Chapter 4 – True Thoughts

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Chapter 4: True Thoughts

Everyone has thoughts they keep hidden.

Everyone has things they don’t want to talk about.

Everyone has things they want to say, but can’t.

There are some who can steel their resolve and let their thoughts be known.

Some, who end up conveying their true thoughts in the spur of the moment.

Some, who are unable to make the decision to share their true thoughts.

And finally, some who can’t say anything until the very end.

Which group do I belong to?

Where do my true thoughts lie?

…I still don’t know.

I don’t know if these are my real feelings.

And I don’t know if I have thoughts that I ought to share.

“How did things end up like this?”

I asked myself as I stood under the clock tower in front of the station where we agreed to meet up.

It was Sunday. Normally I’d be at work at this time.

I was given the day off work today. Me, of all people.

But there was nothing I could do since Towako-san was the one who ordered it. If the shop owner asked me to take a break, then I had to obey. As an employee, the manager’s word—regardless of whether Towako-san actually deserved the title—was the law.

That’s why I took the day off work.

It definitely wasn’t because I wanted to.

That’s why I had no choice but to stand here waiting under the clock tower in front of the station.

And I wasn’t waiting here just because I felt like it.

That’s right, I was waiting for someone.

On a Sunday, just before noon.

Standing under the clock tower.

Feeling a little nervous.

Waiting for him.

…Right. Even I get nervous sometimes.

But it’s only when I’m waiting like this to go somewhere with him.

“How did things end up like this?”

I asked myself as I walked towards the clock tower in front of the station where we had agreed to meet up.

It was Sunday. I’d normally be at work around now.

I got the day off today.

…I felt like I had thoughts like this before…but that meeting had been earlier in the day, and was with someone different…

Anyway, Towako-san asked me to take the day off so there was nothing I could do. If the owner was asking me to take a break, then I should obey. As an employee, the manager’s word—regardless of whether Towako-san actually deserved the title—was the law.

That’s why I took the day off work.

It definitely wasn’t because I wanted to.

And that’s why I had no choice but to go to the clock tower in front of the station.

I wasn’t going because I felt like it.

And by the way, unlike the last meeting, Saki knew about this one.

Meaning, Towako-san told Saki the same thing she told me.

In other words, the person I was meeting was Saki.

“Really, how did things end up like this?”

It all started yesterday.

As usual, Towako-san was telling us about some item she went out and bought.

She said this particular Relic was called Kotonoha.

It was apparently a Relic that anyone could use to hold their thoughts and memories at any time. The thoughts poured into the leaf could be sent to whoever the user desired whenever they wanted even after, for example, their own death.

It was oddly harmless for a Relic and even seemed kind of useful.  Towako-san then pulled off two rainbow-colored leaves from the potted Kotonoha plant,

“The two of you get one each.”

And gave them to us.

Tokiya and I took the leaves she gave us and looked at each other.

“Well that’s unusual. Towako-san’s giving us a Relic.”

It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but that didn’t make it any less strange. Towako-san hated giving Relics to people. It wasn’t just because she was a Relic collector, but also because Relics often brought misfortune to those who came to use them.

“Well, this probably won’t get you in trouble no matter what happens.”

“Huh?”

“And you two have things you want to convey but can’t say, right?”

Tokiya and I looked at each other at the same time.

“I don’t really have anything to convey to Tokiya that I can’t put into words.”

“I don’t really have anything to convey to Saki that I can’t put into words.”

We both denied it at the same time, but…

“Not once did I say it was things you can’t convey to anyone in particular.” Towako-san had an extremely unpleasant smile on her face now.

I looked at Tokiya again.

“The way you said it made it sound like that, don’t overthink it.”

“The way you said it made it sound like that, don’t overthink it.”

We answered the same way again.

“Hahaha. Well, I guess that’s fine. I want you to hold onto them anyway.”

Towako-san paid us no mind at all, laughing loudly as she forced Kotonoha onto us.

“I don’t really need it.”

“Yeah, me neither. If there was something I wanted to say, I’d just say it.”

But Towako-san didn’t let us return the leaves and forced them into our hands.

“It’s fine, just keep them. You’ll need them someday.”

Since Towako-san insisted on giving them to us, Tokiya and I looked at each other one more time and decided to accept the Kotonoha leaves.

But I really didn’t have anything I wanted to convey so badly that I’d use Kotonoha. Not to steal Tokiya’s words, but if there was something I wanted to say, I would say it myself.

In fact, I didn’t really have anything special I wanted to tell Tokiya, like Towako-san was insinuating. There wasn’t anything I was having trouble putting into words. There really wasn’t.

…Probably.

“Well, it’s not like I can’t say it, but I guess I have something.”

But Tokiya was different. He had something to say.

“Huh?”

“Mm?”

I looked at Tokiya without thinking, and he looked at me as if nothing at all were amiss.

“And is this about me?”

“Yeah, I guess it is.”

I stared at Tokiya.

What was it?

Did he have something he wanted to convey but couldn’t put into words?”

“So…what is it?” I asked.

It’s wasn’t like I was that interested.

I wasn’t desperate to know or anything.

But I was curious.

Just a little bit curious.

It looked like this was something difficult for Tokiya to say, or maybe he was thinking about how to phrase it. After spending some time putting his thoughts in order, he finally looked at me.

I stared back, waiting for his words.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while and…”

“…Uh huh.”

“and I’ll get right to the point but…”

“…Uh huh.”

“Wearing nothing but black is pretty weird.”

“…………Excuse me?”

I froze for a full 20 seconds before sputtering out a reply.

“I mean, it’s just…I get liking black, but I was wondering what it would be like if you wore something different every once in a while. Wearing all black all the time is weird, right?”

Did he really have to say that?

“I mean, I know you have lots of similar looking clothes. I do understand that you’re not actually wearing the same thing all the time, of course.”

This was what he always wanted to tell me?

My feelings had now withered into cold disappointment.

“I also have something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but haven’t told you…” I continued, my voice quieter than it usually was.

“I don’t want to hear you say anything about my clothes when everything you wear is cheap.”

“Wha—!”

“I’ll acknowledge that your style has a little variation, just a little. However, everything you wear is still cheap. And it’s not like you have good clothing that happens to be inexpensive either, it’s all just cheap. The best thing you own is your school uniform, isn’t it? Just look at the shirt you wore to work today. Look at how the collar’s all worn out. Didn’t you buy it recently? I wonder how it ended up looking like that after a single wash?”

“You didn’t have to go that far!”

“Oh, but I’m not done.  You know the clothes you wore last weekend? Well, they didn’t match at all. And not only that, the colors were already fading too. My guess is because it was so cheap.”

