Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Part 3 – Tarte Tatin Secret
Chapter 7 – Tarte Tatin
A sweet scent wafted over. What is this smell?
When Sui opened his heavy eyelids, he was on the living room sofa. He couldn’t grasp what time it was by looking out the window at the vermillion sun, so he looked at the clock. It was six in the evening.
Sui let out a surprised yelp and jumped to his feet and at the same time Red walked into the living room.
“You really like sleeping there, huh?”
“Eh? Red-san, since when?”
“I came back around two or three hours ago.”
“You should have woken me up.”
“You were sleeping so soundly though. Plus, it was easier for me that way.”
Red put the big plate he was holding onto the table.
“Tarte Tatin?” Sui ruminated and Red started to explain as he sliced the tart.
“It is a confection made from apples. You put the tart dough on top of butter, sugar and boiled apples and bake it. Packed with the flavor of freshly picked apples, it’s delicious.”
“Could it be… all this time you were gone picking apples?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Nothing.” Sui said to Red, who had tilted his head in puzzlement.
I see, so he had just gone to pick some apples. Sui got a bit embarrassed thinking about how anxious he had been.
Red put the sliced Tarte Tatin on a small plate and placed it in front of Sui together with a silver fork.
Though still baffled, Sui let his gaze fall to the plate in front of him. The tart had a gentle, sweet scent and the glossy, caramel-colored apples were shining.
Putting his hands together, Sui took the first forkful and brought it to his mouth.
“…How is it?” Red asked with a nervous expression.
“Even more than that?”
“The grape cake.”1
Sui recalled the grape cake they had eaten at Kasa’s place.
“Ahh, that, it was wonderful. It was my first time thinking something was that delicious.”
After saying that much, Sui noticed Red had a strange expression on his face. His shoulders shook and he bit his lip in frustration.2
“To lose to a patisserie… No, it really is delicious, but!”
“R-Red-san, what is it? Calm down.”
“As if I can calm down! Just you wait and see, next time I’ll make something that won’t lose to that cake. No, it’s going to be even more delicious than that!”
Sui was bewildered by Red, who had vigorously made such a mysterious proclamation.
I wonder if, as someone who loves cooking, he doesn’t want to lose? But does he want to compete with a professional bakery? I feel like that’s not it.
Sui didn’t understand why Red felt such a burning rivalry.
“Um, it would be nice if you win?”
For some reason, Red narrowed his eyes at him.
Red sat down on the sofa across from Sui and started eating the Tarte Tatin.
Sui was glad he had returned home safely, and a bit embarrassed, but the unease that he had felt before had gone completely. With the two of them sitting around the dinner table, it didn’t feel lonely anymore.
“Next time I’ll boil… no, should I make something else…?”
The sight of Red stuffing his mouth while grumbling made Sui smile.
“I really like eating together with Red-san.”
“Hrrk.” All of a sudden Red made a sound and started to have a coughing fit. It seemed something had gotten caught in his throat.3
“Are you ok?”
Sui was about to get up to get him some water but Red stopped him, saying he was ok.
“That, what”, Red mumbled after he had finally settled down, “…I like it too.”
Red also seemed to enjoy the meals they had together. Sui’s chest steadily grew warmer.
“Ah, but,” Sui glanced at the clock, “Tarte Tatin is a sweet, right? If we’re eating it at this time, we probably won’t be having dinner.”
“Ah.” Red let out a small noise. It seems he hadn’t thought about it. “I was so focused on making this…”
“You wanted to make it that bad? The Tarte Tatin.”
Shoulders drooping, Red gave a small nod.
“Because… you, you said that about the grape cake.”
“I said that?” Sui tilted his head.
“That’s why…” Red hesitated.
“…I wanted you to say that about my cooking. That you like it.”
“But I like Red-san’s cooking?”
“Gah! Not like that!” Red stood up with a bang. “I want my cooking to be your number one!”4
Sui was dumbfounded.
What is this?
Certainly, if he were to currently be asked what his favorite food was, he’d say the grape cake. He had never felt such a straight-forward like towards his food before. Though, of course, he also liked Red’s cooking that was always made with affection, care and ingenuity. Those two things could not be compared. They weren’t even on the same playing field.
Should I tell him that? Sui had the feeling that that wasn’t what Red had meant though.
Maybe, it’s not that he didn’t want to lose to the patisserie’s cake but that he wanted to make something that would become my favorite.
“Uh… I’m cheering you on?” As expected, Sui couldn’t reply as enthusiastically as a food-lover.
For some reason, Red let out a heavy sigh, but he looked somewhat relieved and nodded, “Yeah.”
“Speaking of which, there’s something I wanted to ask Red-san.”
After eating, they sipped on tea and Red told him about what he did in the forest. Immediately following that pleasant conversation, Sui decided to ask Red about his recent restlessness.
“Lately, you’ve been kind of restless. Like there’s something you want to say.”
“Ah… Well, yeah.”
“It’s about Kasa-san, isn’t it?”
Sui had asked that, fully convinced that that was the case, but Red tilted his head, confused.
“I said it at lunch, the thing I wanted to tell you.”
“About whether you dislike apples or not.”
No way, is that the reason he’s been so fidgety lately?
He had unintentionally brought up a different subject, so Sui was a bit embarrassed.
“I, I thought you might be concerned because I hadn’t clearly said that I won’t go work for Kasa-san, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
“Oh. That, huh?” Red rested his chin on his hand “…Sui, what do you want to do? Do you want to work for Kasa?”
“I work here though…”
“But it’d be a bit easier to look for your grandmother’s friend if you work at that guy’s store.”
Hearing those words that went against his expectations, Sui flinched. It was as if he were being advised to go to Kasa’s rather than stay in Red’s house.
“Ah, no, it’s not like I want you to leave. I said it wrong… I just wanted to say that if you want to work there I won’t stop you. It might be a bit difficult to commute from here, but I can at least see you off to the town’s entrance.
“That, I can’t bother you like that.”
“You, what’s your goal?”
“You came here to give that pendant to your grandmother’s friend, right? So shouldn’t you use any resource you can and exert all your effort to do that? Or is that the extent of your goal?”
He was right.
As long as Red said it was ok, this was a good opportunity for Sui to fulfill his grandmother’s wish.
“If you don’t try to achieve your goal, I might forget as well.”
Hearing those mumbled words, Sui blinked and Red shook his head with a “No.”
“Anyway, what are you going to do? You think you want to work?”
“Then, it’s decided. I’ll call Kasa. He’ll probably want you to start tomorrow so prepare yourself.”
“O-of course I’ll also properly do my job at Red-san’s house!” Sui leaned forward, surprising Red.
“That’s right. Yeah, I’m counting on you as always.”
Standing up from his seat, Red went back to his room.
His lips were smiling. His voice too had been gentle. But there was something painful about it that Sui couldn’t get out of his mind.