19: Chase After Fukumen's True Identity; 20: I Want a Flower On the Stage
Chapter 1 Adult Videos Lead to My Encounter with Her.
The trees lining the street shuddered as a strong gust blew through their freshly grown leaves. As the green leaves rustled in the warm wind, the small birds that had been resting among them flew into the blue sky all at once, chirping all the while.
And that's when everything happened – in that single moment.
Below the birds energetically spreading their wings, an idling car spewed exhaust as its engine rumbled away. The signal at the pedestrian crossing ahead of it turned blue, and the salarymen heading to work and the students going to school stepped onto the street in sync. It was at exactly that instant.
Crossing the street among the crowd was a lone high school boy: Itou Daijirou, whose gaze had just been caught by a "certain object". His eyes snapped to attention as – with the pedestrian signal's sounds echoing in the background – the office lady who'd been walking right in front of him had her skirt flipped up by the wind.
Her panties were a pale blue.
Daijirou assumed a victory pose in his head.
He didn't think she'd realized he was looking, but the office lady spun around anyway, her face reddening.
Making his move in time with the spinning woman, Daijirou turned his face away in an admirably natural manner.
With the corner of his eye, he watched the office lady as she twisted her neck left and right. She was probably wondering why no one seemed to be looking when she had felt a presumably lecherous gaze just a moment ago.
Daijirou couldn't keep a smile from spilling out.
"......Geez, what a perverted wind that was. Absolutely outrageous." He muttered under his breath. Returning his gaze ahead of him, he saw that the office lady had hurriedly finished crossing the street.
Was it really that embarrassing? Daijirou faced the piece of cloth that had gifted him with the energy to endure the coming day and sent a silent goodbye from the bottom of his heart.
Daijirou paused, overwhelmed by the wonderful start to the day that the morning's lucky event had brought him. Then he saved the hi-res image in a mental folder so they could reunite whenever he wanted.
Daijirou's hometown of Higashigaoka, regarded as the "town where the stars look the closest" by the nearby cities, was a commuter town with a bus terminal at its core, nestled within the surrounding hills. His school, Matsuzato High School, was perched about halfway up the side of the mountain that sprawled to the south of town. It was an all-boys school that had nothing to do with the world of panty flashes.
Daijirou would be a second year student from today on. As he headed toward his school's hill-strewn grounds, he thought about how his "lucky pervert" event had occurred on the very day that the new school term started, as if to mark the occasion. Making his way up the slope with nimble footsteps, he very seriously considered the possibility that it had been a sign of more good things to come that day.
As he passed through the school gates, he recognized the form of the man that had been his friend since elementary school walking ahead of him.
Hearing Daijirou's voice, his friend, Oonuki Kuroudo, slowly turned to face him. Kuroudo deftly adjusted his glasses while giving Daijirou a hard stare.
"......Huh, so it's just you, Daijirou."
"I see that becoming a second year hasn't stopped you from putting out that gloomy aura of yours."
"Screw you," Kuroudo said bluntly. Seeing Daijirou's never-ending grin, a dubious frown crossed his face. "What's got you smiling so much?"
"Eh? Ahh, as it turns out, I happened to see something amazing a little while ago."
"An office lady's panty flash!"
After a brief moment, Kuroudo sighed. "That's so stupid."
"Whaa!? What do you mean? It's super amazing!"
Watching Daijirou, who had begun shouting in his excitement, Kuroudo heaved a heavy sigh. He gave his friend a sharp, don't-make-me-explain-something-so-obvious look.
"A 2-D panty flash is one thing, but a 3-D panty flash is just dirty, isn't it......?" He muttered.
Kuroudo was the type of guy who preferred 2-D women over 3-D. Apparently, his latest favorite was the main heroine of the Sunday morning anime Mahou Shoujo Koyori-chan, and he wouldn't listen no matter how much Daijirou tried to explain the charms of 3-D women.
"You should stop getting so giddy over crap like panty flashes. Go fall in love for real."
"What, like you have?"
"Don't be an idiot, I1 have Koyori-chan, obviously."
Kuroudo had always used the more formal pronoun when referring to himself, and to be honest, Daijirou had found that part of him pretty cringy since they met in elementary school.
Everytime he opened his mouth, it was 2-D this or 2-D that. What an unhealthy way to live. Daijirou looked back at Kuroudo with exasperation.
