It was evening.
It was evening.
Wispy clouds were scattered over the clear skies, and the setting sun shone warmly over the earth. It still a little hot, but a refreshing breeze blew away the daytime heat. It was summertime, at the end of the rainy season. It happened to be a Sunday.
A girl stood on the balcony of the school dormitory.
The dorms stood amidst a verdant green forest. There were two rectangular buildings, each five storeys high. The cylindrical building sandwiched between them contained the student cafeteria and the staff room.
The girl, appearing to be in her mid-teens, stood on the third floor balcony of this dormitory with her elbows on the railings and a bored look on her face.
Her short black hair fluttered in the wind. She was a pretty girl with a pleasant face.
She was wearing a pair of green shorts and a light green T-shirt. Printed in small font on the left-hand side of the T-shirt were the words "You will only speak when spoken to". On the back of the shirt were printed the words, "But the Marine Corps lives forever" in large type. They were both written in a very cute font. A little below was the quote, "And that means you live forever". No one knows where they sell shirts like this, so please don't ask. (1)
"Phew…" The girl sighed. Her voice was carried into the summer skies by the breeze.
"What's wrong, Kino? You've done nothing but sigh for the past little while." A voice said suddenly. It certainly did not belong to the girl--the voice sounded more like that of a young boy. And yet balcony was empty, save for the girl. The balconies next door and above were also deserted.
"Is it because you have to go to school again tomorrow? But it's going to be summer break soon… Oh, wait! I got it! I bet you're worried about your first term report card, right?" Asked the mysterious voice. The girl--Kino--did not seem surprised in any way by the disembodied voice.
"That's not it. Not that I'm not worried…"
She continued, "It's the school… there just seem to be way too many people here who fall for the temptation of evil…"
"What, that's it? That's only--" said the mystery voice. Kino rummaged through her pocket and took out a cell phone strap. It was a simple green and yellow strap, made of leather and metal. Attached to it was not a cellphone (that Kino did not own), but a key that wasn't her room key.
"Only what, Hermes?" Asked Kino, bringing the strap to eye-level. If anyone could see this, Kino might have been admitted to an asylum. However--
"That's only--" Hermes answered in a perfectly calm voice. It seemed that the voice was coming from the phone strap.
Hermes continued in a knowing tone, "That's only because young people have a great deal of anxiety and stress about life. Their future, friendships, romance, school…"
"Really…?" Kino muttered. She didn't seem to get it.
"Yes, really. You're the only one who thinks about nothing but eating and sleeping, Kino." Hermes declared. Kino, taking offence to that, immediately took action.
Kino chucked Hermes.
"You're actually throwing me--- ahhhh…"
Poor Hermes could do nothing but scream as he flew in an arc and disappeared into the woods.
<The School Arc--Previously on>
Kino, Hermes, and Shizu had been travelling through space in pursuit of the Galactic Overlord. As they visited a backwater planet to stock up on supplies, the Goddess of the planet, valuing their fighting skills, asked them for help.
Kino and company, having mercilessly declined, were taken against their will. Injected with false memories, Kino, Hermes, and the extremely popular and handsome Shizu found themselves going to school.
The main character of this story--Kino, the high school student, transforms into the Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino in order to defeat students-turned demons and restore them to human form.
I think some mysterious perv calling himself "Samoyed Mask" might have something to do with the story, too. Who in the world could he possibly be?
This is a quick summary of the events that have so far taken place.
The story this time takes place after two or three incidents of students turning into demons and being safely turned back to normal, with some perv in a mask interfering each time…
If this were an anime, it would count as approximately episode five?
Gakuen Kino Chapter 2: The Annoying Guy is a Transfer Student, woof! ~Before Dog Days~
"--I ended up throwing him… but now I have to go find him again…" Kino complained, as she left the dorms and headed into the forest.
Kino was wearing sneakers and a light parka, because the sun was going down and it was getting a bit chilly. Emblazoned loudly on the light yellow parka was the quote, "Upham! Ammo, Goddamn it!"(2)
Around her waist was a belt with multiple pouches attached. On the holster on the right side of her waist was a model gun. At the moment it was a piece of perfectly legal plastic, but when Kino transformed, it became a dangerous weapon she used to seal demons--the Big Cannon~ Shining Iron Demon Destroyer.
