Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
After getting home, Yuki and I went to the kitchen. Normally, I would leave the cooking up to her, but I’d like to help today. I’ve always longed for this daily routine—living under the same roof with a girl, cooking dinner together, chatting casually, these kinds of things. It was also my way of congratulating Yuki on her performance at the tournament.
“You’re particular even about making hamburgers, aren’t you Yuki? I still can’t believe you put a bowl of ice-cold water to knead the meat while it chills.”
“Well, when you knead, your hands’ warmth will eventually melt the fat from the meat, so it’s better to do it while it’s cooled, just like this. Also, if you add salt to the meat before kneading, it becomes stickier and less likely to crack.”
“Wow… I eat your food every day, and I guess that ingenuity is what makes it all taste amazing.”
“I do my best because you say it’s delicious. I’m really happy you’re helping me today, Haru-kun, so I feel very motivated! This is fun!”
Yuki smiled as she shaped the ground meat into a hamburger patty. I stood next to her, copying her method and modeling the meat into a fluffy oval shape. She said it was fun, and I was surely having it along with her.
She beamed the cutest grin, so warm and kind, as we cooked together. It was so pleasant to do something along with her, shoulder to shoulder. It also reminded me of the time I spent with her in elementary school, back when she was all bandaged. I felt as if my life with her had finally returned, and it did.
We both finished prepping the patties, and Yuki grilled them with finesse. Soon, a delicious scent overflowed the kitchen. Soon after, we put it all together—The steak and vegetables were arranged orderly on the plate, and her special demi-glace sauce was poured on top of it all, dripping slowly and lusciously. I can’t stop myself from salivating.
Setting the food on the table and sitting across from each other, we finally started eating dinner.
Honestly, compared to Yuki’s, my patty was all ugly and deformed. Regardless, she ate it with a huge smile plastered across her face, telling me how tasty it was. The one I ate was shaped to perfection and was incomparably tasty. When I poked it with my fork, the meat juices gushed out, mixing with her special sauce.
I felt as if I could eat rice forever along with this steak. My stomach was filling to the brim with happiness.
While we ate, Yuki started talking.
“By the way, Haru-kun, do you have any plans for tomorrow?”
“Hm? Oh, right, tomorrow is a Saturday, so school’s out.”
“Yup. The weather report says it’ll be nice, so if you want, we could go out.”
“Sounds fun, but where should we go to?”
“Actually, I have a place in mind and I’ve been preparing for a while now. If you give me the okay, I’d love to take you there.”
“Of course, I’ll go. It’s nice to stay at home on our days off, but we’ve never gone out. So, what’s the place?”
“You like aquariums, right Haru-kun? I was thinking we could go to one.”
“Oh, you remembered how much I like aquariums. We did use to go a lot there way back when.”
“Yeah, we’ve been there many times together.”
“Mhm! I get excited when I see all those tanks lined up in that dimly lit corridor, will all those different kinds of fish swimming around. Oh! That dolphin show too! I loved it when it splashed water on us.”
“This is nice… Your love for these things hasn’t changed from when you were a little boy.”
“Well, yeah. I couldn’t really go to the aquarium when I was in middle school since I was studying nonstop. That’s why I’m ecstatic to go there with you! It’s been a really long time, right?”
Whenever we’d go there together, my mom would always take us on a bus. It was so exciting! I couldn’t stop jittering while waiting for the bus, and as Yuki and I stared out the window, we chatted about how we couldn’t wait to arrive at the aquarium.
I remember vividly that when we arrived, we jumped up and down nonstop. After our visit to the fishes, we’d swung by one of the public parks and played there until we were completely exhausted. In the end, we were so spent we both fell asleep on the bus as we went back.
Nostalgia washes over me as I kept eating Yuki’s steak.
After we finished dinner, we organized the dirty dishes. She insisted that she’d take care of mine, saying she owed me a favor. However, since it was a special occasion, we worked side-by-side to clean it up.
Dishes clean, it was time for dessert. It wasn’t anything fancy like a cake, but that kneading candy we bought together just a while ago. Picking up a spoon, I started kneading the candy in front of her and said the same line I said when I was a kid: “The more you knead it, the better it tastes,” and she beamed a warm smile at me.
Memories from elementary school rushed into me vividly.
The image of a small bandaged girl overlapped with the beautiful girl at my side, both smiling the same smile.
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