Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you’re all enjoying those wonderful plans you made with family and friends (and that you don’t actually read this until the 27th or later. Like seriously, have fun, go shopping on Boxing Day and don’t check emails until after. Don’t be like me, stuck at home, translating) On the odd (?) chance you’re actually reading this on Christmas Day (or what is left of it), I hope you’re having an awesome day whether it is with your 2D sweethearts or with actual people. Eat all the food! Open all the presents!! Take the time to relax!!
As a little something to all my dear readers out there for Christmas, I present you with translations of Otomate’s 2014 Christmas Short Stories!! Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with a few of the works there so I’ll only be translating the ones I know well.
Otomate released short stories and wallpaper art for Trigger Kiss, BinaryStar, RE:VICE[D]. MARGINAL#4. Code: Realize and Shinobi Koi Utsutsu. They released a wallpaper art for Hakuouki SSL and a short story for Amnesia World. Here’s the link if any of you want to look at the site, get the wallpapers or read the SS. Not sure how long this link will stay active so be quick!
It took longer than I thought it would to get out. I was totally aiming for midnight on Christmas but haha, it was completely impossible. So think of it as a present given on Christmas which you unbox on Boxing Day? ;3c I’m just making excuses now.
That’s enough rambling from me. Click any of the titles below to jump to the story or just scroll!!
♥ MERRY CHRISTMAS ♥
Tomorrow is an important day to this country. It is Cloud’s National Foundation Day. It is custom to celebrate as the date changes over to the 25th. Most people celebrate it in a Christmas style as well. And so, even the Tenshi who work day and night did not go against tradition.
~Akatsuki Tenshi Tower (Kitchen)~
“Nachi, I’ve finished plating the salad. What’s next?”
“Oh, then you see the food in the pot over there-”
“Taste and plate it right?”
“*Sniffs*… I’m so glad you’re here to help me, Fuu-chan…”
“Haha, I’m glad you think so.”
Since a few days ago, Nachi had been preparing for this day. I wish we could have helped with the preparation but we’ve been getting a string of difficult missions lately and couldn’t make time to… We were lucky work was easier today so once we finished work, everyone helped Nachi.
Yun and Mict were in the dining room, in charge of decorations. Tchicai was in charge of decorating the cake. Rayla was in charge of making sure no one went off on a tangent. Nana-san and Jiro-san had something important to do so they had gone out.
(I hope the come back before midnight…)
As for me, I used my skills in cooking and assisted Nachi.
“Fufufu…I’ve finally cornered you…Prepare!”
Nachi was grappling with the turkey for tomorrow night’s main dish. (Currently preparing)
Suddenly, I heard a scream from the dining.
…That was definitely Yun’s voice just then.
(Yun’s screams are part of everyday life so I guess we don’t have to worry about it. Rayla is there supervising anyway.)
“If you won’t obey, I’ll just make you sleep with this…”
And…that was Rayla. From his tone, I could feel a dangerous aura. I was in the middle of plating a dish but decided I should take a look.
“Nachi, I’m going to take a look in the dining…”
“Hmph… Defeating the likes of you is no trouble at all.”
I left Nachi who was so focused on the turkey his speech…or rather his aura changed, and headed for the dining.
It is currently 23:00. 60 minutes until midnight.
“If you two can’t talk it out, I have no choice…!”
“Huh? No, wait! Stop, please, Mict! You too Rayla. Okay? Here, I’ll give you a dove ornament so please?”
“Horrible sense and it’s disgusting. I can’t believe you.”
I was shocked seeing Rayla and Mict holding their weapons ready, with only a table between them. As for Yun, he was curled up under the table.
“What are you doing?!”
Everyone except Tchicai turned to me.
“Ah, F-Fuu-chan…umm…this is…”
Mict’s expression quickly changed from the one he wears on missions to his usual. Rayla was the same but lowered his weapon.
“I don’t know what happened but bringing out your weapons is taking it too far.”
“He won’t die so it doesn’t matter?”
“It does! To point your needles at a comrade, how mean! Inhumane! Ice Man!”
Yun, who had poked his head out a little, drew back under the table when Rayla brought his needles up again.
“Anyhow, Rayla, Mict, put your weapons away.”
After they reluctantly did as I said, they explained how this all happened.
“I was about to put something on the tree then Rayla suddenly pulled out his needles.”
Rayla pointed to that “something” with a shaky finger to answer my question. There decorating the tree were candy canes. Candy in the shape of a walking stick.
“If I eat it I faint, feel like vomiting just from the smell, feel horrible just seeing it.”
“Ah, I see…it’s because it’s sweet right?”
“I-in that case, you should have just told us from the start…”
“Hmm… A few syllables over but it was a good haiku, Rayla-kun”
“Yun, be serious.”
After I warned him, he opened his eyes wide and crawled out from under the table quickly but…
Misestimating where to get up, Yun hit his head on the table, hard. Right after that, Tchicai, who had been concentrated on decorating the cake, let out a shout.
Tiny cakes lay scattered tragically on the table.
“J-Just one more… I just had to put Jiro-tefu on top and it would have been complete~!! Uwwaaaaahhhh!! Someone shook the table so all the candies I piled up fell~! Uwaaaaaahhhnnn!!!”
Tchicai wailed like a child and everyone stared sharply at Yun.
“M-My fault?! It’s my fault. Right. Sorry, Tchicai-chan”
Yun prostrated himself and things calmed down but we were forbidden from going near the table. And so the four of us moved to the tree but…
“Ugh…this distance…my limits…”
Rayla paled at the sight of the candy cane.
(Since we know why, we should…)
“All right, let’s take them off!”
“Um, can we take them off…?”
Yun and Mict spoke up at the same time and then looked at each other.
“Ah~ah. I wanted play the role of a considerate handsome guy in front of Fuu-chan~”
“Ufufu… Yun-kun you liar.”
“W-What? Oi you mumbling brat oi! I’m not liar! I-It’s not for Rayla’s sake or anything!”
“Woah…you as a tsundere is disgusting.”
“Like you should be saying anything, Mict!”
Ignoring the bantering duo, I smiled at Rayla. His pale face suddenly turned red.
“…What? Can you not stare at me?”
“Ah, sorry. Well, I’ll be going back to the kitchen.”
When I left, I thought I heard a quiet “thank you”.
52 minutes until midnight.
Once I was back in the kitchen, I finished plating the dish I was half way through and started on the final dish. When I lifted the lid off the boiling pot, I was greeted with steam and a delicious smell.
“Mm~ It smells great…”
I turned around to the voice and there stood Jiro-san, leaning over the counter and sniffing.
“Jiro-san! You’re back.”
“Yup! Sorry for being late. By the way, is that…beef stew?!”
“Haha, yes it is.”
“Oh yeah! My nose is the best in the word!”
(I’m not too sure about the nose but I’m glad he made it back before midnight.)
I took my attention off Jiro and glanced at the entrance.
(What about Nana-san…)
“Idzuki’s said he’ll drop by his room before coming here.”
I was embarrassed at how he’d read my mind.
“We’re about to start so please wait in the dining room.”
After seeing Jiro-san leave, I tasted the beef stew in the small dish.
“Wow, it’s really good.”
It was better than I’d thought.
(As expected of Nachi. I’ll ask him for the recipe later.)
Just as when I was thinking of making it for Rina when I go home…
“You have some here.”
Before I looked up, someone’s finger touched the corner of my mouth. And right next to me was the person I was waiting for, Nana-san. He lifted the finger that had touched me to his mouth and smiled.
“It does taste delicious.”
I was surprised at Nana-san’s action and didn’t know how to react. I felt my cheeks heat up and I panicked even more. Then finally understanding my state, it was his turn to turn red.
“Ah, w-wait, t-that…I just…wiped the beef stew off for you… L-like how you would for a kid.”
Just as it was getting awkward, the master of the kitchen appeared.
“Ah, Nana-san! You’re back~! The table and food are ready so please take a seat!”
“O-Okay… Thanks for preparing everything.”
