Chapter 7:

Inappropriate Timing

One Wish They Never Wanted

"Would this be an ideal moment to request a little something?" Quartz murmured, his voice having lowered in his bashfulness. "You've seen how she is, " he gestured at her snoozing body.

"A bed, right? That's what you want for you two to-?" This sent Takuma into another round of laughter, this time genuinely from mirth. It had only come back to him that these two fairies were, by all accounts, old enough to-

"Not for that!" Quartz fluttered up to the human's eye level and kicked him square on the nose. Takuma rubbed it for a second as the fairy continued, his face as red as a cranberry, "This request was only ever for her. It was never for me."

With a quizzical look, Takuma finally rose from his spot on the bed and, his face still plastered in a smirk, set about fulfilling the fairy's request.
Just as Takuma plucked a suitable box from the recyclable rubbish, his father - a poor sight due to his constant beads of forehead sweat and pig-like appearance that matched what Takuma used to be - stomped into view.

"Yuriko, who's this?" the man seethed, his gaze like a laser as he stared the bespectacled boy down.

Yuriko - Takuma's mother - peered into the room through the doorway and tutted. "It's your son, Masahiro. How did you not recognise him even though I told you he lost weight?"

Silently, Takuma's father turned away. (From the silence, it would have been safe to assume the man was too afraid to admit his mistake.) Takuma took this opportunity to scurry off back to his room.
The door slammed open, letting in the sunlight that was so foreign to Takuma's room. This was just as Takuma finished the small (single) bed, using unnecessary scraps of his clothing for the fabric parts. Ember, who was still sleeping, had been shuffled out of the way by Quartz.

"I'm sorry," Masahiro uttered under his breath, again not brave enough to meet his son's gaze. After heaving out a long sigh that seemed to take forever, the man took a seat on Takuma's bed, being careful to dodge all of the personal items scattered across the floor. "...I heard you got a job."

Takuma nodded silently, his brain on autopilot. He'd long learned to tune out to whatever his father was saying, because ultimately all of the "dad lectures" led to nothing. (His dad never followed the advice of his own lectures, no matter how useful said advice was, to put it in simple terms.)

"Do you know why I'm home?"

A shake of the head from Takuma.

"Don't become a workaholic like me. The doctor keeps threatening I'll overwork myself someday, and I don't want you following in my footsteps. However, don't be too lackadaisical, either. Money is not the whole world..."

With that, the rotund man left a creaking bed in his wake when he stepped out of the room, tiptoeing around the potential tripping hazards of Takuma's room.

Even though the air was still frigidly solemn, the boy knew, as soon as Quartz and a now-awake Ember poked their heads out from the pillars of books, that he was not to go down that path.

After all, now that Ember had intervened with his life, he had enough of a support system to prevent him from being the monstrous hypocrite his father was.

"I saw something in my dreams," the female fairy told the human when she took a seat on the edge of the table. She cocked her head to showcase a nostalgic smile to Takuma but otherwise she was completely still, her eyes glazed over. "I saw you at a fancy place full of humans, Takashiro. All the humans, including you, were dressed up - Amelie was in this really beautiful blue dress." Takuma was about to ignore Ember but then she continued, "Everyone was taking pictures and holding sheets of paper against the backdrop of a sea of little lights."

If they were taking pictures, it must have been an event they wanted to remember. If they were holding sheets of paper and dressed up, it must have been a formal event - the "sheets of paper" must have been certificates.

In short, that meant it was highly likely this was the valedictory Ember was describing.