It has been a few days since I started going out with Sagiri. There have been a lot of changes in the Izumi household.

First, Elf and Muramasa-senpai moved back to Elf’s place and no longer live with us. And – surprisingly – they haven’t come back even once since then.

Because we had all been living together for a while, I felt a bit lonely.

Also, about the fact that both of them were not currently involving themselves with us, Sagiri said:

“…Suspicious.”

She always seems to be on guard, but I think she is over thinking it.

Elf told me that her manuscript’s deadline is approaching, and senpai is probably busy with her work too. Since they both helped me a lot lately, I need to repay them appropriately.

That was what I thought.

Another change is about Kyouka-san.

After I started going out with Sagiri, I planned to tell her immediately, but —

“Sorry, Masamune. I won’t be home for a few days —“

But she sent us that message before I could. Her reason was “work related”. What exactly does she do for work? She has never told me.

Anyway, for now, we are unable to tell her.

In other words, right now, it is only us and Makina-san at home. That’s our situation.

But, one day, when the living room’s clock announced that it was now two pm…

“Masamune-san Masamune-san Masamune-san Masamune-san!!”

Makina-san yelled my name and rushed inside.

Allow me to reintroduce her once more.

Aoi Makina – she is the scenario writer who is working on our Sekaimo anime project.

Since she ate a lot of Elf’s delicious cooking, she became more and more developed recently. I don’t mean her personality, of course.

 “Masamune-san! Something terrible happened!”

Every time I see her well-developed chest, I feel something burning in my chest — I have an urge to grab her body.

“Makina-san? What’s up? I haven’t seen you since this morning –“

I took a handkerchief and walked up to her.

“My guess is that you took a step on the scale and became aware of the horrible truth, huh?”

“Right right, my weight increased – no wait! I told you not to talk about a girl’s weight!”

“To tell the truth, I really hope that your body and strength won’t be negatively affected because you lived here, so can you lose some weight?”

“You were so blunt…! Both of you are so cruel to me!”

She cried. It seems that she took a heavy blow.

The truth is, while she can be called “developed”, she isn’t fat.

I pulled her back to the original topic while ignoring her protest.

“So, in that case, what’s so terrible?”

“Spring anime! Spring anime!”

It’s still summer, but Makina-san said something unexpected.

“Spring… that’s when Sekaimo is scheduled to air.”

“Yes! I told you that there is an anime that I wanted to beat with Sekaimo!”

She did.

“But I hope you don’t turn our work into your weapon to fight with your opponent.”

“I refuse! To me, my highest priority is seeing that girl crying in frustration.”

Are you a child?

…Still, it doesn’t matter.

It was a joke conversation anyway. I have already known Makina-san’s objective since I went to her apartment.

“I don’t really care, as long as you do your best for our grand project.”

“I will do that even if you don’t tell me!”

She raised a fist, full of spirit.

Me. Sagiri. Director. Makina-san. And other members. All of us are working to make an anime.

But each of us has our own motives.

Someone wants to see his little sister smile. Someone else wants to beat her rival.

And maybe – there is someone who just wants to have a good result to show off.

Every one of us has our own dreams and wishes. But all of us want to make an interesting anime.

Because of that, even if we all live very different lives, we can become trust-worthy coworkers.

Even if the goal each of us has is different, none of that matters.

Let’s all make the anime with whatever goals give us the most motivation.

That’s what I thought.

“And then!”

Makina-san continued:

“Today, I went to see her! I was half reporting, and half spying on her, though.”

“So?”

 Elf, Muramasa-senpai and I have all done that before.

Makina-san replied:

“It’s scary!”

Too short to understand. But if she is so restless…

“You mean 「 it looked good 」?”

“Yes! Way more than I expected! We were talking while eating, and then she began to boast about her anime! She was gathering talented team members! Um, her anime is Elf-chan’s best seller…err, its name is…explosion something?”

“The Flame of the Dark Elf?”

“Yes! That’s the one! She is making the anime of that novel!”

“Well – seems like it’s worth looking forward to.”

It will probably be an interesting anime. The original novel is a famous comedy series; now they are getting a talented group to work on it too. They will turn the reader’s imagination into reality.

“I’m now interested. I’m going to read the original manga of it.”

“That is our enemy!”

Makina-san threw an Edomondo ***** style’s karate chop at my head. (TL Note: Edomondo Honda is a character from the street fighter series)

“Ouch! What are you doing?”

“Don’t praise our enemy’s work!”

“She is your enemy, not mine.”

I have said it before, but other novelists are not really my enemies. It’s true that we are competing against each other, but my primary objective is “my dream”. I won’t get into a pissing contest with others.

If someone like Elf or Muramasa-senpai is in the way of me reaching my dream, then I will face them head on.

In short, I hope that “even my rival’s work will be successful”. I want to read more interesting stories.

My opinion was the total opposite of Makina-san’s.

“Ah ~ damn it ~ she looked so full of herself that it really pissed me off ~~~!! I will have to do something about her director! If I can stab her in the back….!”

My trusted coworker is complete trash. What a pity.

Makina-san emitted a black aura, and glared at me:

“The scenario was written by the original author themselves, so it’s super ~ interesting! All of their members are professionals, which made me jealous!”

If even Makina-san said so, then they must have real talent working on that anime. A talented anime making team plus the original author wrote the scenario. I see. A strong opponent.

“She told me that all of the scenarios are finished! Even though they are planning to air in the spring!”

