K on the Side: short story 2 A New Life by Raikaku Rei

A side story to K Side: Red.

Anna begins her new life at HOMRA.

A New Life

A canopy with red curtains adorned a small bed fit for a little princess. It occupied the middle of the room; a small table suitable for children stood next to the window, and across from it, there were bookshelves; an antique-looking wooden closet was placed against the opposite wall.

Anna’s big eyes got even bigger as she looked around the room. Kusanagi watched Anna with a smile on his lips.

After having gazed around the room to her heart’s content, Anna half-turned to him calling out his name, “Izumo.”
"Yes?"

Anna opened and closed her mouth a few times as if trying to find the right words and finally voiced only one, “Thanks.”

For Anna to have her own room, a small storage on the second floor of the bar HOMRA was given a full makeover, and also, Kusanagi arranged for the necessary furniture.

From that day on, this room was going to become Anna’s home.

"It’s more than enough for me that you seem to like it," Kusanagi replied curtly, smiling and bending down at the waist slightly.

Trying to answer in kind, Anna lifted the corners of her mouth in an awkward smile.

Unlike Totsuka, Kusanagi wasn’t particularly good at dealing with children, nor did he share an innate understanding of each other’s feelings with Anna, like Suoh did. But it turned out that simply treating her like he would any other person, without forced attempts at babying her, worked just fine due to Anna being mature beyond her years mental age-wise.

"Well, I bet you’re hungry. Let’s go down and have lunch," Kusanagi said and went downstairs accompanied by Anna.

When they came down to the first floor, they found the scenery that was eerily similar to what a soup kitchen proving emergency rice after a natural disaster must have looked like.

"No, wait, Totsuka-san, it’s clearly overdoing it!"
"But the whole ordeal will be rendered meaningless if the bullet in russian roulette holds no powder, you know?" Totsuka was kneading sinister-looking red paste while Yata attempted to reason with him.

Fushimi, shooting glares that seemed to scream ‘this is so stupid!’ in their direction, was molding onigiri with mechanical motions.

Suoh was sitted on a bar stool at the counter, simply watching the unfolding scene and doing nothing.

"What are you doing?" Kusanagi asked puzzled.
"Ah, Kusanagi-san. Today’s lunch is onigiri!" Totsuka replied in a light tone.
"I can see that. I’m asking what is that thing you’re kneading."
"The ‘lucky shot’ stuffing. Since this will be onigiri russian roulette."
"That thing is too spicy! I can tell by the smell alone that it’s inhumanly spicy!"

Yata leaned down to sniff the paste Totsuka was kneading and grimaced.

Meanwhile, Kamamoto, who was standing in front of an electric rice cooker that was brought from the kitchen, was busy stuffing onigiri into his mouth right after they had been molded.

"Kamamoto, you bastard! Stop devouring our lunch!"
"Ouch! I was just taste-sampling it!"
"Who the hell taste-samples onigiri?!"

Across from the shouting Yata and Kamamoto, Totsuka was keeping at his wicked business by putting his poisonous-looking red paste on rice as he smiled at Anna and asked, “So how did you like your room?”
"…It was beautiful."
"Well, you’re going to be living here starting today. Is there something that you maybe found lacking?"
"No, everything was fine."
"Ah, by the way, what should we about breakfast tomorrow? Kusanagi-san isn’t here in the mornings." Totsuka noted looking at Kusanagi while molding the rice into beautifully shaped triangular onigiri with practiced hand motions.

Ah, right, there’s also this problem, Kusanagi thought folding arms on his chest. “Well, Mikoto being left here alone with no breakfast is no concern, but now we also have Anna. And Mikoto’s being here changes nothing in that regard…”
"…Even I can make a meal," Suoh, arms on the counter, chin on his hands, suddenly said with displeasure.

Casting a glance full of unmasked distrust at Suoh, Kusanagi threw up his hands in an exaggerated gesture and shook his head. Even Totsuka, after giving Suoh a sweet smile, ignored his remark, shifting his gaze back to Kusanagi. “Should I come and make Anna’s breakfast, then?”
"Yeah - tomorrow, at least. After that… well, I guess we’ll have to take turns."
"Hey," Suoh repeated reluctantly. "I said I can make a damn meal."

Kusanagi sighed. “Look, Mikoto. When you were left to your own devices before, you bothered to make a meal based solely on a whim, if at all. You never stick to the proper three meals a day schedule in the first place. You wake up when you feel like it and eat only when you’re hungry. An animalistic life style like that isn’t suited for Anna.”
"But you know, Anna’s addition to our numbers might be the chance for King to improve his life style! How great would it be if he started to lead a healthy life where he’d get up at 7 in the morning, make breakfast and eat it with Anna?"

Under the pressure of the lecture from the irritated-looking Kusanagi and the suggestion from the grinning Totsuka, Suoh promptly averted his eyes.

"Well, I’m hungry, so how about we get to eating?" Kamamoto had the nerve to interrupt them with a statement that was nothing short of shameless seeing as there were grains of rice stuck to his face around the mouth.

"Agreed. Besides, the ‘live round’ for our russian roulette is locked and loaded!"
"Geh! When did you…?!"

Apparently, Totsuka managed to sneak the onigiri that contained his evil superhot paste onto the plate with the rest of them when nobody was watching.

"Haa…" Kusanagi could only sigh. "What if Anna gets it?"
"I won’t." Anna was the one who said this. She took a red glass marble out of her pocket and held it to her left eye.

"Ah! It’s not fair to use your ability!" Yata accused, but the smiling Totsuka placated him, "It’s perfectly acceptable as long as you do your best utiliziing the abilities you have at your disposal."

After scrutinizing the stack of onigiri through her marble, Anna picked one.

Fushimi was up next, and it didn’t take him any time at all to choose. Yata’s eyes windened at his complete lack of hesitation.

"What admirable resolve, Saruhiko," Kusanagi commented.
"I put an inconspicious mark on the onigiri I made myself. I wouldn’t want to be the loser of this punishment game, and also, I dislike dried plum, konbu and walleye pollack roe, so I wouldn’t want to end up taking any of them either."
"Hey, that’s totally cheating!"
"It’s nothing more than doing your best utilizing the abilities at your disposal which is perfectly acceptable."

Twisting his lips angrily, Yata stared at the plate with the onigiri as he carefully chose one.

Next, one by one, the others stepped to the plate and picked an onigiri to their liking.

Suoh was the last to casually grab one.

"Well then, to the start of Anna’s new life!" Totsuka declared, raising his onigiri high in the air.
"Cheers!" All present joined in Totsuka’s toast raising their onigiri as well, despite the feeling that something about this whole setting was clearly off. Then, everybody bit into their respective rice treat.

"Whoa, this is yummy!"
"Ah, I got the tuna and mayonnaise filling!"

Relieved voices could be heard all around. Kusanagi found that his onigiri was filled with salmon roe salted just right.

Amidst the sighs of relief, there was one person who frowned, furrowing his brows, and stopped eating after taking a bite, and that person was Suoh.

Totsuka grinned. “That’s King for you! Luck of the draw is on your side!”

Suoh glared at the onigiri, which now had the evil red paste sticking out of its side, as if it was his personal mortal enemy but finished it in two bites.

"Wow…" A shared exclamation of admiration resounded in the room.

Suoh was still scowling when Anna lightly pulled at the hem of his clothes. “Next time, I’ll make the meal, and I’ll tell you which one not to take.”

Hearing these comforting words from her only made Suoh’s scowl deepen, and he gave Anna a light flick on the forehead in retaliation.