Chapter 13: Mundane Worries
From down the hall a ruckus sounded.
Doors were being slammed and voices were raised in fury.
“Huh. That sounds like it went about as well as planned.”
That came from a delinquent-looking, no, yakuza-looking man with his slightly longish hair slicked back and held in place with a plain headband. He barely looked up from his handheld console, continuing to gnaw on a wooden skewer.
“It’s just the usual, no?”
That came from a girl with a pink streak in her long ponytail, looking bored while slouched low in her chair, leather heeled boots up on her desk. At her side was a curved sword. A katana – it was not.
“As Unit 1’s Supervisor, Supervisor Endo should take care to avoid incurring extra costs, slamming the door like that.”
That came from a short but refined-looking man who was sipping green tea. His eyes were so narrowed that they appeared closed.
“Nah… but there has to be a better way, right? This kind of tension can’t go on…”
That came from a thin man in the corner, worriedly tapping his finger against his table.
“Aaah, give it a rest, Gakuto. It’s not like we can just say, ‘Hey, you won’t be able to solve the case so we’re taking it.’”
The girl knocked her sword scabbard against the ground as if to punctuate her words.
“Isn’t that exactly what we’re telling them all the time, though…?”
The thin man, Gakuto, frowned and gnawed on a fingernail.
“Maa, there’s nothing they can do about it, ne?”
The short, refined-looking man smiled a smile that was nearly a sneer and opened his eyes a little more so that an unnatural yellow-green color peeked out from underneath his eyelids.
“Fwaah… it really gives the feeling of being in school now, huh? Bad luck for you, Kousei, to get cleaning duty so soon.”
That thought leaked out before I could stop it, but… iya, I guess it’s fine.
I wonder how we’re all randomized it for cleaning duty. AIUEO… no, it doesn’t seem like it.
Higuchi continued on.
“Buu… I wanted to go over to Cafe Cinnamon and hang out…”
Cafe … Cinnamon…
“Hang out… you have a shift there today, right? You just want us to come goof around. Work properly.”
Un. Endo is the more responsible one, definitely.
“Eh… But we just got to know Kousei-!”
Higuchi latched onto me.
Since I’ve been silent this whole time, Higuchi and Endo look at me curiously.
Higuchi finally asks.
“… You wanted a bunch of guys to hang out at a place called Cafe Cinnamon?”
No matter how you think about it, it sounds like a place aimed at girls or couples.
Endo full-heartedly agrees.
Higuchi coughs, averting his eyes.
“… That’s just the owner’s tastes… it’s… mostly a normal cafe…”
“Although the uniform is bartender and maid styles.”
“Shouldn’t it be butler and maid?!”
Ah. I tsukkomied Endo instinctively. Maa, I’m trying not to mind it, but I’ve lived most of my life minding it, so forgive me for being a little neurotic.
In the first place, I’m wondering if everything really will be solved now. Even if you say I’m being a stupidly secretive manga protagonist, sometimes the youkai who were attracted to me got really violent, you know? People got hurt before, you know?
It’s not like I was just hiding my condition!
“You’re going to be late and you’re keeping Ishikawa-san from cleaning duties, so get going.”
Endo kind-of-not-lightly kicked Higuchi in the rear.
“Aaah! Ow, I’m going, I’m going! Bye bye, Kousei!”
As he headed out the door, Higuchi said goodbye to all sorts of people … he’s totally the type who gets obligation-chocolate from everyone on Valentine’s day, but no serious-chocolate from anyone, isn’t he?
In my previous life, I was that type too.
No, I’m not crying over my girlfriendlessness that lasted until the last year of high school… and then we broke up right after graduation. *sob*
Stay strong, Higuchi. I hope it won’t be the same for you as well.
… Come to think of it, if he works part-time after school then he’s not really part of the go-home club, huh?
Hm. I wonder if I should get a part-time job too.
Even though he’s making the monthly deposits now, it’s just a matter of time before my father forgets again.
I’m sure Daiki-san will say something about how we can manage, but it’s still uncomfortable. I’d like to avoid using his salary on my personal stuff, na. I’m not his child, so expecting him to pay high school fees …
Anyway, the small youkai really did keep away from me on the way to school today.
If that keeps up, maybe I’ll consider getting a part-time job seriously.
“Eeh… Kousei-kun! Can you give me a hand moving the desks?”
