I figured you guys could use a change of clothes. Pretty sure I got your sizes right. Oh, I also managed to get your sword back. Try not to give it up so easily next time. I did come a long way to bring it to you after all. You can’t say I never did anything for you.
Ryuji sighed as he finished reading her sister’s note. He was thankful for the clothes, especially after he had just taken a shower and it would’ve been more than inconvenient to change back into his school uniform which he’d been wearing for the past three days now. That still didn’t explain why this new set of clothes all happened to be the same shade of blue. He was wearing blue pants with a pair of blue boots which had a white stripe trailing down the middle of each leg and a plain blue sleeveless shirt with a blue headband around his head. All things considered, he was thankful that it was just an ordinary pair of clothes with just a plain blue and white color scheme.
Ryuji’s single-edged zanbato leaned against the side of the red couch. He had to give up his sword as soon as he entered the Takagi Estate not that he minded. This place seemed secure enough and to be honest he was too busy babysitting the children with his kouhai to even notice its absence. Though, he supposed if his sister deemed it necessary to return it to him, he wouldn’t complain. He picked up the blade by the sword belt it was still sheathed in and donned it once more.
“Senpai, can you help me with this?”
Ryuji redirected his attention to his kouhai who happened to be changing in the bathroom. When his sister had left him alone them alone together, he was so caught up in the moment that he hadn’t realized the room had a private bathroom till he woke up the next morning. Oddly enough if it wasn’t for his sister’s interference, they probably would’ve ended up sleeping through the day again. “I’m coming in.”
Chihiro was wearing a pink kimono which had a simple floral pattern on it. She practically had the whole thing on already, but was having trouble putting on the obi which was a belt that tied the kimono together and also happened to be a darker shade of pink than the rest of the garment.
He took the obi from her and began to wrap it around her waist. “Couldn’t sis have found something more casual for you to put on?”
“I don’t have a problem with it. I’m just grateful to have some fresh clothes to wear, but it’s been a while since I’ve worn something like this.”
“You don’t have to be so polite all the time. It’s okay to complain every now and then too.” Ryuji suggested as he tied both ends of the obi together for her.
“If I did that, it would be like I was taking things for granted and that wouldn’t be fair to the people who weren’t as fortunate as I was.” Chihiro responded as she made some final adjustments to her garment.
“I’m sorry. That was thoughtless of me.” The third year apologized.
Chihiro turned around and faced her senpai for the first time today. “Please don’t apologize. You’re the reason I even managed to get this far after all.”
Ryuji was at a loss for words now that he got a good look at his kouhai. Maybe it was the fact that they spent so much time together over the past few days or being awkwardly pushed by his sister into spending last night alone with her or even just her recent change in outfit being what finally made him stop and notice just how special she was. Even before this, he had been catching himself stealing glimpses of her a lot lately without really meaning to.
“Is something wrong?” The first year asked.
Realizing he was just staring at her without saying a word, Ryuji decided to say what was on his mind. “I wouldn’t say that, but… you’re cute. I mean that kimono looks cute on you.”
Chihiro blushed at the compliment. “Oh, um… thank you.”
“Yeah, so… are you ready to leave?”
Meanwhile, in another part of the Takagi Estate…
Saya walked through the hallways of her home with a lot on her mind. She was wearing a new outfit consisting of a white short-sleeve buttoned blouse and a long black skirt with a pair of black boots.
“Good morning, Saya-chan.” Reo greeted.
The focus of all her thoughts was none other than the brunette smiling at her without a care in the world. “How can you be so cheerful this early in the morning?”
“What’s the matter? Not a morning person?”
Saya wasn’t in much of a mood for the brunette’s teasing, but she decided to endure it for now. Recomposing herself, she attempted pick up where they left off from last night. “Well putting that aside, I’m still waiting for an explanation.”
“I suppose just saying I’m a guardian angel isn’t going to cut it.”
“Are you trying to piss me off?” The pink-haired teen snapped as she seriously started to lose her patience.
“Oh, lighten up. I’m just messing with you.”
Feeling like she was getting nowhere, Saya decided to make her intentions as clear as possible. “Just so we’re on the same page, I’m not going to take no for an answer. I expect you to seriously explain yourself not just to me, but also to the group of people I came here with otherwise I won’t be satisfied.”
Reo knew all too well just how stubborn the girl standing before her could be, so she did the only sensible thing one in her position would do. “Alright, you win. I promise to tell you everything I know.”
