Episode 54: Bench Break
“I never thought Yuzu…..would do a three store run…….”
“Obviously! Don’t underestimate a maiden’s shopping power~!”
“What are you getting worked up over Honoka……and the ‘maiden’ is only buying books……”
“Yeah, dress books!”
“Skirt books too~!”
“Frock books……..what are those even supposed to be!?”
Well, we are buying a bunch of books filled with maidens, so I guess you could kind of call our shopping spree maidenly? We’re putting in this effort for the sake of all those 2D yuri maidens out there.
“Let’s take a stroll twice around the block now— We need to ride Yuu some more until she’s worked up a good sweat”
“This is already hard enough? I’m not going to be able to hold much more. My hands hurt.”
Honoka snatched two paper bags out of my hands and slid them up onto her arm. The sudden relief made my arms feel tingly although the bit of sweat dampening my palms is kind of embarrassing…….
“It’s okay! Your hands are so lovely it makes me want to lick them!”
“Don’t you dare!?”
“Even though Yuriha’s sweat could be as sweet as gold!?”
“It’s dirty, so stop!”
Screwing around with me, Honoka made as if she were actually going to lick my arm when instead all she did was unload the two paper bags into my hands again…….. Wait, weren’t you going to help carry…….?
I’m slumped over with a shaky back. Yuzuriha was slowly strolling behind Honoka, unable to to control her wide and sloppy grin. Honoka in the meanwhile looked like she suddenly remembered something and took a peek in the bags around my arms.
“Really though— There are lots in there that look really old fashioned— I always thought yuri was something that only got popular recently!”
“It’s good because it has history to it……when we get home, we can read it…….together…….”
“Okay Okay~! It’ll be fun!”
Honoka raised her right hand into the air and stood on her left tiptoes to express the height of excitement with her body. However while the two of them are having their fun, I was standing to the side doing everything I could to keep up the smile.
Perhaps noticing my strain, Yuzuriha lowered her eyebrows and thanked me.
“They’re all products that are impossible to find first editions of…….so I bought a lot…….thank, you……”
Even though she was going out of her way to thank me, I couldn’t give her much more of a response because I was afraid the pain would show on my face. This is a serious learning moment here for future flirting opportunities. Maybe I should be more earnest in muscle training. I hear muscular girls are popular now anyway.
I’m carrying a stack of over thirty books at present. The fact Yuzuriha said before this was her carefully selecting her purchases is honestly scary.
“Are you really okay Yuu? You look kind of beat.”
“……Yeah, I’m fine. You’re both pretty small, and I can handle this much.”
I gave up on asking the two of them for help, more out of pride than anything else. But I’d really like to lose some of this weight……. I don’t know how women who want to be popular with other girls are supposed to act, so doing stuff like this during times like these is the best I can think of.
Turning away from me, Honoka pointed towards the end of the road.
“Ah—. Anyone thirsty? Let’s go take a bench break over there—”
“Mm, it’s less crowded…….”
Yuzuriha and I agreed to Honoka’s idea. Even though this girl is wholly unable to read the air, she always does the most thoughtful things. I should remember not to underestimate her while doing my best to learn from her example.
After a couple left the bench, the three of us could fit right next to each other——is how it should have been, but both Honoka and Yuzuriha sat their bags on either side of me when I sat down. They then stood in front of the bench.
“Here’s a reward for the Yuu who keeps trying her hardest”
“We will…..buy some juice”
They pulled out their wallets. I might seriously start crying.
“Really? You’re lifesavers”
“You think? So our kindness is……..mundane? Oh you~!”
“Mundane doesn’t work there……..”
“No! I meant…….superfluous isn’t it either…….!”
“Yeah that! We’re overflowing with kindness! Don’t mind the small stuff!”
“Even though what you were saying is the exact opposite of what you meant!?”¹
The process of me getting juice is somehow making me even more parched. Although if I’m getting juice in a minute anyway, I suppose it isn’t a problem?
“So, could you get me something refreshing?”
“What? Hot coffee?”
“No, nothing hot. Are you trying to kill me?”
Just a normal joke this time around.
“So, jokes aside! What kind of drink do you want!?”
I shifted in my seat to see what the vending machine behind me had to offer…….
“Nope. It wouldn’t be any fun if you just picked something.”
The girls wrapped their hands around my eyes. Moreover, each of them used their hands to cover only one eye each. Breathtakingly cute.
“Then some sweet water please”
Choosing a safe answer that I was sure wouldn’t come back to bite me, the two of them quickly ran to the vending machine behind me.
After that, the two of them began whispering in front of the vending machine, secretly conversing about something I couldn’t hear. How can they be so cute? The moe is going to be the death of me.
I heard the sound of electronic money getting used and bottles falling three times before the two of them rushed back before me.
“Now! Tangerine! Peach! Or sweetberry! Which will it be!?”
Honoka on the right and Yuzuriha on the left. The two of them brought over three drinks and held them out to me. For the record, they were both holding the third drink between them, each with a hand on it which only served to increase the moeness by another level.
