Chapter 47:

046 – I'm Reading Too Much

Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path | Our World

"EH?"Bookmark here

It was too late for us to hide the evidence.Bookmark here

About twenty seconds have already passed since the fuss reached its climax. Minase is still holding on to the pot with a smile that was slowly becoming blank after first seeing that Rin and I are in Yuuga's room, and that tools of making manga, and the manga itself have no way to be unseen.Bookmark here

Minase is an otaku, and after learning a bit of her background from Rin, I can say that she's a dedicated shoujo manga reader that can overreact or fawn over it all the time, just like me and Nagi-ouji. It will be no surprise if she immediately recognizes the manga pages to be from Flower of the Unknown, even from an initial glance. With the lines connecting, perhaps the thought had already processed on her mind.Bookmark here

She held the pot tighter even if trembling. Her smile was then replaced by a bitter, shocked expression as somehow… her tears fell.Bookmark here

"M-M-Mina?! H-Hey, that was enough to make you cry?" Yuuga worryingly asked.Bookmark here

"…" but Minase finally began sobbing as Yuuga takes the pot.Bookmark here

I handed out the tissue to Yuuga whilst Minase tries to wipe her still flowing tears with the back of her wrist. It was a surprise to see someone reacted with such a saddened look in the recently realized fact.Bookmark here

The air was very tense, and so Rin and I silently escaped the scene without being noticed. In the hurry of giving the two an alone time, we ended up inside Yuuga's room.Bookmark here

"Umm… I think saying the 'alone time' might get misleading."Bookmark here

"Thanks for correcting your mistake, Potato."Bookmark here

Both of us didn't exactly know why she suddenly bawled, but one thing that we know is that Minase likes Yuuga. There is a high chance that Yuuga isn't aware of it, considering how our conversation developed back in November in the library. There is also the thing that Erika told me that they are still very close up to this point, apart from just being childhood friends.Bookmark here

While I was busy on the thought, we noticed that it became frighteningly silent outside, but a thud suddenly sounded.Bookmark here

Rin slightly opened the door of the bedroom enough to see what is going on outside. On that small gap, Minase was still standing… while we see Yuuga kowtowing in front of her.Bookmark here

"I'm very sorry…!"Bookmark here

"I should be the one apologizing for suddenly crying!"Bookmark here

"No! I have to do this. After all, I kept the fact that I am a mangaka a secret!"Bookmark here

"Ju… Just raise your head and stop doing something stupid like this! I was so happy to know that you're actually someone who makes the manga that I like that I just cried!"Bookmark here

"Ay, wait. She was actually happy?"Bookmark here

"But she was making a sad face just now," I whispered.Bookmark here

"Shush! You shut up, Potato!"Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"So that's why you cried earlier… But still, I am really sorry. Even after knowing how much you like this type of manga, I still hid it from you after doing this for nearly three years now."Bookmark here

"For three years… That's amazing, you know?!" unconsciously, she abruptly took both of Yuuga's hands in amazement. Although it was not long until she vigorously released after realizing what she did.Bookmark here

It was weird watching Yuuga after that. The only thing missing from that innocent and curious look is a question mark floating over his head.Bookmark here

"Ah! I nearly forgot! I swear I saw Potato-san and Ringo as clear as the midday sun."Bookmark here

"'Potato-san?' Wait, you'll be blind if you look at the sun!Bookmark here

Anyway, where did those two actually go to?"Bookmark here

Just before opening the door, a quick glance was enough to observe the entirety of his bedroom. There was another bookshelf, but with five rows brimming with various manga volumes. Beside that is a beefy printer where the scanner he talked about is probably there. Anything else is normal.Bookmark here

Thus, I opened the door and we went out.Bookmark here

"We hid in your room in the spur of the moment, sorry."Bookmark here

"At least you should've helped me out earlier…"Bookmark here

"So, Yuu? I never expected to see them here. What's up?"Bookmark here

"I'm… currently hiring them as my assistants for this month's release. My WIP a few days prior was abysmal but I made them help me when I was nearly out of it. I'm saved."Bookmark here

