Story 6: Other Short Stories – Part 3
Translator Note: This part contains ficlets that can be read any time after Volume 1 of Yes, No, or Maybe Half?
A Special Tasting
The announcer department was unveiling a re-design of their site, and so they had asked everyone to update their profile information. If it only contained information like hometown and blood type, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but things like Personal Heroes and Personal Motto were a pain in the ass. And since the information would be public, of course he would self-produce the contents through the lens of I’m someone who considers these types of people my heroes or I’m someone who carries these kinds of words in my heart. At any rate, Kei would always put down his parents for his personal heroes. It wasn’t a complete lie, and it was a much smarter choice than putting some warlord from the Sengoku Era or some famous figure from the end of the Edo period. What did anyone know about Oda Nobunaga or Takeda Shingen anyway?
It was the personal motto that was giving Kei the most trouble. A personal motto, hmmm…
“That should be easy. Just put down something like ‘Do a good deed each day.’”
“What am I, a grade schooler? …‘Everything delicious is made of sugar and fat.’”
“That sounds more like a tagline.”
“Kuneida Kei, AKA the man who can do anything.”
“Did you just steal that from Hajime no Ippo? …Kuneida Kei, also known as the model little idiot.”
“Kunieda Kei, also known as the lying announcer who lies.”
“Kunieda Kei, also known as the one with junky tastebuds.”
“You’re just insulting me now!”
“Kunieda Kei, AKA actual product may vary as shown. Kunieda Kei, AKA a dramatization made for TV. Kunieda Kei, AKA an unfortunate sight witnessed on the show for which we deeply apologize.”
“Kunieda Kei, AKA partaken deliciously by the staff.”
“Who the hell’s the staff!?”
Kunieda Kei, AKA let’s take this into the bedroom.
(First published in a blog post celebrating additional printings of Dear Plus Bunko’s “Yes, No, or Maybe Half?” in July 2015.)
It started out of the blue.
“All right, I’ll take the fourth story from the flash news on the set and…hic!”
Well, of course it was out of the blue. They were hiccups after all. The entire table fell silent at Kei’s little trip in his voice, and then Tatsuki suddenly shouted, “Kunieda-san, what color are eggplants?”
What the hell is he saying?
“Aww, that didn’t work.”
“What are you even doing?” someone interjected.
“Huh, isn’t it something you do? It’s supposed to help with the hiccups.”
“It’s probably fake.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of it before. But I thought it was ‘What is tofu made of?’ and ‘Soybeans.’”
“I’ve never heard of it. Aren’t you supposed to hold your breath to get rid of them?”
“There’s drinking water from the far end of a cup.”
“Or doing a somersault and finishing with a fist pump.”
Shut up, you worthless nincompoops.
Kei lightly raised a hand. “I apologize for the commotion. I will be fine. It should stop on its own.”
“But the show’s starting in 5 minutes…”
“I will be fine…hic!”
The faces of the entire staff clouded over, but Kei repeated, “I will be fine.”
“Well, sometimes it’s funny to hear the news with the hiccups. People are human after all,” Shitara said laughing.
Kei wondered if Shitara really believed his I’ll be fine. Asou kept reading through his newspaper and didn’t say a word.
“All right! Let’s spend the remaining 5 minutes doing everything we can to scare Kunieda-san!”
Hey, the idiot getting all worked up over there. Scram.
The broadcast was fine, just like Kei had declared. Of course it was fine, there was no other way it could be.
I’m an announcer blessed by God himself, there’s no way I’d hiccup on camera.
It didn’t even cross his mind that he might hiccup during the commercials. That was how confident he was.
However, the moment the broadcast ended, they came back with a vengeance and this time they wouldn’t stop. The human body worked in mysterious ways.
“What, you have the hiccups?”
“I don’t need eggplants or tofu, okay? …Hic.”
“Huh? Hmm, stick your tongue out for me.”
Kei did as he was told, and Ushio grabbed his tongue with fingers tucked under the cuff of his sleeve.
“How is it?”
“Ow, you bastard! That…hic!”
“Hmm, that didn’t work. How about this?”
This time he stuck his fingers into Kei’s ears.
Be quiet, Ushio mouthed with large exaggerated motions.
Uh, if you spoke normally, I’d still be able to hear you.
Kei wasn’t too sure about this, but it seemed like another cure for the hiccups. He quieted down, and from the inside of his ears still currently plugged up, he could hear the sound of rumbling. Was it the sound of his blood flowing? Ushio’s face was just a short distance away from his own.
Ushio slowly moved his lips.
Oi. Kei furled his brow in irritation, and Ushio smiled back in amusement.
The rumbling in his body grew a little louder.
Ugh, don’t fall for it, don’t fall for it.
Kei mustered all of his willpower to look expressionless. Something that said, So what? He wasn’t sure if he had succeeded, because Ushio only grew more and more amused. Then he opened his mouth again to form a “You.”
Kei’s ears were thundering inside.
Suddenly his ears were unplugged, and Kei felt air rushing past his ears.
“Great, looks like it stopped.”
“If you plug your ears for a while, it’ll go away.”