“Oh, I get to choose?”
In other words, all of them are sweet water? Are they fine with having whatever I don’t?
“So, gold water or silver water, which will it be—?”
“It’s not like any of them are that different from each other……..”
Are you the spirit of a fountain……? There isn’t much difference between the choices, so I’m a little lost.
I pointed towards the sweetberry in Yuzuriha’s right hand.
“Woohoo! I was aiming for the tangerine and Yuzurin was going for the sweetberry, so Yuzurin loses!”
Honoka pumped her fist with the tangerine water in her hand into the air like it were some victory trophy.
“You said it was my choice——but this was what you meant.”
“There’s no punishment game for losing though—”
Yuzurin struck a magician’s pose, crossing her arms while holding the palms of both her hands in front of her face.
“Huu…….I lost the fight……..but the match is…….no, that’s not……..”
“Are you trying to say, ‘I lost the battle but won the war?'”
“Y-Yes, that. Because this means Yuriha and I have the same taste. So I win.”
“Ugh! To think there was such a way…….!”
Yuzuriha’s reverse victory declaration left Honoka flabbergasted.
The three of us fit snugly on the bench. We each popped open our bottles and took a big swig. When I glanced over to my sides, our movements were perfectly aligned, and we all let out a deep breath once we were done.
“Aiya~, that’s good sake”
“It’s not alcohol though?”
“A fresh cup after collecting yuri……unbeatable……”
“That’s why I already said it’s not alcohol?”
These two, I’m scared they’ll end up being heavy drinkers in the future. Then again, Yuzuriha is probably the type who will get drunk off just the smell of alcohol. I can already imagine it.
“Anyway, I feel bad having you two treat me. Did you both pay for me?”
“Oh right right right! The story!”
When I started talking, Honoka cut in like she suddenly remembered something.
“Honoka’s vending machine incident…….the beginning begins with……”
“And now something’s started……”
They were gone for a minute at most, so how could there have been an incident? Yuzu’s presence as a narrator did make me smile though.
“It was just a bit of fun—. I wanted to know what would happen if we held up two cards side by side at the same time. But then Yuzurin didn’t respond at all? She just paid for all three of them herself before I could do anything! Grrrr……..”
Her imagination is amped to max even for something like buying juice…… What a fun girl.
“But is that thing broken or something? Were people taking their cards and throwing them like shuriken…….? I wanted to pay with my student ID like always, but it wouldn’t take even a thousand yen off.”
“Of course not……”
She does know how electronic money works right……? Even if they do all have IC chips, you can’t just walk into a store and expect to use your student ID card or commuter pass as currency. She understands that right?
“Are you going to be okay getting home?”
“I’ve got plenty of money on a card for the train, so I’ll be a-okay!”
“And you didn’t use that card for the vending machine because……..?”
I let out the first thought that popped in my mind. Honoka stared at me for a moment afterwards before her eyes opened wide while my words sank in.
“Heh? Ah! Dang it!”
She threw her hands over her head and screamed. Could you lower your voice a bit please? There are people staring at us.
“You’re an idiot.”
“Am not! And if Yuu’s going to talk like that, then I have nothing~ for~ you~”
Honoka swiped my bottle and held it as far away from me as her arm would reach. It was so childish I could only laugh.
“Yuzu is the one who paid for it though, so isn’t she the one who would get to decide that?”
“Ah……! You got a point!”
Honoka turned towards Yuzuriha who, after thinking about it for a second, stood from the bench and took both bottles out of Honoka’s hands.
“I have nothing for an idiot Honoka………”
“My humblest apologies for being cocky, Madame Yuzurin……”
Each of us drank fruit water at our own pace while resting on the bench. I was the only one who drank theirs all at once, probably because of how tired I was.
“Thank you Yuzu. It was delicious.”
“It’s okay. I bought a lot of books……I wouldn’t have been able to buy as many without you…….”
Yuzu looked down, opening and closing her mouth once.
“And I……haven’t thanked you yet”
She said, bringing her face closer to my cheek…..
“Thank you, Yuriha”
There was a noise similar to a small bird’s tweet. Normally I would realize what had happened immediately, but all brain functions had ceased in that moment. Unfortunately, that meant I wasn’t able to say anything back to her either. The soft touch lingering on my cheek dominated all five of my senses and left me a mute.
“Sorry. That was a lie. It wasn’t a thank you. I just wanted to do it. I…..am a liar.”
A bright, mischievous smile spread across her face. There was a gentle warmth to it though, and seeing it was enough to finally pry open my frozen mouth.
“O-Oh. Hahahah, I got a kiss from Yuzu— How nice”
“HUHHH!? Stupid idiot Yuu! I want a kiss too!”
“Honoka hasn’t done anything, so no”
“Guuu……I am so jealous! Shit!”
“Wa……! Don’t just start recklessly sexually harassing me! And quit rubbing my chest in public!”
1. The wordplay here is that mundane, superfluous, and overflowing are all words that are one letter apart in Japanese.