Nana-san placed his hand on my head, left a shaking “sorry about that” and headed for the dining.
“Umm~… Did I interrupt something?”
“N-no, you didn’t!”
Nachi looked at me like he didn’t believe me and I was stuck for words.
“Um… T-That aside, the stew was really delicious! Can you teach me the recipe later?”
I changed the topic, unable to stand his stare but…
“Ahaha, Fuu-chan, you’re so easy to read~”
“Ugh… please don’t…”
“It’s okay. I won’t dig any deeper.”
Nachi said that with a smile but it looked somewhat sad at the same time.
(Am I over thinking?)
After Nachi left the kitchen, Nana-san’s words replayed in my mind.
(What did he mean by “sorry about that”?)
45 minutes until midnight.
“I’m done ♪”
At Tchicai’s cheer, everyone let out the breath in relief. Why? Because we were all waiting for the cake to be decorated. Everyone had been holding their breaths from five minutes ago, and watched as Tchicai places sweet after sweet onto the cake.
(I wonder whose tefu-tefu that is on top of that cake…)
“*Sigh* We can finally make a toast.”
Nana-san let out a tired laugh and stood up. Everyone followed suit and had their glass in hand.
“It’s still before midnight but let’s make a toast. Um…”
As Nana-san tried to find his words, unsure of what to toast to, Yun raised his hand energetically.
“Oh, oh, oh! Let me do it Nana-san! I’m good at these things.”
“Yes, that’s true. Then it’s all yours.”
Yun cleared his throat purposefully and smiled widely.
“A toast to being happy we can spend this day together… Merry Christmas Eve!!! Cheers!”
Glasses all clinked after Yun’s cheer.
(I’m glad we got everyone together before midnight.)
Rayla, who was next to me, tipped his glass slightly.
“Ah, cheers… Hm?”
I noticed something red and round in Rayla’s glass.
“Is that… a cherry tomato?”
(So he loves vegetables so much he’d put a cherry tomato into champagne.)
But my reasoning was wrong. Rayla spoke quietly as he stared at the tomato.
“The Christmases I’ve had…never had cake. But there’s just one thing I had which is here right now…”
He lifted his head and held his glass up.
“This champagne. I was a kid back then so it was chanmery and the glass wasn’t this clear. I filled the cup I had at home with chanmery and put something red in it.”
(That’s why the cherry tomato…)
“Why did you put something red in?”
“Red is a Christmas colour right?”
I could feel a soft aura from Rayla who smiled nostalgically.
“One of the few memories I have of my time with my parents.”
“Ah, I’m not saying I miss it. It’s like it was the first time I felt what it was like to be family… That it left a deep impression on me or something…”
I couldn’t see a hint of disappointment in Rayla. He may have not known anything of parental love but something might be there from the times he had with his parents. Maybe he’d wanted to celebrate Christmas like that ever since they died.
(It’s like a custom of sorts to Rayla.)
I felt I touched on something dear to him.
“…Rayla, why don’t we put it everyone’s glass too?”
“There are other red foods other than cherry tomatoes anyway… How about it?”
“…Do what you want.”
Rayla put his glass onto the table, his ears red. That phrase that sounded so cold was his way of hiding his embarrassment. I made up an excuse and place something red into everyone’s glasses. I hope Rayla’s custom becomes a custom for everyone in this tower. I hope this place will become home to Rayla.
38 minutes until midnight.
Wanting to thank Nachi doing preparations until late in the past few days for this feast, I took on the role of serving everyone. I wanted him to get to sit and relax with everyone for today at least.
As I was taking trips between the kitchen and dining, I suddenly felt something that made me shiver. I stopped and turned around to look and there was Yun, under the tree drooling and smiling.
(I…should leave him alone…)
He noticed me.
I couldn’t make myself ask him what he was doing because I had a bad feeling about it. But I didn’t have any idea of another topic…
“What are you doing there?”
When I asked the question I had on my mind, Yun hid something red that he was holding, behind his back.
“That’s for you to find out later! When we exchange presents!”
“Huh? You haven’t finished wrapping?!”
Rewinding back to one month ago…
When you say Christmas it means presents. And so Yun proposed that we all put our presents under the Christmas tree. When the clock ticks over to midnight, we all open it. An event distinctively Christmas. Only Rayla disagreed so it was approved and everyone prepared their presents.
Which is why there was a pile of presents under the tree.
“There’s still some time before midnight so it’s fine. Fufufu… Look forward to it!”
I left him there and actually headed for the kitchen this time. With his taste in things, I could only imagine a hopeless future. After seeing that I kept wondering what that red thing was while I washed the dishes.
“I’m here, Fuu-chan!”
“Huh? Yun, what’s wrong?”
“I finished wrapping the presents so I thought to help you. At least that’s what I want to do but I’ve never done housework so I might not be of much help.”
Yun fools around a lot but he was always aware of everything around him.
My heart warmed at his thoughts.
“All right! Leave it to me Fuu-chan! This dishwashing, I, Kamiya Yun shall take over it!”
“I’m almost done so it’s okay. Just stay here.”
“It’s only me here so it gets lonely. So I’d be happy if you’d stay here with me.”
“Ah…o-of course! …I’ll always be with you.”
I didn’t miss those last words but I pretended I did. I might have been a little scared of asking him what they meant.
32 minutes until midnight.
Taking a break from serving, I looked up at the tree. I never had the chance to take a good look at the decoration because of the preparation I was doing.
I remembered the disagreement over the candy canes. When we live together every day, there were bound to be conflict. The ones today were ones that happened every day. But enjoying them is probably a sign we are living every day to its fullest.
While I lost myself in my thoughts, someone pulled lightly on my sleeve.
“Um…about…before…I’m sorry we caused a fuss.”
I couldn’t help by smile when Mict lowered his head dejected.
“Are you talking about the candy cane incident?
“Y-yes. I wanted to apologise for that but…I…couldn’t find the chance… I’m sorry we interrupted you… Really sorry.”
“I didn’t really mind. In fact I was just thinking about how fun it was.”
When I saw Mict tilt his head, I realised I’d worded it in a ways that could be misunderstood.
“Sorry, I don’t mean that I wanted to fight. How should I say this…? Just being together with everyone is fun…?”
As I was finding my words, Mict smiled.
“I understand. Somehow but…we feel like…family.”
He turned his line of sight to the tree.
“When I first came here… I felt the need to be calm and do my job and also uncertainty of what to do if I fail… I couldn’t control myself at all but…”
Mict took hold one of the doll hanging from the tree.
I hadn’t noticed but if I looked closely, the doll looked like me. Around it were many Tenshi. Yun, Rayla, Nana-san, Nachi, Jiro-san and Mict.
“I offered to decorate the tree because I wanted to make these. This… is the form of another family of mine.”
Mict looks straight ahead adoringly and at the end of that line of sight were us Tenshi.
“It’s thanks to everyone being here that I was able to save Nii-san… and Mine. It’s thanks to everyone I could stay strong.”
Mict hugged my doll and smiled warmly.
“But I think Fuu-chan’s existence is…the greatest of them all…”
He looked at me with heavy eyes and I was unsure of what to do. Mict realised what he was doing and quickly put the doll back onto the tree.
“Ah, t-that…I mean… Don’t worry about it!”
After saying that, he left in a flurry.
“You say don’t worry but…”
Left alone, I stared at a particular Tenshi hanging from the tree.
“Greatest of them all, huh…”
20 minutes until midnight.
It was almost time to cut the cake so I helped Nachi in the kitchen.
“…This will crumble no matter how we cut it right?”
We stared, at the mountain of decoration of the cake Tchicai decorated with everything he had, at a loss…
“Hmmm…then let’s break it?”
I suggested to Nachi thinking there is no other way but…
“What on earth are you suggesting?!”
(Nachi’s expressions seemed to be changing a lot today. Didn’t I think the same thing when he was dealing with the turkey?)
“I-I mean, since Tchicai decorated it for us, I just thought it’s such a waste. Don’t you think?!”
