The days naturally grew much hotter when the sun came out at the end of the rainy season. When Ilias had first told me that no such thing as ‘the four seasons’ existed in his homeland and that it was always chilly all year round, I had somewhat predicted how he would react to the summer. But, this guy… he really turned out to be absurdly weak to the heat. ‘I feel guilty about using the air conditioner…’ were his words when he decided to pass the days by with only the electric fan. One day, however, I came back from work to find him melting off the sofa, passed out. My heart nearly stopped at that moment.
Ever since he had suffered mild heat stroke that day, I persistently instructed him to make sure to keep the air conditioner running even if it was cool inside, and to drink lots of salt water. “The Summer of Nippon is quite severe, isn’t it…” When I heard Ilias make such a rare and earnest complaint, I anxiously started fussing over him to the point where I might as well have Job Changed into being his Mom. 1
On a certain day, I left work and got back home at the same time as usual. Ilias, who had been cooking dinner, had greeted me with a ‘Welcome home’ when I opened the front door. It was then that I noticed the cloudy expression on his face. Though he tried to hide it, I wasn’t fooled one bit by his utterly transparent smile. I peered at Ilias’s face, tilting my head as if to ask what was wrong, but I decided not to call him out on it and only replied, ‘I’m home’.
“Oh, we’re having hiyashi chuuka today?” 2
I checked what was for dinner while walking past Ilias, who only smiled before pinching a bit of shredded ham from the edge of the cutting board and offering it to me. Well, would you look at that—at first he used to scold me for sneaking food whenever I passed by, but now he simply handed it over to me. Time to eat up! I parted my lips and chomped down on that ham in front my eyes, then chased after the hand that was withdrawing. Ilias’s body gave a jolt when I took his fingers deep in my mouth, but I had no plans of stopping. My tongue slowly licked the underbelly of his fingers, slid in the space between his nails, then wrapped around the fingertips as I nipped gently at them.
His eyebrows knitted in self-restraint, reddening all the way up to his cheeks. I had recently discovered his weak point—it lay in his fingertips, which I henceforth began to tease and molest whenever possible. Though the words ‘Let go—’ fell from his mouth plenty of times, he would actually never continue and say something like: ‘Just get off of me already, jeez’. I really loved that face he made, like he was falling apart and barely able to hold himself together.
After taking my fill of his fingertips, I released his fingers with a powerful suck. My eyes met Ilias’s, whose princely façade had been rent apart by an expression openly dripping with lust. Crap, I went too far—the instant I pulled my body back, Ilias’s outstretched arm reached out to me. As if I’d let him catch me that easily. Just how many times would we skip dinner if he caught me every time, I thought. Spinning around towards the bedroom, I gave him a good view of my back and, of course, didn’t forget to look back and grin smugly at him.
“Thanks for the snack—I’m heading off to change.”
Satisfied by the look on his face after he’d been told to wait, I swallowed up the ham.
We watched TV while drinking barley tea after we had finished eating the hiyashi chuuka. A variety show played on the screen, but since I hadn’t been paying much attention I didn’t understand what it was about. Although usually Ilias eagerly tried to learn and understand the words coming from the TV, today he only watched the screen with a blank gaze like his heart wasn’t into it.
Something must have come up. I had wanted to just gently wait until he talked about it, but… it troubled me to think of how many of these days might pass before then. At times like these, you could only rely on the power of alcohol. After making a show of stretching widely, I stood up and went to the fridge, then answered the questioning gaze I felt at my back by picking up a can of beer and holding it up so that Ilias could see it.
“… Sure, why not.”
I wondered if he’d picked up on what I meant when I said that. Ilias made a face like an idea had come to him, and nodded. While he fetched glasses, plates and some potato chips, I took out two beer cans and dropped them on the low table. It would be fine if we just drank straight out of the cans, and rather than pouring the chips out onto a plate we could have just opened the bag, but… well, I guess Ilias was just well-mannered that way.
I raised the pull tab on the can with a satisfying pop, then poured the drink into the cups Ilias had brought. The beer sloshed inside the glasses as we toasted with a clink. Ahhhh, beer after a long day of work was the best. I gulped it down for nearly half a minute, then stretched my hand out for the snacks.
While watching TV, I repeated that process for quite a while… then the show ended and switched over to the commercial break, and a somber voice from beside me called out my name.
“That is… I was contacted again today.”
I had thought it would be something like that. When this guy brooded, it would usually be because he was thinking about his return to his home world. It was something that should’ve made him happy, so why did it make him have a face like that instead? He held the glass in his hands and restlessly fidgeted. I prompted him to keep going in the silence that followed, and after fixing his gaze down to the table, he continued to speak.
