A day off of work was the perfect day to relax - or in Ryouma’s case, clean his apartment.
He genuinely liked cleaning so it was no chore for him in the first place. His usual vacation days were spent either cleaning, or spending time with his childhood friends, although having their schedules line up nowadays was rare. He genuinely missed the three of them spending time together.
Speaking of… Ryouma dusted off a photo album he found in his bedroom closet, and smiled as he flipped through some of the pages, gazing at photos of him as a kid, him with his parents, and him with Kyoutaro and Ata. It was so nostalgic looking at them, and it filled him with a lot of wonderful memories.
After he was done, he set the album down and pulled out a few other things - some stuff he didn’t even recognize. Had he taken some stuff that had belonged to his parents without realizing, when he’d moved out of his family’s home? It was strange how he’d never noticed some of these things before. But to be fair, the storage closet wasn’t something he sorted through too often. It might have been the second time since he moved into the apartment.
There was a box of random knick knacks - a deck of cards, some figurines, definitely not his. A small container full of candy wrappers. Definitely his. He’d had a habit of collecting those a long time ago. He didn’t do it anymore, but it made him smile to see that he’d kept them. He pulled out other random things - an old broken wristwatch, a textbook, and a container full of rocks. Ah, he and Kyoutaro had collected rocks together when they were children. Ata hadn’t had that same interest, he’d thought it was weird. Ryouma laughed to himself.
And then he pulled out something that was completely unfamiliar to him. It was a small golden object. It looked almost like a pitcher of some sort, it had a spout like a tea kettle. He had no idea where it had come from. He didn’t remember seeing either of his parents use such an object before.
Noticing that it was all dusty, Ryouma took his sleeve and began to dust off the top of the object.
Suddenly a scorching white glow burst from the object, burning and blinding Ryouma. In his shock, he dropped the object onto the floor, falling back onto his rear end. His vision was fuzzy and his heart was racing. What on earth was that?
Ryouma scooted backwards on sheer impulse, his back hitting his desk chair, and his breathing quickened. His vision was still fuzzy which made the intense fear grip onto him even harder. His mind was spinning, unable to even calmly reason through what had just happened quite yet.
An airy chuckle broke the silence. And it was not coming from Ryouma. He lived alone, so there was no explanation for this.
A startled squeak came out of Ryouma’s mouth, as he tried to scoot back even further, blinking rapidly to try and focus his vision. He should just get up and run - if this were a burglar or a criminal, would he really just freeze in fear and let them do what they want? It was times like this when his passive personality was definitely not a good thing.
“Don’t be afraid,” the voice suddenly said. The voice didn’t really sound sinister, it sounded amused, melodic, but that didn’t really mean anything - how could he not be afraid in a situation like this?
“I-I-” Ryouma blinked some more, the shapes of his bedroom finally coming back into focus. His bed, his desk, a few clothes on the floor, his closet door with a floating man in front of it - wait, what?
He closed his eyes and opened them again, this time his vision coming back in full strength.
There was a man floating in front of his closet. He had shoulder length blond hair, a face that appeared to be visually of a similar age to Ryouma, and was wearing some kind of poofy white and green outfit. Was it a dress? A one piece? The green flaps and bowtie, grey belt with a gold buckle, fancy white gloves, high heels with pom-poms on them…
He was dreaming. That had to be it. Ryouma was dreaming.
“You’re not dreaming,” the man said with a grin on his face.
“Ahhh, there’s no way this isn’t a dream!” Ryouma responded. “I like cleaning, so it’s not impossible I’d dream about doing it-”
“This is real,” the man said. “You’ve summoned me, congratulations!”
Ryouma blinked. And then blinked again. “Wha-what?” He pinched his arm hard and indeed, it really hurt. If this was real… then what? “...Who are you?”
“I’m your husband who came from the future,” the guy said, voice completely serious.
A surprised squawk came out of Ryouma. “Wh-wh-what!?” How could that be possible?
Before Ryouma could even figure it out, the blond man started laughing, moving into a sitting position in the air, his hands slapping his legs.
“You are easily gullible, how fun~” his voice was teasing.
Ryouma blinked again as his face started to burn, opening and closing his mouth with nothing else to say. Now this stranger, who could somehow float in the air, was making fun of him? Ryouma didn’t even know yet if he was in danger or not. He could try fleeing and calling the police, but he wasn’t sure if his legs would be able to move. He somehow knew that if he tried standing up they would collapse from under him.
“For real this time,” the man said, “I’m Nanao. I’m a genie. I just so happened to have come out of that lamp that you were polishing.” He shot Ryouma a wide smile.
“A… genie?” It wasn’t like Ryouma hadn’t heard of genies before, he was an avid reader, but it was difficult for him to just believe so suddenly that it was real.
“That’s right~” the man, genie Nanao, said. “I was trapped in that lamp for a very long time, until you just so happened to summon me!”
“I don’t understand,” Ryouma said.
