“So how did you get to know aniki?” Haruma asked as he and Ayanomi walked on their way home from the laundry shop.
“Ummm… he…” Ayanomi let her voice trail off trying to think of a right answer when suddenly someone spoke from behind.
“She’s actually a family friend, she came to visit me from Hokkaido.” Jinsuke answered for her instead.
Ayanomi have noticed that lately a lot of people have been catching her off guard from behind.
Jinsuke fell in step with the two of them and started talking about how his family and her family were pretty close with each other, he even threw in that Ayanomi and her parents wanted to experience life in Akihibara… as if it was something she had always wanted to do.
One thing that was very noticeable from this Jinsuke guy is that he was a very convincing liar.
“How long are you staying with us nee-chan?” Haruma asked her with a hopeful look in his eyes.
“I’m not sure.” Ayanomi said truthfully, because in reality she really had no idea how long she could run away without her family finding out where she was staying.
“Haruka wanted to see more of you nee-chan, could you keep her company while I go to night school for the mean time? Aniki usually looks after her at night, but he found a night job too.” Haruma said looking at me with hopeful eyes.
What do I know about baby-sitting? Zero.
This request made her want to shout the question at him, but opted to act cool and well… someone who knew what she was doing.
“Sure. Just send her over.” She said trying to mask her nervousness.
“Thank you nee-chan.” Haruma hugged her quickly looking very relieved.
She didn’t want to disappoint him, after all he was a good kid and he helped her a lot earlier.
When they arrived at the house Haruma waved his hand and went to his own home where his little sister would be waiting for him.
Jinsuke gazed at her with an odd look. Then when he walked into the house he threw in some more suspicious glances at where she stood.
“If you couldn’t trust me to stay here, you should just let me go. I’ll find another place to stay in. Haruma might even open his place for…” Ayanomi stopped talking when Jinsuke suddenly shook his head.
He softly flicked her forehead with his index finger and then smirked.
“Your thoughts are always far ahead from yourself. I was just thinking that you wouldn’t know how to take care of a kid. You don’t even know how to fold sheets…”
“How did you know that?!?” She cut him mid sentence, looking bewildered.
“The owner of the Laundromat said so.” He answered nonchalantly as he walked towards the bedroom.
Jinsuke checked if anything was missing. In Akihabara, you could never be careful of anything.
“You should keep your bag somewhere safe, you could store it here.” He motioned for her come inside the room as he removed a portion of the tatami mat at the corner of the room.
This amazed Ayanomi, she never thought that such a dingy place would have something like a secret storage. Back at home, it would have been a bolt in the cellar, but never under the floor.
“That’s the best place to keep it.” He said as he took the bag and shoved it in.
“Jin…” She started without realizing that she had given him a nickname already. There was just something about him that made her heart at ease whenever he was around.
“…how did you get here in Akihabara? And why are you helping someone like me.”
He was silent for a moment as he sat on the floor, not looking at her. Jinsuke seemed to stare out in space as if he was not there but instead in another place where his mind has taken him.
“Jin?” Ayanomi said slowly.
“It’s been a year. Yesterday it’s been a year that I have been staying in Akihabara. I’ve come from Tokyo, that’s where my… family was from. Then I went here, as for helping you out… you reminded me of myself when I first came in Akihabara, the only difference was… no was able to help me out back then.” He said in a voice almost inaudible.
Silence hung in the air as Ayanomi’s thoughts took her elsewhere too. It occurred to her that this man before her must have experienced a harsher life in Akihabara than she would have thought. In some ways, they were almost the same, ‘Almost’ but not entirely.
“So how are you going to take care of Haruka?” Jinsuke asked.
“She usually stays here the whole night and early in the morning, then Haruma would pick her up in the day to bring her to daycare school.”
This explains why the kid was already gone earlier when she came back from the public bath, which by the way irked her in every possible aspect. Never in her life have she experienced taking a bath in a public place like that.
“So you’re like a baby sitter in the evening too?” She asked, diverting her thoughts to the topic at hand.
“You could say that.” He said in a light tone.
“You let the Haruma pay you for it?”
“No. I wouldn’t let him, instead he makes me dinner and breakfast for both me and his sister. That’s payment enough for me.”
This made Ayanomi look at Jinsuke in another light, he looked gruff on the outside but he has a good heart after all. He seemed to like kids too, when she observed him early this morning.
“Do you know how to change diapers?” Jinsuke asked her all of a sudden.
“D-diapers? That girl still wear diapers?!?” She stuttered, unbelieving that a kid that size would still need diapers and besides she had no idea how to change diapers.
“No. I was just asking.” Jinsuke gave her a sly grin.
He was definitely making fun of her.
“All you have to do is help her with homework, since she is still a kid and then you would have to let her sleep before 10 so she would wake up early tomorrow. Don’t forget to let her pee before-hand so she wouldn’t pee in the evening, or in worse cases on the futon.” Jinsuke scratched his nose at the mention of peeing.
“You’ll only baby sit two days a week, so you don’t have to worry too much about it.” He added.
“I see…” It was all Ayanomi could say as she set her mind into baby-sitting that evening.
After an hour, when Ayanomi has arranged the room to her liking since Jinsuke decided that she should take the room in which she happily obliged, Jin would be sleeping on the receiving area starting that night.
There was a knock on the door and Jinsuke opted to answer it while Ayanomi looked out at the dark sky through the window, wondering as to how her parents were doing. They were old, she knew and she was the only heir of the family but she didn’t want to tie herself with someone she didn’t know.
Multi-millionaire my ass.
Ayanomi thought while she scowled by herself at the thought of marrying a millionaire she barely knew.
“Neechan!” Haruka greeted her in all smiles, there was a tooth missing at her lower gums, but this didn’t stop her from smiling brightly towards Ayanomi.
“Hello Haruka, how have you been?” She asked the kid as she knelt down to hug her.
“I learned my ABC’s today nee-chan! I even know some words in English!!!” Haruka said excitedly to her.
“That’s great, but I think we should see your brother off as he goes to school. Shall we?” She said to Haruka as the kid suddenly stood up and rushed towards her brother’s side to hug him before he left.
In truth, Ayanomi never had any siblings, so she doesn’t know the feeling between sisterly and brotherly love at all. She grew up spoiled, treated as a princess and never once had to give up anything for anyone until the day she was told she had to sacrifice her sanity by marrying someone she never knew. There was one person whose sibling she had always coveted. It was the sister of the man she loves or LOVED rather, with the past tense.
If only Tomo would have fought for her… if he just didn’t give up that easily. Then she would have at least a reason to stay and fight her way towards the end, she would have even run away in his arms only… if he could have taken her with him.
That man was a coward, he would rather stand by his company’s name than be with her. Her family was one of the biggest assets in his own company, they have indeed threaten to withdraw their shares if he didn’t let her go.
Pain seared through Ayanomi’s heart as she looked at the affectionate actions that was being showed in front of her. Thinking of Tomo’s little sister which led to her memories of him was too much. She ducked inside the room to avoid this display of affection and calm herself. Jinsuke has noticed this and followed her suit, but did not enter the room.
“Are you okay?” He asked looking concerned.
“Yes.” She answered her voice tight.
“Will you be alright tonight?”
“I think I can manage.” Ayanomi said with a half-hearted confidence in it.