Of course, he couldn't really argue. It wasn't like he'd had anything notable happen with 3-D girls since the day he was born. If anything, girls had avoided him. He'd gone through a phase in middle school, during which his eyes were constantly bloodshot due to his efforts to avoid missing a single lucky event. Because of that, girls would say he had a creepy stare.
In the end, like Kuroudo with his otaku hobbies blaring at full blast, Daijirou had graduated from middle school without one girl giving him the time of day. Right up until this very moment, he'd still never had a proper conversation with a 3-D girl.
Basically, for these two, the number of years spent without a girlfriend was equal to their age. Needless to say, they were virgins.
"I struggle to understand why you don't join me in the warm embrace of 2-D characters. Nothing exists in this world that is as tolerant of people like us as them! And among them, Koyori-chan is particularly—"
"Ah, yeah, yeah. It's okay, I already know what you wanna say."
The blissful feeling of seeing a panty flash first thing in the morning had wasted away into depression because of this pointless conversation. This guy really never changes, Daijirou thought.
Before long, the two of them had arrived in front of the class assignment board that had been placed by the doorway into the school.
"Well, I figured this would happen," Daijirou said flatly, unsurprised. The 4 characters for "Oonuki Kuroudo" were printed alongside his own, under the same class.
Presumably noting the same thing, Kuroudo adjusted his glasses and turned to Daijirou. "How many years in a row does this make it?"
"Seven this year."
This was truly what you would call being stuck with each other.
Wasting no time, the two friends headed for their new class, stopping by the shoe lockers to change into their school slippers. The school building was arranged so that first year classrooms were on the first floor, with each successive year being a floor higher.
They climbed the stairs by the entrance and found their new classroom. For some reason, a crowd had formed alongside the windows that faced the school grounds.
"What's with that?"
A mutter and an indifferent glance were all that Kuroudo gave the crowd before settling into his seat. Left on his own, Daijirou made for the window, and from his classmates' conversations and stares, figured out the general area he should be looking at.
He found the reason for the commotion pretty quickly.
On the mountain north of the town's central bus terminal, directly opposite the southern mountain where Matsuzato High sat, there stood a white building that he'd never seen before.
The building, which had definitely not been there during the end-of-term closing ceremony, was partially obscured by trees, and he couldn't quite make out the shape.
"—It's gotta be a weather station to record changes up here, right?"
"—It's an observatory. For sure."
"—It might be a broadcasting station for cable TV or something."
Every explanation seemed pretty reasonable, but none of them sounded very interesting.
Daijirou turned away, meaning to rejoin Kuroudo, and ended up running into a student that was trying to pass through the area by the window. Their shoulders knocked against each other.
Daijirou lifted his head and began an apology, but the other student simply glared back. The guy's music was blasting from his headphones, and he was wearing a hoodie that was a few sizes too big under his uniform. He looked exactly how you'd expect a young guy that was into hip hop to look. He swept past Daijirou and went for his seat without uttering a single word.
"Holy crap..... I thought he was gonna pick a fight with me for a second......" Daijirou said as he rejoined Kuroudo. After throwing a quick glance in headphone guy's direction, Kuroudo opened his mouth.
"That's what happens when you wander around carelessly. Don't stand out. Just become a background character in the corner. Sit quietly until the time comes and you'll naturally end the day avoiding trouble."
"I don't really want to blend into the background though."
"People have things they're suited for, and things they're not, right? You're meant to be a background character, like me."
"Don't lump me in with you!"
At that moment, the classroom door flew open with a thud. Flinching at the sudden noise, Daijirou looked over as an extremely flashy guy strode in from the hallway.
Running a hand along his bleached blonde hair, the newcomer glanced around the classroom.
"Oh nice! Looks like we're in the same class!"
Flashy Guy called out in a loud voice and walked over to someone by the window.
"Ry-Ryou!? What the hell's up with your hair!?"
"This? It's an image change man, an image change. Not bad, right?" Flashy Guy, AKA Ryou, took some of his bleached hair between his thumb and forefinger and rubbed it with a cocky smile.
"I mean, there's no way the teachers are gonna let you get away with that, y'know."
"No worries, man! I'll be fine. Anyway, I found this video yesterday—"
And with that, the classroom erupted into noisy chatter. He stood in the center of the room, surrounded by others who Daijirou assumed had been in the same class last year. Eyeing the patch of blonde hair as its owner discussed everything from idols to sports to comedians, Kuroudo repeated his line once more.
"You're meant to be a background character, like me."
"......Comparing us to that is a little extreme, don't you think?"
