––We should all realise that we can only talk about the bad forgeries, the ones that have been detected; the good ones are still hanging on the walls.
It was now nearing the end of October, and we could see the signs of autumn deepening.
Like every day, quiet jazz was playing in the antique store Kura.
As they say, fall is the season of the arts. Come to think of it, fall fits Kura really well.
By the way, I was feeling a little restless, since it was at the point before autumn gets passed over and the season changes to winter, which is jam-packed with events.
I turned to look at my classmate’s invitation again, and let out a melancholy sigh.
“—What’s the matter?”
Holmes-san looked at me worriedly while he wrote in the account book.
“Ah, no. Umm… Holmes-san, have you ever been to a group blind date?”
“A group blind date?”
Even Holmes-san was bewildered by my outrageous question, and his eyes widened.
“I’ve been a university student for 5 years, so I have been to group blind dates. Could it be that you were invited to one?” He immediately returned his usual smile.
“Yes, the friends in my class have been quite insistent about it. Apparently, the other party will be university students, and they need me to balance the numbers.”
“University students…” Holmes-san’s eyebrows twitched.
“Do university students generally want to have group dates with high school students?”
Since a university would be filled with beautiful women, I wonder if they think of high school students as being too infantile?
“Well, there should be men who prefer innocent, youthful girls. However, if they specifically look to go on group dates with high school girls, I can only think of them as people who don’t hold back even when dealing with high school students, so please be careful.”
I was a little surprised by Holmes-san’s cold, blunt words.
It was rare for Holmes-san to answer like that.
That must be because of how much he’s worried about me.
But I found it funny, and burst out laughing.
“Did I say something weird?”
“I mean, you’re so worried about me, but as a plain girl, I’m just there to make the other girls look better. The other girls who invited me are really flashy, after all.”
I grinned, but Holmes-san sighed in response.
“I see, a lack of self-awareness can be a weapon as well as a sin.”
“No, it’s nothing. I phrase that wrongly.”
Holmes-san contemplated for a bit, then scratched his hair.
“No, thank you for worrying about me, but it’s fine.”
“It’s fine, you say?”
A complicated expression appeared on Holmes-san’s face as he rested his chin in his hands.
But certainly, university students who want to have blind dates with high school girls probably have a tendency to think that high school girls are easy to land.
A plain high school girl like me will definitely have to be careful, although I’m not really interested, so I’ll probably reject their advances.
I nodded, but Holmes-san was looking at something with sorrowful eyes.
He was holding something like a card in his hand.
“—What is that?”
I walked towards him, and he was replying, “Ah, this is…” while we looked at each other, when the door opened with a clink.
“Hi, Holmes, Aoi-chan!”
Akihito-san burst in with a full smile on his face.
“…Oh, it’s you again. Could you walk in more quietly next time?”
Holmes-san looked at him in exasperation.
As if having failed to hear those words, Akihito-san sat down on the sofa and started talking again.
Holmes-san openly revealed his distaste, causing me to giggle.
He and Akihito-san actually make quite a good combination.
“…What is it?”
“Do you know Suzumushi-dera?”
Akihito-san asked, his eyes gleaming. In response, I muttered, “Suzumushi-dera?” and tilted my head.
There’s a temple with such a cute name?1
“Yes, you can hear the cries of the bell crickets all year long, so it’s widely known as Suzumushi-dera, but its official name is Kegon-ji, and is an Ojizō2 temple renowned for fulfilling one wish.”
As always, Holmes-san explained smoothly.
“Fulfilling one wish?”
I gave another quizzical look, and Holmes-san nodded.
“Meaning that you can make only one wish, and it will be granted.”
“Wow, only one wish, huh.”
Akihito-san energetically leant forward.
“Have you been there before?”
“With some friends in middle school.”
“Was your wish granted?”
“…Yes, I managed to get into the high school of my choice.”
Holmes-san replied after recalling for a while.
“So it does grant wishes! Suzumushi-dera is amazing!”
Akihito-san clenched his fists.
…Wouldn’t Holmes-san have gotten into the school of his choice even if he didn’t make a wish to Ojizō-sama? I secretly thought.
“Did you come here to ask about it?”
“Come on, Holmes-san, let’s go together to Suzumushi-dera! I have a dream that I want fulfilled.”
Akihito-san exclaimed with a glimmer in his eye, but Holmes-san narrowed his eyes indifferently.
“Couldn’t you just go by yourself?”
“Oh, you have nothing to wish for? Come on, let’s go. Hey, Aoi-chan, you want to go too, right? You’re interested in a temple that grants just one wish, no matter what it is, right?”
While I was surprised at suddenly being thrown a question, I nodded and replied, “Y-Yes!” and gave a strong nod.
I couldn’t think of a wish that I wanted fulfilled, but I was interested.
Holmes-san sighed, as if saying, “There’s no helping it.”
“If Aoi-san says that she wants to go, then let’s go. Is next Sunday fine for you, then?”
“Next Sunday is a little sudden, isn’t it? Also, is it that pattern again? Do you have an appointment on that day?”
Akihito-san replied as he hurriedly pulled out his smartphone to check his schedule.
“Yes, I do have something on at Arashiyama in the afternoon.”
“What is it?”
“This,” Holmes-san showed us a card that was in his hand earlier.
That card seemed to be an invitation.
Written on it were the words, “Yanagihara Shigetoshi’s Birthday Celebration”.
“Yanagihara Shigetoshi… Is that Yanagihara-sensei?”
He’s an old friend of Owner’s, and is also a famous appraiser.
