- *** Visit <http://nakulas.blogspot.com/2013/04/kyoukai-no-kanata-volume-1-progress.html> for more information.
- Thursday, April 12th - lunch break.
- My destination: the cafeteria. I buy my lunch from the cafeteria and eat there fairly often, so it wasn't a particularly novel experience.
- Perhaps our school was capitalizing on the fact that we weren't in a particularly urbanized area. Though our school cafeteria was by no means huge, it was certainly sufficient for our needs. With every step you take towards the cafeteria, the dull roar of lively chatter gets louder and louder. It was a vigorous place and at the same time a gentle one. There, underclassmen and upperclassmen alike dined under one together. I grabbed one of the trays from near the entrance and walked past the bread-and-side-dishes corner. In the back, there was a window where you could order rice bowls and noodles---you tell them what you want, and they'll whip something up just for you. At the very end of the line, there were four registers, where they'd price out the items on your tray and ring you up.
- As I stood by the noodle-ordering window, I spotted a girl who looked wonderful in glasses. It looked like she had already ordered: steam was rising from the kitsune-udon on her tray. When I saw her there, blending into the crowd, I couldn't see her as anything but a delicate girl. Of course, I often tended to overlook that, given the unsettling encounters she and I usually had. I would've felt weird if I had pretended not to know her, so I figured I ought to say hi.
- With my tray in hand, I smiled at Kuriyama when she turned to face me. All of a sudden, she seemed to be in a hurry. She seemed to have noticed that the tray she was holding was occupying both her hands, thus preventing her from attacking me... or something like that. Her bowl of udon tilted a bit, and the broth started to slosh around. Luckily for me, there were students lined up at the window after her, thus depriving her of a place to set her tray down. She was trembling as she glanced around frantically. With a deep sigh, I called out to her.
- "Want me to hold that?"
- "Th-thank you very much."
- I politely took the tray off her hands. Kuriyama clenched her fists and adopted a fighting stance. In my hand, though, I held her tray, atop which was the kitsune-udon she had not yet paid for. She was obviously troubled by this state of affairs. She looked up at me with a bitter look in her eyes, like she was cursing me. You should be thanking me, not cursing me, dammit.
- "...(I can't attack him)..."
- "...(Oh, that wretched kitsune-udon)..."
- Even if she didn't say that out loud, I knew what she was thinking. After a few seconds, bit her lip vexedly and dashed off like a hare.
- "Wait, wait, wait! Whaddaya want me to do with this kitsune-udon!?"
- Alas, my voice did not reach her. Well, in a situation like this, there's just one thing to say.
- "Frickin' metal slime. ...Well, I guess I'm having kitsune-udon for lunch."
- I paid for the udon and left the queue. There were a number of long tables repurposed to function as bar-style seats, as well as some two- and four-person booths. I quickly surveyed the cafeteria, and spotted the person I was looking for in one of the four-person booths.
- "What's the occasion, Akihito? We don't usually meet in the cafeteria."
- "It sounds like you're implying that I usually spend my lunch break holed up in the club room."
- "Isn't that the case?"
- I sat down across from Mitsuki. She had a plate of spaghetti aglio e olio and a salad on her tray. Apparently bust size isn't directly proportional to caloric intake. She looked at me glumly.
- "I get it. I won't deny it. My life is pathetic. I don't have anyone to tyrannize save for you, O eater-of-lunch-on-the-toilet Akihito."
- "Stop right there! The most pathetic person there is me! And what the hell kind of epithet is 'eater-of-lunch-on-the-toilet'! I've never been greeted with such condescension before!"
- "'Before'? It almost sounds like you have friends."
- Yup. She's a demon. She's looks like an ordinary black-haired girl, but she's a demon.
- "...Aren't we friends, Mitsuki?"
- "I'm sorry, what was that? Please speak up a bit."
- "Aren't we friends, Mitsuki!?"
- "Calm down, Akihito. Control yourself. Loud conversations are frowned upon in the cafeteria."
