Chapter 3:

003 – Synonym of Again

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

“Phew…Bookmark here

Breathe in… breathe out…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Time before opening: 30 minutes.Bookmark here

“Is everything ready?” Hiro's tension rose up.Bookmark here

“No issues as of the moment, boss. The whole place is ready for the wave.”Bookmark here

“Alright. It seems that everything got sorted out a bit early. For the moment, don’t be tensed and ease up, everyone.Bookmark here

Try to occupy yourselves until the remaining time.”Bookmark here

He says that, but he's getting extremely nervous.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

It is not just me… they are truly excited for this challenge.Bookmark here

“**Everyone, people are starting to line up in the front.”Bookmark here

“Man, it’s still early… They sure don’t want to miss this, huh?Bookmark here

**In charge of the reception outside the resto, hold them up for the remaining nine minutes.Bookmark here

Hiro, Sean… About time, isn’t it?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, Gin. Please tell everyone to get ready.”Bookmark here

“No more slacking off, aye.Bookmark here

**Order from the boss: Everyone, take your posts now!”Bookmark here

“I just can’t seem to remove the feeling that we’re like in a battlefield,” said Rin while biting her nails.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

“Ahahaha… What can I even do if you’re not here, Rin?”Bookmark here

“Honestly… I can’t help but get a little envious of you two…Bookmark here

You guys are so carefree even at this situation. Hahh…” Jean mumbled loudly while wiping a knife with a cloth.Bookmark here

“It’s surprising that you’re not reprimanding us for this, you know. Your nonchalance leveled up, Jean.Bookmark here

By the way, I’ve had enough of being slashed by knives. Could you please put that down?”Bookmark here

“I’m more worried about your dark jokes than you two acting like a husband and wife in the kitchen.Bookmark here

Besides, if I ever found someone I will eventually have feelings for, I would follow your words of hypocrisy.”Bookmark here

He was talking about how my and Rin's relationship came to begin, and we advised not to follow our example.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

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:Bookmark here

“What is wrong with him today?”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Hairs are tied, so are the aprons. Knives are sharpened, and our spirits are preheated.Bookmark here

“5… 4… 3… 2… 1…Bookmark here

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I was worried for a second that my throat might burst.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

I move these mediocre hands of mine without regrets, but full of inspiration from my past.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Wow, Hiro. Did you make some advertising around town? I never thought we’d get this much in the first wave!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, right, Gin! We just opened and we’re already in this pressure. Man…! How I miss this feeling!”Bookmark here

“Hahaha… You’re overacting. But it really kind of brought me back when we were working back home.Bookmark here

Hey, Rin. What do you think about this atmosphere?”Bookmark here

“Huh- W-Wait?! Ah- No. Ahhh…! I can’t even answer your question when we’re this tied up on things!”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Pfft… You say that but you’re cutting the ginger thinly! Do it over again.”Bookmark here

“Wha- Sorry, Gin!”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

At the same time, in the kitchen, the North group is pondering verbally.Bookmark here

“**Head chef. They’re… How should I say this… Unreal?”Bookmark here

“**Indeed, they are. I wonder how they can start a conversation with this pressure in the kitchen…Bookmark here

**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!”Bookmark here

“**Yes!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“**Order from Table 15 to be served!” a waiter stamped the order on the wall.Bookmark here

“**Table 02 ordered two hot coffees, additionally!” and another note was stamped. Bookmark here

“**If anyone is free, help out Rin with making the sauce!” I called out with full hands.Bookmark here

“Pasta’s al dente, Gin! You finished yet?!” and Jean took out the pasta from the boil. Bookmark here

“Hold the mesh on your left hand, Jean! I’ll help you with plating.”Bookmark here

“**Anyone, keep a look at melting the cheese!” the head chef called out.Bookmark here

“**First order of Mala Ramen, Table 07!” and another order.Bookmark here

“Gin! Pass some olive oil to me!” and so I poured on Rin's pan whilst holding my own. “Thanks!”Bookmark here

“The flavor is too dull, Jean.” Hiro reprimanded.Bookmark here

“I’ll take care of it!” and Jean answered.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

And as past lunchtime finally passed, the storm had finally died down…Bookmark here

…For the meantime.Bookmark here

“Uuuugh… Finally some rest… It feels like I used all of my energy from just that…”Bookmark here

“Good work earlier, Rin. I was honestly quite surprised with your adaptability in the environment.Bookmark here

