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LIME chats at the end were edited by grammstack ❤
It was a mildly hot June morning. On such a day, you’d normally wake up with the unpleasant feeling of your sweat-drenched t-shirt sticking to your skin, but for some reason, today was different. A sweet, milk-flavored scent tickled my nose, and my body was being softly shaken.
A soft voice, like the voice of a kind mother waking up her small child. This pleasant sound slowly pulled me out of my slumber.
“You’re finally awake.”
My eyes opened, and my vision was filled with the face of a softly smiling girl. She had short, silver-blond hair reminiscent of elves from fantasy movies. Her small, thin body was covered by an apron, which was embroidered with a cute starfish pattern.
I knew that girl’s name.
Tsukinomori Mashiro. My cousin, as well as my fake girlfriend.
In order for the members of the “5th Floor Alliance” to be accepted into the Honey Plays Works company, the condition that I had received from the company president Tsukinomori Makoto was to pretend to be Mashiro’s boyfriend. But now, she wasn’t just a fake girlfriend.
‘Mashiro loves you. More than anything in the world.’
After I opened up that embarrassingly simple confession that I had received through LIME, our relationship changed. The annoying fake girlfriend cousin, the little mermaid who had shut herself in, the annoying girl who would use both her pretty face and poisonous tongue to bother me; she was now gone.
For me, the Mashiro right now is… is… Squeeze
As if she wanted to interrupt my thoughts, she pushed something against my cheek. This cold, porcelain-like feeling, no doubt, was a bowl.
“……What is this?”
“Breakfast. It’s delicious.”
In response to my confused question, Mashiro continued to push the bowl against me. When I peeked inside, I found sea urchin, salmon roe, and soft roe—or so I thought, but it was all jiggly and wobbly.
The ingredients were top-of-the-line, enough to make you drool from it, but this wasn’t exactly something I wanted to eat at this time of the day.
“I’ll just ask you again. What is this?”
“Pudding-style, super-duper bowl.”
“Pudding-style, super-duper bowl?”
Unable to get my thoughts in order, I just repeated her words.
“Yeah. Pudding-style, super-duper bowl. It’s delicious.”
“You’re telling me to eat this, first thing in the morning?”
I mean, come on. This clearly isn’t something you’d eat in the morning. Anyone would agree, right?
When I refused to eat this ridiculous cuisine in front of me, Mashiro’s movements came to an abrupt stop and her eyebrows furrowed.
Oh, is she sulking now?
All the girls around me are really tough to handle, but Mashiro is a special nutcase even among them. After we first met, her mood had gone down the drain, and she had made me go through all sorts of trouble. Her face seems to be saying, “What nerve you have to complain, even though I brilliantly made you breakfast like this,” or something like that.
Like a villager awaiting divine punishment, I awaited her next words. She slowly opened her mouth.
“…Sorry about this. Mashiro only knows how to make seafood dishes…” Mashiro said in a meek manner.
—You’re kidding me, right? Where’s your usual poisonous tongue? Your foul mood? Your cold treatment?
“Did you hit your head? This isn’t like you at all.”
“Mashiro didn’t hit her head at all. The only thing that was hit was… her heart…”
“Again, who are you… Wait? So then, I—”
Mashiro had come to wake me up, and had even made me breakfast. Clearly, this should have indicated that I had accepted Mashiro’s feelings and her confession. That’s how it should have been. If not, this current situation would be unthinkable.
But something’s wrong.
I have absolutely no recollection of saying yes. What did I do after seeing that LIME message?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff, Aki. Just relax, and let Mashiro show you this dream.”
“…Dream? Hey, what are you doing?!”
Mashiro set the bowl down near her feet, took off the apron, and slowly started unbuttoning her uniform, laying her white shoulders bare. After climbing on atop the bed like a spoiled cat, she put her hands on my shoulders and pushed me down, bringing her glittering lips closer to mine.
“Let’s do stuff that lovers do.”
“Hey, stop… Mghu?!”
Touch. Our lips overlapped.
My first kiss was unexpectedly cold. Just as you’d expect from Snow White, my little mermaid. I liked the consistency of her appearance, as well as her lips, being so cold.
