A New Home
After a fulfilling day at the beach with everybody on Monday, which indeed cheered Yuki up, it was now Wednesday and Keiko and Saito had, once again, taken to the streets to search for an apartment.
Wednesday July 28;
"That last place wasn't too bad, but it was so expensive." said Keiko while they were walking after rejecting another potential apartment
"Not even if I worked a full-time job could cover it." said Saito "Sorry for dragging you out every day, and in this heat. Your feet must be in a lot of pain."
"Come on, I'm a soccer player. This is nothing."
"If you say so. (sigh) Keiko-chan, we've been looking for a month. We'd've found something by now if you weren't so picky."
"Yeah, I love you too."
"Isn't it about time we took a break for a few days."
"No way." Keiko said sternly "We said we'd move before summer break ended, and it's almost August."
"But we have all next month." Saito pointed out
"I have things to do next month."
"Along with my summer homework.... I'll tell you when the time comes."
A few minutes later, they came upon a real-estate building for apartments
"So you two will be living together, am I correct?" said the landlord
"Yes." said Keiko "We want a small and cheap apartment for two."
"Which includes a bath and a small kitchen." said Saito
"Now let me see." the landlord went through some papers of room details "How about this?" He placed a blueprint of a room on the table "I'm afraid that this building has no baths and showers in the rooms, only a public bath on the first floor. But this room is equipped with a small kitchen like you requested."
"Seems large enough." said Saito
"Agreed. May we see the apartment?" Keiko asked
A few minutes later, they were in the apartment that the agent was offering them
"Pretty spacious, isn't it?" the landlord asked
"It is." said Saito "Plenty of room for a bed, a table, a small dresser and some shelves."
"The kitchen looks pretty nice too." said Keiko "You said that there are no showers in the rooms?"
"Yes. If you wish for a bath, you must go to the public ones on the first floor." said the landlord
"That means Saito and I can't take one together." Keiko thought as she noticed a fancy looking mirror on one of the walls "What's with this mirror?"
"That was installed by a previous tenant. A woman. Notice it's a bit low to the floor and slightly crooked. If it had been done professionally that wouldn't have happened. If you don't like it I can have it removed."
"Please do. We're not too conscious about our appearance anyway."
"It's not really our tastes either." said Saito
Saito then noticed what appeared to be a hole in the wall and bent down to have a better look. The hole opened all the way into the next room, and what Saito saw sent his mind haywire: on the floor of the next room was a young couple, no older than he and Keiko were, in the middle of having sex! Saito yelped and backed off in alarm.
"Saito, what's wrong?" Keiko asked
"N-n-n-n-nothing at all!" Saito said hastily, before turning to the landlord "When you remove the mirror seal up this hole as well."
"Noted." said the landlord
Keiko was a little puzzled by Saito's reaction but shrugged it off. She then looked out the room's sole window. "This window faces west. We'd have a perfect view of the sunset from here."
"Indeed we would." Saito said, trying desperately to forget what he just saw.
"How much would the rent be?" Keiko asked
"Excluding tax and utilities, the lowest would be about ¥120,000 a month."
"That's too expensive." said Saito
"This room is really nice too. Any place in this building that cost's a bit less?" Keiko asked
"I'm afraid this is the cheapest one we have."
"No luck again." said Keiko when they left the building
"It was pretty far from school anyway." said Saito "We should also think about where we're going for college too, so we can pick one near it as well."
"That won't matter. I'll be commuting to another town for college anyway."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because I already chose my college years ago. I'm going to Nippon Sport Science University. The campus in Abu-ku, Yokohama to be precise." Keiko explained
"I thought that might be it. Someone like you is bound to be accepted." said Saito
"Well, thank you." All of a sudden, a car pulled up next to them. The driver window rolled down to reveal Mito. "Aunt Mito?"
"There you are. I've been looking everywhere for you two, and I couldn't connect to either of your phones." said Mito
"Sorry, we had them switched off." said Keiko
"And why were you looking for us, Mito-san?" Saito asked
"Just hop in. There's someplace I want to take you."
Despite confusion, both did as asked and got in. Ten minutes later they arrived in the parking lot of Sakagami Apartments, where Mito lived.
"Welcome to Sakagami." said Mito as they got out of her car
"What are we doing here?" Keiko asked as they strode toward the entrance
"What's that noise?" Saito asked, hearing a commotion from inside the entrance
"Sounds like they're at it again." said Mito, and Keiko and Saito exchanged confused looks
They walked in, and the sight that met them wasn't exactly a pleasant one. One guy, no older than 19, was being ganged up on by what appeared to be an entire rugby team.
