Chapter 1: It Begins
"So, do you understand your position?"
I look up from the files on my lap to the suited woman smirking in front of me, then back at the files. Then to the woman again. And then at the files once more.
I groaned and palmed my face. "I can't believe this is really happening."
Her smirk got even smirkier, if such a thing was possible. Somehow I just knew her eyes were glistening with amusement behind her sunglasses. Why was she even wearing them, anyway? We were inside of a car with tinted windows, for chrissakes.
"You're stuck with this, dimensional traveler or not. Because the circumstances of your… arrival to this world is unique, you're technically a part of the Cultural Exchange Between Species Program."
"But I'm a goddamn human!" I shouted indignantly. I didn't care how whiny I sounded, this was just bullshit! "I don't see why you get to just throw me at some random host who has way too much on his hands already! I mean, seriously," I looked back at the files she'd given me, "He has three fucking liminals that he's hosting! Three!" Not to mention that I was already keenly aware that that number would only grow soon enough.
"He's shown to be quite capable of handling them," she replied coolly, pushing up her sunglasses, before another smile crossed her face. "Besides, I figure he'd need a… ah, male companion to help balance things out over there."
"More like just shoving your problems on to someone else," I grumbled, folding my arms and leaning back into the leather chair. Actually, that was pretty comfy. I decided to stay there; hopefully I'd be better able to argue my case like that. "Are you actually going to look for a way to send me home in the meantime?"
"Of course, of course," she answered, waving a hand dismissively. "We've got top men on figuring out the strange phenomenon that sent you here in the first place. But until then." That damn smile returned, and I could practically feel the evil intent oozing out from it. "Do as you're told, okay?"
The real message was loud and clear. 'I could make your life a living hell if I wanted to, so be a good boy so I don't have to do more work.'
Christ. The quicker I got away from Smith, the better.
"Yeah, yeah," I said, trying not to sound too afraid from her blatant threat. "So, 'technically', what is my job here?"
The terrifying aura that Smith had emanated evaporated entirely, as if it'd never been there. With a noticeably less-terrifying smile, she picked up one of the files on my lap. On it was a picture of my alleged host. "'Technically', you're supposed to be an assistant host, helping Darling-kun with any and all tasks around the house as he sees fit. Help the girls out with any problems, at their own discretion, of course. Be careful not to fuck them, though."
If I'd been drinking something, I would've spat it back out on her face. As it was, the double-take I made almost snapped my neck.
"The hell?" Where did that come from? "Fuck them? Why would you even say that?!"
"Because it is illegal. And the girls are quite attractive, so I wouldn't blame you if you succumbed to your baser desires."
I stared at her blankly. Trying to wrap my head around this… whatever it was. "Pardon me if I'm wrong, but the girls consist of:," I cleared my throat, "A lamia, harpy, and a centaur." And due to my… unique circumstances, I knew that there'd also be a mermaid, arachne, dullahan, and a slime, of all things. I took a breath and looked at Smith evenly. "I don't think you need to worry about me sleeping with any of them."
"I just thought I should let you know." For God's sake, why does she have to keep smiling like that?! At that, she handed me back the file on 'Darling-kun', whose real name was actually Kimihito Kuruso. Gotta love those alliterative names.
"Thanks," I said dryly, replacing the file along with the others on each of the girls back into a folder. Still, something was bothering me, eating away at the back of my mind. "Why did I get the feeling you're not telling me everything?"
Smith tilted her head coyly. "Whatever would give you that impression, Juyo-kun?"
That fake name still took some getting used to. I still didn't know why the government slapped the name on me, since my real name wasn't exactly a reality-breaking pair of words that would fundamentally shatter the poor commoners' views on their dimension. But whatever.
"If you're going to be obtuse about it, never mind." The car suddenly jerked to a stop. Smith sighed and peered outside.
"Well, looks like we're finally here," she said, "Be a dear and open up the door for me, would you?"
