[Hihara Karen PoV]
I ended up making a massive cooking disaster and served frozen food to everyone, showing my complete lack of domestic skills. Although everyone ate it with an “it can’t be helped” expression, I felt like my face was on fire. There’s no denying that my wife potential compared to Kohaku’s is lacking. I was aware of this. That’s precisely why I’ve been putting in effort every day to compensate, but things haven’t been going as smoothly as I’d hoped, not as seamlessly as in those isekai novels. Things don’t always fall into place smoothly.
Damn it, if only I hadn’t watched that anime… Regretting it now won’t help. Even when it’s hard to face forward, I have no choice but to do so. The gap between me and Kohaku is widening. That cute and manipulative junior of mine has been getting more physically close lately. She pats his shoulder when calling his name, whispers near his ear in a pseudo-megaphone fashion, brushes her hair behind her ear in a seductive manner right in front of Izayoi, raises her voice by a couple of tones when speaking to him, and she seems to favor outfits that accentuate her bodyline at home! How much more does she need to do to satisfy herself? She might look like an angel, but I’m pretty sure she’s harboring some devilish thoughts. There’s a reason behind every action, nothing is meaningless; she’s systematically working her way forward.
We had mutually agreed to put aside any romantic competition, considering we both had been in dual relationships. That was my belief. Yes, this is the point. We haven’t been as tense lately, and actually, we’ve been getting along well. Being close and taking care of each other seemed to have solidified in our minds, and we weren’t overtly competing for his attention, so I let my guard down.
But now, I need to take some action. I don’t think Izayoi will start disliking me or stop caring for me, but the difference between the one who keeps making efforts and the one who doesn’t might become evident somewhere along the line.
So, I have no choice but to step up my game. Izayoi isn’t dense, so my intentions are likely to be easily understood, which is a fantastic advantage. However, this also applies to Kohaku. Half-hearted efforts won’t make a significant impact.
On the other hand, I don’t want to be too aggressive due to my tsundere tendencies, which will result in being super embarrassed and making weird statements. So, ideally, I want to avoid that.
Which means… Wait, am I in trouble? Could I become a sub-heroine or be sidelined from the main plot? No, no, that’s not acceptable, absolutely not.
It’s embarrassingly mortifying, but I have to do something…
I headed to the bathroom for my final preparations before going to my bedroom. I always decide to be the last one to take a bath; I don’t want to put them in the bathwater after a guy has been in there. There’s no personal reason for it, of course. Now, this is my precious alone time. Since I sleep alone upstairs, I spend the night in a separate room from them. Occasionally, I hear laughter from the downstairs Japanese-style room, which only adds to my feeling of solitude.
Under the moonlight, I thought I would go to sleep alone, but when I got to my bed, there was a futon on top, and someone was inside it.
— A premonition, a good one.
I took the futon away, and inside was an otherworldly beauty, the ultimate tsundere.
“Ah, uhm, you see? This is a-about global warming prevention, or, well, there are too many people on Earth, and it causes global warming, so, that’s why I’m here, it’s not for personal reasons!”
Oi oi, she’s too cute. Since she didn’t tie her hair, she has a different kind of cuteness this time. In short, she’s cute, but I have to consider the “gap moe” too. She’s not just cute; she’s transcendentally cute, and I might become emotionally unstable, but let’s handle this like an adult.
“Ah, I-I see.”
“S-So that’s right! S-So, don’t get the wrong idea! Th-This is for the sake of the Earth!”
“I see. If it’s for the Earth, then it can’t be helped…”
“Yeah, that’s right. It can’t be helped…”
So, we ended up sharing the same bed, but… we were both turned away from each other, and there wasn’t much conversation. What should I do? What should I say? It seemed like she was aware of the awkward atmosphere created by our inability to talk, so she spoke up.
“H-hey, say something.”
“Uh, what did you have for breakfast?”
“We ate together, remember?”
Damn it, I’m such a chicken for getting stuck in a situation like this.
“Talking over our backs like this is awkward, right? I mean, I don’t really want to talk or anything, but I’m trying to be considerate… So, let’s face each other.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
I could hear her soft voice from behind me. Even though I couldn’t see her, I knew she was embarrassed. It’s pathetic that I got her to say these things. While turning around to face her, our eyes met…
Bathed in the moonlight, she was like a concept of the world itself. Her presence was so significant that it felt like the world existed for her.
