Chapter 2:

002 – Otsukare

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

April 2, 2018, Monday. 8:00AM JST.Bookmark here

For once, my morning eyes opened up in a very unusual sight. I have once again slept on the floor, the rays of the sun are on my face and the morning scent is very different from the one that I’m used to.Bookmark here

Now, it all comes down to my mind at once. It was not a dream, nor was it an April Fools prank.Bookmark here

I have finally become a small speck in the land mass of Japan, more specifically, in Kyoto.Bookmark here

At first, I thought I was in a different country when we landed here. Silly me, I am literally in a different country. It is not even marginally similar to Orio in terms of appearance.Bookmark here

And right now, by some circumstances of insanity, I get to live in a somewhat traditional Japanese house.Bookmark here

I am well satisfied with the room being used. Sliding doors, tatami floors and strangely…Bookmark here

It’s as if the futons moved on their own…Bookmark here

Oh, yeah. Everything finally sunk in to me. And how come Rin’s futon which was roughly a meter or two away from me is now distanced without even a single millimeter of space?Bookmark here

Truly, the circumstances of insanity.Bookmark here

“…-kun…”Bookmark here

And it does seem that Rin is sleep talking. She is probably having the dream of her life.Bookmark here

Wait… did she just say “-kun?”Bookmark here

“Gin…”Bookmark here

“What? Finally awake?”Bookmark here

“Gin-kun…!” she called as she reaches her hand everywhere like she is looking for something.Bookmark here

“Probably her phone.”Bookmark here

“Ain’t gonna lure me in with that –kun, okay?”Bookmark here

She continues to move her arm until she got a feel of something. And that something is my right arm pinned on the futon that is keeping my upper body lifted.Bookmark here

“Found you… Gin-kun…!”Bookmark here

“Wha-? Oi, Rin?!”Bookmark here

She strongly gripped and pulled my wrist which made me fall on my back.Bookmark here

“Ehehe…” as though she was looking at me with her eyes still closed, she smiled sweetly.Bookmark here

Oi, she actually looks so happy about this situation. What the heck.Bookmark here

With that, I have completely ascertained that she is having a dream, sleep talking, and drooling on her face and pillow, all at the same time.Bookmark here

“Ahh… Gin-kun we’re in Japan… why don’t we go on a date together some time…? You know…? We both like… each other… so there’s no problem with th… that, right…?”Bookmark here

“This one’s sure a talkative sleep-talker, ain’t she?!”Bookmark here

Screw it. Set aside what I said earlier. She sounds drunk even though there’s no way that’s going to happen.Bookmark here

“Ahh, geez… I know you’re half-asleep but…Bookmark here

I’ll be sure to make way for us to go out at some point in our stay here.”Bookmark here

“…Bookmark here

Awawawa… Hahh…”Bookmark here

Kawaii…Bookmark here

Bookmark here

She’s been quiet for a bit and her happy expression seems to have died down and at last, she finally woke up.Bookmark here

“Ah… Good morning…”Bookmark here

“Morning.”Bookmark here

“What’s the time, Gin…?”Bookmark here

“Hmm… It’s around 8 now if it’s based on the time here. It’d be 7 at home.”Bookmark here

“Were you awake for long?”Bookmark here

“Ah, I just wake up a couple of minutes. I was about to get up but I went back.Bookmark here

Well, I hope you’re aware that you’re currently clinging on my arm.”Bookmark here

It took her a bit of time to realize but she immediately released my arm after that. Though, I’m surprised that she’s not that bothered by it and got to stay composed.Bookmark here

Way to go, girlfriend.Bookmark here

“W-Was I having a dream earlier…?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, you sure are having a great dream. You were even talking about stuff. If you ever want to know what things you said earlier, I’ll have to save that up later because there’s a possibility that you might spit on my face while brushing your teeth or choke while we eat our breakfast.”Bookmark here

“Ahh… I did something stupid, didn’t I?Bookmark here

Anyways, sorry for moving my futon. I was a bit uneasy and I’m not really used to sleeping in an unelevated bed.”Bookmark here

“Nah, it’s okay. Besides, we were just surprised last night when we got home.Bookmark here

We should get up and go to work, Rin-chan.”Bookmark here

“…?”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“Ahh… That was a nice morning bath… I feel so lighter…”Bookmark here

