Living with a Beautiful High School Student: A chance encounter after seven years [Chapter 2] [Volume 1]

A considerate, meddlesome girl, and a sweet life.

It has been several days since Aoi and Aunt Ryoko came to visit me. From this Saturday onwards, we will begin living together as if we were a real couple, since Aoi will move in with me.

While working at my desk, thinking about my future and the person who will start living with me was inevitable. Aunt Ryoko’s concern was Aoi’s independence and solitary character. Since I will become her tutor, it is necessary to be as close to her as possible.

I really want to spend time with her and get to know her, catching up on what she likes, or dislikes her passions, the things she adores… But with my current lifestyle, where I’m constantly working overtime, that would be impossible.

I come home late every day, and I can’t even take advantage of my days off because of all the accumulated exhaustion in my body. That means the time I can spend with Aoi is severely limited. Somehow, I must reduce my overtime hours.

Now that I think about it, the last time I complained about this, Chizuru-san advised me to take my work much less seriously.

I will do my best to take this job less seriously. If I can somehow reduce my overtime hours, I will have more time to spend with Aoi, and my personal life will also benefit from this. As her tutor, I must always give my best.

—And to achieve that, I must change the way I approach my work and my family…

—Hehe, it seems like Yuya-kun is full of determination today. — said Chizuru-san with a smile on her face.

She was sitting at the desk next to mine. As soon as I heard her comment, I stopped typing and turned to her.

—Do you really think so?

—Of course. Not only that, you also clearly said ‘I must change my work approach’ a moment ago. 

—Eh? Did I really say something like that out loud?

—Yes… By the way, since when did you become a family man?

—Huh?

That question felt like a mortal blow, making my heart  race inexplicably. How did she know? I hadn’t mentioned anything to anyone about my living arrangements with Aoi.

—A—A family man? What are you talking about?

—Are you really not aware of what you say, Yuya-kun? Not only did you mention that you should change your work approach, but you also mentioned something related to family.

Damn, I can’t believe she heard my inner monologue.

—N—No, it’s not that kind of ‘family.’ I meant it as a metaphor, treating work like a family, you know, giving it enough attention without being annoying.

—Oh, I see. That makes sense. For a moment, I thought you finally got a girlfriend.

I chuckled dryly at my boss’s comment. There’s nothing strange between Aoi and me, I’m just a tutor, there’s no romantic relationship between us or anything like that.

—Don’t say strange things, Chizuru-san, I don’t have a girlfriend.

—Seriously? I thought you’d have at least one or two admirers. After all, you’re a very responsible guy, and you have good looks.

—I don’t know if I would like that, it would be very problematic to have two admirers… Besides, you’re also beautiful, Chizuru-san. From my point of view, it’s very strange that you don’t have a boyfriend.

—Eeeh, well… The truth is, I don’t have a boyfriend — Chizuru-san responded with an emotionless expression.

Damn, I completely forgot that this woman is complicated when it comes to romantic relationships.

—Of course, I want to have a partner… I wish that person would program me like software and treat me with affection.

—I don’t understand, do you want a programmer boyfriend?

—No, it’s not that! What I’m trying to say is that I want someone who will give the same importance to our relationship as I do and make something beautiful together! Like a love manual!

—I still don’t understand anything.

A love manual… It sounds strange and outdated.

—Okay, never mind. I’m aware that I’m a poor woman with serious basic design flaws in my software… There’s no such thing as a prince who’s a software engineer that would want to fix my serious flaws.

Chizuru-san went back to her work, cursing herself. Her comments didn’t seem to make any logical sense, but I suppose she’s frustrated.

Phew… Fortunately, I managed to change the subject after stepping on an emotional mine, but it would be a problem if it’s discovered that I’m living with a high school student. I have to avoid making inappropriate comments at work.

I looked at the clock. It’s already 8:00 PM, and it’s already completely dark outside the window. I got involved in overtime work again…

If I’m going to start living with Aoi, I can’t be coming home late every day. I must find a suitable solution for this.

—Hah… I want to go home.

I sighed and turned back to the screen.

***

 

Ding-dong. Ding-dong.

The doorbell of the apartment rang several times, causing my drowsy consciousness to slowly awaken.

—Umm… What time is it now? — I asked as I picked up my phone.

Upon seeing the time on the screen, I noticed that it was exactly twelve o’clock.

This wasn’t good. Even though it was Saturday, and I had the day off, oversleeping wasn’t good for me.

But I guess I can’t blame myself too much, it’s just a sign that my body has accumulated a lot of fatigue…

Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong.

The doorbell rang again and again, interrupting my thoughts.

—I wonder who keeps persistently pressing the button.

I got up from bed sluggishly. Still rubbing my sleepy eyes, I headed towards the entrance.

—Yeah yeah… I’m coming…

I opened the door and there was Aoi, dressed in casual clothes.

—Hello, Yuya-kun.

—Hello… What?!

—Don’t tell me you forgot… — Aoi said with an accusatory look.

Ah, that’s right… Today is the day I start living with Aoi. Plus, they were supposed to bring their belongings as part of the move.

—I didn’t forget.

—Didn’t forget? Didn’t we agree to clean the room together before your things arrived?

—Even if you say that, you look like you just woke up.

—Ugh…

—I see that you’re very careless. You need to start behaving properly, Yuya-kun.

—I’m really sorry.

It’s really embarrassing to be scolded by a sixteen-year-old girl.

—Well, Yuya-kun, it’s time for you to wash your face, brush your teeth, and then we’ll talk about your sleep schedule. As for your clothes… Wear something comfortable  that you won’t mind getting dirty, I need your help unpacking.

—Okay, I’ll prepare myself properly. For now, come into my apartment.

Aoi makes me feel like a little kid. Had my life become so irresponsible? I mean, I’m an adult , and being made aware of how irresponsible I’ve been is a little painful.

—I understand, sorry for the trouble…

—Come on, you don’t have to be so formal. From now on, this will also be your room. You don’t have to act so formally.

It’s not just my room anymore. It’s our room. “Sorry for the trouble” should be something that visitors to my home say… Or so I thought until I saw Aoi shaking her head from side to side.

—No, I really pushed too much on this matter… I’m sorry for causing you trouble. — Aoi said as she respectfully bowed her head.

It’s good that she’s a responsible and polite person, but isn’t she being too reserved? We’re childhood friends, she should feel more familiar and comfortable like before.

—Aoi, you don’t have to hold back like that. You can be more open with your thoughts if you want.

—I’m fine. I don’t plan on acting childishly, like depending on you.

After saying that, Aoi turned around with a gesture of disdain.

Hmm, this girl is quite stubborn. I won’t deny that it would be great if she gradually opened up her heart. It would make living together more pleasant.

—Well, excuse me.

Aoi entered the hallway and took off her black shoes with a bow at the back.

She was wearing a white and black striped shirt, jeans, and had a cream-colored handbag. Her outfit was simple, comfortable, and practical.

The last time we saw each other, she was in her school uniform. Since we met again, this is the first time I’ve seen her dressed in casual clothes. She looks a bit more mature.

While I was admiring her, our eyes met.

—…Is something wrong?

—Oh, no. It’s just that your casual clothes are simple but elegant.

—A-ah, really?… Thank you.

—You’re very cute.

—I—I appreciate your compliments. But more importantly, you still look like you have sleep in your eyes… So go wash your face, okay? — Aoi said with flushed cheeks.

It’s incredible that I was scolded after giving her a compliment… Girls at this age really are complicated. But she’s right, I should wash my face.

As I headed to the bathroom, I heard a voice from the room.

—Hmm.

It was Aoi who was humming. She seems to be in a good mood – I wonder if my compliments had something to do with it.

—Hahaha, after all, she’s a very sincere girl… In her own way.

Although she seems very mature, she still has some of the sweetness that is typical at her age.

 

***

 

After washing my face, I returned to the room.

Aoi had already started preparing to clean. There was a garbage bag, a plastic rope, and some pink scissors on the floor.

—Yuya-kun, why is the living room so messy…? — Aoi asked with a frustrated expression.

Oh… damn it. I remember that when Aoi came last time, I hid the messy things in  my room to cover it up.

At that moment, the living room was once again full of scattered manga and empty water bottles. I can’t blame Aoi for complaining.

