Since the next day, contrary to my worries, Yukimiya fortunately didn’t call for me.
It seems that there aren’t any matters worrying her for the time being, and she’s only sent me one email. However, the contents of it were quite alarming, since she wrote “You appeared in my dream last night.”
The classroom I’m in is different than the one Yukimiya goes to. If I make sure that we don’t come across each other, I should be able to pull through for the time being…
My urgent task at present is to correct my relationship with Ryuuga.
I have to somehow disillusion Ryuuga and demote my current position.
At the very least, I want her to think ‘Ichirou might be a bit unsuited for a boyfriend role.’
(My guess is that the type Ryuuga likes is the “no-good man” kind. In that case, perhaps I really should shift into the serious, cool type…it would be a complete change in character, though.)
──As a test, I tried parting my hair to the side.
However, it ended in failure. I only got loud laughs from Ryuuga.
──Next, I tried wearing glasses like an honor student.
That also backfired. Ryuuga said “Seeing you in glasses gives me a different kind of heart-pounding feeling.”
──Not being discouraged, I tried being cool by coming to class with a rose in my mouth.
That was also in vain. When I was called on for a problem, I couldn’t speak because of the rose, and I ended up in the staff room.
(In the end, I just made a fool out of myself…this is difficult.)
Going along with my trial-and-error, it was already after school on the weekend.
Today, another fashion show and skit at the Hinomori household was awaiting…or so I thought, but Ryuuga surprisingly said that we’d have to cancel it.
I was told that her younger sister, Kyouka, caught a fever, and that she wanted to take care of her.
“Sorry, Ichirou. But, I’m really worried about Kyouka…”
“Don’t worry. Just focus on Kyouka for now. And, if possible, I also want you to cool down as well.”
“But the bunny girl costume finally arrived…”
“Bunny? N, no, it can’t be like that, okay? We shouldn’t hang out until Kyouka’s fully recovered.”
“Yeah, you’re right…Father and Mother aren’t here, so I have to be the one by her side.”
I knew this long ago already, but Ryuuga’s a girl that’s very affectionate towards her younger sister. And Kyouka is a girl that’s very affectionate towards her older sister. Above all, she’s one of the few who knows about the secret behind Ryuuga’s gender.
Even when they were small, they’ve never once fought. Since they grew up in a special environment, it seems that they’ve grown some strong bonds. Though, it would’ve been better if they weren’t two sisters, but a brother-sister pair…
(At any rate, I’ve unexpectedly become free for the weekend.)
I’m a bit worried about Kyouka, but the only thing I can probably do is to go and send a get-well letter. First and foremost, I have to worry about myself. I can never loosen my guard.
Finals for the first semester will arrive soon, and when that’s over, summer vacation will come.
Spending the summer while having my current relationship with Ryuuga is very dangerous.
During the summer, women become more open…and if Ryuuga says “I want to go further with this training,” I’m not confident that I’d be able to refuse. Our current distance is very dangerous.
Recently, I’ve had some unease. Could Ryuuga actually be serious about this…?
Then came Sunday.
I left my house in the morning, and decided to step foot in the neighboring town by taking a train.
There’s no particular aim for me being here. Strictly speaking, it’s because I want to be in a place with no acquaintances and slowly think about what measures to take.
The weather’s been fine since the morning, and the temperature is just right. I’d been thinking that instead of idling about at home, being in an unfamiliar environment would be a refreshing change of pace.
(Should I try getting off at Susuhama station? Since there are few people there, the cafe near the station should likely be open.)
For caution’s sake, I left my cellphone at home. I’ll pretend that I just forgot it. I plan to return right when noon passes, so not having it shouldn’t be an issue.
──After arriving at Susuhama station, I headed straight towards the cafe and ordered a iced milk coffee.
I would have been nice to get a sandwich, but I gave up on that since they only had cakes and cookies. Fancy cafes from foreign companies are inconvenient in this way.
(However, there are more customers than I thought…it’s a Sunday, after all.)
Receiving my iced milk coffee at the register, I made my way to a seat in the corner of the bustling store. The front of the cafe was a big glass window, so I could see an unbroken view of the scenery outside.
(I wonder what Ryuga is doing at around this time.)
Of course, she’s probably taking care of Kyouka.
Unfortunately, healing abilities only have an effect on injuries. Even if Yukimiya was there, she wouldn’t be able to cure illnesses.
(It’s her we’re talking about, so I’m sure she’ll gallantly take care of Kyouka.)
…When I try to imagine that, Ryuuga in a bunny girl costume pops up for some reason. Then she’d also add “-pyon” to the end of her sentences. (TLN: Adding -pyon to the end makes a sentence more “cute”)
(I wonder if she’d properly put on a bunny-eared headband. Perhaps a fluffy, round tail as well. Ryuuga has a pretty nice rear, so…)
At that moment, I came to my senses, and was stunned.
