Translated and Edited by: luccayn.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
Who stood before us was Mikiko Mizumoto, Saki’s biological mother and my former stepmother. She kicked me to the curb when I needed help the most. To me, she was the most terrifying person in the world.
“Goodbye, then,” Saki threw, having not a shred of interest in her mother. She’d tried to end the conversation quickly and did so with a disinterested tone, turning to leave post haste. But…
“Wait,” Mikiko stopped her, but she was having none of it. Without so much as a look back, she tried to leave but was interrupted once again. “Why are you with him? Didn’t I warn you not to get chummy with him, Saki?”
She glared at me as one would look at vomit at the side of the road. I flinched, my body froze, and the words got stuck in my throat.
“It’s not like it matters who I’m with,” Saki retorted with an edge to her tone, pushing Mikiko away.
“It does matter. Both you and Yuto-kun are my precious children. As a parent, isn’t it natural to stop your own from getting involved with addled scum?”
The words ‘precious children’ stuck to my ears like venomous glue, and I felt my heart pound against my chest. She’d never once treated me like that in all the years I’ve known her.
I felt the tears fighting to spill. That hadn’t happened in a long, long time. Not when I worked until my bones cracked. Not when I was bullied by everyone around me. And not even when I had to live alone.
Why was Matsuyama the one being acknowledged by her, while I was treated this way? Even after all the time I’ve spent away from her, she still looks at me like I’m some sort of thing.
“Don’t f*cking talk to us like that! I’m just a ‘good kid’ that enhances your value—Mikiko Mizumoto’s value to everyone else, aren’t I?! Not only that, but you’re pretending to be a mother now? You’re someone who throws people away at the drop of a hat!” Saki lashed out in anger while every fiber of my being fought against me.
It was Matsuyama’s turn to react. “Hey, Saki! That’s not a good way to talk to your own mother!”
“It’s fine, Yuto-kun. It’s a fact that my upbringing was flawed…”
Both of them drowned each other in their own sympathies. As a result of that and the lashing out, a crowd began to gather around us.
“What’s going on…?”
“Is that woman about to cry…?”
“The handsome guy next to her is something else though.”
“Are they fighting?”
The various voices of the onlookers filled the air due to us arguing loudly. Gradually, that crowd grew to watch this whole thing unfold. It was then that things started to change.
“Saki, please! That man is off-limits! You know how he treated me, right?!”
Mikiko’s outburst came out of nowhere, and the onlookers started to murmur because of it. I didn’t understand or even believe what she was saying at first, and Saki only clicked her tongue.
“Did Iwaki do something?!” Matsuyama widened his eyes.
“H-He… He hurt me… Ugh…” Crocodile tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Hey! Iwaki! So Saki wasn’t enough for you and your scummy behavior?! Did you hurt Mikiko too?!”
“N-No, I didn’t…!”
I tried to deny it, heart almost knifing at my chest, but their words had already swayed the crowd’s opinion in their favor. While no one addressed me directly, the people around us had garnered sympathy for that mother and her child, while I had become the antagonist for this whole play. I also feared that the observers would imagine outlandish things to fill the gaps, having me as some heinous criminal in their minds.
“Sigh. You’re still that same old b***h as you’ve always been. And now this self-absorbed f*ck is added to the mix, huh?! You’re all irredeemable lunatics…”
“That’s cruel, Saki! Don’t say that! It’s all that guy’s fault, isn’t it?!”
“Iwaki! That’s enough of you! Let Saki go!”
Matsuyama’s wails didn’t matter to me. They truly didn’t. What struck me the most were Mikiko’s words. They cut through me like a hot knife to butter, and a flame of hatred burned inside her eyes and behind her crocodile tears. For all I’ve been through, and for all she represented, I couldn’t move. My body had become rock under her snaky glare.
“Akito, are you okay?”
Thanks to Saki, I managed to regain some of my mobility.
“This isn’t good, being surrounded by these two lunatics. Let’s move away from here,” she said sweetly.
Still shaking, I nodded silently before following Saki, who walked in the opposite direction to all this mess.