“Y-yeah, it is!”
I was scared he’d start speaking like he did just then so I played along.
(But the real problem here, if only we could harden it with something…)
Just as I was thinking that, a cheerful voice spoke up from behind.
“Hey hey, is it ready? My Sweets Mountain Cake?”
Tchicai who decorated and even christened the cake came in between Nachi and me and put his arms around our shoulders. If it was before, I would have been shocked at the proximity but I was used to it now. This is how Tchicai is.
“Sweets Mountain Cake huh. What a perfect name for it.”
“Right? Right? I thought of it while I was decorating it! I want to eat it soon! Hey, Nacchin, hurry up and cut it~”
Nachi was sweating a lot when I glanced at him.
(Someone has to make Tchicai see the reality…)
“It’s okay, I’ll make it possible!”
“It’s impossible! No matter what you do this mountain of sweets will-”
What stopped our heated discussion were Tchicai’s unexpected words.
“Hey, hurry up and break it and cut it~”
Our voices and expression synchronised as if we had rehearsed for it.
“Ooh~ You’re in synch! Kyahaha! Was that a party trick or something??”
“T-Tchicai-san, what did you mean…”
“Hm? Party trick?”
“No, I meant the one about breaking…”
“It means exactly that~ If you don’t break that mountain of sweets then you can’t cut the cake right? And it’ll break even if you cut it like it is now.”
You didn’t even have to ask if Nachi and I sighed at the grinning Tchicai. After that we were able to cut the Sweets Mountain Cake.
“Then I’ll take it to the dining.”
I looked at Tchicai and saw him holding the fork waiting for his piece.
“Thanks for decorating the cake, Tchicai.”
I gave him the extra-large piece of cake I had cut for him.
“Yay! Thank you!”
He accepted the cake with a grin and I thought he’d leave but…
“Ah, I found someone that looks yummy~”
He took my hand and licked my index finger.
“The cream…tastes good!”
(This…is to be expected of Tchicai but…!)
“I-if you’re going to lick then at least warn me!”
I took my hand back and stepped away from Tchicai. Though I was panicked, I regretted my stupid exclamation.”
“T-that was too much. That kind of stuff is… It’s not what friends do…”
“Hm… Then is it okay if we’re not friends?”
“Yes, if we were close… lovers or something.”
“It’s not okay if it’s unrequited love?”
Tchicai took a step closer to me.
“Or will you fall in love with me?”
With a second step, he was right in front of me. Tchicai’s index finger stopped right before my lips. His unique scent filled the air and I was too nervous to say anything.
“This distance…is painful.”
Just as I thought I had to say something, Nachi came back into the kitchen with an empty tray. He saw us and quickly tried to head back to the dining but…
Tchicai called his name and Nachi came back awkwardly into the kitchen.
“Kyahaha, Nacchin saw us~ How embarrassing~”
(Am I the only one who thinks he doesn’t look embarrassed?)
After that, Tchicai took his own piece of cake and disappeared into the dining. Left behind were me, Nachi and a very awkward atmosphere.
(If Nachi hadn’t come then…)
10 minutes until midnight.
25th December (Midnight)
Nana-san gave the sign with his eyes and lifted his glass again.
“Protecting the peace of Cloud is a Tenshi’s role. Let us make a toast to celebrate the National Foundation Day, and swear to protect this country as Tenshi. Cheers!”
The clinking of glass echoed through the dining. It was the sound of happiness. To us in this tower, I thought sounded more like the sound of joy than that of Christmas bells because it was a proof that everyone was here.
(I want to celebrate this day again with everyone next year too.)
“Well then, let’s open the presents!!”
Yun wasn’t the only one excited like a child.
“W-Which do we open first?!”
Mict was on standby under tree already.
“Kyaa! Do all of them have candy in it?!”
“Tchicai-san, don’t climb onto the table!”
“If there’s something sweet in it, I’ll stab you with a fork…”
“Rayla, that’s a knife. Put it down now.”
Everyone was enjoying themselves in their own way. Only Jiro-san was looking on at this with a smile.
“Jiro-san, you’re not going to join in?”
“Oi, oi. It’d be a problem if a 53 year old geezer shouts “kyaa, I’m so excited” right?”
(But if it’s Jiro-san then it might not be weird. He always joins in anyway.)
“Which one is your present, Fuu?”
“Mine’s the one in the light pink wrapping.”
Jiro-san sat up a little and took a look.
“Hm… Oh that. It looks smaller than all the other packages. Is that for everyone? There’s 7 people in all though.”
“Don’t worry. I made sure there are seven cases inside.”
Just then, we heard a strange voice coming from the tree.
“Kyaaaaa!!! Ahahahahahahaha!!! Too cute!!!!”
“Uwaa… Mict’s sounding like a pervert again.”
I couldn’t see what they got but I could tell Mict was extremely excited.
“Uwa, don’t need this.”
“Rei-chan, how mean! It’s really cute and useable too!!!”
Presents were opened one after another. The life-sized tefu-tefu cushion was from Tchicai. Jiro-san doesn’t have his own tefu-tefu but Tchicai designed one for him and the “Jiro-tefu” was born. I realised that was what was on the top of the Sweets Mountain Cake.
From Yun was a Santa suit. The design was normal and actually quite well received. Yun suggested we all wore this for Christmas next year but… For some reason my suit was a dress that showed a lot of skin so Nana-san rejected it.
Mict’s present was the dolls hung on the Christmas tree. We decided to hang it up every year. I hope the feelings Mict told me about reached everyone.
From Rayla was a mug cup with everyone’s own star sign on it. We all knew Rayla loved stars and everyone loved the Rayla-like gift. I’m looking forward to drinking from this cup from tomorrow.
As for Nachi… We all decided that cooking this feast was our present from Nachi. It was what we decided from the start. It’s thanks to Nachi we can all eat with a smile on our face.
Then from Nana-san and Jiro-san…
“Our presents to you aren’t there. We actually just finished preparing them.”
Nana-san took out five cards and placed it on the table. Each colourful card had a name on it. Yun, Rayla, Mict, Mict, Tchicai.
(Why does Mict have two cards…? And Nachi and my name aren’t there.)
“It was hard work because we couldn’t do it without the approval of Tenjou.
“Nachi, this is yours.”
Nachi accepted the card from Nana-san separately and was surprised as well.
“To think it’s from Father…”
He spoke so softly I couldn’t hear him properly but I knew he was happy. I could tell everyone else was just as happy as Nachi was. I was left confused in the middle of that but Nana-san whispered to me quietly.
“I’ll give you yours later.”
I was even more confused.
“Ah, you haven’t opened your presents from Fuu!”
My present was still left there under the tree.
“Ah, we were saving it! Saving the best to last.”
After putting his card away, Yun took my present and placed it on the table.
“It’s a present filled with love from our princess so it’s fit to save it for last right?”
“It’s really nothing to be so excited about…”
“Aw, you don’t have to be so humble~”
Everyone focused on the present. When Yun opened it, there were seven packages.
“Each one has a name on it so you’ll know whose is whose…”
“Ah, this one’s mine~! Yaay, I’m so excited!”
“…This thickness and size…Wouldn’t it be a book?”
Rayla smirked and looked at Nana-san.
“S-So what if it’s a book?”
“B-But…isn’t it light for a book?”
“You’re right. Well who cares? Let’s open it.”
At Jiro’s command, everyone opened the package in excitement and looked inside.
Yun’s scream rung through the entire tower.
(I knew this would happen but… Yun’s one is okay!)
“Yun, don’t worry. This one is horror movie filled with comedy. It’s more funny so you’ll be laughing instead.”
My words didn’t reach him and Yun fainted with the whites of his eyes showing.
“I’m relieved it’s not a book but…”
“SF Horror movie huh. What did you get Nana?”
“Death Book. In the end it has something to do with books…”
“I chose something that I thought would suit each of you…”
“T-The b-bear is…holding a kitchen knife…”
“Mikkun, you got something cute~ Mine’s KASHI! What about yours, Nacchin?”
