Chapter 4 – The reason he plays eroge

The evening sun flowed in from the gap in between the curtain. The first day of the silver week of his dreams is about to be over.

“Haa…….”

Lying in his bed, Kazuma sighed.

Of course the reason he was depressed was not because the first day of the long holidays is coming to an end nor the fact that his parents left the both of them alone at home and went on a trip to the hot spring.

Needless to say, it’s about Honoka.

“……Haa”

He reached to the side of bed and took his phone and reopened the mail he had just send.

『Subject: This is Misaki

 

To Odagiri-kun,

 

The holidays have started.

What will you be doing to past the time?

I know that you are busy,

but I would like to see you, even if it is just for a little while.

If you can make the time to do, please mail me.

 

See you soon.

 

Misaki Honoka』

 

With no emoji on it, the mail had a formal compositions and it makes a very stiff impression, which is exactly like Honoka who wrote it herself.

However, Kazuma knew. Beneath that cool appearance,  a bunch of other expressions are hidden. After being confessed by her and started going out with her, Kazuma would not have imagined that he know various aspect about the girl named Misaki Honoka.

The girl who thought to be the cool and perfect honor student, is actually not cool or perfect at all. Although he was surprised at the beginning, but now he thinks that it was to know about it.

That’s because the imperfect and uncool girl, is even cuter than the first time he saw her.

However, that’s why Kazuma is feeling troubled.

During the last date, Honoka brought up old memories that Kazuma had forgotten. In the past, Kazuma had saved her from a molester. That’s why she told him that she likes him.

But──I have allowed that kind of girl to play about molesting.

In reality, for someone who has suffered real damage to be playing about game about molesting one after another would definitely made her disgusted. Perhaps she had been playing the other eroges unwillingly but she is looking out for her “boyfriend”, Kazuma.

If that’s the case, I’m──

(The worst……..)

That’s no excuse for saying he didn’t know. Even if he didn’t know, they have playing it together for a number of times. he should have notice something was wrong sooner.

Because Kazuma is Honoka’s 『boyfriend』.

On top of that──

 

“If I would play with you these kind of games before Misaki-san did…….would we be dating now, Kazuma?”

 

At that moment, Kazuma realized something when Ruri said those words. He can’t clearly answered her about what he thought of Honoka.

Why am I dating Honoka?

Because she would play eroge together? Because she will become his favorite heroine? Because……she is a very convenient existence so is that why I’m dating her?

That’s not true──or so he thought, but it’s also a fact that Ruri had pointed a critical mistake.

That’s why I thought about it. If I continued to go out with Honoka with such feelings, it would be a horrible betrayal to her.

I might have forced her to do those things all this time.

While making her do all that, I can’t say that I’m in love with her for sure.

The more he thinks about it, the more miserable it gets. Kazuma became deeply immersed in the swamp of guilt and self-hatred.

“……Haa”

“What’s with the sighing, something wrong?”

“Uwa!? Sis? When did you…….!”

“What do you mean when~? The door was opened a little from the beginning you know?”

As he noticed, Kazuha was starring at him from the gap of the slightly opened door.

“Kazu-chan recently look like you always having fun, but when you started to sigh, Onee-chan became worried for you. Hey, hey what’s wrong? Did something happened? You can tell your Onee-chan~”

“I’m fine, it’s nothin──”

Kazuma tried to drive her away, but he thought of something.

Although his sister is a helpless person, but she is older than him regardless. In other words, she have live longer than he did. Perhaps he might be able to hear any stories that would benefit him.

To guess Kazuma’s changed of heart, Kazuha sat on his bed with a proud smile.

“Fufufu~ it’s fine, take your time. Onee-chan have finished my manuscript, so I have all the time you need~”

“It’s not something that’s is hard to talk about, but…….”

Facing her sister, Kazuma sat down and started to talk slowly.

──But.

 

*Groooooowwwwl~~~*

 

“………………”

“E-Err, sorry? Onee-chan have been sleeping until now, didn’t eat anything…….!”

“……It’s fine. You can eat while listening to what I say.”

 

 

And five minute later.

Both of them returned to Kazuma’s room, sat across the table and faced each other. The instant ramen that Kazuha made in the kitchen just now was in front of her, piping with steam.

“Haaa~……! Eating half-cooked ramen is delicious~…….Feels like I’m a novelist~……”

“What on earth do you think a writer do…….More importantly, can we return to the topic at hand?”

“Haa haa haa~~ *blow* *blow*.”   (TLN: i have no idea what this is. Anyone got a clue please tell me)     「ほ〜ろぉ。ひゃんへほひっふぇ〜」 )

While looking at the diminishing contents of the ramen bowl, Kazuma spoke once again.

Since he started dating Honoka, various events had happened. And now, he himself have a problem of his own.

Although she is slurping down her noodles, Kazuha was listening while nodding with zeal.

“………So that’s about it……What do you think about it?”

“Ah~ It was delicious~. Thank you for the meal.”

“Did you actually listen to what I said?!”

“I did~. Let’s see~……I have many things to say, but for now, here is what Onee-chan thinks.”

“Un.”

“This looks like you played an eroge in the past.”

“Huh?”

Kazuma reflexively gave her a serious look. In contrast to Kazuha, who continued to smile while stroking the bowl.

“Though there is a protagonist and a childhood friend who is the heroine. After many things happened, the protagonist started to date for the time being with mixed feelings inside. Then, he progressed on that heroine’s route~”

“Haa.”