Saya was surprised by her answer and even more so her sudden change in tone when she said it. She almost couldn’t believe it was that easy, but as long as she was going to get some answers then there was nothing more to say on the subject. She almost felt embarrassed getting so worked up about it. “Well, as long as you understand then it’s fine.”
Reo figured she’d leave it at that for now, until she noticed the slight tinge of red on the pink-haired teen’s cheeks. A golden opportunity had presented itself and she wasn’t going to waste it. “Saya-chan…”
“What is it now?”
Everything was set. It was now or never. “Your tsun is showing.”
It took a few moments for Saya to process Reo’s words, but once she understood exactly what was said, any trace of her brief moment of weakness was gone replaced only by a seething anger. Saya didn’t exactly understand herself why she was so irritated, but the way the brunette teased her in such a casual and carefree manner was really starting to get under her skin. Much like last night, she was this close to telling this cocky woman off.
“Good morning, Auntie Yuriko.” Reo greeted with a smile.
“Good morning, Reo-chan.” The Lady of the Takagi Household responded with the same amount of enthusiasm. She had long, light purple hair and eyes of matching color. She was dressed in typical aristocratic attire which consisted of a very expensive and tight-fitting red dress with a plunging neckline, a white cloth wrapped around her arms and mid to lower body, and silver necklace with a small charm on the front.
“I can see you two have a lot of catching up to do, so I’ll take my leave.” Reo stated taking a slight bow, before leaving.
Saya couldn’t believe it. That was the second time that the brunette not only made a fool of her, but the second time she got away with it as well. “Did she just say, Auntie Yuriko? Does she know my mother? Just who exactly is she?” Saya wondered as she was able to calm herself down and think rationally about the situation. As much as she hated to admit it, there was some truth to what the brunette said. Steeling herself, she attempted to start the conversation. “Good morning, Mama.”
Having had her fun for the morning, the brunette decided to check up on Saya’s friends. Reo thought it best to check up on Rei Miyamoto first, since she was recovering from a back injury. Being somewhat familiar with the layout of the mansion, she came to the guest room with relative ease.
Under the impression the girl she came to check on was under attack, Reo took a combative stance as she thrust opened door. She thought she was ready for anything only to be silenced by what was actually happening. A fully nude Rei was being ‘assaulted’ in a manner of speaking, by Shizuka who was rubbing some kind of ointment to her back while Takeshi held her down on the bed. It took a few moments for Reo to process what was actually happening and as the three of them noticed her presence, she came to a conclusion. “Oh, I get it. You guys are having a threesome.”
“We are not having a threesome!” Rei yelled clearly distraught by the brunette’s assessment of the situation.
“I’m applying some medicine to the road rash on her back to prevent it from getting infected.” Shizuka clarified as she continued to thoroughly spread the oily substance over the infected area.
“It hurts!” Rei screamed as she squirmed under Takashi’s hold.
The male teen was completely focused on keeping her from moving till the blonde nurse finished the application.
“I guess I’ll live you guys to it then.” Reo stated before backing out of the room and closing the door behind her. Having nothing better to do for the moment, she casually crossed her arms and leaned against a nearby wall.
A few minutes later…
“Get out you traitor!” Rei yelled effectively kicking Takeshi out of the room and slamming the door closed.
“Lover’s spat?” Reo asked.
“I guess you could call it that.” Takeshi sighed.
The brunette playfully punched his shoulder. “Oh, cheer up. Things could be worse, right?”
He couldn’t argue with that especially considering everything that’s happened so far. “Thanks again for what you did yesterday. I’m not sure what would’ve happened, if you hadn’t shown up when you did.”
“Don’t mention it.” She responded.
“Fine, you’re always right!”
Directing their attention to the source of the yelling, they saw Saya storming down the hallways. She was clearly in a foul mood and it wasn’t hard for Reo to figure out exactly why.
“What’s wrong, Takagi?” Takashi called out her.
“Didn’t I ask you to call me by my given name?”
“Oh, right. I’m sorry.” The male teen apologized.
“You’re a man, aren’t you? Don’t apologize for every little thing!” Saya shouted.
Takashi wasn’t sure why he was being yelled at, but for fear of pissing her off even further he stayed silent.
Noticing he wasn’t going to say another word, Saya took a deep breath and calmed herself down. Taking her frustrations out on him wasn’t going to get her anywhere.
“I know I’ve said this before, but you really are cute when you’re angry especially now that I get good look at you in broad daylight.” A familiar voice chimed in.
“What was that!?” Saya furiously looked around for the perpetrator who dared to poke fun at her. “Where are you!?”
“I’m right here.” Reo answered as she stepped out from behind Takashi.
