Part 7: House of Sweets ~un petit nid~ (7)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Kase woke up to the doorbell. He looked at the clock, and it was still 11. It was a Sunday morning, and Kase got up slowly, thinking it had to be a church group or a newspaper solicitor. He opened the door with his full displeasure on display and found Rio standing there with a backpack.
“Hiro-kun, good morning.”
For a moment, Kase wondered if he was dreaming. He looked down half-asleep, and Rio took out his cell phone from his pocket and called someone.
“Here,” Rio said, handing over the cell phone.
When Kase took the phone, the person on the other line answered.
“Hey, it’s me.”
“Sorry to spring this on you, but could you take Rio to the zoo today?”
Kase tilted his head with his ear to the phone.
“We just got a last-minute order, and Chise can’t go with him. I have things that I can’t step away from, and Rio’s been looking forward to it for a long time. I’d feel bad if he can’t go. So help us out and take care of him.”
Kase had been listening in a daze, but he frantically opened his mouth when it seemed like Agi would hang up.
“You can’t ask me this.”
He wasn’t good with children. It was one thing to look after Rio at the shop while he was working, but he couldn’t entertain Rio all day by himself. He was sure that Rio wouldn’t have any fun if someone like him was the one to take him.
“Quit complaining, and grow some balls once in a while. Okay? Take care of him.”
Agi hung up on him. How could he do this? Kase’s hand stiffened around the cell phone, and he felt a tug on his pajamas. Rio looked up at Kase with a bright innocent smile on his face, and Kase was at a complete loss for what to do. He had to somehow turn this down. But what should he do if Rio cried? As he searched for something to say, Rio spoke up and smiled at him.
“Hiro-kun, it’s fine. I’ll go home.”
“I know that everyone’s busy, so I’m okay. I can go to the zoo next time.”
Kase became embarrassed that this young child smiled cheerfully, putting Kase’s feelings ahead of his own. There was nothing wrong with refusing a sudden request from a complete stranger. However, Kase felt like he had done something mean to Rio.
Rio continued his words while Kase felt uncomfortable. “But is it okay if I just eat lunch here? I don’t really like to eat alone.”
Lunch… He was used to having lunch together at work, so he should be able to endure it, but what did he have in the refrigerator? Kase turned to glance in the apartment, and Rio rushed to put his backpack down.
“It’s okay, I have a lunch box. Mommy made it for us. There’s your share and mine.”
Rio held out the backpack, and Kase nervously accepted it.
“Okay, then, um, p-please come in.”
Kase had never invited anyone into his home before, and he was flustered despite his guest only being a child.
Rio gave the greeting, “Thank you for having me,” and walked in the door. He made sure to neaten up his little shoes, which didn’t even reach half the length of Kase’s own shoes. For now, Kase let the little uninvited guest into the apartment.
He had no juice, so Kase poured some tea for Rio, and Rio was at the table taking out the lunch boxes. One was a normal lunch box, and the other was an airplane-shaped one for Rio.
“Wow~ It looks so good. Thank you for the food~”
Rio clapped his hands together in thanks, and Kase followed suit. There was fried chicken, a broccoli and shrimp quiche, flower-shaped carrots and spinach stir-fried in butter, and colorful chirashizushi. Kase felt complicated feelings as he ate the lunch filled with a mother’s love that he hadn’t had himself.
“Hiro-kun, is the chirashizushi good? I love Mommy’s chirashizushi,” Rio said happily with his mouth full.
Kase tasted almost nothing, but he mumbled briefly that it was good. He couldn’t tell if it was true or not, but it probably tasted good. On that note, they ate their lunches quietly, and the silence gradually became uncomfortable. Normally Chise and Agi were with them, and Kase could listen to them talk and add a few acknowledgments here and there.
Kase grabbed onto a topic of conversation somehow, and Rio lifted his head. He stared right at Kase, and Kase frantically pointed at Rio’s lunch box. It was the shape of an airplane.
“Airplanes, do you like them? Your dish for lunch at the bakery is the same shape.”
“Yes!” Rio nodded his head enthusiastically. He seemed to be happy that Kase talked to him.
