It is the end of Golden Week along with the turbulence that came along with it. Something happened on a certain day in May at 10:38pm.

 I was glued in place with a smartphone to my ear. The man on the other end is my old man. He probably just told me something shocking, but it was so sudden that my brain couldn’t process it.


I opened my mouth apprehensively.
“Pops…..Can you repeat that again? I couldn’t hear you.”
“Hm? Is the signal bad? You heard about your cousin ,Kanon right? It’s your Aunt Shouko’s daughter. I want you to take care of her for a while.”

“………………………….”

I was speechless.
The forced laughter typical of variety shows, permeates from the TV that was left on and dominates the room. His request was truly a bolt out of the blue for me.

<><><><><><><><> 

“Haaah…..”
An audible sigh naturally heaves out as soon as I hung up the phone. I slumped against the back of the sofa and down my half-drinken cheap beer in one go as I listen intently to the background noise of the news. The beer had already gone lukewarm and the carbonation has almost fizzled out so it tasted awful.
Glancing sideways, I look at the wall clock, and saw that it was just after 11 pm.

I’m once again reminded of the conversation earlier.

My pops had never called me at this time of the night before so an ominous premonition flitted through my mind. At first, I wondered if my hospitalized mother’s condition had deteriorated further. However, he told me something I could hardly have imagined.  Made aware of the circumstance, I wrapped my head around it.

And so——

I accepted Pops’ request.

Though I had no real reason to refuse, my mind was still reeling it in.

“Living together with a high-school girl, huh. No way…….”

Kanon Kurachi.
Even though she’s my cousin, I’ve hardly even met her.
Her mother—-Aunt Shouko—–Is a so-called “Single Mother” so she was probably busy with work as she rarely visited. That’s why she didn’t leave much of an impression with me except that she was the girl who hid behind her mother, meekly saying her greetings.

If I’m not mistaken, the last time I met Kanon            was New Year’s Day on my 3rd Year of high-school. It’s been 8 years. I recall, it was when my aunt gave me a gift in celebration of my graduation.

I think she said Kanon was a 3rd grader back then…..yup it matches, she would be a high-schooler alright.


Kanon visited just today actually…..Apparently, Shouko-san has disappeared.  She’s been gone for 3 days so I was wondering if you knew where she was. It looks like she’s been a free-spirited kind person even back then so Kanon has been surprisingly nonchalant about it…….But living in this day and age, a high-school girl living by herself is definitely a problem in and of itself. But as you know, Kazuki, your mom is admitted in the hospital right now. I on the other hand pass by the hospital frequently on my way home from work so frankly speaking, I can’t in good faith watch over her. With that said I want you to look after her at Kazuki’s place. Kanon’s school is closer to Kazuki’s condo than here.”  

I once again rack my brain over what pops told me earlier.
My aunt had suddenly vanished. Various questions such as “why” or “whether or not a missing person report had been filed had popped up, that I couldn’t ask. No, it would be more apt to say that I wasn’t given the time to ask.

”In any case, I need to clean up………..”


The words “Living together with a high-school girl” carries with it an urge to do some late night tidying. Since I wasn’t expecting to invite others in at all, the room looks kind of miserable. Considering the time, I couldn’t do any large-scale cleaning, but it I should at least scrounge up all the empty cans and garbage that’s strewn around the table and stove.

One by one I crjsned the cans, putting it in a translucent supermarket bag thereafter. It was a pain dealing with the empty food container due to its bulk. I regret using up all the garbage bags a few days ago and haven’t replaced it yet.

<><><><><><><> 

The next morning, I’d just finished putting on a tie when the intercom rang.
I spent about an hour last night cleaning up so I’ve had a little less sleep than usual, however, there was a bigger reason why I couldn’t sleep well.
I stifle my sleepy voice and answer it—

“Yes?”
“Errrr…….is this Komamura-san’s residence?”

The owner of the voice inquires fairly confused, possibly because I haven’t identified myself.

