Tonari no Kuuderera o Amayakashitara, Uchi no Aikagi o Watasu Koto ni Natta - V1 Chapter 7
- Tonari no Kuuderera o Amayakashitara, Uchi no Aikagi o Watasu Koto ni Natta
- V1 Chapter 7 - Date at tea store
Date at tea store
Morning. When Natsuomi entered the classroom and took his seat, Yui was already seated next to him.
“Hey, good morning.
“Good morning, Katagiri-san.”
When Natsuomi greeted her, Yui looked up from her phone and replied curtly. Then she quickly returned her cold gaze to the phone in her hand.
Kei, who had been watching the brief exchange, tapped Natsuomi on the shoulder with deep emotion.
“It’s a great improvement that Villiers is now returning my greetings.”
“You don’t ignore people when they greet you, normally.”
“Not exactly ignoring, but there’s an air of disrespect, right? Just getting rid of that feeling is a big step forward.”
He was laughing while tapping Natsuomi on the shoulder.
It’s true, Yui is not as tense these days like she was in the beginning.
It’s not like she’s chatting with everyone, but she’s always in the girl’s group, and even at lunchtime she’s eating the bread she buys with her girlfriends.
From Natsuomi’s point of view, she was still a bit awkward, but she seemed to have blended in with the class much better than her initial stage.
“Why don’t you be a little more sociable, Natsuomi? You’re sitting next to her, and you’re still technically her caretaker.
“I told you, if Villiers isn’t in trouble, there’s nothing I need to do.”
As Natsuomi turned my face away from Kei and replied, Natsuomi saw the profile of Yui next to me and our eyes met.
Then, as if to turn her eyes away from Natsuomi, Yui suddenly and coldly turned her head to the window on the opposite side of the room.
That’s what Natsuomi said last night.
“Shall we maintain the same distance outside? Or do you want me to call you the same as before, ……?”
Yui, who was drinking tea after dinner, raised an eyebrow at Natsuomi’s suggestion.
“If people knew that Yui came to my house every night and we ate dinner together, it would definitely not be a good story.”
Natsuomi replied, scratching the bridge of his nose as he looked at the ceiling.
In a school where boys and girls of similar age gather, such a story would make for good gossip.
There is no doubt that the rumor will turn out to be a crazy story, and depending on how the rumor gets twisted, it may turn into a problem between special students or foreign students.
He had nothing to be ashamed of, nor was he involved in any kind of illicit sexual activity, but Natsuomi decided that it would be wiser to keep quiet rather than get into trouble.
“Why don’t you just not tell anyone about it?”
“That’s true, but I don’t want to start any troublesome rumors just because you’re close to me.”
“Like, are you guys dating or something along those lines?”
“Oh, …..That’s what you’re talking about.”
Yui’s eyes, which had been furrowed, suddenly relaxed and she turned her gaze downward.
“I don’t care what other people think, and I’m proud of the decisions you’ ve made for yourself. …… But I don’t want you to experience the backlash and constrictions that Yui experienced in England.”
When Natsuomi said this, Yui, who was surprised for a moment, immediately gave a self-mocking chuckle.
“…… Yes, it’s not a very good memory.”
The uncomfortable feeling of being looked at through the lens of a small school community, and the troublesome smell of rumors being spread behind your back.
Natsuomi had also been conspicuous last year simply because he lived alone, so he was more or less aware of the annoyance of such stares.
Yui is a beautiful student who stands out and attracts attention whether she wants to or not.
So, after suffering so much that she had to leave home, she didn’t want Yui to experience the same thing with the gloom of such people.
It was a suggestion based on the decision that it would be better to hide the relationship between Natsuomi and Yui if that was the case.
“I understand what …… you are saying, Natsuomi, and I understand that you are concerned about me. …… But that’s…”
Yui’s small, downcast hand was squeezed tightly.
With an annoyed smile on her face, as if she was trying to hold something back, the words she couldn’t swallow spilled out.
“…… It’s distressing that I can’t seem to get my chest around Natsuomi’s kindness.”
She muttered in a very lonely voice.
“You know, Kei. Do you think there’s anything you shouldn’t bother telling people, even if it’s a good thing?”
