Part 20: House of Sweets ~un petit nid~ (20)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
The next day when they were closing up, Agi asked, “Hiroaki, should we go out once in a while for dinner?”
“Because yesterday was our day off, but I had to rush off in the morning.”
Apparently Agi thought that it was his fault for Kase’s attitude yesterday.
Kase shook his head. “It’s fine. I’ll have curry tonight. The one that you made.”
“Oh, you’ll eat it?” Agi’s face brightened. “It’s pretty elaborate. I put in things like miso, soy sauce, wine, whatever we had in the kitchen, but curry’s pretty much a marvel—you’ll never encounter the same one twice.”
It gave Kase courage to see Agi in a good mood as he spoke.
“And um, yesterday…”
“I’m sorry for giving you a bad attitude yesterday.”
Agi was stunned for a moment, but he immediately gave a smile. “It’s fine, it’s fine. Don’t sweat such small stuff.”
Agi ruffled Kase’s hair happily. The large hand felt nice. Kase was glad. He was able to apologize properly.
Kase decided that he would act properly from now on. He wouldn’t cling all over Agi. He wouldn’t distance himself unnaturally from Agi. He would live with him like a normal roommate. Only at night, he would sleep in Agi’s bed. He felt like that much would be okay. If he didn’t restore balance to his feelings, then things could go bad.
“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”
A low bass tone rang out from behind Kase. When he turned around, Mutou was standing at the back door to the kitchen.
“Don’t creep in from there.”
“Sorry about that. I can’t really come in through the front door anymore.” Mutou shrugged. The man in the expensive-looking suit looked out of place in the flour-covered kitchen.
Agi leaned against a worktable and smirked. “Did you finally realize how bad it is for a yakuza to visit a peaceful town bakery?”
Mutou replied with a grin. “Really? I hadn’t realized that at all.”
He was like a mischievous kid from somewhere, and Kase was surprised that this man could make such a face. Well, it was probably only in front of Agi.
“Take a look at your own face, Agi. It’s enough to interfere with your own business; you don’t even look like a bakery shop owner.”
“I don’t want to hear that from you. So? Have things gotten so bad that you can’t walk around in the open?”
“There aren’t many days left until next month’s succession announcement. The other side is getting pretty desperate.”
The other day, a drug addict had crashed one the clubs that Mutou had planned to visit, and apparently the man had pulled out a knife and went on a rampage. The man had fled before the police arrived, but the next day, his body was found floating in a nearby river. The group that had opposed Mutou must have hired the guy and silenced him afterwards.
“They’re goddamn insane. Those guys of Yokoyama’s have no fucking class.”
“Don’t associate yakuza with class. You want to hide out in our flour-covered storeroom?”
Mutou snorted at the playful words said with a teasing tone. “I just have to hold out until next month. Once I run the place, they’ll be the first ones exterminated.”
As he spoke the sinister words, Mutou handed Agi a colorful gift bag that he had been holding.
“It’s almost Rio’s birthday, but I don’t know if I can make it that day, so I came to drop this off first.”
That was when Chise came down the stairs from the second floor.
“Oh, Mutou-san, you’re here?”
“He came to drop off Rio’s birthday present.”
Agi held out the gift bag, and Chise happily accepted it.
“You do this every year, but thank you. I’ll call Rio over.”
“It’s fine, give it to him on his birthday for me. I came to talk to the two of you today.”
“To the two of us?” Agi tilted his head with arms still folded.
Mutou looked over at Kase. “It has nothing to do with you. Leave.”
The voice treated him like a nuisance, and it irked Kase.
“You’re not the one who hired me.”
Mutou narrowed his eyes in silence.
Agi casually intervened between them. “Hiroaki, you’ve done enough for today. You can head home ahead of me.”
“But I’m not done cleaning up—”
“Don’t worry about it today. I’ll head home as soon as Mutou is done with his talk, so warm up the curry for dinner. Okay?”
