Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai!:Volume 3 Chapter 3
 Chapter 3 – Because We’re a Family?
A week passed in the blink of an eye.
When November was almost ending, my reports were still unfinished.
I drank some tea in the living room, and couldn’t help but sigh when I thought of that.
Before my eyes, there was a solo concert of consolation for me.
“Bun~ny, bun~ny, ju~mp ju~mp ♪”
While holding her favorite bunny doll, Hina sang her ‘Bunny Jump Song’ that was her favorite as well.
It was a theme song that had both original lyrics and rhythm.
“Bunny bunny~ Punch!”
All of a sudden, the baby bunny’s paw pressed onto my forehead.
“What is it……?”
“Ngh, Oi-tan is so stwong! Bunny is in danger! Earh is in danger!”
It seemed like I was being set up as some sort of evil monster, while the baby bunny was a defender of justice.
“Fuhahaha! Do you think you can defeat me with such tiny power?”
If I don’t play along, I can’t be counted as a man…… No, an uncle.
I opened my arms wide, making an expression like that of a baddie.
“Ngh~ I won’t let go of you! Oi-tan demon!”
“Very well, give me all you have! I shall show you my power!”
Being given a name that was thought of by a child, I immediately plunged into the role of an antagonist.
I used all my power, making all sorts of poses.
“Ahahaha! Oi-tan is funny!”
“Ehhhh!? Why are you not playing your role right now!? I’d feel very embarrassed like this, you know!?”
“Now! Take that!”
Just when I got careless, I was attacked with a kick.
And that time, it wasn’t from the bunny doll, but from Hina herself.
“Isn’t that too despicable, Hina?”
“Oi-tan is big, so it doesn’t matter!”
For some reason, her words seemed quite reasonable.
“Ouch! Don’t kick my shin! It really hurts!”
“Hahaha…… So your weakness is here!”
“Why you~…… Then take this!”
I did a light karate chop on the head of Hina’s coveted bunny doll that she was holding.
“Ahhh~! That’s against the rules! You can’t bully Mr. Bunny!”
“It’s so hard to grasp. Well then, what should Oi-tan do?”
“Erm, erm, bunny will fly over after this, and Oi-tan has to be defeated after crying out loud!”
“Well isn’t the situation changing quickly…… Okay! I understand now! Wahahaha! Give me all you have!”
I tried to play out the role of the baddie according to Hina’s script. It really felt somewhat embarrassing.
“I’m coming! Hah!”
The bunny doll in Hina’s hands spun and rushed towards me.
Using a full body assault as the final killer technique does have the feel of an ending.
After my abdomen was hit with the secret technique of the baby bunny in Hina’s hands, I exaggeratedly bent my back and fell backwards.
“Guwaa! I’m finished!”
Even I felt that I played the role quite well. I have to say, it was a high level performance that even took into account the cushion behind me. After that, I saw Hina’s Mr. Bunny standing on my abdomen, making a victory pose.
“Wahaha! Now the world is mine!”
“Ehhhh!? So the bunny is the bad one!?”
What an unexpected twist, the creativity of a toddler really can’t be looked down on……
However, the true battle had yet to occur, and it wasn’t comparable with the Mr. Bunny demon king.
“Let me make it!”
The battlefield was the kitchen.
Sora-chan and I were glaring at each other for almost thirty minutes.
“Didn’t I say that it would be fine if I make it!”
Compared to I, who was holding a carrot in one hand and a paring knife in another, Sora-chan was holding a rolling pin and a mixer. Despite the overwhelming difference in attack strength, that part could still be remedied with the wisdom and courage of an elder. Both Sora-chan and I formed an unyielding stance.
“The one on duty today is me, which means, I have the right to make it!”
“Onii-chan, you still have a lot of reports to finish! You don’t have time anymore, so don’t meddle in things over here!”
And of course, I had already mentally prepared myself for this.
I am not planning to make the dumb mistake of taking care of both my school and my work, but neglecting my job as a father for the second time.
“I must make the dinner today no matter what!”
“No! Since I can use the precious kitchen for a long time in the holidays, I definitely wouldn’t yield!”
Our gazes clashed, creating sparks in the air.
From the time when I first knew Sora-chan, it seemed like we never clashed so vigorously before.
However, I definitely wouldn’t yield no matter what.
Because, for Hina’s Christmas bento, I, as her Papa, must definitely take on the responsibility of cooking it myself.
It all started when we were eating dinner the previous night.
I was wondering if I heard wrong, so I spoke to reaffirm it.
When I just finished speaking, Hina, whose mouth was full of boiled egg, answered like that.
“Um…… Hina, why don’t you speak after you finish eating?”
Following my instructions, Hina explained to me after swallowing her boiled egg:
“The kindygarten teacher said, on Chrismas, she’ll give Hina a cake thi~s big!”
It felt like she was somewhat off-topic.
After Hina finished, Sora-chan took out an information letter and continued the explanation.
“On the day of Christmas, it seems like the kindergarten is going to hold a small party.”
“Oh, I see. So does that mean that the principal will treat everyone to cake?”
“Yes. It seems like there will be a movie showing and performances as well, so they’re asking the parents to attend together. Apart from that, because of the event, they’re not providing food that day, so it seems like we have to bring bento ourselves.”
“Is that so……”
Since we can see Hina performing, there’s no reason for us not to go.
However, Christmas, huh?
It’s already near Christmas now, time really flies.
“Okay! Hina, Oi-tan will go!”
“Hina can play together with Oi-tan then!”
“Besides, I’ll prepare a super luxurious bento, so look forward to it.”
“Wa! Bento! Then, then! Hina wants a panda one!”
“Mnn! Leave it to Oi-tan! I’ll definitely make an extremely sumptuous one!”
I forcefully pounded on my chest in affirmation. I had already predicted that such a thing would happen, so I bought ‘Ways to Make Character Bentos’ some time before this. Although bragging isn’t good, I’m actually quite confident with the nimbleness of my crafts.
Then allow me to make a top level character bento that would make all of the people at the kindergarten jealous!