“Is that fast?”

I’m not sure if that counts as fast or slow.

“Super ~~~~~~ fast! Normally I need until winter to finish writing all of the scenarios.”

“And that speed is considered…”

“Normal! That’s a normal speed! Don’t look at me with an 「It’s because you work too slowly 」 look!”

Even if you said winter – does that mean November or February? There is a three-month difference in those cases.

I could already guess what her reply would be…but I’m not worried.

Because…

“So, Masamune-san, sorry, but I’m staying at the company from now on! I have to beat her as a professional scenario writer!”

She is motivated now.

She can’t do it alone – no matter how hard she tries. But that’s fine, because she is not alone. There are coworkers who will help her make an interesting anime.

“This is such a nice place. I have good meals every day; my room was cleaned every day. I have people who care for my daily needs…”

A very hikikomori-like response.

Then, she put a hand over her chest and said in an unusual tone:

“More importantly, this place gave me so many moments of inspiration. I have taken every bit of material I can from you two. All I need to do now is make good use of it.”

“Makina-san…”

“Eh, don’t say something like 「 see you later 」. I will feel lonely.”

Makina-san turned around and was about to walk out of the room. I called after her:

“I proposed to Sagiri.”

“Eahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!?????”

Makina-san jumped in shock: she clearly didn’t expect that bomb. What a pity, she was about to make a cool exit.

“Hey, did I scare you?”

“I almost died! What the hell? No, seriously, what the hell? What do you mean, you proposed to Eromanga-sensei? Are you guys going to get married? That’s totally different from the plan I heard! Tell, tell me more!”

Makina-san was fired up by this news; she rushed to me and grabbed my collar, demanding answers.

“Didn’t you say that you got all of the material you needed from us already?”

“Don’t be such a bully! A marriage between brother and sister would be very interesting! I’m fired up even more than the moment when my rival taunted me!”

She totally forgot that she was about to make a cool exit and pressed me for answers.

“I, I will answer your questions, please release my collar!”

I spent the next 30 minutes telling Makina-san (who was excited) about what happened since I proposed to Sagiri.

So, when she left for work, she said this with a smile:

“I never thought that this would be my farewell present…! It’s not just my victory…now I’m going to get this victory for both of you too!”

We are on the same boat, but each of us has our own part to play.

“Then I’m going on ahead! If there is a development in your love story or something interesting happens, make sure to tell me!”

It’s now August.

There are only eight months remaining until the Sekaimo anime airs.

Inside the locked room, I spoke with Sagiri about how Kyouka-san and Makina-san won’t be here in the near future.

“ – So, starting today, it’s just the two of us.”

“I see…so we are…alone.”

Sagiri said from under her hood. Even when facing me, sometimes she makes such a hard to read expression. Her eyes were dancing around, her face reddening.

Considering her attitude, I think she felt a bit lonely and — embarrassed?

Thus, I decided to eliminate her loneliness first.

“Recently, it was so lively here. Everyone gathering, eating, and talking. It would be lonely if they suddenly don’t come anymore.”

“…Um.”

Sagiri slightly nodded. I tried to continue in a cheerful tone:

“Still, it’s okay. We just return to how we used to be. We used to live together: just two of us.”

“…Um…but.”

This time, she shook her head instead of nodding.

“But? What’s up?”

“…We…are not how we used to be…ack…because…we are…going out…”

“..Ah.”

Now I understand the reason Sagiri is acting strange.

She looked totally different. Her lips look like they’re inviting me!

“This is the first time we will be living alone together…since we became a couple.”

“————“

Lighting struck my body. I could feel all my blood rush to my head.

I forcefully pushed those abnormal thoughts down, and answered in a normal tone:

“Yes. Yes it is.”

“Um…what to do.”

“What —“

You asked me what to do? Are you asking me what to do? What do you want me to do? Am I over thinking this?

“What…do you mean?”

“Since we are alone now, there are many more things that we can do now….”

“……….”

Since what she implied was a bit ecchi, I could only freeze and say nothing.

“…So, I want to try that.”

“..And 「 that 」 is?”

“…Practicing!”

Sagiri clenched her hand into a fist and said with conviction.

“…Practicing….*Gulp*…”

What exactly does she want to practice while we are alone in this room? I swallowed hard, awaiting her reply.

She said:

“Because we are alone, I…want to try… going out of this room.”

“Oh —“

“Try to live a normal life…to go out…”

My impure thoughts disappeared.

“So that’s what you meant when you said 「 practicing 」.”

“Um, because there are only eight months left until the anime airs… I want to practice…so…” She paused, “And then, when our dream comes true, we will go out together… outside.”

“…Ha ha…”

Ah, it really is – the best prize.

Even though online dating is fun too, just thinking about how I could go with Sagiri to a hot spring, to a beach, or to a park made me happy.

Bring Sagiri out of her room and watch our anime in the living room. That is our dream. What Sagiri suggested just now will happen afterward.

While I was focused on reaching our dream, Sagiri has already started planning further into the future.

“Then let me think of somewhere I want to spend time with you.”

“Um! First, we need to make a successful anime.”

“That’s right.”

We wanted to make an interesting anime. We wanted to watch it together. We wanted to be able to laugh without worrying. We wanted to forget all of our misfortune.

That’s how our dream began.

We did our best in making our anime for that purpose.

We will practice for it.

That’s how it is.

“So…how should I do it?”

Sagiri asked again. This time, I don’t misunderstand her.

