Chapter 54:

053 – Road Trip Blues and the Mountains

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

June 19, Wednesday.Bookmark here

‹Rin›Bookmark here

I really should have expected in advance that the tables will be turning before I even closed my eyes last night.Bookmark here

Right now, the time is also around 6 o'clock in the morning. I am in the same situation as from the beginning of the chapter before this, but I hate myself for drooling on my pillow again.Bookmark here

I touched my head earlier before opening my window, and I felt seven bristles of hair standing against the majority of it. Upon pulling up my window, I took a comb and a hand mirror, and fixed my hair while sat on my bed facing the natural light. I had gotten a little annoyed that Gin hasn't gotten up yet at this time of all the days because of his anxiety of a possibility of constantly throwing up like a kid. But I do not know if Uncle Amano had the same situation at his age. Surely however, he was teased a lot by Eijiro at that time in different cases.Bookmark here

Annoyances aside, I had the thought that he might liven up after opening his window if he sees me- or the bedhead I left on top my head that looked like a cowlick. That idiot really has a hopeless taste in terms of someone's hair if it caught his attention. I however believed that I can take advantage of that stupidity just for this one time.Bookmark here

I suddenly got worried, not because of him not waking up, but because of the sun popping in and out from the clouds. I completely forgot what the forecast said last night.Bookmark here

"Yawn~ Morning, Rin…"Bookmark here

"Huh… You woke up on your own?"Bookmark here

"Haku's still sleeping."Bookmark here

"About him, isn’t he going to be shocked in a new environment?"Bookmark here

I asked, because Gin was permitted to bring Haku with him, as the inn allows animals in. Although, we don't even know how the inn we're going to stay at looks like. It was as though Tenth and Akira were doing a lot of omission in the meeting, thus, feeling like being left out in the dark.Bookmark here

"We'll see. I probably won't have any problems with a cat who knows what time and what he'll watch on TV."Bookmark here

"So he was the one that turned the TV on when I freaked out one time?"Bookmark here

"Yeah… He's really one heck of an intel-"Bookmark here

He suddenly stopped speaking and stared at me with his nonchalant eyes.Bookmark here

"What is it?" I deliberately tilted my head.Bookmark here

He assumed that I didn't see his face burning up to red and immediately covered his entire face with his hands. But even I was having a hard time trying not to react on that very uncharacteristic behavior of his. In the end, I smirked.Bookmark here

"Heh. Better morning, Potato."Bookmark here

"Why, Rin-chan… Why?"Bookmark here

I don't know if bashfulness can really fight off nausea.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

260, White St.Bookmark here

At the twenty-ninth minute of the sixth hour of the day, Ginji has begun blaming himself for the club likely to depart late because of him. Indeed, he just woke up, let alone still having no energy to get up from his bed.Bookmark here

"That dream again… Who is he…?"Bookmark here

There is however nothing for him to do apart from getting himself ready for the day as he had already packed his luggage for the three weeks of being away from home. But he realized the reasons of the somewhat mysterious gloom he is feeling inside him.Bookmark here

The schedule was to depart at seven, and he now only has half an hour to get ready and leave, although it is apparent that the remaining time is not enough. Even though not seen in his nonchalant face, he is looking forward for the trip, it quickly turned to be a downer realizing that he might hold back everyone. But the more important reason is because of a dream he had repeatedly seen in his slumber. Even he does not know why he is seeing a massive, gray box of an empty room makes him feel very sad. He continuously sees the back of a person engulfed in pitch-black silhouette looking back towards him, and the dream will be cut off. He had shared it with Shuri beforehand, but it did not take away the worries he had ever since he first saw the dream.Bookmark here

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He may be on a time pressure, but he can't afford to rush a sip of his coffee while eating nothing for this morning. He had thought that his head will surely spin while on the road, but as a heavy drinker… of coffee, it will just make him more nauseous if he doesn't get an amount of caffeine in a day. In the end, he also packed the only mug he had used every morning for six years.Bookmark here

While brushing his teeth after a cold shower, his father suddenly asked.Bookmark here

