At least you'll never be a vegetable

Even artichokes have hearts.

Chapter 13 - インターン1日目 First Day of the Internship
Tego
9kinds

The chapter opens with Kouta calling Mitsuko to tell her that his first day at the internship went well. He’s aiming for a planning position and successfully presented several game ideas and the next day they’ll begin the game creation simulation. He tells Mitsuko that he wants to see her, but she tells him no because he needs to focus so she’ll see him after everything is over the next day.

Since they slept together the second time, their relationship has surpassed that of host and client and he’s been making more time to see her and come to rely on her. She's become closer to something like a lover and adversely, Kouta and has been talking less with Megumi who has been busy since April.

He jokes that Mitsuko should come by Tuberose instead, but Kouta isn’t actually working that night. Remembering what happened when Shizuku tried to quit, he lied to Mizutani that his mother wasn’t doing well to get 2 days of vacation.

He hangs up and heads home. Since he spent the previous night at Mitsuko’s, it’s been awhile since he’s been home at that time. Meme and their mother are making gyoza, and Kouta teases Meme and joins them. They make a lot of gyoza planning to freeze some of them. Meme asks Kouta if Megumi is coming so he messages her asking if she wants to come over and have gyoza. When he tells Meme that Megumi will be there in an hour she smiles happily.

They’ve made around 100 gyoza by the time Megumi arrives and starts helping their mother with cooking while Meme watches. Kouta is drinking beer and eating gyoza when Megumi asks him if he’s preparing to begin job searching. Kouta hasn’t told her or his mother about the internship, so he tells them about it. They say that that’s amazing, and when they comment on how Meme had wanted Kouta to get a job at a game company she says that next year she’ll have to study not play games.

Though Kouta doubts her a bit, he’s proud of how serious she’s being. Before she finishes eating, Meme falls asleep at the table so Kouta carries her up to bed. When he returns to the table Megumi tells him that a woman called him, and his mother joking says that it’s awful to cheat when he has Megumi. Kouta tries to laugh it off to cover how shaken he is by that, and when he looks at the screen of his phone he sees that it was Misaki who called. He tells them that it’s his friend’s girlfriend and calls her back.

On the other end, he hears angry yelling and Misaki yells for him to help her because Shizuku is acting violently, saying that he’s going to kill her. Kouta asks her where she is and she tells him she’s at home. He tells Megumi and his mother that his friend needs help so he’ll be heading out. They worry for him since he has the second day of his internship the next day, but he assures them he’ll be back soon.

He catches a taxi to Shizuku’s house calling Misaki on the way but she doesn’t pick up. After 20 minutes he arrives at Shizuku’s apartment. Kouta tries to find which window is Shuzuku’s apartment, but is unable to tell and is stuck outside the auto-locked building not sure what to do. Unlike last time, there’s no one going in or out to let him in. If he rings the bell, it might distract him from Misaki, but on the other hand it could also set him off more.

After staying stuck in indecision as he grows more frantic, Kouta finally rings the doorbell, but there’s no response. He keeps ringing it until the door suddenly opens and he takes the elevator up to Shizuku’s apartment in a hurry. When he opens the door to their apartment, it’s eerily quiet. He calls their names, but no one answers. He heads into the living room where there are clothes, empty bottles, and dishes scattered about, and in the middle of the room Misaki is collapsed on the floor.

Kouta rushes over to her, and there’s no bruises to indicate that she’s been hit, but she’s unconscious though still breathing.  Kouta calls for an ambulance, and though he isn’t able to explain the situation well it arrives within 10 minutes. The paramedics guess that it’s cerebral anemia. He puts her on a stretcher and she wakes up, immediately asking about Shizuku.

Kouta tells her that Shizuku wasn’t there when he got here, and she asks him to look for him saying that he must still be nearby. When Kouta tells her he can’t she begs him to, saying that she’s fine on her own and if he doesn’t it’ll be bad for Shizuku. Unable to tell her no, Kouta decides to look for Shizuku. The paramedics urge Kouta to go with them in the ambulance but Kouta gives them his number and says he’ll definitely come later and Misaki says she’ll explain what happened so the paramedics agree.

Kouta leaves the apartments and heads to where he thinks it’s likely Shizuki has gone, downtown. He wonders who it was who buzzed him in, and comes up with a hypothesis. That Misaki fainted while Shizuku was in the middle of his rage fit, and Shizuku panicked and realized the doorbell was buzzing and let him in. Then while Kouta was riding the elevator up, he left down the stairs or stayed hidden somewhere in the apartment. The place where Misaki had lain collapsed was quite far from the door buzzer. It would be unnatural for Misaki to go that far before collapsing after unlocking the door.

If that is what happened, it’s been 20 minutes since Shizuku left the apartment, if he took a taxi or the train he could’ve gotten quite far. Not sure what to do, Kouta heads toward Tuberose, then passes the batting center towards Kabuki-cho. Reluctantly, he decides that if he doesn’t find him by the time he gets to Shinjuku Station, he’ll go see Misaki in the hospital. He’s also worried about tomorrow, as it’s already 11 at night.

As he gets close to Shinjuku Station, he hears Shizuku arguing loudly with a tall foreign man. However, Shizuku notices Kouta and bowls over the foreign man and runs away. Kouta chases after him, the two of them running against the flow of drunk people towards the station. Shizuku seems drunk, his movements slow as he glances behind him every once in awhile to yell in Kansai dialect at Kouta.

The more Shizuku provokes him, the faster Kouta runs. Finally catching up to Shizuku, Kouta grabs his hood but Shizuku turns around and punches Kouta in the face. Kouta falls to the ground, and Shizuku goes to escape but ends up leaning against an electric power pole and throwing up. After Shizuku punches Kouta, Kouta totally forgets about capturing him.

Kouta runs at Shizuku, and kicks him to the ground before climbing on top of him and punching him over and over in the face. He continues to punch him despite Shizuku trying to guard his face, thinking only that he wants to mess up his pretty face. Forgetting where he is completely, he pushes Shizuku’s face into his own vomit.

Suddenly someone grabs him from behind, pulling both his arms up behind him. Glancing behind him, he sees that the foreign man from before who kicks him him the stomach until Kouta can’t breath. With barely the strength to resist, Kouta bites him in the arm. It seems to hurt him a lot, because he lets go of Kouta and Kouta gets one kick in before turning to face Shizuku. Shizuku throws an empty bottle at Kouta, who dodges it and it hits the bar window behind him breaking the glass.

Shizuku goes to escape but some onlookers grab him. Kouta feels like he isn’t himself, similarly to how he feels when he’s with Mitsuko, he feels like there’s a different him living inside himself. This other him is impulsive, unreasonable, violent, self interested, and unable to consider consequences. For some reason, the other him rushes one of the onlookers holding Shizuku and punches him setting off a brawl.

Kouta is wrenched to the ground, and his face stepped on. Beyond the feet of the crowd he can see that the police have arrived, and it is then that he returns to himself and thinks that it’s all over. They’ll be arrested on the crimes of inflicting bodily injury and damage to property and detained. Kouta thinks about how this means that he won’t be able to go to the second day of his internship and thinks, ‘Mitsuko, I’m sorry’. The police force him up off the ground, and he wipes at his dirty face, his eyes tearing up a little.


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