V2 Chapter 9 | Kind Hearts and Cold Hearts

I put Anri’s bag and my bag on my shoulder and get on the train.

Anri is silent the whole time. And her expression is also dark. It is like a lighthouse that has lost its light.

I take Anri’s hand and get off the train at the usual station. We walk home more slowly than usual.

I decided not to take the long way around today, but to walk home through the shopping arcade.

On the way home, I was approached by a lady at a butcher shop.

“What’s the matter, Tsukasa-chan? What’s wrong with such a gloomy face?”

We walked up to her and went into the store.

Normally, we would have bought some menchikatsu, but we were not in the mood today.

“Oh, Hime-chan. You look terrible. Did you get into a fight?”

Auntie was sharp and pointed.

She has been running the restaurant for decades.

She is a good observer of people’s facial expressions. I mean, is Anri called “Hime-chan”?

That’s something new.

“We’re not really fighting. It’s just that things have been going on…”

“Hime-chan, you seem really distressed. But that face must still be worried. If you feel like it, please talk to Auntie about it.”

Then she gave us some steamed meat buns from the counter.

“Here, eat this and cheer up! It’s a special service from Auntie.”

We nodded silently and picked up the steamed buns, which were warm.

“Thank you…”

Still, Anri looked down and did not speak a word.

A shopping street with many people passing by. I wondered how we looked to other people, holding hands and walking along the edge.

After passing through the shopping street, we arrived in front of a park.

This is where I told Anri how I felt about her. Suddenly, a bench caught my eye.

“Shall we eat some steamed meat buns?”

I took Anri’s hand, entered the park, and sat down on the bench.

Anri’s bag is heavy. It was filled with reference books, notebooks, and other things.

I handed her one of the steamed meat buns I had gotten for her.

“Here, let’s eat it before it gets cold. Auntie was concerned about Anri…”

Anri took a bite of the steamed bun in her hand and put her hand on her lap.

“It’s warm, This steamed bun…but my heart is surely cold…”

“No, not at all. Anri has a kind heart. Surely, it’s only for now that you’re so worried about it.”

I start eating the steamed buns with a big mouth too.

The menchis are good, but the steamed buns are also good.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to look at Ayane tomorrow. I don’t have the confidence to act the same way I always do…”

“Don’t worry. By tomorrow, I am sure everything will be back to normal. Don’t think so deeply.”

The park is completely dark. The street lights are on, shining right above us.

The wind is a little chilly. The wind blew Anri’s hair and left a single tear drop on her cheek.

“I’m sorry. Sorry for being such a jerk.”

“Are you that insecure? Are you that uncertain? Then, are you that insecure about what Anri said when she told me she liked me?”

“That’s not true! I like you, Tsukasa-kun. But Ayane is also an important friend of mine.”

“Then don’t think too much about it. We are what we are, right? Just because Sugimoto-san was there doesn’t mean anything will change. Anri is overthinking things.”

“Is that so… am I overthinking it? Am I fine the way I am?”

“Yes, just the same as before, go home together, have dinner, study. You’re going to the movies next time, right? It’s a movie you want to see, right? Then let’s go together. Takayama, Sugimoto, me, and Anri. See, it’s the same as usual, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, that’s right. Let’s all go to the movies together. I’m sure Ayane is looking forward to it.”

Anri, feeling a little more energetic, puts the steamed bun in her mouth and begins to eat it, looking a little more delicious.

I followed suit and put a piece of the steamed bun in my mouth.

“This steamed bun is delicious. Let’s buy some next time.”

“Well, Auntie treated me well today, so now I have to get it right.”

Taking Anri’s hand, who was feeling a little better, we headed home.

Good, she seems to be feeling a little better.

I cook dinner with Anri and we sit around the table.

I thought it was noisy when Mom was here, but when she was actually gone, I felt a little sad.

“Mother-in-law taught me how to cook a little. Um say, do you mind if I make Tsukasa-kun’s lunch tomorrow?”

“Hmm? Aren’t you going to make one for yourself?”

“But wouldn’t it be strange if we both had the same bento?”

Indeed. If the lunches were made at completely different houses and had exactly the same contents…

There is no way such a miracle could happen. I’m sure that Takayama would notice.

“I agree, it’s not good for two people to have the same bento.”

“I’ll do the same as usual, so can I just make one for Tsukasa-kun?”

“Isn’t that too much work?”

“No, it’s not! Even Ayane was able to do it. I can do it too!

She’s angry. There’s no need to be angry.

“I’ll leave it to you. Also, can we not go jogging in the morning until after the test? I want to study a little in the morning.”

“I think that’s fine. I think it will take me a couple of hours to make lunch, too.”

Does it take that long? It doesn’t take three hours to make one lunch, does it?

“Do you want me to help?”

“Don’t worry. I can do it by myself.

While we were talking like this, the night was drawing to a close and it was almost time to go to bed.

Both Anri and I had finished taking a bath and were relaxing on the sofa.

“Is it okay if I dry your hair every day?”

Anri, sitting next to me, asks me.

“Hmm? I don’t mind, but why?”

“I don’t have any deep meaning. I just want to do it.”

Smiling, Anri brings a hair dryer.

Then she dries my hair nicely.

This feels really good, you know? I’m going to be addicted to it.

“Thank you. I’m all dried up.”

“No, no, you’re welcome. I’ll dry it tomorrow, too.”

Why are you so obsessed? Is there something wrong with my hair?

Maybe I’m going bald or something… No, my dad has a full head of hair and my grandpa had a full head of hair too.

I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m sure I’ll grow up to be a healthy, hairy adult.

I looked at the clock, the date was about to change.

We had been studying after we got home, so it was getting late.

Anri seemed to have dried her hair, and we decided to go to bed.

“Then I’m off to bed. I’ll see you tomorrow at the usual time.”

“Yeah, okay. Good night.”

Anri ran upstairs alone.

Thank God, I thought she might be a little more emotionally unstable after what happened earlier.

Maybe the meat buns were good?

I turned off the light and snuggled into the futon.

Well, the test is coming up. I told them we were all going to the movies together.

This is the time to win. I have to do my best…

As I’m dozing off, I hear the door to my room open.

In the dimly lit room, I looked toward the door and saw Anri standing there holding a pillow.

And her expression is just as dark as before.

‘What’s wrong? Did something happen?”

Wordlessly, Anri walked up next to me.

“…Can I sleep with you?…”

It wasn’t more than a few seconds before I got my answer.


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