Hahh… That just concludes that I’m still lacking in observation skills.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Wow, I didn’t really notice… I was so absorbed in cooking.”Bookmark here

“Huuuuhhh…”Bookmark here

“So you were watching me earlier, huh… Or were you slacking off?”Bookmark here

“As if I could ever do that when Hiroomi was reprimanding me!” Bookmark here

“So you were also scolded. But the crowd finally died down, huh…”Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

“I guess I’ll read the manga that Nagi and Shiro recommended.”Bookmark here

“Woah, Rin. I completely forgot about that…! What was the title again?”Bookmark here

“Hmm… I think it was ‘Flower of the Unknown?’”Bookmark here

“Oh! Now I remember. That’s the first time Amagami Yuki is wri… ting…Bookmark here

Apples…”Bookmark here

I had a quick glance in the dining area that suddenly muted the words from my mouth.Bookmark here

“Gin? Is something wrong?”Bookmark here

“Not really… I’ll just borrow a notepad and I’ll be right back,” I shut the door and left the back room.Bookmark here

“…?” Jean looked at Rin.Bookmark here

“I too don’t get it, Jean.”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Taking a step backwards in time, four minutes ago, in a building which is just a crossroad away from the restaurant…Bookmark here

“**Really… I just got myself a decent work after more than a year and now…Bookmark here

**We’ve moved branches after five days of work. Yeah, great start.”Bookmark here

“**Well, it’s also too bad for us since we all met and started working in the Kanto Branch. Oh… the memories.”Bookmark here

“**Hey~ We should at least be happy for this reshuffling, okay~? We might find a lot more subjects to be observed in the future.Bookmark here

**Look, Ryuuya-san. I’ll treat you for lunch this time.”Bookmark here

“**It’s amazing that you’re good at bribing, Mitsumi-san. Alright, I’ll treat you some time in exchange.”Bookmark here

“**Hey, Hina. Aside from drinking, I really haven’t treated you, huh? You won't mind if I do, right?”Bookmark here

“**Even if I refuse, you would still do it anyways.”Bookmark here

“**I heard that the restaurant just in front of our building just opened. Should we check it out?”Bookmark here

“**No kidding, Yugare-san? I didn’t even notice…”Bookmark here

“**Oh, that’s probably because there are no identifications in front.Bookmark here

**Let’s see… It says that the main logo of the restaurant will arrive and will be installed tomorrow morning.”Bookmark here

“**Can we just enter, either way? I’m starving.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“**Hmm? This menu kind of reminds me of a restaurant in the South…”Bookmark here

“**Ryuuya-san…? You mean, in Orio?”Bookmark here

Regardless of my break I took a notepad and did the waiter’s job for that table.Bookmark here

“**Dear customers, have you decided for what you will order?”Bookmark here

“**I will have Cheese Risotto."Bookmark here

“**Two Carbonara.”Bookmark here

“**I’ll have Mala Ramen.”Bookmark here

“**Beef Furikake for me and Tiramisu.”Bookmark here

“**One Cheese Risotto, two Carbonara, one Mala Ramen, Beef Furikake and Tiramisu.Bookmark here

**How about the drinks? Is there something you want to add?”Bookmark here

“**We’ll just have iced tea.”Bookmark here

“**Alright. I’ll repeat the orders one last time:Bookmark here

**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.Bookmark here

**Is there anything that I missed?”Bookmark here

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?Bookmark here

I think there’s no one.Bookmark here

“**Excuse me… Did you just call us out by our full names…?”Bookmark here

“**Indeed, Kaminari-san. Did I make a mistake, however?”Bookmark here

“**No, they are all correct. But more… importantly…Bookmark here

**Wait… S-S-S-Sakato-san…? Why are you-”Bookmark here

I walked away after giving a surprisingly normal smile to them.Bookmark here

Their moods have dulled a little and their attention immediately made a 180 turn after my unexpected presence.Bookmark here

They waited silently for their orders.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“**Why… is there a Giotto’s in this country…?”Bookmark here

“**Let’s not ask ourselves, Ryuuya-san. We are as confused as you are.”Bookmark here

“**Well, let’s go back and unpack our desks in the building… I’m stressed as it is, though.”Bookmark here

They quickly finished eating due to shock.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Going back in the restaurant…Bookmark here

“Ugh… break’s over and I forgot to read the manga…”Bookmark here

“Huuuhhh… Where did you run off to anyways, Gin?”Bookmark here

“There are certain things in this world that could pique my attention.”Bookmark here

“Actually, I think I saw Yuga-“Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

