Silver Cross and Draculea:Volume04 Chapter1
Chapter 1 - Tales of Touko
"...So what are you actually trying to do?"
Touko apologized, her face filled with dejection.
Kneeling formally on the floor in seiza posture, her back was very straight while she fiddled her hands uncomfortably, looking up timidly at the judge who was staring coldly down at her.
Arms crossed, standing sternly in front of her was the arbitrator, Student Council Vice President Uno Kirika.
Precisely because this "witch" had allowed Touko to remain in school, she felt responsible for this incident—no, rather, the incidents that happened recently.
"Although you're allowed freedom of movement inside the school, you should know that everything comes with limits, right!?"
Touko hung her head lower with greater dejection.
The girl's already intangible body became even more transparent.
"During summer, according to reports from students participating in supplementary lessons and club activities, eyewitness accounts have been increasing nonstop. One could ignore occasional sightings, but instead, you are proactively approaching them. According to reports from the photography club, 80% of pictures taken in school recently are ghost photographs!?"
"Because as soon as I hear the shutter, I want to be photographed... and I want to make a good pose!"
"This ghost is really quite willful."
Observing from the sidelines, Hisui could not help but offer his commentary.
After the commotion in the classroom, they had delivered Reina to the infirmary then brought Touko to the empty classroom used as the Supernatural Investigations Club's base.
Kirika quickly learned of the matter, hurried over and began to lecture.
"Students at their age are very sensitive and will see you given a slight match in wavelength! And once someone sees you and the news spreads, it makes it easier for the surrounding people to see. Could you please consider the effects, okay!?"
"......But I want to be seen."
Touko pouted unhappily.
Her cute behavior belonged to a teenaged girl.
Even though she was already dead.
"Looks like you still haven't understood your position...?"
Kirika spoke coldly then reached out above Touko's head and rubbed her fingers together.
Then white crystals fell from her fingers and scattered over Touko's head.
"Ah, stop that, Kirika-chan, could that be...!"
"Indeed. Purifying salt. There was a recent funeral held nearby, someone I knew, so I attended it. Then I obtained this. Why don't I simply help you pass on right now?"
Kirika asked with a smile, but there was no laughter in her eyes.
To think a witch would use purifying salt, how rare, but it was working against Touko.
"Ah, stop it, it burns! Oh no, I'm disappearing..."
Originally hazy to begin with, Touko's outline became even less defined.
She was almost about to vanish.
Feeling that things were serious, Hisui had no choice but to intervene.
"Say, Senpai, show her some mercy! Touko-san is reflecting already..."
"Even if I don't take matters into my own hands, the school will take action on their end. The student council has already received many complaints and there are also witnesses among the teachers. They are currently discussing seriously whether or not to have an exorcism."
"...Really? Say, Touko-san, why did all this happen?"
"Because Hisui-kun, none of you guys were at school during the summer vacation, I was so lonely... I wanted someone to play with me! I just wanted to enjoy school life properly, then while I was wandering around...!"
"Yeah, I can understand how you felt..."
"I want lots of memories... I want lots of warmth!"
Saying that, Touko was about to cry.
Although Hisui wanted to say something to comfort her, he ended up making snide remark in exasperation.
"...Uh, where would warmth come from after dying?"
A calamity arising from the slip of the tongue.
"S-So mean... It's really a concern for me!"
"Uh, even if you're concerned but... Am I wrong?"
Hisui turned to the others behind him for agreement.
However, not only Kirika, who was still scolding Touko just now, but also Rushella, Sudou Mei and Kariya Eruru, who had all been observing silently, were glaring angrily at Hisui.
"Eh... What's the situation here?"
"Hisui, there are things that can and cannot be said, right? You need to be more considerate towards maidenly hearts!"
"Yeah, Hi-kun! Don't forget that she's a maiden in the springtime of youth!"
"...I just want to say, how about you try dying yourself?"
"She didn't wish to become like this..."
Kirika was the last to criticize him.
Nevertheless, she was the one who was trying to exorcise Touko against her will.
"Hey, when did you girls become so united!? What's with this occasional cruel combo play from the girl alliance!? It's like hassling a friend to accompany her to a confession then telling the boy: 'Hey, hurry up and go out with her!' That's what it feels like!"
"Hurry up and go out with her."
"You really said it!"
Hisui shouted at Mei who went for the direct approach.
On the other hand, Touko seemed quite satisfied.
"No no no, this isn't right. Also, the reason we're gathered here is because of what happened earlier, so we need to seriously discuss Touko-san's ascension to her next life. Am I wrong?"
Hisui asked of Eruru who should still have calm mind.
However, the cool, petite beauty with half-rimmed glasses rejected his suggestion without hesitation.
"...If you are talking about satisfying the dead's lingering regrets, sure. Touko-san did not get a chance to enjoy the springtime of youth due to her sudden demise. Although I personally believe that equating romance to the days of youth to be cheap and sad, if that is her personal wish, who am I to question her? So long as you make the sacrifice, the issue can be resolved perfectly."
"Did you just say sacrifice...? You did say sacrifice!"
"I said it."
"Hey hey, could you deny it at least!? From the way you say it, I could very well end up cursed to death by her!"
"Don't just assert that immediately!"
Arghhh, what a headache.
Hisui's everyday life already consisted of supplying blood to a vampire and having his virginity threatened by an artificial human. Adding ghostly possession to that would be no joking matter at all.
"Touko-san... Apart from a living human like me, umm... Aren't there other candidates among ghosts? I think there should be some inside the school......"
"Hmm, yeah there are. There's one with only half a face remaining......"
"Scary! That's even worse than an evil spirit!"
"He's apparently heading off to the next life and asked me if I wanna go together, but I rejected him. He's not my type."