As everyone was scrutinising the movie they got, Jiro-san’s expression changed and grabbed me by the shoulder.
“Oi, Fuu! What do you mean Old Geezer Detective?!”
“Ah, umm… Well in some countries there are people called the police and-”
“That’s not what I meant! Do you see me as an old geezer?!”
“Hahaha, what else are you but an old geezer, Jiro-san?”
While Jiro-san and Nana-san were bantering, I rushed over to Yun who had collapsed. He was conscious but was quietly crying with his face in his hands.
“Yun, are you okay?”
“This is… too cruel… I was looking forward to this for a month…”
I didn’t think he’d get this depressed.
(What should I do…?)
“Um…then do you want to exchange it for something else?”
At that moment, Yun sat up energetically and hugged me.
“Please exchange it for you, Fuu-chan!!!”
Immediately after, Yun was attacked by everyone but he didn’t let me go at all. And this is how we ended our first holiday celebration.
After I helped Nachi clean up, I headed for Nana-san’s room. He mentioned he had something to give me after the party…
(Maybe it’s the cards he mentioned.)
I pressed the interphone and Nana-san opened the door immediately. He let me in and handed me four cards.
“They’re from Kiri, Michiru, Sact and Mine. You know what Yun and the others got right?”
“Oh so that’s what it was.”
(A card from Kiri for Yun, Michiru for Rayla, Mict’s two cards were from Sact and Mine.)
“Huh but what about Tchicai…?”
“It was from his mother. I made them go through painful experiences…”
(There’s no such thing as who got the best present.)
Even as I thought that, the feelings in Nana-san and Jiro-san’s presents took hold of my heart.
“Thank you very much.”
“I didn’t do anything worth thanking. I’ve done many other things to you which I can never apologise enough for after all.”
I couldn’t find my next words. I didn’t know what I could say to heal Nana-san or Jiro-san’s wounds…
“I forgot to tell you, keep it a secret that you got four cards.”
“Because Yun and the others will get jealous.”
Seeing Nana-san smile mischievously, I couldn’t help but follow suit.
(…One day, I want to find a way to heal Nana-san and Jiro-san. I don’t like how they’re always so considerate.)
“A-and also this…”
Nana-san held out another card stiffly to me. Wanting to check the recipient’s name, I tried to open it but…
“N-n-n-no! Don’t open it here!”
“Huh? Ah, o-okay!”
(I wonder who it’s from…)
When I opened the door to my room, several cards were scattered on the floor. When I picked them up, I saw they were Christmas cards.
(Did they slide it in through the gap under my door? These cards wouldn’t make it in unless you put a lot of force into it though…)
What surprised me was that the card that made it the farthest, past the hallway and stopped in front of my bed, was Yun’s.
“Yun…just how did you do it…?”
I put his bottomless weird skills aside and started read the cards. There were many feelings within the cards…and I couldn’t fall asleep until the morning.
If you had heard what I said in the kitchen, then I want to take it back. Those words do you no good. What I wanted to say was…please let me stay beside you forever. I would be happy if you wish for me to.
I just wanted to make sure…that you understand why I told you about my family, right? …You didn’t look like you did so I’ll tell you. I told you because I wanted to share the things I have felt with you. I intend to keep doing so, so be prepared for it.
Merry Christmas, Fuu-chan. I wrote you this card because I wanted to tell you something… What I said by the tree were my feelings from the bottom of my heart. I actually want you to care. I want to become the dearest existence you hold…
I do not need a reply now. I will confess properly next time so please wait.
Today was heaps of fun, wasn’t it? I wanted to spend more time with you though. You know, I’m going to do my best so you’ll fall in love with me. I hope I’ll dream of you tonight. I hope you also dream of me too!
Good night, sweet dreams.
About…what happened in the kitchen today… I want you to forget about it. I don’t see you as a child and I want to be your equal. I want to face you and build our relationship.
I don’t know how to say this but… I want to get along with you not as a colleague at work but also in your private life. I just wanted to let you know.
I’ll see you tomorrow.
Thank you for helping out today! Thanks to you, I was able to have a great Christmas! But if I were to be a little selfish…then I wish I could have talked with you more. How would you like have some tea together, just the two of us, one day? I would like to get to know more about you.
Well then, good night~!
Dear Miss Sorano Fuu,
I am sure you are surprised I would send you something of this sort. I wanted to express my gratitude no matter what. I was able to experience happiness thanks to meeting you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I would like to stay acquainted with you from here one. Is that okay? I will wait until you say it is.
Dear Indigo Pudding Princess,
Merry Christmas!! Did you have a great night with the other Tenshi? I’d be happy if you thought about me even just a little. I can’t wait until I can see you again. If possible… I’d like to see you alone. Just kidding.
See you soon!
Dear Sorano Fuu,
It is the night of Christmas and so I have decided to send you a card. I have one thing to ask of you. I have ample time on my hands and wish for you exchange letters with you, if you would do so in your spare time…
I would like something that belongs to just the two of us. If you would grant my wish, please write to me.
I await your reply.
Are you doing well? I’m not. Well more like I’m doing really badly. Because you never come to see me. Do I not matter to you anymore?
You’re such a sinful woman, the worst. Idiot.
Hurry up and visit me.
『On A Holy Night』
The cold wintry wind blows through erasing the lingering scent of autumn. It is the season which forces people on the streets into wearing thick clothes. The year’s end, December. Around Atsugi Station, which has completely welcomed winter, was now wrapped in the Christmas mood.
For example, shops were playing traditional Christmas songs from their speakers.
For example, the Christmas sale banner fluttered proudly from the station building.
For example, the trees outside the station were decorated with lights and ornaments however they pleased.
However…In the midst of the bright, shiny illuminations which catch everyone’s eyes, there was one shadow who continued to walk without fault.A girl in the Atsugi Prefectural Comprehensive High School uniform, in other words, one of the Four High Demons of the Netherworld, Eternal Ice Jade, Aika, didn’t even try to hide her puzzled expression, tilted her head and whispered.”Christmas? What is that…?”
“And so I’m telling you! Aika doesn’t really know about Christmas!”
“…Well I don’t imagine that Netherworlds place she comes from has Santa or Christmas.”
“No, no, you don’t know about that Iroha. They might have a Netherworld Santa or something.”
“Netherworld Reindeers…carnivorous and ferocious…breathe fire and run at 100km per hour…”
“That vagabond and hermit over there, stop it. It’d be a bother if those actually exist so stop adding other variables.”
Thanks to the hobby of the owner of the room, the dim room was surrounded by books and from within it, four voices each having their own way could be heard. No one knew since when, Hinatsu’s house had been turned into the meeting place for the Demon Lord candidates. Today, Yukine and Iroha, Ryouga and Hinatsu, the four candidates gathered.
“But Ryouga, even if Aika’s from the Netherworld and unfamiliar with our common knowledge, she’s already lived here for a few months.”
“Recently the streets have been in Christmas festivities to point of irritation. There’s no way she doesn’t know about Christmas.”
“Yeah…that’s what I thought so I asked her just in case. But it didn’t look like it clicked with her…”
“He appears by your bed after invading through the chimney at night? In other words, he’s a type of assassin, yes?”
“Is what she replied…”
If she was a normal heroine, she’d be saying “there’s such a lovely event like that…?” eyes sparkling and think about the holy night like a maiden. However, in reality she had said something which would anger the Santa Claus Association. Needless to say, everyone there looked at each other with half-hearted expressions.
“It’s…an Aika-like response…”
“But if only her response was a little more… girly…?”
“Impossible. What are you guys expecting of that woman?”
Cutting them off with one line, Iroha shrugged and looked at Ryouga again.
“So? What’s the meaning of telling us this?”
“It’s obvious! We’re all going to teach Aika what a real Christmas is!”
“In other words…a recital of Andersen’s The Little Match Girl.”
“Yeah, Hina-chan? You don’t have to include such a sad image to Christmas, okay?”
“So how about a surprise party? Where we cosplaying Santa or reindeers?”
