Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Part 2 – First Time Grape Cake
Chapter 5 – To Akebi (Part 1)
Sui had received some hand-me-down clothes from Red to change into. From these, he chose a white shirt and black pants and rolled up the sleeves and the hem of the pants. Most of the hand-me-down clothes were too big on him, which wasn’t surprising considering their height difference. Sui was a bit frustrated though. He slung the bag in which he put the pendant, his grandmother’s keepsake, over his shoulder and headed for the front door.
Red was dressed as usual and was holding a huge amount of luggage.
“Carry this for me.” He handed Sui an attaché case he’d been holding in one of his hands. “There are gemstones inside.”
Without thinking, Sui retracted the hand that had been reaching for the case. He hadn’t been planning on treating it roughly but to hear that there were gemstones inside? …Scary.
“I’m half joking.”
Red opened the attaché case. Packed tightly inside were beautiful, individually wrapped stones. Transparent blue, deep red, and green that was reminiscent of fresh leaves – they were all fascinatingly beautiful.
“I pick up stones that have a nice shape and color, refine and polish them. The type of stone doesn’t concern me much. Color and shape are important, which is why a good-looking stone can be sold for a high price, regardless of what type of gem it is. I’m going to sell these at a store in Akebi.”
I see. So this is what Red’s job is.
Sui stared for a moment, fascinated by the glittering stones, then closed the case and picked it up carefully.
Red held even more luggage. Other than the attaché case, he was carrying a large board on his back.
“There aren’t any gems in there, right?”
“Yeah, well, I mean.”
Sui tilted his head at the hesitant Red.
“I said… ings.”
Red, who had suddenly shouted, turned to a different direction.
“I draw as a hobby. Sometimes I sell them, so I’m bringing them along with the stones.”
Red, with his ears dyed bright red, looked somewhat cute and Sui had to resist the sudden urge to laugh.
As always, his eyes, a crucial part for expressing emotions, were hidden, but Red’s expression was straight-forward and easy to understand. Even if his eyes were hidden, his face and voice were more expressive than Sui’s. Sui was jealous but also found it endearing.
“I’d like to see them, Red-san’s paintings.”
Red’s shoulders shook slightly and he cast a fleeting glance in Sui’s direction.
“They’re not that great. It’s not like I’m particularly good at drawing.”
“That’s not what I meant. I want to see them because they are paintings Red-san made.”
“You-!” Red yelled before tightly shutting his mouth. He’d gone red down to his neck.
He turned around, put his shoes on and left the house without Sui. Sui followed after him.
Sui was confused, wondering whether he’d made him angry when Red muttered something.
“…anyway, when I sell it, you’ll get to see the painting.”
Red will show it to him once they reach Akebi.
When they got to Akebi, Sui had planned to go find his grandmother’s friend no matter what. In reality, once they arrived, he could freely move about without Red keeping watch, which had been his original plan. But if he could see Red’s paintings when they got there, Sui thought he could do his best walking down this road that took more than an hour to cross.
“That’s right,” Red said after finally calming down, “I’m warning you in advance – even if we go to Akebi today, you might not find your grandmother’s friend. There’s a lot of traffic in and out of Akebi.”
Sui cocked his head, not knowing what he meant by that.
“They say there’s an island country to the far west. An island that can’t be found on any map and hasn’t been discovered by adventurers or helicopters. It’s as if it’s an island made by magicians for magicians. A lot of people from Akebi go there for work.”
There was a country like that?
“Huh? But if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to just live there instead of taking the trouble to commute?”
“’I don’t want to be separated from the place where I was born’ or ‘the atmosphere in that country doesn’t allow for peace of mind’ – there are all kinds of reasons. There seem to be a lot of people who work there but live in all kinds of magician cities around the world.”
Hearing that, Sui thought that they weren’t that different from regular humans. There are a lot of people who want to work in one place and live in another. It’s just that regular people have to make compromises while magicians can use magic to make their ideals come true.
“What magicians who work outside do is come back to their house in Akebi after they’ve finished all their work over there. So don’t get depressed if you don’t find the friend today. It’s just a matter of luck.”
