Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path
Breathe in… breathe out…”
It is the day where the doors of the second Giotto’s will be open in public. Truly, this is a milestone for every one of us that are involved in all of the work that has been put in for this day onwards.
Time before opening: 30 minutes.
“Is everything ready?” Hiro's tension rose up.
“No issues as of the moment, boss. The whole place is ready for the wave.”
“Alright. It seems that everything got sorted out a bit early. For the moment, don’t be tensed and ease up, everyone.
Try to occupy yourselves until the remaining time.”
He says that, but he's getting extremely nervous.
Yes, this is definitely the opening of this restaurant. I have been working at the first Giotto’s for months and I have never felt this air which is very different from my working environment.
I honestly would have not felt this air if we are opening in Orio, but that is not the case here at all. This is Japan, and we are foreigners; strangers that had a small knowledge of what we are about to conquer.
But aside from the weight I am feeling, I can’t stop hammering in my head that this is an experience that will change our lives for the better.
It is not just me… they are truly excited for this challenge.
“**Everyone, people are starting to line up in the front.”
“Man, it’s still early… They sure don’t want to miss this, huh?
**In charge of the reception outside the resto, hold them up for the remaining nine minutes.
Hiro, Sean… About time, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, Gin. Please tell everyone to get ready.”
“No more slacking off, aye.
**Order from the boss: Everyone, take your posts now!”
“I just can’t seem to remove the feeling that we’re like in a battlefield,” said Rin while biting her nails.
“Well, this is your first experience in the culinary world, Rin. But the same goes for me too. I’ve been working for months, but it still feels like we’re in the front lines.”
“At least tie your apron properly if you’re really ready. Geez, you’re helpless, Gin,” and then Rin tied my apron once again on my back.
“Ahahaha… What can I even do if you’re not here, Rin?”
“Honestly… I can’t help but get a little envious of you two…
You guys are so carefree even at this situation. Hahh…” Jean mumbled loudly while wiping a knife with a cloth.
“It’s surprising that you’re not reprimanding us for this, you know. Your nonchalance leveled up, Jean.
By the way, I’ve had enough of being slashed by knives. Could you please put that down?”
“I’m more worried about your dark jokes than you two acting like a husband and wife in the kitchen.
Besides, if I ever found someone I will eventually have feelings for, I would follow your words of hypocrisy.”
He was talking about how my and Rin's relationship came to begin, and we advised not to follow our example.
“I won’t deny that. But let me at least tell you that we’ve both realized that we tried to draw a straight line without a ruler.”
“So you two grabbed a ruler in the process and set up a boundary between the two of you. Indeed, it sounds a bit ironic, but I will do my best to follow your example.”
We both stared at him with our eyes blinking and then directed my gaze to Rin and vice versa; and shrugged at the same time with the thought:
“What is wrong with him today?”
Hairs are tied, so are the aprons. Knives are sharpened, and our spirits are preheated.
“5… 4… 3… 2… 1…
**GIOTTO’S SECOND BRANCH IS OFFICIALLY SOFT-OPENED FOR BUSINESS!”
I was worried for a second that my throat might burst.
Thus, the doors are opened and the wave of customers finally went to our shore. People came in different appearances and ages, but we cannot let those smiles of eagerness to fill their stomach to vanish.
Once again, I have underestimated Kyoto. They seek for something new, and something that will appeal to their tastes. The customers are our unique standards. And this pressure is the one that makes me want to do more, because I am truly having fun with what I do.
I move these mediocre hands of mine without regrets, but full of inspiration from my past.
“Hey, Grandpa. I really do wish I can serve my cooking to you, just like what you always do for me when I was that twisted child.”
~ ~ ~
In an instant, the kitchen went into “fire” as we dance the rhythm of the very familiar bustling noises coming from beyond the kitchen door.
“Wow, Hiro. Did you make some advertising around town? I never thought we’d get this much in the first wave!”
“Yeah, right, Gin! We just opened and we’re already in this pressure. Man…! How I miss this feeling!”
“Hahaha… You’re overacting. But it really kind of brought me back when we were working back home.