“No way. That petty idea is surprise enough. Shocking.”
“Oh? Iroha, don’t you want to see Aika in a Santa mini skirt?”
“What are you talking about? No one said anything about a mini skirt!”
Holding a party, decorating a tree, preparing a cake… Several things to make Aika happy were suggested. It was mostly Yukine and Ryouga but… Though Iroha was there out of duty, in the end he was interested.
Hinatsu who had been looking on pleasantly and sipping his warm tea, raised his hand.”
“I…also have an idea… Christmas means Santa so…”
A few days after that meeting, 24th December, it was finally Christmas Eve.
Today, the entire world was festive. Families gathered around a Christmas cake, lovers arms around each other sharing an intimate time, a Holy Night where good boys and girls waiting excitedly for Santa, yet…
“Okay, we’ll end the Four High Demon meeting here today!”
“We’ve narrowed it down to who is the closest to be being the Demon Lord. Hinatsu is out of the question for the time being.”
“Don’t take him off the list just ‘for the time being'”!
The Four High Demons who came to search for the next Demon Lord were busy with the Selection today as well. Well, events in the Human World had nothing to do with then so you could say it was natural.
There was one who was an exception. The only female High Demon, Aika, sat at the kotatsu and stared at the ‘Christmas Special’ in the free newspaper.
“Akatsuki, Suiu. I have a question.”
“Hm? What is it? Advice about love?”
“Let’s see… If you wish to be popular with the opposite gender, I think you should change that personality, the look in your eyes, attitude and personality.”
“Ore-sama has the exact same opinion but aren’t those all the same thing?”
“Be quite. Actually, shut up.”
Honestly, each and every one of them…perhaps she should put them all in ice and slowly break them to pieces. Aika glared coldly at her associates before sighing.
“It is nothing petty as that. It is a simple question. What exactly is Christmas…?”
“Huh? The hell, you don’t even know that?”
“Aah, I wasn’t actually asking you Shinku.”
“Are you saying a homeless demon whose information network consists mostly of children from the park and pigeons is well-informed of events in the human world?”
“Don’t shit with me! Ore-sama knows what Christmas is at the very least!”
“Oh? What is it then?”
To think what she got was not a sentence but the name of a dish… As expected of the Chief of a clan who are known for having brains made up of muscles. The really are different. After looking at Shinku in pity, Aika turned to face the other two.
“Akatsuki, Suiu, please ignore that useless one and answer my question.”
“An answer huh… Well to put it simply, Christmas is a type of festival.”
“It seems good children receive presents from this ‘Santa Claus’. It is definitely something that has nothing to do with us.”
“Yeah yeah, Sun Tucker Roast! But I prefer entrails more than a roast…”
Ignoring the one demon who acted like he knew everything, Aika’s expression seemed fall in disappointment after hearing about the presents. Disregarding that, Akatsuki clapped and ended the meeting.
“Okay, so let’s leave it here today.”
“Then, Ore-sama will be going on a trip for cakes still left for sale!”
“I’ll be returning to the shop. Hosts are busiest at this time of year.”
After seeing the three of them off, Aika’s house suddenly seemed a lot larger. Aika sighed lightly and looked at the free newspaper again.
“Presents from Santa for good kids…”
On the front was a cute illustration of a dancing Santa and snowman and Christmas Fair written in colourful words. Aika whispered as she flipped through the paper which was filled with a year’s worth of happiness.
“Indeed, it has nothing to do with me.”
The hands on the clock continue to tick and it is finally late at night on 24th December. Just as the moon started shining brightly in the sky…
(A sturdy door that stops them from going forward…several traps…a formidable enemy in their way… They passed all of those and finally, finally have made it here…!)
The soft click of the door knob turning sounds through Aika’s room where you could hear her shallow breathing. A suspicious group of four entered the dim room lit by the shine of the moon.
(Don’t over exaggerate the story, host failure and daydreaming hermit!)
(By formidable enemy…is it this?)
(Sorry, Mike. Can’t have you making a ruckus so we’ll have to tie you up until we’re done.)
Holding a tied up Mike, Yukine look at everyone else again. Yukine and Ryouga were wearing a fleece character costume with a headband with antlers. Iroha who wasn’t even trying to hide his sour look was in a red suit with white fur in certain places. In other words, they were in reindeer and Santa costumes.
(Well, in terms of obstacles that spoilt prince who chucked a tantrum going “no way in hell I’m not wearing a reindeer costume!” was probably our biggest obstacle.)
(Who’s a spoilt prince?!)
(Other than that, it went pretty smoothly. For some reason Yukine had the key…)
(Ahh, this key? I said I wanted to give Aika a present and Kuroda lent it over happily.)
(…I wanted to…come through the chimney…)
By the way, Hinatsu who said that was in the Santa bag Iroha was carrying on his shoulder, with his head poking out. Apparently the temperature on a December night was too cold for a hermit.
(Okay, let’s leave the present…)
They looked at the bed in the corner of the room as Ryouga spoke. The only to be heard from there was a soft steady breathing of a sleeper. Her smooth hair spread around her and the tip of her white foot was poking out of the blanket.
(…Don’t think of anything unnecessary, leave the present and go.)
(What do you mean by…anything unnecessary?)
(Hina-chan, no! Don’t ask that! Well, to put is simply it’s just Iroha in puberty- Ow ow ow!!)
(Santa’s…abusing his reindeer…Cruelty to Animal act is in danger…)
Ryouga must have hit the bullseye. After poking Ryouga hard repeatedly, Iroha sighed. But at that moment, the most problematic one made his move.
(Ah, hey guys look! Aika’s sleeping expression is really cute! Her cheeks are so squishy and soft.)
(Yuki-kun, what are you doing?!)
(Hm? I’m just playing with her cheeks. Aah, she really is sleeping well. Even if I kiss her on her cheeks, she might not wake up.)
(N-No, you can’t Yuki-kun! If you say you much then… I’m kissing the other cheek!)
(That’s not the problem here!)
(I’ll have…the place that’s left so…the forehead? Then Iroha will…)
(All of those are not allowed!!)
Iroha’s small exclamation made Aika groan and rolled over. It seemed tonight, Aika’s safety was all up to him. Good luck Iroha. Don’t lose it Iroha.
A few hours later…
As the moon was getting ready to leave and pass the baton over to the master of the sky, the sun…
Tweet tweet. The early birds sang and the morning sun caressed Aika’s face. Woken up by the light that shone through the curtains, Aika slowly stretched.
“Ha… I feel like I had a weird dream…”
Though she could only vaguely remember it, it was definitely a strange dream. Perhaps it was because she fell asleep thinking about Christmas. She could remember a Santa Claus (?) with a scowl holding a reindeer by its neck and dragged it along in a sack or something… It was an unprecedented dream.
“For me to dream something like that, what’s wrong…?”
Aika let out a bitter laugh and rolled over, slowly as if savour the feel of the blankets when…
Aika was surprised to find soft animal in her blankets.
“To think you’d have the courage to crawl into my sheets…”
“In the Human World, to climb into a woman’s sheets is the equal to a sin worthy of the death penalty. I shall freeze you immediately and throw you into the back of the freezer and…”
Silence. Usually Mike would argue with her to the point of irritation but today for some reason, Mike (?) didn’t so much as blink and stayed silent. Just to make sure, Aika pulled his cheeks, twisted his neck, punched his stomach but got no reaction at all. She was looking at Mike (?) in puzzlement when she found him holding a card.
Merry Christmas, Aika! Were you surprised? This is my present to you, a life-sized Mike plushie. You said Mike was cute as long as he didn’t speak so here he is.
P.S. The real Mike is in the vegetable compartment of fridge so take him out later okay?
“What is this…?”
The next thing she saw was an unfamiliar pile of books on her table. As she lifted it up, puzzled, a card fluttered down from in between the pages.
Merry Christmas. These…are interesting so read them… There are stories like A Christmas Carol by the literary master, Dickens…
P.S. Shinku will probably make a fuss that I gave you a present so tell him I’ll have some meat for him later…
There were another two letter-like things on the table as well. Aika picked it up timidly and opened one of them. There on the card were words of irony.
