Dead silence filled the lobby. The cheering for other match and other voices came in from the match venue, but even with all those noises it felt like silence had visited this place, it must be the fault of the atmosphere that was brought about by the two high school girls staring at each other.
"You are calling yourself a samurai" "I'm not a samurai" It was only those words. It wasn't a conversation that high school girls would generally make, but the atmosphere of the two was too serious to call it a joke.
The asking side even now was exhaling out wild breath that was accompanied with vapor from her mouth, with an atmosphere where it was as though her bloodshot eyes might even emitted mysterious beam, while the replying side wasn't even making an astonished expression that said「Just what is this girl saying?」, rather a desperation of「You think I'll let anyone attach anymore strange attribute on me more than this! I'm not a samurai, believe it!」 could be peeked at from the gap of her expression.
「I'll change how I said it. You, you are calling yourself a kendoka like that!?」
The kendo girl who boasted a huge body frame where people who seemed to be her kendo club teammates and Shizuku's friends from kendo club were still sticking on her, was raising an angry yell with a cute anime voice just like before. The gap between the voice and the Fudou Myouou face was terrific.
The first thing Shizuku did was to let out a sigh of relieve while stroking her chest hearing she was entered into a category that wasn't that strange for an active high school girl to be in while showing a perplexed expression at the indignation of the Fudou Myouou girl.
「I don't understand what do you mean by "like that" but……at the very least, right now I'm not even in kendo club, so I cannot say that I'm a kendoka.」
「-, then, it's as I thought, you are saying that you resigned? You are not just taking absent?」
Her aura of anger was still unchanged, but the Fudou Myouu girl asked with an expression that somewhat feeling shocked.
「Yes, I have formally resigned, and I also don't have plan of coming back.」
「……I know that you encountered a serious incident. Is that the cause? I heard that you aren't injured, but do you have a circumstance that make you unable to return?」
*grit* There was such sound. It was the sound of Fudou Myouou girl clenching her fist tightly. The kouhai-chan that was clinging on that arm to stop the girl stared still at that fist while her expression was starting to go pale. Her tear gland looked like it would burst crying anytime.
「No. Both my mind and body are healthy. It's not that I "cannot" return, but I "won't" return. That's what I decided.」
「-, Yaegashiii, you are-, -……wha, what is, your reason?」
Kouhai-chan's arms were repelled away! By the inflating arm muscle! Kouhai-chan fell on her butt and she trembled all over! The friends of Shizuku, and also the teammates of the Fudou Myouou girl too, they were seeing the vision of the girl's rage aura and shivered in fear!
The Fudou Myouou girl desperately repressed the something that was overflowing out from inside herself and tried her best to be calm. Hearing that question, Shizuku scratched on her cheek awkwardly while deliberating of how to answer.
If she said her reason honestly, it would be because in the world of kendo there was already no one that could become her opponent, because the specs she obtained in another world was a foul play, those were the reasons but……
By no meant she could say those things just like that. If she said such thing, perhaps Fudou Myouou would really descent to this world for real.
Now then, how to answer so that the matter could be settled peacefully……
Shizuku didn't even need five second to ruminate.
But, it seemed that little time instead gave the other party a conclusion.
「……I see. I get it. I didn't want to believe it, because I thought that there is no way that Yaegashi would, but――it's because you got a man aren't you.」
「Eh? Ah, no, it's not like――」
Shizuku noticed that the gaze of the Fudou Myouou girl turned toward behind her and she tried to say something.
But, before she could the Fudou Myouou girl threw a gaze that glinted with murderous brutality!
Not only the kendo girls right nearby, even the kendo boys and officials who became curious onlookers from afar were trembling violently altogether!
Hajime-san's glint reversal!!
What was overflowing out from those shrinking pupils was exactly madness! It caused everyone to feel shiver and their body locked up thinking「Those eyes, those are absolutely the eyes of a murderer aren't they!?」. That thing over there was a demon wearing the skin of a high school boy!
The Fudou Myouou girl quietly returned her gaze to Shizuku.
That thing was no good. That was something that a human must not got involved with no matter what. The instinct of Fudou Myouou girl-chan that made that judgment wasn't mistaken.
Now, let's get a fresh start.
「It's because you got a man aren't you!」
「For now, wait a little bit okay. ……Hajime, stop with the glaring. She is getting teary eyed, and several people collapsed already while foaming in the mouth. Look, like my kouhai over there.」
Hajime-san was looking.
When Shizuku looked back across her shoulder and asked Hajime to stop with a wry smile, Hajime obediently settled down his ghastly aura. He folded his arms once more and also closed his eyes. His atmosphere was turning back to a quiet one. The madness had left. Everyone's SAN value was protected!
