It is the end of Golden Week along with the turbulence that came along with it. Something happened on a certain day in May at 10:38 pm.

I was glued in place with a smartphone to my ear. The man on the other end is my old man; he probably just told me something shocking, but it was so sudden that my brain couldn’t process it.

“What was that, pops? I can’t hear you.” I spoke with hesitation.

“Hm? Is the signal bad? You heard about your cousin Kanon, right? She’s Aunt Shouko’s daughter. I want you to take care of her for a while.”

“…………………………”

I was speechless.

The laughter typical of TV shows can be heard and dominates the silence in the room. His request took me in for a surprise.

☆☆

“Haaah……”

I heaved an audible sigh as soon as I hung up the phone. Slumping against the back of the sofa, I chugged down my half-empty beer as I listened to the background noise of the news. It was awful, as the beer had gone lukewarm and the carbonation fizzled out. Glancing sideways, I looked at the wall clock, and saw that it was just a bit after 11 pm.

Once again, I am reminded of the conversation that happened earlier. My pops never called me at this time of the night before so an ominous premonition passed through my mind. At first, I wondered if my hospitalized mother’s condition deteriorated further. However, he told me something I never would have thought of. Made aware of the circumstances, I tried wrapping my head around it.

And so, I accepted Pops’ request.

Though I had no real reason to refuse, my mind was still reeling it in. “Living together with a high-school girl, huh. No way…”

Kurachi Kanon.

Even though she’s my cousin, I hardly knew her.

Aunt Shoko, her mother, is a single mother who’s busy with work and they rarely visited. Kanon never left much of an impression in me aside from being the girl who hides behind her mother, who meekly says her greetings.

If I’m remembering it correctly, the last time I saw her was on New Year’s Day, 8 years ago. Aunt Shoko gave me a gift in celebration of my graduation. She did mention Kanon was a third grader back then… yup, it matches– she’s now a high-schooler.

“Kanon visited today, actually… Apparently, Shouko-san left and has been gone for three days. She was hoping I knew where she was. It also looks like she often does that so Kanon has been nonchalant about it. However, a girl living alone by herself is a problem. Kazuki, your mom is currently in the hospital and I’m spending my free time with her so frankly speaking, I can’t be her guardian. Now, I want you to look after her. Also, Kanon’s school is closer to your apartment than from here.”

My aunt suddenly disappeared. Various questions such as why or whether a missing person report has been filled popped into my mind, but I didn’t get to ask. No, it’s more like I wasn’t given time to ask.

“In any case, I need to clean up…”

Living together with a high-school girl carries the implication I need to do some late night cleaning. Since I wasn’t expecting anyone to visit me, my room is a mess. Considering the time, I couldn’t do any deep cleaning, but I could at least throw away the empty cans and garbage scattered around the table and stove.

One by one I crowned the cans, putting it in a supermarket bag after. It was a pain to deal with the empty food containers due to its bulk, and now I’m regretting using up all the garbage bags a few days ago and not replacing it immediately.

☆☆

The next morning, I just finished putting on my tie when the intercom rang. I spent about an hour cleaning last night so I’ve had little sleep than usual, but there was a bigger reason as to why I couldn’t sleep well.

I steadied my voice and answered—

“Yes?”

“Errrr… is this Komamura-san’s residence?” You could hear the confusion from the owner’s voice, possibly because I haven’t introduced myself.

“That’s right. And you could be…?”

“Kanon.”

Although her voice has matured since she was a grade-schooler, it was undoubtedly Kanon’s. Frankly, I was a little skeptical of the request last night, that it was a hallucination caused by my drunken stupor, but it was real.

However, there is no camera on my intercom. It was only a two-way communication by voice.

“Pops told me already. Let me get the door for you.”

After turning the intercom off and heading immediately to the door, I took a deep breath as I turned the key.

It should be fine. I wiped the floor all the way last night so there shouldn’t be any problems. I wondered why I would be bothered if she didn’t think the room is good enough since it’s too late for me to do anything about it.

