Chapter 10:

Jin's Smile (The Water Park: Part 2)

Paradise on Earth


To be precise, it’s a surprisingly appealing light-blue two-piece suit with white cherry blossom designs on it that definitely made sure to cover what it could, not that there was all that much to cover. Still, it was highly unusual to see Daitan wearing something showing much skin, let alone a swimsuit. Perhaps that’s why I’m so fixated on the sight. Perhaps it’s because she’s a loli.

Or perhaps it’s because it is Daitan.

“Where have you been? I haven’t seen you or Sachio around at all today.” I ask, legitimately wondering where the heck Sachio is hiding.

“I haven’t seen Sachio yet either, I was with Nori up at the water fort up until a few minutes ago.” Glancing at Kaiyo, Daitan took a second to get a wet strand of hair out of her face. “What are you two doing?”


“Just breaking Grandpa Sato’s nose, apparently.” Kaiyo starts laughing as I assume she recalls the absurd scene Daitan was just a bit too late to the party to witness.

It was clear that Daitan did not have the slightest clue as to what Kaiyo was talking about, and she doesn’t seem particularly thrilled about that as she glances over to me.

“Explain.”

“I don’t think you want to know.” I said, not really wanting to regurgitate exposition like it’s the first episode of Sword and O-Line II.

Seemingly not wanting to push it any further, Daitan relents. “Well, how are the others?.”

Kaiyo was looking around with an unusually apprehensive posture. I guess Yasashiku snapping at her, even a little bit, is enough to make her uncomfortable. Not that I blame her, Yasashiku was a lot scarier than she looked, especially since she really puts the shotgun in shotgun dropkick. Thankfully I’ve never been on the receiving end of one of them, thanks to my dabbling in dating sims, apparently.

“Yasashiku is doing fine. I think she went to go get something to eat.” I say, leaving out the details about my encounter with her, or the subsequent encounter with Kaiyo that all blended together.

“Okay, what about Hayami? Have you seen her anywhere?”

Hayami, that was a name I did not want to hear today. She had already been haunting my mind far too much, and now I had to act like I didn’t know why she was here. If Daitan hadn’t run into Hayami yet either, it was almost certain that she didn’t show up. As much as a small part of me feels bad for her, I’m mostly just glad that I don’t have to see her today.

Kaiyo speaks up before I do, answering the question in much the same way as I was planning on doing. “No, I haven’t seen her anywhere. I don’t know if we’ve somehow been missing her, but it seems like she’s just not here. Such a shame too, she would have half the eyes of the water park if she were strutting around knowing her.”

My imagination can’t help but run wild and picture Hayami wearing a hyper-thin one-piece that just barely covers the most sensitive details of her chest like the English “V.” The rest can be left to the imagination, but I consider just how messed up it is to be thinking about a woman who tried to do awful things to me like this. What the hell is wrong with me?

Blinking, I turn my attention back to Daitan, whose figure is about as far off from Hayami’s as you could imagine, and yet, I can’t help but feel those same rushes of blood from the sight. Perhaps the fact that she is so physically different compared to Hayami even helps in that department.

“Yeah, such a shame.” I say, sounding a bit disinterested as I take another good look at Daitan. “Do you want to go back over to the water fort? Maybe we can run into some of the others while we’re there?”

Daitan gives me a look like I can’t be serious and that she sees right through me. Caught red handed I finish the thought with “It also um, sounds fun.”

“Actually, I think I’m going to go find Yasashiku and talk to her.” Kaiyo said, sounding as if she really wanted to make sure everything was alright between the two of them. Honestly, I think Yasashiku was a little flustered, and I highly doubt it is anything more complicated than that. Either way, I signal in tow when Kaiyo waves to us as she walks away and yells “See you guys later!”.

“Okay, I guess I’ll have to go with you then.” Daitan chimed in, seemingly happy about the development. Maybe it was my imagination, but it almost sounded as if she was happy because Kaiyo wasn’t coming along.

Anyway, I ask Daitan where the structure is in this complex, and follow suit when she points in a direction and starts walking.

“So, what does this water fort actually...entail?”

“Oh, it’s like one of those playground things where there’s stuff for kids to run around and play, but it is way more elaborate, and cool.”

“Sounds kind of childish to me.”

