I'm Not Looking For Cinderella - 1 - Chapter 25 Rei
Chapter 25 Rei
The sky is cloudy. No rain.
It looks like it’s going to rain, but it won’t.
I guess they know everything. Suddenly you want to get comfortable.
Once I’ve decided that, my mouth runs as smoothly as if it were oiled.
“…… Dad is in the hospital. He’s in the hospital with pneumonia. He’s always had a weak windpipe. He’s busy with work and the changing of the seasons, right? At that time, he always gets a cough that won’t stop. And this time, I was too tired and this happened.
Madou listened to my words in silence.
I continued to open my mouth as if I were turning the pages of a picture book.
“My mother told me. <<She told me to take care of Mai. Maybe that’s why I was so angry. I didn’t tell Mai about Dad’s hospitalization because I knew she’d be worried if she knew. But I guess I was at my limit. But I still couldn’t tell her. I thought it was a lot for one person to carry… I’m sorry. …… Rei seemed so light-mouthed that I didn’t tell you.”
The best he could muster.
Madou did not laugh.
Instead, he murmured softly, like a dead leaf on the surface of the water.
“I know,…… I know,…… I know it all now.”
“I left you on Saturday and found you walking into the hospital on Sunday. I knew it was private. But I was curious about how you were doing. …… I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“That’s not funny at all, really.”
“It’s so boring, I’m going to start crying.”
Tear streaks form on Madou’s expressionless cheeks.
He must have felt betrayed. He deserved it.
“I was an idiot. You should have told Rei. I should have asked him to help me.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m just sad because I’m such an idiot.
Why don’t you ask him for more details?
I wouldn’t know anything if you asked me. Then just watch. I was supposed to watch you take out the trash, wipe the desk, fix the bench… didn’t you know?
“No, I didn’t know.”
“Then you’re an idiot, too.”
Madou did not wipe his tears.
He continued to take one step and then another. We stopped just before we bumped into each other.
I sat down, and Madou stood up.
I would have looked down on him if he was standing upright, but now he was looking down on me.
“Really, you idiot!”
As if my face was buried in my uniform, Shindou hugged my head.
Walnut-colored hair envelops me.
I wonder whose heart is beating like it’s about to burst.
I let my heart beat to an unknown beat.
“…… I’m glad Rei came. I felt safer knowing I wasn’t alone. Thank you.”
Madou’s voice sounded like an admonition.
“You’re not alone to begin with. Mai is here, and so am I. Your father is here, and I’m sure your mother is watching from the sky. So you mustn’t be mistaken. You’re not alone.”
“Yeah, I guess I am. ……”
<Take care of Mai.
Why did she think she had to do it alone?
She could have had a future with the people around her. She could have asked her family for help.
But it’s not too late… yet.
“Hey, Rei ……, will you continue to help me?”
Now I know how easily anxiety can be melted away.
I guess it’s true what they say about talking to someone about your problems.
My vision is dark. A soft smell surrounds me. My shoulders relax.
The magic that had been going around in my head drops away.
“Of course. I’m very persistent.
“I see. ……”
“Yes, I do. And I’m hungry.
“Well, I’ll make you dinner.”
Then I’ll make it myself.
Yes, it’s my pleasure.
The air was damp in the deserted hiding place.
We were in contact.
We were in contact.
In the time that had stopped, surrounded by Rei’s scent – but the time that would never stop, I felt the pulsation behind the softness of the air.
But the ice will break one day.
I revealed my innermost feelings to him, and I – or rather, Rei and I – suddenly came to our senses.
“By the way, how long are we going to do this ……?”
I felt Shindo’s body stiffen as he realized something.
<…… gokuri> and Rei’s throat moved loudly.
“Well, come on,……? If there are any rules, I’ll follow them,…….”
“So, you know, if there’s a signal or something, I’ll follow it. ……
“No, there are no rules. ……
“Yes, you’re right, now. Now you leave. ……
We slowly drifted apart like a postcard and a postage stamp blurred by water.
Rather than feeling sorry for each other, we slowly pulled away, as if we were pretending it had never happened.
We stared at each other for a while, and then I told him the truth.
“I feel kind of embarrassed, don’t you?
“Hey! You’re not allowed to say that!
“Why are you mad at me ……?”
“Because you didn’t tell me about your father, didn’t you?”
“That’s …… sorry. I’m sorry.
“Oh, God! Why do you look so gloomy? It’s not fair! It’s my fault!”
Ray, who was preoccupied by himself, was really cute.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“…… I’m feeling the most malice ever.”
“Oh, my God.” “Oh, my God.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“No, I won’t. I won’t forgive you.”
Ray pushes me away with his fingertips and turns away.
But I’m sure his face looks like he’s smiling.
“……What the h**l,……, I really …… feel like an idiot for worrying about you. ……”
Turning his head to the side, Rei gave me a look of unreliable denial.
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
My words conflicted with my heart.
My feelings for Rei came and went.
Ray, thank you.
I can never thank you enough.
I’ll tell you anything from now on.
I’ll tell you anything.
I look forward to working with you.
But let’s talk about your decision a little later.
I don’t think I want to tell you now that my name has changed from Shindou to Rei in my mind.
“I sense continued malice from you, Jin-kun. ……
That’s not something you say with a smile on your face.
Rei is cute and funny.
Are you nuts? Yeah, you’re right, I’m an idiot! But I don’t feel bad about it. ……
“What do you want for dinner tonight?”
“Okay, I’m on it. I’ll make you something special.
“Oh, yeah? Well, you’ll have to forgive me. ……
Rei, you’re so simple and sweet.
I take it back.
I take it back.
If the page will let you, just a little bit more.
I’d like to tease her a little longer, not realizing that she has a happy expression on her face.
After I told Rei everything.
I feel somewhat lighter and my relationship with Rei has changed, if only slightly …….
Of course, my school life also changed a little …….
I don’t know what changed, to be honest.
But I am sure that Rei helped me.
I believe I was doing well.
I believed I was doing well – in fact, I don’t think I had anyone I could call a friend, but Rei would often come to my desk.
“Jin-kun, I skipped breakfast,” she would say.
Jin-kun, please give me my lunch box.
Jin-kun, what’s on the menu for dinner?
Basically, all they talk about is food, but it is important to Rei.
Rei eats at school cafeterias, restaurants, and junk food.
I wonder how he does not have even a rough skin with such a diet, but he does not seem to have any problems.
However, this is only a matter of appearance.
The inside of her body must have been corroded by additives.
And we can’t ignore the excess of salt, oxidized oil, preservatives, etc.
“Jin-kun, you’re just like your mother. ……”
Rei looked at me with dismay, but his mouth was full of a smile for Rei.
I’m getting used to Onishima-san and Taketori-san fussing by my desk day by day.
“Oh …… we seem to be bothering you, don’t we?”
“Oh, we’re adults! We are adults!
I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed before, but my classmates were talking in several blocks. Basically, Rei’s group consisted of three people. He is not a very conspicuous person, but everyone seems to be paying attention to him.
When I tell this to Ryo, he brushes it off with a “No, of course not.
<At any time, as long as they are not aggressive, beautiful men and women are always popular…so, Jin-kun. I’m sorry to interrupt your happy moment, but I hope you don’t get stabbed. Oh, yuk yuk yuk! You’re going to have a hard time, you flirtatious b*****d! >>
I felt like I was being mocked. I felt like I was being mocked, but it was not mature to react to the words of a fugitive.