“That’s right. And could you be—-“
“Kanon”
Although it has matured quite a bit since she was a grade-schooler, the voice was undoubtedly Kanon’s. I was a little skeptical that the request last night was a hallucination caused by my drunken stupor but she really did come.
Incidentally, there were no cameras on the intercoms here. It was only a two-way communication by voice.

“Pops told me already. Let me get the door for you”

I turn off the intercom and immediately head for the front door. Taking a quick, deep breath I then turn a key on the door.

It should be fine. I wiped off the dust on the floor all the way through last night so there shouldn’t be any problems. I don’t know why I would be bothered by the question “Is it even a good enough room?” at this point in time since it’s too late to do anything about it now even if I’m worried.

With determination, as I push open the door I see a girl dressed in uniform standing there. She had a petite stature and a dark green blazer complimenting her brightly dyed hair. Uwaah….No matter how much I look, she’s how I would picture a modern high-school girl. Her appearance when she was a grade-schooler in my memories is wildly different now. Honestly, I was a bit shaken.  Well, she is a high schooler. You can’t help but want to dress up in various ways.
But her uniform though………
I wonder why my eyes are sucked in by a high schooler’s uniform. 
“Ahh~….uhmmm…..it’s been a long time, sir.”

Nervously, Kanon’s gaze wanders around and makes an awkward greeting.

When others are nervous one can’t help but feel calm as a result.
Okay then! This should be the part where I show off my dignity as an adult. Although…I’ve never been conscious of that myself up till now.

“Come on in. Let’s get you settled in for now.”

Nice one. I didn’t choke on my own voice.

Following my words, Kanon walks into my doorway. For a moment I felt an eyebrow crease, though I don’t know the reason why.

She takes off her shoes and properly orients it.

“First off, the luggage. You can just leave it as you please for now.”

“……Sure”

With a murmur, she follows me from behind. Was my pretentious greeting earlier seen through?  When she entered inside, the formal tone suddenly disappeared so I was a bit upset.  As expected of a high school girl. I know it’s too late to notice now but… Her “luggage” consisted of only a Boston bag and a schoolbag which I felt was scarce for a girl her age.  She must have brought the bare minimum.

“Have you had breakfast yet?”
“I’ve eaten bread from convenience store in front of the station.”

The reply was more blunt than before.

Is……Is she wary of me? To be honest I don’t even know how to treat girls around my age either. I only ever had a younger brother, also back when I was a student, I couldn’t relate to my classmates’ older-younger sister duo talks. Even if she is a high-school girl, first and foremost, she’s family.

I’ll eventually get used to it right? Probably.

In any case, I felt a bit relieved at Kanon’s reply. About the only thing that passes for breakfast here is a loaf of bread. The only other things in the fridge are bottled water, cheap booze, and then eggs,  kimchi, and dried squid. Even I can understand that it’s not a good idea to let a high school girl eat kimchi and squid in the morning.

My eyes then met with Kanon.

She stares at me in silence, then surveys the room and finally looks back at me again.

Her eyes are by no means “warm”. In fact, they feel rather cold.
“I-Is something the matter?”
Did she see something unpleasant? But I did do my best to clean last night, so she shouldn’t be able to see anything weird. There should only be ordinary furniture and normal household items….I think.
“…….It’s nothing”

She then averts her gaze, giving off a frank “I have nothing more to say to you” vibe.
I really don’t understand…….

Dealing with a high school girl is difficult huh……

The time then suddenly occurred to me, so I look at the clock.
………I should get going soon or I will miss my usual train.

“It’s time for me to go now.  Do you know how to get to your school from here? Want to go to the station together?”

“No, it’s fine. I have a smartphone. So far, it was enough me here too.”
Kanon replied indifferently as she drags her finger on the smartphone’s screen.  Seeing as how her finger seamlessly glides across, she’s probably more familiar with its operation than I am. The only thing I use it for is for games, out of habit, and the occasional phone call from my colleagues.

