I can't date a famous Cosplayer!
Agh… that damned brat!
Kanako Kurusu, the friend of my little sister and the person that Ayase-tan and I had duped into entering a competition for a present for Ayase-tan to give to Kirino, was laughing as she looked at my expression, somehow looking down on me despite being much, much shorter than me. She hadn't changed out of the cosplay yet, and so her hair was still a bit lighter than it normally was, although it was still in her signature double side ponytails, with little beads at the ends. Her amused and condescending expression was still glaring at me in the same way as when she first met me, though it was a little out of place with the glitter, loads of pink, and the little magic wand she had in her hands.
"Hmp! Of course my voice was amazing, it is me, after all," the snot-nosed little brat said. I clenched my fists, but sighed. She was right after all. The little ball of energy and annoyance in front of me, one Kurusu Kanako was truly an amazing singer. If only she wasn't so mean…!
"I… yeah, you were great though. Seriously, you could go professional one day, easily," I said, feeling a stroke of kindness. Her cheeks turned a bit pink at this, and she smiled widely. That Meruru costume really fit her…
I was about to turn and leave to meet up with Ayase-tan when I heard a distinct weeping sound. Kanako had already gone to her room to change, and so I had no reason to stay for any longer… but the person that was crying could probably use some comfort, right?
Whoa, hold on just a second, Kyousuke. Pursue normalcy. After all that before, with Kirino, haven't you learned your lesson yet? Don't bug the girl crying; just leave and go meet up with Ayase-tan and everything will go back to normal-
I walked towards the room that I heard the crying from.
Damn you, body!
As I walked, I noticed that the place they got for the girls doing the competition, even the hallways and lounge, looked really nice. The lights were really fancy, and the rooms were all made of a nice, dark-colored wood. I stopped in front of the door that I heard the crying from, my hand beginning to go up to knock on it.
Last chance to stop…!
Ah screw it.
"Hello? Are you alright? I'm sorry for the way Kanako-san yelled at you," I said, being sure to be quiet enough to avoid being heard by Kanako, but at the same time, loud enough to be heard by the person inside. The crying stopped suddenly, and I heard some rustling around, as if someone was changing or moving clothes around. For some reason, I felt an urge to clear my throat. I stifled it.
Slowly, the door opened, barely enough for the tiniest peek for a person to look through. What I saw was blond hair and blue eyes; stunningly pretty European features. Wasn't this that other girl that was defending champion before Kanako rocked with her performance? Bridget Evans?
"I-it's alright, manager-san," she said politely. Oh right, I'm still wearing my disguise and with how I'm apologizing on Kanako's part, she likely thinks I'm Kanako's manager. Oh well.
"It's no problem. I just wanted to make sure you were fine, she can be a bit rough on the edges," I said, trying to assure both her and myself simultaneously. She tilted her head, before smiling shyly.
"Thank you for taking the effort though. My name is Bridget Evans, please treat me well," she said, after opening the door more. To my surprise, she was already in normal clothing; a white tee and shorts. I stumbled a bit over my words, her pretty features taking me off guard for a moment.
"Kyousuke Kousaka. I'm in your care," I responded formally. My phone beeped suddenly, and I took a quick look to see a message from Ayase. Likely asking where I was. She noticed this, and pointed it out immediately.
"Oh, sorry Manager-san. Do you have somewhere you need to be?" she asked me. I really wanted to say yes, "I have to go and see a crazy psychopathic girl that wants to kill me but I like at the same time!" but I couldn't. I'd go for the next best thing, I guess.
"Ah, no, nothing at all, actually," I said, a little nervously. I imagined a chibi me and a chibi Ayase in my head. The chibi Ayase randomly pulled out a chainsaw and ran after the screaming me, blood and gore followed.
My expression must've shown, because Bridget adopted a look of concern.
"Are you alright? Would you like to come in?" she asked. I gulped a bit, but tried to laugh it off.
"I'm fine, just a little nervous, I guess."
"Oh from the performance? I'm sure Kanako-san will be more available for jobs now, manager-san!" she said cheerfully. I stared for a moment. That seemed like a plausible excuse.
"O-of course! I uh, think I'll go and make sure Kanako-san is alright now, ah… sorry again about how she treated you, I owe you on her behalf," I said, trying to act like a manager. I may as well try and act my part out, right?
"Ano… I heard her say as I turned to leave. Against my better judgment, I turned and waited for her to say something. "Are you too… busy… being Kanako-san's manager…?" she asked slowly. I didn't understand why she was asking this, but I supposed I could answer truthfully.
"Not at all. It's as if I'm not even her manager at all, it doesn't cut into my personal time," I said, a little eager now, to finish to conversation. Chibi Ayase and Chibi I formed again. More guts and gore.
"Then… do you think you could… be a manager for a second person…?" she asked me, once again in a really slow voice. I had no idea where she was going with this, but nodded.
"I guess. Can't take up too much more of my time, right?" I laughed. She giggled a bit, before twisting a bit side to side, biting her lip.
