Volume 1, Chapter 7: Cosmetics
Editors: Yuuki, xyi
Today was a rest day.
As I laid atop my untidy sheets, I turned on my PC to check my email. As I was doing so, an advertisement popped up in the corner of my screen.
“Good news for JKs everywhere who use makeup! Cosmetics are on sale at up to 70% off!”
The vigor of the ad caught my attention, but the contents caused a question to pop up in my mind.
“Eh, do high-school girls even use cosmetics…?”
Sayu, who was cleaning the table, turned to look at me. It seems like she wanted to say something.
“Ah, no, it’s nothing really. The ad just said ‘ JKs who use makeup’, so I was just a little curious…”
“I see… Well, personally, I think there are a lot of high school girls that use makeup.”
“Seriously…? Really now…”
Thinking back on it, the high school that I went to banned cosmetics, didn’t it? Though, there were still a few of the so-called ‘Gals’ that continued to use cosmetics time and time again, which eventually caught the attention of the counselors. Even counting those in, the ones that used makeup were far and few between. I would’ve never thought that there would come a time where high school girls using makeup would be a given. Have the times changed? Or was my high school just too strict? I couldn’t really tell, but regardless, I felt a little out of place.
“What about you?”
“I mean, do you use makeup as well? I haven’t really seen you do it at all in the time that you’ve been here.”
Hearing my question, Sayu groaned a little and tilted her head in thought.
“I can’t really say that I didn’t use it, but I only used it when I felt like it.”
“So you did?”
Well, that’s what I thought. Her face didn’t really seem to be suited to heavy makeup… Actually, her face was already quite well-ordered to begin with, so just a light touch up should work fine. Rather, as a man, I couldn’t quite help myself from thinking that it would be fine even if she did not use any makeup at all.
“…So you left it all behind when you came here?”
Sayu tilted her head again.
“What do you mean?”
“I meant your cosmetics. You don’t do makeup here, right?””
“Ohh… Yeah, I think I left it all back there.”
“Isn’t it inconvenient?”
“Inconvenient…? It’s not like I ever leave home, so I don’t really need it.”
“Well, you do have a point there…”
To start with, even the most ingrained habits might stop with changes in the levels of stress and the surroundings.
Clicking on the ad, I scanned through the page’s contents and paused when I came across a certain product.
“What about it?”
“Did you ever use things like skin toner?”
Written clearly in big words on the page was ‘Skin care is the problem before makeup!’. To be honest, I wasn’t at all informed on this topic, but I do remember Hashimoto mentioning that his skin dries up easily, so he applies toner every night before he goes to bed. If even grown men were concerned about such a thing, then it wouldn’t be at all strange for high school girls to hold it in high importance either, would it?
Sayu’s hard stare seemed to confirm my suspicions.
“Y-Yeah… I did…”
“… Just before going to bed.”
Scratching my head, I closed the advertisement and turned off my PC.
“Let’s go out for a bit then.”
“Eh, where to?”
Sayu looked at me with surprise as I walked to the bathroom while trying to fix my bedhead.
As I combed my horrifying bedhead into shape in front of the mirror, I announced.
“We’re going to buy some skin toner.”
Translated by yuNS @ www. crimsonmagic .me
I walked with a slouch towards the cosmetics store located on the first floor of the departmental store across the station. This was probably the first time in my life that I’ve been to a cosmetics store.
“So what happened to ‘not wanting to look like a sugar daddy’?”
I somehow managed to drag Sayu all the way here. Although she didn’t verbally protest, she puckered her lips to one side to express her reluctance.
“Seems like the section with skin toner is over there.” I said as I pointed to the signboard that hung from the ceiling.
Sayu glanced at me briefly as if wanting to say something, but then let out a short sigh and walked towards the toners area.
I followed behind her, taking my time to glance at my surroundings.
The shelves were filled with gaudy bottles of various shapes and sizes. On the walls were advertisements featuring famous actresses alongside their respective signatures. The scene before my eyes was far different from my mundane life, and I never once thought that there would come a day where I would actually come to such a place.