The cafeteria at lunchtime. Natsuomi abruptly asked Kei.
Kei froze in his current pose, about to put the soba in his mouth, and looked at Natsuomi, rolling his eyes.
“Hey, hey, what’s with the suddenness? Did you get a secret girlfriend?”
“It’s not like that. It’s from a consultation request I got at my part-time job.”
Kei leaned forward, his onlooker’s mind stimulated, and Natsuomi brushed it off with a reply he had prepared for such an occasion.
Kei replied with a grin, sipping his soba and seriously considering Natsuomi’s question.
“Well, as you know, I’m surrounded by a lot of people who have problems because of my family business. I think that’s the way to get to know people.”
“I wonder if that’s what night work is like for most people.”
“There are a lot of people who are normal, but there are also a lot of people who are not normal. Well, what is normal anyway?”
Kei snickered and laughed as if to say that this was no big deal.
“I think it’s foolish to get involved in things that other people don’t want to talk about. One of the reasons I like Natsuomi so much is because that kind of distance suits me.”
Kei chuckled, and Natsuomi let out a chuckle as well.
Kei has been helping out at home for a long time, so he has a more relaxed and mature way of thinking than most people his age.
Natsuomi knew that he was trying to create a flirtatious character and atmosphere without forcing himself into other people’s lives, and he liked the fact that he was very attentive to the people around him.
Natsuomi doesn’t think he’s quite as mature as Kei, but he doesn’t feel bad when Kei says so.
“Well, in the end, isn’t the question whether keeping quiet about it will protect what’s really important?”
As Kei concluded this, he cowered and continued to sip his soba.
“What’s really important ……?”
Natsuomi muttered as if ruminating on Kei’s words.
The most important thing for him is that Yui can smile and not feel trapped like before.
Even though Yui said she was sorry for him, Natsuomi didn’t meddle with her in the first place because he wanted others to think well of him, nor did he want others to know that.
Or rather than that, Natsuomi didn’ want Yui to live a cramped life.
(…… but then, what’s Yui’s most important feeling?)
Kei’s words brought him to that question, and he thought of Yui’s lonely voice he heard yesterday.
His answer, which had been unclear since yesterday, gradually began to take shape, and he looked up as if he could see what he needed to tell Yui.
“Thank you, Kei. You are an adult after all.”
“If you’re this mature, you won’t have any trouble. Then you can thank me with milk pudding like an adult.”
“All right. I’ll buy you a drink later.”
When Natsuomi replied that he was grateful for her friend’s calm but accurate advice, Kei leaned forward and narrowed his eyes mischievously at me.
“So, You have a girlfriend? At last?”
“I thought you prefer a non-intrusive distance.”
“I’m not going to go out of my way to pry, but it’s not nice to just show glimpses and hide the rest.”
“No, well, when you put it like that, ……”
As Kei said, it would be wrong to just ask for advice and keep the content a secret, so Natsuomi clammed up.
However, he frowned at the idea that he would be the one to break their agreement after Natsuomi had suggested that Yui hide his relationship with her.
“Kidding, kidding. It’s just a little mean, so don’t worry about it. Well, when you’re ready to talk, talk to me. There are plenty of things I haven’t even told Natsuomi, you know?”
Seeing that I was seriously troubled, Kei closed one eye with a refreshingly handsome smile.
A smile appeared on Natsuomi’s lips as he realized that Kei had purposely said that to loosen the air.
“Really, Kei is a good guy.”
“Oh, I’m happy to hear you say that.”
Kei laughed out loud in a joking tone.
Natsuomi tried to learn from his example and kept the advice of my dear friend in his heart.
◇ ◇ ◇
I went to a bench by the river on the opposite side of the station from the school, and found Yui, who had arrived before me, sitting there operating her smartphone.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
When she noticed him approaching quickly, she put the phone she was holding to her blazer pocket and stood up.
“No, I just arrived. I’ll be fine.”
“Let’s go, then. Follow me.”
Yui gave a small nod to Natsuomi and the two of them started walking shoulder to shoulder.
