DAY 26 | DIAMOND
"What about this one?"
"Blech! Shouko-chan wouldn’t be caught dead in that!"
"Haa, you think so—?"
"I know so! Which is more than I can say for you, Kanba-kun…"
Adrift in the uncharted territory of a high-class department store, Kanba scratches his head in confusion. Maybe she’s right; he doesn’t know the first thing as far as jewelry concerned, let alone what makes for a good birthday present, or what looks fetching on Shouko.
"Of course you don’t know anything," Ringo crows next to him, reading his expression plain as day. "Why do you think I’m here?”
"…" Kanba can’t tell if this is a trick question or not. "Bonding…?"
Thunk. Ringo gives him a fair whack over his arm, shaking her wrist out afterward. He’s unsure of if he should thankful that it hurts a great deal less than her blows to him in the past have.
"Honestly," says Ringo, continuing to give him a piece of her mind, "your whole family can’t do anything without me, can you?"
That wins a short laugh out of Kanba. “I guess not.”
They stand shoulder to shoulder in front of a display case of earrings. Kanba was certain that choosing any of these would be a satisfying token for Shouko, but now that he’s gotten scolded for the idea, he’s starting to have second thoughts. Is it really so lousy?
Feeling some sympathy for the guy, Ringo softens by degrees, decides to enlighten him with what she thinks is best. “You can’t get Shouko-chan anything flashy from here,” she says. “It sounds like a great idea, but they’re just going to be hidden by all that hair of hers, you know?”
Kanba never considered that… “Her hair,” he echoes lamely, feeling foolish.
"That’s right. Sure, she could wear it up, but you know how much work that is for her."
Ringo forgives him for being…overwhelmed, and the patting she gives Kanba is only slightly awkward.
"Ah, is the happy couple having trouble making up their minds…?"
Their heads turn toward a busybody of a salesman, who’s either overheard their plight, or decided to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong. Nonetheless, Kanba puts his hands up in defense before the man can heckle them any further than he already has. A couple? Him and Oginome?
"Who, us—?! N-no, you’ve got the…" Stuttering, he looks to Ringo, who merely blinks back at him in silence. "No, not us, we’re…no, no, no, no, no, no…"
This goes on until the salesman picks up on the hint and departs, uttering some choice words under his breath that luckily escape everyone else’s ears.
Kanba sighs, slumping over—and gets hit more forcefully. “Ow!”
"Thirty-seven ‘no’s? Really?!"
"Do I not look like a catch to you, Kanba-kun?!"
"Jeez, I’m sorry…!"
"I’m telling your precious fiance when we get home!”
"Sorry, I’m sorry…" Kanba rubs at his probably-bruised arm, wincing.
Ringo still appears none too pleased, examining her fingernails closely. “I don’t know how she puts up with you…”
He doesn’t need to ask who. “Like an angel, thanks for asking…”
As she spins away from him, Kanba worries briefly if this is going to be the end of their outing. He doesn’t want to be stuck here by his lonesome, goaded into buying more things than he needs, when all he’d like to do is make Shouko’s birthday—her first adult one, at that—something special. There isn’t much time left to do so.
To his relief, Ringo’s moving on to a different display, seemingly forgetting their altercation. “Are you coming?”
Nodding, Kanba jogs to keep pace with her, fascinated at the other baubles strewn everywhere.
Ringo’s lips are pursed, as if thinking of something important. “Hey, Kanba-kun…”
"How much money are you spending on this, anyway—?" The girl stops, tilting her head over at Kanba. "It’s none of my business, but I know how much you’ve put into the wedding already, so…"
Kanba frowns again. This is a topic he doesn’t care to discuss so openly, but he supposes that she has somewhat of a right to know. “It’s…” He worries at his hair, unsure of how to phrase it. “It’s the last of that money, so…instead of having it lie around, I thought I’d put it all into this…”
Ringo taps her fingers against her chin, thoughtful. After she absorbs this information, she nods once, satisfied. “That’d make sense, huh? If you don’t do it now, there may not be another time…” Nodding to herself as well, she redirects her focus to a selection of necklaces. “Sorry for asking.”
"Nah. It’s good for you to know, too."
"If you say so."
Shrugging, Kanba follows her line of sight. Some of these look like they’ll be expensive enough for him to a foot a generous bill, but he’s as clueless as ever to what would suit Shouko the best.
"Maybe this one?" Ringo points it out for him: a delicate chain that carries a small pendant made out of diamond, if not something similar.
"Or if you need something bigger—"
"N-no!" Kanba’s face is getting flushed, and he gapes a little at Ringo. "I mean…are you sure it’d be okay?"
"You like her neck, don’t you?"
"Aah…!" Now he’s definitely turning red.
Ringo laughs at his pain. “Don’t be embarrassed, it’s one of Shouko-chan’s best features.” She would know, she’s thought plenty of it as well; though that’s information Kanba doesn’t need to find out. There’s no sense in tormenting him with her desires of a woman she can no longer win. “Really, though,” she says, “it looks pretty good to me, but I’m not her.”
"Well, if you really think…" Kanba inches closer to get a better look. The pendant, while noticeable, is a small enough size to not draw too much attention to itself. It glitters when the light hits it in just the right way, and its quality as a whole seems nothing short of superb to his untrained eye. Hopefully it still is to the right one, as well.
“I think you should go for it,” Ringo urges him. “Any woman would be lucky to get something like that.”
"Hey, I would."
Her comment strikes him strangely, but she’s looking away from him, so Kanba figures it’s a good idea not to pursue that.
Grabbing a less-pushy salesman than the one they encountered earlier, the purchase is made, and they soon find themselves standing out in the street, Kanba clutching a velvet box bewilderingly while Ringo looks upon him with pride.
"Well done! You’re a classier man than I pegged you for, Kanba-kun."
"Wasn’t it your idea to come here…?"
"Never mind that!" Ringo waves it off, and steers Kanba by his untouched arm away from the department store, and through the rest of the district they’re in. "Come on, I’ll buy us lunch."
"You? Buying me something?” Kanba can hardly believe it.
"Hey, if you’ve got more yen to burn…"
Now that she mentions it… “Ah, never mind.”
"As expected of the classy Kanba-kun. Now, hurry up!"
Struggling to catch up to the ever-exuberant Oginome Ringo, Kanba hopes that she doesn’t plan on making a habit of these outings as the days tick down to his wedding.