Hey, Rin. What do you think about this atmosphere?”
“Huh- W-Wait?! Ah- No. Ahhh…! I can’t even answer your question when we’re this tied up on things!”
“And Jean joined the conversation: “I’m getting a lot used to this kind of environment. I’m sure Ringo will adapt to this soon.”
“Pfft… You say that but you’re cutting the ginger thinly! Do it over again.”
“Wha- Sorry, Gin!”
At the same time, in the kitchen, the North group is pondering verbally.
“**Head chef. They’re… How should I say this… Unreal?”
“**Indeed, they are. I wonder how they can start a conversation with this pressure in the kitchen…
**But let’s not be overwhelmed by that. We’re the ones in charge of this kitchen. Let’s move to the pace of the boss and company!”
At this point, the restaurant has been open for roughly 20 minutes. There are still several tables that are vacant but if I were to compare this to the Orio branch, this is like the peak number of customers.
This restaurant is considerably bigger than the first branch when I still worked there. I would not be surprised if the establishment will get bigger after the renovations.
“**Order from Table 15 to be served!” a waiter stamped the order on the wall.
“**Table 02 ordered two hot coffees, additionally!” and another note was stamped.
“**If anyone is free, help out Rin with making the sauce!” I called out with full hands.
“Pasta’s al dente, Gin! You finished yet?!” and Jean took out the pasta from the boil.
“Hold the mesh on your left hand, Jean! I’ll help you with plating.”
“**Anyone, keep a look at melting the cheese!” the head chef called out.
“**First order of Mala Ramen, Table 07!” and another order.
“Gin! Pass some olive oil to me!” and so I poured on Rin's pan whilst holding my own. “Thanks!”
“The flavor is too dull, Jean.” Hiro reprimanded.
“I’ll take care of it!” and Jean answered.
This has been the gist of the situation for the most of two hours. There was no stop to it. Hands of ours are full, muscles are flexed from every movements, every joint bent, and our skins got burnt.
And as past lunchtime finally passed, the storm had finally died down…
…For the meantime.
“Uuuugh… Finally some rest… It feels like I used all of my energy from just that…”
“Good work earlier, Rin. I was honestly quite surprised with your adaptability in the environment.
Hahh… That just concludes that I’m still lacking in observation skills.”
“Don’t say that, Gin. You’re plenty good enough, you know. Just like earlier, you’re taking care of your own dish but you still point out the others.”
“Wow, I didn’t really notice… I was so absorbed in cooking.”
“So you were watching me earlier, huh… Or were you slacking off?”
“As if I could ever do that when Hiroomi was reprimanding me!”
“So you were also scolded. But the crowd finally died down, huh…”
“We have an hour and a half of break. Let’s use that for rest if we all have already eaten,” Jean suddenly showed up.
“I guess I’ll read the manga that Nagi and Shiro recommended.”
“Woah, Rin. I completely forgot about that…! What was the title again?”
“Hmm… I think it was ‘Flower of the Unknown?’”
“Oh! Now I remember. That’s the first time Amagami Yuki is wri… ting…
I had a quick glance in the dining area that suddenly muted the words from my mouth.
“Gin? Is something wrong?”
“Not really… I’ll just borrow a notepad and I’ll be right back,” I shut the door and left the back room.
“…?” Jean looked at Rin.
“I too don’t get it, Jean.”
~ ~ ~
Taking a step backwards in time, four minutes ago, in a building which is just a crossroad away from the restaurant…
“**Really… I just got myself a decent work after more than a year and now…
**We’ve moved branches after five days of work. Yeah, great start.”
“**Well, it’s also too bad for us since we all met and started working in the Kanto Branch. Oh… the memories.”
“**Hey~ We should at least be happy for this reshuffling, okay~? We might find a lot more subjects to be observed in the future.
**Look, Ryuuya-san. I’ll treat you for lunch this time.”
“**It’s amazing that you’re good at bribing, Mitsumi-san. Alright, I’ll treat you some time in exchange.”
“**Hey, Hina. Aside from drinking, I really haven’t treated you, huh? You won't mind if I do, right?”
“**Even if I refuse, you would still do it anyways.”