I watched Ryou’s back as he walked away laughing with his big mouth open… but it was a good thing that he fell down on a fallen rag.
Of course, I put the rag away, because I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt.
Dad was to be discharged from the hospital tomorrow. His condition was already stable, and the arrangements for his discharge had already been made.
The three of us would have dinner together again today. It has recently become more comfortable for the three of us, including Mai, to start shopping together.
As we were pushing our carts at the supermarket, Rei approached us with her hands full of food.
“Jin-kun, I brought mushrooms.
“Rei. I don’t know why you brought so many eringi mushrooms.
“…… eringi is delicious.
“Are you addicted to yesterday’s grilled mushrooms with butter?” “……”
They’re good. When I serve them to my sister Teru, who sometimes comes over to my house, as a snack for her beer, she even asks for more.
It tastes better if you wrap butter and eringi in aluminum foil and heat it in a toaster oven, rather than frying it in a frying pan. I don’t know what kind of action ……,infrared rays or something like that. I’ll look into it next time.
I was thinking about such a thing when I fell silent. I wondered how Rei perceived it, and he gave me an air of shock.
Even though his facial expression does not move, he is skilled in conveying his feelings through words or actions, which in some cases are more direct than those conveyed in words.
“It’s okay ……. I’ll go return the …….”
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean it that way…well, we can’t get them all, but we can get a few packs. They’re great tempura or fried.”
“Oh, yeah, right.”
“Then let’s buy it. Then let’s buy it. I’ll pay you. I have the money.
Calm down a little.
I was going to say, “Don’t worry about the money…” but this is a very controversial subject, so let’s not talk about it now.
“Hey, big brother!”
came a voice full of energy. It was Mai, of course.
“Rei-chan! You have to eat vegetables too!
Mai held out her hands full of goodies.
Strawberries and a watermelon.
Not for dinner.
“Mai. You can’t have those. Give it back.”
“What? Why not? ……?”
Because it’s not a vegetable. It’s a fruit.
“No, sir, it’s not a fruit.”
Mai straightened her back.
“That’s what they said on TV. This is a kaju-technique, it’s called a vegetable, so it’s a side dish.”
“You’re chewing on it, aren’t you?”
“It’s a fruit and vegetable.”
“It’s not fixed.”
Mai cried to Rei, though she didn’t mean to be naughty.
“Oni! You’re an ogre!
What kind of absurd …….
“Mai, calm down. I’ll give you my justification instead. Because we were watching that TV together.”
Ray’s eyes were sharp and he looked very smart.
“It’s on TV! It’s a vegetable! Because they’re kaju-chan-tic…”
“It’s a vegetable…”
Demon! You’re an ogre, Jin!
You didn’t say anything, did you?
You should have said something.
I nodded and casually looked at the price of watermelon and strawberries.
I knew in an instant. It’s over my budget. As much as I wanted to buy them for her, I couldn’t nod my head as our family’s treasurer.
Mai seemed to sense something in my gaze.
Her smile changed from her crying face.
“I’ll pay you back! I’m going to pay you back!
Ray called out to her, but Mai didn’t stop.
“Are you sure? Jin-kun.”
As we both watched Mai’s back, Rei looked at me for confirmation.
“Hmmm. As an accountant, I’m not sure I can do this. We don’t have enough money in the budget.”
“What about you, big brother?”
“I’ll get another job and buy you something.”
I have a part-time job.
In general, part-time jobs are not allowed at Himehachi Gakuen, but this does not apply if you have a special circumstance and apply for it properly and get approval.
I get paid for my part-time work by being hired by the chairman of the shopping arcade as an “anything goes shop” and by accompanying my elderly grandparents who live alone when they go shopping.
But to the elderly people, I am like a grandchild, and they feel it is an allowance rather than a salary.
Ray muttered and turned to go somewhere, “I’m going to go …… for a while.
“Where are you going?”
Ray’s response was somewhat vague, as if he was thinking about something else.
He seemed to be thinking about something else, though he seemed to be a bit nervous.
“Don’t worry about it.”
“I do, but…”
“Well, I’ll go to …… and look for some eringi.”
No more eringi.
“…… anyway, a little bit, bye-bye.”
“Oh? I’ll call you when I’m done shopping. Or do you want to go back to your place?
As a matter of fact, this supermarket is located right under the tower apartment where Rei lives.
“Oh, well, …… I’ll go there after I change my clothes. ……”
Ray then left.
He seemed to be somewhat nervous.
I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to do this.
Leaving Rei behind, Mai and I went home.
I would like to say that Mai is very helpful to carry my baggage in such a situation ……, but honestly, I can carry it by myself.
I’d rather Mai carry my luggage than me. I want to carry it too! >>I have to share the light and unbreakable ones as much as possible. This is the more difficult part.
As we were leaving the store, Mai said to me.
“Rei, where did you go?
“Home, I guess.”
“Home? Then, this Ue?”
Mai’s eyes were on a tower apartment.
“Yes, it is. It’s on the top floor.
The top floor.
The top floor.
Mai’s mouth curled into a ball as if she understood what I was saying.
“This is the place, Rei told me.”
“She said it’s not a castle.”
“Well, yes, it is. ……”
“But you look like a princess!”
That’s for sure.
She looks like an idiot.
“Then it’s a castle. Because a princess lives there.
“I see. If that’s your logic, then yes, it’s true.
But it’s not true. Rei said so many times.”
Mai’s reply took an unexpected turn.
“No, that’s what Rei said, right? The first time.”
“No, not the first time. Mai told me that the castle is not a castle after all.
I wonder what she meant.
I’m sure Rei would not get so mad at Mai.
It is true that a tower apartment is not a castle.
It is not a castle in the sense of a place of residence either.
But it is not something to be denied over and over again.
The answer came from Mai’s mouth.
“It’s not full of people like a castle. That’s why it’s not a castle. When Mai said that a castle sounded like fun, she was told not to come. She said it’s a very scary place.
“…… I see.”
“Then why don’t you come live with us?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Should we ask your father?”
“I don’t know about that either. ……”
Then you realize.
“Oh, well, …… my…”
“Dad, work’s settled down. We’ll be having dinner soon.”
Yeah. That’s great.
Yeah. I’ll ask her if she wants to live with us.
Well, I guess it’s free if you just ask…
And then I realized something else.
“Well, you and my dad are going to meet for the first time, aren’t you?
Mai also murmurs.
“I wonder if Mai would be a princess if she lived with a princess?”
Everyday things are happening, but every day seems to be going in the right direction.
When the chime rang.
When the chime rang, my hands were occupied with cooking and I couldn’t even open one of the doors.
Mai rushed to the door and stood in the doorway.
She seemed to have made up her mind that it was Rei, even though she didn’t know who it was.
“Mai, I think she might be delivering a package.
“It’s Rei-chan. Because your footsteps sound just like Rei-chan’s.
I looked at the door as it opened.
It was Rei, just as Mai had said.
Ray said with a blank expression on his face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bring you along.”
“…… did you hear me?”
“I don’t see the point of the door.”
He apologizes while manipulating the frying pan.
Mai nodded happily.
“When Rei-chan and Onii-chan are being friendly with each other, I can hear them outside the door!
Rei’s movement stopped as she stepped into the doorway.
“Hmm? What’s wrong, Rei?”
I said something to her, but she didn’t look at me.
For some reason, she turned red and looked only at Mai.
I’m not sure why she looked at me. …… Um, Mai-chan. Let’s talk about it in more detail over there. ……
“What? What are you talking about?
“How do you think Jin-kun and I get along ……?”