“You see~, this is very difficult. He couldn’t clear that route~. No matter how many times he tried, it always became a bad end. Then when he searched for the information to conquer this route, he need to always choose the option where he needs to be cold to the heroine~. That’s a mystery to me~”

“In other words, you’re saying that my relationship with Misaki-san will become a bad end regardless what I do……?”

“No no, dont make such a sad face, Kazu-chan! Onee-chan have said too much. Cheer up~”

Kazuha’s hands (as well as her breast) were flailing and swaying in denial. However, since he had a feeling that’s not really the main problem, Kazuma didn’t showed a smile.

“……Like I thought, was that a mistake?”

“Eh?”

“About the thought of playing eroge with Misaki-san.”

He knew that a person has the right to choose their own hobby.

But now that he think of it, was he really aware of it? Didn’t he have a feeling somewhere in his heart that “eroge is not an embarrassing thing?” and ” in fact it’s really a wonderful thing.” ?

Because  he thought this was how it would happened……he wondered if he had overlooked Misaki-san’s “sign” .

“Though eroge is spoken bad about it, even I don’t want it to prejudice against it……However,  I think that sometimes you have to stay calm, look at what you are doing, and you will understand the feelings of those people who think that way, especially a game about rape and sexual assault.”

There are many interesting and wonderful works of art in the eroge.

But……Eroge is “eroge” nevertheless. No matter how many masterpieces are created, the day for the public to accept eroge in this world, will probably never come.

Although I’m not self-depreciating, but it might be more important to keep that in mind.

“……Kazu-chan!”

“Eh? ──Bueeh!?”

As he raised his face, his cheeks were suddenly slapped. Although it was not painful because there wasn’t much force in that slap, Kazuma was just simply surprised by it and raised his voice.

“W-What did you do that for?!”

“That’s my line! Geez, Kazu-chan, you idiot!”

Bam! Slamming the table, Kazuha vigorously stood up.

“Why do you say such things!? You said it as if eroge is to blame! What did eroge do to deserve this?! The ones at fault are humans! Didn’t the cathedral said that too?! That tool does not carry sins!”

“That is on a completely different subject compared to this……”

“No it’s not! It’s absolutely not!”

The minute Kazuha declared loudly, she opened the closet of his room with bang.

In exchange for storage space, inside the closet were stuffed with miscellaneous things such as otaku goods and textbooks from middle school.

Among them, Kazuha pulled out a cardboard box in front of her. Inside it contained the eroges that Kazuma had played so far.

“Kazu-chan! What is this!?”

“What do you mean [what]? It’s eroge…….”

“That’s right! In here contained the eroges Kazu-chan had played so far! Remember it! Remember the feeling when you played these games! Remember the excitement! Do Kazu-chan still thinks that the games here are bad!? You thought that [ It would be better if I don’t play them.] right!?”

“That’s──”

He involuntarily stared at interior of the cardboard box thrust before him.

To the general public, it might be an incomprehensible hobby.

Nevertheless, Kazuma thought that it would be better if he didn’t came across and play eroge.

Because there is a story that only have it here, a story and characters.

This box won’t be filled with excitement and passion if it wasn’t for a medium called eroge.

For Kazuma to conclude by saying that these things were useless was impossible. He didn’t want to do it.

However──

“But……saying [whether I like it or not] isn’t it a different story all together?”

Ever since Honoka told him about the time when she was being molested, there was something on Kazuma’s mind.

Even if he didn’t actually take action, the fact that he like eroge that involves rape, makes him the same level as the molester who made Honoka feel bad.

However, Kazuha was no longer answering his question. Instead, she took out one eroge from the box and handed to him.

“Sorry. That’s something even Onee-chan can’t answer. That’s because this is something Kazu-chan have to think by yourself. But remember this okay? No matter what happens, Onee-chan will always be on your side.”

 

After that, Kazuha  left the room……leaving the empty bowl of ramen.

In the room alone again, Kazuma was starring intently at the problematic cardboard box ──stuffed with eroges.

In a sense, the eroge here is the source of Kazuma’s problem. If he didn’t played eroge, Kazuma wouldn’t have made Honoka suffer.

However…….it was an undeniable fact that the eroge here have gave Kazuma tons of excitement and valuable lessons.

As expected Kazuma couldn’t tell himself that [I would have been happier if I didn’t played eroge] no matter what.

But…….Then where is that point where he can think that “It felt great playing it”?

Really, if eroge is an irreplaceable item, a bible that teaches important life lesson to Kazuma, isn’t there a way to solve this problem in the eroge……?

…….Then, once he noticed it, Kazuma took one of them and headed to the computer.

(…….What am I doing)

While eliminating the memory problem and reinstalling an old game once again, Kazuma was seriously concern. Even though it doesn’t solve the problem by doing this.

(But, well……just a while won’t hurt)

It’s not like a solution would come into his mind if he is having the blues──because he didn’t think of it. At a timing like this,  a change of pace is also important.

Just for a while. While telling himself that, Kazuma started up the installed eroge after such a long time.

 

◆◆◆

 

Then it finally approaches, the last day of Silver Week──

“……Haa”

With a yawn slipping out, his concentration was interrupted. When he turned away from the screen to look at the time, it’s already five o’clock in the morning. Is it about time for the sun to rise?

