Volume 1, Chapter 9: Mobile Phone
Editors: Yuuki, xyi
The one on the receiving end of my frigid gaze was none other than Mishima.
“Ah, Yoshida-senpai, do you want to go out for lunch with me?”
“That’s not what I came here for, you idiot. Do you have a sort-of quota of messing up at least once a day or something?”
Mishima tilted her head in puzzlement.
‘What do you mean?’ her gestures seemed to ask as she tried to play dumb. Come on, don’t act like I don’t already know that you’re just sandbagging.
“Fix it, now.”
“W-, Which part?”
“I don’t think I need to tell you that, do I?” I said as I leaned closer towards Mishima.
I could feel my veins about to burst in frustration. Mishima frantically surveyed her surroundings, brought her face closer, and whispered into my ear.
“I did tell you yesterday that I would slack off as-appropriate…”
How can she be so optimistic? I put an arm around her shoulder and stared her directly in the eyes.
This way, the people around us shouldn’t be able to overhear.
“Listen. Just because I didn’t say anything yesterday when we were drinking, doesn’t mean that I approve of your way of doing things. Don’t misunderstand.”
“No way! Does that mean that you’ll force me to work hard?”
“Do you even need to ask? Everyone but you is already working hard.”
Mishima didn’t even attempt to hide her dismay.
I looked away from Mishima for a moment, only to find my gaze meeting with that of Gotou-sans.
In a bout of embarrassment, I hurriedly withdrew my arm away from Mishima’s shoulder and cleared my throat.
“Anyway, finish before the afternoon break.”
“Whatttt? But there’s only one hour left till the break.”
I only smiled in response to Mishima’s protest.
She knew what she needed to do, so I will make her do it. If she didn’t at least do more work than a bench-warmer, she won’t be the only one with a problem.
After shooting a glance at Mishima, who reluctantly started her work, I headed back towards my own seat.
“Yoshida-kun! Do you have a moment?” A voice called out to me from faraway.
I quickly turned around, startled. The voice belonged to Gotou-san.
As I tilted my head in puzzlement, Gotou-san nodded upwards a few times, gesturing me to come to her desk.
Eh, what is it now? Did I do something wrong?
I broke into a cold sweat.
Of course, it was still a bit awkward for me since she just rejected me not too long ago, but at the same time, she was also my boss.
Gotou-san, who also held a position in Human Resources, hasn’t really intervened with my work recently, so to be suddenly called out by her, my superior, is a bit of a nerve-wracking experience.
While I was internally sweating bullets, I slowly made my way towards her desk. She simply smiled and typed something on the keyboard.
Then, she pointed towards her computer screen and smiled again. You want me to look at the screen? What for?
Following her gesture, I timidly peeked at the screen.
‘Do you have some time to meet after work tomorrow?’
That was what was written on the otherwise empty Word document.
Gotou-san quickly returned a ‘Shhh’ gesture when I asked.
“Contact me about this later.”
Whispering that, Gotou-san faced her screen again as if nothing in particular had happened.
What? What’s the meaning of this? This definitely wasn’t the atmosphere of a ‘let’s go for a drink!’ kind of invitation.
A date? No, why would someone suddenly ask to go on a date with someone who they literally just rejected?
As I stood there rigid, Gotou-san gave me a sidelong glance.
“You can go now.”
“Ah, well excuse me then.”
She basically told me to go away without stating it directly. I turned heel and headed back to my seat.
So it turns out that I have to go somewhere with Gotou-san after work tomorrow.
I would like to say that I feel happy, but that’s not really the case. It’s an odd feeling.
Looking around the office as I headed towards my seat, my gaze met Mishima’s.
She seemed to be purposely avoiding my gaze, opting to clatter the keyboard as a distraction of sorts.
Quit rubbernecking and get back to work. Although I cursed internally, my thoughts quickly returned to the matter regarding Gotou-san.
What did she call me out for? My mind was in a constant state of suspense.
“Hmm, so Gotou-san asked you out for dinner.”
While she continued her work on the homemade meat and potato stew, Sayu blinked a few times in surprise.
As I was rocking along on the train, I got a mail of confirmation from Gotou-san.
‘Sorry about earlier. Would you like to have dinner together after work tomorrow?’, it wrote.
“Isn’t it good for you then?”
“It’s not good at all… Like, the heck does she mean by that?”
“Isn’t she just inviting you for dinner?”
“No way in hell! Of course it’s not that simple!”
At my protest, Sayu went “ehh” with a halfhearted smile and she resumed doing her thing.
A child might not be able to understand, but amongst working adults, there are a lot of implications hidden behind things like ‘dinner’ and ‘drinking’.
For example, it might be a time to talk about an incoming promotion without hesitation, or perhaps it could also be the complete opposite.
When I had first joined the company, one of my superiors at the time once brought me to a pub to gently scold me about work and talk about other sensitive issues, saying things like ‘that was pretty bad wasn’t it?’ to smooth it over.
Unless I had an indisputably amicable relationship with a superior, it was hard to not feel nervous about having a meal with them.
“Well, don’t worry about it. Hurry up and eat the stew, it going to get cold.”
“Oh… Thanks for the meal.”
At Sayu’s beckoning, I started eating the stew still steaming hot. I picked up a golden-brown piece of potato with the chopsticks and carefully put it into my mouth.
Sayu nodded with satisfaction. She took a piece of potato from her bowl of stew and gave it a try.
“Mmm, it’s good~”
“You’re honestly pretty good at cooking.”
Hearing what I said, Sayu smiled bashfully.
“Feel free to praise me more.”
“Sure thing, Japan’s No. 1 chef.”
