08-16 Being Called a Brother
After bathing, the two had a meal at a time that wasn’t quite breakfast nor was it quite lunch.
“This time I’ve done the cooking.”
Laozi said. He appeared to be in high-spirits about making food for Jin for the first time, so the portions were on the larger side but because of their hunger the two ate it all without problems.
Jin’s stomach swelled out and his eyelids began to droop.
“Father, please have a brief rest.”
Reiko worried about Jin’s health.
“Ah, right. I suppose I’ll take a short nap. Elsa must be sleepy too.”
Then, he guided Elsa to the mansion. Due to it being spring, despite Hourai Island being north of the Northern Tropic it was rather warm by midday.
“Make yourself at home.”
“What’s, this. I’ve never seen a building like this before.”
Elsa was wide-eyed in wonder at the Japanese-style tiled roof architecture.
“Well, let’s just have a short rest. After that I’ll explain everything.”
“Mm, I’m looking forward to it.”
He laid out a futon in a room facing south and called Elsa there.
“This also has tatami mats. I’m glad.”
Elsa said and threw herself on the with a whump. After that she rolled around all over the place and towards the futon. Almost like a child.
“So, I’ll be going to my own room to sleep for a bit.”
Jin said and was about to close the sliding screen when,
“…Wait. …Please, just stay by me for a little while.”
He was held back by Elsa’s heartrending voice.
Jin once more went back to Elsa’s room and lay down on the tatami.
“I’ll be here, so you can rest easy.”
“Mm. Thanks, Jin-kun.”
This time Elsa closed her eyes looking calm from the bottom of her heart.
“…Lonesome, isn’t she.”
Jin reminisced of the past.
During his orphanage days, there was a time when they had taken custody of a girl who had lost her parents. She was a student on the third year of elementary school and could never sleep unless she had someone next to her.
Starting with Jin, the older children had slept by her in turns. Jin was nostalgic as he thought about those days.
“Father, it’s about time for you to wake up, please.”
And just like that, before he knew it Jin had also fallen asleep. He was woken up by Reiko’s voice.
“Yawn, I slept well.”
Jin got up and stretched. Reiko looked to be in a bit of a bad mood.
“Father, if you don’t sleep properly in a futon you won’t get any less tired. Besides, what if you caught a cold?”
“Ah, sorry. But I was worried about Elsa.”
He apologized, and Reiko looked reluctantly accepting.
“It’s soon 3 o’clock. If you don’t contact Reinhardt-san he’ll get worried.”
“Ah, you’re right. I had already been considering telling Reinhardt about this place sooner or later, but…”
Jin said to Reiko who nodded and,
“I will follow whatever Father thinks is the best.”
Jin quietly left the room, and tried asking the same thing about Laozi through his terminal in the mansion.
“Yes, if My Lord thinks it is a good idea then please carry on to do so. I shall support you with my full capabilities.”
Laozi also said something similar, and Jin finally decided to bring Reinhardt along with him here.
Then, the pitter-patter sound of running steps were heard from the hallway. Jin wondered what was going on and went to take a look, and there was Elsa, running.
He said to Elsa’s back as she had passed him by, and suddenly she stopped and slowly turned around.
“Elsa, wh-what’s wrong?”
In Elsa’s eyes enough tears had gathered that it looked like they would fall any moment now.
Then Elsa came jumping towards Jin.
“I thought you’d left me behind.”
She said and clung to Jin. Jin felt as if Elsa had regressed back to a child a little.
(It’s probably because of the anxiety from the time she was kidnapped, or because of the change in environment.)
Jin thought while gently stroking Elsa’s back.
“Well, what to do now.”
If his guess was right, it should solve itself with enough time. But right now Jin couldn’t just quietly go out.
“I wonder if she’ll be fine if she’s got Soleil and Luna with her?”
She had been fine during the bath, so Jin summoned the two and decided to leave Elsa with them for a while.
“Yes, leave it to us.”
Then Jin told Elsa.
“I just thought that I’d only go get Reinhardt. So could you wait for that?”
Then Elsa nodded with a sad look on her face and,
“Mm. But, come back soon. …Jin-nii.”
She called him ‘nii’, the same as Reinhardt.
“Mm. …I already abandoned the Randol house. So I’m all alone. If possible, I want Jin-nee to treat me as a sister. …Please?”
Ah, Jin understood. Elsa had already become someone without a single relative. And that’s why she couldn’t help but be anxious.
“Got it. From now on, I’ll consider Elsa my younger sister. Is that okay?”
“Alright. In that case, I’ll go get Reinhardt, so just wait patiently.”
Leaving behind the finally calmed-down Elsa, Jin warped back to the carriage in Tellurs.
There he realized. There was a time difference between Tellurs and Hourai Island. It seemed to be a difference of about three hours and a half. Therefore it was still before noon.
“I suppose I’ll first go check how Mine’s health is.”
Without going into the hotel, he headed towards Sally’s healing clinic.
At Hourai Island the skies were clear but here it was cloudy. Jin walked downtown while feeling the vaguely moist spring winds.
The clinic was at the end of a curved alley near the riverbank.
He opened the door and stepped inside where there were three patients.
“Oh, it’s you. Wait a moment, please.”
Sally looked at Jin and said, then once again began examining the patients. After waiting for about 15 minutes, Sally who had finished viewing her patients said,
“The woman –Mine, was it?– has recovered consciousness.”
“Really now! That’s good.”
“However, even though she hasn’t recovered her strength yet she’s already tried to leave the hospital and I’m at a loss with her. You warn her too, please.”
Then Jin entered the sickbay with Sally. The resting Mine saw Jin’s face, sat up and,
“Jin-sama! Elsa, Elsa is!”
She yelled agitatedly and so Jin waved at her to sit down and,
“Mine, it’s okay. Elsa’s already out of trouble. She’s not hurt anywhere and she’s safe, so you can relax.”
He told her so and all strength seemed to leave Mine’s body.
“Oh, uh…Is that so…You saved her, right? Thank you very much, Jin-sama.”
She said and once more lay down on the bed.
“Mine, you’re Elsa’s real mother, right? Right now, Elsa’s hidden in a place where she absolutely won’t be found. I don’t have any intention of telling about it to anyone of the Randol house other than Reinhardt. So you can rest easy and recover.”
Jin said, tears welled up in Mine’s eyes and,
“So you knew…I…nearly brought her great misfortune.”
“It’s fine as long as you acknowledge that. Think well upon what you’ll do from now on. To begin with you need to get healthy. But I’m glad. Now Elsa can also rest easy.”
Jin said, then,
“Jin-sama, I have a request. If possible, please don’t tell Elsa that I am alive.”
“After going through this I’ve finally realized it. I only bring misfortune to that child. It’s better if she doesn’t have someone like me.”
Maybe being close to death changed her worldview, as Mine was almost like a completely different person. However,
“You idiot. By now, Elsa has lost all her relatives. Mine, aren’t you her only blood relative? And her real mother at that? If you don’t protect her then who will?”
He said to cheer up Mine. Still however,
“Is that…right? Can someone like me be a good mother?”
Mine kept saying things like that. Her troublesome nature hasn’t changed, Jin thought with a strained laugh in his heart.