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Living under the same roof as girls is a situation any healthy male high school student would have longed for at least once.
Let’s picture it:
*Carelessly opening the bathroom’s door one day and encountering a shower scene with a nude pretty girl.
*Turning on the TV one day, they show by chance a commercial for a horror movie and giving the reason of ‘since I can’t sleep by myself’ she ask you “Could you sleep with me…?” putting on puppy eyes.
Even I had a time when I longed for that kind of doki-doki (obsolete word) situations.
But, reality is so cruel.
If you try looking under the lid, the much desired ‘lifestyle under the same roof’ is full of terrible things.
Why is it like that? The silver-haired blue-eyed beauty that suddenly came to live with me shows a curious guard where she doesn’t even show the “pa” in “pantyshot”.
And instead of becoming frightened with horror movies, it’s her existence that’s frightening!
The ghoul, Zonmi R. McKenzie.
Since I shoulder the commendable duty of a Monster tamer, I can’t do anything but being abused by the behavior of this arrogant girl.
“Welcome back. Chiharu.”
Once I finished my work as an executive committee member, when I opened my home’s front door, Zonmi greeted me with the looks of a vacuum cleaner-wielding apron-dressed newlywed wife.
“Eeerm… Is this some kind of shyness play?”
This is no place to play the straight man.
I don’t know what to say, before the entryway there are numerous familiar porno mags piled into a huge mount on the “Have they just published a new O• Piece book!?” level.
“Since I didn’t know what to do while I waited until Chiharu returned home, I decided to clean your room. While I was at it, I decided to dispose of things I deemed unneeded, don’t mind it.”
“… Why so sudden?”
When I asked, Zonmi’s eyes lost their light and became those of a dead fish.
“Yoghurt strawberry sundae.”
“Chiharu. It seems you had plenty of fun this evening. Have you neglected your partner to have a fancy dinner with the Nephilim?"
How careless. It seems that somehow or other today’s events have reached Zonmi’s ears.
How could Zonmi know about today?
Even though that question crossed my mind… As we are partners bound by the ring, we can pick up each other’s whereabouts.
“Eeerm. For that, sorry. You don’t have to worry one bit about that…”
“No problem. Since Chiharu is free to have dinner with whom he wants.”
“… Ha, ha!”
Nothing costs as much as what is given to us.
Somehow it seems that if I don’t repay Zonmi, I’ll lose the thing I value next to my life.
Pearls before swine. A waste of resources
Telling Zonmi about the porn mags?
It seems that the porn mags that have invaluable price to a guy in his puberty, to her are no more than trash.
“… Is that so? Thanks for expressly doing the cleaning. How should I put it, my room, was it filthy?”
“No. Chiharu’s room was very clean. It was a bit… artificial.”
“If you put it like that, it seems you’re trying to imply something…”
About my room being clean… That is, there is a bit of a meaning that I want to conceal the things I don’t want to be seen.
Since I think that from back when I was in elementary school, I’ve tried to lead a lifestyle based on cleanliness.
“I’m quite thankful for your selfless consideration, but don’t you think there’s something mixed in that’s not rubbish?”
“Ho, ho. If it seems like I made a mistake, pick the necessary things from here and bring them back to your room.”
“That being the case, since the book is not trash, I’ll bring them back to my ro… Ii!”
When I tried, totally composed, to pick up my bible of the ’Hundred top lewd athletes in the world’, my hand was brushed off as if it were natural.
“Chiharu, that’s rubbish, isn’t it?”
Though her face was smiling, Zonmi’s eyes weren’t.
“… Sorry, sorry. It seems I had something in my eye.”
“Is that so? That’s good, then. If you had been serious, I would have no other choice but mince up Chiharu’s body and take it out as burnable rubbish along with these magazines.”
“… Ahaha… Haha.”
“Come on hurry and pick up those filthy things. We’ll dispose of them right away.”
“Wait a minute!? Why do I have to carry them myself!?”
Saying that to Zonmi, her cheeks turned a fiery red,
“You mean you expect me to carry those filthy things!?”
She mouthed those words while looking down.
Filthy. That’s a mean thing to say…
Nonetheless, I’m a high school boy that has hit puberty.
It’s a sad thing, but I can’t deny it.
… Ku. Sorry. Porn mags…
After this, I will absolutely go to salvage you!
“Mm. What’s this…?”
Right after I lifted the mags.
*TUMBLE* Something fell from inside of one of them to the floor.
Actually, you could say that I could virtually pick it up.
Looking carefully it was — a pendant shaped like a key attached to a silver chain.
What’s that that I could virtually pick up?
I can’t recall where I got it from.
However, I think this seems like something absurdly valuable.
“Why are you slacking off? Let’s go!”
