Personally, I find notifications of job transfers and personnel restructurings to be in poor taste.

You get a job with a desire to work at that position, and abruptly get sent flying to another.

Furthermore, the employee cannot request a review or cancellation.

It doesn’t matter if they tell you it’s a promotion, it’s still a psychological burden.

There were six people who fell victim to that turnover notice this time. There was one person selected from the Accounting Department and one person from the Sales Department.

So, it was decided to have a farewell party with the Accounting and Sales departments together.

Apparently, the heads of the departments have a good relationship, so they agreed on that in an instant.

It was at lunchtime in the cafeteria when I heard about it from Sachihara-san.

A few days later, in the morning:

“I won’t be home for dinner today,” when we were having breakfast, I shared that with Kanon.

By the way, unusually, today we had grilled fish and miso soup for breakfast.

“You told me yesterday before you went to sleep. I haven’t forgotten. It’s a farewell party, isn’t it?”

“Really? I just thought I’d tell you again, just in case.”

After all, it was the first time I’d be to a drinking party since the two of them came home.

That was why I was a little nervous.

It wasn’t as if I thought the conversation now was like that of a married couple. That’s right, not at all.

“What time do you plan to be back?”

Himari’s question put me on the spot.

Anyway, no specific end time was set.

This time it was a farewell party, so I was sure there would be an after party.

“I don’t know… But I’ll be back on the last train. You can go to bed first.”

…This conversation also resembled that of a married couple… Hey, hey, stop thinking about it every time.

“I see… No problem. Please be careful on your way back, okay?”

“O-okay.”

What was that guilty feeling?

I couldn’t believe I had these feelings of guilt for leaving the two of them to go to a drinking party.

Relax. It was job socializing. It had nothing to do with the two of them, did it?

…Well, I’d try not to be too late.

I was able to finish today’s work without any particular problem. However, the atmosphere in the department felt more tense than usual.

It wasn’t as if we were very close to each other, but after all, it’s a little sad to see someone you’ve worked with leave.

With that slightly melancholy atmosphere hanging over us, we moved to an izakaya near the station.

There were a large number of people, since it was a joint meeting of the Accounting and Sales departments.

The horigotatsu-type room booked was quite spacious, but when everyone was seated it felt terribly cramped.1

Anyway, there were more men than women.

This establishment seemed to have the two-hour system, so there was no need to worry about the meeting going long. That part saved me. I would be home before the last train.

“Komamura-san, Isobe-san, otsukaresama.”

Sachihara-san was sitting next to me. I lowered my head slightly politely.

She had been gazing at my face for a few seconds.

What was wrong, had I been acting strangely?

When I was confused as to why, Isobe pounced his body before me.

“Sachihara-san, otsukare,” Isobe also exchanged greetings, and then the menu list was passed around.

It seemed there was time to pick a drink.

It was a hassle to get down to choosing, so I went with always reliable draft beer.

After all, I always drank my low-malt beer at home.

We all quickly decided on the first drink for the toast and waited a few minutes.

When the waiters came back with a large number of drinks on trays, the atmosphere, previously light with chatter, quickly changed to a ‘drinking party atmosphere.’

“Hey, on this occasion I would like to make a toast to Ichihashi-kun from the Sales Department and Senjiyo-kun from the Accounting Department, who have been transferred…” the head of the Sales Department started the farewell party.

I drank and ate according to the occasion, attended the after-party without delay, and left.

Perhaps secretly aiming for the opportunity to sneak out, Isobe and Sachihara-san followed suit afterwards.

I was surprised at the fact that there were numerous people interested in going to a third party.

Although the next day was not a holiday, everyone was in high spirits, huh.

“Isobe, Sachihara-san, were you interested in going to the third party?”

“No, it’s enough for me to drink and socialize with the people at work until the second one. The bosses are here, so I don’t think there’s going to be any more fun.”

“I think the same as Isobe-san.”

“That’s the way it should be. It has to be with a group of people it’s okay to lose your senses with… That said, why don’t the three of us go somewhere?”

“No, I’m sleepy.” (Kazuki)

“Me too…” (Sachihara)

I was a bit glad to be among the people Isobe’s ‘it’s okay to lose my senses’ with, but I still had Kanon and Himari waiting for me at home.

