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Kyoukai no Kanata - Chapter 2, part 2 [English]

nakulas Sep 4th, 2013 4,255 Never
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  1. *** Visit <http://nakulas.blogspot.com/2013/04/kyoukai-no-kanata-volume-1-progress.html> for more information.
  3. The door to the literature club room was locked. Meaning, Mitsuki wasn't having lunch in there. Of course, when Hiro'omi suggested that we go to the club room, I should have known that would be the case.
  5. I unlocked the door and walked in. After I flipped the lights on, Hiro'omi followed behind me. I set my lunch bag on the table and took a pouch of oolong tea from it. With my tea in hand, I sat down and started sipping it. It drenched my parched throat with moisture.
  7. I happened to glance up, whereupon I noticed Hiro'omi drawing a quadrangle in mid-air. Right away, I felt a strange pressure against my chest. I felt like I was trapped in a metal box, one whose seams were immaculately welded. I also felt somehow disconnected, as if I had been immaculately separated from the outside world. That was one aspect of the xenomachics of the Nase dynasty. Using a mysterious sort of power, they could control space itself. That ability allowed them to construct invisible interpose barriers.
  9. "Did you put up a barrier?"
  11. "I told you to stop calling them that. I create cages, not barriers."
  13. Apparently, extraordinarily strong interpose barriers - ones that weren't even in the same league as ordinary barriers - were referred to as cages. Not that I, a half-dreamghast, was particularly interested in the finer points of xenor jargon. When he was done doing what he was doing, he sat down in Mitsuki's chair.
  15. "Alright, Akky, tell me everything you've learned so far. No sense in wasting time on things you already know. I'll tell you what I know after that."
  17. "There's this thing called a 'lull' during which dreamghasts become weaker. A lot of xenors are coming here, in hopes of slaying a jumbo dreamghast during the lull. That's all I know."
  19. "I see. Seems like you get the big picture," he replied, convinced.
  21. He crossed his arms. I guess Ayaka was right, at least for the most part. I had just one more question for him.
  23. "Do you know a girl named Mirai Kuriyama?"
  25. "Mirai Kuriyama?"
  27. Hiro'omi repeated her name back to me, as if to ask "_who_?". I wasn't expecting that. It's weird, though. Why wouldn't Hiro'omi be aware of a xenor in the area if Mitsuki was?
  29. "Don't play dumb," I pressed.
  31. I didn't hide my irritation. We had reached an impasse.
  33. It was silent, save for the ticking of the clock's second hand.
  35. "Fine. I'll admit it."
  37. Hiro'omi paused for a little while and then sighed loudly. A second later, his face took on a stern expression.
  39. "I have literally no idea who she is."
  41. "But even Mitsuki knew about her."
  43. "Did you consider _why_ Mitsuki would know about her?"
  45. "Huh?"
  47. "Truth be told, the Nase group has been dealing with some treacherous factions. We - me and the rest of the directorate, that is - we've had our hands full tracking down the groups they're affiliated with. It's gotten particularly bad lately. All those bloody xenors coming here looking for a jumbo dreamghast are basically functioning as camouflage for them. In short, this is an emergency for the Nase."
  49. "So Mitsuki wasn't involved in your damage control efforts, meaning that she was left to take care of the regular day-to-day business, and _that's_ why she knew about Kuriyama?"
  51. "More or less. We're certainly concerned about intruders from elsewhere, but we have the junior members handle the details. As for people who we've deemed merit special attention, though, I'm aware of all of them. The fact that this 'Kuriyama' person's name hasn't come to my attention means that she must not be involved in any treacherous activities at this time."
  53. I had completely misread the situation. All this time I had spent with Hiro'omi was for nothing. How unpleasant. My next objective was to get this useless xenor out of the club room as fast as possible. I didn't want to spend another unpleasant second with him.
  55. "Well, I suppose I can't get anything more out of you," I said, hoping to bring the conversation to a swift close.
  57. "Don't jump to conclusions just yet, Akky. I can't help but take a personal interest in her, seeing as she seems to have motivated you to go snooping around. Mirai Kuriyama, was it? Talk to me about her. Some good might come of it."