Crap, while I was thinking of various things, I kind of spaced out.
“Sorry. Yeah, I’ll do that.”
Me and the other guys moved the desks over to one side as the girls cleared the chalkboard and swept.
Un, everyone wants to hurry home, huh?
Me too. I wanted to go grocery shopping, and then I need to start dinner… ah, but we also have to go out and buy clothes for Honoka…
“Ne, Kousei-kun, you went to a middle school in Tokyo, right? Then you’re a genius?”
“Sakurako, what’s with that?”
“But Tokyo schools are supposed to be way better, right?”
Ah, it’s the two girls who talked to me the first day. … I don’t think they’re on cleaning duty today, though?
“Sakurako always stereotypes things… right, Mari-chan?”
Mari-chan laughs out loud.
“Jeez, the two of you… if you’re going to ask him questions, you should let him answer, right?”
Ah… I see. Mari-chan is their friend and she’s on cleaning duty.
Still, standing in the classroom while people are trying to clean is an obstruction of duty, you know?
Maa, it’s fine though.
Well, to answer their questions,
“No, there are different types of schools in Tokyo too. Anyway, I think that Saitou Academy is pretty high up in the ranks?”
“Boo. Even if you say that, it’s the only decent school around. I’d like SOME choices, you know? But my parents wouldn’t let me live on my own in Tokyo.”
That girl, Mayako Suzuki, pouted.
“It’s because you don’t know how to cook … or clean… or anything, hahaha!”
The other energetic girl, Sakurako Hisao, poked Suzuki-san in the ribs.
That’s all I can say.
“Mou, you two… If you’re going to get in the way, then wait in the hall!”
Mari-chan places her fists on her hips, all the while still clutching a broom, and gives a cute *pun pun* feel to it while puffing out her cheeks.
“Kyaa! We made Mari-chan mad!”
“Hahaha, ok, ok, we’ll wait for you outside!”
The two girls good-naturedly left the room, giggling and chattering all the way down the hall.
“Mou, those two…”
Sakurako and Mayako feel like they’re trying to act cutesy, but it seems to be innate for Mari-chan.
Un. She’s cute.
From across the classroom,
“Hey, Ishikawa, can ya take out the garbage? We just got to finish cleaning the blackboard erasers and then we’re done.”
I don’t remember what that guy’s name is. Oh well.
“Sure, I’ll do it.”
It’s been a long time since I had such a normal day…
Thinking about that kind of thing, I hurried away with the relatively empty garbage bin.
Where was the disposal area again?
I collapsed on a chair in the kitchen.
After finishing cleaning duty I had to force my way through the club recruiting senpais at the front of the gate.
People in the midst of their days of youth can be pretty pushy, na… or like…
Scary! They were seriously scary!
That I saw the FujiTani combo in the middle also trying to recruit people is something I will keep to myself…
“Ah, welcome back, Kousei!”
Who was the one who welcomed me back? Of course it was Honoka.
Daiki-san works 12 hour days, after all… if he’s lucky. Apparently coming back at midnight isn’t a rare occurrence. Thank you for your hard work, civil servant.
Honoka walked in from the back yard as I replied,
“Ah… I’m back… and even though I ran, I didn’t manage to make the timed sale… haaa. Although we’re not tight for money or anything, it’s a disappointment.”
I grumbled a bit before turning to the eco-bag full of the groceries and household goods I had bought.
I’ve already turned into a housewife. I might as well give up on denying it.
It’s times like this that I can fully appreciate the mother that I had in my previous life.
“Honoka, did you go out? Or did you just hang out in the backyard?”
“Hm, well, I just went to look at the park from a distance. I didn’t have a key, so I didn’t want to leave for too long.”
“Ah… sorry, I didn’t think about that.”
“Yup, so I just locked the front door and went out the back and over the garden fence!”
“Ooooi! Please tell me you were invisible or something for that! You’d totally look suspicious! Or like, there’s a gate from the backyard, use the gate!”
Laughing isn’t an answer-!
Ah, Honoka has her fox ears and tails out.
As I thought, it’s more comfortable like that for her.
“Ah, I was going to wash that spare futon Daiki-san told me to get out, but although I have confidence in my intelligence and the buttons are more or less labeled, that ‘washing machine’ thing made me lose my nerve so I didn’t touch it.”
“…That was probably among the better ideas.”
