As Subaru’s long monologue came to an end, Kenichi, listening, closed his eyes as if lost in thought and fell completely silent. Seeing his father like this, Subaru tried desperately to seal in the weakness and cowardice from leaking from his throat.
Having been granted a chance to reflect, through that small change in his mental state, however little it may have been, he saw the grotesqueness of his own heart.
Whether it was now, or before, Subaru had always pushed the consequences of his actions onto others to clean up.
Because he lacked the courage to give up on himself, and because he wanted to be the tragic hero rather than the villain of his own world, without saying a word, he had silently waited for someone else to volunteer to be the villain.
He thought that if he stopped going to school, if he passed his days in slothfulness inside his room, if he continued on being his foolish self――one day Kenichi will kick down the door, and put an end to Subaru’s world.
Unconsciously, in the deepest depth of his heart, he looked forward to such an ending to his slothful days.
It was while his mind was trapped in this deadlock, that he came to the Parallel World. Then even there, Subaru continued to exhibit his complacency, until――
Kenichi, who had been deep in thought, opened his eyes, and called to Subaru’s name.
The sound of that call pulled Subaru’s consciousness back from the sea of contemplation and tossed it back into the reality before him――his father’s face, directly in front of his eyes, and,
His forehead struck by a terrible impact, Subaru yelped as sparks flew scattering all over. Holding his forehead under the devastating pain, he found Kenichi standing in front of the bench, looking down at him.
[Dad: See, Subaru. That was my love-filled FATHER HEADBUTT, a single-blow of fury]
[Subaru: You called a headbutt and then switched to an axe-kick! You even put your face up close for a masterful feint!!]
[Dad: That trick only worked ‘cause you were seated and I was standing! Eech, my body’s grown stiffer. Nothing like what it used to be. That’s what I get for slacking on my after-shower stretches]
With a weird look on his face, Kenichi started doing some stretching routines. Watching his father while giving the part of his head that took the impact a rub, half crying from the pain, Subaru wasn’t sure what to do with this completely unexpected reaction. Whatever Subaru did expect, at least it wasn’t this,
[Dad: But, Subaru. You know, you……you really are a blockhead]
That unsugarcoated remark cracked him in two, and Subaru couldn’t help but make a gurgling sound with his throat.
Looking down at Subaru, Kenichi crossed his arms with a snort,
[Dad: Going all “nieh-nieh-nieh-nieh” and worried about everything…… Which part of me and mom did you get that kind of self-pity from? You’re totally taking after your mom’s younger brother, you know. The short, fat bald one with that face that looks like he’s always worried about something]
[Subaru: Well that’s just going too far……although yes, that uncle was definitely the reason I made it my life goal not to end up fat and bald when I grow up]
The father and son at least agreed on unreservedly burning that uncle who had absolutely anything to do with this.
While somewhere far away, under the same sky, their unsuspecting relation was given this scathing review, Kenichi continued with an aggravated look [To begin with,]
[Dad: There were all sorts of things that pissed me off, but there was one thing most of all. It just pisses me off that you thought by taking that passive attitude you can get me to stop loving you. With that shut-in-drop-out-apathy-syndrome, you think your own father is just going to go berserk and rip you a new one? ……What are you, stupid? You want me to scold you? Are you a little girl who didn’t get enough physical intimacy when you were little? Wasn’t all that wrestling I do with you every morning enough?]
[Subaru: The way you said that was misleading in a few places but the gist of it was right so I can’t really refute it……]
[Dad: No, if you want me to give up on you, you’ll have to do a lot better than that. Who’s going to give up on a child who’s shutting himself up in a cask? If you want me to hate you, you better go murder half of humanity or something. Then I’ll hate ya]
[Subaru: We don’t even see that kind of villain in Shounen Mangas anymore! Who’s gonna go and do something that absurd!?]
[Dad: ――Well what you said to me was just as absurd wasn’t it]
Hearing him say this out loud, Subaru was at a loss for words.
