Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu:Volume1 Chapter2
 Chapter 2
A certain scorching hot Sunday in May.
I stood in front of a certain store situated in the largest electronics street in Japan.
Looking at the strange sights in front of me, I couldn't help but sigh soundlessly.
"...Why isn't it out yet? I've been playing this for a long time..."
An extremely pretty girl muttered with a crestfallen look in her eyes as she leaned her petite head to one side.
This kind of expression wasn't particularly strange, since the pretty girl is still, in principle, human (although some people would think otherwise), and she seems to be frustrated with an unsolvable problem. In truth, it wasn't a very complex question, it's just that...
It's just that, the only problem lies between......the object that the pretty girl held in her right hand, and the object in front of her eyes.
"This isn't the one again..."
Her slender fingers clutched a spherical object about 6cm in diameter, obtained from an exchange of coin currency. The object that had been rolling out of the machine incessantly since a while ago was what we commoners call a capsule vending machine.
Everytime she checked the toy in the egg-shaped capsule, Haruka's voice would become weaker, but even so, the hand that was constantly rotating the lever on the vending machine never stopped. Who would have guessed that her gambling instinct would be so strong.
"Next one...I'll surely get it on the next try..."
Anyway...This extremely pretty girl who was frantically throwing coins into a capsule vending machine as though her life depended on it gave people an overwhelming sense of discordance. Everyone who passed by the two of us would involuntarily look at the strange situation that we were in.
"Haruka...Isn't it enough already?"
She already had more than ten capsules rolling around on the ground beside her, but Haruka continued to shake her head.
"...Because the piano-playing Aki-chan isn't out yet..."
In other words, we'll be here forever if the piano-playing Aki-chan doesn't come out? God, don't be caught in the trap of despicable merchants......
Clank clank, the lever sounded again. Haruka looked at the object within the capsule and frowned deeply as she gave a mournful expression.
"I didn't get it again..."
I didn't know what to do anymore as I helplessly watched Haruka continue to toss coin after coin into the machine, only to let out a sigh that's probably deeper than the Mariana Trench.
What...Just what am I doing!
I really don't understand myself. It's such a rare opportunity to go shopping with Haruka, so how did we end up here? Right now, I felt the overwhelming need to rethink the decision to take a new direction in life that I had made about a month ago.
How did I end up in this kind of situation?
I'll have to start...from three days ago.
After the Golden Week holidays had ended, everyone in school hurriedly began to prepare for the upcoming mid-term examinations. On a certain day, after school, I had been half-forced by the music teacher, who was also my assistant class teacher, to be her assistant (she made me clean the staff toilet all by myself). When I returned to the classroom, panting heavily from exertion, I found a letter in the drawer of my desk.
"If you have time after school, please come to the music room, I have something to discuss with you."
When did this letter get into my drawer? The handwriting on the letter was perfect, and I wouldn't be surprised if any other person would see this as a love letter or something similar.
There was only one unfortunate flaw in the letter. An animal with demonic eyes (its an animal right?) was drawn beside the line of words. If the person looking at the drawing was an innocent child, he'll probably be completely heartbroken and his eyes opened to the cruelty of the world outside his sheltered environment.
I knew from first sight that only she could be the author of this letter. Or should I say, only I knew that she was capable of such satanic drawings.
"As I expected...Haruka."
Just as I expected, the signature at the bottom of the letter read 'Nogizaka Haruka'.
She's my classmate, the multi-talented daughter of a rich and powerful family, nicknamed the 'Nuit étoile' and the most famous person in the school with a three digit member count in her fan club. There may be some people in Hakujo Academy who doesn't know the name of their principal, but no one wouldn't know the name of Nogizaka Haruka.
Why would someone as famous as her, call someone as average as me to the music room after school? Because I knew a secret of hers...
Looking at the clock, I saw that it was going to be five o'clock in the afternoon, almost an hour and a half after school had ended. Even though I couldn't have possibly avoided the assignment that had been forced onto me, the princess would probably have gone home already after waiting in vain for such a long time.
I ran towards the music room. There was no one in the corridor that was illuminated by the setting sun, and the only sounds that could be heard were from the sports clubs that were practicing outside the windows of the corridor.
Though it was only May, the weather was already extremely warm, so warm that even a short run during the evening hours would have one work up a sweat. I took out a towel from my bag to wipe my sweat, deciding that I would buy a can of Mango juice (Summer Limited-edition product) from the vending machine. Phew, it's really hot.
When I reached the door of the music room, I could hear the sounds of people talking alongside the music from the piano; looks like there are a few people in the music room. Don't tell me that there're other besides Haruka in the room?
I pushed open the thick, acoustic door. On the other side of the door laid... the forbidden garden.
The first person I saw was Haruka. That's alright, since she was the one who called me over. I would be in trouble if I hadn't seen her.
But...Why were there so many girls around Haruka?
These girls had completely surrounded Haruka, who was playing the piano. At first glance, there were more than ten girls from all levels, from the first year kouhais to the third year senpais. Maybe these people were jealous of the 'Nuit étoile's' popularity?
...That's impossible, Haruka shouldn't be the subject of anyone's jealousy. From the expressions on the girls' faces as they watched Haruka's slender fingers fly across the keyboard, they should be full of admiration for her.
Which leaves me with only one answer; Nogizaka Haruka, the 'Nuit étoile', was just as popular with girls as she was with guys. In other words, in the eyes of her fellow girls, Haruka was in an extremely influential position. Such that even playing the piano in the music room after school would draw a crowd.
At the end of a piece, all the girls applauded enthusiastically.
"Haruka-senpai, that was a really good piece, what's the name of that piece?"
"That was <<Jeux d’eau>> (playing water), by the French composer Maurice Ravel."
"Wow, you could really feel the ripples in the water! I was completely enthralled."
"It really did give the impression of a smooth flowing stream."
The girls excitedly discussed their own opinions on the piece.
Hmm...So this is the world of girls! A field of lilies made up the background of this world, urging one to move forward. Right now, those girls were busy fawning over Haruka, while Haruka was busy answering their questions, so no one actually noticed that I had walked into the music room... Which made me feel left out and unimportant.
I had no choice but to announce my presence in the room.
I waved at her from a corner of the music room. As expected... my words completely changed the atmosphere in the room, although I didn't really want to do something like that.
"...Who is he?"
"He just called Haruka-senpai by her name, what's their relationship?"
"He's Ayase from class one..."
More than ten murderous looks shot towards me at the same time. D...Did I do something wrong?
I broke out in cold sweat as I involuntarily took a step backwards. At this moment, Haruka finally noticed my presence as she smiled at me.
