri-chan.”
“Oh my, is that so. Fufu, then the prankish maid needs a bit of punishment.”
“…Ah, it is time for me to sing an anthem, so I will take my leave now.”
Right away Kaorun turned her back to us and tried to escape, but that wasn’t allowed. Firmly grabbing Kaorun’s shoulder, my mother leaked a low voice.
“Just sing the anthem here. In a nice voice, okay.”
While saying so, she took Kaorun’s beautiful breasts in an eagle grab and this time my mother started to fondle Kaorun’s breasts.
Instantly, Kaorun raised a bewitching voice.
“Ahn… My apologies… Hyah… Please forgive me….!”
“Ufufu, you’re quite sensitive, my little maid. How about here?”
“Kyahn! Uhhn! Not my bottom… Please do not touch it… Noo!”
When Kaorun raised a loud voice, my mother smiled roguish.
“Oh my, oh my, the little maid likes it on the butt. I’ll gladly comply.”
“Yahn… Is, Is that what they call a wife’s technique… Mm… Amazing… But, please help me already! Hijiri-chan!”
While reddening her cheeks, Kaorun sought help from Hijiri.
But, Hijiri faced sideways and replied.
“…Kaoru-san, you do better to reflect a bit on your actions.”
“Hijiri-chan is being cold!?”
Well, of course she would be cold to the perverted maid that tried to fondle her breasts in the confusion of the darkness. However, if I were to hear any more of Kaorun’s erotic voice, I wouldn’t calm down.
Therefore, I called out to my mother.
“Mom, why don’t you leave it at that? I’ll give you Hijiri instead, so put up with that.”
“Ehh!? Me!? Wh- What should I do? She’s Shinobu-kun’s mother and might come to hate me if I turn it down, but it’s embarrassing…”
On my words, Hijiri fidgeted with red cheeks, whereupon my mother pulled on my sleeve with a smile.
“Hey Shinobu, can I hug that girl– Hijiri-chan?”
“…But don’t do anything funny.”
“I’ll do my best.”
Speaking like a politician, my mother embraced Hijiri. Upon that, even Nazuna and Elni clung to Hijiri and in the end Luna joined them as well.
On the other hand, Kaorun hid behind my back and looked at my mother with wet eyes for some reason.
“Shinobu-sama, I, came to like Tomoe-sama quite a lot. I might not be all that opposed to being treated that forcefully.”
“…How much more of a perverted maid can you get?”
I retorted wearily…
Even after blowing out the candles, the birthday party continued happily.
The girls were talking to each other in front of the birthday presents, whereas my mother stood besides me and opened a wine. With a wine glass in her hand, she watched over the others.
Amidst that, Nazuna came over quite curiously.
“Mom, are you drinking alcohol?”
“…You can’t, Nazuna. You’re still a minor.”
When my mother gave a warning beforehand, Nazuna made a slightly regretful expression and opened her mouth.
“Hey Mom, how does alcohol taste?”
“It’s an adult taste. So it’s too early for you.”
My mother replied so, whereupon Nazuna widened her eyes for some reason.
“An adult taste… So you have eaten an adult before, Mom.”
Yeah, I didn’t think she meant it like that. I inadvertently became weary, whereupon my mother gave a wry smile.
“Nazuna, just for you information, I haven’t eaten anyone except your dad.”
“Ehh!? You ate dad!?”
She most likely didn’t understand the meaning. Nazuna once again widened her eyes in surprise.
There Kaorun came over to me curiously now and immediately rested her chin on my shoulder, listening to the conversation. Furthermore, on a closer look, I noticed Hijiri slowly approaching in our direction as well.
…I could understand Kaorun, the perverted maid, but I guess for Hijiri it was because she was sullen? Such kind of rude thoughts crossed my mind, when Luna raised her hand reserved and called for attention with “Excuse me, everyone”.
“Ehm, well, I truly thank you for today. It is my first birthday, so I am really happy. I would like to repay you somehow—”
“You don’t need to, Luna.”
Softly cutting into her words, I continued gently.
“A birthday is a day where you’re thankful for being able to meet.”
Of course they were a lot of opinions.
But, in my opinion a birthday was a day were you were thankful for getting to know a precious person and spending time together from then on.
“We’re happy to have met you, so we express our feelings of gratitude. You, the star today, don’t have to do anything. Still, if you want to repay us, then keep that feeling until the birthday of the next person.”
I properly told Luna so, but
“—But if you insist, Luna, I’ll gladly accept it.”
“Please pay me back with a kiss.”
Kaorun and Elni both mimicked me and turned the serious atmosphere into a comedic one at once. I was about to retort to them half-wearily, but
“I understand. A kiss it is.”
Luna seemed to take their joke serious and approached Elni.
“Eh? Luna? It was just a joke…”
“Elni-chan, I love you.”
“Uwaaah! I’m not listen— wait, she really kissed me!”
Getting a kiss from Luna on the cheek, Elni was surprised, whereupon Nazuna raised her hand with attitude.
“Luna-oneechan, me too!”
“Yes, I love you as well, Nazuna-chan.”
Firmly nodding, Luna kissed Nazuna’s cheek. Furthermore, she also kissed the cheek of my mother, standing next to Nazuna, and then approached Kaorun this time.
“Ehm, Luna-sama? I will pass on it. I am content with the sentiment alone…”
“No way. I, love you too, Kaoru-san.”
“L- Love me, e- even if you say something like that, I, uhm…”
When Kaorun turned bright red on a rare occasion, Luna softly pressed her lips on her cheek. Following, she now faced Hijiri and said reserved.