Still, whew, what a passionate kiss. Mashiro’s even pushing her tongue inside, through the opening of my lips. She’s going rampant inside my mouth, leaving me no room to breathe.
This isn’t good. My consciousness is fading. I can’t breathe. It’s so cold. If I don’t push her away soon, I’ll… Die.
And then I woke up.
Thin rays of sunlight were shining through the curtains, and my bed let out a creak as I moved.
Although it was only June, it seemed the cicadas were holding a concert outside my window. My lips were still touching something cold, but—
These definitely weren’t Mashiro’s lips.
“Sucking on the tip like an octopus! Haha, Senpai’s mouth is so lewd!”
“Come on~, you want this, right~? Here, let’s kiss a bit more!”
“If you don’t get up soon, Iroha will eat up Senpai’s you-know-what, you know?”
“…What the hell are you doing?!”
“Oh my. You’ve finally woken up, Senpai.”
That irritating voice fully roused me from my slumber, and I glared at the person in front of me.
Beautiful, bright, golden-yellow hair, and a summer uniform that perfectly matched this damp, warm weather. A blue scrunchie on her right wrist. The looks of a stylish high school student, but not quite enough to qualify as a gyaru. A normal high school girl (JK) in her prime—
My friend’s little sister. Kohinata Iroha.
Since I live alone in this flat, if anything disastrous happens, nobody will know if I die. So, I decided to give my trusted neighbour, my friend Ozu, a spare key. However, said key is mostly used by this bothersome trespasser in order to annoy me at any given opportunity. That is why her being in my room like this shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, but—
Being visited by her this early in the morning was indeed a rare occasion.
“What are you doing to my poor self in my sleep? Also, what’s that you’re hold—”
“It’s iced candy!”
“Are you some sort of a ghost who doesn’t know not to push his iced candy into another human’s mouth?”
“Ehhh, you don’t get me? You don’t understand your considerate Kouhai’s heart, who just wanted to wake her poor Senpai up from a nightmare~?”
Still teasing me, she continued to push the iced candy against my lips.
Just shut up already…
I guess that explains why I thought that my lips were so cold just now.
“Just wake me up normally, idiot.”
“I can’t do that~ If I’m being this kind already, I’ve gotta have some fun at least, or it’s not worth it!”
“Why is it written in stone that you have to enjoy yourself whenever you’re doing me a favor?”
“Senpai gets woken up, and I get to have some fun. It’s what you’d call a win-win situation, you know? Ah, do you want to eat the iced candy? If you insist, I wouldn’t mind feeding you mouth-to-mouth, you know~?”
“There’s no way you’ll ever strike a deal with a company if you just push your own desires on them. And no, I don’t, idiot.”
When I brushed aside the candy, Iroha’s cheeks puffed up in a pout.
“Also, your reaction to being woken up by such a cute girl is way too weak, Senpai!”
“It’s fine if it is. I’m not some hardcore masochist who would enjoy being toyed around with like that.”
“Hmph. Then what else would you enjoy?”
Iroha leaned forward with a grin. The second button of her shirt was unbuttoned, and I could see the valley of her chest through the gap, forcing me to avert my gaze. When I did, Iroha responded with a delighted “Aha~”.
“What’s wrong, Senpai? You’re supposed to look someone in the eyes when you’re talking to them~”
“…Shut it, idiot. There’s gotta be a limit to how vulgar you are.”
“So, can I take it as a compliment that men—Senpai thinks that this part of me is charming?”
“Now now, there’s no need to wear such a frustrated expression. It’s only logical that your heart would tingle in response to Iroha-chan’s charm~ It’s okay if your male gauge suddenly starts rising. You can’t help it, after all!”
This little bitch. You shouldn’t tease a man like this. You might end up regretting it later.
Or so I thought as I mentally vented my anger. Iroha was still in full annoyance mode.
“And what’s your problem, this early in the morning?”
“Ah, it seems that you haven’t realised it yet. Look at this. Maybe that is when you’ll be thankful that the great Iroha came to wake you up.
She reached out towards the alarm clock next to my pillow and held it in front of her chest. It was the same digital alarm clock I used every day. The LCD display was showing the time that I would always wake up at, which was at 7am. Not quite, because it was already a bit past 8am.
