Published at 22nd of November 2022 05:24:16 AM

Chapter 14

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Act 1 - The Hungry Idol Part


Despite our troubles, we ended up finishing our dishes third overall. The hamburger steak, egg soup, salad, and rice lined up on the table. No matter how you looked at it, those were perfect home-cooked dishes.

"Let's dig in!"

We all put our hands together on the food in front of us, declaring so in unison.

Yup――――this is delicious.

The hamburger steak was well cooked, and the soup had a gentle taste that made me feel relaxed. As for the salad, the lettuce is rather uneven, but...... well, it's a salad. So, I don't mind.

"Yummy! Especially the hamburger steak!" (Ryuji)

"So delish! That's Azurin for ya!" (Honoka)

After being praised by Doumoto and Nogi, Nikaido scratched her cheek in embarrassment.

"No...... but half of it was done by Shidou-kun......" (Azusa)

"Ah, you're right! You're amazing too! I respect you, dude!" (Ryuji)

It was a bit awkward, but I didn't feel bad about being praised by Doumoto. He was probably incapable of lying in the first place, and even more so since I knew he wasn't flattering me.

"I screwed up and hindered you guys, but I'm glad I was able to help." (Rintaro)

"This is a Translation Content of pemudatunawisata[dot]my[dot]id. so, read only on there, kay~"

The pain spread slowly as I lifted the bowl with my injured left hand. I tried not to let my expression show as I mingled with the laughter and tried my best not to break the atmosphere.

Their talk was always high schooler-like, like they were in the prime of their youth. They talked about club activities, their favorite music, tests, different friends, and their――――families.

Is it just my fingers that hurt?

I ask myself, behind my smile facade.

It's only my fingers. It's supposed to be just my fingers.

I replied to myself, and my smile deepened.

When I looked at my finger, I saw that the bandage was smeared with red.

"This is a Translation Content of pemudatunawisata[dot]my[dot]id. so, read only on there, kay~"

I couldn't really remember what happened after that.

I couldn't concentrate on the afternoon class and couldn't remember what it was all about, but I did take notes. I just wanted to praise myself for being so diligent, seeing that I had taken notes all thoroughly.

"Are your fingers okay?" (Rei)

"Hmm? Yeah, I'm fine. It'll get healed soon." (Rintaro)

Rei, who had eaten dinner at my place as usual, gave me a worried look from behind. Washing the dishes did indeed cause the water to sink into the wound, but thanks to the fact that the bleeding had stopped, it was not that bad.

After I finished washing the dishes, I went back to the table, and for some reason, Rei started to fidget.

She was looking at her phone, looking around the room. She was unnaturally restless.

I was easily convinced by her attitude.

"...... I guess you have something you want to ask me." (Rintaro)

"......You can tell?" (Rei)

"It's about the cooking class, isn't it? ......That I've been so careless." (Rintaro)

"Yup. I've never seen Rintaro cut his finger before." (Rei)

"No, I used to cut my fingers once a week when I first started cooking, okay?." (Rintaro)

"You just said so yourself. When you started. That means it's not there at all now, right? That's why I felt it was a little...... unnatural. I talked to Nikaido-san, and I thought maybe something was bothering you." (Rei)

Rei was right, in the last two years――――I have never made a mistake like cutting my finger. This was partly because I've gotten used to it, but most of all it was because I'd always been conscious of concentrating. She sensed that I had been distracted.

Apparently, Rei had been understanding me better than I had thought.

"It's not that I'm mad at Nikaido or anything. It's just that my temper was weaker than I thought." (Rintaro)

"This is a Translation Content of pemudatunawisata[dot]my[dot]id. so, read only on there, kay~"

I sipped the coffee I had made for after dinner and exhaled. The fragrant smell passed my nose, and my shaken mind regained a bit of its composure.

"......It's a boring story, but do you want to hear it?" (Rintaro)

"Yup. I want to know more about Rintaro."

"What a curious girl...... Well, I hope I can satisfy your curiosity." (Rintaro)

The truth is, I'm not in the habit to fool around――――

The dark side of me was about to show itself again.