"Ah, Yuuto-san, you're here, sorry to keep you waiting."
"Haruka-senpai called him by his name..."
"Haruka-senpai looks really happy..."
"Who does he think he is to do something like this!"
The piercing looks from the girls became even sharper, and I felt as though I was kneeling on the carpet of needles in the <<Legend of King Arthur>> with a huge stone mat in my lap.
"I'm very sorry, but I have a meeting with this person. We'll stop here for today..."
Haruka bowed her head in apology as the girls objected with cries of 'No!', 'We still want to hear senpai play the piano'. Even so, they still left the music room, not daring to oppose Haruka's decision.
As they passed by me, some of them glared at me murderously, while others threatened me with a variety of death threats ranging from 'If you dare to do anything strange to Haruka-senpai, I'll stab you!', to 'Watch your back when you're walking alone at night!' and to extreme ones like 'Be careful of an errant tub of acid!'.
"...What did you want to talk to me about?"
After I had confirmed that those girls (Murderous spirits) had indeed left the room (It would be dangerous not to do so), I went into the topic that I had gone to the music room for.
Haruka lowered her head as she shyly asked,
"Yuuto-san...Are you free on Sunday?"
"Sunday? I don't have anything planned for that day."
Though I was wondering why Haruka would ask something like this, obviously I couldn't tell her that I had to wash the laundry for my idiot sister on Sundays (mostly household chores). Meanwhile, Haruka gave a happy expression after hearing my answer before apprehensively asking me another question ...
"Th...Then, could you go out with me?"
In that moment, my brain was completely blank as I desperately tried to process the meaning behind Haruka's words.
This sudden event had really caused my brain to devolve. Could this be...
Did Haruka just ask me out on a date?
"No no no, it's not that, it's not a date..."
Haruka shook her head vigorously as her face was as red as a cooked shrimp. Looking at how Haruka frantically denied that it was a date...I felt a stab of disappointment.
"It's not a date, just that I wanted to buy something and I wanted you to go with me."
A red-faced Haruka explained. So that's what it's about. While we've been on extremely good terms this past month, the 'Nuit étoile' would never ask me out on a date. But then...from another perspective, wouldn't normal people see something like this (two people going shopping together) as a date?
"So...So what do you think? Of...Of course, if you're not interested, you don't have to force yourself..."
"No, it's alright, I'll go."
My answer was faster than the speed of light.
Anyone who dared to reject Haruka's invitation would surely be eaten by demons.
Haruka suddenly beamed.
"Th...thank you. Because it's my first time going there, I'd feel insecure by myself... I was thinking of what to do if Yuuto-san turned me down."
Hmm, for some reason I would accept with excessive pleasure. You might say I was extremely happy.
"By shopping, do you mean...?"
When I asked such a fundamental thing, she answered with a beautiful smile to the extend that 100% of the highschool boys in the street would fall in love with the 'Nuit étoile'.
Well in a word... I got it now. This is the secret of Nogizaka Haruka. A strange string that ties her and me, a surprising side of the 'Nuit étoile' that I'm the only one to know.
What can I say... Nogizaka Haruka... is an otaku.
And that was how I decided the way I was to spend my Sunday.
To be honest, I wasn't particularly excited.
Of course, it's not that I didn't want to spend Sunday together with Haruka. I should be barking with excitement at Haruka's invitation, since it was a Sunday that I would be spending with the 'Nuit étoile' alone, something that was way better than washing clothes at home. And, Haruka's very cute, so I should be as happy as a mouse when I'm with her.
The reason for my lack of enthusiasm was because I only have bad memories of Akihabara.
That day was the third time in my entire life that I've been to Akihabara. The previous two experiences were painful, to say the least...of course, it wasn't Akihabara's fault, but the fault of the idiot who dragged me to Akihabara. But the deep mental scars that I had from my first two trips to Akihabara would not disappear so easily.
I first came to this place when I was in first grade.
At that time, I had accepted Nobunaga's invitation, leaving the familiar surroundings of my house to this huge street with an adventurous mindset. But in merely just an hour later, I had already regretted accepting his invitation.
Because I got lost.
I was alone on the crowded and chaotic street.
The reason was simple, the fellow who had brought me here forgot about my existence the moment he ran off to buy the things that he wanted. He was the same age as me, but nonetheless Akihabara was already his second home, unlike me, who was unable to differentiate North, South, East, and West the moment I walked into the place (though this happens frequently to me), which was why it didn't take long for me to get lost.
After getting lost, I obviously was unable to find my way to the train station.
After two long hours, the crying and wailing me finally received the protection of the police.
The second time was a few years later, when I was in my senior year at my primary school.
Even though I had already swore never to come to Akihabara ever again, I once again accepted that his invitation. This time, that fellow ran off again when we were shopping, leaving me behind. It's been an extremely dark part of my life until now, despite managing to get home by myself this time.
And that is why I view this street with a slightly fearful and suspicious look.
We had agreed to meet in front of the Akihabara train station. Because it was a Sunday, the station was flooded with people. Oh right, Haruka had said that it was her first time coming to Akihabara. I was surprised when I first heard that, but upon closer inspection, it actually wasn't anything to be surprised about. I had already come to know that Haruka was a clever, beautiful, kind-hearted and talented daughter of a rich and powerful family in our one month's worth of interaction. Which means that as an Otaku, she wasn't very experienced, but I could see that her potential was probably higher than Mount Everest.
Just as I was lost in my own thoughts...
"...Have you been waiting for long?"
Speak of the devil. In the time that I was embroiled in my own thoughts, Haruka had already arrived.
"I'm sorry, I had wanted to be on time..."
"No, you're not late, I was early."
I was speaking the truth. To be precise, as I was so looking forward to spending the day with Haruka that I woke up extremely early. That kind of excited feeling was like that of a primary school kid before going on a field trip. Because it was so embarrassing, I didn't dare to mention it to Haruka.
But even then!!!
Today was the first time I've seen Haruka in casual clothing...How should I describe her? She's really extremely cute. A white ribbon was tied around her silky long hair, coupled with a white one-piece western dress and a cream cardigan, she really looked like the daughter of a rich and powerful family. This combination served to amplify her charm by a full 2.5 times in comparison with any other daughter of a rich and powerful family (My personal subjective opinion). Every inch of her being simply oozed class......Ah! I was already at a loss for words, so in short, she was so cute that she had the power to attract the entire galaxy.
"What...What's wrong? I'll be embarrassed if you continue to stare at me like this..."
"Ah, I'm sorry."