In front of him, Kenichi bent down his waist and met Subaru’s eyes, [We clear?] he asked,
[Dad: Even if you are slow as a snail, too dumb to remember the multiplication tables, or go bragging on self-harm blogs to get attention……]
[Subaru: I’m not that slow or dumb or stupid……]
[Dad: Even if you are that slow and dumb and stupid, I’m not going to hate you or give up on you. Isn’t that obvious? I am your dad, and you are my son]
With an exasperated sigh at the end of those words, Kenichi straightened up his back. Subaru looked up, at his father standing tall. Bathed in his son’s gaze, Kenichi said,
[Dad: Still, just what kind of superman did you take me for. From what you said, it’s as if I’m some SUPER transcendent-technology PERFECT-flawless-HITECH-superhero, you know]
[Subaru: That’s interpreting it too much]
[Dad: You just don’t know it, but I have all kinds of troubles, regrets, and failures too, I also cry and shout and get rejected……yeah, I’m nothing special at all. At least I got a nice-looking face, though. Not like you]
[Subaru: Overconfidence strike-two]
[Dad: When I was your age I wasn’t all that mature either. Sure I got a little famous, but it was nothing particularly special. I could stop time a little, kinda, but that was it]
[Subaru: Should’ve used that when you got hit by a car last year]
Three-part joke. (*Two mundane statements followed by a punchline. Or could also refer to three jokes told in succession. In Manzai comedy, the “straight-man” objects to the “funnyman”’s statements – TC)
The three straight-man rallies perfectly exchanged, Kenichi held out his palm for a high-five. But, just as their palms came into contact, one hand grabbed the other,
[Dad: Now let me twist the wrist of that dumbass blockhead pain-in-the-ass son of mine to straighten out his character a bit…..]
[Subaru: Ow! OwOW! Wa-wait, my wrist is gonna……Owwwhurts!]
[Dad: ――But I kinda get the feeling that won’t be necessary, you already look pretty beaten-up as it is]
His twisted wrist being released, Subaru stood up giving his hand a shake while whining about the pain. Staring at Subaru with one eye closed, Kenichi made a small snort with his nose,
[Dad: I got that feeling this morning, but just now it’s like something suddenly changed about you again. What’s with that]
[Subaru: I told you, didn’t I. It’s, because I have someone I like]
A silver brightness, was leading Natsuki Subaru by the hand.
[Subaru: And there’s also, someone who told me they loved me, even in spite of what I am]
A warm, sky-blue radiance, was tenderly pushing on Natsuki Subaru’s back.
[Subaru: They, don’t know I am Natsuki Kenichi’s son. When I am with them, I am only Natsuki Subaru……No,]
Shaking his head, he fixed his eyes on his father standing in front of him,
[Subaru: No matter who I am in front of, I am always Natsuki Subaru. I brought it on myself to carry that strange signboard on my back, when I was actually being crushed by a weight that was never there. I finally understand it, now]
[Dad: Well that was super late. I’m the big black pillar holding this family up, here. I never asked you to be the head of the family, who gave you the idea to carry a burden like that. I should smack ya]
[Subaru: You did plenty of stuff more painful than smacking already!]
Seeing Subaru stomping on the ground in protest of the previous attacks, Kenichi laughed [My bad my bad] like he was apologizing on someone else’s behalf. Then, squinting his eyes into thin lines, Kenichi continued [Compared to that,]
[Dad: You said there was someone you like, and then you said there’s someone who likes you, but, what? You… are you a two-timer? With only a Subaru-rank?]
[Subaru: Don’t call it a Subaru-rank! Although I totally realize it’s too luxurious for my level! But so what! There can be two stars in the highest place, what’s wrong with that!]
It was not just him being defiant, for those were Subaru’s honest feelings at that moment.
He loved Emilia. And he loved Rem. Those two made Subaru stand up and walk forward, whether it was to stand in front of Kenichi or to face the self of his past, they gave him the strength to not run away.
All the sea of stars that once covered over Subaru’s sky――all the glittering starlight he once saw gazing upwards.
