Part 3: Arrival at Rokkenjima II
October 4th, 1986, 10:30 AM
It looked like we'd docked at the harbor. The boat's staff came out and jumped to the pier while holding the mooring rope. There was a largely built man in a tuxedo greeting us with a warm smiling face.
...I didn't know his face, but judging by his clothes, I guessed that he was a servant of the Ushiromiya family head house.
"Aw, that's sweet of you! Mr. Useless here got all scared. Then we had to slow down. It was seriously annoying!"
"S, Shut up... someday, when the shoe's on the other foot, you'll remember this... ugghh."
At this rate, the word would get spread around the entire family and I was gonna be the big conversation piece at tonight's dinner. Even under normal circumstances it'd be easy for me to be on everyone's lips because it's been six years, but now I'd given 'em an even juicier topic...! Dammit, why does the Ushiromiya head house have to live on this isolated island!
In the meantime, the boat finished its mooring. A small plank was lowered to get off the boat. One by one, our parents came out.
"Battler-kun, isn't this your first time meeting Gohda-san? If I'm not mistaken, you weren't working here six years ago, right?"
"Indeed. Therefore, I shall present myself to him. I am pleased to meet you, Battler-sama."
"...I'm pretty secure about my height, but you're huge... This is definitely our first meeting. If I'd ever met a big guy like you, I'd never forget it...! It's a pleasure. I'm Battler."
"I do apologize for the wait. I have been working for the Ushiromiya head house since the year before last. I am Gohda (郷田), your servant. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. If there is anything you can think to request, please ask me anytime."
"Gohda-san, it's been some time."
"George-sama, it has been a while that we have not seen each other. Please, allow me to assist you."
"As usual, ya're a reception pro... If ya ever get bothered with this job, call me anytime, 'kay? I'd hire ya anytime!"
"You do me too much honor. Please allow me to assist you, Hideyoshi-sama."
Gohda-san then helped with everyone's disembarkment and greeted them. His behaviour and presentation were polished and, how could you say it, just like a professional. Completely breaking with his tough-looking outside, he was very graceful.
Since he possessed that overbearing quality common in large men, I'd thought he'd be a scary person, but he was surprisingly polite the whole time. He said that he had worked on the island for two years, but there was no doubt that he had worked in the same kind of job before. After everybody disembarked, the mooring rope was untied and the boat started to steer away from the harbor. It was probably returning to its home port of Niijima.
The captain waved his hand in farewell. Maria conscientiously waved her hand back.
"Seagulls? The birds?"
It's true that whenever I come to this island, the seagulls always meet us with their lively 'nyaa nyaa' cries. And because of that, whenever I hear the cries of the seagulls in any other place, I get the feeling that I'm coming to a family conference. Rokkenjima, except for the small part where those of the Ushiromiya head house live, had apparently been turning into a wild bird's paradise after being left untouched. The whole wharf looked like it was turning into a huge seagull colony, and this island always was full of seagulls.
Since those seagulls didn't come to greet us, I felt a bit lonely.
"What's wrong, Battler-kun?"
"Oh, aunt Rosa. Nah, it's nothing really, I was just sayin' that since I can't hear the seagulls, it feels a bit lonely."
"My, now that you say so, it's true. Even though they're always so lively, today there isn't one to be seen."
"...Uu-? Why no seagulls?"
"Hmmm, maybe it's because the seagulls are having a gathering somewhere too? Maria, did you want to see the seagulls?"
"Uu-, wanted to."
"The hell, don't say disturbing stuff like that! You'll get Maria all confused!!"
"Uu-uu-uu-! Jessica onee-chan made them into yakitori, made them into yakitori! Uu-!!"
"I did not, I did not! Why the hell would I do something like that?!"
"That's right, that's right~, Jessica made 'em into yakitori! Skin n' meatballs, liver 'n onio~on!"
"Swim in meat dolls! Liver n' oniooon!! Uu-uu-uu-! Ahaha, ahaha! Kyakkya, kyakkya!"
