Translator: Crystal Editors: PurpleUnisaurus, DC, Kaelpie, Teeem Proofreader: PurpleUnisaurus, DCThanatos TLCs: flowingcloud, Yomigaeru
――“I have many goals.”
“Sputnik-san is a baka. Sputnik-san is a ba~ka!”
After buying the detergent, wire, and placing an order for the polishing agent, Clue finished shopping at the bakery. While walking back to the shop, Clue sang curses of the shopkeeper.
Though even saying that, after crying it out she no longer felt frustrated. But just forgiving him was too regrettable, so she just fulfilled herself by singing curses for him. Not being able to bear the sweet scent coming paper bag her cheeks rose with a smile.
Just now she had bought two melon buns and three canelés  ‘Freshly baked right now!’ from the bakery owner. The melon buns were for Sputnik-san and she bought the canelés as a thanks to Natsu for looking after the shop.
By the way, what is the time now? When she took out the watch from her pocket she saw the hand was pointing to five minutes before ten. She walked faster in a hurry, it was all because the material store was crowded.
――Sputnik had said he liked melon buns because the texture of the inside and the outside were completely different.
“Sometimes they pointlessly mix in melon pulp or flavoring, but that is no good. I will not accept them. I don’t know what they were playing at, there was even a bakery that mixed raw ham and melon pulp into melon buns. At that time I thought I was gonna flip out.”
Sputnik, who once said this to her, was drinking brandy straight from the bottle.
He seemed to have many goals to accomplish in life, and at one point, she had been told two of them.
The first had been to settle in a town with tasty melon buns, and the other one was to have his own store.
Now, having registered as a citizen in the city of Rear Fiat and set up the Sputnik jewellery store, both the dreams told to her are somewhat fulfilled.
“Clue. Use your ‘condition’ and fulfill my dream…. When it comes true――”
Remembering the words after that, Clue’s gaze dropped.
“Why’d he make such a promise?”
Her words disappeared into the hustle and bustle of the market.
Occasionally she wondered. ――Did Sputnik even remember the promise?
Even though the store was set up and they had settled in the city, he never said anything about the promise. Whenever she thought he remembered her chest tightened, but the thought of confirming it was frightening. Every time they both talked about the past she felt like he would say “Oh yeah” and talk about the ‘promise’.
Certainly, in the past, she wished for it, but now…
“If you’ve forgotten then that person-”
With no way to confirm the answer, Clue sighed deeply when-
Suddenly she felt like something was rising up from the back of her throat. Unlike nausea, it was a clump of foreign matter. Through years of experience, Clue knew what it was.
This was bad.
In a hurry she put her hands around her waist, she fumbled through her pocket looking for the handkerchief she always carried. It seemed like she had left it in the processing room with the jewels, and she didn’t have anything to hide it. After wandering lost for a bit, she jumped into a deserted alley.
The feeling slowly getting worse, she clamped both her hands over her mouth.
She bent her knees, then curled up her body. When she coughed, two stones rolled past her fingers. Though it was afternoon, in the dimly lit alley, the green stone shone lightly. That was the thing that had been stuck in her throat.
Feeling slightly dizzy, she reached out to pick up the stone- when――
A shadow hovered over her, at the same a voice she had never heard.
A bit ahead she could see a person’s leg.
――she raised her head.
Her eyes met with a strange man who looked amazed.
A man with an unpleasant figure looked back and forth between her and the jewel fallen at his feet.
It wasn’t long before those eyes glazed over with curiosity and greed.
That moment Clue thought, Oh no――
Sputnik woke up to a small sound going knock knock. Well what could that sound be? Still half asleep, with his eyes closed he wondered if a mouse or something was running in the attic. If so, he’d have to get rid of it, though thinking like that he didn’t feel like waking up at all. It shouldn’t have been too long ago that he had taken a light bath and jumped into bed. The large amount of alcohol he had consumed yesterday along with sleepiness and the blanket comfortably covering him didn’t let him wake up.
