*yaaaaaawn* *sniffle* Next chapter… *blows nose*
Shoguya Residence, Taeke's Room, April 8th 2020
I was crouching low on my desk and writing down notes from my textbook. It was morning. If you're wondering why I'm not in school right now, because of the incident two days ago, the school decided to give the students time to recover from the shock, as well as for them to fix some parts of the school.
Sure they said we didn't have to go to school, but I'm cramming anyway. There was only one thing that supported my reputation in school, and that's my grades. I usually get 90s on tests, without that I would be seen as the most useless guy in school. I don't talk to people I'm not familiar with so much; Yuki is practically the only person I spend time with.
I examined my textbook and found a kanji character I wasn't familiar with. Just when I was going to look it up, Tokiko barges in.
"Hey, bro! Whatsup?" she says as she jumps onto my bed.
"Oh, Tokiko, perfect timing; do you know what this character is?" I handed her the textbook and pointed at the character.
"Hmm… that's the kanji for 'language', isn't it?" I was kinda surprised. That's one of the characters that they teach in grade school. How could I forget that one?
"Really?" I examined the character closer. She was right. I guess my forgetful side is showing "Oh, you're right, thanks, sis."
"How could you forget such a simple character?" she says as she rolls over and lies on her back.
"You know me; I'm a little forgetful,"
"Yeah, that's your cute side," I jumped at in my sit at that comment. I also couldn't help but blush with embarrassment. I think Tokiko noticed.
"Ohohoho….pushed your buttons, did I?" she said with a cat smile.
"Whatever…" I turned back to my desk.
Speaking of my forgetful side, I just remembered I forgot something else; the book that Ms. Kano threw at me the day of the incident. Misaki said that I should return the day after, but I guess she didn't know about the school closing down. I was planning on reading it. I took it out of my bag and took some time looking at the cover. "S4 League Regulations"… sounds like a rule book. I opened it and looked at the table of contents. Introduction, Basic Rules, equipment… sounds normal, until… Death Match Mode, Touch Down Mode, Captain Mode… what the? This looks more like a rule book for a game instead of an underground organization.
"Whatcha have there?" Tokiko said, looking up from her – or rather, my – manga.
"Uhh… a guide book for a new game I got," I didn't even have to lie 100% to cover this one up.
"Oh? What's it called?" this is a little harder… making up names isn't really what I'm good at. Well… since she doesn't now about the league, I guess telling her the real name wouldn't be much harm.
"S fo…" before I finished I just remembered something. Didn't Ms. Kano say that she was going to assign spies to keep an eye on me? I wonder if even saying the league's name would be a violation. I felt a sudden chill down my spine… I can't risk it…
"S fo… Es fo… Esfola… rio! Esfolario! It's like an action RPG," I said quickly. Did she buy it?
"Oh, ok," she said nonchalantly, and then she went back to the manga. Phew, that was close. Back to the book; the content here really does sound like it's for a game. Maybe it was a rulebook from back when it was still a sport. I started reading it from Basic Rules. If I were to join the league, I want to know what it was before it became an underground organization fighting for public peace, and if I don't join… they're going to erase my memory anyway, so if I read it, the situation will go fine either way.
A few hours passed by.
"Hey, Taeke," I heard Tokiko say behind me.
"When are we going back to school?"
"I don't really know. They told us to stand by till further notice."
"I see…" why does she want to know anyway? "In that case," she closed the manga and stood up "You wanna go out?"
"Hah!" that was sudden! "W-w-why…?"
"Why not, it's not like either of us have anything better to do. I'll even call up Yuki and ask her to join, whadaya say?" well… it's true that I have nothing else to do… *sigh* what the hell, I'll give it a try.
"Cool, I'll go take a shower and then call Yuki. You tell Mom and Dad that we're going out."
"Wait," I stopped her before she left the room "Do you even have Yuki's number?"
"Of course I do. We kept her homephone number after we moved, remember?" oh yeah, I do remember that. I never used her homephone number ever since we both got cellphones though.
"Right, I'll go take a shower now. No peeking~!"
"Why would I even try!"
"Hmhm~" she left with a giggle. I can't believe she's my closest relative; she's nothing like me.
Northern Tokyo Train Station, 15:15
"Here you go, Tae," Tokiko came back with two packs of takoyaki and handed one to me.
"Thanks," it's been awhile since I ate takoyaki. I almost never have time to buy these on a school day since I have to catch the train and Tokiko always sleeps in.