“**I heard that the restaurant just in front of our building just opened. Should we check it out?”
“**No kidding, Yugare-san? I didn’t even notice…”
“**Oh, that’s probably because there are no identifications in front.
**Let’s see… It says that the main logo of the restaurant will arrive and will be installed tomorrow morning.”
“**Can we just enter, either way? I’m starving.”
Five people with office attires entered the restaurant and picked a table. Three of them are men and the other two are women. It was just a quick look but they somehow looked very familiar to my eyes.
At first, I thought that my eyeballs are playing with me. But I was reminded of a certain someone knocking on my door one night.
“**Hmm? This menu kind of reminds me of a restaurant in the South…”
“**Ryuuya-san…? You mean, in Orio?”
Regardless of my break I took a notepad and did the waiter’s job for that table.
“**Dear customers, have you decided for what you will order?”
“**I will have Cheese Risotto."
“**I’ll have Mala Ramen.”
“**Beef Furikake for me and Tiramisu.”
“**One Cheese Risotto, two Carbonara, one Mala Ramen, Beef Furikake and Tiramisu.
**How about the drinks? Is there something you want to add?”
“**We’ll just have iced tea.”
“**Alright. I’ll repeat the orders one last time:
**Cheese Risotto for Ryuuya Kaizo-san; Carbonara for Kaminari Ayato-san and Itori Hina-san; Mala Ramen for Yugare Ryou-san; and Beef Furikake and Tiramisu for Mitsumi Ichika-san. Four Anew employees and a former shut-in ordered iced tea for drinks.
**Is there anything that I missed?”
You know, who wouldn’t freeze up when a mere waiter called out the names of the customers so suddenly like it was as easy as breathing?
I think there’s no one.
“**Excuse me… Did you just call us out by our full names…?”
“**Indeed, Kaminari-san. Did I make a mistake, however?”
“**No, they are all correct. But more… importantly…
**Wait… S-S-S-Sakato-san…? Why are you-”
I walked away after giving a surprisingly normal smile to them.
Their moods have dulled a little and their attention immediately made a 180 turn after my unexpected presence.
They waited silently for their orders.
~ ~ ~
“**Why… is there a Giotto’s in this country…?”
“**Let’s not ask ourselves, Ryuuya-san. We are as confused as you are.”
“**Well, let’s go back and unpack our desks in the building… I’m stressed as it is, though.”
They quickly finished eating due to shock.
Going back in the restaurant…
“Ugh… break’s over and I forgot to read the manga…”
“Huuuhhh… Where did you run off to anyways, Gin?”
“There are certain things in this world that could pique my attention.”
“Actually, I think I saw Yuga-“
“Rin…!” I quickly went towards Rin and covered her mouth as I called her out in a whispering shout. She looked at Jean and realized something.
“My bad… I forgot we’re the only ones who knew,” she whispered to me.
Jean glared, “As weird as you two are… You’re still making me jealous somehow.
“Hey, you’re the weird one,” somehow, mine and Rin’s thoughts matched.
~ ~ ~
The entrance of customers went down a little bit as it hits the afternoon and the pressure came back from the final wave of people in the time before the sun goes down.
And lastly, the restaurant closed the doors at twilight.
“Ahh… Thank goodness the resto’s closing hours are early in the soft opening this week.”
“Still… I feel so tired that I feel like I need to take a dip again later…”
“Rin, that’s just an excuse to go to the hot spring. Though, I’m not any different from you.”
“Where’s Jean, by the way?”
“Hmm… Probably taking overtime? I think he’s still at the kitchen right now.”
"Well, we can go home now if we want to."
"Then let's go, Gin."
The whole restaurant has been cleaned just as we are leaving the place. I opened the door and saw Haru-san sitting on the outdoor table with her laptop open.
“**Oh, Haru-san. Not going home yet?”
“**I’m still waiting for my sister.
**Oh, this? I’m sorting out some things about our moving.”
“**I see… Well, we will be heading out now. See you tomorrow at work.”
“**The same for you two. See you.”
Just as we are about to walk away, we heard someone calling us from somewhere with our language.