“What? I can’t hear you, Rei!
“I can’t hear you, Rei!” “Well, anyway! Let’s go over there.
“Yeah! Let’s paint!
“Yes, let’s paint. Let’s paint and talk at the same time.
The group formed up with Mai in the lead.
Finally, Rei looked at me.
“So, I’m going to go over there. Jin-kun.
I’ll call you when dinner is ready.
Yes, of course. And here…
Mai had gone to the back of the room first, and Rei held out the package she was carrying.
There was something in a thick paper bag. It looked very heavy.
“Here’s your share.”
I looked into the paper bag. There is a box.
Before I could sort out the visual information, a sweet smell tickled the back of my nose.
The smell of fruit.
“That’s right. I get those from time to time, but I don’t eat them. It would be a waste to throw them away, wouldn’t it?”
It would be a waste.
“Mai, I thought you might like them.”
“I think you’d like it too much.”
Rei looked totally unimpressed, but the whole atmosphere told me how he felt.
“But are you sure? These are probably brand new and very expensive.”
“But I can’t eat it, so there’s nothing I can do.”
“You can’t eat it? You don’t like it?
I can’t cook it.
“Can’t you cook it?” “Cook it ……? You can eat a melon if you cut it in half. You can get the seeds with a spoon.
You can’t cut it in half.
“No, you can’t cut it in half, you just move the …… knife from top to bottom, right?”
“You can’t move the knife from top to bottom.”
“What do you mean ……?”
I want to know what’s going on.
I can’t say anything to Rei, who is trying to make a point with a straight face.
He’s not kidding, I think.
“Rei? Are you ready?
“I’m sorry. I’m coming, Jin-kun. Then, Jin-kun, please feed them to Mai-chan.
Rei pointed at the melon and then put her fingertip to her mouth.
“Don’t tell Mai-chan. I’ll surprise her.”
I tried to hide my surprise at Rei’s cooking skills.
“Oh. I appreciate it.”
Her piercing gaze.
A mysterious girl who is expressionless, but thrills me when I look at her – I don’t know why. I feel a stirring in the back of my chest, but something is making me uneasy. I’m afraid I might lose it.
I stared at Rei as Mai pulled me by the hand.
I felt that Rei was unusually upset.
“When I look at him, I get a little nervous. It makes me nervous.”
Maybe it’s a gut feeling that it’s not safe to let him hold a knife.
Give me the knife.
I thought I’d never give it to him.
I was sure I’d never give it to him.
Ray had been fidgety since we were eating dinner. He looked like my father before he gave him his Christmas present.
Probably, he was excited thinking of Mai’s surprise when she saw the melon.
“Rei. You dropped the rice.”
My voice didn’t seem to have reached Rei’s ears as he began to eat his rice.
“Rei. Your miso soup is dripping.
“Rei. That’s a chopstick rest. That’s not food.
How can you grasp a chopstick rest so dexterously with chopsticks?
I am impressed, but this is no time for observation.
I grabbed the solid food that was about to go into my mouth.
Mai looked at Rei curiously.
“Rei, you can’t do that, can you? You have to be thankful for your food, okay?”
“Yes, yes, I’m sorry. ……”
A high school student being admonished by an elementary school student.
Or rather, he is being told off by the very person he is so anxious about for Mai’s sake.
I feel a little sorry for him, because he looks like he’s slumping his shoulders.
I casually get up and head for the refrigerator. I return with a melon I’ve already cut up and wrapped in plastic wrap.
“Here. Mai. Rei has something for you.”
“Hmm, what is it? Oh…”
Mai’s eyes shifted from my face to the tray.
Her expression turned to one of glee.
“That’s why Rei gave it to me.”
“That’s why ……?”
Well, why did Rei give me the melon?
Of course it was for Mai, but why would he give me a melon for her in the first place?
I saw Rei.
Mai looked at Rei.
Ray was alone and still.
No, it was accompanied by a small change that you could see if you looked closely enough.
In short, Rei looked very happy. He still had no expression on his face.
“Rei, why are you giving me melon?
Rei nodded at Mai’s words.
“That’s because, Mai.”
“That’s …… right. ……”
“……, it was …… given to me and ……”
“Well, I wanted Mai to eat it before I ruined it. ……
“Why don’t you eat it at home?
I can’t cut it at home.
I think Rei is starting to sweat.
Somehow, ……, it looked like he didn’t want to disclose the fact that he couldn’t use a knife.
At the same time, he was conflicted because he didn’t want to lie.
I decided to offer a helping hand.
Mai. Rei congratulated us.”
“Hey, how’s it going?”
Ray and Mai both nodded their heads.
“My dad is coming back tomorrow, right? So we’re celebrating.”
“Oh, wow! Ray, you’re the best!”
I didn’t tell Mai about the hospitalization.
I finally told her that I was on a short business trip.
“So, I’ll feed it to you, too. Right? Mai. Let’s have a party with everyone.”
“Yeah! Thanks, Rei!”
Mai jumps up and down.
Ray looks pleased.
“No, it’s okay. It was nice of you to do that. You’ll be back tomorrow, right? Jin, what did you just say?
I said I’d feed it to you, too.
That was a while ago.
I said we’d celebrate.
Dad’s coming home tomorrow and we’re having a party? You didn’t tell me what Rei’s plans were. You okay with that?”
“…… I guess so. I don’t know if I’m okay or not.
Why don’t you know?
“Why don’t you know what you don’t know ……?”
You mean you can’t.
“No, it’s not impossible.”
I don’t know why you don’t know what you don’t know. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?
“Yes, yes, …….”
I wondered if it was my imagination or not, but I felt Rei stiffen as he straightened his back.
The next day.
The next day. Dad was discharged from the hospital as scheduled.
Home for the first time in days.
Home for the first time in days. Family for the first time in days.
But he was still my father.
“Oh my God, oh my God! I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused you two. ……
“Hi, Dad! Welcome home!
Mai, I’m home!
Dad took Mai in his arms and spun her around.
The small room turns into a stage.
I pretended to go to get some tea and approached my father.
“Dad. I didn’t tell Mai. ……?”
“Oh, okay. I’m sorry.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
Mai looked at us curiously from her father’s arms, and then she seemed to notice something.
“There’s Rei-chan’s melon!”
“Rei-chan’s melons? Brand-name melons?
What are you talking about?
I’ve never had a Reichan melon before!
Mai had it yesterday!
“I see, that’s great!”
The two of us are having a good time, but our conversation is not completely on the same page.
“Oh, well, whatever.
“Wow. Mai has grown up!”
Dad, tired of playing with her, comes into the kitchen with his arms around her.
“How can she change in a few days?”
“What? She’s a child, she’ll change, right?”
“What kind of logic is that ……?”
“That’s just the way it is. After all, they’re still growing up.”
Dad let out a guttural cough.
“You’ve got to be careful when you’re sick.”
“I know, I know. Dad, I’m strong except for my windpipe!”
That’s what’s fatal. ……
Dad, he’s a sweet guy.
Far from muscular, he is tall and lanky.
He wears glasses, but they always seem to be slightly slanted.
“Is this Reichan melon?”
Dad opened the refrigerator and took out a melon.
“They look normal,” he said.
“Of course it is. It’s a melon.
“It’s a melon, but it’s a Reichan melon, right? It’s a brand.”
I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but Reichan is a person’s name.
How can you name a producer?
I’m not a producer.
Not a producer?
Not even a buyer ……?
“What? Is it stolen?
Of course not!
