Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
After looking around the grocery store, we move to the pet shop in front.
“Wow, awesome! It’s a Greyhound, a Greyhound! It’s big, no, it’s huge!”
“Fufu… It has a dignified face, doesn’t it?”
While Shirayuki and Sakura went to the “doggie corner” in the center of the store, I wandered off on my own.
Walking through the food section for cats and dogs, past the reptile exhibit, and past the tropical fish, I reached the best place to go.
“Hell yeah, it’s still here.”
This pet store was huge, so of course, it had that… Of course, it had that!
The Chinchilla Corner!
Standard Grey, Pied, Cinnamon, Black, Velvet… Strong eyes, good fur, healthy-looking. They are all pretty well taken care of. Oh, they have the long-haired Angora, that’s rare.
Since chinchillas are pretty much nocturnal, many of them slept soundly at noon – in the wild, that is. These small little babies here, in the shop, are active even during the day. Actually, the little one in front of me ate grass with both his hands while the sharp-eyed one sitting at the far right played with sand.
Heh. Heh, heh… Heh, heh, heh….
This is invigorating. Small animals are great.
Our rundown apartment doesn’t allow pets, so we couldn’t dream of getting one. In the future, when I get my dream 3 bedroom apartment, I’ll definitely create a little animal space.
Having replenished my supply of chinchillas, I walked back to Shirayuki and Sakura while admiring the ferrets and momongas (TL: Japanese flying squirrel) beside me.
Now, where are they, huh… Found them.
After a moment of looking around, I found them at the “Nyan Nyan Touching Corner.”
“Rubby, rubby~. They are so cuuuuute. Come here, rubby, rubby!”
Sakura held a furry cat in her arms while squeaking strange noises, just as always. Well, she probably had no concept of shame.
Shirayuki kneeled down, almost sitting on the floor, while looking embarrassed. She waved gently to the black cat sitting in front of her.
The “Snow White & Black Cat” pair was… Certainly a nice contrast. It was endearing, for sure.
I decided to gently call out since I didn’t just want to sit and watch.
Shirayuki immediately stopped her cat speech, awkwardly turning around and coughing.
“C-Cough. Kuzuhara-kun, If you just pop out so suddenly like that, you’ll scare someone.”
“Sorry. Didn’t know you’d be so surprised—nyan~.”
Her cheeks reddened, and she poked my shoulder repeatedly.
“Sorry, sorry, I was joking!”
Shirayuki didn’t show many openings, so at the sight of an unexpected opportunity, I just had to play a little prank on her.
Just as we went back to interacting with the cute animals in the shop, a sharp glare stabbed me in the back.
I turned around vigorously, but no one was there.
“… No, it’s nothing.”
When I turned around, I caught a snapshot of the scene. I checked every inch, everything about that scene in my head, but I couldn’t see anyone suspicious in it.
… Was it my imagination? No, but how…
As I was deep in thought, someone patted my back.
“Hey, Kuzuhara-kun. Take a look at that.”
Sakura pointed at the lingerie corner, where some very… revealing women’s underwear was on display.
“Ha, ha, ha! You’re turning red, aren’t you? Yaaay! Kuzuhara-kun, you’re such a perv~!”
Why do these clothing stores sell women’s underwear so openly like that? As I turned away from that store, a tremendous bomb is dropped out of nowhere.
“Oh yeah, Shirayuki-san often wears cute ones with pretty little laces like these—”
“—I’ll blow you up, okay?”
Shirayuki’s smile was cold—very, very cold.
“I-I’m very sorry…”
It was an unusually sincere apology, coming from Sakura. Judging from her reaction, there was no malice on her words, she just spits out whatever her mind was thinking about.
Her natural airheadedness is just, wow… Hinako Sakura, what a terrifying woman.
As I thought these things, I felt a meek tug on my sleeve.
“U, um… Kuzuhara-kun… A-About what Sakura-san said…”
“Ah, don’t worry about it. I forgot what she said.”
I told a gentle lie on the spur of the moment—She didn’t believe in me at all.
“I-I’m… A little more mature than that…”
Her face turned deep crimson as she confessed something very absurd.
“N-No! It’s okay, it’s okay! I’m innocent, and I’ve forgotten everything, okay?”
After our wolly antics, time flew by fast—It was 5:30 PM.
Since it was almost time to leave, we’d take a commemorative photo and part ways.
“Heh, I didn’t know photo booths were still a thing. You’re still here, huh…”
“If I recall correctly, this huge booth is used to take pictures, right? Isn’t a cellphone camera enough, then…?”
“What are you two talking about? Photo booths are still very much in use, and there’s something special about them! Come on, let’s go!”
We each put 100 yen into the booth and went inside it.
I’ve never been here before, but it’s a lot bigger than it looks from the outside…
The photo booth’s interior was shaped like a Hinadan (TL: Kind of like a small staircase with Hina-dolls on the steps), which made it very easy to take group photos with 5 or more people, because of the small steps.
“I’m short, so let me take the photo from the back!” Sakura said as she jumped on the Hinadan.
Well, in school group photos, the short ones are always in the front row.
I don’t know anything about that, though.
“Here, here, Shirayuki-san and Kuzuhara-kun, please come closer!”
Sakura, who has taken the top step, pushes mine and Shirayuki’s shoulders closer with gusto.
Our shoulders touched gently, and the sweet aroma of her perfume invades my nose.
“N-No… It’s fine.”
“What are you two so shy about? Come on, let’s start the countdown! Pose, guys, pose!” Sakura points at the LCD screen in front of us, and a countdown starts.
“Kuzuhara-kun, your eyes are dead, you know?”
“Fufu, how about smiling a bit softer?”
Meanwhile, the counter continued.
“3! 2! 1! …Cheese!” As the booth said that, several pictures were taken in succession.
Sakura made a DJ pose for some unknown reason, while Shirayuki smiled gently. I, on the other hand, had a twitchy smile on my face.
“… It’s awful, indeed.”
“Heh heh… Even a certificate photo is better than this.”
“Fufu, maybe Kuzuhara-kun needs to practice his smile.”
Doing this face was a bad idea. This is not something you could show to children.
Smiling practice, huh? … I’ll try it one day.
Having enjoyed our evening window shopping, we left POLCO and went home.
“—Shirayuki-san, Kuzuhara-kun, I had a great time today! Let’s all go together again sometime. So long, bye-bye!”
“Be careful on your way home.”
After parting ways with Sakura at the Shibuya station, Shirayuki and I took the same train and got off at the same station, since our houses were relatively nearby. We walked slowly, shoulder to shoulder while talking about today’s events.
There were occasional moments of silence, but unlike when we ate lunch at the office… It didn’t feel uncomfortable, nor awkward, at all.
It was a gentle kind of silence, one of mutual understanding. It was comforting, really.
After a bit of that soft silence, my phone vibrated in my pocket.
Normally I’d ignore a random call like that, but… That strange gaze I felt when we were window shopping resurfaced my mind.
“… Sorry, Shirayuki-san. I need to take this call.”
“Ah, okay. I’ll be waiting in front of that park over there then.”
“Yeah, I’ll be right back.”
I distanced myself from her a bit and accepted the call.
“Hell, who are y—”
“—I’m looking at you, right now.”
A cold, mechanical voice said from the other side of the phone.
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