Once I invited Naoya into my apartment, he quickly dropped his stuff and went straight to the bathroom with a change of clothes. Despite this only being his second time here, it was as if he was a long-time resident. I didn't mind, but now that he was here I started pondering on why he came, and though I might be too self-conscious, the first guess I had was that he came to comfort me.
As bros, we helped each other out and could easily talk to each other about the dumbest of problems. However, though this may be hard for girls to understand, bros rarely comforted each other. Especially if it was a minor problem, we were quick to joke about it in some way and tact was generally only reserved for when a family member or close friend died. Heartbreak was also an exception but it depended on the personality of the bros and on the severity of the matter.
In terms of Naoya and I, putting aside whether my situation could be described as heartbreak, I was the one who always joked about how he could never confess to the right girls, so I didn't think he would be so quick to comfort me when I didn't even say anything.
This was the main question on my mind, so I reacted swiftly when I heard the opening of the bathroom door. No longer in his uniform but in plain pants and a t-shirt, Naoya closed the bathroom door and came towards me.
"Have you eaten dinner yet?" he asked.
"Yeah, what about you?"
"Picked up something on the way. Since we're both full, let's get on to the real meat of the matter."
I became more conscious of my beating heart as I waited for him to continue, but Naoya walked past me and went towards the television.
'Wait, could it be...?'
As another reason for why he came here popped into my mind, I watched him turn on the television as well as my console before looking at me.
"What are you standing there for? Let's play some games."
"I should have expected as much."
The last time he came over was to finish a group project, but that time we ended up staying up and playing games and had to rush it to completion the next day.
'That's right. This is just like you.'
With my chest feeling lighter, I sat down beside him and took up a controller. There was no awkward atmosphere, emotional story or silent advice shared. There was only two boys who spent the night playing games. And as I had fun with Naoya, my worries were naturally packed away until we decided to stop for the night and go to bed. We could have kept going throughout the night, but we both agreed that it would be better to spend Sunday with some degree of wakefulness.
I slept on my bed as usual while Naoya laid out a futon I had. When he saw me take it out, the first thing he asked was, "Woah, when did you get a spare futon? Don't tell me you had it last time too but didn't want to lend it to me."
"Do you want it or not?"
"I'll take it, I'll take it."
I had actually splurged a bit to buy this futon after he came over last time. At that time, he had to sleep on the couch which had bothered me as his host. However, I obviously wouldn't expose myself like that.
Although he was the one pouted and laid down the controller with reluctance in his eyes, less than a minute after lying down he was already sleeping peacefully, leaving me alone to be reminded of my circumstances.
I wasn't giving up anymore, but I still struggled with figuring out how to turn this around. I liked the feeling of getting rid of my worries while playing games with him, but if I didn't solve this then I would just be a coward. Especially compared to Naoya who could always confidently confess to any woman that caught his eye.
'I'll need a rematch.'
Before I could try and do something about the rumours that were likely being spread, I had to defeat the one who caused them first. Otherwise, I would never be able to completely deny them.
I tried to further refine this idea of my second round against Hiroki, but the lord of sleep made a fierce attack. Like the one beside me, my eyelids got heavier and heavier until I could no longer raise them.
Before it exited the vibration phase, I grabbed my phone and stopped the alarm that was going off. Out of habit, I was then about to get dressed to go over to Ms. Aria's apartment but a text from her reminded me of the situation.
[You have company so don't bother coming over today.]
[Just tell me when you can collect the grocery money and your pay.]
I didn't know how to feel about getting such a sudden day-off, but once I remembered the scolding of last night, I gratefully accepted her offer. Don't think that I was scared of her or anything, I just wasn't sure how to act around her right now.
'So I have free time today, I wonder how I'll use it.'
As I sat up, I looked at the time and then at the peaceful expression of Naoya sleeping in the futon. I saw two options, wake him up or let him sleep. Considering how late, or how early, we went to bed I didn't mind him taking his time in Dreamland, but...
"Oi, if you want breakfast get up."
My eyes widened in surprise as it seemed like he actually responded to my order. To further investigate, I followed up with, "I'll be in my apron."
While faking a feminine voice, of course.
In response, Naoya's left eye twitched before both eyes slowly opened.
"Hi, it's morning."
He clicked his tongue in annoyance after seeing my face, but still sat up.
"So, what's for breakfast?" he asked.
"Oh, you actually heard that?"
"Of course. You don't know how long it's been since I've ate anything that didn't come out of a box or a can for breakfast. I won't even ask for much, bacon and eggs will be enough."
"That's an oddly normal request, but okay."
I left the room and went to the kitchen to get breakfast started. Normally I would bathe first, but I was feeling rather hungry so I decided to make filling our stomachs the priority.
Like Naoya requested, I made bacon and eggs, along with toast for the both of us and opened up some orange juice to go with it. By the time I finished making breakfast, Naoya strolled out of the bedroom and sat down at the foldable table placed between the couch and the TV.
""Thank you for the meal.""
At the start, I kept watch to see Naoya's reaction to the food, but once I saw that he was enjoying it we ate in silence. When he was done and took a sip of orange juice, Naoya looked like he remembered something and said, "Oh, by the way, I found a new crush yesterday."
"...I know I shouldn't be surprised but that was rather fast. What year?"
There was a prick of discomfort when I thought about yesterday, but I quickly covered it up.
"Second year. She snagged my heart when I saw her lying about her interests when she was with her friends."
"As usual you always get interested in the strangest of things. Do you even want a proper girlfriend?"
I didn't know why but every girl that Naoya was interested in had some sort of social problem, which was likely the main reason why his relationships kept failing.
"I already told you, I'm not falling for them because they have issues, it just so happens that the ones I fall for, have issues."
"I doubt that. So, when are you planning on confessing?"
When I said that last word, I had to tighten my grip on the fork, but besides that I made sure that there were no other signs.
"Hmm, it'll depend on how long it takes for me to make my preparations. Likely by the end of this week or next week."
Before, I would only be exasperated by how swiftly he could bring himself to confess, but now there was also admiration.
'If only I had that courage.'
I looked back to my plate and asked a question as casually as I could.
"Hey Naoya, don't you ever feel nervous when you confess? You should know that 'no' isn't the worst thing she can say."
I slowly finished my meal with one hand, and pinched the cloth of my pants with the other hand as I anxiously waited for his response.
"You're not wrong, but it's not that I'm not nervous. I'm only prioritising my own feelings above theirs."
"Huh? What does that mean?"
I was so confused by Naoya's answer that I looked up at him with an eyebrow raised.
"It's pretty simple. Rather than wonder if she'll like me back or if she'll be bothered by me confessing, I only confess because I want to. If the opposite of love is indifference, then I'll be satisfied as long as she remembers me. Though I would prefer if it's in a positive light."
I couldn't tell if he was serious or not, but I nodded my head as I digested his words.