"Miles... we're here."
"Where? There's no other place to eat except this fancy-looking, pocket-emptying restaurant."
"Miles, we're here!"
Eh?! We're eating here?! No way! She must've gotten the wrong place! That place looks like the type of café only available for high-ranking government officials or filthy-rich old men. If she, out of all people, can eat there, then there's something wrong with this world!
"Are you sure that's the right place?"
"I told you to tru-"
"Fine! Okay! Let's eat."
That's if we can eat! The way she's gripping my hands is like she's dying to pull me. And that eager face... I can't say no to that! I'll just go with the flow.
Ahh! I guess I have to switch to cheery Miles! I loathe myself whenever I use it, but without it, I wouldn't be able to socialize... Cheery Miles is only a tool I used to get by the social pyramid of the previous world. Hopefully, it works well here too.
Forget about the previous world! It's been nothing but tragedy since they died, and meeting Ria is the only good thing that happened. It's not enough to heal the wounds, but my time with her did mend it a bit, and that makes it harder to repay my debt.
I lost my parents, miraculously transferred to a new world, decided to use that opportunity to grant my parent's last wish, which is to find my happiness, and I think I-... No, it's too soon. It's only a "maybe" for now, but I'll reach my answer once I've repaid my debt.
"Let's go, Miles!"
"Alright, but don't run."
I don't want us to look like idiots in THAT place.
"Hmm... I won't if you do the talking."
Of course! I saw that coming! Even though she's astonishingly good-looking, she's as socially awkward as I am.
Ria pulled me towards the door, and we were greeted by...
"Good morning sir, how may I help you today?"
This place even has a doorman! Whoever owns this restaurant is basically leaving their money out in the streets, and this dude picks it up!
Speaking of this dude. He doesn't like his job. That fake cheery aura and smile, and the way he wags his foot up and down and tries to hide it behind the doorman's desk. So even this world has corporate slaves.
That's a feature that should remain in the last world. As I spend more time here, this world starts to resemble the last one.
"Is there a table for two available?"
"Yes! Just ask the waiters. They'll lead you to it!"
This guy is suffering. It's not much, but...
While reaching for his shoulders to pat his back, I said "Thank you... Have a nice day!"
A pat on your back is all I can give right now.
Being satisfied with suffering from your "job" is like staying in a burning house on a cold night. People are usually content with suffering if it's for the sake of someone else, but you don't have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.
I don't know what you're going through, but push through it, so if somehow we come back to this place, a depressed corporate slave won't be the one greeting us.
As Ria and I walked past the door, I can't help but feel like a dirty peasant the moment I entered the restaurant... Ah! Like I give a fuck! We came here to eat, not flex our social status! I'll just make it quick! Where's the waiter?
"Excuse me, sir... A table for two please."
"A table for the couple! Please follow me."
Huh?! A couple?! Do we look like that?! Come to think of it, we've been holding hands all this time. She never let go ever since we ran out of that house on the floating islands.
AH! This isn't the time to be embarrassed! Even though she's an idiot, she's still a girl. She'll get flustered, and things will be awkward. I can't let that happen.
"Ah... w-we're not a co-"
With a bashful voice, Ria said "Couple?"
Eh?! What's with that face?! She's blushing?! Oy! Give me a break! And her tone sounds shy and happy?! There's nothing to be pleased about except... Don't tell me! But!
"Miles... What's a couple?"
But romance has to be the last thing on her mind. That almost got me! She's still an idiot after all,
"Oh! I see? Please follow me."
Do I answer Ria's question? But I don't know what to answer, and what is a couple anyway? I've never experienced that, so how should I know! Screw it! I want to eat.
"Don't worry... I got you, man!"
This waiter whispered to me...
Thank you! If there was anything to thank you for! Can't I enjoy holding her hand without any misunderstandings? Clearing that up now would be a waste of time, so I'll play along, and Ria doesn't seem to mind...
I whispered back, "Thanks... I owe you!"
"Please sit here!"
Woah. A table for two with the classic romantic setting and hidden from the sight of other guests. If what I'm doing is what this waiter thinks it is, I'd leave a winning lottery ticket as a tip. Thank you for your service! You're a friend to every man on this planet!
"Thank you, waiter... Have a nice day!"
Now he's gone... time to drop the act.
"So... what do you want to eat, Ria?"
"Let me think..."
Eh? What's with her face? She looks troubled, and her eyes look like they've seen a devil. Could it be? The misunderstanding made her uncomfortable?! That has to be it! This is what I get for overestimating myself!
"Uhh... Ria? Is there anything wrong?"
"Miles... are you always like that?"
Always like what? Oh! That's what she meant! I get why she's shocked, but why is she troubled?
"What do you mean?"
"It's just... you're different this time."
I know that, but why?
"W-Why do you say so, Ria?"
"You're cheery this time, b-but... I just... l-like you... I l-like the other Miles better!"
Hahaha... What does she mean by that? I switch to this persona, so people can approach me, and I can approach them.