—I’m sorry. I haven’t cleaned since that day…

—Anyway, your room is too messy. Seriously, you need to be more responsible with these kinds of things. — Aoi replied with puffed cheeks.

Oh no, she’s scolding me again.

—Please don’t be angry… And thank you for preparing everything .

—I can’t help but be angry. From today, this is also my room… So, let’s start by picking up the trash first. First of all, we need to separate what we have. We need to recycle, so plastic bottles go in separate bags from paper. Got it?

—Yes, I got it.

I started picking up the water bottles that were scattered on the floor.

—Yuya-kun, what about the labels and caps…? 

—I’m supposed to take them off and separate them as plastic waste, right?

—Well, you knew after all. Good boy, good boy.

—Am I a kid?

—Hehehe, well, with the room in this state, it’s inevitable to mistake you for a kid.

Aoi joked with me as I took the water bottles to the kitchen. I rinsed them  out and quickly separated the labels and caps into the garbage bag.

As I did this, I glanced at Aoi from time to time.

Aoi sorted and disposed of the trash quickly and efficiently. Her confidence in separating it suggested that she’s probably used to doing household chores.

The manga that was on the floor was carefully organized and placed on the shelf. The other unnecessary magazines were tied with rope to be taken to the trash.

Honestly, I’m surprised. I remember hearing from Aoi that she used to make a lot of mistakes when helping at home. She broke dishes trying to wash them, put dishwasher detergent in the washing machine, and when she tried to sweep outside, she ended up getting chased by neighborhood dogs.

I see… During those seven years we were apart, Aoi has grown up and become responsible.

As I watched Aoi clean, our eyes met by chance.

—Um… What’s wrong? 

—Nothing. I was just thinking that you’re very efficient. You’ve become good at household chores, haven’t you?

—Well… it was part of my training to become a proper girlfriend. I wanted to become a girl that you would like, Yuya-kun.

Aoi’s well-formed ears turned red like apples. It seems she’s not aware, but she’s looking at me with a slightly pleading expression. Wasn’t she not supposed to act that way?

—Putting that aside, you should also be able to do cleaning, are you good at it?

—Uh… I’ll try my best.

—Hehe. Don’t you like cleaning?

—It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that I’m busy with work and don’t have the energy to clean.

—That’s true. The last time we talked, you said you were very busy with work… I understand, I’ll keep that in mind,” she replied while resting her chin on her palm.

Finally, that severe expression turned into a smile.

—In that case, to make sure Yuya-kun can spend each day with energy, I’ll take good care of you.

It’s nothing more than the typical declaration of a wife supporting her husband.

I feel embarrassed and my face naturally turned red. Why does my life partner emit an aura of a wife without realizing it? It’s too dazzling. I feel enchanted watching her perfection right now.

—Yuya-kun, is something wrong?

—No, it’s nothing. What should we do next?

—Well… Then, please clean the windows. I brought the cleaning utensils in my backpack, so you can use them… Kyaa!

As Aoi approached her backpack, she tripped over a nearby garbage bag.

—Be careful!

I reacted quickly and stopped Aoi.

—Phew… Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?

—Y—Yes… thank you, I’m fine…

—What’s wrong? Are you in pain?

—No, it’s just that… I feel embarrassed about this situation.

I didn’t realize it at the moment. But after a few seconds, I noticed that I had my arms around Aoi’s waist, hugging her tightly.

The temperature of her body pressed into my arms. She was soft… Especially her chest. Her generous bust was pressed against me in a way that changed its shape.

Unconsciously, my face turned red again.

This can be seen in many ways. But it was inevitable not to react this way, Aoi had grown a lot in all aspects. 

So I quickly let go of Aoi.

—I—I’m sorry. Did you not like it?

—There’s no reason for me not to like it… And don’t ask me silly and malicious questions. Idiot.

Her reaction was so cute that I felt even more embarrassed. What’s going on? Why are we acting like innocent student couples? This is too bittersweet.

As I thought about how to ease this uncomfortable atmosphere, Aoi smiled.

—Hehe. This reminds me of when we were kids. I used to be clumsy and fall frequently, hurting myself. You always took care of me and worried about me, Yuya-kun… Ah, those were good times.

—Hahaha, yeah, that’s true. Now that you mention it, I remember we had a spell for moments like these, how did it again…? Oh, yes! I remember now! It was ‘Pain pain, go away, and leave Aoi alone.’

—Hehe, I’m not a child anymore, you know? There’s no need to do something so childish.

Despite denying it, Aoi seemed very happy. That innocent expression hasn’t changed at all.

It’s normal for people to change in seven years, in appearance but also in their inner selves.

However, there are also aspects of us that don’t fade with time. It was during the afternoon of our first day of cohabitation when I realized this obvious truth.

 

***

 

—Finally! We’re done!

Whether it was the feeling of accomplishment of having finished cleaning or exhaustion, those words escaped from me naturally.

The room was as beautifully clean as when I moved in. All of this is also thanks to Aoi.

A separate Western-style room was assigned to Aoi, away from my bedroom. There were some of my belongings and supplies in the room, but they wouldn’t take up too much space or be bothersome. Still, we decided to remove them and clean the room so she could put her belongings in.

After finishing the cleaning, I dropped to the floor of the living room, which had gone from being a messy place to being so shiny that you could see your face reflected in it. Well, not literally, but to be honest, the place was cleaner than I imagined it could be.

As I lay on the floor, I looked up at the ceiling and sighed. A few seconds later, Aoi’s face briefly appeared at the edge of my field of vision.

—There’s no time to rest, Yuya. My things will arrive soon.

—What do you mean? Does that mean I can’t even rest for a bit?

—If you rest now, it will be difficult for you to want to move later. Look around you, we need to make sure where to put everything before my equipment arrives…

—If you rest now, it will be difficult for you to want to move later. Look around you, we need to decide where to put everything before my belongings arrive…

Before Aoi could finish her explanation, the cute sound of a growling stomach interrupted her. There were only two people in this room. And since I can assure you that it wasn’t me...

Therefore, the only culprit left is Aoi. She lowered her gaze, and her cheeks began to turn a slight shade of red.

If she was hungry, she should have said so. There’s nothing shameful about a girl saying she’s hungry… Right?

—What do you think about resting for a bit? I can’t move because I’m very hungry. I haven’t eaten anything since I woke up. — I said as I rubbed my stomach.

I tried to convey my hunger without mentioning the sound of my stomach. It’s not that I’m very hungry, but the goal of this is to make Aoi relax a bit and be able to eat something.

—Well, I guess that’s okay. After all, you can’t fight on an empty stomach, right, Yuya?

—That’s right, it’s important to know our limits.

After hearing my response, Aoi nodded as if she was relieved. She’s not a very direct girl with what she thinks… But I suppose she’s also cute in her own way.

—What should we do? Should we order food and have it delivered?

—No, we can’t afford such luxuries.

—Luxuries…? I don’t think it’s necessary to exaggerate, Aoi.

—It’s not like that. It’s just that Yuya is careless.

For a moment, Aoi’s expression and tone of voice were so gentle that everything seemed to indicate that she was in a good mood. But suddenly, her attitude changed to disappointment.

Aoi made a light comment, but her tone was soft. She seems to be in a good mood.

—What is this? — Aoi asked frowning.

—Well, it’s a fridge. An appliance, you know.

—Yes, I know it’s a fridge. Do you think I’m a caveman or something, Yuya-kun?

—No, I don’t think that at all.

—What I mean is what’s inside the fridge! — Aoi responded, pointing at the inside — Why is it empty?

—It’s not empty, look carefully. There’s milk and mayonnaise.

—And the vegetables? And the meat? Processed foods like cheese and bacon…?

—There isn’t any.

—Well, you’re observant.

Aoi put her hands to her head. I suppose that’s how a man’s fridge looks like when he lives alone and doesn’t cook. I’m sure some people would add condiments and beer.

—Yuya-kun, what do you usually eat when you’re at home?

—I usually buy bento boxes at the convenience store and instant noodles.

—That’s not healthy. Don’t you realize that you’re going to die?

—Is it that serious?!

—I’m not exaggerating when I say this. If you continue to have such an unhealthy diet, you could become seriously ill.

—Ugh, I can’t argue with you when you say something like that.

