Rainbow of the Horizon
“You know, Rin…”
“Gin? Something wrong?”
“Well… Not really. It’s just that Jean seems to be working harder than yesterday.”
“Ahh… Like his work wasn’t enough yesterday. He’s still not satisfied with his performance, I guess.”
“Oh, you can add the peppers now.”
“Ah, thanks for reminding me.”
Whatever happened to that guy, I wonder.
Just yesterday, we were all standing on the edge of our knives as we worked under so much pressure. Don’t get me wrong. Today is still pretty much the same. But things somehow got lighter.
Jean is somehow working double the efficiency compared to yesterday. I can feel his passion running through every vein of his as he moved his hands to the blazing heat of the stoves.
Hard working as he may be right now, we can’t stop worrying so I tried asking some things.
“Yo, Jean. How many hours of sleep did you have last night?”
“Oh, I see… Well, you can tone down your work for now. The first wave is finally dying down.”
“I agree. I’m impressed and all, but please don’t overdo it. You need to conserve your energy,” Hiro butted in.
“Huh…? Was I?” somehow, he was confused.
I was about to feel relieved but my worries came back anew.
~ ~ ~
“Totally nailing it, Jean. You too, Rin. Good work to us.”
“Good work to you too, Gin.”
“So I guess I’ll go ask now.
Jean, how do you feel right now?”
Well, let’s see… I guess I’m full of energy today and I feel like I can do better.”
“You took overtime last night, right? Did you get something from that?”
“Hmm… A lot of motivation, I guess? I did a lot of practicing and the results of my testing are satisfactory. I tried to keep up the pace I had last night and applied it today.”
I guess things went well on his side and I’m glad that he is patching up the cracks, but I can’t stop thinking that there’s more to that.
“Rin, what do you think about what Jean just said?” I whispered to her.
“Jean’s doing his best and I feel like he’s really set in what he really wanted to do. Carpe diem, maybe?”
“Carpe diem, huh…”
The back room opened and two people entered.
“**Ai-san, Haru-san. Good work,” I greeted while Rin asked after.
“**Are you two on break now?”
“**Yes, Akanami-senpai. We’ll be on break until the afternoon shift,” Ai replied.
“**Oh, Ai-san. Do you read manga?”
“**I do, but why do you ask, Sakato-senpai?”
“**Have you heard of Amagami Yuki, by any chance?”
“**It seems that she’s a famous mangaka. I actually followed her recently ended manga. But I heard that she’s making a shoujo manga currently.”
“**I have actually heard of her too,” Haru-san added.
“**It’s on the monthly magazine right now and I heard that it’s very popular. It got my interest since it is also available in our language like a lot of manga do.”
“**That’s true… Her works go off like a bomb and she always gets interviews. Though, she only accepts online interviews and she never disclosed herself to the public,” Rin somehow landed information that I did not know.
“**I heard that it’s typical for other authors too.
**By the way, there’s an animation company around Kyoto, right?”
“Gin, you’re talking about Kyoko Animation, right?” Rin didn't realize that she switched speech.
“**Sakato-senpai, are you by any chance… an 'otaku?'”
“Ahahahaha…! **They’ll notice as expected!”
“**Ai-san, you actually just made an amazing feat of making Gin laugh like that.”
“**W-Wha…? What do you mean, senpai?”
“**He’s not that much of an expressive person, actually. His lack of emotions however makes what he is right now. But still, he’s just like a kid sometimes.”
“**You sure know him well, Akanami-san.”
“**Hahaha… That’s just how it is.”
But I had to remind myself that Orions' and Japanese's point of view of otaku is somewhat different.
“Hahh… Even though I don’t really understand what Ringo said, I feel out of place again. Another sigh… (Jean literally said that).”
“Wow, I thought you were out of that attitude already, Jean. Have you talked about that with Nagi, anyways?”
