I have a childhood friend.
We have been together ever since I can remember. He was crass and clumsy. He’s ridiculously serious. And super insensitive. –He never seemed to notice my feelings at all, even though I went to see him at home every day.

Today, as soon as I got home, I changed into a rough outfit, a T-shirt and shorts, and came to his house.
His house was empty. It was dusk and the living room was quiet, with orange light shining through the windows, creating a warm and lonely …… atmosphere.
I sat down on the sofa and took the key out of my pocket. It is the house’s duplicate key, gleaming silver. The first thing you need to do is to make sure that you have a good understanding of what you are doing and how to do it.
I am already a high school student. I don’t mind staying home alone, and I even have a smartphone. Even if something happens, I can handle most things by myself. I’m not a child anymore. It’s long past time to return this key, too. I know that.
But still—
Still, I didn’t want to return this key to …… only this key.

I hugged the key tightly to my chest and lay down on the sofa.

He has been with me since kindergarten – Fujishiro Kouki.
At first glance, he is a plain guy who doesn’t stand out at school. But I know him. Under his long, heavy bangs, he gazes at me with kind eyes. The smile that comes to his face in a flash is mature and sexy. Even though he doesn’t laugh foolishly, the sound of his laugh is refreshing and pleasant to my ears.
His voice is warm and affectionate, even when he is appalled by my selfishness. Just remembering his voice makes the back of my tail tighten.
I let out a heated sigh and closed my eyelids, still clutching the key in front of my chest.

We have been together since kindergarten. I was convinced that we would always be together.
When we became high school students, Kouki and I were separated for the first time.
I went to a high school close to my house. Kouki went to a high school outside the school district, a 20-minute train ride from here.
We live next door to each other, so we might run into each other by chance. But if we don’t run into each other……, we probably won’t see each other again.
I have his contact information. I can call him and say I miss him. I know that. But I can’t. I can’t.

Why ? —if he comes
Why do you want to see me? –What if he asks me?

* * *

It felt soft and warm and soft. It smells nostalgic.
I don’t know – it’s comforting.

“Don’t sleep on your belly. You’re defenseless.”

It sounds like he’s going to spit it out,…… but still, his gentle voice makes my heart skip a beat.
It’s Kouki.
He’s back.
The first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that I am not a good person.
I see,……, I realize immediately. This thing wrapped around my body is a blanket. I was sleeping on the sofa, and Kouki covered me with it.
Oh, you’re too …… kind already. I love it.
I feel Kouki’s presence near me. I can hear his breathing slightly. Even with my eyes closed, I knew he was staring at me. Now, I have Kouki’s time all to myself. This sensation sent a shiver down my spine. I feel an irresistible ecstasy, and my chest fills with pain.
I wanted to stay like this for just a little while longer. I wanted to savor this happiness. I kept my eyelids closed and pretended to be asleep.
How long had it been since then?
Kouki’s breathing suddenly stopped. And then I heard a pained sigh.

“Honami. How much longer do I have to put up with this?”

I heard a mumbling voice mutter, “Patience ……?” I involuntarily opened my eyes.
I saw Kouki’s face right in front of me, blinding me with a startled look.
To put it bluntly, a plain – but clean-looking face. Some people may have the impression that he looks like his calm mother, with kind eyes and a timid …… appearance. He is always blunt and bland, far from being a refreshingly beautiful boy. He is not a sparkling person, and he looks good in the shade. He is a man who is so calm and collected that it annoys me. –He is the most astonished man I’ve ever seen.

“You….You’re awake!?”

His voice, turned inside out, echoed through the living room.

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