So-called popular guys like this Ryou person would always exist— this fact of life held true even in an all-boys school.
"Ah, right. Hey Ryou, we're having a mixer with some chicks from the all-girls school. You in?"
"You serious!? Of course I'm in!"
It wasn't like Daijirou wanted to be one of the popular guys, but he did envy their social skills. If he could be that smooth, there would probably be more chances to meet girls.
Just as Daijirou was sinking into his thoughts, staring blankly at the popular group, the intercom crackled to life.
"The opening ceremony is beginning. All students within the school should proceed to the gym. Repeat: the opening—"
Kuroudo took his time standing up.
"Never fear. With a personality as perverted as yours, you wouldn't get any attention even if you had a chance to attend a mixer."
"Guess we're in the same boat then, Mr. 2-D Otaku."
The two of them made their way to the gym, trading biting remarks as they went.
The days were peaceful, but exceedingly boring. In the end, it doesn't matter if I go up a school year or two, nothing changes, Daijirou thought.
Daijirou's house was a Japanese diner specializing in set meals. As soon as he returned home from the entrance ceremony, his dad and older sister forced him to help out in the restaurant. They worked him hard, and he was completely exhausted by their closing time of 9 PM.
After they let him go, he ate a late dinner and climbed up the stairs to laze around on the tatami mats of his second floor room. When he checked the time, the clock was already nearing 11.
The breeze, warm when he'd returned home at noon, was becoming a little chilly.
"Ahh, dammit!! I'm already out of stamina......"
Without stopping his mobile gaming, Daijirou got up and closed the window gently. Then he dropped back down onto the tatami mat covered floor and stared up at the ceiling, spacing out. Suddenly, he remembered the panty flash he'd been blessed with earlier in the day and got a little excited.
The time had come for him to do that important job that everyone born male knows he must do.
—Time to masturbate.
Still lying on the floor, Daijirou began to slide his pants down toward his knees, then—
Daijirou shouted reflexively as his sister abruptly opened the sliding door to his room.
"Why so dramatic?"
"B-because you opened the door out of nowhere! W-what do you want?"
"I came to tell you the bath's ready. If you're not getting in then I'll take my turn first."
That's why she'd interrupted him?
"......You can use the bath first. And could you give a shout before you open the door from now on?"
The sliding door returned to its shut position with a crisp thud. Listening to his sister's footsteps recede down the hallway, Daijirou calmed himself.
Ever since his mom had passed away while he was in elementary school, his dad and sister had taken turns doing the housework. Unfortunately, Daijirou had forgotten that his sister was in charge of the bath today.
"Dammit......I had just gotten into the mood."
Still, there was time to recover. He double-clicked on his mental porn folder and began the search for material that would get the ol' floppy drive going again. And then—
This time it was his dad, who slid the door open just a few inches wide before popping his face into the room.
"O-, Oyaji2!! Could you not just barge into my room like Nee-chan!!? This is a private space!!"
Daijirou shouted, raising his objections over the fact that his motivation had been demolished twice now. He placed a hand on the door, intending to drive his dad out. As he did, his dad, whose only presence in the room had been his face, popped an arm in too. His hand held a rental bag from the neighborhood video rental store3.
"I thought you could return it for me. The rental period ends today."
"What? Why would I......"
"Why not? I had a few drinks so I'm too sleepy. I'll give you a tip if you do it."
"All you ever give me is loose change. You can return it your—"
Daijirou stopped speaking mid-sentence. His dad had taken the DVD in question out of its bag.
"......It's 'Magic Mirror, Vol. 5'," his dad whispered conspiratorially, displaying the title. "It's a 240 minute long extended volume."
Daijirou stood frozen in place.
".....Your sister is still in the bathroom. Don't you think it's the perfect time to take a peek at this DV—"
Daijirou snatched the DVD away before his dad could finish his sentence. Without a moment's delay, he slipped the DVD into his player and sat in front of the TV. His dad followed suit, lining up next to him and picking the remote up off the floor.
"This father of yours is willing to tell you where the best scenes are."
"You're so reliable, Oyaji."
"This is why you should respect your elders, son."
His dad hit the fast forward button on the remote. Eventually, a crucially important scene splashed across the screen. Father and son leaned forward, nostrils flaring. And then—
"—Hey, you know what? I have to clean the bath at the end anyway, so you should go first."
Daijirou's sister – not in the bath after all – was at the door. Father and son screamed in unison.
