Episode 43 – Unexpected surprise return



“I’m home.”
“Welcome home! I’ve been waiting for you!”

I hear Saara’s cheerful voice as I return to my room in the apartment.
As I start to turn on the exhaust fan, she greets me at the door in her apron.
I’m back in my own room…. be told I’m home. …… No, I’m not going to think about it.

Perhaps from now on, this will become the norm.
I have to get used to it.
Will there ever come a day when I can get used to ……?

“Sorry it took so long.”
“I can wait as long as I want, because that’s what the food is for, which I eat too! Anyway, I got some kintoki-mame (red kidney beans) that Sora-kun had made and left for me!”

As expected, I was sorry to make her wait until this time, but she said she was eating the leftovers instead of snacking.
Sweetened beans go well with green tea, and if you make them yourself, you can easily adjust the amount you eat.
If she was eating what I had made, it would make me feel less guilty.

While I was changing into my clothes, Saara lit the stove.

“Are you going to start cooking something now?”
“If something doesn’t taste good reheated, it’s best freshly made, after all.”

Along with these words, a sizzling sound poured into my ears all at once.
The high-pitched crackling sound tells me exactly what this is.

“Sora kun took charge of the vegetables, so I thought I’d go for the fish, which has a bit more punch.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Because I don’t think I’d ever fry anything if I lived alone.”
“That’s right~”

Saara holds a stainless steel net in one hand to cover the top of the frying pan so that the oil doesn’t splash.
She’s meticulous about making my room messy, and she’s a very attentive person no matter where she goes.

“I’m sorry, I’ll wipe it up properly later.”
“Then, will you leave the washing up to me?”
“Okay, then please take care of it”

If I take away the responsibility for cleaning at a time like this, Saara herself might feel unnecessary apologies.
However, it would be a burden on her if I left her to do everything from cooking to cleaning up, too.
Therefore, I think this kind of relationship is the best for both of us.
We have become accustomed to this kind of distance between us.

It has been about three months since Saara moved in.
The memories of the old days are now in the distant past, and I’ve come to know the current Saara quite well.

What has changed.
What has remained the same.
And what has changed since we met.

Both of these are things that Saara and I have in common.

Well, the change before we met was overwhelmingly greater in Saara, and the change in me was also greatly influenced by Saara.
Furthermore, I recently found out that my hobby even started with Saara.

……Maybe Ayato Saara’s influence is the main factor in shaping Iida Sora’s existence.

“…… Hmm? What?”

I take out a terrine and cut it out, trying not to show it on my face.
The moment the jelly-like object appeared, there was an exclamation of amazement from the person next to me. I was surprised.

“It’s so beautiful, isn’t it too amazing! Where did you learn how to make jelly?”
“I remember when it came up in French cuisine, I had searched for it.”
“It’s really like you to make it with that, isn’t it, Sora kun?

Saara laughed in amazement as she soaked up the oil from the fries on a sheet of kitchen paper.
The freshly fried fries look really delicious.
My belly is suddenly complaining of a hollow replenishment, too, as if I’ve just remembered.

Saara quickly put them on a plate and pulled something out of the …… fridge.

“What’s that?”
“It’s homemade tartar sauce!”

That sounds delicious.
I’ve never been tempted to make my own tartar sauce because the quality of these condiments on the market is so high.

When my terrine was on the table, Saara took a picture of the finished product.

“It looks delicious! Itadakimasu!”

First, I take a bite of my food. I’m not the type of person who can make something while tasting it, but I’m worried about how well it’s done.
However, it seems my fears were unfounded. It’s more than good enough.

“It’s perfect. Sora-kun is a real girl power max, definitely better than me. In fact, you are the ultimate beauty in your own right.”
“Is that a compliment?”
“Because if I’m the princess, Sora-kun is the queen.”
“We’ve become mother and daughter. ……”

As usual, Saara’s vocabulary of compliments is unique.
Conversations like this make my days more enjoyable.

And while it’s nice to just be told what …… to think of a dish, it’s refreshing and interesting to hear the kind of feedback that no one else is saying.
I’m sure it’s because of Saara’s influence that I myself have started visiting the cooking club.

I put the tartar sauce on the fries and put them in my mouth.
The texture and heat of the freshly fried fries on my lower lip, and the temperature of the cold tartar sauce on my upper lip.
The harmonious harmony in my mouth stimulates my stomach, and the more I chew, the more I taste…

— W-What!?

I move my jaw and check the taste with my tongue and nose, each time blinding myself with astonishment.
This tartar sauce is no ordinary tartar sauce. ……!

I look to the front and see Saara, who has been staring at me eating the whole time, her hand over her mouth and her shoulders shaking.

“….!! F-Fufufufu Great success!!”

Her appearance was exactly like Saara’s when she fed me wasabi pickles on the day I moved in.
A mischievous face peeking out from the innocent and beautiful girl.

“From the first time I cooked for you, I was ready to surprise you, Sora kun, all the time.”
“Ah, yeah..”
“But you know, being caught off guard by such an abundance of preparation, You can’t keep surprising me, can you?”

Saara scraped the tartar sauce she had made herself with her chopsticks and deftly picked at the small pieces of grains.

“So today it’s my turn. I’m not the one who’s going to be getting beat up forever, okay?”

I gulped, salivating at the sight of the somewhat sexy predator’s eyes.

I was completely caught off guard.
Ayato had originally surprised me with wasabi-zuke rice balls and was delighted.
Saara had worked hard to cook for me, to take care of me, and to surprise me.
There was no way she would end up being surprised by me.

The fact that we had been communicating with each other so that we wouldn’t have a cooking conflict had backfired.
The surprise from the homemade condiments, which had little impact on the amount of food on the table, was completely unpredictable.

It appears that today will be Saara’s turn to fight back.

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