Age is Just a Number – 13

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A Gathering.

“Let’s go!”

A woman that could be mistaken for a beauty model stomped her feet childishly while wearing a black party dress. 

“Yes, yes. I am coming.”

Ichirou calmly responded to Miyuki with an expression that clearly betrayed his reluctance. 

“My friends are already at the restaurant. I’ve been getting messages non-stop! Come on!”

“Okay, okay.”

Ichirou was dressed in a black t-shirt, white jacket, and black jeans. Miyuki had done his hair and approved his appearance. ‘I could just eat you~!’, she commented.

Ichirou wore his shoes and closed the door behind him as Miyuki led him to the elevator meant for her personal use. They boarded Miyuki’s car and headed towards their destination.

… 

About fifteen minutes later.

Ichirou raised the door of the car as he climbed out with a certain level of difficulty because of his height. He then proceeded to head to the other side of the car after closing his door.

“Oh my, such a gentleman.”

“If I let you get out of the car yourself, I will be roasted by the surrounding gazes.”

“Fufufu~ Aren’t you happy that your sister is so beautiful?”

“You think? I was known as ‘Miyuki and Mayumi’s little brother’ all throughout elementary school.”

“Ahaha~ But you did get special attention, didn’t you?”

Sigh~ Let’s just go.”

Ichirou’s fatigue was visible on his face. After Miyuki handed over the car keys to a chauffeur, she excitedly interlocked her arms with Ichirou’s and began humming as he reluctantly escorted her to the restaurant.

At the reception desk of the exaggeratedly fancy restaurant.

“Yes, how may I help you?”

A lady in her twenties came forward and spoke after being momentarily stunned by the couple in front of her.

“Hashimoto Miyuki?”

Ichirou asked with a frown. He could tell that this woman was clearly misunderstanding their relationship.

“Ah, yes. Your companions are already at the table. Please allow me to escort you.”

The woman smiled and left the reception desk to lead them towards a table on the second floor of the restaurant. 

Ichirou could tell that this restaurant was exceedingly expensive just by the sheer atmosphere of the place. The paintings on the wall, the furniture, the alcohol, the food, and everything else was of extremely premium quality.

The second floor seemed to be for VIP guests as it had a very limited amount of tables and each of the tables was covered on three sides by a wall that guaranteed privacy to a certain degree. A fancy bar was set up at one end of the room where three men were merrily chatting away with alcohol-filled glasses in their hands.

“This way.”

The woman cheerily led the duo to their assigned table which seemed to be rather deep into the room. Ichirou passed through multiple tables, he gazed at multiple groups enjoying their meals. And when he finally did reach his table, it took even him a couple of seconds to calm his mind.

A six-person compartment with two couches meant for three people facing each other and a well-decorated and wide table in between. It was a set-up one would expect from such a high-class establishment, and Ichirou was no stranger to such facilities. What shocked him were the occupants of the seats on either side of the table.

Three women. One man. The man was rather ordinary, one could even say that he ruined this picturesque setting, however, the women were on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. They were meant for this, and so much more. 

Arrogance, intelligence, talent, beauty, sharpness… A sense of superiority that came with their mere existence. Ichirou could tell that these three women and his sister were similar in more ways than one, he sensed the same pressure his sister exerted coming from these three women.

“Miyuki~ You’re late~”

One of the women with short red hair and sharp jawline said with a pout. She had a rather modest chest, not that it was an object to evaluation under Ichirou’s eyes. Her slim and relatively tall frame made her resemble those beautiful princes from folklore. 

“Ah, sorry, Rei-chan~ Did I make you wait for too long?”

“No, no. I am glad that you were able to make it.”

Rei smiled and ruffled her short hair a little before asking.

“You should be the famous little brother, right?”

Faced with the charm of an older woman, Ichirou didn’t waver even a little and replied unflinchingly.

“I am not sure what you mean by ‘famous’, but I am indeed Onee-san’s little brother, Hashimoto Ichirou.”

Ichirou introduced himself with a formal smile and bowed.

“‘Onee-san’? Don’t be like that, Ichirou. It’s fine, just be normal… These are my best friends. This is Sonoda Rei.”

Miyuki formally introduced the red-haired prince. Rei was wearing a shirt and jeans, signifying her boyish image even more.

“This is Hase Shizuka.”

Miyuki pointed to a woman in a tight dress which emphasized her lascivious curves quite elegantly. Shizuka’s brown hair dressed in a ponytail jumped and waved as she politely bowed to Ichirou. Her large brown eyes scanned Ichirou with interest while she crossed her arms emphasizing her chest even more.