"Waaahhhh…! I so missed that hair so much!Bookmark here

And Gin's hair is not 'gin' anymore!"Bookmark here

Rin complained, "Mina, that sounded weird just now."Bookmark here

I thanked Minase for not calling me "Potato-san" consistently, and for the pun.Bookmark here

But somehow, we ended up having lunch with these two after momentarily setting aside work from the coffee table as we won't fit on the dining table. It was originally a table for two only, but there was somehow an extra chair.Bookmark here

"I really should ask before it gets too late. Since when did you move here, Mina?" asked Rin while munching a chunk of potato.Bookmark here

Mina by the way brought beef stew. I will however mourn for my potato comrades as I am doing an act of cannibalism.Bookmark here

"Now that Rin asked, you didn't mention that the second time you visited. Perhaps you moved after November?Bookmark here

I'm surprised that you got the meat this tender, though."Bookmark here

She happily nodded after ignoring my positive remark, "Yup. My family discussed it after the new year and I ended up living here by myself."Bookmark here

A thought came to Rin's mind and thus, she explained, "Ahh… that makes sense. Even if Mina's family is living in Sector 392, their house is still far from Wisteria while this apartment is actually closer even when we're at Sector T1."Bookmark here

"That's pretty much it, Ringo."Bookmark here

"I didn't know that you're also close to Gin, Mina."Bookmark here

"Jealous, Yuuga?"Bookmark here

I was a little surprised with what Yuuga said, and so I asked that.Bookmark here

"Will you laugh if I said that I am?"Bookmark here

"I will get jealous, though," Rin interposed.Bookmark here

"I don't see the reason why I would laugh."Bookmark here

Minase however was starting to look fidgety on the corner of my eye.Bookmark here

"Anyway, Potato! Be the judge! How's Mina's cooking?"Bookmark here

"Hmm… The vegetables are just cooked right and the beef is a nice treat. But you should have taken the measure to treat the meat more since there is the very slightly unpleasant aftertaste from the gaminess."Bookmark here

"Wha- I'm being criticized."Bookmark here

"It's still ways better than Yuuga's, though."Bookmark here

"That sounds so rude since you haven't even tasted my food, but that's pretty much right… Mina is better."Bookmark here

"Mina, I heard from Yuuga that you always bring lunch here at this time of the week?"Bookmark here

"Ahahaha, that's true. There's not much of a reason for that, though. It just happened."Bookmark here

"She said, but it's actually reasonable," that, I felt from what Minase just said.Bookmark here

But then she deliberately changed the topic, "By the way, are these two your first assistants?"Bookmark here

Nodded Yuuga with a fork in his mouth.Bookmark here

"Really? You've been doing this for three years… Did something happen to you?"Bookmark here

"Ah, well, this month and the next are quite hectic that's why I had to do a rush job so I can free up time on my schedule. After hiring these two, I'm finally getting some sleep."Bookmark here

"What? Don't tell me you're not getting any sleep, Yuu?!"Bookmark here

"Ahhh…" he avoided looking at Minase.Bookmark here

"Why does this look like a mom scolding her son?"Bookmark here

"That's a big no, Yuu!! You should go take some rest from time to time otherwise your energy will be much less than normal!Bookmark here

I… I don't want you dying early because of your job!"Bookmark here

"Y-Yes… I'll do that from now on…"Bookmark here

"Nope, I can't trust that! From now on, we should eat together three meals a day so I can check up on you!"Bookmark here

"H-Huh? What?!"Bookmark here

"Yuu, I'm serious! A lot of manga authors are getting sick these days because of working through their releases, and I just can't see you taking a rest just like that, you manga-loving idiot!"Bookmark here

"Wow. She does her research," I thought.Bookmark here

"That's why I'll have to regularly check on you everyday!"Bookmark here

"Understood… But let's avoid any compromises if there are any."Bookmark here

Rin suddenly let herself in the conversation and spoke.Bookmark here

"Well, Potato and I sometimes alternate with who make meals in a day since I mostly go to his house."Bookmark here