Without hesitation, his dad pushed a random button on the remote, and in the next instant the screen was filled with a news program in place of the flesh-colored imagery that had been there a moment ago. It was the very definition of a close call.
Daijirou wiped cold sweat from his brow. "I-I already said I'd take a bath later!! And I've gotta go return this DVD in a minute, so after that!!"
"Oh really? You should've said that in the first place, then."
His sister closed the door and left in a bit of a huff.
After making sure she was far enough away, Daijiro said, "Oyaji!! You should've checked if Nee-chan was actually in the bathroom!"
Daijiro turned around and saw his dad had been intently watching the news, hand still wrapped around the remote.
"—In America, about 200 young children appear to have caught a new kind of virus. Doctors are currently working to ascertain the details. The children are exhibiting symptoms of encephalitis—"
As he listened to the report, Daijiro's dad mumbled. "That reminds me, something like this happened back then."
"Back then?" Daijiro parroted.
His dad nodded and turned to face him.
"You were six at the time. Something similar to the news just now happened here in Japan. A bunch of kids came down with a virus that caused an unknown illness. Yoriko and I were really worried. They stopped talking about it pretty quickly though."
Yoriko was the name of Daijiro's dearly departed mother. Eventually, the news report about the outbreak in America ended and they started talking about sports. Daijiro's dad calmly stood up.
"That sobered me up somehow. Sorry, but take care of the DVD, would you?"
His dad dropped the remote and a 500 yen note into Daijiro's hand, then started off toward his own room.
"It's not just loose change for once!? Wait...weren't you gonna tell me about the best scenes, Oyaji!?
"If you don't leave soon, the store'll close."
Daijirou shifted his gaze from his dad's receding, hand-waving silhouette to the clock. It was past 11 PM.
He didn't even have an hour before the store closed. Daijirou threw on a nearby jacket and hurried out of the house. Dropping the rental bag into the front basket of the family's granny bike, he strained at the pedals.
The wheels of the bike reminded Daijirou of his peaceful, boring everyday life. They continued straight ahead, round and round, with no end or change in sight. He would come home from school, play games, read manga, take a bath, give himself a hand, and then sleep. Every day followed roughly the same pattern.
He sighed. "......I was hoping something would change when I became a second year."
The brightly lit sign of the rental store came into view.
Daijirou glided into the store's parking lot and left the granny bike in a nearby rack. He continued to think idle thoughts as he walked through the automatic doors and made his way toward the return register.
Even if it wasn't to the same degree as that flashy Ryou guy, shouldn't he be more proactive about working toward his goals? It could be something as simple as joining a club or committee at school. Finding a new hobby and going out more could work too.
Anything worked, as long as he didn't have to spend another day just sitting in the corner talking with Kuroudo, watching the popular kids enjoy the springtime of their youths.
His desire for that ideal youth swelled, and with no place to go, it fluttered about inside him.
"Hm? This is—"
After he arrived at the register, Daijirou pulled the receipt out of the rental bag and glanced over it to make a final check. The due date for the rental was the next day.
"Um, can I help you? Would you like to make a return?"
Seeing the store clerk offer her hand, Daijirou quickly shook his head and stepped away from the counter.
"......Damn Oyaji, asking me to return treasure before it's been enjoyed to the end."
Daijirou grumbled, but a smile crept over his face. If the due date was tomorrow, he could enjoy it as much as he wanted after his sister went to sleep tonight.
"Might as well take a peek over there, right?"
His determination to change his life forgotten, a happy Daijirou headed for the corner of the store separated by a pink curtain.
Daijirou's feet paused midstride. A small figure with their hoodie drawn up around their head stood in the old Western4 movie section just before the pink corner. The figure took a single movie from the shelf and looked around warily, checking for prying eyes.
—Was this person trying to rent something pervy?
Curious, Daijirou continued to observe the figure. Just when he thought they'd begun reading the synopsis on the back of the packaging, they looked around again and returned the movie to its place on the shelf.
The person reached for another movie higher up. Their hood fell back a little in the process, revealing the side of their face.
That's when Daijirou realized the person was a girl.
—She was......pretty cute, too.
The girl looked up from the packaging and their eyes met.
Even though he knew he should turn away like he did after the panty flash earlier in the day, Daijirou dared not to. Since the moment he'd seen the side of her face, he'd known he had to see the front.
As soon as he got a clear look at her charming features, Daijirou was sure that he'd made the right decision.
Two big eyes stared into his, and he felt his heart being stolen away. She hesitated for a few seconds before haltingly approaching him.
