Shiro No Kanata E Volume 1 Chapter 1 Part2
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Title: Shiro no Kanata e [白の彼方へ]
Chapter: 1-2, To The Whiteness Far Beyond
Page: 016 – 033
Author: Masaki Hikaru
Illustrator: Takamine Akira
Publisher: Charade Bunko
Year of Release: 2007
Masaki Hikaru is the original author of this work, and this is a fan translation. Feel free to re-post this elsewhere if you like but please credit this site. I did buy the original copy of this book, along with the rest of the series, so it'll be great if you can support her by buying her books.
By the way, this work contains BL, or homo-eroticism. Fair warning, the pace of this book is…. slow. Well. Things move a lot slower when cold.
As I have no formal training in translation theory nor am I an expert in Japanese (nor English, for the matter), I cannot guarantee the quality of this translation work, but I promise I did my best.
Do give the BLCD a listen (Nakamura Yuuchi x Midorikawa Hikaru, Inoue Kazuhiko) if you can.
Chapter 1 Part 2: The Whiteness Far Beyond
The first time Asahi met Shiomi was half a year ago, in the later part of April.
Technically, it was already spring, but there was still a lot of snow left on a mountain at an elevation of more than 2000 metres. The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which was closed for the winter, had just been re-opened for the year.
Asahi had been working as a caretaker of this mountain lodge in the Northern Alps for the past three years. He first started working here seven years ago with Sakata, the owner of the lodge, but since Sakata fell ill three years ago Asahi had been working alone.
His first task when he reached the lodge was to check that all the food and fuel he needed had arrived. The second thing he needed to do was to inspect the lodge for any changes over the winter. There were signs that someone had used the lodge; on the table was a memo that explained that some climbers had sought refuge in the lodge during a snowstorm, and they had found the amenities in the lodge very useful. Along with the memo were three 1000 yen notes.
Since its renovation five years ago, the lodge had running on electricity generated by solar panels and hydro-power generated from a nearby mountain stream. Solar panels on the roof of the lodge ensured a steady stream of power, but there was one problem; the panels wouldn't work if they were covered by a layer of snow, which prevented sunlight from shining on them.
If the mountain lodge was a large facility with numerous employees, they could have taken turns to shovel the snow off the roof. Even though Asahi's mountain lodge was a small one that could only take in around twenty people at a time, it was still a rather daunting task to remove all the snow on the roof all by himself.
There was a larger, better equipped mountain lodge nearby with capacity for about a hundred people and most climbers will choose to spend the night there instead. The only time Asahi's lodge would be extremely busy would be sometime before and after Golden Week and during mountain climbing season in summer. Sakata once told him that the current size of the lodge was just right for him. After all, running the mountain lodge was a hobby of his, and he cared little for the profits it generated.
"Alright, let's go."
Asahi rolled up his sleeves and climbed up to the roof. With each swipe of his shovel more snow fell off the roof, but it wasn't long before he started breathing rather heavily. Since the atmosphere was thinner at higher altitudes, just a bit of physical exertion would cause him to be out of breath.
Just when he could finally start to see the panels underneath the snow,
"Asahi!" rang a voice from below.
Tsurugi, who been playing by himself nearby, greeted Asahi’s visitors with a gruff bark, and Asahi stuck his shovel in the snow to look down from the roof at where the voice had come from. Two men in yellow mountain-climbing jackets and sunglasses to protect their eyes from winter glare stood there, looking up at Asahi. Both of them has large blue rucksacks on their shoulders.
Asahi have seen those jackets before, and there was one person who would call him by his first name in that overly-friendly manner.
"…Asada-san. It's been a while since I saw you. Did you come to open the Tsurugisawa outpost station?"
Without answering his question, Asada said: "Do come down from there. Let this guy over here do the shovelling of the snow. Okay, Shiomi?"
"Yes!" the man he called Shiomi readily answered. He shrugged off his rucksack, which he left on the ground below the eaves, but left his sunglasses on.
He doesn't seem to be joking, thought Asahi.
"But…" Asahi started to protest, but relented after seeing the man climb up the ladder to the roof. He inclined his head slightly towards him and slipped past him down the ladder.
Asada was scratching Tsurugi's head as he waited for Asahi to descend, and Tsurugi's tail was wagging so hard that his whole body shook with delight.
"It's been five months since I saw you… I'm mighty glad to see that you're still as pretty as ever. Right, Tsurugi?" he said.
As if you could see the face of someone with sunglasses on and a woollen cap pulled over his ears… was what Asahi almost said in a sarcastic tone but didn't say. Instead, he sighed and looked up at the taller man.
"…Asada-san, aren't you starting to sound more and more like an old man over the years?"
Asada took off his sunglasses to reveal a rather complicated look on his face. There was a furrow in his brow, yet his eyes twinkled with mirth.