"Hmm, okay... Hmm, I do believe you have the right to choose. Any other ghosts catching your eye?"
"Hmm... Ah, there's this guy with only a skeleton left who wears a black cape and carries a big scythe. He chatted with me a couple times......."
"I think that's Mr. Grim Reaper. To think he actually exists......"
Hisui could not help but recall the existence who reaped dead souls in legend.
In a certain sense, he was probably the most suitable candidate for taking Touko away.
"But his appearance is too scary so I refused. After that, we chatted a few times and I found out he's actually a nice guy."
"Hey, are you going about this like choosing a husband... You said you refused... And he even spoke!?"
"Yes. He said that this month's targets are quite high so the quota is kind of tough, and asked me to help. He even advertised 'hurry to the afterlife, don't think, just do it'..."
"He even has to fill quotas!? What a tragic job!"
"But he's actually a nice guy, saying if there's anything he could do for me, just find him anytime......"
"Wow, what a role model of the service industry......"
Hisui was getting exhausted from making all these quips.
Touko's existence was basically overturning everything he thought he knew about ghosts.
"Hisui-kun, do you dislike me?"
Touko asked cautiously and floated around Hisui.
Ghostlights seemed to be starting to appear.
If anyone outside were to chance upon this scene, the Seven Wonders would probably increase by one.
"No, not at all... Then what on earth should I do? I'm guessing that even if I took you out on a date outside school, you won't be satisfied, right?"
"...Looks like you'll need to get serious and end her youthful days of innocence all at once. Hi-kun, hurry up and make her a woman!"
Mei clenched her fists and shouted with great emotion.
Oh man, can I give up on sarcasm?
"Hey hey hey, she's already dead. Could you stop making rubbish suggestions?"
"I did consider it carefully. To simply have Hi-kun get a woman's taste to whet your lustful appetite, perhaps that would make you desire me..."
"What an absolutely awful idea! And with a ghost, how is that even possible......"
This retort caused Mei to be stunned and plunged into deep thought.
After a while, with a completely serious expression, she answered:
"I will absolutely punch you in the gut if you weren't a girl..."
Hisui's face was distorted.
However, Mei made a "bring it on" expression and stuck her belly out at him.
"I don't mind, bring it on? Surely, your fist will break, Hi-kun. If I clench my abs seriously, even a baseball bat would easily break."
Mei daringly lifted up her clothes, showing her belly, even her bra was almost visible.
Although the lines of her abdominal muscles could not be seen, it was not difficult to imagine the hardness if she were to get serious like she said.
"...That's true too~~"
Hisui was taken aback in fright after thinking about it.
He had almost forgotten.
If he got in a fight with her, not only did he have no chance of winning, he would most likely end up pinned down, dragged to a bed, and something precious of him would be taken away.
On the other hand, standing behind Hisui, Rushella asked Eruru about unfamiliar words as usual.
"Hey, I'm asking you, what does air se..."
"Do not blame me for shooting if you dare finish that word, capish?"
Eruru threatened, having pulled out the sacred gun Argentum from somewhere, with her finger already on the trigger.
Naturally, this move did not suffice as an answer.
Speaking of which, was there anyone who could give a definite answer for this term?
"What does it even matter!? I just wanna know! Hurry and tell me! I already know the meaning of 'air' in front. I've heard Hisui talk about something called 'air guitars' before. So all you need is explain the remaining part in detail...!"
"That is even more unacceptable!"
"Oooooh... What does it even matter!? If it's something fun, I wanna do it too!"
"S-Shut up! Have you no shame...!?"
"It's related to shame? Then hurry and tell me!"
Eruru's face was so red that she was about to short circuit.
However, Touko began to ponder with a serious expression.
"Oh right, there's that too... Then I'll be able to become an adult...!"
"No way no way. How do you intend to do it!?"
"Hmm... Oh yeah, recently, I've achieved 'automatic writing' and also entering people's dreams. If I make flexible use of these abilities......"
"So automatic writing was how you filled your name in the relay race sequence form. That's too paranormal! If you go inside people's dreams, surely they'll end up with sleep paralysis and spellbound beds!"
"Hmm, looks like everyone will have nightmares."
"That's basically haunting by an evil spirit! An exorcism really will be needed!"
"But, b-b-but, if it's inside dreams, I can also...!"
"Wait up, Touko-san, in that case, when Hi-kun wakes up, there will be a situation in his underpants."
Mei began to worry seriously.
Yes, what annoying consideration.
"Can you show a little restraint...?"
"Don't worry, I've already mentioned before, I'll personally wash Hi-kun's sticky underwear until they're clean..."
Hisui sighed in exasperation. At the same time, Kirika shrugged.
"It probably cannot be helped. However, ghosts definitely cannot linger forever in the mortal plane. If that were the case, this world would have been filled up by the dead a long time ago. Dead people will vanish eventually from this world. That is part of the laws of this world."
Kirika spoke as though teaching a lesson, causing the mood to cool down.
Indeed, these days could not persist indefinitely.
There must be an end.
"If there is a low risk of harm, I could turn a blind eye to the issue... But there always exist people with keen spiritual senses. Could you show a little more self-discipline?"
Finally free of Rushella's questioning, Eruru stated calmly.
Lectured by the two representatives of reason, the inexperienced ghost apologized timidly.
"Sorry... I'll pay attention."
"Very well, then I shall be going. The sports festival's preparations are quite hectic."
Then Kirika left.
Recently, she had been basically showing up then leaving like this.
Kirika was fundamentally different from a "go home" club member like Hisui. Clearly, the student council's work was very busy.
"Sports festival huh."
Staying in the classroom, Hisui muttered blankly.
He could not forget the gloom on Reina's face earlier.
