It had been three months since Shinji had joined <Running Wolves>.
Shinji left the inn in the morning and walked around the town alone.
He had a goal in mind, but he hadn't decided what he wanted to buy, so he walked to the commercial district.
He looked around a few stores, but couldn't find anything he liked. As he walked along, wondering what to do, he was approached from behind.
「You're up early today, Shinji. I thought you are sleep in in the morning」
「Hello, Renka. I'm looking for something today」
Shinji said good morning, and Renka smiled back. Apparently, three months is enough time for them to get to know each other, and they had built up enough trust that if they saw each other on the street, they would call out to each other.
「It's unusual of you. After all, you're the type of person who decides what to buy before you make a move」
「That's usually the case. But today I’m going to buy a birthday present for Alvin. It's in one month and four days from now, right?」
Shinji remembered the birthday he had been told about during their previous quest. Of course, he remembered not only Alvin's birthday, but also Milis’ and Renka’s birthday. Because of this repeated attention to detail, it made a good impression on Shinji. Renka also impressed by Shinji's willingness to celebrate the birthdays of his friends.
「Yes. Every year on his birthday, we gathered and have dinner. Maybe we would ask Shinji to join us this year」
「If so, I'd love to. Please told them about it」
「Fufu, I’m sure they’ll say yes. All right」
Renka giggled at Shinji's polite request for permission.
「Are both of them on a date?」
「Yes. They went out from the morning. As I was free too, I thought I'd go shopping.
「Oh, really? If you're free, I’d appreciate it if you could accompany me in choosing a present for Alvin. It would be great if you could give me some advice. Of course, I'll return the favor」
「Okay. Then lunch will be Shinji's treat」
It's not the first time the two of them have gone out together. In the past, there have been many times when Renka and Shinji would split up to go shopping for a party or to gather information for a quest, if necessary.
And from that time, Renka had begun to trust Shinji, who work efficiently for the party, and didn't flirt with her even when they were alone, and she no longer felt uncomfortable when they were together.
「So, let's start from there. Have you decided what you want to buy?」
「I'm thinking of consumables or something that can be used on a daily basis. Maybe some desserts if we're having a dinner party」
「I usually bake cakes, but Mil…」
As they talked, Renka led the way and started walking. Shinji also started walking behind her, matching her pace. He is one step behind Renka, keeping the distance between them as friends.
* * *
They went to several shops, but could not find anything good, so they could not decide. In the end, the time is almost noon.
「Renka, why don't we have lunch first?」
「Okay. Then, let's go to the square there. There's a stall selling delicious lunches. Also, it's a nice day, so let's eat outside」
When they arrived at the plaza, they found a good number of people strolling around and chatting. There are a few couples who seemed to be lovers, and there are only a few places left where they could sit and eat. In addition, there is a queue at a stall that looked like a bento shop, and it looked like they wouldn't be able to buy anything right away.
「I'll save a bench for you, can you go and buy one for me?」
「...Sure. If I wait for you, I might get approached」
「Well, it's not easy being a beautiful woman. Here's my wallet」
Shinji smiled at Renka while he handed his wallet to Renka, who annoyed at the unpleasant pick-up that could occur if she waited alone on the bench.
「Two silver coins should cover the cost. You don't have to hand over your entire wallet」
「I don't think Renka would have a problem with that, would she?」
「Yes, but... Well, okay」
With Renka's cautious gaze, Shinji is taken aback by what she is worrying about. When asking someone else, he should always ask for confirmation in a polite manner, but when he asks a colleague for a favor, Renka reacts as if she were dumbfounded by his reaction. He's happy to be trusted, though, on the inside.
Shinji sat down on a bench and looked over at Renka. When he saw Renka in line, he looked around. The weather is good, the air ir calm, and there are children running around in the square. As he is looking at this ordinary scene, he heard Renka's annoyed voice.
He looked in the direction of the voice and saw that Renka is being picked on by two men. As the bento shop is some distance away, they must have thought she is alone. Shinji sighed and walked over to Renka.
