Chapter 1 – A Changing Encounter
On the way back from school one day, struck by the early summer sunlight of May, the peaceful, ordinary daily life forcibly came to a close. Occasionally Ryou would return home by himself taking a detour through a back street where almost no students pass through. Facing towards the station a commotion was suddenly heard. Looking towards the vacant lot 50 metres long on all sides, a girl wearing the same uniform as himself could be seen alone surrounded by three boys wearing another school’s uniform, some kind of courting in this place was being witnessed.
Ryou, who observed the troublesome situation momentarily, was deciding whether or not to leave quickly. If he heard afterwards that the girl was injured, he thought that it would leave a bad aftertaste. Profoundly, as a result of being briefly worried, he decided to intervene if it became dangerous and decided to watch the girl stealthily from cover.
Judging from the appearance of the situation, a boy from another school confessed to the girl and the girl declined. Ryou saw the situation where the girl was still being strongly approached. Though it is a little far away, if ears are strained it can be heard.
“Say, its fine isn’t it? We came here with much effort just to hear ‘sorry’, yes, let’s not say goodbye yet, just keep us company going out for some tea”
“Yes of course, it will be comforting, so come with us for a bit so our feelings can come to an end. It’s the best for you after all, wouldn’t refusing a confession you received leave a bad aftertaste? So let’s associate for just a little bit”
The men make advances towards the girl while smirking. Ryou knits his eyebrows towards the excessive and one-sided flirting, earnestly hoping the girl can safely make her own way through this place, for the sake of his own peace.
Then the girl in a fed up tone said to the men.
“That has nothing to do with me, you came unreservedly of your own accord. As for the reason why I must keep you company, why would I think so?”
Though the girl’s complaint was indeed justifiable, in this situation, Ryou considered that it might have an adverse effect.
The men while seemingly irritated, gripped the girl’s arm.
“Now, listen here. All you have to do is come for a little bit”
“Hey, let go!”
The girl puts up resistance to her arm being gripped, and swings the bag held in her hand. The bag hits the face of the man holding the girl’s arm making him bend backwards. The arm which was gripped was parted from but the girl was threatened immediately.
“What, you gripped it so suddenly…, hey, let go!”
A man other than the one who was shaken off, catches the girl’s arm while shaking his head, appearing to be very disappointed.
“Haa, This fellow I truly want to keep company with. What do you do? Do we accompany her back to your home?”
While saying so, the man gripping the arm floats a cruel smile, and looks towards a man, who grins in agreement.
“That sounds good, then, let’s go to my home!”
“Wai, that’s not a joke! Let go! Let go now!”
“This……, be reasonable and behave yourself!”
The girl resists to the end and swings her bag with her free arm, while resisting, suddenly the man thrusts away the arm which was held and the girl falls on her backside.
“Ow……! What are you doing! I’ll call the police!”
“Good, if called out then wouldn’t this be seen”
Though the girl retorts back strongly, the fear in her voice couldn’t be concealed. Ryou who heard that voice sighed.
If an ordinary man goes and helps, it’s certain that it would be regarded as the girl’s hero. That is to say, if he moves up front and help he will certainly be a hero.
So, why then, did Ryou not go help despite being able to help the girl at any time? The reason not to help is because after helping, tomorrow the girl who was helped would talk to her friends, and he is concerned about becoming the topic of a rumor.
Ryou was unsure about becoming a hero now, as it was important to maintain his position. While the girl was swinging her bag around, Ryou was hoping she would run away, however things likely won’t turn out so well. In the end, though troublesome, he had to move to rescue the girl and end this useless panic. A sigh of regret was let out.
Ryou goes out from the cover and picked up a stone by his feet. Facing forward towards the girl, Ryou casually threw it towards a man in front. The stone drew a beautiful parabola and splendidly hit the forehead of the man it was aimed at.
The man who was hit by the stone crouched down in pain holding his forehead.
