Even So, We Are Living in the Present - Chapter 70
Chapter 70 – Secret and Mentality
About 10 minutes after Kyosuke and the others boarded the plane, it took off.
They were ushered into a row of two luxurious and neat reclining seats, which might be termed first-class seats, something they had never ridden in or viewed before, consisting of a total of eight seats each.
In the two seats at the very front were Kyosuke and Yuu.
Behind them were Natsume and Tomoya.
On the third row was Kouki alone.
And on the fourth row seated Kouki’s father.
The plane eventually rose high enough to peer out the window at the drifting clouds, a mass of water vapor. After breakfast has been served and for a while, a sense of elegance and leisurely freedom prevailed, soon there was neither much to do nor discuss and within an hour everyone had quietly settled into their seats.
“There’s still a long flight ahead of us. Why don’t you guys get some sleep?”
At Natsume’s words, which shattered the silence, Yuu immediately cast down his eyelids.
Since he knew it would be a long flight, he had already removed his artificial eye by the time leaving home. If he wanted to sleep, he could sleep as long as he wanted.
Even Tomoya was beginning to prepare for sleep by reclining down. In contrast to the two who started to fall asleep immediately, Kouki and Kyosuke stayed awake without any rest. Nevertheless, the time spent only sitting without anything to do was tremendously idle.
Within an hour from that point, both of them were slowly being drowned by sleepiness.
Amidst the tranquility of the space, Natsume rested his cheekbones against the armrest and began to slump down, letting his sleep-deprived thoughts take a break, as there was no need to be vigilant over anything.
“Is your name Natsume…?”
Several moments after the boys had slipped into slumber, Kouki’s father unexpectedly called out to him. Natsume’s eyes widened momentarily as his consciousness regained before he nonchalantly turned his head and peeked out from the back recliner.
“… Yeah, though I don’t remember telling you my name.”
While Natsume was wary that his name was known, the other party wore a smile with a sense of composure.
“I heard it from Kouki. Are you acting as a guardian for Kyosuke and the others?”
“Is it bad?”
In response to the rather icy question, the other party chuckled involuntarily.
“You don’t have to be so guarded, you know?”
Whether his alertness was evident in his nonchalant demeanor or whether his response was suspicious, Natsume raised his eyebrows in dissatisfaction when he was asked more questions back and forth.
“I don’t intend to be wary of you. After all, this is our first meeting.”
“Indeed, that’s true.”
The other party’s attitude and tone remained the constant calmness. Although Natsume felt slightly uncomfortable as if he was being regarded as a child, he and the other party were the only two awake at the moment. He continued on, determined to say what he could.
“I’ve heard that the stepson of the woman who remarried… is being treated as an ‘illegitimate child’. I have no idea about your circumstances, but wouldn’t it feel a little easier if you disclosed it to the public?”
While he feigned to be thinking of the other party, his true intentions were directed towards Kouki. Perhaps realizing this, the other party slowly shook his head.
“That subject has been understood by Kouki. I have no intention of announcing it publicly.”
“Ah, I see. I ain’t pursuing this, though. I simply can’t tolerate parents who cause misery to their children, so I just had to say it, even though it’s none of my business.”
Knowing how painful it is for children to suffer at the hands of their parents, the severity of his words was heightened.
He will not allow any rebuttal. With such vigor, he further carried on.
“I only know that you ‘own a zaibatsu’, so I won’t delve any deeper than that. If something were to happen to Kouki, I won’t show any mercy.”
“I see. Well, that’s fine. Until now, I have done things to Kouki that I am sorry for… From now on, I will fulfill my role as a father as much as I can.”
Subtly, bitterness spread from the other party’s expression as the composure faded away. From the words that were assembled, it was apparent that Kouki had conveyed his feelings. This may have been a superficial attempt to smooth over the matter, but recalling what he saw of Kouki before boarding, Natsume concluded that this was unlikely and casually inquired about the other aspects of the matter.
“Do you think you can keep it a secret?”
“Well, who knows. There is such a thing as a long-term relationship, you know. It would be more convenient for my business if I said I don’t have children… I’m sure you have a secret you’d like to keep from people too?
He had been listening in silence, yet the content of the question, which abruptly struck at the heart of the matter, further aggravated Natsume’s vigilance.
The question, which seemed to be common to everyone and involved the so-called “Burnham effect,” made it impossible to be on guard.
There may be an aim to this question.
Natsume had a very quick mind.
Hence, he can conceive of a variety of possibilities.
It couldn’t be that you know what my job is…
Of all the things he was concerned about, that was the most unsettling.
Narrowing his eyes, he read the other party’s state of mind based on the look in their eyes. Yet, from the other’s eyes, which were staring fixedly into Natsume’s red ones, no skepticism could be discerned. Even after staring at the eyes for a while, the pupils didn’t shift, thus he concluded that the person didn’t know anything about him and that he should handle the situation dispassionately.
“No, it’s nothing…”
After a brief pause, he finished answering in his usual low tone of voice and resumed his posture, turning back to face forward.
The conversation ended.
Nonetheless, Natsume was faintly agonizing internally. The other party may not care. But if they have to stay together for dozens of hours with a lingering unfavorable atmosphere, that would be something Natsume could not stand.
At this point, it would be advisable to improve the atmosphere even if only a little.
Not for the other person’s sake, but for his own.
“I appreciate the help you gave us in coming to the U.S.”
When he thanked the person behind him with merely his voice, the response was immediate.
“Since Kouki asked me to do this, I just listened to him.”
Although he expressed his gratitude out of courtesy, the other party’s reply sounded exactly like, “It’s not for you,” and pricked Natsume’s heart. Desperately restraining the blue streaks on his temples, Natsume kept his cool and spoke up, maintaining his face forward.
“Even so, in the end, it’s still beneficial for me. You should accept my thanks.”
“Haha, I suppose that’s true too.”
Natsume, who did not mean to say anything amusing, couldn’t resist bringing up a blue streak on his temple.
I am sorry to Kouki, but I don’t think I can understand this guy…
Whether the atmosphere was improving or not was unclear.
As if to relieve his turbulent feelings, Natsume also decided to sleep peacefully with his eyelids down after admiring the sleeping face of Tomoya who was sleeping next to him for a while.
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