His heart was trying to hammer its way out of his chest.
For a second, Daijirou thought she must have a friend standing behind him or something. But he could tell that her brilliant gaze was focused on him alone.
She was right in front of him before he knew what was going on. He hardly even had the time to get flustered.
Her delicate lips opened like a blooming flower and a clear voice sprang forth.
"I'd like to ask you for a favor, if that's okay......"
From this distance, her cuteness was even more apparent. Daijirou's pulse kicked up a notch.
"Would you be so kind as to allow me to rent this movie using your membership card?" She asked quietly, gesturing at the packaging that she'd been holding onto.
Seeing Daijirou's blank stare, she began explaining a little anxiously.
"I-in order to rent this movie, I need a card proving that I'm a member here, correct? I just happened to, uuhhm, forget to bring my card today."
It was a reasonable explanation for her sudden request.
The store would close in about 20 minutes. Depending on the distance to her house, it probably wasn't possible for her to go home and make it back in time.
"Would that......be okay? I would pay for it, of course."
The girl peered at him uncertainly. Daijirou was finding it difficult to answer.
It was pretty suspicious that a cute girl would ask him for a favor out of the blue. Was it some kind of scam, or some other shady thing? Daijirou had just begun to cast a doubtful gaze in the girl's direction when another possibility came to mind.
He'd never had an experience like this before, but if their genders were swapped in this situation, then wouldn't it resemble a very common, everyday event?
In short: guys picking up girls.
—Could this possibly – just maybe – be her way of hitting on him?
Arriving at this interpretation, Daijirou's suspicions evaporated in an instant.
He took another look at the hooded girl's face. Her features were delicate. The bridge of her nose traced an elegant arc and her lips reminded him of a flower bud, small and faintly pink. And he could get lost in those eyes.
When Daijirou first saw her, she'd been expressionless, giving him the impression that she was a little severe. But as soon as she'd started talking, her expression had softened. He couldn't be completely sure, but she looked a little shy at the moment.
"Yes!!" Daijirou answered far too loudly.
The girl's eyes widened a bit at his sudden reply.
Daijirou hurriedly explained himself. "Ah. Uhh. What I meant to say is that I wouldn't mind doing such a small favor......"
As he trailed off, Dajirou became keenly aware of how little immunity he had developed to girls. It was probably because he went to an all-boys high school, but even this ordinary conversation was taking a toll on him.
"Is, is it really okay!? Thank you so much."
The girl beamed a bright smile from under her hood.
Heart skipping a beat, Daijirou was forced to avert his gaze.
—Sh-she was too cute......
Hoping that she couldn't hear his nervous gulp, Daijirou took the DVD from her hands.
"The rental period for older movies is 7 nights and 8 days, but I think that I could probably finish watching it tonight." The girl said thoughtfully, placing her forefinger on her chin. "In that case......would it be too much trouble to ask you to meet me here at the same time tomorrow?"
"Uh, uhm......tomorrow is– wait, what!?"
The girl's shoulders jumped upon seeing Daijirou's surprise.
"So-sorry? Did I say something strange?"
—She was already trying to arrange another meeting......!?
Daijirou swiftly turned away from her to think things over.
As demonstrated by the fact that he'd come here to return a DVD that his dad had rented, this store allowed anyone to make returns. In other words, this girl could return the DVD on her own after she finished watching it. So why would she bother asking to meet up with him again?
—Like he'd thought......could this really be her way of picking him up?
Daijirou's eyes very nearly started welling up with tears. He had never dared to dream this day would come. He fervently thanked the good luck that had begun with the panty flash this morning.
"I-it wasn't strange at all! Not one little, tiny bit strange at all! I'll rent it. Let's go rent it. Yup. And then let's meet again tomorrow!!"
"Thank you for your help, and please take care of me."
The girl inclined her head slightly, making a tiny bow.
Daijirou was really glad that he'd listened to his dad and come to the store tonight. Even though he had yet to put any effort toward becoming popular with the opposite sex, his popular period had started anyway. Silently rejoicing at this latest event, he headed for the register.
"H-here's your DVD."
Daijirou offered the rental bag to the girl as soon as they left the building.
A middle-aged woman entered the store as if she were trading places with them. There was a small dog leashed to a pillar near the door. It wagged its tail furiously as it watched them.
The girl grasped the rental bag with both hands, staring at it the entire time. It wasn't really that rare an object, was it?
The girl looked up just as the thought occurred to him.
