Chapter 4: Part 3
And so, in that silent and holy night could now be seen three pretty girls in red costumes and myself, who was wearing a red clown-like nose and what was probably a reindeer outfit with its light brown hair and attached collar.
The three girls were running along the rooftops like ninjas while holding big sacks.
Haruna took the lead. She had a fluffy sack and was wearing a fluffy red skirt as well. Her ahoge was desperately trying to peak out from the gap in her fluffy Santa hat, so it was quite an interesting sight.
Then there was Yuu. Her plate armor had been replaced by a red one-piece Santa outfit, while she still had her gauntlets on. She also didn’t have a Santa hat and retained her normal headwear. She was a gauntlet-wearing battle Santa.
Meanwhile, Sera was running parallel to me. I spoke up to her.
“Thanks for that back there.”
“What do you mean? Also, hearing you thank me gives me catastrophic levels of heartburn and makes me quite unhappy.”
“Well, thanks for back then when I wanted to show Haruna some snow. You tossed that cotton down from the roof, right? That was a huge help.”
“Ahh… so you’re talking about that.”
“Well, Haruna saw through everything pretty easily, so it did make me a bit happy to have someone helping me out with that ridiculous stunt…”
“I already said it before, did I not?”
“I will never be averse to providing whatever support I can to you.”
Just like Nene-san, Sera said that in a slightly teasing way.
She was wearing a very un-Santa-like tight miniskirt, but it wasn’t fluttery enough for me to hope for a panty shot. But, that beautiful skin between her skirt and her socks was just wonderful. (1) I had to restrain myself from yelling out about how amazing her thighs were.
Now that I felt a bit oddly self-conscious, and also because I wanted to shake off some of this chill, I thrust my right hand into the air.
“Thighs are amazing!”
Krch! Hmm, I’m pretty sure the ponytailed Santa just threw a shuriken at me or something, and it stuck right to my forehead… oh well, no worries.
Anyways, the first person we visited was Mihara.
The reason was simple: her house was the closest.
Her window was locked, but our resident ninja easily opened the window without breaking the glass. I had no idea how she did it… I guess I’ll just chalk it up to ninjutsu and not really pry.
We opened the window gently, trying to make as little noise as possible.
Then, we stole into the bedroom of a high school girl.
W-What the hell was this? What’s with all these stuffed animals?! And all those dolls lined up in a row?! There was a yellow bear that was naked from the waist down, and a bunny with its mouth in the shape of an X… many cute and famous stuffed animals were decorating this room.
Mihara always came off as a modern girl, so it was hard to imagine she had such a girly side too.
To be frank, this was just impossible.
Anyways… I took the brand-name bag out from my white sack and placed it next to all the stuffed bears surrounding Mihara’s pillow.
“This present really doesn’t seem to belong in this room, does it?”
“Maybe we should give her this one instead?”
Haruna took out the stuffed chicken from her sack. Certainly, that probably was the most fitting present considering this room, but…
“Well, she probably has more than one interest.”
Humans live with a mask. Her mask is her makeup.
Haruna gave a vague nod after seeing that memo and put the stuffed chicken away again.
I see. From Yuu’s point of view, this vision of a young girl’s dream represented Mihara’s true nature.
I looked at Mihara’s sleeping face, devoid of any makeup.
Hm? This girl… she was actually pretty cute… ugeh?!
“Who the hell just kneed me?! It’s almost embarrassing how much that just startled me!”
“Do not yell out like that. There’s a time and place for yelling, and this is not it. Nobody likes the person who doesn’t understand that.”
So it was her again? Every single time, it’s her…
I glared at Sera, when I felt somebody pulling on my reindeer costume. I turned around and saw Yuu showing me a memo.
Ayumu looked like a love-struck young girl right then, so I could not help myself.
W-Wait, Yuu was the one who attacked me?! I did not see that coming at all.
“Let’s head to the next one! The next one!”
We slipped out of the house quickly, trying not to be detected. Hey, this was actually pretty fun.
Once again, we ran through the cold night with Haruna taking the lead. We were in the same order as before. I watched Yuu running in front of me as I began to talk to Sera.