“Will you understand if I grant you a wish?” Nanao said with a wink that somehow made Ryouma’s face burn even more.
“A wish?” Ryouma repeated. He must really have gone to sleep and was dreaming. How could this really be possible? Ryouma somehow managed to get himself up, standing on shaky legs.
“As the human who summoned me, I am contractually obligated to grant you three wishes.”
“Three wishes… ah. That’s right,” Ryouma mumbled. It was true, in the stories he’s heard about, genies grant people wishes. That’s what they did. “So you’re not going to hurt me?”
It didn’t harm to ask. Ryouma didn’t feel quite secure yet, nor did he believe this situation one hundred percent.
“Not unless you want me to.” The suggestive tone in Nanao’s voice made Ryouma put his hands onto his face. Oh God, what was even happening right now? He groaned out loud.
“Sorry… sorry. Give me a moment to process this. I don’t know if I believe you yet.”
It was a few moments before Ryouma moved his hands, peeking at the genie. Nanao stayed where he was, hovering in the air. He put a hand to his chin thoughtfully.
“Alright, then why don’t you give me a wish and I can prove it to you?”
“I really don’t know,” Ryouma mumbled. “I haven’t thought about it.”
“The first thing that comes to mind,” Nanao said. “Something your heart yearns for, perhaps?”
“Uh,” Ryouma said. How was he supposed to think about something like that? And if it was true and he had three wishes, he didn’t want to waste one! What would make him happy?
“Or perhaps something you secretly desire?” Nanao raised an eyebrow. With the tone of his voice it was clear he was intentionally being provocative!
“No, no there’s nothing like that!” Ryouma blurted out, panicked and flustered. “I-I wish for all you can eat sweets!”
Well, that wasn’t the worst thing he could have impulsively said.
“Oh, interesting,” Nanao said. “So you have quite the sweet tooth. How cute.”
Ryouma’s face still burned. He didn’t know if this genie was teasing him on purpose, but he’d never felt this flustered before!
“Y-yes, I love sweets! A lot!”
“Hmm,” Nanao said. “Your wish is my command. But first, I haven’t learned your name yet. Or shall I just call you cutie?”
Why!? “Ryouma!” he introduced. “Kirishima Ryouma.”
“Then Ryouma-kun,” Nanao grinned. He closed his eyes, made a gesture with his hands, and then he started to glow bright white again. This time Ryouma closed his eyes.
When he could see through his eyelids that the light was gone, he blinked his eyes back open, curious to see if his wish really was granted.
“Did it work?”
“That it did,” Nanao said. “Check your kitchen pantry, cupboard on the left.”
“Eh?” Ryouma couldn’t help but be curious and a little excited, so he hurried down the hall towards the kitchen. Nanao floated after him. Ryouma opened said cupboard, and the cupboard was absolutely stocked with candy and sweets! All sorts of shapes, sizes, colours, brands, flavours, and a lot of them were Ryouma’s favourites. “Wow.”
“Impressed~?” Nanao whispered into Ryouma’s ear, making him jump. His ears burned.
“Yes, yes, very! So you really are a genie!” he gazed over at Nanao, his eyes wide with awe. This being, this beautiful being Ryouma of course noticed, really was a genie and could actually grant his wishes!
“Absolutely,” Nanao said. “There’s one more thing you should know. Since you said all you can eat, the candy will magically come back, a never ending supply. But there’s a catch - should you decide to ever move out of this place, it will go away.”
“Neverending…?” Ryouma swayed in the spot, dazed. This was like a dream come true. He suddenly had an urge to reach over and hug Nanao. Though he didn’t know if he could. The genie looked solid enough, but…
He shook the thought out of his head “Thank you, Nanao! I do believe you!”
Nanao chuckled, leaning his head on his arm, which was resting on his knee. “You really are a cute, earnest one, huh?”
“Me?” Ryouma flushed. “No, no.” Maybe he’d acted too eager about the candy… it might have been a bit childish, but he was truly happy about it.
“Yes. I can tell you’re pure of heart. I like that.” Nanao was grinning and suddenly Ryouma’s stomach did a flip.
Now that he wasn’t scared anymore, and had accepted the situation, he was able to look Nanao in the face more clearly. So it was easy to notice that this genie was really attractive. His facial structure, his hair, his smile… he was too pretty that it was unfair. Was that because he was inhuman?
“Thank you…” Ryouma murmured shyly for lack of anything else to say.
“No need for thanks. So now you have two more wishes left. What will they be?”
“Oh. Is it alright if I think about it for a while? It’s a really big decision.”
Nanao shrugged. “There’s no rules against that. It just means I get to hang around longer, so I won’t complain.”
Ryouma frowned. “Hang around longer? So when you grant my wishes you have to go back into the lamp?”
Nanao nodded. “That’s how it works. Until the next person summons me.”
“Eh, that doesn’t sound fair…”
“Fair or not, that’s how it is!” Nanao said, sounding jovial despite the depressing thing he’d just told him.