“You’re also done, Gin?”Bookmark here

“Thank goodness they have toothbrush here.”Bookmark here

“To think that we even argued if we should bring ours or not. We’re seriously pathetic.”Bookmark here

“Hahahaha… You know that applies to you as well right?”Bookmark here

“Ahahaha… You’re definitely right.”Bookmark here

We have pretty much prepared for the day and there is really nothing much to do aside from eating breakfast.Bookmark here

But what we are slightly bothered is that this is not my house and I don’t know what to expect once we go to the main room.Bookmark here

Thankfully, our worries were a lot shallower than we expected.Bookmark here

“You’re finally up, Sakato-san and Akanami-san.”Bookmark here

What landed in our sight is the caretaker of the house, Kamichi Yuzuri-san, setting up the table. She eventually noticed us and gave a somewhat motherly smile to us.Bookmark here

Although I’m quite certain that she’s just in her 20’s.Bookmark here

And well, she really has a housewife vibe with the yukata and homely feel. Although I believe I won't see this a lot.Bookmark here

And allow me to break the fourth wall for a sec, it took the author years to realize that the naming order he was using when we're in Japan is reversed.Bookmark here

“Good morning, Kamichi-san. Did you prepare breakfast for us?”Bookmark here

“Yes, Sakato-san. You are both going to work early, right? The two of you should fill your stomach before heading out.”Bookmark here

We both thought that it was somehow unfair, considering that we just crashed into this place. We’re guests and all, but we can’t just do anything around here. But we are grateful for this.Bookmark here

“Thank you very much. We sincerely appreciate it,” we both lowered our head naturally.Bookmark here

“It’s nothing really. Please have your seats.”Bookmark here

It may be very unusual for us to do this because of culture differences but their hospitality is very heartwarming.Bookmark here

“Kamichi-san. If you haven’t eaten yet, do you want to have breakfast with us? It is kind of lonely if it is just Gin and I. We would also love to hear things in this country if it is not a bother to you.”Bookmark here

It seems that Kamichi-san was delighted with Rin’s proposal based on her brightened expression.Bookmark here

“It won’t be a bother at all, Akanami-san.”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“Itadakimasu~”Bookmark here

“Ara~ You two are quite good in using chopsticks.”Bookmark here

“Oh, you noticed? We have been studying the culture of this country for quite a while now with our friends back in the South. We got a bit hooked on it so we somehow learned to at least do basic things.”Bookmark here

“I was actually surprised to discover that a lot of people here are knowledgeable with our native language and made use of it just like you, Kamichi-san.”Bookmark here

“About that, Ringo-san… The people around here in Kyoto seem to be interested with the South’s language and some studied them.”Bookmark here

“Oh, that makes a lot of sense.Bookmark here

To tell the truth, we came sort of prepared and studied a few on our own. We are at least capable of communicating, but we did not have the time to learn writing. I was actually challenged to be able to understand the note you left last night. Thankfully, I managed to read it.”Bookmark here

“Ohh… I guess it’s the same for us since I have no ability to write on your language. Thankfully, I can do some English.”Bookmark here

“Ahahaha… If only our bilingual system started from Nihongo as our second language…”Bookmark here

“But Gin, does this mean we are somehow multilingual?”Bookmark here

“Ohhh~ I guess you’re right.”Bookmark here

If I will learn how to write it, then that makes it English, and our mother tongue.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

With everything in our place done, we are now about to leave for work at the restaurant.Bookmark here

“Thank you very much for the food, Kamichi-san. It was really delightful to be able to eat dishes here.Bookmark here

We’ll be off now.”Bookmark here

“Please take care, you two. I will prepare bento for you two next time.”Bookmark here

"Okā-san…" our thoughts connected.Bookmark here

This time once again, we were fetched by Driver-san to the restaurant. This will be the last time he will be driving for us since he has his own duties at work. But while we’re on the way, he showed us the possible way of commuting and the train station which is actually quite near to our place.Bookmark here

It is another day of work once again.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

“Before we start the meeting, I’d like to point out something that we forgot something yesterday due to the fact that we went straight to work. It was our bad to not introduce our team from the South,” Sean led the assembly.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“My name is Gin Sakato and it might be surprising but I am currently the sous chef of Giotto’s main branch at my age. Let’s all work together for a great start.”Bookmark here

“I am Jean Ando. I’m here in Japan for my apprenticeship which was suggested by Gin who trained me in my start of culinary path. I will do my best to keep up with all of you and not be a hindrance.”Bookmark here