Overhead now, blinding, brighter than the light of all those stars combined, was the star of those two’s radiance. And all around that brightest star, even the stars that should have vanished long ago now came to glow with a different light.
It was outside of his shut-in room, inadvertently summoned to the Parallel World, through desperation, suffering, sorrow, wailing as he cried, screaming in anger, charging in with a smile on his face, enthusiastically advancing forward, that Subaru won this starlit sky.
[Dad: Well, that’s alright. Do as you like. Long as you get a perfect ending out of it without breaking the law, I won’t have any objections. Looks like, you got some talent for duping girls too, huh]
[Subaru: If I had talents like that I wouldn’t have failed so miserably on my first day of highschool and ended up all alone. I can’t pull off miracles like you, dad]
[Dad: I don’t think that’s true, you know? You’re my son, after all. And although you got all sorts of things wrong, that’s the one thing you got most wrong]
[Subaru: That one?]
Tapping the fingers on his cross arms, Kenichi answered the confused looking Subaru with an [En], nodding,
[Dad: I may be hyperactive in front of you and mom, but dad knows how to sort out the TIME-PLACE-OCCASION for these thing, you know? I was always like this in front of you, so maybe you got the wrong idea, but if you act like dad in front of everyone, ofcourse things are gonna go pear-shaped, oy]
[Subaru: Wa, wai-wait……]
[Dad: It’s obvious, isn’t it? If you see a guy with this kind of TENSION on the first meeting, you’ll be scared to even come near him, right? From there until you become good friends, you still have to straighten up your collar. You only get to take off a button on your shirt when it’s hot out. Otherwise, it’s patience from April to June]
That was the shocking truth. In reality, even his father changes his attitude depending on the target, just like a normal person.
Without knowing this, he had believed that if he only acted like his father, he would be loved by those around him just like his father was. Such was the shallowness of his mind.
[Subaru: All that time I spent stagnant……]
[Dad: Well, it wasn’t all useless, I think. In fact, you got to become who you are now because of it. Those stars you found, aren’t they worth the time you spent looking for them?]
Subaru, hugging his head in regret, lifted up his face as he heard those words. He could answer that question without a moment’s hesitation, for he already knew the answer, beyond all doubt.
[Subaru: ――No, it was worth it. No matter how many chances I get, I would want to chase after the same stars as I am now. So, I think I like the way I am now]
[Dad: Is that so……Then, that was all great, wasn’t it?]
Relieved to see Subaru resolve this in his heart, Kenichi smiled.
And facing that smile, Subaru felt the heavy lump in his chest dropping with a thud. The darkness within him cleared, as if all the feelings of gloom had been washed away.
Although it was a selfish and conceited emotion, to Subaru right now, it was salvation.
After facing his past, saying goodbye to his old self while embracing and accepting all that he had been, he was proud of this present self that was now walking forward.
[Subaru: I’m sorry, for all the times I closed myself off. I’m sorry I made you worry with all the emotion I can’t sort out and refusing to go to school. I know I was wrong now. I’m really sorry]
[Dad: It’s ok, you don’t have to. It’s my fault for not realizing how amazingly awesome you imagined me to be. I should be the one to say sorry, for being way too awesome in your eyes!]
[Subaru: Even though it’s a fact, after you put it like that I totally don’t want to admit it now!]
[Dad: Hahaha, no need to be embarrassed. You’re my son, and you have my blood in your veins. You definitely have the potential to become someone half as awesome as me]
[Subaru: Only half? I thought new generations are supposed to overtake the old ones]
[Dad: Well you also got half of you from your mom. With my awesomeness and good looks, combined with the other part from your mom, they kinda canceled each other out, you know]
[Subaru: Sorry mom, I have no counter to that!]
