Gekkou:Volume 1 Sweet Nightmare
At the staff room after closing time.
"I would like you to see me home," requested Tsukimori after changing into her school uniform.
"See you home...?" I repeated warily like a parrot.
"You see, I always feel someone's gaze on me on the way from the café to the train station..."
She gave a shiver.
"Aren't you just being paranoid?" I wanted to say at first, but I reconsidered because it was quite possible in her case. After all, she was no doubt eye-catching. Instead, I suggested, "Then you should consult the police rather than me."
"Weak, Nonomiya! That's weak! Come on, be a man and protect her!"
Mirai-san, who had apparently followed our exchange, thumped a table close to her. The staff nearby turned around, surprised, to see what was going on.
"I don't mean to brag, but I don't have confidence in my strength. Even if she gets attacked by a stalker, the best I can do is get beaten up myself."
"You aren't bragging at all! And if you're a man, you ought to bravely fight all the same, even if you have to put your neck on the line!"
"I'm under the impression that you would make a better bodyguard than me, Mirai-san."
"Moron! I'm a delicate young lady, you know? I also need to be protected."
I shrugged exaggeratedly and took a look at the faces of the rest of the staff. They could only answer my gaze with lopsided smiles because they feared her, but their real thoughts were bound to be the same as mine.
"Very funny, indeed."
"Heh, does your face look like you wanna complain? Nonomiya?"
Mirai-san drew closer with glaring eyes.
"Mirai-san, let it be. If Nonomiya-kun refuses so adamantly, there is nothing that can be done about it. I will try my best to get home alone...," Tsukimori sighed and plodded towards the entrance.
The very moment before she closed the door—
—She let out a deep sigh that resounded through the whole staffroom.
All gazes focused on me at once, each of which was reproachful. A close friend can become a close enemy, indeed.
"See her off, Nonomiya-kun," said the manager at last, siding with Tsukimori like the others.
Powered by this, the whole staff started criticizing me. I was attacked from all sides. Outnumbered. I was completely made out to be the bad guy.
"Fine, fine, I've got it already! I'll go see her home, okay?" I groaned and jumped out of the uncomfortable staffroom to run after Tsukimori.
To my surprise, I caught up with her immediately after leaving the café.
Tsukimori was leaning against a telephone pole in front of the shop, waiting below a street light like the queen of the night.
"I knew you would come."
She spotted me and smiled like a blooming flower—revealing to me that my action wasn't unexpected at all.
I looked up at the night sky in order to suppress my boiling emotions. A crescent moon grinned at me tonight.
"You're not fair."
"What do you mean?"
"What are you scheming?"
"That's not nice, you know? As a girl I am very frightened to walk alone at night, you know?"
"Then why didn't you have your mother pick you up, or ask someone else among the staff see you off, or contact the police?"
"As always, you seem to have no idea of how a girl's heart works. I wanted you to see me home."
She laughed as though she was humming and linked her arm in mine. "Shampoo?" I wondered silently as I could perceive a sweet fragrance of flowers from her.
From my experiences so far I had learned that one couldn't get free so easily once Tsukimori had taken the lead, but it was also fact that I, only unwillingly accepting her lead, certainly had no submissive nature.
Therefore, the few meters during which my arm was pressed against her full bosom were the purest humiliation to me.
I was beyond hope, though, because for just a second I had thought that, while Youko Tsukimori herself may have been the most ill-natured woman on earth, her soft bosom was blameless.
"I won't run away, so please stop this," I begged her with a sigh mixed in, and finally shook her off.
"Too bad. And we had finally created such a nice mood."
Tsukimori was sullen, but her steps remained light.
While watching her black hair dance behind her, I let out a loud sigh.
It may go without saying, but my steps were heavy.
We got on a train heading out of the city and passed through four stations while getting a good shake. When we alighted at our destination, we were in a residential zone in the outskirts.
"I live over there. A few minutes' walk from here."
Tsukimori pointed at a hill. I saw immediately that we would have a hard time climbing, looking at all the slopes and stairs that could be seen there. The sight alone had me dispirited.
