CSCP – Vol 1 Chapter 6 – Love Advice Often Leads to One Getting Carried Away

One day…

When I went to the student council room after school, Togami approached me with a big smile.

“You finally arrived, Gujou-san!” (Nadeshiko)

“What happened?” (Takaki)

“We’ve received a request for giving advice to a student in the suggestion box!” (Nadeshiko)

“Seriously?” (Takaki)

I glanced at Arisu, who was standing behind Togami, nodding while holding her smartphone.

“It’s true. We received a DM (direct message) on the student council’s social media account.” (Nadeshiko)

Apparently, it wasn’t a misunderstanding by Togami.

The student council has official accounts on various social media platforms. These are mainly used to announce school events, test periods, and information requested by the teachers to inform the student body.

The management of these accounts is handled by Arisu, as she is “the most familiar with social media among the student council members.” The DMs serve as an online version of the suggestion box.

In front of the student council room, there is the physical version of the suggestion box, but it seems that DMs are less intimidating for students.

That said, honestly, I didn’t expect to receive any requests from students so soon.

“Hmm, I didn’t expect we’d actually receive one.” (Misuzu)

It seemed Hourai-senpai felt the same way.

Togami, unaware of my mixed feelings about the increase in work, spoke to us with a big smile.

“So, everyone! The person seeking advice is scheduled to arrive in about ten minutes, so let’s give it our all!” (Nadeshiko)

Arisu and Hourai-senpai seemed reasonably enthusiastic. They were probably feeling a bit excited as well.

“Since they took the trouble to ask for advice, we have to do our best as the student council.” (Nadeshiko)

“Last year, we didn’t have many opportunities to listen to the general students, so this feels a bit refreshing.” (Misuzu)

“Well, if it’s an unreasonable request, we can just turn it down.” (Takaki)

“Ei!” (Arisu)

When I murmured without much enthusiasm, Arisu, with her keen hearing, lightly bonked me on the head.

Ten minutes later.

*knock knock*

A sound echoed from the door.

“Yes, come in!” (Nadeshiko)

“Um, this is the student council room, right?” (Student)

Following Togami’s enthusiastic response, a nervous girl appeared, opening the door slowly.

With short brown hair and slightly tanned skin, she gave off an active impression at first glance. Her toned physique hinted that she was a member of some sports club.

“Um, I sent a DM for advice. Is this the right place?” (Student)

“Yes, this is the student council room. Please have a seat on that sofa.” (Nadeshiko)

“Yes! Thank you!” (Student)

Togami gracefully gestured towards the sofa with a sweep of her hand. The female student politely bowed her head and sat down.

Togami took a seat opposite her, Hourai-senpai sat next to her, and Arisu stood behind the two. I decided to observe the discussion from a slightly distant spot by the wall.

“Firstly, nice to meet you, I am Togami Nadeshiko, the student council president. I have just been appointed not long ago, so there may be some areas where I fall short, but I hope I could still be of help.” (Nadeshiko)

Togami introduced herself in a pleasant voice that exuded gracefulness. Even knowing her true, clumsy nature, I couldn’t help but be captivated. The overly energetic vibe from earlier was gone, and her demeanor in dealing with people was perfect.

“I am Sena Akane, a first-year student. I’m part of the tennis club!” (Akane)

The girl who introduced herself as Sena sounded slightly nervous as she spoke.

Next, Hourai-senpai and Arisu introduced themselves.

“I’m Hourai Misuzu, a second-year and the student council vice president. Nice to meet you.” (Misuzu)

“I’m Yura, the student council treasurer. Just like Sena-san, I’m also a first year!” (Arisu)

“Oh, yes! Nice to meet you!” (Akane)

Looks like the entire student council was expected to introduce themselves. As I walked toward the sofa, I started to speak.

“And I’m the student council secretary…” (Takaki)

At that moment, Sena flinched. What was that about?

“Huh! You’re Gujou-san from Class B…!?” (Akane)

“Oh, do you know Takaki?” (Arisu)

Arisu asked in a weird way. She’s probably thinking something rude like, “Wasn’t Takaki a loner?”

Unfortunately, based on Sena’s reaction, she doesn’t seem to have any pleasant thoughts about me.

“Well, it’s just that there’s a rumor you’re the biggest delinquent since Reishuu started.” (Akane)

Yeah, that sounds about right… What else could it have been?

Even among first-year students, my bad reputation had already spread widely.

Sena must have heard the rumors somewhere.

So, what should I do now?

If it were just a random encounter in the school, there wouldn’t be much of a downside to letting the misunderstanding go. It would only hurt my feelings a bit.

However, since I’m here as a student council member, I couldn’t just leave it be.

“Look, Sena, I don’t know where you heard those rumors, but I’m not a delinquent.” (Takaki)

I spoke as friendly as I could, with a smile.

“Eek.” (Akane)

However, upon seeing that smile, Sena’s expression tensed up. She slid her hips onto the sofa, positioning herself diagonally opposite to me.

“Just think about it. If I were really a delinquent, there’s no way I could be a student council member.” (Takaki)

“Well, that’s true, but…” (Akane)

She visibly showed her wariness.

“W-Wait, could it be that Gujou-san has taken over the student council!?” (Akane)

“Of course not!” (Takaki)

Arisu, unable to watch this unfold, jumped in to help.

“Haha, well, Takaki is easily misunderstood, but he’s really not that shady. As his childhood friend, I can vouch for him.” (Arisu)

“Arisu…” (Takaki)

I sent a relieved glance her way, and she casually raised her thumb as if to say it was nothing.

“He just has a menacing look and a face that could pass as a delinquent, he’s socially awkward, a loner who slipped and broke his bone checking his face on his phone before school, and to top it off, he’s just going through a rebellious phase where he can’t keep up with his studies. So don’t worry!” (Arisu)

“Oi!” (Takaki)

Just when I thought she was helping me, she had to throw in all those unnecessary words.

Well, what she’s saying is all true, but even if it’s true, it still feels like it’s slander.

“Is that so?” (Akane)

Nevertheless, I appreciated Arisu stepping in for me.

Going along with the flow, I tried to explain to Sena.

“Yeah… Yura’s right. Besides, if I really were a dangerous student, I would’ve been expelled by now.” (Takaki)

“But there’s also the possibility that Gujou-san has already taken over the entire Reishuu High School.” (Akane)

“If I had that much power, it would be too late to worry about such things, won’t it?” (Takaki)

After calmly addressing everything, Sena finally came to understand that I wasn’t a delinquent.

Seeing Sena’s composed demeanor, Togami, who had been observing the situation, prompted her to continue.

“Shall we get to the main topic then? Sena-san, regarding your concern.” (Nadeshiko)

“Oh, right! Actually, um, I feel a bit guilty asking this of everyone in the student council…” (Akane)

“Don’t worry about it. Supporting everyone’s school life is part of our duty in the student council.” (Nadeshiko)

“Oh, that’s reassuring! Then, if you don’t mind…” (Akane)

“Yes?” (Nadeshiko)

As we, the student council, anxiously watched, Sena nervously played with her fingertips on her knee and smiled shyly.

“To be honest, there’s someone I’ve liked for a long time. We’re quite close, but because of that closeness, I feel like I’m not seen as a romantic interest. I’m worried that I might be seen as just a friend. So, I thought I’d ask everyone in the student council how I can get this person to notice me romantically!” (Akane)

There was a brief moment of silence.

“…Eh?” (Arisu)

Arisu, who was standing by my side, couldn’t help but let out a surprised sound.

Togami clasped her hands neatly on her knees and sat upright on the sofa.

She glanced at me as if seeking help, but what am I supposed to say?

“Kyaa! I said it!” (Akane)

On the other hand, Sena, perhaps relieved after sharing her concerns, raised her hands to her cheeks and was getting excited.

The initial tension had dissipated somewhere.

Deciding to discuss it among ourselves, I subtly gestured for Togami to come closer.

“Um, excuse us for a moment.” (Takaki)

Togami and Hourai-senpai also stood up, and the four of us gathered to discuss quietly.

“This is a love consultation, isn’t it?” (Takaki)

Hearing my words, Togami had a difficult look on her face.

“It seems so. Honestly, I didn’t expect to receive this kind of request…” (Nadeshiko)

“So, what should we do about this? Are we going to flat out refuse to take a love consultation in the student council?” (Takaki)

“However, it doesn’t sit well with me to send away a student who came to us for help. But I must admit, I’m not confident in handling a love consultation myself… How about you three?” (Misuzu)

Hourai-senpai directed the question to us, but both Arisu and I shook our heads.

“If it’s a friend, that’s one thing, but giving strangers love advice is too much responsibility.” (Takaki)

“I have no clue about this kind of thing either.” (Arisu)

“Hmm, I see…” (Misuzu)

“Well, I read online that when girls ask for advice, you just need to say ‘uh-huh,’ ‘yeah,’ ‘it’s his fault,’ or something. Just nod along and wrap up the conversation sounding like it’s resolved.” (Takaki)

Sometimes just having affirmation is enough, right?

It seemed like a fairly constructive suggestion, but Arisu next to me began nudging me aggressively with her foot.

“Um, Arisu-san, that hurts…” (Takaki)

“Because you say the worst things!” (Arisu)

“But I read it online… ow! Okay, got it, I’m sorry!” (Takaki)

“Haa… if you try that, I’ll really hit you.” (Arisu)

Between getting stepped on and getting punched, I couldn’t decide which was worse. For now, I’ll just take this seriously.

I turned to Togami, wondering what we should do next.

She seemed unsure herself, glancing briefly at Sena behind her.

Sena sat on the sofa, visibly restless and fidgety. Clearly, she was concerned about our conversation, occasionally glancing our way, though she kept her face composed.

Togami slowly turned back, clasping her fists in front of her chest.

“Let’s take on Sena-san’s request.”  (Nadeshiko)

She said it firmly with an unwavering expression.

“Are you okay with that?” (Takaki)

“Yes. I’m sure Sena-san must have thought hard about it before sending the DM. It wouldn’t be right to send her home now that she’s trusted us enough with her concerns,” (Nadeshiko)

Hearing those words, Hourai-senpai smiled.

“That’s a good attitude to have. I may not know much about romance, but I’ll do my best to help.” (Misuzu)

“Alright, I’ll do my best too!” (Arisu)

With that, we returned to our seats.

Togami, seated in front of Sena, smiled gently and spoke.

“I apologize for the wait. The Student Council will gladly listen to Sena-san’s concerns. While I can’t guarantee how much we can help, I promise we’ll do our best.” (Nadeshiko)

Upon hearing those words, Sena’s face lit up brightly.

Seeing her expression, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that we hadn’t refused.

“Thank you so much! I’m glad I came here!” (Akane)

Sena made a small fist pump. It was a bit pressure-inducing to see her so happy when nothing had been resolved yet.

With sparkling eyes, Sena leaned forward on the table.

“Togami-san, you’re incredibly beautiful so you must have a lot of experience with romance, right!? Ah, I’m so jealous!” (Akane)

“Eh?” (Nadeshiko)

Sena clasped her hands together like in a prayer and spoke with a dreamy expression.

Seeing her like that, Togami looked bewildered.

Indeed, Togami had a strikingly good appearance, so it wouldn’t be surprising if she had a boyfriend.

The issue was, if she did have one, her clumsiness would undoubtedly be exposed.

“And the other council members… All of you ladies seem like you’d be popular and have plenty of romantic experience!” (Akane)

Sena casually praised everyone else, excluding me.

Upon receiving her gaze, Hourai-senpai and Arisu reacted with a slight twitch.

“I’ve always been focused on training, so I’m not very experienced in romantic matters.” (Misuzu)

“Well, I’ve been confessed to before, but I haven’t actually dated anyone.” (Arisu)

“Even so, that’s good enough! And as for Gujou-san… he seems like he might make girls cry instead…” (Akane)

“Hey.” (Takaki)

Sena’s prejudice against me remained as strong as ever.

For the record, even during my serious middle and elementary school days, I never had any experiences with being popular, whether romantically or otherwise. By high school, I’ve been avoided by both boys and girls alike, so my romantic experience is zero. While I’ve been close friends with Arisu for a long time and don’t feel uncomfortable around girls, it’s likely they feel uncomfortable around me. It’s sad to say that about myself.

Sena seemed unfazed by her unintentional slip and turned back to Togami.

“Senpai, you must be a master at handling complicated romantic nuances, right?” (Akane)

“Huh… well, yes, you can count on me. I might even have enough insight to be called a love master.” (Nadeshiko)

“Wow!” (Akane)

Sena applauded enthusiastically, prompting Togami to cross her arms and boast with a smug expression.

Knowing her true nature, I understood this was just a front, but Sena had no way of knowing that.

“So, Sena-san. Could you tell us more about your situation?” (Nadeshiko)

Togami redirected the conversation towards Sena, urging her to elaborate.

According to Sena, she had feelings for her childhood friend, Tachibana. However, to Tachibana, Sena was just a childhood friend and not seen as a girl. Sena wanted to make him notice her, but due to her lack of romantic experience, she didn’t know how to go about it, so she turned to the Student Council for advice.

That was the gist of her story.

“A childhood friend, huh…” (Arisu)

Arisu murmured after hearing the whole story.

“Sorry, but I have to ask. Wouldn’t it be better to discuss this kind of issue with close friends rather than the Student Council?” (Misuzu)

In response to Hourai-senpai’s question, Sena gave an awkward look.

“Well… that’s true, but my friends already believe we’re already dating. And I’ve sort of just gone along with it.” (Akane)

“Aren’t you going to clear up the misunderstanding?” (Nadeshiko)

“B-But! It feels good, you know! When they say things like ‘Aww, so lovey-dovey!’ or ‘I want a boyfriend too!’ I really start feeling like we’re actually dating!” (Akane)

“Is that how it works…?” (Nadeshiko)

Togami looked perplexed.

But before anyone could say more, Arisu suddenly ran over to Sena and grabbed her shoulders firmly.

“I understand! I totally get how you feel!” (Arisu)

“Really, Yura-san?!” (Akane)

“Yeah, falling for someone you’re close to is tough, especially if they’re oblivious.” (Arisu)

“Exactly! But it’s that difference from other guys that makes me like him!” (Akane)

“Absolutely! I mean, it’s not like I’m in love with my childhood friend or anything, just speaking in general terms, you know.” (Arisu)

Arisu turned her face away, coughing to cover her flustered expression.

While everyone was contemplating Sena’s dilemma, I approached Togami and asked quietly.

“Hey, Togami, what’s this about being a love master?” (Takaki)

With a smug smile, Togami answered confidently.

“Just as I said. I’ve read a fair number of romance manga.” (Nadeshiko)

“…Haa?” (Takaki)

“Have you heard, Gujou-san? Reading romance manga teaches you about various issues and joys related to love! I’ve read dozens of series, so in my head, I have the experiences of dozens of people… no, considering that some series feature multiple couples, it’s practically more than that! My recommendations include ‘Opposites Attract’, where a cheerful, energetic girl falls for a calm, quiet boy, and ‘Meals Behind the Supermarket’, which follows the slow-burning romance between a supermarket worker and a salaryman. And then there’s…” (Nadeshiko)

As she continued, her excitement grew, and she eagerly began discussing her favorite series.

She… She thinks she understands love just from reading romance manga…!

“When it comes to childhood friend romcoms, there’s ‘The Romcom Where the Childhood Friend Won’t Lose’, although… she loses in that one…” (Nadeshiko)

I was about to tell Togami the harsh truth that real-life romance isn’t like manga when…

“Erotic selfies.” (Arisu)

Arisu suddenly said something outrageous.

“Yura-san!? Do you mean…!?” (Akane)

Sena, with a shocked expression, covered her mouth with her hand and began to tremble.

“The important thing is to change how he perceives you from ‘childhood friend’ to ‘classmate who’s a girl.’ And for that, you need to make his heart race!” (Arisu)

Arisu started saying something that actually sounded like it came from a romance master.

“I see, make his heart flutter, huh? Even though he’s dense, he’s still just a high school boy; he can’t resist something erotic…!” (Akane)

“That’s right, Sena-san! There’s no way a high school boy can resist erotism! All you need to do is to send him an erotic selfie and you’ll be promoted to love interest in no time!” (Arisu)

“Ohhhh!” (Akane)

Sena clapped enthusiastically, clearly impressed by the suggestion.

“No, wait… is that really a good idea?” (Akane)

Hourai-senpai, on the other hand, wasn’t convinced.

Well, of course. Advising people to send erotic pictures of themselves is problematic, especially when it’s coming from the Student Council.

“Togami, maybe you should stop this?” (Takaki)

“True, in romance manga, there are scenes where sending photos in casual clothes or pajamas leads to the guy blushing and feeling excited, that’s the standard pattern.” (Nadeshiko)

“Huh?” (Takaki)

“Ah… Sending something explicit might not be a good idea, but trying one that makes the other party aware of your femininity could be worth a shot. As a love master, there’s some logic to this approach.” (Nadeshiko)

Togami nodded seriously in agreement.

This girl and her clueless romance manga brain…!

“That’s right! As expected of a love master! Togami-san, you really get it!” (Arisu)

“As expected of the student council president! You have a wide range of knowledge! I admire that!” (Akane)

“Hehe, well, it’s only natural.” (Nadeshiko)

Togami crossed her arms and nodded thoughtfully.

Seems to me that she was enjoying the feeling of being praised by the two of them.

As I stood there dumbfounded, Arisu called out to me.

“So, Takaki, could you step out for a bit?” (Arisu)

“Hey Arisu, you’re not seriously planning to take them here, are you?” (Takaki)

“They say ‘strike while the iron is hot’, right?” (Arisu)

“I feel like this isn’t a good idea…” (Takaki)

“Anyways, if you’re around, we can’t exactly take the pictures, can we? Come on, out you go! And if you try to peek, I’ll hit you.” (Arisu)

“Y-Yeah… Sena, do your best.” (Takaki)

I said “do your best”, but should a guy like me really encourage a female student to take erotic selfies?

Anyways, I got kicked out of the student council room.

I stood a short distance away from the closed door, contemplating my next move. Not that I’m curious about what’s happening inside or anything, but voices leaking through the gap in the door are beyond my control. It’s an unavoidable situation.

“Alright, Sena-san! Let’s take some super sexy shots now! They’ll be so hot that whoever sees them will fall head over heels!” (Arisu)

“Yes, Yura-san! I’m ready!” (Akane)

“Alright. Let’s start by unbuttoning a bit of your chest. Oh yeah, this is hot…” (Arisu)

“W-Wait, if you unbutton that much, your underwear will be visible!” (Nadeshiko)

“It’s fine, Togami-san. Romance manga would be even more extreme!” (Arisu)

“Hey, are you really going to do this in the student council room? Shouldn’t we move somewhere else?” (Misuzu)

“No way! It’s perfect here! Mixing eroticism in this formal space is the key!” (Arisu)

“Ugh, I won’t be able to face my senpais from last year…” (Misuzu)

“Next, let’s see… sit on the chair and lift one leg.” (Arisu)

“Is this okay?” (Akane)

“You’re looking good, Sena-san! Yeah, that’s it! Next, lift your skirt a bit!” (Arisu)

“Ei!” (Akane)

“Wow, it’s really picking up! I’m getting excited too!” (Arisu)

“I-I-isn’t this a bit too much, Yura-san!?” (Nadeshiko)

“Nono, if it’s not a bit naughty, it’s not an erotic selfie, right? Nowadays, high school boys are used to seeing everything online, so it’s just about right to add a bit more spice to it! Now for the next shot… how about I lie down and we go for a low-angle shot from below…” (Arisu)

Even though the door was closed, loud voices could be heard leaking through. Naturally, one couldn’t help but imagine what was happening inside. Of course, it was all beyond my control.

But really, this is just too stimulating…

“Ah, maybe I’ll go to the vending machine in the courtyard for a bit…” (Takaki)

Unable to endure any longer, I muttered to myself and quietly slipped away from the student council room.

I spent quite some time at the vending machine, pondering, and in the end, I bought a carton of orange juice.

As I sipped through a straw on my way back, I noticed that the door to the student council room was open.

It seemed like the selfie session was over.

Not wanting to barge in abruptly, I knocked gently, just in case.

Inside, I heard a faint voice from Arisu saying, “Haa…”.

Peeking in cautiously, I saw all four of them, including Sena, slumped over the desk looking exhausted.

“Uh, you all look beat…” (Takaki)

“Oh, Gujou-san. Sorry for kicking you out earlier.” (Nadeshiko)

Togami noticed me and lifted her head slowly.

“So, did you send the selfie?” (Takaki)

“Well, in the end, it was deemed too explicit, so we scrapped the idea.” (Nadeshiko)

Togami chuckled in a troubled manner.

Beside her, Arisu smiled bitterly, while Sena covered her bright red face with both hands.

“Well, we really went too far with that. If it leaked out, Sena-chan’s student life would have been over.” (Arisu)

“Yeah, I got carried away… even doing that kind of shots…” (Akane)

“But hey, it’s good we noticed before sending it, right?” (Arisu)

“Exactly. If it got out that we filmed that in the student council room, we’d all be writing reflection essays at least.” (Akane)

Even Hourai-senpai, with a cross-armed and bewildered expression, blushed slightly.

What kind of photos did these girls take?

“What were you all even doing in the student council room?” (Takaki)

I sighed heavily as I sat on a sofa away from the four of them. 

Looks like we hit a roadblock.

Since it’s come to this, I might as well suggest an idea I came up with during my walk.

“Actually, wouldn’t just a message be enough? Without including any pictures.” (Takaki)

“What kind of message?” (Arisu)

“Yeah, considering the upcoming exams, how about something like, ‘How about studying together at my place next time?’ It might be easier to be aware of each other compared to places like the crowded library or a family restaurant.” (Takaki)

“Hmm, using a study session as an excuse sounds very high school-like and natural. For close childhood friends, it wouldn’t be an unnatural step, and it adds a special feeling to studying in a private space.” (Misuzu)

Houshii-senpai warmed up to this idea. Anything seemed better than erotic selfies.

“I see! If you arrange a study session at home, it could naturally lead to developing romantic feelings right then and there! Like accidentally touching hands while studying, or one of you dozing off and seeing their sleeping face, or even inadvertently picking up their glass for an indirect kiss…” (Nadeshiko)

This idea seemed to strike a chord with Togami’s romance manga-influenced imagination. She drifted into her own world, clearly pleased.

Arisu also nodded approvingly, showing her impressed expression.

“Simple is best, Takaki, that’s a good idea… What do you think, Sena-san?” (Takaki)

“Yes, I’m totally fine with it. I’ll send the message now!” (Akane)

Sena quickly tapped away on her phone screen.

—(Next time, want to have a study session at my place?)

With that simple message sent, Sena left her app open on the screen and placed her phone on the desk where we could all see.