It’s not just my diet but also my lifestyle that’s irregular due to excessive work. I know that someday they will detect something serious in my body with a medical check-up.

—There’s no other option. Let’s go to the supermarket to buy ingredients.

—Eh?

If we’re going to buy ingredients, that means… Is Aoi going to cook something for me?

—Are you saying that you’re going to delight me with a homemade meal, Aoi?

—Yes, if you don’t mind, I’d love to do it.

—It’s no trouble at all. That would make me very happy, I’m excited to try Aoi’s homemade food.

—Hehehe, thank you, Yuya-kun. I feel even more motivated now after hearing that. Let’s go shopping right now! I’ll prepare something very delicious.

When Aoi said that enthusiastically, the doorbell rang.

—Hello! It’s the moving service!

The voices of the moving employees could be heard from the other side of the door. Aoi’s packages had arrived.

—Oh no… I got so excited that I forgot my things were already going to be brought.

—Hahaha, after all, Aoi is just as forgetful as I am.

When I teased Aoi, who seemed embarrassed, she looked at me with a red and angry face.

—Grrr… Enough already! It’s because of your empty fridge, Yuya-kun!

—You’re right, I’m so sorry.

As I apologized, I quickly headed towards the entrance door, trying to escape the situation.

After receiving Aoi’s package, we changed clothes and headed to the nearby supermarket.

The sun was starting to set, and the city was tinged with orange. The color of the afternoon sun was soft. Since I spent most weekends lazing around at home, it had been a long time since I saw the sunset.

—Yuya-kun, what would you like to eat?

—Hmm, anything is fine, after all, you’re the one cooking for me.

—Ugh, the choice becomes difficult if you don’t give a clear answer. Please be more specific.

—Well… then, hamburgers.

—A hamburger? Are you sure? I guess you must have eaten them a lot at convenience stores, right?

—Well, yeah. You’re right. But still, I would like to eat a homemade one made by you.

—Oh, I understand… In that case, I’ll prepare a special one for you.

Aoi started making a list of the necessary ingredients, while I just walked beside her trying to keep up with her pace.

After a while, we arrived at the supermarket.

This was a major chain supermarket, with low prices and a good selection of products. I’m sure local residents use it a lot… For me, this is a new experience, as I always buy my food at a convenience store.

—Alright, what are we going to buy first? — I asked as I held a basket.

—Let’s start with the vegetables.

—Okay. I guess we’re going for onions first, right?

I headed to the vegetable stand and took the first onion that came into my field of vision. And as soon as I put my hand on it, Aoi suddenly hit my hand.

—Ouch. What’s wrong, Aoi?

—You’re doing it wrong, Yuya-kun. You can’t just take any onion. You have to choose carefully.

—You’re very detail-oriented…

—And you’re very careless. Look, first you have to observe the appearance of the onions. You should always choose the one with a nice, blemish-free skin.

—Oh, I see. And how about this one?

—Let’s see… It looks good, but it’s a little light. It’s better if they’re heavier. The heavier onions contain more water and are fresher and tastier. The more spherical ones are the best. 

Aoi said as she evaluated each onion she took.

—You definitely seem like a veteran housewife. Your knowledge about food is exceptional.

—Hehe. I’m not a veteran at all. This is the first time I’ll be cooking for someone else, so you could say it’s my debut.

—Oh, I see. Then, what kind of debut will this be?

—The debut of a young woman taking care of a man.

—That sounds more like the debut of a home care assistant.

—That’s true, you’re right. Congratulations, grandpa Yuya, you have a lovely girl taking care of you.

—Don’t treat me like an old man!

Well, I can’t deny that Aoi is doing a great job so far of wanting to help me. That includes letting me know how poorly organized my life is and the infinite problems I have to take care of myself.

It was also at this precise moment that I realized the lack of authority I have in this cohabitation. I’m not taking care of Aoi… Aoi is taking care of me. This is crazy!

—Yuya-kun? What’s wrong? Why are you stopping?

—Well, you see… I feel bad for being such an incompetent tutor. From now on, I’ll try to be more responsible.

—It’s not necessary. You’ve always been kind to me since I was a child. You’ve helped me so much in many aspects of my life that I’m happy to be able to return the favor.

—That’s different. I’m supposed to take care of you… And I can’t even do that properly.

—I don’t mind. I’m happy to take care of you, Yuya-kun. It makes me very happy.

—Even if you say that…

—Well, I have to admit that I feel a little bad about all this… I came into your life suddenly after so many years, and practically forced you to live together. It’s a bit selfish of me, isn’t it?

—Aoi…

I’m surprised that Aoi thinks that way… Was this the reason why she had such a shy attitude when she entered my home this morning? Although I don’t think she was selfish at all.

—Do you really think I would get angry about something like that, Aoi?

—W—Well… No, I don’t think so.

—Very well thought out. Don’t worry, from now on, I want you to depend on me more. I don’t want you to worry about anything. I know I look like a tired old man, but from now on I’m your tutor and protector, Aoi, and that will never be a problem for me.

—Yuya-kun…

—It’s just that… From now on, we’re like a family, right? So please treat me like you used to.

Maybe I exaggerated a bit trying to look cool. I used to say very embarrassing things like this in the past without any problems. But it does make me feel a bit uncomfortable, if I’m honest.

Aoi looked at me curiously and blushed slightly.

—Yuya-kun… Thank you very much. I’ll keep that in mind.

—You don’t need to keep it in mind. I’m very aware of your feelings. But now, the most important thing is for you to get used to your new life. — I said as I tried to hide my nervousness.

After that, we resumed our shopping.

We went around the store and added the necessary ingredients to make burgers to the shopping cart.

In the cart, there were only ingredients for tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s breakfast, and some essential items. It seems that Aoi has no intention of buying things for herself.

…We’re not going to get anywhere like this. If I want Aoi to stop worrying and show me her more affectionate side, the change must start with me.

As I was thinking about that, Aoi suddenly stopped.

In the direction she was looking, there was another girl her age.

She had blonde hair tied up in a ponytail. She was wearing a sweater with her shoulders exposed and a short skirt with black boots. Her appearance gave the impression of being a very feminine girl.

—Eh? Is that you, Aoi-chan? — the girl asked as she ran towards us.

If she called her Aoi-chan, then they must be quite close.

—Ah, Rumi-san. Good evening.

—Wow, I didn’t expect to see you in this supermarket, Aoi-chan. Isn’t it dangerous for such an innocent girl like you?

—Hehe, I don’t think it’s dangerous at all. But I didn’t expect to see you here either.

After that exchange of words, they both started laughing together.

Although they seemed to be completely opposite, they got along surprisingly well. I’m glad that Aoi also has friends at school. I’ll let Aunt Ryoko know next time.

—Yuya-kun, let me introduce you. This is Rumi-san, a friend from my class.

Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you, Rumi-chan.

—Yes, nice to meet you… Hmm?

For some reason, Rumi was staring at me. What’s wrong? Do I have something on my face?

—…Yuya-san, are you Aoi’s older brother?

—Eh?

Rumi looked away from me and turned to Aoi.

—Hey, Aoi-chan, is he your brother? You don’t look alike. Plus, there seems to be a little age difference, right?

—Eh? W—Well, that’s because…

What a difficult situation. I can’t say that Aoi and I live together. But I can’t think of a convincing lie either.

I turned to Aoi and noticed that she was making a face of distress and confusion.

—Oh, oh. Could it be… that you have a relationship that you can’t talk about?

—No, it’s not like that, how to say it…

—It seems to be frustrating for you. Well, I’ll ask Yuya-san then. Hey, Yuya-san, what kind of relationship do you have with Aoi?

—Mmm, well… Aoi is a very important person to me.

When I said what I was thinking out loud, I noticed that Aoi’s face turned bright red. For some reason, she was moving her mouth. It seemed like she wanted to say something like; “What are you saying, Yuya-kun?”

—Really? You have an older boyfriend, Aoi-chan? Wow, that’s super exciting!

Rumi was beaming with excitement and shaking Aoi’s hand up and down. Well, technically I’m not her boyfriend…

—Ao-chan, you did it! Where did you find this handsome guy?!

—He’s not exactly my boyfriend… Yuya-kun is someone who took care of me when I was younger, in the old neighborhood where I used to live.