The forest was dark and empty. A crow cawed in the distance.
"Maybe I ended up throwing him even further? Hermes! Answer me if you can hear me! I promise I won't throw you again! Probably."
Kino searched through the woods, but the summer overgrowth was making it difficult for her. The sun had set, and the area was getting darker.
"If I don't find him, I guess I'll just have to give up. Maybe I'll see him again someday." Said Kino. She's a cruel person.
Suddenly, she heard a rustle from the foliage, about 10 metres away. It was quite loud.
Kino, guarded, looked in the direction of the noise. She saw nothing but trees and foot-long grass. There was no one there.
"Who's there?" She asked. Kino received no answer, but the rustling noise got even closer.
"Could it be a demon…?"
Worry crossed Kino's face. She reached for the model gun at her side. Maybe she could get the jump on the enemy. --maybe not. --no, wait, maybe she could. --I guess it'll be too difficult.
"Where is it?"
There's no use asking the ground, Kino. Look straight ahead of you.
The rustling sounds came even closer.
Kino's eyes flashed, ready to face the demon.
However, a fluffy white head poked itself out of a bush a little ways away.
"What… it was a dog?"
It was indeed a dog. Nothing unusual for one to be hiding in the bushes.
"He's pretty cute."
He was indeed a pretty cute dog. He was covered in long white fur. His almond-shaped eyes and fluffy face made it look as though he was smiling. His pointed ears occasionally twitched.
"He's a really big dog."
He was indeed a large dog, at least one metre in length from nose to tail. He must be quite big.
The white dog approached Kino without so much as a snarl or a glare. Kino beckoned the dog over.
She crouched in front of the dog and petted its head.
"Good boy. Nice doggy."
It seemed she had completely forgotten about Hermes. The dog took a seat and allowed for more pettings.
After Kino spent a bit of time petting the dog's head and neck, she asked, "Did you run away from home? Did you want to be free, Papillon?"
The peaceful moment was very quickly interrupted.
"Help… me…" Hermes croaked. His voice was muted. Kino looked around to find him.
"Hermes? …Where are you?"
The voice was coming from nearby. Kino's eyes were wide with surprise when the dog opened its mouth and deposited something onto the grass.
It was Hermes, who was earlier unceremoniously tossed by Kino. He was completely covered in sticky dog drool.
"That was terrible…" Hermes complained.
"You found him for me? Good dog." Kino praised the dog, pretending she hadn't even heard Hermes.
Hermes, still lying on the grass, complained, "How could you just throw me away like that, Kino? Thanks to you, I ended up stuck inside a suspicious dog's mouth."
No sooner had Hermes finished speaking that the dog looked straight at him and growled.
"What, you wanna pick a fight? You're just a dog!"
There was a tense moment of mutual antagonism, but Kino swiftly ended it by picking up Hermes, wiping him on some grass, and lifting him up to her face.
"That was close. Thanks, Kino."
"That dog saved you, Hermes. You could try being a bit nicer."
"No. He's way too suspicious."
"I don't know exactly what it is, but I'm getting a bad feeling about him. I bet he's the leader of all the demons! He's gotta be!"
"What are you talking about? Did you hit your head when you fell, Hermes?"
"Says the person who chucked me off the third floor! Anyway, this dog's really suspicious. I can feel it! He's up to no good!"
"All right, all right."
"Are you even listening to me, Kino?! He's definitely untrustworthy!"
Kino put the shouting Hermes in her pant pocket. The dog had stopped growling, so she lightly patted it on the head and said, "I have to go. It's almost dinnertime. Thanks for your help."
"Woof." The dog barked, as if he had understood Kino.
"What a smart dog. Bye now."
Kino turned and headed back to the dorms.
The white dog sat on the ground, staring at Kino's retreating figure.
Kino eventually disappeared into the foliage. The woods were deserted.