“Yoshida-san.” Sayu called out to me with a wave.
After hurrying to her side, she glanced at me repeatedly.
“What is it?”
“Uhm… so this is the skin toner section…”
“Yeah I know that already. Just choose what you like.”
“I really don’t need it though… it’s not like I’ll die if I don’t use it.”
“It’s too late to refuse now, isn’t it? I mean, we’ve already come all the way here.”
“But it’s not like you asked for my opinion on the matter, that’s how it felt to me at least…”
Certainly, I can’t deny that I did somewhat force her to come all the way here.
“Well don’t sweat it, just choose what you like. I said I’d buy it for you so just take it, okay?” I said, matching Sayu’s protesting gaze and dealing with it appropriately.
Although Sayu turned her gaze towards the shelves, her chagrin was apparent in her expression.
Seeing that, I began to absentmindedly ponder.
Sayu isn’t my daughter, relative, or anything like that. It’s not like I have a duty to look after her.
My conjectures might just be me barking up the wrong tree, if not plain presumptuous. Despite that though, I can’t help but feel a little bothered by it.
Sayu probably has a lot of spare time, but even with all the time in the world, there’s honestly nothing for her to do at home. Of course she has chores to do, but it’s not like it takes until evening to finish.
It would be a lot better if there was a TV at home, but I didn’t watch a whole lot of TV during my childhood so there was no reason for me to ever get one. I lived alone till now after all.
Not to mention, based on the times where I tried to buy her a futon and indoor clothes, she was strongly opposed to me buying her anything. Even if I gave her the go-ahead, she would undoubtedly refuse.
Heck, even if I give her the money and order her to buy something for herself, she would most definitely come back saying something like ‘there was nothing good,’ or choose something that was remarkably cheap. So today, I decided that I would be the one to take her outside, I don’t care what others think about me.
Sayu called out in a low volume, her eyes focused on the display cases. Her hair covered her eyes, so I couldn’t quite see her expression though.
The unusual tone of my reply seemed to have interrupted Sayu’s train of thought. Her shoulders jumped in surprise and she quickly raised her head.
“Ah…” she muttered.
Then, she suddenly turned towards me, and grinned.
“So Yoshida-san, what sort of smell do you like?”
“Huh? What’s this about?”
Sayu’s unnatural bright smile and the sudden question left me a little perplexed. I don’t think she would call out to me in such a manner only to ask this question.
“Smell, huh… I don’t really care too much about that.”
“Then are there any smells that you don’t like?”
“Why are you even asking me such a thing?”
“But I mean…” Sayu murmured before trailing off. She continued in a whispering tone.
“I’ll be using this at your house, so I don’t want what I choose one that has a smell that you don’t like. If there’s a choice, I want to choose one that you would like… What’s wrong with that?”
“Hah…” I reflexively sighed.
“Aren’t you worrying too much?”
“Why shouldn’t I worry!? You’re buying this for me after all! I’d rather not trouble you any further if I can help it.”
“There really isn’t a smell that I dislike, just choose what you want already.”
“No, there has to be something! There’s not a single person who doesn’t have a smell that they dislike!”
Why is she being so assertive about it? Well, given how adamant she is, I guess it’s fair to give it a little thought.
“Hmm… a smell I dislike…”
A sudden thought came to mind.
Sayu burst into laughter.
“How can there be a skin toner that smells like garbage?”
“Then what about the smell of sweat?”
“Ahaha, stop stop, I’m dying.”
Sayu heartily laughed while shaking her head around.
“That’s not what I meant… Like what kind of perfume do you dislike?”
“Perfume? Even if you say that, it’s not like I would know…”
“Oh right, imagine you’re on a subway train!”
“You know, when the trains are packed and you’re pressed against other people. You must have smelt somebody’s perfume right?”
The rather specific scenario helped me recall a time where I smelt a rather unbearable scent on the train.
“If I had to say, it would be the scent of an old man’s cologne?”