"So what's it going to be, Saso?" said one of the members
"Yeah, you and your player turned up day after day?" said another
"Well, I'm trying to draw my manga." said the guy named Saso "I can't get my imagination going until I hear that song."
"I swear, every day it's the same thing." said Mito
"Aizawa! Help me out here, will ya!" said Saso
"No way. I don't wanna turn into a lamebrain like you." said Mito
"You can be really cold-hearted! You know that?"
Saso was then thrown around by the entire team, while the three of them watched, for almost five minutes, before the owner came and broke it up.
"Quiet. QUIET! Can't you guys knock it off!?" said the owner, running at them with a broom in hand. The rugby team dispersed in seconds "Those stupid kids. I'm the one everyone in the building complains to, ya know."
"Haruto. You should've come sooner to save me." said Saso, grabbing onto Haruto's leg
"You are just as much at fault as they are, Akira-kun. I hope you've learned your lesson after that little assault." said Haruto, shaking Akira off his leg
Mito cleared her throat to get their attention
"Oh, Mito-chan, welcome back." said Haruto, in a more friendly voice "I guess the two behind you are your niece and her husband."
"'Boyfriend'! Not 'husband'!" Keiko exclaimed
"We're just first year high-schoolers!" said Saito
"They're really touchy about that." said Mito
"Hai, hai." said Haruto.
"Oh, yes, introductions. Keiko, Saito-kun, this is...." Mito's introductions were interrupted by a young boy, no older than 7, running naked out of the women's side of the nearby public baths covered in foam.
"No more soap! No more soap!" the boy yelled as he took shelter behind Haruto
"Taichi Hasegawa, you come back here this moment!" shouted a 21-year-old woman who emerged from the women's bath, also naked and partially covered in foam. Haruto covered his eyes and Keiko covered Saito's from behind. But Akira continued to stare, causing Haruto to kick him in the back of the head "Oh, hello."
"Yozora-chan, please cover yourself." said Mito. Yozora went back in and put a towel on, bringing back a smaller towel that she put around young Taichi's waist. she then brought him back into the baths "Thank you. Guys, you can look now." The mens' eyes were uncovered, and Mito continued with introductions. "As I was saying, this is Haruto Sakagami, the owner of the building. The perverted loser on the floor is Akira Saso, a college student."
"I'm not that perverted!" Akira retorted
"The two that made that small scene were Yozora Hasegawa, and her son, Taichi. Just a few of the unique characters you'll find in this apartment building."
"So you're Mito-san's niece and her husband, who we've heard so much about." Yozora called from the baths
"Why does everyone insist on referring to us like we're husband and wife when we aren't?" Keiko asked in frustration
"Was that a high school rugby team we saw earlier?" Saito asked trying to change the subject
"In fact it was." said Mito
"This complex is primarily aimed at students." Haruto explained "It's filled with students from nearby high schools and colleges. Though there are plenty of grown adults living here as well."
"What's going on, dear?" a woman who just emerged from a nearby room asked
"Just getting acquainted with two potential tenants." said Haruto "This is my wife, Yukiho."
"Kon'nichiwa." Keiko and Saito said in unison
"Wait a minute, did you say 'potential tenants'?" Saito asked as Yozora and Taichi emerged from the baths fully clothed
"That's right." said Mito "I heard that you two were having trouble finding an apartment, so I asked Haruto-kun if there were any available. Rent's cheap, and Enoshima's actually pretty close too."
"Who'd you hear that from?" Keiko asked
"What's going on down here?" said a girl who just came down the nearby stairwell. It was Suzuka.
"Suzuka-senpai?" said Saito
"What are you doing here?" Keiko asked
"I live here." Suzuka replied simply
Minutes later, they were shown to a west facing empty room on the third floor. Room 301
"Here we are." said Haruto when they arrived. They then removed their shoes and went in. "Construction of this building was completed in 1985. Lots of remodeling has been done since then, most recently in 2028. Rooms were designed for simple living. I admit the main room is the only really spacious one in the unit, but the bath is a bit spacious as well and toilet is separate, and kitchen in the entrance is fully usable."
"I see." said Keiko "You're right, there's plenty of room for two people."
"There's even a closet." said Saito "And the west facing window will give us a good view of the sunset."
"I know." said Suzuka "I live in the room directly above, and let me tell you, the view is great!"
