Chapter 36:

036 – Did We Hear that Right?

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

Prior to the time when it was still winter-spring break…Bookmark here

"Wow. So you didn't ask Eiji about this, Nagi? I was just surprised that you personally asked for help. But at least, I'm glad that I'm still being relied on even when I'm no longer human."Bookmark here

"Glad to hear that. I've told you the gist of it. If it is doable, I will also ask if I can stay here for a bit of time. I do feel the need of a new environment…Bookmark here

I think I can't understand people well."Bookmark here

Nagi, who suddenly came to the underground base of the Exiles, explained the circumstances to Ken one day in the break.Bookmark here

"You're always welcome. You are a companion after all," he said as he removed his mask.Bookmark here

Nagi was once again left dumbfounded seeing the seemingly faceless Exiles. This was his second time entering the base but he was not alone at that point. Now that he came by himself, he managed to finally take a good look with how it is to live a life as an Exile.Bookmark here

"Well, let's have a seat."Bookmark here

The base is for the most part open without any dividing walls aside from rooms; even with the space they had. The living room was basically open to anyone with the numerous couches and carpets surrounding it.Bookmark here

Nagi did not expect that the Exiles will actually interact with a 'human' but they are casually greeting each other like normal. A child then sat on his lap, behaved and gave him a bright smile which Nagi was obviously caught confounded.Bookmark here

Nonetheless, he let the child on him while they talk. He was more surprised that the child was very well behaved.Bookmark here

"So about the favor?"Bookmark here

"Ah, yes. I heard that you are part of the engineering and research of the unnamed material. I know that this part will be easy… or so I think, so I am requesting you to make a pair of glasses for me."Bookmark here

"Okay… Totally doable. But why us when you can just prescribe one outside?"Bookmark here

"Because this may be the hard part of it. Surely you've heard of the glasses that gives color blind people ability to properly see colors with a pair of glasses. That's a given but even I can't still say that it works without primary data."Bookmark here

"Yeah, you have a point."Bookmark here

"What I wish for is the opposite of that."Bookmark here

"Woah-"Bookmark here

"If possible, I want to see what a color blind person sees. Not the ordinary cases, but the color blindness that will completely disable you from seeing any color."Bookmark here

Ken stood up, "Oi, Nagi… Do you understand the consequence of what you're trying to do? Even I don't think I can comprehend how those people feel, but Nagi… this could deal a long term mental stress to you!"Bookmark here

"That is my objective, though unfortunately."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

I've warned you, Nagi. If you do this for even a short time, your life will never be the same. Dare I say, you are stepping in the doors of where Eiji and I went to long ago.Bookmark here

If possible you have to tell Shiro before anyone else."Bookmark here

"I will try…"Bookmark here

"If you're really resolved to doing this, then I really do suggest you stay here for a little while. Try to talk with the other Exiles. Ask them about their experiences. It's not just trying to understand how the person in question feels, but also understanding the others who understood.Bookmark here

I can tell that Ringo has that experience. I've known that she often visits even without Eiji. Even as a Subordinate, she knows the Exiles well.Bookmark here

And while we're at it, I guess I should give you a rundown of what to expect with our unnamed material."Bookmark here

"Uhh… sure. I think I'll need that."Bookmark here

"So… that material in simple terms is nearly indestructible. It also has very versatile properties which can be glass-like and even be garment. You all probably know this, but all the windows in Blue Ink are made up of that.Bookmark here

As for the clothing we used, we managed to upgrade it more after the confrontation in the Square. The first one that shot Eiji was the first version of it, so it did not absorb much of the shock of the bullet. So it still dealt pain for him, although minimal. Of course it's way beyond the capabilities of Kevlar since it literally ricochets bullets.Bookmark here

That is how we currently utilize its uses along with our masks. But the surprising thing about that material is its insane durability. Put it on Mohs Scale of Hardness and it will be off the charts! It's waaaaaaay ahead of the diamond.Bookmark here