“Since you typically get up at 7am, and I didn’t hear anything after 8am, I thought that something was up so I told Onii-chan I’d go over and check.”
“Impossible. Already past 8am, you say…? This cannot be. Did you change the time to mess with me again…?”
“Even I wouldn’t do something that malicious. And why are so upset? You just overslept a bit.”
“I lost an entire hour, you know?! This should never have happened!”
I, Ooboshi Akiteru, am driven to achieve the greatest efficiency I can in my life. The time I use for my own personal studies, the time I move as a member of the [5th Floor Alliance], the time I spend with friends and their relatives, my dining times, how long I take on my way to school, even my sleeping hours should be perfectly under my control. A misstep of about five minutes isn’t that big of a deal. I’m only human, after all. However, an hour is a whole other level of misstep.
With stiff movements resembling that of a long forgotten, unoiled robot, I looked at Iroha, putting all my hope into my next question.
“H-Hey, Iroha. Is this possibly the timeline where today’s a holiday or commemoration day—”
“It’s a perfectly normal school day~”
“I’ll go get a physical examination right now. Maybe they’ll find some idiotic illness.”
“If you go to the hospital for such a reason, they’ll be suspecting another illness.”
Just this once, Iroha was actually right. No matter how much of a perfectly-scheduled human being I am, going to the hospital in suspicion of an illness is taking it too far. That’s just how much of an irregularity this whole happening is.
“Going through your memories in search of a reason is nice and all, but you’ll really be late if you keep this up, you know?”
“You’re right! And if you knew, then tell earlier, would you?!”
Jumping up from the bed in a panic, I could barely hear Iroha’s “I thought it’d be great to see you run low on time like this” as I dashed out of my bedroom. If there was an important meeting or any trouble that would make me arrive late, that’d be one thing, but because I overslept? Don’t mess with me.
Hearing Iroha’s giggly “Good luck, Senpai~” at my back, I headed for the bathroom.
“Damn it, that Iroha. Whether you’re actually helping me here or not, I’ve no clue.” I cursed as I finished washing my face, and wiped it dry with a towel.
Having that weird dream, being played around with by Iroha, running close to being late, what a great start for the day. But thanks to the cold water, I managed to clear my head.
“…I dreamt… huh…”
I remember back to the sweet lovey-dovey couple-like atmosphere we had.
…But how much of that is reality?
There’s no mistaking her confession; I remember that much. But how I replied, and how our relationship ended up like that, I have no idea. So I took out my smartphone while I was brushing my teeth, and checked the chat I had with her on LIME.
[Mashiro]: Mashiro loves you. More than anything in the world.
[AKI]: What… do you mean by that?
[Mashiro]: Exactly what you can see.
[AKI]: You don’t mean LIKE, do you?
[Mashiro]: LOVE. Mashiro wants to be lovers with Aki❤
[AKI]: I see… Please let me give it some thought.
[Mashiro]: Okay❤ Mashiro will be waiting for your reply❤❤❤
That didn’t sound like Mashiro at all.
Though I was a bit perplexed at the overuse of ❤ in her messages, the thing about her confession was really true… I see, I’m currently still in the position of giving her a reply. Well, that makes sense. Working my life for the success of our mobile game, I’dnever once thought that a rom-com event like this could actually occur. There’s no way I could just straight-out respond to that.
Cleaning out my mouth with some water, I gave myself a deep gaze in the mirror.
See Uncle, this is what you get when you come at me with this rom-com fake girlfriend setting. You were practically begging for it. Falling in love midway through the acting is as cliché as it can get.
Does Mashiro really have any romantic feelings for me? Isn’t this way too out of character for her?
—No, let’s stop. Doubting another person’s feelings isn’t something I should be doing.
If it wasn’t a misunderstanding, that makes it even easier. I just have to do this the ordinary way. But ignoring Mashiro’s feelings is a no-go. I can’t allow her to get hurt now. If her feelings are real, I have to face them head-on.
Finishing my mirror check, I steeled my resolve.
Today, I’ll meet Mashiro, and find out about her feelings face-to-face. And then—
I’ll give her my sincere reply.
「I think it’s really great that you’re facing her head-on. Just what I’d expect from Aki」
「I just don’t like beating around the bush, that’s all.」