"Kousaka-san-may I call you that?" she asked. I nodded. "Kousaka-san, I need to check with my parents to make sure it's alright, but could you be my… manager…?" she asked, rushing at the beginning before saying the last few bits much more hesitantly. It took a few moments for me to process what she meant, but when I understood, my jaw dropped.
"Um, me? I… I don't think… I'm not really suited to be your manager…" I said, stumbling over my words. She shook her head fiercely.
"From what I can tell, Kousaka-san, you make a great manager! B-besides, this is what I want in exchange f-for forgiving Kanako-san," she said adamantly. I stared at her before sighing to myself.
Her eyes, large and blue, were brimming with hope, her entire posture fixed forward in a pleading sign, the sheer cuteness probably strong enough to melt even the coldest hearts…
How could anyone say no to that?
"…Sure, Bridget-san… I'll try my best, although if it starts cutting into my school time, I'll have to stop," I warned her. She nodded happily at this, before holding out her hand. I noted that it was manicured at really, really small.
"Can I please see your phone, Kousaka-san?" she asked. I warily took out my phone, but handed it to her after closing the twelve new messages. Chibi Ayase was now slowly torturing Chibi me to death.
Bridget eagerly took my phone, tapping and pressing the buttons at a pace that I couldn't really hope to match. Soon, she handed me back my phone, before nearly closing the door again, so only her face was visible.
"I'll text you the next time I have a show," she said, before closing the door completely. I stood there dumbly for a while, wondering what had just happened, before leaving, going to where I was supposed to meet up with Ayase and Kanako.
When I got there, I found the two of them looking a little anxious but more pissed above all else. I gulped. Come on, Kyousuke, man up!
"K-you-suke!" Ayase said upon seeing me, growling each syllable. I backed up slowly, holding my hands up. Kanako simply stared on with an amused and somewhat smug expression on her face, before chortling a bit.
"H-h-h-hi, A-A-Ayase-tan!" I stuttered, finding my back to a wall as she rapidly came closer and closer. Is it just me, or is there a demon behind her!? And what's up with those red, glowing eyes!?
"Do you have ANY idea as to how WORRIED I was when you didn't come OUT right AWAY!?" she growled demonically. I whimpered, curling into a small and fetal ball. I saw her step closer and closer though, and flinched at the very last moment, expecting a punch or kick that would knock me into next week.
Instead what I felt was warmth. I was frozen in shock, of course, and didn't even understand what had happened. Instead, I just sat there, as small as I could make myself. I still don't really understand entirely as to what happened, I just know that for some, weird reason, on that day, Ayase-tan hugged me.
My ride back home was a blur. One second I was slowly getting to my feet, the next, I was standing in front of my house. It was already dark, as was expected considering the circumstances, and I fished out my key to open the door. When I did so, I was immediately stopped by my father.
"You've been out all day," he said sternly. It wasn't a question upfront, but more, a statement. I opened my mouth to try and think of something to say, but nothing came to mind. He stared for a while longer, before scoffing at me, nudging his chin towards the kitchen. I vaguely noted that he was already in his sleepwear, was it really that late?
"There's leftovers in the refrigerator. Try to avoid making too much noise, your sister is studying, clean up everything yourself after you are finished eating. Don't let what happened today happen again, unless you tell me you'll be out for a while past curfew." He paused for a moment, while I just stared in a bit of shock that he was being so nice for once about my being out after curfew.
"You're growing, Kyousuke. I can't be expected to be as strict on you as I've always been, and so I've decided to be a bit less over time, you are growing into an adult, after all. Besides, I've been a teenager as well, believe it or not. I know how it goes."
I nodded my thanks, before heading to the kitchen to make some food for myself. My meal was a blur as well, though I remembered washing the dishes and starting to head up the stairs. Bridget Evans had asked me to become her manager, when I had no experience at all, and even stranger, Ayase-tan had hugged me, of all possible things, when she was in her insanely angry mode. What was going on with the world?
As I opened my own door, the door next to mine that of Kirino's suddenly opened. Out came my little sister, wearing her pink and white cotton sleepwear. She took three large steps and was upon me before she grabbed the scruff of my shirt, dragging me into her room.
"Where the hell have you been!?" she hissed as soon as she forced me to sit down. I fumbled over my words.
"Ah, I was… you see I…" I tried to explain. I didn't want to give away the present after all.
"Do you have any idea how worried I was when you didn't come home? Do you?" Kirino demanded. I sighed.
"I was hanging out with a friend," I said. It wasn't too far off from the truth, though I doubted that Ayase, Bridget or Kanako considered me a friend. I thought this would appease her, but for some reason, she got even more upset at this.
"Hanging out with Neighbor-girl again? Yuck. Gross. She's so plain and dumb," she retorted. I glared at her.
"Don't talk about Manami that way," I said. She ignored me.
"Get out of my room, hentai. And go die in a hole why don't you," she said, shoving me out of her room, before closing it on me. I sighed.
"The things I do for her…" I muttered to myself.
I plopped onto my bed, trying to sleep. I was still too confused with the day to really understand, however, and so I just lay on my bed for a while before sighing.
I got out of bed to go on the my little sister's laptop that she had started to lend me more and more often so I could complete her eroge faster. Of course, I wasn't going to play any of her games at the moment. I didn't feel like it.