If I were to put it to simple words… It's more like-"Bookmark here

"Something like Vibraniu-"Bookmark here

"YOU WERE A LETTER AWAY FROM SAYING THAT. So stop right there."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Nagi's request was, even to Ken's surprise, made possible with the technology of the Exiles to regulate their own material. A few days after his visit, the pair of glasses he asked for was finished.Bookmark here

All they needed was Nagi's data to call the project a success. And indeed it was. They have successfully attempted and managed to block the passage of colors to the cone cells through the glass. However bright the light was, all that Nagi saw at that time was 'life' fading right in front of his eyes.Bookmark here

A little time passed and Nagi had interacted with the unique experiences of the Exiles. Although he was looking in monochromacy, he felt the sincerity and was moved.Bookmark here

But his stay in the base did not end well, as Ken expected at least. He holed himself up in his room for a few days and did not answer to the Exiles' calls. That is, because the mental rebound of continuously being blinded from colors finally came.Bookmark here

He learned how negativity, darkness and despair felt in one's heart.Bookmark here

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I tried my best to summarize my experience. This is Nagi, by the way. Narrator, can I go now?Bookmark here

Yes, you can. Thank you for your input.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

And just like that, the mic came back to me. Code 027, narrating again.Bookmark here

And if you're wondering what I am doing right now, I just started running. I am literally just thirty meters away from my house. Don't worry, I won't be gasping like a dog since what you're reading are all coming from my head.Bookmark here

Mentioning that, you would probably remember that I invited Rin to run 15km, and today is that day, which means that this is just the next day after Nagi and Shiro's plots.Bookmark here

For everyone's sake, think of rainbows and sparkles.Bookmark here

That was quite a scene that even I don't think I can pull off easily. I suddenly remembered the beginning of the rumors when we were fourth years because we played with paint that was mixed to look like blood. It did scare a lot of students and they became fearful of the Art Club. Thinking back on that…Bookmark here

I can seriously imagine Nagi saying, "That's cute."Bookmark here

Not only did he dye his own uniform to look like so much blood was loss, he even changed the scent of the paint and placed a bag of it on his body just to look like it was really flowing out. Again, rainbows and sparkles.Bookmark here

But if I were to say, I do believe that he has a knack of acting or playing dead. He's not on the same level as Ken though.Bookmark here

But who would have thought that it actually worked to put Mori to his senses. He was able to once again see colors, and finally moved on from the death of his parents. The risk was too high for being able to use his most feared weakness to turn him around, but things worked on the favor of Nagi, thankfully.Bookmark here

With that being out of the way…Bookmark here

"Say, Rin… When was the last time you ran?"Bookmark here

"I did morning jogs back in Kyoto since you always wake up late."Bookmark here

"Ahh… I remember you saying that at some point. Oh, that's when we met Shun-kun, huh."Bookmark here

"You're right about that, Aniki."Bookmark here

"Ahaha. Stop impersonating him, Rin. It doesn't suit you at all."Bookmark here

"Oh, shut up.Bookmark here

But I wonder how the guys in Japan branch are doing."Bookmark here

"Ugh… If only Japan was reachable with a car… I have no money to go anyway…!"Bookmark here

"And then there's Yuzuri-san too."Bookmark here

"Yugare-san surprisingly had good tastes in women."Bookmark here

"Hahahaha…! I didn't even believe that they were dating at first."Bookmark here

"Who would believe that a plain guy like him would get a girlfriend that can cook better than me."Bookmark here

"You're plainer than him, you know."Bookmark here

"You could say that again.Bookmark here

Oh? We're already at 8km. Want to take a break, Rin?"Bookmark here

"Yeah… I might get dehydrated if we don't."Bookmark here

"Oi, you could have said sooner."Bookmark here

"Sorry."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

"Potato…"Bookmark here

"Hmm?"Bookmark here

"Are you sure you don't know what's wrong with Sis?"Bookmark here

"Hahh… Really. I don't have any idea what's up with her.Bookmark here

Share half of the water at least."Bookmark here

"So I really am the least weird in my family, huh… I feel so proud."Bookmark here

