Chapter 12:


Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

Upon opening the door, I turned on the lights. The first thing I saw was the comfort of my living room, placed conveniently next to the kitchen on the right-hand side.

“So, this is what your home looks like?” Ayane asked as I rushed to the refrigerator.

“Yep,” I said.

I scoured for something to eat.

“Oh thank god, I finally found it!” I said.

“Found what?”

“Instant noodles!”

Ayane ran to the fridge and tried pulling my arms away from it.

“No, don’t eat that! Let me look at the fridge. I’ll make you something.”

“Well, it’s not like we have any ingredients.”

She let go of me.

“Then go get some! I’ll make a list of everything you need to get.”


With the ingredients in hand, I had to go out in that cold air I hated oh so much. I didn’t expect Ayane to act the way she did there. Despite normally being shy, there had been many moments on this date where her passions seeped through. She’s a bookworm who loves to cook and goes full-on tsundere with her parents. I may sound annoyed right now, but I meant it when I said I was glad to have spent my time with her.

I felt a slight difference in how my mouth felt when I arrived at my house. I guess it was another smile. Jeez. I really did start to feel like a new person. I scoffed at this feeling once I entered my house again.

“I’m back!”

“There you are. Now I can finish the meal.”

When I took the time to look at Ayane, I saw her in an apron. How did she get that? Whatever. I found it cute, so I didn’t bother questioning it.

Once I sat the ingredients down in the kitchen, I asked her a question.

“What do you want to do?”

“We could put on the TV while I’m cooking.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

I then grabbed the remote located on the Kotatsu. The small TV made it clear why we never used the couch in our house. The kotatsu was all we needed anyway, although I’d often find myself falling asleep in it. While that was what excited me, though, it was the TV that excited Ayane.

“Ooh, I know that one!” she said while she frantically pointed at the screen.

“I’m not 5. You don’t need to point at a TV for me to understand what it is.”

She didn’t say anything. Her face just went red as she continued preparing the meal. I felt bad about ending it here, though, so I asked a question.

“Is it a light novel adaptation?”

Instantly, the sparkles in her eyes came back.

“It is.”

“I’m guessing you’ve read the source then.”

“I have.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot to ask this; do you watch anime?”

“Only when it comes on. Outside of reading, I’m not much of an otaku.”

“I can certainly relate to that.”

With the conversation running its course, we simply enjoyed the episode as Ayane finished cooking our meal. Once it was done, my nose had never been happier.

“It smells good.”


Ayane didn’t look used to the positive reinforcement, as she looked down, hiding her face. She looked like she could trip any moment now. She didn’t end up having any difficulties though, as she successfully put our plates onto the kotatsu. The way she did so seemed so graceful and reformed, unlike the distressed tone she’d often give.

I didn’t bother thinking about this though, as I longed to take a bite. Well, a longing would be a lie. I’ve never cared about the taste of my meals, after all. I never had anyone at home to make one for me. Perhaps that’s why, when taking the bite, my eyes widened, and I looked straight toward Ayane. Having swallowed quickly, I failed to savor the taste all I could, but I wanted to so badly.

I couldn’t focus on much, but I did see Ayane’s face. She clearly didn’t know how to feel, until her eyes focused more intently on my face, and with her mouth opened ever so slightly, I could tell she found herself in a worried shock. Just before she made this face too, I felt something wet in my eyes. Huh? Were those tears? I haven’t felt them since grade school. Why feel them now?

As these thoughts permeated my mind, Ayane found a tissue box for me to blow my nose, and once I regained my composure, she asked a question.

“Was my food that bad?”

With her left hand, she tried to hide the red of her face, while with her right, she tugged at the chest of my uniform. Given how I didn’t predict my reaction to her food, I couldn’t predict hers either. To put it simply, I didn’t know how to respond.

“I loved it…” I whispered.


“I LOVED IT!!!” I yelled!

I then proceeded to finish the meal at a blazing, aggressive pace.

I didn’t lie in my statement. I’d never eaten something that good in my whole life.

When I finished, I mustered up a smile. Instead of the light smiles I’d grown accustomed to, I instead felt every ounce of tension my cheekbone could provide. This smile was one I never felt before in my life, but I loved it.

Ayane didn’t have any words to describe what she just witnessed. She just stood still as a statue. I, however, did have something to say.

“That was the best meal I’ve had in my life!”

Ayane jumped a little, unable to face me.

“Huh… y- you liked it that much?”

“I did! I don’t think I could eat instant noodles again!”

Hearing my genuine response, she looked at me, red in the face.

“Th… th… thanks…”

While not seeming used to validation, I hoped my words got my thoughts across, even if I doubted they did, so I continued speaking as I stood up.

“If only I could always eat your cooking!”


“You heard me!”

“Well… you can come to my house next time…”

“I’d love to!”

I kept my smile once Ayane started cleaning the kitchen. If every day would be like this with her, then I’d never want it to end.

With her apron now off, ready to eat her meal, Ayane looked at a photograph next to the TV and asked a question.

“Are those your parents?”

I took a look at the photo and quietly responded.

“Yeah… they are.”


I didn’t leave much room for the conversation to continue, so the silence we’ve heard so often throughout this date was maintained. While this wasn’t a subject I enjoyed talking about, I felt like I should’ve explained it in more detail.

“It was taken when I was in grade school. My dad refuses to let it go. Whenever I take it off, he always puts it back there.”

“Why so?”

“He doesn’t want to forget Mom.”


“Because she died the year that photo was taken.”

Ayane had no words. It all just made sense to her. Despite this, words still came out of my mouth.

“I wish I asked you out sooner, Ayane-chan.”

“To me, it didn’t matter when. I’m just glad you did,” she said with a smile.

“I can’t disagree with that. I just…”

I didn’t know where to continue from here, so I changed the subject.

“Is there anything else you want to do?”

“Well, that video game console has me intrigued. What can we play on it?

“There’s a great kart racer that I play with Satoshi-kun.”

“Let’s play that then!”

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