POINT OF VIEW : HIROAKI KUZNETSOV
“Unyu… nuyuu… yyuuu …“ mumbled Yuki as she was hugging Hime.
“—I really miss you~ Kano~~”
“…Yu….ki…?” asked Kano again.
“Nyu…? Yes?” Yuki looked at us.
“…. That’s… not me….”
“Eh..?…Kano? Is that you?”
“Ha… yes, it is me….”
“Uuwhat? Then who is this?” she then confusingly looked at Hime.
While enduring the urge to laugh, Kano and I watched Hime as she was being a little scaredy cat, stoned solidly.
Thereafter, Kano told,
“That’s Hime… our client…”
“Oopss…!” Yuki quickly released Hime.
“—I thought it was you.”
Yuki immediately hugged Kano.
“—I really miss you~~”
Supporting the sudden hug, Kano responded it with a gentle stroke on the back.
“Wow! You look taller!”
“Just a little.”
“A little?! I see you grew a lot!”
Releasing Kano, Yuki took a peek to the side, towards me.
“Is that you Aki?”
“Yo, Yuki. Long time no see.” I replied.
“You look taller than Kano!”
“Well, it’s in our blood.”
Leaving the lovely reunion between old friends, I approached Hime who was still unaware of the situation.
“Scaredy cat, aren’t you?” I whispered.
She then subsequently recovered the flex on her body.
“—Anyone would be on cautious if they suddenly got hugged from behind!”
“Too bad, as you can see, it’s not a ghost.”
“…..Umm… no, that’s not it. I’m not afraid of ghost, I was shocked when something furry was rubbing against my hair.”
“Oh, do you mean by Yuki’s ears?”
“Seems like it.”
Sighing, she mumbled,
“I feel so embarrassed for screaming out loud like that…”
“Don’t be, it was fun.”
She lightly elbowed in the stomach.
“Tch, you remember this.”
After Kano and Yuki were done greeting, Yuki bowed an apologize to Hime.
“I’m very sorry… to suddenly hug you…”
“No worries…. it’s fine.”
“Really? Well then….. I will formally introduce myself, my name is Yuki…. Alepou Yuki.”
“My name is… for now, call me Hime.”
“Okay Hime. However, it was fun watching your reaction though.”
Clicking her tongue,
Hime tried to elbow me again but I slapped it away.
Don’t get cocky lil girl!
“I really am not satisfied with this.” Hime pouted unhappily, lying her sight on me.
“…Ha… But I apologized…” Yuki worriedly replied.
“Oh, no I don’t mean by you Yuki. I’m talking to Aki!”
“—I won’t get satisfied if I didn’t get to stab you!”
Don’t release your overloaded anger on me!
“Stop it, go take a little rest so we can settle your non-profitable job request as soon as possible.” I asserted.
“—Ask Kano if you don’t know the way around…. Also Kano, don’t forget to close our café. Then, see you guys at the living room.”
I went upstairs without even showing interest to continue the conversation.
“What’s with him?” Hime asked, sensing my peculiar attitude.
Kano put on a tiny smile and answered.
“He’s merely tired…. Let’s show you both around the house.”
Our house is three-storey built residence. The first floor has been stated that it becomes the cafe and the rest stays as our private roof. The total of private rooms available in the house are five, two are placed on 2nd floor and the other three are on 3rd floor. Each floor has 2500 square feet and we have a large bathroom on 2nd floor that eats up almost half of the floor’s area.
The main living room is at 2nd floor, furnished with basic furniture such as sofa, eating table, chairs, air-conditioner, and entertainer like television. It will be our zone for discussion once everyone finishes their business.
Thus while waiting, I took off my vest and laid down on the long sofa.
“I guess… we closed the bar too early…?” I mumbled.
Doesn’t matter, no one’s coming anyway.
I rested my arm on the head and closed my eyes as I tried to take quick nap.
I wish I could have a goodnight sleep instead….
I see wreckage of buildings all over the place.
Boom!!! Peww-----! BOOOMM!!!!!
The sound of bombing and exploding, as well as the vivid light of magic, resonance in my presence.
