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I really want to be spared of things like an out of season flu craze…….
No, Kanon caught a cold this time too though….
I was hitting the keys on my computer faster than usual as I was filled with desire to scream.
No way I could foresee that four people would go on sick leave…
With that, the accounting department had their hands more filled than usual.
It wouldn’t be as bad if it’s just filling in for one or two people, but it’s clear as day that doing it for four is something else.
“That fucker Isobe better give me a king’s meal once he’s healthy….”
I couldn’t stop myself from voicing out my grievances to a colleague who wasn’t in his work seat.
Even though that damn guy’s always needlessly energetic.
The word frail doesn’t suit him at all, so what the hell is he doing…….
The other members in the accounting team that threw themselves each of their jobs had zombie-like faces too.
“Komamura, sort the sales department’s for me please~”
While I was concentrating, a receipt had already been placed on my desk.
I feel like the voice came from Sachihara, but I can’t afford to confirm it with the back towards me.
I quickly flip through the receipts to check it, but it looks like I find a product name that’s not written here of all things.
What the heck? Who’s the bastard in sales who did this. I have to check it out when I’m this busy.
I look at the time on my PC, and in turn, the state of the department.
……Looks like I’m going overtime….
Today, Himari’s day off.
For lunch, she ate her own homemade onigiri.
After learning how to make onigiri without getting her hands dirty, by way of using wrap and rice bowl, from Kanon, she had been looking forward to making it herself.
Even the clumsy Himari can mold it into a beautiful shape, so the appearance of it is right on the mark too.
Kanon prepares the ingredients for her in the morning.
Today’s onigiri is cod and tuna mayonnaise.
“That was delicious.”
Himari finishes eating her meal, clasping her hands together.
And then, when she casually wanders her eyes on top of the shoe rack by the doorway, she discovers a wallet on top of it.
The black long wallet is for sure Kazuki’s, she thought.
It’s just about lunch time, so he’s probably troubled by it now.
And as she was thinking so–
The phone rang.
That must have been Kazuki.
He must have thought he lost his wallet and called in to check.
Himari had concluded that to be so in the span of a single moment, and answered the call.
However, as soon as she answered without giving her name, the call cut off.
After putting down the phone, she finally composes herself —-
And realized she picked up the phone when she was told not to. She grew pale at once.
She immediately looks at the call history.
The only thing displayed was “Number Withheld”
Who was it from?
At the very least, she was sure it wasn’t from Kanon or Kazuki.
With them cutting the call immediately, they must have thought they dialed the wrong number by mistake.
If that was it, then there wouldn’t be a problem but–
The words, “Number Withheld” felt ominous to Himari.
The next time the call would come in, Himari vowed to never pick up the phone—
But a next call never came to be.
Just like last time, Yuri was waiting in front of Kazuki’s company holding items she’ll pass over to Kanon.
But, Kazuki has not been able to come out yet.
“You’re so late Kazuki~”
A large amount of time has passed from his working hours, but there’s not even a shadow of Kazuki coming out of the entrance.
Maybe he’s busy today.
Yuri regrets not exchanging contact info with him
It’s been half a year since they’ve met again yet she hasn’t asked him after all this time.
Since then, she hasn’t been able to get closer to him.
Back in elementary, their houses were in the same neighborhood, and their mother’s were good friends. Before she noticed it, they’d been playing together a whole lot
In order to not be teased in middle school, they barely had any contact at school but they taught each other the subjects they were good at back at home and got through the tests.
In high school, they walked together in the mornings while talking about trivialities.
And then, by the time college rolled around, they went their separate paths and hadn’t met at all after getting their own jobs.
Yuri’s company filed a sudden bankruptcy, and worked part-time while struggling to find a new job.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Yuri chose a job near Kazuki’s workplace. She was looking for an opportunity to close the gap between them, just like back then.
That’s why when she found out that Kazuki is a frequent goer of that coffee shop, she was ecstatic.
Rekindling her old relationship with Kazuki had made her filled with delight.
Back when she was working at the company, she had been forced to attend mixers to make up for the boy and girl ratio, people always end up trying to exchange contact info with her and she had also been confessed to by her coworkers several times.
But she had been turning them all down every time.
It’s because Kazuki has always been the one that resides in her heart.
