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.
It’s the day after I went shopping with Akina.
Even though today’s her big day, she’s standing in the kitchen as if nothing changed. Her ponytail swayed as she cooked, her apron shielding her from whatever spillage could happen. She had come inside my room to wake me up as usual, made breakfast, cleaned up the place, and everything else. Even when I took initiative and insisted I should help, she gently refused.
From noon, her spirits seemed to be at their highest, and she almost sang “I’m gonna make Haru-kun’s favorite omelet & rice~♪” while arranging some ingredients she had just taken from the fridge.
I’m sure today’s her birthday, but the way she’s so nonchalant about it made me uneasy. So much so that I was compelled to ask my mom if today really was the day.
When we were in elementary school, she used to fidget all morning long on her anniversary, wondering if she’d get anything. I can still clearly remember how big her smile would get when my gift would get in her hands. That’s why I thought it’d be the same now that we were high schoolers. However, the way she hummed a tune while cracking eggs gave off a chill vibe, one so unassuming this might not have been a special day at all. On the other hand, I’ve been the one fidgety since yesterday, itching as if I was the only one aware of it.
Even as I thought about all these things, Yuki’s handiwork got better by the second. Eggs danced on the frying pan, sometimes somersaulting in the air as a waft of ketchup grazed my nose. As I watched her performance, well as usual, I had a hard time figuring out when to hand her the present.
“Haru-kun, the omelet is ready~!”
She waltzed into the living room with plates for two. We sat down at the table together as I watched the omelet be laid out in front of us. Then, we looked at it and clasped our hands together, thankful for what we had.
Seeing her smile widen with each bite made me think of how cute she was each day. Still, I couldn’t help but shoot quick glances at the room where her gift was hidden at. I was confident the gift Akina and I chose would make her happy, but seeing her happy as she was, I couldn’t help but feel unease. As I agonized over what didn’t happen and was bombarded with countless thoughts, her eyes met mine.
“Is my omelet good today?” She asked with a simple smile. Yuki made my favorite food, yet I’d been so busy stuck in my own head that I completely forgot to taste it. As if all my worries had been blown away, I vigorously shoved the spoon into my mouth.
“Delicious… Everything you make is special, and I really like it. Mmm, it’s amazing.”
“Ehehe! All I was thinking about when making this was you, Haru-kun.”
Seeing her cheeks flush with embarrassment makes the omelet taste ten times better. As if to hide it, she took a spoonful of the softly melting omelet into her mouth.
After a while, we completely emptied the dishes on the table and she went to the sink once again. Then I stood up and glanced at her swishing ponytail as she washed the dishes humming a tune.
I’m not sure why she’s acting so normally, but I still want to please her. I went back to my room and picked up the paper bag that I hid, all while taking deep breaths. Walking back to the living room, I see that she finished taking care of the dishes and sat on the sofa while listlessly gazing out the window.
Yuki yawned audibly, maybe feeling cozy from the sun’s comforting rays. It was rare to see her sleepy in the daytime, but she just lay on the sofa with a fluffy look on her face. After a moment of looking, I approached her with the gift behind my back.
“Yuki, are you sleepy?”
“Ehehe… I was up late last night.”
“Oh that’s rare, you never stay up late. Until when?”
“Um… that’s a secret.”
She looked up at me with a playful smile. It took every bit of strength I had not to pat her head, after all, it’d look suspicious if I did so while my other hand stayed behind my back. While keeping the bag off her view, I sat down knee-to-knee with her.
For a moment I thought she noticed it, but since she was mushy and sleepy, she was out of it.
“You look like you’re gonna fall to the clouds. Take it easy, ‘mkay?”
“I’m fine, I’m not sleeping, I just wanna relax with you today,” she answered while leaning and rubbing her head on my shoulder. Her soft hair tickled my neck while her shampoo caressed my nose. While feeling her languid cuteness with her little yawns, I reached out into the paper bag to grab her gift.
“Hey, Yuki…” She looked up in response, still a bit squishy from sleep. After her innocent blue eyes locked with mine, she turned to stare at the paper bag in my hand and her eyes shot open as if she wasn’t ever sleepy. “This is for you.”
Her eyes only widened more as she saw the paper bag I gently held out to her. “Haru-kun, this…”
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. We always celebrated your birthdays together since we were in elementary school, but it’s been a few years since the last one. I, um, didn’t tell you about it because I thought I might surprise you…”
She accepted the gift, still flabbergasted. After eyeing it intently, she hugged it as if it was some sort of treasure.