“It’s ok. I won’t get depressed.”
Red laughed a little when he saw Sui clenching his fist.
“That’s right, you were someone that had guts in the strangest of places.”
“I’ve been thinking about it since before, but when you say that… you’re making fun of me, aren’t you?”
“No way. It’s a compliment.”
“I wonder if that’s true.” Unexpectedly, Sui was smiling. “Speaking of which, that store we’re going to, what kind of place is it?”
“It’s run by a bad friend of mine.” Red said without hesitation.
“A bad friend, you say…”
“He’s also my childhood friend.”
“Childhood friend… since when have you been living in Akebi?”
Red had said that he had come to live in Akebi after getting lost, but had it been at an age when he was young enough to have a childhood friend?
“A long time ago. When I was an infant. A small child like that had gotten lost, so they took me in. That was my bad, childhood friend’s house.”
“Oh, I see.”
Red seemed to have gotten lost in an unexpectedly grand way.
Still, he had a childhood friend. Sui was relieved that there was someone Red was close to, but why was his chest stinging?
“Um, what kind of person is he?”
“He’s not a bad person, just annoying.”
Sui had never seen an angry Red. Since they met, up until now, Red had always been kind to Sui, even if he did tease him sometimes. Calling his friend annoying was probably something he could say because they were childhood friends.
The town of Akebi was neither too quiet nor too crowded. There were people walking about but there wasn’t really a lively atmosphere. If he hadn’t heard anything about it, Sui would have thought it was a normal town. Straight after they had arrived, he had started doubting whether this was actually a magicians’ town or not.
However, as they walked through the town, a girl walking in front of them snapped her finger and disappeared in a flash. Surprised, Sui looked around and saw her on the veranda of a house, happily talking to another kid.
It truly is magic…
He saw others wave wands to water the plants or stir broomsticks around the eaves of houses. Sui couldn’t help looking around in circles. He did notice one thing though. It might be obvious, but for magicians, using magic was something normal. It was a normal, everyday thing for them.
When he walked around, gaze spinning in circles like a tourist visiting a foreign country for the first time, Red chided at him to calm down.
A little later, they arrived at a large house with a conspicuous red roof. That seemed to be their destination.
There was a sign that read “ACCESSORY UMBRELLA” hanging outside.1
“That’s some amazing English.” Sui muttered without thinking.
“Stuff like this also makes him annoying.” Red opened the door looking exasperated.
The doorbell rattled and a cheerful voice came flying from inside.
A young, blond man turned to them with a friendly smile.
“Hey, it’s Red. Long time~”
“Delivery of goods.”
“How have you been? Ah, do you want some tea~?”
“I said I’m here to deliver the goods. Anyway, we’ve been keeping in touch, so it hasn’t been long at all.”
“Ehhhh, but it’s been a long time since we met. How cold. Huh? Eh!?” All of a sudden the young man’s2 eyes turned to Sui. He had a white eyepatch on his right eye.
Does he also have a problem with his eye? Is there something like an eye epidemic in Akebi?
“Oh my, Red, could this child be…?”
The young man nodded his head after staring at Sui intently. “Aha, I see, hmm.”
What do you see?
When Sui shrunk back, Red struck the young man on the head. “Don’t scare him.”
“Eh? You were scared? Sorry, sorry!” The young man stroked his head and winked. “Oh no, I didn’t mean to do that. I think Red’s scarier than me though.”
“Do you want to be hit again?”
“Uwaaa, please forgive me.” He vigorously shook his head from side to side.
“So, I came to deliver the goods.”
“Well rather than that, why don’t we have some tea? It’s been a while and I’d like to hear more about this kid.” The young man burst into laughter.
Red glanced at Sui and then sighed. “…We have to return by five.”
“Roger that! Right, I’ll go prepare the tea. Ah, please turn over the sign out front.”
“Don’t make your guests do errands.”
In a graceful maneuver, the young man turned around on his heel and retreated inside. Red went out front looking like he wanted to swear.
