It's been a few days since I started dating Sagiri. There have been changes at the Izumi residence.
First, Elf and Muramasa-senpai moved back to Elf's house and no longer live with us. And - surprisingly - they haven't come back once since then.
Because we had all been living together for a while, I felt a little lonely.
And also, about the fact that they haven't gotten involved on their own with us, Sagiri said:
She always seems to be on guard, but I think she's overthinking it.
Elf told me the deadline for her manuscript was near, and Senpai, she's probably busy with her work too. Since they helped a lot recently, I need to pay them appropriately.
That's what I thought.
Another change occurred with Kyouka-san.
After I started dating Sagiri I planned to tell her immediately, but -
"I'm sorry, Masamune. I will be out of the house for a few days -"
But she sent us that message before she could. Her reason was 'her job'.
What exactly does she do for a living? She never told me.
Anyway, for now, we were unable to tell her.
In other words, right now, it's just us and Makina-san at home. That is our situation.
But, one day, when the clock in the living room said it was 2 pm...
"Masamune-san, Masamune-san, Masamune-san, Masamune-san!!"
Makina shouted my name and ran inside.
Let me reintroduce her.
Aoi Makina - she is the scriptwriter who is working on our Sekaimo's anime.
Since she ate so much of Elf's delicious food, she became more and more a recently grown one. I don't mean her personality, of course.
"Makina-san"? What's wrong? I haven't seen you since morning -"
I took a handkerchief and walked over to her.
"Seems to me, you used the scales and realized the horrible reality, huh?"
"Yes, yes, I gained weight - No wait! I told you not to talk about the weight of a girl!"
"To tell you the truth, I really hope that your body and strength are not affected negatively due to living here, so can you lose some weight?"
"You're so straightforward...! You're both so cruel to me!"
She cried. Looks like she took a pretty big hit.
The truth is, even if she could be called grown-up, she wasn't fat.
I brought her back to the original subject while ignoring her protests.
"So, in that case, what's so terrible?"
"Springtime moods! Springtime moods!"
It was still summer, but Makina-san said something unexpected.
"Spring...is when Sekaimo goes on air."
"Yes! I told you there's an anime I want to win over with Sekaimo!"
She said so.
"But I hope you don't turn our work into your weapon to fight your opponent."
"I refuse! For me, my first priority is to see that girl cry in frustration."
Are you a child?
...Still, it doesn't matter.
It was a joke anyway. I already knew the purpose of Makina-san since I went to her apartment.
"I really don't care, as long as you do your best for our huge plan."
"I'll do it even if you don't tell me!"
She raised a spirit-filled fist.
Sagiri, the Director, Makina-san, the other members, and myself We are all working to make an anime.
We each have our own reasons.
You want to see your little sister smile. Another wants to beat her rival.
And maybe - there's someone who just wants to have a good result to show for it.
Each of us has our own dreams and desires. But we all want to make an interesting anime.
Because of that, even if we all live very different lives, we can still become trusted co-workers.
Even if everyone's goals are different, none of that matters.
We're all going to make the anime with whatever our motivation is.
That's what I thought.
"Today, I went to see her! Even though I was between reporting and spying on her."
Elf, Muramasa-senpai, and I have everything ready now.
Too short to understand. But if she's so restless...
"You mean 'looks nice'?"
"Yes! Much more than expected! We were talking while eating, and then she started bragging about her anime! She was gathering a bunch of 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's doing the anime in that novel!"
"Well - it looks like it's worth waiting for."
It'll probably be an interesting anime. The original novel is a famous series of comedy, now they're getting talented people to work, too.
They'll turn readers' imaginations into reality.
"Now I'm interested. I'm going to read her manga."
" She' s our enemy!"
Makina-san threw an Edmonds-style karate chop (*6) at my head.
(TL Note: *6: 6 Edmond Honda is a character from Street Fighter.)
"Ouch! What are you doing?"
"Don't flatter the work of the enemy!"
"She's your enemy, not mine."
I've said it before, the other novelists aren't really my enemies. It's true that we compete with each other, but my primary goal is 'my dream'. I won't get involved in an annoying contest with the others.
If someone like Elf or Muramasa-senpai is in my way to achieve my dream, then I will confront them.