Ah, that’s right, her futon… Curses. Even if I wash the cover now, it won’t be dry by night-time…
“I cleared a space in the spare bedroom that Daiki-san told me I could use, though, so I’ve been productive!”
Ah, she looks so proud of herself.
“Yes, yes, good job, good job. Setting aside the sleeping arrangements, clothing should be next, huh?”
I finish putting away the things I bought.
Right, we need to go shopping… ah, but dinner…
I wanted to make THAT, which kitsune are rumored to like, but just having those are a little lonely… I hadn’t thought about side dishes yet.
“Urgh… there’s so much to do and so little time to do it in”
Even while complaining, I got out the rice colander and began to wash rice.
“Hm… I feel kind of bad about that. Although they are necessities, to make you buy them…”
Honoka sat down on a kitchen chair and watched me as I began to prepare things.
“? But you’re my familiar, so it’s a given that I should take care of you?”
“Mou-! I don’t like what I don’t like! I’m not some pet, you know?! But in this kind of age, for this kind of household, it feels like my abilities won’t be useful in the slightest.”
Right. Fireballs and becoming a large, monster fox. Not really helpful.
“You’re the type that feels like she has to contribute no matter what, huh? But you are, though? I really wasn’t approached by youkai all day, you know?”
“Gnununu… I’m not some type of bug repellant. And that kind of passive effect isn’t satisfying in the least! Kousei-san, you don’t realize how many benefits I get by being your familiar. Your spiritual power isn’t normal. It’s to the degree that I wonder if I’m even needed…”
“That’s the first I heard of that! If that’s true, then why have I had those kind of hardships all this time?!”
“Maa, having power and knowing how to use it are two different things… Also, your spiritual power has a sweet scent to it. It can’t be helped that lesser youkai are magnetically attracted to it, and stronger youkai would almost be possessed with the desire to obtain it.”
“That doesn’t make me feel any better… anyway, your youkai-repellant is probably going to let me live a normal life. That means a lot to me, you know?”
“Fumu. Humans and their normalcy. Although I wonder how long that will last.”
What does she mean… why does that sound so ominous…?
“Although a 6-tailed kitsune’s presence will reduce the riff-raff, it can also attract attention.”
“So, I’m wondering if I would be able to get a part-time job to help pay for my expenses!”
Honoka claps her hands together and smiles brightly.
“That change of topic is too sudden!”
Eh? Part-time job?
Muu… it’s not like I don’t understand that sentiment, though.
“I don’t know… I think part-time jobs wouldn’t be as thorough in their background checks, but somehow I think it would still be risky.”
“As I thought.”
Honoka leaned her head on her arms with a discontented look.
Sorry, I guess you basically are a house pet at this point.
A 6-tailed kitsune who had once been a higher-ranked servant of Inari reduced to a house pet… I think I understand some of her grumbling.
“… Those worries might be premature, though. First we convince Daiki-san to let you stay here long term.”
I put the pot in the rice cooker and press start while I say that. Un, an hour later and the rice will be done.
Even if you say our rice cooker comes with a timer function so I could have just put the rice and water in and then set it so it would have fresh rice by the time I got home… un. Soaking the rice for so long just makes it have a different texture, na.
“Ah… that’s true. Do you have any ideas?”
“…None. Or like, first of all I’m troubled as to what I should do about dinner, when we have to go shopping…”
While I’m thinking about that, the front door suddenly opens. Honoka dematerializes her ears and tails in an instant.
I hear the sounds of Daiki-san fumbling with his shoes before he comes into the kitchen.
He appears with a,
“Let’s go out to eat, my treat!”
“… Daiki-san, you’re home already? Wait. This early?!”
I had to double check the clock.
Yeah, it’s only a little after 5pm, I’m not wrong. He should get home by 8pm at the earliest. Is this okay, Police Detective-san?
“How should I put it… there were some tense situations in the office today, and the Supervisor got angry and said we could go home early…”
Daiki-san ruffled the hair on the back of his head as he explained.
… No. What kind of explanation is that?
“I feel like you left a lot of things out, but going out to eat would make things more convenient.”
If I mind every little thing, I’ll lose.
… He’s not going to get a random call saying that he has to go back in to work in a few hours, right?
“Right, right. So how about ramen? My co-workers suggested a place and it’s pretty rare for me to get home at this time…”
Ah. Honoka looks like she’s going to drool.