"This is good. Maybe we should eat this for breakfast on schooldays," Tokiko suggested.
"This isn't enough to start of the day with; besides, the takoyaki stand doesn't open till ten in the morning."
"Too bad," we got here early and Tokiko said she was a little hungry. I was saving my appetite for the restaurant we're going to, but takoyaki doesn't fill me up too much so I got one too. Right now we're waiting for Yuki to show up.
"What's taking your girlfriend so long?" Tokiko blurted out.
"She's not my girlfriend. We agreed to meet here at 15:30; its still 15:20 so, chill."
"I hate waiting," she said as she put an entire piece of takoyaki into her mouth.
I examined my sister from head to toe. At home, she usually wears a tank top that's almost twice her actual size and girl shorts. Now she's wearing a very athletic looking outfit consisting of the same tank top she was wearing earlier with a half-zipped up white jacket patterned with a blue stripe and short cargo pants. She also has her shoulder length chestnut hair tied into a ponytail with strands of hair hanging from both sides of her face. She actually looks pretty good.
"What're ya lookin at?" she said while biting a piece of takoyaki "Don't tell me you're falling for your elder sister."
"Would you stop it with those tasteless jokes!" she giggles and goes back to her takoyaki. Jokes aside, now that I look at her, she's a really cute girl. I'm surprised she doesn't have a boyfriend yet.
As for me, I was wearing a grey shirt with the collar up and jeans. I also have my white hair in its usual style. If you're wondering why I have white hair while my sister has brown, her chestnut hair is a combination of our parents dark brown and white hair while mine comes completely from my mother. My mom says it's really nice to have white hair, since when you get older; it's hard to tell the grey hairs from the white.
"Tae-tae! Kiko-nee!" I heard someone shout. My sister, conveniently done with her snack, looks up.
"It's Yuki!" she says. We both stood up as Yuki approached.
"I'm sorry we kept you waiting," she said while switching views from Tokiko to me.
"It's… no trouble," I reassured her. I was blushing. Yuki was in a fashionable top that reveals her shoulders with a skirt and leggings. She didn't do anything to her long blue hair, but it looks good anyway. I think I was spacing out; Yuki had a confused look on her face.
"What's wrong, Tae-tae?" she said as she tilted her head. Damn, that's too cute! I blushed and looked away.
"I-it's nothing… you look good in that, Yuki…" I said as I scratched my right lower cheek.
"T-thanks…" I think she was blushing too cuz her voice was flustered.
"Aww… Yuki-chan, you've grown up so much. Especially over here," at this point I turned my head back towards Yuki, and then I saw Tokiko tapping Yuki's chest. I blushed even more now.
"Ah! Don't do that, Kiko-nee!" she blushed even more than I did. She quickly raised her arms to cover her torso and turned away.
"Well… there's still some time till our train gets here, do you want some takoyaki, Yuki?" I offered her.
"Oh, sure," she got her usual cheery expression back and nodded.
"I'll go get you a pack," then I ran towards the takoyaki stand.
While Taeke is away
I reached into my purse to get my wallet. When I looked up, Tae-tae was gone.
"Where did Tae-tae go?" I said with a comical face.
"He went to get your takoyaki," Kiko-nee responded. Whaaaat!
"But I haven't given him the money to buy them!"
"Don't worry, he has money,"
"Would you stop worrying? I'm sure he was planning on treating you anyway, c'mon; let's sit down," Kiko-nee sat down on the bench around a pillar and tapped the space next to her. I sat down.
"So, how've ya been this spring break? How was your birthday?" she asked.
"I've been doing really well, Tae-tae came over on my birthday and even got me Pom-bomb's sixth CD!"
"The sixth! But I it's not even released yet!"
"Tae-tae managed to get his hands on one, just for my birthday too!" I was really overjoyed talking about the memories. I even rested my head on my hands and kicked the air while saying it. Kiko-nee then smiled. She leaned back, folded her arms, and crossed her legs.
"You like Taeke, don't you?" I jumped in my seat.
"Hah!" that was really sudden! "Well… of course I like him; we've been friends ever since we were little kid, haven't we?"
"You know that wasn't what I meant," at this point, I was practically choking. I noticed someone walking towards us.
"One pack please. Medium," I said to the stand worker.
"Coming right up," the worker then went to the grills to get my order. I leaned towards the counter while waiting. Someone wearing a fisherman's hat walked towards the counter space next to me.
