The next evening, Arioka-senpai arrives as scheduled.
He told us not to expect him in case there was a problem at work, but I’m glad he could make it.
I was making some dinner when he arrived.
We’re on a duty roster for making dinner at training camp.
Today’s menu is curry.
I started cooking, thinking I couldn’t screw up if it was curry.
Half an hour later, I got banned from the kitchen.
I’m listening to Arioka-senpai’s complaints just as he arrives.
「I thought it would be the same curry from two years ago, but you bombed it just like the white stew incident. I received reports of your rehabilitation, but to think you would relapse… I hope you will explain your motives.」
The other club members are replacing my duty in the kitchen, complaining about how scared they were to Arioka-senpai, who’s sitting in the dining room chair with his legs crossed.
「I was really scared too! I paired up with Noda two years ago! We were supposed to simmer the stew, but it started rumbling thanks to Noda! Why did I get paired up with her again?!」
「The curry jumped straight up! It’s normally impossible!」
「Everyone, settle down. Let Noda explain her motives first.」
Arioka-senpai holds the club members off with his left hand and rubs my face with his right hand.
There was curry on it.
「You don’t have to go that far… I fried some vegetables and meat, then put in the curry roux. After that, I tried to make flambé out of it.」
I think my cooking has gotten better than before. In fact, the curry was going pretty well until halfway.
I wonder what happened. I want to know too.
「You overcooked the barbecue last year too! Are you trying to make a blog post by repeating inappropriate words?!」
I was impressed it went so well, but clearly the club members don’t think so, so I stay silent.
「Do you have anything to say to justify the flambé?」
「No. I’m sorry.」
It’s better to apologize honestly.
「You didn’t intend to kill anyone. But the potatoes were dead by the time you realized it. Is that what you were going to say?」
「They could still be edible.」
「Here’s the report on the current situation. The vegetables and meat are more or less injured, but they’re not dead. Another club member and Kinoshita-san are administering treatment as we speak.」
One of the club members is playing the role of a police officer investigating a murder.
Normally I would ignore such idiotic comments, but I’m in the wrong this time, so I’ll play along for now.
「She had no intention of murder. We acknowledge that, and will now release her.」
The stew last time was almost fatal, but this time the pot and the contents were only slightly burned, so the club members are going easy on me.
「So how did it go? Are you able to swim all the way to the Bering Sea?」
「I’m almost able to stay afloat.」
「You’re still at that level?」
Arioka-senpai shrugs in amazement, but it’s an achievement to me.
I’m really grateful to Michel for his patience.
「But it was good at the beach yesterday.」
Unfortunately it’s raining heavily today.
We couldn’t set off fireworks or perform the courage tests, so the motivation of the club members is at an all time low.
They’ve put in a lot of effort into planning for them.
They were going to draw a heart with all the fireworks they had, form the words Kinoshita-san using a chain of sparklers, and even ask her to light the fireworks. They wrote their plans on a sheet of paper and passed it around secretly.
They were about to get into an argument, so they came asking me about each detail. They didn’t have to pass it to me.
That tight-knit plan went to waste because of the rain though.
After dinner, it’s free time because of the rain.
We’re spending it the way we want to.
「Hey, Noda. Wanna play some shogi today too? If you want to, I’ll get it while borrowing ping-pong rackets.」
「Yeah, I’ll play.」
I nod and let him do the legwork.
「We can borrow board games like Othello and Go from the lounge. We started playing shogi yesterday and it was fun.」
I didn’t understand the rules at first, but I got the hang of it after a few games.
Arioka-senpai has never played shogi himself, so I’m trying to teach him whatever I know.
「Arioka-senpai, don’t listen to Noda. She doesn’t know the rules at all.」
「No, I’m fine now. I have a grasp on the rules.」
「Stop lying so blatantly.」
「I’m not. I read the rulebook, and Michel even taught me how to play.」
Michel nods in agreement.
At first I was confused by the movements of each piece, and every move I made was against the rules.
「Huh. Then you should teach me too.」
「I taught her the rules too, and she lied about getting it. Then when she was cornered, she took her pieces up and started a space battle!」
「I did that on purpose.」
I was losing drastically, so I was just doing that in frustration.
I set up the pieces on the board, and Michel sits next to me.
「Let me play as well. Traditional Japanese games are very interesting and profound.」
「Alright. Then it’s Michel against Arioka-senpai?」
「I’m going to learn the rules by observing a match. Let Michel and Noda play.」
Arioka-senpai beckons me to his seat.
I move there and face Michel. We’ve only started playing yesterday, so we’re both beginners.
All the other members are too good, so it’s the most fun when I’m playing against Michel.
「Noda-san, my apologies. I am getting a phone call from M University to confirm the details for tomorrow’s practice match…」
Kinoshita-san looks at me apologetically and takes out her phone.
Kinoshita-san is still an amateur when it comes to training camps and karate-related things, so I have to help her when she doesn’t know what to do.
「Arioka-senpai, please play on my behalf.」
「Alright, leave it to me. I’ll help you lose your king!」
He announces his defeat proudly. I take Kinoshita-san’s phone and move to the hallway.
I press the hold button to resume the call.
「So how about it? We’ll both sneak out of the party tomorrow…」
「……Huh? Give it to Kinoshita-san! Who are you…… Ouch!」
I don’t know what he’s talking about, and now he’s making noises.
The caller is probably arguing with someone.
「That voice… Is that you, Katagiri-san?」
「Oh, it’s Noda. I’m sorry for my club member’s misbehavior. He asked for your manager’s phone number and called her for personal requests.」
I wondered what was going on.
「Is there anything you would like to confirm about the practice match?」
「As far as I’m aware, there are no issues on my end.」
Kinoshita-san gave her number to the club member at M University to make sure the practice match goes smoothly tomorrow.
He misused it and called her for personal reasons.
Katagiri-san is formally apologizing again..
「By the way, did Arioka come here?」
I sneak a peek at Arioka-senpai, who’s playing shogi with Michel.
「He did. Good luck tomorrow.」
His reply was short, but I felt his determination. Little did I know how his weakness in expressing himself would cause such a severe misunderstanding.