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So, it's been quite a while since I've written anything, but I've recently rewatched the entirety of the Monogatari series to prepare for Owarimonogatari's Second Season which is coming in July. Owarimonogatari's first season's first half focused on Ougi and Sodachi for the most part, and while Ougi gets, and is going to get, more character development, Sodachi's been written off on a bus. I wanted to do more than write a simple omorashi story, so I wanted to think of what happened to her after she transferred schools. Even though this is a fanfiction, since Sodachi is being written about through the eyes of someone who doesn't know her, you don't need to have seen Owarimonogatari to know her. As an aside, I highly recommend the Monogatari series to any of you anime-watchers out there. It's, to this day, my favorite anime series. (Yes, even over To Aru, but that might change if we could GET TO ARU SEASON THREE ALREADY COME ON J.C. STAFF).

Ahem.

Without further ado, here's the first installment of an Omorashi-centered spin off fanfiction to the Monogatari Series.

-------------------------

Sodachi Locked

 

Oikura Sodachi was a very eccentric person.

Well, I’m saying that as a person who doesn’t know much about her, so maybe it’s a bit erroneous to speak like I know her as a person. But to the outside observer-- in other words, to someone like me-- to say Oikura Sodachi was an eccentric person was actually a bit of an understatement.

She had transferred to our school a week ago.

There was less than six months until graduation, but even with that being the case, she had transferred schools like it was the beginning of the school year or something.

I don’t know all her history. Apparently Sodachi attended Naoetsu Private High School previously. Well, I say attended, but if you looked at her attendance record, it was actually pretty poor. Some sort of incident happened in her first year, and she found herself unable to go to that school. She had, instead of attending classes, opted for homeschooling.

That was, until a month ago, when she returned to Naoetsu for a few days.

It was only a few days, and then, for a reason only she knows, she transferred schools here.

I can’t say it was something I was particularly thrilled about.

My name is Takashiro Haru, and I’m the class representative of my current class.

It’s not like I particularly wanted to be or anything. It was something that had been entrusted to me by the previous class representative, who stepped down a month into the school year. I can’t say I was thrilled about taking the position, either, but I learned the circumstances behind that ex-class rep’s reason for stepping down. It seemed a little hard to believe at the time, but she had been cursed with something not entirely mundane.

In other words, supernatural.

In other words, an “oddity”.

Well, I wasn’t in any sort of position to help her with that.

To make a long story short, that ex-class rep stepped down to deal with her “curse” and I stepped up to fill her spot.

In other words, I’m merely a stand-in. But it’s precisely that I know I don’t belong in the position of class representative that I work extra hard to stop people from saying bad things about me.

Simply for the sake of that ex-class representative, who I can’t help but I don’t want to let down, I’ve become something of a respectable class representative in her stead, although I’m only the fill-in. In fact, I’ve even heard people say I’m a better class rep than her, though I don’t take that kind of thing lightly.

In other words, I’m a fake who’s become even more real than the authentic article.

Well, that’s not really important.

Oikura Sodachi.

Her presence bothers me.

I say that mostly from a class representative’s standpoint. It’s kind of inconsiderate to transfer to a new school out of the blue, especially this deep into the year. Sodachi’s presence has already had a negative impact on the class, which I’m sure has had a negative impact on her in return.

Basically it comes down to the fact that, after a certain point, people become used to the people in their class. Transferring in carelessly, especially for third years, who have gotten used to not only those in their class, but also those attending their school in the first place-- at least, to some extent-- is like uprooting everything they know about their school.

Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

Still, the fact that Oikura Sodachi is an unfamiliar person has definitely negatively impacted how the class feels. Ultimately, I’m the one who has to clear that up, and if I wanted to go above and beyond, I’d even be expected to reach out to Sodachi and try to welcome her.

It’s not like I can’t do that.

I just really rather not.

That may seem rude of me, but in truth, it was a feeling that stemmed not as the class representative, but as a person.

The first conversation I ever had with Sodachi had been, in short, a total disaster.

Without going into too many details, I said something relatively careless.

Well, rather than saying something careless, I had made an offhanded joke about mathematics.

I meant it in a light-hearted sense, and I had no way of knowing the kind of respect she held for mathematics (actually, as someone who’s not very good at mathematics in the first place, I think I would’ve wound up joking about it regardless), but I’m pretty sure she took it as the gravest of insults.

I’m pretty sure that, rather than feeling welcomed by the class representative, thanks to that one mishap where I insulted the most sacred of school subjects, she absolutely despises me.

Well, saying “absolutely” before “despises” gives it the impression that she hates me like I killed her parents.

That really isn’t the case.

It’s more like every time we interact, she makes it a point to be as intentionally cruel as possible.

With her twintailed hairstyle, I’d almost say she’s a tsundere, but that would imply that there’s any warmth in her heart for me at all.

I’m not that deluded.

Even if she had some thread of forgiveness for me, even if she could find in her the slightest soft spot for the class representative that mocked the glorious subject of mathematics, I’m sure that’s all gone now.

After all, the situation we’ve gotten ourselves into is something I’m sure she’s already blamed on me.

In short, we were trapped in a classroom.

“The doors won’t budge, the windows won’t budge, and I doubt anyone would hear us if we called out,” I noted aloud after trying in vain to open the sliding door to Classroom 4-B. It was on the second-to-top floor of the school building, and the sun was already starting to set, meaning there probably wasn’t anyone around. Anyone with classroom duty would’ve gone home by now, and all of the club rooms were on the first floor of the school building (not that any of the clubs would run this late anyway).

“I honestly don’t even know why you needed to be here! Even if it’s a new school, classroom duty is classroom duty. I’m not incompetent to the extent I can’t figure out how to stack desks and clean floors,” Sodachi complained.

I let out a heavy sigh, “Even if you say that, it’s my responsibility as Class Rep to make you feel welcome. Besides, there’s stuff you wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t here. Like where the cleaning supplies are or how the desks are arranged.”

“Even a moron can figure out that cleaning supplies are stored in the back locker,” Sodachi pointed out, “And the arrangement of the desks is about as normal as you could get. I would’ve done fine without you.”

“Well, even so, it’s something I was expected to do as the Class Rep, so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t act like it’s such a burden to you.”

“So, you admit that you’re only here out of an obligation? You only helped me to look good in front of your peers?”

“Well, I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing something out of obligation. Is there any difference in value between help given because of obligation and help given out of kindness? Actually, wouldn’t it be worse if, instead of me doing this out of an obligation to make you feel more comfortable in this school, that I did it because I seriously pitied you?”

“There’s absolutely nothing to pity me about.”

“Someone who transfers schools this late into their third year, after an extended absence, definitely has something worth feeling sorry for them over. Whether it’s something that personally bothers you anymore or not, there’s no way you’re life up until now has been ‘normal’.”

“Well, even if you’re right about that, I still don’t understand why it had to be you, of all people, that I got trapped in this classroom with.”

“Shouldn’t you be wondering why you had to get trapped in the classroom in the first place?”

“To be fair, being trapped in a locked room doesn’t bother me.”

“Hey now! Don’t say such a dark thing so casually with no emotion, especially if you don’t want to be pitied.”

“At least there’s windows in this room.”

“You’re doing it on purpose now, aren’t you!?”

“Unfortunately, there’s you in this room too, Takashiro-san.”

“Are you saying you’d rather be trapped in a dark room than trapped in this room with me?”

“I’m saying windows are positive one, and you’re negative one, so you two cancel out and we get zero.”

“But isn’t the situation still negative because we’re trapped?”

“Well, zero isn’t a very positive-sounding number either, though that’s less due to the mathematical nature of zero and more due to the cultural and psychological implications of nothingness.”

“But someone like you, who loves mathematics so much, wouldn’t settle for that kind of answer. Right, Sodachi-san?”

“Don’t talk to me about mathematics so casually, you plebeian.”

“What era is this? Are you Archimedes?”

“Did you say Archimedes because you want to see me running through the streets naked?”

“That’s a stretch, especially for someone like me.”

“You were going to add something lewd like, ‘it’s not like you have anything to show off anyway, Sodachi-chan,’ weren’t you?”

“Since when did I become so casual towards my peers as Class Rep? No, more specifically, when did I become that kind of perverted character in the first place!?” I yelled. Realizing I had gotten caught up in Sodachi’s cruel banter yet again, I let out a sigh and shook my head, “Either way, aren’t we just distracting ourselves from the main problem? We’re trapped in this classroom.”

“You were the one who said it was hopeless,” Sodachi pointed out, “The door’s locked, the windows are locked, and no one would hear us if we called for help.”

“Well, we could try to contact someone with our phones.”

“This isn’t a situation where calling the police is a good idea. They’ll laugh at us and scold us for misusing their services.”

“I meant contacting another student!” I shouted.

Sodachi looked at me expectantly, and I realized that, being a recent transfer student, she probably hadn’t made any connections with anyone at this school, meaning that it was up to me to contact someone.

There was only one person I could think of who might, if we were lucky, be at the school this late.

I dialed the name of the ex-class rep, who might have very well been resting in the clinic.

“Hey, Haru-kun,” a soft, weak voice answered, “What’s up?”

“Hey, Yuuki-chan, I wanted to know if you were still anywhere near the school,” I replied, crossing my fingers for some good fortune.

“Eh, sorry, I’m not. I’ve been--” Yuuki’s reply was cut off by the sound of a hoarse cough, “I’m resting at home right now. Why? Did something happen?”

“A-ah, no, nothing happened,” I lied, earning a glare from Sodachi, “I uh… I was just in the area, so I wanted to see if you wanted to go to the bookstore together if you were. I’ll just go by myself, then.”

“Ah,” Yuuki replied, “Well, thanks for the invite anyway.”

“I’ll let you rest,” I replied, and I hung up the phone.

“Do you want us to be stuck here forever?” Sodachi accused, glaring at me.

“Even if we were stuck here for the rest of the night, we’d be let out tomorrow when our teacher arrives,” I reminded the twintailed girl, “Besides, the last thing Yuuki-chan needs to do is to rush down here and overexert herself.”

“Mashino Yuuki?” Sodachi asked, tilting her head like a confused puppy, “You mean that brown-haired girl I’ve seen you with quite often? She definitely seems quite sickly. I had a classmate who acted a lot like her back at my old school. Well, until recently.”

For some reason, Sodachi rubbed her cheek with her hand, as though she were recalling a memory where someone had hit her.

“Yeah, I guess sickly is a way to describe it,” I replied coyly, “Though I  should say she’s not going to die or anything. Though, due to certain circumstances, I don’t think she’ll get better.”

Mashino Yuuki, the ex-class rep, was cursed.

It was a proper curse, so the only way to get rid of it was to redirect it to another person.

However, Mashino Yuuki was not the kind of person who would let another person suffer in her stead.

In other words, she had rejected seeking out help for the curse, and wound up shouldering that burden alone.

I don’t think I’ve quite gotten over that feeling of powerlessness I felt when I couldn’t convince her to do anything about it.

“Hmmm,” Sodachi frowned, “Well, I suppose you aren’t completely senseless. After hearing that, I can’t exactly blame you for not telling her our predicament.”

“You might not see me as this kind of person,” I began, taking a seat in one of the chairs, “but I do care about people. Even if it’s just to keep up appearances, someone like me wouldn’t be able to keep up this class rep business if I didn’t at least care about the well being of my peers.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

“Yeah.”

“You still managed to get us locked in this classroom!”

“I had nothing to do with us getting locked in! I don’t even know how we got locked in!”

“That’s something the person who inadvertently got us locked in a classroom together would say.”

“When you say something like that, there’s no way for me to refute your claims!”

“That’s the point, culprit.”

“You really despise me, don’t you?”

I narrowed my eyes and tossed Sodachi a dirty look, but what I saw was actually a bit surprising. Rather than glaring back up at me, the silver-haired girl was looking down, fidgeting with her skirt as she stood turned away from me.

Don’t suddenly change the tone of us getting locked in a room together by being bashful! That’s the on the opposite of verbal abuse and hatred!

But I soon realized that I was misreading things.

Or rather, it was the way Sodachi was rubbing her calf with her foot as she fidgeted that put the idea in my head that it was something entirely different in the first place.

Oikura Sodachi had been on classroom duty. So, when the last bell of the day rang and the other students packed up to go home, Sodachi had stayed behind in the classroom. That had been about three hours ago. Furthermore, the last class of the day was a mathematics class, so there was no way Sodachi would leave in the middle of that class period for any reason.

In other words, it had been at least 3 hours and 50 minutes since Sodachi was even free to use the bathroom, and that was assuming she took a break right before math. It’s not like I had been paying that much attention to what she was doing during break times, but I didn’t recall seeing her leave the classroom since lunch.

In other words, the possibility that Sodachi had to go to the bathroom existed.

I looked at the silver-haired girl, who was quietly fidgeting in place. She definitely seemed uncomfortable, but how much of that was from our current situation of being locked in a classroom together, and how much of that was her hypothetical need to pee, I wasn’t sure. Even after watching her out of the corner of my eye for a good minute, I couldn’t determine whether or not she had to go or if I was just misreading her restlessness.

Well, I suppose, as the class representative, ensuring the comfort of this new transfer student at our school is part of my duty. If I can’t figure out if she has to use the bathroom just by watching her, it’s my duty to find out so I may take action to alleviate her distress and make the classroom environment seem like a welcoming, hospitable one.

What I asked wasn’t out of any sort of personal curiosity. It was merely an attempt to fulfill my sacred duty, that was bestowed upon me by Yuuki, as class rep.

Yeah. That’s absolutely it.

“Sodachi-san,” I began, a little nervous despite my honorable intentions, “You seem a little restless. Is something wrong?”

“Yeah, we’re locked in a classroom together,” Sodachi shot back dryly.

“I mean besides that!” I clarified, though I don’t really think that was something that needed clarifying, “You could at least take a seat.”

Sodachi grabbed a chair as well and sat down in it swiftly. For the first few seconds, she seemed to stop fidgeting, and I thought my theory of her having to go to the bathroom was defunct. However, a few moments later, she began rubbing her knees together.

“We might wind up having to push desks together to sleep tonight,” I noted, “I don’t think there’s any other way out of here besides waiting it out.”

“That’s…” Sodachi frowned, squirming in her seat, “I don’t like the idea of spending a night in the same room with someone like you.”

“Neither do I, to be perfectly honest,” I replied, “Rumors will get out and Yuuki-chan will hate me forever. However, it’s not like we have much of a choice. We’re stuck. If we could get out, we would’ve already.”

Faced with those fair points, Sodachi was forced to swallow her own words.

“Still, this is kind of bad. I mean, we’re gonna run into problems eventually. For one, there’s no food in this classroom. There’s some water bottles in the back for emergency purposes, but that’s not gonna fill us up,” I paused, waiting to drop the final bomb, “Besides, there’s no toilets in here either.”

“That last part doesn’t need to be said!” Sodachi frowned, glaring at me.

“Oh?” I tilted my head, playing ignorant to the situation, “Sodachi-san, I didn’t think you were the kind of girl who got sensitive about those kinds of things.”

“It’s not about the subject matter, it’s that you said something unnecessary,” Sodachi scolded.

“Well, to be fair, I was stating the obvious the whole time anyway. Everything was kind of unnecessary.”

“So you’re admitting that everything you said was unnecessary?”

“Kind of, but” I paused, looking over at Sodachi, who seemed rather uncomfortable despite the fact that she was trying to insult me, “my point is, why’d you single out the subject of not having toilets in particular?”

“There’s no reason.”

If you’re not sensitive to the subject matter, then there’s probably a different reason, right?”

“I don’t see why this is even-”

“Could it be that, you, Oikura Sodachi, the proud girl who worships mathematics to the point of once trying to get everyone at her old school to call her Euler, are stuck in a situation where you have to use the bathroom but are unable to, because you’re trapped in a classroom with your class’s representative?”

At that, Sodachi’s eyes widened and she stopped squirming.

Or, more accurately, she tried to stop squirming. She managed to hold herself still for a few moments, but then she once again began rubbing her legs together and she gave me a truly pitiful look.

“I want to die.”

It was my turn to be surprised.

Rather, that was a very extreme reaction for even the silver-haired girl.

She tilted her head upwards, and her face was contorted into a soft, eerie smile. Her eyes betrayed no emotion, as though she didn’t care about anything anymore.

“I want to die. This is so humiliating. You, who has the nerve to sit here talking to me like we’re friends, who has the guts to talk about me like you know even the slightest thing about me, have to be trapped in this classroom together with me while I’m stuck here trying to hold it in. I’m stuck here, having to go to the bathroom while my enemy watches. I want to die.”

“Hey,” I leaned back, holding my hands up defensively like I had done anything wrong, “It’s not that bad! I mean, it’s natural for this kind of situation! That is… if you get stuck somewhere, you’re inevitably going to have to go, right? I mean, if we’re really gonna be stuck in here all night, I’m gonna have to go to, eventually! So it’s not like we’re not in the same boat! Rather, we should be focusing on finding something to use as a makeshift toilet for the night.”

“Absolutely not!” Sodachi shot down that idea, “There’s no way I’m peeing in the same room as you!”

“It’s not like you have a choice. If we’re truly stuck in here all night, there’s no way you’re gonna hold it in the whole time.”

“You underestimate my abilities!”

“It’s not a matter of your abilities, it’s a question of the limitations of the human body!”

I let out a heavy sigh. There was literally no reasoning with Sodachi at this point.

“Well, I’m going to look around the room for a container that I can use as a toilet for when I need to go. Don’t expect me to be as ridiculously stubborn as you when that time comes.”

So I said.

Not five minutes later, I pulled an old bucket out of the locker with the cleaning supplies. It was a spare, rather than the one we used to clean the floors, so no one would get too mad at us for using it as a toilet in this kind of situation.

I placed it in the corner and pointed to it for Sodachi, “I’d rather clean up a bucket tomorrow morning than the floor, and I doubt you’d want to sit in wet clothes for the rest of the night.”

“I’m not peeing in that.”

Sodachi rubbed her knees together and gazed at the bucket almost longingly, and for a second I figured she was gonna give in. But she took another look at me and turned her whole body away, scoffing.

I took a seat across the room from her, pulling out my phone and playing with it idly. I wasn’t planning on calling anyone else. In truth, I only had a handful of other people in my contacts list, and none of them were close enough that I’d consider calling them and asking them to run back to the school to bail us out. Besides, it was late enough that the school gates were probably closed by now. I wasn’t friends with anyone who would be willing to break into our school grounds just to unlock a door for me.

Well, Yuuki would, but…

Across the room, Sodachi was fiddling with her twintails as she bobbed up and down desperately.

“Don’t look at me with those pitiful eyes!” she snapped, glaring at me from across the room, “Stop staring at me in general, you pervert!”

“Even if you say that, I’m worried about you,” I replied, “Holding it in is supposed to be bad for your health.”

“That’s what they say, but of all the times I’ve been forced to hold it, I’ve never gotten sick,” Sodachi replied.

“You make it sound like you holding it is a bit of a habit for you.”

“Are you implying I do it intentionally? What kind of person do you think I am?”

“Even if you ask that, you did say you hold it in a lot.”

“I said I’ve been forced to, did I not?” Sodachi replied, glaring at me angrily, “I don’t want to discuss such unsavory things with the enemy, but my childhood was not a pleasant one. There were times when I would be locked in my bedroom for hours on end. If I tried to ask to come out to use the bathroom, I’d be yelled at. If I wet myself or made a mess on the floor, I’d be hit. Of course, that was back in middle school. After my parents split up, I was basically in charge of myself, so those days ended.”

I stopped.

This whole time, I was trying to mitigate the severity of being locked in a classroom.

Rather, I was trying to make it seem like being locked in a room for hours wasn’t that big of a deal.

To someone with the kind of childhood Sodachi had, the very situation probably brought about bad memories.

“Sorry.”

“Don’t pity me. You can’t change the past by showing me sympathy.”

“No, I mean, I’m sorry.”

Sodachi didn’t seem to understand what I meant, so I got to my feet and walked over to her.

“Sorry, Sodachi-san.”

I wrapped my arms around her in a hug and she let out a squeak of surprise. With my arms wrapped around her, I could feel her squirming, and her body was covered with a thin layer of sweat. The classroom wasn’t hot or anything, so I figured that was from the effort of her holding it in. From up close, I could hear her uneven breaths, and every now and then she’d moan quietly or inhale sharply.

I let go rather quickly, not wanting to make either of us any more uncomfortable than we already were, and stood back up. From our positions, Sodachi had to look up at me to meet my gaze, and likewise I was looking down at her.

Perhaps it was her pose, with her shoulders pointed inwards and her arms resting on her bouncing knees, or perhaps it was her slightly troubled, strained expression, but aside from the cold, strong-willed person that butted heads with me ever since she transferred into our class, Sodachi looked very vulnerable.

“What was that-”

“This whole time I’ve been thinking about how much of a nuisance you’ve been. You transferred so late into our third year… next term we’ll be taking college entrance exams, you know? Then on top of that, I was obligated as the class representative to try helping you adjust to school life here. I’ve been acting like you’re just some troublemaker with a bad attitude, but I never considered for a minute there might’ve been a reason for any of it. You’ve been abrasive, but I haven’t exactly been cordial either, right? Come to think of it, you probably didn’t want to get swept up from your old school either. It was probably happenstance, yet I treated it like it was your fault and resented you. So, please forgive me.”

After I said that, an uncomfortable silence filled the room.

Sodachi didn’t reply.

Instead, she kept staring up at me with a dull expression on her face.

Then…

“Ha…”

“....!?”

“Hahahahahaha! You idiot, if you make me laugh, I’ll wet myself.”

“What!?”

Sodachi’s eyes narrowed, “You resented me because I transferred here in the middle of our second term? I don’t care about that. You found my personality abrasive and you were cold towards me? That’s only natural. Out of all the things you apologized for, I don’t care about any of them.”

With a strong conviction, Sodachi said those words.

And then…

“The reason I hate you is simply because you insulted mathematics. You had the nerve to come before me and insult such a beautiful, logical subject. The reason I hate you runs no deeper than that. If you’re going to apologize for anything, apologize for that first!”

Sodachi removed her hands from her knees and crossed them over her chest to punctuate her point. She even managed to keep poised enough despite her situation to make it seem a little intimidating. It didn’t last long, however, and she started shaking a little bit afterwards.

Regardless.

“I’m sorry,” I bowed my head, “I’m sorry about that one comment I made. To be honest, I’m not really good at math, so I didn’t have any problems making fun of it. Still, that was a careless thing for me to say.”

“Do you want to improve?”

“Huh?” I looked up from bowing, and Sodachi was looking down at me.

“Do you want to improve your mathematics skills?”

“Huh? Well, I guess. I mean, it would be helpful for passing my college entrance exams.”

“No! It can’t be for any reason like that. Do you, Takashiro Haru, want to improve your skills in mathematics, for the sole purpose of garnering a better understanding of the subject. Do you want to understand mathematics so you can appreciate it, and cherish it?”

All that seemed like it was a little bit much for someone like me, but I felt like saying no in this situation would be like choosing the wrong option in a visual novel and breaking the social link.

“Y-yes.”

“Then, your apology is accepted,” Sodachi replied, “I will take it upon myself to be your personal math tutor until you learn enough about mathematics that you have no choice but to love it.”

And like that, the tension in the room died.

“Now, since we’re stuck here anyway and have nothing better to do,” Sodachi began, “Grab your bag and pull up a desk, we’re starting now!”

“You say that, but in this kind of situation, all I really want to do is take a nap and wait for someone to show up!”

“There’s no way I’m letting you relax when I’m in this kind of situation,” Sodachi replied angrily. She then turned away, blushing as she rubbed her legs together in desperation, “B-besides, I really want to get my mind off my bladder.”

So, we began a math lesson.

Well, I say it was a math lesson, but we were really just looking over our math homework together.

Still, that seemed a good of a place to start as any, or so said Sodachi.

In truth, it was hard for me to concentrate on the math.

After all, even if she was good at hiding it, Sodachi definitely had to go to the bathroom.

It was subtle motions here and there, and it was hard to see from across from her with two desks pushed up against each other. I imagine her legs were rubbing against each other and bouncing, but her upper body seemed relatively still. If I didn’t have the preexisting knowledge that Sodachi had to use the bathroom, I wouldn’t have even considered it from where I sat.

That was, until halfway through our homework problems.

“Now, should we use sine or cosine for this problem?” Sodachi quizzed me.

“Uh, it’s negative sine, right?”

“Wrong! Look here, if we’re supposed to take the derivative of sine, then-”

In the middle of her explanation, Sodachi gasped and jammed her hand beneath the desk. She twisted her body a little and I could hear her shoes tapping against the floor as she let out a quiet moan. She regained her composure a few moments later, but her hand remained below the desk.

“S-sorry, I… Let’s just continue,” Sodachi replied.

The lesson continued, but interruptions had become a lot more frequent. Sodachi would pause in the middle of sentences every so often, and her breathing sounded ragged. Sweat was dripping down her face, and she couldn’t keep still to save her life.

Still, somehow she made it to the end of our homework.

I looked over my completed answer sheet, and I couldn’t help but smile a little. Sodachi, rather than giving me all the answers and letting me walk away without learning anything, played her role as a math tutor well. The last couple of questions I was able to work through on my own with no problems, and I honestly felt like I understood the subject matter a little more.

Now, however, there was nothing to distract Sodachi from her problem, and it had definitely gotten worse since we started.

The silver-haired girl was whimpering almost non-stop now, dancing around in her seat with both hands jammed between her legs. She was resting her head on the desk currently, squeezing her eyes shut and taking sharp inhales of breath as though she were a martial artist ready to smash through a bunch of tiles with her hand.

I checked my cell phone. The time was 8 pm. The earliest anyone got to school was 5 am, so we wouldn’t be getting out before then.

Needless to say, there was absolutely no way Sodachi would make it until then.

Sodachi’s eyes shot open and she let out a desperate moan. She wriggled around in her seat before standing up and crossing her legs tightly as she doubled over and glanced around the room.

Her eyes fell upon the bucket I had taken out earlier and her face turned bright red.

Still, her eyes glistened with longing as she gazed at it, and I could tell she wanted to give into the temptation.

Well, it was her own stubbornness that was preventing her from using it in the first place, so I guess it would make sense that, now that she’s reaching her limit, she’d give in and just use the bucket.

Still, part of me felt almost disappointed at the prospect of Sodachi reaching that conclusion.

Or rather, regardless of how bad this sounds, I was starting to enjoy watching Sodachi struggle against her body’s needs.

“I…”

Sodachi straightened up, and, with as much composure as someone as desperate as her could muster up, she rubbed her legs together and said, “I… I’ll use it. That makeshift toilet. So you better not look!”

“Sure thing,” I replied, trying not to let my disappointment show as I turned around, “I’ll plug my ears too, if it’ll make you feel better.”

“G-good!” Sodachi noted.

I heard the silver-haired girl rush over to the other side of the room, where I had left the spare cleaning bucket. Rather than plugging my ears with my fingers, however, I grabbed a pair of headphones out of my pocket and plugged one end into a small music player I carried around with me.

I make a motion as though to turn it on, but the truth was I left it off so I could still hear relatively well.

I felt a little guilty, but after that display of desperation Sodachi put on for me, there was no way I was going to miss the resolution completely.

I heard the rustle of fabric as Sodachi presumably slid down her panties, and I waited to hear the sound of liquid splashing against the inside of a metal bucket. Instead, I heard the mechanical sound of a lock opening and the sound of a door sliding open.

Instinctually, I turned around without thinking.

I turned around at an incredible time, because Sodachi was still pulling up her panties.

It seemed she had balled her skirt up in front of her and had been holding it to keep it out of the way while she relieved herself, because the fabric was still mostly bunched up in front of her. By some mere coincidence, however, her back side was facing towards me right now, so she had just finished pulling her panties up and her skirt was almost entirely folded up in the back, giving me a clear view of her striped undergarments.

I almost wanted to laugh at how stereotypical it was for a girl to wear striped panties and sport a twintailed hairstyle. It was like Sodachi was self-aware of how tsundere she was.

Well, she was really just cold and abrasive. I had yet to find the dere. But now that I had seen her striped panties, I was sure she possessed the capability to go dere, even if it was a legendary transformation she hadn’t awakened to yet.

I also couldn’t help but notice a sizable wet patch in the crotch region of her panties.

By some miracle, Sodachi hadn’t noticed that I had seen all that, so I quickly averted my gaze and turned my attention towards the door as well.

The door slid open, and a familiar face appeared on the other side of it.

Sodachi was still in the middle of recovering from nearly getting caught peeing into a bucket in a classroom, so it was left to me to express my surprise at seeing this person at the door.

“Y-Yuuki-chan!?”

Yuuki was out of breath and her face was red like she had just run a marathon, but in reality her house was a half-hour walk away from the school, and it had been nearly an hour since we had called her. Even considering the energy she would’ve needed to climb the gate, she shouldn’t be this out of breath from a casual stroll.

That is, if she wasn’t cursed.

As it stood, Yuuki looked ready to pass out, and I rushed to her with a concerned gaze.

“Y-Yuuki-chan, are you alright? Why did you come here? I didn’t tell you we were stuck.”

“I figured something was wrong, so I called your house. Your cousin told me you hadn’t come home yet. I came as soon as I could.”

“But, you shouldn’t push yourself like that!”

“I know I should rest as much as possible, but I thought you might’ve gotten caught up with another oddity.”

“If that happened, you, as my only other friend who knows about them, would be the first to know!”

“I thought you wouldn’t want to trouble me with your situation! I mean, you couldn’t even tell me you were trapped in a classroom!”

“If it were an oddity, I could ask for advice on how to solve the problem. That’s something you can do without leaving the house.”

“Look, I know you’re concerned about me, but this curse is my burden to bear. That’s what I decided. So please, be more honest with me.”

I let out a heavy sigh and nodded, “Sure, sure. Next time I’ll--”

“M-move…”

Suddenly, a voice behind me gasped out those words.

“M-move… please…” Sodachi spoke. I turned around to find Sodachi, doubled over and looking on the brink of wetting herself, grabbing her crotch tightly and dancing in place. She was looking at us expectantly, and I realized me and Yuuki had been blocking the door.

