[Not only can I not thank you, but for whatever reason, I hate Mom for uttering those awful, awful words.…… I don’t even want to think that I have the same blood in my veins as you.]
When I said that, my mother looked at me as if in utter shock. It was as though she hadn’t even remotely expected me to say such a thing, or to hear those words coming from me. Despite the guilt I felt, there was a sense of satisfaction that I had said it rather than a sense of wrongdoing.
But… Towa-kun moved to help my mother.
[I’ll go too. Ayana’s mother may not think highly of me, but she’s still your mother, and that’s reason enough to help her. Ayana, stay here.]
Towa-kun didn’t know about the terrible things my mother had said, but he knew she didn’t have a good opinion of him. Even so, Towa-kun, being kind as he is, didn’t hesitate to help my mother. Despite being told to wait, I couldn’t help but act and kick the man in his vulnerable spot.
[Get lost already.]
I was desperate, and that’s why such strong words came naturally to me. I had kept it hidden all this time, but for the first time, I showed it in front of Towa-kun, my mother, and my classmate. To be honest, I felt more embarrassed than relieved for doing it, but there was still a little sense of relief.
If asked whether I liked or disliked my mother, I could firmly say that I disliked her. She had raised me, and I knew she had been through a lot due to my father’s infidelity and the subsequent divorce. But Towa-kun was far more important to me than any of those things!
“Hey there! What’s Ayana-chan thinking about?”
Was it because I was lost in thought that Akemi-san, who had somehow appeared behind me, embraced me. Not only did she embrace me, but she also started massaging my bre*sts without reservation.
“Ah, Akemi-san! I’m washing dishes right now!”
“Well, then, let’s stop for a bit and have some quality time together~.”
“If I stop, it’ll never end!”
I said so in a slightly raised voice, and Akemi-san pouted and backed away.
I’m the one who needs to be sulked like that…. but since she’s also Towa’s mother and my favorite person too, Akemi-san’s appearance like this is also very cute and adorable, a gap from her usual appearance.
(I wanted to take a bath with Towa-kun…)
When I come to Towa-kun’s house, I want to be by his side as much as possible. I’d even say I’d want that in any place except the bathroom. Is that normal?
I tried to convince myself, and I expected to be able to sleep next to him at night.
I thought I was quite a maiden, I suppose.
I was a bit intoxicated, so I resumed household chores in place of Akemi-san.
“Ayana-chan, are you really okay with not helping out?”
“I’m fine. You’ve already prepared the meal, so let me do this.”
“Hmm… Ayana-chan, you might be the only one who can save Towa from becoming a useless human. He should be careful, don’t you think?”
I’d welcome Towa-kun becoming a “useless” person if that means he’ll never leave my side, and I’ll have to take care of him. Isn’t that the best future plan?
“Well, I think Towa would never let himself become a ‘useless’ person, though.”
Akemi-san laughed heartily.
I completely agreed with her opinion. Towa-kun would never let himself rely on others entirely. If he had any troubles, he would share them, and if he was worried, he would seek advice.
“…No, it’s nothing.”
I suddenly changed my expression, and Akemi-san noticed.
I put on my best smile, as if to dispel her suspicion, but she continued to stare at me while sipping her beer.
I felt a little uneasy.
Towa-kun shares his troubles, and he interacts with me at school. This was something I realized through recent events.
Not just Towa-kun but also Shu-kun said the same thing to me. They said it seemed like I was really enjoying my interactions with them, and that they sensed my happiness from it.
“…I had fun… I enjoyed those interactions…”
I had to admit it. When I was interacting with them, I felt a sense of enjoyment. Even though they should have been nothing more than stage props to make Shu-kun despair, that perception hadn’t changed.
(If that’s the way it should be, but why ……?)
I stopped washing the dishes, shook my head, and thought, “I’m wrong, I’m wrong.”
Doing this could make Towa-kun worry when he returns from the bath, just like at the café, and I’d make him uncomfortable again. I don’t want that. I always want Towa-kun to see me with a smile on my face!
My hand, which had been washing dishes, was tightly held by Akemi-san.
It wasn’t the Akemi-san who had been drinking beer contentedly a moment ago. Now she was standing beside me, looking at me seriously.
“I know I handed it over to you earlier, but I’ll take care of the rest. Ayana-chan, take a break.”
“Take a break.”
Uh, it’s not like I meant that, but I was genuinely scared by her serious stare.
I entrusted the remaining dishes to Akemi-san and sat down where Akemi-san had been sitting before. I kept an eye on her. Well, she is drunk now.
“I’ve been briefly hearing about what happened from Towa. You really said something quite bold, didn’t you?”
I hadn’t told Towa-kun not to talk to anyone about it, and, more than that, it was very unusual for him to stay overnight on a day when we had school the next day. So it was quite natural for him to talk to Akemi-san for that reason.
But personally, I didn’t want Akemi-san to know. I didn’t want to be thought of as barbaric or mean, and I didn’t want to leave a bad impression. It could affect my future, you know!
“Um… Was I too harsh?”
“Well, let’s see… If Towa said the same thing to me, I think I’d rather die.”
I looked down, feeling downcast, and Akemi-san smiled wryly.