After the man was suddenly hit by the stone, the three men were dumbfounded and looked to their right towards Ryou and shouted. The men and girl on the left hand side were attracted towards Ryou.
Ryou saw the girl turned around, despite the distance could tell she was a splendid cute girl. While calmly thinking so, Ryou and the girl who became aware of him matched eyes. Ryou made a gesture with his right hand, moving towards the right. Ryou’s meaning was “Escape that way”.
The girl realizing the meaning behind Ryou’s gesture nods and quickly stands up and moves in the direction Ryou indicated. She used the opportunity to run away while the men were still taken aback and glancing sideward because of Ryou’s appearance.
“Wai… you! Don’t move there!”
The men carelessly overlooked the girl that ran away, seemingly further increasing in anger they faced towards Ryou.
Ryou understood that the attention of the men went from the girl to himself and let out a breath of relief. These guys are simpler than Ryou thought and he chuckled expressionlessly.
The men go towards Ryou who reflexively looked a bit relieved, holding their fists up approaching where he is.
Ryou with composure watched the punch which could be dodged, but doesn’t move from the spot. When it is confirmed that a man had entered the range of his kick, without any preliminary movement that could be sensed, with a flash, the outer of his foot was thrust into the man’s solar plexus. The man, who received Ryou’s counter in the form of his foot, floats a facial expression of anguish and fell to his knees, letting out painful breathing sounds.
Another one saw that instantaneous exchange and raised his voice wildly, with an expression that he can’t believe the scene he just witnessed. Suddenly using his foot to break from running, he escaped from the very limit of Ryou’s range at the last moment. Ryou clicks his tongue inwardly, after matching his line of sight with the man, he quickly looks behind him and shouts
“Over here! Come quickly!”
The man was startled but became confused when he turned his head back and there was no-one there. Before he realized that he was tricked, Ryou cut down the distance while the man was looking back and struck him with a roundhouse kick to the same solar plexus as just now.
“Thank you for your simplicity”
Ryou mutters towards the man with a truly joyful smile as he collapses with an anguished expression. Looking towards the man who the stone was first thrown at who was absentminded and in a crouching posture.
Ryou confirmed he was the only one remaining and with composure walked towards him. He realizes that Ryou is coming and stand up in a panic. The memory of being hit by the stone was recalled and he speaks sharply while pointing towards his forehead.
“You, do you know what you’ve done!?”
The voice was strange as a bit of fear began to invade and merge with his angry tone. Ryou ignores the man’s caustic words as they go in the one ear and out the other as he slowly draws near the man expressionlessly.
The man held more and more fear towards such a Ryou, he instinctively felt so while holding up his fists he faced Ryou. The moment he entered into range he was struck by the outer of Ryou’s foot into his solar plexus and just like the other two, he collapsed with an anguished expression.
Up to now, not even two minutes have passed since Ryou first threw the stone. One might say it is an indicator of Ryou’s brilliant and unobjectionable skill.
Ryou confirms that the men had fainted and began to search the uniform pockets of the men. In the places that he was looking, from the breast pocket a student notebook and a wallet and cellphone are taken out of the pants pocket. Feeling a sign from behind, he smiled wryly that he forgot.
As for Ryou, if the girl runs back as it is, wouldn’t his presence in class be found out. He was hoping that this could be finished without becoming a rumor. As is expected that may be too convenient for him. As he was thinking so, the girl he was assuming about appeared.
To leave the person who helped and runaway alone, because anyone would think there will be resistance, it couldn’t be helped that she looked back towards Ryou. She became speechless and stiff towards the situation that was completely unexpected.
The girl who looked back earlier was slender but not too thin, hands and feet which weren’t large. Good looks that can’t help but make you unintentionally turn around regardless of gender. The light brown hair hanging below her shoulder has a slight wave. She is a special A within school, no a beautiful girl of super-special A. The one standing there was his school’s idol.