“Ahh… I see… I get it, but there probably aren’t any skin toners with a smell that’s close to cologne.”
Saying that, she picked a bottle from the display and checked the ingredients list. She muttered “this is…” and “this doesn’t have a strong scent…” as she turned some other bottles over. The clear proficiency at which she examined the contents of each bottle confirmed my earlier suspicions.
‘Thought so’ I ruminated as I let out a short sigh.
Back when she was still in her hometown, she was probably involved enough to choose her own products with some level of scrutiny. However, due to her circumstances here, she had to give up on such interests. Of course, what she said about ‘not dying without this’ still holds true, but unlike before, she no longer had to worry about the basic necessities. I think it’s okay for her to enjoy ‘entertainment’, or at least something close to it.
Whenever I thought about Sayu, my train of thought would always lead to this one single question.
Just what had happened to have pushed such a normal high school girl into abandoning her former lifestyle, into sacrificing everything besides her life just to run away from home?
As my thoughts settled down on that, Sayu suddenly called out to me.
“Yoshida-san, what sort of fruits do you like?”
The sudden change in topic threw me for a loop and I couldn’t gather the presence of mind to immediately answer. Sayu looked at me in mild puzzlement.
“Oh, it’s nothing… It’s just that I haven’t eaten any fruits recently.”
“Eh-… Then was there a fruit that you liked when you were a kid?”
“When I was a kid…?”
Thinking back, I don’t think my parents ate a whole lot of fruits either. At the very least, we weren’t a household that ate fruits as snack or dessert.
However, one phrase did come to mind.
‘I want to eat this when we bring the kotatsu out…’ I remember saying that to my mom every winter.
“I guess I quite liked mandarins….”
Sayu nodded a few times, before saying with a smile.
“Did your house have a kotatsu?”
I affirmed with a weak smile. Sayu giggled in response.
“So a citrus-scented one would be good…”
Saying that, she picked out a bottle from the display.
“How about an orange-scented one?”
“Don’t ‘huh’ me.” Sayu responded unamused.
“I mean, I already told you to pick whatever you preferred, didn’t I?”
“And I prefer to pick one with a smell that you like.”
“It’s fine as long as it isn’t something like cologne.”
Sayu brazenly scowled, unwilling to accept my answer. Then, in what seemed like a burst of inspiration, she stopped and looked at me, her eyes slightly upturned.
“What are you u-… Woah.”
Before I could finish, Sayu pressed against me as if trying to bury herself in my chest.
“T-The heck are you up to now?”
Sayu gazed into my eyes with a mischievous smile.
“Does the scent of oranges from me make your heart throb…?”
My reflexive denial came to a sudden halt.
Her body was quite slender, but in contrast, her features were rather well defined – her chest in particular was large for a high school girl. My senses grew sharper and seemed to be playing tricks on me as I felt the supple sensation of Sayu’s body against mine.
Goosebumps rose all over my body as I hurriedly jumped away from Sayu.
“Of course not…”
“Ahaha, of course~” Sayu said with a playful smile.
It was clear that what she did was only to mess around with me.
“You’re surprisingly innocent despite being an adult, Yoshida-san.”
“Shush.” I rebutted her with a frown.
Sayu happily giggled in response.
Then, she nudged me on the chest with her elbow.
“…Thanks.” She said as she handed over the bottle of toner.
“No problem. Are you sure this is enough?”
“Yep. I don’t need anything else, and it’ll take a while to go through the entire bottle anyway.”
“Okay, but what about makeup? Do you not need that?” I asked.
After a brief forced smile, Sayu smirked and said teasingly.
“Do you want to see me wearing makeup that badly?”
“Then I don’t need it.”
I took the bottle from her and headed towards the register.
“That will be 1578 yen.”
That’s quite a lot… I thought as I took out two bills from my wallet and placed it on the register plate.
“High school girls sure are a lot of work.”
I whispered to Sayu. She replied after a brief chuckle.
“You don’t say?”