Shizuku's friends let out whispers of gratitude「Shizuku is goddess」. Also, it seemed the legend of the school's two great goddess would increase. In a bit of different meaning than before.
「So, you are ignoring me. You are telling me that someone like me is not even worthy to be your opponent is it?」
「Err, you look like you are going to burst into tear anytime now you know? I won't ignore you or anything, so don't force yourself to progress the talk and wipe your……」
「Are you pitying me!?」
Looks like she was already in a state that couldn't withdraw back anymore. The rage that she harbored toward Shizuku for some reason and the glint reversal that a normal high school girl shouldn't get exposed at for their whole life seemed to cause her mind to be really at her wits end.
Shizuku was opening her mouth to calm down Fudou-chan who was picking a quarrel with that teary eyes while still emitting her great intensity, but the heated up Fudou-chan raised her voice angrily as though to drown out Shizuku's voice.
「I, in order to win against you! I'm giving it my all until now only for that! Whether it's in the middle school, or at the first year of high school, I was undefeated! Except against you! You were the one who always became the champion at the tournament! Even though defeating that you is my only objective, and yet!」
Angry voice, was it really? Her intensity caused the people there to feel that it was like that, but for Shizuku, she was somehow getting the impression that the girl looked like she was clinging to something, or perhaps as though she was lamenting because she understood that what she wanted was forever out of her reach.
「When you disappeared, I despaired at that time! I even thought for a moment to stop with kendo-. I transferred here was also because I thought, that if I do kendo at the district where you were at, then perhaps my feeling will cleared up a bit! That's why, when you came back, I was really happy, and yet……and yet, for you to abandon your sword just for a man!」
Surprisingly, the Fudou Myouou girl-chan's surname seemed to be "Fudou". What a match. Shizuku's whisper was faint and it only reached Hajime, but that Hajime was obviously shocked while saying 「What, did you say……don't tell me, her name is Myouou?」.
By the way, the girl's name was Fudou Akari. Hajime, consolation price for you. (TN: Fudou Myouou = 不動明王, Fudou Akari = 不動明)
Fudou-chan rapidly walked toward Shizuku, leaving behind her teammates and Shizuku's friend who had let go of her due to her menacing aura.
And then, she pointed with a snap at Shizuku's nose, and with a blazing straightforward gaze she,
「Fight me, Yaegashi Shizuku. If you forget about me because you think it's something trivial, then I'll make you remember. This kendo of mine that you don't pay any attention to, I'll beat it into your body to teach you how formidable it is!」
Yes, it was a war declaration.
Of course, Shizuku had no duty or responsibility to accept. The other party was considering her as rival, feeling furious, and tried to drag her into a fight were all by her own convenience. It was completely unrelated with Shizuku.
(――It will be easier if I can just ignore this, huh)
That was exactly why Yaegashi Shizuku couldn't ignore this. Her personality wasn't one that would let her choose the easy path.
To say nothing of how the other party didn't come at her with ill will, and seeing how the other party somehow gave her an impression as though she was struggling with her own heart, made her unable to refuse even more.
「I accept your challenge.」
She accepted that challenge gallantly. The sharp glint of the other party, was replied back with a deep gaze that looked like a tranquil forest.
That voice wasn't raised to be louder or displayed intense pressure by any means. However, the heavy and deep "something" inside that voice definitely made Fudou to unconsciously hitched her voice.
Seeing that, Shizuku's look loosened up slightly.
「However, is it fine with you if we do it at another day? Today, I'm coming to cheer for my friends. I cannot prioritize you here. Fudou-san yourself, you aren't planning to come at me by neglecting your teammates correct?」
Lured by Shizuku's gaze, Fudou looked back behind her. Over there, there were her kendo club teammates staring worriedly at her. A small groan 「u」 leaked out from Fudou. It seemed she recovered her senses for a bit after seeing her teammates.
Her expression turned awkward and apologetic, and then she shook her head as though to shake off something.
Shizuku handed over a scrap of paper to such Fudou.
「This is, my contact address. Please contact me when you have made your preparation.」
「……I get it.」
Fudou received the paper and she directed a gaze that seemed to want to say something to Shizuku for a bit, but then she returned toward her teammates.
「Shizuku! Are you okay?」
「Onee-sama, are you safe!?」
Shizuku's friends gathered one after another and talked to her with worried voice. Event the kouhai-chan who had revived before anyone knew also rushed toward Shizuku after glaring angrily at the back of Fudou.