The male teenager was sweating bullets as the atmosphere grew tenser by the second. He couldn’t tell if Reo was brave or just plain crazy to intentionally antagonize Saya like that.
Saya balled her hand into a fist seemingly struggling to contain her anger, before resolving to point as threateningly as she possibly could at the brunette. “You better keep your promise!”
“Of course I will, Saya-chan.” Reo smiled.
The pinkette sighed once more before taking her leave. At least the brunette was using her given name even though she didn’t give her permission too which was another issue entirely.
Seeing she was walking away without so much as explaining what was wrong, Takashi once again attempted to call out to her. “Hey, Ta… I mean Sa…”
Takashi expected that sort of response, but he figured it didn’t hurt to try. “Geez, what’s her problem?”
When Saya was completely out of sight, Reo dropped her smile. “Why won’t you call her by her first name?”
The male teenager was caught off guard by the serious question especially since the person asking has done nothing, but joke around so far. Seeing the usually carefree brunette being unusually serious all of a sudden was jarring to say the least.
“Is it really that hard to do, even though she wants you too?” She pressed him for an answer.
“It just felt like the right name to call her by at the time.” He meekly responded.
“So basically you’re intimidated by her because of her wealth or family background or some ridiculous reason like that.”
Takeshi couldn’t really deny it, when it was so said so plainly to his face like that. This was the first time he had come to Saya’s house and it was like he stepped into an iron fortress. There’s no way he couldn’t be intimidated to some extent. “What about you? Why do you address her so casually?”
“Isn’t it obvious? It’s because we’re childhood friends.”
“Are you serious?” He asked to confirm whether or not she was messing with him.
“I can assure you Reo-chan is speaking the truth.” Yuriko said reaffirming the brunette’s response as she approached them.
“Auntie Yuriko, I guess things didn’t go so well between you and Saya-chan.” Reo stated as casually as ever.
“Unfortunately no, I really upset her this time. I’m sorry if my daughter troubled you.”
“It’s fine. I’ve known her since kindergarten, so I’m used to it.” Takashi said hoping to reassure the lady of the house.
This was news to Reo as she had no idea Takashi and Saya were childhood friends as well. “You’ve known her since kindergarten and still address Saya-chan by her last name? No wonder you have so much trouble with women.”
Takashi didn’t really know how to respond to that. Without even trying the brunette had basically verbally defeated him. If there was a fork nearby he was sure it would be stuck in him because he was done. “No comment.”
“You’ll have to forgive Reo-chan. She’s always been blunt when it came to stating what’s on her mind. Even my daughter has a hard time dealing with her sometimes.” Yuriko explained.
Reo placed her hands on her hips and puffed her chest out with confidence. “I’m proud to say that Saya-chan has never once beaten me in an argument.”
“If I didn’t see it for myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’ve never been able to win an argument against her once since kindergarten.” Takashi stated.
“That’s just sad Takashi.” Reo responded.
Yet another blow to the male teenagers pride. It might as well have been a punch to his stomach.
“Maybe I went a little too for with that last remark. I can see you’re struggling with this so I’ll give you some advice on how to handle Saya-chan. It’s guaranteed to work or your money back.”
“Achoo!” In another part of the house Saya sneezed. Someone must’ve been talking about her behind her back.
Stopping what she’s doing, the pinkette went towards the scream. Looking around the corner, she spots Ryuji and Chihiro down the corridor. From her perspective, it seemed like he had caught the first year before she tripped and was helping her up.
“That was close. Are you alright?” He asked.
“I forgot how hard it is to walk in a kimono. I’ll be fine if I take it step by step.” She responded.
Seeing his kouhai struggle more than she was try to let on, Ryuji did the only thing he could think of and extended his hand to her. “Would it help if you held onto me?”
“If it’s not too much trouble then I’d like to take you up on that.” Chihiro hesitantly took his hand before quickly closing the distance and practically started clinging to his arm.
Ryuji was surprised to say the least. He figured they’d just be holding hands like they usually did. It felt strange thinking of something like that as normal to him or the idea that he’d get used to holding hands with his kouhai. However, this was on another level. “Chihiro…”
The first year realized how bold she was being and this was extremely embarrassing for her, but she couldn’t take it back now. “I’ll be in your care, Senpai.”
Realizing she was counting on his help, he accepted, “Leave it to me.” He slowed his walking speed to match her pace as they continued onward. It was a little tricky walking like this, but it was nice in its own way.