While Kazuki may not have any defining features and has a boring appearance.
And he’s not even the best at holding an interesting conversation either. But Yuri likes talking with him.
And above all of that, there was something that Yuri knows.
She knows the side of him trying to achieve his dream.
But Yuri doesn’t have the courage to do such a thing as directly confess.
Even now they were childhood friends——- Were feelings that are mixed within her.
Yet even now she couldn’t give up.
–Even now that they’ve become adults.
“If Kazuki finds out how obsessed I am, he’d hate me for sure huh……”
After smiling in self-deprecation, she looks up towards Kazuki’s company.
The lights on most of the floors were glowing in the evening sky.
Maybe even the other departments are busy today.
“Guess I should go on ahead……….”
She’s got the gist of the direction where Kazuki’s house is.
She has no plans of staying long, just enough to hand over the things to Kanon.
Though a bit sad at not getting to meet Kazuki, there’s always next time.
—Yuri makes up her mind and heads for the station.
I plopped down towards my desk after shutting down the PC.
I’d survive the crazy amount of work.
Although, it was shorter over time than I expected.
Good job, me. Damn am I good.
I feel like melting on my desk, but the hunger that attacks me reminds me just how much I want to head home.
I forgot my wallet so I couldn’t eat a whole lot for lunch.
I borrowed money enough for the cheapest udon at the cafeteria
It’s a principle of mine not to borrow too much money.
Anyhow, I should quickly get home.
I’ve got my train pass on me so it’s not a problem so not having money isn’t a problem.
Ah- I don’t think there’s any beer left.
No choice but to pass on it for today I guess……
I left the building depressed.
“Welcome back Kanon.”
Getting back from school, Kanon is greeted by Himari.
There’s grocery bags hanging from her hands. It looks like she took the opportunity to shop
“Hey, Himari. I’ll be making mapo tofu today. You don’t like it too spicy right?”
“I’ll be happier if that’s the case. And also Kanon… Is it alright if I help out?”
“Yep, I don’t mind buuut, how about your drawing?”
“I like to change gears once in a while.”
“Okay~ Gotcha~. I’ll wash my hands first so hold on for a bit~.”
As Kanon headed for the washroom, Himari takes out the meat from the grocery bags Kanon brought.
And then— The intercom rang.
Kanon left the washroom hurriedly and met the eyes of Himari who was in a slight panic.
“Himari. Head to Kazu-nii’s room.”
As quickly and as little noise as possible, Himari hid in Kazuki’s room in the back.
—–Kanon then answered the intercom.
“Who is it?”
It was the voice of a man that said so.
“Ah, a package.”
Kazuki must have ordered for something.
Kanon concluded it so, and quickly headed for the door.
When she opened the door, there was a man wearing a hat– seemingly in his 30’s or 40’s.
Just that, he didn’t have a package.
On the contrary, he wasn’t dressed in a delivery person’s uniform, but an ordinary blue shirt and jeans.
At that, Kanon’s face frowns in suspicion. And—
—-It happened in a flash—
The man forcibly entered.
With how fast it happened, Kanon was unable to react.
No, not that. The man’s strength was so strong that he easily broke through the door.
His sharp voice and eyes pierce through Kanon.
The ire that he didn’t even try to hide was more than enough to cast her into fear as she was not used to men.
In the split second that Kanon froze up, he went inside the house, shoes still on.
“Shouko! Where are you!?”
Kanon’s heart raced even faster at the name he said.
(“Why did he call out my mother’s name!?)
He was someone that Kanon has never seen before.
Kanon has no idea what the relationship between him and her mother was.
All she knows is that he seems to have business with her mother.
Shouting out that name, he skirts around and opens the bathroom door.
At the same time, Himari sensed something was amiss, Himari came out of the room towards the kitchen, looking at what was going on..
(Himari!? Don’t come out!)
Kanon thought she screamed out loud.
But her voice didn’t come out.
Himari also froze in fear the moment she caught sight of the man.
The eyes of the man and Himari meet.
The worst possible outcomes flood in Kanon’s mind.
Let Himari be unharmed.
It’s unknown whether her wish was answered, but the man just passes by Himari.
This time, he recklessly opened the living room closet.
“Shouko! If you’re here, come out!”
