“I called you many, many times last night.”
Senjougahara-san said, having gone back to her usual, cool-beauty self as if nothing had happened. The speed of the switch was worthy of my astonishment. Even so, the area around her eyes was still bright red, so she hadn’t relaxed completely yet.
On the other hand, it seemed that I tossed around quite a bit in my sleep and messed up my hair, probably because of the bed (I got called a ‘Super Hanekawan’) so I suppose I didn’t look completely relaxed, either.
I just thought it was incredible how Senjougahara-san managed to act normally, as though the flood of tears from before were just a pretense.
Really, she was just so adorable.
It almost made me not mind the state my hair was in.
“I couldn’t even imagine how it would feel to have your home burn down… I’d thought that maybe you wouldn’t want anyone talking to you right now, so I had been holding back, but I was still worried… so I made up my mind and decided to go ahead and call you anyway, but it wouldn’t go through.”
“Oh. Sorry, I turned my phone off.”
“I thought the living would be rough from here on, so I ought to be more frugal.”
I wasn’t using the phone in place of my alarm clock because I had some trust in my own biological clock, but of course, there was also a more pragmatic reason.
I couldn’t be completely sure whether the school would let me use their outlets or not (my teacher would lend me one if I explained the reason, but ultimately, the use of cellphones was banned in school).
“My goodness, you are strait-laced… you can just borrow the outlets here and there.”
“That’s called theft.”
“I had to run all over the city, thanks to you. I managed to learn that you were staying at a friend’s house after asking a lot of different people — but no one told me who in the class you were staying with.”
“How… how many people?”
“Everyone I knew.”
To Senjougahara-san, who once upon a time had risen beyond a mere fear of strangers and reached the epitome of human distrust, this was a growth.
However, due to said growth, the news of my disappearance was now known to the class…
“Also, I’m sorry. I met your parents as well.”
That was a surprise.
Does that mean she went to visit the hotel they were staying in?
Well, I guess anyone with the patience and connections would be able to find them…… they weren’t exactly in hiding, and they had a postal address.
In fact, Senjougahara-san probably visited them, assuming that I was following th– that I was there.
“I see. So, you met… Father, and Mother.”
“You’ve never actually called those people ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’, have you?”
Senjougahara-san said nonchalantly.
Even more nonchalantly than usual.
She seemed displeased.
In the past, you wouldn’t be able to tell what she was thinking at all just by reading her expression, but emotions have been appearing on her face lately.
Joy, and sorrow.
…It would seem that she had quite received quite the reception.
Things would be so much easier if those two could just improve on their external displays — Oshino-san also got a pretty horrible reception during Golden Week — but I wonder if I were one to talk when I myself couldn’t think of anything decent to say in the current situation.
I just can’t follow up on things like that.
“It seems much has happened. Not that I mean to pry.”
Unlike Araragi-kun, she knew very little about my situation, the discord and distortion of the Hanekawa family, but seemingly with no intention of becoming too deeply involved, she briskly returned our conversation to its original course.
A show of skill from the Senjougahara-san I know.
I remember why I admired her.
“After that, I started looking around at random, and finally, I thought of this place just as it became morning. Well, I thought of this place from the very beginning, but I didn’t even want to consider a girl of your age spending the night in a ruin like this… but maybe, just maybe, I searched this place last.”
“Huh. Huh? Wait, are you saying you stayed up the whole night, Senjougahara-san?”
“I am saying I stayed up the whole night, Senjougahara-san. Staying up all night, what they call ‘stay-upper’ for short.”
That’s why I got so excited when I found you and started crying, said Senjougahara-san.
That’s a cute excuse.
‘Staying up all night’ is an ‘all-nighter’, by the way.
“….A girl of your age wandering around the streets at night sounds plenty dangerous to me.”
“I don’t have any way to answer that.”
I’m not really the thinking-ahead type, said Senjougahara-san.
Now that I looked, she was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, a very rough style. The way she was covered in sweat told me that, rather than ‘wandering’, she had been running about like Kanbaru-san.
I thanked her shortly, and as nonchalantly as possible, and then lowered myself from the bed.
It didn’t hurt.
I didn’t believe myself to be an excellent human being, no matter how much Araragi-kun may tell me so, but it would seem that I have some talent at bed making.
I fancied myself becoming, perhaps, a bed maker in the future.
Can you learn it by studying in Germany or something?
“It’s all right, it was something I decided to do by myself — and judging from your situation, it seems I’ve done something rather fruitless.”
“Of course not. Not that you’ve mentioned it, I finally realized just how dangerous this was. They say fire can drive anyone into a panic, so it looks like that fire got me in a pretty strange mood.”
“Perhaps. In fact, I hope that is the case — you do some incredibly dangerous things even just naturally, did you know that?”
“Seducing Araragi-kun, for one.”
A ‘hmph’ was all I managed.
I couldn’t figure out a rebuttal.
I haven’t been trying to seduce him at all, and yet I couldn’t object.
The theory that I was the one who made him the way he is, was unexpectedly persistent among the public.
“He really was very aloof back then… when he first got involved with me. There’s barely any trace of that left now.”
“Is it… because of me?”
“Well, there was the matter of the tiger, as well… in any case, I certainly did worry too much. I apologize, I should have known better. Now, let’s go.”
“Go? Go where? To school?”
Senjougahara-san said this as though it were obvious.
“I will say this one more time for your sake, but if you attempt to resist, a stapler will be going into your mouth, and it will close shut around the side of your neck. Anything to bring you with me, Hanekawa-san.”
Seeing as that was apparently what she actually did to Araragi-kun a long time ago, there really was no way for me to go against what she said.