That night, after taking to Kazuha, Kazuma shut himself in his room and continuously replayed every handheld eroge that he had from the start to the beginning, both old and new series without a break.

……Although I did swear, I was by no means running away from reality.

It’s just that I thought of it when I was playing eroge for the first time.

 

Honoka has been thinking about what is Kazuma is thinking of when he is playing eroge up till now.

When she think about it, Honoka has never said anything about her thoughts towards eroge no matter which one she played. Which scene was good or bad,  which character she likes or dislike, even if it wasn’t an eroge, if you touch any product, there will be a reaction you will absolutely show.

Although it might be because Kazuma just missed the chance to asked her──but somehow, that was hindered.

That’s why Kazuma have decided to play the eroge that he have played with Honoka again.

When she was playing that──with Kazuma, what was Honoka thinking about? How did she feel about that?

Kazuma is doing that in order to know more even if it’s just a little bit.

 

However……

Over the next few days of playing eroge, as of the matter of understanding Honoka’s feelings, that’s a sad no. Rather, he feels like he is in a loss.

The only thing that Kazuma understood in these few days is probably himself.

Like I thought──I love eroge to death.

I know that this is not a hobby worth of praise. I know that the habit of a high school student playing eroge is a rule violation.

This is something I shouldn’t have done, I should be repenting, it’s not something I can say proudly.

Nevertheless.

Nevertheless, Kazuma couldn’t stop playing eroge. Can’t let go of it. Refuse to give it up.

Because eroge is so──so fascinating.

Even though he knows it’s wrong and bad, he can’t helped but to be engrossed by it.

……But what about Honoka?

The amusement of eroge. The fascination of eroge. It’s elegance. Kazuma wonders if he is able to tell Honoka about the eroge’s charms.

When he was considering it, Kazuma remembered when he was in middle school.

 

The first time when he got his first eroge.

 

And──a certain girl who made him fall in love with eroge.

 

 

When he was third year middle school, there was a girl who was already reading a book by herself.

She was alone because there was no one in the class who would speak to her. And because there is a rumor surrounding herself.

According to the rumors, “Her father was a scenario writer for eroge”.

At that time, Kazuma and most of people in the class probably doesn’t know what is this “eroge”.

It just that, in other words, it’s was understandable that it was something disgusting and offensive. That’s why everyone tried not to get involved with her.

However, no matter how people looked at her, she would always remain unfazed and look dignified.

Her eyes were indeed filled with determination, always looking forward.

 

I thought of talking with her.

 

I thought of becoming friends with her.

 

Thereupon, although I know I will be isolated from the surroundings, I still can’t stop myself regardless.

 

That’s why on that day──

 

“E-Erm! To tell you the truth, I……..want to play  that game called 『 eroge』!!”

 

The instant he was going home, they happened to coincidentally bump into each other at the gate and Kazuma, that right, called out to her.

 

……In the end, her reply was “why don’t you play it by yourself?”

To be honest, he was pretty overwhelmed. I was depressed thinking whether I was hated by her, and regretted talking to her.

 

But, after some time have passed, at the closing ceremony for the first semester.

Kazuma, who tried to go home, found an eroge firmly wrapped with a newspaper  that was thrust into his desk.

There was no confirmation.

However, I thought it was definitely her.

At that time, she gave Kazuma an answer who spoke out with courage.

 

That’s why, Kazuma have started to play eroge.

Once the summer holidays is over, let’s try and talk to her again, that’s was what he thought of doing.

However, in the end, that day didn’t arrive.

Opening ceremony of the second term. She didn’t come to school and attend lessons. According to the form teacher, it was decided that she was going to transfer at the end of the first semester.

She had completely disappeared before Kazuma’s eyes before he could talk about the things he wanted to ask her.

 

Up till now, Kazuma still doesn’t know whether his feelings towards her can be considered as love or not.

Then what about Honoka?

What on earth do I want to do with her?

He stared at the game screen in front of him. An erotic……er rather a good event CG was displayed where a number amount of tentacle was attacking the heroine on  screen.

……After playing eroge for several hours, there was something he strongly believe.

He truly believe that he is infatuated by this kind of assault-type situations──however, he had never thought of  wanting to put Honoka as the same position like the game.

It’s unforgivable for her to suffer and encounter such situations. This doesn’t apply to Honoka only but to Ruri, Yuna, Kauzha and anybody else.

Now, if anyone tries to question him, he can proudly replied that reality and fiction are completely different things.

However, it’s not enough just understanding it.

Think. What is the most desirable ending for me and Honoka?

That will be──Kazuma has fallen in love with Honoka.

Not with the ambiguous feeling he have now. Just like Honoka who thinks of Kazuma, all he needs to do is just to think of cherishing her.

No. I can’t do that. That’s what he thought.

In order to do that, what should I do?

While thinking, Kazuma was used the mouse and clicked his choice.

The next moment, the screen was dyed with red with special effect of blood.

“Ah……!”

It was the so-called instant death bad end. As he stared at the dimming screen, Kazuma was drained by saying “Aw man…”.

(Uwaa, I clicked the wrong option……what am I doing, I haven’t even save the game yet……)

It’s not even a complicated ramification of an AGV, because he intended to play it through the end, he thought that it won’t be necessary. That’s if he had just chose the right option.

(Oh well…… guess I will have to play it from the beginning once more……)

While sighing, Kazuma start-up the menu and returned to the title screen,

 

Suddenly, his hands stopped.

