The Summer-Exclusive Tropical Parfait of Cecilia, the first place shop in the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection.
Two days had passed since the kidnapping.
Cecilia was located on the second floor of a building that definitely could not be described as new, and to get to it one had to ascend a cramped staircase from the small entrance. I was worried that such a place could not possibly contain a good shop, but since it was one that Osanai-san had picked out, there was no mistake. Upon opening the glass door, I was greeted with the refreshing sound of a cowbell, as well as a truly refreshing atmosphere. No matter how many times I experience it, I am always pleased by these moments of surprise.
The shop largely made use of curvature as a theme in its design, with gourd-shaped tables. Their menu listed many different kinds of parfait. I was first dumbfounded by the naming of the “Cecilia Special Yggdrasil Parfait”, then got stunned by the price of the Summer-Exclusive Tropical Parfait. It was more expensive than any food that I’d paid for out of my own pocket.
Regrettably, I’d mentioned that I would be paying here as a celebration for the incident being resolved. Damn, so they have prices like that, huh. I wonder if we could just order one and share it. No, I’m definitely not skilled enough to attempt the dangerous, or rather, romantic task of sharing a parfait with Osanai-san. That said, just getting a coffee would paint a vivid picture about the state of my pockets, which would just be sad. What should I do…
A troubled look must have appeared on my face, for Osanai-san piped up.
“I’ll treat you, Kobato-kun. As thanks for saving me.”
That’s really nice of her. Thanks for that.
Before the parfaits arrived, Osanai-san was messing with her phone, while I was looking at the scenery outside the window. Cecilia was close to the station, and was also not that far from the South Municipal Gymnasium. The Sanya-dori Festival that extended from the station had already been cleanly cleared up.
“Thank you for waiting, here is your Summer-Exclusive Tropical Parfait.”
I was astounded by the parfait that arrived on our table with a cheerful voice. It was about thirty centimeters in height. The parfait glass in the shape of an inverse cone was filled with colorful fruits, and the spaces in between were taken up by fresh cream, yogurt, jelly and corn flakes. The white of the fresh cream and yogurt, the red of the jelly, and the myriad colors of the fruits made up five layers, with glimpses of corn flakes in between, producing a brilliant striped pattern. Above the edge of the parfait glass were slices of mango, pineapple, melon, peach, banana and watermelon, with a conical mountain of cream on top, as well as one cranberry and one blueberry at the peak. There was also supposed to be a ball of ice cream hidden in the mountain of cream. However, Osanai-san did not flinch at the sight of that, and instead picked up a long spoon in a joyous manner, using it immediately to taste the cream at the very top.
“Amazing, isn’t it? You need to prepare before ordering this parfait. You need to empty your stomach, raise the voltage of your appetite and order it with a yell. If not, you’ll end up leaving some of it… I’ve had such a horrible day the other time, so this is a perfect time to reward myself.”
I’d already had lunch, and my desire for sweet things cannot even be compared to Osanai-san’s. There is no way I can finish it… Feeling the despair of a soldier facing a war with only defeat in sight, I also picked up a spoon. Ah, this spoon is really long. It could probably reach to the bottom of the deep glass.
“The watermelon doesn’t go well with the fresh cream, so the trick is to eat it first.”
Osanai-san said as she pinched the watermelon and swallowed it, seeds and all.
Without missing a beat, Osanai-san’s spoon started moving fluently again, while mine dragged on sluggishly, as if saying, “I can’t possibly start with a steep mountain path!”
Naturally, the Summer-Exclusive Tropical Parfait that took up the honored top spot of the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection was delicious, but also had an inexplicable quality to it. Wouldn’t the tastiness of the parfait be equivalent to the tastiness of the fruits? The fresh cream and ice cream were delectable, but they were not remarkable. Wouldn’t it then be possible to make one at home with delicious fruit?
However, when I put some of it in my mouth, I felt as if I’d just entered an hour-long seminar on sweets, so I kept quiet and immersed myself in the task of breaking apart the mountain.
Osanai-san had already levelled everything above the edge of the parfait glass. After taking a glance up at me while I was digging out some ice cream, she spoke to me in a coaxing manner.
“Hey, Kobato-kun, it’s boring if we keep quiet like this. Can you tell me a story?”
A story, huh.
Alright, I’ll tell her a story. I swallowed the ice cream piled up on my spoon in one go. Ignoring the pain in my throat caused by chilling it so suddenly, I started the story.
