City Series:Volume4b Chapter 7

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Chapter 7: Resuming Action (Continue) – (12/22/1996)[edit]

Part 1[edit]

4:58 AM

It was still too early for sunrise.

Shoui stood alone in a dark blue world that was beginning the change from night to morning.

He stood in the Nanba family’s open-air training ground.

He had spent the past few days doing nothing more than sleep in the house and visit this training ground.

He felt restless when he was not moving his body.

He only visited this place to punch the training post until that feeling left him.

He had chosen this early morning hour because the destruction of the nearby dojo and the Fourth Alarm the day before had distracted him and kept him from moving much.

Tuners had reconstructed the foundation of the destroyed dojo the day before and the wood construction would likely begin this morning.

Once that started, he would be too distracted to train.

So he was here now.

The winter morning was cold.

He wore a jacket to keep himself warm and he began his warmup exercises in full combat equipment.

After a total of 1500 knuckle pushups and 800 squats, he could finally release a long white breath into the darkness.

“…”

He tried to blow that white breath as far as he could and then smiled bitterly.

How about I get started?

He pulled a golden ring from his pocket and held it in his left fist.

He raised his fists and made a few slow straight punches into the air.

After confirming his ideal form like that, he began for real.

Shoui – Boxing Tech – Take – Straight Fist – Hit!

The solid sound of fist against wood rang clearly through the darkness.

Immediately afterwards, the woods around the house shook and the branches rustled like a wave.

Shoui – Hear Tech – Take – Listen – Hit.

There were birds.

The sound spooked the birds living in the trees and they took flight.

The birds could not see well in the darkness, but they chirped to confirm each other’s positions.

“…”

Shoui started up again.

Shoui – Boxing Tech – Take – Straight Fist – Hit!

A solid sound rang out.

It was a nice sound and his body moved just as he wanted it to.

Shoui – Boxing Tech – Take – Straight Fist – Hit!

This was working.

His fists were picking up momentum.

Shoui – Gym/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Straight Fist – Hit!

The straight punch was the same, but he twisted his hips and spun his body to increase the speed, destructive power, and reach.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Straight Fist – Hit!

He also took a step to strengthen those things further.

But stepping too far increased the odds of receiving a counterattack from his opponent. When stepping in for an attack, he moved in a straight line instead of the curve he used for dodging.

So…

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Combination – Hit!

He normally used a combination attack that linked all of the actions together.

Shoui – Gym Tech – Take – Control Stance – Hit.

He would occasionally move too close, so he adjusted his body’s position with quick movements of his feet.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Combination – Hit!

He made his combination attack.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Straight Fist – Hit!

The critical blow was used as a finisher after the combination.

If his opponent did not leave him with an opening, he would control his stance and judge what distance and timing to use.

The key to that decision between offense and defense was how to shift from the combination to the single attack.

It did not matter how many moves he had if he could not defeat his opponent.

Unlike a competition match, there was no such thing as winning by decision in actual battle.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Combination – Hit!

Shoui specialized in a combination of straight blows similar to close-range short uppercuts.

And on occasion…

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Elbow Strike – Hit!

He would move right up to his opponent and use his elbow.

He was fast and there was no hesitation in his actions.

All of the moving he had done over the past few days had built up, so he could draw out his body’s full power.

And his movements grew even more varied.

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Tackle – Hit!

He used a technique that resembled a shoulder tackle.

He generally made blows with his upper body.

And he made use of every kind of technique that used his upper body.

There were sounds of blows and impacts. There were sounds of punches and strikes. They created a quick rhythm and would not stop.

Even the rest notes when he adjusted his stance were only pauses that assisted his acceleration.

He moved.

He moved quickly.

But he realized his movements were lacking something.

“!”

Shoui – Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Straight Fist – Hit!

An especially loud noise was accompanied by what sounded like tearing cloth.

The training post had broken.

“…”

The top 3 cm of the post had succumbed to the impact and broken off.

Small wood fibers were visible along the break.

The fallen portion continued to roll along the training ground.

This was not a normal break.

If it was just the accumulation of blows, it would have broken at the center or where it met the ground.

The post had been cut by a sharp strike much like a blade.

Shoui was surprised at this unexpected power, but he also sighed.

Come to think of it, something similar happened at the Nandaimon training ground.

That training ground was located in front of the detached room he had once called home and he had once punched off the top of a training post there.