“Good for you, good for you~” Ushio patted Kei on the head. Kei wasn’t sure if it was plugging his ears did it or if it was him holding his breath at the words being mouthed, but at any rate, his hiccups were gone.
But now his heart was racing non-stop instead. Damn bastard.1
(First published in a blog post celebrating additional printings of Dear Plus Bunko’s “Yes, No, or Maybe Half?” & “Center of the World” in February 2016.)
JUST LIKE a Chocolate
It was February 14th, and Ushio expected his very popular boyfriend to bring home a mountain of chocolate like he’d seen in a number of manga, but there was only a small paper gift bag hanging from Kei’s hand.
“So your popularity’s all a sham…”
“It’s not, dammit!!”
According to Kei, it was the network’s policy to dispose of gifts sent in to their announcers (apparently a number of years ago, there was an incident with a contaminated item), and it was Kei’s personal policy to open all gifts received at work on the spot. It allowed him to say, Oh, this looks delicious. It would be too much of a shame to have this all to myself—let’s share this with everyone. It would discourage others from doing the same thing; he wouldn’t have separate out all the trash to dispose of it at home; and most importantly, all the chocolates given to Announcer Kunieda were gourmet-quality ones, but Kei didn’t particularly like them.
Bonbons and truffles and pralines were all no, thank yous. And Kei didn’t care about some rock-star chocolatier who came from Paris or New York—weren’t they just touring around the world doing business anyway? Kei liked the domestically made chocolate that could be found in any supermarket or convenience store—nothing extra inside, nothing extra on top, no gimmicks, no frills, just plain chocolate. Anyway, opening the chocolates on the spot meant he only had to sample a single piece, and on White Day, he could get away with bringing something for everyone to help themselves to as a group rather than buying something for each person individually.
“Then what’s this?”
“I got caught in the elevator going home and had no other choice.”
Kei looked annoyed at it, but inside was an assortment of thin squares of chocolate, almost like tiles. It was a small amount that could be finished quickly, and it could be called a fairly considerate gift. It was from a popular maker that could be found in any department store—not too fanatical where he would have to worry about some woman’s obsession over him.
“You can have the dark chocolate ones. They’re bitter tasting.”
“Yes, yes, you precious little child~”
“I can eat bitter foods, okay? But bitter-tasting chocolate doesn’t make any sense! Same thing goes for sweet curry!”
“I know, I know.”
When Ushio turned on the TV, a special feature on the chocolate brand just happened to be on. As he bit on a square of chocolate (apparently they were called carrés) and watched, the show played a short animation introducing the inspiration for the name.
“In 11th century England, there was a kind noblewoman married to an earl. She could no longer watch as the people suffered under oppressive taxes and appealed to her husband to reduce them. Her husband said that he would grant her request if she rode naked on a horse through the streets of the town. And so the noblewoman did; she got up on a horse without a stitch of clothing on her and marched through the town. The townspeople stayed indoors that day with their doors and windows closed so not to dishonor the kind and benevolent noblewoman…”
“Naked on a horse? Wouldn’t that be kinda painful?” Ushio commented, but he figured it was just a fairy tale. However, the conclusion Kei drew from the story, all cool and composed, was “Wasn’t it just some kind of kinky play?”
“Well, the conditions are strange, you know? The guy probably had a voyeurism kink for putting his wife on display. Like seriously, you’re gonna shut the windows? Obviously, everyone’s going, ‘How ya not gonna look!?’ from behind closed doors.”
“Why the Kansai accent?”
“I see, I gotta give it up to someone who loves their kinks. It’s a deep and dark cave down there.”
“I don’t love any of it!!”
The next day, Kei appeared on the evening news. He wasn’t in the studio; it was pre-recorded clip of an experience he was trying for the viewers.
“Yoga has recently gained popularity with men, and today I’ll be visiting a yoga studio in the area. …Good afternoon, I look forward to the class.”
“Of course! Shall we begin?”
Apparently, it was a fairly tough regimen they were showcasing, and after playing a few snippets of the class progressing, the screen cut to the words One hour later… with a shot of Announcer Kunieda covered in sweat.
“Oh, yes, this was quite the workout…”
His bangs were wet and stuck to his forehead, and his T-shirt clung to his skin with enough moisture he could probably wring it out. He crouched down on a mat, wiping his face, cheeks deeply flushed, desperately trying to catch his breath.
What was this slightly familiar feeling that was coming over him? The directionality wasn’t the same, but there was the feeling that Ushio shouldn’t be watching Kei at work like this. And Ushio wasn’t happy about it at all.
Yeah, I don’t understand this kink. I just don’t like it. Ahhh—
When he gets home, I’m going to eat him up like chocolate.
(First published as a free paper for J. Garden in March 2016)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
- FYI, Ushio mouths suki first and never finishes the aishiteru. This is the second time in the series that he ever uses aishiteru. The first time was when he said it flippantly to try to convince Kei to go through with penetrative sex. IIRC, there’s maybe one additional instance that can be found in an extra or doujinshi. There is also an Aishiteru game, where one person has to try not to get embarrassed while another person says Ashiteru to them. Additional FYI, I translate suki as I like you, I’m in love with you, or I love you, depending on the relationship status and the emotional depth of the scene because I prefer a more liberal translation that resonates emotionally.