After the briefing session for the external students, I headed to the salon in the east wing where Sara-sama and Soujuu-sama were. The external students all seem to be going somewhere. I wasn’t spoken to by anyone. My poor rented house was in the way of me actually greeting them anyway…
The east wing was a post-modern style building. Was it built in the 80s? It felt out of place within the school campus. The other buildings are more classical. When I entered the east wing, I was stopped by a middle-aged man on the reception counter on the left.
“May I know who refer you here?”
Is this a referral salon? Is this the so-called no first visitors without invitation..
“Hongou Sara. I am Kujouin Reiko.”
The Oji-san at the reception checked the notebook at hand and told me that Sara-sama was in Room 305 on the third floor. I went up the spiral stairs without using the elevator. It’s like a staircase in an old European apartment I saw in a movie. But strangely, it blends with the modern interior design. Is this really a post-modern architecture?
When I knocked on the door of room No. 305, Sara-sama welcomed me.
“I’ve been expecting you!”
“Thank you for your invitation.”
The room Sara-sama and Soujuu-sama are in is a simple room with a sofa, table and chess board. TV and games are also there. I was expecting a gorgeous rococo room, but it has a modern feel to it. Oh, this sofa!
“Is it a Cassina sofa?”
I muttered unintentionally. When I was a junior high school student, I didn’t want to stay at home so I had immersed myself in the municipal library on a daily basis. Leaving the demented Mary-sama to Fuki-san. I often looked at the books with various paintings of interior designs. It was a beautiful world. I did it to escape reality.
It was especially harsh when I was in the second year of junior high. The demented Mary-sama who was agitated at Fuki-san, and Fuki-san who was treated as a thief by Mary-sama. The relief was that Mari-sama’s cursing was in French. Although I love Fuki-san, I forced her to take care of Mary-sama. After I saw Fuki-san being beaten with a bamboo ruler by Mary-sama, I finally stopped running. Fuki-san, she had always been persevering. All for my sake.
“Reiko-sama! You’re doing it again!”
I heard Sara-sama’s voice. I guess she saw me staring blankly again, I heard her voice clearly.
“I’m sorry. I’m basically always in solitude, so when I think to myself in public, I often look like this.”
When I made such an excuse, Sara-sama’s face looked all but ready to cry. Well, words like solitude sound gloomy. I’ve been like this since a junior high school student. Botchi. Botchi. Botchi. I think it sounds pretty cute.
“Oh, please don’t be like that! Sara-sama, please show your smile!”
“That’s right, if Sara looks sad, wouldn’t Reiko-sama be sad as well?”
When Soujuu-sama said that, Sara-sama raised her head.
“I’m surprisingly fine with all this, so you need not sympathise with me. Then about my name, I don’t need any honorifics. Please call me Reiko. According to Sakurada Yuria, I’m supposed to be some villainous young lady, I’m actually no young lady but a commoner, no, I’m just a poor bumpkin.
“Then, how about Rei-chan?”
“Soujuu, you just have to say that huh!”
The two discussed for a bit and in the end, they settled with Rei-chan.
“Then, please call me Sara-chan.”
Sara-san blushes and says while being all tsun tsun.
“No, isn’t it rude to Sara-sama who is an internal student.”
“We don’t care if you’re an internal or an external, we just care about who you are. Sara sounds blunt and seems scary at times, so it’s easy to misunderstand her. ”
Sara-sama crosses her arms and tilts her face.
“I don’t like people to take me lightly. Whether they’re internals or externals, I held no distinction in that regard.”
“Well, it’s because Sara is like this that she doesn’t have any friends.”
Sara-sama pushes Soju-sama.
“It hurts Sara! She has no friends but her face is widely known. She is the granddaughter of the chairman of HONGO Pharmaceutical after all.”
“Wow, the daughter of the HONGO Pharmaceutical who developed that new immuno-suppressant!”
A year ago, a newspaper printed about the development of a new immuno-suppressant that had entered clinical trials. HONGO Pharmaceuticals is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
“That’s right. You see, that’s the main point. Sara has such a nasty character because of that.”
“Ara, so you didn’t think I’d want to come too close to the two of you?”
Sara-sama shakes her head.
“If you had already known about me back then, you won’t ask me where the infirmary is.”
“Fufufu. I guess I’ve done something really amazing huh.”
I laughed. The tsundere young lady Sara-sama looks like a clumsy person. On the other hand, Soujuu-sama seems to be more tactful.
“Well then, have lunch at the café with us, Rei-chan.”
“I brought my own bento. Is it okay to go to the café?”
“Hmm? We’ll be treating you to lunch.”
Soujuu-sama is generous. Giving me lunch when we’ve known each other for less than a day. However, I have my own bento.
“While I’m very much grateful for your kindness, it would be a pity should my bento be wasted.”
Soujuu-sama looked at me in surprise. He probably didn’t think he would be declined. Right now I’m wondering if I should have my bento in the evening or eat it at noon.
“Let’s go have lunch together!”
Sara-sama grabbed my arm and left the salon room. Soujuu-sama soon follows.
The café terrace on the first floor is exclusively for the salon members. They have the exclusive privilege over the salon, and the endowment cost, which is over a certain amount, is given by only those internal students since elementary school. So I obviously am not eligible for the salon, but I was invited by a salon member, Sara-sama.
