Episode 26 – Ryoko and Love Hotel ①

Source

https://kakuyomu.jp/works/16817330662545387095/episodes/16817330664213923184

December has arrived.

As the freezing season approaches, the days begin when you have to put on a jacket to go outside and turn on the heater in your room.

Today, the first Sunday of December, tutoring is closed. This was for Ari san to take a mock exam

Instead, Ryoko asked me to help her as a waiter at a restaurant where she works part-time.

The restaurant industry has already entered the Christmas season, and they are short of staff.

Since I was forced to quit the band, I spent as much time as possible studying for the entrance exam, but as expected, it was getting a bit stifling with that much work.

When I complained to Ryoko about it, she said

“Then why don’t you work at my part-time to take a breather?”

She invited me to work at her place.

So I put on the leather shoes I hadn’t worn since the entrance ceremony and the uniform I had been provided and started running around the restaurant floor, gracefully but busily.

“Bring the main course to table number two !”

“Table four clear ! Clean up !”

The kitchen and floor managers were constantly giving me instructions.

I am used to working as a waiter, having had part-time work experience at a family restaurant. However, the tables are always full, so the work is continuous.

“Kingo, welcome drink for table six. Also, table one overflowed the welcome drink, so please bring them a replacement glass.”

“Got it.”

I, as a help person, basically move around with the help of Ryoko or veteran waiters. Thanks to them, I was able to get the job done without a hitch.

“Haa〜I’m so tired〜”

11 o’clock. I stopped cleaning the floor and sighed heavily.

“Fufu, good work, Kobayakawa kun. We’re almost done, so let’s work hard.”

“Yes.”

I replied with a wry smile and began to move my mopping arm again.

“Himuro san, is the Christmas season busy every year?”

The person talking to me is veteran floor staff member Himuro Sana san. Dazzling with her short black hair and sharply contoured beauty, she is as beautiful as Ryoko. She is a fourth-year student at the same university and is good friends with Ryoko. She took care of me as a help and we hit it off quickly.

“Always. Especially when Christmas Eve falls on a weekday like this year.”

“Is it an early Christmas date? There seemed to be a lot of awkward couples.”

“Precisely ! Many couples rush to start dating before Christmas.”

Christmas in Japan is a day for lovers to have a date. There is a tendency for lovers to spend a moody evening together.

The cold weather and the illuminated lights create a mood of romance.

“But I don’t think it’s a good idea to just go out with someone just for the sake of it. I’m afraid they’ll break up soon after the new year.”

“I know what you mean. My friend was like that last year.”

“Why did they start dating?”

“Because they were lonely.”

I see. I guess the withering of the trees makes people feel lonely.

I have been feeling loneliness more and more these days.

“Are you alone this year, Kobayakawa kun?”

“Well, we broke up last month…”

To be precise, she cheated on me.

It has been a month since I was cheated on by Yua and kicked out of Lyconess.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of fun days helping Ari san study for entrance exams, but sometimes I suddenly remember my time as a Lyconess and feel uneasy.

“Oh dear, what a disaster before Christmas.”

“It’s abominable to be reminded of it. So I’m working to forget the unpleasantness.”

“Oh my……. You must have had a terrible breakup.”

It was Christmas in the city, and there were couples everywhere. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to find a new girlfriend, and the reality is that I’m working as a private tutor.

Of course, I like being a a private tutor, but I can’t help but feel a sense of emptiness in the Christmas mood.

If it were true, Yua and I would have been in a Christmas mood day after day, night after night…….

I was supposed to be spending the days leading up to Christmas with my fingers folded in an advent calendar…….

It’s all Nobuhiko’s fault. I can’t help but salivate at the thought that he is now enjoying his life in Tokyo. And I’m jealous of myself.

One of the reasons I accepted help from Ryoko was to distract myself from such emptiness.

But it is ironic because as a result, I’m providing hospitality to the couple.

“But Kobayakawa kun has Ryoko.”

“…..Excuse me?”

I stopped my hand when I heard Himuro san’s unexpected words.

Why does Ryoko come up there?

“She’s been your friend since high school, and you’ve been seeing her privately, too, right? Ryoko seems to be free now, too, so why don’t you ask her out?”

“You want us lonely people to get through the Holy Night together?”

“Maybe a new relationship will grow?”

Himuro san agitates with a wry smile that seems to exude anticipation and support.

Her face is half joking and half serious.

“No, it’s too late. We’ve been friends for a long time…….”

“Hmmm………. Are you the type of person who believes in friendship between men and women, Kobayakawa kun?”

“Of course.”

I answered immediately.

It’s definitely fun to be with Ryoko. I can talk to her and I don’t have to worry about anything, so I can talk to my heart’s content.

But the reason I can open up like that is because I have been conscious not to see Ryoko as a romantic interest.

I guess it is the same for her.

Both Ryoko and I had a lover. On the other hand, we didn’t let go of our friendship.

Even though we knew that we could lose everything if we made a mistake, we could not cut off our relationship.

That is how precious my friendship with Ryoko is. My friendship with Ryoko is immortal.

Even if Ryoko did not have a boyfriend, even if I did not have a girlfriend.

“I think you can keep the friendship you have with your male friends intact, don’t you, Himuro san? You seem to have that kind of sense of balance.”

In his case, she seems dexterous but amiable, so I saw her as the type who would rather destroy friendships without realizing it.

In other words, that was sarcasm.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have any boy friends. I’m always with girls.”

