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It has been a week since I emerged from the hard two years I experienced inside that room in the base of the people who were thrown away by the outside world and called them ‘Exiles’ or ‘rejects of the world’ because people think that they don’t deserve to live.

But they were proven wrong because of how they treated me. They aren’t dead. They are just hiding so the cruelty won’t repeat again.

I saw how kind they were and they let me stay for a long time there. I befriended the two of them who are Hiroomi Katsuto and Sean Hickory who were also the owners of my restaurant of recommendation: Giotto’s.

Those being set aside, I’m once again living on the surface of the Earth with my family and friends. Well, I once said that I can’t avoid the pain and suffering brought by sins. But I still can’t avoid having a continuing normal life. I guess it’s for the balance.

I said normal…

But I think it will slowly change little by little.

~ ~ ~

The same week when the breakout of misunderstandings happened, after school, the day is Friday.

It has been a few days since I started walking on the same street I walked on whenever I go to school. I’m just pulling my bike with me since I’m walking with Rin right now.

“I really missed walking on this quiet street. It feels like I’m about to cry.”

“Oh, Gin. I haven’t actually asked you about that.

How was the Capital?”

“Oh, that…”

Let’s go back to the day when I came back to school after my leave of absence.

▪ ▪ ▪

“So Gin, where did you go to that made you to take a leave for a week?”

“Oh, that…

I’m actually just in the Capital.”

“It’s obviously a very blatant lie. I was just inside that room for two years.”

“Eh~ That doesn’t make sense why you got that tall…

And what the hell happened to your arm anyways? I noticed it back at the rooftop but can’t point out since we’re too caught up in the moment.”

“About this… I did some errands for my dad that time. It was supposed to be my older brother that will come, but he’s not available since he’s busy. So I ended up going instead of my brother.

And that is where Hiro and Sean enter the scene. They are from the side company where my dad works at. I was so busy that time that I can’t even turn on my phone and check my messages. I wasn’t aware that you bombarded me with texts.

And about my right arm…

You know those buildings with a high ceiling so there are only corridors. I was at the first floor and then a worker on the second floor accidentally spilled hot water from a kettle. It ended up pouring onto my shoulder down to my hand, so my whole right arm was burnt. Thankfully, it wasn’t that bad but it still hurt a bit.”

“I know I’m constantly lying but it’s true that Dad works on a side company.

At least I managed to brush off the topic about my physical changes.”

“I wonder if there is a way so that we can communicate to the author for spoilers.”

“Oi.”

“But seriously, is your right arm really okay?”

“…I wouldn’t say it is fine. It still hurts a little.”

“Well, I just hope that your right arm will heal quickly.”

“Thanks…”

▪ ▪ ▪

“Oh, that…

Well, the Capital is really crowded and the traffic is much worse. Wa~y worse than Cotona! There was a time where I was stuck in the traffic for three hours and I can’t do anything but sleep. It’s quite a pain going there and it was very stressful.

I hope I won’t be running an errand anytime soon again. I don’t want my left arm be burnt next.”

“Ahaha… I agree…”

“He’s so carefree when he said that…”

“Oh, I’m here…

See you later, Rin.”

“I’ll be going home then.”

I opened the door just to see my parents sitting on the couch with very serious faces.

“I’m home.

Wha-?”

Why do I sense an air of extreme seriousness inside the house? It’s making me really creeped out.

“Oh, Gin… Welcome home.”

“Uhh… Is something the matter…?”

“Change your clothes first. Then come and have a seat with us.”

Dad doesn’t look like he’s mad. It’s just the serious vibe that gave me a chill on my spine.

~ ~ ~

“So, what is it?”

“Your father has something to say to you, Gin.”

What…?

I don’t feel good about this. What is it? There are too many possibilities that I can think of. I can barely pick what could be the most likely he would say…

I just noticed that Dad is holding a paper. It looks like some sort of a document.