 

(…………Ah)

 

His eyes were attracted to the item on the screen, tracing back on that previous thought once again.

(…….I see)

Finally, I understand. What should I be doing now.

With resolve, Kazuma shut down his computer and stood up.

 

Before he knew it, the indication of morning was behind the curtains.

And the last day of his long holiday is finally about to raise it.

 

◆◆◆

 

『Subject:  Good Morning

 

Sorry for sending you an e-mail so early in the morning, if I woke you up I apologise.

Thanks for the e-mail  you sent previously.

I was very happy when you said “I want to meet you”.

 

To tell you the truth, I also wanted to spend time with Misaki-san today.

If you don’t mind, can we meet at the usual meeting place now?

There be some preparations needed to be done so it doesn’t have to be right away.

If you are fine with it, please e-mail me back.

i’ll be waiting.』

 

Kazuma waiting till nine in the morning to send an email to Honoka. Although he thought that Honoka might still be sleeping because it was still a holiday break, but the reply came back immediately. As expected of her, no wonder she is a honor student.

 

『Subject  Re: Good Morning

 

I will come rgisfes.』

 

“She is way too agitated!”

It seems like she was trying to say “I will come right away”.  For someone like Honoka who always sent a polite email, it was an unusual mistake. In other words, she must have sent it in a hurry.

(Wait now is not time to be retorting. I have to get ready to leave too……!)

For today, being late will not be forgiven.

In the first place, Kazuma was already prepared to leave once he received Honoka’s message. Putting on his shoes immediately, he reached for the door knob.

“Hmm~? Kazu-chan, are you going out~?”

“Oh, it’s you, Aneki.”

As he turned behind, Kazuha was seen coming down from the second floor. When he looked at her bed hair was in a mess, it seems that she had just awaken.

“Sorry, Aneki. I probably won’t be back till evening so you will have to do something about your own meal.”

“……Hmm. I see, okay then. Take care, Kazu-chan.”

After starring intently at Kazuma’s face, Kazuha smiled with a significant expression.

“Go for it, Kazu-chan! Fight!”

“It’s fine, you don’t have to do that! It’s really embarrassing!”

Sent off by his sister with a thumbs up, Kazuma was really embarrassed and left the front door.

 

◆◆◆

 

Kazuma left the house early and as a result, was the first one to arrived at the meeting place.

“Okay.”

For now, everything is going according to plan.

After that Honoka will come.

(……Somehow I’m getting nervous……)

Though he decided to kept thinking to himself “This is the only way” , but to be honest, he is not confident whether it will really work or not.

In the meantime, Honoka came at last.

“O-Odagiri-kun……!”

With elegant hair swaying in the wind, Honoka eagerly ran towards Kazuma.

He think she doesn’t need to hurry, on the other hand, it also made him happy that she is giving her all for his sake.

“Good morning Misaki-san. Sorry for suddenly calling you out.”

“It’s fine. Because, I too, want to meet Odagiri-kun……”

As soon as she said that, Honoka’s expression darkened. An anxious face.

“……Actually when I got an email from Odagiri-kun, I was relieved first then happy.”

“Relieved?”

“Because, when I called you before the holidays…….Odagiri-kun doesn’t feel like seeing me……”

“…..That’s–sorry”

Since there was no need to sugarcoat it, he obediently lowered his head. To he honest, it was fact that Kazuma was avoiding Honoka. And that attitude of his was also hurting her.

“……Then, like I thought……”

“But that’s not your fault, Misaki-san. It just that I’m troubling about something……so today, that’s why I called you to apologize.”

“An apology?”

Honoka repeated with mysterious and twinkling eyes.

Looking at her upfront like that, Kazuma told her. Even now, as his heart was in his mouth, but somehow, he managed to said it till the end without getting clogged up.

“Misaki-san, please go on a date with me.”

While his voice on the surface was as eloquent as possible, deep down inside, he was nervous to death and slowly reached out his hands.

In contrast to Honoka, who was starring blankly at him with twinkling eyes.

But immediately, she broadly smiled at the hand he reached out.

“……Yes, please, treat me well.”

“……Yeah. Let’s go.”

Kazuma gently held Honoka’s hands and the both of them walked slowly together.

 

The third date with Honoka had begun.

 

◆◆◆

 

“……Here.”

“Yeah. Misaki-san, weren’t you always interested in this shop whenever we passed here? That’s why I thought of going in here today with you.”

Kazuma came along with Honoka to the previously mentioned coffee shop.

Although today is a public holiday in the morning, the door of the shop have a neatly placed 『OPEN』tag on the front. The store’s business day and opening hours are somehow easy to remember because they always walk pass the store.

……No, to be precise, it’s not somehow.

Someday, he thought of inviting Honoka. That’s why he remembered it.

Opening the wooden door, they gently peeked inside.

The shop’s interior was properly lighted with the piano’s melody was quietly flowing in the back. Because the store just open, there wasn’t any customers. Although the calm atmosphere feels exactly like a coffee shop, it was a bit intense for high school students to lightheartedly enter one.

However, he can’t back down after coming thus far. With determination, Kazuma urged Honoka to enter──

“Welcome”

“Uwaa!?”

A voice suddenly called out , made him shrieked.

“Oh sorry about that. Did I surprised you?”

The person who gently laughed was a elderly man that wore an apron. Perhaps he is in charge of this coffee shop.