“So how long were you in that lamp before I… summoned you?”
“I wouldn’t be able to tell you,” Nanao said. “I guess you could say I’m just hibernating in there the whole time when I’m not helping someone.”
“Oh,” Ryouma said. “So at least you wouldn’t be bored then. Do you remember the last person who summoned you?”
It was a bit surreal that Ryouma was here, having this conversation like it was normal, but now that he believed it was real, he was too curious to not ask.
“I do,” Nanao grinned. “It was a man a lot older than you, he had some less than pure wishes in mind.”
“Less than - wait, I don’t want to know.” Ryouma shook his head. That could mean many different things. “Anyway, this lamp was in my storage, I don’t know how I got it. I might have to ask my mom next time I call her.”
“Well, I’m glad you summoned me, Ryouma-kun,” Nanao said with a smile. “Out of all of my summoners, you’re definitely the cutest.”
“Don’t tease me!” Ryouma wailed, his face growing hot again. “Are genies supposed to throw out those kinds of lines to everyone?”
“Nah,” Nanao said. “At least, I don’t think so~ I’m one of a kind.”
“I can see that already…” Ryouma said with a flustered smile.
He pulled a few pieces of candy out of the cupboard and closed the door, popping them into his mouth one at a time. Nanao kept watching him. It was half thrilling, half unnerving, and he wasn’t sure which side was winning out.
After he was done with them, he walked back down the hall to his bedroom, retrieving the lamp from the floor and putting it gently on a side table. After he’d set it somewhere nice and safe, he headed back down the hall to the kitchen as Nanao followed him the whole time.
“So are you… just going to hang around my apartment like this until I make the wishes? Do you eat?”
“I won’t starve if I don’t,” Nanao said, “at least while I’m tethered to my lamp. But I do enjoy it because it tastes good.”
“Oh!” Ryouma said. “In that case, do you have any favourites? I can make something. It’s almost dinner time, anyway.”
“That sounds nice,” Nanao said. “My favourite thing to eat is Japanese sweets, but I’m not really that picky.”
“We’re not eating sweets for dinner,” Ryouma said with a smile, “but I could probably get some next time I go out. I’ll make something quick then. You can take a seat at the table if you want.” Ryouma’s eyebrows furrowed as he paused. “Wait… can you?”
After all, Nanao had been floating the whole time. Ryouma didn’t know much about genies. Could Nanao walk, or sit down?
To Ryouma’s surprise, Nanao showed that yes, he could. He floated down to the ground and walked to the table, taking a seat and smirking at Ryouma the whole time.
“So you can,” Ryouma mumbled with embarrassment as he turned around and started to get out a pan and a few ingredients.
“I’m not a ghost,” Nanao said. “Just a magical being. You can touch me too.”
Ryouma almost dropped a glass salt shaker, thankfully catching it right before it hit the ground.
“Haha… good to know…” Ryouma stuttered, shaking his head. If Nanao kept making these surprise remarks, he didn’t know how his heart was going to handle his new visitor… or should he say, houseguest?
Well, anyway, the company was… despite the weirdness, kind of nice, so Ryouma wasn’t in any hurry to come up with his last two wishes and make Nanao go back into the lamp.
After he was done, he brought two plates to the table, setting one in front of Nanao. He did something simple, a traditional chicken and rice stir fry.
“Thank you for the food,” Nanao said with a friendly smile.
It was strange how that smile made Ryouma’s heart skip a beat, right?
“It’s nothing,” Ryouma said shyly, sitting across from him at Ryouma’s small table. He didn’t usually have company. Sometimes Kyoutaro and or Ata came over, though, so he didn’t really need a big table or that many chairs. Anyway, it felt… strange, but not bad, to have someone unfamiliar, new to him to eat with.
Technically, Nanao was still a stranger. Though from what he’d seen so far, he had no reason not to trust him. He’d already proven who he was, and what he was here for. And he was friendly… maybe too friendly. And Ryouma may be gullible, but he liked to think he was decent at reading people, and he didn’t think Nanao had any bad intentions. He seemed… like a good person. Person? Well, he did look like a person, even if he was a magical genie. Ryouma took a bite of his food, deciding not to think too deeply about it anymore.
“It’s delicious,” Nanao said. “Maybe the best I’ve ever had. Could you perhaps be a chef, Ryouma-kun?”
Ryouma blinked, a flush travelling down the back of his neck. “Ah, no no! My cooking is just average, but I’m glad you like it!”
Gosh, he really needed to start preparing himself emotionally if he was going to spend a lot more time with Nanao.
At least, until he could come up with two more wishes… truthfully, nothing really was on Ryouma’s mind yet. Well, there wasn’t a hurry, so….
When they were done eating, Ryouma went to wash the dishes and then he sat on the sofa and turned on the television, which was airing a rerun of an anime he liked. The anime was about five high schoolers who transformed into magical boys to fight monsters. It was pretty cool.
