Yes, No, or Maybe Half? – Vol. 1 Ch. 4

Chapter 4: Yes, No, or Maybe Half? (4)

—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.

“Hey.” Tsuzuki answered the door for Kei like he was expecting him.

It irritated Kei, so he snapped, “Where’s my beef rice bowl? I forgot it here last night.”

“I ate it. It was cold, but still good.”

“Thief!!”

“I’ll buy you another one. Don’t yell something at my door that’ll scare people.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Tsuzuki wrapped his arm behind Kei’s shoulder and showed him inside. Normally, Kei didn’t like it when other people casually tried to get close to him, but this time he oddly didn’t feel uncomfortable. When he realized this, he angrily shook off Tsuzuki’s arm.

“What?” Tsuzuki asked.

“I’m gonna say this now, I don’t swing that way.”

“Swing that way?”

“I saw your Wiki entry. It said that you’re bi.”

“Wow, really?”

“Don’t play dumb.”

“I wasn’t…” Tsuzuki fell silent for a moment like he was trying to remember something. “Oh, I might have said something like that in a magazine interview. It’s surprising that someone would remember it.”

“So it’s true.”

“But I didn’t say that I was bi. Just that I wouldn’t mind if the guy was really my type. There’s a bit of a difference. Oh, were you worried that I might attack you? I have really high standards you know? And it’s definitely not someone who looks like they’re about to rob a convenience store.”

“Shut up!!”

You just don’t know how beautiful I am!

Kei wanted to rub the truth in his face, but he couldn’t, and it annoyed him.

“Come over here.” Tsuzuki beckoned at Kei to follow him to his work area and showed him a box full of gray-colored figures.

“What are these? Ancient clay soldiers?”

“No way, don’t they look like regular, modern people to you?”

The figures were all under 10 cm1 tall. There were businessmen wearing suits, some college students that looked like couples, and others. The faces only had noses molded on, but despite lacking facial features such as eyes or mouths, each of the figures had a distinct look.

“Did you make all these?”

“Well, it’s my job.”

One, two… there were far too many figures inside the box to count.

“I’m making an opening animation for a TV news show.”

Yes, Kei knew that already.

“I wanted to show a lot of foot traffic. So I’m recreating something like the Shibuya scramble crossing.”

“You must be a masochist…”

Each of the clay figures had its own individuality expressed through its clothing, hairstyle, and accessories. It made Kei’s head spin just thinking about all the time and effort spent on sculpting everything.

Hold on a second—

“You’re not gonna tell me to make more of these, right?”

“Of course not.”

Kei started to breathe a sigh of relief, but then Tsuzuki said, “I just want you to paint them.”

“You’re kidding me!!”

“If you mess up, you can just paint over it. It’ll be fine. I’m looking for something that has an amateur feel to it, something with a rougher nuance anyway. It always looks off when a pro tries to imitate it. You can find all the paint supplies over there, and you can paint them however you think looks good.”

“And what if I think green skin looks good?”

“If it’s within the realm of common sense, you can have fun with it. You can brag about it later when it airs on TV.”

You gotta be kidding me. I’m already on TV enough as it is.

“Nope, don’t care.”

“It’s not very hard, I promise. Oh, are you scared that you won’t be very good at it?”

“What did you say?”

“Ahhh, my wrist hurts.” Tsuzuki sighed loudly, blatantly trying to provoke and guilt-trip Kei at the same time. “The doctor told me that it’s a sprain. It’ll take 2 to 3 weeks to heal.”

“…Oi.”

“What do I do if I can’t make the deadline? It’s a project for an important client. What if it ends up hurting my reputation, and I can’t get any more work? On top of losing the commission that I was expecting, I might be forced to pay a penalty for a breach of contract.”

“Fine, whatever, I’ll just do it!”

Kei had already lost the moment he showed up at Tsuzuki’s door tonight. He could have easily shirked his responsibilities.

Dammit, what the hell’s wrong with me?