“Since we’ve already decided, then I’ll start to prepare from tomorr……”
“Wait a minute, Onii-chan.”
Just at that moment, Sora-chan interjected.
“I’m making it.”
“Hina’s bento. Let me make it!”
For some reason, Sora-chan looked rather fierce and glared at me while saying so.
“Wait a sec, Sora-chan, you still have your clubs……”
“That doesn’t matter. I can take care of both of them.”
“Onee-chan, is that really fine? Isn’t the end of semester test coming soon?”
Miu-chan picked the perfect time to speak.
“I can take care of that as well!”
Sora-chan’s tone turned even harsher. That time, of course, I had no idea that Sora-chan’s determination got firmer because of her chat with Shiori-chan, so her unexpected response caused me to be rather harried.
“Onii-chan, don’t you have reports to finish as well!”
She hit a sore spot. Even though most of them had already been finished, there was only a few more days until the winter break.
By the way, the end of semester test would be waiting for me after the end of the winter break. If my results weren’t good enough, I would still face the crisis of repeating the grade. However, I still wanted to do all the housework that I could, and I couldn’t increase Sora-chan’s burdens as well.
“In any case, I’m going to make Hina’s bento. Sora-chan, you should just focus on your school work and your club.”
“What do you mean by in any case! That’s too overbearing!”
Sora-chan did not have any intention of yielding at all, so she and I started to glare at each other.
Miu-chan heaved a large sigh.
Just like that, we did not come to an agreement……. And it went on right until now.
The two warriors of the kitchen were still glaring at each other.
“Onii-chan, why aren’t you finishing your reports in your room!?”
“You should go to your club instead!”
“What a pity! It’s Sunday today!”
“There should be club practices on Sunday or something like that as well!”
The level of our debate dropped lower and lower.
“Seriously, you’re still quarrelling?”
Miu-chan, who just finished drying the clothes, looked at us in helplessness.
“Miu-chan, help me talk to her about this as well. Children should listen to adults instead.”
“Onii-chan, aren’t you still a student as well? If so, you’re the same as us!”
“C- College students are only a step away from being an adult, so that doesn’t count!”
In the end, we started a meaningless debate yet again, while Miu-chan just shrugged in helplessness at a side.
Just at that moment……
“Uuu~…… Oi-tan and Nee-tan, you can’t argue!”
It was Hina.
While tightly hugging her bunny doll, she wore an expression as though she was going to cry at any moment.
“L- Listen to Onee-chan, Hina, we’re not arguing……”
“That’s right, that’s right. We’re just in an overly hot discussion.”
Even though we hastily consoled her, it was already too late.
Hina started to cry like a broken dam.
“Ahh~ Seriously, you made her cry.”
“W- What should we do now? Miu-chan~”
“We didn’t want this……”
Seeing us in helplessness, Miu-chan couldn’t stand it and squatted before Hina.
“Hina, Onee-chan and Oji-san aren’t arguing at all.”
“Mnn, Onee-chan never lied to you before, right?”
After that, Hina sniffled loudly.
“So don’t cry anymore, okay? That’s right, do you want to go out for a walk with Miu Nee-chan?”
“For a walk?”
“We’re going to the shopping center near the station to play.”
It seemed like Hina’s mood had already turned for the better.
Not only that, she urged Miu-chan to set out quicker as well.
“That’s why…… Oji-san~”
The hand that Miu-chan extended to me definitely had a certain meaning.
I fished out three one thousand yen notes from my wallet and handed it to Miu-chan.
“Well then, we’re going out~ Make up before we’re back now~”
Miu-chan brought Hina out directly.
We, who lost our battle spirits in an instant, glanced at each other, and our faces reddened in embarrassment.
We could only feel regret for making Hina cry, and reflected on our childish behavior.
However, if I yielded just like that, Sora-chan would definitely force herself to make the bento for Hina. She, who was bad at cooking in the first place, would use up a long time for the preparations.
If I let go just like that, that would mean that I lost.
Just when I was thinking of a good reason to convince Sora-chan, she spoke in a low voice before me:
“Onii-chan…… What are you planning to do?”
“Uuu…… W- Well…… Because Hina likes hamburger steak, I’m planning to make a hamburger steak bento modeled on a panda.
“I’m thinking of using home made noodles to make the spaghetti that Hina likes so much……”
…… As I had expected, Sora-chan was indeed planning to make a dish that requires additional energy, even though she wasn’t that good at cooking. Speaking of which, my hamburger steak was basically frozen food as well, while the character bento would be made in accordance to the instructions in the book……
Just at that moment, I recalled a certain thing.
The small container in the depths of the fridge.
The container that stored tomato sauce from last summer.
“…… Sora-chan, let me tell you……”
I decided to inform Sora-chan of that matter. I just felt that I should do that.
Even in Ikebukuro, where a large amount of huge electronic stores and supermarkets are built, which gives people the impression of a shopping city, large residential areas can still be seen if one walks for a bit.
Between the large condominiums that were built in times of better economy, scattered buildings could still be seen occasionally. Despite the fact that most of the residents there were people who migrated there when the station was built, only that area still had residents that stayed there when Ikebukuro was still a farming village.
The Takanashi family can be classified as the latter. They owned a building at the top level road in Ikebukuro, and had once owned numerous lands nearby, which means that they were once what we call landlords. Even so, that was a thing of the past.
Currently, only the land where the house about fifteen minutes from the station on foot, was their remaining property.
Even so, the busy district was within walking distance from their house. To children in primary school, it was an environment that anyone would be envious of, and thus Miu was the target of admiration of her classmates. To Miu herself, just like her long, blonde hair, it was something that she secretly felt proud of in her heart. If she had any complaints, it would probably be the slope before the entrance of her house.
Walking down the slope when they were going out would not be an issue, but when they were going home with their hands full, it would be quite a headache. However, even when it’s a slope like that, it was not a problem for a three year old toddler at all.
