📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.
📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.

V2 At 9:00PM, Megami Senpai is Only Mine Chapter 2

Asahi and Senior Begin to Understand

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NOVEL WISHES


Chapter 2: Asahi and Senior Begin to Understand

This happened after school, following Senior Himi Kanako’s declaration of ‘shattering’ Amebare Asahi.

Tasogare, slightly puzzled, noticed something unusual. Near the school gate, he saw Senior Kanako, her cheeks unnaturally red. It was quite late after school. Tasogare had been helping a friend from the sports club with practice.

Seeing Senior Kanako heading home stirred something in him.

He had never seen Senior Kanako like this before.

To Tasogare’s knowledge, Senior Kanako was always composed.

Yet now, her cheeks were flushed, not due to the long days of summer, but with a mix of accomplishment and embarrassment. She seemed deep in thought, pressing a temple, oblivious to her surroundings.

“Senior Kanako?”

Only when Tasogare spoke did she look up.

She seemed unusually flustered… as if she hadn’t expected anyone else to exist in her world.

“Eh, …uh, Tasogare-kun?”

Recognizing Tasogare, Senior Kanako managed a smile after a moment’s pause.

“Meeting Senior Kanako here, I’m very lucky──…but are you okay?”

“What do you mean? Oh, about yesterday? I am──”

“No, I mean your health… Do you have a fever?”

…Of course, Tasogare didn’t know.

…About the conversation Senior Kanako had with Amebare Asahi in the library shortly before. How she had struggled to maintain a facade of composure. That she had collapsed right outside the library door, sitting down with a face as red as steam, for about thirty seconds.

Senior Kanako, hiding her hands behind her back, replied,

“No, I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong.”

As she spoke, Senior Kanako’s expression returned to normal. The flustered look Tasogare initially saw seemed like a dream or an illusion. Doubt crept into Tasogare’s mind.

Was it just his imagination?

Had he only seen what he wanted to see in Senior Kanako? Her calm, goddess-like smile. Hidden behind it, something special that only a few could see──.

“No, …if Senior Kanako says there’s no problem, then it’s okay──”

…Tasogare muttered to himself that it couldn’t have been a special expression.

Because it was Senior Kanako. The unreachable, beautiful, kind, yet iron-walled goddess. The one whom Tasogare had earnestly loved, yet remained unattainable. Someone who had never shown interest in any man. Senior Kanako herself had declared, “I’m not interested in dating anyone yet.” …Yet? Did that mean she might change her mind? When had he last heard her say that? It had been months since he had heard any credible rumors of love… except for the incident stirred by Tsubaki──.

“Thank you, Tasogare-kun. I’m sorry for worrying you unnecessarily after yesterday?”

Her voice brought Tasogare back to reality.

Senior Kanako looked at him with a gentle, typical ‘goddess-like’ gaze.

“If I looked unwell, maybe it’s because I was lost in thought? You know, the worries of a student preparing for exams. But I shouldn’t be saying that to you, aiming for a good university in Tokyo. See you tomorrow──”

As she was about to pass by, Tasogare stopped her.

“Wait, please. Can I ask something?”

The word ‘student’ was a perfect segue. Tasogare needed to say it quickly, yet without pushing her away. Senior Kanako stopped and tilted her head… always fresh. Her small-animal-like gestures, contrasting with her mature beauty, were transparent and endearing.

“Hmm? What is it?”

“Sorry, I wasn’t prying, but I have a close senior in the handball club. He goes to the same cram school as Senior Kanako.”

Senior Kanako nodded.

“Takaoka-kun?”

“He told me about your cram school’s summer courses, split into two parts. Meaning your birthday on August 3rd falls in between.”

Tasogare fiddled with his unruly hair while speaking. He knew it was a sign of his nervousness. He didn’t want to mess up. What scared Tasogare the most wasn’t not winning Senior Kanako’s heart, but being disliked by her, remembered as an unpleasant memory.

Senior Kanako looked at him intently, waiting for him to continue. Tasogare had always noticed; Senior Kanako always looked directly into people’s eyes when talking.

“Please go on a date with me… is what I’d like to say. But last year, you rejected me promptly, and I reflected on it a lot. It was strange to spend your birthday together without being lovers. You were completely right to refuse.”

Tasogare shrugged, and Senior Kanako’s cheeks relaxed into a smile.

“As a result, I couldn’t leave any mark on your birthday last year. So, this year, I won’t be greedy. If you have no prior engagements, I’ve planned something you can’t refuse. How about with everyone?”

“…Everyone?”

“I spoke to some senior girls close to you. You might want to spend the evening with your family, so how about lunchtime? Thankfully, your birthday falls during summer vacation. How about a birthday party for Senior Kanako with everyone you’re close to? I’ll just join in. We’ll handle the preparations, so all Senior Kanako has to──”

Tasogare then noticed the change in Senior Kanako’s expression.

“…Prior engagements?”

“Ah, …no. I mean, not exactly.”

Tasogare hid his inner turmoil. …Could it be?

His intuition kicked in. Senior Kanako’s reaction suggested──.

“Sorry. I’m not sure about my plans yet. I’m really happy you want to celebrate my birthday. But don’t get your hopes up too much.”

…Tasogare remembered.

When he entered this school, met Senior Kanako, confessed and was rejected, confessed again and rejected, and started to truly fall for her.

In his third year of middle school, he ran into an ex-classmate he had dated. She had always been his type and had become even more beautiful. She asked if they could get back together if he wasn’t dating anyone. He was slightly tempted. He wasn’t as fixated on Senior Kanako as he was now. But he refused. Because even without a definite answer, he had hope.

The possibility of dating Senior Kanako, even if uncertain, couldn’t be spoiled by another girl. He didn’t want to fill the seat prematurely.

It wasn’t exactly the same situation, but Tasogare felt something similar in Senior Kanako’s response. No plans set. Nothing concrete. But maybe hoping for someone…?

Tasogare watched Senior Kanako’s retreating figure, pondering. It was just intuition, with no solid basis. However, Tasogare’s love-related intuition had only failed once before.

The incident caused by Tsubaki.

The possibility that Senior Kanako might have fallen for the book-loving first-year boy, Amebare Asahi. Tasogare felt it might be true. But it was a mistake──.

──Was it really a mistake?

◆◆◆◇◇◇

It must be some mistake.

During Monday’s lunch break, Amebare Asahi couldn’t help but think so. It was unbelievable. Such a ridiculous thing couldn’t be happening. What kind of prank was this? Asahi only asked what it meant.

Why then, did Tsubaki’s round cheeks turn slightly red?

“…There’s no hidden meaning or anything. I don’t use my value as a bargaining chip. It means exactly what it says.”