I thought I was getting back at her, but she dodged my attempt.

“I was surprised. You seem to have a good social life, so I would expect you to have friends of the opposite sex. Have you been dating since high school?”

“I went to high school at Atago, so I don’t have much experience talking to boys.”

“U-unexpected……”

So you were at an all-girls school. I thought it was a coeducational school because it seemed like she was used to guys.

No, it is a prejudice that high school girls are not immune to men.

Ari san doesn’t have that kind of personality either.

“Sara san, it’s almost time to close. Kingo, hurry up and finish mopping too.”

As I was thinking about the human condition, Ryoko came out of the pantry and urged me to hurry. Himuro san and I hurriedly finished cleaning.

Then we had a closing meeting with the manager and left for work.

“Kingo, let’s go home.”

Ryoko and I were on the same way home. We took the same train because the stations were next to each other.

“Kobayakawa kun, good luck on your next shift.”

When we parted, Himuro san called out to me. My help is scheduled to last until Christmas Day.

“I’m looking forward to working with you.”

“And please make sure you give Ryoko a good ride home. Good luck.”

Himuro san, again, I can’t tell if she’s joking or serious in her support……

I’m not like that with Ryoko.

“What is Sara san talking about?”

“W-who knows. I mean, I should protect you like a man, right?”

“Hmmm. Then you will be my knight, right, Kingo kun?”

Ryoko winked at me with a joking tone.

I can only reply vaguely with a dry chuckle.

Since her face is so well-shaped, I can’t help but notice when she shows me femininity.

Even though I just showed off to Himuro san… I decided to cherish my friendship with this girl.

But after that, we got on the train without making any stops.

The last train leaves early in rural areas. If you’re too slow, you’ll miss the train.

“Hoam….I’m so sleepy. I want to go home soon…….”

“I’ll wake you up when we get there, so you can go back to sleep.”

“But don’t you dare sleep, okay, Ryoko?”

“I’ll be fine since I’ll be awake.”

“I see. I’ll take your word for it then.”

I folded my arms and closed my eyes. As soon as the train started shaking, I felt sleepy.

In my fading consciousness, I felt a good weight and body heat on my shoulders.

Ryoko was leaning on me.

Damn Ryoko, if you fall asleep too, we’ll miss the train.

Even so, Ryoko’s body heat feels so good.

I couldn’t resist the urge to get up, and we dozed off together.

[Z station, Z station. It’s the last stop.]

Huh !?

The train announcement woke me up, and I hurriedly looked out the window.

Beyond the window, a strange night sky spreads out.

“Ryoko, wake up ! You slept through the night.”

“Mnya-mnya, is it morning already?”

“It’s still midnight. But I don’t know this station.”

“Eh !?”

Ryoko jumped up in a panic.

She looked out the window and tried to figure out what was going on.

“We’re getting off anyway.”

“We have to turn back…….”

“It’s the last train, and there’s no more trains.”

“Guh.”

Pulling a pale Ryoko along with us, we went through the ticket gate.

The night had long since fallen in this strange town, and the silence of sleep reigned.

“I wondered if there was someplace we could stay the night.”

“I don’t know. I hope there is a karaoke bar or a family restaurant that is open 24 hours a day.”

Ryoko’s shoulders drooped as she began to search on her smartphone.

But it seems to be hopeless.

The area near the terminal station is a bed town and a residential area.

There seems to be no karaoke boxes in the vicinity. The only other places were privately owned, and they had already put away their curtains.

“Did you find a place with a roof?

“Well, there were some. I found a place where we can stay until morning……”

“Oh, lucky ! Let’s go there !”

Good fortune ! The cold was starting to itch the top of my nose, so I urged her on.

But for some reason, Ryoko was hesitant.

“Ummm, the thing is, there’s a little problem…..”

“Problem? Is it too far from here?

“No, it’s a short walk.”

“Then that’s fine.”

“….It’s….um.”

“Eh, what?”

I couldn’t hear what she was saying because she was mumbling.

Ryoko repeated, her mouth curling up in embarrassment.

“It’s a love hotel.”

…………Huh?

“Love hotel?”

I thought I had misheard her and asked her again. But I wasn’t

“Yes, it’s a love hotel. We can rest against the wind, but it’s….indeed……isn’t it?”

Ryoko was unusually shy. I feel the same way.

In order to maintain a healthy relationship with Ryoko, I avoided sexual topics even though I talked to her about love.

That’s why it’s so awkward because I don’t really talk about that stuff with her.

“A-as expected, love hotel is kinda…..you know?”

“R-right ! No love hotels……right?”

The air was indescribably delicate.

I can’t believe how embarrassing it is to call it a love hotel…… No, of course it’s embarrassing with anyone.

When I couldn’t help but start fiddling with my smartphone, a whistling blast of wood spray hit me.

Ryoko sneezed coldly as the wind caressed her and rubbed her arms with both hands. It’s supposed to be the coldest night of the winter tonight.

This cold is indeed a nuisance to the body.

“There’s nothing else to do, so let’s go.”

I was ready to go, but I didn’t dare to say where.

Ryoko pondered for a moment, but then nodded her head.

“Right. I’m cold and my feet are tired, so I want to lie down. I feel safe with you.”

I’d like to ask her what was reassuring about it.

But I think that would be a wild guess.

[Safe] is an expression of friendship and trust in me.

If that was the case, I would act as usual as a friend.

I made a vow at that time.

However, I later learned that it was very difficult to keep that vow.

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