It was Kei’s first time handling acrylic paint, but surprisingly, it wasn’t very hard to use. He squeezed some paint from a tube, then diluted it slightly with water. Kei selected 10 figures to paint as a group, starting with the skin, hair, clothing, and so on, choosing a single color family to work on at a time. Tsuzuki worked on his computer in the meantime, but after about an hour, he came over to inspect the finished figures.

Kei noticed Tsuzuki knitting his brows, so he winced and said, “What? You said I could paint them however I wanted. I’m not gonna repaint them.”

Tsuzuki shook his head and said, “No, it’s fine. I was just impressed. You did better than I expected.”

Ahhh, don’t scare me like that. But of course I’d do a good job, it’s me we’re talking about. I can do anything if I put my mind to it.

After looking through the rest of the figures, Tsuzuki chuckled.

“…What now?”

“I was just thinking that you can tell a lot about a person through the things they create.”

“Huh?”

“Here, let me demonstrate. These are the ones you first worked on. And these are the most recent. There’s a big improvement between the two in just a short amount of time. That tells me that you’re a quick learner, that you’re always thinking and always tweaking things.”

Well of course.

Kei was pleased to hear this, but Tsuzuki’s personality assessment continued. “You also didn’t use the crazy colors like you first said you would. So you’re surprisingly very diligent, but maybe a bit scared to challenge the normal order.”

“You’re the one who said to use common sense, dammit!”

Tsuzuki was right on the mark with his assessment; that was why Kei was so indignant.

“Still, there are people who’ll ignore instructions and do whatever they want. Not everyone’s ‘common sense’ aligns the same way to begin with. So good or bad, the way that you do things is very honest and direct. …Based on my first impression of you, I thought you would have run amok with the colors.”

It pissed Kei off. Why did he have to listen to someone, who he met just yesterday, talk like he had him all figured out? And he actually did figure him out, pissing him off even more. Kei felt like painting the figure in his hand completely black, but in the end it would create more work for himself, so he abandoned the idea.

Don’t look so pleased with yourself when you haven’t truly figured out who I really am, Kei thought bitterly, calming down only after feeling like he had regained the upper hand.

After two hours were up as promised, Kei stood up and declared, “I’m going home.”

Tsuzuki said, “Ok, I’ll head out with you. I’ll buy you a beef rice bowl.”

Kei wondered how he ended up walking next to Tsuzuki again, helping him push his slightly crooked bicycle. Kei was done with his obligations for the night, so why was he quietly going along with his whims? Because Tsuzuki stole his beef rice bowl yesterday? Was he really that attached to takeout worth 500 yen?2 It might be alright now, but the danger of exposing his identity would only become greater the longer Kei spent time with him.

“What do you do for work, Owari?”

“Not telling.”

“Do you live by yourself?”

“None of your business.”

Tsuzuki didn’t seem to be bothered by Kei’s curt responses. It was like he had grasped Kei’s personality from their exchanges in these two short days that they had known each other. …It really pissed Kei off. He looked at Tsuzuki, who was walking on the right side of the bicycle, and tipped the handlebar up, sending Tsuzuki’s left hand, which was holding on to the other end, downward abruptly. Of course, he went easy on him.

“Ow! What are you doing!?”

“Quit probing into my private life. Just shut up.”

“Are you like this to everybody? Doesn’t it tire you out?”

I’m tired. I’m fucking exhausted.

It was exhausting because he was actually “not like this” to everyone.

“I told you to shut up,” Kei said.

They picked up their takeout: two beef bowls, each in separate bags.

Tsuzuki asked, “Do you want to eat with me at my place?”

“No, I’m going home.”

“Come again, ok?” Tsuzuki placed his beef rice bowl in his bike basket. “I need to finish the project by the end of March, so I’m under the gun until then.”

“You’re kidding me. You’ll be healed in 2 weeks.”

“2 or 3 weeks.”

“Doctors always overestimate things.”