“My bad… I forgot we’re the only ones who knew,” she whispered to me.Bookmark here

Jean glared, “As weird as you two are… You’re still making me jealous somehow.Bookmark here

Hahh…”Bookmark here

“Hey, you’re the weird one,” somehow, mine and Rin’s thoughts matched.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

And lastly, the restaurant closed the doors at twilight.Bookmark here

“Ahh… Thank goodness the resto’s closing hours are early in the soft opening this week.”Bookmark here

“Still… I feel so tired that I feel like I need to take a dip again later…”Bookmark here

“Rin, that’s just an excuse to go to the hot spring. Though, I’m not any different from you.”Bookmark here

“Where’s Jean, by the way?”Bookmark here

“Hmm… Probably taking overtime? I think he’s still at the kitchen right now.”Bookmark here

"Well, we can go home now if we want to."Bookmark here

"Then let's go, Gin."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“**Oh, Haru-san. Not going home yet?”Bookmark here

“**I’m still waiting for my sister.Bookmark here

**Oh, this? I’m sorting out some things about our moving.”Bookmark here

“**I see… Well, we will be heading out now. See you tomorrow at work.”Bookmark here

“**The same for you two. See you.”Bookmark here

Just as we are about to walk away, we heard someone calling us from somewhere with our language.Bookmark here

“Hey~! Gin Sakato-kun, over here…!” an ever so energetic lady waved at us.Bookmark here

“Hey, Gin. If I’m not mistaken, is the one calling us Mitsumi-san…?”Bookmark here

“Ah, yeah… Looks like it.”Bookmark here

“Wow, she looks very different from when she was a few years younger…”Bookmark here

We crossed the road and went to Mitsumi Ichika who was calling us out.Bookmark here

“**Sorry for my attitude earlier, Mitsumi-san. I was kind of surprised myself.Bookmark here

**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?”Bookmark here

“Ohhh… I thought you can’t speak our language but look at you talking like you were born here.”Bookmark here

“Eh… That’s an overstatement.”Bookmark here

“**By the way, nice to meet you again, Ringo-chan~ Oops, I suddenly talked like normal.”Bookmark here

“**It has been a little while, Mitsumi-san. I’d say… it’s kind of bizarre that I am talking to my ‘classmate.’”Bookmark here

“**If you know what she means.”Bookmark here

“**Pfft… Ahahahahaha…! That’s hilarious!Bookmark here

**Well, this is the first time that outsiders know about our identities so it really is bizarre!”Bookmark here

“**I’m also a subject so that only applies to Rin.”Bookmark here

“**Anyways, we originally wanted to invite you inside our office to have a little chat. That is, if it’s okay with you.”Bookmark here

“**As long as we won’t be staying until late. But is it okay to just come to your workplace?”Bookmark here

“**It’s okay, it’s okay. We accept people seeking for guidance, right? That’s our job and all. Well, let’s go up.”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“**Good evening, Sakato-san. It’s quite surprising to meet this quickly. Oh, and Akanami-san too?”Bookmark here

“**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.”Bookmark here

“So that’s why you suddenly ran off…” Rin finally figured out.Bookmark here

“And I still haven’t read the manga…”Bookmark here

“**Why don’t you two have a drink? Tea or coffee?”Bookmark here

“**As long as it’s decaf.”Bookmark here

“**I will have tea.”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

“**I guess we have to answer the ‘why are we here’ question first. Then let me explain.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“**So… Why are the Anew employees I knew are here in Kyoto… more so, with a former observation subject?”Bookmark here

“**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.”Bookmark here

“**Yes, Gin. I applied here at Anew Company.”Bookmark here

“**I see… so we’re really going to go the total rip-off route, huh.”Bookmark here

“**N-No, Sakato-san…! Not really! Ryuuya-san is not an observer, but our assistant and support.”Bookmark here

“Ohhhh… **I get it.”Bookmark here

“**By the way, are you staying somewhere nearby?” Kaizo asked.Bookmark here

“**It’s just one train to the station. The two of us are currently staying at a private house, as per our bosses’ direction.”Bookmark here

“**So it’s quite near, huh…”Bookmark here

“**Wait, you said ‘the two of you…?’”Bookmark here

“**Well… yes, most of the time. But the caretaker is usually present.”Bookmark here

Yugare-san flinched, “**Sakato-san… You realize that you two sound fishy, right…?”Bookmark here

“**Is that so…? Actually… have I never told you that Rin and I are dating?”Bookmark here