In short, I hope that 'even my rival's work will be a success'. I want to read more interesting stories.
My opinion was totally opposite to Makina-san's.
"Ah ~ dammit ~ she seemed so proud of herself that it really bothered me ~~!! I have to do something about her director! If I could just stab her in the back...!"
My trusted partner was a complete scumbag. That's a shame.
Makina-san emitted a dark aura, looking up at me:
"The script was written by the original author herself, so it's super ~ interesting! All her members are famous, that makes me jealous!"
If even Makina-san said that, then they must be really talented at working on anime. A talented anime team added to the original author writing the script. I see. A strong opponent.
"She told me all the scripts were finished! Even though they plan to air it in the spring!"
"Is that fast?"
I'm not sure if that counts as fast or slow.
"Super ~~~~~ fast! I usually need until winter to write all my scripts."
"And that speed is considered..."
"Normal! That's a normal speed! Don't look at me with an 'It's because you work too slow' face!"
Even if you say winter - does that mean November or February? There's three months' difference in each case.
I could imagine what your answer would be... but I don't care.
"So, Masamune-san, I'm sorry, but I'll be staying with the company from now on! I have to beat her as a professional writer!"
She's motivated now.
Although she can't do it alone - no matter how hard she tries. But it's okay because she's not alone. She has partners there who will help her make an interesting anime.
"This is a good place. I have good meals, my room was cleaned daily. I have people who care about my daily needs..."
A strong response from Hikikomori.
Then she placed a hand on her chest and said in an unusual tone:
"And more importantly, this place gave me many inspirational moments. I have taken every tiny bit of material that came from the two of you. All I need now is to use them in a good way."
"Hey, don't say something like 'see you later. I'll get lonely."
Makina-san turned around and was about to leave the room. I called out to her:
Makina-san jumped up in shock, she clearly did not expect that news. What a pity, she was about to make a stylish exit.
"Hey, did I scare you?"
"I almost died! What the hell? No, seriously, what the hell? What do you mean? Did you propose to Eromanga-sensei? You guys are getting married? That's totally different from the plan I heard! Tell me, tell me more!"
Makina-san was on fire from this news, she ran to me and grabbed me on the neck and demanding a response.
"Didn't you say you'd already gathered all the material you needed from the two of us?"
"Don't be mean! A sibling marriage would be very interesting! I'm even more turned on than at the time when my rival teased me!"
She had completely forgotten that she was about to make a great exit and pushed me for answers.
" I will answer your questions, but please let go of my neck!"
I spent the next 30 minutes telling Makina-san (who was excited) about what happened since I proposed to Sagiri.
Then, when she left for work she said with a smile:
"I never thought this would be my farewell gift... It's not just my victory... now I'm going to get this victory for both of you!"
We are in the same boat, but each of us has its own role to play.
"So I'm off! Make sure you tell me if there's any progress on your love story or if anything interesting happens!"
It's August now.
It's only eight months until Sekaimo's anime airs.
Inside the Locked Room, I told Sagiri about Kyouka-san and Makina-san being gone for a while.
"- Then, starting today, it'll just be you and me."
"I see... so we're... alone."
Sagiri said that under her hood. Even when she looks at me, she sometimes makes expressions that are hard to read. Her eyes were spinning, her face was turning red.
Considering her attitude, I think she felt a little lonely and - embarrassed? So, I decided to get rid of her loneliness first.
"Recently I was so lively here. All of us together, eating and talking. It would be lonely if they suddenly didn't come back anymore."
Sagiri nodded slightly. I tried to continue in a gentle tone:
"Still, it's okay. We'll just go back to the way we used to be. We were used to living alone, just the two of us."
This time she shook her head instead of nodding.
"But? What's wrong?"
"...We...are not like we used to be...ack...because...we're...dating..."
Now I understand why Sagiri is acting strange.
She looks completely different. Her lips seem to be inviting me!
"This is the first time we'll be living together... since we became a couple."
I had a chill all over my body. I could feel all my blood rushing to my head.
I removed those abnormal thoughts by force and responded with a normal tone:
"Yes. That's right."
"Um... what do we do."
"What the -"
Are you asking me what to do? Are you asking me what to do? What do you want us to do? Am I thinking too hard?