She said that as if it was someone else’s business, as if she wasn’t a high school girl herself. ‘Just because you aren’t going to school doesn’t mean you aren’t a high school girl’ is what I wanted to say, but I decided against it.
“Since we’re out already, why don’t we go buy something else?”
I said as I handed the plastic bag containing the toner to Sayu. She sent a dubious stare in my direction.
“What do you mean by something?”
It was clear as day that she was concerned that I might be planning on buying something else for her. Forcing a smile as best as I could, I shrugged.
Saying that, I began to look around for an escalator heading upstairs.
“If you’re just gonna stand there, then I’m leaving you behind.”
“Hey, wait up.”
Sayu hurriedly chased after me.
For now, I should find something that would help her kill time at home.
That said though, I couldn’t help but think that this was a lot better than going shopping on my own.
I glanced towards Sayu, who tilted her head.
It might be a bit odd for me to say this, but I feel like I’ve been enjoying myself a little more ever since Sayu came.
I’m not a person with many hobbies. On rest days, I tend to just sleep in and surf the net. The only exercise I do is the occasional run on a treadmill. As such, it’s not all that surprising that the only times I do go out, is for shopping for food and the bare minimum of clothes. That said, I don’t usually go to the departmental store at the station closest to my home. Even if I do, it’s simply to buy what I need in a robotic manner and go home.
Now that I think about it, it’s been a while since I’ve gone out shopping in such a leisurely manner.
The reason for all these changes is Sayu.
Out of all these changes, the biggest is probably the idle thoughts that I have during my commute home.
Prior to meeting her, all I would ever think about during the commute would be the work I had done that day as well as the tasks that I had to complete in the upcoming days. Once I got home, I would usually just take a bath and go to sleep. I would never feel any particular rush to reach home.
Recently though, my thoughts have been revolving around Sayu. ‘Was she having any problems while I was out at work?’, ‘She didn’t suddenly leave, did she?’ and other similar thoughts would always fill my mind as I hurried home. As if it was absolutely necessary, I would leave work on-time and rush on the earliest train I could catch. Getting off at the station nearest to home, I would walk as quickly as I could without tiring myself out.
That was just how big of an impact Sayu had made in my life.
Even though she was a complete stranger who just happened to tumble into my home out of mere circumstances, I found myself incapable of leaving her alone.
Was it because she was just a high school girl? Was it because I found her situation pitiable? Or was it something else? I honestly don’t know. It’s just that…
My shoulder jumped in surprise.
“O-Oh… What’s up?”
“That’s what I was about to ask you. You’re scrunching your eyebrows really hard right now.”
It seems like I have a habit of scrunching my eyebrows when I’m thinking deeply about something.
“Sorry, I was just thinking about something.”
“And this ‘something’ is?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
I tried my best to smile in hopes of glossing it over. Sayu smiled stiffly in response and nodded.
Ah, there it is.
Sayu was a girl who changes her expressions quickly and frequently. Though, what bothered me the most was that it felt like most of her expressions were merely ‘suitable responses’ to her surroundings.
Whenever I see her smile, I can’t help but wonder whether she really means it.
As we got on the escalator, I turned to look at Sayu, who returned my gaze when she followed suit.
“…You can, uhm…”
I couldn’t actually say the words.
‘You can rely on me a little more.’
There was no doubt that that was what I had meant to say.
But after thinking about the implications behind those words, it seemed all too absurd.
“Actually, never mind…”
“I forgot what I was going to say.”
“Eh—, what the heck.”
She can only rely on me if her conscience allows her to, but that would mean that I’m not dependable enough.
Saying that to her in that moment would only be superficial. It would have only served to bother her more rather than provide reassurance.
There’s no need to rush this. Establish a secure line of communication between us little by little, and wait until she’s ready to open up to me.
When we arrived on the second floor, Sayu called out to me.
Sayu avoided my gaze, mumbling in a somewhat grumbling manner.
“What is it?”
After asking one more time, Sayu replied with a slight blush.
“My stomach err… feels a little empty.”
I was completely taken aback. For a moment there, I didn’t even know what to think. However, the next second, I burst out into laughter.
