Mandarin Orange, Kotatsu, And A Found Cat - Chapter 74 The Two’s Determination
With Ayano-san leading the way, the shopping proceeded smoothly, and Sakakibara’s and my luggage grew steadily as well.
I wasn’t worried about the money, but I was worried that Mashiro might be tired after all the walking.
Then after an hour of shopping, it was time to have lunch.
…And I also thought that it would be nice to have someplace to talk about Mashiro in a relaxed atmosphere, perhaps with lunch.
In order to create an opportunity to talk about Mashiro, I tried to talk to Mashiro.
“You’ve done a lot of walking, are you tired?”
“No, I’m fine, but Satou-san is more tired than I am…”
Then Mashiro’s eyebrows furrowed apologetically as she looked at the results of today’s work in my hands.
“Don’t worry about that. I just thought it might be a good time to have lunch.”
“I understand. Well, the other two are…”
Mashiro looked at them, and the two who seemed to have been listening in on our conversation smiled and nodded.
We immediately started talking about where to go and what to eat, but I was selfish to decide where to go.
There may have been a food court in the outlet mall, but we decided to go to a family restaurant a little further away. The reason went without saying.
While we were moving to our destination, I said Mashiro so that Sakakibara and Ayano-san would not hear us.
“Mashiro, I’m thinking of talking to you about that after lunch…Is that a problem?”
“No, I’m okay with that.”
Mashiro didn’t seem particularly scared and replied in the same tone as usual.
I was thinking that depending on how she was doing, I could to do it a little later, but it seemed she was already well prepared.
“Ah…but I’m still a little worried.”
“R-Really? If that’s the case, we don’t have to—”
“No, that’s not it. What I’m worried about is…”
Mashiro pointed at my face with an expression of concern, or rather dismay, on her face. She extended her finger and placed it on the tip of my nose.
When I froze at the suddenness of it, she gave a small, amused smile.
“Satou-san’s face is more tense than mine though?”
“…I-Is that so?”
“Yes, to a point.”
“…I’m sorry about that.”
“I told you that in the morning. I’m fine, so don’t look so stiff.”
I was supposed to be caring for her, but apparently, I had caused her to worry about me.
It was often said that parents can only worry about their children, but at this rate, I was no more than a guardian.
“I’m sorry for being such a pathetic adult.”
“You’re not pathetic, Satou-san. You are kind, serious, and cool.”
“I-It’s not that big of a deal…”
Mashiro followed me, but her voice became thinner in the second half, and she turned her face down in embarrassment.
Because she was acting like this, it was even more embarrassing for me who was given the compliment.
I’ve been thinking about it…being told to my face that I’m cool, and I was thinking the same thing this morning when Mashiro said the same thing to me.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been hit with such a rare word without hesitation, and it really doesn’t matter how many hearts I have to endure it.
“Hey, you two. Hello?”
The sudden voice brought Mashiro and me back from our own thoughts.
I found myself arriving at our destination and Sakakibara and Ayano-san were looking at me with stunned faces.
“It’s good that you two are so into each other, but don’t forget about us, okay?”
After me, Mashiro also apologized.
Neither of them was really angry or in a bad mood, but Ayano-san’s lips were pouting and she looked unhappy.
“You’re usually all over Satou-kun, so why don’t you give us some attention today, or would he sulk?”
“I-I’m not a-all over him…”
“But, like us, you two live together, don’t you?”
Living together… You don’t often use such words to describe living with an animal, but to others, living with Mashiro now would be unmistakably described as living together.
But that doesn’t mean that Ayano-san is saying that I’m bluffing…No, yes. I don’t think so.
“On weekdays, Satou-san is at work, so it’s not like we’re together all the time, you know?”
“Fufu. So what about the rest of the time? Satou-kun.”
Ayano-san, who was talking to Mashiro with the same smirk on her face as ever, suddenly passed me the ball.
As Mashiro said, of course, I was at work during the day on weekdays, so Mashiro was home alone. So I want to spend as much time with her as I can during the rest of the day.
“Well, basically, I don’t think there’s a time when I’m not with Mashiro except during work.”
I feel comfortable with Mashiro just by being in the same space with her. At least that’s how I felt, and I think she felt the same way.
Even if I don’t have any particular conversation to have with her, or even if we don’t do the same thing…Nowadays, I can’t imagine my life without Mashiro.
“Wow, that is basically every day…that is the same thing as she was all over you.”
“You shouldn’t give off that expression. Even you two are no different.”
Ayano-san was always quick to take a bite out of this kind of topic. When I said this back to her, Sakakibara was quiet for some reason and Ayano-san made a proud face.
I guess that was a difference in experience, and there was clearly too much room for difference.
Even though they were my friends, it was not my place to say anything about it from the standpoint of an outsider, so I won’t say it, but I think these two would probably have a good relationship even if they became married.
Compared to that, the relationship between me and Mashiro may still be unstable.
We understand each other’s feelings, and of course, we trust each other. But it was a secret relationship between the two of us.
Of course, I don’t think it was in Mashiro’s best interest to go around telling everyone about her situation.
However, I thought that it would have a positive effect on Mashiro if it was only with someone she trusted. That was why we had set up this time today.
Just as I was diving into a sea of thoughts, Mashiro suddenly grabbed my hand and brought me back to consciousness.
She had a beautiful, well-defined face that I could see again and again. As I continued to stare into her orange-colored eyes, which were like the setting sun, I found myself almost being drawn in.
I stared straight back at Mashiro’s serious gaze and grasped her hand in return.
And then, for what seemed like the hundredth time today, I regained my momentum and walked into the family restaurant.