"You're with Gin for the trip, right?"Bookmark here

"So you know him? We still don't know what day in three weeks' time we'll be going home, though."Bookmark here

"We usually meet at the market when shopping. Can't believe a kid like him is already working and paying his own bills," he expressed his amazement.Bookmark here

"He's one heck of a man, yeah."Bookmark here

"So you fancy a girl named Yui, huh?"Bookmark here

"Bfft…!" he was thankful that it was not the coffee that he spat, but the toothpaste. But he missed the sink and *sparkles* stuck on the wall.Bookmark here

"He even said that to you?!"Bookmark here

"Well, he thought that I already knew. He was saying something about telling his dad about those things, and that it should be something similar to you.Bookmark here

But if I were to say, you two really are alike for some reason."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

That might be the case, but we're not similar in everything…!"Bookmark here

If you think that one can't angrily gargle, you might have to reconsider.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

He arrived at 7:15 in the end. A commute by tricycle from his house to the school already costed him 20 Laxes.Bookmark here

"I'm very sorry that I'm late…!"Bookmark here

"I think that's okay. I'm already imagining my stress if we left at seven sharp. Let's wait for a bit until rush hour dies down a little."Bookmark here

"Hey… morning, G… Ate anything?"Bookmark here

"Oh, wow… Gin… We really look alike…"Bookmark here

Gin and G looked like a wilted plant. Aside from them, everyone seems completely fine.Bookmark here

"Not that we think about it, you're not going to see Nana-sen for three weeks, Mato-sen!" there was no use of turning the opposite from Mato if he can already imagine the smug face on Shiro as she teased.Bookmark here

"Hahh… Don't remind me anymore…"Bookmark here

"Ugh…" Jean also got hit with the bullet.Bookmark here

"Oi, don't be too cocky, Jean," Yuuga teased.Bookmark here

Still having the weak will, Ginji grabbed Gin's shoulder and dragged him far enough to not be heard by the others.Bookmark here

"What's up, G?"Bookmark here

"Why did you even tell Dad about that…?"Bookmark here

Gin immediately caught on, "Eh… I thought he already knew at that time. It was my bad since I was referring to myself because I immediately told my dad that I liked Rin… Sorry, though."Bookmark here

"You're really a natural airhead… I don't remember telling you that I like Yui."Bookmark here

"Eh? So you don't?"Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

I'm getting there," he looked away and fidgeted.Bookmark here

"Wow. Your reaction is way more normal than mine. I'll give my regards for you to have a usual way of confessing."Bookmark here

"Oh? How did you confess to Ringo, anyway?"Bookmark here

"Uhhh… I told her about the accident and we cried at the same time…?"Bookmark here

"No, I wasn't talking about confessing the truth."Bookmark here

"That was just a prelude, and no way had I confessed when Anna was there. Stuff just happened fast that we kind of blurted it out."Bookmark here

"Hmm. I guess that's enough for now. I also have my own issues."Bookmark here

"And that issue is…?"Bookmark here

"I regret not talking to Yui a lot for the past two days."Bookmark here

"Heh. Now that honesty is also a coincidence."Bookmark here

Mato shouted, "Heeeyy. Students are starting to come so we better get going."Bookmark here

‹Rin›Bookmark here

Of course, Mato-sen was behind the wheel while Gin and I sat on the front passenger seat where I am in between the driver and Gin as he needs to be close to the window. That is indeed convenient for him but I'm kind of worried about being just below the wheel. It will be bumpy for him, surely. I then realized that it was pretty much the same case for G at the back.Bookmark here

I'm already expecting that we will have some stopovers on the way.Bookmark here

"By the way, Mato-sen. Who'll be your substitute in S2VA?"Bookmark here

"About that, I was surprised that Sir Juushiro easily allowed a friend of mine to be my substitute. His name is Alvin Maroon. You might have heard his name or not."Bookmark here

"I know him because he lives in the base…" I still refrained from speaking that up.Bookmark here

"Hey, Gin and Ginji. You're okay with aircon, right?"Bookmark here

"Yeah… just don't put an air freshener so early in the morning and I'll be a quiet boy…" G lamented.Bookmark here