“Right, I’ll talk a little about how significant this summer vacation in the second year of high school has been.
“My acquaintance, Doujima Kengo, was meddling in someone else’s affairs. A second-year high school student, Kawamata Sanae, had been dragged into a group of bad people. Kengo was cajoled by Sanae-san’s younger sister, Kasumi-san, to help her break off from that group, and he worked hard towards that end.
“However, that group’s leader was a violent person, so Sanae-san was not bound to them by a sense of solidarity borne from the belief that while they might be asocial, friends are true, a ray of light in this society where individuals are plagued with hopeless loneliness. No, Sanae-san was bound to them by fear, and Kengo was powerless in the face of that. He really does take things too seriously. If he turns taking care of others into a job in the future, he would probably ruin it by trying to help too much. Then again, he has helped me out multiple times thanks to that personality, so I shouldn’t be describing it so negatively.
“By the way, that leader’s name is Isawa Hasemi.
“And the leader of the group which kidnapped Osanai-san is also Isawa Hasemi. That’s quite a surprise. It’s a shocking coincidence that someone involved in Kengo’s troubles is the same person who kidnapped you.”
“You’re right, it is surprising that you can eat melons of such high quality at this price.”
Putting aside her spoon, Osanai-san eagerly bit into a slice of melon that still had skin attached to it, to the point that it seemed like she would even consume the skin. Since the parfait would become even more difficult to eat and set me further back from completion if the ice cream melted, I picked up my spoon again and started scooping out the ice cream.
“The ice cream here is normal vanilla ice cream. Just by itself, the ice cream at Ouan is better.
“Even though it is a coincidence, I can think about why this coincidence occurred. Needless for me to say, there are no perfect coincidences, just like there are no complete inevitabilities. The problem is one of probability. Are there any possible common points between Kengo, Kawamata Sanae, Isawa Hasemi and Osanai-san?
“Firstly, Kengo and Osanai-san. Both are my friends.
“Kawamata Sanae and Isawa Hasemi. They were companions in middle school and did bad things together.
“Kawamata Sanae and Kengo are related through Kawamata Kasumi.
“The last connection is Isawa Hasemi and Osanai-san. This also includes Kawamata Sanae, but all of you were from Takaba Middle School. Well, so was I.
“However, there isn’t an infinite number of middle schools in this city. That three people involved in the incident were from the same middle school is nothing particularly surprising.
“But if one more coincidence is added in, it becomes something that I can’t describe as merely ‘surprising’. Not with my nature, anyway.”
“As a petit bourgeois?”
I smiled wryly and shook my head.
“No. Anyway, with the kidnapping and the scuffle, it was quite impossible for me to deal with this case as a petit bourgeois.”
“Couldn’t you have just turned your back on me?”
“That’s because of the promise we have. I will not use my craft and wit to read the secrets others are trying to hide. You will stop planning your revenge and drawing pleasure from that.
“Ah, sorry, I’m in the middle of my story. Let me say it to the end. Also, you’ve got some cream stuck on your chin.
“There’s something I have a few questions about. It’s the day we went for the frozen watermelon yogurt at Berry Berry. You treated me during that time. On that day, I also had a bit of fun trying to decipher the memo that Kengo left behind.
“Why was Kengo in that hamburger shop on that day?
“Kengo clearly revealed his purpose. He was keeping watch on a drug abusing group. Needless to say, that was Isawa Hasemi’s gang.
“Now, why was I there? You told me to come to Berry Berry, so I was near the station. I was a little peckish, so entered the hamburger shop. It was at an awkward time, so I couldn’t find any other shops. Since we would soon be eating the frozen watermelon yogurt, I also couldn’t eat something too filling.
“As it turned out, you were also in that shop. You were wearing that rocker outfit as well as a hat, so no one could tell that you were Osanai-san. Why were you there?
“I remember what happened on that day. As you know, I’m confident in my memory.
“I was enthusiastic about Kengo’s memo, and I was always looking down. Next to me, you always seemed to be looking far off in the distance. I thought that you were disappointed that I was so excited in solving a code, but thinking about it again, by looking far off into the distance from the counter of that hamburger shop, you can see the rotary in front of the station. The same rotary that Kengo was keeping a watchful eye on, the rotary where Isawa Hasemi’s group was standing.
“Osanai-san, why were you in the hamburger shop on that day?”
Why does Osanai-san eat cornflakes one at a time?
