“Komamura~ You down for some drinks tonight?

As I was getting ready to go home, Isobe invites me to join him again.

“Sorry, I’ll have to pass on this one.”

“C’mon don’t be like that~. It’s just for today you know. How bout it?”

He usually yields immediately when I refuse but he’s unusually persistent about it today.

“I’m a bit tight on money right now so I really can’t.”

“You’re always saying that~ You’re always turning me down these days. I’m going to start crying from this sadness ok?”

“You’re awfully clingy today……Did something bad happen?”

“Right on the money. That’s exactly the perceptiveness I’ve come to know and love about you Komamura!”

“You didn’t need to tell me that last part….”

I’m not exactly thrilled getting told “love” by a man.

“Geez…How cold of you. Anyhow, listen to this. There was this prim and proper girl I’ve been riding the same train with, every morning who I thought was kind of a babe, but would you believe it? I saw her with her boyfriend today!  She dumped me before I could make a move! How could such a sad thing happen?”

“Ah, is that so. I’m sorry to hear that….. Since I’ve heard your story I don’t need to bother going with you to drink then.”

“I don’t think that rational side of Komamura is endearing or good at all! I hate it!”

Love or hate. Which one is it?

“Anyhow, I’ll be going home now”

“Hmmm…… You’re been feeling impatient lately right? My animal instincts are tingling. Did you find a girlfriend?”

That killed my heart for a sec. Calm down. What I found wasn’t a girlfriend.

Isobe doesn’t need to find out about that though.

There’s two troubled girls doing chores in my house after all.

“It’s a shame but you’re wrong on that one. If your ‘animal instincts’ were any good, wouldn’t you have foreseen the girl from the train having a boyfriend coming from a mile away?”

 “You know how to drive it deep where it hurts….. No. it may be true but you know what?  I’ll take no part in such line of questioning.”

“Either way I’ll be going home. You’ll have to go with someone else today.”

“If I go with another guy I’m going to be made fun of for sure.  I need that laid-back behavior of yours right now.”

“Sorry. But I really need to go home today.”

“Uwu–. Meanie”

“Say what you will.”

I turn my back from the dejected Isobe and leave the room.

It seems he had splendidly given up on the idea of inviting me as I could hear Isobe’s voice crying out to the other co-workers behind me.

Although I feel bad about it, I really don’t have the time to listen to the love complaints of others right now.

I’m riddled with worry over leaving those two alone in the house after all.

<><><><><><><>

Kanon was making dinner by the time I got home, same as the other days.

“Is today’s menu hamburger steak?”

There were enough hamburgers in the frying pan for three people.
My taste buds have somewhat changed since I became a fully-fledged member of society. When I was younger, I didn’t like boiled stuff nor pickles but it had grown on me and had compounded with my continuing love for ramen, curry, hamburgers and other stuff back then.

I even had ramen for lunch today.

“You’re still watching me cook stuff. I already told you it’s too distracting”

When Kanon admonished me, I left in a hurry.
I liked watching to study her so I can have a reference point so I can cook in the future but….

Oh well. Guess that can be left for when Kanon warms up to me more.

“Welcome back Komamura-san. The bathtub had just finished filling up.”

–Himari says while coming out of the bathroom.

I had prepared myself for her avoiding me for quite some time but she was acting normal as if nothing happened yesterday.

………No. I should be forgetting it instead.

“Do you want to go in first?”

“Yeah. I’ll go ahead then.”

I put my bag down and promptly head for the bathroom.

Just as Himari said, the tub was half-filled with hot water, ready for use.

“Aaaaaaa~~~~……………”

Immediately after settling in the hot water, I unconsciously voice out the feeling of stress leaving my body.

The difference between showering and soaking in a bathtub is night and day when it comes to removing fatigue.

Now that the days are getting hotter a shower is the way to go but it’s important to soak in a bathtub like this sometimes I think.

When I was alone, putting water in the bathtub was a chore to do but thank to Himari and Kanon, the burden is nonexistent.

It weights on my mind thinking what will happen once they are gone.