With her fiery eyes and long eyelashes, she was incredibly attractive, making it hard to breathe.
“Come on, say something more.”
“Yesh, so, any anime recommendations for this season?”
“Right… This season has that one, and, you know…”
It seemed like she forgot what she wanted to say, making the situation even more awkward. I had to say something clever… I needed to step up and liven the conversation.
“Karen, you’re cute!”
“W-what! That has nothing to do with what we were talking about earlier! You need to have a proper conversation! This isn’t dodgeball!”
“Will you go out with me?”
“Why are you suddenly bringing that up?! You don’t have to force your enthusiasm! It’s fine like this!”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, for now… Just being like this… I…”
I could predict the continuation of her words. If I was wrong, I’d be a really creepy guy, but…
“So, even if it’s awkward, it’s okay… You don’t have to force anything, it’s fine like this.”
With that, we continued our somewhat stumbling conversation. We couldn’t come up with perfect responses or witty remarks, but it was still enjoyable. There was a time when I wished I could talk to her like this. Just being able to have this conversation made me feel like a lucky person.
And as more time passed…
“It’s about time to sleep, right? We have school tomorrow.”
Certainly, staying up too late wouldn’t be good for her skin. Humans experience their most growth during sleep, and that time had already passed. As reluctant as it was, it was time to sleep. But I couldn’t help but feel excited and unable to sleep with her right next to me.
I closed my eyes, but I couldn’t sleep at all. Having Karen next to me was a pretty big deal, wasn’t it? I definitely wouldn’t be able to sleep, in more ways than one.
Then I heard her voice again. I had thought she was asleep.
“Hey, are you awake? Well, you’re probably asleep… Uhm, sorry for barging in like this.”
C-Crap, I could predict where this conversation was going. If I was wrong, I’d be incredibly weird, but…
“I kind of felt like I couldn’t lose to Kohaku, so I ended up doing this. I’m not really good at love stuff, but I thought I had to do something like this. But I ended up doing something so weird… I’m really hopeless, aren’t I? I’m sorry. I couldn’t even sum it up neatly for sleeping Izayoi.”
…She wasn’t at fault.
“You really don’t need to apologize.”
“Izayoi-senpai, you have nothing to apologize for!”
“Kyaaaaaa! You were awake!?”
I forcefully interrupted her apologetic speech, and I abruptly opened my eyes to express my feelings. After all, she believed I was asleep, so I shouldn’t have been listening to her thoughts. However, I couldn’t ignore her feelings even though I knew she thought I couldn’t hear her.
“From what part did you hear…..”
“I’m sorry, I heard everything, from when you said ‘Hey’ and everything!”
“Nyat did you say…”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have made you apologize.”
She didn’t need to apologize.
“I’m really happy. Having someone I like right beside me… That alone makes me happy. I have nothing but gains. So there’s no need for you to apologize. Even those frustrating, awkward moments were treasures to me, filled with your charm!”
“———–Ah… If If… if you say things like that, I’ll be embarrassed.”
“I’m serious, Karen-senpai! I love everything about you—your tsundere side, your roundabout way of doing things, your kindness, your otaku side, I love it all!”
“Ah… ahh… ahh…”
Oh no, did I go too far? My lines are so cheesy… I thought. She blushed and slowly hugged me.
“Just for today… because it’s a special day. I love Izayoi so much, so today, just for today, I’ll be your special hug pillow… Be grateful…”
“Yes, thank you so much. I’m really happy!”
“! Well, that’s good then. Be thankful for your good fortune…”
“Thank you. My good fortune!”
As she told me, I expressed my gratitude, and she let out a little chuckle.
“Mou, you idiot…but thanks for my good luck too …….’
She probably thought she said that quietly, but I heard it loud and clear. How precious.
[Hihara Karen PoV]
Question: Do I like this person? Answer: Yes, I do. I like them.
When I’m with Izayoi, just hearing his voice wraps my whole body in a sense of happiness. When he expresses his love, that happiness intensifies extraordinarily, and it becomes irresistibly pleasant. I find myself wanting more of his love, more of his attention, and my heart cries out for it.
