‘Ah, Orino-senpai. Good day.’
‘Same to you, Kurisu-chan.’
‘Are you the only one here today?’
‘Yeah. Ah, but Kagoshima-kun’s bag is here, so he’s probably somewhere around. His bag was already there when I got here, so maybe he went to the bathroom?’
‘Is that so.’
‘… Hm? Kurisu-chan, what’s that shady-looking bottle in your hand?’
‘Oh, this is a magic potion that was delivered from a friend over there.’
‘… It kinda really looks like the sort of thing a witch would make. It’s smoking.’
‘Ahaha… you’re right about that. She sent over this troublesome concoction tacked onto the items I asked her for… I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be harassment, and she carefully aimed for the time I was in school so I couldn’t dispose of it…’
‘… It’s from a friend… right?’
‘A kid with a dubious character… s-she’s not a bad kid deep down… probably.’
‘Well, as long as you’re fine with it, nothing I can do.’
‘This is quite a dangerous potion, so I plan to take it home and safely dispose of it today.’
‘I see. In that case, you’d better carry it carefully so you don’t spill it.’
‘Quite right. To make sure I don’t spill a single drop, I have to take care an—gyan!’
When I was drinking juice in the club room, I accidentally spilled some around the entrance, so I headed to the bathroom to fetch some toilet paper to clean it up.
I was now on the way back, jogging towards the ComClub room.
I wouldn’t want someone to slip and fall over, so I’ve got to hurry.
By the way, the ComClub is officially termed the Computer Club. While it was originally a club that diligently carried out its activities, after many a twist and turn, the club room was only occasionally used to hold study sessions for its only five members.
When I put my hand on the entrance door, I suddenly stopped in my tracks.
“… It’s kinda boisterous in there.”
Did someone come while I was out getting paper? I suspected as I opened the door.
Inside- with a dumbfounded expression on her face- was Orino-san—
And a dog.
Why was there a dog in the club room? It was a small-bred. Fluffy tufts of hair poofed up from its body. What lovable large eyes. Its breed was… Pomeranian, perhaps?
Why is there a dog here?
“Orino-san, what’s up with the dog?”
“Dog!? U-umm… uh, a friend asked me to look after it for a bit…”
Letting out a somewhat sorrowful yelp, the dog in the classroom walked over to Orino-san’s feet.
“An… ann (So I became a dog…)”
“… Oh no, I can’t understand a word you’re saying, but you’ll be fine, Kurisu-chan…?”
They conversed with expression beyond troubled, the dog and Orino-san.
“… Kurisu-chan? Orino-san, did you just say Kurisu-chan?”
“Ah, no, that’s… um, it’s also the dog’s name. Chris, you know.”
“Hmm, I see. So it just happened to have the same name as Kurisu-chan.”
“T-that’s right, pure coincidence!”
Well, Chris was a common enough name, so I’m sure there’d be some overlap eventually. I gazed at the dog—Chris once more. Yep. Maybe his atmosphere does kinda resemble Kurisu-chan. Especially that small size, and the way he tickles my urge to protect.
Is it rude to think that Kurisu-chan resembles a dog?
“Ah, that’s right. I forgot.”
I remembered the juice I’d spilled, and began using the paper to wipe up the floor around the entrance.
“I spilled juice here a moment ago. But thankfully, it looks like I managed to clean it up before someone took a tumble.”
From my back, I thought I felt two piercing gazes of, so it was you, but, well, that must be my imagination.
I said as I tossed the toilet paper in the bin.
“Did Kurisu-chan come around today?”
“Eh!? W-why do you ask?”
“Her bag’s right over there.”
The bag Kurisu-chan usually used was placed on the floor. No, rather than placed, it felt more like it was left behind.
I shifted my eyes to where the dog Chris had been up to a moment ago.
“… What’s on the ground over there is Kurisu-chan’s uniform, isn’t it?”
In a state where the term shed off would be most accurate, there was a female Adatara High School uniform. A quick glance wasn’t enough for me to determine whose it was, but the ribbons Kurisu-chan usually wore were fallen alongside it, so there was no mistaking it belonged to her. The size also looked on the smaller side.
Now then. Why was it littered in a place like this?
On inspection of the uniform, I discovered something incredible.
In the gaps between the garment that emphasized the color white, the slightest glimpse of pink fabric… Umm, wait a second.
Isn’t that a bra and panties?
“Kyan kyan kyan! (Waaaaaaaah!)”
Chris made a mad dash, leaping at Kurisu-chan’s uniform, using her small body to conceal the undergarments from my view.
“Ah, you shouldn’t do that, Chris. That’s not a toy.”
I hurriedly moved to recover Kurisu-chan’s uniform and undergarments, but,
I was stopped by Orino-san.
“Right now Chris is just desperate to hid—I mean, desperate to play!”
“… But if you leave her there, Kurisu-chan’s uniform is going to stink of dog.”
“I-i-it’s fine! Umm… l-look, Kurisu-chan usually smells a bit like dog anyways.”
It was toxicity unfit for Orino-san’s mouth. Could it be that she doesn’t actually get along with Kurisu-chan very well? I started contemplating the theory.
“Um, you see. The truth is, I just instructed Chris to put away the bag and uniform.”
“What? Oh no, no, Orino-san. There’s no way a dog can—he did it!”
I turned around to surprise. Chris’s dexterous mouth opened the bag’s fastener, and using his forepaws, he skillfully folded and tucked the uniform away. What’s more, the work was all done at an astounding speed. As if the dog was hurrying so as not to let me see the undergarments. Amazing. This dog has been trained to perfection.
“So Orino-san. In the end, why was Kurisu-chan’s uniform here…?”
What’s more, just what sort of situation would have even her underwear mixed in with it?
Orino-san looked extremely troubled. After thinking to herself a while, she spoke in a half resigned voice as if to say, it’s no good, this is all I can think of.
“T-that’s… because Kurisu-chan raised a cry of war and ran off naked somewhere…”
“Naked, screaming out!?”
What is that girl doing!?
Did she finally reach the end of the rope!?
The dog that had finished stuffing the uniform in the bag voiced a vehement objection to Orino-san’s statement—or at least barked with such momentum.
“Kyan kyan! (Can’t you cover it up just a bit more sensibly!?)”
“I-I’m sorry… Kurisu-chan, I can’t think of anything else…”
“Gyan! (Even if I begrudgingly accept the naked part as an inevitability, the warcry part was completely unnecessary, wasn’t it!?”