Unable to say anything to exonerate his mom who wasn’t there, Subaru clapped his hands together and apologized to thin air. Amused to see this gesture from him, Kenichi shook his head,
[Dad: Well then, that’s a load off your shoulders, right? All the walking-in-place from before is already done, there’s no point dwelling on them anymore, all that matters now is what you do from now on]
[Subaru: Yeah, en. I’m, sorry I made you worry……]
[Dad: If you want to apologize for something like that, you should take the time to properly repay our kindness. One day, you’ll have to take good care of me and mom you know, my eldest son]
――As he heard those words, Subaru grew still.
He had made up his mind to apologize for everything that had happened before, and he was determined to confess all the feelings of his present self.
He had accomplished it well, the years of accumulated barriers between them had melted, and he could now face his parents with a clear heart.
Everything he had wanted to say up to now――
Then ―― the moment he was about to say “From now on”, what surged up instead through Subaru’s entire body was,
[Subaru: ……Ple… please forgive me]
[Subaru: I’m so……I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…… I’m, I’m sorry I’m sorry……I’m so sorry……]
The confused Kenichi’s voice came from in front of him. Yet Subaru could no longer make out his face.
The flood of overflowing tears had blocked up Subaru’s vision, and the shapes of the world grew blurred. Covering his face with his palms, he desperately tried to wipe away the stream of tears. But even wiping, and wiping, he could not stop the tears from flowing. They cannot be stopped, and would not be stopped.
[Subaru: Forgive me please forgive me……I, I’m……There’s only, you two……I’m sorry, I’m so sorry……]
――He had realized it.
Somewhere within his heart, Subaru had realized it long ago.
From the moment he was summoned to this Parallel World, bathed under the light of the sun, when he squinted his eyes within the blinding flash of that instant, as if it were a revelation, Subaru knew.
――That he would never return to his original world again.
Having spilled his heart to his father, having confessed the dark emotions that had accumulated inside his chest, having been granted forgiveness, having been lent the strength to walk forward, having been taught and brought up to know how,
[Subaru: Despite all of that, I…… I can’t repay you anything…… I will, never get to see you again…… I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m sorry……I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry]
The tears would not stop. He was about to fall to his knees.
But even so, Subaru remained standing, because stopping him from collapsing, was a hug from in front that wrapped the crying Subaru’s body within its arms.
The palms were strong and broad, they pressed his son, who was almost as tall as he was, tightly into him, yet, like consoling a weeping child, they patted and caressed his back.
[Dad: ――No matter where or when, you’re still a pain-in-the-ass son. Geez]
As he said this, he continued holding onto the sobbing Subaru, soothingly, and lovingly, and did not let go.
※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
[Dad: Have you calmed down?]
[Subaru: ――Yeah. Sorry. That must be, really annoying]
[Dad: No kidding. Just look at my shirt. I’ve got dried out tears and snot all over my chest now. I’m too embarrassed to even wander around the neighborhood like this]
“Haha”, using his fingers to give Subaru, who had stopped crying, a flick to the forehead, Kenichi let out a vulgar laugh.
With a grin, he stared at Subaru’s face, that was now swollen from the tears. Seeing those eyes filled with sadness and apology, Kenichi sighed,
[Dad: I don’t know why you cried so hard, but that must have been kinda embarrassing for ya, so I’ll keep it a secret. Try to thank me as best you can, ok?]
[Subaru: ……Aah. Thank you. Truly, from the bottom of my heart, more than anyone else in the world]
[Dad: Well I’m gonna blush if you put it like that]
Scratching his face looking embarrassed, Kenichi chuckled. Unable to stare at his father’s face directly for too long, Subaru averted his eyes.
Kenichi shrugged his shoulders, and flapped his hands around like he was trying to drive away insects,
[Dad: Gees, now get yourself back home, you crybaby. Dad’s in the mood for walking around a bit more, so I’ll take the long way back. If I’m seen with ya while you’re sobbing, people are gonna think something strange]
[Subaru: ……They’ll wonder what on earth a pair of father and son our age could be doing together, huh]
[Dad: Yeah no kidding. If I go back with you like this, my friends are gonna hear about it and embarrass me with it, you know]
[Subaru: That line could be fatal depending on who you say it to, so be careful how you use it!]
