Editor: Katie_WanderingFujoshi, sleepchaser
“Riley? Why are you crying?” As soon as I had said that, I closed my mouth in a panic. Those words had spilled from my lips on the spur of the moment.
Although the man before me hardly resembled the angel I had known, I could tell he was still the same inside.
As silent tears flowed down his cheeks, only his scarlet eyes trembled, the rest of his body motionless.
It troubled me to see him like this. Out of reflex, I stood on my tiptoes, reaching toward him. Slipped my hand under his hood and ruffled his hair.
My body had moved on its accord, following my heart.
After all, Riley was crying. I had no choice but to comfort him.
I didn’t even think about how I was ruffling the hair of an adult man, or the reason for his tears.
Because my highest priority was to have him stop crying.
“Err, sorry about my companion,” said the swordsman. “Are you an acquaintance of his?”
“Um, something like that, I guess?”
“Huh, I see. But this guy and I haven’t been in this country these past ten years. So how is a young man like you acquainted with him?” asked Riley’s companion in a sharp manner.
All of a sudden, Riley threw his arms around me in a tight embrace, shocking a scream from my lips.
Large, hard, and hot. I could easily tell just how fit his body was, just how muscular, even with the layers of clothes over his body.
My thoughts completely halted as I scanned the room, eyes darting left and right.
Riley’s companion cut a shocked figure.
On the other hand, most of the customers seemed amused. My father and brother were… wait, wait, what’s with that kitchen knife? They’d be killing their renowned hero!
I tried to get Riley’s attention by calling his name, but he wouldn’t release his hold on me. However, I somehow managed to take a deep breath.
I looked at my father, my brother, and Riley’s companion. Then as clearly as possible, I said, “Sorry, Dad, Brother. I’ll need a short break. Mister Companion, please excuse me as well. Riley, let’s go.”
Pulling the hem of Riley’s cloak, I led him to my room.
How should I deceive him? Try as I might, I couldn’t think of an answer, and the further I climbed up the stairs, the more at a loss I felt.
Riley had not stopped crying since the tears fell, and once he had seen my room, his sobs only grew.
This was just my guess, but maybe my room reminded him of our room at the orphanage? The desk and bed were arranged in the same way. Even the space of the room, or lack of it, was similar.
I wasn’t completely sure, but the scent lingering in this space also seemed similar.
That’s because I used a blend of olive oil soap since young. A blend that smelled suspiciously similar to the one Riley and I used to make together.
Then finally, a single word escaped Riley’s lips. “Allen.”
“No, you’re wrong, Riley. Allen is already dead. I’m Ilya, the son of the tavern owner.”
I helped remove his cloak, making him sit on the bed. I brought over a chair and sat in front of him.
Although his bright honey-colored hair was now duller, and his body had grown so large and muscular that it couldn’t be called angelic anymore…
He was still Riley.
I reached out to this awkward man. A man whose tears rolled down his expressionless face, a face that seemed frozen.
With a hint of hesitation, I ruffled his hair once more. “…Have you been well?”
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
Yes, that had been a slip of the tongue. Words that had definitely been thoughtless. Yet, they had still left my lips.
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Pcrafjv, atf kbgvr atja kbeiv ifjnf tlr ilqr rtbmxfv wf. “Ciifc.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“I won’t forgive you.”
“I’m really sorry.”
In one fluid motion, Riley yanked me toward him. I fell into his embrace.
I had thought about this earlier, but he really had a thick chest now. Then again, it made sense since he had defeated the demon king.
Rather, was I thin? Probably. Like my mother in this life, I had light bones. Although I had some muscles, I looked delicate because of that.
Still, as a sixteen-year-old young man, I felt complicated being held like this.
…I’ll forgive him since it’d been a long time.
“You’ve worked hard,” I whispered, wrapping my arms around his wide back. As if on cue, the strength of his embrace increased.
Sorry, but you’re kind of hurting me, Sir Riley.
There was a vacant room next to mine.
It mirrored my own and had been my elder sister’s room before she married.
The room was too small to be a guest room, so it was mainly used for emergencies, like giving shelter to drunk guests. The fee was also cheap.
Why did I talk about this so suddenly? The answer was obvious.
It was because the hero had started working as an assistant for our tavern.
…No way. I couldn’t believe it. How could we possibly let the hero who saved this country, and possibly this world, do this kind of work?!
Didn’t he have something else to do?! Like, something related to whatever was important in this country? Ordinary people like me wouldn’t know, though!
Although he technically worked as an assistant here, he received no salary. In fact, he had refused it.
On the contrary, he paid the rent of an ordinary room for that small room. I had tried to refuse, but he didn’t allow any room for negotiation.
Furthermore, Riley basically didn’t use that room. He rented it for the sake of appearances in front of my parents. It became a place for just his luggage… And his luggage was just one bag. It was so small that I felt miserable looking at it, but I left that issue alone for now.
If you asked where Riley was sleeping… it was with me.
“It’s too cramped here.”
Don’t just reply with “yeah!” I was distressed by how much the bed was squeaking!
If he continued to sleep here every night, wouldn’t my bed break? Cut it out already!
While we did sleep like this back when I was Allen, we had only been twelve then. We’re much larger now!
I was sixteen and Riley was twenty-eight. We had both changed. Only our hearts remained the same.
And it was because of this softening heart that I couldn’t refuse him no matter what.
“Hey. Why did you believe that I’m Allen so easily? Didn’t you think I could be lying?”
Riley was a hero now.
It was needless to say how amazing he was. The hero who defeated the demon king and received a triumphal return.