As I made fun of Jessica, Maria tagged along looking like she was having fun. Ooh, so she's a person who goes with other people's moods! Alrighty then, from today on I'll make you my number one follower!
As I smiled at her, she beamed, looking overjoyed and possibly happy with my modest solidarity.
"That's not it, Maria-chan. It seems that wild birds are attuned to changes in the weather and atmospheric pressure. It looks like the weather will get worse around tonight. It's possible they hurried back to their nests."
"...Uu-. Not yakitori? Jessica onee-chan didn't make them into yakitori?"
"I did not, I did not!! I said, I wouldn't do stuff like that! Alright, Battler, you admit right now that you lied!"
"Battler-kun. Maria-chan is a naive girl, so she takes even jokes seriously. You should choose your jokes more carefully."
...George-aniki gently scolded me. Even though I outstripped Aniki in height, Aniki was of course Aniki. There was no choice but to obediently apologize.
"H-hey, my bad, my bad... Maria, that just now was a joke. It's just today the seagulls are all quiet in their nests."
"...Battler lie? George onii-chan true?"
Despite her having all that fun, she really was tricked...? Her pure eyes seemed to blame me... Maybe I went a little overboard with her after all.
"Yeeaah, that's right, that's right. What George-aniki said is true. The weather is bad so they probably went home for today. It doesn't mean they're gone, does it?"
"That's right. Tomorrow, when the weather gets better, I'm sure they'll come back and let us hear their 'Myaa myaa' cries."
"Uu-. They're waiting for the weather to get better to come back. Waiting for tomorrow. Waiting for the weather to get better. Uu-uu-!"
Maria was in a lighter mood, and was looking forward to tomorrow when the seagulls would come back and fill the skies.
"George-kun is amazing at taking care of kids. And you're not working in child-care?"
"Yeah, George nii-san, looks like it's what you were born to do. Personally, I see you doing that rather than doing business in some company president's office."
"Oh, no. Child-care is a fine job. But it's not a job where merely liking children is enough."
"You're truly modest, George-kun. But Battler-kun is also quite good with children! Earlier, even if it was just for a time, Maria seemed to be having a lot of fun. Keep on playing with her like you did just now. Just choose the jokes carefully though, alright? *giggle*."
Aunt Rosa winked at me, giggling a little. A real mother, I thought to myself, who's happy that Maria looks like she's having fun.
"Alright, alright, we're coming."
The old bastard was waving his hand for us to hurry up. But yeah, we needed to get moving. It's not like it'd be too late to have the same discussion after we got our luggage in our rooms.
"Now then everyone, I shall lead you towards the guesthouse where you will be staying. Please, this way."
Gohda-san called to everyone and started leading us. Kumasawa-san brought up the rear.
I'd guess the path was made twisting so that the slope wouldn't be felt too much, but personally, I'd have been happier if they'd had the guts to make some stairs in a straight line. No doubt they made the path twisting on purpose, to put on airs of distance and importance...
Before long, we saw garden-style stone steps. Aaah, from here on, I have some memories. Go up these, and...
At the top of the stone steps, we saw a beautiful guesthouse.
"Aren't the flowers less lively this year? It must be because the summer wasn't warm enough."
"I also believe that is so. When one compares with last year's blooming, it is a pity that this year's is a bit inferior."
Even so, it was a delightful rose garden. I remembered that every year before six years previously, huge amounts of roses had greeted me... This rose garden was the first thing that greeted the people who came to Rokkenjima. Even our parents, who came every year, couldn't help but let their wonder slip out.
And moreover, it looked like a 'powered-up' version of the garden from six years ago that was in my memories.
"It's amazing whenever you see it. It would be truly wonderful to have such a rose garden in one's home."
"Oh no you don't, who'd take care of it? With roses, between the bugs and diseases, it'd be hell!"