“Well, yeah. He said that it’ll just come by eventually. Maybe in years, months, or even tomorrow.”
“If he paraphrased, then that’s good.
But try to not think of that in the meantime. There’s a saying that when you try to find something, you won’t find it. But when you don’t, you then will.”
“Oh, yeah. That happens to me a lot of times. I’ll try to focus on work more.”
Oi, stop right there, Jin-kun. You'll overwork yourself otherwise.
“**Akanami-san? What are they talking about?”
“**It’s hard to tell when they are being vague like that, Haru-san. Jean’s just probably having the time of his life.”
~ ~ ~
The day of work ended at the same time but the scenario in the closing restaurant is surprisingly the same as yesterday.
Employees are leaving, the restaurant is cleaned, Haru-san is once again in front of her laptop but now she’s inside.
Rin and I left the resto and once again, we were called out from the building of Anew Co. in front of us. It was Mitsumi-san that called out on us again but to invite to go to karaoke with the five of them.
However, we humbly declined and went home.
Besides, it is plain weird for grown-ups to invite minors for that. Mitsumi-san is a forever high school student, huh.
“Geez, inviting minors to karaoke? They ought to be more responsible as adults…”
I seriously thought that Rin read my mind.
“I bet they were too used to being high schoolers.”
“Amazing. It’s like aging in reverse.”
~ ~ ~
Meanwhile, someone is taking overtime again.
“A-Are you sure it’s really okay with your sister?”
“It’s okay. She’s also busy as usual.”
“Oh, doing some work again?
Have a seat.”
“Not really… it’s more like onee-chan is ranking up.”
“Ah, I see… Ranking up, huh…
“Jin-san. You somehow reminds me of Sakato-senpai when you’re cooking.”
“Really? I guess that’s probably because I’ve learned a lot of culinary mostly from him. I might be imitating him a bit.”
“I kind of recall hearing that senpai is your teacher or mentor.”
“About that… He helped me a bunch when I was under a conflict regarding my future path.”
“It happened sometime around December last year. At that time, I don’t know what I am going to do with my future and career so I consulted him for help.
He didn’t help me immediately, though. He advised to assess what I currently hold with my abilities and I found what I’m most happy with—and that is cooking. I have found something where I can enjoy what I do.
Because of that, I am truly grateful for him.”
“Is that the reason why you went here to Japan with them?”
“Part of it is for my apprenticeship but what I truly intended to do is to learn more of the cuisine in this country. Also, I finally found the purpose of what I wished to do after setting foot in this land…
It is to give happiness to the people through my cooking and see what this experience will lead me to. I’m being too optimistic, aren’t I?”
What the eyes of Ai saw is glow—A bright glow surrounding the man emitting a light of inspiration as she watches him silently without losing in to one blink.
“U-Uhm… Ai-san? You’re stari-“
Jean got startled because of the small yelp that came out of the blue.
“Ah… Sorry about that, Jin-san. Did I surprise you?”
“A-A bit… Yeah. Wait, I should be asking you that.”
“Sorry, I was kind of spacing out… A-And I thought that you were very cool earlier.”
W-Well then, I’ll start now.”
~ ~ ~
As Jean heated up the stove and prepared his ingredients, the curiosity of Ai once again bloomed.
“Jin-san. I was wondering for a bit… But you and Sakato-senpai are classmates, right?”
“Well, yes. Along with Ringo and three more of our friends. We started as a group of four male friends but Ringo and another girl joined us last school year when they just transferred.
Hmm… Technically, those two and I are still going to be classmates as senior high students because we have one common department that we will attend.”
So I was wondering about how you’re in the same year when senpai is turning 19 this year. More like, he's the different piece.”
“Oh, that. That’s just how it goes. It’s very complicated to say and Gin will definitely get mad at me if I say too much. But what I can say is that he was involved with some life changing accident that stopped him from attending school.”
