“1:30 in the afternoon… that was quite a long sleep. Did you just wake up, Hanekawa-san?”
“Yep. Pretty much.”
“Heh. Who would’ve ever thought that I’d wake up in the same bed as Hanekawa-san?”
“Please don’t make it sound like some kind of pillow talk.”
“I’m quite sensitive normally so I usually sleep light, but I slept very well today. I wonder why? Maybe it was because of my pillow.”
“By that, do you mean your father’s pillow? Or your new hugging pillow?”
Not that either choice boded well.
But I wasn’t one to talk, seeing as I myself slept so well that I didn’t dream at all. Was Senjougahara-san’s pillow that comfortable? Or was it her bedding? Or was it my new hugging pillow…
No hugging. Not me.
“Now then. Are you hungry, Hanekawa-san? I was thinking of making breakfast… or rather, lunch.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea. I’ll help.”
“Is there anything you don’t like to eat?”
Senjougahara-san crawled out of the bed and headed to the dressing room. She probably wanted to hold the kitchen knife only when she had washed her face and was completely awake.
She came back out, and went into the kitchen.
I say ‘kitchen’, but given the size of the house, it was basically the same room.
Senjougahara-san hummed a tune as she put on her apron.
She was in a good mood, for some reason.
Perhaps she liked cooking.
I remembered that Araragi-kun had previously lamented the lack of home cooking on the part of Senjougahara-san, though speaking of which, I hadn’t heard anything like that recently. I wondered if that meant he had had an opportunity to taste his girlfriend’s cooking.
“What is it?”
“If I started slowly reducing myself to a naked apron right now, would you go moe?”
“I would snap.”
Is that so, Senjougahara-san nodded, and began taking out food items from the refrigerator.
It seems we can settle this without aggravation.
As I didn’t really know how to snap at someone, that was rather helpful.
“By the way, Hanekawa-san, did you know that you write moyashi with the same character as moe? Ever since knowing that, I can’t help but find eating sprouts delicious.”
“Um, no, I don’t think the taste of something will change just for that…”
Senjougahara-san turned to face me with a strikingly posed look.
Sticking the tip of the kitchen knife at me.
“Is it not, in fact, high praise to call someone a ‘sprout’?!”
To be honest, I didn’t think it was that interesting, but with a kitchen knife waving in my face, I couldn’t make any unwise objections.
But she does look really fitting with a knife, doesn’t she?
(Several word-based puns incoming. I still haven’t figured out how to translate these. Sorry.)
“What kind of rice do you like, Hanekawa-san? Koshihikari? Or Sasanishiki?”
“I guess it’s already decided that we’re having rice, huh.”
“We call it ‘morning rice’ (朝ご飯), ‘afternoon rice’ (昼ご飯) and ‘evening rice’ (夕ご飯), after all. We would call it ‘morning bread’ (朝ブレード), ‘afternoon bread’ (昼ブレード) and ‘evening bread’ (夕ブレード) if it were bread.”
“That sounds pretty neat…”
But we could just refer to them normally as ‘breakfast’ (朝食), ‘lunch’ (昼食) and ‘dinner’ (夕食).
Senjougahara-san’s theory seemed to have quite a few holes.
“Hmm, yes. That you end up reading ‘evening bread’ (夕ブレード) as ‘tablet’ (タブレート) would be one of the holes in your theory.”
“No, there are bigger holes than that.”
“So does your house always have Koshihikari and Sasanishiki?”
“Of course not. We only have mystery rice.”
“Well, the word ‘mystery’ (謎) does include ‘rice’ (米), doesn’t it?”
“So, maybe it’s not ‘branded’ rice (ブランド米), but ‘blended’ rice (ブレンド米).”
“That gag is about fifteen years too late.”
There had been a time when various problems concerning rice blends and brands had been the main topic of gossips.
Of course, said problems weren’t gone so much as they simply were no longer a popular topic.
“It’s all right. Father is rather particular when it comes to rice cookers. It’s quite expensive, you know. Doesn’t it look like it doesn’t fit with the rest of this kitchen?”
I wondered why she felt the need about pointing this out, but it certainly seemed to have cost more than the monthly rent for this flat.
The rice cooker of the Hanekawa house was quite advanced in years, so I was secretly looking forward to it.
“Do you cook, Hanekawa-san?””
“Yeah, I do.”
Answering too directly would involve the situation of the Hanekawa family and cause discomfort in others, so it was troubling just how much detail I should reveal, but seeing as I was here by her leave, I thought I ought to be clear to a certain extent.
In addition, Senjougahara-san had already met the ones whom I should call my parents, so there was no point in keeping up appearances on purpose. Besides, I’ve talked with her about sleeping in the hallway before —
It wasn’t about what I should say, or whether there was a point or not.
I simply wanted to talk about it normally, with Senjougahara-san.
I didn’t want to hide anything from Senjougahara-san, who had been so worried about me.
“I make everything I eat.”
I suppose there’d been a period of time like that for me as well, said Senjougahara-san.
“I didn’t get along well with Mother, after all.”
“…They, divorced, right?”
“Yes. I haven’t met her since — I wonder what she’s doing now. Hopefully, she’s happy.”
Despite the topic, her tone was not one of great concern — the knife cutting the vegetables showed no sign of stopping.
I couldn’t say if that was natural or unnatural.
“Well, every house has its own story.”
Perhaps she had carefully calculated it, but just as the rice cooker sounded that the rice was finished, Senjougahara-san turned off the stove, and started serving food for two from the pot.
I asked her if there was anything she needed help with, but she refused, asking me to let her finish. She didn’t want me to interrupt her pace, apparently.
After that, we lined up the tableware along the coffee table — I shared her load, of course.
“Thanks for the meal.”
“Thanks for the meal.”
Rice, soup and stir-fried vegetables with chicken.
It made me curiously happy that she didn’t attempt anything fancy and simply cooked daily dishes, but explaining that feeling would take a fair amount of effort, so I didn’t say anything to Senjougahara-san.
I started eating.
“Oh, it’s great.”
Senjougahara-san appeared shocked.
“Araragi-kun never seems very happy with it. To be honest, I was expecting condemnation.”
So Araragi-kun isn’t happy with this…?
He really doesn’t spend enough time with girls.
Even if it wasn’t something he liked, he should have at least pretended to be happy.
Though I suppose this was also like him.
“I think it’s delicious. Though I guess there are personal differences in taste.”
“So that would mean you and I have similar tastes. In food, and in men.”
The soup spewed out of my mouth.
Terrible, terrible manners.
“Senjougahara-san… you really are baring too much with me…”
“Oh, no, I thought maybe we should talk about these kinds of things as well. So that we can really open our hearts to one another.”
“One wrong move, and the trench between us would get even deeper…”
She is a challenger, isn’t she?
Well, I felt glad as well that she would step up to me like that — it was difficult for me to step into her business.
“Well, in that case, Senjougahara-san, why don’t we just go all-out and talk about what we like about Araragi-kun?”
“No. If we did that, even in the unlikely event that this conversation ever leaves this room, it’s quite likely that he’ll get too cocky. So we shouldn’t.”
Senjougahara-san was strict when it came to her boyfriend.
She had no intension of praising him, apparently.
“Then, what should we talk about?”
“Yes, well, let’s talk about what we don’t like about Araragi-kun.”
“That’s more like it!”
After that, we spent the next three hours in a lively discussion.
I got so excited bad-mouthing someone…