“I see…”

“We-we’ll go another time. We won’t miss it!” Sachihara-san was apologizing to Isobe, who looked openly disheartened.

Isobe raised his hand and replied feebly, “It’s okay, I just blurted it out. That’s all…”

Obviously not, that’s why she said she was sorry.

“I can’t believe they transferred Ichihashi…” On the way to the station, Isobe let out a deep sigh.

To be honest, this was the fourth time I’d heard the same line.

Isobe seemed to have had a lot to drink. Maybe he was drunk.

“You were close, weren’t you?”

I had never had a conversation with the person in question because we were in different departments.

Besides, I don’t have the spirit to start talking on my own with someone I don’t know.

Himari’s time… I squeezed the most out of my courage. The circumstances called for it.

“He was the life of the parties and the one who organized them… Now who am I going to ask to organize them…?”

“That’s what’s worrying you? Hey!”

“Hey, Komamura. Introduce me to someone… Can you ask your girlfriend to help you?”

“I told you I don’t have a girlfriend!”

Did Isobe still think I had a girlfriend?

Apparently, Kanon and Himari’s influence on me was too noticeable.

I couldn’t help but be conscious of it.

How troublesome… All I can do is fake the existence of the two.

Being Isobe, maybe he would say that he didn’t see a problem with her being a high school girl.

I felt bad for questioning my work colleague’s morals, but you never know what kind of preferences others have.

Then, I suddenly felt a gaze.

Sachihara-san was staring at me again.

“Err… Do I have something stuck to my face?”

She was watching me even before the farewell party started, which made me uneasy.

“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s no such thing. Komamura-san, I thought you have a face like you want to go home quickly.”

“…Huh?”

Those were unexpected words.

“Go home…? You think so?”

“Yes. Even before the farewell party started, that vibe was noticeable.”

“…”

I certainly thought it would be good to get home early today, but… I didn’t realize it was showing on my face.

“Ah, it’s not like Komamura-san has an easy-to-read face, okay?! Somehow, I understand that kind of thing from the atmosphere.”

Is the sales department a department that trains people with superpowers?

I trembled a little at Sachihara-san’s confession.

“No, but I don’t really have a girlfriend. Please don’t be serious about what Isobe says.”

“Fu fu fu fu fu. Let’s leave it at that.”

Then Isobe looked at me with narrowed eyes. Stop being suspicious. We arrived at the station while I was thinking that.

Isobe’s platform and mine were opposite, but…

“Sachihara-san?”

“Mine is one.”

“Ah, it’s the same as mine, you know?” Isobe smiled with a reddened face. Seeing that innocent smile like that of a child, Sachihara-san made a slight “Uh…”

…Well, I certainly thought it was cute, even touched me a little. Or should I say ‘how is that I can think of a man as cute?’

However, was Isobe really okay?

It wasn’t until now that I began to worry about whether he could return home safely.

“I’m sorry, Sachihara-san. Please take care of this guy.”

“Yes. I’ll make sure he doesn’t fall off the station platform.”

“If this guy makes any sexually harassing remarks, you can hit him.”

“You… What kind of image do you have of me?! I wouldn’t say something like that!”

“Fu fu fu fu fu. I’ll be fine, Komamura-san. I know very well that Isobe-san isn’t that kind of person.”

“Well, that’s what he says.”

“I’m telling you I won’t say it!”

Seeing the exchange between Isobe-san and I, Sachihara-san laughed for a moment and then…

“So, see you later.”

“See you tomorrow.”

Waving their hands slightly, they both walked up the stairs.

I started walking in the opposite direction.

When I looked at the clock, it was a little after eleven o’clock at night.

Kanon and Himari, I guess they were getting ready for bed, or was Kanon watching a TV drama?

…I realized that I thought of the two of them whenever there was an opportunity. I couldn’t help but laugh bitterly inside.

I got nervous when Sachihara-san pointed it out to me, but maybe I’m actually very easy to read?

Feeling warmth on my cheeks, I waited for the train to arrive.

I wasn’t supposed to drink to that extent today.

  1. Horigotatsu or sunken kotatsu: you may know about kotatsu, those low tables to warm up; well, this one is of the same style, but it is on a built-in floor. Here is a picture.