We decided to meet at a place away from the school so that we wouldn’t be seen by our classmates, and after about fifteen minutes of walking, we came to an old-fashioned shopping street called “Bashamichi” by the locals.
The streets are paved with bricks, and gas lamps are used for street lighting, making it a popular tourist destination. It used to be called Bashamichi because of the horse-drawn carriages that used to come and go, but now it is a long shopping street lined with buildings with tenants.
“Sorry to call you on such short notice.”
“No, I don’t have anything special planned, but where are we heading?”
“My sister gave me a discount coupon to apologize for canceling the other day.”
As we walked along the carriage road with Yui, who tilted her head with a hollow expression on her face, we came to an old building that housed the store we wanted to visit.
Natsuomi slowly pushed open the quaint wooden door, which had a sign that read “Toffee” hanging at its entrance.
“Wow …… it smells so good …….”
While looking around the classic-style store, Yui sniffed the elegant scent of tea that filled the store.
The shelves by the wall are lined with dozens of bagged tea leaves, and the refrigerated showcase under the checkout counter is filled with cakes, scones, cookies, and other homemade treats to choose from.
“This is …… a tea shop, right?”
Yui, who was led to a seat, looked around the store with a glint in her eye and muttered.
“Oh, it’s a tea store with a good reputation around here. I didn’t have a chance to come here by myself, and my sister gave me a discount coupon, so I thought I’d take the chance.”
The restaurant, with seating for about twenty people, was packed even for the time of day. There was no doubt that it was popular.
As Natsuomi explained this, he spread out the menu in front of Yui.
“You can order whatever you want for thanks for keeping me company.”
“Thank you for your help. …… In fact, I’m the one who’s always taken care of you. ……”
“I told you it’s mutual. Since you’re here, don’t be shy and order whatever you want.”
When Natsuomi pushed the menu to her somewhat forcefully, Yui looked at it earnestly, her eyes shining with confusion.
Yui also looked at the menu from the other side, but she couldn’t understand what it tasted like even though she saw the sample pictures.
But all of them were reasonably priced despite the high-class pictures, and the atmosphere in the restaurant added to the excitement as a food lover.
“Well, ……, this one.”
Yui’s eyebrows furrowed as she looked back and forth between the menus, desperately struggling to come up with the right one, and then she slowly pointed to the restaurant’s recommended original menu.
“What’s watalappan……?” [TLN: Watalappan info ]
“I’ve never seen it before, but it says it’s recommended by this restaurant and the pictures look delicious.”
The picture on the menu shows something like a cupcake on an iron cup, with the word
“Recommended” in large letters above it. Indeed, it is apparently a specialty of this restaurant.
“I think I’ll have this homemade apple pie then.”
As Natsuomi and Yui put away their menus, a female waiter came to take their order, and they ordered a pot of the recommended herbal tea for their drinks.
As the waiter finished taking their order and walked back to the back of the restaurant, Yui was looking around the restaurant with a fidgety look on her face. The excitement on her face was uncontrollable.
The bewildered expression on her face from earlier has disappeared, and now she looks at the tea cabinet and kitchen with a curious gaze, and sniffs at the faint scent of tea, looking forward to it in a cute way.
Then Yui took out her cell phone as if she had just thought of it and slid her fingertips over it swiftly before giving a small nod.
“Watalappan seems to be what they call Sri Lankan pudding.”
“So the general idea is that it’s a pudding. Do you like it?”
“Yes, I’m very excited.”
Yui nodded excitedly with her lips pursed, and Natsuomi nodded back with her mouth relaxed.
At first Yui asked, “What’s a tap?” But by now, she was very familiar with looking things up on her cell phone.
At first, the messages seemed to be in katakana, but now they sometimes included emotes that the girls in her class had taught her.
While Natsuomi was deeply impressed by the adaptability of the current high school girls, a waiter with a tray came to the table.
“Wow …… that’s amazingly nice ……!”
Yui’s eyes twinkled as she let out a sigh of amazement.
On the table, there was an elaborately designed pot and two matching teacups.
The clear, amber-colored herbal tea poured into a cup smelled sweet with a hint of mint.