“Ice cream~ Ice cream~! Want to eat ice cream~! Why? Don’t know~”
While holding in a laugh, Miu looked at the silhouette of her sister’s back as she continued to dance.
From the moment that Hina walked out of the house, she was in quite an excited state, and of course, both the lyrics and the melody were a Hina original.
As singing was a sign that her sister was happy, her idea to bring Hina out was correct and it made Miu heave a sigh of relief in her heart. As for the squabbling duo, Miu thought that it would be fine just to leave them be.
Despite the fact that Yuuta looked somewhat unreliable, he still tried hard to be a responsible guardian. As for her sister, she just couldn’t express her feelings honestly. Anyway, they would probably be in despair at home because they made Hina cry.
“Hina, do you still want ice cream even though it’s so cold?”
“Hina isn’t cold! No problem! Let’s eat a biiii~g ice cream at the rooftop of the supermarket! The ones that come out when we twist it!”
After saying that, Hina happily raised her chest.
Because of the determination of her cute little sister, the big sister did not have any reason for not going along with her.
“But Hina, that’s not ice cream, but soft cream.”
“Soft creem? That isn’t cold?”
“Not really, it’s actually quite cold, but……”
Explaining the difference between ice cream and soft cream wasn’t easy, and in any case, eating ice cream while being exposed to the cold wind of the winter on the rooftop was an enormous challenge for Miu.
Sora-chan and I took out the container from the fridge.
After that, we carefully opened the lid.
“Ah…… It’s probably unusable now.”
Although it was kept in the fridge, a few months had already passed.
The color of its contents had already changed, and the oil had already separated from it, so it didn’t look like it was edible at all.
“But…… This was made by Yuri-san, right?”
Sora-chan looked at the container with a convoluted expression on her face.
“…… The thing that can make Hina the happiest would definitely be Yuri-san’s cooking.”
That’s right. The fact that the tomato sauce would appear at such a time felt like it was a present left by Nee-san. However, would defrosting this to eat really be fine?
Even though there was a chance for it to be the best Christmas present……
“Not only was Yuri-san good at making hamburger steak, her skills of making tomato sauce was excellent as well.”
“Mnn…… But when we lived together, I almost never helped out at all, so I don’t know how to make it. When I cooked by myself, I just cooked stuff that would be done just by frying them.”
“Me too…… To be precise, Yuri-san was afraid that it would be dangerous for me to cook, so she didn’t let me cook at all……”
If so, Sora-chan was probably quite clumsy when she cooked before this as well. People really can’t be judged by their looks.
To dissolve the heavy atmosphere, I decided to voice out a constructive suggestion.
“Let’s cut out a small piece to defrost and try its flavor. It might still be edible.”
With our quarrel forgotten, we came to a consensus. Perhaps we could still have a chance to taste Nee-san’s cooking after such a long time.
There was a sea of people before the west exit of the Ikebukuro station in the holidays.
There were parents leading their children, lovers, and even foreigners. Seeing such a scene would make people understand why it was the second most crowded station in Tokyo.
“You definitely can’t let go.”
Naturally, there is no reason why a young beauty with blonde hair holding the hand of a female toddler wouldn’t attract the gazes of the crowd.
Many of the pedestrians that passed by turned around for a second look. As Miu had long gotten used to such gazes, she wouldn’t particularly mind the gazes, while Hina hadn’t yet reached the age of minding the gazes of other people.
Besides, Miu was very clear of the fact that having striking features would allow her to keep a distance with other people instead, not to mention that a three year old girl was tagging along as well. With common sense, the thought that their parents or the guardian was nearby would arise in people’s hearts.
However, there are people without common sense as well.
“Can I take some of your time?”
The person who approached them with a broad smile was a suited man that was rather plump. Seeing his flashy tie and his long hair that had on a lot of hair wax, even Miu could see that he was a person with a suspicious occupation.
“I’m working in the showbiz.”
Without further ado, he handed Miu his card.
“I’m not interested in such a thing.”
While Miu refused with a radiant smile.
However, the suited man still persisted, following Miu wherever she went and pleaded repeatedly.
“I’m really not a suspicious person! Just listen to me for a bit! I’ll treat you to something at the coffee shop over there! Ah, of course, I’ll treat this child as well, okay?”
Although it was not the first time Miu met a star scout, one who was persistent to this extent was quite rare.
“No, I’d be in trouble.”
“Then, then, can you introduce me to your parents! You can definitely become an idol!”
Even though ignorance is bliss, this insensitive man still touched on a topic that Miu was sensitive of, while Hina hid behind Miu with a scared expression as well. It wouldn’t matter if she was alone, but she even dared to scare Hina, absolutely unforgivable, let’s just scream— Just when Miu decided on that and was breathing in……
A boy stood between the man and the girls, as though he wanted to protect Miu and Hina.
The person that appeared before her eyes was the one that Miu once saw.
He was Sora’s classmate, and once had visited her sister as well.
His name is…… Miu couldn’t remember.
“You’re scaring the kid!”
Although the words weren’t too loud, it could be heard exceptionally clear. The boy completely ignored the difference between the height of an adult and a middle-schooler, unblinkingly glaring at the man.
Even though his features still had a trace of youth, the boy’s attitude was rather firm, and the imposing manner almost covered the opposing party as well.
“W- What do you mean by that?”
“She already refused, so just give up already!”
This time, the boy spoke in a rather loud voice, causing the people nearby to unconsciously stop their footsteps, turning around to look at them.
The holiday crowd stopped in an instant at that small place. Probably because he was afraid of other people’s notice, the fat man wailed and ran away in a hurry.
“Oi! Are you okay?”
“T- Thank you……”
“Don’t worry about it. Isn’t helping people out when they’re in trouble the right thing to do?”
Daiki rubbed the bottom of his nose triumphantly, while a bespectacled good-looking teen walked over from behind him.
“Daiki, though nothing happened this time, don’t take action without checking on the situation next time. If they’re actually just lovers or parent and child in an argument, what are you planning to do?”
“If so…… Just apologize!”
“It’s just because of that that I……”
After she heard their conversation, Miu finally remembered the name of the boy.
“That’s right…… You’re Maeshima-san, right?”
“Eh? D- Do you know me!? S- Speaking of which, it seems like I saw you before as well…… Where was it?”
It was Daiki’s turn to be surprised. As Miu was never forgotten by anyone, it was a refreshing change for her. Actually forgetting her blonde hair, this person must be a complete airhead.
“Ah…… You’re Takanashi-san’s……”
Just at that moment, the bespectacled boy seemed to have recognized Miu.
“Shuuji, do you know her?”
“What are you talking about? Isn’t she Takanashi-san’s younger sister?”
“…… What!? W- When you mention is…… She does seem to have a blonde sister.”
Daiki suddenly got flustered and remembered.
“Seriously, there’s just Takanashi-san in your eyes.”
“S- Shut up! Shuuji!”
Even Miu could tell that the Takanashi-san that they spoke of was Sora.
“Nee-tan, who is this big brother? A bad person?”
Hina, who noticed that that she did not need to be scared anymore, poked her head out of Miu’s back and asked.
“Ah! It’s the Nii-tan who once carried Hina!”
Hina waved with a smile on her face, while Daiki seemed to have remembered Hina, with an expression of realization on his face.
“…… Um…… Thank you for helping us, Maeshima-san.”
“Ah! It’s nothing, really! Haha! Erm…… Y- Your sister always helped……”
In an instant, Daiki completely froze, and started to sweat bullets.
After all, the last time that they met was rather awkward. That time, Daiki was being scolded angrily by Sora, causing her to collapse of exhaustion. When Daiki was spacing out, he met Miu and Hina who just returned, and they went to the hospital together after that.
“I- It’s nothing, it’s great that I can be of help…… W- We were just buying stuff that we need for the Christmas concert, so…… S- See you later!”
Just when Daiki was at a loss of words and was planning to slip away……
The sleeve of his shirt was grabbed by Miu.
“I- Is there anything wrong?”
Facing Daiki, who cautiously turned around to ask, Miu showed him a radiant smile.
“You just mentioned a Christmas concert…… Right? Please elaborate for a bit.”
Facing the striking beauty who was the younger sister of his crush at the same time, Daiki couldn’t go against the smile before his eyes at all.
I never once before felt that the defrosting function of the microwave was slow like it is right now.
The kitchen in the Takanashi residence started to be filled with the smell of smoked tomatoes.
“Is it still okay?”
“…… I don’t know either.”
Facing Sora-chan’s question, I didn’t know what to answer at all.
The tomato sauce that was taken out of the microwave was completely black, and it didn’t smell that good either.
But even so……
Sora-chan and I mustered some courage, picked up a spoon and looked at each other.
“Have you prepared yourself, Onii-chan?”
“Nnn, anytime would be fine.”
At the same time the conversation ended, we scooped up some tomato sauce and fed it into our mouths.
On the instant when we sent the tomato sauce into our mouths with our eyes tightly closed…… We felt the fragrance of the tomatoes……
Even though that caused us to be able to swallow the tomato sauce naturally, what occurred next was just as you can expect.
As expected, it didn’t feel good at all. When I thought about it, there was a time when the house wasn’t taken care of by anyone at all, so after this thing was defrosted once, it was just kept in a corner of the fridge, and probably nobody noticed when we were tidying up as well.
This taste probably means that it had already spoiled. Thinking that Hina and Miu-chan hadn’t found out about such a thing made me heave a sigh of relief.
“S- Sora-chan, it doesn’t seem to be okay.”
“Nnn, nnn, seems so……”
Sora-chan seemed to be slightly wiser than I, and she hastily spat out the tomato sauce that she hadn’t swallowed yet on a piece of tissue.
“My apologies, allow me to use the restroom for a moment.”
Just at that moment, I noticed the changes in my abdomen, and decided to succumb to the impulse of wanting to expel the foreign substances from my body.
However, Sora-chan grabbed my shirt, cold sweat on her face as well.
“Onii-chan…… Me too……”
“I- If so, then you go first. I’ll use it after yo……”
“I- I- I- Idiot! Idiot Onii-chan! Go to a restroom at a convenience store!”
After getting a scolding from the red-faced Sora-chan, I rushed towards a convenience store while hugging my stomach.
The rooftop of the supermarket was more crowded than Miu had expected.
Even if it’s the weekend, you don’t need to come up to the rooftop just for the cold wind…… Though Miu had such a thought, the thoughts of the common man were really hard to grasp.
“There are more people here than expected.”
The person that was her sister’s classmate seemed to have the same thoughts as Miu, and he said while adjusting his glasses.
“Oi! It’ll drop all over the floor if you eat like this! Ahh! See! You’re getting it on your whole hand!”
After that, sounds of a commotion could be heard from the side as the person who spoke was busy dealing with the three year old toddler.
“Ah! Seriously! Give me the ice cream first! You hurry up and clean up your hand!”
“No! The ice cream is Hina’s!”
“I’m not even snatching it from you!”
“No! Idiot Daiki!”
“Don’t call me an idiot! And also, don’t call my name directly!”
Miu looked at her little sister whose lips were smeared with ice cream and her elder sister’s classmate who was busy taking care of Hina.
It was somewhat a surprise for Miu, as Hina was unexpectedly affectionate to Daiki.
It was even more unexpected for her that Daiki, whom she thought was a rough person who doesn’t think before he talks, was so good at taking care of other people.
“Are you surprised?”
Shuuji suddenly spoke at that moment.
“Daiki has a lot of siblings at home, and since that guy is the eldest son, he has to take care of his younger brothers. Anyway, it’s because of this that he’s so good at handling children.”
So that’s why. Even though she didn’t particularly request for his help, he was concerned about Hina. When the food that Hina was eating dropped out, he would immediately take out his handkerchief or a tissue to wipe it clean for Hina. So it’s because of this. Daiki didn’t even look like the type of person who would keep handkerchiefs by his side. That made Miu reconsider her opinion about him.
When she thought about it, after accepting his help, she even allowed him to treat them to ice cream, so it might be slightly too much.
“Hina, is it good?”
“Well then, remember to say thank you to the onii-chan that treated you to it.”
“Daiki! Tank you!”
“Don’t mention it. And also, I’m telling you not to call me by my name!”
Although his tone was somewhat rough, he was not angry. It seemed like Hina liked Daiki quite a lot as well, and unhesitatingly asking him to play with her.
“That’s right, what kind of activity is the Christmas performance that you spoke of?”
Miu asked Shuuji while watching Hina play happily with Daiki. Shuuji, whose steady attitude was completely different from Daiki’s personality, gave a faintly wry smile.
“Hmm, if Takanashi-san didn’t tell you about this, I’m not sure if I should tell you about this as well.”
Despite the fact that he started with those words, Shuuji still roughly explained about the Christmas concert of the Choir Club, and the fact that Sora was given a solo part.
“Eh! Though there’s something so interesting, Onee-chan never told us about this at all!”
“She’s probably shy. Even though our club president said that she wouldn’t be nervous if only her family members would go, I think the situation will be the exact opposite of that. Although Buchou isn’t bad, she’s a bit eccentric.”
Shuuji explained with a wry smile, but Miu imagined Sora’s face while bearing the attitude of having some reservations about it.
Perhaps the club president was right. After all, Sora has an uchibenkei personality of being ‘a lion at home, a mouse abroad’, and she does seem to be stronger when being with her family as well.
It is unknown whether this is because of her responsibility as the eldest sister or the belief that she is loved by her family.
“However, since Takanashi didn’t tell this to her family, if she knows that we’re the ones that spoke of this, wouldn’t she be angry? I- If so, I’ll be somewhat troubled.”
Daiki, who was playing with Hina at a side, spoke in a sincere manner after hearing the two’s discussion.
“Hmm~ That may be so.”
The sharp Miu had already perceived the fact that Daiki had a crush on Sora from their previous conversations.
However, just because Miu understood that Sora already had someone in her heart, Sora could only smile wryly when speaking of the person called Daiki.
If Miu told Daiki that Sora and Yuuta were having fun in the kitchen, he would probably have a severe blow.
Even so, Miu did not plan to allow the person who saved her to suffer any blow, so she didn’t mention it.
Instead, Miu spoke with a smile:
“Well then, I’ll keep it a secret, so…… Are you willing to accompany us for shopping after this?”
“That’s fine! Daiki, let’s go!”
Facing the girl whose appearance rivals that of an idol and the smile of an adorable toddler, the two middle school boys weren’t in any place to resist at all.
Sora-chan looked quite gaunt.
Sora-chan and I had used up all of our energy, and were lying on the sofa in exhaustion.
A period of time had passed since the commotion of the tomato sauce.
Although the toilet war ended in a short time, our battle returned to its original point after that.
The tomato sauce that Nee-san made had already spoiled, but we, who couldn’t bear to throw it away, changed the date to a piece of sticker with ‘Do Not Eat’ written on it, and placed the container back in the fridge. In any case, let’s keep it there as a protective talisman.
And the plan of using the sauce that Nee-san left to make dishes came to failure just like that.
After that, Sora-chan and I started our battle yet again.
Even though we decided to ‘try making it by ourselves’—
The character bento that I made didn’t look like a panda at all, and looked like a modernistic piece of art made by a drunk, while Sora-chan’s self-made noodles couldn’t be successfully made into noodles no matter what she did, and even the trial of cooperation ended in failure—
In the end, just saying ‘Let me do it!’ just couldn’t fill up a lunch box container at all.
The bento container for children that was a mere ten cubic centimeters was actually vast like the universe, causing our heads to spin spectacularly.
“Other people…… Have to do this every day?”
Sora-chan’s words were the same as I thought.
The experiences these few months made me think that I learnt quite a lot, however…… Using the hamburger steak as an example, even though Sora-chan and I learnt how to make it, it doesn’t appear to be good as well.
Although we can learn how to cook vegetables and dishes that can be completed by cutting, frying and stewing with soy sauce, when I thought about it, we never learnt the basics properly at all.
If I knew it would turn out like that, I should have helped Nee-san to cook more in the first place.
Looking at the kitchen that looked as though a typhoon passed by it, I heaved a huge sigh with my whole body.
Just at that moment……
“What is wrong with this sorry state?”
It was an unbearably calm voice that did not contain anger or surprise.
They were just words sternly stating the truth.
Sora-chan and I sprang up at the same time.
We, who rose from the sofa, saw that Oba-san was standing before our eyes.
There was a smile on Oba-san’s face, but her gaze did not contain any trace of a smile at all.
“I can tell that you are cooking, but…… What is wrong with this? Turning it into this state, absolutely nothing can be done, isn’t that right?”
Oba-san said while gazing at the ingredients and failed works messily placed in the kitchen.
“T- T- That’s not it, this is actually……”
“W- We’re…… just planning to clean up!”
“Is that so?”
Oba-san breathed in deeply.
“Then clean it up immediately! I’ll help out as well!”
We speeded up as though we were whipped.
O- Oba-san…… She didn’t set up surveillance cameras in the house, did she……?
However, she did not continue to berate us, and wore an expression as though she was thinking of something.
For quite some time, we cleaned up the mess without speaking in the kitchen.
Not long after, the kitchen turned even cleaner than before we started to cook.
When we completely cleaned the dust and oil behind the stove, Oba-san spoke in satisfaction:
“Good work, Yuuta-san, Sora-san.”
As for us, we didn’t even have the energy to reply.
Since it was our fault for making a mess in the kitchen, you can say that we brought it on ourselves.
That moment, Oba-san was sitting gracefully in the living room while making tea for us.
Although it was the same old sencha, for some reason, Oba-san’s tea was exceptionally smooth.
In the end, everything depends on skill and experience.