"Don't frown like that. Going out with me means coming up this way all the time, you know?"
"My sympathies to your boyfriend."
"Don't worry. You'll get used to it in no time."
Tsukimori walked off without caring about my sagging spirits. "Look, the stars are beautiful tonight," she said, sounding easy-going.
Since I didn't want to turn around after coming so far, I followed her reluctantly.
It was a tranquil residential area and rather "classy".
The streets were lit with comparatively short gaps, but it was still eerily dark around us. I had to admit that the shivering she had shown earlier might have been more than mere acting.
As expected, I was completely drained by the time we came to a stop. Tsukimori, accustomed as she was, showed no indication of strain, making her appear more irritating than ever to me.
"Here we are," proclaimed Tsukimori and stood before the entrance.
It was a large white building. The term "mansion" might be appropriate.
Since her father had been the head of a construction design company, it was a rather fancy design, constructed with tetrahedrons systematically put together, giving it an overall geometric feel. I would have nodded in comprehension if someone had told me it was the house of a physicist.
There was no light inside, so her mother was apparently absent.
While I was curiously looking up at the house, Tsukimori tugged at my sleeve.
"Now that you're here, why don't you come in?"
Her proposal was most suspicious and virtually crying out to be doubted.
I knew it would be a pain if anyone got wind of this visit. If, on top of that, the guys at school learned that no one else had been in the house at the time, the rumors that might emerge from it exceeded my imagination. Especially in Kamogawa's case... I didn't even want to think about it.
By now I was sure everything had been an act of hers to make me enter her house. It would certainly rub me the wrong way if her plan succeeded.
"Good idea. I'm pretty thirsty; can I come in for a drink?"
Nonetheless, I accepted her offer because it was a very rare opportunity.
Though I had, as a matter of fact, suspended doubting her due to a lack of progress, I had by no means stopped. The suspicion due to the murder recipe was still smoldering in my mind.
Originally I had expected that new progress would come from associating with her and learning more about her, but all my attempts had remained fruitless. The more I was in touch with her, the less I understood her true nature. I had no clue how to distinguish between her jokes and her serious statements. In other words, she was as slippery as an eel.
Hence, I had come to the conclusion that it might be better to approach her mother. From what I had seen of her at the funeral, she was not as complicated a person as Tsukimori. It shouldn't be necessary to probe Tsukimori herself to find out about her relationship with her father.
I followed Tsukimori into the house. Not a sound was to be heard inside.
While taking off my shoes at the entrance, I asked: "What time is your mother coming back?"
"Do you have a soft spot for older women?" teased Tsukimori with a laugh.
"At least more than for you," I answered—with an earnest face as a test.
"Now that's a shock, even if it is meant as a joke."
Tsukimori shook her head while taking out some slippers for us.
It seemed that I had taken the lead.
"My mother has gone out and will be back late. Today is your chance!"
"...just what sort of chance would that be, I wonder?"
I pushed her head away, since she had come closer to peek at my face.
And the lead went back to Tsukimori.
"I only wanted to introduce myself to her since I'm here."
"Oh, that pleases me to hear. Did you finally warm up to me?"
"I don't know how you took my words, but let me assure you that you're wrong."
I followed her into the living room.
"I'll bring something to drink. Make yourself comfortable on the sofa."
Tsukimori disappeared into the neighboring room, turning on the light there. Half of a well-equipped system kitchen entered my view.
I let my gaze sweep through the living room.
Like the outside, the residence of the Tsukimoris looked quite respectable from the inside: there was a leather sofa with an amber luster and a queerly shaped glass table which even an amateur could identify as a designer table. Furthermore, I found a terrifyingly large LCD TV and luxurious hi-fi equipment. The rumors were true: they were quite a wealthy family.
To my disappointment however, there was nothing special apart from that, like an object that would have served me as a clue for Tsukimori's relationship with her father.