Chris’ energetic barks, and Orino-san who stroked his head to soothe him.
I’m sure she was praising him for putting the uniform away so neatly. Praise them when they do a good thing, it’s the same for humans and dogs.
“No, but Orino-san… no matter how you look at it, it’s impossible to think she ran off somewhere naked…”
“Kuun (Look at that, Orino-senpai. That really was pushing it…)”
“Kagoshima-kun. Think about it, this is Kurisu-chan we’re talking about.”
“Oh, you’re right. It is Kurisu-chan after all.”
Anyone else aside, wouldn’t it be plausible for Kurisu-chan? She’s got a tough enough heart to loiter around town in cosplay on a daily basis. Personally, I’m just praying she doesn’t get taken in by the police.
“Kuun… (What sort of person do you take me for…)”
Chris raised a dispirited cry, curling up into a ball in the corner of the room. I wonder what happened. Could it be that he’s fearful of a new face, meaning me?
In that case, I’ve got to take initiative to open up his heart. I’ve got to teach this dog that I’m not a scary person. I slowly approached Chris—and lifted him into an embrace from behind.
“Good boy, good boy, who’s a good boy, whooo’s a good boy, yes you are, yeees you are!”
I held him to my chest and started nuzzling my cheek against him.
I felt like the true Matsugoro-san.
Even so, this dog sure is cute.
“There, there, there, there, there!”
“Kyan!? Kyankyaaan! (Woah! What are you doing, all of a sudden!?)”
Chris began thrashing around in my hands.
Yeah, yeah. Looks like he likes it. Okay, then some more skinship!
“There there there there there there there!”
“Anan! (No…oo, hahaha. T-that tickles, Kagoshima-senpai!)
“Awu…n-n! (Ah, n-no, that’s… not there!)”
Right. I’m sure his heart’s pretty open to me at this point.
Now this is the cincher.
I approached with a kiss.
Chris started letting out panicked yelps.
And Orino-san sent me flying with both hands. Eh? What?
“Ww-w-what do you think you’re doing, Kagoshima-kun!”
“Whaat… just some skinship to get along better with Chris…”
“That’s what the world calls sexual harassment!”
Eeh? No way, even if you tell me I’m sexually harassing a dog…
I think kissing an animal is actually relatively normal.
As I’d fallen to the floor, I raised my body while staring at Chris. Heh, heh, his breath was rough, and while I didn’t quite get it, it somewhat looked to me that he was making a troubled expression.
“Uummm, sorry Chris. I didn’t mean any harm.”
“A-an… (No, that’s umm, it’s not like I hated it… it’s just, it was so sudden, you surprised me… au…)”
He fidgeted with his forepaws and covered his face on the spot. There Orino-san came, took Chris into her arms with a hup, and went back to her seat. Hah, she let out a tired sigh.
“Kurisu-cha—I mean Chris. What do we do about this situation?”
She spoke to the dog at her chest.
“… Kuuun (… If you leave it be, the potion’s effect will eventually wear out and I think I’ll return to normal, but… I really don’t know how long that’ll take)”
“An! (But don’t worry! Just in case something like this happened, I’ve properly mastered the mixing of antidotes!)”
“Yeah, I see.”
“An an an an an! (It’s just, I won’t be able to make an antidote in this form…… So Orino-senpai, and you have my humblest apologies, but could you please help me out? I’d be extremely thankful if you could go and buy the items I list out!)”
Orino-san gave a big nod, and with a gentle smile, she stroked Chris’ head.
“… I’m sorry, I have absolutely no idea what you’re saying.”
“… Kun (As I thought).”
Chris limply buried his head into Orino-san’s chest. By the way, in this scenario, I don’t mean it metaphorically, I mean he was literally buried. The reason being… Orino-san’s chest was such to create such a state.
For a moment, despair ran through Chris’ eyes. The eyes of a human who had been shown an absolute, insurmountable difference. And–
With a boing, Chris started swatting at Orino-san’s bust with his forepaws.
“Kyah! W-wait, Kurisu-chan!?”
Orino-san’s opposition rang in futility, Chris continued her bouncing stream of dog punches at the mound.
Oh my, they’re really shaking.
“… An… An (… I turned into a dog, he thinks I ran off somewhere naked screaming… and I’ve got no tits…)”
His attitude as if to say, when I’m just, when I’m just… Chris clad himself in a negative atmosphere as his punches grew more streamlined and sophisticated.
One, two, the divide between his left and right paw motion was distinct. Yet such splendid jabs and straights were all but nullified before nature’s shock mitigators.
… Man, that dog throws some nice punches, in various ways. An eyeful, really.
“Ah! I see! So this is a pure bred boxer!”
“Kagoshima-kun! No time for boring jokes, please take Chris!”
… She called it boring.
I fell into a slump with my greatest gag missing the mark, but it did seem dangerous to let a mad dog loose for any longer, so I accepted the small package from Orino-san.
“Seriously…” Orino-san muttered, as she embraced her body with both hands to guard it. Her cheeks were a little red, her breath a little out of order.
… Personally, you have my gratitude, little doggy. I wanted to commend him for his service, but since I was in front of Orino-san, I was better off giving a proper scolding.
“Hey, you can’t do that, Chris. No attacking a girl’s breasts.”
“… A-an (… Urk. I-I’m sorry. When Orino-senpai held me to her chest, a great burden was placed on my soul…)”
“And also, since it was Orino-san’s chest, the damage you dealt may have been small, but if you hit a hard, flat chest like my underclassman Kurisu-chan’s, then I’m sure she wouldn’t get off lightly.”
Chris fell into a depression in my arms. He lost every last bit of spirit in his body.
I wonder why. I can’t say there was any mistake in my utterance, meaning the way I was holding him must be wrong.
Umm, I think the proper way to hold cats is by the scruff of their neck, but what were you supposed to do to dogs… ah, right, that’s right. I remember.
I firmly cupped a hand under Chris’ small behind, and strongly embraced his chest. His felt was superb, so I ended up stroking his bottom.
“Oh, a nice bottom on this one.”
Orino-san struck me, Chris bit me.
When I was a wee lad, I always wanted a dog. That was quite likely the ‘want to keep a pet disease’ everyone catches in their life. I’m sure everyone’s gone begging to their parents for a pet at least once before. I was no exception, and I begged and pleaded for a dog.
