Hidan no Aria:Volume2 Chapter4
4th Ammo: Man-made Beach
Ever since we fought at Assault, Aria hasn't appeared before me--
However, she went to Reki's dormitory, like I thought she would.
Therefore, I was going to tell Reki that I'd be Shirayuki's bodyguard throughout Golden Week, and told her to come to the family restaurant,
Shouldering the dazzling sniper rifle, Reki was the same as ever, silent and expressionless. I didn't even know whether she was listening to what I was saying.
So, I had to--make sure she understood me, which took a pretty long time.
When I had finished explaining the events that had transpired, and glanced at the clock mounted on the wall...
It's going to be 8:00 PM soon.
Today is the day I promised Shirayuki that I would go see the fireworks with her.
And, we promised to meet each other at 7:00... Oh crap.
Reki, looking exactly like a statue, continued to sit down, watching me.
"Tonight, with Shira...No, I mean I have to go. I'll take my leave first."
I stood up without explaining myself, and Reki didn't say anything either. She didn't even turn her gaze.
She just sat staring at her iced tea, which she hadn't touched.
She continued to stare forward, looking at nobody, just like a doll.
To confirm that she heard me, I repeated myself, and Reki nodded.
But she still remained silent, just nodding, exactly like the robot that she looked like.
Now that I think about it, Reki may not have any friends, but there are some boys that are her die-hard fans. Also, I heard that those people called her Reki-sama, and worshipped her as a Goddess.
Well... It doesn't really matter if she's a robot, or a Goddess, but she has a sort of ethereal feeling. Like she isn't a real human.
However, as I was turning around-
"Are you going out to do something?"
I heard Reki's monotonous voice.
"That's right, is there something?"
"Please be careful. These few days, the wind--appears to be hiding something evil."
What is that supposed to mean?
I pray to you, could you use human language? Goddess-sama?
"Our student body is really evil, right?"
I tossed that sentence down, and left Reki there, who had put on her earphones again. I payed the bill, and left the family restaurant.
I was thinking of calling Shirayuki...but, I thought that it would be better if I just returned immediately.
If Shirayuki is angry, how do I get out of it?
After all, I was the one who set this up, and I, who's been late for so long, stealthily peeked into the living room...but the Shirayuki I saw was sitting there with her eyes wide open in excitement.
Shirayuki...was wearing a yukata. I'm not sure where she got it from.
On the pure white cloth of the yukata, were embroidered flakes of Japanese Dianthus. That pink obi, in terms of height or form, was--I'm afraid that she actually put it on herself--extremely beautiful.
Her black hair was tied up, something that I had rarely seen, and there was even a hairpin with a picture of Japanese Dianthus on it.
If I had to use one word to describe Aria, it would be 'Cute'.
But, if I were to describe Shirayuki, it could only be--'Beautiful'.
No, what I had just understood, was something that the whole of Butei High knew. Because if Shirayuki were to attend a beauty pageant for the whole of Japan, she would without a doubt win. She was that beautiful. I'm serious.
However, I, as a childhood friend, didn't really notice.
But only now, when she had clad these garments...could I once again appreciate her beauty.
This makes me feel really embarrassed.
Shirayuki was sitting down neatly, facing the charger which her phone was in, her back towards me, who was creeping in from the door.
She's probably waiting for my call...right?
My shadow was on the window...but it seems that she hasn't noticed me.
--This...really makes me want to play around with her.
I took out my cellphone, and from the corridor...stealthily wrote her an SMS.
"I'm sorry, I still need half an hour."
The white cellphone lit up, smack! Shirayuki, with a speed that was hard to trace with one's eyes, snatched up the phone, holding it in front of her eyes with both hands.
And afterward, with a tap tap noise, she replied.
The me in Dark Mode who had fired off the first blow, read her reply.
"OK, don't worry. I'll keep on waiting."
And at the end, there was even a smiley emoticon.
Hey, shouldn't you be a little angry...?
Thinking this way...