“At present, the restoration of the teleportation device has reached 80% completion. My return is estimated to become possible as early as next month, according to Nippon time.”
“So it’s all going as planned, huh. That’s good news—what’s there to feel down about?”
I stuffed potato chips in my mouth, talking as if it didn’t mean anything to me. That’s right; it didn’t mean anything. He was just going back to where he belonged. That was all. He and I weren’t lovers, so it was nothing. We were just… roommates, roommates who had a more intense physical relationship than other people… Being called ‘partners’ might be the best fit for us.
“…I want to stay here, by Azusa’s side.”
He looked like he might cry. When he squeezed those words out, my breath stopped.
What the heck are you saying? Let’s stop that, okay? Saying such things… I’ll pretend I didn’t notice, so don’t say it. Don’t say that kind of thing… There was so much that I wanted to say then, but at that moment, ‘Damn it’ was the only thing that came to mind.
“What are you saying? Tell me, Ilias Garland, what position do you hold?”
“You’re a Knight of the Kingdom who’s meant to guard the Gri-whatever Fortress, aren’t you? That was your pride and honor, wasn’t it?”
Relieved to have said it, I took a breath. Ilias finally turned his face towards me. The expression he had, as if he was utterly lost, made me want to smile bitterly—but only in my heart. Right now, the only thing I could do was put on a cruel face and coldly hook up the corners of my mouth.
“Back in your world you have friends and family waiting for your return, as well as companions who are desperately working to bring you back, don’t you?”
“That’s right, but…”
“You’ve got things you have to do, for their sake as well, right? Is this really the kind of situation where you can stay and keep cooking meals for me?
“Ah, it’s not like I’m asking you to keep freeloading off of me forever; it’s just, that’s what I like best about you staying here. When I can’t eat your meals anymore, I’ll be—”
Really lonely, was what I had wanted to say, but the words didn’t come out. A strong pair of arms wrapped around me and buried my face into Ilias’s chest. From the side I heard the clear ringing of the glass falling onto the floor, but none of that mattered when the embrace tightened. Above me came the sounds of sniffling accompanied by a rain of ‘sorry’s and desperate apologies.
He’s really such a crybaby, this guy. Can you really be a knight like this… If he keeps crying like that, it’ll make me start tearing up, too.
The truth is, I want you to just be with me. I can’t imagine living alone anymore, and I don’t want to. But the limit to our time together is just around the corner, and now we have to stop hesitating and face it. Ahh, damn it—just how did things turn out like this?
I’m straight, so, just… how did I end up falling for this doggy-like knight? Even though I never understood what it meant to love someone so much that your chest hurt… right now, my heart was in so much pain that I wanted to die. Stupid Ilias.
“Hmmm, it’s deeefinitely tough alright, but if you’ll only be with ’em for a limited time then even if you can’t date, you can at least make some memories, maybe?”
“Making memories, huh… I can’t believe words like those actually came out from a mouth like yours, Mita.”
I drank some draft beer within the busy pub, while Mita’s face screwed up as he ate edamame.
“Whaddya mean! What I handed you was totally a good answer, ya know!”
He had this ‘I’m being picked ooon!’ expression, but that was really the impression people got considering the way this trash’s brain worked—I didn’t point it out though, since it would end up being a pain.
Sometimes when it was time to leave work, the words ‘Let’s go drinkiiinggg!’ would come flying at me. Normally I would just refuse, but after yesterday’s events had left me with an uneasy feeling and the need for a distraction, I agreed this time on the condition that I’d have only one drink. I amenably told Ilias over the phone that I was having a single drink with my junior coworker, and when he told me to be careful about having too much I readily agreed. His voice sounded somewhat lonely, so I added that I wanted dinner, too. “Then I’ll wait for you!” he replied with utter happiness, and my gaze and mouth naturally softened.
Mita, who’d been eavesdropping on our exchange, had exclaimed, “So you’re living together?!” And that was how I’d gotten the bad idea of complaining to him all about this guy who’d come from another world etc., while roughly fudging certain unmentionable details in my explanation.
This person who was not my lover—a roommate and companion I had a physical relationship with, though we had never gone all the way, revealed a desire to stay together with me while crying. It was impossible to stop those words from being spoken, but I wanted later on to be able to end our relationship on pleasant terms without any rotting emotional baggage weighing us down. And as I worriedly mulled over what I should do about this, Mita’s suggestion to go make some memories had slightly surprised me.