Well, it was only natural that nothing too peculiar was placed in the living room where a lot of people went in and out. Unfortunately, though, I didn't have any pretext that would have allowed me to look through the other rooms, either. I couldn't help feeling that I had forfeited the rare chance of getting into her house.
I was still reeling in disappointment when Tsukimori came back with a tray of drinks.
"I hope you are fine with black tea?"
I intended to leave after emptying my cup. There was no use in staying for too long. However, Tsukimori had apparently read my intentions: "Make yourself at home! It's only Saturday tomorrow, so there's no need to hurry, right?"
"Are you out of your mind? I'm a man, you know?"
As if to make her the outlet of my letdown, my wording became a little harsh. I realized that I was acting pretty selfishly, since she wasn't to blame that I had set my own expectations too high.
"That only supports my argument! A boy should never leave an anxious girl behind alone."
"But this is your own home."
"Do you believe stalkers care about such obstacles?"
"How should I know how a stalker thinks? In the first place, that story sounds quite fishy to me anyway."
"Too bad," Tsukimori sighed slightly. "You sure don't let me have my way, Nonomiya-kun."
"That's my line. You lead me by the nose all the time!" I objected promptly. I was naturally unable to just accept it that my opponent forestalled me in saying what had constantly been on my mind.
A moment later, she whispered in a voice that was too loud to be a monologue: "...I wonder if I should consult Mirai-san about Nonomiya-kun..."
I almost spat out my black tea.
"...is that a threat?"
I stared with hostile eyes at Tsukimori.
"It's unavoidable. I simply wish to receive a piece of good advice from an older woman like Mirai-san. There's nothing strange about it, is there?"
Tsukimori covered half of her face under a cushion as if to block my gaze.
"Consulting Mirai-san about love problems is like asking the devil the way to heaven."
"That was a good one."
Tsukimori buried her nose in the cushion and giggled.
"It's no laughing matter. It's a most serious matter of life and death!"
I almost got a headache just by imagining a merry Mirai-san teasing me. I would surely have to say farewell to my busy yet peaceful work life, because she would be asking me about Tsukimori non-stop.
"I would not mind our colleagues at the café knowing about us. I don't like having secrets."
"You don't mind."
Tsukimori may have been used to being the center of attention, but I was not. Just the thought of capturing everyone's attention gave me the shivers.
A comfortable role as a spectator suited me best. Everyone has their own qualities.
"To be frank, I would love to openly attempt winning you over."
"After all, you seem to be good at getting all the others on your side, right?" I said with a full load of sarcasm.
"An inborn virtue of mine?" countered Tsukimori without trouble.
"You don't say. You are a schemer, an actor and, if we get to the heart of it, just plain wicked. It's just that everyone is being deceived by your beautiful looks and don't notice your deadly thorns."
"You think I am beautiful? I am on cloud nine!"
"Where have the 'deadly thorns' gone?"
"Paying regard to things that aren't true goes against my principles."
Judging from her serious mien, she did not in the least mean to be joking. Most likely she was even scandalized, in fact.
But strangely enough, I also realized that a girl as "eye-catching" as her might actually need such nerves of steel.
"Would you like another cup?" smiled Tsukimori, ladylike and slightly inclining her head, with a porcelain tea pot in her hand.
I held out my tea cup to her, waving the white flag in my mind.
I had chosen to watch her devilish scheme for a little longer.
Thirty minutes later.
"Your mother is pretty late," I addressed Tsukimori, who was sitting opposite me.
"Yes, she said she would be."
"When is she going to be back then?"
"Hm... sometime around ten, I suppose?"
"That makes thirty minutes from now, huh."
I was starting to feel uncomfortable sharing the same time and room, just the two of us, but I was willing to bear with another half an hour and lay back in the sofa.
Tsukimori murmured, "Well, twenty-four hours from now, to be exact."
I bolted upright on the sofa and stared at her. She was leisurely browsing through a fashion magazine.
"What does that mean?"
"She has gone on a company outing and will be back tomorrow."
"—You deceived me?"
I was surprised myself by how deep my tone was.
"I honestly told you she would be late."
