「We were in the wrong.」
2 of the club members are prostrating themselves in deep apology.
「Forgetting our Three Supports that we proudly upheld, we attempted to do battle against chocolates. Only now do we realize our foolishness. Following that, we humbly request guidance in obtaining chocolates just in time for Valentines…」
Behind him is the club member who’s destroying the book, and another club member who’s grasping his knees while talking unintelligibly.
It’s a little chaotic.
They’re appealing to Arioka-senpai that they just want chocolates.
Arioka-senpai nods in agreement.
I walk down the messy clubroom like a light bulldozer, and stop the club member from burning the book with a headbutt.
「Everyone, I fully understand your feelings of helplessness. Noda, give it to them.」
I take out the chocolates from the shopping bag I left at the entrance.
These chocolates are somewhat rich, and they’re on limited sale on Valentines.
「Noda! Who would’ve thought! You’re so considerate~」
The club members are now prostrating themselves in deep gratitude, happy that they can finally eat chocolates on this special day.
Just how badly do they want the chocolates?
「By the way, Michel and I bought that one.」
「…Huh? What about Noda?」
They look at me with their mouths wide open.
I reluctantly take out some rice crackers.
「Why did you buy rice crackers on this special occasion?!」
「There’s a limit to how dense you can be!」
I explain myself to the complaining club members.
I was about to buy economical chocolates from the convenience store.
But it’s Valentines, so daily products are on limited supply.
The only chocolates remaining were big bags that cost 298 yen each.
There was also a Valentines chocolate section, but the chocolates were about the same price.
I couldn’t buy any of that with only 200 yen.
I wondered what to do, and as I desperately scanned the store, I found new tasty-looking rice crackers that cost 198 yen.
I hesitated because it didn’t match the occasion, but they looked so tasty. In the end, I bought them, while Arioka-senpai and Michel bought the chocolates.
「They’re moist rice crackers that don’t make much sound when you eat them.」
That was my decisive factor in buying the rice crackers.
「That’s not the issue here!」
「Your consideration is misplaced!」
They’re making a storm of complaints.
「You’re the one who wants to eat them anyway!」
「We hit the nail on the head!」
「Relax, gentlemen. Have some chocolates. Raise your blood sugar.」
They gather around Arioka-senpai as he opens the bag of chocolates.
Maybe because of the increase in blood sugar, they calm down and go back to prostrating themselves.
「Thank you very much for the delicious chocolates. But Master, what we truly wish to obtain today is not only chocolates. We also wish to obtain the skill to remain popular forever.」
「We appreciate your guidance.」
They set up chairs for Arioka-senpai and Michel, then sit on the floor in Japanese style.
Because I had to use my head to stop the 2 desperate club members, I feel tired and sleepy.
Also because I stayed up late last night to make the chocolates.
「Here is a manual on how to be a popular guy. We have practiced its techniques and memorized popular phrases. But we have gotten zero chocolates in return. Was this book a lie? Were we wrong in worshipping it like the Bible?」
Arioka-senpai opens the book while eating rice crackers.
He’s flipping the pages while thinking.
「I wouldn’t know even if you asked me. Women are mysterious beings after all. What do you think, Michel?」
He passes the book to Michel, who’s skimming the book as well.
「Manuals such as these only teach you the foundation. I think you have to adapt to the situation. Even if you memorized the entire book, I couldn’t guarantee that you would win over a girl’s heart.」
They’re taking notes while nodding in agreement.
They’re now staring at Arioka-senpai and Michel in all seriousness, making them look uncomfortable.
「For example, in Chapter 4, Page 58, Line 5, it says that women like to be praised for even the most trivial things. Master, do you think that is true?」
They know which page and line it is without even looking.
They weren’t lying about memorizing the book.
Wouldn’t it be better if they put that amount of effort to better use? Feeling sleepy, I lay my face on the desk. I want to go home, but I’ll stick around a while more.
「Michel, I’m passing.」
Arioka-senpai turns his head to Michel, who looks a little confused.
「There are few who wouldn’t feel happy when praised. However, there are people who get upset if you praise them in the wrong way. It’s a little difficult…」
Michel passes the question back to Arioka-senpai, who does the same again. They’re passing the title of Master back and forth.
「I think I’ve been praising them the wrong way. They never looked happy when I did it.」
「Maybe it’s because you praised them for the wrong things? It’ll have an adverse effect if you praise people for the things they don’t like.」
They’re clinging onto Arioka-senpai for his good advice.