I never thought I would develop feelings for a specific person like this. I had no interest in romance, didn’t want to look at anyone, and it all seemed irrelevant. But all those feelings vanished, and I fell in love.
I want more of Izayoi’s love. I want him to shower me with it. As I snuggle up to Izayoi beside me, that’s what I think.
“What is it?”
“You can’t sleep, can you?”
“Yes, and Senpai, too?”
“Should I play some soothing music from a video site?”
“No, it’s okay.”
I don’t care anymore. None of it matters. Whether it’s tsundere or two timing, all those things are irrelevant. All I want is for him to love me. At this moment, my mind is even less composed than usual. I’m aware of it.
Suddenly, my embarrassment and all those feelings were stripped away, and I simply wanted love. I wanted him to pour it into me.
“Izayoi, do you… have things you want to do?”
“You said something about wanting to be intimate, right?”
“Come to think of it, I did say that…”
“It’s okay, we can…”
“Eeh!? W-Why are you suddenly saying this!?”
Izayoi panicked and suddenly became like a child. Normally, under normal circumstances, I could never say something like this. But right now, my emotions are running at full throttle. It’s like what happens when you’re drunk, although I wouldn’t know since I’ve never drunk alcohol. The closest comparison would be this.
Izayoi seemed to be overwhelmed.
“Why, though? What about the two timing…”
“It doesn’t matter anymore. I just want your love, Izayoi, to pour it into me.”
“Uh, well, but…”
“What’s wrong? Why the sudden change of heart?”
“I-I don’t know what to do, I’m a little confused. ……
Suddenly, he became hesitant. It’s kind of cute how he’s vacillating between assertiveness and shyness. I changed my posture and sat on the bed, looking down at him. Even in the darkness, I could see Izayoi blushing.
“It’s not about what you should do; it’s about what you want to do.”
“…If it’s like that, then, I want to…”
“Then let’s do it.”
“Wha… Why are you so enthusiastic all of a sudden?”
“I’m in ‘awakening mode.'”
Izayoi also sat up, and we both faced each other on the bed.
“Uhm, are you serious?”
“Why are you suddenly okay with this?”
“Because I want you to love me more. That’s all.”
“I-Is that so… What should I do?”
He’s still feeling uncertain. It’s probably a gentle concern about whether it’s okay to proceed. At this rate, nothing will happen.
“Well, I guess it can’t be helped.”
I wrapped my arm around his neck, bringing our bodies closer together. I could feel his tension and rigidity. I whispered in his ear.
“Senpai will take the lead.”
“Ah, eh? Eeh!?”
He moved his body slightly, and Izayoi made a strange noise. I could sense his heartbeat, which had become significantly faster. As we held each other for a while, our heartbeats gradually synchronized.
Then, I pulled away slightly and locked eyes with him. His eyes still showed a hint of confusion. So, I smiled faintly and leaned in closer, probably to settle things. I had an intuitive feeling that if I kissed him now, he would respond.
Our lips got closer and closer…
Right before our lips touched, the bedroom door swung open with force. Both Izayoi and I froze, maintaining the extremely close distance but not proceeding further.
“I knew this was going to happen…”
It felt like winter, even in the middle of summer, as the room’s temperature plummeted. Standing there was my junior, Gindou Kohaku. Why would she be here at this late hour?
“Why do you look like you already knew? It’s just a hunch.”
“What do you mean?”
“I had a bad feeling, so I woke up. You weren’t next to me. So, I came to Izayoi’s room, and as expected…”
“Don’t ‘heh’ me! I had a strange feeling about this! You’re usually up late making a ruckus, starting anime reviews even when no one’s listening. It’s not like you to say you want to sleep early!”
“Kohaku, you’re quite the meddlesome junior.”
“I’m honored to receive your praise.”
Kohaku directed her angry glare at me, forcibly inserting herself between Izayoi and me, effectively destroying the atmosphere. She then leaned closer to Izayoi’s face, looking concerned as she started asking questions.
“Izayoi-kun, you haven’t done anything… intimate with Senpai, have you?”
“Uh… no, we haven’t…”
“You don’t seem to be lying… That’s a relief.”