I couldn't help but stare at her dazedly. But the way Haruka raised the edges of her eyes and looked at me while blushing was so cute...
No, I can't continue to fantasize! I'm worried that something will happen to my brain if I continue in this vein.
I shook my head vigorously, throwing all my prior thoughts out of the window. Haruka, on the other hand, looked at me apprehensively.
"...Is there something wrong with me? It's my first time wearing this dress...Is it ugly?"
"No, of course not."
Of course there wasn't anything wrong with her, the dress suited Haruka perfectly.
Haruka may not have realized, but since her appearance, all eyes (especially the male ones) had been trained on her. In all honesty, no matter where Haruka went, she'll always be the focal point in a crowd. She has always stood out, like the beautiful swan that flies into a crowd of ugly ducklings (myself included).
Upon hearing my suggestion, Haruka smiled shyly as her dress fluttered slightly in the wind. That simple action made everyone around her sigh in amazement, because it was.......really really really really really really cute.
I'm so lucky to be able to see her like this! I shouted out in my mind before walking off with Haruka.
I think I'll explain the reason behind our shopping trip to Akihabara.
No, I mean, of course we're here to buy something. I just wanted to describe in more detail what exactly we were here for.
Below is the contents of a conversation I had with Haruka.
"Well...I want to buy a silver Portable Toys Advance."
The 'Portable Toys Advance' that Haruka is talking about is an extremely popular handheld gaming console, commonly referred to as the 'PTA'. To my knowledge, the silver PTA should be an extremely rare limited edition model, something that even Nobunaga wants to get his hands on.
"Then we should go to the toy shop shouldn't we?"
"Right, I think that any toy shop or electronics store should have it. I'm not very sure either, I'm just following what's stated on the magazine."
She's not very trustworthy is she...
"Then let's go check out the electronics stores, since every store on this street is an electronics store..."
To be honest, it'll be harder to find a store on this street that isn't an electronics store.
"Then let's start from the electronics store on that corner alright?"
I attempted to steer us in the right direction.
"Ah, wait a moment."
My suggestion was rejected.
"Hmm...actually, I've specially prepared something for today."
Haruka fumbled in her bag for a while before taking out two pieces of paper.
"Hmm...Yuuto-san, this is your copy, I hope it'll be useful..."
"A shopping guide."
Haruka smiled proudly.
What in the world is this?
"This is a guide that I specially created for today. I've already organized the places that we're going to, the path we're going to take, and our estimated time of arrival on this piece of paper, so it's a universal map. I spent three hours making this guide, hee hee."
Haruka laughed conservatively.
So it's actually a map. It's a good idea to plan out our schedule ahead of time, but after looking at the strange lines that bear a strong resemblance to two snakes entangled in a fight, I don't think any one would think that it's a map, right?
I didn't let my uneasiness show as I raised the guide up for a better look. Although I had already lost hope in the map part of the guide, the other parts seemed to have been done well, so we shouldn't get lost with the information written here. There shouldn't be any problem as long as we're able to reach our destinations without any trouble.
According to the schedule on the guide, Haruka had placed the buying of the PTA (estimated to be around 5 O'clock in the afternoon) as the last activity of the day.
"Why did you put the most important thing at the last place on the schedule? If you really want to buy it, shouldn't you get it earlier..."
I thought that the average Japanese citizen would want to get their hands on their target object as soon as possible. Perhaps Haruka had other intentions when she placed this as the last activity on the schedule, maybe she's saving the best for last?
In response to my question, Haruka squinted playfully at me.
"If we buy it at the beginning of the day, it would mean that our shopping trip has ended. Though it's something that I'm looking forward to... it'll be such a waste to just let it end so quickly. And also..."
"And also...I think that the most important activity should be saved till the end of the day."
Looks like Haruka is the type of person who would eat her favorite food last.
Anyway, the purchase of the PTA should be the main objective of the day.
But before the completion of the main objective, it seems like we have a few side objectives to complete first. So the two of us followed the schedule as we began shopping in Akihabara.
This place...is still as crowded as ever.
No matter where one turned to, one would always see posters of anime and video games, even some life-sized advertisements. To be here was like stepping into another dimension, giving one the feeling of being in a completely different world.
"Hmm...We'll turn left at this junction, walk forward for a bit, then turn right..."
Haruka looked at the map as she guided me through this strange new world.
...How does she read this map? To me, the map, looked more and more like eels with stomaches that were entangled with each other and a certain kind of talent seemed to be needed to be able to draw such a map. However in comparison, an even larger amount of talent was required to be able to decipher this map...Although, I would never want to have that kind of talent.
"And then after turning right here, we should see a white building."
Thanks to Haruka, we didn't get lost and got to each of our destinations safely, swiftly completing all our side objectives (shopping at anime stores, buying otaku merchandise etc). Right now, we're moving towards out fourth objective - an anime bookstore.
As we walked across the large road, we saw many small groups of people. There were even thirty, forty people forming a queue outside some shops. Maybe those people were participating in some event? On such a hot day, they really do have it hard. I would be happy to help them stand in for a while. But, obviously that isn't possible.
Just as I was looking at those people,
Haruka, who was standing beside me, suddenly ran off. Ah, not again! Her target was yet another store, and I could only quietly observe her excited figure.
This was already the third time this had happened today, so I wasn't surprised anymore.
I slowly walked towards where Haruka was headed.
Haruka had plastered her entire body onto the display window of that shop.
Her gaze was fixated on a model of a red-haired girl playing the piano (the price was extremely expensive, at twenty-five thousand yen.....). The look in her eyes was exactly the same as the youth who goes to the music store everyday to look at his favorite trumpet.
Haruka would rush over like a bull charging towards a red flag whenever she saw anything that she liked, not caring about anything else that was happening around her. Even the me that's beside her would be completely forgotten.
Which is why for a few times already, I had been thrown into an uncomfortable situation whereby I was holding a handful of goods but abandoned by my shopping partner, which made me feel rather lonely and empty.
Why am I here? I began to question the validity of my existence in this place...But, I came to terms with this feeling of emptiness as time wore on.
"Wouldn't it be a form of happiness if one was able to see something as cute as this?"
However, being abandoned by Haruka didn't seem such a big deal after seeing how happy she was, something which I would definitely not have seen in school. Because being able to look at such an innocent and happy 'Nuit étoile' was the best form of payment.
After fifteen minutes, Haruka still didn't look as though she was going to peel herself off the display window.
"Umm...If you like it so much, why don't you just buy it!"
If this goes on, we'll be disrupting the store's ability to conduct business. But when I suggested this to her, Haruka answered with a gloomy expression on her face,
"There are too many things that I want to buy, but...I don't have the budget for it."
