Chapter 3-3

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Chapter 3: Part 3

Now that we’ve gotten our hands on all this money, we decided to go shopping right away.

I really didn’t know what kind of present would make Yuu and Sera the happiest. Haruna had mentioned she wanted a horned owl plushie, but neither Sera nor Yuu owned a single stuffed animal.

Well, no harm in just trying a bunch of things and seeing what stuck.

Mihara and Saras seemed to be into the same type of thing as Sera.

Hiramatsu would probably match well with Yuu.

Tomonori and Haruna often agreed on things.

And Orito was just completely useless in this scenario.

We were in the Koto Ward of Tokyo right now, which was on the East side of Tokyo. Meanwhile, Harajuku was basically in the city center.

We were also in the height of Christmas season, so Harajuku was overflowing with couples.

Blinding light displays filled the streets around us as handsome guys and pretty girls walked to and fro. The street in front of the station was so crowded you’d think we just had a fireworks festival or something.

We walked along Meijidoori and Omotesandou, two popular shopping spots, as Orito glared at all the happy couples around us.

The first shop we headed for was… a sports equipment shop!

“Why the hell are we starting here?”

I couldn’t help but voice my concerns.

Tomonori was next to me, her eyes glittering. To think she would be completely useless here too…

“If you want to buy Master a present, you gotta get her a soccer ball!”

Tomonori grabbed me by the arm and seemed eager to get into the shop.

“Only boys would be happy with that present!”

“Ehh, but Master seems to like sports and stuff too…”

Ugh. Well, whatever. Feeling resigned, we all shuffled into the sports equipment shop in succession.

First were me and Tomonori. We were followed by Hiramatsu and Mihara. Saras and Orito brought up the rear.

“Ah, this one looks good.”

Mihara spoke up as soon as we got into the store. I saw that there were some shoes on sale near the store entrance. Had she found some fashionable sneakers or something?

“… Which one?” Hiramatsu asked.

“These basketball shoes.”

Basketball shoes?! Oh, right, I guess she was on the basketball team.

“These were the ones that Anderson-kun wanted.”

Mihara picked up some really large basketball shoes and held them out to me, but I didn’t take them from her.

“Doesn’t he already have a lot of these things?”

“He’s like a collector, honestly. He has a huge mountain of them.”

Well, then he probably doesn’t need another one-

“So that means these are probably pretty great quality. Maybe Sera or somebody would like them.”

“Aikawa, a soccer ball is the best idea! Seriously, just trust me.”

“Okay, okay, fine. I’ll trust you.”

I took the basketball shoes and… holy crap these were expensive. I really couldn’t get these. Well, it’s not like anybody actually wanted them, so whatever.

Actually, wait. They could be a decent gag gift. I’ll just give some basketball shoes to Tomonori later. She’ll probably get a kick out of them since she’s actually on the track team.

Okay, I’ll buy a cheap pair and make it a Christmas present.

And so, I ended up purchasing a pair of basketball shoes and a soccer ball. It was probably safe to say that both these things would end up going to Tomonori.

Next, we headed for the part of a big department store where they sold small articles. This would probably be where the real shopping began. Sera really liked small accessories, and getting her a gift that would last was probably the best idea.

Orito and I watched from a distance as the girls excitedly window shopped.

“Ah, this one looks good.”

“… This… does look good…”

Mihara and Hiramatsu both had grabbed a heart-shaped anklet.

“You two aren’t just picking out things you would like, right?”

I half-jokingly admonished them as they continued to happily fish for accessories.

“Ehh, of couuuurse noooooot~~~…”

Why the hell was she saying it like that? Mihara’s excitement levels were definitely maxed right now.

And I was sure now that these girls were just looking for things they personally liked.

Well, Sera and Haruna were both girls though. So maybe the things these girls here picked out would be good. At the very least, the things they picked out would make better gifts than a soccer ball…

More importantly, we had to find that stuffed horned owl. We began to wander around and around and around the shop in search of it.

Shops that specialized in stuffed animals were pretty rare, and we definitely checked out a lot of the department stores and accessory stores and arcades (which could offer stuffed animals as prizes)…

“… Ah… this owl… doesn’t have horns… either…”

“Horned owls are rather special, I guess. I’ve never seen many around here.”

Saras crossed her arms, looking a bit resigned.

Horned owls were rather rare creatures to begin with.

No matter where I went, all I saw were bears or cats, and all of them were rather familiar looking.

Indeed, the only stuffed animals being sold around here seemed to be stuffed animals of characters who already had names.

Even when we finally thought we found an owl, it was a normal owl and not a horned one. This was hard. If this continued, Haruna would end up with a soccer ball for Christmas. If that happened, I was in for a rough morning.

Mihara and Tomonori had dumped all their bags onto Orito, and right now they were probably going on a huge impulsive shoppping spree in the accessories corner. Meanwhile, Saras and Hiramatsu wanted to help me find that stuffed animal, so we wandered around the department store. Hiramatsu paused when we got to the bedding section.