The store’s most recommended watalappan was served in an iron cup with vanilla ice cream and syrup on top.
The apple pie in front of me, freshly baked and steaming, was topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream that was melting and very appealing to look.
“You want me to take a picture of your food with my cell phone?”
“Yes, by all means.”
Yui smoothly launched the camera app and pressed the shutter button with an “ei” as she peered at the screen.
With a snap, Natsuomi was photographed from the table.
“No, what are you doing capturing me?”
“What? Is the photo supposed to be of the …… table, by any chance?”
“No, well, isn’t that the way the story goes now?”
“I’m sorry ……, I’m not used to this kind of thing. ……”
Yui’s face flushed red with embarrassment as she took the camera up again to photograph the tabletop.
She then checked the images she had taken, nodded with satisfaction, and pondered seriously as she looked at the photo of Natsuomi that she had taken by mistake earlier.
“Um, ……, do I have to delete this?”
“What? No, not really, but ……, why?”
“No, I thought it would be a shame to erase this photo as a souvenir of my visit here today with Natsuomi-san. ……”
With an apologetic look in her eyes, Yui peeked at Natsuomi as if asking for a favor.
Natsuomi is not a big fan of photography, but he twists his head, thinking that it would be wrong to make her delete the pictures she has already taken.
“If you want to keep it, I don’t mind. ……”
“Yes, I’m happy with keeping it”
Yui smiled happily and put her phone away.
If it was a picture of a cute girl like Yui, it would be a feast for the eyes, but a picture of Natsuomi would just be a waste of memory.
Natsuomi decided to accept it as part of today’s commemoration, and turned my head back to the table.
“Shall we eat then?”
“Yes, let’s eat.”
As usual, we put our hands together and nodded to each other.
Yui picked up a spoon and fearfully scooped up the watalappan and brought it to her mouth, wondering where to start eating.
“Hmmm… ……! Delicious ……!”
She rolled her eyes while covering her mouth, and then immediately put her hands on her cheeks happily, the corners of her eyes melting into a smile.
Three layers of light sweet pudding in a cup and a sponge cake soaked in syrup. The vanilla ice cream and syrup on top of it are a gem that mixes in the mouth and enhances each other with the best flavor.
As if biting into the taste of happiness, Yui savors it, swallows it, and without a pause, takes another spoonful and lets out another small, sweet moan.
“…… Wow, yum.”
Natsuomi also couldn’t help but speak out when he put the apple pie in his mouth.
Rich vanilla ice cream melts into the thin, crispy pie crust, and the still-hot apple red bean paste and custard inside entwine in his mouth.
Then, the aroma and sweetness of the white sugar and cinnamon powder sprinkled on the top of the cake went into his nose, causing even Natsuomi to let out a deep breath of pleasure.
The warm, steamy herbal tea, not too sweet and light, combined with the freshness of the mint, refreshes the palate and makes the knife and fork go faster again.
“Natsuomi, please try this one as well.”
“You should try this one too.”
As they exchanged each other’s plates and each brought a spoon to their mouths, they once again shared the same voices overlapping in delight.
“I’m not surprised they call this a popular restaurant.”
“Yes, I’m surprised at how delicious it is.”
Both of them share their impressions with a rare forward tension.
Seeing Yui smiling with a look of deep-hearted enjoyment, Natsuomi nodded his head in satisfaction.
“You’re finally smiling.”
Yui tilts her head at Natsuomi’s mutterings.
“You’ve been looking depressed ever since we talked yesterday. So I thought maybe if you ate something good, you’d smile.”
Seeing Natsuomi exhale with satisfaction, Yui smiled troublingly, understanding his motive.
“You …… You brought me here to cheer me up.”
Yui lowers her eyebrows and rolls her shoulders with a smile, feeling happy that someone cared about her and apologetic that she had made him worried.
“I felt bad about the way I spoke to you yesterday, so I wanted to make it up to you. I’m sorry for making such a one-sided suggestion.”
“No, there is nothing to be sorry for. I know that you made this suggestion for me. I’m sorry for being so selfish.”
Still smiling a little troublingly, Yui gives a small shake of her head.