—In the neighborhood when you were younger? Really? It’s too exciting, Aoi-chan! I think it’s time for a nickname change for you.

—Please stop giving me strange nicknames… Oh, by the way, I would prefer if this was kept a secret. I don’t want anyone in the class to find out.

—Okay. But in exchange, I want you to tell me more about both of you… Have you kissed yet?

—N—No, we haven’t kissed!

Aoi resisted as Rumi pressed her. It seems like she got embarrassed hearing the word “kiss”.

I just watched with a smile as the two of them joked around, until Rumi’s phone started ringing.

—Oh, it’s my mom. She’s asking if I’m done with the shopping. I better go soon or she’ll go crazy.

—Okay. And please remember to keep this a secret…

—Yeah, don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Yuya-san, take good care of Aoi.

—Yes, don’t worry. I’ll take good care of her.

—Oh, that sounded very adult-like! Alright, take care of each other, bye!” said Rumi as she waved her hand.

She went off towards the fish section.

—She’s a very lively and affectionate person, don’t you think?

—Yes, she seems like a very lively girl… By the way, Aoi, why didn’t you deny that I’m your boyfriend? I don’t think she’ll think too much about the fact that you and I live together.

—W—Well… That’s because it made me happy that she mistook me as your partner…

—I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you very well, what did you say?

—I—It’s not important. Anyway, please don’t say such reckless things. That just gets you in trouble, Yuya-kun.

—Well, I guess… I expressed myself in a way that could cause misunderstandings. But I can’t deny the fact that you’re someone important to me.

—Y—Yuya-kun… Don’t say such nice things. It’s unfair. — murmured Aoi.

She fell silent for a moment, and her cheeks blushed even more.

—…How unfair. Only I get nervous about this, silly.

—Eh, are you angry?

—I’m not angry. Silly.

Although she denied it, I’m worried that she’s been adding the word “silly” to her sentences for a while now…

—Hehe. Yuya-kun’s worried expression has a special charm. — said Aoi, smiling shyly.

I really don’t understand this at all. If she’s smiling, it means she’s not angry after all… Right?

—Well, Yuya-kun, let’s go pay.

—Yes, let’s finish shopping and go home. I’m very hungry.

—Hehe, you sound like a little kid.

Well, your stomach has also been growling for a while, I’m not the only hungry one… But it’s better not to say this out loud. Things would end badly for me if I keep joking about it.

I can clearly imagine Aoi calling me “silly” again.

 

***

 

—I hope you enjoy it. — said Aoi, taking off her apron.

She then proceeded to sit in front of me.

On the table was the demi-glace hamburger I’d ordered, with fried eggs, cherry tomatoes, and French fries as side dishes. It was a very complete dish, with even a Caesar salad.

—Wow! It looks delicious!

—Hehe. It’s my special dish, I made it with a lot of effort. Let’s eat before it gets cold.

—Yes, let’s. Bon appétit!

When I pierced the hamburger with my chopsticks, the juices from the meat came out. At that moment, I knew with certainty that it would be incredibly delicious.

With Aoi’s gaze fixed on me, I divided the hamburger into small bites, and then brought it to my mouth.

The instant I took a bite, the hamburger smoothly melted in my mouth. The meat was tender and juicy. The hot juices enveloped my tongue. The taste of the meat was amazing and the demi-glace sauce was thick and flavorful, giving me an explosion of flavors that I couldn’t describe.

When was the last time I had such a delicious hamburger? The quality was much better than the convenience store bentos that I usually eat.

—Aoi… This is the best hamburger I’ve ever had.

—Really? Hearing that makes me so happy. You should also eat vegetables, Yuya-kun. It’s not good for your health to just eat bentos and instant noodles. You need a lot of fiber and vitamins. — said Aoi with a relieved expression on her face. 

—You sound like my mother when you say that.

—Mhm. But I’m still a high school student.

Aoi pouted a little, which was cute, and before I knew it, I started laughing.

—Haha, sorry. It’s just that I was so surprised. You were right about everything you said: not only are you good at housework, you’re also a great cook. You have a housewife vibe. You’re a box of surprises, Aoi.

—Thank you. I really wanted to make a delicious meal for you, Yuya-kun… So, I worked hard to learn how to cook.

—…Aoi, you’re amazing. I’ll do my best to become a man you’re not ashamed to have by your side.

—Yuya-kun… The truth is, for me, you always… Uh, hey, don’t eat so fast. You’ll choke if you keep going like that.

—I can’t help it. It’s too delicious.

—R—Really…? Oh, Yuya-kun, you have sauce at the corner of your lips.

Aoi took a tissue and approached me to clean my mouth. It was a sudden event that made me excited.

—Okay, you’re clean now. God, you’re just like a child.

—Ah, yes. Thank you…

I’m really being taken care of by a younger girl. It’s a little embarrassing. But I thought it was a warm and comforting moment.

After that, we continued to eat together and spent a happy time during the meal.

 

***

 

After eating, Aoi washed the dishes and I took care of drying them.

Aoi poured dish detergent on the sponge and skillfully created foam while washing the dishes. Once again, I realized that she was accustomed to housework.

When we finished washing the dishes, after a brief moment of laughter, we talked about Aoi’s belongings that had arrived today.

There are a total of five cardboard boxes. Some of the boxes are quite heavy.

There’s still a lot of work to do,” said Aoi, glancing at the cardboard boxes.

It was obvious that she didn’t like the idea of continuing to unpack things. After all, she did the shopping, cleaned the room, and even cooked for me. I’m not surprised at all that she must be very tired.

—I think I’ll unpack tomorrow. Tonight I want to relax a bit.

—Yes, that seems like a good idea. Tomorrow is also my day off, so I’ll help you with it.

Aoi sighed with relief upon hearing my response. It would be great if she just told me directly, “I don’t want to unpack today because I’m tired.” So, to help her, I got up and moved the boxes to Aoi’s room.

—Well… What should I do now?

—If you want, you can take a bath. I don’t mind if you go first. I’ve already heated the water. Also, you’re running out of shampoo.

Aoi never ceases to surprise me. Both her words and actions are completely similar to those of a wife.

—Oh, by the way, you’re running out of shampoo.

—Really? I should have bought some at the supermarket today.

Well, luckily I have tomorrow off. So, I came up with a better idea.

—Aoi, how about we go shopping tomorrow afternoon after we finish unpacking?

—Eh? The two of us together?

—Yes. It will be fun, and we can chat calmly about many things.

After spending time with Aoi today, after a long time. I think I have gradually come to understand the things that have changed in her and the things that haven’t.

However, there are still aspects that I don’t know, for example, her school life.

So tomorrow, I’ll take her shopping and we’ll have tea at a café. I want her to tell me about her school life in detail.

—I understand. In that case, I would love to go out with you. Since if I send you to run errands, you’ll probably confuse the products… Or worse, end up buying unnecessary things. — said Aoi with a smile.

—Although you look happy now, you would probably be annoyed if I made a joke…

—Did you say something?

—No, not at all. I was just saying that you look very cute when you smile.

—Mmm… Are you trying to treat me like a child again?

—Haha, no, what are you talking about? Well, I’ll use the bathroom then.

While being stared at by Aoi, I headed to the bathroom, took off my clothes while putting them in the laundry basket, and then proceeded to the shower.

I took a warm shower while sighing deeply.

—Phew… Today has been a tiring day.

While washing my hair with shampoo, I reflected on the day I had.

Aoi scolded me a lot today. But for the most part, they were pieces of advice and warnings that she gave me because she cared about me. Her words didn’t cause me any annoyance, rather I felt her kindness.

I enjoyed the time we spent together. Cleaning, shopping, enjoying the food she prepared… Looking back, it was a day when Aoi showed off her housewife skills in full swing.

I remember she mentioned receiving training to be a wife and homemaker when she moved… I have no doubt that she worked hard in that learning process.

—…I can’t fall behind either. I have to become an adult she can trust too.

I rinsed my hair and turned off the shower. At that moment, I heard the sound of the door opening.

—Excuse me.

I heard Aoi’s voice behind me.

I turned around cautiously and saw Aoi standing very nervously, wearing a bath towel wrapped around her body.

Even with the towel, her slender figure could be appreciated, as it was very tight.

