Chapter 10:

Spring Mochi

Cat's Hour ~猫の時間~


Eat a lots and grow well~” I hummed while peacefully watching the cats eat.Bookmark here

Look at those small mouths chowing down the food! And those cat ears twitching in happiness! Ah, this is bliss.Bookmark here

“Wait! Mikan, why are you eating Rushia’s food?”Bookmark here

“Nyaa~”Bookmark here

“You’ll get fat, you know.”Bookmark here

Instead of paying attention to me, Mikan just continued eating Rushia’s food. Rushia doesn’t seem to mind but I noticed that she’s not really eating enough. Whether it was before I got here or just lately, she was always giving up her food to Mikan. Apparently, she is also underweight.Bookmark here

I’m worried about her sometimes. Yami, Haku and Sanji are all in good shape, they have the ideal weight for a cat. Compared to that, Rushia is underweight and Mikan is on the verge of being obese. Bookmark here

Ah, what to do…Bookmark here

Since I moved to the dorm, I also took the chance to spend time with cats to my heart’s content! Who would let this precious opportunity pass? Definitely not me! Bookmark here

I’ve been getting along with everyone too, except for Mikejima-kun that is. At this rate, it was better if I’ll just give up on approaching him. Whenever I make mistakes, he would always give side comments like ‘useless’, ‘dead weight’, and something along those words. Bookmark here

I got used to it soon… Yeah, I got used to it– Of course not! Bookmark here

If I was useless, he was a trash! I don’t care if he hates women but to discriminate me like that! I would feel better if I land a slap in his face! I want to strangle him! But that was impossible, that guy is physically competitive, I’m just a pipsqueak.Bookmark here

Right now, I’m spending my time leisurely like this. Playing with cats and loafing around the dorm. In short, I’m bored. Bookmark here

Why am I not doing anything you ask? Hmm, it must be because it’s Golden Week.Bookmark here

Golden Week is a week which encompasses four holidays of Japan: Showa Day, Constitution Day, Greenery Day and Children’s Day. People tend to go to trips around this week, some are even going to tourist spots outside and inside of Japan. Bookmark here

But for me… These past few years, I’m just rotting somewhere within that week. Bookmark here

Most businesses are close during that week, but Dad is still working in those days. I’m so bored during those times that I’m just cooped up in my room, watching cat videos online and doing the bare minimum requirements to stay alive. I was frustrated that time because I can’t go to a cat café since the shops are also closed because of the holiday. Bookmark here

Looking back on it, that was a dark way to spend your vacation. Haha, I have no excuses.Bookmark here

But! This time is different! Bookmark here

Because I can play with cats now and I have the others to spend the vacation together… or not.Bookmark here

Why am I alone in the dorm as well?! It doesn’t supposed to be like this! Even if we’re not going in a trip, at least take some time off to relax, for crying out loud!Bookmark here

Kurokawa-senpai is cooped up in the office, he said that we can all take our time to relax while he’s finishing a paper or two. But it’s been three days! Is he even taking a rest?! Bookmark here

Mashiro-senpai is working in his garden and he doesn’t want to be bothered so he warned us not to go there. Bookmark here

The first years sometimes showed their face to me and hang out every once in a while. They just don’t show up right now I guess.Bookmark here

Irosaki-sensei is working in the school building but still drops by once in a while. It was understandable because she’s still the school principal, she also has too much on her plate.Bookmark here

About Mikejima-kun, he can piss off for all I care. Bookmark here

“Haaah, everyone is so busy even in holidays.” I sighed to myself while watching the cats finished their foods.Bookmark here

“Terushima-senpai? What are you doing here?” Bookmark here

Haibara-kun showed up while carrying a large mallet. What in the world is that? Bookmark here

“Ah! Haibara-kun! I’m just feeding the cats, everyone seems so busy so I’m doing it,” I responded to him with an awkward smile. I can’t take off my eyes on that mallet, it was even big for Haibara-kun’s body to carry!Bookmark here

“Are you curious about this mallet?”Bookmark here

“Y-yeah…”Bookmark here

“This is called ‘kine’. I’m going to the backyard to use the mortar there.” Bookmark here

“A mallet and a mortar… are you making something?” Bookmark here

“Un! I’m going to make mochi! It’s still Spring so a mochi is a must-have snack! Ne, Senpai?” Haibara-kun said enthusiastically with his eyes sparkling like a child with his toy.Bookmark here