We moved out of the way and Sodachi practically darted out of the classroom. I found myself stepping out into the hall and watching her sprint down towards the far end of the corridor where the bathrooms were.

Suddenly, however, the twintailed girl tripped and fell to the ground with a hard thud. Yuuki gasped, and we both rushed over to Sodachi.

“Are you okay?” Yuuki asked, once again freshly out of breath even after just a few meters of running.

Sodachi shakily shifted herself into a kneeling position, then brought one knee up to try to stand up. As she did, she gasped and immediately put the knee back down, jamming her hands between her legs.

“Can’t... “

“What’s wrong?” Yuuki asked.

“I… I can’t….” Sodachi trailed off, tears in her eyes as she practically trembled in her place on the floor, “I can’t move… it’s… it’s going to come out.”

Yuuki instantly realized what was going on and gasped, “Come on, we’ll help you up. Hang in there a little longer, the bathroom’s right over there!”

I got under one of Sodachi’s shoulders, and Yuuki got under her other, and we tried to ease Sodachi up as evenly as possible. Unfortunately, Yuuki couldn’t quite lift Sodachi up on her side, and she nearly dropped her. In panic, Sodachi wrapped her arms around me fully and stood up the rest of the way.

Unfortunately, by wrapping her arms around me, Sodachi had removed them from between her legs.

If she let go of me, she’d fall on her unsteady footing, but if she didn’t grab herself, she was going to burst.

“I can’t… I can’t hold it anymore….”

Sodachi stiffened up completely, unable to move. There was nothing I could do but stand there as Sodachi squeezed her eyes shut and whimpered. Suddenly, her eyes shot open and she gasped.

“No!”

A loud hissing sound resonated throughout the hallway as Sodachi exploded. Pee fell to the floor in patters like a heavy rain as rivulets ran down her long legs. As she peed, she continued to cling to me, extending her butt out and away from me to avoid peeing on me as well. She was trembling, and tears pricked at the corners of her eyes as she relieved herself right there in the school hallway.

Even after a good minute, Sodachi still seemed to be peeing at full force. She was panting like she had been holding it in for a while, and it wasn’t until I thought the silver-haired girl would break some kind of world record that the stream finally trickled off and stopped.

Even after the stream had stopped, pee still dripped down Sodachi’s legs like drops of rain off of wet leaves after a rainstorm.

Sodachi looked up at me with a tear-filled expression, and I was about to try to comfort her, when.

“I’ll kill you.”

Sodachi pushed herself off of me and glared at me with cold, intense eyes. It would’ve actually genuinely frightening if her skirt wasn’t dripping with her own urine.

“You idiot! You dumb pervert! I can’t believe I wet myself in front of you! This is your fault! I despise you!”

“H-hey, I didn’t-”

“I despise you! I can’t believe you saw such a shameful thing from me! I’ll gouge your eyes out!”

That wouldn’t get rid of the memory of what I saw, even if you did that.

No, rather…

“T-that’s a little extreme! I mean, we were locked in that room, so no one’s going to blame you-”

“Mashino-san wound up coming anyway! You should’ve just asked her for help from the start. If she had arrived five minutes earlier…!”

“Hey, you agreed with my reasoning when I told you why I didn’t tell her!”

“Oikura-san, it’s really alright. After all, you haven’t gone since you got to school right?”

Yuuki had said that.

Yuuki said that directly to Sodachi.

“Y-you…!”

“I used to be the class rep before Haru-san there,” Yuuki pointed out, “Of course I’m going to pay attention to the habits of the new transfer student. Force of habit, you know?”

Sodachi lowered her head, “It’s true. I’ve gotten into the habit of putting it off. Well, it’s more like, I know my limits and I stay within them.”

That must’ve been a habit stemming from her childhood.

She must’ve gotten used to holding it, so she’s the kind of person who can put off a trip to the bathroom even if she needs to go.

So… here’s the epilogue. Or should I say the punchline.

In the end, Sodachi continued to treat me with that abrasiveness from before, but she no longer made it a point to fill every one of her comments towards me with malice. We all helped clean up after Sodachi’s accident, so in the end, we really went above and beyond in terms of classroom duty.

Well, I say that.

But in the end, we forgot to push the desks that me and Sodachi had studied at, so the next day when we got to school, Sodachi and I wound up getting scolded for goofing around. Some unsavory rumors cropped up as well, regarding why the desks were out of place and what we did rather than organizing them. As the class rep, I tried to reprimand students for spreading rumors about the new transfer student, but since the rumors also involved me, that tactic more or less failed. Still, most of them were so ridiculous and over-the-top that they’d no doubt die down rather quickly.

A week after the incident, I found myself letting out a sigh as I stared out the window of the classroom. As the last class of the day was brought to a close by the sound of the bell, I grabbed my bag and stepped out into the hallway.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

A familiar voice called out from behind me, and I turned around to see Sodachi, standing in the door to the classroom with her hands on her hips, her bag held loosely in her left hand.

“You didn’t forget our agreement already, did you?” Sodachi scoffed, “Well, it’s like a baboon who can’t appreciate mathematics like you to forget, so I’ll remind you, you’re coming with me for math tutoring, remember!?”

“Yeah, I know,” I replied dryly.

We walked down the hall together as we made our way to the stairwell, but when Sodachi passed by the bathrooms, her eyes lingered on the door tellingly.

She still seemed a little embarrassed about last week, so I decided to do her a favor.

Maybe she’d go easy on me during tutoring if she realized I was trying to be nice.

Well, that was pretty unlikely.

“Actually, I had something to talk to Yuuki-chan about. I’m not trying to run away, I promise! I’ll just be five minutes, so I’ll meet you down by the shoe lockers, okay?”

Sodachi crossed her arms, “Fine! But if you’re not there, I’ll despise you, got it!”

I bit back a snarky, “don’t you already” and turned back towards the classroom. As I made my way back, I peeked at Sodachi out of the corner of my eye, and sure enough, she stepped into the girls’ bathroom.

--Sodachi Locked End--

Edited by Railgun-sama (see edit history)
Link to post

 

Here we go. The second arc. If you couldn't already tell from the first one, these are going to be story focused almost as much as desperation focused, but unfortunately this one's more the former than the latter. I'm trying to write a story where the desperation doesn't feel forced, like it's just squeezed in there for the sake of it, but unfortunately that means I'm often left wondering where I'm going to put the desperation in. In Sodachi's arc, I picked a scenario where desperation was almost inevitable, but I wasn't so lucky this time. Still, I managed to squeeze some in and make it plot relevant, and the second half  of Yuuki Eel (which I've started on) will definitely have a bigger focus on desperation.

So, without further ado, I present the second arc of Omomonogatari!

-------------------------
Yuuki Eel -- Remora Half

001

For the second time in as many weeks, I found myself standing at the door of Oikura Sodachi’s apartment.

 

Well, I make it sound like I had come here on my own, but in truth, Sodachi had dragged me here as soon as class ended. We had walked here together, and the only reason I was waiting out here now, rather than inside the apartment with Sodachi, was because she said she wanted to change out of her uniform.

 

I let out a sigh and looked up at the blue sky, tugging on the collar of my own school uniform.

 

How inconsiderate of her, seeing as I had no choice but to be stuck in mine.

 

Well, I think it would be even weirder if she had been considerate of that, so I guess this means everything’s fine.

 

“Alright,” Sodachi replied as she opened the door, “You can come in now.”

 

I looked back down and turned towards the doorway, and my eyes widened.

 

“Hey, you said I could come in, but really, what are you trying to pull here?” I asked dryly.

 

“Huh?” Sodachi asked, tilting her head to the side innocently.

 

“I mean, why do you look like you’re ready to go to bed?”

 

Sodachi Oikura was standing in the doorway, wearing a loose-fitting, yellow, spaghetti strap nightgown and matching boyshorts with white trim and pink ribbons. No matter how you looked at it, a boy going into a girl’s apartment alone when she was wearing something like that had very obvious implications.

 

“I can’t afford the luxury of a diverse wardrobe, so this is the most comfortable set of clothes I own,” Sodachi explained, “Besides, if I’m a central character here, shouldn’t I appear in my most iconic outfit?”

 

“You have a lot of audacity, breaking the fourth wall after only a single arc.”

 

I shook my head.

 

“No no, wait… first I have to address the ridiculous notion that you want to wear that through our entire tutoring session.”

 

“I told you, it’s not that I want to specifically wear this outfit or anything, it’s just the most comfortable thing I own.”

 

“What’s wrong with just staying in your school uniform?”

 

“Well, now I’d have to waste more time changing back into it, so I’d rather not.”

 

“I’m asking why you changed out if it in the first place!?”

 

“A whim, I guess.”

 

“Once again, what exactly are you trying to pull here!?”

 

Sodachi grabbed my arm forcefully and dragged me inside her apartment, “We’re wasting time arguing about this. If you don’t like what I’m wearing, I’ll just strip down. You can’t complain about my clothes if I don’t have any, right?”

 

“Have a little bit of modesty, will you!?”

 

“Modesty, what’s that taste like?”

 

“You’re really clueless when it comes to things that aren’t mathematics, aren’t you?”

 

“No, that’s that ahoge-sporting protagonist of the main story. I’m better at academics in general.”

 

I let out a sigh and let it go, taking my shoes off and stepping further into the apartment.

 

Sodachi stepped past me and sat down at a small table in the center of the room. She had apparently prepared it ahead of time, as there were a few math textbooks and various writing implements placed upon it.

 

I sat down across from her, and the lesson began.

 

002

 

“So, since the derivative here is negative, that means the graph of the equation is decreasing on the interval from 0 to 1, got it?”

 

“Yeah, and that means that where the derivative is positive, the graph’s increasing?”

 

“Precisely. I’d say you catch on fast, but this is all stuff we went over in class two days ago.”

 

Even if Sodachi said that, I had absolutely no memory of going over this in class.

 

Still, arguing with Sodachi, who was practically in love with math and absolutely wouldn’t make a mistake about what we went over in math class, was pointless.

 

“Well, at least you’re not slow. I only had to explain it to you once,” Sodachi finished, “I’m surprised.”

 

“This is the third time we’ve had these lessons, act a little less impressed at my mental capacity.”

 

“Fine. You’re a complete moron.”

 

“That’s the other extreme!”

 

“Stop fooling around, we’re wasting-”

 

Sodachi’s sentence was cut off by the sound of my cell phone buzzing in my pocket.

 

I shot her an apologetic look and took out my phone, reading the name that showed up on the caller id.

 

Mashino Yuuki

 

Ordinarily, I would try to at least be cordial and notify the person I had been talking to the importance of the call. At the very least, I might’ve explained that, as someone close to Yuuki, anything she would be calling about could be important.

 

However, this was Sodachi we were dealing with here, so I didn’t exactly mind simply answering without preface.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Haru-san, are you busy right now?”

 

“A little,” I answered honestly, “I’m at Sodachi-san’s for our weekly math tutoring session. Why?”

 

“Oh, it’s not that big of a deal. I just… I heard a rumor about something strange going on in town today, so I figure I’d bring it up to a specialist first.”

 

A specialist.

 

Yes, that’s right.

 

Well, I suppose it’s only half-right.

 

I’m a specialist-in-training, rather than a full-fledged specialist, but I’ve been making progress in learning about oddities, so it’s true I’m something of an expert on the subject. Or, perhaps more accurately, I was to oddities as Sodachi was to mathematics. A peer tutor who could answer the stuff I’ve already been taught, but someone who still needed their own teacher.

 

Speaking of, my teacher was a vampire-exterminating specialist named Grimoire Cutlass.

 

How I became her student is a story for another day.

 

Right now, the important part was that Yuuki was seeking out my assistance as a specialist.

 

“I’m listening,” I replied.

 

“Well, if you’re busy with Sodachi-san, I don’t want to be a nuisance. At the very least, the rumor wasn’t anything too serious like a vampire showing up or anything, so it should be okay to wait until you get home.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be rude to Sodachi-san.”

 

That’s what she said, but….

 

Please, Yuuki-chan, save me from the endless math!

 

Yuuki told me to call her back when I was free and hung up without another word.

 

The second she did, Sodachi grabbed the cell phone out of my hand and flipped it closed with a rough clack.

 

“Carelessly announcing that I’m giving you math lessons… You do realize the rumors from the other week haven’t died down yet, right?”

 

Sodachi looked at me with an intense gaze, and I felt like my relaxed expression was probably a little insulting to her.

 

“Calm down,” I replied, holding a hand up defensively, “It was just Yuuki-chan. She knows basically all the details about the other day, so she’s not going to be spreading any rumors.”

 

Sodachi tilted her head to the side, leaning back onto her arms and letting one of the straps on her nightgown slip off her shoulder. It was a rather dangerous position she had put herself in, so I averted my gaze.

 

“Who is Mashino-san to you?”

 

That question caught my attention, and I turned back towards Sodachi almost immediately.

 

“I mean, you two seem rather close. What is your relationship with her?”

 

What indeed.

 

That was quite a complicated subject.

 

That sounds like the stereotypical thing to say when you’re talking about people who don’t know if they’re together or not, but it’s really not like that at all. Romantically, between me and Yuuki, there’s nothing there.

 

But as two people…

 

“Yuuki is someone I’d give up my left arm to protect if I had to,” I answered.

 

Coyly.

 

Unclearly.

 

There was no way Sodachi knew what I meant by that.

 

“I guess, the relationship between us is that of someone who made a promise to fix everything, only to fail. In that sense, I guess you could say my caring for Yuuki is out of atonement.”

 

“I feel like there’s a story there,” Sodachi replied, “I want to hear it.”

 

“W-well, it’s Yuuki-chan’s story,” I answered uneasily, “So, I’m not sure about just telling it outright like th- hey, what are you doing with my phone!?”

 

Sodachi sat up instantly and flipped my phone open, clicking through it briefly before hitting a button and holding it up to her ear.

 

“Hello, Mashino-san? Yes…. Yes, I took his phone… Yes, well, I had a question…. Would it be alright if Takashiro-san told me the story of how you two met? ….............. Well, I don’t know about that, but, I imagine it’s that one… alright… okay… I’ll tell him. Yes, I’ll see you tomorrow…. Later.”

 

Sodachi flipped the phone closed again and held it out for me.

 

“I have Mashino-san’s permission. You can tell me.”

 

I grabbed the phone hesitantly and nodded, “Y-yeah, alright.”

 

Although I said that, I wasn’t sure if it was really alright. My interactions with Yuuki have revolved around the supernatural from the very beginning. Oddities. Curses. Specialists. Those aren’t things someone who has had no exposure to the supernatural would readily accept without question.

 

Still, Sodachi wanted to know, and I had a feeling dodging my way out of this would only make her more curious.

 

“Well, I should start off by saying that this story is probably going to sound crazy and unbelievable to you. Actually, I’d be more worried if you found it easy to believe. Still, it’s all true.”

 

“I won’t promise I’ll believe you, but I’ll at least listen,” Sodachi nodded.

 

“Alright. It all began on the last day of school before Golden Week. The story of how I met Mashino Yuuki and failed to save her.”

 

003

 

The date was April 28th.

 

Tomorrow would be April 29th. Showa Day. The first day of Golden Week.

 

For many, that was reason enough to celebrate, but for me, it left me with a heavy heart.

 

The reason for that was simple-- while many others were looking forward to time off to relax from their studies and goof off, my Golden Week was not going to be relaxing. In reality, it had already been claimed by someone.

 

In other words, I had difficult obligations to fulfill, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled about that day coming.

 

Still, April 28th was my last day of freedom before then, so I suppose I was a little more relaxed than I should’ve been.

 

It started during physical education.

 

A girl with short brown hair and emerald green eyes, wearing our school’s female gym uniform that’s shameless enough to still have bloomers rather than gym shorts.

 

A girl with a petite yet still well-endowed figure.

 

The girl I knew back then only as our class representative.

 

Mashino Yuuki.

 

Just after I finished running, as I glanced over at the girl’s group.

 

Mashino Yuuki collapsed.

 

It was only spring, but it was particularly hot that day, so ordinarily, one would assume it was the result of heat exhaustion. At least, that would’ve been a reasonable assumption for anyone but Mashino Yuuki. She was the class representative and a model student in all fields, including personal health. She made sure to stay hydrated and she was physically fit, so something like this was really out of the blue.

 

It was possible it was a physical problem, but I had instantly considered an entirely different possibility altogether.

 

It was entirely me just jumping to conclusions, but the thought that ran through my mind was this.

 

Maybe Mashino Yuuki collapsed because of something supernatural. Maybe Mashino Yuuki had encountered an oddity.

 

Oddities.

 

Supernatural phenomenon, that exist only to be observed by humans.

 

Gods, Vampires, Ghosts…

 

Anything one would typically consider monsters would fall under the category of “Oddities”.

 

It might seem a little hard to believe for someone who’s never encountered anything supernatural, but all of these things exist.

 

I talk about the supernatural like I’ve known about it for my whole life, but at this point, it was only a month ago during spring break that I first encountered the world of the supernatural. That was the incident that set me down the path to become someone who specializes in the supernatural.

 

I suppose I should mention that, briefly.

 

Among humans, there are those who make it their job to deal with Oddities.

 

Some exorcise them. Some act as mediators or negotiators. Some manipulate the supernatural for the sake of their clients. Regardless of their methods, these people have a large amount of expertise when regarding the supernatural.

 

I should say, even now, the things I know about oddities and the supernatural is limited. I’d say I know more than the average person, but I’m nowhere near the level of being able to call myself a full-fledged specialist.

 

Back then, when Mashino Yuuki collapsed, I knew even less.

 

That’s why I have to say that assuming Yuuki collapsed because of an Oddity was a leap of logic at the time.

 

Regardless.

 

With that possibility in my mind, I rushed over to where Yuuki collapsed.

 

Obviously, since she had been on the other end of the field, surrounded by our other female classmates, she had already been helped into a sitting position, and was surrounded by people asking if she was okay. Actually, by the time I got there, the conversation had already progressed to deciding to take her to the nurse.

 

“I’ll do it!” I called out as I ran up to the girl’s group.

 

The female coach looked at me with some level of confusion.

 

“Takashiro-kun, what are you doing over here?”

 

“I saw Mashino-san collapse, so I wanted to see if I could help. I’ve finished my run, so it wouldn’t be a problem for me to take her to the nurse.”

 

“Well, that’s fine I suppose,” the coach agreed, “Mashino-san, can you walk?”

 

“I don’t think so,” Yuuki whimpered, looking down at her legs with trembling eyes, “I feel so weak all of a sudden…”

 

“Alright, Takashiro,” the coach turned to me, “You’ll have to carry her. No complaining, since you volunteered.”

 

And so, I found myself carrying our class representative on my back.

 

As I walked down the hallway towards the nurse’s office, Yuuki broke the silence and said, “I’m sorry… for causing you so much trouble.”

 

She was breathing heavily, and her voice was barely above a whisper. Yet she had apologized to me for making her carry her, even though I had volunteered. She was a class representative who would shoulder so many different responsibilities at once, yet the second someone else stepped in to help her out, she’d feel bad for troubling them.

 

I realized then that that was the kind of person Mashino Yuuki was.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” I replied, “Carrying you is really no big deal.”

 

That wasn’t something I just said to be nice.

 

Truthfully, carrying Yuuki didn’t in the least bit trouble me.

 

I might not look like it underneath a uniform, but I’m actually pretty muscular. I also have a lot of stamina, so even though I had just finished running, I wasn’t even out of breath. Not to mention that Yuuki, being nearly a foot shorter than me and having a small figure in general honestly didn’t weigh enough to inconvenience someone carrying them.

 

Putting that aside…

 

“Besides, you’re the class rep. You’ve worked really hard to maintain a relatively peaceful environment. As someone who’s benefited from your efforts, this is the least I can do.”

 

“Have I really done all that much, though? I mean, it’s still just the beginning of the year.”

 

“No, see, that’s what’s most impressive,” I answered, “It’s just the beginning of the year, but everyone’s already talking about how much work you’ve done as the class rep. You really shouldn’t sell yourself short.”

 

I paused. I was getting caught up in the conversation, but there was a reason I was here in the first place. I needed to find out if the ailment that caused Mashino Yuuki to collapse.

 

“Well, regardless, I was surprised when you collapsed abruptly like that. What exactly happened that made you collapse like that?”

 

Yuuki shook her head, “I don’t know. I just… my legs gave out on me all of a sudden. It’s like they just lost all their strength.”

 

“They lost their strength, huh?”

 

That did sound unusual.

 

Well, I say that, but there was no way of me determining whether it was a mundane kind of unusual or the kind of unusual that was caused by something supernatural. Moreover, from the way Yuuki had spoke, it didn’t sound like she knew much about what happened to her either. I guess I was hoping for something simple, like Yuuki seeing a ghost or an apparition or something right before it happened that she would’ve dismissed as her imagination, but it didn’t seem like there was anything like that.

 

In other words, as a novice specialist, my expertise had run out.

 

I let out a sigh and continued walking with Yuuki on my back.

 

That was, until Yuuki spoke up again.

 

“H-hey, Takashiro-san, you’re walking past the nurse’s office!”

 

I looked up and immediately realized she was right. To my left was the door to the nurse’s office, and beyond that were the faculty rooms and an exit to the side of the school.

 

“Geez,” Yuuki chided, “You’re really absentminded, aren’t you, Takashiro-san?”

 

“W-well, I’m not normally, I guess,” I tried to save face.

 

“Oho? Then is it that you’re distracted because you’re carrying a girl on your back?”

 

That was a comment I couldn’t let slide.

 

“Hey, Class Rep. You might not know me that well personally, but I’m not that kind of character.”

 

“Good. If you were, I’d have to teach you a lesson about leching after your classmates.”

 

Ignoring the fact that Yuuki couldn’t even walk by herself right now...

 

“Relationships between high school students aren’t taboo, you know? And don’t make it plural like I’m some kind of harem protagonist! Even if I was distracted by your well-endowed chest pressing against my back while carrying you or something, it’s still only one incident with one person, right?”

 

I had said all that in a breath. But suddenly I felt as though I had let something rather important slip out by accident.

 

“That’s… Takashiro-san, you…”

 

It seemed that, by saying something so carelessly, I had further broken Yuuki.

 

What a first impression I had made of myself.

 

Without waiting for Yuuki to recompose herself to come up with some response, I entered the nurse’s office at once.

 

004

 

“She lost her strength?”

 

“Yeah,” I replied into my cell phone, which I was currently holding up to my ear, “She said her legs gave out underneath her like she lost all of her strength in them.”

 

“Hmmm….” the voice-- a mature, feminine voice that had some very distinct roughness to it spoke, “It started with her legs, then… but her whole body felt weak in general?”

 

“That’s what it seems like, yeah,” I replied, “She’s still being looked at by the nurse, so it could be nothing, but when I first saw it happen, my first impression was that it was an oddity. Maybe that’s a little naive to say.”

 

“Not at all, Takashiro-kun. As a specialist, your instinct is something you should rely on more. Actually, even from the limited information you told me, I do think it’s likely that this Mashiro-san has encountered some sort of oddity.”

 

“Wait, really!? So I was right?”

 

“Hmm, I wouldn’t say right, since you were completely clueless before calling me, but I’d say that your instincts were on point here. Well, I say that, but I don’t think I can know for sure unless I perform a direct examination. Do you think you’ll be able to bring Yuuki-chan to me?”

 

“Well,” I began, “She’s currently being looked over by the nurse. I’d imagine if they can’t figure out what’s wrong with her, they’ll likely send her home. If they feel it’s severe enough, they might send her to the hospital, though.”

 

“Hmm, if they do that, she’ll be there for a while. It’ll be trouble if that happens, so try to get her to me as soon as possible. Even if you have to kidnap her.”

 

“Don’t say such extreme things! I can’t do that no matter how you look at it!”

 

“Well, just try to get her to me as soon as possible. I hope I’m wrong, but if she’s encountered that oddity, then she’s already on borrowed time.”

 

“Hey, don’t joke about stuff like that. The way you say that, it makes it sound like Mashino-san’s going to die.”

“That’s a possibility. At least in the worst-case scenario. That’s why it’s important that you get her to me as quickly as possible. As a vampire-hunting specialist, I don’t particularly care about saving humans from other oddities, especially a high schooler who I can’t charge a hefty service fee to, but I can tell you’re someone who can’t stand the idea of someone dying. If she dies under your watch, you’ll become weak. I won’t lose the infinite potential of my protege to something so stupid.”

 

“Understood, I’ll come up with a way to get her to you by tonight. That’s enough time, right?”

 

“Sooner would be better, but even in the worst case scenario, I don’t think waiting until tonight will be a problem.”

 

With that, the woman on the other end of the phone hung up.

 

It was probably for the best. I was left without a single word in my mind to respond with.

 

Oddities were intense.

 

I had expected my experiences over spring break, where I was violently thrust into that world headfirst, were just a fluke. Like outliers that represented the most extreme experiences a human could expect to have. But hearing that a simple oddity that my classmate might have encountered by pure chance could wind up killing her…

 

I was in the middle of pondering all of this when the door to the nurse’s office opened.

 

I immediately jumped to attention and turned to the side, and I was surprised to see Yuuki, back on her feet-- albeit a bit shakily.

 

“H-hey, Takashiro-san… were you waiting for me?”

 

“Ah, yeah, something like that,” I replied, scratching the back of my head.

 

“Well, you don’t have to worry about me,” Yuuki smiled, “The nurse looked me over… looks like it was just a case of heat exhaustion after all. I don’t know how it happened, I was being careful and staying hydrated… but I guess I just got careless and pushed myself too hard.”

 

Heat exhaustion.

 

That didn’t seem like something that would affect only the legs.

 

Even still, Yuuki did say she was weak all over.

 

Maybe she just noticed her legs more because she had been running?

 

Either way, if that was the case, did that mean I didn’t need to bring her to my mentor?

 

I thought that with some relief, but…

 

In the end, wouldn’t it be safer just to double-check?

 

But if that was the case, how was I going to convince Yuuki to come with me, especially after she had been cleared by the nurse?

 

“Hey, Mashino-san,” I began, trailing off to try to come up with something to say.

 

“Hmm? What is it?” Yuuki asked.

 

She looked at me innocently, tilting her head in confusion.

 

Someone like this…

 

Someone like this couldn’t be close to dying, right?

 

No, more importantly, I couldn’t let someone like this die.

 

With that thought affirmed in my mind, I picked up Yuuki once more. It wasn’t piggyback this time, however. In the first place, it was impossible to give someone a piggyback ride without their consent.

 

No, I was instead carrying her bridal style.

 

I expected her to fight back, or yell, but instead, she let out a squeak that was way too cute for someone in her position and looked up at me.

 

“W-w-w-what do you think you’re doing, Takashiro-san!?”

 

“I’m saving your life,” I said, bluntly.

 

Well, it wasn’t that I knew that’s what I was doing yet.

 

In fact, I was hoping that she wouldn’t need saving.

 

But explaining everything would take too long, and there was still a chance she wouldn’t believe me in the first place.

 

“Trust me,” I asked Yuuki selfishly.

 

Like she’d have any reason to trust me.

 

Prior to her collapsing, our interactions were only that of distant classmates who knew each other by name only. We had talked maybe once or twice, but it was nothing substantial. Furthermore, I had made a careless comment about her chest while carrying her earlier, so she had even less of a reason to trust me in specific.

 

That’s what I had thought, anyway.

 

But Yuuki looked up to meet my eyes and nodded.

 

“I trust you.”

 

005

 

I was running.

 

With the brown-haired, green-eyed high school girl named Mashino Yuuki in my arms, I was running down the sidewalk at an alarming pace. That wasn’t an exaggeration. Yuuki seemed quite alarmed at how fast I was booking down the streets.

 

No matter how you looked at it, it was a pace you’d consider beyond the limit of human capabilities.

 

Well, there might have been some olympic runners that could come close in short sprints, but running across half the town at that rate would be impossible for a human to maintain.

 

The reason why I was able to maintain it was because of the secrets hidden under the pants-legs of my gym uniform. I say hidden, because even though it was the middle of spring, rather than wearing the short summer gym uniform, I was wearing the long sweatpants of our winter gym uniform.

 

The reason for that was also the secrets hidden under my gym uniform’s pant legs.

 

Well, when I put it like that, the only thing that you’d assume was hidden under pant legs would be legs themselves.

 

Indeed, all I had under the uniform pants were my own legs.

 

Well, I say they’re my legs, but in truth, they’re legs that, only recently fell under my ownership.

 

In other words, they were legs that did not originally belong to me.

 

And they were stronger than any human legs.

 

That’s right…

 

Both of my legs, from halfway down the thighs to my feet, were grafted the legs of a superhuman vampire.

 

Of course, even though my legs were that of a vampire, my lungs and heart were still human.

 

So, pushing myself to these limits still left me unable to explain any of this to Yuuki while I ran.

 

Instead, she must’ve thought she was being kidnapped by some monster.

 

Well, I guess that was exactly what was happening from a certain point of view.

 

Before long, we reached our destination-- an abandoned parking garage.

 

As I slowed down to a casual walking speed, Yuuki let out a sigh of relief.

 

“That was way too fast… it was like I was in riding a motorcycle.”

 

“Sorry,” I replied, gasping, “I wanted… to get you here… as fast as possible…”

 

“No, I mean, how did you even run that fast in the first place, Takashiro-san?”

 

I turned to reply, but it seemed like Yuuki had noticed something on my right arm, near where her head was. She turned her head, raising an arm and grabbed the sleeve of my gym uniform. She raised it up, revealing a red and white talisman with an intricate design plastered to my arm with medical tape.

 

“W-what’s this weird thing?” Yuuki asked, “It looks like something you’d buy at a shrine for New Years…”

 

“Ah, that,” I replied, “That’s just a-”

 

I froze as I watched Yuuki toying with the edge of the talisman, like she were going to peel it off.

 

“Please don’t touch that!”

 

“Why?” Yuuki asked, “Don’t tell me, Takashiro-san! You’re hiding a tattoo under there, even though you know tattoos are against school policy!”

 

“Why would I use such an intricate charm to hide a tattoo? Couldn’t I just wrap the area with gauze in that case?”

 

“Hmm… that logic also eliminates the idea that it’s an embarrassing scar or a fresh wound you don’t want others seeing…”

 

“Yeah, it’s none of those things,” I admitted.