The sign outside had said that this was an accessory store and there were indeed a lot of necklaces, earrings and rings on display. There were a variety of designs, from flashy to refined, using beautiful gems like the ones Sui had seen in Red’s attaché case.
At some point, while he had been captivated by the glittering insides of the store, Red had returned after flipping the sign and came to stand next to him.
“That was Kasa – my bad, childhood friend. He’s really annoying, isn’t he?”
“Um, I feel like he’s a good person, probably.”
Red laughed, as if a bit troubled by Sui’s inconsistent comment.
“It’s only a feeling that he’s a good person? Well, his nature isn’t… bad, but he’s annoying. Oi, Kasa, I flipped the sign.”
When Red called out, Kasa replied – “Thanks! Go on up to the second floor.”
Sui followed Red, who was walking ahead of him. The second floor was completely different from the first floor. A living area with stuff like a kitchen, television, table and sofa spread out before Sui.
After a short while, the sound of hurried footsteps could be heard and Kasa came up.
“Sorry for the wait~”
“You close the store too often for a shopkeeper.”
“But if a customer like Red comes to drink tea, shouldn’t I take care of them?”
“You’re going to go bankrupt at some point.”
“Sorry, but my turnover is excellent~ Thanks to you. Ah, that’s right – here.” Kasa held out the box in his hand. Patisserie Harugase was written on the box in a cute font.
“You, that’s-” Red started as if surprised.
“Fufu, it’s that Harugase’s cake.”
“Is it open today?”
“I think they’ve already closed. It’s the afternoon after all.”
“Anyway, what’s with you skipping work to go buy that?”
“I didn’t go buy it, I got it as a gift earlier. And what’s more, there are exactly three pieces! Let’s have it together with the tea. I wonder if the boy likes cake?”
He suddenly turned to Sui, and Sui nervously blinked.
“U, um… I like it ok.”
“Ehhhh!? There’s a child who doesn’t like cake?”
Sui had mixed feelings about being called a child by someone who seemed to be the same age as Red and was about four or five years older. If there had been such an age gap between them, would he have thought the same?
“Oh well. I’m sure even you will like this cake~! Because inside is…” Kasa opened the box wide. “Ta-dah! The town’s most popular patisserie’s seasonal grape cake!”
Sui noticed Red next to him fidgeting, as if he were impatient.
“A patisserie that opens on a whim and only operates until noon; that’s good enough to be called the number one most popular! Look forward to it~!”
Putting the box down, Kasa went into the kitchen, practically dancing, and prepared some cups and plates. He poured the black tea from up high and placed the town’s most popular, oblong cake pieces that had big, jewel-like grapes on top, on the plates.
“The fluffy sponge, the slightly sweet, fresh cream, the cherished ingredients – it’s irresistible. You’re definitely going to love it! Now, dig in.”
Although Sui felt pressured from that high-tension explanation, he still put his hands together and said “Itadakimasu.” Then, he scooped up a bite of cake with his fork.
The moment he took a bite, the sweet flavor of the juicy grape burst in his mouth and Sui unconsciously brought his hand to cover his mouth. He swallowed and his first impression of the food leaked out.
Just when he was thinking he had troubled Red and Kasa, who had frozen, openmouthed, Kasa burst out laughing.
“Fuahahahaha! It’s definitely delicious, but I didn’t think we would get a confession! You’re such a funny fella.” Laughing in a pleasant voice, Kasa poked Red with his elbow.
“You… you like these kinds of things?” Red muttered. “You said you didn’t like bread.”
“Aren’t bread and cake different?” (Sui)
“Uu… Well, yeah, Harugase’s cake is delicious… w, what, what about it do you like?” For some reason, Red asked in a surprisingly desperate way.
“Hmm… I can’t really express it.”
“Do something about that!”
“Even if you tell me to do something about it I still don’t know.”
For some reason Red, who had been looking forward to the cake just moments ago, was now glaring at it with resentment. Seeing this exchange, Kasa started laughing even harder until tears came to his eyes.