"Uhh… What?"Bookmark here

"Even Mom and Dad are acting like Sis on cloud nine. They have flowers floating around them!"Bookmark here

"Ah, well. I thought I was the only one suffering from sweeping fallen petals. Haku even tried to scratch her because he got so annoyed on her face."Bookmark here

"Pfft… Did that really happen…? Hahahaha…!"Bookmark here

"It sure did. You know, Haku's quite an intelligent cat. Even I didn't think he would be so smart."Bookmark here

"I don't really notice it… That's so hilarious."Bookmark here

"Sure, you can't since the cheeky guy likes sleeping on your lap. No way I'm jealous of him."Bookmark here

"Ehh… really~?"Bookmark here

"Look… I obviously have more than ten times his weight."Bookmark here

"Ahh. Fair enough.Bookmark here

Here, water."Bookmark here

"Let's go back to running."Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

I have to admit that I was surprised that Rin paced with me in that 15-kilometer run. Truly, I underestimated her physical ability since I rarely see her exercise… and gained weight from stress eating because of me.Bookmark here

One running session is of course not enough to burn all those calories so I gave her different sets that she has to do regularly. Well, isn’t my girlfriend hardworking these days.Bookmark here

Rin's case is not much of a conflict… because there is something way worse than that.Bookmark here

"I'm back~Bookmark here

A little tired…"Bookmark here

"Welcome back, Gin."Bookmark here

"Oh, Mom. Preparing for lunch? That's quite unusual. Did you do all the shopping?"Bookmark here

"I did~"Bookmark here

"Thanks.Bookmark here

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WAIT. You're not my mom."Bookmark here

I was blinded… there was, for a moment, a homely feel that only have I ever felt from Mom, Aunt Sumi, Rin and Yuzuri-san.Bookmark here

How in the world did it infect Sis?!Bookmark here

There isn't even a point of denial. I was pulled by that feeling. I know that she can cook above average, but she rarely does because of her workload. And now… She's even with an apron… diligently preparing a meal for lunch that even she shopped for.Bookmark here

Please. Someone declare state of calamity in my residence!Bookmark here

Where the heck did the bright, gentle smile come from?! Even I was subconsciously taken aback when she opened the door for me just after we finished running. And then the vibe of the house is completely different…Bookmark here

Heck, even Haku turned 180 towards Sis!Bookmark here

But in all seriousness, the feeling of watching her back as she stood in front of the kitchen counter was somewhat nostalgic. It reminds me of the times that I felt so much anticipation in seeing that, but I failed to show. I regretted my lack of sincerity, but this time, I feel like I can fulfill the honesty that I failed to show grandfather many times. As though I came back to the past, it is time to correct my wrongs.Bookmark here

And in hindsight, there is an overlapping scene in my head from the view of my kitchen. No, it was not just this, but ever since I was received from the door, there was a revolving thought. It was as if I was looking at three people… and especially with Sis, I was put into a daze of a certain silhouette of a woman standing on the same spot even after knowing that the scene I saw never existed…Bookmark here

…yet.Bookmark here

Realizing that I was losing my thoughts, I slapped my face on both sides with my hands.Bookmark here

"Something wrong?"Bookmark here

"Nothing. I was just thinking that you're stuck with your little brother when the husband is still at work," I joked. "I'll just take a shower and go back down once I'm done. Thanks for making lunch, Sis."Bookmark here

"Ahahaha. Don't joke like that."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

After going down with a towel still on my head, I saw Rin sitting on the kotatsu.Bookmark here

"Eating lunch here, Rin?"Bookmark here

"Sis actually invited me," she whispered.Bookmark here

I stood still while I looked at Rin with the same confused thoughts. Then I watched Sis in front of the stove. Slowly, my head tilted as I began to walk.Bookmark here

"I understand why," I also replied with a whisper.Bookmark here

I came out to hang my towel under the sun, and a thought suddenly came to my mind which Kuro even agreed to.Bookmark here

