It seems like Ilias really liked the TV. Once I’d told him that you could change channels using the remote control, he quickly started pushing buttons with ease. The TV had been playing Channel 1 before Ilias came over, and after cycling through all of the other stations, Ilias finally returned to the channel that I’d been watching while folding laundry. A nostalgic show appeared on the screen with talking puppets acting out the drama. Ah, I used to watch this show a long time ago, huh—this sure brings back good memories. I remember that the ninja in this show had been my #1 fave for an entire year. I only watched idly, contrasting with the way Ilias seriously regarded the screen in absolute concentration.
“This is amazing… in this world, even dolls are able to speak…!”
Ahh, nope, looks like I even have to tell this guy about the existence of the word ‘fiction’…
After I finally finished the laundry, I headed over to the kitchen and popped open the fridge. It’s pretty much filled with only water and beer. In fact, it’s kind of miraculous that I even had eggs in here. Three days ago I’d gotten them because I had wanted to add them to my chicken instant ramen, but once I’d run out of ramen there wasn’t any use for the rest of them. Though, there’s still one cup noodle left in the cupboard. If there’d been two then that would be it for dinner, but in the end there’s really only one, huh… Guess there’s no helping it. I’ll just have to go shopping. After deciding that, I immediately got ready.
“What’s going on? You’re putting on a coat…”
“There’s no food, so I’m gonna go shopping. Watch over the house for me.”
“You’re planning to go alone?”
“Yeah, the supermarket’s close by, so.”
“Wait, it’s getting dark outside. It’s dangerous to go by yourself.”
“Isn’t it six o’clock right now? Not sure that qualifies as dangerous.”
“No, it’s still not good. I ask that you please at least allow me to accompany you as an escort.”
He grabbed both of my shoulders. Jeez, this guy, I can already tell the trend in his behavior. The minute I try to deny him something, he goes and does something even more troublesome. I weighed the consequences of how annoying he’d be if I left him here versus if I brought him with me to the store, and strategically decided to take him with me. “Fine,” I told him with a nod, once again opening the closet door.
My coats were too small for him, but it was way too cold out to not wear one. “Wear this,” I said, handing a coat over to Ilias. The length of the arms was too short, so the cuffs of his white dress shirt peeked out. The fit of the shoulders was also tight… Alright, that’s enough, I don’t need to keep comparing the sizes of my body parts to his anymore so let’s just stop.
I left this guy to sort out how to put his own shoes on, and went to leave the apartment. Standing in front of the door, I took a peek back into the corridor of my apartment and saw that sometime in the space between me grabbing the key and walking outside, Ilias had for some godawful reason taken his sword and equipped it. This guy. This guy, had he not been listening to a single thing I said this morning?!
“What the heck are you doing?! Hey!”
“If I don’t bring this—”
“People are gonna think you’re dangerous, and you’ll get arrested!”
“…So you’d rather I not carry my sword with me?”
“… There’s no chance you’ll allow it?”
“Not a chance in hell.”
“… This sword is my pride as a Knight of the Kingdom, so—”
“I’m not negotiating what is and isn’t allowed. Look, if you won’t do it, just watch over the house for me.”
Whether you’re going or you’re not going, make up your mind already. In front of me, Ilias glared with a displeased pout. After a while, though, his face grew worried, and very gradually he started to put down his sword. “…I’m coming with you,” he mumbled almost inaudibly. Hmph, if that’s the case then from the beginning you should have just listened to what I was saying like a proper adult.
I pressed the button in front of the elevator. Will he freak out at this, too… Just as I thought that, the doors slid open on their own. Ilias startled wildly, and after witnessing that kind of reaction I couldn’t help but laugh a little. I casually boarded the elevator. Upon seeing me go, Ilias hastily rushed in after me.
The elevator brought us down to the first floor. As expected, the second time Ilias knew it was coming and didn’t get scared by the moving doors. The scenery outside the apartment was the usual one: middle-aged men coming back from work, schoolkids riding around on bikes, and cars coming and going. To Ilias, however, this was the first time he’d seen such strange and bizarre sights so he furtively glanced around, his eyes taking everything in with interest.
“Calm down. The way you’re acting stands out too much.”
“Ah, ahh, of course, I’m aware of that.”
Upon hearing my voice, Ilias looked a little relieved and nodded. He followed along directly behind me, and in the 5-minute walk to the supermarket I taught him the safety precautions for walking on the streets. How to look out for traffic signals, cars, bikes… Really, pedestrians had to pay attention to a lot of things. “It must truly be tough to organize such a harmonious system,” Ilias said, impressed. Yeah, it is. That’s why, could you not just leap over the guardrail when I tell you that we need to cross the street?
We arrived at the one-floor general supermarket. Since I didn’t have any plans for what I was going to buy, I put a basket inside of a cart and took them both into the store. Hm, if I want to get something that we can eat over several days, it’ll have to be curry.
As I turned to head toward the vegetable section, I realized that Ilias had stopped following me. Quickly turning around, I spotted him standing in front of the automated doors, gazing at the store interior with a gobsmacked expression on his face. The heck is this guy doing… A couple of old ladies carrying shopping baskets snickered under their breath. Just his physical appearance is enough to make this guy stand out, but when he’s standing in the middle of the entrance, he’s really way too conspicuous…!
“Incredible… This place is absolutely amazing…!”
