Translator, Typesetter, Redrawer: yuNS
Prologue: The High School Girl Beneath the Lamppost
I was heartbroken.
There's this female coworker two years older than me, Gotou-san.
Gotou-san is a very caring person. She had treated me well during my training period. Her smile was graceful and her considerate personality was a great mental boon for a corporate slave like myself.
"If she already had a boyfriend, she should've said so at the beginning…"
I already lost count of how many beers I've had. Hashimoto, who sat across from me, smiled as if it were someone else's problem.
Yes, we had gone on a date; Gotou-san and I, just the two of us. After five years of working together, I finally worked up the courage to ask her for a date. She quickly accepted, and I went on the date filled with hopes and dreams. This might work out! I had thought. We had went to the zoo together. To be honest, I spent more time looking at Gotou-san from the side than I did animals, with the occasional glance at her chest.
Anyway, in a burst of vigor and enthusiasm, I convinced myself that I could not let this chance slip by. After our zoo date, I brought her to a fancy French restaurant for dinner. I don't remember the taste of the food.
Then, after a long wait, I asked her:
"Would you like to come to my place after this?"
Since we're both adults, she should have immediately understood what I meant. As I looked at her with a mix of anticipation and unease, she showed an awkward smile.
Then she shook her head.
"Keep this a secret from everyone else at the company. Actually, I have a boyfriend."
"THEN WHY THE HELL DID YOU COME ON THE DATE!!!"
"Calm down Yoshida, that's the sixth time today."
"I'll say it a thousand times if I have to…"
"I don't want to hear that a thousand times."
Hashimoto forced a smile on his face as he watched me gulp down another beer.
"You should really stop."
"How am I supposed to calm down if I don't drink!?"
"You only snapped after you drank. You're not really making any progress this way."
It's only because it's someone else's problem that Hashimoto could say that. I wouldn't be able to take it anymore if I didn't drink.
Immediately after I was rejected, I sat down on a bench in a small park, stupefied, with my head hung low.
From what she told me, it seemed like she had a boyfriend since five years ago.
Basically, she already had a boyfriend even before I knew her.
"This is so stupid…"
For five years, I had a crush on a girl with a boyfriend.
"I was fooled… Give me back my feelings…"
I hung my head even lower after half-heartedly pushing the responsibility on someone else for this incident . I could feel anger, moreso than sorrow, beginning to simmer over inside my chest.
Noticing that, I gave Hashimoto a call.
"I thought it was urgent business, but you just wanted someone to complain to."
"It's fine isn't it? I always listen to you bragging about your wife."
"I wasn't really bragging. It's more like grumbling."
"That's not what it sounded like to me!!"
After a few words, Hashimoto came out to meet me and started listening to my idle complaints.
"Agh… I really thought it would work out, you know?"
"Not with her boyfriend around. Plus it has been five years for them already."
"I really wanted to stroke those soft looking boobs too!"
"You're being loud, dumbass."
I could see the forced smile of the office lady drinking next to me in the corner of my vision. I briefly felt her gaze on me, but who cares? Due to the alcohol, I couldn't feel any shame at all.
"To think that those hands that patted my shoulders, and that mouth that told me 'good work today' have all already been used really burns my heart…"
"Your delusions are bit too defined, aren't they?"
"If I was going to be dumped anyway, I'd have liked to have had done it at least once."
"I feel like it'd have been even more shocking for you then."
After drinking and chatting, I've become thoroughly aware that I've been thinking of Gotou-san in a rather perverse manner. However, it really can't be helped. No matter how hard I try, at my age, it's impossible for me separate my feelings of love and lust. That's more or less the gist of it.
"Well, it's quite a nice feeling to have one of my long-term suspicions cleared up."
"I mean, I thought it was impossible for someone as pretty as Gotou-san to not have a boyfriend. Not to mention, she's already 28, isn't she? It's around the age where women start to get concerned about marriage."
"That's right. It's why I thought that if I gave it a little push it would all work out… I didn't know that she already had a boyfriend… Ah, lady! I'd like a beer refill!"
As I rose my hand and ordered another drink, Hashimoto let out a sigh.
"You're drinking too much. I'm only keeping you company till the last train okay?"
"I know already."
"No matter how cruddy you feel I'm not going to stay and look after you alright?"
"Of course, of course."
I brushed off Hashimoto's warning and continued to drown myself in beer. I could feel myself being temporarily released from the suffering of being heartbroken.
"Ouf… Gah… U-Ueeeghh…"
I leaned my head over the roadside gutter and barfed.
I was feeling fine when I had parted with Hashimoto and jumped on the taxi, but the peculiar smell of the taxi coupled with my intoxication quickly made my stomach wrench. I wanted to throw up.
Moments after I got off the taxi, I hurled. The meat and vegetables which I had stuffed down my stomach came through.
After a few steps, I threw up again. This time, fluid that reeked of alcohol came out.
Then, when I arrived at an alley near my house, I threw up one more time. This time, some sort of yellow fluid came out. This sucks.