"You're hitting me where it hurts… well, I'll be forty if you round up my age, after all. My smile became really strained when a kid called me 'uncle' at a convenience store just the other day."
The truth was that despite his laments, Asada did not at all look like a middle-aged man. Perhaps it was because he spent most of the past year in the mountains; Asada was a perfect picture of masculinity. He was powerfully built, his limbs were corded with muscle, and he still had to enough stamina to keep up with twenty year olds.
Asahi laughed. "I beg your pardon, then. I'm still in the middle of unpacking, but do you want to come in? I could, at least, make you a cup of coffee."
They had been talking while standing outside in the snow, and he could feel cold air emanating from the ground. Asahi lifted his face and opened his mouth to invite the man on the roof into the lodge as well, but Asada held out an arm to stop him.
"Oi, Shiomi!" he called.
"Yes!" came the immediate reply, and the man peered down at them from the edge of the roof, the shovel still in his hands.
"We'll be inside. Come down once you finish getting the snow off the roof, okay?"
Asada seemed to be ordering him about, and Asahi was worried that it would rub Shiomi the wrong way, but Shiomi remained as polite as ever.
"Got it! I'll be done soon!" was all Shiomi said, before disappearing back onto the roof, and the rhythmic sound of the shovel scraping against snow resumed.
"Well then, please let me in." Asada slung an arm around Asahi's shoulders, but Asahi only stared coolly up at him with his sunglasses in his hands. "…You don't need to glower at me like that. It is all part of his training," Asada added dryly, and Asahi nodded stiffly at him.
Asahi opened the door to the lodge, but not before wiping the snow off Tsurugi’s paws. There were cardboard boxes lining the walls, and Asahi had to rummage through the boxes for the one with the bottles of instant coffee in it. He also had to look around for the mugs, and a while had passed before he finished making the coffee with hot water from the kettle already on the stove.
"Here you go." Asahi set the mugs on the table, a table which could seat six people with some difficulty, and took a seat facing Asada. His eyes flitted to the window as he thought of the man on his roof clearing snow in his stead.
"…Is he this year's new recruit?" he asked.
Asada took a sip from the mug before answering: "Yea." Then a grin twisted his lips, like he was planning something rather mischievous. It was what Asahi would call the leer of a pervert.
"…Don't smile like that, please. You… you seem to enjoying yourself, somehow."
"I am. Didn't I tell you I found an interesting fellow at the climbing course last year? I wonder if you remember."
"Ah. Now that you mention it… I do remember you saying something like that."
Every year in June, the Toyama Prefecture Police would hold a short climbing course for young, promising police recruits. It was a course that involved mainly rock-climbing, and those who had the correct disposition or showed a talent for climbing would be nominated to join the mountain rescue squad.
Asahi didn't know much about the police force, but as he has had dealings with mountain rescue troops for the past seven years while working in the Northern Alps, even someone like him will know about that annual climbing course. Asada Takafumi, a veteran trooper with ten years of experience under his belt, was the instructor for the climbing course last year. At that time, he had mentioned to Asahi that someone interesting turned up in the course that year… the man called Shiomi which he had ordered to shovel snow on Asahi's roof.
"He really piqued my interest since he had a rather uncommon background… but oh, am I looking forward to making him cry during the mountain training during the summer!" Asada laughed heartily as he tipped back his mug once more, but Asahi grimaced.
"So you're looking forward to being a jerk."
"Humph. I broke down in tears myself almost right after the start of the training, when I did it. Bring pushed beyond your physical limits isn't an experience you can get every day. It is a very important experience, you know."
"Well… I guess I can understand that, but—" began Asahi, but his sentence was interrupted by a sound outside the door. Tsurugi, who was lying sprawled out below the table, immediately got up and trotted towards the door.
The front door of the lodge was one that did not slide open or close smoothly due to high humidity levels in the lodge. It rattled loudly as it slid open, and Shiomi peered cautiously inside. Tsurugi sidled up next to him, and Shiomi ran his hand along Tsurugi's back in return.
"You're really cute, aren't you?" said Shiomi affectionately as he stroked the long fur of the Saint Bernard which was almost as large as a calf. He must really like dogs to not be afraid of Tsurugi, Asahi thought. Tsurugi seemed to be aware of that, from the way he fawned over him.
"Have you finished shovelling all the snow off the roof?" asked Asada.
"Yes, I have."
The come on up, said Asada, to which Shiomi nodded eagerly. Asahi casted a sidelong glance at Shiomi knocking the snow off his boots at the door, and got up from his chair to prepare a third cup of coffee. After a moment's deliberation, he also pulled out a chocolate bar from a nearby cardboard box.
"Thank you very much. You've been a great help. Here is a chocolate bar… if you don't dislike sweet things, please have one," said Asahi with what he hoped was a friendly smile, as he held out both coffee and chocolate to Shiomi, who had seated himself next to Asada.
