This is the last Gilles commission by Vibecheck. Thank you again for letting us all indulge in more Gilles, haha.
Note1: Interesting thing that I couldn’t get across, but Gilles always uses katakana to refer to people’s names while Makabe uses their kanji.
The last Arcadia of heavy smokers remaining at Cafe Rouge et Noir, the small smoking area at the rear entrance of the parking lot, was currently occupied by two men.
“Ah, shit, I feel so sluggish…”
Gilles leaned against the outer wall of the shop while mussing up his bangs which were slightly curly. The cigarette in his mouth was lit but, just like he said, it was hard to say he was enjoying smoking from his listless appearance.
“You look like you’re doing pretty good…”
At the end of Gilles’ resentful gaze was a nonchalant Makabe who was smoking.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t what do you mean me. You also drank till the morning, right? So why are you so energetic?”
Finally understanding him, Makabe smiled.
Last night, when Makabe went to a bar after work, he happened to meet Gilles there. It was nothing more than a coincidence but, as two people who frequently encountered outrageous things because of outrageous demands from their bosses, their conversation was unusually lively with the help of alcohol.
As a result, the two of them came out of the bar when it closed at 4 AM. It wasn’t like one of them held back the other. It just naturally became like that.
“Normally, one to two hours of sleep will get the alcohol out of your body.”
No, that definitely wasn’t normal. Gilles immediately commented in his mind at Makabe’s calm words.
He didn’t know when Makabe, who got off work at lunch yesterday, started drinking but when Gilles entered the bar it was around nine o’clock. He estimated that Makabe would have been drinking for at least six hours or more. Plus, as far as Gilles knew, Makabe mostly drank whiskey. The difference, at most, was whether it was on rocks or straight.
“… Is this the rumored ‘CRN Demon’?”
“Nothing, just talking to myself.”
Gilles casually ended the conversation there and gave a big yawn that he didn’t hide. Makabe sighed in exasperation at how Gilles was like a lifeless large dog.
“If you knew you had work tomorrow, you should have gone home earlier.”
“If I knew then would I drink to that time? It was supposed to be my day off today, but 10 minutes after I got into bed I had to rush off to work. Of all things, it was a morning shift.”
Makabe guessed everything through Gilles’ rapid prattling.
“Correct. Said he was accompanying the manager with outside work, so I need to go to the shop in his stead. Jeez, what a crazy morning call.”
“… A disaster, huh.”
“The usual, thanks.”
Gilles shrugged his shoulders, looking half-resigned.
The vice-manager, Arlen, was Gilles’ direct boss since before Cafe Rouge et Noir came to be. His business skills were outstanding to a terrifying extent, but the way he handled his employees was truly frightening.
Because he had seen Gilles being abused daily by Arlen, there was a slight tinge of sympathy in Makabe’s eyes. Makabe knew, better than anyone else, the pain of having a slave driver boss.
“I knew you guys were here.”
Here, Senna poked his head out from the back entrance.
“Hm? What’s up, Kawasagi?”
“It’s rare for you to come to the smoking area.”
“If I could, I wouldn’t want to come close to this place. Kurusu-san is calling for you two.”
Grimacing at the cigarette smoke, Senna urged the two of them to come into the shop with his eyes.
Makabe and Gilles spoke at the same time and looked at each other.
The moment Makabe and Gilles returned to the restaurant floor there was the sound of a small pop and then a faint smell of something burning.
“Hello, welcome back you two!”
Kurusu stood in front of the two completely bewildered men.
“… Is this some sort of newcomer hazing?”
It was basically customary to undergo Kurusu’s repeated deodorant attacks when returning from the smoking area, but it was their first time receiving a party cracker attack. Makabe brushed off the small confetti and paper streamers in his hair with his hand while being dumbfounded.
“What are you talking about? We’re celebrating. This is a celebration.”
“Your birthday, Makabe.”
“Today is September 24. Did you forget?”
“Ah, I completely forgot.”
“Wow, as usual, you’re treating this like it’s someone else’s business…”
Gilles couldn’t hold back the chuckle in his throat upon seeing the huge difference of enthusiasm.