“I guess that is enough to get by. Let’s talk in detail once I get back. That said though, I’ll probably go home late so I’ll give you a duplicate key.”
I gave Kanon the duplicate I found last night while cleaning.
“…….Thanks”
It’s only her words of gratitude that gave a small feeling of tenderness.
She immediately puts the key in her wallet, most likely to not lose it.

“Bye then, let’s just talk about it more once I get back.”
“……Yeah”
After the brief conversation, I turn my back to Kanon and left the house.
Would I be able to get along with Kanon at this rate?
A sudden wave of anxiousness attacks me, I couldn’t help but think about it now.

——Anyhow, I should return as soon as possible if time allows it. It’s not a particularly busy time for me anyway. I walk down the hallway as I resolve myself.

The morning sunshine casts on half of my body. Today’s sky is clear and cloudless, but the forecast said it was going to rain in the evening. Oh well, it wouldn’t matter anyway if I get home by then. I immediately forget about the weather and push the elevator button.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><>


It’s 5pm.
The chime that signals the end of work echoes through the office. I had already cleaned up my desk and stood up at the same time the sound ended.
“Hey,Komamura. You want to go for a drink later?”
My co-worker Isobe, tells me, as he yawns sitting on his chair.

“No, I’m  going home”

I might have gone to if I didn’t have any prior plans, but Kanon should already be waiting for me at home. I’d already decided this morning to go home at end of work today.
“I suppose you should.  You look like you’re ready to leave already. Later then.”

With the chair at his back, Isobe stretches his hands and waves a goodbye. He doesn’t press on for a particular reason as he’s invited me several times now and it wasn’t uncommon for me to refuse. There’s a high chance I’m thought of as a moody person. Though I couldn’t really disagree. But I didn’t say no today because I  just didn’t feel like it. I purposely didn’t bother to say the reason. It would definitely have been a hassle if I had told him.
I then quickly left company grounds without looking back.

<><><><><><><><><><><>

Unlike this morning, the evening train was crowded. It seems that several trains stopped due to an accident.  Because of this, the number of passengers were of a higher volume than the usual evening crowd. Though not as much as the morning rush hour, there was still enough for people’s bodies to touch the front, back, left and right. There was a lot of people chatting in the train car, so it had become quite noisy.

I was holding at the strap near the doorway, and had been absent mindedly staring at a headache medication ad when the car swayed side to side with a huge jolt.
The head of a middle-aged man in front of me had hit my glasses, slightly misaligning it. I quickly align it back up with one hand.

The middle-aged man didn’t show any sign of looking back or apologizing. I was a bit pissed but it wasn’t enough to get me prissy about every little thing.
Saying anything unnecessary these days, would just cause one to get caught up in strange things.  I don’t want to get involved in anything troublesome.
I calm down, and try to look back at the ad in front of me again but…..
(………….Hm?)

I then felt a sense of discomfort.

It’s something that I normally would have overlooked, something really trivial, but I had this unfounded uneasiness.  
In front of the middle-aged man who butted heads with my glasses, was a young girl standing with her back faced to him. With her body and hands and body in close contact with the entranceway, she created the feeling of a slightly cramped atmosphere.

It was an ordinary scene you could often see when it was crowded.
However, her face’s expression faintly reflected in the glass pane looked a little unusually tense.
(Now way…….)
I once again look at the head-butting middle-aged man. His distance to the girl  looked very close. Since it’s crowded, the close distance was unavoidable but even so….the true identity of my discomfort it—–
“A molester, huh?”

But I couldn’t see the middle-aged man’s hand from my position. The body of the large man next to him formed as a perfect wall.

What can I do?
……No

I don’t do anything. It’s possible that this is just a simple misunderstanding. If that was the case, I’d be giving the man an undeserved social death. There was also the chance that he would go on a frenzied rage.

That’s right. I’ll pretend I didn’t see anything—
But my eyes met with her at the right moment.
It was a girl next to the glass doorway.

Her expression is strained. It looked like she was about to complain about something. At that moment, Kanon’s face came to my mind, with her frank replies.