In the classroom, Asahi’s seat.

Tsubaki, borrowing another student’s chair, faced him and bit into her sandwich. Near their school, there’s a bakery famous for its hard bread, open if you catch it just before the late cutoff time. The sandwich must be from there. A round pain de campagne, cut open and filled with ham and egg.

Tsubaki, wiping off a piece of egg from her mouth with a napkin, asked Asahi.

“Aren’t you eating? Your lunchbox?”

Asahi flinched.

“No. I will.”

“Why did you close the lid after opening it once?”

…This is bad. The contents of the lunchbox looked delicious, but that’s not the point.

After receiving the date invitation from Tsubaki, Asahi pondered overnight before reporting to Senior Kanako the next day at nine o’clock.

It seems like Tsubaki might be asking me out on a date… he said.

He even showed the actual smartphone screen.

Even Senior Kanako was surprised, temporarily setting aside her ‘shattering’ intentions. She peered at the smartphone screen from across the balcony, eventually muttering.

──In Tsubaki-chan’s dictionary, does ‘date’ mean to execute someone…?

──Senior, please don’t scare me like that.

──Just kidding. But what is it, really… a prank?

The conversation that night revolved around what to do with Tsubaki’s mysterious suggestion. They finally decided Asahi would directly clarify Tsubaki’s intentions at school after the weekend. He even sent a reply, confirming a talk after school on Monday.

So, Senior Kanako must have also known about Asahi and Tsubaki’s scheduled conversation after school. The proof was this lunchbox.

The lunchbox Senior Kanako had given Asahi that morning.

──I’ve asked about your favorite foods before. The school cafeteria is good, but sometimes it’s nice to have something like this.

Asahi was genuinely touched when he received it. A homemade lunchbox by someone other than his mother was a first for him. It was really… like a lovers’ myth. Next time, it’s your turn to make one, Asahi-kun, she said, and he agreed before boarding the bus. They both pretended ignorance as they passed through the school gate.

And then, already in the classroom, Tsubaki approached Asahi.

──Are you going to the cafeteria today, Asahi?

──Eh? Today… I have a lunchbox.

Asahi replied hesitantly, to which Tsubaki responded, “That’s rare.”

──But it’s easier that way. If you have a lunchbox, I don’t need to buy bread.

Asahi didn’t understand the meaning.

──What are you talking about?

──I was going to sneak out during the break to buy some tasty bread for Asahi. For your portion. I’ve already bought mine. Bringing it to the cafeteria… well, it’s not a big deal, but some people don’t like it.

──Wait. Tsubaki, you mean…

──You wrote ‘after school’, but why wait? Let’s talk during lunch break. Here. At your seat. Do you mind?

Refusal was difficult. After the first period, Asahi sent a message to Senior Kanako explaining the situation. The talk with Tsubaki would happen during lunch, not after school. At the end of the second period, Senior Kanako replied with an apology-laden message. Five in a row.

Sorry.

I didn’t mean to.

Good luck.

I wanted to see your face at that time.

Shattering lunchbox.

Asahi realized the meaning when he opened the lunchbox.

L

O

V

E

The first thing that caught his eye was that word. White rice served as a canvas, with the word “LOVE” crafted from toasted seaweed.

The moment Asahi opened the lunchbox, Tsubaki was unwrapping her sandwich, a lucky break. Even a single glance could be dangerous. The “LOVE” wasn’t the only thing.

“LOVE” was surrounded by a heart made of sakura denbu, very conspicuous. In a way, inconspicuous because countless other hearts scattered over the rice. These too were made of seaweed, cut into small hearts.

On the side with the side dishes, demarcated by leaves of green perilla shaped into hearts, the storm of hearts continued. Hamburg steaks shaped into hearts. Carrot slices cut into heart shapes. Kamaboko fish cake, not heart-shaped but cut to look like one. The only non-heart items were mini tomatoes and tamagoyaki.

How did she manage to burn them like that, Asahi wondered. Did she use a branding iron, or some other technique? Each of the three pieces of tamagoyaki had burnt characters.

Big

Crush

Regardless of Asahi’s preferences, Senior Kanako’s words about his favorite foods seemed irrelevant. He liked them all, but he hadn’t mentioned hamburg steak, tamagoyaki, kamaboko, or carrots to Senior Kanako.

It was clear that Senior Kanako had chosen the side dishes based solely on whether they could be shaped into hearts—whether the lunchbox could slowly and thoroughly ‘shatter’ Asahi’s heart at school.

Asahi’s quick re-closing of the lid, followed by his heart racing, was only natural. This was indeed a ‘shattering’ lunchbox crafted for Asahi’s reaction. It might have been funny under normal circumstances, but the timing was terrible. Senior Kanako probably hadn’t expected him to open it in front of Tsubaki.

No wonder she apologized. Asahi was somewhat annoyed, despite feeling grateful and moved.

“Asahi? What’s wrong?”

“N-nothing, it’s fine.”

“Then eat?”

Not opening the lunchbox any further would be too unnatural. Asahi, deciding to act, reopened it with his left hand, claiming it was unintentional and using the lid in his left hand to cover the contents while he picked up his chopsticks with his right. “Please,” he silently prayed to the heavens. Luckily, Tsubaki didn’t interfere with Asahi’s actions.

“Anyway, just like that. …Please go on a date with me, Asahi. That’s what I meant when I said I had a favor to ask. Don’t get too excited about it. A normal date… something safe and cliché is fine.”

“…Why?”

Asahi hadn’t led a life where he could consider suddenly being ardently loved by Tsubaki. Even though he was currently dating the goddess-like Senior Kanako, he couldn’t get carried away.

Tsubaki bit into her sandwich again.

As she chewed, she spoke, “I told you, I reflected on things, right? I still love Senior Kanako a lot. My feelings of reverence for her as a goddess haven’t changed. But I realized it’s not good to focus only on that. So, I thought of rehabilitating myself. To face people other than Senior Kanako… Asahi, don’t stare at me while I eat. It’s a bit embarrassing.”

“Ah, …sorry. I get your point, Tsubaki, but why me?”

“Because it was Asahi who made me realize it.”

Tsubaki answered smoothly, stuffing the rest of her first sandwich into her mouth. As she took out another sandwich from the bag, she continued in a joking tone.

“Besides, who can I ask for a rehab date? I can’t invite a guy who has a girlfriend, right? Especially if that girlfriend seriously loves her boyfriend. She’d hate the idea of him going on a date with another girl. Even more so if they were seen──”

…Asahi considered quickly devouring his lunchbox contents while Tsubaki was unwrapping her sandwich.

