OreShura: Volume 5 Chapter 4
#4: Masuzu, Hunting the Lovestruck
It was a certain morning just a short period of time before the end of summer vacation.
Even though it was a text message from my girlfriend, just looking at the subject alone made me want to trash it!
However, I reluctantly opened the message because the consequences of ignoring it would have been more terrifying.
What hunt? After I sent my response, I received another message.
I could smell the scent of danger from that response.
It looks like this girl was finally going to stain her hands with a criminal act. Was she planning to go about massacring couples indiscriminately?
I won't go along with it if it's something dangerous—I replied—
"Which one is it!?"
With a hint of gloominess in my voice, I threw a remark at the text message. State clearly whether you are actually crossing the line or not!
As I was thinking about how to reply, another message came before I could do anything.
She suddenly said something that Hime would say.
Since the direct attack didn't work, she went for a back-sided assault, huh? That probably showed how much she wanted me to go with her on this 「Lovestruck Hunt」.
Well, whichever way it was, I couldn't go against the will of my great "Girlfriend". And, she did say something pretty scary while we were arguing with Hime's big sister. I was originally planning to go study in the local library, but it seemed like I needed to change my plans.
Regarding the matter where I was kissed by Chiwa during our summer training camp, Masuzu had yet to cross-examine me on that—I wondered what she really thought about it.
I really couldn't predict what kind of actions she would take.
That was why I was worried.
"I just hope she doesn't go on a crazy rampage......"
Although we normally meet at the cafe in front of the station, today we decided to scrimp and chose a fast food restaurant instead. After all, we had used up quite a bit of our allowance at the training camp and whatnot. We had to be frugal.
However, that somehow turned out to be a bad idea—
As I looked at the crowd of people in the restaurant, not counting the line at the payment counter, I came to realize that I had erred in my judgement.
A 「Masuzu doughnut phenomenon」 had occurred.
What was the 'Masuzu doughnut phenomenon'? It was a way of describing how people put a 「strange distance」 away from the gorgeous looking yet seemingly hard-to-approach Masuzu, and form a circle around her. A white space had cleared a three-meter radius away from Masuzu, resembling the 'hole' of a doughnut, which was what led to the coining of that term. By moi.
"She's cute." "Beautiful." "Go talk to her." "No way, you go." I pushed through the crowd of curious onlookers and stepped into the hole of the doughnut.
"Eita, aren't you late?"
Masuzu, who was sitting uncomfortably, looked up at me with a sign of apparent relief.
Her hairstyle was different from usual.
Her trademark silver hair was tied with a white ribbon at the back. Masuzu, who normally appeared to be older, looked more like a high school girl. Her current hairstyle probably made her look younger.
Her outfit, also different from usual, was made up of a sleeveless one-piece dress and a pair of red mules. Usually preferring something comfortable, it was rare for Masuzu to wear something that revealed her shoulders and thighs in such an alluring way. I wonder what kind of change had come over her.
"Anyway, let's get out of here."
Masuzu stood up, and as if losing her sense, she entwined her arm around mine.
A murmuring of sighs arose from around us, and looks of resentment from the guys locked on to me.
"What are you up to?"
"Let's just get out of here. There are too many onlookers here."
Dragged by Masuzu by the arm, we exited the restaurant.
After walking for a while in the opposite direction of the ticket barriers of the station, we sat down on a bench along the riverbank by the roadside trees.
"We can talk more leisurely here."
"Yeah—But before that."
Masuzu, who was sitting beside me, suddenly brought her face close to me,
"Isn't there something you ought to tell me after seeing my appearance today?"
On saying that, she bent her body, and her largely open bosom was almost visible, aah, the base of her white bulges arrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
"W-well, nothing actually?"
I averted my gaze and coughed.
"Fuhn. Even when my Jojo-cute charm was making you so lightheaded."
"It didn't though. And what's Jojo-cute, aren't you being too liberal with your Japanese?"
Masuzu pouted with a hint of boredom.
"More importantly, what's up with that text message, about the 『Hunt on the Lovestruck』?"
"Yeah. First, look at this."
Masuzu took out a magazine from her tote bag, flipped to a page which was tagged and showed it to me.
"What's this? They even do features on good Rojou-Chuusharoadside parking spots?"
