Chapter 2: Part 3
The group of freeloaders left and was replaced by the group of three girls who had just shown up. We began to focus on our work.
Huddling up all at the same desk and running our pens across the manuscript pages… it felt almost like a study group.
Mihara took off her jacket and sat down at the table.
“Hey hey, Aikawa Aikawa.”
Poke poke poke poke. She pushed her finger into my shoulder.
“What is it?”
“That girl over there is reaaaaaally pretty. How do you know her?”
Mihara gave me a smile.
“She’s friends with Anderson-kun.”
Mihara didn’t stop smiling and started whispering to Tomonori, who was sitting right next to her.
“Yuki-chan, Yuki-chan. Sounds like Aikawa’s about to be stolen away from you.”
Tomonori cocked her head to the side, clearly not understanding what Mihara meant.
“Just look. Her breasts are so much bigger, and breast size is your only weapon.”
Mihara reached around and firmly began fondling Tomonori’s breasts from behind.
“Uwaah! H-Hey! Stop it!”
Tomonori twisted her body all around as I looked with cold eyes at Mihara, who seemed like she was having loads of fun. Exactly why did you come here, you idiot?
“Hey… we have work to do…”
Hiramatsu almost seemed a bit bored as she twirled one of her pigtails around her finger.
“Yeah! We came here to help, right?”
Tomonori managed to shake off Mihara’s hand and wrapped her own arms around herself, defending herself from further attack.
Tap tap. Someone tapped the table twice.
We should begin with the work.
“Yeah. Yuu’s right. We really should get going and-”
Wait, hm? Is it just me or did the number of people around the table increase?
Me, Tomonori, Mihara, Hiramatsu… and Yuu. There was a silver-haired girl with plate armor and gauntlets sitting there, not a single emotion on her face.
Nobody had noticed. Mihara and Hiramatsu looked at Yuu with surprise in their eyes.
“Hm? Yuu, didn’t you already go back?”
Haruna and Sera are out shopping for dinner.
“Ahh, right. You three haven’t eaten yet, have you?”
I muttered that, when Tomonori’s eyes suddenly lit up.
“Should we cook something?”
I ignored Tomonori and turned to face Yuu.
“So, Yuu never went back?”
I wanted to help as much as I could. So only I came back.
“I see. Thanks, Yuu.”
“… So… what should we do…?”
I handed the manuscript out and began explaining the work schedule.
The backgrounds and special effect lines weren’t done at all, so I got Hiramatsu to help with those, giving her a few pages of finished manuscript as a reference.
As for Tomonori and Mihara… they were in front of the television.
“What are you two doing?”
Maybe it’s my fault for not paying them enough attention, but the two of them seemed insanely interested in the video game console in front of the TV.
“Look Aikwaa! She has a Saturn, a Saturn! Let’s play Guardian Heroes!”
“Let’s play it together, Yuki-chan!”
Seriously, what the hell had those two come here for? Well, granted, I guess it was pretty like Tomonori to act this way.
“Hmm, I kinda want to join in too…”
Nene-san had been sleeping a minute ago, but now she smiled and raised her hand.
“… Sorry… did we… wake you…?”
Hiramatsu looked apologetic and bowed her head. Honestly though, the two people who really should’ve been bowing their heads were currently trying to power on the video game console. Ugh… what a hopeless pair.
“You’re quite a nice girl, aren’t you? The kind that easily gets misunderstood by boys.”
Nene-san chuckled as she looked at Hiramatsu.
“If you’re too nice to people, then weird boys might latch onto you.”
Nene-san paid me a sidelong glance.
What the hell? Why are you looking at me?
“Okay okay, let’s get back to work.”
I continued to paste the screentone onto the manuscript. Yuu helped with beta painting and whiting.
Nene-san was directly teaching Hiramatsu how to add effect lines.
It was steady work where you spun the manuscript and a ruler around as you drew line after line. Hiramatsu was also provided with tissues to wipe off the ruler when it got too dirty with ink.
Watching Hiramatsu silently begin to work filled me with a strong sense of relief.
She was so careful that she wasn’t really moving very quickly, but I was grateful to get any help at all with this.
Yuu and Hiramatsu. With these two on our team, we could probably make some good progress.
“Uwah! Kanami shoot your laser! Your laser!”
“Okay. Yuki-chan’s in the way though.”