  59. There was no way Hiro'omi would back off after saying that. Plus, I started the conversation, so I'd feel kind of guilty about backing out now. I resigned myself to recapping the situation for Hiro'omi. I told him about the day I met her, and about the nature of her xenomachics.
  61. "A lineage that has mastery over blood, huh," he mumbled, leaning back in his chair.
  63. There was an element of critique in the way he said that. Ordinarily, I wouldn't want to ask him any more about the matter, but this time, I couldn't afford to stand by and be a mere observer. I looked at him with a displeased expression on my face.
  65. "What do you know about that?"
  67. "I don't know anything about the genealogy of the Kuriyama lineage, much less anything about Mirai Kuriyama in particular. But... I _do_ know that lineages that deal in blood have been considered evil since time immemorial."
  69. "That's crazy!"
  71. I slapped my hands on the desk and stood up. There was a look of... anxiety, perhaps, in Hiro'omi's eyes.
  73. "Akky, you should know better than anyone else about that sort of thing... about facing absurd tyranny and irrational treatment," he continued.
  75. Hiro'omi's words made me acutely aware of my naivete. Kuriyama was alone not because of her xenomachics. No, there was a much more deeply-rooted basis for it: she had faced pain of such enormity that it should have broken her. She was never able to fit in with ordinary people. On top of that, she had to spend her life continually dealing with malice.
  77. She was just like me.
  79. "So, what brings her here?"
  81. I had initially planned to ask Hiro'omi the very same question. That's what I get for leaving my comfort zone. This is worse than being comic relief. I wanted to understand her; I convinced myself I could help her; and in the end, it turned out that I didn't get her at all.
  83. I sighed and sat back down. I wasn't getting anywhere with this. No point in spinning my wheels any longer.
  85. "That's exactly what I wanted to ask you."
  87. "Why do you think I'd know? And besides, couldn't you just ask her yourself?"
  89. That was an obvious response. If I could have asked her, I would have.
  91. "Well, she's kind of a weird girl. She won't tell me why she's here. The thing is, it doesn't seem like she has any ulterior motives, and it doesn't seem like she's working with any other xenors, either. That's why I wanted to see what your group knew about it."
  93. "Huh?"
  95. God, he sounded stupid. Alas, I _did_ see why he felt that way.
  97. "Did you ever think that she might be lying? I mean, I know you, Akky. You'd never abandon a girl with big boobs who was having a difficult life."
  99. "Halt! Yeah, sure, I'd never abandon a girl who was having a difficult life. The 'big boobs' part, however, is a scurrilous lie. When it comes to girls, what matters most to me is whether or not they look good in glasses. If a girl doesn't look good in glasses, her boobs are of no concern to me."
  101. "So... Mirai Kuriyama looks good in glasses?"
  103. "Naturally," I replied, decisively.
  105. Hiro'omi looked at me as if I was a piece of trash laying on the side of the road. Both he and his sister were impressively unimpressed with my tastes. In the world of fiction, tsunderes and lolicons can pass without a second glance, whereas I, with my love for girls who wear glasses, am treated with such blatant disgust. Reality is too cruel.
  107. "You know, Akky, under normal circumstances, I'd be willing to entertain your bizarrely intense fetishes. But these aren't normal circumstances, so I'm really not going to have the energy to deal with that side of you. Like I said, we're in a state of emergency."
  109. "You're in love with your sister, Hiro'omi. I don't think you're in a position to criticize me."
  111. "My love is pure and consistent. Not that I expect a glasses fetishist like you to understand."
  113. "Do you honestly think that I - of all people - have never made Mitsuki wear glasses?"
  115. "...you're shitting me."
  117. Hiro'omi was the spitting image of shock. The corners of my lips turned upwards, forming a positively sinister smirk.
  119. "I had her wear a pair one time when we were alone in the club room. Ah, sorry, I misspoke. It wasn't just _one_ pair. No, not at all. She resisted at first, but somewhere along the way, it looked like she was really liking it. Heh heh. Don't sell me short, Hiro'omi. Behold the power of a man who is always equipped with no fewer than twenty pairs of glasses."
