Owari no Chronicle:Volume14 Chapter 16

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Chapter 16: Wiping Away Unease[edit]

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There is only one way

It is neither awkward nor skillful

All you must do is not let go


Sayama thought the novel was good.

That was different from calling it enjoyable.

Feeling sad or angry were not exactly enjoyable things.

Those feelings and others it gave him were what led him to call it good.

He read it in the library, in the hallway, in the classroom, in the emergency exit landing, in the empty cafeteria, and pretty much anywhere.

He even read it while walking around outside.

If he had been in a train, he would likely have read it without holding onto the hanging strap and without paying any attention to the scenery around him. He would have leaned forward when he was supposed to focus, he would have grown angry when he was supposed to feel anger, and he would have laughed despite the people around him when he was supposed to laugh.

It was that kind of good novel.

He read through it carefully.

This was Shinjou’s novel and it was what she had left with him, but those thoughts did not even enter his head.

He tidily read through it while only flipping back to check on the foreshadowing.

Sayama was the type to read just about anything, but that was why he had a certain rule.

I can only read this book for the first time once.

It was a simple fact. Everyone could only read any book for the first time just once.

Because he would read just about anything, Sayama felt he could never forget what it meant to read something for the first time.

He could not casually skim through it.

However, a good book still made the reader want to read through it as quickly as possible.

That was the kind of novel this was.

It was the story of a boy negotiating with eleven worlds and guiding them to a new world.

The protagonist boy had an awfully strange personality. He was disagreeable and he would suddenly grow perverted or insane, so Sayama could not help but wonder what was wrong with his brain. He especially thought the protagonist boy went too far when he thrice pulled on one of the heroine’s body parts in the bath.

But this must be well written. For some reason, it is really easy to identify with him!

The heroine was clearly Shinjou herself.

Then was the protagonist modeled after Sayama?

I feel like she gave me some horrible characteristics here.

But that likely showed how comfortable she was with him.

He could feel a connection to her even in those subtle facts, so he gave a satisfied sigh.

It was an interesting story.

Unable to contain his emotions any longer, Sayama read what Shinjou had created.

This was what she had made.

If it was something that only she could have made…

Then you could call this a part of her. No…

If the novel contained many things, including what had happened when they met and what had happened afterwards…

“Could you call this another version of her?”

It had no physical body, but it contained the will that had moved her body and produced her words.

So Sayama responded in kind.

He conversed with the will inside the book.

There was nothing strange about it. There was a will contained inside the book, so it would have been even stranger had he stayed silent and still when that will moved him to emotion. He would not gain anything by holding back.

Shinjou had often spoken to herself and smiled while playing video games.

She had moved the controller and her body as one, and when her character died…

“Ahhhh!”

Or when she won…

“Yes!”

And when she got worked up…

“Achohhh!!”

When he thought about it, he had a feeling she was always shouting, but that was cute too. When she grew especially focused and got careless with the hem of her shirt, her cuteness would double and create a heat island in his heart.

Splendid.

Sayama read the novel as he recalled that.

Sometimes, an interesting turn-of-events would surprise him.

“Ha ha. I never thought of that.”

Sometimes, he would get lost in thought.

“Hm… That was a good question.”

Sometimes, those thoughts would all be cleared away.

“How thrilling!”

Sometimes, he would feel sadness or joy.

“Ahh, what a good story.”

For him, reading through the words and turning the pages was not a means of finishing the book. He was placing himself on an equal level with the book.

Books required someone to create them. They could not be planted in the ground to make them grow on their own.

Sayama distinctly sensed Shinjou’s presence in the written words and what they showed him.

He felt like she was holding his hand without letting go.

She squeezed his hand to tell him she was there, but she did not squeeze too hard.

What she wanted to tell him was written there.

“I…”

He read it.


She spoke to him.

“Will you always be by my side?”

“Yes, I promise. I will always be by your side.”

She breathed a sigh of relief at his words.

And that seemed to be why he asked her about it.