Daitan looks at me with an icy cold gaze. However funny it might be, calling Daitan a kid or childish is a peril akin to calling a certain someone something as disrespectful as “Lemon Boy.”

“I’m joking. Besides, we’re all here to act like kids. That’s the whole point of going out here to this water park anyways. It’s all about having a good time.” I say, as we approach the water fort, quickly realizing exactly what Daitan meant by ‘way more elaborate and cool’ than a normal playground.

“What on earth am I even looking at?” It was about the size of a small gym, most of which built up into a maze of inner workings, with water related elements infused throughout. All in all, this is far too elaborate for a water park of this size, but I guess the owner of this place really wanted to splurge on the water fort. At least it truly lives up to the name “fort.”

“Where do we even start with this thing? I feel like we’d just get lost.” It really was overwhelming, and that shock over the size of this structure had me back up a few steps to really take in exactly how big it was, only to trip and fall on top of something squishy.

Oh, it’s a person.

As I turn around to now be leaning on top of the mysterious individual, my eyes widen at the sight of one Shizu Sachio wearing a very nice black one-piece suit. Appearing halfway between amused and embarrassed with a slight blush and her trademark smile that looked as if she hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep last night. It’s interesting because Sachio’s outfit is noticeably less conservative than the one she wore at the beach, it even had long sleeves of all things.

“Owowowowowow!” Feeling my ear twist in pain, I turn back to Daitan, who has my ear in a vise grip as I find myself back to my feet and visually pleading with the girl to let go, which she does, only to admonish me for being a pervert with her eyes.

“Falling all over girls right in front of me. I see how it is.”

And then she admonishes me for being a pervert with her words as well.

***

I’m being bullied.

No, seriously, this is bullying.

As I crawl, walk, and even run through this 3D labyrinth of twists and turns, it seems like these two girls are always three steps ahead of me. The game shouldn’t even be that hard. All I have to do is touch each girl with both hands before the hour is up. If I win, then both Daitan and Sachio have to come to my house tomorrow and watch Life Notebook with me. If Daitan wins, I have to go to her house and watch Spirit in the Husk. If Sachio wins, I have to go to her house and watch Yaoi on Fire.

Honestly, I’d be lucky if I even catch one of these girls. We didn’t even discuss what happens if I catch neither of them.

I’m doomed.

Of course, while it might be a hassle trying to find my two smallest friends in a massive structure such as this, at least I get a few moments to myself. As much as I enjoy being around my friends, it definitely seems like something intense happens no matter what I do. It’s like I can’t escape reality to find even a few moments of a little harmless fun.

Weird, this is usually the part where I crash into one of my friends and end up in a compromised position. Maybe my luck is finally turning around!

As I finish crawling through a passageway that sprays water at you from every direction, I notice Sachio right in front of me as I stand up, and I get a good look at the back of her swimsuit. It has an opening, leaving most of her back exposed, before the fabric returns near her butt. A pretty nice one, at that.

Trying to sneak up on her as quietly as one can in a place like this, I get within about six feet of her before a voice yells from behind me.

“Sachio, watch out!”

Sachio almost immediately recognizes me, and I dive for her body, just missing as she starts moving at a speed I simply can’t match in the tight confines of the water fort.

Damn that Daitan.

Annoyed by her thwarting of my capture of Sachio, and given that Daitan is no further away than Sachio at this point, I shift my focus towards the smaller girl and start to head in her direction. I actually just got to explore that area, so I actually have some confidence that I might be able to catch her.

Turning around towards the one who ruined my chances of catching Sachio, I move through the narrow passageway of plastic and water at a speed that probably made my previous thought about being unable to catch Sachio null and void, but who cares, it’s wowi hunting season!

As I approach, Daitan struggles to turn around and try to head back from where she came. It’s no use, I’m demonically possessed like a character from Re:Zerum. Despite the fact that Daitan is much smaller than me, her speed in these tight confines didn’t do much for her escape as just a few moments later I tackled her, or rather kind of grabbed her and fell through a little mini-slide in the massive structure before laughing.

“Oh man, you suck at this.” I say, having way too much fun acting like a little kid. “Seriously though, why did you help Sachio? You didn’t have anything to gain by doing that.”

“I dunno...I just, it felt like it was the right thing to do.”

“Since when do you care about doing the right thing?”