"Actually, I'll be late by 3 hours. Want to cancel it?"
I tried sending that out.
And Shirayuki once again took out the phone she had just replaced, and she read it again.
Her face suddenly looked like, Armageddon, Ragnarok, the End of Days, whatever you'd like to call it, had just arrived.
I'm over here, don't you know?
"Come on, don't look like it's the end of the world."
After receiving this SMS, Shirayuki blinked, not quite understanding.
Remote controlling Shirayuki.
Is really fun.
Well, because I felt that continuing to do this was a bit evil,
"Hey, let's go."
so I called out towards her, chuckling.
Shirayuki jumped around 20 centimeters off the mat, in surprise.
How did she do that?
"Ki-Ki-Kin-chan!? Really, you're too much! Have you been watching me from there this whole time!?"
Shirayuki, her face completely red, stood up, that smooth fringe shaking slightly--
She walked towards me hurriedly, and I'm not sure if it was because she was excited or something, but she managed to fall on flat ground.
"What're you screaming for... Ah, I'm sorry that I was late."
"No, no! Don't worry! You're not late at all!"
Said Shirayuki, laughing while waving her hands around.
I'm obviously late, you know... Well, whatever, since the person that was waiting says so, then I'll accept it.
Once Shirayuki noticed that I was looking at her, she hurriedly averted her eyes, smoothing her yukata with her hands.
"Ki-Kin-chan. How do I look? I ordered it online...it isn't ugly, is it?"
"Th-that's great...ah...how does my hair look? I just had this done at Academy Island's beauty parlor...i-is it ugly?"
"Not at all."
Shirayuki's face, upon hearing my response, became relaxed, making me feel embarrassed.
My heart, feeling a little ticklish, said: "Let's go, then," and strode to the door.
I wore my shoes and looked back. Shirayuki responded with a "Yes," and walked over elegantly to wear her new wooden slippers.
Every move she makes is refined, a perfect example of a Yamato Nadeshiko.
Going out at night--
I don't hate it at all.
When I had just arrived at Inquesta from Assault...I had the hollow feeling of not knowing what to do, so everyday, when dinner arrived, I would wander the empty nighttime streets.
"...It's a little cold."
I turned my head, looking at Shirayuki, who was walking behind me daintily.
But she hurriedly directed her gaze downwards-
I wasn't staring at you, our eyes just met as we turned around.
-As if trying to explain that.
"Shirayuki, do you walk at night often?"
"I don't. If I'm not together with Kinji, I don't normally come out this late."
"Is that so."
I feel like I can't keep up a conversation.
Since I've never really had any reason to talk to a girl, while we were alone together...also, it's because Aria is always talking about America's standard-issue flashbangs, or Germany's newest blades...so I now have the habit of not really listening while others are talking, so I can't really talk to Shirayuki normally.
The vending machines at the sides of the street were flashing, as if they were making fun of us.
Thankfully, Shirayuki started talking to me.
"Th-this...th-this ki-ki-kind of feels...like...a...date..., right...no, no it doesn't...of course, it doesn't..."
What are you saying? That kind of Japanese is too weird...I can't understand it at all.
"It's like...we're on a date...right?"
I was wondering what she was going to say, but I never thought she'd say something like this.
I definitely have to say no.
Because if she takes this wrongly, if we ever get into a situation where I'm in Hysteria Mode, I'll be finished.
"This isn't a date. I'm just acting as a bodyguard, protecting my client. That's all."
Butei Law article 5. 「Be as fast as a gust of wind. Butei must win in one blow」.
Shirayuki's neat eyebrows drooped, as if sad.
"Th-that's right. You're protecting me. Saying that kind of thing...I'm sorry."
She pretended to smile, and apologized.
Because I was late, when I reached the Butei metro stop--the sound of fireworks already started to reach us from the distance.
Will we make it?
I was looking at Shirayuki buying the metro tickets--while she was still hesitating about leaving Butei High, I said "Then I'll buy your ticket too."