“All you say is cheap, cheap, cheap, But I can’t do anything about that, okay! My salary here sucks!”

“Well, my salary’s low too, and I make do with what I have to buy good things. Of course, the things I buy cost more.”

“But you don’t have living expenses, right? I don’t have any money to spend on clothes thanks to mine.”

“Just how low do you think my living expenses are? I also have my own things to pay for, you know. Even if my income is low, and the number of sales is abysmal, and my personal finances look depressing, I can still buy nice things even without spending money on clothes. It’s just a matter of sense.”

“You say that, but you get paid more than me don’t you?”

“Naturally. I spend more time at work after all.”

“Cause I have to go to school. And I doubt you even have much to do since we never get any customers during the day.”

“Certainly, customers are few and far between, but dealing with them is only one part of my job. I also manage inventory, so the work I do is worth much more than the paltry salary I get.”

Suddenly—

“…Cut it out, you two.” Towako-san cut us off in a menacing voice.

She seemed angry for some reason.

I wonder why…were we being too loud?

How careless. I got riled up by Tokiya’s mean words and was being louder than usual.

“I’m sorry, Towako-san. I shouldn’t have shouted.”

“I lost my cool after what Saki said to me.”

We both apologized for being loud, but Towako-san’s anger didn’t subside.

“Since you’ve said all that, the two of you will go shopping and pick clothes for each other. I’ll be the one to judge who can buy better clothes with their awful salaries!”

And that’s the gist of it.

After that, Tokiya and I agreed to meet up the next day, Sunday, and go shopping to choose clothes for each other.

We were both agitated at the time and quickly agreed on a time and place to meet up. But now that things had settled down, this was starting to feel like, how to say it…

“…A date.”

I furiously shook my head.

T-this was just a shopping trip. It wasn’t anything special like a date or anything. And Towako-san told us to do this in the first place, so it’s not like I had any say in the matter.

“Ah, I shouldn’t do that.”

My hair was a mess now because I shook my head too hard.

I took out a pocket mirror and start combing through it with my fingers. My hat also happened to be lopsided so I readjusted that too.

“Yep, perfect.”

…I wasn’t dressing up more than I had to, nor was I trying to be especially fashionable. I was just taking care of my appearance. This was something I always did.

“Did you wait?”

A voice suddenly called out, and I turned around, startled.

But the person they were calling out to wasn’t me, but another girl waiting at the same meeting spot.

I checked the time again…it was now almost noon. It seemed a lot of other people had also agreed to meet up at this time. I heard similar things from other couples around me like

“Did you wait long?” “Not at all.” and

“Did I make you wait?” “You’re late.” and

“Who is it?” “Darling!” and

“I’m back.” “Welcome back, master.”

It was about time Tokiya showed up too.

I didn’t have to greet him…

But still, what would be the best thing to say here?

Not to brag, but this was my first time meeting up with someone.

Of course, I have met up normally with people before.  I’m just saying that I haven’t waited for someone like this.

Well, I say like this, but even this is a normal meeting. I’m just meeting up with him to go on a simple shopping trip is all.

…It’s just special because I’m going with Tokiya.

And by special, I don’t mean anything weird. It’s just that I’ve never gone anywhere with him before.

Wait, was that true?

Well, I’ve never gone out with him for something like this before anyway.

And when I say like this, I mean that it’s just a little different from usual. Tokiya and I agreed to meet up here today to go shopping. It was nothing more than that.

…I got a little carried away there. Rather than thinking about that, I had to come up with a plan soon.

Going by the clock, there were only 10 seconds left until noon.

How should I greet Tokiya when he finally gets here? If the people I observed around me were anything to go by, there was a high chance that he’ll start with, “Did you wait long?”

In that case, should I respond with, “Not at all”?

Or should I be direct and tell him I’ve been waiting for 30 minutes?

I’m really precise about the time and didn’t want to be late today, so I got here half an hour early. But that time passed by in the blink of an eye; it didn’t feel like I waited long.

And more than anything, just because I was half an hour early didn’t mean that Tokiya was late.

In the first place, if I told him I came 30 minutes early, he might misunderstand and think I was really looking forward to this. Really, the reason I arrived early was because I was a careful about being on time.

In that case, maybe saying “I just got here.” Would be the better option.

But then I’d feel like I was lying to him. Was it really fine to lie like that?

According to the book I read, With This, You Too Can Become a Dating Master! (I ran out to buy it in a panic last night), there was no problem with that kind of lie since it was only to show consideration for your partner.

I guess that’s what I’ll go with after all.

The clock struck 12 as I was lost in my thoughts. It was now time.

Wait a second.

If Tokiya came now and said, “Did you wait long?” and I responded with, “I just got here”, wouldn’t that mean that I was also late?

It wouldn’t look good if he thought I was late for our first meeting, right?

But Tokiya himself was also late…

I remembered reading something about this last night in With This, You Too Can Become a Dating Master!

Don’t get angry even if your partner is late for the first date. It was most likely because they were too nervous to sleep the night before and overslept. They might have also got spent too much time thinking about what to wear and kept uneasily changing their clothes, or maybe the hairstyle they had didn’t look quite right and they changed it at the last second.

If you want to have an enjoyable date, don’t fret if your partner is a little late!

But since Tokiya might not have read With This, You Too Can Become a Dating Master! I doubted he’d know that.

Saying that I just got here was too risky after all.

So, should I go back to my first idea and say “Not at all,” or “I’ve been waiting here for over 35 minutes now?”

Ahh, I wanted to go back to my first idea, but there were actually two options here. I was careless. I actually had three options to choose from and now I had to choose between the first and second.

I didn’t have the time to waste thinking about something like that.

Which of the two options should I choose?

I need to hurry up and decide. Tokiya was going to be here any minute now.

“Ah, so you were here?”

“!”

I heard Tokiya’s voice behind me.

“There were a lot of people here, so it took a bit to find you. Did you wait long?”

W-wait a minute. This was outside of my predictions.

I did expect Tokiya to ask me if I waited long, but I didn’t plan for a scenario where he came to the meeting place on time, but got unexpectedly delayed looking for me.

Should I tell him I was waiting for over 30 minutes, or should I play it safe and say I didn’t wait at all? Or should I go in another direction altogether and say I just got here? But then that would imply that I was five minutes late since Tokiya couldn’t find me. What do I do…

“Saki?”

“W-welcome!”

In my confusion, the first thing that came out of my mouth were the words I was used to saying the most.

My true vocation is in customer service after all.

“W-welcome!”

“………huh?”

Saki’s reply made no sense. Maybe she was still half asleep.

I didn’t get much sleep myself and worried that my eyes were red.