「I'm fine, I'm fine. That person also isn't someone that I didn't know at all.」
「But, something like a match at another day……. This is something personal right? It will be against that kind of person you know? Won't it be dangerous?」
「I thought she is a barbarian from somewhere. That was scaryyy. The saying of a face like a demon must refer to that kind of person. Shizuku, I'm telling you this for your own good, it's better to report this to the teacher or someone.」
「That's right, Onee-sama! There is no way that lump of muscles is a normal high school girl! That must be a monster wearing the skin of a high school girl! Onee-sama is going to get eaten by that!」
It appeared that everyone was scared against Fudou's pressure and threatening aura, and also her atrocious body build and face. At the same time, they also seemed to be feeling great unease with this personal match where the rule might be ignored without the supervision of any adult. It was clear that they were worrying for Shizuku from the bottom of their heart.
But, the one in question here, Shizuku was instead frowning slightly.
She was happy that they were worried for her. But, if they then deprecated Fudou's appearance and body build because of that, even if that was because of the consequence of the girl's own action, what they were saying still wasn't something that felt good to hear.
Not noticing the inside of Shizuku's heart, Shizuku's friends were getting heated up even further with their criticism toward Fudou because seen from the side, it looked like Shizuku was only getting completely dragged into this.
「……Everyone, I'm happy that you all are worried for me, but putting aside criticizing her action, saying those kind of words toward her appearance that she was born with is a bit too much.」
「Eh, ah, Shizuku……」
The friends came back to their senses suddenly when they saw Shizuku's expression that was enduring distress. Shizuku's friends knew about the personality of the busybody Shizuku who would feel other people's pain as though it was her own pain. At the same time, Shizuku's expression also vaguely looked sad seeing them speaking maliciously behind someone's back.
「Hmmm. I'll say it one more time, thank you for getting worried for me. But she――Fudou-san, just like I said just now, she isn't someone that I didn't know. I almost never talked directly with her, but she is a regular in the national tournament, and I had faced against her several times. She is definitely not a bad person.」
Shizuku said that with a wry smile, and then 「Besides……」 she continued while glancing behind across her shoulder.
「Even in the unlikely chance that she took unfair method, I'll still be fine. After all a sca~ry person is watching over me.」
It went without saying who was it that Shizuku referred to. Shizuku's friends looked at Hajime who was quietly standing behind Shizuku, and then they trembled when Hajime glanced back at them in respond. Kouhai-chan was hiding by using all the senpai as shield.
「Indeed, it will be fine if Nagumo is there, I think?」
「In a sense, it feels like the person just now is still better.」
「Onee-sama, that person, he absolutely had killed two or three people before. You should rethink about going out with――hiihn!?」
To tell the truth, Shizuku's friends were thinking 「Is it really okay going out with that kind of boyfriend」, but when they recalled the glint and aura from before that resembled a devilish homicide, they couldn't think that Hajime would be really unreliable. Rather, they imagined the end of the person who tried to lay their hand on Shizuku and even felt sympathy welling up toward such person.
On top of that, if they knew that kouhai-chan's words was actually an underestimation…….
For some reason kouhai-chan felt an intense chill in the middle of speaking and she screamed. When Shizuku's friends looked at Hajime all at once,
「What did you say, about Shizuku and me?」
「You two are really a match made in heavennn! I'm sorry, please forgive me! Don't kill me!」
Kouhai-chan was trembling like a baby deer that was only just born. Shizuku's friends were getting cold sweat seeing Hajime's faint smile.
「Hajime. Don't bully my kouhai like that.」
「I'm not bullying her. It's punishment. It's including the admonition toward her usual strange gathering and action.」
「Do it moderately please?」
Shizuku's friends thought. 'Nagumo is totally a bad news', and then 'Shizuku is a wild beast tamer'. By the way, for some reason there was a person who blushed slightly hearing Hajime saying 'punishment' with his S face though…….
For the sake of friendship, Shizuku pretended to not notice that.
After that, Shizuku's friends returned to the venue in order to participate in the remaining matches, while Shizuku and also Hajime returned to the audience seat. Shizuku's friends splendidly took the championship in the group competition.
At the closing party, Hajime read the mood and he didn't participate in it. For some reason they were all getting excited talking about Hajime which caused Shizuku to be blushing from start to end. After the closing party, Hajime expressly came to pick up Shizuku which caused Shizuku's friends to get excited again and Shizuku's face got even redder from their banter. Such things happened.