 

“Then it should be fine if I take it off!”

 

“If you don’t want me to drop you, don’t take that off, please.”

 

“Now you’re just making me curious!”

 

I walked into the parking garage and made my way over to the staircase. I quickly carried Yuuki up to the fourth floor, the usual meeting spot for me and that woman.

 

That woman.

 

The second I emerged from the stairwell, I saw her.

 

A beautiful, yet still somewhat tomboyish woman.

 

Wearing a hoodie that was left unzipped past her breasts, which were not restrained by a bra, giving a full shot of her cleavage, and a skirt that barely extended below the end of the hoodie. With blood-red hair and matching red eyes.

 

She could almost pass off as a relatively normal, if not a little bit like an exhibisionist, if that were the extent of her outfit. However, she wore ridiculous black boots with countless buckles and crosses hanging from them, and the hoodie’s arms were torn clean off intentionally, revealing arms which were wrapped with tattoo sleeves. Well, I call them tattoos, but they looked more like alchemy runes for deconstructing and reconstructing matter.

 

She had the red eyes, she was just missing the scar.

 

I guess she’d also need white hair, too.

 

In addition, around her neck, on a necklace, dangled a glowing red eyeball pendant. The eye was narrow and elongated, like a serpents, and the orange-red color flickered like it was constantly burning. It was, easily, the most iconic and unsettling part of her design.

 

It would’ve also been the most noticeable thing about her, as well.

 

But right now, rather than looking poised like she usually does.

 

That woman.

 

She was squatting in the corner of the parking garage with her skirt raised and her thumbs underneath her panties as though she were ready to pull them down.

 

It was obvious what she had been planning on doing.

 

There wasn’t a bathroom in this abandoned parking garage.

 

Furthermore, that woman had taken up residence here, so it was only natural that she’d have to find a way to relieve herself.

 

Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought about those things up until this moment. I imagine she let her guard down.

 

In fact, she looked at us with a blank expression, like she hadn’t expected us.

 

Then it happened.

 

Before I could turn around.

 

Before I could mutter an apology…

 

Suddenly, her boot was being driven into my stomach.

 

Yuuki was gone. Or, more accurately, in that single moment, that red-haired woman had grabbed Yuuki out of my arms and kicked me in the stomach so hard I wanted to vomit.

 

I went flying back down into the stairwell, and tripped backwards down the stairs.

 

I don’t remember hitting the bottom.

 

Before I did, I blacked out.

 

006

 

It’s important to note that, at this point, I was unconscious. I only know these details because of what I was told after the fact. It seemed that, while I was out, Yuuki and that incorrigible woman had bonded somewhat.

 

“Aahhhh! Much better,” the red-haired woman who kicked me in the stomach sighed in relief as she, right there, in front of Yuuki, shamelessly did the thing she had kicked me in the stomach for walking in on her for.

 

In other words, squatting in the corner of the parking garage, where a small storm drain sat, that red-haired woman peed shamelessly at full force, like she was in a toilet stall.

 

I’d like to point out that I was still at the bottom of the stairwell at this time, so even if I had woken up, I wouldn’t have gotten to see such a sight.

 

Once she had finished up, she pulled her panties up and turned back towards Yuuki.

 

“So, you’re Takashiro-san’s classmate, Mashino Yuuki?”

 

Yuuki nodded, taking a step back. I had told her to trust me, but as I was currently unconscious, she was practically alone with such an eccentric stranger. I had told her to trust me, but it hadn’t been established whether she should trust who we were meeting with.

 

“Y-yeah,” Yuuki replied.

 

“Oh, pardon me, it must be rude, asking for your name when I haven’t even given you mine. I’m Grimoire Cutlass.”

 

“Cutlass…-san?” Yuuki echoed uneasily, unsure of how to approach such a foreign name.

 

“Hahahaha! Please, call me by my first name. Grimoire-san’s fine!”

 

“Grimoire-san, then,” Yuuki replied, “Why… what am I doing here?”

 

“Geez, didn’t Takashiro-san explain even that much? He knows that, as much as I have to, I hate being an expositional character.”

 

Grimoire did a show-offy cartwheel towards the center of the empty parking garage and turned back towards Yuuki, who was still walking around on shaky legs.

 

“To begin, Takashiro called me while you were at the nurse. He explained to me the situation under which you collapsed. A healthy, responsible girl like yourself collapsing of heat exhaustion… even to an adult like me who has to worry about pushing her body too hard knows that something seems off about that. Takashiro-san picked up on that and thought instantly that it was something strange.”

 

It was at this point that Grimoire gave Yuuki a rudimentary explanation of the supernatural. She explained about the relationship between oddities and specialists, and explained that she was currently mentoring me to become a specialist. It was also during this point that Grimoire told Yuuki to let me rest where I landed at the bottom of the stairs, and that I’d recover on my own eventually.

 

Don’t just leave me in such a position, even if I will recover!

 

But regardless...

 

“So, you think that I’ve encountered an oddity, and that’s why I collapsed?”

 

“I have yet to confirm it, but the fact that you can walk only increases this possibility. When Takashiro-san called, he said you couldn’t walk, but now you can, right?”

 

Yuuki nodded, “Yeah.”

 

“Then that means it’s already moving.”

 

Grimoire stepped back towards Yuuki and, abruptly, without warning, raised her gym shirt. Well, since Yuuki’s gym shirt was tucked into her bloomers, it took a little bit more than a single tug to lift the shirt up completely. Still, the end result was that Yuuki was standing there, being scrutinized by a stranger who was fine with wearing nothing but a hoodie that was only zipped up to just below the breasts.

 

“Hmm, it’s as I thought,” Grimoire frowned, “Truly, it’s the worst case scenario.”

 

“Worst case?”

 

“Mashino-san, have you pissed anyone off recently?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I mean, is there anyone you’ve made mad in the last week or so. Well, perhaps since the beginning of the year would be a better question.”

 

“N-no, not that I can think of,” Yuuki replied, “I’m not close with everyone in my class, of course, but I don’t recall anyone ever saying mean things about me or looking at me with hateful eyes.”

 

“Is that so?” Grimoire narrowed her eyes at Yuuki, and she grinned a wide, toothy grin, “Because, Mashino-chan…”

 

Dropping the formalities, Grimoire referred to Yuuki like that.

 

“Someone really, really wants you dead.”

 

Yuuki told me later that hearing that, more than getting whisked away by a classmate who could run as fast as a car, or meeting a woman who was shameless enough to pee out in the open in an abandoned parking garage-- Yuuki had said that hearing someone wanted her dead made her heart skip a few beats.

 

“T-that’s…. That is…” Yuuki shook her head, “You’re lying…”

 

It wasn’t even an unreasonable thing to blurt out, in Yuuki’s case.

 

Yuuki, who had only recently been informed of the supernatural, and by a dubious person at that. And now that same dubious person was telling her that someone wanted her dead.

 

No, even more than that, it could be said that Yuuki’s entire personality was non-confrontational. She, being class representative, wouldn’t let certain things stand of course, but when it came to confronting someone doing something wrong, she took a peaceful approach. It worked most of the time, so I’d never seen her get aggressive with anyone. Actually, rather than just scolding people, she seemed to try her hardest to make other people understand different points of view from their own. It was conflict resolution that relied upon understanding rather than authority, so she was able to accomplish a lot more in such a short time.

 

That was why Yuuki was so incredible.

 

A non-confrontational person who easily understood others and was easily understood by others… a person like that couldn’t possibly have any enemies that would want them dead, right?

 

That’s probably what Yuuki herself had in mind.

 

She thought that she did everything right, so she didn’t understand why someone came to hate her anyway.

 

Or rather, she couldn’t understand it, so she rejected it.

 

“Well, you can say I’m lying all you want, but why else would someone put such a serious curse on someone else?”

 

“A c-curse?” Yuuki echoed dully.

 

“The Remora Eel,” Grimoire stated, “Well, it’s kind of a fictitious creature, since remoras and eels are different things entirely… but it’s been used as the base of a rather serious curse.”

 

Grimoire sat down, cross-legged on the ground, and patted the ground in front of her as if to beckon Yuuki to do the same. Yuuki complied, but it wasn’t like she had been completely comfortable around Grimoire in the first place. It was due more to the fact that Yuuki was still feeling unsteady on her legs.

 

As soon as Yuuki sat down, Grimoire extended a small cup towards her.

 

“It’s just water. Drink some.”

 

Yuuki looked down at the clear liquid uneasily, but Grimoire held up a popular brand of bottled water and shook it a few times to reassure the brown-haired girl. As if she needed more convincing, Grimoire then took a few swigs from the bottle itself, and Yuuki finally brought the cup to her lips.

 

It was just plain water after all.

 

“Now then,” Grimoire continued, “To understand the Remora Eel, we first have to understand the fundamentals behind curses. A curse is, to put it most simply, a mass of spiritual energy that binds itself onto a human. In general, this spiritual energy is negative, and imparts a negative effect to the person afflicted with the curse. As well, the spiritual energy more often than not takes the shape of an animal. The strongest curses impart an effect that naturally seems to align with the animal used for a base. For instance, if you wanted to make a curse that cuts a person’s speed, you might use a sloth or a snail as a base.”

 

Yuuki nodded, shifting uncomfortably on the ground. Grimoire either didn’t notice or didn’t care and continued.

 

“The Remora Eel was an oddity that was created for the sole purpose of being used as the base of the curse you have now. Well, in particular, Remoras have the characteristic of ‘latching on’, and some species of eels are parasitic, so the Remora Eel’s image is one of an animal that latches on and drains its host.  Well, that was an image it got because the person who originally created the Remora Eel spread that idea in the heads of humans. The more people thought that such a creature existed in real life and could be used as the basis of a curse, the oddity that was the Remora Eel was born.”

 

“S-so,” Yuuki began, shifting her weight around and looking around nervously, “You mean that… I collapsed today because someone cursed me with such a thing?”

 

Grimoire nodded, “That’s what I believe, at least. I’ll confirm it in a bit, but allow me to explain the full effects of the Remora Eel’s curse.”

 

Yuuki nodded, shifting from a cross-legged position to a more traditional kneeling position, and placing her hands on her thighs.

 

“The Remora Eel Curse is parasitic in nature. The eel latches onto the victim, in this case you, at the feet and begins migrating up the legs and to the rest of the body. It’s a curse that, in the most basic form, saps a person’s strength. It takes all the energy from a person’s muscles and makes them unable to use them. Naturally, since it starts at the feet and works it’s way up, it will eventually reach some important muscles, like the diaphragm and the heart. If it reaches such vital muscles and saps their energy, obviously the person afflicted with the Remora Eel will die.”

 

Yuuki recalled in that moment what I had said to her back when I picked her up outside the nurse’s office.

 

“I’m saving your life.”

 

“S-so, I’m really going to die!” Yuuki asked as she squirmed around uncomfortably.

 

“Well, luckily it’s a curse, so there’s an easy countermeasure. The problem with curses, especially dangerous curses like the Remora Eel, is that they all can be rebound.”

 

“Re… rebound?”

 

“In other words, reflected back to the person who put the curse on you in the first place.”

 

Grimore said, with a grin.

 

“W-wait, wait a minute!” Yuuki frowned, fidgeting around in her spot on the ground, “I-if we rebound such a dangerous curse, wouldn’t the person who cursed me also die?”

 

“Yeah,” Grimoire nodded, smirking, “Revenge, retribution, and comeuppance, all at once. A capital punishment for trying to curse someone else with death. Isn’t that beautiful?”

 

“It’s unacceptable!” Yuuki replied firmly, “To kill another person, even if they tried to kill me first… it’s absolutely unacceptable!”

 

“Hey, hey,” Grimoire frowned, “Isn’t it a good thing if they die? Besides, if you don’t rebound the curse, you’ll die. It’s just like self-defense.”

 

“I won’t rebound it!”

 

Yuuki said that strongly.

 

Well, she tried to say it strongly.

 

But she was just a little bit…

 

“I won’t rebound it, and furthermore…”

 

Yuuki blushed, looking away.

 

“Grimoire-san… if there aren’t any toilets around here, I’d like to leave…”

 

“You can’t.”

 

Grimoire said, flatly.

 

“E-eh!?” Yuuki asked, rubbing her thighs together.

 

“Well, you can leave, if you can outrun me,” Grimoire replied, “But I’m not going to let you leave until we rebound that curse.”

 

“T-that’s unreasonable! I said I won’t rebound it!” Yuuki replied.

 

“Then you’ll have to get used to peeing openly like I did earlier. I won’t let you leave here with that curse. You either let me rebound it, or stay here until it kills you.”

 

“W-will you be able to explain the body!?” Yuuki asked.

 

“I’ll feed it to a vampire friend of mine. Actually, he’s doing me a big favor soon, so it’ll be convenient if I can give him some food.”

 

“That’s not going to happen.”

 

That wasn’t Yuuki’s voice.

 

It wasn’t Grimoire’s voice either.

 

No, by this time, I had recovered from my injuries sustained by falling down the stairs, and I regained consciousness.

 

“First of all, Mashino-san, she’s bluffing. Well, about feeding you to Dramaturgy, I mean. Vampires don’t like eating corpses.”

 

I got the image of that rather large, muscular man in my mind. I had met him only once, and that was a pretty disastrous meeting for me. At the time, he and Grimoire weren’t exactly on good terms, so by submitting myself as Grimoire’s apprentice as a specialist, I made myself his enemy as well. It was under those conditions we met, and he took exception to me almost immediately.

 

Well, to put it simply, to get back at Grimoire for betraying him, Dramaturgy tried to eat me.

 

Still, some events happened, and they seemed to have patched things up a little, so I don’t think I had to worry about that anymore.

 

“Furthermore, Mashino-san,” I replied, “You don’t even know who it is who tried to curse you. Why are you trying to protect them so badly?”

 

I said that.

 

But honestly, I understood her feelings.

 

It was less that she wanted to protect someone who had tried to kill her, and more that she didn’t think she was the kind of person who could make a conscious decision to bring harm to someone else.

 

Even if they had done it first.

 

Even if they had put the curse on her first…

 

Rebounding it and causing their death would be entirely Yuuki’s responsibility.

 

At least that’s what I thought.

 

“I don’t want anyone to suffer.”

 

Apparently, about Yuuki’s feelings. I was wrong.

 

“I don’t want anyone to suffer. I don’t want anyone to die. I want everyone to get along, and help each other. We’re all high school students, and most of us are aiming for the same thing in the end. We all want to graduate. That’s why I took my job as class representative seriously.”

 

Yuuki admitted.

 

“I’m the selfish kind of person who wants that kind of ideal world. I’m the ambitious kind of person who wants to work towards that goal. But even then, I understand it’s impossible.”

 

Yuuki, even amidst the squirming and wriggling around caused by her full bladder, said that.

 

“I understand that sometimes, people will hate each other. I understand that sometimes, people will suffer… but if I have to choose between suffering and letting someone else suffer, I’ll choose to suffer and just endure it. If I can save that other person, who wanted me to die so badly that they turned to the occult… if dying for that person’s sake or letting them die for my sake are my two options, then I’ll obviously chose to die!”

 

Yuuki finished.

 

She fell silent, and sat, squirming uncomfortably on the ground.

 

I couldn’t say anything to that.

 

Grimoire couldn’t argue with that.

 

No matter what either of us did or said, we wouldn’t get Yuuki to rebound the curse.

 

“But if I’m going to die, I’d like to at least say goodbye to my family first. Well, more importantly than that, I’d like to at least go to the bathroom first.”

 

Yuuki said that dark comedy line with a straight face.

 

“Actually, I really think that second one is a priority right now!”

 

Yuuki followed up, jamming her hands between her legs.

 

Grimoire responded by pointing to the corner where she had earlier relieved herself.

 

“If you have to go to the bathroom, go there.”

 

Yuuki squirmed around, looking to the corner with a horrified expression.

 

“I… I can’t go there!”

 

“There’s a drainage pipe there, so as long as you aim a little, it shouldn’t get on your shoes. It’s like using a regular squat toilet, so it should be easy.”

 

“It’s not a matter of ability, there are some things a girl just shouldn’t do.”

 

“I’ll knock Takashiro-san out again.”

 

“T-that’s not the issue here!”

 

“Even if you say that, it’s your only option, right, Mashino-chan? You must be at your limit by now.”

 

Yuuki squirmed around desperately, grabbing herself with both hands.

 

She didn’t need to answer that question.

 

It was obvious Grimoire was right.

 

“Even still, I can’t just… ah….!”

 

Yuuki doubled over, nearly falling over onto the floor where she sat.

 

As she bent forwards, her butt poked upwards in the air. From behind, around her fingers, that were grasping her crotch shamelessly, was a wet patch the size of a baseball staining her bloomers.

 

If she had leaked that much already, then she was really at her limit.

 

“I… I can’t hold it…”

 

Not a moment later after she said that, Yuuki began peeing right there in the middle of the parking garage.

 

Still doubled over, with her hands still squeezing her crotch ineffectively.

 

Golden liquid poured down, snaking it’s way through her fingers and falling down to the ground, accompanied by a muffled hissing. Yuuki sat silently, and because I was behind her, I couldn’t see her face.

 

Grimoire stared at Yuuki as she peed, grinning all the while. She was really a shameless woman.

 

Despite saying she was at her limit, Yuuki finished peeing rather quickly, and the puddle formed by her urine was negligible in size. It definitely didn’t seem like the kind of puddle someone would produce by holding it until they were at their limit.

 

Having finished, Yuuki shifted herself away from her puddle, buried her head in her hands, and began crying.

 

“Hey, Mashino-chan,” Grimoire called out in a soft voice, “It’s not your fault. I kind of forced this situation.”

 

Yuuki looked up at Grimoire with a mix of anger and confusion, and Grimoire pulled out the water bottle from before.

 

“I spiked this with a diuretic before offering some to you,” Grimoire admitted, “But it’s not because I’m a pervert or anything! I wanted to get a better idea of how far the Remora Eel’s progressed. It seems it’s right around your lower abdomen, which is why you wet yourself so easily. You reached your limit rather quickly not because your bladder filled up so fast, but because your muscles are weak down there right now.”

 

“So, this was all a consolation, so you could at least tell me how long I had left to live?” Yuuki asked bitterly.

 

“Not exactly. See, there is another option.”

 

Grimoire said that.

 

Yuuki had resigned herself to dying because she thought only two options existed-- either dying, or rebounding the curse and letting another person die instead.

 

However.

 

“There’s another way to deal with curses other than rebounding them,” Grimoire replied, “A way that doesn’t involve anyone dying.”

 

That’s what Grimoire said.

 

Just like that.

 

After making it sound like Yuuki would have to choose between dying or letting someone else die.

 

Grimoire gave that answer.

 

And then.

 

“Don’t think of me as heartless for hiding this until the very end,” Grimoire replied, as though she had read my thoughts, “After all, this is a solution where everyone becomes unhappy in the end.”

 

To Be Continued….

Edited by Railgun-sama (see edit history)
Link to post

 

Second Arc completed. I haven't fleshed out the next arc nearly as well as I had with this one after posting Sodachi Locked, but I want to go back to focusing on Sodachi and Takashiro after, since this arc focused exclusively on Takashiro and Yuuki's backstory. There's also a bigger focus on desperation in this part than in previous installments, so on the off chance you're just reading this story for that and you've actually made it this far, this chapter's for you.

Without further ado, let's get to the story!

-------------------------
Yuuki Eel -- Eel Half

007

 

“There, I’m done.”

 

Yuuki announced as she stepped out of my bathroom, hair still somewhat wet from the shower she just took.

 

Grimoire had told Yuuki to go home and shower while she made preparations. Well, it was less that showering was a necessary step in the process for dealing with the curse, and more that she didn’t want Yuuki standing in a gym uniform soaked with her own urine during the entire ritual.

 

Naturally, given that Yuuki was going to shower and change, it would be natural to assume we would go to her house. However, my house was much closer to the parking garage. Furthermore, we were dealing with a time-sensitive curse that could seriously kill Yuuki if we didn’t hurry along, so expediting the process was necessary.

 

Therefore, we had gone to my house.

 

I live in a relatively large house with my cousin and my aunt. It’s an older, traditional-style house near the edge of the large town we live in. In other words, it’s one of those wooden houses with paper doors and a zen garden with one of those rocking bamboo fountains that an anime adaptation could cut to during breaks in dialogue.

 

“Is it really okay for me to borrow your cousin’s clothes and underwear without her permission?”

 

Yuuki asked me, looking down at her outfit. She had changed out of her wet uniform, and was now wearing a white t-shirt with a yellow star in the center, an orange skirt, and a pair of bright blue socks. And although I couldn’t see them, underneath the skirt, Yuuki was wearing a pair of blue striped panties that belonged to my cousin.

 

She wasn’t wearing a bra, because the difference in power level between my cousin’s chest size and Yuuki’s was clearly over nine thousand, so there was no reason to bother trying.

 

Though, if I said that to my cousin aloud, she’d say something like since she was still growing, her chest wasn’t even in it’s final form yet.

 

“It’s fine.”

 

“Moreover, going into your cousin’s room when she’s not home and digging through her underwear drawer…”

 

“It’s fine.”

 

“I have to ask, what kind of relationship do you have with your cousin?”

 

“I’m sure that if we were born into different families, we would’ve crossed the line between adolescents and adults by now.”

 

“That’s way too straightforward!”

 

“Actually, as it is, I’m trying really hard not to make her a part of my harem.”

 

“You have a harem?”

 

“You sound interested. Ah, there are quite a few vacancies, so I’m sure there’s a position you could fill.”

 

“Who else is in your harem?”

 

“Right now, no one.”

 

“Then what harem are you talking about!” Yuuki asked, “Actually, didn’t you say you weren’t that kind of person in the first place?”

 

“I said I wasn’t the kind of person to get distracted by cliche things. I’m still deep down a guy who dreams about having that kind of relationship with a girl.”

 

“Ah, so you’re still a person who can fall in love.”

 

“I meant more specifically that I’m still a person who wants to do lewd things with a willing female close to my age.”

 

“No, you shouldn’t have gotten into specifics there. Leaving it vague and romantic gets you more appeal.”

 

That was the advice that Yuuki gave me.

 

“Ah, well, I guess I do want to fall in love too.”

 

“Don’t put it back in just because I said so.”

 

“No, I’m being serious. That’s something I do genuinely want. Well, I say that, but I haven’t made a huge attempt to talk to anyone this year. I guess it’s only been a month in, but… well, you saw Grimoire-san. She introduced me to this crazy world that I had no idea about, so I find it hard to talk to people about normal things anymore.”

 

“So, what you’re saying is, you’d find it easier to talk to someone who knows about the supernatural?”

 

I nodded.

 

“And, you’d find it easier to fall in love with someone who could understand you?”

 

Once again, I nodded.

 

Yuuki turned away, and I looked up in time to catch her face just before she hid it from my view.

 

She was blushing.

 

“W-well, I guess, since now I know about these things… in other words, now that I can talk to you about the supernatural…”

 

Yuuki trailed off, then shook her head.

 

“W-well, at the very least, I can make a pretty good friend to you, right?”

 

I wasn’t dense.

 

I knew what Yuuki wanted to say.

 

Well, maybe I was reading too much into it, but I was pretty sure that friendship wasn’t what Yuuki was going for there.

 

Did I like Yuuki?

 

Did Yuuki like me?

 

Before I could figure that out, Yuuki squeaked and pressed her hand between her legs again.

 

“Ooohh… I can’t believe Grimoire-san gave me a diuretic… I don’t think I’m going to be able to hold it until we get back.”

 

Before coming here, Grimoire had explained the full plan.

 

“We’re going to exorcise the Remora Eel,” Grimoire stated.

 

It sounded like an answer that stemmed entirely from her job as a vampire-exorcising specialist. She was even wearing the same kind of twisted grin she got when talking about fighting a strong vampire.

 

“Huh? We can do that?” I asked.

 

“Of course, It’s an Oddity, after all,” she replied, “We draw it out, make it take physical form, and destroy it. It’s that simple.”

 

“Wait, if you can just do something like that, why did you tell me I’d have to rebound the curse?” Yuuki asked, still looking rather unhappy at Grimoire.

 

“That’s because this method won’t remove the curse, it will only weaken it,” Grimoire answered.

 

Weaken.

 

It would only be weakened.

 

In other words, Yuuki would live, but she won’t fully recover.

 

The person who cursed her wouldn’t see her die.

 

But Yuuki herself wouldn’t get to recover.

 

And I, as her classmate and now friend, wouldn’t get to save her.

 

None of us would be fully satisfied.

 

That’s what Grimoire meant when she said everyone would be unhappy.

 

“With a curse, even if you destroy the base, the negative energy still remains bound to the person,” Grimoire explained, “So you’d keep the effects of the curse, but the severity of the curse would be lessened. The Remora Eel will die, and the weakened curse, rather than disappearing along with it, will disperse and spread throughout your entire body.”

 

In other words.

 

“I’ll become weak all over,” Yuuki replied.

 

“You’ll be unable to live a normal life,” Grimoire replied, “Everyday things like running, and carrying things, and pushing doors open-- things that normal people can do without thinking about it-- they’ll be like heavy exercise to you. Your heart and diaphragm, being muscles, will also weaken somewhat. In other words, you’ll have a weak heart and heavy breathing will become difficult. You’ll become a sickly person. It won’t be enough to kill you, but you will struggle.”

 

Grimoire looked at Yuuki with a sharp expression.

 

Her eyes looked like they were piercing through Yuuki’s very soul.

 

“In addition to all of that… once the base is destroyed. Once we exorcise the Remora Eel from you, rebounding the curse normally will become impossible. In other words, you will be unable to turn back. You will be cursed forever to live like that.”

 

Yuuki nodded.

 

“I… I understand.”

 

Yuuki clenched her fists at her sides and met Grimoire’s piercing gaze with a resolved expression.

 

“I understand, and I accept that fate.”

 

“Takashiro-kun, want to try to talk it over with her?”

 

“There’s nothing more to say,” I replied, “Yuuki-san’s already made up her mind.”

 

“Very well,” Grimoire nodded, “Then, I’ll begin the preparations here. Mashino-chan, go home and take a shower, and change into clean clothes. It’s not important for the ritual, I just don’t want you to be uncomfortable while waiting.”

 

“Thank you, I will.”

 

Grimoire then made her way towards the stairwell of the parking garage.

 

“I’ll be on the 6th floor. Takashiro-kun, I’m sure you understand from just that what your role will be in this ritual, correct?”

 

I nodded, “Yeah.”

 

“Good. Wait out here when you get back. I’ll come down and get you when I’m done. In the off chance you guys aren’t back before I finish, I’ll call you, Takashiro-kun.”

 

With that, Grimoire began walking up the stairs.

 

“Oh,” she paused, “And one more thing. Mashino-chan…”

 

“Huh?” Yuuki asked, tilting her head to the side.

 

“If you have to pee again, from right now until we begin the ritual. Hold it. The Remora Eel responds to muscles that you’re using the most. It will only migrate in one direction, so even if you ran a marathon now, it wouldn’t go back to your legs. But if you keep using your abdominal muscles to hold it in, it’ll be less inclined to move. You’ll slow its progress down, at least.”

 

“I’ll try…” Yuuki replied nervously.

 

“That curse moves quickly,” Grimoire replied, “If you don’t do at least that much, we might run out of time before the preparations are complete.”

 

“G-got it!” Yuuki answered.

 

“Good, now hurry up. If your house isn’t close, use a public bath and buy clothes. Just try not to be longer than thirty minutes.”

 

That was what Grimoire had said.

 

My house, with me running at full speed, was five minutes away from the parking garage.

 

Even taking into consideration the detours I’d have to take to ensure I took the least populated route and wasn’t seen by anyone, it wouldn’t be longer than seven minutes.

 

Seven minutes to get here, and Yuuki took another fifteen minutes to shower and change. So we had just enough time to get back.

 

“Let’s get going, then,” I said as we both stood at the doorway to my family’s home.

 

I lowered my back to let Yuuki piggy-back again, but that only seemed to cause Yuuki to blush and sputter incoherently.

 

“What’s wrong?” I asked, turning back to look at the brown-haired girl.

 

“I… I think it’s a bad idea to carry me in a position where my legs will be apart,” Yuuki pointed out, shuffling her legs together for emphasis, “I wouldn’t want to get your clothes wet again…”

 

I had carried Yuuki back on my back after she had wet herself, so naturally some of the dampness from her bloomers soaked into the back of my gym shirt. Both were currently in the washing machine, going through a cycle.

 

Also, because of that, I had changed clothes as well. I was now wearing a red t-shirt with a white skull design across the chest and a pair of light grey jeans. I had opted to keep my gym sneakers on since they were the best footwear I had for running in.

 

“R-right. Uh, I guess I’ll carry you like before, then. Ready?”

 

Yuuki squeezed her thighs together as though bracing herself and took a deep breath before nodding.

 

“I’m ready!”

 

I hoisted her up bridal-style once again, and tensed my legs up once more.

 

“Hold on,” I spoke, keeping my words intentionally vague.

 

And with that, we were off.

 

008

 

By the time we got back to the parking garage, Yuuki was, quite plainly, at her limit.

 

Well, I say by the time we got there like it had taken that long, but in truth from her silence during the trip, as well as how much she was fidgeting and squirming around in my arms, she had probably spent the entire trip nearing her limit.

 

In other words, the second we got to the fourth floor and found that Grimoire was still making preparations, Yuuki collapsed onto the floor and whimpered pitifully while shaking.

 

“That… that… unreasonable woman… I know it’s to help me… but giving me diuretic… then telling me to hold it-ahhh!”

 

Yuuki rubbed her knees together as she bounced up and down.

 

Well, I felt kind of helpless, since all I could do was watch her. Actually, more than helpless, I was trying to pointedly avoid watching her at all. It wasn’t like it was the kind of situation where I sympathized with her so much that watching her pitiful dance was painful, but moreso the fact that Yuuki was, in actuality, really attractive.

 

“Takashiro-san…”

 

I say that like it was some kind of surprise that Mashino Yuuki was attractive, but it was moreso that, after spending half a day with her and worrying about her nonstop, my bond with her has grown beyond that of a classmate. As such, where her natural beauty was something I could gloss over before, right now it was pretty much unavoidable.

