Mar 5, 2018

Amagi Brilliant Park V4 Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – Family Affair

A certain week’s Monday.
For the first time in three days, Sento Isuzu turned up at school and handled the morning lessons flawlessly. Due to her weak constitution, she had not been berated for the numerous absenteeism.

The rainy season was beginning, and the park’s busy periods have also lulled. Of course, there were many ongoing renovations and preparations for summer events, but Isuzu intended to attend as many classes as possible.
Nonetheless, Isuzu personally never felt attached to Amagi High School. Should the need arise, she could drop out of school immediately. Because of having such a disposition, she hardly ever opens up to her classmates, and does not feel the necessity to do so.
The chances of her eating lunch with the first-year Chuujou Shiina, a part-timer at the park, were much higher.
Shiina said that she too was weak at socialising,  and had almost no friends in school. But then, through Shiina’s part-time life at the park, she was  picking up reasonable conversational skills, and did not seem to be as lonely as she was back in April. A few times when Isuzu had visited Shiina's class to ask her out for lunch, the latter was seen chatting with her classmates.
That day was the same.
Lunch break. Isuzu casually sets out to Shiina’s class, and somehow found the latter sitting together with several classmates, having lunch. Though she looked tense, and it didn’t seem like she was really enjoying it, Isuzu was pretty impressed by Shiina’s progress.
Inviting her out here would be boorish, right?
Before Shiina noticed, Isuzu quietly left her class. (Now then, what to do, I wonder……)
Her “superior”, Kanie Seiya had also come to school today. She didn’t particularly mind eating alone, but  she would like to discuss about work as well.
She got to the top floor, rooftop entrance of the south school block staircase and sure enough, Seiya was biting at a curry bun alone.
“Woooaah!? ……What, it’s you.”
Seiya was surprised for only a moment, but once he saw that it was Isuzu, he heaved a sigh of relief. It seemed he was still vain, but even then, everyone knew that Kanie Seiya was a loner at school.
“Not in the toilet today, huh?”
“Hmph. I’ve decided to eat here as far as possible. The toilet was not as settling as expected.”
Why say that so proudly?
No, with pride being his default mode, it’s useless to nitpick at everything.
“I’m sitting here.”
“Be my guest.”
Pulling a suitable chair, she sat down opposite Seiya. She picked out a whole cucumber from her bento box, sprinkled salt over it and crunched into it. It was a moment of bliss.
“Your lunch is morokyu[1] ……won’t you be malnourished?”
“It’s my favourite dish. But of course, I have normal meals too. In the midst of experimenting various menus, I’ve introduced fried mackerel and broccoli.”
“Hmm. Is that so……”
Isuzu felt a small bit of irritation towards the indifferent response.
Her frequent experimentations with bentos was a known fact, but she was not proficient enough to be able to boast her skills. However, as a secretary, Isuzu had witnessed Seiya spent every day eating a curry bun, and thought that she could produce an extra person’s portion.
Even so, motivation goes down if this attitude persists.
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. That aside, this week’s schedule. It’s according to the email sent on the weekend, right?”
“Ohh. Is it…….”
Seiya hesitated a little and trailed off.
“We can proceed with the schedule starting tomorrow onwards. But can we cancel the plans for today?”
“Cancel……all of it?”
“Yes. We just have the meeting with Moffle, inspections, and paperwork for today, right?”
“I think I can make adjustments……Is there anything else?”
Isuzu is Seiya’s secretary. She has a perfect grasp of what he is doing for the park daily. He has several merits, one of which was being “extraordinarily industrious”.
It was likely a habit cultivated from his child acting days. Or perhaps a natural attribute that he was born with.
In any case, he was not playing truant. No matter how tired he is, he gets the job done. Even when lacking motivation, or having a fever, he definitely didn’t neglect his work. He drops idle complaints mixed with jokes, but even so it wasn’t any serious discontent. To be honest, it would not be surprising if he would try to find excuses and skip out.
However, that industriousness did pay off in some way, the park’s cast had recognised him as their boss and kept on persevering. While his intelligence, insight, and decisiveness at times of need ― are certainly valuable, but it was undoubtedly that attitude of his which made Kanie Seiya a natural born leader.
That very Seiya said that he wanted to cancel those plans. That was indeed unusual.