And at that moment, not only was Oba-san not angry, she said to us in a slightly apologetic tone instead:
“Yuuta-san, I was thinking about this from before…… Do you have any experience of cooking? You always lived alone ever since you separated from Yuri-san, so you probably have some experience, right?”
“W- Well, actually…… I almost never cooked myself.”
To be frank, I only noticed in the war before this, about the dishes that can be handled by using a frying pan to cook vegetables and meat, if the changes in ingredients and sauce weren’t counted, the recipes that I know of probably don’t even reach twenty.
“Then Sora-san, have you any experience of helping to cook?”
“Sorry…… I’m rather clumsy, so even Miu might have even more experience of cooking than I had……”
After we said that, Oba-san heaved a long sigh.
“Sorry, about the matters of cooking, I’m actually responsible as well.”
“I should have noticed this earlier. I’ve reaffirmed your refrigerator just now. As I saw that the dishes that you make are not bad at times, I was mistaken that even though you pass your days somewhat sloppily, you still know how to cook.”
Ahhh. Oba-san was probably referring to Raika-san and Nimura’s cooking. Mrs. Kitahara was concerned of us as well, and often sends us some cooking, and we would look through cookbooks when we were free as well, and occasionally make some nice dishes.
Well, though the percentage of success was about 30%. Even if it ended in failure, we wouldn’t keep it in the fridge as well, so Oba-san naturally didn’t have any chance of seeing those failures, and I didn’t think Oba-san had any reason to reproach herself because of this.
“I shall come here more often after this to cook some vegetables and the like for you to keep. Judging from the situation, it seems like you need a bento more right now. Is there anything wrong with Hina’s kindergarten again?”
Seeing Oba-san dully expressing her thoughts, Sora-chan seemed to have something to say.
“E- Excuse me…….!”
On the next instant, Sora-chan stood up all of a sudden, and spoke as though she had come to a resolution:
“Please teach me how to cook!”
“To cook, huh? You don’t need to be so anxious about such a thing, and besides, you have to focus on your studi……”
“I will try hard to learn! That’s why, please teach me!”
As though she was breaking Oba-san’s kind words, Sora-chan lowered her head and pleaded so.
“Me too! Oba-san, please teach me!”
I pleaded with my head lowered like Sora-chan as well.
Compared with information obtained from books or the net, learning from people is indeed better. To make Hina happy, Sora-chan and I were both serious.
“…… Very well then. I will teach you, so raise your heads.”
Although she hesitated at first, Oba-san gave up not long after that and promised to teach us.
“Okay! If so, the bento is settled then. Sora-chan, relax and allow me…….”
“What are you talking about, Onii-chan? Aren’t you supposed to finish your reports!? Allow me to make Hina’s bento!”
After gaining an indescribably large help, Sora-chan and my spirits burned once more.
“Oba-san! If so, from tomorrow on……”
“What are you talking about?”
“There is much for you to learn, so the thought of starting from tomorrow is too leisurely. We’re starting right now.”
Oba-san’s stern manner caused Sora-chan and I to shudder. Uh oh. When she gets into the mood, Oba-san is invincible.
“Stop dillydallying. We’re starting immediately. I’ll help handle the dinner tonight.”
We hurriedly ran towards the kitchen. Naturally, Oba-san stood at the very center, while Sora-chan and I stood at her sides.
“First up is Sora-san.”
“Start from peeling the carrot skin.”
“Eh? But, I……”
Probably remembering her previously failed attempt of peeling the carrot, causing it to turn into pieces, Sora-chan seemed rather hesitant.
“I will teach you the technique. First, hold the peeling knife. Don’t use too much force, and don’t cut in too deeply, just lightly pull it down. Leaving a little bit of the skin is fine as well.”
While looking tense, Sora-chan started to peel the skin.
“Yuuta-san, don’t space out there as well. After the water boils, throw in a pinch of salt.”
“A pinch of salt…… How much is that?”
“A pinch is a pinch! An amount that is naturally pinched!”
“Pfft! You got scolded.”
Sora-chan spoke in a voice that only I could hear.
“Stop fussing. If you don’t hurry up, it’ll be dark soon. I definitely won’t yield when it comes to Hina’s bento.”
Sparks flew between the two of us once more, while Oba-san stopped us with a rare wry smile on her face.
“What are you mumbling about? Sora-san, please hurry up, and Yuuta-san, don’t stay idle as well! Pour in some oil after heating up the frying pan. Sigh…… This is indeed a large mistake of mine. These times, we’re preparing healthy meals for you to have a balanced diet!”
Oba-san raised her index finger after saying that.
“If your capabilities fail to reach a certain level, I shall make Hina-san’s bento instead! I will do as I said, so take note of that!”
“ “Understood!” “
W- Why does she feel like Nee-san?
The vigor and determination is really similar. Sora-chan seemed to have the same thoughts as well, and turned around to look at me. After we looked at each other for a moment, we looked away with force again, and continued our work while facing opposite directions.
As Papa, regarding Hina’s bento, I will never yield no matter what.
The extent of Oba-san’s sternness was more than we expected. Did we choose the wrong teacher?
She carefully taught us the basics of cooking. When I think about it, the cookbooks usually write terms like ‘a suitable amount of’ and so on, and wasn’t practical at all, but I finally understood why it was written like that in the books.
Looking at Oba-san unhesitatingly gauge the amount with her eyes and her fluid actions, it really wasn’t something that could be recreated with the steps and descriptions in books.
However, as Oba-san’s movements were too quick, it was already hard for us to keep up with her pace, and her unusually calm demeanor caused us to be so tense that we were short of breath as well. And we would be sternly scolded at times as well……
It seemed like learning to cook from Oba-san might be too high a starting point for us……
Just like that, when I started to doubt my choices……
The electric doorbell at the entrance rang.
“Have Miu-chan and Hina returned……?”
“If it’s them, they don’t need to press the doorbell, do they?”
The doorbell rang again.
The visitor was quite impatient.
Ding dong ding dong ding dong!
This time, it was a continuous streak.
This can’t be said as impatient anymore, but looking for trouble.