Saki’s eyes looked okay, but she did seem a little tired. She wasn’t the type to stand in crowds on Sundays, so I supposed she would find waiting here for me exhausting.

But despite looking tired, Saki also seemed fired up today. This could be just me making assumptions, but she was clearly more excited than usual.

Her outfit was black as always, but today she wore a small hat on her head, not to protect her from the sunlight, but as an accessory. Her blouse was narrower than usual, and with it, she wore a long, tight skirt with a slit going up to the knee. He knee-high socks were partially visible under her skirt.

That wasn’t all though. Saki was also wearing leather shoes with small high heels along with a leather bag that she held in her hand. She also had a black leather watch on her left wrist. Lastly, she had changed her usual hairstyle and was wearing twin tails.

Tsukumodo_v5_c4_img1

Seeing her made me remember what happened yesterday.

I must have hit a nerve for the Saki I knew to lose her cool like that. That was probably reflected in the clothes she wore today.

Saki was particular when it came to clothes…or maybe I should say when it came to the color black.

Either way, I said more than I should have. Had I not brought the subject up, things wouldn’t have ended up like this.

Saki and I wouldn’t be going on this da—no, this shopping trip together.

…Oh well. To be honest, since Towako-san approved of us taking the day off, I didn’t think this was a bad thing at all, but I somehow got the feeling it would have been better for things not to have developed as they did.

“What is it?”

“Nah, it’s nothing. Why don’t we get going?”

Saki and I went into the train station building where we met up. I had actually been here before, and if you wanted to go shopping in the area, this was the place.

“There are a lot of clothing stores here, and also lots of restaurants. Do you want to check out this new pasta place since it’s already lunchtime? It’s pretty popular. Oh, there’s also a great teashop nearby. It’s a bit expensive, would that be alright with you? But as far as cakes go, the shop right next to it is actually much better.”

“You know…quite a lot.”

“Do I? I figured it was normal.”

Like water, I dispensed the knowledge I gleaned from the magazine I bought at the convenience store and from my classmate Shinjou, and casually downplayed it.

By the way, I had never gone to any of the shops I just listed, so my recommendations were all from the magazine and Shinjou—or to be more accurate, his girlfriend.

In other words, this was why I didn’t get enough sleep.

I had been here with my friends before, but I didn’t really pay attention then. They already knew their way around the place anyway.

But I didn’t think Saki would have the same knowledge.

Clothes and shopping were one thing, but this wasn’t the sort of place where one could have meals alone. That’s why it was no surprise that Saki didn’t know about the food options.

It would have been awkward to have us both standing around wondering what to do. That’s why I had no choice but to do some research.

…It definitely wasn’t because I wanted to look good.

I didn’t want to show off about having done research beforehand either. That’s why I didn’t say I learned this information from reading magazines and talking to friends.

…It definitely wasn’t because desperate, last minute research was uncool.

Really.

So where would Saki want to go? I already decided if she let me choose, I’d suggest going to the pasta place. By the way, the recommended pasta was lasagna. Not gratin or risotto, but lasagna.

“I had a late breakfast so I’m not really hungry. Let go look at clothes instead.”

“T-that so?”

…I hadn’t expected that development.

Oh well. Considering how this would save me some money, it wasn’t so bad.

“Let’s go to this store I frequent first. Fortunately it’s in this building, so I’ll choose clothes for you there, Tokiya.”

Saki briskly started walking.

“You know…quite a lot.” I found myself saying to Tokiya.

He hadn’t said anything special, but something bothered me about how excited he was. It felt a little disconcerting that Tokiya knew so much about this place. If I had to say, I expected him to look annoyed and say it didn’t matter which store we went to, or that he would just go with whatever I chose.

He must come here often with his friends.

Right. It must have been…with his friends.

…I had an uncomfortable feeling in my chest for some reason.

Perhaps it was heartburn. I hadn’t eaten anything especially heavy for breakfast though.

But it was true that I wasn’t hungry.

Maybe it was because waiting in a crowd and being in a situation I wasn’t used to tired me out. That’s why I quickly walked away from Tokiya to cut the conversation short.

“Do you go to this store often?”

“Yeah.”

We were at a store that I frequented, and my feelings had calmed down a little now. Clothing stores were usually on the upper floor, but this was one of the few that was underground. It didn’t deal in clothes that were currently in fashion, and as a result, there were fewer customers. I enjoyed the store’s relaxed atmosphere.

That said, the clothes this store sold were not bad by any means. The also sold men’s clothes in addition to women’s clothes, of course.

“Good afternoon, Maino-san.” A familiar employee greeted me. She was a little younger than Towako-san, but the atmosphere around her was gentler and more mature.

But now she had an expression of surprise on her face. Probably because I brought Tokiya with me.

“I came to find clothes for him today.”

“I see. Please let me know if there’s anything I can help with.” She said that and went back to the register.

They didn’t use any shady high-pressure sales tactics here so I could take my time to find something good. That was one of the reasons I liked this place.

“Over here.” I called Tokiya over.

I was already thinking of what kind of clothes I should get him to wear.

He usually preferred “rough” or “fun” clothing, so I was thinking of having him try something a little more stylish. I saw him wear a suit before, and it wasn’t bad at all. But since getting him a suit was overkill…

“How about this?”

I picked out a tie-dye t-shirt, collared jacket, and leather pants for him.

“The fitting room’s over there.”

Tokiya took the clothes with him to the fitting room, and came out wearing them after a short while.

Yeah, not bad…it really suited him. I was really happy with it.

“That looks good. Tokiya, what do you think?”

“Yeah, I think it’s fine.”

“Really? Alright, you want to go with that? Or do you want to try something else?”

For me, this was the best outfit in terms of style and price.

“Let’s see. I think I’ll go with this. Saki, I’ll go change while you pay for it.”

“Huh?”

“It’s fair because I’m going to pay for your clothes, right? Or were you trying to get me to pay for both?”

“I had no such plans.”

“Alright, I’ll leave it to you then.”

Tokiya went back into the fitting room.

I had forgotten. We weren’t just choosing clothes for each other today.

…I was worried about his wallet too. I would have gotten him something more expensive had I remembered.

I walked over to the register to pay.

“Is this a present?” The store clerk asked me as she rang up the total.

“…Something like that.”

I supposed this would be a present.

I unconsciously touched the pendant under my blouse. This kind of reminded me of my feelings back then. It was a nostalgic memory now, but still a very important one.

“Did something good happen?” The store clerk asked me, but I responded with a startled “Huh?”

“You’ve got that look on your face.”

“Oh…nothing really happened.”

As expected of a fellow member of the service industry. I didn’t let it show on my face, but she could still guess how I was feeling.