He smiled a little.

And bitterness slowly filled it.

So I’m finally feeling like I did back then.

At the time, Yuuki had watched from the side as he learned the techniques of the Nandaimon Unarmed Style.

“…”

He clenched his fist.

He held Takada’s ring inside it.

He did not say or think anything about that ring.

He simply placed his fist on the break in the post.

He seemed to be showing his fist what it had done.

A few seconds passed.

Shoui – Hear Tech – Take – Listen – Hit.

He looked behind him.

Shoui – Sight Tech – Take – Locate Enemy – Hit.

As the darkness gradually thinned, he saw a man standing in the center of the training ground.

The man was dressed like a monk.

He was Iba Masaaki.

He briefly looked Shoui in the eye and then spoke.

“I have come for you on Yuuki Senga’s instructions.”

“…?”

“You will now spar with Nanba Souichirou on a Minato Ward beach.”

Shoui had a single reaction to that.

Huh?

Speechless, he tilted his head.

And Iba nodded.

“I do not like it either, but I came to summon you as repayment for healing my wounds.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Take – Decode Expression – Hit.

For some reason, he could now read Iba’s previously inscrutable expression.

As he crossed his arms, his expression lacked its previous harshness and also lacked the displeasure he claimed to feel.

And upon seeing that…

Why me?

Shoui asked his question through his own expression.

He did not immediately receive an answer.

Iba nodded, scratched his head, and nodded again.

“Most likely, Nanba Souichirou lost his Words after Kusanagi was consumed by the Flame High. If he is to retrieve them through combat, he must view himself in the mirror and objectively observe what his Words are.”

“…”

“But playing the opponent in this battle will be dangerous.”

“?”

“Nanba Souichirou uses a real sword while you fight unarmed. And if he retrieves Kusanagi, you will be faced with death as you lack the Shinkage Style or anything else.”

Shoui listened to those words.

It sounds like things have really made progress.

He almost felt like he was entirely uninvolved in it all.

Everyone else had been in motion while he simply punched the training post.

So…

This might be my last chance to get involved.

It was true he was powerless against Kusanagi. When he had tried to block Kusanagi when Aoi Hijiri had launched it, tension and fear had filled his body. He had not forgotten that.

And that Kusanagi had been a copy created by the Shinkage Style of Dance Combat, so it had not come from Aoi Hijiri’s own Words. The original would likely be even more powerful.

“What will you do? It goes against my principles to bring an unwilling person with me. It seems Yuuki Senga has already left with someone from Houzenji.”

Shoui was no longer listening.

He simply clenched his fist and faced the training post.

He moved.

He pictured a cutting motion and thrust out his fist.

Shoui – Kusanagi/Boxing Tech – Take – Kusanagi Strike – Miss.

Sure enough, he could not produce Kusanagi.

There was some trick to using it that was different from an Over Rhythm.

Only Nanba Souichirou could use that Rhythm with such short Words and no MD.

It was a special Rhythm.

If I fight that, will I gain what it is I’m missing?

Instead of just watching it, he could experience the process with which someone who had lost their Words regained Kusanagi.

“…”

Shoui looked down at his fist.

He held Takada’s ring there.

So he gave a deep nod.

He turned back toward Iba and began walking.

“Are you going?”

Instead of answering Iba’s question, he walked past the man.

He was currently a Dis-Worder who could speak no words.

His pace was slow, but he walked toward the exit from the house.

Part 2[edit]

5:02 AM

Yuuki awoke in her own bed.

The room’s lights were on.

She was facing the wall and lying on her side in an unnatural pose.

She quickly realized why.

Below the blanket, her right ankle was wrapped in bandages.

If she was lying on her back, the weight of the blanket on her toes would hurt her ankle.

It was likely a light sprain.

She could feel bandages and charms placed on her joints.

Yuuki – Medical Tech – Take – Check Injuries – Hit.

Her right ankle, ribs, and right knee must have been broken.

That would normally be some serious injuries, but she seemed to have received Tune healing while she was passed out.

“I suppose those injuries are surprisingly light for a building collapse at that height.”

She sighed.

She looked to the wall and then narrowed her eyes.

She had dropped her glasses during the battle and had not seen them since.

She silently started to close her eyes, but then she raised her head a little.

She looked to the edge of the bed.

Some paperback and hard cover novels were sitting where she had left them in a pile.