“My name is Ringo Akanami. I’m currently undergoing training as part of my culinary course and I want to make my experiences broader. I will be in your care starting today.”Bookmark here

And so, the others from our crew introduced themselves to the current employees of the North’s branch.Bookmark here

“Now that it’s all done, Sean will now tell us the agenda for today.”Bookmark here

“Alright. First of all, the application and interviews will be later at 10. It will be held at the office and the interviewers and observers will be me together with the head chef and sous chef of the main branch; and the head chef of this branch.Bookmark here

If anyone has an objection, we can have it discussed right now.”Bookmark here

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“If there are no objections, let us move on.Bookmark here

There are still small things that we still need to take care of. If you’re available at the times when the applicants arrive, please guide them to the office.Bookmark here

We will also have to organize the ingredients and supplies that are going to be here later. That should be prioritized since it will be the whole supply for the soft opening.Bookmark here

Lastly, we will all have a meeting later to fill out the menu we currently have. All of your suggestions will be much appreciated.Bookmark here

With that being said, let’s all have a productive day!”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Almost an hour passed and it is seen that people are coming to the front of the building. By the looks of it, there are adults and probably those at teenage years. That is to be expected now that it was said that this branch is accepting full timers and part timers.Bookmark here

Our table is finally ready for interviewing.Bookmark here

(Note: The ** symbol tells that the characters are speaking in Japanese.)Bookmark here

Since Hiro and Sean came unprepared, they planned to either let the heads of the North branch do the interviewing or have their words be translated.Bookmark here

Little do they know that I crammed every single thing I can about North’s language in that one week.Bookmark here

“**First applicant, you may enter the room now.”Bookmark here

“Huh?! Gin?! You… You can…?!”Bookmark here

“I at least learned how to speak, but I can’t write kanji. It’s still way too complicated for my brain to handle.”Bookmark here

“I’m astonished… but let’s focus with the applicants first.”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

As I am still inexperienced, I felt that it is just right for me not to talk too much. I may be a sous chef, but I have the least experience in how adults handle this kind of things.Bookmark here

“**Your name is Shimizu Akihiro-san… 24…Bookmark here

**Shimizu-san, when did you graduate from your culinary course?” Japan branch head chef went and asked.Bookmark here

“**I graduated from college at 22.”Bookmark here

“**Based on your resume, you had your first work experience in another restaurant as a waiter but you resigned after nine months…”Bookmark here

“**Yes. I took on that job to support my living expenses. I resigned due to the reason that I have finally stabilized so I took a break for a few months.Bookmark here

**Afterwards, I started looking for jobs again and found out of this restaurant. I was told that Giotto’s originated from the South. I figured that this will be a great opportunity to improve my abilities and learn as I work.”Bookmark here

“Hiro, look at this. He may have once worked as a waiter but he emphasized his expertise at Japanese cuisine.”Bookmark here

“Oh, yeah. Now that you point that out, he has an outstanding assessment in this particular assignment.”Bookmark here

“Gin, have a quick read in the printout.”Bookmark here

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“I see… We can have specific divisions for the original menu and the new menu for this branch. What do you think, you guys?”Bookmark here

“Hmm… That does sound like a good idea,” nodded Hiro.Bookmark here

“Divisions, you say… but it surely will still be a team effort once we get down to business, right?”Bookmark here

“What a broad idea…”Bookmark here

“Gin, do you have anything to ask him?”Bookmark here

“Hmm… You say that, Sean but… Ah, I have one.”Bookmark here

“Go ahead.”Bookmark here

“Alright…Bookmark here

**Shimizu-san, in your history in your first work experience, were there situations where you’re needed in the kitchen?”Bookmark here

“**There are several times that it happened. I was a reserve or substitute cook whenever the kitchen was in need of assistance.”Bookmark here

“**Why is a kid an interviewer, I wonder…” Shimizu asked himself.Bookmark here

“That’s all I have to ask.”Bookmark here

“**Okay… It was a tradition in the main branch to be evaluated with a trial, but we can’t do that yet since we are short in time.Bookmark here

**I assume you have heard that tomorrow will be the start of the one-week soft opening of this restaurant. It’s just been decided by Katsuto-san and Hickory-san to have you as cook to be evaluated for the week, and we will decide if you will be accepted. Please do not worry about this decision for the reason that this will all be applied to the other applicants.Bookmark here

