Chapter 11:

011 – Back Again, Once Again

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

"Mmmmm… Ugh…"Bookmark here

This poorly projected vision of mine tells me of some things as I try to slowly open my eyes.Bookmark here

I woke up, with the light coming from my rightmost perspective instead of simply being unable to see the rays as I was used to get up with the light shining on my back.Bookmark here

I am also laid down in a bed that is not leveled to the floor. And when I once again look on my right, I only see the white wall, instead of someone soundly sleeping beside me. As if it was a work of art where the light shone to her with such depth.Bookmark here

I have finally come to the realization once again that in reality, I live alone in this awfully big house for one person.Bookmark here

"I almost forgot that this was formerly owned by some bourgeoisie. Yawn~Bookmark here

Man, I really hate to say but my room is a square meter larger than our room in that house."Bookmark here

Actually, my measurements against tatami mats are barely accurate.Bookmark here

As it slowly sinks in to me, I took the time to find the clock in this room to check how long I was asleep. No pun intended.Bookmark here

"7:56… Ah, I got so used to a different time zone. Better adjust it a bit."Bookmark here

Sat on the bed, I realized that I do not have anything to do today aside from unpacking things out and sorting out the house again.Bookmark here

"Back to the normal life, I guess.Bookmark here

Hmm…"Bookmark here

I opened the window of the room and all that is heard are the occasional passing by of vehicles and the chirping of the birds. My sweat quickly poured down as my body accepts the fact that it is still summer in this country.Bookmark here

It is quite a surprise as to how there is a difference in the climate and weather here and in Japan although it is geographically near to each other.Bookmark here

"Wait… is today still really Tuesday? It felt like it was a day ago when Rin and I were on the roof.Bookmark here

Speaking of Rin… it's awfully quiet around their house. Did they seriously made Uncle Shuu shut up…?Bookmark here

Oh well, I might as well greet the family. I hope Anna likes what I will give to her."Bookmark here

Meanwhile, in the family house of Sakato.Bookmark here

"Okā. Did our son tell you what time he'll be back?"Bookmark here

"Huh? I thought you've heard from him, Otō."Bookmark here

"Better not ask me, Dad, Mom. He doesn't really message me with that."Bookmark here

"What about you, Anna?"Bookmark here

"I also have no news…"Bookmark here

The thought of the son, or the brother coming home from the northern country suddenly came to their minds as it seems that they have not heard of Gin's arrival.Bookmark here

The family was left in confusion as the television is turned on, tuned to the morning news.Bookmark here

However, there seem to be a faint sound coming from somewhere inside the house, but is being muffled by the loud sound of the electric fan and the volume of television, leaving the noise unheard.Bookmark here

"Pardon me~Bookmark here

The back door is unlocked again so I just entered without notice. Also, I took some eggs in the fridge since there's no food in my house yet.Bookmark here

Mmm. Got 'em fluffy today."Bookmark here

The four are still silenced as they focus their eyes and ears to what they are watching. But after several seconds, they all simultaneously rotated their heads to their left as they blankly stared on the person that sat on the dining table.Bookmark here

"Finally, you all looked."Bookmark here

Without any ado, this older brother of mine stood up and walked towards me, ready to chop my head with his right hand.Bookmark here

"Ow."Bookmark here

"Just be thankful that I didn't kick you in the face, okay?"Bookmark here

"Hahahaha. So you still remember that."Bookmark here

"Nii…!"Bookmark here

"Gin, welcome back."Bookmark here

"Yo, son. It's been a while."Bookmark here

"Yep. It's been a crazy while.Bookmark here

Here, Anna. I really can't think of something to give you so I went with a huge plushie bean pillow with a chibi Kyouka Izumi eating tofu. And a Kim* no Na wa braided cord (which was especially made from the rural)."Bookmark here

"So cute…!"Bookmark here

"When did you even get home, Gin?"Bookmark here

"Just an hour ago, Mom. Kind of slept as soon as I landed down on my bed.Bookmark here

Seriously… it looks like ages ago when I was on the roof…"Bookmark here

"You flew that early?"Bookmark here

"If I have that kind of schedule, it'll seriously be a pain."Bookmark here

"I think we flew at six earlier, southern time, of course."Bookmark here

"How's the vacation, anyways?"Bookmark here

"Aside from granddad's story being known already, I'd say that it was an insane experience.Bookmark here