What am I going to say to my own son?
“This doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, who is this Reichan guy?”
Mai came in with a sheet of construction paper.
Why are the three of them gathered in the small kitchen?
“Hey, Dad! Rei-chan is a princess! She’s a princess!
Dad took the picture from Mai.
It was a picture of the tower mansion she had drawn in the early days.
“You know, Rei, you are a very beautiful sister!
“A princess is beautiful, isn’t she!”
“Yes! Yes! Don’t tell anyone!”
“Rei-chan, you know, I like you!”
I explain as I put the food from the fridge on the table.
“He helped me a lot, you know. While my father was away.
I’m glad Rei likes me so much.
I care about him a lot.
I know Mai likes him, and I like him too.
I like Rei too, because he shines as a person, even though his expression is not so expressive.
“…… Dad? What’s wrong?”
I thought for a while and wondered why he didn’t answer.
I turned around and looked at my father who was supposed to be standing behind me.
He looked up from his paper.
“What? …… wait a minute, Mai.”
“What the h**l is going on?”
“Ji-jin, you… ……”
“Don’t tell me you got a girlfriend ……?”
“Reichan, that’s your girlfriend, isn’t it?”
That’s when I let out a gasp of disbelief.
A loud bang!
A loud noise came from just outside the door.
I heard a loud bang from just outside the door.
“Ah, it’s Rei-chan!”
Mai happily held up her hands as she approached the door.
I was about to say, “That’s ridiculous,” but on the other side of the open door was Rei, who was picking up something she had dropped on the ground in a panic.
What’s going on with Mai’s ears? It’s a mystery.
“Ah, ah,” said Rei, picking up what looked like a container of jelly.
It might have been brought as a souvenir.
It seemed that she had dropped the whole paper bag downwards, and the mouth of the paper box had been opened by the impact.
Mai said, “Oh my God! Oh my God! >>Mai is yelling “Oh my God!
Just as I was about to run up to him, my father quickly ran out the front door.
Barefoot, he started to pick up the jelly from Rei’s feet. Dad is like this. I think he met my mother because he was helping people.
“Are you okay? Is this all you got?”
“Yes, yes, thank you. ……”
Ray puts the jelly into the paper bag directly after Dad finishes picking it up.
He looked at me, Mai and my father in turn, still expressionless, but with an air of obvious nervousness.
“Oh, um, I’m ……”
<<“Rei, are you okay? >>Before I could ask, it was my father again who spoke up.
“Nice to meet you. Are you Rei?”
“Uh, yes, yes, I’m Rei. ……”
You’re biting too hard.
“Ha-ha-ha, Rei-chan, funny!”
Mai is laughing, but I shut her up.
I felt that Rei was a little bit nervous and pitiful.
I thought I should explain to her what was going on, and then my father said to me
“Thank you for always helping Jin and Mai. I heard you are Jin’s girlfriend. I’m looking forward to working with you.”
The paper bag fell out of his hand again, and the jelly rolled out.
“Wow! Jelly!” Mai put on her shoes and chased after the jelly.
Dad was also helping Mai, saying “Oh, oh, oh!
Still Rei remained frozen, standing upright on the jelly-covered stage.
“What, what, what, what ……?”
I might be the only one who noticed that my face was getting redder and redder.
“Hey, Rei. Are you okay?”
“Are you okay?”
I ask, but there’s no response.
“Hey, is she ……?”
Ray suddenly collapsed to his knees.
“Hey, Rei! Ray?”
I quickly supported him, and I heard him blurting out a few words.
“Oh, my God, she’s ……, she’s ……, she’s ……, she’s ……, she’s ……, she’s ……, she’s ……, she’s …….”
“You’re scaring me, Rei.”
“Hmm,hmmm,…… good,…… good,…… good,…… good.”
This is how my father and Rei began to interact with each other, even though they didn’t really understand each other.
Dad, Rei and Mai were sitting around the table talking.
“How old are you, Rei?
“The same as Jin-kun. …… Um, father, you don’t need to use honorifics.”
“Rei-chan, you know! You’re amazing!
What’s so great about you?
You’re a good drawer!
“Oh. That’s great.
“Mai. Lie! You mustn’t lie. ……
“But I love the picture of your face, Mai!”
“You draw stars in my eyes, don’t you!”
“Mai, let’s not go any further. ……
“Well, it seems that Rei-chan has taken good care of you and your children.
“No, I’ve had a lot of help, too. …… And no need for honorifics, father.”
I’m not sure what the purpose of this conversation is, and no one seems to be helping in the kitchen, but everyone seems to be having a good time, so it’s all good.
By the way, today is a hamburger steak for my release from the hospital.
I mixed well-drained tofu with it to make it healthier and to give it more bulk.
After Dad had settled on <Rei-chan> as his nickname for Rei, the topic of conversation moved on to the next topic.
“Heh. You live in that apartment, Rei-chan? The top floor.”
“Because I’m a princess!”
No, no, no, no. ……
“No, no, not at all. You don’t live in an apartment?
“Oh, no, I mean I’m not a princess. ……”
“Yes, I’m a princess! I am a princess!
Mai is getting upset.
Ray doesn’t seem to make light talk in front of my dad.
“No, Mai. You’re right, Rei, maybe she’s not a princess.”
“What? Why, she’s a princess! You’re a princess!
“No, Mai. No, Mai. Maybe she’s your wife.
Whose wife? Mai?
If you mean marry into my family, that might be one of the right answers…
“Oh! I don’t know what you mean! Don’t do that, okay?”
“Umm, yes,…… Mai, you are starting to look a little like your mother,…….”
Over there, Rei was freezing up like he had just done. Like a broken radio.
“Oh, oh, oh, yome?”
“Oh. Are you all right, Rei?
Rei, do you have a fever? Your face is so red.
“Yes, I think so. ……. If you’re not feeling well, why don’t you take a little rest?
But your face is always red.
Is that so?
“Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, wife! Wife!
After Rei’s stern voice, there was the sound of something collapsing.
Something, I mean something. It was Rei no matter what.
“Ji-jin! Rei-chan fell down!
“Onii-chan! Rei-chan! Your face is all red!
“…… is so loud!”
It’s noisy, but it’s not bad.
In fact, everyone seemed to be having so much fun that my mouth was naturally loosening.
By the way, it’s a common occurrence for Rei to fall down like this nowadays, so I don’t think it’s a problem…
“Jin! Get me some ice!
“……, seriously, shut up!”
I stepped onto the stage with a bag of ice.
I stepped onto the stage with a bag of ice.
Leaving Mai in my father’s care, I sent Rei on his way.
“It’s a nice night. There’s a cool breeze.”
“It sure is. I wish it was always this cool.”
It’s only a hundred yards home.
It seems too short for the two of us to talk, but it was refreshing to walk alone at night.
“Dinner was delicious again today,” she said.
“It was good.” “I’m glad to hear that.”
“I think it’s time for me to return the favor with a souvenir.”
“I don’t want your money.”
You sure you don’t want it?
You won’t accept it?
No, I won’t.
Okay, then. ……
Ray’s tone got stronger.
“Maybe I’ll pay you with my body.”
“Pay with your body? Ray is going to pay me with his body?
“Don’t recite. It’s embarrassing. I didn’t mean it like that… and you’re just going to kill the whole set.
“How can you suddenly make a killing sign with your eyes?”
He’s changing like the weather in the mountains.
“It’s okay. Don’t worry about me.
“But, Rei, can you do the housework?”
You haven’t listened to me since the moment we met, Jin.
