Volume 1, Chapter 3: Cigarettes
Editors: Yuuki, xyi
“Eh, that’s pretty bad, isn’t it?” Hashimoto asked me.
Well, that was a normal reaction.
“Can’t say I was expecting otherwise.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty bad.” Hashimoto repeated.
Hashimoto called out to me during my afternoon break after I bought a drink. Going with the flow, I talked to him about what happened with Sayu.
I couldn’t help but feel that this was too big of a problem to be keeping to myself.
Despite his attitude, Hashimoto was quite tight-lipped. I doubt he would disclose this to anyone else.
“Did she show up in the missing persons list?”
I shook my head in response.
“I was curious about that too. So, after she went to sleep I secretly searched her name up.”
“There was nothing on her.”
Hashimoto placed a hand on his chin and twisted his head.
“So in short, she’s a high school girl whose circumstances are completely unknown…”
“After giving this some thought, I think I have gotten myself into a really bad situation, haven’t I ?”
“You don’t need to think to know that this is pretty bad.”
“Oh, what’s pretty bad?”
I jumped out of my seat in surprise.
While the two of us were wrenching our necks about the problem at hand, a voice suddenly interrupted us from behind. Turning around, I saw Gotou-san, who carried a gleeful smile.
She had flat-out rejected me a few days ago. Despite that though, her smile when she looked at me was no different from before.
“It’s nothing serious, really.”
Since I couldn’t find the words to reply, Hashimoto bit the bullet in my place.
“I ordered something fairly expensive online, but I made a mistake and ordered two of it instead. I’ve heard that it’s possible to cancel the order, but I don’t know how to do so, so it’s somewhat troubling.”
He casually and calmly told a lie.
Hashimoto really is a shrewd and capable person.
“That’s quite concerning indeed. The two of you looked rather worried so I was wondering what was up.”
With a chuckle, Gotou-san casually waved goodbye to the two of us.
“Don’t forget to get lunch, you two. If you two don’t head out soon, afternoon break will end before you two can get back.”
“Roger that, we’ll head out soon.”
Hashimoto waved back with a smile.
As for me, I merely saw Gotou-san off with a forced smile.
“…Can’t say I expected you to speak up.”
“What’s that supposed to mean! What am I supposed to say to someone who just rejected me anyway!?”
“You could try to greet her properly at the very least.”
Hashimoto sighed and rose from his seat.
“Let’s get going.”
Following Hashimoto, I rose from my seat.
Ah, how was Gotou-san able to call out to me so naturally?
Even though I just got rejected, I couldn’t help but admire her.
The combination of black skirt and jacket suited her well and the vertical-striped blue shirt was not only stylish, but rather lascivious. Her slightly wavy brown hair and the mild application of lip-gloss gave her a somewhat sophisticated appeal.
Hot damn. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll be getting over her anytime soon.
Most of all—
“Her boobs are huge, aren’t they…”
“Yoshida, you’re thinking out loud.”
I ended up clocking two hours of overtime.
By the time I had arrived at the station closest to my home, it was already 9pm.
“Did she eat already…?”
Sayu, who was currently at home, came to mind.
She didn’t have any money, so I gave her 1000 yen, which should’ve been enough for lunch. She might be feeling hungry around now if she hadn’t eaten dinner yet.
On my way home, I stopped by the convenience store and bought two suitable meals.
As I quickly paced towards home, I recalled the advice that Hashimoto gave me this afternoon.
“Don’t get too invested in her circumstances, alright? Before something bad happens, it’d be best you return her to her guardians.”
I get what he meant, but—
“It’s alright, they’re probably happy that I’m gone.”
The expression of having given up on everything that Sayu bore when she said that was etched into my mind.
“You’re still a high school brat. Don’t make such a face.”
While murmuring that, I rushed home.
I unlocked and opened the door.
A delicious aroma drifted through the air.
In the kitchen, a small space in the corridor leading to the living room, Sayu quickly turned and thrust the ladle in her hand towards me.1
“Ah.” Translated by yuNS
Realizing that it was just me, she opened her mouth and said:
“Welcome home, daddy?”
“Please don’t, that’s kinda revolting.”
To be honest, I’m a bit relieved.
I had been a tad bit worried that she might’ve passed out from hunger, but she was energetic enough to crack a few jokes.
“Do you normally come back this late?”
“No, just had some overtime today.”
“And do you have overtime once in a while?”
“No, every day.”
“So you normally do come back this late.”
I took off my shoes whilst I chatted with Sayu. Then I went down the corridor and peeked into the pot, finding miso soup inside. The pot was bubbling and steaming. By the looks of it, it seemed freshly cooked.
“Miso soup again?”
“I mean, you like it don’t you?”
“Did I ever say that?”
As I tilted my head in puzzlement, Sayu cackled a few times and answered.
