The Cute Girl Sitting Next to Me is a Manipulator but I'm Smarter
The two of us finished our meals and made our way back out to the street.
"What now?" I asked
She thought about it for a little.
"Let's have a walk around, there are lots of shops we can have a look at~"
It was quite a busy street, the quintessential commercial zone. I wanted to go home and read my novel but I guess since I was already out here I might as well have a walk around. Fujiharu-san seemed to be enjoying herself so I didn't really mind hanging outside.
We walked side-by-side along the street, there were lots of bright shops with very decorated storefronts. I've always enjoyed these types of places—maybe it was due to the fact that I spent my childhood in a very technologically advanced lab-like facility. The warm sunlight shining down on us was quite pleasant, conjuring a calm atmosphere.
The more I walked with Fujiharu-san, the more I wondered.
Is this what she used to do with each of her seatmates?
It was hard to tell what was genuine and what was fake.
After a little while, something seemed to have caught her eye.
"Mizuhara-kun, let's go in there!"
It was a small local jewellery store. It wasn't especially high-end, however, its design was just clean enough to emanate a feeling of quality. There were large displays right by the window, however, Fujiharu-san wanted to go inside. As we entered, we were quickly brushed by a wave of cool air, the entire store was effectively air-conditioned, producing a near-optimum environment.
I guess this was the strategy of these types of stores—to make the entire experience as pleasant as possible.
She looked around, observing the various pieces of jewellery on display. I didn't take much interest in them myself. I looked at some of the price tags and they were just as you'd expect—I wasn't really all that taken aback since jewellery was always this expensive. The place had all you could think of, rings, necklaces, watches, they were all here.
I awkwardly followed Fujiharu-san around as she moved from area to area, looking at all the different products. All of a sudden, she turned around and looked back at me.
"Hehe, aren't you embarrassed to be here?"
"Don't worry, I've looked at all I wanted to, we can leave now."
I wasn't sure exactly what types of items she was looking at but I guess she'd had enough.
As we continued to walk along the street, I thought back to my time in the Ideal Human Project—it was the reason why I was so devoid of interpersonal relationships. Well, to be fair, dating wasn't exactly banned there, it was more like it bred an environment which made it almost impossible to have an exciting relationship.
There were no restaurants, no recreational areas, nothing that would allow for young romantics to enjoy themselves. In a white facility, inside white rooms, there was only so much you could do. We also didn't get to spend a lot of time with each other, each Outcome had their own room and their own routine—it was very rare that we would get free time.
Then again, I should be speaking for myself. It was more than one time when I'd witnessed a relationship occur within the Ideal Human Project. It wasn't like the relationships were built to fail anyways, there appeared, at least on the outside, to be as functional as any other.
I guess it was more that I personally never got in a relationship, I never built any friendships, let alone a girlfriend. It wasn't like I was completely devoid of emotion however, it was more that I could control my emotions much more than the others. Romance is formed when two sides show affection for each other but I would never show my true feelings on my face.
It was a coping mechanism—you could say.
It was still possible for me to fall for someone, it was still possible for me to truly enjoy spending time with someone. However, I always control my emotions to the point where no one else can tell what I'm thinking.
It was a strategy which worked for my time during the Ideal Human Project anyways.
I was the first test subject admitted and the final one who remained.
"Mizuhara-san, do you go shopping often?"
"Well, I have to buy groceries since I need to make lunch and stuff."
"Ah, but doesn't the boarding facility provide them for you?"
"They do, but I like to make my own food."
She giggled a little bit.
"Hehe, but your own food is always so basic, wouldn't it be easier to just eat the school food?"
"I just like to eat healthier and keep track of how much I'm consuming."
"Alright, that makes sense I guess."
She grabbed my arm.
"You know, you should try something new. All I've seen you eat the past couple of days has been fruit and some pretty bland sandwiches."
"Um, I don't really mind them though."
"How about this, let's go to the fruit and veg store and we can buy some new things. You can tell me what you want and I'll think of a dish with them."
"You don't have t—"
"It's okay~ I want you to try some of my cooking! You can tell me what ingredients you want and see me make it, it'll be as healthy as you want."
Before I had time to respond, she quickly pulled me into the small grocery store.
"So, what do you like?" She asked.
"Um, I guess I like potatoes... and cauliflower."
Those were the two vegetables I ate the most—I guess I preferred them to some extent.
"Hm... ah! I'll make you some cauliflower soup! I'm really good at it, trust me."
"She walked through the aisles and grabbed some ingredients she needed.
After the purchase, we made our way back out.
"Um, but where are you going to cook this?" I asked.
She thought about it for a little.
"We can go over to my place, we've got a pretty big kitchen and I've got all the utensils I need."
"Are you sure?"
After a brief moment of silence, she lowered her voice.
"...you know, I could tell you got the fried chicken for me, it was really nice of you..."
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