“It’s really surprising that Yuu was the one who kneed me…”
“Are you really so oblivious? This is why zombies are so… in any case, you’ve constantly been away from home these past few days, and even on the twenty-fourth when you were supposed to come back, we waited for you, but you did not return. We went to the sushi restaurant and there we saw you with a smile on your face and surrounded by girls. And yet we still waited so long for you to come back.”
I couldn’t really say anything in response to Sera’s point. All I could do was really chew on her words.
“Even Haruna began to feel lonely… so you cannot reasonably expect Hellscythe-dono would be any different.”
“Yeah. All I’ve done these days is make Yuu wait…”
“Hellscythe-dono might not be able to express her feelings, but that does not mean she does not possess any. You must-”
“You sure are more talkative than usual today.”
Sera stopped and looked a bit down at the ground. Crap, had I pissed her off by interrupting her?
This was bad. I prepared myself to avoid an impending Hiken Tsubamegaeshi.
“There are also times when I worry… or when I feel jealousy.”
Her voice was very soft and seemed to almost dissolve into the night air.
So I really couldn’t hear her very well.
Sure, her words had made their way to my ears, but they didn’t really sink into my head very well.
They were words that I felt I had to hear… words that seemed important, and yet at the same time they were words that I should never have heard.
I didn’t really understand these feelings… and it didn’t seem Sera did either.
“It’s nothing. We seem to be lagging behind. We should hurry.”
Sera raised her head and I saw the same commanding expression I was used to seeing.
We headed for Orito’s house next.
Just like last time, the ponytailed beauty took to one knee and easily fiddled with the window…
“Hng…” Sera seemed a bit at a loss.
“What’s wrong, Sera?”
“Well… to think that his window would be this well protected… how impertinent for someone whose face looks like a mud-covered sneaker.”
“Looks like there’s no other choice then.”
Step step step step. Haruna ran along the rooftop away from Orito’s house. I figured she had just given up, but then…
Step step step step. It seemed like she just wanted a running start.
Krssh! Haruna made a cross with her arms in front of her face and crashed fiercely into the window.
The glass magnificently shattered into a million pieces. It was like I was watching an action movie right now.
“Gyaahhh?! What?! What’s happening?! Why on Christmas?!”
Orito’s shriek echoed through the night sky. Why the hell did he sound like such a sissy?
Also, did we seriously just shatter his window?! Ugh, look, our flashy entrance has him completely upright and pulling his futon close to his chest.
Thump. Haruna’s fist buried itself into Orito’s stomach, and he lost consciousness.
“Seems like he’s sleeping. Good.”
Haruna pretended to wipe sweat from her brow while letting out a sigh.
“Way to force your way through things… is he alright?”
She struck with the back of the sword, so he will live.
I see. That’s a relief… wait, what?! When was there a sword involved?! Leave the swords for the swordfights, please! Is what I wanted to yell, but I couldn’t. I mean, it was night, and I didn’t want to wake the neighbors… yeah, that was the reason.
“Good boys should be asleep right now.”
Sera said that as if it was the most natural thing in the world before stealing into Orito’s room. I just stayed outside with Yuu, staring inside from across the broken window.
I really didn’t want to go in with all that broken glass strewn across the floor.
Unlike MIhara’s room, Orito’s room matched his personality. There were posters of models on the walls and his shelves were covered with figures. He had two desktop computers and a laptop.
“He gets a plastic bag and a rubber band.”
Haruna fished through her white sack while Sera slipped something under Orito’s pillow.
I seemed to be the only one who noticed.
Haruna wrapped Orito’s hands around the plastic bag and the rubber band before coming back with a satisfied look on her face. “Next!” she yelled before taking the lead and running away from Orito’s house.
Sera also came out from Orito’s room, and I whispered to her.
“You’ve been a bit soft on him lately, haven’t you?”
“…… I do need to repay a debt to him. Are you jealous? How disgusting.”
“Nah, I was just wondering what you did in there.”