"Hmmm… That might actually work.Bookmark here

And may be a good reference material…" he whispered.Bookmark here

"Ohh… I guess that makes sense since you and Ane Yuna moved to Gin's house temporarily."Bookmark here

"Eh? W-What? That happened, Gin?!"Bookmark here

"One way or another, it did, Yuuga."Bookmark here

"Then it's decided! We'll be taking turns on meals every other day starting tomorrow!"Bookmark here

"Like I have anything to say… Alright."Bookmark here

Minase is actually smooth, huh. I bet she just wants to eat together with this guy everyday using that excuse. Being worried isn't out of the question either, as how I have seen Rin worry about me.Bookmark here

"I just realized, Potato…"Bookmark here

"What is it?"Bookmark here

"Girls are actually scary, huh?"Bookmark here

"You're also a girl and like you can talk!" I blatantly started in front of Yuuga and Minase, "But Minamina-chan sure is more of a wife than Rin."Bookmark here

Rin nodded in agreement, "Unless Potato is dying or any of my family is seriously ill… or if I actually become a wife!"Bookmark here

I gave her a sounding applause.Bookmark here

"W-Wait… so you two aren't married yet?" with a serious face, Yuuga joked.Bookmark here

"We get asked with that a lot, but get real, Yuu."Bookmark here

"Don't call me that, Gin."Bookmark here

"Wait, Ringo just said 'dying?'"Bookmark here

"J-J-Just h-hyperbolical, Mina…! Hahahahaha…!"Bookmark here

Shortly after, we finished lunch.Bookmark here

"I'll have to go back and get the pot cleaned and take a nap afterwards. I will just be in the way if I stay.Bookmark here

Ringo, Gin, please watch out for him."Bookmark here

"Got it, Mina."Bookmark here

Moments after the door shut, Yuuga let out a long sigh and laid down from where he is sitting at while palming his face with both of his hands.Bookmark here

"Yuuga, is that from stress or regret?"Bookmark here

"Regret, with an S. Hahh… I did it again…" he got back up with a forlorn expression. "Why can't I be honest to myself…?"Bookmark here

"Perhaps Yuuga…"Bookmark here

"Yes… I'm actually aware that Mina likes me…"Bookmark here

Both our eyes widened in surprise. Perhaps what Rin tried to say was if maybe Yuuga likes Minase, but it turns out that Yuuga is actually not unaware of Minase's feelings.Bookmark here

He continued.Bookmark here

"But I just can't seem to be honest with how I act when I'm with her. Even before I started as a mangaka, I already noticed that she has feelings for me. I've been friends with her for as long as I can remember, that's why I ended up still acting the same even with her feelings taken into consideration."Bookmark here

"Is something holding you back?"Bookmark here

"Myself. It's hard to find myself being honest about how Mina feels about me. Whenever I want to bring that up, I can't for some reason…"Bookmark here

"How did you actually realize her feelings anyway?"Bookmark here

"I know this doesn't sound serious at all… but she was acting like a heroine in a manga. But don't get me wrong! It still took me a long time to confirm it."Bookmark here

"I guess it's hard to underestimate a romance manga connoisseur… even I didn't realize it when I was still in Wisteria."Bookmark here

"You say that now, but it looks like even you are also looking at Minase, so to speak. I'll ask you this now if you don't mind.Bookmark here

Yuuga, do you also like her?"Bookmark here

He responded immediately, "That's a secret."Bookmark here

I sat silently with so many thoughts and discussed them with Kuro inside while Rin and Yuuga watched me do an obvious thinking pose. In a sense, I am actually talking to myself, but even with that fact, Kuro is still a complex entity that is a part of me.Bookmark here