Whenever I use cheery Miles, it's like I left my body for some time and let someone else use it. It's supposed to be the only time I'd consider myself likable, but she said she likes me better? That's the most profound thing she has said. She hit a specific spot only my parents could reach. If she keeps saying things like that, I don't need to look for it anymore.
"Miles? Why is your hand sweating? And your face i-"
We were still holding hands?!
"It's sweating more,"
I hurried my hand away, and said "Ah! It's nothing!"
"Is anything wrong?"
"Nothing! But... Thank you... Ria."
Without my knowledge, my cheek muscles contracted to form a smile on my face.
"Woah! You smiled! Yehey!"
Did I smile? I haven't done that subconsciously before, so I can't tell. You usually smile if you're happy, but I have never smiled with my parents.
It's not that they were nothing to me. My parents were everything I had in the last world, but I couldn't find anything to be happy about. I was a burden to them. No matter how kind they are or how much they ignore the thought, you can't deny that I was a deadweight; I guess that's the reason why I don't smile around them.
How could I smile and act like I'm enjoying life if I'm a burden to the people who were everything to me?
Enough of that. I should be thanking Ria. Having my first smile with her is one step closer to a specific answer.
"Uh... w-what brought this on, Ria?"
"Miles, you kept smiling at other people... but you never smiled at me!"
She's pouting, and she's jealous?! So that's why she said that! What a childish reason!
"What do you mean by that's all?"
Woah.... That's a first. Ria seems annoyed by my remark, and it's weird. Why am I enjoying it? I didn't know being annoying is enjoyable. Am I a sadist?!
"Let's just eat!"
"Ria... I thought your hunger went away."
I'm grinning at her... she won't get pissed, right?
Her face suddenly changed. She looks shocked, and her pout face looks heavier. She must've thought I'm not capable of teasing. Too bad, if you experience it enough, you'll learn how to do it, although mine was... more intense.
"So... what do you want to eat?"
"Uhh... hmm... I don't know. I can't understand anything."
The menu must be full of dishes with unpronounceable names. Whoever understands it must be a higher being.
"Let me see, Ria"
Yikes! The price is throwing blades at my existence, and the dishes are beyond articulation.
"Ria... What about... Chicken Calderetta?"
It has chicken in its name, and the appearance looks edible? It must be the only easy-to-eat food on the menu.
"Excuse me, waiter! I'd like to order.""
"Good morning, sir. Please state your order."
"Two of... uhh... this and two glasses of water."
"Okay! Please wait for seven minutes. Is there anything else you need?"
After saying the word "water," I have the sudden urge to piss, and I'm curious about this world's toilets. Does it magically disappear? Or the same as the last world? These are the questions that will haunt you in your sleep.
"Can you show me where the toilet is?"
"Just walk towards that sign."
I got up from my seat, and said, "Thanks."
"I don't know what the hell both of you talked about, but good job!"
This waiter whispered! What the hell! Wrong timing, dude! Ria's going to notice-
"Miles... what are you talking about?"
Good going, you idiot! This waiter has the wrong idea, and that's going to make her uncomfortable.
"Nothing... he's just telling me about the issues in the toilet."
That innocent face! I feel like a bastard lying to her! I'll just walk away...
"I'll go to the toilet. Wait here, okay?
"Hmmph! Make it quick."
Now she's a manipulative girlfriend. Well, time to piss!
I approached the sign the waiter told me to follow, and as I walk, I can't help but notice! Just breathing the air of this restaurant feels wrong. The décor, the lighting, the menu, the number of workers, and the food appear too elaborate for me. It's like trying to show an ant the wonders of the internet.
Using the time machine simile from earlier, it feels like I entered a banquet in a medieval castle owned by a revered king of a thriving empire. But contradictory to this grandiloquent display, the customers here are... of the same social status as me... I'd say.
Their casual clothing is night and day from what I expected; filthy rich old men and high-ranking government officials with suits.
But the prices were slapping my face, so how do these people afford such ludicrous? Enter cliché quote "don't judge a book by its cover." I'm in no position to play judge anyway. It may be a fashion trend in this world. Not that it bothers us, so I'll just go back to my piss.
So, this is the toilet entrance... It's not that different... Honestly, I don't know why I was expecting. Well, whatev-
Where's the damn door?! How do I enter it?! It's just a semi-translucent, rectangle-shaped wall with no door handles. Is it off-limits? Now?! Of all times?! It's going to explode!
"Sir... is anything wrong?"
A voice interrupted... it was another waiter.
"Uhh... Is the toilet closed, Mr. Waiter?"
"Pardon me, sir? The toilet is wide open. Just walk through."
"Ahh... T-Thank you?"
Walk through?! Does it work like that mysterious invisible barrier from earlier? Well, as long as I can take my piss.
Woah... it does! It's like those illusions in sci-fi movies. And the toilet! At first glance, and it's already worth more than my life! The grandiloquent medieval castle theme extends here.
Well, time to take my royal piss.
Ahh! That's refreshing! And the flush! The water disappeared! So supernatural shit does exist here! I'll ask Ria to teach me! I'll go to the mirror, fix my hair and go back to m-
"Behold... the melancholy of tomorrow."