I initially thought this was from some antisocial magazine, but it actually turned out to be from 「Hanenoyama Walker」, a normal magazine covering information about the town.
"Rojou-ChuuRoadside-Kiss is short for 'Kissing by the Roadside'. In other words, it's referring to outdoor spots where you can kiss."
"Huuh......? Why would people kiss outside? Is that to show off to others?"
"It's to tell others that, the man who steals my red lips in front of others, lays bare his virginity."
"Wha, idiot... it's just that kind of event so it can't be helped right!"
And, it has nothing to do with virginity!
He doesn't lay it bare, don't be so disrespectful to the boyfriend hey you!
"It just means that, doesn't it? It's because it's more wild and hot to have others watch."
"I see. A beast huh."
There really were such terrible people. Did the morals of the folks in Hanenoyama town fall so much?
"As people who have a good amount of pride in our anti-love views, we can't allow such loose people to continue their atrocities. That's why Eita, you shall disrupt them."
You do it! Why are you making others do your dirty work?
"Just kidding. Let's shake hands and hunt together, shall we?"
At any rate, it was decided that I would be involved.
"I get what you mean. But how? I don't want to commit a crime."
"It'll be fine. We are just going to point our fingers and laugh at them. 'Oh my, these guys are kissing. How shameless!'. Even the lovestruck ones will be embarrassed and run away."
"......sounds like what elementary kids would do......"
I kind of felt that it would be just as embarrassing for us though.
"Well, if you die, I'll be with you."
"I don't want to die."
"Now, L-E-T-'S H-U-N-T! Otherwise, K-I-L-L Y-O-U!"
"I don't want to die, I said!?"
As she uttered her strange English (even though she had come back from a foreign country), Masuzu stood up and walked briskly.
For a moment, I was thinking of going home—but then I thought about the nightmares that I would have as the "boyfriend" if I saw Masuzu's name decorating the headlines of the news tomorrow.
In order to prevent her from losing her head and staining her hands from a criminal act, I had no choice but to follow along to keep an eye on her......
We came to the junction west of Hanenoyama Elementary School, one of the 「Roadside Kiss Spots」 as listed in the magazine.
Masuzu pointed to the stairs of a pedestrian bridge,
"It's likely that a crime will take place on top of that."
It was a place that hardly any people passed through, apart from elementary students commuting to school in the morning. But it was not totally nil, as there were times when a housewife buying things from a nearby supermarket would walk by. It seemed like a place where one could experience the thrill of 'being seen'.
"So, how do we stake this place out?"
Masuzu looked around, and then pointed at a sign, which was in the shape of a policeman beside the bridge.
"We shall hide behind that, and wait for foolish couples. When they start climbing the bridge, we will secretly follow behind. When they kiss, we'll cry 'Shameless'."
No matter how I looked at it, it was pretty childish.
Besides, the sign was a little too small for the both of us to completely hide ourselves behind it.
"Hey Eita, stick closer to me."
"Nah, it's fine. It's uncomfortably hot."
Masuzu glared at me with displeasure when I kept my distance,
"This is a hunting ground you know? It's either kill or be killed. Hot or cold aside, what if we get seen by our prey?"
She said it unsparingly.
I had no choice but to comply with Masuzu's wishes, however—
Why was her face so red?
Her fists were clenched.
Her feet were fidgety. It wasn't like Masuzu to be so unsettled.
Masuzu tried to act normal.
But it was weird.
Just now, we were just sticking shoulder to shoulder, but before I knew it, she was leaning against me, clinging on to me.
Additionally, her head rested on my shoulder, and her eyes were closed, absorbed.
Her head slid down and slowly got closer to my chest.
"Our prey's not coming."
Masuzu gave a small sigh. Her silver ponytail dangled before my eyes.
I frantically tried to change the topic to calm my thumping heart.
"Ah, but, you know. Speaking of pedestrian bridge, it reminds me. The summer vacation special episode of 'Punishment Extreme'."
"How Yasu-san managed to persuade the perpetrator who was going to jump off the pedestrian bridge with his tears! That heated scene really kept me on my chair. Although, I think he would have been alright if he just opened his parachute."
"Although despising crimes and not the people is just one of the many themes of 『Maguke』, this episode really emphasized that to the fullest. You could say it was one of the strongest plots this year, right?"
"—Hey, hold on a second!"