Sure I could just go back to the same life I’ve always been living but……..

I think I’m not really fond of the idea.

Shortly after I got out of the tub and changed clothes, my phone that was placed on top of the washing machine rang.

The caller was none other than my old man.

 I suppress my voice as low as I could go as I answer the phone so the two outside the room couldn’t hear.

“Sorry for the sudden call Kazuki. How’s Kanon holding up?”

“She’s doing well so far.”

Although, it’s not like we’re at an amicable point where she’d tell me her worries at the drop of the hat either.   If Himari wasn’t here it’s likely that the relationship between us would have been downright sour— Not that I can tell my pops about that though.

“That’s great news. As you know our family has never raised girls and Kanon has never lived with a man either. I was a little concerned with whether or not it would pan out.”

And that concern is downright warranted.

High school girls are an alien existence to me. I just managed to wing it through.

“As for the matter with your Aunt……She hasn’t been found yet”

“I see.”

“If any information comes to light I’ll contact you right away. I’ll have to ask you to please put up with Kanon for a while longer.”

“I understand. Don’t push yourself too hard too pops.”

“….Sure thing.”

I ended up looking upwards in lament after ending the call.

It’s too late to think of this now but… Isn’t Kanon worried about her mother at all?

If she is, she isn’t showing it.

At any rate, the only thing I can do for her now is to give her a place to stay.

I want Kanon to have some peace of mind at the very least.

“Oh yeah—”

As soon as we started eating dinner suddenly interjects.

“When I was cooking, I remembered that I still haven’t asked you what foods you don’t like”

“That’s true….”

 In fact, how could such an important matter not be brought up yet. It’s rather amazing how everybody  here had completely forgot about it.

I took a bite of my hamburger as I though of it.

That’s the stuff. The tender burger in my mouth spreads its juices.
I made it once back when by brother was staying here with me and I managed to forget to prepare breadcrumbs to bind the meat1 and other ingredients together.

Once I ended up making it anyways, I remember it turned into a dreadful, dry hamburger.

“Is there any food that you dislike? Oh but before that, I should ask you if you have any allergies. I really should have asked that well in advance.”

“Oh yeah…..”

“I myself don’t have any allergies”

While I do have a mild one with house dust mites, it doesn’t have any bearings in our current conversation.

Himari has also done a good job of tidying up the place.

“I don’t have any either”

“That’s great news. What are the foods you don’t like then?”

“I’m….not fond of cucumbers. The sandwich I bought at a store had cucumbers in it that seems to have been a bit past the expiration…… I had expected it to be crunchy back when I ate it. But it was soggy when I bit in. Something about it suddenly made me sick so I’ve grown to dislike it………”

“Oh my…..”

Kanon and I winced at Kanon’s tragic tale.

It was easy to picture the little Himari in shock with sandwich in hand.

“I can eat most foods but…. I just can’t handle oysters. It’s not in season right now and they’re expensive to begin with so I don’t think you will bother cooking one. I’m just saying.”

“We’re the same then. Oysters are a pass for me too.”

A surprising common point between us has been revealed.

“There’s just something gross about the way it looks”

“I know right. The texture it has too”

“You can say that again. It’s disgusting”

“The sea smell it has is too much.”

“Right, right. I do think clams in miso soup are fine though~”

“Definitely. Unlike clams, oysters are so big the reek of it just goes straight to your nose”

We were getting lively at badmouthing oysters.

Seeing us, Himari started giggling.

“Wh-what’s funny…..?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just that you two really are cousins after all. You have the same look on your face when you’re getting excited.”

“Eh—?”

For some reason, Kanon’s face turned red and clammed up.
Me and Kanon are similar huh…….

 I thought that she was pretty much an unknown person to me but, hearing Himari’s words makes me suddenly feel we have a connection.

I also realized that it wasn’t such a bad feeling being told I’m like Kanon

Though I don’t how Kanon feels about that.

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  1. TN- Some people might wonder why because their definition of a hamburger might be salt pepper meat and nothing else but some cultures add eggs or breadcrumbs or other stuff to add cohesiveness to the patty.