Nanao floated after him, landing on the sofa beside Ryouma.
Ryouma turned to him curiously. “So you can just choose whether to float or to walk?”
“Yup~” Nanao said with a chuckle. “Floating is fun, it’s a shame you can’t do it.”
“I guess….” Ryouma did wonder what it would be like. He squinted at Nanao, eyeing his figure. Out of a curiosity that was stronger than his embarrassment, he reached over to poke Nanao’s arm.
Yes, it was solid. Huh.
“Don’t hold back,” Nanao teased. “Touch me more if you want.”
An explosion of heat made Ryouma fling his hand away.
“You-you’re quite shameless with your words, aren’t you?” Ryouma floundered. “I-I was just curious… how do you fit in the lamp…”
“Oh, that,” Nanao said. “I shift into smoke form when I’m entering and leaving the lamp.”
“Wow,” Ryouma said. “Is that true?”
“I can show you,” Nanao said. He floated up off the couch, and in an instant, his body started to look more translucent. Ryouma reached towards him, but his hand went right through him this time. His stomach twisted strangely. Woah.
“This is… weird.”
Nanao laughed. “I imagine it would be. You know, I can shift into other forms as well.” Nanao became solid once again, and drifted back down to the sofa beside him.
“Really? So this isn’t your true form?”
“It is,” Nanao said. “This is my real face. I meant more along the lines of… I could shift into someone who is wearing a lot less clothes.”
The way he said it was so matter of factly, it took Ryouma a moment to process those extreme words and this time he felt like his whole body burst into flames.
“N-No that will not be necessary!” he wailed. “Why do you keep teasing me like this?”
Nanao chuckled. “Your reactions are so titillating, it’s amusing to see how flustered you get.”
“Titillati-” Ryouma stuttered. He wasn’t sure how he could sit and watch an anime like this. His whole being was buzzing with embarrassment. “I-I’m actually tired so I’ll be going to go to bed. Goodnight.”
Ryouma stood up stiffly, his heart racing faster than he could remember it ever going before, and walked down the hall to his bedroom.
It wasn’t long before he realized Nanao had followed him in.
He turned around. “You- you’re not going to…”
Ryouma didn’t even want to say aloud what he was thinking.
However, Nanao seemed to figure it out anyway.
“I thought I’d go back to my lamp to sleep, but if you’d rather me join you, that can be arranged~”
Ryouma let out a choked wail and flopped face first into his bed. Nanao chuckled again, but then the sound got more distant. He lifted his head to see a cloud of green smoke enter the lamp, and then the air became still. Huh.
With a sigh, Ryouma changed into his pajamas and climbed into bed. His mind was racing with the happenings of the past couple of hours. He was sure he’d never had a more eventful day that could compare to this. Meeting a magical being, having his wishes granted…
Maybe he’d go to sleep, wake up to find it was a dream within a dream.
It was not. Ryouma had woken up to see the lamp still right there on the desk. And on a whim, he’d called his mom to ask if she remembered having the lamp and where it came from. She’d said she had received it as a gift, but had kept it in a closet and hadn’t used it. It did make Ryouma wonder just what his mom would have wished for.
He definitely didn’t tell her the truth about the lamp. He didn’t know if he ever would, the story seemed a bit too unbelievable. As for his friends… Kyoutaro might believe him, but there was no way Ata would unless he saw for himself. He was way too practical.
As Ryouma got dressed and ate some breakfast as he prepared for work, he was distracted. Nanao hadn’t come out of the lamp again. Would he have to rub it when he had another wish? Would Nanao stay there until then? There were a lot of things about Nanao that Ryouma didn’t understand, yet.
When he came back home after work later that evening, though, Nanao was floating above the sofa.
“Ryouma-kun, welcome back.”
“Oh,” Ryouma said. “I’m back. I didn’t know you could come and leave the lamp as you wished?”
“Indeed,” Nanao said. “Since you already summoned me, I can come and go from the lamp as I please as long as I’m under contract with you.”
“It’s magical and will go away when I grant your wishes, don’t worry.”
“Oh,” Ryouma breathed out a sigh of relief. “Alright. There’s a lot about you I still don’t understand, so I was just taken off guard.”
Ryouma shed his jacket and washed his hands in the kitchen sink, ready to make another quick meal. Nanao drifted to the ground and walked up beside him.
“If you ask, I might be able to tell you,” Nanao said with a smile.
“Really?” Ryouma’s eyes widened. “There’s no kind of secrecy thing in the contract?”
“No such thing,” Nanao laughed. “You can ask me anything you’re curious about.”
“Um… I was wondering… in that lamp all the time, were you lonely?”
“No,” Nanao said. “Since it’s like hibernating, the passage of time didn’t really exist for me, so I had no chance to be lonely.”
Ryouma frowned. “That still sounds lonely anyway. Did you ever have any friends? What about with other genies?”