I also see dead bodies everywhere and ‘another’ Kano that looks younger… she is pointing a gun towards a person who is critically injured.
She pulls the trigger resulting the person to drop dead.
“What’s the matter? Aki…? We haven’t accomplished our mission yet. Don’t just stand there, let’s move on.” She says.
I remain silent, looking around carefully, then I close my eyes.
I woke up.
….All of other things, that particular dream decides to show up?
“Ahh..! I feel so refreshed!” I heard Hime’s voice coming from bathroom.
“—Ohh…! Aki, are you awake?”
I took my breath a few times in, then let it out consequently, trying to grasp the feeling of being awake.
“Haaa….” I lazily answered while looking at the ceiling.
She’s definitely naked right now…
“--Wear a proper clothes before coming here.”
“….Ah wow, you know even though you haven’t laid eyes on me yet?”
“It’s called, man’s instinct.”
“That’s really awesome, that thing you called man’s instinct.”
She then literally took a step closer.
“I DON’T MIND throwing you outside naked.”
“…Ewhh? You really don’t want to see this ‘purrfect’ bodeh?”
“I will make our first playful night where you can feel more embarrassed than you just did moments ago…--Outside.”
Remembered the embarrassment she was bearing,
“For that, I deeply apologize. I will wear clothes now.”
She obediently left the living room.
“You rejected her offer Aki, that’s staggering of you.” Yuki began another conversation.
She was sitting on the single sofa, leaning leisurely while watching the muted TV.
“…Oh…. I didn’t notice you there, since when?”
“Since you fell asleep….”
There was a brief pause as Yuki was changing channels hence and forth.
“--…I heard she’s become your girlfriend recently.”
“That is true…--“
I woke up and sat properly on the sofa, with my hands resting on the respective knees.
“—She just sent a job request and confessed at the same time not long ago the second of your arrival.”
“And you just accepted it?”
“With conditions, certainly.”
“As expected, there’s no way someone can be your partner that easy.”
“Don’t expect too much, I might ditch her sooner or later…. Though, that’s decision is up to Hime herself.”
“Hooo…. Anyway, who is she? Based on treatment you and Kano gave her, it’s very doubtful that Hime is just an ordinary client.”
“She is Shogun’s daughter.”
Hearing that, Yuki’s eyes were widened. However, she decided to stay reticent.
“—Well, she tried to avoid telling us her last name but she herself, didn’t notice that we already knew about it.”
“I see….. so, what is the job request?”
“Finding her little sister.”
“Uh, what? I thought Shogun has only one child?”
“That’s the main thing I want to find out, the reason I accept her free-of-charge request.”
Yuki then was brooding, as her eyes glanced up to the ceiling.
I asked, but unconsciously ignored.
“By the way, where’s Hiku? He merely sent you alone here… I must say that is quite an irresponsible action right there.”
“Bro is around…. He said he got some business to attend to… You’ll get to meet him once he’s done.”
We gathered at the living room with teas and light supper prepared on the table. Once everyone got comfortable, Kano tried to begin the discussion.
“Alright, first of all---“
“FIRST of all---” I interrupted Kano’s gimmick as I laid down on my stomach on the floor.
“—Hey, Ms. Girlfriend, massage my back and shoulders.”
“Huh? Do you mean by me?” asked Hime.
“Is there anyone else here has the status ‘girlfriend’?”
“What are you talking about, Aki?” ranted Kano.
“Well, my little sister….You see… my back and shoulders hurts a lot due to aftereffect of the duel. Also, I can’t somehow continue the discussion when the pain’s still bothering me.”
“I will massage you later, just endu---“
“It’s fine.” Interrupted Hime.
“—I was the one who said that his girlfriend will massage him tonight.”
Letting out a heavy sigh, Kano lost interest.
“Be done quickly then…”
“Alright, alright, we got a greenlight. Go on Hime, do your best.”
“Count on me!”
Hime then stood up, lifting her right leg as high as possible, and BAM!
She smacked right onto my spine.
“—Wha-what the hell are you doing?!”
“Shut up, Mr. Tactless Boyfriend, this kind of treatment suits you very well!”