I really am not feeling good about this. I know I’ve only heard silence for two years but this is more different. I wonder what he would say.

“Gin…

Have you ever thought of moving out?”

Eh? Nandato?

“Uhh… What’s… this all about?”

“When Sean came to our house last week, he did say that you were alone in that room for two years. Pretty much you lived there with the support of the people in their base. You didn’t see a shadow that time and you only gather supplies once in a month.

He sent us soft copies of your journals-“

“About how much did they send?”

“The markings are really vague to us though. I think it says 0827 up to 1226?”

“Four months, huh…”

They haven’t gotten up to 0215 yet, but I might as well spill everything.

“So you’re already aware about the gravity, I suppose?”

“Sean did tell us the first time he came here.”

“Mom, Dad, hear me out first.”

▪ ▪ ▪

I told my parents the whole story when I was inside the Room of Reality. As expected, they were shocked to hear that I almost committed suicide when I was out of it. I also showed them the scar I had.

After they calmed down we went back to the earlier topic.

“But why ask me about moving out?”

“Well, even though you are still our responsibility, you at least have already experienced independency, and you are now 17. Well, not on paper though.

So we made some inquiries and we found out one.

I know that this is really abrupt but I think this is the best way we can think of, for you to have a better understanding in life. You have really matured after the years you have spent there.”

I let out a sigh and immediately looked at my father. Even though this is a very serious matter I’m currently at, I can’t stop snickering.

“Hahh… I knew it would come to this…

Before this conversation gets anticlimactic, where is the location of it?”

“275.”

At first, it doesn’t make any sense to me. But seeing how quickly he replied, the first thing that came to my mind was that.

“I knew it. Dad, Mom…”

275 is the number of the place they are talking about. Our house number is 280. Which means it is just four blocks away from here.

Hold on a second…

“So does that means it’s just four blocks from here?”

“I guess you could say that?”

Seriously, what is it… I can’t seem to remember…

“Our houses are just three houses apart. How come we didn’t see each other when going to school?”

“Apples…”

“Hey… Gin, is something wrong?”

“Literally…”

“Literally?”

“You only asked if I have ever thought of moving out, but you suddenly specify things. Does that mean it’s all prepared?”

“Well, it is. But it’s up to you if we will get the house…”

“Huh… Wait, get?! You mean afford the house?! I thought it was just renting!”

“I knew you would be surprised. Just have look in here and you’ll see why we’re going to buy it.”

Dad placed the document he was holding the whole time on the table for me to see its contents. It was a document regarding the house we were talking about. And the price…

“Is it safe to assume that I’m also involved in the payment? This is dead cheap for a house like that!”

“We won’t force you but if you want to… Actually, we plan to.

But about three quarters of it will be paid on the loan company.”

“I saw that coming.

Hahh…

Alright, I’ve decided. I’m going to move there. I just realized that it would also free up some space if my belongings aren’t here. It’s getting more cramped up here anyways. I’ll help in the payment and also on the loans.

What about Kei? Is he also moving out?”

“Well, for the time being, the space is to be of concern later.”

“Kei still has no plans of moving out anytime soon. I guess he’ll move if ever he will ask for Shiina’s hand.

You do remember that he sometimes do work on the side company right? Their pay is considerably high even if it’s for a week. I guess it’s just my luck that I got to that company as a secondary workplace.

Well, I’m still deciding if I’ll work there full time.”

I really wanted to say “What’s the point of moving?” but I halted myself from saying that.

By the way, the name that Dad mentioned—Shiina, is my brother’s girlfriend whom I pointed out in the last chapter.

(!)

“There’s a house that has never been bought because of how outdated the technology of it and it’s literally next to us. But the house itself has a good engineering. I think someone rich bought the lot and built the house, but they eventually left it for sale.”

Now I remember.

Well, I really wanted to live in a house without modern technology. Our bungalow is decent in size, actually. If I compare this to that house, it’s probably half of the size of our house, but technically it’s just the same because it has two floors. I guess I really can’t say “not bad”.