And still, the man scours the room, shouting out the name of Kanon’s mother.
After haphazardly checking the back of the curtains, he went towards Kazuki’s room next,
With the too strange of a spectacle, and the intimidating voice of the man, the two girls didn’t move for a while but–
Himari was the first one to snap back to her senses.
At the same time the man enters the bedroom, Himari runs up to Kanon.
Himari tightly hugged Kanon, whose face has drained blue in shock.
“Are you ok?”
Kanon responds with a nod to Himari’s hushed voice.
Perhaps because of the feeling of security Kanon’s body heat gave, Kanon almost cries.
When Himari lets go, she gestures for Kanon to stay quiet.
Without time to ask her what they’re going to do, Himari picks up the frying pan in the kitchen.
She then stands on the table, still holding the frying pan.
Eventually, the man’s footsteps could be heard coming out of the bedroom.
Himari held the frying pan with both hands as she was trembling and stared at the living room from the kitchen.
“Hey, you kids over there. Are you Shoko’s daughters? Where is–”
The moment the man came back to the kitchen, Himari leaps off using the table with a kick, and swings the frying pan down to the man’s head.
Himari splendidly smacks the man’s head dead right and center,
While she was at it, she also drives her knees into his guts.
After landing, Himari swings the pan to the man’s back, who was crouched down in pan
“This is payback for Kanon! I will never–ever forgive you!”
With her eyes tearing up, Himari relentlessly attacks the man with the blunt sides of the frying pan.
“This! Is! Also for barging in! You brute!”
“Ouch! S-sto—-!? H-hey! Cut it! Stop it! I’m–!”
“W-what happened here!? Are you ok Kanon!?”
And from out the entrance hall a new voice came.
All of the people in the room looked back at once at Yuri standing there holding a paper bag.
She sensed the turmoil in the room through the door and came right in.
Yuri was worried that something happened to Kanon and so entered concerned, but the scene that’s laid out in front of her was far beyond her capability to process things.
Kanon stood there, pale, and a girl she didn’t know was hitting a man she also didn’t know with a frying pan.
“Eh…uhm, who?….Err….e,what? Who…..?”
Yuri froze up.
It’s as if time stopped as movement was all but gone.
And taking the chance, the man crawled on the floor, distancing himself from Himari.
“Hey, you lot are Shouko’s daughters right!? J-just calm down ok? I didn’t-”
And the door opens up further.
All eyes turn to it once again.
This time, the owner of the room — Kazuki had returned.
Same as Yuri, Kazuki didn’t move for a moment but–
His next actions were swift.
His first order of business was for the foreign object in the house—-
Running towards it.
He takes ahold of the man’s back and binds his arms behind it.
Who could imagine going home to find such a chaotic scene?
Yuri was standing by the doorway, and Himari isn’t hiding, out in plain sight in fact—
Nevertheless, after recognizing that the Unknown Assailant should be dealt with first, my body moved surprisingly calm, surprising even to myself.
More composed than the judo match he had once upon a time.
If Kanon hadn’t said–”It looks like he’s looking for my mother-” I would’ve dropped his consciousness right then and there.
The damage the man received from Himari and me looked to be substantial and is now sitting on the kitchen floor without the energy to stand. —– was what can be gathered from his expression.
There’s a ton of things that need to be sorted out but–
“Have you called for the police?”
When I asked, Himari and Kanon shook their heads at the same time.
I was about to scold them but I stop myself.
It might have been tough to do when you’re panicked but……
While I wanted them to call the cops first and foremost—
After thinking about it, that would have turned extremely bad for me if that happened, was what I finally realized.…..
Maybe it’s just because life with Himari has been normalized to an extent, I’d completely forgotten about “that”……….
“Kazu-nii. This guy seems to be acquainted with my mother…….”
Kanon chimes in timidly.
That would be what Kanon would be most interested in sure enough…..
I guess it’s time to clear things up about the identity of this man.
“Ehm….First of, to be frank, who the heck are you?”
“…..It’s Murakumo. I’m going out with Shouko.”
I was expecting it but, so that’s how it really was huh….
As I directed a sideways glance to Kanon, she seems to have come to the same conclusion, so she wasn’t greatly perturbed.
“And so? Why’d you barge in here?”
–And to that, the man who named himself Murakumo, replied so in a low voice.
