Chapter 36:

Suddenly Yori is more embarrassed than me

My childhood friend ran away from home and now I have to share a room with her?!

The awkwardness is almost tangible between Koyori and me as we’re back to the confines of my humble room after taking a shower and changing into more comfortable attire. Koyori claims to be interested in continuing the manga from the other day though the girl is surrounded by a mysterious deflective aura that I can’t quite identify. Not knowing what to do, I turn on my PC to kill some time, performing braindead, repetitive actions I’ve practiced so many times that my hands can perform them without needing my brain’s guidance. At least in theory, that is.

The near-confession still lingers in the backspace of my mind. Now that I’ve finally got a bit of an insight into the erratic nature of Koyori’s affection towards me, I’m beginning to understand why the girl decided to retreat to the back part of my room. Only from the corner of my eye can I determine that she’s barely turning a page, seemingly staring at the paper without really reading at all.

What is she thinking about right now?

Considering the words we just directed at each other, it would be foolish to assume Koyori hasn't been affected in any way. The girl is likely lounging on that sofa, relatively far from my position, precisely because she needs some space to allow her mind to run its course. Even though it’s oddly refreshing to have a break from her ever-bubbly nature, I can’t quite relax for more than one reason.

Why did she suddenly start blushing?

Although I know quite well that I should really be sorting my own thoughts on the matter, Koyori acting so out of character still strikes big enough of a nerve to make me prioritize it. I allow my mind to wander back to the scene, remembering each and every word we exchanged. Both of us laid bare our feelings about each other, and both of us expressed our mutual confusion about the actions and reactions of the other. Koyori may very well understand my oddball behavior a lot better now but I’ve also gained mind-opening insights into the feelings of my friend.

She’s just as confused about her feelings as I am.

My gaze wanders over to the girl who still doesn’t seem to be actively reading the manga she borrowed from me. Something about her being so far away bothers me - as if my body has already gotten used to the frequent close company of my friend. I low-key feel like walking straight over there, nestling up with her, and reading that manga together. There’s a certain twitch in my legs prompting me to close the sudden distance between us yet my own hesitation prevails.

The more I think about it, the more I’m beginning to suspect that Koyori hasn’t had actual romantic thoughts on her mind yet, realizing that I like her a lot more than she thought while inadvertently spilling her own affection towards me. She’s showered me with tons of it without knowing what it means and now she’s starting to understand the meaning behind the language of hugs and snuggles. A small part of my mind wants to revere in a certain sense of schadenfreude but my memories are a little too painful for these feelings to win me over.

The question is, what is she going to do now?

We’ve arrived at a stage where it’s become rather pointless to make an attempt at hiding those blatantly obvious feelings but it takes more than a mere rope and a sense of balance to cross the vast chasm between awareness and acceptance of them. I’m only just beginning to glimpse at the other side. I have a heavy crush on my childhood friend. I’ve finally come to terms with it but Koyori may have just found out she even has one. Or maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. Who knows for sure?

Oh fuck, I died.

Apparently, even countless hours of practice can’t prevent my fingers from running completely autonomously over the keys of my keyboard. A certain input of my mind is still required to react to the attack pattern of enemies, resulting in the demise of my character. Grunting, I revive him and continue to play with a little more focus, trying not to let my spiraling thoughts overwhelm me for now.


Stabbing, slashing, and slicing my path through hordes of orcs and other fantastical beings to level my character up makes me forget about time entirely. Before I know it, the clock turns midnight and my bladder kindly reminds me of the fact at last when it forces me to take a short break. I have completely forgotten about Koyori for a while, who had been reading so quietly that her presence got erased from my senses during my gaming session.

As soon as I’m back in my room, I take rueful steps toward her position.

Oh, she fell asleep.

Koyori’s cheeks are planted tightly onto the pages of the manga and I’m really glad that she’s not drooling all over it. Her petite body is sprawled all over the couch, though she hasn’t even curled up under her usual blanket.

Silly Yori-chan…

A grin plays around my face as I gently pull the book away from her clutches by lifting her head just a little bit. The girl emits a small moan but doesn’t appear to have woken up. After placing the blanket over her sleeping body, I return to my side of the room. Returning to the game feels pointless now. Going to bed - even if I’m not sleepy yet, seems like the best option.


Tonight, the moon is obstructed by many, albeit harmless clouds drifting across the horizon much in the way my mind is drifting across the vast sea of thoughts accumulating in my brain. I feel like the insights I gained are rather useless to me if you consider my blatant inability to tell Koyori how much I really like her. I’ve figured myself out to a satisfying degree so why shouldn’t I move on to the next step and share my insights with the girl I have a crush on?

Because it’s embarrassing!

I immediately tell my brain to shut up. The only reason why everything has been awkward and embarrassing for me is my apparent lack of experience and self-confidence, kindled by the flame of Koyori’s unknown feelings towards me. Even now, while everything is hinting at it, I still can’t be entirely certain about the source of Koyori’s affection. She’s still very childlike and immature, turning concepts of romance into complicated matters she probably can’t digest yet. She likes me; she likes me a lot. I’m at least certain about that. I’m just not sure if she knows already how strong a feeling it really is.

My swirling thoughts continue to keep me awake. Even if I somehow managed to gather enough courage to tell her directly how I feel, the lingering fear of rejection keeps me chained to the confines of my desires. Rejections happen all the time. In Light Novels, manga, real life. In case of doubt, clinging to the hope of a positive answer forever is probably still better than a definitive ‘no’. Nothing speaks in favor of the girl turning me down but I’ve seen enough rejections gone wrong simply because one of the two characters hasn’t been ready to accept their feelings yet.

I should wait until Koyori figures this out on her own. Could there be a way to support her?

Just as the thought rings through my mind like a phone call, sudden movement alerts me to the fact that Koyori just woke up to take her nightly piss or whatever. Same as last time, I pretend to be sound asleep. Same as last time, it doesn’t work.

The girl slurps downstairs as if sleepwalking, momentarily making me worry about her falling down the ladder that leads downstairs but, a few minutes later, she reappears.

…and slips straight into my bed.

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon