Chapter 10 – Miroku’s gradual recovery
Miroku woke up feeling refreshed and as he flipped his futon aside, he was surprised by a vigor he had not felt in years.
Washing his face with cold water, he washed away the remnants of the flower-like smile he saw in his dream last night as well.
After changing into a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, he headed down to the first floor’s dining room.
「Morning, Miroku. Breakfast has been prepared.」
「Thanks, Kaa-san. Tou-san’s at work?」
「Yeah, he left for work early today. Mihachi is at work too, Nina has the day off since it’s Tuesday.」
Iona is a gentle housewife who is always thinking for her family. She embodies the traditional 「Mother」.
Although she used to work part-time, she decided to stay at home when Miroku went through various hardships, and has been a housewife ever since, looking after the house and her family.
The dining room, which was 12 tatami mat in size, would have been just right for a family of 4 but felt spacious for just 2. As Miroku drank the coffee she brewed, he thought about watching a movie on the large television screen instead of in his room, and directed his gaze to the sofa in front of the television.
What met his eyes was a head of soft fluffy hair – Fumi, who was sitting quietly on the couch.
「….Puha!! Gehogoho!!…What!? Why is Fumi-chan here!?」
Miroku coughed violently while tearing up as coffee entered his windpipe. Fumi replied as though it was obvious.
「From today onwards, I’ll have the honour of being Miroku-san’s manager. I’m Kisaragi Fumi! I look forward to working with you!」
「Eeh!? Is that so!? I didn’t know….I-I’ll be in your care.」
「Sorry, it’s sudden but we need your help as a model, so I came to pick you up. Thank you for your kind words.」
「Are we late?」
「We’re fine. I thought I should greet your family so I came early.」
Miroku ran his fingers through his hair and took in a deep breath, calming himself down. He saw Fumi in his dreams last night, and he 「stood up」 for the first time in several years. Although he felt somewhat guilty, he did not show it on his face and went up to her and gave her a deep bow while saying 「I’ll be in your care」.
(I was planning to go to the gym first thing in the morning. I should probably change…)
Miroku made up his mind to change his clothes before leaving the house.
Pata pata the sound of a pair of slippers could be heard. His younger sister, Nina, had woken up.
「Morning, Onii-chan. Err, this is…」
「Ah, I’m Kisaragi Fumi from Kisaragi Agency. I’ll be Osaki-san’s manager from today. I’ll be in your care.」
「…..nice to meet you…. Onii-chan, let me style your hair for you if you’re going to work.」
Nina gave Fumi a cold greeting but smiled towards Miroku while speaking to him. Seeing her act different from usual made Miroku tilt his head in puzzlement. She is sociable and is always cordial, even when she is meeting someone for the first time. While he was feeling bewildered since she somehow seemed discontented, his mother gave him some timely help.
「Isn’t it about time? I’ll pack some bread for you so please eat it in the car. Nina too, stop sulking and eat your breakfast.」
「Wai-, I’m not sulking!!」
「What’s the matter all of a sudden, Kaa-san?」
The bewildered Miroku and Fumi were practically driven out of the house by force.
「It can’t be helped. Shall we go, Fumi-chan?」
「Yes, also, for your stage name, is 『Miroku」 fine?」
「Un, that’s why should call me Miroku too.」
「Heh? Ah, y-yes. Roger!」
Fumi glanced through the rearview mirror at Miroku who was seated at the back.
He has fair skin and a well-featured face, so no matter how she looked, she was not able to tell that he was already 36 years old. Her uncle, Yoichi, had said that 「Despite having built up muscles, he is still physically weaker than me – that’s where his real age shows.」
Above all else, his calm and composed atmosphere gave off a mature feeling as compared to Fumi.
「Ano, O… Miroku-san.」
「Why is your skin so fair and beautiful? Do you take proper care of it or something?」
「Aah, I was a hikikomori neet several months ago. I was terribly fat too… Being told I’m good-looking now just makes me feel extremely uncomfortable.」
「What is? Me losing weight?」
「Not that, the fact that you don’t seem that way.」
「Nn? What do you mean?」
Fumi took a moment to think. Expressing one’s feelings in words is difficult, but conveying them to others is even harder. She spoke slowly while choosing her words.
「If a person’s appearance was horrible in the past but is good now, that means that the person worked hard. If that person has changed so much that he now gives off a completely different impression, that means that the person is still doing his best. The converse is true as well; that person probably worked so hard that he had no time to care about his appearance.」
「If people were to see my past appearance, they would think they got tricked or something, wouldn’t they?」
「I don’t understand why that would matter. Even if the external appearance has changed, the person within is still the same, so isn’t it fine? Also, those who would say such things are shallow people who only care about appearances and can’t see people for who they really are. You don’t have to take notice of them. Actually, isn’t it more charming to have had such a big change?」
Fumi made her stand resolutely. She gave off the feeling that if Miroku was treated badly, she would definitely step up to help him.
Back when they encountered the horrible salarymen, Miroku seemed unperturbed after saving her, but his hands were actually cold and trembling.
Miroku was not strong, and the 2 salaryman had said hurtful things; but even so, he called out to them to grab their attention and stood before them to protect Fumi.
「Fumi-chan, you’re amazing.」
「Miroku-san is the one who’s amazing.」
Miroku, whose fair skin was dyed by the slightest pink, cast his eyes down. What he looked like in the past did not matter to Fumi. She just wanted him, who was doing his utmost to live and be a good person, to be happy. She did not have a name for this feeling. But, it was not a bad feeling.
(I am after all…. his manager.)
(Author’s note: Thank you very much for reading.)