**Shimizu Akihiro-san, is it possible for you to start work tomorrow at the opening?”Bookmark here

“**Yes, I definitely can,” he answered with a smile on his face.Bookmark here

“**We hope to be working with you from tomorrow onwards.”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“**Next applicant, please.”Bookmark here

Or should I say, “applicants.” Two women entered the office. At an initial observation, it seems that one is a college student and the other one is probably at my age… No, Rin's age. They seem to have resemblance in their facial structure which got me to assume that they are siblings.Bookmark here

“**My name is Hikari Haru and this is my younger sister, Hikari Ai.”Bookmark here

“**So, Hikari-san… I mean, Haru-san is a college student at the age of 19, and Ai-san is 15. Is Ai-san a first year in high school?” I asked first to continually do my observation.Bookmark here

“**Technically, she is. But due to some circumstances, we are not attending school right now.Bookmark here

**We are only working part-time here and we had our parent’s consent here for my sister.”Bookmark here

“**Hmm… I guess it’s alright since a written consent is presented. This means that we are in agreement of the implications and our terms. May we know the reason for you to be applying?”Bookmark here

“**My older sister just stated that we are not attending school this spring. She is applying for this work because of the expenses for her college once we start school. She is also acting as my guardian.Bookmark here

**My reason on the other hand is that we are moving out next month and to at least help my family financially in our current situation.”Bookmark here

“My… People around that age have started to think like that, huh.”Bookmark here

The interview did not take long and the siblings were accepted without problems.Bookmark here

“**I hope the duration of your stay will be meaningful to you. We ask you to return here at around 2pm for the meeting.”Bookmark here

“**We will be there. Thank you very much,” they bowed in gratitude and left.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

All of the interviews have concluded and we continued to do our work before the clock points at 2:00. All in all, six people were hired—four people aiming to work for full time, and the other two working for part-time.Bookmark here

Sadly, four applications were declined.Bookmark here

“Hey~ everyone, I have sushi here!” someone from the Japan team invited.Bookmark here

“Gee, thanks.”Bookmark here

“Rin~! We have a break now.”Bookmark here

“Just a sec.”Bookmark here

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“Oh, wow… This is some great sushi…”Bookmark here

“Did you put wasabi on yours, Gin?”Bookmark here

“I think it will taste great, either way…Bookmark here

Rin, what’s the date again?”Bookmark here

“April 2.”Bookmark here

“Ahh, yes, yes… It was already on my mind this morning but I got a bit absorbed at work.”Bookmark here

“…?”Bookmark here

“Too bad, I can’t visit my grandfather today. This is actually the day he passed away, and it has been eight years, since then.”Bookmark here

“Your grandfather…? Oh, I think I saw a picture of you with him. You weren’t even smiling in the picture.”Bookmark here

“That’s because I was seven that time. You know, I’ve already been jammed in the head at that time.”Bookmark here

“That makes sense.”Bookmark here

“…Bookmark here

How I wish I could spend more time with Grandpa Kinrou if he was still alive right now.”Bookmark here

“You really love your grandfather, huh?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s also thanks to him that I am who I am right now.”Bookmark here

“You’re being emotional again, Gin,” she said while leaning her head on my shoulder.Bookmark here

“Oi, we’re at work. No workplace romance allowed."Bookmark here

People then came near the window of the restaurant but I immediately noticed who they were Bookmark here

"Ah, Jean. Let them in. They will be attending the meeting. Alright, guys! Break’s over. Meeting will start soon.”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

The meeting started and all of the introductions were given to each other. Now that the whole team of the South branch is complete with our exclusion, the first official meeting for Giotto’s Japanese branch started.Bookmark here

“Now I realized how hard this would be because of language barrier…” Sean mumbled while scratching his head in front of everyone.Bookmark here

Thankfully, the head chef stood to assist in discussing things.Bookmark here

“**First, we will take suggestions as to how we will regulate our menu. We still have some slots to fill so raise your hand if you have one.”Bookmark here

The head chef is definitely doing a challenging job of interpreting what he said to ease up the flow of communication. I can understand them both, anyways.Bookmark here

“**Since this is an Italian-Japanese-Orion restaurant, should we add a type of pizza?” an employee raised his hand and suggested.Bookmark here