The girl in front appears to be the same age as her.

……………………..

Was it five seconds? Ten? Or maybe even 30 seconds.
I didn’t know how much time had passed but I was worried.

For some reason, the longer time passed, the more my feelings of not wanting to leave her alone grew.

What would I have done if she was Kanon?
Wouldn’t I have moved without hesitation?
I look to the glass window again. She had shut her eyes tight as if she were resisting.

The guy was a molester, no two ways about it.

I decided to grab hold of the man’s shoulder.

“—-Huh!?”

The man’s shoulders shook and looks back at me.

His eyes opened wide and met mine in astonishment.

He had a look of fear in his face, thinking that he wouldn’t get caught.

But, then-

The train came to a halt with a thud.

The jolt almost knocked me over, causing me to remove my grip on the man’s shoulder.

Damn it. We’ve arrived at the station!

Soon after, the door opened, the girl descended to the platform in a flurry. Following suit, the man got off the train to escape.

I then chase after him.

Unfortunately, the station platform in the evening was crawling with people.

The man easily slips through the waves of people an in no time manages to disappear further in. I swiftly try to follow but as if on cue, a ton of people poured out of the train that arrived so I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted.

It was impossible to chase after him with the amount of people here.

“Shit”

A cry of regret reflexively leaks out.

I let him escape……….

But what is with that speed anyhow? Was he used to it?

I was there when I got reminded about the girl.

She was standing in the middle of the platform, stunned.

Judging from her pale face it was as I thought. The man from earlier was “Guilty” I’m sure of it.

It’s true that healthy thighs extended from her short pants, but it was common sense that it wasn’t something you could just touch.

“Are you ok?”
Calling out to her, her shoulder’s shudders in surprise before she turns around.

“Ah!? Ah, Y-yes”

“I could be mistaken but…did he touch you?”
“Yes….he did……Molesters really do exist huh…..”

Just now, a wave of guilt hit me.

If I properly got a hold on him, I could have caught him red-handed and handed him over to the station attendant.

“Do you want to go report that geezer’s characteristics to the guard? I could give a testimony.”
“Eh!? No, it’s fine, really.”

“But….”
“Thank you very much for realizing it though. It was the first time that’s happened to me so I was caught off guard but…….I-I’ll be sure to speak up next time!”
“But you may not be able to get off scot-free next time.”
“Th-that may be true, but….. Uhm, It’s really fine, you don’t have to report it! It’s really really ok!*

She is adamant about it for some reason.

Even if she’s ok with it, the other women using the trains later on but…..

There’s no reason for me, an unrelated person, to go so far.

Should I abide by her request and not inform the staff?

It doesn’t sit well with me though.

“If you go so far as to say that then…… I’ll leave it at that.”
Punishment would come for that geezer sooner or later.

After leaving it all up to God, I line up on the platform.

Naturally, the train I had gone onwards during the talk so I had to wait for the next one.

Speaking of, I needed to get home quickly. I had completely forgotten that Kanon was waiting for me at home.

“Eh? Uhm, you weren’t supposed to get off this station?”

“Yeah”

“So it wasn’t just my imagination that our eyes met through the glass……..Thank you very much going out of your way for my sake.”

She snappily lowers her head.

He shoulder-length hair smoothly falls forward.

I wasn’t really able to help her, so she didn’t need to thank me.

It had become somewhat uncomfortable, so could only touch the back of my neck in response.

“And, uhmm, I don’t want to presumptuous or anything but I do have a favor to ask of you…….”

“Oh? Did you want to go to the staff after all?”
“No, that’s not it……..”
She then clasps her hands together in front of her chest and—–

“Er…Just for today is enough. Can I stay with you for the night……?”  

With moist eyes, she made an indecipherable request.

“———————Hah?”

I grimace unintentionally with all my strength.

<><><><><><><><> 

By the time I stepped out of the station, the sky had completely gone dark.

As I hurried home, the girl from earlier had trailed close, diagonally behind me.

