“I deeply apologize! In truth, I have been aware how strange evething is! I also realized how unusually strong the hatred Tooru-sama bears towards the Kujouin family is.
However, I am indebted to Tooru-sama.
Had he not saved us, I would not be here right now!”
I still think of my father as absolute trash.
This is such a trivial thing to be commenting on right now, but the way Lawyer Tamaru is speaking now is more natural; he’s no longer trying to speak with a Tokyo accent.
“What if the debt your family bore had actually been orchestrated by my father? Such a scenario is not out of the question if we’re speaking of that father of mine.
Don’t you remember he tried to kill his daughter, me?”
As if I will forgive him.
I will never let go of his leaving me in the house during the landslide.
Nor the absolute despair I felt back then.
I wish I had a rose patterned shirt, a cloak, and a pair of glasses.
Getting into the proper mood is a must to get anything done.
“I really don’t think he will do such a thing.
I was still but a student back then.”
“He’s scouting you early.
He likely did not toy with only you, but was also collecting other pieces too.”
Lawyer Tamaru is turning pale.
He might have an inkling of what I’m talking about.
For now, I have obtained enough information out of him.
Finally, I ask him why my father resents me so much.
“I don’t know about that.
Though I do think that he is terribly envious of the talents you were born with.”
“Envy? What does he envy me? Me, an orphan living in poverty? Though I do allow that I enjoyed living in the countryside.”
Lawyer Tamaru fixes his gaze on me.
“He envies you your talents.
As you grow, your talents increasingly became more obvious.
The high intellect your grandfather had, and the talent in playing the piano your grandmother had.
These were things that no matter how much he wishes for it, Tooru-sama can never have.
Tooru-sama knew how you were doing from intermittent reports.”
“Such a one-sided thing for him to decide! Those are not my fault.
And I worked hard for them too.”
If I had truly been put on the brink of death for such reasons, would that not make my father little more than an overgrown man-child?
“Tooru-sama is intelligent and has excellent skills in art.
Still, even with these, he was but mediocre for a Kujouin.
This is something I only found out about recently.
It was something Tooru-sama told me after his mother, Mari-sama, passed away.
He said that he’s finally free.
But though the two of them – that is, his parents – are now gone, you, Reiko-san, who’s just as if the two of them are combined into one person, is still here.
He said that he cannot truly be free so long as you’re still in existence.”
The manner in which Lawyer Tamaru is speaking has grown much more formal.
“Although it is hard for me to say I understand where my father is coming from, I get it now.
Don’t you think that to a certain degree, you have been affected by my father? That manner of speaking, it’s not how you originally spoke, is it?”
Lawyer Tamaru awkwardly replies to this.
“It’s something I adopted due to my love of the rock genre…”
“Rock is a genre of music.
Though appearances may be important, I believe what matters most is the soul.
You can love its music without forcing yourself, dying your hair blonde and wearing leather jackets.
It must not be easy for you wear a leather jacket, even a sleeveless one, in this humidity.
And your pants and boots are made of leather too, to add to this.
You can enjoy rock music without being tied down to this appearance!”
And dressing like this makes you smell too.
It must not be easy for the people in the firm either.
Lawyer Tamaru takes off his leather jacket, leaving himself in a T-shirt.
“I will come to visit again.”
Looking at him formally saying his goodbyes and leaving, I ponder on how different he looks now to when I first met him.
I reckon he must be of a serious nature, due to which he also expresses his love for rock music in such a serious way.
“Reiko, you’re thinking that Tamaru-shi is also a victim of Kujouin-shi?”
Comrade Yoshio has come to call me by my name.
He used to call me by little lady, you, and the like.
I asked if he might call me Comrade Reiko, for I think it sounds cool, but he rejected this notion.
“I can’t say.
Though it’s certain that he was convenient for my father to use.”
I wonder what happened between my father and Fuki-san.
The only thing they have in common is Mari-sama.
Since Mari-sama is no longer with us, the only thing I can do is to ask around.
They said that my father is still in critical condition and has yet to regain consciousness.
“How is the landlady?”
“She was in danger for a while, but is now in stable condition.
… They said that Kujouin-shi shielded her.”
So you’re saying the love my father has for the landlady is real.
From what my father has said, they had a child between them.
I wonder what happened to the child.
When did the two of them even meet in the first place?
There are too many things I do not know.
I believe if it’s Fuki-san, she will know about it.
When I’m discharged, I am definitely going to see her.
I can’t meet her anymore if one of us dies after all.
Since this time I was the one of the brink of death, we can’t say for sure that Fuki-san will the one to go first between the two of us.
For the time being while I am unable to move freely by myself, I cannot do anything.
