Afternoon tea and snack time today had turned into an affair focusing on Hiyori, who’d just returned from her children’s association Halloween party. Recognizing that she’d have filled herself up on candy already, today they were only enjoying some black tea.
“So, did you enjoy the party?”
Hiyori nodded with a bright, full-faced grin at Yokozawa’s question. “Yup! It was a lot of fun with everyone all dressed up in costume! And I got a lot of people to take pictures too. They’re gonna print them out and bring them later, they said.”
The children who’d stopped by the Kirishimas’ apartment begging for candy had been decked out in all manner of costumes. Some had been dressed up as witches like Hiyori, while others had posed as ghosts, covered head to toe in a sheet. He supposed this was a rather enjoyable event for children, getting to receive so much candy.
“Looks like you got a boatload of candy, too. Take care not to get any cavities from eating too much, got it?”
Hiyori had brought bag a sack full of candy. Given that she was in fifth grade now, she was no longer of an age where she might go overboard with eating and drinking, but she still needed to be a bit careful.
“It’s all right! I’ll be sure to brush my teeth. Oh, and the pumpkin pie that Yuki-chan’s mom made was really tasty! She said she made it from the inside of the jack-o-lantern!”
“Well that is something. Her mom’s pretty talented, after all. And speaking of pumpkins…we’re having that for dinner.”
At Kirishima’s comment, she turned her eyes to Yokozawa. “Really?? What’re you making, Oniichan?”
“Hey, why didn’t you ask me?”
“Because there’s no way you made it, Dad.”
“I’ll have you know we made it together today.”
Yokozawa cast the boastful Kirishima a wry grin; ‘together’ though he might claim, he hadn’t really helped much at all. Yokozawa had only let him near the items that he could be sure Kirishima wouldn’t screw up.
“I only let him cut up the pumpkin. We’re having pumpkin au gratin.”
“Woohoo! I love gratin!”
The cookbook he’d received from Hatori was indeed proving useful. He’d always been the type to get the hang of things once he got started, but lately he’d found himself trying out more and more new recipes in the hopes of seeing Hiyori’s smiling face.
It was hard to mess up cooking if you just followed the recipe carefully, and perhaps because he could see the results clearly, it left him with a profound sense of accomplishment.
“Oh right! I brought back some souvenirs!”
“Souvenirs?” Perhaps something else had been passed out besides just candy at the party. Hiyori dug around inside a paper bag before tugging out the items she’d been looking for. “Here you go! Kitty-ear headbands! They had some left over from the ones they made for kids without costumes, so they let me have the extras!” She held out two headbands fit with triangle-shaped ears like a cat’s.
“So these are handmade? Not bad.” Kirishima looked over the headband in his hands carefully, offering praise. It seemed they’d attached triangular ears with fake fur to a simple over-the-counter headband.
“Aren’t they adorable? They had a few different types, so I grabbed the black ones to match with Sora-chan!”
“Now that you mention it, they do match.” Sorata’s ears perked up at his name, and he glanced over.
“C’mon, Dad! Try them on!”
“Me? I dunno, I tend to look really good in this kind of thing, so that might not be such a good idea…” He took the proffered headband from Hiyori and settled it on his head, complaining about the tight fit as he did so.
“Wow, you’re right! It looks really good on you!”
“Didn’t I tell ya?” The headband portion was hidden well by his hair, so it made him look like he had cat ears. He looked every bit the part of a fickle feline with a devilish smile, and Yokozawa had to admit he hadn’t been lying; he did indeed look good.
“You should do it with me next year! I bet you’d look great as a vampire or somethin!”
“Hmm, it might be nice to coordinate our costumes too, though. How about Yokozawa as a Wolfman, then? Or maybe all three of us as vampires? That’d be pretty cool.”
“Ooh I like that! We’d all look awesome!!”
The pair seemed utterly engrossed in their conversation about the coming year’s festivities, their heads filled with unimaginable fantasies.
“We’ll have to look and see if there’s any kind of event we can take part in.”
“I’ll pass.” Just watching them was fine, but he didn’t want to get drawn into having to don a costume of his own. But as he offered up a preemptive withdrawal, Hiyori returned a disappointed whine.
“‘Why’? Because I’m not suited for that kind of thing, of course.”
“That’s not true at all! You’re super cool, Oniichan! You’d probably look good in anything!”
“No, I mean, just…” He appreciated the compliment, but that wasn’t the issue here. He couldn’t imagine any sort of costume that might actually look good on him.
“Here, try this on for now.”
“I said I’m fine–”
“C’mon, play along. Get into the Halloween spirit!”
“Yeah, c’mon, Oniichan! It’s just for a little bit, pleeeeaaase?” He was weak to Hiyori’s requests, and while he could chalk Kirishima’s comments up to simple teasing, when faced with such an innocent gaze, he found he couldn’t refuse. Relinquishing the battle to those hope-filled eyes, he reluctantly gave in.
“…Only for a little bit.”
“And don’t laugh.”
“We’ll be fine, honest!”
“And don’t you DARE take any pictures!”
“Yeah yeah okay, I got it. Now put the damn thing on.”
“………” He grudgingly placed the headband he received from Kirishima on his head, wincing as it pinched because it was far too small, something he should have expected given Kirishima’s earlier complaints.
“…The hell’s with that reaction?”
Not only Kirishima bit Hiyori as well had their faces screwed up in confusion. “No, just…it strangely doesn’t look good on you at all… I was sure it’d look way cuter on you, too…”
“Shut up! This is why I didn’t want to wear it!” It pissed him off royally that Kirishima had the gall to say something like that after practically forcing him to wear the thing in the first place. It was outrageous!
“It’s okay, Oniichan! You look cute!”
“…You really don’t have to force yourself to try and cheer me up, Hiyo.” He felt pathetic having Hiyori feel like she needed to say something here, and with a sigh, he tugged off the headband–only to have Kirishima pipe up in a voice that said he’d just had a great idea.
“Hey, since everyone calls you the Wild Bear, maybe you’d look better with bear ears, then? That settles it–we’ll have to find some by next year!”
“I said I don’t need any!”
“Or maybe a vampire would be better?”
“Good point; something more formal like that’s probably gonna suit him more.”
And despite releasing yet another sigh at the father-daughter pair who’d once again slipped into serious conversation, he couldn’t help but be just the tiniest bit happy…that they were discussing his still being around next year.