“……? I’m glad you’re playing with Mai. Mai is happy to see you.”
“Yeah. Yeah. She’s happy as if she has a new family member.
You have a new family. ……?
I’m sure you feel that way, too. I consider Rei family, too.
“I don’t know if that’s the type of thing you’re supposed to be happy about,…… but in your case,…… it’s mostly a bluff.”
“What are you talking about? ……
The way you put your hand on your chin, you look like a great detective. And it looks like I’m the culprit.
I don’t know what the charge is, but…
“…… By the way, Jin…”
What’s wrong? I mean, your face is red again.
Didn’t you say it was a nice night?
Okay, okay, okay, calm down… and what is it you want to talk about?
Yeah, yeah. …… So, let’s say I’m family.
“Yeah. I feel like family.
“So, Jin-kun, you’re my brother. From your point of view, Mai.
And you’re my father.
Yes. Of course.
Then, what am I to you, Mai?
Rei lowers her fist into the air. Her small body rises up in the air.
I don’t know why she’s so focused on this, but it seems to be a very important story.
I think about it.
In short, what you just said is <<Rei’s position as a family member>>.
I guess that means what Rei is to me and to Mai: …….
I think Rei is very, very important to me.
I’m sure Mai feels the same way.
That’s why Rei is so important to us.
So, what is she, ……?
She’s like a mother to us…
My words were interrupted by a punch to the solar plexus, not painful but startling.
“I think you should be born again, Jin-kun. But that won’t fix your stupid head.
“Why are you mad at me ……?”
Isn’t a mother the warmest …… person in the family?
No, but she’s not.
I don’t know all the details yet, but Rei seems to be having some problems at home.
Some say it involves his mother, some say it involves his father.
So…maybe my words hurt his private parts.
“Rei, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. It was insensitive. I was rude to Rei.”
“Absolutely, I will not accept your apology because it’s misguided.”
Ray doesn’t seem angry.
She doesn’t move her face, but instead shows her emotions through her tone of voice and the mood she creates.
She seemed to be rather happy at the moment, so I felt relieved and walked beside her.
“By the way, Jin-kun. Why don’t you stay home for the day when your father gets out of the hospital?”
“He may look quiet, but he’s a noisy father and he needs some time away. ……
“Really? I guess it’s more complicated than it seems, even when things seem to be going well.”
Ray’s blank expression makes it sound serious, but our family is at peace today.
Of course, Rei knows that.
“So this is your daily life, Jin-kun.”
I was in the space between the ordinary and the ordinary. It was a dreamlike time that I can’t even call extraordinary…”
I looked at Rei.
Her face was supposed to be expressionless, but I felt that there was a hint of uneasiness in it.
“I wonder if it’s okay for me to be there when the dream has woken up.”
Rei’s words were somewhat unsteady. If I didn’t try to catch him, he seemed to fly away on the wind.
I wonder if I am the reason why Rei’s profile looks so fragile. Or was it Rei?
I don’t have the answer, but I have to give it. That’s what I thought.
“Rei has a place.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Yeah. If not, I’ll make one.
“I’m flattered… but this is where I’m going.”
We were at the bottom of the tower.
Ray looked up at the sky.
But his eyes were not on the sky, but on his room.
“If you ever get lonely, you can always come by.”
“Oh. Well, I guess I’ll have to go now.
I guess I’ll be back.
I’ll be back. ……
“If Rei doesn’t want to go back up that high, he can come back with me.”
“…… you’ve got to be kidding me.”
“You’re kidding me. You can move in with me. I’ll talk to my dad about it.
Are you kidding me?
No. If you want, I’ll give it a shot.
Ray paused for a moment, then a smile appeared on his face, albeit a thin …… one, a really thin one.
“That’s not a very funny joke.”
“You seem to be having a lot of fun for that.”
“Mind your own business.”
Both of them were laughing.
When we parted.
Rei made this proposal.
“Why don’t you come to school with me?”
I’d like to go to school with you.
We’ll go to school together.
I had no reason to refuse Rei’s proposal.
Given the location of the school, it would be preferable for Rei to come to my house to pick me up.
The best schedule would be to get up, do the laundry, make breakfast, hang the laundry, finish breakfast, and send Mai and my father off, and then Rei would come to my house.
So today I woke up at 6:00 a.m., started the washing machine, and thought, “Well, I’m going to make breakfast. Just then the doorbell rang.
I looked at the clock. It was six in the morning.
No one has ever visited my house at this hour before.
But I had a bad feeling.
The landlord must have come early in the morning on some business.
I opened the door.
“…… Jin-kun, good morning.”
Ray was standing there.
He seemed somewhat shy, keeping his face expressionless, but still standing there, looking somewhat fidgety.
“Good morning, …….
“Hey, you know what?”
What is it?
You’re early, Rei.
Yeah? It’s not your imagination.
Ray was running his fingertips through his hair, fidgeting.
He looked like a schoolboy on a field trip.
“Just go ahead and get out of here. I’m going to wake you two up now.”
“……! Can we go? Can I get up?
Of course. We can’t leave them standing.
With Rei in the house, I finally got around to making breakfast.
You don’t think this …… goes on every morning, do you?
Ray stood fidgeting near the kitchen until they woke up.
“Rei. You can sit down. They’re sleeping in the back room.”
“It’s …… okay. I’ll watch you cook, Jin-kun.”
“But that would be boring. Why don’t you watch TV or something?
“That’s the point.”
Are you bored of ……?
No, no. The point is, nothing is boring.
I’m sorry. I’m a little confused about Japanese.
That’s funny. I agree. ……”
Ray was running his hand through his hair as if to cover something up, or picking up a nearby bottle of condiments and raising his eyebrows at the contents.
He seems to be unable to distinguish between salt and sugar.
He held one bottle in each hand and lifted them up to his eyes.
“Jin-kun. This is probably salt and sugar, isn’t it?”
“Hmm? Yes, that’s right. They are separated into small bottles. The three warm sugars are in the big jar over here. I use it a lot for cooking. It gives it a rich flavor, so it’s good for simmered dishes.
“I don’t understand your Japanese, so I’ll leave it at that.
“I’m only speaking Japanese. ……
“How can you tell what’s in these vials? It doesn’t say “salt” or “sugar.”
I’m just eyeballing it.
I mean, you’re looking with your eyes.
I put the omelet on the pan on a plate.
“…… You’re very dexterous. Why didn’t the egg fall off the plate?
“Because I put them on the plate so they don’t fall off.”
“If they don’t fall off because you put them on the plate so they don’t fall off, then they don’t fall off in college either.”
“I don’t know …… but you get used to it. It’s easy to tell the difference between salt and sugar.
Of course, some expensive sugar and salt have finer particles, so it’s hard to say.
But salt and white sugar in my house. You should be able to tell the difference.
“Jin-kun. What’s your answer?”
Which do you think it is, Rei?
…… the one on the left is salt.
I glanced at Rei’s hand.
I glanced at Rei’s hand, and he said, “The one on the left is salt.
“Correct. So the one on the right is sugar. That’s pretty good, Rei. You might have a talent for cooking.
Oh, well. I guess I’m not so bad after all… but I really wonder if I got it right.
I suggested to Rei, who was in a good mood.
“Taste it and find out. If it’s sugar, it’s just sweet.”
I looked at the fish cooking in the pan.
Then I turned my attention back to Rei, who was holding a piece of salt on the left side of the pan, spread out in his hand and licking it off.
“Hey, why are you licking the salt…?”
