“Komamura~ You down for some drinks tonight? As I was getting ready to go home, Isobe invited me to join him again.

“Sorry, I’ll have to pass again on this one.”

“C’mon don’t be like that~ It’s just for today, you know. How about it?” He usually yields immediately when I refuse but he’s unusually persistent about it today.

“I’m a bit tight on money right now so I really can’t.”

“You’re always saying that~ You’re always turning me down these days. I’m going to start crying from this sadness.”

“You’re awfully clingy today… Did something bad happen?”

“Right on the bat! That’s exactly the perceptiveness I’ve come to know and love about you, Komamura!”

“You didn’t need to tell me that last part…”

I’m not exactly thrilled getting told they love me by a man.

“Geez… How cold of you. Anyway, listen to this. There was this prim and proper girl I’ve been riding the same train with every morning. I thought she was kind of a babe, but would you believe it? I saw her with her boyfriend today!  She dumped me before I could make a move! How could such a sad thing happen?”

“Ah, is that so. I’m sorry to hear that… Since I’ve heard your story now, I don’t need to bother drinking with you, then.”

“I don’t think that the rational side of Komamura is endearing or good at all! I hate it!”

Love or hate. Which one is it?

“Anyhow, I’ll be going home now.”

“Hmm… You’ve been feeling impatient lately. My animal instincts are tingling. Did you find yourself a girlfriend?”

That killed my heart for a sec. Calm down. What I found wasn’t a girlfriend. Isobe doesn’t need to find out about that, though. There’s two troubled girls doing chores in my house, after all.

“It’s a shame but you’re wrong on that one. If your instincts were any good, wouldn’t you have known the girl from the train having a boyfriend from a mile away?”

“You know where to stab me where it hurts… No, it may be true but you know what?  I’ll take no part in such a line of questioning.”

“Either way, I’ll be going home. You’ll have to go with someone else today.”

“If I go with another guy I’m going to be made fun of, for sure.  I need that laid-back behavior of yours right now.”

“Sorry. But I really need to go home today.”

“Uwu, meanie!”

“Say what you will.”

I turned my back from the dejected Isobe and left the room.

It seems he had splendidly given up on the idea of inviting me as I could hear Isobe’s voice crying out to our coworkers behind me.

Although I feel bad about it, I really don’t have the time to listen to the love complaints of others right now. I’m riddled with worry over leaving those two alone in the house, after all.

Kanon was making dinner by the time I got home.

“Is today’s menu hamburger steak?”

There were enough hamburgers in the frying pan for three people. My taste buds have somewhat changed since I became a fully-fledged member of society. When I was younger, I didn’t like boiled food and pickles but it had grown on me and had hindered my continuing love for ramen, curry, hamburgers and others back then.

I even had ramen for lunch today.

“You’re still watching me cook. I already told you to stop, it’s too distracting.”

When Kanon admonished me, I left in a hurry.

I liked watching her cook so I could learn how to do so in the future but…

Oh well. Guess that can be left for when Kanon warms up to me more.

“Welcome back Komamura-san. The bathtub had just finished filling up.” Himari said while coming out of the bathroom.

A part of me had prepared to be ignored by Himari but she was acting normal, it was as if nothing happened yesterday.

…No. I should forget about it instead.

“Do you want to go in first?”

“Yeah. I’ll go ahead then.”

I dropped my bag down and promptly headed for the bathroom.

Just as Himari said, the tub was half-filled with hot water, ready for use.

“Ahh…”

Immediately after settling in the hot water, I unconsciously voiced out the feeling of stress leaving my body.

The difference between showering and soaking in a bathtub is night and day when it comes to removing fatigue.

Now that the days are getting hotter, a shower is the way to go. However, I think it’s important to soak in a bathtub from time to time.

When I was alone, putting water in the bathtub was a chore to do but thanks to Himari and Kanon, the burden is nonexistent.