“That accident became the key for Gin’s life to change. We were very surprised when he came back after that accident. He has changed a lot and we learned things from his past that we never heard of. He has grind his way to who he is now and we’re glad that he found his happiness and his own love.”
“Does that mean senpai has a…”
“It took us a month to fully notice it because they are good at concealing their relationship.
Just as she was trying to stand up, she nearly tripped but came back on her footing.
“You okay there…?
Also, that’s the same reaction we had and this is the same restaurant where we discovered that.”
“I… I seriously had no idea…”
“Oh… My mind just got sidetracked… I suddenly remembered that today marks the day of the ‘soundwave incident’. I totally forgot about that…”
“Soundwave incident… Jin-san. Are you studying in Blue Ink High School?”
“Woah… How did you know that, Ai-san?”
“You just mentioned the soundwave incident and I’ve heard that it happened in Blue Ink High School in Cotona. Actually, I’ve been researching about things in Orio recently.”
“Is that so… I guess the issue really got popular worldwide. I recalled that the researchers still have no conclusions. The collaboration with the historians however found that the last time that it happened was three hundred years ago but in a very different place.
But I was surprised that you took interest in it.”
“I-It’s just something that caught my attention.”
“Alright, then. I’ll start now, Ai-san.”
~ ~ ~
Jean’s main focus is to learn making Mala Ramen for the reason that making ramen is something that is out of his comfort zone.
Giotto’s Italian pasta and Japanese noodles for ramen, udon and soba are all handmade. Ramen and udon was a regular menu in the South branch and the addition of soba in the North branch was thanks to an expert chef at making soba from buckwheat flour.
It is a very complicated process that even the main chefs of Giotto’s South can’t reproduce it.
“Man, making noodles is really difficult and it takes a lot of practice… I can’t even make a ramen if I can’t make noodles that are good enough.”
“So Gin’s making noodles from scratch with gravity which is a couple times higher than Earth’s. He’s wild.”
“Ugh… this is my fifth attempt now. Ai-san, please taste it again.”
“It finally got a good texture and it doesn’t break off! Jin-san! You finally got it!”
“Right! Time to make the soup and toppings real quick…!”
~ ~ ~
“Hahh… Hahh… Ai-san. Let’s see if this is really a good reproduction. But take note that I toned down the spiciness for this one.”
“You should also taste it, Jin-san.”
The two slurped down the noodles first, just like any other people will do after receiving a bowl. The ominous redness of the soup sticks to the playful dance of the noodles as it rose up from being submerged.
And suddenly, the two stopped in silence while still being sat.
“You finally did it…! Jin-san! Your ramen is really good…!”
“D-Does it really…?”
“Yes, of course! You should be more proud with it. You’re the one who made this after all of your efforts! Isn’t it satisfying when you finally achieved something?”
Jean was suddenly reminded of his own purpose of what he wished to do.
“It is to give happiness to the people through my cooking…”
His eyes were locked on the big and bright smile of Ai. Thus, he realized that the outcome is just right in front of his eyes.
Meanwhile, Haru who is in the dining room heard the noise from the kitchen.
**Ando-san… You too, made such an amazing feat.”
~ ~ ~
“Thank you for having me again, Jin-san. Also, thank you for the dinner.”
“No… I should be the one thanking you.”
“In just a short time, I have progressed this much thanks to your help. I think I wouldn’t get this far without your presence.”
“No… it’s not really…”
“If possible… can I ask your help when I have time for the kitchen?”
The face of the girl immediately brightened up with happiness and replied:
“Really! I’m willing to help you with your testing… and I get to eat tasty food for free…
But I have a favor to ask, Jin-san.”
“What is it?”
“Please teach me how to cook.”
“W-Wait! I-I don’t think I have the ability to teach someone. And I’m still a mentee…”
“Please don’t say that. I have just seen your perseverance just now. Please trust yourself just like how I trust you.”
“Wait… Y-You… trust me?”