Now that he mention it… the traditional way of making mochi also needs a mallet and a mortar. That means… he’s going to make it in traditionally?! That seems amazing!Bookmark here

“But I can’t do it alone. I’m searching for Tsukasa-senpai to help me but he’s nowhere to be found,” Haibara-kun worriedly said while looking around.Bookmark here

Mikejima-kun?Bookmark here

“Forget about that guy! I’ll just help you instead!” I declared with my chest puffed out.Bookmark here

“A-ah… E-etto… are you sure about that, Senpai?” he hesitantly asked.Bookmark here

“Of course I am! If it’s for my kouhai, I’ll do it! What could go wrong anyway?”Bookmark here

Shortly after that, I regretted it so much.Bookmark here

__Bookmark here

“H-Haibara-kun, are you sure this is going to be fine…?” I stuttered with my hand shaking in front of me.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry about this, Senpai. You volunteered yourself first.” Bookmark here

“B-but… this is dangerous! I don’t want to lose my hands!”Bookmark here

“It’s fine. As long as we have the same rhythm, everything will go well!” he tried to cheer me up.Bookmark here

“W-what if I lost my rhythm…?”Bookmark here

“That… you might end up with broken bones.” He looked away from me.Bookmark here

“Haibara-kun!!”Bookmark here

I volunteered myself to help Haibara-kun in making mochi, but I didn’t know one thing, I don’t know the procedure to make mochi in a traditional way.Bookmark here

According to Haibara-kun, two people are needed to make mochi like this. One pounding with the kine and the other turning and wetting the mochi in a steady rhythm. Once it messed up, the one turning the mochi might get injured by the heavy kine. Bookmark here

Since I’m not strong enough to wield the kine, I’m the one who got assigned to turn the mochi… and the one most likely to mess up and get injured. Now, I’m scared! Bookmark here

“Haibara-kun, be gentle please… I’m begging you,” I said with teary eyes.Bookmark here

“That’s no good senpai! It won’t turn out good if it was weakly pounded!” he energetically reasoned out.Bookmark here

I sniffed to prevent myself from crying. Goodbye, my hands.Bookmark here

“Alright, here I go…”Bookmark here

I gulped seriously. I just need to match Haibara-kun’s speed and turn the mochi in a steady rhythm. I have to do this with everything I got, I need to save my hands! I need to concentrate intently and call out my innate powers to get this over with!Bookmark here

“Se-no! Haaah!”Bookmark here

“Huup!”Bookmark here

“Haah!”Bookmark here

“Huup!”Bookmark here

We continued like that for a good couple of time until Haibara-kun confirmed the texture to be good for mochi. Bookmark here

“Uwaaa! That was nerve-wracking! I thought I’ll lose my hands!” I said as I plopped to the ground out of exhaustion.Bookmark here

“Otsukare, senpai. You’re good at this! We could also do this next time!” he said out of excitement.Bookmark here

I’m taking that as a praise but I don’t want to repeat. I might run out of luck next time and have my bones broken by then if I mess up. That’s the last thing I want to happen!Bookmark here

“I’ll pass.”Bookmark here

“Is that so? That’s too bad then. I think Terushima-senpai will be a good sous chef.”Bookmark here

“Sous chef?”Bookmark here

“It means an assistant chef.”Bookmark here

I stood up from the ground and patted the dirt on my clothes. Bookmark here

“Haibara-kun really liked making foods for everyone, huh. Not just that, you also like doing household chores. That was admirable of you, Haibara-kun. If it was me, I think it was troublesome,” I said to him.Bookmark here

“Senpai… how did you know that?” Haibara-kun seriously asked.Bookmark here

Eh? Is that a sensitive topic? Wait, of course it was strange that I know it. Toujo-kun doesn’t even remember talking to me that time. Bookmark here

“W-well you see… I don’t know if you’ll believe me…”Bookmark here

“Go ahead.”Bookmark here

“I read it from the red notebook. Toujo-kun was wearing glasses that time and he seems different from usual, he did that to lift my spirits when I nearly quit the school. If it was supposed to be something that I must not know, I won’t mention it anymore,” I admitted.Bookmark here

“I see… it was that guy…”Bookmark here

“Hmm?”Bookmark here

“It’s fine, Terushima-senpai. You can ask us about what we like but I suggest being careful on what you mention. Sometimes, there are sensitive topics for everyone here.” Haibara-kun smiled at me.Bookmark here