"You could phrase it a little better you know." Despite my whining, I acquiesced. I could've sworn I saw her wink behind those sunglasses before she stepped out into the light. With a suffering sigh, I followed. The daylight was briefly too bright for my eyes, making them tear up as I lifted a hand to shade them. Once that faded, I saw a distressingly familiar sight.
What lay before me really was the Kuruso household. Unreasonably large for what was originally intended for a family of three, the place seemed like a mansion in comparison to the surrounding houses.
"Fuck, I really am in Monster Musume," I muttered under my breath.
"You still complaining over there?" Smith asked, turning back to face me. She'd already begun walking toward the house.
"Kind of," I answered, joining her. "So, what about my personal stuff? Because I've got, like, no clothes or anything besides what I'm wearing." I tugged at the bottom of my black 'Rex Ready' t-shirt for emphasis. That, my glasses, and my jeans were really all I had to my name now.
"Oh, that's all been provided for," Smith replied with a dismissive wave. "The Exchange compensates those under its care very well, so you'll find everything you need inside."
Well, as a very recent college graduate, I could hardly say no to free stuff. Even if it meant having to handle the odd habits of a bunch of monsters, or 'liminals', which seemed to be the PC term around here.
Smith rang the doorbell, which chimed a pleasant tune that echoed inside. It didn't take long for someone to answer. The door opened wide, revealing one of the most generic men I've ever seen in my life. When he saw us, a weary smile crossing his clean-shaven face, as if he were already resigned to whatever was about to happen.
"Ah, Smith-san," he greeted, "I didn't expect you. Um, we just had breakfast, sorry."
"Damn," she cursed under her breath, before clearing her throat and laying her hands on her hips. "Well, Darling-kun, do you remember what we talked about over the phone last night?"
He blinked at her and pressed a finger to his chin. "Um… oh! It was about the assistant host, right?" He turned to me. "Is this him?"
"Yo," I greeted, offering my hand. "Juyo Janai. Nice to meet you."
"Hello," He smiled and took it, shaking once before letting go, "I'm-"
"Darling-kun," Smith interrupted with a cheeky grin. She stepped beside the two of us, slapping a hand on each of our shoulders. "You two will be coworkers from now on."
Damn, she didn't having to hit me that hard. I rubbed at my sore shoulder, though Kuruso seemed unfazed. "I still think this situation is a bit contrived on your end…" I grumbled at her.
True to form, Smith just really, really didn't give a fuck. "Well, it's not like you have much of a choice, do you, Juyo-kun?" she responded with that same damn smile. Was she always like this in the show? "Well, if both of you already know the details, then I leave this in your capable hands, Darling-kun!"
She was already halfway out the door before I could call after her. "Hold on, Smith-san!" Look at me, properly using honorifics in an actual conversation. Putting all those weeb skills to use. "Isn't there more of a procedure to this then just dumping me at the door?!"
"You'll be fiiiiiiine," Smith answered without looking back or an ounce of shame, "Besides, who knows, you may be out of here by tomorrow." She half-turned, lowering her sunglasses for the first time to look at me. For once, her smile didn't seem condescending. "So just enjoy yourself, 'kay?"
At that, I didn't really have a response. I was joined by Kuruso while I watched her black sedan drive off. "So, Janai-san," he said with an easy-going smile, "Shall we head in? The girls will want to meet you, I'm sure."
Oh right, I'd almost forgotten that I was about to walk into a harem. Hoo boy.
"Yeah," I answered profoundly, and we both made our way back to the house. "So, uh, Kuruso-san, I dunno what Smith-san told you or anything…"
"Not much, I'm afraid," Kuruso said, laughing sheepishly, "Something about dimensional travel, but honestly it all went over my head. She did say you were remarkably qualified for helping me out, though, which frankly would be really, really nice-"
Goddammit Smith. "She lied," I told him, since I'd rather clear up any miscommunication right off the bat. Seeing Kuruso's resulting crestfallen expression did make me feel a little bad about the bluntness, though. "I mean, I'm not gonna be a dick and not help at all, just don't expect anything special, alright? I'm pretty average as far as dimensional travelers go."