「I see, I see. So it’s okay if I say they’re beautiful, or that they’re shining?」
「No, isn’t there something wrong about that vague compliment? They may think you’re unreserved, but it’ll have an adverse effect too.」
「I see~. Alright! We’ll try complimenting Noda. Hey, Noda!」
I don’t want to be dragged into this, but I reply anyway.
「What you said to the guy who was trying to burn the book, it really made you shine!」
He’s probably referring to my threat to kick him into next Valentines.
「Your headbutt was beautiful too.」
He gives me a thumbs up, and asks Arioka-senpai for his opinion.
「How was that, Master?」
「He used the two biggest keywords, beautiful and shine. He’s surprisingly skilled!」
「Noda looks pretty interested too!」
「Hmm. I’m sorry to say that it feels a little off… Michel, I’m passing.」
「Uh, how should I say it… when you compliment her, you should praise her efforts? That’s what I think. What about you, Arioka-senpai?」
Michel passes it back to Arioka-senpai.
「Yeah. You might score even more when you praise a girl’s efforts instead of her innate qualities. For example, a certain girl looks up to some model or actress, and tries to be like her. Whether it’s the beauty of her hair, her stylishness, or her refined speech, it’s important to pinpoint and compliment her for it.」
「Ah, that’s right. It may be good to look for commonalities between the girl and her idol. I think it would make her happy.」
The club members are nodding and taking more notes.
「Alright. I’ll try it with Noda.」
「Noda? That’s a hard one. And who’s her idol? Who should we compare her to?」
「Like I would know. Hey, Noda.」
I look up while yawning.
I drink the cocoa that Arioka-senpai made for me. I feel sleepier, maybe because it’s making me warm.
「Do you have anyone you look up to?」
I have a few, but my first option would be…
「Ryouma, huh. Okay.」
I like his spontaneity and decisiveness.
「I’ll find a commonality between you and Ryouma. …I think I got it.」
「Uh… gentlemen, I think you’re on the wrong track again… Michel, I’m passing.」
「I’m done. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m passing it back to you.」
They’re passing it back and forth again.
「You know, for once, I think your category of popular is different from each other.」
One of the club members explains proudly.
「What makes Arioka-senpai special is the difference between his face and his strength. Michel has a personality befitting his face. Well, their faces are the major premise.」
「Michel is gentlemanly towards all girls, after all. Did you all know? When there’s even one girl around, Michel begins to match her eating pace. It’s so the girl can eat calmly.」
「Oh, I didn’t know. He’s such a gentleman.」
The club members begin cheering, let’s raise our gentlemanly skills! But one of the club members speaks against it.
「It’s not a guarantee that it’ll go well just by learning from Michel. I tried mimicking Michel and held the door open for a girl, but then 20 other people went in at once. I was a door boy for that entire time.」
「What! You could earn some tips.」
「I didn’t get any.」
「That’s not being gentlemanly, you idiots!」
「Michel is a prince who’s been ingrained with the habit of putting ladies first. It’s too much for you to mimic.」
Upon hearing that, the club member hangs his head in disappointment. But he recovers quickly and starts talking energetically about how he can mimic and make it his own.
I’m impressed with his mood swings. I lay my head on the desk again.
I can’t take it anymore. I’m too sleepy.
I’ll take a nap and go home.
「Sagiri-san, you’ll catch a cold if you sleep here.」
I can hear the heater running, but it is a little cold since it’s February.
Michel takes off his coat and covers me with it.
The club members watch and learn, and quickly put it to practice.
They all throw their coats onto me.
I couldn’t react in time, and I’m now buried in a mountain of coats.
It’s suffocating and heavy.
I struggle my way out.
I’m wide awake now, so I get my revenge on the club members and go home, leaving the master and his students behind.
I’m home, and before I can make more truffles, Mizuhara sends me a message asking me to make fondant au chocolat.
I thought he would lay off the chocolate since he’s been eating so much the last few days, so I’m surprised.
Mom has a recipe from last year.
[1. TL Note: Fondant au chocolat is a French lava cake.] It’s important to bake it in moderation. If I overcook it, the chocolate will harden, and it’ll just become a regular chocolate cake.
I bake it just about right, but the chocolate begins to spill from the cake.
It’s best to eat it freshly baked.
While practice making the fondant au chocolat with Mom, I send Mizuhara a message asking him if he’s home tomorrow.
And then I remember him stealing my masterpiece.
I haven’t gone to Mizuhara’s place lately because I’ve been too engrossed in making the truffles with Mom.
Mizuhara was jumping around with excitement during the event.
I’ve wanted to fulfill one of his requests after Valentines, partly because I was a hindrance, and partly as thanks for helping me study for the tests.
It’s highly possible he’ll be at home, since he’s only on a small day trip.