I haven’t successfully shaken her off since then. I couldn’t take advantage of the crowd because less people where using the station I use than the others. I tried running along the way, but since I just suddenly burst off a lot of energy, my endurance wasn’t able to keep up and she eventually caught up.

Even though I hadn’t done any sort of exercise since I was a college student, I still felt a light sense of woe at my declining strength.

I guess I couldn’t run like this anymore. Lately, I’ve developed a bit of a beer belly……I keenly feel that I’m slowly becoming an old man.  

I look back at the girl again to shake off the sad reality.

<><><><><><><><> 

“Hey, I really think it’s better for you to head back home……”

“That’s the last thing I would ever want to do.”

She replies with an obstinate expression.

………She’s a piece of work alright.

I’ve already said the same thing countless of times since the start, and her response had been exactly the same ever since.

I was going to take her to the police station, but decided against it because I could easily imagine me being put under the spotlight if she spouted bullcrap like, “I was molested by him” or “I was asked to perform sexual acts” or even “ This man is lying” and the like. Although right now, I couldn’t feel anything of the sort from her, you could never tell with a person just based on looks. I wouldn’t be surprised if she did a complete 180.

Me or a young girl.

I don’t have to think hard to know whose side the cops would take. I think that Japanese society could treat men kinder and not get punished for it but…reality is ruthless isn’t it?

But this is a problem. How do I get her off my tail? Should I try running at full speed again?

Just as I was pondering over it, I felt a cold sensation at my head so I reflexively look up at the sky.

Oh yeah, rain was forecasted for this evening……

“…….Hypothetically speaking, what would you have done today if you hadn’t met me?”

My curiosity suddenly peeked outside so I tried hearing her out.

“Hmmmm. I would probably sleep at the park under a bridge somwhere.”

She declares quite indifferently.

“So that means you wouldn’t ask some other guy right? Then tell me. Why would you ask me of all people?”

 “If I had to say a reason, with just an eye contact on the train you already tried helping me…….. So my gut feeling tells me that kind of person is a good one. Plus the glasses helps make me think you’re an earnest person.”

“W-well even if that was true…… How do I put this… You’re “gut feeling” could still turn out wrong.”

I follow up with tiny sigh.

I don’t know if I should chalk this up to recklessness or naiveté.

Well, it’s not that I feel bad with a high school girl telling me that I “look like a good person” but this is this and that is that.

Hasn’t she seen the news about underage girls becoming victims?

It wouldn’t be strange if she got caught up in that sort of case at any time, so I’m a bit dazed that the idea had completely passed her mind.

“What’s your age anyhow?”

“Me? 16. I’m a 2nd year high-schooler”

So she was a sophomore. I thought she was a bit more on the side of…………No. Now’s not the time to remember that.

“A 2nd year running away from home? Isn’t that a bit late for a rebellious phase?”

“That……may be so. I’ve endured things for so long— I couldn’t take it anymore……”

“Were you nagged at on a lot or something?”

“It was something important to me. Something that’s tied together with my dream………had been thrown away.”

Saying so, a self-deprecating smile surfaces on her lips.

My heart fluttered puzzlingly stirred at that moment.

It felt like the things that I have locked deep inside my chest that I didn’t want anyone to reach had been touched upon.

And with that sort of timing, we’ve arrived in front of the condo building.

The rain was strong enough to soak through my shoulders.

“Uhmm… Even the entranceway would be fine. I can sleep there. So even if it’s only one ni—”

“What’s your name?”

“Eh?”

“Name”

“Eh, uhm, I’m Himari.”

“Well then Himari. You can stay at my place just for tonight. But only for tonight. Yup, just this night. If I throw you out in the rain just like that and you get pneumonia or what not because you got soaked while sleeping at the park, then I wouldn’t be able to rest easy. So stay. There is no other reason. I’ll allow it if it’s just for this night.”
 I was insistent with my assertion that it was “Just for tonight” but that would definitely get my point across.

Although Himari’s baffled face was frozen for a while, she eventually heartily bows down with a smile like a flower in full bloom.