But my neighbor… I know our houses are really close but to think that I will be living at the block beside Rin’s. That’s unprecedented, I think.

“With all that, when will we meet the broker for an appointment?”

“Let me call him then.

Hello? Yes. We will, we will. It’s been decided just now. Really? Is 9am good? Yes. Thank you.”

*beep*

“Was that the broker?”

“Yeah. He said he’s up for tomorrow at 9am.”

“Woah, so sudden.”

“Besides, we won’t be there at the appointment.”

“Eh?”

“It’s okay if it’s only you tomorrow. Us three will sign it anyways. You’re just going to check the house’s interior and exterior. You will just go back here after all of those.”

“Well, I guess it’s settled.

It’s still 4pm so it’s still early. Shall I start packing already?”

“Suddenly?”

“Well, I can’t pack them all today of course. But I can pack the important things first before dinner.”

“Huh? I doubt you can pack them all in just a short time.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine. When I was inside, I trained both my mind and body before I left. So I can probably say that my brain processes faster and my body had undergone physical training so I can also move fast because of the gravity.”

“If you say so…”

Dad took a stopwatch and came to the hallway in front of the door of my room.

“Alright, Gin! I’ll time how fast you will pack your things. Come quickly, then!”

“Seriously, Otō…”

“Off I go!”

▪ ▪ ▪

The next day, in front of the house for sale.

As I was walking from our house, I saw a man standing in front of the house we are about to buy. He is well-dressed with a big smile on his face. Actually, corporate attire is the best description to his outfit.

“Mr… Hachido, right?”

“Yep, Mr. Sakato. That’s me, alright.”

“He seems cheerful…”

“Let me introduce myself. I am Kanbe Hachido, the salesperson and the representative of the seller of the house.”

“So… Before anything else, can you give a brief history of the residence?”

“Gladly.

The house was built five months ago under the likings of the former owner of the house, which is now the seller. To be completely honest, the house was neglected. The owner was very happy about the process of building these. The engineering is good and it is sturdy, though it doesn’t really have technology that fits well to the modern times today, which is a very big flaw.

Two weeks later after it was finished, the owner left the house to be for sale. He’s just a complete jerk, actually.”

“Wow, you’re brutally blunt to your boss.”

“Well, he has nothing to do with this house anyways.”

“I wonder what he meant by that.”

“In just five months, this house drastically depreciated by that much, and reduced to a low end price.

I heard from someone that the seller is rich. Is he really okay about this?”

“I’ll repeat two things for clearer understanding. My explanations are pretty vague aren’t they?

As you have said, the former owner is rich. Only rich, and an idiot. He built this house without further thinking. Me being present, he left everything to me whenever the house is going to be sold. So he has nothing to do with this house anymore.”

His smile doesn’t waver and it also feels mischievous. Actually, his smile can easily deceive people, but my intuition tells the opposite.

“I’m really afraid to say this smoothly but—I would assume the hundred percent of the payment will land only to you?”

“Yes, indeed.”

“Are you really okay with this? You could have increased the price if you will.”

“No, no, no~pe. I wouldn’t do such a thing just to benefit myself. This is the best way for me. Besides, my pay is not bad. I would want to stay low instead of taking advantage of the things like this.”

“Hm… You have a point there. Thanks, you made me understand something. Even though you didn’t mean to. Hahaha…

Anyways, can we take a look now?”

“Sure.”

I don't know the exact measurements, but the lot of the house is really huge. Like mentioned, the house number is 275, which is found just by the three-way intersection in between White and Cerulean Street.

Before going inside the house itself, I was toured outside. The lot is walled by seven and a half feet concrete. The outside however has a space as a garage and a lawn. I quickly pointed out the thought of roofing the open space. At the back… is a small backyard. What I am concerned is the very tight gap separating this and Rin's house.