But, “It’s going to cost money, and it’s plain to see that you’re mother’s going to be the one looking after it, so no!” was the commonplace, cliché, yet critically correct reason the proposal was rejected.
“But _____-kun’s place has one!” I hung on, but mom activated the sure-kill, “If you like _____-kun’s place so much, then go join his family!” bringing unto me an absolute defeat.
I’ll admit, that urge to keep a dog was a passing phase. Even so, in the depths of my heart, it left a slight, faint residual effect.
Looking after Chris raised my tensions ever-so-slightly.
Under the evening sky, as we walked one man and one pup, I spotted a certain individual by the school gate. Chris was currently snug in my bicycle basket.
After that, Orino-san said, “I can’t take dogs anywhere near my place… and I have things I need to attend to tonight…” and Chris came under my care.
In that case, I had to wonder why he was even left with her in the first place, but that didn’t really matter. Even if it was for only one night, I was happy I could look after a dog.
“Isn’t that Kikyouin-san?”
Under the sakura tree out behind the gym (not currently in bloom,), was Kikyouin-san. A blond ponytail, and slightly harsh eyes. That was undoubtedly my classmate, and club compatriot.
I loudly called her name and waved my hand.
When she noticed me, she made an unpleasant face, retrieved the bag at her feet, and walked off in the complete opposite direction from me.
I hung my head.
As one might infer, I wasn’t very liked by Kikyouin-san. Rather than hated, perhaps it was more accurate to say she didn’t like to deal with me.
“An (Kikyouin-senpai’s the same as ever…)”
Chris in the basket let out a small cry.
“An an (It’s not like she actually hates him that much).”
A sigh that said, good grief, leaked from the gap between his fangs. That attitude was almost like that of a reliable older sister.
It was a shocking scene.
This must be what it means to doubt one’s own eyes.
It happened along the way, as I was walking Chris towards my house.
I spotted a young boy searching for his glasses.
His knees on the asphalt, he was restlessly looking over the area. Age-wise, he looked a little younger than me. In middle school, perhaps.
Mind you, it would be perfectly fine if he was just searching for his glasses. If that was all, it would be a commonplace sight. The thing that really shocked me? It was none other than the pair of glasses resting atop the boy’s head.
It’s the first time I’ve seen it in real life, someone searching for glasses, forgetting they put them on in the first place. My heart was a little moved. Chris was also opening his eyes wide in surprise.
“Umm, your glasses are on your head.”
“Come again? Oh.”
When I spoke up out of kindness, he put a hand on his head and noticed the existence of his glasses.
“So that’s where they were”
Returning the spectacles to their proper position, he stood in a flash. He must not have hit his growth spurt yet, he was short in stature, with plenty of youthful features left on his face. He wore a white shirt and slacks. With black suspenders over that.
This is just my personal opinion, but I think suspenders are an item reserved solely for advanced practitioners of the way of fashion. A majority of the common rabble exists only to self-destruct, never truly pulling them off, but the boy before my eyes fit his suspenders quite well.
When he noticed the far-too-interesting hiding spot of his glasses, I thought he would be at least a bit embarrassed, but without showing any particular signs, he made an amicable smile and promptly gave his thanks.
“I was on the verge of taking a journey of three thousand kilometers in search of these bad boys. You really saved me there. Thank you, truly.”
He said as he held out his hand for a handshake. What a friendly young boy.
“The pleasure’s all mine. Well, I didn’t do anything significant.”
So I shook his hand. Without thinking deep into it, I reflexively gripped his hand.
I… touched him.
“To meet a person as kind as you, I really am a happy camper.”
He gave a warm smiled. It was quite adorable, and a truly childish smile. How should I put it, this boy gave off a childish feel overall. Middle school was the age where one was supposed to force themselves to act like an adult, but that was definitely not the case with him.
“Ah, come to think of it, I was in a hurry.”
If you’ll pardon me, or so he swiftly, one-sidedly finished our parting and left quick on his feet.
“… What a peculiar kid.”
Feeling something hazy, I got back to pushing my bicycle.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Kugayama-san.”
“… Was that really the best you could think of?”
“Shucks, I always wanted to try it out once, that glasses, glasses thing. As a fellow glasses wearer, you understand how I feel, don’t you?”
“Like hell I do.”
“Whatever the case, with this, I’ve properly ‘remembered’ Kagoshima Akira. No matter where he goes, I’ll be able to grasp it as if it’s in the palm of my hand.”
“I see. But you’ve got strange taste, you know that. What do you think looking into a civilian brat is going to accomplish?”
“Just in case, you know. I’ve been curious about him a while now. What sort of man is Orino-san’s favorite, see.”
“… Hmph. How idiotic.”
“And you’re in a bad mood as ever. Could it be you’re still angry at being teamed up with Orino-san? Well, when I heard you were going to be paired up with that chest, I had to wonder what sort of harassment is this, but I don’t think it’s anything you have to worry about.”
“When you wear the Drive Suit, it shows off all the lines of your body, after all. You’re not particularly small, Kugayama-san, it’s just when you line up with Orino-san… huh? What’s wrong, Kugayama-san? It’s a waste to bite your cigarette down the middle.”
“… Grit your teeth.”
“Huh? Did I make you mad? Then I apologize. I’m sorry.”
“… Tsk. Apology don’t work after you prattle on like that. Making the same irritating smile as ever. I can’t stand it.”
“Is that so? But I find the smile you show from time to time to be irresistible.”
“Oh? Are you blushing? You really are weak to complements, Kugayama-san.”
“Ahaha. I’m sorry. I’ll be careful from here on.”
“… You’ve got to wonder what’s going on when a pipsqueak like you’s rank S.”
“That just because I’m a genius, that’s all there is to it.”
“…… I’m going. I’m keeping Orino waiting.”
“Come to think of it, you had a job, did you? Good luck with that.”
“And what about you?”
“I’ll do whatever I want. As we’ve discussed, I think I’ll be taking some independent action. .So take that how you will.”
“… Don’t do anything too crazy, Saijou.”
◇ ◇ ◇
On the road home of man and dog, I recalled Kurisu-chan. I was unexpectedly having Chris stay the night, but when you thought about it, this would be the second time a biologically female lifeform was sleeping over. (Chris was actually a Christina. On the way back, I lifted her up by the shoulders and examined her crotch to confirm it. At that time, for some reason, Chris shied back like a maiden seen naked by the opposite sex for the first time in her life—or at least moved that way)
The first—girl who slept over at my house was Kurisu-chan.