…Wait. Did something good actually happen? Still, it was true that the uneasy feeling I had in my chest was completely gone now.

“I see. By the way, this is pretty unusual…I’ve never seen you come here with someone else before. What kind of relationship do you have?”

“We work at the same place.”

“Ah, so you get along well then.”

“Um, not really. We don’t have that kind of relationshi—more importantly, do you have that dress you told me about last time?” I dodged her question and changed the topic.

“Oh I’m sorry. We’re all sold out here. It’s actually sold out everywhere except the main store. I’ll let you know as soon as we have more in stock, okay?”

“No, that’s alright. I’ll come back another day.”

The store clerk finished putting the clothes that I got for Tokiya in a bag, and said one more thing.

“But it seems like you two have a really good relationship. How to say this, Maino-san, it feels like you’re a lot gentler than usual. Like you’ve let your guard down.”

I let my guard down…

Maybe that was it.

Tokiya was the only person I could open my heart to…

I felt my earlier irritation being flooded over by a gentle warmth.

 ◆

The clothes I tried on at Saki’s recommendation felt two levels higher than what I was used.

It didn’t cost that much more either. Well, it was far more expensive than what I usually bought, but not enough to make my eyes pop out.

And most importantly, Saki found clothes I really liked in one shot.

…That Saki, she’s serious.

She wants to show me what she can really do.

I was naïve, thinking about what we were going to have for lunch. That’s not what we were here for. This was a match to decide which one of had better fashion sense.

Alright. I’d have to show her how serious I was too.

I psyched myself up and stepped out of the fitting room. Saki was standing outside holding a bag with my new clothes.

“Okay, it’s my turn now.” I said as we waited for the elevator. However, Saki unexpectedly pulled on my sleeve.

“I’m actually feeling hungry now. Do you think we can go to the pasta restaurant you talked about before?”

“Wha-?” I could only respond stupidly as she poured cold water on my excitement.

“We can’t?”

“N-no, I don’t mind.”

So she had time to spare now that her turn was over…

Well, it wasn’t so bad if I could use that time to get my thoughts in order. And more importantly, I couldn’t let all the research I did last night go to waste. Saki and I went to the pasta restaurant that was also said to have good lasagna.

The restaurant was crowded for lunch when we came in, but fortunately, we were able to secure a pair of open seats right away.

I waited for Saki to open the menu before casually speaking up.

“You know, this is a pasta restaurant, but the lasagna’s highly recommended.”

“Oh really? I suppose I’ll get that then.”

“What kind of pasta should I order then?”

“How big is the lasagna?”

“How big?”

“Yeah. Won’t there be too much food if we order pasta too?”

…I had no idea. My hasty preparation had been met with an unexpected obstacle. I never expected her to be concerned about the lasagna’s size.

“N-no, I don’t thi—it’s not that big.”

“I see…”

She still seemed concerned about it.

“Even if it ends up being too much, I’ll eat it.”

“Alright then. Why don’t you get the carbonara?”

“There’s squid ink pasta too. That’s black.”

“I have no interest in blackening my teeth.”

“Of course. Are you okay with black tea for your drink?”

“Yeah. I’ll order it after the meal.”

I called the server over, and made my order.

“I’d like one carbonara with eggplant and meat sauce.”

“Understood.”

“And then one plate of lasagna.”

“Oh—I’m very sorry. We don’t serve lasagna here.”

“Huh?”

What the hell? This isn’t what you told me, Shinjou! You recommended the lasagna here, didn’t you?

I glanced at Saki. She was looking at me with her usual poker face.

“Well t-that’s odd…I definitely saw it before. The menu must have changed since I was last here.”

“Not at all. This restaurant has not served lasagna since it first opened.”

You don’t have to say that much! I shouted internally.

“While we don’t have lasagna, there is ravioli on the menu, if you’d like that.”

“Alright. Okay, I’ll order that then.”

Shinjou…only the first syllable kind of sounds the same! And what the hell is ravioli anyway?

I came back to my senses and looked at Saki’s reaction. Her face was blank as always, and I had no idea what she was thinking.

“M-my bad.”

“It’s alright. Ravioli sounds tasty too.”

“Now that I think about it, it was a different restaurant that had lasagna. There are a lot of similar restaurants and I mixed them up.”

I tried to explain away my misunderstanding (really, it was a mistake), and feigned a laugh.

Saki stared at me with probing eyes.

Not good. Was Saki starting to notice my hasty preparations falling apart?

The pasta and ravioli were both delicious.

It was unfortunate that I wasn’t able to eat the lasagna that Tokiya recommended though. I’d like to try that if the opportunity came up next time.

…Not to say I was hoping for another opportunity.

I realized that we forgot to order tea after the meal, so we went to the other teashop that Tokiya recommended earlier. However, our timing was bad and that shop was in the middle of being covered for a TV program. We tried waiting for a little, but it seemed filming was going to continue for longer than we expected. The shop probably wouldn’t open again until evening.

I guess I’d also have to come back for this another day.

…Not necessarily together with Tokiya though.

But besides that, I always thought Tokiya was someone who would be most knowledgeable about convenience store bento boxes; I didn’t expect him to know about restaurants like that.

It wasn’t just that he knew about them, he apparently went to restaurants like that often. I always thought Tokiya had his hands full with his daily life, but apparently he had enough free time to go hang out with his friends all the time.

Of course, that was it. He was cutting down on his living expenses to save money to have fun. The ones he spent time with were probably his classmates at school.

“Alright, how about we get back to buying clothes.”

“Since we’re already here, why don’t we take a look around the shops?”

“Hm?”

“You don’t want to?”

“No, I don’t mind.”

The pasta and ravioli were both delicious, but it was a little too much for me. It was careless of me to keep eating until my stomach was completely full while we were out to buy clothes.

…It probably wouldn’t have any effect on my waist size, but still…

I wouldn’t mind if I were alone, but not being able to fit into the clothes Tokiya chose for me would be way too embarrassing.

I’d have to walk around to calm my stomach down.

“Alright, let’s take a walk.”

“Yeah.”

Tokiya and I went downstairs from the restaurant area to wander and look around stores.

It would be an exaggeration to call it a shopping mall, but there were lots of things like home décor and imported goods stores, electronics stores, and CD shops.

Just walking around would take at least ten minutes.

This was a popular date spot. The number of couples I saw around us outnumbered the families.

…Do Tokiya and I look like that too?

When I thought that, walking together side by side with Tokiya suddenly felt embarrassing. The people around us were probably not looking at us like that though.

“Ah, come to think of it, last time I saw there was a special for the books you like.”

“The books I like?”

“Yeah, it was a special for know-how and self-help books like With This, You Too Can Become XX.”