Meeting new people and becoming an anime character and all."Bookmark here

"Anime character…?"Bookmark here

"My fault for not telling you things. An animated character was heavily based on me with my traits, personality, appearance and some of my life story. I agreed to use a similar name for that and afterwards thought that I was a bit careless.Bookmark here

There is even a contract for that…Bookmark here

I hope that it won't pose a problem as my being is a quasi-identity as an Exile."Bookmark here

"W-Wow…"Bookmark here

"Also, I am soon to tell you something that may be a conflict in the future and me finding my own self may just have a connection to it."Bookmark here

"Well, let's leave that for later and focus on what's what right now.Bookmark here

Have you taken your rest already, Gin?"Bookmark here

"The sleep earlier helped, Dad."Bookmark here

"Alright-Bookmark here

If you're here, you went home with Ringo, then."Bookmark here

"Of course, Dad. That's just how it falls into place now. You're used to it anyways."Bookmark here

"Hahh… Son, just give her a ring, would 'ya?"Bookmark here

"Eh?!"Bookmark here

That seriously took me off my guard.Bookmark here

"Hahahaha. Jokes aside, I'm surprised that I didn't hear Shuu shouting from a few blocks away."Bookmark here

"That… I'm kind of worried about him.Bookmark here

Anyway, you were saying something?"Bookmark here

"Ah, I'm planning on inviting Shuu's family tonight on the plateau, since you arrived well and all."Bookmark here

"If it is at night, I guess that would be fine. I'll be sure to drop by later."Bookmark here

"What, do you have plans?"Bookmark here

"Don't you go saying that you two will go on a date right after coming home."Bookmark here

"Nah, that's not it, Kei.Bookmark here

I'll ask her to come with me to visit grandpa. I want to give his grave some words."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

If you say so."Bookmark here

"Well, I'll have to go sort out the house and do some shopping. I will also eat lunch here.Bookmark here

See you later."Bookmark here

"Sure."Bookmark here

"I just realized that this will be the first in a long time that I won't eat Rin's food.Bookmark here

It was worthwhile and I don't think it won't be happening any time soon.Bookmark here

Unless…"Bookmark here

I was suddenly visited by an imagination in which I saw a silhouette of a back of a woman on an apron and a ladle on her hand.Bookmark here

The sight slowly cleared as she turns her head towards me. Shining as the light is, it looked as if her bright smile does not know of darkness.Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

This is your fault, Dad."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

"Yo, musuko! It's been a while, I'd say!"Bookmark here

"Are you okay, Uncle? You're not hurt anywhere are you?!"Bookmark here

"Hahahahahaha…! This son of mine sure worries a lot about his father-in-law huh?! Oh, I'm so glad of your concern!"Bookmark here

"First. It was Dad and now…"Bookmark here

Seriously. What is up with these two old men?Bookmark here

"Hey, Sis. Sorry, I have no hair ties."Bookmark here

"Owww… Anyways, welcome back."Bookmark here

"Oh, Potato."Bookmark here

"Who's 'Potato?!'" is what's probably on their minds with faces of surprise rendered.Bookmark here

"I got to sleep a bit. How about you?"Bookmark here

"I woke up just before you came here. What's up?"Bookmark here

"My family is inviting you all to the plateau later tonight."Bookmark here

"Oh? Are we going for drinking again?"Bookmark here

"NO, Uncle. It's just for dinner.Bookmark here

Rin, surely you have nothing to do today?"Bookmark here

"Totally none."Bookmark here

"I'll visit a grave later. Can you come with me?"Bookmark here

"So it was your grandfather. Alright, I'll go with you."Bookmark here

"Great. I will probably knock in the afternoon. Can't go walking around in this heat."Bookmark here

"Why don't you have lunch with us, Potato?"Bookmark here

"Sorry, Auntie. I already told my family that I'll be eating with them.Bookmark here

See you all later."Bookmark here

"Bye, Potato."Bookmark here

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"Dear daughter, why 'potato?'"Bookmark here

"Ehehehe~ It's just random."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