「I told you I was with a man」
「Just leave that guy who make the cute girl like you buy stuff and play with us」
「Yeah, yeah. It'll be more fun with us」
Even though Renka refused, she glared at the men who blocked her way, but they did not show any sign of concern and continued to laugh and tangle with her. Renka is carrying a lunch box, so she couldn't push her way through. The men must have known that.
When Renka's frustration reached its peak and she opened her mouth to shout, Shinji stood over her to hide her from the men.
「I'm sorry. She's with me. Can you refrain from doing that?」
Shinji's face is smiling as he looked at the men. But his eyes are not smiling at all, and he looked strangely intimidating, which put the men under pressure. At the same time as the men opened their mouths to say something back, Shinji increased his magic power and made it even more intimidating.
The men, who finally understood Shinji's threat, closed their mouths and walked away quietly. Although they are swearing, Shinji didn't care about the howling of losers. And so, he just walked away.
「I didn't think you'd be picked up even at this distance. Sorry」
「I thought so too, but... thanks. Thank you for coming before I yelled at them」
Shinji looked back at her and gave her an apologetic look, but she shook her head and smiled, thinking that Renka hadn't seen it that way either. And when Renka offered him a lunch box and he took it, Shinji said.
「Because you look even more beautiful in plain clothes, they annoyed you. The clothes look great too. But let's forget about the pick-up and have lunch」
Renka is flustered by Shinji's quick compliment.
She is thrilled to hear a compliment from a close friend of the opposite sex, different from the the same gender Milis. Yes, she is used to being told she was beautiful, but she had never received a compliment that included fashion before.
Still, Renka decided to cover up the fact that she felt flattered by the compliment, even though she hated flirtatious words, so she speaking louder.
「I know, I know! Let's have lunch! The lunches here are the best!」
「Oh, it's recommended by Renka, after all. I'm looking forward to it」
Renka could not help but feel that Shinji's smile, which should be the same as usual, saw through her inner thoughts. But he didn't make fun of her like Alvin did, so she felt at ease and headed for the bench with Shinji leading the way.
After a pleasant lunch, they went back strolling in the town.
However, the afternoon is a little different from the morning.
Shinji is leading and Renka is following.
Shinji also walked in step with Renka. He consulted with Renka about the store clerk and where they are going as they proceeded.
Renka, who had always led Alvin and Milis, found it refreshing to be led by him. She is strangely excited by the sensation of working with a dependable man of the opposite sex, with no one older than her father around.
In the end, the two of them went around until the evening, but didn't find anything good. So, Shinji takes Renka back to her inn. At first Renka refused, saying it that he was in a different direction, but then she decided to take Shinji's advice to avoid being picked up. After all, there’s a lot of men who will pick-up a girl to ask them out to dinner at dusk. And so, after half a day of escorting, Renka felt less reluctant to rely on Shinji.
「I made you stay with me for a day and we couldn't decide. I'm sorry about that」
Shinji shook his head with a smile as Renka apologized with an apologetic look on her face.
「It's okay. I had a great day too」
「Really? I'm glad to hear that」
Renka was relieved to see Shinji's reassuring smile.
But suddenly, she thought, "Wasn't I the only one who had fun?". She also thinks it must be hard for Shinji to deal with someone as unfeminine as Milis.
「Did you have fun, Shinji?」
Renka didn't mean to ask, but the words slipped out of her mouth. She thought to herself if she had lost her mind, but that feeling was blown away by Shinji's words.
「Of course. It was fun. Thank you for today, Renka」
Renka thought, “I'm glad to hear that”.
「Then, See you tomorrow」
「Yeah, see you again」
With that, Shinji walked away. Renka watched his back for a while and then went back to her room. Back in her room, Renka lay down on her bed.
When she thought about it calmly, she realized that today's shopping trip like a date. Although, she had spent the morning picking out gifts, but in the afternoon, she had enjoyed spending time with Shinji. And now, she was feeling a little lonely when they parted...
（No, no, no! It's not like I promised him a date, so it's no problem! It's not like he was hitting on me!）
She shook her head and jumped out of bed.
Yes, Shinji looked the same as usual. He was caring, but still treated her as an equal friend.
For some reason, this bothered Renka.
- Revised on 06/02/2022 -> Fix some words, etc
Edited by Kanaa-senpai
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