From my point of view, it’s on the left. But from Rei’s point of view, it’s on the right.
So I guess what Rei meant by left was right from my point of view.
So, Rei judged sugar to be salt. So, now, Rei licked the salt, thinking it was sugar… and his eyelids, usually expressionless, closed tightly.
“That’s a great sound you made. ……”
After licking that much salt, you can’t help but feel a little salty.
“Here, water. Rinse your mouth.”
Ray took the glass with his mouth half open.
He took his time to rinse out his mouth carefully, hiding from me, and then looked at me with a rare glare.
“Ji-jin-kun no joshiki …….”
“I should have told him that he was facing left, or right from Rei’s point of view, or something like that.”
“It’s kind of funny.”
“It’s not funny.”
Ray looked so young that I couldn’t hide my smile.
I was talking to Rei.
While I was talking with Rei, Mai woke up before Dad.
“Good morning. …… Hey! Hey, Rei!”
She was rubbing her eyes sleepily, but when she saw Rei, she kicked into top gear.
Mai seems to think of Rei as a member of the “princess family” and gets excited whenever she meets him, as if she were in front of a celebrity.
“Why are you here, Rei?
“Good morning, Mai.”
“Good morning, Rei-chan! Why are you here?
“Don’t you have to wash your face?”
“Yes! I do! Why are you here, Rei?
“We’ll talk about it later, okay?”
“Yes! I wonder why you’re here.
“Well, that’s a mystery.”
I don’t know.
Rei, who is guiding Mai like a broken radio, seems to be a caring sister after all.
Being faceless is not a negative thing, and Rei may be the type of person that children like.
“…… surprising. She doesn’t even look like she doesn’t like kids.”
I muttered to myself, and Ryo laughed in my brain and said, <<<I’d rather be a Cinderella than you, you know.
<“Cinderella is much better than you…huh? >>
I hit him with a spatula and shut him out of my brain.
I don’t have time to spend my morning with this tiring rotten relationship.
“Hey, Onii-chan! Rei-chan’s here!”
Mai, towel in hand, comes running toward me and jumps on my feet.
“Mai! What did you promise me when you were using the knife and the fire?
“…… is dangerous, so don’t jump on it.”
Mai’s eyes sparkled.
She must be so happy that Rei is there that she blows off the promise she always makes to him.
“Mai. Even if Rei is here, we still have school. Get ready in the morning.
As Mai ran off at a brisk pace, Rei came up to replace her.
“You’re looking good this morning, Mai.
“Thanks to Rei, I guess.”
“Do you need any help?”
“……? You want me to prepare breakfast?
Yeah. Yeah, what?
Ray’s level of cooking is not something you can challenge him with in the morning.
But since he’s showing signs of improvement, maybe it’s in Rei’s best interest to ask.
I offered the fry-back to him, saying good-bye.
“……Thank you …… for everything, Rei. ……I’ve known this guy a long time. …… Take good care of him.”
“You’re so rude! You’re supposed to be setting the table.”
“Oh, that’s how it is.”
“That’s what I mean.”
Ray has almost no expression on his face.
His eyebrows are slightly furrowed.
Even so, his words are filled with emotion, and I know exactly what he’s thinking.
“Oh …… team, Mai, good morning …….”
Dad woke up quietly, as if he had been making a lot of noise.
He was holding his glasses in his hand, so his vision was probably blurred.
Ray, meanwhile, was watching what was going on, keeping his body rigid.
“Rei. You don’t have to be so nervous.
“Kincho, I’m not nervous.”
Why are you speaking katakana?
You’re not speaking katakana.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Dad washed his face at the sink, mumbling and mumbling, and came back to put on his glasses.
Finally, he found Rei standing there like a statue.
“Why are you here, Rei?”
“Oh, Father! Good morning!
Dad stands upright and bows his head.
He doesn’t have the dignity of a mainstay. He was probably surprised to see a high school girl right after he woke up this morning.
He’s used to high school boys.
“Mister! Shut up!”
Mai came out from the back.
“I’m sorry. Mai.”
“All you have to do is understand… is tie my hair, Rei!”
“Oh, my God. I can do that. I’m pretty good at it.”
Taking the hair clip offered to them, Rei and Mai went to the back of the room. It will forever be a mystery why I can’t use a knife with my hair-dressing skills.
My father looked at me.
“…… why are you here, Rei-chan?”
“I’ll tell you when I’m ready to go to work.”
It’s a hassle, so let’s just finish breakfast first.
I feel a little sorry for Dad.
I’m sure Mom would say the same. I’m sure.
I’m sure your mother would say the same.
When the chime rings, lunch begins.
In short, it was time for lunch.
Jin. It’s lunchtime.”
I’ve grown accustomed to Rei approaching my desk at the chime.
I’ve grown accustomed to hearing the words that follow.
“What are you going to do for lunch today?”
“Hmmm. I’m thinking …….”
In this case, “What are you going to do? >>means only one thing.
<<Where are you going to have lunch? >>I mean, where do you eat lunch?
I bring my lunch every time, so the only question is where.
“Hey, you two are perfect for each other.
“…… like each other,…… sounds so adult!”
Two familiar faces appeared from further behind Rei.
They were Onishima-san and Taketori-san.
Ms. Onishima is a lively-looking girl. I often see her running with her short-cut hair bouncing up and down. I do not know why she is running.
Ms. Taketori is a quiet girl with silky black hair. Sometimes she gets excited, but I don’t know why.
Let’s eat dinner today, Shindou-san! said Onishima-san.
“……Let’s eat! ……Let’s hear the secret story,” said Taketori.
“Jin-kun is here too, is that OK?” said Rei.
The three of them are often together, but I honestly don’t know why they get along so well. I also wanted to refrain from asking them that question, because it would be slightly damaging to their hearts if they refused because of my presence.
However, the reply was unanimously “yes,” so the four of us decided to have lunch that day.
In fact, it was not the first time we had lunch with this group.
But it was the first time that I felt the need to ask about the history of the three of them for no reason.
It may be a small change, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to know more about a person than you do now.
“Jin-kun, you have a strange expression on your face. ……?”
“Really. It’s so funny.”
“It’s …… obscene!”
The three girls were pointing at me and whispering to each other.
I feel like crying,…… but I’m sure this is not a bad thing. I’m sure it’s not a bad thing.
I’m sure it’s not a bad thing.
I could have had lunch in the classroom, but I ended up having lunch outside.
When Onishima-san found out that my lunch box was a sandwich, he started to make a fuss saying “If it’s a sandwich, it should be on the grass, right? He started to make a fuss about it.
Rei and Taketori-san were twisting their necks.
But I agreed with Onishima-san’s opinion. A lawn is good for a sandwich.
When Onishima-san heard my opinion, he said, “Oh no! That’s my boy! and he patted me on the back. The way he called me by my name seemed malicious, but I let it go because he seemed to be enjoying himself.
Himehachi Gakuen is a vast place.
There is a lawn or two as a matter of course, and it is never crowded with students.
We settled down under the shade created by a large tree and started to eat.
“It’s nice, isn’t it? You’re so nice, Rei. You have a boyfriend who cooks for you.
Onishima-san was holding a piece of bread in his right hand and a glass of milk in his left, his face looking up at the sky.
She was quite free, but no one was in the way.
Ray looked at Onishima-san and murmured softly.
“He’s not my boyfriend, but ……”
“What? That’s a lie, isn’t it?
“It’s not a lie.”
Ray looked at me discreetly, and I nodded.