Kuruso sighed. "Fair enough. The honesty's appreciated." We slipped off our shoes and stepped into the massive foyer. "We can talk more about it after you meet the girls."
"Right," I said as he walked ahead of me, going toward where I assume the kitchen was. When he was far enough away, I let out a deep breath, steeling myself for my first encounter with real-life monster girls.
"I have no idea what I'm doing." With a sinking feeling that that would become my mantra in the coming days, I followed him.
Chapter 2: Meet and Greet
"So, here's our new houseguest, Juyo Janai-san. He'll be an assistant host until he returns to his home." Kuruso introduced me right as I walked through the door.
I had already raised a hand in greeting, but the instant I saw them, the prepared "Yo!" had died in my throat. I'm not gonna lie, my stomach lurched once I laid eyes on the one thing that made this universe unique from the one I called home.
They were real. I mean, I knew that once I saw where I'd ended up, but I only ever saw them as pictures on informational pamphlets, where they just looked like really well-done photoshops, but holy shit! Monsters were real! Isn't that just the raddest shit?!
"Gk," I said, even as my eyes widened more and more, as if to take in as much of them as I could.
"Nice to meet you, Janai-san," Miia welcomed, bowing slightly. Her lower body was coiling beneath her in a reserved position, the slick red scales shining in the daylight. "Please call me Miia!"
"Mk," I greeted in turn.
"I'm Papi!" cheered a certain childish-looking harpy, pumping her blue-feathered wings into the air. Her sharp talons scraped at the floor as she fidgeted about. "Papi the harpy!"
"Sk," I replied. My heart pounded in my chest while I tried to process what I was seeing.
"And I am Centorea," said the last of the three with a dignified voice full of a steely resolve that… really didn't fit the situation at all. My eyes briefly darted to her ample chest and I couldn’t help but wonder if she had back problems, but that was swiftly forgotten once I saw her notably equine lower body and noted that she was a freaking centaur. "Any help you can provide for our Master will be greatly appreciated."
"S-s-o c-c-c…" Come on, man, say something! You only get one first impression, so stop fucking it up!
"Um, Janai-san?" Kuruso asked, looking at me with a worried expression. "Are you okay?"
Papi tilted her head, blinking in confusion. "Did we bake him somehow?"
"I think you meant 'break', Papi," Centorea corrected.
Huh. How did I just know she used the wrong 'break' there?
Now, what was I doing? Oh right, freaking out. Alright, I can do this, just take a deep breath and give a proper greeting three, two, one…
"So COOOOOOOOL!" was what I ended up shouting instead. You know what, fuck it. I'm allowed to be excited with seeing fantastical creatures that I never dreamed would become real, right?
Said fantastical creatures plus Kuruso flinched at my sudden raised voice. Their reactions caused my face to heat up to almost intolerable levels, so I coughed to try and alleviate the sheer awkward permeating the room.
"Um, I mean." There you go, baby steps. "Um, hi! I'm Juyo Janai, though you knew that already since Kuruso already said that, so, uh…" Get it together, get it together. Explain yourself, they'll appreciate the honesty. "Yeah, sorry about that freak-out. I've never seen a liminal before, so it was kind of a shock."
"Oh, that's okay!" Miia assured me, waving a hand as if to blow away my apology. Her smile still had a nervous edge to it, however. "As far as first reactions to us go, yours was pretty tame! I don't remember anyone saying 'cool' quite like that before, though."
"Well, honestly the fact that your species' exist at all is incredible to me," I explained, scratching the back of my head and feeling self-conscious. "My home doesn't have anything like you."
"Really?" Centorea asked, folding her arms underneath her… Jesus, those things were huge. There was no way she could be comfortable like that. "Master said something about you being a dimensional traveler. So your dimension doesn't have any liminals?"
They're taking this remarkably well, I thought, before I remembered just what universe I was in. It was probably a lot easier to accept weird shit like traveling between dimensions when things like dullahans and devils were walking around as members of society. Thankfully, there seemed to be a high tolerance for this sort of thing.