“Not really……. Just for a little personal business. I thought we’d have a flexible day today.”
“It’s certainly possible to make adjustments today. Moffle is panicking since he can’t come up with a summer live show design, Macaron is occupied with Muse and the girls’ band, Tiramie is troubling himself with the pool opening plan alongside Genjuro’s bunch.”
By the way, Genjuro is a cast leader operating the park’s “Splash Ocean”. A dolphin type mascot, diligent and wise, and uses an old style gozaru expression in his manner of speech.
“Then it’s fine, right? In that case, I’ll leave today to you.”
“Yeah, I got it.”
Taking out her smartphone, she began sending texts to the concerned personnel. While typing the contents down, Isuzu tried to ask nonchalantly.
“May I ask?”
“What about?”
“This ‘personal business’ of yours. Just in case. As a secretary.”
Right. As a secretary.
That’s all.
Thereupon, Seiya grimaced and waved his hand in annoyance.
“That’s……well, of no consequence. After all, it isn’t some enjoyable business. Just, some stuff I have to deal with.”
Without further questioning, Isuzu sent a text to the park’s cast regarding the cancellation of today’s plans.

Be that as it may, she still remained curious.
Because of Seiya’s cancellations, Isuzu’s plans for the day were also suspended. No, she should have a mountain’s worth of work, but even those were not urgent.
This for one, is Kanie Seiya’s “personal business” of some sort,  some investigations should be appropriate.
As a secretary, after all.
Coming to that conclusion, Isuzu put up a front of “reporting to the park” after school, left the main entrance, and tailed Seiya.
As tenacious as it seems, it’s because she's his secretary.
For some reason, a depressed looking Seiya came out of the school’s main entrance. He was sluggishly trudging towards Amagi station. Similar to the feeling of becoming a spy or something, Isuzu spied on Seiya.
“Umm, Isuzu-senpai?”
At the area passing through the ticket barrier, Chuujou Shiina called out to her from behind. Isuzu’s spine straightened form being startled, and she made an effort to feign calmness.
“Chuujou-san. What a coincidence.”
“What do you mean coincidence……. Shiina is going home too.”
“Right. Now that you mention it, you’re off today, right?”
Shiina doesn’t work every day. Mostly, she would have a break on the beginning of the week, Monday or Tuesday.
“Yes. And, what are you doing? You’ve only been sneakily shadowing Kanie-senpai since some time ago……”
“So, it looked like that.”
“Yes. Totally.”
“……Then, I guess it’s inevitable. I shall explain the situation to you.”
Isuzu explained. Shiina grasped.
“I see. It certainly is strange. Since Kanie-senpai is that sort of person, I never thought of him to have affairs outside of school and the park.”
“Your quick understanding saves me the trouble. So, therefore I’m tailing him.”
“Roger that. Then, Shiina will accompany you as well.”
Isuzu was baffled.
“You don’t have to force yourself, you know? Since this stems from my personal ― I mean, secretarial motif. I don’t have any reason to involve a part-timer.”
“I’m not forcing myself. In any case, Shiina is free.”
“I’m not working today so, I’d either watch TV when I get home, or go for karaoke alone to train my voice, or……. As far as I see, Isuzu-senpai doesn’t seem very good at tailing. At any rate, I’m accompanying you.”
Isuzu, who lived as an Imperial Guard officer of Mapleland, was certainly poor at tailing and the like.
“That's great. I’ll be counting on your practised self of being timid like rats and cockroaches, living by avoiding public eyes.”
“……Err. Ah. Yeah. ……Well, fair enough. Senpai is that type of person.”
“Come on, the train’s here. Let’s go.”
Accompanied by a seemingly greatly dissatisfied Shiina, Isuzu hurried towards the in-bound line platform which Seiya was facing.

Seiya boarded the train on the Touto line, and was arriving at Shinjuku.
Fortunately, it seemed he had not noticed their spying.
Shinjuku had one of the largest stations in the world, and the the tremendous crowd of people is Olympian, Isuzu and co’s tailing had become considerably easier. In the train, looking around restlessly from the neighbouring carriage as to when and where to get off at the station.
“Umm, senpai. Sh, Shiina……rarely come to places like Shinjuku. It’s fine, right? I can go home, right?”
“Aren’t you a high school student? Don’t say such miserable stuff.”