I don’t really have a present for you. If you absolutely want one then come and get it. There’s no way I’m going to risk getting teased by the other after giving it to you.
P.S. Don’t expect anything too much.
After reading such an ironic letter, Aika knew who this present was from, which is why she opened the last letter full of expectation. She was like a child opening a present from Santa.
Merry Christmas! I have a present for the good girl Aika from Santa here! Actually, during the day on the 25th, I booked our shop… I mean Host Club MAOH entirely for a party. This is the invitation so please come if you have time!
P.S. If you don’t come, I’ll cry!
“I’m not even a ‘good girl’…”
Realising how relaxed her expression was, Aika laughed. There was no need to check who gave her these presents. There is Santa Clause but those four who would give presents to a demon.
Aika got out of bed, smiling. At that same moment, she noticed something on her table and gasped. On the table, glittering under the morning light was a transparent earring box. Inside the box were earrings the colour so dark it absorbed all light.
“A…shadow crystal? Why is such a thing…?”
Just as the name suggests, a shadow crystal was not a mineral found in the Human World. On the outskirts of the Netherworld, in the ruins lived one of the seventy-two clans of the Netherworld, the Shadow Clan. Only in their territory can you find the ore for a shadow crystal. Of course, there was no way it could appear in the Human World.
“Is it a prank from Akatsuki…? Or was Suiu’s way of doing things…?”
If it is then their sense of humour exceeded the level of horrible. There is no way they didn’t know which clan the late Demon Lord was from.
As if to pull herself together, Aika hugged the earrings to her chest and looked at the four cards she received.
“If I remember correctly, the party was around noon…”
Host club MAOH, the place where Ryouga and Suiu work as hosts. This club that thrived with women who seek a temporary solace at night had no customers who visited during the day, outside of trading hours. The club was a quiet as usual…or it should have been.
“Let’s see… Yuki-kun, where should we put the tree? In the middle of the room?”
“Hm…won’t it be in the way there? A little more the side!”
“Iroha…I brought the plates…”
“You don’t have to carry them so do something else. The way you carry them is dangerous!”
Just for today, the host club was reserved so it would bustle day and night.
“Dear lord. Even though we have our own club events at night…”
“Don’t worry about those things Suiu. It’s a party without the formalities!”
“Yeah yeah! It’s a chance to eat for free so don’t be a party pooper!”
By the way, the ones in the area were not just the four demon lord candidates. The other three High Demons who appear in times of need, and also Kuroda who heard about the party were there as well. A total of eight people.
Having finished preparations for the party they waited eagerly for today’s heroine.
“Aika-san should be arriving soon. Does everyone have their crackers ready?”
As Kuroda confirmed with everyone, the long-awaited sound of the doorbell jingled.
“Excuse me, is this the place where the party-”
“Merry Christmas, Aika!!”
The moment she opened the door, everyone pulled their crackers.
Under the flurry of crackers and confetti, a surprised Aika could see the men’s smiles. Yukine, Iroha, Ryouga and Hinatsu, the four demon lord candidates. Akatsuki, Suiu, Shinku of the Four High Demons. And then Kuroda.
As if representing everyone, Kuroda smiled at the earrings dangling from her ears and said, “It seems Aika-san comes from a country where there is no event such a Christmas.”
“For you, everyone has applied themselves to preparing this party for you. I hope you enjoy it.”
Invited in by Kuroda, Aika was led to her seat. Before she sat down, finally overcoming her shock she turned to face the four demon lord candidates.
“Before we start the party, I’d like to ask you all something.”
“Hm? What is it?”
“Yukine, Iroha, Ryouga and Hinatsu. You were the ones who placed presents in my room, yes?”
“Ah, you found out? That’s just a little something from-”
“Meaning while I was sleeping, you snuck into my room and saw my sleeping face?”
It was the truth so when she put it that way, they were in trouble. Hinatsu timidly raised his hands a little.
“Ah, wait, you see! That was Santa’s doing! In other words it was Iroha!”
“Shut up, reindeer. I just got dragged into all this.”
Aika’s focus went back and forth between the four of them. Rather than being angry, she looked like as if she was enjoying it.
“Well…We’ll work that out during the party. I have something else I should have said first.”
Aika took a breath and smiled, seeing the confused faces. Up until now, she had no need for these words. She’d come to the Human World and learnt words she could spin for today.
“Thank you for the presents and…”
There were definitely many more things she wanted to say but first…
“Merry Christmas, everyone.”
MARGINAL#4 IDOL OF SUPERNOVA
『The Holy Night★M#4 Detective Group ~Just Who Is Santa Claus~』
I just saw something unbelievable.
Atom raced past the train station as the sun set.
His arms full of baked sweet potato, eyebrows pulled together, Atom continued to run. However, even Atom who had confidence in his stamina reached his limit. He gradually slowed down and finally stopped. Breath was white in the air, people going back and forth wore thick coats over them and even then they still walked hunched over, shivering from the cold. Of course, Atom wore a coat and a muffler but they were dishevelled from his run.
But more importantly…his head was filled with just one thing.
“…My eyes weren’t playing tricks on me right?”
Just as he whispered that, the clock chimed the hour. Everything suddenly turned bright in front of him. Lights of red and green shone over Atom and sparkled. In the middle of the square was a large shadow as if it reigned over everything like a throne. It was the Christmas tree. Atom stared up at it blankly. His dazed mind replayed clearly the weird scene he saw just a while ago.
“S-Santa was at the office?!””I’m totally serious! Ore-sama saw it with my own eyes!!”In the classroom during lunch break, Atom’s voice echoed noticeably loudly above the other students who had their lunch as they pleased. His overflowing confidence bewildered R even more. Wondering how to deal with this, he looks over to the other two. L and Rui both gave him a bitter smile.This is Atom’s tale.
Yesterday, Atom had a day off, school had finished and he planned to get home earlier than usual. But on his way home, suddenly out of nowhere he smelt something that tempted his sweet tooth. When he looked around, he found a baked sweet potato stall the same as ones from years ago. He approached with interest and then his stomach growled as if aiming for this timing. Unable to resist, he fished for his wallet in his bag to buy the sweet potatoes.
It was then that he thought of another idea. Atom bought a back of baked sweet potatoes and headed in the opposite direction of his house. He was headed to Pythagoras Productions, where many of his acquaintances gathered. Atom walked the winter streets in high spirits holding onto what was to be an early Christmas presents for everyone.
“And when I got to the office and opened the door…there he was…!”
As if to re-enact the situation, Atom made an expression of surprise and pointed into empty space.
“Santa Claus was there… right?”
“Oi, L! Don’t take my line!”
“But we’ve heard it so many times to memorise it,” L complained. Atom’s lips drooped a little as if he was pouting. Rui who had stayed quiet opened his mouth.
“However, what is concerning is the last part… According to Atom-kun, Santa Claus apparently disappeared… But why did he disappear suddenly…?”
“I dunno, but…! He just disappeared like poof! I mean, poof!”
Rui frowned, as did R. Only L looked like he had given up on Atom but R could tell he was just as confused.
“I was seriously shocked…so I ran out of the office without another thought. Then when I tried to get in again, the office was locked already…”
“If the office was locked then that means someone else was there, isn’t that correct?”
Rui asked Atom but he shook his head, saying he didn’t know. His lowered his shoulders in disappointment, something completely different to how he’d been up until now.
“Hey, R… You believe me right?”
R, who had been thinking about the Santa incident, jolted back into reality. When he raised his head, his eyes met Atom’s. Of course he believed Atom which is why he was even more bewildered.
“Look at this perfect preparation for winter!”
Kira looked over the view in front of him. This was the relaxation room at Pythagoras Production. Usually, a comfortable sofa would be in the middle of the room but not now. Spread out in the middle was a soft carpet. Above it the King of Winter, the kotatsu, reigned. On top of the table was a box filled with mandarins as if it belonged there.
