Masumi’s kitchen was filled with the sound of music. He liked to try to match his preparation to the rhythm, and never did it feel more appropriate than when he was preparing dinner for his own guest. He’d prepared his base layer of makeup and gotten changed into what he liked to think was the homiest of his Lowlife outfits, with a simple flowery blouse and skirt complete with an apron that made him feel like a stereotypical housewife. Something about that gave him a warm, fuzzy feeling in his core.
He was just putting the last of the food into the stove when there was a firm rapping at the front door. He closed the door with a little bop of his hips, quickly washed his hands, and hurried over to the door before his guest could disappear. His hand was hovering over the handle when he turned to the nearby mirror and checked that everything was in place. He struck one pose before realizing that he hurried over for a reason and opened the door.
It took Masumi a couple of seconds to recognize Yui. Not because she actually looked any different – he could clearly see the same face he’d had lunch with earlier in the day – but because she’d donned an over-sized hoodie whose hood would have hidden her from anyone taller than he was. Not to mention that it failed to flatter her figure in the same way a potato sack might have.
“You don’t look ugly!” Masumi accused Yui, paused, then shook his head. “I mean, hello! This is my house, please come in!” He stepped aside, still staring at Yui as she stepped inside and slipped off her shoes.
“I’m glad you’ve noticed.” Yui said. “I didn’t have the time to do my homework, take off my makeup, and come over here, so I chose the next best thing. I hope you don’t mind.” She reached for the bottom of her hoodie and pulled it off in one swift motion, unveiling the t-shirt and jeans beneath.
“No, um, that’s okay.” Masumi took her hoodie and folded it up, then placed it on the table beside the coat rack. “I...might’ve been silly when I said you should show up ugly anyway. I’m just happy you’re here! I just put the stuff in the stove and it’ll be a little while until it’s done, so I’m free!”
“That’s good.” Yui patted-down her clothes as she looked around the luxurious hallway that greeted her. The walls were a pleasant deep blue, the carpet thick and and cream, with rich darkwood girding the walls. There were various dark flowers on the tables all along the hall, with paintings of various landscapes and sunsets hung above them. “Your home is amazing, Masumi. I expected it, given the houses in this area, but still.” She turned to look at him. “How many rooms does this place have?”
“I, um, I don’t know, I don’t think I ever counted...” Masumi bit his bottom lip. “I can show you around if you want! Then you can count?” He smiled at her.
“Then let’s do that.” Yui nodded. “I’m going to see your bedroom anyway, aren’t I?”
“For the stream.” Yui smiled.
“Oh, um, yes! Sorry!” Masumi decided not to blush. Unfortunately, he had little choice in the matter. “Do you want to hold my hand when I show you around?” He offered his hand palm-up.
“Okay.” Yui took Masumi’s hand in her larger one, lacing their slender fingers together. “Lead the way, Low-Life.”
Masumi beamed and led Yui along the hall, opening the first door to reveal the living room. It was just as opulent as the hall, with murals painted along the walls and low-hanging furniture on the tatami flooring. There was a large television that took up most of one wall, the sharp black contrasted on either side with vibrant potted plants.
“This is the living room! My parents spend most of their time here if they’re too tired on a Sunday.” Masumi explained. “I don’t actually use it much, ‘cause I like to study in my room, but I’ve got to take care of the plants.”
“That makes sense.” Yui nodded, as she was led through to the kitchen, then back out into the hallway.
“And that’s the downstairs ofuro.” Masumi said, as he pulled the door aside to reveal the tiled room beyond. At the center of the marbled floor was a tub filled with crystal-clear water, while off to the side stood a pair of showers and along one wall stood various towels and shower supplies, all neatly organized in glass containers.
“The downstairs ofuro?” Yui asked, her eyes wide as she took in the sight of the beautifully-lit room. “You mean you have more than one.”
“Yep! There’s an upstairs one. It’s not as big as this, and it’s kind of just for me, since I got good grades in junior high school.” Masumi smiled, his head tilted as he watched Yui’s continued amazement at his home. “You’ll see it when we go up the stairs. Do you want to go up there now?”
