"...... Good, I wasn't just imagining it. Then, this is goodbye. You shouldn't be following me anymore."
"Huh? I'm not really following you or anything."
"I simply have something to do in the park. I don't know where you are going, Tohno-kun, but if you're not going to the park, then this is where we say goodbye."
Certainly, I don't really have the right to say anything about that.
I don't have the right, but---
"Look, just don't go! Arcueid is in the park!
You know how she detests you, right? So I can't let the two of you meet!"
"Oh? Are you worried about me?"
"Of course, I don't want to see the two of you fight. I'm begging you, please just go back!"
"What does that vampire hussy have that I don't, huh?!"
"...... Senpai. Don't tell me, you're still carrying a grudge from this morning......?"
She just smiles and doesn't say anything.
...... She's angry.
That face is unmistakably carrying a grudge.
"...... I get it, everything this morning was completely my fault. I'm sorry.
"If you tell me to go back because of that, I'll beat you down Tohno-kun."
"Tohno-kun. We're still fighting right now. It seems I'm still angry, so it isn't easy to just talk calmly."
"If you went back, we could make up, but I know that's impossible.
So this conversation is meaningless.
There is no need for you to apologize. I'm not concerned with what happened this morning."
She looks at me with those eyes devoid of any emotion.
"Wait a minute. Why are you so angry, Senpai!?"
"---I'm not angry. How about yourself? If you come with me, won't she misunderstand things?"
"Don't you like her? Then, I don't think you should be with me, someone who is her enemy."
"Wha...... it's not like I like her......"
Christ, can you stop being a whiny teenager for 12 seconds on this path?
I can't say for sure though.
I don't know for sure what I truly feel, but I'm sure I am attracted to her.
I guess that was too much to ask.
"But, it really is better if we separate here. We are no longer friends, and if Arcueid were to see us---"
"Hm? What would happen, Ciel?"
Music: play track 6
We both turn around towards the voice behind us. There we see---Arcueid, who seems to be in a particularly bad mood.
"How surprising. I came because I heard Shiki's voice and I find you here.
Didn't we already share our information yesterday? I don't believe you have anything to do with me anymore."
"Yes, I don't have anything to do with you anymore. I was just pointing things out to him."
Rrrrrr... rrrraoowww..... hsssssst.
The situation is critical between the two of them.
As the one standing between them, I can't just watch.
...... Looking at this problem, our relative locations are Senpai, me, then Arcueid.
And if the two of them fight, I would be right in the middle of it.
"You two, why are you glaring at each other? Your goal is the same, so calm down and......"
"Be quiet Shiki!"
"Please be quiet Tohno-kun!"
...... I failed.
I tried to talk to them but it doesn't seem to have worked.
"--Fine. Shiki seems to care for you, so I will let you go.
I won't attack you so just disappear."
"...... That's surprising. Is he that important to you?
I didn't think Arcueid Brunestud could be concerned with anything other than killing vampires."
"For you, controlling humans comes easily.
It would be better for you to just make him your servant if you wanted help, Arcueid, but why haven't you done that?"
"---Don't joke about such things. Shiki is my partner.
Even if I don't do that, he still says he will help me."
Arcueid looks away uneasily.
That murderous intent seems to have disappeared.
"...... I see. I was surprised you were interested in humans, but that does not really matter.
If you desire the blood of humans, then there is only one thing to do."
Cling. The sound springs forth from her hand.
Numerous swords, like long nails, are there.
"...... Hey, Senpai......!?"
"Tohno-kun, please back away.
Just now, I have confirmed that she truly is a vampire. Even if she is a True Ancestor that cooperates with the Church, once she desires blood, she becomes our enemy.
Before any victims appear, I will terminate her here."
fffffstt.... rrrreearrroowowwww!! rrrrrrrRRRRRRRRR!!
The air feels like it is freezing, and I can hardly breathe.
---This isn't good.
They really will kill each other like this.
"...... Wait you two, please. I said to calm down......!"
Ignoring the tension in the air, I yell out.
For an instant, they both stop.
After that, the sound of two feet kicking the earth.
---My shout must have triggered the start.
The white and black figures crash into each other as if they were two magnets of opposite polarity.
"...they BOTH have cool boots."
It's not like Senpai moves with Arcueid's amazing speed.
But she accurately deflects Arcueid's blazing attacks while standing on the ground.
As a third person looking on, their strengths are equal.
However, just like Senpai said, Arcueid's power seems limitless.
No matter how amazing Senpai is, her power is not something that goes beyond a certain point.
In contrast, Arcueid seems limitless.
In the beginning, Senpai was overwhelming her, but Arcueid matches her quickly and is now easily surpassing her powers---
Senpai lets out a cry and stands up.
But that is a useless thing to do.