Nanao put a hand to his chin. “Yes, I was acquainted with other genies, a couple of them I would call good friends. However, we were split up when we were each assigned our posts - or as you know, my lamp. I’m sure my friends must be in their own lamps somewhere.”
“So that’s how it is…” Ryouma murmured. “Where did you meet them? Is there some sort of genie land… like another country?”
Nanao gave a sharp laugh. “Well. Something like that. We grew up normally, just with you know, the extra magical powers, and when we turned of age we followed our duty to go into the lamps. How the lamps travelled to people like you, well, that’s a mystery to even me.”
“Huh…” Ryouma said. “Are you happy with that?”
Nanao widened his eyes at him, seemingly taken aback. “Happy?”
“I mean, have you ever wanted to live normally and not have to live in the lamp to solely grant people’s wishes…”
“I hadn’t thought about it,” Nanao said. “This is the only life I know.”
Ryouma frowned as he gathered ingredients for dinner. That was something that was difficult to comprehend for him. But… he wasn’t Nanao, so he had no right to say anything else. When he got out a cutting board, Nanao held out his hand.
“I can help,” he said with a grin.
“Oh,” Ryouma said. “Thanks!”
And just like that, they made dinner together - it was surprising that Nanao didn’t even need much instruction. Even without interacting with the world much, he seemed to have a large breadth of knowledge. Ryouma was interested in asking him about that sometime, too.
This time dinner was a type of udon dish, and Nanao seemed to enjoy it just as much as he’d enjoyed the previous day’s dinner.
“Thanks for the meal, Ryouma-kun, it was great.”
Ryouma smiled. “Well, you helped this time, too. Thanks for the assistance.”
As they followed a similar routine to yesterday, Nanao followed Ryouma to the sofa, and Ryouma couldn’t stop thinking about their previous conversation and if Nanao even knew what happiness was. He appeared to be content with his life, but… he couldn’t help but think it was still really lonely. When was the last time he’d seen his friends? Would he even be able to find them again if they were in lamps somewhere? They could be very far away.
It made Ryouma even more thankful for his friends, and decided he would try to make more effort to carve out time to spend with them.
“Nanao….” Ryouma said, suddenly. “I think I decided on what my second wish will be.”
Nanao leaned in, smiling with great interest. “Oh, so the time has come. I’m really curious as to what your next wish is.”
Ryouma inhaled. “I wish for my two best friends to be really happy.”
“That?” Nanao’s eyebrows furrowed. “That is your second wish?”
“Yes,” Ryouma said. “It’s not like I think they’re unhappy now or anything, but if possible, I don’t want them to go through hardships. I want them to be truly happy.”
Nanao was staring at Ryouma like he was a specimen he was trying to study or understand.
“I don’t think there are many humans like you, Ryouma,” Nanao murmured.
Ryouma felt his face flush. “Don’t… don’t make fun of me, okay?”
“I’m not,” Nanao insisted. “I just didn’t expect anything so selfless. Alright. I can do it, I’ll just need their full names, and a picture of them if you have it.”
“I do!” Ryouma said, jumping up from the couch. He had pictures from when they were little, but maybe a more recent one would be better. He grabbed his phone and returned, opening it to a photo taken a couple of weeks ago when they had visited their old high school. It had been Ryouma’s idea to take the selfie of the three of them. “Their names are Shuzenji Kyoutaro and Ibusuki Ata.”
Nanao studied the photo, and like the first time, he raised his hands and a glow emitted. This time, Ryouma turned his head away instead of closing his eyes.
He knew he’d made the right decision. After all, there wasn’t that much he could wish for from himself. He was a pretty content person. His friends and family were healthy, he had a good apartment and a decently paying job, he had hobbies he enjoyed. And now a genie living with him… it would make him happy just knowing his friends were happy.
“It’s done,” Nanao said. And Ryouma turned to face him with a smile.
“Thank you, Nanao. I guess that means just one wish left, huh?”
“That’s right,” Nanao said. “Better make it count, right?”
“Yeah…” Ryouma said, turning his gaze back to the television. He still had no idea what to wish for. And other than that, there was one concern he had… “Can I ask you one more thing?”
“Of course,” Nanao said. “Anything for you, Ryouma-kun.”
“When you grant my third wish… will you go back into the lamp for good?”
Nanao smiled wistfully. “That’s right. I’ll have to go back into the lamp, the lamp will disappear from your possession and end up somewhere else for someone else to find it.”
“Oh,” Ryouma said. “And the reason why it didn’t disappear from my mom’s possession was because she didn’t use it…”
“That’s likely it, yes,” Nanao said.
So the last person he granted wishes to used it, and then the lamp somehow disappeared, and ended up with someone who ended up gifting the lamp to his mom without using it, and somehow it ended up with Ryouma and ended up like this.
“That’s kind of sad,” Ryouma said. “To think that when it’s over we’ll never meet again…”
“So you have grown to like my company over the past day,” Nanao said teasingly. “I really hoped so.”