“Why did you just sigh in relief?”

“Eh?” she responded.

After a pause, she realized what the question meant.

“Oh. I was just thinking how happy I am that you promised that.”

She smiled.

“Even if we’re separated or alone, I’ll never be unhappy because I know someone promised me that.”

“Really?”

“Really. If there’s someone who promised me that, then even when I’m alone…I know I’m the one who can always be with that person.” She bent her eyes in a smile as she answered. “I wish someone would have told me this when I was alone so long ago. I wish someone would have told me that, even though I was alone at the time, I would find someone I could be with and that only I could be with.”

She then asked him something.

“Hey, will you be with me forever?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Then,” she asked. “Will you…always be happy, too?”


Sayama finished reading the novel.

Up ahead, he saw a dark hallway and that hallway’s wall.

There was a steel door there. It contained the number of their room.

He reached for the knob and found it was locked.

He held the book in one hand, the key in the other, and opened the door.

The door-shaped rectangle of darkness revealed an empty room, but…

“Yes,” he said. “I promised I would always be with you.”

He squeezed the novel he held in one arm.

He breathed in.

“I am back, Shinjou-kun. Back to our home.”

He then entered the empty room and silently yet strongly closed the door.


Sayama observed the dorm room.

It was dark. The only light was the moonlight, so the window shined with a dark bluish light.

The desk was the same as when he had left the day before.

He looked to the right wall, but there was no sign of the closet having been opened.

He looked to the bed on the left…

“—————”

No one was sleeping on Shinjou’s bed.

The blanket was untouched after the bed had been made.

But he approached her bed and placed Baku on the blanket.

When he set Shinjou’s novel next to the pillow, he felt like she was actually there.

He pressed his face into the bed and sniffed at the surface like a dog.

He lay there motionless for about three minutes before slowly getting up.

He did not bother fixing his disheveled hair.

“Anymore would be a waste. …I need to seal it up to preserve it as is. Then I need to have the international UCATs arrange to register it as a World Heritage Site.”

For the time being, he sat courteously on the floor.

“This is quite the tea ceremony.”

He bowed and got back up.

He stood up, tossed his coat on the desk by the window, and removed his vest.

He took off his shoes, picked Baku up from the bed, and placed him on the desk.

“How much energy will I have after getting some sleep?”

He was worried yet a little hopeful as he climbed the ladder toward his own bed.

As soon as his head rose to the same level as his bed, he found a butt.


There was a butt in front of him.

To be classier, it was a derrière and it was not wearing any underwear.

“Is this…?”

It was lying on its side and split in two.

Calm down, he told himself.

You just read Shinjou-kun’s novel and your heart was shifting from depression to excitement. The blood must be rushing to the right side of your brain.

This is most likely a hallucination.

No.

I would not be hallucinating, he decided.

“Then is the butt god thanking me for my devotion to the butt spirit?”

That would mean this is not an imaginary hallucination! It is the astral body of the butt god!

Touching a spirit required great mental strength, so Sayama checked on his remaining MP.

It is at four digits, so I have enough to take a major hit!

Without thinking, he clenched his left fist and shook it up and down, but then he realized something.

The butt had legs and the bottom of a shirt rested at the top.

“…?”

He could tell the owner of the butt had turned in their sleep, sticking their hips out from below the blanket.

Some clothing was folded up by the pillow, but it appeared to be a hospital gown.

That could only mean one thing.

“Is the butt god ill?”

Baku frantically shook his head on the desk, but Sayama ignored him.

That was when the curves bent before his eyes.

“Nn…”

With a nasal groan, the body squirmed.

It curled up to hide within the blanket, but it was too sleepy to actually pull the blanket over its hips.

As a result, the butt gently poked out toward Sayama.

He really, really wanted to touch it, but he shook his head.

“How could I even think of touching the butt god out of mere curiosity or idle interest?”

“Nnah…”

The body squirmed again and the two round pieces of flesh bent a little more.

So out of mere curiosity and idle interest, Sayama reached out and vocalized his action.