I didn’t especially like those books though. I only read them because they contained necessary information.

Leaving aside Tokiya’s misunderstanding about my favorite books, I decided to go along with his kind suggestion and went into the bookstore.

“Huh?” Tokiya was looking around restlessly.

“What’s wrong?”

The specials corner had romance novels in it now.  Well, I didn’t particularly hate novels either. I looked over the books on the on the shelf.

Tokiya, who had gone to ask a shop employee, sounded disappointed when he returned.

“Apparently it’s over.”

“Is it?”

“Sorry.”

“It’s alright. Don’t worry about it.”

There wasn’t anything I wanted to know right now, so I didn’t want to buy them anyway.

“I definitely saw them the last time I came here though.”

“Hmm. With your friends?”

“Huh? Uhh no…I came here on my way home from school to buy reference books.”

That was a lie. There’s no way Tokiya would go out of his way to buy reference books. By why would he lie about that? Ah, did that also mean that perhaps what he said about coming alone was also…

“Anyway, why don’t we go to that store over there? They sell a bunch of things.”

Tokiya sneakily changed the subject and the two of us left the store. I wanted to look at the new releases a little longer, but gave up on that and followed Tokiya out.

“So what kind of store is it?”

“It sells accessories for girls.”

“Oh does it now—”

I followed after Tokiya, and he stood in front of a store that sold cute accessories that were marketed to middle and high school girls. I didn’t have any interest in the gaudy sort of things they sold here.

Moreover, this wasn’t the type of store Tokiya would have gone to alone.

I stared fixedly at Tokiya.

“Ah, I know you don’t like the way it looks, but they also have things you might enjoy.”

Tokiya misunderstood my problem and went into the store, signaling for me to come in too.

I reluctantly walked into the store.

The items lined up on display were the type that middle and high school girls would casually buy. There wasn’t anything that I liked though.

“Huh? I could swear it was around here…”

Tokiya was looking at a display with pendants arranged on it.

He was trying to buy me a pendant?

Did he forget about the pendant he already gave me?

Or was he going to insist on buying a second one?

Even though the pendant I had wasn’t something that could just be replaced.

“Enough already.”

I walked out of the accessory shop and left Tokiya behind.

“H-hey.” Tokiya panicked and followed after me.

“Listen, it really was there the last time I was here.”

“With your friends from school?”

“Huh? Oh…uhh…yeah. With Shinjou.”

“Is that so. This Shinjou-kun sure has cute taste, doesn’t he?”

“Huh? Oh, that’s not it. We came together to pick out a present for his girlfriend. I even told him he should pick out the present himself.”

“I see. Why don’t we go shopping for clothes now?”

“S-sure. Shall we go?” Tokiya said and headed to the escalator going upstairs.

As I followed after him, I looked back.

I knew it, this wasn’t the sort of place Tokiya would visit alone. It wasn’t a store he’d go to with a male friend either. That story about choosing a present was doubtful too.

In that case, who did he go with?

Come to think of it, there was I time I saw Tokiya out with a girl before, and it was definitely in this building.

I hadn’t been tailing him or anything…I just happened to see it. How careless of me to have forgotten.

“Unbelievable.”

Was I supposed to be upset that he was taking me along the same route as that other girl?

Or was I supposed to feel happy that he was thinking of me at the time?

“…What a complicated feeling.”

Everything was going wrong. I couldn’t find anything good at the bookstore or the accessory shop.

I hadn’t considered anything besides clothes and food for our trip today. I took my chances and chose shops at random, but none of them had anything that Saki liked. If only I had been more flexible. It went to show how naïve I had been.

Things were starting to look good after Saki picked out my clothes, but there was an awkward air between us now.

Was she starting to see through my façade?

Now that it had come to this, I’d have to redeem myself by choosing something nice for her

Wait, this was supposed to be a competition.

But still, I wanted to impress her. The fact that we were competing didn’t change that.

I had done my research on clothing stores, but wasn’t feeling very confident since most of the information came from Shinjou’s girlfriend. If I had been given even one more week, I would have had more time to research. If nothing else, the store they recommended was featured in magazines so it definitely wouldn’t be some weird place. I couldn’t go wrong by getting whatever the shop clerks recommended for Saki.

I really hoped I hadn’t made a mistake and the shop was open today.

The store slowly came into view as we went up the escalator.

…It was open. Thank goodness. I wouldn’t have known what to do if they were closed.

I called Saki over and guided her to the front of the store. She stood in front of the door for a minute while she peered inside.

“They only sell women’s clothes here.”

“Well yeah. I’m picking out stuff for you so it makes sense right?”

“Did you come here with someone before?”

“Huh?”

“Did you come here with someone?”

“No, I can’t say I’ve been here with anyone…why does that matter anyway?”

Not good. She was totally suspicious.

“…Tokiya, you are going to choose the clothes yourself, right? There’s no point if someone else does it.”

S-she’s sharp.

“Oh, don’t worry. I only chose this place because the shops I normally go to only sell men’s clothes. I came here once since the store is pretty famous and I thought the things they sold were pretty nice. Even I know how to pick out clothes you know.”

I panicked and made up another lie. Just how many times had I lied to her today

I’d be in a lot of hot water right now if there were a Relic that could see through lies.

…Oh wait, there was a Relic like that.

I glanced at Saki’s ears. Naturally she wasn’t wearing anything on them. What a relief.

“…Is that so. I’ll leave it to you then. Your choice of clothes, that is.”

“G-got it. I’ll be sure not to ask any employees for help.”

Aah, I was tightening the noose around my own neck.

The store was really busy today.

They sold all sorts of things here like T-shirts, dresses and jackets. There were also many types of skirts and underwear too. With so many things to choose from, anyone could find at least one thing they’d like.

I looked up at Tokiya.

Had he really just happened to visit this store before?

“Just so you know, my choices will be different what you usually wear.”

He said that and went further into the store.

The ominous feeling I had in my gut must have been my imagination.

“Girls who always wear the same types of clothes don’t have that spirit of adventure. When choosing clothes for girls like that, you have to get something that’s the complete opposite of what they would normally wear.”

Going by that logic, what she needs…

“…Is this!”

Tokiya returned with a bright yellow t-shirt and green hotpants.

“Are you trying to make me angry?”

“No, I’m serious.”

“You’re seriously trying to make me angry?”

“No really. I was thinking it would be nice for you to wear something that isn’t black for a change. That’s what started all this right?”

“Right, and that’s why you’re trying to make me wear this?”

“Well putting it that way is a little…”

“So in other words, you’ve always wanted to see me wearing a form fitting shirt that almost exposes my belly button and hot pants that barely goes over my butt, right?”