“Of course!” Ryouma said, even though he was embarrassed. “Even though your teasing remarks are a bit much…”
“There’s a lot more where that came from,” Nanao said, leaning close into Ryouma’s personal space. His face was so close, and Ryouma could feel Nanao’s body heat emanating from him. Ryouma swallowed and turned his face away immediately.
“Ahaha…. you’re relentless…”
“Only towards cuties like you.”
And Ryouma groaned once more.
It was a couple of days later when Ryouma got a very interesting phone call.
“Kyoutaro?” Ryouma asked. “You don’t call that often, what’s up?”
His friend usually preferred texting, saying phone calls were too much work. And even then, he wasn’t a sporadic replier, something that Ata had been trying to get him to do more often. Ryouma knew that Ata worried about Kyoutaro as much as he did. Thankfully they were roommates now so Ata could get him up and to work safely, which meant making sure he didn’t fall asleep in any dangerous places. That had been Ryouma’s job during their childhood and throughout high school, which Ata frequently praised Ryouma for, when he used to admonish him for being too lenient and for babying him and ruining his own mental health over it. Nowadays he heard comments like ‘I don't know how you did it’. It was a change from ‘please move in with us, Ryouma. I can’t deal with him.’
“Something amazing happened, Ryo-chin,” Kyoutaro said with a yawn. Huh. Kyoutaro sounded sleepy like usual, but there was an excited undertone to his voice that caused Ryouma to perk up.
“What is it?”
“My boss…” Kyoutaro said.
“Gave you a promotion?” Ryouma immediately guessed.
“Ugh, no,” Kyoutaro said. “My boss gave me a new rule - I can sleep on the job as much as I want now.”
“Eh?” Ryouma had not been expecting that. “Really?”
“Yeah. Isn’t it great? I have never been so happy...:”
Could it be?
“Oh. Well, that’s great for you, Kyoutaro,” Ryouma said while a sweatdrop travelled down his face. “Be sure to not slack off too much though, okay?”
“I know,” Kyoutaro said. “I think I’m going to sleep now, goodnight.”
Ryouma laughed. “‘Night, Kyoutaro.”
The phone hung up. Ryouma stared at the phone.
Kyoutaro was the happiest he’s ever been, he said…
Could it be… his wish?
Quickly, Ryouma dialled Ata’s number.
Ata didn’t take long to answer. He immediately sounded concerned.
“Is everything alright, Ryouma?”
“Yeah, I’m just calling to check in!” Ryouma said. “How have things with you been, Ata?”
“They’ve been well,” Ata said. “My job is keeping me busy, but it’s enjoyable.”
Hmmm. “So nothing new happened in the past couple of days?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no reason…”
So maybe the Kyoutaro thing was a coincidence?
“What about you?”
“Ah, same here! I also was hoping we could make time in our schedules to do something together soon.”
“I’d like that,” Ata said. “I’ll look at my calendar and get back to you via e-mail.”
“Sounds good. I don’t want to keep you, talk to you later.”
“Yes, let’s talk soon,” Ata agreed.
When the phone call ended, Ryouma sat down on the sofa in deliberation. Nanao floated next to him.
“My friend Kyoutaro had something good happen to him,” Ryouma explained. “Maybe it was the wish!”
“Probably,” Nanao said with a grin. “Are you pleased that it worked out?”
“Yeah,” Ryouma said. “Well. Kyoutaro’s happiness is a little different from what most people’s would be… but I am glad he’s happy. Ata said nothing changed for him, though.”
“Perhaps he’s perfectly happy as he is now,” Nanao suggested, “so nothing had to change.”
“Oh, that’d be nice if it were true!” Ryouma smiled. “I’ve already thanked you, but I’ll say it again - thank you, Nanao.”
Nanao’s smile this time was softer, softer than the usual teasing grin or smirk, and it made Ryouma’s heart speed up slightly.
“No, thank you. I’m glad I met you, Ryouma-kun. Most of the people I’ve granted wishes for before were mostly using it for selfish reasons. They asked for more money, or for a rival to lose their business, to win over a romantic interest, and other… let’s say less savory wishes. Not that it wasn’t amusing seeing the kinds of desires people have. I’ve never met a human who used their wishes for purely selfless reasons so far.”
Ryouma’s face started to burn. “The candy was kind of selfish.... although I would share it if my friends came over.”
Nanao chuckled. “I’ve never had anyone ask for unlimited sweets before. It was quite the surprise.”
“Geez… even I found it a bit childish afterward.”
Nanao shook his head. “It’s cute. I’m glad that you summoned me this time, Ryouma-kun.”
If it was possible, Ryouma’s face grew even more hot. “I’m… I’m honored that you think so…”
Nanao grinned in return. “Anyway. I’ve talked about my life in the lamp, but I don’t know that much about you. Other than your job, your friends, and that you like sweets. And the fact that you’re attractive and like to watch action anime. And how selfless your heart is.”