"What... do you mean?"
"Since we are alone now, there are many more things we can do..."
Because that involvement was a little ecchi, I could only stand by and say nothing.
"...So, I want to try that."
"... And 'that' is?"
Sagiri clenched her fist and said with confidence.
What exactly do you want to practice while we're alone in this room? I waited for her answer, and I swallowed hard.
"Since we're alone, I want to... try... to get out of this room."
"Trying to live a normal life...getting out..."
My evil thoughts are gone.
"So that's what you meant by 'practice'."
"Um, since it's only eight months until the anime airs... I want to practice... then..." She stopped for a moment. "And then, when our dream comes true, we'll go out together... outside."
Ah, that really is - the biggest prize.
Although even going online is fun too, just the thought of going out with Sagiri to a hot spring, beach, or park made me happy.
Taking Sagiri out of her room and watching our anime in the living room That's our dream. What Sagiri suggested right now will happen sooner or later.
While I was concentrating on achieving our dream, Sagiri had already started planning ahead.
"Then let me think of something I want to spend time with you."
"Um! First, we need to make a successful anime."
We want to make an interesting anime. We want to watch it together. We want to be able to laugh without worrying. We want to forget all of our troubles.
That's how our dream began.
We did our best in making our anime for that purpose.
We will practice it.
That's how it is.
"So... how should I do it?"
Sagiri asked again. This time I did not misunderstand her.
"Let me see... asking you to 'get out' would be difficult... so how about starting with 'a normal lifestyle'?"
Sagiri's eyes sparkled. Seeing how motivated she was, I raised a finger:
"First, come here."
I took Sagiri into the living room. Just seeing her slow walk down the hall, and how slowly she was coming down the stairs, made me want to cry.
"...What, what are you looking at?"
She kicked up a fuss in embarrassment. I said:
"...It's just, I'm so moved. I mean, to see you leave the room."
"Huh? But it's not like I'm some kind of special animal or anything. Didn't I go across the street for you once?"
"But that was a special case. When we were living together, you only came out in some very special cases."
She's never walked around the house as much as this before.
"...Now you can get out of your room - it's great." I sighed, my emotions were racing.
"Are you this happy?"
The sound the door made when it was opened made me almost unable to hear her.
We were standing face to face in the living room.
Let's practice living a 'normal lifestyle'."
"Sure!" said Sagiri full of energy. "What should I do?"
"For now let me see your own 'normal lifestyle'. You can act like I'm not here."
"Yes. Just act normal."
"...is that enough?" Sagiri blinked.
"Yes. I'm very interested in acting when I'm not around."
Wait, was it something I said?
"When I'm not home, do you do something perverse?"
"That's not what I meant!" Sagiri was blushing and disproving me.
"Then what did you mean?"
When I asked her that, she gently looked down.
"...If you were going out... I'd take a bath."
"Oh - I see. You take a bath, huh..."
"You, you're thinking of something strange!"
"No, no, no, I'm not!"
Don't make it harder for me! Of course, I'd be thinking something strange.
I coughed and tried to change the subject.
"I don't need to see you take a bath. But what would you normally do after that?"
Sagiri held one hand under her cheek, thinking deeply. Maybe she couldn't think of anything, so she sat down on the couch.
Then, after a while, she looked up.
"Er... clean, I think?"
"Um ~ yes, sometimes you also help me clean the house."
I was so surprised to see the house clean while I was gone. There was a time when I was worried that something wasn't where I had left it.
"But after living with Elf-chan... I noticed something." Sagiri said. "What I did before... was useless... I can't help Masamune at all."
Well... I was right. Whether Sagiri cleaned or not, I still had the same job to do every week, so my workload pretty much stayed the same.
"Even though it made me happy. I felt that - Ah, it's good that Sagiri helped me with the housework today."
"...I think that's the relationship between a man and a woman...not one of the equals."
She looked me in the eye.
"...Starting today, let's divide the duties between the two of us."
Just like when Elf was here. Like an equal. That's what she meant.
"I understand - I'll leave it to you."
"I hope you can show me how to clean the house properly."
"Of course. Although, I've already finished cleaning the house 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 looked at me as she answered. Her answer made my heart skip a beat.
"Of course you can. I'll teach you everything I know."