“Yeah. He’s not my boyfriend.”
Mr. Onishima looked at me blankly.
Then he suddenly drank the milk in one gulp.
It came in a carton, not a bottle.
He chugged it through a straw, so that his cheeks looked like skull marks.
After a while, he must have finished the whole bottle.
He swung the carton in his hand and threw it at my face.
“You little s**t! You’re playing with my feelings, Rei!
“Why did you throw it at me? ……”
I try to resist as I carefully fold up the fallen paper pack.
Beside me, Taketori-san puts his hand over his mouth and glares at me, saying, “I’m a gigolo,……, and a cheater.
The atmosphere was not good.
I understood the direction of the conversation, so I tried to explain it properly.
“Yes, he’s not my boyfriend or anything like that – but he’s very important to me. In the family sense, I’d say that he’s my <<dating partner>. He’s like family to me.”
Onishima-san and Taketori-san looked at Rei as they said their words.
Ray tilted his head as if he was troubled by some difficult problem.
“Yes. I know. ……, Jin-kun won’t come up with anything more than that. For now, <<family relations> is enough, okay?”
Ray’s unexpected addition seemed to have convinced them both.
I added my own words.
“You know, my sister Mai loves you like a real big sister.”
“Yes, she does. The other day she asked me to be her real sister.
It’s true. I’m sorry, Jin. I got Mai.”
While I was having a good time talking with Rei, the two who had agreed with me started sneaking around and talking to each other again.
When I asked them if something was wrong, they both replied in unison, “That’s my sister’s name.
“That’s a proposal through your sister!
I have no idea what that means.
I looked at Rei to see if he could provide me with some backup.
“Rei. Can you fill me in?”
But the funny thing happened.
Ray’s face was bright red.
He was mumbling something to himself.
“……That’s right,……, I should’ve taken the proof at the time,……, maybe it would’ve been some sort of pre-existing fact….”
The lunch, which made no sense at all, was ended by the sound of the chime.
I would have liked to hear the story of the three of them and their relationship, ……, but I guess that will have to wait for another time.
The three of us were sitting around a pot.
We all sat around the pot.
Of course it’s me, Mai, Rei, and my dad.
The sight of steam rising inside the room is a bit hot and stuffy at this time of the year, just before the full-blown summer, even though the rainy season is over.
But my father had a big smile on his face.
“Oh no! Thanks to my father’s illness, we have a new air conditioner! And it’s a high-end one! It’s so cool! It’s so cool!
Dad’s glasses are fogged up by the steam from the pot and the low room temperature.
It was very pathetic, but Mai and I just looked on with blank stares.
Ray looked at the air conditioner as if he were looking at the night sky. Maybe he is comparing it to the one at his house.
I put the Chinese cabbage and pork in a bowl and set it down in front of Rei and Mai.
“Dad. Don’t be happy about the air conditioner you risked your life for.”
“Jin, I’m scared. “You’re lucky the air conditioner was broken.”
“I’m sure it is, but ……, look, I got it. More meat.”
“Oh. I love you, Jin.
Eat up and take a bath.
Dad and Mai’s personalities are similar.
Their faces are somewhat similar. Mai is cute, but my father is just a pain in the a*s.
Of course, he is the main pillar of the family, so he is the most grateful.
“Bon appét*t, Father.”
Rei politely greets his father, even though there is no need to be polite about it.
Then he picked up his chopsticks and began to eat.
It had been only a few days since Rei and my father had met. I guess they are still in a state of exploration, but from my father’s point of view, Rei’s attitude seems to trigger some kind of a switch.
He always smiles happily and says, “Dad, this is the kind of girl I always wanted! I always wanted a girl like her!” and so on.
When I tried to tell him that he had Mai with him, he continued, “Let’s exchange her for Jin!
“Let’s trade her for Jin!”
I’m the one who doesn’t want him.
Ray, as expected of a grown-up, did not make his usual lighthearted remarks.
He was listening to our conversation in silence, looking somewhat annoyed but not uncomfortable at all.
Conversely, my father doesn’t go into it either. He accepted Rei as if he had forgotten his duty as an adult to ask why Rei was eating his meals here.
Then Mai, who had been silent, grabbed her chopsticks and protested.
“What! I don’t want to trade Rei for you!
Dad nodded his head.
“Really? Is that so?”
“If you’re gone, who’s going to cook dinner? And Rei won’t be here either!”
Dad looked at Mai happily.
“Then how can we make Rei-chan become our child?
Mai tilted her head and then her face lit up.
“I’ll trade her for your father! I’m an adult, so I’ll be fine!”
Adults use, <<Children are not allowed theory>>.
And children use the mysterious <<theory of being an adult/because you’re an adult>>.
It seems that the adults lost this time.
Let’s leave the adults who are eating Chinese cabbage and fogging up their glasses in shock.
“Come on, Rei. Eat some more.”
Ray glanced at me and took the offered bowl with both hands.
He took the chopsticks and put a small piece of Chinese cabbage in his mouth, then opened his mouth with trepidation.
“Um, father, ……?”
“Yes, what’s wrong, Rei?”
Dad responded innocently.
To be honest, I wonder how a grown man should address a girl the same age as his son as “chan, chan,” but Mai’s “Rei-chan, Rei-chan” speech must have inspired him to do so.
“Rei-chan, what’s wrong!”
Mai shouted with a clank.
Rei quietly put down the dishes and let out a voice that sounded like the end of the world.
“You may have noticed ……, I’m eating and drinking without paying …….”
That’s not the way to use it.
But Rei’s expression was serious.
I’m not sure I’d be able to do that.
Ray’s expression was so serious that my father, Mai, and even I hesitated to ask him about it.
Ray put his chopsticks back on the chopstick rest without making a sound.
Her ladylike upbringing was evident in every word she said.
However, her comment was a bit strange.
“I’m eating without paying. This is what we call a criminal offense…”
I have to admit, it sounded really stupid.
His fists were clenched in his lap.
If it weren’t for the table and the hot pot in front of him, he would have gotten down on his knees.
“Okay, Rei. Let’s just calm down.”
“Jin-kun, it’s okay. It’s only because I’m calm that I realized what was going on. I mean, I’m a criminal.
“No, we’ve talked about this before. It’s just that we haven’t been able to agree on a lot of things.”
The Araki family has no problem with this.
But if they are so worried about it, they should have said so from the beginning. …….
“I’d rather ask why you’re making an issue of it at this time.”
“Because the food was so good, I forgot about it. ……”
Ray, looking embarrassed, was that guy after all.
He looked like an idiot.
Dad said it like it was nothing.
“No, no, no, Rei. You don’t have to worry about that, you student.”
“Father. Age has nothing to do with sin.
Rey’s expression did not change much, but I could still feel the anguish in her face. Every line he said hit me like a stage actress. Of course, as a line from a stupid girl.
I was beyond laughing and felt pity for him.
I wanted to help him, but I would leave it to my elders for now. My father, the mainstay of the family, is earning the money.
“You know, Rei, I was very poor when I was a student – well, I’m still very poor.
My father is a researcher. I don’t know what he does for a living.
He was considered to have a promising future, but when Mom became ill, he gave up all his work and spent his life taking care of her.
Because of that, he was excluded from promotions and things like that.
Well, I love my dad like that, so I don’t have a problem with it.
We have enough money. That’s all I need.
“Then I’d like to have more money …….”
Apparently Rei’s family has a lot of money.
In fact, Rei’s assets are quite large.