“Let’s see…asking you to 「 go outside 」 would be difficult…so how about we began with 「 a normal lifestyle 」?”

“Um.”

Sagiri’s eyes shone. Seeing how motivated she was, I raised a finger:

“First, come here.”

I brought Sagiri to the living room. Just seeing her slowly walking down the hallway, and slowly coming down the stairs, made me want to cry.

“..Wh, what are you looking at?”

She pouted in embarrassment. I said:

“…It’s just, I’m so moved. Seeing you can come out of the room, I mean.”

“Eh? But it’s not like I’m some sort of special animal or anything. Didn’t I come here once in front of you?”

“But that was a special case. When we were living together, you only come out in some very special cases.”

She never walked around the house this much before.

“….You can come out of your room now – it’s great.” I sighed, my emotions running wild.

Opening the living room’s door, Sagiri entered.

“….Are you that happy?”

The sound the door made when it opened almost made me unable to hear her.

We stood face to face in the living room.

“Let’s practice living a 「 normal lifestyle 」.”

“Sure!” Sagiri said, full of vigor. “So what should I do?”

“Let me see your own 「normal lifestyle 」 for now. You can just act like I’m not here. ”

“Sure.”

“Yes. Just act normally.”

“…Is that enough?” Sagiri blinked.

I nodded.

“Yes. I’m interested in how you act when I’m not around.”

“……………You pervert.”

“Eh?!”

Wait, was it something I said?

“When I’m not home, do you do something perverted?”

“That’s not what I meant!” Sagiri blushed and refuted me.

“So what did you mean then?”

When I asked that question, she meekly looked down.

“…If you went outside…I would take a bath.”

“Oh – I see..You took a bath huh…”

“You, you are thinking of something strange!”

“No no no, I’m not!”

Don’t make it harder for me! Of course I would be thinking about something strange.

I coughed and tried to change the topic:

“I don’t need to see you take a bath. But what would you normally do after you took a bath?”

“Un ~”

Sagiri put a hand under her chin, deep in thought. Maybe she couldn’t think of anything, so she sat down on the sofa.

Then, after a while, she looked up:

“Er…cleaning up, I guess?”

“Um ~ yeah, sometimes you helped me clean up the house too.”

I was so surprised to see the house cleaned up while I was gone. There was a time when I got worried when I saw something that was not where I had left it

“But after living together with Elf-chan…I realized something.” Sagiri said “What I was doing before…was meaningless. Those things…can’t help Masamune at all.”

Well…she was right. Regardless of whether Sagiri cleaned up or not, I still had to clean the house every week, so my workload more or less stayed the same.

“I felt happy thought. I got the feeling like – Ah; it’s good that Sagiri helped me with the housework today.”

“…I think that’s the relationship between a kid and a guardian…not an equal.”

She looked into my eyes.

“…Starting today, let’s split the housework between the two of us.”

Just like when Elf-chan was here. As an equal. That was what she meant.

I nodded

“Got it – I’ll leave it to you.”

“I hope you can show me how to clean up properly.”

“Of course. Still, I have already finished cleaning for today, so let’s try again tomorrow. We can clean up together.”

“And…if possible…teach me how to cook.”

“Cook? You want to cook?”

“I want to…cook for my boyfriend.”

She glanced at me while answering. Her reply made my heart skip a beat.

“…Can’t I?”

“Of course you can. I will teach you everything I know.”

“Awesome!”

She clenched her hand into a fist, and made a victory pose.

“Actually…I want to practice in secret…then surprise Masamune…”

But I’m the only one she can be with when she is out of her room. So she can’t exactly ask Muramasa-senpai or Elf.

“This is good enough for me. I’m lucky that you decided to ask. Because cooking together will be very fun.”

“Is…that so?”

“Yes. Absolutely.”

So, we decided to start our cooking lessons while making dinner tonight.

“Normal life style practice sessions” – began one by one.

“After cleaning the bathroom…what next?”

I asked a question. Sagiri said, a little full of herself:

“Exercising.”

“Exercising?”

That…took me by surprise.

“By exercising…you mean…like, physical activity?”

“Of course…Why are you so surprised?”

“Because you are Sagiri. I didn’t think you and physical activity would become friends.”

“…How rude” She pouted. “You…really don’t understand hikikomori at all.”

She glared fiercely, and said:

“Exercising is necessary in order to make sure I can stay as a hikikomori as long as possible.”

“Oh?”

“Since I spend all my time inside the house, if I don’t exercise my body will weaken over time.”

“Who knows? I’m not a hikikomori.”

“It’s common sense for a hikikomori. Remember that.”

Who would need that kind of common sense?

“Not only hikikomoris, even illustrators are the same! Anyone working from home has this problem. If you don’t exercise, sooner or later you will get sick.”

“Sick?”

“Like diabetes, arthritis…”

“So an adult-like sickness?”

Are you an old man?

“But…those things…isn’t a bit too early for Sagiri to worry about those?”

I don’t want to have to worry about those!

Sagiri gave me a meaningful gaze:

“Besides, if you don’t exercise….*whisper whisper*”

I didn’t hear her very clearly, but I can guess what she said. That…must be her real reason for exercising.

I said carefully:

“I see. If you don’t exercise, you will turn into that person.”

“Yes. You will turn into Makina.”

It might be rude to say it, but she means that she “will become fat”. And, because recently Makina-san was so rude to us, I don’t say anything.