"Hah. That human was so easy to manipulate…" The dog mumbled in human tongue. He had the voice of a world-weary middle-aged man.
A strange light appeared in his eyes. He still appeared to be smiling because his face was shaped that way.
Seriously. He was really laughing. After indulging himself in content laughter for some time, he pushed himself off the ground with a strange cry.
And then--my God! The concrete walls of the garage that did nothing but get in the car's way had turned into an amazing food cabinet--I mean, the dog's body was enveloped in a faint light.
In the dark woods, the dog-shaped light source slowly began to grow larger. He grew taller. He was human height.
The light eventually took on the form of a lean human being, about the same height as Kino.
A moment later, the light faded away into particles with a "whoosh".
"This should be about right…"
No longer was it a dog standing alone in the woods.
It was a human--a boy who appeared to be about the same age as Kino.
He was quite the prettyboy, to boot. His beautiful face would give anyone who looked upon it the chills.
His unruly long hair cascaded over his shoulders. It was bright white. Each individual strand shone semi-transparently as it fluttered in the wind. He had sharp black eyes that one could drown in. He was extremely lean, and his skin was so pale it seemed to diametrically oppose everything tanning salons stood for.
The above descriptors could also very well describe a young woman, but at the moment, no such confusion was possible. It was impossible to not figure out that he was male.
Why? Because he was completely naked.
"First, I should find some clothing." The dog-turned prettyboy muttered in a boyish voice, and plucked a large leaf from nearby. His attempt to walk through the woods, covering his ______ area with a leaf and with his rear in plain view, was quite the eyesore.
Editorial dept.: "This is the infamous Dengeki Bunko Editorial Department. Whaddaya want?"
Sigsawa: "Hello, this is Sigsawa, the lazy author. I'd like to speak to my editor, ________."
Editorial dept: "Gimme a sec."
Editor: "Hey Sigsawa! I've read through until this part. It's pretty good!"
Sigsawa: "Thank you. I finally had Riku appear like I hinted earlier, but…"
Editor: "Yeah, good job."
Sigsawa: "About that… since I properly followed up on the foreshadowing from last chapter, can I just cut him from the plot now?"
Editor: "Absolutely not! What's gotten into you?"
Sigsawa: "I'm afraid the Riku fans might tear me to shreds…"
Editor: "Don't worry about that. Remember how you turned all the Shizu fans against you last chapter? Compared to that, this is a cakewalk."
Editor: "Now get back to work on the rest of the chapter. You're way past the deadline anyway."
Sigsawa: "Yes sir…"
So the story continues.
Students began to filter into the school. It was not long before summer break would begin.
This academy housed both a junior high and high school. The students would be referred to as years first through sixth. Of course, anyone who's read the first chapter would know this.
The girls' uniforms were sailor suits. For the boys, they had a choice of either a white high-collar shirt and white pants, or grey pants and dress shirt with a tie embroidered with the school crest.
Students who lived in the area took the school bus from a nearby bus stop and were dropped off in front of the school. Dormitory students like Kino had to make their way uphill from the dormitory buildings to the school.
Once again, it was a bright, sunny day. It was shaping up to be a very hot day.
Kino walked uphill with the other students, under the shade of the green cherry blossom trees. She was wearing her sailor suit today, but like yesterday, she wore the belt with pouches and the model gun. She was carrying a light beige messenger bag bag by the shoulder strap.
"Looks like you're going to be on time today, huh?" Hermes asked discreetly, hanging from the belt.
"I might get into trouble if I'm late any more this term."
"But there isn't much more of this left. I can just kill time in class, and soon it'll be summer break. Then I'll be able to take a break from that Justice thing. I won't have to see Pervert Mask, either. I can't wait." Kino muttered, as she continued the walk to school.
As a side note, repairs were being done on the school building from the crack of dawn. Part of it was because of the monster attacks, but a good chunk of the damage was done by a trigger-happy Kino. More than half of the rest was collateral damage created by a certain masked man and his katana.