“Ah… this pillow… I wonder if it’d be good…”

“As a present for Haruna?”

“No… for Nene-san…”

Pat pat. She pat the pillow a bit, checking its firmness. Ah, right, Sera had said something about Nene-san liking firm pillows.

“Yeah, you’re right. She’s been a big help, after all. We should get her a Christmas present.”

Hiramatsu roamed around the bedding section and then stopped again in a particular place.

The cushion corner?

She stared at a hug pillow style of cushion which was around a meter in length. It had what looked like a rather ugly dog’s head attached, and the entire pillow seemed to be made to resemble a dachshund.

“Do you want that?”

“… Eh? … Umm… not really… I…”

Hiramatsu looked away in slight panic. Saras saw her and gave her a small smile.

“It’s clear on your face. You want that cushion.”

The price was 4000 yen. Wow, for such an ugly dog…

“So Hiramatsu likes stuff like this…”

By “this,” I meant stuff that was both cute and easygoing. Man, that dog just looked like such an idiot. And that face of his was so ugly…

“It… kind of looks like… Aikawa-kun.”

Eh? Looks like me? But before I could object, Saras cut in.

“Hm. I was about to say the same thing.”

After hearing that, I could do nothing but give out a strained smile.

“This… might be nice… to give to Nene-san too…”

“Yeah. She sleeps on her chair a lot, so a cushion like this might be nice.”

So, I ended up buying a firm pillow and this dog cushion with the moronic-looking head.

That settles Nene-san’s gifts then.

But we still needed to buy a present for Haruna. I glanced over at Saras and Hiramatsu.

“If you two want anything feel free to buy it too. This compensation I got from Nene-san belongs to all of us.”

“That’s… I don’t… need anything.”

As expected from Hiramatsu.

“If I said I wanted my darling for Christmas, would you oblige me?”

As expected from Saras.

“If I ever see them selling a figure of me I’ll get it for you.”

I jokingly responded and chuckled.

In any case, we had to look for Haruna’s present.

“…… A stuffed horned owl… where could we find something like that…?”

Hiramatsu let out a sigh at the thought of what could be an impossible search.

I saw Saras also with a hand held up to her mouth. She had this rather annoyed look on her face, like she wanted to say something but couldn’t.

“What’s wrong?”

“Hm? Ah… it’s just that… hmm…”

It was rare to see Saras at a loss for words like this.

“You have something on your mind, don’t you?”

“As expected from my darling. Mi amore, in Italian. We understand each other.”

Saras nodded, looking thoughtful.

“Just quit it and tell me what’s wrong.”

“Hm. I do believe I have an idea where we could find a stuffed horned owl.”

Was it a shop run by a vampire ninja? Saras was living as a normal high school student, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a vampire ninja somewhere who ran a shop.

“For now, let’s regroup with Tomonori and the others.”

“Yeah… let’s meet back up with everyone…”

I called Tomonori on my cell phone and waited for her at the department store entrance.

“Hey! Aikawaaa!”

Stop waving so frantically at me. God, that was embarrassing.

Tomonori dashed over to us looking like she had had the time of her life shopping.

Meanwhile, Orito also hobbled over, carrying a huge number of shopping bags and not looking all too happy.

“I want to go home.”

He mumbled a complaint, but nobody paid him any mind.

In any case, it seemed they had bought a whole lot of things. With this much stuff, I should be able to avoid Sera’s wrath.

“We’re headed for a shop that specializes in stuffed animals.”

“Ah! That one! I know it.”

Mihara’s face brightened up and she nodded, seeming to remember something.

“You know it? That’s impressive.”

“Eh? Ahh, I mean… yeah, sure.”

“Kanami-chan is… like a Shopping Queen…”

Hiramatsu let out a small, shy chuckle. Mihara seemed like such a stylish, modern girl, but she still liked stuffed animals? Or maybe she just knew a lot about shops in this area.

“Well then. Let us depart, darling.”

Saras knew the way, so she took the lead. We proceeded away from the main road that was filled with the noisy jingles of Christmas music; the crowds were getting thinner and thinner around us. We walked quite a distance like that, and around the time when Orito had finally fallen into silence, I caught sight of a shop with a load of stuffed animals on display.

“If you want something weird like a horned owl, it’s best to search here. They don’t sell stuffed animals of famous animal characters at all. It’s more like a stuffed animal zoo.”

Certainly, I could see a number of different types of stuffed animals in the shop window.

Feeling more hopeful, I quickly walked towards the shop.

“Aikawa~~. Can you just take half?”
Orito was holding so many bags that he looked like a waiter at a bar who was trying to bring a dozen beer mugs to a table. But I rejected his request.

“I have my hands full too.”

This hug pillow was really bulky, after all.

The one who finally offered help to the downtrodden Orito was Hiramatsu.

“I… can carry some?”

“Thanks so much. It seems like there’s only one Goddess here today.”

Orito’s glasses clouded over, his face filling with emotion.

“I suppose I will carry some as well.”

Next, Saras offered her help. She glanced at me, as if she wanted to emphasize to me how kind of a person she was.

