Peaceful Days With You
“1, 2, 3. Congratulations on your graduation!”
It had been more than two years since the day of my graduation, the day which marked my new life in this busy and bustling city. Having to say goodbye to my family and friends in my hometown was not easy. Life was truly tough as I was seriously stressed and lonely to go to college and pursue my own dreams in this big city all by myself.
"Here's your tea."
"Thank you, Himari."
However, ever since Himari, one of my best friends in my hometown, graduated and came to live with me, those dull and boring days soon came to an end.
“Oh my, can't say I'm not jealous of you, Niko. There is always a gentle and pretty lady to take care of you every day.”
"Seriously dude? You've grown up and still let a lady do all the work?"
My friends talked via voice chat.
"Be quiet, will you all?" I took a sip of my tea.
“Haha…he must be pouting again. There there, who's the good boy, who's the good boy."
I sighed and continued with my work, completely ignoring them teasing me.
“Sorry to everyone for the delay. Let's continue where we left off," our final livestream member finally went back to the group chat.
Time continued to pass as Himari helped me out with the housework while I was busy working.
"Niko-senpai, dinner's ready," Himari popped her head into the room and called out to me.
The online meeting was finally over. I shutdown the computer and stretched my whole body. Downstairs, I could smell the scent of delicious food wafting everywhere.
“Woah, it smells so good,” I proceeded to the table to check the dishes Himari had prepared.
“Senpai, don’t try to have a sneaky bite.”
“I won't, don't worry, I intend to eat these in front of you.”
“If you want to eat that much, come and help me out, will you?”
After finishing preparing, we sat at the table and ate dinner together.
“Tasty. Your sushi is truly something out of this world.”
“Thank you for the compliment,” Himari smiled happily.
“Oh, you have a day off tomorrow, right?”
"Yeah, is there anything you would like me to help with?”
“Want to go shopping with me tomorrow?”
“I’d love to,” her smile shined brightly.
As a new day arrived, the city continued to be filled with the joyful sounds of a busy day. That night we decided to eat dinner earlier than usual to prepare for the shopping trip. After locking the house door, we hopped right in the car and headed straight to the supermarket.
“Woah, you really bought so much today senpai,” Himari talked to me at the counter.
"Hehe, the gang back from home is coming here visit us so it’s fine to splurge."
“You sure is unfair, I didn't get to have such a grand welcome when I first came here. Not to mention, I had to wait at the airport because you overslept.”
"Sorry, what do you want me to treat?"
"Jeez, I’m not robbing you or anything, don’t make me look like it."
'Beep, beep', the invoice was being printed. I signed the invoice and showed it to the staff to check.
"Hey Himari, wanna see a movie?"
“Okay, let's make a contest. Whoever can carry the most bags to the car will get to go to the movies sooner.”
"Yeah, I'm not falling for that."
We quickly took the bags to the car.
"You are really different today, senpai."
"Really? I'm just wearing different clothes."
“Usually, you're not quite proactive and lively today. As if you have a girlfriend.”
"But aren’t you my girl friend?”
"That is not what I meant. It’s the other "girlfriend".”
“What do you mean?”
“No wonder you are still single."
We quickly finished stuffing the bags in the back of the car and headed to the cinema. I let Himari choose the movie which interested her. Besides watching a movie together, we went on to walk around the supermarket and have fun there until the staff supermarket announced to close off for the day. That night was a very blissful and happy night for us.
"You're really heavy, Himari."
"Who told you to drive so badly and disrupted my sleep?"
After the punishment of having to carry Himari while carrying all the bags with both hands from the yard to the house, we quickly decorated the dining table with snacks and sweets before having our own personal hygiene routine and going to bed. After finishing setting up the alarm for picking everyone up from the airport tomorrow, I turned off my phone and fell asleep.
Before the sun could illuminate the entire city, we both woke up in excitement and full of joy.
“Himari, put on a sweater. It's cold outside."
We got in the car and drove straight to the airport.
