Episode 55: Katame Koime Oome De
“By the way!”
Honoka completely wrote off her sexual harassment of me as if it were a side note. Immediately after I slapped her hands off my chest, she stood up and raised her hand into the air.
“Hehehe. I’m going to assume…..that nobody properly had lunch today right—?”
“I haven’t had anything to eat…….I’m hungry…….”
“You told me not to eat anything before coming here, so I did what you told me.”
“Hohohoh. That’s good to hear.”
Honoka then formed a fist and pumped it into the air.
I took a look at a nearby clock in the meanwhile and saw that lunch time had already passed.
“Oh, it’s already past two. No wonder we’re feeling hungry.”
Hearing me, Honoka did a little spin in place, stretched out her chest, and put her hands on her waist.
“In tha~t case………follow me!”
What’s that? With a weirdly triumpant Honoka in the lead, Yuzuriha and I got up off the bench and began walking once again.
There were lines everywhere when we got further downtown. Meanwhile the shops were more tightly scrunched together than the people waiting in line to enter them.
I figured out pretty quickly we were heading to some kind of ramen shop while we were walking. We passed by all kinds of different ramen restaurants, but every time Honoka would say something like, “Not here, not yet.” There was apparently a special place she wanted to take us.
“I guess I should make sure first though—”
Honoka pulled back so she was walking next to me and Yuzuriha before asking for our opinions.
“Yuzuri~n. Are you okay with this? The smell and taste won’t be too tough on ya?”
“I-I’ll probably be fine……”
Yuzuriha clasped her hands over her chest and took a short breath to try and pump herself up. I’m guessing she pictured her future and didn’t like what she saw. Certainly, she seems like she’d have a weak stomach. Although……
“Aren’t you going to ask me what I think…….?”
“Yuu—, you seem like you’d be okay with it, so no”
“So that’s how it is…….”
I never entered their worries for a second. They might already think I don’t need to be treated as a woman anymore. I was always aiming for the boyish/androgynous image, but this is a little much.
As we kept walking deeper into the shopping district, the strong smell of pork wafted under my nose.
That smell served as a signal, and Honoka threw out her arms to stop me and Yuzuriha from going any further. A clear stream of steam swaying in the wind was coming from the window of the store we had stopped in front of. It was here that the powerful pork smell was coming from.
“Prepare yourselves. We’re about to enter a battlefield. Now let’s go!”
I’m not sure I’d ever call just having a meal a battle…….
We passed under a sign hanging off the red roof with Honoka at the front of our marching order. A waitress called out to welcome us as soon as we walked in, but Honoka went straight towards a corner of the room without having to glance around anywhere inside the store.
“Eh, we’re not grabbing a table?”
“Over here—, we have the ticket machine—!”
*Ta-da!* Honoka waved her arms in a grand sweeping motion to accentuate the existence of a certain machine. Really cute.
“Let’s see, let’s see—. What’ll it be this time? Medium or large and tons of different toppings to choose from.”
Honoka traced her finger along the different buttons, clearly eager to get cooking. However…….
“I’m not sure……”
“This is my first time here.”
Yuzuriha and I knew next to nothing about the place.
“I mean, it’s my first time here too.”
“Yeppers. I heard some people talking about it, and I wanted to stop by at least once.”
So that’s it. It’s just like Yuzu’s case. It’s true that it can be a bit intimidating heading to an otaku shop or heavy ramen place like this alone, and depending on your friends’ tastes, they might not be willing to go with you.
“So today’s the day. The three of us will get to……share, our, first, times. Can you feel yourself getting more mature already?”
“Knock off the sexy talk.”
I gave Honoka a karate chop to the head, and she happily giggled aloud. Could she be a closeted masochist?
Moving on. There are no waiting numbers, so no hurry on us. Then again, there’s no telling when someone else might line up behind us, so we shouldn’t dawdle.
“Did you do any research beforehand?”
“After this! I will challenge myself to throw down the gauntlet and do it when I get home tonight!”
“Commendable, if we weren’t already here.”
And you can’t really ‘challenge yourself’ to ‘throw down the gauntlet’. They mean the same thing. I looked over the different buttons while biting my tongue. There was a surprising number of different options available. So many in fact that I started getting lost in the different menu items.
“They’re especially famous for their tonkotsu.¹ The tonkotsu with soy sauce and salted tonkotsu are supposedly the best of the best though.”
Honoka pressed the button for the spicy green onion char siu while she was in the middle of singing the tonkotsu’s praises.
“Don’t look at me like that! This is what looked tastiest to me!”
“It’s okay, no judgement here.”
I shook my head and laughed.
This girl is always marching to the beat of her own drum, but that’s what makes her so cute. Let’s continue to get along with each other.
“I will get the tonkotsu with soy sauce……”
“Then I’ll get the salted one.”