Not even a minute passed before a notification came.

“It’s here!” (Akane)

“What does it say?” (Arisu)

“Um… ‘There’s not enough space in your room for two people to sit lol’.” (Akane)

…………

An awkward silence filled the air.

Ignoring the message, Sena turned off her phone screen.

Her face trembled with a mixture of embarrassment and frustration.

“Well, first off, I think you should clean up your room.” (Misuzu)

“I know, okay!” (Akane)

Houshii-senpai interjected with a pained expression, prompting Sena to retort tearfully.

“Ugh… This is the downside of having a childhood friend…” (Akane)

“Well, at least you avoided having a guy you’re interested in see a room with no space to even walk.” (Takaki)

“That’s not the issue here!” (Akane)

Seeing that even my attempt to comfort her had no effect, Sena slumped over the desk, her upper body resting heavily on it.

Observing her, Togami placed a hand on her chin and muttered with a serious tone.

“This calls for… the suspension bridge effect.” (Nadeshiko)

“Is that like mixing the thrill of romance with the thrill of crossing a real suspension bridge?” (Takaki)

“Exactly! Hmm, knowing about the suspension bridge effect, could it be that Gujou-san is a love master too?” (Nadeshiko)

“As if!” (Takaki)

Knowing about the suspension bridge effect could be considered basic knowledge if you’ve delved into romance-themed manga or anime to some extent.

For those who don’t know, the suspension bridge effect flips the usual flow of romance from [meeting a wonderful person → fall in love → feel your heart race] to [encounter a high tension situation → feel your heart race → fall in love].

I might not be a love master, so the details might be off, but that’s the general idea.

“That sounds great! But how are you going to make her childhood friend’s heart race?” (Arisu)

Arisu asked curiously, but some reason, Togami looked at me and smiled.

“That’s where you come in, Gujou-san.” (Nadeshiko)

“…Huh?” (Takaki)

The next day after school.

We, the student council, gathered at a café located near our high school.

I was seated alone at a small table for two, while the rest of the members occupied an area a bit further away.

Sena and her childhood friend, Tachibana, were scheduled to join us shortly.

Togami’s plan was as follows:

First, create a situation where Sena and Tachibana would be walking home together. 

Then, have Sena guide them into the café where I would be waiting at a table. 

Sena would deliberately bump into my table, and I would act unreasonably and excessively angry towards her. 

The goal was to create a high tension situation to make Tachibana’s heart race.

There were probably other ways to do it though.

However, yesterday, Togami said…

“Listen. First, Gujou-san will act intimidating, making Tachibana-san’s heart pound. This clears the first stage of the suspension bridge effect, but… that’s not all.” (Nadeshiko)

“And?” (Akane)

Sena looked at her with eyes full of anticipation.

She still seemed to think Togami was a love master. How pure can she be?

“There’s a chance that Tachibana-san will try to protect Sena-san and stands up for her, creating an opportunity for a romantic atmosphere!” (Nadeshiko)

“Oh~! Like a hero protecting the heroine from delinquents at a time of need! Just like in a romance manga!” (Akane)

“Oi, don’t make me the delinquent.” (Takaki)

My interjection went unnoticed by Sena, who gazed at Togami with admiration.

“Yes, if things go well, they might even become a couple right away.” (Nadeshiko)

“As expected of you, Togami-san! It was worth consulting the student council, after all!” (Akane)

“Oi! Don’t use me as a pawn! What if Tachibana gets seriously scared and runs away…” (Takaki)

I tried to argue my way out of this unpleasant role.

A hand patted my shoulder.

“Takaki, this is for the student council.” (Arisu)

Arisu had a slightly suppressed smile on her face.

“And also, it’s a rare chance to make use of your face.” (Arisu)

“Aren’t you enjoying this a little too much?” (Takaki)

“Well, it’s fun to play the wingman in other people’s love life.” (Arisu)

“At least try to deny it a bit.” (Takaki)

And so, the plan was set in motion for the very next day.

After waiting a few minutes, a message from Sena popped up. 

“(We’ll be reaching soon.)” (Akane)

“Ah, Sena-chan’s here!” (Misuzu)

“Where?” (Nadeshiko)

“She’s lining up behind the counter.” (Arisu)

I could hear the three of them having a quiet conversation, so I glanced over in the direction they pointed at.

Sure enough, there was Sena standing in line, next to a guy with metal-framed glasses.

I had assumed Tachibana would be more athletic like Sena, but he gave off an indoor type vibe. On second thought, they were just childhood friends, so it made sense that their clubs or hobbies might not align.

The three of them, including Togami, looked at me and nodded. 

Seeing this, I reluctantly nodded back and cleared the table. It wouldn’t be good if a drink spilled when Sena bumped into me.

The two finished placing their orders and started walking towards us.

Sena pointed to the counter seat by the window behind me, likely guiding Tachibana to sit there.

“Kya!” (Akane)

As planned, Sena bumped into my table while passing by.

At this point, I was supposed to pretend to be excessively angry… but things didn’t go as expected.

“Ah!” (Akane)

Unexpectedly losing her balance, Sena knocked over a drink from her tray and orange liquid flew out, splashing all over my face.

*splash*

I could feel the sweet and tangy orange-flavored drink seeped into my mouth through the corners of my lips.

“Gu-Gujou-san!” (Nadeshiko)

“Pfftttt~!” (Arisu)

“Haa… What are you guys doing?” (Misuzu)

I could hear the suppressed voices from the three girls. Arisu seemed to be enjoying the situation.

“……” (Takaki)

“…U-Um… Are you okay?” (Akane)

With orange juice dripping from my face, clearly not looking okay, Sena spoke to me with a strained expression.

Tachibana, realizing I was the infamous ‘Gujou’ from the same grade, had turned pale.

I pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the juice from my face first. I then dabbed at my uniform, though it was clear that I would need to wash it.

“Oi, you…” (Takaki)

Just as I began to speak, recovering from the unexpected event, Tachibana stepped in front of Sena. In a swift motion, he bowed deeply and shouted loud enough to echo throughout the cafe.

“I-I’m so, so sorry!!” (Tachibana)

“Ha?” (Takaki)

Suddenly, my brain froze at another unexpected turn of events.

Tachibana was on the verge of prostrating1 himself before me, if not already kneeling.

“I’m really, really sorry for what happened…! I’m so sorry!” (Tachibana)

“No, I’m not that angry.” (Takaki)

“She’s a bit of an idiot, but she means no harm! I swear, there wasn’t any ill-intentions towards you, Gujou-kun!” (Tachibana)

It seemed like Tachibana didn’t even hear my words as he continued to desperately explain himself.

Meanwhile, behind him, Sena covered her mouth with both hands, murmuring with a vacant expression, “Yu-kun…”

Why did it have to be like this? And why was Sena calling him “Yu-kun”?

Well, depending on how you looked at it, maybe it can be seen as him trying to protect his childhood friend. But was this really such a heroic scene?

“I really don’t mind what happens to me, so please just forgive Sena!” (Tachibana)

“I’m telling you, it’s really not that big of a deal…” (Takaki)

“I’m sorry! We’re not trying to make enemies of you, Gujou-kun! We’re just regular high school students!” (Tachibana)

“I’m a regular high school student too!” (Takaki)

What does he think of me?

Tachibana’s dramatic plea made even me, the supposed victim, feel a prickling discomfort.

On top of that, Tachibana’s over-the-top reaction prompted whispers from those around us like, “Is he okay?” “Is this extortion?” “Should we call the police…?”

“M-Money, right!? Y-Yeah, your clothes got wet so it’s natural! Okay, um, I’ll just take off all my clothes right here, and maybe we can settle this…! I’ll even give you my glasses!” (Tachibana)

“Don’t pull out your wallet, don’t take off your clothes, and I don’t need your glasses!! Just stop!!” (Takaki)

After managing to calm Tachibana down by restraining him, I explained that I wasn’t angry, didn’t need any money or clothes, and certainly didn’t need his glasses. Of course, I couldn’t mention the plan, so I quietly warned Sena for what she did.

Haa… I probably won’t be able to go to this cafe for a while now…

A few days later in the student council room…

“After all that, what happened with Sena and her childhood friend?” (Takaki)

After the incident, Sena personally apologized to me the day after the commotion. She even offered to cover the cleaning costs, but I politely declined. I didn’t want to fuel any further rumors.

Well, after washing it at home, the stains weren’t as bad as I thought, and aside from a faint orange scent, there were no real damages. Although, when I move around a bit, I catch a faint citrusy aroma lingering in the air.

As I thought about this, Togami, who was working on some administrative tasks beside me, looked up.

“Ah, regarding that, we agreed to have considered it resolved for now.” (Nadeshiko)

Arisu, who was sitting on a nearby sofa, seemed to have been listening to our conversation. She put her hands on her cheeks and let out a delighted expression.

“She said, ‘We will move on our own pace, so there’s no need to rush. I know he cares about me.’ Kyaa~!” (Arisu)

“Well, Tachibana did stand up for Sena, but… is that really okay?” (Takaki)

Honestly, I couldn’t quite bring myself to say Tachibana was cool.

He was panicking a lot and it didn’t quite fit the image of what I think someone who looks cool helping a girl would be.

As I muttered in confusion, Arisu shook her head with an exasperated expression.

“Ah, you really don’t get it… When you know someone well enough, you move past the stage of liking them just because they’re cool, and you end up liking them despite seeing all their flaws.” (Arisu)

“I see. The path of love is deep.” (Misuzu)

Hourai-senpai nodded thoughtfully with arms crossed.

Togami also muttered in a quiet voice that only I could hear.

“I should read more romance manga and train myself further. Otherwise, I can’t become a proper student council president.” (Nadeshiko)

“Wait, that doesn’t sound right…?” (Takaki)

And so, the first consultation received by our student council was resolved.

By the way, subsequent consultations received by the student council were all sorts of absurd ones, such as finding foster homes for hamsters or studying for upcoming tests. It made me wonder if the students might have a misunderstanding about the role of the student council…

TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

I always thought the suspension bridge effect was like “hero saves heroine -> heroine’s heart pound -> heroine falls in love”. But here it’s like “hero saves heroine -> hero’s heart pound -> hero falls in love”.

Maybe my definition of the suspension bridge effect is the one which is off.


Footnote:

  1. You know, the famous Japanese apology position where your head is on the floor

CSCP – Vol 1 Chapter 5 – Benefits of the Student Council

One day during lunch break.

The classroom was filled with the voices of students rejoicing with the arrival of lunch break. With such a happy commotion behind me, I wandered around the school with a lunchbox in hand.

“Haa… Should I go to the rooftop stairs of the practice building today, behind the staff parking lot, or…” (Takaki)

In my mind, I considered where to eat lunch today.

Of course, all the options were for one person.

I have said this many times, but I was treated as an outcast in class. If I ate in the classroom, it would make the atmosphere uncomfortable, so to avoid causing trouble, I decided to eat lunch outside. You could call me a master of consideration.

However, the school cafeteria is crowded, and it’s uncomfortable to eat alone there. Tables on the terrace or in the lounge are all occupied by other cliques.

As a result, the only remaining options are places that are dim even during lunchtime, with hardly anyone around, and where it isn’t usually cleaned.

Would this kind of lunch environment manifest as a health disparity in a few decades? What if I was chosen as a research subject at a university, anticipating my loneliness?

I shoved my idle hand into my pocket as I lamented my fate of being alone and likely having a shorter lifespan.

Then, I felt a cool sensation at my fingertips, followed by a metallic sound.

It was the spare key to the student council room, given to each student council member.

Since student council members frequently use the student council room, we were given spare keys to avoid the hassle of going to the staff room each time.

Usually, someone would already be there after school so I hadn’t had much use for it so far.

“Ah.” (Takaki)

At that moment, a revelation struck me.

I see… the student council room!

In the student council room, I could eat lunch alone without anyone noticing, and it even had chairs and a sofa for comfort.

Moreover, it was fully equipped with a kettle, sink, and mini-fridge!

“Heh, hehehe… I see, this is why I became part of the student council…” (Takaki)

It felt like it was destiny. For the first time since becoming a student council member, I truly appreciated the perks. Until now, it had been nothing but hassles, and I hadn’t felt any benefits from being an officer. Without such privileges, it wouldn’t be worth it.

Unable to suppress my overflowing smile, I walked down the hallway, grinning.

Perhaps because I looked so scary, the nearby students quickly parted to make way for me.

My steps feel much lighter now.

…I’m not sad at all, not in the least.

During lunch break, the practice building was unusually quiet. Occasionally, voices could be heard from those eating lunch in their club rooms, but it was a stark contrast to the noisy classroom building.

The area around the secluded student council room was similarly quiet.

Inserting the key into the door of the student council room, it made a ‘click’ sound and opened.

Casually pushing open the door, I was surprised to see a figure sitting on the sofa.

“Uwa…” (Takaki)

“Kyaa!? Ouch! Who is it?!” (Nadeshiko)

As I unintentionally let out a weird sound, the figure stood up in surprise. A dull thud followed as they bumped into the desk. Their long, straight, beautiful black hair flew wildly, and for a moment, I felt like I was witnessing a lion dance or something.

…Come to think of it, something similar happened before.

I sighed inwardly and called out to our student council president, who was hiding behind the sofa.

“Togami, it’s me. I’m not here to hurt you, so come out.” (Takaki)

“Gujou-san?” (Nadeshiko)

Peeking cautiously over the backrest of the sofa, Togami let out a sigh of relief.

“What do you want?” (Nadeshiko)

“Same as you. Came to eat lunch.” (Takaki)

“How did you know I was eating lunch here!?” (Nadeshiko)

“Anyone could tell.” (Takaki)

On the desk were a bottle of cola and two melon bread. In Togami’s left hand was a partially eaten melon bread.

There was no doubt she was eating lunch here, but I was surprised by the less-than-expected junk food combination.

I heard she was rich, so I thought she’d be having a luxurious bento for lunch or even ordering from UberEats. We actually have a few of those types at our school.

“Are you here alone, Togami?” (Takaki)

“Aren’t you alone too, Gujou-san?” (Nadeshiko)

Togami nodded with a sullen expression. I had considered the possibility that she might be eating with Hourai-senpai or Arisu, but it seemed that wasn’t the case.

“Do you always eat here?” (Takaki)

I asked Togami, who was rubbing her shin which she had bumped earlier.

“No, today is just a coincidence, or rather, a rare occurrence.” (Nadeshiko)

“So, you usually eat with friends then?” (Takaki)

“Friends…? Oh, yes! That’s right! I usually eat with friends.” (Nadeshiko)

“Hey, you sound like you never heard of that word before.” (Takaki)

Even if she didn’t have friends, she should at least be able to understand it properly. Was it that unfamiliar of a word to Togami?

Feeling a sense of camaraderie, I gazed at Togami with a lukewarm expression.

“Let’s do our best, both of us.” (Takaki)

“D-Don’t just treat me like we’re cut from the same cloth!” (Nadeshiko)

Togami retorted seemingly annoyed, but her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were slightly moist. I must have hit a nerve.

It’s tough, isn’t it… for both of us…

Of all people, it’s ironic that the student council president, who’s perceived as “perfect” by everyone around, can share this kind of hardship.

The world is truly strange.

Or rather, isn’t it unusual that two out of four student council officers are loners? Statistically speaking, it’s abnormal.

After the unexpected encounter, I sat down at a long desk.

Even though we were acquaintances, sitting on the same sofa as girls felt a bit awkward.

I opened the lunchbox I brought from home. It contained white rice, along with mini tomatoes, pickled vegetables, and stir-fried cabbage and pork cubes with miso that I had made extra of last night. For a homemade meal by a high school boy, it was pretty decent.

Silently, I put my hands together and quietly recited “itadakimasu” in my mind. I picked up a mini tomato with my chopsticks and popped it into my mouth.

“…” (Nadeshiko)

“…” (Takaki)

It’s awkward.

When two loners come together, a lively atmosphere doesn’t magically appear. We’re both loners because we can’t easily connect with others.

Of course, Togami and I aren’t meeting for the first time. In fact, our relationship is somewhat deeper.

After all, we made such a promise yesterday.

However, I’m here with Togami not because she asked me, but simply by chance.

If that’s the case, maybe it’s better for both of us to quietly finish our meals without trying to force a conversation or interfere with each other.

No, despite being familiar with each other, silently eating lunch without any conversation feels off… It’s like a snapshot of modern society where people don’t even know their neighbors’ last names.

Speaking of which, I wonder what Togami thinks about this situation.

Glancing over at Togami, I noticed she was also looking at me, and our eyes met.

Both of us hastily looked away, but it was clear we had caught each other’s gaze. There was a tense silence between us.

We both seemed to silently plead, “Could you say something first…”

It was Togami who broke the silence first.

“Um… do you have any topics to talk about?” (Nadeshiko)

“Don’t just expect me to come up with a topic out of nowhere. But seriously, what’s with this awkward atmosphere?” (Takaki)

“Isn’t it you who came here later and created this awkward atmosphere?” (Nadeshiko)

“But you’re the one who initiated the conversation first, right? It’s a rule of thumb that the person who talks first has to bring up a topic, so Togami, could you suggest something first? I’ll come up with the next one.” (Takaki)

“Ugh… Well, I guess you’re right.” (Nadeshiko)

After a bit of back and forth, I managed to smoothly steer the conversation. Based on how easily she gave up, I couldn’t help but be worried about Togami’s debating skills.

After a moment of hesitation, Togami painfully forced out a topic.

“So… Gujou-san, why are you a loner?” (Nadeshiko)

“That’s the worst topic you could have picked!” (Takaki)

With just a few words, I was fully convinced of why Togami was also a loner.

This girl’s casual communication skills are abysmal. Why would she start off with such a difficult topic?

Togami looked flustered, waving her hands in a panicked attempt to explain herself.

“Well, since you went through the trouble of bringing up a topic, it’d be rude not to answer… It’s nothing big, though.” (Takaki)

I explained the reasons why I became a loner in high school, leaving out the details about my family.

I had carelessly enrolled in the prestigious Reishuu High School but struggled to keep up with the academics. I failed at making friends right off the bat. Then, in early May, I fell down the stairs and broke a bone, resulting in a disastrous midterm exam. My lifestyle went downhill from there, leading to misunderstandings of me being a delinquent and being completely isolated from the rest of the class.

I shared these bits and pieces of my story.

“…And that’s how it is. It’s my own fault, really.” (Takaki)

After I finished summarizing my story, Togami muttered with a look of disbelief.

“Wait a minute. That’s not nearly enough.” (Nadeshiko)

“Huh? Did I forget something?” (Takaki)

“You left out everything about your time in middle school.” (Nadeshiko)

“No, that’s because I had friends in middle school.” (Takaki)

Then Togami placed a hand on her forehead, wearing a serious expression as she pondered about something deeply.

Did I say something strange?

“I think I just heard something unbelievable… ‘I had friends until middle school,’ you said.” (Nadeshiko)

“Yeah, it’s true. I had friends until middle school, and I think I even had quite a number.” (Takaki)

I did well in my studies and was decent at sports. I was even the student council president, so I had a wide circle of friends.

Togami’s eyes widened in shock at my words.

Then she narrowed her eyes and spoke in a cold tone.

“…Traitor.” (Nadeshiko)

“Hey, hold on, I didn’t lie about anything from the start.” (Takaki)

From the way she said it, it seemed like Togami didn’t have any friends even before middle school. In that sense, she was a true loner.

Feeling betrayed for no reason, Togami continued to mutter curses at me with resentment.

“[Fake loner], [Guy who had friends in middle school], [Someone who calls themselves a loner just because their friends aren’t at the same school], [Winner who has a cute childhood friend even though he says he’s a loner].” (Nadeshiko)

…Wait, are these curses? Or compliments?

The tone and content were so mismatched that I couldn’t tell. If I took the words at face value, I’d actually be happy.

“Um… thanks?” (Takaki)

“I’m not complimenting you!” (Nadeshiko)

Apparently, her words were intended as insults.

“But it’s weird.” (Nadeshiko)

“What is?” (Takaki)

“That anyone would want to be friends with Gujou-san, given your eyes and demeanor.” (Nadeshiko)

“That’s rude! Kids don’t care about that stuff! Besides, my friends from before middle school were mostly from the same elementary school, and my eyes used to look better back then.” (Takaki)

In my kindergarten graduation photo, my gaze was normal. My middle school graduation photo looks almost the same as the one from kindergarten, but my eyesight has declined since starting high school, so I have to squint more, causing me to look more menacing.

After expressing her dissatisfaction and letting off steam, Togami sighed.

“So, why are you a loner, Togami?” (Takaki)

“Well…” (Nadeshiko)

“It’s your turn now. If you really don’t want to say, you don’t have to.” (Takaki)

It wasn’t a topic I was particularly keen to pry into.

Still, Togami reluctantly began to speak. Perhaps she felt obligated since she was the one who brought it up.

“There’s not really a big reason. When I was little, I had to attend a lot of extracurricular activities and couldn’t play with my classmates, so I never really learned how to interact with people privately. To be perfect, studying is essential, and I’m also afraid that someone I’m close to might find out I’m not perfect. After middle school, I just stopped trying to make friends.” (Nadeshiko)

“I see.” (Takaki)

Although it was a brief explanation, it gave a glimpse into Togami’s family situation, her life so far, and the efforts she’s put in.

The fact that someone as clumsy as Togami is perceived as “perfect” by those around her isn’t just a miraculous coincidence. It’s likely because she’s making efforts to cover up her true self.

Whether her family circumstances play a role in this, I don’t know. It’s likely not just a matter of personality.

“But, Togami, someone like you would get approached even if you stayed quiet. You won the election without any issues, so you must be relatively popular, or at least well-liked, right?” (Takaki)

I tried to change the subject, but it wasn’t just a random comment—it was something I was genuinely wondering.

Togami seemed to be aware of that point herself so she nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, I do get approached sometimes. But it’s mostly about studies or test scores, very formal conversations. There’s hardly anything outside of that.” (Nadeshiko)

“I see.” (Takaki)

Her overly perfect demeanor might give off an unapproachable impression.

A stunning beauty with an elegant demeanor, excelling in both academics and sports, and coming from a wealthy family. It might indeed be rare for people to approach her casually.

In fact, until I got involved in the student council, I thought she lived in a completely different world.

Honestly, if her clumsiness were more widely known, it might be easier for her to make friends. But since she wants to keep it hidden, it makes things complicated.

“But, since people do talk to me in class, I guess I’m doing better than you, Gujou-san.” (Nadeshiko)

“Uh, yeah.” (Takaki)

That was a tricky comment to respond to. I mean, I have Arisu, an approachable childhood friend to talk to, so it might be an even match. Well, if she’s happy, I don’t really have a reason to mention it.