“Just tonight is ok with me! Thank you so much! It’s a big help! Uhh Mr…….”

“It’s Komamura”

Himari giggled for some reason when she heard my name

“…….Is there something weird?”

“Nothing. It’s just that my intuition was right after all. Komamura-san turned out to be good person~”

I don’t know what I looked like at that moment, but I probably looked as bitter as the time when I ate a bitter gourd for the first time in my life.

<><><><><><><><><><><><> 

Himari and me stood at the doorway like a stone statue, unable to move.

I have never been more disgusted at my own carelessness than I was today.

Why didn’t it cross my mind that Kanon and Himari would end up batting it out…….?

No. Aren’t there too many anomalies happening to me in one day?

That’s why just like tokoroten being pressed out, I couldn’t help but forget this morning’s events…….

To begin with, I only ever remembered Kanon once while at the station.

Kanon was just as petrified as us for a while. But then, with doubt written over her face, she stares at me at utters a short line.

“Is she your girlfriend?…………Are you a lolicon?”

Those words gouged my heart far more than I expected.

But as if she wanted to drive the situation further in the mire, Kaname also opens her mouth—

“Could she be your live-in girlfriend? Eh? But the uniform…… A high schooler? Eh? You had such tastes, Komamura-san…..?”

“She not my girlfriend. Okay? Both of you calm down and listen up. None of you are my girlfriend. These were just unavoidable course of events. This is only a coincidence. So calm down, capiche?”

No, I’m the one farthest from being “calm”.

But how can I be calm when I’m suspected of being a lolicon?

My preferences are an adult woman who has a hint of sexiness about her and looks good in black stockings. Someone who looks like she would spoil me rotten would be the crème de la crème.

The two of them are the direct antithesis to that.

No, if I would be put at gunpoint and say whether youth is a negative factor then that’s not the—

Wait! What the heck am I thinking!?”

And why did I even end up in a scene of bloodshed situation where a man gets caught cheating?

What am I even getting about?

…….Ahh crap, I really don’t understand.

“Let’s just go inside for now and I’ll explain there, ok…?”

I don’t know if my honest to goodness confusion got through but, Kanon is a bit dumbfounded as a prompt to get inside the house was made.

I’m the landlord of this unit but it was as I was under the illusion where our roles are reversed.

<><><><><><><><><> 

“……………”

After I finished explaining the details of the story this morning, silence fell in the confined eat-in kitchen.

Oh yeah, since I don’t have chairs enough for three people, we were all standing up.

Needless to say, standing up in your own house talking to other people is a surreal experience.

“So you forgot about me”

Kanami sulked in a murmur.

“I’m really sorry……..”

There was nothing else to do but apologize.

No one would feel good about being told that their existence was forgotten.

Moreover, Kanon arrived just this morning. This was the first day that she’s jumping into a completely different environment.

Though it is a first for me to….

Yet if my cousin said “I forgot” about me then I’d be upset.

“Uhm…..sorry…..I guess I should—”

Maybe it had become uncomfortable for her so she began to quietly retreat.

And then—

*groooooooooowl*

A loud sound of hunger resounded out.

The owner of that sound was immediately apparent. It was because Kanon had turned bright red and looked.

Hunger huh…… It reminds me that I’m quite famished too.

“I….I’m hungry but…..”

While still looking down, she said so with a pouting voice.

*Ah*

I let out a tiny gasp at her words.

Shopping had entirely slipped my mind.

It was all because of Himari but I’m not going to make excuses.

I knew I had no decent food here since morning.

“Sorry. I’ve completely forgotten about shopping with all the confusion…… I’m going to order pizza but would that be ok?”

“No it’s not. If there’s no food then it can’t be avoided then. I could go shopping right now but……There’s no supermarkets or convenience stores here right?”

Yep. This neighborhood is entirely residential. It takes 20 min to go to the nearest convenience store on foot.

So summing it up, it’s a 40 min walk.