For the main event, the inside. Immediately after the doors opened, I noticed the spacious hallway and a… I don't know what's it called so let's just go with a semi-wall as it is just 5.5 feet tall and three meters in length to divide the living room from the hall. It looks a bit dumb but I realized that it was used to where perhaps a television will sit on.

The first floor is however just divided to two rooms as the living and dining room, and kitchen are connected linearly. Beside the kitchen is where the switchback staircase is found, and beside that is a guest room. Before I forget to mention, a bathroom is found next to the kitchen in the other direction along with a storage room.

Going up to the second floor, there are two more rooms with exactly opposite doors and another bathroom. A smaller room was quite bare, but it can also be a guest room. We then moved on what seems to be the master's bedroom. A very spacious room where the bed doesn't even cover a fourth of the room. A balcony is found after a sliding door, and the outside is thankfully roofed. But what took my utmost attention is the window which is accurately opposite to a window in Rin's house… with the same dimensions!

After roughly half an hour, the tour was finished and the only thing needed is my decision.

“You know, Mr. Hachido, I wouldn’t really say that the lack of modern technology in here is a flaw. Actually, I’d rather live in a house like these instead of wasting my money to devices I will hardly use. If it were me, I will just add things that are efficient, relevant and essential to my way of living.”

“Uhm… Mr. Sakato. I have a question out of nowhere…

Can I ask how old are you?”

Even though no one’s really close at the vicinity, he still whispered his question to my ears. I also gave an answer with a whisper.

“Fifteen.

No actually, I’m seventeen.”

“Huh?”

As expected, he seemed really puzzled because I said those.

“With all that being said…

The house is bought.”

“Congratulations to your new house, Mr. Sakato!”

“Thanks. Let’s head to my parents for the signing, then.”

After signing the forms and documents, our family finally owned another house. I removed the sign saying that the house was for sale.

Well, not anymore. Since as of today, I will be living here.

“Gin… We’re not being excited or anything. But would you like to move there immediately?”

“Uhh it feels like you’re throwing me away just kidding.”

“Ahaha… Even though you sometimes talk too fast I still understood what you said.”

“It’s still early, so I’ll probably pack more then I’ll start moving after lunch. Ah, actually, I should probably do shopping before that.

And after that, I think I’ll be completely broke.”

(!)

“Hey, Dad. What do you think… Can I work in the side company some time? They are accepting sixteen and above right? And besides, I’m eighteen next month.”

“I’m not sure about that… You’re aware that you are still fifteen on paper, right?”

“Hmm… I think I can ask someone from the base to make some workaround.”

“…?

You mean, Sean?”

“Not him, but I was acquainted by many people from the base that works on the surface now. They might help me.”

“Well, if you do say so. But make sure it is a safe one.”

“I’ll ask Hiro first before I go shopping.”

▪ ▪ ▪

After lunch, 1:30pm.

Surprisingly, it’s not that hot whenever it is noon. I recalled that the temperature seems to have gone a bit lower. I was so used from the constant twenty degrees inside the Void that I still think twenty-six degrees is still hot.

I guess this is suitable for shopping today.

“I’ll be going now. I might come home late tonight. I will probably also make my own dinner at the other house then I’ll come home.”

My bike will be useless if I bring it in a crowded place. I decided just to walk but once I got out, I saw Rin. She’s probably going out too.

“Hey~ Rin!”

“Hm? Gin? Going somewhere?”

“Ah, yeah. I’ll be doing some shopping mainly food and some things.”

“What a coincidence… Mom asked me to do shopping for dinner.”

“Hmm…

Then why don’t we go together, then?”

“Alright. I’ll just- ah!”

As she was speaking, a strong wind blew that made the paper she was holding started flying.

I chased the paper, but I am really dumb. Instead of catching it, I tested out myself and only used my eye to look for its contents. Luckily, I had a paper and pen with me.