“Isn’t it such a stylish café!”
It is very different from the snack-shop replacement organic café I knew. I can tell despite never entering the organic café, I can see it when I walked by it after all. The café here has great furnishings. There is a galle lamp in the seat where we sat.
“Maybe this galle lamp is a real one?”
When I asked timidly, Soujuu-sama replied in amazement that there’s no way it would be a replica. Is this something common? I’m in no position to pay for it if I were to break it. I’m terrified of this café and don’t see myself going in and out hereafter. I have no right to use it, and I can’t afford the meal in this café. It’s even more surprising that the price is not listed on the menu. Is it the same as a sushi restaurant? I’ve never been to a sushi restaurant in the first place. All my knowledge is from the library books and Mary-sama, and the things that Fuki-san taught me.
The two both ordered a light meal. Perhaps I’m getting more conscious about my bento. Looking at the other seats, dishes are being placed one after another. It is like a so-called menu course. Do not make light of it even if it’s a light snack. Sara-sama’s sandwich and Soujuu-sama’s baguette sandwich are carefully arranged. To have such splendorous lunches right before my eyes. The bento I served has boiled wild vegetables, fried eggs and onigiri wrapped in bamboo skin. By the way, the bamboo skin was taken from the back mountain the previous year. I am going to gather it again this year.
I thank the blessings of the mountains and the rice that Ooya-san shared. Eggs are purchased at the supermarket. As one would expect, it’s impossible to be self-sufficient. Sara-sama and Soujuu-sama are staring absentmindedly.
“Ah, were you surprised at the poor lunch box? You can get this wild vegetable at the mountain back home.”
I wonder if it’s absurd for the two of them.
“Was this made by Rei-chan yourself? Ano, can you exchange one onigiri and this one sandwich? A bamboo wrapped onigiri seems like one from the olden days?”
Soujuu-sama gives me an open sandwich with black grains that might be caviar and grabs an onigiri.
“You’re sly Soujuu! Exchange with me too!”
Sara-sama asked the waiter to serve a sandwich full of dry-cured ham. I handed the onigiri to Sara-sama first and ate the open sandwich given by Soujuu-sama. For the first time in my life I get to eat caviar. It was piled on top of a sliced boiled egg, so I don’t know if it’s delicious. I’m sure it’s probably delicious. However, I already know the quality of the bread. It’s very fragrant. This is a magnificent bread! Bread festival!
“This onigiri is delicious! I’ll be having Sara’s share too.”
“I won’t allow it. This is my share!”
I eat the dry-cured ham sandwich that Sara-sama gave me. The tomato and lettuce are fresh. The cream cheese is delicious too. Aah, delicious things are wonderful.
“Both the sandwiches are delicious. Thank you for your consideration.”
I thanked them for their consideration. I wouldn’t know the taste of this café’s sandwich had they not exchanged my onigiri for sandwiches.
“What is it you’re saying perchance?”
“What is it you’re saying?”
The two of them look at me with baffling expressions. So I told them I was thankful that they exchanged my onigiri and let me eat some delicious sandwich.
“It’s not really about such consideration. Rei-chan’s onigiri tastes just as good as one would expect. It’s really good!”
“Yeah, it is really delicious! I want to eat more!”
Unfortunately I only brought two rice balls.
“Thank you for your compliment. I think it’s delicious because I use some freshly polished rice. I’ll make it again if you like.”
“Well then, can I eat the side dish?”
“Please go ahead. I don’t know if it will be to your liking though.”
Surely, such poor cooking won’t suit their taste. As I thought of that, the response I got is unexpected.
“Mmm, it’s delicious!”
“Truly, It tastes exquisite.”
Exquisite? Since it was Fuki-san who taught me how to cook, I guess the taste of the chef at Kujouin who taught Fuki-san was exquisite. Both of them ate the wild vegetables and fried eggs in the bento.
(TN: A humble way of thanking for meals)
“Make them again!”
“Although this may be shameless, can I ask you to make them again?”
My poor cooking seems to have been surprisingly popular. Maybe they find it delicious because it’s uncommon to them.
“Yes, if I have another opportunity. Just tell me in advance and I will make extra bento.”
I’ve been eating rice alone, so I feel happy just being around the table with someone. I wish we could have lunch together again.
“Well then, let’s go to Ichijou-sensei and hear about Sakurada Yuria.”
“Thank you, Sara-sama.”
“It’s fine, we are your friends.”
Sara-sama turned her face away. On the way to the infirmary, we told Soujuu-sama about the incident this morning.
“Sakurada Yuria huh. She’s a high-handed person with a bad personality, but I don’t think there was anything wrong with that.”
Apparently Sakurada Yuria-sama has been doing some weird things recently. I hope she gets better soon.
“We met her just when we got off the car this morning right? At that time, she looked at us and was idly muttering about a stalking horse!”
“It’s probably not me, maybe it’s Sara”
What’s going on in Sakurada Yuria-sama’s brain? What sort of stalking horse is Sara-sama?
“The angry Sara-sama is also cute, but the one with a smile is even cuter.”
“Eh! Ah! That’s right, you promised to call me Sara-chan.”
Sara-sama’s face turns red again. This shy face is also cute. We are already in front of the infirmary while Soujuu-sama is making fun of Sara-sama.
After this, we hear a mysterious story from Ichijou-sensei.