26 Chapter 26: That Pain Stains Like Guilt

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(A/N: Wow We just reached our second milestone!!! Thanks a lot for the support!!! Here's the second bonus chapter today!!!

This time it's time for Shiina to get on the show!!!)

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Today is the eagerly awaited last day before winter vacation with the closing ceremony.

Speaking of winter vacation, it's already the best. For now, sleep, wake up, eat, play games, and indulge in various activities. Yeah, I'm a mess, but it's fulfilling.

Right now in class, we are receiving information before winter vacation from Chabashira-sensei . It seems that a part of the school will be inaccessible due to renovations. Chabashira-sensei talks as much as necessary and then silently looks around for a while.

"What's wrong, sensei?"

Ike asked, feeling numb because there was no end in sight.

"Many students may have already figured it out, but it's safe to say that your promotion to C class is almost certain. Well done."

It's quite rare for Chabashira-sensei to praise someone, so everyone in the class must have thought so.

"But don't let your guard down. If you cause any problems during winter break, your class points may be affected. Don't forget the student text even during the long break."

Well, that's how the second semester ended ... I could see Ayanokoji looking at Karuizawa and making eye contact, wondering if there was anything interesting to do during the winter break . That's right, Ayanokoji chose Karuizawa as a piece, and Horikita has formed a connection with Sudo. It's not changing at all, everyone.

"We're talking about going to Keyaki Mall, what should we do?"

Keisei came up to me and Kiyotaka as we were getting ready to go home. However, I'm thinking of going to Shiina, so I declined Keisei's invitation.

"Oh, I don't have any particular plans, so I'll go as soon as I get ready."

"Sorry, I have something to do today. Can you do it again?"

"Ah, I see. Well then, Kiyotaka, I'll be waiting for you in the hallway."

As I was about to head towards the hallway, I heard Ayanokoji being stopped by Sato. At the same time, Matsushita also came towards me.

"Hey, Horagasaki-kun, are you free for winter vacation?"

"Winter vacation... Well, I think I'll be free. What? You want to hang out with me?"

Thinking of teasing her a bit,her face turned red and she nodded , just like that. It was true....

"I'll be free after tomorrow, so I'd be happy if you could send me a random email, okay?"

"Yeah, see you later."

When Matsushita says that, she smiles, nods, and joins Shinohara and the others with a cheerful look on her face.

Since the closing ceremony was almost over, I went to the library first. When I entered, I saw Shiina who was silently reading the book.

"Shiina-san?"

When I called out to her, Shiina glanced at me and her eyes widened.

"Huh? Horagasaki-kun, what happened?"

"No, I thought I'd make today the day I promised to go to Shiina's room for a long time. Maybe it's not possible?"

It sounds like a pick-up artist's way of inviting you, but it's true, so it wouldn't be strange if you said you wanted to go to the room, right?

"I see. Before that, I'd like to go shopping. Would you mind if I come with you?"

When I say that, Shiina bursts into bloom and gives me a big smile. She's as cute as ever, and I follows Shiina to Keyaki Mall.

"Okay, let's go."

"Yes"

I was a little concerned about something, so I decided to ask her about the situation in Class C.

"Ah, that's right. By the way, Shiina, did Ryuen take any action?"

I asked Shiina, who is in the same class as Ryūen, if she had any information on him. It wasn't because of the class, but there were some things that I was curious about, so I asked her for details.

"Come to think of it, Ryuen-kun seemed to be having a lot of fun today. He stayed with Ibuki-san, Ishizaki-kun, and Yamada-kun after school...Is there something going on?"

I see, it seems like the time has finally come for Strategist However, I'm not really involved in this matter and it's a matter between Kiyotaka and Ryuen, so there's probably no point in telling anyone else what I just heard from Shiina, so let's just enjoy the moment.

I entered Keyaki Mall and as I was walking around looking at the rows of shops for a while, I saw Shiina staring at a certain place.

"What's that you're curious about?"

"Well, yes, the people in the class were talking, and I got a little interested in something called 'purikura'?"

Surprisingly, even Hiyori, who loves books, is curious about purikura... well, I guess that's how girls are.

"Shall we go then?"

"Yes!"

Upon being told, we entered the purikura booth. At the same time, Shiina held her student ID terminal to pay the points.