That’s why the rent is relatively cheap. So even when my brother had left, I could still live in a 1LDK apartment.

“It’s pouring hard outside, and honestly, it would be troublesome to go outside…..Also, when checking out the fridge earlier, there were hardly any ingredients that could be made into a meal.”

“Eh…? You checked the fridge?”

“It was because you took too long to get home. I was hungry, so I thought I should cook up something up.”

“I…..I’m deeply sorry for that”

“Sorry……….”

Himari follows suit and apologizes with me.

“You don’t need to apologize anymore…….I just want to eat something now. Hurry with the order.”

At Kanon’s voice,  I brought out the pizza flyer I had saved and unfolded it.

I usually throw them out as soon as it’s in the mailbox but I had set aside one of it just a week ago, thinking that I should at least set one of it aside just a week ago.

I pat myself in the back at my magnificent maneuver.

“I haven’t had pizza before……”

I couldn’t help but get fixated at Kanon’s murmurs.

“Really? Not once….?”

“Yeah”

I see. Well it is true that it’s not easy to get into a situation such as getting a pizza when two females live together.

“Then choose one you like in celebration of your first pizza.”

“……Thanks”

And Kanon gravitated towards too……The most expensive deluxe pizza, the one where you can enjoy all the popular flavors all at once.

Isn’t this girl overestimating the financial power of a salary man?

Even I have never ordered something like that before.

<><><><><> 

Moving into the living room, we briefly did self-introductions again as we wait for the pizza.

Kanon’s luggage, which was left on the chair in the dining room this morning, was now haphazardly placed on the side of the sofa. Next to her own luggage, Kanon is sitting on the floor, knees raised and bundled together.

I could almost see the inside of her skirt, so I quickly look away and sat down on the couch.

I wish she would be more careful but stopped as I don’t feel this was the right time to point it out.

“Err…. Himari, was it?

When Kanon called her name, Himari, who was sitting upright in seiza facing her, quivers in surprise. 

“Uhm, Y-yes”

“Why did you run away from home?”

It was as refreshingly direct as it gets. Is this the conversational ability of a high school girl?

“Emm… you see, I have a dream in mind but my parents were vehemently opposed to it. I didn’t listen to them for the longest time, so I didn’t get along with my parents ever since middle school……..”

Speaking of which, she did say that the tools intertwined with her dream had been thrown away.

“And next year, there’s my university exams. Seemingly enough, my parents want to stop me from going down that road. But I didn’t want to…… So I just ignored them and worked hard towards my dream but—”

“What is your dream, anyhow?”

“Eh? Ummm…. It’s becoming an illustrator……….”

Himari whispers to herself and looks down in embarrassment.

Kanon meanwhile has a look on her face that says “I don’t really get what it is, but isn’t that amazing?”

I was in the same shoes as her. However, I do have an inkling of knowledge that being an illustrator is not a stable job.

“A-anyways…My parents weren’t kind to the prospect— So they threw away all my tools I’ve collected so far without my permission. It wasn’t just my analogue tools like my brushes and paint, but even my drawing tablet……”

“They dumped it without permission?  That’s definitely cruel of them to!”

Even if you are a parent, it’s certainly going too far throwing away your kid’s belongings without their input is a problem.

If this was a couples’ situation, that would be enough to cause a divorce. I saw it on the internet.

“It was so sudden— It was a tipping point…. So I left home”

“I see…… So that led you to aimlessly wander around.”

 “I-I was actually going to rent a room by myself! I’ve saved up a lot of New Year’s money! I was going to let them see that I could do it on my own. That’s why I went to a real estate agency but…… I was told that minor’s needed permission from their parents….”
“Ah—…..”

Himari looks like a docile person but it seems like she’s the assertive type.

But even so, she lacked a crucial part. It’s rather a shame.

“In my dejection, I stayed in a hotel for a while but I ended up running out of money in no time at all….And on the train, I was wondering what I was going to do from then on….”

“And that’s when we met.”

Himari nods.

“What do you plan on doing now?”

“Hm?”