“Now that you mentioned it, I think that last year, during autumn, you got fat too.”

“Ah!”

She had a “this guy still remembers” expression on her face, but she pretended like she didn’t know what I was talking about.

“I, I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Have you forgotten? Because you ate too many of Elf’s snacks, you got fat.”

“Wah wah wah!”

She yelled, trying to end this topic. But I’m the only one here, so that tactic won’t work.

Seeing that her plan failed, Sagiri made a fuss.

“So what of it! That’s why I have decided to exercise.”

“Fine fine, this is a good thing after all – okay, now, let’s exercise.”

I stood up and got ready.

“Eh? Right here, right now?”

“I have said – 「 try living normally in front of me 」– haven’t I? Besides, I wanted to exercise too.”

“Um ~ it’s true that Masamune doesn’t exercise enough.”

“Yeah.”

It’s too soon to worry about those illnesses, but exercising is not a bad thing. In order to write a good novel, a good body is required.

Sagiri thought about it for a moment before agreeing with me. With an Elf-like-voice full of pride, she said:

“Got it! Izumi Masamune! Welcome to my training camp!”

“Yes! I’m in your care! Captain Eromanga!”

“I don’t know anyone with that name!”

And so —

Eromanga-sensei’s boot camp began.

“BGM – start!”

The music started. Sagiri stood in front of me in the living room. She had taken off her hoodie and was wearing a short T-shirt instead.

“Welcome to my boot camp! Today we will be doing heavy, intense exercise!”

“Sir! Yes sir!”

Looks like it’s going to be a joint-training session.

While it’s clear that she is copying from a certain movie, Captain Eromanga is really cute. To tell the truth, if she sold a Blu-ray disk of this training exercise for ¥50.000 (~ $450), I would gladly buy one.

“Are you ready!?”

“Sir! Yes sir!”

I stomped my feet and responded to her.

“We should be using a rope to work out, but a hikikomori couldn’t possibly use one, so we will skip that part.”

“Sir! Yes sir!”

Didn’t you just say it would be a special, difficult program a moment ago?

The training continued without my question being answered.

“Raise both of your hands above your shoulders! Clap your hands together!”

“Sir! Yes sir!”

“Ugh…what an extraordinarily hard exercise! But don’t give up!”

I didn’t tell her that it’s not hard at all. If this were a movie, then we would have only barely started the warm-up.

“Good! Keep it up…hah…phew….”

“Sir! Are you okay?”

“Ah…hah….phew…!”

Captain, you get tired too fast!

Captain Eromanga suddenly started getting slower. Then, she finally came to a stop, breathing hard. Raising a hand, she said.

“Stop. Ten minute break…!”

“You can only last for a minute?”

It’s way too bad no matter how you look at it.

“Ha ha…Impossible….I knew it, it’s still too early for intense exercise…”

Sagiri fell to the floor. Now I see. So that’s her definition of “intense exercise”.

“Ha ~ ha~ I’m gonna die ~ I’m dying…give me a sports drink…”

I think that compared to the energy that your recent “exercise” burned away, a sports drink contains even more calories.

“Here.”

I gave a towel and a can of a sports drink to her.

“How about we just do normal exercises instead?”

“Yeah, let’s go with that.”

And thus, we gave up on our boot camp and returned to “Sagiri’s normal exercise”

I couldn’t believe it myself, but Sagiri managed to do one sit up. How impressive.

After that, we took turns taking a bath before returning to Sagiri’s room.

Because we were practicing a “normal lifestyle” – after exercising is working in the room.

Yup, it’s the truth. It’s Sagiri, after all.

Today, I brought my notebook to the locked room and worked in there. By the way, I was fixing the anime scenario, making changes to volume 6, and supervising the games…

Some of you might ask: didn’t I finish all of that already? But those things wouldn’t be completely finished just because I worked on them once. They will come back a lot.

Write a manuscript => Fix it => Change it => Write it anew from scratch. That’s how it usually goes.

It’s not like I can be lazy just because I have a girlfriend. Nor would I be distracted by seeing my girlfriend in pajamas after she took a bath.

“What are you doing, Sagiri?”

“I’m supervising the anime’s character designs today.”

“Ok ~”

While I, Izumi Masamune am the original author of Sekaimo, the one who takes care of character design is Eromanga-sensei.

From the beginning, this is how we have worked: Izumi Masamune writes the novel. Then, he gives it, and the basic character descriptions, to Eromanga-sensei, so she can create the first sketches of the characters.

After that, the author, the editor and the illustrator hold a meeting to finalize the character designs. Then Masamune will fix the character descriptions in the original novel.

Above is how a character is “designed”. And now, Eromanga-sensei is supervising the “anime’s character designs” based on the “original novel’s character designs.”

From behind, I looked at Sagiri.

“Director Amamiya just emailed me asking a question. She asked what kind of underwear this girl is wearing under her pajamas. I just sent her a reply.”

Hopefully it would not be something impure.

“So you have to check even that too huh.”

“Of course. Otherwise, there would be some angle where you can’t draw the character.”

“Oh, is that so? So, what’s your reply?”

“Nothing!” She said with pride

“An answer like that means that there is no angle where you can’t draw her?”

“Nope. She just wears nothing.”

Eromanga-sensei wouldn’t lie. As the original illustrator, she will stand her ground on this part: no underwear.

“The figure maker also asked about this issue many times, — but she wears nothing under her pajamas. I will absolutely not allow her to wear underwear.”