I nodded. "Yeah. Or at least they haven't been discovered or revealed to the public yet." I shrugged. "Point is, just seeing you guys is pretty awesome. Technically, or just according to Smith-san, I'm a liminal, too, because of my unique circumstances, so here I am."
"Boss is hosting you, too?" asked Papi.
"Kind of?" I answered, looking at Kuruso, who simply shrugged. "More like I'm an assistant host." And not a part of the harem, thank you very much. "I'll be helping him out with stuff around the house. Cleaning, cooking, laundry, whatever you guys need assistance with, crap like that."
Papi gasped and looked at me with wide, glee-filled amber eyes. "So you're Glass Boss!" she declared.
"Huh? Oh." My hand reflexively moved to my glasses, pushing them back up the bridge of my nose. "Uh, yeah, I guess so." As far as nicknames went, it was hardly the worst I'd been called back in the college. Lord willing, no one from this universe would ever find out about those.
Centorea nodded with a smile. "Very well then, we will graciously accept any help you have to offer, Janai-sama."
Ehhhhhhh. That "sama" was a bit much, though it really shouldn't surprise me considering she called Kuruso "Master". I could live with it.
"Wait," Miia spoke up, fingers kneading the hem of her shirt as her coils fidgeted about anxiously. "If they made you an assistant, does this mean that Darling won't be around as much?" I could already see the beginnings of big ol' tears coming down her face and I felt the separation anxiety leaking into her voice. At her words, Papi and Centorea both looked concerned at the thought.
Christ, it's almost like they couldn't even function before he entered their lives.
As if on cue, Kuruso stepped in to assuage their fears."Nothing like that, Miia! He'll just be taking some pressure off of my workload, so I'll have more free-time to spend with you guys!"
The words worked like magic, instantly making all three monster girls have dreamy and excited expressions on their faces. I had no clue if that was the intended effect or not, but I had to give him props for that.
"Well, anyway," I cut in, turning toward Kuruso, "Where's my room? I'd like to get settled in before too much else happened."
He nodded and pointed back the way we came. "Just head up the stairs and it's the second room on the left. Right next to mine, actually."
"Awesome, thanks." I waved at the girls as I turned to leave. "Well, it was nice meeting you all!"
Miia, surprisingly, was the first one to snap herself free from whatever Darling-filled daydream she was experiencing and waved back with a wide grin, revealing cute little fangs. "Bye-bye, Janai-san!"
I walked back out into the main hallway and let out a deep breath. Well, that didn't go too bad, all things considered. I thought I'd been prepared to see real-life monsters, but I suppose it couldn't be helped. Besides, it was pretty fucking cool seeing a lamia, harpy, and centaur in the flesh! What kind of self-respecting nerd wouldn't think that was cool? I was sure my friends back home would think they were cool, at least. Would've been nice to have them around, too…
I shook my head, brushing those dark thoughts away. Moping wouldn't help. If I could enter this universe, it stood to reason I could eventually leave it, right? Right?
Crippling doubts and the fear that I would never return home aside, I made my way to my designated room. Kuruso's directions were simple, and soon enough I found myself in a surprisingly spacious bedroom. The furniture consisted of a queen-sized bed right below the window, a small wooden desk to the right, and a closet filled with clothes were conveniently my size. Well, at least Smith made good on that promise.
I collapsed on the bed, letting out a content sigh as I sank into the soft covers. Yeah, maybe this wouldn't be so bad. It wasn't like I'd been brought to an overwhelmingly-hostile universe where mankind was threatened with extinction. I didn't have to fight or struggle to survive. All I had to do was clean up the house every now and then. All things considered, there were far worse places to end up. And at least I had this room as a sanctuary, completely disconnected from the craziness outside-
"M-M-Master, are you okay?!"
"I'M SO SORRY, DARLING! DARLING?! DARLIIIIIIIIIIING!"
This was going to be a thing, wasn't it?
With a heavy sigh, I pulled myself up and left the room with the grim determination of a soldier marching to war.
"All right, Monster Musume," I said under my breath as I began my first day as assistant host of the Kuruso household. "Let's see just how much bullshit I can tolerate before I leave."