Yonemura is the supervisor overseeing the branches of a convenience store chain, and tonight he’s dropping in on a certain branch he’s got a special connection with. Namely, the fact that he used to fool around with the store manager Nishiyama in the past. “In the past”, because that store manager is now dating fellow employee Higashino, but that doesn’t mean Yonemura is entirely over his former paramour.
Yonemura: /But…for me, so long as Nishiyama’s enjoying himself…I’m happy./
Conversing with Nishiyama about the state of the store and a new employee who’s just started, he’s a bit startled when Nishiyama drops Higashino’s first name into the conversation, not realizing the two were quite that close yet.
He makes plans to drop by the store to check in on everything after fielding calls from Nishiyama about Higashino fighting with the new employee, Andou, but when he arrives, he catches Nishiyama and Higashino conversing down a side alley–their interactions culminating in a kiss.
Yonemura can only stare in pained shock–it hurts, seeing it, more than he thought it would–but he isn’t the only one to witness the incident…or Yonemura’s reaction to the scene.
Inside, Higashino and Andou are at it again, bickering in front of customers, and Yonemura and Nishiyama look on uncomfortably. Yonemura notices Andou seems a bit ‘off’ and asks him if he’s sick–which he vehemently denies. Instead, he turns the conversation back on Yonemura, asking if he might pose a question of his own: “Are the manager and Higashino-san dating?”
He explains that he saw them when he was coming in to work that evening, and Yonemura silently curses the pair for flirting like that outside of work.
When he asks Andou if, were that the case, he would think it disgusting, Andou admits that he wouldn’t, especially since he finds himself more interested…in Yonemura.
Andou: “Are you all right?”
Yonemura laughs it off–he’s known about them for a while now–and heads back out onto the floor.
He avoids the shop for the next three days, but when he finally does show his face again, it turns out Andou hasn’t come in for his shift. Just as he’s discussing potential reasons for the employee’s absence with Nishiyama, a call comes in–from the police.
Yonemura is the one to go, and he finds Andou looking rather beat up and surprised to see him. He confesses that he got into a fight with some punks who’d broken his friend’s newly restored guitar. Telling the tale causes Andou to well up with tears of frustration anew, though, and Yonemura awkwardly reaches over and pats him on the shoulder to comfort him.
He escorts Andou back to his apartment and realizes that Andou has a great interest in guitars, particularly repairing and restoring them. His apartment is littered with all sorts of paraphernalia for fixing guitars, and looking at Andou now, he’s reminded of a younger Nishiyama. He relates to Andou this fact, how Nishiyama would burst into tears when he was younger, seeing his dreams shattered, and all Yonemura could do was be a steady presence by his side. It makes him want to cheer on Andou in his own efforts to make his dream of building guitars come true.
Andou: “…So you can’t give him up, can you? Nishiyama-san.”
He reminds Yonemura of the torn expression he always wears when he looks at the convenience store manager, wondering why Nishiyama would ignore someone like Yonemura, who obviously cares for him deeply, in favor of Higashino.
He leans in here–and brushes his lips over Yonemura’s, but is sharply rebuffed by a startled Yonemura.
Yonemura quickly leaves, without further discussion of what just transpired.
The next day, Nishiyama is thrilled to see his employee back safe and sound, but Yonemura is still unsettled around Andou and invites Higashino outside to share a smoke together. They discuss Andou (or rather, his dreams) and how it relates to Nishiyama in the past, but Higashino steers the conversation back around to Andou, much to Yonemura’s irritation. Higashino pushes all the wrong buttons with Yonemura, though, and in a bout of frustration, Yonemura leaps to his feet and tells him to shut up.
Yonemura: “I don’t give one single shit about Andou!”
Shocked and hurt by the declaration, Andou darts off.
TO BE CONTINUED…