Chapter 1: Part 2
School ended, but almost like the sun in Super Mario 3, the sun outside didn’t seem to want to set. It would probably still be some time before I could move around freely outside.
Lately, I usually went to school during the daytime and hunted for Yuu and the fake Megalo during the nighttime.
However, not only did we have no clues as to what was going on, but we couldn’t even find a single Megalo. And perhaps the incident with Sera had bad effects, because I couldn’t get any information out of the vampire ninjas at school either.
Sigh… Maybe Yuu really had gone back to the Underworld… I felt like I would go and find her, no matter where she was, but… I just didn’t know where she was.
I felt a part deep within me that wanted to give up. It was a part of me that had existed in my mind for as long as I could remember. But there was also a part of me that screamed that there had to be a solution. That part had sprung up inside me quite recently. It was as if there was a constant itching in my heart… It really made me feel sick.
To prepare for the long ordeal of waiting for the sun to set, I had sent Orito to the convenience store. He had brought back some salmon onigiri, and we chitchatted animatedly as we stuffed our faces with the onigiri. (1)
The other two surrounded me: Orito sat in the seat in front of me, while Tomonori had brought a chair over from the side.
I had already become quite used to spending time like this.
Orito headed off for the bathroom, and the conversation momentarily ceased. At that moment, Tomonori started becoming awfully fidgety.
“So you need to go to the bathroom too?”
“N-no! You idiot!” Tomonori raised a fist overhead. However, she soon dropped that fist and took something out from her bag.
“Aikawa… Take this.”
“Aikawa… D-do you want to go with me to the planetarium?”
“Planetarium? They actually sell those tickets in advance?”
“I worked hard to get these tickets, ya know.”
Tomonori gave me a quick thumbs up, and I thought she looked a bit cute doing that. How should I put it… Compared to her usual easygoing personality, she really seemed more ladylike here.
Hmm… I never knew she liked romantic things like this.
“Outer space! It’s reaaaaaally something!”
Tomonori clasped her hands together, as if she was praying, and looked out the window with eyes that glittered like the stars. Those eyes almost looked like the eyes of a young boy in love.
Well, I thought outer space was pretty amazing too, but… There were definitely plenty of other places we could go to have fun.
There were two tickets. I guess I couldn’t invite Haruna or Sera.
Orito came back from the bathroom, so Tomonori started to explain the virtues of planetariums once again.
“Oh? What are those? Tickets to a Giants-Dragons game?!” (2)
I’m not sure if there’s a good way to describe the look on Tomonori’s face at that moment. All I could say was that it was a complicated expression.
Orito snatched the tickets from my hand.
“Planetarium? You like that kind of stuff? That’s weird for someone on the track team.”
When Orito sent Tomonori a teasing look, Tomonori’s expression turned murderous. He sure was quick to figure out that those tickets were Tomonori’s and not mine. Well, he probably knew that I wouldn’t go to a place like that.
“Outer space!! It’s reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally amazing!!”
Tomonori tossed up both her arms and shouted loudly, but Orito ignored her and just waved the tickets back and forth. Tomonori desperately tried to get the tickets back, but because of their height difference, all she could do was hop up and down in vain.
“Aikawa, let’s go together!”
“If it means going with you, I’d rather just go alone.”
I took the tickets back from Orito and returned them to Tomonori.
“Come on, let’s go together. If you do, I swear I’ll never ask you for anything again!”
Tomonori clasped both her hands together and begged. It was hard to refuse her when she acted like that, but… Why was she so desperate?
Orito seemed to be thinking the same thing. He cocked his head to the side and ran a finger through his spiky hair.
“Hey Tomonori, why are you so desperate?”
Tomonori looked away from me. She untwined her fingers and touched her fingertips together, looking quite fidgety.
“I mean… Summer break is coming up…”
Tomonori barely moved her mouth as she mumbled. I was really surprised by how cute she looked.
“Can’t you just go during summer break? You an idiot?”
Orito shrugged his shoulders and laughed through his nose.
“Well, that’s… I took retests on my exams, and… I did worse than I did the first time.”
”Teehee. Silly me,” she seemed to be saying apologetically. Normally, you would do better on the retest…
“What kinds of scores did you get?”
“Well, on all subjects……… I scored a minus two.”
”How the hell do you get a negative score?!”
Orito and I were completely in synch when we shouted that. All right, even allowing for the very faint possibility that she scored a negative score on one subject, it must have been damn hard work for her to actually do that on every subject!
“No, no, it’s just that I accidentally wrote ‘Mael Strom’ for my name.”
Her vampire ninja name, huh? Well, that was her real name, so I couldn’t blame… No, that was definitely her fault! She should have been more careful!
“What the hell is that? English?”
Orito bopped Tomonori on the head.
“A-anyways! I don’t have a summer break anymore! So I won’t be able to meet with Aikawa anymore either.”
“Then invite me, Tomonori! Why?! Why does it have to be Aikawa?!”
“Because I’m Aikawa’s wi-“ “All right, Tomonori, let’s go tomorrow!”
I promptly interrupted. She was just about to say that she was my wife, wasn’t she? I was certain that we had gotten over that already and were just friends now, but she still seemed set on calling herself my wife.
“Really?! You’ll go with me?! Aikawa sure is a nice guy~~. Nobody would go to the planetarium with me before.”
Well, I guess it could be a good distraction. If it could do something about this hazy unrest in my chest, then maybe…
“Tomonori! Invite me too! Why?!?! Why does it have to be Aikawa?!?!”
I could see waterfalls of tears fall from behind Orito’s glasses. Orito held out his hands towards Tomonori.
“Well, I really don’t want to walk around alone with Orito.”
Tomonori brushed away Orito’s hands and her lips thinned. She turned away from Orito.
“Ahh, that hurt.”
As if hit by the Break spell from FF4, Orito stood there petrified. Perhaps she took pity on him, but Tomonori turned back to face him. I also felt quite a bit of pity for him.
“I mean, there are rumors that you always try to fling your arms around girls’ waists…”
Yup. There was no getting out of that.
“That’s a good thing! Don’t girls want to be touched on dates?!”
“That’s why I don’t want to go with you! I don’t want to walk around with someone who thinks gross things like that!”
“Huh? Gross? You being seriously serious about that?” (3)
Orito gave me his puppy-eyes look as he pleaded with me to agree with him.
“First off, I can feel myself grow murderous when I think that what you’re talking about was actually a date, so I can’t sympathize.”
“Well, I mean, I’m talking about that time on that field trip when I had to go buy ingredients for the curry we made.”
“Nah, Orito. You definitely lose this one.”
“Huh? That wasn’t a sign that she was interested in me? Huh?”
“It sure is nice that there’s gun and sword control in Japan.”
“If times were different, he would just commit seppuku, wouldn’t he?”
“Huh? Eh? Wha? ……………. Seriously?”
And both Tomonori and I, as if telling a patient that he didn’t have long to live, with perfectly matching timing, gave Orito slow, grave nods.
(1) Onigiri are just rice balls, sometimes flavored with various meats and veggies.
(2) Both baseball teams.
(3) He says “You write it as ‘honki’ and read it as ‘maji’?” Both those words mean “serious.” There is a peculiarity in Japanese text when you can write one word but force the reader to pronounce it differently. This in particular is a reference to an old Japanese manga series that used this peculiarity. In this case, it is just meant to emphasize the word “serious,” so that’s how I translated it, but I thought I would just mention the implicit, rather obscure reference.