“How troublesome. But I can understand your feelings!”

Everyone has something that they won’t yield on no matter what.

“I know, right!”

“While I do understand… what about the others?”

“Ah, the director just emailed me again.”

She opened her email. There was a new email plus an image attachment. It showed the female lead in pajamas.

“I understand, Eromanga-sensei – is this what you meant?”

“Yes! Yes it is! This is how it should be!” Eromanga-sensei clapped furiously “As expected of director Amamiya, she totally understands the truth about underwear!”

“…Even if I have read the script regarding this part, I still have no idea what the truth about underwear is.”

Even if she didn’t wear underwear, she still had her pants on.

“Hm….an outsider won’t be able to understand …”

Sagiri massaged her temple, and continued:

“Let me give you an example. Thankfully I’m wearing light pajamas right now.”

She got off the chair and got down on all fours. Then, she pointed her ass at me and explained in a serious tone: “You can understand like this: If my character doesn’t wear underwear, there would be noticeable difference outside…And since she also wears light clothing, you can clearly see her curves, right?”

I took another look at Eromanga-sensei’s example:

“Yeah, I understand that wearing underwear would be problematic.”

So that’s what the truth about underwear is.

“That’s right! In order to make the female character purer, I make sure she does not wear —“

Still lying face down, Sagiri turned to me and caught a reflection of her own image in the mirror. She blushed immediately

“What pose are you making me make?”

“You are the one who made that pose on your own!”

Sagiri didn’t listen to me and hastily got up, hid in her blanket and spoke to me from it.

“Forget what you just saw! Forget everything!”

“That’s impossible.”

“Then you have to make an erotic pose too! I’m not getting embarrassed alone!”

“Don’t speak nonsense!”

And so —

We continued our work

Some time passed. We both worked in silence without noticing the other.

Even if my lovely girlfriend is next to me, I still maintain my focus. Inside the locked room, there was only the sound of my fingers on the keyboard.

Do you remember that a few days ago, Kagurazaka-san asked me to create a big climax in my novel to coincide with the airing of the anime?

What I am doing is adding that “big climax” into my manuscript. I have to rewrite about 40% of the story – but when I actually get into it, it doesn’t take a lot of time.

I’d like to say “my fingers already know how to fix it”, but the truth is it’s just my habit. I was so focused on my work that I only noticed the time when my phone vibrated, showing me that it was now 5:00 pm.

“Wow, it’s so late. I should go buy something for dinner.”

Since Elf and Muramasa-senpai weren’t here anymore, I have to cook myself.

Oh, and I also had a promise with Sagiri.

And, if possible….teach me how to cook.

“Sagiri, do you want to cook with me?”

I looked up and glanced around, trying to find her.

“I’m going to buy something for dinner —“

Is there something you would like to eat? I was about to say that, but I stopped myself.

“ —-“

Because she was …sleeping. On her bed. Seems like she fell asleep while I was working.

“Zzzzzzz…”

Her breathing was slow and steady.

“What a girl. She doesn’t even have her blanket on.”

I smiled and watched her. In that moment, my heart felt warm. I can feel that what I was chasing after in the past is right in front of me now.

….I want to be with you for eternity. It would make me very happy.

When I came back to reality, Sagiri’s lips were inches away from my face.

“…*Gulp*”

Wake Sagiri up, then go buy food for dinner.

That’s what I should do, but my eyes refused to move.

“………..”

Slowly, I drew myself closer to the sleeping girl.

“……….”

My heartbeat was getting faster and faster. I could almost hear it in my ears. She is my girlfriend. We are going out. There is nothing wrong with it – a devil is whispering to me.

There was less than an inch left until I touch her lips —

“Wow —“

I managed to force myself backward, away from Sagiri.

“Wow, wow…dangerous…so dangerous.”

Because Sagiri is “my little sister”: this was a barrier in my heart before. But now, she is my “girlfriend”, so my lust is getting harder and harder to control.

Still….

“I have to keep myself in check. 「Now 」 isn’t the time for me to do that.”

I hugged my head in shame. From an outsider’s POV, what I almost did is a crime.

Thankfully there was nobody here aside from me and Sagiri —

“I saw it.”

“Yahhhhh!!!”

A girl’s voice came from behind me. I nearly jumped out of my seat in shock.

Turning back, it was – Elf. She must have come here via the balcony again – wait, now isn’t the time.

“You, you…since when did you…”

“Since the moment you spoke, right before you almost kissed her.”

She said so with a grin, her smartphone clearly visible in her hand.

“What a pity. I would have gotten a good picture.”

“Hey!?”

“It was a joke. I planned to stop you too. But you moved too fast so I’m not sure if I could have made it in time.”

“I…I…Sorry for acting that way.”

I got off the bed and stood in front of Elf. She glanced at me:

“Yeah right. Even if both of you like each other, you shouldn’t do that. If you really kissed her – I would really look down on you.”

“….I don’t have anything to say.”

Looks like she is mad. Elf’s tone was unbelievably cold and harsh

There was a moment of silence, and then I took a breath. The atmosphere relaxed a bit.

“Still, I trust you. Even though you hesitated… you won’t do something like that to a girl you like.”

I don’t know how I should respond to that. Anyway, I was so embarrassed. It’s like my girlfriend found out about my porn stash – no, it was even worse than that.

“Elf…you…why are you here today? I haven’t seen you recently, and now you suddenly come via the balcony like this.”