She picked up a notably large piece and moved it to her mouth while carefully maintaining its balance… Ah, it dropped. After picking it up with her hand and throwing it into her mouth, she looked straight at me.
“Isawa-san and I are acquaintances. As you said, we were from Takaba Middle School. She’s a bad girl. I knew as much.”
Taking the spoon again, she inserted it deep into the parfait glass.
“Finish your story.”
“You haven’t answered the question, Osanai-san.”
“It’s fine, you don’t have to worry about it.”
It was me who asked the question, but… Well, whatever. I finally scooped up the rest of the ice cream with my spoon. It would become difficult to continue eating the parfait without finishing all the fruits stuffed at the tip of the glass. I started by reaching out for a slice of watermelon and removing the seeds.
“Right, that brings us to the incident two years ago.
“Osanai-san, you’re wearing clothes in a tropical country style today. Is that to match the tropical parfait?”
She was wearing a shirt with the image of butterflies frolicking around vivid flowers, as well as a medium skirt with a grain pattern. That outfit also included a tuque, although she had taken it off. A tuque, in summer.
Osanai-san smiled joyfully.
“Do I look good in it?”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
Anything to make you happy.
“But I think you looked better the other day.
“Rather, I’m more used to it. Your outfit that day was really similar to Funado High’s summer uniform.”
The sweet taste in my mouth was becoming a little overbearing. I sipped some water to wash it away.
“When you walk on the streets on a rest day, you generally wear an outfit that does not look like you. Hmm, perhaps that’s quite a weird way to put it. It would be more accurate to say that you tend to wear clothes such that people who only see you at school would not be able to immediately recognize you. The unique part about the outfit is the hat. You usually push your hat deep down.
“But on that day, you didn’t wear a hat. Your clothes also looked like the school uniform. Basically, you were similar to how you usually look like in school.
“If someone who only knows how you look like in school were to search for you, they might miss you if you were wearing that rocker outfit from the other day. They might not be able to recognize you in today’s tropical outfit, either. But they would certainly be able to recognize Osanai-san wearing a white shirt, navy skirt and no hat.”
Osanai-san lifted her spoon.
“It was really unlucky that I got abducted that day. I sometimes wear a hat, but there are times when I decide not to as well. These things happen, so disguising myself is important.”
Should I also learn to put on disguises starting from tomorrow to prepare against kidnappings?
I gnawed at a pineapple slice, but didn’t really like the tingling sensation on my tongue. The sweet taste made it delicious, but I wasn’t a fan of the texture.
“So, while you were kidnapped, you sent me an email. I’m touched that you sent the distress email not to anyone else, but to me. The email was not understandable in a single glance, because you had to craft it such that even if it were seen by the criminal group, they would not be able to tell that it was an SOS. You would have gotten into serious danger if they found out that you had asked for help, and even the dumbest criminals would move to another location.
“That was what I thought, but…”
I stared fixedly at Osanai-san… but she seemed to be absorbed in savoring the mango at the middle layer of the parfait glass. That made me want to say, “Hey, are you listening?”
“…Umm, yes, that was what I thought.
“I had a few questions when I saw the car at the South Municipal Gymnasium. You were apparently taken there by car, and since the front passenger seat had rubbish scattered around, that meant you were sitting at the back. Also, it would be weird to leave the kidnapped victim sitting at the back alone. The kidnappers wouldn’t be able to rest easy unless you’re tied up, and if you’re tied up, you wouldn’t be able to send an email at all. On the other hand, if you were not alone, or in other words, there was someone next to you, you wouldn’t be able to send an email either. Furthermore, you were really tied up upon reaching the gymnasium.
“You might have been able to press a few buttons on your phone without them noticing. However, the email you sent was this.”
I operated my mobile phone.
“Sorry, please buy me four candied apples and one Canelé. Sorry.”
I showed the monitor with that message to Osanai-san. She looked at it for a moment, but her gaze immediately returned to her hands.
“What you should have sent me is ‘Four candied apples, one Canelé.’ However, there are six unnecessary words in front and behind the main message. There is not a single typo error, and even punctuation is included. That doesn’t seem to me like a message typed behind the backs of the kidnappers.”
“I type really fast. Isawa-san and her friends were also very stupid. How about that?”
I shook my head.
“That does sound slightly plausible.”
Osanai-san tiled her head. She’d probably realized how much I’d caught on, and was getting me to reveal it, though I had no idea why she would want to do that.