“‘My stomach feels a little empty’, you say?”1
“Well, what I mean is…”
“I got it I got it, you’re hungry right? Then why don’t we go grab something to eat?”
I got on another escalator while trying to hold back my laughter.
“I think there are some restaurants upstairs.”
Sayu followed shortly behind me with slight relief in her voice.
I gradually steadied my breathing, finishing with an audible exhalation from the nose.
I’ve noticed that Sayu had given up on trying to convince me. Knowing that, I’ll do what I can to give her as much leeway as possible.
“Since you make all the food at home, why don’t you choose what you want to eat now that we are out?”
Hearing what I said, Sayu smiled bashfully and shook her head a few times.
“Mm… I guess it’s okay every once in a while.”
Her little ritual had an innocent charm to it.
It’s moments like these that remind me that she has a really nice smile. The more I see it, the more I want her to smile more often. That’s what I honestly believed.
“So what do you want to eat?”
“Something that we don’t get to eat at home might be good… How about an omelet over rice?”
“Can’t we eat that at home?”
“It just isn’t the same at home! The eggs only get that soft and fluffy part at stores!!”
As we headed towards the restaurant with silly banter, I could feel the vague sense of unease I’ve held regarding Sayu being washed away.
At the same time, I felt a little ashamed of my faint-heartedness that made a girl so much younger than myself put my needs before hers.
Translated by yuNS @ www. crimsonmagic .me
“It’s so heavyyy…”
“Come on, you’re almost there.”
I unlocked and opened the front door to the apartment, drenched in sweat. Sayu entered ahead of me with a plastic bag in each hand.
“Haaaah… It wasa so heavy I thought I was gonna die.”
“Aren’t you exaggerating a little much there…? Also, can you hurry it up? It’s not like my bags are any lighter than yours.”
“Isn’t this what people would call ‘reaping what you sow’…? Heave-ho.”
Resisting the urge to complain, I picked up my set of plastic bags off the ground and followed after Sayu as I took off my shoes and entered the living room.
On my shoulders were paper bags filled with volumes of manga and other miscellaneous paperback books. The gripping space of the paper bags were already unexpectedly cramped, so there was not much I could do about the pain as the bags were wedged into my shoulders.
It’s the first time in my life that I’ve bought enough books to request for a paper bag to hold them in.
“Are you sure that you even have the time to read these many books? Usually you just eat, take a bath, and go straight to sleep.”
“I can take my time going through them on rest days.”
After eating a rather expensive omelet over rice, we strolled around the department store, where we soon came across a bookstore. We entered on a whim, but it ended up in a bit of a shopping spree.
There had been a time where I would read manga or buy the weekly shounen magazines during my commute. However, after realizing how hard it was to read a book in a packed train, I gave up after a month of persistence. It seemed like a few of the manga that I thought were rather interesting were still actively being published. Since I was there already, I thought that I might as well buy them all for later reading.
Well, that was just the ostensible reason. Of course, there was a part of me that genuinely wanted to read it, but I thought it would be best for Sayu to have something tangible to spend time on during her free time. Thus, in addition to manga, I also bought few books with advertisement labels like ‘Exploding in popularity amongst youths!’ as well as, in a somewhat unnatural whim, a literature book titled ‘The Reason I Ran Away’, written by a girl who left home for an extended time during her school years.
If I had offered to buy the books for her, she would’ve certainly refused, so in the end, I had decided to buy it under the pretext of wanting it for myself. It was only when I had finished the purchase that I realized that the pile of books was heavier than I had imagined. As a result, I was drenched in sweat by the time I arrived home.
“Hey… about all this…”
The plastic bags in Sayu’s hands contained an enormous amount of groceries.
‘Why don’t we eat a little more luxuriously at home too?’ I had offhandedly suggested, but when I asked Sayu what she liked to eat, it turned out that she liked to eat dishes with mellow, softer flavors. On the other hand, I preferred dishes with stronger, more pronounced flavors.