On that queue, Ai’s face slightly turned red and made a surprised expression.
“Now you’re embarrassing me, Jin-san…!”
“N-N-N-No…! I figured that I should turn the heater down because your face is turning a bit red,” he feigned ignorance.
“Y-Yeah… I think you should… Jin-san, your face is red too.”
“Is… Is that so…
▪ ▪ ▪
It is now the fifth day of the soft opening. We recently observed that Jean is growing day after day. And as of right now, he is picking up the pace of the main chefs in the kitchen.
We’ve been hearing that he’s staying in the kitchen even when the restaurant is closed and what he usually do is practicing and learning new things that made him progress this far.
As the one that guided him, I am very happy and impressed.
“Jean, you’re really picking up the pace.”
“I should be more surprised that you can keep up with them from the start, Ringo.”
“If not for the races I did with Gin… Ahaha…”
“We always do a timed competition where Gin and I race against time, but with the rule of preserving the quality of the dish whilst moving our hands and minds quickly.”
“And we sometimes get Anna or Kei as the judge.”
“Wow… I guess I still have a lot to learn…”
“Oh, Jean. It’s almost time for the errand Hiro gave you. I suggest you call someone who’s on break.”
“Sure. I’ll be off, then.”
Afterwards, Jean’s voice could still be heard from the kitchen with a decent distance far from them.
“**Ai-san…! Could you help me do some shopping?”
“**I’ll go with you!”
“Rin-chan… Our ears are just playing with us, right?”
“Sorry to disappoint, Gin-kun. What we heard was real.”
“What the… is my pupil hitting on girls now?” I mumbled upon myself while looking at the distance and dicing onions at the same time.
“I don’t know what to say about that…”
“Jean has finally grown up…”
“Gin, what are you, his parent?”
▪ ▪ ▪
The sixth day of the soft opening…
“Ahhh… finally got break…
Kamichi-san~ thanks for making bento for us…” I talked to the air.
“Wherever you are, **thank you very much.”
Just as Rin and I are about to enter the staff room with boxes wrapped in cloth at hand, we heard a voice.
“**Jin-san… You’ve got it wrong again. That’s not how you say it.”
“**We’re coming in~”
“**Sakato-senpai, Akanami-senpai. Good work today.”
“**You too, Ai-san and Jean.
It’s rare to see the two of you together. Teaching Jean Nihongo?”
“Yeah, Gin. I asked Ai-san to help me so language barrier won’t be much of a problem.”
“**Also, I heard you two talking earlier. So Ai-san can understand our language?”
“**Yes, I have studied a bit.”
“Well, well… I suppose Jean’s making friends now.”
“I guess… you could say that.”
“Have you two eaten lunch already?”
“Just a moment ago.”
“Well, don’t mind us and just continue with what you’re doing. We’ll just eat on the other table.”
“Nah, it’s okay. You can join us.”
“If you say so.”
“**I noticed that Sakato-senpai and Akanami-senpai are always together,” Ai-san pointed out.
“**You know, you could just call us with our first names, Ai-san. It’s a bit lengthy for the author to write it.”
“**I guess you can just call me Ringo-senpai?”
“Hey, you really like being called a senpai, huh. Rin?”
“Like you can talk, Gin.”
“**Are you two senpai dating?”
“**Oh? Did Jean tell you?”
“**It was so surprising when I first knew it since it’s hard to tell.”
“**Well, we really don’t look like a couple. If they don’t ask, we don’t answer. So it’s not like we’re hiding it.”
“**We’ll have our lunch then.”
We started eating while Jean is still being taught. Honestly, I think this is the first time I saw him interacting with a girl. Truly a sight to be surprised about.
“**So that’s how you say April.”
“Oh, I see…”
“Ah, now that I think about it… we can’t escape summer, huh.”
“After all, we only have a month of stay here.”
“**That’s right, Ai-san. You’re moving next month, right?”