 

“Takashiro-san!”

 

So, now that there was an attractive girl bouncing around in front of me, squirming and breathing heavily, even occasionally letting out a desperate moan, it was hard to watch for those kinds of reasons. In the first place, when a girl as well endowed as Yuuki bounces, naturally other things will bounce as well.

 

“TAKASHIRO-SAN!”

 

“E-ehh?”

 

“Y-you’re… you’re staring at me...  well, my chest in specifically… AH! I’m not wearing a bra! Are they poking out! Can you see them!?”

 

Even though Yuuki asked that, she didn’t make any effort to cover herself. Likely because both hands were jammed between her restless legs.

 

“A-ah, no, it’s not that, I was more focused on your desperation than your boobs.”

 

“E-eh?”

 

“A-ah, I mean, I was moreso feeling sorry for you, so I was watching you dance around cutely while you’re at your limit.”

 

“Ta-Takashiro-san…”

 

“I feel like I let something slip out accidentally again.”

 

“Y-you… you absolute pervert…you were watching me lewdly while I’m holding it all in, and you were enjoying it, right!?”

 

“Ah, that isn’t exactly… I mean, in that case, I was moreso watching your chest bounce… so…”

 

CLACK!

 

The sound of the hard rubber sole of a heavy boot striking concrete resonated through the mostly empty floor of the parking garage. The loud sound startled me, and Yuuki yelped before doubling over and shaking as she jammed her hands between her legs and crossed them as best as she could in her position.

 

I turned towards the stairwell of the parking garage, coming face to face to Grimoire Cutlass, wearing the same outfit, but with some sort of black and gold sailor hat resting on her head. One might imagine it was an accessory she brought out only when she was serious, but I had seen her fight vampires and she never once wore that hat. In fact, I had never seen her wear it before in my life.

 

The hat, combined with a wooden sword slung haphazardly over her shoulder, the woman looked like a right proper delinquent. Well, if a proper delinquent could be expected to wear her hoodie unzipped down to her navel.

 

Somehow, I feel like the zipper’s gotten lower since this afternoon.

 

“Alright, you lovebirds… I’m sure Mashino-chan  is anxious to get this over with, so let’s begin the extermination!”

 

With neither me nor Yuuki responding to that first comment, we both followed the violent, grinning woman up to the sixth floor.

 

It was almost unrecognizable as the inside of a parking garage.

 

Charms and talismans were plastered across the flat surfaces of the room. The windows were completely boarded up, letting in absolutely none of the late-afternoon sun. Small candles were placed around the room instead, arranged in no particular way and illuminating the room quite dimly.

 

Right next to the stairwell, there was a tall folding table set up along the wall, and there was an incense burner placed upon it off to once side. Smoke rose from the burner and surrounded the table, but seemed to dissipate rather quickly the further away it got from the source.

 

“Allow me to explain succinctly...” Grimoire spoke, jumping over to the table and sitting down atop of it, next to the incense burner, “..the process by which we will exorcise the Remora Eel. Mashino-chan’s still quite desperate, so the Remora Eel should be focused around the abdomen. This incense will weaken the Remora Eel and it should appear just under the surface of Mashino-chan’s body. Takashiro-kun… you’ll be responsible for extracting it and exterminating it. Well, the process for extermination is more or less just to crush it. It’s supernatural energy, so if you crush it’s shape, it’ll disperse and return to Mashino-chan in that weakened state.”

 

“Eh, T-T-Takashiro-san will be extracting it?” Yuuki asked, surprised.

 

“Don’t worry. I’ll be supervising. If anything goes wrong, I’ll step in,” Grimoire replied, “But Takashiro-kun’s my pupil, so I have to give him some tasks regardless.”

 

“B-but, I mean, more specifically than that, if it’s just below the skin, then, doesn’t that mean a surgical extraction? It’s not something a normal high school student can do bare-handed!”

 

“Have you already forgotten?” Grimoire smirked, nodding her head towards me, “Takashiro-kun’s no ordinary student.”

 

“My legs, you’ve probably already realized that I run far faster than any ordinary human can,” I noted, “And that seal on my arm that you wanted to rip off casually…”

 

I rolled my pant-legs up to my knees, and I unrolled my sleeve all the way to my shoulder. I then reached my left arm up to the talisman-like seal on my right arm and ripped it off in one motion.

 

Outwardly nothing changed.

 

But there were candled scattered around the room.

 

Because of that, the truth of my nature was revealed.

 

Both my legs, from halfway down the thighs to the feet, and my arm, all the way up to where my shoulder met my chest…

 

If you looked at my shadow, I’d look like a triple amputee floating in the air.

 

“Three of my four limbs… my legs and my right arm… are those of a vampire.”

 

That’s why I always wore pants even in the summer.

 

That’s why I needed to seal away my arm’s vampiric nature with a special talisman during the day.

The events of my spring break, which had been chaotic in nature and nearly cost me my life, lead to my body being like this.

 

But that’s a story for another time.

 

My focus was on saving Yuuki.

 

“Mashino-chan, when you’re ready, come over here and stand in the incense,” Grimoire instructed.

 

Yuuki hobbled over to the table and Grimoire fanned the incense towards the brown-haired girl. Being enveloped in the smoke seemed to cause Yuuki to have a strange reaction, because she let out a sigh that made me almost think she had wet herself again.

 

“Ah… that’s better…”

 

Come to think of it, if the Remora Eel was draining the strength from Yuuki’s lower abdomen, the incense that was designed to weaken the oddity would naturally give Yuuki some of her holding power back.

 

“There, now it should be visible from the outside. Mashino-chan, take off your skirt and raise your shirt up.”

 

“H-huh!?”

 

“Don’t look at me like I’m some kind of pervert,” Grimoire frowned, “If the Remora Eel is only visible underneath your skin, and it’s hanging around by your bladder, then naturally we’ll need to get a clear view of your bladder before Takashiro-san can extract it.”

 

I was expecting more of a protest from Yuuki, but either she was desperate enough that he just wanted to get it over with, or realized that, with her life on the line, she didn’t have any other choice.

 

Yuuki slipped the skirt she had borrowed from my cousin down and raised the shirt up, revealing a good portion of her stomach. I expected a girl who was dancing around like she was at her limit earlier to have a visibly full bladder, but there was only the slightest of bulges sticking out. It must’ve been because her desperation was more caused by her weakness than her full bladder.

More importantly, I could now see it.

 

A long, snaking mass that was darkening the skin around Yuuki’s stomach.

 

The eel disappeared underneath the band of Yuuki’s panties, but the tail was up around her belly button. In other words, I could pull it out without asking Yuuki to relinquish the last of her dignity.

 

“Here goes!”

 

I placed my left and my right shoulder and swung my whole arm to the side. With practiced skill, the tips of my fingers changed shape, extending into long claws that grew even longer until they were long and almost needle-like.

 

I pierced through the outer layer of Yuuki’s skin near her belly button, and Yuuki winced. Still, with just that, I was able to burrow deep enough to grab the tail of the Remora Eel.

 

“Ripping it out carelessly will damage Yuuki’s body,” Grimoire instructed, “Restrain the eel with your fingers first.”

 

I closed my eyes and visualized the full eel, extending my fingernails out like a cage to trap the eel completely. Now that it was restrained, I began slowly pulling, drawing the eel out of Yuuki tail-first.

 

Yuuki winced and grit her teeth in pain, but it wasn’t the kind of severe reaction one would normally expect to see from someone having something like an eel being ripped out of of their stomach. That’s mostly because the eel was more-or-less just spiritual energy.

 

Once the Remora Eel was out completely, I could see the truly horrifying oddity in full. It was dark blue with purple splotches, and rather than a standard fish mouth, it’s face was adorned with a suction cup-like appendage with hook-like spikes lining the outside edge.

 

Still, the Remora Eel was only terrifying in the context of a curse.

 

With no effort at all, I tossed the creature across the room, away from Yuuki.

 

In the next instant, my hand had transformed back into that of a normal human’s (or, I suppose, a normal vampire’s), and I lunged at the creature I had just tossed. Catching up with it immediately, I waited until I was directly above it and punched the eel into the floor.

 

The floor of the parking garage cracked a little, but it seemed like the charms scattered about everywhere protected the building from stress to some extent. If that punch had been uninhibited, it would’ve smashed the eel through to the fifth floor.

 

Needless to say, the Remora Eel was exorcised fully.

 

I let out a sigh and wiped some sweat from my brow (even though the fight lasted for a single moment, my human body still strained itself to keep up with my vampire limbs) before turning back around towards Yuuki and Grimoire.

 

Yuuki, who was holding her stomach where I had pulled the eel out from, smiled at me and Grimoire nodded approvingly, likely at the flashy way I dispatched the Remora Eel.

 

The Remora Eel suddenly began to glow, and the energy dispersed into the air, floating and sparkling through the air until they reached Yuuki. Once all the energy had returned to Yuuki, the light faded, and Yuuki looked around, dazed by what had just happened.

 

Almost immediately afterwards, Yuuki doubled over again, and jammed her hands between her legs.

 

“Alright, Mashino-chan, you don’t have to hold it anymore. Just head down to the fourth floor and…”

 

“I’m not… I won’t make it!” Yuuki whined, dancing around desperately. She looked around until she spotted a similar storm drain to the one on the fourth floor and rushed towards it. Without a moment’s hesitation, she squatted down facing away from us and began peeing, full force, through the panties she was wearing.

 

“AAAaaaaahhhhhhhhh,” Yuuki moaned, letting her pee flow out of her freely. She tilted her head back in pure bliss, and I found myself unable to take my eyes off her as she urinated right there in front of me. Sure, she was still wearing panties, but it was the first time I had seen anyone pee before me without it being an accident.

 

Yuuki had, like before, finished relatively quickly, but it had been longer than when she wet herself. As soon as she did, she leaned back and wavered, and I realized what was about to happen. Rushing up to her, I caught her just before she could collapse.

 

“Yuuki-chan, are you okay? Yuuki-chan!?”

 

Yuuki’s eyes were closed, but she was breathing softly and deeply. Through my right arm, I could feel her heartbeat as it pulsed in her chest, first quickly, then gradually slowing down.

 

She had fallen asleep.

 

“Mashino-chan’s weak now, so it’s not surprising she passed out like that,” Grimoire noted, “She’ll find herself lacking energy from now on, and I’m sure this won’t be the first time she collapses. Not to mention she just witnessed the supernatural in action. Even after telling her, I doubt she was prepared for everything.”

 

“R-right,” I nodded, looking down at Yuuki.

 

Moving her to the table with the incense (Grimoire moved the incense bowl out of the way), I set Yuuki down and turned to Grimoire.

 

“What next?”

 

Grimoire tilted her head to the side, “What do you mean? It’s over. The Remora Eel is exorcised.”

 

“Don’t play dumb,” I replied, “Earlier, when you told Yuuki-chan that there was no going back, you mentioned that rebounding the curse regularly would become impossible. However, you didn’t say it was impossible altogether. That means there must be some other method of rebounding the curse, even now that the Remora Eel has been exorcised.”

 

Grimoire let out an exasperated sigh, “I’m not going to use that option.”

 

“You’re just denying it flat-out?”

 

“I mean, Mashino-chan would deny it even if I told her, so there’s no sense in being pointlessly cruel.”

 

“Isn’t it crueler not to tell her that there’s that option?”

 

“That’s a naive way of thinking, Takashiro-kun,” Grimoire replied firmly, crossing her arms and looking down at Yuuki, “That girl… your classmate isn’t the kind of person who wants others to suffer in her stead. She said that, right?”

 

“Yeah, but now that the curse won’t kill the other person, rebounding it should be fine, right?”

 

“It should, if Mashino-chan was only concerned about not killing anyone,” Grimoire pointed out, “But that girl’s kindness and self-sacrifice run deeper than that. Actually, now that the curse isn’t bound to kill her, she’s probably far less hesitant now to carry that burden than if it would cost her her life. The consequences may have become far less extreme if she were to rebound the curse, but they’ve also become less extreme if she just chooses to burden it herself.”

 

“But that’s…”

 

“When a person is staring down the barrel of a gun, they’re true nature is revealed,” Grimoire recited, “Mashino-chan was given a life-or-death ultimatum, and she chose to die rather than to condemn another person to die. Even though that was her character, I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision to stick with. The way you’re looking at it, you think that now that the stakes are lower, that she’ll be more inclined to change her mind. However, all this does is make it easier for her to stick with her original decision.”

 

“But even still, the choice should be hers, right? Otherwise lying to her is just cruel!”

 

“Like I said, it’s telling her that would be cruel,” Grimoire replied, “We already know what decision she’ll make in the first place, but giving her that option will only put that burden on her instead. She’ll be determined to stick to what she feels is right, but on the days where her weakness gets in the way of things she wants to do and she becomes frustrated, that idea that there’s a way out brews in her mind. It’s like giving her a temptation that she’ll never give into, but will always haunt her. Like this, we may be lying to her, but in the end, the only burden she has to shoulder is the curse itself. We bear the burden of lying to her, she is spared the additional burden of that temptation. That’s why it’s less cruel not to say anything.”

 

I looked down at Yuuki. Despite Grimoire’s eccentric appearance and personality, she was wise, and I knew she was right. Still, I couldn’t help but feel dissatisfied with that.

 

Grimoire wrapped me in a hug abruptly, pressing my head into her cleavage and stroking my hair like I was a child.

 

“You’re probably thinking something like how that’s a very dissatisfying outcome, right, Haru-kun?” she spoke, “but not everything in life is supposed to have a full resolution. The cruelty here is in the fact that such a kind, honest girl had to get cursed in the first place. If you’re going to feel dissatisfied… if you’re going to feel frustrated, direct it at that unknown person who cursed Mashino-chan.”

 

Grimoire was a very dangerous woman. Despite finding her to be an exhibitionist pervert and disliking the current position I was in, the red-haired woman always smelled of vanilla and strawberries, and her usually rough hands that she used to fight vampires and other strong oddities were uncharacteristically gentle as she ran them through my hair. It calmed me down quickly, and I nearly felt like falling asleep standing up.

 

That was, until Grimoire pushed me off of her and jammed a hand between her legs.

 

“Ah… I forgot… I drank that diuretic too. I was too busy setting up this room that I didn’t have time for a break either…”

 

The red-haired woman sauntered off to the stairway.

 

“I’ll be on the fourth floor. If you walk in on me, I’ll punch you through the wall before you can re-apply that seal to your arm and expose you to the late afternoon sun.”

 

With that, I was left alone in the room with Yuuki, who was sleeping soundly on the table in a pair of wet panties and a t-shirt she borrowed from my cousin.

 

I sighed and placed the skirt she discarded earlier over her legs. I did say getting urine on them was a problem, but that was mostly to encourage Yuuki to hold on. I might have some awkward things to explain to my cousin or aunt if either of them caught me, but I wasn’t worried about that right now.

 

Actually, for the first time since I saw Yuuki collapse today, I let myself relax fully. I was mentally worn out, and exerting myself so much and relying on my vampire powers was exhausting. Letting out a yawn, I sat down and leaned against a support pillar near the stairway and closed my eyes, falling asleep on the sixth floor of that abandoned parking garage with Yuuki resting nearby.

 

I don’t know if I can truly say this, but, it was over.

 

009

 

And now for the conclusion, or perhaps it’s the punchline.

 

Golden Week came and went.

 

Well, I make it sound like it was no big deal, but in honesty Golden Week was a huge ordeal. Nothing really spectacular happened, but Grimoire made me spar against Dramaturgy to help me train with my vampire abilities. Actually, she had said something scary like “He can’t reach his full potential with only the right arm, so if you want to rip of his left arm, I’ll just switch it out for the vampire version, and he’ll have the full set.”

 

I fought harder than ever and I got to keep my left arm.

 

It’s worth mentioning that I had also run into Yuuki once or twice during Golden Week. Both times had been when I was rather close to her house, and both times she looked tired, like even walking that far had been a burden. She said she was exercising every day so she could at least walk to and from school properly, but it definitely seemed hard on her.

 

She also developed her cough then. She had always been a little asthmatic, but now that a simple walk was like running a marathon, she was pushing her lungs to their limits.

 

During one of our run-ins, I asked her in a roundabout way that, if there was any way to rebound the curse now that the Eel was destroyed and wouldn’t kill the person who targeted her if she’d be fine with that. I said it in a way that made it clear I was supposed to be speaking hypothetically, but even then she still said she’d carry the curse.

 

Grimoire had been right.

 

But still, Yuuki was suffering.

She wouldn’t let it show on her face, but I could tell she was struggling with her curse.

 

Then, we met back at school after Golden Week.

 

Yuuki asked me to stay behind with her after class.

 

Well, Yuuki had to stay behind for classroom duty, and I stayed behind to help her out, but after that, Yuuki pulled me to the side to talk.

 

“Takashiro-san,” Yuuki asked, turning to cough into her elbow before looking back up at me, “I have a request to ask of you.”

 

“There’s no need to be so formal, Yuuki-chan,” I replied casually, “What is it?”

 

“Well, I realize it’s going to be difficult… or rather, impossible for me to continue on as class representative from now on,” Yuuki admitted.

 

“Wait, you’re going to step down?” I asked, a little surprised despite knowing that she was right. The position of class representative would put a lot of strain on her, and she was already struggling with just the basic stuff.

 

“Yeah. I hate to leave my post, but I don’t have a choice. But I want to leave it in capable hands,” Yuuki replied, “That’s why I think you should be my replacement.”

 

“H-huh?” I tilted my head, “Isn’t it a democratic thing in the first place?”

 

Yuuki shook her head, “Well, technically it is. Actually, in the first place, the vice-representative is supposed to step up if the class rep steps down, but I’ve talked to Sanae-san about it already. She’s not interested in taking my job, to be honest. In that event, they hold a new election. Still, if I nominate someone I feel is capable, I’m sure the majority will agree with me. You’ll be elected for sure.”

 

“Well, I’m not so sure I’m cut out for being the class rep…” I scratched the back of my head, “In the first place, I’m not really friends with many of the other students. Going from that to being the class rep is like jumping from the level five boss to the level fifty boss without grinding at all in between.”

 

“I know I’m asking a lot of you,” Yuuki began, “but I won’t forget how you jumped to my aid, even though I was a random stranger. Even though you had no way of knowing if I was actually possessed by an oddity or not. That kind of kindness is part of your nature, even if you hide it away. I know you can do this.”

 

I was about to refuse again, but Yuuki was looking at me pleadingly by now. In the first place, who was I to refuse her, when I told her I would save her and only wound up half-saving her. I saved her life, but it was because there wasn’t a way to resolve this without involving another person that Yuuki was in this situation to begin with.

 

“I’ll do it,” I replied firmly, “I’ll succeed you as class rep, and become a class rep you can be proud to have nominated.”

 

I said something cool like that.

 

“Thank you so much, Takashiro-san!” Yuuki beamed, “Well, I should be heading home. I’m feeling a little sleepy already.”

 

“I’ll walk you there,” I said, “If you get tired, I don’t mind carrying you again.”

 

“A-ah… actually… Takashiro-san… do you mind carrying me from here? I seem to have overexerted myself today with the classroom duty...”

 

Looking at Yuuki a little more closely, I noticed that her whole body was quivering like she was having trouble standing up, and her forehead was glossed over with sweat.

 

I nodded, “Sure… sure thing.”

 

I bent down and extended my arms back to let Yuuki climb up on my back, but the brown-haired girl simply shook her head.

 

“N-not… not like that… at least… I’d prefer it if you carried me the… the other way.”

 

With a pink tinge on her cheeks, Yuuki said that to me.

 

I smiled and nodded, turning around and hoisting Yuuki up off her feet. Even though we were still near the school entrance, where we could be seen and rumors would start up, I walked casually to the sidewalk.

 

The late afternoon sun sunk lower into the sky, and a golden glow was cast over the entire city. It was a spectacle to behold, bright enough that the obtrusive lights of distant skyscrapers were still drowned out, but everything was painted in brilliant colors.

 

As I set off towards Yuuki’s home, I felt the brown-haired girl tug on my dress shirt.

 

“No running this time.”

 

“I won’t run.”

 

“No taking shortcuts.”

 

“I don’t know any to your house.”

 

“Don’t drop me.”

 

“Even if you took my seal off and my arm caught fire, I won’t drop you.”

 

Like that, walking casually through that golden town, I carried Yuuki to her home.

 

Then, later that night.

 

I found myself walking up to the fourth floor of a familiar abandoned parking garage.

 

“I was expecting you to show up here,” Grimoire replied, smirking as she wolfed down some meat she had just removed from a portable grill. There were more slices of beef searing on the grill in front of her, and even after I entered, she didn’t take her eyes off them.

 

Without asking why I was there. Without waiting for me to so much as acknowledge her greeting, she held up another piece of meat.

 

“People like us need to enjoy all the meat we can while we’re young! Meat is… well, I think meat’s probably all someone like me needs to be happy.”

 

Grimoire had a youthful appearance, but that didn’t mean she was young at all. Referring to herself as young only hinted at her delusions.

 

“Hey, Grimoire-sensei,” I replied, “You said you were expecting me. Does that mean you know why I came here?”

 

“I can guess,” Grimoire grinned, “After all, it was yours and Mashino-chan’s first day back after Golden Week, correct?”

 

“R-right.”

 

“So then, you’ve clearly come to me for some relationship advice. After all, she went ahead and confessed to you, right?”

 

“..........”

 

“Huh? Was I off? Oh, did you confess to her instead?”

 

“Forget about being off,” I replied dryly, “You’re so wrong it’s almost painful. In the first place, why would I go to an exhibitionist pervert for relationship advice? Besides, there’s nothing between us romantically.”

 

I said.

 

Well, it wasn’t like I hadn’t noticed.

 

Yuuki probably, no…

 

Yuuki definitely had feelings for me.

 

Back then, I might have been the same. I might’ve also had feelings for Yuuki.

 

But even if Yuuki had confessed, I wouldn’t have accepted her feelings.

 

After all.

 

I was planning on doing something that Yuuki would never forgive me for.

 

If she would wind up hating me, what was the point of letting her fall in love with me in the first place?

 

“I came here for a different reason,” I explained, “Grimoire-sensei, please… tell me how I can rebound Yuuki’s curse now that the Remora Eel has dispersed!”

 

I bowed down to Grimoire in prostration, that was how serious I was.

 

“Oho~? You plan on rebounding the curse? Have you gone and convinced Mashino-san… or…” Grimoire paused, her lips curling into a twisted smirk, “This is something you’re going to do on your own?”

 

“Even if she hates me afterwards, even if it’s going against her own morals… I’m not so selfless as to let my friend suffer for the sake of some cruel person who’d try to kill her.”

 

Grimoire let out a sigh and nodded, “Even if I didn’t tell you myself, you’d just wind up researching it. Actually, you might find erroneous information and make things worse, so I’ll just tell you. However, before I do, understand this: I will not help you with rebounding the curse in any way, so long as she doesn’t wish it.”

 

“That’s fine,” I nodded.

 

“Very well. To rebound the spell now that the focus of the spiritual energy… the oddity that formed the basis of the spell has been destroyed, you need four things. The first is the physical form of the person who has been cursed-- in other words, their body. The second is blood from the person who cursed the victim. The third is the name of the person who cursed the victim, and the fourth…”

 

Grimoire paused to grab another piece of meat. She held it up to her mouth and she flashed her canines in a toothy grin.

 

They weren’t on the level of vampire fangs.

 

But one would definitely call them sharper than an average human’s.

 

“The fourth thing you’ll need… is a vampire that can also be considered an Oddity Slayer. That is, a vampire who can drain the energy from oddities instead of just humans. Basically, a vampire of the same rare type as that iron-blooded, hot-blooded, cold-blooded vampire,  Kissshot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade.”

 

The strongest vampire.

 

The king of oddities.

 

I had met Grimoire Cutlass during spring break because she had been drawn to a nearby town at the prospect of hunting such a vampire. However, she found that there was too much competition there, and furthermore, that Dramaturgy, whom she was still on bad terms with, was pursuing her, so Grimoire caught onto the scent of another vampire.

 

I don’t think it needs to be said, but that other vampire was the original owner of my vampiric legs and right arm.

 

I needed a vampire who had more-or-less the same capabilities as Heart-under-blade to rebound the curse on Yuuki.

 

And Grimoire wouldn’t help me at all.

 

Which also meant that asking Dramaturgy, who despite resolving things with Grimoire still gave off the impression that he rather disliked me, was also out of the question.

 

Though even before worrying about all of that, I still needed to figure out who the person was that cursed Yuuki in the first place, if that was even possible. So even if I could figure out how I was going to get a vampire to cooperate without Grimoire's help, I still wouldn't be ready to help Yuuki. One of the strong points of curses was that they're completely anonymous, and if I went through the trouble of asking a vampire to help me and wound up picking the wrong person, I'm not sure what would happen. I doubt they'd offer me a second chance. In the worst case, they'd get mad that I wasted their time and kill me.

 

Even so...

 

“I’ll do it,” I replied, “Even if it takes me fifty years. Even if it takes me a hundred years… I’ll finish saving Yuuki-chan."

 

-- Yuuki Eel End --

Link to post
  • 1 month later...

 

Here's the third arc! Yes, yes, I know. It's been a while. I recently got a new job, and the training period, as well as just getting the swing of things in general, hasn't left me with a plethora of free time. Still, that's winding down and my new job gives me a lot of down-time in the first place, so I'm hoping to get back into writing this full force. I have a lot planned for this story, both in the desperation/wetting sense and also with the plot, so look forward to it!

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Sanae Frog

001

 

Black.

 

All I saw was black.

 

No, I hadn’t gone mysteriously blind or anything. Nor had I been forced into such a state by circumstances beyond my control. The reason why all I saw was black was because I had my eyes closed.

 

I was trying to sleep.

 

It was early November, so the days were growing shorter and shorter as we approached the winter solstice. For most people, that would simply mean that the days would grow colder and they’d have to start wearing jackets and the like over their school uniforms. However, to someone like me, who was training under a vampire-exorcising specialist, it had extra importance.

 

More specifically, as the days grew shorter, the time both vampires and humans spent outside together grew longer. Humans, who had a set schedule in today’s modern society despite the change in daylight hours, and vampires, who were forced to wait until the sun had set to move around, would cross paths more often.

 

In other words, someone like Grimoire could become very busy.

 

Well, I say that, but from what I understand, there aren’t many vampires in Japan.

 

To the extent that Dramaturgy, and the other half-vampire vampire hunter that had come specifically to chase down Kissshot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, had already left Japan.

 

That being said, with those two gone, Grimoire was probably the strongest vampire-exorcising specialist left.

 

In other words, while she was staying somewhere that wasn’t well-known for vampire activity, she had also made the entirety of Japan her territory when it came to vampire-slaying. When I put it like that, it sounds like she should be busy every night.

 

But most of the time, I find her lounging around the abandoned parking garage.

 

Well, it does seem like she’s doing her job, since sometimes I come there and there’s some other assortment of vampire body parts from someone I’ve never met. I sometimes worry she wants to make more people like me, but she’s assured me she won’t take on any new disciples, and that what happened to me was due to extraneous circumstances.

 

I’m less inclined to believe that second part fully.

 

More to the point, Grimoire has been calling me over to her base of operations more frequently, and because the days are getting shorter, that means she has more time to train me at my “full power”.

 

In other words, I was sleeping because I was being overworked, and even though it was the lunch period at school, I would take any opportunity I got to make up some of that lost rest.

 

“Oh? Is that Takashiro-san sleeping during lunchtime? That’s rather unbecoming of the class representative, don’t you think?”

 

That teasing tone wasn’t the harsh, critical voice of Oikura Sodachi, nor was it the gentle reprimanding of Mashino Yuuki.

 

“Are you saying you’re embarrassed for my sake, Sanae-san?”

 

Senryuu Sanae.

 

Without opening my eyes, I could describe her perfectly.

 

A girl who carried herself like a princess, yet had the tongue of a dragon.

 

Her warm brown eyes and long, black hair that she wore in a straight cut gave her the appearance of traditional beauty, a proper Yamato Nadeshiko. She had a slender and well-endowed figure, and even though she wore the school’s uniform to regulation, she always managed to look well dressed compared to the others.

 

However, that belied her mischievous, teasing personality.

 

It wasn’t the kind of teasing that exhibitionist woman who lives in an abandoned parking garage likes to partake in. It’s more like a kind of meddling.

 

In other words, Sanae stuck her nose in places where you really didn’t want her to butt in.

 

“Embarrassed? Well, I guess that’s part of it, but I moreso wanted to know what’s wrong. After all, despite looking like a delinquent, you’re actually rather well-behaved. Being tired in the middle of the day is more Yuuki-chan’s shtick than yours, isn’t it?”

 

I previously had no intention of giving Sanae the satisfaction of making eye-contact, but her statement about Yuuki made me open my eyes.

 

Sanae was standing next to my desk, smirking like she was planning something.

 

“Oh, those eyes. They always catch me off guard… Red eyes! Are you sure you’re not some kind of demon or something?”

 

“Connecting red (赤 - aka) with demon (赤 - ma) , wouldn’t that make me a Red Mage (赤魔[道士]- akama[doushi])?”

 

“Well, your name, Takashiro, and your hair, both allude to the color white, so maybe you’re a white mage instead.”

 

“No, if anything, I’m more of a demon,” I replied obtusely.

 

“Well, as a demon, you still need proper sleep.”

 

“So in the end I’m still being lectured.”

 

“Maybe you’re not getting proper sleep because you and Oikura-san have been doing unmentionable things together,” Sanae proposed, her lips curling into a smirk, “Actually, come to think of it, Oikura-san hasn’t shown up today either.”

 

“What kind of conclusion is that!?” I asked, indignant, “Besides, there’s nothing going on between me and Sodachi-san. That was just a rumor!”

 

“Oh, but was it? Don’t you visit her apartment every week? She even lives alone, I hear.”

 

“I’ve told you before! She’s helping me with mathematics.”

 

“Hmm… so was she also helping you in mathematics when you two got locked in the classroom together a month ago?”

 

“Why do I get the feeling that you were the one who spread that rumor in the first place!?”

 

I yelled that out without thinking about it too much, but Sanae just said something rather interesting.

 

She said we got locked in.