I grabbed Masuzu's shoulders as she was repeatedly rubbing her face against my chest.
"What in the world have you been doing!"
Masuzu immediately straightened herself up and sternly collected herself.
"I was concentrating my five senses to their utmost limits, attempting to detect the ｢spiritual energy｣ of the lovestruck."
"You're lying. You were totally saying things like ｢Mo-nyo｣."
"Yes, I was practicing my shouts for using Ripple Powers."
"Why are you practicing using Ripple!? Where do you see zombies!? 
"Also the more I train, the better the color changes." 
"Why are you mixing up your references!?"
Anyhow, I better keep my distance from Masuzu. Besides, there was a heatwave today in the 30's, so it was so hot it was unbearable.
Masuzu looked grumpy and she mumbled things like, ｢But I'm your girlfriend... But I'm your girlfriend... But I'm your girlfriend｣. Did she actually forget the goal that we started out with?
It's so exhausting to have a ｢girlfriend｣ with Jojo-cute charm.
About two hours later—
We continued our unproductive stake-out, but there was not a sign of any 「Roadside Kiss」 couples.
By the way, we did legitimately see a roadside parked car, but ten minutes later a police car came and gave it a parking ticket. While it's there, can't the police take a detour and stop this annoying girl beside me?
"We weren't able to HUNT in the end."
We sighed under the light of setting sun as we bought juice from the vending machines next to the pedestrian bridge.
"But isn't that a good thing? It means our town hasn't completely abandoned morals yet."
"No that's not enough. How is it okay if we didn't accomplish the original goals we started out with? What will happen to our self-respect as Anti-Love (lol) individuals?"
"Did you just add a (lol) to the end of that? Really? Really?"
This girl really was contradicting herself. I couldn't make any sense of it.
"So what are we going to do? Come back another day?"
Masuzu definitively shook her head back and forth.
"Instead, we'll perform a roadside kiss."
"Huh? What did you say? Come again?"
"Perform a roadside kiss."
"...M-Me and you."
Masuzu spoke very loudly,
"Natsukawa Masuzu and Kidou Eita w-will, on top of the pedestrian bridge… kiss!"
What kind of junk was this girl saying with her entire face blushing red…?
"It'd be too boring if we left without witnessing any roadside kisses. It'd be stupid."
"S-So at the very least—we'll be the ones to kiss to warm up the stage."
Honestly. Honestly. This really was Jien-Otsu!
"No thanks. I'm going home. Bye."
I tossed my empty can of Coca Cola into the trashcan and took a step forward.
Masuzu chased after me and walked by my side,
"But you even kissed with her."
She glared at me with eyes that looked like they were staring at her enemy… but why was she hugging onto my arm so tightly? Honestly, her actions didn't match with her words today at all.
"That wasn't on the roadside, and she was the one who initiated it. Did you see it?"
"I saw it alright. Your entire existence is so perverted, it's obscene. Before you know it, you'll get pregnant."
"No way you s-stupid—idiot!"
We fought like little kids on the way home.
Three days passed without any messages from Masuzu.
I was happy to be studying without any disturbances, but when I thought about how she'd retaliate once the new school semester starts, I started to feel depressed—
Just when I was eating cold soba for lunch at home, I received a text message, sweeping away all the feelings of happiness and depression.
She's finally broken!
Ever since the club trip, I felt like she's been out of control. But I had no idea that she had worsened to this extent. I profoundly felt the weight of responsibility as her ｢boyfriend｣.
Just as I was contemplating whether I should match her enthusiasm and respond with ｢Mo-nyo~?｣, I received a follow-up message soon afterwards.
It was completely different from earlier, and the content was very serious.
How the hell could you make such a different a message from typos? It was way above the level to merely be considered a typo.
"That being said, karaoke…"
Such an unexpected invitation.
Did that girl like karaoke? But she didn't look like the type of person who liked singing.
When I thought about it carefully, Masuzu and I have been dating for three months. If you included the amount of time before we agreed to be a fake couple, it was barely five months. It wasn't strange for us not to know each other's interests.
"...No, wait a moment."
Perhaps her real plan was something like ｢Hunting the Lovestruck｣ from several days ago.
Karaoke was also a place people went for dates, and if we went in the afternoon during the summer, there would certainly be at least a few couples there. Don't tell me she planned to massacre those people…?