As Natsuomi looks down at the table, he slowly opens his mouth, remembering once again what his best friend said to him.
“I thought about it too. I wondered what was most important for Yui.”
“Yeah. For Yui.”
Natsuomi nodded, looking firmly into her blue eyes as he repeated Yui’s words.
Feeling a little embarrassed, Natsuomi faced Yui without looking away from her.
“I just want Yui to smile and live her life. So I thought the most important thing was not to make Yui feel sad.”
“…… Yes. I have already received more than enough help from Natsuomi-san.”
Yui nods hesitantly, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment.
“That’s why if Yui thinks it breaks her heart to hide my kindness… If that’s the case then won’t she keep our thing a secret for my sake?”
“What does …… that mean for you, Natsuomi?”
Yui raises her eyebrows, not understanding what Natsuomi is saying.
With a squeak of his throat, Natsuomi inhales and looks straight at Yui once more.
“Yui thinks of me and feels inferior, doesn’t she? But I don’t want to see Yui’s sad face. So if we’re going to keep us around ‘for my sake,’ I thought you might want to feel a little bit better.”
“Well, that’s just me being selfish.”
Yui’s blue eyes roll slightly.
The most important thing for Natsuomi is that Yui is smiling.
His meddling is only for Yui, and he has no desire for others to know it.
And so Natsuomi earnestly asked Yui to agree, saying “If it’s a request from me then it can’t be helped.”
Hearing this, Yui’s shoulders shook and both eyes narrowed in a gentle smile.
“That’s very aggressive and selfish of you, isn’t it?”
“Oh, I couldn’t be more selfish.”
They both turn to each other with the same troubled smile.
But the cloudiness of Yui’s expression seemed to have cleared up earlier.
“Thank you. After all, Natsuomi-san is very kind.”
“I’m not being nice, I’m just being selfish.”
A giggle and a small laugh spills out between Natsuomi and Yui as they give the same answer to what has been said before.
Yui lets out a long sigh and gently squints both eyes at Natsuomi.
“But it’s a little unfair. If Natsuomi-san talks to me like that, how can I refuse?”
“Well, then I guess I don’t have a choice.”
“Yes. We have no choice, so let’s keep ours a secret between us.”
Yui smiles at Natsuomi as she carefully embraces his selfish quibble.
As we sipped the herbal tea together, our warm breaths leaked out, and we both laughed again.
“I was a little shocked that you thought I was so naive, that I would be in a good mood if you just gave me something good to eat.”
Yui’s lips pouted in a sulking manner as she traced the rim of her teacup and murmured.
“You know, the first time you laughed in front of me was when you ate fried chicken.”
It shouldn’t be, because the food that …… Natsuomi-san makes is delicious. ……
Yui slurred her words and turned her head down as if he had hit a sore spot.
Her swollen gesture was adorable, and Natsuomi cowered his shoulders and scratched the top of his nose.
If that’s the case, then I guess I’ve got a lot of things to deal with.”
Yes, I suppose a lot of things can’t be helped.”
“Anyway, let’s eat what we ordered.”
“Yes, let’s eat.”
With that, Yui takes a spoon and Natsuomi takes a fork and stretches them out on their plates.
Sharing the very sweet and delicious dessert, the two of them savored the dessert as if chewing on the time that passed peacefully.
◇ ◇ ◇
And the next morning.
“Yo, good morning.”
“Good morning, Katagiri-san.”
When Natsuomi greeted his neighbor Yui, who had arrived at school earlier than yesterday, Yui looked up from the phone she was fiddling with and returned a short, curt greeting.
Then he immediately returns his cool gaze to the phone at hand.
Kei, who was watching this series of exchanges, lets out a sigh of relief, just as he did yesterday.
“Look, don’t you have something more to say? Like, what did you have for breakfast?”
“You don’t even talk about that with Kei. Besides, we’re good like this.”
“Villiers is cold like that, isn’t she?”
As Kei and I are having the same exchange as yesterday, Yui glances to the next side.
Then, with a smile on her lips that only Natsuomi could see, Yui turned her head to look out the window on the opposite side of the room from Natsuomi, just as she had done yesterday.