Part 18: House of Sweets ~un petit nid~ (18)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
The next day, Kase couldn’t concentrate on his work.
It was Kase’s job to take the croissants that had been proofing overnight and to put them in the oven to bake, but when Agi asked if they were ready yet, he only then remembered it. He had been in such a rush to put them in the oven that he almost got the temperature wrong. He kept making small mistakes here and there, and when the morning rush finally settled down, he felt a wave of relief.
“You not feeling well?”
The moment Agi called out to him from behind, Kase squeezed down on the piping bag in his hand, and custard spurt from the custard cream buns that he was filling.
Agi lamented, “Oh boy,” at the wet splattering sound. “If you’re feeling drained, you can leave early today.”
“I’m fine. I’m just a little—”
Chise’s voice covered his response as she called out from the storeroom.
“Agi-saaan, we’re out of Alle Fine. Did you order more of it for us?”
It was the name of a flour. Agi frowned like he just remembered something. Apparently he had forgotten. Light little footsteps came running from the storeroom, and Rio appeared in the kitchen.
“Uncle, Mommy said to call them right away. And that geez, you’re a scatterbrain.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m so very sorry,” Agi apologized jokingly, lifting Rio into his arms.
“Hiroaki, if you’re not feeling well, don’t push yourself too much. Oh, I’ll take this then.”
Agi nabbed the overfilled custard bun and took a bite from it. Rio reached his hands out, saying “Me too, me too,” and Agi brought the bun up to Rio’s mouth for a bite.
“I love custard buns. What about you, Uncle?”
“It’s my very best favorite out of all the breads and pastries. I love it when there’s tons of custard cream inside.”
They took turns taking bites from the bun as they talked. They looked like father and son, and it made Kase’s heart ache. What was this feeling? He was bewildered at this pain that hadn’t been there until yesterday.
—That’s why… I’m sorry.
Kase remembered Agi’s words. He should have accepted the fact that Agi’s hands were only meant for Chise and Rio. But actually, it didn’t matter if Kase accepted it or not. It wasn’t any of his business when it came to Agi’s personal matters. Kase returned to his task of filling custard buns.
Will Agi-san let me sleep with him again tonight?
When he did simple tasks, his mind would wander off to thoughts about Agi. In a daze and unable to focus, he accidentally overfilled a custard cream bun again. Kase sighed and stopped his task.
It was unusual, but Kase had slept well last night despite being a light sleeper, and he felt fine today. When he woke up this morning, Agi and the cat were still there with him. Kase couldn’t move or even twitch so that he wouldn’t wake them. He felt like if he moved even a little, everything would disappear like a dream.
Kase could see Agi through the glass window that separated the front of the shop from the kitchen. He wore a white dress shirt and a long garcon apron. It was a figure that Kase was used to seeing now, one that never changed. But his mind wouldn’t leave that figure. He wanted to go home as soon as possible. He wanted to be alone with Agi.
It was still around 3 o’clock when he glanced at the clock. He felt like time had slowed to a crawl since morning.
Kase wasn’t good at dealing with people, and there were very few with whom he wanted to associate. But once he became attracted to someone, he could only see that one person. The center of his world became that person. It was either zero or one hundred. Why could he only make personal relationships this way?
One minute was ten minutes. Ten minutes felt like an hour. When work was finally finished and they got home, Agi lined up a bunch of flyers for delivery on the living room table and told Kase to pick one. It was Kase’s turn to prepare dinner tonight, but with his weird behavior at work earlier, Agi said that he would let him off the hook today.
Kase pointed at the sushi one. Because it was what Agi liked. While Agi called the sushi place, Kase opened up a can of cat food. He put it in a food bowl and placed the bowl on the floor next to the sofa. Kase watched the cat eat his food, and Agi made a face after he ended the call.
“Why are you letting him eat here?”
Normally the cat would eat in the kitchen.
“I don’t like the smell.”
Agi had pinched his nose, and his voice sounded weird.
Kase sat on the floor by Agi’s feet next to the sofa with his knees up, and his lips quirked into a smile. Agi tugged at Kase’s hair and asked, “What are you smiling at,” but Kase ignored him.