 

Due to the events that transpired in the wake of us getting trapped in the classroom together, us three involved parties swore to never mention anything to anyone else. Therefore, the only people who knew Sodachi and I had been locked in that classroom were Sodachi, Yuuki, and me.

 

So, how did Sanae learn about it?

 

“Eh, don’t look so surprised that I know. Mashino-san and I are pretty much best friends, so we tell each other everything.”

 

That statement seemed pretty far from the actual truth.

 

“Also, I stole her phone and listened to some of the recorded calls.”

 

“That’s so shamelessly criminal I don’t even know how to rebuttal.”

 

“Actually, I’m the one who set Mashino-san’s phone to record calls in the first place without her knowing!”

 

“Are you a psychopath or something?”

 

“Well, she found me out eventually, so I guess I won’t be doing that again.”

 

“That’s relieving to hear, if you’re sincere about that.”

 

Sanae grinned, pointing her finger at me and snapping her other hand, “Anyway, you and your secret lover Oikura-san are staying up all night doing unspeakable things, which is why you’re so tired lately.”

 

I could only react by staring blankly at the hime-haired girl.

 

Don’t say that and point your figure like you’ve solved the case or something!

 

“Do I even need to tell you you’re off the mark?” I asked.

 

“Nope. I’ve pretty much decided I’m right anyway, so anything you say now would be wasting your breath.”

 

Sanae said that with an innocent grin on her face.

 

Vainly, ineffectually, I replied with, “Just don’t start any rumors again. Regardless of my personal stakes in the matter, it would be unbecoming of the class’s vice-representative to go causing trouble for a transfer student.”

 

“Yes, I understand, Takashiro-sama.”

 

What’s with that random formality?

 

No, that wasn’t important.

 

The important part was that Sanae was grinning mischievously, like she definitely wasn’t sincere at all.

 

I found myself rubbing the bridge of my nose irritably.

 

I don’t know how, for the first month of school, Yuuki put up with this woman.

 

No, come to think of it, the vice-representative is appointed by the class representative… so that means Yuuki specifically chose Senryuu Sanae.

 

I had been working off the assumption that Sanae had been elected for her charms and good looks, but now that I’ve realized that important detail, I feel as though I’ve been missing something critical.

 

Namely, if Senryuu Sanae has a history with Mashino Yuuki…

 

If this infuriatingly nosy woman has some sort of reason to despise Yuuki that started before our third year of high school…

 

Then maybe Sanae was a lead.

 

Maybe Senryuu Sanae was the one who cursed Mashino Yuuki.

 

“Oh, those demon eyes of yours have grown more intense, Takashiro-san,” Sanae noted, “What’s wrong now?”

 

I was about to turn away and dismiss it, when I saw something flicker on Sanae’s shoulder.

 

It was brief, like a subliminal message in the middle of a movie that you barely have time to register.

 

It was something small, sitting on her shoulder.

 

Something small and green, with large bulbous eyes and long, folded legs.

 

A frog.

 

By the time I had registered what it was I had just seen, it was gone, and before I had time to think about it, right then and there, someone who had gotten up to throw away their garbage from lunch tripped, and a can of black coffee was sent flying across the room.

 

The can spun around, spraying its contents all over the bags, desks, and floor. It was like someone had thrown a rotating sprinkler through the air.

 

The can careened through the air and smacked me square in the face, splashing me with col, bitter coffee. It then dropped into my lap and I felt coffee spilling out all over the pants of my school uniform.

 

It had spilled in a way that made it look like I had totally wet myself.

 

I glared at the can with irritation as it fell off my lap and onto the floor below.

 

Everything was a mess.

 

Everything except for Sanae.

 

She was standing right in front of me. There was no way she could’ve avoided being splashed a little bit when I was hit square in the face with the can.

 

“Oh, Takashiro-san, that’s an unfortunate look for you,” Sanae snickered, trying and failing to sound sympathetic as she held back a laugh.

 

But I no longer cared about that.

 

The frog…

 

And the fact that she had gone entirely untouched by the rain of coffee…

 

Even before that, I had suspected something was off about Sanae, specifically regarding her relationship with Yuuki.

 

But now that I had seen those two things, I was sure of one thing.

 

Senryuu Sanae, who was still gazing at me with eyes filled with laughter…

 

The vice-representative had her hands deep into the world of the occult.

 

002

 

“A Fortune Toad?” Grimoire asked, sounding rather incredulous at the theory I had just presented to her.

 

I was currently walking around the train station after school, holding my cell phone to my ear as I conversed with my mentor about the incident with Sanae. I had come here without a real purpose, so I wound up walking around aimlessly as I explained the situation.

 

“Yeah,” I answered confidently, “A Fortune Toad, and oddity that has powers over the fortune and misfortune of others. They’re Japanese-born oddities stemming from ancient myths regarding how frogs would show up in rice fields just after a much-needed rainstorm. Obviously, it’s common sense that frogs would show up when it rains, but back then they became an object of worship.”

 

“It’s good that you’ve been studying oddities,” Grimoire replied, “But it’s equally important to learn how to filter out what’s important with frivolous information. The question is, why do you believe Sanae to be possessed by a Fortune Toad?”

 

My efforts to show off had backfired, and I felt slightly dejected. I mean, in the first place, Grimoire was also known to go in-depth when explaining oddities. I distinctly remember her taking quite a while to fully explain to me the world I had been plunged into on the night I met her.

 

Either way, Grimoire had a point. How the Fortune Toad became an oddity is irrelevant. The important part is how it affects the world around it. In this case, it was more crucial to focus on its influence on Sanae.

 

“Sanae-san seems to be able to redirect misfortune.”

 

In contrast to my desire to show off earlier, this answer was direct and concise.

 

“Really now?”

 

“Well, to put it simply, someone splashed coffee all over the classroom. Yet even though I got the worst of it, Sanae, who was standing right next to me, was untouched.”

 

“Hmmm. Yes, that does sound like redirection of misfortune.”

 

“Moreover, I saw it.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I saw the Fortune Toad sitting on Sanae-san’s shoulder. It was only for an instant, like a flicker, but I saw it.”

 

“Hehe, see,” Grimoire replied, and I could tell she was grinning on the other end of the phone, “You got mad at me for it over summer break, but those new eyes of yours are already coming in handy, aren’t they?”

 

“They’re still irritating. Even with the seal, they’re too sensitive to light… and I can’t believe no one’s noticed my eyes changing from brown to red.”

 

“They haven’t noticed because they suit you too well.”

 

“I resent that.”

 

“I’m sure, Takashiro-kun,” Grimoire replied dismissively, “However… what makes you so sure what you saw was a Fortune Toad?”

 

“Eh?”

 

It was a dumb, automatic response, and Grimoire let out a short, soft chuckle at it. Yet was my response really that unexpected. After all, I had already answered that question, right?

 

“I mean, didn’t I already establish that Sanae-san’s misfortune was redirected? Isn’t that the signature of the Fortune Toad?”

 

“You’re correct. The Fortune Toad is the only oddity known to both possess the form of a toad and also redirect misfortune. In fact, the number of oddities that specialize in redirecting fortune or misfortune can be said to be very low in the first place. Among them, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that the Fortune Toad is the most common one to encounter in Japan. In other words, I can’t fault you for so confidently declaring that what you encountered was a Fortune Toad. However, aren’t you only assuming that the oddity you saw sitting on Sanae-san’s shoulder had, in fact, redirected misfortune?”

 

“............”

 

“Takashiro-kun, are you still so naive?” Grimoire asked, her tone losing its playfulness, “You something that looked like redirected misfortune, but aren’t there other explanations as well? If you see a vampire burning in daylight, it’s natural to assume that they’re burning because of the sun. However, isn’t it also possible that they drank holy water, burst into flames, and in their pain they ran out of the cover of shade? It’s not a rational thing to assume, especially since the first option is much more likely. However, oddities are not rational creatures. The occult is a world where everything affects everything else in different ways. If a specialist carelessly approaches a problem assuming one thing, they could wind up doing more harm than good. It’s important to consider all possibilities, not just the most likely ones. That’s why specialists have a tendency to drag their feet when dealing with oddities. They’re not procrastinating. Instead, they’re observing, waiting to confirm if they’re really dealing with the right oddity. That’s the one thing I hate about doing work that doesn’t involve exorcising vampires.”

 

“Somehow, I didn’t picture you the type of person to dislike sitting around and waiting.”

 

“No, you misunderstand. That’s not the part I hate. The part I hate is, simply, having to watch oddities do what they want. Having to watch people suffer because of the supernatural, without being able to take action.”

 

That was an unusually compassionate sentiment, coming from Grimoire.

 

Well, I suppose it wasn’t entirely unfounded. After all, she had gone out of her way to rescue me after my own incident over spring break. I didn’t have money or skills to offer, and at the time, I was just a normal human. She had no reason to bother with me, especially since it directly interfered with one of her jobs at the time.

 

In other words, she had rescued me out of the kindness of her own heart, at a detriment to her.

 

Well, in the end, I became a valuable asset to her, now that I’ve been given body parts of a vampire.

 

I guess I was the result of her good karma.

 

“Well, moving forward, I suggest you test Sanae-san’s ability to redirect misfortune. Do you still have that package I gave you over summer break?”

 

“You mean you want me to use that?”

 

“Well, unless you can think of a better way to cause Sanae-san misfortune that can be redirected. However, I would imagine my method is far less violent and far more subtle than anything you could come up with. We can’t just repeat what happened today. A scenario like that doesn’t rule anything out.”

 

“..... Fine, I’ll do it.”

 

“Do what?”

 

That was not Grimoire’s voice.

 

In fact, that voice had not come over the phone at all.

 

“Oh, is there someone else there?” Grimoire asked playfully, “I’ll leave you two alone, then.”

 

With that, the red-haired exhibitionist I called my mentor hung up the phone, and I was left staring at a familiar face.

 

Silver twintails, billowing in the breeze.

 

A pale, fragile-looking figure, that belied her abrasiveness and aloofness.

 

“Sodachi-san!”

 

“That sounded like a serious conversation. Tell me, what is it that you plan on doing? Have you become a criminal in the day I was gone from school?”

 

Right.

 

Sodachi hadn’t been at school today.

 

“N-no! It’s nothing like that!” I held up my arms defensively, “It’s just work, I guess.”

 

“You mean to say it involves the supernatural, then?” Sodachi tilted her head to the side, “Is that what you’re telling me?”

 

“S-something like that.”

 

Sodachi scowled at me.

 

Sanae had been speculating that me and Sodachi were lovers because we were close, but that was actually not the case. A week ago, after I told Sanae about how Yuuki and I met and became friends, she started acting cold to me again. It was on a level where I was pretty sure it wasn’t just because she didn’t believe me about the supernatural.

 

Well, to put it simply, I don’t think it was at all because she didn’t believe me about the supernatural. If it was simply that she didn’t believe me, she could’ve done a number of things, like demand I show her the powers of my vampiric limbs, or take her to Grimoire herself to talk to her. Since she wasn’t asking me to do anything to prove I was telling the truth, I could only conclude that she believed me.

 

Yet, ever since that day, she’s distanced herself from me. She had been treating me almost as coldly as when we first met, and today, the day we were supposed to have math tutoring, she didn’t even come to school.

 

But…

 

If it was just that she was avoiding me, she would have no reason to approach me now, outside of school and in her free time. Even if we had been going the same way, it would’ve been simple enough to avoid me.

 

“Whether you’re dealing with the supernatural or not doesn’t seem like a question ‘something like that’ applies to.”

 

“Well, in short, I am dealing with the supernatural.”

 

“Is Mashino-san involved?”

 

“Only tangentially… I think.”

 

Sodachi scowled at me again, and I could tell immediately she expected me to elaborate.

 

“W-what I mean is, I’m dealing with someone I only know because of Yuuki-chan, but whether this particular incident has anything to do with Yuuki-chhan or her problem is something I haven’t determined yet.”

 

“In other words, you’re suspicious of the person you’re dealing with?” Sodachi asked directly, “You think they might have something to do with Mashino-san’s curse?”

 

“Well,” I paused, “I don’t think they cursed Yuuki-san, but I think she has the expertise to teach someone else how to curse someone in the first place. She’s that kind of person. However, she might be in over her head this time, if she’s trying to control the powers of this particular oddity.”

 

“Oh, so in the end, she’s another one of your damsels in distress?” Sodachi narrowed her eyes, “The girl of the week who needs your saving?”

 

That came out suddenly.

 

Abruptly.

 

An outburst that was both unexpected and scathing.

 

But, it belied another emotion, one that caused a rose-colored tinge to creep up on Sodachi’s face.

 

It was there for a brief moment, before it faded into a dull glare. Even though she was still scowling, it didn’t look nearly as imposing as before.

 

I chose my words carefully.

 

“It’s not about saving one person over another,” I replied, “They need my help and expertise. It’s a job. Besides, in this case, everyone around Sanae-san will be put in danger if she clings to the Fortune Toad she’s befriended, so I guess you could say I’m saving everyone.”

 

Sodachi didn’t seem content with this answer.

 

“You’re despicable,” Sodachi replied, “Tone down that unattractive egomania of yours. The only one you’re saving is yourself.”

 

“Maybe so,” I replied, “But if other people benefit from it, that’s the same as saving others, right?”

 

“Only if you’re actually talking about something dangerous here.”

 

“If you want to know how dangerous it is, I could tutor you on Oddities.”

 

“Aren’t you still learning from that exhibitionist red-haired squatter who lives in a parking garage?”

 

“Well, it would be the same as you tutoring me on math, even though you’re also taking math classes.”

 

“I’m not interested in things of the supernatural,” Sodachi dismissed.

 

“Suit yourself,” I shrugged.

 

“It’s unfortunate, but I guess we’ll be seeing each other in class tomorrow, then,” Sodachi sighed, turning around to leave, “Oh, and math tutoring is cancelled forever. I don’t feel like dealing with you anymore.”

 

“That’s fine. At least today I have other things to take care of in the first place,” I replied vaguely, thought it wasn’t like I was lying. I had a few preparations to make before school tomorrow if I was going to confirm Sanae’s possession of a Fortune Toad.

 

We turned our backs toward each other and I heard Sodachi walk away. Letting out a heavy sigh, I turned around and watched as she crossed the street towards her apartment.

 

Just before I turned back around, however, I caught sight of something discarded on the ground. It was something like a thin bracelet. I picked it up, and realized it was made of thin plastic and had a name and a barcode running across it.

 

A hospital bracelet.

 

“Who dropped this here, I wonder?” I asked aloud, turning the bracelet so I could read the name fully.

 

Familiar characters ran across the white surface, reading in clean, black print:

 

“Oikura Sodachi”

 

003

 

“I’m home!” I called out, sliding open the traditional paper doors to my aunt’s home and stepping in. Taking my shoes off and replacing them with a pair of house-friendly slippers, I glanced into the main room, and my eyes fell immediately upon a figure lounging in front of the TV.

 

The figure was a girl about two years my junior, clad in the uniform of an entirely different high school. She had silver hair tied up in a short ponytail and pale grey eyes that gazed idly at the television. A half-eaten rice cracker stuck out from her mouth, bouncing as she munched on it.

 

Her name was Yakamoto Akane.

 

She was the daughter of my mother’s sister. In other words, my cousin.

 

She appeared to be watching some anime I’d never seen before about high school girls driving tanks. Ordinarily, I might’ve been inclined to ask her about it, but I had a lot on my mind. There was the whole matter with Sanae and what was probably a Fortune Toad, and now there was that bracelet I found. I really just wanted to head to my room and think things through, so I passed by my cousin without another word.

 

My aunt had married into a rather well-off family, something like they were descended from a famous samurai or something. The house had belonged to my uncle, but he had died not too long after Akane was born, leaving her, my aunt, and me alone in an overly-large home.

 

Since the house was pretty big, it took me a few moments to get to my room.

 

Once I was there, I closed the door behind me looked around my bedroom. I made my way over to the desk and dug around the drawer until I found a small bottle filled with pale-yellow powder. On the bottle was a small label reading “Diuretic”. It was hand-written in English, probably by Grimoire herself.

 

Did Grimoire really expect me to drug Sanae with diuretic just to see if she the frog I had seen was actually a Fortune Toad?

 

Well, it wasn’t like that was anything unexpected or uncharacteristic for my perverted mentor, but just because I was learning from her didn’t mean I was comfortable with all her methods of dealing with Oddities. That being said, I was having trouble figuring out what else I could do to “bring misfortune” upon Sanae that wouldn’t put her in serious danger if I was wrong. Specifically on that matter, Grimoire was right.

 

“I suppose there’s no helping it. I’ll have to drug Sanae with this diuretic tomorrow,” I sighed.

 

Saying it aloud made me feel even worse about it.

 

Wait, but I don’t even know what this stuff is. Grimoire didn’t tell me how to use it, she just gave it to me and said I might need it one day. I don’t know how strong this stuff works or how much I should give Sanae tomorrow. If I didn’t give her enough, it might not take effect soon enough and she’d get a chance to go to the bathroom between classes. In that case, it would be better if I erred on the side of caution and gave her a larger dose.

 

However, diuretics can be dangerous if you overdose, since they work by increasing kidney function and inhibiting water re-absorption. At the very least, Sanae could become extremely dehydrated, and there were probably more serious side-effects of an overdose depending on what this powder was.

 

“Yeah, yeah, that’s right,” I nodded to myself, “I can’t just carelessly drug my classmates with sketchy diuretics given to me by an exhibitionist vampire hunter… I’ll have to wrack my brain for another option.”

 

However…

 

Even though I had said that, I couldn’t think of another option.

 

I flopped down on my bed, staring up at the ceiling as though that would help me think better. Raising the vial of pale yellow powder up to my face to study it, I wondered briefly how else I was going to bring misfortune to Sanae for her to redirect.

 

Some time passed, and I before I could come up with a solution, I heard a small knock on the wooden frame of my bedroom door.

 

“Haru-nii, dinner’s ready!”

 

I let out a soft sight and rose to my feet, turning to the door, “Alright, I’m on my way.”

 

I walked over to the door and stepped out, greeting my cousin, who had already turned and was making her way towards the kitchen. Just as I closed my bedroom door, I realized I still held the vial of diuretic in my hands. It would look weird if I went back into my bedroom after emerging, so I slipped the vial into my pocket instead.

 

“Mom’s not home yet. Probably tied up at the hospital or something, so I made dinner tonight.”

 

“That’s too bad that she’s held up, ah, but your cooking is always amazing, so I can’t say I’m disappointed that you made dinner.”

 

My cousin twirled around, walking backwards as she puffed out her chest, “Fufufu, well, I am the best cook in this house! Actually, I won the cooking competition at our school last month as well, so I’m the best cook at my high school. If I were to guess, I’d say I’m probably the best cook ever!”

 

Her boasting was completely undermined when she stumbled as she was walking backwards. She flailed her arms helplessly as she fell back, but I reacted quickly and caught her arm.

 

I pulled her forwards and she, either because she was unbalanced or to show off, spun around and landed in my arms.

 

“The best cook ever should watch where she’s walking.”

 

“How embarrassing,” Akane replied softly.

 

She pulled herself to her feet and jumped away from me, adding, “Thanks for catching me, but please don’t say cool things like that. Raising romance flags with your own cousin is pretty shameless.”

 

“You flirt with me all the time!”

 

“When I do it, it’s an endearing character trait,” Akane smiled, “besides, I can’t be doing things like that anymore. I have a boyfriend now.”

 

“A boyfriend?”

 

“Yeah, we started dating a week ago, actually.”

 

“What’s his name?”

 

“Haru Takakuro.”

 

“What is he, a BlazBlue character?”

 

“That reference was pushing it, even for you.”

 

“Well, I don’t know how to feel about the fact that his name’s so similar to mine, but it’s none of my business who you date. So congratulations, I guess.”

 

“Aw, you seem a lot less disappointed than I expected.”

 

“What’s with that? You just said I shouldn’t be raising any flags.”

 

“Well, I said that, but I wanted you to object more.”

 

“Do you even actually have a boyfriend, or are you just messing with me?”

 

Without answering, my cousin went ahead to the kitchen and retrieved two plates loaded with food. As she set it down, I took in the sight of chicken katsu served with a vegetable stir fry and rice.

 

“It looks great as always! Thanks for the food.”

 

We knelt down at the table and began eating, a comfortable silence falling between us. It wasn’t long, however, before my mind drifted back to my current predicament. I still was iffy about using the diuretic, but I wasn’t having any luck coming up with other options.

 

“You seem distracted,” Akane noted, just as we had finished our food, “Is what I said earlier bothering you?”

 

“Huh?” I looked up, snapping out of my thoughts, “Oh, no. It’s nothing like that.”

 

“Here, let me take your plate.”

 

I watched as Akane reached down and picked up my empty plate. She turned towards the kitchen and placed the dishes in the sink, beginning to wash them.

 

“I’ll help. You made dinner, so I’d feel bad if I let you clean up on your own.”

 

I stood up and took a spot next to her, grabbing my plate and a sponge and washing off the last remnants of Akane’s dish.

 

“Hey, you know. You’ve changed a lot recently, Haru-nii.”

 

“Huh? What do you mean by that?”

 

“Well, how do I put this… you seem like you’ve grown rather distant lately.”

 

“Are you saying I’m treating you or Aunt Hayate coldly?”

 

“No, it’s not like that, it just… it seems like there’s just something on your mind lately, and you haven’t asked me or Mom about it yet. I just thought… what could you be worried about that you can’t even confide in your family.”

 

The true answer to that question was far more complicated than I would’ve liked to get into right now. I mean, in the first place, what was I going to say? “I met a vampire hunter, discovered the supernatural world, and about one third of my body is now that of a vampire’s.”

Joking aside, I couldn’t exactly explain the situation to my cousin.

 

“Well, I don’t know what’s bothering you, but if there’s any way I can help, I’d gladly bear any burden for you!”

 

I didn’t seem to have any other choices other than using the diuretic on Sanae at this point, and if I were going to do that, I’d need to test it out first.

 

Of course, if I was going to test it out, I could do it on myself, but I really wasn’t looking forward to doing something like that, and here my cousin was, volunteering to help me with anything I might need.

 

Even if I didn’t tell her the full truth of what I needed help with, she volunteered, so there shouldn’t be any problems with this, right?

 

“Actually,” I replied, “there has been something bothering me lately.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Well, I uh… That is to say…” I paused, coming up with something on the fly, “Tea club! There’s a girl in tea club at my school, and I wanted to ask her out, but I was worried that she would hate me if I wasn’t any good at preparing tea properly.”

 

“That’s a surprisingly lame problem.”

 

Without holding back, Akane said that with a bored expression on her face.

 

Even though it was a lie born from my desire to keep everything hidden from my cousin, I still found myself getting worked up over her dismissal.

 

“It’s important to me!” I shot back, “So, I need you to be my taste-tester. I’m going to make some tea, and I want you to tell me, honestly, how mediocre it is.”

 

“Sure thing. If that’s all it is, I have no problems lending a hand!”

 

“Didn’t you just say you’d shoulder any burden for my sake?”

 

“I was obviously lying. I’m not going to go to a public place and pretend to be your girlfriend just so you look better in front of your friends.”

 

“What kind of person do you take me for?”

 

“A sad sap who flirts with his cousin because he doesn’t have a girlfriend.”

“Didn’t I just say I was planning on asking a girl out?”

 

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean anything. She could totally reject you. To someone who’s in a relationship already, hearing something like ‘I plan on asking someone out’ isn’t really all that impressive. I’m already one stage ahead of you.”

 

“Do you even have a boyfriend? I mean, no matter how you look at it, Takakuro Haru is a fake name!”

 

“I’m sure Takakuro-kun would say the same thing about his adorable girlfriend’s lame cousin’s name.”

 

Suddenly, I didn’t feel all that bad that I was about to drug my cousin with diuretic.

 

After we finished the dishes, my cousin went back into the living room, kneeling down at the table and waiting patiently for me to finish preparing the tea. I just prepared the tea normally, though I did take care to watch the timing more than I normally would. Afterwards, I removed the bottle of diuretic from my pocket, taking care not to let Akane see it, and I sprinkled a small amount into her cup.

 

The way I saw it, since there wasn’t any urgency in having my cousin become desperate, I could play it safe and use a small amount. Whatever her reaction to the diuretic, whether strong or weak, I could adjust the amount I give Sanae accordingly.

 

With two cups of tea in hand, taking care to remember the one on my right hand contained the diuretic, I walked over to Akane and set the tea down in front of her, before taking a seat across from her and placing my own cup down.

 

“Haru-nii,” Akane replied, looking rather underwhelmed, “In the first place, this is just normal tea, isn’t it?”

 

“You haven’t even tried it yet!” I argued, “Don’t tell me you’re the kind of person who thinks they can judge the quality of tea based on its color alone.”

 

“Well, it smells pretty normal too.”

 

“Just taste it already!”

 

“Fine, fine, but I doubt it’ll be anything spectacular…”

 

Akane then took a sip, and her whole face lit up.

 

“This… this tea is… this is really, really amazing!”

 

Akane then quickly drank the rest of her tea, slamming the tea cup down on the table and exhaling in content like a drunk person downing a beer in one go.

 

Skeptical, I drank my tea to see if it really was good, but it just seemed like normal, mundane tea to me.

 

Whatever had made Akane’s tea taste so good had to have been in the diuretic.

 

“There’s more, right?” Akane asked.

 

I had in fact made a whole tea pot, however, no matter how you looked at it, the tea in that tea pot was just your average tea made by a high school student who just took extra care in timing. There wasn’t anything special about it.

 

If I gave that to my cousin as-is, she’d realize rather quickly that I had put something in her first cup.

 

“Well, I made a whole pot, but I--”

 

I never got the opportunity to finish.

 

Akane was at the tea pot in the blink of an eye. It was alarming how fast she could move.

 

Actually, she was already pouring herself another cup.

 

Before I could try to stop her, she had begun chugging the cup of tea she had just poured.

 

I was worried that she’d burn her mouth, but she downed the second cup without complaining and let out a content sigh.

 

“Ah, so good! Forget about impressing that tea snob, you’ve impressed me, and I don’t even particularly care what my tea tastes like!”

That was odd.

 

I hadn’t prepared the tea specially except for her first cup, but she still seemed to think it was amazing.

 

Maybe that was a side-effect of the diuretic as well?

 

I would definitely have to ask Grimoire about it the next time I saw her.

 

Before I knew it, my cousin had completely finished the rest of the tea.

 

“Well, if you want my opinion as to whether your tea will impress her, I’ll say probably,” Akane replied, setting the tea cup down on the table, “But you know, trying to win over a girl who likes tea by making good tea is pretty shallow. I mean, doesn’t that give off the impression that the only thing you know about her is that she’s in the tea club?”

 

“Well, I suppose that’s true, but it’s really just to give me a starting point. I might not know a lot about her, but even if that’s the case, making good tea will give us something to talk about that I know she’ll be interested in. From there, the conversation can branch out before it becomes obvious that I only took interest in tea on a superficial level.”

 

“Hmm,” my cousin tilted her head back to look at me, “I suppose that could work on some people, but Haru-nii, isn’t that a little too manipulative?”

 

“I don’t really think so… I mean, it’s not like I’m pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m just making tea to break the ice between me and her.”

 

Besides, it wasn’t even like any of this was real. But if I didn’t play along, I would raise suspicion.

 

“That’s true, I suppose--” my cousin trailed off suddenly, and she frowned slightly. In the next moment, her eyes widened, and she shifted her weight on her feet, pressing her thighs together.

 

“A...ah,” she moaned, grabbing at the front of her skirt with one hand, “perhaps I drank too much…”

 

That hadn’t taken long at all.

 

“I’m going to the toilet,” Akane declared shamelessly, stepping back from the counter where she had chugged the rest of the tea and turning around. She hobbled past me in the living room and made her way into the hallway quickly. I turned my eyes to watch her leave, and the second she thought she was out of my line of sight I saw her jam her hands between her legs quickly.

 

With that knowledge, I could rest easy knowing that, even in a small amount like the one I gave Akane, the diuretic would work quickly enough to catch Sanae off-guard in the middle of class.

 

However, very suddenly, the front door was unlocked, and an older woman with silver hair darted into the house. She was wearing a blue blouse, a black dress skirt, and a white lab coat that made it clear she was a doctor.

 

That woman was Yakamoto Hatate. She was my mother’s younger sister. In other words, my aunt.

 

“I’m home!” She called out quickly. Dashing in with urgency as she made her way down the hallway my cousin disappeared down. I heard a yelp and a muffled “sorry” and the sound of a door closing.

 

When I approached the scene, I found my cousin sitting on the ground off to one side of the hallway, whimpering with both hands pressed between her legs.

 

The door to the toilet was just a few meters down, but it was closed.

 

“Haru… Haru-nii, help me up…” Akane asked.

 

I held my hand out to Akane and she gingerly removed one of her hands from between her legs and grabbed mine. Slowly, she tried to get up, letting out a few moans and squeaks as she struggled with her bladder. Eventually, she was standing, her hand pressed hard between her legs and her other rubbing her full bladder.

 

“What happened?” I asked, though I could probably figure out most of it from the scenario I had walked into.

 

“Mom just rushed past me and ran into the toilet before I could get there,” Akane replied. She then made her way towards the door to the toilet and knocked on it frantically.

 

“Mom, hurry up!”

 

“Sorry, Aka-chan! One thing led to another and I wasn’t able to go to the bathroom before leaving work. I’ll hurry up, I promise!”

 

Akane wriggled around in front of the closed door, whimpering and moaning as she danced from foot to foot. Given that we lived in a rather sizable home, there was naturally another toilet in the house, but it was down a rather long hallway that passed the kitchen, the baths, and my aunt’s bedroom. It was enough of a walk that Akane probably figured she’d be better off staying put and waiting.

 

Actually, from the looks of it, she wouldn’t be able to walk very quickly in her current state, so it probably was faster just to wait.

 

“I’m not gonna…” Akane muttered under her breath, bringing one of her knees up as she jammed both hands between her legs, “It’s definitely gonna leak…!”

 

Suddenly, the sound of a toilet flushing reached our ears, and Akane clenched both eyes shut. She planted both feet firmly on the ground and pressed her thighs together as she whimpered. That was then followed by the sound of rushing water as my aunt washed her hands.

