Chapter 7: Complaining
After finishing my part-time job today, I went straight to a family restaurant on my way home.
I had already received a call on my phone from Kazemiya saying that she would be there ahead of me before my part-time job.
I entered the restaurant and was usually guided to my seat, but not anymore.
I checked the ‘usual seat’ in the restaurant…she was there.
Today, her bright golden hair was dazzling once again, and she was looking at her phone with boredom.
She looked stunning.
However, the fact that she became somewhat picturesque just by sitting there was a quintessence.
I and Kazemiya just kind of clicked yesterday(?).
We were not close friends before.
We had been strangers for a long time.
It wasn’t the same as being too familiar, or the way I interacted with her, the tension, or something like that.
Anyway, I hadn’t fully grasped it yet.
“What’s the matter?”
“I was just trying to figure out what kind of stance I should take.”
“….that, I understand a little.”
Apparently, Kazemiya felt the same way.
I never thought we would be on the same page to this extent.
“Isn’t this fine? Just relax and be easygoing.
You shouldn’t have to worry about this, not here, not with each other.”
I immediately understood that the nuance of the message was that we already had to be careful at home.
If I keep worrying, even here, I won’t stand it.”
We are in an alliance, right? If we exhaust each other, it would be a total disaster, wouldn’t it?”
Nodding to Kazemiya’s words, I opened the menu.
“Oh, a limited-time grape fair.”
“Do you like grapes?”
But I mostly eat the regular menu in rotation.
This kind of limited-time offer is good for me because it gives me a change of taste.”
“Eating the same thing all the time can get boring.”
“I think the problem is on our side, too…Yep.
It’s dessert, so I should eat this after dinner.
Anyway, I think I’ll have pasta for dinner tonight.”
I finished my order with a set of free refill drinks, poured myself a glass of melon soda, and returned to my seat.
“You always drink that at the beginning.
Do you have a personal rule?”
“Eh, really? It was unconscious…….”
Unconscious, huh? How much do you like melon soda?”
When I saw her smiling face in front of me like this, I wondered if I was too simple, because she seemed a lot softer than the impression I had of her in the classroom.
“This kind of Kazemiya……what are you usually drinking, by the way?”
The drink bar at Flowers was roughly divided into three categories: ‘drinks,’ ‘tea,’ and ‘coffee’.
‘Drinks’ were mainly juices such as melon soda and lemon soda, which were served in clear glasses.
So I guess Kazemiya knew what I liked from the color of the juice in the clear glass.
However, for ‘tea’ and ‘coffee,’ they used white cups for serving hot drinks.
It was difficult to tell what one was drinking from the outside.
And there was always that cup placed at Kazemiya’s table, and I only knew that it was either ‘tea’ or ‘coffee’.
Ah, but maybe I drink a lot of tea.”
“You don’t like coffee?”
“It’s not like that.
I just often drink tea at another chain restaurant…I don’t know why.”
“You’re doing it unconsciously, too?”
So, Kazemiya was a tea drinker.
I had always wondered what she drank.
I never thought that the day would come when I would find out.
At that time, a person who was making coffee from the drink bar passed by our seats in a timely manner.
“….Ah, I see.
I think I kind of get it now.”
The aroma of coffee must have reached Kazemiya.
Somewhat self-mockingly, she looked at the backs of those who had passed by.
“I didn’t like the smell of coffee.
It makes me feel like I’m at home.”
Did her sister or her parents drink coffee on a regular basis?
Well, it didn’t matter to me.
I wouldn’t meddle or step into someone else’s family affairs.
In a way, that was always my rule.
It wouldn’t change even if I were on the side of listening to their complaints.
“You reply like it doesn’t matter to you.”
“It doesn’t matter to me, actually.”
“….really, I like that part about Narumi, it’s comfortable.”
“The part where you don’t meddle in my family affairs.”
“I think that’s what I’m expected to do as someone to complain to”
“It would help if all mankind were like that.”
Kazemiya’s face looked exhausted.