“However, it’s unusual to have such young guests. Even though it’s close to the school, there isn’t much student who enters the shop. Like I thought,  is it difficult to enter this kind of shop if you are a high school students?”

“Ah, e-err, erm”

“Ah, sorry about that. I started to gossip unconsciously. Please, sit anywhere you like. I’ll bring the water and menu right now.”

Gently walking past the stammering Kazuma, the master returned back to the counter.

“…….Since they asked, let’s sit down, Odagiri-kun.”

“Y-Yeah.”

Although, he felt like he had embarrassed himself from the beginning, but oh well. The real battle begins now.

“Here you go. This is the menu.”

“Ah……thank you.”

As soon as they sat down, the shopkeeper brought the menu.

Upon receiving it, Kazuma tried to open it immediately──Kazuma realized something serious.

“Ah! M-Misaki-san! When did you eat breakfast!?”

“Around seven o’clock.”

“……Is your stomach empty?”

“…….Erm, if I have to say, my stomach is not empty.”

For some reason, Honoka’s eyes were squirming in an unusual manner. It seems unlikely for her to speak in this kind of evasive manner.

Although he was interested in her manner, but the main problem was Kazuma examining Honoka’s answer of how much she meant by “not empty”.

(……No, but in end, i’ll just have to work harder. Something will work out for sure…….!)

Shaking off his hesitation, Kazuma looked at the master who is standing beside him.

“Erm, excuse me. I want to order the 『this month’s large portion』that is written on the black board outside.”

On the opposite side, he could hear Honoka’s breathless voice.

“Oh, that would be splendid. That’s my most proud work, but rarely people orders it.”

“Err, it’s a pancake right?”

“Yes. It has five layers of fresh cream, seasonal fruits and three different types of icing. Of course the maple syrup is bottomless so you can put as much as you like.”

“……So he says, Misaki-san.”

When he tried to talk to her, Honoka who was listening to the Master’s explanation had her eyes wide open.

“Then, I’ll have one please.”

“Certainly.”

“How about you, Misaki-san? Would you like to order something else? Today I will be treating so if you want something, just order.”

“E-Err, uhh, I……”

Honoka was noticeably panicking. It seems that her brain can’t keep up with the current development.

It’s a little funny. Normally it will be Kazuma the one who is flustered, but today that position had reversed.

“Well then,I’ll prepare the special pancake for now. I’l leave the menu here so if you want any more, please call for me.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Take your time.”

When the master returned to the kitchen, Honoka immediately reached out to him.

” O-Odagiri-kun.”

“Ah, have you decided what to eat?”

“T-That’s not it……why?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why did you”

[Know what I want to eat?] was softly said by Honoka, it so soft that somehow it seemed to have faded away. Her face was slightly depressed. And on that sad face, it was a little red.

“Well that’s because Misaki-san is always looking at that board whenever we went pass this shop.”

“……You noticed it?”

“Well….I may be like this but I’m Misaki-san boyfriend more or less.”

He intended to say it as a joke, but quickly regretted for saying something unnecessary. Upon hearing that, Honoka’s face redden.

Kazuma inevitably got embarrassed too and the both of them sat there, looking down with a red face.

“E-Err what will the special pancake look like……right?”

“The master said it has five layers.”

“A-Ahh I see……h-hope it’s good.”

“Y-You are right. It will be good if it is delicious.”

“Y-Yeah that’s right! Looking forward to it!”

However, I think that quite a volume for the pancake to have five layer. Although it might be obvious because it was engraved with the words [extra portion], but can we finish it?

(Well, it’s a pancake afterall. Besides something outrageous won’t probably come out if we are in such a small store)

 

──right?

 

“Thank you for the wait. Here is your order, [this month extra portion・special pancake] ”

Along with the gentle voice of the master, something dropped in front of Kazuma’s eyes with a “bang!”

“………….You’re kidding me.”

While he was dumbfounded, Kazuma was stared at the [pile] of pancake.

The diameter of the fluffy, warm and cooked pancake was just about the size of a large frying pan. The thickness is also not very common, with each piece well over 5cm. Such a thing piling up to five pieces is exactly what you call a masterpiece.

And on that mountain top, was luxuriantly piled with fresh cream, fruits and icing. The free for all maple syrup was terrifyingly contained in that jug.

“………………”

“Well then, please take your time.”

Without changing his gentle expression on his face, the master returned back to the counter and polished his glass.

(……Is it edible?)

No way. It’s impossible. For a minor character like Kazuma, this trial is too hard for him. What kind of face Honoka is making? Is he dumbfounded? Or is it criticism for ordering this without thinking first? Being obstructed by the pancake tower, Kazuma was unable to see Honoka’s state of mind.

“M-Misaki-san…….”

Kazuma slowly took a peeked at the opposite seat.

Then the next moment, he was staring intently.

(Eh……?)

Honoka’s eyes were sparkling at the sight of the pile of pancake.

And it’s already shinning. As if she was happy and having fun. Her fair skinned were burning with interest, if you looked closely, she is stirring around, eager to eat it.

It’s was different from her usual poker face.

It was also different from the face she made when she was bashful till her face became red.

That’s the first expression of [Misaki Honoka] that Kazuma had saw.

“Err……Misaki-san?”

He softly called out to her, but Honoka’s eyes were too fixed on the pancake and didn’t moved.

“……Odagiri-kun.”

“Eh?”

“Can I……eat this?”