 

Akane was shaking, shifting her weight from foot to foot as she squeezed her eyes shut and moaned.

 

Ordinarily, hearing the sound of someone washing their hands in the bathroom would mean that they would be out soon. However, Yakamoto was a doctor, so she took particular care to wash her hands properly every time. Even though it was relatively short to someone not on the verge of wetting themselves, the amount of time that took was probably torture for Akane.

 

After a few more seconds, the water shut off and the door to the toilet opened.

 

Yakamoto stepped out, looking refreshed.

 

“Sorry about the wait, Aka-cha--”

 

Before she could even finish her sentence, Akane dashed past her and slammed the bathroom door closed. Not two seconds later, a loud, shameless sigh of relief echoed through the otherwise silent hallway.

 

My aunt looked at me, and I merely shrugged in mock ignorance as to what had just occurred.

 

Satisfied with that, Yakamoto spoke, loud enough to be heard through the door, “Well, to be honest, I got paged back to the hospital the instant I arrived home. I wasn’t going to make it back to the hospital without wetting myself, so I came inside to use the toilet, but I have to leave again. Sorry, you two. Have a good night!”

 

With that, that woman who had seemingly appeared just as a convenient plot point walked swiftly down the hallway and out the door without another word.

 

A bit later, I heard the toilet flush again and the sound of running water as my cousin washed her hands. Then, the door opened and she stepped out into the hallway.

 

“That was dangerous,” Akane sighed, “I’m never chugging tea like that again… well, maybe it would’ve been better if I had gone to the bathroom after dinner, since I kind of needed to already.”

 

Wait.

 

Wait wait wait.

 

She already had to go?

 

If she needed to after dinner, then just how much of an effect did the diuretic actually have on her?

 

I’m sure it played some role, but how could I be sure how much if she was already holding it in?

 

That meant I have no idea if Sanae would react similarly to the same amount of diuretic or not.

 

“I’m just gonna have to wing it tomorrow and put in more, aren’t I?” I muttered under my breath.

 

“What was that?” my cousin asked, tilting her head to the side.

 

“Nothing, nothing,” I shook my head before noting, “Well, tea has diuretic properties, so you might want to be careful for the rest of the night.”
 

With that warning, I left my cousin standing in the hallway and began preparing for bed. Whether I was prepared or not, tomorrow I'd be confronting Sanae.

To Be Continued...

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  • 2 years later...

So, three years is a bit much to be considered a hiatus, and in truth I had entirely planned on dropping this story completely after my return to this site, but after encouraging words from a fan on one of my more recent stories and the fact that I had a basic framework for the story already planned out, as well as just generally being a fan of the Monogatari series and how it's written, I figured I'd give revitalizing this story a shot. So, without delaying this LONG overdue continuation, here's the next part.

 

004

The next day, at school, a feeling of anxious unrest grew in the pit of my stomach as I waited for lunch.

Well, for starters, Sodachi was there, and her gaze kept falling upon me suspiciously. There were actually quite a lot of things I wanted to ask her, but right now didn’t seem like a good time for any of them. There was the hospital band she had dropped yesterday (though I couldn’t be entirely positive she had dropped it on accident, considering the timing), but also in general I kind of wished things hadn’t gone so poorly between us after I told her how me and Yuuki met.

But it could easily be said that the issues between me and Sodachi were all a kind of side-story. Actually, if I were to describe it, I would call it more an afterthought than anything. 

The main plot here was me drugging Sanae with diuretic to see if she had truly struck up a partnership with a Fortune Toad.

Well, how I was going to do it was simple enough, provided I got ample opportunity to do so without being noticed.

Sanae, being a rather health-conscious person, drank water throughout the day to stay hydrated. To achieve that goal, she could more often than not be found with a plastic water bottle sitting at the foot of her desk throughout the school day.

During lunch, where most of the students in the classroom would rush to either purchase meals from the school’s cafeteria, or to claim the roof or other ideal eating locations, Sanae would often leave the classroom as well. I had never paid too much mind to whether she was also buying lunch, going to the bathroom, or simply walking a little to stretch her legs, but why she was gone didn’t matter.

The important part was that I’d have enough time to snatch her bottle up and slip the diuretic into it.

The problem was….

Well, if not everyone left the classroom, or if I was caught, the dubiousness of that kind of situation would likely lead to another scandal.

No, forget just a simple scandal. If I was caught drugging the water bottle of a girl in my class, being forced to resign as Class Representative would be the least of my worries.
 
Perhaps I was exuding some sort of nervous, anxious, suspicious aura that Sodachi was picking up on. At any rate, she kept staring at me, drilling holes into the back of my head the whole day thus far.

With half the day over already before I knew it, the familiar sound of the lunch bell rang, and everyone trampled over one another to free themselves from the classroom.

In the end, I was left in the classroom with Sodachi.

Actually, that was probably the worst possible matchup.

After all, while I was sitting down, Sodachi’s eyes were still on me. Even if she looked away for a second, the second I moved she would notice and turn her attention back to me immediately. That would be a problem even if Sanae’s desk was next to mine.

But in reality, her desk sat on the other side of the classroom.

I frowned. What was I going to do about this situation?

“Hey, bonehead.”

That insult came from behind me.

Even if it hadn’t, there was only one other person in the classroom.

Perhaps it was because I was nervous about what I was about to do, but I felt myself shaking as I turned my head to face the silver-haired girl behind me. 

“Y-y-y-yes?” I asked, stuttering conspicuously.

Sodachi didn’t look amused.

“You’ve been nervously avoiding my gaze, even though most days you glance back at me over your shoulder like you have something you want to say. It’s been like that since you told me those adventures of yours with our Ex-class Rep, but today’s the first day something’s been different. I’m not so unobservant that I wouldn’t notice you acting differently. Tell me, have you come to despise me after our conversation yesterday?”

“I was under the impression that you were the one who had come to despise me…”

That’s what I wanted to say.

I wanted to point out to that twintailed girl who looked down on me no matter what that she was acting very much like she despised me. That, in fact, she had only ever acted like she didn’t despise me for an incredibly brief amount of time.

In fact, if I had gone with that, I might have been able to produce an uncomfortable atmosphere that Sodachi felt inclined to leave. I could, with that, drive her out of the classroom. Even if she wouldn’t budge, I could make a scene and find Sanae to give her the diuretic some other way. I could do that without raising suspicion.

However, Sanae’s problem was the least on my mind at that moment.

Actually, my mind turned towards our conversation yesterday.

Or rather, what I had found after our conversation yesterday.

“Actually, there was something I wanted to ask you about, but I wasn’t sure how to approach you,” I slipped into that angle immediately.

“Approach me?” 

I reached into my pocket and produced the medical bracelet I had found yesterday.

I had wanted to wait until resolving the situation with Sanae before asking her about it, but it was something that had been bothering me all night. I could no longer put it off now that Sodachi was talking to me.

I placed it on the table silently, keeping it close in case Sodachi tried to snatch it from me.

Even if she had, I already knew the name on it.

“‘Oikura Sodachi’,” I replied, “That’s the name on this bracelet. It’s written with the kanji for old (老, oi) the kanji for cellar (倉, kura) and the kanji for growing up (育, sodachi). In other words, exactly the way your name is written. This bracelet was yours.”

Sodachi remained silent.

“Well, yesterday you were absent. But someone like you, who prides themselves in all their studies despite being obsessed with only mathematics, wouldn’t skip class for the pathetic reason that you were trying to avoid your classmate who told you some ridiculous story about curses and eels and vampire limbs. But if you were at the hospital during school, something bad must’ve happened, is that right?”

Sodachi continued to look at me with an expression I couldn’t read.

“So I’ll ask earnestly, as someone who doesn’t despise you. Are you okay?”

Sodachi let out a light sigh.

“You’re wrong,” She said simply.

“Huh?”

“You’re wrong. I’m petty enough to skip class for the sake of avoiding you. I didn’t want to see you on the day we were supposed to have tutoring. It just so happened that I was due for a check up, and I scheduled it during class so I had the excuse that I was at the hospital. In other words, I used my doctor’s visit as an excuse to avoid seeing you. That’s all. Don’t read too much into it.”

With that, Sodachi turned to the side and stood up.

“Huh, you’re leaving?” 

Sodachi looked back at me, who had uttered that dumb-sounding question, and frowned.

“I only addressed you because I wanted to know why you were acting strange. If you were bothered by this the whole time, my answer to your question should be enough. In mathematics, a problem that’s already been solved doesn’t offer anything worth looking over.”

With that, Sodachi left the classroom completely.

I was now alone in the classroom.

I had received an unsatisfactory answer to a question I had posed, forgetting myself and my mission. But now that Sodachi was gone, my mind snapped back to the water bottle beneath Sanae’s desk.

In the end, it was disturbingly easy to drug her water.

By the time anyone had returned to the classroom, I had already mixed the diuretic in thoroughly and screwed the bottle cap back on. In fact, I was already sitting back down, so there wasn’t even the risk of looking suspicious hovering around the other side of the room.

Sanae even came back, but as usual she had returned with juice from the vending machine and would not start sipping at her water until lunch was over. I occasionally glanced over at her, but otherwise lunch was relatively normal. Sodachi had returned some time after Sanae, cutting it close to the end of lunch period. 

I would’ve liked to question her more, but there was something about her body language that told me I wouldn’t get anything more out of her, and if I said the wrong thing she might wind up leaving again even if it meant skipping the next class.

Unfortunately, the next class wasn’t mathematics, so it wasn’t like I had the confidence that Sodachi wouldn’t leave for petty reasons.

So, even though it made me uneasy, I put that problem out of my mind and turned my attention towards the black-haired girl sitting across the room from me. She was my focus right now. My job as a specialist took priority, since a high school student wandering around with a Fortune Toad could wind up being really bad.

It didn’t take long for something to happen.

About five minutes into class, Sanae shifted forward slightly and reached for the water bottle at her feet.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched her unscrew the cap. Slowly, she brought the bottle to her lips and took a small sip.

Suddenly, her eyes widened, and she let out an audible squeak that interrupted even the teacher’s lecture. However, instead of responding in embarrassment, Sanae simply eyed the water bottle in amazement. 

“This water is really refreshing!”

The usually poised and composed vice class-representative exclaimed.

Without noticing the strange looks of those around her, Sanae downed the rest of the bottle in one go and let out an exaggerated sigh of content. 

Only then did she seem to realize the commotion she had caused.

Everyone had their eyes on her.

Her face lit up like a stop light and she bowed in apology, “Please forgive me, I seem to have done something rather unbecoming of me.”

Like that, she slipped back in her proper attitude.

The teacher asked if she was okay, but Sanae simply waved the notion something was wrong off with her hand and smiled as the blush faded from her face.

I was trying not to look too nervous myself, even watching her embarrass herself like that.

Does everyone react that way to the diuretic no matter what it’s put in!?

Well, I think that question had already been answered.

Either way, it was only a matter of time now. After all, I had put in more diuretic than with my cousin last night, since Akane had told me she had been holding it in since before she drank my tea. 

Sure enough, not too long after, I saw the telltale signs of Sanae’s reaction to the drug. It was subtle, like something you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t looking for it. It was something that could easily be explained away by restlessness or pent-up-energy or nervousness, but Sanae’s leg began to bounce slightly.

Well, being the class representative, it was natural for me to be paired up with the vice-class representative for various projects and other discussions, so I was a bit more conscious of her habits than most people. She wasn’t the kind of person who would restlessly shake her leg from pent up energy. If she was shaking her leg, it definitely meant she was feeling uncomfortable because her bladder was filling up.

Sanae’s expression had turned to one of recovering from embarrassment to one of slight concern. She wasn’t letting it show, but her desperation was probably building quite quickly. It was the period right after lunch, so it wasn’t like she could even give a good reason for needing to use the bathroom so soon. Either way, it was doubtful the teacher would grant her permission to leave the classroom.

Only a few minutes later, Sanae’s movements had become more frantic, knees and thighs pressing together as she wriggled around in her seat. She kept glancing up at the clock anxiously, and her forehead was wrinkled in discomfort. I watched her, waiting to see if the Fortune Toad would appear again. Even if I turned away, the first thing I’d do upon glancing back at her is making sure she still looked like she had to go to the bathroom. As long as she was still desperate, it meant that she had not redirected her misfortune.

As class went on, I watched the black-haired girl grow more and more restless, doing things like squeezing her eyes shut and rubbing her abdomen in distress. She wasn’t holding herself, but the hand she wasn’t using for taking notes was rubbing up and down her thigh as it shook. Beads of sweat were forming on her forehead, but whether they were out of worry or from the effort of holding it in I couldn’t tell.

Suddenly, Sanae’s eyes shot open and she jammed her hand between her legs, straightening her back and clenching her teeth in concern. She glanced around worryingly and I snapped my head back towards the front of the class. I felt her gaze pass over me and continue on to make sure no one had noticed her plight. 

A few minutes later I felt confident enough to look back without being noticed, and Sanae looked much worse. Her hand was still firmly jammed between her legs and she was shaking in her seat, her eyes gazing unfocused at the board as she concentrated only on holding it all in. Her chest was rising and falling in uneven breaths as she struggled to fight the diuretic she had no idea was working against her.

I continued to watch Sanae carefully as she struggled with her desperation. I was waiting for any sign of the Fortune Toad appearing, but so far, Sanae had not given up using natural means-- which was, of course, holding it in-- to survive this ordeal.

Halfway through class, she was doubled over her desk, trembling in the effort it took her to hold it. By now, surely some others had noticed her desperation, but she didn’t seem to be concerned with upholding appearances anymore. Still, it wasn’t like she could ask to use the bathroom. She had already disrupted the class, and it was just after lunch. The teacher would definitely not let her leave. She glanced up at the clock and her eyes squeezed shut in despair, likely realizing she was not going to make it to the end of the class period like this. She then glanced to the side and our eyes nearly met before I looked away quickly. However, out of the corner of my gaze, I noticed that she was not looking at me. She was looking just behind me. That was the desk where Oikura Sodachi was sitting.

With shaky motions, Sanae straightened herself up, and she closed her eyes like she was concentrating. Not too long after, her whole body relaxed like she had peed herself right there, but there was no accompanying indication that anything like that had occurred.

Instead, for a brief second, the Fortune Toad made itself visible.

And in the next moment, a quiet squeak came from behind me. 

I turned around, and Oikura Sodachi was looking down at herself with wide eyes. She then jammed a hand underneath her desk and squeezed one eye shut as she whimpered. She then glanced up at me and glared fiercely at me, like I had anything to do with her current predicament. 

Well, technically I did, but it wasn’t like I had intended for her to get desperate or anything.

Either way, she was mad enough at me already, so I turned around and pretended to do my schoolwork.

Glancing back at Sanae, she was still wriggling around a bit, but something about it seemed forced and unnatural, like she had realized other people had noticed she had to pee, and was trying to act like she still did. It only confirmed my suspicions, she had redirected the misfortune of having to pee onto Sodachi.

With that confirmed, I was fully prepared to allow myself to relax.

But, there was another problem.

Namely, Sodachi behind me.

I wasn’t watching her, but I could hear her. Every soft moan, every sharp intake of breath. I could hear her skirt ruffling as she rubbed her thighs together desperately. I could hear her socks scratch against each other as she crossed and uncrossed her legs. 

I tried to tune it out, but every time I heard something else, I practically saw Sodachi sitting there behind me, squirming around and legs twisted together in an effort to hold in her sudden, unexpected desperation.

We still had fifteen minutes left when Sodachi doubled over her desk, growing dangerously close to me as I sat in mine. I could feel her warm breaths as she panted, and each whimper only sounded that much more intense.

I gulped and leaned forward in an attempt to distance myself from Sodachi, but naturally, I couldn’t get very far. So, I continued to endure the noises that silver-haired girl was making behind me as she struggled to hold her pee.

Even though I was the one who had indirectly caused this situation, I felt like I had been caught in some kind of trap. Like somehow that exhibitionist woman I call my mentor had predicted his outcome, and encouraged it to corrupt me.

When there were still five minutes left in class, I felt a light tap on my shoulder from behind me.

I turned around, and Sodachi looked absolutely pitiful. She was practically half-sprawled on her desk, wriggling around in obvious desperation, with a hand firmly shoved between her legs. Tears pricked at the corners of her eyes, and I don’t think I had ever seen her make such a vulnerable expression, even when she had wet herself after we got locked in the classroom.

“You,” she replied, her tone still harsh despite her expression, “Ta-take responsibility… for this!”

“W-what?” I asked in a surprised, yet hushed tone.

“I know… you had something to do with me being like this now… so… take responsibility and fix it.”

“Even if I did have something to do with it, what do you want me to do?”

“.... Something… quickly….” 

Sodachi slumped further down, squeezing both of her eyes shut as she trembled in her seat.

“Not… gonna make it…”

“Even if you say that, there really isn’t anything I can do about this.”

“I know this is your fault somehow, so hurry up and do somethi-!!” 

Sodachi cut herself off as she jammed her other hand between her legs as well and shot upright. She was shaking furiously and her expression looked strained like she was on the verge of wetting herself.

“Sensei!” I called out, standing up and raising my hand. Suddenly, all eyes fell on me, and I quickly stood to hide Sodachi in her obvious predicament. I glanced over my shoulder at her, and Sodachi herself had regained just enough composure to hide her intense desperation.

“Sodachi isn’t feeling well. As the Class Representative, I’d like to escort her to the nurse, is that alright?”

“Well, there is only five minutes left of class, so I suppose it’s fine,” the teacher conceded.

I glanced behind me and Sodachi stood up shakily, trying to walk as straight as possible with her full bladder. I could feel everyone’s eyes on us as we left the classroom together. No doubt that would start more rumors, but I wasn’t concerned about that anymore.

The second we got out into the hallway, Sodachi jammed both of her hands between her legs again and began hobbling as quickly as she could to the bathroom. We only made it about halfway down the hall when she moaned and doubled over.

“I can’t hold it anymore! It’s gonna come out!”

She said that out loud shamelessly before bolting the rest of the way to the girl’s bathroom and rushing inside. I waited outside the bathroom patiently, and by the time Sodachi had emerged from the bathroom, the bell to signal the end of class had rung. 

Sodachi stepped out looking much more relieved, but also a bit stiff, and stepped past me. 

“Sodachi-san, wait up, I-”

“Do not think I’m going to act all grateful for you saving me from a humiliating situation. You were the one who got me into the mess to begin with.”

“That’s not true. Not entirely, anyway. I did intend for Sanae to become desperate to see what kind of Oddity she was possessed by, but I never intended you to get caught up in it!”

“But in the end, that’s what happened, and your actions were the catalyst. Is that an accurate assessment of the situation?”

I turned away.

“Well, yeah, you could say that, but-”

“Then in the end, all you did was fix a problem you caused in the first place. One plus negative one. That’s zero.”

Sodachi walked away from me, clenching her fists by her sides as she stomped off.

I let out a heavy sigh and closed my eyes. My relationship with Sodachi hadn’t improved at all but at least I had confirmed Sanae possessed a Fortune Toad.

I turned to head back to class, and noticed both Sanae and Yuuki walking towards me. Sanae had a hand jammed between her legs again, and I realized that the diuretic wouldn’t have just worn off after she foisted her desperation onto Sodachi.

As she passed me by, however, her eyes narrowed at me and she turned to me and smirked, whispering, “Nice save.”

She and Yuuki disappeared into the bathroom, and I felt a chill run down my spine. That girl with a Fortune Toad at her disposal was dangerous. There was no way I could let her just do what she wants with no consequences.

 

005

“So, essentially, after being desperate for half the class, this Senryuu Sanae basically transferred her desperation to Oikura Sodachi… is that what you’re telling me?”

Grimoire had asked that question immediately following my summary of the events during class, after I had drugged Sanae with the diuretic. As I talked, she was doing something that looked a lot like rolling cigarettes, but actually she was wrapping thin, sharpened wooden stakes in special charms for vampire-hunting.

“Yes,” I replied, “In other words, I’ve confirmed that Sanae is, in fact, possessed by a Fortune Toad.”

“Hmmm,” Grimoire frowned, holding up one of the weapons she had just created. At first I thought she was dissatisfied with the way it turned out, but then she followed up with, “But are you sure you’ve actually confirmed that?”

“What do you mean? You were the one who told me to test Sanae-san with the diuretic. Are you saying that test still isn’t enough?”

“No. But isn’t it true that you’re still jumping to conclusions, Takashiro-kun?”

I tilted my head to the side in confusion, and Grimoire sighed like I was a lost cause.

“What I mean to say, aren’t you jumping to the conclusion that what you saw was the redirection of misfortune?” Grimoire asked. She started on another stake, and continued on without waiting for a reply, “In the first place, do you even fully understand what redirection of misfortune is?”

“Wouldn’t that be taking something bad that’s happened to you and instead transferring it to someone else?”

Grimoire half-smirked, “Close. It’s taking something bad that is about to happen to you, and transferring that onto someone else. That distinction is crucial. If the bad thing has already happened, then any transfer of it to another person has to be the effect of something else.” 

“But wouldn’t Sanae still fall into that category?” I asked, “I mean, she redirected her desperation to Sodachi before she wet herself. That’s still a redirection of misfortune, right?”

“Wetting yourself certainly seems like misfortune, but in reality it’s only the result of the misfortunate situation of being caught with a full bladder at the wrong time. In other words, the fact that Sanae was desperate at all means she didn’t automatically redirect any misfortune.  That’s the sole ability of the Fortune Toad, so why wasn’t it working? The answer is because Sanae is not in possession of a Fortune Toad at all.”

My eyes widened.

Even if that were the case, it still looked like, both times, that Sanae had redirected misfortune. 

Furthermore, a toad did appear on her shoulder both times misfortune was misdirected. 

“You’re probably thinking something along the lines of, ‘that’s impossible. I saw the toad myself,’ or something like that. But let me ask you, do you think the Fortune Toad is the only entity shaped like a toad in the world of Oddities?”

“So, are you saying there’s an Oddity that both looks like a toad and has the similar ability of redirecting bad things from happening to somebody?”

“No, there’s nothing like that,” Grimoire replied, “If there were something that was that similar to a Fortune Toad, it would be a pain for us specialists to deal with. Actually, if there was an oddity that was different from a Fortune Toad, but had a very similar ability, over time it would pretty much become a Fortune Toad. However, there are other toad-like entities that might have control over other things, but could manipulate those other things to make it look like they were redirecting misfortune in these two situations.”

I tilted my head to the side, “There’s really an oddity like that? I mean, first of all, what’s the connection between these two incidents? I thought they were both Sanae redirecting misfortune, but if you’re telling me that’s not what happened, then they just seem like two random coincidences.”

Grimoire smiled, finishing another stake and standing up. 

“If I told you all the answers, I wouldn’t be much of a teacher, now would I? It’s up to you to figure this one out. Though, I’d hurry if I were you. I’m sure Sanae-chan won’t sit still now that she knows you’re looking into her directly.”

That red-haired woman who wore her hoodie immodestly unzipped turned towards the staircase of the parking garage and started down it.

“Wait!” I called out, “Where are you going?”

“Huh? Where do you think I’m going? To do my job!”

With that, Grimoire continued down the staircase, grabbing some of the stakes she had just been working on and holding them between her fingers like she was ready to throw them at a moment’s notice. That lone vampire-exorcising specialist, who was possibly the only specialist currently in Japan, was going out to hunt tonight.

 

006

Even though Grimoire had told me to figure it out on my own, in the end, all I could do was wrack my brain until it became so late it was time for me to get ready for bed. I found myself soaking in the tub after showering, staring down at the reflection of the scar on my right arm where it had been severed and a vampire’s limb had been attached. Rising out of the water were my legs, which, halfway up the thighs, also bore similar scars. 

In addition to those limbs, my eyes were also the red eyes of a vampire. They had been replaced later on, due to other circumstances that occurred after I had met Yuuki, but before I met Sodachi. I had been given them for the sole purpose of allowing me to use more of the latent vampiric powers locked away in my limbs.

Well, that was another story for another day.

“A connection…”

I muttered to myself, choosing to ignore the twisted body I now possessed. 

I needed to find the connection between the incident with the coffee can and the incident with Sanae transferring her urge to pee over to Sodachi.

“There’s a connection, but what?”

What tied the scenario where Sanae miraculously avoided getting splashed by the coffee can to her transferring her desperation to Sodachi? If I assumed the toad-like oddity would exclusively be able to manipulate one thing, what one thing was being manipulated in both situations.

Unable to come up with an answer, I reached down and splashed myself with water from the bath. I had intended the action to help clear my mind, but instead my eyes widened as I realized just what that connection was.

“Water! Of course it’s water! Toads and frogs are amphibians, so there’s got to be a frog oddity that is associated with water! Sanae was manipulating the water in the situation, but she was throwing me off by making me think she had a Fortune Toad instead!”

Satisfied with my conclusion, I sprang up and grabbed my towel, drying myself off and rushing out of the bathroom. I passed Akane on the way out, and she looked over at me with a surprised expression.

“What’s with you, Haru-nii?”

“Ah, I managed to forget to pick something up at the bookstore! I want to get there before it closes!”

“What? But you just took a bath!”

“This is important!”

I didn’t have any books on oddities, and if Grimoire was busy dealing with a vampire, I would need to do the research on my own. In truth, it was probably a good idea to pick up some books on oddities anyway. So far, I’d been spoon-fed all the information I’ve needed from Grimoire, but if I was going to be a self-sufficient specialist, I’d need my own information sources.

I was dressed and rushing out the door in no time flat.

Above me, the sky was overcast, like it was ready to rain, but grabbing an umbrella would only slow me down. If anything, I could run really fast and minimize the time I was caught out in the storm.

Since it was nighttime, I could charge forward at full power without worrying about using my vampire abilities. I rushed past dead intersections and sprinted down empty sidewalks. It felt like I was the only one out tonight. Not that I had a license yet or anything, but even if I could drive I feel like it would’ve taken me longer to reach the bookstore.

However, just as I reached the final stretch, I caught a familiar figure out of the corner of my eye.

A girl still wearing our school’s uniform, with long black hair and brown eyes.

Senryuu Sanae.

She was standing in the road, seemingly unbothered by the fact that it was about to rain. But more importantly, she was staring directly at me, with a smirk playing across her lips.

“My my, Takashiro-san,” she replied in that ever teasing tone, “You’re in a hurry.”

But then, suddenly, she added something new. Something very un-Sanae-like, for lack of a better term.

“Did something good happen?”

I don’t know if it was because something about that seemed off, but my body recoiled at those words and I slowed down. I didn’t stop moving, but it felt like the world around me came to a halt as we made eye contact. 

Then, the frog-like oddity on Sanae’s shoulder flickered, and something unusual happened.

My right shoulder burst into flames.

“GGGahhhhhh!” I cried, grasping my shoulder with my other hand. The fire receded quickly, but the burning sensation persisted. I looked down at the injury and noticed that it looked like someone had cut through my shoulder with a blade. 

However, Sanae had nothing like that with her.

Moreover, despite it looking like a normal injury, my vampiric arm wasn’t healing as quickly as normal.

“Surprised?” Sanae asked, grinning, “Sorry, but I won’t tell you my secrets~ After all, I’m going to exterminate you now~”

“Exterminate?” I asked incredulously, “What are you doing, exactly? I’m a specialist, too, and at the very most I wouldn’t even qualify as a half-vampire. I’m off-limits.”

“Hmm? Off limits by that account, maybe,” Sanae nodded, “But you’re doing something rather unsightly. You’re a human who’s going around using vampire abilities to deal with oddities. Actually, you’ve very specifically added vampire components to your body to increase the amount of vampire abilities you can use. That would be enough for me to want to exterminate you."

“You say that like you have other reasons to exterminate me.”

“Ahahaha, Indeed I do~!” Sanae smiled, “But those aren’t things you need to worry about. Your life is about to end right here. I’m sure you’ve already figured it out, but I’m currently in command of a powerful oddity.”

“That toad on your shoulder!?” I asked, “You tried to make me think it was a Fortune Toad, but I know it’s something different!”

“Oh? So you figured that much out?” Sanae asked, “Well, even so, you can’t win this late in the game without knowing exactly what it is. Actually, even if you did know, you probably still couldn’t win. With my next move, I’ll tear off your left leg.”

Even though she said that, I was on edge. Either she had so much confidence that she was fine telling me exactly where her next attack would be aimed at, or she was trying to distract me. Either way, I tensed all my muscles and prepared to react to her movements. Without so much as waving a hand, however, the frog on her shoulder flickered into view again, and I lunged backwards. A sharp, burning pain erupted across my left leg right at the knee, and I nearly collapsed. 

“Oho~ You managed to keep your leg! Still, you can’t move around very far like that!”

Even though my leg was in pain, I still launched off of it and started running. I didn’t want to fight Sanae if I could help it, but I wasn’t going to let myself be killed for some unknown reason.

In the first place, there was still a lot I didn’t know about Senryuu Sanae.

Why was she trying to kill me?

Was she actually a vampire-exorcising specialist?

And, most importantly, why did she wait until now to attack me?

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone. Even if she was busy, calling Grimoire in this situation would be best. 

However, as I raised it to my ear, a sharp pain shot through my right arm again and I dropped the phone on the ground. Even though I was running, Sanae was keeping pace with me rather well, likely due to my injured leg.

“I won’t let you call for backup!”

I turned around, trying to see where she was attacking from. However, once again, I couldn’t see any sort of physical weapon. 

But wait, wasn’t that wrong in the first place? I knew she was attacking with the help of the frog-like oddity on her shoulder. If I was right, and that thing was manipulating water, then her attack must be water-based, rather than a physical weapon.

Actually, considering that it was a water-based attack, and considering it was preventing my injuries from healing despite my vampiric limbs, she had to be attacking with holy water, specifically.

That wasn’t something you could condense out of the air even if there was moisture. In fact, even if it started raining, she wouldn’t be able to just make more of it on the spot. 

So she had to have some sort of supply.

Knowing that, I just had to find it.

Whirling around, I felt blood spurt out of my leg injury as I put weight on it. However, I worked through the pain and lunged back at Sanae directly.

Sanae seemed caught off by my sudden offensive, and leapt backwards. She fired another attack off at me, but once again, I couldn’t see where it was coming from. The attack struck my right leg near the shin, and I tripped and stumbled across the ground as the holy water burned my vampiric limb.