Who'd have thought that the daughter of a family that's as rich as royalty would say something like that. Judging by their standard of living, Haruka's pocket money should be at least a million yen a month, and her new year's gift money should be at least five million yen right?
When I asked,
"N...not at all!"
Haruka shook her head violently in denial.
"My pocket money's really little...I have a hard time just trying to save up a bit of money every month."
"Just how much do you get a month?"
I wanted to know more, just for reference.
The amount that came out of Haruka's mouth was surprisingly similar to the amount of my pocket money.
"That's really surprising..."
I was really extremely surprised. The eldest daughter of the rich and powerful Nogizaka clan receiving exactly the same amount of pocket money a month as the son of the middle Ayase clan, that probably won't even be able to trace their family tree up to more than a few generations, would probably surprise anyone.
"My father's extremely strict...For today, I even took out my precious ten-thousand yen bill from my saving box...even my pig-san was called to be with the Lord."
Pig-san...Is she referring to her piggy bank?
"That's why I can't spend my money rashly...It's alright, I'll be happy just by looking."
Haruka laughed happily. She really attracts the affection of others, just for that (before the store assistants come out to chase us away), Haruka, Uncle promises to let you stare at the display for as long as you want!
And then, we stayed for about ten more minutes in front of the store display.
"Thank you for allowing me to have such a blissful experience."
Haruka was finally satisfied. But, just as we prepared to set out towards our next destination...
Haruka seemed to have noticed something once again, as she rushed towards the side of the main road for the fourth time.
This time, her target was a shop selling anime merchandise. However, she didn't step into the store, but made a beeline for a block of squarish objects that were out in front. Ah! Isn't that the vending machines that sell what we call capsules! How nostalgic, I remember frequenting such machines during my primary school days. The capsules contained plastic figurines of the gundams and certain muscle-bound superheroes which I loved, and if I were to go through my old stuff, I'd probably turn up quite a sizable amount of those figurines.
"This should be what you're talking about right? A capsule will roll out if you put a coin in...Ah! Isn't that 'Clumsy Girl Aki-chan'?"
...I seemed to have heard that name somewhere. The rectangular box that Haruka was pointing her finger at had a picture of the figurine of a familiar-looking blue-haired girl on a piano.
Haruka had a childish look in her eyes. I felt like I was becoming more and more familiar with Haruka's interests.
"Why don't you try it?"
This was different from what she was looking at just now, so it shouldn't be much of a problem.
"Hmm? Try it? You're saying that I should try this machine?"
I encouraged her to try the machine, but for some unknown reason, Haruka was extremely hesitant about my suggestion. Ah! Could it be that she wasn't interested in these things?
In response to my question, Haruka answered in a tiny voice.
"Umm...To tell the truth, it's my first time trying something like this."
"Your first time?"
Her first time using a capsule vending machine?
Haruka nodded abashedly.
"Today's the first time I've ever seen something like this, and it's also my first contact with it. Hmm...How should I put it...This should be my first experience right? That's why I'm a bit worried...would I be able to do it?"
The word is probably correct. However I'd like you to stop speaking of your first experience in the middle of the afternoon in the presence of others.
"W...what do you think?"
"Hmm... you're probably right. It's not something particularly difficult."
Just put the coin in and turn the handle for the capsule to roll out. Even kindergarten kids can do it.
"Is that so? Then I guess I'll give it a try."
Haruka seems to have finally made up her mind. She took out her purse from her bag and approached the machine with an extremely serious expression reminiscent of a middle-aged technologically-challenged employee's expression towards the company computer on his desk. Looks like I'll have to gently watch over her for the time being...
"A...ah? Ah? It's strange... what's happening?"
Suddenly, I saw that Haruka had a confused look on her face.
"Yuuto-san...Is this machine broken? I can't put the money in."
"It shouldn't be broken...Let me have a look."
I leaned over for a closer look.
Only when I leaned over did I see that Haruka was attempting to stuff a ten-thousand yen bill into the coin opening. My clever Haruka-sama, if it's a paper note, you'll never be able to stuff it into an opening designed for coins.
"...Haruka, you can't use notes for capsule machines, they only accept coins."
I beg you, please don't ask such questions with a perfectly straight face.
"I get it, it only accepts coins."
Haruka opened her purse once more, only to give an upset expression, as though she was unable to eat a delicious dish that's right in front of her.
"...I don't have coins."
"...I'll lend you some!"
If this goes on, god knows when Haruka will finally start turning the handle of the capsule machine, so I made that suggestion.
"...I'm sorry to bother you."
I placed a thousand-yen bill into the coin exchange machine in return for ten hundred-yen coins. Looking at the transmutation of my paper note into coins, I felt as though I had lost money, since after all, I'm just your average stingy city-dweller.
"Here, take it."
Haruka nervously took a hundred-yen coin from my hand.
And that was how Haruka began her first experience with capsule vending machines...Even though...I personally felt that this first experience was rather dangerous.
I was worried about whether she would become addicted to the machine.
From past experience, I know that for anyone using the capsule vending machines, it's extremely hard to stop once one has chosen a target. Unless the target object has been obtained, the person using the machine would usually not be able to bring him/herself to stop.
If that person is a primary school kid, then it isn't that bad, because no matter how much he/she wants to continue playing, he/she has to stop once his/her money is used up. In other words the wallets of primary school children are natural deterrents. If at that exact moment, the person next to that particular primary school kid coincidentally gets the figurine that he/she wants, that kid will surely burst into tears on the spot. But, after going through countless such trials and tribulations, that primary school kid will eventually mature and grow up...Wait, I seem to have gone off topic here.
Anyway, what I want to say is that, if the person playing is a high school student with a significantly bigger wallet, what would the situation be like?
Just thinking about the probable outcome gave me a headache.
Though I fervently hoped that my predicted answer was wrong, the truth has no pity...
As I expected, in order to obtain her target object (The piano-playing 'Clumsy girl Aki-chan'), Haruka sent four pieces of Natsume Soseki(1000 Yen) up into heaven, while the emptied capsules rolled around on the ground beside us like pebbles on the riverbank.
And then it was lunchtime.
According to the schedule, the place where we're supposed to have lunch is a restaurant named 'Calotte-culotte'.
"What kind of restaurant is it?"
It could be a family restaurant, but it was impossible to tell from the name of the restaurant.
Haruka gave a mysterious smile, looking as though she had been waiting for that question for a long time.
"It's a cafe that I read about in a magazine, a place which I've been wanting to go for a long time. This is the second-most important activity of the day, so please look forward to it!"