The sensuality wasn’t limited to just her body. Her prominent collarbones, the mole on her chest, and her flushed skin looked surprisingly seductive. It was impossible to remain speechless in front of her mature figure that rivaled that of an adult woman.

—P—Please… Don’t stare at me like that. It’s… Embarrassing.

—I—I’m sorry…

I apologized and looked away while hiding my face with a towel.

—Why did you come in here? Do you need something?

—Uh, I thought about washing your back, Yuya-kun.

Yes… I’m sure I didn’t hear wrong. Aoi clearly said she wanted to wash my back.

—Well… But you don’t have to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do. I can tell you’re nervous.

—It’s okay, I want to do it… Besides, it’s normal to feel this way when you want to wash someone’s back whom you care about.

—It’s okay… I just hope you’re not lying to me.

—I—I’m not lying. I really am doing it because I want to.

Aoi dropped a little shower gel on the towel and quickly lathered it up.

—Okay, here I go. — she said as she gently placed the towel on my back. — Hmm… shh… nnn…

Every time she moved the towel up and down, a soft sigh escaped from Aoi’s plump lips. She probably wasn’t aware of it, but her actions were incredibly provocative.

The image of Aoi wrapped in a bath towel was etched in my mind and couldn’t disappear. Her slender legs were beautiful, and the cleavage between her breasts was dangerously tempting. I won’t say more about it, but it seemed like something was about to grow in my bath towel.

—Yuya-kun… It’s really big. You’re strong.

—Eh?!

—The backs of men are so wide.

—Eh…? Oh! The back, yes!

Having my eyes covered with the towel intensifies my imagination. Aoi, please avoid using expressions like that.

To be honest, I’m quite confused. It’s not like Aoi to take a bath together. Clearly, her personality has changed in that aspect. What’s her goal with this?

—Hey, Aoi. Why are you doing this? — I asked, turning my face towards her.

—…I still feel insecure, after all.

—Eh?

I didn’t understand Aoi’s intention, so I asked her again.

—I mean, I suddenly intruded into your life. I can’t help but think that Yuya-kun is only kind to me and cares about me out of pity…

—Aoi…

—That’s why I want to at least repay you. I want to be useful, even if it’s just a little. I’m worried that if I’m not needed by Yuya-kun, I won’t be able to stay living with you…

Her fragile voice echoed sadly in the bathroom.

What the hell is she saying? Even if she carries that sense of obligation, I can’t really be happy about it. I feel pathetic for putting her through all this. The only reason she’s in this room is because she wants to be with me.

—That’s not true, Aoi. I accepted you living with me because I want to protect you. I don’t see you as a nuisance. So I don’t want you to think that you have to repay me or anything like that.

—But I haven’t been able to give you anything in return…

—You’re wrong.

—Eh?

—I mean, it’s okay for Aoi to cook for me or help me with household chores. But I don’t think you should do it as a way to repay me. I don’t want you to think of me as someone you have to serve. After all, you live here with me now.

—Yuya…

—I just want you to do the household chores within your capabilities, without pushing yourself too hard. What makes me the happiest is seeing Aoi without worrying too much and with a smile on her face every day, you know?

After saying that, my cheeks suddenly became hot.

Maybe I was a little sentimental. Damn, I used to be able to say these kinds of things smoothly and without worries. It’s a difficult role for a tired middle-aged man.

—I just ask that you take things slowly. I don’t want you to constantly pressure yourself.

Trying to undo the moment by giving her comforting words, Aoi suddenly smiled.

—I understand… I agree with that. I can’t change my way of thinking quickly. So I’ll do my best —Aoi said, expressing her agreement.

The way she said that, it seems that there won’t be much improvement in the end… But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and let her go at her own pace while I watch over her as an adult.

I was starting to feel relieved after thinking that everything was resolved, when suddenly Aoi started to get restless.

—Hm? Is something wrong, Aoi?

—Well, um… Should I wash your back now?

—…What did you say?

That’s definitely not okay. I’m also a man. If she washes that part of my body, there’s a possibility that I’ll lose control.

I faced Aoi and firmly grabbed her shoulders.

—Y—Yuya-kun?

—I’m very happy for the feelings you have towards me, Aoi. But please, don’t do this kind of thing.

—No, it’s okay. I don’t mind doing it.

—You don’t understand. I’m a man after all, if something like that happens, I don’t know when I’ll lose control and attack you.

—A—Attack?!

Aoi’s face turned as red as if she were suffocating.

—That’s right. I might even end up knocking you down. Do you understand what that means?

—I—I don’t… What do you mean by that?

—Aoi, you’re not a child anymore. And, now you possess certain charms that are irresistible to any man.”

—Uuh… I think I understand. But still…

—No buts, please leave, Aoi.

—B—But…

—Do you want to try your luck, Aoi? If so, I won’t resist in any way.

—I—I’m leaving! — Aoi said, embarrassed.

Aoi left the bathroom like a fleeing rabbit. The strategy was a success.

After that, I proceeded to rinse off in the shower, and then got into the bathtub. Free from nervousness, I let out a sigh.

—Haah… when such a charming girl approaches you, even reason wavers…

I wonder if Aoi is feeling the same way right now.

I closed my eyes and immersed myself in the water while thinking about those things.

 

***

 

When it was time to sleep, both Aoi and I got involved in another incident.

I was sitting on the floor in front of Aoi, who was wearing her pajamas, and we were having a conversation. The topic of discussion was ‘Where each of us was going to sleep?’

—…I’m a little confused, Aoi. Could you explain it concisely again?

—I want you to let me sleep in your bed tonight, Yuya. The futon I bought didn’t arrive with today’s packages. It’s supposed to arrive tomorrow.

—I’m sorry, I can’t do that. — I immediately responded.

How can she ask me something like that? Did she completely forget our conversation in the bathroom?

—W—Why?

—Look, Aoi. It would be a problem if something bad happened while sleeping in the same bed, don’t you think? I’ll sleep on the floor, you can use the bed.

—I can’t allow you to do something like that. What if you get sick? Or develop a problem in your back?

—None of that will happen to me for sleeping one night on the floor.

—One night is enough to cause a lot of damage. Think carefully, are you willing to take the risk of getting sick? What if it affects your work?

—But, sleeping in the same bed is a bit…

—Please. I care about your health, Yuya.

Apparently, Aoi is not willing to give in. Although she has an angelic face, she can be very persistent.

I can even understand Aoi’s point. I definitely wouldn’t like it if she got a cold, so I’m willing to give her my bed.

But it seems like I have no choice but to be a little more tolerant.

—Okay. Let’s sleep together just for tonight.

—Thank you. I’m sorry for causing you so much trouble. — Aoi said.

—It’s okay, it doesn’t bother me.

In fact, I was glad that Aoi cared so much about my health. But I can’t tell her directly because it would sound strangely sweet.

After reaching that agreement, we turned off the lights and both got into bed. It didn’t seem like a good idea to sleep facing each other, so I lay on my side, facing away from Aoi.

Obviously, my bed was not for two people, it was a single size. When two people sleep in such a small bed, it is natural that we sleep relatively close to each other.

I can hear Aoi’s slight breathing through my back. At this point, I already feel uncomfortable for several reasons…

—This bed has Yuya-kun’s scent.

—Huh? Is that a bad thing?

—No, it’s a nostalgic scent… A comforting smell. — Aoi said in a whisper.

Hearing her say that tickled my ear. I tried to move very carefully so as not to touch her body.

—Hey, Yuya-kun, it’s a bit cramped here, don’t you think?

—Yes, it is. It’s a single bed, so there’s not much we can do about it.

—Um… If you want, you can get a little closer. Although it’s tight, we have no choice but to be close.

Aoi said with a voice that sounded a little pleading.

This girl still doesn’t understand the power she has. Please, Aoi, stop unconsciously seducing me in such an adorable way. I’ve already told you that I’m a man who can’t control his impulses.

—Thank you, but I prefer not to take the risk… Good night, Aoi.

—Okay. Good night.

After saying good night, I closed my eyes without wanting to think about anything else.

Silently, time passed peacefully… And I couldn’t fall asleep. This will sound pathetic, but I’m very nervous about this situation.

I wonder if Aoi is already asleep.

While I was thinking that, she approached me and spoke.

—Yuya-kun, are you still awake?