"How's that honest!? I'm leaving," I declared , standing up and heading towards the entrance. Most of the irritation was at myself for readily taking her bait.
Suddenly, something soft enveloped my arm. Tsukimori had clasped it.
"...please, don't leave me alone. I'm frightened!"
Her begging attitude and the soft touch against my arm made me falter.
The unusual fragility she was showing me was more than enough to activate my protective instincts—even if it was a deliberate action of hers to seduce me.
But my rationality cooled down the overwhelming reality and kept me from making the wrong decision.
"Your charm doesn't work on me! Besides, that's not fair. I have not accepted going out with you."
Two teenagers alone under one roof — an alluring setting. Being a boy in his teens, I was naturally interested in what would happen in such a situation, all the more if the girl in question was Youko Tsukimori.
"I don't mind if it's you."
As expected, she tried to capture me with inviting eyes and sweet words.
Had I met Youko Tsukimori under any other circumstances, I would have stood no chance against her seduction.
"I feel honored, but I have no such intentions!"
However, unlike the Nonomiya in that hypothetical world, the real one bore up against her. Because, much more than I was hoping for an alluring development, I was scared.
It was wariness that sustained my rationality.
What was Youko Tsukimori scheming?
It was then that I felt that I had caught a glimpse of the true intention behind her request to date her.
Perhaps, Tsukimori didn't have in mind to get rid of me, but to get me under her control?
She was well aware of her own attractiveness and knew how to use it effectively. I had been able to observe that fact more than enough lately. So, perhaps she was trying to make me her faithful puppet of sorts? She could be sure that I would not leak her secret in that case, couldn't she?
Of course, provided that she really had noticed that I knew of and had the murder recipe.
Either way, I had to get out of there as fast as possible. Even if my assumptions were true and confirmed by Tsukimori at that, it was only a matter of time until I would give in to her.
Because her words may have been lies, but her attractiveness was a fact.
As things stood, I was going to fall victim to her venom. I knew for sure that as soon as that happened, the poison would spread slowly but surely and paralyze my will to resist.
I shook her off and hurried towards the entrance, but Tsukimori rushed after me in the same breath. This time she clung to me from behind, restraining me.
Her warmth, her softness, her entrancing fragrance blended into a charm deluding the senses and attacking me from behind.
"...It does not matter what you feel for me..."
Her soft breath touched the nape of my neck. I knew that I had to escape, but I couldn't move a muscle.
"...touch me... do whatever you want with me..."
Her delightful words entered my head through my eardrums and turned into paralyzing electrical signals flashing through my entire body. My poisoned legs had already lost the strength to resist a single high school girl.
She gently pushed me into the sofa, leaning against me. The lamp behind Tsukimori created a mystic contrast on her face. She placed her head on my shoulder and put her hands lightly on my chest—as if to feel my heartbeat. Her white, slender neck was exposed to me right by my chin.
While I was still bereft of speech, she whispered into my ear, "Please. I want you to."
It sounded to me like a saint's enigmatic absolution.
A moment later, she nibbled the defenseless nape of my neck.
The soft sensation of her tender red lips caused my shoulders to jump. I had never experienced such an impulse before, it was similar to tickling but still different.
My body was about to run out of control. In an attempt to push her away, I slid my hands between us and thrust towards the ceiling. Unwilling to be separated, she resisted and twisted her body. My resisting hands merely brushed against her soft breasts, stroked her smooth sides and lost themselves in blank space.
At that moment, Tsukimori uttered a suppressed moan and writhed, still straddling me.
It was smashing. My rationality was entirely blown away by her unexpectedly sensitive reaction.
Letting my instincts take over, I swapped places and sat astride her. I laid one hand on the white nape of her neck and traced her lush red lips with my fingers. I inhaled her intensive flowery scent, kissed her collarbone and put my knee between her thighs.
She reacted exquisitely to each of my actions. I was aware that the blood circulating in my veins was enraptured by pleasure.
Right now———Youko Tsukimori was under my control.
That feeling of elation was far beyond normal. Even I, the cool thinker by principle, would have loved screaming as my feelings told me.
