“It’s just for three days and two nights—what’s with all this luggage?!”
What greeted me when I came home from work that Thursday evening was an enormous bag cluttering up the entrance. Packing up this gigantic carry-on… Are you going overseas?! I also did plan on bringing a boston bag, but it absolutely wasn’t as stuffed as this… Just some underwear and a change of clothes is fine, you know…!
Reduce it, I ordered Ilias, who began opening his bag like a kicked puppy. The mumbled excuses to himself were ignored, as well as the forlorn air exuded by his back after I told him that he couldn’t possibly need so many stuff. I wouldn’t coddle him on this no matter how pitiful he looked. Hardening my heart into a demon’s, I peered into his bag and assessed the contents.
The magical communication device was a given so I suppose I’d allow him to bring it, but as for the other objects stuffed inside… Cooking utensils, household amenities, a pillow, a light blanket…
“… Hey, what kind of traveling have you done before?”
“That is… Training or expeditions…”
“Is that so,” I deadpanned. So this guy had never packed his things and gone on a trip simply to have fun, whether as a young master of nobility who rarely went outside or as an honorable and steadfast knight. I sighed and dropped my hand onto the bag. Ilias despondently apologized, so I ruffled his hair to tell him it was alright. To even start smiling wryly at him… I’ve really got it bad.
It was early in the morning, and though normally we’d be asleep at this time, the both of us were instead at the train station. Well, though I said it was early morning, a bunch of people still crowded the station terminal. The accustomed, veteran me zoomed toward the express train boarding area while Ilias waddled along from behind. 1 He gave the special express ticket I purchased at the platform a mystified look when I handed it over. “Don’t lose it,” I instructed before we went inside a shop. After taking a look around, I located the real pleasure of taking a train ride: the station-special bento, ekiben.2 “Let’s take this chance to get something to eat. Pick whichever one you like,” I told him.
“Is it really alright to buy such an extravagant bento?” Ilias asked, earnestly worrying. With how he was always throwing whatever foodstuffs he liked into the grocery cart, I wondered why would he be concerned about this now, but I guess he got bothered since the deluxe appearance of the ekiben was much different from the normal bento sold at the supermarket.
I was glad to see that the train had shinkansen-like seats rather than the regular ones; I might be slender enough to fit in those, but this guy over here who was double my size definitely wouldn’t be. 3 Once we were seated and the train started to move, Ilias stared out the window with childlike delight exactly just like how I’d imagined that a smile came up unbidden on my face.
I cracked open a tourist magazine while Ilias was preoccupied with the sights outside. As I went through the support section to check the recommended tourist spots, restaurants, souvenirs, and made especially sure not to forget to look for shops that sold sweets, I stuck some sticky labels I swiped from work onto the pages. Ilias soon abandoned the scenery he had been watching in perfect contentment to peer over my shoulder. The magazine was a real pain to read because it was absolutely riddled with names written in kanji, but with the help of the plentiful photos accompanying the text, Ilias was somewhat able to understand it. Looking through the magazine together ended up being surprisingly fun.
After we ate our ekiben, there were still 30 minutes left until we reached our destination. The wave of drowsiness that hit me right then was not surprising at all, considering how early I’ve gotten up and how I’ve been moving non-stop ever since. I was yawning when my left hand was suddenly captured; wondering what was up, I looked over at Ilias only to see him twining our fingers together.
I was a man just like him, so how come this guy’s hand was so much bigger and wider than mine… It must be because my fingers had always been a little too slender, which must’ve made my hand appear slimmer as a whole. While I worriedly chewed over such thoughts, I told Ilias to take a look—but he only smiled and called my name as a response, probably because he didn’t want to show a disagreeable attitude.
That’s a yes, isn’t it? So my fingers are way too thin?! I didn’t say this out loud, though. There were other people around so, if possible, I would’ve liked for him to let go of me, but… it was exceptionally difficult to say upon seeing how happy he was to hold my hand. I helplessly raised the armrest and, having gotten rid of any barriers between us, stuffed our hands into that space as if to hide them. It might have been a vain struggle but it was still better than just showing off our clasped hands in the open.
Seeing that I’d made a concession for him, Ilias turned a truly sweet smile on me. I instantly diverted my gaze in embarrassment and looked down, but at the very least I tightly gripped his hand back.