Yuuga who is behind him lightly frowned in response, "Isn't it easier if you let them all out early?"Bookmark here

"I don't think s-"Bookmark here

Mato-sen stepped on the gas, "We're away~"Bookmark here

The two seemed fine on the first kilometer, though. I wonder if this will also apply to G, but Gin had mentioned that he is usually lightheaded on trips like this, and that emission of sparkles is just a worst case scenario. But I have observed that he closes his eyes from time to time, as though sleeping or just resting his eyes. I don't know if it has anything to do with his case as I haven't experienced it.Bookmark here

Actually… sparkles and stuff has been the only thing I'm talking about… Bookmark here

"Rin, can you hook up my music account to the center console?" he handed out his phone without even opening his eyes.Bookmark here

It was a fast process of syncing up his account. I've never really thought of it, but it sure is convenient to have a feature like that in automobiles without unnecessarily consuming power from the phone. I was a little surprised, however. He mostly plugs earphones on his ears in vehicles when he's not driving.Bookmark here

I expected Mato-sen to be grossed out of the playlist, but he took the liberty to choose a song as he scrolls on the touchscreen. He saw me through his peripheral vision while I look at him.Bookmark here

"It sure is nice if I can actually understand what in the world I'm listening to," he said and tapped a song.Bookmark here

"So you like Aim*r too, Mato-sen?"Bookmark here

"Who wouldn't like her voice? Am I right, Gin?"Bookmark here

"I'd ask her to sing on my wedding…" is what Potato replied.Bookmark here

Every one inside the van went quiet without implying anything by gesture. But Gin's arm that is supporting his right cheek fell and his head rested on the chair.Bookmark here

"…"Bookmark here

We went with it that he was just sleep-talking.Bookmark here

On the other hand, G has been retching dry.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

I hate to disrupt that cute sleeping face, but I had to wake Gin up.Bookmark here

"Potato, Potato. Potato, Potato!"Bookmark here

"Wow, you sound like you're doing a chant, Ringo," Mato-sen joked.Bookmark here

It has been a consistent fifty minutes of travel time on the road as we thankfully didn't hit any major traffic. It was some sort of a miracle that the sickly two weren't affected by the incline as we reached the first slope, which began the venture to the mountain roads. I have not went to Payns (extreme northern mountain ranges of Orio) for all my life, but the roads were as I expected. There wasn't any tunnel that we had passed by but having to see that we have gained a lot of altitude from below was a reassuring sight. We were moving as though flying when the sight from below the mountains is seen behind the blurs of the barriers.Bookmark here

"What is it…?" he finally responded.Bookmark here

"There's a resting place in about 5 minutes from here. Let's stop by and take a rest. My back's hurting already," Mato-sen, without looking, directed us to the satnav pointing out on a label in the map.Bookmark here

"Ohhh…" Gin then looked outside as he turned his head with his cheek getting squeezed on his neck pillow. He intended to look at G but decided not to turn his head vigorously as that one movement can apparently make him nauseous.Bookmark here

The resting place that Mato-sen was talking about is just beside the side of the mountain. There was a long railing just before the open view.Bookmark here

He immediately opened the door after the brakes halted the van and immediately walked towards the railings. Following behind him, I noticed that the condition of the sky hadn't changed. The clouds still scattered randomly, covering the blue sky, but the sun is still shining under where we stand.Bookmark here

Gin spread out his arms as his back stretched and took a breath deeper than a deep breath. Suddenly, a strong wind blew directly on him.Bookmark here

"I am one with the wind…"Bookmark here

"You're saying that again, Gin?!" Nagi shouted.Bookmark here

It was indeed amazing that us being on a mountain, the signal reception is very good, because Gin's phone started ringing as he still makes an embarrassing pose.Bookmark here

"Hello?"Bookmark here

"This is Gin Sakato, right?"Bookmark here

"Umm. Yes? That's me."Bookmark here

"Oh, good. I thought I called the wrong number. This is me, Kaizo Ryuuya. I had to change my phone number, so sorry."Bookmark here