“Touch.”

“Waaaaaaahhh!?”

The blanket shot up and the person underneath bent backwards.

Their head rushed toward the bookshelf by the head of the bed, the books toppled over, and the suit hanging from the ceiling was knocked down on top of the person.

“Wh-wh-what!? What!? A monster!? A super monster!? Or an airstrike!?”

Sayama saw who frantically dug themselves out from the pile of books and the suit.

“Shinjou…-kun?”


Sayama called out to her, but she was too panicked to notice.

Her eyes must not have adjusted to the dark because she frantically looked around.

“A-a molester!? O-or what? What? …The enemy!?”

Perhaps for self-defense, she pulled cutting charms from somewhere and held one in either hand.

Sayama had difficulty grasping the situation.

Why?

Japanese UCAT had been destroyed.

So why was Shinjou here?

Was this a hallucination? Except the sensation when he touched her had been real.

Then what was going on?

He thought about it but found no answer.

He looked to Shinjou who was in a complete panic.

He smiled and told her to calm down.

“Ha ha ha. Calm down.”

She raised her head in surprise and looked left and right with her unadjusted eyes.

“Wh-where!? Where are you!?”

Sayama nodded at her question and spread his arms invitingly on the ladder.

“I am right here, Shinjou-kun!”

“There you are!!”

A horizontal line of a cutting concept silently flew toward him.

He quickly removed his feet from the ladder, fell three rungs down, and let the cutting power sweep by above him.

The thick curtains to the two-level closet behind him were easily cut. That one strike would have easily beheaded him.

Then he heard Shinjou from the bed above.

“I missed!? Th-then once more! Once morrrre! Do your best, power of the headhunters!

“W-wait! Stop acting like some strange leader and calm down, Shinjou-kun!”

Sayama turned on the lights.

He heard a cry and the creaking of someone squirming on the bed, so he sighed.

After settling his feelings, he climbed the ladder.

He once more found the girl surrounded by a suit and books on the bed.

“Shinjou-kun?”

He saw Shinjou holding her unbuttoned shirt to her chest and between the legs.

She raised her knees and frowned, but she seemed to have noticed him.

“Sayama…-kun?”

They then spoke in unison.

“What is going on?”

After a while, they both reached the same conclusion.

“We need to calm down.”

They both nodded at once and lowered their shoulders.

Sayama climbed onto the bed and sat in front of Shinjou. The suit and books were scattered around them, but this was no time to worry about that.

He simply wanted to determine whether the person in front of him was real or not.

“Shinjou-kun, may I touch you?”

“That was sudden. Are you okay?”

“Ha ha ha. A quick touch was nowhere near enough. I want to touch you more.”

“You’re not okay at all!!”

She got mad, but this was the usual pattern.

So…

“What does this mean?” he asked.

Shinjou tilted her head.

“That’s what I want to know.”

She tilted her head even more.

“What happened to the battle with Mikoku-san? And I was in the schoolyard, so why…?”

With that, she seemed to realize where she was.

“Huh?”

She brought a hand to her forehead and glanced toward Sayama.

“Why…am I here?”

He did not answer that question.

He had no way of knowing the answer.

But he gave into the fact that she knew she was here.

He placed his knees down in front of him, embraced Shinjou as she turned around, and fell onto the bed with her.

“Ah.”

He simply gave her a deep, deep embrace.

He did not let go. He did not loosen his grip. He felt like she would leave him if he did, so he held her tightly in his arms.

She shrank down in his arms and his chest, she briefly breathed in, and she relaxed.

“U-um…Sayama-kun? I’m cold.”

Nevertheless, the warmth he felt from her seemed more important.

He lifted his head and placed his arms into her shirt and along her sides.

He embraced her slender back.

An “ah” escaped her lips, so he sealed them with his own.

“Nnah…. S-Sayama-kun. W-wait, um…”

Sayama did not feel sorry for what he had done. He only felt thankful for her presence and he confirmed that presence with the things only he could do to her.