“**It’s probably on the first week.”
“**We’re leaving at exactly the 1st of May so it’s quite close.”
“Gin, tomorrow’s our last day too.”
“Last day? What do you mean, Ringo?” Jean, who had no idea, asked.
“So Hiroomi didn’t tell Jean? Gin and I will only be present for the week of the soft-opening.”
“Hmm? Why is that?”
“The bosses are insistent on giving the two of us a vacation as thanks for us helping in the base with Rin and the things I contributed to.”
“Oh, by the way. Are your arms okay now, Gin?”
“Fully healed. It doesn’t really take a week.”
“**So you were injured, senpai?”
“**I’m always prone to accidents, and it just happened that my arms are recently done in by disasters. Haha…”
“Accidents…” she wondered.
“Speaking of accidents, have I ever told you about this scar on my left hand? I got this from cutting myself with a cutter…”
▪ ▪ ▪
Today is the last day of the soft opening.
“**Chef, this is bad! We have five orders of mozzarella right off the bat!”
“**Please inform them that it might take some time.
**Alright, everyone! It’s just the start of the day but let’s double our time!”
“Gin, you take care of all the dough and take charge of the directions with Ito-san!”
“**Akihiro-san, are the ovens heated?”
“Jean! Take care of the sauce. Rin, I trust you with the cheese!”
“**Two Napolitans done!”
“**Table 18 is asking for two cups of black coffee!”
“**Table 02 orders Mushroom Risotto!”
“**Table 11 wants three Carbonara!”
“**Mozzarella for Table 16, done!”
“**OmuRisotto for Table 25, done!”
“**Napolitans for Table 08, also done!”
An hour later…
“WE HAVE TO CLOSE TEMPORARILY FOR 45 MINUTES FOR MANAGEMENT OF PERSONNEL. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.”
…Is what was posted on the glass door along with the "Open" signage flipped to "Closed".
The situation above persists until the afternoon. There are still three open hours but we had to close for 45 minutes.
It is currently around 3pm and we are already dead tired.
“Ugh… that was tough…”
“Didn’t even think that we would have to go through that. To think that we’ll have to temporarily close.”
“Even though I can still move and I still have plenty of stamina, stress really doesn’t help at all…”
“Nothing in this world really goes well, huh. Gin?”
“Yeah… I’ve never experience this back home.
Still okay, Rin?”
“Let’s eat something and replenish our energy. I’m really hungry.”
“**Are there people waiting outside?”
“**I think it’s a guy from the building in front of us.”
I quickly ran off to the front door and looked outside to find anyone with a suit near the restaurant. I found someone sitting on the bench with a large plastic bag beside him.
“Oh… Hey there, Kaizo.”
“Woah, your sweat's pouring down…”
“Jean is here so I can’t have you entering even though I’d want to.”
“It’s okay. I’m just here to give this… rather… heavy… bag with me…! The company sent this to our neighbor. Please enjoy them and have a nice rest.”
“Thanks. This is a big help.”
“Consider it repaying you.
I’ll be off now.”
I cleared my throat and took a deep breath before opening the door. With the huge plastic bag on me, I opened the door and…
“**EVERYONE!!!!!! ANEW GAVE US LUNCH!!!!!!!!!”
And yes, we haven't eaten lunch.
Thus, the beasts inside them have finally awakened.
They shouted, they leapt, and ran like this is a battlefield of war. Here, we see wild beasts flocking over a great chunk of meat that came down from the sky.
~ ~ ~
“GIOTTO’S NORTH BRANCH WILL OFFICIALLY OPEN ON THURSDAY, APRIL 12. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!”
“With that, thank you all very much for the hard work!”
The night became the celebration of the successful week of the soft-opening of the restaurant. The others are drinking and others are eating and exchanging stories.
“Great work for us today…!”
Rin was about to droop.
“Ahhh… I feel so damn tired… Who would have thought!”