However, in the moment I fell, Sanae had perhaps let her guard down. I was at a lower vantage point, and the oncoming storm was whipping up a lot of night winds, so her skirt was fluttering up ever-so-slightly. It wasn’t to the point where I could see her panties, but there, strapped to her thigh, was a water bottle likely containing the holy water I was looking for.

Now that I knew where it was, if I could somehow get a hold of that bottle and drain the holy water from it in a way where Sanae couldn’t use it, I could disable her main weapon.

On the flip side, her attacks were too fast for me to respond to them, and I was already injured.

In other words, this was a one-sided battle of endurance where I needed to complete a specific goal in order to win.

Still, bemoaning that fact wouldn’t get me anywhere. I had to keep charging forward no matter what.

I pushed myself off the sidewalk and once again lunged at her, using all my strength and reaching out with my right hand. Sanae stepped backwards and a large cut ran across my right arm, bursting into flames as the holy water burned me. I winced, but continued onwards, reaching for that precarious position under Sanae’s skirt. Once she realized what I was going after, she twisted her body to protect the bottle and grabbed my right hand with her own. With a particularly powerful strike, I watched as a spear of razor-sharp holy water emerged from the bottle and severed my right hand.

The stump of my arm burst into flames, and the hand Sanae was grabbing onto burned away into dust. I clutched my newest injury in my left hand as Sanae looked down at me and waggled her fingers.

“You shouldn’t be trying to stick your hands up girl’s skirts, you know!” 

However, just as that had happened, the straps Sanae had used to strap the water bottle to her thigh ripped off and the bottle fell to the ground.

Before she could even realize what had happened, I grabbed the water bottle with my bloodied left hand and poured its contents down a nearby storm drain before casually tossing the water bottle over my shoulder.

Sanae looked like a poker player who was confident they’d win with a straight flush, only to find out that their opponent had a royal flush in their hand the whole time.

“W-w-w-w-w-what? What did you do!?”

“I wasn’t just reaching for the water bottle,” I replied, “that would’ve been my ideal situation, but I was sure you wouldn’t let that happen. So I turned my fingers into claws and cut at the straps you were using to hold the water bottle instead. Well, you didn’t notice because you cut off my hand and it burned away before you could notice my fingers.”

Just then, the first drops of rain fell to the ground, striking Sanae in the forehead as she looked at me blankly.

As if the cloud was a crumbling dam, the second that first drop fell, the rain quickly picked up into a straight-up downpour.

As Sanae stood there, frozen, something else happened.

She suddenly squeaked and grabbed at her skirt, as something else fell down from it.

That something else was a pair of pink lace panties.

They were very risque panties, that only had enough fabric to cover the bare minimum of what would be considered decent in both the front and the back. Tied straps connected the two pieces like a swimsuit.

Well, they used to connect them, but it seemed that one of the straps had been cut. 

Those panties fell to the ground and immediately became soaked with the rain. 

Sanae was making a face that seemed like she was at her limit.

I was trying to project the air of someone who had nothing to do with the situation that just unfolded. As though Sanae’s panties falling down had nothing to do with me, and was merely an unfortunate accident that neither of us had control over.

“You... I want to die. I’m going to kill you, and then I’ll die!”

Sanae said that extreme thing, and at first I just thought it was an eruption of the utter embarrassment she was feeling.

But then, the rain around me moved.

Sanae’s frog-like oddity appeared, fully visible this time, as the rain twisted into watery tendrils. They wrapped around me, binding me in place, and Sanae formed a water spear that seemed to be spinning like a drill.

Even if it wasn’t holy water, something like that striking me would hurt.

Actually, something like that striking anywhere but my vampire parts would probably kill me outright.

There was only one thing I could do at this point, and that was use my vampiric abilities that I could not draw out just from having vampire limbs. I was going to tap into a vampire’s ability to manipulate the world around them without interacting with it physically.

In other words, I was going to have to use magic.

I could do this by asserting my dominance over my vampire limbs using the eyes I obtained in the last incident I had to deal with. I prepared to call out the name of the vampire who owned these limbs and these eyes in order to use that magic.

“Die!” 

Sanae yelled, motioning forwards. As the drill approached me, I opened my mouth.

But then--

In an instant, the drill and tendrils had entirely disappeared.

It wasn’t like Sanae had decided her actions were foolish and simply dispelled her own attack due to some hesitation. It wasn’t born of something touching like she had seen me as a classmate rather than a monster in the last instant and decided she couldn’t go through with it.

Nor was it that I had stopped the attack with my abilities. In the first place, I hadn’t even had the chance to speak.

No, someone new had appeared, and it seemed that, just by him appearing, the attack disappeared. That person was a scruffy looking man in his mid-to-late 30s, wearing shorts, sandals, and a hawaiian print t-shirt.

“Phew, looks like I made it on time.”

He sighed around an unlit cigarette he held in his mouth. At first, I had thought it was simply unlit because it had been extinguished by the rain, but on closer inspection, the cigarette didn’t look like it had ever been lit in the first place.

“You!?” Sanae asked indignantly, as though she had seen the strange man before.

“Who are you?” I asked the man, standing over me with his arm outstretched. There seemed to be some kind of item in his hand, but I couldn’t quite see it from my position. I imagine whatever it was, it was what had dispelled Sanae’s attack.

“My name is Oshino Meme, it’s nice to meet you.” that man replied casually, as though he were merely introducing himself to someone he met at the convenience store, “I’m going to start negotiating with this dangerous specialist-in-training for your life now, so let’s take this somewhere else.”
 

To Be Continued... (Not in 3 years this time, I promise!)

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Posted (edited)

Here's the next part! Don't really have much to say about this one, other than it's a little exposition heavy. Most of that is to set up for stuff that's going to come later, though, but unfortunately that means there isn't a whole lot of substance in this chapter. There is a desperation scene, though, because I wouldn't leave you guys without one of those! Anyway, without further ado, here's the next part!

007

Apparently, there had been a lot going on behind the scenes.

Well, saying it was stuff going on behind the scenes wasn’t entirely correct. It might have been behind the scenes from my perspective, but if you looked at things from Sanae’s perspective, it was basically the main story.

Actually, there’s a particular word in the English language that seems to embody that kind of sudden realization. Sonder, or to realize abruptly that everyone around you, every single passerby, every person you’ve ever seen, has a life as long, detailed, and vivid as yours. 

Well, I’d be surprised if they all had lives that got them wrapped up in vampires and other oddities, but that didn’t make me unique or special. It just made me a rare exception where I encountered things most people don’t on a daily basis.

Sanae was, apparently, another exception.


We had all moved to an abandoned building that used to be for some kind of business, but was now broken down with shattered glass and graffiti lining the walls. Oshino sat on what used to be a reception desk, with one leg dangling over the end and the other one raised so he could use it as a makeshift armrest. 

Me and Sanae were sitting traditionally on the floor below. Sanae in particular looked rather uncomfortable, holding down her skirt with both hands as a last line of defense.

“Takashiro-kun,” Oshino spoke, “Right from the start, I’d like to apologize. I’ve been doing a lot of negotiating on behalf of Senryuu-chan and her mentor lately, but I seemed to have overdid it. I tipped the balance in her favor too much, and she got carried away and tried to do something extreme. The fact that you had to get wrapped up at all is my fault, so sorry about that.”

“N-n-no, that’s fine,” I held up my hands, “I don’t really understand what’s going on in the first place, so I’m just glad things didn’t escalate any further.”

“With that out of the way, I’d like to begin,” Oshino nodded to himself before turning to Sanae, “Senryuu-chan, I’d like to know why you, without being prompted by your mentor, decided to go ahead and exterminate Takashiro-kun.”

“It should be obvious,” Sanae replied stiffly, “It didn’t take me a long time to realize that Takashiro-san had the limbs of a vampire. The way he acted gave it away. Sometimes his shirt sleeves would fall when he raised his hand in class and I’d see a tell-tale sign of the talisman sealing his arm. He always wore long pants even during the summer when it was way too hot out. Then he got those red eyes. I suspect he used some sort of vampire magic to prevent normal people from noticing, but I noticed. He’s a monster who’s stolen the body parts of a vampire and is somewhere between a human and an Oddity.”

“Ah,” Oshino replied, “But… since he’s somewhere between a human and an Oddity, it means dealing with him, from a vampire-exorcising specialist’s perspective, isn’t something you should be concerning yourself with. In the first place, what are the things that are considered undesirable in terms of a vampire? First, you have the fact that a vampire will inevitably feed on a human being for survival. Second, you have the ability of a vampire to create kin. If there were a way to get vampires to agree to not eat humans and not create kin, vampire exorcists would become vampire negotiators instead. Usually, this is impossible, but Takashiro-kun’s not a true vampire, and he doesn’t possess fangs. Even if he was more vampire than human, he’s still essentially the ideal kind of vampire who can coexist with humans.”

Sanae frowned, shifting uncomfortably, “So, because he can exist peacefully with humans, we should ignore that he’s unnatural? He’s dangerous. He has the strength and some of the powers of a vampire. Shouldn’t that be enough to qualify him for extermination?”

“You’re naive if you believe having the ability to hurt someone is enough to regard someone as dangerous. You, after all, also possess the power to kill. You proved that earlier tonight with that frog of yours. Yet, if I called you dangerous and tried to exterminate you, you’d probably throw out some half-baked excuse like ‘I’m fighting against oddities, so it’s okay’. You’re being awfully hypocritical for someone so seemingly intolerant of oddities.”

Sanae seemed to have nothing to say to that. She merely squirmed underneath Oshino’s scrutinizing gaze.

“Unless, of course, there’s another reason you were trying to kill Takashiro-kun here.”

I instantly remembered the conversation Sanae had with me before she attacked him. She had indeed said something about having other reasons to want me dead. I glanced over at Sanae, who merely made an uncomfortable noise and tried to shrink down where she sat.

“Hit the nail on the head, it seems,” Oshino replied.

Sanae averted her gaze, looking behind her as if there was something over her shoulder. At first, I thought she had been looking at the invisible toad-like oddity on her shoulder, but then she turned to look over her other shoulder as well. It seemed more like she was worried someone else, someone dangerous to even her, was watching us. 

“I was forced to, I didn’t have a choice,” Sanae replied, “It possessed my little sister, and threatened to kill her if I didn’t comply.”

Oshino tilted his head back in intrigue, while I found myself frowning.

“Who wants me dead badly enough that they’d hold your little sister hostage?”

Sanae turned away, fidgeting nervously under both mine and Oshino’s scrutinizing gazes.

Oshino stepped in, “I am a very good negotiator. My job as a specialist, as you know, is mediating peace between humans and oddities. I might be able to talk to this oddity and resolve this issue in a way that would allow Takashiro-kun to keep his life.”

Sanae turned to me, a hesitation in her eyes. It felt like my life was being weighed against the value of her sister’s. Then her eyes hardened and she frowned.

“I’m sorry, I can’t, my sister is-”

“That’s enough.”

A fourth voice came from out of nowhere, and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that the voice had come from within my own mind, but I could tell from the other’s reactions that they had heard it too. Whatever was speaking to us was communicating telepathically, it seemed.

Oshino seemed to be the first to notice whoever it was who had spoken. His head turned upwards and he let out a noise halfway between a laugh and a scoff. Sanae and I both turned our gazes up to follow him, and Sanae let out a gasp.

There, standing vertically on one of the support pillars for the building in stark disregard for the law of gravity, was a black cat with red ears and two red tails. The tips of the cat’s ears and tails were burning with wispy red flames, and it’s eyes were a bright, piercing yellow.

As soon as we had all noticed it, the cat jumped down, landing elegantly on the ground before us and looking up.

“I was the one who asked Senryuu-san here to kill Takashiro-san.”

“You…” Sanae frowned, glaring at the black cat angrily, “This is all your fault!”

“Yes, it seems I’ve instigated quite a complicated situation here. For that. I apologize.”

“Ah, this has become a rather convoluted situation,” Oshino noted, “I’m sure there’s a specific story behind why a Kasha would be going after a human with vampire limbs.”

A Kasha. A mythological cat youkai that stole the corpses of the dead. Well, that was the myth, anyway. I had no way of knowing if actual Kasha stole corpses, of if the oddity had a different purpose altogether.

“Indeed,” the kasha spoke.

“A Kasha,” Oshino turned to me and Sanae, presumably to explain, “Is an oddity that concerns itself with ‘corpses’, as the legend goes. Or, in particular, it’s an oddity that goes after the spiritual energy left behind by inanimate objects that have been discarded.”

“Huh?” Sanae asked, tilting her head to the side.

“Well, how do I put it?” Oshino asked himself, “Ah, have you ever heard of tsukumogami? They’re the concept of inanimate objects that, for one reason or another, come to life. The concept extends beyond just special objects. Theoretically, any object could become an oddity, provided it accumulates enough spiritual energy. However, usually objects don’t accumulate spiritual energy naturally. It takes a special link between an object and a person to start gathering spiritual energy. Even gods are just normal things, either animals, people, or objects, that were worshipped by enough people for long enough that they became oddities. Of course, this also means that things that aren’t oddities can eventually become them. There are two things in the natural world that prevent this. One is an entity called ‘the Darkness’ that consumes oddities that pretend to be something they’re not. That way, simple oddities can’t arbitrarily become stronger oddities. The other are the Kasha, beings which gather spiritual energy from inanimate objects and prevent them from becoming tsukumogami.”

“Incidentally, corpses are also something that can become an oddity,” the Kasha explained, “that’s how we got our association as corpse-robbers. After all, bodies are more naturally inclined to accumulate spiritual energy, since they used to contain a soul. Moreover, humans typically mourn the passing of others, so corpses become the center of a lot of people’s prayers and attention.”

“Ah, I see,” I replied, “that does make sense.”

“But wait, I still don’t understand why you wanted me to kill Takashiro-san.”

“Hmm, yes, that is the core of the issue here,” Oshino pointed out, “Why would you, as a Kasha concerned with preventing the formation of tsukumogami, want to eliminate a human?”

“I thought it would be the simplest way to accomplish my own goals,” the Kasha replied, “Simply put, Takashiro is an obstacle, and I thought it best to get rid of him.”

“An obstacle?” I echoed, tilting my head to the side like a confused puppy.

I wouldn’t say that I was a normal high schooler, but however you looked at me, it would be hard to call me an obstacle for a Kasha. Even approaching it from the angle that I was training to be a specialist, I was being trained by a vampire hunter, and while I myself wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of being a vampire-exorcising specialist, it wasn’t like my role as a specialist-in-training had anything to do with encouraging the formation of a tsukumogami, or preventing a Kasha from destroying one.

“Simply put, I believed that your ties to Oikura Sodachi would put you in direct opposition with me.”

Sodachi.

I hadn’t expected her name to come up. Or rather, I hadn’t expected her to have any other connections to the supernatural world besides me. Perhaps that sounded conceited, but obviously there were more layers to this that I did not understand. Like a mathematical problem that required you to know multiple formulas to attain the correct answer.

“You see, us Kasha destroy Tsukumogami. But we don’t destroy all Tsukumogami. I could go into details of how we determine which Tsukumogami are the most in need of being destroyed, but in general our goal is to minimize the effects of a Tsukumogami on the outside world. It’s fine if a Tsukumogami butts in on matters of the supernatural, but the second one starts interfering with the natural order of the world outside the supernatural, it becomes a problem and must be eliminated.”

“I still don’t see what that has to do with Sodachi,” I replied, “Sodachi-san isn’t a tsukumogami, she’s my classmate.”

“Correct, but that’s the problem. In fact, a lot of things have been happening that shouldn’t be happening,” the Kasha noted, “In order to determine whether a tsukumogami poses a significant threat to the world outside the supernatural, we Kasha have a certain amount of clairvoyance, or perhaps I should say a certain understanding of fate of the world around us. Simply put, the life of Oikura Sodachi has been thrown off course by the actions of a very dangerous tsukumogami.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked, puzzled.

“Oikura Sodachi was supposed to move in with an elderly couple living in Osaka, the Hakobe family. She was supposed to start attending Shishikurosaki High School. Well, I can’t see much beyond that point, because obviously that didn’t happen, so now her fate is shifting.”

“Well, if that’s what was ‘supposed’ to happen or whatever, I am curious as to what made her move to this city,” I began, “But I still don’t see what that has to do with that.”

“You’re looking it at things the wrong way, Takashiro-kun,” Oshino chimed in, “You’re a specialist in training, so you have to be able to flip your thinking around a little. Rather than ‘I don’t see what Oikura Sodachi’s changed fate has to do with a tsukumogami’, think instead ‘because a Kasha has gotten involved, it’s likely that a tsukumogami was responsible for Oikura Sodachi’s changed fate’ and go from there.”

“In this case,” the Kasha continued, “Oikura Sodachi’s decision to start attending school here, and why she’s still living in an apartment, is because she recently encountered a tsukumogami that made her move here instead.”

“What kind of tsukumogami?”

“A corpse tsukumogami. A strong one, too,” the Kasha continued.

“Okay, but why do you want me to kill Takashiro-san over it?” Sanae asked irritably, “And why did you drag me and my sister into it?”

I looked over at Sanae. She was glaring at the Kasha angrily and shifting around uncomfortably. At first I had assumed she was grabbing at her skirt for the sake of preserving what was left of her dignity after I inadvertently cut her panties during our fight, but now she had both hands jammed between her legs and she was fidgeting around uncomfortably. 

Actually, come to think of it, I had used a rather large dose of diuretics on her earlier today. It was possible she was still feeling the effects of those. 

“Oikura Sodachi has been taking care of this particular tsukumogami. Moreover, I think she’s at least somewhat aware of its supernatural nature. On top of all that, she knows that Takashiro-san is a specialist with the limbs of a vampire. If I were to attack the tsukumogami indiscriminately, she would go to Takashiro-san for help, and I would wind up fighting 2-on-one with a human empowered with vampire body parts and a powerful tsukumogami. That is a fight I would not be able to win.”

“But why did you drag me into it?” Sanae asked angrily, still squirming around as she sat in place.

“Simple, as a vampire-exorcising specialist-in-training, I figured you would both be experienced enough to be able to combat a human with vampire powers, but inexperienced enough to not understand why a human like Takashiro-san would be off-limits from a specialist's standpoint. Plus, you were already harboring a grudge against Takashiro-san, so I figured you would be the easiest to convince to take him out. All I had to do was add the threat against your sister.”

“Oh? That’s quite manipulative of you, Kasha,” Oshino mused, “But I suppose you’re admitting all this because you intended to put an end to this farce in the first place.”

“Indeed. Once I saw that you would get involved, I realized I was making a mess of things.”

“I got involved because, coincidentally while meeting with an old friend, I realized the disciple of one powerful vampire-exorcising specialist was about to take out the disciple of another powerful specialist. Grimoire-chan and Hanatabe-kun are already bitter rivals. I’m pretty sure if Sanae-chan had succeeded in taking out Takashiro-kun, there would’ve been a rather disastrous battle on our hands. While trying to avoid fighting your own battles, you nearly caused an even bigger one.”

“Yes, I realize that now,” the Kasha bowed its head apologetically, “Please forgive me.”

“So you’ll stop manipulating me and let my sister go, right?” Sanae asked, however, without waiting for a response, she shot up, “Great! Alright, I’m going home!”

She immediately bolted for the door as soon as she had finished. I understood the source of her haste. She had looked uncomfortable from the start of our conversation and her need had only grown. The fact that the remnants of the diuretic I had given her were still working against her only made things worse. 

“Wait just a minute, young lady,” Oshino replied firmly, stopping Sanae in her tracks and leaving her dancing in place desperately, “The fact that you were manipulated does not mean you’re absolved of all responsibility. Also, the Kasha mentioned you having a preexisting grudge against Takashiro-kun. Not like it’s my place to meddle, but if we could get to the bottom of that, I’ll rest easy knowing you won’t go after Takashiro-kun again.”

Sanae let out a grunt of frustration, though it seemed more at the fact that she was being held up and less at what Oshino had said. She turned around and gave me a look that was somewhere between upset and apologetic.

“I don’t have to explain anything to any of you about my grudges or my reasoning for disliking a person,” she replied, “But I am sorry I tried to kill you over it. You’re not a vampire and from a professional standpoint as a vampire-exorcising specialist-in-training, I don’t have the right to try to exterminate you. Even though this Kasha manipulated me and threatened my sister, it’s something I should’ve dealt with by asking Hanatabe-sensei, not by indiscriminately attacking you.”

Sanae’s tone shifted from aggravated to genuinely apologetic, almost soft, at that last part, and it did feel genuine. I genuinely felt like she wasn’t going to try to kill me anymore.

Suddenly, however, Sanae jammed her hands between her legs and straightened her body, pressing her thighs together as she danced in place. Her eyes shot open and she looked over at Oshino.

“If you’re satisfied, I’m seriously leaving now!”

“There is one more thing I wanted to address,” Oshino replied, glancing over to the Kasha.

Sanae grunted in equal parts frustration and desperation, but she made no moves towards the door. 

“What do you intend to do now, if you’re not going to try to get Sanae-chan to eliminate Takashiro-kun?”

“I would like, if at all possible, to make a truce,” the Kasha replied, “I do not wish to trouble you any more than I already have, and I do not wish to make things difficult for Sodachi. However, I need to eliminate the tsukumogami she’s become quite friendly with lately. I do not know what the nature of the tsukumogami is, other than it is based off of a corpse and it is influencing her decisions dramatically. I fear simply trying to destroy the tsukumogami would cause a lot of distress for Sodachi, but I cannot abide it’s existence any longer. If possible, I would like you to try to convince Sodachi to abandon the tsukumogami, so I may destroy it properly before it causes any more problems.”

“That’s going to be a bit of a problem,” I admitted, “Since me and Sodachi aren’t exactly on good terms right now. At the very least, though, I’ll do my best, and if all else fails, I promise to stay out of your way, even if Sodachi herself asks me for help directly.”

“Very well,” the Kasha nodded, seemingly satisfied with my answer. He then turned to Oshino, “I assume that is a satisfactory result of these negotiations?” 

“Yes, thank you for cooperating and coming to reasonable terms,” Oshino nodded, “You’re all dismissed.”

At that, the Kasha vanished in a flash of purple flame, and Sanae rushed outside, hand still jammed between her legs. I stood up myself and stretched. It had been a long night, but my wounds had finally healed and I was able to move around normally again. I turned to Oshino and bowed politely.

“Thanks again for helping me out!” 

“Don’t mention it, as a negotiator, I was merely doing my job,” Oshino replied.

I nodded and turned around, heading out the same way Sanae had left. I was expecting to find myself alone, caught in the light drizzle that was still coming down, but instead, I saw Sanae there, doubled over with one hand against the wall.

At first I thought maybe she was wetting herself, but her skirt was dry aside from the few speckled droplets of rain that had hit her since she had left the building behind me. She was also crossing her legs desperately. I thought to leave her be, but she turned around and looked at me. Instead of anger or resentment, she looked at me with pleading eyes.

“I have… I have to pee…” she admitted. 

Unnecessarily. 

Of course I knew that. You could tell that just by looking at her.

“Just go, then. No one’s stopping you anymore,” I replied simply, turning around to head off in the opposite direction. I knew things likely weren’t that simple, but I was feigning ignorance on purpose.

“Takashiro-san,” she called out, “Please, I’m about to wet myself… I can barely walk.”

I looked at her with a blank expression.

“There are plenty of alleyways around. It’s raining and there aren’t many people out, so it should be fine to just go, right? Even if you’re not that shameless, you have that toad there. You can manipulate water, so it should be fine.”

“Oh right, you still don’t know about my Rainy Day Frog’s abilities,” Sanae replied. She looked like she was about to go into some kind of explanation, but before she could, she started dancing frantically and whimpered, “I’ll explain later, help me before I wet myself! There’s a convenience store two blocks down that way, but I… there’s no way I’ll make it in time!”

“What exactly do you want me to do about it?”

“Carry me,” she had requested shamelessly. 

“Ah, my leg’s still sore from earlier. You madwoman, trying to attack me with holy water,” I replied, grabbing my leg in faux pain.

“You bastard, you’re healed already! I know enough about how vampires work to know that much,” Sanae accused, before letting out a moan of desperation and grabbing herself tighter, “I’m sorry, okay! Please! I’ve gotta go so bad! This is your fault too, anyway! You totally drugged me with some kind of diuretic, didn’t you?”

“I drugged you with diuretic, you attacked me with holy water,” I shrugged, “I mean, you tried to kill me which is a bit more extreme, but if you wet yourself in embarrassment I’ll be generous and call us even.”

Sanae glared at me and I motioned to turn around and walk away. It wasn’t like I wasn’t going to give in and help her, but she had been my enemy up until a certain point, and I still wasn’t sure if I could trust her. In fact, if she tried to kill me, there was also the possibility that, for some other reason, she had also tried to kill Yuuki.

In short, without feeling bad about it, I wanted to mess with her a little.

“Please, I’ll…” Sanae paused, though whether it was out of desperation or embarrassment I wasn’t sure, “I’ll… I’ll show you them. My panties. I mean.”

“I’ve already seen your panties,” I pointed out bluntly.

“I meant on me, you idiot!” she yelled, “I mean… I could show them to you if you help me… you seem like the kind of sick pervert who’d be fine with an exchange like that, and I’m running out of options here! Or maybe you like breasts better. I’ll let you grab them! They’re not as big as Yuuki-chan’s but I…”

Sanae paused to let out a gasp as she danced around, “Please, I’m about to wet myself here!”

“Fine, fine,” I acquiesced, not like I hadn’t been planning on it the whole time anyway, “If you’re that desperate, I’ll get you to the bathroom.”

I made my way over to her and picked her up. She was a bit heavier than Yuuki, but it wasn’t like it was a problem for me with my vampire limbs. I held her up and felt her squirm in my arms.

“P-pervert, sicko!” she spat, even as I began running to the convenience store and her relief.

“Hey, I never asked for you to show me your panties, or grab your breasts. Those were your ideas. I never said I wanted those things.”

“Good, I don’t want you seeing my panties or grabbing my boobs.”

“However, I never said I didn’t want them either.”

“Make up your mind, pervert.”

“I mean to say, if I wasn’t 100% positive you’d turn around and tell Yuuki-chan, I’d accept the opportunity given to me as an appreciative male adolescent,” I replied.

I expected some biting comment back at me, but instead I got silence. I didn’t think it was simply because Sanae was fighting to hold back her flood, either. I looked down and even through the desperate squirming I saw a strange, contemplative expression. However, before I could ask, the expression was replaced with one of desperation as she grabbed herself tighter and squirmed around in my arms. I could tell by her ragged breaths and her movements that she was reaching her limit.

Suddenly, she let out a sqeak, and yelled out, “Put me down!”

“Hold on, we’re almost-”

“Put me down right now! Hurry!”

I complied, letting her down. She rushed into an alley, looking around to make sure no one else was out, and squatted right there. Not a moment later, a loud hiss broke through the sound of the drizzled around us as she peed right there. I turned around to give her privacy, but I still listened as she emptied her full bladder right there in the alleyway. She let out a heavy sigh as she took in the relief of finally getting to let go. It took a while for her stream to taper off, but eventually the hissing quieted and I could no longer hear anything through the sound of the drizzle.

I heard Sanae stand up behind me, and I turned around.

SMACK!

Sanae had unceremoniously, out-of-the-blue, smacked me as hard as she could.

“This was all your fault in the first place,” she accused.

“Hey, I only drugged you with the diuretic because you openly used your abilities in front of me and made me think it was something more dangerous,” I pointed out, “Besides, if I had known from the start you were a vampire-exorcising specialist-in-training, I probably would’ve left you alone… well, at least until you attacked me.”

“Whatever,” Sanae frowned, “Anyway, I’m going home.”

“Hold on,” I stopped her, “You haven’t explained the Rainy Day Frog to me.”

“I’m not your teacher,” Sanae pointed out, “Figure it out on your own.”

“You did say you’d explain it to me, and I did go out of my way to help you. Or would you rather me claim the other reward instead?”

“You didn’t get me to the bathroom in time, so the offer’s null and void.”

“I got you halfway, so I should get half of the reward, right? Well, it’s not like I can see half of your panties, but I could grab just one-”

“Fine, I’ll explain the Rainy Day Frog to you. Pervert.”

 

008

For the sake of convenience, we had moved to a nearby park with a covered pavilion to get out of the rain.

Sanae reached up to her shoulder and grasped at something before placing it down on the picnic table in front of us. With a flicker, the green frog I had caught glimpses of had materialized fully. 

“This is a Rainy Day Frog. Typically they use water vapor in the air to make themselves invisible, but when they’re controlling water they can’t maintain that kind of cloak, so they ‘flicker’ when controlling water. They’re a pretty powerful oddity. Not only can they manipulate water, they can also move it from one closed container to another, or from a closed container to out in the open. In other words, they can teleport water.”

“Okay, but you said earlier when you were desperate that you couldn’t just use the Rainy Day Frog to empty your bladder, even though that’s pretty much what you did in class.”

“The Rainy Day Frog is a powerful oddity, but frogs are not generally seen as powerful creatures,” Sanae explained, “The power between an oddity and the mundane base that forms the foundation of that oddity can’t be too great. So when an oddity falls into possession of a broad concept such as ‘water manipulation’, there have to be limitations to that to keep its power in check. In this case, rather than the ability itself being limited, it’s how often I can use it. Ordinarily after resorting to using the Rainy Day Frog to supernaturally transfer the contents of my bladder into the unsuspecting Sodachi-san, I wouldn’t have been able to attack you at all, but luckily for me, the Rainy Day Frog’s power is at its peak right before a rainstorm, as that’s traditionally when most people were grateful for the oddity’s appearance, assuming it had created the rain.”

“Ah, so in other words, due to the events earlier today, and during our battle, you exhausted all of the Rainy Day Frog’s power, and could no longer use it to do something like manipulate the contents of your bladder.”

“Pretty much. Are you satisfied with that explanation.”

“If I said no, would you still let me grab your breasts?”

“That was never something I was going to let you do in the first place, I only said it because I was desperate and not thinking straight,” Sanae admitted.