"I've always wanted to see this movie."
The DVD that she'd rented was titled Chiisana Koi no Melody5. To summarize the contents, it depicted a bittersweet first love between a boy and girl.
Daijirou had seen the movie before. It had been one of his mom Yoriko's favorite movies before she passed away, and she would often rewatch it.
The girl looked back at the rental bag and gazed at it tenderly.
"I remember seeing it once when I was really small, but I could never remember what it was called. I finally learned the title when I found it in there." The girl put the bag into the pocket of her hoodie. "I'm so glad," she murmured.
Daijirou gazed at the side of her face, barely visible under her hood.
"I know that movie too. I watched it when I was a kid."
"No way! Even though it's such an old movie!?"
It seemed like Daijirou's remark had surprised her quite a bit. Her cheeks flushed a little as she pressed toward him in her excitement.
"Why!? Where did you see it?"
Daijirou hadn't expected her to respond so energetically. His heart started pounding at the sight of the girl's face so close to his own.
"It was one of my mom's favorite movies."
"Is that so! That's amazing!"
At that point, Daijirou couldn't stand it anymore and took a step back. The girl was still somewhat excited.
"I think your mother and I could have a lot of fun talking about movies! No, I know it!"
"Ah, my mom uh, has already passed away—"
"Ah! ......I'm so sorry."
"D-don't worry about it!! It's been a long time since it happened." Daijirou added frantically, seeing her cute smile cloud over. "I-if you want to talk about movies, I watch them every now and then."
The girl, who had cast her gaze down after apologizing, slowly looked up again.
"Is that so? Uhm, if you have any movies that you would like to recommend, please tell me. I want to see all kinds of films."
"Are genres like horror and action okay too?"
"Definitely. If your mother liked movies, then I'm sure you know some hidden masterpieces."
She seemed to have a pretty high opinion of him.
"Uh, uhm......you don't have to keep speaking so politely you know?
The girl considered Daijirou's suggestion for a moment, then she smiled softly.
"I unders– Got it. I'll do that."
Daijirou felt like the distance between them had shortened just by hearing her take a more casual tone.
—Maybe if he had a girlfriend it would feel a little like this.
"By the way, about your bag—" She pointed at the rental bag in his hand. "What did you rent?"
Daijirou froze. "It's an adult video." As if he could say that!
Of course, the object in his bag was still the volume of the Magic Mirror series that his dad had asked him to return.
"......An action movie with cars......I guess?"
There was a lot of action inside of cars, so he wasn't technically lying.
"Maybe I'll rent that one next."
"Yup. I haven't really seen too many action movies involving cars."
"T-this is part of a series! I think it'd be best if you started from the first one!!"
Not that Daijirou had seen the first volume of the Magic Mirror series himself. But then again, she was asking for movie suggestions, not AVs, so his advice was probably sound.
"That's too bad......"
It seemed like he had successfully sidelined the idea.
"Well, I guess I'll just have to start the series from the beginning tomorrow."
She was more stubborn than he'd thought.
"N-nah! There are other movies that're way better! This one isn't really worth watching!!"
She had finally given up. Daijirou wiped the sweat off his forehead.
Arriving at the bike rack, he stuffed the rental bag into the front basket and gripped the granny bike's handles.
"I-it's about time we headed home!" Daijirou had decided that it would be best to retreat before he dug his own grave any further. As he took a step forward, a question occurred to him. He turned back to the girl.
"Oh right, where do you live?"
"Ah. Since it's late at night and all, I figured it might be dangerous if you lived far away."
"I'll be fine," the girl responded without a trace of concern. She broke into a smile. "You were worrying about me, weren't you? You're a kind person."
Seeing her smile, Daijirou's heart skipped another beat. He appeared to have lost the ability to speak properly.
His mom and sister were pretty much the only women he'd ever had a proper conversation with since he'd been born, so Daijirou was finding it hard to grasp exactly how he should act with this girl.
On the other hand, she seemed pretty used to dealing with guys. Daijirou was starting to think she must have a boyfriend.
"Ah. Over there—" The girl pointed toward the parking lot.
Daijirou looked over and spotted a dog walking across the asphalt, leash dragging on the ground. It was the small dog that had been tied next to the store's entrance.
"Ah–......I guess they didn't tie the leash tightly enough." Daijirou dismounted his bike reluctantly. He walked over to the dog and bent to pick up the leash—
The dog suddenly barked and ran for the road. Daijirou's hand grasped empty air. By the time he recovered, the dog was already out of the parking lot.