“I knew you’d remember my birthday. You’ve always cared about me. You’re so, so kind, Haru-kun…” Her smile was more precious than the brightest diamond; a reflection of her happiness. I couldn’t help but smile too, partly due to the tension released from finally giving her the gift.
“Actually…” She started, “I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited about today.”
“Oh? Is that the reason you were up so late last night?”
“Mhm. I was thinking about spending my birthday with you, and I was so excited I couldn’t sleep at all. As soon as I dozed off, it was morning.”
“I didn’t even realize it… But then why did you seem so normal this morning?”
“I was just trying my best to look well. I didn’t want to look sloppy on my special day, after all. Besides, I didn’t wanna make you worry…” She looked away while hiding her flushed cheeks.
So the reason why she acted so normally was that she was so excited, she couldn’t sleep properly, and she acted as if nothing was wrong to remedy it. Even in elementary school, she always fretted about her birthdays while fidgeting away, and knowing nothing had changed made me incredibly happy. I couldn’t help but reach out for her head.
As I patted her head with tenderness, she gave me a squishy smile that brimmed with happiness. Then, she rubbed against my hand as if she was a pampered cat as my hands trailed her hair, so comfortably draping between my fingers. She wriggled ticklishly each time, and the sight was so mind-numbingly adorable I had to keep patting her for a while.
“I have a cake ready for you. It’s hidden away with some ice packs to cool it, but don’t forget to put it in the fridge later,” I add.
“Even a cake… Thank you! I’m so, so happy!”
“Oh, and I want you to see what’s inside the bag. I picked it with you in mind.”
“Mkay, let’s get right on it…”
She then reached inside the paper bag. The first thing she pulled out was a cosmetic box with a pretty blue ribbon. After carefully removing it, she slowly opened the lid to find a snowflake necklace inside. It twinkled back at Yuki’s eyes as she gazed at it.
“I thought it’d fit nicely with the outfits you usually wear, and since you’re called ‘Yuki,’ I went with a snowflake-inspired piece… Hmm, I guess it was a bit cheesy on my part, ay?” (TL: Yuki means snow, basically.)
“No, don’t say that. It’s very nice, and I’m happy you thought of me when choosing it…” She picked up the necklace and clutched it to her chest, embracing it. Then she closed her eyes as if praying for something. “Haru-kun, can I try this on right now?”
“Of course! I wanna see you wearing it too.”
She undid the clasp and wrapped the gift around her neck. The sight of that snowflake swaying on her chest was magical, and after putting it on a satisfied smile grew on her face. Then, she placed on hand on the ornament and opened her mouth, as if vowing.
“—Thank you, I’ll treasure it.”
Her smile was a thousand times more dazzling than the necklace.
“Now… Open the other one.”
“Other one? Oh, it’s true! I’m amazed it’s not just the necklace.”
She pulled a small box from inside the bag. Out of it, came a nail care set housed in a thin leather case. It contained a small pair of scissors, nail clippers, a file, and a cuticle remover. They were all necessary to keep her nails tidy, but I still added a set of hand cream to top it off.
I chose this one because she once told me she paid special attention to her hands.
“Haru-kun… You remembered I take extra care of them…”
“Mhm, I did. I got a pretty nice hand cream, so I just hope it fits your skin.”
“I’m sure it will. I’ll treasure this one as well…”
With the nail care set in hand, she looked like an excited child holding a toy. Come to think of it, it’s the same as when I was in elementary school. I remember when I’d give her a key chain or a stuffed animal, she looked just as happy and innocent as she looks now.
I love seeing her smile… This same love I have is the driving force behind all the things I’ve done to make her happy under all those bandages way back when.
Thankfully, we managed to celebrate her birthday together, something we haven’t done in several years. No matter how old she is now, her heart remained pure. Being able to see her like this, and to make her happy in any way I can, fills my heart with unparalleled joy.
Yuki placed her hand on top of mine, and our eyes locked with each other as our fingers intertwined.
“Ehehe~! I’m so happy, Haru-kun.”
“I’m happy too, Yuki.”
We held each other’s hands and smiled without reserve. Finally, I could say the words I’ve been wanting to say ever since we parted ways.
“Happy birthday, Yuki.”
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