Chapter 16:

I Looked Up a Girl's Skirt

Hanako won’t Grant my Wish!

I was at the supermarket with Hanako looking for curry ingredients. If I was being honest, I had no idea what went into curry. But could you blame me? The last time I ate it was as leftovers from one of Koyuki’s work parties.

It was a little intimidating at first with so many unruly vegetables floating around in a pile of yellowish brown mud, but when you closed your eyes and just shoveled the goop down with some rice, the taste was surprisingly really good. It did take a little pushing from Koyuki to get me to try it though.

Maybe it was no Saizeriya, but curry was good in its own right.

I was especially curious about how Hanako would go about making it herself. I just happened to blurt it out when she asked me about trying something new.

"Have you ever cooked curry before?"

"Well they do have variations of it where I come from. But based on the recipes I'm reading about here, it seems that Japanese curry is quite different. This one here looks simple enough. Perhaps I'll even add my own little flare!"

Hanako was getting all fired up about getting the chance to try a new recipe. She had a basket under her arm and a smart phone in her face, and still managed to wiggle around in excitement. She was surprisingly adept when it came to technology, and had been interested in the internet ever since she found out it was where I spent most of my spare time.

But well, when she herself had plenty of spare time to spend at home, I could only pray that she didn't end up with the same kinds of web-based addictions that I did. I'd sooner leave Vchan forever than find out she was browsing such a degenerative website herself.

In my left hand was Bella (better known as the umbrella), who I didn't really have an easy time holding onto ever since I found out she was a living being.

Or allegedly, anyway. I still had a hard time believing it myself.

That said, I've always had a hard time understanding the "safe" and "proper" ways to hold an animal whenever I went to the zoo, and I've never exactly been a pet owner myself either. So I couldn't help but worry that I was hurting her somehow just by holding her by the stem. assuming she really was a living being and the whole thing wasn't just some elaborate gaslight by Hanako.


Hanako was pointing her phone right at me.

"Did you just take a picture of me!?"

"Hehe, perhaps I did."

"Don't! I look so scruffy right now…"

"Nonsense, you're as cute as always. Especially holding Bella as delicate as you are, even she can’t help but blush."

"That's because you're embarrassing the both of us. Stop it."

Only a giggle from the girl who was two heads taller than me.

How's the weather up there? Must be really nice, with how carelessly happy you look…

I felt a slight zap at the palm of my hand, as if I'd been shocked. Bella dropped out of my hand and rolled away.

It caught both Hanako and my attention.

"Ah! Sorry, I-"

I paused while leaning down to pick her back up, as I noticed she halted right by a pair of slender ankles, which as I trailed my eyes up, led right up inside of a skirt.


I jumped back.


Of course, there was no reason for me to blurt anything so stupid out loud, as she didn't even notice me until I awkwardly yelled right into her ear and fumbled backwards.

Generally, I only shopped opposite to any aisles with other people. I would just trail around waiting for them to leave, maybe occasionally peeking over to see if they were still on the other side. Or at late hours, so as not to come across anybody I might know. Going out with Hanako was more of a necessary risk than anything, as I still had reservations about her going out and about all by herself.

Though the lustful eyes alone that I could feel around us made me wildly uncomfortable. Looking at Hanako, I wondered if she noticed them at all. Surely she wasn’t just oblivious.

How did they make her feel? I couldn’t tell through that usual innocent smile of hers.

This was exactly why I didn’t go out, I thought after taking another look at the unnamed girl whom I had just embarrassed myself in front of. She wasn't just wearing any skirt, but the skirt of our school's own uniform. You could almost call it a worst case scenario.

As a saving grace, I didn't actually recognize her. Nor did she hopefully recognize me. And as I was silently, awkwardly staring at her with blank eyes, she seemed to do the same.

Something about her was a little strange.

Long black hair that had a slight curve inwards, and a very cute, fragile face. Her stare communicated no emotions, but the slight blush painted across her pale face told me that she was feeling something. She was slender like a doll, and in her stuff stance, she really could have been a mannequin.

I definitely didn't recognize her, so what felt so wrong? I wanted to say something, but I didn't actually know what those words or feelings were.

She almost looked the same. Or was I just overthinking it?

Actually, hadn't I just looked up her skirt? Was that actually what she was contemplating?

Oh no, that must have been it.

"Uh… I-I'm so-"


Sniff sniff

"Hmmmm, do you know this girl Shoutarou? Something about her scent is strange."


What the hell was she talking about!?

"Don't just- just…!"

I turned to the girl.

"We have to go! Now! Sorry for looking up your skirt!"

I grabbed her hand and bolted outside without another thought. I didn't even think about the basket in her hand, until we were entirely out of the store, but fortunately it was empty.

"Why were you sniffing her!? That's gross! No, actually, I don't care! Don't go around sniffing other people in public like that. I have a hard enough time blending in as is!"

"Understood. My apologies, master."

She was so understanding I was suddenly at a loss. Agreeing to everything I said without a second thought unless I specifically invited her criticisms, it almost made me feel as if she wasn't listening at all. But with her gaze still fixated on me, I knew in fact that she took every word I said to heart. Because after telling her something once, she never made the same mistake twice.