His arms embraced her flesh, so he placed his lips on hers, touched her with his tongue, and pressed his neck and cheek against her.

When he removed his lips from hers, she let out a breath and went limp.

He saw her flushed cheeks, her unresisting arms, and her body unhidden by her partially-removed clothing.

Her expression was filled with confusion and joy.

“Wh-what happened? Were you really worried about me?”

“No.” Sayama shook his head as she lowered the ends of her eyebrows. “I was just about to conclude that I needed to think of a next step for our relationship.”

“You mean…?”

“To put it softly, I will express it with my voice. I would use my imagination to go ‘nwah’ or use pictures to go ‘fnh’.”

“That’s a pretty awful way of putting it softly.”

But Shinjou seemed to have understood what he meant.

“I see,” she said while curling up and nodding. “So that dream was real.”

“Dream?”

“Yes, it was a strange dream…with a strange old man.”

She suddenly laughed bitterly.

“Looking back, that was your grandfather and mother. They looked just like they did in the pictures and those dreams of the past.”

“That truly is a bizarre dream.”

“But…they were nice people.”

It sounded as if she were treating the dream like it was real.

“And? Um…”

She slowly spread her legs as if to accept his body and her right hand reached for his cheek.

“Hey, did you notice?”

She took a breath.

“You’re crying right now.”

Am I? he wondered as a drop also fell from the corner of Shinjou’s eye and toward her ear.

“Are you hurting, Sayama-kun?”

“No…I am not, Shinjou-kun. Because you are with me.”

“I see,” she said. “Then why are you crying? And why am I crying?”

She laughed and placed her hand around his shoulder.

Her face grew even redder.

“U-um? Sayama-kun? This might be sudden, but what day is it?”

“December 24. It is early morning, though.”

“I see.” She took a while to continue. “Itaru-san was the one to tell me a long time ago, but today’s my birthday.”

“Mine too.”

Those two words seemed to drop down toward her and she moved away from him a little bit.

“Eh? …Ehh?”

“Why are you surprised? Seeing you again is such a wonderful present.”

“S-seeing me isn’t worth that much, you know?”

“But it is,” he insisted. “I, Sayama Mikoto, will head to the Diet this very morning and propose that today be made our own holiday. We can call it the Seeing Shinjou-kun Day. …How about it? We can abbreviate it as SS Day.”

“I don’t think the Germans would like that very much.”

“Probably not,” he agreed before thinking a bit. “Do you have a present for me?”

When she shook her head, he realized he had to give her something no matter what.

But she glared back at him.

“Are you thinking something dangerous?”

“Of course not,” he said before suddenly adding something else. “Can I ask one thing?”

“What is it?”

“Well. Instead of getting a present, I would like to check on you. I want to make sure you are really here.”

Will she be opposed to that? he wondered.

But she nodded even if hesitantly.

She then looked him in the eye and nodded again.

“I want to check to make sure you’re here too.”


Kazami was taking a shower.

Her parents were out. They seemed to have a job in the city center.

Come to think of it, they said something about a Christmas concert a while back.

There was a possibility her mother would sing again.

Would she finally end her ban on singing?

Kazami felt that would be a wonderful thing.

She held her wet hair between her hands to let the shampoo soak in. She then brushed her hair upwards to even it out, wet it, and let it foam up.

Maybe I should make some food once I’m done in here.

After entering the house and managing to relax, Izumo had turned on the TV to check the news about Okutama, so she had gone to take a shower as if purifying herself.

He would probably take a shower next, so she could fix up a quick late-night meal for when he got out.

She had already checked the contents of the fridge.

Since they had been leaving for a bit, her parents had mostly left only the food that would keep, but there was always some leftover rice in there somewhere. There had also been two or three eggs that would last a few days.

After thawing out the rice, she could throw in some wieners and eggs for chazuke or she could make a quick zosui. Given the amount of rice, she could also make fried rice.

Something occurred to her after thinking that far.

“I’m staying pretty positive.”