“Ah, yeah… I understand. About Toujo-kun…”Bookmark here

“If Asahi-kun didn’t mention anything, then I don’t have the right to say it myself.”Bookmark here

“Ah, okay…”Bookmark here

“Then, let’s go to the kitchen and prepare this mochi!” Haibara-kun cheered.Bookmark here

__Bookmark here

“All done!”Bookmark here

“Uwaaah! They’re so cute!”Bookmark here

We have to shape the mochi in the kitchen before we could steam them. I could only make spheres but Haibara-kun made various designs. I suddenly feel my inferiority compared to his elaborate designs. I actually tried to do a cat but it turned out horrible that needs to be censored. Bookmark here

After shaping the mochi, we have to steam it for some minutes. Let it cool after that and it was good to go. Bookmark here

“Let’s put them in a container and take them to others,” Haibara-kun suggested.Bookmark here

“Ah, I’ll get the container.”Bookmark here

The mochis all turned out well. Of course, except that horrible creation I made. I feel bad to show it to others so I separated and wrapped it to cover its hideous figure. Damn, I hate myself.Bookmark here

We decided to go to the school building to give the mochi to everyone as Haibara-kun suggested. We are now on our way there and Haibara-kun is carrying the kine with him again.Bookmark here

“Haibara-kun… why are you carrying that thing again?”Bookmark here

“Oh. I borrowed this from the Wagashi Club.”Bookmark here

“Wagashi Club...? This school is really fancy huh, you even have club for Japanese sweets,” I commented.Bookmark here

“We also have lots of other clubs. I suggest senpai to look at them if you like.” Bookmark here

“Hmm, I don’t really have anything that I’m good at.” I put my finger on my chin. “But if there’s a cat appreciation club, I’ll join it!” Bookmark here

“Ahaha, senpai really likes cats. Sorry, but there’s no club like that here.”Bookmark here

“Then, it will just do with the student council. I feel closer with cats when I’m there.” I smiled to myself.Bookmark here

While we are walking through the way with sakura trees lined up on the side, a wind suddenly blows causing the petals swirl in the air. I held my breath to this stunning scene. I’ve never seen the sakura bloom beautifully like this before.Bookmark here

Since when did they seem so bright like this? Bookmark here

Ah, it’s been so long since I look at the sakura trees like this. The last time I remember was when we went on a flower viewing in Hokkaido when I was younger. It was a family outing, something that I already forgot after all these years.Bookmark here

“Kirei…”Bookmark here

“Un…”Bookmark here

Out of nowhere, our small rest was interrupted when we heard someone crying in the distance. Judging by the sound, it was a child. A lost child? In this place?Bookmark here

I gave a look towards Haibara-kun. His cat ears twitched and he gripped the kine tightly. Bookmark here

Wait, why does this seem familiar?Bookmark here

“A wandering spirit at this time of the day?” he grunted. Bookmark here

A spirit?! Why now of all times?!Bookmark here

“Mama… Papa… hic… Sakura wants to see them…” the crying voice said. “But… no one can see Sakura… what to do…”Bookmark here

“Wait, Haibara-kun. Don’t hit her,” I said to him.Bookmark here

“Ah, I’m not trying to hit her. I’m just on alert but I can’t possibly hit them… I’m not Tsuki-senpai.” Bookmark here

“Oops, sorry.”Bookmark here

“Let’s try talking to them.”Bookmark here

We slowly approached the location of the voice. That was when the ominous bell sounded. Uhh, what now?! It can go off even during the day?!Bookmark here

“That bell only chimes when a human encountered a supernatural in school. It was like an alarm that only us in the student council could hear if someone got caught with a supernatural,” he explained. “Even Terushima-senpai was not supposed to hear that but for some reasons you can hear it just fine. It might be some sort of special ability. Not to mention senpai can also see spirits.”Bookmark here

Special ability…? Surely that’s not something I’m aware of. But I also found it strange. Not that it was a bother for me so I’m not making too much fuss about it. Just spare me from jump scares and we’ll be fine.Bookmark here

But now that he mention it… so this is what Mashiro-senpai meant when he called me ‘bait’! Because when I encounter one, the bell will go off. Urgh, that’s not making me feel any better.Bookmark here

“A-re…? Who are you, onii-san and onee-san?” Bookmark here

The one crying was a young girl under a sakura tree, around five years of age. She has pink hair tied in a ponytail and red eyes.Bookmark here

