Chapter 19: Winter Break
“Christmas is coming this year ♪”
“This song, somehow, makes me feel sad.”
As the bus headed towards the school, there was a brief moment when Chiaki couldn’t contain her excitement for Christmas.
She sang a song at the perfect volume, not loud enough to disturb the other passengers.
However, Chinatsu, who was sitting next to her, couldn’t help but let out a sigh and interject.
I feel like she has recently become a bit brighter, or rather, she has stopped taking things too seriously.
She had been talking to Onii-san for a minute every day, and while it was a tentative experience, it had become a positive influence in her life.
Trust is not easy to come by, and that is normal because of individual differences.
Just realizing this fact alone was a great asset.
Unbeknownst to Chinatsu, it was having a profound effect on her.
I’ve been relying on Oniisan for a lot of things.
“Why’s that? You should be excited about it.”
“Should I? Well, it’s not like you would understand anyway.”
“What? Hey, stupid natsu.”
“What? You’re the stupid one for calling me stupid.”
“No, you’re the stupid one for saying that I’m stupid for calling you stupid.”
“You’re the stupid one for saying that I’m the stupid one for saying that you’re stupid for saying that I’m stupid.”
“….Wait, which one of us is actually stupid?”
“….Um…wait, which one was it again?”
The two of them were about to start arguing over some trivial matter, but the tension dissipated in an instant.
I really like watching the two heads in front of me, one with blond hair and the other with silver.
They look so stylish and elegant side by side.
Sitting beside me was my younger sister, Chifuyu, with her lovely brown chestnut hair.
I couldn’t help but feel grateful for having a sibling like her by my side.
While the two in front of us chatted away, my younger sister, Chifuyu remained silent, engrossed in a book.
It appeared that she had borrowed it from the school library, and upon closer inspection, the book seemed quite old.
“Chifuyu, what are you reading?”
“Huh!? Ah! It’s nothing!”
Chifuyu quickly closed the book when I asked.
Wait, does this mean she doesn’t like her Onee-chan?
If that were the case, then my soul would depart right here and now.
“Oh, I’m sorry…”
“Ah, no, don’t apologize… Haru-nee didn’t do anything wrong.”
I wonder what she’s reading.
I can’t tell since she’s hiding it, but I’m too curious to even sleep tonight.
However, I couldn’t force her to reveal it.
Sigh, it’s so intriguing…
“Well, if you call someone stupid, you’re the stupid one, so…”
“Ah, so now that you called me stupid, does that make you stupid…”
“Hmm… so, am I supposed to be the stupid one now?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Hmph, well, I’m actually smarter than you, so it’s nothing to worry about.”
“That’s just sore losing on your part, being stupid.”
“Hmph, you’re like a broken record, always repeating ‘stupid, stupid’.
Listen up! The person who keeps saying the same thing over and over is the stupidest one!”
“Oh, I see.”
“Hey, pay attention! It’s an important point.
I’ll say it again since it’s so important.
The person who keeps saying the same thing over and over is the stupidest one.” Chiaki repeated herself.
“Huh… I see.”
I couldn’t help but be distracted from the heartwarming angelic scene unfolding in front of me.
Still, I was dying to know about the book Chifuyu was reading.
What was she hiding from her Oneechan?!
Uuu, my sister is as tight-lipped as hardened Carbyne or Wurtzite boron nitride.
I mean, come on, I’m available 24/7 for advice and stuff.
I mean If Chifuyu wants to know something, just look it up on Haru-pedia…
“Huh? What book are you reading, Chfuyu?”
Lost in thought, I hadn’t noticed Chiaki and Chinatsu had turned around to look at us.
Their eyes were fixed on the book Chifuyu was trying to conceal.
“This… it’s nothing.”
“What? You’re piquing our curiosity now.”
“…Ah! We’re almost at our stop!”
Chifuyu flinched slightly but quickly composed herself, stood up from her seat and headed towards the exit.
I couldn’t help but be curious…
That was dangerous… Chifuyu hastily got off the bus stop, clutching a book titled ‘What is Love’ in her hand.
I felt embarrassed holding it, and for some reason, I didn’t want anyone to notice me with it.
Although nothing would really happen even if someone did.
I didn’t really know why I wanted to read this book.
Maybe I borrowed it because it caught my eye at the library, or perhaps I thought that the answers to my questions were hidden inside it.
I wasn’t entirely sure.
Lately, my heart had been beating oddly, and I often felt restless and uneasy.
I had no idea what was causing it, and I couldn’t find the answer anywhere.
