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TPO is a Japanese abbreviation of ‘time, place, occasion’. It’s used in the sense of ‘There’s a time, place, and occasion for everything’.
I forgot about that tragic present for now.
After returning to the living room I ate the tasty milk pudding that Kanta-kun made while Wakaba-chan and I spoke about the school trip.
She seemed to be quite excited for it, having bought a location guide book and everything.
“I’m so excited. This is my first time going overseas, you know? Hey, Kisshouin-san, did you ever see the changing of the guards?”
“I did. I watched with my own eyes as guards with these huuuuge hats marched down the street.”
“I’m so jealous! I wanna see it too!”
Her siblings joined in and we happily chatted together about good tourist spots as they looked through the guide.
When it was about time that we began preparing dinner, Wakaba-chan’s mother came back.
“Welcome, Coro-chan!” she greeted me.
“Thank you for having me here today,” I said.
Wakaba-chan handed my present over.
“Mum, look at what Kisshouin-san got us.”
“My, thank you! Gosh, what good meat!”
Wakaba-chan got up to help her mother in the kitchen while Kanta-kun and I set up the table and brought out the hot plates.
We were using two of them since her family was quite large.
I liked being able to help like this.
It felt like I wasn’t just some guest that they still had reservations against.
Maybe I counted as one of them~? Ehehe.
“Hey, Cornet. At Zui’ran you greet each other with ‘gokigen’yoh’, right? How come you don’t say ‘gokigen’yoh’ then?” he wondered.
“TPO,” I answered.
If I came here and said that, I’d look pretentious.
Life is all about adapting yourself.
But then the twins wanted to hear me act like an ojousama instead.
“Coro-chan, say ‘gokigen’yoh’ for us~?”
“Do an ‘ohoho’.”
So they really did think of me as an ‘ohoho’…
The Ohoho Cornet Girl…
I had better pay attention to the way I laughed while I was with them.
By the time Wakaba-chan’s father had come back from work, the cooking was about to begin.
Wakaba-chan, Kanta-kun, and I were using one hot plate together.
“Holy shit!” he exclaimed. “There’s a lot of meat today.”
“Coro-chan brought it over,” explained his mum. “The meat on this plate is the good stuff, so try some later.”
“You did good, Cornet!” he laughed.
Their family seemed to be enjoying the meat I brought.
Thanks to that, I was able to eat with fewer reservations.
Mmmmm, food was somehow better when eaten with lots of people like this.
Aaah~ This ponzu sauce was great!
It was a bit nostalgic.
In my old life too, we used a hotplate like this to have yakiniku.
Seeing the normal family in front of me, I couldn’t help but relax and accidentally said “Wakaba-chan” a few times, before hurriedly correcting myself.
Sometimes I just slipped up.
Wakaba-chan didn’t seem to mind though.
I wondered if that meant I could call her that at school too, then…
After having my fill I had to go home.
The Takamichi house was accepting and comfortable so I would have liked to stay, but I had my own curfew and had to hurry.
When I left they gave me some cake to bring back home.
“Sorry that it’s only leftovers.”
Then Wakaba-chan’s father drove me to the train station.
There was nothing more I could want from them.
When I got off the car, Wakaba-chan and her dad waved goodbye and saw me off.
“See you tomorrow!”
I waved back.
Aah, that was fun.
I wanted to visit again already.
While I sat on the train I wrote Wakaba-chan a thank you message.
Since Otousama and Okaasama were out at a party tonight, nobody asked me where I had gone.
I had just made it in time for my curfew, and only Oniisama was there.
“Welcome back, Reika.”
“I am home, Oniisama.”
Oniisama gave a sniff.
“You smell like cooked meat,” he said.
To the bath it is!
After washing my hair carefully with some fragrant shampoo, I changed into some home clothing and brought the cake out into the living room.
“Oniisama, I have some cake. Have some with me?”
“Thanks, I will.”
After making some tea, I took a seat next to Oniisama and began eating the strawberry shortcake.
“Say, Oniisama? What kind of friends do you mostly have?”
“Friends? Hmm, I guess the majority of them are ones I made as a student. After joining the workforce most of my relationships became tied to my job, so it’s hard to call them true friends, I guess.”
“I see. Then by student days, you mean from Zui’ran?”
“You could say that. Hmm, besides them, also some people I knew from other schools, or people I hit it off with while travelling. Different sorts.”
“I see… Oniisama? Are any of your friends from normal households?”
“By normal households, you mean people from the normal working class?”
Oniisama looked at me for a while, before he eventually replied.
“…I do. After I became a high schooler, I made some External friends, and I have a lot of friends like that from university as well.”
“I see…” I muttered to myself.
Having finished eating, I put down my fork and sank into thought.
Oniisama seemed to realise something and patted my head.
“Reika. Don’t worry about how our parents think. Don’t worry about where they come from. If you think they’re worth it, then be with them,” he told me.
I hoped that one day I could introduce Oniisama to Wakaba-chan.
I was a bit worried about meeting Fuyuko-sama the next Monday, but she didn’t really say anything different to me.
Phew, thank goodness…
Hopefully nobody would find out about the things the tanuki spirit had made me do during the weekend.
Still, the person I was even more awkward about meeting was Kaburagi.
At first I had just considered his romance somebody else’s problem, but having seen what happened to the fruits of his efforts with my own eyes, I just couldn’t help but sympathise with him now.
Thanks to that, it was hard to treat his issues as flippantly as I used to.
God, seeing that necklace was sorrow itself.
If I left that guy alone, he was just going to produce tragedy after tragedy for himself, mark my words.
And the one who’d end up watching every step would be me.
Which was bad, because eventually I’d cry.
Like, seriously bawl.
I mean that necklace was bad enough.
Just how long did he spend making that?
I’d never done anything like that myself, so I didn’t know how tough it was, but it had to be like when a girl knit a scarf for her crush.
Well, leaving aside how much heavier the jewellery was, at least…
For my own ease of heart, I was going to have to be a bit kinder to him during our discussions.