She kept trampling my back.
It hurts--- it must be the way she tried to get revenge on---!
But no wait, this might be kind of pleasurable, oddly way of massage…!
“Here I come~”
She pressured her heel from my lower spine,
Up to higher spine without breaking contact.
She then repeated the same process to slightly each side of the spine, as the flow of the massage progressed outbound.
“…Ah... crap… you’re actually good….”
“Well, thank you! However, I’m not done yet~”
Next, my rear right shoulder was pressured at a point, curving around and repeated on the other shoulder.
“Cracked* as she was finalizing her strange massage.
“O…oy… I heard a weird crack…”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry, it’s the sign that the massage is being successful!”
I stood up, taking a proper seat and flexibly moved my muscle around.
“—How was it?”
“See? A massage from your girlfriend is what you need!”
To be honest, I can’t really tell. Somehow my body feels light, somehow heavy and hard to move. I’m really confused.
Considering how she sadistically used her feet, I might as well expect such bizarre outcomes.
“I can’t believe you make me and Yuki watch your lovey-dovey comedy…” complained Kano in disgust.
Uwaaahh… I wanna kill myself…
“It reminds me of old times… Hehe…” Added Yuki with a gentle chuckle.
“Whatever… So, Yuki, do you still want to hop in the discussion?”
“I will be working here soon…. Kinda obligated to join. If you guys prefer me not to, I may also walk away.”
“Nah, you can stay. You are our friend after all.”
“By the way, this girl—“ I pointed my thumb towards Hime.
“—I’ve decided that she will work with us without pay for a month.”
“Ehhh?! At least proceed me with minimum wages!” Hime frowned.
“Denied, 75 000 yen isn’t easy to obtain ya know.”
“B-but, I am your client…! You can’t have your client work in your stead!”
“Client who doesn’t pay and still has debt to us. I really think this isn’t a bad deal.”
“I understand, I’ll kneel down and beg then!”
“Stop it, don’t waste any more time.”
Just how much you want to avoid working, you damn wit!?
“HIME!” Kano intrusively reproved.
“—It’s almost THREE IN THE MORNING. HUMANs need to sleep to detoxify their body and be ready for the next day…. UNLESS, you are not human so I can P-E-R-S-O-N-A-L-L-Y deny your sleep cycle for days since we are taking day off tomorrow…. I’m sure to CAREFULLY, PRECISELY and ATTENTIVELY take care of you.”
“I am very sorry and humbly apologize!”
Approaching me cautiously, Hime whispered,
“My future sister-in-law sure is scary. Is she always like this? It seems like a different person from the girl I first met.”
“No, not really. She’s being unusually aggressive only to you.”
“Hime.” Called Kano again.
“Do you mind lending me Maihime for a moment?”
“I don’t mind… but what are you going to do with it?”
Hime took the katana and handed it over to Kano.
“Running some checking.”
“Excalibur holds colossal amount of destructive power, crossing path with it won’t leave Maihime unscratched even if it is a genuine legendary weapon. Therefore, I’m going to do some repairs if found.”
“Ohhh…! How is that possible?” asked Hime, enthralled by Kano’s words.
Touching softly on the blade, Kano closed her eyes.
“My Innate Ability: Tuning, allows me to understand the structural particles arrangement of the object I touch, such as materials used along with its working mechanisms, and rearrange the elements to its original position or the way I desire.”
“….Tuning…..” whispered Kano.
A moment of respectful silence rejoiced….
“Hm.” Kano nodded.
“—There was a tiny cleft.”
“Your ability is impressive! Does this mean, you can fix anything?!” complimented Hime, intriguingly.
“Yes…. Well… it’s not so useful in battlefield though.”
“But you can use it for something else for example… Umm…. That’s right, a workshop…? Oh! That’s why you both open a workshop nearby! So, you can exploit people’s money with the ability?!”
“Idiot.” I said.
“—We are not such scum. We do merely because we like it. Also, balance is important, an equity to the economy.”
“Umm… I don’t understand… What’s wrong with using your ability in your business? The world fills with supernatural power, it doesn’t seem fit.”