  121. "Akky, you son of a bitch, keep your hands off my little sister!"
  123. After that, we spent quite a while insulting one another's fetishes. We set aside our original topics of discussion - the lull and the anti-Nase factions - and threw vulgarities at each other, typically of the form "Oh yeah? Well _you're_ a...". It would've been hard to get back on topic - harder than negotiating a desert trail or a subtropical rainforest path.
  125. I'm not sure how long we spent at it.
  127. "Ahoy, perverts - do you realize that you're defiling the literature club room?"
  129. When we heard that voice, Hiro'omi and I both returned to our senses. On reflex, I glanced at the wall clock. It was already half past three. Classes were already out. It looked like we were so busy chewing each other out that we lost track of time. We didn't even get around to eating lunch. I managed to put on a composed facade as I looked over at Hiro'omi.
  131. "It seems that we got a little too into it," announced Hiro'omi.
  133. "Who would've thought that we could spend two hours discussing the aesthetics of manliness? Well, it just goes to show - time that would otherwise be wasted can be put to good use like this," I replied.
  135. "That didn't sound like a good use of time to me."
  137. And with that, Mitsuki invalidated hours of debate. She didn't even give us time to rebut her.
  139. "Also, you freak, don't you think you ought to get around to dispelling your cage?"
  141. "Mitsuki, how many times do I have to tell you to call me 'brother dearest'?"
  143. "Oh please, brother dearest, dispel the damned cage already."
  145. I didn't expect her to be that willing to address him that way. The biting tone in her voice notwithstanding, anyway. Hiro'omi shuddered, presumably because he felt that his life was in peril, as he karate-chopped the air. Presumably, that dispelled the cage. I was freed from the immense pressure that had enwrapped the room.
  147. "Let's get to work."
  149. And so, we set about working on literature club-related matters.
  151. Mitsuki picked up where she left off yesterday with selecting stories for the commemorative issue of "Lady of the Night". There was a stack of papers set in front of Hiro'omi, too. To be honest, though, when it came to selecting good stories, he was kind of like a metal detector that couldn't detect metal. I would have to go through and recheck all of his work afterwards.
  153. "I don't mind selecting some stories. Pass me all the stories that are about little sisters, or little stepsisters, or that just have little sisters in them at all. If you have any stories that only feature little sisters, those'd be best."
  155. "Dammit, Hiro'omi!," I shot back at the speed of light, "We don't have any of those!"
  157. Mitsuki fluidly mouthed two syllables. Hiro'omi attempted to read her lips.
  159. "'Love you'?" he posited. This was, of course, the outcome that was most favorable to him.
  161. "That was obviously 'go die'."
  163. I told him the truth. You shouldn't hide from reality.
  165. Mitsuki kept on sorting through the stories at hand, paying no attention to either of our interpretations. She rejected him as best as she could, and then ignored him. But, well, this was nothing out of the ordinary, so I didn't really care. Our fine club president wasn't quite Lady Liberty; just a liberal lady.
  167. We were in the midst of wasting our time on this, when we heard an unexpected knock on the club door. Mitsuki looked surprised for a brief moment. Students were free to try out clubs in early April. Now that we were in the third week of the month, though, the number of prospects visiting us had dropped precipitously. Hence, Mitsuki's surprise.
  169. I discreetly approached the door, to ensure that our visitor didn't run away, and then opened it. As I expected, it was Kuriyama. To be more precise, it was a freshman girl standing there, looking rather apprehensive. Maybe she thought that I was going to be the only one there, or maybe she was taken aback by the sight of us all sitting there, surrounded by mountains of papers, looking like death.
  171. For starters, I dragged her into the room.
  173. "This is Mirai Kuriyama. She's going to join our club," I declared.
  175. Mitsuki, Hiro'omi, and Kuriyama were all stunned, each in their own way. It behooved me to get them agree before they recovered from the shock. I began laying out all the advantages of letting Kuriyama join.