As I pushed the door open, I saw a girl dressed in uniform standing there. She has a petite stature and is wearing a dark green blazer that compliments her brightly dyed hair. No matter how I look, she’s how I would picture a modern high school student. Her appearance in my memory is different than the one standing in front of me. Honestly, I was a bit shaken. Well, she is a high schooler, you can’t help but want to dress up in different ways.

Her uniform, though…

I wonder why my eyes are drawn in by a high schooler’s uniform.

“Ahh, uhm, it’s been a long time, sir.”

Nervously, Kanon’s gaze wanders around and makes an awkward greeting. When others are nervous, one can’t help but feel calm as a result.

Okay then! This should be the part where I show off my dignity as an adult. Although, I’ve never been conscious of that myself until now. “Come in. Let’s get you settled for now.”

Nice, I thought, I didn’t choke on my words. Following me, Kanon walks into my doorway. For a moment I felt my eyebrow crease, though I have no idea why.

She took her shoes off and orients it properly.

“First, your luggage. You can leave it as you please for now.”

“…Right.”

With a murmur, she followed me right after. Did she notice I was being pretentious? When she entered the room, it felt as if she threw away her formality and it made me a bit upset. As expected of a high school girl.

Taking a peek at her luggage, I noticed it only consisted of a Boston bag and her schoolbag which I thought was a bit few for a girl her age. She must have brought the bare minimum.

“Have you eaten breakfast yet?”

“I bought some bread from the convenience store in front of the station.”

Her reply was more blunt than it was before.

Is she wary of me? To be honest, I don’t even know how to treat girls around my age, either. I only have a younger brother, and back when I was still a student, I couldn’t relate with my classmates’ older sister talks. However, even if she is a high school student, she’s family.

I’ll get used to it eventually. Probably.

In any case, I felt relieved at Kanon’s reply. The only thing remotely close to being considered breakfast here is a loaf of bread. Aside from that, the only items in the fridge are bottled water, cheap booze, eggs, kimchi, and dried squid. I also know it’s not a good idea to let a student eat kimchi and squid in the morning.

My eyes met with Kanon’s. She stared at me in silence. She then surveyed the room and finally looked at me again. Her eyes are by no means warm. In fact, they feel rather cold.

“Is something the matter?”

Did she see something unpleasant? I believe I did my best to clean last night, so she shouldn’t see anything weird. There should only be ordinary furniture and normal household items, I think.

“…It’s nothing.”

She averted her gaze, giving her an “I have nothing to say to you” vibe. I don’t understand. Dealing with a high school girl sure is difficult, huh?

The time right now suddenly occurred to me, so I looked at the clock.

…I should start going now or else I would miss my usual train.

“It’s time for me to go to work. Do you know how to get to your school from here? Want to go to the station together?”

“No, it’s fine, I have a smartphone. That’s enough for me.”

Her reply showed indifference as she dragged her finger on the smartphone’s screen. Seeing how she manages to glide her finger across, she’s probably more familiar with its operation than I am. I only use mine for its games and occasional phone calls from my colleagues.

“I guess that’s it, then. Let’s talk in detail once I get back. That said though, I’ll probably be home late so I’m giving you a copy of the key.”

I gave her the duplicate I saw while I was cleaning last night.

“…Thanks.”

Her words of gratitude gave me a small feeling of tenderness. She immediately hid the key in her wallet, most likely to not lose it.

“Bye then, let’s just talk about it more once I get home.”

“…Yeah.”

After that brief conversation, I turned my back to Kanon and left the house. Would I be able to get along with Kanon at this rate? A sudden wave of anxiousness attacks me, I couldn’t help but think about it now.

I probably should return as soon as possible if time permits. It’s not a particularly busy time for me, anyway. I steadied my resolve as I walked through the hallway.

The morning sunshine casts on half of my body. Today’s sky is clear, but the forecast said it was going to rain in the evening. It wouldn’t matter anyway if I get home before that. I immediately ignored the thought about the weather as I pushed the elevator button.

☆☆

It’s 5 p.m. The chime that signals the end of work echoes throughout the office. I already cleaned up my desk and stood up the time the chime rang.

“Hey, Komamura. You want to go for a drink later?” My co-worker, Isobe, asked me as he yawned.

“No, I’m going home.”

