“Aah, that was really scary! I think the hotel story was the scariest–what about you?”
“You think? I thought the one about the village was a lot scarier.”
Yokozawa and Hiyori were currently exchanging opinions on the scary summer story television special they’d just finished watching. It was a short, omnibus drama that had had Hiyori screeching in fright and hiding behind Yokozawa or clutching Sorata close at times, but she’d hung on to the very end.
“Oh–so that scary story special you two were watching is over now?” Kirishima remarked, wandering into the living room fresh from the bath and mopping his hair dry with a towel.
“You should’ve watched with us, Dad! It was scary–but really good!”
The division of labor on days when Yokozawa spent the night tended to involve him and Hiyori preparing dinner while Kirishima handled the clean-up. While Kirishima took care of things in the kitchen, Yokozawa would look over Hiyori’s school work or occasionally settle in to watch a television program with her. Hiyori usually took her bath first, but the order had switched this evening since they’d been caught up watching the scary story special.
“Did you actually manage to even look at the screen? You probably watched huddled behind Yokozawa, didn’t you?”
“I only hid for a little bit!” she responded hotly, embarrassed to have her actions so easily pointed out. While she claimed it had only been ‘for a little bit’, though, she’d spent a good half of the program using Yokozawa as a shield, being sure to confirm …Is it still a scary part?, but Yokozawa chose to keep quiet about this out of respect for her honor.
“Yeah yeah–well hurry and hop in the bath. Summer break’s ending soon, so no more late nights burning the midnight oil.”
“Eh? A bath…?” The panicked expression that washed over her face was because the hotel story in the program they’d just watched had involved a scene in the bathroom–with figures popping up in the mirror and water from the showerhead changing colors. These were pretty standard spooky phenomena–but it seemed she’d been unsettled nonetheless.
“What? Scared to take a bath alone, now?”
“I–I’m not scared!” She was clearly uneasy at having him once again hit the nail on the head, though.
“Well that’s what you get for watching some spooky story show. If you’re so scared–want your old man to sleep with you tonight? Or do you think you can make it to the bathroom on your own if you wake up in the middle of the night?”
Hiyori put up a strong front in the face of her leering father. “I’m gonna have Sora-chan sleep with me, so I don’t need you! I’m taking my bath now!”
“Be sure to call for us immediately if you see any ghosts popping up!”
“We don’t have any ghosts here!” And with her cheeks puffed out in irritation at her father’s attempts to scare her, she left the living room.
“That kid’s so cute, I swear…”
“Go too far and she’s gonna hate you.” Yokozawa agreed that she was indeed adorable, but he couldn’t condone such merciless teasing.
“Nah, it’s fine; I know when to pull back. So–what kind of stories did they talk about?”
“There was one scene with some strange happenings in an old hotel, and then when the victims went back later, they learned that the hotel had been torn down long ago…and then another with a strange disease that overtook a village deep in the mountains, and a curse that spread through the internet.”
“Ugh, so cliched.”
“Those kinds of stories wouldn’t be nearly as scary if they weren’t at least a little cliched. The stories themselves were pretty run-of-the-mill, but the production values were pretty impressive.” They probably would’ve been even more impactful on a big screen, like in a movie theater. The actors had been on top of their game, and even Yokozawa had been a bit spooked by one scene where a group chased down one of the main characters.
“Damn–if I’d known it was gonna be that good I would’ve liked to have seen it myself.”
“It was pretty scary, though.”
“Did Hiyo actually manage to watch it, then?”
“That’s as good as answering, you realize? Boo–and here I thought I might have an excuse to sleep with her for the first time in a while.”
“She’s hardly that young anymore,” he snorted, amused at Kirishima’s dejected sigh. Hiyori was already in fifth grade; scared though she might have been, she was too old now to sleep with her father.
“She’s finally getting to that age where a daughter starts to drift apart from her father…”
“Guess her father’ll have to put some space between himself and his kid, too, then.” Given that he was always the one bearing the brunt of Kirishima’s teasing, Yokozawa was only too happy to take the opportunity for some payback while Kirishima was depressed by thoughts of his daughter. Poking a little fun wouldn’t hurt, at least.
Before Yokozawa could get another comment in, though, Kirishima came back with an unexpected, “All right, guess there’s nothing to be done for it–I’ll sleep with you instead.”
“How the hell did you come to that conclusion?!”
“Well–you said yourself that it was scary. I’ll help you to the toilet, too, if you need it.”
“I think I’ll be just fine. The ‘scary’ comment was from an objective perspective, not a suggestion that I was spooked.”
“…Oh. What the hell did you go and get my hopes up for, then?”
“I wasn’t.” He really wished Kirishima would stop parsing his comments however he pleased.
“Damn…I really should have watched too, then…” he reflected, ignoring Yokozawa’s protests.
“Huh? Why?” It was strange how he regretful he seemed.
“Because then I could’ve claimed to be scared and gotten you to sleep with me.”
“…You are definitely too old for that.” He wanted to believe it was merely a joke, but this was Kirishima; there was always the chance he was actually serious, and humoring him only made you look all the more foolish.
“You sure you don’t need me to sleep with you?”
“If you find yourself longing for a bed partner, go and find Sorata.”
“You may say that now…but I’d better not catch you pitching a jealous fit over it later.”
“As if,” he snapped, but when he met Kirishima’s gaze, the man was grinning widely. He’d wound up once again playing right into Kirishima’s hand, and while he silently promised himself One of these days…just you wait, such a day seemed very far away indeed.