I used to have a poor memory but I’m even surprised how fast my brain processed the things written on the paper that is about to fly away.

And I’m still following the paper as I’m writing its contents midair.

“1/4 kilogram of potatoes;

Undefined amount of carrots;

Celery;

2 pounds of beef;

A pack of flour;

Garlic and onions.

Here.”

She looked surprised but amazed at the same time. I gave a small piece of paper containing what I saw on the other paper that is now lost in sight.

“Amazing, Gin! You scanned all of what is on the paper?!”

“I’m surprised too, you know.

I would assume your dinner will be beef stew?”

“Huh? You even knew just by looking at the ingredients?! Seriously…”

“Anyways, we can probably go now. What do you think?”

“Mhm. Let’s go.”

“Actually, before we go shopping, let’s head to Giotto’s first. I have something to do there quickly.”

“Hm?”

Even though it is past lunch already, there are still a lot of customers inside. When we reached the restaurant and went in, I called out a familiar waiter that works in Giotto’s.

“Uhm, excuse me! Is the owner currently here?”

“Oh, Gin. Sir Hiroomi is currently cooking and Sir Sean is not here. I don’t think you can talk to him since we’re shorthanded right now.”

“Oh. Since you’re emptyhanded now, please lead me to the kitchen. This will just be quick, Rin. You can have a seat.

I’ll order a Semifreddo too. Bring it to her table please. I’ll pay it later.”

We started to rush and we made it to the kitchen. After the waiter opened the kitchen door, he quickly shouted, and another chef immediately responded.

“One Semifreddo!”

“Right!”

“Hiro!”

“Gin?!”

“Do you have an extra apron? Lend me one and a knife. I’ll help with the preparations.”

“…

You better not disappoint me, Gin. This is the first time I will see you hold a knife. Get going!”

“Sì!”

“What the…?”

The other chefs and the waiter that led me was stunned and looked surprised.

“Alright, I finished the preparations for Table 08!”

“Finish the dish, Gin!”

“Got it!”

I almost forgot that Giotto’s is a mixture of Italian, Japanese and Native dishes here in Orio. Thankfully, I caught up to the and I fortunately picked Beef Shigureni.

When I was inside the Room of Reality, I asked them a Japanese cook book for me to learn various dishes from the North.

“I’ll be plating it now. Hiro, once we got a breather, I have a favor to ask you, but check the dish I made first. There is a leftover right there. You can taste it!”

“How can they casually speak and cook at the same time while we are on a pinch?!”

“Approved!

Dish for Table 08, done!

Is the Semifreddo served already?”

“Sì!”

~ ~ ~

“Phew… thanks for the help, Gin! I didn’t know you can catch up to us when we’re on a rush.”

“Don’t underestimate the two years I have experienced. I cooked my food everyday in that span of time, you know.”

“Now, that it’s all done, what do you need?”

“Someone in the base works for the statistics office, right?”

“Yes… But why ask?”

“You do know that I’m 17 now, right?”

“Then, does that mean…

I won’t ask why but I will contact her about your concern. She’ll sort it out as soon as possible.”

“Thanks, I’ll be going then.”

“About the Semifreddo, you don’t need to pay for it.”

“Seriously?”

“Why do you look surprised? You helped us after all.”

“If it’s what the owner said, I won’t refuse.”

“Hold on, you’re with Ms. Akanami, right?

A date?”

“Shut up. That won’t make me budge.”

“Though, I may just be glad if it was.”

~ ~ ~

I left the restaurant with Rin but she seems really confused and curious.

“Gin, you looked like you are in a rush earlier. Is something wrong?”

“Well, I just helped out quickly and finish one dish. I actually knew the boss…”

Before she realizes it, I better tell her quickly.

“And my Dad is acquainted to the boss.”

“By any chance, is the boss Hiroomi Katsuto? I heard the waiter saying his name.”

“Well, yes, and Sean Hickory too. They’re partners.