—Yes, I’m awake. — I replied.

—I can’t sleep. Could you tell me an interesting story until I can sleep?

—An interesting story, that’s unexpected… Is it okay for you if I told you something funny?

—Yes, any story is fine.

—Mhm… Well, I just thought of something better. How about we talk about something that we will both surely enjoy?

—I like the sound of that. Do you have something in mind?

—In fact, yes, there’s something I want to ask you.

—This turned out to be very unexpected for me. But it’s okay, ask me anything.

—Why did you tell me you wanted to marry me on the day of your departure?

—…It’s very unfair of you to bring up a topic like that now. You have no tact, do you?

—I’m sorry, if you don’t want to talk about it, it’s okay. Let’s change the subject.

—No, it’s okay, I have no problem explaining it. — Aoi replied, grabbing the sleeve of my pajamas. —When I was a child, I started to like you when we played together. And before I knew it, I was fantasizing a lot about marrying you… But now you’re very careless, and that deducts points from you. You have to be more responsible, okay?

—Yes, I know. I’ll try to change.

—Okay, I’ll be waiting eagerly for that. — she replied with a sleepy voice. — You’re my ideal person and the one I admire the most, Yuya-kun.

—…I see.

—Yes… You’re very kind, reliable, and can do anything… I’ve always loved you for a long time.

Her words are completely opposite to the image I have of myself. Was I really such a cool guy in the past?

—Aoi, I’m going to be that man you fell in love with from the beginning… I want to be worthy of your admiration and love.

—…

—Aoi… Oh, it seems like you’ve fallen asleep. — I said as I turned to look at her.

It was very comforting to see Aoi’s peaceful and happy expression while she sleeps.

—Well, I’ll do the same.

I turned forward and closed my eyes. It didn’t take long for the magic of Morpheus to take effect on me.

 

***

 

The sunset gently enveloped the city. In front of me was a park with slides, sandboxes, monkey bars, and typical jungle gyms that one would usually find in these places for neighborhood children to play. In one corner stood a tall clock with a peculiar design. I definitely couldn’t forget this place even if I tried… This was the park where I first met Aoi, in the city where she used to live. As I reminisced about this nostalgic place, I realized that I was probably dreaming of past events.

I looked around the park and saw a little girl in the sandbox. She was short, maybe in the age range of being in primary school. That little girl was undoubtedly Aoi when she was young, crying as she rubbed her scraped knees. If my memories don’t fail me, she had tripped in the sandbox and hurt herself.

After a few seconds, three children her age surrounded her and began to make unkind comments.

—Look at that, she fell again.

—You’re so clumsy and useless.

—That’s what you get for playing in the sandbox. Why don’t you go home and play with your dolls?”

—Ugh… Please give me back my teddy bear…

—Why are you making that face? Are you going to cry already? Try to grab it if you can.

—Hey, don’t do that, give it back to me…

The three children began to pass the stuffed bear back and forth between them. Aoi desperately tried to reach it, but her chances of getting it back were unlikely. As I watched this scene, I felt a pain in my chest. But at that moment, a boy in a school uniform appeared in the corner of my eye and approached the children.

That boy was me during my high school years, and I saw myself quickly approaching Aoi, who was crying.

—Sorry for keeping you waiting! I went to the wrong park, hehe. Sorry, little sister.

—Eh? B-Big brother…?

Aoi was completely confused. After all, Aoi is an only child and didn’t have an older brother. It was normal that she couldn’t understand what that high school boy was trying to do at that moment.

—Come on, let’s go home together! Mom said she’ll make your favorite food today, curry.

And that’s how I continued to play the role of the “fake brother.” My goal was to let the children know that if they dared to bully Aoi again, I would always come to her rescue.

I must admit that it was a very clever move on my part, considering that I was in middle school and it was quite silly.

Turning my back on Aoi, who was still confused, I faced the children.

—Can you give my little sister her teddy bear back?

—Huh?

—I suppose you understand that this stuffed animal is very important to my little sister, and if she doesn’t get it back, she’ll be very sad… And I don’t like seeing my little sister sad. So, I hope you can do the right thing.

—Y—Yes…

One of the children reluctantly gave me the teddy bear. To a small child, a middle school student seems like an adult. And if you are a little intimidating with them, it’s natural for them to be scared.

—And please, try to get along with my sister, okay? — I said with a smile.  As the children looked at me in fear, they quickly nodded their heads and hurriedly ran away. It seems my strategy succeeded.

I took the teddy bear with both hands and then handed it to Aoi.

—Here you go, sorry for the inconvenience.

—Um… Who are you? I don’t have an older brother, you know?

—Hahaha, that was a little lie I told those kids. This will serve as a kind of charm so that they won’t bother you in the future. So keep it a secret, okay?

—Eh…?”

—Oh, right. I forgot you’re still a child… Well, let’s say that was a kind of magic to prevent those.

—Yes, that’s right. I can do magic. My specialty is turning the tears of beautiful girls like you into beautiful smiles. — I said as I stroked her head.

Wow, if I said something like that to Aoi now, it would sound very pathetic. But I see that in the past, I was pretty good at that kind of thing.

—Oh, I should thank you. Thank you for getting my teddy bear back.

—Don’t mention it. By the way, what’s your name?

—I’m Aoi! Shiratori Aoi.

—Aoi, huh. It’s a nice name. I’m Amane Yuya. Nice to meet you.

—Yes, nice to meet you too, Yuya-kun.

—…You have scrapes on your knees. Does it hurt?

—Yes, it hurts a little…

Perhaps remembering that she was hurt, Aoi suddenly lost her energy.

—Oh, I see. We’ll have to disinfect and bandage that wound. Are you able to go home?

—Yes, um… Would you come with me, Yuya-kun?

With pleading, teary eyes, Aoi approached me. She was so cute that I wanted to protect her, but leaving with a boy from a park like nothing had happened wouldn’t be appropriate.

—Hmm, well, but first let’s wash your wound. Are you brave enough to endure the pain?

—Yes! I can handle anything!

I proceeded to wash the wound with water from the park’s faucet. The expression on Aoi’s face indicated that she was about to burst into tears at any moment.

But she bit her lip and managed to endure the pain as much as she could.

Just as I finished cleaning her wound, a woman came running towards us. That woman was Aunt Ryoko.

—Aoi, there you are!

—Oh, Mom.

Aoi stepped away from me and ran towards Aunt Ryoko.

Had the pain in her knee gone away when she saw her mother? She seems to be very lively.

“Mom!” exclaimed Aoi, clinging to her mother.

—Finally, here you are! I was worried… Oh, did you scrape your knee?

—Yes, I fell a little… But Yuya-kun was with me, and he took care of me very well. — said Aoi, pulling her mother’s arm.  — Mom, this is Yuya-kun. He helped me.

—Oh, I see. Thank you very much, young man. I appreciate you taking care of my daughter. — said Ryoko, bowing politely.

—It’s okay, it’s the least I could do.

—Oh… Are you Yuya-kun from the Amane family?

—Eh? Do you know me?

—Of course. You are known in the neighborhood as a kind young man. The grandmother next door also told me that you had been very kind to her.

—Oh, wow… I feel a little embarrassed…

—Hehe, that’s right. If you want, come to my house. Let me thank you for helping my daughter. Would you like to have some cake together?

—Oh, don’t worry, I…

—Yuya-kun, are you leaving?

Aoi squeezed my hand tightly and said those words with a tearful expression. This way of unconsciously depending on others hasn’t changed since she was a child.

—Okay, I have no problem going.

—Really? Yay!

Aoi jumped and jumped for joy, with no trace of pain in her knee.

And so the three of us headed towards Aoi’s home under an orange sky.

On the way back, Aoi talked animatedly. She talked about her mother, her teddy bear friend, and her favorite illustrated book. She was very proud of them, as if they were her greatest treasures.

—Oh, I see. Aoi has a lot of things she likes.

—Yes! I like them all!

Aoi’s expression, illuminated by the rays of the setting sun, shone like a shooting star.

That’s how my relationship with Aoi began. It’s a nostalgic and dazzling memory, tinted with the color of that sunset.

 

***

 

Upon waking up, I regained consciousness and saw my dark room reflected before my eyes. It was midnight, and I had just woken up from a dream where I remembered my past with Aoi.