It indeed felt like running the house back was more difficult than the time I moved out. With the addition of the never changing extreme heat, it was harder to move around outside as I do my shopping to fill in the fridge once again.Bookmark here

As much of a clean freak I was then and now, dust still managed to accumulate in the things that I covered well. My computer was not an exception as it broke temporarily due to the dusts.Bookmark here

The blue screen of death appeared three times and took some years off of my life.Bookmark here

But in four hours, I thankfully managed the house back to its glory.Bookmark here

Oh, I forgot to pick up Haku at the family house.Bookmark here

Lunch started anyways.Bookmark here

"So Gin… Care to give us a summary of your experience in Japan?"Bookmark here

"Hmm… Where should I start I wonder.Bookmark here

I guess I'll have to explain first as to how it came down to Rin and I lived under a single roof.Bookmark here

We were framed up, basically. I didn't get a hint that my bosses are plotting something. I was ready to refuse, but I was pulled in by the onsen. It was a lovely house, by the way."Bookmark here

"I guess that's pretty much what you would expect in a traditional house."Bookmark here

I stood up and walked towards the door as I spoke.Bookmark here

"Kei, that's quite a good opportunity to travel to the North with Shiina, don't you think?Bookmark here

Right, Onee-san?" I opened the door as I welcome my brother's girlfriend that didn't knock.Bookmark here

"Ah, G-Gin…Bookmark here

Sorry I am late."Bookmark here

"How did you even know, Gin?"Bookmark here

"My ears, Kei. My ears. That's all.Bookmark here

Anyways, have a seat, Onee-san. A plate is ready for you."Bookmark here

"Why don't you continue telling stories, then?"Bookmark here

"Ah, Gin went to Japan, right?"Bookmark here

"That's right, Onee-san.Bookmark here

The work atmosphere is really different from what I was used to. Even though it was just a week and extra days, people of Kyoto are quite the hungry ones I'd say.Bookmark here

Oh, Arashiyama. That place is simply beautiful. Though, I probably overreacted because it was a date…Bookmark here

I actually don't have that much pictures because we primarily used Rin's camera.Bookmark here

There's also the time where I played the piano and Rin has her violin for an animation company that reserved the resto for a day. If we didn't perform, we probably won't be the cast of the anime they're working on.Bookmark here

Aside from my homesickness and grandpa's situation, there's nothing more that is worth telling."Bookmark here

"Hehhh… Really."Bookmark here

"Yeah, yeah. Not telling you anymore, Anna."Bookmark here

"Ehhhh."Bookmark here

"Well, I guess there are times that I was recognized by people because of the interview.Bookmark here

Anna, do you want to see a sketch of me by an artist of Kyoko Animation? I probably looked better in 2D than 3D."Bookmark here

"I wanna see. I wanna see. The poster will surely be so cute with you and Nee-chan, you know?!"Bookmark here

"Speaking of which, you haven't seen Rin, have you, Onee-san?"Bookmark here

"If you're talking about your girlfriend, I haven't."Bookmark here

"Just so you know, Gin. She'll be here until dinner."Bookmark here

"Is that so. Then that's a good opportunity to meet her. Onee-san, you play the violin, right?"Bookmark here

"Yes. I played for recitals in the past."Bookmark here

"You'll probably get along, then."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

The time is just before the arm hits the clock to four. The sun is still bright, but the temperature only dropped by a margin.Bookmark here

Once again, we are on our slippers.Bookmark here

"Let's go, Gin."Bookmark here

"I'll go buy flowers on the way."Bookmark here

As we were walking, we stopped by the Giotto's which is still under renovations. Just as I thought, the workers are all Exiles.Bookmark here

I was told that the other Exiles are in disguise as they are partnering with other construction companies. And amazingly, the gymnasium—which is the biggest structure to be built in the school was finished in less than a month.Bookmark here

"They're superb engineers and workers."Bookmark here

Before the light of the sun turns orange, we arrived in front of a certain gravestone.Bookmark here

"Haven't seen you in a while, gramps.Bookmark here

Seriously, you could have just told us when you're still around, you know. What do you know; I might even be back to my old self earlier."Bookmark here

"So he starts with scolding a gravestone…"Bookmark here

"But I will always be grateful to you, gramps. You made me understood what our cooking really means. Though, I regret not discovering it earlier.Bookmark here