But he couldn’t. This ‘shattering’ lunchbox, though a nuisance now, was fundamentally a homemade meal prepared by Senior Kanako after waking up early. She must have expected him to enjoy it even as he reacted. He couldn’t just gulp it down without savoring the taste.

“So inviting an untrustworthy guy would be scary, and asking a girl might make me think of Senior Kanako unnecessarily during the date──”

However, the idea of messing up the “LOVE” and hearts on the rice to hide them was equally unappealing. Breaking the heart-shaped carrots and hamburgers with his chopsticks felt wrong. So, he had no choice but to eat discreetly, keeping the full view hidden with the lid…

“In Asahi’s case, there’s no problem. You’re obviously safe, probably don’t have a girlfriend, and I bet your summer schedule is wide open… Asahi?”

Asahi had just hurriedly shoved a heart-shaped hamburger into his mouth.

Tsubaki, who had been chuckling, now furrowed her brows, looking at Asahi. He was sweating, having bitten off more than he could chew. He struggled to swallow the large piece of hamburger.

“What’s wrong? …Asahi, say something. I’m just joking.”

Tsubaki looked troubled, biting into her new sandwich.

“I’m really sorry to Asahi. …You could at least retort that I’m only asking you because you don’t even have boyfriend prospects. If you don’t, it just sounds like I’m bad-mouthing you.”

“Ah, uh… sorry, …”

Carrot.

“Asahi usually retorts quite well, right? I thought that wasn’t too bad either.”

Kamaboko.

“That’s true… but Tsubaki, you should go on dates with someone you like…”

Rice hiding the “LOVE” and hearts.

“Egg with the letter ‘S’ burnt on it.

“It’s too rigid, Asahi. I’m saying it’s fine, so you can just join me for practice. I might be saying this myself, but I’m obviously a beautiful girl. You can think of it as practice. …Or do you already have someone you like? Someone you’d avoid dating another girl for?”

At that moment, Asahi was picking up a safe mini tomato with his chopsticks. Tsubaki narrowed her eyes for the first time today.

“Don’t tell me, Asahi, you actually have feelings for Senior Kanako──”

Asahi nearly choked on the mini tomato in his haste.

“N-no, that’s not it! What was all that talk the other day about then!”

“…Right. Strange. I just had a weird hunch. But that’s bad. I need to break this habit. That’s why I want Asahi to help me a little. I’ll properly… you know, thank you──”

“──Whoa!”

The voice came from behind Asahi.

He turned around. Engrossed in Tsubaki and the ‘shattering’ lunchbox, he hadn’t noticed a classmate who had approached. She must have returned from the restroom or somewhere else. But that didn’t matter.

Her gaze was fixed squarely on Asahi’s lunchbox.

“Wow, so that’s what Asahi and Tsubaki were talking about… amazing.”

The classmate girl murmured in awe.

“Asahi’s mom really puts effort into his lunchbox…”

Tsubaki stood up abruptly. Asahi tried to hide it in haste, but it was too late. Tsubaki peered down into the lunchbox. She was visibly shocked. Asahi saw turmoil and indecision on her face. For a few seconds…

A drop of sweat rolled down Asahi’s cheek.

Tsubaki bit her lip, as if making a bitter decision.

“Even with an extreme mommy’s boy… I’ll barely tolerate it…”

…Asahi was mentally damaged, but at least he no longer needed to hide the lunchbox contents.

After they finished eating, Tsubaki casually asked one last question. …So, Asahi doesn’t have anyone he likes right now, right? Asahi could only reply, “Of course.” Senior Kanako wouldn’t be offended by this turn of events. After Tsubaki left, Asahi reached into his desk drawer, fumbling for his smartphone, and casually pressed the call end button.

The real issue wasn’t Tsubaki asking him out on a date.

It was Senior Kanako’s reaction. At the time of their first conversation about the date with Tsubaki, Asahi hadn’t imagined this outcome at all.

He had been planning to discuss with Senior Kanako how to naturally turn down Tsubaki, to ensure she didn’t suspect anything between Asahi and Senior Kanako. That’s why he had secretly kept the phone line open during their talk, to convey the nuances accurately.

But who would have thought──.

Senior Kanako actually seemed enthusiastic about Asahi going on a date with Tsubaki.

Time moved on.

To that dense, midsummer night full of summer’s presence.

Senior Kanako, smiling across the balcony, said,

“So, I’ve got a rough idea now. It’s very ordinary, the very path that lovers throughout history have trodden. Asahi-kun, don’t mind me, go on that boring date with Tsubaki-chan.”

Senior Kanako had said something similar several times before.

At first, Asahi thought it was a joke.

It was the day of the ‘shattering’ lunchbox.

The night Asahi talked about the date with Tsubaki, he and Senior Kanako had a conversation at this same time and place.

──Ahaha. I heard. Asahi-kun was so flustered, and even got called a mommy’s boy. Hehe.

──When I opened the lunchbox, I really panicked.

──Sorry, sorry. Haha, Asahi-kun’s mama, meaning me, didn’t expect you to have lunch with Tsubaki-chan. My apologies. Mama reflects.

──Being called a mommy’s boy at this age is quite damaging… But the lunchbox was delicious. Thank you.

Senior Kanako leaned on the handrail, laughing.

──That’s where you’re amazing, Asahi-kun. You’re welcome.

──But the main issue hasn’t improved. Tsubaki seems seriously intent on the date. You must have felt it too, Senior, listening over the speaker. If I decline poorly, she might sense something between you and me…

──Then honestly going on the date is the best approach.

──Haha, not that again…

Asahi’s forming smile froze.

Because Senior Kanako deepened her smile.

──…Senior Kanako?

Time continued to progress, heading towards that intense midsummer night.

“It was just right. Thanks to Tsubaki-chan, I can kill two birds with one stone. Asahi Amebare can fully experience the mythos of lovers himself, and I don’t have to force myself to go on a typical date.”

Those were the words of my senior, whose eyes briefly revealed a flicker of emotion as she spoke.

Realizing that the senior was serious, Asahi Amebare continued to talk to her, troubled. He even consulted with Aki Amebare at home while she was drunk.

Aki Amebare answered after hearing his concerns, without any hesitation.

“Interesting. Just as I thought, Kanako Himi does have a naughty side.”

Asahi Amebare couldn’t understand any of it.

“…What?”

“You may not understand yet, Asahi Amebare. In this world, there are people who find excitement in having their lovers get along with someone of the opposite sex.”

Of course, not hesitating doesn’t mean it’s the right answer. Asahi Amebare still couldn’t fathom why his senior endorsed a date with Tsubaki. The date was approaching fast, at the end of the first term, yet his frustrations had accumulated. And then, the senior talked about imagining Asahi Amebare and Tsubaki’s date.

