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- Friday, April 13th - lunch break.
- I would have made a beeline for the club room, but I had some business to attend to first. Much as I didn't want to, I headed for the rooftop. Allow me to digress for a bit. Since rooftop scenes are a nigh-indispensable fixture of school-life novels, there surely must be some authors who absolutely refuse to include rooftop scenes in their novels. If you think about it the right way, that seems to indicate that the rooftop holds a certain allure to it - you can't help but want to put a scene there. Twiddle-twaddle, but that's what came to my mind as I climbed the stairs to the roof.
- Moving on.
- The roof was, in theory, off-limits, with the door to it held shut by a multi-dial lock, but the unlock sequence was apparently known to some of the seniors, and knowledge of the sequence had spread from there. It appeared that somebody was already on the roof - the lock dangled from the door in an unlocked state. There was a risk that somebody would re-lock the door, but if that were to happen, the school administrators would likely do more administrating, and I couldn't imagine that any students would want that.
- This being the case, I broke the rules and stepped onto the roof in order to meet a certain someone. If not for the extraordinary circumstances I found myself in, I couldn't have been bothered to meet him. Let me now make one thing clear. No matter how strong a sense of morality and justice I may have, I'm fundamentally the sort of person who doesn't like trouble. My visiting him may well have been a calculated attempt to strike the first blow. What a pain. As I questioned and questioned the wisdom of my actions, I caught my target out of the corner of my eye.
- It was mid-April, and yet he had a fancy scarf wrapped around his neck as he lay sprawled at one end of the roof. I steeled myself and called his name.
- "That's _Mister_ Hiro'omi to you," he replied, raising his upper body.
- He was in his last year, and as such, stood atop the student body. He looked at me. I did not want to look at him. But I had a message to deliver, and deliver it I would.
- Nase Hiro'omi, sprucely as ever. I'm under no obligation to describe the finer details of Hiro'omi's physique, however, so I'll stop there. The truth is a harsh mistress, especially with respect to Hiro'omi. As you might be able to surmise from his surname, the truth is that he is, unfortunately, Mitsuki's elder brother. Lady Luck, you cruel woman.
- "Don't you have entrance exams to study for? Shouldn't you be doing something besides snoozing up here?"
- "Xenors have no need for academia. Besides, there's a ton of places that'd accept me on recommendation alone."
- Yeah, maybe so, but that's not my point. Whatever. I didn't come here to disdain Hiro'omi. Not this time, anyway. Best not to sweat the small stuff and gloss over the big stuff.
- "I've got a question for you," I said, stating my business.
- "I figured. That's about the only reason you'd pay me a visit, Akky."
- "Yeah, and you wanna know why that's how it is?"
- "Why? Because xenors and dreamghasts are polar opposites," he brusquely replied.
- "Wrong!" I countered, raising my voice. "It's because you gave me that stupid washed-up nickname!"
- "Akky, you naughty little boy. Under the pleasant warmth of the early-afternoon sun, most people would be overcome with drowsiness. You're the only guy who would be chipper enough to deliver all those witty comebacks at a time like this. I sure couldn't manage that."
- "We've just been talking for 30 seconds and I'm already regretting being here. Give me my lost time back!"
- "Ah, looks like we got off track there."
- Hiro'omi clapped his hands together and sighed laboriously.
- "Let me guess. You want to stick your nose somewhere it doesn't belong."
- "What if I am?"
- There was no need for me to conceal my motives from him, but I responded ambiguously anyway, so as to irritate him. Hiro'omi stood up tiredly. He didn't _look_ fit. You wouldn't think that he'd fare well in combat. But I knew better than anyone just how excellent a xenor he was. Our eyes met.
- "I won't lay a hand on you," he said pointedly, mussing his bangs. "In return, you won't ally with anyone."
- I'd never forget those words.
- A xenor and a half-dreamghast met in pitched battle. Equivalently, Hiro'omi and I met for the first time. Not even the most powerful xenor could hope to defeat an immortal like me. We fought for a long, long time. Our battle eventually ended in a ceasefire of indeterminate length - an ambiguous denouement. At that time, we came to an agreement, the contents of which Hiro'omi had just mentioned.
- "_Man_, it's cold. My limbs are freezing."
- Hiro'omi breathed warm air on his hands. That was just a distraction, though.