After a brief pause in our conversation, Togami seemed to remember something.

“Oh, by the way, there’s something I wanted to ask you, Gujou-san.” (Nadeshiko)

“What is it?” (Takaki)

“Before you could use the Student Council room, where did you eat?” (Nadeshiko)

“Ah… yeah, it’s definitely interesting to know where other loners eat.” (Takaki)

It was an intriguing topic this time. Togami must have only started using the Student Council room a few weeks ago at most.

How did she manage to get through lunch breaks all this time? I felt a sense of skinship and wanted to share our struggles.

“By the way, I used to skip lunch and lock myself in the library or self-study room.” (Nadeshiko)

“Skipping lunch is quite a strong solution.” (Takaki)

“When I couldn’t bear it anymore, I distracted myself with high-calorie juices or milk tea. How about you, Gujou-san?” (Nadeshiko)

“I couldn’t skip lunch entirely, so I found somewhere to eat.” (Takaki)

When I answered, Togami’s eyes sparkled with curiosity.

“I-Is that place perhaps… the restroom!?” (Nadeshiko)

“No way! Don’t look at me like that! I’ve never resorted to eating in the bathroom.” (Takaki)

“What!? I always thought loners ate in the bathroom, that’s the image I had.” (Nadeshiko)

“Everyone’s different. I’d rather eat in the classroom than in the restroom.” (Takaki)

“Is that so?” (Nadeshiko)

“Yeah, I mean, even in a nice high school like ours, the restroom can still be dirty. Sometimes some people would even be doing their ‘big business’ there, so I definitely don’t have the guts to eat lunch there..” (Takaki)

“Haah… Gujou-san, you really are a fake loner…” (Nadeshiko)

“Why are you disappointed?” (Takaki)

By the way, my recommendation is the stairs leading to the rooftop of the practice building or the hidden bushes on the school building side of the staff parking lot. Well, sometimes you have to be careful because you might run into couples wandering around the school or teachers sneaking out to smoke in quiet places.

After that, Togami and I continued to bond over the quirks and tales unique to loners.

I’m well aware that this is a rather sad topic for high school students, but surprisingly, it’s quite engaging.

There’s this mysterious sense of kinship among those who share the same struggles.

After talking for a while, an old-fashioned chime rang out.

*Ding Dong*

“Oh, it’s the bell.” (Nadeshiko)

“Should we head back to the classroom soon?” (Takaki)

Both Togami and I stood up.

Somewhere along the line, I had moved from sitting on the desk to sit on the sofa opposite Togami. Realizing this now made me feel embarrassed.

“Um, Gujou-san.” (Nadeshiko)

“What is it?” (Takaki)

As I was about to head towards the door with my lunchbox in hand, Togami called out to me, stopping me in my tracks.

Turning back, she had a somewhat solemn expression on her face.

“To be honest, this is the first time since starting high school that I’ve eaten lunch with someone like this… It made me a bit happy.” (Nadeshiko)

“…I see.” (Takaki)

“If you don’t mind, Gujou-san, would you maybe want to eat lunch together again in the student council room? I mean, this the only place I really have to go, so I’ll probably just come and eat here anyways. If it’s okay with you, of course.” (Nadeshiko)

Blushing slightly, Togami spoke in a quieter voice than usual.

Honestly, she’s so awkward when she tries to express himself.

For me, having lunch with Togami wasn’t bad at all. Plus, there was no reason to avoid using the student council room that we were given.

So, my answer was clear.

“Yeah. If the restroom smells too bad, I’ll come over here.” (Takaki)

“…Wait, are you still hung up on what happened earlier, Gujou-san?” (Nadeshiko)

“Apparently, loners are creatures that have to eat in the bathroom.” (Takaki)

“Ugh, you’re really still hung up on that… I’m sorry, okay?!” (Nadeshiko)

Well, I’ll keep dropping by the student council room from tomorrow onwards.

I hope someday I can invite Arisu and Hourai-senpai there too.

TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

Asking a loner why they are lonely is just one of those things you don’t ask them. There were times when my classmates asked me the same thing but what the heck do they expect me to respond with?

I can also relate to camping in the student council room to hide away from other people. Plus, it’s air-conditioned.


Footnote:

  1. None

CSCP – Vol 1 Chapter 4 Part 3 – The Clumsy Student Council President is Weak in the PE Storage Room

“Phew, it’s finally over.” (Takaki)

“Um…” (Nadeshiko)

“Hm?” (Takaki)

“Thank you so much, Gujou-san. I owe you one.” (Nadeshiko)

Togami, in her dusty school uniform, smiled genuinely with a relieved expression. Seeing that face made all the accumulated frustrations melt away.

…Well, I have no complaints about helping someone in need. The problem is that this someone is our student council president and a complete klutz.

“I’m sorry for showing you this side of me again, like yesterday.” (Nadeshiko)

“Don’t worry too much about it. Everyone has days like this… well, sometimes.” (Takaki)

“That’s not comforting at all! …Haa. Really, I’ve just been causing trouble for you, Gujou-san.” (Nadeshiko)

She looked more hunched over than usual, clearly feeling down. Maybe it was a shock to have her usual clumsiness exposed one after another.

“Hey, Togami.” (Takaki)

“What is it?” (Nadeshiko)

“Is it okay if I tell the other student council members about this?” (Takaki)

“Huh?” (Nadeshiko)

Togami’s eyes wavered, showing a hint of fear.

I made an effort to speak in a natural tone, trying not to be intimidating.

“Well, you know. Since these things have been happening in succession, it’s hard to keep hiding them from the other student council members forever. Wouldn’t it be smoother to just admit from the start that you’re a bit clumsy… no, that you have a few absent-minded moments and ask for their support?” (Nadeshiko)

That way, it would reduce my burden too, and the risk of Togami’s clumsiness being exposed to outsiders would also decrease.

As someone who joined the student council to avoid repeating a year, I wanted the student council’s operations to go smoothly. Though it might embarrass Togami, it would be much easier if everyone were to work together.

Despite my reasoning, Togami looked down with a gloomy expression.

“I…” (Nadeshiko)

“Hm?” (Takaki)

“I have to be perfect.” (Nadeshiko)

The words were squeezed out of Togami’s mouth.

Her voice was timid, but behind it, there was a clear determination.

“That’s the only way I’ll be acknowledged. So I have to perform the student council president’s duties perfectly. I can’t let anyone find out I’m the kind of person who gets stuck in a window frame of the gym storage room.” (Nadeshiko)

Well, it would indeed be embarrassing to be known as the kind of person who gets stuck in a window frame.

“But still, it’s already affecting your ‘perfect’ work…” (Nadeshiko)

As I began to object, Togami abruptly bowed her head.

Her glossy black hair spilled down with the ends nearly touching the ground.

“Please! If you keep this a secret, Gujou-san, I’ll do anything! I’ll take care of all your work as the secretary and even handle all your class assignments.” (Nadeshiko)

“…” (Takaki)

While I remained silent, Togami clasped her hands in front of her chest and leaned forward, looking up at me with pleading eyes.

“I’ll do anything for you! I-I mean, since men like, um, lewd things, I can even…” (Nadeshiko)

“Calm down, Togami.” (Takaki)

“Ow.” (Takaki)

I gave Togami a light chop on the head as she started to get carried away.

Reflexively, Togami covered the top of her head with both hands.

It seemed she finally realized she had said something strange.

“I’m sorry. I said something weird.” (Nadeshiko)

“Let’s calm down and talk, okay?” (Takaki)

“Yes…” (Nadeshiko)

Togami became meek and submissive, but her determination remained unchanged.

She looked straight into my eyes with a serious expression.

“Gujou-san, once again, please. Could you keep quiet about what happened yesterday and today?” (Nadeshiko)

“You said you want to be perfect to be acknowledged.” (Takaki)

“Yes. I have to be a proper student council president, there are circumstances…” (Nadeshiko)

“Well… I kind of get how you feel.” (Takaki)

I too had a time when I wanted to be acknowledged by someone.

When I was in elementary school, my mother passed away from an illness, leaving me to live with my father. However, my father got assigned to work overseas alone, and since I refused to transfer schools, I ended up living with my aunt.

Before leaving Japan, my father said, “I’ll come back when Takaki is in high school.”

So, I worked desperately to be able to proudly face my father when he returned. I maintained excellent grades throughout middle school and served as student council president. I put all my effort into the high school entrance exams and got into the prestigious Reishuu High School. Even though I could hardly have video calls with my busy father, I still believed.

When he came back to Japan, he would be happy to see me. He would praise me.

My hopes were crushed just before starting high school with a single message that read, “My return has been postponed. I probably won’t be back for another three years.” It hit me hard. I was so down that I couldn’t focus on studying for the entire spring break, and I might not have even made it to the entrance ceremony if Arisu hadn’t invited me.

After starting school, I managed to shift my feelings, but then I fractured my bone shortly after.

The final nail in the coffin was the fracture and mid-term tests.

There was a sense of emptiness underlying it all.

No matter how hard I tried, it felt like my efforts were futile against things beyond my control.

That sense of emptiness still lingers within me today.

“It might all be in vain.” (Takaki)

“Huh?” (Nadeshiko)

The words slipped out unintentionally.

I didn’t know where to direct my emotions, so I continued speaking spontaneously.

“Just because you put in effort doesn’t mean you’ll be rewarded. That’s just how the world works. There are events beyond your control that could make everything you’ve done pointless. What’s the point of working hard in a world like that?” (Takaki)

Just like I once felt.

Even Togami’s current efforts might be meaningless.

“That’s true. It might all be futile.” (Nadeshiko)

“Huh?” (Takaki)

“I also have the feeling that everything might be pointless.” (Nadeshiko)

Surprisingly, Togami affirmed my words.

I didn’t expect to convince her with such an emotional argument. In fact, I had a feeling she would deny it.

Yet, why?

“Then why do you strive for perfection?” (Takaki)

“Because that’s what it means to me right now.” (Nadeshiko)

Togami looked at me squarely with a resolute gaze.

Her eyes pierced through me, leaving me without a word.

“I might not achieve anything even if I try my best. But I don’t think that should stop me from trying. At the very least, the fact that I tried will still remain. Even if it all amounts to nothing, I want to have moments where I can look back and think, ‘I was trying my best back then’.” (Nadeshiko)

What a dazzling perspective.

She had emotions that I seemed to have lost along the way. That’s how I felt.

Unable to say anything, I watched as Togami nodded slightly.

“I’m sorry for saying something so presumptuous. Shall we leave from here now? It might raise suspicions if we stay here too long without returning.” (Nadeshiko)

She smiled slightly, seeming a bit embarrassed, and brushed off the dust from her uniform.

Ah, honestly… When I look at Togami, it feels like I’m seeing my old self, the me who innocently worked hard every day just to be praised by my father.

To dispel my impatience, I scratch my head vigorously.

Taking a deep breath, I start speaking.

“Hey, Togami.” (Takaki)

“What is it?” (Nadeshiko)

Togami’s eyes, cool and captivating like ice in a summer glass, capture my gaze. The sunlight streaming through the window beautifully illuminates the dancing dust particles. It feels like just the two of us are submerged in the depths of the ocean.

I wonder if this is appropriate to bring up. Will it bother her? Such thoughts cross my mind.

It took some mental preparation.

After a brief pause, I spoke up.

“Would you let me help you, Togami?” (Takaki)

“Huh?” (Nadeshiko)

Togami blinked in surprise and looked back at me.

Swallowing nervously, I continued.

“You’re the student council president, and I’m a member of the student council. If you ever have any problems, I want you to rely on me.” (Takaki)

“I already plan to leave the secretary duties to you though.” (Nadeshiko)

“I’m not talking about just the student council duties. Even if it’s something personal like today, if there’s anything you’re struggling with, I want to help as much as I can. If you rely on me, I won’t tell Arisu or Hourai-senpai about any of this.” (Takaki)

I was retracting my earlier statement, but I felt I’d regret not saying this now.

Togami, who still seemed unsure of the situation, cautiously probed me.

“…Why would you go so far for me, Gujou-san?” (Nadeshiko)

“It’s not like I have a definitive reason. But well, after getting involved this much, it’d leave a bad taste if I just walked away.” (Takaki)

There really wasn’t a definitive reason.

It’s just that I have a meddlesome childhood friend that I couldn’t fully embrace individualism1. It might be a disadvantage to survive in today’s society.

As Togami contemplated my words, she muttered with a troubled expression.

“Well, I would appreciate your help if you offer it… but there’s no benefit for you, Gujou-san… Oh! Could it be money!? Indeed, my family is wealthy, but I don’t have that much disposable income personally… Well, I might have around forty to fifty thousand yen per month…” (Nadeshiko)

“It’s not about money!” (Takaki)

She condensed all the negative aspects of being wealthy into that moment.

I wavered upon hearing a specific amount but managed to restrain myself.

“Anyways, yeah. It saves me from unnecessary guilt, and it helps Togami keep the student council running smoothly. So, it’s a win-win.” (Takaki)

“Well, yes, that’s true…” (Nadeshiko)

“Do you trust me?” (Takaki)

“Yes, I completely trust you, Gujou-san. You’ve helped me yesterday and today.” (Nadeshiko)

Being trusted so easily also makes me uneasy. She seems to be the gullible type of person who would get easily deceived by a fraudster.

“I just feel it wouldn’t be fair if there’s no benefit for you, Gujou-san.” (Nadeshiko)

“I think Sashiki-sensei already mentioned it, but I joined the student council to avoid repeating a year. Ending the term smoothly without any hiccups in the student council would be beneficial for me.” (Takaki)

From my previous conversation with her, it doesn’t seem like failing to fulfill my duties as a student council member would immediately lead to repeating a year. But let’s leave that aside for now.

“In that case, alright. I understand.” (Nadeshiko)

It seemed like Togami finally agreed, and she extended her hand.

I paused for a moment, unsure of what it meant.

“I look forward to working with you, Gujou-san.” (Nadeshiko)

“…Likewise.” (Takaki)

I only realized she was offering a handshake when Togami reached out and grasped my limp hand, which had been hanging limply at my side.

Her cool body temperature transmitted through, and her smooth touch stirred my heart.

In the dimness of the gym storage room, I felt oddly relieved for the moment.

Around the time the sun was beginning to set, we returned to the student council room.

Upon opening the door, Arisu and Hourai-senpai were seated at the long desk, brewing tea from a teapot and nibbling on pastries.

They seemed to have been enjoying quite an elegant time. Meanwhile, I was covered in dust thanks to someone getting stuck in a window frame.

“Oh, you’re both quite late, aren’t you?” (Arisu)

“Good job, both of you. We were just about to check on you if you took any longer.” (Misuzu)

Upon seeing us enter, Arisu gave us a skeptical glare, while Hourai-senpai sighed with relief.

“Oh, sorry about that. It was a bit dim in there so the inspection was quite a hassle.” (Takaki)

“Y-Yes, that’s right! Gujou-san helped me out with various things!” (Nadeshiko)

I flashed a reassuring smile, quickly grabbed my bag nearby, and tried to distance myself from Togami, who spoke in an awkward tone.

We really cut it close… If those two had shown up at that place, there would have been no way to hide Togami’s clumsiness.

“Since Takaki is heading home, I’ll go too. Senpai, shall we start tidying up the teapot and cups?” (Arisu)

“Sounds good. I’ll leave with you guys.” (Misuzu)

“I-I’ll help too!” (Nadeshiko)

The two of them swiftly began cleaning up, with Togami joining in. I considered offering to help but hesitated to handle dishes touched by the girls, so I gave up.

We parted ways with Togami near the station, and at the ticket gate with Hourai-senpai heading in the opposite direction for the train.

Arisu and I boarded a train just before the evening rush hour. We were able to find seats together at the center of the carriage.

When the train started moving, Arisu, sitting next to me, peered at me intently with a serious expression. Despite being childhood friends, her beautiful face being this close made me somewhat nervous.

“…Takaki, you’ve been with Togami-san for quite a while.” (Arisu)

“Well, yeah, it was quite challenging.” (Takaki)

That wasn’t a lie. It might have been even more than just “challenging”.

“…I smell something.” (Arisu)

“Huh?” (Takaki)

Sniffing softly, Arisu leaned closer to my school uniform.

“It smells dusty, like Togami-san. Hmm, I feel like I could also smell the conditioner that she used…?” (Arisu)

Is she a dog or something? Did she really sniff out Togami’s scent too?

“Well, we were working together in the same room.” (Takaki)

I tried to deflect, but she wasn’t letting up.

“Just because you were in the same room, would her hair scent rub off on you? That seems a bit difficult unless you were hugging her or something?” (Arisu)

This girl is too sharp for her own good.

Arisu might be cut out to be a police dog or a detective. I feel like I’ve seen an old drama rerun where detectives used scent as a clue.

“…There’s no way that could happen. You’re talking about me and Togami, you know?” (Takaki)

I subtly shifted my position, creating distance between myself and Arisu.

Seeing my reaction, Arisu narrowed her eyes even more sharply.

“Hmm… suspicious…” (Arisu)

From then until we got off the train several minutes later, I pretended to be asleep to avoid any further scrutiny.


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

Childhood friends can always smell the scent of other girls on the person they’re interested in. It’s like an innate ability at this point.


Footnote:

  1. Individualism means the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant. Tbh, I have no idea how this sentence is related to the reason but I’m pretty sure I translated it correctly.

CFVT – Vol 1 Epilogue

And so, it’s been about a month since I became a VTuber. There were still many things I had yet to get used to, but the activities I participated in were really enjoyable. I’ve interacted with new talents, planned commemorative streams and events, and my fanbase has been steadily growing. I’m grateful for it all.

As for my relationship with Ayaka… It would be a lie to say nothing had changed, but it wasn’t like we were always all lovey-dovey with each other. We followed the rules we set for ourselves, and on streams and social media, we kept the usual distance. So, I think no one has discovered our relationship yet… probably.

👻👻👻

And so December arrived. 

Ayaka, who was visiting me, lay on my bed as we talked.

“You know, it’s rare for Rui to invite me out. I wonder if it’ll snow~” (Ayaka)

“It’s December, so it’ll definitely snow…” (Rui)

As I said that, I opened my schedule management app on my phone. Tonight was going to be a normal chatting stream, followed by voice recording in the studio the next day, then a gaming collab stream with Robin. My week was packed to the brim.

“What are you looking at?” (Ayaka)

“My schedule. I’m trying to find a day when I’m free… Are you free next Sunday, Ayaka?” (Rui)

Upon hearing that, Ayaka sat up from the bed with a puzzled expression.

“Eh, I think I’m free… Why?” (Ayaka)

“Well, I haven’t finalized anything yet, but… I was thinking of organizing a gaming tournament with a few streamers that day. Nothing’s decided yet, though.” (Rui)

This month, I have been considering organizing a gaming event. Of course, as a newcomer, I couldn’t host a large-scale one, so I thought of hosting a small, one-day event to create some memories for the year… However, I still hadn’t decided what to do, who to invite, or what game to play.

Meanwhile, Ayaka looked incredibly surprised…

“Wait… does that mean you’re inviting me to another collab?” (Ayaka)

“Well, yeah, that’s the idea… Wait, why do you look like you’re about to cry!?” (Rui)

It was then that I noticed Ayaka’s eyes were welling up with tears. Did I say something weird…?

“Do you really dislike the idea that much?” (Rui)

“Of course not! It’s just that it’s been such a long time since Rui invited me to do something with him… I’m really, really happy!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka said this with heartfelt emotion… Ah, I see. Ayaka had been waiting for me all along.

“I see… Hey, Ayaka. Since we haven’t got a chance to hang out much lately, let’s make up for it and spend lots of time together, okay?” (Rui)

“…Yeah!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka nodded energetically in response to my words.

At first, I didn’t understand anything and just appeared on Ayaka’s stream. From there, I got scouted, made new friends, found hobbies, and set goals. And… I got a chance to face Ayaka properly. I’m really glad I became a VTuber. I have to thank everyone who has been involved with me and the VTuber community.

“…Alright. First, we need to decide on the details of the game.” (Rui)

“Oh, how about splitting into a Team Rei and Team Rui to compete against each other?” (Ayaka)

“I see. A team battle, huh? That sounds interesting…” (Rui)

“And wouldn’t it be even more fun if we have a penalty? Like the losers have to do whatever the winners say. I think it would definitely spice things up, don’t you?” (Ayaka)

“Ehh, are you serious…?” (Rui)

“I’m serious! After all, our job as VTubers is to entertain everyone!” (Ayaka)

“…Haha.” (Rui)

Laughing at Ayaka’s words, I nodded. I’m not fully confident yet, but if watching our streams can cheer someone up even a little, that would make me really happy. Knowing there are people watching us gives me the motivation to keep streaming.

“And if I win, maybe I’ll have Rui take me on a date for a whole day?” (Ayaka)

“…Don’t you dare say that on stream, okay?” (Rui)


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

And that’s the end of vol 1. 

Hopefully you enjoyed it, I certainly did. Seeing a childhood friend heroine win so decisively really makes me happy. Although, I didn’t expect it to happen at volume 1. 

Now, the question is will there be a vol 2? Hopefully, there is. The web novel has a lot of chapters so there’s definitely enough content to pump out another vol.

And no, I can’t translate the web novel cause I’m due for enlistment in the army by law. I may or may not translate vol 2 of the LN depending on how busy I’ll be by the time it comes out.


Footnote:

  1. Probably talking about a proposal

CFVT – Vol 1 Chapter 6 Part 5 – A Sudden Invitation for an Off-Collab

Simple as they were, her straightforward words reached me. Yes… Deep down, I had already known. I knew that Ayaka had feelings for me. And I also realized that I have feelings for Ayaka.

…But I pretended not to notice. I feigned ignorance, afraid of breaking the status quo. I convinced myself that things were best as they were.

“……” (Rui)

…But now, Ayaka had mustered the courage to tell me her feelings. So I had to respond… I had to face her seriously.

“……Yeah. Thank you, Ayaka.” (Rui)

“……!” (Ayaka)

The grip on our hands tightened gradually. I had to say it… I had to properly tell Ayaka that I liked her too…!

“………. Ayaka, I…” (Rui)

*ring ring ring*

“…!?” (Ayaka)

“…!?” (Rui)

The sudden sound made my heart leap out of my chest. For a moment, we couldn’t grasp what the noise was… When we realized it was the ringtone of a phone, we both calmed down a bit… Our hands, which had been connected, were now separated.

“A phone call…?” (Rui)

“Uh, it’s not mine? The ringtone is different…” (Ayaka)

So that means… my phone is ringing? I slowly turned my gaze towards the source of the sound and saw my phone lighting up on the desk. It was unmistakably mine…

“……” (Rui)

…Seriously. 