Did you notice that the restaurant closed early for the whole last week? I’m actually working with him at that time—when he told all of you that I was in a leave.

You could say that I am affiliated with them.”

“Eh? Does that mean you knew the boss there all along? And they’re really young to be running a restaurant.”

“Well, they already proved that any human can do something if they gave dedication to it.

Oh, there are the potatoes.”

“I don’t really get it.

Oh, thanks. Can you get me three white onions?”

“Hai.”

~ ~ ~

It is already 4pm after we finished our shopping. Rin was quite curious as to why I bought some utensils and some kitchen appliances.

We finally got to our street and we are nearly at the range of our houses.

“I forgot that Mom and Sis left and will return before dinner.

I need to cook it quickly.”

“Hm? Something wrong?”

“I almost forgot that I am in charge for dinner that’s why Mom asked me to do the shopping. No one is around the house since my mother and my sister went out and my father will be late tonight.”

“Want me to help?”

“Huh? Are you sure?”

“It’s fine. I just cooked a few hours ago at Giotto’s right?”

“Then, okay…”

“Just a second, I’ll just drop my things in my place.”

Rin noticed that I was walking the opposite direction to our house. I forgot to tell her that I just moved next door. I’m so hopeless.

“Gin? You’re walking to the opposite direction. Are you okay?”

“Huh?”

“And why are you going up to the house next to us…?”

“Ah, apples! I forgot to tell you…”

As I dropped the bags on the sidewalk, I pointed out the house that we, my family just bought earlier this morning.

“…I’m sorry I forgot to tell you I just moved out here earlier this morning!”

“…”

She tilted her head and blankly looked at me.

“We actually bought this house literally this morning and I already started moving today.”

Suddenly, there is an awkward silence then Rin exploded in a puff again and turned red just like when we were at the rooftop.

“Rin?! You okay there?”

“Ah… I-I-I-I’m fine! I’m fine!

I… I just got surprised when you said that you moved next… door…

Ehhhh?! So we are neighbors now?!”

“Ahaha… you could say that it’s the case…

I will just put my things inside and then I’ll be right back.”

“Ah, right… I’ll just prepare the kitchen.”

After their conversation they both entered the houses that are just next to each other. But Rin seems to be a little anxious when she entered their house.

***

Is this serious? Our neighbor next to us is Gin?!

But why did he move so suddenly? I remembered telling him about that house but I didn’t think he will seriously move out!

I should probably ask him later or tomorrow. But I can’t seem to stop thinking about it.

And I just realized that I will be alone with him until Mom and Sis come back!

No, don’t think too much. He’s just helping me at preparing dinner. There is nothing more than that!

***

Now that I think about it, this is the first time I’ll be visiting their house, huh…

From the door the voice of Gin echoed to the kitchen.

“Rin! Is it okay for me to come in?”

“Y-y-yes, you can…!”

~ ~ ~

After almost two hours we finished cooking the stew. It’s just almost time before her mother comes back home.

“Ohhh~ This is good!”

“The meat is so tender! Gin, tell me how did you do that?”

“Well, first is experience! You wouldn’t achieve a fine tenderness in just one go. It took me months just to know the right way.”

The front door suddenly opened and I heard someone’s voice. It was a voice of a man.

“Ringo-chan! We’re home!

I thought I will be coming late tonight but I was dismissed earlier than expected. I met up with Mom and your sister so I’m with them now.

Is dinner ready-

Oh?”

The person who carries the voice walked to the kitchen. He is carrying a coat so that means that he was wearing corporate attire. He walked straight to the kitchen but then stopped after he saw us two wearing an apron in front of the beef stew.

It was Rin’s father.

He was eventually followed by her mother and sister.

“Crap, I really am in trouble now.”

Rin’s father started walking towards me and then he placed his left arm on my left shoulder.

“I’m seriously done for… He’s going to strangle me!”