In the end, I secretly put it into my pocket so that Zonmi didn’t realize and hurriedly followed after Zonmi.
× × ×
There’s nobody who hasn’t heard of her name at Seiran Private Academy.
My high-handed childhood friend. Those who see her for the first time may not hold such impression.
The truth is, she’s a person that minds her surroundings in order to put off a cool persona not used to deal with people more than necessary.
Attractive face and figure. A woman gifted with looks and brains.
A prize beyond reach; owned by nobody.
Since she gives that impression, loved by those around her, it makes her insanely popular.
However. She’s actually different.
Her social disposition has become quite dry — because she mingles with other people while hiding that she’s a monster. The truth is she’s way more lonely than the rest — she’s nothing more than a weak girl who thirsts for other peoples' warmth.
And nobody knows her better than…
Kusumi Chiharu. Kyouko’s childhood friend since elementary school.
“Uwaaaah! Run awaay! You’ll catch the Kurose's germs!!”
Around seven years ago. Kyouko, due to her father’s job, moved here, to Saegusa.
She was still in her third year of elementary school.
Back in elementary school. Kyouko was subjected to the teasings of her male classmates on a regular basis.
Because of that, the Kyouko from childhood, different from now — due to her complex personality, she looked like an easy target for bullying.
Though she had fine basic features, due to things like her naturally curly hair or her big rimmed glasses, her appearance didn’t show even a bit of her current refinement.
“Sob, sob… *hiccup*”
“Ahh, ahh. She’s cryiiing. She’s cryiiing.”
“Th-that’s fine! She’s a freak. Let her cry!”
The word “freak” her male classmates nonchalantly called her pierced Kyouko’s heart.
(That’s right… I’m a freak… Since I’m not human. It’s natural that I have to suffer…)
At the time, on a popular Sunday morning tokusatsu hero show, fantastic beings like Kyouko were always being depicted in story as ‘foes’.
In Kyouko’s very young mind, she was vaguely aware that it was decided she couldn’t become the heroine or the main character of the story.
“How can it be fine!”
It was at that time. The first time she met ‘him’—
Kusumi Chiharu. She had known about him since before.
With outstanding reflexes, he also handled flawlessly his studies.
His looks that resembled closely those of a medium-sized dog full of charm weren’t bad too… If you had to say, it was a clear strike on Kyouko’s preferences.
Even while he didn’t lack many special traits, his popularity among the rest of the girls didn’t stem from that, but solely because of his unheard-of inside self.
“Wah, what’s this?”
What made a clean hit on the heads of the boy classmates that surrounded Kyouko was an out of season pool bag.
Strange. That’s weird.
Swimming classes in physical education have ended long ago—
When that doubt was risen inside Kyouko’s head.
“Gueeeh! It stinks!”
“What’s with this gas bomb!”
Coming from nearby, an offensive smell that made you choke.
It was without a doubt the worst stench that Kyouko had smelled up to date.
As if having wiped milk spilled on the floor with a cloth and then left it to rot — an unprecedented fetidness struck the guys.
“Hehe. My swimsuit has been inside for a month!”
“You’ve kept it there the whole summer holidays!?”
“Unbelievable… For reals. Isn’t that germ terrorism?…”
With the stench that couldn’t be withstood if used as a weapon at war, the boys were frightened by it.
“Sheet. We’ll be back!”
As they realized they were at disadvantage, leaving behind a parting threat, fled at lightning speed.
— That was quite the quick curtain close.
Since the lad that had appeared so suddenly, in a single blow, had chased away boys once or twice as big as him.
“Hey, are you crying?”
She needed several seconds to realize that the hand that boy held out was turned toward her.
(I see… This person, he has come to help me…)
It seems this is the first time since birth someone outside her family has helped her.
“You… What’s your name?”
“Kurose. Kurose Kyouko… From class 3-2… And you?”
She knew his name from the start.
Nevertheless, by all means she wanted to hear it from his own mouth.
“I’m Chiharu. Kusumi Chiharu, From class 3.”
The smile on the lad’s face that showed his white teeth was extraordinarily dazzling.
What’s it. This feeling.
My heart is throbbing, I can’t look at him straight.
Could it be love…? No. That’s surely…
After all, this person—
(I don’t know if he’s cool or uncool…)
Actually, I want to hold that hand right now and get back up.
However, the smell of rotten cheese that came from the lad’s hand greatly weakened Kyouko’s resolve.
(Sob. That this meeting becomes my first love… Don’t wanna…)
She can’t recover from the mental shock.
Kyouko’s complicated and mysterious maiden heart forced into disarray,
“… Moron. Moron, moron, moron!”
She brushed away Chiharu’s outstretched hand and started to hit him in the chest.
“Uwah!? What are you doing!?”