He had considered simply leaving the final leg to Rushella, but he still could not decide if that was the right thing to do.
"Would it be better to let Touko-san participate in the relay race? It seems like she's so light it'd be an easy job for her..."
Just as he muttered to himself, Mei interrupted.
"Hey, that scene is simply terrifying if you imagine it. Besides, whether she can carry the baton is a problem. It's not like there's not enough people, why consider her?"
"Oh, that really is what it'd feel like, right? Say, why don't you do the final leg? Your leg strength is pretty good, right?"
"I don't want to draw too much attention. If I went all-out, that kind of brittle ground will break underfoot, hindering my speed instead."
"How high is your leg strength actually..."
In movies, the powerful monsters of Frankenstein were always portrayed as slow and heavy. As the latest model, Mei had already improved on the former design.
Nevertheless, power and speed still seemed to be mutually exclusive.
"Well, since Hi-kun is asking, I could try it out? In preparation for the sports festival, I've prepared bloomers. Navy blue, rouge, green, rich variations, everything you could want?"
"...No, I'm not interested."
"I'm not pretending. Ever since I was young, that sort of interest went extinct a long time ago. By the way, Touko-san... Why are you wearing it!?"
Before he noticed, Touko had already changed into gym clothes.
With navy blue bloomers.
After all, as a ghost, she was apparently able to change her attire through her thoughts. How astounding.
"Eh, because it's what Hisui-kun wants..."
Touko shyly looked up and said.
She even had a bandanna tied around her head, looking like she was the one and only final leg candidate.
"W-Wait up, Touko! The final leg should be me! Victory is mine...! Okay, I wanna wear gym clothes and a bandanna as well...!"
In the end, even Rushella wanted to join in.
On the other hand, naturally, Eruru was looking at Hisui coldly.
"N-No, you don't have to do that! Besides, I find ordinary shorts and half-length pants more healthy and cute."
"Oh, so that's your fetish faction?"
Staying calm and rational, Mei confirmed.
Her serious eyes looked like they belonged to a professional market analyst.
"Hey, are there factions in such things!? Are there faction wars going on in secret!?"
"How naive, Hi-kun... Bloomer worshipers, shorts worshipers, spandex worshipers, tracksuit worshipers... Ever since the age of bloomers' supremacy was overthrown, girls' sportswear has entered warring states era of a free-for-all battlefield!"
"I've never heard of it. Even if it's as you say, what does it have to do with me in the slightest?"
"Of course it matters greatly. Suppose I trick you into the gym storeroom and lock the door, if you don't like my outfit, what would I do?"
"Let me state for the record, I'm absolutely not going there!"
"Don't worry, I'll drag you there by force❤"
Saying that, Mei raised her arm to display her combat strength.
The extremely feminine upper arm, with its snow-white complexion, would easily take off, let alone snap, Hisui's arm if she used her full strength.
"Scary! Besides, going to that kind of musty and moodless place... to do that, are you satisfied with that?"
"Rather, it should be said that that kind of environment helps build up the mood? As long as Hi-kun wishes, I'd gladly do it, even in a stable!"
"As if I'd wish that!"
Firm denial must be expressed here.
"Hisui, what are you two going to do in a stable!? Also, what should I wear for the sports festival!? So, treat it as a reward for your everyday efforts, umm, I-I could wear what you prefer..."
"...Thanks, but the thought is enough. Also, please ignore Sudou's comments, she's a bad influence."
Seeing Rushella ask shyly, Hisui could not help but sigh and reply to her discreetly.
By the time he noticed, it was sundown already. Hisui led Rushella and prepared to leave.
"It's about time to go home. The fridge is empty so I'll need to go shopping."
"Oh really? So, Touko-san, in order to conquer Hi-kun, let's have a strategy conference."
"No problem, you can count on me!"
"...Yeah yeah, go ahead you two, do your worst."
Ignoring the artificial human and the ghost, Hisui left school.
All he thought about was visiting the supermarket and buying dinner's ingredients together with Rushella.
Originally, he wanted to make a combo of grilled fish and boiled vegetables, but there happened to be a discount on imported beef. Unable to resist Rushella's persistent pleading, Hisui ended up changing the dinner menu to steak.
"Hmm, tonight's dishes are very extravagant! If only we could eat meat every day."
"Don't be a picky eater... Well. You're a vampire so it doesn't matter."
Along the way home, Hisui muttered.
For a vampire, everything apart from blood would be considered junk food.
Despite not needing to eat at all in fact, most vampires were quite particular and extravagant in their tastes for food.
Hisui's foster parent was the same in the past.
She loved meat and only liked it medium rare.
But in consideration for Hisui, the dining table would offer other food as well... All cooked to perfection with strict standards for taste.
"Hmm? What's the matter?"
Rushella's voice expelled these thoughts from Hisui's mind, bringing him back to reality.
If she realized what he was thinking about, surely she would be displeased again.
"Also, why are you so concerned with discounts and compare them repeatedly? You also check out all the flyers. Are you a housewife!?"
"How sad, I can't find any words to deny... But isn't being economical a virtue?"
"Since it's food for me, what does a little extravagance matter? Otherwise, you should use my gold coins. There's quite a lot left, right?"
Just as Rushella pointed out, they were not actually so poor as to want for living expenses.
A small part of the gold coins from her coffin had been exchanged for cash, but the majority was still at home.
Finances were given to Hisui for full control, but he never used that money at all.
"Hmm, if living expenses to spend on you are depleted, I'll start using them, but there's no problem right now."
"...It's fine if you spend it too? Since it's my money, then spending it on me is only natural, right?"
"True, but it's still better to save money. Even if a vampire lives forever young, life would be hard without money. Especially the way you live, big spender."