“Hey~! Gin Sakato-kun, over here…!” an ever so energetic lady waved at us.
“Hey, Gin. If I’m not mistaken, is the one calling us Mitsumi-san…?”
“Ah, yeah… Looks like it.”
“Wow, she looks very different from when she was a few years younger…”
We crossed the road and went to Mitsumi Ichika who was calling us out.
“**Sorry for my attitude earlier, Mitsumi-san. I was kind of surprised myself.
**Oh, I’ll ask ahead since I know you guys will ask the same question. I thought you were all from the Kanto branch, but why are you all in Kyoto… and with Kaizo?”
“Ohhh… I thought you can’t speak our language but look at you talking like you were born here.”
“Eh… That’s an overstatement.”
“**By the way, nice to meet you again, Ringo-chan~ Oops, I suddenly talked like normal.”
“**It has been a little while, Mitsumi-san. I’d say… it’s kind of bizarre that I am talking to my ‘classmate.’”
“**If you know what she means.”
“**Pfft… Ahahahahaha…! That’s hilarious!
**Well, this is the first time that outsiders know about our identities so it really is bizarre!”
“**I’m also a subject so that only applies to Rin.”
“**Anyways, we originally wanted to invite you inside our office to have a little chat. That is, if it’s okay with you.”
“**As long as we won’t be staying until late. But is it okay to just come to your workplace?”
“**It’s okay, it’s okay. We accept people seeking for guidance, right? That’s our job and all. Well, let’s go up.”
~ ~ ~
“**Good evening, Sakato-san. It’s quite surprising to meet this quickly. Oh, and Akanami-san too?”
“**Also a good evening, Yugare-san. Sorry about earlier. I was on break from the kitchen but I can’t just sit tight seeing you guys out of the blue.”
“So that’s why you suddenly ran off…” Rin finally figured out.
“And I still haven’t read the manga…”
“**Why don’t you two have a drink? Tea or coffee?”
“**As long as it’s decaf.”
“**I will have tea.”
~ ~ ~
“**I guess we have to answer the ‘why are we here’ question first. Then let me explain.”
Rin and I explained our circumstances that led us to this country and they understood immediately. It’s now our time to do the questioning.
“**So… Why are the Anew employees I knew are here in Kyoto… more so, with a former observation subject?”
“**As you may have known,” Itori-san started, “…we all left Orio at the 23rd last month. Just as we arrived we were tasked to be transferred here. Us four are actually a team of observers, but we now have Ryuuya-san as part of us.”
“**Yes, Gin. I applied here at Anew Company.”
“**I see… so we’re really going to go the total rip-off route, huh.”
“**N-No, Sakato-san…! Not really! Ryuuya-san is not an observer, but our assistant and support.”
“Ohhhh… **I get it.”
“**By the way, are you staying somewhere nearby?” Kaizo asked.
“**It’s just one train to the station. The two of us are currently staying at a private house, as per our bosses’ direction.”
“**So it’s quite near, huh…”
“**Wait, you said ‘the two of you…?’”
“**Well… yes, most of the time. But the caretaker is usually present.”
Yugare-san flinched, “**Sakato-san… You realize that you two sound fishy, right…?”
“**Is that so…? Actually… have I never told you that Rin and I are dating?”
“**No… we actually can’t remember something like that.”
“**Hahahaha… Neither do I remember if I ever said that.”
They were all trapped with the thought if that memory ever existed.
“**Well… I guess it kind of makes sense as to how Sakato-san addresses Akanami-san uniquely.
**But I was warned by Kajima-san not to ever call Akanami-san like that otherwise I’ll get killed by Sakato-san.”
“**Well, I asked Gin to punch me at some point in the past… and my cheek took two weeks to heal… O, the regrets…”
**Sorry, but I think we should head home now. It’s not really a matter if we see each other, right? Kamichi-san might be waiting.”
Yugare-san jolted again, “**Ah, yes. It’s getting late. See you at some point.”
“**Alright, we’ll be taking our leave.”
~ ~ ~
Meanwhile, in Giotto’s kitchen…
“Ugh… This is quite difficult. I wonder how I can minimize my mistakes.”