Kei walked off as Tsuzuki called out after him, “Thanks for the help.” After walking for some time, Kei quietly turned around to see a cold and empty street with no sign of the bicycle or its owner. He adjusted his mask and exhaled, his breath condensing in the nighttime air.

Kei needed to make sure that he wasn’t being followed. Kei didn’t want Tsuzuki to find out where he lived after all. He kept asking questions about his private life after all. That was all. So Tsuzuki had already left. He was probably headed home, just like Kei. That was what he had wanted. He could relax again. But standing around in the middle of the night alone on the street in the freezing cold, he wondered what exactly was he searching for?




“Wow, so you now shoot your videos using your smartphone? Can it do everything that you need?”

“There are times when it can’t, but I can manage somehow. I think I can be more creative when there are constraints on what I can do. There was a time when I wanted expensive equipment and tools, and I worked part-time jobs to save up for them, but now I make do with what I have.”

“Thank you for showing us some of your more unusual production methods. Tomorrow, Tsuzuki-san will teach us how to make a simple animation that anyone can do at home. It would be a wonderful project to do over the weekend. Please tune in with us!”

“Cut! That was great.”

After waiting for the cameraman to lower the camera, Kei said, “Excuse me,” then covered his face and sneezed.

Tsuzuki asked, “A cold?”

Kei wanted to double slap him. It was all your fault that I spent over 10 minutes spacing out on the street in the middle of winter the other night.

But Kei was just venting his anger. He said, “I’m fine, thank you for your concern.”

While they waited for the staff to check the take on the monitors, Kei heard Tsuzuki murmur, “I’m sorry,” to him.

“I beg your pardon?”

Did I accidentally say something out loud?

Kei’s on-air smile was frozen on his face, then Tsuzuki clarified, “For last time.”

Oh, that. You could have said that from the beginning. Don’t be so vague!

“I was very rude to you when we first met. I had my reasons for my bad mood, but I shouldn’t have let it affect my work with you. Anyway, I’m very sorry about my behavior.”

Watching Tsuzuki lower his head apologetically, Kei felt like bursting out in laughter.

Oh my god, you’re really apologizing! You really took me seriously. What an idiot!

But Kei ignored his thoughts and said bewildered, “Oh, no, you don’t need to apologize.” He went through the motions like he was a video game character battling on auto mode. He even impressed himself sometimes. It was like “Kunieda Kei” was an independent program installed inside him that would flawlessly execute whenever it was needed. “I wasn’t bothered by the other day at all.”

“Really?”

“Of course.”

“I see.”

Kei’s chest seized up painfully at the naked relief in Tsuzuki’s smile. It was like a paper-thin crack had developed inside his heart. But it only lasted a moment, so Kei chose to ignore it.

“A friend of mine suggested that I apologize.”

“Is that so?”

A friend? Do you mean me? The hell, I’m not your friend.

“I recently met him the other day. He’s an interesting guy.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, he’s super odd and really foul-mouthed… Kunieda-san, you’d probably die before you ever use the language that he uses.”

…I don’t know whether to laugh or to get angry.

Ignorant of Kei’s inner thoughts, Tsuzuki appeared to be quite happy, perhaps due to having a load lifted off of his chest. He asked, “Do you have your accent dictionary with you today?”

“Yes, I have it in my bag. I don’t have a need for it on location, but I keep it with me as a good luck charm. It helps me feel at ease. Especially if I’m feeling particularly nervous, or before I go on-air, I like to flip through the pages. It’s important to me to have a little routine to ground me whenever I’m feeling uneasy.”

Tsuzuki nodded and said, “Your voice is very easy to listen to. There’s no harshness to it, like it just flows, but each syllable is precise and distinct. And the speed is perfect, not too fast, not too slow. You must work on your speaking every day.”

Of course. Can you even imagine the godly amount of research and time spent on training my voice to get it to this point?

Kei said, “You are awfully kind, but I still have a lot to learn and work on.”

Tsuzuki said, “Then I’m the same as you.”