Ryouma sputtered as the word attractive came from Nanao’s lips. “You? You’re calling me attractive?”
“What is wrong with that? It’s the truth.”
His head was definitely going to pop. Or his heart, whichever came first. “You… have you seen yourself?”
“Yes.” Nanao’s eyes were sparkling. He was definitely enjoying this.
“So it’s a bit surprising to hear you, the most attractive person I’ve ever met, to say that about me,” Ryouma mumbled in a rush, face flaming - a thing that was happening all the time since he’d summoned Nanao.
Nanao’s teasing grin grew even bigger. “Oh, really now? The most attractive person you've ever met?”
“You-you don’t have to repeat it,” Ryouma said with a sigh. “But yes.”
Perhaps Nanao decided to take pity on him this time, for he turned to him and his teasing smile turned more genuine.
“Why, thank you. But I meant it when I said you’re attractive, Ryouma-kun. Not just your appearance but your heart, too.”
“Thank you…” Ryouma blushed again, deeper this time. He cleared his throat. “Any-anyway… what else do you want to know?”
Nanao smiled. “How about your family? How you grew up? Other things you like to do?”
“Really? You want to know all of that?”
It made Ryouma pretty happy. Even though he and Nanao were technically going to have to part ways eventually… likely to never meet again.
In a split second, Ryouma wondered if maybe he never had to make that third wish. Did that mean that Nanao would stay with him indefinitely?
“Of course. I’m curious to know everything about you.” Nanao put a hand on his chin, staring at him intently. “I’m very interested in you, after all.”
Ryouma flailed a bit, trying very hard to not take that interest in the wrong way.
“Um, alright. In that case...”
Days turned into weeks and Ryouma still had yet to make his final wish. Nothing seemed important enough to be the wish that ended his and Nanao’s friendship. Throughout the time they’d spent together, Ryouma had grown very fond of Nanao’s company. Teasing and all. It had already come to the point where it would be unbearable to say goodbye to him.
“Nanao… what would happen if I just never made my third wish?” he’d asked one day.
“I’m not sure,” Nanao had said. “But perhaps someone would come and check on me to be sure I’m doing my job properly. It’s possible I might get punished.”
“Eh!?” Shock had filled Ryouma’s body at that thought. “Oh no, what should I do?”
“Relax, relax. I’m sure it’s fine, though,” Nanao had tried to assure him. “You’re not in any rush.”
But it just put even more turmoil in Ryouma’s heart.
As much as Ryouma wanted to keep Nanao around, he was beginning to realize that maybe it was selfish of him to hold on to his third wish just so Nanao wouldn’t have to leave. Did Nanao want to leave, though, he wondered. Nanao had told him he was happy spending time with him, and they’d grown a lot closer over the time since they’d first met. But Nanao did have a job to do, and if he kept Nanao to himself like this, it meant that Nanao couldn’t help other people in the future.
But even if Ryouma decided to be selfless and let Nanao go, he still had no idea what to wish for.
He could just make up something small, something that didn’t matter - like this new expensive vacuum cleaner he had his eye on. Or he could wish that it wouldn’t rain for the whole month. But nothing he came up with seemed right in his mind.
With a sigh, Ryouma stretched out on the sofa. Nanao was sitting next to him, leaning into him - a habit he’d picked up not too long ago. Ryouma had been overly flustered at first, but he really didn’t mind. It was… nice. It wasn’t like Ryouma had been lonely before Nanao showed up, but having him around brought a lot of joy, brightness to his life that he didn’t realize he’d wanted.
And he’d really have to say goodbye to him… Ryouma wasn’t sure he’d ever be ready.
“Nanao…” Ryouma asked, half aware he was even speaking his thoughts aloud. “Are you happy with how things are?”
He sensed Nanao turn to face him. Ryouma’s ears were burning so he didn’t meet his eyes. “What do you mean?”
Ryouma bit his bottom lip. “I mean… do you want to go back into the lamp?”
Nanao laughed, a soft, melodic sound. “I told you, there’s no hurry for you to make your final wish. Don’t feel pressured.”
“That’s not it,” Ryouma said. “It’s just - what do you prefer? Do you want to go back, or do you want to stay here…”
With me, was left unsaid.
Nanao didn’t answer right away - Ryouma wondered if it was something Nanao had even thought about.
“I didn’t know I was allowed to have a preference,” Nanao finally admitted. “I just live how I’m supposed to, do what I’m supposed to do. But, since you asked outright like that… if I had a complete choice in the matter, I wouldn’t go back into the lamp. I’d prefer to stay here with you.”
Ryouma inhaled sharply, his chest rising and falling faster. A stinging sensation pricked the corner of his eyes.
“Then why can’t you?” Ryouma asked. “Will someone really come here to find you?”
“It’s not unheard of for that to happen,” Nanao said in a quiet voice.