“…..We…..We…. just…. Feel… like….doing… it….” My voice lowered for each word spoken.
We are trying our best to live a normal life, at the same time, we can go rampage to fulfil our client’s request. In other words, we keep forward in present, without forgetting the past.
“—Don’t mind it, you thick head may not be able to comprehend this.”
“What…?! You called m--- Arr… “
Hime paused, as if something else took priority in her head.
“—I’ve been wanting to ask this… Seeing you casually wielding the Excalibur, are you King Arthur?”
“I am extremely curious right now… I mean come on, we are lovers right? There’s nothing to hide from each other.”
“I told you I am not King Arthur, by any means.”
“But how? ….Were you able to use Excalibur?”
“That Excalibur is fa—Never mind.”
“Anyway, talking about hiding… aren’t you talking to yourself too… Hime?”
She instantly froze, gulping tight-lipped.
Seeing her in trouble, my weird urge to tease arisen.
“Let me rephrase that… uhum…” I cleared my throat.
“—Come on, we are lovers right? There’s nothing to hide from each other. If you spit out the truth, I will tell you about the Excalibur…. You want to know right?”
Hime’s cheek turned scarlet, as she stuttered to speak,
“—Hmph! I…I really do-don’t have anything to say….!”
“You are really bad at lying or even hiding things… Hehe…” added Yuki.
“—We already knew that you are—“
Before Yuki managed to continue, Kano quickly grabbed her mouth.
Kano glared intensely at Yuki as if she was wordlessly telling her to stay put.
“Hmm?” asked Hime.
“It was nothing.” I said.
“—So, what’s your answer? Are you going tell the truth or keep being ignorant regarding the subject?”
Being reverted to the main subject, Hime been doleful.
“….I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I see, I believe you have your own reasons.”
“Um.” She simply nodded.
“Okay then, let’s go back to the main topic. Finding Hime’s little sister! To be called, finding Hime #2!”
“Puff!” Hime burst out a gentle laugh.
“—What’s with that senseless name.”
“You told us her name is also Hime. I don’t want to bring confusion of which Hime we are searching in the discussion.”
“Koihime.” She stated.
“—That’s my name. And my little sister’s name is Ichihime.”
“I understand, let’s start with everything you know. For example, when did Ichihime go missing, where and how? For better analysis, you should tell it as detailed as possible.”
“Umm… She hadn’t coming home starting March 16, which is last Thursday… And also…. Probably around wee hour on March 17…”
Hmm? Why would you tell the time she was missing if she merely hadn’t returned home….
“—Also… My best guess is she got kidnapped by a group of Mafia….” She added.
“Why did you think so?”
“There’s a report saying people in black lurking around for weeks around our area.”
“And I suspect the guys who were in the café last night involved in kidnapping Ichihime!”
“That’s not true.”
“Why? Are you covering those bad guys?”
“No, your accusation is completely baseless. They don’t have time to do kidnapping since few of their people were also missing… In other words, they are busy finding instead.”
“—Is Ichihime a Human like you too?”
“Yes, she is.”
“Is she good with magic?”
“I’m not sure since I’ve never seen her casting any.”
“I guess she’s also a close-combat type like you….? If she hardly uses magic.”
“That is right but…. how do you confirm that?”
“Maihime is created as twin-katana for dual-wield user. I see you’re holding only one and the other Maihime must be in the hand you trust…. The one I can come out with is only your sister.”
Just a speculation though.
“…Wow…. You sure know a lot about Maihime….”
“Just instincts, I felt odd when I told you that your katana is the legendary weapon, Maihime and you didn’t even deny it. It must be true.”
“—But It’s strange.”
“What is?” Hime asked.
“Like Aki said.” Kano continued.
“—There’s kidnapping been going on lately. However, it all refers to Elves and Ichihime isn’t an Elf… That just doesn’t follow up whether your case is connected or not.”
“Unless!” Yuki added.
“—We found ourselves a very rare case in which Ichihime is secretly an Elf that even her family doesn’t know.”
“Nop, Ichihime is really a Human, I guarantee that particular fact.” said Hime.