“We’ve been wondering about that even before coming here…Bookmark here

Ito-san (head chef), can you ask them if pizza is popular in the demographic here?”Bookmark here

“**Katsuto-san is asking if…”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“**It is observable that it is quite popular specifically in our vicinity.”Bookmark here

“**I once had work where we conducted a survey nearby. It was a few years ago, but people here like a Japanese pizzeria around here.”Bookmark here

“Hmm… It’s good that we have data…Bookmark here

Any words, Gin?”Bookmark here

“Let’s see…Bookmark here

**Uhm… do you have any suggestion as to what type of pizza we should serve?”Bookmark here

“**I was thinking of a variant of plain and simple mozzarella pizza and one with literally a topping of cheese only.Bookmark here

**For some reason, those plain dishes are a hit.”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“**Thank you for that suggestion. We will take note of it.”Bookmark here

“**Then I will go next.”Bookmark here

“Oh, you also have a suggestion, Gin? Let us hear.”Bookmark here

“Vicol Express.”Bookmark here

“I didn’t expect that… But Gin, don’t you think Vicol Express is a dish for a fair quantity?”Bookmark here

“**Oh, it’s my bad for not explaining. Vicol Express is a kind of dish that is a regular dish in the hotter regions of Orio. It is well known for how spicy it is because of how you can use different kinds of hot peppers as its ingredient along with pork and the main ingredient which is the coconut milk.Bookmark here

**Even though it is a spicy dish, it is most commonly served in province with volcanic formation. We may have differences in culture and taste, but I hope that this dish works well with the summer heat.Bookmark here

As for the serving in fair quantities, I came prepared, Hiro.”Bookmark here

“Hahaha… As expected from you.”Bookmark here

“I have worked around a restaurant style of making it. It’s honestly better to be demonstrated but we can’t right now.”Bookmark here

“If I may add, I’ve been present in all of his testing and I somehow managed to learn the recipe of it by watching,” Rin briefly added.Bookmark here

“Is that so… we have a witness, so it’s noted.”Bookmark here

With a few more suggestions, we have gotten everyone’s opinions and there is only one more slot to be filled in the menu out of the five we needed.Bookmark here

“**For the last place of the menu, please raise your hands if you agree in adding ramen.” Ito-san translated Hiro's suggestion.Bookmark here

Surprisingly, they all raised their hands. Aside from the discussion of how it will be implemented, the menu is finally completed.Bookmark here

“**Let’s see... We are very much lacking in spicy dishes, and for this last one, we want to stay true to what we are lacking.”Bookmark here

Incidentally, the first fall of winter struck my head.Bookmark here

“**A Mala Ramen!” I unconsciously shouted as I excitingly stood up from my seat.Bookmark here

“**Ma… la…?”Bookmark here

“**Ah! You mean that Mala, Sakato-san?” a worker brightened up.Bookmark here

“**Yes, indeed. It was still fresh in my memory since that was my first meal in the first winter in Orio. It is not really that complicated to make aside from the application of spices is a bit of a challenge.Bookmark here

**But it was spicy enough to make my lips swell literally. I should probably tone down my recipe.”Bookmark here

Almost all of them broke out of laughter after hearing my shallow story but they agreed to have that as part of the menu.Bookmark here

“**Umm… If I may add, is it possible if we make some of our dishes to be a ‘special of the day’ dish? If we do this, there is a possibility to use our inventory more wisely and we might attract different customers in those days where we do that.”Bookmark here

“…!Bookmark here

That is absolutely a great idea, Haru-san!” just like what I just did, Sean sprung up.Bookmark here

“Umm… Sean. You do realize that she can’t understand you with that, right?”Bookmark here

“Can you please not be a killjoy, Gin? She probably understood it with how I delivered the message.”Bookmark here

At least, she comprehended that her idea made Sean excited.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“**And with that, the meeting is over!”Bookmark here

We finished the meeting earlier than we expected due to how it went so well.Bookmark here

“All of us chefs will be in the kitchen so we can have the menu evaluated for the opening tomorrow.Bookmark here

The minors, including the part-timers will be dismissed for today. You should all take a rest to be ready for tomorrow. Also, we can’t have our sous chef be sluggish in the first day.”Bookmark here

“Ahahaha… You got it, Hiro. We’ll be off.Bookmark here

**Alright, then. Ai-san, Haru-san… Boss dismissed us early so we can all go now.Bookmark here

Yo, Jean. Are you good to leave now?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah. Let’s go.”Bookmark here