“Isn’t this nice, Makabe? Getting a birthday celebration. Here, I’ll celebrate for you too.”
Gilles said this and intentionally picked up the confetti and paper streamers Makabe had just brushed off earlier before throwing them again at Makabe. Makabe told him to stop and stepped away from Gilles.
“Just to let you know, this isn’t just for Makabe. Lagrene-kun, your celebration is included too.”
“It seems like Kurusu-san received a call from the vice-manager. Lagrene-san, he said that because you’re going to be on a business trip on the actual date of the 29th we should celebrate your birthday together with Makabe-san’s, which is close. That man is surprisingly serious about these things.”
“… Arlen said that?”
Gilles turned around, looking as if he couldn’t believe that, and saw Senna, who had returned to the floor at some point, doing something at the counter.
“It’s prepared, Kurusu-san.”
“Thanks. Could you bring it over then?”
With a stretched out “okay”, Senna came out from behind the counter. He was carrying a large plate in his hands.
“Arlen did that, huh…”
Senna carried over a small adorably decorated cake to Gilles who still had a hard time believing this.
“There’s definitely something behind this.”
“You don’t have to worry. What Kashiwagi-kun said was true. This morning, I got a text from the vice-manager. Because of that, I made a cake for two in a hurry. By the way, it’s a bitter chocolate cake. You two don’t seem to really like sweet things.”
“It’s impossible to not have something underneath this, so now I’m scared in another way… But, well, I’ll just obediently accept this here.”
There was a slight smile mixed in with Gilles’ conflicted expression.
“Isn’t that nice, Lagrene? Here, congratulations.”
This time Makabe picked up the confetti and poured it over Gilles’ head.
“Dumbass, stop that!”
“I’m paying you back for earlier.”
“Hey, stop playing around and please take this. This plate is quite heavy.”
“That reminds me, Makabe, hold onto it just like that.”
When Makabe accepted the plate, Kurusu suddenly brought out his phone from the pocket of his apron.
“Hey, wait a minute. What are you taking a picture of!?”
Makabe was clearly flustered when he saw Kurusu turn on the camera mode and hold up his phone.
“One photo won’t hurt. Come on, I have to send a business report to the vice-manager, right? Here, Lagrene-kun, you too.”
“What business report is that!? Lagrene, say something.”
“Hm? Well, we’re here already, so this isn’t so bad once in a while, right? It’s something the vice-manager arranged.”
Makabe wondered who was it that had been bitterly cursing at the vice-manager earlier, but it was practically impossible to say that now and completely overturn the current situation.
“Come on now, you two have to get closer or you won’t fit into the photo.”
“Let’s do this then.”
Under Senna’s suggestion, Gilles put an arm around Makabe’s shoulder.
“Oh, that’s nice. Lagrene-kun, that’s a good atmosphere.”
“It’s not a good atmosphere. Get away!”
Makabe tried to brush aside Gilles but, because he was carrying the plate, it didn’t seem like he could resist much.
“What? Don’t be so cold. We’re buddies who drank the night away, right?”
“Oh? You two are that close?”
“Who’s close with who? Don’t say something weird like that!”
“Jeez, that’s why you Japanese people are such party poopers…”
“Hey, can we please hurry this up. The dinner rush is going to happen before we get to eat.”
The four voices, differing in enthusiasm, resounded discordantly on the restaurant floor. Meanwhile, the candles on the cake began to melt.
“Alright, anyway, I’m taking it!”
Having made no progress, Kurusu raised his voice.
“3, 2, 1!”
Like this, the photo was a snapshot of the noisy atmosphere and was stored in Kurusu’s phone.
—At the same time, at a certain place within Kaasa, notification of a new message reached the phones of two men.
“… What are those guys doing?”
Suou raised an eyebrow at the photo that was displayed in the message app they used for business.
“It’s proof that my subordinate and your subordinates are surprisingly getting along, Eiji Suou.”
Arlen, who had opened the same message app as Suou, suddenly smiled and then put away his phone.