Just then that cursed text message ringtone sounded—
It was pretty ordinary for Masuzu to be terrifying, but this time I was struck with a different kind of terror.
So basically, the point was I had to respond with a YES? Why did she have to measure the time and send it back to me? How much ill will did she have for her fake boyfriend? It simply didn't make sense!
If I had responded NO this time, I couldn't imagine what kind of actions she would have taken.
It looked like arguing was not an option today, too.
"I'm beginning to feel like she's starting to turn into a very troubling little sister."
This was in contrast with Chiwa's declaration that she'd stop being a ｢family member｣.
Perhaps girlfriends tended to walk on opposite roads than childhood friends.
Having learned my lesson from last time, today we met at the usual coffee shop.
I came a full five minutes earlier than our appointed time, but Masuzu was there already. Now that I thought about it, it was always like that. She's never arrived later than I did.
"What it is, Eita? Why don't you come and sit right here?"
Masuzu tilted her head sideways with a questioning look as she held a coffee cup.
Like usual, she was monopolizing all of the attention inside the shop. Including the male and female restaurant employees, there wasn't anyone who didn't steal glances at Masuzu from time to time.
However, today's stares were a different kind than usual.
"...Why are you wearing that kind of clothes?"
Masuzu looked at me with a surprised expression and then glanced back at her own clothes.
"What's so weird about this outfit?"
"Well, you can't quite call it weird…"
It was a formal evening gown.
Not the fluffy and wavy type. Rather, it was a long dress with a sleek design. It bared her glossy shoulders and revealed rather dangerous curves near her stomach. Quite incredibly, it carried an extremely graceful aura. Even the silver color of the dress was high-class, which shimmered with a dazzling brilliance even under the cheap lighting of the cafe. It was woven almost like real silver.
Though, Masuzu's silver hair was the most dazzling—
"...Hey, are you going to sit?"
Masuzu looked like she was hugging herself, her cheeks red.
Perhaps it was because I had unintentionally started staring at her.
I shook my head substantially and sat opposite of Masuzu.
"Which party were you planning on attending, dressed up like that?"
"Ah, my goal is to be the number one warrior."
"Not a fighting party!  I'm talking about the dancing one! I'm asking if you're going to a ballroom party."
"What are you talking about? I said we're going to karaoke."
This didn't fit at all.
"No one wears evening gowns to karaoke."
"Why? I thought that since we're going to a public singing venue, this kind of attire should be expected."
Masuzu looked blank.
It looked like she wasn't deliberately acting stupid for once. Rather, she really didn't understand this time.
"Could it be that you've never gone to karaoke before?"
"Mh, you could say so."
"Is this very normal in the country you used to live in?"
"We didn't have a karaoke culture. Instead, when we entertained guests, we brought them to operas or concerts."
Until three months ago, Masuzu's lived outside of Japan since she was nine years old.
Nine years old would be third grade, which was before the age most went to karaoke. Even I didn't go to karaoke until I was in fifth grade, when Chiwa's dad brought us for the first time.
"Do you know what the karaoke place is like?"
"Yes. It's a place where one is shut up in a private room with one's intimate lover, in which they pleasure themselves with drinks and food while publicly singing and sharing love."
"That's about righ—wait a second, what was that last thing? Sharing love?"
"Chestnuts three years, persimmons eight years."
What kind of deceptive ideas were those? That being said, as someone who grew up outside of Japan, how did she know something like that?
Anyways, it made me feel a little relieved now that I knew we weren't trying to ｢hunt the lovestruck｣ this time.
"But, what made you suddenly want to go to karaoke?"
When Masuzu heard this, she took out a ticket from her purse with a very pleased expression on her face. It was a discount voucher for a karaoke box a couple minutes away from here by walking.
"Woah, a 30% discount? Not bad."
"Right? This was with a flier in the paper this morning, so I figured we'd just go."
That was such a commoner's way of thinking, it clashed with the outfit she was currently wearing at MAX levels.
"Yeah, after all, seventy percent is pretty good for a high school student—"
"...That's not the point…"
I ignored Masuzu who continued to whisper things, and started moving forward.
The front desk of the karaoke store had a lot of students.
Middle school students, high school students, and college students filled the place with a mood like they wanted to have fun straight until the end of summer and reality flushes everything out. It was quite dangerous. For a elitist person like me, I was afraid of suffocating from it.