It's not that I'm rushing things. But what I really wished is to tell you that face to face. Sadly, it won't happen anymore.Bookmark here

You know what, gramps? I have a girlfriend now. She's right here with me. I'd say that she really is quite lovely and sweet. This is the only way I can introduce her to you since… you know. Haha.Bookmark here

Well, it was a short visit but I'll put the flowers down here. I hope the wind will not take it. See you again, grandpa."Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"Gin, let's stop by Zen Park."Bookmark here

"Yeah… sure."Bookmark here

"Wait, you're not forgetting something, are you?"Bookmark here

"…?Bookmark here

Ah, I'll leave it at that date. Let's take a rest at Zen Park while we're going there."Bookmark here

Sat on the bed of grass, we enjoyed the rare blowing of the wind as we both stare at the lake, reflecting the clear blue sky. The trees around the lake caught the radiant light of the sun and the wind makes the water wave.Bookmark here

“We’re in Orio now, so…”Bookmark here

“Gin? Is your mind still in Japan? Get a grip.”Bookmark here

“No, not that. We’re in Orio now so I guess it’s safe to tell you.”Bookmark here

“Huh…?”Bookmark here

“Well, Jean is slowly nudging himself near to Ai-san.”Bookmark here

“Huh?! So he fancies Ai-san?”Bookmark here

“Vice versa.”Bookmark here

“What?! That’s even more surprising! So that’s the reason why he talked to you at that time. What did he tell you?”Bookmark here

“I seriously didn’t have any idea of that, you know. I was also just as surprised as you when I first heard.Bookmark here

He said it all started when Jean was taking overtime in the resto and apparently, he was always accompanied by Ai-san so she ended up being an assistant, or rather… partner, I guess.Bookmark here

Those two are actually cheesy, you know-“Bookmark here

“Not like we’re any different when we started our relationship.”Bookmark here

“Ahahaha. I can’t argue with that.Bookmark here

But you do remember the time when they did a sick visit, right? Stuff happened when you told them about the view at the terrace. And then the ‘The moon is beautiful, isn’t it?’ pattern rose.Bookmark here

What’s more, Jean already introduced himself into Ai-san’s parents and will court her in Orions’ way.”Bookmark here

“Ah… We really could learn a thing or two from Jean…”Bookmark here

“I can’t argue with that too…Bookmark here

Bookmark here

I’m confused, though. I knew why Jean went out briefly earlier in the airport. He just met up with Ai-san, but what I’m confused about is that Haru-san just straight up talked to me in our language like it’s as easy as breathing.”Bookmark here

“Really? I didn’t know that.”Bookmark here

“So did I.Bookmark here

But I guess we can assume that Ai-san, or even her family knows our language well which is quite surprising.”Bookmark here

“So that answers why he was always fired up.”Bookmark here

“Probably. Oh, Mom’s calling.Bookmark here

Hello?”Bookmark here

“Are you still at the cemetery, Gin?”Bookmark here

“We left earlier. Currently at the Zen Park, taking a rest.”Bookmark here

“Do you want us to pick you up there?”Bookmark here

“Ah, no need, Mom. We’ll go back home anyways. And the plateau is on the other side of the road.”Bookmark here

“Okay. We will travel at around five, so be back quickly.”Bookmark here

“Got it.”Bookmark here

*beep*Bookmark here

“Almost dinner time, Rin.”Bookmark here

“Let’s go, then.”Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Going back a few hours, Jean is seen sat face to face with his brother inside the visiting room of the prison.Bookmark here

Alex Ando, 23, was unjustifiably accused of murdering a classmate from college, and is currently behind bars with the said act that he did not do.Bookmark here

“Hey there, Jean. Looking fine, are you?”Bookmark here

“I’m glad that you look fine too, bro.”Bookmark here

“I heard you went to Japan for apprenticeship? Look at you being an apprentice chef now.”Bookmark here

“Yeah. I actually just got home early this morning.”Bookmark here

“Shouldn’t you be resting instead of coming here? You’re tired, right?”Bookmark here

“That doesn’t matter. I just want to talk with you right now. I have lots of stories to tell you.”Bookmark here

“If that’s the case, I’m all ears. The guard today is quite lenient.”Bookmark here