“You’re welcome to eat it…….but.”

Before he could reply [can you eat it?], Honoka was challenging the pancake mountain.

“Ah…….”

Skillfully eating the corner of the pancake mountain together with the topping in a mouthful, a palm size pancake had disappeared into the mouth within seconds, instinctively doubting his eyes.

“Hmmm……delicious……amu….unnnn……..”

Like a hamster swelling it’s cheeks, Honoka was mindlessly chowed down on the pancake, and with an exceptionally happy face at that.

After finishing a slice, took another slice without an interval. Every time Honoka moved her hands and mouth, the large pile of pancake was rapidly getting smaller.

“Y-You’re amazing……Misaki-san.”

 

 

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Once he involuntarily muttered those words, those hands that were moving at lighting speed reaching for the pancake abruptly stopped.

“Ah……”

Dropping her fork, Honoka held down her mouth in a panic, swallowing the pancake stuck on her cheeks in a hurry.

“Ah, you don’t need to rush! Here, drink some water.”

With a nod, Honoka accepted the glass of water.

Drinking water and moving her mouth for a little while more, Honoka finally started talking.

“V-Very sorry…….I-I involuntarily……”

“Eh? You don’t have to apologize at all. I ordered it so that Misaki-san could eat it in the first place.”

‘…….That’s not it.”

Finding it hard to explain herself, Honoka curled up facing down.

“I-It’s not cute to find a girl that loves to eat right?……..”

“Really? I like it though. It depends on the usual characters, but it mostly have a good feeling in between the gap and it’s cute too.

It’s not rare to find a heroine who is hungry. Like king of knights, war hero or some aircraft carrier.

However, the moment Honoka heard Kazuma’s words, raised her face as if she is about to jump.

“Eh……”

That face which opened it’s eyes became red as soon as Kazuma looked at it.

Seeing that reaction for the first time, Kazuma finally realized what he had said.

“Ah!? I’m not referring to Misaki-san but to the 2D characters……! Ahh, but it’s not like Misaki-san is not cute at all!”

Despite trying to come up with an excuse, he didn’t know how to defend himself in the first place, so he end up speechless in the middle of their conversation. In the meantime, Honoka remained embarrassed without saying anything. At the counter, the old man shopkeeper was showing a face as if to say [it’s nice to be young].

“Err……..I’m sorry…….somehow.”

“……It’s fine…………Odagiri-kun.”

“Eh? Yes?”

“……Can I, continue eating?”

With a reserved upturned eyes, Honoka nervously looked at Kazuma. Meanwhile, Honoka’s eyes were occasionally starring at the pancake like she can’t hold it any longer.

As he looked at Honoka, herself and cheeks were loosened.

“Yeah, help yourself. Don’t mind me and eat as much as you like, Misaki-san.”

The pancake does seems delicious, but even if he was unable to take a bite, being able to see Honoka’s face like this, is more than sufficient…….Anyhow, it doesn’t look like ke can eat it anyways.

Or that’s what he thought……..

“I can’t do that too.”

“Eh?”

“This is not something I should have kept to myself with such a delicious food…….Please Odagiri-kun, help yourself without reserve.”

Although she said it earlier, but she cut a slice of pancake and served it on a plate. In front of Kazuma. From that point onwards, she was debating whether how much she should put the rich icing as topping and fresh cream on the pancake.

“E-Erm Misaki-san?”

“Well then, here you go.”

Ignoring Kazuma’s cramped cheeks, Honoka proceed to stuff her face with pancake once again.

However, unlike the last time where she was eating wholeheartedly, this time she was starring at Kazuma with sparkling eyes while chowing down.

She has an expression that looks happy at a glance, as if expecting something.

“………….”

While feeling the perspiration on his spine, Kazuma reached for the fork.

 

 

“That’s was delicious.”

“Yeah…….you’re right…….if I had to say it, it was surely delicious, but……”

For now, I think I’ll be grateful for my stomach not exploding.

After paying and leaving the store, they check the time. It was before 12 o’clock, it’s still too early for the date to end.

“Hey Misaki-san, about what happened after this──”

“Odagiri-kun.”

“Eh?”

“It’s about noon now right?”

“Yes.”

Well yeah, at this timing it will be noon.

What’s with this bad premonition?

“E-Err Misaki-san?”

“Hey………Odagiri-kun, there is a place I want to go with you.”

Bashfully dying the expression of her eyes, Honoka stared intently at Kazuma, as if acting like a spoiled child.

“If you don’t mind…….will you accompany me for a little while longer?”

She stared intently, eyes filled with hope at Kazuma.

 

 

The time is just before 12 o’clock.

The date had just begun.

 

◆◆◆

 

“…………Odagiri-kun”

“……W-Wait, Misaki-san……I can’t eat anymore……”

“……Eh?”

The moment he was muttering, he opened his eyes.

A small park stained in the evening glow. Sprawled at the corner of the bench, Kazuma was instantaneously blinking his eyes.

(……Eh? Why am I here……?)

When he hazily clearing up from drowsiness, he could hear Honoka’s voice from the side.

“……Are you awake?”

“Eh……? M-Misaki-san?”

Gently brushing his forehead with a finger, Honoka was starring at Kazuma’s face directly above.

And there is something very soft behind Kazuma’s head who was lying down.

“Uwaa!? I-I-I-I’m──s-s-sorr……!”