"We'll have to wait an hour for an empty room. Want to go somewhere else?"
"Nah, we rarely come anyways, so let's just wait."
There were a lot of people similarly waiting for empty rooms on the couches in the reception area.
Because of Masuzu's outfit, we tried to sit in a relatively inconspicuous corner, but—
"Hey? Is that Kidou-kun?"
"Natsukawa-san as well~ Hello!
The two people who called out to us were Sakagami-san and Akano Mei-san from our class.
Sakagami-san was the little brother of Sakagami-senpai who Chiwa once beat up during the ｢Popularity Fight｣.
Akano Mei-san was a girl who had many friends and good relationships with everyone. You could say she had a pretty close relationship with Chiwa.
"H-Heyyy, what a coincidence."
I quite awkwardly responded while I tried to confirm if there was anyone else with them. What was with these two? Were they dating? Wait, but friends also went to karaoke together too, right? I wasn't very familiar with what was the norm nowadays.
As for Masuzu, she quietly said ｢Hello｣ rather gloomily. Afterwards, she just lowered her head.
Normally, Masuzu would switch to ｢interacting with strangers mode｣, give a perfect smile, and respond suavely and thoughtfully.
"Haha, it's quite a surprise—you two don't give the impression that you're the type for coming to this kind of place—"
"Hahaha, w-what kind of type is that? Isn't that rather impolite to the most famous couple in our school?"
Sakagami-san and Akano-san sat down on a nearby sofa and started chatting.
"Natsukawa-san's wearing such a beautiful dress—is that an evening gown?"
"It looks like the rumor that she's a rich ojou-sama is true—heey, how much did that outfit cost?"
"Aren't you an idiot!? You don't normally ask those things—"
"It doesn't hurt to just ask once—"
They seemed rather incompatible.
Why did this conversation give vibes like they were ｢making cutting remarks about our flaws｣ ? It wasn't like they were bad people.
After a little while, Sakagami's name was broadcast over the intercom.
"Excuse us, but we'll be going in first—"
The two of them gave a small wave and disappeared into a room.
I gave a relieved sigh. However, Masuzu pinched the back of my hand quite forcefully.
"Ouch——————that hurts! Masuzu-san what the hell are you doing?!"
"Why were you watching that girl the whole time?"
Her eyes were inflamed as she peered at my face. How terrifying!
"What were you thinking? I was sitting right next to you! Don't tell me you think that girl is more beautiful."
"O-Of course I wasn't looking Akano-san the whole time! Sakagami-san was right next to her!"
"Huh? Sakagami-san was also there?"
".......You didn't notice?"
Sakagami-san was talking about her, and he even greeted Masuzu. Why didn't she notice?
Masuzu's expression was totally awful as she stared at me,
"Hey, tell me clearly. Is Akano Mei-san more beautiful than me? Hey!"
"...and if I say YES?"
"First, I'll stab out your eyes."
"There's more after that?!"
Even though the air conditioning was on, I had already started sweating.
I didn't have a choice. Looks like I had to tell the truth.
"M-Masuzu-san is more beautiful."
"By a significant margin?"
"Yes, by a significant margin…"
When Masuzu heard this, she suddenly became bashful and shy. She traced a 「の」on the sofa as she spoke,
"I h-hate it! Honestly Eita, don't say such lovestruck words."
"If you're going to be embarrassed, then don't ask me to say that from the start! Besides, you're the one who added the significant margin part yourself—!"
My shout was met by an echo that overlapped with my voice. At nearly the same time, my name had been called over the intercom.
After we were led into a private room, we ordered drinks and snacks. Then, I sank deeply into the sofa.
I had no idea waiting for karaoke could be so tiring. Before we even started singing, I had been bombarded non-stop with maliciousness and my stomach hurt because of my ｢girlfriend's｣ jealousy.
As for Masuzu, she energetically fiddled with the buttons of the remote control while she sat next to me. It looked like they didn't use songbooks here. Everything was completely electronicized, so songs were input through the controller.
"How do you use this device?"
"Uh—can't you just randomly push it?"
Masuzu spoke as she lightly used her finger to poke my left cheek.
"W-What the hell are you doing?"
"Well you said I could push it randomly."
"I said you could press the controller!"