“Well, that’s fine anyway,” I replied, “Like I said, I know that the second I tried to grab your breasts, you’d go off telling Yuuki and she’d wind up hating me forever. That’s something I want to put off for as long as possible, if I can.”

Sanae frowned and looked away. There was that contemplative expression again. This time, perhaps because she wasn’t desperate, I noticed it was mixed in with a bit of bitterness. I would’ve asked about it, but there was essentially no way I was going to get a straight answer from her.

“Anyway, I’m going home,” Sanae replied, “It’s cold and thanks to you I’m going commando right now, so I’m extremely uncomfortable. Speak of any of this to anyone in class tomorrow, and I’ll spread rumors about you that’ll make the whole school despise you. Oh, and under no circumstances are you allowed to tell Yuuki-chan that I’m a vampire-hunting specialist that tried to kill you for selfish reasons. If you do tell her, I’ll make sure you regret it.”

With that, Sanae started heading home, and I did the same. There was a lot to take in, all things considered. Between the information I had received on Sanae, the Rainy Day Frog, and the Kasha, my head was practically spinning. Trying to get everything straight in my head, I unraveled each of the levels behind the events in my mind as I walked home.

First, there was Sanae’s attack on me. That had been prompted by the Kasha, who wanted me dead.

The Kasha wanted me dead because he needed to take care of a tsukumogami, but was afraid I’d stand in his way.

The reason why he thought I would stand in his way is because of that girl. My classmate who might despise me or might not despise me.

Oikura Sodachi.

Sanae Frog END
 

Edited by Railgun-sama (see edit history)
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Sodachi Corpse

001

It had been exactly a week since the incident where Senryuu Sanae had attacked me with the Rainy Day Frog, and I had learned of the Kasha’s mission to eliminate a tsukumogami in the care of Oikura Sodachi.

That had been the gist of it, but in reality the situation was a lot more complicated than it seemed. In the first place, if Sodachi was in possession of a tsukumogami, it was entirely possible she wasn’t even aware of it. Well, less so that she wouldn’t be aware of the tsukumogami itself, but moreso that she didn’t realize it was a tsukumogami.

Secondly, even if she was aware of it’s supernatural nature, she had grown attached to it. To the point where, in an alternate timeline where me and Sodachi were actually on good terms, she went to me for help when the Kasha attacked it, and I fought with the Kasha alongside the tsukumogami. At least that’s what the Kasha had told me. Not that I didn’t believe him, but it was hard for me to envision a world where Oikura Sodachi actively came to me for help on oddities.

But even beyond that, there was the simple fact that me and Sodachi were still not on good terms. 

A week ago, Sodachi had expressed her feelings clearly by saying she didn’t want to deal with me anymore and cancelling our math lessons together forever. It wasn’t like I was particularly bothered by either of these things. Inevitably you are going to encounter a person that will despise you for what seems like no reason. Obviously there is a reason, but usually it’s a reason personal to them that you can’t understand and don’t really want to change. 

If that was all this was, I could move on and be content with knowing that Sodachi merely despised me for some reason like that. 

However, I had felt that me and Sodachi had been developing a strange friendship, right up until the time that I shared with her my story about Yuuki. Perhaps that I had said something or conveyed a part of myself that Sodachi inherently found distasteful, but part of me wondered if there wasn’t a deeper layer to it. If Sodachi was in contact with a dangerous supernatural creature knowingly, she might see my existence as a specialist a threat to her relationship with the tsukumogami.

Of course, if I was being personally honest with myself, all of this was a stretch and I just wanted there to be a reason she had been acting so weird that went beyond just her disliking me. If it had something to do with the tsukumogami, then at the very least once it was gone, our relationship could improve. It was that kind of line of thinking that got me hopeful that Sodachi did not despise me. If you asked me why I cared about Oikura Sodachi not despising me, I couldn’t exactly give you a direct answer. 

I mean, it’s natural to not want to be hated, but as I said, being hated is inevitable, and on top of that it wasn’t like we were particularly close to begin with before she began despising me. It was like I was pursuing a goal that made no sense, especially when there was someone right in front of me who I was already close to.

“Hey, Takashiro-san! Are you listening?”

“Huh?” I looked up at Yuuki. She was sitting at her desk normally, and I was turned around in the seat in front of her to speak with her face-to-face. School was over, and normally Yuuki was tired enough by the end of the day to head straight home, but today she had a bit more energy than normal, and it had also been a while since we’d talked in person. 

“Sorry, I got distracted.”

“You’re always like that, lately,” Yuuki replied with a concerned look, “Is it an oddity? Is everything going alright with your training?”

“Well, it’s not like it’s related to my training, but there’s been a lot of supernatural stuff going on lately.”

Sanae’s Rainy Day Frog, the Kasha, Sodachi’s mystery tsukumogami, and of course, there was still my underlying desire to find out who had cursed Yuuki. It was still my intention to rebound the curse and free Yuuki from a life of being a sickly, weak individual.

Of course, it wasn’t like I could tell Yuuki about Sanae, and I wasn’t about to admit to going behind her back to try to rebound the curse for her. So naturally I told her about the only thing I could. Socachi’s tsukumogami and the Kasha.

“I see,” Yuuki replied after listening to my story intently, “So this tsukumogami is dangerous, and for some reason Sodachi is particularly attached to it.”

“That’s about as much information as I have,” I replied, “My problem is this. I have no idea how to approach her at all. She despises me.”

“Despises you? Is that the impression you have of her?”

“Well, ever since the day I explained everything about oddities to her, she’s been avoiding me lately.”

“Hmm,” Yuuki frowned, placing an inquisitive finger on her lip in thought, “Is it not possible that Sodachi just happens to embody the characteristics one would attribute to a tsundere?”

“Typically a tsundere would still try to find excuses to spend time with a person, not completely avoid them,” I pointed out.

“I mean, more to the point, is it possible that you spoke of me in a way that would make Sodachi feel like you were romantically attracted to me?”

“Huh?”

Yuuki blushed, “I-I mean, if Sodachi likes you, then perhaps when you were telling her about how we met, she got the mistaken impression that you like me.”

“Hmm… well, when I was telling the story, I did mention various features, such as your large breasts, so at the very least she might’ve gotten the impression I was sexually attracted to you,” I pointed out.

Yuuki blushed harder and looked away, “H-hey! But I mean, if she was curious enough about our relationship in the first place, maybe she doesn’t despise you, but instead feels like you and her shouldn’t get closer for the sake of our relationship.”

“Well, that would be one thing,” I began, looking out the window and focusing on people running on the track field just below our classroom, “but in the end, that would imply she wants a more intimate relationship between her and myself than just being friends. In the first place, I don’t see that as likely.”

“Why is that?” Yuuki asked.

“Huh? Well, because I’m not exactly the kind of person you’d want to date.”

“Is that really your perception of yourself?” Yuuki asked.

I paused. The question hung in the air as the room grew silent, and I pondered exactly what Yuuki meant.

“W-well,” I began, suddenly unsure of myself, “I’m a Frankenstein’s monster stitched together with vampire parts. In fact, now with these eyes, you could even say I’m more vampire than human already. Even if I was just a normal human, I’m not exactly what you’d call an admirable person. I’m openly perverted and often do selfish things. Even the parts of me that you could call admirable, like the fact that I’m the class rep, or the fact that I’m studying hard to be a specialist, are things I’m doing out of obligations to other people.”

“What about how you swooped in and saved me when I was cursed? Or how you’ve decided to take on that Kasha’s problems because it concerns Sodachi’s well-being?” Yuuki pointed out, “Wouldn’t a selfish person just come up with some automatic answer like, ‘It’s not my problem, that’s your job to deal with?’”

“Is meddling in people’s business really that admirable? I mean, in the first place, I’m sure some people would find it annoying if they knew I couldn’t keep my nose out of things. I’m sure Sodachi would be angry with me if I barged in telling her I was going to deal with that tsukumogami of hers.”

Yuuki leaned forwards and flicked me on the forehead. She was glaring at me, face incredibly close to mine. Because she was leaning forwards, I could see a clear view down her uniform’s blouse and her cleavage. The bra that was holding back her large breasts was frilly and pink. If Yuuki noticed that I could see down her shirt, she definitely didn’t seem to care.

“Do you really think I see you saving me as just meddling? Do you really think I would say something like ‘you should have kept your nose out of it!’ after you saved my life?”

I gulped audibly and Yuuki leaned in even closer, her hot breath tickling my ear.

“I will always be grateful to you, Haru.”

“...............”

I looked over and Yuuki was blushing furiously, but at the same time she was smiling warmly. I stared at her, wide-eyed, and she gazed back at me. She was breathing heavily, and she looked like she wanted to do more. Due to her shy nature, I never expected this kind of thing from her, but a natural expert pervert like me could tell she was definitely on the verge of making some kind of move. She reached out like she was going to touch my face, and then she recoiled and pulled back all at once.

“S-sorry, I just… I want you to know that you’re a better person than you give yourself credit for, Haru-san.”

“Y-yeah.”

“W-well, I better get going!” Yuuki replied hurriedly, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow!”

Yuuki quickly grabbed her things and hurried off as fast as she could, and I let out a sigh. I don’t know what I expected, or if I expected anything. Or even if I secretly wanted anything to happen. I had outright refused to consider a romantic relationship with Yuuki because I fully intended to go behind her back and properly rebound the curse. But I hadn’t even properly thought about my actual feelings. Did I like Yuuki? And if Sodachi really did like me, what would happen between me and her?

“Well, thinking about all this now isn’t going to help. I need to focus on my role as a Specialist and find out about Sodachi. She might wind up hating me for it, but I might have to stop by her apartment… Since she didn’t show up to school today, I can always use the excuse that I’m doing my proper job as class rep and delivering her homework…”

I stepped out of the classroom and made my way for the stairwell, idly counting the doors out of boredom as I walked by. Then, suddenly, I stopped.

“Five…”

There were only supposed to be four classrooms between our homeroom class and the stairwell. I had attended this school for nearly three years now, and I had passed by this hallway countless times. I was sure I wasn’t mistaken. In fact, I remember counting the doors many times on my way home, and the number of doors was always four.

And yet, before me, was a fifth door.

Naturally, I entered.

Or, more specifically, it felt like some unknown force drove my body to enter whether I wanted to or not. 

“Ah, Takashiro-kun. How kind of you to join us.”

The soft, androgynous voice came from a rather unusual girl sitting on the teacher’s desk, swinging her legs back and forth childishly. She had short black hair cut into a bob and was wearing a uniform completely unfamiliar to me, with a pink blouse, black tie, and dark grey skirt. The sleeves of her uniform were long and hung past the ends of her arms, and she was waving one enthusiastically at me. 

“Who are you? How did you know my name?”

“That’s a mystery, isn’t it? But perhaps one easily solved if I tell you my name. I’m Oshino Ougi.”

Oshino.

The same surname as the blonde-haired Specialist who came to my aid after Sanae attacked me. If she was related to him, then that likely meant he had told her about me. At least, that’s what I figured she meant by “easily-solved”.

“Please, have a seat. But do be quiet. My other guest is sleeping quite soundly right now.”

Come to think of it, when I first walked in, Ougi did say “us”. I looked over at where she was motioning with her sleeve-covered hand, and nearly cried out in shock.

It was Oikura Sodachi. Clad in nothing but her pajamas that I got more than a good look at when she had invited me over for tutoring, sleeping soundly across a number of desks that had been pushed together.

“W-w-w-what? What’s she doing here? Wait, she’s still wearing her pajamas. Did you kidnap her?”

“Hmm, it’s possible I did, or it’s possible I didn’t. But if I did, it would only be to help her. As well as you. In fact, I can say that I showed up here for the sole purpose of helping you solve the mystery that’s already on your mind, and that concerns Oikura Sodachi.”

“Huh?” I asked, “You already know about the Tsukumogami?”

“No. That is to say, I have a hunch. Or rather, I had been involved in helping other people solve a mystery involving Sodachi a while back, and at that point I had thought that all of the pieces fell into place. But then I realized that there was something wrong with the conclusion we came to.”

Ougi jumped up on the desk and pulled a magnifying glass out of her pocket, pointing it at Sodachi.

“I don’t like getting things wrong. Though, I guess, rather than getting things wrong, it was a case of not having all the information. There were missing pieces that I couldn’t have known at the time. Ah, but I suppose you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about.”

That was for sure. It wasn’t like I had any way of knowing that Ougi and Sodachi had interacted in the past, so naturally I had no idea what she meant. Before I could even make sense of where to start asking questions, however, a groan sounded behind me, and I turned around in time to see Sodachi wake up.

She seemed to instantly notice that she wasn’t sleeping in her bed, and furthermore she quickly noticed she wasn’t alone in the room. One would expect a girl in her position to react defensively and cover herself, especially since she was really only wearing a nightgown and it was slipping in places and riding up in others. I remembered her also having a pair of matching pajama shorts, but apparently she didn’t wear those in her sleep, as they were missing and I got a clear shot of her white panties. 

“W-what’s going on here? Where are we? Wait, Oshino-san, you’re here?” 

“Ah, Oikura-senpai. I’m surprised you remember me,” Ouji replied, “But anyway, we’re at your new school. Though I guess technically we’re also not at your new school. This room here shouldn’t exist, and now that all of the participants are here, it cannot be opened or closed until our mystery is solved.”

“Mystery? What mystery?” Sodachi asked, “And why are you here, Takashiro-san?”

The way she spoke my name with something like venom made me shrink where I stood, but before I could reply, Ougi stepped in.

“The mystery of your tsukumogami. The one you should already know about.”

“Tsukumogami?” Sodachi asked.

“I’ll let Takashiro explain this one, since he’s the one training to be a Specialist here,” Ouji motioned to me, handing me the reins.

“A-ah,” I began, scratching the back of my head and trying not to stare too hard at Sodachi, who’s top was dangerously close to slipping and making her immodest, “W-well, a Tsukumogami is any kind of object that gathers enough spiritual energy to become an oddity. Anything that has a special bond and is cared for by humans has the potential to become a Tsukumogami, and apparently a really strong one has been hanging around you lately.”

“There isn’t anything like that around me,” Sodachi replied, almost a little too quickly. She glared at me and back at Ougi, clenching the desk she was sitting on irritably, “Sorry, but your mystery doesn’t exist. Now, I’m going to try to get home without causing a scene and spreading rumors that I’m an exhibitionist.”

She stood up quickly and moved over to the door, reaching for the handle and tugging on it to slide it open. However, it didn’t budge, and Sodachi whirled around and glared at Ougi.

“Let me out of here right now!” 

“Sorry, not even I can open the door. The windows won’t budge either,” Ougi replied, “I told you, we won’t be getting out of here until the mystery of your tsukumogami is solved.”

“There’s no need for either of you to pry into anything! Everything’s going fine, so stay out of it and let me out!” Sodachi demanded, tapping her foot impatiently. She was glaring at us with her arms crossed, and her face was flushed from embarrassment at her current attire, or more specifically lack thereof. 

Ougi moved swiftly and gracefully over to Sodachi and grabbed the hem of her nightgown. In one fell swoop, she lifted it up, exposing her panties and nearly exposing her breasts. I was about to turn around out of respect for Sodachi, but it was clear something was very wrong. There were nasty black bruises all over her stomach and upper thighs. 

I also couldn’t help but notice a significant bulge in Sodachi’s usually slender abdomen. Perhaps her haste to leave the room was not entirely due to wanting to hide her situation.

Ougi lowered Sodachi’s nightgown and she grabbed at the hem angrily. Her face was even more red, and but she was no longer able to meet either of our eyes.

“S-Sodachi-”

“Not a goddamn word!” Sodachi yelled, “Don’t you dare take pity on me!”

“And there it is. Clearly something is wrong, so this room won’t open until this issue is resolved,” Ougi spoke affirmatively, “Perhaps it’s best to start where we left off. Ah, by me, I mean me, Araragi-senpai, and Hanekawa-senpai. Ah, but naturally Takashiro-san, you won’t have any idea who those people are. Have a seat, Oikura-senpai. I imagine standing there in front of a door that won’t open won’t be comfortable if we wind up having a long conversation.”

Sodachi glared at Ougi, but didn’t protest. She returned to the platform of desks and sat on them, drawing one leg up and fidgeting uncomfortably. Her movements confirmed my suspicion about that bulge earlier. 

In an odd twist of fate, I had wound up in the same situation I had first met Sodachi. Locked together with her in a classroom, while she had to pee.

“Back then, I had worked together with a couple of people to figure out a particular mystery about Oikura-senpai’s past. Particularly, she had tasked us with finding the whereabouts of her mother. Ah, Oikura-senpai, I’m about to say a bunch of really personal stuff to Takashiro-san, do you mind?”

“You’re going to whether I want you to or not, aren’t you?” Sodachi asked.

“Oh? Are you perhaps implying I wouldn’t respect your privacy and personal wishes? No, if you tell me not to, I won’t go any further. Of course, this classroom won’t open either, because this information is necessary to solve the mystery of your Tsukumogami. I wonder how long we’ll all survive here without food or water?” 

Sodachi shifted uncomfortably on the desk and bit her lip like she was biting back an insult. She tried to move subtly, but I caught her slip a hand between her legs and squeeze her crotch briefly.
“Anyway, if I have Oikura-senpai’s permission, I will share a brief overview of the situation. From what I’ve been told, when she was in 7th grade, her parents divorced because of her abusive father. Her mother fell into a depression and locked herself in her room, forcing Oikura-senpai to take care of her. Two years later, Oikura-senpai checked the room, only to find her mother gone, yet the door to the room was still locked. This was the fundamental of the mystery we had to solve. How did her mother get out of a locked room, and where did she go? Takashiro, do you have any clue?”

I looked over at Sodachi, who’s personal life had just been laid bare, at least in part, to me. She glared at me when our eyes met, like she was silently telling me not to pity her. However, she then lowered her leg and crossed it over her other leg, squirming around on the desk. As long as the classroom was locked, she’d be forced to hold it, so whether she wanted me to answer or not, it was clear that answering was the only way forward.

“A-ah, well, I don’t really know Sodachi-san’s mother, but if I were to guess, she probably just ran away from home. Or maybe she went to commit-” 

I glanced back over at Sodachi and felt extremely uncomfortable finishing a sentence that would imply Sodachi’s mother had killed herself.

“Suicide,” Sodachi finished for me, turning to glare at me defiantly, even as she shuffled in desperation on the desk.

“Well, that definitely seems like a possibility,” Ougi replied, “But that leaves the mystery of the locked door. If the door was locked, how did Oikura-senpai’s mother leave the room? That was the question Araragi-senpai, who was a fool, and Hanekawa-senpai, who also turned out to be a fool, struggled with. Well, I suppose in the end, I also got it wrong, so I was also a fool. Ahaha.”

That laugh sent chills down my spine. It was less a laugh, and more like someone reading a laugh aloud without having ever heard what laughter sounded like. It was deeply unsettling, but in a weird way it was also calming. 

“The conclusion we came to was this. In her grief, Oikura-senpai’s mother refused to eat, and died. Oikura-senpai, who was, or I suppose is, a deeply troubled individual due to her trauma, failed to notice this, and over time Oikura-senpai’s mother’s corpse decayed into bones and was mixed in with the trash that was piling up. The trash that Oikura-senpai was not properly able to deal with also masked the stench of the corpse. This was our conclusion, and Oikura-senpai, as well, ultimately agreed with this conclusion, like she had always known this is what had happened.”

“That’s…”

I refrained from voicing my sympathies in front of my desperate classmate, who had on multiple occasions made it clear that she didn’t want to be pitied.

Sodachi uncrossed her legs and crossed them the other way, openly jamming a hand between her legs this time. She seemed quite a bit more restless than before, and it was clear she had to pee pretty bad. It was like she gave up trying to hide that she had to pee and decided that openly holding it was the only way she was going to make it through this.

“That was what Araragi told me back then,” Sodachi admitted, “I thought I remembered it. After all, the locked door meant that my mother truly couldn’t have left that room, and I do vaguely remember my mother refusing to eat for a time that would be impossible to survive if you thought about it rationally, or so I thought.”

“Or so you thought?” I asked.

“I was almost ready to accept that. But then my mother returned suddenly. She gave a heartfelt apology for abandoning me, and for making me take care of her. She then asked me to move in with her. I was able to stay in the city, rather than moving out with an old couple who didn’t know a damn thing about me. That bastard, that meddling bastard Araragi, when I asked him to find my mother earnestly, came back with some half-assed answer he came up with digging through memories that weren’t his! He convinced me that I had simply not noticed my own mother’s corpse! You got it wrong!”

Sodachi turned to glare at Ouji, “You all got it wrong and tried to implant false memories into me! There’s no more mystery!”

“But what about those bruises?” Ougi asked, “And what about that period of time when your mother didn’t eat even though it would’ve been impossible to survive that even you remember? There’s more to this mystery. Let’s get one fact out of the way. Oikura-senpai’s mother definitely died. She was locked in a room piled up with her own trash and waste, and refused to eat anything for a period of time that no one could survive. Takashiro-san, have you figured it out yet?”

“Hmm, well, I can’t really think of how that’s possible. I mean, even if you insist that she died, Sodachi-san just said that her mother’s alive, right? I mean, the bruises are concerning, but as much as I hate to say it, humans are capable of causing those bruises.”

“Have you forgotten already, Takashiro-san? Sodachi has a particularly powerful tsukumogami around her. That was the premise of why that Kasha asked you for help, correct?”

“I know, but I still don’t see-”

Realization struck me like a brick.
Kasha were known as corpse-gathering oddities because they would often gather around corpses, but ultimately that was just part of them fulfilling their duties of preventing the formation of tsukumogami. Corpses, due to them normally having a soul, and due to people’s connection and care of them even after death, were prone to becoming tsukumogami. 

If Oikura Sodachi’s mother truly died, and she continued to take care of it like it was alive, that would mean the corpse was being cared for far more than a normal corpse, which was already prone to becoming a tsukumogami. Given that Sodachi’s mother recently reentered her life, plus the fact that the Kasha had mentioned Sodachi’s tsukumogami was a corpse, that probably meant her mother currently was a tsukumogami. That seemed to be the logical conclusion being drawn here.

“I see you’ve figured it out, Takashiro-san,” Ougi nodded, “Sodachi-san’s mother… because Sodachi-san cared for her corpse for two years after she died, became a tsukumogami. The very tsukumogami you’re hunting after.”

“Tha-that’s not possible!” Sodachi replied, though she didn’t seem all that convinced herself, “You’re lying!”

“Ah, Oikura-senpai, you’re looking a little restless there, is everything alright?” Ougi asked.

“I-I’m fine, can we hurry this up so you can let us out of here already?”

“Coincidentally, when I went to fetch Oikura-senpai, the door to her bedroom was locked from the outside. And her mother was nowhere to be seen. Oikura-senpai also seemed like she had been in her room for some time.”

“Wait, Sodachi-san, were you locked in your room?” I asked.

“T-that’s none of your…” Sodachi stopped and squeezed her thighs together, letting out a soft moan as she fought against her full bladder, “F-fine, yes, I was. All night.”

“And those bruises, don’t tell me…”

“Don’t you dare pity me, I told you! Ah!” Sodachi let out a cry and jumped off the desk. She rushed for the door, “Oshino-san, let me out right now! I… I’ve been locked in my room since last night, I haven’t gone to the bathroom! I can’t hold it!”

I looked down at the desk, and there was a small wet spot where Sodachi had leaked. If Sodachi had been holding it since last night, I don’t blame her for being so desperate. In fact, in this situation, it felt like keeping her in a locked room was wrong.

“Oshino-san, we should let her go, at least.”

“I told you, I can’t. This room wasn’t my doing. It’s a manifestation of the psychological and physical problems Oikura-senpai has been bottling up until now. It appeared because the situation has become dire, and multiple people and oddities are now involved,” Ougi explained, “Until Sodachi herself finally realizes the truth for herself and comes to terms with the truth, this room won’t open.”

“Okay, okay, fine!” Sodachi yelled, glaring at Ougi as she danced around desperately, “You’re right! I’ve noticed something… off about my mother, but I was just… I wanted her to be alive! I didn’t want to accept that she had died because I couldn’t take care of her properly! I beat myself up for not forcing her to eat. I could’ve saved her. That was why I ignored her death for so long. Then Araragi goes and drags it back up. Well, that was because I asked him…”

Sodachi paused, letting out another shocked gasp as she clamped down between her legs. A small spurt trickled down one of her legs, and she quickly rubbed it off with the other one, dancing around madly to hold it all in. 

“S-so, when she reappeared, of course I thought something was wrong… but… but I convinced myself she was really still alive… I wanted that to be the case. But if that’s what you wanted me to say so bad, then… I’ve said it!”

Sodachi turned around and tried to tug the door open, but no matter how frantically she pulled, the door remained closed.

“Ah, it looks like Oikura-senpai is still bottling up her woes.”

“I can’t… there’s nothing else… I can’t…!”

Sodachi leaked again, and she collapsed into a kneeling position. She dug her heel into her crotch and squirmed around desperately, breaths ragged as she tried to hold on. I could see her panties clearly, a prominent wet spot soaking her crotch, growing larger as she lost another spurt into them. 

“I can’t hold it… please… please open!”

Sodachi banged against the door uselessly with one hand as the other rubbed her swollen bladder. She then let out a surprised yelp and looked down in shock and horror as the dam burst. With her crotch still jammed against the heel of her foot, pee burst out of her, spraying out and stopping for the briefest of moments as she tried to stop the flow. 

It quickly started again and rivulettes flowed around her heel and onto the floor below, pooling into a puddle that practically steamed against the cold tile floor below. The puddle spread out quickly and unevenly as she continued to wet herself, Making it all the way to the corner desk closest to the door. Even as the puddle grew to such an impressive size, she continued peeing, her ragged breaths shifting from strained to relieved as her bladder emptied itself.

Ougi had a sleeve-covered hand pressed up against her mouth like she was stifling a laugh, and I felt the need to yell at her. However, another part of me felt incredibly uncomfortable with even drawing attention to Sodachi’s situation as she was still wetting herself. I probably also should’ve felt bad for watching, but there were certain things a man had to see through to the end, even if it would get him in trouble afterwards. 

After what seemed like ages, Sodachi’s flow finally staved off into a trickle, and then stopped, and she let out a long sigh of relief. She then nearly jumped in her own puddle as she realized what was going on. She shot up, covered her soaked-through panties with her nightgown as best as she could, and whirled around.

It was expecting a glare. Angry eyes and pouty cheeks as she prepared to threaten us to never speak of her accident again. After all, this was essentially the second time I had watched her wet herself in this kind of situation.

What I wasn’t suspecting was the utterly soft, abashed, vulnerable expression she was wearing on her face. Tears pooled in the corners of her eyes, her fists were balled nervously at her sides, and her lip quivered like she was on the verge of bursting into tears.

Unexpectedly, she raised her nightgown again. Not to show off her soaked panties, but to once again show off the bruises on her thighs and stomach.

“My mother… no… the tsukumogami of my mother’s corpse… she does these things to me. She locks me in my room all night. Sometimes she’s kind and gentle, but sometimes…”

Sodachi trailed off, and suddenly fury boiled up inside my chest. That thing that was pretending to be Sodachi’s mother was treating her like this.

“I was in denial because I wanted her to be okay, but her strength was inhuman. So when you told me about the supernatural world, I instantly knew she was something from that world you live in,” Sodachi admitted, “So, to keep myself in my delusion, I pushed you away and convinced myself everything was normal. No, even before that, I remained cold towards you because I put myself in a position where I didn’t have an outlet to vent all the frustrations of the situation I had found myself in. I searched for reasons to hate you, and I internalized that hate without realizing it.”

Sodachi stepped out of her puddle and stepped towards us. 

“I thought you were despicable after you told me Yuuki’s story. I thought you were the awful kind of person who’d meddle in everyone else’s business and try to save everyone no matter what. I thought you were the kind of naive person who thought that all it would take is someone reaching out their hand and they could save anyone just like that. I was bitter because I was suffering and you were talking about how you didn’t want anyone to suffer. You said that to my face and it made my blood boil, so I pushed you away and hated you. But deep down, the truth is, I’m jealous. I’m jealous that you want to fight so hard for someone else’s sake. I was envious that you were able to naively act like anyone could be saved when I thought it was impossible for that to happen to me. I was so focused on that jealousy and hate that I didn’t ever consider asking you for help.”

Sodachi reached me before collapsing onto the ground. She reached up weakly and tugged at my pantleg, looking up at me as she started sobbing. 

“H-help me. Help me. Takashiro, I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to suffer anymore.”

Ougi looked over at the windows of the classroom. Although nothing had changed, it definitely seemed like the atmosphere outside had become lighter somehow. 

“Ah, it looks like the room has unlocked itself. Once we all leave, it should cease to exist, so we shouldn’t have to worry about that puddle. Ah, but I still don’t want to get anything on my shoes,” Ougi headed over to one of the windows and opened it, letting in a gust of wind. She then jumped up onto the window sill and looked back at us with a wry smile, “I only came to follow up on a mystery that I failed to solve correctly, so I doubt we’ll see each other again. Farewell, Oikura-senpai, Takashiro-san!”

She then leapt out the window and vanished, leaving me and Sodachi alone in the room together. Sodachi was still bawling her eyes out. This was so far removed from the Oikura Sodachi I had grown to know, but somehow this one felt genuine. Like this was the real Oikura Sodachi, and the one I had known was made up of the walls she had built up for herself after years of suffering. 

I patted her on the head, ruffling her hair gently. Her crying lessened and she looked up at me through puffy eyes.

“Of course I’ll help you,” I replied, “I’ll go eliminate that tsukumogami that’s been causing you a lot of grief. We can figure things out after that.”

I spoke gently, but my blood was boiling recalling the tsukumogami who had bruised Sodachi up like this and caused her so much suffering. Worse still, it was the corpse of her mother, who had used Sodachi’s psychological vulnerabilities to take advantage of her. Clenching my teeth, I hoisted her up into my arms, and she let out a surprised squeak.

First was getting her somewhere safe. Naturally the first place I thought of was the parking-garage where my mentor, Grimoire, was living. Then, after she was safe, I would go to Sodachi’s apartment and confront the cause of all this, the tsukumogami of Sodachi’s mother’s corpse.
 

To Be Continued...

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