  177. "Mitsuki, I'm sure you'd enjoy having more people to work on the magazine? Her dynamic visual acuity looks pretty impressive - once she gets used to the work, she'll definitely be better at it than me."
  179. "......"
  181. Mitsuki glared at me, not saying a word. By not saying anything, she was basically surrendering the right to decide to me, right? Ordinarily, the approval of the club president would suffice, but given the weird state our club was in, I couldn't afford not to get a bit of support for my position.
  183. "Hiro'omi."
  185. I pushed Kuriyama forward, positioning her so that she was clearly visible, from head to toe. Then, I set about convincing Hiro'omi, who seemed rather unenthused.
  187. "Behold: poofy hair; an innocent face; a chest with a hint of childhood remaining; pure thighs; and, above all, a small, delicate build. Is she not the spitting image of a little sister?"
  189. Hiro'omi looked her over in wonderment.
  191. "You know, Akky, the way you approach everything from a glasses-loving point of view distracted me. Now that you mention it, I must confess that I'm surprised - I didn't know we had an underclassman who was _this_ well-equipped with little sister qualities."
  193. "I must confess that I'm surprised, too - I didn't know that you'd go so far as to reveal all your fetishes to a girl you were meeting for the first time. And without a moment's hesitation, too."
  195. Anyway.
  197. "So, what do you want to do?" I asked, hoping for a final confirmation from her.
  199. "I wasn't planning on..."
  201. But then, the sole asset of the literature club - our bookcases - caught her eye. It looked like she wanted one of the books she saw last time she was here. I can't say I'm proud of what I did next. It just seemed to me that it was just what I needed to throw her off balance.
  203. "Are you looking for a particular book?"
  205. "......"
  207. "It's not like we're going to force you to join if you say yes. Just speak your mind."
  209. Kuriyama scurried over to the bookshelf and grabbed a book off the shelf. The cover read "Gardening" something something. So basically, it was some sort of horticultural manual.
  211. "Whose is this?"
  213. "These books originally belonged to former club members and advisors. Unlike the school library, we can't lend to you just because you're a student here. If you were a club member, on the other-"
  215. "I'll join!"
  217. "Already!? Mercury isn't even that mercurial! But anyway, Kuriyama, you're into gardening?"
  219. "Sort of, I guess."
  221. She lovingly clutched the book to her chest, showing no signs of letting go. She must've really loved gardening. She treated the book the same way I would treat a pair of glasses - with great care.
  223. "Well, why don't you introduce yourself for starters?"
  225. "Um... hi... I'm... Mirai Kuriyama."
  227. Kuriyama bowed hastily. Time for me to intercede.
  229. "This is our club's president, Mitsuki Nase. Further in the back is Hiro'omi Nase, third year and perennial absentee. Technically, we have another two members, but they're never here. They uphold the title of 'perennial absentee' well, as you can see from their absence today."
  231. I was trying to create a welcoming atmosphere, but for some reason, Mitsuki and Hiro'omi weren't playing along. And they usually overreact to everything I do, too, the scoundrels. Well, nothing to do but keep things moving along.
  233. "Go ahead and grab a seat anywhere."
  235. Begin with an unimposing suggestion. Kuriyama acceded, silently. She timidly shuffled over to the table and set down next to Mitsuki. Everybody seemed to be on their guard. But hey, at least she didn't leave right away. That counts for something.
  237. "So you're Mirai, huh?" bufooned Hiro'omi. "Akky told me about you."
  239. He gazed across the table at Kuriyama. The way he looked at her was obscene, as if he was appraising a piece of art. It infuriated me. Well, I mean, the very fact that he existed was aggravating, to begin with. If he scared her off and negated all of my hard work, I'd have to give him the old one-two.
  241. Hiro'omi wasn't quiet for long before he started to speak again.
  243. "Those red-rimmed glasses _do_ look quite good on you."
  245. "I knew you had it in you, Hiro'omi!" I whooped.