The second-most important activity of the day? Hmm, upon closer inspection, there's a small flower-shaped symbol beside the name of the cafe, something which I had missed (or had subconsciously deleted from my field of vision). And also, a 'monster' was drawn beside the large electronics store that was the focal point of our shopping trip. This 'monster' had a needle-like beard, sharp claws and blood-red eyes...Haruka was probably trying to draw a cat wasn't she?
Haruka hummed the tune of 'A Young Maiden's Prayer' as she skipped along.
But I was unable to relax. My body was ensnared by an unknown sense of uneasiness, like the sudden appearance of rain clouds, together with thunder and lightning on an impossibly sunny day.
Haruka's voice brought me down to earth. Looks like we have already reached our destination while I was lost in thought.
"Looks like there aren't a lot of people inside yet, that's great! Yuuto-san, let's go inside!"
Haruka's voice sounded extremely joyful.
Just what kind of weird (please forgive my rudeness) cafe has Haruka recommended? I looked up while holding on to my biased opinion.
It's a very normal-looking cafe!
The exterior of the cafe gave passerbys a cute yet elegant impression, the type which girls like. Looking in through the glass windows, the interior decorations also weren't too flashy, giving potential customers a good feeling about the cafe. After going into the cafe itself, I didn't find anything that was particularly abnormal or unacceptable. Anyway, the interior decorations of this restaurant had white as it's basic theme, giving the cafe a simplistic feel. Although I was a bit concerned about the fact that most of the customers were male, since everything was within my area of tolerance, I didn't give much thought to it.
We sat down at a table beside the window and looked at the menu. The menu had...many imaginative dishes, but...it's still rather normal I guess!
Hmm...Looks like I've been worrying for nothing. Haruka should have placed this cafe as the second most important activity due to its cute decor. Yes, that must be it, in principle, Haruka's still a normal girl.
Just as I sighed in relief and prepared to order, a girl's voice sounded above my head.
"Welcome, would you be ordering now?"
Ah! The waitress was here to take out orders. I was still trying to decide between 'Pasta from the unbelievable kingdom', or the 'Seven dwarves' apple pie', while Haruka was also having a hard time deciding on what to order. Well then, I'll just have to ask the waitress to wait for a while more!
I put down the menu and raised my head.
"Hmm, I'm sorry, but we'll need a bit more time to decide, please..."
I was unable to finish the sentence.
Because what I saw made all my bodily functions come to a complete stop.
Even my brain stopped working.
"Mister, what's wrong?"
Because standing in front of my eyes was a...how should I put it...a maid. She was wearing an apron with a similarly colored hairband (something like a hairband, I don't know the official name for it), and she also had something that looked like cat ears on her head. Was I hallucinating?
"Your friend hasn't decided on her order yet?"
"Ah, that's right. Could you please wait for a while more?'
"I got it~~Please take your time."
The plate-bearing cat-eared maid nodded. A cat-ear maid...If I were to describe her appearance, I would say that her performance is extremely outstanding.
"Then please call for me when both of you have decided..."
The cat-ear maid smiled kindly as she walked away, her tail swaying from side to side behind her. To confirm that my vision was still normal, I immediately shot a question at Haruka.
"Haruka...what is this place?"
"Isn't this a cafe?"
That I know... I mean, when did cat-eared maids become the standard accessories of a Japanese cafe?
"The uniforms of the waitresses here are all very cute, that's why everyone comes here just for the maids."
...Hang on, Haruka said 'everyone'?
I rushed out of the cafe to check out its sign once again, realizing that the sign really did say 'Maid cafe' 'Calotte-culotte'.
So that's it...It really is that kind of cafe.
I sat back down feeling emotionally drained.
A maid cafe! Since the truth was now in front of my eyes, I could only agree with the cafe's decision to let their waitresses dress up as maids, since that was their main selling point. There would be no point in running a maid cafe without maids in it.
Which was why I could only compromise. No, not that I wasn't disturbed, but if I was too disturbed, we won't be able to eat lunch. But...
"...Hey, why are all of them wearing cat ears?"
That was my biggest question. And upon closer inspection, some of the maids even had tails...From a purely academic point of view, what are they trying to do with that kind of accessory?
"Isn't it because it's very cute?"
Haruka's answer was short and sweet.
"The original maid costume is already extremely cute, so adding a pair of cat ears would serve to amplify that cuteness. This is a perfect example of a situation whereby 1 plus 1 does not equate to 2, but equates to 3, or even 4."
Haruka smiled. I agree with her analysis, but...
"It's really cute...I want to try on a maid costume too. I think I'll borrow one from Hazuki next time..."
Haruka looked at the maids with a dreamy look in her eyes. Hmm...I want to imagine...how Haruka would look like in a maid uniform. Haruka in a maid costume and wearing a pair of cat ears, smiling as she says 'Master♪'...it has a nice feel to it.
...What am I thinking about!
I don't like the me that's thinking unwholesome thoughts. To purge those impure thoughts from my brain, I twisted my body and looked at Haruka, who was still looking dreamily at the maids in the cafe out of the corner of my eye. Suddenly, Haruka lightly hit the palm of her left hand with her right hand as though she suddenly remembered something.
"Yuuto-san...I thought of a good idea."
"...What good idea?"
I don't think that it'll be anything good for me, which was why I was rather afraid of Haruka's answer.
"I want to ask them to allow us to take pictures of them."
"It's such a rare chance for me to be here, so I want to take a photo with the maids ."
I wasn't even able to try to stop her before Haruka started moving with a digital camera that had popped out of nowhere in her hand.
"Excuse me, but...could I take a picture with you?"
Haruka called a maid over and made her request.
"I'm very sorry, but our cafe prohibits the taking of pictures..."
The cat-eared maid rejected the request politely.
"Hmm? Is that so?"
"Yes, I'm really sorry..."
The maid bowed apologetically. That's great, though I felt that it wasn't very nice to Haruka, but at least I won't be forced to take an embarrassing picture in this kind of cafe.
But, I seemed to have relaxed a tad too early.
"Really...can't? I really really wanted to take a picture with cat-ear maids..."
Haruka looked like an abandoned kitten. Perhaps the cat-ear maid couldn't bear to see a customer in such a depressed state, she thought about it for a while before telling Haruka, 'Hmm, please wait for a while, perhaps there's a way,' and then ran off towards the employee area of the cafe. I fervently hoped that she wouldn't come back with a solution...but before I could do anything, the cat-eared maid came running back.
"Mister, Miss, please follow me."