“Just before you nodded off yesterday, you said ‘I want to drink miso soup…’ remember? You must like it a lot, is what I thought.”
“Did I really say that?”
I can’t recall.
“But sorry, I didn’t make anything else.”
“I bought some meals. You’re gonna eat it, right?”
As I opened up the plastic bag in my hand to show the contents, Sayu smiled in delight and happily nodded.
Moving on to the living room, I saw that she had hung the laundry to dry on the side. The wrinkles and creases on my spare shirts had also been properly stretched out. She ironed all the laundry? I never asked her to do it though.
Glancing at the bed, I noticed that the dust and hair on it were now gone. I turned to look at where the vacuum cleaner was placed. It was different from where I usually kept it.
She even went as far as to vacuum the place huh.
I cast a sideways glance at Sayu and saw her filling the bowls with miso soup whilst humming happily.
I did tell her to do the household chores, but I never once thought that she’d do it this thoroughly. She might be unexpectedly dexterous. Not to mention, this meant that she at least felt some sense of responsibility.
I took off my suit and quickly switched into my indoor clothes.
Then, I reached into my pocket and retrieved my pack of ‘Red Malls’, my favorite, and my zippo lighter.
It was then that I noticed that the ashtray that was on the living room table was gone.
“Where’s the ashtray?”
After a short moment, Sayu clapped her hands in eureka and retrieved the now-shiny ashtray from the cupboard.
“Sorry, I thought that I should clean this along with the dishes and utensils.”
“I see, thanks.”
Taking the ashtray from her hands, I headed towards the veranda.
Turning around, I saw Sayu looking at me with her mouth wide open in surprise.
“What is it?”
“I just wanted to say that it’s fine to smoke inside.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I mean, don’t you usually smoke inside?”
“Then why are you going to the veranda now?”
I don’t understand what she meant.
“You’re here, aren’t you?”
Sayu’s eyes seem to widened in surprise too.
What’s so surprising?
I can smoke wherever I want when I’m alone, but I can’t bring myself to smoke without some reservations when someone else’s around. Well, isn’t this just common etiquette?
“What’s that expression of yours supposed to mean?’
Sayu cast her gaze downwards as if pondering something.
After a brief moment, she raised her eyes to meet my gaze and put on a bright smile.
“I just thought that you’re really kind.”
An irritated questioning response reflexively flew from my mouth, to which I quickly put a hand over it.
Just a bad habit of mine. I wasn’t one who would intimidate children.
“What’s so kind about that?”
“I mean, uhm, ahaha.”
Sayu smiled as if to gloss over the severity of what was about to come. She grouped her hands behind her and fidgeted with her fingers.
“You know, the people whom I’ve stayed with until now… didn’t really care if I was there or not since I didn’t belong there…”
Hearing that, a feeling that I couldn’t describe as either anger or sadness whirled within my chest once again. In this instance too, her sense of virtue had been twisted by nothing but unfortunate adults.
“People who would have sexual relations with a JK and smoke in front of a minor really are something else.”
I spat out, filled with anger that I couldn’t find an outlet for.
I pointed towards Sayu with the hand holding the cigarette box.
“Listen up, I’m not kind at all, it’s just that those were shitty people. Don’t misunderstand.”
“Don’t have such low standards. Look at things from the right perspective.”
After hearing her reply, I walked out onto the veranda and closed the shutter behind me.
Glancing back into the room, I saw Sayu scratching the back of her head whilst forming an awkward smile.
I took a cigarette out of the box and flicked the lid of the lighter open with my thumb. After lighting the cigarette, I shut the lid. The clink of the lid is a sound that I often hear in the dead of the night.
I took a whiff from the cigarette and then exhaled.
At the same time, I released a long sigh.
I’m starting to feel old.
In any case, I see myself being a guardian when I look at a high school girl. I don’t understand people who have a lust for such girls.
Sayu’s indescribable smile came to mind.
To be honest, I thought she was cute. I’m sure that an honest smile better suits her.
To think that people out there have driven this girl’s sense of values and virtues this far.
Of course, the person in question also has a rather spoilt disposition, but-, no, that’s probably the biggest reason. However, this is proof that adults, environments that so wrongfully guide a person definitely exist. Knowing that makes me fume a little.
“Pieces of shit, really.”
I murmured, and took another whiff from the cigarette.
Though I say that—
I’m also just a piece of shit. One that pardoned a high school girl’s naivety and gave her a place to run away to.
Every damned last one of them, myself included, are just living however the hell we want.
As I slowly exhausted the cigarette in my hands, I began to think about the meaning behind my actions.
 Generally, Japanese apartments are structured such that the corridor from the door leads to the living room, which is attached to a single bedroom in bigger apartments, or doubles as a bedroom in smaller ones. The bathroom and kitchen are located in this corridor as well.
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