In order to make those dishes, we ended up buying every ingredient we could possibly need, which resulted in this huge volume of groceries.
“Do you think that this will fit in the fridge?”
I hadn’t thought that far ahead.
It goes without saying that the size of the fridge for a single man with no desire to cook is small. To start with, given the dimensions of my home, the size of my appliances had to be considerably small regardless of whether or not I cooked for myself.
I hurriedly opened up the fridge and gazed inside. Then, I turned my eyes towards the bags at Sayu’s sides.
“…Well, it should be fine if you shove it in.”
“Ahaha, let’s do that then.”
With a giggle, she moved to the fridge and put the bags down.
“Hmm, let’s spend this day making some pre-made food. You know, like bitter-melon chanpurū. It’ll also make some space to put the Tupperware.” Sayu said as she took the contents of the plastic bags and placed it into the fridge.
Given how efficiently she was doing it, I felt like I would actually be in the way if I tried to help, so I moved along to the living room.
Placing the paper bag on the living room desk, I took out the books and sprawled them across my bed. I seldom read books, so I didn’t have any bookshelves to keep them.
“About the manga and the books.”
Hearing my loud voice, Sayu temporarily closed the refrigerator and peeked in my direction.
“If you’re free during the daytime, feel free to read through them.”
Despite the distance between us, I could see her gaze waver. Her pupils were cast slightly downward, but she quickly recollected her thoughts.
“Sure. If I’m free, I’ll do just that okay?”
“Oh, but whatever you do, don’t spoil me.”
“I won’t do that, geez.”
Sayu giggled as she put her hands back into a plastic bag. I thought she would resume her task of unloading the contents into the fridge, but instead she came to an abrupt halt.
“Huh, what’s up?”
I called out to the Sayu, who had come to a sudden standstill. The plastic bag had been placed away from the corridor, so I couldn’t see her expression.
“Hey Yoshida-san… why are you so-”
Sayu once again came to a halt.
I questioned, curious. Sayu turned to face me, a smile on her face.
“On second thought, nevermind.”
“Hey come on, don’t leave me hanging like that.”
“It’s really not anything important. Don’t worry about it.”
With a loud ‘Ahaha’, Sayu once again opened the fridge and began unloading the contents of the plastic bags.
To be honest, I’m incredibly pissed.
Though, it was not at the vague conversation we had just a moment ago.
Well, I couldn’t completely say that without a shadow of doubt, but regardless, what I took the most offense to was that ‘smile’ of hers.
There was nothing to laugh about, but yet she laughed. She smiled, but for no concrete purpose at that.
It was commonplace amongst adults. Being able to smile was a necessity, be it in the business realm or the social realm. There was no fault in having such a skill; on the contrary, I’m inclined to believe that not having such a skill would be a cause for hardship for an adult like myself.
Despite that though, I couldn’t help but get a wrenching feeling in my gut knowing that a high school girl like herself was adept at such a shrewd trick.
Isn’t it fine for children to laugh when they please? Shouldn’t children not have any obligation to laugh when they didn’t want to?
“Stop forcing yourself to laugh already.”
I finally spoke up, having scrutinized my words carefully.
Sayu came to a screeching halt.
“Laugh when you want to laugh. I don’t need you to be all sunshine and rainbows around me all the time.”
Sayu turned towards me as I continued. Her expression was a mess of surprise and confusion. Perhaps I was troubling her greatly, but I couldn’t stop at this point.
“You don’t need to be so considerate around me. This might not be your home, but…”
In any case, she wouldn’t be able to return to where she came from until she was internally sorted out. I definitely wouldn’t chase her out either.
“At the very least, you can stay here. As long as you hold out on your promise to me, you can live here as long as you like. That’s why… you don’t need to make such deceitful smiles.”
After I finished all that I had to say, Sayu’s gaze seemed to wander across the room. She let out a long breath to relax her troubled mind and timidly nodded a few times.
“Mm… I’m sorry.”
Saying that, Sayu gazed into my eyes.