"It's a long way to the airport, you should take a nap. I'll wake you up when we get there."
The city view in the early morning was quite mesmerizing and beautiful.
Closer to the airport, the surrounding scenery also changed. On our right and left, green trees surrounded us while there were mountains in the far distance. They reminded me of the scenery back in my hometown. Looking in the mirror behind me, I saw Himari eagerly looking at her surroundings like the day she first arrived in the city.
In the distance ahead of us, I could see planes landing while some were taking off into the clear blue sky. One of them must definitely be from our hometown.
“Niko-Senpai, hurry up.”
"One minute, let me take a picture of the parking area.”
We finally arrived at the airport. Our hearts fluttered when we were about to see our friends from our hometown again.
"Himari, do you remember which flight they took?"
"Yes, it's flight number 7B703."
We were both checking the information on our own phones.
“Senpai, should we give them a call?”
“We arrive 30 minutes early so I don't think they've landed yet. Shall we go eat breakfast then?"
Breakfast at the airport was somewhat expensive, but their food sure was delicious and the view of nature scenery was breathtaking.
Sitting at the coffee shop, Himari suddenly beamed with a smile when she received the message.
“Senpai, they're here,” she showed me the messages on her phone.
"Okay, let's go pick them up."
Holding her phone in both hands, Himari couldn't hold back from smiling like crazy as she eagerly looked inside the arrival area of the airport.
In the distance, we saw the silhouettes of three familiar girls. The gang from the hometown was finally here.
As the three of them getting closer and I welcomed them, Himari changed into her expressionless face and pretended she didn't hear anything when they were calling out for us. She was teasing them as if she didn't know who they were, making them almost have a heart attack. Their happiness tears soon flowed when the teasing was over.
"Everyone, put your luggage on the cart, I’ll carry them.”
“Okay!” Everyone replied in unison.
"Big bro, my mother sent you some good," the girl in the hoodie quickly flaunting me the of dried fruit package.
"Sora, can you not say it as if you are sending me illegal stuff every time?"
They were as energetic as ever. From the airport to the back of the car, there was no moment of silence.
“Look, we just flew on those big planes.”
"Be careful behind guys, don't point your fingers outside of the car like that," I reminded them.
“Your car is really huge, big bro”, said Sora, the hoodie girl, popping her head toward the front seats from the back.
She is the only one in the group who calls me ‘big bro’ as if I were her sibling.
"Sit down Sora, you might hurt yourself if you keep on messing around."
Behind me was a burst of laughter, it felt just like the time I had spent hanging out with them in our childhood days.
My eyes suddenly filled with tears. I wiped away the tears of nostalgia and focused on driving.
"We're here, girls," Himari informed as we waited for the automatic door to open.
“Woah, your house looks so big.”
“Big sis Mio, look. He even has his own swimming pool,” Sora directed everyone's glaze at my pool.
"It's still early, you guys can go for a swim if you want."
“Let’s!” All four of them said in unison.
*Click click*, I locked the car while the girls carried their stuff upstairs.
"Himari, can you help me prepare fruit for everyone?" I asked.
“I’ll…I’ll help too,” said Mio, the girl in the beautiful white dress.
Knowing Mio, Sora's big sister, she is a little shy most of the time. But we all found it cute and secretly agreed to listed her in the "Endangered cute creature" book that we made up.
*Splash*, Sora jumped right into the pool.
“Ohhh Waaa, this must be heaven.”
Sora splashing water around viciously.
"Onee-chan, come down here, how long do you plan to stand there?"
She was curious to see Mio standing looking at my humble little flower garden.
"Mind your own business."
“Don't tell me you're still afraid of cold water, take this!” She used water attack on Mio.
“Hey, stop it, you idiot.”
"The fruit and snacks are on the guest table, you guys better eat up, you hear?" Said Himari from the kitchen.
"Roger," said Sora and Mio in unison.
Inside of the house, I was struggling with our team most active girl as she was dragging me to the pool with her.
“Niko, come swimming with us.”