"You're playing favourites now," mumbled Asada. Asahi heard his kvetch but paid him no heed at all. It was natural that someone who had helped him do physical labour should receive special treatment.
"T-Thank you! This makes me really happy," stammered Shiomi and he lowered his head in thanks. When he lifted his face, his eyes locked with Asahi's… and Asahi blanched. It was the first time he saw Shiomi without his cap or sunglasses, and the moment he saw his face he felt all blood draining from face. Instinctively, he felt for the table, to prevent himself from falling over.
"Asahi…?" Asada ventured quizzically when he noticed Asahi's change in expression, but Asahi couldn't speak.
There was nothing particularly strange about how Shiomi looked; he had strong-willed eyes, a short crop of black hair and comely features, even if his appearance was plain and unadorned for someone of his age. Ten years had already passed and memories of that face had started to fade, but those memories came rushing back. Ryou-san… Asahi whispered inwardly, as he stared into the face of his dead lover.
"Erm. Asahi-san? Is there anything wrong with…?" Shiomi looked slightly embarrassed and tried to look at everything else except his face.
"Ah, my apologies," said Asahi as he, too, averted his eyes. His discomfiture was so great that he was unable to explain that he was taken by surprise because Shiomi resembled someone he knew. Perhaps he should have simply said that, and then laugh it off… but Asahi couldn't bring himself to even smile just then. This spoke volumes about the pain he held deep within himself, and of his inability to reconcile the loss.
Asada, however, burst into loud guffaws.
"What is up with you two? I feel like I am watching a very awkward blind date, you know. Oi Shiomi, what are you getting all red in the face for? Are you feeling bashful because Asahi is a great beauty?" he asked teasingly, and Shiomi flushed a deeper shade of crimson. It would appear that Shiomi was a rather simple person at heart.
Since Asahi wasn't Asada’s subject of ridicule, he was able to regain some of his composure. In exasperation he said: "Asada-san! It's really mean of you to tease him like that, and I feel sorry for him. Anyway, no one would ever call a man reaching his thirties a 'great beauty'." At the same time, he wondered if he sounded unnatural… or if his voice was a tad unsteady. He couldn’t be sure, since he could still hear blood pounding in his ears from his earlier shock.
He expected a riposte from Asada. Instead, Shiomi drew himself up and declared in a voice that was as clear and crisp as a sports commentator: "Oh no, not at all! Asahi-san is indeed a beauty!" and Asahi could only gape at him in amazement. Asada, in a rare moment, also looked completely flabbergasted.
"…" Asahi sat down hard on his chair, placed his elbows on the table and buried his face in his hands. He would be perfectly fine if someone said something like that in jest, like Asada usually did, but he had never met someone who called him a 'beauty' with such earnestness, and to his face, too. He managed to muffle it, but his shaking shoulders gave him away.
Asahi was laughing.
Perhaps Shiomi noticed, for he hurriedly added: "I mean it! Asahi-san is the most beautiful person I've ever seen!"
He probably meant every word he said, but Asada could no longer contain himself. In between peals of laughter he said, as he pounded on the table: "That's a real sudden confession of love-at-first-sight you've done there! Oh, dear me. Well, I wish you all the best in courting him, then. Asahi is a tough one to court, though!" He looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself, despite Shiomi's obvious distress.
"Why is Asada-san laughing at me, too? I simply said what I really thought… Please don't say things like love-at-first-sight in front of the person in question!" said Shiomi, looking perplexed.
At his words, something cold flooded Asahi's chest, and his smile disappeared. Both Asada's laughter and Shiomi's voice seemed strange, faraway and light.
The more he looked at Shiomi, the more alike they looked.
However, Shiomi's personality was quite the opposite of Ryou; Ryou had been a quiet, guarded person.
Just when the passing of time had allowed memories of him to fade, and he was beginning to get used to not having him around… how upsetting. Asahi found himself starting to detest Shiomi for appearing at such an inopportune time, even though he knew that he was being unreasonable and that it was not Shiomi's fault.
"Shiomi-san. Please excuse my bluntness, but how old are you?" he asked quietly, while trying to reign in his breathing.
Shiomi stood up. "My name is Shiomi Gaku, and I'm nearly twenty-five. I currently belong to the Kamiichi Police Division, but I will be posted to the mountain rescue squad as of April this year. Pleased to meet you," he said with great vigour, but his voice sounded almost mechanical, like a tape recorder. It was probably a self-introduction that he had repeated many times.
Since Shiomi looked considerably younger, Asahi had intended to ask him his age, treat him like a child and brush him aside coldly. However, there was something strange about his name.
"Shiomi Gaku… don't tell me that…?" Asahi's voice trailed off, and Asada answered his unfinished question.