This guy… After attracting all that attention, I felt the stress rising in my body. Ilias trotted over obliviously, looking around the place with sparkling eyes. Even if I have to see Mr Happy over there frolicking over everything, I’ll only become stupidly, stupidly stupid if I get worked up over it. 1
Apparently in Ilias’s country, stores where you can buy all of your food ingredients in a single place did not exist whatsoever. In ancient Japan, too, there’d been a time where everything had been sold from stalls along a shopping street. That was the sort of thing they had over at Ilias’s place. The ability to keep fresh, colorful vegetables and seasonal products on sale regardless of the growing season was something they didn’t have. “I truly admire this country’s technology!” Ilias said so many times that I lost count. Well, to be honest I hadn’t been seriously listening. Ilias’s happy chatter had become part of the background music while I focused on picking out the right produce.
After conquering both the vegetables and the meat, my next mission was to grab booze, dessert, and emergency food. I had begun to move toward the narrow aisles when Ilias pulled on my clothes. Yo, pulling on the hem of someone’s clothes is only okay for pretty girls. Am I supposed to be happy when it’s some big dude like you… When I turned around, Ilias was staring at the cart like he wanted to grab it and elope with it.
“That… if Sakurai Azusa is alright with it, then, um…”
“…What? Oh, do you want to push this around?”
Don’t hem and haw like that, it seriously gives me the creeps. Ah, but I guess I understand what he’s feeling. When I was a kid I wanted to push the cart around, too. “Drive it carefully,” I told him while handing over the cart, and Ilias thanked me profusely. Mm, I’ll allow you to keep thanking me some more.
Once we reached the end of the store I checked to make sure we hadn’t forgotten to grab anything, and then we went to line up at the cash register. When it was time to pay, sure enough Ilias looked at the barcode scanning machine with sparkling eyes, making the cashier lady become somewhat shy. I had just finished packing everything into plastic bags when Ilias very naturally reached over. Lifting all of the bags into his hands, he confidently said, “I’ll carry them.” 2
We quickly returned home, and I decided to start cooking right away. I told Ilias to help out and appointed the task of onion-chopping to him. “Leave it to me!” he said. He began working with high spirits, but immediately started to cry. Even so he kept bravely chopping those onions. My conscience started feeling pained. It’s just that I’m out of onions, so why does it feel like I’m doing something terrible… “Alright, that looks good,” I said, stopping him out of cowardice.
Still crying, Ilias asked, “Is there anything else I can help out with?”
I reflexively replied, “No, it’s already fine. You won’t be able to help with the secret ingredients or the cooking techniques. It’s okay if you just eat.”
I dumped everything into the pot and poured in the roux, boiling until the curry was finished. Ilias had been standing behind me the whole time, peeking while I cooked. When he first saw the curry-roux mix he’d made a disgusted face, but after it stewed together he admitted that it smelled good.
I poured the curry into plates, and we carried them over to the sofa. This was my first attempt at making curry with another person, and we sat down to prepare to try it. After putting a variety show on the TV I respectfully offered thanks for the food, took the spoon in my hand, and began stuffing my cheeks with curry. Ah, I’m really thankful that curry’s something that won’t taste bad no matter who makes it. Right next to me who’d been gobbling up curry was Ilias, who’d only scooped up a spoonful but hadn’t yet eaten. No doubt about it, he was wondering if something in this color was actually edible.
“What’s wrong, you’re not gonna eat?”
“Oh, no… that is…”
“It’s good, you know.”
“… Certainly, the way you’re eating shows that it’s really delicious…”
“Hmmm. So you’re just saying that you don’t want to eat this food that I made.”
“N-no, I’m not saying that. This meal that Sakurai Azusa had earnestly made with care to give to me, I, the reason I’m not eating is–”
“Mmm? Is what?”
Our eyes met. Ilias quickly averted his gaze like he was running away. However, when I kept on staring at him, Ilias gave in and prepared to face his opponent. After closing his eyes, Ilias picked up the spoon and shoved it into his mouth.
Moments later, his eyes vigorously opened. Then, after eating two, three, and many other consecutive spoonfuls of curry, Ilias turned his face toward me.
“This is truly delicious! Sakurai Azusa!!”
“Uh-huh. Eat up.”
This guy, no matter what he eats he’ll think it’s delicious. Well, for the food I make to be called ‘delicious’ is something that’ll make me happy, even if it’s not said in an eloquent way. I felt that it was somehow nice: going to the store, cooking together, and eating alongside someone else. Maybe it was just because I’d by myself for so long now. While telling myself that I shouldn’t get too attached, I shoveled the spoon into my mouth.
Thanks to Psyx for wonderful proofreading!!
Also, after creeping on a discussion in BlobT, I learned the proper way to make footnotes on wordpress. Turns out it was actually so easy… and here I was writing a bunch of html codes into the text… For the arrival of these proper, shiny footnotes, let’s all thank AdCaelum, AliceShiki, and Blee! Hurray!
- This was tough to translate… Azusa’s salt is too strong. He says, そのはしゃぎ様を見てれば、怒るのも馬鹿々々しくなってくる。/ sono hashagi-sama wo mitereba, okoru no mo baka baka baka shiku natte kuru. Actually, Google translated ‘hashagi’ as “rice cake” for some reason, so at first I thought Azusa was saying that if Ilias kept looking at this rice cake then he would become just as stupid as one… ↩
- Gotta use those combat-trained Knight muscles for something, eh? ↩