"That's right. Kyrie nee-san seems the type who'll take care of a rose each and every day so that no insect'll come near, right?"
"Huh? I don't have a clue what you're talking about."
"That's right. In this case, the rose goes after the insects like some nasty carnivorous plant."
"...Oh, so that's what you mean. Honestly, Rosa, gimme a break with that today, wouldn't you? I've completely done away that sort of thing, right?"
"I do wonder. Rudolf nii-san is a womanizer on the genetic level...!"
"That's alright, Rosa-san. If a rose gives me too much trouble, I'll snip it right at the root."
"Hoh-hoh-hoh-ho... such frightening talk this is."
"Guys who're popular with the ladies are always forced to live dangerously. I sure hope I turn out a bit prettier in my next life!"
"Hideyoshi nii-san, I keep telling you, it's not like I'm popular with the ladies. And you, Kyrie, cut it out with the weird talk. Hasn't my rose withered already?"
"Hey, Maria-chan, come see here. The roses here are especially magnificent."
"Hmmm, smells pretty sweet. Look, this matches my elegance perfectly."
"Hey, cut it out! Maria's gonna imitate you and get hurt with the thorns!"
She yelled at me as I leaned in to smell the rose's scent with an exaggerated gesture. 'No way' I thought, but when I turned around Maria was imitating my every gesture, making George-aniki smile broadly.
"Hey now, Maria-chan, be careful. Rose thorns can hurt."
"...Uu-? ...George onii-chan. Only this rose is strange. Uu-."
"Strange? What's wrong?"
It's not like there was a specific reason. If there are healthy roses, then there will be withering roses. That's all there was to it, but even though all the rest were healthy, one wasn't, and that seemed to greatly preoccupy Maria. It must have made her feel lonely.
"Only this rose isn't healthy, how sad huh...?"
"...Uu-. The others are all healthy, only this one's sad."
"Well, that's because they all bloom and wither. Rather than withering one step ahead, I guess you could say that it blossomed faster than all the other roses."
"Yeah, that's right. I think that it just bloomed to its max, fulfilled its duty and just went to rest. You shouldn't get so worked up about it."
It seemed that Maria's pure sensitivity was making her feel some emotional pain for the rose that withered alone. Even though she understood the logic of it, her sadness seemed indelible.
"Then, Maria-chan, why don't we look after this rose until we leave?"
George-aniki straightened up and felt around in his pocket. What he took out was the wrapping paper of the candy that Maria had eaten in the plane. He twisted it into a thin string, and gently tied it to that rose as a sort of marker.
"Heeey, that's pretty cute!"
"This is a marker for this rose here. Afterwards, come give it some water. I think Mr. Rose is sure to be happy."
"...Uu-! Come to give it water!"
"After all this trouble, it'd be nice if we gave Mr. Rose here a name. If we do, I think Mr. Rose'll be happy, and Maria-chan's mind'll surely be soothed."
Maria started wracking her brains with her arms crossed, though still wearing her usual sullen face. At least she appeared to have been completely pulled out of her sorrow. Just as can be expected from Aniki.
"Now this garden, was it just as mag-nificent when y'all were kids?"
"From the time I left the House onwards, it started to really become something. Before that, the garden was simpler, but I'm still attached to that one though. Nii-san fiddled with it too much, with his slightly bad taste. It was better the way it was before."
"Eva, you've gotta think positive! Let the past go, ya hafta admire the prettiness of this garden now. That way, your heart'll be at peace."
"I didn't mean it like that... I was just saying that I wanted you to see this garden the way it was before too."
"Now then, everyone, if you please. I shall be guiding you to the rooms now."
Gohda-san called to everyone to ask if we were ready, but our hearts had been completely stolen away by the rose garden after a year of absence, and we didn't lend him an ear. Since we weren't a travel group, it wasn't like we had a strict schedule to follow. Besides, since our parents were visiting their old home, full of nostalgia, it wasn't like they had to let themselves be urged on by anyone or anything.