“Surely I can’t compare.” Kei’s eyes widened—or rather, he made them widen. “You are such an accomplished artist, Tsuzuki-san.”

“No, the creative process is always a cycle of ‘I should have done this’ or ‘I should have done that.’ Once I feel accomplished with something, I always have the need to find something new to work on. Well, I suppose that’s what you call the pain of an artist, you can never dispel it unless you’re constantly working on something different.”

“…I would have liked to have the cameras rolling while you were articulating such insightful thoughts.”

“No, thanks.” Tsuzuki frowned like he was trying to hide his embarrassment.

Tsuzuki showed very different sides of himself when it came to interacting with “Owari” and “Kunieda Kei.”

Well, everyone normally to some degree will show—

In the middle of his thought, Kei was confronted with his own behavior and how very not “normal” it was. He wasn’t normal, he admitted it. But this was how he chose to navigate the social mores in his life.

Kei hated phrases such as be authentic or stay true to yourself. It mystified him to no end how self-important and conceited one would have to be to presume that their naked and unadulterated self had any kind of value to others. That was why Kei invested all of his effort into Kunieda Kei, who was well-liked by people, and he had perfected it long before he had realized that he had felt the way that he did. He was happy with the public image that he had created, and he held his head high, firm in his conviction.



—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.

That night, Kei visited Tsuzuki’s studio as “Owari.” The first thing that came out of Tsuzuki’s mouth when he opened the door was “I apologized!”

You don’t need to tell me. I already know, stupid.

“Hmmm.”

“He said that he wasn’t bothered, and he forgave me.”

Kei’s chest seized up painfully again at the happiness in Tsuzuki’s face and voice. It was far more pronounced now than during the day. Kei decided to blame it on his irritation with Tsuzuki. Kei had all this extra work to do, plus he had caught a light cold because of him. And here he was, oblivious to everything, just floating on air. That was why it pissed Kei off. That was what he chose to believe.



—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.

Kei was working on previews of news clips in the editing booth when he saw something appear on the monitor and he interrupted his reading. “I think you’ll need to cover that up.”

The director stood next to him, staring at the monitor blankly. The camera had captured a direct shot of a National Diet member who was under suspicion for his involvement with illegal political contributions.

“You can see him entering his access code when he’s trying to enter his apartment building.”

“Oh, you’re right. Crap.”

Although it wasn’t very clear from the video, if someone were to zoom in on the area near his hand, it would have been very easy to obtain the 4-digit access code.

“Sorry, we’ll apply a mosaic over the area. Give us some time to fix it.”

“Alright.”

“I’m so glad you caught that, Kunieda. Thanks a lot.”

“It was nothing.”

Ahhh, you’re all worthless idiots. Use some fucking common sense! This is your job after all. Want me to mark up your necktie and turn that dot pattern into a check pattern for you?

While he was spewing vitriolic nonsense inside his brain, Kei exited the editing booth and sat down on a chair to read a newspaper to pass the time.

Someone approached him and asked, “Kunieda-kun?”

“Yes?” As soon as Kei lifted his head, he turned stiff with shock. His muscles were frozen in place as he wondered what expression to make.

In front of him was a 40-something-year-old man whose face looked somewhat familiar to Kei. That was not the issue. The issue was from the neck down. The man wore a cotton shirt with a pastel-colored cardigan tied around his shoulders, a pair of chinos with his shirt neatly tucked in, and a pair of loafers without any socks. There were no words to describe the man except that he looked like a mockery of a TV producer.

Fortunately, a senior staff member happened to pass by, catching a glimpse of the man, and stopped. “Hey, Shitara-san. What are you doing here?”

“What do you mean what I am I doing here? I’m part of the news staff too you know.”

Shitara? So he’s the producer for The News? The key person entrusted with turning around the network’s 20-plus-year-old flagship news program?

“So why in the world are you dressed like that?”

“I lost big time on my horse racing picks, and I had to dress up in cosplay for being the biggest loser. This is my ‘producer’ cosplay. What do you think?”