Ryou suddenly looks back and the beautiful girl of super-special A shows a slightly surprised expression. He immediately regroups his mind and quickly bows his head in apology.
“I was saved. Thank you”
Hearing the girl’s words, Ryou was taken aback thinking about how quickly she got over the situation. While his brain is moving at high speed he answered the girl in the polite tone he always used at school.
Needless to say, he did not want any relations with someone of super-special A.
“N-no, don’t mention it……, are you injured?”
“Ah, I’m alright. Skin doesn’t seem to have been grazed anywhere”
The girl waves both hands while answering Ryou. Indeed, when looking at the girl’s leg, there doesn’t seem to be any soil or blood on it, it’s a lovely leg. It’s a thin, slender and long, excessively lovely leg. While almost being charmed, he shakes his head to drive away idle thoughts and said to the girl.
“That’s good, and then wouldn’t it be better if you return home before these guys wake up?”
Ryou thought that even if not the best, it would be for the better to separate from the girl quickly. The girl showed a slightly puzzled expression and approached Ryou.
“Er, but, that is……, well, Are we in the same school? Are you in second-year?”
Did the girl notice the implied meaning of Ryou’s words to “Return quickly, or didn’t she, she noticed but pretended not to.
Perhaps she was a bit puzzled, because it was unusual for men to try to end conversations early like this. There are likely many men who make advanced towards such a beautiful girl.
However, Ryou guessed that the natural course of events for an ordinary looking man like himself would be that they become nervous and don’t say much. The girl who ignores Ryou’s words of “Go home”, instead tries to find out if they’re in the same school year.
It wasn’t so much a question, but rather a confirmation, as the embroidery on the breast pocket was seen. In Ryou’s current school there’s a red color line on the breast pocket for first-years, blue for second-years and green for third years. Like Ryou, the line on the girl’s breast pocket was blue.
“Ah, that’s right……”
“Um, I want to express my gratitude……, can you tell me your name?”
The girl draws near to Ryou with upturned eyes. It’s a face with exceptional destructive force, Ryou though while refusing.
“No, it’s fine. If it’s an expression of gratitude didn’t you give one just now?”
Ryou’s words weren’t incorrect, as there was no doubt that “Thank you” was heard before. However Ryou understood that there was a wanting to go further than just a few words.
“No, no like that……, I wanted to thank you more differently……, ah, excuse me, my name is Fujimoto Erika. Class two, second year class two”
Ryou, who wanted to click his tongue, endured it. The number one method to maintain his current school life was for the people of Group A to not recognize his name or face in the first place, because of that he doesn’t want his name to be known to this beautiful girl of super-special A. “Introduce oneself before asking someone’s name’ when wanting to know someone’s name, the girl who noticed that her name wasn’t given, introduced herself. Because the name and even class was given, he became dejected as it would be bad to not return it. He instantly thought to introduce himself with a false name and class, but it would be found out immediately if checked up on, so for his sake as to avoid making a commotion later on decided not to lie, and sighed a little in resignation.
“……Sakuragi Ryou, class 8”
“Sakuragi……Ryou? Is Ryou written with this kanji?
With her a finger, the character “亮” was written in the air.
“That’s correct……, it was grasped well. And so, ah, the real thanks was heard and it’s getting dark, so shouldn’t you return home quickly?”
Ryou’s tone seemed to gradually sound impatient. Towards Ryou whose polite tone started to slip away slightly with force behind it, Erika said.
“No, that’s no good! I want to thank you further……, um, if you like, can we exchange cellphone numbers?”
While thinking that there was no need to be so fixated giving thanks and that if it is known that he exchanged numbers with her it would become troublesome, Ryou promptly said.
“Ah, well then, as a reward, could you promise not to tell anybody what I did to these guys?”
Erika who hears what Ryou said, has a curious facial expression. Ryou thought that he had a good idea. He won’t be talked about and the girl can express her gratitude. It’s killing two birds with one stone.