“Why am I here? Hmmm~” She smiled “Can I tell you only half of the reason?”

“Do you really have to ask me directly like that?”

If I said yes, does that mean I’d like to be lied to?

“I meant that while I won’t lie, I won’t tell you the whole truth either.”

“Okay, fine.”

Hearing my answer, Elf nodded:

“The reason I came here…well, it’s like this…” She said without a care in the world “I came to disturb your love nest.”

“Simple and easy to understand. Wonderful.”

“Ara, don’t you feel angry?”

“No: because it’s you. I always thought that you will definitely come. Since you didn’t, I was feeling down lately. I thought that you didn’t worry about me.”

Of course, about that, Sagiri said “No way. Suspicious.”

“Of course I will come. Since…the one I like is staying with his girlfriend right next door…that makes me unhappy.”

Elf looked a bit down, she was muttering to herself. It was rare to see her talking without meeting my eyes directly.

She looked down and said in a tired tone:

“It’s painful.”

“………….”

I – the one who rejected her confession, the one who decided to go out with Sagiri – said nothing.

I don’t have that right. So, all I could do was listen.

“There was something that made me unable to come here for the last few days…I don’t want to talk about it. Simply put….”

She glared daggers at me:

“I and Muramasa got into an argument. Because of you.”

“……..”

“You don’t want to hear it, do you? You don’t want to know the details.”

“Yes I do…if there is anything I can do to help, then I will listen…”

“There is nothing you can do, so I won’t say anything.”

“……..Is that so?”

“How should I put it…Muramasa…that girl’s way of thinking about love is totally different from mine, so we couldn’t agree on anything. As a master of comedy style light novels, I planned to trick her with words, yet this time she managed to resist me. How troublesome, Senjyu Muramasa-sensei.”

Whatever was said between them left a bad taste. I can see that Elf is very displeased.

“That girl has her own way to deal with this situation, but she wants to use a wait-and-see method for now. I can’t accept that, so I made a move on my own – that’s why I came here.”

Elf made a *bang* sound, and made a shooting motion with her right hand and showed an evil smile:

“Masamune, you owe me one, correct?”

A critical hit. There is no way I could ignore it.

So I answered her:

“Not one. In the recent months, you and Muramasa-senpai helped me a lot.”

“Right, right.”

Elf nodded. I told her what I truly thought:

“Not just helping me with the anime: before that you were a source of positive influence on me. It’s thanks to you that I can be here right now.”

“…Wh, what? That much?”

“Yes.”

We bet on Eromanga-sensei and decided on the winner

She showed me a different method of working, a different point of view, and allowed me to work with motivation.

After my parents passed way, Sagiri became a hikikomori…that was the most difficult period of my life. It’s her light novel that made me laugh again.

And then…

She likes me. She never stopped showing her affection toward me.

“No matter how many times I thank you, it wouldn’t be enough. Thank you very much.”

“Er..Hm, I have heard your thanks to the point it became boring.”

She always told people to thank her, but whenever I do, she gets flustered and clearly embarrassed.

Elf is that kind of girl.

“Oh damn! You made me strange again! Why don’t you say something idiotic? Like a certain light novel main character?”

“I have told you before; I’m not a light novel character.”

How many times have we had this conversation before? More than once, that’s for sure. But I don’t hate it.

“So, what’s next Elf ? You must have had something in mind when brought this up.”

“Yes.”

Elf looked very displeased. She probably doesn’t like it when I take control of the conversation.

“Please listen to a single request of mine. Then, consider everything you owe me fully paid.”

“Got it.”

“Hm, of course you won’t say yes before hearing what my request is – er? You accept?”

Looks like it was outside of her expectations. She yelped, which made me nearly jump in shock too.

“…Don’t be so surprised. If it’s for you, I will do anything.”

“…Will do…any…anything?”

She was the one who said it, but Elf asked with a hint of fear. I nodded again.

“Yes. No matter what it is that you ask. I owe you that much.”

“…You….don’t say something so stupid…what if I…make a weird request?”

“Will you make a weird request?”

“How could I! If you trust me that much, then I won’t make such request.”

“Is that so? That’s good to hear.”

“Kuhhhhh!! Today you are so strange.” Elf glared, then pointed her finger at me “Anyway, prepare yourself! Because I will ask for a grand repayment!”

At that moment, her smart phone vibrated.

Without a word, she looked at the screen – probably an email – then continued:

“Wait until my manuscript is finished. I will tell you then!”

Seems like it will still be quite a while until it is time for the “grand repayment”.

And then —

The sun has set. It’s now night. I was sitting in the living room after eating the meal I cooked with Sagiri.

Nearby, Sagiri was smiling.

“…You look like you are having fun.”

“You noticed?”

“Yup…so, what’s up?”

You know the answer already.

“Because 「 cooking together with Sagiri 」 is something I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t.”

“…..”

“That’s why I’m having fun.”

“…Is…that so…then we should have done this sooner.”

There was more than one meaning to those words. I nodded with her.

“Next time…together with Kyouka-san…let’s eat a meal together.”

“Um.”

“Today Kyouka-san….is not coming home?”

“She just emailed me and said she is on her way back.”

“Is that so…then..ack…”

Every time we mentioned it, we felt our faces getting hotter.

“Let’s tell her. Tell Kyouka-san…that we are going out.”

“…Okay.”

Sagiri flushed, her body squirmed.

“…What will Kyouka-san say… once she knows that we are dating?”