I might have gone if I didn’t have any prior plans, but Kanon should already be waiting for me at home. I’d already decided this morning to go home at the end of work today.

“I suppose you should.  You look like you’re ready to leave already. Later then.”

Leaning back in his chair, he stretched his hands and waved goodbye. He stopped pressing me for reasons when I refused one too many times. He might also think of me as a moody person, though I wouldn’t disagree with that. However, I didn’t say no just because I didn’t feel like joining him. But if I told him the reason, it would’ve been hard for me to explain.

I quickly left the company grounds without looking back.

☆☆

The evening train was crowded, unlike this morning. It seems that there were halted trips due to an accident. Because of this, the volume of passengers waiting increased. Though it isn’t the morning rush hour, there were enough for bodies to touch and to cramp the train. There were also people chatting and it made the car quite noisy.

I was gripping the strap of my bag as I was staring at a headache ad when the car jolted. A middle-aged man positioned in front of me suddenly lost balance and it made his head hit my glasses, slightly misaligning it. I quickly fixed it with one hand.

This man didn’t show any signs of looking back or apologizing. It made me a bit pissed. Saying anything unnecessary would just cause one to get caught in strange circumstances. I don’t want to get involved in anything troublesome.

I calmed down, and tried to look back at the ad in front of me again, but…

(…Hm?)

I felt uneasy.

It’s something I would’ve normally overlooked, it’s something really trivial, but something tells me it isn’t just that.

In front of the middle-aged man who butted heads with my glasses, was a young girl facing away from him. With her body and hands in close proximity with the entranceway, it created the feeling of a slightly cramped atmosphere. It’s a pretty common scenario you could see when trains are crowded.

However, her expression shows otherwise.

(No way…?)

I looked at the man in front of me again. His distance to the girl looked very close. Since it’s crowded, being squeezed was unavoidable but even so… it made me uncomfortable because…

“A molester?”

But I couldn’t see his hands from where I was standing. The large man beside him acted as a perfect wall.

What should I do?

No.

I didn’t do anything. It’s possible I mistook it for something else. If that’s the case, I would’ve given the man an undeserved social death. There was also a chance of him going on a frenzied rage.

That’s right, I’ll just pretend I didn’t see anything—

But my eyes locked with hers at the right moment.

She was a girl next to the glass doorway. Her expression is strained and it looked as if she was about to complain. At that moment, Kanon’s face and frank replies came to mind. The girl appears to be the same age as her.

……………………

Was it five seconds? Ten? Or maybe even thirty. I didn’t know how much time had passed but I’m sure I was worried.

The longer time had passed, the more my feelings of wanting to help her grew.

What would I do if she were Kanon?

Wouldn’t I move without hesitation?

I looked at the glass doorway again. She shut her eyes as if she were resisting.

This guy was definitely a molester, no doubt about it.

I decided to grab the man’s shoulder.

“—Huh?!”

His shoulders shook as he looked back at me. His eyes opened wide and met mine in astonishment. The fear in his eyes was evident, he probably thought he wouldn’t get caught.

But then–

The train came to a halt with a thud. The jolt almost knocked me over, causing me to remove my grip on the man’s shoulder.

Damn it. We arrived at the station!

Soon after the door opened, the girl rushed forward to the platform in a hurry. Following suit, the man got off the train to escape.

I chased after him.

Unfortunately, the station was crawling with people rushing to get home. He easily slipped past the crowd and in no time disappeared. I tried to follow but as if on cue, a ton of people poured out of the train that just arrived so I wasn’t able to move as fast as I should have. It was now impossible for me to try and chase him down.

“Shit!”

I let on a cry of regret.

I let him escape…

But what was with him? He was too fast, was he used to it?

I got reminded about the girl. She was still standing in the middle of the station, stunned. Judging from her pale face, I was sure the man was a molester.

It’s true that thighs can be seen from her short pants, but it was common sense to know it was something you could touch without consent.

“Are you okay?”

I called out to her. Her shoulder shuddered in surprise before she turned to me.

“Ah?! Ah, y-yes.”

“I could be wrong but… did he touch you?”

“Yes… he did… Molesters do exist, huh…?”