"You're noisy. Shut up!"
Rushella pouted unhappily. Hisui ignored her.
He was not wrong. Besides, his foster parent who was of her kind, also shared the same values.
"That parent who raised you, she must be quite loaded, right? After all, you're not worrying about living expenses right now."
Very rarely did Rushella bring up Hisui's parent—Miraluka.
Regarding money, it looked like Rushella had many opinions.
"Well... She apparently went to earn money quite often. Having lived for that long, naturally, she had quite substantial savings. If she wished, she could have spent her money recklessly on anything apart from blood and there was no need to be so economical."
"Umm... After she died, she left you a lot of things, right?"
Rushella asked awkwardly.
Becuase she knew that the deceased parent was part of the past that Hisui did not wish to bring up the most.
But for the sake of understanding Hisui more... She still asked.
"She did leave me a lot. Rather, she left too much. All rights to the house, bank account savings, etc... To be honest, I'm currently not too clear on what else. I think there's also a lawyer prepared. When I'm twenty, everything will be handed over to me. Right now, living expenses are fine, so there's nothing to worry about."
"What's that? There's a will? She knew... she was going to die?"
"No, I think... She probably thought that a day would come when she could leave me without worrying... Something like that. After all, there would come a day when I'd surpass her outward age. If we still stayed together, it'd be too unnatural."
An aging and decrepit human. An immortal vampire with eternal youth. They could not possibly live together forever.
Humans die eventually.
Even before death arrived, a weak and elderly human would not match an eternally youthful vampire either.
Perhaps people in the surroundings would noticed the weirdness and cause problems.
A relationship doomed to end, never reaching eternity.
Miraluka very likely knew this very well.
Since antiquity, she had seen too many encounters and partings.
Perhaps because of that, she choose to leave behind a massive inheritance in preparation for the future day of parting.
"...Then what are you worrying about, just go ahead and use it? She left it precisely for you."
Rushella spoke unhappily.
Imperceptibly, she had wrapped her arms around Hisui's arm.
"Hmm... I'm also hesitating about whether I should use it."
"As much as I don't like to admit, it's true that she raised me. Actually, that's quite enough already, so I don't want to continue relying on her. Well, tuition can't be helped and I can't really bring myself to work part-time like mad to earn money... Anyway, I don't want to keep relying on her."
An indescribable sense of loneliness floated in Hisui's eyes.
By this point, Miraluka still occupied a part of his heart and would continued to do so in the future.
Whether accepting her legacy wish or opposing it, neither result could escape from her grasp.
Rushella probably felt this level of meaning and terrifying expression surfaced on her face as she clung onto Hisui's arm tightly.
"Ouch, what are you doing, it really hurts!"
"So noisy, shut up!! Hurry and go home!"
"What the heck... H-Hey, you're pressing your bosom..."
"So noisy!! Stop saying rubbish! I want to take a bath first, so prepare dinner for me during that time!"
Rushella hugged even tighter, almost entangling her entire body around him.
It was difficult to walk.
Clearly his house was before his eyes, yet every step seemed so difficult.
"Stop it, could you stop stuffing that massive bust, so large and soft and puffy it defies science, into my armpit!? When I walk, it touches... Eh, did I touch something sharp?"
"What are you talking about!? Hurry and walk!"
Rushella ignored Hisui's struggling and dragged him forward.
From an observer view, they were clearly a couple with the boy being dragged by the girl.
For example, this observer standing at the entrance to his house, who knew what expression would be made?
"The two of you look like you're having loads of fun, eh?"
Leaning against the wall, a woman jeered.
Her black, short-cropped hair and slender physique stood out under the streetlight's illumination.
The black, woman's suit gave the impression of a career woman while the curves of her body resembled that of a gorgeous model—or a seasoned athlete.
"It's been a while, the two of you, eh?"
Oogami Rangetsu—that was her name.
Belonging to the Metropolitan Police Department's Supernatural Investigations Section like Eruru, she was a proper detective.
Nevertheless, Hisui and Rushella ignored her completely and went past her directly.
"...Hey, hold it right there, you two! Why are you ignoring me!?"
Seeing them ignore her, Rangetsu yelled angrily.
But they looked at each other and suspiciously eyed the uninvited guest.
"Hey, she looks angry... Is she here to visit you? She doesn't look like a vampire, could she be an enemy? Maybe she's related to your lost memories?"
"I don't know her! Fine, just ignore her!"
Rushella dragged Hisui towards the entrance to their home.
Rangetsu grabbed him.
"Hey hey hey, hold it right there! It's me! Oogami Rangetsu!"
Then she pointed at herself and announced her name.
Hisui made a look as though he remembered and clapped his hands.
"You remember now!?"
He answered expressionlessly and took out his key.
"...Hey, wait up! What the heck, you should have remembered with this sort of dialogue, okay!?"
"Sorry, who are you again?"
"That's right! No recollection at all! If you keep pestering us, we're gonna call the p'lice, okay!?"
Rushella was just as enraged as Hisui.
Both of them had forgotten Rangetsu completely.
"You two...! I am the police! Look, here's my badge!"
Just like in a television crime drama, Rangetsu opened up her badge to show her identity.
But the two cast skeptical glances at her.
"That's fake, right?"
"Hmm, I knew it, in these situations, we should call the p'lice..."
"You two are going too far! Have you forgotten the vampire incident last time!? It's me, the werewolf, Oogami Rangetsu!!"
She was supposed to hide this identity as much as possible, yet she yelled with reckless abandon.
By this point, Hisui seemed to remember.
"Oh, from that time!"
"Sorry for troubling you last time. Goodbye."
Then Hisui and Rushella ignored her decisively and opened the door to enter the house.
But Rangetsu mercilessly grabbed Hisui's back collar and dragged him back.