“Not that. You can apologize later, give me the reason why.”
“I’ve come to find Shoko.”
Ah, It matches what the testimony of Kanon and the others here.
What I really wanted to find out stems from that point onwards.
When I prompted him to continue with my eyes, stutters to talk and——–
To sum it all up, this is what happened.
It looks like Kanon’s mother— Shouko, had been staying at Murakumo’s house for quite some time after she left home.
But, she disappeared without a word a few weeks ago.
Murakumo had no idea why she left.
In order to find Shouko, he used the duplicate key he received for her to get into her place, but ended up not finding any leads.
But by happenstance, he finds a note with a relative’s phone number.
And that was my parent’s place and this apartment.
Murakumo first called my old place to try and find out, but no one picked up the phone.
Mom is admitted in the hospital, and Dad is busy all the time.
And so, that led him to use the other number——He tried calling my apartment, which was this place, and a female voice answered the phone.
Himari squeaked out, and with that, I knew who the voice was.
It looks like Murakumo thought it was Kanon’s voice.
He also said that he only knew Kanon through stories.
And figuring that if Kanon was here, then Shouko being here was high-likely were the circumstances on how he got all the way here to my house.
So, finding out about this place, blood rushed to his head and all common sense went out the wayside.
There’s something called being a bother, and then there’s this.
Thinking back, when me and Kanon went to her house, she felt there was something out of place.
I find myself thinking that a woman’s intuition is amazing once again.
“I know that I went too far…….but more than anyone else that I’ve met, she’s—”
Murakumo looks somewhere far into the distance as she says so.
Aunt Shouko might be quite the femme fetale— is what I thought as I look at Murakumo.
I’ve never had an obsession with others like his, so I have no idea what he feels though.
“Nevertheless, I deeply regret my lack of composure that borders on home invasion. Sorry….”
As Murakumo knelt on his knees, down on all fours, the rest of us exchange glances.
What’s the right way to react in times like these.
“Ah…uhmm, I’m sorry for hitting you with all my might too…”
Behind me, Himari says so half-shrinking back.
“No need to pay it heed. That was legitimate self-defense, little missy. “
Hmmm. With the difference between the now cool headed Murakumo and the one who breaks into other people’s homes….
It might be a very extreme example of how love changes people.
“In any case, my mother’s not here so…”.
“We also want to know where Aunt Shouko is.”
“And the question now is… What are we going to do with you now?”
Normally, would turn him into the police for trespassing, but that would put me in a slippery slope with Himari here at my home.
The two girls also appeal to me to “Not get the police involved” with their eyes. I weigh on a scale both the life I have with the two of them now, and handing the man with the radical behavior over to the police—–
And I choose my current life.
What a hopeless adult I am….
“I’ll contact you too when Aunt Shouko is found. So I don’t want you to come back here again.”
And when he hears my contact info from me, I showed him out the door.
Once Murakumo left, silence crossed the room.
I’ve managed to clear one thing for now but….
Rather from me and the girl’s perspective, this is where the real thing starts.
I timidly look back towards Yuri.
She was left out and kept silent till now.
When her eyes meet with me, she sighs in resignment.
“Can you introduce the girl to me?”
While looking at Himari, she says so expressionlessly.
After getting the general explanation, she gazes at me as she says so.
It’s probably not just my imagination that she looks colder than her usual self.
Though, I guess no matter how generous Yuri is, this kind of reaction is to be expected……
What we were doing is absurd.
“Err, It’s not Komamura-san’s fault! I made an unreasonable request–”
“Yes. It’s not Kazu-nii’s fault. I was the one who wanted for Himari to stay here so….!”
It might be because they noticed the restless atmosphere between me and Yuri, the two of them unanimously appealed to her together.
Maybe Yuri was overwhelmed by the two of them frantically closing in on her, she only bent backwards.
“So don’t blame Komamura-san!”
“It was our fault so…!”
“Uhm, I get what’s going on, so settle down, the two of you.”
Yuri soothes them both, and looks at me again.
But I couldn’t really look at her straight in the eyes.
“Kazuki…… If other people find out, you know there would be a huge problem right….?”
“I know. But I–”
Would I still protect this life even if there was a chance of that occurring?