Anyway, I began speaking up my fixed thought.Bookmark here

"I see. A secret…Bookmark here

So that means that your feelings with Minase are very complicated. It's like you're one more step to liking her, but you don't consider it in a romantic way. So you said it is a secret when in reality, you don't know how to answer that. But I guess you're happy with how things are?"Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Hahh… it's irritating how sharp you are when it comes to this…"Bookmark here

"Though, don't proclaim me as some all-knowing. Besides, you shouldn't underestimate a fellow romance manga connoisseur."Bookmark here

Rin regretted mentioning that earlier.Bookmark here

"Even I didn't know that I liked Rin earlier than my mind realized, but my heart did. I also suspected her feelings before we started dating, you know.Bookmark here

But with the way things are, what will you do if she confessed to you?"Bookmark here

"Way to put me on the spot…"Bookmark here

"Alright, then. Will you be okay if I tell you my honest opinion about your situation?"Bookmark here

"Go ahead."Bookmark here

"I can't say that you're running away from her feelings, but it looks like you haven't accepted Minase's affection towards you even after being aware of it. Perhaps you still consider her a friend, or a childhood friend amidst everything.Bookmark here

So now… let me be blunt. There is a certain element in your first shoujo manga that was taken for granted because of how good of a writer you are objectively. That element is the characters understanding one another. Perhaps, it is applied to Ryohei's character, but have you actually thought about it directly?"Bookmark here

His head lowered after his expression transitioned to a shocked one.Bookmark here

"I haven't… and I never thought of trying to understand Mina…"Bookmark here

"Maybe that's the reason why you can't be honest with Mina. Whatever it was that you always wanted to say, you probably know to yourself that you don't know what you should say next.Bookmark here

But at this point, I'll keep myself quiet and let you figure out something. There might be something needed to be said… like a possible point of view of the maiden in question. Of course I can't say anything about that, but maybe Rin have something."Bookmark here

"Wow, way to put me on the spot too.Bookmark here

But I won't beat around the bush. This is probably woman's intuition that's why you two didn't notice it, but Mina was feeling a little hurt earlier."Bookmark here

"…!"Bookmark here

"Women are terrifying creatures."Bookmark here

"Shut yer mouth for a sec, Potato."Bookmark here

Indeed, even I didn't notice it before Rin pointed it out. She looked so cheerful earlier that I didn't realize that it was a mask. However, I quickly got why she was hurt since I have seen Rin feel that way in a 'similar' situation. It is some sort of a complex that I have seen Rin suffer from, and cry because of it.Bookmark here

Rin therefore continued.Bookmark here

"Mina was worried about you, but I hope that you already realized it earlier when we were eating. I don't think a lot of people will react like how she did even with your circumstance. I know that she was hurt because I have already felt it—it was the feeling of not being able to do anything for someone you care for. She thinks she is useless when she realize that your health is at risk, but it was too late and she didn't manage to do something for you… and she regrets it."Bookmark here

"But if I may add… Women are strong in their own ways. Yuuga, as much as we have some things in common, Rin and Minase do have them too.Bookmark here

When they felt of being no use, they will try their best to bounce back and help us the next time. Look, she already declared that statement of you two always eating together from now on. She's already taking step towards that.Bookmark here

But honestly… it's hard to put a lover's perspective in your situation."Bookmark here

"Then Ringo… with what Gin had said, have you already made up with the time you weren't able to help him…?"Bookmark here

Rin smiled, "Yes, and I'm very happy that I was able to help Gin when he was dying."Bookmark here

"…! D-Dying…? You mean… Gin really…"Bookmark here

Why did I not stop Rin from saying that? Because she has her own way of thinking for herself and she has the freedom to do so.Bookmark here

"I wasn't there, and I wasn't able to help when Gin was suffering all by himself. There were… many times that Gin was put to many difficult spots, but from the last time it happened, I'm glad that I was able to help.Bookmark here

But in the end, I can't thank Gin enough. If it wasn't for him, I won't be able to do anything like that."Bookmark here

While in the middle of speaking, tears began to roll down her cheeks.Bookmark here