Kase knew that Agi didn’t like the smell of canned cat food. That was why he had always fed the cat in the kitchen. And the cat wouldn’t eat unless Kase was with him, so Kase always had to stay in the kitchen while the cat ate. However, tonight he was unable to do that.
1. Kase wanted to be with Agi.
2. The cat wouldn’t eat unless Kase was there.
3. Agi didn’t like the smell of canned cat food.
Out of the three conditions, Number 3 was the least serious. And that was why it had turned out like this.
The cat finished eating before the sushi arrived. Agi opened the windows to air out the room, and they ate sushi in the fresh air. When they finished, Agi went into the kitchen to wash the sushi tray, and Kase followed him.
“Go rest in the living room.”
“I want to be here.”
Kase leaned against the kitchen wall and gazed at Agi doing the dishes and at the cat.
“All my effort is lost on you. And here I wanted to let you rest.”
Kase just silently watched Agi as he grumbled at him. When the dishes were done, Agi left the kitchen. Kase followed him out, and the cat trailed behind him. Before Agi returned to the living room, he went to the bathroom. Kase waited outside the door, and when Agi came out, he jumped back in surprise.
“Why are you standing out here?”
“Because I want to be with you.”
Agi looked at Kase and the cat with an indescribable expression on his face. He opened his mouth to say something, but he gave up and closed it, and headed for the living room with a hand pressed to his forehead. Agi sat on the sofa and turned on the TV. Kase sat at Agi’s feet with his knees up just like before. The cat curled up next to him.
They were watching the news when Agi called out to him. Kase turned just his head to look up at him while he held his knees to his chest.
“Come sit on the sofa.”
“I prefer to sit here.”
The place at Agi’s feet wasn’t too close and wasn’t too far. Kase would prefer to be closer, but he knew that the closer he got, the closer that he’d want to be with him. Kase didn’t want Agi to think that he was stifling. He had learned from his previous love that it was important to control himself if he wanted them to last together.
“It’s hard and painful on the floor. And you weren’t feeling very well today.”
“It’s fine. It doesn’t hurt anywhere.”
Kase turned his back towards the TV, rested his arms on the sofa, and looked up at Agi. He had a good view of Agi like this. Agi gave him a look of exasperation that went beyond troubled.
“Geez, you’re the one that’s like a cat,” Agi commented. “Alright, come on.”
Agi slipped his hands under Kase’s arms and tried to lift him up with an “Up you go.” However, he immediately admitted defeat and complained that Kase was heavy. Obviously. Kase was nearly 180 centimeters tall after all.
“You’re an extra oversized cat. Oi, come up here yourself.” Agi patted his lap.
“It’s fine. I’m heavy.”
“I don’t like letting you sit on the floor. So hurry up and get over here.”
Given that comment, Kase dared to sit in Agi’s lap. He tried to sit farther away without putting too much of his weight on Agi, but Agi told him not to stand on ceremony for something dumb and manhandled him until he was sitting sideways in Agi’s lap. Kase was flustered that he was putting all his weight on Agi, but as he timidly relaxed, Agi nodded with a cocksure attitude and said that this was better.
“If you’re going to come, then come at me with all you’ve got. But don’t follow me to the bathroom.”
“I don’t wanna.”
Agi gave him a piercing stare, and Kase backed down and nodded.
“What about the bed?”
“You let me sleep with you yesterday.”
Kase looked at Agi with a gaze that asked, What about tonight? To which Agi said, “Hmm.”
“If you don’t want to, then I won’t go. You don’t have to force yourself.”
Agi immediately flicked him in the forehead.
“Look at where you’re sitting, so don’t pretend to be polite here.”
The remark made Kase miffed.
“You’re the one who told me to sit in your lap.”
“Oh, really? If you don’t like it, then get off.”
“I don’t want to anymore.”
Kase gave a “Humph,” and buried his face in Agi’s neck. He could smell Agi’s scent. He closed his eyes and breathed it in, and he finally felt safe again like he had finally returned to his own hideaway.
“…Good God, it’s like a stray cat got attached to me.”
The large hand stroked Kase’s hair as Agi grumbled.
“Well, whatever. Be as spoiled as you’d like.”
Agi held Kase close with his hand to his head, and Kase felt happy and also sad at the same time. If only he really were a cat. That way he could stay with Agi until he died.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.