Editors: sleepchaser, Katie_WanderingFujoshi, ASplashofMusic
I dreamt of my past over and over again after Allen’s death.
I dreamt of the delightful days when I was with Allen every second of every day.
He would wake me up before dawn, and we would fetch water to clean the orphanage together. After that, we would perform errands for the villagers and receive tiny morsels of spare food to share with the other kids. Joy in our hearts, we would thank God for giving us life, albeit lives that were impoverished, before taking a nap in the cool shade of a large tree.
Back then, we had lived in a small orphanage in a poverty-stricken village.
Extremely short on helping hands, the old nun who had taken care of us had to complete most of the chores herself. For this reason, even the youngest children would help out however they could. Otherwise, we couldn’t eat. Despite doing our best, though, we would still feel the bite of winter each year.
I had once whispered to Allen, “…I wonder if we can eat until we’re full in heaven.”
And he had answered, “Maybe we can even eat some meat.”
He had never allowed himself to cry directly, always averting his eyes to gaze at the sky at times like this.
My heart lay heavy with sorrow at the sight of that single drop of tear sliding down his cheek.
I felt pathetic. I didn’t want to make Allen cry. And yet because of my weakness…
Once the old nun had passed away, apprehension and anxiety struck me. And these emotions could be discerned in my voice when I had asked him, “…Will you die?”
Allen laughed upon hearing this. A gentle smile gracing his face, he stroked my hair.
But he didn’t deny it.
“I’ll definitely die one day,” he said. Even at times like this, he wouldn’t lie just to pacify me.
“It’s okay though. We’ll certainly meet again one day. If we do good deeds during our time here on earth, then we would reunite in heaven. But if we do bad things, then we could only meet in hell. So let’s do our best to go to heaven,” he said, a troubled smile playing on his lips as he continued to stroke my hair.
In the end, these bitter-sweet memories would bring me misery.
Because of them, I drowned in fear, driven to the very edge of despair.
Allen. My precious childhood friend.
His sunny smile sank into a pool of blood, and his warm hand grew as cold as ice.
Although his body was larger than mine, he felt… oh so very light in my arms.
“Ah!!!” My eyes burst open, my body jolting from the mattress. With my breathing rough and jagged, I attempted to catch my breath.
In the silence of the night, the rapid pounding of my heart seemed deafening. Sweat clung to my skin and adrenaline surged through my veins, causing my muscles to stiffen. But I endured it as I took deep breaths, trying to compose myself.
I really wanted to gouge out my heart, beating oh so vigorously, with my bare hands.
I hated it. Hated that it continued to beat even after I had lost Allen.
Ever since I started sleeping beside Ilya, my dreams have changed a hint, however.
In my dream, as I had embraced Allen’s corpse, suspended on the edge of despair, someone drew nearer to me and stroked my head. Ilya.
Ilya had crouched down in front of me and stared deep into my eyes, a reassuring smile sliding across his lips. As if comforting a child.
“Don’t cry, Riley. We were able to meet again, see?”
And tears spilled out from my throbbing eyes.
When I had woken up, Ilya was sleeping peacefully beside me, lips slightly parted as he lay nestled in the warm covers.
Nevertheless, I often couldn’t believe my eyes. My yearning for Allen might have caused me to hallucinate, so I always pressed a finger lightly to his chest to check if he was real.
The spirited cadence of his heartbeat beneath my fingers proved Ilya was alive.
Such a lively, helpless sound akin to a small animal’s. I couldn’t help but find it so lovely.
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.
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But Allen came to reunite with me. He even refused heaven to accompany me.
I was so overjoyed about his return that I completely broke down, tears streaming down my face. I should be grateful and not wish for more, but my unsightly desire to monopolize him reared its ugly head.
We were always together at the orphanage, but now, doing this was hard.
My mind drifted further away as I recalled Ilya’s words from before. “Look at me, Riley. Ilya is the one who’s alive now, not Allen. Allen died when he was twelve.”
Amidst the steam-filled bathroom, Ilya had held my hand to his chest.