Notwithstanding that she came along of her own volition to begin with. Voicing such complaints at this late hour was also troublesome.
“Also, Kanie-senpai didn’t even look at his phone on the train. Did you notice that? That’s perhaps something from Iwanami bunko. I don’t know which book though. So austere. So cool.”
As Shiina had pointed out,Seiya was grasping the overhead straps on the train, reading an old-looking paperback. Isuzu saw it; however, it was Schopenhauer’s[2].
“Well……it’s fine so long as it’s not something like Moshidora.[3]
“Ehh? Isn’t that a good book too?”
“It is. Although I’ve not read it but, a crash course to undertake the role of the park’s manager would be worrisome. What I mean is, I’ll be uneasy if he were to be reading it now of all times.”
“Ohh……right. That, I follow.”
“Let’s move on.”
Fortunately, Isuzu and co’s shadowing of Seiya had appeared to have gone entirely unnoticed. Without any indication of transferring from Shinjuku, he exited from the west entrance, wandered a home appliance mass retail store, moving for close to 10 minutes at the basement PC parts corner.
“It seems, senpai is troubled, huh……. Ehh, is that what you call a graphics card? Does he plan to buy it?”
“Who knows……”
Comparing specifications imprinted on the rustic fan, he sighed. He doesn’t seem intent on purchasing it. And then, Seiya moved to the side of the cash register. After zealously checking the prices of some HDD memory, he casually looked to his wristwatch and hurried to the exit of the sale’s floor.
“Guess shopping doesn’t seem to be his intention.”
“Seems like it……”
It appeared to be merely a stopover. Leaving the mass retail outlet, he currently headed in the opposite direction of the station, going towards the district with high-rise buildings. He entered a shorter building (though it waaaas around 30 storeys high) before the Tokyo government office, coming to a halt in the enormous atrium inside the building, and he compared the time of his watch to the gigantic clepsydra[4] at that spot.
“This here’s an ordinary commercial building, isn’t it? What business does he have in such a place?”
“No idea. But……nevertheless, I’ve started to chat with you for quite a bit now, eh?”
“Is, is that so?”
At a position, out of sight from Seiya, Isuzu and Shiina were whispering as they stealthily waited out.
It seemed like Seiya had an arrangement to meet with someone.
They waited for a few minutes.
Sure enough, the arranged party came in sight.
It was a smartly dressed young lady. Someone whom Isuzu had never seen before. Perhaps more or less fifteen years of age. She was possibly a middle schooler, but can’t say anything more because of her neat, matured features.
When that young lady spotted Seiya, she nimbly made a cheerful expression, ran up to him, and clung to his arm. Even Seiya himself, as naturally as he could, showed a slightly bitter smile.
Even both Isuzu and Shiina were dumbfounded.
What the hell just happened? Could it be, that that is Kanie Seiya’s lover!?
Well, not that he actually has a wife, but to label her a lover is uncalled-for. But the appearance of that young lady gave a great shock to Isuzu and co, regardless.
“Wh, whwhwhwhwhawtsh gon on! Howz dat. Shomethinz. Sh, shempai! Whatzz it, wha, dis, whaaaaaaa!?”
“Nihongo, speak.”
“Ohwoahwoah……sowwrrie!. Err, is that……Kanie-senpai’s girlfriend?”
“I wouldn’t know. It’s my first time seeing that girl too.”
“Ohh……in that case, it’s a younger sister, what a punchline……”
“That shouldn’t be it. Kanie-kun is an only child. There’s no younger sister.”
“But but, isn’t that being too over-familiar? That way, grabbing his arm……moreover, her chest! Isn’t it pressing against her chest!? That’s one hell of a mitch she is!”
It’s a vulgar slang of Mapleland, I wonder where she picked it up? Well, guess it’s probably those three.
“So, what should we do? Resume tailing him?”
“But of course. There is no guarantee that the girl is not an enemy to the park. By some possibility, she might honey trap Amagi’s plans.
When the need arises, whoever shall be eating a bellyful of the Steinberger’s lead. Kanie-kun, mainly.
Seiya and the young lady got on the lift bound for the top-most floor of the high-rise building. Since they can’t be getting on together, they delayed their pursuit. It was the F&B floor at the top, with an aisle of restaurants and cafes lined up, featuring the landscape of the high-rise building district.