But there was something other than a book on the very top.

It was a paper bag.

It contained what she had bought the day before.

She reached from the blanket and grabbed it.

After placing both hands on it, she slowly pulled it below the blanket and held it to her chest.

“…”

She curled up around the paper bag while sinking back into the blanket.

She closed her eyes and sighed.

Strength filled the hands holding the bag, producing a crinkling sound.

She opened her mouth while listening to that.

City v04b 269.jpg

And she prepared to speak the precious words she could only say while alone.

Except…

“What’s that paper bag? Somethin’ important?”

The blanket sprang up in response to that sudden voice.

She got up.

She had never suspected there was anyone else in the room, so her face was filled with panic.

It was a rare response for her.

Yuuki – Sight Tech – Take – Locate Enemy – Hit!

The enemy who was not really an enemy was right in front of her.

It was Nagoya Chancellor Yamashita Taeko.

She was sitting down while wearing a yukata over a Nandaimon shrine maiden outfit.

She had the Dragon Emperor on her left arm, so the shrine maiden outfit’s sleeve was loosened to allow the metal fist out.

A guest futon was laid out below her and that fist.

“…?”

Yuuki used her eyes to ask what was going on, so Taeko answered while combing her undone hair with her hand.

“Yer gramma apparently put us in the same room.”

“She did…?”

“She asked to get a look at me, said I wasn’t an enemy, and then told me to get along with ya.”

Taeko sat cross-legged, rested her cheek in her hand, and breathed a masculine sigh.

“I can’t stand it.”

“?”

“Ya understand, don’t ya? There’s so much about this I can’t stand.”

Yuuki remained silent, so Taeko tilted her head.

“Yer not good with people, are ya?”

“…”

Taeko took Yuuki’s silence as a yes and gave an agreeable smile.

“There’s so much I don’t understand, though. …Do ya know why I managed to escape yer technique?”

Yuuki shook her head.

“Just when I thought I had hit you with my barrier, the building was blown away.”

“That might’ve been the Dragon Emperor.”

“The Dragon Emperor?”

“I solved a question of mine, so it might’ve helped me out.”

Taeko looked to her prosthetic arm.

She sounded more like she was talking to herself than asking a question.

“Why did the Dragon Emperor avoid fightin’ with ya? I think I get it now. …But that guess leads to a pretty serious conclusion.” She took a breath. “But I can’t think of any other reason the Dragon Emperor would stop in front of ya. …That’d only happen if yer on the side of justice and my actions are evil.”

Taeko held the Dragon Emperor’s fist in front of her eyes.

She clenched the steel fist, producing the sound of creaking metal.

“Do ya understand?”

She did not receive an answer, but she did not care.

Her bitter smile deepened and she lowered the fist to her side.

She looked to Yuuki from the floor.

“Hey.”

“…”

“I can tell ya wouldn’t answer me if I asked about the truth.”

“…”

“So I’ll ask in a different way.”

Taeko closed her eyes.

“How did ya kill my brother?”

It was a quiet question.

But unlike the previous questions, Yuuki answered this one immediately.

“With Suzaku’s flash freezing.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

Taeko asked another question without opening her eyes.

“Then why weren’t there any pieces of him left?”

That question did not receive an answer.

But Taeko asked more.

“And at Private Showa, yer flash freezin’ technique didn’t kill anyone. …The reason why is simple: unlike mere objects, people will subconsciously negate the Rhythm attack with their own Rhythm.”

An exhausted sigh left Taeko’s mouth.

It was a heavy sigh.

And that breath seemed to draw out more words.

“Ya might lie, but the Dragon Emperor won’t.”

“What lie are you talking about?”

“The one about how ya became the Killing Holder!” shouted Taeko.

She raised her head and opened her eyelids to look at Yuuki.

Her expression was entirely serious.

“I’ve made my decision.”

“About what?”

“Koto Chancellor, ya are the only one I’ll follow.”

Yuuki frowned at that.

Taeko smiled bitterly.

And she said more with that tearful smile.

“A moron who can never catch a break like ya needs someone by her side.”

“…”

“Shoui would really be the best choice, though…”

“I do not need Hizaka Shoui.”

“Probably not.”

Taeko narrowed her eyes and looked to the corner of the room.

“And I guess ya do have that thing…”

She was referencing the small creature with light brown fur sitting in the corner.

It was a Dog God.