“First, of course I have to tell you this too, because… let’s just say that I am seeing someone.”Bookmark here

“Ohhh… who’s the girl?”Bookmark here

“Ah… well… She’s actually in Japan, as we got to know each other at work. Though, I don’t really know if I can talk to her much since they will be moving somewhere.”Bookmark here

“Have you told her already? You know, even though Japan is near, that’s still long-distance.”Bookmark here

“It’s mutual…”Bookmark here

“Oh! Hahahaha. Look at you getting ahead of me. I thought you’re still a child but now you’re aiming for a relationship.Bookmark here

You have my support, of course.”Bookmark here

“Thanks…Bookmark here

Then let’s move on. Bro, I think there’s a possibility of you being released. Though, I am speaking with very tiny certainty as I speak.”Bookmark here

“T-That’s hard to believe… with the corruption and all…”Bookmark here

“This isn’t any simple thing, bro. We can probably reopen the investigation of your case and get you out of the prison. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about Juno Artecus, right?”Bookmark here

“That cop? He’s the all famous detective of Orio, right?”Bookmark here

“Yeah. I have a friend that got to work with him a few times. I can have him talk with you before contacting the detective. I’m ensuring you that they’re not tainted with any corruption at all.Bookmark here

And maybe, we could also expose the corruption here to the public. Please, don’t lose hope, bro. I’ve learned a lot about this dark reality, and I can at least understand your distrust and despair. But this could be the turning point—the hope we sought for.”Bookmark here

The sour expression of the brother did not even change at all. His eyes can’t look at the eyes of his younger brother. But the look of Jean is brave and unwavering.Bookmark here

“Of course I have reasons as to why I’m doing this for you, brother; selfish ones too. You are my family and we will never abandon you. You’ve worked hard to finish studying, and you promised us a better life.Bookmark here

But I have realized that I have my responsibilities too. And this time, I will be the one to promise you that we will free you out from here and I will strive to establish my own definition of what is a ‘better life.’Bookmark here

And also… I just want to brag about how much of a cook I have become. Of course, I want my whole family to witness this path I have taken, and I am grateful to those who made me push harder to be who I am right now… and that includes you, bro.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

It seems as though that those words melted the steeled despair that was haunting the heart and will of the older brother, Alex. His grip loosened, and his eyes shook with the tears that are about to fall down.Bookmark here

“Geez… There’s no way I can turn you down now…Bookmark here

I’ll leave my hands on you, Jean. You know, I’m quite sad that I didn’t even know that you’ve grown this much. Now I feel bad for only sitting out this two years sulking on my cell.”Bookmark here

“You’ve heard me earlier, bro.Bookmark here

I will.”Bookmark here

“Time is over, Alex. Go back to your cell now,” the jail guard told after approaching our table.Bookmark here

“Then I have a dumb question before I go back, Jean…Bookmark here

Did the girl told you that she’ll wait for you or something? Because you’ll be making me wait too.”Bookmark here

“Ah-“Bookmark here

With that, he left the room leaving him in a thought that just got in to Jean’s mind.Bookmark here

“She was happy and all… and even though those were just words of my fantasizing…”Bookmark here

“Ai didn’t tell me. Oh… that really made me nervous.Bookmark here

But even if what I’m thinking is possible, there’s a narrow chance for that to happen.”Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Around sundown at the plateau…Bookmark here

“Potato, look at the sky.”Bookmark here

“Oh. Haven’t seen an airplane fly while it is sunset. Quite a good view, I’d say.Bookmark here

This steak is so tender, though. Here, Rin. Have a taste,” and the fork on my hand fed her with the beef.Bookmark here

“Mmm. That’s quite good. This place sure serves great food.”Bookmark here

“Yeah. Let’s go back together some time.”

Chapter Message:Bookmark here

You have finished 011!Bookmark here

In retrospect, while this story is all over the place, this is still a slice of life.Bookmark here

I would like to preface that the covers that are to come are probably illustrated something like a year ago then progressively. They get better overtime. Anyway, cover has been updated and it features Jean Ando and Hikari Ai!Bookmark here

Thank you for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

012: I don't know if this works accurately but "nichijou" means everyday life. Also, Nichijou is a really good anime.Bookmark here

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