Not to say that everyone here was being useful though.
I considered going over and lecturing Tomonori and Mihara, but I decided that we’d probably make more progress here if I just left them alone.
Around thirty minutes passed like that, and I decided to take a short break.
I suddenly noticed that water was drip dropping onto the table.
“… U… Uuuu…”
They were Hiramatsu’s tears.
“A-Are you alright? What’s wrong?”
I was at a bit of a loss seeing Hiramatsu suddenly start crying like this.
“… Sorry… this manga… it’s very sad.”
I was so focused on completing my task that I wasn’t really paying attention to what the manga actually was about, but hearing that from Hiramatsu and giving the manuscript a quick read… yeah, it certainly was sad.
A girl in a village becomes wrapped up in a war, and takes up arms herself to help fight.
During the war, unique powers are awakened within her and she loses her ability to speak.
This was the story about how she tried to get her voice back with six companions.
Nene-san had mentioned that this girl was none other than Yuu, who was sitting right in front of me beta painting right now. So, this story was basically nonfiction.
Just by speaking, she was feared and persecuted by her allies. Even then, this young girl desperately fought for the sake of others. She was also once captured by the King of the Underworld, who wanted her power.
That was around the point of the manuscript that Hiramatsu was working on right now.
But, the girl’s friends came to rescue her. Everyone worked together to conquer their problems. The Yuu in the story never lost her smile, not even once.
There were painful events, sad events, but she finally discovered a way to seal her powers and returned to the village where she was born, living peacefully with her six companions.
This was the happy ending for Yuu that Nene-san had crafted.
She had returned to a normal, casual life. There was no happiness greater than that.
If that was the case, if someone were to also write my story… what would a happy end for me look like?
“The main character… and all the companions who surround her… they all feel so real… this is a fantasy manga but… everyone feels so life-like… I’m really moved by this.”
Nene-san blushed a bit when she saw Hiramatsu’s cute, quivering eyes directed at her.
“It’s not really that big a deal.”
It seemed Hiramatsu’s honest eyes were making Nene-san feel a bit ticklish, so she… fell asleep.
“There’s a happy ending waiting at the finish line. Let’s get this girl there as quickly as possible.”
“… Yeah… let’s do that.” Hiramatsu smiled and pumped her arms.
Yuu had been watching Hiramatsu the entire time this scene had been unfolding. Her expression didn’t change, but she set a memo in front of Hiramatsu with the words Thank you. written on it.
“… Kanami. Let’s help too.”
“Yeah. We’ve had enough fun.”
Maybe they had felt the pressure of this mood Hiramatsu had created, but Tomonori and Mihara turned the game console off and came over.
They divided Hiramatsu’s work amongst the three of them and silently set out on their tasks.
What was this fluttering I felt in my chest?
I felt a fuzzy feeling welling up inside me, even more than it usually did when I worked with Haruna and Sera.
I looked around me.
Underneath Yuu’s plate armor was a pair of small breasts.
Mihara had normal breasts. Maybe it was because she played basketball, but they seemed a bit tight.
Hiramatsu’s breasts were larger than Mihara’s. I guess you could call them “pretty great for normal breasts.”
Tomonori’s breasts were huge. Exactly how could she run track with breasts like that?
And then, Nene-san’s breasts were just gigantic.
Breasts… there were breasts all around me! Feeling dirty thoughts fill my head, I held my head in my hands and squirmed in agony.
Not good. This wasn’t good. I already learned my lesson back at the sexual harassment trial. Get rid of all these strange thoughts, Ayumu!
But why…? Why… weren’t there any other guys here?! Surrounded by all these high school girls, surrounded by all these girls from the Underworld… the room smelled so damn good!
“He’s been wriggling around all grossly for a while already.”
“… Is… something wrong…?”
Calm down, Ayumu. It’s not like you want to touch those breasts or sexually harass these girls. It’s not like you’re even hoping for an opportunity to do any of that stuff.
But… hm? Why is everyone looking at me?
“Umm… what’s up?”
“I was just thinking that even though Aikawa is good friends with Orito, he won’t do anything strange here… right?”
“Yuki-chan. It’s because he does strange things so often that he had to go through a sexual harassment trial just the other day.”
“Yeah. That’s why I’ve decided to never sexually harass anybody ever again.”