—…I see, so this is how I used to be before. I used to be a great older brother who could protect Aoi. I am far from being the same as before. Now I am nothing more than a shadow of what I was. I have become a mediocre salaryman.

Unlike me, Aoi has changed in many ways, leaving behind the girl she once was.

—She’s such a hard worker…I can’t fall behind. I have to become a proper adult to be her tutor.

…That being said, I feel that my bed is warmer than usual. Additionally, something soft seems to be pressing against my back…

—Huh…?

Unable to help it, I let out a surprised and bewildered cry. Aoi is sleeping while hugging my body. There was no longer a boundary between us, and we were in direct contact with each other. Because of that, her impressive breasts are being pressed against me.

—…Nnnh.

I heard a soft and sweet voice next to my ear. …Could it be that Aoi has woken up?

With caution, I turned my head to observe Aoi’s face. “Yuya-kun…hehehe. I love you so much.” Aoi said with a happy expression while murmuring in her sleep.

This is dangerous. Her words while she sleeps are too adorable. And this softness…Damn! Why is this girl unconsciously seducing me?!

I feel like my head is about to melt. I can’t continue like this. So, I separated myself from her and hastily got out of bed.

—I’m sorry, Aoi. You’ll have to use the bed by yourself.

With great care, I moved my body away from Aoi and headed to the living room, looking for a suitable place to sleep on the floor.

***

The next morning, I woke up to the alarm on my phone and a slight back pain. I had anticipated this, but experiencing it was a different story. It seems it wasn’t a good idea to sleep on the floor, just as Aoi had warned me.

As I lifted the upper part of my body, I noticed the presence of a blanket over me. Maybe Aoi had put it on me in the morning.

—Oh, Yuya-kun, good morning. — Aoi said as she approached me. 

She was no longer in her pajamas but wearing completely different clothes and a pink apron.

—Good morning, Aoi. Thanks for the blanket.

—Don’t thank me. I told you not to sleep on the floor… Is everything okay?

—Of course. I feel happy waking up in the morning and finding someone here. It’s totally new, and I don’t feel as lonely anymore.

From now on, Aoi will be here every morning. It’s a scene I couldn’t have imagined until now.

—Hehe, it’s also new for me. Living in the same place as Yuya-kun feels like a dream come true.

—Hahaha, thank you.

—Yuya-kun, don’t try to escape. I told you sleeping on the floor is not okay.

—I’m sorry.

What a shame. My “laugh it off and pretend” strategy has failed.

—I’m preparing breakfast, so in the meantime, please get ready. Make sure to wash your face and brush your teeth, okay? — Aoi said.

—You’re talking to me as if you were my mother. — I said sardonically while returning the blanket to the bed and heading to the bathroom.

***

—Thank you for the meal.

I said after finishing the food that Aoi had prepared, putting my hands together in gratitude. The breakfast consisted of sausages, egg omelet, and miso soup. Everything was delicious, but the egg omelet in particular was exceptional. It had the perfect balance of flavor, not too sweet, and its fluffy texture was amazing.

Aoi covered her mouth with her hand and yawned softly. “Oh. Couldn’t you sleep last night?” I asked.

—No, I slept well… But maybe I’m just tired from moving. — Aoi replied, rubbing her sleepy eyes. — But I’m okay, don’t worry.

…I see. Yesterday, she didn’t have the energy to unpack either, so she must be very tired. Tomorrow is a weekday, and she has to go to class early in the morning. She’ll surely want to rest today. Although she has to take care of unpacking and shopping, at least she could rest from the afternoon onwards.

—By the way, Yuya-kun, what’s your plan for today? — Aoi asked.

—Well…

I wanted to have a pleasant chat with Aoi at the café, but maybe it would be better to return home after shopping and have dinner together. That way, she can rest peacefully. But seconds after thinking that, I came up with a good idea.

—First, let’s unpack. Then we’ll go shopping at the supermarket, and how about having dinner out?

—Yuya-kun, we shouldn’t spend too much money, you know?

—I’m not going to waste money. We’ll just go to a restaurant.

—But…

—Don’t worry about it, it’s already decided.

—That’s a bit of a sudden decision… Ah. Are you worried about me? Did you suggest eating out to reduce my household chores, knowing that I’m tired…? — Aoi asked, looking at me with a smile.

—N—No, don’t think too much. I just felt like having a steak. Haha… — I tried to disguise my lie by laughing.

Aoi is someone who works very hard. Even if she’s tired, she probably intended to cook even at night. But if she’s tired, I didn’t want to pressure her and that’s why I suggested eating out. We can also have that conversation in a restaurant, and she can rest.

—Hehe. You’re very you, Yuya-kun. — Aoi said with a smile.

—Huh? What do you mean? I don’t understand.

—It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand. More importantly, let’s pack up the dishes and start unpacking, okay?

—Okay…

I don’t really understand the true meaning of Aoi’s words, but she seems to be in a good mood, so I guess it’s okay. We quickly washed the dishes and started unpacking.

—I’ll take care of the clothes, so Yuya-kun, could you handle those heavy boxes over there?

—Of course.

I did as I was asked and opened the designated box. Inside were a lot of books, from novels and cookbooks, to textbooks and Japanese dictionaries.

—Aoi, have you read all these books? — I asked while organizing the books on the shelf.

—Not entirely, but I’d like to have time to study and review them at home.

—Oh, I see. It’s admirable that you study at home too.

—It’s not that big of a deal. The main duty of a student is to study after all.

Aoi expresses modesty, but her face reflects joy at being praised. Although it’s a casual conversation, I think it’s important to know this unknown side of Aoi.

—I’d like to hear more about you, Aoi… Hmm? Is this…?

In one of the boxes, I found a teddy bear. Unlike the one Aoi used to play with when she was a child, this one was new.

—Aoi, where are you going to put this teddy bear?

—Well… We could put Beatriz on the shelf, don’t you think?

—Hm? Beatriz?” I asked, referring to the teddy bear.

From the context of the conversation, she must be talking about the stuffed animal. Don’t tell me… She named the teddy bear?

Aoi notices my gaze and lets out a small “ah,” taking Beatriz from my hands.

—No, it’s not what you think! It’s not like I’m playing house or anything like that.

—Haha. I don’t doubt that. It’s just that I didn’t expect you to give it a name, that’s all.

—Do you think… I’m childish?

—No, not at all. I’ll also call her Beatriz from now on. Nice to meet you, Beatriz.

—That makes me very happy… It’s a relief that Beatriz has other friends that aren’t me. — she said while gently hugging her teddy bear.

Her expression is so sweet and angelic that I can’t help but be fascinated. Aoi grew up in a single-parent family, so she probably spent a lot of time alone. Therefore, it’s reasonable to think that her stuffed animals were her conversation partners at home. That habit of alleviating loneliness still continues, it seems.

…As her tutor, I have to make sure that Aoi doesn’t feel lonely. Although there’s something that intrigues me.

—By the way, why did you name her Beatriz?

—Huh? W—Well…

—Maybe it’s a pun because she’s a bear… Beatriz is the counterpart of Teddy, right?

—T—That’s exactly it… It’s a cute name, don’t you think?!

—Haha. Yes, I think it’s cute.

—Mhm! You’re probably making fun of me!

With her face completely red, Aoi slapped my back. Although that reaction seems adorable to me, it’s better not to say it because she’ll get even more angry.

—Seriously, Yuya-kun, you have to stop treating me like a child. — she grumbles while unpacking her things.

***

We couldn’t finish unpacking all of Aoi’s belongings before noon, so we decided to take a break and have lunch before continuing.

I wasn’t very comfortable with the idea of Aoi cooking, so I thought of going out to buy some takeout food from a convenience store for a quick lunch.

But she was hesitant about that idea, pointing out that I didn’t need to worry so much. After struggling a bit with her, she reluctantly agreed… But deep down, it seemed she was happy that I was pampering her in that way. After lunch, we resumed our work. While we were working, Aoi’s futon arrived safely which meant that we could sleep separately tonight. It was something to be thankful for because I wasn’t sure if I could handle another night of Aoi pressing her breasts against my body.

Once everything was done, we rested for a while and then went to the supermarket together. Although we only came to buy daily necessities and food, Aoi was in a good mood the whole time.