"How could I let Kin-chan treat me? I'll buy it myself."
I let her buy the tickets.
From what I've heard, Shirayuki has never left the school, besides taking the Hotogi's cars.
More like from what I remember, this is the first time she's ever taken a train.
...How strict was her upbringing, exactly?
But, no matter what anyone says, I have succeeded--in opening the door for the caged bird. Even if she's still in another's fist.
We took the subway to Odaiba. And then from Yurikamome to Ariake. From there took the Sea Line to Shinkiba. At last, we got on the Keiyo Line.
We continued to switch trains like that until we reached Kasai Rinkai Park. With only that, Shirayuki looked at me with respect.
To be respected for this kind of thing...it makes me a little...
I scratched my head, a little embarrassed, and took Shirayuki from the station towards the seashore.
Arriving at Kasai Rinkai Park, which was a little like a forest, I saw the streetlights continuing down the seashore. Like a nighttime park.
Not forgetting about my role as a bodyguard, I checked the surroundings. Since it was already night, there were still some street shops open, and people moving around in small groups. It shouldn't be dangerous. Although there were some delinquents looking to mess around with couples, they probably aren't stupid enough to attack gun-wielding Butei.
"...The moon is really beautiful."
We hadn't seen the fireworks yet, and we continued up the park path down the shore.
At the end of the road was a breathtakingly beautiful man-made beach.
"...It's really beautiful."
"Kin-chan...um...you don't, feel bored or anything, do you?"
I shook my head at Shirayuki, who had turned towards me, her eyes full of uneasiness.
"Ah, I...have never really talked with boys, and I don't know anything about what boys find interesting...I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry for something like that. Also, don't just apologize about everything. That's a bad habit."
"Didn't I just say not to do that?"
I looked at Shirayuki, who was about to fire off another 'Sorry', and I laughed at how weird she was.
Shirayuki dipped her head a little, seeming to feel a little embarrassed, yet a little happy, and her features relaxed.
There may not be anything to talk about, but compared to how she was when we had just left my house, she gave off a more relaxing aura.
We continued to walk towards the seashore...Shirayuki, as normal, was dipping her head.
"It's like I'm dreaming..."
She muttered, as if she couldn't have found something that made her more happy than this.
We arrived at the man-made beach.
As I expected, this place was empty.
This is, as the name suggests, an artificial beach, but because it's forbidden to swim, fish, or barbecue, nobody comes.
I thought that this would be a nice place to watch the Disney fireworks show, but...
"...I think it ended already."
Looking at the air above the Disneyland, at the shore of Tokyo Bay, we could only see the smoke left behind by the fading fireworks.
Bringing her all the way here, only to see this...How embarrassing.
"...I'm sorry. It's all because I was late."
"No, no. Kin-chan isn't in the wrong. I was walking too slowly."
Shirayuki was using her normal Shirayuki method of speaking, not blaming me at all...
But in those eyes, were a trace of disappointment.
"And also, while I was walking...I was reminiscing of our past, so it's fine. I'm fine with just hearing the sound. I could see the fireworks, in my heart."
Shirayuki smiled at me gently, as if she was comforting me.
"That's right, the Aomori fireworks festival."
"Ah, that. The one I brought you to...and the one where we got reprimanded severely, afterward."
That was when we were five...the time I forced Shirayuki to come with me.
Now that I think about it, I also used a fireworks festival as an excuse to bring her out.
Did I do the same thing without realizing it?
"...At that time...Kin-chan also brought me out of the Hotogi,"
Shirayuki said. *Chi*, she stepped on the sand, walking towards the sea.
Even though she's on sand, which is hard to walk on, her gait is still so beautiful.
The night breeze--
Lightly brushed through her tied up hair.
"I still remember the fireworks from that night, so don't worry. Today...I had some expectations too...but, even if there are no fireworks, it's fine. Whether we're at this sea under the moonlight, or even at home, it's fine."