Just as she finished washing the dishes, she wiped her hands and took mine.
“Shall we move to the sofa? That way, I can hold you more closely, Ayana-chan.”
Oh, it suddenly feels ominous… Towa-kun, please come back soon!
I can just imagine Towa-kun right now, relaxing in the bath with the perfect water temperature.
As soon as I sat down on the sofa, Akemi-san embraced me firmly, and the smell of alcohol stung my nostrils.
“I’m sorry about the alcohol smell.”
“No, I’m sure it bothers you, but it’s okay. It’s Akemi-san, after all.””
“If I get that ‘It can’t be helped’ look, I feel like I should distance myself suddenly.”
“Fufu, no worries!”
It’s natural to be concerned about the smell, but Akemi-san’s pleasant scent was also mixed in. Plus, I liked it when Akemi-san held me like this. I hugged her back tightly.
“You’re really cute, Ayana-chan.”
With that, Akemi-san patted my head, and I couldn’t help but recall my childhood. I used to be comforted like this by my mom. It felt like I had experienced that a lot, especially before I met Towa-kun.
But even with that past in mind, I couldn’t help but think:
“How happy would I be if Akemi-san were my mom?”
I let slip such words without even using polite language. Akemi-san might be at a loss when hearing those words out of the blue, but I had genuinely spoken them.
After a brief silence, Akemi-san spoke up.
“Ayana-chan, I’m sure you’re carrying something heavy.”
“I don’t know what that is. No matter how much I try to express it in words, I doubt you’ll tell me.”
That was a painful thing to hear. I considered myself good at hiding my true self. Neither Shu-kun, his mom, Hatsune-san, Kotone-chan, nor anyone else really knew the real me. So I thought I was good at concealing myself. But Towa-kun and Akemi-san saw through it immediately.
“Still, I have a feeling you’ll be okay.”
Akemi-san gazed at me with a gentle look in her eyes as I raised my head.
Despite her flashy appearance that could intimidate some people, she was a genuinely kind mom when looking at me.
“Because Towa is by your side. I’m sure he’d rescue you no matter what situation you’re in… I have that kind of confidence.”
“Yeah. And of course, it’s not just Towa. I’m always ready to lend a helping hand. So, Ayana-chan, always remember that you’re not alone. Keep in your heart the fact that there’s always someone you can rely on.”
Ah… those words are comforting. Yes, I will keep them in my heart.
But all of that can come after everything’s over—then, I’ll decide to rely on Towa-kun. Once you’re assured that there’s no longer anyone to hurt you, it’ll be safe to feel that way.
“…May I be a bit spoiled right now?”
I buried my face in Akemi-san’s chest, and just as I said, I indulged myself for a while.
“I’m back~! Mom, you’re really spoiling Ayana, aren’t you?”
“Ara, welcome back, Towa.”
“Welcome back, Towa. Umm… I got a bit spoiled.”
Shortly after, Towa-kun came out of the bath… and, well, I apologize for the rather eccentric choice of words, but the way he dried his hair with a towel, with his cheeks flushed, was rather sensual, and it made my heart race.
“Ayana-chan is giving off a scent of mating!”
“W-What are you talking about?!”
It’s fine for me to flirt with Towa-kun on my own… but to have it noticed and pointed out by his mother, Akemi-san, was embarrassing enough to make me want to disappear on the spot.
“What are you talking about…? Ayana, go take your bath.”
Towa-kun probably sensed that I was feeling embarrassed, so he kindly urged me to go to the bath. I nodded in agreement and quickly stood up.
“Ayana seems like a guest, huh? There are some pajamas and underwear placed here. I forgot because it’s too common.”
“Fufu, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.”
Thanks to the kindness of Towa-kun and Akemi-san, I have several sets of underwear and pajamas stored here, so I can have a spontaneous overnight stay like today without any problems
“Well then, I’ll be going.”
“Have a safe trip.”
Just before leaving the living room, I overheard Towa-kun being pestered by Akemi-san, and it was quite amusing. With a chuckle, I headed to the changing room and undressed before entering the bathroom.
While taking a warm shower and feeling the water on my head, I suddenly glanced at the mirror.
For a moment, I felt like there was someone behind me, wearing a black hood.
Bathrooms are generally places where you relax and let your guard down, so I was startled and quickly turned around. However, there was no one there, and I wondered if I had just imagined it.
But I definitely saw it, clear as day. The face concealed beneath the black hood was probably… mine. It had eyes filled with an endless sense of despair, as if seeking help from someone. I felt like I was looking at myself.
“…Is it because I’m tired?”
Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising if I were tired after everything that had happened today. I was lost in thought for a while, but then hurried to clean myself up because Akemi-san would also need to use the bath later.
By the time I soaked in the tub, I had forgotten about the strange vision I had seen earlier. When I got out of the bath, I was thinking about what Towa-kun and I would do next.
It seemed like my thought processes significantly deteriorated when it came to Towa-kun.
“Fufu, this is love, right?”
Yes, it’s all because of love! No matter what anyone says, it’s because of love!
I made a strong fist inside the bathtub, and I spent my time in the bath healing and thinking only about Towa-kun.