"About this, I told the manager about your request, and he allows you to take pictures. If you don't mind, I could take the picture with the two of you. But so as to not disturb the other customers, we'll have to go into the employee section of the cafe to take the pictures..."
"Really? Of course that would be alright. Thank you."
Haruka nodded in appreciation as she smiled joyfully, causing the cat-ear maid to blush in embarrassment. How should I put it, because Haruka used her angelic smile (ultimate move), that was effective against both genders. Hmm...perhaps there would be one more female member for the fan club, which doesn't have many female members. (By the way, the male:female ratio of the Hakujo Academy Nogizaka Haruka Fanclub is 5:1).
Anyway, on that day, the 'Nuit étoile', the cat-eared maid and I smiled for the camera (my face was cramped up), obtaining a photo that could be passed down to later generations, but was too embarrassing to talk about.
Under the smiling face of the cat-ear maid, I left the maid cafe feeling extremely tired. But almost immediately, Haruka saw something that she liked once again, swiftly going into her fifth special operation of the day. I could only sit down on the dirty bench in front of the store, staring blankly at Haruka.
"Ah! Isn't that Yuuto?"
A voice that shouldn't be heard here came from the crowd.
I pretended not to know this person as I turned away. But this fellow was extremely stubborn and never gave up easily.
"Ah, you're ignoring me on purpose! Alright, you have a strategy, I have one too."
"Hmm...watch out! Ayase Yuuto, Hakujo Academy Year 1 Class 2, during his kindergarten years, had once been......"
"...I get it, I get it, Nobunaga, it's my fault."
Seeing that I surrendered, this childhood friend of mine said childishly, 'That's more like it.'
"But...Nobunaga, what are you doing here?"
"Huh? You just asked a very strange question. As long as it's not a school day, I'll always be here. You of all people should know that this is our sacred land."
"...Right, now that you mention it."
...I guess I do.
"It just so happens that there's an event today! No, to be precise, it started from yesterday...The more surprising thing should be your presence here. You always reject my invitations to come here!"
I don't want to come precisely because you're the one inviting me. To me, the combination of this person and this street was the worst copulation on earth. Particularly during New Years and festival times, it feels like everyone on this street is attending a funeral or something.
This fellow was right, it wasn't surprising at all for him to be here, for it was like seeing fish in the ocean, a natural phenomenon. For where else would Otaku be if not here at Akihabara?
The problem was, I had completely forgotten about shopping with Haruka. Ah, now that I've remembered the reason behind my presence on this street, I have to think of a solution to this situation.
"What's wrong? Yuuto, you don't look well."
"I have a slight headache..."
"That's bad, do you want me to give you a pill for it? Half of the contents of this pill is my kindness."
How could he say something like that to a person with a headache!
"Never mind, Nobunaga, aren't you busy? You don't have to care about me, just go!"
"I'm not busy. The main event has already ended, so I'm free."
"But isn't being together with me really boring? On such a rare Sunday, you should spread out your wings and fly!"
"Yuuto, why do I get the feeling that you're trying to brush me off."
"No, why would I do that..."
The situation was really bad. I have to make this fellow disappear before Haruka comes back or things will get ugly.
"Hmm...Whatever makes you happy! Since my event has finished and I'm so tired, I think I should just go home and sleep."
A sleepy-looking Nobunaga gave a loud yawn, a rare action for someone as healthy as him.
"Because the event started yesterday, I've practically been awake since yesterday. Luckily everything went smoothly at the stall. Hahaha,"
Looks like this guy is really tired.
"Then I'll be going first. Yuuto, see you in school tomorrow!"
Nobunaga waved the paper bag in his right hand as he walked towards the station.
After spending a period of time with Nobunaga.
The main activity of today (in Haruka's opinion) was finally going to be completed, as the scheduled time to buy the PTA drew nearer.
"It's now four forty-eight in the afternoon...It's time for the main activity of the day!"
I followed behind Haruka as we made our way towards our final destination. Because we had completed all our previous objectives successfully, Haruka was in an extremely good mood. Right now, I had two paper bags in my hands, filled to the brim with the spoils of war (all Haruka's), other than the mountain of free coupons, posters and catalogues, there were also manga (the newest issue of <<INNOCENT SMILE>> etc) and a few light novels. Though there weren't a lot of them, due to the fact that all of them were paper products, the two paper bags were extremely heavy.
"Yuuto-san...Are you alright? Maybe I should take one bag."
"No, it's alright, I'm fine."
Her concern came as a relief, but if not to carry things, I don't know what I'm here for today.
"I'm really fine, I'm used to such heavy loads."
Ever since I started primary school, Ruko and Yukari would hire me to carry things for them at a cost of 50 yen per hour (I was forced to take the job).
Especially when it was summer, where I would be panting like crazy in the hot weather while the two of them happily ate ice-cream beside me...Now that I think of it, shouldn't that be classified as child abuse?
Thinking of how I was abused in the past, I naturally felt a tad depressed, while Haruka looked at me worriedly.
"You don't look so good...Umm...Is...Is it because the bags are too heavy?"
"No...I just remembered my cruel past."
"That's not an expression for something else."
A question mark appeared above Haruka's head.
"Ah, it's nothing, let's not talk about me anymore. We should move on! It won't be good if the PTA's sold out."
I mustered all of my strength to lift the bags higher and walked on ahead of Haruka.
I was immediately halted by Haruka.
"Shouldn't it be that way?"
Speaking of which, I don't know where the store is.
"It's this way."
I nodded and followed behind Haruka.
My words actually came through.
Even though I had said it on a whim, I had never expected it to come true.
"Yes, I'm really sorry..."
The bespectacled shop assistant bowed deeply in apology.
Right now, we were in the video game section on the third floor of the large electronics store. The two of us, who managed to reach the store by the scheduled time, only saw the 'out of stock' sign that had been pasted onto the box that had formerly stocked the limited edition silver PTAs.
"The limited edition silver PTAs are extremely popular, such that 70% of our stock were pre-ordered, while the remaining 30% were sold out before lunch."
The shop assistant also told us that the situation in the store today was extremely chaotic, such that if the customers didn't start queuing up yesterday, they wouldn't have been able to get their hands on the limited edition silver PTA.
"So there aren't any ways to get it?"
"All the other chain stores are also out of stock, so even if you were to go to any of our chain stores, you probably won't be able to buy it..."
The shop assistant answered my question seriously. He looked like those giant apes that live in the mountains, but he was probably a nice guy.
All in all, the result was clear.
"We were too naive..."
If we had really wanted the limited edition silver PTA, we should have had been prepared to have started queuing way before the store's opening time. To saunter into the store at 5 in the afternoon was really a grossly uninformed decision.