  247. I walked over to the desk at which the three of them were seated. With our tongues wagging, we got to talking about this and that. Of course, by "this," I mean "glasses," and by "that," I mean "how alluring they are". Glasses enhance a girl's cuteness. Glasses are proof of a working woman's intellect. Consider now the common nickname "four-eyes", often bestowed upon young children. That nickname is an absurdity. A far more appropriate nickname would be "two-lenses". Alas, when I began to raise this crucial issue, Mitsuki told me to shut up.
  249. "How about you put all that verve into these stories?"
  251. "That's impossible. Glasses have absolutely nothing to do with selecting stories."
  253. My view on the matter made absolutely perfect sense. I always tried to be earnest when it came to glasses.
  255. "Now that we've got a new member, why don't we take a break and throw a welcoming party?"
  257. "Brilliant, Hiro'omi! I'd never expect such a good idea from you!"
  259. He got out of his chair and stood next to me. Mitsuki and Kuriyama remained seated as they looked at us. Suddenly, I felt an ominous twinge. Alas, it was already too late.
  261. "Hiro'omi?"
  263. "A welcoming party isn't a party without the old classic."
  265. Hiro'omi grabbed my arms from behind and lifted them up, exposing my armpits. He didn't look particularly muscular, but damn if he didn't have a vicegrip on my arms. I couldn't move him no matter how much I struggled. Mitsuki shrunk back.
  267. "Well, what are you trying to do?"
  269. "Akky's armpits are great. Stick your hands in there - you'll feel better."
  271. "That's just you!"
  273. "Don't be silly, Akky."
  275. "I'll pass. I would rather not dirty my hands."
  277. That was pretty mean. Though, if you think about it, it's also perfectly true. There couldn't possibly be any girls that would want to put their hands in a guy's armpits. Kuriyama, however, must not have received the memo. With a goofy look on her face, she stood up.
  279. "No, don't do it!"
  281. "Come along, Mirai, right this way."
  283. She careened towards my armpits like a butterfly drawn to the scent of nectar.
  285. "Kuriyama, control yourself! This is when you should bust out your 'this is unpleasant'!"
  287. "This is unpleasant."
  289. "No no no, not _now_!"
  291. She drifted closer and closer to me. I heard an ominous voice from behind me.
  293. "It's not like you've got anything to lose."
  295. "Yes, I do! She's going to rob me of my masculinity! I can feel it in my bones!"
  297. "Yeah, yeah, I get it. Just stop squirming. Stay still and it'll be over just like that>"
  299. "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!"
  301. And then.
  303. "Ooh~" said Kuriyama, in a rather cute voice.
  305. Mitsuki had snuck up behind Kuriyama and stuck her arms in Kuriyama's armpits. So, to summarize: in the literature club room, a third-year guy was pinning the arms of a second-year guy, while a second-year girl had her hands in a first-year girl's armpits. It was surreal. Thanks to that, I managed to hang on to my masculinity. I was left with this vague lingering feeling, though. I wonder why.
  307. "Beautifully laid out, isn't it, Akky?" he whispered into my ear.
  309. He just wouldn't let go of my arms.
  311. "I'd want to put my hands in the armpits of a glasses-wearing girl, I'll grant."
  313. "Er, I was talking about how those two cute little sisters are fooling around."
  315. "Nothing about Mitsuki is remotely little sister-ish!"
  317. "Real little sisters insult their brothers like their lives depend on it. Pure, doting little sisters are a mere fantasy of people who don't have sisters."
  319. "......"
  321. I couldn't help but respect the bastard for being realistic about it.
  323. "Kuriyama, don't listen to those two," warned Mitsuki.
  325. She put both her hands on Kuriyama's head. I recognized that beautiful sight for what it was. To put it tastefully, they were an elegant pair of Sapphic sisters. It seemed like the elder-sister-analogue among them had come up with an idea.
  327. "Kuriyama, could I ask you to stand over there?" she asked of the younger-sister-analogue.
  329. Kuriyama moved over as requested, albeit she looked a bit annoyed as she did. Given that Hiro'omi was still holding me in place, I couldn't do anything but watch. Mitsuki looked at every nook and cranny of Kuriyama's body, examining her from head to toe as if she were conducting an inspection.