“She will feel happy for us.”

Maybe…she will give us her blessing with a smile.

“Because for us, she is like another mother.”

She is like Sagiri’s second mother, and my third mother.

“…Um.” Sagiri nodded.

Then, silence fell in the room.

Neither of us is very talkative, so sometimes our conversations stop.

We aren’t bothered by it. Rather, we feel…safe and comfortable.

But for a couple, it should be an obstacle. Still, I don’t want to lose this moment of calm.

“Un…”

Sagiri opened her mouth to say something. I motioned for her to speak.

“Before Kyouka-san comes back…I want to give it a try.”

Without needing to ask, I already understood what she meant.

“You mean – try going outside?”

We both walked toward the entrance.

“….*Gulp*.”

Standing in front of the Izumi household’s main entrance, Sagiri took a deep breath.

We had a very typical front door. You could find it on any home in the city. But for her, this door is a big, huge wall.

It has been two years since she became a hikikomori. During that time, she has never left the house. She couldn’t even open this door.

“…Are you alright?”

So, it’s safe to say that I’m more scared than Sagiri. I think that if it is too hard, she shouldn’t force herself to try it.

“Um.”

She smiled at me, her face a little pale.

“I…have practiced…many times…so, Masamune…you stay here…and watch me.”

“…Got it.”

I got Sagiri’s shoes out. I bought her new shoes every year – each year, a different kind.

Just seeing the shoes, Sagiri broke into cold sweat. She turned white as a ghost.

“Kuh….”

Her whole body trembled; she couldn’t even take a single step. It’s like she saw something horrible in those shoes.

— We are going out.

— We will come back after buying some gifts.

Did she remember them?

I covered her eyes, and gently said.

“That’s far enough. Sagiri, you have done enough.”

“…Ha…ha….ha.”

She dropped to the floor. It took a while for her breathing to stabilize again.

Looks like…she is fine. For now.

“…I can’t do it.” She muttered “When I practiced by myself…I could touch the door.”

Probably because today she honestly wanted to go outside. That’s what scared her so much…maybe.

I put a towel on her head.

“But this is already an improvement.”

“….No.”

“It’s okay.”

She couldn’t even leave her room before. But now she can come down stairs with me. If this doesn’t count as an improvement, what does?

Sagiri simply is not ready yet. But she is trying. For me, that is enough.

“Alright, we should go back to your room —“

And rest.

I was about to say that when the front door’s handle moved.

“!”

With a crack, both I and Sagiri turned back. Kyouka-san, in her Western style clothes, entered.

Izumi Kyouka – my father’s little sister; also our guardian.

She probably didn’t expect to see anyone at the entrance.

“I’m home- —“

That’s all she managed to say before pausing.

“…Ah? Ma, Masamune? And…?”

She blinked, took another look at me, then at Sagiri; her eyes widened.

“Sagiri?”

Of course she would react that way. To see the super hikikomori Sagiri at the entrance isn’t something you see every day.

“Welcome home, Kyouka-san.”

Anyway, I should greet her.

Sagiri also slowly moved behind me and greeted her as well.

“…Wel, welcome …home.”

“Um…I’m home.”

Kyouka-san’s jaw dropped in shock. She rarely shows any emotion, but it’s clear that she was very surprised.

She looked at me, asking for help:

“Masamune…this is…?”

“Recently, Sagiri can come down even if I’m home. Just now we were trying to see if she can go outside.”

“Sa, Sagiri wants to go….outside?”

“She can’t do it yet, but she was trying to – right, Sagiri?”

I asked Sagiri. Still hiding behind me, she nodded furiously.

She is not exactly afraid of Kyouka-san, but meeting someone else outside of her room is still too much for her.

On the other hand, Kyouka-san is very moved.

“…Isn’t this great….!”

“It is.”

I answered in Sagiri’s place.

“Ah…I couldn’t….you guys praise me too much….”

Sagiri was embarrassed, but she has a reason to be proud.

Kyouka-san still couldn’t calm down yet; she said:

“Oh, right right! If that’s the case, we have to celebrate! I’m going to buy a cake!”

“Ah, Kyouka-san, wait a moment!”

Before she could go out again, I grabbed her hand.

I can understand that our relationship changed since we solved our misunderstanding, but is she, I don’t know, like us?

“You can’t. You are tired after working all day.”

“But, but Sagiri tried so hard! I…I should do something!”

Kyouka-san flushed, but didn’t give up. Seeing how cute my aunt was made me smile.

“How about I go instead?”

She immediately took out a ¥10.000 note and gave it to me.

“Masamune, please buy the best cake you can with this money!”

“Do you want me to buy a wedding cake?!”

I highly doubt any nearby bakery sells such an expensive cake.

“I don’t need this much money…er…is a simple cake fine?”

“Don’t forget a chocolate card that says 「Congratulations, Sagiri 」.” Kyouka-san still kept talking.

“I understand.”

I smiled. Sagiri pulled on my sleeves.

“Um, yes, Sagiri?”

“…Tell her…”

“Oh right —“

There is something else much more important than buying a cake, so I spoke in a somber tone:

“Kyouka-san…there is something important we want to talk with you about.”

“With me?”

“Yes.”

“..Wh, what is it?” She looked a bit scared.

…Probably because of “that”.

Eromanga — beam!!!!

She must be remembering that time. Because of our request, Kyouka-san was put into a very embarrassing position.