Furthermore, she looked a little fidgety…could this be it? Right away?
“….If you want to start complaining right away, I’ll listen as long as I can.”
“….Really? I mean, how did you know? That I want to start complaining.”
“I often hear people at my part-time job talk to me about their complaints.
I’ve come to recognize those signs.”
“A sign, huh.”
Something hit the spot and Kazemiya started to talk.
“That’s what this alliance was about in the first place.”
My eyes were not wrong when I chose Narumi, huh?”
After saying this, Kazemiya plopped down on the table with a big, loud sigh.
“Ahh…geez, I’m really, really tired.
Now that I became a second-year student…I’m getting a lot of these things again, like ‘I want to meet your sister,’ ‘I want your contact information,’ and ‘I want her autograph’.
I don’t want them talking to me.”
“I didn’t know there were still people in our class who would ask such questions.”
“There are no more from our class.
It’s mostly from other classes……and the most common are the freshmen.”
If they’re new students, they probably don’t know anything…that’s hard.”
“That’s right, it’s hard.
…And today, Sawada was especially awful, and I bet Narumi saw it too.”
“Well, I did see it…”
“What is with that guy? In the first place, I’m not interested in class gatherings, and in addition, the other girls stare at me because I’ve been asked to give my personal contact information…….”
“Sawada has a lot of fans.
After all, he is a prince, the pride of the second-year students.”
“What a splendid prince he is, to do something like that and not think about what his fans might think.”
She was fed up… No wonder, though.
If she had to deal with the prince’s fans in addition to her sister’s fans, she would be exhausted.
Was it good to begin with?”
“What is it?”
“You didn’t exchange contact information with Sawada.
And yet, you were willing to exchange contact information with me.”
“Ahh, I don’t mind Narumi.
You don’t seem to use it for weird stuff, and I trust you as an alliance partner.
You wouldn’t come here again if you were going to use it for something strange.
We were regulars at the same restaurant.”
If asked, it was true that Kazemiya and I had formed an alliance only in the past few days, but we had been aware of each other as regulars at this restaurant for some time.
If I wanted to take some kind of action, the opportunity was lying around the corner.
“……at least you’re better than that Sawada.”
“I don’t think Sawada would use it for anything weird either.”
Those people are likely to do something unnecessary with good intentions, and the people around them are likely to be a bunch of thoughtless people.
I wouldn’t want to cause unnecessary resentment among fans by having the outer moat filled in without their knowledge and having a relationship turned into a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship without their permission.”
…did that mean that that had happened in the past?
Kazemiya’s appearance was outstanding even at school, and she was so beautiful that it was no surprise when she was called a very popular idol.
That was probably the reason she had so many troubles in the past.
“Narumi, can you tell Sawada? He should at least take care of his own fans.”
“Don’t be absurd.”
“You both are boys.”
“Don’t compare such a top caste superior with an ordinary citizen who just crawls along the bottom of the pile.
The only thing we have in common is that we have arms, legs, and feet that move.
Say that by mistake.
In this day and age, you’d be beheaded in two seconds.”
And the pasta I ordered arrived at the same time Kazemiya was again mysteriously amused.
“Narumi always says “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisosama” properly, huh.”
“Is that weird?”
“I think it’s good to be well behaved.”
“I’m not trying to be well-behaved.
I lived with my mother until a little while ago.
It’s a kind of self-preservation so that people won’t say that we’re a single-mother family or that my mother didn’t raise me well.”
You must be going through a lot of hardship there, too.”
“Just so you know, I don’t need any sympathy.
I’m happy as I am, and my mom seems happy now that she’s remarried.”
I don’t sympathize with you, and I don’t intend to.”
Kazemiya said that she felt comfortable with me, but I felt that Kazemiya was the one who was comfortable from my point of view.
As I was quietly eating my dinner, I received an incoming call from my mom.
Can I answer this?”
“Sure, don’t worry about it.”
With her approval, I answered the phone.
“Kouta, where are you?”
“I’m on my way home from a part-time job.”
“Are you taking a detour again?”