Kurisu Crimson Kuria.
Half Japanese and half something, she was a cute girl who unfortunately suffered from eight grade syndrome.
“Eh? The name of our world?”
I asked once upon a time.
About Kurisu-cha’s bible, ‘Kuria’s Grand adventure’.
“No, no, I’m not talking about your world. Your world’s this one, ain’t it. What’chu talkin’ ‘bout?”
“I’m asking about the world of ‘Kuria’s Grand Adventure’. The world where magic naturally exists. What’s it called? Otherworld works generally give their world a name as part of the plot setting.”
“It doesn’t have one. We just normally describe them as this world and that world. I mean, you don’t normally tack a name onto a world, do you?”
“… I guess.”
The world’s the world, and nothing beyond that.
No, in the first place… what is a world?
For example, even if there was a world out there apart from this one, the word world is meant to refer to entirety of what humanity inhabits, so wouldn’t other human ‘worlds’ also be included in that definition—no, apart from that completely different world in question, there’s also the possibility of parallel worlds existing, so…… yeah? Yeaaah?
“K-Kagoshima-senpai! Are you alright? Your eyes are spinning!”
My body was shook to its senses. That was dangerous. I ended up thinking something beyond the capacity of my brain.
“Then is it that? The reason anime and manga that take place in other worlds give names to the worlds themselves is just to make it easier to understand for the people watching?”
“Right. I think that way makes it easier to understand and forms the image in your head that this is a different world.”
“I see. Then Kuria’s Grand Adventure follows the pattern of events happening on a planet very similar to earth.”
“… I’m not sure what to think about calling it a pattern… but that’s right. Naturally, the planet has a name. The planet ‘Welnoss’ is my—the stage of Kuria’s Grand Adventure.”
“I see, I see.”
“Ah, but while I said we call it here and there, it does have a name on paper. Though no one ever uses the terms in standard conversation.”
This world here without magic—the ‘none-world’.
That world there with plenty of it—the ‘with-world’.
Or so Kurisu-chan explained.
“It’s inconvenient without a distinction, so it’s just a term for convenience’ sake.”
“… Mn? Huh? But if the names of both worlds were given by the people in the magic world, does that mean the people of that alternate world know about this one?”
“Yes. A few hundred years ago—in what this world calls the middle ages, the Gate that connected the with-world and none-world was discovered. Born through coincidence, the research of that first Gate- often called a disaster- made it possible to transfer between worlds…”
After saying that much, Kurisu-chan held her words a bit. An unfitting shadow spread across her youthful face.
“… And what awaited the magicians who came ‘here’ was—the witch hunts.”
That term was definitely one I saw documented in world history. I don’t know the specifics, but I at least knew acts that would be considered inhumane in modern Japanese society were committed.
Kurisu-chan suddenly went silent. Unable to withstand the silence that went as far as being painful,
“B-but you know, why did that ‘Gate’ suddenly appear, I wonder!”
I hurriedly asked. I wasn’t particularly curious about it, but no matter what it was, I needed something to change the mood.
“No, I mean, that Gate was discovered a few hundred years ago, right? Based on what you’ve told me, it seems that Gate ended up linking two worlds that were unaware of one another’s existence, but what caused it to appear?”
“That’s… unknown. It’s still being researched. Something about the mana leaking from two parallel planets building and bursting, or the forbidden research of some dark guild going out of control, and putting a strain on space itself, there are various theories.”
“Whatever the case, it all happened before I was born, so I’m not that knowledgeable…”
“Before you were born? Ah, that’s right. You said Kuria’s Grand Adventure was completed before you were born. I guess that’s what you meant.”
“Eh… ah, that’s right! That’s totally what I meant!”
Kuria’s Grand adventure was one of those so-called otherworld summon-type fantasies, so perhaps it was uncouth to ask, “why is it possible to go between worlds”?
I mean… if you can’t do that, the story isn’t going to start.
If it’s a manga, it’s fine just like that. Just a manga–
As I was reminiscing about Kurisu-chan, dog Chris and I finally reached my humble aboded.
“An aan (Pardon my intrusion.)”
Expressing my return greetings (even if no one was home, it was just a force of habit) I set Chris down into the house, closing the door behind me to prevent her from running away.
“I’ll be looking after you tonight, Chris.”
“An (Yes. I’ll be in your care).”
Giving an energetic response—or at least a bark that sounded like it, Chris followed step by step to my side. I made her stay in the living room momentarily, as I headed to my room and changed into loungewear (A T-shirt and shorts). When I returned to the living room, Chris was sitting around bored and aimlessly. Is this what it feels like to look after someone’s cat?
Though she’s a dog.
When she noticed me, Chris sauntered over to my feet.
“An an an (Umm, I really am thankful that you let me stay over. I can’t use any magic in this state… and because of that, it doesn’t look like I can return home, you really are a lifesaver.)”
She lowered her head as if giving me a bow. You can’t understand my words, but I have to give my gratitude, it was a gesture that made me feel such a strong sense of responsibility.
When I lowered myself onto the sofa, Chris came up right next to me and plopped right down again.
What a docile dog.
“Yeah. Is she still nervous? Chris, you can hang loose and run around a bit more, you know.”
“An…(No… as a human being, I have a bit of resistance to running around in this form…)”
“Yeah. I see. That’s right, since you’re here, you want to play with me, don’t you.”
I got the feeling she sent me a glance to say, are you sure you’re not the one who wants to play, but I’m sure it was my imagination. Of course Chris wants to play with me!
I stood and took out the ball I’d brought down from my room.
My parents wouldn’t let me have a dog, but instead, they bought me a ball for a dog.
… Thinking back on it now, it was incomprehensible just what part of that was supposed to be a replacement, but the old me was a good kid who could put up with that. Would you call that a stupid kit? I was always playing one-man-two-part (me role, dog role) games with the ball after all…
Well, that doesn’t matter.
The ball I never thought I’d use was fully applicable today!
That’s right! We’re going to play!
I’m going to play it up with this pup!
“Lookie here, Chris. Go get it!”
I threw it like a baseball.
A vase smashed.
… I went and did it. I really did it.
Why did I throw it overhand…
Why did I give it a windup before I tossed it…
Chris beside me gave me a pitying look that asked, is this person alright? Stop it, don’t look at me like that. You’re making me want to die.
This is kinda, just a real damper.