Asahi Amebare actually wanted to go on a date with the senior, not Tsubaki.

So, Asahi Amebare said, “Senior, I understand. I’ll experience what this mythos of lovers is like, but not with you, with Tsubaki. However…”

“However?”

The senior tilted her head with a small animal-like gesture.

She still seemed at ease. But her composure shattered immediately.

“Senior, please secretly follow us and watch the date.”

“…What?”

Asahi Amebare had been thinking about Tsubaki’s words. If she truly loved her boyfriend, the idea of him dating another girl would be maddening. Even more so if she saw it.

He no longer doubted that the senior truly liked him.

The intensity of her love for Asahi Amebare was not inferior to his. The way the senior looked at Asahi Amebare, talked to him, and teased him – it was evident in her gaze and in her words known only to Asahi Amebare. She felt truly loved by her. Yet, she still encouraged a date with Tsubaki…

“Did you forget? I said I wanted to think about this with you, Senior. Even if it’s just a pretend date with Tsubaki to avoid suspicion, I wanted to go on a real date with you. But since you said you didn’t want to force yourself to go on a typical date, as a next best option, I want you to watch me go on that typical date.”

The senior was shaken.

“But, Asahi Amebare-kun. Wait a minute. If I follow you alone, I might stand out and get noticed by Tsubaki-chan… Is that okay?”

“Then, I’ll ask Aki Amebare-sister for help. Tsubaki doesn’t know her. We can use Aki Amebare-sister as a shield, and if you wear a hat and sunglasses for a light disguise, we’ll just look like a pair of university students and won’t stand out. Of course, this is unnecessary if you, Senior, are willing to try a typical date with me.”

“Uh…”

Asahi Amebare wanted to unravel the senior’s heart.

He wanted to understand why Tsubaki’s obvious comments elicited such an opposite reaction from her. Why did her eyes hold a sense of relief when she said she didn’t have to force herself to go on a typical date, and yet why did she seem flustered when asked to witness it herself?

He wanted to understand more. The answer to how Asahi Amebare and the senior should interact seemed to lie beyond this. And to be honest, he was a bit angry.

Love mythos, trampled paths – these were fine. Asahi Amebare had considered such a relationship with the senior, but if it was her who suggested it, he wasn’t opposed to stopping and thinking.

But enjoying a date with another girl was out of the question!

After ending the secret meeting on the balcony with the senior, Asahi Amebare closed the window and curtain, then picked up his smartphone. He opened his messages with Tsubaki. Her latest message from yesterday evening read, “Anywhere is fine,” “Asahi Amebare decides,” “Somewhere suitable for a date-like rehab.”

Asahi Amebare replied with one word.

How about the aquarium?

To better understand the mysterious Kanako Himi – he decided to take on the challenge of the date with Tsubaki.

◆◆◆◇◇◇

The weather was good. Maybe even too good. The temperature rose from the morning, and even though Aki Amebare used public transportation, she was sweating profusely when she arrived at the station. It was the largest station in the prefecture, a major terminal.

But a cold drink had calmed her down.

“I just…”

Aki Amebare found herself speaking aloud, mostly because the person sitting opposite her – Kanako Himi, or as Asahi Amebare called her, “Senior” – was still drenched in sweat.

They were in a coffee shop inside the station, with a view of the central ticket gate connecting both the north and south exits. Aki Amebare and Kanako Himi had arrived before Asahi Amebare, observing from a seat near the glass windows. Kanako Himi was in plain clothes, disguised with a hat and sunglasses. Her beauty still shone through, but now it was her cold sweat that was more apparent.

“I understand.”

Kanako Himi seemed to have picked up something from Aki Amebare’s gaze. She nodded, her voice thin.

“What do you understand?”

As Aki Amebare offered a handkerchief, Kanako Himi accepted it. “Thank you,” she said softly, both as gratitude and apology, and wiped her sweat. “I’ll wash and return it. It’s gotten dirty.”

Aki Amebare thought to herself.

“Your sweat isn’t dirty at all. It’s like fragrant water, filled with Lactone C10 and C11, like a celestial being.”

Kanako Himi turned her gaze towards Asahi Amebare near the ticket gate.

“I just can’t help but get carried away because Asahi Amebare-kun is so adorable…”

Huh? Is she starting a lovey-dovey story?

“I love seeing Asahi Amebare-kun flustered, or trying his hardest not to lose to me. This time, it couldn’t be helped…”

“Couldn’t be helped? What do you mean?”

Kanako Himi didn’t answer. She clenched her fists on her lap, her gaze shifting sideways, continuing.

“Anyway, Aki-san.”

“Yeah?”

“What I mean is, I’m probably going to take a big hit today.”

“…Huh?”

Blinking in confusion, Aki Amebare listened as Kanako Himi drank her cold beverage. Unconsciously, she had bitten marks into the straw.

“So, I have a favor to ask you.”

“What is it? But just so you know, I’m technically on Asahi Amebare’s side.”

“Today, I’ll pay for everything – food, drinks, even the bill…”

“Anything you say? But you know I’ve always been on Kanako Himi’s side, right?”

“Even if I get hurt today, please keep it a secret from Asahi Amebare.”

At that moment, Aki Amebare realized something. Following Kanako Himi’s gaze, she understood that Asahi Amebare’s date, Tsubaki Nomachi, must have arrived. Kanako Himi had noticed it earlier. Asahi Amebare seemed unaware. Aki Amebare didn’t quite recognize the name at first, but after Kanako Himi showed her a photo, she remembered seeing Tsubaki in a local commercial.

Even from a distance, it was clear that Tsubaki was too beautiful for Asahi Amebare, though Kanako Himi was an even more stunning beauty herself. The intensity of this feeling towards Tsubaki was probably due to her attire.

Tsubaki was dressed in a cute, well-thought-out outfit.

Aki Amebare felt something odd. Her impression of Tsubaki, based on what Asahi Amebare had told her, seemed different. Tsubaki’s serious attire and her slightly tense expression did not match the “rehab date” Asahi Amebare had described to Aki Amebare.

It was likely true, but perhaps Tsubaki was more serious than Asahi Amebare thought. Maybe she was aware it was a date with the opposite sex. Isn’t that how most dates start?

Asahi Amebare might have felt the same. When Tsubaki approached, he looked slightly bewildered but soon managed to hide it, showing a smile as if revealing his determination.

Asahi Amebare said something to Tsubaki.

She looked surprised and then her face lit up with delight.

Aki Amebare looked at Kanako Himi, whose eyes, even behind sunglasses, clearly showed she was affected by watching Asahi Amebare and Tsubaki.

A midsummer Saturday.

Asahi Amebare and Tsubaki’s date began.