"Good morning, everyone," greeted Kino's homeroom teacher, as he walked into the classroom at the sound of the bell. He was an old man of over 70 years, but there was no mandatory retirement age in the school because it was a private academy. Occasionally he would stray from the lessons and tell autobiographical and slightly risque tales of his days as a young womanizer. The students lovingly nicknamed him "Pervy Old Man".
"Hmm… I don't have any announcements concerning the lesson, but…" The teacher paused for a moment, but continued.
"We have a new transfer student."
Everyone was a bit surprised. Transfer students were not particularly a rare species in this private boarding school, but it was unusual for anyone to transfer into class at this time of year. After all, there was less than a week until summer break would begin. They did practically nothing in class until summer break started. Most students would not transfer into the new school until after the break--who would remember the new kid after the summer, anyway?
The teacher opened the classroom door and called in the new student.
The class's collective gaze turned to the door. Approximately one person, a girl sitting beside the window at the very back of the classroom carrying a model gun, didn't seem too interested, but she spared a glance anyway.
A moment later, chaos descended upon the classroom. A kind of chatty, excitable chaos that manifested in exclamations such as "Oh?" "Wow!" "Kyaaa!" etc.
The source of the chaos was the new student who set foot into the classroom.
His white dress shirt clued everyone into the fact that he was male, but his pants were black instead of the usual grey.
He was the very young man who was roaming through the forest butt-naked last night. Of course, no one in the class could possibly know that.
His beautiful long hair and pretty face made the hearts of girls in the class (as well as some guys, who immediately shook their heads and muttered, "no, no…" under their breaths) go aflutter.
The class knew better than to scream like fangirls at the new transfer student, but the girls in the class had a certain glint in their eyes. The girls, with the exception of approximately one--the one with the model gun.
The boy walked up to the front amidst the attention. He was perfectly calm despite the dozens of pairs of eyes trained upon him. The sound of the teacher writing the boy's name on the blackboard played like background music.
What could his name be? It must be something cool. It has to be. It must be an amazing name.
Those were the only things going through the minds of the girls. Just as they say that the opposite of love is ambivalence, humans want to know everything they can about people they're interested in.
The sound of chalk against slate ceased, and--
"Let me introduce the new student." The teacher turned around. The name written on the blackboard and the teacher's gentle voice assaulted the students in unison.
"His name is Inuyama Wanwan Rikutarou(3)."
Inuyama Wanwan Rikutarou.
Inuyama Wanwan Rikutarou.
Inuyama Wanwan Rikutarou.
A sense of bloodlust and hatred for the cruel, unfair world and the new student's parents began to permeate the classroom. Several of the girls were on the verge of collapse.
"Nice to meet you, everyone." Said Inuyama, in a bright voice that perfectly matched his appearance.
"Inuyama has been living in Brushels, Beljium because of his parents' jobs."
"It's Brussels, Belgium, sir." Inuyama corrected.
"Sorry about that. Anyway, he's come back to Japan alone, and will be moving into the dorms. He's just arrived this morning, so please lend him a hand whenever you can. Now, as for your seat…"
The teacher looked around and pointed out to an empty seat.
"Looks like the seat beside Kino's is open."
Of course, it just had to be the seat next to Kino. The girls sighed enviously.
Kino, who was blankly staring out the window, was taken by surprise when the teacher called her name.
Just as Kino refocused her gaze, Inuyama made his way over. He was right in front of Kino in the blink of an eye.
"Nice to meet you, Kino. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance." Said Inuyama, with a refreshing smile on his face. He was being strangely formal.
"Oh… Hi." Kino answered halfheartedly.
Amongst the green-eyed girls in the classroom was one particular young lady who exuded a particularly dark aura.
There was a small bell attached to the phone strap on her red flip-phone in her desk. You've probably noticed, but this is foreshadowing. Please remember this character.
The lesson began.
Classes from first period to third period were mostly going over exam results, but Inuyama stuck very close to Kino the entire time. Of course, this even included the breaks.
"You're so quiet, Kino."
"That model gun looks great on you, Kino."
"What a strange cell phone strap you have."
Of course, other students tried to talk to Inuyama during breaks, but he ignored them all.
