Cursed 014: Food and Shopping

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Chapter 14: Food and Shopping

“What? Supervisor Endo was so mad he made all of Unit 1 go home already? That’s hilarious!”

Pounding her thigh with one hand and laughing “hyahyahya!” in a very ungraceful manner was the woman with a pink streak in her long ponytail.

“Cheh. We really need someone who can talk to people better. No wonder Unit 1 hates our guts. They do all that annoyin’ investigation work, and then we swoop in and nick it.”

The yakuza mob-looking man clenched his teeth in irritation as he said that, but made no sign to look up from his game.

Just like that, glued to the screen and with his thumbs tapping, he continued.

“But what do we got? Jurou’s a passive aggressive dwarf, Gakuto just fades into the background, and Katsumi’s a mouthy bitch.”

“Haaaaa-?! You forgot to add that Arata’s a pissy-faced, no good gamer who can’t even look a person in the eye. Even though you dress like a delinquent, you have stranger anxiety! Pupupu, how pathetic!”

The smell of booze comes from the woman as she loudly reprimands the yakuza man, and she points her sheathed sword at the delinquent.

“Shut up, woman! I can’t help what I can’t help!”

Although he yelled that aggressively, the yakuza scrub just lowered his face towards his screen even more and furiously mashed buttons.

“Honestly, it is no good if I get aggressive, after all. And I’m not THAT short.”

The short, refined man blew on his tea with a slightly perplexed look while he made his complaint.

Before Gakuto could also voice his complaint, the yakuza guy said,

“ANYWAY, what I meant was that our best communicator is Supervisor Ooishi, but…”

“Aaa…”

“Hahaha, Ooishi is as fun to talk to as the “rock” in “ishi”, huh?!”

The woman loudly said what the short man and the yakuza man had been trying to avoid saying.

“Even if that’s the case, there aren’t that many of OUR kind who would wish to be tethered to the police department…”

The short man said, unconcernedly drinking his tea.

“…I guess that’s the problem. I can’t even use my talismans to scope out new faces unless Supervisor okays it…”

The yakuza man grumbles.

Clack.

The door to Unit 2’s office opened, and the tall, stoic Supervisor Ooishi walked in.

“It’s time.”

At those words the lazy – almost sloppy – atmosphere in the room disappeared in an instant as all members stood up.

————–

——Kousei Side——–

“Huh? So Unit 2 stole the case about the woman kind-of attacking random people?”

“Well, stole is… I can’t talk about it too much, but there’s some tension between the two units. It seems like Unit 2 often takes cases from Unit 1.”

We’re walking to the shopping district in town. Although there are buses, it’s not that far of a walk.

Hm… I wonder how late the busses run… well, I’ll look it up later.

Anyway, Daiki-san was explaining why he got home so early.

Because the case they’d been working on even since before Daiki-san transferred in got stolen, Unit 1’s Supervisor Endo yelled loudly about not having any more work to do so they might as well all just go home.

“… Daiki-san, you don’t seem too bothered by it.”

“Hm. Well, I guess I don’t really understand the rivalry. It’s true we haven’t been making any headway on the case. At the same time, Unit 2 is known for never coming out with results as well. But if they take the cases Unit 1 can’t solve that turn out to be unsolvable, aren’t they keeping Unit 1’s solve-rate high? Ah, but as a police officer I guess that’s not what you should focus on…”

He’s totally confused.

“…It sounds complicated.”

I say.

“It is.”

He responded.

By the way, Honoka was excitedly watching the scenery as we walked by, and even now she’s looking around the much busier shopping district with great interest.

It appears that the surroundings are so overwhelmingly stimulating that she doesn’t even bother trying to participate in my and Daiki-san’s conversation.

As we near the ramen shop, we begin to see the signs of its popularity.

“Ooh… there’s a line out the door of that place.”

Honoka looks at it excitedly.

“Well, that’s how it is with popular restaurants.”

Daiki-san responded with a laugh

Even though it’s a weekday before the businessmen get out… well, that’s fine.

Thinking like that, as we proceed to the end of the line, something catches my eye.

A cafe menu board on the sidewalk.

That’s nothing too special, but cute mochis and meatbuns with emoticon faces decorates the board in between the daily specials.

Feeling the dread, my eyes move to the store window behind the menu board. Cutesy animal decals dance across the glass while carrying coffee, cakes, and omurice.

Moving my eyes further upwards, there, above the storefront, the sign proudly proclaims:

Cafe Cinnamon.

… Normal store my ass.

“What’s wrong?”

Honoka pressed down on the top of my head until I was bent over.

“…No, nothing. Or like, you’re squishing me.”

“Fufufu. You’re spacing out, but we’re going to eat ramen, you know? Ramen!”