“You got that right!”
Sayu giggled as she ate a piece of meat along with rice.
I have to admit that Sayu really is incredible at cooking. It’s easy to tell that she cooked often back at home.
…Did her parents teach her how to cook? When that question popped into my mind, I shook my head so as to dismiss it. Nothing good will come out of pondering over such a question.
“No, it’s nothing.”
Sayu tilted her head to one side in concern, but I stuffed my mouth with rice, as if nothing had happened.
She didn’t delve into it any further and went back to eating.
“So, are you going?”
“Dinner with Gotou-san.”
Sayu stopped moving her chopsticks and stared hard at me.
“Well, this isn’t something I can refuse.”
“Why? Because you like her?”
“It’s cause she’s my boss.”
Sayu’s lips curved into a へ shape, unable to comprehend my reasoning.
“Come on, it’s cause you really like her isn’t it?”
“It’s not that.”
“So you don’t like her?”
“Well… This and that are different.”
Sayu made a loud ‘hmpf’ noise with her nose, as if dodging my answer.
“So either way, you still like her.”
“…It’s not that easy to let it go okay? I had a crush on her for a whole 5 years.” I said, feeling an aching in my chest.
Sayu expression seemed to go ‘shoot’, and she turned her eyes away apologetically.
“Don’t sweat it. It’s fine to think of me as a miserable old man, really.”
“Not at all.”
Sayu shook her head.
“Yoshida-san, I think you’re really cool. If Gotou-san didn’t have a boyfriend, there’s no doubt that you would’ve gotten the ok.”
“Haha, you don’t need to console me like that.”
“I’m telling the truth.”
Honestly, the more she tried to console me, the more wretched I felt.
I let out a dry smile.
“Anyway, I’ll go with her to dinner tomorrow. I can’t refuse an invitation from a superior, much less someone like Gotou-san.”
“Alright. So I take it that I don’t need to make dinner for you tomorrow?”
Sayu nodded and asked.
Right, I wasted her dinner yesterday when I went drinking with Mishima. It makes sense for her to confirm that along with whether or not I’ll be accepting Gotou-san’s invitation tomorrow.
Understanding her intentions, I nodded.
“Yeah, I won’t be here.”
After that, a thought suddenly came to mind.
“By the way, you don’t have a phone, do you?”
Sayu showed a strained smile and shook her head.
“No, I don’t.”
Even considering her circumstances, I was quite surprised.
In a time and age where even elementary schoolers carried smartphones, I would’ve never thought that a blossoming JK wouldn’t carry one
“Did you leave it at home?”
Sayu shook her head.
“When I was around Chiba, my friends… I mean, my classmates from my time in Hokkaido kept calling me nonstop.”
Sayu glossed over the question, going ‘heheh’ with a smile.
“So I threw it into the ocean.”
“Hey, don’t throw your trash into the ocean.”
What a girl. Although I couldn’t quite approve of her throwing her phone into the ocean, her decisiveness was really something else.
“So you didn’t carry a phone from that point onward?”
“Unexpectedly though, it wasn’t really a problem.”
Well, I can see the reason why. If she planned on severing her ties to everyone from her past, then her phone was something that she didn’t need.
“So why do you ask?”
‘Why did you ask about that?’ the tilt of her head seemed to say.
“Well, you know, there might be times where I suddenly wouldn’t be able to make it home, so it’d be better to have some way of contacting you so your food doesn’t go to waste.”
“Oh, I see…” Sayu nodded in sudden understanding.
The next moment however, she seemed to grow a bit embarrassed, her gaze restlessly moving about.
Sayu squirmed about and said in a whispering tone.
“You know, the stuff we’re talking about kind of makes us seem like newlyweds.”
“I-, It’s just a joke! Don’t make such a scary face, geez!”
As my expression warped into a scowl, Sayu exasperatedly waved her hands in front of her.
“I mean, even if I make too much I can just eat the rest for breakfast or something.”
“But wouldn’t it be more convenient to have a cell phone?”
Sayu feverishly shook her head.
“I don’t want it! I don’t want it! I really don’t!”
“Come on, don’t be shy.”
“No, I really don’t think I need one. Plus, it’s not like I can sign the contract on my own.”
Now that she mentions it…
If I remember correctly, there was a rule where high schoolers aren’t able to sign the contract for a mobile phone without their parents, wasn’t there? Well, it’s not like I had a phone when I was a high schooler, so I don’t really know the details about it.
“Well, regardless, I’d like to have a way to contact you if it comes down to it.”
So I said, but Sayu stubbornly refused to budge.
“It’s okay! It’s okay!”
Her habit of holding back is surfacing again.
Taking a sidelong glance at Sayu, I showed a strained smile.
Sayu’s not the only one who’ll be troubled by this.
Honestly speaking, it’s pretty uncomfortable to have no way of contacting a high school girl who’s staying alone at my place. At the very least, I’d like to have some means of contacting her.
A mobile phone huh.
Is there really no way for me to get one?
I went to sleep with that fleeting question in my mind.
“Eh, can’t you just register for a second phone under your name and hand it along to Sayu-chan?”
“Oh, that’s right.”
Upon consulting with Hashimoto before today’s work began in earnest, I was immediately given a solution.
I see, so I can just make another contract under my own name. It never even crossed my mind.
“Well, I guess I’ll go and buy one on the next rest day.” I murmured as I turned on my work PC.
Well, I can take my time to think about the phone later.
First off, I have to get through tonight’s events.
Peering at Gotou-sans’ desk, the owner of which still hasn’t checked-in for today, I could feel the sweat forming on my back.
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