“When I grow up, I want to be someone who drives an airplane. When Mommy gets tired, she always says she wants to go to the South Seas, and you can’t go there without an airplane. Oh, and I love to draw too, so I also draw pictures of Mommy on an island for her.”
Rio had been happy as he gave his explanation, but then he hung his head despondently.
“…Um, Hiro-kun, is it true that you can’t drive airplanes if you’re not smart?”
“Huh? Yeah, I guess so.”
At Kase’s answer, Rio scrunched up his face like he was about to cry. Kase then remembered Rio saying something about never scoring above 17 points on his tests. Rio’s eyes were slowly filling with tears, and Kase panicked.
“I-It’s should be okay. If you try your hardest to study every day, you’ll become smarter… maybe.”
“You think so?”
Rio wiped his eyes and scooped some chirashizushi in his spoon. It was a heaping spoonful, and half of it spilled instead of entering in his mouth. Rio looked at it mystified. Maybe he really wasn’t that smart.
“But my Daddy wasn’t very smart too, so maybe I can’t do it after all.”
“Yeah, he died before I was born. Mommy only knew Daddy after he grew up, but Uncle Agi and Uncle Mutou were both Daddy’s friends when they were kids. They said that Daddy was really stupid ever since he was little. But he was really kind.”
Rio’s dead father and Agi had been childhood friends. Maybe that was the connection that had brought Agi and Chise together to run a bakery—and Kase could see faintly how they were related together. They were all very old friends, Mutou included.
“And that’s why Uncle Agi and Uncle Mutou are almost like my Daddy for me. I love Uncle Agi, and I wish that he can be my real Daddy~ Oh!”
Rio suddenly raised his voice, startling Kase to stop eating.
“Hiro-kun, I’m sorry. I forgot.”
Rio rushed to open one of the pockets of the backpack and pulled out some things from it. There was seasoned salt, along with individual packets of mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. Rio pulled out the various seasonings and lined them up on the table.
“Mommy’s food is tasty, but you don’t taste anything, right, Hiro-kun? So I brought all this with me. Sorry that I forgot to take them out. You’re almost done with your lunch, but you can use these if you want.”
Kase stared at the seasonings and felt strange about it. Rio was not very smart, but he was kind. Kase hated children, and his feelings still hadn’t changed, but he felt like maybe Rio was an exception.
“…Okay, I’ll use this.” Kase opened the packet of salt and sprinkled it on the fried chicken.
After they finished eating, Kase washed the lunch boxes and returned them to Rio. Rio tried to wrap them up in a cloth napkin, but he couldn’t do it very well. Kase couldn’t just watch and wrapped them up for him.
“Hiro-kun, thank you. And thank you for eating lunch with me.” Rio gave his thanks very properly. He didn’t dawdle and stood up to pull on his backpack all by himself. The little figure headed for the front door, well-behaved and far too reasonable.
“Rio,” Kase called out without thinking.
Rio turned around.
“…Do you want to go to the zoo together?”
Why did he say something like that? He wanted to take it back. However, Rio’s face lit up in an instant, as he shouted “Yay!!” and ran over to Kase and hugged his legs.
“Thank you, Hiro-kun! I love you!”
The words were warm and bright and almost made him dizzy.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
8 thoughts on “House of Sweets – Part 7”
God, my heart broke for Rio when he sensed that Kase was uncomfortable with taking him to the zoo. But he still smiled through it. It was good to see that Kase didn’t have the heart to disappoint Rio either despite his discomfort. Rio is probably used to Chise and Agi being busy all the time because of the bakery…
I really appreciate you translating this. I look forward to the new releases.
Thank you! I’m glad that you like the story!
If I didn’t knew Rio is used to Agi and Chise being busy all the time, I’d think all this zoo thing was a ruse to make Kase be more sociable. But it’s cute to see those two trust Kase enough to ask him this.
Thanks for the chapter!
It really is nice to see. Rio is so cute when he launches himself at Kase.
what a little ball of sunshine that makes my day warmer oh he’s so cute
thank you for the chapter!!
Rio is so darling, I love him~
That’s such a brave thing to do 😳🤭💜🌻💝