"Even when… I haven't met Gin… He already saved my life when we were still children. That's why… That's why I'm so happy that I was there to save his life this time…"Bookmark here

"Yes, Rin-chan. Everything is fine now," I attempted to calm her down while gently and continuously rubbing her head.Bookmark here

Yuuga looked in awe with a lot thoughts building up on his mind.Bookmark here

"Is this how Mina felt…? In the end, I was the one hurting her because I'm taking her feelings for granted… I wonder, will she feel happy even with those little things?"Bookmark here

"Say, Gin, Ringo… how does it feel to be together…?" he asked with his head still lowered and his hands tightly grasping on his knees.Bookmark here

"Hmm… About that, I think it's better if you talk to Hana and Fuuji after we leave."Bookmark here

"Is that so… I guess I still have many things to figure out.Bookmark here

Actually, I really won't mind if just possibly… we started a relationship even before this talk. But I'm worried because I know that my work will inevitably get in the way, and that my feelings are still very complicated."Bookmark here

He suddenly snickered and continued speaking, "But you got something slightly wrong, Gin."Bookmark here

"Hmm…"Bookmark here

"My definition may be very shallow… but I don't think of her as just a mere friend or childhood friend."Bookmark here

"Pff… Ahahahahaha…! So you actually crossed the friendship line and took a mere step to being more than just friends. Good for you, nonetheless."Bookmark here

"You sure are sharp as ever."Bookmark here

"But…! I think it's time for us to take our leave. As always, we'll be here with your call."Bookmark here

"Yeah, thanks a lot."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

On the night of the same day, the lights have brightly illuminated the apartment room in contrast to the darkness of the night. The air conditioner is once again turned on while Yuuga sits comfortably on a cushion as he leans back on the seat of the couch.Bookmark here

More than half of the pages of the month's issue has been cleaned up and quality checked by himself. Thus, he set aside the manuscript for now. Present on the coffee table are roughly drawn sketches of full body character designs.Bookmark here

"I originally planned Flower of the Unknown to be a short 18-chapter release since it's my first take on this demographic…"Bookmark here

"I guess I'll go take a very short break and do another serialization. Maybe a trigger character for the male or heroine's feelings is a good idea."Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"Achoo~!"Bookmark here

Gin was practicing digital sketches, while Rin was eating dinner at that time when they simultaneously sneezed.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

‹Yuuga›Bookmark here

Like how anyone would have expected, my agreement with Mina was put into action the very next day. Let's just ignore that we actually ate breakfast separately since the things that happened yesterday was so abrupt. But I have to say that I accomplished eight hours of sleep, thankfully.Bookmark here

It was the middle of the morning when I was making a color page for the current issue, and Mina suddenly started knocking on my door.Bookmark here

"Is she going to scold me…?"Bookmark here

Upon opening, I saw Mina standing in front of me dressed with outdoor clothes like as though she is about to go out.Bookmark here

"Going somewhere?"Bookmark here

"Haahh…?! What do you mean if I'm going somewhere? You do realize that I'm making meals today so of course I'm going somewhere to buy ingredients! Come on, help me do the shopping."Bookmark here

"Ah, huh? What?"Bookmark here

"I said shopping!"Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

This seriously passed through my mind. Of course, if you're basically doing this, there will be buying ingredients beforehand. And since we're eating together, it will be bad if we don't match preferences on food. The only problem is that I'm a little restless when I'm with her; after all that I said yesterday.Bookmark here

The apartment building that I'm currently looking out for in Sector T1 is so near to Sector 527, just like how close it is to Sector 392. I let Mina lead the way as to where we will be going and we somehow ended up in a market in Sector 527.Bookmark here

As we're about to enter the market that is still packed with people, I saw depressed, exhausted or happy faces of the majority of housewives, casual shoppers… and yakuza that looks like a househusband with a pink apron with bears? After entering, it was observable that the lines in three cashiers are still long. Though, I'm assuming that the line will be short after we finish up.Bookmark here