So that’s why he looks like someone from a sketch comedy skit parodying a TV producer… He’s ridiculous. Over-the-top ridiculous. With this kind of producer in charge, the overhaul of the show’s gonna be sunk before it even begins. Our entire network will be sunk.

“God, it feels so familiar that I’m gonna cry from the laughter. But something’s a little off.”

“Yeah, I think so too.”

“You need a pair of sunglasses or tinted eyeglasses on your head to complete the look.”

“Oh, you’re right on the money!” Shitara snapped his fingers. “Maybe I’ll borrow some from the props department.”

Kei asked, “Might I ask if you have any business here first before you head over?”

“Oh, you’re right.” Shitara seemed to have forgotten all about Kei. “Hello, nice to meet you. I’m Shitara. I wanted to thank everyone from the evening team for all of their hard work promoting the revamp of our show. I’m sorry to trouble you during such a busy time.”

“Oh, no, it’s no trouble at all.” Kei had completely recovered from his shock and smiled back at the man in perfect composure. “I look forward to seeing The News.”

In more ways than one.

“Haha, that’s probably the scariest thing someone can hear from a colleague.”

“Do you have anything special planned for the premiere?”

“Hmmm, yeah, my mind’s been completely blank on that. Let me know if you have any good ideas, though!”

“Um…”

Hey, two months will go by in a blink of an eye, you know.

After Kei fell silent, Shitara smiled and said, “Just kidding! We have a lot that we’ve been preparing, but we’re not ready to reveal anything yet. But soon!”

“I understand. I look forward to the announcement.”

What’s with the overblown act? Heh.

“By the way, how would you like to get dinner together sometime, Kunieda-kun? I’ve been moved around so much that I haven’t been able to get to know the young announcers over here. I’d also like to thank you for taking the on-location assignment.”

“Thank you. I would like that very much.”

In actuality, Kei hated being roped to have dinner like this, but he couldn’t refuse an invitation from someone with a position so close to his own superiors. He decided that it was in his best interest to accept it graciously for now.

“I will leave you to choose the day, Shitara-san. I am usually available after 7:30 pm.”

“Alright, I’ll take a look at my schedule and let you know when I firm up the details. Thanks for your time. Bye now!” Shitara started to walk off, but then turned around. He added, “Don’t worry, I won’t come dressed like this!”

“I look forward to the dinner.”

I’m not so sure about that, he thought uncharitably. It took Kei some considerable effort to maintain his smile.

Really, dinner just the two of them, with that old guy? How depressing.

The editors had finished fixing the video clip. This time the read-over went smoothly, and when they finished, the director praised him glowingly, saying, “Kunieda, I feel like you’ve really improved.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Yes. You were already very good, but now I feel like you’ve gotten clearer, more precise, more polished? People were impressed by your catch earlier in the booth, but now they’re doubly so.”

“Thank you very much.”

“Did something good happen to you recently? Did you get a girlfriend?”

“Oh, no, nothing of the sort.”

Shut up, stupid!

Kei lashed out at the director using the secondary audio channel3 inside his head.




I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all.

Kei repeated the phrase over and over in his head, and it seemed that he had accidentally said it out loud because Tsuzuki lifted his head and asked him, “What was it?”

“Huh?”

“You were saying that you didn’t get it. What was it?”

“…Nothing.”

“Weirdo. But I already knew that.”

“Shut up.”

Tsuzuki had been fiddling with the set, squatting. He then stretched out his lower back and let out an “Ahh—”

“What are you, an old geezer?”

“I feel like my back will never go back to normal.”

The two weeks that were promised had long since passed. They were well beyond the third week. The figures were all painted (even then, Tsuzuki had painted most of them), and there was no other work for an amateur like Kei to do. He basically loafed around Tsuzuki’s studio, lying on the sofa watching TV, surfing the Internet, or reading manga while Tsuzuki worked on his project. Tsuzuki’s arm had long been healed, but he didn’t say anything. Kei didn’t say anything either. He continued to stop by several times a week without either of them mentioning if he should keep coming or going or not.

