Ch 25 -- You've Grown, Haven't You?
~ What has gone before ~
・ The conditions for levelling up have been learned. O****ms from direct contact or indirectly (moisture required)
・ Erim is an adolescent boy when all's said and done.
* * * * *
"Erim ... you, no way ..." Erim turned his face from me and I felt suddenly alone. Had I lost the first friend I had made in this world, my only friend? I desperately wanted to take back my words, but how?
"Please forgive Richy-chan, Erim." Sumirena-san said gently. "She understands that teenage boys fantasise about girls' breasts and imagine what their lower bodies look like and at night they have to, well..." She shrugged. "You know that feeling too, don't you Richy-chan?"
...Yes I do.
"So anyway that's the truth of how Succubi level up. In the case of humans their level is an indicator of strength but for a Succubus their level represents their total amount of magic power. However it's also a record of their experiences in battle, so to speak, how many times they have been able to induce lustful emissions in males." Sumirena-san finished.
She expected this might happen, I realised, she had worked out that Erim had been the one who gave me my 'experience point' to allow me to level up, that he had... I wanted to reach out to Erim but I couldn't find the words to make it better. Minoko just kept drinking alcohol unconcernedly, no help there.
I had to do something. If I made a mistake here, if I said the wrong thing, as Sumirena-san had warned me I might, then my friendship with Erim would be at an end, forever. I had to avoid that happening at all costs. I coughed then spoke.
"Erim, is it really a big deal? It's normal for boys and men to do that sort of thing. It's like a physiological phenomenon, yeah that's it. I know, I have done it lots of times myself," I felt my face turning red at this confession but I carried on, "Yes, really I have."
Erim turned to look at me, a puzzled look on his face. "Ehhh, Richy-san has done it too?"
"Yes, that's what I'm telling you, but it all happened before I was reborn in this world." I couldn't do it now of course, I wasn't a boy any more, it was all different down there now and girls didn't have the, umm, bits to do it. Did they? I hadn't really looked closely, was there anything there to...
"Can you ever forgive me?" Erim blurted out.
"There's nothing for me to forgive you for, Erim. I think that you were free to do whatever you wanted in the privacy of your own bedroom without asking me for permission."
"... Even though... I made Richy-san sad..." Erim continued hesitantly.
"No, I wasn't sad at all." I told him.
"Really, I was just disgusted and uncomfortable knowing-" I stopped suddenly but it was too late as tears sprang from Erim's eyes and he started blubbering.
Oops. My plan to make Erim feel better had just taken a critical hit thanks to my runaway mouth. Should I try again or would that just make things worse? I cast a "help me" look at Sumirena-san who picked up immediately.
"Erim, there's no need to feel embarrassed. If you are a healthy boy, when a pretty girl is staying under the same roof it would be strange if knowing that girl was sleeping in a nearby room didn't excite you." Sumirena-san said consolingly. Thank you, elder sister! "It's natural that you manually stimulated yourself to relieve the tension induced by such proximity, letting your carnal desires ooze forth from your body in liquid form."
"Uhhh, guu..." Erim wiped his eyes, his sobs trailing off. Her words seemed to be working but it wasn't quite what I might have said myself.
"Richy-chan's magical powers of enchantment mean that if you ever lay your hands on her breasts even once then you are condemned to be her slave forever. Self-abuse is the only safe way for you to avoid succumbing to her sensuous eroticism and I can only applaud your firmness in being determined to keep a grip on yourself and remain an upright member of this household instead."
Actually, did what Sumirena-san just say have some kind of double meaning? I tried to puzzle it out. Did she suggest my breasts had magical powers, was I really sensuous, what? Erim's crying had redoubled. It looked like his sister's attempts to console him were just making matters worse.
"It would have been so easy for you to creep into Richy-chan's bedroom last night and do unmentionable things to her helpless body as she lay asleep." What? Sumirena-san turned to me. "Richy-chan, I recommend you lock your bedroom door at night from now on. You might also wedge a chair against the door handle and maybe bar the window shutters too just in case." She turned back to Erim as I tried to process her advice. Surely Erim wouldn't try to... would he?
"However, as an older sister I feel proud of my brother's growth. Erim, you have gotten bigger." She smiled whimsically. "It was so short in the old days, but now..." she held out her index finger and thumb, about 5 cm apart. What growth was she referring to? Erim wasn't tall by any means but, 5cm? What did that measurement refer to? His hair? By now Erim looked like he was ready to collapse but Sumirena-san wasn't finished speaking.