For my troubles, I get an elbow in the stomach (we’re basically laying on top of eachother at the end of the slide), but I also am rewarded with a rare sighting of pink along the cheeks of Honoka Daitan. “Shut up.”

It really is worth it when a cute girl gets embarrassed, even if physical abuse often follows.

Especially for Daitan.

We laid there for a minute in the silence. I got kind of nervous, so I asked “Daitan, when do you want to get out?”

After a moment of silence and a deep breath, Daitan responds with, “I’m fine honestly, I don’t really feel like going out there.”

“That makes it sound like you don’t want to be around people or something.”

“...”

“Daitan?”

“No, it’s not that,” Daitan says a lot quicker than normal in her usual stable sounding voice. “I just want to lay here because it’s comfy.”

“With me?”

In the slide.”

“Are you offended that I’m here?”

“Not really.”

Weird, the next few minutes we’re just laying on the lower end of a slide together, keeping it peaceful and saying nothing. Daitan was taking a number of deep breaths the whole time, I’m unsure as to why.

Very weird.

But also very wholesome.

We left before it became very embarrassing.

By the time we had escaped the enormous child’s paradise, we learned that an hour had flown by, just like that. In other words, Sachio was the winner of our little game.

Great, now I have to watch Yaoi on Fire with her tomorrow. What “fun!”

Even so, I had a good time playing that game. Trying and failing to catch Sachio, and then succeeding in catching Daitan was rewarding. They both looked adorable, and most of all, I had a chance to get up close and personal with a lovely loli. It certainly could have gone a whole lot worse anyways.

After all, Daitan didn’t seem to notice anything poking against her swimsuit.

***

As the events of the day continued to unfold, things largely remained uneventful. The girls and I mostly spent the remainder of the day on our own, but it was a fun time, and I finally got a chance to relax after the more exciting events earlier. Before I knew it, 6pm had arrived. It was about time to get going, so I went on the search for Kaiyo to get my bag. Plus the two of us could head to my house together, after all, I do still have a bike that is owed to her.

A long, thin frame gives my back a hug for the second time today, and this time I don’t have to think about it to know that the girl I was on the hunt for found me first.

“Hey Kaiyo, ready to go?”

“I’d live here if I could, but just water sports would get real boring, real fast.” She says before walking in front of me and handing me my bag.

“I would think sports in general get boring pretty fast.”

“And this is why you don’t have a girlfriend.” She says with a tongue out towards me.

“No, but this is definitely why you don’t have a boyfriend.” Truer words have never been spoken, but if calling Daitan a kid is a peril akin to calling the great Aremiah “Lemon Boy.” I imagine telling Kaiyo any number of things that imply she’s too athletic to attract a lover, a fate worse than getting a kick to the gonads by One-Kick Woman.

“Do you want to die, Sato?”

“Not particularly, no.”

“You’re really not making a good case for that then.” Kaiyo was staring me down so intensely, you would think I was a Shadow Company member eyeballing a certain blonde.

I see, well, if I need to make my case, I know a certain spiky-haired attorney I could call.” I say, literally asking to die by making a joke in the presence of harrowing threats. I might die, but I’m going to troll Kaiyo if it’s the last thing I do.

“Is that so? I’ll give you three seconds to apologize before I show you exactly why you won’t have a girlfriend.”

Threats don’t work on me.

“One.”

She’s wasting her time and mine.

“Two.”

Knowing that I am literally one second away from being put in the ground, I immediately take the only reasonable action.

“Kaiyo-sama!” I exclaim, as I prostrate myself in the middle of the sidewalk. “I apologize wholeheartedly for my stupid jokes. I could only wish to ever acquire such a lovely lady as my girlfriend as you. I’m simply jealous of how talented and beautiful you are, and only look to bring you down to my level. I am sorry, forgive my insolence.” Sure, I look like an idiot, but seeing the embarrassed look on Kaiyo’s face as I take it too far was worth it. After all, it’s not like I have much of a reputation to uphold anyways.

“You’re such an idiot.”

“Maybe, but I’m your idiot, right?” I say, with a wink and a strange amount of confidence.