Seriously, if Honoka had her tails out, all six of them would be swishing furiously from side to side.

“Right, right, calm down.”

Thankfully the line is going pretty quick – Ah, a big group of college student-aged people just exited. No wonder.

I’ve noticed that youkai are always focused on their stomachs. From what I can gather, eating=gaining power, and gaining power=increasing physical strength and wellbeing.

I guess it can’t be helped that youkai are all gluttons~.

“…Somehow I think you’re thinking rude things.”

“Nono, you’re mistaken…”

After the college guys went out, everyone that was waiting in the short line outside was able to go in.

At the ticket machine…

Daiki-san got double pork with a side of extra noodles, huh? Well, that’s normal for him. He’ll probably get all the extra toppings, too.

Honoka… Ah. She’s kind of confused.

“Just play it safe and get miso pork or something.”

“Hm… Although I want to try this ‘corn butter’ one…”

… Ah. Now that I think of it, there’s been a lot of foods brought in from other countries since 2000 years ago.  Corn is something new to her.

“Ah… eh. They have Sapporo ramen here? Uwo, Taiwan ramen! Eh? Why are there random specialty ramens…?”

The guy behind me laughed.

“Ah, is this your first time here? The chef enjoys cooking different types of ramen on a whim, so he swaps out the regional types every month or so.”

“Eh… prep work must be a pain here. Ah, get the Sapporo ramen, Honoka. It has butter, corn, pork, and scallops.”

As for me, I want the spicy tsukemen.

“Ah, sorry for taking so much time.”

I say to the guy behind us.

“Haha, no, it’s fine. People are always confused by the many options the first time they come.”

I’m glad he’s a nice guy… some people can get impatient and angry when there’s a line… ah, after the college group left there’s no line right now, though.

Ramen was my favorite after practice food to go out for with my baseball teammates in my previous life. It was probably my favorite food period.

In this life?

Hm. With the [Cooking] Blessing, no, with all the cooking I’ve done, I think I’ve grown to enjoy all sorts of food a little more, so I don’t think I can say ramen is my favorite. Although it’s certainly packed with nostalgia.

“Extra veggies and toasted garlic, please!”

Ah. As expected of Daiki-san.

He loves meat, but he likes vegetables too. In other words, he likes food.

Slurp.

“Hm?”

I look over to see Honoka, quietly tilting her head, her chopsticks in her mouth.

That’s bad manners… or like, is there a problem? She looks a little concerned.

“…”

Did… did it not suit her taste?

If hamburg was fine, I can’t see ramen being unpalatable.

“Does it taste weird?”

I asked.

Honoka was chewing slowly, glancing at me then at the chef.

She makes a small, sly smile.

“… I see. So that’s what it was. No, the taste is great. I love the broth and the sweetness of the corn.”

Something about how she said it bothers me, but I don’t want to risk any insulting talk towards the chef, or rather talk that could be assumed to be insulting, so I decide to keep the questions for later.

“That’s good then…”

I dip my noodles into the broth and slurp.

Un. Delicious.

… Ah. Is this the first time I’ve gone to a ramen shop in this world?

Kuu… I guess I really missed it.

It’s too soon, but we finish quickly. There’s the beginning of a line outside again.

What a shame, it’s good enough to make me wish there was more, or that I could get seconds. Although I’m definitely full.

Somehow Daiki-san, with all his extras, still finished first and was waiting for us outside.

“Fuun, that was soooo good.”

Honoka rubs her stomach with satisfaction.

Although you seemed concerned about something earlier; well, it’s good that she’s satisfied.

“It really is the culmination of artisans of the past, ne?”

She asks as she glances at me.

“Well, that’s about it. Guys in ramen shops jealously guard their recipes, but at the same time they pass it down to their apprentices and family members who will continue to adjust and improve the taste.”

Daiki-san said as he stretched in satisfaction.

“…Daiki-san. Aren’t you hot wearing that jacket? To eat ramen, no less.”

I finally talk about what was bothering me all this while.

“Hahaha, well…”

He averts his eyes.

“…Totally suspicious.”

“Yes.”

Honoka agrees with me.

In that manner, we walk towards the boutiques near the station.

Ah, the Uniqlo, spotted! It’s a little smaller than the ones in Tokyo, but here we can probably get everything Honoka needs.

Eh? We’re being cheap?

It’s an emergency. For goodness’ sake, even if you ignore the fact that we didn’t have women’s underwear, Honoka is even wearing my casual sandals for going out to the backyard.

We need everything, multiples of it, and fast.

If Honoka decides she wants to be fashionable, well, at that time we’ll look into it, but I’m not really even sure how Honoka will react to western wear.