"One small, please," he ordered.
"Just a minute," the clerk said. The person next to me was standing up straight, unlike me.
"Glad to see that you're keeping your word," I looked at him. He was faintly familiar, but since I remember recently meeting only one guy, I knew who it was.
"Kenji Daisuke?" I asked.
"You know it," he said with a smile and while slightly raising the brim of his hat. I know that I only just met him, but there was an atmosphere around him that says "I'm a friendly senpai!"
"Don't you have other things you want to do on your time off, senpai?" I said.
"Of course I do, but what sensei wants, sensei gets," he said while raising his shoulders.
"Sounds like she can be a real pain,"
"You know it! Misaki isn't such an angel either; she's so scary I even take orders from her, a senior taking orders form a freshman!"
"I've noticed," I said with a slight grin. I've never had this kind of conversation before. A genuine guy to guy talk… it also kinda feels like talking to an older brother.
"Here you are boys. A medium for you, snow head, and a small is your choice, right, fisherman?" …. snow head…? "That'll be 300 yen for the medium and 200 yen for the small," Daisuke-senpai and I both reached into our pockets to get our wallets. I was still searching my wallet for a 300 yen when senpai put 500 yen on the counter. I looked at him.
"I'm paying for your pack, don't worry, as a senpai it's the least I could do," he smiles and walks away. I took out three 100 yen coins out of my wallet.
"Senpai!" I called him before he got too far away and threw the coins towards him. He caught them all with one swipe of his hand "No need to pay for it; this isn't for me anyway, thanks for the offer though!" he smiled and nodded, then walked away. He's a really good guy. I guess I wouldn't mind working with him.
… I haven't given it much thought, whether I'll join the league or not, I'm not sure whether I'm cut out for this kind of thing. I know that Ms. Kano didn't give me a specific deadline, but I guess she'll be asking me for an answer when school starts again.
I was about to walk back to Yuki and sis when the clerk stopped me.
"Snow head, you mind giving this to fisherman?" I turned back and saw him handing me some kind of coin "It looks like he mistook it for money, you mind giving it back to him? You seem to be a friend of his," I took the coin. When I got a better look at it, I discovered that it wasn't a coin. It was some kind of pin. I looked at the pattern on the surface. It was a letter… S… and a number… two. S2? I was pondering what it is and then I realized, an S2 Badge!
"Uh… yeah, I'll make sure he gets it back," I told the clerk.
"Ok, good. Come again, Yukitou!" now he's made up a nickname for me… yukitou means "Snow head" by the way. I put the badge into my pocket as I walked back towards Yuki and sis.
"Ok, Yuki, I got you a medium, I hope it's alright," I said as I reached them. I noticed the weird speechless face Yuki has on.
"Yuki?" I lowered myself to get a better look at her. I guess that snapped her out of it.
"O-oh, Tae-tae… you got the takoyaki?"
"Yeah, here…" she grabbed the pack and stood up. She ate the grilled octopus very nervous like.
"You okay?" I asked
"What? Yeah, of course, never better! Uh…uhm… look! Our train's here! Let's get on!" she said it very quickly and with a nervous smile. She walked ahead of us towards the waiting line for the train.
"Whatsup with her?" I asked Tokiko.
"Oh… who knows~?" she said with a playful tone "We shouldn't leave her alone, come on, lets go,"
Monorail Train, 15:45
I was standing up and trying to control the shockwaves of the monorail. There was only enough room on the seats for two of us; naturally I offered to be the one standing up.
I held onto the handle as the monorail rumbles and shakes. I was still pondering on something; whether to join the league or not. I want to find out what happened that night, I also want to protect the people I care about, but… what if I'm not strong enough? What if I end up having people depending on me and then I let them down? I don't want that to happen. I pat the pocket that has the S2 Badge in it. Why did Daisuke-senpai give this to me? Maybe it was honestly just a mistake and he left it there by accident? These questions ringing in my head without an answer, then… I remember I have another question. I looked at Yuki.
"Yuki," I said.
"Y-yes?" I think she was thinking about her own stuff cuz she was eating her takoyaki while keeping her head down.
"Do you remember what happened on the day of the school incident?"
"Uhm… no, now that you mention it," … why did she have to had her memory erased? The feeling of someone forgetting time with you… it's somewhat disturbing.