Shizuku whose hand was pulled by Hajime to go home right away then looked back to give her parting greeting to the others. Her expression while doing that caused kouhai-chan to lift the slogan「Onee-sama reign supreme, Nagumo Hajime ought to die」. That expression looked so happy, to the degree that it would make anyone else envious seeing it.
A few days later.
Slightly after school ended, at the period when the last of the students would go home, there was the figure of Shizuku wearing kendo uniform and protectors inside the kendo hall.
The students of the other clubs had mostly gone home, the people there were only kendo club members who had specially received permission and Hajime who came for being spectator.
「……so you came.」
Shizuku suddenly turned her gaze toward the entrance. The club members who were continuing their practice because it was a waste to not do anything were making a wondering expression while turning their gaze following Shizuku's gaze.
About a few seconds later, a large shadow of a person slo~wly appeared at the entrance of the dojo building. Even though the shadow appeared quietly, *Dede-de-deden! Dede-de-deden!* the BGM of Termi○tor was playing in everyone's head.
Every single fingers grasping the door of the dojo building was thick, the legs that were stretching from the skirt were burly like rock. The upper arms caused the sailor uniform to look like it would burst open anytime, the uniform looked like it was a no-sleeved clothes like what the 'hyahhaa' group living at the end of century was wearing.
And then, her expression was also…….
He must be seething with fighting spirit. The deep groove carved between her forehead, her lips that were pressed on each other to form a straight line, sharp eyes that were gleaming brutally. The shinai bag and kendo protectors case she were shouldering looked like flail and metal rod.
This situation was truly 'The fierce god's descent!'.
Several female club members spontaneously screamed「Hih」 and fell back on their butt, but it must be a bit too harsh to reprimand them that they were being impolite to the opponent.
Speaking objectively, it was something that couldn't be helped, it was clear that for normal people, ten out of ten would say that she looked terrifying.
「Excuse me. I'm Fudou Akari. I came in order to have a match against Yaegashi Shizuku.」
With a lovely voice that like before had a terrific gap with her appearance, Akari-chan gave her greeting also following the decorum. For a moment she frowned seeing the girls who fell on their butt and the male club members backing away, but her expression soon returned to before.
She focused toward one thing. Only toward Yaegashi Shizuku. She decided that everything else was but a trifle.
「Please come in, Fudou-san. Welcoming words――are unnecessary isn't it?」
「Yes, I came here to fight after all. Your preparation?」
Fudou was approaching with a pressure that made it felt like the ground was shaking with each of her brisk step. Shizuku calmly stared back at her while nodding「There is no problem」.
Fudou was guided into the changing room and she changed her clothes there, and then she sat down across Shizuku and began to put on her protectors.
「Before the match, can I ask one thing?」
Shizuku asked while wrapping a towel on her head. Fudou nodded.
「You said, that your objective is to win against me. Is that really all there is to it?」
「……What do you mean?」
「No, it's fine if this is just my misunderstanding but……. No matter how, it feels like this is not simply you purely wanting to raise your skill in kendo further above.」
Being unable to have a match against the athlete that was her objective. That athlete completely stopped doing kendo. Would she display that much of a rage just because of that…….
An athlete that was considered as rival not participating in competition or retired from the club because of some kind of circumstance wasn't that rare of a story. Many people must had harbored dissatisfaction or tasted the feeling of being off their game regarding that.
But, Shizuku thought that the intensity of the emotion that Fudou showed was hard to be explained with just that. She felt from Fudou something more, as though her important thing was stolen away, a fervent something.
The expression of the questioned Fudou warped slightly. It was unclear whether it was directed toward Shizuku, or toward herself. But for Shizuku, if she was pressed to say, it looked like it was directed toward Fudou herself.
「……A person like you who have everything won't understand, the feeling of a person doesn't have. For me, I have nothing but kendo.」
After saying only that with a faint murmur, Fudou put on her mask protector as though to hide her expression.
Shizuku stared at such Fudou for a while, but urged by the gaze of Fudou that peeked out from behind the mask, Shizuku put on her own mask.
Both of them entered the match area while the kendo club members were watching attentively. They followed the etiquette with flowing movement and with the word「Begin!」 from the club member who took the referee role as the signal, the match began.
A yell of fighting spirit that felt as though the air ruptured resounded. The club members simultaneously became paralyzed, while the window glasses were rattling for real, not just metaphor.
Fudou attempted to shake up Shizuku with fine sliding step that seemed to be flowing.
In respond Shizuku was only quietly standing still with her shinai readied in front of her. She didn't look perturbed or paralyzed at all.