“… Yeah. Let’s just say Chris broke it.”
Well, the flower vase that broke was my personal property, so it wasn’t a big problem. To be more precise, it wasn’t a vase but an urn. A hundred-yen urn I was sold by a certain swindler. I didn’t have any way to use it, so I put it to use as a vase.
Honestly, I didn’t really care that it broke. Kikyouin-san also said, “That urn’s already completely lost its effect” or something.
“So let’s get ourselves back together. Take 2.”
After cleaning up the urn fragments, I got back to playing ball with Chris.
“Hey Chris, go get it.”
Learning from my previous mistake, this time I threw it underhand.
Chris rushed over to the rolling ball, bit down on it and came back.
“That’s a good girl, good girl. You did it, Chris.”
“An… (This is more humiliating than I expected…)”
“Now here we go again.”
“Auu (Ah, as I thought)”
She raised a cry of lament as she ran.
After that, I repeated the game around another five times.
It looked to me like Chris was energetically enjoying the ball game, but for some reason, that liveliness seemed like a huge lie.
“Hey, Chris. Could it be you don’t actually enjoy this game?”
As pointless as it seemed, I tried asking Chris at my feet.
“An… (Honestly, not really… Just what part of chasing after balls do dogs find fun…)”
Yeah, she looks a little down.
“Don’t tell me she’s sick…”
Chris’ spirit suddenly returned.
An an, she barked as she bounded around me. “Hurry up and throw the ball” her eyes pleaded.
“… No, this is really shady.”
What else am I supposed to do, she breathed as if to say.
“A dog’s energy meter… is the tail. Yep.”
I directed my attention to her tail. That short fluffy tail was hung limply. That lack of motion really must mean she’s not feeling very well.
“An… an!? (The tail… the tail!?)”
She suddenly turned around.
“A-an… aaan (Huh…? How are you supposed to move a tail… I thought I was pulling it off a while ago, but… huuh?)”
Letting out a voice as if she would burst into tears at any moment, she began spinning in circles chasing after her tail. It was a truly, laughable, heartwarming sight to behold.
Aim for the Ouroboros, I felt like cheering her on.
As I looked at Chris, I suddenly recalled a story about the centipede I heard from my childhood friend Kai. The centipede required complex coordination to manipulate its countless legs to send itself forward, but one day, the moment someone asked it how it walked, it suddenly troublesomely forgot how it had ever walked at all.
That was that sort of air the current Chris was giving off.
“A-an~~ (M-moooove~~~~. Hnggg~~~~)”
Her body was beginning to quiver, she shook like a newly born foal.
“Aaan~~ (Hngg~~. Hnnngg~~. Do it, you can do it, my tail~~).”
She shut her eyes tight, bracing her legs with all her might. As if she was gathering every nerve in her body to her backside—wait, no!
“Hey, Chris! You can’t do that, no crapping on the carpet!”
I ate a solid body blow.
What’s up with this dog…
After we played, the meal came next.
There’s a Japanese proverb that says those who don’t work don’t eat, but those positioned as exceptions to that rule are the pets kept by man. Without doing any work, a pet will receive food every day at a definite time. They didn’t have to scavenge for food like their wild brethren.
At a glance, you might think it an extraordinarily envious life, but is that truly such a joyous thing? Instead of being kept by humans, would animals be happier living as their wild selves in nature—or so is the opinion I often see, and every time I think.
Nay, that opinion itself is the conceit of man.
That is a thought process that separates humankind as a complete separate line from all other forms of life, forgetting that human himself is no more than a portion of nature.
What harm is there in pets or zoos?
If you think of it as a new form of symbiosis, it isn’t the least be unnatural. For example, compare a lion racing across the great plains of the savanna, constantly hunting with its life on the line, and the sleepy-looking lion you see in a zoo. If asked which one was happier, a great many people would say the former.
But is that really true.
Hasn’t humankind simply convinced himself of that?
Don’t humans—simply want to believe in their pretentious idyllic image of what should be?
“And so, Chris. I can see that the remaining vestiges of your wild pride are preventing you from receiving this grace from me, but you don’t have to worry about that, you know.”
I spoke in an admonishing done. But Chris wouldn’t even touch the food I put out.
“Ann… (You’re wrong, you’re wrong Kagoshima-senpai… That’s not the problem here…)”
Her round and cute eyes took in the heaping serving of dog food laid out over the small bowl.
“An an (No matter how you cut it, eating this is… a bit…)”
“… Yeah. This is trouble.”
Once we had finished playing ball, I thought it was about time for her to get hungry, so I presented Chris with the dog food I bought at the convenience store.
Chris simply gazed absentmindedly at the dish.
Wanting her to eat it, I prattled out some arbitrary on-the-spot philosophy, but it had absolutely no effect. It’s not like my words got through in the first place.
“Kuun… (Kagoshima-senpai… you have my humblest apologies, but this alone is… I don’t have the courage to eat a meal fit for a dog…)”
Without even tasting the food before her, Chris sat down, sending me eyes that seemed to plead for forgiveness.
“I see… that’s a shame. It looks like the dog food’s not to your tastes. Do you usually eat something higher class?”
“I splurged and bought the most expensive one they were selling, but it looks like that wasn’t nearly enough… I’m sorry…”
“… I, you know, I fell victim to a bit of a scam the other day… because of that, I’m a little short of money, it was quite a painful expenditure… I thought if it would make you happy… but I guess that doesn’t have anything to do with whether you actually eat it or not.”
“I really am sorry… ahaha, getting all excited on my own, I’m an idiot. Yeah. If you don’t want to eat it, you don’t have to. I’ll eat this stuff on my own. It looks kinda like chocolate, I’m sure it’s sweet and delicious…”
When I held in tears, reaching a hand to the plate on the floor,
“… Hn, a-an! Ananan!”
Chris suddenly began chowing down on the dog food.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
“W-what’s this, all of a sudden? You’re going to eat it after all?”
Without ever looking away, she devoted herself wholeheartedly to her meal. Oh, so she can eat it. I’m glad the money didn’t go to waste.
“How is it, Chris? Is it tasty?”
“A-an… (U-urgh… I never thought the day would come when I’d find myself eating dog food… I’m in a dog’s body, so I don’t think it’ll make me sick, but it tastes funny~~.)”
“Yep, yep. If you’re that happy about it, it just means I splurged in the right places.”
