As the sun was setting to the west of the mountain, the sky became dyed with the color of persimmon and with a texture like the lingering smoke of incense. While looking at the red-colored sky to their right, the two continued to walk slowly.
“It didn’t seem like it was a date after all…” Hasegawa lamented. Even on their way home, they didn’t hold hands so it didn’t feel like a date at all.
Nevertheless, they did talk casually, and their distance, even without holding hands, felt just right.
“Oh, can we drop by the convenience store? I have to buy dinner…”
Hina said as she pointed to an illuminated establishment about 10 meters away. Hasegawa turned his head while crossing his arms.
“Don’t you cook for yourself? When I tried your dishes before, they weren’t bad.”
He was probably talking about the hotpot. Perfectionist as he was, it was surprising that he considers a pot of sliced vegetables a dish. Looks like he judges food based on the taste.
“Well, I’ve been living alone since I was in university so there’s pretty much nothing I can’t do, but it’s a bother to cook for one person alone. Later on, I discovered that foods from the convenience store are actually delicious…”
“I see. I haven’t tried them…”
“Then… how about trying it for dinner tonight?”
Hina suggested casually but Hasegawa’s face clouded over. Hina noticed it and tried to retract her words.
“Um, you don’t like it after all, do you? Forget I said anything.”
“Did you think I was concerned about the calories and additives? Well, it’d be a lie if I say I wasn’t but…”
Hasegawa groaned as he furrowed his brows. Hina studied his perturbed expression.
“Then why are you making that face?”
“Don’t convenience stores have a wide selection of foods? I have no idea what to choose.”
“Isn’t it fine as long as you eat whatever you like? In that case, do you want me to help you choose?”
Hasegawa blinked his eyes then happily said, “Yes, please.”
“I think I’ll get oyakodon. Is there any food that you dislike, Hasegawa?”
“No, I don’t really have anything I dislike.”
“Then what about your favorite?”
In front of the bento stand inside the convenience store, a tall man was thinking deeply with his hand on his chin. It looked rather surreal and Hina chuckled lightly beside Hasegawa.
After giving her recommendations, Hina let Hasegawa take his time to choose on his own. She then scooted over to the women’s magazine section. While flipping through a magazine, she felt someone’s presence approach behind her. She slowly turned her head and asked.
“So have you decided, Hasegawa?”
Standing there wasn’t Hasegawa but her ex-boyfriend whom she broke up with half a year earlier. His blonde hair was now dyed black, and instead of his usual punk-style of clothing, he was wearing a black suit.
Thinking of how different he looked since the last time she saw him, Hina was at a loss for words at the unexpected reunion. Hide slowly drew closer.
“It’s been a while! How are you? Still living in that apartment?”
“What’s with that… You don’t seem fine.”
He nudged her shoulder and Hina trembled at the touch. Then he held on to her shoulders and turned her body towards him as he gave her a bright smile.
“Hey, hear me out! I’ve been searching for a job since then, and today I just came back from work! I finally realized how foolish it was to blindly chase after that dream after breaking up with you.”
“…Is that so?”
“When I was chasing my dream, I was always kinda grumpy and I even took it out on you, didn’t I? Although I didn’t really mean what I said, we still broke up in the end. Even though work is tough, I’m really enjoying it.”
He chatted happily but inside her chest, Hina felt her heart becoming colder.
She liked his hardworking and relentless nature in pursuit of his dream. She liked how everyday, they would discuss what they would do and not do as they imagined their future together once he gets his major debut. She didn’t want to be a burden to him. But now, Hina realized that what she actually liked was his persevering spirit towards achieving his dream.
His lingering presence in her heart has now disappeared. She felt a little sad about it.
“I see! I’m glad it turned out well for you! Good luck with your job! I’ll also continue to work hard on my own.”
As she tried to brighten up, Hide’s face gradually became more serious.
“About that… It might be weird to say this now but…”
He gripped her shoulders tighter. Hina’s face slightly distorted in pain.
“You see, when we broke up, I finally realized how important you are to me…”
“I know this isn’t the best place to say this but… can we get back together?”
She wasn’t sure if she heard him correctly so she could only repeat his words back like a parrot. Seeing her dazed reaction, Hide strengthened his grip on her shoulders.
“I mean, you were unwilling to be break up with me then, weren’t you? I can now survive without having to depend on you and if we live together, we can split the rent?”
What? Hina was confused and wanted to question him further. She would have been happy to hear those words earlier, but now she doesn’t feel anything anymore.
It wasn’t that she came to dislike him. In fact, his existence wasn’t something she could forget even if she wanted to. It was just that she just didn’t see him in the same light as before.
As she opened her mouth to turn him down, her arm was suddenly grabbed. She thought it was Hide but the familiar voice echoed in her ear.
“Hina, let’s go home.”
Suddenly hearing her name being called rather sweetly, Hina’s voice cracked. She looked up and sure enough, it was Hasegawa’s face that greeted her. A hint of anger flashed across his eyes and she felt a chill run down her spine.
Hide asked in a low voice. It was a tone as if to say he won’t back down without a fight.
“It looks like you’re slow on the uptake. Obviously, she and I are in a relationship where we go home together.”
“You… It’s only been a half a year but you’ve already forgotten about me and you’re going out with this kind of guy?”
As Hide raised his voice, the eyes of the customers of the convenience store drew towards them. Being stared at by those judging eyes, Hina unconsciously hid behind Hasegawa. This action further fanned the flames of anger inside Hide.
“What the hell? When I broke up with you, you insisted that you didn’t want to break up! You’re just a girl who opens her legs to anyone after all!”
“We better leave. My ears are going to rot.”
While holding Hina’s arms, Hasegawa strode out of the convenience store. Dragged away by Hasegawa, Hina was unable to hide the shock on her face at what just happened.