While frantically suppressing the urge to rush, I kept on caressing Tsukimori. I wanted the pleasure to hold on for as long as possible.
However, I was suddenly stricken by a shock that made my heart skip a beat. I had noticed her unusual reaction.
Tsukimori blinked a few times with her eyes that in passion had lost focus.
"...I am?" she asked with gentle lip-movements, her voice full of heat.
She was unaware of it herself, but she was trembling all over.
Feelings of guilt that I had pushed aside as my rationality had gone out of the window suddenly sprung up in me like water.
"...we really shouldn't be doing this. Let's stop," I stated while raising my body.
Tsukimori's "tremor" appeared to me like "rejection".
I certainly didn't stop because I was a good person but, on the other hand, neither did I enjoy subjugating girls against their will for my own satisfaction.
I was frightened, plain and simple. Frightened of shouldering a sin against her that could not be amended.
She was still lying on the sofa, looking up at me with wondering eyes. Behind her rumpled uniform, I could see her bulging snow-white skin. I averted my gaze automatically.
"Why? Didn't I say it's fine?"
"But you are trembling."
"That's because of excitement!"
"I don't think so."
The next moment, Tsukimori said something I couldn't believe.
"It's my first time after all!"
"So I can't help it," she added.
I cast her off and stood up as if to retreat.
"Why?!" I shouted, channeling all my bewilderment into one word. That was the only thing I could do.
"Everyone has a first time," replied Tsukimori with girlishly pure eyes.
"But that's not how you go about it!"
"That's different for everyone."
"...do as you please as long as it's your own problem. But this time it's me that would have been your partner, you get that?"
"Yes, you are right, I don't know if I will be able to satisfy you because it's my first time...," she worried.
She had to be joking.
"Ah, but I'm positive that I will develop excellent skills the more we do it. You know that I'm a fast learner, right? Be it at school or at work."
However, Tsukimori looked dead serious.
"That's not the problem!!"
When was the last time I had become this agitated? I couldn't remember. Thank you very much for this valuable experience, Tsukimori.
"Why are you always so... so reckless!"
"I am surprised myself."
"Don't act so unconcerned!"
"Someone once said that girls in love are invincible; there might be more truth to it than I thought. After all I do feel capable of anything right now," she nodded approvingly.
"Please, don't only think about yourself..." I let out a grand sigh. "In the first place, what happened to the rumors about you? Haven't you gone out with numerous boys so far?"
It's not like I believed her offhandedly.
A girl like Tsukimori should have had countless opportunities to lose "it" in her life. Wasn't she just playing with me?
"...I don't want to tell you," she averted her gaze to the side.
"You can't say that after dragging me in like that, can you? I have the right to know."
"I don't care."
"Don't be such a child."
"I bet you see me as some kind of slut!"
Tsukimori pursed her lips.
She was now sounding queerly like a precocious little girl. Where did the bewitching girl that seduced me go?
"Fine! I won't ask anymore if you don't want to tell me."
I thought there was no use questioning her in that thickheaded state.
"...Do you really want me to tell you?"
"...Which is it now!"
Good heavens. As always she was hard to read.
Tsukimori took a deep breath and made up her mind.
"I'll be honest. I have gone out with several boys before."
"As I thought."
"Hey, that's not nice, you know. Let me assure you: I may have gone out with various boys, but not once have I given myself to anyone. I didn't even let them touch me like you have. Honestly."
"You want me to buy that?"
"They were all good and kind people and really loved me."
"...Good for you..."
"But every time something felt off. In some way I knew that none of them were my destined partner," she told me with slightly downcast eyes, wallowing in reminiscences.
"Then why me?"
"Because you seemed different from the others! In the beginning it was just a baseless intuition, of course. At first I wanted to go out with you without thinking too deeply, as I used to do with the other boys. Because getting someone to date me is simple."
"That sure doesn't sound like something someone my age would say. Come on, how old are you really?"
Tsukimori found my apathetic attitude funny, it seemed. She giggled with great amusement.