“**Sakato-san, are you also going to the station?”Bookmark here

“**Yes, Ai-san. If we are all going to the same direction, we can accompany both of you.”Bookmark here

“**Then we will also keep you company. Thank you very much.”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

It is just about to be 5 in the afternoon and it’s still quite bright. While we are all making our way to the station, we used the opportunity to have a chat.Bookmark here

“**Sakato-san, may I ask what is your age?” the elder Hikari asked somewhat suspiciously.Bookmark here

“**Ahahahaha… I guess Haru-san definitely got curious when she saw an interviewer like me.Bookmark here

**I’m actually just turning 19 this year. Which means I am younger, Haru-san.”Bookmark here

“**Oh? That’s quite surprising!”Bookmark here

“**Well, I’m currently the sous chef of the main branch ever since September last year.Bookmark here

**Jean here is actually my trainee and I used this opportunity to let him have his apprenticeship in a different environment. And then Rin already had an experience in cooking for a while and she wants to polish it up more.Bookmark here

**It’s quite the situation to be in, knowing that we are all classmates.”Bookmark here

“**Classmates…?”Bookmark here

The statement was caught vaguely.Bookmark here

“**If I compare it to your school system, we are about to become second year in high school in June. But in reality, we are soon to be first years in senior high school. I guess our age is around 16.”Bookmark here

“**Ah-?! So… so Sakato-san… you are a se…Bookmark here

**We’ll be in your care from now own, Sakato-senpai…!” Ai lowered her head.Bookmark here

It was not a statement of embarrassment, but more on confusion. I was way more surprised than I should have when everything that Ai-san said sucked right in my sense of hearing.Bookmark here

“**Uhh… Wha- Ehh… Umm… Me…?Bookmark here

**S-Senpai…? Huh…?”Bookmark here

“**Yes. It also applies to Akanami-senpai and…Bookmark here

**Umm… Ando-san…”Bookmark here

“Ugh…! Why not me?!”Bookmark here

“That’s probably because you don’t look like a senpai at all, Jean.”Bookmark here

“Like you can talk, Gin!”Bookmark here

“**Well, never mind him. It was really an unusual time for you to be moving out from here. What made your family move, Haru-san? That is, if I am not prying.”Bookmark here

“**It is for the reason that we really need a change of environment. It was difficult to find a specific place these times, but we made the decision as a family and came to what we think is the best choice we have.Bookmark here

**Even though we are not starting school around this time, it won’t really be bothersome since we have our next academic year to be sorted out later in the line.”Bookmark here

“**It seems that your family prepared for it, huh. That is nice.”Bookmark here

“Gin, it seems we’re here at the station.”Bookmark here

“Oh, we sure are.Bookmark here

**Well then, Haru-san, Ai-san. See you two tomorrow at work.”Bookmark here

“**The same goes for the three of you.”Bookmark here

“**Have a good rest,” the sisters replied as they bowed their heads to us.Bookmark here

The three of us took our trains and while we are inside, I finally had the chance to ask about what I have noticed for a bit of time now.Bookmark here

“Say, Jean. I was wondering why you brought that big of a bag even though we are just in the resto. Don’t tell me you even brought a change of clothes.”Bookmark here

“Well, yeah, I did bring some clothes just in case what I’m wearing right now might get dirty. There’s not a need for that today, though.”Bookmark here

“Nah. I say that’s good timing?”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

“Do you really think we waited for you just to go home together? We were originally going to invite you to the place we’re currently staying at to hang out a bit.Bookmark here

I even told Kamichi-san about you coming with us. But I’m sorry, we can’t have you stay the night (for obvious reasons).”Bookmark here

“If you’ve already done that, I can’t decline, Gin. I can probably stay until dinner then I’ll head out. Your place isn’t really far off to our place, right?”Bookmark here

“It probably isn’t that far. If we’re talking about Gin, it will probably take him twenty steps.”Bookmark here

“Huh?” Jean titled his head in confusion.Bookmark here

“Hey, Rin. Was that a joke?”Bookmark here

“Of course not. I’m simply stating the fact.”Bookmark here

“Huuuuh?!” he stepped back.Bookmark here

“Now, Jean. Don’t tell anyone about this, okay? My current fastest time on foot from my house to the school is 14 seconds.Bookmark here