"What are you doing...? Didn't I remember already?"
"What's the point if you do nothing more than remembering? What kind of reaction is this!? Even if an ordinary police came to your house, you should be a bit more surprised, right!?"
"I haven't committed any crimes. Don't be so full of yourself, dog of the state."
"Yes, that suits your name very well!"
Rushella crossed her arms and concurred.
Struck in a werewolf's greatest berserk button, Rangetsu glared viciously in return at them.
"You two really dare say anything you want... I am a noble wolf!"
"But based on biological classification, the boundary between dogs and wolves is very fuzzy, right? And it's not like one is inferior or superior to the other."
"Yeah, dogs are so cute, being so furry and fuzzy. Besides, for a werewolf-human hybrid like you, what right do you have to talk about pureblooded wolves?"
Rushella boldly pointed out the truth.
Unable to refute her words, Rangetsu gnashed her teeth.
"Then what business do you have? I still have to make dinner, you know?"
"Finally, you're willing to talk properly. But standing out here isn't really appropriate..."
"No, let's just stand here. Hurry up and finish it."
In a laid back manner, Hisui began to ask Rangetsu to leave.
At this moment, Rushella quietly whispered in his ear.
"Hey, maybe this bitch wants to enter the house?"
"Because she looks like she's been waiting at the entrance a long time. And deliberately looking like she's waiting."
"Oh, you mean leaning against the wall, with her arms and legs crossed? If it were indoors, whatever, but a full-fledged adult shouldn't be doing that in the middle of the road, right? That kind of behavior is, at most, second year of middle school."
"Yeah, her long and slender limbs are quite a sight, but I can't bear the sight of them in person!"
"Yeah. And this wall is so rough, who knows if one might soil or rip clothes."
"Oh, no way!?"
Rangetsu frantically twisted her head to look at her back.
Naturally, a neck's range of motion was limited. After futile efforts to look behind, all she succeeded was hurting her neck.
Hence, Rushella very helpfully checked out the fabric on her back for her.
"Looks like there's no damage but there's a lot of white dust. Here, let me get it off for you."
Rushella brushed the dust away, saving Rangetsu from her embarrassing situation.
"Yes, it's clean now!"
"Okay, take care on your way back."
"Good luck with your work."
Hisui and Rushella smiled and sent her off.
Rangetsu bowed and turned to leave—Then suddenly braked hard and turned around.
"...Hey, why did you send me off so naturally!? I almost fell for it!"
"Oopsie. She saw through it."
Hisui stuck his tongue out mischievously while Rushella made an "oh no" expression.
"It's time for you two to behave yourselves... Stop playing adults for a fool!"
"...Then be quick with what you've gotta say. If you want us to invite you inside for tea, forget about it!"
"Like I'd care for that! There's a cafe nearby, how about my treat!? Don't underestimate civil servants, okay!?"
"Why do you want to talk with us so much? You and me... There should be nothing to say, right? So you're looking for Hisui. Are you trying to 'persuade' him again!? No, he belongs to me!"
Rushella hugged Hisui's right arm, no, his entire body and entered a high state of alert.
It was impossible for her to get along with a werewolf in the first place. And now, she was treating Rangetsu the same as Mei—a rival targeting Hisui.
"Why are you two sticking together so close... Hmph, so you've got a thing for vampires, huh?"
Hisui denied verbally, but because Rushella's bosom was pressing tightly against him, he could not help but blush.
And did not resist either.
"I came here today because of the vampire incident last time. The results of the interrogation are almost ready. So I came to give you a report."
"Who cares about that. I'm not interested."
Hisui rejected flatly.
He was not pretending and really did exude an aura of indifference.
"Uh, but... You should understand the situation, right?"
"More precisely, I don't trust you. Perhaps you questioned that vampire called Fabru or Fester or whatever and got a lot of true facts out of him. But second hand from you, it could very well have changed already. I don't need your report, filled with bias and ulterior motives, so I'll just ask Kariya later."
Hisui rejected mercilessly.
In the earlier incident, they had been enemies for some duration. Even now, Hisui still had lingering fears.
The boy who treated all races equally yet was wary against supernatural creatures that resembled humans.
The most terrifying monster in the world—Humans.
He found it impossible to trust Rangetsu who was trying to turn from foe to friend, in accordance with her approach to survival.
Melding into human society, interacting with humans, disguised as a human, doing all this required eloquence of speech and craftiness.
"W-What... You trust Kariya-san that much!?"
"She's more trustworthy than you."
"...That's it? I thought it's because you like her? You like the petite type!?"
"...What are you talking about? Well, I do admit she's quite cute."
Hisui gave his honest opinion but ended up causing Rushella to grip him forcefully.
"...What the heck?"
"You're being noisy. Shut up."
Rushella pouted with displeasure and rubbed her face against Hisui's arm. She looked like a child who was hugging a favorite doll.
"Kariya-san... Is she really that worthy of your trust? Although the earlier incident changed her stance somewhat, in actual fact, she's just using you, right?"
"Whatever. I've received quite a lot of help from her, so I think we're even. If the things I do can bring benefits to her, I guess it's a good thing to be happy about?"
The unexpected answer made Rangetsu agitated.
Why was there such a large difference between the ways he treated Eruru and her?
"She's only curious about your strange constitution... And concerned about this vampire, right? One day, she'll point the barrel of her gun at you, do you understand?"
"No, she does that on a frequent basis already. To be honest, I'd be totally grateful if that could be changed. Is this all you wanna talk about? Did you come all this way just to talk trash behind Kariya's back?"
Hisui was implying "finish what you're saying and be gone." His tone of voice did not try to conceal his displeasure at all.
