In the middle is an S-size pizza with a white sauce base and plenty of seasonal ingredients such as crab. On either side is a box filled with small chicken and a box of half-and-half nuggets and fries.
And in front of each of the three of them was a portion of pasta. Chihiro has meat sauce, Aika has carbonara, and Kaede has pepperoncino.
「I think I've never had pasta from a pizza delivery shop before」
「For me, I have ordered many times. Because I get tired of pizza all the time, and it tastes good too」
「Sister (Nee-san), even now she can't cook」
「I've tried, but it just doesn't work」
Kaede giggles and quickly reaches for her fork.
「Well, let's eat. Takatsuki, feel free to eat it too」
「Oh, yes. Thank you very much」
Aika says, "Itadakimasu" and then Chihiro picks up a fork as well. Meanwhile, Kaede is quickly putting the pasta into her mouth.
「Yes, it's good. It tastes familiar」
Kaede nodded in agreement and took two or three more bites.
With a smile on her face, she looks somewhat like a child.
Aika, who is staring at Kaede, giggles.
「I thought onee-san would be scarier, but it's not like that」
「Well, people often misunderstand me because of my face and tone of voice」
「It's always been that way, hasn't it?」
Kaede's abilities have been strong since she was a child.
Because of her excellent learning and athletic abilities, many people felt that she was unapproachable at first impression.
This tendency has become stronger and stronger as she entered the school, learned combat techniques, and became more proficient in using her abilities, and also simply because of her advancing age.
Especially after she works as a special team member of the police who also fights against criminals, people tend to be more reluctant to approach her.
However, according to her relative, Chihiro, she is a pompous person in her private life. As mentioned, she is not a good cook, she is not good at sewing, and she only needs to clean as much as possible by not putting things on the floor. That is why she went to the school from home not from dormitory, and their mother worried her intensely when she started to live alone to enter the university.
It can be clearly seen from the way she solves the problem of food with money.
"That's why", those who enter her pocket usually like her a lot. They appreciate her abilities, but at the same time, they take care of her in her everyday life, which she can't seem to leave alone.
Or, they see an unexpected aspect of her brilliance and feel a sense of closeness with her, which makes their admiration and respect for her stronger.
「I once tried to be careful, but my face was born the same way and my tone of voice didn't change. Well, I'm sometimes called an "Oni" or "Demon" by the criminals I've taken down, so maybe the impression I get from my appearance isn't so wrong」
「No. That's not so scary」
Aika says with a smile.
She is friendly by nature. She seems to be able to handle anything as long as she gets a good start, and in this short period of time she has completely let her guard down.
Chihiro watches her with mixed feelings.
「Yes. So, would you tell me a story about Chihiro-kun's old days?」
「Hmm. Okay. Now, let's talk about the time when Chihiro got lost in the amusement park...」
When Kaede started talking in a groove, he realized that it was impossible to stop her.
And so, she tells her old stories in between meals - how Chihiro used to get lost at the amusement park when he was little and cry out the names of his mother and sister while Aika listens with interest as much as she can. Chihiro, who listen to this, just continued to eat his meal, trying not to let his mind wander.
Following suit, Aika answered Kaede's questions about what she and Chihiro had talked about - though, as expected, she chose her topics carefully - and their conversation went on for a long time.
Their conversation went on for a long time, probably due to the fact that they were all in a position where they did not have to worry about the curfew.
But Chihiro thought seriously for a moment, "Is this hell?".
Gradually, as the conversation went on for a long time, the amount of food was reduced little by little, and finally all the food was gone.
Aika let out a breath and said as if she remembered something.
「By the way, Kaede-san, do you drink alcohol?」
The only drinks on the table are soft drinks and no alcoholic beverages. Moreover, Kaede is drinking black oolong tea.
It's a very simple and solid choice.
「Alcohol? I drink if I have to, but I don't like to drink. It's partly because my job requires me to be on call a lot」
「I see. So, there are people like that」
Aika nods in interest.
Who she is thinking of is probably the self-indulgent working person who has been drinking in the evening without fail ever since she came to Maria's apartment.
Chihiro chuckles as the topic finally becomes somewhat calming.
「She is a special case. Even Aika's family doesn't drink alcohol every day, right?」
「Haha, that's true. Suzu-san should not be used as a standard」
Kaede responded to some of Aika's words.
「Chihiro, you mean Kurohane Suzu?」
The glances his sister gave Chihiro were sharp.
Although it is difficult to gauge the seriousness of her words, he guessed from her tone of voice that she was talking about something quite serious this time.
And he never expected Kaede to react to Suzu's name.
Come to think of it, Kaede and Suzu are both graduates of the same school. And they are probably about the same age. So, it is not surprising that they know each other.
In addition, when they parted in front of the staff room once, Kaede said, "I'm going to the principal office".
And the principal, in other words, Ootori Yuuji.
He must know that Chihiro and Kaede are related. If so, it is highly possible that he told Kaede about Chihiro when she came to see him.
If so, how much did he tell her?
Right now, Chihiro's head is getting cold fast.
It was a mistake to mention Suzu's name. But the fact that her presence with Chihiro is not a private information, and if Kaede has heard from Principal Ootori, there is no use in hiding it.
It would be pointless to lie. In any case, the silence now almost answers the question.
「...Yes, that's right」
「Hmm. So, the story was true」
Her expression does not reveal any emotion. When Chihiro tries to "make eye contact" with her, their gazes do not slightly meet.
After trying several times and giving up, Chihiro replies.
「That story, I can't say for sure...」
「I would think so. Even for my part, I don't expect you to nod your head when I reveal to you what I'm talking about」
Kaede is not as straightforward as Yotsuba.
But she is still a sincere and honest girl. So, she was willing to play the cards that she had.
Thanks to this, it was easy for her to know how her opponent would react and how she could take measures, but Kaede did not seem to proceed with the conversation so easily with Chihiro.
So, she took her eyes off Chihiro and turned to Aika.
「Takatsuki-san, I want you to break up with Chihiro」
Kaede changed her focus.
This was not unexpected. Yotsuba had similar persuasions. However, Chihiro gulps his breath from his accumulated feelings of bitterness.
Aika also senses the change in the atmosphere and her expression hardens.