Who knows, I may be faster than that now. It’s been months since then, and it was in the middle of the night so I’m a bit weak at that time?” I whispered lengthily.Bookmark here

“Seriously?! Why is this the first time I'm hearing that?!”Bookmark here

“That’s because no one really saw it. Tenth actually timed me so I still don’t trust the record.”Bookmark here

“Man, you’re insane…Bookmark here

Anyways, why invite me today?”Bookmark here

“You’ll soon know.Bookmark here

It will be the opening tomorrow so we might as well take the time to relax for a bit. Consider this the calm before the storm.”Bookmark here

“I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, Jean.”Bookmark here

“O-Okay…?” he was not used to Rin keeping her in the dark.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“Oi, Jean. Where’re you looking at? We’re here.”Bookmark here

“Umm… Tell me you’re joking…?”Bookmark here

“Not today, sir. That face you’re making right now is the same as mine yesterday.”Bookmark here

“Kamichi-san~! We’re back.”Bookmark here

“Welcome home, you two.Bookmark here

Ara~ Is he Jin-san?”Bookmark here

“Uhh… Who’s Jin-san?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Gin, she’s talking about Jean.”Bookmark here

“Ah! Oh, yes. Kamichi-san, this is Jean Ando. A co-worker, a classmate, a friend, and my student.Bookmark here

Shucks, I’ll admit ‘Jin’ actually suits you well, Jean.”Bookmark here

“Huh… W-Wait, are we changing my name now?”Bookmark here

“Well, you’re a guest so please come in. You could just leave your shoes there once you enter.”Bookmark here

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Kamichi-san once again prepared dinner for all of us while we are figuring out how to play Japanese chess in the living room.Bookmark here

The place has some similarities with my house back home aside from the style and aesthetics of the entirety of the interior and exterior. The kitchen, dining room and the living room are all concentrated together in one big room giving enough space for us to move freely.Bookmark here

This place is more than enough to immerse yourself and be convinced that you are really in Japan.Bookmark here

“Dinner is ready.”Bookmark here

“Yes. We’re coming, Kamichi-san.”Bookmark here

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“Seiza, huh… Tough challenge…”Bookmark here

“We’re all in the same boat, Jean. Rin and I had practiced for a week but our legs either gave in or fell asleep.”Bookmark here

“Ahahaha… you’ll be used to it soon enough.”Bookmark here

“Well then…Bookmark here

Itadakimasu~!”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“Thanks for the food~”Bookmark here

“Wow… That was seriously great. I don’t think I can reproduce something like that with my current skill even if I apply Gin’s lessons…”Bookmark here

“Hahaha… I get what you mean. I’ve been improvising my Japanese cooking up until today. I’d love it if Kamichi-san can teach me a thing or two.”Bookmark here

“Hmm… I guess I can, from time to time.Bookmark here

To tell you a story, I was a chef in a luxury hotel in Tokyo before I became the caretaker of this place.”Bookmark here

“A luxury hotel…? No wonder I can get a taste of some excellent preparation even from a typical Japanese dinner…”Bookmark here

“It was because of a certain chef that inspired me to do this. He had cooking documentaries from way back in time and I would always hear him say: ‘Giving effort even in the simplest things can make the simple be something that can become beautiful.’Bookmark here

Whenever I hear that from when I was a child, it always reminded me of being humble with everything I give to others.”Bookmark here

“'Giving effort even in the simplest things can make the simple be something that can become beautiful.'”Bookmark here

Those words are as if a trance itself that took me back in the void I was once at. I was truly lost in thought and my mind continuously sought for the voices that suddenly revolved in my memories.Bookmark here

“No way… This is the first time I saw you…Bookmark here

Gin, are you crying…?”Bookmark here

“Ah. Am I, Jean?” I wiped my eyes with my hands and realized that I was in tears. “C-Can I have a tissue? Man, this is embarrassing for me to be tearing up out of the blue.”Bookmark here

“Gin-san, is something the matter?”Bookmark here

“I didn’t realize that I’m already in tears. Hahaha… I suddenly recalled some things after you said those words, Kamichi-san. They feel so familiar and I am sure I heard that already from someone.Bookmark here

But I do know that the meaning of 'beautiful' was not superficial, but rather deep.Bookmark here

May I ask what could he be doing right now?”Bookmark here

“That… I don’t actually know.Bookmark here

When I wasn’t born yet, he suddenly left the country after an incident that happened around him. That was the last thing the culinary community had heard about him. For some reason, he went missing from the culinary realm.Bookmark here