If Kei was to be honest, it wasn’t a productive use of his time. Whenever he came over, he had less time to work on his news checks, and he stayed up later to compensate, encroaching in on his sleep. There was no merit in this whatsoever. Kei always regretted his decision to come over whenever he left to go back home. What he was doing wasting away his precious private time like this? He had resolved to stop coming over, but after a day or two, he would always find himself coming back to Tsuzuki’s house. On top of everything, Tsuzuki being Tsuzuki, had handed him a spare key to his place, saying, “Just in case I’m too focused on my work to notice the doorbell ringing,” and Kei had accepted it without a word.

These were all technically obstacles to Kei’s work; however, none of the consequences ever materialized. Rather, he was feeling better than ever, especially pleased with the praise that he had received earlier today. That was why Kei now felt that this momentary weakness of his could actually be a good thing.

A momentary weakness. A moment where Kei could relax and feel at ease. That was probably why he was here. There were days when Tsuzuki would talk to Kei often, chattering about whatever was on his mind, and there were days when he would immerse himself into his work silently, sometimes not saying a single word to Kei the entire time. Kei could be as shamelessly brazen as he wanted to be and Tsuzuki didn’t care. Even when Tsuzuki asked him personal questions, Kei just wouldn’t answer, and that was that. Other than his parents’ home, there was no place where Kei felt so comfortable and at ease. But being able to relax at Tsuzuki’s house meant admitting that his normal lifestyle was causing him stress, and it scared him a little.

To take his mind off of his thoughts, Kei started flipping through the storyboards that Tsuzuki had left laying around. It was a short story of an alien flying around in a UFO, observing the hustle and bustle on Earth, and looking in on an Earthing to see how they lived their lives. It ended with a tear rolling down its face.

“What is this alien?” Kei asked.

Kei didn’t think he would get an answer with Tsuzuki busy adjusting the lighting of the set and checking the angles of the shadows, but he replied, “An Earthling from the future. It’s the lone surviving descendant of the people who fled to another planet when the Earth was lost. It traveled through time to see its home planet. After seeing how many people there used to be, it started crying.”

“That’s dark…”

“It’s almost a given that artists tend to be dark and pessimistic.”

Tsuzuki didn’t appear that way to Kei at all. Tsuzuki’s voice carried through his broad chest when he spoke. He laughed loudly with his mouth open and got along with all of the production staff. But just like Kei, Tsuzuki probably had another side to him that he couldn’t show to people.

“So, what’s the theme?”

“There’s no theme. Everyone always asks if there’s a theme or message. But no. Is it really that important to have one?”

“Hmm, I don’t know, but…”

Kei thought that it was something that came naturally with the creative process, considering all the time, love, and labor that was spent.

“For me, everything I made has always been because I felt like making it. There’s never any special reason or message. I just wanted to make it. There might be a theme behind what I make, but I never consciously think about it when I’m making it. I’d rather have the viewers decide what that theme is for themselves.”

Kei asked, “Can you really just leave it at that?”

“The term animation comes from the root word anima. It means ‘life’ or ‘breath’. I don’t like the idea of predetermining what that ‘life’ is in my work.”

The word is Latin-based. I know because you explained this last week. Not to me, but to “Kunieda Kei.” “Kunieda Kei” was deeply impressed with the explanation and said, “Is that so? How very profound.” You grinned and didn’t say anything, like you were trying to show off in front of him. You probably think you’re being slick now, stupid.

But Kei didn’t know if it was his mask that was so effective, or if it was just Tsuzuki being extremely dense. It was getting harder to tell lately.

“Hey, are you listening?”

“No.”

“You’re the one who asked, you know… Aww, crap, I can’t tinker with this section because they want to film it for the next part of the interview. What to do…”

“And you essentially just end up talking to yourself.” But Kei was curious about Tsuzuki’s complaint just now, so he asked, “Isn’t it a pain in the ass to have cameras coming in all the time, interrupting your work, and having to work around them?”