Aki Amebare was struck. She saw the turmoil in Kanako Himi’s heart.

◆◆◆◇◇◇

The myth of lovers.

A date too ordinary, trampled by countless people.

Asahi Amebare understood one thing clearly. A myth is universal because it is mundane.

By nine in the evening, the sweltering heat finally subsided. Tonight, the senior was not in her cat-pattern pajamas but in a simple T-shirt and shorts. Asahi Amebare asked her across the balcony.

“How was it? Did the myth of lovers seem as insignificant as you’ve always said?”

“Let’s reflect and organize our thoughts before concluding,” the senior replied calmly.

She looked mature, even smiling lightly. At first glance, it seemed like she remained composed during Asahi Amebare and Tsubaki’s date.

The summer’s Great Triangle in the eastern sky was clearer than before.

“Let’s go through everything about your date with Tsubaki-chan in order. I was watching from afar with Aki-san, but there are things we couldn’t see. I want to know how you felt at each moment.”

Asahi Amebare suddenly thought.

The distance between him and the senior felt like a miniature Milky Way.

“You said you wanted to think about this with me, Asahi Amebare.”

“That’s right. I understand.”

“Then, at the beginning. When Tsubaki-chan arrived at the station, you said something, and she looked surprised. What did you say?”

“I complimented her outfit.”

The senior was silent for a few seconds.

She tilted her head slowly.

“Asahi Amebare, have you ever complimented my outfit?”

“You’ve never really dressed up, except for the cat ears.”

The senior was silent again.

Then, with a pleasant expression, she said,

“I see. Tsubaki-chan was smiling, right?”

“Yes, she was─”

“Asahi. Sorry to keep you waiting. Man, it’s been really hot since this morning─”

“Tsubaki.”

Asahi Amebare interrupted her greeting by calling her name.

In front of the ticket gates.

The large passage connecting the north and south gates of the terminal station, with newly built commercial facilities, was crowded on a Saturday morning. Tsubaki stood out in the crowd. Asahi Amebare felt embarrassed, and there was resistance to dating someone other than the senior ─ especially in front of her. And guilt.

To break through these feelings, he spoke up.

“I like your outfit. The hairpin is cute too. Good morning.”

These were words he originally wanted to say to the senior. The sweet, casual stories she once told on the balcony. Even though it was before boarding the train.

But it was also his honest feeling about Tsubaki today. While he wasn’t fond of her personality, he acknowledged that her appearance was far above average. Maybe that’s why his words resonated with her. Tsubaki looked surprised.

Then, she looked towards the coffee shop where the senior and Aki were.

Asahi Amebare startled but quickly understood. Tsubaki wasn’t looking at the shop. She was looking at her reflection on the glass wall.

Unaware of the senior and Aki, Tsubaki turned back to Asahi Amebare after a while.

Still surprised, she murmured.

“…Maybe it was right to ask Asahi Amebare.”

As Asahi Amebare looked puzzled, Tsubaki’s face brightened.

She patted his back enthusiastically.

“Thank you. You do have your good points, Asahi Amebare.”

“It kind of hurts, though…”

“Haha. We’ll miss the train if we don’t hurry, let’s go.”

Tsubaki laughed unreservedly and began to walk.

“I was startled for a moment there, Asahi Amebare.”

Asahi Amebare nodded along as the senior continued to explain.

“Even though it was through the glass and sunglasses, I really did lock eyes with Tsubaki. I even thought, ‘Oh no, today might be a disaster.’ But Tsubaki didn’t notice me.”

“Aki sister was with you too, right?”

“I think that’s part of it, but I guess Tsubaki was also pretty flustered. Before you noticed her, Asahi, she seemed tense as she walked.”

“Really? Tsubaki, of all people?”

The senior hummed in response.

“Asahi, after such a date, do you really think that?”

His question felt like a sharp cut.

“Uh…”

“Even on the train, it started off awkward, but before I knew it, you two were chatting away. Were you talking about school stuff? Considering how Tsubaki was glaring daggers just a while ago, you’ve become quite close, haven’t you? Even more so after holding hands.”

“…The senior was the one who said to hold hands.”

“Did I? Wasn’t it just a hypothetical scenario?”

As Asahi and the senior exchanged glances, sparks seemed to fly between them.

The senior’s smile remained, but his eyes weren’t laughing.

“When you reached out your hand, Asahi, how did Tsubaki react?”

“…She seemed a bit bewildered. I thought she might shake me off.”

“But she didn’t.”

Unlike the hypothetical scenario the senior had described earlier, Tsubaki didn’t falter.

However, after getting off the train, Asahi hesitated for a moment before extending his hand to Tsubaki. Her eyes, round and wide, blinked in surprise.

“…Eh?”

“It’s rehabilitation, right?”

Suppressing his feelings of shame and guilt, Asahi spoke with a feigned calmness.

“Maybe doing this seriously has more meaning.”

Tsubaki stared at Asahi’s hand and chuckled.

She took his hand. Asahi tried to endure the prickling guilt that surged in his mind, recalling the senior’s earlier words. Tsubaki seemed somewhat pleased.

“Asahi Amebare.”

“What?”

“I should mention, this is the first time I’ve held a guy’s hand like this in private… Even though I’ve imagined holding hands with the senior a million times.”

Asahi couldn’t help but chuckle, realizing he might be in a similar situation.

‘We get along surprisingly well, Tsubaki,’ he thought.

The senior, still smiling, extended his slender hand from across the balcony.

His smile didn’t reach his eyes, which seemed somewhat displeased to Asahi. Asahi leaned out of the window and took the senior’s hand.

“Senior, are you really not jealous?”

“Not at all. This hand is just… I thought of overwriting the feel of that adorable girl, Tsubaki, that’s imprinted on Asahi’s hand.”

“You are jealous.”

“Not jealous. If I were grinding my teeth in jealousy, I wouldn’t suggest a date. I believe that even if you walk the same path with another girl, Asahi, your heart won’t waver. Even if it’s someone as adorable as Tsubaki. Even if she feeds you with her fork…”

“…You saw that too, huh… Ow!”

The senior’s grip on Asahi’s hand tightened.

Asahi and Tsubaki had finished lunch earlier.

They decided to eat at an Italian restaurant in the shopping street on their way to the aquarium, anticipating it might be crowded later. They chose the restaurant together and were seated early for a pasta lunch set by the window with a sea view. Only Tsubaki had added dessert to her set.

Asahi, having finished his oil-sauced pasta, looked outside through the glass walls, searching for the senior and Aki. He thought they might be watching from outside, but Tsubaki called his name before he could find them.

“Asahi Amebare.”

Asahi was startled by her trembling voice.