We arrived at our intended train stop. As I got the rental car, I figured that for the time being we should first check out the furthest sightseeing spot. I input the address into the GPS, and when I got out of the car it felt pretty good to see Ilias looking over at me with such admiring and sparkly eyes. I had thought about taking my ‘beginner’ sign with me since I’m actually a crappy driver, but now I’m really glad I didn’t bring it. 4
After we enjoyed the sights for a day, we headed for inn where I was shocked by the high-class appearance—it was much better than I’d thought it would be. Was this really the right place? I nervously walked up to the front desk and gave my name, and they confirmed that I really had gotten a room here. I paid the lodging fee and was grateful that this was the kind of inn where additional bills for food and drink would be settled at check-out. Buuut, this was the first time I’d seen a place where the hostesses all wore kimonos… It was vexing how, even though I felt so out of place that I was shrinking back, Ilias seemed accustomed to being served so his demeanor toward the hostesses was totally the same as usual. Instead, what he looked around restlessly at was the unfamiliar traditional Japanese décor. In the end, the level of our combined awkwardness was completely maxed out!
We carried our luggage with us as the hostess led us to our room. Upon seeing that it was complete with its own outdoor bath, I couldn’t help but get spooked again—is this a suite or something?! The hostess lightly explained the features of the room, and when she took her leave we bid her farewell at the entrance. Finally the door closed, loosening the thread of tension hanging in the air. I heaved a big sigh while the guy next to me who’d been completely unruffled up until now suddenly stiffened up.
“… Hey, what’s up?”
He gave no reaction at all, not even when I waved a hand in front of his face, and only snapped back to reality when I called out ‘Hey’ for the second time.
“A—Azusa… this room, what…”
“Really makes you nervous, right? It’s my first time staying in such a nice place, too.”
“This is… um… the thing called ‘tatami’, isn’t it…? I thought it could only be seen on television…”
“Yup, that’s what it is. Oh, yeah—this is your first experience with a traditional Japanese room, right?”
Every part of my house had wooden floors, so this was probably his first encounter with floors that were purely traditional Japanese. This was something that we Japanese people had already seen plenty of times, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I said that it was a once in a lifetime experience for a foreigner. Since the opportunity really was that rare, I understood Ilias’s enthusiasm over this never-before-seen thing. His gaze spun around the inside of the room, and when he turned his eyes on me to pleadingly ask for permission, I told him to go ahead. He pounced on the screen door and slid it open, his tail eagerly wagging the whole while. As stressed as I was, I’d probably be doing the same thing as well if Ilias hadn’t gotten fired up over this.
We still had plenty of time to kill, so we dressed in the yukatas left in our room and went to take a look around the inn. As could be expected, Ilias was too large for the clothing that all of his limbs stuck out awkwardly, but since the guy himself really wanted to wear the yukata I decided to just let him do what he likes. We peeked into the room that became a dining hall in the mornings and went around the kiosk stalls to windowshop. By the time we returned to our room, there was still an hour left until dinner. Dinner, it seemed, would be sent over to our rooms, so before the food arrived I called out to Ilias. When he heard me say ‘Let’s go take a bath’, his gaze whipped towards me with a snap, face flushing deep crimson.
“Uh… what’s with all the blushing?”
“S—sorry… er, that is… in my country, bathing with another person isn’t really something…”
“Oh, so it’s like that? Even at the dormitory? How did you guys take baths over there?”
“There were many solo shower compartments so we just picked whichever ones were vacant. I suppose the impression is quite similar to the individual stalls found in the ‘restrooms’ here.”
“Huh, then gabbing at each other while naked isn’t something you guys do either, is it?”
“Jabbing while naked?!” 5
“… Yeah, I can vaguely guess the answer now.”
He had clearly used some weird pronunciation there. I squinted at him to see if he would explain himself, but Ilias’s gaze skittered away as he acted like of course such a thing didn’t happen. So that was it. Even if he put on an ascetic expression like that of a damn monk, I already knew just how carnivorous this guy really was.
“For your first time, do you want to go to the big public bath? Compared to our room’s private one where it’s just the two of us here, at the public baths there’ll be all of the other guests staying here as well, so—”
“Azusa, your bare skin would be seen by other men?!!”
“Uh, yeah… since it’s a bath…”
“That’s no good, here is fine—a bath with just the two of us is fine!”
“I-Is that so…”
He firmly nodded, and driven by his strong determination, he faced our room’s bath with his underwear in hand. I opened the door to the bathhouse which directly led to the indoor tub for washing, and beyond that, a spacious and fully-furnished open air bath that faced the sea. 6 Though this place looked like it came straight out of a travel TV show… it’s somewhere even I can stay in, huh. Exhilaration bubbled up inside of me as I unwound the obi around my yukata, ready to go ahead and dive in. Loosening with a rustling sound, the obi dropped to the floor after I pulled it out, followed by the yukata which slid from my bare shoulders down to the ground.
Upon hearing his trembling and agitated voice, I looked back to see Ilias standing at the entrance with both of his hands covering his blushing red face. Supposedly, that is, considering his fingers were splayed out in such a way that there was just enough of a gap between his fingers to ensure he could see through them.