…Seriously, Rui… why didn’t you put your phone on silent mode at a time like this…? Baka! I’m such a baka!!

But regretting it wouldn’t turn back time, and the call continued to ring mercilessly… Ayaka looked a bit awkward.

“…You can answer it.” (Ayaka)

“N-No… I can’t just…” (Rui)

Ignoring the call wouldn’t restore the mood from before… What should I do? Should I ignore it, forcefully turn off the phone, or just throw it away…?

“…Just answer it. If someone’s calling at this hour, it might be important.” (Ayaka)

“…Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.” (Rui)

Unable to refute Ayaka’s logic, I apologized to her and obediently picked up the phone from the desk. When I looked at the screen, I saw the name “Manager Nemoto”.

“…Nemo-san?” (Rui)

Though I regularly communicated with Nemo-san for work, this was the first time she called at such a late hour. Could there have been some trouble? With a hint of anxiety, I answered the call.

“……Hello?” (Rui)

Then, I heard Nemo-san’s usual voice.

“(Ah, sorry to bother you so late, Rui-kun. Is this a good time?)” (Nemoto)

“Ah, yes… it’s fine…” (Rui)

“(Really? You don’t sound very energetic… By the way, what were you doing just before I called?)” (Nemoto)

…There’s no way I could say something like “I was about to sleep with Ayaka”.

“….I was doing some training.” (Rui)

“(Oh, like muscle training?)” (Nemoto)

“…Yes, that’s right.” (Rui)

Well, Nemo-san interpreted it in a way that worked out for me. 

With that, Nemo-san cleared her throat, changing the mood completely with her energetic voice.

“(Well then, let’s get to the point! Congratulations, Rui-kun! You’ve surpassed a 100,000 subscribers!)” (Nemoto)

“…Eh? Ehhh?!” (Rui)

I was so taken aback by the unexpected news that I didn’t know how to react. Then, Nemo-san, sounding puzzled, continued.

“(Rui-kun, didn’t you notice?)” (Nemoto)

“Uh, no, let me check… Ah, it’s true!?” (Rui)

Keeping the call connected, I navigated to my own channel… and there it was—100,000 subscribers.

No way…!? Isn’t this too fast…!? I mean, I debuted just over a month ago…!

“(Come on, Rui-kun, get it together. Your fans are celebrating on Twitter too.)” (Nemoto)

“Eh, really…? I’ll make sure to thank them later.” (Rui)

“(Yes, please do that… Also, Rui-kun, I’ve been meaning to tell you, but make sure to apply for monetization, okay? You should be eligible by now.)” (Nemoto)

Monetization…? Oh, does she mean…

“You mean like super chats and stuff?” (Rui)

“(Yes, that and more. There are also ad revenues. If you monetize, your income will increase too… There are also a lot of people who wants to support you financially, so it’s all good, you know?)” (Nemoto)

“Ehh…? Are there really people like that…?” (Rui)

“(Of course there are. You might not realize it, but you’re already a popular VTuber. That’s why you reached 100,000 subscribers so quickly.)” (Nemoto)

“I see… I mean, I’m happy if people just watch my streams, but… Well, I wouldn’t mind getting some money…” (Rui)

“(Well then, I’ve told you everything I needed to, so I’ll let you go now. Keep up the great work, Rui-kun.)” (Nemoto)

“Ah, yes, thank you, Nemo-san.” (Rui)

“(You’re welcome. Goodbye.)” (Nemoto)

With that, the call ended… I turned my gaze back to Ayaka, who had apparently been watching me the whole time. Our eyes met.

“…Did you hear all that?” (Rui)

Ayaka nodded at my words.

“Yeah. You’ve already hit 100,000 subscribers. That’s amazing, Rui. You don’t see that kind of growth very often.” (Ayaka)

“Is that so? But this is all thanks to everyone. The collaborations and shows definitely played a big part…” (Rui)

“No, Rui’s effort is a big part of it too. You wouldn’t reach 100,000 subscribers so quickly with just the help of others. I know that better than anyone. Rui, you should be more confident.” (Ayaka)

“I see… Thanks.” (Rui)

“No need to thank me. You’re really good at interacting with your viewers, you’re really good at games, and you know how to keep the streams lively with your talk. Rui, you deserved your success.” (Ayaka)

…Yeah, that’s right. Ayaka is someone who never stops working hard to grow as a streamer. If Ayaka says so… maybe it’s better to accept it sincerely. 

“Yeah, that might be true.” (Rui)

“Yeah, it is.” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

“Oh, right. After reaching 100,000 subscribers. Will I get ‘that’?” (Rui)

“You mean the Silver Play Button?” (Ayaka)

“Oh… yeah, that thing. It looks cool, so I want to put one up at home.” (Rui)

“Ahh… seems like everyone displays theirs at the agency.” (Ayaka)

“Huh, really…? That’s too bad…” (Rui)

“…How about asking management? They might make an exception for you.” (Ayaka)

“No… it’s not like I want it that much…” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“…Hehe!” (Ayaka)

“…Haha!” (Rui)

At that moment, we exchanged glances and burst into laughter. It felt like all the tension between us had melted away… like we had returned to our childhood. Somehow, it felt really comforting.

Then I hopped onto the bed again and lay down next to Ayaka.

“Hahaha, this feels amazing!” (Rui)

“Hehe, my childhood friend is really something! I’m proud of you too!” (Ayaka)

“Oh come on, it’s not that impressive!” (Rui)

“Maybe so.” (Ayaka)

“No, don’t take back your word so quickly!” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“Ahaha!” (Both)

We laughed again. As silly as our banter was, it was fun. Despite the cheesy lines, I couldn’t help but wish this moment could last forever.

“…Hey, Rui, do it again.” (Ayaka)

“Eh?” (Rui)

“We got interrupted by the call, so can you say it again?” (Ayaka)

“…Say what?” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

Then Ayaka, without a word, pinched my arm hard.

“Ow! Ow! Ow! I get it! I get it already!!” (Rui)

“…Then don’t be mean to me.” (Ayaka)

With that, Ayaka released her grip… Ah, I really can’t win against my cute childhood friend.

“…Yeah. …I like you too, Ayaka.” (Rui)

“Hehe, ehehe…!” (Ayaka)

👻👻👻

…After that, we both couldn’t get back to sleep so we slurped down some cup noodles for a midnight snack while brainstorming ideas for my 100,000 subscribers celebration stream.

We came up with various things, like inviting guests and singing sessions, but nothing concrete was decided… Eventually, we both got exhausted and fell asleep without realizing it. My memory’s a bit fuzzy, so I don’t even remember if we ended up sleeping in the same bed.

So, I don’t think anything weird happened… probably. Maybe?

👻👻👻

“…Nnn… Mmm…” (Rui)

The next day, I woke up to the sound of birds chirping… Sorry, that’s a lie. I just wanted to say that. But anyways.

“…Huh?” (Rui)

I noticed Ayaka wasn’t beside me. But there were some traces of someone being here, so she definitely had been here a while ago… Maybe she’s already up? With that thought, I got up and started looking for her.

“Hey, Ayaka… Hm?” (Rui)

At that moment, I heard a noise coming from the kitchen. Walking over, I found…

“Oh, good morning, Rui!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka, still wearing my shirt, stood in the kitchen with a pair of cooking chopsticks in hand. In front of her was a lit stove with a frying pan on it… Slightly bewildered, I greeted her back.

“Oh, good morning… What are you doing?” (Rui)

“What do you mean? Isn’t it obvious? I’m making breakfast!” (Ayaka)

“Eh… why are you doing that?” (Rui)

“Didn’t you say you wanted to eat a bento box before? So I thought this was a good opportunity to make one for you! …Oh, I hope it’s okay if I use the stuff in your fridge?” (Ayaka)

“Well, yeah, that’s fine…” (Rui)

…Though, I hope nothing’s expired. Those eggs have been in there for a while… Well, they should be okay once they’re cooked.

“Hehe, glad to hear that! It’ll be ready soon, so just wait a bit, okay?” (Ayaka)

With that, Ayaka turned her attention back to the frying pan in front of her. Waiting doesn’t really sit well with me… but there doesn’t seem to be much I can help with. Well, I should at least thank her.

“Hey, Ayaka.” (Rui)

“Hmm?” (Ayaka)

“…Thanks for making this for me.” (Rui)

Ayaka turned around to face me again.

“Hehe, it’s nothing! I just wanted to see your happy face.” (Ayaka)

She said it with an angelic smile… Oh no. I’m totally in love.

👻👻👻

“Alright, it’s done!” (Ayaka)

A few minutes later, Ayaka came to the table with a small bento box. I remember buying bento boxes during a sale, but since I rarely cook for myself, I never had the chance to use them. Seeing it in use like this made me a little happy.

I leaned forward to peek inside the bento box. Inside, there were my favorite foods: rolled omelette, sausages, fried chicken, and more. It was, in essence, my ideal bento. Well, since it was all made from what was in my fridge, it was only natural it turned out that way.

“Wow, it looks delicious. It’s been a while since I’ve had a homemade bento…!” (Rui)

“Rui, don’t you ever make your own bentos?” (Ayaka)

“Well, I want to, but…” (Rui)

Of course, I know it’s better to cook for myself, but I’m just too busy to do it. Wait, now that I think about it, what’s Ayaka going to eat?

“Hey, Ayaka, what about your own food?” (Rui)

“I’m fine. I usually skip breakfast.” (Ayaka)

“Nonono, that won’t do. You went through the trouble of making this, so let’s eat it together.” (Rui)

Ayaka showed a slightly troubled expression at first, but with a little more persuasion, she seemed to agree.

“Hmm… okay!” (Ayaka)

With that, Ayaka nodded. I went and gathered two sets of chopsticks and gave her a pair.

“Alright then… Itadakimasu!” (Rui)

Itadakimasu!” (Ayaka)

I picked up the chopsticks and brought the rolled omelette to my mouth. As I chewed, Ayaka’s gaze was fixed on me, and she asked with a hint of anxiety.

“So… how does it taste, Rui?” (Ayaka)

“It’s really good.” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

“…What’s with that ‘one more time’ face?” (Rui)

“Eh, was I making that face?” (Ayaka)

“You were.” (Rui)

Maybe she was hoping for me to say something like “I want to eat your food every day”? That’s too embarrassing to say directly, but I could hint at it.

“Well, I know that Ayaka is good at cooking. I’m sure you’ll make a great wife someday.” (Rui)

“That’s…” (Ayaka)

“Hm?” (Rui)

“Is it okay to take what you said as ’that1’?” (Ayaka)

“Eh? W-Well… I’ll leave it to your interpretation.” (Rui)

Then Ayaka closed her eyes and placed a hand on her chest as if savoring the words… W-What? This is kind of scary, Ayaka-san.

“Um, so, Ayaka. About yesterday… there’s something we still need to decide on properly.” (Rui)

“…The wedding date?” (Ayaka)

“No, that’s skipping a lot of steps!” (Rui)

That scared me… is this girl trying to speedrun marriage?

“…Well, it’s not entirely off-topic, but… regarding our relationship, should we hold off on things like officially dating?” (Rui)

When I said that, the light in Ayaka’s eyes immediately dimmed…

“Huh… so everything you said yesterday was a lie?” (Ayaka)

“Nonono!! Calm down, Ayaka! What I mean is that we shouldn’t tell others. The main point is, that we’re VTubers, right? And not just that, we are also affiliated with an agency… If we were to publicly declare that we’re dating, it would cause a lot of trouble, right!?” (Rui)

“Well, yeah… I guess so.” (Ayaka)

Imagining that situation, Ayaka reluctantly nodded. At least some light has recovered in her eyes.

“So… while we’re still VTubers, we can’t officially date! Well, I honestly don’t know if it’s strictly prohibited without checking with management, but I think they’d probably put a stop to it.” (Rui)

“…What about dating in secret?” (Ayaka)

“I thought about that too… but I don’t think you could keep it a secret, Ayaka.” (Rui)

“I-I totally can! I’m capable of that much!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka protested, but it seems quite challenging, doesn’t it?

“I mean, it’s not just the viewers, but also other VTubers and staff. We’re basically always live streaming, and in that kind of environment, any careless remark that slips out even once, even for a moment, will stay on the internet forever.” (Rui)

“……” (Ayaka)

“With that in mind… do you really think we could keep it a secret for long?” (Rui)

Ayaka showed a thoughtful expression… and after a moment, she reached her conclusion.

“…That might be tough.” (Ayaka)

“Exactly. I don’t think I could do it either. I mean, my first stream was already a disaster. I’ll probably be the first one to mess up.” (Rui)

“……” (Ayaka)

Hearing this, Ayaka looked sad… But of course, it’s not that I don’t want to date her.

“…Let’s compromise a bit. We can act like a couple, or something close to that, only when we’re alone and completely off-stream. To avoid risks, let’s ban any romantic messages or calls. How does that sound?” (Rui)

When I said this, Ayaka gradually started to smile again. 

“Yeah… I think that’s good.” (Ayaka)

“Great. And remember, don’t tell anyone about this… and no hinting at it either. Fans are like FBI agents when it comes to digging up relationship details.” (Rui)

“Got it!” (Ayaka)

In the end, Ayaka returned to her usual self.

“Yeah. Our relationship will be pretty restricted… I’m sorry, Ayaka.” (Rui)

“No, it’s okay. I already know that you really love me, Rui!” (Ayaka)

“…You, seriously…” (Rui)

“Ehehe?” (Ayaka)

Ayaka gave a mischievous smile. Just seeing that expression now makes me smile too.

“Well, it’s not like we can’t see each other at all. Let’s go out and have fun sometime, okay?” (Rui)

“Yeah! I’m looking forward to it!” (Ayaka)

“Haha… Well then, Ayaka, let’s eat the bento together. It’s really good.” (Rui)

“Hehe~ Of course, I made it after all!” (Ayaka)

And with that, we laughed together… and enjoyed the bento together. There’s no doubt that this moment was the most enjoyable breakfast time in my life so far.

👻👻👻

…After finishing breakfast, Ayaka changed into her washed clothes and was preparing to leave. As Ayaka was putting on her shoes at the entrance, I asked her.

“Ayaka, did you forget anything?” (Rui)

“No, I think I’m good.” (Ayaka)

“Alright then. Take care on your way back.” (Rui)

“Yeah… Thanks, Rui.” (Ayaka)

Even as she said that, Ayaka didn’t move… A few seconds later, without a word, Ayaka turned back and looked straight into my eyes.

“What’s wrong?” (Rui)

“…Well, I just felt so happy. I didn’t want to go home.” (Ayaka)

Seeing Ayaka’s blushing face and hearing her soft voice was amusing and a little cute. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Heh, I see. I guess staying another day wouldn’t be a problem… but you have things to do, right?” (Rui)

“Eh?” (Ayaka)

“Yesterday, you lied about having ‘no plans’ for today, right? I get it now… because there was that weird pause back then.” (Rui)

When I said that, Ayaka let out a big sigh.

“Haaaa… my boyfriend is really sharp about the most irrelevant things.” (Ayaka)

With such casual words, Ayaka continued.

“Yeah, you got me. I actually got a school test today.” (Ayaka)

“E…Ehhh!? Ayaka, that’s important, isn’t it?! Hurry up and go!” (Rui)

Her ‘plan’ was so unexpectedly crucial that I ended up more flustered than she did. I mean, tests are a big deal, right? So why are you so relaxed about it…!

“I’ll probably be late… but I’ll go now. Thanks for letting me stay.” (Ayaka)

Ayaka reluctantly takes a step forward and reaches for the doorknob. Just as she was about to open the door… At that moment, I instinctively took a step forward, reaching out and grabbing her shoulder.

“Eh… Rui?” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

I knew I shouldn’t try to stop her. I hadn’t planned to. But my body moved unconsciously. 

It felt like I wasn’t in control of myself, and that scared me… No, I was probably just pretending not to notice it again. 

Deep down, I didn’t want Ayaka to leave. I felt lonely without her…

“What’s wrong?” (Ayaka)

“…No, I just realized I hadn’t properly thanked you for making breakfast.” (Rui)

“Huh? Oh, it’s fine. I can make it anytime for you…” (Ayaka)

“No, let me say it. Thank you so much, Ayaka.” (Rui)

“Huh, w-wait…!?” (Ayaka)

With that, I gently hugged Ayaka and stroked her head. It was just a pretext that I wanted to thank her. I just wanted to touch Ayaka. I just wanted to feel her warmth.

“…” (Ayaka)

Ayaka, who initially seemed surprised, quickly accepted it. She leaned her weight against my chest, wrapping her arms around my back. And as she did, she enthusiastically pressed her head against my body.

“…” (Rui)

Silence stretched on for several tens of seconds. At first, it was enjoyable and comforting. However, I gradually regained my composure. Realizing that I stopped her for such a reason, I snapped back to my senses and stopped stroking her head.

“…?” (Ayaka)

Perhaps puzzled by my sudden change, Ayaka lifted her head and looked at me with upturned eyes. Oh no, what should I do… how do I explain myself!?

“…Um, well, uh, I just remembered that you mentioned before how you wanted your head to be patted… so, um… sorry!” (Rui)

Realizing I couldn’t bluff my way out anymore, I resigned myself and sincerely apologized, bowing my head. But Ayaka didn’t seem upset at all; she just chuckled softly.

“…I guess Rui really isn’t good with this sort of thing.” (Ayaka)

“Huh? What do you mean by that…?” (Rui)

“Well, you did try your best, in your own way… In such a situation, this is what you do.” (Ayaka)

“…?” (Rui)

Ayaka came close to me… and gently pressed her lips against mine.

“……!?” (Rui)

“Nnn….” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“……Haa” (Ayaka)

After Ayaka pulled away from my lips, she showed the most mischievous smile I’d ever seen from her.

“Heheh, isn’t this kind of thing normal for lovers?” (Ayaka)

“…………Ah, um…” (Rui)

Caught off guard, I couldn’t find the words to respond. Meanwhile, Ayaka waved her hand near my face.

“Hehe, well then, see you later, Rui! I’ll come visit again another day!” (Ayaka)

With that, Ayaka opened the door and left my house. I stood there in a daze, murmuring to myself the only thing that came to mind…

“…………It was really soft…” (Rui)


Illustration of the kiss

Ayaka came close to me… and gently pressed her lips against mine.


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

So yeah, they’re dating now. I never thought that the day would come so quickly but it did. Now, I’m looking forward to when they officially announce that they’re dating. I need to know how the viewers would react to this.


Footnote:

  1. Probably talking about a proposal

CFVT – Vol 1 Chapter 6 Part 4 – A Sudden Invitation for an Off-Collab

We moved to the bedroom, and I lay down on the bed. Ah, if Ayaka was going to use this place too, I should have cleaned it properly… I thought to myself as I picked up a strand of fallen hair.

“Hehe, don’t mind me!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka got onto the bed as well. The bed creaked with a groan, and our bodies touched… but something like this wouldn’t make me nervous. That’s because… I remembered the method of calming myself down by counting prime numbers.

“…Oh. We’re quite close, aren’t we?” (Ayaka)

“…Huh!?” (Rui)

I turned to the side and saw Ayaka’s face closer than I had ever seen before. Ah, wait, looking at her like this, she’s actually pretty cute…? No, calm down, calm down! 2, 3, 5, 7, 9… No, 9 isn’t a prime number…!!

“Rui, you really have such fair skin. I’m so jealous. Is it because you don’t go outside much?” (Ayaka)

Then Ayaka placed her hand on my cheek. Her feminine, slender fingers were incredibly ticklish… I couldn’t take it anymore.

“…Da-daaaah! That’s enough!!” (Rui)

I yelled as I jumped up from the bed and quickly moved away from her.

“Ah, Rui, where are you going?” (Ayaka)

“I-I’m going to go take a shower too!” (Rui)

With that, I headed straight to the changing room without looking back even once.

“…Haa… haa… Can my sanity really hold out until tomorrow…!?” (Rui)

👻👻👻

After that, I took a shower and changed into my usual sleepwear. When I was alone, I didn’t pay much attention to it, but the baggy navy blue shirt and the pants with holes in them which I usually wear were a bit embarrassing if someone saw them.

“…Well, Ayaka’s outfit is way more embarrassing…” (Rui)

Muttering this, I grabbed a towel and dried my hair as I left the changing room. Heading back to the bedroom, I saw…

“…W-What…?” (Rui)

There lay Ayaka on her back, eyes closed. She was completely unguarded, not covered by anything, and had her legs spread wide open.

“Hey, Ayaka… are you asleep?” (Rui)

“……” (Ayaka)

Ayaka didn’t respond. As I got closer, I noticed that one of the buttons on her shirt, which had been fastened earlier, was now undone. If I got even closer, I might catch a glimpse of her modest cleavage…

“………” (Ayaka)

…This was definitely a trap. There was no way Ayaka, who had been so energetic just a moment ago, could fall asleep so quickly. Besides, her breathing sounded way too deliberate… Listen, she’s even going “suu-suu” in such a clear manner. Only anime characters breathe like that.

Yeah, considering this… If I did anything weird, Ayaka would open her eyes at that moment, catch me, and relentlessly tease me… But, pretending to sleep doesn’t work in front of Detective Rui. Too bad for her.

“…Phew.” (Rui)

Calmly, I took the blanket next to me and draped it over Ayaka, then muttered softly.

“Ah, Ayaka seems to be asleep. I guess I can go sleep on the floor now.” (Rui)

“…What! You can’t do that!” (Ayaka)

“Guess you’re not asleep after all.” (Rui)

At my retort, Ayaka sat up and met my gaze, then quickly covered her mouth with her hand, looking like she realized she had been caught.

“Why were you pretending to be asleep?” (Rui)

“Well… I was curious about what you would do.” (Ayaka)

“…I told you before. I wouldn’t do anything like that.” (Rui)

Though I said this, I only acted so gentlemanly because I knew Ayaka was awake. If she had really been asleep, I don’t know what I might have done…

Ayaka looked a bit remorseful, keeping her head down.

“Yeah… Sorry about trying something like that.” (Ayaka)

“…It’s fine. But seriously, don’t do that to anyone else, okay?” (Rui)

Ayaka responded eagerly.

“I know. I did it because it was you, Rui.” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

Yeah… As I’ve said before, Ayaka trusts me way too much, or something… It makes me a little worried. Or maybe I’m just overthinking it?

“Hehe… Well then, Rui, shall we go to bed earlier?” (Ayaka)

Ayaka made such a suggestion. It was indeed a bit early to sleep as she said, but staying awake like this would only make me unnecessarily tense. Perhaps it’s best to lose consciousness sooner rather than later while I’m still myself.

“Yeah… You’re right. Let’s sleep.” (Rui)

Accepting Ayaka’s suggestion, I sat on the edge of the bed. Ayaka seemed to take a proper look at my attire and gently pulled at my sleeve.