A pang of guilt hit me. If I got a hold of him properly, I could’ve caught him and handed him over to the station attendant.

“Do you want to report that old geezer’s characteristics to the police? I could give a testimony.”

“Eh?! No, it’s fine, really.”

“But—”

“Thank you very much for doing that, though. It’s the first time that has ever happened to me so I was caught off guard… but I’ll be sure to speak up next time!”

“You may not be able to get off scot free next time.”
“T-that may be true, but… Uhm, it’s really fine, you don’t have to report it! It’s really, really okay!”

She’s adamant about it for some reason. Even if she’s okay with it, other women might not and…

But, there’s no reason for me, an unrelated person, to go so far. Should I abide by her request and not inform the staff? It doesn’t sit well with me, though.

“If you go so far as to say that then… I’ll leave it at that.”
Punishment would come for that old geezer sooner or later.

After leaving it all up to God, I lined up again. Naturally, the train I was on had left so I need to wait for the next one. Speaking of, I need to get home quickly. I had completely forgotten that Kanon was waiting for me.

“Eh? Uhm, you weren’t supposed to get off in this station?”

“Yeah.”

“So it wasn’t just my imagination that our eyes met through the glass… Thank you for going out of your way for my sake.” Her shoulder-length hair fell as she lowered her head. I wasn’t really able to help her, so she didn’t need to thank me. It had become somewhat uncomfortable, so could only touch the back of my neck in response.

“And, uhm, I don’t want to be presumptuous or anything but I do have a favor to ask of you…”

“Oh? Do you want to go to the staff after all?”

“No, that’s not it…”

She then clasped her hands together in front of her chest and—

“Er… just for today is enough. Can I stay with you for the night…?” With watery eyes, she made an indecipherable request.

“—Huh?”

I unintentionally grimaced with all of my strength.

☆☆

By the time I stepped out of the station, the sky was completely dark. As I hurried home, the girl from earlier trailed close behind me.

I haven’t successfully shaked her off since then. I couldn’t take advantage of the crowd as there were less passengers in the station than in others. I tried running along the way, but since I used a lot of energy suddenly, my endurance wasn’t able to keep up and she eventually caught up to me.

The last I did any sort of exercise was when I was still a college student and it made me feel a light sense of woe at the idea of my declining strength. I guess I couldn’t run as fast anymore. Lately, I’ve been drinking way too much booze and had developed a bit of a beer belly… I feel as if I’m slowly turning into an old man.

I look back at her again to shake off the sad reality.

“I think it would be better if you went home…”

“That’s the last thing I would do.” She replied.

…She’s a piece of work, alright. I’ve been saying the same thing from the start, and her replies never changed.

I was going to take her to the police station and ultimately decided against it because I could easily imagine things will turn out differently if she claimed I molested her or I asked her to perform sexual acts or even if she said I’m lying. Although, I don’t think she’s the type of person to do that, but you could never completely tell based on their looks alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if she totally did a 180.

Me or a young girl.

I don’t have to think twice on whose side the police would take. I think Japanese society could treat men kinder but… reality is ruthless, isn’t it?

However this is a problem. How do I shake her off? Should I try running at full speed again? Just as I was pondering over it, I felt a cold sensation drop on my head so I looked up at the sky. Oh, right. It’s supposed to rain this evening…

“…Hypothetically speaking, what would you do if you hadn’t met me tonight?” My curiosity got the better of me so I tried hearing her out.

“Hmm. Probably sleep at the park or under the bridge somewhere?” She declared nonchalantly.

“So that means you wouldn’t have asked any other guys, right? Tell me. Of all people, why would you ask me this?”

“If I had to say a reason… my gut told me you’re a good person. After all, with a slight eye contact, you knew and still helped me. Plus, your glasses make me think you’re an earnest person.”

“Well, even if that was true… how do I put this… your gut feeling could still turn out wrong.” I follow up with a sigh.

I don’t know if I’d chalk it up to recklessness or naiveté.

Well, it’s not as if I feel bad to hear a high school girl telling me that I “look like a good person”, but this is this and that is that. Hasn’t she seen news about underage girls becoming victims? It wouldn’t be strange if she got caught in that sort of case any time, so I’m a bit confused at the idea completely passing her mind.