I looked to my side at Haruka, who stood there like a statue, her eyes devoid of all light.
Though Haruka was usually perfect, and occasionally clumsy, looking at this blank expression of hers, I didn't know what to say to her.
"It's alright, we were just unlucky."
Haruka finally came back to reality, but she had a dead look in her eyes...looks like she suffered a deep psychological wound.
"Let's just leave this place first, since we can't do anything about it."
I wanted to prevent the atmosphere from becoming too awkward.
After answering lifelessly, Haruka walked towards the elevator. But her body started to sway unsteadily halfway to the elevator.
Just as she answered me, Haruka's body suddenly fell forward.
The second before Haruka slammed into the ground, I managed to catch her. Wow! Her waist is so thin, and she smells so nice...No, now's not the time to think about such things,
"Haruka! Are you alright?"
Haruka squeezed her eyes together in my arms.
"Mm, I merely lost my balance..."
It's probably anemia or something similar! Haruka's skin, which was already extremely white, now became even paler...What do I do, should I ask for help from the shop assistants? Or should I call for an ambulance?
"Umm...Yuuto-san, I'm alright. I should feel better after resting for a while."
Haruka shook her head weakly as though she knew what I was thinking about.
"Please don't make this into a big incident, I don't want to cause you any trouble."
...No choice, looks like I should respect Haruka's opinion.
"...I get it, either way, we should leave this store and find some place to rest...Please endure this for a while."
I carried Haruka, whose eyeballs rolled into the back of her head, but this action was misunderstood as the people around us started to cheer and whistle, leading me to run out of the store awkwardly.
...Whether it was carrying a princess in my arms, or being carried (of course I don't want to be carried like that), this was the first time that I've experienced something like this.
Looking for a place to rest, I ended up in a small park.
I really carried Haruka in my arms while running. Though Haruka wasn't heavy (on the contrary, she was as light as a feather), since the club that I joined in school was the 'go-home club', it was still extremely tiring for the me who never exercises. God, I'm getting older now...Perhaps it's time to consider whether to buy the products from the fourth store. The kind of products that I'm talking about are the products that foreigners advertise to the people in front of the televisions in the wee hours of the morning, products like weird-looking all-enabling indoor track machines - "Hey! Nancy! I have something really nice to give you today!" "Wow! Bill, what's that?" That kind of product. This product can be paid for in installments, only 12800 Yen including taxes...ah, that's just my impression of such advertisements!
Haruka probably fell asleep as I was carrying her, and she was sleeping as soundly as Sleeping Beauty. I placed her lightly on the park bench, and finally relaxed.
--She really did faint.
She really did wish to buy the limited edition silver PTA, and as all her expectations were dashed in that one moment, it was just like what people say, that the higher the expectations, the greater the fall.
Haruka, who was now lying on the bench, was breathing regularly again.
If she still doesn't wake up after a while more, maybe I should seriously consider whether I should call an ambulance. Although I didn't want to blow up the incident either, Haruka's condition was the top priority.
If I were to call an ambulance, should I use my cellphone, or use one of the public phones that are now as rare as a fossil? I mulled over the two choices as I turned to look at Haruka once more...
Haruka had already woken up.
Coincidentally, our eyes met.
...This was rather awkward.
"Ah, are you feeling better now?"
Haruka nodded, looking a little nervous.
"Thanks to you, I'm feeling much better now, I think it's probably because I wasn't able to sleep properly yesterday night."
"Wasn't able to sleep properly?"
"...About that...Yes, I was really looking forward to today, so I couldn't bear to close my eyes, just like the night before I'm about to go on a trip..."
We lapsed into silence.
It might have been less awkward if we shifted our gazes away from each other, but for some reason, we were unable to do that. My eyes just couldn't bear to move away from Haruka's beautiful features, her hair that was slightly wet from sweat, her lightly blushing cheeks, and her small, cute cherry lips. But, why was Haruka also staring unblinkingly at me?
I felt that my heart was beating furiously, my throat was parched, and even my breathing became rough and irregular. It can't be...are these the symptoms of cardiac arrest?...No, it can't be, I don't have any history of heart problems, and my body should be perfectly healthy (even though my level of fitness is around that of a sixty year-old grandfather), and my meat intake was far lesser than that of the American Leopard, so that should count in my favor.
But...Why...Just what is happening?
This kind of charged atmosphere didn't change and just like in the last moments before an engine completely goes out, it will be working over-capacity, resulting in overheating.
I felt that if this were to continue for another 10 seconds, I could very well depart from this world. Just at that moment, a strange sound came from my pocket, breaking the tension.
The charged atmosphere was broken.
<<The Ride Of The Valkyries>>
This was a tune from the movie <<Apocalypse Now>>, composed by Wagner, a tune with an extremely frightening rhythm. This wasn't a ring tone, but a message incoming tone...Only one person would select this tune as the message incoming tone.
Just as I expected, three simple words appeared on the LCD screen of my cellphone: Message from Sister.
"Feel like eating curry tonight. Go and buy the ingredients quickly, be back before seven!"
...It wasn't any of my business whether she liked curry or not, but she's already twenty-three, and not only can she not cook, but she even pushes all the household chores to her younger brother (me)! What kind of woman is she, what kind of sister is she! And she even wants me to be back home before seven! I really have a lot of complain about, but only this time...Perhaps I should squeeze out some tears of gratitude for this timely message.
"Yes, from my sister."
All thanks to the timely appearance of the message, the tense atmosphere was completely broken down.
"You have a sister?"
"Hmm? Haven't I told you about her before? She's seven years older than me..."
"Is...Is that so..."
But this could only break the silence for a while, Haruka's cheeks were still flaming red, and I've also accidentally made a weird action...What should I say now?
Anyway, I have to divert the topic somehow.
"Yes, it's like that. Ah, right. Haruka, are you thirsty? I'll go get us some drinks, so just sit here and wait for me alright."
"Ah, alright. Then..."
"I'll be right back."
I let Haruka, who seemed to have something to say, sit on the bench before making myself scarce. Because if I continued to stay with Haruka, I felt that the atmosphere would become extremely awkward.
I bought red tea and coffee at a nearby vending machine, taking the opportunity to regulate my breathing and to calm myself down. I don't know what's happening, but I must first let my heart slow down to its normal rhythm. I breathed in and out deeply five times in a row (from an objective perspective, I'm really a strange person), finally managing to get my heartbeat back to an acceptably normal level. Whew, I think I'll be able to relax for now. I can't make Haruka wait for long, so I should go back now.