Spending five minutes sneakily searching, the two were discovered in a fancy Italian establishment.
Isuzu and Shiina entered the shop in an inconspicuous manner, took up position at back-to-back seats with a prop interposed, and began listening in.

Other customers were seated behind him, but even Seiya paid it no heed.
It has been a considerably long time since coming to such a place for dining and the like, I think.
Ever since the time in March, the park’s operations had him writhing in agony, so he had no time to relax. Back then, he could occasionally go out shopping alone, scoff at mass retailers, and wander around the menswear section at a departmental store.
“Whaaat’s wroooong? Chiiill ooooout.”
Sitting before him, Saki spoke with a lisp.
Tilting her head in some doubt, setting her hair in a gentle swing, and her tiny earrings glittered. Even the clothes she wore were a tad showy. The pale pink was an elegant colour usage, but the skirt was unusually short.
“It’s fine. Just, composing myself.”
Right. The only discontent was drinking tea on the high floors of a building like this. Well, the window is at a distant location, so it’s still tolerable. The lift with the view a while ago was the worst.
Saki puffed her cheeks.
“Geez. I’ve gone to great pains to meet up, and yet why did it become like this? I gave it my all for today, you know? Look, these sandals! I bought them last week! Compliment me, compliment!”
“Hey. Don’t tripover, okay?”
How is this girl like this, why spend money on some heck of sandals or bags? Nothing but those kinds of thoughts came through.
“Boo. More importantly, why did you turn up in your school uniform? You should’ve had time to change into casual wear, didn’t you?”
“Ohh, casual wear huh……”
Come to think of it, he hadn’t dressed that way for a long time. Outside of the park’s work, he’s usually dressed in a 30-thousand-yen suit, the other times would be nothing but the park manager’s uniform or the school uniform.
“Well, is it not okay? I’m not even going on a date with a girlfriend.”
“Saki thought this was a date, you knoooow?”
“That’s your problem. Think as you like.”
“About that, Seiya-kun is too cold hearted, you know? I asked about your plans and yet each time ‘that day can’t do’ or ‘I’ve got plans’ and so on! You’re a normal person, it’s awful, you knoooow!?”
“Even if you say that, I was really busy. Since April I’d been working……that, just that. At various crappy workplaces.”
“Because you can do whatever you want to do. Then, how crappy is it?”
“Uh huh. That place is full of gone cases……well, nowadays they’re in the midst improving but……. Anyway, it’s a situation where you have to aim for a series of championships with the league’s bottom-feeder team.”
Given that fact, his stomach felt heavier. Seiya added milk to his partially drunk coffee.
“Soooo wweeeeeiiiiirddd. I mean, your workplace is an amusement park, right?”
“Indeed. I’m behind the scenes though.”
“Saaayyyy, next time, can Saki come and play too?”
Seiya almost spurted out his coffee.
“Oh no, no way. Give it up. Besides, it’s not a fun place. It’s something like the yakuza, and also like having a close shave with deviants, even I almost died the other day……yeah, in any case, don’t.”
“No way, I wanna!”
“Not a chance. Give up.”
“Boooooo. Seiya-kun is so booooorrring! Even though you used to take me here and there……”
“I had free time. Now it’s different.”
Without pestering him anymore, Saki gazed into the distance in silence for a short while. The sense of naivete until then disappeared. Leaving an adult-like gloomy profile.
“You’re only drifting further away like this……”
She leaked a small sigh. Was Saki a girl who made such a face? Seiya felt uneasy.
“It’s not so far away. You’re at Meguro. I’m at Amagi. If you feel like it, we can easily meet up.”
“That’s an issue I don’t mind about……”
Yet another sigh.
“Last time……Saki wondered whether to call Seiya-kun ‘onii-chan’, I was lost. But Seiya was supposed to be family, and yet doesn’t seem like family……and in the end, I didn’t call you that.”
“That’s why, even when Seiya-kun left, Saki felt that it was probably her fault, and I occasionally feel that.”
“No, that’s not it. It isn’t Saki.”
It was unexpected that Saki had considered it that way. Seiya hurriedly denied it.
“Buuuut, a long time ago I tried calling you ‘onii-chan’ once, though it didn’t feel like it.”