“Hey! So you’re here, younger Sakato! Did you help our daughter on preparing dinner?”

“Nani?”

“Ah, y-yes… I did. I just moved at the house that was for sale today, so I might as well help her as an act of a new neighbor.”

“Eh… Gin? Seriously?! You moved there?” the big sister astonishingly asked.

“Oh my, so you’re our new neighbor now, huh? Oh well, why don’t you join us for dinner then?”

“I-Is that okay…?”

“Of course it is! We should be thanking you for helping today.”

“Al… alright. I’ll just call Dad that I will be here…”

“You’re calling Amano? Can you ask if he is available tomorrow for a drink?”

“O-okay…

Hello? Dad?”

“Oh, Gin. Are you back already?”

“Ah, yeah. Though I’m not at the house right now.

I’m currently at Rin’s house right now.”

“Ohhhh…?”

“They invited me to have dinner… Actually, they invited me as thanks because I helped out on making their dinner today.”

“I see…”

“Oh, also… Uncle is asking if you are free for a drink tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I’m free tomorrow so tell him to just call me.

Will you head to your house after that?”

“Yep. I’ll just do a little cleaning then, I’m going back there to sleep.”

“Alright, see you.”

*beep*

“Uncle, Dad said that he’s free tomorrow. He also said that you could just call him about that.”

“That’s great, then!”

“Come on now sit down, all of you. Let’s have dinner.”

All of us sat in the dining room with the plates suddenly prepared after I finished a short phone call.

I have a feeling that something surprising is about to happen.

“To welcome our new neighbor which is Amano’s son whose house is three blocks away…”

Just by observing, I finally knew what is going to happen next. I didn’t forget that this is still Orio and not Japan. But I kind of predicted that they will say it. Let’s just go with the flow.

All of us in unison said—

“Itadakimasu~!”

I knew it.

It’s that time where I realized that the Akanami household is full of otakus.

▪ ▪ ▪

10pm.

Finally, a rather eventful day is about to come to its end. After having a dinner in Rin’s residence, I came back to my house…

It’s weird when I say it like that. Oh, well.

I came back to my house and started cleaning a bit. After sorting out the items I bought, I went up to the second floor to check the room where I will turn to my office and bedroom.

There stood out the big window that I forgot to put the blinds down. It was made that the glass would slide up whenever I open it.

“The lights are still open in their house…”

After a few seconds, I saw someone’s silhouette in front of the window of Rin’s house. I figured it was Rin since I subtly saw her face. I thought she’s about to open the window but hesitated. She’s not leaving from the window, though.

With my window still closed I knocked on the glass. She seemed to notice that I saw her. Both at the same time, we opened our windows.

“Quite the cliché, don’t you think?”

“Ahahaha…”

“Is that your room?”

“Ah, yes. But I could ask you the same thing.”

“It will be, soon enough. I need to paint it white first tomorrow and then I’ll start sorting this out. Aside from a couch, shelf and a bedside table, it’s quite bare. Of all the rooms, this is the least furnished.”

“It’s Sunday tomorrow, so then you will be busy around here?”

“All day, I think. Although, I won’t be staying the night here yet.”

“I see… Actually, can I help you tomorrow with moving?”

While she’s holding on the sill of her window, she averted her gaze and her face started to become red.

“Seriously, Author... You’re really doing this to me? I thought you wouldn’t do something like this.”

“Well… Thanks for helping out earlier, so I thought it would just be fair if I also helped. You can think of it as if it’s showing you my gratitude.”

I wouldn’t want to think that, but I think it is what I’m thinking. She looked a bit bashful when I took a glance on her. I suddenly imagined her wearing a ponytail like I used to do when I was inside the Room.

I broke out an awkward silence to myself when I let my imagination run wild. After a moment, I gave her a reply.

“If you really want to, I won’t decline. But make sure not to push yourself too hard tomorrow. Don’t tire out yourself.

I’ll be going back home now. Goodnight.”