“My name is Aoi, what’s your name?” Haibara-kun is dealing with it normally?!Bookmark here

“C-can you see Sakura?” the girl asked while sniffing.Bookmark here

“Un! We can see you.” Haibara-kun gently smiled at her.Bookmark here

Uwah! As expected of Haibara-kun! He’s really good at dealing with kids. Totally the opposite of me. Because I’m a scum when dealing with them, I could just leave them crying even if they tripped in front of me. Bookmark here

Yes, I’m not good with kids.Bookmark here

“T-then… I’m Sakura! How about onee-san?” the girl gave me a look of anticipation.Bookmark here

“M-me? Ah, I’m Hikari.” Bookmark here

I followed Haibara-kun’s example and gave my first name to the girl. It might make her comfortable in the least.Bookmark here

The girl looks happy that we could see her. It was like Ai-san’s reaction before. Could it be that… no, I don’t have enough proof to support my claim. I’ll just observe for now.Bookmark here

“Then, Sakura-chan, what are you doing here?” Haibara-kun kneeled in front of her and asked her.Bookmark here

“Sakura… Sakura just want to see Mama and Papa… then Sakura got lost… Sakura tried asking people for directions but no one seems to notice Sakura. Is it because Sakura is small?” Bookmark here

Sakura-chan is speaking in third person which I rarely hear nowadays. Well, it’s true that there are kids speaking like that but kids these days doesn’t really speak that way anymore, I guess?Bookmark here

“Your mother, is she a teacher in this school?” Haibara-kun asked.Bookmark here

“Un! How did Aoi-niisan know? It was like magic!” Sakura-chan gasp in admiration.Bookmark here

“It’s nothing. Say, Sakura-chan, should we go to your mother?”Bookmark here

“Yes! Hikari-neesan could go with us too!”Bookmark here

“O-okay…”Bookmark here

I just went with Haibara-kun’s flow and followed them. When we got far away, I whispered to him.Bookmark here

“Haibara-kun, what is the meaning of this? There’s no teacher in the school except Irosaki-sensei, right?” Bookmark here

“That’s right. But since we encountered a spirit, we should help her pass on.”Bookmark here

“I know that but…”Bookmark here

“It will go well. Trust me.” Haibara-kun confidently smiled.Bookmark here

He looks certain that this will go well. As expected of Haibara-kun, so responsible! That was cool of him! I feel bad since I’m the older one and I’m relying on my kouhai’s kindness but Haibara-kun has this reassuring presence around him that would calm you down. His voice really has that calming effect as well.Bookmark here

I’m glad that I spent time like this with Haibara-kun. Hehe.Bookmark here

“Hikari-neesan,” Sakura-chan called which made me look at her. She was circling around me as if she was smelling something.Bookmark here

“A-ano… Sakura-chan?”Bookmark here

“You smell sweet, Hikari-neesan.” Bookmark here

“Ah, I think it’s the mochi. Do you want some, Sakura-chan?” Haibara-kun asked.Bookmark here

“Sakura want some but… not those in the container. It looks like it was for someone.” Sakura-chan frowned. “Hikari-neesan, you have a separate one, right? Can Sakura have it?”Bookmark here

Sakura-chan lend out her hand as if waiting for me to give it to her.Bookmark here

A sweat broke on my forehead. I gave a look to Haibara-kun, mentally pleading for him to do something. It’s not that I don’t want to give the mochi to Sakura-chan, it’s just that… it looks horrible! It might give her grudge to me and haunts me before she go to afterlife!Bookmark here

“Hikari-neesan…?”Bookmark here

Uuu, Sakura-chan, please don’t pressure me! I don’t want this mochi to be my cause of death… if she didn’t like it, I might get haunted for real. Bookmark here

Haibara-kun! Help me!Bookmark here

“Why don’t you give it to her, senpai?”Bookmark here

You’re not helping! Why would you suggest it like that?!Bookmark here

“You made it with everything you got, what’s wrong with it? You see, the secret ingredient in cooking to make your food great is how passionate you are in making them.” Haibara-kun passionately declared.Bookmark here

“Woah! Aoi-niisan, so cool!” Sakura-chan claps to his speech.Bookmark here

“Ehehe, you flatter me.” Haibara-kun sheepishly scratched the back of his neck.Bookmark here

