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Oh no, oh no! What was I supposed to do now!?
He could not know that I was here!
I shook my head furiously at Wakaba-chan.
She nodded in understanding before leaving for the entrance.
I’m counting on you, Wakaba-chan!
My palms felt sweaty, and my heart thumped while I waited.
“What’s wrong, Cornet?” Kanta-kun asked.
“I do not want Kaburagi-sama to know that I am here,” I said.
“Why? Don’t you go to the same school?” he asked.
“That is exactly the problem,” I replied.
Lord in heaven, please protect me!
Kanta-kun looked at me for a moment before sinking into thought.
“In that case, let’s watch them in secret.”
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious, so I agreed.
He led the way into Wakaba-chan’s room on the 2nd floor.
“Kanta-kun, is this not Takamichi-san’s room? Should we be here without her permission?”
“It’s fine. Look, I knew they’d be down there.”
Her window overlooked the back of the store, which was where the two of them happened to be chatting.
Wakaba-chan was holding a bouquet that she definitely hadn’t had earlier.
I wonder if Kaburagi had brought it.
The two of us peeped, one-eyed, through the small gap in the window curtains.
“…I haven’t found them yet. But I will.”
“It’s fine, already. I don’t want it to blow up any further.”
From what I heard just now, were they talking about finding the culprit behind the locker?
Ah, but Wakaba-chan didn’t want her family to know about the bullying, so maybe it wouldn’t be good to have Kanta-kun here…
“Did something happen to Neechan?” whispered Kanta-kun.
I hummed noncommittally.
I couldn’t think of anything on the spot.
Maybe I could distract him somehow.
“Say, Kanta-kun? Does he come over often?”
“About once a month to buy cake.”
This was definitely not the last time I was hiding then.
Damned Kaburagi, you sure have been busy in places I wasn’t looking.
Come to think of it, the teddy bear on the shelf over there was his Christmas present too.
“Hey, hey, are Kaburagi-san and Neechan going out?”
“I suspect not, but…”
“But Kaburagi-san definitely likes Neechan, right?”
“Hmmm. Did Takamichi-san say anything?”
“She keeps saying that he doesn’t and gets mad when we bring it up.”
At some point the two of them had started chatting about the break, and the mock exams we had just before it. As expected of our top students.
But although they were talking about studying, for some reason Kaburagi sounded oddly cheerier than usual.
Wow, he even laughed.
Mn, it’s nice being able to talk to your crush, isn’t it.
“By the way, Takamichi, what are you doing over the spring break?”
“Helping out at the store, studying at the library, that kind of thing.”
“I see. Say-”
Whatever it was he was going to say, it was cut off by Natsumi-chan coming back home.
“I’m home. Ah, Kaburagi-san, hello.”
Wow, so you’ve been over enough that her little sister remembers your name, damned Kaburagi.
“Oneechan, Oneechan,” she suddenly said to Wakaba-chan. “Is Coro-chan over?”
For a moment I went blind.
That almost gave me a heart attack.
“Oi! Are you okay, Cornet!?”
Huh. Apparently my eyes had rolled back into my head.
“Coro-chan…?” Kaburagi muttered curiously.
Oww! My stomach!
“Did you have a guest over?” he asked.
“Umm, yeah. Actually, a friend came over today! Nacchan, go inside, okay?”
“I see. A friend came over…” he muttered again.
Hey, you better not be thinking of inviting yourself in as well.
You better not be!
Read the mood, Kaburagi!
“Then I’ll be heading back now.”
He read the mood!
“Thanks for going out of your way to visit. Ah, and for the flowers, too.”
“I was just in the area. Love the cakes, too.”
As if you were just in the area!
And you even brought a bouquet!
Think of a less obvious excuse, Kaburagi!
Huh. But had I not been here, then his plan to spend time work her would have worked.
Kaburagi gave a casual wave to her before getting into his car and leaving.
But wow, that surprise attack from Natsumi-chan really did a number on my stomach.
I decided to ask the whole family to only refer to me as Coro-chan from now on.
And just now Wakaba-chan called me her friend, didn’t she. Do you think she meant it?
After seeing Kaburagi off, Wakaba-chan came back into the house and placed the flowers in a vase.
“Oneechan’s been learning flower arrangement at school. She always teaching me, you know?” her little sister said proudly.
“Hey-! Can you please not say such embarrassing things to Kisshouin-san?” complained Wakaba-chan.
But Natsumi-chan’s next comment sent her into an embarrassed panic.
“Why? You tell us how to drink tea too. Gotta turn the tea bowl in your hands, right?”
So Wakaba-chan had been telling her family about what she learnt at Suiran.
It was nice to know she was enjoying the lessons, then.
Wakaba-chan turned to me and laughed shyly.
“Ehehe, actually I’ve been thinking about taking calligraphy in 3rd year, now that I’ve tried flower arrangement and tea ceremony.”
It was nice that she was looking forward to it, but wouldn’t she just get ink poured on her head?
Natsumi-chan said that she was hungry so Wakaba-chan was going to make okonomiyaki.
Wouldn’t this be the first time in my current life!?Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients which vary based on personal taste, and more widely, region.
Wah, I could see the katsuobushi bonito flakes waving in the steam!
And the smell of the okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise was irresistible!
I loved battered food like okonomiyaki and takoyaki!
Wakaba-chan’s other little brother came home too, so we had a little okonomiyaki party with a hot plate, cooking and then eating, cooking and then eating.
The one that I flipped myself broke apart completely. Why.
Kanta-kun gave me one look and benched me from the cooking team. Sob.