Understanding the situation, Gohda-san continued to wait, smiling widely, until our parents got tired of the roses and told him to guide us to the rooms...
"My...! Heeey! If it ain't Kanon-kun! It's been so long, how ya doin'?!"
Uncle Hideyoshi suddenly shouted. In the direction he was waving at, there was a slender boy.
BGM: White Shadow
...I figured he was probably younger than me. I realized by the general atmosphere surrounding him that he was a servant too. He answered uncle Hideyoshi's greeting, but he seemed unsociable deep down. It was a greeting that lacked feeling.
When Gohda-san noticed that our interest had shifted towards him, he went to the boy's side and introduced him to us.
"Battler-sama, I shall introduce you. He is one of the servants who serve the Ushiromiya head house. Kanon-san, greet our guest."
"...I'm pleased to meet you. I am the servant... Kanon (嘉音)."
Yep, my first impression wasn't wrong, he gave the feeling that he was unsociable, and a bit of a poor speaker. Compared to Gohda-san, who was extraordinarily polished as a servant, no matter what he did, he gave off a feeling of inexperience typical of his age.
When Gohda-san urged him in a whisper to give a bit more of an introduction, the boy named Kanon only cast his eyes downwards.
"Kanon-san. Could you perhaps give them a little more as a greeting...?"
"...No. Because we... are furniture."
It seemed that he wasn't refusing to greet us out of spite, but rather, he gave the impression that he had no choice but stay silent, not knowing what to add to his greeting.
"Ok then, nice to meet you. I'm Battler! I'm 18, how old are you?"
A silence, as if appraising whether it was a question that must be answered or not. But here again, Jessica plowed ahead.
"Um, uhh...! If I remember correctly, he's two years younger than us so,...sixteen, right?"
"...Yes, that is correct."
It looked like if given a choice, he would have preferred not to tell us his age. Him not wanting to tell his age was probably because he thought he would be looked down upon for it. I remember that when I was around his age, I hated being asked how old I was by adults.
I see, sixteen huh? That's gotta be a delicate time. In that case, I asked something I shouldn't have.
"Heh he~, I'm glad you're about our age! Just be cool and call me Battler! And I'll call you Kanon!"
"...Thank you very much. But just the sentiment is sufficient, Battler-sama."
Jessica looked all downcast for some reason. She seemed to think that my impression of Kanon was worsening because of his rejection.
Well, that girl Jessica probably couldn't understand the fretful male heart at this age. As his elder, even by just two years, who would lead him into adolescence, I took it upon myself to understand that.
"Kanon-san, could you perhaps be a little more courteous? A smiling face is also the duty of a servant."
"...I apologize. I shall make an effort."
"Hoh-hoh-ho... Gohda-san, Kanon-kun is trying his best, isn't he?"
It looked like he had already been well warned about his discourtesy. And apparently he hadn't improved a bit. Gohda-san kept his business-smile, but let a small sigh of resignation escape.
"...Well then, I still have work to do... If you'll excuse me."
It looked like Kanon himself was uncomfortable with remaining silent here any longer. After another perfunctory bow, he turned on his heels and started pushing the wheelbarrow again.
"What have you done... now now, quickly clean it up...!"
Since Gohda-san was one to harp on the fact that presenting a clumsy appearance in front of guests is a servant's shame, he urged him along in a low voice. Kanon-kun, who probably understood quite well without being told, wordlessly reloaded the wheelbarrow with the fallen objects. He seemed to be fine with the light-looking gardening tools, shovels and such, but he looked like he was having trouble getting his arms around and lifting up some sacks of fertilizer.
"Are you alright? You're so careless. Here."
"Milady, you will dirty your garments. Please, leave it to us."
Gohda-san took the shovel that Jessica had picked up with an elegant gesture. At his back was the figure of Kanon-kun having trouble with the sacks of fertilizer.
"...Uu-. You'll dirty your garments?"
