Part 25: House of Sweets ~un petit nid~ (25)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Nestled together, Kase could hear the peaceful sounds of breathing next to him. Whereas Kase couldn’t sleep because he didn’t want to lose this precious time right now, Agi had dropped off to sleep straight away.
There was the soft sound of rustling, and when Kase turned his head to look over, the cat was on the table stealing food. Kase gently extricated himself from Agi’s arms and removed the cat from the table. The cat clung to him looking to be spoiled, so Kase sat cross-legged with the cat in his lap and gazed at the table.
There were the candles that he had blown out without making a wish. The house of sweets with the broken roof.
Kase reached for the roof with the hole in it. There was a light noise as the wafer easily broke away. He chewed on the flat cookie, but it tasted like nothing. It basically just absorbed the saliva in his mouth. But since it was already broken, maybe he should just eat the whole thing anyway. Swallow it whole and make it part of himself.
Agi would marry Chise and become Rio’s father.
When that happened, he wouldn’t have a place to belong anymore. It felt so hard to lose the shelter that he finally found from the wind and rain that he wanted to make whatever excuses he could to himself so that he could remain here. However, despite the tantrums that he threw like a child who cried, Gimme, gimme, gimme, Agi had given Kase plenty of his time and company. That was why he had to say that he didn’t need any more from him.
Kase remembered the smile and answer that Kaname had given him when he asked if he was happy. If Kaname had continued to stay with him, Kaname could have never smiled like that. It was probably the same now. Agi’s life would be better off if Kase wasn’t there.
Kase ate the candy house silently as he looked at his upturned hands. The things that he wanted always slipped between the cracks of his fingers like fine grains of sand. He was filled with cracks. Filled with holes. These hands couldn’t hold on to the things that he wanted. Would it always be like this for him? When he stared at the tips of his fingers smeared in chocolate, a feeling overcame him that he hadn’t felt in a while—it was like a cool cloudy membrane separated him from the rest of the world.
His name was called.
“…What are you doing? Come here.”
Agi reached his hand out towards Kase while still half asleep. Kase held the cat against his chest and slipped his body next to Agi’s. Agi pulled him in closer, and when they were tucked together nice and snug, he took a deep breath of satisfaction. Kase kept his eyes opened and gazed at Agi’s sleeping face. If he fell asleep, then the night would be over in an instant. It was a fleeting time that would melt like candy in the morning. Kase wanted to enjoy every single second of this while he had it.
The house of sweets was on the table, half-eaten and half-broken.
The two of them overslept in the morning. They woke up on the carpet in each other’s arms, and when they checked the time, they jumped to their feet. As they rushed to get ready for work, Agi told Kase that he needed to talk to him when they got home tonight.
“I ended up falling asleep yesterday, so let’s talk when we get back.”
Kase gave a nod of his head. It was probably about Chise and the bakery. He didn’t really want to talk about it, but he could prepare himself by nighttime so that he wouldn’t break down from it.
He was afraid to be told that this was goodbye, but if that unhappiness were to happen, then it was the mere reality of things. It was better than prolonging the time that he spent waiting in fear. He forced himself think that it was better like this. If he didn’t, he felt like he would rush over to the front of the shop and throw himself at Agi’s feet.
Kase did his work as normal in the morning, and during his afternoon break, he went out to the real estate agency by the train station. He had already visited two times before this and had told them what he was looking for. It didn’t take too long to explain what he wanted.
He hadn’t thought about quitting the bakery before, so he had been looking for a place in the neighborhood, but this time he wanted a place that was several stations away. He planned to take the cat with him, and he was looking for an apartment building that allowed pets. They found a couple of suitable candidates for him, so Kase made an appointment to go look at them on his next day off, and then he left the agency.
Kase walked aimlessly during the short trip back to the bakery. The autumn sky was a sunny deep blue, and the air was crisp and clear. He hated it because it made him feel even more depressed. When he got back to the shop, the delivery van was gone. Instead, there was an overbearing Mercedes-Benz that was parked a short distance away on the street.
“Welcome back. Mutou-san is here.”
Even if she hadn’t said anything, Kase could see the man in a suit sitting on a chair in the kitchen.
“Apparently the announcement for the successor of the family is tomorrow, and now there’s no place for the next first lieutenant to sit and drink coffee. We better watch out. We might get caught in the line of fire if we’re with him, you know.”
“Don’t be stupid. Sure, they’ve got no class, but they know better than to crash a respectable bakery in town.”
Chise laughed, “It’s like a yakuza movie,” and Mutou frowned, “Is it something to laugh about?”
“I’m not sure how you can deal with it if you don’t laugh about it. Oh, Kase-kun, there’s a customer in the front, so can you get Mutou-san’s coffee for him? Thanks. Agi-san should be back from his deliveries soon.”
“I could go out front—”
But Chise left the kitchen before he could finish, and Kase was left behind with Mutou. There was nothing he could do about it, so he poured the freshly brewed coffee into a cup and served it to Mutou.
“Sorry about this. For using the place as a coffee shop.”
Kase felt awkward, so he decided to leave and organize the storeroom or something.