He was also one of the people who came to Owner’s birthday party.
“Yes, and he’s throwing a party for his 80th birthday. My grandfather was actually called over to China, so I have to be there as his replacement,” Holmes-san said with a shrug of his shoulders.
He didn’t seem too thrilled about it. (…Well, I suppose I can understand why.)
“The party will start at two in the afternoon, so shall we visit Suzumushi-dera first thing in the morning, sightsee around Arashiyama, then go to the party together?”
Holmes-san grinned as he made his suggestion.
“Huh? Putting Owner aside, I’m totally not interested in some old man’s birthday party, and I don’t want to go to one! Holmes, you’re afraid of being bored on your own, so you’re trying to get us to join in as well, right?” Akihito-san responded loudly.
…As usual, he’s such a straight person.
“Yanagihara-sensei’s house is near Tenryū-ji, and is a wonderful Japanese-style house. Furthermore, Yanagihara-sensei is also a renowned appraiser, so other famous people from various fields will attend the party as well, I believe.”
“I see, there’s no helping it, then. If that’s the case, I suppose there’s no harm in going.”
“…I’m doing you a favor, so why are you talking down to me? It’s perfectly fine if you don’t come for the party, you know.”
“Ah, no, please let me attend the party, Zen Master Holmes.”
Akihito-san hurriedly clapped his palms together, as if praying.
I giggled upon seeing the usual scene of those two people.
“Well, it’s great that my schedule is miraculously empty on Sunday. It’s recently been jam-packed with work. And now I’ve got a meeting, so see you!”
Akihito-san quickly spoke and scurried out of the shop.
“I didn’t even get the chance to give Akihito-san his coffee…”
After Akihito-san left the shop, Holmes-san, who had been preparing coffee, gave a wry smile and shrugged.
“While we’re at it, shall we take a break? I’ll pour the coffee.”
I sat facing the counter and brought the café au lait that Holmes-san made to my lips. In front of me, Holmes-san also drank his coffee gracefully.
…He has long fingers, and his eyelashes are quite long as well…
“What’s the matter?”
Noticing my gaze, Holmes-san suddenly lifted his head and asked, causing me to panic.
“Ah, I was thinking that it’s going really smoothly for Akihito-san. He seems to be really busy with work recently.”
Yes, he did say that his schedule was jam-packed.
“I don’t think so. If it was all smooth sailing for Akihito-san, he wouldn’t have needed to intentionally show us that he was so busy. I believe he’s making upward progress, but it isn’t stable progress, so he’s feeling really uneasy about it. That’s why he wanted to make a wish at Suzumushi-dera.”
Holmes-san replied calmly. As expected, he was being really sharp.
“…Is Suzumushi-dera famous? I’ve never heard of it.”
“I suppose it’s only known to those who know.”
“Holmes-san, you’ve been there once in middle school, right?”
“Could it be that because Suzumushi-dera only grants one wish, you’ve never been there again?”
“It’s not one wish per lifetime. You can buy a charm from Suzumushi-dera, make one wish to Ojizō-sama, and if that wish is fulfilled, you can pay a visit of thanks to the temple, return the charm, buy another charm, then make a new wish. Many people do that, actually… Come to think of it, I haven’t paid a visit of thanks to Suzumushi-dera yet. I returned the charm from back then by mail.”
“You can do it by mail?”
“Yes, since there are people who live far away. Quite a lot of those people come to give their thanks in person, though.”
“That means that their wishes do come true, right? That’s amazing, now I’m feeling really excited to go there!” I exclaimed, then took a glance at Holmes-san.
As usual, he had a calm expression.
“Holmes-san, you don’t seem to be too into it, but don’t you have wishes that you want granted with the help of Suzumushi-dera? You must have one, right?”
I tried asking a simple question, but Holmes-san suddenly frowned.
“—That’s the thing.”
“I mean, I’m bothered by having only one wish. I’m a covetous man, so I have many desires, but I don’t have any one that stands out over the rest. In middle school, I was unable to decide, so I went for the safe option and wished to get into the school of my choice.”
“…Ah, I see. I suppose it can be difficult to decide on just one wish.”
In a sense, it’s good for Akihito-san that he has a clear idea of what he wants.
He’s probably going to wish for success in the entertainment industry.
—Only one wish can be granted, huh.
Come to think of it, what should I wish for?
I seriously thought about it.
“Currently, there is a wish that’s in my thoughts the most, but I don’t think it’s a wish that I should ask of a Buddhist temple,” Holmes-san said, and I looked up in surprise.
“What kind of wish is it?”
“It’s the wish of crushing Enshou once and for all the next time we meet, but I don’t think I want to borrow Ojizō-sama’s power for that.”
“Ah, I understand. Holmes-san, you really don’t like to lose, huh.”
I giggled, and a smile appeared on Holmes-san’s face.
“Not many people say that about me, but yes, I do have a strong competitive spirit.”
“I know. Also, you have a stubborn, but righteous side of you, which is completely different from the side you usually show, but I think it’s also wonderful.”
I spoke keenly, causing Holmes-san to display a surprised look.
“Ah, sorry, that was rude of me.”
“No, I’d like to thank you for that?”
“Eh?” Why would he do that?
“As you say, I hate to lose, and I’m stubborn… I’m a man with two completely different sides, and I have never been praised for my inner side before.”
Holmes-san quietly replied.
“To me, your inner and outer sides are both Holmes-san.”
Upon hearing my response, the young appraiser-in-training returned a smile without saying a word.
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