Exuding an indifferent aura of evicting guests, Hisui was making Rangetsu a little intimidated.
"Th-That's not it! I-It's about... Last time... What you casually took away! Do you really think that kind of high-class holy water comes for free!?"
"What does it matter if it was used to defeat a 'Pure of the Pure'? It's gotta be used some time. I thought I asked Kariya to get some lenience for me already?"
"Uh, umm, I mean..."
"If you still insist that I recompense, then I'll go ask someone from the Vatican to give you a replacement."
Rushella asked Hisui quietly after hearing him.
"How do you have connections with the Vatican?"
"It's Miraluka who had some. Of course, her relationship with the Vatican was essentially one between enemies, seeing as simply stepping on that piece of land caused her great suffering, but there are apparently a couple acquaintances there. Due to getting involved with the Church's core members, she had a few interactions with them, similar to a real version of the Da Vinci Code. If I mention her name, getting holy water shouldn't be a problem. Or perhaps I might even have some existing in my basement already."
Without letting Rangetsu overhear, Hisui secretly whispered into Rushella's lovely ear.
From a third party's view, their exchange looked like loving whispers between lovers.
"What are you two flirting about...!?"
"This isn't flirting."
"There's no flirting at all."
Even though they were intimately entangled together, arm in arm.
Not a single gap could be seen between them.
"So it turns out like this huh... So in the end, this is the fact of the matter!?"
"...Have you made a serious misunderstanding?"
"Shut up! Enough, apart from what you used in the last incident, a few other confiscated items have gone missing. I was orignally just trying to confirm in detail... There's no need now!!"
"Eh, are you serious? Oh... If you need any help, I'll try searching within my ability. Is it fine if I get instructions from Kariya?"
Hisui ended up adding fuel to the fire.
This young man would occasionally put certain taboos to words.
"So annoying! You vampire fetishist!"
"No no, Kariya is a dhampir, she'll get mad if you mix them up..."
"Shut up and go enjoy your blood-sucking play!"
"Could you not use the word 'play', okay?"
"Better watch yourself on a moonlit night! Especially the full moon!"
"Isn't the usual warning about a dark night? Oh right, you're a werewolf..."
Before Hisui's jab could finish, Rangetsu had already run off, almost bursting into tears.
As expected of a werewolf, her astounding speed caused her to meld into the darkness and disappear before their eyes.
"What on earth did she come here for?"
"I think she seems quite into you, right?"
Rushella's words carried barbs.
Although she was not particularly shrewd of mind, she already possessed a maiden's heart like a human.
"Huh? Me? My only good point is that I'm used to getting along with non-humans, nothing more, right?"
"I think that's exactly the point."
This was precisely Kujou Hisui's greatest advantage.
Due to his foster parent and his constitution, he did not hold biased preconceptions against supernatural entities.
Precisely because of that, he was surrounded by so many ladies fighting for his attentions.
"...Let's forget about that woman for now. Hurry up and make dinner! Grill the meat! For the sake of the relay race, I need proper nourishment!"
Rushella's thoughts turned to food. Dragging Hisui's arm, she urged him to hurry to the kitchen and get to work.
Their stomachs were already rumbling with hunger.
"Yeah yeah, I know I know. You want it medium rare, right?"
"Yes! By the way, I want red wine!"
"As if you're gonna get wine! ...That said, I guess I could add a bit to the side dishes or snacks. After all, there's more than I could ever use up in the underground wine cellar."
Rushella did not expect his answer and asked with worry.
Indeed, kept in the basement of this house were uncountable numbers of excellent vintages from the past.
Vampires loved red wine. Naturally, the one who collected them was Hisui's parent.
Last time, Rushella had broken the bottle that carried the most precious memories from this collection.
Hisui did not seem to mind and never brought it up again. However, Rushella still felt guilty about that incident.
"This is similar to last time's holy water, I shouldn't let it go to waste. I can add wine to the beef and vegetables during cooking so there's no lack of opportunities to use it. Even if it's discount meat, adding this wine will improve its quality substantially."
"That's... right! What's yours is mine! Serve me well!"
"What a glutton you are. But could you not steal wine to drink? I can already foresee you getting drunk."
"I... will not. Umm... Only openly, two of us together."
"I'm not of age yet."
"Then... Umm, we'll wait until you're old enough!"
"Oh... Okay, that works."
Hisui did not waste time pondering and readily agreed.
Rushella also seemed satisfied with the current state.
Thinking that this sort of everyday life could persist forever...
Forgetting that between vampires and humans—The difference in race.
"...By the way, your colleague came calling at my door yesterday. Did you hear anything about it?"
"No, this is my first time hearing of it."
During the lunch break, Hisui asked Eruru about last night but she flatly denied.
She did not even look at Hisui when answering him.
While eating a sandwich with one hand, she was staring at the notebook computer on the desk.
"And even though we are co-workers, we belong to completely different chains of command and standpoints. Do you not think you are asking the wrong person?"
"Yeah, but you're both under the MPD, right? Honestly, her hassling is quite annoying. I'm afraid to leave the house when there's a full moon at night."
"Perhaps all she wants is simply to see you?"
"Even if she is unwilling to pass messages through me, she could call by phone or send a subordinate. There are all sorts of ways. Given she is contacting you in person like this and trying to recruit you, does it not make sense?"
"Why would she do that? Even if I'm more knowledgeable than average, I'm still a high schooler after all, right?"
"On top of experience, there is the matter between genders."
Eruru typed dextrously using one hand on the keyboard while making the kind of statement that did not suit her.
"In the earlier incident, she found out about the foster parent who raised you as well as your constitution. However, you can still keep the status quo. Most likely, she did not report to her superiors and discreetly hid things in her heart on her own initiative. You should express a little gratitude at least, right?"
