I wouldn’t claim that I made no mistakes. There wasn’t enough time. However, I was pretty sure that I’d followed up with each of them appropriately. I couldn’t have missed anything…
But with a smiling face, Osanai-san placed her spoon on her small plate, and stared fixedly at me while propping her cheeks up with both hands. That meant that she already knew everything. It would just be disgraceful if I refused to admit my defeat this late in the game.
I raised both my hands.
“You’re right, I have. It was a marmalade-like sauce, and it was delicious.”
“Did you like Jeff Beck’s Charlotte that much?”
“It was the best.”
I declared. Osanai-san narrowed her eyes and nodded.
“I’m happy that you’re saying as much. I love it as well.”
She then continued.
“So, why did you think of doing something like this?”
“Er… because the Charlotte was so delicious.”
“Yes, you’ve already said so. So, why did you think of doing something like this?”
I see, so she wants to get me to say it. I looked up slightly at the heavens, turned to look down, and sighed.
“Because I was alone with you.”
Even though that sentence was sorely lacking in information, Osanai-san managed to perfectly understand it.
“Basically, you thought that just because we’re alone together, you can test my wits to your heart’s content? Did you think that it would be fun to deceive me?”
As expected of her. After being together for two years, she’d somehow become able to understand my thought process. I nodded.
The Charlotte was indeed delicious. But that was not enough for me to want to appropriate Osanai-san’s portion.
The relationship between Osanai-san and I was symbiotic, not codependent, so there was no need for us to meet in the summer holidays. When she pushed a map onto me without any explanation, cancelled our meeting at the eleventh hour and got me to run an errand for her under the blazing sun, she became indebted to me.
That meant the general reasoning behind my decision to pit her in a test of wits centered around the Charlottes was to get back at her. As people going down the path of the petit bourgeois, we should not show off our wisdom in front of others. However, it was easy for me to remove my limiter when I was alone with my comrade.
…At some point, the taste of the cake stopped mattering to me. The Battles of Kawanakajima are known not for the meaning of the battles, but for the two heroes facing off against each other. In a battle of wits with Osanai-san, the topic could have been something other than Charlottes.
Moving her right hand away from her cheek, Osanai-san gripped her spoon with the thumb and index finger of that hand, and used it to strike the rim of her coffee cup. Clink! It produced a high-pitched sound.
“There were three Charlottes, correct?”
“I only bought three. It wasn’t a total lie when I said they’d sold out.”
“I see. You didn’t buy three mango puddings, and I can’t imagine you eating three Charlottes. As I thought, there were only three from the beginning.”
Once again, but with a slight emphasis compared to earlier, she struck the coffee cup. Clink! That sound was like the banging of a judge’s gavel to me.
Osanai-san spoke with a brilliant smile on her face.
“Accompany me in the summer holidays. We’ll be visiting every shop in yesterday’s ranking, all the way to first place!”
I also put on a light smile. If there was a price for defeat, I would have to pay it.
As I was about to leave, I asked a question.
“There’s something I don’t get. Did I make a mistake? You shouldn’t be able to easily find out that there were three cakes.”
Osanai-san blinked several times, then pouted as if chiding me for not realizing it myself.
“It’s because you used a tissue to wipe your sweat.”
…Did I do such a thing?
“Right after spilling the coffee.”
I see. I remember now.
“At the beginning, when you came in from the outside, you used a handkerchief to wipe off your sweat. But after I returned from my phone call, you used a tissue. From that, I understood that while I was gone, you had become unable to use your handkerchief.”
I smiled wryly. If I let down my guard like that, it was only natural for Osanai-san to see through it. While I usually act like a master detective, it seems that I’m not suited to be a master criminal.
“A handkerchief is used for wiping something, so I thought that if you stopped being able to use it, you must have used it to wipe something other than sweat, and couldn’t take it out from your pocket. Moreover, the thing that was wiped off was something that you didn’t want me to know of. If not, you would have thought of using the paper napkins instead of dirtying your handkerchief, and even with you being reserved about these things, you would at least open the box of tissues. So, there was something that you didn’t want me to know was wiped off, and caused your handkerchief to be unusable. The only thing that fit the bill in that room was the bavarois.”
In my pocket were the cardboard, film, and my handkerchief. I’d scraped off the bavarois stuck on the cardboard and film with a spoon, and used my handkerchief to wipe off the rest. The box of tissues had been in an unopened state, so I was worried that if I opened it, that would be picked up by Osanai-san, and she would ask about what I used the tissue to wipe. As for the paper napkins, I didn’t want to recklessly alter them in their piled-up state, so I’d avoided using them. It would have been fine if I had some pocket tissues, but I unfortunately hadn’t brought any. I’d noticed that I didn’t have any while I was in Jeff Beck, but I failed by not taking one.
Actually, right after that, I’d used my handkerchief to wipe barley tea that had spilled while I was pouring it in the coffee cup, but I wouldn’t be able to face Osanai-san if I ever admitted that.
I put my hand on the doorknob at the entranceway.
“If I hadn’t wiped my sweat as soon as I came into the house, I don’t think you would have realized it.”
I spoke with a slight feeling of not wanting to admit defeat. Osanai-san thought for a bit, then nodded.
“That’s probably true, but… If I wasn’t aware of it at all, you would have likely given a hint because it’s not fun to have a perfect victory. It’s Kobato-kun we’re talking about, after all.”
…Nah, I won’t do that. I’m a little citizen.
I turned the doorknob and left Osanai-san’s house. On the way back, I was assaulted by the intense sunlight and hot air, causing sweat to instantly form on my body.
Turning to look up, I stared at the summer sun. Seriously, it was all because of the annoying heat.
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, _Maki
Assistants (Tier 1) : Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez
Thank you very much for all your support!