Third and Final Time
On the way back from the bathroom, I was intercepted by Rei who, out of nowhere, apologised to me.
I was caught quite off-guard and didn’t know how to react, especially when he was with two of his male friends.
My answer seemed to surprise him a little bit; he shrugged and said, “If it was nothing, then that’s fine.”
Then, he left.
It was only after I returned to my classroom that I had an idea about why he was apologising to me.
It had to be about the other day at lunch - or maybe Hinata pestered him into apologising.
“Hey, Rei, do you want to join us for lunch today?”
“Sorry; I’ve made plans with friends. Later.”
Rei swiftly rejected Hinata’s invitation and left our classroom to eat with his friends from the next class over.
Even though none of us spoke about it, we all knew the reason why.
Because of me, Rei didn’t feel like he could spend time with Hinata and the others, though the other girls didn’t seem to mind all that much.
Perhaps they knew that Rei had made me uncomfortable yesterday, or maybe Rei or Hinata had said as much, but they didn’t bring it up.
I hope this doesn’t cause a rift to appear between them.
Still, for now, the enjoyable lunchtimes that I had come to love had returned.
Not only that.
I snuck Hinata a note beneath the table.
Confused, she opened it, then smiled brightly.
I’m looking forward to tonight.
Tonight, after school, I would be sleeping over at Hinata and then, because it was a Friday, I’d be spending most of tomorrow around her house too.
I’d never spent the night around a friend’s house before.
Technically speaking, I had, but not for a sleepover.
After handing Hinata the note, I returned to my lunch when, suddenly, Hinata leant over to my ear and, with flushed cheeks, whispered, “Me too.”
Once school was over, I headed home first to drop off my school stuff, change out of my uniform and grab my supplies for the night. My parents seemed rather happy that I was sleeping around a friend’s house.
“Have a good time, dear.”
My reply seemed to have been too enthusiastic because they both started to laugh at me, making me feel a little embarrassed.
The happiness I felt was more than enough to push down any negative thoughts I might’ve had.
Excitedly, I headed off to Hinata’s house; she had texted me the details before we left school.
“Hey, Akane! Come on in.”
“Thank you for having me.”
My polite tone and small bow made my friend giggle. “It’s fine, it’s fine. Now, come in and I’ll introduce you to everyone.”
Hinata’s house was a little bit smaller than mine, though her family had two more members.
It was Hinata, both her parents, her older brother by four years and her younger sister by three years.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you all. I’m Akane Yuki - thank you for having me.”
Once again, my introduction was stiff and business-like, a mark from my previous lives, no doubt. However, her family seemed to chalk it up to me being nervous and smiled warmly.
After a minute of introductions, Hinata took me up to her room.
It was a very cute room, befitting that of a teenage girl. Her bedsheets were a gentle pink and she had a collection of soft, cuddly toys beside her pillow. Her desk had her makeup kits and school homework on it, as well as a few little adorable toys from some gashapon. She had a small collection of books, though most of it appeared to be shoujo manga, and a tall standing mirror next to her wardrobe. There was also a big tv with a game console near her bed.
I wonder if I was staring too hard at her things, because Hinata soon asked me to have a seat by her low table while she grabbed some drinks and snacks.
Did Hinata think I was silently judging her?
Or was she embarrassed to have someone inspect her room so closely?
The reason I had been so interested in her bedroom was because of how bland my room was by comparison.
In all three of my lives, my bedroom had never been mine.
It had just been a room with a bed, a desk, a laptop and some books in it. I’d never personalised it; I’d never made an effort to make it a comfortable place for me to be in, and it had certainly never been this girly and cute.
I was jealous of Hinata’s bedroom.
When Hinata returned, we lazed around for a little while, then we started playing some games until it was time for dinner. After that, it was the Watanabe family’s time for a bath.
The schedule was from the youngest to the oldest but, as the guest, I would go before Hinata.
I had half-jokingly said we should go in together, as we’d both already bathed together in Kyoto, but Hinata, in a quite flustered manner, protested and said I should go in alone.
Her overly strong rejection did hurt a little.
Still, that pain quickly faded as I soaked in the water.
“Hinata, it’s your turn.”
I came back into her bedroom in my pyjamas, still drying my wet hair, and so I didn’t notice that Hinata hadn’t said anything.
When she didn’t reply, I looked over at her bed and saw her staring at me, her cheeks dyed pink.
“A-a-a-ah, right! Excuse me!”
She zoomed out of the bedroom.
Had I done something wrong?
Was I not meant to take a towel out of the bathroom?
Hinata spent thirty minutes in the bath for some reason.
When I asked her why, she tried to say it was because she liked taking longer baths, though that didn’t add up.
“In Kyoto, you said you couldn’t stay in a bath for more than ten minutes without passing out.”
I nodded. With a forced laugh, Hinata swiftly turned the conversation away from my line of questioning and so I left it at that.
Don’t presume anything, Akane.
You might have a crush on her, but that doesn’t mean the reverse is true.
To her, you are just a good friend - don’t forget that.
If you do and tell her.
I pictured myself in my second life again, alone on that rooftop.
There isn’t a chance to undo it.
We spent the rest of the night playing games until close to midnight.
I asked where the futons were kept, thinking I’d have to set one up, but.
“Want to…sleep together…in one bed?”
Was this something girls did on sleepovers?
I thought people only shared beds together if they were very intimate.
Hinata and I had hugged a few times and held hands, but I’d also done that with Inori and Kana too.
I climbed in first and, after some hesitation, Hinata got in.
It was much hotter under the covers than I had expected with both of us, though my pyjamas were quite thin as is, so it wasn’t too unbearable.
Hinata’s did seem to be made of a thicker material, so I wondered if she was sweating.
I turned over and unexpectedly made eye contact with her.
Our faces were maybe five inches apart.
We both blushed and turned away from each other.
Right - if we’re sleeping together, then that means we’d be close to one another.
A cute girl is just a few inches away from me.
I’m a little bit embarrassed.
I hadn’t thought too much about it when Hinata proposed we sleep together, but now I was too nervous to fall asleep.
I giggled quietly to myself.
“Thank you for today.”
“…Honestly, I’ve never had a sleepover before, so I was excited about today. Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank me for something like that.” Hinata sat up on the bed and looked down at me. “You didn’t have to use that favour I offered you for something like this either - you can just ask whenever and we’ll work something out.”
“Yeah. I know Inori and Kana would do the same too, if you were scared they-”
“That’s not it.”
I sat up and smiled. “I just…wanted my first to be special.”
I could just about make out the soft glow on Hinata’s cheeks. “I see. Then.” She gently held my hand and lay back down on the bed. “We’ll just have to make this the best sleepover ever.”
“…Yeah. Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome.”
When I woke up refreshed the next morning, I discovered that I had somehow ended up hugging Hinata at some point in the night.
I had managed to have quite a peaceful night’s sleep; Hinata, however, seemed to have some bags under her eyes.