It's all her fault.
I wobbly rose to my feet. After I took a few steps, I quickly felt the urge to throw up once again. However, I didn't feel like there was anything more in my stomach to expunge. So I didn't drop on my knees.
I continued to walk while resisting the urge to throw up. Soon, a lamppost at an intersection came into view. A right turn here and I'll be almost home.
I absentmindedly stared at the lamppost as I walked. Soon, I noticed that something felt out of place. It wasn't the lamppost itself, but beneath it. There was a person squatting there.
It's fairly common to see people lying on the ground outside the stations in the city area but this is the first time that I've seen someone squatting on the road outside my home.
On a closer look, it became evident that the person was female; not to mention, they appeared to be a high-school girl. Why? It's because this person was wearing a 'school uniform' consisting of a navy-blue blazer and gray checkered-skirt. With the way she was sitting on the floor with her hands around her knees, I could see her underwear. It's black.
…It doesn't seem like cosplay.
I quickly came to that judgment. In 'certain streets' in the city, I often see girls dressed as high schoolers trying to pull customers. Compared to that though, this girl seemed too 'wholesome'.
I took a glance at my watch. It's already one past midnight. What's a high school girl doing out here at this time?
"Hey, you. JK."
The high-school girl with her head buried between her knees and her chest looked up and stared at me with a vacant gaze.
"What the heck are you doing out here. Go home already."
Hearing what I said, the high-school girl blinked a few times, before saying:
"The trains have stopped for today anyway."
"So you're planning to stay here till morning?"
"Well, I guess it might be a little cold out."
"So what's your plan?"
The high-school girl groaned and tilted her head.
Now that I look closely, she has a fairly cute face. Her hair is a shade of brown close to black and her eyes have long slits. Her nose line is quite pretty as well, with a round tip. Her face was somewhere between 'beautiful' and 'cute'. She's cute, but she's not my type.
The high-school girl straightened her head and looked straight at me.
"Uncle, let me stay at your place for the night."
It was somewhat revolting to be called 'uncle' by a high-school girl in such a lighthearted manner. I raised my voice.
"In what world is there a high-school girl that follows someone they call 'uncle' home!?"
"Well it's not like I have anywhere else to go tonight."
"If you go to the station then there's karaoke or internet café rooms where you can stay, aren't there?"
"I don't have any money."
"So you want me to let you stay at my place without compensation?"
Hearing what I said, the girl went "Ahh—" before nodding her head in some sort of understanding.
"You can do that to me if you let me stay."
I was left at a loss for words.
Are high-school girls these days all like this? No, absolutely not. This girl is just strange.
"If you meant that as a joke, it's not funny."
"I'm not joking. It's fine by me."
"Then allow me to tell you that I have no interest in brats."
The girl nodded, then said with a wide smile.
"Then, just let me stay."
I was again left at a loss for words.
"Sorry for intruding~"
In the end, I let her come. If I had decided to dilly-dally on the street and someone saw me, I'd probably have found myself in hot water. I can just chase her out tomorrow morning.
"Listen. It's you that said you wanted to stay, got it?"
"Yup. That's right."
"I didn't kidnap you or anything, okay!?"
"Haha, that's hilarious. I got it."
This is no laughing matter. In this time and age, if there's trouble between a man and a woman, the man will be the one viewed in the wrong most of the time. Even if I had taken this girl under my custody under a mutual agreement, it might end up being treated as an abduction. There have been examples of this in the past.
"Your room is kind of dirty."
"How clean can a single-man's room be?"
"I've seen some before."
Hearing what the high school girl said, I hurriedly turned around to face her.
She looked rather indifferent as she tilted her head in puzzlement.
That has nothing to do with me.
No matter what kind of life this girl has been leading until now, what kind of experiences she's had, it has nothing to do with me. I'll chase her out come tomorrow morning. That's all I have to do.
I laid down on the bed with my outdoor clothes still on.
Too much has happened today. My body is already at its limit. With the added help of alcohol, I can already feel my consciousness fading.
"Ah, are you going to sleep already?"
"Yeah… Do whatever you want."
I mumbled in reply. The high-school girl sat down on the bed.
"You don't want to do it?"
"Don't make me say this too many times but… I have no interest in brats."
I could feel the drowsiness settling in. As I closed my eyes and let go of my consciousness, the high-school girl's voice struck my eardrums once again.
"Is there something you want?"
If I had to say, I want you to be quiet. Also, spare me from the fate of my wallet disappearing when I wake up.
However, I didn't manage to say that.
I'm feeling too sleepy. Neither my body nor my mouth had any desire to move.
However, in my fuddled mind, there was one thing that I strongly desired.
By the time I realized it, those words had already slipped from my mouth.
"I want to drink miso soup made by a girl."
With that, my consciousness finally faded.
 JK is slang for Joushikousei (high school girl). The tone doesn't convert well if I fully translate it so I kept it as is.
– If anyone would like to redraw the 3rd colored illustration, do contact me!