Although she seems to be dealing with my clothes well…

As we enter the store, a female shop attendant calls out,

“Welcome-! Can I help you with anything?”

“Ah, no, that’s –“

As Daiki-san starts to say something, a brilliant idea shot through my head.

“Yeah, my cousin lost all her luggage so she needs some new clothes to tide her over until they find it.”

“Oh my, that’s terrible! Let me help you!”

“O-oh, um…”

Honoka is led off by the attendant.

Honoka loses her nerve when it’s stuff she doesn’t understand much about, huh?

But … Alright-! Although some of them can be pushy, especially in shops where they have to make commission, in general I’ve found shop attendants to be extremely helpful! In my previous life, I mean.

In this situation, where we need ALL the necessities women need, the shoppers are Honoka – who hasn’t seen any modern women’s garments despite being able to hear about them – and two useless guys, me and Daiki-san.

Although I guess Daiki-san might have gone shopping a lot with his lover, and I tagged along as a baggage carrier with my girlfriend in a previous life, but somehow…

Yeah, leaving it up to a professional is the best idea.

“…That was pretty clever.”

Thanks, Daiki-san. I thought so myself.

“But why are you so fixated on that cousin scenario?”

Ugh.

“W-well, two guys who picked up a random girl who needs clothes is too suspicious, right?”

It’s not like I can come out and say that that’s the cover story I thought about using to explain why Honoka is living with us, since Daiki-san still hasn’t approved of it.

————–

I expected Honoka to come back looking completely drained, but her face is flushed and she looks like she’s been having fun.

Daiki-san and I look up from where we were debating whether or not Daiki-san needed better shoes for work.

“Oooh, that looks good.”

Daiki-san says.

“Yeah, it suits you. Attendant-san, good job!”

Daiki-san’s a little surprised at me addressing the attendant with a thumbs up, but he just gives a wry smile.

Honoka is wearing simple jean shorts with a loose shirt tucked in and a lacy knit sweater over it. Shoes are girls’ fashion sandals.

As expected, the slightly girlish tomboy look suits her best.

“I’ve got another two outfits, a set of sleepwear, and extra underwear, but… even though you can mix and match, will it be enough?”

The attendant looks at Daiki-san and me with that question.

Daiki-san makes a troubled face, since he’s feeling unsure about exactly how much we should spend on Honoka.

“No, get a few more things, Honoka.”

I say.

Honoka makes the exact same troubled face as Daiki-san.

“But…”

“At least enough underwear for a week.”

Honoka sighs.

“… Seriously. I don’t need…”

“Well, I don’t want to have to do laundry every day.”

Honoka sighs at my response again.

“Fufu, you guys are fun. Alright, Honoka-san, let’s get that other stuff you were looking at!”

The shop attendant is having fun, huh?

As they go back into the depths of the store, Daiki-san sighs, just like Honoka.

“Kousei-kun… I don’t want to say too much, but don’t overspend, okay? It could get troublesome later…”

Well, I understand your concerns, but the situation is different from what you think, Daiki-san.

Although I don’t know how to explain it to you.

————–

Anyway, I paid with money withdrawn from the account my father deposits money into.

Even if Honoka was a woman who was taking advantage of me like Daiki-san fears, I would have no regrets wasting that man’s money.

I feel a twinge of regret for being such an unfilial son.

“… Seriously, this is too much…”

Honoka says.

She’s carrying several bags. One was a bag with the clothes I leant her in it. The attendant had been very helpful and attentive in every aspect, huh?

“But it’s necessary.”

I say in response to Honoka’s grumblings.

Honoka mutters,

“I’m definitely going to get a part-time job.”

As we step out into the street…

“… What is this? It’s so quiet.”

Daiki-san, who was the first one out, makes an extremely serious face.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen him like this.

“Eh? Um…”

I look around. It should have been a little after 7 pm, but where are all the people that should have been on the streets? For that matter, there aren’t even people in any of the stores, that I could see from the windows.

Honoka frowns.

She leans close to me.

“Kousei. We’ve entered someone’s dimensional barrier.”

Was what she whispered in my ear.


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<a/n: Aaaand an abrupt switch from mundane activities :)>

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11 comments

  1. I’m not sure about the storyline so far, but I do like the writing style, it almost feels a little like Spider Robinson (Callahan’s Saloon series among others, worth reading). I find it comfortable to read, not over-taxing with words or too much explaining. To this point it might be slightly confusing for someone who was completely brand new to sci-fi/fantasy, but I don’t think anybody that new would have stumbled into here (not a criticism, just an observation).

    Like

  2. Well, it’s not like I was expecting something strange to happen to him at all, because that would be something a sadist author world write, yup. 😉

    Like

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