“Himuro Kira presents the Pythagoras Winter Relaxation Room! So? It’s gracious isn’t it?”
He stood proud and looked behind him. There Shy stood looking at him with respect…or not. Instead, there was Shy who looked at him deadpanned.
“Kira, just in case let me confirm something.”
“What is it? Ah, don’t stay standing, come sit in the kotatsu too.”
“No, before that let me say this. If my memory serves me correctly, you said you had something important to tell me and told me to drop by the office.”
“Yup, I did.”
“So, what is this important business?”
“Huh? Like I said, it’s this perfect winter preparation. Even the Director was happy about it~!”
Shy stayed silent for a few seconds before sighing again.
“What? Are you tired? Well, just sit. Come on, you can eat mandarins too.”
Even though Kira sat at the kotatsu, Shy had stayed standing but after a while, who know what made him do it, Shy did as Kira suggested. It created a weird picture where two top idols sat facing each other in a kotatsu.
“I did suggest it but Shy…you look out of place in a kotatsu.”
“You don’t have to tell me that.”
“Hey, don’t be so snappy. I’ma eat a mandarin!”
Kira took a mandarin and peeled it with skill.
“Hey, doesn’t this look like an octopus? Fear it! Octopus Mandarin Ghost!!”
He held up the peeled skin in front of Shy. Shy didn’t look angry or astounded. He just looked at the mandarin peel coolly.
“Kira…aren’t you starting to sound like Atom?”
“Hey, hey, don’t group me with him! I mean I told him that the skin of a mandarin had the most nutrition and he bit into it whole. I don’t do things so childish like that.”
“Hmph, I wonder.”
Just as he said that, Shy’s mobile which he’d placed on the table, rang. He picked up the phone to check the caller.
“Speak of the devil, huh…”
Kira stuffed his face with mandarins as he looked at Shy who answered the call immediately.
“What is it Atom? Hm? Yes, Kira’s with me. What did you need?”
After a long silence, Shy finally opened his mouth to say something but…
There couldn’t have been a response any franker than that. Shy hung up as soon as he finished speaking, without waiting for Atom’s response.
“H-hey, hey, is that okay?”
Shy didn’t answer Kira’s question. Instead the space between his eyebrows creased. Kira didn’t have a clue on what Atom had said.
“What did Atom say? Oh, did they make some kind of trouble again or something?”
“It would have been better had it been trouble. …Absolutely trivial.”
“Like I said, what’s so trivial?”
Shy sighed for the nth time and calmly recounted his Atom’s call. Apparently he asked if Shy had seen Santa Claus at the office.
“Haha, that Atom, he still believes in Santa Claus? And he thinks he’s in this office? Hilarious. Oh but if it’s true then wouldn’t he still be here? Should we look for him later?”
“Search for him yourself. Honestly… I cannot keep up with you all.”
Shy, having no intention of chatting any longer reached for a mandarin on the table.
“So you saw Santa Claus around here?”
Atom nodded at Rui’s question. Rui looked around the entrance of the familiar office. There was only a distance of 6-7 metres from where Atom had opened the door with baked sweet potatoes in hand to where he was now. There was one large sofa and decorative plants placed here and there. Rui sighed while staring at the sofa.
L and R who had come as well went further into the office to see if they could find any clues. Atom had his back faced to Rui and was opening and closing the door. He was probably remembering what he did back then. Rui felt like they were detectives trying to discover the true identity of Santa Claus.
“Excuse me Atom-kun, I’m sorry for asking you so many times but…are you sure it couldn’t have been someone dressed as Santa Claus…?”
“Impossible! Besides, why would they have to? Christmas is still a ways away.”
Rui could only agree. It’s true that there was no reason for anyone to dress up as Santa Claus in this sort of place. And of course they hadn’t heard anything about a Christmas party. If there was one, they would have attended.
(I don’t believe Atom-kun is lying, and L-kun and R-kun are definitely not. The two from LagPo…are busy with work. I can’t imagine Manager, Director or Chou-san doing it…)
Even if they did find out who the Santa Claus was, how did he even disappear so suddenly? In the end, the mystery grows deeper.
Atom who had his mobile in hand frowned and walked towards Rui.
“That Shy, he didn’t even listen to me properly and hung up on me…”
“You called Makishima-san?”
“When I asked him if he’d seen Santa Claus in the office, he just said ‘how trivial’ and hung up.”
“I think that’s because you didn’t ask your question well…”
“But still, isn’t that too cold of him?!”
As Rui tried to calm Atom, it suddenly became noisy from within the office. When they turned towards the sound, they saw R looking troubled and L smiling. And the person L was dragging by the arm was…
Atom called out even before Rui could make a sound. Chou pushed his glasses up in response, and from the other side of the lenses were his displeased gaze.
“Exactly why did you have to pull me all the way here?”
It seemed he was captured by L and R when he was filing documents in the office. Apparently LAGRANGE POINT had been in the relaxation room until a few hours ago but had left by the back door. They had heard the room got a make-over but they still didn’t know what it looked like. Just as Rui was thinking about that, L who had dragged Chou here finally said something.
“Chou said he was here that day so I brought him here as a witness! Could you tell us tem what you told us? You were here at that time right?”
“Yes, I was here in the office. I was also the one who locked up. After my meeting with the Director, I headed straight for a meeting outside the office.”
“S-Seriously?! Hey, hey, at that time you saw Santa right?!”
Rui explained the situation clearly to Chou, who had looked confused. He was frowning at first but slowly relaxed his expression. Then…
“Ah, yes I did see Santa.”
Chou confirmed he did indeed see him.
“Huh? Y-you really saw Santa?”
When Rui asked him again out of reflex, Chou held his gaze firmly and nodded as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
“Yes, I did but that was just Santa Claus’s-”
“See, my eyes didn’t play tricks on me!! I knew Santa Claus was here!!”
Atom pumped his fist and shouted. His eyes sparkled. He was like a child who found treasure from a treasure map. Chou had meant to continue talking but seeing Atom, he kept silent. After thinking, he opened his mouth again.
“Good for you, Atom.”
“Thanks!” replied Atom automatically. Chou had a rare bright expression on.
But there are still so many questions unanswered~
L thought as he walked the winter streets. On his right were Atom and Rui.
“It’s almost Christ-mas~♪”
“Atom-kun, what is with that weird song?”
“Who cares? What’s important in a song is the heart! Eat a cake at Christmas~♪ Enjoy it with a full stomach~♪”
Rui looked like he was in between accepting and not accepting that mindset. As he was looking on at this conversation, L felt his sleeve being pulled slightly from beside him. When he looked, R looked like he wanted to whisper something so L leaned in closer.
“Hey L. About what Chou-san said…what do you think?”
After confirming Santa’s existence they asked Chou how Santa disappeared so suddenly. His answer was that just as Atom said, Santa had disappeared. Perhaps he it was one of his powers. Even L wasn’t someone who’d get tricked by such a lie aimed for children.
“Well, he was definitely hiding something but…”
L stopped talking and looked forward. He saw Atom who had run ahead stopped in front of the Christmas tree in the square and waved back and the back of Rui who was jogging towards him. L looked at this sight and though…
“Maybe it’s okay to believe in it once in a while.”
“Someone will reveal the truth one day, right?” With that, L started to run. He could ear R shout from behind. Though a little slower, R’s footsteps started to overlap with L’s.
The four stars, MARGINAL#4 gathered under the Christmas tree.
“It’s totally different looking at this alone and with everyone,” Atom whispered.
Bells, holly and gingerbread men and ornaments. At the very top was a large star. In the back of his mind L saw a glittering meteor shower from the stage… And it made him want to ask something.
“Hey guys, if you could ask Santa Claus for something, what would it be?”
“Of course it’s going to be…”
“Star Cluster’s smiles!”
“I thought so~”
“Everyone was thinking the same thing!”
The four of them laughed in joy. As if in reply to that, the tree lights shined brightly.
“But…that’s no something we should ask Santa for, but something we should obtain ourselves.”
