“Say, what if I burn that notebook. Will you go out with me?”
After swallowing her last bite, Hina let out an unintelligible response. For a moment, she didn’t understand what Hasegawa was saying.
“If the reason you keep refusing me is because of that notebook and its contents, I was wondering if burning it would change your mind…”
He said so with a clear expression and Hina couldn’t help narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
“Even if you burn the notebook, you’d still remember its contents, won’t you? No, the problem doesn’t lie there.”
“Then, what’s the problem?”
Hasegawa cocked his head in confusion while Hina stared at him with her elbows on the table.
“What I’m saying is, I can’t be your ideal type. More accurately, I don’t want to be. Just like how I know I need to change my habit of regularly cleaning this room, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to change my personality. That’s why…”
“In that case, it’s fine as long as I won’t you ask you to change?”
Hina was taken aback as she didn’t expect to hear those words. Hasegawa continued speaking without checking her reaction.
“Didn’t you say so earlier? That ‘the way I am now turns you off’…”
“I did say that…”
If you just filter that out, the words seem like a confession. Hina frowned at the thought.
“Until now I was fixated at the idea that I should only date a woman who fits my ideal type. If I liked someone who isn’t my ideal type, even if it’s troublesome, I thought it’d be okay to change her. Otherwise, I was convinced that neither she nor I could be happy…”
“And that’s why, when I realized I was interested in you, I was utterly confused. Everyday you dress up in a manly fashion and work hard more than anyone else. At the end of the day, I always worry if you’ve gone home safely. It was an unexpected occurrence in my life plan. Honestly, I was in despair because you’re just too far from my ideal…”
“Huh? What are you saying? Are you trying to pick a fight?!”
Hina’s veins almost popped in anger at Hasegawa’s rather insulting words. Even so, Hasegawa hollered on.
“But despite that, I thought it was fine as long as I groom you into my ideal type. But earlier, I realized that I still like you just the way you are. Of course, my ideal type remains my ideal type and I originally prefer a woman like that, but it doesn’t matter as long as it’s you…”
“STO-P!” Hina yelled as she covered Hasegawa’s mouth with her hands. Her cheeks went bright red.
“Hasegawa, don’t you feel ashamed saying such things since a while ago?”
“Should I feel ashamed of expressing my feelings?”
Hasegawa calmly said while avoiding Hina’s hands. With a slightly angry face, Hina crushed his cheeks with both hands. “Well I’m embarrassed so please cut it out!”
After Hasegawa answered, with cheeks crushed from both sides, Hina let go of her hands in defeat. When he was trying to sit up straight, Hasegawa caught sight of Hina’s face. Her cheeks were still tainted red.
“Let me ask you again, Hina. If I promise not to force you to change in the future, will you go out with me?”
His usual calm expression looked a little serious than normal and Hina fought the involuntary urge to say no.
Her heart sent warning bells that she couldn’t just answer him half-heartedly. Since he was being serious, she ought to take this seriously as well.
Thinking so, Hina raised her voice a little.
“Um, I have other reasons for refusing you…”
“What is it? If it’s something that can be fixed, I’ll fix it.” Hasegawa said without missing a beat. Hina felt confused.
Hasegawa’s gaze was burning and Hina couldn’t look at him straight in the eye.
“T-That’s… there’s a lot…”
“I planned to take it easy but since you care so much, let me work on fixing it.”
Hasegawa said nonchalantly while putting his hand on his chin. Hina could only reply in frustration.
“Um, you… You always have that stoic look.”
“I’ve always been told that. From now on, I’ll try my best to change it in front of you.”
Cold sweat ran down Hina’s spine. Hasegawa’s tone sounded like a snake staring at its prey. Hina felt like she’s was coiled in his trap.
“Um, you’re too much of a perfectionist, it’s kind of suffocating…”
“That’s part of my personality so that’d be difficult to change. But I’ll take note of it and be more careful around you.”
After saying all the flaws that came to her mind, Hina stared at him blankly. She couldn’t think of any other reason to refuse him.
In the first place, since it was a question of whether or not to go out with him, she could just straightforwardly say “I don’t like you” to end their conversation. But somewhere inside her made her hesitate.
She didn’t particularly like Hasegawa but she also didn’t hate him. She didn’t understand it when he first confessed and when he brought out his “ideal type”, her initial thought was, “What kind of a person is this?!” But now that she has calmly thought things through, she can say that he’s just somewhat an awkward person.
If she didn’t have any more feelings for her ex-boyfriend, and Hasegawa confessed to her in a normal way, she might have given him a chance. She originally had positive feelings for Hasegawa, but on the day he confessed, she was just quite shaken and confused.
Beside the restless Hina, Hasegawa gently shook his shoulders in exasperation.
“Hina, it’s fine if you refuse.”
Hina mumbled vaguely in response to Hasegawa’s unexpected words. Hasegawa looked conflicted as he lifted the edge of his mouth.
“I said, it’s fine if you refuse me. Didn’t I tell you that I wouldn’t give up easily? I was prepared for a long-term conquest so this much won’t weaken my resolve.”
Is that really true? If you were turned down by the person you like, won’t you normally feel down about it?
Hina thought about it and shook her head. No matter how strong-hearted Hasegawa is, there’s no way he wouldn’t be bothered if he was turned down by the person he likes.
In that case, the true meaning behind his words earlier is…
(Could it be… he’s being considerate of me?)
Just as the idea dawned on her, Hasegawa opened his mouth to speak.
“I’m glad that you’re thinking about me but I don’t want you to make that face. So, this conversation…”
Hina stuck out both her hands and cut Hasegawa’s words. She then looked down to hide her blushing face.
“Can you wait?”
“Huh? For what?”
“The reply to your confession! I haven’t completely gotten over my ex-boyfriend and I haven’t properly considered you as a man. Just give me more time.”
After saying everything in one go, Hina stood up. She held the plate and spoon in her hands. Then she took them to the sink and started washing the dishes.
To hide her embarrassment, Hina washed the dishes with a loud clattering noise. At that moment, the familiar deep tone was a heartbeat away from her ear.
“Got it. I’ll be waiting in anticipation then.”
Without realizing it, Hasegawa was now standing closely behind her. He placed his hands on the sink, locking Hina to her spot. Their bodies haven’t touched at all and it’s not necessarily difficult for her to continue washing the dishes but somehow she couldn’t stand it.
“Please go away.”
“Don’t want to.”
The voice behind her ears was clearly cheerful and as she tried to hide her blushing face, she suddenly regretted her decision a bit.