Anyway, I continued.
“In the first place…
“Why did you go out, Osanai-san? You knew I would be coming; we’d decided to go eat candied apples together. I heard that you went out just before noon. The ransom call came at a little after half past one. There’s a one and a half hour window between those times. Where were you, and what were you doing?
“Taking it on its own, one would think that your urgent errand had been merely delayed. However, considering that you were kidnapped at that time period, it becomes a little more meaningful. And while we’re on the topic, why was I invited to your house? If our destination was Sanya-dori, couldn’t we have just met there? Why was I invited to your house, made to spend that awkward period of time with your mother, and of top of that… made to listen to the ransom call, if only indirectly?
“Osanai-san… on that day, from twelve to one thirty, where were you, and what were you doing?”
In her parfait glass, only the slightest bit of cream and fruits remained at the bottom. She spoke as she controlled her spoon to scrape it out.
“And I’m trying to reveal those secrets. Not a very pleasant topic, I know.”
I only noticed it after my response, but Osanai-san had already completely devoured her Summer-Exclusive Tropical Parfait. While I’d done most of the talking, I’d hadn’t even finished a third of it. That can’t be… My specialty is in seeing through lies, so what trick could she be hiding to be able to have that kind of speed and appetite?
With her parfait glass empty, Osanai-san stared at the spoon in her hand. She then looked at my glass, which still had more than half of the tropical parfait, with a wistful sidelong glance.
“…You want some?”
Was she full, or was she showing constraint? After inserting her spoon into the parfait glass in a slightly sad manner, she rested her chin on her hands and smiled.
“Hey, are you still going to continue with the story?”
“Whatever you want.”
“That’s a lie. You’ve no intention of stopping.”
Calling a waitress by raising a hand, Osanai-san ordered some black tea. Trying to make up for my slow speed, I ate the kiwi and papaya in succession, then pushed my spoon into the sea of cream. Based on the reaction, there was a corn flake right in the way.
Eventually, the black tea arrived. Osanai-san blew on it a few times, then drank only a small amount. Grimacing, she put down the cup. She had a cat’s tongue, after all.
But my story was not over.
“As I’ve stated, I cannot understand some of your actions. I also cannot honestly digest the connections you have to the people involved in this. There are just small inconsistencies here and there.
“…But more importantly, there is something I’ve always thought to be incomprehensible. This summer… I’ve thought of it to be incomprehensible since the very first day.”
“Incomprehensible? Don’t you mean you were dissatisfied?”
“Which one it is, I wonder. Osanai-san… I think you should be able to understand. What do I find incomprehensible?”
With her eyes looking down at her cup, she replied in a small voice.
“Kobato-kun, you don’t trust me… or do you?”
“I trust you, mostly.”
“Why did I bring you for the sweets pilgrimage? That’s what you can’t understand, right?”
I slowly nodded.
There was no need for Osanai-san and I to communicate at all during the summer vacation. We might have a reciprocal relationship, but we were not co-dependent. We didn’t have to meet even if we wanted to. If Osanai-san wanted to go on a sweets pilgrimage, she could do that on her own, and she didn’t have to invite me. That was what I trusted of her.
“You wouldn’t invite me along just for the sake of it being fun.”
While slowly stirring her black tea with a teaspoon, Osanai-san looked slightly down. It seemed that my parfait would still take more time to fully consume.
“I still have the map in the front basket of my bicycle, that of the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection. The way I see it, you shouldn’t have worded it that way. Do you remember what you said when you passed the map to me? ‘This is the thing that will influence the fate of my summer,’ you said.
“And that turned out to be true. Based on the map, I was able to decipher your email and rescue you.
“Was that just a coincidence? No, that can’t be. At the start of summer, you already knew that the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection would influence your fate.”
Osanai-san was connected to Isawa Hasemi. On top of that, she went out after calling me over two days ago, wearing clothes that made her easy to identify, which was unique to that day only. As a result, she was kidnapped by Isawa Hasemi, and managed to send me an SOS email that she shouldn’t have been able to type. That email could only be deciphered with the map passed to me at the beginning of summer.
By putting those facts together, a faint possibility arose.
But I’d refused to believe that. All I’d wanted to believe was that poor Osanai-san had been kidnapped by the violent Isawa Hasemi.
Osanai-san stared fixedly at her tea. Perhaps she was waiting for it to cool, or perhaps she couldn’t move her hands. Eventually, she spoke in a dry voice.