“That’s……I have been an only child all along, and suddenly came a little sister, it even felt out of place to be referred to that way. Or perhaps, awkward. It’s quite like that. Other than that, it’s not your fault.”
“Hmm. I see……”
That said, Saki had a mouthful of her layered cheesecake. Rather than indulging in its sweetness, it was an action of biting and swallowing its nutrients.
“Should I tell mother too?”
“Saori-san? What about?”
“What we were just talking about. Since mother too, seems to be bearingr a similar feeling.”
“Ohh…really? Well, I guess so.”
“Isn’t it good?”
“Right. Give her my apologies.”
“I’d really want you to say it directly…...”
“Well, eventually……”
The young lady before his eyes ― Kyuubu Saki is Seiya’s step-sister.
Not blood related.
Between Seiya’s parents, Saki was the child from his father’s, Kyuubu Takaharu, partner from the remarriage.
There was a time when they were living together for a while. They were fellow step-children going through adolescence and yet their relationship as the opposite sex was fairly good, but Saki had been quite emotionally attached to Seiya from the beginning.
Eventually, Seiya moved out, and went under the care of his father’s little sister, Kyuubu Aisu, at her place but, he would meet up with Saki once in a while.
“Kanie” is the surname from his mother’s side.
Formerly “Kyuubu Seiya”. He had a stage name during his child acting times, but a short time after his abrupt retirement, his real name had been disclosed on the internet. The culprit was unknown. In any case, there were too many suspects.
Because of that, on the occasion of his parents' divorce, he became “Kanie Seiya”. Even now, Seiya was very reluctant to be labelled with the surname of his mother whom he felt an antipathy towards. But there was no other way.
“But Seiya-kun has changed a bit riiiight?”
“? How so?”
“Last time, you were awfully egoistic and condescending, but now……”
Saki pondered.
“Well, you’re still egoistic and condescending now, yeah?”
Seiya dropped his shoulders.
“What? That’s……”
“Oh, but hey, something’s different. Last time……you were somewhat like a villain from an anime, I guess? Thinking of everyone else as idiots. An impression of honest animosity.”
“Saki is, well, an idiot after all. Even if Seiya-kun makes fun of me, I wouldn’t mind. But, nowadays it’s……hmm……”
Folding her arms, Saki brooded. It seems she is deliberating it in her own way.
Nonetheless, Saki was not that much of an idiot in academic terms. Suppose she lives in the outskirts of Amagi town, if she perseveres a little, it won’t actually be difficult to enrol into Amagi High (which, as a matter of fact, is a prep school).
Whether or not she arrived at a conclusion, Saki clapped her hands together.
“Right! Seiya-kun has……something like a rival character-like impression now, I guess? You know, like that kind of bad guy who assists a hero along the way, yeah? You’re actually a good person and yet you say things like ‘the one who defeats you, is this, I’ or stuff like that.”
“Somehow, I feel quite like that today. Is it weeeeiirdd?”
“Beats me.”
“Byyy the waaaaay, is aunt Aisu doing fine?”
“And suddenly the subject is completely changed……”
Saki could count the number of times she had met Aisu, but for some reason she seems to have a one-sided yearning. Occasionally she would say “isn’t she a cool person?” or “I adore her”. A woman in her 20s hard at work at a publisher, that is to say this much makes her the target of envy to girls. Well, the published volume is a magazine of a mah-jong manga which they don’t know much about or something like that.
When Saki inquired with “how’s she doing?”, Seiya remembered the face of the flatmate whom he hadn’t seen for nearly a week.
“Ehh? Just that ‘perhaps’? You’re teeeeerrrible.”
“Coming back on the first train at dawn, and reporting to work just past noon kind of livelihood. The days she didn’t come back were also numerous. I can confirm only that she is living in a manner to reduce the laundry and beer.”
“Thaaat’s unheeeeaaalthy. Next time, shall Saki make something?”
“You can cook?”
“I can’t. But I can learn.”
“No need. My way is good enough.”
Then Saki’s smartphone vibrated.
“Oh, excuse me.”
She checked the display of the smartphone, composed something short, and quickly replied. It was LINE or something.
After replying, Saki showed a slight manner of thought. And then hesitantly peered at Seiya with upturned eyes.
“It’s from a guy.”
“……Okay? What happened there?”
She intended to say it curtly, but seems to have failed. As if Saki saw through him, she impishly smiled.