Chris polished off her plate with incredible force. While eating, it almost looked like tears were surfacing in her eyes, but well, I’m sure that’s my imagination.
“Oh. You finished it all off. There, there, good girl.”
“W-woof… (I-I have to get back to my original body fast…)”
“Then here’s a reward for such a good girl. Look, seconds.”
I filled up the empty bowl with dog food again.
It was a cry of terror. No, a cry for joy, surely.
“An, an an! (I just can’t, Kagoshima-senpai! That last one was already too much. And you filled it even more than last time…)”
“Now, now, no need to hold back, just eat it all down.”
“Huh? What’s wrong? Ah… could it be you’re already full? I see, I’m sorry. You were going at it like craze, so I just thought it wasn’t nearly enough…”
“Oh, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I can’t put what’s been poured back in the bag, so I’ll just do my best to eat it… I’m really sorry…”
Chris went at the food once more.
She was still hungry after all.
It’s just, when I tried describing to myself the sight of her happily eating her meal, for some reason the words, ‘desperation’ and ‘despair’ surfaced in my mind.
And it came without warning.
Her meal over, Chris lied limply as if she were dead, when suddenly she stood, and let her body shake.
Though I asked, Chris ignored me, suspiciously wandering around the area.
“A-au… (W-what do I do… I really can’t hold it in…)”
It was a yelp troubled as could be.
“Au… (T-the bathroom…)”
Walking unsteadily with uncertain feet, her rearpaws turned inwards.
“What’s wrong, Chris?”
When I asked again, she looked at me pleadingly.
She’s kinda cute when she shakes like that.
Should I embrace her from behind and hold her tight?
Perhaps in answer to my gesture of opening and closing my arms, Chris began retreating with incredible speed (her toes still turned a little inward).
“A-aun (N-not right now… if you squeeze me now, I’ll leak…)”
Hmm, she looks l like she hates it, so let’s give up. From there, with the steps of a traveler in a desert searching for their oasis, she started wandering around my house. Her movements were so close to a desert wanderer, I thought she might want water, but when I filled up a bowl and held it out, “Kyan! (Wrong!)” she sent me a threatening bark.
Letting out a bark mingled with relief and delight, Chris left the living room, walked a little down the hall—and arrived at my house’s bathroom.
“An… (Thank god… I made it in time…)”
Under my watch, Chris pressed her forepaw against the toilet door, dexterously standing on two legs. Her movements were such only a small dog could pull off. Even if she was leaning against the door for balance, that was quite something.
She reached her paws towards the doorknob, but—
“A-aau… (I-I-I can’t reach…)”
It was a cry as if the world had come to an end. She extended her forepaws like her life was on the line, another few centimeters to go, but they wouldn’t reach.
“A-aauuun (And wait… this stance is harsh…)”
After doing her best on two legs, Chris collapsed over.
… Just what was this dog even trying to do?
I felt like I was witnessing that thing you see on TV from time to time, a pet’s erratic behavior sent in from one of the viewers.
“An, aan! (K-Kagoshima-senpai…)”
Lying on her belly, her legs still turned inwards, Kurisu looked up at me.
“A-an (I-I’m begging you… could you open the door to the bathroom…)”
Let these thoughts reach! Overcome the wall of words! Let the miracle come to bee!
Her desperate eyes seemed to scream.
Receiving that look, I thought a bit.
“Could it be, you want to play to work off that meal?”
“Aan! (God is dead! You killed him!)”
She fell limp to the floor.
Chris’ body continued to shake as if she was enduring an impulse welling up from within, but after vigorously raising her head, she exchanged a determined look with me and flopped down into position.
In human, or rather dog letters, she posed out two alphabet characters.
… Uwah, those movements are kinda creepy.
“A-annnnn~~ (Let it reach… my body language~~).”
Still frozen in the ‘C’ pose, she looked at me desperately.
What a surreal scene.
Yeaaah. If Chris boasted human-level intellect, there was a possibility that she was trying to use her body language to tell me something, but since she’s just a pup, there’s no way that could be true.
Which means, these are this pup’s unique after-meal stretches or something.
“A… ann (Kagoshima… sen… pai… h-hurry and notice… this pose is harder to maintain than I thought…)”
Still curled into a ‘C’, she shook and glared at me. Her eyes were a little bloodshot. Even so, that was quite an amusing pose. Maybe I should take a picture? I’m sure Kurisu-chan would find it interesting. That girl did say she loved dogs.
Right when I tried to take my phone from my pocket—
A large convulsion ran through Chris’ C-curled body.
“An an—a… m-my stomach, it’s c-cram, cramping—ah…”
At first, Chris made a sorrowful face, and then a mildly happy one. At the end, it was sorrowful after all.
“Okay, all cleaned up.”
Once I had taken care of Chris’ little slip up in front of the bathroom, I returned to the living room. Taking care of a pet’s lower body is also an owner’s job, so I have to be firm about that. But this time was really my blunder. Setting her free in a room and not preparing any place for her to go was my failing.
“I’m sorry, Chris.”
I tried apologizing to Chris laying on her back in the corner of the room, but there was no reaction. She’d been stuck like that ever since her little slip-up.
Emitting an incredible negative aura, she was as active as a corpse. I thought dogs usually lay with their forepaws out front, but Chris put her legs to the side of her body, stretching out into what a human would call standing at attention.
“… An an (… I’m going to turn fifteen soon…)”
It was a bark like a curse, what’s more, her eyes were a little teary.
“Chris, you don’t have to be so down. See, you’re a dog, so no matter how much you leak, it’s not a problem at all. I mean, yeah, it’d be hopeless if a human did it,”
“If you were human, then I think it would be too embarrassing to ever consider living on… but you’re a dog, so it’s A-okay.”
“For example, if a pure teenage maiden wet themselves right before a member of the opposite sex, that would be humiliation on a suicidal level, but you’re a dog, so it’s fine.”
“……… An (……… Just end me already.)”
My sincere consolement rang out in vain, Chris didn’t come out of her corpse pose. What’s more, I got the feeling her negativity was only increasing.
Yeah. She really is down. What should I do…
“Let’s give you a bath.”
Taking a change of clothes, a towel, and Chris, I headed for the changing room.
“Hey, quit sulking and get over here.”
But she wouldn’t come. Huddled up in a corner of the dressing room, she was trying to cover her eyes with her forepaws.