What was I thinking about just now? Why am I grinning? Why are my nostrils flaring?
Maybe my subconscious accepted myself as “Ryuuga’s boyfriend?” Do I want to dress up as a hunter and chase after Ryuuga in a bunny costume?
(No! I want to go back to being a friend character! I want to disillusion Ryuga!)
While clawing at my own head, I downed the iced milk coffee in one gulp like it was a shot of alcohol.
──Then one woman sat on the seat next to me.
It seems that was the only seat open since the number of customers increased. She was slender, tall, and quite the beauty with huge breasts.
(She kind of looks like a celebrity…)
Judging from appearances, she might be a college student. She had a somewhat stylish figure with a chiffon dress and a thin black cardigan. She had a barrette on the back of her hair and wore sleek black sunglasses.
Peeking out of her bag was a fashion magazine with a foreign fashion model on the front cover. Perhaps this person is also a fashion model. She elegantly sat while crossing her legs and looked neat.
(Is she waiting for her boyfriend? I wonder what kind of guy this person would go out with. A medical school student? A young businessman?)
When thinking about such things, the person suddenly caught a glimpse of me. Then──
For some reason, she gasped and her face turned stiff.
Her voice sounded familiar to me.
Surprisingly, it matched with a person I knew quite well.
Leaning forward, I saw that her face looked as if she was in distress. When she stood up from her chair, I had finished confirming her identity.
“Y, y, you’re mistaken!”
She quickly shakes her head. At the same time, her huge breasts are swinging.
“No, you’re Aogasaki. You just called me Kobayashi.”
“I don’t know you! I don’t know you at all!”
“Then take off those sunglasses.”
“I refuse! I’m to never take off these sunglasses in public!”
“You’re not Tamori.” (TLN: Tamori is a Japanese TV celebrity known for wearing black sunglasses.)
“Anyways, I’m not this ‘Aogasaki Rei’ person you’re talking about! My character is completely different from hers!”
“First off, calm down a bit. Everyone’s watching.”
Noticing the gaze from the surrounding guests, she reluctantly sat back down on the chair.
After that, she resigned herself and took the glasses off, setting them aside on the table. Looking at her almond-shaped eyes, it was indeed Aogasaki.
“So, what are you doing like that?”
“…Nothing in particular.”
“Are you meeting someone?”
“…I’m here alone.”
“The atmosphere around you is different from usual, so I didn’t recognize you until you spoke.”
“Perhaps you want to say that something like this doesn’t suit me.”
There, Aogasaki glared at me with a pretty hateful gaze.
“I suppose you’re laughing in your mind at seeing me like this.”
“No, not really.”
“Hmph. Go ahead and laugh if you want.”
For some reason, Aogasaki is pouting. She’s puffing her cheeks like a child would, and she’s violently stirring her iced coffee with a straw.
…After the other day with Yukimiya, I had a hunch that I was going to stumble upon another “unusual matter” with a heroine.
“I know it already. I’m an archaic, stoical swordswoman…my outfit would be a kendo uniform, and my favorite book would be Miyamoto Musashi’s ‘The Book of Five Rings,‘ and I’m a sword-freak that on holidays, only practices swinging a weapon at the dojo. At least, that’s probably what you think.”
(TLN: Miyamoto Musashi is a Japanese swordsman and philosopher. ‘The Book of Five Rings’ is a text he wrote on martial arts and Japanese swordsmanship.)
“T, that’s not what I thought.”
“That’s a lie. I completely know what you’re thinking.”
Resting one hand on her chin, Aogasaki made a pout with her lips.
Even though I went out of my town so that I wouldn’t meet an acquaintance, trouble has decided to come my way.
“I have an interest in clothing, accessories, and cosmetics. I listen to Western music, and I collect stuffed animals. Is that bad? Is it?”
She drew so close that the tips of our noses were touching. This time, I’m the one that’s quickly shaking my head now.
I’m glad she doesn’t have her wooden sword right now. However, Aogasaki is “The Swordswoman of the Beheading Dance”…she can clad any rod-shaped object in void, possibly turning it into a lethal weapon.
So just in case, I nonchalantly confiscated the straw in her iced coffee.
“I can…totally do it. Does this place have some shochu?” (TLN: Shochu is a Japanese liquor. It’s stronger than wine/sake, but weaker than whiskey.)
“Aogasaki, you’re a minor so don’t drink alcohol. You’re not that kind of character.”
“Hmph. I don’t need to keep up appearances anymore. At least, not to you, Kobayashi.”
After that, Aogasaki started grumbling, and according to her──the real her is very susceptible to fads, she likes being stylish, which in others words, means she’s a fashionista.
Though, she’s worried about the image she makes of herself towards her surroundings, so she tries not to let people see her. I thought she’d be the type to just go along with it, but it looks like she’s able to key into her surroundings quite well.
“Let me say this, Kobayashi, you hold one end of the responsibility.”
