Koujaku’s Valentine’s Day short story translation! (I haven’t seen anyone do Koujaku’s yet, anyway, so! Apologies if there are any inaccuracies! If you spot anything, please let me know, this is pretty rough after all. Original text posted on the staff blog.)

[One of the chocolate…Koujaku]
—-
[Today, let’s eat dinner together.]

Having received such a text from Koujaku, on my way back from work I dropped by the supermarket and headed towards Koujaku’s place.
Eating dinner together usually means I make it. Even though Koujaku himself can cook somewhat, he always has me make it.
Well, it’s not like I don’t like cooking, so it’s fine.
Tonight the whole island seems festive, and I get the feeling there are a lot of couples walking by on the street.
It’s not like I was spurred by that sort of thing, but I walked the usual path faster than normal and climbed the steps of the building Koujaku lives in.
I walk down the hall and stand in front of the door of his room; when I press the intercom, it soon opens.
"Oh, Aoba. Thanks for coming over."
"Thanks for having me. Can I come in?"
"Sure."

Like always, Koujaku opens the door for me; I slip in to his side and take off my shoes as I enter.
I move further inside to immediately put the groceries away in the refrigerator… Something feels off.
Stopping in my tracks, I survey the room.
… Ah. It’s not there.
Today is Valentine’s Day. And yet, there’s no mountain of paper bags packed to overflowing with chocolate.
Even though every year at this time Koujaku’s room gets into that kind of dreadful state.
Being Koujaku, it’s not likely he wouldn’t receive a single chocolate.
"What’s wrong?"

From behind me, standing stopped in the entrance of his room, comes Koujaku’s curious voice.
"Ah, nothing. I was just thinking that there wasn’t any chocolate. Normally every year you get a huge amount."
"Yeah, I turned them all down."
"……… Huh?"

Koujaku’s reply came so casually that I reflexively turned to look at him.
"Turned them down? Why?"
"Wouldn’t it be unkind to the givers?"
"Unkind?"
"I’m not playing around now."
"Ah….."

So that’s it. In short, because he’s going out with me, he can’t accept favors from other people.
How should I put this, this guy….
"You know, sometimes your earnestness or, how should I say it, faithfulness is amazing."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah."

I nod a little and head towards the refrigerator to put away the food.
Opening the refrigerator door, I toss the ingredients in one after the other. While my hands are moving, though, I’m not really paying attention.
I can feel my heartbeat speeding up.
… This is bad. What should I do? I’ve miscalculated.
I didn’t think that Koujaku wouldn’t receive any chocolates at all.
"Hey, Aoba?"

My name being called startles me. At some point, my hands had stopped and I’d left the refrigerator door open.
Feigning calm, my hurried hands move.
"What is it?"
"Nothing, just that you’re spacing out."
"Ah, sorry, it’s nothing."

Despite this answer, Koujaku comes close to peer into my face.
"Don’t you look a little off?"
"It’s not like that."

Replying so, I unconsciously turn my face away so he can’t see it. The impatience I felt earlier gets steadily worse.
Somehow, the words won’t come out well.
I don’t understand it well myself, but it feels like my face is going to stiffen and cramp up, and my expressions won’t come out right.
What is this…..?
At any rate, in order to finish the work that’s right in front of me I need to try and focus.
"Aoba."
"Mm?"
"Is there nothing from Aoba?"
"Of what?"
"Chocolate."

… I nearly dropped the carrot I’d just picked up.
"Not any. Nope. None."
"Seriously. You know, I was secretly really looking forward to it?"
"None. At. All."

Having somehow safely put away the ingredients, I turn around to meet Koujaku’s questioning eyes, unable to tell whether I was serious or joking.
Koujaku folds his arms and laughs lightly, leaning on the refrigerator.
"Really?"
"Not any. I didn’t buy you any."
"Did you make me any?"
"…. Hah? You—"

As if to interrupt my objection, Koujaku points behind me with a motion of his chin.
"So then, what’s been peeking from that bag from the start?"
"……."

……. Damn it.
I immediately turn my head to look at the bag.
The bag I’d carelessly discarded to the floor had a zipper slightly open, where a rectangular box was poking out.
"Well, that is…"
"That’s an unusual-looking box."
"G-grandma’s package, I accidentally brought it with me… it seems…?"

Even to me it seemed a painfully lame excuse, delivered with a painful smile.  Koujaku just quietly shook his head.
"You’re a terrible liar, I know that very well."
"…….."
"Well now, you had some after all."
"That’s why I’m saying, that’s—!"
"Did you make it?"

With such a direct interjection, there was no hiding.
Even so, I couldn’t admit defeat and instead looked down to avoid Koujaku’s eyes.
"Seriously…"

He seemed to take my reaction as an affirmative. There’s surprise mixed into Koujaku’s voice. Because of that, I felt more and more cornered.
"Why did you try to hide it?"
"… Er, how do I put this…"

Actually, I know the reason. The true shape of my earlier impatience.
To be honest, I hadn’t thought very hard about it at first. Valentine chocolates weren’t necessarily always given by a girl to a guy, they were sometimes given regardless of gender.
So, to express my everyday feelings of gratitude, I thought handmade was better so I could control the taste and make adjustments, and also it isn’t very difficult; I thought lightly that I’d just make it and didn’t take it too seriously.
I can’t tell whether he’s joking or serious, but Koujaku normally says things like “I want to eat that, make this for me,” anyway.
And then there was the mountain of chocolates Koujaku got every year anyway, so I thought maybe I’d get on board with that and give him some too, or something…
But this year, when I heard he’d declined all of them, it became difficult to say anything.
It would’ve been better if I’d just bought it… When I think about it calmly, a guy making chocolate for another guy would draw attention, wouldn’t it.
It would’ve been better if I hadn’t…
"…. Sorry."
"Why are you apologizing?"
"Well, isn’t it gross?"
"What?"
"A guy’s handmade chocolate."

Even if I said it myself I’m horribly embarrassed.
Hearing my words, Koujaku heaves a sigh, seeming to get a little angry.
"You know what…"

Then, all of a sudden he forcefully embraced me.
I feel his hot breath on my ear.
"Did you really think I’d say it was gross? Of course I’d be happy. Aoba made it just for me. I’m really glad."
"……"

With those murmured words seeming to soak into the inner parts of my ears, this time I’m embarrassed in a different meaning of the word.
Koujaku parts our bodies a little and gazes into my face, then kisses me lightly and smiles.
"Thank you. I’ll be sure to carefully enjoy them."
"…. Yeah."

Looking at that face, the thought, “was it really okay to make them after all?” crosses my mind, just a little bit.
Thinking that, my face heats, and to hide it I bury my face into Koujaku’s shoulder.