Senjougahara-san put the cucumber from the salad into her mouth, and her face took on an indescribable expression.
I thought I shouldn’t make too much of a mess in someone else’s kitchen, so the breakfast I had prepared was ever so simple.
The baguette left over from yesterday, and hot milk. Some other dishes like fresh raw vegetables for a salad, and fried eggs over bacon, sunny-side-up, that when I lined them up on the table had made Senjougahara-san comment that they “look delicious” as well.
It had still been fine when she gulped down her milk in a single breath, but her hue changed when she had a mouthful of salad.
It was a complete one-eighty.
“Hanekawa-san, do you mind?”
“…What is it?”
“Oh, no, just hold on. For now, I’d just like to confirm this unbelievable situation.”
Having said this, Senjougahara-san once more stuffed salad into her mouth and munched on it. Continuing on, she silently ate the eggs and baguette.
As she did so, her difficult expression did not change.
I’m not exactly slow, so I can tell more-or-less what Senjougahara-san is thinking by seeing her reaction, but… huh?
Did I do something wrong?
Thinking this, I nervously tasted the food I prepared for myself — but did not find anything wrong in particular.
At the very least, I did not burn the egg or mix detergent into the ingredients or anything like that.
In which case, what was Senjougahara-san displeased by?
If anything, it was me who cast my eyes in puzzlement at her, and Senjougahara-san
said this meaningfully.
“Um, Senjougahara-san — ”
“Do you know what ‘dressing’ is, Hanekawa-san?”
I was suddenly struck by a question.
“Well, yes, of course. That’s the stuff you put on salads once in a while, right?”
“I see, I see.”
As though grasping the issue, Senjougahara-san nodded deeply.
“What’s your opinion on the three-way struggle between those putting Worcester sauce, soy sauce, or pepper on their eggs?”
“Oh, I’ve heard about people like that. They put things on their eggs.”
“Oh, yes, yes.”
Senjougahara-san nodded more and more.
As though a favorable result was coming from her experiment.
“Did you notice the butter and jam in the refrigerator?”
“I did… you brought it out yesterday, after all. Oh, sorry, do you usually have some?”
However, Senjougahara-san did not leave her seat to get the butter, but tore the baguette apart and quietly chewed on the pieces.
“I have some more questions for you.”
“Please, go ahead.”
“About your eating habits, Hanekawa-san.”
“My eating habits? It’s all really normal, though.”
“How about sushi in soy sauce?”
“I don’t dip them.”
“How about sauce on your tempura?”
“I don’t dip them.”
“How about granules in your yogurt?”
“I don’t put them in.”
“Do you write on your hamburger or omelette with ketchup?”
“I don’t write anything.”
“What sauce do you put on your pancake?”
“I don’t put anything on.”
“How about salt in your rice balls?”
“I don’t mix them in.”
“What kind of syrup do you like with your snow cone?”
“I like it plain.”
“How much sugar in your coffee?”
“I’ll have it black, thank you.”
I see, and Senjougahara-san ended her questions.
It felt as though I had received some sort of psychological test, but having reached this point, I understood what she was dissatisfied with.
“Oh, I see now. I’m sorry, you’re the kind of person who wants dressing on your salad, right, Senjougahara-san? That’s why you looked so strange.”
“No, I didn’t even realize until now that there’s a kind of people who didn’t want salad dressing.”
“It’s the first time I’ve seen plain fried eggs as well, and the first time I’ve seen bread being brought out as just plain bread… um, Hanekawa-san? Do you have some sort of rejection against adding flavor in your cooking? Satisfied with the natural, unseasoned taste, perhaps?”
It took some time for me to understand what she was saying, and after troubling over it for a while, I answered, “Oh, no.”
“That’s not it. I just think that it tastes good and just the same with dressing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Worcester sauce, soy sauce, or pepper, I can eat eggs just the same, and I love both Kinoko no Yama and Takenoko no Sato.”
“I wasn’t talking about your taste in chocolates.”
Senjougahara-san snapped at me.
Oh, that’s wonderful.
So that was worth making quips at.
“But, doesn’t cooking taste just as good even without taste?”
“A clincher appears.”
“Huh? But I’m just saying that it’s all the same whether there’s taste or not, you know?”
“This is what people mean when they say, ‘letting the cat out of the bag yourself’.”
Though I suppose the cat was already long gone before you even realized it, said Senjougahara-san as she put down her chopsticks.
It was very much like her to steadily finish it all anyway without stopping.
“I’m done eating.”
Having said that to begin with,
“What I said about having similar tastes with you is now null and void.”
she continued with this.
I was voided.
“You’re like the opposite of a picky eater, Hanekawa-san. But this is different from not having likes and dislikes as well.”
“I’m sorry, Senjougahara-san, I still don’t really know what you’re trying to say.”
“Is it the taste of family, perhaps?”
Ignoring my question, Senjougahara-san said this, lost in her own reverie.
“Or no, perhaps you can simply accept any taste… eating anything is fine as you as you gain nutrients from it, maybe, to put it extremely. No, even nutrients are unneeded as long as you can fill your stomach, no…?”
“Please don’t talk about me like that, like I’m some sort of old warrior.”
“So the more tastes there are, the more of a bother it is. If you are not simply enjoying the natural taste — then in the end, I guess you are simply a permissive person. Perhaps it is a luxury to be fussing over seasoning.”
Well, my common sense folded quite easily, said Senjougahara-san, and she looked hard at me, when I still had not finished my meal yet.
“But you know… I wonder about that way of living, Hanekawa-san. This isn’t just about your eating habits, you are just — ”
Senjougahara-san appeared to be choosing her words.
How rare that was.
” — accepting everything and anything, aren’t you?”
In the end, Senjougahara-san chose the words that she had used before.
“Is having something you dislike not just as important as having something you like? — And yet, are you not just accepting everything and anything? Is it perhaps the same for me, and for Araragi-kun, as well?”
Did the conversation just change?
Did the topic just switch?
Did the scale of the talk just expand?
No — that was not it.
The conversation did not change, and the topic did not switch.
The scale was just the same as before.
This was about my living habits.
The lifestyle of Hanekawa Tsubasa.
“Our tastes aren’t similar so much as that my tastes are simply included as a part of your tastes as well — no, we can’t call them ‘tastes’ on your part, I think. It may be better not to call them as such. After all, liking everything and anything means finding everything and anything to be the same.”
Continuing to stare right at me, Senjougahara-san said this.
It was, just a bit.
Just a bit — like the flat tone she had once used in the past.
“Do you actually like Araragi-kun?”
And then, she asked once again.
“Can you tell me that you like Araragi-kun, one more time?”