“The eccentricity will be added once I ask you this again,” I said
“… Huh.. what is it?”
“Was Ichihime really got kidnapped?”
“Wh-why the serious face! I-I to-told you she was kidnapped!”
There goes your blatant lie again.
“Is that so.”
I stood up, stretching my back left and right.
“—I will go to my bedroom and sleep.”
“Ehh? We’re already done?” asked Hime in surprise.
“At this rate, we are going nowhere since there’s no more clue for us to seek. Let me teach you so you can be my ideal girlfriend. Don’t ever waste your time when you reach dead-end, --find another path.”
Not to mention, thanks to you too for being sly, heavy-lipped little girl.
“—And also, I want to teach you about work. Kano, we are opening the bar tomorrow. We have to keep contact with the underground for more info.
“Well then, goodnight girls….yyyaaaawnn…”
Being allured by my desire to sleep, I straightaway went into my bedroom and fell on my bed.
Ah… nothing beats the comfy of your own bed.
Soon, darkness overrode my vision.
Chirp* Chirp* Chirp*
I felt the morning sun was torching my skin, hearing the bird’s lullaby. I blinked, shut my eyes, and blinked again. The first thing I saw, as usual… the ceiling. But…
Ugh… I feel unusually heavy on the stomach.
“Nom… nom… nom…” I heard a girl’s voice rabling.
I looked downward, just to find out that Hime was comfortably sleeping on me, enveloped under a blanket.
“Why…?” I whispered.
Hearing my morning hoarse voice, Hime woke up, clearing her eye boogers with her tiny finger, and she said,
“Ah… Good morning Aki…Aaahhhh…” as she yawned.
“You’re heavy, get off me.”
“..A… the first words of the day you have to say was that…? Not being some bashfully excited boy?”
“Sorry to disappoint your expectation but I’m not that kind of guy. You could have slept anywhere in the house, but… you decided to land your pounds on me?”
“I..*yaawnnn*…” while still half-asleep, she tried to answer.
“—I had no choice… Kano senpai’s room was full with Yuki and uppermost floor’s room are empty. The only bed available was here… You were eating up the spaces…Forcing me to sleep on you… --It looked cozy too.”
How does sleeping on someone, look cozy?!
“There’s always a sofa.”
“I don’t want that! It’ll hurt my back if I were to sleep there.”
I cloaked her with the blanket, gently pushing her aside and got away from the bed.
“Omff… mff…! “
“—Ahh…!” her head popped out from a hole of the wrapped blanket.
“--..Aww…I really have an extraordinary boyfriend. He doesn’t appreciate having a nice girlfriend, doesn’t get excited sleeping together with his girl… I hope Uhhh?!… but you can’t be…?! G…?
I opened the closet, picking up my workshop uniform,
“If you continue talking, I will cut your tongue and slice your throat.”
And wore it.
“Ceehhh…” she pouted.
“If anyone’s finding me, I’ll be at the workshop.”
Leaving Hime still lingering on my private bed, I went to the workshop from inside. Then, I opened the rolling shutters in half, indicating that I was not opening it for service.
There was a 2018 Ford Mustang lying asleep in the garage.
The Mustang had problems with the engine harness, suspected a failed quality control on internal wiring connections. The spare part, was arrived two weeks ago but I didn’t have the chance to assemble it.
I finally have the free time, it’s time to fix the ride!
As I assembled all the components, two Corolla came. One of them parked along the street while the other was casually reversing towards the workshop.
Noticing it, I shouted.
“I’m sorry! We are closed today!”
My announcement was ignored until the car was parked really close to me. Then, a person in mid-30 exited the car.
Open-handed behind his back, he awkwardly said,
“I’m sorry, my car is having major problems. I have to drive it by tomorrow…”
Blending in the situation intentionally, he approached me and whispered from the side without changing his proportion.
“It’s a job request from boss.”
“Wolf… huh?” I replied in same manner.
“The goods are in the trunk and we are leaving it in your care.”
“3 million and info…--Elves.”
“I'm not sure I understand that.”
“4 million and the info.”
“Now you’re talking my language.”