"Wan!" Out of nowhere, headlights appeared and illuminated the dog as it shot into the road. As the lights swept over it, the dog froze, paralyzed by fear.
It was definitely going to get run over. Definitely. The dog must have thought so too. But instead,
All of a sudden, a weight fwoomped onto Daijirou's face and everything went dark. The impact sent him reeling back, forcing him onto the ground. Wondering what had just happened, he placed his hands on the thing now sitting on his face.
The object he was holding was the dog that had been in the road a second ago. Daijirou was still in the parking lot. Somehow the dog had flown over, and into his face at that.
The middle-aged woman from earlier happened to come out of the store at that moment. Seeing her, the dog kicked off of Daijirou's body and ran over.
"H-how!? It was just in the road—"
He still didn't have the faintest clue what had happened. By his estimate, he was at least 5 meters away from where the dog had been. Now matter how you sliced it, it wasn't the kind of distance that a dog could cover in an instant.
"—Hey." The girl called as Daijirou was trying to stand up. At some point she had come to stand next to him. "What's your name?"
The girl finally lowered her hood and slowly shook her head. Her long hair appeared to sparkle as it danced under the combined light of the moon and streetlamps.
Captivated by the sight, Daijirou somehow managed to squeeze his name out.
"I'm Koharu. Haijima Koharu."
Looking down at Daijirou, Koharu flashed a smile, then jogged toward the sidewalk.
She turned around abruptly.
"Tomorrow at the same time! It's a promise! Daijirou!!"
She gave him a big wave goodbye and ran off.
It was the first time he'd been called that by someone of the opposite sex that wasn't related to him.
His name had always felt like the most ordinary thing in the world, but hearing a girl he'd just met use it made it sound amazingly exotic.
What a mysterious girl, Daijirou thought.
* * *
—She...she talked to a boy!!
Koharu's heart was still pounding as she neared the sloping road that led up the mountain. She couldn't stop running. After leaving Daijirou, her excitement just wouldn't settle down; she felt like she could run to the ends of the Earth.
She had thought that the cause of her excitement was the rush of adrenaline that came from breaking the school regulations regarding going outside without permission. But it was more than that.
Koharu finally ran out of breath halfway up the mountain road and came to a stop, her chest heaving. The road was paved pitch-black by the darkness of the night. Other than her, it was deserted.
—Was that boy still thinking about her?
When she recalled Daijirou's face, something swelled up deep in her heart.
—The first time.....it was the first time......she'd talked to a boy......
The moment she thought that, her heart started beating even faster.
—What was this......this feeling?
His kind sounding voice still reverberated in her ears.
—Her body was really......really burning up.
Could this be what people called falling in love at first sight? Koharu wondered.
As soon as she was conscious of that thought, all the energy fled from her body.
Wrapping her arms around herself, Koharu knelt down and released a long sigh.
There were really no words to describe the feeling that she had met the boy who might be her soul mate. Filled with a sense of happiness, she crouched there for a while, soaking in the echoes of that feeling.
Koharu had no idea how long she stayed like that.
Slowly standing up, she finally regained her composure and began walking.
Eventually, the building at the peak of the mountain – Sukiyanagi Academy – gradually came into view. Even in the dead of the night, two guards still patrolled the academy's grounds, with two more on standby inside the security room that sat by the main gate.
Koharu circled the gate, making toward the back. She soon left the pavement behind and crossed into the forest. She skirted the edge of the three meter high outer wall until she came to a thick patch of vegetation. She plunged in.
"......Here it is." Koharu had come to a stop in front of a web of cracks that ran about 50 centimeters up and spanned roughly 80 centimeters wide. She furtively extended her hands toward the wall, and the web of cracks expanded with a quiet noise of rock scraping against rock. The mass of concrete began to split into multiple pieces, each floating into the air.
Some time later, all the fragments had been cleared from the wall. What was left behind was a tunnel, looking very much like those mouse holes that you see in Manga all the time.
Koharu passed through the tunnel that had formed and turned around. She pointed her hands at the fragments that still hung in the air. As she did, the fragments floated into the void they had left in the wall, fitting back together like puzzle pieces. When she was done, the tunnel was sealed and the web of cracks had returned.
Koharu paused and took a deep breath. And then she ran.
She had memorized the position of every single security camera in the academy. She used that knowledge to her advantage, gliding through dead spots, making sure not to drop her guard as she dashed across the ground with stealthy footsteps.