She smiled bitterly. Despite everything that had happened, she could not argue with her empty stomach.

She was worried about everyone who had been at Japanese UCAT, but there was nothing she could do at the moment. In that case, would it be best to eat what she could and get some rest?

She did not know.

She did know that she would start to feel tired if she ate and rested.

Staying awake would show how worried she was for the others, but…

Would everyone want me to get so little sleep I can’t do anything right?

Was that just an excuse coming from her exhaustion?

She did not know and she had no way of answering. She only knew she had climbed onto the three-stage catapult of a bath, food, and sleep.

Instead of staying awake today, I’ll get moving tomorrow.

With that decided, she placed her head under the hot water and slapped her cheeks.

“That’s what it means to stay positive!!”

She looked up, and…

“That’s my Chisato!!”

Izumo opened the door and stepped inside.

“—————!?”

The situation was so sudden.

She was unable to react properly and she simply covered her body with her arms to protect herself.

Izumo gave her a relaxed smile.

“Huh? Fancy meeting you here, Chisato.”

“Don’t tell such blatant lies!!”

A right roundhouse kick knocked Izumo into the empty bathtub.


Shinjou was kissed by Sayama.

She was in Sadame’s body.

The room’s lights were still on as her shirt was removed.

Sayama checked over her entire body.

The room was lit, but he seemed to want to confirm the shape of her body by touch. His hands touched her and pushed down to confirm there was something below the skin. He massaged her and his lips crawled across her.

“S-Sayama-kun… Y-you’re pretty obscene, you know?”

“No, I am merely checking on you, Shinjou-kun. …It is all this hand’s fault! This hand! Now, Shinjou-kun, hit this hand for me! Give it a thorough flogging with your butt or chest!”

“You’re good at getting worked up over the most meaningless things.”

Meanwhile, she squirmed as he touched her.

When she moaned and twisted her arm, the arm touched one of the fallen books.

It was lying on Sayama’s suit which was laid out below her.

“U-um, Sayama-kun, your suit.”

“You want to spice things up with the suit!? Testament, then let us move below the light. …More light!”

He started to get up, so she grabbed him with her legs to pull him back down.

He lost his balance and lay back on top of her.

She twisted her sweaty body to catch his strength.

“Um? That’s not what I meant. Will the books and suit…be okay?”

“Anything lying below you counts as a bed, Shinjou-kun.”

Is that how it works? she wondered as he suddenly smiled.

“I read your novel.”

“Eh!?”

That was the first she had heard of that.

Her body temperature quickly reached a boil. The words “wah” and “wait” came to mind, but he spoke first.

“It seems you enjoy it…when you are kissed.”

“No, um, wait. Uh…”

“You say you do not like it…but you cannot resist, can you?”

“Th-that’s um…that’s what you call fiction.”

Her flustered comment made him smile.

“Ha ha ha. Yes, it would be fiction, wouldn’t it?”

“Um, y-yes. It’s fiction! Fiction!”

Sayama laughed some more and immediately pulled her in close.

“But we must not forget the ‘non’ that precedes it.”

Before she could even cry out, his fingertip entered her navel.

It felt like his finger was reaching deep within her belly.

“————”

Her hips jumped up in surprise and she managed to keep her lower half in a sitting position.

“Ah…hee.”

She caught her breath and Sayama tilted his head.

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“How strange… That reaction was supposed to be fictional.”

“S-Sayama-kun, quit teasing me!”

“I am not teasing you, Shinjou-kun.”

“Th-then what are you doing?”

He thought a bit before answering.

“I am crossing the boundary between fiction and nonfiction.”

“That’s a really ordinary way of being ridiculous.”

As she spoke, she felt his fingers arriving below her navel.

“Ah.”

His fingers moved both quickly and slowly down her raised belly and gave a knock on the very bottom.

“Nn.”

When his fingers tapped softly and probingly, her voice just about left her, but her lips were covered up.

While she was unable to breathe, his fingers checked on the curves at the very bottom of her belly.