“**This will be your last day, Gin-san, Ringo-san.”
“**That’s right, Haru-san. But that doesn’t mean that we will not drop by here from time to time.”
“Hey~ Gin. You said you want to borrow a laptop right? Here,” Sean handed me out a laptop that I think it will slip on my hand because of how thin it is.
“**What’s that for Gin-senpai?”
“**I’ll make a call with my family. You guys can join in too. It’s okay.”
“Do you even remember your account, Gin?”
“Yeah. It’s been a while since I used Sk*pe but I still can remember it.
Oh, they’re finally connecting.”
“Are we connected? Oh, we are.
Hey, son. It’s been a week.”
“Oh, Ringo and other people are there too.”
“Nii! Nee-chan! It’s been a while.”
“Yo, Gin. Doing well?”
“Heya. We’re fine in here. Work just ended and they’re celebrating.”
A second after Rin talked, we heard someone knocking in the house.
“Yo, Amano! I heard my daughter’s voice so we’re crashing in!”
“Oi, Shuu! Just how sensitive are your ears?!”
“It’s been a while, Ringo-chan!”
“Your hair’s still tied… I’m crying…”
“So yeah… This is our families,” I turned to the two Japanese.
“Aside from Jean, there are new faces.”
“They are coworkers. This one here is Haru Hikari-san and next to her is Ai Hikari-san. They’re sisters.”
“So Gin… How’s your stay?”
“So far, it’s chaotic but fun. We’re currently at the resto so I will show you the place we stay at next time. Also, please blame Hiro and Sean for putting Rin and I under the same roof.
But don’t worry, Uncle Shuu. If something happens, punch me in the gut when we go back home. Also, the caretaker of the house is always there.”
“It’s also a traditional house so it’s quite comfy.”
“Jean, are you with them?”
“No, Aunt Senna. It’s as they said. They were separated from the rest of the crew.
But there is a hot spring in their place too.”
“Ohh… Getting the special treatment, I see.” Dad wryly teased.
“Nah… We almost died earlier at work. It’s nothing compared to my work back there.”
“Well, take care, musuko and try to avoid death again. Just kidding.”
“Hey, Uncle Shuu. Quit it with the dark jokes. I know that you're going to kill me if something happens to your daughter.”
“Don’t forget the camera, little sister.”
“Yeah, I got it.”
“The two of us will have the remainder of our stay for rest and probably vacation.
Sorry to say, Sis but I’ll be cutting my hair once I get home.”
“Well, we should probably end the call since I know you’re all tired. Go home early and get some rest.”
“I want something anime related as a souvenir, Nii.”
“Well then, take care.”
Ahhh… that’s shorter than I expected.”
“**Senpai… it just looks like all of you are already family…”
“**Hahahaha… It’s inevitable since we’re all neighbors.”
“But it’s nice to see them again."
“Yeah… I always think two years is long but just this one week felt like an eternity. Wow, I miss them already.”
“Let’s call Nagi and company next time.”
“I hope we can hook up Akira too.”
“Hey~ you two, can you come here in front?” Hiro called out.
“Yeah, sure… Is this a speech?”
“Just wing it.”
“**Hey, everyone. You probably know that Rin and I won’t be around anymore at the official opening and onwards. We will be taking our time off for the rest of our stay in this country but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be going back anymore.
**If we’re available, we can easily be called and we’ll be here. I may just be an acting sous chef of this branch for the soft-opening but I’m still a chef of Giotto’s.”
“**Thank you very much for giving me this experience. It is my first time working in a restaurant and I will definitely apply what I have learned from all of you.
**Even if it’s just a short time, I really had so much fun and I’ll treasure this experience.”
“**Well, this won’t be the last and I know we will all see you next time.”
That wraps up 004!
Nope, this arc won't end yet! I just unconsciously write like that.
Thank you for reading!
005: Data sounds like date so why not Pt.2