“You know, Rui, your outfit looks kinda cute and fresh like this, doesn’t it?” (Ayaka)

“Don’t stare too much… Besides, your outfit is more daring, isn’t it?” (Rui)

“Huh? Ah, hehe…” (Ayaka)

Ayaka chuckled and scratched her head at my remark. At least, she still had a sense of embarrassment… I felt relieved.

“…Anyway, shouldn’t you put on some pants already? It’s gonna get cold later.” (Rui)

“It’s fine. The room is warm enough. Besides… I want to enjoy this outfit to the fullest since I probably won’t get another chance, you know?” (Ayaka)

“Oh, I see… Well then, feel free to do as you please.” (Rui)

Half in disbelief, I lay down and picked up the remote control for the lights.

“Okay, I’m turning off the lights.” (Rui)

“Yeah!” (Ayaka)

Confirming that Ayaka had also laid down, I pressed the button and dimmed the room. Ayaka’s figure became vague in the darkness, but I could definitely feel her warmth next to me.

“…” (Rui)

Suddenly, I thought to myself. Lying down facing this way means I’m facing Ayaka… No, no, no, I can’t overthink this, or I won’t be able to sleep.

Thinking that way, I rolled over to face away from Ayaka, trying to put as much distance between us as possible without falling off the bed.

“Hey Rui, don’t hog the blanket!” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“And if you move away that much, you’ll fall off!” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“Well, if that’s how you can sleep comfortably, then I guess it’s okay…” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“Come on, Rui. Say something?” (Ayaka)

“…I thought we were going to sleep?” (Rui)

At my words, Ayaka giggled softly.

“Hehe, the real show starts once we’re under the covers, right? In a dark room like this, lying here together, looking up at the ceiling… Just talking without moving our faces is the most fun, don’t you think?” (Ayaka)

“Sounds like a school trip.” (Rui)

“Do you have someone you like, Rui?” (Ayaka)

“Exactly like a school trip…” (Rui)

“…I do.” (Ayaka)

“……Huh?” (Rui)

Ayaka’s unexpected words caused time to momentarily freeze… Wait, who?

“…………” (Rui)

I couldn’t say anything. The words almost came out but didn’t. I was scared. Scared of… of someone else’s name coming out.

“…………” (Rui)

…What’s this? Why am I feeling so anxious? Ayaka is an important childhood friend to me. If she likes someone else, shouldn’t I support her? Isn’t encouraging her what a true friend would do…?

…And yet, despite that… Why is my breathing suddenly so tight…!?

“…………” (Rui)

Ayaka says nothing. She’s waiting. Waiting for a response. If I don’t ask, she won’t say anything… Come on, gather your courage. Ask calmly, without letting on that you’re flustered… Speak up, Rui!!

“…………Who is it?” (Rui)

“It’s you, Rui.” (Ayaka)

“Wha───!?” (Rui)

W-Wait, did I mishear…? No, she definitely said my name… So that means Ayaka likes me──

“…………And also, there’s Karen-chan, Ibuki, Mochi-chan, Lily-chan, Raimu-chan… Oh, and Robin-kun too!” (Ayaka)

“…………Huh?” (Rui)

“These are the people I like!” (Ayaka)

“…………” (Rui)

…My mind went completely blank. I… I can’t think straight. If I were to describe my current feelings… It’s like someone meticulously built a tower of blocks, only to have it completely demolished right before my eyes…

N-No… I mean, she did say ‘someone I like’, but…! The way she said it makes it sound like she meant ‘love’, right…!? It was a misunderstanding, so it’s not my fault… right!?”

“Oh, um… I, I just…” (Rui)

“Just what?” (Ayaka)

“…It’s nothing.” (Rui)

Anyway… It seems I jumped to conclusions too quickly. Damn it… She had to say things that could be misinterpreted like that… 

But there was a part of me that regained some composure. If you think about it, Ayaka might only have feelings for me as a friend… but, isn’t that something to be happy about…!?

“Is that so? What about you, Rui?” (Ayaka)

Ayaka then turned the question to me. If her ‘someone I like’ meant ‘like as a friend,’ then I could easily answer too…

“Yeah, I… I like everyone too. Sure, some of them have strong quirks, but everyone I’ve interacted with has been really kind. I’m grateful not just to the VTubers, but also to the managers, staff, and Shiosawa-san. I’m really glad I came to this side of the world.” (Rui)

I found myself naturally expressing these feelings. The past month since becoming a VTuber has been undoubtedly the most challenging and yet the most enjoyable time of my life.

It was because I felt I had made good friends among the VTubers, had the support of the staff, and received encouragement from the viewers.

Well, of course… The person in front of me is the biggest reason for this.

“Hehe, I see! I’m glad I could hear those words, Rui!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka smiled as she said that… Then her voice softened. 

“…I’ll say it as many times as it takes. I’ve been really happy ever since you joined us. I felt really blessed.” (Ayaka)

“That sounds a bit exaggerated…” (Rui)

“No, it’s not exaggerated at all.” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

My attempt to casually brush it off was met with a serious tone of denial, leaving me speechless… Silence hung between us for several tens of seconds. Then, it was Ayaka who spoke next.

“…………You know, Rui. I actually lied today.” (Ayaka)

“…Lied? About why you became a VTuber?” (Rui)

Realizing where she might be heading, I asked Ayaka. She smiled faintly, seemingly a bit surprised.

“Ha… Yeah, you’re sharp where it counts, Rui.” (Ayaka)

And after a moment, Ayaka admitted it.

“Yeah… You’re right. There was a different reason why I became a VTuber.” (Ayaka)

“Is that so?” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“…Huh, you’re not asking?” (Ayaka)

“If it’s something you left ambiguous to hide, I won’t push you to tell me.” (Rui)

“But earlier you asked me about who I like, even though I left it ambiguous…” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

…You know that what you said before was suggestive and can be misunderstood, right?

…With that, Ayaka seemed to have some thoughts, but I didn’t press further.

“Well… I want you to hear it, so let me say it.” (Ayaka)

“Okay… What’s the reason?” (Rui)

“I was lonely.” (Ayaka)

“…Huh?” (Rui)

Her unexpected answer momentarily stunned me. Lonely…?

“What do you mean? It’s not like you don’t have friends, right?” (Rui)

“Well… I wouldn’t say I have absolutely no friends. But it’s just that, I don’t have anyone close enough whom I can talk to about anything.” (Ayaka)

“Well, most people don’t have that kind of friends, right? Besides, you… weren’t you part of that popular group back in middle school?” (Rui)

Ayaka chuckled at my remark.

“What are you talking about, Rui? And that middle school group… We weren’t close at all.” (Ayaka)

“Even though you were always with a group?” (Rui)

“Girls have their reasons.” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

…Ah, so that’s how it was. I heard before that there lies some darkness within girl groups… And Ayaka seemed a bit sad as she talked.

“…So, the only person I could trust was my childhood friend Rui. But at some point… Rui started distancing himself from me. He would walk away whenever I tried to talk to him at school. Then he went to a high school I’d never even heard of, far away. He didn’t say anything to me, and even moved out of his parents’ house.” (Ayaka)

“……….W-Well, that’s…” (Rui)

Seeing me unable to respond after hitting a sore spot, Ayaka softened her tone.

“Well, I’m not blaming you. It was all your decision, Rui. It’s my fault for clinging to the past and thinking about you all that time.” (Ayaka)

“Ayaka…” (Rui)

“But you know, deep down, even though I knew that it wasn’t true…. I thought maybe you had come to dislike me back then.” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“That’s why I couldn’t bring myself up to see you. I couldn’t even call you. Sending occasional messages was the best I could do. But even then, there were times when I didn’t get a reply from you.” (Ayaka)

“Sorry… I’m really sorry…” (Rui)

I apologized reflexively. Looking back, my actions at that time could easily have been misunderstood. I had truly been awful…

“Then, at that time… I heard about VTuber auditions. VTubers were becoming a big thing back then, and I knew about them. I wondered if becoming a VTuber might change something for me. Maybe I’d find a close friend, maybe I wouldn’t feel so lonely anymore. So, I decided to apply to be one.” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“I must admit, my motives were pretty awful. But for some reason, the audition went smoothly… and I managed to pass. The world accepted someone like me, and I even gained a bit of popularity. I made friends like Ibuki and Karen-chan. It was a lot of fun, and it still is. But, in the end… I still couldn’t forget about Rui. I realized there’s no one to replace Rui.” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

“One day, I had an idea to invite Rui over to my place and stream.” (Ayaka)

“Why would you do that?” (Rui)

“I wanted Rui to know that I became a VTuber, I wanted viewers to know how good Rui was at games, and I wanted to spice up my stream that was getting a bit stale… There were various reasons, but the biggest reason would be that I just wanted to see you again, Rui. So, I gathered my courage and invited Rui over.” (Ayaka)

“…So that’s how it was.” (Rui)

I hadn’t thought too much about why Ayaka invited me over, and her behavior didn’t seem off, so I hadn’t suspected anything. But she has been struggling internally all this time.  Ah, I hate how oblivious I can be… Why couldn’t I have realized sooner?

I regretfully bite my lip. But Ayaka’s tone is becoming brighter and brighter.

“…But you know, when Rui finally came to my house and I saw you, I immediately felt relieved. Because you hadn’t changed at all. I thought, ‘Ah, everything was all just my misunderstanding.’ And after the stream ended, when you said, ‘It was fun playing together after such a long time,’ I was really really happy!” (Ayaka)

“…………!” (Rui)

Ayaka’s words nearly brought tears to my eyes. But I couldn’t cry… because all this time, Ayaka was the one who was suffering.

“I see… I’m sorry. Sorry for making you misunderstand and avoiding you. At that time… I just felt embarrassed about being teased for being with you… I never once hated you or anything like that.” (Rui)

“Oh, um…!” (Ayaka)

Feeling that words alone might not convey everything, I tightly grasped Ayaka’s hand. She seemed a bit surprised by my action, but…

“…I’m glad. I’m really glad that wasn’t the case…!” (Ayaka)

She accepted it immediately. Ayaka brought my hand close to her chest. Rather than the softness of her chest that I touched, I became aware of the beating of her heart. The Ayaka who had teased me so much until just now… her heart was beating rapidly. She was conscious of me.

“…Ah, um, Rui. I’m sorry about earlier… I’ll tell you again without chickening out this time. I want you to listen to me properly.” (Ayaka)

For a moment, I was about to ask, “What is it?” but decided against it. Ayaka’s voice was trembling so much. I could sense what she was about to say next.

“……” (Rui)

“……” (Ayaka)

And after a long, long time passed… Ayaka finally said it.

“Rui, I’ve liked you for a long time. Of course, I mean romantically.” (Ayaka)


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

Oh no! What is cliffhanger-san doing here?! Well, it’s because the next part will be longer than this one, and it’s already midnight when I translated this.

Yeh, I wasn’t kidding when I said there was a lot of romantic development happening. It’s rare for a confession to happen in volume 1 in a LN that isn’t a one-shot, so I really didn’t expect this. Well, I hope there are future volumes at least.


Footnote:

  1. None

CFVT – Vol 1 Chapter 6 Part 3 – A Sudden Invitation for an Off-Collab

After that, we continued to play games till the end, and the stream was gradually coming to an end.

“Alright then. Shall we start wrapping up?” (Rui)

Comments: 『Eh』

Comments: 『Already over?』

Comments: 『Time flies when you’re having fun, huh?』

Comments: 『Wait』

Comments: 『How about a second round?』

“Oh yeah. I definitely want to do a second round.” (Rei)

Ayaka picked up on the comments and was about to say something, but it was already past 9 PM. If they were to play another round now, it would become quite late. Before I could convey this to her, Robin spoke up first.

“Hmm, while everyone seems eager to play… it’s already dark outside. Maybe we should wrap things up around here, as Rui said?” (Robin)

“Yeah, I think so too! It’s a bit sad, but I think that’s for the best! …But Rei-san, let’s all come together again soon and play games again or something!” (Karen)

She said that with a smile. Upon hearing this, Ayaka didn’t particularly protest and agreed with a smile.

“Yeah, that’s right! Got it! Then let’s wrap it up for today!” (Rei)

That’s what she said… And then, everyone’s gaze turned towards me. Once again, I delivered the closing words.

“Well then, that concludes today’s Owen group collaboration! Thanks to everyone who’s watching for stopping by!” (Rui)

Comments: 『Good job!』

Comments: 『Nice work!』

Comments: 『That was fun!』

Comments: 『Good job, Rui!』

Comments: 『Say ‘good job, Rui (OtsuRui)’1!』

Comments: 『Do it!』

…Looks like some sort of template has been set up without me knowing, huh? But when someone tells me to say something like that, I feel like doing the opposite… 

While thinking that, I look at the three of them, who seem to be grinning for some reason… I quickly understand the meaning behind it.

“Hehe! OtsuRui!” (Rei)

“OtsuRui!” (Karen)

“Hmph, OtsuRui!” (Robin)

Comments: 『They did ittttt!』

Comments: 『Wowww!』

Comments: 『Thank you!』

Comments: 『Much appreciated.』

Comments: 『Now it’s just Rui, right?』

“No, why do you guys have to say it…?” (Rui)

“Well, because Rui isn’t saying it, right? We all feel sorry for you, you know?” (Rei)

Feeling sorry for me… sigh. If it ends like this, I’ll be the bad guy… Ah, damn it… If you want it that badly, I’ll say it, damn it…

“…OtsuRui…” (Rui)

Comments: 『Kyaaa!!』

Comments: 『So cute!!!!』

Comments: 『Thank you thank you!』

Comments: 『Now I can live peacefully.』

Comments: 『Since Rui said ‘OtsuRui’ today is officially OtsuRui Appreciation Day!』

“…” (Rui)

Not wanting to see any more comments flowing in like that, I silently ended the livestream.

👻👻👻

“Great job, everyone!” (Karen)

“Good job! Today was so much fun!” (Ayaka)

“Yeah, it really was.” (Robin)

After the stream ended, the three of them sat around eating leftover snacks, having what seemed like a post-stream discussion. They all had their phones out… Wait, are they taking photos?

Curious, I peeked at Ayaka’s phone. There, I saw a tweet with a blue and white background. Ah, could it be they’re tweeting something after the live stream…

“…Ah, Rui, you peeked at my phone. Being sneaky, aren’t you?” (Ayaka)

“Well, I was just curious… Sorry for looking without asking. You guys are serious about this. Are you tweeting now that the stream over?” (Rui)

“Yeah, that’s right. Come to think of it, Rui hardly ever tweets, huh? What a waste.” (Ayaka)

“A waste? Well… I know I should tweet regularly, but I never know what to write. And I’m afraid of getting unnecessary backlash or something.” (Rui)

I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with social media before becoming a VTuber. Back then, the only ones reacting to my tweets were spam accounts at best. Now, thousands of fans respond to them… I can’t afford to write something that might backfire.

Seemingly reading my mind, Ayaka encouraged me.

“No, you can just write what you think! Like, ‘That was fun!’ or ‘The food was delicious!'” (Ayaka)

“Is that really okay?” (Rui)

“Yeah, it’s fine! People want to know everything about someone they like, right?” (Ayaka)

Is that how it works… Well, if fans are following me to some extent, it means they’re seeking some kind of information from me. In that case… maybe I should try tweeting more often.

“Alright then, maybe I’ll tweet something. Um… ‘Had a great time today. Would love to collaborate again with this group if given the chance.’ How’s that?” (Rui)

“Well, that’s too formal! You’ve gotta use more emojis!” (Ayaka)

“I’m not really into using emojis though… Which one, like the one where the person has both of his hands up?” (Rui)

“Hehe, nobody uses that anymore!” (Ayaka)

“Is that so?” (Rui)

In my mind, it’s still common… Does this mean that ‘shobon2‘ is also outdated now? I liked that one.

“Yeah, it is! Here, let me show you! Give me your phone!” (Ayaka)

“Ah.” (Rui)

With that, she snatched my phone away and began typing something. After a few seconds, Ayaka showed me the screen.

“Here you go! ‘Thank you for watching the stream ♡ Today was amazing! ✨ This group is the best ❣️ I love them so much 💕’ How’s that?” (Ayaka)

“This is too much!! Don’t you dare post that!” (Rui)

“Huh? But I already did… Was it bad?” (Ayaka)

“What?!” (Rui)

I hastily snatched back my phone, but it was too late. Replies like “Someone’s phone got stolen lol” were already flooding in.

“Man, this is the worst… If I delete it now, it’ll look even worse. I can’t just delete it… I have to somehow explain…” (Rui)

“Wow, look at all those replies coming in! You’re creating so much buzz, Rui!” (Ayaka)

“This is not good! Baka!” (Rui)

“Hehe! I helped spread it around too!” (Ayaka)

“You idiot!!” (Rui)

Watching this whole exchange, the two of them burst into laughter, clapping their hands together.

“Hahaha! Rui Boy and Rei-san really get along well!” (Robin)

“Does it really… look like that?” (Rui)

“Yes, it does! You two look more like a married couple!” (Karen)

Oioi… if we were live, that comment would definitely have caused a stir… Well, it’s okay since we’re not streaming.

“…So they say, Rei-san.” (Rui)

A little annoyed, I used this chance to tease her. However, Ayaka didn’t seem particularly angry or embarrassed. Instead, she just smirked slightly.

“Hehe~ Is that so?” (Ayaka)

She smiled as if testing me… Why does she not seem bothered at all by that?

👻👻👻

─And after the post-stream discussion was over, Robin and Karen-san were about to leave my house. They finished putting on their shoes at the entrance and turned towards me.

“Heh, sorry for intruding today, Rui Boy!” (Robin)

“I had so much fun today! Let’s hang out again, Rui-san!” (Karen)

“Yeah, of course! Take care, both of you!” (Rui)

As I waved goodbye to them, I slowly closed the door. Then, I turned my gaze towards the girl, who was still lingering in the living room.

“…So, why aren’t you heading home, Ayaka?” (Rui)

“Ah, you finally called me by my name, Rui?” (Ayaka)

“…Haa.” (Rui)

I sighed and returned to the living room, using a cushion as a pillow, I lay down on the floor… I was completely relaxed at this point.

“Hey, that’s the cushion Karen-chan was sitting on, you know? How sneaky of you~” (Ayaka)

“It just so happened to be the closest, okay? Just a coincidence… By the way, have you been saying that word over and over? Is it trending or something?” (Rui)

“Have I? I only say ‘sneaky’ every time because Rui always does weird things.” (Ayaka)

“Oh, really… But the erotic book searching thing was definitely Robin’s fault.” (Rui)

“Wow, you’re not even holding back anymore?” (Ayaka)

“Well, you’re the only one here, so who cares…” (Rui)

If Karen or Robin were still here, I might have been a bit more considerate… Ayaka deliberately spoke with an exaggerated tone, covering her chest with her hands.

“Kyaa~ Rui is a wolf after all, huh? Don’t come any closer!” (Ayaka)

“…I’ll ask again, why aren’t you leaving, Ayaka?” (Rui)

Ignoring her, I asked again. Ayaka quickly pulled her hands away.

“Oh, well, you see… I thought I could help you tidy up the room!” (Ayaka)

“Tidy up?” (Rui)

I sat up and looked around. There were empty snack bags, four glasses still with drinks in them, the sash from today’s protagonist, and… golden balloons scattered about.

“Robin didn’t take these with him, huh…” (Rui)

“Hehe, maybe these are souvenirs from Robin-kun?” (Ayaka)

“I don’t need ’em!” (Rui)

I kicked the balloons aside, but they just mockingly floated around.

“Haa… Well, the place is a bit messy so I’d appreciate your help. But isn’t it weird for just you to stay at my place? Won’t they get the wrong idea?” (Rui)

“Huh? Wrong idea?” (Ayaka)

“Well, you know… Like, we’re in that kind of relationship?” (Rui)

Feeling somewhat embarrassed, I stumbled over my words… Ayaka seemed to find this amusing and smirked mischievously.

“Ahaha! Don’t worry, I’m just here to help clean up!” (Ayaka)

“Well, that’s good to hear… But you know that rumors spread quickly, right? Especially in the VTuber community, if there’s even a hint of something between us, it could cause problems.” (Rui)

“Huh? But there are also playful jokes about relationships between guys and girls. Viewers like to tease ‘so-and-so are totally into each other’.” (Ayaka)

“Is that so? So, are you saying you’d be fine if viewers or other VTubers joked about ‘Rui and Rei being into each other’?” (Rui)

…And with that confidence, Ayaka let out a flustered voice.

“Huh? Um… Well, that’s, uh…” (Ayaka)

“See? If you can’t handle it, maybe don’t tease me so much…” (Rui)

“…It’s okay?” (Ayaka)

“Huh?” (Rui)

I widened my eyes at her unexpected response… Ayaka, looking embarrassed, continued to speak while hiding her face behind her hair.

“I wouldn’t mind at all if people said Rui and I were a good match or into each other. In fact… I might even be a little happy if they did… ehehe.” (Ayaka)

What the… Seriously, what’s going on with her… Why do you have to make me embarrassed too? Ah, damn it… This is throwing me off…

“…Haa. Um… What should I say… Anyways, once we’re done cleaning up, hurry up and head home, okay? I’ll walk you to that point.” (Rui)

“Hehe! Rui, you’re really awkward… and kind, aren’t you?” (Ayaka)

“You’re so annoying sometimes… Come on, let’s clean up. Could you take those glasses to the sink? I’ll pick up the trash.” (Rui)

“Yeah, got it!” (Ayaka)

Following my instructions, Ayaka gathered the four glasses from the table into her arms and tried to carry them all at once…

“…Uwahhh!?” (Ayaka)

Midway through, Ayaka seemed to trip over a cord or something, letting out a scream as she tumbled over. Naturally, the glasses she was carrying were sent flying and all of them shattered loudly.

“Hey!? Are you okay, Ayaka!?” (Rui)

Rushing over to her, she looked like she was on the verge of tears.

“…Ah, I-I’m sorry… I broke Rui’s glass…” (Ayaka)

Baka, that doesn’t matter! Are you hurt!?” (Rui)

“Y-Yeah… I’m okay…” (Ayaka)

Relieved to hear that, I let out a sigh. But Ayaka seemed quite down after her blunder.

“Well, that’s good… Can you stand? And, uh, be careful where you step, okay?” (Rui)

“Yeah…” (Ayaka)

I reached out to Ayaka and helped her to her feet, then carefully moved away from the scene where the shards had scattered. Turning my attention to Ayaka, I noticed something else.

“Your clothes… Ayaka, they’re wet.” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

Silently, I realized that Ayaka’s clothes were wet. Since the glasses she had been carrying still contained some drink and ice, they had spilled all over her. Leaving her like this and sending her home wasn’t an option. So, I made a suggestion to her.