“Y-you. When you’re going to help a girl, at least make it be a bit cooler! Why have you done such a half-baked thing!?”
“Don’t mind it! From now on, take your pool bag home every day and wash it! I-I beg you, have a bit more of cleanliness… Since it is possible you are my first love."
Despite having run her mouth with impetus, in the end, she regrets her violent behavior.
(Uwaaa… What am I doing… To the person who has helped me, I’m being this rude…)
With her cheeks as red as apples from shyness, she stole a glance of Chiharu’s form.
Not even in his wildest dreams had he thought that a girl who he’s just saved would give him a sermon.
Chiharu made a blank face in puzzlement.
“… Well, sorry. I… Man, I messed up…”
As she apologized with teary eyes, Chiharu started to laugh as if he had remembered something.
“Haha. The heck, girl, look at your face."
“How funny. Kyouko, you said? If you don’t mind, let’s be friends.”
“… Yeah!? A-a-ah. Errm… Yes. Nice to meet you.”
This was the meeting of Chiharu and Kyouko.
Afterwards this day, Kyouko’s very life will take a dramatic turn — but that’s another story.
× × ×
“Surprisingly, I miss a bit those times…”
It was when she started to clean her room.
Kyouko, being what’s usually called a clean-freak, as soon as she found some free time, she had the habit of ending up doing everything she could to clean her not disordered in the least bedroom.
— Today she’s cleaning the shelves.
Full of determination, Kyouko started to diligently sweep the accumulated dust in detail, but, somehow — she found it.
Minatsu elementary, the graduation album.
That book, as if mimicking her own memories, had been put away at the back of the shelf.
Because, the better she could, she wanted to leave it in a place where it were not seen.
Were she to read it once more, the feelings hidden on the bottom of her heart would end up reawakening, and then — that was what Kyouko feared the most.
Since she’s a monster — it’s not allowed to have a human boyfriend.
The end of Kyouko’s first love came at the same time she graduated from elementary school.
Even for an instant, let’s assume that, luckily, the feelings were mutual… However, it’s decided that that love won’t come true. There can’t be a Happy End.
Once my repulsive true form gets revealed — will he still keep being like himself after all?
… Impossible. If he’s a hero, I’m a freak.
Us both are incompatible existences like water and oil.
Then, Kyouko came to avoid Chiharu.
The fleeting days of her first love, against her will, were locked deep inside her heart.
“Ahaha. Uwaa… The me back then was this clumsy…”
The first time she saw her ungraceful true form, Kyouko made a self-torturing smile.
Each photo brings her precious memories. The hand that turns the pages doesn’t stop.
Suddenly. Kyouko’s eyes got glued to a certain page.
It was the future dream corner at the very end of the graduation album.
‘Pro baseball player’, ‘florist’, ‘attorney’, ‘school teacher’, ‘bride’, ‘manga writer’, ‘game creator’
Surely the kind of jobs children dream with packed together like in a dance and written in poor writing.
From among them, one is remarkably conspicuous.
‘Stag beetle. Kusumi Chiharu’
Of course, it’s his dream.
I still don’t understand what this guy is thinking of.
Really, how could he write such a foolish dream? My head hurts.
Don't you understand? My dream hasn't changed since then, I still want to be a stag beetle! That's why, don't worry, your wings are honestly cool. They are not creepy at all.
Suddenly, it made me ponder his words.
… Perhaps he doesn’t know. How much he saved me by the innocence that radiated from that sentence. It may seem like nonsense, but at that time I felt like I was treated as a human for the first time.
Not only did he accept the things called monsters, he kept acting like himself.
And that made me unbearably happy.
What’s it. This feeling.
Warmth fills me from deep inside my body, I can’t stop the throbbing on my chest.
That that I had sealed in the depths of my heart five years ago, has now once again come back.
(I see… It’s not a problem that I love him…)
How could I not realize such an easy thing?
After all — the highest barrier that worried me has been cleared.
Besides learning that I’m a monster, he’s accepted me.
It made me happy not having to endure it.
I can’t stop the throbbing on my chest. As if leaving a well, my restrained feelings are gushing out.
(How?… How come I’m still in love with him?…)
Heat as if my body is burning. I want to hear his voice, I feel as if my whole body is throbbing.
Without repressing her excitement, Kyouko started to roll over the futon.
“Haru… Haru… I love you…”
To cool her burning body, she hugged tightly her pillow.
She doesn’t know herself what she’s doing, nor she wants to know.
“Kyouko… Are you there?”
Her train of thoughts completely froze. For an instant, she was under the impression that the world had come to a halt, but that was not what had really happened. If time had stopped like that, who could have saved her?
Suddenly noticing her father’s figure, Kyouko regained her senses.