But I had a feeling that this book might hold some answers…? I read on with a mixture of doubt and belief, and soon I realized that my current state resembled that of love.
Wait, hold on a second… love? Who could I possibly be in love with? I quickly entered the classroom and took my seat, opening the book and questioning myself.
“When in love, you feel your heart race just from looking at a particular person.”
Hmm, that doesn’t seem right.
While my heart rate does increase and blood flows better when I see Kaito-san, it must be something different from that.
“Just making eye contact with your crush makes you happy.”
Well, that’s not entirely true either.
Hmm, that’s not it either.
While it’s true that I feel a bit happy and embarrassed when I make eye contact with Sakigoto-san, it’s not really related to this.
“Just talking to your crush makes you happy.”
“What was that noise?”
“N-Nothin’, Natsu-nee… you came too quickly…”
“I’ve been talking to you for a while now, but you’ve been so focused that you didn’t notice me.”
“So, this is the book you were reading on the bus… What, are you in love or something?”
“N-No, it’s not like that!”
“Hmm, you seem a bit defensive…”
I quickly hid the book I was reading as Natsu-nee peered into it curiously.
“You don’t have to hide it, you know.
There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, whether you’re in love or not.
It’s human nature to want to know about love,”
“No, it’s not like I want to know about love or anything.
I just happened to pick it up,”
“Hmm, well if you ever have any questions, come to me.
I’ll give you an intelligent analysis of love,” Natsu-nee said with a confident smile.
“Intelligent analysis…got it,”
“…Did you just doubt me? You thought I was using a word I didn’t know the meaning of, didn’t you?”
“No, not really…”
“I still think you did think about it a little.”
“Come on, don’t be silent like that.
I’m not mad at all,
Natsu-nee leaned in with a confrontational expression.
It might be one of those situations where she’d needle me.
Just then, the teacher walked into the classroom.
Phew, saved by the bell… Natsu-nee took the seat in front of me.
“We’ll talk later,” she said.
Oh no, this is the kind of thing where she’ll needle me later.
Even though it’s the last day of school today and we’re going on winter break tomorrow… to end up getting needled by my sister on the very last day of school.
I closed my book with a wry smile on my face.
Whenever I engaged in desk work, I noticed that my shoulders would often become stiff and tense.
This was largely due to my tendency to slouch, which in turn may have negatively impacted other areas of my body as well.
During my lunch break, I took a moment to rub my right shoulder with my left hand while perusing some recipes online, searching for inspiration on how to prepare a luxurious dish to enjoy during the upcoming Christmas holiday.
Winter break was quickly approaching for the four girls, and with Christmas just around the corner, I knew that it was time to start planning and preparing.
My goal was to create dishes that not only looked visually appealing but also tantalized their taste buds and brought joy to their hearts.
“Aren’t you being too serious about this? Can’t you just buy all the Christmas food?”
Sasaki, who was eating cup ramen next to me, started talking to me.
He said that buying food was easier than making homemade dishes, and maybe store-bought food could even be more delicious.
However, by making dishes from scratch…
“I want to hear someone say, ‘Wow, that’s amazing, papa,’ when I cook something homemade.”
“I mean, it’s not weird to call yourself ‘papa’ at this point.”
“Of course not, because I am a papa.
But no one has ever called me that before.
I want to show everyone that I can be a reliable and dependable presence in their lives.”
“Are you being serious?”
“I’m dead serious.”
I simply flipped through the pages of the cookbook.
There was a recipe for a dish using a whole turkey….but I thought it might be difficult to eat, so I considered making something like braised pork instead….As for cake, should I go with a classic shortcake or chocolate cake with fruit? And would it be better to stick with just strawberries or mix in some kiwi?
If I wanted to make braised pork, I would need a pressure cooker.
I hadn’t used it much lately, so where did I put it? Oh, it’s in the back of the kitchen cupboard.
“…It’s hard to say, but can you really get that invested in someone else’s child? At least for me, it’s impossible…”
“Everyone is different.”
“…I thought you would argue with me, but you’re not denying my opinion.”
“As a father, the last thing I should do is outright reject someone’s perspective.
So, I try to be mindful of that in my daily life.”
“You’re really serious about it…”
“I am dead serious.”
Sasaki was slurping ramen next to me.
I put my left hand, which was massaging my right shoulder, into my bag and pulled out a rice ball.
I took a bite while browsing through my book.
Oh, I also need to go buy Christmas presents…My head was filled with too many thoughts to handle.
TN: The song Chiaki was signing at the beginning is actually a sad sounding song about Christmas called “Suteki Na Holiday”, this is researched so tell me if I’m wrong.
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