Once she reached the two story tall dorms, Koharu directed her hands at the window of a first floor bathroom. The lock opened with a click and the window opened of its own accord.
Koharu faced the open window and leapt off the ground. She grabbed onto the windowsill, clambering through, pushing up the wall with her feet.
Next came the hallway. She opened the bathroom door and poked her head out, surveying the corridor beyond. After checking that no one was around, she sprinted all the way to her room and swiftly slipped inside.
".......Welcome back, Koharu-chan."
".......Tami. Did I wake you?"
In the dark, the girl named Tami sat up in her bed on the top bunk.
Koharu tossed the rental bag onto her own bed at the bottom.
"I was worried because you were out later than yester—"
"It's okay. No one spotted me. I'll be counting on you tomorrow too, okay Tami?"
"What, you're going again tomorrow!?" Tami nearly shouted in surprise.
Koharu looked at Tami and put an index finger to her lips.
"Shh!! ......You're being a little loud."
"Eh! Ah......I'm, sorry......"
"You should sleep. Staying up late is hard for you, right?"
Tami nodded and slid back under the covers.
Koharu watched Tami disappear back into the darkness, then got into her own bed. Crawling under the covers, she picked up the portable player next to her pillow. Tami spoke up again as Koharu was pulling the DVD out of the rental bag.
Koharu looked up at the sound of Tami's voice.
"What's wrong? Hurry and sleep."
"It'll be the third time tomorrow, you know.....? How long are you planning to keep this up?"
Earbuds in hand, Koharu thought for a moment. "Until I get tired of it, maybe."
But Koharu had no idea when that time would come. "Good night," she said, cutting off any further conversation. Then she pushed the play button.
* * *
Daijirou, returning home with rental bag in hand, got into the bath right away. He holed up in his room while he was still drying his hair with a towel.
Her alluring, faintly colored lips. The swell of her chest, noticeable even under the hoodie that had hidden her curves. Her soft looking cheeks. Her smallish, shapely butt that he'd seen as she was leaving.
He accessed the files that he'd unconsciously saved into his mental ero-folder. After mulling it over for some time, he gave his head a big shake.
"N-no, I can't! I'm not using the girl I just met as fap material."
Besides, if it was fap material he was looking for, he had some right here. Daijirou removed the DVD that he hadn't returned from the rental bag. He opened the door a crack to make sure that his dad and sister were fast asleep. Satisfied, he slid it closed again and switched the TV on.
Daijirou pulled the tissue box over and plopped himself down in front of the TV, then put his earbuds on. He put the disc into the player, and unable to suppress his impatience, pushed the play button.
* * *
"Ahhn!! Ah, ah!!"
As the woman's moans played through Koharu's earbuds, the woman's enormous breasts bounced up and down before her eyes.
"Look, everyone might've noticed what we're up to over here, y'know?"
Snuggled under the covers, Koharu had completely forgotten the existence of the stop button. On the screen of her portable player, a man and a woman were surrounded by magic mirrors in what seemed to be a truck. They were thrusting their hips together furiously.
The woman, who had resisted at first, was now moaning loudly while bouncing on top of the man of her own volition.
The man panted. "Ahh right there......haah, aahh, here, here I come!!"
"Ah, ah, me too!! Me too, aaahhhhhhnn!! I'm coomiiiiiing!!"
Koharu's face blazed hotter than she'd ever felt it burn in her entire life.
* * *
Music by The Bee Gees played over the earbuds. Still naked from the waist down, Daijirou covered his face with both hands.
"Could it be that I'm actually pretty perverted?"
Age: 16 years old
Height: 170 centimeters
Blood type: Type A
Birthday: August 3rd
The protagonist. He's extremely fond of erotic things, and often forgets himself in his excitement. Nevertheless, he believes that his degree of perversion is much lower than it actually is. Perversion aside, a pretty normal guy. He's average in both schooling and sports. A virgin.
He uses "ware", a more formal, often literary, form of I. ↩
A masculine way to refer to one's dad or elderly male. Sometimes translated as old man. ↩
Yup, physical video rental is still a thing in Japan. A rental bag is pretty self-explanatory, but it's like those reusable bags a lot of us take to grocery stores now, but meant for rented materials. ↩
As in from the Western world/Occident, not the genre of westerns. ↩
The Japanese onomatopoeia for a dog's bark. If you're questioning why I didn't write woof, just look around at all the nyaa-ing on the internet. ↩