“That’s terrible. You’re make it sound even worse than it is”

“Limit that sort of stuff to your imagination.”

“Imagination…?”

“I take that back. Don’t even imagine it.”

I stomped on Tokiya’s toes with the heel of my leather shoe and thrust the clothes he brought into his arms as he winced in pain.

“Try again.”

“Girls who are picky about fashion tend to value originality. When choosing clothes for girls like that, you have to get something unconventional that they’ve never worn before.”

Going by that logic, what she needs…

“…Is this!”

Tokiya returned with an outfit that looked like a pink nurse uniform.

“Are you trying to make me angry?”

“No, I’m serious.”

“You’re seriously trying to make me angry?”

“No really. I was thinking there’d be no point if I got you the same clothes you always wear. I said it before, didn’t I?”

“Right, and that’s why you’re trying to make me wear this?”

“Well putting it that way is a little…”

“So in other words, you’re hoping I’ll nurse you in a uniform with a heart shape cut out at the chest for some reason and a skirt 20 centimeters above my knees that bares my thighs?

“That’s terrible. You’re make it sound even worse than it is.”

“If you like nurses that much I’ll take you to a nice hospital next time.”

“Hospital…?”

“Yes, a neurosurgeon.”

I stomped on Tokiya’s toes with the heel of my leather shoe and thrust the clothes he brought into his arms as he winced in pain.

“Try again.”

“Girls that puts a lot of effort into accessories tend to be picky about details. When choosing clothes for girls like that, you have to get something with lots of little trinkets.”

Going by that logic, what she needs…

“…Is this!”

Tokiya returned with a bizarre outfit that looked like a swimsuit with feathers.

“Are you trying to make me angry?”

“No, I’m serious.”

“You’re seriously trying to make me angry?”

“No really. You’re always cooped up in the store, so I was thinking it would be nice if you wore something more open from time to time.”

“I see. And that’s why you’re trying to make me wear this?”

“Well putting it that way is a little…”

“So in other words, you have these wild delusions about me wearing nothing but a swimsuit, and on top of that, you want to see me dance with pink and yellow feathers too?”

“That’s terrible. You’re make it sound even worse than it is.”

If you like samba that much, why don’t you find out the next time the Carnival will be held?”

“Samba…?”

“Don’t forget your passport either.”

I stomped on Tokiya’s toes with the heel of my leather shoe and thrust the clothes he brought into his arms as he winced in pain.

“Try again.”

“Girls that wear whatever they want with no regard for trends probably don’t care much for the clothes they see in magazines and on TV. For girls like that, one idea is to deliberately bring her something trendy. She’ll have an excuse to try it on, and who knows, maybe she’ll come to like it too.”

Going by that logic, what she needs…

“…Is this!”

What Tokiya brought back after that was—

A dress that left everything from the shoulder to the collarbone exposed,

A pair of low rise jeans that would expose my butt if I were to crouch.

A see-through camisole with everything except the chest area transparent.

A pair of capris with cuts in them that even went all the way to my butt.

Not just that, but they were all in bright colors like white, pink, and sky blue.

It wasn’t just that either. Unless I was going crazy, everything he picked also exposed a lot of skin.

How to say this.

It was hard to believe that Tokiya wasn’t intentionally trying to make me angry.

It made me feel kind of dumb for being so serious when I chose his clothes.

Nothing he brought so far was even worth trying on. There had to be a limit to how far from my preferences he could go.

To be fair, maybe the clothes Tokiya brought were actually popular. I saw a few other girls in the store disappearing into the fitting rooms with similar clothes in hand.

However.

I wanted to hear it straight from him. Did Tokiya actually know who he was choosing clothes for?

And one more thing.

Was he even sane?

“All the suggestions were failures, you guys!”

I was further inside the store complaining to my team of advisors—that is, Shinjou, along with some of my other classmates.

Just to be clear, I didn’t plan for them to be here today. After I had asked about recommendations for Saki yesterday, Shinjou went ahead and decided to stop by the store with his girlfriend, Akanuma today. He then happened to tell a classmate about it, who in turn told another, who then told another…and now I had almost half the class here in the store with me.

By the way, Akanuma rejected the clothes I originally chose for Saki.

There wouldn’t be any point in buying her anything black, but considering her preference for dark clothing, I had picked out a dark brown shirt along with gray skirt.

According to Akanuma, that was an awful idea.

It wasn’t just her either, the others agreed too. As I stood there shocked, they all started presenting their own opinions on what to get Saki, with each of them recommending clothes for me to get her.

The result was as you saw it, a failure.

“Whose turn is it next?”

“Mine.” Said a guy who brought forward an outfit that I couldn’t even be bothered to describe.

“Forget it! I’ll choose something myself!”

I was an idiot for clinging to Shinjou’s baseless confidence when he told me to leave it to him. I had realized it sooner…these guys were only here to have fun from the start.

“…Alright, what about this?”

Tokiya returned with a red and black checkered sleeveless dress with a collar. Tokiya must have wanted to be considerate since the bottom part was all black even though the skirt cut off above my knees. This could actually go well with the black knee-high socks I was wearing today.

“I should be barely safe with this right?”

“You’re off by a wide margin.”

“Umm.”

“…Is what I’d like to say, but I suppose this is alright.”

I resigned myself to accepting the clothes.

“Tokiya, so you like things like this”

I could see beads of sweat forming on Tokiya’s forehead, probably from having already been forced to choose so many outfits. If he were to ask me if I liked it, I’d have to say no since part of it was red. However, I could also see the desperate effort Tokiya put into choosing it.

In fact, compared the what Tokiya brought before, this was actually preferable. It was a fair compromise since part of it was black. That being the case, I wouldn’t argue about it further.  I already felt bad for sending Tokiya back again and again. I didn’t really want to buy this outfit, but I could at least try it on.

“Wait a moment.”

I went into the fitting room and tried on the clothes Tokiya handed me.

But standing in front of the mirror, it really did feel unnatural after all. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t used to it. Something about it felt fundamentally wrong.

I considered just changing back to my normal clothes, but before that, decided to come out of the fitting room.

Judging by the clothes Tokiya brought so far, he liked bright colors like this. The fact that he brought all those things that didn’t suit me probably had something to do with that.

That’s why I had to at least let him see me wearing the clothes he brought me.

…B-but it wasn’t like I wanted to show Tokiya or anything. I just wanted him to understand that these clothes didn’t suit me is all.

Yeah. If I did that, then even Tokiya would understand how amazing the color black was.

I saw the pendant that I had taken out from under my blouse sway in the mirror.

Did I look like this back then too?

It was a fond memory for me now.