I could have paid for it, but Shiina said with a smiling face, "Since it's my thing to do, you don't have to worry about anything, Horagasaki-kun."

"Is it okay if I handle the controls?"

"I'd actually prefer that..."

Since I don't really understand the controls, I leave this kind of thing to the girls. After operating it for a while...

"Now, hugging your girlfriend from behind~"

Wait, hold on! Isn't this definitely the lover mode, not the friend mode?!

Next, when I looked at Shiina, she had a bewildered expression without thinking about anything.

Uh, is she the unconscious type?

However, when I asked her again, Shiina had a surprised expression.

"S-Sorry... you must hate it, right?"

If she shows me such a dejected face, I can't refuse.

"...It's okay, turn around."

"Huh?"

Following the mechanical instructions, I slowly embraced Hiyori from behind. Wow, she's so warm, and because her body is small, I fit perfectly. Moreover, she has a great scent, and she's cute.

"Um, well... it's a bit embarrassing."

With a bright red face, Shiina, in the midst of embarrassment and agitation, opened her mouth shyly. So cute.

"3, 2, 1! Yeah, you did well!"

Electronic sounds, mocking us, played as we took about five shots or so. Then, the machine instructed us to try different poses.

"Now, create a heart mark together~"

Following the example in front of us, Hiyori used her right hand, and I used my left hand to create a heart mark. We held hands while doing it. What is this? It's so embarrassing.

"Looks like a couple... ///"

Don't stare at me with that embarrassed look, it's so cute.

"Yeah, it really looks that way, doesn't it?"

"3, 2, 1! Yeah, you did well!"

Afterward, there were poses like standing back to back and normal ones, but let's leave it at that.

The problem is the final theme.

"Now, have the boyfriend give his girlfriend a kiss on the lips~"

Huh? Are you kidding me? Is this machine broken or something?

Thinking that, but it seems it's not, I felt that I had no choice but to do it since we've come this far. I asked Shiina for permission.

"Um... what should we do?"

Unexpectedly, in response to the unusual request, Shiina opened her eyes wide and looked at me. It's quite refreshing to see her so surprised, considering she doesn't usually change her expression that much.

But I'm the most confused. After all, the instructions were: "I'm going to kiss Shiina on the lips.''

I'm used to kissing Masumi and Matsushita, but when it comes to Shiina, I just can't stand it. She stares at me, her cheeks flushed and saying, 

"T-this machine is definitely broken."

She stares at me with flushed cheeks. Shiina's expression seems unusually alluring, unlike her usual self.

"It's really dangerous, right? Can't we just take a normal photo?"

"Y-yes."

Shiina looks a bit reluctant, and her expression darkens slightly. Maybe she doesn't like that it's the same pose as the fourth picture.

Then the electronic device announces, 'I'm taking it now~ 3, 2...' and the moment it reaches 1, Shiina's body moves towards me.

She turns towards me, and our lips meet all at once. Wait, is she supposed to do this with her boyfriend?

"Hmm..."

Naturally, I rolled my eyes and turned red. And the moment the two of us became far apart

"S-Shiina-san!?"

I talk to Shiina while turning bright red.

"Hehe, that was my first kiss...///"

Stop it, you're cute

"Ah, sorry about that."

"Why is Horagasaki-kun apologizing? Personally, I don't mind at all if it's Horagasaki-kun who comes to me..."

Mumbling shyly while pressing the index fingers of both hands together, Shiina seems embarrassed. I can hear you, you know.

"Really? It's okay if it's me?"

"Eh! Did you hear that?"

"Well, yeah..."

"I'm sorry, it's because I suggested taking purikura..."

"Why are you apologizing, Shiina? It's not your fault. Let's just blame it on the machine being faulty."

"Horagasaki-kun, our lips..."

Touching her own lips with a bewitching expression, Shiina. Hey, hey, you shouldn't make that kind of expression. I try to change the topic and hand the printed photo to Shiina.

"So, what should we do with this??"

5 photos The photos are collected on one printer, and from a third party's point of view, it's obvious that they're a couple.

"I don't want to show it to other people..."

"I see. Okay then, I'll give this to Shiina."

"Really?"

"Yeah, let's go shopping for now."

"...Sure."

....

We leave the arcade, and the atmosphere between us becomes a bit awkward. When our eyes meet, we both turn away. It seems the kiss from earlier is lingering in our minds.