“The map is completely burned in my head. That’s why it was the first thing to come to my mind when I was disguising the email asking for help. That’s all there is to it.”
She gave that evasive answer even when she knew I wouldn’t let her escape with just those words.
Even so, I also wanted to think that was the truth. It was all a bunch of coincidences, and Osanai-san just happened to be unlucky. Actually, I’d often listened to the stories of people who got caught in unfortunate situations. I’d been directly involved in some of those cases, and they mostly involved some unbelievably bad luck.
That was why I asked that question.
“If that were to be true… on that day, I bought something different.”
“I asked you, didn’t I? I was about to buy you the next target in the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection. I asked you what it was, and you answered with Tinker Linker’s peach pie, so that was what I bought. Bu that was the wrong answer, Osanai-san. Needless to say, the next in the list was the candied apples of Muramatsu House, valuable items that can only be eaten on the day of the Sanya-dori Festival.
“It was three thirty in the afternoon when you were released. There was still time, and I could have tried ordering it anyway.
“Yet you answered with peach pie without batting an eye. Why was that?”
Osanai-san must have noticed that she’d misspoken there and then. She’d noticed that by failing to answer with “candied apples”, she wouldn’t be able to maintain her camouflage, and that was why her smile froze up in that instance.
The thing that she was trying to hide was, naturally…
“Osanai-san, you ate the candied apples when you went out in the morning of two days ago. That’s why the next dessert for you was the peach pie. We’d already arranged to go eat candied apples on that day, so why did you eat them already?
“You knew beforehand that your movements would be restricted, and that there was a high chance that you wouldn’t be able to eat candied apples with me. You thought that you wouldn’t be released before Muramatsu House stopped selling those special candied apples, so you went and ate them first, while waiting for Isawa Hasemi.
“From the time you called me three days ago to arrange for a meeting at one, from the time you were looking watching the train station near Berry Berry in that rocker outfit.
“…From the first day of the summer holidays, when you handed me the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection.
“You already knew that you were going to be kidnapped.”
“Thinking about it that way, I now understand why you had me accompany you in your sweets pilgrimage.”
The Summer-Exclusive Tropical Parfait, which was probably the final step of the pilgrimage, was hardly decreasing in volume. The sweet, rich taste of the ripe mangoes lingered in my mouth, to the point that it was getting slightly cloying. I took a sip of water.
“Since you knew that you were about to be kidnapped, you resorted to drastic measures. You made preparations such that even if you were to be abducted, you could be instantly rescued. That was the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection.
“Based on the map, I was dragged by you to various locations across Kira City. The frozen yogurt was delicious, and so was the ujikintoki. Above all, while it may not be a summer-exclusive product, the Charlotte was simply exquisite.
“However, the true motive was not as sweet.
“By continually basing our movements on the map, you kept making me aware of the existence of the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection, such that I would be able to immediately think of it when the time came. Also, you made me hold onto the map and treat it with care. Even if you sent me the SOS email, your plans would have gone to waste if I was unable to think of the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection, or if I’d lost it. That was why you called me over on that day.
“As it turns out, I was trained amazingly well. While I always doubted your true intentions, I agreed to your calls to go out for desserts, and thanks to that, the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection was drilled into my head.”
On the day I went to Osanai-san’s house to eat the Charlottes, she, after having seen through my little prank, spoke in an extraordinarily happy manner, “We’ll be visiting every shop in yesterday’s ranking, all the way to first place!” She was probably even smiling then. Since my prank had blown up in my face, it became easier for Osanai-san to drag me into her plans. If I hadn’t stolen the Charlotte, she would have had to work hard to come up with a reason to invite me along.
Speaking of being extraordinarily happy, on the day when we ate the frozen watermelon yogurt, we passed by Muramatsu House on Sanya-dori, and when I asked if the candied apples were in the rankings, a broad smile appeared on her face. That was because it showed that I was becoming well acquainted with the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection, so her plan was going swimmingly.
While I was trying to decode the memo that Kengo had left behind in the hamburger shop, Osanai-san was focusing on the rotary outside, but was at the same time stirring me up. When it became clear that the way of reading the message was related to the map, she was in extremely high spirits. That was only natural, for Kengo’s memo, by chance, had also brought along a rehearsal for deciphering her SOS email. That day, Osanai-san had also sent me an email which read, “Today, we’ll be going to a shop between La Roche and Ginsendo,” which served as another dry run. Her sense of security must have gone up a level when she witnessed me solving another coded message in the same vein.