“It’s from father.”
Saki seemed to have passed it off as a joke. However, Seiya did not laugh.
“I can’t tell with that alone. Which father.”
“Seiya-kun’s father.”
Seiya could not hold back his expression of displeasure.
Saki refers to Seiya’s real father, Kyuubu Takaharu, by “otou-san”. There was just about no hesitation.
Seems like the old man’s doing well with Saki and the mother, Saori-san. Whether his work post has moved or whatever was unknown, but he returns home by dinner for half the week, and it’s said that he also gets lively in conversation.
A great difference compared to my mother and myself.
As for my own memory of my father, we pass each other indifferently, and once in a while he would display his fatherly face, about that much.
“So, it really is like that, huh?”
“Like that, how?”
“About father, you detest him?”
“Not particularly. It matters not.”
He took care not to express a strong irritation. Perhaps it had also failed. Saki’s tone became cautious.
“Umm, hey. Actually, umm. Father also said that he would see you today.”
He felt pitiful only being able to let out such a voice.
So shameful, indeed. Quite a rebellious brat, aren’t I?
“So……it’s father, right? Say, if you’re fine with it, how about you join us for a meal after this? Err, just once, alright? I’m asking……just this once, okay?”
“I will decline.”
“It, it’s a nice shop though. Teppanyaki? Although it’s not so expensive, it’s got some amazing tender meats and ―.”
“Didn’t you hear it? I said I refuse.”
He said it in a strong tone. For a moment, Saki went into silence, but before long she appeared to have glossed it over and nodded a few times.
“O, okay……I thought so. Sorry.”
“Please send the reply.”
“Eh, but I can do that laaater.”
“Right now.”
Seiya could not look straight at Saki who was sluggishly operating her smartphone.
He felt terrible aghast. Saki didn’t do anything bad, and yet he took on such an attitude.
However, he could not stand it.
In those days before and after retirement, I’ve been made to suffer by him. Despite this, I requested him for help. But even then, that man did not listen. Being occupied with work and he barely tried to meet up. Even if he was slapped by mother, that man would just say “hey, stop it already” and so forth.
What’s wrong now.
So. he wants to pretend he has turned over? And furthermore, making use of Saki. That’s right, making use of. The guy is going as far as to use this child.
And what about teppanyaki? Don’t you jest. Using the flair of a rich man.
No matter how delicious it is, does it measure up to those croquettes? Latifa’s croquettes. That, for sure, is what you call “delicious”. The prided masterpiece of home. Ah, but the croquettes of the shop that Moffle was a regular at were good too. But, teppanyaki? A line of high-class restaurants might be worth a thought. Nothing but yaki soba or hotdogs is much too dull. Do I have to consult with Sento?
Ahh……, even at a time like this nothing but work crosses my mind. I feel disgusted. ……I mean, what do we do, it’s 3 million visitors. It’s a problem that make you want to cry.
Then Seiya returned to his senses.
Just, why?
What am I getting angry at now? When I was thinking about the park, I felt stupid to be suddenly immersing myself into a dusky mood until a while ago.
Stupid. It’s so stupid.
Formerly, his thoughts of the family issues were of relatively high priority, but nowadays, it is positioned far lower, Seiya realised.
How’s father, how’s mother.
Do you remember, idiot? Compared to that, it’s the park’s future.
It’s 3 million visitors, you know!? The level where any ordinary guy will have an incontinence of running away!
Also there is a meeting with the cast tomorrow, including those three idiots, about the budget or some plans for a huge row. There's no room for hesitation.
“……Well, sorry!”
Looking up to the ceiling, Seiya said that indifferently.
That attempt was a success.
It turned out too well, so far as leaking out a dry laughter.
Saki stared in wonder.
“Wha, what’s the matter with you? You’ll actually……meet with father?”
“Naah, totally don’t feel like it!”
“I’m busy with work anyway! My head’s full of work related stuff! Things like that old man is of no consequence!”
For that “of no consequence”, even though the words were the same, the nuance was completely different.
He really meant inconsequential.
Anything’s fine as long as it’s good!
“……But, well, I’m a nice guy who can be considerate. Convey it to the old man this way. ‘Oh, shut up’.”
Uh huh. This should be enough. I can’t be wasting life.
“Eh? But, I don’t get it!?”