"Yep, that's right. His name is literally, Mount Shiomi [Shiomi-dake]. It's almost as if he was child sent in answer to a prayer to the mountains!" he said merrily, but Shiomi's expression turned rueful.
"Ah, erm… no. My name wasn't always like this. After my parents divorced, my surname got changed to my mother's instead of my father's. Even if my father loved mountains, he wouldn't name his child after one, word for word… I think." He laughed self-consciously, but it was evident that he looked up to his mountain-loving father.
And for Shiomi to become a mountain rescue trooper would mean that he was pretty fond of mountains himself.
"Ah, Asahi-san, your name came from the name of a mountain too, didn't it?""
"…The written characters are different, though," said Asahi disinterestedly. With a thin smile on his lips, he thought about how Ryou-san had asked him the exact same thing, back then.
Asahi had been told that he had the facial features of a doll, and he knew the effect it brought about when he wore the expression he was wearing now. The icy, dispassionate look in eyes was intimidating…. or so they had said, and it was likely the Shiomi felt the same.
"So, Shiomi. What would you like me to do for you? I don't exactly feel very happy after receiving praise for only my appearance," he said. He hoped that Shiomi would be put off by his manner and not try to get any closer to him.
After all, Asahi had loved the peaceful life he had led up to now. Looking at Shiomi stirred up strange emotions in his heart, and he preferred not be led around by the nose. Especially not by Shiomi, who looked like the sort that will get passionate.
"I'm… sorry. I guess there isn't very much you can do after someone tells you something like that." Sounding deflated, Shiomi sat back down. He looked so downcast that it made Asahi feel like he had been mean to a child, and that made him feel even more irritated.
Asada chose this moment to interject: "I am enjoying the spectacle, but joining in sounds like a lot more fun. Therefore! Asahi. Do let us stay the night."
Asahi frowned. He was in the middle of unpacking his things, and the lodge was in a mess. Furthermore, the Tsurugisawa police box was an hour's walk away for Asada, and even if they were to set off now at a leisurely pace, he would definitely be able to reach the outpost station when the day was still bright, so there should be no need for him to stay over.
Sensing Asahi's reluctance, Asada continued: "And in return, we'll help you with the unpacking and tidying up. You have a lot of work to do, don't you?"
It was true that he could do with some help, and he could delegate to them tasks that involved heavy labour without much worry.
"I do… but, didn't you two come to open the outpost…?"
Before he could ask if it was okay that they skip work for the day, Asada only laughed, completely unfazed.
"That's fine. We have wireless receivers with us, and no one will be climbing up this mountain this late anyway. We still have some people in Tsurugisawa and Murodou, and besides, we have also informed them in advance that we'll be stopping by your place."
Asada had obviously laid the groundwork for his plans, and Asahi wavered, wondering if he should indeed accept his offer to help. He glanced at Shiomi, wondering what he thought of all these, only to find him sitting there with bright eyes, like a puppy waiting for instructions.
Like how Tsurugi sometimes look at Asahi.
"…I can't pay you for your time, you know that, right?"
"Don't be daft. Civil servants aren't allowed to do part-time jobs. I didn't intend to charge you anything for our services in the first place."
Apparently deciding that an agreement had been made, Asada got up and walked into the room behind the living room in a way that made it clear that he knew his way around. From the sounds coming from the room Asahi presumed that he had pulled out some round cushions from the closet.
"Do you have a dryer?" Asada called.
"Somewhere in a box in that large pile of boxes over there," Asahi answered, and Asada, with long strides, returned to the living room.
"Looks like the first thing we need to do is unpack the boxes, then. Shiomi!"
"Yes!" was Shiomi's obliging reply, and he immediately made his way around the table to stand beside Asada.
He was huge, Asahi thought to himself. Asahi was about 170 centimetres in height and never thought of himself as a person of small stature. However, Shiomi looked like he was almost 190, and stood a good few centimetres taller than Asada, whom Asahi already thought was large.
Asahi tipped his head upwards to look at him, and was struck by a memory of how he used to do that when looking at Ryou, too.
So… it wasn't only the face that was similar.
"Asahi, don't hesitate to bark orders at us, okay?" Asada's voice snapped Asahi out of his reverie with a start.
In other words, Asada was telling him to not try to help them with the work and get in the way, but Asahi couldn’t find any reason to protest. No matter how much effort he put in, he would never be any match for them in terms of physical strength. After all, he couldn't pull off the extraordinary feat of lifting a stack of three heavy boxes at once… like they could.
"Ah… okay. I'm counting on you two, then," he said.
The movements of the two men grew quick and business-like as Asahi pointed them to the place where all the boxes were. They really saved me a lot of effort, he thought, as he inwardly touched his palms together in a gesture of gratitude.
Shiro No Kanata E Volume 1 Chapter 1 Part2
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Shiro No Kanata E Volume 1 Chapter 1 Part2 summary
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