Wow, Wakaba-chan was just demolishing that cabbage with her knife.
“Want one more, Kisshouin-san?”
“No, I am afraid I am quite full. Ahh, but if there are still some ingredients left over, then perhaps just a bite…”
This was so fun.
Being here was so comfortable.
“It feels as though I always make you treat me,” I said apologetically.
Before I knew it, every visit to Wakaba-chan’s house had involved her feeding me.
Just how shameless was I?
Maybe I ought to bring them some nice meat next time.
“Seriously, don’t worry about it~ Everyone has a great time eating with you. Come over again, sometime?”
Geez, if you say something like that I’ll be back over in no time, you know?
“Speaking of which, about Kaburagi-sama…”
“Ahh, yeah. He was in the neighbourhood so he came to buy some cakes. Also he came to tell me that he hadn’t found the culprit behind the locker yet.”
Yes, I know. I was eavesdropping, after all…
“Do you want to find out who it was?”
“Not really. I just don’t want it to get any bigger. I told Kaburagi-kun the same thing, and that he didn’t have to keep looking.”
If he was involved, it was bound to get bigger after all.
“Takamichi-san, what do you think of Kaburagi-sama?”
She looked really startled to hear that.
Should I not have asked?
“Erm, I mean, I was simply wondering what do you thought of his character…”
In the manga she would have already been head-over-heels for him, with story arcs about misunderstandings and overcoming obstacles.
The real pair wouldn’t be overcoming anything, I didn’t think.
“Hmmm~ At first I thought he was really unapproachable, like somebody from a different world, you know? But my impression changed after talking with him for just a bit.”
“How do you mean?”
“Hmmm… Well that time with the car accident he was really earnest with his apologies, and came to take me to the hospital each day.”
“Is that not the normal response?”
“I’m not sure. I guess I was just impressed that he didn’t try to solve it with money and wash his hands of it.”
“We talked quite a bit during those visits. I was surprised that he’d laugh at jokes told by someone like me. I mean, this was the Emperor of Suiran, you know!?”
Yeah, but that nickname came from a children’s cavalry battle.
Not that an External Student like Wakaba-chan would know.
“Anyway, I guess I just felt a bit closer to him after that. It’s a bit strange. He’s usually so mature, but sometimes he acts just like a kid.”
So the way Wakaba-chan saw him was just like the Kaburagi from the manga then.
Don’t tell me he actually had a chance?
She was spinning things in an awfully positive way though.
Rather than “sometimes acts just like a kid” I’d go further and say ‘his mental age is lower than Kanta-kun’s’.
I really wanted to ask if she liked him or not, but that was definitely prying too much.
She looked so startled earlier.
Aah, but I really wanted to know…
“Eh? Nothing. Are you going to be studying at the library during the spring break?”
“Yeah. Hmm? Did I mention that to you? Anyway, the kids are too noisy at home, so I like to study at the library nearby. Sometimes I go a bit further and travel to a bigger library too. Mizusaki-kun told me about it a while back. It’s even got a café.”
“My, Mizusaki-kun did?”
“Do you study with Mizusaki-kun in the library too?”
“Sometimes. Usually I just go by myself though. Ah, but we’re planning on meeting there and studying again.”
Wasn’t that the library date that I was dreaming about for myself?
“The truth is that we’ve been talking about claiming the 1st and 2nd ranks for the Student Council. Taking down the Pivoine and all that. Ah, that was just a joke though! We’re not really trying to overthrow the Pivoine! Sorry, I hope I didn’t offend.”
“Not at all. But Kaburagi-sama and Enjou-sama will be tough to beat, you know?”
The distance between Fellow Stalking Horse and Wakaba-chan is steadily closing without you realising, you know!?
This isn’t the time to be pretending to buy cake, you know!?
“But yeah. Since coming to Suiran, I’ve really realised how different a person can be from your first impression once you talk with them a little.”
“Yeah. When I first entered the school I never would have thought we’d become so close, Kisshouin-san.”
She thought we were close.
Wah, that was really nice to hear.
And earlier she told Kaburagi that her friend was over.
Maybe she really considered me her friend.
“Did I come off as such an atrocious person?”
“That’s not what I thought at all! It’s just that, you know, like Kaburagi-kun you seemed to be like someone from another world.”
“And now? Do you still think of me like that?”
“Nope. Although I can’t quite say you’re from my world either.”
“Oh? I would be overjoyed to consider you a friend, though…”
“Really? Ehehe, to be honest I’ve already considered you one for a long time now.”
I emotionally took her hands into mine.
After that I advised her to change her mind about the calligraphy club and we said goodbye in front of the ticket gates.
“Come again, sometime~ We’ll all be waiting.”
A gale passed us by, and fluttered my hair in the wind.
Ah, my hair kind of smelt like okonomiyaki!
I had better take a bath when I got home.
Still, today was a great day!
I took out my phone while I was on the train and realised I had a message from Kaburagi.
‘I want to talk about what we discussed earlier.’
Heading to Wakaba-chan’s house, and then immediately messaging me about advice, huh?
What a botherrrr.
Don’t tell me he realised that I was Coro-chan!?
Still, as bothersome as this was, I was the one who got in his way today, so I felt just a little bit guilty.
Especially after seeing how happy he seemed to be around her.
I guess Kaburagi wanted to spend time with Wakaba-chan as well.
I decided to be especially generous.
‘Rather than text, let us speak over the phone. It will have to be quick, however.’
His replied said:
‘In that case, let’s take our time and talk at the sakura-viewing party.’
When the hell did I end up RSVP-ing for the Kaburagi family flower-viewing event!?