Mio Dyed Bright Red.

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“Oh, where is your house, Sasaki-san? I’ll walk you home,” said Toma, holding a shopping bag in one hand and walking at Sasaki’s small pace.

It was already past 7 pm, and although there were many cars passing by, there weren’t many pedestrians, making it a calm place to talk.

“Oh, really… Shouldn’t I, your senior, be the one to walk you home, Toma-kun?” said Sasaki.

“I want to show respect for my senior.
Besides, it’s already late, so please allow me,” Toma replied.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing for a woman to walk to home, but Toma believed it was more appropriate for him as a man.

“If you’re not going to let me, what will you do?” Sasaki asked, pouting with her face down.

“I’ll stubbornly insist on giving you.
I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you, Sasaki-san,” Toma replied.

Sasaki pouted, but this was just a cover for her shyness.
If she knew that someone she liked was worried about her, she would be filled with happiness…

Toma had no choice but to agree with her opinion…

“I just can’t let my pride get in the way… So if you could let me walk you home, regardless of whether or not I have a boyfriend, it would really help me out,” Sasaki said, continuing her haughty words.

‘I-I don’t have a choice then… I’ll accept it then…”

Despite her attitude, Sasaki ended with a small voice, saying “Thank you” as a gesture of gratitude.
She was just awkward.
She was desperate to behave as usual so that Toma wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
It was all to prevent Toma from feeling any discomfort…

“…B-by the way, Toma-kun.
It’s a bit late, but is it okay if I go home with you…?”

“What do you mean by ‘okay’…?”

Sasaki brought it up at this moment.
There was no other timing to bring it up.
While hiding her nerves, she finally asked the question she wanted to know the most…

“I think it would be a problem if you have a girlfriend or something, Toma-kun.
Isn’t that right…?”

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Mio looked at Toma with wavering eyes.

With just this one answer, their relationship from now on could change.

Because Mio was convinced that her feelings for Toma were genuine, it was necessary for her to ask.
It was necessary to know.

“Do you think I have a girlfriend…?”


Nerves were stretched, her mouth became dry.
Mio slowly nodded.

“It makes me happy to hear you say that, Sasaki-san… but, I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“That, that’s not a lie to spare my feelings… right?”

“I wouldn’t lie about something like this just to spare your feelings.
It’s the truth.”

“Really, really…?”


“I, I see…”

(I’m so happy he doesn’t have a girlfriend…) 

Mio restrained the urge to jump and consciously suppressed her emotions.

Toma didn’t have a girlfriend.
Just knowing that fact made her body and mind feel lighter to the point where she wanted to skip.
She was so happy that she unconsciously tightened her grip.

“I’ll ask you the opposite question, Sasaki-san.
Are you okay?”


“I mean, do you have a boyfriend? It wouldn’t be strange for someone like you to have one.”

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“N-no, I don’t have one either… And even if I did have a boyfriend, I wouldn’t invite you, Toma-kun.”

I’m glad you don’t have a boyfriend.”

Toma breathed a sigh of relief and smiled softly.

And then, silence descended upon the space between the two.

Based on the flow of the conversation, Toma’s response was not strange at all, but Japanese can be a difficult language where the same words can have different meanings depending on the context.

[TL Note: Just to tell, these are not my lines, this is what was written in the raws.]

“It’s like saying ‘I’m glad Sasaki doesn’t have a boyfriend because I’m interested in her,’ ” he thought.

Realizing that he might have been misunderstood when he saw Sasaki’s silent and blushing face, he spoke up. 

“Uh, I mean that it’s a good thing he doesn’t have a boyfriend because there might have been trouble if you did.”

“I understand.
…I just wish it were like that,” 

Sasaki muttered under her breath.
She spoke so softly that even the nearby Toma couldn’t hear her.

“Did you say something?”

“Well… I just noticed how different you are at work and now.
You’re so mature and never seem flustered at work, but now you’re not like that at all.”

Despite her words, Sasaki didn’t think it was a bad thing.
In fact, she found this new side of Toma endearing and cute, even though it was a younger side of him.

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“Well, I do pretend to be someone else to some extent at work… This is who I really am,” Toma said.

“Who you really are… Then can you try calling me by my name…?” Sasaki asked.

“W-why would I do that…!?”

“You don’t have to pretend to be someone else in your private life, do you? We’re not just a customer and a bartender right now… So try calling me by my name.”

“U-um… Sasaki-san…” Toma replied, feeling helpless against Sasaki’s strong push and seniority.
However, a problem arose at this point.

“I’m sorry, but there’s something really difficult for me to say… It’s about my name.
You see, you’ve been calling me ‘Sasaki-san’ all this time, so I’m afraid I’ve forgotten to tell you my first name.
I’m sorry.”

It’s inevitable to forget someone’s first name when you only use their last name as a way to address them.

“Hand me your phone.”

“My phone?”

“Yes, quickly.”

Feeling the pressure to comply, Toma hands over his phone.

“Excuse me for a moment.”

Sasaki takes the phone and begins to flick through it with her slender, white fingers.
Toma is mesmerized by her doll-like beauty as he watches her profile in the light of the phone screen.

After a minute or so, Sasaki hands the phone back to Toma.

“This is my name.
You mustn’t forget it from now on, okay?”

“Huh? Oh…!”

Toma realizes that there’s a new contact on his phone, written in kanji as ‘澪’ (Mio).

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“This is your punishment for forgetting my name.
So please don’t block me or anything, okay?”

“Well, I didn’t plan on doing anything like that… Was it okay for me to exchange contact information with someone like me?”

“Toma-kun, did you not want to exchange contact information with me…?”

“N-no, that’s not it.”

“I’m glad.
I feel the same way about you, Toma-kun.”

Mio, who had a pink phone cover, held her phone in front of her face, hiding the lower half of her face as she narrowed her eyes.

…Sasaki didn’t want to be seen like this.
She didn’t want her crush to see her looking relaxed and her mouth looking sloppy because she had exchanged contact information with him.

“That’s good to hear.
Please take care of me from now on, Mio-san…”


In that moment, Mio reflexively spun her body 180 degrees at a speed that could rival light.

“Huh!? Did you not like being called by your name?”

“U-um… That’s not it… I-It’s not that I don’t want to be on good terms with you… I-It’s just that there was a rare ant… s-so that’s why…”

She took a clean counterattack just for saying “call me by my name”.
This timing was unfair, and it was Mio’s first time.
She was shaken by being called by her first name by Toma.

As a result, she showed a poor cover-up due to her agitation.

“Oh, an ant… Do you like bugs, Mio-san?”

“I hate them.”

“Is that so… Wait, huh!?”

Seeming like he wanted to ask “then why did you turn your back on me?,” Touma looked at Mio.

Mio couldn’t possibly explain the reason why she turned her back on him, so she continued to hide her blushing face, which had become too hot to the touch, using her glossy long hair…

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