“Ah, no. We are not asking for anything strange, don’t worry.”

“I’m fine! Just tell me if you need anything! As long as it’s for you two, I will become Eromanga-sensei any time.” She reassured us.

What a trustworthy person! Considering what she went through, I realized how much she loves us.

“Thank you very much. But we don’t have a request this time. There is just something we want to tell you.”

“Tell me?”

“Yes. Well, er….We are – going out.”

I told her the truth. She….

“ —–Eh?”

Froze.

“Er…Eh? Did I …mishear? I think I heard you say something about going out…”

“You are not mistaken. I’m going out with Sagiri.”

“———-“

Her eyes widened. That reaction was outside of my expectations, so I was a bit taken back.

Anyway, she must be very surprised, right?

With an expression that screamed “I don’t get it”, she said:

“From the beginning. Explain everything to me. Clearly.”

“Okay okay.”

She did not hate us. She is also not angry. I know that she is a very gentle person, but her aura still scares me. I was trembling while I explained everything.

How I and Sagiri love each other.

How I fell in love with her at first sight.

How I confessed with my novel, then she rejected me – how it was a misunderstanding.

Sagiri also liked me.

How I and Sagiri knew each other even before our parents remarried.

How we are fated for each other.

And —

“I proposed to her. I told her — please marry me.”

“…………..”

Kyouka-san’s expression didn’t change. She just listened to me silently.

“…What was her reply?”

Sagiri answered her question:

“I said…I can’t marry him now. Then, I confessed to him. I said…please go out with me…and then I asked him to…someday in the future, please make me his bride.”

“That’s how – we are going out.”

I finished. Kyouka-san closed her eyes without saying anything, likely thinking about what we just told her. After a few minutes, she opened her eyes, and said:

“In other words…you two are going out as a man and a woman…and you want to get married in the future, correct?”

“Yes”  *2

“And you are telling me…because you want my approval?”

“Because you are the only one I can ask to 「please give me your daughter 」.”

Sagiri has long cut off her relationship with her biological father.

So, her only parent now is Kyouka-san.

Likewise, she is my only parent left.

So “getting Kyouka-san’s approval” is a very important step for us.

I understand. I will give you my blessing.

That’s what I thought she would say. But…

“………NO.”

“….?”

What did she just say?

Kyouka-san said; her voice trembling.

“I can’t accept either – that you two are going out or you two getting married.”

She glanced at us, her face pale.

“………….”

Our jaws dropped. Both me and Sagiri. We didn’t expect that she would object.

— After hearing what Sagiri said, reading your novel…I have a feeling that letting you two continue living alone together is very dangerous.

It’s true that she was being cautious about our relationship, but…I didn’t it would be that extreme.

The Ice Queen’s aura covered both of us in fear.

— Now is not the time to be afraid.

“Can I ask you…the reason?”

I tried to stop my body from trembling and asked.

Why did she object to us going out and getting married?

Unless we know why, there is nothing I can do.

“…………”

Her gaze became sharper: Her eyes fixed on me, deep in thought. After a moment, she finally said —

“…………The reason —– I cannot say”

“…What?”

Now it was my turn to be surprised.

“Cannot say…that…what’s that mean?”

“Exactly how it sounds. I will object to you going out with her, and I will not say why.”

“How could I accept that –“

“I know.”

Like she was suppressing her emotions, Kyouka-san continued:

“You two are still children. Just listen to the adult.”

“What…”

“ — If it was me from before, I would say that.”

“Eh?”

Suddenly, the pressure lessened. I’d say that she looked tired.

She, tiredly breathed out, and said:

“You two….sorry, but there is no way that I can give you my blessing.”

“…Why?”

Sagiri asked, like she was talking to a small child.

But Kyouka-san tiredly shook her head.

“…I don’t want to say it.”

“…………” *2

Both Sagiri and I looked at her. We already realized that there must be a significant reason for all of this.

We felt that we had touched upon something that Kyouka-san was trying to hide.

“Kyouka-san…what do you mean, 「I don’t want to say it 」?”

“Masamune…I love you two…very much. After what happened, to see that we have a normal life again, talking, living together…. 「all of this」, it makes me very happy.”

 “We feel the same too, so we hoped you could…”

“That’s why I cannot say it.”

She interrupted me.

“That’s all I can tell you.”

“…………..”

Does she mean that if I push this, I would be risking 「all of this 」?

“…Masamune.”

Sagiri looked in my eyes.

“…I got it.”

Mine and Sagiri’s thoughts about Kyouka-san should be the same. So I spoke in the place of my clumsy sister.

“We both like you very much, Kyouka-san. Living together every day…we are very happy.”

“…Masamune.”

“So we should make you happy too. We don’t want to be just going out or just get married. We want happiness.”

I took a step. If 「all of this 」 is destroyed because of it, then fine.

“Please tell us what you are hiding, Kyouka-san.”

“………”

She didn’t answer. Instead, she looked at us with pain in her eyes.

Izumi Masamune, Izumi Sagiri, Izumi Kyouka.

This family. This three person family.

“Our current relationship” is about to end.

She looked down, and slowly said:

“Masamune…you once asked me — Why did I decide to take care of you two.”

“….Yes.”

“The reason that I can’t give you my blessing, and the reason that I take care of you two, is the same.”

“….You mean —?”

That was unexpected. Our eyes widened.

Kyouka-san began to speak like she had given up on everything.

Meeting my eyes, she said: “Because I killed your parents.”