“There are a ton of events to go to around this time, right? Ahh, and how about watching fireworks together outta the window of an inn, yeah?!”
“By now, there’s no way that kind of great room would be available.”
“You won’t know unless ya search for it! I’ll ask around with my friends—hold on a minute!”
After stating that, Mita tapped away at his phone and then began to make a call. I would really appreciate if he would be this motivated toward work as well… And in the first place, I wanted to tsukkomi him and ask if he really thought he could get a room in a high-class inn just by using his personal connections, but the moment the call connected and he started speaking, I shut my mouth. 3
His suggestion wasn’t bad at all—I had been thinking that I wanted to do something with Ilias for the end; I suppose going on a trip might be a good idea. Maybe there would be fireworks, or maybe a summer festival. I wanted to let him experience an open-air bath at an onsen resort, and if the sea was close by then maybe I could take him to go swimming, too. 4 The more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to do it. This is the first time I ever contemplated over something so much for someone else’s sake, so my mood became somewhat sappy. Aah, it really does feel like I’ve fallen in love with him, huh.
“Sakurai-san! I managed to get you the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of August. I’ll send you the details for the inn later!”
“Thank you. Really.”
Going on a trip with Ilias—just thinking about it made me excited. Perhaps my expression unconsciously changed or something when I gave my thanks, because Mita’s face strangely turned a shade of red before he covered it up, muttering something in an inaudible voice.
The people in the comments gave me the question ‘How does Ilias exercise’, but… how does he, ne?? I didn’t really think too deeply about it…
In a bit, I’ll write about the a-mazing story of Ilias’s muscle workouts! Thanks for giving me some great content! lol
Ilias’s muscle workouts remain a mystery, but here’s something else!
There’s a hashtag floating around on Japanese twitter which reads:
#Calling all writers, write in your style how to make cup yakisoba
Taro-sensei’s Tweet #1
Put the soup base in after three minutes… Alright, it should be good now. Though I wonder why the container for this cup ramen is in such a square form… hm? Wh—Why are there holes at the end of the lid…? Eh? The hot water has to be drained?
W-wait, please, Azusa. My soup…? Huh? This isn’t ramen…?
Taro-sensei’s Tweet #2
Uwaa, are you serious, you actually threw the sauce in there… It smells so freakin’ strong… Wait, a—are you crying?! It really made you that sad…?!
W-well, at least the yakisoba will be happy that you care about it so much… Ah, he didn’t… laugh… He’s, not, smiling…!
Nnnngh, fine! Here, go eat your ramen! I’ll top it off with a boiled egg, so don’t cry anymore. Okay? (lol)
pats Ilias It’s okay… you aren’t the only one who didn’t know about cup yakisoba…
If you’re like me and Ilias, cup yakisoba a set of packaged dry noodles similar to cup ramen. Yakisoba, however, is supposed to be eaten dry. You pour the hot water into the container, let the water sit and cook the noodles, then drain the container using the handy-dandy sieve included in the lid (see those holes above)! After you drain the water, you put the seasoning on.
Ilias, however, had no idea what cup yakisoba was, so he treated it like ramen. He poured all of the seasoning into the hot water which is supposed to be drained out…
Azusa took pity on him. (lol)
Thanks to our lo♥ve♥ly Agent Psyx for her wonderful work as always!! We’re trying a new system where she takes the chapter and runs away with it instead of having me staring and breathing heavily over her shoulder. I think it works!
Thanks to Taro-sensei for her wonderful stories!!（≧∇≦) I was so excited to see those tweets… Ilias and Azusa being a lovey-dovey married couple heals my soul. Especially during these chapters…
In the next chapter, Ilias and Azusa go on a honeymoon. Please look forward to it.
[Edit 3/20/2018: Thanks to Yuann-san for correcting sea baths = swimming in the sea! (･ω´-ゞ)^☆ ]
- “Job Change” is a gaming term from certain kinds of classical JRPGs like Final Fantasy, where your party characters can switch their ‘classes’ to become warriors, mages, monks, and so on. In this case, Azusa is saying that he should change his specialty from being a ‘salaryman’ to being ‘Mom’ because he was fussing so much. ↩
- Hiyashi chūka is a Japanese dish consisting of chilled ramen noodles with various toppings served in the summer. (via Google) ↩
- I’m leaving tsukkomi in since English words don’t do it justice. If you’re not familiar with tsukkomi, it’s a word from a Japanese comedic trope. One person is the boke does or says something stupid, and the other person is the tsukkomi who tries to snap them back to reality, sometimes in a shocked or exaggerated way. ↩
- Onsen resort = hot spring resort. ↩