Izayoi seemed a bit dazed, and Kohaku happily hugged him.
“Hey, stop hugging him.”
“Huh? What are you talking about? You’re the one acting like a seductress, Senpai.”
“Who’s a seductress?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Besides you, who else is here? Tonight, I’ll sleep with Izayoi-kun to protect him from the seductress.”
“I’m going to bed too.”
“Haa? After all that, you can say that?”
“Hmph, more importantly, Izayoi, are you okay?”
Izayoi was still in a daze, not fully aware. He was just staring into space. Kohaku held him tightly, and despite this, he didn’t react much.
“I-I’m back to my senses somehow! You two, fighting is not okay!!”
That’s a relief. He’s back to normal. And the first thing he says is that fighting is not okay…
“Let’s all sleep together! You two can sandwich me in the middle!”
So, I ended up on Izayoi’s right, with Kohaku on his left. Even in the darkness, I could see her movements. She pressed her voluptuous body against his. Izayoi fidgeted, as was the usual pattern. I also hugged him tightly, putting Izayoi in a sandwich situation.
“Aguu… um… I feel… happy…”
“If that’s the case, then I’m glad. Ehehe, I’m happy too.”
She seemed a bit embarrassed, yet she was getting closer to him. In the past, I would have been grinding my teeth and fuming with anger, but now I can be more bold.
“I’m happy too.”
“Izayoi-kun, please move away from that seductress over there.”
“Aren’t you the seductress who’s like that?”
Since it was nighttime, we were having a small argument in hushed voices. However, without saying anything, we both ended up clinging to Izayoi without resistance.
We were filled with a sense of happiness, so it was fine to continue like this. However, besides expressing happiness, Izayoi seemed to have other emotions. He had been flustered the whole time.
“Izayoi-kun, are you okay? You’re having trouble falling asleep.”
“I’m sorry. Don’t worry about it; you can go to sleep first… I’ll sleep once things have settled down…”
“If Izayoi-kun can’t sleep, then I won’t either! Let’s chat while cuddling!”
Kohaku occasionally displays a strange sort of airheadedness. Even though we’re cuddling, he can’t sleep… Would it be better if we moved away? But I don’t want to…
“Kuh, how can happiness turn into madness…”
“?? I’m not quite sure what you mean, but… I’m glad if it’s happiness.”
Since he mentioned wanting to be involved with both of us, I can’t just easily make a move. He probably doesn’t want to get physically intimate in an incomplete or ambiguous relationship. Izayoi is straightforward, so he probably wants to be in a perfect situation where he can love both of us openly. I could sense that. So, even in this perfect situation, I won’t do anything weird.
How many times have I felt my heart flutter with these feelings and his presence? Each time, I fell deeper in love, and our affection grew stronger…
“U-Um… I’m a bit thirsty, so I’ll go get some water!”
Izayoi jumped up and left the room, heading downstairs to quench his thirst, probably in the kitchen.
I was left alone with her.
“You’re surprisingly shameless, aren’t you? I was a bit caught off guard.”
“It’s just for tonight; I’m a bit tipsy. Tomorrow, I’ll be back to my usual shy self.”
“I’d like a detailed explanation of what part you’re shy…”
After talking with her for a while, Izayoi returned. With a Buddha-like expression on his face:
“Izayoi-kun, welcome back. Now, let’s sleep together in the same bed!”
“Hahaha, that sounds good.”
He suddenly transformed into a refreshing harem protagonist. Even when sandwiched between us, he didn’t show any embarrassment… No, he seems quite nervous. His body is tense, and his voice occasionally trembles. But he seems calmer than before.
“Izayoi-kun, you seem calmer. Did something happen?”
“No way, I’m always like this.”
“I see… I feel like you’re in some strange mode, but maybe that’s just my imagination!”
“Yes! Let’s spend the night together in a healthy way!”
“Hey now, you should say ‘let’s spend the night together just the two of us.'”
I wonder if Izayoi inherited some sort of refreshing genes?
“Senpai, let’s get even closer! And then, let’s go to sleep! Our beautiful skin will get rough!”
“Yes, that’s true… Good night…”
“Yes, good night.”
Afterward, both he and I fell into a peaceful slumber.