"Huh? Kaizo, really? It's rare for you to call. Did something come up?"Bookmark here

"Yes. I just landed here in Orio, and thought that I should tell you about it."Bookmark here

"Wait, seriously? Are you going to handle a case?"Bookmark here

"That's right. I'm asking you because I don't know how to contact Principal Juushiro. Can you help me set up an enlistment to Blue Ink High?"Bookmark here

"Sure, I'll tell the principal about it. But once that's done, that will be all the help I can give you. I'm currently away and won't be in school for a while."Bookmark here

"Is that so. And here I thought I can greet you."Bookmark here

"Ahahaha. Sorry, we have a client work in the mountains of Cotona. We'll be staying in an inn for a few weeks since it's a big project."Bookmark here

"I see. I wish you well on you work…Bookmark here

Wait, you said mountains of Cotona, right?"Bookmark here

"Yeah. By the way, are you allowed to tell an ex-subject about the new one?"Bookmark here

"Nothing says I can't, and you now have an affiliation to Anew so that's fine. The subject is enlisted on… let's see… a second year in senior high."Bookmark here

"Okaaay… Just so we're clear, is the company now going to accept subjects that are not adults knowing that I'm the first case?"Bookmark here

"That's exactly the case for this one."Bookmark here

"Don't tell me… is the subject's name Rena Azuki?"Bookmark here

"Hmm? No, the name is Marcel Rodriguez in BM. But now that you mentioned the name Rena Azuki… she was in the list of potential subjects."Bookmark here

"She is…?"Bookmark here

"I just told you that. The cause of her being a candidate is because-"Bookmark here

"Hold you horses, Kaizo. Please let me research on it on my own."Bookmark here

"If that's what you want, then I'll respect your decision.Bookmark here

Ah, I see my pick up now. Let's talk later, Gin."Bookmark here

"Sure."Bookmark here

As Jean suddenly walked behind him, he whispered, "Was that Ryuuya-san?"Bookmark here

"Did something happen?" I followed up his question.Bookmark here

"Yeah. He said that there will be a new observation subject in Blue Ink. I guess it will be his first fieldwork.Bookmark here

Ah, I'll have to text him back about an official memo for Tenth. Just a sec."Bookmark here

We decided to end the conversation there while Potato fiddled on his phone.Bookmark here

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Ten minutes of just sitting around or watching the view passed, and Mato-sen called out.Bookmark here

"Hey, Gin! Do you think you can drive now?"Bookmark here

"Yep. I feel much better now after that rest. Let's all hop in now."Bookmark here

"You're driving longer than me, so be careful. Your back will surely hurt."Bookmark here

Oh, I thought Mato-sen was talking about safe driving. My mistake.Bookmark here

While once again passing by the mountain roads, Mori started a topic, as he can't relate to any songs that are being played on the system.Bookmark here

"Do you guys still do independent commissions outside the club?" he was however successful to initiate a short conversation.Bookmark here

The majority had answered that they do not, or they haven't thought about it. Yuuga was careful about his reply, but Potato had the most different answer, telling:Bookmark here

"I did… before the club began to start accepting clients, and then I used to sell prints online and ship them to those who bought a print. I guess that's how I made a living for my bills aside from working at Giotto's.Bookmark here

Oh, Mori. This is the first time you're hearing about this, right?"Bookmark here

"Ah… Yeah."Bookmark here

G added, "Basically, the portraits we were asked to do back in February for a wedding were actually directed to Gin's boss's wedding. I'm surprised that Gin never mentioned that even after all of that."Bookmark here

"I guess that's my bad."Bookmark here

"Why do you ask, though?" asked Yuuga.Bookmark here

"Well, it's nothing really special. I just think it's best to know your opinion about it before trying it out."Bookmark here

"Man, you guys sure are hard workers…" Mato-sen sighed, but followed up a question, "By the way, is it just me or did Yuuga bring a lot of things with him?"Bookmark here

The person in question jolted at the back.Bookmark here

"It wasn't just you, Mato-sen," Potato said as he smirked.Bookmark here

Nagi, before ultimately leaving from school had also noticed Yuuga's unusual carriage, and asked, "Did you also bring your display tablet? You're doing a lot more digital over analog, huh."Bookmark here

