“…Sorry for intruding.”
In the end, Hina chose Hasegawa’s room. She didn’t have enough cash to book a hotel room. She lost her phone so she couldn’t call her friends for help. She could have used the public phone but the only numbers she remembered were her parents’ home phone number in the countryside and the emergency public hotlines. Frankly, she had no other choice.
Concluding that it was better than sleeping outside, Hina entered the room. Then she gasped at the sight before her eyes.
“W-What’s with this room…”
“Is there a problem?” Hasegawa asked with a straight face as he closed the door. Hina stared blankly at the room which had the same layout as hers.
There’s barely any furniture in the room draped in a monochromatic black and white motif. There’s a two-seater sofa and a low center table. On the opposite wall, there’s a flat screen TV. At the back was the bed. That’s all she could see. And despite having moved only today, there were no moving boxes lying around.
The showroom in the vicinity looked much better than this room with barely any signs of living, Hina inwardly assessed as she thought of her own room.
(They are as different as heaven and earth… No, more like heaven and Mars…) (1)
“Please feel free to sit anywhere on the sofa. Would you like anything to drink?”
“S-Sure.” Hina responded as she sat on the sofa. Hasegawa left the room and a few seconds later, the fragrant aroma of citrus wafted through the air, filling her nostrils with a faintly sweet scent.
“Since it’s sudden, I can only prepare this…” Hasegawa said as he placed a cup of hot milk on the table. The characteristic sweet aroma of honey reached her nose and Hina surmised that it was probably mixed in with the milk. She thanked Hasegawa as she took the mug and lowered her head to drink.
“Let’s ask the apartment manager for a spare key to your room first thing in the morning. I’ll lend you my mobile phone so contact your clients right away and ensure that everything is well taken care of. Also, don’t forget to check what else is missing among your belongings.
“You being this kind feels like a prelude to disaster! And here I was, bracing myself for your harsh scolding!” Immediately after she spoke those words, Hina wondered if it was a good idea to be saying them to the benefactor who helped her. Just as she tried to follow up with better words, Hasegawa’s voice cut through the air.
“Do you wish to be scolded? Why, I’d gladly try my best to do it…”
“No, no, no! No need to try your best! I was just really surprised! I mean… Thank you very much!”
Hina deeply lowered her head. To be honest, she was really grateful. If Hasegawa didn’t appear at that time, she would have surely stayed the night outside her door. Though the weather was still relatively warm, winter has already started. Staying the night outside would have been tough.
“Your gratitude is accepted, so please hurry up and make the necessary calls.”
“Right.” Hina briefly answered and did as she was told. The moment she was done, Hasegawa called out to her again.
“Feel free to use the shower. I’ve placed a set of clothes you can change into on top of the washing machine. They’re mine but please don’t hesitate to use them. I don’t have a set of underwear for you so you just have to settle for that tonight.”
Hina’s body stiffened on the spot. It was a very touching gesture but… also embarrassing.
It’s too late to realize this now but the thought of showering in a room with a guy she’s not dating made her want to shrink and hide herself in embarrassment.
Seeing that she remained silent and unmoving, Hasegawa lifted an eyebrow and asked.
“Aren’t you going in?”
“No, I mean…”
Hina awkwardly looked at him with fidgety eyes. Seeing her behavior, Hasegawa looked as though he realized something and raised his voice.
“Oh, don’t worry. I’m not lusting for you now so you can take your shower with peace of mind.”
“Didn’t I say it before? My ideal type is a little more busty, her waist…”
“Bastard!!” Hina yelled as she dashed into the bathroom and slammed the door shut.
“Thanks for letting me use the shower.”
Several minutes later, Hina came out of the bathroom with a frown on her face. She was wearing a matching men’s pajamas but the sleeves and hem were folded about three times.
At the sight of her, Hasegawa’s eyes flickered a little in surprise.
“You are… tinier than I thought you’d be.”
“No, I think you’re just gigantic. You’re strikingly tall. How many centimeters tall are you?
“It’s no big deal. I’m only about 182 cm. tall, although I may look a little taller than that…”
As he said those words, Hasegawa looked at Hina from head to toe. In his eyes, she looked rather cozy and he averted his gaze queasily.
“I usually wear heels so I look slightly taller than actual. What’s wrong? Oh, it’s that, isn’t it? I look farther from your ideal, don’t I? Well then, that’s good. I have no intention to be your ideal type anyway…”
“Indeed my ideal type should be a little taller, but this is also pretty good. You’re really cute.”
Hina’s voice rose without thinking. Hasegawa smiled lightly as he lifted the edge of his mouth.
“It feels good to see you wear my pajamas. Until now I didn’t understand the feeling of men who say they like it when women wear their shirts, but this has certainly changed my mind. It does trigger a protective desire.”
“Well then, I’ll also take a shower now so please make yourself at home. The remote control is on the table if you want to watch TV.”
Seeing the teasing smile of the iron mask, Hina remained rooted to the spot and didn’t move until the sound of water is heard from the bathroom.
- 月とすっぽん、いいや、月とミジンコぐらいの差がある (tsuki to suppon, iiya, tsuki to mijinko gurai no sa ga aru) – literally “The difference is like moon and soft-shelled turtle, no, more like moon and water flea.”
T/N: This is a Japanese pun. “Tsuki to suppon” is a Japanese idiom similar to the English idiom “as different as chalk and cheese”, referring to two things that seem similar but are completely different. In Japan, the moon (tsuki) is considered a symbol of beauty whereas the soft-shelled turtle (suppon) is said to look dirty and ugly. Then the author replaced “suppon” (soft-shelled turtle) with “mijinko” (water flea), another ugly-looking freshwater animal. I translated it using a similar context but I don’t know if the pun still worked. In any case, you get the idea.