Saying this, Shirayuki turned her back to the stars.
"Because, Kin-chan is by my side."
That smile was genuine. That smile, made while thinking of me, was completely genuine.
I... For someone like me...
Can't be a Butei, and can't be a normal person, just a screw-up.
Not only was I late, but I also started playing around with you. Also, I couldn't even let you see one firework. That's the kind of guy I am.
Yet, you don't even have one complaint to give.
You're not angry at all...yet you can wholeheartedly smile for me, and forgive me.
How compassionate could you be.
Instead, this just makes me want to do more for you.
Hearing me call her name, Shirayuki walked over.
"Aren't you cold? It's cold, isn't it. It's very cold, to be more accurate. Alright. Wear this, and wait for me."
I took off my jacket, and placed it on Shirayuki's shoulders. There was no need for words.
"Kin-chan? Won't you be cold, Kin-chan?"
"I've already prepared myself to be hot, don't worry. I'm going to run a bit."
Before Shirayuki, not really understanding, could speak one word--
I ran towards the station, kicking up the sand.
Leaving my client in the middle of such an empty, wide space may not be too wise, but well, the enemy doesn't exist anyways. It should be fine.
As I thought--this place was very safe.
When I had run back, Shirayuki was holding my school uniform, sitting on a bench by the beach, calmly waiting.
"Shirayuki. Sorry for the wait."
I called to her...hmm?
Shirayuki didn't respond.
I reached over to Shirayuki, who seemed to be hugging my uniform to herself, and patted her shoulder.
Only then did Shirayuki awaken, with an "Ah-!"
Those eyes, so reminiscent of obsidian, seemed to be afraid of something.
"What is it? Why are you frightened?"
"No-nothing. There's nothing. Don't worry. With this by my side...there's nothing wrong."
Shirayuki seemed to be hiding something, holding up the sleeve of my coat.
"This jacket has Kin-chan's scent on it...it makes me feel like Kin-chan is by my side."
I laughed, embarrassed.
"It's my jacket, of course it will. Doesn't the gunpowder smell bad?"
"No. It smells very good."
"You really are weird. Well, let's not think about that, here."
I said, reaching out.
The things I bought for Shirayuki--
At one of the street shops, about to close, I bought incense fireworks, and I held it in front of her.
"Let's set off some fireworks. Even if these are 1000 times smaller."
Crouching down on the beach, we ignited our fireworks.
I thought that if it was Shirayuki, these Japanese incense fireworks would be fine...
But in reality, it was too...normal. It wasn't festive at all.
Even though that was the case, Shirayuki seemed to be happy, from the bottom of her heart. She was watching the light that these tiny fireworks gave off with delight.
Those beautiful, long-eyelashed, gentle eyes, under the light of the fireworks, seemed to be like stars, shining in the midst of the darkness.
Looking at her this way, it was more obvious than ever. She is...so beautiful.
"Hm, mm? What is it?"
"These fireworks...they're beautiful."
"Kin-chan...do you like fireworks?"
What an obscure question.
"Not if it's as small as this. But if it's huge fireworks, I'd probably be a little bit scared. After all, it's human instinct."
"Th...that's true. Ah..."
From the incense firework in Shirayuki's hand, the ember fell off.
I chuckled, embarrassed, and glanced at Shirayuki, who was looking at me. Our eyes met...
Because my hands shook,
The ember on my firework fell off too.
"...Looks like it's over."
"There's still one. You light it."
As I was about to offer her the 100 yen lighter I had bought--
Shirayuki hugged the plastic bag with the fireworks inside to her chest, shaking her head fiercely.
"No. I want to keep this."
"Kin-chan gave this to me, I want to bring it back. If I light it, it'll be a shame."
"Since when were these meant to be kept? Fireworks are meant to be lit, right?"
"Just keep it in your memory."
Although, hearing my careless words, Shirayuki...started nodding.
She took out the last firework...and lit it.
It seemed as if she really meant to keep it in her memory, as she stared at it intently.