Like a large tree. That was how Shizuku seemed to be like. As though to blow away the weakness that she felt for a moment inside herself, Fudou clashed her dominating aura many time over toward Shizuku. She moved the tip of her shinai with small movement, she made feint with her gaze and footwork, all in order to lure in the opponent.
Images were emerging in her mind.
She would strike the face protector.
――Her torso was hit.
From the face toward the torso.
――Her forearm was hit.
From forearm to face. Even if it was blocked she would push in……
(-, it would get, returned-)
No matter how she ran her imagination, she could only image herself getting struck back.
Didn't she give up doing kendo? Didn't she stop participating in match and everything until now? Or else, was it that even with her only doing kendo in her spare time, even with her blank period of not doing kendo, yet she was still unable to even reach toward her feet…….
(Such thing-, that's absurd-)
An indescribable emotion welled up from inside. The image of defeat.
To crush down that feeling, Fudou tried to gush out a yell of fighting spirit that would be even louder than before――
She was crushed instead by the sudden war cry running through her.
*shin*, silence fell. It was as though even the insects outside the building were holding their breath, a quiet world. Just with a roar, it was as though the world was overwritten with Shizuku's territory.
If it was just impact, then surely Fudou was above.
However, in "weight" that was hammered into the heart, Shizuku was overwhelming.
While everyone stiffened,
When Fudou noticed, in her field of vision, a shinai swinging down was……
She was able to move even faster than her mind could think must be the fruit of her everyday training.
*PASHIiiiIIN*, the sound of two shinai clashing resounded. There Fudou finally noticed that she was blocking against Shizuku's attack toward her face.
Fighting spirit that surpassed hers. A terrific step in that she couldn't even perceived. And then,
Weight that was unthinkable to be coming from Shizuku's slender body. Shizuku's pressure that was maintaining the sword-locking contest without moving into consecutive attack caused Fudou who should be superior in body build to reflexively step back.
「E, eh. That's, Shizuku right?」
「Should be, but……」
Bewildered whisper leaked out from the female club members. Shizuku's style was a "sword of finesse" that made use of variegated technique with elegant footwork and speed to the maximum, it was a common knowledge. They had never seen Shizuku bringing in the fight into a sword-locking contest by her own initiative, in addition she didn't unleashed her technique from there but instead pushing in with strength.
「Has your eyes opened I wonder?」
Hearing those words from Shizuku who was staring at her from point-blank range, Fudou noticed herself that almost got swallowed in. She clenched her teeth hard and pushed Shizuku back with a shout.
Shizuku didn't resist and gently pulled back. And then, she once again took her previous stance.
Fudou clenched her teeth grindingly seeing Shizuku's state.
「Not taking advantage from enemy but giving advice instead, you are really composed aren't you」
Fudou unconsciously let out such curse. Shizuku still only observed calmly.
「What is this match for I wonder? Right now, is not the time to exchange words.」
「-, I know that!」
The calm reply caused Fudou's face to flash red in shame and this time she fiercely assaulted.
Fudou was getting back to form her pointless exertion of strength and her mind that was shrinking back from her own image, she unleashed an unconstrained assault that was backed with weight that was unbecoming for a high school girl.
The strikes came consecutively and clear impact sounds that sounded like handclapping echoed inside the dojo building.
Against the blows that were like a storm, Shizuku sometimes dodged, sometimes, parried, sometimes blocked, and dodged more by even making use of that pressure. If Fudou's footwork was like a flowing water, then Shizuku's footwork should be called as a floating leaf dancing lightly in the air from receiving the wind.
No telling blow could land on her.
Even though normally the opponent's stamina and mental would be shaved due to the unceasing offense and overwhelming pressure, causing them to expose an opening, the one who was starting to breath roughly was Fudou instead. It was obvious even from across the mask protector. Shizuku was breathing without even the slightest disorder without even a drop of sweat.
Impatience caused Fudou's attack into something indulgent.
Shizuku smoothly stepped in.
「MEENN!」(TN: Go for explanation about yell in kendo.)
*zupaan* A sound that even felt pleasant to ear resounded. Without relaxing her alertness, Shizuku turned around toward Fudou's back and took her stance.
Fudou didn't move. That was because the hit just now was too beautiful. She could only opened her eyes wide in amazement.
It seemed that the all the other club members, the referee included were in the same state, everyone was paralyzed. They never even imagined that Shizuku who had never participated in a match even once since her return to school, far from not looking like she had no blank period, she even had become so strong to the degree that it was incomparable from before.
Strong, that word wasn't enough to describe it. In everything, what was called as the extremity was something that would make anyone felt beauty from it. This was exactly that. Shizuku's kendo already possessed "beauty" that would even made one felt moved.