"Sis is actually amazing."Bookmark here

It was a small detail, but I realized that what Sis was making for lunch was for Rin to balance out her diet. Not only that, it did seem that she was taking mind of food that however many times I have conquered, I just can't like. I did not see anything of that sort.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Lunch time.Bookmark here

"**Thank you for the food."Bookmark here

Basically, it's cringey to straight up write 'itadakimasu.'Bookmark here

"Ah, Sis. I'll be going to work after I eat. My boss asked me to come in my day off because the crew is shorthanded. I'll be back by sundown."Bookmark here

"Ehhh. That hasn't happened in ages. What happened in the resto?" asked Rin in concern.Bookmark here

"Well, Sean was the one who asked me since Hiro apparently is resting the following half-day."Bookmark here

"Then what do you want for dinner, Gin? I bet it's a huge wave in your work later."Bookmark here

"Hmm. I'm fine with anything you make, Sis. I'll bring home donuts, then.Bookmark here

By the way, you're seriously nailing this, Sis."Bookmark here

"Ahahaha. Thanks. I kinda got absorbed in cooking."Bookmark here

While I was continuously shoving my spoonful of the delicious meal, I was unnoticeably looking suspiciously at Sis. I was unable to hold in what I wanted to ask.Bookmark here

"Sis. If I may not be so rude to ask… Did something happen to you?"Bookmark here

"Uhh…?"Bookmark here

She stopped her fork and looked as though she wanted me to explain.Bookmark here

So I did, "Well… I find it unusual for you to be doing this, bluntly. You're usually stuck in your work most of the time, but I came home from running today and see you prepare lunch for me.Bookmark here

Actually, you've been acting differently since Monday."Bookmark here

"Guhh-!" suddenly, Rin choked and drank. "I remember now…!" in a husky voice.Bookmark here

"Rin?"Bookmark here

"This happened a few years ago in the house. Maybe… five years!Bookmark here

Sis is acting exactly the same as that time in the past. But it's weird! Even Mom and Dad is acting so fluffy like how Sis is right now…!"Bookmark here

"She said fluffy…" I can't help but repeat.Bookmark here

"Lil Sis, you talk as if I'm not here."Bookmark here

"But I'm just saying the truth, Sis. If I recall, you were 19 at that time."Bookmark here

"Oh, yeah. You're about to turn 25 next month." I teased.Bookmark here

"Why did you even bring that up, Gin?Bookmark here

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I guess something did happen. You guys are busy so I'll tell you in a later time."Bookmark here

"Ehhhh."Bookmark here

Even I who always keep answers in the shadows was overwhelmed by not knowing what is really up with her.Bookmark here

But my lunch passed quickly and I headed out for work. When I thought that I was finally away from weird things… I shouldn't have entered the staff room.Bookmark here

"What the… Why is it so hot in here? Sean~! Why's the break room so hot?"Bookmark here

"For crying out loud, it still hasn't died down…Bookmark here

Blame Hiro for the heat!"Bookmark here

It was pretty evident that Sean was a bit mad. I wonder what Hiro did-Bookmark here

"…"Bookmark here

Even my monologue was interrupted.Bookmark here

I saw Hiro lying down on the couch… but even when he is at rest, his energy was so lit with flames that it almost burns in the skin.Bookmark here

Without further disturbance, I came out to fold newspapers like a fan and taped them.Bookmark here

Seconds after, the customers heard a loud whack.Bookmark here

An hour later, he came back to work with considerably lesser wave of heat from him. But I kind of figured out why Hiro had to take a rest after the day shift.Bookmark here

I'm not even joking. Hiro's efficiency and performance is around eight times more than he do. Sean even told me that he hasn’t seen Hiro work like that.Bookmark here

All I can do was watch him as I sarcastically clapped in sincere amazement. I forgot to work for twenty minutes while the other chefs wondered why I was just standing.Bookmark here

If I try, I can work without my neck budging.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Exactly the next week, Rin and I ran 15 kilometers again. Seven days have passed, but Sis still never told us about the sudden change. The same situation where she was doing housewife-like work persisted.Bookmark here