“Who is doing this prank? I shall take a look.”
Just when we were busy…… At the same time that I complained in my heart, I felt relieved for being able to escape from the tense situation before my eyes.
“I- I’ll go as well!”
Maybe because she had the same thoughts as I, Sora-chan followed us as well.
While Oba-san might have realized that we were already at our limits, so she just shrugged slightly and didn’t say anything anymore.
After I sighed in relief, I opened the door.
Well then, who on earth is the rude visitor……. Eh?
“Good afternoo~n, Segawa-chan.”
The ones who appeared before my eyes in turn were the members of Roary.
“Nimura! Raika-san as well……!?”
Apart from that—
“Segawa-ku~n! I’m here to look for you…… Heh ☆”
Sako-senpai spoke while making a cute pose.
When Miu and Hina returned, it had already turned completely dark.
Although it’s a season when the sun sets quicker, staying out too late isn’t good.
And she didn’t know when her classmates would see her as well. It was just because Miu was a popular person that the blows that she would take were more vigorous when her small mistakes were caught. In addition, she was with a male older than her that day as well.
“Well then, we’ll just send you here.”
“Eh? You can meet Onee-chan and Oji-san first……”
“That’s fine, no need, goodbye.”
After saying that, Daiki and Shuuji, who played the role of an errand boy and a bodyguard, handed the items in their hands to Miu. Hina took the toys that they bought when they shopped at the aquarium near the shopping center, and looked extremely happy.
“Hina, see you again.”
Daiki somewhat roughly stroked Hina’s head.
“Nnn! Daiki, take care as well!”
The two who noticed that Hina’s manner of speaking was affected by the two middle school boys, left after a wry smile.
“Hina, they’re actually quite nice, though somewhat impulsive.”
“Daiki and Shuuji are fun.”
“Is that so. Hina, Daiki-san and Shuuji-san asked us not to tell them about the Christmas performance. Understand? No matter it’s Oji-san or Onee-chan, you can’t tell.”
“Okay! Hina will keep it a secwet!”
With a broad smile on her face, Hina answered unhesitatingly. After that, Miu led Hina to the entrance while holding hands.
Miu opened the front door while saying cheerily.
“What were you thinking!!”
Just at that moment, an angry roar suddenly came from the house, giving both Hina and Miu a huge fright, and they froze on the spot.
After they glanced at each other, they cautiously walked towards the living room.
There, they saw Sako-senpai, who was kneeling on the floor while being scolded by their aunt.
“If you keep being so careless with your life, you will definitely regret it in your future! Besides, not graduating from college is a complete waste of money! Facing your parents who paid for the fees for you and the lecturers who taught you, won’t you feel ashamed!?”
“Y- Yes, sorry, I will repent on it!”
That Sako-senpai cowered when he faced Oba-san’s scolding.
It was the first time Miu saw Oba-san, who treated people sternly, but wouldn’t usually get so emotional like that. Although Miu wasn’t sure why Oba-san was so angry, since her target was the club president, there were quite a lot of things for her to be scornful of……
“Miu! Hina! Why did you return so late!”
“Onee-chan…… What’s with this situation?”
Miu asked her sister who was tightly embracing them.
“Anyway, it’s about time for someone to give him a scolding as well.”
“Oi-tan! Hina is back!”
“Oh! Welcome home, Hina. You were out so late, Oi-tan was really worried.”
Yuuta hugged Hina, who ran towards him.
“Where did you go to play today?”
“To see sunish!”
“We went to the aquarium.”
“Oh! So it’s a sunfish.”
“The sunish were so big! But, but, it’ll become like this when you look from the front!”
Hina used her hands to squeeze her cheeks, and seemed that she wanted to show the flat appearance of a sunfish.
“Hina-chan, welcome home.”
“Ah! It’s Raika Nee-tan. Raika Nee-tan is here to play?”
“That’s right, because I wanted to see Hina.”
Although Raika was still wearing a poker face, she gave people a faint feeling that there was a trace of smile on her face.
“Sorry for this. Although it’s the rare Sunday, so many people came over, but we were actually planning to give up on it. It’s because Sako-senpai wanted to come over no matter what.”
“Oi! Nimura-kun! Isn’t that too devious! Didn’t you agree to that as well!”
“I haven’t finished yet!”
“Pfft…… Hehe……. Ahahaha!”
Before Miu noticed, she already started to laugh out loud.
Seeing that Yuuta and her sister seemed to have made peace, and the cheery friends and family by her side, it made Miu feel rather happy.
Just like that, there were quite a lot of people eating at our place that day. The stewed potato and meat that Oba-san almost single-handedly made was slightly too sweet for me. Sako-senpai kept getting scolded by Oba-san even when he was eating.
After dinner ended, it felt like Sako-senpai looked rather gaunt……
In any case, Oba-san would teach us how to cook every three days.
Although it was quite close to Christmas, to make Hina happy, we must do our best. Just like that, the rather unique group of friends and family passed the Sunday night at home.
“Oh! So this is how Sora-chan looks in a kimono…… Indeed, cute people look good in anything.”
Nimura praised deliberately while flipping through the photo album.
And each time she was praised, Sora-chan responded with “Not really……”, “Thank you……” and the like, and although her whole face was red, she looked quite happy as well. For some reason, I didn’t feel really happy for that.
“You look good in a kimono……. I’m so envious.”
Raika-san looked at her breasts and said in a low voice.
“Having breasts as big as Raika-san, wearing a kimono is probably quite troublesome.”
“Yes, it’s troublesome. I must tie a bath towel on my waist……”
Raika-san lowered her head slightly crestfallen.
But if possible, I wish that she wouldn’t hold her breasts at this time.
I was quite happy when I saw that, but when everyone was present, it wouldn’t be nice if people saw it. As Sako-senpai took out the photos that he took during Shichi-Go-San, it unknowingly turned into a photo viewing party. As Oba-san left ages ago since she had something else to do, there wasn’t anyone to stop Sako-senpai anymore.
“A suggestion! I wish to see Miu-sama’s photos!”