Inadvertently blurting out another straight-man counter to his father’s words, Subaru’s heart was stabbed with the pain of nostalgia. Clenching his teeth and forcing himself to turn his face away, Subaru managed to spit out the words [So uh],
[Subaru: I’ll be going on ahead, then. Try not to get questioned by the police or anything]
[Dad: Sorry to disappoint ya, but all the police officers around here know me. If they come and say hello I can’t really ignore them, can I]
[Subaru: Just please don’t do anything except say hello back]
That attitude from Kenichi hadn’t changed at all. Once again feeling saved by it, Subaru felt disgusted by how his own powerlessness was still no better than before. No matter where he was, he still had to rely on others to protect him. He was so hopeless that way.
But more than anything, he didn’t want to show his weakness in front of Kenichi anymore.
So after exhaling a sharp breath, as if he had made up his mind, Subaru turned his back to his father and swung out his step. And with hurried steps, he tried to disappear from that place as quickly as he could.
[Dad: ――Hey, Subaru]
From behind, Kenichi’s voice called to him, and his legs inadvertently stopped moving.
[Dad: You’re, going through all sorts of things too, huh. So, I just say this one thing]
[Dad: Give it your best. I’m counting on you, son]
The fear of being counted on, the fear of disappointing.
The worry that he would betray his father’s expectations had grasped Subaru for so long, refusing to let go. It was because of it, that to Subaru, his father’s expectations had turned into a symbol of fear――
[Subaru: ――Yeah, leave it to me. Dad]
Still with his back turned, Subaru stuck a finger toward the sky, and,
[Subaru: My name is Natsuki Subaru. Son of Natsuki Kenichi. ――Therefore I can accomplish anything, and will do anything it takes. Your son is really awesome, you know]
[Dad: Yeah, I know. Half of you came from me, after all!]
“HAHAHA”, at the end of those words Kenichi showered a volley of laughter upon Subaru’s back.
Listening to its sound, a smile came onto Subaru’s lips.
With his back to his father, he swung out his strides.
His knees were no longer shaking. His heart no longer wavered. He only stared straight ahead as he walked.
――The one whose back he had always watched from behind, will be watching him from behind from now on.
Amazed, by how much strength he could draw from a fact as simple as this.
Subaru continued walking, without stopping.
-=Chapter 18 End=-
I’m on break at work right now >_<
I can’t write too much, except thank you so much everyone, for coming to read, supporting me, being so patient when I’m busy, and leaving me all the wonderful comments. It might take me a few days to get a chance to read them, and it’s been a while since I’ve been able to reply to everyone who’s sent me stuff on PayPal, but I will get to it!!
Thank you so, so, so, so much, Palmer L, Jesse O, Robert T M, Luke C, James Q, Cyle H, Spencer N, CLarke J, Sune S, Sid A, Luis P, Sonwukong, Raf H, David S, Daegor, Mohit A, Anthony C, Robert B, Paul M W, Morten O, Mathiew F, Terry F, Marek W, Erlend S N, Nelson B, Anh M D V, Michal Z, Peganuss, Jun P, Andrew B, Nope, Dustin V F, Alexander, John W, Jesse A, Thong N, Ben R, Bacon, Petr H, Robbie L, Xuatz, Ristelle, Piotr H, Dohmeh, Tyler Y, Sid K, John L, King H, Pergzedref V, Kailz, Jonathan B, NJRoss, WIll, John B, Andrew, Daniel H, Alora T, Ashley H, Lolfoolor, TJ Scott, Aqua Dragon, Mark K, Ben S, Devon Cooper, Ryan S, Quinn C, Daniel B, Zarko B, Edsel R, Aiman Z, Shippolover, Matthew K, Shahril A!!!
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And anonymous guys who hopefully I remembered to keep anonymous
I hoped you liked this chapter, I cried a few times translating it… let me know if you found any missing words or typos, I’ll really appreciate it :3
I asked for more days off next week, so I’ll try to release faster while I can