“It was just a photograph. I promised to give him a photograph in return for introducing me to a printer. A risqué swimsuit photograph.”
“I see. So that was his condition. But are you okay with that? You hate stuff like that, right? Weren’t you the one who said ‘perverts deserve to die’?”
“No problem at all. It was a photograph of Saras.”
Seriously?! It wasn’t a photo of yourself?! I’m pretty sure Orito had meant that he wanted a swimsuit photo of Sera.
Well, Orito would probably be happy getting a prized photograph of an Internet idol. He probably wouldn’t even mind that he got his window broken.
We came to Hiramatsu’s house next. This was the first time I had come here.
It looked like a normal single house from the outside. It was situated in a nice place away from noisy areas.
We went up to the veranda on the second floor. Sera unlocked the door and gently swept the curtain to the side.
The inside of Hiramatsu’s room was incredibly modest. Everything was very tidy, and in that sense, it was probably closest to Sera’s room. I felt a serene calm drift through the air.
If I had guests over, I would tidy up my room to look something like this too, but Hiramatsu’s room was like this even when she didn’t have guests. That was so like her.
“What do you think she wants?”
Haruna fished through her sack.
“She seemed to be most interested in… the cushion.”
Hiramatsu breathed slowly, her hair in a state of disarray I never saw in public. I couldn’t help but smile.
I had bought a firm pillow and a hug pillow shaped like an ugly dog for Nene-san.
This cushion looks like Ayumu.
“Yes. It looks identical.”
I placed the dog cushion near Hiramatsu’s pillow, when she turned her body over and hugged the cushion tight.
“….. Hnnnnn… Aikawa-kuuun……”
I felt my heart thump at her coaxing voice. I caught a glimpse of her pale skin from the gap in her pajamas. Maybe it was just because there were no lights on in the room, but she looked quite bewitching to me at that moment.
“She seems to be having a nightmare.”
Lies! You filthy liar!
“I feel bad for her. When Ayumu shows up in my dreams, his right side is blue, his left side is red, and his head is transparent. It’s seriously gross.”
Was I supposed to be Android Kikaider or something? Well, certainly, if a normal un-modded human had that coloring it would be pretty gross.
“… H-Hmm? Aikawa… kun?”
Hiramatsu’s eyes were slightly open. She didn’t seem to be completely awake and her body swayed from side to side. And then… she suddenly hugged me.
“Yaaay… Aikawa-kun… you came…”
Hiramatsu spoke in a relaxed but sweet tone as she hugged me even tighter and then stopped moving.
She was clearly half asleep. Ahh, how lucky for me-… gfuuh?!
Someone kicked the back of my knee. Dammit, was it Sera this time?!
You had a funny look on your face, so I could not help myself. I apologize.
… Well, I guess I couldn’t get angry at Yuu. Yeah. And I mean, she did apologize. Yeah, exactly.
I gently detached Hiramatsu from me and lay her down on her bed, trying not to wake her.
I didn’t know when she would wake up again, so we should make haste and get out of here.
“…. Mmm… mm? Aikawa-kun… gone…”
We leapt outside into the night, not even closing the veranda door.
We had just barely made it.
“Okay, let’s go for Yukinori next!”
Maybe we should stop by Anderson-kun’s place on the way too. He was the one who introduced me to Nene-san in the first place.
“Haruna, Anderson-kun lives around here, so can we go there first?”
“Who’s that? Someone from the Matrix?”
“You’ve met him a couple times already. He was on the jury back during the trial, remember?”
He is an acquaintance of mine.
Haruna took a good long look at Yuu’s emotionless face before quickly nodding and giving us a big smile.
“Alright! There next then!”
“You agreed to that pretty quickly.”
“It’s Christmas! Let’s just drop rank.”
I didn’t think “dropping rank” explained how much more open-minded she was being, but… whatever.
Anderson-kun lived in a single room apartment. It seemed that he lived alone, just like Nene-san and Tomonori did, and just like I had a while ago.
We stepped into his room.
The inside of his room was filled with cardboard boxes; it was as if he had just moved in yesterday.
I couldn’t see a TV or any other electronics.