I’d been taken in, hook, line and sinker. I could not claim to feel no chagrin for that.
However, more importantly, I was still filled with thoughts that did not quite add up.
“But Osanai-san, I still have some doubts. I just can’t seem to figure it out.”
Osanai-san continuously stirred her tea, although she hadn’t put in any sugar or milk. I was also looking down, so it was difficult for me to look at her face.
“Why didn’t you say anything? Why did you go with this method? You could have said something, like, ‘Due to some past dispute, I might be kidnapped, so please help me then.’ While I may tend to be unable to inhibit my impulses, my head isn’t made of stone1. If you had just said something, I would have helped you however much you wanted me to. Actually, there was a time lag when I saved you two days ago. If I’d been just a little later, Isawa Hasemi might have really pushed down the cigarette, and if I’d incorrectly deciphered your message, there is the possibility that she wouldn’t have stopped there. Did you think what would happen to you in that case? Did you think how I would feel?
“Why did you keep quiet, to the point that it put you in so much danger?”
The hand stirring the black tea did not stop, but its owner let out a murmur.
And that was all she said.
I waited for her to say more, but her mouth remained firmly closed. She said nothing as she stared at the amber-colored surface of the tea.
The silence was long and deafening.
…Eventually, she started talking, bit by bit.
“Sorry. It’s almost as you said. I did eat the candied apples already.
“Before the summer holidays started, I knew that I would be abducted by Isawa-san. Since she’s a violent person, I knew that it would be a painful experience. That was why I thought of asking for Kobato-kun’s help.
“But I didn’t want to drag you into this mess. If I told you, you would probably investigate Isawa-san and her gang. And if you got noticed, you would get into a sticky situation before I do. That was what I thought… And if you were hurt by that… I’m sorry…”
…I wouldn’t do something like that, though. In situations in which there is more than meets the eye, I would want to read into the situation and delve into its secrets, but I wouldn’t bother myself with running around and investigating someone else. Osanai-san would be more suited to that. Perhaps she thought that I was capable of doing that because she would do it herself.
“I thought that Doujima-kun would come as well. Kobato-kun wouldn’t come to save me alone. Not because you’re timid, but because you would judge that you cannot achieve your objective alone, and ask someone else for help. That person would be Doujima-kun, the only person you can rely on. During last year’s “Tart Incident”, Doujima-kun came over as well, right? So…
“That was exactly what happened, but I never expected a fight to break out. I put you and Doujima-kun in danger. Doujima-kun was injured, and you also had a painful experience. I want to properly apologize for that as well…”
Kengo’s injury was just a cut on his skin, and I couldn’t even remember which side of my face was hit. Nothing to be worried about. While Isawa Hasemi and her friends had schemed to kidnap Osana-san, they’d also wanted to avoid physical trouble as much as possible.
“…Will you tell me what went on between you and Isawa Hasemi?”
Thinking that Osanai-san would be fine with that, I asked that question, but she shook her head.
“Sorry, I don’t really want to talk about it. It involves my past, so…”
Of course, the underlying cause stemmed from her time in middle school. I couldn’t imagine the Osanai-san who had declared herself to be a petit bourgeois to have started trouble with a drug abuse group. Also, we hardly talked about our pasts, probably because we knew full well that there were no decent memories to speak of. Now that she’d refused, I couldn’t force her to talk about it.
I could understand what Osanai-san was saying.
It wasn’t like there were no feelings of discontent between us. However, I found myself in an unexpectedly calm mood after having been used for Osanai-san’s purposes. Heck, there were feelings of happiness thrown in as well.
During the summer, I’d felt that something was off on countless occasions. I’d been overcome with worry that after seeing Osanai-san do things that I couldn’t imagine her doing, I was mistaken about my understanding of her. After sorting out those feelings, deducing the existence of defensive measures against a kidnapping, and Osanai-san herself confirming the deduction to be true, I felt that I truly understood her.
Of course, I didn’t think that I completely understood all parts about this small, eccentric girl, but as I thought, she was a wolf. I broke out into a smile.
It’s fine. It’s a good thing that you’re safe. That’s more important than anything else.
…That was what I tried to say.
But those words would not come out of my mouth.
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, _Maki
Assistants (Tier 1) : Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez
Thank you very much for all your support!