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Not only did I have another food outing with Ichinokura-san, we were going to bring Mao-chan this time.
He spoke about her last time. Apparently she was about to become an older sister.
Her grandparents and relatives were all ecstatic about a Sawarabi heir being born. So ecstatic that they kept saying careless things in front of her like,
“We finally have a boy!”
“I didn’t know what we would do if it was a girl again.”
Not that they meant to hurt her, but they did all the same.
Since all anyone was talking about was her brother, Mao-chan was in a sulking mood.
Both Ichinokura-san and her parents were quite worried for her.
I guess that was why Mao-chan’s mum made all of the food for her birthday. Even for a hobby that had been an incredible amount of effort. I guess that was her way of telling her daughter that she treasured her. Mao-chan seemed really happy to eat her mum’s food too.
Life was pretty harsh for an eight-year-old though… I hadn’t noticed at all.
In my old life I had a younger sister but no brothers. In this life I had Oniisama. Not once had I ever been told that they wished I hadn’t been born a girl though. If it happened now I would only feel annoyed, but it must have been a shock to somebody Mao-chan’s age.
Ichinokura-san told me that he wanted to prioritise her to make up for all of the relatives who put her younger brother first.
“Mao really idolises you, Reika-san. That night after the summer party where she met you she told us all about how she met a wonderful oneesama. You took photos of her and Yuuri-kun and gave her the framed photo as a present, didn’t you? Mao was overjoyed.
“You started to pop up in her conversations. She told me about how well you treated her. I think she was just happy that somebody was willing to pay attention to her instead of her brother.
“I’m sorry if this seems shameless, but as the oneesama she adores, I hope you can spare her just a little attention. I don’t want her to be lonely… Please.”
Ichinokura-san lowered his head to me.
I accepted without thought. Mao-chan was adorable and I loved her, so I would have done it anyhow. The bow was actually making me uncomfortable. I wasn’t spending time with Mao as some favour to him. I was doing it because I wanted to. Actually, wasn’t Ichinokura-san underestimating Mao-chan’s cuteness?
When I told him as much he broke into a wide grin.
We segued into scheduling the dinner with Mao-chan instead, and promised to contact each other once we had a better idea of when we were all free. Later I heard from him that Mao-chan had been ecstatic at the idea. Apparently it took him quite a lot of effort to calm her down from trying to go right that minute.
Dinner with Mao-chan and Ichinokura-san… I was really looking forward to it.
There was going to be no student performance during the 2nd year class trip. I relayed the information to Dite who visible deflated. Why didn’t this guy go to a music school, anyway…
We were going to be staying at Nikkou City, in Tochigi.
Since we were high schoolers and all, I was wondering why they chose somewhere so close. As it turns out, they also had a popular hiking course. Considering we were supposed to be a school for pampered rich kids we sure did go through some really athletic excursions. According to the rumours this hike was going to be way tougher than last year’s so I was honestly kind of worried.
My other worry was that Kegon Falls was also in Nikkou, so would Kaburagi really be okay? It hadn’t even been a year since I got that shortbread from Enjou.
I just hoped that this trip wouldn’t reopen his wounds. I could expect a lot of trouble if it did.
We gathered early in the morning on the day of the trip. Sleepy…
In consideration of the hiking course, I drank one of the slightly more expensive energy drinks before I left the house. I could only hope that it would work.
When we began, I made sure to take small steps, but it was as bad as I had imagined. It felt like I had been walking forever.
Fuyuko-sama and the others had given up early on. Uuu, I wanted to as well. But how could I as a class rep! I was at the end of the line though, so it’s not like I was actually helping though! I didn’t expect I would be much use by the end of this, so I asked Nonose-san to organise our class once we reached the goal.
“Just take it easy, okay?” Ru’ne-chan encouraged me, as I lagged slowly behind the majority.
Looking around, it was the same group as always.
When we finally reached the goal, everyone was, as usual, already having lunch. Shouldn’t they have waited for us to show class spirit or something? I was feeling a little resentful as usual.
Exhausted, by the time I had begun with my own obentou some of the other students were already done. Wakaba-chan was amongst them.
She was strolling around the place, looking at flowers here and there. It was nice that she had energy.
Suddenly, Enjou came and talked to her. Eh!?
I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I saw her smile and nod along with him. When did they get so close!? And Kaburagi was noticeably absent.
Since I was looking their way, some of the girls around me noticed as well.
“Who’s that girl speaking with Enjou-sama?”
“That scholarship student, Takamichi-san, I think. Remember? The one always on the ranking board?”
“Why is she being so intimate with Enjou-sama!?”
Oh dear. I caused a minor uproar. Before I could try to distract them, Wakaba-chan and Enjou split up. …Thank goodness.
This time it was somebody who approached Enjou. The No. 2 in Tsuruhana-san’s group sidled up to him first, which was the cue for a lot of other girls to copy her. No. 2 was glaring at Wakaba-chan’s back from afar.
In the afternoon we got on the coach and headed to Kegon Falls.
Naturally, considering how famous it was.
So this was the waterfall that Kaburagi visisted in the winter… The temperature had gone a bit further than ‘refreshing’ into ‘cold’. I wasn’t surprised that Kaburagi caught a cold coming here in the dead of winter.
I found myself looking for Kaburagi in the crowd. He was staring into the water at the base of the waterfall. Ah… Did his wounds reopen?
Enjou was glued to his side, holding his arm. Mn, he was a good friend…
When it was time to leave, Kaburagi didn’t seem to respond. He must have been thinking about something. Scary.
In the end Enjou had to pull him away. I wonder if Enjou had to do the same thing back during Kaburagi’s journey…
When we returned to the bus, Wakaba-chan showed Enjou a souvenir bag.
“Thank you for recommending these!”
‘Kegon Falls Shortbread’ it read.
“That souvenir…” muttered Kaburagi as he stared from the side.
“I never tried them myself, but I gave them to somebody who told me they were great.”
At the next place we visited, No. 2 bumped into Wakaba-chan on purpose.