“Uh… How about using the bathroom? You can take a shower to freshen up. You must be feeling sticky… I’ll handle the cleaning over here.” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

“Ayaka?” (Rui)

“……Ah, yes! I’ll do that! Sorry!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka replied late, then hurriedly moved away from the scene. Watching her leave, I went and fetched a broom and dustpan. As I gathered the glass shards, I couldn’t help but think about the accident that had just occurred.

Certainly, Ayaka was the one who broke the glasses, but I had instructed her to carry them. Moreover, the cord she likely tripped over was mine, used for charging my laptop. Therefore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I was partially responsible for this accident. When Ayaka comes out of the shower, I’ll have to apologize properly…

Wait… when she comes out?

No, hold on. Ayaka’s clothes were definitely soaked. I saw it with my own eyes, so there’s no doubt about that. She can’t wear those clothes right away, and even if I try to dry them, it’ll take time… So, what should I do?

I told her to “go take a shower” and if I didn’t offer her clothes or anything, it wouldn’t just be inappropriate—it’d be downright indecent, just like she mentioned earlier, like a wolf. 

“…!” (Rui)

Then I heard the sound of the shower as Ayaka must have entered the bathroom. Oh no, I have to prepare some spare clothes… What do I have? Should I lend her my pajamas? Or maybe the jersey I’ve had since my school days…

“Ah…” (Rui)

…As I was searching for clothes, I noticed a white dress shirt hanging in the room. No way, there’s no chance she’d wear a shirt like that after a bath. It’s too stiff and formal. Besides, what girl would be happy with this shirt… That’s just something out of anime, right?

…Yet, here I am. Why am I holding this shirt?

“…No, calm down, me! Seriously, there’s no excuse for this behavior!” (Rui)

I moved the shirt away from my face and muttered to myself. I was definitely in a weird state of mind, but I hadn’t completely lost my composure. Still, I have no idea what Ayaka would want to wear…

“Th-then… how about I give her all the options? Pajamas, jersey, and… the shirt.” (Rui)

—Preparing three choices like that is really considerate of you, Rui-kun.

“…As if that would ever happen. If anything, it might look like I have ulterior motives, and I can’t completely ignore the possibility of her being put off…” (Rui)

Even though I’ve come to that conclusion, I’m still holding onto the shirt, showing how messed up my mind is… Thinking that, I hold the clothes and open the door to the changing room. Then, I call out to Ayaka who’s showering, through the door.

“Hey, Ayaka! I’ve left a towel and some clothes here for you to use!” (Rui)

“Uh, oh, yeah! Thank you!” (Ayaka)

“Ah!” (Rui)

I placed the towel and three pieces of clothing down, and as I was about to leave, I noticed Ayaka’s clothes in the laundry basket.

“…” (Rui)

…Does that mean… her underwear, the panties she was just wearing… are in there?

“…No, no, no. Absolutely not. That’s just not right, on a human level…” (Rui)

I managed to restrain myself and slapped my own cheek hard before leaving the bathroom. I resumed cleaning up the living room. The glass shards were no longer there, and it should be safe to walk barefoot now… but my mind was far from okay… Haa.

“…So, after Ayaka comes out, what do I do?” (Rui)

Letting her go home like this seems difficult… but having her stay over at my place… that’s risky. Think logically. Tomorrow’s a weekday. I’m off work, but what about Ayaka? She must have something to do. Definitely. Plans.

“Yeah… Well, it depends on Ayaka’s response, I guess…” (Rui)

Realizing I couldn’t just keep pondering alone, I began gathering up snack wrappers and continued cleaning absentmindedly.

…A few minutes passed like that, and then the sound of the shower stopped. I heard the bathroom door open… Why am I feeling so nervous? I’m starting to dislike myself for endlessly imagining weird things.

“Haah…” (Rui)

I sighed and absentmindedly opened my phone, even though there was nothing particular to look at. I swiped through the home screen to pass the time. Then, I heard soft footsteps approaching… They stopped near me. At the same time, I heard Ayaka’s voice.

“…Thanks for the clothes, Rui.” (Ayaka)

“Ah, it’s okay, really. If anything, I should be apologizing—” (Rui)

As I spoke, I lifted my gaze from my phone… and there she was.

“…How does it look? Does it suit me? Hehe…” (Ayaka)

Ayaka stood before me wearing nothing but my shirt—this is what they call a boyfriend shirt. She blushed, looking embarrassed yet intentionally showing her thighs by gripping the shirt hem like a skirt.

“Ayaka!? Wait, you mean… you’re not wearing… anything underneath!?” (Rui)

“Yeah… I’m not wearing anything. My underwear got wet too.” (Ayaka)

“………?!” (Rui)

…I’m speechless. My mouth hung open so wide I could have fit a clenched fist inside it, and it stayed that way for what felt like an eternity. Because… Because under this thin shirt was Ayaka’s… naked body…!?

“No, wait!! Seriously, this is so not okay!! It’s bad!! It’s dangerous!!” (Rui)

“…But you left the shirt for me, so that means you were expecting something, right?” (Ayaka)

Damn, she hit the nail on the head. But there’s no way I could ever say, “Yes, I was hoping to see Ayaka in a boyfriend shirt.” It’s too embarrassing; it would be like committing social suicide.

“J-Just put some clothes on… even if you don’t have underwear, put on some pants!” (Rui)

Going full circle, it almost seems like I’m asking for something even more perverted… but this was said with Ayaka in mind. I can already hear someone pointing out, “Then why did you leave the shirt?” But, I didn’t expect her to actually put it on!!

And then… Ayaka whispered just loud enough for me to hear.

“I’m okay with it. Besides… I’ve kind of admired this sort of thing…” (Ayaka)

“It’s not about whether you’re okay with it, Ayaka! It’s about how bad this is for me!” (Rui)

Because I have no idea where to look or what to say! And besides… I’m a guy, you know…!! These biological reactions can’t be helped, you know… No, never mind, just calm down, me!!

“Here, just put this on for now!” (Rui)

In a panic, I grabbed a thin blanket from the nearby bedroom and tossed it towards Ayaka. Catching the blanket, Ayaka wrapped it around herself like a swimming towel, sitting down with a slight look of discontent.

“Haa… that was a surprise…” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

With Ayaka now covered in the blanket, I started to regain some composure. She sat there silently, facing me. What… what does she want to say…? Anyway, I have to say something…

“Um… Ayaka, it’s really not okay to just casually dress like that, you know? Well, I guess it’s hypocritical coming from me after leaving the shirt as an option…” (Rui)

“…That’s why.” (Ayaka)

“Huh?” (Rui)

Not catching the first part clearly, I asked again. I expected her to brush it off, but Ayaka lifted the blanket to cover her face slightly and spoke softly.

“…I wore it because it’s you, Rui.” (Ayaka)

…Huh? H-How am I supposed to respond to that…?

“Uh, I see… Thanks, I guess?” (Rui)

No, that’s definitely not it! …But Ayaka doesn’t seem displeased either… Could this have been the right answer? Well… Only Ayaka knows the real answer to that…

“Um, so… Ayaka. It might take some time to wash and dry your clothes. What do you want to do? If you’re okay with it, I can start washing them now…” (Rui)

“I’ll be fine waiting until tomorrow… I don’t want to cause any more trouble for you, Rui.” (Ayaka)

…Tomorrow? Does that mean that you are…? Or rather, you look like you really want me to ask…!? Alright, I get it! I’ll ask!

“Um, Ayaka. Do you have any plans for tomorrow…?” (Rui)

“…Nothing at all.” (Ayaka)

I’m curious about that pause… Just to be sure, I ask again.

“Are you really sure it’s okay?” (Rui)

“Yeah, it’s fine.” (Ayaka)

“Alright… So, how about staying over at my place tonight?” (Rui)

I feel like I’m terrible at this invitation, but Ayaka must have been waiting for these words. Without showing any particular concern, she tilted her head slightly and asked me.

“…Is that okay?” (Ayaka)

“Yeah. But let’s keep this between us, okay? Not a word to the viewers, or even to Robin and the others.” (Rui)

If this gets out, it could lead to some weird misunderstandings… Actually, it definitely would. No matter how much I try to explain, some people just won’t believe it. So, this overnight stay absolutely must remain a secret from everyone.

Ayaka seemed to understand that very well. She nodded slowly.

“Yeah. Got it. It’ll be our secret, just the two of us, right?” (Ayaka)

“Yeah… Thanks for understanding.” (Rui)

“…” (Ayaka)

“Um, what’s wrong?” (Rui)

Suddenly, I noticed Ayaka looking like she was about to cry. Worried that I might have said something wrong again, I waited anxiously for her to speak.

“I… I actually thought of something really horrible. For a moment, I actually thought it was good that I broke Rui’s glasses. I’m… the worst, aren’t I?” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

Haha… Oh, is that all? I’m relieved. I approached Ayaka and sat directly in front of her. Then, I lightly tapped her forehead.

“Huh…?” (Ayaka)

“…Baka. That’s what they call ‘making the best out of a bad situation’. You should think of it all as lucky. Plus… thanks to you breaking the glasses, I got to see Ayaka dressed like this, so it’s a win for me too.” (Rui)

I said that with a joking tone. Looking back, even though I reluctantly appeared on Ayaka’s stream, now I’m a real VTuber and find being a streamer really enjoyable. It’s probably one of those situations where a mishap turns into something good.

Upon hearing that, Ayaka gradually regained her smile.

“Hehe… Haha, ahaha! …Rui, ecchi.” (Ayaka)

“What…!?” (Rui)

Suddenly caught off guard by her change in demeanor, I felt embarrassed about what I said… Seeing me like that, Ayaka laughed even more.

“Ehehe… But Rui, you’re really kind. Thank you.” (Ayaka)

“Ah, well…” (Rui)

I-I guess… If it cheered her up, then that’s good… right? Ayaka took a step forward and tugged at the neckline of the shirt she was wearing.

“Hehe… So, for someone like you, should I unbutton one more button here?” (Ayaka)

“I-I told you not to do that kind of thing!” (Rui)

👻👻👻

“So… where should we sleep?” (Rui)

I looked over to the adjacent bedroom, trying to decide on the sleeping arrangement. Naturally, my bed was single-sized, so it would be quite tough for two people to sleep together…

“…” (Ayaka)

Ayaka seemed to be expecting something. Nono, it’s really cramped for two people. Besides, snuggling up together… There’s no way to talk my way out of that one. Well… logically speaking, it would be best for us to sleep apart.

“Yeah… then Ayaka, you can use my bed. I’ll sleep on the floor.” (Rui)

When I proposed that, Ayaka strongly objected.

“Eh, that’s no good! Rui should use it! I’ll sleep on the floor!” (Ayaka)

“No, no, I can’t let a guest sleep on the floor. So please, let me have the bed.” (Rui)

“I don’t want to! I’ve already caused so much trouble for you, Rui! At least use the bed!” (Ayaka)

“Well, even if you say that…” (Rui)

Even though I was led into it by Ayaka, I was the one who suggested staying over at my place. So, letting Ayaka sleep on a hard floor while I sleep in a soft bed… that’s just too rude. But if things continue like this, Ayaka doesn’t seem like she’ll back down at all…

Seeing my troubled expression, Ayaka, in a very awkward manner, gave a suggestion.

“Mmm, ah, I got it! Then let’s sleep together!” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

I can’t believe she’s suggesting that herself. Was she aiming for this all along? Well, no matter what… I can’t possibly say, “Yeah, let’s sleep together!”

“Wait, do you even know what you’re saying?” (Rui)

“Huh? I know. Besides… don’t you remember? We’ve slept together before. So it’s totally fine!” (Ayaka)

“…”  (Rui)

I’m glad she trusts me, but what should I say to that… And wait, sleeping together before? When did that happen? There’s no way that could have…

“…Wait. Are you talking about nap time in kindergarten?” (Rui)

Suddenly, a memory that had been slumbering deep in my mind was awakened. Ah, yes, I remember now. 

Back when Ayaka and I attended the same kindergarten, during nap time, Ayaka would always come over to where I was… and we slept together, embracing each other where no one could see.

Of course, back then, there was no sexual desire or anything like that, so we simply felt warmth in a pure sense. Yet, I remembered that warmth as strangely comforting.

As we grew up to middle school, that topic never came up again, so I had assumed Ayaka had forgotten about it, and truth be told, I had almost forgotten about it myself until then. I glanced at Ayaka, and she murmured quietly.

“…No way, you remembered it.” (Ayaka)

Ayaka wore a mixed expression of embarrassment, joy, and astonishment. Clearly, she hadn’t expected to be caught out like that. Well, it’s a story from decades ago, so I won’t pry into her intentions or anything like that.

“Haa… Anyways, we’ve both grown since those days, so sharing a bed would definitely be cramped, you know?” (Rui)

“If you don’t like it being cramped, then I’ll sleep on the floor!” (Ayaka)

“No, that’s not what I’m saying… I’m saying I’ll sleep on the floor. Besides, I’m used to sleeping on the floor daily, so really, you don’t need to worry about anything.” (Rui)

“Then I’ll sleep on the floor with you!” (Ayaka)

“Now you’re just making this confusing!” (Rui)

With a sigh, I interjected, holding my head… Ayaka seemed determined not to give in. Once she decided on something like this, I knew she wouldn’t budge an inch. It looked like I’d have to be the one to give in this time.

“Alright… Fine, I get it. If you insist, we can sleep together… But! Absolutely no funny business, okay!? Got it!?” (Rui)

Reluctantly giving in, I emphasized this point firmly to Ayaka. She chuckled in response.

“I know. Besides, aren’t I the one who’s supposed to say things like that?” (Ayaka)

“Well, yeah, but…” (Rui)

Of course, I’m not devoid of sexual desire altogether. If anything, I’d say I fall into the normal category. However, crossing that line with Ayaka would definitely complicate our relationship, which is why I’m being so adamant about it. I think Ayaka understands that… probably.

Ayaka smiled again, whether she truly understood my feelings or not.

“Hehe, alright! Let’s test if Rui’s bed can withstand both of us!” (Ayaka)

“Well, I think it should be fine for two people without testing…” (Rui)

“Eh, how do you know? Wait, don’t tell me…!” (Ayaka)

“…I checked the weight limit beforehand. Stop making weird assumptions.” (Rui)

Ayaka must have figured out that I’ve never had anyone over before. It’s annoying to be teased like this constantly. Maybe I should tease her back a little…

“Hehe, I see! By the way, how many can it hold?” (Ayaka)

“It should be fine up to 150kg. I’m about 60kg, so as long as you’re not above 100kg, we’re good.” (Rui)

I said this while scanning Ayaka’s body from top to bottom. Then I put my hand on my chin…

“…Maybe we shouldn’t risk it.” (Rui)

“What!? There’s no way I weigh that much, baka!” (Ayaka)

“Ow…!” (Rui)

Ayaka hit me hard on the back. It hurt. That was a bit much.


Illustrations

After that, we continued to play games till the end, and the stream was gradually coming to an end.

“…How does it look? Does it suit me? Hehe…”


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

Huh, turns out Karen was normal after all.

Of course, she chose the shirt. What other options are there aside from the shirt? It’s the best option out of the three in hopes of some romantic development.
MC got some balls for straight-up attacking the weight of a girl. 

The next part is gonna be the big one.


Footnote:

  1. This ‘Good job, Rui’ is ‘OtsuRui’ in Japanese. This is like that ‘KonRei’ thing, but I realized it a bit too late so I didn’t change it. Of course, it becomes relevant now… So from now on, I’ll use OtsuRui.
  2. Shobon is this (´・ω・`)

CSCP – Vol 1 Chapter 4 Part 2 – The Clumsy Student Council President is Weak in the PE Storage Room

“Don’t worry about that. Let’s think about how to get you out of there.” (Takaki)

If we continue to dawdle, other students might eventually find us. Our student council president will probably be seen as a fool who got stuck in the window frame of the gym storage.

That was actually what happened, but the dignity of the student council would be ruined.

If the student council’s work became harder to manage, it would be bad for me as well, so despite my reluctance, I had no choice but to help Togami.

“Wait here for a moment.” (Takaki)

I decided to step out of the storage room and check on the situation of Togami (upper body).

Fortunately, the second gym storage room was at the edge of the school building. When I went outside, the sports club students could be seen further away on the field, and no one was looking in our direction.

I circled to the back of the storage room, facing the slope covered with thick trees.

Togami’s upper body was sticking out from a spot about a head higher than my height.

With her long black hair hanging down due to gravity, it would have been quite scary if you didn’t know her lower body was stuck inside. If I encountered her like this on a dark road, I’d probably get scared.

Even the school blazer, popular for its design, looked somewhat dirty, likely from forcing herself through the window frame.

“…Hey.” (Takaki)

Not knowing what to say, I raised my hand slightly to greet Togami (from the waist up).

Togami looked down at me with an awkward expression. Even in this situation, her beauty still shines through, which is both annoying and impressive.

“Hello.” (Nadeshiko)

“Feels like it’s been a while since we last met.” (Takaki)

“That’s impossible. Do you really think my upper body and lower body are separate entities?” (Nadeshiko)

She had a point, but I didn’t want to hear logic from someone stuck in a window frame.

I had always been skeptical of the idea that who is saying something is more important than what is being said, but at this moment, I had to agree.

I pulled myself together and tried the stir the conversation back.

“Uh… are you okay?” (Takaki)

“If there’s someone who feels okay while being stuck in a window, I’d like to meet them.” (Nadeshiko)

“Yeah, I guess.” (Takaki)

“I feel terrible. Haa…” (Nadeshiko)

Togami, looking exhausted, let out a small sigh.

I hadn’t noticed when we were inside, but seeing her face now, she seemed a bit down. Her upper body was sticking out of the window, and she had to support herself with her hands against the outer wall, which looked quite strenuous.

With thirty percent of me wanting to help her and seventy percent wanting to go home quickly, I tried to come up with a constructive idea.

“Can’t you just slowly slide back the way you came?” (Takaki)

At the very least, since she managed to get from inside to outside, there should be enough space for her upper body to return.

However, Togami blushed and responded.

“Well, when I went through, I forced my way in, but… when I try to go back, my chest gets stuck.” (Nadeshiko)

“Ah, with that size… ahem, I understand the situation.” (Takaki)

Togami’s chest was, well, rather beyond the usual size range. Because of that, it got caught on the window frame like a hook.

Having a chest that large does have its downsides… no, in normal life, you wouldn’t get stuck in a window frame.

“Conversely, if I push you from behind, would you be able to get out?” (Takaki)

“It might be possible, but the height is just at a point where I can’t get a good foothold. If I try to push myself out, I’d probably fall headfirst.” (Nadeshiko)

“I see. That would be dangerous.” (Takaki)

Togami’s upper body was nearly two meters off the ground. Even though the ground was unpaved soil, falling forward from that height could easily result in broken bones.

“Got it. I’ll figure something out.” (Nadeshiko)

I went back into the storage room and brought out several wooden slats that could serve as a base, arranging them under Togami’s upper body. Then, I laid down some gym mats to act as cushions. 

These mats were stored in the second gym storage room, so they were dusty, but it couldn’t be helped.

The distance between Togami’s upper body and the mats was about one and a half meters. It was unclear if this would actually help, but it was better than nothing. Rumor had it that Togami was athletic, so I decided to believe that she could handle a fall.

“I think if you can use both hands to land, you’ll be fine.” (Takaki)

“Thank you! Then, Gujou-san, please push me from behind. That way, I think I can slide out forward.” (Nadeshiko)

“Got it. Let me know if you think it’s too risky.” (Nadeshiko)

I went back inside the gym storage room and faced Togami’s lower body. For some reason, it felt like I was meeting her after a long time.

Come to think of it, have I talked more with her upper body or lower body today?

While pondering this meaningless question, I heard Togami’s voice from outside.

“Alright, Gujou-san. Please push with all your strength.” (Nadeshiko)

“Okay… hmm?” (Takaki)

I replied, but then I froze for a moment.

She had simply said “push,” but where exactly was I supposed to push?

In front of me, Togami’s lower body presented a series of choices: her butt, behind her thighs, the back of her knees, calves, ankles, and shoes.

… No matter where I pushed, it felt like it would create an extremely awkward and possibly criminal scene.

“What’s the matter, Gujou-san? Please push!” (Nadeshiko)

Togami’s voice urged me from outside, so I decided to ask her.

“Um, Togami.” (Takaki)

“What is it?” (Nadeshiko)

“Where exactly am I supposed to push?” (Takaki)

“Well, of course, the butt… no, maybe behind the thighs…? Um, well…” (Nadeshiko)

“…………” (Takaki)

Togami must have also realized the issue with this approach.

An awkward silence lingered.

“…………….” (Nadeshiko)

“…………………………..” (Takaki)

“Um, Gujou-san.” (Nadeshiko)

“Yeah?” (Takaki)

“I’ll push against the wall with all my strength to slide out. Could you go outside and support me so I can safely come down?” (Nadeshiko)

“Got it.” (Takaki)

I hurriedly left the storage room and headed towards Togami’s upper body.

Togami was already positioned with both hands on the wall, preparing to push herself out.

“Alright, I’ll do my best.” (Nadeshiko)

“Got it. I’ll wait down here, ready to support you if things get bad.” (Takaki)

“Please.” (Nadeshiko)

With that, Togami let out a determined “Hmm~” and exerted force through her hands. Presumably, she was also kicking up the mat with her legs.

Slowly but surely, Togami’s body was emerging from the window frame towards my side. At the same time, her unbalanced upper body began to tilt towards me.

“Ahh!” (Nadeshiko)

With a slight sway, Togami let out a small scream.

She grabbed onto the window frame with both hands, hanging in a dangerous position.

“W-Wait a minute! Time out!” (Nadeshiko)

“It’ll be fine. Even if you fall, I’ll catch you.” (Takaki)

“But this position is terrifying! I’d never fallen out of a window at this angle before in my everyday life!” (Nadeshiko)

“Who even gets stuck in a window frame anyway?!” (Takaki)

“This is my third time in life!” (Nadeshiko)

“I’ve never heard of such an outlier life!” (Takaki)

I blurted out in disbelief upon hearing this unbelievable information. 

She got stuck in a window frame three times in her fifteen or sixteen years of life? 

Who on earth besides an escaped convict would even consider trying to escape through a window?

“We need to get you out quickly before someone finds us! Please, try your best!” (Takaki)

“Ugh… Why is this happening to me…” (Nadeshiko)

Those should be my words. Why do I have to catch a girl stuck in a window frame?

“I might not make it… I don’t feel like I can get out…” (Nadeshiko)

“Hey, if you give up now, it’s game over! At least as Student Council President, it’s game over!” (Takaki)

Togami, with vacant eyes and a faint smile, began murmuring negative thoughts under her breath.