「Ah, err, me, men ari one point!」
Those words made Fudou to return to her sense too.
She still looked amazed, however right after that, seeing Shizuku taking her stance while calmly facing her, her expression greatly distorted. Her expression looked as though she was facing a reality that she didn't want to recognize, as though something that was hard to accept was thrust before herself.
Fudou leaped forward. She began a fierce assault once more.
But, as expected her sword didn't reach, it was blocked, parried, and evaded with cruel calmness.
Once more, with a perfection that wouldn't allow even a single excuse, Shizuku's face strike landed. A clear impact sound echoed.
Fudou powerlessly fell on her knees. That wasn't because the strike caused a concussion or anything. It was because her heart broke. She crumbled down.
While the referee was troubled seeing Fudou who didn't look like she would carry out the etiquette for after the end of the match, Shizuku put away her shinai, took off her mask protector, and opened her mouth.
「Fudou-san. You see, this is the reason I resign from kendo club.」
Fudou slightly looked back across her shoulder. Shizuku continued.
「While I was missing, I wasn't playing around at that time. I was desperately polishing my skill in a struggle to the death. Because there was no other choice than that. Even though I stop doing kendo, but I'm still continuing the kenjutsu of my family even now. That's why, for "kendo", for the people of kendo club, my sword has become nothing more than a poison.」
「……In other words, you are saying it's because you are too strong, because no one is a match for you anymore? That I am not even worthy to be your opponent?」
「-, that's not it. I'm saying that even though it's the same path of sword, but the direction we are going toward is different. Even if you make me as your objective, it will distort your sword instead――」
Shizuku tried to find the right words somehow.
Shizuku allowed her friends in the kendo club to be present in this match too was also to divulge this reason to them who were urging her to come back to the club one way or another, but Shizuku had the self-awareness that she was saying something that also could be taken as her being haughty.
And so, even while she was talking to Fudou, a shadow of unease loomed in her expression wondering whether she would be hated by her friends.
Seeing such Shizuku, the club members were divided between people who understood what Shizuku meant, people who showed a complicated expression that didn't know of what to say, and people with eyes that got even brighter while saying 「As expected from Onee-sama!」. But, none of them showed a clear displeasure. Surely that was the result of Shizuku's personality and the friendship that she had built until now.
But, it seemed Fudou couldn't be like that.
「Why, just why-. There is only kendo for me! Even though I only have kendo! Even though I have devoted everything for it until now-. But why is it you who have everything that instead become this strong! You who easily abandon kendo-!」
「Fudou-san. What do you mean……」
Shizuku asked Fudou who was starting to leak out tears while she still hadn't taken off her mask.
「I'm envying you!! You are beautiful, stylish, and adored by everyone! On top of that, even in kendo where I have devoted my everything, you easily surpassed me! Even though you have everything that I want! And yet, and yet-, you easily abandon my important kendo for a man! Even though you abandon it, you are still stronger than me……such thing, it's just too much」
Such envious heart was thrown at Shizuku right from the front.
The body build and appearance of Fudou Akari were to the degree that it was fine to say anyone who met her for the first time would feel fear. It had been like that since she was a child. No matter how much of a girl her heart was, her outward appearance wouldn't let anyone see her as a girl.
Other people would make a complicated face, or in a terrible time they would laugh when she tried to be girly. Just by walking around, the people she passed in the way would send her a shocked expression. Even though she liked cute thing, she was ridiculed that it didn't suit her.
She already lost count how much her heart had been broken by clear malice. Just how much she had been wounded by insensitive words and deeds. How many times her heart was gouged because a boy that she liked was actually speaking ill behind her back. The heart of Fudou Akari was unmistakably a girl's heart. The world was too cruel toward such her.
What was the most painful for her, was when she saw her parents looking pained when they saw herself feeling pained. It wasn't that they didn't love her. Rather, it could even be said that they were doting on her. That was exactly why, seeing her parents getting troubled due to their troubled daughter fanned up her guilt.
Consequently, that must be why. Why she stepped into the path of kendo.
It was no use even if she kept getting troubled about her own look. In that case, she would try stepping into a world that would suit even someone like her. And then, so that she would able to approve of herself, she would become number one in that path.
She decided so.
But, she encountered her. Inside the world she stepped into, there was that girl.
「Why are you that beautiful? Why are you that strong? Why are you that loved? Even though I'm like this-, isn't this unfair!?」
It wasn't like Shizuku knew about the detail of Fudou's circumstance. But, Shizuku guessed it just from those words. The daily life that Fudou Akari had experienced until now. The bitter experiences.