It weighs on my mind thinking what will happen once they leave. Sure I could just go back to the same life I’ve always been living but…

I think I’m not really fond of the idea.

Shortly after I got out of the tub and got changed, my phone that was placed on top of the washing machine rang.

The caller was none other than my old man.

 I suppressed my voice as low as I could go as I answered the phone so the two outside the room couldn’t hear.

“Sorry for the sudden call, Kazuki. How’s Kanon holding up?”

“She’s doing well so far.”

Although, it’s not like we’re at an amicable point where she’d tell me her worries without holding back, either. If Himari wasn’t here, it’s likely the relationship between us would have been downright sour… Not that I can tell my pops about that, though.

“That’s great news. As you know, our family have never had girls and Kanon has never lived with a man, either. I was a little concerned with whether or not it would pan out.”

And that concern is downright warranted.

High school girls are an alien existence to me. I just managed to wing it through.

“As for the matter with your aunt, she hasn’t been found yet.”

“I see.”

“If any information comes to light, I’ll contact you right away. I’ll have to ask you to please put up with Kanon for a while longer.”

“I understand. Don’t push yourself too hard, too.”

“…Sure thing.”

I ended up looking upwards in lament after ending the call. It’s too late to think of this now but… Isn’t Kanon worried about her mother too?

If she is, she isn’t showing it. At any rate, the only thing I can do for her now is to give her a place to stay. I want Kanon to have some peace of mind at the very least.

“Oh yeah…”

As soon as we started eating dinner, Kanon suddenly interjected.

“While I was cooking, I remembered that I still haven’t asked you what foods you don’t like.”

“That’s true…”

In fact, how could such an important matter not be brought up yet. It’s rather amazing how everybody had completely forgotten about it.

I took a bite of my hamburger as I thought of it. That’s the stuff. The tender burger in my mouth spreads its juices.

I made it once back when my brother was still staying here and I managed to forget to prepare breadcrumbs to bind the meat and other ingredients together.

Once I ended up making it anyway, I remember it turned into a dreadful, dry hamburger.

“Is there any food that you dislike? Oh, but before that, I should ask you if you have any allergies. I really should have asked that as well in advance.”

“Oh yeah…”

“I don’t have any allergies, myself.”

While I do have a mild one with house dust mites, it doesn’t have any bearing to our current conversation.

Himari also does a good job of tidying up the place.

“I don’t have any either.”

“That’s great news. What are the foods you don’t like then?”

“I’m… not fond of cucumbers. The sandwich I bought at a store had cucumbers in it but it probably was past its expiration date. I had expected it to be crunchy, but it was soggy when I took a bite. Something about it suddenly made me sick so I’ve grown to dislike it…”

“Oh my…”

Kanon and I winced at Himari’s tragic tale.

It was easy to picture the little Himari in shock with sandwich in hand.

“I can eat most foods but… I just can’t handle oysters. They’re not in season right now but they’re also expensive to begin with so I don’t think you’ll bother cooking some. I’m just saying.”

“We’re the same then. Oysters are a no-go for me too.”

A surprising common point between us has been revealed.

“There’s just something gross about the way it looks.”

“I know right. It’s texture is gross, too.”

“You can say that again. It’s disgusting.”

“The sea smell it has is too much.”

“Right, right. I do think clams in miso soup are fine though~”

“Definitely. Unlike clams, oysters are so big that the reek of it just goes straight to your nose.”

We were getting lively at badmouthing oysters.

Seeing us, Himari started giggling.

“Wh-what’s funny…?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just that you two really are cousins after all. You have the same look on your face when you’re getting excited.”

“Eh?”

For some reason, Kanon’s face turned red.

Me and Kanon are similar, huh?

I thought that she was pretty much an unknown person to me. However, hearing Himari’s words made me suddenly feel we have a connection.

I also realized that it wasn’t such a bad feeling to be told I’m similar to Kanon. Though I don’t know how she feels about that.