The image of myself now reminded me of how I looked that day, and made me remember how I felt.

I was also plenty embarrassed then, and it was the same now. Thinking about that made my face flush red.

Maybe I should stay in the fitting room for a little longer.

“…Finally.”

“Hehehe it was all part of the master plan.”

“What part of it was planned? Look at all your failures.” Akanuma was the only one who didn’t share my classmate’s overwhelming confidence.

“Making big changes to your hair and style takes courage. That’s why you should start by recommended something completely out there first. Once you do that, the other clothes you choose will look more reasonable by comparison, even if they’re different from what she usually wears.”

My classmates nodded along with Shinjou’s declaration.

I wasn’t convinced he had considered things to that extent, but he did have a point.  The proof of that was that Saki had taken clothes that she would have otherwise never worn into the fitting room. If I had brought it at the beginning—

“It’s not black so I don’t like it.”

—is what she would have said before sending me back.

“But this is where the grand strategy really begins.” Advisor Shinjou ignored my visible relief and poked me in the nose

“Haven’t I already done enough?”

“Don’t be stupid. It’s the exact opposite. She’s overcome her hesitation by trying on something she wasn’t used to. All you need to do now is bring her even showier clothes!”

“That’s impossible! No way.”

“It’s not impossible. Listen to me Kurusu, our ultimate goal was the tight t-shirt and hotpants we chose at the beginning! If we can’t get that, then at least let us see her in the camisole!”

“YEAH!” My classmates raised a loud cheer.

“Brilliant strategy you guys.”

“I know, right!?”

“You’re not doing all this just to see Maino exposed, are you?”

“O-of course not. Ahahahaha”

Akanuma was speaking with a smile on her face, but it was somehow terrifying.

“I don’t even need to see it. Just imagining it is enough.”

“Don’t even imagine it.” I smacked Shinjou and the others on their heads to blow away their delusions of Saki.

“How possessive—”

The guys I hit started making fun of me instead.

“Shut up!”

They all erupted into laughter when I shouted, and in spite of myself, I found myself laughing too. Leaving their clothing choices aside, I was glad they were here. Not that I’d ever tell them that.

Right, leaving that aside, how did Saki like the clothes I picked out?

She didn’t always wear clothes that showed little skin. I sometimes saw her wearing sleeveless dresses on hot days, and due to circumstances even wore a cheongsam once.

It’s just that all of her clothes were black.

Meaning my goal wasn’t to have her wear clothes that exposed her more, but to have her wear something that wasn’t black.

It wasn’t because black didn’t suit her or anything, or that it was a strange. In fact, now that I had gotten used to it, I’d say black suited her best.

But she didn’t have to be so attached to it.

Not to steal Shinjou’s words, but she took courage to make an image change. I wanted support Saki at least a little bit if nothing else.

Then the curtain to the fitting room opened up with a swish.

As she stepped out, Saki was…

“…What’s wrong?”

She was wearing her own clothes.

Saki quietly raised her head— she looked passed me towards Shinjou and the others. She probably still remembered him since they had met before. Going by her lack of confusion, Saki must have heard us from the fitting room.

Shinjou and the others froze as Saki looked at them.

She continued out of the fitting room, walking past me until she was standing in front of Shinjou.

“Shinjou-kun.”

“Y-yes.”

“I’m sorry. You don’t know me well so it’s understandable, but I didn’t like the clothes you chose.”

Saki returned the clothes in her hand to Shinjou.

“O-oh.  Sorry about that.”

“Umm, we weren’t the one who chose th—”

Saki shutdown Akanuma’s protests with a glare.

“Hey, it’s not her fault. And why are you so mad about the clothes anyw—”

I started criticizing Saki’s attitude, but she was having none of it.

“Tokiya too.”

She finally turned her sights to me.

“You don’t understand anything about me.”

With that scathing remark, Saki turned around and left the store.

Why was I so angry?

I was the one who understood it the least.

I had heard Tokiya and his friends’ voices from the fitting room. When I opened the curtain a little to take a look, I saw him next to a bunch of other guys including Shinjou-kun and one girl.

They were all talking about something.

I couldn’t hear what they were saying exactly, but I could guess that it had been Shinjou and co., not Tokiya who had been choosing the clothes.

I had thought it was strange.

Why would Tokiya ever choose clothes like that?

He knew full well what kind of clothes I liked.

Even if he went out of his way to avoid black, he would have still gotten me something with subdued colors.

So was I angry because Tokiya wasn’t the one who picked out my clothes?

No, that wasn’t it.

This all started because of Towako-san’s outrageous demands anyway. It wasn’t as if I especially wanted Tokiya to choose clothes for me.

I had been enjoying myself before we had even gotten to the store.

It might not have been obvious from looking at me, but I was having a lot of fun.

Waiting at the meeting spot.

Choosing clothes for Tokiya.

Going to the restaurant together.

The two of us going to the bookstore and the accessory shop.

Those childish things were very…very….

“———————”

Ah, so that’s what it was.

I finally realized.

Why I was so angry.

Why I felt so irritated.

Why I kept asking Tokiya who he went with at every opportunity.

It was because I finally realized that Tokiya had friends.

Of course, that was something I already knew.

That Tokiya spent lots of time with his friends at school during the day.

That Tokiya always messaged his friends on his phone at work.

That Tokiya hung out with his friends on his off days.

I knew all of that very well.

It wasn’t like I just found out today.

But for the first time I felt strongly conscious about it.

Because I happened to see the other side of it.

Because I happened to see Tokiya surrounded by all his friends.

Because I happened to see Tokiya smiling in the middle of it all.

That’s what made me feel so self conscious.

Because Tokiya also lived in a world I knew nothing about.  

Tokiya had a world he could live in even if I wasn’t there.

“So that’s what it was.”

Stupid me.

I tried to avoid facing it even though I already knew.

It took me this long to realize something so obvious.

“…It’s okay. This is fine.”

Yeah. This was fine.

This was how it was supposed to be.

That’s why I had to accept it and be happy.

But even still…I couldn’t feel happy about it.

I didn’t think I’d be so possessive of him.

…No, I was that possessive.

And it took me so long to realize this as well.

I didn’t want to monopolize Tokiya to myself.

But if I couldn’t monopolize him, then I probably couldn’t even live with myself.

…Live with myself?

 That wasn’t right.

I didn’t have anything to believe in.

There wasn’t anyone I could trust anymore.

I’d have to stop wanting to monopolize him someday too.

But that was still impossible for me.

That’s why I’m sorry Tokiya.

Please indulge my selfishness for now.

But someday.

Some day, for sure…

I tried to send Saki a message but there was no response.

Then I tried calling, be her phone seemed to be off.