“Wait, Iwaki!” Matsuyama shouted at me, but it didn’t matter. I could ignore every single one of his words. However…
I had been conditioned not to defy Mikiko’s words. My body stiffened, my mind almost shut down, and every muscle in my body told me to turn around. However, as my heart beat against my chest and the sounds grew further away, Saki held my hand with a firm and gentle grip.
“I’m here with you. It’s okay.”
She had the kindest look in her eyes, and I found comfort in her. With her leading my weakened body, we both walked away from the scene. I could swear somebody tried to scream something from behind us, but I tried my damnedest not to listen.
We reached a park far enough that it was unlikely they would find us. Sitting side by side in one of its benches, we spent a few moments in heavy silence.
“…I’m sorry. I let my guard down.”
“Saki, no. It’s not your fault.”
She apologized, but there was nothing she could’ve done. The real problem was me. Whenever I faced that woman, my body froze in place, the words were stuck to my throat, and no sound made its way to my ears. It was as if anything she ordered was absolute, and I’d follow by sheer force of fear.
“Sigh. That woman is pain enough, but now that imbecile joined in too…”
I grimaced. She was right. “By the way, they’re getting married?”
“Yes. It’s the worst…”
She was in a difficult place herself.
“Oh, seriously! Why did we have to run into the double-trouble f*cker duo during our date?!” She gripped at her face and cursed our bad luck with a beastly shout.
“Saki, calm down!”
“How can anyone calm down after that?! I had the perfect schedule planned, from the morning cat cafe to the evening at a hotel! That damn old hag!”
“Lower your voice, Saki! And I’d have stopped you there at the end, no matter what,” I tried to calm her down. She also seemed to have some wicked plans in tow for me, which I’d fight tooth and nail to prevent, Mikiko or not.
“At this point, let’s just go all out! Let’s have fun today and forget all about those two pieces of trash!”
“Right… Let’s do that!”
I didn’t want to dwell on Mikiko either, to be completely honest. And worrying about the past wouldn’t change it either.
“Let’s go with what you were talking about before. Choosing summer outfits, right?”
“Yeah. Akito, I’m counting on your feedback, okay?”
“Course. I’ll do my best.”
From then on, Saiki and I decided to forget the unpleasantness and enjoy our afternoon to the fullest.
After a full date, it was around 7 in the evening.
“That was fun.”
“Yeah, it was.”
She and I had gone summer outfit shopping, watched a romantic movie at the cinema, vented our anger at the batting center, and had a lovely dinner at a family restaurant. It was such an enjoyable time that it completely erased the fatigue from the past few days.
“Well then, see you at school tomorrow,” Saki said.
“Yeah, see you.”
“And don’t forget! We have a council meeting in the afternoon.”
We both parted ways there. Fulfilled, I headed back home whilst reminiscing about the fun things that happened today.
“Choosing her outfits was the hardest part…”
Oddly enough, everything Saki tried on in the dressing room suited her perfectly. I had intended to change my comments each time, but I found it difficult to find the right words. Afterward, she suggested going to pick out underwear, but I managed to get out of that one.
The movie we watched right after was quite entertaining, to be honest. It was about a younger sister searching for her stepbrother who had gone missing after being expelled by their stepmother, and in the end, they reunited. Saiki was sobbing beside me. Coinkydink, yeah.
Then, we went to the batting center because she had wanted to try it. Since I was a complete novice as well, we both ended up missing every ball, but it was still a lot of fun.
After being lost in these thoughts, I could see my apartment from a distance. However…
“Huh? Did I leave the lights on when I left…?”
My apartment was well-lit. Thinking I messed up and left something on, I tried to unlock the door in a hurry. To my surprise, it was already unlocked.
“Did… Did I leave the door unlocked too? …What do I do with myself?”
Stepping inside, life hit me with a gut punch.
I’d been in a dreamlike state just moments ago. Now, though, reality had other nefarious plans. To my lifelong dread, Mikiko lounged in my thoroughly ransacked room, casually using my teacup as she greeted me amidst the shambles.
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