"Don't worry, the ones I'm wearing aren't that elegant. Besides, I hate guys who make the waitress pick up the fork they dropped at a restaurant."
I lifted up the other bags that had fallen. Of course, they weren't light, but for me it was a piece of cake. Kanon-kun turned his surprised eyes towards me. It was the face of one who would never have thought to receive help from a guest.
"...B-Battler-sama... That's sufficient... I'll take care of everything, so..."
"Don't you worry! I may not look it, but I've got it where it counts! Heheh!"
Since Kanon-kun looked like he hadn't yet gone through his growth spurt, he was stuck with a sorta weak body. I guessed that this kind of weight was too much for him.
"It's quite heavy, isn't it. It's natural that it would be difficult for you. Kanon-kun, don't worry about it."
"Ok, my time to shine. This makes up for the boat part from before, right?"
"Ha! As if your antics earlier could be written off just by this! Ah-hah-hah-ha! Later, I'm gonna tell Kanon-kun too just how funny you were, Battler!"
"Faaall faaall!! Uu-uu-uu-!!!"
As they did this, I piled all the stuff back into the wheelbarrow.
Letting such a disgraceful thing be seen by the guests who were supposed to be made welcome...must have been hideously embarrassing as a servant. Pressed by Gohda to hurry up and exit, Kanon-kun left.
"You're too harsh on him, Gohda-san. Wouldn't it have been better if you'd helped him, instead of being a bully?"
"...That had not occurred to me. I deeply, deeply implore your forgiveness."
Without even a twitch in his smile, Gohda-san apologized elegantly.
"Kanon-kun has a ton a things he's good at too. It's just that bein' young works against him all the time. It's a cryin' shame."
"It's a prickly age. You be nice to him. Close-mouthed servants are just fine. Right, Kumasawa-san?"
"Hoh-hoh-hoh-ho, Rudolf-sama, you truly are harsh! There is no servant as silent as I, of course!"
Everyone smiled wryly at that shameless lie. Even she herself didn't believe that, not in her wildest dreams. She said that to loosen us all up. Yeah, that's the kind of character Kumasawa baa-chan used to be.
The mood that had stiffened a little was cleared up in a twinkling, thanks to Kumasawa-san's cheerful smile.
"I'd like to put down the luggage soon. Gohda-san, how are we to split up for our rooms?"
"It shall be the same as the previous year. I shall guide you. Please, this way."
We headed towards a trim, elegantly simple guesthouse. This was gonna be our temporary quarters for a night.
In his mind, he kept going over his previous mistake. Battler, big and strong, had picked up the sacks in front of him, the sacks he couldn't lift himself, as if they were feathers. It was extremely difficult for an outside observer to guess what emotions that favor had stirred up in Kanon. But as far as you could tell by watching him hang his head from behind, there was something that he just couldn't let go.
...Muttered words escaped his lips.
But those words he murmured were so soft that they didn't reach even his own ears.
Kanon hung his head, slightly biting his lower lip...
The brand-new western-style guesthouse that stood overlooking the rose garden had a magnificent design carefully done in harmony with the garden.
"Correct! It was built the year before last. And after that, they made us sleep over here.
"Hehe, this place's more fun than that junky old mansion you knew. I wish my room was over here!"
"Uu-! Maria wants one too! Waaant!"
...I guess you could say my house was also upper-class, but I thought it was completely ordinary compared to the head house. The display of wealth was shocking, as was the fact that they would build this kind of awesome guesthouse for guests who come over like once a year.
"Eva-sama, Hideyoshi-sama. Please, do make use of this room. Rudolf-sama, Kyrie-sama, please make use of this room here."
"Ah yes, it's pleasant how pretty and elegant this place is. Western style truly is wonderful."
"If it's just two or three days, western-style's fine I reckon, but if it's for a longer stay, then it's gotta be Japanese-style for sure! Japanese people are just meant to rest on tatami mats."