"A man's instinct is a man's instinct, Erim and you are a man, truly. It's nothing to be ashamed of so stand proud and don't falter even if Richy-chan says she despises you and says you're foul! Disgusting! She never wants to see your face again! Erim is a mindless bastard ruled by his gonads! and other things like that."
"Guwaaah!" Erim sank into a chair and started beating his face into the table top, thunk thunk thunk. It takes an elder sister's words to really crush a younger brother's spirit...
"Richy-chan, I'm sorry. It seems like I said the wrong thing somehow." Sumirena-san said with a winsome expression on her face as Erim's tears flooded across the table.
"It seemed you achieved your aim perfectly, as far as I can tell." I said, watching Erim sob his heart out. I wanted to console him, hold him close to my chest but knew that the way I was now that would be a BAD idea. He might suffocate, or worse, he might enjoy it.
"... hated. ... completely hated." Erim started bawling again. I felt a pang of sympathy for Erim, I had been there behind my bedroom door crying in anger and shame, despising myself. I shook my head at the memory of the day I had become a hikikomori.
"I wouldn't say I loathe you, Erim." I said gently.
"... angry ... not?" he blinked at me, his eyes red and puffy.
"I'm not angry. I understand that men have desires like you did. It's natural."
"... Well ... are we still friends?"
"Of course we are. It was just like we were sharing some dirty stories. It got a bit out of hand, that's all."
"Uh, u u, if you say so ..." he hiccupped.
In fact, for me, a former boy, talking coarsely about girls was a regular topic of conversation with Takuto. For example he had a pet phrase, "I want to do her. I want to do her." after he whistled at a nice girl on the street. "I like big tits." was another of his common sayings, and "I prefer blondes" and "she's stupid but cute" and... I stopped there, suddenly realising that I was now well within what Takuto called his "strike zone", well apart from the "stupid but cute" part. Sumirena-san kept on calling me "cute" but I wasn't stupid, of course. Takuto would agree with that, I'm sure if we were ever to meet up again. He was an open-hearted sort of a guy and it was easy for us to talk to each other, especially about girls although mostly I just listened to his stories of amorous conquests and triumphs since I never spoke with girls myself.
"Don't overthink things, Erim. If you want to relieve your tensions, next time come and ask me and we'll entertain each other." It would be good for me to talk to another guy about girls like that, man to man.
"Can I really do that with Richy-san?" Erim said, his eyes wide.
"My friend Takuto said once, 'You know, erotic things deepen our friendship to a surprising degree.' I sure enjoyed doing those sorts of things with him back then and I think I'd like to do the same with you to in order to deepen our friendship, Erim." I suddenly thought of something. ""Oh, but-"
Erim looked confused. "Well, but what?!"
"Can I just add one other thing?"
"W- What is it?" He looked worried again and I hurried to reassure him.
"Oh, I'm not going to criticise your way of doing such things, I'm sure you've had a lot of practice." Erim must have spoken about girls with his own friends a lot, the same as Takuto and me.
"Hah ... hah ..." Why was Erim's face getting red again?
"I only want to be your friend and provide you with more erotic entertainment..." Chatting about girls with Takuto had been a lot of fun, I remembered. "But if it causes you pain then we can stop already."
"Uh ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah !!" Erim stood up and hit the swing door at the front of the tavern hard as he rushed out.
I stood there, stunned as Sumirena-san said, "Oh dear oh dear" while Minoko shook her nose and uttered a loud "Mofuu".
"You smashed him flat, Richy-chan. That was merciless." Sumirena-san said.
"Eh, how is it my fault?" I didn't understand what had happened.
"It's not that I'm standing up for Erim but his girlfriend telling him to his face she'll provide him with 'erotic entertainment', is it really a surprise that he reacted so badly? How do you think you would have reacted if your own girlfriend said that to you?"
My mind was in a whirl, I tried to remember what I had said to Erim, how had he taken it the wrong way? I had been trying to patch up our friendship... ah, but Sumirena-san thought I had had a girlfriend back in my own world? "Actually, I never had a girl friend." I explained.
"Oh. That explains a lot." Sumirena-san muttered under her breath.
"Something's been worrying me though..."
"What is it?"
"Does Erim actually know that I am a man, that is I was a man in my previous life?" I thought back to all our chats and discussions, had it ever been clear he knew this important fact about me?
"You didn't tell him yourself?" Sumirena-san raised an eyebrow.
"Well, why would I need to?! I told you, Sumirena-san in the bathroom last night so I thought you must have told Erim about me being a man!" I blurted.
