We enjoyed the hotpot under the warmth of the kotatsu. Moreover, the ingredients were quite high quality, making it a luxurious and gorgeous hot pot.
Partway through, Natsumi-chan started teasing me and trying to feed me, so everyone ended up trying to feed me bits of meat or tofu. Because of that, I ended up quite full. Rei-chan, who was originally super energetic, went into sleep mode, and as if her power was suddenly shut off, ended up sleeping under the kotatsu. It was already 10 at night. We would greet the new year in about two more hours.
“Sana, is completely full… The kotatsu also feels great, feels like heaven…”
The Kana-Sana pair ended up laying down on their sides with loose expressions.
“The quality was well, pretty normal.”
Said Lady Natsumi.
“If you say that, no one will want to cook for you anymore, Natsumi.”
“Ahahah. It’s just a joke.”
After Natsumi-chan fiddled with her cellphone a bit, a maid came in.
“Natsumi-oujousama, I brought the thing you asked for.”
The maid had carefully carried a can of juice on a tray. …Hmmm? If I actually look at the package, isn’t that a cocktail?
“Hey, aren’t you underaged?”
“Now, now, look closer.”
Natsumi-chan pointed at the can that the maid brought.
The words written on it were non-alcoholic.
“Is it really okay to drink even if it’s non-alcoholic…?”
It’s hard to draw the line. Hiiragi-chan, the person that would be the one giving the warning, was silent. I took a glance at her and found her to be drinking some Japanese sake.
“…Sensei hasn’t seen anything.”
I guess it’s okay to drink.
Well, I guess if you get used to alcohol, cocktails are pretty much juice at that point. I guess non-alcoholic cocktails that you can buy at supermarkets are probably okay.
Especially on a day like New Year’s Eve, the level of tolerance may be higher. Natsumi-chan poured the cocktail into the glass that was prepared along with it.
“Now now, let’s drink, brother-in-law.”
“It’s still too early.”
While doing our standard exchange of words, I also poured Natsumi-chan a cocktail.
“Now now, why don’t you drink, sister-in-law.”
“It’s still too early.”
Sana woke up and stared at us looking dissatisfied by the exchange.
“Nii-san, you can’t have a fake younger sister.”
Don’t call an in-law fake. Then, she fell back down just like that.
…Is she asleep? Kanata was also asleep next to her. Rei-chan was taken home by her mother who came to pick her up just a little bit earlier. While waiting for the date to change, we continued to talk and watch TV.
Then, the countdown ended, and we arrived in the new year.
“Seiji-kun, I’ll be in your care this year as well.”
Natsumi-chan, who was watching us spoke up, “Thief-kun, it’ll definitely be okay.” She’s probably talking about the conversation I had with her about the break up.
I hope I can avoid it though, by changing something that I did.
Before I noticed, my time leap was released and I returned to the present. It was still the end of the year over here, and the company was still in quite a mess. I was having a great time too. Aaah, a reality that I didn’t want to see was spread out before me.
“Senpaai. For the end of the year party with ASW, what place would be good? I can arrange it for you if you’d like.”
From my point of view, Rei-chan who was sleeping in a kotatsu just a little while back now turned into an adult.
“I’m always troubled because there’s never a warning.”
Oh well. I’ll confirm a few things with Rei-chan.
“Ah, Senpai, did you return again?” Rei-chan who had finally grasped the situation seemed a little surprised.
Apparently, my plan of trying to help the company performance by creating a social game has already been put into action, and the game was currently held in high regard. Rei-chan then told me about what happened during the Christmas event.
“While Senpai was drinking, you kept going on about how that quarter had the highest profits ever, so it should have been a great success.”
The plan itself was in the workings for quite a while, so there was probably a lot of behind the scenes work.
“I guess this is only able to happen because I encouraged myself to do my best before.”
Well, of course. Once I had a good relationship with Sana, there was only one way to go from there. There shouldn’t have been any more obstacles in the way of that plan. If that’s the case, then moving quickly would be for the best.
“At that time, I thought you would take me home with you, but Senpai, you so easily returned me home. I was fuming.”
And then today, an end of the year party with our partners from ASW and our business division was supposed to occur.
“But, that’s what I like about you…”
I took a glance at her and our eyes met, causing Rei-chan, who seemed to predict that this would happen, to squeal in delight as she turned away. That polished slyness is still alive and well.
“The troubling thing is, it’s not that I like Senpai, but rather, I like the Senpai that likes Hiiragi-sensei.”
She made a tired, almost troubled, smile. Is this perhaps her true expression…? If that’s the case, this might be the first time I’ve seen it.
“That’s why, even if I don’t get along with Natsumi-oujousama, I just want to stay by your side.”
I patted her head a little forcefully.
“Yaaan~ Senpai~ You’re so forceful.”
She returned to the usual Rei-chan. The cellphone that was on my desk received a message. The contents were displayed on the screen.
[Please find a good spot to wrap up your work! Today’s the end of the year party!]
Speaking of the devil, it was from Natsumi-chan.
“We broke up, right?”
Rei-chan nodded once. As I thought. I was prepared for it though.
“At that time, Sana and I were indignant. Why now? Why? That’s how we felt. However, at our age now… after turning into an adult, thinking back, if I was in the same position… I do understand how Sensei felt at the time.”
“What do you mean? Sana said that she was annoyed with it and didn’t want to say it, but Natsumi-chan said something similar. That she could understand. What is that supposed to mean?”
As if she had reached some sort of understanding, Rei-chan opened her mouth halfway, before speaking to herself in a whisper.
“Does that mean it all ends here…?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“Senpai, you went back into the past and changed things multiple times, shifting the present in a direction that you wanted. From what I hear, you continued to work hard with Sensei as your goal. Even with the failing company, you did your best and got it to reach its highest performance. However, your breakup with Sensei is something that you can’t avoid— Why do you think that’s the case?”