Part 15: House of Sweets ~un petit nid~ (15)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
“Oh, dear~ They’re both like grandpas with their feet buried in the sand.”
“Uncle and Hiro-kun match~”
Half-asleep, Kase heard Chise’s and Rio’s voices in the distance.
“Nhh… What? Are you two back already?”
Kase sensed Agi getting up next to him. He wanted to sleep some more, but oh well. Kase opened his eyes to the glaring light of the outdoors.
“You two are finally awake, I see~”
As soon as Agi sat up, Rio cried, “Yay,” and jumped into Agi’s lap while he was still drowsy.
Agi groaned, “You’re cold.”
Little droplets of water flew over, and Kase blinked his eyes.
“Rio, you smell like seaweed,” Agi complained.
Droplets of sea-scented water dripped from the ends of Rio’s hair.
“That’s because I swam a lot. Uncle, I’m hungry.”
“Yeah, it’s noon already. Okay, let’s go over to the beach house.”
Agi got to his feet while carrying Rio.
“I want oden, takoyaki, and shaved ice. And a big hotdog too.”
“You little glutton. You can’t eat all that.” Chise lightly pinched Rio’s nose with Agi carrying him.
“Eh, it’s fine, we’re at the beach after all.”
“What about the beach makes it fine?”
They took just their valuables with them, talking as they headed over to the beach house together. They picked up their orders and looked for an open table, but everywhere they looked the tables were full. The lunchtime crowd really packed the place.
“Well, since we’re at the beach, how about we sit down on the sand and eat? Right, Rio?”
“Yeah, I wanna eat on the sand.”
That was when someone behind them said “Excuse me.” Kase turned around, and there was a young man wearing a T-shirt and an apron with the beach house logo. The man smiled and pointed to a table.
“If you don’t mind sharing a table with others, there’s one open seat over there.”
“One?” Kase asked, not understanding his meaning.
When Agi and the others turned around, the man exclaimed, “Oh,” with his mouth open.
“I’m sorry, so you were with that family there. I thought that you were by yourself.”
Kase watched blankly as the man scratched his head in embarrassment and left. The man from the rental kiosk earlier had also thought that Agi and the others were a family. A mother, father, and their child. A single unit. A family. Kase wasn’t walking that far away from them, but he wasn’t included in their circle.
Agi-san is a different group from me?
His heart shook, and Kase had to look away from them.
In the end, they couldn’t find an open table and decided to go back to the beach blanket to eat. A young woman was walking towards them carrying a tray with one hand and talking on her cell phone. She was barely looking in front of her. When Chise tried to pull Rio’s hand over, the woman’s foot and Rio collided.
The woman’s tray tilted, and a plastic cup slid and fell from it. Apparently it had contained udon. The hot broth spilled onto Rio who cried like he had been set on fire.
Chise’s expression changed, and she brushed the steaming noodles off of Rio’s head. The beach house staff rushed to bring over a wet towel, but Agi picked Rio up and ran to the showers next to the building. He sprayed water over Rio as he told him, “It’s okay, it’s okay.”
Rio calmed down little by little until he was just sniffling. He held onto Agi’s neck for comfort while Chise gently rubbed his back and said, “There, there.”
Kase watched them from a short distance away. He hadn’t known what to do in the moment, and he froze there like an idiot. And now he couldn’t step into that “family.”
“What the hell are you doing? I’ve been waiting, but you’re taking forever.”
Kase turned around at a man’s sullen voice.
“Oh, sorry. I bumped into a child and spilled the udon.”
The woman looked worriedly between the man and Rio.
“What? You’re such a klutz.”
The man laughed like there was something funny and noticed Kase’s gaze nearby.
“Oh, he’s with the people that bumped into me…”
“Oh, really? Then you, reimburse us for the damages.”
“Well, yeah, what else? I can’t eat something that’s spilled on the floor.”
“Hey, stop it. From everyone’s perspective, I’m the one who’s at fault here.”
The woman frantically tried to stop the man.
“Listen, just leave it to me. Hey, you’ll pay for it, right?”
There were punks like this man everywhere.
“Hurry it up,” the man threatened with a sneer. Kase looked down at the man with a cold gaze when he was tapped on the shoulder from behind. It was Agi and the others.
“Let’s go. Don’t listen to idiots like him.” Agi nodded with his chin. “Come on.”
Kase followed after Agi.
“…Oi, hold up, old man. What did you just call me?”
