Chapter 22: Cute

Before I knew it, Toho-san paid the bill for the clothes she picked up.

Naturally, I tried stopping her once I saw the price tag, but her stubbornness was incredible.

She pushed me away in the end with a single sentence,

“It’s me who wants to buy it.”

Was this because I was weak of heart? I panicked a little when I thought about it.

“Sorry for being too quick, but may I have you change into this?”

“Ah, yeah…”

Tojo-san smiled like a blooming flower as I accepted the paper bag filled with the clothes she had purchased.

The pure, unadorned expression on her face… didn’t feel fake, and it was somewhat confusing.

As I thought, she was really happy being able to buy clothes for me.
Still, I can’t accept this kindness head-on because I don’t know what I’m worth.

―For now, I took my new clothes and borrowed a fitting room.

When was the last time I ever put my hands through sleeves that smelled of fabric softener or detergent?

I looked at my reflection in the large mirror in the small space blocked by curtains.

Yeah, maybe it was not so bad.

I wonder if she is able to choose the right clothes for people thanks to how she has a good eye for people.

Whatever the case may be, I accepted that Tojo-san’s analytical skills were genuine.

“Sorry for the wait…”

“Hawawaa!”

“Hm?”

As I timidly walked out of the fitting room in embarrassment, Tojo-san, who waited outside, suddenly made a strange noise.

She clamped her mouth shut and looked at me with sparkling eyes for some reason. 

She must have noticed my confusion because, after a single cough, she regained her composure.

“It suits you well.
It was worth the careful selection!”

“It’s nice to hear you say that, but I still have to pay for it―”

“Haruyuki, please don’t think like that.
I’m just a terrible woman who enjoys dressing you.”

She’s not just awful but also cunning.

If she puts it like this, my stale mind can’t think of any words to say back.

In fact, I was starting to worry that I’d be the bad guy if I treated her generosity with disrespect.

As a last stand, I’ll at least wear the clothes Tojo-san bought me only in front of her.

“If it’s not too late today, I’ll introduce you to my favourite hairdresser next time.
We’ll make sure you’re perfect from top to bottom.”

“… Let’s take it easy.”

“Then may I ask you to accompany me shopping next?”

“Yeah, that was the plan originally.”

“Thank you.
Let’s go round that way first, then.”

I walked through the shopping mall, following Tojo-san.

I realized that I was more frivolous than I thought, perhaps because I had little experience going out with a girl.

Merely walking around while talking about nothing else is also more fun than I imagined.

“This is where I buy my everyday clothes.
It’s reasonably priced and very helpful.”

The shop where Tojo-san stopped was a clothing store common people went to.
It was one I was familiar with.

You could buy T-shirts for between 1,000 and 2,000 yen each, and a decent range of jackets cost around 5,000 yen.
[EN: 1 USD = 125 Yen.]

“I tend to buy many things because they’re cheap.
Is that okay?”

“Of course.
I’ll carry all your luggage.”

“Thank you very much.
Then, let’s―”

Saying this, she went to a shelf lined with T-shirts.

She then took one look at the clothes lined up there and tossed them into her basket.

She was like a housewife at a supermarket sale.

“I wanted a shirt to wear under my uniform.
Summer is coming soon, and I thought it would be better to have more clothes for everyday wear.”

“Oh, yeah…”

“I’ll buy one for Haruyuki-kun too.
Size L is fine, right?”

I nodded as my clothing size was indeed L.

She then went to the men’s T-shirts and started throwing them into the basket one after the other.
They were mainly black and white clothes.

She was so quick to act on her word that I couldn’t even stop her.

(Not good… I’m starting to get numb fast.)

The high prices of the earlier purchases make all these T-shirts look cheap.

Of course, that’s for Tojo-san, while for me, a thousand yen is enough money to live for a week.

I would have liked to live without forgetting that feeling, but―I’m afraid that has already started to fade a little.

“As long as I get the T-shirts, there’s nothing else I want in this shop.
Shall we move on?”

“Ah… got it.”

“Um, are you all right? If it looks like it’s too much for you to hold, I can cut it down a little more.”

“No! I’m fine about that.”

I took the basket from her and made my way to the cash register.

It was indeed heavy for clothes, but it didn’t matter.

The problem was the final price of everything.

After the first shop, the next stop was a brand-name clothing store.

The prices of each piece of clothing jumped dramatically, and clothes were stylishly displayed in a way that even my parents could no longer afford when they were alive.

The trousers closest to me were 30,000―No, let’s not look any further.

I later learnt that the shop where I bought my clothes, and even this shop, are still small in the fashion world.

There are shops in this world where a single piece of clothing costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and some rich people only buy their clothes from such places.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand.

“Since we got Haruyuki-kun new clothes, I thought I’d get new matching ones too.”

After describing why she came to the shop, Tojo-san rummaged through the clothes laid out.

To be honest, I felt uncomfortable in this shop, probably because it was a lot of women’s clothing.

I felt strangely ashamed of myself for being so subconsciously nervous, so I decided to follow behind Tojo-san while trying my best to mend my expression.

“I’m sorry for the suddenness, Haruyuki-kun.
Between these two, which one do you think suits me better?”

“Eh?”

I barely managed to calm myself down when I got approached.

Tojo-san had two outfits.

One side has a pink below-the-knee skirt that stops above the waist against a white dress made of a light knitted material.

And on the other, a loose-fitting light blue shoulder-length shirt and slightly dull white half-pants.

Both were different shades of the same colour, making it moderately difficult to choose.

“Since a while ago, these two have been competing with each other, and I would like Haruyuki-kun to choose one of them…”

“Ah, aah…”

Once again, I could say that both definitely suit Tojo-san.

She herself knew this, which is why she got torn between the two.

“If I had to say which one it is, I would say this one.”

After much deliberation, I pointed to the white knitted outfit and the pink skirt.

Since she asked, knowing that both would look good on her, it was a matter of my taste.

“Haruyuki-kun, do you prefer this one?”

“It’s a bit embarrassing when you put it like that, but… Well, I guess that’s the way it goes.”

“Then I’ll buy this one.
I want to match Haruyuki-kun’s taste.”

Even though she had just made her choice, Tojo-san looked quite happy as she made her way to the cash register.

Then, after paying, she borrowed a fitting room and came back in the clothes she had just bought.

“How do you like it?”

‘I think… it looks really good on you.
How can I put it…? You look cute.”

“Hau!”

When I told her frankly, Tojo-san furrowed her face and held her chest.

For a moment, worry welled up in me, but I realized that she was smiling ecstatically, and I was puzzled.

“Haruyuki-kun said… that I’m cute… Fufufufu…”

―I think I’ll leave her alone for a while.

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