Pushing it down, I opened my mouth.

"It's not a complicated story. My father was a workaholic, as everyone around him would say. He never came home more than a few times a year. I've heard that even on the day I was born, he prioritized his work." (Rintaro)

"......" (Rei)

"So, I was lonely, but it wasn't hard for me. ――――If only my mother had been with me." (Rintaro)

"This is a Translation Content of pemudatunawisata[dot]my[dot]id. so, read only on there, kay~"

I felt another twinge of pain in my heart.

But it was somewhat better just to have someone in front of me to listen to me.

"When I was in the fifth grade...... my mother walked out of the home as I was coming back from school." (Rintaro)

Sorry for this, I just want to be free――――.

I still dreamed of my mother's back as she told me that without turning around.

"Please don't go".

I couldn't even say that, so I just watched in amazement as the person who was my mother left.

"In the end, she just tired of taking care of me. And I'm sure she was also tired of my father leaving everything to her. ――――Ever since then, I've been a little allergic to my mother. So when Nikaido asked me "Did you learn that from your mother?", I got upset. And, that's all my story." (Rintaro)

"I, see......" (Rei)

"As I thought, it was a boring story, right? ......The coffees are getting cold. I'll go make some fresh." (Rintaro)

I got up from the sofa, grabbing my cup and hers.

That time, for some reason, Rei grabbed my arm and made me sit back down on the couch.

She pulled the arm of bewildered me, holding it and drawing it closer toward her.

"I'm not, going anywhere." (Rei)

"......What are you talking about?" (Rintaro)

"I'm not leaving you, even if you tell me to go away. I won't make Rintaro feel lonely." (Rei)

"What the heck are you, a kindergartener?" (Rintaro)

On the contrary, Rei was looking at me with a very serious face.

She was serious about this.

I wonder why, this lass can be so earnest about me.

I can't help but feel that I'm being treated with more affection than just a caretaker and his employer anymore, or is that just my imagination?

But anyway, for now――――

"Thanks, Rei. I'm feeling a little better now." (Rintaro)

"That so. Then I'm glad." (Rei)

Rei smiled, feeling relieved.

As I regained my composure, I realized how close she was to me after all this time.

I felt a soft, squishy sensation against my arm. (PTW/N: hmmmmm...( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°))

That's no surprise. She's holding my arm upon herself, after all.

So it can't be helped.

"...... Rei, isn't it time to let go?" (Rintaro)

"I told you I'm not going anywhere." (Rei)

"You don't need to stick close to me! I'm a healthy high school boy myself, you know!" (Rintaro)

"What a weird tone, interesting. But I certainly don't want to be sultry." (Rei)

Perhaps sensing my desperation from my slurred tone, Rei gently let go of my arm.

That was a close one. My heart almost exploded regardless of what had happened up to now.

"That's right. I've told you the other day that I'm aiming to become a full-time househusband, right?" (Rintaro)

"Yup, you have." (Rei)

"It's a dream that grew out of my mother's leave. I don't like my mother, but I also don't like my father who neglected us. I don't want to live a life like my father! As a result, I decided to become the opposite." (Rintaro)

I had already heard how Rei came to be an idol.

So I thought I'd tell her too.

"You said that you respect people who work hard to achieve whatever dream they have, but I'm sorry that my motivation for going for it is......such a stupid thing." (Rintaro)

"It doesn't matter what kind of motivation you have for your dream. In the end, it's about whether or not it can support the person until they achieve their dream. If Rintaro's past helps him run towards his dream, then I think that's fine." (Rei)

"...... You're making a lot of sense, yes. There's no room for argument." (Rintaro)

"I have to show that I'm smart once in a while." (Rei)

"Does it have anything to do with you being smart?" (Rintaro)

Her silly remarks――――no, maybe she didn't mean to be silly at all, made me laugh uncontrollably.

The only time I can laugh like this outside of my own family is when I'm with Yukio.

Maybe I had unintentionally opened my heart to Rei.

I had a feeling that from now on, I wouldn't have any more bad dreams.

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