Kino, on the other hand, answered Inuyama's questions as politely as she could without antagonizing him. She could feel the glares from other parts of the classroom burning into her skin.
"What's with him? He's so annoying." Kino complained quietly. It was breaktime, just before fourth period began. Kino told Inuyama, who was peppering her with questions, that she was going to the washroom, and left the class. Once she finished her business, Kino didn't go back to the classroom--she took a detour and stopped at the semi-basement landing. She was in the middle of complaining to Hermes, whom she had lifted up to her face.
"Kino… There's something suspicious about that transfer student." Said Hermes, in a quiet voice.
"He is, isn't he? Why can't he go bother someone else? Everyone's dying to talk to him--why does he have to annoy me, of all people?"
"No, that's not what I'm worried about--although it's true guys don't try to approach you a lot, Kino."
"Are you trying to make me angry?"
"No, no. It's just that… I'm getting a bad feeling about that Inuyama guy."
"Again? That's what you said about the dog yesterday."
"It is. It's kind of similar this time, but somehow different." Hermes' voice was unusually serious. Kino stared at him curiously. Soon, the bell rang.
"Oh no! The fourth period teacher's really strict about tardiness. I'd better get back."
Kino put Hermes on her belt and ran up the stairs in the hopes of making it to class on time.
Kino hurried back into class.
"The teacher has a cold, so we have a quiet study period."
Unfortunately, the this had no bearing on the actual state of the classroom. Students were chattering moderately loudly, eating their lunches early, reading manga, taking naps, and enjoying their free time. Several of the boys headed to the library with a box in hand.
"I'm gonna take a nap." Kino mumbled. She was planning to wake up in time to make it to the student cafeteria just as it opened (about 15 minutes before fourth period ended), but--
The white-haired prettyboy, Inuyama Wanwan Rikutarou, talked to her with that refreshing smile on his face. Kino, who had fallen asleep within 3 and a half seconds of her face hitting the desk, turned to face him with an obvious look of displeasure.
"You're beautiful even when you're angry."
"You made me angry just to say that?" Kino's words already had an antagonistic tone to them. On a side note, Inuyama was surrounded by a group of girls who wanted to talk to him, but he was still completely ignoring them.
"No, that's not it… I was wondering if you'd show me around the school, since we have a study period."
"What? Why me? …go ask someone else."
"It's because you're sitting next to me. I really like you, Kino. I'd love it if you could show me around."
A strange combination of sounds echoed from behind Inuyama's smiling visage--the sound of pencils and desks snapping, veins popping, handkerchiefs being bitten into, and muscles expanding monstrously.
'If I stay here, I'll be killed.' thought Kino. Her sense of potential disaster aversion was greater than that of a certain country's Prime Minister.
"O-okay! Thanks! I'll show you around. Follow me, quick." Kino got up from her seat and escaped the murderous classroom, dragging Inuyama by hand.
The girls in the classroom began complaining with thoughts like, 'Why's he asking her, of all people?', 'She doesn't even stand out.', 'All she does is eat.', 'She's nothing but a model gun geek', and 'What does he see in her?'
One girl, however, was quiet. She merely walked through the other classroom doors in silence, footsteps heavy.
The bell on the cell phone in her hand did not make a sound.
"As I thought, you're such a kind person."
"I'm not. I'll give you a quick tour and ditch you once the cafeteria opens."
Kino and Inuyama were walking through the hallways, speaking quietly so they wouldn't disturb the other classes.
"If that's the case, shall we have lunch together? I'm planning to eat at the cafeteria as well." Asked Inuyama, face brightly lit with a smile.
"No." Kino replied immediately.
Still, being a fundamentally good person, Kino showed Inuyama around the school.