“A-an… (W-why did it come to this… T-taking a bath with K-Kagoshima-senpai of all things…)”
She was no longer letting off a negative air, but she seemed flustered by sudden developments.
“Well so be it… hup.”
I took off my clothes and put them in the laundry basket. My T-shirt and shorts, and of course my underwear as well. I was taking a bath, so I wasn’t going to have a single thread of fabric on me. I took a look at my own naked body in the dressing room mirror. Yeah, personally, I think I’m running just a little thin. I should try building some muscle.
I felt a gaze.
When I turned around, the position of Chris’ blindfold paws had shifted a bit, as she stared at me in a daze. To be more precise, for some reason, she was staring blankly at my nether regions. It was a, “So that’s how male bodies are constructed…” type of gaze.
“… Umm, Chris? You’ll make me embarrassed if you stare like that.”
When I said that, she forcefully turned herself around.
“Kya-Kyan! (I-I wasn’t looking at anything! I’m not a dirty girl!)”
She raised a high yelp. Her cute backside was turned my way. The tail that hadn’t been moving a moment ago, was now in full wagging operation.
I don’t really get it, but was she excited?
“A-an… An an (Well, umm… I lost my father early, so I never even bathed with him! So I’ve never seen a man naked before, and I couldn’t help but… Hyau!?)
As she writhed around, I lifted her up from behind.”
“Now let’s take a bath.”
In my hands, she let out a contemplative voice as if she had given up and began pondering about life.
A quick wash of our bodies, and a dunk in the bathtub.
I held up Chris as her body was submerged in the tub.
“That’s a good bath.”
While she had been restless to a moment ago, the moment she entered the bath, she was splendidly relaxed. A “Why should I have to care about anything anymore,” sort of attitude. It seemed like this child had grown quite accustomed to this ‘special environment’. She was so relaxed, it ended up sprouting mischief in my heart.
I tried letting go with both hands.
The small Chris scratched against the side of the bathtub as she hurriedly started to doggy paddle. It would be pitiful to leave her like that too long, so I gripped her anew.
“Ahaha. Sorry about that, Chris.”
“An! Uuu (O-oh Kagoshima-senpai. I’ll get angry!)”
She moaned as her round eyes glared at me.
They were serene and beautiful eyes. A small building. An adorableness that just made me want to tease her.
“… When I look at you, I’m kinda reminded of Kurisu-chan.”
Like a culprit whose name was identified by a great detective, Chris’ body stiffened up.
“Kurisu-chan, you know, she’s a girl one year below me.”
“… A-an (W-what, so the cat’s not out of the bag.)”
She suddenly raised a bark of relief. Each motion, each effort she made was cute, it really brought Kurisu-chan to mind.
“That girl you know, she’s honest and earnest, and always trying her best, a really cute girl who just makes you want to tease her.”
When I said that Chris writhed her body left and right in embarrassment.
“But the way she walks around town cosplaying as a witch is a real flaw in the crystal, or rather, a fatal blow that can never be taken back.”
Chris fell limp, she stopped moving.
“… Well, even if I say that, Kurisu-cha’s cuteness is justice. If it’s just a little cringe, then all’s well if I shut my eyes a bit.”
I was dealing with a dog who couldn’t understand me, so my real feelings ended up coming out.
“That’s why I’m always thinking over what I can do to make Kurisu-chan into my little sister.”
“… An (… Um, how am I supposed to feel about that?)”
“Do you think Kurisu-chan has an older sister? If she does, then I can marry that person, and get Kurisu-chan as a little sister-in-law.”
“An! (That’s not something a human mind would think up!)”
As she tried pulling away from me, taken aback, “Hey, hey, you’ll go under if I don’t hold you,” I drew Chris back in.
“… But you know, Chris.”
I said. I gently pat the dog’s head.
“Kurisu-chan never really lets me dote on her. It makes me a little sad.”
Chris blankly raised her head.
“Well, I’m sure it’s because I’m an unreliable senpai. I’m not sure if it means much coming from me, but it must be because I’m quite an unreliable man.”
“Kurisu-chan, you know, at a glance she looks friendly and naïve—but that’s not how it is. That girl wasn’t made so simple.”
Her straightforwardness wasn’t held up by an unbending rope.
Her radiance gave birth to shadows.
I always wonder if there’s something to it.
Perhaps it’s just one of my usual, ‘imaginations’. But that’s what it looked like to me.
“She’s a good girl who can get along with anyone indiscriminately but—at the important parts, she won’t let anyone into her heart. I think she’s bad at relying on people.”
For example, in studies.
Just like Kurisu-chan, Kagurai-senpai had subjects she was unnaturally bad at, and she would come straight to me for them. She would contact me of her own accord, and make a plea proper.
But—Kurisu-chan was different. Only when I gave a semi-hard sales pitch of, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ did she ever try relying on me.
If I didn’t say anything, I doubt she would have ever requested, ‘help in geography’ from anyone. I don’t think she would be able.
“The line’s been drawn somewhere. Everyone has their line, but Kurisu-chan’s drawn hers far closer than anyone I know.”
Chris looked at me with wavering, sentimental eyes.
“An an (I mean… the fact that I’m from another world, the fact I’m a witch, I have to keep it hidden, so…)”
I couldn’t understand the dog’s words, so I continued where I left off.
“Hiding something, and having a secret you can’t tell anyone about, I don’t really mind that at all. Everyone has something like that.”
Having a secret, and letting people into your heart were different matters.
And—that was no contradiction.
There was no reason one couldn’t’ stand on both pillars.
“She’s still a student—still a kid, so I think it’s fine if she shows those around her just a little bit more weakness…”
“Well, I’m sure it’s just my fault for being unreliable.”
I muttered self-derisively.
“An! (That’s not true!)”
Chris gave a forceful howl, staring straight into my eyes.
“… An an an (… Kagoshima-senpai, you’re not unreliable at all… umm, if you asked whether you’re reliable or not, I’d have to say not, but… I-I can’t put into words, but Kagoshima-senpai, you’re really warm, so…)”
“… An (… It’s all my fault. I’m the one who’s bad at relying on those around me… for a long time now, it’s how I learned to live… I mean, I’m… my mama’s… a daughter of the Shuley House, and… and the Kurisu House’s–)”
There Chris fell silent and lowered her head.
“An an an… (I planned on doing all my training in this world alone… but you saw me using magic, and let me stay over at your house, you invited me to the club… and I kinda wasn’t doing it alone anymore…)”
“An an (That’s why, that’s why, Kagoshima-senpai, you’re not–)”
As it to interrupt her own barks, Chris placed a hand on her head.