Slowly the sound got louder than the gongon from before. A mouse isn’t big, so was it a cat? He didn’t know what it was but either way it was disturbing his sleep. The annoying sound made him furrow his eyebrows. But to something you couldn’t even see you wouldn’t pay any heed to it. Letting out a long sigh due to the continuous sound, Sputnik pulled the blanket up covering his head. Thus the sound and the sunlight which had escaped through the curtains both faded away and the sleepy atmosphere returned.
Oh boy, He exhaled deeply and stopped thinking. Slowly he fell back into sleep
This time he heard a different sound.
This time even the soundproof wall called the blanket couldn’t stop it, the sound was louder than a cat, like someone kicking something――he understood immediately. It was the sound of shoes kicking the door. From the lightness of the sound, it was most likely a woman.
The footsteps got closer and closer, eventually invading his bedroom, stopping right beside his bed.
A pestering voice. As expected, it was a woman.
He felt someone looking at him. But, he wondered, who did he share his bed with before falling asleep――he couldn’t remember. In the first place, remembering what you did before falling asleep while half awake is difficult. He knew from experience that not remembering the woman would lead to trouble, but sleep won out.
When he turned his head away in sleep, the woman repeated in frustration. “Wake up.” He lowered the blanket and opened his eyes halfway, just as expected there was the shadow of a woman. Annoying, he mumbled but the words disappeared in his mouth and even he couldn’t understand them, so he wasn’t sure whether or not they reached her.
Grabbing his shoulder from outside the blanket, she shook him and said “Wake up” sullenly. Ah, what a noisy woman. It is troublesome to take action, but it cannot be helped.
For times like this, Sputnik knew an efficient method of silencing them.
Finally letting go of sleep, he slightly raised his body and put an arm out of the blanket. “Be quiet” he whispered, putting his hand behind her neck, pulling her closer and kissing her――
Hearing a scream which almost burst his eardrums, he woke up immediately.
At the same time, he felt something hit his cheek and, not knowing what had happened, was stunned for a second. However, feeling the pain resounding on his left cheek, his anger suddenly blew up.
He raised his head and stared. In front of his eyes was a woman――who wasn’t a stranger.
“What are you doing――Natsu you! Why are you suddenly hitting a person who’s sleeping! Police, call the police!”
“I should be the one asking what you’re doing, if you think the law needs to get involved I’ll investigate you myself, you pervert! Even after knocking over and over you don’t get up――from morning to evening do you only think of attacking people?! You’re such a brute, I can’t believe this!”
“Ah, shut up stop it’s echoing in my head!”
Clenching the right hand that had hit his cheek in front of his chest, Sputnik spat out his complaints at the intruder who was selfishly going about — Natsu — without holding back. Of course, he didn’t have any memory of spending the night with such a woman, if he was going to do something like that it would’ve been more meaningful to stare at flies mating for three days and nights instead.
He couldn’t sleep any longer. After getting up, he dropped down beside the bed, scratching his head. He let out a huge yawn without thinking.
“… In the first place, after barging into a man’s room whenever you like, what’s with that way of talking. A woman walking into a man’s room all alone, you can’t complain about what happens. Well don’t worry, instead of putting a hand on you, it’d be much more constructive to spend the time exterminating rats.”
Thinking back, her actions too were in the wrong, she drew back a bit. Her resolve also weakened, she stared off into empty space avoiding his eyes and muttered as if trying to make up an excuse.
“It’s not like I wanted to peak into your life, and I didn’t want to come here either. ……But, it’s already time for the store to open.”
Natsu’s face reminded him of withered vegetables. Now that she said it, when Sputnik pulled the wristwatch from beside the pillow it read 10:03.
But anyway, even without being told by Natsu he had already dealt with this matter. In the first place— she should have heard the conversation about that.
“What’re you talking about? If it’s about the shop, just some time ago I told Clue――”
“That Clue-chan hasn’t come back.”
Sputnik’s eyebrows furrowed at the words Natsu interrupted with. It wasn’t that he felt angry. He just thought it was unusual.