Realizing her own foolishness, *fiuuu*, she inspired a big chunk of air and,
“Wha-wha-wha-wha. At least knock, you stupid old maaan!!
“No, how do I say it… Errrm, sorry… Are you busy?…”
“Do I seem busy to you!?”
“Sorry… Were you having fun?”
“That’s too grossss!”
“I-I’m truly sorry! So, please! Please don’t throw the bed at me!”
Possessing the power of a monster, Kyouko’s physical strength was surely not laughing matter.
× × ×
Kyouko’s father, Kurose Mikage, only came back home about once a week.
“Errrm, this… What have you just said…?”
“Yeah. Since it’s very important, I’ll say it as much as necessary. Congrats, Kyouko. Your new partner has been found. Furthermore, he’s an exceptional person the Association has high hopes for. These are good news as no other. Go make the contract asap.”
Letting out her emotions, Kyouko hit the table with a bang and,
“First thing… Currently, I’m officially on negotiations to make a contract with Haru. How is it possible someone else has appeared!?”
“Yeah. About the thing with Chiharu-kun, papa has gone to talk it over directly with the IMA and had it cancelled.”
“What’s the matter? Kyouko. You have the talent. Even at such a young age, your battle capability is top-class among our clan. We can’t allow your talent to go to waste like this.”
“That… Doing as you please is troubling… Since I was to become Haru’s partner… We had made a promise to become partners later…”
“… By later, how much are we talking of?”
Mikage’s tone of voice became harsh.
“Don’t you know, Kyouko? The time needed by a rookie tamer like Chiharu to get his second monster…”
Not saying anything else, Kyouko bit her lip.
Three years. For someone acknowledged as a low-level monster tamer, that was the average time until they receive a second ring and are promoted to mid-rank.
To Kyouko, a span of three years is outrageously long.
Since, perhaps by luck, Chiharu managed to corner a top-level tamer, he may be promoted because of that.
“About that, once three years have passed, what assures you that you will be chosen?”
“… Didn’t’ you said it yourself? To Chiharu-kun, as a tamer, the sensible choice would be that red dragon. From a tamer’s point of view, between a Nephilim and a Red Dragon… Which one is preferred, don’t you understand that?"
If you go by combat strength, Nephilim surely aren’t weak. On the contrary, they are monsters of the highest of ranks.
That and all, it can’t be helped to be overshadowed by red dragons.
The tribe of dragons is very coveted among monster tamers. Contracts with them are restricted to only a fraction of the tamers.
“Then, being such a talented tamer, in three years, it won’t be weird that a powerful monster, no least than a red dragon, becomes Chiharu-kun’s partner… If it’s like that, you’ll possibly be relegated to third place.”
‘won’t be’, she couldn’t say it.
To monster tamers, they like to get powerful monsters, that’s only natural.
Then. Supposing that, let’s say, that he could choose more powerful monsters, won’t he rather get them earlier?
(I don’t want to be a burden to Haru…)
With blurry sight and fuzzy thoughts, she wobbled as if she couldn’t find the floor.
“Of course daddy would like that you served besides Chiharu-kun.
To a monster, there’s no highest honor than to make a contract with a monster tamer. Since having the backing of the Association makes a huge difference.”
“Nevertheless, let’s get real. From the instant you weren’t chosen as first, your chances of becoming Chiharu-kun’s partner went south.”
“You know? Please make a decision before a week. You absolutely can’t face the other part in such a half-baked situation.”
Without saying no more, Mikage got up. *Blam* At the same time the sound of the door closing was heard, Kyouko bent her knees, crestfallen.
“… I look stupid.”
It seems she can’t think of any alternatives.
The thing with the pact it’s no one’s fault but hers… She looks stupid.
Suddenly, Chiharu’s reflection crossed her mind.
… At a time like this, what would he think of?
If it’s him, he would probably face the adversity without care… He wouldn’t get defeated by something of this extent. It wouldn’t crush him.
Something. Isn’t there a way?
To take this hopeless situation to an end…
That instant. A diabolic and heatless idea surfaced in Kyouko’s head.
It could work…
Though, of course, it was not something Kyouko found commendable, she has no choice.
There’re chances of success.
It goes without saying that Chiharu’s current contracted monster comes from the ghoul clan.
The ghoul clan, contrary to red dragons, is hardly popular among tamers.
Besides, when Chiharu chose the ghoul as a partner, it was purely by chance, he didn’t have the intention to make the contract.
If I could make him notice that my charms as a monster and as a woman are better than those of the ghoul girl, maybe…
Let’s do it.
Even if I have to resort to this, I’m going to make Chiharu mine.
Kyouko raised her eyes and announced her determination, talking to no one.
“Be it love or contracts, I won’t lose!”
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