“**Huh?! Really?!”Bookmark here

“**No… we actually can’t remember something like that.”Bookmark here

“**Hahahaha… Neither do I remember if I ever said that.”Bookmark here

They were all trapped with the thought if that memory ever existed.Bookmark here

“**Well… I guess it kind of makes sense as to how Sakato-san addresses Akanami-san uniquely.Bookmark here

**But I was warned by Kajima-san not to ever call Akanami-san like that otherwise I’ll get killed by Sakato-san.”Bookmark here

“**Well, I asked Gin to punch me at some point in the past… and my cheek took two weeks to heal… O, the regrets…”Bookmark here

“The time…Bookmark here

**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.”Bookmark here

Yugare-san jolted again, “**Ah, yes. It’s getting late. See you at some point.”Bookmark here

“**Alright, we’ll be taking our leave.”Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Meanwhile, in Giotto’s kitchen…Bookmark here

“Ugh… This is quite difficult. I wonder how I can minimize my mistakes.”Bookmark here

Jean is doing his own taste testing and analyzing his own mistakes minding his performance earlier in the day.Bookmark here

“Well, I pretty much nailed the boiling of pasta but there’s something that I feel like is wrong in the sauce.Bookmark here

I really need to up my game and rely less on others but myself.”Bookmark here

After some time, he felt that he’s being observed from somewhere. Finally, he saw someone looking out from the slightly opened door.Bookmark here

“**P-Please… come in…”Bookmark here

“Did I say it right?!”Bookmark here

The person watching Jean entered the kitchen.Bookmark here

“**Umm… Y-You’re Hikari-san (Ai)… right?”Bookmark here

“Yes. But did I interrupt you?”Bookmark here

“Ah, no…Bookmark here

…!Bookmark here

Wait, you can speak-“Bookmark here

“I have been studying your language for quite a while now.”Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s amazing. By the way, have you been watching for some time now?”Bookmark here

“A-Actually, yes…”Bookmark here

“Where’s Haru-san? Aren’t you two going home now?”Bookmark here

“I asked her if I can come inside while she sorts out something online and I got permission to have a look here.Bookmark here

How about you, not yet going home?”Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

Right now, I’m doing some taste-testing on my own cooking while identifying what I did wrong.”Bookmark here

It is silent at the moment and Jean noticed that Ai has been staring at him for some reason.Bookmark here

“Hikari-san…?”Bookmark here

“You’re amazing, Ando-san.”Bookmark here

“E-Eh? Whatever makes you say that?”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“I… I guess? It’s something that Gin, as my mentor, did not advise me but I apply it as self-discovery.Bookmark here

I feel like I won’t get anywhere if I complain and complain.”Bookmark here

“I see… So you’re like my opposite.”Bookmark here

“H-Huh…? Hikari-san?”Bookmark here

“Th… The truth is… I’m not really fanning over the fact that we’re moving out.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark 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.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“I-I’m sorry… I talked too much.”Bookmark here

“No, I don’t mind.Bookmark here

But… Is the moving of your family already set in stone?”Bookmark here

“Yes… I don’t even think I can make them reconsider.”Bookmark here

“’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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“Th-Thank you…”Bookmark here

“…? For what?”Bookmark here

“For listening… even though I was being selfish.Bookmark here

I will try to understand my parents and it might change my way of thinking about this.”Bookmark here

“I-If you say so…”Bookmark here

“Then… can I help you with what you’re doing right now? I can probably tell you if I observed something worth mentioning.”Bookmark here

“Really? Is that okay with you and Haru-san, though?”Bookmark here

“There’s still a lot of time for us to spare.Bookmark here

Also… about what we talked about just now and me speaking your language… can you keep it a secret from anyone?”Bookmark here

“Eh…? S-Sure, I’ll keep it a secret…”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“What are you going to make now, An-Bookmark here

C-Can I call you with your first name…?”Bookmark here

“Uhh… I could ask the same thing if that’s okay with you. But you can call me by my name.”Bookmark here

“Alright… Jin-san, you can call me Ai.”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“Pfft…”Bookmark here

“J-Jin-san…?”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“…? I don’t really get it, but okay…?”Bookmark here

“Anyways, I’m really grateful for your offer. I hope our efforts together will bear fruit.”Bookmark here

“Yes…! Let’s do our best from now on.”

Chapter Message:Bookmark here

That's it for 003!Bookmark here

aBookmark here

Thanks for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

004: This chapter is mostly about Jean Ando and Ai Hikari.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.