Full disclosure: I love Kureno to a completely unreasonable degree.
About a week and a half ago, at a convenience store late at night, I saw you for the first time. I don’t really understand it, but when you laughed so hard you were crying, it made me feel warm inside. I could have watched that all night.
So this chapter is kind of about Arisa, but also about Kureno, whose clumsiness forcibly reminded her of Tohru.
They just happen to run into each other again, so Kureno treats her to lunch. Evidently they both thought of each other a lot in the interim – so basically, it’s a love at first sight scenario, but it works surprisingly well for the characters. Arisa was immediately reminded of her best friend, while Kureno…well, let’s just say that “twist” at the end of the chapter gives you a big hint about why he might fall in love so easily.
Kureno: Would you believe that was my first time buying something at a convenience store? It’s probably pathetic. I didn’t even know how to shop there…
Arisa: What are you!? The king of some nation!? I mean, that was your first time at a convenience store!? At twenty-six!? And you’re a man!?
Kureno: There’s no point in going. It was a very rare circumstance for me to go to a convenience store that night. Normally, I don’t do things that are unnecessary. I live my lot in life, work, and that’s about it. So when I find myself with free time, like today, I don’t have any idea what to do.
Kureno speaks rather formally, but he has significant gaps in his social skills (most notably, he immediately starts calling Arisa by her first name, sans “-san”) and is more than a little tactless.
Arisa: Are you happy, living like that?
Kureno: I would say so. I don’t want for anything…I’m content. Probably more than anyone.
Arisa: If that’s the case, then why don’t you ever smile like you mean it? (internally) I noticed it the first time we met…now too. Every now and then, he has the saddest smile. (aloud) Sorry if I wasted your time. That wasted time is when we met. Hell, even now. Although I never thought of it as a waste! Meeting you in the convenience store, having soba with you like this…y’know, ever since that night, I’ve been…I’ve been wanting to see you again! So I was really happy! (internally) […] Sorry I wasn’t entertaining enough and couldn’t make you smile!
Of course he immediately apologizes and admits that he’s been thinking of her, too, and they’re too adorable.
Kureno: Did I embarrass you?
Arisa: Shut up!
Kureno: You are embarrassed.
Arisa: (internally) Ah. Now here’s a real smile.
If Arisa hadn’t been her overly expressive self and forced him to fight for her, Kureno probably would have just forgotten her eventually, but she forced him to acknowledge his own feelings as well as venting her own.
Arisa: That was like saying “I love you.”
Tohru, Arisa, Saki, and Megumi get together for supper later, and naturally they discuss Arisa’s encounter. They start by acknowledging the nine-year age gap which, well, if that bothers you, just know that Takaya-sensei has a thing for May-December romances; this won’t be the last, largest age gap, or most problematic.
Tohru: My dad was eight years older than my mom, but I hear they were crazy about each other! Still, just the idea that one of my best friends might fall in love makes me feel a little lonely.
Hana-chan gives Tohru a significant look at this remark, while Arisa lectures her about how she’s totally going to have a boyfriend soon and they’ll be sure to crash the first date.
If I could, I would watch over you forever. I would stay by your side. If our lips could be joined forever…but it’s not to be. I won’t ever be able to see you again.
Akito: Welcome home, Kureno. You didn’t cause any trouble on the “Outside,” did you…?
It was pretty easy to guess that Kureno was really a Sohma, but it does seem odd that he might be firmly entrenched “Inside”, yet this is the first we’ve seen (or heard) of him.
Next time: Saki’s story…