“Hero Allen” was always somewhere in the newspapers, and his picture was a common sighting all over the city. The play recounting his tale was so popular that they had decided to extend the performance for many more days.
There would surely be many people who wanted to get closer to him. Even if they had to lie.
…I had considered this. To outright say I was the reincarnation of Allen sounded like a bad joke.
But Allen subverted my expectations again. “The moment I saw you, my heart grew chaotic.”
“Is it because our hair is the same color? There are plenty of brunets in this country.”
“Ah. Well this was the first time I had experienced this, so I’m not sure how to explain… Now that I think about it, I might have noticed it through instinct. That you were Allen.”
“The ‘Tobol’s Vegetable Stew’ made me feel nostalgic. In my opinion, no other dish tastes better,” muttered Riley, joy thick in his voice. It sounded completely different than it had in the past.
His voice was quiet, as if he were showing off an important treasure.
But my heart lay heavy with sadness from the loneliness and suffering I could make out from it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t speak.
He had not received a happy ending. Not at the slightest.
The village had burnt down and everyone there had perished in the flames. The soft-hearted Riley had to take up the sword to avenge their deaths. But in the end, no one would return.
Riley, who used to laugh shyly, could no longer laugh.
“Ilya, say my name.”
My visions blurred through the tears threatening to spill, distorting the view of the desk in front of me. I could feel Riley’s body heat through our clothes. Hot. So hot. I bit my lips and kept silent.
I held back my tears, but my eyes still burned from them.
Suddenly, darkness. Riley had covered my eyes with his hand. His palm was rougher than in the past, littered with calluses, and it reminded me of the time we had spent together.
The tone of his voice was too gentle.
As if he were coaxing me not to cry.
But my tears wouldn’t stop.
I didn’t regret what I had done back then.
If not for my actions, Riley would not be here today. I wished we could have survived together, but the demon wouldn’t have given up until they killed the “hero.”
I didn’t want Riley to die.
…But because of that, I gave Riley a deep trauma. He suffered so much that he couldn’t even laugh anymore.
What should I do?
What should I do to make Riley laugh again?
The tavern was bustling today.
This was probably due to the increasing number of people flocking to the royal capital as a consequence of the hero’s fame. Every inn was occupied, and even selling linens was profitable.
Of course, I still felt uncomfortable making the hero work in the tavern. But to be honest, he was also a great help.
If he only did some small errands, that would be great, but… he just did too much.
“Welcome! I’m sorry, but we are about to close—ah.”
The person who had opened the door just before closing time was Riley’s companion.
His eyes widened as soon as he had caught sight of Riley in uniform identical to mine… Well, of course he would be surprised. When all was said and done, he was aware of Riley’s identity as the hero.
Our excuse of “he’s just a regular guy who resembles the hero” wouldn’t work on him.
“Err, I’m sorry for putting the hero to work like this…”
“This is in accordance with my own will, Ilya,” said Riley. Then he turned to the swordsman. “Why are you here?”
But his only response was his expression.
If I had to put it in words, Riley’s companion seemed to be saying, “Isn’t it because of y-o-u! You always do things as you please!”
I understood his feelings.
Seven days ago, Riley had suddenly hugged a waiter at a bar and… that was that. We didn’t explain anything to him before running off together. I even had the sinking suspicion that he could not be any more infuriated than now.
But his face did it. I couldn’t help but laugh. Just what kind of face was that?
“This is how Allen makes me look bad, always getting on my nerves. Isn’t he cruel? Ahh, by the way, nice to meet you. I’m Elmer, a swordsman.”
“I’m Ilya… Riley, it’s hard to talk with you here. Go upstairs first.”
Just as I had expected. Elmer, the master swordsman. One of the great warriors who defeated the Demon King with the hero. He must’ve stood next to Riley during the return parade.
Slightly nervous, I laughed. But Riley’s gaze concerned me more.
If he kept staring at us with that faintly displeased expression, we wouldn’t be able to talk.
“It’s alright. I won’t disappear from your sight anymore,” I said.
It’s a promise. I tilted my head to convey that, and Riley’s face softened just a hint.
He headed to the door as he untied his apron, glancing back at us only once. His gaze swept past me to Sir Elmer. Then he turned away, his hair fluttering in the breeze.
As I braced myself for Riley’s response in the future, I turned to Sir Elmer.
His cheerfulness from prior had probably been an act. As soon as Riley had left the room, Sir Elmer’s gaze grew sharp with displeasure, piercing through me in scrutiny.
It stung my skin, but I composed myself. For his actions were reasonable.
Unlike Riley, who was convinced of my identity, Sir Elmer saw me as a suspicious person who had deliberately approached the hero.
Perhaps during the seven days since we had last met, he checked my identity. Some of the customers might have also come to check the situation of the hero.
“Ilya, sixteen years old. The second son of the owner of this tavern. We’ve never crossed paths before. Am I wrong?”
“No, you’re correct.”
“Then how did you ingratiate yourself with the hero?”
Where should I start? I was unsure how to narrate my experience…
I highly doubted he would believe me if I talked about my previous life, but lying to him was also not a good alternative.
I gathered my thoughts, straightened my back, and stared back into those sharp, piercing eyes.
Riley keep hugging Ilya after they reunited is just so… precious… And their relationship is just so… tender…
By the way, what do you guys think of Elmer? I’m sure he only means well for Riley! But I hope he won’t bully Ilya! (⁎˃ᆺ˂)
Also, I’m still looking for editor! Please apply if possible~
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Next chapter will come out at Friday/Saturday! Oh no, I’ll have to start translating again since my stockpile is disappearing… (*`д´*)