It appears Shiina was running out of daily necessities, so she buys shampoo and body soap before leaving Keyaki Mall.

As we walk together, feeling awkward, it starts raining about 500 meters from the dormitory.

Initially, it's just a light drizzle, but it gradually intensifies. It's turning into a downpour. Rain can be quite unpleasant.

I could run to the dormitory on my own, but since Shiina is with me now, I have no intention of leaving her behind. While walking, I spot a gazebo. Taking shelter there would be the best option.

"Shiina, want to take shelter there?"

"Oh, yes. That sounds like a good idea... Sudden rain can be troublesome."

"Yeah. Who would've thought it would start raining right when we stepped outside..."

At the shopping mall, they provide umbrella rentals in case of sudden rain.

However, we are caught in the rain somewhere between the dormitory and the shopping mall, so we can't borrow an umbrella. It would be convenient to buy one at a convenience store, but it's in the opposite direction, and if we go back to the shopping mall to borrow an umbrella, we'll end up soaked.

Well, we entered the gazebo as soon as it started raining, so our clothes weren't soaked. If we act quickly, Shiina won't catch a cold... huh!

Thinking that, as I look at Shiina, I realize her clothes are see-through. Panicking as I try to avert my gaze when I noticed a light blue color beneath her white shirt, she seems to have caught my gaze. With a surprised expression, she blushes and half-glaringly looks at me.

"D-Did you see it?"

Certainly, I can't just say yes, so I do my best to divert the conversation.

"...By the way, are my eyes swollen today?"

"The way you're trying to change the subject is impossible..."

Right, that's what I thought. Shiina-tan glares at me with upturned eyes and flushed cheeks, making that expression cute too!

"Yes, I saw."

"Really, Horagasaki-kun, being a pervert... girls are sensitive to that, you know?"

"No, it's not like that..."

"Well, I'm not angry. Rather, if it's Horagasaki-kun, I guess it's okay..."

Shiina's voice is barely audible, and it sounds like a mix of happiness and dissatisfaction... What is this negative emotion?

"Thanks for that... Oh, it seems the rain has stopped."

As we talk, the rain gradually weakens, and the sun rises, reaching the point of light rain.

"Shall we go soon?"

"Yeah, what do you think? Since we're wet, should we call it a day?"

"...Horagasaki-kun, if you're okay with it, would you like to come to my room and take a shower?"

Casting a quick glance in my direction, Shiina blushes. Seriously, my heart can't take this. But we promised to go to Shiina's room, and it would be awkward to back out now.

"Alright, but are you sure?"

"Yes, it's fine."

I walked towards the dormitory and arrived at the women's dormitory elevator. It was my first time in a girls' dormitory, and Masumi and others came to my room and did their thing, but I never went to the other room. It might be the first time in my life that I've entered a girl's room...

"Here you are, please."

"...Sorry to disturb you."

When I entered Shiina's room as prompted, there was a bookshelf with a huge number of novels all over it.

"Amazing"

I was genuinely interested. It was a really interesting room because I don't think any of my classmates read this many novels, and I've only seen this many books in the library.

"The water is boiling, so you can take a shower, okay?"

It was really cold after getting wet in the rain. But Shiina is in the same situation. I feel so sorry that I'm the first to go in.

"But Shiina is cold too, isn't it? It's a season like this, so you better get in first since I can go later..."

"But Horagasaki-kun is a customer, so..."

"No, you're a girl, so you have to take care of yourself."

When I persuaded her, Shiina's face turned red and she looked up at me. Shiina is over 20 cm shorter than me, so she inevitably looks up at me, but somehow my heart is pounding.

"Then, would you like to come in with me?"

".....Huh?"

I made a stupid expression at the unexpected suggestion.It's normal for a normal person to do that.

"I-I'm sorry. I didn't know what to do..."

"Well, everyone makes mistakes. Hey, you're going to catch a cold, aren't you?"

"Then...I'll take your word for it."

Shiina blushes as she heads to the changing room and takes a shower. The sound of running water makes me think that a girl is taking a bath in the room and I can't stay calm.

As if I was paying attention to her , she quickly finished her shower, and after about 15 minutes, Shiina came out of the changing room with wet hair and a mysterious sex appeal. It was so erotic.

"Umm, now that I'm up, please come too, Horagasaki-kun."

"Ah. Thank you...."