- "We've gotten along fine so far, haven't we?" he asked, moving in for the kill.
- I had no reply. He was implying that we ought to be able to get along fine from here on out, too.
- "We never put an expiry date on our agreement, did we?" asked Hiro'omi, tiredly.
- "Of course not. Hell if I'd _let_ you set an expiry date on it, Hiro'omi."
- That was no lie; I really felt that way. If he hadn't made that utterly unexpected proposal, I wouldn't be here today, conversing with him. It was the Nase, not me, that proposed a deal, one in which they would accept a one-of-a-kind half-dreamghast to exist in their lands. Being the preservers of peace and order in this region, it's incredible that they allowed a dangerous element like me to remain here. Probably unprecedented. The moment we made that agreement was the moment I finally found a place where I could live a calm life; the moment I ceased to be a nomad, transferring from one school to another.
- Never would I have imagined that the few seconds I had spent reminiscing would prove to be fatal. By the time I realized it, he had thrust his arms into my armpits. On reflex, I turned my head to look behind me. Hiro'omi had a nonchalant look on his face, kind of like an old fogey idly sipping tea on a verandah. My god, it infuriated me.
- "You've got special armpits, Akky."
- "The fuck are you doing!"
- Hiro'omi looked at me amusedly as I thrashed about, trying to extricate his hands.
- "Come on, what's so surprising about one man sticking his hands in another man's armpits?"
- "_Everything_ is surprising about one man sticking his hands in another man's armpits!"
- "You know, the cleanliness and warmth of your armpits is the only thing about you that I approve of."
- "Am I supposed to be happy about that!? And if the only thing you like about me is my armpits, why don't you just go ahead and say that you loathe me altogether? That'd be a bit refreshing, at least!"
- "I'll take your armpits by force if I have to."
- "You're mad!"
- This was no laughing matter - he really did look somewhat serious as he drew near to me. A beautiful younger sister who pelts me with insults and an elder brother who attacks my armpits.... What am I supposed to make of that? And yet again, I lose and nobody wins.
- "Anyway, isn't it kind of weird for a guy to be cold-sensitive?" I pointed out, trying to get him to stop.
- "My condition isn't your ordinary sensitivity to cold," he replied, shoving his hands in his pockets.
- There was some hidden meaning in what he said. Some sort of extraordinary sensitivity to cold - that must have been a problem faced only by xenors; perhaps only by Hiro'omi.
- "So ordinary remedies don't work?"
- "Right. Akky, your warmth is the only thing that can save me now."
- "Cut the innuendo!"
- What a terrible way of putting it. He could've at least clarified that it was the warmth of my _armpits_ he was talking about. The conversation was going sour fast. I had to put a stop to it ASAP.
- "Anyway, can we get back to the point?"
- "Mm? What, you wanna know why cold-sensitivity is more common in women?"
- "A little bit, yes, but that's not what I was talking about!"
- "Fine, fine. I suppose I've enjoyed your witty comebacks enough for now."
- As the last word left his mouth, his expression changed. Then, as a precondition to the ensuing conversation, he asked a question:
- "Did Mitsuki ask you to do this?"
- "Not at all. This is my own doing."
- "In that case, I don't have to tell you anything."
- He looked at me, knowingly. Presumably, he was being standoffish because he had a secret to keep.
- "Come on, can't you help me out? You've got some information, don't you?" I pressed, even though I knew that my request was unreasonable.
- "You just don't get it. Lemme give it to you straight. You and I are neither friends nor allies. We're just parties to a ceasefire. I'd prefer that you not act so familiar with me. That privilege is reserved for the xenors with whom we've allied."
- It didn't seem that he was being malicious there. It's just, that was probably what he really felt. That's why I didn't have anything to say in reply. A creature like me could never fit in with humans, especially not xenors. It was pointless to even hope that it could be otherwise.
- In the first place, the mere fact that I'm a bizarre monster - a half-dreamghast - is reason enough for them to hate me. Of course a half-baked mix of human and dreamghast would make people uneasy. As a half-dreamghast, I stood atop the boundary line that separated men and dreamghasts. As a member of neither group, there was no place for me to rest.
Kyoukai no Kanata - Chapter 1, part 6 [English]
nakulas Jul 26th, 2013 3,873 Never
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