“It’s been there this whole time. Is it Shoui’s?”

“I don’t know.”

The Dog God was about 3 meters from Yuuki.

“…It’s closer.”

“Eh?”

“Nothing.”

Taeko tilted her head and nodded at that.

And she glanced over at the Dog God.

“I kinda hope it is Shoui’s.”

She sighed.

And before that breath could fall to the futon, Yuuki began to move.

She pulled her blanket in close and curled up to hide the paper bag in her arms.

“Why are you so fixated on him?”

It was the Dragon Emperor that first responded to her question.

It raised its low rumbling voice.

The armor panels opened somewhat as it rose to the combat mode known as the 3rd Activation.

Taeko looked to the false arm that had started up on its own.

“When earnin’ the position of Chancellor at the Mountain, ya end it with some battles, right?”

“I was given the position on a recommendation based on my testing, so I wouldn’t know.”

“Is that so?” asked Taeko with a bitter smile. “Well, whatever.” The bitterness left her smile. “I fought Shoui during the semi-finals and I punched him out once.”

Some tenseness came to her face.

“And I know that he fought my brother to protect ya. …We had trained at the same trainin’ ground, so when I learned that, I felt some hesitation and resentment. And when I hit him…”

She sighed.

“That moron completely snapped.”

“…And?”

“Would ya call it combat instincts? Well, when he passed out…he started movin’ at frightenin’ speed. He circled behind me in the blink of an eye…”

Yuuki said nothing.

Taeko placed her hand on the Dragon Emperor.

“The Rhythm he used was the Break High. My left arm was torn off and sent airborne in no time at all. But…”

“…”

“Right afterwards, he seemed to come back to his senses. Would ya call it a look of regret? He had that dumb look on his face and didn’t move at all…”

She said nothing more.

The answer was already known.

Taeko had been the one to become a Chancellor.

That meant she had defeated Shoui.

Someone who could not defeat their opponent when they needed to could not become a Chancellor.

That unwritten rule was absolute.

So she said something else instead.

“It’s thanks to his instincts that he doesn’t die when he should’ve been killed.”

“Is that so?”

“There are two sides to everythin’. Someone who’s strong with one power is strong with the opposite power.”

With that, she stood up.

Her head reached the fluorescent light illuminating the room.

And she looked down at Yuuki from that height.

“I have a number of things to check on. Your gramma said to go to the coast of Osaka Bay before sunrise.”

With that, she pulled a piece of paper from her pocket.

The location was written there.

And Taeko spoke to supplement it.

“The match held here will save Japan from a second Kinki Riot.”

The Dog God seemed to answer her by quietly barking in the corner of the room.

Part 3[edit]

5:29 AM

There were two times when purple filled the sky.

In evening it was known as twilight and in morning it was known as daybreak.

A few people were gathered on the Minato Ward beach on the coast of Osaka Bay.

Thanks to modern development, Osaka had few beaches left.

A few men in black coats seemed to surround that beach.

They were corporate combat personnel from the Houzenji Group. The Izumo Company LMGs they wore suggested their Combat Style was Strike Gunner. They probably normally worked as guards.

They all wore combat helmets and spoke quietly using the communicators embedded in them.

They surrounded four people on the beach.

Two of them were at the top of the beach slope descending from the embankment to the ocean.

They were Yuuki Senga and Iwai Sanzou.

They sat directly on the sand and looked to the water’s edge.

They looked to the edge of the dark ocean that was not yet lit by the sunlight.

Two other people were there.

They were Osaka 1st Special Duty Officer Saki Seiji and Osaka Chancellor Nanba Souichirou.

Saki remained seated and spoke to Souichirou who swung a large sword around.

Based on the expression visible through his sunglasses, he was chatting with the other boy to calm the pre battle tension.

Some words escaped Iwai Sanzou as he watched the two.

“They are a good pair.”

“Are you going to hire them?”

“Of course not. They need to make even more of a name for the Modified Purple Electricity Style.”

“That’s unusually impartial for you.”

“In the coming age, an outward-facing charisma will be as necessary as our sort of strength.”

“Is that what Kusanagi is for?”

Iwai nodded.

“Any corporate group connected to the emperor will gather below that Rhythm. And if the Houzenji Group has absolute control of Kusanagi, I hope to begin a full business partnership with Izumo and their Wind High.”

“I see. Sounds like you have big plans.”