According to Rei, when he was in a “desperate state,” he gave reckless instructions to the person whom he entrusted with the management of his assets.
The choice, which was more of a speculation than an investment, however, turned out to be a stroke of luck and the amount of the fund grew more than tenfold.
<<I may not have to work for the rest of my life, I don’t know how old I’ll be>> was his closing line.
Dad’s argument continued.
“But you know what, Rei? Even though we were poor, even though we had no money, there were good things.”
“Good things, sir?”
“In those times, I noticed people who reached out to me. And that I could be the one to reach out to them. So I imagine that it means something for you to eat here, so as an adult, I accept everything and I don’t demand anything from you.”
At that, Rei gasped for air.
I felt myself swallow the words I’d been preparing to say.
Ray looked at me.
“Thank you, Jin-kun ……,” he said.
“I didn’t do anything, though.”
“…… No, it’s nothing. The food is delicious. The food we eat together is also very tasty.
Mai took over Rei’s words.
“That’s right! Your rice is very delicious!
“Yes, it really is.”
That was the end of the conversation…but Rei was still Rei.
Flexible, yet stubborn at the same time.
He is expressionless, yet he seems to be sensitive.
I think this is Rei’s goodness and nature.
The gloom had disappeared from Rei’s figure.
His back was straight and his gaze straight.
Her expression was firm, as if she were a mother disciplining her child.
“I understand your father’s feelings very well. I think it is because Jin-kun and Mai-chan were raised by such a father that they have been helped in so many ways – thank you.
“Yes. You’re welcome. ……”
Rei is sitting up straight, and even my dad is sitting up straight.
Mai is saying, “You look like a teacher, Rei! >>but Dad might look more like something else.
“I think that the lack of money is a problem for Mai’s future. For example, your father’s work may not be able to do what he wants to do due to various problems, such as research expenses, don’t you think?
“Yes, yes, it happens every day. ……Without a budget, nothing can be done. ……”
I am grateful for your help. I am also very impressed with your father’s principles. But I think …… money gives us more choices. I will still bring you something to replace food expenses from time to time. Not cash, but something useful.”
“But, you know, you are a student and your parents…”
This is between me and your father.
Ray laughed softly.
No, it was too much of an exaggeration to call it a laugh, it was an expression of emotion only on his lips.
But it was enough to change the mood of the room.
“Thank you very much. I am very, very happy.”
If there is a smile that makes people feel good, it is the one we are seeing right now.
I’m so happy.
The night of Rei’s departure became routine.
I can still hear the words my father said as he watched Rei’s back as he got up and left the room.
<<< Oh no. You were like Nagi-san when I was a student.
Nagi is her mother’s name.
She and my mother met when she was a college student and got married as a student.
She was a very kind mother, but when she met my father, she was very much like him.
“Jin-kun. I feel like you’re making fun of me.
No, I don’t.
I have good instincts.
I really don’t. I was just thinking about my mom.
Ray’s sudden change of mood always catches me by surprise.
“I’m not mad at you.”
“Yes, …… I am.”
I scratch my head and decide to tell him everything.
I try to put into words the last thought I had just had.
“My dad said something nice about you, Rei.”
“…… why would I think that?”
<<You look like my wife, Rei.
I’m afraid my dad’s image would be tarnished if I told him that.
“Rei is …… very straight to the core.”
And, uh, sometimes kind.
What are you talking about?
That’s why I like him. ……
Oh, no, that’s why he fell in love with you.
I didn’t explain it very well.
But that’s all right. All you have to do is succeed the next time… but there was someone who would not let that happen.
That’s not an explanation!
A punch came flying at me.
It didn’t hurt, of course, but when it hit me in the side, I felt a bad sensation in my body.
“Don’t hit me in the side! It gives me the creeps!”
“It’s Jin-kun’s fault!”
“No, that’s why I felt that way about Rei, that’s what I thought. You just didn’t communicate it well enough.”
“What the h**l is that? What’s that? Jin-kun fell in love with …… me?”
“I’m not sure, but I’d like to know if it’s the same …… for me. I know, I know…
I’m telling you, don’t punch me in the side!
I mean, why do I have to get punched in the side?
Well, it doesn’t hurt at all, of course.
I’m just saying….
And so our life went on.
Night came, morning came, and when night came again, morning would surely come.
Each time Rei opens the door to our home and joins the family circle.
He comes in.
I don’t have enough experience to talk about life, but if there is one thing I can say, it is that <<no one can live alone>>.
My father is the main pillar of the Araki family.
Mai gives me a sense of mission, and sometimes she even pats me on the back.
I’m in charge of making food for two ……, no, three people.
And the third person, Rei Shindou, comes to my house every morning to pick me up.
I’m not sure if he’s a good person or not, but he is.
Well, it’s time to bring the curtain down.
It’s time to bring the curtain down.
Even though there is no beginning and end, the story ends when you turn the last page. There is much more time left for me and Rei, but that is the theory of the story that is absolutely constant.
The morning comes as it should.
As usual, Rei stands near the kitchen in a state of idleness.
Ray knocks discreetly on the door with a nervous look on his face while everyone else is still sleeping.
He thinks that if he presses the intercom, it will disturb our sleep.
I don’t need that kind of concern, but it is ingrained in Rei. I’m glad and proud of that.
So I had only one job to do.
I made Rei a proposal.
“Rei. Since you’re going to be here in the morning anyway, let’s have breakfast together.”
“You know, …… is kind of a nice way of putting it.”
You don’t like it?
“I don’t mind, but …… it’s like I’m getting nothing but gifts. I don’t do anything and sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing.
I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do,” she said seriously. But I couldn’t help but burst out.
“I can feel your malice!”
“No, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” “You’re not very convincing when you say it while laughing.
“No, I just thought your reaction was cute, like a child…”
Ray’s body jerked back.
“How can you be so sure Rei didn’t do anything?”
“I’m just glad he’s home, you know?”
“You know, I’m just glad he’s home, you know?
Ray’s face was red as he froze in his tracks.
I don’t think he can breathe.
“You okay, Rei? Are you okay, Rei?
“No, I’m fine. ……
Slowly returning to an upright position, Rei was restless. He kept combing his walnut-colored hair and began to run his fingers through the ends of his hair.
I suggested again.
“So, breakfast. What do you want?”
Which is it?
Ray’s face, which had been turned away for some time, turned to me.
“…… I’ll eat.”
“Okay. “Okay, let’s eat together. Go wake them up.”
Because it’s time to wake them up.
No, that’s not what I mean. Why do I have to ……
“Because I have to get something to eat. Rei’s got time.”
“You’re just a guy with nothing better to do.”
Are you busy?
“I know, I’m open. …… I’m open. ……”
Mumbling, Rei took a step forward, but quickly turned around.
“I wonder how …… people are woken up. I don’t have any experience. ……
“Well, let’s try to wake them up together.”
“Yes, that’s right. Let’s do it for the first time.”
And so it goes.
That’s how our morning is going to go today.
Ray comes in.
Wake up the family.
That’s all there is to it, but it’s not so bad.
But it’s the one thing that shines like a treasure for me.
“Ji-jin-kun. Your father is moving under the covers. ……
“Of course he’s moving, he’s alive.”
I don’t really know why such a conversation becomes a treasure, but I guess it’s the right thing to do, because I still think it’s important.
So, that’s the end of the story for this time.
There are many things that will happen in the future, but I will eat dinner with Rei as always.
However, I’m going to put that on hold for the time being.
Why? Because right now I have to go with Rei to wake up my family.
End of story