Sumirena-san shook her head. No? "I wouldn't tell him something like that, Richy-chan. It's something he needs to hear from your own lips." Sumirena-san explained.
"But I died for a stupid reason and I was reincarnated as a Succubus and I was confused..." I said, trying to think over what had happened between Erim and me since we met the day before. When would have been a good time, the right time to tell him I had been a man before I was sent this world? When...
"You died for a stupid reason? I'm intrigued but I won't force you to tell me the details..." Sumirena-san said as I realised I had made a big mistake not telling Erim straight away that I was a man inside this female Succubus body. Erim must have accumulated some strange ideas about me, I decided. Very strange ideas.
"What's past is past." I said. "It doesn't worry me and I'll tell you later, but what's more important right now is that I tell Erim I'm really a man when he returns."
"No, it would be better if you don't do that." Sumirena-san said with a thoughtful look on her face.
"Why not?" I had to tell Erim, didn't I? Our friendship depended on us being honest with each other, surely.
"Well if you did tell him then, ha ha-" Sumirena-san looked away and coughed.
"What's so funny?" I couldn't see anything to laugh about.
"Ah, I was just imagining what Erim's reaction would be when you told him." she said, her features back in control. "It would hit him so hard."
"How would learning I'm really a man, well a man inside, hurt him?"
"Richy-chan's soul is a boy's, right?" Sumirena-san asked.
"Absolutely. My heart and mind is totally male." I declared, trying hard not to recall the events of the previous night's bathtime and how this Succubus' body had reacted to Sumirena-san's caresses.
"Well then, Mister Totally Male, think about it." Sumirena-san went on. "You know that Erim enthusiastically masturbated last night with you in mind while thinking you are only a cute girl. Now you intend to tell him that he was actually pleasuring himself thinking of someone who was truly a man despite their external appearance, that you had been male for all your life before your reincarnation in the world." She shook her head. "I don't think that boy's mind could take such a revelation. He's still a child in many ways and the shock could destroy him for life. He might even kill himself."
"Would- would he really go that far..." Surely Erim wasn't that weak? But what would I have thought, what would I have done in his situation, if... No, the despair.... my mind was in a whirl as I tried to understand what Erim might do if I told him the real truth about my previous life.
"I would like to ask something of you, Richy-chan." Sumirena-san said in a serious voice.
"What is it please?"
"Let's just agree for Erim's sake that that you were a girl in your previous life Richy-chan, at least for the time being. Please let me decide when it is right to tell Erim the truth."
"You would judge when it would be OK to tell Erim the truth about me?"
"Yes, I want you to leave the timing to me. I won't make things worse." Sumirena-san declared. She was Erim's elder sister, she knew his mind best, I decided so I readily agreed to her suggestion. For Erim's sake I would pretend I had been a girl in my past life.
"... I understand. I don't want Erim to be hurt any more." I said.
"Richy-chan is really cute." Sumirena-san said, inconsequentially.
"Why did you say that just now?" I asked, puzzled. Just because I had agreed to this little white lie so that Erim wouldn't be hurt, why did that make me cute? Deceiving a boy wasn't a cute thing to do, was it?
"Hmm, I wonder..." Suimrena-san said enigmatically. Why did you look like you were enjoying my discomfort even though you were talking about such a serious subject? "Well, I think it's okay for you to talk about things with Erim when he returns, as long as you remember that to him you have always been a girl."
"I have faith in Erim." I declared. "We will be friends no matter what."
"Friends? You want to be friends with Erim..." Sumirena-san looked me up and down and shook her head again. "It's going to be difficult for you to stay just friends."
I hoped so, I was determined that we would go beyond simple friendship and that soon we would become best friends. That was in the future though, and would Erim be able to be best friends with a girl, the way Takuto and I had been best friends in our previous life? Might Erim's belief that I was really a girl preclude us from a relationship more intimate than being friends? I didn't know if it was possible and it worried me a little, how would that work? The morning's events had left me drained emotionally and I sighed.
"It's all been a bit of a disaster today, hasn't it?" I summed up but Sumirena-san put her hand on my cheek and patted it lightly.
"What is it?" I asked puzzled as she smiled.
"It wasn't all bad." she said with THAT look on her face again. "You should know, Richy-chan, if the targets for you getting experience points weren't limited to men, your Status wouldn't be (0/2) but (1/2) right now."
"Ummm, what do you--?" I started to ask her what she meant by that but stopped abruptly, deciding that I really didn't want to think it through as I felt I wouldn't appreciate knowing the answer.