“I could say the same about you, couldn’t I?” Iwai looked to Senga. “It is your doing that Tokyo’s Student Council has remained silent about this entire affair, isn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that.”

“Oh, I heard that the Emergency Teachers and the Mountain were working together to use this incident to reunite the east and west schools.”

Senga said nothing, so Iwai continued.

“The adults failed to combine the east and west, so you are trying to use the children’s war as a trigger. Only you would come up with an idea like that.”

“But I intend to give all the credit to the adults. By keeping this riot entirely secret, it will all be credited to groundwork laid by the politicians and corporations.”

“Why would you manipulate the information like that?”

“In exchange for the credit for such a historic accomplishment, the crimes of all those involved will be wiped clean,” declared Senga.

Her eyes were fixated on Souichirou as he swung his sword on the beach below.

“At this point, all of this is in violation of the academy rules. This riot should be banished into the darkness.”

“And to do that, something must be done about the Flame High.”

“Yeah, I’m sure that’s what you corporations think.” She smiled bitterly. “If the Flame High wins, the east and west will still be unified, but if Tokyo wins…it will greatly shift the east-west power balance even if all this is kept secret.”

“Indeed. Souichirou-sama must emerge victorious.”

“Don’t be stupid. It’s Osaka that’ll win, right? If Osaka wins, Tokyo will have to support the unification to preserve their pride and we’ll have peace as long as Osaka doesn’t invade Tokyo for retribution.”

“To be honest, there is no guarantee Osaka can win if they do invade.”

“If we have peace, then we’re better off without a king.”

At that moment, the morning sun rose from behind the eastern mountains.

Light raced across the ground and everyone’s shadows grew more pronounced.

Souichirou’s sword dully reflected the sunlight.

Iwai looked to that light.

“That sword…is it true it is a Device pulled from the treasures at Nandaimon?”

“We had it made by Hong Kong’s top Buster. He visited Nandaimon 5 years ago to study Death Techno.”

“I see. That would explain why it is shaped differently from the Japanese-made holy items. I must thank you for that. …This will allow Souichirou-sama to draw out his full strength.”

“His full strength?”

“Do you know why he always makes a diagonal swing starting from the bottom?”

Senga thought about that for a moment.

And she reached a certain conclusion.

“It’s to make sure he doesn’t go too far and hit the ground while swinging downwards, isn’t it?”

“Normal swords and holy items cannot bear that much force, so the hilt or blade will break. …But that Device will turn even the ground to dust when it strikes.”

“That isn’t good news for Shoui as his opponent.”

Iwai said nothing to that.

And Senga finally turned his way.

“What’s the silence for?”

“Oh, I’m just surprised you actually offered him up for this. …He was a prized student worth letting live with you, wasn’t he?”

“Yeah, but this battle is sure to be necessary for him too.”

“…Necessary?”

“He might be able to work through something he failed to resolve over the past 2 years. Think of it like swapping out all your cards to turn your boar into a blue ribbon.”

“Unfortunately, I am not one for gambling.”

As soon as Iwai said that, they heard a slight sound from the direction of the city.

At the same time, a voice came from the communicator in Iwai’s pocket.

“Iba and Hizaka have arrived. They have both passed the ID scan. Should we double check up to Level 55?”

“No, that will not be necessary. Let them through.”

“Understood.”

Iwai and Senga exchanged a glance.

The morning sun was rising.

It was the perfect time for a sparring match.

Part 4[edit]

5:43 AM

The morning sun gently shined on the city of Osaka.

It first fell on the tall corporate buildings and the vast historical locations.

Due to the size of its grounds and its own height, Osaka Castle was the very first place touched by the morning sun.

Its white walls reflected the sunlight and the waves of its green roof tiles glowed brightly.

The contrast of its structure was visible from a great distance.

The Otemon Gate was the largest entrance to the grounds and it provided a direct view of the castle’s impressive form.

But few were there to see it on this early winter morning.

The only person there had been there since the night before.

He was there all alone.

That person was Nakamura Hisahide.

He sat leaning against the traffic light in front of the Otemon Gate.

He had apparently been there for a long time, at least since the night before.

The headphones in his ears were playing the Flame High’s music.

He was silent and motionless with his face buried in his mountain hoodie’s collar.

His eyes were weakly narrowed as he stared at Osaka Castle in the morning sun.