She squeezed her hand into a fist and made a victory pose.
"Actually... I wanted to practice in secret... and then surprise you..."
But I'm the only one she can be with when she's out of her room. So I couldn't ask Muramasa-senpai or Elf.
"This is enough for me. I'm lucky that you decided to ask. Because cooking together will be so much fun."
"Is it... like that?"
So, we decided to start our cooking lessons while we prepare dinner tonight.
The 'normal lifestyle practice sessions' - started one by one.
"After cleaning the bathroom... what's next?"
I asked her. Sagiri said a little proudly.
That... took me by surprise.
"By exercise... you mean... physical activity?"
"Of course... Why do you look so surprised?"
"Because you are Sagiri. I didn't think you and physical activity would become friends."
"...How rude." She kicked. "You... I really don't understand the Hikikomori."
She looked at me in the face and said:
"Exercise is important to make sure I can continue as Hikikomori as much as possible."
"Since I spend all my time indoors if I don't exercise my body will become weaker 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, but even illustrators are also the same! Anyone who works from home has this problem. If you don't exercise sooner or later you'll get sick."
"Like diabetes, arthritis..."
"An adult disease?"
Are you an old woman?
"But... those things... aren't you a little too young to worry about them?"
I don't want to have to worry about that!
Sagiri gave me a significant look:
"Besides, if you don't exercise... *whisper, whisper*
I didn't hear her clearly, but I can get an idea of what she said. That... must be her real reason for working out.
I said carefully:
"I see. If you don't exercise you'll become that person."
"Yes. It makes you Makina-chan."
It might be rude to say it, but she means 'getting fat'. And, because Makina-san was so rude to us recently, I didn't tell her anything.
"Now that you mention it, I think last year, in the fall, you got fat too."
She had a look of 'this guy still recalls that' on her face, but pretended not to know what she was talking about.
"No, I don't know what you're talking about."
"Have you forgotten? Because you ate so much Elf candy, you got fat."
"Wah, wah, wah!"
She screamed, trying to close the subject. But I was the only one here, so that move didn't work.
Sagiri made a fuss when she saw her plan fail.
"So what! That's why I've decided to exercise."
"Well, well, it's a good thing after all - well, let's go work out."
I got up and prepared.
"Huh? Right here and now?"
"I said - 'try to live normally in front of me' - right? Besides, I want to exercise too."
"Um ~ it's true that Masamune doesn't exercise enough."
It's too early to worry about those diseases, but exercise is not a bad thing. To write a good novel, a good body is necessary.
Sagiri thought about it for a moment before agreeing with me. She said with a voice full of pride like Elf's:
"Got it! Izumi Masamune! Welcome to my training camp!"
"Yes! I will be in your care! Captain Eromanga!"
"I don't know anyone with that name!"
Eromanga-sensei's training camp began.
"BGM - it begins!"
The music started. Sagiri stood in front of me in the living room. She had taken off her hood and changed into a short shirt.
"Welcome to my camp! We'll be doing some heavy exercise today!"
"Sir, yes sir!"
Looks like it's gonna be a tough training session.
Although it's clear she was copying a certain movie, Captain Eromanga was really cute. To tell you the truth, if she sold a Blu-ray of this training for ¥50,000 (*7), I would buy one.
(TL Note: *7: 540 US dollars.)
"Are you ready!?"
"Sir, yes sir!"
I gave a tap, and I answered him.
"We should be using a rope for work, but a Hikikomori couldn't use it, so we'll skip that part."
"Sir, yes sir!"
...didn't you say it would be a special and difficult show just now?
The training continued without my question being answered.
"Raise both hands above your shoulders! Put both hands together!"
"Sir, yes sir!"
"Ugh... what an extraordinarily difficult exercise! But don't give up!"
I didn't tell her that this isn't difficult at all. If this was a movie, then we would have just started the warm-up.
"Right! Keep them up...hah...uff..."
"Sir! Are you all right?"
Captain Eromanga suddenly started to slow down. Then, she finally stopped breathing heavily. Raising a hand, she said.
"Stop. Ten-minute break...!"
"You only went on for a minute?"
This is too bad no matter which way you look at it.
"Ha ha... Impossible... I knew it, it's too early for intense exercise..."