I asked myself that question, and the answer that comes out was–
I couldn’t help but think I’m a fool for thing so.
“The two of them are still minors you know. They need to be under adult supervision.”
She didn’t mean to accuse me, but her words hit a sore spot.
My chest tightens too.
I get where she’s coming from but–
“That’s why I’ll also be helping out.”
I reflexively look upwards.
I mean, her words weren’t at all what I would ever expect.
“Geez, listen up! I’m telling you I’ll also be helping you out! It’s a huge load on you being the guardian of these cute girls right!?”
Her smile that exudes the words “No choice but for me to get involved right~” is the same one I’ve seen many times when we were younger.
“So, Kanon and…Himari, was it? I’ll be an accomplice now— is that ok with you?”
Yuri tilts her head as she asks.
The two girls, absentminded for a while and looked at each other then–
With a smile, they energetically nod.
Yuri says “I’ll return now for the time being” and returns back home.
After Yuri leaves, Kanon and Himari looks at each other again.
“Now the…. It’s sermon time for you guys~”
“Eh? Why? The police weren’t called, a-and things ended up somehow well didn’t it….”
“That’s just a side effect.”
Perhaps due to my serious look being overwhelming for her, Kanon fumbled on her words.
“You got really lucky this time. If that man had a knife then I wouldn’t know what would have happened to you guys by now.”
Himari also hangs her head downwards.
“Get it? If anything ever happens from now on where you fear for your life, then don’t just stand, run away. Don’t worry about me and call the police. You too Himari, don’t think about being found by your parents. There’s no substitute for your life.”
Himari and Kanon both respond appropriately.
I’m glad that they understand what I’m getting at.
“Ok then. If you get it, then that’s the end of that. It’s completely past the time for it in all this confusion but I’m starving.”
“Uuuuhm……..I couldn’t make dinner. I was supposed to make mapo tofu though.”
“About that, err, sorry Kanon….. I got your frying pan a bit dented….”
Wait a minute, that frying pan was originally mine though….
“Oh well, we’ll just have to buy a new one. I guess we can go for ramen today.”
“Yeah….. There’s no hole on it so it’s not like we can’t cook with this but that old geezers cells have been soaked into the pan so it feels gross. I don’t want to cook with that pan anymore.”
That seems like a bit too much. High school girls slanders are unforgiving….
“Ah oh yea, had you done something like martial arts Himari? Your form when you stood up to that geezer was honestly pretty good.”
“Ermm…. Only when I was in elementary school though. I did kendo…….”
“Ahh~. So that’s why you were holding the pan like a sword. Kazu-nii’s experience in Judo really showed up to”
It was fortunate that the other guy didn’t have an edged weapon though.
And maybe because I haven’t moved that way in a long time, I’m starting to cramp up. Tomorrow might be worse.
“Ok then, let’s have cup noodles for dinner tonight. Hmm, but the ones we have here come in wildly different types so~….. First come first served everyone!”
“Ah, that’s cheating Kanon!”
“Oi. The money came from my own pocket so let me choose first!”
We all rushed to the cupboard where the cup noodles were kept.
I appreciate this happiness where we were able to have these low stakes conflicts.
That day, I had an unusual dream.
It was about the time I was doing judo, in a gymnasium somewhere having a match.
There were a lot of people in the gymnasium, holding banners and raising flags. Each and every one of them cheering.
It looks like it was the start of the competition, and I was sitting on the position of the second runner on a 5 on 5. My team mate who spearheaded the match, won us a point in brilliant fashion.
It was my turn next.
I fire myself up, and stood—
The bout ended too quickly.
Ten seconds after the start, my opponent decided the match with a major sweeping leg throw, and put me on my back.
Still wallowing in the crushing defeat, I bow in gratitude to my teammates, and encourage me by telling me to pay it no mind.
It was still one win and one loss.
But I was still frustrated, about my “one loss” that was entirely my fault.
Leaving those sentiments behind, The next match begins–
It was a dream, but it was a one to one reflection of reality.
Ah, that’s right.
This was also my past.
I’ve been doing judo ever since I was in elementary, and I believed that I would continue to do so even when I become an adult, although those feelings faded with each passing year.
I wasn’t especially large, nor was I particularly good at it. At some point back then, I realized that I won’t ever become someone “Special.”