“How old are you anyway?”

“Me? I’m 16, a second year high-schooler.”

So she’s a sophomore. I thought she was a bit more on the side of………

No. Now is not the time to remember things.

“A second year running away from home? Aren’t you a bit late for a rebellious phase?”

“That… maybe so. I’ve endured for so long and now I couldn’t take it anymore…”

“Were you scolded on a lot or something?”

“It’s something important… something tied to my dream… had been thrown away.” Saying so, a self-deprecating smile showed on her lips.

My heart stirred for a moment. I felt as if the things I buried deep inside my heart had been touched upon.

With that sort of timing, we’ve arrived in front of my apartment complex.

The rain was strong enough to soak through my shoulders.

“Uhm… even the entranceway should be fine, I can sleep there. Even if it’s only one ni—”

“What’s your name?”

“Eh?”

“Name.”

“Eh? Uhm, I’m Himari.”

“Well then, Himari. You can stay at my place just for tonight. But only for tonight. Yup, just this night. If I throw you out in the rain and you get pneumonia or something because I let you get soaked, I wouldn’t be able to rest easily. So stay. There is no other reason. I’ll allow you to stay just for tonight.”

I was insistent with my assertion so hopefully it got my point across.

Although Himari’s baffled face was frozen for a while, she eventually bowed down with a large smile.

“Just tonight is alright with me! Thank you so much! It’s such a big help! Uh, Mr…?”

“Komamura.”

Himari giggled for some reason.

“…Is something the matter?”

“Nothing. It’s just that my intuition is right, after all. Komamura-san turned out to be a good person~”

I don’t know what I looked like at the moment, but I probably looked as bitter as the time I ate gourd for the first time.

☆☆

Himari and I stood frozen at the doorway.

I have never been more disgusted at my own carelessness than I was today.

Why didn’t it cross my mind that Kanon and Himari might end up batting it out…?

No. Aren’t there way too many anomalies happening to me in one day?

Just like a tokoroten pressed out, I couldn’t help but forget this morning’s events…

To make it worse, I only ever remembered Kanon once while I was at the station.

Kanon was petrified for a while. With doubt written all over her face, she stared at me in disbelief and uttered a short line.

“Is she your girlfriend? …Are you a lolicon?”

Those words gouged my heart far more than I had expected. But as if she wanted to drive the situation further down the drain, Kanon also opened her mouth—

“Could she be your live-in girlfriend? Eh? But the uniform… A high schooler? Eh? You had such tastes, Komamura-san…?”

“She’s not my girlfriend, okay? Both of you calm down and listen. None of you are my girlfriend. These were just unavoidable courses of events, only a coincidence. So calm down, okay?”

No, I’m the least calm in this room. But how can I be when I’m suspected of being a lolicon? My preference is an adult woman with a hint of sexiness and looks good in black stockings, someone who looks as if she would spoil me rotten will be the crème de la crème. The two of them are directly antithetical to that.

No, if I were to be held at gunpoint and say that youth is a negative factor then that’s not the i—

Wait, what the heck am I thinking?

And why did I even think of a scene wherein a man gets caught cheating?

What am I even going on about?

…Crap, I have no idea.

“Let’s all go inside for now and I’ll explain, okay?”

I don’t know if my honest-to-goodness confusion got through but Kanon was still dumbfounded as I prompted them to come inside.

I own the unit and yet I’m under the impression our roles were reversed.

☆☆

“……………”

After I finished explaining the details, silence fell in the confined kitchen. Oh yeah, since I don’t have enough chairs for three people, we were all standing up. Needless to say, standing up in your own house talking to other people is a surreal experience.

“So, you forgot about me.” Kanon sulked in a murmur.

“I’m really sorry…”

There was nothing else to do but to apologize. No one would feel good about being told that their existence was forgotten. Moreover, Kanon arrived just this morning. This is her first day in a completely new environment. Though it is a first for me, too…

Yet if my cousin said they forgot about me then I’d be upset.

“Uhm… sorry… I guess I should—” Maybe it had become uncomfortable for her so she began to quietly retreat. And then—

groooooooooowl

A loud sound of hunger resounded out.