“I imagine it’s the same for them. Lugging all that heavy equipment over here every time.”

Except for that first day, Tsuzuki never looked unhappy or annoyed while in front of the crew. It was normal to grow a rapport with people over the course of working on a project together, but Tsuzuki also never complained or questioned anything in the script. Was it because he understood the amount of labor that was involved in filming and production?

“Also, I enjoy getting to see Kunieda-san.”

If only you knew that I’m right here in front of you now.

“I never thought that I was the type to talk a lot, but for some reason I can talk to him and not run out of things to say. I don’t know if it’s because he’s good at listening or just good at asking the right questions.”

“Hmmm…”

Kei should have been able to laugh and think to himself, That’s right, praise me more, but he strangely wasn’t in the mood for it. It was because Tsuzuki was all happy and excited while he was talking.

—Huh? I was annoyed that he was happy? Why should I be annoyed? I really don’t get it.

Tsuzuki said, “Oh, right. I have plans to go out for drinks next week, so I won’t be here. You can still come over if you want, but I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

“Huh? You have a deadline coming up and you have time to go drinking?”

“It’s work-related.”

“Heh, they’ll probably drag you to a hostess club after a few drinks.”

“Maybe, depends on the client.”

What’s with the vague response? So you’ll go if they invite you? …Fuck, I’m annoyed again. Why am I getting pissed off at every little thing today? Weird.

Tsuzuki asked, “Have you ever been to a hostess club?”

“So what if I have?”

“What? Really?”

“I’ve gone a couple of times for work.”

“Hmmm, do you like going?”

“Of course not. The alcohol’s terrible, and the women are fake. They’re like, ‘Oh, tell me a funny story!’ That’s supposed to entertain me? That doesn’t cut it, harpy.”

“I find it hard to believe that you’d be interested in anything that they say though.”

“What do you think? I don’t care about some stranger’s pet dog and what they did.”

Tsuzuki laughed, “Guess there’s no helping it.” He paused and asked, “Do you have a girlfriend, Owari? …Though you probably won’t answer like always.”

“Then don’t ask!”

“But I’m curious.”

“…I don’t. Women are too much work.”

“Then do you have a boyfriend?”

“Even more out of the question.”

“So you don’t like women or men. Can you really live like that? …Don’t tell me that you only like yourself?”

“Fuck you! Leave me alone!” Kei hurled a worn-out throw pillow in Tsuzuki’s direction.

“Hey, careful with that. I don’t care if you hit me, but don’t hit the set.”

Tsuzuki reacted calmly to his outburst, warning him firmly, but Kei ignored him, cut past him, and left.

“What the… H-Hey!”

Kei ignored the voice shouting after him.

Fuck off, idiot! You think you have me all figured out, but you haven’t even realized who I really am.

Kei shoved his fists into the pockets of his coat so hard that it could have torn the seams. He stalked off in the direction of his apartment.

You’re right, I only like myself. So what? People are a pain in the ass. People are fucking stupid. People never act the way you want them to. There’s nothing good about them.

But what made Kei the most infuriated was that Tsuzuki’s words, the moment when he heard them, made him feel like whatever he was doing, he was doing it wrong.

No one had told him that he had to pretend to be a “good boy” in front of others. From a young age, he had always understood people’s expectations for him when they praised him. Oh, you look so smart, they’d said, Oh, you look so kind, they’d said, and so he did his best to meet those expectations. And before he knew it, he had become an adult. His foul-mouthed and spiteful personality was probably there from birth. He didn’t blame anyone for it, and in return, no one had the right to complain about it to him. But then this fucking nitwit had to come along.

Kei vowed that he would never go over to that stupid place again.

—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.

Translation Notes

  1. 10 cm – Approx. 4 inches.
  2. 500 yen – Equivalent to approximately $5 USD.
  3. Secondary audio channel – Secondary audio programming (SAP) is used to provide optional audio for a TV program in another language to the original broadcast language.

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