Atom and Rui nod at R’s words. L smiled back.
“All right! Let’s do our best in lessons tomorrow too!”
“Yes. Oh and let’s tell Manager what happened. I’m sure she’ll be happy to hear it.
“Yeah! Let’s share some of our happiness with her!”
My body that had been ready to freeze any moment from the cold, warmed up a little. Within this warmth is a place where he belonged and L felt exceptionally blessed.
“…Satsuki, did something good happen?”
“Why, all of a sudden?”
Chou who was sitting in the driver’s seat of the transfer car, gripping the steering wheel, glanced at the rear-view mirror. Shy’s gaze from the mirror was suspicious. He spoke up again.
“I just thought you were enjoying yourself a lot more than usual…”
“How did you know? He looks the same as usual to me though…?”
He may have relaxed a little because the Special Christmas Music program recording went well. Chou rearranged his grip on the wheel and fixed his posture. At the same time, he recalled a certain happening on a certain day.
“The other day I spoke to MARGINAL#4 at the office.”
Half dragged forcefully by, rather than spoke to would be more accurate but Chou ignored that detail and continued.
“The costume you both wore for the Special Christmas performance… I had put it on a mannequin at the office to check it and left it there. Atom just happened across it and thinking it was the real Santa, made a big fuss about it.”
Yes, that day Santa was indeed at the office. More accurately, it was a mannequin dressed in a costume similar to a Santa suit.
Chou turned the car right. He could remember the happenings of that day clearer.
“That day I went to the office for a meeting with the Director so I knew but the mannequin was placed with its back to the door. It’s true it looked like a human…I can’t say it doesn’t look like Santa but…it is truly a mistake to be expected of Atom.”
“Ah, we heard about that! Right, Shy?”
“…Yes… So Satsuki,”
Shy sounded quite serious.
“You didn’t find it amusing and tell a lie similar to ‘I also saw Santa’ did you?”
“I didn’t like. I did see Santa. Thought it was only the costume.”
“Hmph, that’s quite childish of you.”
“It is their fault for not listening to everything I had to say. Besides…Isn’t it good to let them a dream once in a while?” Kira started laughing as Chou added that last phrase.
“Ahahaha! I see. Is that why Sacchin is in such a good mood? Bam! Chou Satsuki, selling dreams!”
“Please don’t give me a weird subtitle!”
Chou slowed the car down until it stopped. The destination in front of them was Shy’s home.
“Shy, we’re here.”
He could hear Shy opening the rear door.
“Really, everyone’s all about Christmas and Santa… Don’t be in such high spirits then blunder because of that, Kira. And Satsuki, you too. Well then, I’ll see you two tomorrow.”
“Ah, wait! Stay and hear more of Sacchan’s story-”
Kira’s voice was overlapped by the sound of a closing car door. Shy who had gotten off walked passed the driver’s window.
“That Shy… why is he so tense? It’s a once a year holiday so it’s fine if I’m in high spirits. Right, Sacchan?”
After confirming Shy entered his home safely, Chou stepped gently on the accelerator. Next, he had to send Kira home. He made a U-turn. At the same time, Chou quietly built a hypothesis.
Atom claimed that Santa Claus disappeared. That was most likely a mistake he made from the shock. It wasn’t impossible for Atom. No, it had to be otherwise it’d be trouble because mannequins cannot, of course, move let alone disappear. However, had he told them that, it would have been boring. This is why he had made quite a forced explanation, for someone like him, to Atom and the others. As Shy had said, it Chou was aware it was an immature way to wrap things up. Although Atom seemed extremely satisfied in just proving Santa Claus had been there.
However, what if Santa Claus’s disappearance wasn’t a mistake at all? Then who…?
Once inside his home, he placed his keys on top his shoe cabinet like always. There, Shy let out a big sigh. He took off his shoes and moved to the living room, put down his things and fell onto his sofa. He felt unusually tired today and he knew the reason for that.
“So it was Atom back then…”
Shy closed his eyes and a certain incident rose to the surface of his mind.
That’s right, that day. Shy who dropped by the office on his way home from work just so happened to find the mannequin placed at the entrance of the office. Realising this was the costume for the Special Christmas Music program he checked the costume from top to bottom. The costume was quite heavy with decorations so he wondered how much time it would take to change into it if he had to do it quickly… Shy lifted the sleeve, looked at the lining and was then standing in front of the mannequin. In other words, if you were to look in from the office entrance, Shy was standing in a place where the mannequin would cover him.
Shy suddenly wondered why the costume was left in such a place. This was definitely not a place for costumes to be left and there was a proper place for costumes to be kept.
Thinking it would be a problem if someone who wasn’t staff saw the costume, Shy lifted the mannequin up to move it. It was then he heard it, the click of the door opening. Surprised at the suddenness of it all, Shy let go of the mannequin for a split second and it almost fell. But thanks to his quick reaction, it didn’t end up falling. However, that movement made the mannequin look human. Shy heard things drop onto the ground and then the movement to pick it up.
When he thought about it, he should have just asked “what are you doing?” and just left. The only people who’d come to the office at this time would only be managers. It wouldn’t have been too late to call out after he had put the mannequin away, Shy thought calmly. He put the mannequin to the side as the mysterious person continued to pick up their things. When he did, from the door he heard someone running away. When he put the mannequin away, came back to where he had been, no one was there anymore. Shy got a bad feeling within the now quiet again office.
(Did I imagine the door opening…? No, that’s impossible. Then was it a robber…but still…)
As he was thinking, he sensed a person’s presence again. He had no need to hide but hiding anyway is human instinct.
(That’s…Satsuki? So was that person just then Satsuki…? But…)
Shy saw Chou who locked up but in the end he didn’t know who the person who came in was.
And that is the truth of the Santa incident. Once you know what happened, it’s nothing big. You would think yourself an idiot to even have believed there was a ghost for even a split second.
“Good to let them dream once in a while, huh…”
Shy checked his Skitter app and as expected you could catch a glimpse of MARGINAL#4 looking forward to Christmas. Even Kira was replying to them. No matter in what form, Shy was the one who caused the whole disturbance. Thinking he couldn’t end the year feeling so guilty, Shy started to plan something until he fell asleep.
“All right does everyone have a glass?”
The staff of Pythagoras gathered in the Relaxation Room nodded in reply to Katena. In the midst of everyone was MARGINAL#4, LAGRANGE POINT as well as their managers, including Chou.
“Well then, here we go! Merry Christmas!”
The satisfying sound of glasses clinking could be heard after her cheer.
It was Pythagoras Production’s Christmas Party tonight. This room renewed for winter use was already being used as a place of relaxation and refreshments.
The one who planned this Christmas Party was Shy. Even Katena was surprised that Shy of all people would suggest such a thing. However, Shy didn’t want anyone to know he was the planner and asked her to keep it a secret so no one else here knew. Instead, the invitations were sent out in the name of ‘Santa Claus’. When MARGINAL#4 heard about it, they were extremely thrilled.
Shy looked around and saw Atom showing off the mandarin skin he’d peeled.
“Kira! Look at this! Fear it! Octopus Mandarin Ghost!”
“Atom…I think we did end up rubbing off on each other. Hahaha…”
L, next to Atom who’d started blinking blankly, laughed.
“Ahaha, so you mean you two think alike? Atom-kun, don’t become an adult like him okay?”
“Oi! What do you mean an adult like me?!”
“*Sigh*… R, you must have it hard.”
“Haha, it does get hard but more importantly, I have fun so it’s okay!”
Shy smiled at his reliable junior and swirled his drink.
The staff who look at computers with a stiff expression daily, managers who organise their daily schedules, idols who work hard to shine every day, the Director who gave them this company and this place of belonging… Shy watched as everyone laughed joyously, tasting the happiness. He wished that from now on such happy days would continue forever.
Aaaannnd that’s it! They’re not all the short stories released but I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t played the game, go get a VITA and JUST PLAY THE GAME! See you guys around again…some time later and Merry Christmas!!