Hanako would never honestly let me know if I was hurting her. Maybe she herself wouldn't even realize she was being hurt by me, because she was so insistent on following my every word as if it were law.

If I were to describe it as feeling like her very life was in my hands, she might just agree with me. That might have been the most terrifying part about it.

"Sorry, I got too upset and yelled. I didn't mean it."

"Apology accepted!"

She had a wonderful smile on her face, as if she hadn't been bothered by me to begin with. Though even if she hadn't been, she didn't deny my apology anymore either. We were both learning to compromise with each other's behavior in our own ways, it seemed.

I felt hard plastic make contact with my head. Before I could look around to find out what had struck me, Bella was already in my hands.

"Seems she's mad you forgot about her."

Hanako was only giggling at me. No coming to my defense this time, huh?

"Sorry, Bella. I panicked."

No, really, where did she fall from? Did this little umbrella have teleportation powers or something?

Well, it didn't matter. Honestly, I was so much more used to the slightly uncanny changes in my everyday life since Hanako arrived. More than these things that were stranger than fiction, I was much more easily startled by reality.

Besides, it was raining still, so I took it as an underlying gesture of kindness from her. Bella seemed to be a bit of a tsundere from what I could tell.

I hated using anime terminology to describe real people, but it was the only word that came to mind immediately.

Then again, I wasn’t really talking about a person, but an umbrella.

"Shall we head to another store, master?"

"I guess so. Should I… let Koyuki know we're going to be late? I don't really want to explain this situation to her…"

"Hanako votes yes!"

"Don't refer to yourself in the third person. It's creepy."

As I struggled to maintain the umbrella's position over Hanako's head, she didn't take it from me as I expected her to.

Not that I necessarily wanted her to.

Under such a comfortable spring atmosphere, I wondered if it was okay for me to feel as I did.

There was this person next to me who I didn't need to feel so conscious around.

Even if I got nervous or screwed something up, she still wouldn't judge me.

Even if I wasn't confident in myself, she would be twice as confident for my sake.

Even if I couldn't live up to her expectations, she would still be proud of me.

For the first time that I can remember, it almost felt that it was okay to be me. That it was okay to make the mistakes that I did.

"Thank you, Hanako."

"What for?"

"I don't know. But thank you."

"You're welcome."

It felt too good to be true.

Eventually, I would have to wake up from such a good dream.


“So why did you sniff her anyway? You don’t just go around smelling everybody that passes by us, do you?”

“Of course not! I d-don’t have such a hobby!”

Hanako was really bad at lying.

“Do- do you smell me often…?”

She stayed silent. The kind of silence that spoke for itself.

Right. Uh, maybe I should change the subject.

“What did you mean earlier when you said she smelled ‘strange’?”

“Well there were two things. For one, she had a Netherworldly scent on her.”

“What!? As in, she was a demon?”

“Not quite. It was only traces. Quite similar to your scent, though obviously not as sweet and innocent. In that regard, yours is by far the only human scent that I can tolerate.”

In the midst of her own swooning, she let another strange confession slip. I would have to be more careful with my hygiene from now on…

“Does that mean she knows a succubus too?”

“An incubus, to be more specific.”


A girl with an incubus. Maybe that’s what bothered me before when we made eye contact?

I wondered what it was like for her. Actually, immediately, I became curious about other human-succubus relationships. Was ours normal? Surely not.

I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t run away before she could say anything. Maybe we would have gotten along. I was getting better at talking to people after all.

No, she was still a girl. It was probably still too high of a hurdle.

Actually, wasn’t Hanako the one who had been on the offensive?

…Was that on purpose?

“You said there were two things. What was the other?”

“Ah, yes. That filthy human; she was releasing pheromones like crazy.”

More talk about pheromones?

“Like yours from before?”

“Not quite. They were natural human pheromones. The kind that emit when they feel attraction towards another.”

Jealousy again. It was a little bit frustrating.

“So that’s why you cut in like that.”

“I was simply protecting you from something dangerous. Even without the suspicious scent she gave off , I could see the lust in her eyes. She was up to no good! Especially with an incubus servant–who knows what kinds of dirty, disgusting thoughts she was having about my poor master!”

Hey. You’re talking to somebody with their own succubus servant right now you know.

I had a hard time believing Hanako. The girl in question didn’t give off any vibes like that. If nothing else, I at least took pride in my ability to judge other people. Which in turn caused me to doubt her even more.

Although I didn’t have a nose like a succubus, so I couldn’t exactly deny her claims either. But even so, the way she talked about other “humans” just rubbed me the wrong way.

“Well, she’s probably got her own circumstances. Let’s just leave it at that.”

“Right, I let myself get too agitated there. My apologies, master.”

The hardest thing for me to put up with was Hanako’s own frown. I put on my best smile for her. I didn’t want her to be upset because of me. Though I’m not sure if it looked any good.

“It’s fine. Let’s go hit the next store over.”

“Sure thing!”

Surely she could feel it too–this unease in the air.

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