Ch 26 Best and better

“What are you buying? If it’s sports equipment, I have no idea.”

When I half-jokingly asked him that, Saijo-senpai smiled briskly after all.

Waving his hand, Saijo-senpai opened his mouth.

“Aizawa-san’s little sister, if I’m not mistaken, it’s Ageha-san, isn’t it? Her birthday is approaching, isn’t it?”

I nodded back at Saijo-senpai’s question.

Just before the start of Golden Week, two days later, on April 25, would be Ageha’s sixteenth birthday.

Perhaps Karen told him about it.

But what does this have to do with Saijo-senpai’s shopping trip?

“I want you to pick out a birthday present for her together.”

“Saijo-senpai wants to get a present for Ageha?”

‘Yeah, well, I’m not going to give it to her directly, but I’m going to have Aizawa-san give it to her.
I don’t know her that well, but we may have a long relationship from now on… No, we’ll have a long relationship.
I want to stay on good terms with her sister.”

Nodding in agreement, I stirred the milk and syrup into my iced tea.

It is normal to want to be friends with the family of someone you are dating, but I had never heard of someone suddenly giving you a birthday present.

… Well, I’m sure Ageha will be happy in the end, even if she is a little confused.

Anyway, I got the general gist of the situation.

Sucking up the milk tea through a straw, I wondered what I should do.

To be honest, I don’t see any benefit to me at all.

I think it’s out of my control to think of socializing with others in terms of profit and loss, but if someone as inconspicuous as I am were to go out with Saijo-senpai, it would probably cause unnecessary animosity.

Even so… I can’t disrespect Saijo-senpai’s desire to have a long-lasting relationship with Karen and to get along with Ageha with an eye toward the future.

I want Karen and her family to be happy.

I’m not sure if giving a present to Ageha will lead to that, but my answer was already decided.

“I understand, if that’s the case.
I was just thinking of going to buy a present after school tomorrow, so if that time is all right.”

“Yes, of course.
Thank you, that’s very helpful.
I’ve never given a woman a gift before, so I was wondering what to give her.
You know her sister’s taste well, don’t you?”

“I’m proud to say that I know more than most people do.
Even so, it was a surprise.
Because it’s about Saijou-senpai… Ah, no, it’s nothing.”

I almost swallowed the words I was about to say.

Some people might find it offensive.

However, Saijo-senpai, with a smile bordering on a wry smile, said in a nonchalant manner, “It’s okay, I’m used to people saying that to me.”

“You were surprised that I’m not used to giving women gifts, weren’t you?”

“No, no… Well, yes.”

“Basically, even if I receive a present, I don’t return it.
I’m sorry, but, well, some girls take them seriously.”

“… Sorry.”

At the sound of his heavy voice, I still bowed my head.

Everyone has things they don’t want people to touch.

Perhaps for Saijo-senpai, this is one of those things.

He was pretending that nothing was wrong, but his every word was dripping with that kind of emotion.

Saijo-senpai’s eyes widened for a moment, then he smiled and said, “I really don’t mind,” before muttering a small “thank you.”

I didn’t do anything to be thanked.

It was my fault for trying to get into Saijo-senpai’s inner workings.

For a while, only the sounds of coffee sipping and milk tea sucking through a straw passed between us.

With a clattering sound, another group of people entered the restaurant.

As I casually followed them with my gaze, I remembered something I had forgotten to tell him.

“Umm, Saijou-senpai.
Is it really okay for me to choose a present for Ageha?”

“Of course.
The only person who knows her better than you do is Aizawa-san.”

“… Well, if you think about it, you should have asked Karen.”

“The woman’s viewpoint and the man’s viewpoint are different in what they choose.
The sisters are not the same in their tastes, I will be in trouble the next time I buy a present for Aizawa-san.”

“Trouble?”

“I want to choose Aizawa-san’s gift from scratch.
I’ve gotten to know her tastes over the course of our relationship.”

I seem to understand, but I don’t understand.

It is true that when I choose a gift to give to Ageha, I think about her preferences based on what I know about her.

However, by the time I realized how much I liked her, I already knew a lot about her.

The same can be said for Karen.

If I meet someone other than my two childhood friends and have romantic feelings for her, will I think about something like Saijo-senpai?

I don’t know, and it’s pointless to think about such things.

I can’t imagine the current me falling in love with anyone other than Ageha.

“So how do you know which one is the best?”

“No, because if I had to choose, it wouldn’t be the best one.”

“What do you mean?”

“I will give the best thing that Ageha wants.
So I will recommend the second or later one to Saijo-senpai.”

“―――”

Saijo-senpai, who looked stunned, immediately burst into laughter.

“Oh, of course.
You give her the best one.
I can pick out the better one, minus that one… Oh, no, but okay.
Yeah, good.
That’s a relief.”

“What?”

“No, I’m talking about over here.
Okay, well, how about we meet in front of the station tomorrow after school?”

Saijo-senpai asked in a fresh tone of voice, as if his worries had been lifted.

I was troubled for a moment and then gave a small nod in return.

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