Enough! Give it to me! I grabbed the remote from her.
"I'll operate it. Tell me the name of a song."
Masuzu stared blankly when she heard this,
"Huh? Song? Who wants to sing?"
"You of course. Didn't you want to sing karaoke?"
"Yeah, but I was lying."
The astonishing fact had just been revealed.
W-What was the point for all of today's troublesome work...?
"What do you mean by you're lying!? I'd sue you regardless of the circumstances!"
Masuzu's tone was completely calm as she responded.
"If you want my honest reply, I didn't really want to ｢sing karaoke｣. Rather, I wanted to ｢go to karaoke｣."
What did that mean? Wasn't that the same thing?
"If you go to a karaoke bar but don't sing karaoke, what else are you supposed to do?"
Well, I have heard of people using it as a conference room or as a hotel for staying the whole night. However, I didn't think this girl would think of it for those kinds of applications.
Masuzu's articulate words stopped again and she leaned against me as she peered at my face.
Her expression was incomparably serious and tense.
How did that make sense…?
What did she so desperately want in a karaoke box that would make her act like this?
"Recently... I've… always…"
I could hear Masuzu's heart racing with her chest pressed so close. Like this, she'd also be able to hear my heart beat.
I held my breath as I waited for Masuzu to continue.
"Recently… I've… haven't been able to mo-nyo…"
I gazed into the depths of her blue eyes, trying to interpret the meaning of her words.
I asked her,
I asked again,
She nodded and said,
I flipped out,
What the hell was with this giiiiiiirlllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!?
Now I understood why that text message she sent was so terrifying!
All along, it was a ｢clinical deficiency of Mo-nyo｣! So basically that was her motive from the start?!
"The condition of my body falls apart if I don't perform mo-nyo at least once a week."
My body was the one that would fall apart like this!
"Because you never let me do it in the past, and since I thought you'd find it embarrassing, I lured you to private places where no one else would see us, Eita."
"Your existence seriously is such an annoyance for others!"
"...You won't let me do it?"
Masuzu gazed up at me with eyes like an abandoned puppy.
They were heartfelt eyes that appealed to a man's—no, more accurately, humanity's, conscience.
I felt extremely embarrassed and averted my eyes,
"That being said, why me? Aren't there others you can do it with?"
"How could there be anyone else?"
She returned the question.
"I don't have friends or lovers. I don't even have parents; the only thing I have… is my accomplice."
I stared at my ｢girlfriend｣ for a while.
Lively singing noises reverberated from other nearby rooms, and it made me feel empty as if I was living in another world. This was a space that only Masuzu and I shared. It was like we were drifting away in a separate dimension.
Ordinary high school students could be expected to talk about love, but for us it was impossible.
We could only make a shoddy and forged imitation.
"...I get it."
I sighed and spoke,
"I'll lend you my chest, so rub it however you like."
Masuzu had an innocent and honest smile like a child.
Though it did seem to circulate a slightly serious aura.
But if all she wanted to do was ｢mo-nyo｣...
"Well, then I'll be helping myself."
When I spread apart my arms and opened up my chest, Masuzu immediately buried her head inside with delight.
I held this soft tender body that pressed up against me.
The texture of her glossy dress fabric rustling against my shirt felt really good, but I could also feel the full weight of those two amply plump and swelling objects squeezing under there—but I didn't react. Masuzu was so carried away!
Accompanied with minute sighs, she repeatedly rubbed her face against my chest many times.
This was the so-called ｢mo-nyo｣.
I had no idea how it had gotten that name, but the instinctive feel for it was rather fitting.
Aah, even so, it was so soft...
"Here's your order of Oolong tea and Coca Cola. Sorry for the wait—"
In the split second after the waitress opened the door, Masuzu was the first to react.
Like a thunderbolt ignoring the limitations of speed, she sent me flying with a shove and immediately picked up a remote. She spoke loudly, ｢I wonder what we should sing next, hehahaha｣.
However, I didn't lose to her. Although the momentum was ferocious enough to send me rolling on the ground, I immediately recovered myself and sat up.
"That's weird? The microphone? Where'd the microphone go?
"Excuse me, miss and mister?"
"MY NAME IS MIKE DAIVIS! Yeah! Hahaha!"
The waitress had been standing at the entrance carrying a plate of drinks the entire time.