“So, how long do you plan to keep imposing on Agi?”
The question sounded both serious and like a joke. When Kase turned around, he met Mutou’s gaze. The corners of his mouth were slightly lifted, and Kase knew that Mutou was teasing him. When Kase sharpened his gaze, Mutou suddenly relaxed his eyes.
“…You really are similar.”
He seemed to have muttered it without thinking.
“You mean to Yuzuru?”
There was a short silence after Kase asked the question.
“I take it that Agi told you about him.”
The man couldn’t hide his surprise, and Kase wanted to tell him, In your face. However, the exhilaration only lasted a moment, and it was immediately replaced with bitterness.
Kase went to face Mutou. “You don’t have to worry, I’ll be quitting this place.”
He sounded like he was venting his anger. However, if this man hadn’t said anything unnecessary, maybe he could have still stayed with Agi. He felt a little better when he thought that it was all this man’s fault.
“Agi-san will marry Chise-san and go back to your family, right? Then this place will close, and there’s no need for me to be here. It’s everything that you wanted.”
“Agi will marry Chise?”
When Mutou narrowed his eyes, the back door opened.
“I’m home~ Oh! Uncle Mutou!”
Rio was home. He saw Mutou and jumped into his lap with his backpack still on. It wasn’t a conversation that they should have with a child around, and it went unfinished.
“Uncle, thank you for the birthday present.”
“Do you like it? It’s a limited edition of the Lamborghini Murcielago, you know.”
“It’s an Italian sports car.”
The name was too difficult for him, and Rio tilted his head in confusion. “Hmm?”
“Maybe it’s still too early for you.”
“It’s okay, I’m happy about it. Oh, oh, but I’m not very good at the controller, so can you control it for me? I want to see the Lambo drive around.”
“Hmm? Oh, okay… But right now…”
Mutou made a face like he was thinking a little, but then he said, “Well, it should be fine for a bit,” and got up. This man also doted on Rio. Rio happily ran upstairs to get the remote-controlled car. When he brought it down, he pulled at Kase’s hand and said, “Hiro-kun, come with us too.” Kase didn’t have any pressing work he had to do, so he decided to accompany them.
It was past 3 o’clock, and there weren’t many people on the street in front of the bakery, which was perfect for playing with a remote-controlled car. Chise was serving customers in the bakery, but she noticed them outside through the window and waved her hand with a smile.
“You just have to get used to these things. You’ll get better if you practice at it.”
Mutou controlled the levers on the remote. The exquisitely made car didn’t seem like a toy as Mutou backed it up and made it take off for the shop. Just before it hit the wall, he completed a spin turn with the car.
“Uncle, that’s amazing!”
“It’s because I’ve loved cars since I was a kid.”
Kase watched the two of them from a short distance away. Mutou was harsh with Kase, but with Rio, he made a gentle face that didn’t make him seem like a yakuza. There was no one who was always cold or always kind to everyone. Everyone had someone who was important to them. Could he ever find someone like that too?
That was when he heard the roaring sound of an engine. A car was careening down the street at high speed. There weren’t many people around, but it was still dangerous. Mutou also noticed the car and picked Rio up.
Instead of slowing down, the car charged in Mutou’s direction.
It was going to hit them. As he shut his eyes without thinking, there was the squealing of tires right next to him.
When Kase opened his eyes, Mutou was on the ground with Rio in his arms. He caught his breath for a moment, but Mutou got up right away. Apparently he fell to the ground as he dodged the car. Kase was relieved to see that Rio was okay too.
The car had stopped for a brief while, but it started moving again. This time, it backed up at them at full thrust. It was clearly aiming for Mutou. Mutou dropped to the ground as he held Rio and rolled out of the way. The car changed the direction of its tires little by little and continued its disturbing chase.
Men from the parked Mercedes-Benz ran over towards them. Chise ran out from the bakery, her face in full horror. As people gathered to see the commotion, the window of the car rolled down, and a man hiding his face with a hat and sunglasses stuck his body out from it. He held a gun in his hand and pointed it at Mutou. Mutou was still holding Rio against his chest, and Kase jumped out in reflex.
He had no time to think about anything. When Kase found himself in front of Mutou, he felt an impact that seemed to rip through his shoulder. He caught his breath, and when he went to inhale again, a fierce pain coursed through his body.
He could hear the sounds of screaming here and there. Rio’s voice was mixed in with the screaming, calling out “Hiro-kun.” Kase was relieved when he realized that Rio was okay. He couldn’t say anything because of the pain and fell to his knees on the ground.
It was the sound of Agi’s voice in the distance. Kase could see him jump out from the delivery van and run over towards him. Kase lost all strength in his body and slowly his consciousness faded.
There were the sounds of screams and shouting. But Kase could still pick out Agi’s voice from the noise. He sounded desperate as he called his name. Kase wanted to tell him that he was okay, but his voice didn’t work. His vision blurred, and Agi’s face became hazy.
“Hey! Don’t close your eyes! Answer me!”
His eyelids were heavy. Just before he lost consciousness, he heard Agi call his name.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.