The soft pink fabric is adorned with a small ribbon, as if it were a single flower.
The overall shape was an inverted triangle.
Women’s underwear, which is not something you usually see very often, but can be seen on the rare occasion when a skirt is turned up———
“What are you staring aaaat!”
I was smacked on the head.
My head gave off a very satisfying sound……
“Hey, Kuromine-kun! I’m really going to hit you!”
“Can I make the cheap comment that you’ve already hit me”
“Next time it won’t be like this!”
She was furious with me, and I bowed my head.
This was an accident.
I didn’t see it intentionally.
After stopping at a convenience store with Hoshimiya, we went home and spent time together idly, not doing anything in particular.
It must have been around 9pm when we heard the sound of rain coming down outside.
When I noticed that the laundry was left hanging on the balcony, I hurriedly collected them and found a pair of panties in my right hand.
“Give them back quickly, already!”
A pissed off Hoshimiya snatched her panties……
She’s glaring at me.
I defend myself, trying to look nonchalant while breaking out in a cold sweat.
“As long as a man and a woman live together, I think it’s inevitable that incidents like this will happen.”
“Even so, there’s no need to stare at them, right”
“Why did you shut up! This is why boys are so……!”
“Just saying, but Hoshimiya was looking at my underwear too, no”
“Th, that’s…Washing and ironing them……”
“You were playing with them, pulling on them and stretching them, weren’t you”
“Why are you shutting up”
Before I knew it, our positions had switched.
As if to protect herself from my gaze, Hoshimiya turns her head down and clutches the panties with both hands.
“I, isn’t it okay You’re a man after all.”
“Isn’t that sexist”
“B, but! Kuromine-kun, you don’t mind if someone touches your underwear, right”
“No, it was embarrassing though”
“But Hoshimiya didn’t care, and I didn’t think I needed to worry about it either.”
“I, is that right……Well, you know.
Maybe we should talk about all this stuff from now on.”
We started living together, but there were no detailed rules set in place.
Hoshimiya does most of the housework.
I also proactively help with trash disposal, and other small things, but we did not set any rules.
It is better to make decisions for the future.
How long do I have to stay here”
I recall that we didn’t even discuss this.
“It depends on the stalker.”
“Do you feel their presence these days”
“Hmm, I don’t know……”
It’s been less than three days since I’ve started living here.
It’s hard to get a real sense of it.
“As I recall, your butt is sometimes touched on the train”
“I think maybe that guy could be a stalker.
Maybe he fell in love at first sight with Hoshimiya on the train…and followed you home…”
“H, hey stop it! You’re really scaring me!”
Hoshimiya’s face paled.
The way I said it was too direct.
But if my hypothesis is correct……the stalker would be a persistent type.
Hoshimiya said she senses a presence on her way home from her part-time job…The other party could be a very bad guy.
If such a guy finds out that I and Hoshimiya are living under the same roof……
“I’ll be in charge of the laundry from now on! Okay!”
“G, go ahead.
Thank you very much.”
Should I tell Hoshimiya what I’m thinking right now But there is also the possibility of frightening her unnecessarily.
While I was wondering whether I should tell her or not, I heard a ringtone from my pants pocket.
I take out my phone and check the screen.
It was from Haruno’s mother.
“Yes, how can I help you”
“Riku-kun Is Haruno over there”
“Haruno I’m not at home right now… Haruno’s not around.”
“Yes…… Haruno hasn’t come home yet.
I haven’t heard from her……”
“It’s almost 10pm And she hasn’t come home yet……”
“I’ve been trying to get in touch with Haruno’s friends, but no one seems to know.
I can’t believe you don’t know either…… I wonder where she went.”
I remembered the irritated Haruno this morning.
Did she…commit suicide N, no, no, she’s not me……
“Thank you, Riku-kun.
I’m going to go talk to the police now.”
After the call, my mind was still in turmoil.
I’m so worried about Haruno.
