A Neat and Pretty Girl at My New School Was a Childhood Friend Whom I Used to Think That She Was a Boy and Played With Her - Chapter 24
Everything that had been going on in Hayato’s mind was now connected at once.
The Mimicry, her convenience store lunches, frozen food, this living room in a house with no lights on, and an only child.
The only things in Haruki’s room were games, manga, plastic models, and other things that would allow her to spend time alone.
“Ah, Hayato, you see, the thing is. It’s just that, that thing is…”
Haruki’s eyes swam, and she tried to cover it up by waving her hands in the air and calling it a thing.
Thinking back, Hayato had never seen anyone other than Haruki in this house. Not even a hint of it. Haruki must have been alone in this house for many years now.
But now she’s smiling and trying to act like she’s fine.
Hayato thought that it was,
he disliked it.
He was annoyed with himself for not realizing it sooner.
“…Let’s go, Haruki.”
“Eh, hey, Hayato! Wait, where are we going…?”
Hayato turned off the stove that was boiling water and forcibly took Haruki’s arm.
From Haruki’s point of view, Hayato’s face looked as if he was angry, and she tried to raise her voice, but the end of her words became smaller and smaller.
“Onii, Haru-chan, what’s wrong?”
Haruki’s voice was too loud, and Himeko came to see what was going on.
What Himeko saw was Hayato forcibly pulling on Haruki’s arm. This is the older brother who is trying to take the beautiful girl he grew up with away from home.
As expected, she wanted to say something, but stopped when she saw Hayato’s face.
His face was very stern and strong-willed, as if he wasn’t going to listen to anything she had to say. However, Himeko knew that her brother’s face in this kind of situation meant that he was thinking of her, and that she could rely on him.
“Himeko, let’s stop at the supermarket and go back home.”
“Yeah, okay. I’ll get my stuff together.”
Haruki was pulled along by her childhood friend’s siblings without saying a word, without understanding why.
She didn’t know why this was happening.
But Haruki knew that they were doing it for her, and strangely enough, she didn’t feel bad.
“Umm, can I change my clothes first…?”
“Do you want to wear your uniform?”
By the way, Haruki’s request to let her change into casual clothes was rejected by Himeko with a huge smile.
A ten-story family apartment building a short distance away from Haruki’s house.
In the kitchen of her childhood friend’s house on the sixth floor of the building, the items she had just bought at the supermarket were laid out.
Haruki, who had been forcibly brought in by Hayato and Himeko, was unable to grasp the situation.
“I’ll chop up the vegetables, and you grate up the garlic and ginger.”
“Un-der-stood! Haru-chan, can you get the bowls and seasonings?”
“Eh, yeah… where is it?”
She knows what they want to do. She can tell that it was for dinner.
But she didn’t understand why this was happening and what exactly they were going to make.
Haruki did as Hayato and Himeko asked and helped with the cooking.
(Hayato, you’re really good at this…)
It was the first time for Haruki to see Hayato cook, and even from a layman’s point of view, she could tell that he was quite skilled.
Regardless of Haruki’s feelings, the cooking proceeded.
Minced pork, chopped chives, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, green onions, shiitake mushrooms, grated garlic and ginger, salt and pepper, soy sauce to taste, kneaded together to make the bean paste.
The bean paste was made by grating and kneading the ingredients together. When she was presented with a round crust made of flour, she knew exactly what they were going to make.
“Gyoza? It looks like a lot of food for that.”
“It’s a lot of work to make, so I thought I’d make as much as I could when I had the time and freeze the rest.”
“Oh, you’re making your guests help you?”
“Because it’s Haruki.”
“Because it’s me… Fufu~, I see.”
The three of them silently wrapped the red bean paste for the gyoza.
Haruki took a while to get the hang of it at first, but once she mastered it, her excellence as a student could be shown, and Hayato was impressed with her dexterity.
Among them, only Himeko was able to mass produce distorted gyoza objects.
“S-Shut up! I just want Onii to make it for me!”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that…”
That didn’t stop Himeko from making the gyoza, and the smiles on all three of their faces showed that they were enjoying the process.
The gyoza is then steamed in a hot pan with oil and water with flour dissolved in it to make a beautiful feathered gyoza.
Rice, miso soup, and the pickled eggplant that Minamo Mitake had given him the other day were all that was needed for dinner.
Haruki exclaimed in amazement when she saw it laid out in the dining room. An inexplicable feeling of elation welled up in her chest.
“Itadakimasu~… Ah, it’s hot! Onii, water!”
“What are you doing, Himeko… aren’t you going to eat it, Haruki?”
“Oh, yes. I’ll have some.”
Himeko was making a fuss about the heat, and Hayato was taking care of the water.
Haruki looks at them and puts the gyoza in her mouth.
“It’s still hot, but delicious.”
It tasted awfully good and nostalgic. It had a special taste.
Thinking back, it had been a long time since Haruki had sat around the table with someone like this.
One by one, the chopsticks moved forward, and before they knew it, there were only a few gyoza left on the platter, and Haruki and Himeko were fighting over them.
“Eat the rice, too.”
“Because Haru-chan’s got the energy!”
The dinner went on with this silly, childish exchange, and Haruki could feel her stomach as well as her heart filling up.
(Oh, I see. I guess I’m weaker than I thought…)
That’s probably why Hayato brought himself along.
But Hayato didn’t know what to say, so they sat around the table like this. ‘He was a clumsy guy’, she thought with a chuckle. Suddenly, she felt tears welling up in the corners of her eyes.
Hayato looks at Haruki’s face and says, scratching his head, as if he’s having trouble saying something.
“Well, you know… it’s basically just Himeko and me for dinner most of the time. So, if it’s okay with you Haruki, why don’t you join us for dinner from now on?”
For a moment, Haruki didn’t understand what was being said.
What about Hayato and Himeko’s families? Many things came to her mind such as the fact that Hayato and Himeko had families, or that they were good cooks.
But what came out of her mouth was a pure question.
Haruki didn’t know why they were doing this much for her. She was confused by the favor that had been shown to her.
For Haruki, who had always been subjected to feelings of calculation and lust behind kindness, it was terribly confusing.
Haruki herself has many feelings, some of which she cannot express directly. There are things she can’t say, and she’s sure Hayato is curious about them too.
But he didn’t say anything, and she didn’t know why he would say such a thing to her and reach out to her… and do so much for her.
“It’s because you’re Haruki… Our friend.”
But what came back to her was such a simple reason― it struck a chord within her, and something that had been floating in the corners of her eyes fell out and ran down her cheeks.
“I see, it’s because it’s me.”
“Do I owe Hayato for this?”
“You don’t really owe me anything.”
“Okay, I promise.”
Having said that, the somewhat blunt Hayato and the mischievous smiling Haruki intertwine their little fingers.
There are things they can’t say to each other. But there were things that could be conveyed without saying.
“Goodness gracious, you two are as close as ever…”
Himeko looked at the two of them with a dumbfounded and slightly envious look in her eyes.