“Every time you see me, you always make a fuss about me being a ‘beautiful swordswoman’ or something of that sort. Because of that, I’ve been gradually becoming established as that kind of character. I’ve been getting more than thirty love-letters from just Oumei High School’s girls now.”
Indeed, there are many girls who admire Aogasaki. If Yukimiya is the idol of the boys, I suppose it’d be right to say that Aogasaki is the idol of the girls.
I can’t deny the fact that I played a role in that happening.
“As you said, I do hold some liability in this matter. Let me apologize.”
“Before you do that, why don’t you apologize for the matter of that peeping you did?”
“No, that…at that point in time, it was an event I had to do, I guess…”
“An event you had to do? Ryuuga didn’t seem that interested in it.”
“It was important for me, at least. Please understand just that.”
For a short while, Aogasaki pondered and said “Hmm…” while crossing her arms.
“…In other words, you went that far so you could see me without clothes?”
“Yeah. Or perhaps I should say that rather than wanting to see you like that, I wanted to perform the act of looking…”
“In other words──you a sense a charm in me as a woman?”
Aogasaki turned the conversation towards a strange direction. Her facial expression was still one of displeasure, but within it, there were some faint glimmers of joy that appeared and disappeared.
While I was thinking about how suspicious that was, Aogasaki corrected her sitting posture and unnaturally cleared her throat with a cough.
“B, by the way, Kobayashi.”
“I’m only asking this for reference, but…what do you think of these clothes?”
“Let’s see, I think it suits you pretty well. Your taste in color is good, making the frills on the chest area a high point of the outfit.”
“I know, right! I liked these frills, so I bought them!”
“The Swordswoman of the Beheading Dance” finally let out a joy without hesitation. Her eyes sparkled as if this was a topic she enjoyed.
“Well then, how’s this barrette? Should I have picked a color that stands out more?”
“What about brown? You have pretty hair, so people nearby would be attracted to it.”
“I, I see…”
“Something like a ribbon might work well. You have an adult-like aura, so it could help as an accent. However, the color would need to be chic. How about moss green?”
“Uh-huh…well, then how about these──”
We continued talking about the enigmas of fashion for nearly an hour.
Aogasaki fired questions one after another, and eventually took out a notepad. When I realized it, I was already on my fourth cup of iced milk coffee.
…I was supposed to be here to apologize. I guess this is how I make amends to her. If Aogasaki is happy, I suppose it’s fine.
However, as for the result──I once again dug my own grave even further.
“Kobayashi, I never thought that you were this well-versed in fashion.”
“No, I’m not that well-versed in it…”
“There hasn’t been anyone I’ve talked who’s gotten me this excited. I definitely want to meet up again at this place in the future.”
“That’s it! How about becoming my exclusive coordinator?”
I knew that I was turning pale at that point.
I went and did it again! I triggered another pointless flag! Now I’m going to take the role of an exclusive coordinator along with being an exclusive advisor!
I had experience from being the fashion leader in Komiyama’s class, but I went and pointlessly used it here…!
“Hey, Kobayashi. Let me ask you one more time. Is me being like this…strange?”
“N, not really…”
“Really? Those words aren’t a lie?”
“Usually, strong-minded youths have that kind of side to them, after all…”
I very much know a certain girl that normally dresses as man but likes cosplay.
“Then I have a request, let me able to consult you about these things! I can’t talk with other people about this, and it seems that my hobbies match with yours!”
“You’d probably be better off consulting Ryuuga rather than…”
“T, that’s foolish! I can’t let Ryuuga see me like this! It would be embarrassing! I wouldn’t be able to face him properly!”
Aogasaki turns red, covers her face with both hands, and shakes her head. It’s good that she has some gap moe, but…I didn’t want to encounter her like this.
“Kobayashi, could you accompany me to the shop next time? I want you to help me with picking clothes.”
“No, you’d probably be better off going to that sword exhibition with Ryuuga or…”
“I’m not interested in those sorts of things.”
Not interested, she says?
“So, give me your cellphone number and email address! I’ll get in touch with you again!”
….With this and that happening, once I was finally out of her clutches, it was already evening.
In the end, I couldn’t devise any measures against Ryuuga, increasing the amount of pains in the neck.
(I want to change schools or something like that now…)
I don’t remember too well how I got back home. I had already collapsed onto my bed when I realized it.
When I looked at my cellphone near the pillow, I had received three messages. They were from Ryuuga, Yukimiya, and Aogasaki.
‘To Ichirou. It’s about Kyouka’s condition. She’s gotten a lot better! Please expect the bunny cosplay soon!’
‘To Kobayashi. Sebastian was discharged from the hospital. I want to try baking macarons as a celebration, but what do you think, Kobayashi?’
‘To Kobayashi. Thank you for today. I won’t let you see me nude, but a bikini would be okay. It’s embarrassing, so I would wear a pareo.’
I replied “I look forward to it” to all of them.
I’m already at the end of my rope.