While I was waiting, I couldn't think of anything and was in a daze, when Shiina came back, so I decided to take a quick shower as well.

About 10 minutes later

"Thank you for the shower, Shiina."

"Huh! ////, it's okay."

For some reason, Shiina turns her head away and refuses to look me in the eye. Is there something on your face? So I went near her and asked her.

"Ah....um, it's close///"

"Sorry, or rather, what's wrong? Your face is red. Did you catch a cold from the rain earlier?"

Asking, Shiina shakes her head and, looking at my face with hesitation, she speaks.

"It's really difficult for me to say, but..."

"Huh..."

I wonder what it is. If she says my hair is wet and I look bald, or my zipper is open, I'd happily accept it and end my life.

"It's just that, Horagasaki-kun, after taking a bath... you exude a lot of sex appeal/// So, if someone gets too close, it's bad for the heart... I'm sorry for saying something like this."

"No, it's okay."

Oh, that's what it is. I seriously apologize.

And, as if changing the topic, Shiina stands up.

"I'll bring some tea right now."

"You don't have to worry about it, okay?"

"Hehe, Horagasaki-kun, you're a very kind person. You naturally treat people, even someone like me who doesn't have many people to talk to, with kindness. It's just a matter of course for Horagasaki to be considerate."

When she says that, I feel extremely happy, and I can't stop grinning. Ah, I wish I had such a soothing person around.

Shiina brings tea, and it seems to be Darjeeling tea, with an elegant fragrance filling the air.

"But seriously, you've collected so many books... amazing."

"I've loved reading books since I was a child, so I ended up reading books all the time."

So she's always reading books, even in the library. Indeed, she's often in the mystery section, and looking around her room, mysteries seem to dominate. Shiina has shared her favorite books and recommended reads with me. When she talks about them, she looks so delighted, and I can't help but feel happy just listening.

"Is my story... not boring?"

"No, it's enjoyable. When Shiina talks with excitement, I find it interesting, and it also piques my interest in books."

"...Thank you. I'm glad Horagasaki-kun is my friend and listens to my stories."

It seems Shiina has a tendency to belittle herself, and she probably struggles with confidence. However, Shiina is incredibly well-featured and cute. Moreover, being a girl, I want her to have more confidence. So, I playfully poke Shiina's cheek.

"Oh, you're cute. You don't need to belittle yourself like that."

"..."

"More, like, what's the word...? Isn't it okay to have confidence in yourself?"

I spoke a bit audaciously. Being told that by me seemed unexpected for Shiina. She momentarily widened her eyes and then smiled.

"Hehe, thank you. I'll try to gradually improve."

As we have such a conversation, the content fades, and silence fills the space between us. Both Shiina and I are not the type to talk a lot, so we're not sure how to smoothly transition to a new topic.

"...Well, I guess it's about time to head home."

Uttering those words, I stand up, and unexpectedly, Shiina hugs me from behind. Uh, this is dangerous, dangerous, dangerous. She smells nice!

"W-Wait... please."

"Y-Yeah."

"I've never been treated so kindly by someone of the opposite sex before. Do you remember when we first met?"

"If I recall... it was at the library."

"Yes, you helped me when I couldn't reach a book, and later you helped me carry heavy books... you've always been kind to me. It's only natural that I've come to like you."

Uh... a confession? This feels incredibly awkward. But I can't fulfill Shiina's wish. I'm not a kind person. I'm someone who might be disillusioned.

"I, I like you, Horagasaki-kun!"

But I have only one response to give. It might be similar to what I told Ichinose, but I'm sorry, Shiina.

"...I'm sorry, I appreciate it, but I can't respond to you, Shiina."

"...As I thought, just like with Kamuro-san."

"No, I never thought I could match with someone like you, Shiina. I'm not as good as you think I am..."

"Why would you say that? You're a kind person. You've talked to me, helped me, and never made a displeased face when assisting me... You're a splendid man! You're smart, good at sports, and capable of anything, handsome! Yet, even you belittle yourself!"

Different from her usual gentle demeanor, Shiina forcefully throws words at me. I really am the worst.

"It's not like that..."

"What is... not like that?"

Anxiously, almost sadly, Shiina looks at me. I can't say something like this; if I do, it'll be irreparable.

"Sorry, I'm going home."

I head towards the entrance almost as if escaping.

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