The moment he jumped up noticing she is giving him a lap pillow, he had a feeling of discomfort as if his stomach had being crushed and held down his mouth.

“M-My stomach………..it hurts…….”

It’s a feeling as if food was clogged with no gap in the intestine. He had eat too much.

“S-Sorry Misaki-san……..I…….was sleeping……..on your…….”

It’s fine……..Tell me, don’t you have a lack of sleep? You have dark circles under your eyes.”

Sitting beside him, Honoka gently wiped away Kazuma’s sweat.

 

 

After leaving the coffee shop, Kazuma and Honoka took the train and headed to the ramen shop that Honoka wanted to go.

It seems like she often visited this shop with her family since young. The store couple treat Honoka like their daughter, Honoka was also showing a more friendly manner in front of them,than her usual self.

Then, Honoka eat the ramen as she called [lunch] as well as the fried rice that the auntie made completely till there is nothing left. Her eating manner was even applauded by the customers who were also eating in the shop.

However, Honoka’s appetite was not done. After leaving the store, the both of them went straight to the buck-wheat noodle store, looked at a confectionery store​, walked into a cake shop and ate bread while walking.

Every store that they went, were her favorite store that Honoka often went.

As a matter of fact, every food that she recommend on the menu were surprisingly delicious, making Kazuma deeply moved.

Besides. Kazuma has a limited stomach when he was eating the first pancake in the first place, that remaining strength of just accompanying her is ruining himself by the extravagance of foods, is no longer there.

In the end, for Kazuma’s sake whom overeating halfway and couldn’t move, the both of them had decided to take a break in this park.

Then due to the curse of lack of sleep and overeating, Kazuma had fallen asleep right there.

 

“But………….you should not have to force yourself to eat the same food as me.”

“Yeah……you’re right about that though……”

n fact, Honoka had noticed that Kazuma is already full when they were halfway through but he repeatedly told her not to mind him. As well as she telling him that they can home if he wants.

Nevertheless, the one who said let’s go on and insisted on eating was none other than Kazuma himself.

The reason was──

“But I also,  want to know……the things that Misaki-san likes.”
The things that Misaki-san had done for him up till now, Kazuma wants to do so for her as well. That’s the [goal] that Kazuma had for today’s date.

Because he was very happy when Misaki-san told him that she would play eroge together with him. This time, he would like for Honoka to be that happy as well. For that reason, he thought the date should not end by just the both of them shopping around.

It seems that kind of feeling that Kazuma had was being handed down to Honoka. Narrowing her eyes a little, Honoka muttered.

“…………Thank you, Odagiri-kun.”

“……Un. I’m pleased if you are too.”

Listening to Kazuma’s words, Honoka deepened her smile.

Like a flower bud blooming, her expression was pale but gentle. Although she was cool in public, but that is the only face she showed in front of Kazuma.

…….It’s about time. With that mind, Kazuma straightened his posture.

“……Misaki-san.”

Calling out her name, Kazuma stood up, walking right up to her front, looked her straight in the face.

Assuming something from Kazuma’s expression, Honoka copied him and stood up too.

“Misaki-san. There is something I need to tell you.”

“……Yes?”

“──I’m sorry for what I have done up till now!”

Powerful. With all his sincerity, Kazuma deeply lowered his head.

“……O-Odagiri-kun…….?”

“Sorry, Misaki-san, for making you feel bad all this time.”

“……About?”

“Misaki-san, in the past, you had been molested……despite that……forcing a girl who has been molested to play an eroge that is about molesters, I think you feel disgusted about it. And yet, I didn’t notice that I’m have been doing that to you for all this time. That’s why, I’m sorry. Really sorry.”

While bowing, he repeated “sorry” over and over again.

He intend to remain like that until Honoka forgives him. Even if knelling down on the ground helps. Probably because what I had done to her was insensible.

“But please listen. You might not listen to me because I have the eroge and everything…….but I really don’t think of doing those kind of things to a girl……..to Misaki-san. You might not understand this, but to me, fiction and delusion are totally different from reality…….but because it’s not a reality, it’s something I dare to imagine rather…….”

“……I know, Odagiri-kun. That’s who you are. That’s because you saved me that back then.”

“And that is more than enough” is what Honoka replied.

His eyes involuntarily turned red. Although Kazuma is troubled about asking her to believe him, but Honoka has always understood and believe in him.

“….True, I did remembered a little about the past along with the feelings I had, but that is it. I don’t hate playing those kind of games.”

“……Misaki-san”

He slowly raised his face. As their eyes met, Honoka smiled with embarrassment.

“Erm…….that’s why, let’s play it again, together. Although I failed the last time, but I will try my best again──”

“Sorry, Misaki-san.  Before that, there is something I need to check with you about something……..Misaki-san, is it fun playing eroge?”

“Eh…..?”

Honoka stared blankly at Kazuma, as if to say ” I don’t understand why you ask that”.

“That’s…….it’s fine. If I can stay beside Odagiri-kun, it’s is entertaining enough for me, don’t mind me, Odagiri-kun do what you like──”

“That’s not it, Misaki-san.”

Interrupting her, Kazuma took a deep breath.

“…………Hey, Misaki-san. I love eroge.”

“I know──”

“So, I always thought that Misaki-san would like to enjoy playing eroge as well.”

That’s a feeling that continued to burn in Kazuma’s chest until today.

It was the [real intention] of not being aware of the days spend with [her].