“Hey hey—. How bout I buy lunch today? I’m the one who dragged you here after all—”
“No, that won’t be necessary.”
“No shank you”²
Yuzurin and I turned her down. My wallet will take a hit however….. I appreciate the offer, but it makes me feel uncomfortable having my friends spend money on me.
“What about the toppings—? With a castle tower out of seasoned eggs and thick stone wall of corn and seaweed surrounding it, we could add on a battery of menma and green onions to make an invincible fortress—”
“Is this the Sengoku period? You’re just going to make a mess…… It’s our first time here, so pull it back a notch.”
Honoka pointed to one of the topping buttons while she was talking.
“This momiji oroshi is supposed to be spicy right—? Since it has carrots mixed in with it I would’ve thought it’d be sweet though, so I’ll need to stay on guard.”
“H-Honoka…… Momiji oroshi doesn’t have any carrots in it……”
“Eh…..then what is it made from…….?”
“Daikon radish and chili peppers…….”
I guess I could understand the confusion.
After figuring out our toppings, the three of us got our meal tickets. It’s a simple, small piece of paper. Then following after Honoka, who once again took off trusting we would follow, we took a table with three empty chairs alongside the innermost wall.
Then shortly after we sat down, an athletic-looking older sister with short brown hair came to take our orders.
“Thank you for your orders. How would you like that done?”
How? What does that mean? This is why I always do research before trying anything new……
“Katame koime oome de”
“What kind of spell…….”
“Don’t think about it so much! It’s fine if you two want it normal—”
“I’ll have it normal then.”
“Ah, can I have, a smaller portion of noodles……?”
“Can do. Coming right up”
The waitress made a couple notes on our meal tickets before turning to leave……
“Ah, hold on!”
when Honoka raised her voice to call her back.
“Yes, what is it?”
“Am I fine to sit in the aisle seat?”
“Honoka, you can be such a bonehead. I think that waitress is still laughing.”
“It’s not busy right now, so it’s fine right—? And look! Now I have two flowers on each side!”
Honoka lifted her arms and played at squeezing Yuzurin and me. Cute. Maybe she thought it would be unbalanced to have two of us sitting in one booth with only one person in the other. The person sitting on their own could feel left out. I understand those feelings quite well.
So Honoka grabbed a chair and set it in the aisle alongside the table. So while Yuzuriha and I were facing each other, she was sitting beside us and facing the wall.
“Ha…..! Unless one of you wanted to be facing the wall?”
“No, we’re fine.”
I’ll admit, the aisle seat would give me a good position to feed both of them if I wanted to. If that’s what Honoka is aiming for, I would have to tip my hat to her.
I don’t have the confidence to do something like that myself yet, but unable to rest my hands, I poured each of us a glass of water from the pitcher the waitress gave us and handed out wet wipes.
“Oh! Thanks! That’s a good idea!”
This kind of attention to detail is important, so I always do my best to be on top of things. However, I need to be careful not to be only seen as a nice friend. I want to avoid experiencing the sad heartbreak of being written off because they never saw me ‘that way’.
“Anyways~, sorry to drag you here.”
“I wanted to come though? There’s nothing for you to apologize for.”
Seeing that we really didn’t mind, Honoka smiled and began kicking her legs back and forth under her chair. She then nodded her head, understanding that we weren’t just playing lip-service.
“Papa likes to take me to famous ramen restaurants like this. But he never brought me to this one because he heard girls don’t like the smell—”
“Actually, I rather like the smell.”
“But! I am a woman who loves ramen this much!”
“And cup noodles are my favorite type!”
“Don’t say that kind of thing in a store”
Even Honoka lowered her voice when I pointed that out, conscious of the store’s cooks and employees.
“Jokes aside. You and me are the same right Yuzurin? We were both looking for a chance to go somewhere!”
They both looked like fine young ladies even now. The same could be said for just about everyone else who goes to our school, so it’d probably be difficult for them to invite someone out normally. If that’s how it is, today could end up being very meaningful for the three of us. In regards to the future of the yuri harem of course.
“Uhyohoho! So good~! Super~!”
After a collective itadakimasu, Yuzuriha and I began by sipping up some of our broth while Honoka was getting worked up over her own bowl of ramen. Its red and shiny surface reminded me of magma.
“This…..is how much oil you need!”
She ran her spoon across the top layer of the dish, breaking the layer of oil and really showcasing the depth of the broth’s color.
The spell “katame koime oome de” is apparently meant to convey a preference for the noodles to be hard, the taste to be deep, and rich in the oil. I can understand it in my head, but this……
“Do you want to try a bite?”
“No, I’d really rather not……”
My stomach is liable to transform into a sea of flames just looking at this stuff. I’d be worried about the bowl catching on fire if I were the wait staff.
“Then, let me drink some of your soup—”
I stopped Honoka in her seat. She looked at me surprised over my strong response.
“Ah, did you mind that kind of thing?”