"Déjà vu! He asked me the same thing yesterday! Even though it was about the day before the incident," Tokiko added.
"Oh really? That's so weird," Yuki commented.
"REALLY weird…" Tokiko gave me a disturbing glance "You didn't do… anything serious during those days, did you?"
"No, I was just wondering," then I returned to my own thoughts. I noticed Tokiko grumble. I really need to think about this hard, but there's really no need to think about it now. I'm going out to have fun with my sister and childhood friend, I should at least put on a smile as to now ruin their fun. I looked at them without moving my head, their both smiling, looks like they're having a fun conversation.
While Taeke is in his thoughts
"… and then I went on the rollercoaster and threw up twice from the same ride!" I was having a good time, even though we haven't actually done what we're planning, talking to this girl is really fun; I can see why Taeke kept being friends with her for ten years.
"I hope you threw up AFTER you got off,"
"Well… I would say that I did, but then I would be half lying," she said as she scratched he cheek. This girl is so cute! She even considers me to be her own sister. Ah the warmth I feel inside my heart when she calls me "Kiko-nee". I wish Taeke would call me that, but I guess it doesn't fit his personality anyway.
While Yuki was resting from laughing so hard, I looked at Taeke. What in the world does Yuki see in him? Is it his looks? I guess he's so-so. Is it his charm? Yeah right. Is it his… nah, this girl isn't the one that would be interested in that stuff. Well, she's his childhood friend anyway, I'm sure she sees something that I don't.
Ever since the incident two days ago, Taeke's been acting weird. He doesn't seem to be his usual self. How can I describe it? Call it… sister's intuition. I just can feel this kind of stuff.
*sigh*… I need something to pass time some time with. Guess I'll just poke some fun out of my little brother and "sister".
"Hm? What is it, sis?"
"Why so quiet? Yuki's feeling a little lonely y'know,"
"H-huh! No I'm not, Kiko-nee!" there it is; the reaction of the cute little sister I love so much.
"Is it true, Yuki?" he asked.
"Y'know, if you want to talk with me, I don't mind," hello? What's this? I raised an eyebrow with intrigue.
"R-really?" I saw her eyelids open wide and she showed such a cute little smile.
"We didn't really get a chance to talk to each other recently anyway, we have a lot of catching up to do, do we?" my brother said as he showed a rare smile. How sweet. I could see how happy Yuki was to hear that. Now that I think about it, that's one of his undeniable traits; my brother has a heart of gold, no matter how he looks or acts, he really is a nice person.
As those two talk their time away, all I can do is smile and look out the window. We're almost at the next station.
Central Tokyo Mall, Food Court
"That'll be 2000 yen please," the cashier confirmed. I reached into my pocket and took out my wallet. I picked out two 1000 yen bills and handed them to the cashier. When I put my wallet back into my pocket, I touched the S2 Badge. I took it out and stared at the green badge as the slightly dull S2 insignia reflected the light. I've been thinking too much. I thought about the league all the while on the train, while we walked here from the station, and even right now! I gotta remember that I don't have to decide right now! All I have to think about is having fun with Yuki and my sister.
"Thank you, please come again," I nodded slightly and took the tray over to our table.
"About time," Tokiko commented.
"It was a long line. Tokiko, you ordered pack A, right?"
"Yeah," I handed that to her.
"So, the E pack goes to Yuki, and I get the C pack goes to me," I gave Yuki her platter, took mine and put the tray on the middle of the table. I sat down next to Yuki.
"Thank you for the food!" we all said in unison. We were eating bento boxes from Bento Barn. Crappy name, I know, but their food isn't bad.
"What're we gonna do after this? Wanna go do some shopping?" Tokiko suggested.
"Shopping? I don't think it'll be fair for Tae-tae," I was touched that Yuki considered my feelings.
"It's alright, shopping is fine. I'm game for anything," I said as I put a piece of yakiniku into my mouth.
"Okay then, shopping it is! Y'know though, Tae, it's alright if you wanna do something else though," as she said this, Tokiko was pointing at me with her chopsticks as if accusing me of something.
"No, I don't have anything I want to do, really," I assured her. They seemed to have gotten the idea, so they went back to their bentos. Over the meal, we talked about lots of things. We did some catching up on things and discussed some other things. I think I'm finally starting to forget about the league and having fun now. Then there was an explosion.
"What was that!" Tokiko screamed. So much for that…
*looks up* hey there… *goes back to sleep*