And after that busy day, we were back home with the shopping done, and relaxed chatting.

—Yuya-kun, it’s time for dinner.

—Perfect, let’s go out to eat as we planned.

—Yes, you mentioned that you wanted to eat steak. Just don’t order too much, you’re not that young anymore.

—Hey, that’s too cruel… I’m not that old, you know?

—Hahaha, I’m just joking. Well, let’s go.

While joking with Aoi, we got ready and left the room. We passed through the residential neighborhood and walked along the main avenue. Then we continued walking straight until we reached the station.

As we walked and talked about trivial things, we quickly arrived at the restaurant. It’s a well-known Western food restaurant in the area, and I’ve been there several times. They serve delicious steak here.

The restaurant was quite crowded, but there were some empty tables. I thought it would be completely full due to the time, but I was glad we didn’t have to wait.

The waiter gave us the freedom to choose the table, so we looked around for the right place.

—Oh, Aoi-chan! Yuya-san, how nice to see you here!

Suddenly, someone referred to us by our names.

I looked in the direction of the origin of that voice. And I found in my field of vision a blonde-haired girl whom I recognized immediately, sitting alone at a four-person table.

—Rumi-chan, how nice to see you again.

—Yes, same here.

Aoi and I shared glances and nodded after thinking the same thing. Then we headed to the table where Rumi was sitting.

—Hello, Rumi-san.

—Hello, Aoi-chan, I didn’t expect to run into you two days in a row… Could this be fate?

—I guess so, it’s like a stroke of luck… By the way, didn’t you tell me you were going out with a friend today?

—Yes, well… We were together until a while ago, but then he said, ‘I’m going home for dinner.’ So here I am, having a sad dinner alone. And you two are on a date?

—A—A date…? No, we just came to eat together.

—Even if you deny it, Aoi-chan, I’m sure secretly you’re happy that people see you two as a couple on a romantic date.

—Oh, come on, Rumi-san!

—Hahaha, there’s no need to be embarrassed.

—I’m not embarrassed. — Aoi replied, puffing out her cheeks.

By the way… Although Aoi seems natural talking to Rumi, I also wonder if she gets along just as well with her other classmates. Aoi usually speaks formally with everyone, and I’m worried that there might be some emotional barrier between them. Maybe this is my chance to get some information about Aoi by asking Rumi directly.

—Hey, Rumi-chan, do you mind if we join you for dinner?

—I don’t mind! But… maybe Aoi-chan would prefer to be alone with you, Yuya-san.

—N-No, that’s not true. Let’s eat together. — Aoi replied in a low, childish voice — After all, we live together, so I can endure it for now.

This girl should learn to stop being so unconsciously dependent.

After that, Aoi and I proceeded to sit next to each other in front of Rumi. After looking at the menu, I ordered a steak, while Aoi ordered a rice gratin. Rumi had already ordered tarako spaghetti, and now we’re waiting for our food to be served.

—Hey, Aoi-chi, would you like to tell me how you started dating Yuya-san? — Rumi asked with a mischievous smile.

—It’s not a very interesting story. I met Yuya-kun in a park when I hurt my knee.

—Oh, I see. So it happened when you were little, did you fall in love with your kind older brother since then?

—No, it’s not like that. We don’t need to talk about that. Let’s talk about school.

The conversation topic quickly changed to something that interests me. It’s my chance to intervene in the conversation.

—Oh, I’m very interested to know.

—Thank you, Yuya-kun. I always knew I could count on you.

—Of course, Aoi. Hey, Rumi-chan, would you like to tell me what Aoi is like in school?

—I take back what I said, you’re a traitor, Yuya-kun…

Aoi gave me a threatening look, but I guess she prefers this to talking about love affairs. So she didn’t try to stop the conversation in any way.

—What is Aoi like in school? Well, I would say she’s serious and responsible. I’ve seen how classmates approach her for help several times now, and I myself have needed it too.

—I wouldn’t expect less… And do you get along well with your friends?

—Of course. I have many friends besides Aoi, although she and I are the closest.

—I see. I’m surprised how much Aoi has changed, she used to be big crybaby.

—Yuya-kun, you sound like an old man.

—Aoi, please stop saying those things, I’m still in my twenties.

But before I could protest, Rumi spoke up with an expression of indignation.

—But it’s a shame that nobody has been able to see the real face of Aoi-chi.

—A shame? What do you mean?

—Because nobody realizes who Aoi really is…

—And who is she really?

Does this mean that Aoi has a personality that she hasn’t shown me and that she’s trying to hide under her serious and responsible appearance…? It’s hard for me to imagine something like that.

—Rumi-chan, what is Aoi hiding?

When I asked timidly, Rumi opened her mouth while her shoulders trembled.

—What nobody knows is that… Aoi is incredibly cute.

Rumi slammed the table hard. Her unexpected words left Aoi and me surprised.

—Yuya-san, do you understand me, right? Aoi is absent-minded! That makes her so adorable, don’t you think?

—Ah, in general she is quite responsible, but sometimes she has her absent-minded moments, I suppose.

—See! That’s what makes her cooler and more touching!

—Rumi-san, please don’t shout strange things inside the restaurant, it’s embarrassing.

Regardless of Aoi’s objections, Rumi’s passionate speech continues.

—Listen, Yuya-san. The other day, Aoi was trying to open the door to the science lab. She was pulling it with all her might, but it wouldn’t budge at all. She couldn’t understand why the door wouldn’t open. But that door is the kind that you push! In the end, she looked frustrated and said, ‘Ugh, this door is so hard…!’ And she never even thought of pushing it! Some people would have thought of it after trying once, but she kept insisting, isn’t that adorable?

—That’s adorable… Or rather, funny.

—I know! It’s so funny! Hahaha!

—Yes, it’s really funny… Hahaha.

—…You two. Aren’t we not supposed to make fun of other people’s mistakes?

Aoi said that while smiling kindly. However, her eyes were not smiling and I could clearly feel her killer gaze on me. This is quite creepy.

—Yes, you’re right, I’m sorry Aoi.

—I’m really sorry, Aoi-san.

—It’s okay.

When we apologized, Aoi nodded, satisfied. I think it would be better if we don’t bother her too much in the future.

—Well, let’s try to get along with Aoi-chan from now on.

After saying that, Rumi adjusted her posture and continued speaking in a low voice.

—You see, Yuya-san, Aoi always uses formal language with everyone, and manages to keep a serious expression at all times until you become close to her. Although the new semester has just begun, I have seen a great change in her: she is more willing to make friends, laughs naturally with her classmates, and everyone respects her. So you have nothing to worry about.

After Rumi finished saying that, she winked at me.

—I see… Thank you very much, Rumi-chan. I really appreciate that you’re always with Aoi, and I hope you’ll take care of her always.

—No problem. I trust you to take care of our Aoi too.

—…What are you two talking about? — Aoi asked, tilting her head curiously.

—Nothing important, right, Rumi-chan?

—That’s right. It’s our little se-cret.

—What are you two up to? Tell me, I’m very curious.

—No, we can’t. It’s a secret conversation.

—Mhm! Don’t be mean to me!

Seeing how both of them were having fun together, I couldn’t help but smile.

I was really glad that Aoi had such a wonderful friend like her.

Although, on the way home, Aoi kept pestering me all the time asking; “What was that secret conversation about?” It was a bit difficult to handle, but I managed to trick her.

 

Living with a Beautiful High School Student: A chance encounter after seven years

Living with a Beautiful High School Student: A chance encounter after seven years

Kutabire Salarymen no Ore, 7nenburi ni Saikai shita Bishoujo JK to Dosei wo Hajimaru
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Artist: Released: 2023 Native Language: くたびれサラリーマンな俺、7年ぶりに再会した美少女JKと同棲を始める
Amae Yuya, an office worker in his third year of employment, is completely exhausted by the daily grind. Then, for the first time in seven years, Yuya meets Aoi Shiratori, a girl eight years younger than him who used to live in his neighborhood. She had grown up to be a beautiful JK girl who was good at housework, and she said to him, “Yuya-kun, would you like to live with me under the premise of marriage?” Aoi desperately wants to live with Yuya, her first love. Yuya, who is puzzled, agrees to live with Aoi as a guardian for the time being, but Aoi’s aggressive approach makes him very nervous inside.

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