Ryouma wanted to cry now - it really was unfair. How long would Nanao have to stay in the lamp this time before someone else found the lamp and summoned him? Nanao just said, too, that he preferred to stay here with him…
What was he supposed to do? Just hold onto his wish and deal with anything else when it happened?
If only he could use his wish to…
Ryouma sat up straight, his eyes widening and his heart pounding in his throat.
Could that… really be possible?
He stiffly turned to look at Nanao. Nanao met his eyes and smiled.
“What’s with that look for, Ryouma-kun? Are you realizing your secret desire for me?”
Teasing as usual, but Ryouma’s mind was too focused on what he’d just realized to react to the teasing words that would usually have sent a heatwave across his skin.
Seeing there was no reaction, Nanao frowned. “Is there something wrong?”
“Nanao…” Ryouma said. “I think I decided on my third wish.”
Nanao smiled. Although, to Ryouma, there was something wistful beyond his eyes. “Is that so? I’m really curious as to your long-awaited third wish~ it must be a good one, hm?”
Ryouma laughed breathlessly. “I hope you also think so. My wish is… I wish to free you from the lamp, Nanao.”
Nanao froze in place, staring at Ryouma as if he’d wished to grow an extra head instead. He inhaled a breath that appeared to be shaky, and he shook his head, a stunned expression on his face. Then, all of a sudden - he laughed. And laughed, and laughed some more, bending over on the couch to clutch at his stomach.
Ryouma could do nothing but stare, wide-eyed.
“Nanao, you - if it’s not possible, just say so, you don’t have to laugh at me!” he whined.
“No,” Nanao wheezed. “I just didn’t expect you to say that. You’re just too good, Ryouma. I don’t know what to do with you.”
Ryouma felt his face grow red at how Nanao suddenly dropped the honorific.
“Hopefully… accept my wish and stay with me?” he said timidly.
Nanao wiped his eyes, smiling so brightly that Ryouma wondered if he should try to throw a pair of sunglasses into the deal.
“I haven’t heard of a wish like that ever being done before,” Nanao said. “But I don’t see why not - I’m capable of fulfilling any wish a master makes.”
“Oh,” Ryouma said. So there was a chance it wouldn’t work. If so, he wouldn’t care if he wasted his third wish - it was worth it.
“Alright, here goes nothing,” Nanao said teasingly. He closed his eyes, and this time, if possible, the glow was even brighter. Ryouma had to shut his eyes, and the whole room, maybe even his whole apartment, seemed to glow brightly. There was also heat, and a loud noise that he wouldn’t be able to explain in any way other than a crackle, like a clap of thunder.
When the moment was over, Ryouma opened his eyes.
Nanao was standing a distance away in the middle of the living area, looking down at himself.
Ryouma rushed up to him. “Did it work?”
“I don’t know,” Nanao said. “Shall we go see?”
The two of them hurried in the direction of Ryouma’s bedroom, where Nanao walked up to the lamp. As he stared down at it, nothing happened.
“I can’t go back in,” Nanao said, seeming just as shocked as Ryouma was.
“Wow,” Ryouma said breathlessly. “It worked. How do you feel? Are your magic powers gone?”
Nanao blinked, a bit dazed. “I still feel magic within me,” he said. “But I don’t know to what extent.”
“Can you still float?”
Nanao shook his head.
“Oh,” Ryouma said sadly. “Will you miss that? I’m sorry…”
“No, no, it’s perfectly fine,” Nanao said with a grin. “Ryouma… how do I express how grateful I am to you?”
“You don’t need to,” Ryouma shook his head. “I feel like my wish was mostly selfish anyway… because I didn’t want to have to say goodbye to you.”
“Ryouma…” Nanao murmured, his expression awed. “I really want to kiss you right now.”
Oh. Ryouma’s heart leaped up into his throat yet again. His mouth went dry. “You… can,” he said.
And so Nanao did. He stepped forward, put his arms around Ryouma’s neck, and kissed him. It was such a good kiss that Ryouma might not be able to believe that Nanao had never done it before. Maybe he had. But that was a topic for later. Ryouma’s mind was too mushy right now.
Ryouma smiled when Nanao pulled away, knowing he’d want to do that very, very often.
“So… you’re not a genie anymore?” he whispered.
“I think I am,” Nanao said. “But to what extent, I don’t know. I don’t know what I am now, or what magic I still contain, I’ll find out in time, I think. But I will enjoy whatever my new life brings when it’s with you.”
Ryouma beamed. “Me too!”
He reached forward, touching the large bow on Nanao’s chest.
“But first things first… as good as this looks on you, maybe I should let you borrow some of my clothes until we can get you some of your own…”
“Some of my darling Ryouma’s clothes~ we’re like a newlywed couple already!”
Ryouma flailed back. “Ah, there you go again with the teasing!”
But he didn’t mean it in complaint, and as they looked at each other again, they both laughed.