There was nothing I could do, so I just watched her.
If I look at it like this, yukata are really attractive...
Shirayuki's chest, crouching down like this, could be clearly seen.
The light from the incense firework made her skin seem like it was shining as well.
Just now, I could see it.
I don't know why, but she was wearing something black again. Also, now I recalled that lace underwear, [Victory], from inside the drawer. You...really, Shirayuki.
This...now that I think about, Muto said something like this once.
I remember him saying once, that the yukata was the easiest piece of clothing to take off in the world.
Don't think about this kind of thing.
If you go into Hysteria Mode now, who knows what will happen.
Think of something else to calm down. So, I started counting in my head. Two, Three, Five--
"Kin-chan...Thank you. Tonight, I won't be able to sleep. I'll be too happy to."
Hearing Shirayuki, still staring at the firework, say this, I looked up.
That's right, I can talk to her. How could I forget about this simple method? Now I don't even know how I came up with counting.
As long as I concentrate on keeping up a conversation, I probably won't notice that black lace underwear.
"You won't be able to sleep...? Don't exaggerate. We just took a train to the park for a stroll...ah..."
I started stammering at the wrong of choice of words, and Shirayuki turned to look at me, a little uncertain.
"Ah, no. A walk... Bu-but we did set off fireworks. It wasn't anything great, though."
"...But. This is extremely special to me. Almost like a miracle."
The light coming from the incense firework had already become extremely weak.
"Kin-chan is always doing miracles for me. Even on the day of the entrance exam, you saved me from those horrible people..."
"Wa-wasn't that just a brawl?"
"And when I was small, and tonight, you...brought me out to see the world...and so, I...wanted to pay that debt back to you, during Butei High."
"That isn't a debt. So, there's no need to pay me back."
My careless words made Shirayuki--once again flash that joyful smile.
"Kin-chan really is Kin-chan."
"What does that mean?"
The last ember, fell down.
Chch... under our gaze, it went out on the sand.
Shirayuki, as if trying to imprint this onto her soul, slowly, slowly, closed her eyes.
Afterwards, she stood up in that refined manner, leaving all that saw her breathless.
Mirroring her movements, I stood up as well.
The noise of the waves washing up on the sand seemed to echo through the beach--
"Before, when I used the Miko cards to predict for Kin-chan..."
Shirayuki, rushing to the waves, suddenly softly said this to me...I remembered it.
At that time she insincerely said, "As far as I can see, you will be blessed."
"Actually...I predicted that...Kin-chan would 'Disappear'."
"From the place you are right now, you will disappear--and it's within a few years."
"That's probably talking about me switching schools. It looks like this wish of mine will be fulfilled the coming year."
"...I think that...this could be Aria bringing you someplace else..."
Hearing Shirayuki's words, I chuckled.
However, Shirayuki's mood, as if she was being chained down by something, was still frail.
"Because Aria has...changed Kin-chan. Ever since Kin-chan met Aria, you've been happier..."
How unexpected--but now that I think about it, in some ways, my heart thought that this was possible.
It's that feeling...that I think is unexpected.
"...That's not it."
My denial was a lot softer than I thought...
"As long as Kin-chan could be happy... Even if the one that Kin-chan liked was Aria... It'd be OK if you were together with Aria. Even if I remained in the background, as long as I could support Kin-chan...as long as I could repay the debt I owe Kin-chan... Then I'd be fine."
"Hey, hey. What are you saying--"
"So up until now, I've been doing my best at everything. Studies, student council, clubs...I've been working hard, so I could improve myself...but in the end, these things didn't help Kin-chan at all,"
Shirayuki...interrupted me, and said that.
The Shirayuki I was seeing now was very different from the normal her.
It's as if---the heart she's always hiding, she's pouring it all out to me.
"...Don't say these weird things. Before I said that Aria and I are just partners. And you've been using past tense this whole time. Could it be...that you're talking about the 'Butei Killer' mission from last month?"