Sagiri fell to the floor. Now I see. So that's your definition of 'intense exercise'.
"Ah ~ ah ~ I'm going to die ~ I'm dying...give me a sports drink..."
I think that, compared to the energy you burned with your recent 'exercise', a sports drink contains even more calories.
I gave her a towel and a can of sports drink.
"How about we do some normal exercise instead?"
"Yeah, let's do it."
And so, we gave up on the training camp and returned to 'normal Sagiri exercise'.
I couldn't believe it, but Sagiri managed to do a squat. How impressive.
After that, we took shifts to shower and returned to Sagiri's room.
Because we were practicing 'a normal lifestyle' - after exercising she continues to work in the room.
Yep, that's the truth. It is Sagiri after all.
Today I brought my laptop to the Locked Room and worked there. On the other hand, I was fixing the anime script, making changes to volume 6, and supervising the games...
Some of you might ask: Didn't you already finish them? But those things wouldn't be completely finished just because I worked on them once. They'll come back many times.
Write a manuscript > modify it > change it > write a new one from there
This is how it usually happens.
It's not like I can be lazy just because I have a girlfriend. Or being distracted by seeing my girlfriend in her pajamas after taking a bath.
"What are you doing, Sagiri?"
"Today I'm supervising the character designs for the anime."
Although I, Izumi Masamune, am the original author of Sekaimo, the one in charge of character design is Eromanga-sensei.
That's how we worked from the start: Izumi Masamune writes the novel. Then, he gives it to Eromanga-sensei along with the basic character descriptions, so she can create the first sketches of the characters.
After that, the author, editor, and illustrator meet to finalize the character designs. Then Masamune modifies the character specifications in the original novel.
The above is how a character is 'designed'. Now, Eromanga-sensei is supervising the 'anime character designs' based on the 'character designs in the original novel'.
I looked at Sagiri from behind.
"Director Amamiya just sent me a question. She wants to know what kind of underwear this girl is wearing under her pajamas. I just sent her an answer."
I was hoping it wasn't something dirty.
"Do you even have to check that, huh."
"Of course. Otherwise, there would be certain angles where you couldn't draw the character."
"Oh, is that so? Then what was your answer?"
"Nothing!" She said proudly.
"An answer like that means there are no angles you can't draw it?"
"Nope. She's not wearing anything."
Eromanga-sensei would not lie. Like the original illustrator, she will stick to this part: no underwear.
"The person who makes the figures also asked many times - but she doesn't wear anything under her pyjamas. I absolutely will not allow her to wear underwear."
"How troublesome. But I can understand your feeling!"
Everyone has something they won't give up on no matter what.
"Although I understand it... what about the others?"
"Ah, the director just texted me again."
She opened the message. There was a new message with a picture attached.
It showed the female protagonist in her pajamas.
"I understand, Eromanga-sensei - is this what you mean?"
"Yes! It is! This is how it should be!" Eromanga-sensei cheered loudly. "As I expected from Director Amamiya, she totally understands the truth about underwear!"
"...Even though I read the script for this part, I still didn't know the truth about the underwear."
Even if she doesn't wear underwear, she still has her pants.
"Hm... a stranger wouldn't be able to understand..."
Sagiri rubbed her head and continued:
"Let me give you an example. Luckily I'm wearing lightweight pajamas right now."
She got up from the chair and bent over in four. Then she pointed her butt at me and explained in a serious tone:
"You can understand it like this: If my character doesn't wear underwear, there'd be a noticeable difference on the outside... And since she also wears light clothes, you can clearly see her curves, right?"
I took another look at Eromanga-sensei's example.
"Yes, I understand that wearing underwear would be problematic."
So that's the truth about the underwear.
"Right! To make the female lead more pure I made sure she didn't wear them -"
Still facedown, Sagiri turned to me and caught her reflection in the mirror. She immediately turned red.
"What pose are you making me do?"
"You're the one who did that pose on your own!"
Sagiri did not listen to me and rushed up, hid in her blanket, and spoke to me from it.
"Forget what you just saw! Forget everything!"
"Then you have to do an erotic pose too! I won't be embarrassed alone!"
"Don't talk nonsense!"
And so -
We continue our work.
Some time has passed. We both worked quietly without noticing each other.
