The Beginning of Everything (5)
※ This is seen from Claire François’s point of view (the first loop・・・).
I woke up to the sound of birds chirping. When I looked outside, I could see the rising sun through the window.
A soft light poured through the windows, although there were blinds there to prevent it from being too bright.
“Oh, Claire. You’re awake.”
“Good morning, Rei. What are you doing?”
Rei was naked next to me in the double bed. She was doing something on her hologram computer.
“This? Well, this is just my hobby.”
“A hobby? At first glance, it just looks like an anime, though.”
On the hologram computer’s screen, I saw something that looked like a character from a Japanese anime.
“This is a game.”
“Yes, it’s called an otome game. It’s a relic from a time when mankind still had plenty of time for entertainment.”
According to Rei, an otome game was a type of novel game that was primarily aimed towards women.
There were several male love interests, and the player would freely be able to choose the one they like and pursue them.
“I understand the gist of it, but you’re not interested in men, are you?”
“That’s right. The person I’m aiming for is the game’s villainess.”
“Look, it’s this character over here.”
Rei pointed to a girl with blonde, drill-style hair who had her arms crossed, something you would rarely see in real life.
“These types of characters aren’t all that common, but sometimes, there are rival characters in otome games. They constantly pick fights with the protagonist and turn into a stalking-horse type character in the end.”
“What a pitiful character.”
When I expressed similar feelings as Rei, she looked puzzled.
“…… That’s surprising.”
“Villainess type characters are pretty disliked. I didn’t expect that anyone would ever say they pitied them.”
“I mean, they are pitiful, aren’t they? They have nothing but poor endings waiting for them.”
When I said that, Rei’s eyes instantly lit up.
“Yes! That’s exactly right! Maan, this is the first time somebody gets it! You’re right! Villainess’ sure are cute, aren’t they?”
“W-Wait a minute…… You’re so excited about it, you almost seem like a different person right now, you know?”
Where was the cool-headed Rei that I knew?
That being said, it wasn’t like I disliked this side of Rei though.
“Excuse me, I got carried away. Anyway, I really like this villainess over here. Whenever I stumble upon a roadblock in my research, I like to pull out this otome game and play it through.”
“I see…… So what kind of roadblocks did you end up running into?”
“I got stuck on things like the design of the magical civilization. After all, it’s the first time we’re trying it out, so there weren’t any past civilizations that I could model it off of.”
“I see, I suppose that’s true.”
Magical civilizations were things that only ever appeared in fiction.
Some works of fiction had incredibly detailed world settings, but even so, there weren’t many of them that could actually be used as a reference to design a civilization in real life.
“So then I thought, ‘let’s make it similar to this game’s world setting’.”
“You should’ve given it more thought. This has to do with preserving the human race, you know?”
“But this game has a really well-developed world setting.”
Ahh, I see.
The reason why Rei went out of her way to use the word “magic” during our press conference was probably because she was influenced by this game.
What was the word they used for these types of people?
Or was it otaku in Japanese?
“Perhaps we could reach some sort of compromise and turn it into a world just like this.”
“That’s no good, Rei. The future of humanity is at stake here. We need to make things as perfect as possible.”
“Isn’t that being too idealistic?”
“Listen up, Rei. People will often tell you not to chase your ideals, but I believe in the opposite. I think it’s more sinful to run away from your ideals to chase reality.”
Rei looked astonished as I spoke.
“I’ll do my best to help you whenever you need it, so let’s work a little bit harder, alright?”
“…… I understand.”
Rei smiled wryly as she nodded.
“―― Speaking of which, there’s an interesting coincidence.”
Seeing me stunned, Rei chuckled and said,
“The villainess in this game is named Claire, just like you.”
“…… Ahh, is that so?”
To be honest, I didn’t really care all that much.
“Well, that’s enough of that. I’m going to make breakfast, so you can sleep a bit longer if you want. I’ll call you when it’s ready.”
Rei gave me a kiss on the cheek before she put on a bathrobe and got out of bed.
“By the way, Claire, how do you feel?”
“? Nothing in particular…… What’s wrong?”
I’d been incredibly busy recently and didn’t have any time to go in for a medical check-up, but I wasn’t feeling ill by any means.
The data should’ve been up to date, but did Rei notice that something was falsified on it?
“No, it’s nothing.”
Rei left me with those puzzling words as she went off into the kitchen.
After seeing her off, I buried my face into the pillow and tried to fall asleep again.
More than five years have passed since I began my relationship with Rei.
I had intended for it to be a purely physical relationship, but before I knew it, we started to live together.
Rei treated me terribly at first, but somewhere down the line, she began to treat me like her real girlfriend.
What really surprised me was how I had become so well-adjusted to physical activities with the same sex.
All of my previous relationships before Rei were heterosexual, and I never doubted my heterosexuality either.
However, the fact that my relationship with Rei had continued on for so long made me think that I was perhaps bisexual.
Well, my sexuality didn’t matter. The real problem was my relationship with Rei.
It was a relationship that began with impure motives, but I had gradually become more satisfied with it.
Rei seemed like the type of person who was devoted to their lover, and I could tell she cared about me even outside of our sex life.
Even now, she was so eager to make breakfast for me because she knew I wasn’t good at cooking.
Plus, Rei was cute and pretty, so I had no complaints about the relationship.
“This relationship is just for the sake of our research.”
The relationship with Rei was just a way to keep her in the project.
In that case, did that mean we had to go our separate ways once everything was done and over with?
If possible, I wanted to formalize my relationship with Rei.
I thought that we were actually quite compatible.
But that was just my opinion.
What if Rei was reluctant to let our relationship continue?
What if she wanted to end things as soon as possible?
What if she was just counting the days down until our project was finished?
Those thoughts scared me so much that I couldn’t bring myself to ask Rei about her feelings.
It was supposed to be a pleasant morning, but suddenly, I started to feel down.
I shifted my body a little bit and buried my face into the pillow that Rei was sleeping on.
I could smell Rei’s fragrance.
It was a very soothing scent.
“Claire, breakfast is…… Wait, what are you doing?”
Rei, who came to tell me that breakfast was ready, laughed at my silliness.
I didn’t like how she was giggling at me, so I threw a pillow at her face.
“Fufu, please don’t sulk, Claire. Come on, I prepared some of your favorite strawberries for breakfast today.”
“You can’t lure me in with strawberries!”
“Well, does that mean you don’t want any?”
“…… I do.”
The strawberries didn’t do anything wrong.
I put on my own bathrobe and got out of bed.
We sat in the dining room as we ate breakfast.
“It’s going to be busy again tomorrow, so we should just take it easy for today.”
“Is there anything you want to do, Claire? Other than cooking.”
“I-I’ll eventually get the hang of cooking!”
“Haha. Yes, I’m looking forward to it. Anyway, is there anything you want to do?”
Before I knew it, conversations like this became commonplace for us.
“What is it?”
“Are you happy?” is what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t get the words out.
“You’re acting strange, Claire. Do you have a fever?”
As she said that, Rei came over and stuck our foreheads together.
“G-Geez! My vitals are just fine!”
“Is that so? If that’s the case, then I’m glad.”
I loved the relieved smile she had on her face.
However, as things were right now, I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that I loved her yet.