"... Well, okay. Say, you immerse yourself in work all day long, is it that fun?"
Seeing Eruru still attached to work even during the lunch break, Hisui asked incredulously.
Eruru had infiltrated the school to monitor Rushella and essentially did not interact with her classmates most of the time.
Apart from Hisui, she did not even chat with anyone. Neither did she leave her computer during breaks. She always ate lunch alone in solitude.
"Say... Could you play the part of a student a little, how's that?"
"Are you asking a university graduate to play as a student?"
"Uh, what I mean is... Enjoy the springtime of youth?"
"Enough with the stale jokes. Has your mind regressed to Rushella's level?"
"Wow, that sounds really obnoxious."
Hisui sighed and looked back to his seat.
Next to there, Rushella and Mei had their lunchboxes laid out while they chatted casually, occasionally entering the usual arguments.
Comparing Eruru with Rushella—Indeed, the one over there was definitely enjoying her youth much more.
"Since you're at school, how about relaxing properly? At least do something more enjoyable and relaxing than work?"
"My presence here itself is already work. Please do not worry unnecessarily over me."
Eruru's stance remained firm.
Hisui also stopped with his irresponsible remarks and turned his direction towards lessening her work load.
"I heard from that woman yesterday that the Supernatural Investigations Section lost some of the confiscated items. Was it during the earlier commotion? Let me help you find them?"
"That comes under my responsibilities so there is no need for you to assist. Indeed, a few articles were lost and there was some damage, but the aftermath is almost complete. However, I did hear that one object still cannot be found despite all efforts."
"What is it?"
Eruru shrugged to express her ignorance.
Her irresponsible attitude caused Hisui to probe the issue deeper.
"Hey hey hey, what are you guys doing with taxpayer's hard earned cash?"
"I really have no idea. It is a chemical that was confiscated from a radical guild under a certain black magic system, apparently a liquid kept in a suspicious-looking bottle... Of unknown purpose. It could be a poison or a drug, or even something completely harmless."
"What, that sounds totally scary!? What would happen if it got outside!?"
"Very likely, it's already outside. Originally, the staff intended to request someone outside to conduct a thorough analysis, but then the vampire commotion happened. The staff transporting the bottle was one of the victims."
Eruru spoke with a serious expression.
On that day, pointing her gun at colleagues and bringing salvation to humans, those dark and depressing memories could not be expelled from her heart.
"So... The bottle was not found among the remains?"
"Indeed. After all, the bottle is small and could have dropped somewhere or was picked up by someone... Most likely the former. Since the contents were not identified, plus the complicated incident, the police did not publicize this affair. They simply had someone file a report and ended the matter."
"I see... Oh, right, about that Fer-whatever vampire..."
"You mean Fergus. What about him?"
"What happened to the coffin?"
Making sure that Rushella's attention was not directed towards this side, Hisui leaned in close and whispered to Eruru.
The coffin dredged up from the bottom of the sea, made with the same craftsmanship as Rushella's coffin—Its connection to Rushella's origins was still a mystery.
"Fergus' torture... I mean interrogation was completely entrusted to me. I have already asked him and he himself apparently does not know."
"Oh sorry, did you say torture? You really said torture!?"
"I said it."
"Deny it, okay!? If you corrected yourself, then don't admit it!"
"Do not worry. I have things under control. False testimony will not be forced out of him. Although he was very cocky in the beginning, after a few garlic injections, he started to froth at the mouth and his eyes went dead, then he told us everything."
"Scary! As expected of the great hero Kariya. Although I'm equally well-versed in vampire weaknesses, you effortlessly did what I could never do. I am totally impressed in reverence and trepidation, greatly intimidated~~"
"This is all thanks to you, making him combine with holy water on a particle level. He is already thrashing about so much he cannot speak clearly. Oh well, give it some time and patience to listen to him give out the full story. After that, I allowed him to rest for a few days. It should be almost about time now."
Eruru even smiled as she spoke.
This made Hisui's hair stand on end and he could not help but distance himself from her.
"What is the matter with you?"
"About the coffin, you could try asking Kirika-san's opinion, right? I happen to have this from Fergus and the sample you provided to me in the past."
Eruru took out evidence bags from her school bag.
Inside the bags were fragments shaved off from the two coffins respectively.
"Oh right. Then let me help you take them over. I'll be gone for a bit, so please help me watch Rushella."
"If anything happens, I will shoot. Do not worry."
In emergencies, Eruru never hesitated. That was her style.
Carrying some level of unease, Hisui left the classroom.
Although he knew the location of Kirika's classroom, to be honest, he felt hesitant going to an upperclassmen's floor, let alone visiting a second year's class.
He originally wanted to ask her to come out using a text message, but after recalling her responsibilities in the school, another location opened up as a possibility.
"...Lemme try the student council office."
He had heard that she often worked at the office during the lunch break as well.
Seeing as the sports festival was looming near, she was probably more likely to be in the office rather than her classroom.
Arriving at the staff room's floor, Hisui looked up at the signs over each door.
He knew that the student council office should be nearby but he had never visited before.
"Hmm... Ah, it's here."
Finally, he found the sign which said "Student Council Office." Before him was Kirika's workplace.
This room was only half the size of a normal classroom. Its structure was similar to special classrooms like laboratories or preparation rooms.
Hisui was just about to open the door when a boy walked out from inside.
The guy was quite handsome. Unlike Hisui's androgynous features, he was a standard male. Darker complexion. Muscular physique.
A face that girls found attractive, Hisui recognized it.
Hisui recalled the student council president and third year student—He frequently gave speeches in morning assemblies. Reportedly, like Kirika, he was equally gifted in beauty and intellect, a student deeply trusted by the teachers.