"--That's the A/V room. We watch Discovery Channel shows there. They turn out the lights during the screenings, so it's perfect for taking naps. Over there are the junior high classrooms. The first years are pretty adorable, but sometimes they're really loud. Here's the music room. We draw nose hairs on the Brahms portrait, goatees on the Liszt portrait, and topknots on the Bach portrait. This is the nurse's office. About 10% of the people here are lightly injured, and 90% are ditching class. Once in a really long time, you get seriously injured people here. There's the faculty office. It's always messy for some reason--they made the area smoke-free, so apparently people have to go to the windowside to smoke. That's the library. It's where they keep all the books. I hear a bunch of people get together and play with dice. This is the Ninomiya Sontoku statue. They say it walks around at night when no one's looking. This here's the science lab. They keep all the litmus paper here. The teacher brews coffee in the beakers, so people call the place 'The Cafe'. Over here's the washrooms. No explanation needed, right? They installed heating systems and bidets last year. This is the staff room. That lady named Satake is a walking dictionary. Over that way are the sports clubs' offices. They smell like sweat. Across from there's the second club room that the anime, manga, and video game clubs use. Normal people don't really go there. It's sometimes called 'The Moe Tower'. There's the assembly hall. It's perfect for falling asleep. Over here's the pool, AKA 'Mariana'. It's really deep because of the diving boards. And the gym. It's still under repairs because some idiot destroyed it with a sword. That's everything."
There was still some time left, even after the full tour.
"Finished. I'm gonna kill some time until the cafeteria opens, so we can split up here. Bye."
The moment Kino took her first step from the school entrance, Inuyama asked, "Um, where are you going?"
"The rooftop. Don't follow me." Kino replied. Inuyama walked right up to her and smiled.
"I don't think I've seen that part of the school yet."
"This is the rooftop. Happy now?" Asked Kino, once they had reached the deserted rooftop. The summer sun shone down upon them. The forests stretched out into the distance. It was a little hot, but it wasn't very humid and the rooftop was cooled by a refreshing breeze.
"I see. Thank you very much. The view from here is wonderful--I feel so at ease here."
Inuyama was as attractive as always, but to Kino, he was nothing but a pest. She was planning to spend the rest of the period talking with Hermes.
"The wind is so nice."
Unfortunately, it seemed that the handsome young man had taken a liking to this place. He leaned against the recently repaired railings, hair aflutter in the wind.
"I'm gonna go back to class now." Kino excused herself, as she stepped towards the metal doors.
"…This guy's insane." Kino mumbled, and turned to face him. Inuyama, face radiant, hair blowing in the wind, looked Kino straight in the eye.
"I think you're a truly wonderful person."
That was a very sudden thing to say. Kino frowned.
"You're so very kind, too. I was moved by your gentleness."
Kino wanted to yell, 'you were the one who dragged me around!', but she shut herself up, feeling that Inuyama wouldn't be fazed even if she took a sledgehammer to his face.
"Leaving my home country like that… maybe I was feeling lonely, somewhere deep down."
Kino refrained from saying, 'who cares?'.
"I'm a little embarrassed at myself for saying goodbye to my parents at the airport with such overconfidence."
She also refrained from saying, 'if you didn't notice, this is pretty embarrassing, too'.
"But maybe the Goddess of Fate is smiling down upon me. No, maybe it's the Goddess of Love…"
Kino was very close to telling him, 'maybe you should get yourself checked out by the Goddess of Mental Health', but held herself back with great effort.
"So, what I mean to say is… I love you! Will you go out with me?"
"Huh…?" Kino mumbled, "What?"
She took a moment to be surprised that she had just been confessed to.
"W-w-w-w-w-wait a sec. W-w-w-w-what are you talking about?"
And of course, being in this very unfamiliar situation, she fell into a panic.
"So, this suspiciously dubious prettyboy says he wants to be your boyfriend, Kino." Hermes explained, breaking the silence.
"What do you say?"
Inuyama had already taken Kino's hands in his.
"My intentions are completely serious! I love you!"
Inuyama's love confessions struck with perfectly shocking timing.
"N-no. I, d-d-d-d-"
"You do like me? I'm so happy to hear that!"
Inuyama's lines so precisely rendered Kino dumbstruck.
"Wait!" Kino waved her hands about. Because Inuyama was holding her hands, it looked almost like the two were dancing.