"Wait, I still need to finish my work…," I'm gluing both of my hands to the chair with my dear life.
"Everyone let's all attack him," she called out for support.
Jumping out from the pool to flank, Sora and Mio joined forces with Himari to help her drag me into the pool together.
Floating on the surface, I splashed the water towards them to fire back their previous attack. My yard was filled with laughter of joy.
Similar to what summer was like back in my hometown, the floor was dripping wet as the five of us equally hungry and ready for lunch.
“And the last dish, creamy lobster,” I presented the final dish on the table.
“Wow, so much food.”
“Don’t think about holding back. I still have a lot of food and snacks laying around.”
"Let’s dig in."
Everyone happily grabbed their food into their bows.
“This is superb,” Mio showed a satisfied face.
“Hehe, glad you like my specialty,” I smiled with a smug face.
“Unbelievable, it's only been a year, but your cooking skill has already improved so much,” said Sora.
"He has Himari-chan to teach him all this time," said the pool attacker who just organized a worldwide attack at me.
"Nitori, don't talk while chewing like that", I reminded her.
After lunch, they rushed upstairs to continue their sightseeing trip of my house.
*clack*, opening on of the rooms upstairs, I introduced them to their bedroom.
"This is your room."
“Woah, it sure looks a lot like a hotel.”
"Hey Sora, don't jump on the bed like that," Mio said as Sora was just too excited to stay still.
I put their luggage on the floor.
"My and Himari's rooms are right around the corner, you know where to find us if you need anything."
“You girls have fun, I’ll go and prepare the dessert now.”
*Clack*, I closed the door.
“Sora, Sora. Look. Big bathtub,” Nitori called out to her best friend.
"Aye yo~, that’s lit.”
"Don’t try and break anything. I'll go downstairs and help them out now,” Mio waved goodbye.
"See ya, sis."
“Woah, the faucet is automatic.”
“There are color changing lights too, incredible, so eye-catching.”
“We must be in the future.”
“No doubt about it.”
Sora and Nitori turned their attention to the lava lamp on the nightstand.
"What a strange lamp."
“How do you think it works, Sora?”
“Must be magic.”
"Eek?!" Sora screamed as the cleaning robot bumps into her feet.
Both of them quickly jumped on the bed without a thought.
"What is this?" Sora questioned.
"It's coming towards us."
The robot changed its direction after hitting the bed.
"Phew, it can't get up here, we're safe."
“What do you think it is, Sora?”
"I have no idea. Must be a landmine."
“Landmine?” Nitori looked at Sora with fear in her eyes.
"That’s right. You see, big bro’s house is this big, so of course he must have some kinds of advanced security system."
“Dope. Let's blow it up.”
"Eh? No way, what if it actually explodes?"
"What? You're scared? Come on, the forefathers won't yell at you for bad grades, Sora."
"You sure have the weirdest way to comfort people."
Himari called Sora and Nitori from downstairs: "You two, the cake is ready. Come down."
And so, the dining table was once again filled with delicious food.
"So where do you guys want to go this afternoon?" I asked them while we were sharing cake and sweets.
“Waterpark.”, “Supermarket.”, “Bookstore.”. Three different questions spoken at the same time.
“Eh, bookstore? You're boring, nee-chan," said Sora to Mio.
"What? Is there a problem with that?”
“Ehehe, there's still time. You don't have to worry," Himari intervened to calm them down.
“We will go wherever you want. Just list them out," I suggested.
“Of course, I have ever broken a promise before?” I answered them.
They silently looked at me and then kept on discussing where to go.
"Looks like your credit scores keeps getting lower, senpai."
"What are you, a finance expert?"
"Uhm, excuse me, can we also go to the aquarium?" Mio shyly asked us.
"Anywhere you like Mio."
"And also, the zoo?"
"The more the merrier."
She smiled happily.
"Niko, I love you."
Mio soon realized what she just said. She covered her embarrassed face in shame. She sure was very excited.