“I think I’d like that.” Yui nodded, then followed Masumi as he led her by the hand. The upstairs seemed to leave her just as impressed as downstairs, as she was shown the spare room, the ofuro, and they skipped his parent’s rooms as they arrived outside of his. “It’s unusual to think that this will be the first time I see your room.” She mused aloud. “I’ve seen you in it so often, but that green screen is always in the way.”
“It’s, um, nothing special. I don’t really have the eye my parents have for designing this stuff. It’s just the cool things...” Masumi said, as he slowly pulled the door open. His eyes weren’t on his room, which he’d thoroughly tidied as soon as he got home, but on Yui. Some unnoticed tension was eased out of his shoulders as a smile graced Yui’s lips and she walked inside.
“I believe I’ve found my favorite room.” Yui said, as Masumi released her hand and gave her free reign. “You’ve got your flowers on the walls, you’ve got your videogame posters, the figures by the desk...” She shuffled over to Masumi’s gaming desk, with its three monitors and an array of shelves stuffed to the brim with consoles and videogames of al sorts. “What do you need three monitors for?” She asked, as as she ran her fingers over the back of the boy’s chair.
“Well, um, I use one for the game I’m playing and one for each of the sites I’m streaming on.” Masumi explained, as he walked over to the chair and turned it around. Yui gratefully took a seat, though her legs were a little hunched thanks to how low it sat. “It lets me see what’s going on and whether one has any lag and how I’m coming out on the stream.” He pointed to the camera that sat below the middle monitor. “And it’s good if I need to look something up real quick.”
“Low-Life using cheat guides to get through games?” Yui asked. “I can already picture the scandals.”
“I’m an entertainer, not a pro gamer!” Masumi pouted at Yui, which only seemed to make her smile. “Do you, um, want to see some of my clothes? There are some I haven’t worn yet and maybe I could wear them for dinner, if you want.”
“And then I can help you out with your makeup.” Yui nodded her agreement and rolled her chair after Masumi as he approached his closet. “Oh, a full-length mirror. Somebody likes to take a good look at herself.”
Masumi happily buried his head in the closet, hiding his rosy cheeks, as he pulled out some of the boxes that contained his clothing. He emerged to see Yui watching him, leaned quite far back in her chair with one leg folded over the other.
“What?” Masumi smiled on instinct.
“Nothing at all.” Yui said. “Show me what you have.”
“Well, um, there’s this!” Masumi opened one of the more ornate boxes to reveal a red yukata with an elegant white pattern that stretched from nape to hem. “It’s comfy and stuff and I thought I’d use it for relaxing games, but I haven’t done it yet. It could be fun to wear to dinner!” He said, as he laid it out against his body.
“That would look amazing on you.” Yui agreed with a nod of her head. “I can just see you wearing it, with your pale makeup and we can even do your hair up. Perhaps with a pair of fluffy bangs...” She smiled and nodded once more. “I think that will do nicely. Are you going to put it on now?”
“Yeah! I think I will!” Masumi beamed at the praise and reached for his blouse – then suddenly stopped. “Oh, um, I should probably go somewhere else to get changed...”
Yui laughed softly. “I’ve seen everything before, Masumi. Haven’t you ever been to a sento?”
“W-Well, yeah, when I was younger, and this is different!” Masumi said. “It’s in my room and in private and I’ll be really embarrassed...” He bit his lip. “And I’ll go so red that you won’t be able to see me, because I’ll blend in with the yukata!”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Yui said with some skepticism. “But if you’re more comfortable with that, okay. Where do you keep your makeup?” She asked, as she got to her feet and took a glance inside the closet.
“Oh, um, it’s in a box near the back.” Masumi said, as he hurried into the hall and stripped out of his clothes. Putting on the yukata was much more involved, as he fiddled with it until it looked as perfect as it could without a mirror. He came back inside to find Yui browsing his makeup box. “How do I look?” He struck a pose.
Yui looked him over and nodded. “You look even more delicious than your cooking.” She said, just as there was a ding from below.
“Dinner!” Masumi was broken out of his brief reverie and hustled out of the room.