It was honestly hard to believe that anybody could live here.
His shoe rack by the door was crowded with lots of basketball shoes. Collecting basketball shoes was probably his only hobby.
Anderson-kun’s sleeping face made him look like an English prince. His fair features were the very definition of refinement.
“…… Uh-huh? … Yeah… just being an idiot, you ass.”
He sounded really pissed! He was so nice usually, but in his dreams he was just dishing out abuse. (2)
Well, Anderson-kun was from the Underworld… so I guess this much was to be expected.
I glanced at Anderson-kun’s dresser, and saw a picture frame on it. Inside the picture frame was…
An abacus eighth level qualification certificate.
He was more Japanese than I expected! How good was he with an abacus exactly?!
Anderson-kun was handsome and great with the ladies, but he was alone under his futon. Well, I admit it’d be a bit uncomfortable to be sleeping under there with a girl.
He was completely naked! Anderson-kun slept in the nude?! I couldn’t stop my heart from pounding a bit at his chiseled physique.
“T-The Nude King!”
Haruna flushed red from ear to ear and covered her face with both hands.
“Stop making it sound cooler than it is.”
“So, what should we give him?”
Instead of answering Haruna directly, I also covered my face with both hands and put the pair of basketball shoes next to his pillow.
At that point, Anderson-kun rolled over in bed and his futon cover slipped up.
“Gyaaaaaaaaah!!! Perverttttttt!! You bar of erosensual body soap!”
Wow, he had a nice body…
I wasn’t in any clubs at school, so of course his body was so different from mine. He was slender but muscular.
Wow, he had a nice body…
Yeah, just look at those ripped abs…
Wow, he had a nice body…
“M-Mmm… nwaah?! E-Eucliwood and Aikawa’s friends…?”
Anderson-kun had woken up. He stood up, not even trying to cover his embarrassing parts.
Yuu didn’t seem shaken at all by his nudity, and Anderson-kun gave her a bright smile. It was his mask that he used to make all the girls swoon.
Haruna sent her knee right into that smile.
Anderson-kun fell. He seriously had a nice body…
“Nude King, you truly were… a big pervertifriend…’
A pervertifriend? Exactly whose friend?
Ah, she meant me, didn’t she?!
“I definitely don’t want to stay here too long.”
“Okay, onto the next place then!”
Next was… Tomonori.
“She lives in a building with a lot of other vampire ninjas, right? Seems hard to infiltrate.”
“Yes. If you try to enter from the front, you will get impaled by bamboo spears and die. The front yard also is a minefield.”
That didn’t sound too good.
“Okay! Let’s go walk through some minefields then.”
I just asked a simple question, but Haruna and Sera looked at me and gave me a teasing smile.
We soon arrived at the apartment building Tomonori lived in.
I entered the minefield. Carrying the girls. As the reindeer, I had become Santa’s steed.
We headed for Tomonori’s room, the reindeer outfit acting as our sacrifice.
Eventually, the reindeer no longer had sleeves and his pants had been half blown off. The reindeer shivered and hugged his body in the cold, but nobody paid him any mind.
Here. Yuu passed me a red scarf.
To be able to put on Yuu’s scarf and feel its warmth under this chilly December sky was just priceless to me. The warmth seeped into my heart.
It is a Christmas present.
T-This scarf… it was hand-knit, wasn’t it? I covered my mouth with the scarf, losing myself in the taste of happiness.
Tomonori was the room furthest in on the first floor.
Unlike the energy-filled Tomonori herself, Tomonori’s room was neat and tidy.
There was a pro-wrestling poster and a set of baseball gear as well as a set of tennis gear. In general there was a bunch of stuff here; she even had a set of kendo armor.
“I guess this is the only present that would work for Yukinori.”
Haruna put the soccer ball near Tomonori’s pillow.
“Mmmmm… no… I won’t join the Ishihara Gundan… sorry…” (3)
Exactly why was she dreaming about getting invited to join the Ishihara Gundan?
Tomonori reached out for the soccer ball and hugged it to her without waking up. She smiled.