“Brother, I think my onee-chan has fallen for you,” coming closer to me, Sora spoke quietly but she stressed the words as she was telling me a secret while teasing Mio.
“Hey, shut up,” Mio blushed and angrily chased after Sora.
“Nitori, Himari-chan, save me. I'm being chased by a monster."
We laughed together. Nothing had really changed.
Time passed by. The noonday sun shined brightly on every street corner.
Taking a break downstairs, I saw Mio reading a book in front of my kitchen hall overlooking the pool. That was quite a nice spot where she could enjoy the summer breeze with a stunning view of the garden.
“Don’t you feel like taking a nap, Mio?”
"Oh Niko, I thought you were busy with your work."
“Well, I was at first. But Sora and Nitori seemed to enjoy playing VR games, so I just let them have fun in my office.”
The sounds from above echoed down.
“Got it. They are as energetic as ever.”
"What books are you reading?"
“I just picked up a random book or two from your bookshelf. Let's see, 'The way of flowers'.”
“Ah, I remember that one. Simple and cozy everyday life. So, you like slice-of-life titles?”
“I don't think I have a genre I like best. I just go along with whatever sounds compelling.”
"It seems you and I are in the same boat."
"Niko, how do we change the game?" Nitori called me from above.
"One sec, I’m coming."
I stood up and did a light stretch.
"There's juice in the fridge, feel free to grab whatever you want," I said to Mio before I went upstairs.
"Understood. Thank you very much.”
Mio looked outside the yard with a soft smile as bright as the sun. Himari wiped away the sweat on her forehead as she took care of the flowers she raised in my garden. Upstairs all three of us enjoyed playing games together.
Pulling out a book in the bookcase, quickly glancing at the cover of the book, Mio immediately pushed the book back as she saw the word "love" in the title.
“…”, Mio blushed.
"You girls ready yet?"
Coming down from the house, the four of them put on their beautiful clothes and dresses.
“Ooh la la, senpai, you look impressive.”
“You and everyone look gorgeous too.”
"Thank you," Himari smiled while one hand covering her lips like a princess.
“I prefer wearing casual clothes. This is too girly for me,” Sora complained as she had to wear a long-sleeved dress.
"Absolutely not. We'll be taking pictures together," said Mio.
“But you look super cute in this dress, Sora,” Nitori complimented Sora.
"So usually I'm not cute then?"
“Ahh, the weather is nice today, isn’t it?”
“Oi, are you dodging my question?”
Everyone got in the car and readied for the ride.
“Remember to fasten your seat belts,” I told everyone.
The city in the late afternoon was splendid and beautiful. A place which was both peaceful and bustling at the same time. On the big streets, they couldn’t take their eyes off the tall and monumental buildings. They reminded me of the first day when Himari and I were captivated by the same beauty of this city.
On the back seat, Himari was happily answering and telling the girls everything about this city.
“Welcome to the city center.”
We spent time together exploring places and taking pictures.
“Are we going to eat here?”
"That's right, eat to your heart's content."
We then had dinner at a rooftop buffet restaurant.
“And this is the supermarket center in the city.”
“Truly wonderful. It's like I'm in a palace."
Their eyes lit up like children seeing miracles before their eyes.
“Now it's my special gift for you guys. You guys can buy whatever you want, my treat."
"Really? Are you not going to sell your teammates like you did in the game, are you?"
"I'm telling you the truth."
"Senpai, I didn't expect you to be so cruel."
"Which side are you on, Himari? And since when I sold you in the game, don't try to switch role here Sora."
“No way. Then let's go shopping together."
All four of them beamed delightfully. Along with the excitement and the fact that they were always full of energy, it was also quite tiring having such an adventure with everyone.
“I didn't think that taking care of high school girls would be so difficult,” I chatted with Himari.
"I understand how you feel."
"You don’t want to get anything?”
"Not really. You've bought me many things already."
Seeing her dazzling smile, I replied back to her with a smile of mine.
“Big bro, come and help us choose clothes us,” Sora waved from afar.