Even though my loving girlfriend is by my side, I still keep my concentration. Inside the locked room, all I could hear was the sound of my fingers on the keyboard.
Do you remember a few days ago when Kagurazaka-san asked me to create a big climax in my novel to coincide with the release of the anime?
What I'm doing is adding that 'great climax' to my manuscript. I have to rewrite about 40% of the story - but when I really got around to it, it didn't take long.
I'd like to say, 'my fingers already knew how to modify it', but the truth is that it was 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 5:00 pm.
"Wow, it's so late. I should go out and get something for dinner."
Since Elf and Muramasa-senpai were no longer here, I have to cook for myself.
Oh, and I also had a promise with Sagiri.
And... if possible... teach me to cook.
"Sagiri, will you cook with me?"
I looked up and turned around trying to find her.
"I'm going to buy something for dinner -"
Is there anything you'd like to eat? I was about to say that, but I stopped.
Because she was... sleeping. In her bed. It looked like she'd fallen asleep while working.
Her breathing was slow and steady.
"What a kid. She doesn't even have her blanket on."
I smiled and watched her. At that moment my heart began to feel warm. I could feel that what I had been chasing in the past was right in front of me now.
...I want to be with you for eternity. That would make me very happy.
When I returned to reality, Sagiri's lips were inches away from my face.
Wake up Sagiri, then go out and buy food for dinner.
That's what I should do, but my eyes refused to move.
I slowly approached the sleeping girl.
My heartbeat was getting faster and faster. I could almost hear them. She's my girlfriend. We're going out. There's nothing wrong with this - a demon was whispering to me.
It was less than an inch away from her lips -
I managed to retreat backward, away from Sagiri."
"Wow, wow... dangerous... very dangerous."
Because Sagiri was 'my little sister', there used to be a barrier in my heart. But now she's my 'girlfriend', so my lust became more and more difficult to control.
"I have to keep control of myself. Now' is not the time for that."
I held my head in shame. From an outside point of view, what I was almost doing was a crime.
Fortunately, no one else was here but Sagiri and I -
"I saw it."
A girl's voice came from behind. I almost jumped out of my seat in surprise.
Looking back It was - Elf. She must have come here from the balcony again - wait, now is not the time.
"You, you... since when are you..."
"From the moment you spoke, just before you almost kissed her."
She said that with a smile, her Smartphone was visibly in her hand.
"What a shame. I would have had a nice picture."
"Just kidding. I was planning to stop you. But you moved so fast, I wasn't sure I could do it in time."
"I'm... I'm... I'm sorry for acting that way."
I get up from the bed and stand in front of Elf. She looked at me:
"Yes, fine. Even if you two like each other you shouldn't do that. If you'd really kissed her - I'd look at you with sympathy."
"...I have nothing to say."
Looks like she was pissed off. Elf's voice was incredibly cold and harsh.
There was a quiet moment and then I took a deep breath. The atmosphere relaxed a bit.
"Still, I believe you. Even though you hesitated... you wouldn't do something like that to the girl you like."
I don't know how I should respond to that. Anyway, I was so embarrassed. It's like my girlfriend found my porn hideout - no, it was even worse than that.
"Elf... you... why are you here today? I hadn't seen you recently and now you suddenly appear through the balcony."
"Why am I here? Hmmm ~" She smiled. "Can I tell you only half the reason?"
"Do you really have to ask me directly?"
If I say yes, does that mean I'd like to be lied to?
"I said that, but I won't lie to you, but I won't tell you the whole truth either."
"Well, all right."
Elf nodded as she heard my response.
"The reason I'm here... well, it's something like this..." She said without worrying about anything. "I've come to interfere in your love life."
"Simple and easy to understand. Wonderful."
"Ara, don't you feel angry?"
"No, because it's you. I always thought you'd definitely come. Since you weren't, I've been feeling lonely lately. I thought you didn't care anymore."
Of course, about that, Sagiri said, "No way. Suspicious."
"Of course I would come. Because... whoever I like is staying with his girlfriend next to me... that makes me unhappy."
Elf seemed a little depressed, she was mumbling to herself. It's weird to see her talking without looking straight into my eyes.
She looked down and said in a tired tone:
I - who rejected her confession, who decided to go out with Sagiri - said nothing.