The owner of that sound was immediately apparent. It was because Kanon had turned bright red and looked away.

Hunger, huh…? It reminds me that I’m quite hungry, too.

“I…I’m hungry but……” She said, while pouting.

I gasped at her words, hopping had entirely slipped my mind. It was all because of Himari but I’m not going to make any excuses— I knew I had no decent food here since morning.

“Sorry, I’ve completely forgotten about groceries with all the confusion… I’m going to order pizza, would that be okay?”

“No, it’s not. If there’s no food then it can’t be avoided then. I could go shopping right now but… there are no supermarkets or convenience stores here nearby, right?”

Yep. This neighborhood is entirely residential. It takes 20 minutes to go to the nearest convenience store on foot.

Basically, it’s a 40 minute walk.

That’s why the rent is relatively cheap. So even when my brother had left, I could still live in a 1LDK apartment.

“It’s pouring hard outside and honestly, it would be troublesome too. Also, when I checked the fridge, there wasn’t anything to be used in a meal.”

“Eh…? You checked the fridge?”

“Because you took too long to get home. I was hungry so I thought I should cook something.”

“I… I’m really sorry about that.”

“Sorry…”

Himari followed suit and apologized.

“You don’t need to apologize anymore… I just want to eat something now. Hurry up with the order.”

At Kanon’s pushing, I brought out the pizza flyer I had saved and unfolded it. I usually throw them out as soon as they’re in the mailbox but I had set aside one of them just a week ago, thinking I should at least save one.

I pat myself in the back at my magnificent maneuver.

“I haven’t had pizza before…”

I couldn’t help but get fixated at what Kanon murmured.

“Really? Not once…?”

“Yeah.”

I see. Well it is true that it’s not easy to get into a situation like this.

“Then choose one you in celebration of your first pizza.”

“…Thanks ”

And Kanon gravitated towards the… the most expensive deluxe pizza, the one where you can enjoy all the popular flavors all at once.

Isn’t this girl overestimating the financial power of a salaryman? I have never ordered something like that even before.

☆☆

Moving into the living room, we briefly did self-introductions again as we waited for the pizza to arrive. Kanon’s luggage, which was left in the dining room this morning, is now placed beside the sofa. Next to her own luggage, Kanon is sitting on the floor, knees raised and bundled together.

I could almost see the inside of her skirt, so I quickly looked away and sat down on the couch. I wish she could have been more careful but stopped as soon as I felt it wasn’t the right time to point it out.

“Err… Himari, was it?”

When Kanon called her name, Himari, who was sitting upright in seiza facing her, quivers in surprise. 

“Uhm, y-yes.”

“Why did you run away from home?”

It was as refreshingly direct as it gets. Is this the conversational ability of a high school girl?

“Emm… you see, I have a dream in mind but my parents were opposed to it. I never listened to them for the longest time, so I never got along with my parents since middle school…”

Speaking of which, she did say that the tools intertwined with her dream had been thrown away.

“And next year, there’s my university exams. My parents wanted to stop me from pursuing it, but I didn’t want to… So I ignored them and worked hard towards my dream but—”

“What is your dream, anyway?”

“Eh? Uhm… it’s to become an illustrator…” Himari whispers to herself and looks down in embarrassment.

Kanon’s face showed adoration. It’s as if she doesn’t understand and yet she knows it’s a great thing. I was in the same shoes as her. However, I do know that being an illustrator is not a stable job.

“A-anyway… they weren’t okay with it, so they threw my collection of tools without my permission. They weren’t just analog tools like brushes and paint, but as well as my drawing tablet…”

“It’s bad enough to not ask for permission but to throw it out? That’s cruel of them to…!”

Even if you’re a parent, throwing away your child’s belongings is definitely going too far.

If this happened to a couple, it would cause a divorce. I saw it on the internet.

“It was so sudden, it was the tipping point… so I left.”

“I see… so that led you to wander aimlessly around.”

“I-I was actually going to rent a room by myself! I’ve saved up a lot of New Year’s money! I was going to prove to them I could do well on my own. I went to a real estate agency but… I was told that minors need permission from their parents…”

“Ah…”

Himari looks so docile but she seems assertive. Even so, she lacked something. It’s a shame, really.