  331. "A quiet, small-built, flat-chested girl who wears glasses.... Yup, she seems like the sort of girl who'd be popular among dull boys who can't even tell a girl how they feel," she remarked, crossing her arms.
  333. She struck a chord, far harder than I thought was possible. I got a tremendously bad feeling about all this. Out of necessity, I tried to head her off at the pass.
  335. "Mitsuki, what's on your mind?"
  337. "As her senior, I kind of feel like helping her make a good impression in high school. Luckily for her, she has a cute, girlish face. If I coordinate her hairstyle and her dresses right, I think I'll be able to reveal her hidden potential."
  339. As an adolescent male, my fantasies couldn't help but run wild. I'd be lying if I claimed I didn't want to see how she could make an unfashionable girl transform. Thing is, it was Kuriyama's choice whether or not to take her up on the offer. Honestly, all this talk about making a good impression, coming from a girl she'd only just met, was probably not much to her liking.
  341. "What do you say, Kuriyama?" I asked, as gently as I could.
  343. I'd love for her to try it out, but I couldn't force her to do anything. She seemed pretty shook up as she tried to figure out how to reply. She looked kind of like a small newborn animal. Like, I couldn't imagine that she was the same person who tried to stab me to death.
  345. "D-d-d-d-don't try to be f-fredly with me," she stammered.
  347. That was the best fight she could put up. Maybe she wasn't accustomed to being surrounded by so many people.
  349. "You needn't be so nervous. Those two boys tangled up there are just weirdos, and I'm quite large-hearted when it comes to anyone besides them."
  351. Surprisingly, it was Mitsuki that managed to stop Kuriyama, right when she seemed ready to go running off into the distance. I approved of her effort. As for what she actually said - no comment. Hiro'omi and I exchanged glasses and resolved to watch as things unfolded.
  353. "Leave it all to me."
  355. Mitsuki smiled warmly. Kuriyama bent her head at an angle. It wasn't clear whether that angle corresponded to agreement or refusal. Of course, Mitsuki interpreted that how she liked it.
  357. "Well then, let's get to work."
  359. Mitsuki spent a while surveying her from the front and from behind. The fervor with which Mitsuki looked at her made _me_ nervous. After a little while, Mitsuki crossed her arms.
  361. "Why don't you start by taking off your glasses?" she proposed.
  363. "Hmm. Start by taking off- nonono, stop! Glasses are sacrosanct! Man must never interfere with them!"
  365. Nary could I stand idly by and allow that devil to inflict such cruel torture upon us.
  367. "Akky, have a bit of faith in Mitsuki," Hiro'omi interjected, shrugging his shoulders.
  369. "No. I refuse to budge on this issue. A girl without glasses is like a strawberry shortcake without a strawberry!"
  371. "I don't follow. It all comes down to whether or not she's related to you, right?"
  373. "Who gives a rat's tail about that!?"
  375. It was strange that that was what made us resume our quarrel on the topic of manliness. I was on edge again. There was danger in the air.
  377. "Could you finish up that disgusting conversation sometime?" said Mitsuki, as if to clear the air. "If I were in Kuriyama's position, I'd be crying tears of fright by now."
  379. Kuriyama was showing signs of wanting to leave. Mitsuki hugged her close to keep her there. I wasn't sure how Kuriyama felt about that, but eh, whatever. They were still a sight for sore eyes. Something felt off about the way Mitsuki was behaving, though I wasn't sure why.
  381. "Could you not give me that dumb look? I'm not indiscriminately cruel, you know. Not when the situation doesn't call for it. You need to learn a bit about the way women think, Akihito."
  383. "......"
  385. I didn't know what to say in response. Mitsuki, seeing my consternation, smiled broadly.
  387. "I've been preparing for the day when I join the Nase directorate by seeing how much cruelty I can manage to heap on you. That's all."
  389. "That's not how women think!"
  391. Well, whatever. It was a good thing that Mitsuki was siding with Kuriyama. Given what she said the other day, I was expecting Kuriyama to outright refuse to join. The club room was back to being a nice, friendly place once again. Hiro'omi looked grumpy, but that was just him.
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