And if ever you do remember that Uncle Shuu always shouts "It's Wednesday my dudes!" every Wednesday, that's because the Sakato and Akanami family get together for the night, right? Well, the Akanami household is the one that prepared just this Wednesday, but Sis took care of it all.Bookmark here

As expected, the dinner was so good.Bookmark here

That being out of the way, we came back from running and asked Sis again like it was as regular as breathing.Bookmark here

"I will be resigning on my current work at the end of February."Bookmark here

.Bookmark here

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We ran (again) away from my house.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

"W-Why are you resigning, Sis…?"Bookmark here

We came back after five minutes.Bookmark here

"Ringo, you already know that my workload is high. I'm going to resign to find a lighter work for me at some point in time."Bookmark here

"Well, that makes sense. My guess is that you're blowing off steam from work that's why you diverted away from it?Bookmark here

Thanks for doing the meals, though."Bookmark here

"That's part of the reason, yeah."Bookmark here

In any case she explained although very briefly but clearly. I can however somehow tell that I'm not getting the whole picture.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

In the afternoon, I went out with Rin to come back to the cafe where we found out about G's friends.Bookmark here

I won't get the XL peppermint mocha frappe, though. I'm on board to balancing my weight too.Bookmark here

But just as we entered the cafe, we immediately saw Hiro who is sat on a table alone with a cappuccino. He waved after seeing us.Bookmark here

In the end, we went to his table to accompany the solemnity around him.Bookmark here

"I really thought that you'd go overboard with your order, Gin."Bookmark here

"Not today, boss. Girlfriend will hate me if I'm not disciplinary with my diet too."Bookmark here

"Oh… I sometimes see Ringo weighing herself in the base.Bookmark here

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Actually, this is quite a good time to discuss with you. I have a request to ask you two."Bookmark here

"Uhh… Ah? Even me, Hiroomi?"Bookmark here

"Well, you two are aware of this so…"Bookmark here

"W-Wait, Hiro. Aware of what? Am I missing something? Why do you look so serious?"Bookmark here

He fell to surprise and realize the failure of awareness of the couple in front of him.Bookmark here

"S-S-So you didn't know…? Especially you… Ringo?"Bookmark here

"H-Huuuhhh?! What?! What could I be missing out on, Hiroomi?! I don't have any idea what you're talking about!"Bookmark here

Even I was also panicking as Rin shrieked.Bookmark here

"What the… It has been five years… How come you two didn't know?Bookmark here

Please tell me that you're actually aware that I'm in a relationship with Yu ever since…"Bookmark here

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Yu=Yuna=Yuna Akanami.Bookmark here

We now learn how to put my shoes on our friends when we told them that Rin and I are dating. It's just that our reaction was way more surreal than theirs.Bookmark here

Our face turned henohenomoheji.Bookmark here

"So Sis is the Non-Exi-Bookmark here

So Sis is the girlfriend you are talking about?!"Bookmark here

Thank goodness we are the only customers inside.Bookmark here

"Th-Then… I hope that you're aware that she's still living in my house…!"Bookmark here

"Ah… I know that long ago. I visited her when you were still in isolation."Bookmark here

"Phew. Now we're clear on that."Bookmark here

"Well, thanks for letting her live and work in your place."Bookmark here

"Eh. No problem with that."Bookmark here

"W-W-Wait a second…! I basically get that Hiroomi is Sis's boyfriend. Then what's the request you're talking about?" surprisingly, it sunk in to Rin fast.Bookmark here

"Ah… about that. How should I say this…"Bookmark here

"Oi. Quit being bashful," just a casual boss-subordinate conversation.Bookmark here

"Yuna and I are getting married next month…"Bookmark here

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We both fainted.

Chapter Message:Bookmark here

That does it for 036!Bookmark here

I'm away from my shut-in space, but I pulled through with a chapter!Bookmark here

Thanks for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

037: About the romance that sprouted between a human and an Exile.Bookmark here

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