I shouldn't ask her directly, but knowing Shirayuki's personality...
Could it be that Shirayuki is agitated because she couldn't help me during the 'Butei Killer' mission last month?
After all, the person who was with me then--was the person that Shirayuki hated with all her heart, Aria.
Shirayuki, suddenly spinning around...I couldn't see too well because it was dark, but it seemed that her eyes were full of tears.
And then, Thud.
She rushed into my arms.
Before, Shirayuki, who took several minutes to get close to me even sitting down, suddenly and unexpectedly, charged into my embrace.
Wh-what's going on?
"Kin-chan, I'm sorry. I'm really, really, really sorry."
I didn't know what Shirayuki, looking up at me, was apologizing for--
But those eyes, full of tears, rendered me speechless.
That face, illuminated by the moonlight. Aah, I've known this from the beginning...
But, it's so indescribably beautiful.
That yukata, although it's the wrong season, that hair, tied up like this, it perfectly fits this Yamato Nadeshiko.
Childhood friends-- From when we were little, we were always together. We were as important as water to each other, being together was like quenching our thirst. We would never allow anything to ever come between us...
But yet I understood, that relationship like water, had let honey ooze in, and mix together.
--Creating a sweetness that drove people crazy, creating something that people would give anything to partake of.
"Kin-chan...suddenly doing this, I'm sorry...until now, I've been scared that you'd hate me, and I didn't dare say anything...but please, even if it's just once...my only dream, please fulfill it..."
Shirayuki, her lips trembling with her words, had an indescribable expression. It was full of...full of the sort of feeling, that if she spoke one more word, she would die.
"Even if it's only now, if it's only now, please look at me, please only look at me..."
As the refreshing yet chilling night breeze washed over us--
Those quiet eyes, under her fringe, those beautiful eyes--
...I didn't hear wrong...right?
Her voice may have been extremely soft, but it was at such a close distance.
Why, did you suddenly, make me...
In the moment that my heart started hammering uncontrollably, I felt my blood start flowing.
However...this feeling is a little different.
This isn't the feeling I get when I'm about to enter Hysteria Mode. This is, from the usual trigger--arousal-- It's a little different...
The words...I can't explain it.
Before I realized it, my hand, already slipping from the control of my mind, instinctively...I'm not sure if it was to stop Shirayuki, or what...but it was about to touch her back.
At a distance, the sound of an explosion came over.
But, overshadowing everything else, was an instinct to protect her.
Shirayuki, so shocked that she curled up, came back to her senses and with me, looked towards the sound...
Over Disneyland came: Bang, Bang Bang.
Gigantic fireworks continued to blossom in the sky.
Just now we had thought it was over, but it appears that it was just an interlude...
Getting used to this kind of thing, it really can't be helped...
In that moment just now, I had unknowingly stuck my right shoulder in front of my client--and Shirayuki's left breast.
My hand, also trying to shield her body, felt the Beretta strapped to her thigh.
...This is all because of the training I received in Assault.
Even the noise of fireworks makes me automatically shield my client.
Since I was scared and embarrassed that Shirayuki, seeing what I was like just now, would misunderstand what I did, I turned around, not daring to face her.
Our feet were just about touching, just now...
But because of the actions I had taken just now, we were only half a step away from each other.
We might have only been 40 centimeters apart, but I felt that it would be hard to get that close again.
Shirayuki, appearing to have given up on something, raised her head to look at the fireworks.
But that expression was so hollow, it was as if she wasn't really here.
I, not knowing what to do, also--
Raised my head to take a look at the fireworks, which were like magic, blossoming into many different colors.
Looking at the night sky above Tokyo Bay, seeing the floating, early summer fireworks.
As if we had lost our souls, we continued to stare.
--I didn't think that...this would be our farewell.
Translator's Notes and References
- It is difficult to put an obi by yourself.
- Bura Bura (ブラブラ) is a stroll. Bura (ブラ) is a bra.