I ran back to Haruka.
"Here, this is for you. Do you mind red tea?"
"Mm, thank you. I like red tea very much."
I passed her the can of red tea that had the logo of a lemon of it. As Haruka brought it up to her mouth with a smile,
"Mm, it has a really unique taste, this kind...may taste nicer."
This wasn't anything special, just a can of lemon red tea that could be bought anywhere.
"This is my first time drinking canned red tea."
...So that was why. In school, I've really never seen Haruka drinking canned or packet drinks before as she always brought her own teacup and thermos.
Looking at Haruka gulping down the red tea, I also started to sip from my can of coffee. A crow that was above me kept making melancholic cries, perhaps it had seven children waiting for it to come home in the mountains!
"About just now...I'm really sorry."
Under the setting sun, Haruka softly apologized.
"Fainting in front of so many people...I must have given Yuuto-san quite a bit of trouble, right?"
"Ah, it wasn't much!"
Though the looks that were cast on me from all directions were indeed rather painful when I was carrying the sleeping beauty in my arms, this wasn't Haruka's fault, and I did get something out of it.
"...I'm really very sorry. Yuuto-san specially made time to go shopping with me, but in the end..."
Haruka lowered her head.
"...I'm really useless. Because of my oversight, all the silver PTAs were sold out. Not only was I not able to complete the main objective of today's shopping trip, I also got Yuuto-san into quite a bit of trouble...I'm really really useless, as useless as 'Useless Girl Megu-chan'. If I had known this was going to happen, we shouldn't have come at all. Yuuto-san, you must be thinking the same thing right..."
Haruka gripped the metal can tightly as she took a deep breath. I could understand that Haruka was extremely depressed, but...she doesn't have to put herself down like this. And anyway, who's Megu-chan?
And also, there was a huge flaw in Haruka's logic.
"Wait a minute. It might have been due to your oversight that we weren't able to get the limited edition game console, and we do feel sad about not being able to get it, but...I didn't force myself to go on this shopping trip with you, I accepted your invitation because I wanted to go shopping with you.
That's the assumption that you've made which I want to challenge."
"Anyway...I enjoyed myself immensely today, I saw a lot of new things that I've never seen before (For example, cat-ear maids, cat-ear maids, and cat-ear maids), which is why I cannot agree with you when you say that we shouldn't have come in the first place if we had known that we'll be unable to buy the silver PTA. On the contrary, I feel that it is an honor for me to be able to accompany you on this trip."
This were my true feelings on the matter.
Haruka started sobbing with her head leaned to one side.
"Sob...Thank you...Thank you very much. I...I also had a lot of fun today, this is the first time that I've gone shopping with someone...I'm really really happy today, though I'm sad at not being able to get the PTA, I'm really really sorry, and...and..."
"Ah, don't cry."
Though Haruka agreed to not cry, her sobs only got louder and louder. I had an overpowering urge to offer her my handkerchief...but I realized that my handkerchief wasn't of good quality enough to be offered to another person, so I could only dig out a packet of tissue that was being handed out on the street (as for the company that was giving out tissues, it's a certain financial corporation whose president had recently been arrested).
Looking at Haruka using both the mass-produced cheap tissues together with higher quality silk tissues to wipe her tears was rather unbelievable.
It took ten minutes for Haruka to stop crying.
"We should get going..."
"...Right, it's getting late."
Haruka, who finally stopped crying, stood up from the bench with a smile on her face.
"But...I still feel depressed over the fact that we weren't able to get the silver PTA."
"We could go and ask the other stores whether they still have the silver PTA in stock the next time we have a day off."
Upon hearing my words, Haruka gave a shocked expression.
"Of course. Haven't I already said I also had a lot of fun today, and I also wish to be able to go shopping with you?"
"Ah, I'm so happy!"
Haruka skipped forward, while in front of her was---
"Haruka! In front of you!"
It was too late.
Bang. After that huge noise,
...Haruka had knocked into a pole, which must have been really painful. Should this be classified as being an airhead? Or just plain clumsiness? But after looking at Haruka, I couldn't help but smile slightly.
"...Yuuto-san, it's mean to laugh at other people!"
"Hmm? I'm not laughing."
"Yes you are! You're laughing! And you're laughing really happily!"
Haruka smashed her small fists into my chest, of course, it wasn't painful at all.
"Yes, yes, it's all my fault."
"...I can't feel your sincerity."
"Really, I'm being really sincere over here."
What to do? I looked around me, hoping to find a way to get out of this tight corner, when I suddenly saw a rectangular shaped machine. That's it, that's the thing.
"Why don't we try that again as the last activity of the day? My treat."
I pointed to the capsule vending machine that Haruka had used during the day, and our current position was in the park right behind that store.
Haruka's indignant expression immediately changed to an excited one.
I took out a hundred-yen coin and passed it to Haruka, who promptly threw it into the coin slot and turned the handle, causing a round capsule to roll out.
As she opened the capsule, Haruka suddenly shouted loudly.
"This is the one! This...This is...the 'Shy shy pose'."
Huh? What? Is she speaking Japanese?
"This is the favorite pose of the female protagonist of the <<Shy Triangle>> Aki-chan. Look, it's really cute isn't it?"
Resting in the palm of Haruka's hand was the figurine of a blue-haired girl who was lightly grabbing onto the hem of her skirt with her fingers. I see, this pose is called the 'Shy shy pose L'. For some reason, this pose seems strangely familiar?
"I'm going to treat it like a treasure!"
Haruka smiled happily as she hugged the figurine.
"...Treat this like a treasure?"
She was planning to treat this figurine with a strange-looking pose like a treasure? Could it be that Haruka likes this figurine more than the piano-playing one?
"This pose is very cute, so I really like it, and..."
Haruka blushed as she said...
"And...this is something that Yuuto-san bought for me. So it's extremely valuable, a most important piece of treasure to me."
She actually said something like that.
......Now this was a predicament.
She was so serious and was blushing so furiously that I didn't know how to answer her, so before I could figure out my answer, my face was burning as I didn't dare to look straight at Haruka.
The cold wind of the sunset blew onto my face, and I took the respite given by the cold air blowing onto my burning face (about three minutes) to finally come up with an answer.
"...Please take good care of it."
......To be honest, I don't know if that was a good enough answer, but at least I gave an answer.
My first shopping trip with Haruka ended like this.
On a side note, this was something that I heard from Nobunaga after the shopping trip, that the figurine with the strange pose seemed to be an extremely rare item, with only fifty of them in existence, an extremely valuable product...I really don't know how this society works sometimes...
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