"But what about the rent?" Keiko asked
"Mito-chan wasn't really exaggerating when she said it was cheap, but the lowest I can offer is ¥90,000 a month, excluding utilities."
"You're kidding." said Saito "We can't afford even that."
"Don't you worry about that." said Mito
"And why might that be?" Keiko asked
"After a bit of chatting, your parents and I decided to pay the rent and utilities for you."
"For real?" said Suzuka
"These two will still have to pay for food themselves though."
"Now hold on!" said Keiko "You guys pay our rent and utilities? Our parents already gave us their consent for us to live together, we can't possibly demand more."
"You're not demanding anything." said Mito "The four of us are offering. Plus, is there any way that you two would be able to pay for any sort of living on your own?" Keiko looked at Saito, who shook his head in response "Further, since you're both still underage, you'd need a parent or guardian's signature to rent anywhere." Keiko and Saito looked even more uncomfortable upon being reminded of this "We're not saying we'll pay forever. More like until you two get past college and become official members of society. When you get yourselves steady jobs and can make it on your own."
"Your parents have already agreed, and are ready to sign the lease if you wish to stay here." said Haruto
Keiko was a little unsure about this. She didn't like the idea of their parents and her aunt paying for their living when they had decided to live on their own. Seeing Keiko looked troubled, Saito held her hand and smiled at Keiko, and she smiled in return, her mind at ease again.
"We'll take the room." Keiko and Saito said in unison
"Splendid!" said Haruto
"Welcome to Sakagami." said Suzuka
Later that evening at the Aizawa house;
Yuki and Shirayuki's had come over to celebrate the couple finding a home at last
"Here's to Keiko and Saito. Félicitations pour avoir trouvé un endroit pour vivre. [Congratulations on finding a place to live.]" said Chloe
"Kanpai!" everyone exclaimed raising their glasses
"Thanks." Keiko replied
"When can you move in?" Michiru asked
"After we get a bed, a table, some other furniture." said Saito "We're going looking tomorrow, but if we can get everything, we can move in at the end of the week or on Monday."
"I still don't like the idea of you guys paying for us." said Keiko
"Nah-uh-uh. No complaining. We're doing this of our free will." said Nana
"We want to ensure that you guys can stay there for the next few years." said Ushio
"So even though we're leaving home, you're still taking care of us." said Keiko
"Can we come around some time?" Ryo asked
"After we get settled in." Keiko replied
"Maybe I should start looking for my own place myself." said Yuki "I'm not exactly welcome at home."
"Living on your own. Maybe I could do the same with Saki-chan." Hiroki mumbled to himself
A few hours later everyone fell asleep after that hard partying. Saito woke up after spending the last few hours sleeping next to Keiko. He then heard the front door open and close and went outside to see what it was. Kakeru had stepped out for a bit of fresh air, and Saito decided to join him.
"Dad?" said Saito, getting Kakeru's attention
"What are you doing up, son?" Kakeru replied
"I just needed a bit of air."
"What about everyone else?"
"Sleeping like babies. I can't get over how cute Keiko-chan looks when she's asleep."
"Even though you've slept with her before?" Kakeru asked slyly
"That's irrelevant!" Saito replied
"He-he-he, I'm just kidding."
"Please don't do that. We've already had it up to here with people constantly calling us a married couple."
"You two should just get married already."
"Still... she's such a lucky girl. She's really fortunate to have a man like you." said Kakeru
"Thanks for the praise, but I'm not really much of a 'man'." Saito said modestly
"Don't sell yourself short. Nana and I have high hopes for you."
"Thanks. I still feel a little nervous about this. Living with my girl, just the two of us. Well, not exactly since Mito-san and Suzuka-senpai live in the building as well."
"I can't exactly say I was in your place. Nana and I didn't start living together until we graduated. Actually, she moved in. And my parents were still living here at the time."
"I see." said Saito
"I'm sure you know this, but, even though we're paying, living on your own is no laughing matter." said Kakeru
"I know. And I know you guys won't support us forever. But we will make it. I'll take care of her, and I'll make her happy."
"I'm sure you will." said Kakeru, bowing as low as he could "I'm placing my eldest daughter in your care. Please... cherish her."
"I won't let you down." said Saito, bowing as well
"But...." said Kakeru as they stood up straight again, suddenly serious "My wife and children are my reason for living. If you ever make Keiko suffer, even a little, then I'm taking her back, and you really don't want to test me."
"I won't disappoint you."