“I can’t understand a single thing you said.”
“But thank you.”
There there, I rubbed her head.
Her words didn’t get across, but I got the feeling I picked up just a little bit of her feelings. I could feel a bit of her sentiment from her tone and gestures, and they were warming my chest.
Eventually, Chris gave a hesitant bark.
I slowly closed my eyes, and inclined an ear to her voice.
“A-an an… (I-I lost my father early, so being doted on by a man was always a little bit of a dream… u-um, you said it a moment ago, Kagoshima-senpai… so)”
“Is it… okay if I let you pamper me more?”
At the lisping voice that suddenly resounded through the bath, I kept my eyes closed and answered without thinking deep.
“Yes. Of course.”
Why is a girl’s voice…? A Kurisu-chan-sounding voice…?
I timidly opened my eyelids.
To find a naked Kurisu-chan.
I closed them again.
No, no, no, no. Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second, wait a second
This is an illusion, a delusion. I’m going through puberty. Huh? Am I frustrated……
Okay, let’s calm down momentarily. Deep breaths, deep breaths. Yeah, I’m fine. When I open my eyes again, the delusion a pubescent boy might have will have faded away.
I opened my eyes.
Naked Kurisu-chan was still there.
With the posture of a small dog being held up by someone, she was submerged in the same bathwater as me, was she not? Her damp hair and skin were especially captivating.
… Hold it right there, what’s with this situation? As a man, this is where I need to rejoice, but the development was so sudden my head was in a huge panic.
No, but, it’s that.
In reality, the steam doesn’t really do it’s work. There’s no strange light. I can kinda just see various things in their entirety…
“What’s wrong, Kagoshima-senpai? Suddenly stiffening up?”
She blankly tilted her head in wonder.
Eh? Why is this girl so calm about this?
I said in a shaking voice.
“W-w-what are you doing?”
Kurisu-chan’s eyes widened, as she slowly lowered her eye level, taking a good look over her own body.
Her naked… birthday-suited body.
[FANSERVICE IMAGE HERE]
A sirenesque scream roared through the bathroom.
“Why is my line!”
I was supposed to be taking a bath with a dog!
And wait, where’s Chris!? Where did she go?
“U, UuUu, K-Kagoshima-senpai you perv!”
“Wrong! I haven’t done anything wrong! I’m just taking a bath in my own house!”
“A-anyways, please don’t look!”
Kurisu-chan screamed as she used both her hands to cover my eyes. I see, for a judgment on the spot, that wasn’t wrong. Certainly, like this, I can’t take in her nude. It was an action far more meaningful than using those hands to try covering her own body.
“—Wait, I’m still on full display like this!”
Kagoshima Akira, the body that takes center stage.
“I-I’m not looking at you because I want to!”
“It’s not like I looked at you because I wanted to either!”
“Then you didn’t want to see!?”
My words jammed. Curse my honestly.
“… K-Kurisu-chan. Look, I’m sure you must be embarrassed yourself, but you know, I’m also extremely embarrassed here.”
“Bb-but aren’t men supposed to be overjoyed when they’re seen!?”
“That’s only a small portion of people!”
“Then Kagoshima-senpai, you’re not happy to have me look at you!?”
My words jammed. Curses, foiled again!
“H-hey, Kurisu-chan. This is my house’s bath… what are you doing?”
She seemed incredibly pressed for words
And there—it all suddenly fell into place.
The clubroom after school. Orino-san. The dog Chris. A naked Kurisu-chan.
All the numerous pieces came together in my head, building up a single, clear picture.
“… I’ve got it. I understand everything, Kurisu-chan.”
“Wha! Eh? That can’t be…”
“—have been naked all the way from afterschool up to now.”
She made an absentminded voice, but I continued on my grand deduction.
“Orino-san said it. That Kurisu-chan raised a war cry and ran off somewhere… And now that you’ve appeared right before my eyes, you’re still naked. On top of that, the supposed cosplay you make a hobby out of. There exists only one possibility I can make out of these components.”
The shocking truth that was coming to light!
“You’re actually naked under that robe you usually wear!”
How could it be? The powerful robe she inherited from my mother—or so the setting said, was actually worn naked.
That time, and that time, and even that time…
“Y-you’re wrong! There’s a proper set of undergarments underneath the robe! Being naked under that thin piece of cloth, that would just make me an exhibitionist, wouldn’t it!? The reason I’m naked right now is because I accidentally spilled a magic potion, and was turned into a dog up to this moment…”
“Eh? Kurisu-chan, you turned into a dog?”
“…… T-that was a lie. The truth is just as you say! I strolled all around town, naked with a robe! And since you looked like you were taking such a comfortable bath, I couldn’t help but assault you!”
“A-a pervert. There’s a pervert here…”
Oh my god.
My kouhai was a pervert.
Not a cosplay girl, just an exhibitionist.
“That’s right! I’m a pervert! I was so curious about my senpai’s nether regions I didn’t know what to do with myself! Aha, ahahahahaha….”
It was a dry laugh that showed a full mastery of the art of desperation. I had no idea what the pervert would do to me if I stayed where I was, so I escaped the bathroom in a dash. From behind, me, only a laughing voice that had gone past self-harming to self-mass-genociding creepily echoed.
I think I’ll give up on making Kurisu-chan my little sister.
Perverts are a bit, you know.
This is something of a continuation.
The next day, I entered the classroom and got on my knees before Orino-san. I needed to apologize for letting Chris get away. She had run away when Kurisu-chan trespassed into the bath, likely using her entrance route. After that, I stayed up all night searching the town for her, but she was nowhere to be found. What the hell was I doing?
Just how am I supposed to apologize to Orino-san’s acquaintance…
Or so I thought, but when I heard from Orino-san that, “Chris went and returned to her owner’s house on her own,” I pat my chest in relief.
What a clever dog. Ah, thank the heavens.
By the way, to exhibitionist Kurisu-chan, I sent a senpai-ish text of, ‘if there’s anything troubling you, you can always discuss it with me’.
When I did, she replied, ‘I’m so happy to have such a reliable senpai.’ When she usually sent cute messages mixed in with emojis, this one was blank. I got a real dark and cynical feel from it, but it’s not good to suspect people, so I took it favorably. ‘Reliable? Oh, you’re making me blush.’ I wrote.