"Y-Yeah… I brought it with me. I figured that I'll rust off if I don't practice regularly…"Bookmark here

Or what Yuuga wanted to say was since he can't send physical copies of his releases, he will do his pages entirely digital. Another thing with being his manga assistant for a while, we picked up his style of coloring color pages digitally, and we asked if Gin and I can do official colored releases. His higher-ups and editor gave the nod, and we have been working for it. We were just doing it for the fun of it, but Yuuga and the publisher insisted for us to be paid.Bookmark here

I personally have realized that if one is to take arts for their career, versatility really is a necessity as an artist. Let's say for example that someone's forte is motion graphics, and animation can be applied to that too. But having limitations to your self is not very convenient to this world since life is hard. I guess one characteristic that I learned is to be opportunity seeking; why settle for being a motion designer when you can also learn 3D modeling and CGI? It may be a difficult action and it takes a whole lot of effort, but securing a stable job that is directly proportional to needs is a necessity. To whatever ethical means must we take something that we can actually grasp.Bookmark here

Rin, you sure you didn't get tired from that narration?Bookmark here

"Kuro is asking you, Rin."Bookmark here

"Totally fine. Hehe."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

We have successfully crossed one mountain and the road thus far is mostly flat roads. There is however a pleasant feeling as we pass the country road in between the plains of tall grass. While minding the wheel, Gin asked out of nowhere.Bookmark here

"By the way, can someone take a look on the enlistment of BM students for this year?"Bookmark here

"Why though?" Mato-sen who apparently only had mobile data with him swiped through the school website. What we did not know is that there are certain pages of the site that only the faculty and others from the board can access. And one of those is the online enrollment list. I have heard that the site was developed by Marco, so it is safe from trackers and data theft.Bookmark here

Potato replied, "I'm just a little curious."Bookmark here

"Oh, right. Marcus's twin is taking BM… I remember now…" said Jean on a weak voice.Bookmark here

"Wait, Jean… Marcus has a twin? More so, someone from the BM department? How did I not know that?" Gin was genuinely confused.Bookmark here

"That's because you only mind your own business, yet you still have great observation skills," Mato-sen retorted.Bookmark here

"As expected of a childhood friend.Bookmark here

What's his name, then?"Bookmark here

"So you don't even know his name, huh. As expected of Oreki. Anyway, the name is Marcel Rodriguez."Bookmark here

(!)Bookmark here

Suddenly, Potato slowed down on the straight road while no vehicles apart from us are seen on our front and back.Bookmark here

"What's going on…? Kaizo…"Bookmark here

"Potato…?"Bookmark here

"Ah…! Sorry I was about to space out just now. I'll be more careful."Bookmark here

"Jeez. Look on the road, not on the wheel," Mato-sen scolded.Bookmark here

"…"Bookmark here

"I guess I'll let Kuro do the thinking while I drive…"Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

"Ohhh. We're 500 meters away from the destination," I looked at the navigation.Bookmark here

"Oh, Gin. Our parking space for the meantime is the lot just beside the inn. We'll be dropping off there."Bookmark here

"Alright."Bookmark here

The mentioned parking space did not have any vehicles parked there apart from our van. I thought it was a given since this is June where schools and some colleges that do not start in August just begin at this point. I did not do a search about the inn, but the rooms are quite inexpensive from what I heard. I just doubt that there will be no customers even if it's not peak season. This business can't be letting us stay there exclusively just for us, more so we did not have anything to pay for our stay.Bookmark here

So, I am expecting it to be a rather simple inn, if anything.Bookmark here

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The words I just ate were really disgusting, but it had an extremely delicious aftertaste for some reason. Flying apples… I forgot northern Cotona has a bit of inactive volcanoes. And why…Bookmark here

Why does this remind me of our most comfortable times in Kyoto… This inn… This inn has…Bookmark here

*happily tears up*Bookmark here


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054: What the heck, this inn is amazing.Bookmark here

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