"...Haha, they've been fighting over making our new house Japanese-style or western-style. Mom still holds a grudge about Dad having the construction started as Japanese-style, and they bicker all the time about it."
"I'm really jealous, George nii-san. Your parents get along well, don't they? Mine are so frosty. But even so, they're right with each other when it comes to my grades."
All the rooms seemed to be two-person. I was grateful, because since things turned out like this, I wasn't gonna be forced to share the same room with the old bastard, under the pretext that we were family. I figure those two wouldn't be able to enjoy themselves with someone like me around, ihihi.
"What's that creepy smile all about? You're thinking about something dirty, aren't you."
"Ihihihi~! Something diiirrrty? Of cooouuurse not! Do please...enjoy your staaay~!"
"Ow, owowowow! That hurts, you old bastard!"
Once again, Dad pulled my ears from behind.
"Cut the crap. I'm getting a stomachache, and I'm not in the mood for this. You're the guest of honor this time around. You play as nice as possible with Dad and Aniki and the rest. At the very least, pay attention to what you say in front of Dad, got it? Because wisecracks don't go too well with him. Jessica-chan, what's the head of our family's mood been lately?"
"...Hmm... Same as last year, I guess. Considering they say he's got three months left, he's as stubborn, grumpy, and irritable as ever."
"Meaning, this year he's in his usual bad mood. And as usual, the only one who's able to take care of him is Genji-san?"
"It seems that the Master will only open his heart to Genji-san. Lately, us small people cannot even get an audience..."
"He's shut himself up in his study again, probably doing nothing but that weird black magic of his. What he does for a hobby is his own damn business, but when he starts stinking up the house, it really gets on my nerves... And I wish he'd never come out of that study again. Heheheh!"
"You shouldn't talk like that about the elderly. We're all indebted to him, since he rebuilt the Ushiromiya Family, and a little gratitude wouldn't hurt."
"Hm... well... sorry."
After being rebuked by George-aniki, Jessica had no choice but to take back her thoughtless remark.
Dad had said he was getting a stomachache earlier, but I guess that was what all the adults who came here today were actually feeling. No doubt they were jealous of us, the grandchildren, just playing and laughing without a care. From the stories Dad told me, the Head of the Family was a violent man who rained blows on his sons with his own fists and even beat his daughters mercilessly with a wooden sword.
If he was such a hard-ass with his kids, why wasn't he the same with their names? Because of that, it's a pain even for us grandkids. Well, I'm not the least unsettled by his terrifying image. I don't have many memories of meeting him over the years, but I remember Grandpa, his face always full of menacing thunder-clouds, always making his surroundings shrink away with a sharp look. I remember that the room's atmosphere got so tense whenever he was around, you couldn't even breathe.
What my dad said right now about me being the guest of honor now carries a little more oomph for me.
"...Six years ago I was in grade school, but, as one would expect, I'm a high-schooler now. If I act up, things'll probably get serious... Ooo, scary."
"He does look frightening, but he's not completely terrifying. He's definitely never unfair. He's just very direct and not a pretty talker, that's all."
"But George nii-san, you've been the family darling since like forever because of your awesome grades, right? Grandfather treats us completely different! Like me, I've gotten slapped with a wooden sword. On my ass, my ass! On my maidenly, innocent ass!"
"Well, you're the heiress of the head house, Jessica-chan. Grandfather is giving you special attention. You have to realize that his strictness shows how much he's expecting of you."
"Oh, come on. Seriously, I could just turn the succession over to you, George nii-san. It's a bit of a heavy burden for me to carry."
I think I already said it before, but Jessica was the daughter who would inherit the head house. As cousins of a branch of the family, the pressure on our shoulders was probably different.
"...Uu-? Jessica onee-chan, heavy? If Maria holds it, will it get lighter?"
"Hm? Ahahahaha, thanks. It's alright, it's not gonna get pushed on you, Maria. I'm gonna bear that cross until my grave. Don't worry."