Once again, Kanon’s question is straightforward.  It was something I wanted to say anyhow, so in a way that helps.

“You don’t have anywhere to go right? Do you want to go back?”

“I-I’d like to avoid that at all cost…..”

“But you’re a minor. No matter how much you don’t like your parents, isn’t it still a better choice to go home?”

“I-I get that. I didn’t even know how much of a child I am…. I didn’t even know I couldn’t rent a room by myself after all.”

I didn’t know if her indignation was directed at me, or perhaps herself. Himari puffs up her cheeks.

I want to say that doing that sort of thing is what shows how much of a child she is but I refrain from saying anything that would affect her mood any further.

“But I still don’t want to go home even now……..I can’t urge my feet to face homeward……Thinking about home is very painful for me…..”

“Theeeen, how about staying here for a while?”

“Eh?”

“Ha———!?”

Kanon’s words startled me even more than Himari did.

“Wait, what are you deciding on your own for?”

“Weren’t you the one that brought her back here?”

“Yeah but…. I just felt sorry for her spending the night outside in the rain.”

“Isn’t that what other people commonly say to the police when they get caught?”

“*Gahack*———-!?”

She was right.

And also regardless of the circumstance, fact of the matter is, I brought a minor home with me. It is a legitimate crime in today’s society.

“If a missing person report is filed, and the police find her with me then—”

Things that I didn’t want to think about keep surfacing up. Chills instantly spread throughout my body.

“Ah, I think it would be okay. My household cares an awful lot about keeping appearances……I don’t think my parents could stand it if word got out that I ran away.”

“No, what kind of family…..”
“Well that’s……I can’t really say, sorry…..”

She cast down her eyes, seemingly in agony.

Is she a young lady from a well of place……? She isn’t going to turn out be a daughter of a politician or something is she?

This is getting more and more dangerous.

Am I really going to be ok?

“A-at any rate, It’s hardly anything newsworthy.”

“Then you should definitely stay here.”

Why does Kanon keep deciding on her own? This is my house you know.

I was about to raise my complaint, when Kanon beat me to the punch.

“I’ve never lived with a man before….. So maybe it would feel calmer and happier having Himari around……”

Those could actually be Kaname’s true feelings.

She didn’t look in my direction. Is that her way of saying sorry?

I clammed my mouth shut when I was about to speak up again.

Kanon’s household had always only consisted of her single mother. My aunt never remarried.

In other words, she’s never experienced what it’s like to live with a man.

Yet, now she’s living with her cousin that she’s hardly even met who’s a stone throw away from 30.

It’s a dramatic change in environment for Kanon.

This was the first time Kanon’s anxieties really hit home for me.

One could easily imagine it with just a little thinking.

Was that the reason for her cold attitude this morning?

And as fate would have it, Kanon and Himari are the same age.

Would taking in Himari be better for Kanon?

“I understand how you girls feel but….. You see…. If it gets found out I’ll…..”

“Naturally, I will fully cooperate so that it would never be found out.”

“M-me too!”

The two of them lean forward as much as they can.

I involuntarily furrow my eyebrows.

But, there was no way I could come up with a solution that would satisfy everyone in an instant—

“…….Well, if two are going to go that far then there’s no helping it I guess……”

Their faces lit up at my reply, and the two of them smile at each other.

They are the same age after all so they are quick to open up with each other.

“Please don’t worry. I will never let Komamura-san become a criminal!”

If there was an adult who would honestly be reassured at that, then they surely must be really laid back or just a simple fool.

But it seems I’ve somehow become said fool.

Oh well, I don’t think that changing the number of people l’m living with from one to two would change much….

Or at least I’d like to think that way.

But honestly, even though it’s just a little bit, a small part in the corner of my heart is excited at the prospect.

Living with two high school girls….

If my brother were here he’d make a quip like “Where do I get this eroge!?” at this situation.

I have a feeling that my ordinary life was about to completely be thrown out of the window. And so began my peculiar life cohabiting with two high-school girls.

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