“She is Hirota Kaede. You can call her Ka-chan. She is a part-time patissier, her home-made cakes and pastries are out of this world!”

Miyuki jumped excitedly and hugged a small woman barely reaching one-fifty-five centimeters in height. Although her golden-brown fluffy hair and cute face gave her a rather childish image, her presence was in no way inferior to the others.

“Nice to meet all of you. Once again, I am Hashimoto Ichirou. Thank you for taking care of my troublesome sister.”

Ichirou realized that his sister had a very close relationship with these women, so he decided to drop the formalities and act casual with them as his sister advised.

“Oh, no, Ichirou-kun, your sister has been anything but kind to us.”

Shizuka said while chuckling softly. She, and her two friends, had been subjected to harsh torture on everyday basis by Miyuki. She would start chatting away about Ichirou, and just wouldn’t stop. Shizuka and the other two probably knew more about Ichirou than he did.

“No, no, no, no! Miyuki is so mean~ Ichirou-kun, please control your sister! Or she will gobble me up one day!”

Teary-eyed, Kaede escaped from Miyuki’s clutches and hid behind Ichirou’s back. Though she seemed to be quite afraid, she had a mischievous smile on her face.

“Ahaha~ You two sure seem to get along.” Ichirou warmly smiled at Miyuki and Kaede before turning towards the guy sitting on the other side of the table all alone. “I didn’t quite catch your name, Mister.”

“A-ah! It seemed Hashimoto-san forgot to introduce me, hehe… My name is Nagata Teruo, and I work in the same department as Hashimoto-san.”

He was a very ordinary man. Black hair, typical glasses, and a generic face. Nothing about him stood out, but he did stand out in this setting where the only other guy present was Ichirou, who was handsome to the point of being criminal, and the four ladies, who carried their own overwhelming charm. 

“Is that so? You seem to be close to my sister since she invited you here, though she hasn’t mentioned you before. Well, whatever, nice to meet you.”

Ichirou extended his hand which was grabbed by Teruo in a frenzy.

“Y-yes, nice to meet you too, Ichirou-kun!”

His intentions are so damn obvious.

Ichirou forced himself to maintain a smile as he grabbed the seat beside Teruo, with Shizuka walking over and taking the seat beside him. So now, Teruo was facing Miyuki, with Kaede sitting beside her and facing Ichirou. And finally, Shizuka was facing Rei who was fiddling with Kaede’s fluffy hair.

“What do you wanna drink?”

Miyuki asked Ichirou while opening up the menu. 

“Any mocktail will do. And you, no alcohol, am I understood?”

“Eh? Why?”

“You’ve got to drive us back, and we can’t just leave your car and take the train. You know that, right?”

“Boo~ I get it~”

Miyuki seemed dissatisfied, but her smile never wavered. 

This is nice… My dear Ichi… Rei-chan, Ka-chan, and Shizuka… If only this little shit wasn’t here, I’d be having the time of my life… 

Miyuki looked over at Teruo, she wished to glare at him, but he was looking right at her with eyes concealing unimaginable lust, so she couldn’t do anything but smile at him, covering up her annoyance. 

“Ah, I am getting a phone call, please excuse me.”

Teruo said with a smile and stood up to leave. However, since he was on the inner edge of the couch, Ichirou and Shizuka had to stand up for him to have enough space to walk out. And once he did leave the table to descend the stairs, Miyuki finally relaxed and said with a cheery smile.

“Since that guy is gone, we can talk freely~ So, tell me Ichirou… What do you think of my best friends?”

Miyuki said and wrapped her hand around Kaede’s waist, bringing her closer and stuffing Kaede’s head in her cleavage.

“Miyuki… It’s not nice to put people on the spot like that, right? Ichirou-kun~”

“Ahaha, Rei-san. She’s been like this since we were kids so I am used to it. As for the answer to Miyuki’s question… All three of you seem like amazing people, especially Rei-san, I can tell that you are quite the lady-killer.”

Ichirou said seriously, which led to Kaede and Miyuki laughing aloud and Shizuka doing her best to hold back her laughter. As for Rei, she was red to her ears.

“Fufufu~ See, Rei-chan, he could tell at a glance! Ichirou, listen to this, no boy approached Rei-chan for the first eight months of college because all of them thought that he was a guy.”

“And she got four confessions from girls.”

Miyuki and Kaede chimed in while laughing, which made Shizuka finally lose it and she began laughing as well. Ichirou had been chuckling from the very beginning but he didn’t laugh out loud out of consideration for Rei’s feelings.

“S-stop it you guys! What would Ichirou-kun think!”