- I looked around. Everybody else was engrossed in their own conversations. It didn't look like we had attracted any attention; nonetheless, I probably should have been a bit quieter than I would be if we were in the club room. Wait. That was an awfully awkward question she had me yell. And she isn't even going to answer it?
- "If you aren't sure whether or not you're friends with someone, doesn't that in and of itself mean that you aren't really friends with them? Accordingly, I ought to have a billion friends."
- The first part made sense. The second part did not.
- "Well, when it comes to friends, quality over quantity, I say."
- "That's a go-to phrase among people who lack friends."
- "The S. S. Akihito just sent out its lifeboats! Don't sink those, too! Anyway, that's enough of that."
- "Sure. We're just hurting one another."
- "So it was premeditated!?"
- She's a real handful. I bet she had a double-edged sword on her. I took a sip of water and sprinkled a blend of seven delicious herbs and spices on my udon. Stale noodles are no fun to eat, after all.
- "Akihito," said Mitsuki, bringing me out of my reverie.
- "I hate to break it to you, but that's a bottle of black pepper, despite what the label says."
- "Dang, you're right."
- The tofu in my udon was covered with black specks. No big deal, though.
- "Well, people eat black-pepper udon, too."
- I mixed in the black pepper with my chopsticks and lifted the bowl to my mouth. I slurped at the broth. It tasted good---not too peppery. In running into Kuriyama, I think I might have discovered my new favorite food.
- "Oh my. You're wiser than you seem, Akihito. I was fully expecting some buffoon to come up with something crude like 'Woah! There's black pepper in the spice blend bottle! This must be the handiwork of that darned Mitsuki!'."
- "You were definitely imagining me as that 'buffoon', weren't you."
- "Well, it doesn't really matter either way."
- Mitsuki dismissed my accusation like Galileo dismissed heliocentrism. This always happens, though, so I didn't really care. I slurped at my black-pepper kitsune-udon as I waited for her to get around to the main point. I assumed there must have been a reason for her to want to talk to me in the noisy cafeteria. Presumably, it was something that she couldn't tell me in the club room.
- "I have something to attend to after school, so I'll be skipping club today."
- I froze, with a piece of tofu in my chopsticks. It was obvious why she was skipping. After all, just yesterday, she had told me about the influx of xenors to this area. And on top of that, Kuriyama was one of those xenors. All things considered, it was no surprise she couldn't rest easy.
- "Is it related to the thing we talked about yesterday?
- "I suppose so. Please do keep working through the old stories, Akihito."
- "Are you sure there isn't something you want to tell me?"
- "Didn't I _just_ tell you?"
- With a dubious look on her face, Mitsuki twirled her fork in her spaghetti. Once she had deftly spun enough spaghetti onto her fork, she lifted it up to her mouth. That's the same way anyone would eat, but there was a certain elegance to the way she did it. I pressed on, hoping to continue our conversation.
- "Surely you didn't ask me to have lunch with you here just to tell me you wouldn't be there after school?"
- "I don't think highly of your prying inquiries. You're right, though. I have something to tell you."
- Her expression suddenly changed. The rest of the cafeteria was lively as ever, but the booth we were sitting at felt somewhat out-of-sorts.
- "Starting now, I'm just thinking out loud."
- "Could you not interject when I'm thinking out loud?"
- "Well? What do you have to say?"
- Pick one, dammit.
- "Got it."
- "I mentioned how there were a number of xenors traveling here, right? There's a clear oversupply relative to the current need for xenors. It isn't normal for this many of them to come here at once."
- I thought hard as I ate my black-pepper kitsune-udon. She must have gone with that elaborate preface to give her time to prepare to say whatever she was going to say next. Or, maybe she was just outlining what she was going to say. There could be only one explanation for what she had said.
- "You shouldn't stick your nose into these things, Akihito."
Kyoukai no Kanata - Chapter 1, part 3 [English]
nakulas Jun 18th, 2013 4,744 Never
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