I finished up work and was on my way out of the coffee shop.
“I’d like to ask you to take the evening shift tomorrow. One of the university’s smaller clubs booked the shop for a party.”
“Okay. Jindou, should I walk you home before it starts, or are you fine on your own?”
“You’re coming over to my house? I’ll prepare tea cakes!”
“I’m just going to walk you home, okay?”
I got on the bus with Jindou and Sasashino. Since we were leaving much later than yesterday, there weren’t any kindergarteners on the bus.
“Based on where you guys live, it makes sense to walk Jindou home and Sasashino after her?”
“Thanks. Sorry for making you do this.”
“Shirasugi-senpai, Sasashino-senpai’s parents offered to come pick her up, but she declined!”
“Eh-, Eh?! How do you know?!”
“No matter how cleverly you hide it, we’ve spent countless hours withー”
“If your parents are home, Sasashino, then we can ask them to pick you up at the bus stop, yeah?”
Jindou, how did you manage to get away with talking like this while getting good at latte art, you!
“If you don’t mind, can you still walk me home?”
Jindou wasn’t happy with that.
“We’ll be alone every day after work starting from tomorrow.”
“Why are you so calm about that?!”
It’s because I’m tired of dealing with you two.
We got off at our stop. We walked Jindou home, then Sasashino and I started walking toward her house.
“She’s a lively girl, isn’t she?”
“She’s a mood-maker. Serious when she’s working, though, and very clear when she’s on- and off-task.”
Since she’d returned from the future, she’d already memorized the menus of the coffee shop and western-style bar, and knew where to find ingredients, tableware, and the like. Not to mention that she knew the preferences of the regulars already, which Miyano-san seemed to appreciate. To be honest, she’s much more helpful than I am. I’d call it a difference in experience (of the future).
Sasashino glanced over at me.
“Ehh, that’s how you’d rate her?”
“Didn’t you see how she worked? She deserves it, don’t you think?”
“To be honest, I underestimated her. She’s quick on her feet and works hard.”
Sasashino also seems to have some respect for Jindou.
“I hate it, but her latte art was really good.”
“Miyano-san told me he’s considering putting it on the menu.”
Though it looks like it’ll disappear just as quickly if Jindou quits.
As we walked down the street together, I asked her something that had been bothering me for a bit.
“Why do you hate team sports that much?”
She was on the volleyball team during junior high, so there has to be a reason why she dislikes them.
She frowned, but since we’re still too far from her house for her not to, she started talking.
“You start seeing people’s flaws.”
She replied with a few words, sighing as she looked up at the night sky.
“I know there’s no changing that you don’t like them, so I don’t blame you for not wanting to do them. But I can’t agree to what you’re asking of me just like that.”
“Are you asking me if I’m serious?”
She asked me to pair up with her for the tournament. I wasn’t going to be lazy anyway, but now, I’ll have to work even harder.
Sasashino looked at me with a smile of resignation.
“I thought that by pointing out their lack of motivation, the ones that didn’t leave would all be motivated. But it didn’t happen. They stopped liking me and shunned me away.”
“Is that why you stopped?”
“Yes. I was the best at what I did, but I disrupted their teamwork. That’s why I was excluded.”
No wonder she didn’t want to be the class leader for volleyball. Even though it’s an event everyone looks forward to, it’s hard to form a team that only has members devoted to winning. They’ll inevitably stick with their friends. There’s no such thing as a team chosen based on merit and devotion alone. That is, there would be the issue of teamwork.
“To keep a team together, you have to let them be lazy, you have to let them relax, you have to compromise. That’s why I hate team sports. It’s much easier if I just give it my all and win or lose based on that. Makes sense, right?”
I guess it’s different in the professional world, but it’s harder to do in school classes and club activities.
“You can’t get where you want with those around you, so you write it off, huh?”
“I heard that from a certain shut-in I know. I think it’s not like that, though. You can give it your best and still lose. It doesn’t matter if you’re alone or not.”
That’s why I give everything my all. I don’t have any talent or skill, but still, I don’t like losing.
“You knew about my competitive nature from when we did this in your past futures, so you chose me to pair up with, right? Then, I’ll try my best… to lose.”
“The first time I heard ‘you’ say it, I was only half-listening, but you always fight until your last breath. Always, always…”
After a pause that felt like she changed her mind, she lightly tapped me on my arm.
“We’re going to win the tournament! And we’ll make it to the inter-grade competition!”
“Alright, let’s do it.”
…Something about what she said feels off…
No, I’m thinking too much.
“Shirasugi, why don’t you come buy a tennis racket with me?”
“The school rents out tennis rackets, right?”
I remember last year some of us rented them. Though in the end, the tennis club won all the games, and they had their own equipment. This year though, this girl from the future is involved, so there’ll be some competition. I feel sorry for the tennis club members.
“Have you heard about ‘shopping dates’?”
“I’ll add it to the dictionary.”
“For how quick-witted you are sometimes, you sure are slow in the weirdest ways. Well, okay, what’s the plan?”
“There’s a spotting goods store by the station, right? Do they sell them there?”
“Yeah, they do.”
“Then let’s go tomorrow after school. I’m taking the evening shift, so I’ll have time.”
“And then after our shopping date, you’ll go pick up my kouhai from her house and head off to work with her, you devil.”
“Sounds bad when you say it out loud.”
But is it my fault? Talk about being pushed in a corner.
“I live in an apartment here, so we can split up. And if my dad finds out, he’ll beat you half to death.”
“Don’t worry, he’ll do it so it won’t leave any bruises.”
“That’s even scarier.”
What kind of work does the man do…?
Just as I parted ways with Sasashino, my phone rang. It was as though they knew when I’d be free.
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