Come to think of it, she was like this yesterday in the Student Council room too. Despite her usual confident appearance, deep down she seems quite negative.

“Heh… I’ll just live the rest of my life stuck in this window frame… Maybe, eventually, I’ll get thin enough from not eating and be freed…” (Nadeshiko)

“Surely someone will find you and get you out.” (Takaki)

“Ahaha, yeah… and then I’ll become known as the Student Council President who got stuck in a window frame… It’ll be talked about at Reishuu High School for generations to come…” (Nadeshiko)

“Well, it might make for some interesting chatter during a teacher’s class.” (Takaki)

“Oh, I was hoping you wouldn’t say that! I-I really don’t want anyone to find me after all!” (Nadeshiko)

After venting her negativity, Togami rallied her spirits and exerted more strength through her hands.

“Mnnnngggg…” (Nadeshiko)

“That’s it, keep it up.” (Takaki)

“Uggghhhh… Mmngghhh… Aagghhh…” (Nadeshiko)

Despite hearing a voice one should not hear from a girl in this situation, I decided to ignore it because getting stuck in a window frame was already an unseemly act for anyone.

As I encouraged her, Togami managed to push her hips out and was almost completely out.

“Good job, Togami! Keep it up!” (Takaki)

“Um, Gujou-san…” (Nadeshiko)

“What now!?” (Takaki)

“My… um, my butt’s… kind of… stuck…” (Nadeshiko)

“Use your determination to push through.” (Takaki)

“That’s not exactly helpful!” (Nadeshiko)

“It’s okay, based on my estimation, Togami’s butt is smaller than her chest!” (Takaki)

“W-When did you come up with such a terrible estimation!?” (Nadeshiko)

Togami shot me a fearful glare. Who would have thought I’d end up receiving such looks from the same person who’s stuck in a window frame?

“I just made that up on the spot, but it feels like it might be true!” (Takaki)

I had actually noticed it when I was talking to Togami’s lower body earlier, but saying that out loud would probably lead to something worse, so I kept it to myself.

“…Indeed, my chest area is covered with a thick blazer and other layers underneath. Comparatively, the fabric around my butt is thinner, so it might be easier to pass through.” (Nadeshiko)

In the midst of this crisis, Togami surprisingly managed to come up with something logical. It reminded me of the saying that cockroaches show remarkable intelligence when cornered. 

Ideally, I wished she had demonstrated this kind of resourcefulness before getting stuck in the window frame.

“That’s the spirit. It’s tough with gravity working against you, but can you try lifting your legs or shifting your center of gravity towards me?” (Takaki)

“Got it, I’ll give it a try!” (Nadeshiko)

Togami braced her hands against the outer wall and leaned forward, pushing herself further out.

At that moment, Togami slid downward towards me while still in a diagonal position.

“Ugh… ngh… Kyaa!!” (Nadeshiko)

“It’s okay, I’ll hold on to you” (Takaki)

To prevent Togami from landing face-first, I slid both hands under her armpits to support her.

If I lowered her slowly like this, there wouldn’t be much impact.

“Gujou-san, you’re touching… um, my chest!” (Nadeshiko)

“This is your armpit!” (Takaki)

“Really!? But, uh, isn’t it a bit off, like slightly out of place!?” (Nadeshiko)

Upon hearing her words, I realized I might be feeling something vaguely unfamiliar under my hand. However, it was merely a possibility, and I couldn’t rule out that it was just part of her armpit.

Anyway, my main focus was on safely landing Togami, so I truly hadn’t had the luxury to worry about such sensations. I subtly adjusted my hand position to the side of her armpit to divert attention.

“I don’t have the luxury to worry about that right now! Even if I accidentally touched something, close your eyes and ignore it!” (Takaki)

“I-Isn’t this what they call sexual harassment!?” (Nadeshiko)

“If you don’t want to get hurt, stay quiet!” (Takaki)

In a panic, I uttered words that, without context, could only be heard as those of a criminal, as I desperately supported Togami’s body.

Though Togami had a good figure, she was quite heavy for one person to handle. My legs were trembling uncontrollably.

“Kyaa!” (Nadeshiko)

“Ughh!” (Takaki)

Togami (her entire body) suddenly slipped down all at once and was thrown onto the mat. To cushion the impact, I ended up underneath her.

For about ten seconds, we lay intertwined on the mat, both of us breathing heavily. 

…There’s no deep meaning behind those words, but somehow it’s suggestive when taken out of context.

“Haah, haah, haah… Togami, are you alright? Are you hurt?” (Takaki)

“Uh, y-yes… Gujou-san, I’m sorry. I landed on you… ah.” (Nadeshiko)

In a flustered state, Togami scrambled off me, relieving me of her weight. Despite her good figure, Togami was tall, so she was indeed a bit heavy.

“Gujou-san, are you sure you’re not hurt?” (Nadeshiko)

“I’m fine. I’m sorry for touching you earlier.” (Takaki)

“No, it was an emergency… I don’t mind.” (Nadeshiko)

“Well, that’s good to hear. I probably would’ve lost if you sued me.” (Takaki)

“I wouldn’t do that to someone who just helped me. Besides, I think they take circumstances into consideration… right?” (Nadeshiko)

After exchanging light banter, we both regained our composure.

To cover our tracks, we divided up the mats and boards we had laid out and returned them to the storage room. I thought Togami might be exhausted, but she seemed surprisingly energetic, cheerfully carrying the boards.

Once everything was cleaned up, I sat down in a corner of the storage room to catch my breath.


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

Honestly, I was just waiting for either one of the student council members to come looking for them right as they were talking about suggestive stuff.

Forget about losing the case if you get sued, you probably can’t even afford the attorney fees to defend yourself. 


Footnote:

  1. None

CFVT – Vol 1 Chapter 6 Part 2 – A Sudden Invitation for an Off-Collab

After finishing the call, I started tidying up my place. Once I began cleaning, I couldn’t help but notice even the smallest details… I had a gut feeling it wouldn’t be finished in just one day, so I made a detailed plan. I cleaned one area at a time, starting with the living room and the entrance.

Several days passed with this cleaning routine… And then, the day of the collaboration arrived.

“Why am I feeling so restless?” (Rui)

It’s currently 5:30 PM. I remained seated, waiting for everyone to arrive at my house. Ayaka and the others must have arranged to meet somewhere before coming over, so it might take some time… We planned to start streaming at 6 PM, so I think they should be arriving soon. Or maybe not yet…

*Ding Dong*

“…!” (Rui)

Suddenly, I heard the bell sound from the entrance. Have they arrived? I quickly stood up and checked the intercom screen…

There they were.

A petite girl with a headband, a grinning young man in a loose hoodie. And behind them, Ayaka standing with her arms crossed. I didn’t need confirmation, but these were undoubtedly the cheerful Owen’s crew members.

I pressed the intercom button, trying not to reveal my nervousness, and called out to them.

“Yes?” (Rui)

Then the girl in front of me blinked her eyes rapidly.

“Ah! I’ve got a delivery for you!” (Karen)

“You’re Karen, right?” (Rui)

“Wa—How did you know!?” (Karen)

“If you’re going to prank someone, maybe use a different approach…” (Rui)

Her voice is too distinctive. Plus, there’s a camera at the entrance… Anyway, I pressed the unlock button while watching Karen blush with embarrassment.

…And shortly after that, the intercom at the entrance rang again. I walked to the door, unlocked it, and opened it… There stood the three people I had seen on the monitor.

“Hehehe! We’ve come to play, Rui!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka said with a joyful expression.

“Yeah. Come on in for now.” (Rui)

“Excuse us!” (Ayaka)

“Pardon me!” (Karen)

“Sorry for intruding!” (Robin)

Then I guided the three members of the Owen group and had them sit on the cushions I had laid out in the living room. 

By the way, these were brand new cushions I had just bought yesterday… Ayaka quickly noticed it and pointed at one of the cushions.

“Hey, Rui. You bought this specifically for today, didn’t you?” (Ayaka)

“How did you know…?” (Rui)

“Well, you don’t really need stuff like this when you live alone, right?” (Ayaka)

Ayaka chuckled softly as she said that… But does she not consider the possibility that I might live with someone or occasionally have friends over…? Well… It’s frustrating that she’s right, though. I’ve been living alone for a while, so I can’t really argue back.

And Karen, still seated, glanced around my room with curiosity.

“Wow… This is my first time entering a guy’s house!” (Karen)

“Um, please don’t stare so much, it’s embarrassing…” (Rui)

I say that, but my line somehow feels a bit suggestive… Similarly, Robin also looked around my room with an air of curiosity.

“Hmm, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to someone else’s house… Back in elementary school, I was banned from almost every house I went to.” (Robin)

“What did you do, Robin?” (Rui)

“Hehe… Want to hear about it? Back in elementary school, I went to a friend’s house to play and ended up eating all the snacks meant for everyone by myself. The story got out to other classmates, and rumors spread that ‘Robin eats up all the snacks when he visits’!” (Robin)

“That’s definitely ban-worthy.” (Rui)

Upon hearing Robin’s storytelling, both of them burst into laughter.

“Hahaha! That story’s interesting! You should’ve shared it during the stream!” (Ayaka)

“Should we start the stream now then? It’s a bit early though.” (Rui)

“But… we haven’t decided what kind of stream to do yet. Is it okay to start it without a plan?” (Karen)

Karen seemed a bit concerned. Since she respects Ayaka, she probably wanted to have thorough planning beforehand. It wouldn’t bother me either way, but Robin interjected with a casual remark.

“Well, this collab today is kind of like a welcome party for Rui Boy, so I think a bit of messiness is okay, right? Plus, since it’s going to be on Rui’s channel… How about leaving the decision to him?” (Robin)

“Yeah, that makes sense! Let’s leave it to Rui!” (Ayaka)

“Alright! If that’s the case, let’s go with that!” (Karen)

Everyone seemed satisfied, and the decision was left up to me. Indeed, as Robin put it, since today’s collab was more of a meet-and-greet party for me, detailed planning might not be necessary. But well, if I had to choose something…

“Got it. So, how about we keep it casual with a talk-focused stream? We can pick up questions from viewers along the way, maybe even have a simple Q&A session… And if we run out of things to do, we can switch to games or something like that. How does that sound?” (Rui)

“Hehe, yeah! Sounds good to me!” (Ayaka)

Ayaka nodded first, followed by the other two.

“Alright, let’s get ready for the stream then… Oh, by the way, only I can move the VTuber models, right?” (Rui)

“In that case, you can just display a static image of our models!” (Ayaka)

“Ah, got it.” (Rui)

With my laptop in hand, I started preparing the streaming setup.

“Rui-san, I think you should also prepare a microphone!” (Karen)

“Yeah, you’re right. But with my stand mic, it might not pick up everyone’s voices well…” (Rui)

“Oh, I brought an omnidirectional microphone exactly for situations like this! It can capture everyone’s voices!” (Karen)

“Wow, that’s impressive!” (Rui)

Karen took out an omnidirectional microphone from her bag and placed it at the center of the desk where we were gathered. It’s really reassuring to have such experienced streamers around.

“Rui-boy, let me help too.” (Robin)

“Yeah, sure… Wait, what are you doing!?” (Rui)

When I glanced over at Robin, he was inflating a golden balloon. Continuing to pump it up and down with an air pump.

“It’s obvious, isn’t it? It’s decoration.” (Robin)

“Why did you bring something like that…?” (Rui)

“I stopped by the 100-yen shop. I picked up some party hats and… see, I even got this ‘Today’s Star’ sash.” (Robin)

Robin stopped pumping the air and happily pulled out party supplies from the bag he had brought. Then, right then and there, he puts the ‘Today’s Star’ sash over me.

“This won’t show up on the stream, but… well, thanks.” (Rui)

“Hehe, no need for thanks. I’m looking forward to this too.” (Robin)

“Alright, shall we get started?” (Rui)

“Yes!” (Karen)

“Yeah!” (Ayaka)

Confirming that everything was set for the stream, I looked at everyone and clicked the button to start the live stream.

👻👻👻

Comments:『KonRamen』

Comments:『Oh, an off-collab, that’s rare』

Comments:『Come to think of it, Rui’s part of the Owen group too, huh』

Comments:『Don’t you mean the ramen group…? (whispering)』

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『Seasoning growing on the table』

Comments:『Can’t wait to see him actually grow them lol』

Having confirmed the usual (silly) comments scrolling by, I approached the microphone Karen had brought and spoke up.

“Aaa… Aaa… Can you hear me, everyone?” (Rui)

Comments:『Can’t hear you!』

Comments:『Can’t hear anything!』

Comments:『Did you change your mic? We can’t hear you』

Comments:『Yeah, the sound quality seems a bit different… Can’t hear you though』

The mic expert over here is watching… Why are you still stubbornly lying?

“…Alright, sounds like you can hear me. Just a heads-up. Since it’s a collab today, let’s try to keep things calm, Ruimins. Otherwise, Karen and Robin’s viewers might be surprised.” (Rui)

Comments:『Sorry (ごめん)』

Comments:『Sorry (ご麵)1

Comments:『Summa-noodles (すんま麵)』

Comments:『Yuru-seimen (ゆる製麵)』

Comments:『Robin tends to get teased a lot by viewers.』

Comments:『Robin getting toyed with by viewers → ○○○○○』

“Oh, there’s a clip… I mean! I said it’s a collab today! I can’t chat with comments like I do in solo streams! Right now, Rei and the others are laughing at me!!” (Rui)

As I interacted with the comments, laughter could be heard around me. It was a bit satisfying to make them laugh, but embarrassment definitely won out overwhelmingly.

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『So that was Rei-chan laughing after all』

Comments:『Rui’s so kind to engage with us』

Comments:『It might be funny if Rui ends up talking alone』

“It’s not funny… Alright then, since there’s no end to this, let’s get started with introductions. Let’s go clockwise.” (Rui)

Saying that I turned to Ayaka sitting next to me… Sensing this, Ayaka started her usual introduction with a lively voice.

“Okay~! I’m Rei Azuril, a dark mage from [Sky Sunriver]! I’m really happy to be here for this off-collab today!” (Rei)

Comments:『KonRei!』

Comments:『KonRei~』

Comments:『Rei looks like she’s having fun already.』

Next up was Karen’s introduction.

“I’m Karen Story, the healer who will heal your heart! …Um, being watched like this is a bit embarrassing, isn’t it…?” (Karen)

Comments:『Cute』

Comments:『Cute』

Comments:『Karen looks cute today too!』

And now, Robin.

“Hahaha! I am Robin… Flail! Due to certain circumstances today, I’ve lowered my voice volume to the level of Nuwacchan’s fruit juice2! Sorry if it’s hard to hear!” (Robin)

Comments:『There he goes』

Comments:『We can hear you fine』

Comments:『What percentage though』

Comments:『Yeah, orange and apple juices have different consistencies, right…』

“And finally, it’s me. …I’m Rui Astica. Today, we’re gathered for an Owen group off-collab… well, it’s at my place.” (Rui)

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『Rui’s house!?』

Comments:『The ramen house, huh』

“So, yeah, there’s nothing really fancy to do here. Let’s just casually chat while munching on snacks. I’m the rookie of the Owen group, so there’s still a lot I don’t know… I’ll do my best not to drag everyone down.” (Rui)

Of course, there might be viewers out there who haven’t had the best impression of me joining the Owen group. While I’m not exactly trying to earn their approval… I do hope they might change their minds even just a little…

“Hmm?” (Rui)

Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder from beside me. When I turned around… Robin flashed a bright smile, showing his white teeth.

“Hahaha! You don’t need to worry about that, Rui Boy. Aren’t we all good pals now?” (Robin)

“R-Robin…!” (Rui)

…Yeah, Robin’s actually a really great guy deep down.

“…………Hmph. Anyways, shall we search under the bed? We might find some unexpected treasures.” (Robin)

“Oi…” (Rui)

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『Oh man』

Comments:『Ruining the emotional moment』

Comments:『Emotion Breaker』

And then Robin put his head down on the floor and seriously started searching under the bed. Of course, I’d cleaned my stuff under there, so there was nothing, but… Seeing this, Ayaka shot me a sharp glance.

“Hey. Rui, do you have something like that hidden there? Something naughty?” (Rei)

“We don’t need to discuss that… Besides, I get all that stuff digitally…” (Rui)

Comments:『Ah』

Comments:『Hm?』

Comments:『Ah』

Comments:『Oi, high schooler』

“…Let’s not talk about that, okay?” (Rui)

I couldn’t deny that I’d dug myself into a bit of a hole. But since I didn’t explicitly mention adult stuff, I considered it a safe comment. Yeah, totally safe.

Then, despite looking slightly troubled, Karen kindly offered a lifeline.

“Um… How about we introduce ourselves in more detail? It’s my first time meeting Rui-san, and there might be a lot we don’t know about each other. Plus, the viewers could learn more about the Owen group too!” (Karen)

“That’s a great idea, Karen-chan. I’ll turn it into a song next time.” (Rei)

“You always say the most random things, don’t you…?” (Rui)

“Hehe, but I think it’s a good idea! Rui, you don’t know much about Karen-chan or Robin-kun yet, do you?” (Rei)

“Well… embarrassingly, no.” (Rui)

Since the collab was planned, I had looked up a bit about the two of them and watched a few clips, but between cleaning and my part-time job, I hadn’t had much time to look too deeply into it.

“But Ms Karen, what should we start with?” (Robin)

“Hmm… favorite food?” (Karen)

“That’s probably on the wiki, so… how about something a bit more personal?” (Rui)

Then Ayaka made a suggestion.

“How about the reason we became VTubers? I’m curious about everyone’s story too!” (Rei)

“Oh, that’s a good idea.” (Karen)

“Yes! I think it’s a great idea!” (Robin)

With Robin also nodding in agreement, we decided that the person who lost rock-paper-scissors would go first. As it turned out, Robin lost.

“Hmm… so it’s me first.” (Robin)

Comments:『Did it get decided in one go?』

Comments:『Robin’s really bad at rock-paper-scissors lol』

Comments:『It suits his character, though』

Then, for once, Robin spoke in a serious tone and began his story.

“I haven’t really talked about this before… but I became a VTuber because there was one VTuber I really wanted to meet. That sole desire drove me to get this far.” (Robin)

“Wow, that’s amazing! So, Robin-kun, did you get to meet that person?” (Rei)

At Ayaka’s question, Robin nodded.

“I did meet them. However… that person has since retired. So, meeting them as a VTuber is no longer possible.” (Robin)

“……” (Rui)

I couldn’t say anything… I didn’t know what to say to Robin. Ayaka and Karen also had similar expressions to mine, probably thinking the same thing.

“…Hey, what’s with this atmosphere!? Cheer up, will you!?” (Robin)

Robin, who seemed to be panicking, spoke hastily, but finding his reaction amusing, I decided to stay silent. Then Ayaka exaggeratedly covered her face with both hands.

“I-I didn’t know… Robin-kun was carrying such feelings with him all this time!” (Rei)

Continuing, Karen also took out candy from her bag and offered it with a gentle expression.

“Robin-san… Would you like some candy?” (Karen)

“No, no! Don’t apologize! Don’t worry about it! I actually have their contact information, so it’s not like a complete farewell!” (Robin)

“Oh, I see.” (Rui)

I had thought he was already in a situation where he couldn’t meet that person anymore… Then Robin let out a small cough.

“Moreover, there’s more to this story… Someday, I’ll stand on a grand stage of my own. She promised she’d meet me again if she recognized me as a top VTuber. So I’m continuing my activities with that goal in mind. It’s not like I’m sad or lacking motivation!”  (Robin)

Comments:『Oh, I see』

Comments:『I didn’t know that』

Comments:『Robin has such a past, huh…』

And with the conversation settling down, Robin extended his arms like a magician.

“Well, I apologize for taking up so much time. Who’s up next?” (Robin)

“Oh, how about we continue with the rock-paper-scissors?” (Rui)

Realizing we hadn’t decided who would go after Robin, the rest of us—excluding Robin—played rock-paper-scissors. The next one to lose was… Karen.

“Oh, looks like it’s my turn!” (Karen)

After a brief moment of consideration, Karen spoke up.

“Um, well, I didn’t have a clear reason like Robin-san, but… I’ve always enjoyed interacting with people. I used to participate in various activities like volunteering and local clean-ups.” (Karen)

“Wow, that’s impressive.” (Rui) 

Everyone nodded in admiration.

“And then… one day, I came across VTubers on a video-sharing site. Watching their videos not only lifted my spirits but also made me realize how much I had neglected the internet. I thought, ‘Maybe through the internet, I can connect with many people, even those I wouldn’t meet in my daily life!’ That’s when I decided to become a VTuber.” (Karen)

“I see! So that’s why you became a VTuber!” (Rei)

“Yes! So, I researched about VTubers, applied for auditions… and they said the deciding factor was my lack of familiarity with the internet!” (Karen)

“Well… I think that innocence is quite valuable, you know?” (Rui)

Not many people have such a pure heart like that… especially in the world of the internet… And Karen-san blushed slightly, squirming a bit.

“Um, I was embarrassed to say this before… but, um, the VTuber who lifted my spirits was actually Rei-san… hehe.” (Karen)

“Eh, Karen-chan…!? I… I love you! Let’s get married!!” (Rei)

Comments:『Wow~』

Comments:『Aww, that’s sweet!』

Comments:『That’s so cute!』

Comments:『This lovey-dovey stuff is just what I needed!』

Comments:『Thinking this is happening at Rui’s house makes it even funnier.』

Amidst the joyful comments about their sweet moment, I asked Karen-san.

“…So, Karen-san, does that mean you joined after Rei did?” (Rui)

“Yep! That’s right!” (Rei)

“Well, actually, in the early days of Owen group, it was just Rei-chan and me.” (Karen)

“Oh, really? I didn’t know that.” (Rui)

I had no idea.

“So… does that mean there’s a possibility of more members joining in the future?”(Rui)

“Well, that’s something only the management knows!” (Rei)

And with Karen’s story wrapped up, Ayaka and I decided to play rock-paper-scissors next. The result… I lost.

“Alright, then it’s my turn… Though, my start in this whole thing was pretty weird. I was just hanging out with Rei and somehow ended up here… Still don’t really get it.” (Rui)

“Hehe, the president sure had an eye for talent!” (Rei)

“…But Rei, you probably got scolded by your manager or someone for putting me in a stream before I was a VTuber, right? Weren’t you pushing it with that one?” (Rui)

As I said this, Ayaka looked a bit awkward, showing a troubled expression…

“…Well, as they say, all’s well that ends well! After all, if it weren’t for that, Rui wouldn’t be here!” (Rei)

“Well… yeah, that’s true. Just to clarify, though, I never intended to become a VTuber, and Rei didn’t invite me over to become one either. It might sound unconvincing, but that’s the truth, so please believe me.” (Rui)

Comments:『But you’re here now』

“Well, yeah, I‘m here now… But there were various things that happened along the way! It’s a long story if I start talking about it!” (Rui)

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『That’s right! That was a fake Rui created by Rei with black magic!』

Comments:『Black magic lol』

Comments:『Using black magic, I wonder if we could see the early days of Rui again?』

“Arrrgghh! Seriously! Stop bringing up the black magic thing!! I was putting a lot of effort into my character backstory too, you know!!” (Rui)

Remembering my debut stream, my face turns red… Seeing me like this, Robin laughs.