Hisui tried to talk to him but did not expect him to leave directly, ignoring him.
"Wait up! We haven't finished talking!"
Another girl chased out from the student council office.
It was Kirika.
"What is the meaning of this!? If the matters of the sports festival are not discussed seriously, you will cause others trouble in the future!?"
"I've already said, just do it your way, okay? After all, it doesn't matter whether I'm present or not. All the other council members think so too."
"But... Why can't you do your work properly!?"
Ignoring Hisui's arrival, Kirika scolded the president repeatedly.
"Because you go too far. Isn't it time for you to realize? That's why nobody wants to come here."
The president retorted impatiently. Kirika fell silent.
It looked like he had struck her in a sore spot.
"Like before, just do as you like. No one will object. If you want my approval to report back to the teachers, I give you my approval. Are you happy now?"
"I still have a club meeting, so I'll be on my way."
The student council president left Kirika, whose head was bowed down, and departed through the corrider.
Hisui and Kirika remained silent. Finally, Kirika was the first to speak.
"...Looks like you witnessed an embarrassing sight."
"No, it's okay..."
Although Hisui tried to comfort her, he sighed in his mind, lamenting he should not have seen this scene.
Although he had already heard rumors that Kirika did not get along with the other members of the student council, after seeing it with his own eyes, he could not say anything.
"Is it... Differences in direction...? Or different opinions on operation...?"
"...Pretty much. More bluntly stated, all the other members seem to hate me."
Kirika spoke with self-abandonment.
Never compromising, devoting herself to work altruistically was Kirika, compared to the other member's whose motivation was lukewarm... There was a decisive and unfillable gap in passion towards the student council.
"How about talking to the teacher who's the student council advisor...? Even if there are disputes, there can't be no solution."
Hisui made a practical suggestion but surely Kirika must have thought of it already.
She ended up scoffing derisively.
"I've brought it up many times. Every time, I was asked to compromise. Saying I am too headstrong and should accommodate others more. Is that what you want to say as well?"
Kirika turned her gaze towards him with some hostility.
But Hisui simply scratched his head unfazed.
"No~ I don't really care. After all, I only know you, Senpai, so I'll only stand on your side."
"W-What are you talking about...!?"
Kirika was greatly shaken.
However, Hisui did not notice her blushing.
"Uh, exactly what the words say? Although they have their own ideas which might actually be correct, even so, I have never thought of siding with them. Rather, I don't want to do that. Besides, you're already so troubled. Senpai."
"I-It's not like... I'm troubled..."
Kirika fidgeted with her fingers, her face growing redder and redder.
Nevertheless, Hisui did not notice and kept going.
"It's not easy for one person to bear everything. Although being accommodating is important too, ultimately it still depends on how you want to do things, Senpai. If you find it tough then compromise. If you find compromising even tougher, then just keep things as they are. At any rate, I'm not gonna dislike you for it, Senpai."
"W-What do you mean by that...!?"
"...? Uh, basically what I said..."
Kirika suddenly leaned over, causing Hisui to retreat.
Although she did not get as close as Rushella would, it was still close enough to make him uncomfortable.
"Anyway, I've received a lot of your help already, so if you think I can be of use, I don't mind doing odd chores... The others can also..."
"I don't need anyone apart from you..."
This last sentence made Hisui completely puzzled.
"But, even if Rushella will definitely cause more trouble than helping, Sudou could mess things up if she used the wrong strength, I don't wanna trouble Kariya during the daytime, putting Touko-san aside... Eh, why am I the only one left?"
"...See. So it's best if you help me by yourself. I intend to enter the student council president election next year. If I'm elected, I will let you join the student council."
"Oh no, that's okay. It's troublesome."
"Quiet! I have already decided. Yes, this will do..."
Summing up on her own, Kirika nodded with satisfaction.
Seeing Hisui surprised, Kirika then asked him why he had come.
"...So, what do you need? You went out of your way to see me."
"Oh~~ Last time, that vampire's coffin is quite similar to Rushella's. I was wondering if I could ask for your opinion or get some help in investigating... But seeing you so busy, forget about it."
"Not at all, you are welcome."
Saying that, Kirika snatched the plastic bags from Hisui's hand.
"I already said it is fine. But don't get your hopes up too much. How about... This coming Saturday... Would you like to come to my house?"
Kirika looked up and asked.
Her attitude suddenly changed 180 degrees.
"...Do you have something planned already?"
"Nothing, I guess..."
"Then come. Also, my grandmother finally returned. Regarding these fragments and Rushella's matter... She should be able to answer many of your doubts. You're interested... too, right?"
"Well... I guess..."
Going over to a girl's home on a holiday—Although Hisui felt a little resistant, but given he had legitimate business to handle, there was no time to hesitate.
"Then... It's decided. Very well, I will also prepare some light-blocking agent. Just pick it up when you're visiting."
Kirika seemed to be finding a reason to increase the legitimacy of the visit.
Although Hisui felt grateful inside, he did not want to trouble others too much.
"You really don't need to do this. I'm sure you're quite busy."
"It won't take up a lot of effort. I have heard from Kariya-san, it seems like Rushella-san is quite enthusiastic about participating in the sports festival? Then isn't it very necessary?"
"Well... I guess..."
"Then stop making excuses. Saturday afternoon is fine, right? I will contact you about the specific time and location later."
"...Well then, see you on Saturday."
Concealing a shy expression, Kirika left after speaking.
During her departure, the lively spring in her step was almost like a dance.
Although Hisui's unease was not completely laid to rest, the bell rang for the end of the lunch break and he had no choice but to make his way to the cleaning grounds.
Translator's Notes and References
- In Japanese, Oogami sounds the same as the word for wolf.
|Back to Prologue||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 2|