I should do something to heal faster.
I ask Comrade Yoshio for several photos of my mother, and he smiles so happily.
He ended up sharing them with me through cloud.
There was a lot.
I don’t need this much.
There are pictures of Comrade Yoshio in his younger days too.
I believe they must be from just before he turns 30.
Such a handsome, gallant man.
And beside him, there was an absentminded female version of the naked general.
But I like her smile, the smile of my mother with her absentmindedness.
I understand how Comrade Yoshio might feel healed.
Though I still cannot comprehend how he could have fallen in love with her.
Though well, there must have been circumstances I am not privy to that might have led to that.
I tell Comrade Yoshio that there is no longer any need for him to come everyday.
A part of the mountain has crumbled; he must be busy.
“The mountain, you say? My place has a strong foundation so it’s fine.
Also, the part where I live is man-made; it won’t break down.”
He had reconstructed some parts of the original mountain.
Doesn’t that mean that’s no longer a mountain? Could that perhaps not be the reason this landslide happened in the first place? Anyway, putting that aside, though I might still be injured, my pneumonia has gotten better and there’s no need for someone to be accompanying me everyday.
I send Comrade Yoshio home, telling him if it’s just to visit, then he’s more than welcome.
Comrade Yoshio has lost some weight, and there’s a certain allure to him now.
The female staff at the hospital often come to my room to see him.
They don’t even make up important reasons for these visits.
I got him to also understand this and leave.
The nurse returned my tablet to me this morning.
I was about to continue reading Kinnikuman when Sara-sama and Souju-sama came.
The three of us are somewhat uncomfortable in one another’s presence.
“Thank you for coming to visit.”
I was the first to break the silence.
Sara-sama asks about my condition, all the while avoiding my eyes.
“I believe I was in the wrong yesterday.
I thought I was your best friend, so I received quite a shock; you did not tell me about the outside students, not even about your illness.” (Sara)
“There is no doubt that you are my best friend.
As for the reason for me not telling you about my cold, while it was true that I did not wish to interrupt the time you have with your father, it was also because I felt myself miserable.”
At last, Sara-sama meets my gaze.
“I don’t have family, and I’m poor.
The picture of you, enjoying your time in a Manhattan penthouse with your family, was something the sick me had to endure seeing.
Though I do believe I would not have felt that way had I been well.”
Souju-sama, who has been looking out the window, also turns toward me.
“Such a thing.
I thought you were not the type of person who thinks that way.”
“I am but a normal person.
There are times where I feel that things are hard.
… Why are the two of you not willing to get involved with other people? There must be a reason for it, no?”
Sara-sama must have recalled something; there are creases in between her brows.
“Do you not wish to speak about it?”
Souju-sama answers in Sara-sama’s stead.
“Sara doesn’t like to think about it.
It’s become a trauma for her.”
Aren’t you using this word too lightly?
Look at Barefoot Gen, isn’t it full of trauma? It’s nothing but trauma!
It’s a whirlwind of trauma, from beginning to end.
The great thing about Gen is that he overcame all that and lived to see tomorrow.
He did not let go of hope.
“Rei-chan, what’s Barefoot Gen?”
“My, my thoughts must have slipped again.
Barefoot Gen is a manga.
I have read it countless times.
Indeed, countless times, I have derived courage from it.
Likewise from Kamui.
They make me grateful that I was born in modern Japan.
No, that’s not all, before that, there is of course the greatness of the works themselves.”
“Then, can you tell us about a painful experience of yours? We’ll tell you about ours too.” (Souju)
A painful experience of mine.
I wonder what was the most painful of them all.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I can’t see Fuki-san anymore.
“It takes a long time to tell the full story.
Do the two of you have time?”
I want to know about you.” (Sara)
I started from when I was small.
When Mari-sama was still healthy.
And I spoke about Fuki-san too.
Finally, I told them everything that has happened recently, without concealing anything.
I told them about Sakurada Yuria-sama and about Takanashi-sama too.
She’s now dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief.
Souju-sama was angry.
He has balled his hands into a tight fist.
“Why did you not tell us! I’ll start by crushing Takanashi.”
“Sou-kun, no! And Katsuragi-sama dealt with it already.”
“As a member of the student council.
Takanashi-sama is a candidate for the next student council, remember? And he’s set to become the president too.”
Sara-sama stands from where she was sitting.
“Souju, I can’t let someone like Takanashi become the student council president! It is us who are the right people to become members of the student council!”
“Sara-chan, please calm down.
You studied abroad during middle school in order to run away from the student council, did you not? You should not force yourself.”
Sara-sama looks uncomfortable.
She abruptly begins telling me of their childhood.
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