The man grabbed the hood of Agi’s jacket. It hadn’t been zipped in the front, and it slid off of Agi’s shoulders. The man released the hood like he had been repelled by what appeared there.
What appeared was a tattoo covering his entire back.
The tattoo was of three dragons, intertwined in a complex design. It did not look like the kind of tattoo that someone would get as a fashion statement.
“Uh… I-I’m so very sorry.”
The man’s voice quivered, and the curious onlookers also watched with nervousness.
“I’m seriously, seriously sorry. Please excuse me.”
Agi didn’t look at the man bobbing his head in apology. He just fixed his hoodie and started walking. When they returned to their beach blanket, the local administrative staff came over to see them. The staff told them apologetically that there was an ordinance prohibiting tattoos at the beach.
“We understand, we will leave,” Chise said.
“Huh?” Rio turned to her in shock. “Why? Why? But it’s still lunchtime. I’ve only swam just a little bit. And after we eat lunch, I’m supposed to build a sand tunnel with Mommy, Uncle, and Hiro-kun. You promised.”
“Rio, don’t throw a tantrum. You’re not a baby anymore.”
Rio’s eyes welled up with tears. He had really been looking forward to today, to playing with his mother and Agi for the whole day. Rio never usually whined, and he appeared even more pitiful.
“Rio, I’m sorry, it’s all my fault. I’ll take you to another beach next time.”
Rio looked at Agi through his tears and nodded.
“I-It’s okay. It’s not your fault, Uncle. I’m sorry for whining.”
It was clear that Rio was trying his best to make Agi feel better.
Chise picked up Rio into her arms as he cried through his words.
“There, there. Rio, you’re such a kind boy. Mommy loves you very much and how kind you are.” Chise rubbed her cheek against Rio’s.
Agi gave a wry smile and started to pack their things to leave.
Kase stole a glance at Chise while he took down the beach umbrellas. Chise seemed to have known about Agi’s tattoo. She hadn’t shown any alarm about it the entire time.
Had Agi been yakuza?
If he had, it would make sense. Agi seemed to have a lot in his past that he didn’t talk about.
Then did Chise know everything about Agi?
But Kase knew nothing about Agi. Not that there was a need for him to know. However…
—You’re a lucky man to have such a beautiful wife. Plus the adorable boy.
—I thought that you were by yourself.
An unidentified anxiety took root inside his chest.
Agi drove on the way back, and Chise and Rio sat in the back seat. Like he had said at the beach, Agi took the local roads instead of the expressway.
“But it’s faster on the expressway. And it’s not busy at this time either.”
“Now, now~ Since we’ve come all the way out here, let’s take a relaxing drive home.”
That was all that Agi said about it, but even on the local roads, he made sure to give plenty of space to the car ahead of them, and he basically stayed in the leftmost lane and rarely changed lanes.
Since Rio’s fun had been cut short at the beach, on the way back, they stopped at an aquarium for him. Rio was completely better when he watched the dolphin show, which made Agi feel better too.
It was late afternoon by the time they left the aquarium, and as soon as they got in the car, Rio and Chise fell asleep. The summer sky slowly changed colors beyond the windshield from a blue to a faint rose.
“If you’re tired, you can sleep too,” Agi said with his eyes on the road.
“It’s fine. I’m not tired.”
“Then give me a piece of gum, would you? The black one, to keep myself awake.”
Kase took out a piece of gum that had been placed in the drink holder. He held it out to pass it to Agi, but Agi asked him to unwrap it for him first. Kase unwrapped the foil to reveal the rectangular piece of gum. He held it out, and Agi kept his eyes on the road as he moved his face over and opened his mouth with an “Ahh.”
There was no way around it, so Kase brought the piece of gum over to his mouth, and Agi took a bite of the gum along with the tips of Kase’s fingers. A slight pain traveled through the nerves to reach the depths of his chest that he couldn’t touch.
Agi tilted his head as he kept his eyes ahead of him. However, Kase had no idea what to even say to him.
“…Actually, I’m pretty tired. I’ll sleep a little.”
Kase leaned his face towards the window and pretended to sleep.
He peeked at the sky with half-closed eyes, watching the colors change at full force.
The sky at dusk was a mixture of blues and rose. Something inside him changed colors as well. The confined interior of the car was suffocating. He wanted to jump out of it right now. However, he wanted to keep driving as they were wherever.
Kase could see the black silhouette of a Ferris wheel in the distance. As he gazed at the beautiful sky, he listened to the small sounds of the thumping of his heart.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.