"OH EITO-KUN, IT SEAMS LAIK THE DRINKS WHEE ORDERED CAME!"
"OH REALY, I DIDN'T NOTISE AT ALL HAHA."
We took the plate of drinks while acting like robots and watched the shocked waitress with a smile.
When the door closed, the two of us practically sighed at the same time.
"Looks like we barely passed that one."
"That was dangerous… if we were seen at a time like that, our names would have disgracefully gone down in history."
After all, since we had the self-esteem as anti-love individuals, we couldn't allow ourselves to be caught in an act that would be misunderstood as head-over-heels in love.
Masuzu took a gulp of Oolong tea.
"I feel quite disappointed."
"Was that mo-nyo enough?"
"Yes… although I feel quite dissatisfied, I'm about four fifths full."
"Does that even go to your stomach…?"
It gets absorbed after digestion into nutrients? What kind of digestive tract did this girl have?
"Well, let's sing karaoke normally for the rest of the time."
"Let's do that."
And just like that, we sang for the remainder of the time.
At first, Masuzu didn't want to sing because ｢she didn't know any songs｣, but after realizing there were nursery rhymes on the playlist, she slowly started to sing as well. It looks like she didn't actually hate singing.
"Hey, can you put ｢Inunoomawarisan｣ on next?" 
"Wan wan wan wan?" 
"Wan wan wan wan ♪"
Woahh, Masuzu-san was just like an angel!
If she could always stay cute like this, it'd be great. Though, this probably wasn't something I should say to my ｢girlfriend｣. Could you consider this an impossible wish?
The happy hour flew by and soon it was time to return the private room. But we felt like we hadn't sung enough. Should we extend it? Leave? We discussed it between ourselves—
"Masuzu, I suddenly realized something."
"Hehe do you want to order something before we extend our time?"
"Not that… but don't you feel like we've almost become like normal lovers?"
We were sitting in a private room where there was no one else.
So basically there was no reason to go out of our way to act as a couple.
It was an ordinary date.
Masuzu was stunned, and she stared at me for a while.
She suddenly slapped the table with some force, causing the empty glasses to jump.
"H-How the heck did that happen?! Without realizing it, we actually became so… lovestruck!"
"But it was just you."
"We can't, Eita! This is just like… when you become a freak even though you're trying to fight freaks! While battling lovestruck beings like Harusaki-san and them all, we've unconsciously corroded."
I had only wanted to try saying what was on my mind, but I didn't realize Masuzu would take this kind of thing so seriously.
Masuzu cleverly stood up and returned the microphone and remote control on the battery charger.
"We better keep our distance for the time being. The next time we meet will be in prison."
"Why?! Can't we meet again while we're free?!"
"Oh, my bad. The next time we meet will be at school."
How could you misspeak something like that?
That being said, there was only about a week left of vacation, so it made sense?
"Text messages are forbidden, and of course phone calls as well. Is that alright? Eita, even though I know you really want to hear my voice, you'll have to show restraint. Show some restraint, okay?"
Let's talk about her voice later, but I still kind of wanted to hear another nursery rhyme from Masuzu...
The next day after the karaoke incident—
The cursed text message ringtone that I wasn't supposed to hear until the next semester promptly rang in my room.
"What's going on…?"
I put down the english translation problems I currently working on and opened my cellphone.
I even thought it would be something urgent—
"What do you mean by, 'by now'? Hasn't only one day passed since yesterday?"
Furthermore, when I said goodbye to that girl yesterday, it was seven o'clock in the evening. So in other words, not even twenty four hours have passed. How was I supposed to be lonely?
I ignored the message and continued studying, but after a while the cursed melody beeped once again.
What was the point of this text message?
I couldn't understand what she was trying to express. All I could sense was an indescribable arrogant attitude.
Compared to this, this last few days before the end of the summer vacation was much more important. If you study and do your work well, this can have a major impact on your grades the next semester. Even if I was number one at Hane High, I wasn't impressive at all compared to everyone else who was applying for medical school. I had to study hard in order to make it.
But within twenty minutes, another message came.
"Huh? But I'm not?"
Besides, we'll meet each other in a couple days at school. Right now, I wanted to concentrate my mind on studying.
In the time it took for me to put down my cell phone and pick up my mechanical pencil, another one came.
