Chapter 8:

A Peaceful Night

Third and Final Time

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On the way back from the bathroom, I was intercepted by Rei who, out of nowhere, apologised to me.Bookmark here

I was caught quite off-guard and didn’t know how to react, especially when he was with two of his male friends.Bookmark here

“…For what?”Bookmark here

My answer seemed to surprise him a little bit; he shrugged and said, “If it was nothing, then that’s fine.”Bookmark here

Then, he left.Bookmark here

It was only after I returned to my classroom that I had an idea about why he was apologising to me.Bookmark here

It had to be about the other day at lunch - or maybe Hinata pestered him into apologising.Bookmark here

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“Hey, Rei, do you want to join us for lunch today?”Bookmark here

“Sorry; I’ve made plans with friends. Later.”Bookmark here

Rei swiftly rejected Hinata’s invitation and left our classroom to eat with his friends from the next class over.Bookmark here

Even though none of us spoke about it, we all knew the reason why.Bookmark here

Me.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

I hope this doesn’t cause a rift to appear between them.Bookmark here

Still, for now, the enjoyable lunchtimes that I had come to love had returned. Bookmark here

Not only that.Bookmark here

I snuck Hinata a note beneath the table.Bookmark here

Confused, she opened it, then smiled brightly.Bookmark here

I’m looking forward to tonight. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

I’d never spent the night around a friend’s house before.Bookmark here

Technically speaking, I had, but not for a sleepover.Bookmark here

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.”Bookmark here

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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 mother and father seemed rather happy that I was sleeping around a friend’s house.Bookmark here

“Have a good time, dear.”Bookmark here

“I will!”Bookmark here

My reply seemed to have been too enthusiastic because they both started to laugh at me, making me feel a little embarrassed.Bookmark here

The happiness I felt was more than enough to push down any negative thoughts I might’ve had.Bookmark here

Excitedly, I headed off to Hinata’s house; she had texted me the details before we left school.Bookmark here

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“Hey, Akane! Come on in.”Bookmark here

“Thank you for having me.”Bookmark here

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.”Bookmark here

Hinata’s house was a little bit smaller than mine, though her family had two more members.Bookmark here

It was Hinata, both her parents, her older brother by four years and her younger sister by three years.Bookmark here

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all. I’m Akane Yuki - thank you for having me.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

After a minute of introductions, Hinata took me up to her room.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

Did Hinata think I was silently judging her?Bookmark here

Or was she embarrassed to have someone inspect her room so closely?Bookmark here

The reason I had been so interested in her bedroom was because of how bland my room was by comparison.Bookmark here

In all three of my lives, my bedroom had never been mine.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

I was jealous of Hinata’s bedroom.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

The schedule was from the youngest to the oldest but, as the guest, I would go before Hinata.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Her overly strong rejection did hurt a little. Bookmark here

Still, that pain quickly faded as I soaked in the water.Bookmark here

“Hinata, it’s your turn.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

When she didn’t reply, I looked over at her bed and saw her staring at me, her cheeks dyed pink.Bookmark here

“Hinata?”Bookmark here

“A-a-a-ah, right! Excuse me!”Bookmark here

She zoomed out of the bedroom.Bookmark here

Had I done something wrong?Bookmark here

Was I not meant to take a towel out of the bathroom?Bookmark here

Hinata spent thirty minutes in the bath for some reason.Bookmark here

When I asked her why, she tried to say it was because she liked taking longer baths, though that didn’t add up.Bookmark here

“In Kyoto, you said you couldn’t stay in a bath for more than ten minutes without passing out.”Bookmark here

“…D-did I?”Bookmark here

I nodded. With a forced laugh, Hinata swiftly turned the conversation away from my line of questioning and so I left it at that.Bookmark here

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Don’t presume anything, Akane.Bookmark here

You might have a crush on her, but that doesn’t mean the reverse is true.Bookmark here

To her, you are just a good friend - don’t forget that.Bookmark here

If you do and tell her.Bookmark here

I pictured myself in my second life again, alone on that rooftop.Bookmark here

There isn’t a chance to undo it.Bookmark here

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We spent the rest of the night playing games until close to midnight. Bookmark here

I asked where the futons were kept, thinking I’d have to set one up, but.Bookmark here

“…Hey, Akane.”Bookmark here

“Hmm?”Bookmark here

“Want to…sleep together…in one bed?”Bookmark here

“…Sure.”Bookmark here

Was this something girls did on sleepovers?Bookmark here

I thought people only shared beds together if they were very intimate.Bookmark here

Hinata and I had hugged a few times and held hands, but I’d also done that with Inori and Kana too.Bookmark here

I climbed in first and, after some hesitation, Hinata got in.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Hinata’s did seem to be made of a thicker material, so I wondered if she was sweating.Bookmark here

I turned over and unexpectedly made eye contact with her.Bookmark here

Our faces were maybe five inches apart.Bookmark here

We both blushed and turned away from each other.Bookmark here

“S-sorry.”Bookmark here

“…It’s fine.”Bookmark here

Right - if we’re sleeping together, then that means we’d be close to one another.Bookmark here

A cute girl is just a few inches away from me.Bookmark here

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I’m a little bit embarrassed.
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I hadn’t thought too much about it when Hinata proposed we sleep together, but now I was too nervous to fall asleep. Bookmark here

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“Hinata.”Bookmark here

“Yes?!”Bookmark here

I giggled quietly to myself.Bookmark here

“Thank you for today.”Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

“…Honestly, I’ve never had a sleepover before, so I was excited about today. Thank you.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Really?”Bookmark here

“Yeah. I know Inori and Kana would do the same too, if you were scared they-”Bookmark here

“That’s not it.”Bookmark here

“Hmm?”Bookmark here

I sat up and smiled. “I just…wanted my first to be special.”Bookmark here

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.”Bookmark here

“…Yeah. Thank you.”Bookmark here

“You’re very welcome.”Bookmark here

When I woke up refreshed the next morning, I discovered that I had somehow ended up hugging Hinata at some point in the night.Bookmark here

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I had managed to have quite a peaceful night’s sleep; Hinata, however, seemed to have some bags under her eyes.Bookmark here

Kuromaru (クロまる)
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