Well, just for a moment.”
Just as I was wondering if we were going to repeat the exact same exchange as yesterday, I could hear the faint sound of my mother’s breath on the other end of the phone.
Mom did that thing this morning……”
“I said something like ‘that person,’…but I meant it differently.
It’s not that I’m favoring Kotomi-chan or that I’m disappointed in you.”
“I don’t care about that kind of thing.”
This morning’s incident was still lingering in Mom’s mind, apparently.
“So, you’re going to be late again today, right? Yesterday you came home later than usual……and I was thinking that you might not come home at all.”
“I won’t do that.
I met a friend yesterday.
We had a good time talking…and she’s a girl, so I walked her home.
You know, it’s not safe to let her walk alone.
It’s the same thing today.
We were talking at the restaurant, that’s why I’m coming home late…”
“You don’t have any female friends.
You don’t have to go to the trouble of lying like that…….”
“I’m not lying!”
Although some of the stories were false, most of them weren’t.
It was true that I was talking with Kazemiya, and that I was walking her home.
But my mom didn’t believe me, apparently.
……Of course, she wouldn’t.
In fact, I had no interest in women until I formed an alliance with Kazemiya.
As I was racking my brain trying to figure out how to get her to believe me, Kazemiya tapped me lightly on the shoulder with her finger.
“You want me to take the call?”
“She would believe it if I was the one taking the call.”
It was indeed true if you ask me, but……it was no good.
However, I couldn’t think of any other solution.
Can you please?”
“Leave it to me.”
In the end, all I could do was honestly rely on my alliance partner.
This is Kazemiya, Narumi-kun’s classmate.”
I’m sorry about yesterday.
He was so concerned about me, he walked me home.
And I’m sorry I borrowed your son again today.
Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
After some discussion, Kazemiya returned my phone to me, and I resumed talking to my mom.
“When did you start having a female friend?”
“I see…I’m sorry.
I’ve been doing a lot of things that make me doubt you.
This is not good.
I know I have to move on and not be tied to ‘that person’ anymore…….”
“….It’s okay, I don’t care.
As long as Mom is happy, that’s all that matters.”
Apparently, she had calmed down.
I was responsible for my mother worrying and overthinking like this.
So I didn’t want her to worry too much or think about unnecessary things.
In the end, she said, “Give my regards to Kazemiya-san.
Be sure to walk her home,” after which I hung up the phone.
“Was it unnecessary?”
“Honestly, you’ve been a great help.
“We’re an alliance for times like this…….and I’m aware that I’ve been a bit intrusive.
“It’s hard for me to ask you to talk to my mom on the phone, so I really appreciate it.”
“……I’m glad you put it that way.”
We then ordered a grape parfait after dinner, and after another little chatting, we left the restaurant.
“What do you do at home, Narumi?”
“Lately I’ve been playing a game Natsuki recommended.”
“Is it fun?”
“I’m pretty addicted.
It’s a great way to pass the time.”
Then tell me about it.”
“Okay, but do you play games, Kazemiya?”
Sometimes I do it with my friends.”
“I didn’t know you had friends…….”
“What do you think I am?”
Kazemiya’s cheeks puffed out slightly as if she was upset, and she looked somewhat childish.
Her appearance in the classroom was also somewhat mature, so the gap between the two was somewhat interesting.
“They’re in different classes, and we try not to get too involved at school.”
This was probably partly because of her own reputation and partly because she didn’t want to bother her friends about her sister.
Also, the game called…….
I’ll send you the link later.”
“You don’t have to force yourself to do something just because I recommended it to you.
If it doesn’t suit you, you can stop right away, and it’ll be hard to be concerned about that.”
Don’t worry, I don’t care about that kind of thing.”
We arrived at Kazemiya’s house in no time and split up for the day.
On the way home, I was thinking about what I would do when I got home.
I guess I’d distracted her from the fact that I’d be home late, but now I was sure Mom would be asking a lot of questions about Kazemiya.
It was probably much better trouble than being fed up with being uncomfortable.
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