Does she now think I’m a bit of a germaphobe and don’t like people sharing my food? But you’re wrong. I have a more fundamental objection.
“That red……spice from the soup will get in mine…..won’t it?”
I pointed towards Honoka’s spoon which had become tinged with a shade of red after she ran it through her bowl.
“Oh no—! I screwed up!”
“I’d rather not have my ramen spicy thank you.”
“Uuu. You aren’t good with spicy food?”
“I’m not good with spicy food.”
I directly answered Honoka’s question while picking up my spoon and dipping it into my broth. I scooped up a portion of the soup and held it out to Honoka’s mouth, holding the bowl underneath to make sure none dripped on the table of course.
But despite my expectations that she would jump at the chance like she always does, Honoka didn’t bite at the opportunity. She instead wrapped her hands over her cheeks and started squirming in her chair while staring at my spoon.
“Geez……if you wanted an indirect kiss with me, all you had to do was ask. No, need, for, excuses—”
“Oh, do you not want any then?”
When I made a play at pulling the spoon back, Honoka threw her head forward and sucked up the soup. She’s so cute it makes me want to be a little mean to her.
Obviously I can’t not be a little conscious of indirect kisses. They’re fantastic? I’ve read before that girls’ schools create a unique setting where people are more apt to play around and experiment with same sex attraction. It’s for the best that everyone be happy, happy, happy together. Of course that doesn’t mean I can just walk in and assume everyone I talk to is going to be gay. But when I started my grand harem plan, I did so ready to desperately ingratiate myself to others and help them awaken.
“The salted tonkotsu is tasty— But maybe there’s a bit too much salt? It’s a deep flavor.”
“The oil and flavor are strong. I’ll know for next time to ask for less oil and seasoning.”
“You’ll get used to it soon enough. The oil’ll grow on you.”
“I don’t think I want to get used to it.”
Honoka thinks it’d be fine because she’s a ramen enthusiast. For any other ordinary girl, health is a greater concern. Especially in the stomach area…….
“So then! It’s Yuzurin’s turn right?”
As if it were a matter of course, Honoka turned her gaze towards Yuzuriha’s broth while fluttering her fingers. What kind of movement is that supposed to be?
Thereupon Yuzu pushed her bowl over towards Honoka.
“Drink……what you’d like”
“Ooh!? Yuzurin’s being cold!”
“Liar. She’s letting you take your drink.”
Yuzuriha pulled a spoon of soup out for Honoka just as she began pouting. It threw Honoka off for a second, causing her to stammer a “W-What?” I guess Yuzuriha wanted to bully Honoka too.
“It’s delicious! So this is what their tonkotsu with soy sauce tastes like—”
Honoka nodded her head satisfied.
And then without skipping a beat, Yuzuriha scooped up another spoonful of her broth and held it towards my mouth.
“Oh, thank you”
I set my lips to the edge of her spoon and sipped up the soup. Oh, that really is delicious. I locked eyes with Yuzuriha and nodded my thanks again.
But despite me having already sipped up the soup, she didn’t move her spoon.
“Lick it all up.”
What did she just say?
Oh god that wasn’t a real question.
I’ve been backed into a corner. I slowly wrapped my lips around the spoon and finished licking up the lingering soup. *Slick*……my focus was placed heavily on the spoon, but as soon as my lips had completely slid off, I turned my eyes back towards Yuzuriha. She seemed strangely satisfied, slowly drawing back her hand with a mystifying smile.
Hmmm? Yuzurin, are you actually secretly an S? You’re looking positively ecstatic.
“This isn’t…….that bad either…….”
“It’s……nothing. Don’t worry”
I think a door somewhere in Yuzuriha’s heart just opened.
For a while, there was only bits of small talk shared between us. We worked through our food, and soon the bottom of the bowls came into view.
The broth’s consistency thinned the further in I went, but it was tasty all the same. I was slowly nursing the last ten percent, but my stomach’s stuffed and the chopsticks aren’t moving the fastest.
I heard a small clattering of chopsticks from across the table. When I looked up, Yuzuriha was clapping her hands together, “Thanks for the meal,” and relaxing back in her chair.
“Already finished Yuzu?”
“I’m small……and I’ll get fat if I eat a lot……”
She rubbed her hand along her stomach. True, my skin is feeling oily as it is. Things’ll get more difficult if I put on any more weight. No, I’m still safe. I would go as far as to say I’m still within the margins of perfect. Cuddly and squishy at the worst.
Anyways, with Yuzuriha already done, I got to work trying to finish off my own noodles so she didn’t have to wait for too long. It was just a short burst to the end.
However sitting next to me, Honoka was clearly struggling while wiping away her sweat with a wet wipe. Just when I was wondering if something was wrong,
“Yeah~……this is tough……”
2. Yuzuriha doing her best at an English response.
3. A reference to the Final Fantasy spell gravity.