That overly serious employee, forgetting the opening hours and going off somewhere.
“Where’d she go, that girl?”
“Don’t get angry. Around thirty minutes ago, she went out to buy the things you asked her to, and didn’t come back…… But, still, I can’t open the store, can I?”
“Good grief, where is she wandering around?’
Most likely the material store was crowded or something like that.
Although Rear Fiat’s security was better than the others, a place without criminals and having only good people, it was definitely not a dream city like that. It was impossible to sell valuable jewels unattended like rustic vegetables.
Getting up from the bed, Sputnik took the jacket on top of the chair and a small box he kept on the desk. To clear his head, he took out a cigarette and put it in his mouth. Using a match he lit it up, slowly inhaled, and breathed out the white smoke for the same amount of time, then finally walked towards the exit. After that, a step behind, Natsu followed.
Lightly combing his hair with his fingers, he opened the door, stepping into the hallway and passed by Clue’s room.
At that time, as if she suddenly remembered something, Natsu said.
“That’s right, Sputnik. Can I ask you something?”
He answered the question with silence. She, who acknowledged it, continued.
“Last night, where were you?”
“I heard you even went to an inn? Haruka’s inn?”
When he answered, he was immediately asked more questions.
Haruka’s inn was right next to Kate’s bar. It was a very convenient lodging for travelers who liked to drink a lot. If you drink yourself unconscious at Kate’s bar the store’s employees would conveniently throw you into Haruka’s inn. ――The next morning, there would be a huge extra charge on the bill――or so he had heard, but he never drank till he dropped there, so he didn’t really know what actually happened.
“Did the police department start investigating the behavior of ordinary citizens? How commendable.”
“You’re not denying it.”
He didn’t really want to deceive her――so he didn’t say anything.
As expected, met with silence, she said nothing more. Even though he didn’t know what she was thinking, he had to look after the store right now. He didn’t want to say anything and get mixed up in something weird.
Going down the stairs, through the first-floor corridor, he went ahead into the store. Although it was past opening time, because of the ‘Under Preparation’ sign there were no customers yet. Taking out the ‘Open’ sign from the counter, he opened the door and went outside. Feeling relaxed as there were no customers to attend to, he replaced the ‘Under Preparation’ sign with it.
Looking back, he could see Natsu standing there uncomfortably. Inhaling deeply again, he exhaled the smoke. He pulled out the ashtray hidden at the edge of the counter and dropped the ash in it, then gestured outside with his chin.
“You go back to work, I’ll do the rest.”
But she didn’t accept his offer. Her eyebrows furrowed as she shook her head.
“I’ll wait till Clue-chan comes back. I’m worried.”
“Clue is not stupid. It’s not like she’s a child who is overcome with tears on the way back after losing an errand memo.”
She opened her mouth in protest, but having no words to continue she closed her mouth. He knew what she wanted to say. It seemed unlikely that Clue would break her promise. But it wasn’t as if just by talking about she appear anyway Sputnik didn’t say anything more, pulling the counter chair, he sat down. Natsu hesitated a bit before sitting down on the sofa meant for customers.
――Just when Sputnik pushed the cigarette onto the ashtray, extinguishing it.
The doorbell rang *clang clang* loudly, then someone jumped in. He thought that Clue had finally come back, but he was wrong.
Rolling into the store, calling his name, was a girl who was approximately the same age as Clue, but was not the employee he had hired. She, got along with Clue very well――umm. What was her name again?
“Why if it isn’t Anna-chan. What’s wrong, why are you in such a hurry?”
Natsu’s surprised voice reminded him. That’s right, Anna. The daughter of the general store situated three stores over.
Her blonde hair in disarray, out of breath, cheeks trembling as if she would start crying any moment. Scared by something, she was turning blue――perhaps the trembling of her clenched fist was not because she had come running.
Sputnik felt an unpleasant premonition in his stomach. No way.
As if clinging to Natsu who stood up and approached her, Anna hugged her. Then raising her head, she said in a cracking voice, confirming that unpleasant feeling.