“…”

He did not move.

But…

“Hey, you idiot. What do you think you’re doing?”

A sudden kick from the side hit him on the side of the head.

“!?”

With a dull sound, he toppled over and then sprang back up.

He stood and turned toward the person who had kicked him.

And he saw…

“Why are you wallowing in melancholy?”

It was Aoi Hijiri.

As a change from the norm, she did not have a shirt tied around her waist and she breathed a white breath.

“You didn’t go to Nagoya?”

“…Takada is dead.”

That was Nakamura’s sudden response to her question.

When she heard it, Hijiri looked up toward heaven a little.

After some thought, she put her hands on her hips and sighed.

A large white breath left her mouth.

And two simple words accompanied it.

“I see.”

A grim look entered Nakamura’s eyebrows when he heard that, but Hijiri continued before he could say anything.

“Make no mistake. It isn’t that I don’t have any thoughts about that. We knew her longer than you did.”

“…”

“And? What did she say to you before she died?”

“Nothing.”

Nakamura said very little.

Even so, Hijiri nodded.

“Understood. Then she was must have thought the possibility she mentioned would lead to you becoming king.”

“And if you’re wrong about that?”

“There’s no way to check what the dead were thinking.”

Hijiri sat on a nearby guardrail.

She released a white breath into the sky.

“Look, look. It’s like a flamethrower.”

Nakamura ignored her and leaned against a utility pole while still standing.

He crossed his arms.

“Where is Takahiro?”

“I don’t know.”

“…?”

“We got separated.” She took a breath. “We had our reasons.”

“Did you break up?”

“It isn’t that.” She smiled bitterly and glanced toward Nakamura. “I said we had our reasons, didn’t I?”

“Then get lost.”

“Why?”

“You two have no more obligation to follow me.”

“That’s too bad. I promised Iba.”

“…?”

“I promised I would stay by your side no matter what happened.”

He immediately responded to that.

“I defeated Old Man Iba.”

He was clearly cutting her off, but Hijiri did not stop smiling bitterly and was not shaken.

“That old man said ‘no matter what’.”

“…”

“…”

“…You’re a dumb girl.”

“I’m not a girl for anyone but Takahiro.”

She stood up and did some light stretches.

She stretched her legs which had a noticeably nice shape even in jeans.

“At any rate, you shouldn’t stay here. Osaka’s Chancellor’s Officers are going to start moving again this morning.”

“And you?”

“I’m going to take a morning run around the castle.”

“No, not that. Are they not going to find you?”

“I’m making sure they don’t.”

Nakamura sighed at that simple answer.

And then Hijiri asked him a question.

“I’ve found a place to stay, so do you want me to take you there?”

“No, thanks.”

He waved his hand in casual rejection.

“Hm.” Hijiri nodded. “I’m staying here until I find the cherry blossoms and I’ll be running every morning, so if you’re planning to do something, come tell me. You look oddly dangerous right now.”

With that, she took a step.

Nakamura said nothing, so she lightly raised a hand.

“Bye.”

And she started to run.

At that exact moment, she heard someone singing.

“…?”

She stopped and exchanged a glance with Nakamura.

A choir was singing in the distance.

“…That’s Beethoven’s 9th.” Hijiri nodded in understanding. “Well, it is the end of the year. Come to think of it, they have an outdoor concert around here on Christmas Eve. …Did you know that?”

“Why would I know that?”

Hijiri pointed at the utility pole he had been leaning against.

The concrete pole had a few advertisements attached.

The very top one was for the outdoor concert to be held in the plaza in front of Osaka Castle’s Otemon Gate.

They could hear the tenor part from the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 9th.

Hijiri looked curiously toward the parking lot beyond the Otemon Gate where the voices were coming from.

“Beethoven’s 9th, huh? …Are they singing it in German? I only know the Japanese version.”

“You sure know a lot.”

“Takahiro taught me last year.”

Nakamura sighed at that.

But as he quietly stood there, Hijiri tilted her head and placed a hand on his chest.

“Listen. Don’t keep it to yourself. If something happens, call me.”

With that last comment, she lightly struck his chest.

Then she turned around.

This time, she did run off.

Nakamura did not stop her.

He simply looked up into the sky.

The sky grew to a bluish-white as the morning sun filled it.

It was a still morning filled with singing voices.


Back to Chapter 6 Return to Main Page Forward to Chapter 8