His heartbeat had fluttered at a pace faster than normal. His cheeks had held a healthy flush, as his droopy eyes, containing restrained fury, pierced straight into me.
In vivid detail, I recalled that time Ilya had rested his forehead on my shoulder, exposing his thin neck.
Upon seeing the naked expanse of skin, I felt the desire to touch it rise within me. But I had forcibly suppressed it.
I didn’t know if Ilya could hear my heart thrashing against my chest then, but he had relaxed.
As he placed his entire weight on me, he rubbed his forehead on my shoulder.
Most likely, Ilya misunderstood why I had paled.
It wouldn’t be a lie to say I was sad Allen had sacrificed his life for me. It was impossible for me to reconcile with that truth and habituate myself to an altered reality without him.
But more importantly, I was upset that Ilya told the swordsman what happened when he had been at death’s door.
Never had I imagined that he would tell it to a complete stranger before telling me.
What had Allen thought at that time, and how had he fought? Hadn’t he been afraid? Hadn’t he felt resentful toward me?
Though I craved for an explanation, I was too afraid to ask him about his last words.
After he informed me he had told the swordsman, I stood there stunned. Like someone had splashed cold water on me.
Ilya was the one alive now, while Allen had died at the tender age of twelve.
But as far as I’m concerned, they were a single being, the only one for me. And yet…
Ilya was very kind.
Adored by everyone just like how Allen had been highly regarded in the orphanage…
Even that swordsman, who had been so suspicious of him before, frequently came to visit Ilya now after simply having a talk with him.
As I listened to their frivolous conversation, my agitated heart filled with dark suppositions.
I felt annoyed, even though Ilya had merely greeted and brushed the tip of his nose against a horse! I’d become so unbridled!
I longed to return to Tobol village.
To that hidden place behind the cross, under the trapdoor.
Only Allen and I knew of that place. It was where he had locked me up when the demon struck our village.
I anticipated keeping Ilya captive there as well.
Where no one could hurt him.
I desperately yearned to create a world where no one could disturb us.
My feelings were too despicable to be called affection, too repugnant to be called love.
I was determined to hide my distorted obsession and dirty desire.
Yet I failed to do so.
It was when I had seen Ilya about to leave the room. Just like that, my repulsive cravings had burst out without any warning.
When Ilya had touched the doorknob, Allen’s figure during the time he had locked me in our hideout overlapped with Ilya’s back.
I feared he would disappear should I fail to restrain him.
I worried he would die should he step foot outside alone.
So there was nothing that could convince me to let him leave.
In one fluid motion, I had pushed him down against the side of the bed, towering over his delicate body.
As I clung to him, begging him to stay, I caged his hands and feet with mine, pinning him down with my body.
Ilya didn’t resist.
He had only glanced at me with surprise, before gradually relaxing.
Then he had rubbed his cheeks against my head, trying to soothe me. Whispered that he wouldn’t go anywhere. Ilya accepted all of me. Dirty desire and all.
Still in a daze, he had whispered,”Hey… Do you like me that much?”
However, I couldn’t categorize this feeling simply as “like.”
It wasn’t such a gentle and beautiful emotion.
Rather, I would love to confine him in a place unknown to anyone but me.
To conceal him from everybody. To take him apart so that I could get to know everything about him.
To absorb every inch of him. From the depths of his body, right down to the obscure corners of his soul. To be so entwined with him that he could never leave me again.
So that nothing would be reflected in his eyes other than me.
In response, I interlaced our fingers. At that, a light chuckle left Ilya’s lips.
Tightening his grip on my fingers too, he sighed quietly in my ear. “I also like you.”
I knew that. I understood that.
He liked me. That’s why he staked his life for my survival.
But he only liked me as a childhood friend.
My “like” was different.
The “like” I coveted was fundamentally different.
Ilya’s words brought out from my heart a contradictory blend of happiness and misery.
Tobol village was located north of the royal capital.
It was a disadvantaged land, with harsh winters that persisted around six months every year. To add to their misfortune, the trees in the forests around the village stood tall and thin. And the wood from these trees could easily start forest fires in the dry winter.