"Let me go!" Kino spun around, removing her hands from Inuyama's grip, and stepped back.
"Hold it! I don't like you!" She uttered, trying to catch her breath.
"Then you can start now! You can come to love me from this point on! Right? Of course you will. Our romance is only just beginning!"
Inuyama never lost his cool.
"Ugh…" Kino, at a loss for words, was thinking dangerous thoughts of taking out the prettyboy with one of the machine guns in her pouch.
A clear voice rang out over the school rooftop. Kino and Inuyama looked in the direction of the voice, coming from the other end of the rooftop.
He was a tidy-looking young man with a melancholy look in his eyes. His slightly long black hair danced in the wind. His pristine white uniform was topped by a single katana strapped to the belt.
He walked over quietly, gaze unwavering. The sound of his every step rang out clearly. The afternoon sun shone off the katana. A dove flew past him. In slow motion, at that.
Inuyama's eyes flashed sharply. For a single moment, his eyes filled with many complex feelings--hatred and resentment, love and loathing, master and servant, trust and betrayal, past and future, truth and lies, apples and oranges, Yamada-kun and the seat cushion, among others.
"Oh, Shizu-senpai…" Kino muttered reflexively.
That's right. His name was Shizu. A sixth year in the academy, which equates to a third-year high school student.
Handsome good looks, elegance, top-of-the-class academics, and top-notch athletic skills. Shizu was the most popular student in the entire school, bar none. His trademark katana was at his side, well-maintained as usual. Please don't worry about the blatant ignorance of weapon possession laws--stuff like this is pretty common.
These days, it was rumoured that Shizu was often seen in the music room, practicing all kinds of instruments, like guitar, piano, drums, and saxophone.
Shizu imposingly stepped forward and stopped exactly 2 metres and 35 centimetres in front of Kino and Inuyama.
"Good afternoon, Kino. Thank you for the melon bread the other day." He smiled, talking naturally to Kino with a hint of melancholy in his voice.
Kino bowed quickly in surprise. "It was nothing. Oh, good afternoon."
Shizu greeted her in reply. He turned to Inuyama with a sharp look that almost resembled a glare.
"It's not very courteous to coerce a lady." Pointing out common sense to shame the opposition--it was truly a Shizu-brand technique. Inuyama reluctantly brought himself back down to earth.
"I understand, senpai. It's my first day at this school--I guess I got carried away."
Kino was a little surprised to see Inuyama back down so easily, after he had so persistently fought off all of her attempts to get rid of him.
"I'm glad you understand." Said Shizu.
"Yeah. I didn't know Kino had such a perfect boyfriend."
Inuyama's words left Kino in extreme surprise. Shizu seemed to have been shocked in his own way, as well. They were both at a loss for words.
"I'm sorry for getting in the way of your rooftop date."
"Huh? Wait, we're not--"
"If you'll excuse me."
Inuyama didn't even try to listen to Kino as he smiled calmly and ran downstairs, white hair swishing in the wind.
The duo broke their stares at Inuyama's retreating figure and ended up facing each other.
An awkward silence. Kino looked down at the concrete floor, and Shizu look up at the blue sky.
Inuyama, who had run past the metal doors and arrived at the landing, smiled.
The prettyboy's laughter was surprisingly disturbing.
"I've found you… I've found you…" He muttered, as he put his hand upon the railing.
"I've finally found you…"
The steel railing crumpled easily under the strength of a single one of his fingers.
Meanwhile at the rooftop, the so-called couple had yet to break the silence.
A light wind blew through them.
They spoke to each other at once.
And they stopped themselves in unison.
"No, you first."
These two sure were in sync. In the old days, when two people said the same thing at the same time, whoever said "Jinx" last would have to shut up. Do they still do that? Please let me know.
"You're not my boyfriend, right?"
Kino finally blurted out, face slightly pink.
"Yes. I know that." Shizu answered calmly.
They spent several seconds in silence.
"Oh! Thanks for your help just now."
"Think nothing of it."
Kino and Shizu's conversation started. It took them this long to start a normal conversation. Kino, who had regained most of her calm, sighed heavily.