Suddenly, the words that were always thrown at her in the past resurrected inside Shizuku's mind.
――Are you a girl?
Her chest tightened. Shizuku saw her past self overlapping with Fudou who was shedding tears. She was about to open her mouth following her boiling emotion.
However, before her feeling could turn into words,
「……You can just feel hurt. You should just taste the same pain like me!」
After saying such thing, Fudou whose eyes were giving glimpses of flame of envy and hatred deep inside rushed out from the dojo building without even giving anyone time to call at her to stop.
Shizuku immediately tried to chase after her, but her hand was grasped by a powerful strength and she was pulled back. When she quickly turned around, the one she found there was Hajime who had been silently watching until now.
Shizuku showed impatience and told Hajime to let go of her hand, but Hajime spoke back with a serious gaze.
「Don't worry, Shizuku.」
「I'll finish her off later. I'm not gonna lose to anyone in how to break the heart skillfully.」
It seemed that Hajime-san was planning to go and finish off the girl who was running off while crying.
「Stop that-, this demon king-!」
*zupaan* A raging shinai was launched in a straight-man attack to the face of the demon king. 「Ouch-」 Demon king-sama pitched forward while saying that.
Even the kendo club members who were dumbfounded by the chain of events also crept away, or even shuddered from Hajime's words.
Hajime stroked her own head while looking at Shizuku.
「You have calmed down a bit?」
Hajime made a wry smile toward the astonished Shizuku and he continued.
「What is someone at her wits end going to do chasing after someone else who is also at her wits end? Calm down first for now.」
「Besides, a beauty like you, no matter what you say toward someone who has complex about their own appearance, in most case it won't end well.」
If someone who didn't have confidence with their own appearance was then told 「It's fine, face doesn't matter!」 by someone who was recognized as attractive by everyone――it was guaranteed that the person would go 「You bastard, you are making fun of me huh!?」.
Strength left Shizuku's body. But, she also didn't look like she was accepting it.
「Then, are you telling me I should leave her alone because of that ? Such thing――」
「That's why, I'm telling you to calm down. What that girl is holding inside, is it something that light that words you thought up in the spot will be able to solve?」
Shizuku was at a loss for words. Hajime let go of her arm and in exchange his hand touched Shizuku's soft cheek and pinched there tenderly to calm her down.
「Isn't it better if you give her a bit of time? Like that, if that girl become shut in then you can visit her however many times you like, and if she try to do something then you can just stop her. Either way, doing it right now won't be anything good for both sides.」
The caution of Hajime who seemed to have seen through that Shizuku was shaken seeing her past self overlapping with Fudou, made Shizuku to hang her head down while nodding despondently.
「Don't make that kind of face. I'll also look out so that it won't become something that cannot be undone. That's why, you can think slowly, what kind of words you should say, and what kind of action you should take the next time you meet her. Come one, for now let's go back home for today. Go change your clothes.」
Perhaps she was feeling regretful that things didn't go well, or perhaps she was worrying of what she should do. Shizuku was totteringly vanishing into the changing room looking somewhat dejected. Hajime saw her off while making a troubled expression. As for the kendo club members, they were writhing a bit seeing the figure of down-hearted Shizuku that normally she would never show to them.
「He, hey Nagumo. You won't stop her? You are her boyfriend right?」
「Tha, that's right. It's absolutely dangerous to go meet that girl or trying to stop her when she comes to attack! That person's state wasn't normal!」
Shizuku's friends were arguing vehemently at Hajime's act that seemed to push the back of Shizuku who was trying to do something about this matter.
Fudou's state at the end was certainly uncommon. Different from when she was pushing for a match, her strange atmosphere just now looked as though a stronger negative emotion was overflowing from her. No matter who one thought about it, she looked like she was going to do something bad to Shizuku.
Normally this would be where one ought to stop from getting involved. No matter how strong Shizuku was, there was no need to allow her to purposefully head toward danger. And if Hajime was her boyfriend, he should not let her lover to get involved with this all the more, was what the girls argued about.
But, Hajime indifferently declared to them who were like that.
「Her meddlesomeness and worrying habit are hardcore one. It cannot be helped right?」
「Cannot be helped you say……isn't that too irresponsible even though you are her boyfriend?」
「It's fine. If that's what Shizuku want to do that is. If she is going to be meddlesome toward other people and she is burdened with trouble because of that, then I'll take care of her and shoulder the burden twice of that, I'll also spoil her while I'm at it. That's my role.」
The expression of the girls went *munyuu*. It was an expression as though they were forcefully fed with a terribly sweet pastry. As for the boys, their expression was half admiring, and half jealous seeming to say 'Anyway, won't Nagumo just die already' in their own way.