“Eh……? Why, such a……?”
“Ah, various points, for selfish convenience…………”
“Convenience……?, eh, but is such a thing good?”
“For me that is beneficial. Do you promise?”
“Eh……, yes, that’s fine……”
Enticed by Ryou’s words, the politeness in Erika’s tone decreased slightly and nodded.
Ryou that saw such an Erika, breathes in relief, and continued what he was doing before Erika came. Restarting his cleanup work, he pulled the cellphone from the man’s pocket and held it, transmitting the man’s phone number and address data to his phone. A photograph was taken of the man’s student handbook which had his name and a photo of face on it.
Furthermore it was confirmed if there was a license in the wallet, finding one he also takes a picture with his cellphone, all money notes are pulled out and put inside his own pocket. He casually scattered about the cellphone, wallet and student notebook on top of the man.
Erika was dumbfounded seeing this series of experienced movements and drew closer to Ryou while panicking.
“Wa, wait, what are you doing Sakuragi-kun!?”
“Severing future anxiety, preventing repeat offence”
Ryou spoke simply but Erika couldn’t comprehend.
“Eh, b-but, do you need to go as far as take the money!?”
Ryou mutters towards Erika’s inquiry.
“Game……, isn’t it like in an RPG?”
He answered Erika who didn’t understand the intention.
“Enemy characters in game……, when monsters are defeated don’t they drop money? It’s like that”
Erika cannot hide her surprise as Ryou says his peculiar theory far too indifferently.
“Eh!? But isn’t it only for monsters!?”
Ryou spoke while nodding.
“Ah, monster drop, however in the case of these guys, it appears by feeling around inside their pockets……, on that point isn’t it kind for a monster?”
“Besides for enemies there also legitimate humans, for a Boss there are also splendid humans, additionally even bandits drop gold or a treasure chest, don’t you agree? N……? Then, are these guys kinder than bandits?”
Erika watches with a cramp on her mouth while Ryou laughs with an ‘ahaha’, requesting her agreement.
And so Erika decided to observe Ryou again. He has a very plain appearance. Up until today she hadn’t been aware of him in school. She might have caught a glimpse of him but believes that today is the first time seeing him. Such a person spoke without hesitance.
Erika is self-aware that her appearance is superior to most people. The males at school are inquisitive towards her and occasionally send intoxicated sticky glances. When confident men make advances towards her, they usually start to sound desperate and become aware of it. Because such people are often nearby, when ordinary men approach they become excessively nervous, conscious and run away without talking. However, before her eyes, a truly strange man was seen who could said to be very much outside of common sense.
While Erika is thinking who on earth he was, Ryou finished carrying out similar activity to the two others and spoke to Erika.
“So, how about returning? Does what’s going to happen from here have to be seen?”
Ryou, who was worried about Erika, spoke with his normal tone. Deciding that controlling himself by speaking with a polite and courteous tone was troublesome.
Towards Ryou’s question, Erika was taken aback, worried whether or not to go home. Curiosity towards Ryou started to boil, seeing such a scary event, she shook her neck. Ryou who saw that also shook his neck.
“Haa……, I’m going to wake these guys so can you stay silent?”
“I understand, I promise”
Erika nods with an as serious as possible face. Ryou shrugs his shoulders, looks towards the two men at his feet, nudging them with his foot jolting them awake.
“Hey, get up”
The two men stirred, while Ryou jolted them awake, started to display anguished facial expression, began to get up.
“Hey, that guy, wake him up”
Hearing what Ryou said they turned their head in the direction he was looking, seeing their friend who had fainted, a flustered voice was let out. Next, it was noticed that the cellphone, wallet and student notebook which should have been in their pocket, was scattered around them, and raised their voice towards Ryou.
“You, what did you do to us!?”……, why is there nothing in these wallets!?”
When the men shout seeing the contents of their wallet, seeming truly irritated Ryou said.
