Several days had passed since the sports festival.
September was still hot, and even a short time outside would make you break a sweat. Well, it was a bit better compared to the scorching heat of summer, but it was still undeniably hot.
“I never expected Ayana to consider it”
It was Ayana’s words about the possibility of becoming the student council president, with the condition that I assist her. It felt like a significant event, considering that Iori had completely given up on it… Well, there was no point in pondering it now.
Today, I had a day off alone, so I was planning to do some casual shopping. However, I turned around at the sound of a familiar voice.
“Shu…and Kotone-chan, huh?”
That’s right, it was Shu and Kotone, siblings. Shu quickly ran over, but Kotone, as expected, didn’t show any reaction and awkwardly averted her gaze.
“What’s wrong? Taking a walk?”
“Yeah. Kotone said she wanted to go for a walk.”
“Reluctantly, huh? You’re so mean, Shu… Right, Kotone-chan.”
Oh, it seems it was too soon for this kind of interaction. Although Kotone didn’t show any signs of disgust even when she looked at me… Well, it was because I made an incomprehensible approach.
Even so, after a brief pause, Kotone stood quietly in front of me and bowed her head.
“…I’m sorry for everything until now.”
Her voice was almost inaudible, but I could clearly hear it. Glancing at Shu, who seemed moved and had moist eyes, I felt tempted to tease him about his sister complex. But more importantly, I wanted to respond to Kotone’s words.
“It’s alright. I can’t say I’m completely unaffected, but you apologized, and that’s enough for me.”
Kotone lifted her head, wearing an uneasy smile. As I watched her, I recalled the times I had seen her gaze and heard her disdainful words. But honestly, I couldn’t care less about that now.
“How to say it… it’s not so bad.”
“Yeah, that’s true. But for me, it’s something I should have realized a long time ago… Well, it’s not really appropriate to say this as the cause, but I guess it’s no use worrying about what’s already done. Bringing it up now might not be the best idea, but Towa wouldn’t want that, right?”
“No doubt about that.”
I don’t consider myself the type of person to dwell on things that were already resolved.
In the first place, it’s about moving forward… Well, with this, all of us remaining have been able to move forward from the past… We may still be immature, but it’s truly profound to think that we were able to start walking together like this.”
“What are you going to do from now on, Towa?”
“I was thinking of casually doing some shopping, but it’s already lunchtime.”
“Yeah, that’s true. How about having lunch together?”
“Is that okay?”
“I don’t mind. What about you, Kotone?”
“I’m fine with it too!”
“In that case… let’s go and not be a bother.”
Walking alongside Shu and Kotone felt refreshing, but even more so, our conversations never ceased between us.
Kotone, who was initially reserved, has also started initiating conversations with me, which is a significant development. And so, we arrived at a famous Chinese restaurant known for its delicious dishes.
“It’s been a while since I had Chinese food.”
“I think it’s been a while for me too.”
“I often come here with my friends. There’s something spicy that I want to order!”
Spicy… I’m a little curious about it.
Entering the restaurant and informing the staff that there are three of us, we took seats around a round table.
“What would you like to order?”
Now, what should we order… Well, it’s been a while, so I’ll go with something classic.
“I’ll have the Five-Ingredient Fried Rice and Gyoza.”
“I’ll have Shoyu Ramen and Gyoza.”
“I’ll have the Five-Ingredient Fried Rice and Mapo Tofu at level four of spiciness.”
Spiciness level… Ah, so this is the spicy one.
While waiting for the menu to be brought and continuing our non-stop conversation, the dishes were finally served.
“…it smells bad, right?”
“Do you think so? It looks incredibly delicious though.”
Indeed, … It looks delicious, but the Mapo Tofu in front of Kotone appears like a blazing red magma… Is she okay?
“Let’s dig in.”
I won’t be eating it myself, so there’s no point in worrying.
However, I was still concerned about Kotone’s reaction to the food, so I glanced at her and Shu laughed, and Kotone proceeded to eat with a crunch without paying attention to my gaze.
“Are you curious? Then I’ll give you a little.”
Using the same spoon… well, whatever.
I scoop up a small amount and bring it closer to my mouth… even though it hasn’t entered my mouth yet, just the smell alone makes my head feel a bit strange. But I gather my courage and take a bite.
Successfully… I’m dead.
“I’ve had such a terrible experience.”
After parting ways with Shu and Kotone, I went shopping again.
There’s still a slight tingling sensation in my tongue, and I’ve learned that I shouldn’t casually eat spicy food. Seriously.
“But… it was fun.”
My best friend and his sister… that’s right.
I can proudly say that Shu is my best friend, and I genuinely consider Kotone as my best friend’s sister.
“And Shu said he’ll help too.”
I told him about Ayana wanting to be the next student council president, and he said he’d be willing to help out if he could.
…Isn’t this exactly what I was hoping for?
“I feel like I’m filling in the gaps on my own.”
I’ve been thinking about it again, and even if Ayana says she won’t do it after all, the groundwork is already laid and things will continue as they are… But if that’s the case, I just need to be there to support her.
I can’t help but feel excited about what will happen from now on.