Recently the Commander has been humming the same song over and over again, Zuikaku observed. Be it at work, in the mess hall, or even when she passed him by chance, she would hear that song.
It was getting annoying, not because of the tune, which she’d admit was quite ear-catching despite sounding rather old-fashioned. What annoyed her was the curiosity eating away at her—she would really, really like to know the title.
“Well, just ask the Commander directly!” or something along those lines was the suggestion some of her peers gave her—with an expression that says, duh, why don’t you think of that, no less.
In truth, she already did.
“Oh, curious, are you? I suppose I could tell you, but I think I’d rather not…”
Of course, the Commander only saw her genuine question as an opportunity to mess with her. But still, it did motivate her to get back at him by finding the answer herself.
A few days passed after that, and she’s still looking for it. While it did not disrupt her work at all, it still gave way to a troubled expression that her sister took notice of.
“…So, no luck so far?”
“Ughh, nope. Maybe I should just drop it—but still, ugh…!”
Shoukaku covered her mouth with her sleeve for a discreet giggle. Stubborn as ever, whether it’s about trying to beat the Grey Ghost or just guessing a song,
“Hey, Shoukaku-nee, you heard it a few times too, right? Maybe you can tell me?”
Shoukaku frowned and pursed her lips. Her sister is looking in her direction with such expectant eyes; she did not know the answer, but at least she could suggest something…
“I do, but I don’t think I know the answer to that. However, since the Commander is proud of being from Kansai, maybe it’s just a local tune? Of course, there is also a possibility it’s just an old song. Probably enka. Or kayokyoku.”
Right, old songs, Zuikaku realized. The Commander has many old man’s tastes, so it’s not surprising if it’s true. But that also means she cannot really draw from her knowledge; she only knew modern pop. She figured she cannot ask anyone something like, “Hey, do you know any Kansai songs?” either; that probably would only result in her looking like a fool.
“Well, I’m not going to stop you from thinking about it, but don’t let it get to you, okay?” Shoukaku said before she left. It sounded like a suggestion, but her tone left no room for argument; so Zuikaku simply gave her a nod and once more pressed her forehead against the table after that.
“You looked a little out of it,” the Commander commented when Zuikaku reported for duty the next morning.
That’s your fault, she thought bitterly. “Sorry, Commander,” instead of voicing the unpleasant thought, she apologized with the sincerest tone she could manage.
“You know, I read that humming a song is good for stress relief; maybe you should give it a try,” he continued, and Zuikaku fought the urge to roll her eyes.
“…Maybe some other time…”
Despite the noncommittal reply, the Commander smiled anyway.
“Well then, let’s get to work.”
As Zuikaku expected, not even ten minutes into his paperwork, the Commander started humming the very same song that has been haunting her.
Without realizing it, she began humming along.
“…Well, I never thought you would do that. Honestly, I’m surprised.”
When she heard the Commander’s remarks, the carrier stopped right away, blushed darkly, and set her pen down with probably more force than necessary.
“…With all due respect, Commander, it’s your fault. Seriously. I only asked you what it’s called, and you dodged the question. I’m swallowing my pride here, so just tell me already, geez!”
When Zuikaku’s brief yet furious rant was over, the Commander was left momentarily speechless, but not for long.
“Just so you know, I’m sorry about that. I never thought you would be that curious over some baseball tune.”
“I was quite a fanatic back then. Naturally, I’d always root for Hanshin Tigers; they have the best cheering song, you know? I often cannot help but ramble when the Tigers were brought up.”
“Oh,” Zuikaku muttered as she realized something. “So…I guess you didn’t tell me before…because you don’t want to ramble?”
“Hey, you are just going to get bored, I know. I mean, I like talking about them, but I draw the line when it comes to conversing with someone who probably doesn’t share your interest, you know?”
Zuikaku let out an amused snort before resting her chin on both hands.
“it’s only morning, and we still have time. Since you already told me this, maybe you might as well continue,” she said, smiling.
“…Is that a challenge? Very well. You see, they...”
After one crash course on Hanshin Tigers and returning to paperwork later, Zuikaku found herself humming the tune again.
Only this time, she had no reason to object. It was, after all, a good stress relief indeed.