"I came here because we have a study period. If I'm bothering you, I'll just leave."
"You're not a bother at all. I like this place as well." said Shizu. He walked over to the edge and leaned against the newly-repaired railing. As a side note, he was currently skipping class, but no one said anything about it. In a sense, he was truly a free spirit.
Kino followed him to the railings and stood about 2 metres away from him.
Another moment of silence.
"Since then… I've been doing some thinking." Shizu blurted out suddenly, looking into the distance. It took Kino a second to understand what he was talking about.
"Oh…" Kino remembered the first time they spoke, on this very rooftop.
"Good for you."
"Yes, it's a good thing." Shizu nodded.
"Thinking, huh?" Kino quietly mumbled. She seemed to have something weighing on her mind.
Shizu turned towards Kino, her profile framed against the sky.
"Is it my turn, then?" He asked half-jokingly.
"Huh? No, it's nothing. Don't worry about it!" Kino shook her head, flustered.
She could never tell him that she was responsible for defeating the demons that occasionally rampaged through the school, nor could she ever talk about the perverted masked man who would sincerely laugh as he worsened each situation.
So she talked about something else.
"Well… I'm just a little hungry. I wonder if they're serving curry udon at the cafeteria today… stuff like that. I guess the fact that I don't have anything weighing on my mind is what worries me? Hahaha."
This wasn't a complete lie--Kino was a firm believer in the tastiness of curry udon in the summertime.
"I see…" Shizu went back to staring into the distance, with a hint of relief on his face. "I also eat curry udon at the cafeteria sometimes. It's certainly delicious."
"Isn't it? The generous helpings of chicken and the inch-length green onion slices, and the minced ginger toppings are the highlight."
"Yes. Ginger contains zingerone, shogaols, and gingerols. These oils help maintain high body temperature and are good for your stomach. It helps prevent nausea and helps fight harmful bacteria. It also acts as an antioxidant."
"I don't really understand, but it sounds really healthy."
"Exactly. In addition, the spices used in curry help enhance one's appetite, and udon digests quickly enough that it provides energy for the body quickly."
"You're really smart, Shizu-senpai."
"I am a man who has dedicated his heart to the sword."
What's that supposed to mean?
In any case, these two, leaning against the railing and chatting together, looked like a couple, even to people other than Inuyama.
Even though they were talking about curry udon.
Even though their conversation occasionally went off the rails.
Meanwhile, a girl watched them from afar with a pair of binoculars. She was alone in the sports club's office all by her lonesome self. Her red cell phone had a strap with a bell attached to it. The Tasco high-end military-use binoculars (don't ask why they're there) in her hands were pointed straight at Shizu and Kino's smiling faces.
The girl's lips were pursed tightly. She ground her teeth. At that exact moment--
"Do you hate her?" Asked a voice. The tiny club office was empty save for lost set of gym uniforms. It was a suspiciously disembodied male voice.
"Do you hate that girl?"
"I hate her." The girl answered firmly. So great was her anger that she didn't even care about the source of the disembodied voice. She again ground her teeth.
"I hate that model gun geek bitch… she had the nerve to turn down Inuyama, and now she's after the school's Prince Shizu…"
Kino wasn't particularly going after Shizu, but the girl had no way of knowing that. The binoculars in her hand trembled.
The mysterious voice spoke again.
"Do you want power?"
"What kind of power?"
"The power to make that model gun geek say, 'uncle'."
"Yes!" She answered immediately. Of course, no one these days ever says "uncle".
"Then I grant you this power!"
The moment the mysterious voice spoke--
The high-end military use binoculars in the girl's hand crumpled like a piece of paper.
Continued in Part 2.
Continued in Part 2.
(1) These quotes are from the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film, Full Metal Jacket.
(2) Quote from Saving Private Ryan.
(3) Inuyama's name: Inuyama=Dog Mountain, Wanwan=Japanese for the sound of a dog barking (akin to Bow wow or woof woof in English), Rikutarou=Riku comes from the Kino's Journey character, and Tarou is a stereotypical boys' name in Japanese.