"Arghhh, this girl so annoying!"
That was supposed to be the last one! If she doesn't understand she has to finish the things she starts, honestly it'll perpetually be in disarray!
Even with my emotions riled up like this, I still couldn't reply! I threw my phone onto my bed. At least wait for me to finish this problem set. Before that, I won't look.
My cellphone continuously received deadly cursed text messages, but I cold-heartedly ignored them all.
—About an hour later.
Finally at the end of a set, I closed my notebook and relaxed the muscles in my shoulders.
"Let's take a look… how is Masuzu-san?"
I opened my mail inbox and found a whole string of consecutive text messages from my ｢girlfriend｣.
"...Why does she seem happier than I imagined…?"
Even though her message was so upsetting, for some reason her texting seemed so indescribably full of energy?
Just then, the newest message arrived.
"That's too sudden, isn't it?!"
Practically confirming the content of the text message, the electric doorbell of my house started buzzing non-stop like a monsoon.
Simultaneously, another message came.
"Okay I get it, I'm coming! I'm opening the door now!"
I stretched my lungs and shouted with a voice that could even be heard from outside. Then I ran down the stairs and rushed for the door.
When I opened the door—
"You're so mean, Eita."
Tears were emerging from Natsukawa Masuzu's pale blue pupils. Her silhouette masked the overpowering glare of the setting sun as she stood outside the door.
"Didn't you say 'arrivederci'?"
"You're so mean."
"Didn't you say we weren't going to meet until the new semester?"
"You're so mean, so mean, so mean…"
Masuzu barely forced those words out with great difficulty. Then, she jumped into my open arms.
"Eita, remember this. I'm your girlfriend."
"I'm a girlfriend that gives you headaches."
"Why do you think that is!?"
If you were aware of it yourself, then do something about it!
"Yes, I'm the type of girl who can't do anything if I don't have you. That's why—please don't look away from me right now, please."
I comforted Masuzu's back to calm her down, and I distinctly felt the changes in my ｢girlfriend｣.
Right now, this Masuzu couldn't tell the difference between real or fake. Ever since that time I confessed to her on that stage, she's gone out of control. The fake acting and real actions were too much to handle, and she couldn't tell them apart anymore.
As for me… it was the same.
Like right now, as I hugged Masuzu's body, if I wasn't careful, I'd mistake her as a real girlfriend.
...but, we were still fake merchandise.
If we wanted to become real, we still needed to settle everything about the Chuuni notebook and ｢Jien-Otsu｣.
But that was already impossible.
Chiwa, Hime, and Fuuyumi, as well as Kaoru, Mana, Saeko-san, and even those others at school were involved with us. Our lie was no longer just our own private problem. Until the day we graduate and everything resets, we could only maintain this lie.
Just then, Masuzu suddenly raised her head.
Still hugging me, her eyes were fixated upwards towards the left.
Upwards to the left was the second floor of the Harusaki's house.
Chiwa's room was on the second floor.
And beside the window—there was the shadow of Chiwa with her hair down.
Masuzu maintained her position hugging me.
Chiwa maintained her posture at the window, slightly leaning forward.
They didn't say a word to each other or have any changes in expression. They only met with their eyes.
Like this, I was frozen in between these two girls.
I was helpless.
No matter what I said, I'd be stepping on a landmine.
Even if I didn't say anything, I still gave a morbid laugh.
Cold sweat started dripping.
Even my tears… I think I'm going to cry.
There's too much mayhem between my girlfriend and childhood friend!
Translator notes and references
- Masuzu's name (真涼): 真 means "true", 涼 means "refreshing".
- Maguke (Punishment Extreme): A fictional TV show mentioned in earlier volumes
- Ripple is a JOJO reference, previously alluded to a lot in the series.
- Zombies are a kind of subordinate of Dio, a major antagonist in JOJO
- Don't know what this is a reference to.
- 30'C = 86'F
- They're homophones in Japanese. They both sound like "butoukai".
- This proverb means that everything takes time before results can be had (presumably because those are the number of years before those trees bear fruit). The front half the proverb sounds the same as "sharing love".
- The song if you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrqVkdGHJZs
- Dog sound effects in Japan
- Stand: JoJo reference
- In English
- Italian for goodbye. It's also a reference to a catch phrase of a certain character in JOJO
- In English
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