“Ah…”

He stroked his fingers up and down.

She gave another monosyllabic cry and breathed in through the airway opened by leaning back her head.

“S-Sayama-kun… Th-that’s indecent.”

“Hm, then let us arrange the environment to make it more decent. …Would you like to listen to an educational radio program? I believe they are having a direct competition on a rerun of the social studies program ‘Unemployed Old Man’.”

“That would just make me sad.”

“And after you asked for it yourself? What a selfish child.”

Hearing that made her smile and laugh bitterly.

With her hips still raised, she gave herself in to Sayama’s lips and stroking hand.

His lips lowered to her chest, sucked, and then pecked at various parts of her body.

His fingers continued stroking and pressing in on her. She wanted to resist the trembling ticklishness that created, but she only shook her waist a little since moving away would have been a shame.

But when she leaned her body back, his fingers were accepted inside as he stroked upwards.

“…Hyah.”

She frantically tried to move her body back, but he stroked and swept his fingers upwards and repeated the action again and again. It was like he was repeatedly knocking her body back upwards.

“…!”

The repeated upwards action caused her to tremble and she tried to catch her breath.

But just then, he moved his fingers even more strongly, except this time he pushed the wetness down and back.

The sudden reversal of the movement and the feeling of the fingers so far down caused Shinjou to tremble and gasp in surprise.

“————”

For a while, she felt as if something were leaving her body.

The next thing she knew, he had grabbed the hands extended by her side and he pulled her down.

This was the opposite of before.

Sayama was down between her legs. She was sitting with her legs spread, his arms were pulling her forward by the butt, and her arched belly and hips were thrust out toward him.

At some point, his stroking fingers had been replaced by his damp lips and tongue.

“Ah, S-Sayama-kun, that’s embarrassing…”

When he said nothing, she grew a little afraid and the throbbing she felt produced an honest cry.

“S-say something, Sayama-kun. Please…”

“On’t orry. Ere’s othing oo orry about Injou-un.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth still on me!!”

He pulled on her hands and she leaned back enough for her butt to rise from the bed.

She was offering up her defenseless self to his mouth.

She cried out as he reached deep inside her, but she eventually was unable to even do that.

“…Nn.”

A long tremor ran through her body and, when she came to her senses again, her body was limp.

She breathed out, looked up, and found him there.

“Shinjou-kun.”

“…?”

He nodded at her questioning breath.

“Are you there?”

“…Yes.”

She answered and turned her body to face him.

Aware of his warm breath, she got up and moved toward him.

“U-um?”

She spoke with the ends of her eyebrows lowered and a hand held up to her lips.

“You were worried about me, weren’t you? So, um… first, I’ll show you for sure that I’m here. And this time, I’ll go first after that too, okay?”

Before he could stop her, she touched him herself.

She showed him she was there using the reverse of the method he had just used on her.

She brought her lips in close and stroked with her tongue.

“Sayama-kun… You can do what you want to me, okay? You’ve saved my life so many times, so this is my present…this is Sadame’s present to you.”

She felt him stroke her hair and she felt a dampness on her lips as she took him into her mouth.

“Sayama-kun, don’t hesitate to give me something, okay?”

“Are you sure?”

She nodded, shook her body, and looked up at him.

“I’ll show you that I’m here. As the reverse of before, I’ll accept you…and accept you inside. So afterwards, you show me that you’re here, okay?”


An intense sound shook the Kazami house’s bathroom.

It came from Izumo who had fallen into the bathtub while spinning.

“Ow, ow, ow, ow! What the hell are you doing!?”

“That’s my line!! You surprise peeping tom!!”

Kazami switched the shower’s mode from “normal” to “direct fire” to “warship”, turned the water temperature to cold, and fired. The water attack was powerful enough to create a mist and Izumo shouted from beyond the spray.

“How in the world was that peeping!? And stop! Seriously stop, Chisato!”

“Will you apologize!?”

“Your body sure is beautiful.”