Jean is doing his own taste testing and analyzing his own mistakes minding his performance earlier in the day.
“Well, I pretty much nailed the boiling of pasta but there’s something that I feel like is wrong in the sauce.
I really need to up my game and rely less on others but myself.”
After some time, he felt that he’s being observed from somewhere. Finally, he saw someone looking out from the slightly opened door.
“**P-Please… come in…”
“Did I say it right?!”
The person watching Jean entered the kitchen.
“**Umm… Y-You’re Hikari-san (Ai)… right?”
“Yes. But did I interrupt you?”
Wait, you can speak-“
“I have been studying your language for quite a while now.”
“Oh, that’s amazing. By the way, have you been watching for some time now?”
“Where’s Haru-san? Aren’t you two going home now?”
“I asked her if I can come inside while she sorts out something online and I got permission to have a look here.
How about you, not yet going home?”
“I’m kind of taking overtime since I personally think that I did poorly earlier as a trainee chef. I still have a long way to go.
Right now, I’m doing some taste-testing on my own cooking while identifying what I did wrong.”
It is silent at the moment and Jean noticed that Ai has been staring at him for some reason.
“You’re amazing, Ando-san.”
“E-Eh? Whatever makes you say that?”
“It’s just… You don’t seem to complain even though you’re being reprimanded and you still move on and try to correct your mistakes.”
“I… I guess? It’s something that Gin, as my mentor, did not advise me but I apply it as self-discovery.
I feel like I won’t get anywhere if I complain and complain.”
“I see… So you’re like my opposite.”
“Th… The truth is… I’m not really fanning over the fact that we’re moving out.”
“I’m actually against it, and sometimes when it is the topic of our family, I always complain about how I don’t see the reason for our moving.
I am content in our life as it is and I was taken by surprise when my parents suddenly said that we’re moving… and it is quite… far away from here.
I just don’t get why we need to move. I have a lot of good memories in this place… and this is where I was born and lived my whole life. ‘A change of environment?’ I think that it’s just their personal opinion. I don’t feel any different from our environment.”
“I-I’m sorry… I talked too much.”
“No, I don’t mind.
But… Is the moving of your family already set in stone?”
“Yes… I don’t even think I can make them reconsider.”
“’A change of environment,’ huh… You’re probably right that you don’t feel anything about that, but how about the adults— your parents? Maybe there’s something that has been conflicting their minds that affect them and may as well affect you and your sister, and that they don't want you siblings to suffer.
I assume your parents aren’t telling you the real reason because they don’t want you to be worried or sad. Maybe… what they wish for is what’s better for your family. There’s a saying: ‘You obtained stone, but you realized that it is still vulnerable to things that could be essential. But then you obtained iron, and realized that your efforts of obtaining the stone weren’t a waste.’ Maybe there is something that is much better for your family.
That is what I am getting from your story. But I am not always right. After all, I make a lot of mistakes. Well, what do you know? You might find something good when you moved out.”
“…? For what?”
“For listening… even though I was being selfish.
I will try to understand my parents and it might change my way of thinking about this.”
“I-If you say so…”
“Then… can I help you with what you’re doing right now? I can probably tell you if I observed something worth mentioning.”
“Really? Is that okay with you and Haru-san, though?”
“There’s still a lot of time for us to spare.
Also… about what we talked about just now and me speaking your language… can you keep it a secret from anyone?”
“Eh…? S-Sure, I’ll keep it a secret…”
“What are you going to make now, An-
C-Can I call you with your first name…?”
“Uhh… I could ask the same thing if that’s okay with you. But you can call me by my name.”
“Alright… Jin-san, you can call me Ai.”
“Wow… You’re the second person to call me that… But I guess it just had the same sound, huh. It’s okay. You can just call me Jin.”
“…? I don’t really get it, but okay…?”
“Anyways, I’m really grateful for your offer. I hope our efforts together will bear fruit.”
“Yes…! Let’s do our best from now on.”
That's it for 003!
Thanks for reading!
004: This chapter is mostly about Jean Ando and Ai Hikari.
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