He was extremely thirsty. He quickly gulped down the water in the glass, but it wasn’t enough to quench my thirst. The dishes laid out before him were all excellent. No, they were supposed to be excellent.
In the midst of overwhelming tension, he had no leisure to savor the flavors. It wasn’t just his own fate and ambition at stake, but also the future of his family hanging in the balance.
For prefectural assemblyman Hideomi Tojo, this moment was a make-or-break gamble, a once-in-a-lifetime showdown.
“I never expected you to be acquainted with Miss… The world is small, isn’t it?” (Old man)
“So, the person Boss mentioned marrying was Himiyama-san’s older brother.” (Yukito)
“Ouyo. I was worried because your single days seemed to last forever, but you finally made it. Anyway Bouzu, thanks for saving Miss, even though I’m bald now. I’m relieved too, you know.” (Old man)
“Why is that? I should be the one thanking you for saving me.” (Yukito)
“Don’t worry about thanking me for that. But you know, until Himiyama met you, she was in a slump. I couldn’t bear watching her like that, especially since I’ve known her since she was little.” (Old man)
As he listened to their pleasant conversation from behind the counter, cold sweat trickled down his forehead.
A woman is sitting across from him in the tatami room. Hideomi is much older than her, but in the face of power, such things are meaningless. Hideomi knows this firsthand, and even the soft smile on the other woman’s face is nothing but an object of fear.
Misaki Himiyama, a woman who had no inherent power herself. Yet, from Hideomi’s viewpoint, she seemed to reside in an elevated realm. And that perception was not entirely unfounded.
“I hope you will be prepared for that since you have harmed my sweet little Yukito with such a trivial thing. You may have already understood that deeply.” (Misaki)
“I deeply apologize for the trouble I have caused.” (Hideomi)
Without shame or concern for his reputation, he bowed his head. If he couldn’t obtain forgiveness here, everything would be over.
He had crossed paths with an entity he must never defy. Hideomi was nothing more than a pebble on the roadside.
Even if he were easily replaced, he couldn’t complain about being easily disposed of. It would have been a complete failure without even being given a chance. Hideomi had no choice but to cling to the slim hope he managed to salvage.
“There’s no need for you to apologize to me.”
Even so, he continued bowing his head. Reminding himself of his own thoughtlessness.
Hideomi often frequented high-class Japanese restaurants and gourmet establishments. It wasn’t just for casual dining; sometimes, he conducted highly confidential discussions that couldn’t be leaked to the outside world.
But, the place I’m currently in is completely different from those.
‘Kyomatsu.’ It is a privileged culinary establishment reserved only for the invited guests of the Himeyama family.
Hideomi also learned about it for the first time, but not even a signboard existed at the entrance. If not for this opportunity, he might never have known about it forever. Had it not been for this desperate situation, he would have been overcome with emotion at being invited to this place.
“Meh! Please, Himiyama-san, forgive him already. He’s trembling like a stray puppy. It’s too pitiful to watch.”
“Yukito-kun… But you’ve been through such difficult times yourself…”
“Well? it feels like you were enjoying it… Anyway, I became friends with Senpai. So, I don’t want to do anything that would make her sad.”
“Mou! Can’t you get angry a little? You’re always so kind.”
“Your brother is getting married. It’s supposed to be a joyous occasion. A pardon, a pardon.”
“Haa. If things continue like this, I’ll become a bad woman.”
“I think you’ve already been bad enough.”
“Ara, I feel like impulsively showering someone with this overflowing maternal instinct.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“What should I do? I feel an overwhelming desire to spoil someone. Is there anyone close by?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“I did it out of frustration. I never thought you would make such a confession.”
“Boss, there’s a random attacker coming! Help!” (Yukito)
“U… U… I’m so glad for you, Miss..” (Old man)
Hideomi keenly felt it. The boy was being showered with such favor and affection. Yet he had carelessly attempted to eliminate such a person. He never considered the risks involved in doing so.
This was not limited to this young boy alone. Anyone would be furious if someone dear to them was harmed. Hideomi also has a beloved family. Above all, he cherished his daughter. If his daughter were to experience the same ordeal, he would never forgive the perpetrator.
When did he become so arrogant? When did he become so self-absorbed? He was consumed by self-reproach.
“I have no choice. For Yukito-kun’s sake, I will personally convey it to my grandfather.”
“But please swear that you won’t cause any trouble for Yukito from now on. There won’t be a second chance. If something like this happens again… I will definitely crush you.”
A ray of light shines through. However, Hideomi’s heart remains clouded. The boy he had tried to eliminate was the one who reached out to save him from the sinking ship. A complex mix of inadequacy and gratitude fills him. It’s so embarrassing that he feels like yelling at himself.
“I don’t want Himiyama-san, who is always so kind to me, to say anything dangerous like crushing him.”
“I-I’m sorry! Let’s play with American crackers later, okay?”
“The Bubble Generation, huh.”
The woman who had emitted such a strong aura of intimidation now panics and fumbles around.
He realizes firsthand that the person he should never anger is this boy.
“I couldn’t help it. You saved my life. I am sorry. It’s not something that can be simply put away with words like that. It is the responsibility of adults to protect children. That’s what I–“
He sought self-preservation to avoid his own ruin. It’s a responsible position. He doesn’t think it’s a bad thing. His daughter changed after that incident. She became calm, as if she had changed as a person, and started to empathize with others.
After decades, tears well up in Hideomi’s eyes. His daughter knew. Perhaps she wanted to become like him. To be a kind and magnanimous presence who can forgive others.
“I don’t think I can repay the debt of gratitude with something like this, but from now on, if anything happens to you, I will definitely lend you my strength. Whenever you’re in trouble, anytime. I want you to consult with me about anything.”
He had jumped into the political world with the determination to become someone who could help others, someone who could save those in need, and change the current situation, even if only a little. Hideomi was recalling his original intentions from his youthful days.
“Well then, without further ado, please help me get away from Himiyama-san.”
“…………I’m sorry. I feel guilty as soon as I say it, but I alone am not enough.”
“Adults are liars!”
He averted his gaze from the boy who was hugged tightly.
Some things are impossible. There are things he can’t accept without thinking. That was the sorrowful reality.
“Hey, Yukito-kun. My grandfather wants to see you. Do you have time?”