Honestly, she didn’t have to go out of her way to emphasize that. I already kknew.

“So, what did you end up buying anyways?”

I was curious what kind of gifts Mihara had chosen. Mihara answered back happily.

“Got a bag and a heart-shaped necklace. They’re really cute, so I’m sure I made the right choice~~.”

I hadn’t even thought of a bag as a potential option. Guys always just carried the same bag around, but girls just piled bags on top of bags like a Russian nesting doll, and used a different bag every day.

Impressed, I gave Mihara a nod. Meanwhile, Tomonori’s girlish eyes were sparkling.

“There’re so many stuffed animals! I kinda want one now too!”

Tomonori had both her hands on the display window, her eyes shining.

… I lied. Those were definitely boyish eyes.

I felt I was looking at a small boy who wanted a clarinet for Christmas or something. If I were a generous father, I would be turning to Tomonori right now and going “sonny, do you want that?”

“There are a few stuffed animal specialty shops in Harajuku, but if you want to find something rather rare then this is where you have to go.”

Ah, I see. In that case, we could’ve probably just chosen to meet up here.

Perhaps he was tired, but Orito plopped himself down on the entranceway stairs.

Well, it’s not like it was a lingerie shop or anything, and I doubt there was much for him in a stuffed animal store, so once he saw exactly where we were headed he just gave up.

If he waited inside it would be a bother to the other customers anyways. It was pretty cold, but he and his grossness would figure out a way to deal with it. So, we ended up handing off all our baggage to him and going into the shop.

Unsurprisingly, a Christmas song was playing inside.

There were even more couples and girls inside than there were around the entrance. We all split up and began to search.

Searching might not be very easy, considering there were so many things being sold here.

I took a quick look around, and saw that Saras had stopped in her tracks and was staring at a stuffed animal.

She took it from the shelf, tested out how it felt to the touch, hugged it tight and tested out how it felt there too, and then put it back on the shelf. She crossed her arms and nodded twice.

“You found it?”

“Hm? N-No… the horned owl is not here, but…”

Saras looked a bit flustered, perhaps because I had so suddenly called out to her. She turned around, looking like she was trying to hide the shelf behind her.

When I tried to get a peek at what she had been looking at, she brought her face close to mine, blocking my view. I got really really curious what she was trying so hard to hide, and finally managed to grab a look. It was a stuffed animal of a chicken.

“… You like this kind of stuff?”

“Do not be ridiculous. Why would I like anything like this?”

Well, certainly, Saras didn’t seem to be the type to like stuffed animals.

“Well, sorry. So, why were you looking at that then?”

“… Um, t-that’s… well… mmm… perhaps this would also make a suitable present?”

“That stuffed chicken? It’s not very cute, is it?”

“Not very cute… I see. Do you not find me cute either…?”

“Rather than cute, I’d say you’re more beautiful. So I won’t deny that.”

“Hm? What’s going on over here?”

Mihara walked over. Mihara was a high school girl, so she probably had a pretty good sense of what was cute and what wasn’t. I showed her the stuffed chicken and asked her about it.

“Hm, looks pretty cute to me.”

She agreed with Saras. Well, okay, maybe it was possible then…

“But we’re here to find a stuffed owl.”

“Yes. That is true.” Saras looked a bit reluctant as she left that shelf behind.

Now that I was alone with Mihara, I tried to strike up a conversation.

“Mihara, you seem to know a lot about this kind of stuff.”

“Hmm, well, I don’t think you could say I know a lot…”

Conversation over. Now that I thought about it, there weren’t many things I could talk about with Mihara. I was almost never alone with her anyway since Tomonori or Orito were usually there. Even if I was alone with her, it’s not like there was much to talk about between someone on the basketball team and someone who wasn’t a part of any team at all.

“Ah, I’ll just go ask an employee.”

Dammit, while I was thinking about all this, Mihara just up and left.

I don’t think she hated me or anything… but I guess I got the feeling that we weren’t very close.

Well, I also guess that a zombie like me would never be able to just so casually go up to a shop employee and talk with them.

Mihara sprinted back toward me with a smile on her face.

“They don’t have horned owls, he said!”

Why the hell were you smiling then?! I wanted to retort with that, but Mihara kept on smiling and continued.

“But he also told me about a place that might have them.”

Nice one, milady! I quickly went around the shop, gathering everyone up again.

As I was doing that, I noticed Saras once again standing in front of the stuffed chicken.

She looked really interested in it, so I just grabbed the chicken off the shelf.

“I’ll buy it for you.”

“Hm? You make it sound like I want you to buy it for me.”

“Don’t you? You want this stuffed animal, don’t you?”

“No… I don’t mind either way. Just give it to one of the freeloaders in your house. This is… a nice piece of work.”

“But I haven’t bought a Christmas present for you yet.”

“Just being together like this is enough to make me supremely happy.”

I was sincerely happy to hear that, but I definitely also wanted to get her something.

Well, if Haruna didn’t like it I could always give it to Yuu, I guess. I brought the stuffed chicken to the register.

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