"Look, what do you think?"
She held up a bra.
“I refuse to answer that question.”
“Eh? Your reaction isn’t funny at all.”
"But are you really need them?"
"You wanna fight or something? What do you mean I need them? Can't you see the two hills in front of you? Are you blind?!"
"Ah, I forgot."
"Are you dumb?! Just because the nutrient went to my brain doesn't mean I don't own one. Idiot big bro. Go to hell," she spitted fire as she grabbed my sleeve by the collar.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
"I can't tell her that as a force of habit, sometimes I still forget that she is a girl. Ever since we were little, I have always thought that she was a boy until a plain turned into hills."
"Ho, you think so, huh?"
"Ah, did I say it out loud..."
Nearby, a staff was showing her hospitality toward her customer: “This dress will look very nice on you. Would you like to try it? Or perhaps this set will suit your style more? This is a very popular spring collection set among high school students.”
“Ah…I’m just…” Mio looked like she was having trouble communicating.
“Thanks for the suggestion. We will keep an eye for that,” I came to rescue her from the situation.
"No problem. If you need anything, just tell me."
I thanked the staff.
“Thank you very much,” Mio let out a sigh of relief.
“Have you chosen any clothes you like yet?”
“So many stunning and nice-looking clothes. I think I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything..." Mio was startled to see my bruised appearance, "are you ok?"
“I'm fine. 'Tis just a scratch. Take your time.”
"I’ll try my best."
Over the accessories section, Nitori and Sora were trying on different glasses.
“This question is wrong. No no no, it has to be done like this,” Sora said in a deep voice while wearing glasses.
Nitori laughed at her friend's goofy posture.
"Oi, don't imitate me."
“Ah, the impostor appears,” said Sora when she saw me.
“Niko, I found a pair of glasses that suits you,” Nitori put on the glass frames she found for me.
“Add a little more detail”, Sora took off the hat she was wearing and put it on my head.
“Wow, Niko really transforms to a different person.”
"You look hella cool brother."
“Follow me,” Sora grabbed my hand and dragged me to a nearby mirror.
"I don't see any differences."
“Hehe, only us girls can see it,” Nitori beamed warmly.
“Okay, let's take a photo,” Sora took out her phone and made a pose herself.
She took pictures of the three of us.
"Alright, let’s change style."
They then dressed me up with other glass frames along with different accessories. The three of us constantly dressed up in different styles at the store and took funny pictures together. Of course, Mio and Himari also joined us afterwards.
"Why do all the pictures of onee-chan look so shy and awkward? None of them are cool at all, seriously," said Sora scrolling through the pictures on her phone for everyone to see.
“It was because you guys kept using me to model and dress up,” Mio embarrassed.
“Hehe, I'm sorry. You looked so cute that I couldn’t stop," Himari reassured Mio.
“Are you guys tired? Do you want to go for a walk?” I asked everyone.
“I vote we keep on going,” Nitori quickly raised her hand and spoke up.
"Me too," Sora voted.
“It's fascinating being in a city, it's quite late now but everything is still bustling as usual," Mio looked around curiously.
"Oh, I just noticed that as well."
“Everything is convenient and modern too. It's like I'm living in a comic book world," Nitori spoke her mind.
“Completely agree with you, Nitori.”
“Senpai, the weather is rather chill and calm today. What do you think if we take a walk by the city river?"
In the car, they still couldn’t help but be attracted by the surrounding landscape like this morning.
“So cool. I can feel my armpit thanking me.”
"Can you be any less vulgar?" Mio was speechless at her own sister.
“Woah, there are big trees and dim lights all around, just like in the manga I read,” Nitori happily contemplated her surroundings.
"Everybody stands closer."
"Ready? 1, 2, 3”
Our new memories continued to be created.
“Hah~, this brings back so many memories,” Himari chatted with me.
“Yeah. Just like the good old days.”
We watched the three of them roaming around.