Kase nodded reluctantly. He excused himself for the day and left the kitchen. He changed his clothes in the break room, but the conversation still bothered him, and he couldn’t leave. He stood outside the back door and listened to the voices inside.
“Agi, how long do you plan to keep that man here?”
Even beyond the wall, Kase could hear the irritation in Mutou’s voice.
“Why should there be a time limit? He does good work, and he’s helped us out a lot.”
“You’re not fucking him, are you?”
“Hey, hey, this is a wholesome bakery. Don’t use that language here. What if Rio hears you?”
“Don’t worry, Rio is upstairs, absorbed in front of the TV watching a cartoon.”
Chise laughed in amusement, and Mutou was probably the one who clicked his tongue.
“You gotta be kidding me. If you have time to deal with that hassle, then come back and join me. I need you too.”
“Mutou, I cut ties with all of that a long time ago,” Agi muttered with a tone of disbelief.
“You’re saying that again? Heh, don’t make me laugh. Are you the sort of man who’s made to run the town bakery? I’ll give you your own team to run, so come back to me. I’ll be the next in line for the boss, and you’ll be my right-hand man.”
“I told you that I’m not cut out for it.”
“Is this weird humility of yours your atonement for Yuzuru? Sure, he died protecting you, but you could vow to aim for the top at all costs as a way to mourn him. Why don’t you think about it that way? What about the promise we made? The promise to conquer the top together. Will you throw that away too?”
Kase couldn’t hear Agi’s voice.
“If you’re worried about Chise and Rio, then bring them into your household. You can all come back together. You’ve been together long enough. I’m sure you two have thought about it a little.”
“What? No, what are you even saying?” Chise frantically interjected.
Kase couldn’t listen to it anymore and left.
He walked through the town at night with long strides. When Kase arrived at the apartment, he headed directly for his own room. He took the lemon yellow shirt hanging on the wall and sat alongside the wall, clutching his knees to his chest with the shirt. Agi had brought it back to him from the fire, and it had a slightly burnt smell to it.
How long had he stayed sitting here? Kase snapped his head up when he heard the faint sound of the key turning in the lock. He went out to the hallway, and Agi was in the lighted entrance way, taking his shoes off.
“Oh, hey, you’re here. The place was all dark, so I thought that you weren’t back yet.”
“Oh… The curry…”
Kase remembered that he didn’t warm it up yet and rushed over towards the kitchen.
“Hey, don’t worry about Mutou.”
Kase turned back in alarm. Did Agi know that he had been eavesdropping on them?
“At his core, he’s not a bad guy, but with the mess of the succession, it’s got him in a foul mood. Well, for now, let’s warm up the curry and eat. You’re starving too, right?”
Agi took Kase’s hand. As they held hands and went to the kitchen, Kase was relieved that Agi didn’t seem to realize that he had eavesdropped on them. However, his feelings were an endless turmoil in a much deeper place.
That night, Kase woke up from a scary dream.
Kase had turned into a small child and walked through the middle of a forest. When he became so hungry that he couldn’t walk anymore, a house of sweets made out of cookies and chocolate appeared in front of him. The little Kase looked at the house with envy and wanted it for himself, so he shoved Chise and Rio, who had lived there, into the fire of a hearth. Then he tore up the wafer floors and ate them. Next went the cookie walls, and then the jelly windows. When he ate everything up, there was no trace of the candy house left.
Sitting on the grass was a child with his mouth and hands smeared in chocolate and icing.
Chise and Rio had been thrown in the hearth.
Kase was the one who had shoved them. Into the hearth. Chise and Rio.
Deep in the middle of the forest, only the sounds of leaves rustled through the air.
When Kase remembered the dream, it made his body tremble. Agi was next to him breathing in his sleep, and the cat was lying on his chest. And yet, he wouldn’t stop shivering. All he needed was to be at Agi’s side.
Although he had said that, his true feelings were full of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. In truth, Kase wanted Agi all to himself, and he thought that Chise and Rio were in the way.
Even though they had been so kind to him. It made him think that he was a scary person.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.