She wasn’t at Tsukumodo either when I checked.

“Ah.”

I ended up hurting Saki back there.

We went out today so Saki could choose clothes for me, and so I could pick out something her. They way it all started might have been dumb, but I had to finish what we started now that things had ended up like this.

I told Saki that she didn’t need to get so worked up about clothes.

And I don’t think I was wrong about that.

But Saki was probably angry about more than just the clothes.

I had an experience like this before.

It was when my high school friends met up with their middle school friends that I didn’t know. Seeing them having fun without me made me feel a little alienated and upset.

Maybe Saki felt like that too.

For someone who didn’t have many friends like her, she must have felt it even more strongly than I did.

I shouldn’t have let her see that.

Especially not on a day like this.

“You don’t understand anything about me.”

I had to face what Saki said directly. All the more so because I wanted to understand her better. Because I didn’t know why she would say something like that after all the time we spend together.

“What am I supposed to do?”

I held up the leaf to the familiar light of my own house. The beautiful Kotonoha leaf shined with the colors of the rainbow in the light.

If I tried to put my apology in Kotonoha now, would it reach Saki?

It probably would.

My words themselves would reach her.

But even if they did get to her ears, I didn’t know if it would reach her heart.

I didn’t even have a way to know if my words resonated with her.

Thinking about it further made me feel powerless once again.

I heard the doorbell ring.

Not for the store, but for the house.

Towako-san was away so it fell to me to answer the door.

Who could it be at this time of day? Probably a delivery person or door to door salesman.

“Who is it?”

I opened the door a just a crack, but didn’t see anyone there.

Instead, there was a single paper bag. It looked like a delivery.

I opened the door and picked up the bag.

Inside of it was a large box. I opened it and took our a dress.

It was black, like the dresses I usually wore.

However.

This dress was the newest design from a shop that I frequented.

The person who sent me this must have heard about it while they were in the fitting room.

Then I noticed that the receipt was still in the bag.

That was dumb. What kind of person would leave a receipt along with a present? I pulled it out of the bag to take a closer look.

It was from the flagship store.

The date was today.

The time was 10 o’clock this morning—right around the time the store opened.

 Today was Monday, so the person who bought must have had to skip school.

He didn’t have to go that far.

You’ll spoil me by doing things like this, Tokiya.

Then I noticed something shining in one of the dress pockets.

I took a closer look and saw that it was a single seven colored leaf. The moment I touched it, a warm light enveloped me.

This dress suits you the best

He was trying to hide his embarrassment, but that’s all the message said. The image of Tokiya and his words disappeared and my surroundings went back to normal.

What a waste.

And this was one of the precious few Relics Towako-san gave us.

Was this really something he wanted me to know, but couldn’t tell me?

And more than anything…

“You should at least look at me and say these things to my face.”

I smiled bitterly  in my heart at Tokiya, who had been looking away even in the image Kotonoha showed me.

“You should say this sort of thing face to face.”

“…You’re right, I should.”

I replied to Saki’s muttering and came out from my hiding place.

“You had a backup plan, how sneaky.”

“It’s because I didn’t know how else to talk to you. You weren’t picking up your phone.”

“Ah.”

In a rare moment for her, Saki actually looked surprised.

“I forgot to turn the phone back on.”

“Huh?”

“Remember when the TV crew was at the teashop? They asked us to turn off our phones.”

“From back then…”

I thought she had turned it off when she stormed out of the store. So I was just overthinking it.

“You should have just come here directly.”

“You’ve got to me kidding me.”

If I didn’t have Kotonoha, then I probably would have done that first. However because I did have Kotonoha, I was stuck thinking about how to use it most effectively.

In the end, Relics do bring misfortune to people who use them after all.

Relying on them was no good. I should have scrounged up what little courage I had and come here first.

“I win by default.”

“Huh?”

Saki suddenly said something that made no sense, and I unintentionally let out a puzzled response.  She was pointing at me with an air of superiority.

“Ah…”

I finally realized what Saki was talking about. It was my clothes. I was wearing the ones she chose for me yesterday.

Well, it was all about earning whatever brownie points I could. A toast to my cunning for having a backup plan on top of my other plans!

“But how exactly did I lose?”

“Oh, but you bought these clothes for me, didn’t you?”

Saki triumphantly held the dress I skipped school for to buy first thing in the morning in front of her.

“Okay okay. It’s my loss.” A raised my hand to surrender.

“Don’t you have school today?”

“It’s Memorial Service Day so we have the rest of the day off.”

“Alright, why don’t we go into the store then?”

Saki kept the dress in her hands and went inside.

“Saki.”

“What is it?”

That dress suits you the best

“!”

Saki, the very person who told me to say it to her face, turned around in a fluster so I could only see her back.

“Wh-what was that, saying that right in front of me…”

“You were the one who told me to do it.”

“Oh right. I forgot.” She snapped at me and went inside holding the clothes I bought her.

Saki was being a bit unreasonable with her protests, but it wasn’t a bad feeling.

I followed her inside the house, and before anything else, looked for the Kotonoha leaf.

It wasn’t here.

Saki must have kept it when she took the dress with her.

That was a problem.

“Hey, Saki. Give me that Kotonoha back.”

Saki spun around to face me and stuck out her tongue.

“You can’t take back the words you sent me.”

Kotonoha shined the colors of the rainbow in Saki’s hands.

It was true that I couldn’t take back the words I said, but she didn’t plan on returning Kotonoha either.

This was an utter loss for me. All I had left now was my embarrassment.

I didn’t even want to think about what would happen if Saki showed Towako-san my message. I’d never live it down.

“Just give it to me already!”

Saki didn’t respond to me shouting and walked away with the dress—and Kotonoha with it.

…Turns out Relics bring nothing but misfortune after all.

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8 thoughts on “Chapter 4 – True Thoughts

  1. Ahah Saki’s inner thoughts are always fantastic, she processes a lot of information/questions/answers with that poker face XD
    So this time is a date, it will be interesting to read what they will do !
    Lol at the moment Tokiya speaks badly about Saki “only black clothes” XD

    Like

  2. Completed the chapter !

    It was a fun but also painful one, I was really sorry for Saki in that moment (I experienced something similar, I understand her), but in the end Tokiya is a good guy and always thinks about her.

    The part where she says:
    “I didn’t have anything to believe in. There wasn’t anyone I could trust anymore.”
    she sound really lonely. 😦

    But that “Don’t forget your passport either.” Lol I died laughing XD

    Saki in the first image is really beautiful, in the second with her tongue stuck out … priceless !

    In this phrase “You should at look at me and say these things to my face.”
    Add least ! 🙂

    Thanks again for this chapter !

    Like

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