「Putting that aside, there is one little problem though……」
「Eh, wha, what?」
One girl asked back while stuttering a bit for some reason. Hajime scratched on his cheek awkwardly while,
「That Fudou girl, she was running out still in her kendo uniform, or rather she was still wearing all her protectors. What are we going to do with her uniform?」
When they looked at the entrance, her shoes were also left behind. In this time when the sun had already set, a huge girl wearing full set kendo equipment except the mask protector was running away with tearful face while barefooted……. It felt like a new urban legend would be whispered in the neighborhood.
「As expected Fudou won't come back herself to take back her things. Even if we want to return her things to the kendo club member at her school, it will be a problem if a male like me go there carrying girl uniform.」
「If it's Shizuku it feels like she is going to say that she want to return it herself but……from the talk just now, it will be questionable if we let Shizuku go do that.」
「Yeah. And so, oi, you kohai over there.」
Hajime's gaze locked on to kouhai-chan. Kouhai-chan reflexively jumped on the spot while giving a strange reply 「Yhess!」.
「Tomorrow morning, go deliver the uniform to Fudou's school.」
「Eh? Tomorrow morning……err, I have class normally tomorrow though?」
「Aaa? Then, you can just come here to collect the uniform first thing in the morning, go to her school, and then return here before class start. Ah, you cannot bring the uniform home okay? Just in case, what if that girl comes back here to take her things herself.」
「E, err, senpai. That person's school, is really far from here though……」
「Looks like it. And?」
「E, err, my house is also, quite far from here so, looking from the total distance it will take a lot of time……」
「I see. And?」
「……Uu. At least make it after school, is that no good?」
「Oi oi, what are you going to do if by chance Fudou doesn't have spare uniform? If you deliver it first thing in the morning, in the worst case she can change after arriving in school. But if you deliver it after school……you are a cruel fellow huh.」
「Whi, which mouth is saying thaatt」
Kouhai-chan grinded her teeth *gugigigigigi*. It was a rebellious attitude. Really inexcusable. Added with her usual mischief that was crossing the line, her attitude really wasn't good.
Hajime made a wide grin while stepping forward as though taking advantage of the gap of her consciousness and approached near, dealing an iron claw on kouhai-chan. *creak* An unpleasant sound rang……. (AN: Iron claw = a wrestling move? where you grasp the face of the opponent with one hand hard)
「Ouch-, ouch ouch ouch ouch-. Se, senpai!? My head, my head is splitt――」
「Oi, kouhai. I'm saying that if you clear this mission, I'll forgive all your mischief until now. You get any complaint?」
「Hahih, none at all! I'll work hard and complete the missionnn!」
The pitiful kouhai-chan was released, and then she crumbled down on the floor with her legs glued close to each other, that posture was as though she was a pitiful girl that encountered a violent hoodlum. In front of the kouhai-chan who was whispering「Onee-sama, is this also a trial for me?」, was Hajime-senpai who was standing imposingly without even a shred of guilt while dealing additional blow「If you fail, or if you play hooky……you understand right?」 to the downed opponent.
The gap of this with his act against Shizuku before this that was indulgent in various meanings was terrific.
While the club members were shuddering once more,
「……What are you all doing? Or rather, why is everyone not changing already?」
There, Shizuku who had finished changing clothes arrived with a dubious expression.
「No, there is nothing. ……Right?」
Hajime looked over the kendo club members with a smile.
「「「「Yes! There is nothing at all!」」」」
The hearts of the kendo club members were as one. They couldn't go against Yaegashi Shizuku's boyfriend.
Shizuku seemed to guess what happened somehow and she sent an exasperated gaze at Hajime while also making apologetic expression at the club members at the same time, but before she could say anything, 「Now, we are going home」 her hand was pulled by Hajime and she was taken away.
At the entrance, Shizuku looked back and somehow said only「See you all tomorrow!」 before fading out.
Inside the dojo building that became silent,
「Uu, how dare you do that to a girl's face. Is this grudge, ought to be left uncleared like this-」
There, the grudge of kouhai-chan who didn't learn her lesson echoed.
AN: Thank you very much for reading this every time.
Thank you very much too for the thoughts, opinions, and reports about misspelling and omitted words.
Shizuku arc will continue for a little bit more.
By the way, the scene where Shizuku returned a yell of fighting spirit, I imagined the awesome scene of Tama-chan of Bamboo Blade for that. Atomi○ Fire Blade……Shirakome was trembling in various senses.
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