“Misaki-san, do you remember what I said when we attended school together? “The merit of eroge is not eroticism”. I don’t play eroge for the purpose of eroticism.

“I remember that, but…….”

“At that time, I was unable to say it clearly………but eroge is really interesting. How to say this, the people who are making on the side, has feel of liberty……..Not in a good or bad meaning, but a feeling of “anything is fine”. Even the story, setting, character and theme song……..I feel like the people who made it were cramming in self-indulgence were thinking “I think it’s interesting”. That’s why there are others like full throttle chuunibyou battle, games that put grotesque​ as the main genre than eroticism, besides, there are also genre about rape which is my favorite…….Those may not be accepted with the majority, but that is why, other medium like movie, novel or consumer’s games can’t imitate it, probably because there is only [one of kind in the world] works are born……..”

……However, I think that such splendor did not properly get through to Honoka, probably. Because she has never touch the story, world view, character, voice actor’s acting and opening BGM at all.

She is just imitating the situation that came out of the erotic scene that came out from the game.

He has no intention of blaming her about that. Because Kazuma was happy about that behavior.

But due to that idea just simply came into his head, he had completely forgotten what is important for each of them.

“Misaki-san, I understand that you’re trying your best so that you can get closer to my liking, and I was happy that you said that you’re willing to play eroge in order to achieve that. But………But to me, eroge is not like that! It’s not just a [erotic catalog] ! It’s a story, a world any it’s my life! It does not matter what is my preference and ideals are! A more important is packed in the game!  Even thought you went out of your way to play eroge, you only see the erotic part, it’s a waste to skip the rest! What a waste, Misaki-san!”

Kazuma who is running out of breath, while he stared at Honoka who was taken aback.

But soon, her expression became cloudy.

“E-Erm…….I’m sorry, Odagiri-kun. I──”

“That’s why I noticed that [I also treat Misaki-san the same way].”

“Eh…..?”

Honoka was surprised and Kazuma received her gaze upfront.

“I too, was over conscious and in high spirits about [dating Misaki-san]. I didn’t look at who you are. If we are going out, if I am your boyfriend, I should have liked you more seriously in this relationship.”

The way Honoka is playing is called scene extraction. It’s like enjoying the erotic part of the recollection mode without playing the main story.

But playing that part will not make one understand the true merit of that eroge.

Looking at the opening with rising tension, troubling with the options, sometimes ended up in the instant death bad end, struggling against the SLG parts and the fighting parts, once you noticed, getting absorbed in the main story………..if you didn’t play it from the beginning, you won’t be able to feel the quality of the work and the character’s appeal.

And that is the same relationship between people.

Not skipping in the middle of the stage. Once you encounter [prologue] and if you don’t properly start from the top, then you will definitely won’t seriously fall in love with that person.

When Honoka confessed to him, Kazuma was too ecstatic at that time, and skipped the rest up till then. He had neglected the most important process of [liking] conquering her.

That’s why Kazuma have to tell Honoka today.

In order to reach the proper [ending] future from this mistaken [route] future.

No matter…….how painful his heart may be.

“……..Misaki-san.”

As he said that, Kazuma suddenly stop at right there. Placing is hands, bowing down and then said:

“──Sorry! Please…….please break up with me!”

…..At that moment, Honoka could not say anything. Not even a sound can be heard, a perfect silence.

But for Kazuma, he clearly knew that Honoka shuddered with shock.

“We will break up now…….then, let’s us start from the beginning!”

When he was playing eroge this morning, after looking at words [start from beginning] displayed on the title screen, Kazuma realized.

This is the “choice” that I should be choosing now.

“Even though you went out of your way to confess, up till now, even though you are devoted, I know it’s selfish to say such a thing! But, I don’t like it if this keeps up! Because I really want to be able to cherish Misaki-san…….!”

There might not need to have a break up. Even now, It is still possible to be with Misaki-san.

But as expected, Kazuma think that was useless.

Because when he left home, he had prepared beforehand.

Just like Honoka who is behaving like a heroine.

 

I too──want to be the protagonist.

 

If he want to keep going out with Honoka, their feelings will have a strain someday and his relationship with Honoka will definitely be destroyed.

Even if you forcibly advanced the story while making mistakes in your choices, there will be only a bad end at the end.

Because I really don’t want to end like that.

That’s why Kazuma lowered his head close enough for it to touch the ground, and continue to appeal for his will.

──After a long, silent period.

“……But. Nevertheless……I…..no”

Honoka took her time and finally opened her mouth.

“I thought that…….I always wanted to get along with Odagiri-kun. That’s why, when we agree to go out, I was really happy…….and yet……and yet….for it to end like that…….for us to break up…..such a thing…..such a thing……no……”

His heart was no doubt in pain. With extreme guilt and regret.

Nevertheless, Kazuma could only grit his teeth and stood there.

“I’m sorry, Misaki-san. I really feel bad for being this selfish! You can blame me or bear a grudge if you want……!”

“……Then, can you promise me one thing?”

“……Eh?”

Kazuma involuntarily raised his face.

“I clearly understood what Odagiri-kun wanted to say…….and what you thought of me. That’s why…..please. I also want to start from the beginning.”

Quietly bending over, Honoka gently held out her little finger in front of Kazuma and told him the word of [promise].

Kazuma nodded back, stretching out his little finger.

 

──And so, Kazuma and Honoka have returned to just being classmates.