That is, from what I have heard.”Bookmark here

“Oh… I see. But who knows? He’s probably living somewhere in the world and maybe, he is still cooking.Bookmark here

If his words made me tear up, I bet he’s a very amazing chef.”Bookmark here

Unusually, I am smiling very differently. For some reason, I became full of positivity and my heart filled with joy.Bookmark here

There’s that, but in the midst of the relief I now feel, there is somehow a hint of sadness deep within myself.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“Ahhh… This is finally the main event~Bookmark here

Have you gotten enough rest, Jean?”Bookmark here

“What could you be talking about, Gin?”Bookmark here

“This is the main reason why Rin and I invited you today. I told you, we’ll get to relax, right? This is also my first time going in so I’m so excited.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah. Just get to the point. You’re hanging me on the edge.”Bookmark here

“Hot spring.”Bookmark here

Just right after I said “hot spring,” I heard some things that dropped. I turned around and looked at Jean’s…Bookmark here

“Umm… Jean? Your face just fell down… Do you realize that you’re like a character drawn with literally a blank face?”Bookmark here

Anyways, hot spring.Bookmark here

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“Ahhhh… It’s just the second day and I’m already plunged in a hot spring… This feels so nice.Bookmark here

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I wonder why Gin’s taking too long… Oh, sorry I washed already and jumped in.”Bookmark here

“You’re just as impatient as me,” and I turned around as fast as I can right after closing the door.Bookmark here

“What’s up? You suddenly turned back.”Bookmark here

“Well, of course I’ll have to wash first before going in, right?”Bookmark here

“…Bookmark here

You’re so weird, Gin.”Bookmark here

“Ahh, man… I don’t really want others seeing this since this scar is a bit creepy but, oh well.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean? I’ve already seen that giant scar you had right-Bookmark here

Woah…! My goodness…! That’s some balanced tone! What?! Doing workouts, Gin?!”Bookmark here

“Can’t be helped. I’m no Caped Baldy but I still need to maintain myself physically to adapt to the extreme gravity, so I ended up with this.Bookmark here

I’m pretty satisfied with my shape and I don’t wanna be looking like a ripped guy otherwise, I’ll just look disgusting.”Bookmark here

“Well, you’ll still probably get Gin’s vibe if you try doing stretching in the bath. Doujima Gin, I mean… Lol.”Bookmark here

“This sure is nice… Feels like my bones are rejuvenating.”Bookmark here

“Yo, you sounded just like some old man just now.”Bookmark here

In the middle of our idle chat we were halted by a sound of water coming from somewhere.Bookmark here

“Oh, of course. There are two springs here just like those clichéd stories everywhere.Bookmark here

That’s probably Rin.”Bookmark here

“Hey, hey…! What’s with this?! Aren’t you at least bothered with that?!” Jean tackled and wrapped his arm tightly as he tried to whisper in the lowest of his voice.Bookmark here

“Huuuhhh. What’s your problem and I don’t get what you mean.”Bookmark here

“I’m the one who don’t get you…! Are you not embarrassed or flustered in the least?! What if it’s really Rin and-“Bookmark here

“Oh, I get you now.Bookmark here

Knowing me and my past, do you really think I have the guts to be such a dumb person, Jean?”Bookmark here

“Wha-“Bookmark here

“Hey, Rin~! I need your opinion right now.Bookmark here

Do you think I’m a douchebag?” I shouted for it to be heard to the other wall.Bookmark here

“Gin is 100% not a douchebag.Bookmark here

Pfft… What’s even up with your conversation?”Bookmark here

“Nothing really aside from Jean overreacting.Bookmark here

See, it’s Rin on the other side.”Bookmark here

He was left dumbfounded.Bookmark here

“…Bookmark here

Ugghhh. I get it. I get that you’re really not the ‘normal’ I imagined you to be like…”Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Thus, the day ended without any problems. However, the storm will soon hit the restaurant of Giotto’s on the next day.Bookmark here

Oh, just to add, Jin-san went home at peace.

Chapter Message:Bookmark here

That concludes 002!Bookmark here

Time will come where I will try to count all of the characters I have introduced. But this is just chapter 2 so who knows how many they will be.Bookmark here

Thanks for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

003: Well, what a sudden reunion.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.