Saya who happened to be spying on them from around the corner couldn’t help getting frustrated at what she just witnessed. “It’s like watching one of those awkward high school romance anime otakus seem to rave about. It’s obvious to anyone they like each other, just hurry up and confess already.”
“Saya, what are you doing?”
Saya turned her attention from the idiot couple to the fat gun otaku standing in front of her. He carried a large bag of all the weapons they acquired from Rika’s house some of which happened to be partially showing. “It’s nothing worth mentioning. What have you been up to? Messing around with your guns again?”
“How did you know? I guess that’s our group’s genius for you.” Kohta responded genuinely impressed by her deduction.
“Are you complimenting me or making fun of me?” She asked with a slightly annoyed expression.
“It was supposed to be a compliment.” He clarified hoping she wouldn’t go into another one of her moods.
Feeling like he dodged a bullet with the pinkette’s mood swings, Kohta decided to change the subject since he had some good news of his own to share. “Anyway, you’ll never guess who I ran into.”
Saya wasn’t expecting much from the gun otaku to be honest, but she had a few minutes to spare and it wouldn’t hurt to at least hear him out. “It must be someone amazing if you’re bringing the topic up.”
“I just talked to my teacher from Blackwater USA.”
“What’s a mercenary from an American contractor doing here?” She asked as her interest was finally piqued.
“He said he was escorting a school full of elementary school of girls to a shelter when he and the class he was with got separated from the others by a group of ‘them.’ Long story short they took a detour and ended up here.” Kohta explained.
That certainly sheds some light on why a whole class of children were staying at her house, but it couldn’t have been a coincidence that a mercenary was sent to assist with evacuating the same school Ryuji and Chihiro were at. More importantly why was he even sent to an elementary school in the first place? She needed more information. “I suppose you wouldn’t know who ordered him to do such a thing, huh?”
“He said Reo asked him to do it as a favor.”
It was surprising to hear Reo’s name come up, but even more so that a mercenary would give up their employer’s name like that so easily. She had to wonder if Kohta was really good friends with him or this ‘mercenary’ was just an idiot. Either way, she got a lot more out of this than she was hoping for. “That was some really useful information, I’m actually impressed.”
Now it was his turn to be confused. Words of praise were a rare occurrence from this girl, so he just had to make sure he wasn’t misunderstanding anything. “Was that supposed to be a compliment or-”
“It was a compliment!” She shouted in frustration.
“Thank you.” He responded hoping his words of gratitude would smooth things over.
Saya took a deep breath to calm to herself before walking away. “Just shut up and follow me.”
A bewildered Kohta followed closely behind her. “Where are we going?”
“We’re going to hold a meeting with the others and finally get some answers from Reo.”
“Achoo!” Meanwhile, Reo and Takeshi having finished their conversation with Yuriko were walking toward Rei’s room. “I wonder if Saya-chan is talking about me.”
“I admire your confidence.”
Reo could tell Takeshi was nervous. Who wouldn’t be after hearing out what Yuriko had to say? Things were only getting worse in the city and it was only a matter of time before they lost electricity and water. So Yuriko and her husband planned to the power plant with anyone who has the will to survive and take full responsibility of water and electricity for the city. All she wanted Takeshi to do was persuade their daughter to trust them hence his nervousness. “There’s no need to be so worried. I’m sure you’ll be fine if you follow my advice.”
The male teenager couldn’t tell if she was joking around or being serious. The supposed ‘advice’ she gave him was likely to get him killed or worse. “I’m pretty sure only you’re the only person who could actually make that work.”
“You think so?”
Before the brunette could get anymore strange ideas, Takeshi changed the subject. “Still I was surprised to learn that you two were childhood friends as well. I wonder why she hasn’t said about it anything yet.”
Reo actually wondered this herself, but figured that between how long it’s been and the world ending that recognizing an old childhood friend was very low on the Saya’s priorities right now. “Well it has been a few years since I last visited. She probably doesn’t recognize me.”
Having made it to their destination the both of them stopped in front of the door to Rei’s room.
“Do you mind keeping this between us for now?” The brunette asked.
It seemed like a simple favor and Takeshi saw no reason to refuse her. “I don’t mind, but may I ask why?”
Reo took a deep breath as if mentally preparing herself to say something awkward and embarrassing. “I’d prefer it if Saya-chan remembers on her own and it’d just be embarrassing to tell her at this point.”
“Your secret is safe with me.” The male teen responded hoping the clichéd phrase would set her mind at ease.
Reo playfully hit his shoulder, before placing her hand on the knob. “Well look at you. Let’s go inside, everyone is waiting for us.”