She was grateful for Maria's innocent consideration, but it seemed that anxiety for the future she couldn't clear away remained on Jessica's face. Were we the same? If it was a high-schooler near an examination, nobody'd be able to hide their anxiety for the future.
"Maria, come here. Mom and Maria will be in this room."
"Battler-kun, you will be with me in this room here."
"Uu-! Maria likes here best too! Here is better than being together with Mom! Uu-uu-!"
"Okay, you like it here better too, Maria! Alright, this room is George's and mine, but we'll specially allow you to come in and out! Keep it a secret from your mom, right?"
Her mother, aunt Rosa, was right behind us, but Maria still answered, striking the air with her fists clenched tight. After our parents put the luggage in the rooms, they gathered again in the corridor.
"Anyway, it's gonna be high noon soon. Better let the kids unwind here. Besides, if worse comes to worst, this might be the last chance they get to play outdoors.
"Uu-! Maria will go too!"
"Maria, you house-sit for Mommy, okay? You behave yourself and wait here."
Telling Maria to take house-sit was a pretty lame excuse for leaving her behind. George-aniki soon realized it and gave a clear reply for all of us.
"Well, we'll accept your offer and house-sit. We have lots of stories to tell each other, after a year."
"That's nice. And Battler-kun has six years' worth, doesn't he?"
"Yeah, yeah. I'll take care of the house like a good boy."
"Kumasawa-san, I'm gonna stay here too! We'll leave the rest to the adults and us kids'll break rank, hehehe!"
"That's nice, hoh-hoh-ho. I'll report it to Madam..."
"Then, everyone, I will be guiding you to the mansion. Please, this way."
"...Since George isn't a child anymore, and is getting to be an adult, wouldn't it be better if he came with us?"
"If we make 'im come, only poor George will be outta place. Interactin' with his cousins is also important. 'kay, bye then!"
As we gathered in the cousins' room assigned to us, George-aniki asked us to excuse him for a second. He rushed over to Kumasawa-san, who was following behind the disappearing adults, and seemed to be asking her something. He soon finished his business and came back.
"What's up, Aniki?"
"Ah, nothing. I just wanted to ask something."
"Uu-! Tell Maria too! Tell Maria too!"
"...Hm~? Hmhuhuhuhu. What could it be that George nii-san asks Kumasawa-san and doesn't ask me, I wonder~? Ah, I don't have a clue~!"
"No, it's a misunderstanding...! I'm not sure what Jessica-chan is misunderstanding but...!"
Aniki was getting pretty tongue-tied. It's almost as though he had a guilty conscience and he was putty in Jessica's hands... Why? Something only Jessica knows and I don't is no fun at all!
"Well, Maria, it seems only us two are out of the loop, right~? What is this all about, now? I want to know, hmm~?!"
"Uu-! Battler and Maria want to know too! Battler and Maria want to know too!"
I fooled around while "Uu~"ing together with Maria.
"No, I'm telling you... it's no big deal, ahahaha..."
"Li~ar! You suck at lying, now confess! Maria, you tickle his right side, I'll tickle his left!"
"Uu-! Maria right side, Battler left! Uu-!"
I think that when you're a high-schooler you try not to act like a kitten anymore, but in spite of that, I missed this kind of fun. A warm kind of fun.
"Haahahahaha, George nii-san, what were you asking Kumasawa-san? Hmm~? Well, I've got a good guess. It's been a year since you last came to the head house. During that time, some servants retired while new ones came over...and you wanted to say hi, right?"
"...Uu-? Greet, Maria will greet too!"
"What the hell, that's not anything to feel guilty about, Aniki... Hmm~~m? That's not it?? Maria, don't be fooled, what are you hiding, Aniki? More torture!! Uworyaaa!!"
"They're probably busy with cleaning or lunch arrangements. It's alright, we'll go and greet them properly afterwards. Shannon's reception will sure be better than Gohda's nosy one, right? Heehehe!"