I have to agree that the speech was good. But that logic won’t conceal how horrible my mochi looks! Bookmark here

It can’t be helped, I’ll just give it to her. Bookmark here

“Sakura-chan, please don’t expect too much, okay? I’m not good at cooking unlike Aoi-niisan over there. If you don’t like it, you can throw it,” I said to her.Bookmark here

“It’s fine! Mama is also not good with cooking but she was trying her best!” Bookmark here

I gave the wrapped mochi to Haibara-kun since I can’t give it to her directly. It was censored since kids might get nightmare from it. Damn, I also loathe my creation. Bookmark here

I won’t mind if she said that it looks like chupacabra or some monsters, I’ll just accept it.Bookmark here

“Aahh! Cute! This is a cat, right?” Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

“As I thought! Thank you, Hikari-neesan!”Bookmark here

“Eh? You don’t hate it? It looks horrible, right?” Bookmark here

“Nope. Mama also made horrible shapes of snacks before, there was one time when she made one like a cat and it somehow looks like this.”Bookmark here

“Ahaha, I see…” Bookmark here

So the mochi resembles something that her mother made. There are others who made horrible shapes like mine. I feel you, Sakura’s Mama.Bookmark here

“Let’s get going.” Haibara-kun offered his hand to Sakura-chan, which the child happily took.Bookmark here

__Bookmark here

“Ah, Mama’s office!”Bookmark here

Sakura-chan pointed to the direction of the Faculty Room. No one’s there at this time but Haibara-kun doesn’t look bothered by it in the least.Bookmark here

Before taking off, Sakura-chan faced the two of us. Bookmark here

“Thank you, Aoi-niisan, Hikari-neesan!”Bookmark here

“Un. Be careful, okay?” Haibara-kun waved to her.Bookmark here

I also waved to her as a farewell.Bookmark here

“Let’s meet again next time!”Bookmark here

She waved for a short while and ran away to the direction of the Faculty Room. Before I realized it, Sakura-chan was nowhere in my sight anymore.Bookmark here

“I told you, right? It will go well.” Haibara-kun smiled at me.Bookmark here

“It was done?”Bookmark here

“Un. Sakura-chan safely passed on.” Bookmark here

“Ah…” Bookmark here

So there are spirits like that too. Not all have visible grudge like Ai-san. But I wonder why Sakura-chan was crying under the sakura trees outside...Bookmark here

__Bookmark here

After returning the kine to the Wagashi Club, the two of us walked in the hallway. I’m just following Haibara-kun’s lead so I don’t know where we are headed like this.Bookmark here

“Ne, senpai. Aren’t you confused about this whole thing?” Haibara-kun asked out of nowhere.Bookmark here

“Well, I’m more curious than confused. My mom always told me stories when I was a child, it was a childish curiosity but I think that’s what made me take this whole situation as if it was normal. Ahaha, it was embarrassing though, we’re in high school now but I’m still believing in childhood stories.”Bookmark here

“There’s nothing wrong with that, senpai.” Haibara-kun smiled at me. “You see, everyone in the student council is bound by a promise to god in exchange for a wish.”Bookmark here

“Ah, Irosaki-sensei also said that to me.”Bookmark here

“It was true. Senpai is also curious about what kind of wish did we make, right?”Bookmark here

I nodded.Bookmark here

“It’s not like we can’t tell you, but we still feel distant towards you. Senpai is the only one who saw us as normal people despite knowing the story of contract. Give us more time, can I ask you that, senpai?” Haibara-kun’s voice sounded hesitant.Bookmark here

“Okay. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. If you ended up telling me in the future, then I’ll be glad since you trusted me enough. No pressures, Haibara-kun.” I gave him a reassuring smile.Bookmark here

His eyes widened and soon softened as he look at me. He quickly turn around and started walking again.Bookmark here

“Wait, Haibara-kun!”Bookmark here

“I just hope that you won’t hate us when you found out what we wished for…” I heard a whisper.Bookmark here

I think I heard Haibara-kun’s voice… at the same time, it’s not.Bookmark here

What was that…?Bookmark here

An anxiety started to grow in my heart. I have a bad feeling about this.Bookmark here

“Senpai, let’s go to everyone. We’re having a flower viewing.” Haibara-kun faced me again with his gentle smile. It made me shrug the whisper that I heard out of my mind, it might just be my imagination.Bookmark here

Wait… Flower viewing?!Bookmark here

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