“Hahaha, well, no one else will ever debut as a VTuber in the same way as Rui Boy, that’s for sure!” (Robin)

“You’ve got that right!” (Rei)

“Indeed, otherwise things would get pretty messy… Alright, last but not least is Rei… Come to think of it, I don’t think I know why Rei became a VTuber.” (Rui)

“Me neither!” (Rei)

“Nor I.” (Robin)

The three of us turn our gaze towards Ayaka, who then chooses her moment to speak.

“Um, well, for me… I don’t really have a strong reason, but maybe because I was bored?” (Rei)

Ayaka said that… but.

“I see. That’s really straightforward.” (Robin)

“But I think even that’s a good reason to start!” (Karen)

Ayaka’s eyes seemed to suggest that she might be lying.

Comments:『I see.』

Comments:『Well, you can’t become a VTuber if you’re not bored, right?』

Comments:『It’s good that Rei came into this world even if just to kill time!』

Comments:『Rei being bored was a good thing.』

…It seems like I’m the only one who noticed that. Well, of course, it could just be my misunderstanding.

Actually, it was just my hunch that made me think that… I decided it wasn’t necessary to press further and disrupt the flow. If I do want to ask, I can do it after the stream ends… And then Ayaka continued speaking.

“Alright, so everyone has talked about their beginnings! What should we discuss next?” (Rei)

“Well, how about we talk about our future plans together!” (Robin)

To that suggestion, Karen eagerly raised her hand.

“Oh, if that’s the case! I’d like to try cooking with everyone!” (Karen)

Ayaka quickly responded to that.

“That sounds great! I’d love to cook with you, Karen-chan!” (Rei)

“Not a bad idea… But doing it on stream might be challenging.” (Rui)

“We are virtual beings after all.” (Robin)

The debate over whether VTubers should produce irl videos exists, but honestly, I think as long as it’s entertaining, why not? 

Though I can understand the sentiment that if it becomes commonplace, it might raise questions like “Isn’t the character unnecessary?” Well, finding a balance is something we should figure out.

Comments:『But there are VTubers who do cooking streams』

Comments:『I hope it becomes a reality』

Comments:『Rui, can you make a bento for us?』

Comments:『Let’s have Rui’s Youth Bento Championship!』

Haha… The Youth Bento Championship sounds hilariously fun, but the concern is that there might not be anyone willing to participate…

“Hmm… How about getting support from the staff or something?” (Karen)

“Or better yet, why don’t we just have our own show made?” (Rei)

“Isn’t that asking for too much…?” (Rui)

“Hehe! But it would be exciting if the Owen group had its own show!” (Rei)

Comments:『Indeed!』

Comments:『Give us the Owen group show!! Seriously!!』

Comments:『Give us one everyday, please!』

Comments:『Let’s ask the president』

Well, it doesn’t hurt to ask. It might not be a bad idea to consult with Nemo-san. Let’s try mentioning it next time.

“Now, in return… what would you like, Rui?” (Rei)

“Me? Well… I can’t think of anything specific I want to do right now. But I do feel like I want to try various things that I haven’t experienced before. Just like how we’re collaborating offline like this, it’s something I couldn’t have imagined doing before.” (Rui)

Before becoming a VTuber, I definitely wouldn’t have done live streams or invited people over to my house. But once I started streaming, I found it surprisingly enjoyable… I began to think that challenging myself with things I had avoided before wouldn’t be a bad idea.

“Well, Rui just wants to experience his youth, right?” (Rei)

“Please stop saying it in a way that embarrasses me…” (Rui)

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『You’re still having plenty of youth now, aren’t you?』

Comments:『Really, Rui, it’s great that you became a VTuber…』

“Then, Robin-san, what do you want to do?” (Karen)

“Me? I want to try singing. Of course, with this group!” (Robin)

“Well, Robin’s aiming to be a big star.” (Rui)

“Hmph. Don’t tease me too much, Rui Boy…” (Robin)

Then surprisingly… Robin shyly lowered his face… Cut it out, although, it’s a little cute.

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『Cute』

Comments:『Once you know their goals, I feel like cheering them on.』

Comments:『Go for it, Robin!』

“Alright, what about Rei? Any ideas?” (Rui)

“Yeah! I want to play games with everyone!” (Rei)

“Games? We can do that right now if you want…?” (Rui)

I directed my gaze towards the video game console “Snatch” placed in front of the monitor. Ayaka, while twirling her hair, spoke.

“Oh, of course, Rui’s usual games are fine and all… But I think playing board games or going to an actual game center would be fun too!” (Rei)

“Oh, that sounds interesting!” (Robin)

“I want to take Purikura3 photos with Rei!” (Karen)

I see… That does indeed sound like fun.

“That’s a good idea, but we can’t go out to play right now. Plus, I don’t have any board games either… How about we stick to regular games for today? We can save board games and arcades for another time.” (Rui)

“Oh, yeah! That sounds good!” (Robin)

“I’m looking forward to it!” (Karen)

Comments:『Oh, exciting!』

Comments:『Board games & arcade stream coming!?』

Comments:『Nice, looking forward to it』

Comments:『This is what I live for!』

I don’t want this to become someone’s sole reason for living, but it’s amazing that there are so many people looking forward to it.

“So, Rui, what games are we playing now? For a game that four of us can play, how about [Smash Fighters]?” (Robin)

“[Smash Fighters] is a no-go because Rui is too strong! It gets frustrating!” (Rei)

“Ahaha… How about [MariMo Party] then? I bought the new one but haven’t played much… been solo.” (Robin)

Upon hearing the title of the party game, Karen reacted with a twitch.

“Ah, [MariMo Party]! That’s great! I used to play it a lot with my sister!” (Karen)

“Oh, really? Karen-san, you have an older sister?” (Rui)

“Yes! She’s a very nice person, just like Rei-san!” (Karen)

“…………I see.” (Rui)

“Rui~ What’s with that pause~?” (Rei)

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『LOL』

Comments:『That’s scary』

Comments:『Scary』

Comments:『Eek…』

“Uh, well… By the way, Rei, did you bring the controllers?” (Rui)

“Yeah, I brought enough for everyone, just in case.” (Rei)

“You’re super prepared.” (Rui)

…And so, we set up the game and started playing [MariMo Party] with the four of us. Initially, I thought I was dominating, but in a surprising turn of events, Ayaka made a huge comeback victory with the bonus items at the end. It’s frustrating, but well… that’s life, isn’t it?


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

Betting like 80% that Ayaka becoming a VTuber had something to do with Rei. I mean, come on, Rui & Rei? The name sounds similar.

Ok, so I have read on ahead cause I was curious why this chapter is so long and… OMG there was a lot of romantic development happening towards the end. And I mean a lot. We finally got some childhood friend justice! 

Now, I did skip the in-between section and only read the end, but holy shit, now I’m more motivated to translate this. Sooo, for the next few days, I’ll only be translating this series for the next few days until this chapter is done.


Footnote:

  1. So the first one is ごめん, which is sorry (gomen). Second one is ご麵, which is sorry but the ‘めん (men)’ is replaced with ‘麵 (men)’ which means noodles. As for the next, two, idk.
  2. No idea what this is referencing.
  3. Purikura is a photo sticker booth where you take pictures and edit them with various backdrops, borders, texts, icons, etc.

CFVT – Vol 1 Chapter 6 Part 1 – A Sudden Invitation for an Off-Collab

The next day, I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing. Guided by the sound, I reached for my smartphone, unplugged it from the charging cable, and answered.

“Hello?” (Rui)

As expected, I heard the familiar voice of my childhood friend.

“(Hey, Rui? Were you asleep by any chance?)” (Ayaka)

I rubbed my eyes and checked the time on the clock; it was just past 9 AM. Normally, I’ll be handling my part-time job’s peak hour… but today’s shift starts in the afternoon.

“I WAS asleep.” (Rui)

“(Ahaha! Sorry, sorry, but I just had to tell you my thoughts about yesterday!)” (Ayaka)

Ayaka said with a laugh. Yesterday… ah, she must be talking about [Andou-sensei’s Science Prep Room].

“You watched it, huh? I’m glad, but you don’t have to force yourself to watch just because I was in it, you know? I’m sure you’re busy too, Ayaka…” (Rui)

“(Nonono! I’ve been looking forward to it for so long! I was excited to see you on the show, Rui!)” (Ayaka)

“Really? …So, how was it?” (Rui)

I asked for her thoughts. Ayaka’s voice grew more lively as she began describing enough for me to imagine her movements.

“(It was amazing! Seriously! There was a great response on Twitter, too, and it seemed like you got along well with Sensei and Mochi-chan. I’m really happy for you!)” (Ayaka)

“…I see.” (Rui)

I found myself sitting up. Yeah, that’s right… I am where I am now entirely because of Ayaka. I had completely forgotten that.

“…Thanks, Ayaka.” (Rui)

“(Huh, about what?)” (Ayaka)

“Well, it’s thanks to you. I’ve been able to experience so many things I never could have before. So, you know… I’m grateful.” (Rui)

Saying that made me feel embarrassed, and my drowsiness quickly disappeared. I wasn’t sure if Ayaka noticed, but I could hear her laughing.

“(It’s fine! I’m just happy that you became a VTuber, Rui! So… let’s keep doing fun things together, Rui!)” (Ayaka)

“Yeah… definitely!” (Rui)

“(…So, um, with that in mind, I got a suggestion…)” (Ayaka)

…Huh? Did the mood just change?

“Could it be…” (Rui)

“(Hehe, that’s right! Rui, let’s do another collab! This time, an offline one!)” (Ayaka)

“I knew it… Well, I don’t mind, but didn’t we just do a collab recently? Plus, doing an off-collab with just the two of us might cause some issues…” (Rui)

Saying something like this might make her bring up how we already did one at her house, but that was an exception. I didn’t even know she was planning to stream, and I didn’t know she was a VTuber either… 

While I was thinking that, Ayaka continued in her cheerful voice, not paying any attention to my concerns.

“(It’ll be fine! Besides, I’m not proposing this collaboration without a plan, you know?)” (Ayaka)

“So, what kind of stream are you thinking of?” (Rui)

“(This time, I was thinking of doing a collaboration stream with everyone from the Owen group!)” (Ayaka)

“The Owen group?” (Rui)

That sounded familiar… Where had I heard it before? 

“(Rui, did you forget? You and I are supposed to be attending [Owen’s Magic School]. There are other VTubers at [SkySun] who also used the same school setting. All of us together are known as the Owen group!)” (Ayaka)

“Oh… Right. I’m starting to remember now.” (Rui)

I think Shiozawa-san (head of agency) mentioned something like that. To get me involved with Ayaka, they made me one of the magicians as well… right?

“So, how many people are in this Owen Group?” (Rui)

“(Well… there’s me, you, Karen-chan, and Robin-kun, so four of us!)” (Ayaka)

“Another new name, huh…?” (Rui)

It’s been about a month since I joined [SkySun], but I still haven’t memorized everyone’s faces and names. I should, but unfortunately, my memory isn’t great… 

Besides, until a month ago, I couldn’t even tell the difference between VTubers and anime characters… isn’t that just an excuse?

“(You really should remember these two! You’ll definitely be working with them in the future with this group!)” (Ayaka)

Ayaka spoke quite firmly. Perhaps she was thinking ahead about future activities, and that it’s best to meet the Owen Group members as soon as possible. If that’s the case, I can’t exactly refuse this invitation.

“Alright, got it… I’ll look into the two of them for now.” (Rui)

“(Yeah!)” (Ayaka)

With the call still connected, I opened [SkySun]’s official website on my phone. I scrolled down, searching for the Owen Group members.

“Let’s see, Karen… oh, here she is. Is she this ‘Karen Story’ girl?” (Rui)

I found a silver-haired girl with apple-red cheeks wearing a bachelor’s cap. Her name was written as ‘Karen Story’ below her profile.

“(That’s right! Karen-chan is tiny and really cute!)” (Ayaka)

“Really.” (Rui)

So, a loli type, huh? Well, there’s always a certain demand for that… I thought as I tapped on her profile and read it out loud.

“A kind and dependable genius girl who enrolled at [Owen’s Magic School] by skipping grades… I see. The child prodigy type, huh?” (Rui)

“(Hehe, looking at it this way, your settings are a bit similar, aren’t they, Rui?)” (Ayaka)

“What? I’m neither a loli, nor am I kind or dependable.” (Rui)

“(That’s not for you to judge, Rui.)” (Ayaka)

“Eh, what do you mean by that…?” (Rui)

Still confused, I returned to the list of VTubers on the screen and searched for the other member of the Owen Group. Let’s see, Robin, Robin…

“Oh, found him.” (Rui)

There was a boy with purple hair, wearing earrings, and with a lazy expression. The name written below was…

“Robin Flail… He looks like a cool, strong character.” (Rui)

“(Ah, Robin-kun is actually a mood maker and a bit of a clown!)” (Ayaka)

“Wait, with this appearance…?” (Rui)

“(Yeah!)” (Ayaka)

Oh, I see. So he’s the playful type… Well, that’s fine, I guess? I have no room to criticize him, especially after my character fell apart in my debut stream…

“(Before Rui joined, the three of us used to do things like singing collabs!)” (Ayaka)

“I see. I hope they don’t dislike me for joining the group…” (Rui)

“(It’ll be fine! They’re both really kind, and all the viewers love you, Rui! So, take it easy, okay?)” (Ayaka)

Ayaka threw kind words at me, trying not to let me worry.

“Well… If everyone’s okay with it, then I do want to do my best as a member of the Owen Group… But, are you sure it’s okay for me to join?” (Rui)

“(Hehe, yes! Of course! …By the way, I thought you’d say that,I had already gotten Karen-chan and Robin-kun’s approval.)” (Ayaka)

“As expected of Ayaka, always quick to act… So when are we doing this collaboration?” (Rui)

With a mix of admiration and bewilderment, I asked her about the schedule. Then… Ayaka seemed a bit hesitant to respond.

“(Um, we agreed to do it next week… but we haven’t decided on a location yet. So, I was thinking, what if… just in case you’re okay with it… we could do it at your place, Rui? What do you think?)” (Ayaka)

“Wait… Are you serious?” (Rui)

“(Yeah, I’m serious!)” (Ayaka)

Ayaka echoed my words… Wait, isn’t my house a bit strict with rules and all…?

“Ayaka… Don’t you have any other ideas?” (Rui)

“(Hmm, I did think about other options. I live with my parents, you know? Karen-chan also lives with her family, and Robin-kun’s house is apparently really messy. I also thought about renting [SkySun]’s studio, but I didn’t get an okay from the manager yet.)” (Ayaka)

“Oh… So that’s why it came down to using my place…” (Rui)

“(Yeah!)” (Ayaka)

I see… Well, if you’re really stuck for a location, I guess you could use it. My place is quite a distance from the station, though. And… 

“My apartment is pretty small for a four-person gathering.” (Rui)

“(But there’s enough room for the four of us to sit, right?)” (Ayaka)

“Well… I guess there’s that much, but…” (Rui)

I looked around my room. I tried to look cool by placing a potted plant on my desk, but there were torn cushions and game controllers scattered on the floor… It’s definitely not a clean room, to say the least.

“Even if we were to do it at my place… Ayaka might be okay with it, but would the other two be okay? They might not feel comfortable going to someone’s house they’ve never met… especially if it’s messy.” (Rui)

I said this thinking about everyone’s feelings, but Ayaka lightly hummed, “Hmm,” in response.

“(They said they’re fine with anywhere, but if you’re that worried, why don’t we call them?)” (Ayaka)

“Huh?” (Rui)

“(Karen-chan and Robin-kun. Should we do a group call?)” (Ayaka)

“Uh, um… really…?” (Rui)

If we were just meeting in person, I might still be able to pull it off, but adding a group call in between makes me nervous…Still, I couldn’t just avoid the situation. I already told sensei that I’ll start to pursue my youth. I need to break away from my old self.

With that in mind, I lightly slapped my cheek and made a request to Ayaka.

“Alright, Ayaka. I get it. So, can you go ahead and ask them?” (Rui)

“(Hehe, sure thing! I’ll start by messaging them to see if a call is okay!)” (Ayaka)

“Okay.” (Rui)

Ayaka got in touch with them, and after waiting a few minutes, it seemed like they both replied.

“(Oh, Robin-kun seems available and will join us now! Karen-chan might take a bit more time!)” (Ayaka)

“I see, got it—” (Rui)

Before I could finish my sentence, a notification sound indicated Robin had joined the call.

“Yo, the name’s Robin… Flail! A pleasure to meet you, Rui Boy!” (Robin)

A deep, smooth voice came through… I couldn’t believe it. Could this really be that guy with the strong character vibe… Robin Flail?

“…Is this real?” (Rui)

“(Yeah, it’s really me. By the way, my real name is Tsubasa.)” (Robin)

“Is it okay to just say that?” (Rui)

“(Heh, of course, because you’re Rui Boy. I only give my last name to the other VTubers… And of course, it’s my mother’s maiden name1, right?)” (Robin)

“…” (Rui)

…I don’t get this guy at all! What, what’s going on!? This is scary!

“Um, R-Robin-san, are you… always like this?” (Rui)

“(Yeah, I am bound by nothing… I’m a free spirit!)” (Robin)

“No, I mean, I don’t understand…” (Rui)

“(Heheh! This is just how Robin-kun usually is! It might be a bit tough to get used to at first, but it’s really fun!)” (Ayaka)

“Um, really…? If this is your usual, I’m actually more worried now…” (Rui)

I let out a bewildered sigh… Are VTubers really only popular if they’re this eccentric? Did I really get myself into something incredibly bizarre? Can I still turn back now?

Meanwhile, Robin started chatting with Ayaka.

“(Hey, long time no see, Rei-chan. I think the last time was during the Owen Group karaoke stream, right?)” (Robin)

“(Yeah, that was like three months ago!)” (Ayaka)

“(Time flies, huh? Even though I was sick of the heat every day, now I’m eagerly waiting for the next summer… Right, Ramen Boy?)” (Robin)

“Wait, are you talking about me?” (Rui)

“(Who else could I be referring to, huh? Hahaha!)” (Robin)

“…” (Rui)

Yeah, he’s definitely full of himself… And thankfully, Ayaka managed to steer the conversation back.

“(Um, so Robin-kun, about the Owen Group collab… We’re planning to do it at Rui’s place this time. Is that okay with you?)” (Ayaka)

“(I have no problem with that. Actually, are you sure it’s okay to bother Rui Boy for something like this?)” (Robin)

“Ah, that’s okay. I’m new here, so if it helps everyone…” (Rui)

Robin cut in eagerly, interrupting my words.

“(You don’t need to worry about that, Rui Boy. We’re equals here. Being a newbie or not, those things don’t matter at all.)” (Robin)

“Huh?” (Rui)

“We’re comrades, after all. Let’s drop the formalities. Being able to speak your mind freely to each other… that’s what true friendship is about, right?” (Robin)

“Yeah… you’re right.” (Rui)

After feeling hesitant just moments ago, hearing those words made me trust Robin. Maybe he’s just like me, a bit awkward in various ways… probably.

“Thanks, Robin… But since the location isn’t decided yet, and I’m starting to look forward to it a bit, how about coming to my place?” (Rui)

“(Hmm, if that’s the case, I understand, Rui. In that case, I’ll come over to hang out… shoes off, of course.)” (Robin)

“Why’s that?” (Rui)

“(It’s American-style bonding2.)” (Robin)

“You’re really misunderstanding a lot of things, aren’t you?” (Rui)

Here, a sound effect indicating someone joining the call rang out again.

“(Oh, it looks like Karen-chan is here too!)” (Ayaka)

“(Ah, I’m sorry for being late, Rei-san! I was getting ready to go out!)” (Karen)

A very youthful and cute voice could be heard. It had a distinctive quality like that of a voice actor.

“(It’s totally fine! So… Karen-chan, this is your first time meeting Rui, right?)” (Ayaka)

“(Rui… Ah, you’re Rui-san, right? Nice to meet you! I’m Karen Story! I look forward to working with you!)” (Karen)

“Nice to meet you too.” (Rui)

I returned the greeting. Ah, that’s good. Karen-san seems like a normal person…

“(I’ve heard a lot about you from Rei-san, so I’m glad we can talk like this! Let’s get along well!)” (Karen)

“Yes, of course! By the way… what did Rei say about me?” (Rui)

“(Um… she said you’re like a rabbit!)” (Karen)

“What does that even mean!?” (Rui)

Where did Rei get the idea that I’m like a rabbit…!? Is it because of my short legs or something…!? Anyways, Ayaka interrupted slightly flustered.

“(Well, putting that aside… Karen-chan, we’ve decided to do the next collaboration at Rui’s place. Is that okay with you?)” (Ayaka)

“(Yes! As long as Rei-san is there, I’m fine with anywhere! I’ll follow along!)” (Karen)

Karen seemed completely unconcerned and said so cheerfully. She seems quite attached to Ayaka… 

It was somewhat surprising, but come to think of it, Ayaka was always caring in nature. She used to walk around the town with the neighborhood kids… Well, those were stories from a long time ago though.

“(Hehe, thank you! I’ll let you know the exact date and time soon!)” (Ayaka)

“(I’m looking forward to it!)” (Karen)

“(Well then, see you both later!)” (Ayaka)

“(Yes, excuse me!)” (Karen)

“(Farewell!)” (Robin)

With those words, the two of them exited the call… and Ayaka, who remained, chuckled softly once again.

“(Isn’t it great, Rui? They’re both coming over to your place!)” (Ayaka)

“Yeah, I need to clean up. Such a hassle…” (Rui)

“(Hehe! Just admit you’re looking forward to it!)” (Ayaka)

“…” (Rui)

…Ayaka always seems to see right through me.


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

Something tells me Karen isn’t normal either. Just a hunch, but she might have some obsession with Ayaka. I mean, that’s how it usually goes, right?

Also, this chapter is ridiculously long. As in, it could very well take 10 parts lol.


Footnote:

  1. So maiden name is the surname prior to marriage of a person. So he uses his previous last name when talking to others.
  2. Yeh, I don’t get this.
| ToC |
Character List (might contain spoilers)