Initially, I was going to trek back home on my own. But now, atop Chescal, I slowly advanced along the path heading toward the village.
As I peeked at Ilya riding his horse next to me, he gazed back at me with a small smile and a tilt to his head.
“Hm? What is it?” he inquired brightly.
“I think we should set up camp soon.”
“Already? Even though the sun is still high?”
I explained to Ilya, who was confused, that we needed time to search for a water source and pick up firewood while there was still some light present.
I also urged him to make haste, since the days in the mountains ended faster than one would expect.
Ilya nodded and flashed me a smile, gaze glittering.
The tip of his nose, which had reddened from the cold wind, made him resemble a child. Even this part of him appeared adorable to me.
“By all means, Sir Riley~ So, we need to find a water source first, right?”
I nodded. Then I raised my head to the sky, squinting as I checked the position of the sun again.
Since the day I had begged him to not leave me, Ilya stopped distancing himself from me.
Whenever we sat next to each other, he would scooch closer to me until our shoulders almost touched. And when we ate a meal facing each other, his eyes would glisten with joy as he graced me with a smile.
While bathing, he would help me wipe my back. He would even slip into the same bed as me at night!
Well, his reason was that he felt cold. And his feet really were cold to the touch. So, I reckoned he was telling the truth.
He cast his smile at me from a much closer distance than before. At this point, I couldn’t stay calm anymore. Was he plotting something?
After setting up camp and preparing the necessary materials, we sat around the campfire for dinner.
Our meal consisted of only hard bread and soup.
Even so, the soup with Kieri seeds warmed my chest.
We fell into a comfortable silence as I relished the nostalgic taste. After reminiscing for a while, I finally broke the silence.
Hesitant, I said, “Ilya… There’s something I had always wanted to ask you. But I couldn’t bring myself to for quite a long time.”
Ilya widened his eyes in surprise, tilting his head to the side in a silent question.
His face, when illuminated by the crackling bonfire, seemed so similar to Allen’s. I closed my eyes to cast aside that image.
Ilya was not Allen.
The soft contours of his cheeks weren’t chiseled. His bright eyes always sparkled. The campfire dyed his cheeks red.
Ilya was unlike Allen of the past. Pale even when illuminated by flames.
“…Back then―” My voice choked up. I couldn’t articulate anything else after that.
There were many questions I wanted to ask him.
There were also many things I wanted to say to him.
But more importantly… I really wished to apologize.
If I had been stronger than I was back then, I could have protected Allen from the demon.
Exactly like what Allen had done for my sake on that calamitous day, I should’ve trapped Allen in the basement and walked out, revealing that I was the hero.
I had killed Allen with my weakness―
“Riley.” Ilya’s voice broke me out of my despondent reverie. It was only when I refocused my vision that I noticed his sharp gaze literally inches away from my eyes.
The tips of our noses touched, and his hot breath brushed against the corner of my mouth.
Yet, before I could tremble from the delectable sensation, Ilya’s soft lips met mine.
Support the author! Here’s the tutorial made by “Shido Within” on how to buy digital books at CMOA. The tutorial specifies on how to buy digital manga, but I think it should work for novels too. After registering, you can click here to go to Icy’s CMOA page. Apparently, you can also buy this book at Bookwalker Japan! You’ll need to create a Bookwalker Global account first, then connect to VPN before clicking here to go to Icy’s Bookwalker page (or you can go there from the RAW Page on Icy’s ToC!). Here’s the guide on how to purchase books on Bookwalker JP Store! After purchasing, you can turn of the VPN and download to read the book on any device! (Thank you Shadow-san for telling me about this! ˭̡̞(◞⁎˃ᆺ˂)◞*✰) The difference is that if you’re using CMOA, you need to pay using your credit card, but with Bookwalker, you can pay using PayPal! Very efficient!
Support the translator! How about buying this translator a cup of bubble tea to boost her motivation and power (to defeat the wall of text!)? As a small thank you, you can read one advanced draft chapter of Icy ahead from schedule! /dogeza