Kaiyo looked at me somewhat surprised, clearly unsure of how to respond to that. She did smile a little bit, and that blush didn’t leave. It’s a good thing we didn’t have much else to say to each other, because I think I made things awkward. I didn’t really mean to, but by the time two of us had made our way onto the train, I noticied that Kaiyo definitely wasn’t hitting me with the same fun banter as she usually would.

I really am an idiot.

The experience with the train turned out to be more of the same as this morning. I imagine that Nori would’ve observed something similar whenever she took the train back home if she hadn’t already, we didn’t really talk much except for lunch when everyone was together. Honestly, I had forgotten that part of the reason we even did this water park trip was to test the rules of the wall. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to observe any significant things of note besides the strange train ride. I wonder if Nori had any more luck. After all, she’s definitely more observant than me, at least as far as I can tell.

When we got off, I couldn’t help but ask about the train situation. “Did you notice how short that train ride felt?”

“No, not really? I wasn’t paying attention honestly.”

Even if Kaiyo truly wasn’t paying attention, is there any way she truly could not notice that a twenty-minute train ride took about two minutes instead?

As the two of us continued to walk towards my house, the silence remained. Making me feel a little antsy, as if I really should do something to clear the air.

“Hey Kaiyo?”

“Yes?”

“I really like you a lot, you know, as a friend...and stuff. I don’t want to make things weird between us, even if I honestly meant a lot of what I said. You’re very pretty, and I’d be lucky to be with someone like you. I just…” Kaiyo’s finger went up to my lips and rendered me unable to continue.

“You don’t need to finish that sentence Sato. It’s okay...I’m okay...with you. If you want me to be your girlfriend, that is. I really...wouldn’t mind, you know?”

My eyes widen as I feel my heart beating faster and I can’t help but be reminded of Hayami’s inappropriate attempts on me or even the strange occurrence with Yasashiku back at the water park. There’s no way this is really happening again, right?

“I do like you, Kaiyo, but is it really okay? I’m just a normal guy, average, a far cry from someone as athletic and impressive as Jin Kaiyo. You’d be selling yourself short with a guy like me.” I notice that we are approaching my house, as I see Kaiyo’s bike outside the front door.

“The heart wants what the heart wants.” She says, making my stomach turn as I really can’t help but feel like something is wrong here. It just doesn’t make sense, and as pretty and cool as they are, I really can’t handle all of this.

After Hayami especially, I can't handle all of this.

Biting my lip, I decide to take a gamble. I really can’t bring myself to turn down Kaiyo, as she means far too much to me, but I can’t bring myself to accept her confession either. “I...like someone else.” I say as blunt as possible while still being nice.

“It’s Ms. Setsuko, isn’t it?” She says, as if she was expecting something like this all along.

“No no no, Yasashiku and I are not like that. It’s someone else, and I honestly don’t really want to talk about it. It’s kind of embarrassing.” I initially said this to come up with an excuse, but my mind quickly jumped to Daitan. The thought of Nori also flashed through my mind for a brief moment, but unlike Daitan, who I have known for a long time, Nori was just a pretty girl who I just met two days ago.

“So, I’m not good enough for you? But some other bitch is, huh!? Is that so? I’m not good enough...” Kaiyo’s words were clearly filled with annoyance, but beyond that, a clear sense of jealousy. Her face, not looking at me, looks genuinely upset. Wondering how I could rectify the situation, I prepared to reason with her in some way.

smack

But at that moment I feel a wide pain in my back, it’s from Kaiyo. I look at her again and she’s parading the widest smile I’ve seen from her all day, teeth and all. Kaiyo’s shiny, perfect teeth, along with her angular face, radiated the light of the sun—as if she was a nuclear reactor.

“I understand ha ha! I can’t wait to see you grow a pair and actually ask out whoever this mystery woman is. I’d be happy to be your wing-woman if you need me. After all, your chances at having a happy ending are about as likely as the liberal party losing an election.”

Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.

When we arrive at my place, Kaiyo jumps onto her bike and shoves a thumbs up in the air before heading off to her house, which isn’t all that far from here anyways. As I wave to her until she’s beyond my vision, I then walk inside my house. The second I close the front door, I fall to the floor. Sighing as I’ve somehow survived an emotional roller coaster of girls coming onto me, things getting stiff at the worst of times, and the looming thought of Hayami showing up and making things worse.

Who knew going to a water park with a bunch of cute girls would be so much work?