“Uhm, Gogyou-san, I have a little favour to ask. …Can I call you Hijiri-san from now on?”
“Yeah, that would make me happy as well.”
With a blossoming smile, Luna kissed Hijiri’s cheek. Hijiri, even though she looked embarrassed, accept it properly and softly petted Luna’s head.
Then Luna got closer to Machina and tightly hugged her onto her chest.
“Thank you too, Machina. I was really happy about the presents.”
“No, I’m sorry for not noticing about your birthday up till now…”
“It is fine. Let us have a birthday party for you next as well, Machina.”
…To Luna and Machina, who came from abroad, a kiss surely was just a greeting. They kissed each other on the cheek and embraced each other once more.
That beautiful scenery inadvertently captured me.
I was looking over the two of them, when Luna softly got away from Machina and slowly came over to me.
“Yep, your always cool Shinobu-san. Bring it on.”
The kiss is a greeting, chanting that three times in my heart, I showed a carefree smile and spread both my arms.
Upon that, Luna blushed and looked at me with wet eyes, bringing her face closer.
She overlapped her lips with mine.
The sensation of her lips that was hard to describe with words. A softness and warmth. For a moment, all my thoughts came to a stop… hold it. Why on the lips just for me?
Before I had noticed it, the atmosphere in the room had become cold and Luna hastily got away from me, as she probably didn’t intend for it herself, while touching her lips.
Everyone, except my mother and Nazuna, were glaring at Luna, whereupon Luna with her cheeks still coloured red, opened her mouth to cover it up.
“E- Ehm, well, I made a mistake.”
“Don’t give me that!”
Hijiri raised her voice first.
“How much of a natural erotic big sister are you!”
Kaorun followed after Hijiri.
“Sister! That’s just not fair!”
Machina also protested with teary eyes.
“Girls, calm down! This is the start of a festival!”
It ended with Elni saying some nonsense.
Afterwards everyone drew closer to Luna, saying something about a contest. The living room was filled with turmoil.
I had trouble coping with the situation, but… it wasn’t something serious.
Even while everyone was angry, they also showed a smile. Same applied for me. It might have become a bit wild, but it was okay for today. Also,
—I want to celebrate Luna’s birthday like this again next year.
While watching everyone’s smiles, I thought so at the bottom of my heart.
16th September— Luna’s birthday. This day surely would become a special day for us now. Having that premonition, I approached the smiling girls…
* * *
A night with a full moon. A small baby. A coughing woman. Swaying blonde hair.
With a trembling voice, the woman reached out for the baby and started to cough again.
At the same time, red blood dripped out of the woman’s mouth. The woman wiped it and with sadly rocking, yet loving eyes, she touched the baby’s small hand.
That warmth filled up the woman’s chest, but likewise tightened it.
What an unlucky life, was what the woman thought.
At some point she had forgotten what she was born for and later she even didn’t know why she was still alive. She lived on with the thought that she would die a miserable death without knowing why she was born into this world.
So when the baby moved, she could only think how unlucky she was. She didn’t know what it meant to be a mother. She didn’t know how adorable a child was.
But, the born child looked at her and smiled.
At that time, the woman had shed tears before she knew it.
It was a wish she had since her childhood. The moment her dream, which she had forgotten about at some point due to her wearing life, came true.
—She wanted someone to smile at her.
Just by having such a trivial wish granted, her chest overflowed with love and her tears wouldn’t stop.
Even in this cruel world, there was a single existence that smiled at her innocently. Her precious child that relied on and loved her.
She wanted to watch that smile forever. She wanted to feel that soft warmth forever. She wanted to be together forever.
But, the woman understood better than anyone that it wasn’t meant to be.
The woman was painfully aware that she couldn’t raise this child. That she had to say good-bye. That she didn’t have much longer herself.
Therefore, she decided to entrust the child to the church. She would surely be turned down if she asked normally. They wouldn’t listen to a tainted whore.
With that in mind, she had no other choice but to leave her child, which was more precious to her than anything, in front of the church door. For her that was the most painful action.
Spilling words of apology along with tears, the woman mumbled “I love you” in her heart.
These were words that she always wanted to say to someone.
“…I hope you’ll find someone that says it to you.”
Not wiping away her endless flood of tears, the woman placed a soft kiss on the baby’s cheek.
“I love you— -chan.”
It was the baby’s name. The name of the child of a whore. The name of the woman’s only treasure in the world, which she had to let go on a night with a full moon.
The baby, who lost it’s mother, continued to cry in front of the church. Like calling for the mother, it continued to cry forever…
—It was a dream. It was vague and unclear, but a really gentle dream.
Upon waking up, the woman’s child quietly spilled tears.
* * *
…Suddenly feeling a soft warmth on my body, I slowly opened my eyes.
Who was it? Nazuna? Or did Elni snuck into my bed again?
While thinking so half-asleep, I turned my vision, whereupon there was Luna to my surprise.
Luna tightly clung to me while pressing her big breasts onto my body, which gravely unsettled me. What was up with this situation? Did she come into my bed half-asleep by mistake?
It was the first time Luna did something like this, ever since she started to live here.
A bit surprised, I wanted to get away from Luna, as it was certainly embarrassing, but
Luna suddenly leaked a small voice from her mouth.
It stopped my movements.
On a closer look, tears were dwelling up in Luna’s eyelashes.
…I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t know either what kind of dream Luna was having. But, I no longer could get away from her.
I softly embraced Luna and said quietly.
“As long as you wish for it, I’ll stay by your side.”
While holding the warmth in my chest, I continued to pet Luna’s head until she would wake up…