“What’s wrong, Kuromine-kun”
“Haruno hasn’t gone home yet.
She’s not at her friend’s place either.”
“That’s a lie……It’s raining hard outside.”
“…Sorry, I’m going out for a bit.”
“Are you going to look for Harukaze-san”
I don’t think I’ll be able to find her even if I run around alone…”
I know I should really stop you, but…You can use the umbrella at the front door.
I answer, “Thank you” and hurry to the front door.
I picked up the umbrella and ran out the door, leaving it open.
It was darker than I expected, and it was difficult to see the intensity of the rain.
However, the sound of rain hitting the roof of the bicycle parking lot was echoing.
“It’s raining like this.
I don’t think she’s outside, as expected……”
Is she in a store somewhere, or at a friend’s house that her mother doesn’t know about
Worst case scenario, she might be involved in some kind of crime———
It’s probably because I was thinking about the stalker earlier.
I can’t wipe away the bad thoughts.
If, if…something happens to Haruno…!
Unable to suppress my feelings, I run down the stairs of my apartment with the force of a leap.
I put up an umbrella and started running without worrying about getting my legs wet.
My shoes were wet and water was soaking through to my socks.
But none of that mattered.
First, let’s get on the train and go to a place near Haruno’s house.
Then, I’ll take turns in going to places where she might be―――
It was when I was running on this narrow road, stepping through a puddle of water.
I saw a strange sight.
Someone was sitting perched under a streetlight with a burnt-out bulb.
The light was poor, so I could not see the figure clearly.
The presence was so weak that it made me think, “Is that a ghost”
It is unusual to sit alone on a rainy night like this.
Normally I would have at least tried to talk to them, but right now I’m putting Haruno first.
I kept running, without stopping and when I saw the person while glancing, I tangled my legs and almost fell down.
The person sitting under the lamppost, unprotected and exposed to the rain…was my childhood friend.
Her entire body was soaking wet, as if she had entered a swimming pool with her clothes on.
Her hair sticking to her head, her waterlogged uniform is transparent to the point that one can see her underwear.
Above all, her eyes.
Her eyes, which did not hold light, were like murky glass balls, making you think she was dead.
“What….are you doing here, Haruno! What are you doing here!”
“…I wonder what I’m doing here…”
She dropped her gaze from me and smiled a thinly veiled self-deprecating smile.
I knelt down in front of Haruno and grabbed her right shoulder.
It was very cold and was trembling slightly.
I put the umbrella in my left hand above her hand.
The rain was pouring down on me like a shotgun, but I can’t be bothered.
“…Riku-chan, you’re getting wet”
“It’s okay! Haruno is the one…What are you doing here!”
“What am I……doing here……”
“What’s going on!”
“…If I were to say…it’s…..”
Haruno looks at me carefully and begins to talk with her blue-purple stained lips.
“Today, I realized a lot of things…I thought about a lot of things…”
“Alright, alright, so…First, we need to take shelter――――”
“Are you happy, Riku-chan”
“Are you happy…with Ayana”
“Wh, what do you mean”
I really didn’t know what she meant.
And the meaning and intent of that question.
There are so many things I don’t understand.
“…At first I thought, if Riku-chan…I figured if you still like me……But that’s ignoring Riku-chan’s wishes…”
“What are you talking about……”
“I’m sorry for the horrible things I’ve said……That I don’t see you as someone of the opposite sex……It’s awful…….If I was in Riku-chan’s shoes….I would have died….”
What powerless and realistic words.
Are the drops from Haruno’s eyes rain dripping from her forehead or tears
“…If, you’re happy with Ayana……forget about me……okay”
Saying this in a fragile voice, Haruno slowly closed her eyelids.
And then, as if her consciousness had been cut off, she sagged helplessly.
“…Haruno Pull yourself together! Haruno!”
Haruno did not reply.
The only sound I could hear was the rain beating against the umbrella.