“I hear you even without shouting, so listen up and wake that guy up”
“What!? What was that, you!?”
Looking at the two who complained in succession towards him, Ryou with a fed up expression takes off his glasses and glared at the two of them.
“You guys, who do think you’re facing with such a mouth?”
Ryou shouldn’t be anyone in particular, but the moment Ryou started to glare at them, the two sensed instinctively they shouldn’t go against him, and in a panic ran to wake up the friend who was still out.
Because Erika was near to where the two ran towards, Ryou beckons to Erika to get behind him and she jogs over to his location. Seeing Ryou who had taken off his glasses, Erika showed a little bit of a surprised appearance.
While Erika goes to Ryou, the other man woke up and a bewildered feeling could clearly be seen on him.
“Good, you guys, sit there”
Ryou makes a command towards them. The men were about to complain, but immediately with Ryou’s glare, they sat down cross-legged on the spot. Ryou who saw that had a disgusted facial expression.
“Are you guys idiots? When I say so kneel in seiza”
While being puzzled, the three men looked at each other, then obediently kneeled in seiza when they saw the face of Ryou who was glaring.
Erika watched the situation with an open mouth.
Ryou confirmed the three men were in seiza and spoke to them.
“That’s good, you guys. The scene of you guys who were rough with this girl, was video recorded on my cellphone.
Ryou who held his cellphone in his right hand, showed Erika.
It was a chorus of four people. Naturally the three men, Erika also raised her voice in surprise. Ryo slowly nodded.
“And then your guys’ cellphone number, e-mail address, home address, photo of face, school and class, I have them”
The man who had just woken up a little bit ago said so, and for the first time noticed that his cellphone and things were scattered about.
“And that’s not all! The money’s taken!!”
Towards the men with an indignant expression Ryou says something unexpected.
“It’s the consequence of your actions, aren’t you aware of the term karma? You did something bad, so simply a bad thing is returned to you. Were you not told by your parents or teacher that it’s wrong to be violent towards a girl? The money is for consolation, or think of it as an annoyance fee. Because the small change was sufficiently left behind, you can return home”
When Ryou says so, the man on the right shouted.
“Stop joking with me, you!”
The man in the center received energy from his friend’s shout screamed at the same time.
“That’s right, what are you doing to us!”
Hearing the words, Ryou twitches in reaction, and casually kicks the face of the man in the middle.
‘Gon’, the man that was kicked is bent backwards with an unpleasant sound.
The men to the right and left of the man who was kicked didn’t see Ryou’s foot when he kicked. Hearing a sudden unpleasant sound coming from the friend next to them, seeing him bent backwards, an expression of shock floats on their faces.
Erika has a similar look of surprise on her face.
“You, what to do……? You three approach a girl, should I knock you down after all?”
The men felt a chill and hardened in the situation when Ryou’s atmosphere suddenly changes.
Erika also held her breath and hardened for a moment, in a panic she grasped Ryou’s arm.
“I’m fine, isn’t it already enough?”
It’s not that Erika didn’t also feel some fear towards Ryou, however, she towards this person, felt that he isn’t someone who would use violence against a girl, so it was possible to break out of her rigidness.
Ryou whose arm was grasped by Erika stiffened instantly, an expression of dismay is shown. Tilting his head Ryou looked to his side, his appearance of dismay getting stronger could be seen. Immediately pulling himself back together, he said towards the frightened men.
“Anyway, do not get close to this girl again. Do not loiter around this vicinity again. Ah, be careful not to appear in her and my field of vision. If you do not follow what was said, the video with your profile will be put on the internet, including your cellphone number. Or rather, die”
The men shiver from Ryou’s words, running away in a rush while saying sorry many times. In doing so, they shouldn’t approach her again. On the other hand, hearing misunderstood words, Erika grasped Ryou’s arm tighter. Ryou tried to deny it in a hurry, but stiffened once again and was not able to voice his denial.