My eyes and Sora's eyes suddenly met. She pulled Mio closer to her and whispered something that made Mio blushed while Nitori and Sora looked at me with a mischievous expression.
'Oi, what are you saying,' I wondered from afar.
"You guys want something to eat or drink?"
“Eh? We're still hanging out?” Mio's face turned dark as she was praying for her legs.
“You sure are full of energy. Yet I thought Nitori was the most hyperactive member of the group today.”
“Haha. Then we go home for today. We shall continue tomorrow.”
"So where are we going tomorrow, big bro?"
"That is a secret."
“Come on, tell us. The excitement will make us stay awake.”
“Does that mean you guys still have the energy to keep going? Okay, let's go for another round."
"I'm retreating, knees weak," Nitori raised her white flag.
It was a clear night. Our voices and laughter echoed softer and quieter.
Nitori looked around. Slowly closing the door gently to not disturb anyone, she walked out of the room with a pad of A4 paper. Sitting down at the table, she curiously looked for a way to turn on the chandelier above the dining table.
"Let me open it for you."
Nitori’s soul left her body in surprise.
"Sorry, did I scare you?"
"Niko!? I think you're already asleep."
"I rarely go to sleep at this time. I still have to edit the video a bit more to meet the deadline.”
"I see. You sure work really hard.”
“Thank you. Anyway, does the new environment make it hard for you to sleep? Or is it because the room I work in is still a bit noisy? If that's the case then I apologize, I haven't had time to perfect the soundproofing yet."
“No, the bedroom is undeniably comfortable and quiet. I just couldn’t stop thinking about today."
“Tell me,” I handed her the box of raisins.
“I never thought that one day I would see the scenery I dreamed of. The places you took me and everyone to were so beautiful, I really think I'm living in a dream. I am really happy.”
“Glad to hear that. I and Himari were also very nervous thinking about the plan for today. Fortunately, the plan worked out as expected. If you guys didn’t feel happy, I would probably bury my head in the ground."
“Haha, I see. You and Himari felt the same way. We were also worried that you two wouldn’t be able to enjoy the day when you guys had to go along with what we wanted."
"If you're happy, we’re happy too."
“Are you going to draw?” Glancing at her drawing sketch, I wondered.
"Then let me set things up for you," I left my tablet on the table, showing her pictures we took together today, "here, use my tablet.”
Looking at the picture we took together for a while, Nitori suddenly smiled softly.
“It has been more than two years since we have been able to hang out together like this. We missed you and Himari so much."
"I missed you guys too."
“It is not fair that you graduated and moved to another place to study. I really wanted everyone to stay with together and continue to be carefree for just a little bit more.”
“But that doesn't mean the end, does it? You said that distance is nothing to us. Our squad will always be together no even if we are apart.”
"But you didn’t even go back to visit your hometown for at least a day in the past two years."
“Ahaha, I'm sorry. This year I will try to rearrange my schedule.”
“Though I and everyone know that you have worked hard all this time to pursue your dream. Seeing you as successful as you are now makes everyone super happy."
“Thank you. You and everyone have sent me words of encouragement over the past time, it means a lot to me. I don't know how to thank you and everyone else enough."
"Is something wrong?"
“Now isn't the time to talk about this…I…I mean can't bear emotional talks…” Her words trailed off towards the end and she turned her face away while playing with her hair.
“Huh? You act very strange. Are you hiding any secrets from me?"
“No…no, I'm telling the truth.”
“These raisins are so delicious, yum,” Nitori tried to change the subject.
We sat there eating raisins and continued chatting for a little while.
"Remember to go to bed early, otherwise you won't be able to hang out with everyone tomorrow."
“Wait up, Niko,” Nitori called me before I went upstairs to keep up with my work.
“Thank you for today,” she bowed her head to thank me.
“Aww, don’t mention it. Oh right, when you're done with your drawing, may I have a copy?”
“As many as you like.”
“Looking forward to them. Goodnight."
We exchanged smiles with each other.
THAT’S ALL FOR THIS CHAPTER.
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