“Ah, oh. Goodnight too, Gin.”

She gave me a smile that suddenly made me remember how I missed my family and friends. I realized that loneliness still lingers in my heart.

“I’ll be counting on you tomorrow.

Sleep well.”

We both closed our windows but I immediately went out of the room getting ready to leave.

After I turned off all the lights, I locked the door and headed straight to our house to get some rest and sleep.

“Don’t easily raise flags like that!”

▪ ▪ ▪

0910, Friday.

I suddenly want to say things like that again.

After a good sleep, I prepared the boxes I packed firstly to be placed on the new house. While I was putting boxes out, I saw Rin’s head poking out from the wall of our lot, but she then showed up when she saw me.

“Good morning, Gin, Auntie.”

“Ah, good morning to you too, Ringo. What brings you here?”

“I told Gin that I will be helping him out today.”

I saw Mom smiling wryly at my back.

“Hehh~”

“Apples… I know already, Mom. But don’t think too much because you’re going over the page…”

Mom seems to be discontented about what I said. So I added.

“Well… You could try turning the page instead of going over it.”

“Oh~ You finally grew to a very fine young man.

Ah, I heard that he had dinner at your place last night and he also helped you. As thanks for helping him today, why don’t you join us at lunch later?”

“That felt like a déjà vu.

Um, Rin. Can you carry that box? Let’s start putting them in my place.”

“Alright.”

Why did I let her carry a box, you ask?

If I don’t, she’ll probably be disappointed. She seems to be confident on what she can do and I ask her not to push herself. Still don’t get it…?

Here’s a proof—

A few days ago, when I was doing some repairs on my bike, I saw a very surprising thing that I didn’t know Rin can do.

She can easily carry half a sack of rice with one hand…

A gap moe, I guess?

I would struggle if I had not gone in the Room. But the box I’m currently carrying is actually heavy, but very light, in my case. I can probably just use three fingers if I wanted to. No joke.

~ ~ ~

“Gin, this is the last box!”

“Oh, thanks. What’s inside it?”

I was upstairs when Rin delivered that last box from the other house.

She opened the box and shouted its contents. I was about to go downstairs that time.

“It’s clothes, Gin!”

“Can you remove them from the box and place them at the couch?”

“Sure.”

She did as what I said.

But while she was carrying them in stack, some of my clothes fell. Out of those that fell, she noticed an odd one.

“Hm?”

She saw a shirt that has a big, diagonal gaping hole with black stains on it.

Thankfully I was about a few steps to the first floor when I saw her and I immediately ran and grabbed all the clothes.

“Ah! Sorry Rin! I’ll go grab them all and then I’ll put them upstairs. I’ll be right back~!”

“Huh?”

Thank goodness I went on time. But there’s nothing I can do since she already saw it. What’s worse is that aged bloodstains are still there.

Feeling defeated, I went back down.

“Is something wrong, Gin?”

“N-no… Let’s unpack them now, shall we…”

I made up my mind that I will tell her and the others about everything, but I can’t find a right time. I did say that I will tell them when the right time comes so there is no going back.

Putting that aside for now, I need to concentrate on housework since I just moved. If not for Rin, I may not finish all of it in a day.

Speaking of which, I’m starting to feel anxious because of Rin’s behavior towards me. I have suspicions but I don’t want to jump to the conclusions. I wouldn’t know what to do if it comes to “that”.

But I will be extremely worried if it really came to that at some point.

Actually, why am I even worried about that?

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A note from AkaGin

That does it for chapter 12!

I have mentioned in the edit from chapter 11 that a bonus sketch will be moved to the next chapter. Sorry, Jean. But chapter 13 will be split into two parts, so they might be a bit shorter per chapter.

Thank you for reading!

(Next)

Thirteen (13.1): Does a fever like that exist in reality?


About the author

AkaGin

  • uwu

Bio: 'Earth' without 'art' is just 'Eh.'

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