“Hmm, pretty admirable from a pervert lolicon rabid homo like Aikawa…”
“… I wish… Orito-kun… would also learn from him.”
But right now, Aikawa was just comparing our breasts.
Wha-?! How did she know?!
“Aikawa… that expression of yours makes it look like you’re thinking ‘How did she know?!’ right now or something.”
Tomonori looked at me with dead eyes. It was an expression of resigned shock, something I saw from Sera and Saras twenty times a day.
You look tired, Moldau. (1)
Am I a river in the Czech Republic or something? Ok sure, maybe I was too tired and my mind was starting to think about strange things. I put a hand on my forehead and sighed.
“As if I’d ever think dirty thoughts about you all.”
“Are you sure~~?”
“Yeah. We’re friends, after all.”
…………. Hm? Why isn’t anybody saying anything anymore? Somebody say something, dammit.
Hiramatsu just sat there motionless, a bit of loneliness in her eyes.
Tomonori gave me a childlike pout, and Mihara put a hand on her forehead, looking nonplussed.
Tap tap. Yuu tapped the table.
By the way, I’m out of bounds.
Yuu’s expression didn’t change but she continued to tap on the table. Yeah yeah, I got it. I’m looking at your memo right now. You don’t have to keep tapping.
“Y-Yeah! He’s just talking to Hiramatsu and Kanami, right?! Yeah, okay!”
What the hell are you getting so flustered over?
“I think Aikawa’s lack of delicacy here can be considered sexual harassment.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“I… I’m happy… to be Aikawa-kun’s friend… but Yuki-chan…”
“Seriously, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You obviously do know but you’re still feeding us that barefaced lie. Seriously, that’s cold.”
Wait wait wait wait. Honestly, the stuff coming out of your mouth is the stuff I least understand.
Anyway, what the hell did “out of bounds” mean?! Was she talking about the manuscript? No, wait, it’d be super weird for her to just suddenly start talking about the manuscript.
Dammit! What did I say right before Yuu passed me that memo? The answer was probably there, but my mind was drawing a blank.
Yeah, I guess this was just one of those times…
I wanted to keep pushing this matter, but…
I suddenly heard a sound that couldn’t have come from anything other than the front door being thrown wide open.
“Ayumu! It’s a Megalo! Let’s go!”
A short chestnut-haired girl came bounding into the room. Haruna was here, holding onto a chainsaw with one hand.
“You couldn’t just ask Sera?”
“If we don’t use Mystletainn we won’t be able to defeat it! Understand?!”
So not even Sera would be a match for this particular monster. Geez…
“… Okay, I got it.”
“Eh? You have to go?”
Mihara’s long-eyelashes moved up and down as she blinked. She seemed to be super interested in this new development.
“Ahh, just for a bit. Don’t worry, I’ll be back real quick.”
“Aikawa… could it be…”
It seemed that Tomonori had realized that “It’s a Megalo” meant that I was about to go monster hunting. She looked at me with a slightly serious expression.
I wanted to tell her not to worry, but the minute I did that, the others would realize I was going to go do something that might be cause for worry. I really didn’t want to give everyone a reason to get anxious for my sake.
“What, you want to go too? Not happening. Haruna and I are going to take all the fun for ourselves this time.”
“Ehh, Aikawa’s going to go have fun somewhere? And you’re just leaving us here to do work? Isn’t that pretty awful?”
Mihara scowled. Good. I’m happy that my strategy worked.
“Ayumu! We’re. Going. Nowwwww~~.”
Haruna pulled me by the arm, so I hurriedly replied to Mihara.
“S-Sorry Mihara. I’ll buy you a meal or something next time.”
“Really? Hear that Yuki-chan?! Aikawa is taking us out for sushi!”
This bastard… well, I guess it wasn’t too crazy, so I’d think about it.
Be careful. = “Do your best, oniichan!”
Yuu just looked straight up at me.
“Yeah, I’ll be back soon.”
Ahh, getting sent off by Yuu like this just filled me with a sense of calm for some reason. I dunno, it felt like she just had full, unconditional faith in me… or maybe I was being a bit too conceited.
“… Aikawa-kun… don’t… over do it, okay…?”
My eyes widened.
Because Hiramatsu’s words, the last words I heard before I left, filled me with just as much calm as Yuu’s words had.
(1) Probably a play on “Mulder,” from the X-Files.