So should I watch some porn…?
Definitely not! Especially not on my little sister's laptop!
I sighed again, rubbing my face a bit. Opening the web browser, I stared at the screen for a moment before searching 'Bridget Evans'. To my surprise, she had her own page and blog, and there were tons of pictures of her cosplaying. She was even mentioned on the official Meruru website. The most recent article, however, posted not an hour prior, was about the competition today, and how she lost to a new face on the scene, one Kanako Kurusu, the girl that looked exactly like Meruru's main character.
I read for a bit longer before opening up another page, contemplating what to search. For a while, I was stuck on what to look at, before I decided to search up 'skills necessary to be a famous person's manager'.
My dreams were… weird.
You see, normally, I know I have outrageous dreams, just I normally don't exactly remember them. This time, however, I could very vividly and clearly remember the dream I had. I was on a date of some sort, the exact details of which I couldn't really remember. The only real detail I did remember, and so vividly, was my date.
At my side was a girl that was an absolute knock-out. She was wearing the cutest of clothes, that matched her personal appearance perfectly, her hair let down… wait, what was her hair color?
For that matter, who is this mystery girl that I'm having such a wonderful date with? I… I knew who it was but now, I… I couldn't tell…
The next morning, I awoke without much provoking, the light from my window hitting me in the face. I stretched, yawning away my sleepiness, before doing my regular morning rituals, from showering, to washing in general. Finally, I headed downstairs to make some food to eat. Of course, being that it was a Sunday, our parents were still asleep, preferring to sleep in on days such as these. My sister was no doubt still asleep also, seeing as she slept like a rock on the weekends.
"Dum dee dum~," I hummed to myself, while making an omelet. The extremely easy dish was well, easy to make, and it was one of the things that my mother had only needed to teach me twice for me to get. This teenager wouldn't be starving any time soon! Ha ha… ha ha…
After my meal, I had a bit of time to contemplate as to what to do that day. It was a Sunday after all, finals would be coming up in around a month, yet it was still a bit too early to start studying, at least, for me. I had already completed my homework the previous Friday, so there wasn't really much for me to do.
"Hey, Manami, are you free today?" I asked, as soon as she picked up. She seemed surprised that I was up, which was expected, since I normally didn't get up before noon.
"Um, yeah, I am. Would you like to come over?" she asked. I thought about it for a moment.
"Sure. I have some stuff I'd like to talk with you about, so that'd be great. What time is good?"
A few minutes later, she was opening the door, telling me to come inside. I had told my father that I was going to Manami's as soon as he had woken up, and he had simply told me to text or call if I'd be home late. It was really, really weird that he was being so understanding for once…
"Hey, Manami. Hi Oji-san. Hi Obaa-san," I said, greeting Manami's grandparents. They smiled to me and said hi to me also, before ushering the two of us upstairs.
"So what is it you wanted to talk with me about, Kyou-chan?" Manami asked, as the two of us ate some snacks she brought up. I sighed, thinking of how to explain my situation with her.
"Well yesterday I was helping a friend of Kirino's get a present for Kirino, and this isn't a friend of Kirino's that really likes me particularly, do you understand so far?"
"Of course. Is this friend of Kirino's Ayase-san by any chance?" she asked. I nodded, a little surprised.
"How do you know her?" I asked. Manami hummed.
"Oh, I met her a while ago, at your house. Anyways, go on."
"Anyways, I was helping Ayase convince her other friend to do something so she would get a prize for Kirino. While she was doing this, she was really mean to someone, and so I apologized for her, since she wasn't going to do it herself. The girl that she hurt the feelings of then asked me to be her manager, and Ayase later hugged me. So I… am really, really confused right now," I confessed. Manami nodded slowly.
"I understand then. So this girl asked you to do something for her that she thought you do but you actually don't?"
"Yeah! And I… well I already told her I would do it, but I don't know… and there's that whole thing of Ayase-tan hugging me. That confused me so much!" I said urgently. Manami sighed, putting her chin to her hand.
"This is puzzling indeed… what do you plan on doing right now?"
"Well… I guess since I already said I'd do it, I'll start reading into how to be a good manager and stuff, but the fact that Ayase-tan hugged me really just bugs me!" I sighed. She smiled.
"Mou, Kyou-chan. Don't think much of it, she was probably just worried, that's all. I'm sure she'll be back to her scary self in no time!" she said with a massive grin.
"I sure hope so. This still makes me feel uneasy, but I guess I'll try my best to not make a big deal out of it. Well, I've already done what I need to, and don't have any plans for today. Do you want to do anything?" I asked.
"Ano, shouldn't you be studying? Finals are in a month…"
"I know, Kyou-chan, but you have to do well on them otherwise you might fail!"
The two of us would argue playfully about studying for finals for a few more hours before I would decide to go home. Manami walked me to the edge of their property before waving me off, telling me to at least try and study.
When I got home, Kirino was out, probably with Ayase so Ayase could give her Kirino's gift. After having talked with Manami about my issues and troubles for a while, I felt much better now, much more relaxed. The next Meruru event would be next Friday, I could be ready by then, right?