She clicked her tongue, switched the water to a lighter mode, wrapped a towel around herself, and sighed.

What is he thinking at a time like this?

She found Izumo looking up at her with an elbow on the edge of the bathtub.

“Feeling better?”

“Well, I guess.”

She gave another deep sigh, sat on the edge of the bathtub, and rested her own head on her hand.

“What were you thinking? And why is your head full of dirty things at a time like this!?”

“Well…”

He lowered his head a little, looked up at the ceiling, and slowly answered.

“You’d be in trouble if you were alone.”

She felt her cheeks flush at how spot on his answer was, so she looked away.

“That isn’t true.”

“Then,” he said. “There’s no need for us to get worked up right now. It isn’t our turn to act.”

“But!”

She turned around and remembered why she was getting so worked up.

She remembered so many people’s faces and realized this was not good.

“But…”

She trailed off and her vision blurred.

“Ahh, sorry, sorry. I said too much, didn’t I?”

He reached over, grabbed the shower, and sprayed lukewarm water over her head.

Her bangs created a wet black shadow that completely covered her face.

The water flowed down her face, leaving only her trembling voice.

“I don’t like this… I don’t…”

“Don’t say that. This was my fault.”

“It was.”

Her shoulders shook and she breathed in as if to wash her downturned mouth with the water.

“This was…all your fault.”

“Sure, sure, sure. It was my fault. All mine.”

“It’s always you. It’s always your fault. You’re always perverted, you’re undisciplined, you eat too much, you buy things impulsively, and you collect strange magazines… Ahh, now I’m getting mad!”

“Wait, wait. I think your anger gauge is rising on its own, Chisato.”

“And whose fault is that?”

He suddenly brushed up her bangs.

She looked up through the stream of water with one eye and saw Izumo peering down at her.

“Just say it’s my fault. That’s your special privilege.”

“A-and you’re fine with that? Really?’

“Sure.” He thought for a moment. “Because you always apologize afterwards.”

She paused for a moment when she heard that.

“———”

She smiled bitterly.

That’s true, she thought and so she exhaled.

“Sorry.”

She pressed her cheek against his chest as she spoke.

“It’s painful for you too, isn’t it?”

“I’m fine. You don’t need to worry about it.”

“Really? Why?”

It took a while, but he finally answered.

“When my mom died, I thought nothing could ever be more painful. And after that, I got you by my side.”

So…

“If anything really painful happens to me, it’ll be when you aren’t with me, so…you don’t need to worry about me. And since I don’t have to worry about you either, it isn’t as painful, right?”

She was speechless, but he continued right on.

“It’s the same if you do lose someone. We know we at least didn’t make them feel the pain of losing us and that’s gotta be a really good thing.”

“B-but…!”

She wanted to say something. She could not think of anything to say, but she still wanted to say something.

That was when Izumo placed his hand on her hair and gave a bitter laugh.

“Let’s just leave it at that. …You can’t survive just by sitting around, so you did good, Chisato. At the very least, you kept anyone from hurting because of you. Right?”

She responded to that question by rising up along his chest and wrapping her arms around his neck.

“You’re so stupid,” she said as she placed her lips on his and wondered what kind of expression was on her face. “You really are stupid, so I’ll keep saying it: you’re stupid. That’s my special privilege.”

“Sayama’s been stealing that privilege from you an awful lot, you know?”

“That’s fine.” She leaned against him and smiled. “Getting him to apologize to me later is another special privilege of mine. So…”

She knew even her ears were red as she continued.

“Will you apologize to me?”

Izumo answered her with an embrace.

The warm water brought their flesh closer together.

“Ah…”

Kazami hesitated and narrowed her eyes.

But a moment later, she heard a sudden voice from the house’s entrance.

“Chisato!? Are you there!? Mama and papa came back to get something we forgot!”

The two in the bath exchanged a glance.

“Does this mean…?”

Izumo nodded at Kazami’s serious question.

“We have no choice but to show off our love!”

She slammed him into the bathtub once more.


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