“I stayed in a hotel for a while but I ended up spending all my money in no time. And on the train, I was wondering what I should do from then on…”

“And that’s where we met.”

Himari nods.

“What do you plan on doing now?”

“Hm?”

Once again, Kanon’s question is straightforward. It was something I wanted to say, so in a way, that helped.

“You don’t have anywhere to go, right? Do you want to go back?”

“I-I’d like to avoid that at all cost…”

“But you’re a minor. No matter how much you don’t like your parents, isn’t it still a better choice to go home?”

“I-I get that. I didn’t even know how much of a child I am ’til now… I didn’t even know I couldn’t rent a room by myself after all.”

I didn’t know if her indignation was directed towards me or perhaps herself. Himari puffed up her cheeks. I wanted to say that doing that sort of thing is what shows how much of a child she is. However, I refrained from saying anything that would affect her mood any further.

“But I still don’t want to go home… I can’t urge myself to come home… just thinking about it is very painful for me…”

“Then, how about staying here for a while?”

“Eh?”

“Ha?!”

Kanon’s words startled me even more than Himari did.

“Wait, why are you deciding that on your own?”

“Weren’t you the one who brought her back here?”

“Yeah but… I just felt sorry for her spending the night outside in the rain.”

“Isn’t that what other people commonly say to the police when they get caught?”

“ACK!”

She was right.

Regardless of the circumstance, the fact is that I brought a minor home with me. It’s a legitimate crime in today’s society.

“If a missing person report is filed, and the police find her with me then—”

Things that I didn’t want to think about keep surfacing up. Chills instantly spread throughout my body.

“Ah, I think it would be okay. My household cares more about keeping appearances… I don’t think my parents could stand it if word got out that I ran away.”

“No, what kind of family…”
“Well that’s… I can’t really say, sorry…” She casted her eyes down, seemingly in agony.

Is she a young lady from a well-off family? She isn’t going to turn out to be a daughter of a politician or something, is she?

This is getting more and more dangerous.

Am I really going to be okay?

“A-at any rate, It’s hardly anything newsworthy.”

“Then you should definitely stay here.”

Why does Kanon keep deciding on her own? This is my house, you know?

I was about to raise my complaint, when Kanon beat me to the punch.

“I’ve never lived with a man before… So maybe it would make me feel calmer and happier having Himari around…”

Those could actually be Kaname’s true feelings. She didn’t look in my direction. Is that her way of saying sorry?

I clammed up my mouth shut when I was about to speak up again.

Kanon’s household had always only consisted of her and her mother. My aunt never remarried. In other words, she’s never experienced what it’s like to live with a man. And now she’s living with her cousin whom she hardly even knew and a stone throw away from 30.

It’s a dramatic change in environment for Kanon. This was the first time Kanon’s anxieties really hit home for me. One could easily imagine it with just a little thinking.

Was that the reason for her cold attitude this morning?

And as fate would have it, Kanon and Himari are the same age. Would taking in Himari be better for Kanon?

“I understand how you girls feel but… you see… If word got out that you’re here then I’ll…”

“Naturally, I will fully cooperate so that it would never be found out.”

“M-me too!”

The two of them leaned forward as much as they could. I involuntarily scrunched my eyebrows. But, there was no way I could come up with a solution that would satisfy everyone in an instant—

“…Well, if two are going to go that far then there’s no helping it I guess…”

Their faces lit up at my reply, and the two of them smiled at each other. They are the same age after all, so there’s a tacit understanding I will never know.

“Please don’t worry. I will never let Komamura-san become a criminal!”

If there was an adult who would genuinely be reassured at that, then they surely must be really laid back or just a simple fool.

But it seems I’ve somehow become a fool.

Oh well, I don’t think that changing the number of people I’m living with from one to two would change much…

Or at least I’d like to think that way.

But honestly, even though it’s just a little bit, a small part of me is excited at the prospect.

Living with two high school girls…

If my brother were here he’d make a quip like “Where do I get this eroge?!” at the situation. I have a feeling that my ordinary life will be changed drastically.

And so, my life living with two high-school girls begins.