"But I had not dreamed that you would reject me."
"So sorry for not living up to your expectations."
"No, by no means! Thanks to that, I gained a sudden burst of enthusiasm. So the result is absolutely fine!"
"...That's how life goes, I guess. Never the way you want it to."
Tsukimori's triumphant joy had the opposite effect on my mood. She made me remember that whatever I did to her always ended up backfiring on me.
"Indeed... I wonder why things never work out the way you want them in life."
This time it was me who couldn't help laughing, seeing her say that with a solemn mien.
"If you of all people don't get your way, us commoners are stumped."
The worries of someone who had everything seemed incredibly ridiculous to me.
"You are all just overestimating me, really."
"But you deserve to be overestimated, from a neutral point of view."
"Why is it that I cannot make you mine, then?"
She squinted at my eyes as if to peek into my heart.
"...Who knows? It's a riddle even to me," I answered vaguely, looking away. For obvious reasons I could have never told her that it's because the murder recipe was on my mind.
"Call me whatever you like."
"But I like you anyway, Nonomiya-kun, even if you are cruel and mean to me," laughed Tsukimori while brushing her hair. It was a gorgeous demeanor. "How can I explain it...? It is just so enjoyable to talk with you."
She carefully chose her words, which made me realize that she was trying her utmost to convey her feelings precisely.
"You could say that we are... trying to outdo each other? Our conversations feel so exciting and enjoyable to me because they're unpredictable. I just can't talk enough with you."
Her words silenced me, and caused me to stare at her. I was struck by surprise that she was of the same mind as me.
Strong sympathy can change ridiculously easily into a sense of closeness.
Indeed, at that very instant, Youko Tsukimori became a special girl to me.
"When I imagined how stimulating every day would become if I went out with you, I realized that you had to be my destined partner. So I did not really need to hesitate. You are the one I deemed destined for me; I wanted you to have my first time."
To make matters worse, she looked even more attractive now that I had become conscious of her. I've heard subjectivity incorporates a function that applies a filter to the brain that makes you interpret things in your favor.
"I didn't know I was so bold."
"And I wish I didn't know that you were so sharp tongued."
I shrugged extensively for show. Of course, I was not at all composed. It was quite the contrary: I was disturbed. You could say that I had a hard time dealing with the radical change in my feelings.
I had previously regarded any situation objectively with the utmost effort in order to bear up against Tsukimori and her staggering presence. Otherwise I would have fallen victim to her charm like everyone else.
However, now that subjectivity had mixed into my view, I couldn't remain calm anymore. My awakened instincts told me to savor the defenseless fruit before my eyes.
This time I seriously had to leave or I would end up loathing myself.
"Don't you want to check?"
I heard Tsukimori's voice behind me when I was walking towards the living room door.
"—Whether it really would have been my first time or not."
I felt the urge to turn around, but I chose to remain on course.
She would have surely shown me a devilish smile that very much met my preference and ruined my newly gained determination.
"Please forget what happened today. I wasn't myself."
"I don't want to," she declared.
"It's in both our interests."
"It's a valuable memory of the 'destined partner' I finally found."
"I'm stunned that you can use that phrase so carelessly. Say that again in ten years."
"I am not using the word carelessly. Didn't you know that every girl is searching for her 'destined partner' from the moment she is born?"
"Well, my sympathies for all the trouble."
With that parting shot I opened the door. In that instant, I heard footsteps rushing towards me resounding on the flooring.
"Are you really leaving me?"
...No use using such lonely words.
"Even though I want you to stay so much?"
...No use using such pleading words.
"Well, I want to go home as fast as possible."
"You really are hard to deal with, Nonomiya-kun," she said, sighing.
I spontaneously turned around and glared at her. "You're the last person I want to hear that from!"
Tsukimori laughed heartily at seeing my unwilling attitude.
...Please, let me go already.
"Be seeing you."
Even though I intentionally stomped on the floor to express my bad temper, I happened to see her sad and weak wave goodbye. It would be a lie to say that I didn't feel anything while closing the front door.
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