“And so, Saki. Since it’s bothersome, come to the park if you want to see me from next time onwards. It’s weird that I don’t want to introduce them, but they’re my 'comrades'.”
“Well, you don’t have to meet them. Anyway, can you even drink tea or something in such a shop where it doesn’t even have a scenery?”
The waiter who was just passing by had been looking their way, but Seiya paid him no mind entirely. He placed a 1000-yen bill and a 500-yen coin atop the table and stood straight up.
“Well then, I’m gonna head back. I’ve got one too many documents to clear up.”
“Eh? Come on…...!”
“Today was surprisingly meaningful. Yes, surprisingly. Therefore, I give you my thanks. Ciao!”
“Hey, wai……! Seiya-kun, you’re sooo meeeeeaan!”
And with long strides, he left the restaurant.
Saki was grumbling, but Seiya remained unconcerned.

It had all come to an end, and after Kyuubu Saki had settled the bill and left the restaurant, Shiina finally opened her mouth.
“That’s some……depressing exchange I’ve heard.”
Even Shiina’s way of speaking had an awfully depressing feeling.
“Kanie-senpai has got a sort of elaborately complicated household, huh. Shiina guesses that the girl just now seems like the child from the other parent from the remarriage……”
“Right……. Come to think of it, she should be his step-sister.”
Isuzu surmised.
Previously when Seiya’s history was investigated, the existence of the girl called Saki was also on the documents. However, to be socialising even now and furthermore that they share such a close relationship had gone unawares.
Isuzu was unsure if to feel relief or disappointment, it was a complicated feeling. Simultaneously, she felt guilty.
Kanie-kun wasn’t doing anything shady. He was just facing his important family matters during a break from work.
Tailing him and listening in, she had come to grips with his important matter.
Moreover, he ― in the end, declared that compared to his family matters, the park is more important. Leaving behind the very same words.
Calling us, our no-good hopeless bunch, “comrades”.
“Isuzu-senpai. Are you, perhaps……crying?”
“No way. Not at all.”
Isuzu really wasn’t crying. Her chest welled up with heat, her face began to feel hot, but it was not to the point of shedding tears.
However ―
How about it? If Shiina weren’t around, she might not have understood it for a moment.

The following morning.
Isuzu came to work and met with Seiya ahead of the meeting. It was in the tawdry office.
As always, in a changeless manner, he went “oh”. Every time he was changing into the manager’s uniform, he was trying to tie his necktie.
“How was yesterday?”
“How was that minor business? Were there any problems?”
Contrary to Isuzu’s worry, Seiya didn’t look like he realised anything.
“Oh. Nothing much.”
“I see.”
Seiya was readjusting his necktie many times over in front of the mirror. Isuzu then approached by his side and retightened his necktie.
For a moment, he gasped.
“I think this’ll be fine.”
Getting a hold of his shoulders, she made a sudden 180⁰  turn and gave him a firm slap on his back.
“Ow!......What, hey?”
“There we go, let’s do our best today too.”
“……? Ohh.”
“Come on, look sharp. Seiya-kun.”
His back was pushed towards the conference room. Although Seiya had a questioning thought, he followed through, staggering as he walked along the corridor.
“Sharp? I’m always sharp but……. Or rather, what’s up? Right now, you called me……”
“Aren’t you gonna be late for the meeting? Seiya-kun.”
“Is something strange? Sei-ya-kun?”
Seiya hesitated for a moment, but immediately gave a wry smile. And then said so in a pompous tone.
“Oh, hmm. You’re right. Let’s make haste. Moffle and the rest would be annoyingly squealing with complaints……”
“You don’t say. But, I’ll properly back you up.”
“Right. Counting on you.”
Therefore ―
Therefore, let’s do our best together.
I will always be following you. So, whatever happens, I’ll face it alongside you.
So, Seiya-kun.
It’s fine to call you that, right?

1 Cucumber with moromi miso.
2 A german philosopher and author.
3 Moshi Kōkō Yakyū no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no "Management" o Yondara. What If the Manageress of a High School Baseball Team read Drucker's "Management"? It follows high school girl Minami Kawashima who manages her school's baseball team using Peter Drucker's Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices to rally her dispirited teammates. Wiki.
4 A clock that tells time using a regulated flow of liquid.

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