Rei tried to stop the rest with her cheeks burning red. 

“Don’t worry Rei-san, I think you’re plenty beautiful.”

Rei turned her head and gazed at Ichirou with an expression that displayed how moved she was.

“Look at this, Ichirou-kun.”

Shizuka moved her body and stuck to Ichirou, her breasts pushing against his arm. She accessed the gallery on her phone and turned the screen towards him.

“Who do you think this is?”

Displayed on the screen was a picture of a boy who seemed to be twenty-or-so. He seemed very confident with short black hair and sharp beautiful features. He was wearing a shirt and jeans, it was a man through and through, well, too beautiful a man, but nothing unusual.

“He seems to be a college student? A guy in his early twenties?”

“That’s Rei in her third year of college.”

Ichirou was genuinely shocked. His eyes traveled between the blushing Rei and the picture on Shizuka’s phone.

“W-well, there are signs that this person is a w-woman.”

“You don’t have to console me, Ichirou-kun…”

Rei’s eyes were practically dead. As the group was laughing and chatting, Miyuki received a message and when she retrieved her phone from her handbag, her eyebrows furrowed.

“It’s from Teruo. The stalker, I mean. It’s a picture of me getting out of my car with Ichirou.”

Ichirou’s expression turned serious as he looked at the picture on Miyuki’s phone.

“Well, he did arrive like a minute or two before you.”

Kaede said while taking a sip of her wine.

“He thinks he is being mysterious and scary. Look what the caption is.”

[If you don’t want this picture with your young lover to spread on the internet, do what I tell you to do.] 

Ichirou read it and chuckled a bit.

“Miyuki, does that guy really work in your company? How the hell is he so stupid?”

“I don’t know, Ichirou, I don’t know. Well, honestly, it would be pretty annoying if that picture were to spread. I am way too well known in the media, and so is Father and Mother… If this picture goes viral and your identity gets revealed, it’d be pretty annoying for you in school and stuff.”

Miyuki would have zero problems dealing with all of the nonsense, but she was concerned that Ichirou would have to face the consequences.

“It’s fine. My friends already know about me, and they still treat me the same. I don’t think my identity getting revealed will have that much of an impact on my daily life. I’ve gotta say though, Mom and Dad have been pretty successful in hiding my name and face.”

“Yeah, after what happened to Mayumi and me, how could they let their dearest Ichirou face any sort of difficulties. We all know that you are the apple of their eyes.”

“What about you, Miyuki? You say it like you hate me or something.”

“Hmph! What are you talking about? I love you the most, you know!?”

Miyuki crossed her arms and said confidently. Her cheeks slightly puffed.

“It seems you are quite loved, Ichirou-kun.”

Shizuka, who was still sticking to Ichirou, said in a seductive voice.

“W-well, I would have to agree.” He coughed before continuing. “Leaving that aside. What should we do with that guy?”

“He’s nothing. I just wanted to introduce you to my friends. Dealing with him was quite low on my priority list.”

“Haha, is that so?”

“Threaten him a bit, it’ll be fine.”

Rei casually said as she emptied her glass of wine.

“Okay then, I’ll go have a talk with him, give me a minute.”

“Don’t be too harsh on him.”

Miyuki said with a smile as she waved her hand to see off Ichirou.

… 

Outside the restaurant.

“Damn them. They look at me like I am trash. Not even introducing me? It’s obvious by their behavior that I was invited just to be their bodyguard or something. Especially Miyuki, she knows I love her, and still! Damn her, I will fucking destroy her.” 

Teruo stomped his feet in anger while holding a cigarette near his lips.

“The internet is cruel, by the time she makes excuses and tells the world that this kid is her brother, her life will be finished. Hehehe~ I will make sure to use her well.”

The corners of his lips lifted to form an evil smirk as he released the cigarette’s smoke from his nose and mouth.

“Bodyguard? ‘Miyuki’? Destroy? You sure seem to value yourself quite highly.”

A cold voice brought Teruo to reality as he frantically turned around and looked at the one who spoke with horror.

“W-what are you doing here?”

Ichirou coldly smiled as he raised his smartphone and showed Teruo the backside of it.

“Nothing much, recording an entertaining video. Just based off of this video, I can take you to the police, you know?”

“W-wha-”

“However, my sister is quite kind, and she’d not want that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well…”

… 

“He’ll be a good boy from now on… It will take him a bit of time to return to the company though.”

“You didn’t beat him up too much, right?”

“Ah, no. I didn’t even touch him. I just talked with him for a bit, and he broke down crying.”

Looking at Ichirou speak with a gentle smile sent a chill running down everyone else’s back.


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