“What are you doing; hurry up and strip.”
“I’m already used to seeing your naked body, anyway… Well, I’ll just get in first~”
“I won’t get out ‘til you come in. If I get dizzy and faint, it’ll be your fault.”
I lightly kicked my underwear off and went into the bathroom with a towel in hand. Even if our relationship didn’t have anything to do with feelings or deep emotional connections, I couldn’t possibly be shy about him seeing me nude when we continued to have physical relations once every three days. And besides, this was a bath. In the first place, there was that time when he’d gone wild and made us do it the bathroom even while we were still wearing our clothes, so just why the hell would he be so bashful in this situation now… I’m really struggling to understand. Well, even if he said he was that embarrassed, I’m sure he’ll obstinately end up getting in anyway.
I quickly washed my body and hair before jumping into the bath. Once I started soaking, he finally came to join me with—of all things—a towel wrapped around his body.
Are you a woman?! I yanked it off while tsukkomi-ing, then threw him into the dressing area to wash off properly. Though he objected for a while, saying that he could do it himself, he still inevitably got worked up in the end and his thing even got halfway hard as it splashed the cold water.
We leisurely lingered in the hot pool, and after testing the limits of how long Ilias could comfortably stay within, it quickly became time to eat. The meal that looked exactly like something you’d see advertised with the commercial jingle ‘Fresh and abundant treasures of the sea!’ made my veins thrum with excitement. 7
I requested to have some sake as well, and expressed my gratitude when it was immediately delivered to me. It was pretty nice to live such a ‘want for nothing’ life sometimes, huh. As I looked over at Ilias and watched him stuff his cheeks with just as much joy, I honestly felt that I was glad to have come here with him. Ilias sent a smile my way when he noticed my gaze, and just that small act from him made happiness well up in my heart. I would never say it out loud, but I guess it seems that I’ve really got it bad for him.
This chapter was full of things to learn. Such a fulfilling tourist life.
Thanks to the JP translators from Blob T for helping translate some tough lines! And thanks to our top star Agent Psyx, who slid this beautifully-edited chapter over while under the cover of the night. (worships)
One more bit of news – Taro-sensei permitted me to translate the sequel, so I am now working on it alongside the final chapters of PSK! I’ll try to release it around the time that the last chapters of PSK are posted. The sequel is from Ilias’s point of view and talks about their life after the events of PSK.
Azusa reaches max power in the next chapter. Please look forward to it.
- The line here is written with sound effects. Azusa moves through the station like zukazuka while Ilias follows after him like chokochoko. It’s a really cute image if you can imagine the sounds their footsteps make. ↩
- Ekiben, known in English as “railway boxed meals” or as I like to call them, station bento, are a specialty type of lunch box sold exclusively at or near Japanese train stations. These bentos are usually much more extravagant than normal ones, and are packed with regional specialties and delicacies. They are essentially advertising the local area’s goods. I recommend searching up ekiben (駅弁) to see some amazing photos. ↩
- Shinkansen seats seem to be somewhat spacious and deluxe. From what I saw while researching, they look like first-class airplane seating: two or three wide cushioned chairs sitting beside each other next to windows, forming a row of 4 or 6 chairs with an open aisle in the middle. I assume that normal train seats are much more cramped, so seeing these spacious seats made Azusa relieved. ↩
- Azusa says that he was glad he didn’t bring his ‘wakaba mark’. In Japan, beginner drivers put a green and yellow chevron sign on their car to show that they’re unfamiliar with driving. It is known as a shoshinsha (beginner) mark, or as a wakaba mark (Wakaba being the region where the sign imagery came from). This sign is also an emoji in certain places; for example, it will show up in Discord as :beginner:. ↩
- Kanji pun. Azusa says “You guys don’t socialize while naked?” where the word “socialize” is written 付き合い [tsukiai]. In Ilias’s line, he repeats the sound [tsukiai] but written as 突き合い, where 突き means “thrust, stab” (as in fencing/swordfighting). In other words, he understood socializing while naked as naked thrusting at each other… ↩
- There are several parts to a bath area in Japan. When Azusa and Ilias first exit their room, they enter a ‘dressing area’ where they can take off their clothes and wash up in a small tub. Once they’ve cleaned up, they can then proceed out from the dressing area and to the actual open-air bath. If you’ve seen bathhouses in anime, you’ll have noticed that it’s proper etiquette to wash up before getting into a shared bath; it’s the same principle here. ↩
- It seems that travel or destination commercials might commonly show closeups of extravagant and beautiful seafood platters with the text “Fresh and abundant seafood!” overlaid on the screen. What Azusa is eating looks exactly like one of those seafood platters he’d seen on TV. ↩