"Oh, Yuuga?"Bookmark here

Then I saw Gin in between the line. He looked at me first, then looked at Mina, and looked at me again, and looked at her anew. For the very last time he looked at me with wide eyes.Bookmark here

He pulled a fawning, yet smug smile. That's so irritating.Bookmark here

"Ah, Potato-san! You're shopping here too? Aren't your place a bit far from here?"Bookmark here

"Wait, you guys didn't know? The sale just ended."Bookmark here

"Wha-! I didn't know there was a sale."Bookmark here

"Hm. You two still have a lot to learn before conquering this battlefield. It sounds a little disrespectful to say that I won against the mothers, but it was all about strategy."Bookmark here

The woman behind Gin praised, "Fufu. You're a vigorous young man."Bookmark here

In the end, I realized that enemies in the 'battlefield' are your friends once already in the cashier counter. But imagine a 19 year-old winning over several veteran housewives in that battlefield… he's a pro.Bookmark here

On the side note, something caught the corner of my eye.Bookmark here

"Gin? I think I just saw Rena from your CA class."Bookmark here

"Ah, yep. That's her. We met after the sale ended."Bookmark here

"I see. Then we're going ahead."Bookmark here

"Right. Happy shopping."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

And here I am wondering why she bought a lot of flour… she can actually make pasta from scratch. Thus, the lunch is carbonara in her apartment.Bookmark here

I have to say, it was another good lunch.Bookmark here

"Since you're always tired once the day ends, I assume… I guess I should make something refreshing."Bookmark here

"Hey, think about dinner later once we're done eating our lunch."Bookmark here

"Ehhhh. But it's easier if I plan it in advance otherwise I'll be running like a headless chicken."Bookmark here

"…"Bookmark here

So she's really worrying about me… Even with these subtle things, I can feel that she's thinking of me while here I am being insensitive.Bookmark here

Is our dinner for later chicken?Bookmark here

"Say, why did you make the pasta from scratch?"Bookmark here

"I didn't think you would ask that… But it's just… I think… I want to make it special… just a bit…"Bookmark here

What am I even doing all this time? Am I seriously a successful writer, but failed to understand someone who cares for me? Do I even deserve to continue writing with these halfhearted thoughts?Bookmark here

"Ah, that's right! Yuu, since you're Yuki Amagami, then you'll also be in ManCon next month, right?"Bookmark here

"Yeah. That's why I was very busy before this day."Bookmark here

(!)Bookmark here

"Mina?"Bookmark here

"Hmm?"Bookmark here

"You know, I can get you a free pass if you want to."Bookmark here

"Really? Really?! I can go to ManCon?!"Bookmark here

"If you want to, you need to help me on my booth along with my editor as my condition."Bookmark here

"I can be in your booth?! Waaaahhhhh~! Thank you, Yuu…! What a dream come true!" and she suddenly hugged Yuuga out of that delight.Bookmark here

Do I really deserve to continue writing…?Bookmark here

I remember now.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Five months before our fourth year of high school ended…Bookmark here

"Hey, Yuu! Since you're a manga-loving idiot, surely you know that Yuki Amagami's fantasy manga is ending, right?"Bookmark here

"Don't call me that, Mina. But y-yeah, I've heard."Bookmark here

"Of course you have! I really hope Yuki will make my ship come true! If it doesn't happen with all of the flags, I'll definitely cry!"Bookmark here

"Ehhhh. Way to react on that."Bookmark here

"What do you mean…?! Even though the manga is fantasy-centric, Yuki is really good in the romance element! I'd say 100% that she's definitely suited for making shoujo manga! If she does make one, I definitely will still cry, but in happiness!"Bookmark here

"Hmmm…"Bookmark here

"Now that she said it, maybe I'll give it a try."

Chapter Message:Bookmark here

That concludes 046!Bookmark here

Welp, releases will continue on but one brain cell forgot to publish yesterday.Bookmark here

Thanks for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

047: We are convention noobs.Bookmark here

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