I didn't have the right. So, all I could do was listen.
"There was something that made me impossible to come these last days... I don't want to talk about it. To simplify..."
She threw daggers at me with her eyes.
"Muramasa and I had a fight. Because of you."
"You don't want to hear it, do you? You don't want to know the details."
"If I want... if there's anything I can do to help, then I'll listen..."
"There's nothing you can do, so I won't say anything."
"............... Is that right?"
"How should I put it... Muramasa... that girl's thinking about love is completely different from mine, so we couldn't agree on anything. As a master of light comedy novels, I planned to trick her with words, although this time she managed to resist. What a pain in the ass, Senjyu Muramasa-sensei."
Whatever they said to each other left a nasty memory. I can see why Elf is very upset.
"That girl has her own way of dealing with this situation, but she wants to use a wait-and-see approach for now. I can't accept it, so I made my move on my own - that's why I came."
Elf made a *bang* sound and made a shooting action with its right hand, showing a devilish smile.
"Masamune, you owe me, right?"
A critical hit. There was no way I could ignore that.
So I replied.
"Not just one. In recent months, you and Muramasa-senpai helped me a lot."
Elf nodded. I told her what I really thought.
"Not only did you help me with the anime, before that, but you were also a source of positive inspiration for me. It's because of that I can be here now."
"...Wh-what? That much?"
We bet on Eromanga-sensei and decided on the winner.
She showed me a different working method, a different point of view, and allowed me to work with motivation.
After my parents died, Sagiri became a Hikikomori... that was the most difficult period of my life. It was her light novel that made me laugh again.
She likes me. She never stopped showing me her affection.
"No matter how many times I thanked you, it wouldn't be enough. Thank you very much."
"Er... Hm, I've heard your thanks to the extent that they've become boring."
She always told people to say thank you, but whenever I did that, she would get nervous and clearly embarrassed.
Elf is that kind of girl.
"Oh damn! You made me act strange again! Why don't you say something stupid? Like a certain light novel protagonist?"
"I've told you before, I'm not a character in a light novel."
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 something on your mind when you started this subject."
Elf seemed very upset. She probably doesn't like it when I take over the conversation.
"Please listen to a simple demand of mine. Then consider that everything you owe me has been paid."
"Hm, of course, you wouldn't say yes before hearing my request? Do you accept?"
It seemed like that was out of your league. She screamed, which made me almost flip out.
"...Don't look so surprised. If it's for you, I'll do anything."
"Will you... do... anything?"
She was the one who said that, but Elf was asking with a pinch of fear. I nodded again.
"Yes. No matter what your request is. I owe you that much."
"...You...don't say something so stupid...what if...I make a strange request?"
"Will you make a strange request?"
"As if I could! If you trust me so much, then I wouldn't make a request like that."
"Is that so? That's good to hear."
"Kuhhhhh!! You're weird today." Elf looked at me, then pointed at me. "Anyway, get ready! Because I'll ask you for a big settlement!"
At that moment her smartphone vibrated.
Without a word she looked at the screen - probably an e-mail - then continued:
"Wait until my manuscript is finished. I'll tell you later!"
Looks like I have to wait a little while before it's time for the 'big payoff'.
And then -
The sun had set. Now it's night. I was sitting in the living room after eating the dinner I cooked with Sagiri.
Sagiri was smiling near me.
"...you seem to be having fun."
"Did you notice?"
"Yep... so what's going on?"
You know the answer.
"It's because 'cooking with Sagiri' is something I've always wanted to do but couldn't."
"That's why I'm having fun."
"...It's...like this...then we should have done it earlier."
There was more than one meaning in those words. I nodded with her.
"Next time...with Kyouka-san...let's have dinner together."
"Kyouka-san... isn't she coming home today?"
"She just texted me that she's on her way."
"It's like this...then...ack..."
Every time we mention it, we feel our faces warm.
"Let's tell her. Tell Kyouka-san... that we're dating."
Sagiri turned red, her body twisted.
"What will Kyouka-san say... once she knows we're dating?"
"She will be happy for us."
Maybe... she'll give us her blessing with a smile.
"Because for us, she's like another mother."
She's like Sagiri's second mother and my third mother.