Was she tense? As he turned to Tsubaki, he was greeted by a fork with a piece of cake on it. Asahi burst into a small laugh, surprised.

Tsubaki, fork still extended, looked flustered.

“Why are you laughing? You said it’s more meaningful to do it seriously, Asahi. So I tried to do the same…”

“No, I’m sorry… It’s just the fork is shaking so much.”

Tsubaki blushed, almost retracting the fork but then, as if determined, pushed it forward more forcefully, almost annoyed.

“Just do it! Say ‘Ahh!'”

Asahi couldn’t help but find Tsubaki’s trembling figure, trying so hard, amusing. How many times had the senior attempted the ‘Ahh!’ feeding attack on him? Tsubaki’s simple cake ‘Ahh!’ was nothing compared to the senior’s various creative and elaborate ‘Ahh!’ attempts.

Asahi bit into the cake on the fork.

Tsubaki, watching the empty fork, blushed again. Then, she drank her coffee from the set.

Asahi just smiled and looked outside again. But as they left the restaurant, he suddenly realized something.

“Ah!”

“What is it, Asahi?”

“No, it’s nothing…”

He shook his head at Tsubaki. The reason she was so nervous and determined earlier, something so obvious he hadn’t considered: Asahi hadn’t ordered dessert, so there was only one cake fork at the table. It was Tsubaki’s fork.

…An indirect kiss?

This time, it was Tsubaki who reached out to hold hands, a change from earlier.

Was her palm sweaty from the heat, or from nervousness?

“By the time we got to the aquarium, you two seemed like best buddies,” the senior remarked, tearing open a bag of baked sweets with his left hand still holding a cake fork. He speared a piece of the treat with the fork.

“To anyone unaware of Asahi and Tsubaki’s history, you must have looked like a mythical high school couple. Not a pair about to date, but a fresh, sweetly-dating couple.”

“About being jealous, really…”

“Not jealous, I tell you.”

The senior emphasized, leaning over the railing, extending the fork with the sweet. Asahi stared at it. To respond to the ‘Ahh,’ he too had to lean forward. The senior waggled the fork, urging him on. Asahi reluctantly complied with the ‘Ahh’ from across the balcony. The senior then speared another sweet, eating it himself.

An indirect kiss. Just like with Tsubaki on their date.

“Listen, Asahi, I’ll forgive the weird turtle-watching and the laughter. I’ll even overlook the moment you both stood in front of the largest tank, absorbed in a strangely pleasant atmosphere. I’ll forgive the shoulder touches during the seal show too. Here, I like pistachio flavor, so let’s share.”

The senior leaned in again, extending the fork with the sweet. Share? Asahi hesitated for a moment before biting half of the sweet. The senior nodded in approval and ate the remaining half.

“I’ll even forgive you for buying that stuffed toy souvenir at the museum shop after Tsubaki said something… But…”

The senior beckoned Asahi. Another ‘Ahh’? Asahi leaned in again, but this time, the senior set down his fork and sweets and leaned in closer. He reached out and gently pinched Asahi’s cheek.

“After leaving the aquarium, that moment by the sea, was that part of the mythical date too?”

“Eh…!? No, that took me by surprise too.”

“No excuses. By the way, I’m not jealous. So, how was it for you, Asahi?”

It was Tsubaki who had suggested sitting on the bench by the sea after leaving the aquarium.

“It was fun today. I want to talk a little.”

They sat on a bench along the coastline. The midsummer sun and the sparkling sea were dazzling, but the shade and the sea breeze were soothing. Tsubaki shared some of her thoughts. When she finished, she thanked him.

“Asahi, do you remember?”

“What?”

“When I said I’d thank you.”

“…Uh? Oh…”

Asahi was lost in thought, watching a seagull, when Tsubaki’s scent mingled with the salty air.

Before he could react, he felt a soft touch on his cheek.

…Tsubaki’s lips.

Asahi turned in shock to find Tsubaki blushing, her smile shy and secretive. She clarified, not wanting any misunderstandings,

“It’s just a thank you… And an apology for how I acted before. Besides, isn’t this how fun dates are supposed to end?”

Perhaps, indeed, there was nothing more fitting than a kiss to conclude a mythical date.

“Phenphai!”

His speech was muffled, cheek still pinched.

“Phenphai, ouch, that hurts… definitely jealous.”

“No, not, jea, lous! Was it here where Tsubaki kissed you? Not jealous at all. I was completely at ease. I wanted Asahi to see just how relaxed I was. Like Asahi flaunting Tsubaki’s kiss.”

“Flaunting, huh… And even if I were to say how it was, it was just on the cheek, nothing much.”

The senior suddenly released Asahi’s cheek.

Looking less pleased, or maybe just making Asahi feel that way, the senior sighed deeply. Asahi touched his pinched cheek. “Completely at ease,” the senior had said. Asahi pondered. “Senior, I might have suggested this outing, but I wouldn’t trust Aki sister’s verbal promises. My cousin, though she may be.

I actually know.

In fact, already…”

“I didn’t ask about Tsubaki’s soft lips! It’s about the lovers’ mythical story. Looking back at your date with Tsubaki, it seems everything was as anyone would imagine, trampled and entirely predictable, right? Satisfied?”

“And you, senior? Watching our mythical date?”

The senior closed his mouth, picked up the sweets and fork, and turned his back.

◆◆◆◇◇◇

Aki lay sprawled on her bed in her room, dressed only in her underwear.

She idly tapped on her smartphone, alternating between reading comics, articles about couples, and playing games. She recalled the photos she had sent Asahi earlier, looking back at them.

They were candid shots of Kanako, taken secretly in multiple takes.

She chuckled to herself. Some were boldly close-up shots of Kanako’s profile, yet Kanako was too preoccupied following Asahi and Tsubaki to notice. ‘How distracted she must be not to notice these,’ Aki thought.

Probably when Asahi and Tsubaki were having lunch at the Italian restaurant, watched from a hidden spot outside. When Tsubaki did the ‘Ahh.’ Even in the photos, you could sense Kanako clenching her teeth in frustration.

Other photos showed her with her head in her hands, crouched in distress, looking away in pain, tearful eyes, leaning against a tree in a pose like a sullen joke.

“Kanako is surprisingly, or rather, quite a handful, huh… But I found it amusing.”

Aki laughed, rolling onto her back.

“If it was so painful, why did she let him go on a date with another girl?”

Was it just to provide her with entertaining material? Aki, not maliciously but purely out of curiosity, had forgotten that Kanako had asked her to keep this a secret from Asahi.

◆◆◆◇◇◇

Asahi followed the senior’s back.

“And, sorry… about the birthday.”

The senior’s shoulder twitched slightly.

The night breeze blew gently. The night was very quiet.