Once the men had gone away, an abrupt silence with nothing being said came about, Ryou coughed to clear his throat. Erika who inclined her neck looks up to Ryou with curiosity. Ryou who saw that face, in that moment, said to Erika while removing his glance.
“Ah, um, could you release my arm?”
When it was said, Erika noticed for the first time that she was embracing Ryou’s arm, also that it was pressed firmly against her chest was realized. Kya, Erika that realized it, parts from Ryou’s arm in a panic with her face bright red.
Erika looks at Ryou timidly, whose face has also become red. Ryou matched eyes with her and let out he really thought.
“No, its fine……, it was a side benefit”
Erika’ face becomes more red hearing that, coughing to clear her throat, she inquired uneasy about something.
“Hey, about that video……”
“Yes? Ah……, it was taken properly. If you want it to be erased just say so……”
“Um……, it’s not that”
Ryou didn’t understand what Erika was saying, Erika asked again with a smiling face.
“Since when was it taken? Can you show me?”
Ryou who hears those words notices his mistake, being self-conscious of what he did wrong, resigning himself, he handed over his cellphone.
Ryou avoids looking at Erika as she watches the video quietly, while thinking if there wasn’t a way to prevent hearing the sound that was leaking. When the video playback ends, Erika returned the cellphone back to Ryou. Something similar to smile became visible.
“It was taken very early wasn’t it?”
“Hm……?, ah, that’s right”
“I received you help so such a thing is difficult to say however, for what reason, didn’t you help earlier?
Ryou that saw Erika’s frightening smile felt that it could unreservedly enter into the worst ranking of smiling faces.
“That is, troublesome……, ahem, I thought you might be able to do something by yourself”
“Is that so? When my arm was caught, and I was resisting, how was it seen so in your eyes?”
“Ah……, I was rooting for you to persevere”
It was Ryou’s true feelings, there was no lie.
Erika faced Ryou’s front, smiling pleasantly, held her arms aloft, “Then help earlier!” while saying so she hit Ryou’s cheek.
Though it was possible to avoid, Ryou considered after how frightening it seemed to be, resigned himself, and received the beautiful girl’s slap.
Something painful is painful even if received on purpose, staggering lightly afterwards and waiting for the flickering in his eyes to calm down, haa, he sighed.
“My bad……, I was able to help earlier, but didn’t”
Erika who receives Ryou’s apology also returns an apology. Saying sorry though you saved me I glossed over it, again, you saved me, thank you, was once again said.
“The promise……, do you recall?”
“Promise……? Ah, yes, I know ‘not telling anybody what you did to those guys here’ isn’t it? But, is it really fine like this?”
“That is fine……, well then”
Ryou puts his glasses back on while answering, Erika who saw that asked him.
“Why don’t you use contact lenses?”
“This is, my presence……, no, I like glasses”
It seems like a bit of time had gone by being unadorned, the feelings of wearing glasses hadn’t changed. Ryou, whose true intentions almost came out, thought that he must quickly part ways with the beautiful girl in front of him.
“Is it so? I think it’s good without the glasses…………”
Erika said so while becoming slightly red, the voice tapered off gradually and Ryou couldn’t hear it.
Erika shook her head flustered.
“No, it’s nothing……, are we returning? You’re facing the station aren’t you?”
Ryou thought inwardly not to joke. If he walks side by side with such a girl towards the station, a rumor would spread by tomorrow, and the considerable effort and troubles up to now would come to nothing.
“No……, err, I remembered something I have to do at school, I’ll return for a little”
“Did you? Then, let’s go t-……”
Ryou interrupted Erika before she finished her words.
“No, it’s fine! Thank you, later then!”
Was said in a panic then he runs along the road towards the school.
“Keep the promise-” is produced with the Doppler effect.
Erika who had a dumbfounded appearance seeing him off muttered a very reasonable opinion.
“Normally, after helping a girl who was attacked, isn’t it good manners to escort her home for little bit?”