Sako-senpai immediately started to lose control.
“Ahh~ Miu-sama’s Shichi-Go-San…… Just imagining it can increase one’s age!”
Although I couldn’t understand senpai’s logic at all, it was clear that he was anticipating it quite a lot.
However, the wish was probably……
“What a pity, there aren’t any photos of my Shichi-Go-San at all.”
I suddenly recalled the matter that I realized some time before this— the fact that there were obviously less photos of Miu-chan from when she was younger for some reason, while even the three year old Hina had enough photos to fill up a whole photo album.
Furthermore, there wasn’t even one photo of Miu-chan’s three year old Shichi-Go-San.
I couldn’t ask the reason, but I understood that there must be a certain reason for that.
“How can this be…… Then what should I use for me to go on living……”
Sako-senpai kneeled on the floor in despair. Um…… Do you need to exaggerate so much……
“It’s almost time for the last train.”
Raika-senpai spoke with her hand on Sako-senpai’s shoulders.
“No, no! I don’t wanna go! I still wanna play with Segawa-kun!”
“Are you a child……”
“That’s right, senpai, you’ve forgotten the reason that we came here for. Aren’t we going to discuss the party on Christmas eve?”
Just when I was thinking of how to chase Sako-senpai away, the words suddenly popped out of Nimura’s mouth. A party on Christmas eve?
“Oh! That’s right! I’ve forgotten about this important matter! I’m here today to invite you!”
“We didn’t make a celebration party for the school festival, right? I think that it’s a great opportunity.”
“Party! It seems to be nice!”
Miu-chan immediately expressed her approval.
“I want to join the Christmas party, with Hina-chan and the others.”
Raika-san, who still maintained her poker face, said so with her face very close to me.
“Hina wants a party! Party!”
“B- But, the Christmas party at Hina’s kindergarten……”
“The Christmas party probably ends in the evening, right? And our party starts at night.”
“Uuu…… W- Well then, at least don’t choose it on Christmas eve, but on another day……”
For some reason, Sora-chan didn’t seem willing at all.
“Onee-chan, what’s wrong? Is there anything else on Christmas eve…… Ah! Is it possible……”
Christmas eve…… Is there something else? Perhaps……
“Sora-chan! What’s with this!? I, as your guardian, the person standing in as a father, don’t approve of middle school students having a relationship!”
Only this thing, I must clearly make my stand!
“No! No! That’s not it!”
“That’s not important! Raika-san, must it be on Christmas eve? Isn’t it fine on Christmas night?”
“It’s fine with me, but why?”
When the Raika-san asked with a poker face, Sora-chan couldn’t answer at all, and that intensified my suspicions.
“I- I- Is it possible…… Is it possible that you’re going out with that arrogant Maeshima last time……”
“O- Of course not! Don’t imagine all this just because it’s Christmas! Idiot Onii-chan!”
Just when Sora-chan denied it with her whole face red, the answer appeared from an unexpected source.
“Ah! The performance! Performa~nce, performa~nce ♪”
Hina knows! While making an expression like that, she started to sing a song with the theme of ‘performance’.
“Hina, what does that mean?”
“Christmas performance, we have to keep secwet ♪ Secwet…… What’s a secwet?”
There were questions on Hina’s cute face, while a trace of a smile shone in the pair of large, innocent eyes.
“W- Wait a minute! Hina! Why do you know!?”
My question overlapped with Sora-chan’s inquiry on Hina, while that confirmed the truth as well.
“Whoops…… So sorry, Maeshima-san. Perhaps I should have told Hina in another way……”
Miu-chan said in a daze, but it was already too late.
“Miu-chan, what is this?”
She seemed to have given up on hiding it, and spoke to us about the matters that occurred. When I heard about Maeshima-kun helping Miu-chan and Hina, it caused the thought of being able to forgive his numerous rude behaviors in the past to arise in my heart, but Sora-chan seemed quite displeased.
“Seriously! Just helping is fine, but why did they say all that to Miu!”
“Because they met us just when they were buying stuff for the performance. That couldn’t be helped, right?”
Sora-chan still seemed to be rather doubtful. Hmm, Maeshima-kun, it seems like points have been deducted from your love. That’s good. Please continue to gain negative points.
Just when I was having such childish thoughts, Sora-chan gave a large sigh as though she had already given up.
“It’s like this, I will be very busy on Christmas eve, sorry.”
“Wait a minute, Sora-kun, the time for the performance is……?”
Sako-senpai asked with a solemn expression that I never saw before.
“As I recall…… It starts from five…… Until Eight or so.”
“That isn’t a problem at all!”
Sako-senpai happily raised his fist, standing up in agitation.
“I hereby speak of the plan for the Christmas party! First, joining the Christmas party at the kindergarten in the morning! After that, watching the performance of the Choir Club, and then it’s ‘Let’s Party Time’ until the morning!”
“You mean that everyone here is going to see the performance!? I don’t want to!”
“Sora-chan, I’ve already decided!”
“You shut up! You definitely can’t come! If you go, I absolutely won’t forgive you for that!”
“Stop laughing in such a disgusting way!”
The first Christmas that I went through when I became a Papa already had a hint of confusion early on.
And apart from this, there was a large problem as well.
Along with Christmas, the thing other than the party would be presents!
Uh oh, I actually forgot about such an important thing.
Even if I gave them things that they don’t like, my kind nieces would probably pretend to be happy. As their guardian, naturally I can’t allow them to suffer such a thing. That’s what I thought.
I have to think of a present that can make them happy…….!
Apart from that, since our money is used together, they probably won’t be happy if I gave them something expensive.
It’s really hard to choose.
In any case, I can only thank Sako-senpai and the others for making me remember this.
And also…… As for the Raika-san that I love, I have to think of something to give her as well. Nimura, who always took care of me, I have to give him something in return too. As for Sako-senpai…… Probably allowing him to take one photo of Miu-chan would be fine. When I started to think of it, I realized that it was quite a hectic matter.
Just like that, we started the hectic December.
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