“I only learned about it when Tsubaki talked about it on our date. It dawned on me that ‘summer’ in your name meant you were likely born in summer. The day I’m going on a trip with my mom happens to be your birthday.”

“…It’s okay that you didn’t know.”

The senior answered, his feet still. Good. Asahi had felt the senior might retreat to his room without concluding the conversation. To prevent that and needing to discuss the birthday, he brought it up.

“Even if we can’t meet on your actual birthday, I’ll definitely make up for it. Please let me celebrate your birthday more than anyone else. …Senior. When Tsubaki kissed my cheek after the aquarium, my delayed reaction was because I was thinking. That thought is my answer to your question.”

“Were you reflecting on how fun your date with Tsubaki was?”

“That’s close to it. Of course, I’ve always been concerned about you, senior, but aside from that, I honestly had fun. That’s why I still want to date you, senior. While looking at the sea, that’s what I was thinking.”

Dating Tsubaki made it clear.

Myths are universal precisely because they are alluring. Love stories are designed for deepening bonds, to the extent that Tsubaki, even if just on the cheek, ended up kissing Asahi.

“I indeed experienced, to a certain extent, the lovers’ myth. But it wasn’t complete. Because it wasn’t with you, senior… not with the person I truly love. If it was fun even without you, senior, then with you… with the person I deeply love, it must be even more wonderful. Knowing this, only then it would be complete. I want such a date, not with someone else, but with you, senior, my love…”

The senior didn’t respond.

He opened the window and returned to his room. Asahi watched the senior close the window and the curtains, recalling what Tsubaki had said on the seaside bench before she kissed him.

“I was lucky to meet you, senior. Back in middle school. When you first spoke to me, it felt unbelievably fortunate.”

Tsubaki had squinted into the dazzling sea and continued,

“Thinking back, I believe I was in a pretty bad place in the first year of middle school. Disliked by other girls, with my father gone, and the timing just awful… If you hadn’t spoken to me, things might have turned out much worse.”

Asahi could relate a little. He understood the impact of losing a family member on one’s life. He hadn’t fully overcome it himself – living without grief or worry, thanks largely to the senior’s presence.

“I always thought I got better because of you, senior. But since the other day, I realized that might not be true.”

Tsubaki stood up, still gazing at the sea.

“Maybe I never really recovered. I was always sad, always hurt, always despairing about life. It wasn’t that you cheered me up, senior. It was more like, by idolizing you, I managed to barely keep up appearances… I see now it wasn’t healthy.”

Tsubaki rummaged in her bag and continued,

“But I have to stop. It only causes confusion for you, senior. I finally realized it, thanks to Asahi… and it’s probably a good thing, showing I’m truly starting to recover. I’ll consciously stop clinging to you, senior. This year, I’ll even resist buying you an extravagant birthday gift.”

“…The senior’s birthday?”

“Yeah, August 3rd. I’ll just send a message… I’ll work hard to see you, senior, not as a deity but as a friend.”

Tsubaki pulled a strand of hair from her bag.

Her “sacred relic.” She took a few steps forward and swung her arm towards the sea. Her hand was trembling. Tsubaki’s face was hidden, but her struggle was evident. Asahi chose not to voice his thought:

Throwing that into the sea… if it washes up on the beach, it might scare whoever finds it.

Tsubaki threw the “sacred relic” into the summer sea.

Turning back with a stiff smile, Asahi said,

“You’ll definitely make it. Kanako Senior will accept you.”

“Yeah, I’ve had my rehabilitation.”

Tsubaki now smiled genuinely. A butterfly fluttered between Asahi and Tsubaki. Asahi nodded and said,

“It’s not just rehabilitation, you’ll find someone for a real date soon.”

Half of it was a consideration, the other half implied he wasn’t that person. Tsubaki visibly shook, more hurt than Asahi anticipated, but only for a moment.

“…Right. Well, yeah.”

Tsubaki returned to the bench with a wistful smile and sat down next to Asahi, thanking him again.

“Asahi, do you remember?”

Asahi felt a bit lost as the senior retreated into his room, but soon reassured himself. Before closing the window, he had made his intentions clear. The senior wouldn’t leave things halfway, even if upset about Tsubaki’s kiss.

So, Asahi waited calmly by the window, gazing at the stars and the moon.

The sound of the window opening drew his gaze back.

Asahi was startled for a moment by the senior’s return to the balcony. Not by his return, but because he hadn’t anticipated his appearance at all.

“Just once,” the senior said, raising a finger.

“I’ll agree just once… Asahi, I’ll share my decision with you. After watching your date with Tsubaki all day and talking with you just now…”

“Sen, ior…”

“Aren’t you cold?”

That was impossible.

Even in midsummer, standing in the night breeze wearing only a swimsuit must be cold.

The senior had returned in a swimsuit.

“Watching your date, imagining if it had been me instead of Tsubaki there… I couldn’t help but feel envious. I understood what you meant, Asahi… well, I knew, but now I truly felt it.”

A monokini – it looked like a one-piece from the front but a bikini from the back.

But the senior’s outfit was more bikini than anything, connected not by fabric but daring lace, creating an impression more of netting than lace. It was black, the contrast between the lace and the senior’s pale skin made it even sexier than a regular bikini. The bottoms had a bold cut, with stylish long strings hanging down the sides.

“Ordinary paths walked without thought are just not for me. So, this is a compromise. I’ll shatter you to pieces, Asahi, experience the lovers’ myth just once, and then reconsider everything…”

It wasn’t entirely a swimsuit.

It probably came as a set. A black lace gown with rose embroidery, also sheer, adding more to the allure than to warmth.

It suited him incredibly well.

He’d be the center of attention at a white sandy beach or a resort hotel pool. But he was on his balcony.

Asahi ventured to speak.

“Senior, wait. That swimsuit…”

The senior tilted his head, curious.

“Does it look good? I bought it at a store in the station building after parting with Aki today.”

No, not that.

“I usually don’t choose such mature swimsuits. I used to go for something cuter, with frills. But you know, I had to shatter you this time. As you said, around my birthday. I was embarrassed but chose it with determination.”

Now it was Asahi’s turn to be puzzled.

…Uh?

The senior smiled and asked,

“What’s the name of the hotel where you and your mom are staying?”

Asahi answered, and the senior nodded.

“Then we’ll stay there too. I’ll call the hotel after booking and request adjacent rooms. ‘It’s for Ama Hare,’ I’ll say. I was happy when you said you wanted to celebrate my birthday more than anyone. Thank you.”

