Chapter 1
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I am sitting on a chair. For some reason there are a lot of people around me, pointing at me and whispering. My head hurts, and I’m very confused. I have a sudden thought: is it my birthday? No, that should not be possible, I never got along with so many people. I try to clear my head and focus on what they are saying, but I can’t seem to grasp it.

 

However, one thing is certain: they are mocking me, I’m sure of it. Even as I close my eyes, I can still see their laughing faces, and I start to recognize some of them as my old high school and college classmates.

 

I want to escape, but I’m entirely surrounded, and as if ridiculing me, they approach. I’m still not capable of understanding them, but I can hear a few words: stupid, lazy, useless, neet. I cover my ears with my hands and close my eyes in a pitiful attempt to escape reality, but deep down I know it is futile: they will reach me, and then… I shudder at the thought. After several minutes, or maybe a few seconds, I start feeling their hands on my clothes.

 

I wake up sweating to find myself on a bed. I feel safer noticing that it's my bed but still can’t shake off the feelings from the nightmare. Or was it a memory? Maybe a mix of both. The few rays of light going through the shutters indicate that it’s already morning.

 

I look to my right to find a small body sleeping peacefully — the body of a girl. The body of Rika. A few seconds of watching her cute face breathing softly, with a few strands of blonde hair covering it, is enough to calm myself and remind me how lucky I am, how my life changed thanks to this little girl three months ago.

 

I slowly get out of bed, pick some clothes and quietly leave the room in order not to wake her. Then I start my recent daily routine. I prepare my suitcase and check that it has everything I need for the day. Then I head to the kitchen and find Maya already waiting as usual.

 

I warm some milk and put it on the floor, Maya quickly gets there and starts licking. I start preparing breakfast, and once the smell is strong enough, I can hear some rustling sounds coming from my room. Soon enough the door is opened and a yawning Rika still in her pajamas greets me.

 

“Hello, Rika, did I wake you up?”

“No, I just noticed the good smell and...”

 

Just as she was explaining, her stomach makes a small growling sound and she immediately blushes. Her blushing face never ceases to tire me, making all the trouble of making breakfast worth it. My plan is a success today.

 

“I see, I see,“ I say while patting her head. She looks down trying to hide her blushing face but doesn’t refuse it, indicating that she likes it. “Well, I have prepared your favorite, here”. She thanks me but for some reason starts to look troubled.

 

“What is it Rika, is it not tasty?”

“I can’t eat while you keep patting me...”

“Oops, sorry Rika, completely forgot about it. You are just so cute I couldn’t help myself.”

 

That was dangerous, her adorable expressions tend to make me forget time. She smiles and starts eating. She used to blush when I called her cute and yell things like “I’m not cute!”, but seems she got used to it already. Well, guess she has heard it from me too many times already. Not that it will me stop me from saying it though.

 

We finish eating and she starts playing with the cat. I say goodbye and head out for my new work. It’s a long day at work, but the thought of Rika waiting for me at home helps me get through the day. I head back home and am surprised to find her still in her clothes. I usually find her already in her pajamas when I get back, so it's an unusual sight.

 

Her sloppy pajamas are always quite a sight for my eyes, but seeing her in casual clothes also has a certain allure. Once she notices me, she comes running and suddenly tries to hug me the best she can with her tiny hands. I’m not sure what’s going on, but won’t let this chance pass so I hug her back.

 

For a second I wonder when was the last time someone hugged me like this, but I quickly dismiss the thought to focus on her. I can feel her warmth and her head is buried in my chest, so I start patting her. It's a good feeling, her hair is very soft and glossy.

 

After a while, we separate and I ask her what has been bugging me since I arrived.

 

“Rika, why are you not in your pajamas?”

“I haven't bathed yet, so...”

 

Hmm, that's weird. Rika always bathes while I am at work. Maybe something happened.

 

“I see, is the water not working?”

“No, I was waiting for you to come back.”

 

I’m not sure why would she need to wait for me to come back, but I guess I can bathe later and let her use it now. “Alright, you can use the bath now, I will go later”. For some reason she doesn’t move and her face starts turning red, she seems to be mumbling something, but I can't hear her with that low voice. She then clenches her little fists and I notice some kind of determination in her blue eyes.

 

“I want… together.” She says in a soft voice.

For a second I just stand there, unable to process what I have just heard. It was a long day, and I'm definitely tired, or at least I was until she hugged me. Maybe I am just hearing things. However, she repeats herself in a louder voice.