“Mmmm… It’s Morisaki-kun… he can’t stop this shot…” (4)
“It seems she’s dreaming something different now.”
What the hell was “It’s Morisaki-kun” supposed to mean?! Don’t make it sound like he’s hopeless! He’s trying his best! He’s a great goalkeeper!
“So, are we done?”
Haruna sat down on Tomonori’s bed and yawned a bit as she asked that.
“Well… we have Saras left.”
I pointed upwards. Saras lived in the same building. We were in a vampire ninja apartment building, after all.
“Let us quickly go give her her present then.”
Sera put a hand on the veranda door that we had used to come in here.
Do not forget Naegleria.
Yuu showed Sera that memo.
Yuu was right. We had already bought Nene-san a pillow after all.
“Her house is pretty far away though…”
Haruna swung her legs back and forth as she sat atop Tomonori’s bed. She didn’t seem to care at all if we woke her.
She wasn’t a zombie or a vampire ninja, but a masou shoujo. She was still a little girl. So when the night ran long, she got sleepy. Look, she was rubbing her eyes already.
“Well, maybe I could just go alone?”
I suggested that, but Haruna leapt off the bed with her usual bratty smile on her face.
“… Santa has to go around the world in a night, so I’ll try my best too!”
“I agree. We cannot lose to him here.”
Haruna gripped her fists tight in determination and Sera looked at her with loving eyes. I wish she would send those eyes my way sometimes…
In any case, we headed for Saras’s room.
Saras’s room was a high-class, elegant room. It also didn’t seem like it was used very much, perhaps because she was so busy with work. It looked like a brand new room, and there was not a speck of dust in sight. I had to say that it suited her perfectly.
But there was something strange in one corner of the room.
In her closet there was a little hidden room, and in a corner of that room was a multi-tiered display stand which was decorated with lots of different stuffed animals. Her stuffed animal selection was pretty much the same as Mihara’s.
I see… so Saras knew about that stuffed animal shop because she went there a lot, and Mihara knew about that shop because she also had the same hobby.
Saras didn’t want us to know about this side of her, which is why she was acting a bit strangely back then.
Saras and Mihara always seemed at odds with each other, but they actually had the same hobby.
I couldn’t help but laugh at that, drawing a suspicious look from Sera.
“What happened? Your disgustingness just went up by sixty percent.”
“Don’t worry about it. I just remembered something funny.”
Saras was not in bed right now.
“Hm? She’s not sleeping. What a bad girl!”
“She is probably at work. Vampire ninjas don’t get a break just because it’s Christmas.”
“Tomonori was in such a deep sleep back there that she thought she was getting invited to join the Ishihara Gundan though…”
“Okay, let’s go with this!”
Haruna fished out the stuffed chicken from within the now mostly empty sack.
Saras had looked like she wanted the stuffed chicken. Yeah, it all made sense when I saw her stuffed animal collection.
But, why did she want the chicken?
That particular mystery was soon cleared up.
I saw three animals standing on top of each other on the top level of the display.
A donkey. A dog. A cat.
Three of the four animals from the Town Musicians of Bremen fable. Saras probably wanted to put the chicken on top to complete the set.
This… how do I put it? It really didn’t suit her.
“Haruna, give me the chicken for a sec.”
“Hueh? Aren’t we putting the presents next to their pillows?”
Haruna looked at me suspiciously as I took the chicken from her.
“Yeah, this chicken… fits here the best.”
I placed it on top of the cat.
(1) There is actually an idiomatic phrase in Japanese for this part of the female body: zettai ryouiki, which translates roughly to the “Ultimate Zone.”
(2) Yeah, so… there was also a point here that Anderson-kun was speaking in English. I chose to omit this because it would sound really awkward if translated literally. I also considered putting it into another language like French, but the running theme here is that Anderson-kun looks like an English prince so having him speaking in any other language would seem strange.
(3) A group of Japanese actors, mostly older males.
(4) A reference to Morisaki from Captain Tsubasa, a soccer manga. Morisaki was a goalkeeper who was notoriously bad at the beginning of the series.