“…Wait, does that mean…”

“Don’t worry, we’ll celebrate on the day. It was rather last-minute, so my family couldn’t adjust their plans. My mom and I decided to take a trip for my birthday. My dad also agreed, a nice break from summer lessons. Of course, my family doesn’t know about you, Asahi. Oh, it was busy trying to explain things at dinner while being careful.”

“…Senior, that means… um…”

“I’m coming on the trip too. I’ll fully experience the lovers’ myth and clear my envy. But Asahi, it’s amazing that you got me to experience such a clichéd path at a resort. For now, it’s a complete victory for you.”

Victory… really?

I can’t keep up with this.

After his mythological date with Tsubaki, Asahi Amebare truly wanted to go on a date with his senior. He had even thought about celebrating her birthday on the actual day if possible. But secretly going on a trip? To a resort in the middle of summer?

The night breeze blew through again, slightly rustling the lace gown of his senior.

“Asahi-kun, can I confirm something?”

Leaning on the handrail, his senior pushed back her hair.

Through the lace, her skin from her neck to her shoulders, down to her collarbones, was visible.

“Does my swimsuit appearance excite you?”

Asahi Amebare was completely taken aback by this, the most surprising moment of the day.

He inadvertently averted his eyes. Even so, from the corner of his vision, he could see his senior’s reaction. She blushed visibly even from across the balcony, shivering slightly, and then, she smiled triumphantly.

“It’s frustrating, but now that it’s come to this, I’m also looking forward to it. At the resort hotel, in the midst of a lovers’ myth, I wonder what kind of face Asahi-kun will make…”

Asahi Amebare felt a dangerous premonition, and at the same time, another thought occurred to him.

…What if she wears a surprise swimsuit and asks if it suits her?

If I tell her that’s the same idea and action as Aki-nee, would she laugh or make a displeased face?

What Asahi Amebare didn’t know at that point was that his senior’s decision was almost a gamble.

The blind spot for his senior was that the realization she thought she had made before deciding to gamble was not enough—that the destructive power of the myth of lovers, experienced in reality, far exceeded her imagination.

Both Asahi Amebare and his senior would learn this at the sea in the midst of summer.

◆◆◆◇◇◇

On the last day of the first term.

After the ceremony in the gymnasium, the students returned to their classrooms. Except for a part of the third-year students burdened with entrance exam studies, everyone was light-footed, looking forward to the summer vacation. Amidst this, his senior noticed Tasogare Shimaō and approached him. Tasogare was chatting with classmates.

“Shimaō-kun, can I have a moment?”

No matter the timing, if his senior approached, it was always a priority. His friends, understanding how much Tasogare admired his senior, patted his back and left first.

Tasogare responded with a smile.

“Of course. What is it?”

“About my birthday.”

He had a feeling. His senior usually refrained from casual conversations with Tasogare, so as not to cause misunderstandings. And simultaneously, from her slightly clouded expression, he guessed the content—still, Tasogare kept his smile.

She continued as Tasogare had anticipated.

“I’m happy and grateful, but something came up.”

“…I see. I had also considered the day before as a backup. How about that?”

“I’m sorry. I’m going on a trip… with my mother. So the day before is also difficult.”

Tasogare nodded, understanding. He asked if it was okay to give a small gift, and she replied it wasn’t necessary and that she was sorry. After she left, Tasogare stood still for a while.

The third and second-year students left the gymnasium, followed by the first years.

Tasogare spotted Tsubaki and turned around… Asahi Amebare should have been Tsubaki’s classmate. Sure enough, Asahi Amebare also emerged from the gym, talking with classmates. Hesitant for a moment, Tasogare decided to approach.

“Hey, Asahi-kun.”

“…Ah, Tasogare-san.”

Asahi stopped. His classmates seemed surprised as Tasogare casually started talking. After greeting and introducing himself to the junior boy, Tasogare spoke to Asahi.

“It’s been a while since we’ve talked directly, hasn’t it?”

“It seems so… We haven’t run into each other much.”

“Ha ha. I’ve been accompanying friends from the sports club for their practice lately… The other day, when I visited your room, there was a book that caught my interest. Could you lend it to me next time?”

“Ah, yes, of course. I also read the new book by the author you recommended, and it was really interesting.”

“That’s good. So, when should we do it? How about having tea together sometime early next month?”

It wasn’t meant to be a trap.

It slipped out unconsciously, leaving Tasogare himself bewildered. He thought he had made a mistake, but Asahi shook his head calmly without any sign of being perturbed.

“I’m sorry. Early next month I’ll be traveling, and depending on the dates, it might be difficult.”

“Traveling, with whom?”

This time, Asahi seemed slightly shaken.

“Uh… Well, it’s just with my mother. Since… we don’t have a father in our family…”

“I see. Sorry for asking something strange.”

“…No, it’s fine.”

“Then, how about after your trip? I’ll contact you again.”

Tasogare made a promise with Asahi and then watched his departing figure, deep in thought.

…How many times had he asked himself since being first turned down by his senior?

Why am I not good enough? Why doesn’t my senior like me? There was never an answer, and so, he thought it would be better if his senior liked someone else than to remain forever clueless.

That way, he could understand what he lacked and eventually capture his senior’s heart.

But recently, a new doubt had been crossing Tasogare’s mind. Perhaps, somewhere in his heart, he had always felt it. Maybe it was because he had fallen so strongly in love with his senior, his first ever love of such intensity, that he realized this.

Could it be that there isn’t such a clear, convenient reason for liking or not liking someone?

Childhood promises. Certain actions at a moment. Fateful encounters that seem destined. Are they just convenient symbols in fiction, and real emotions are more complex, not sustained by just one reason? Even if they serve as a trigger, aren’t they strengthened and sustained by a more intricate mix of various preferences and circumstances?

If so, the question of why I am not good enough might not have an answer. Even if his senior liked someone else, and Tasogare became aware of that person and tried to improve something, it might be meaningless. In other words, forever…

For the first time since he started liking his senior, Tasogare felt his foundation crumbling.

📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.
At 9:00PM, Megami Senpai is Only Mine

At 9:00PM, Megami Senpai is Only Mine

Gogo Kyuu Ji, Veranda Goshi no Megami Senpai wa Boku dake no Mono / 午後九時、ベランダ越しの女神先輩は僕だけのもの
Score 9
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Artist: , Released: 2020 Native Language: Japanese
9 p.m., 1 meter.That is the secret time and distance between me and the goddess. Yes, the goddess lives next door to me.“Asahi-kun, why do I like you?”Kanako Himi, a perfect girl, asked sweetly on the balcony. I shouldn’t get involved with the boring me for the rest of my life.But it started when I moved next door and when she said she liked me.Irreplaceable days of gathering precious time with overly cute seniors.In the world above the secret veranda near and far, there is only my senior goddess and I know in this world.

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