 

“I want to bathe together with you!”

 

Ah, life is certainly worth living. That's the first thought that comes through my mind. I repeat her phrase over and over in my head, in an attempt to engrave it on my memories. A bath with Rika, is this a dream? It seems I spent quite a bit of time like that and forgot about answering her. She then continued in a dejected voice.

 

“Do you… not want to?”

“Sorry Rika, I just became distracted for a bit. Of course I want! There is nothing that would make me happier. I do wonder though, what changed your mind?”

 

I ask this because in the days we first met, I asked if she wanted to bathe together, but she answered me with an annoyed expression, “I’m not a child anymore, I can bathe alone.”

“That’s was not what I meant”. After a short while, realization struck her and she went red up to her ears and exclaimed, “P-P-Pervert!” and quickly dashed away.

Rika is always cute, but when she gets embarrassed she is like an angel. So yeah, since that happened I didn't ask her anymore. So now being offered to bathe together sounded like a miracle.

 

“That's because… today is okay.”

 

So only for today huh. Well, who knows when will my next chance be, will need to hold these precious memories. I go in first to set up the water, and after a while, she enters the bath with a towel covering her important places. Of course, her cute face is already red. There isn’t much space, so I gesture her to sit on my laps.

I wash her long and silky hair, but can’t do much more with that towel still covering her.

 

“I can't wash you properly with that towel you know.”

“S-Sorry but that's… too much for me.”

 

She’s so cute when she stutters. Well, everything she does is cute. I proceed to wash her legs, and my eyes drift to the line where the towel was covering her hips. I inadvertently let my guard down and my imagination starts to run wild. Of course, that means it begins to rise. This is bad.

 

I close my eyes and try to stop it. I'm a gentleman. No, that's not enough. I'm a monk. Yes, a monk. I need to remove my earthly desires from my mind, like money, laziness, greed, Rika’s adorable hips, Rika’s delicate collarbone, Rika’s moist lips, Rika’s petite body. Oh no, I fell into a trap, and soon enough it rises too much and touches Rika’s body. Her eyes go wide and she moves her head to look at me.

 

“Sorry Rika, as a man I can’t help it”. I quickly blurt out a miserable excuse. I know how shy is Rika, and I always strive to make her feel comfortable with me. I have failed.

 

“As a man you say… even if I have this childish body?”

“Your small body is the cutest I have ever seen Rika.”

“But I don't use any makeup, I'm not like those actresses on tv… they have them bigger too...” she says as she fidgets around.

“Don’t worry Rika, to me you are perfect! I like Rika much more than any of those actresses on tv, I love all the small parts of your soft, white and clean body.” I say something pretty embarrassing, but I must convey to her how great she really is.

 

She should have more confidence in herself, as she even managed to make me a better person and truly enjoy life.

“I..I see” she stammers as she goes even redder than before, something I thought was not possible. She quickly moves her head back so I can't see it anymore, but I managed to get a glimpse of her angelic smile before she does. Ah, I'm a lucky man.

 

After we are done we have a light dinner and watch some tv. Then we go to bed, it is quite late already. I proceed to leave the door open so that the light from the other room comes in. Rika is still a bit scared of the darkness after all. However, she stops me.

 

“Leave it closed.”

“Won’t you be afraid? Don’t worry about me, I can sleep fine even with the light.”

“Today... I’m not scared.”

“Alright,” I answer as I smile and close the door. “Good night Rika.”

“Good night.”

 

It's completely dark now, and it reminds me of my old days before Rika came to my life. I hope that one day I can forget about these feelings, or just laugh it off as my younger useless self. I sense some movement to my right and make out the outline of a face. Suddenly something completely unexpected happens. I sense something pressing on my lips. Something small, something soft. Rika’s lips.

 

Before my brain can follow what is happening, she moves away and shyly says: “Happy Birthday”. Ah, everything makes sense now. The lights, the bath, even my dream. After not celebrating my birthday since that incident, seems even I forgot about it. Or maybe my subconscious was just repressing the thought of it. Anyway, it has been years since I have heard those words directed to me, and I start crying from joy.

 

“Did I do it wrong?” says a worried Rika as she hears me cry.

“Not at all Rika, I’m just so happy. Thanks, thanks for everything.” I say as I hug her. We eventually fall asleep in each other's arms.

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