“I just bought random stuff, is that okay?”
Hina put the plastic bag down and removed her shoes at the entryway. Hasegawa who has been waiting looked ill at ease while sitting on the sofa and drinking his coffee.
It was a short walk from the apartment to the nearest supermarket. Hina had gone shopping at the supermarket alone.
“How much was it? I’ll pay you back.”
“No need. Consider it my thanks for letting me stay last night and for helping me clean up.”
While saying so, Hina proceeded to start cooking. Watching her as she was preparing the cutting board and knife, Hasegawa asked in a curious tone.
“Are you gonna cook now? I was sure you just bought a bento.”
“I did think of just buying a bento for a quick lunch, but when I saw the food ingredients I suddenly craved hot pot. I’m just gonna mix everything I bought in the hot pot though. Since it’s too much for one person, I hardly make it but feel free to join me if you like… Oh, perhaps, you’re the type who doesn’t like sharing food with others?”
Feeling relieved, Hina lightly laughed and started moving. Not long after, she finished preparing the ingredients and subsequently placed them on the pot on top of the cooking stove.
“What a big pot…”
“I really like hot pot, you know. When the weather gets cold, I invite my best friend over and we cook it occasionally.”
“Oh, you’ve let people inside that room?”
“W-When that happens, I always clean up!”
Hina bellowed, then Hasegawa said in a teasing voice. “If you cleaned up properly from the start, you wouldn’t have to get frantic over hiding it away, you know.”
“I know that but I’ve just been so busy! Besides, I also don’t like cleaning much…”
“If you go out with me…”
“I have no intention of becoming your ideal!”
While saying so, Hina carefully removed the scum. Behind her, Hasegawa asked in a deep voice.
“Then, how about being my girlfriend?”
Detecting the seriousness in his tone, Hina almost fell down in shock.
“If you have no intention of becoming my ideal, then how about becoming my girlfriend?”
“What makes you think that?”
“You invited a man to your room and offered him a meal. Isn’t it normal to expect a little?”
“That’s not it! This is just a token of my gratitude!”
While vehemently quelling his misunderstanding, Hina’s cheeks blushed a little at Hasegawa’s straightforwardness.
After she finished cooking, she sat next to Hasegawa again. But Hasegawa moved a bit to create a little distance between them.
“Isn’t it a little cramped and difficult to eat like this?”
“Is it? Then, why don’t we sit on the floor?”
The two sat on the floor cushion and started eating.
After they have finished eating and cleaning the room, Hina changed into her loungewear. She took a canned beer from the refrigerator and offered it to Hasegawa.
“I feel like drinking now. Want some Hasegawa?”
Looking at his astounded face, Hina tilted her head in confusion. Hasegawa removed his glasses and massaged the wrinkles that has formed between his eyebrows.
“No, thanks. I’ll have to pass. Besides…”
“Then, I’ll just give you a cup of tea instead.”
While watching her pour him tea, Hasegawa breathed out a sigh. Meanwhile, Hina shot him a sidelong glance as she opened the can of beer after a vigorous shake.
“Whew! The best!”
In contrast with her good mood, Hasegawa seemed a little unwell. Concerned, Hina placed her hand on his forehead.
“Hasegawa, are you okay? Your body doesn’t seem to be…ahhh!”
Hasegawa grabbed the hand she placed on his forehead and Hina’s good mood instantly vanished. With the familiar ceiling in the background, she could see Hasegawa’s stern face up close.
The moment she realized she was pushed down, Hina panicked. She reckoned it was a bad situation but when she tried to speak, no words came out.
Hina swallowed her saliva several times and tried to calm herself.
Finally she let out a low raspy voice.
“You don’t have much guard against me.”
“No, that’s…I don’t feel like I have to…”
When she stayed in his room, Hasegawa said he wasn’t lusting for her. Hina pointed it out and caught Hasegawa’s eyebrows twitched.
“That was then! This is now!”
“What’s with that!”
“Looks like there are misunderstandings so let me clarify this. I do feel lust for you so please let me hold you.”
Her body trembled in shock. She looked at Hasegawa with her lips quivering without saying anything. Seeing her reaction, Hasegawa’s face contorted with bitterness.
“If you make that face, I’m going to misunderstand.”
“Huh? What face?”
“A cute and adorable face! What more are you planning to do to me?”
“I’m not planning anything! If there’s anyone planning anything, isn’t that you, Hasegawa?
At her frantic yelling, Hasegawa’s eyes widened a little. Then they gradually turned back to normal.
“Such a loud voice. Why aren’t you using that to shout and ask for help?”
“Even though I’ve gone this far, if you really didn’t think much of me, you should have resisted more… “
Cold sweat ran down Hina’s back. She had to say something or else she’ll really be eaten at this rate. Staring at his eyes, Hina opened her mouth to speak.
“No, I really see you properly as a man! It’s fine! I promise to be more careful next time so can you move…”
“If you see me as a man, then shouldn’t you resist more? In that case, should I interpret this to my own convenience?”
His lips touched her forehead. Slowly realizing she had been kissed, Hina looked up at Hasegawa with a blushing face.
“Um, me and Hasegawa’s ideal…?”
“…are different, I know. If I had to say, I’d much prefer a beautiful face and ain’t really into women who look like a puppy or some small animal like you. Moreover, a woman who leaves her room in such state is definitely out of the question.”
“But I can’t help it! I like you! I’ve asked myself several times, ‘Why is it you?’, you know! But before I realized it, my eyes have always been following you and if I see you talking to another male employee, I can’t help but be angry. Even after seeing such a disastrous room, I still haven’t been disillusioned. Rather, I thought to myself, ‘If I wasn’t there…’ “
“That’s… I’m really thankful for that…”
Although it was Hasegawa pouring his heart out, Hina felt like dying from embarrassment. When she looked up at Hasegawa, she noticed that his face also went a little red.
“I don’t mind if you have someone you like. But will you please fall in love with me little by little?”
“If you hate it, then push me away, okay?”
Letting go of her hand, Hasegawa slowly inched closer. Seeing his face closing in, Hina gulped.