“Earlier, I meant to ask you… ‘Why are you so kind to me?’.”
The edges of her lips raised a little as she said that, but it was soon followed with a sigh.
“But I thought that asking that would be pointless, so I stopped.”
“Yoshida-san, if I asked you that right now, would you be able to answer?”
Her question left me at a loss for words.
“No… to start with, I don’t think of myself as being kind.”
“See? And that’s why-”
Sayu’s words slowed to a pause. Then, she smiled.
This time, her smile was truly becoming of herself. Surely, this is how Sayu would smile for real.
“I’m sure that you’re kind without reason. There’s really no point in asking.”
“Eh, that’s can’t be right-“
“Of course it is. I’ve never met anyone as kind as you before, Yoshida-san.”
Sayu silenced my protest as she moved next to me and took a seat.
“So if you don’t like it, then I’ll stop.”
Sayu became sullen at my response, lightly jabbing my side as she continued.
“‘You don’t need to be so considerate around me.’ ‘You don’t need to make such deceitful smiles.’ Isn’t that what you said?”
“I’ll try my best to stop being overly considerate and stop with those deceitful smiles, okay…?”
She gazed straight into my eyes. Her slightly upturned eyes as a result of our differences in height startled me a little.
“Yeah, let’s do just that.” I said as I averted my gaze.
Sayu who was beside me nodded a few, firm times.
“But… about those smiles of mine… It’s already become a habit, so stopping immediately might be a little…”
“It’s alright. I get it.” I said as I nodded, feeling her gaze.
That expression is a habit that was ingrained within her. It doesn’t take much to understand that it isn’t something that can be changed in the course of a day.
At the very least, I’m sure that it was a habit borne of necessity. Just knowing that she had been in such a situation made me seethe with anger.
“Habit’s aren’t that easy to correct. Just take your time with it.”
“…You really are kind.”
“Hey, I’ve told you this before, but don’t have such low standards…”
“I don’t. I’m sure about this.” Sayu interrupted me.
Then, she took my hand into hers.
“It’s not as easy as you think to tolerate others. I don’t think that anyone in my life has been as tolerant of me as you have. Yoshida-san… you are really kind.”
There was an odd weight behind her words. Even though I felt discomfort from being called kind, I couldn’t bring myself to rebut.
“I… I’m not sure if I can properly express this with words…”
Sayu continued, her hands still grasping mine.
“But I’ve always thought to myself that ‘I shouldn’t bother you’, even though the fact that I’m staying here should already be a great bother for you.”
“Haha, you don’t say.” I said, exhaling loudly from my nose.
Sayu softly giggled, and continued.
“That’s why I’ll stop thinking that way. From now on…”
Sayu squeezed my hand tightly.
“I’ll do my best to make you think ‘thank goodness she’s here’… Sounds good?”
I couldn’t help but burst into a fit of chuckles upon hearing that. I could see Sayu’s surprise in the corner of my vision.
“W-, What! Did I say something weird?”
“Not really, it’s more like…”
She’s also quite principled isn’t she?
Honestly, I wanted her to be more self-centered, more indulgent. I would be fine with that, but for one reason or another, it doesn’t seem like she’ll settle down until she’s returned the favor in full.
“You’re also pretty kind too, I guess.”
“Huh? H-, How so…?”
“The heck is that supposed to mean~?”
Sayu openly sulked at my reply. Her childish behavior was endearing in a way.
With a smile, I patted Sayu’s shoulder and said.
“Alright then, I’ll be expecting even greater things from here on out. I’ll be expecting delicious meals every day.”
Sayu seemed to go blank for a moment, smiling bashfully as the realization struck.
“Sure, look forward to it!”
Her heartfelt smile and relaxed mood, befitting of her age, seemed much more natural.
I want her to always have such an expression.
The reason I would think that was surely due to my ego, but I couldn’t help but think so anyway.
That was just how fascinating her natural smile was.
 This is a deviation from the original, which involves some wordplay on Sayu’s part leading into “Why the honorifics” on Yoshida’s part.
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