Senpai's body seems to be shot out by an invisible cannon and flies into the air once more, and hits the ground.
She lies there, not moving.
Blood flows along the park's brick pathway.
There's no response.
She seems unconscious.
Arcueid runs towards her----without any mercy, with terrible eyes seemingly bent on slicing Senpai's neck.
I can't speak.
There can be no mistake that Arcueid intends to kill her.
And Senpai can't defend herself.
"---Stop it, you stupid idiot......!"
I frantically run towards Senpai. Arcueid suddenly stops in front of her.
"Why? How come you're protecting her......!?"
"...... Didn't I say it earlier? Senpai is a very dear person to me. Even if it's you---I won't allow you to go on."
I tighten the grip on the knife in my pocket and glare at Arcueid.
"...... Shiki, you---"
Her eyes are bathed again with hostility.
"Step aside and I'll forgive you this time.
Now. Stop defending her and don't wield that knife against me."
Her crimson eyes waver like burning candles.
Her intent to kill is about to be directed towards me instead of Senpai.
My mind is warning me that it's over if I don't step aside at once.
But, even still---
"----No, I don't kill humans.
But I honor those who surpass human capacity. So I don't mind killing them as something that is my equal.
Such as you, or that woman right there."
Arcueid comes closer.
"I see---you're wielding that knife against me again."
She draws closer.
"I forgave you the first time. But I don't think I can forgive you the second time. ...... In the first place, I don't think I can be hurt with your knife.
Even with your Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, you shouldn't be able to see my death right now."
From directly in front of me,
her golden eyes enter my vision.
Arcueid is in the perfect position to kill me.
If that arm moves, she can rip off my neck before I could use my knife.
Even still---this is wrong.
"...... Why, I just don't understand, Arcueid. Why are you such a horrible person only to Senpai?
I know you're not the most aware of moral principles, but you're not one to speak about killing people so easily......!"
Arcueid's hostility starts to lessen.
She walks away from the both of us.
"I see. If you support her this much, then I don't know you."
"Just be careful, Shiki.
That woman you are protecting, she isn't the person you think she is."
"What---what are you saying?"
"Hmph. You can be tricked and get your blood sucked by her.
So long! Don't come crying back to me!"
Arcueid walks away without even looking back.
The only ones left are me and the wounded, collapsed Senpai.
Because that isn't possible.
Senpai walks around during the day.
Well, Arcueid is a vampire that walks around at daytime, but even she gets weak then.
But for Senpai, she doesn't change whether it's night or day.
First of all, isn't Senpai a member of the Church?
It's contradicting for a vampire to be in an organization whose purpose is to terminate vampires.
"----! More importantly, Senpai!"
I turn around to check on Senpai.
The ground was soaked in blood , so I have to get her to a hospital.........
Music: play track 8
The blood---has disappeared.
Her black robes that were painted red with flowing blood are now spotless.
"Senpai--what is going on?"
"...... Tohno-kun. Why did you protect me? Didn't you know she really almost killed you?"
Her eyes have no emotion whatsoever.
With those vacant eyes, like a lifeless doll, she doesn't even hear my question.
"You ask why? Because you were going to die. Anyone would do the same thing in that situation."
"Even if it means getting yourself killed? Tohno-kun, dedication isn't throwing away your life.
Giving up your life to save others isn't dedication or sacrifice, it's just self-love.
Her voice is very stern.
She admonishes me severely.
"You only did that so you would not regret it later. And you are satisfied with just that.
...... To be blunt, it is very troublesome for me.
Idealism is a fine thing, but please don't involve me in your selfish justice."
"Wha---what do you mean? I just didn't want you to die, Senpai......!
Are you, are you saying that's troublesome!? Are you saying it would be alright if Arcueid killed you like that---!?"
"Yes. It is my life, so it has nothing to do with you.
...... It's too miserable being allowed to live because of the mercy of a vampire."
Partly because she rejected me even after I protected her.
But, more than that---
"---That's right. You are someone who tasted death eight years ago. That's why---you can be content with such a simple way of thinking."
Her eyes are completely vacant.
She speaks without looking at me, like she can't even see herself.
"How happy you must be. I cannot say such words."
She steps back as she speaks.
"...... Tohno-kun. What she said before is true."
"Wh...... why are, you, even saying......"
"Like Arcueid said, I cannot be called human.
Didn't you see it, Tohno-kun? All the blood which was spilled disappeared like it was never there."
"It's fine. I am a monster.
I am not a vampire, but my body, it isn't like that of a normal human."
"...... What...... are you saying Senpai? Not a body like a human's? You seem normal to me......!"
"Even if it's like this?"
Senpai slowly takes her sword and places it against her neck.
I don't even have time to stop her.
With a clean sound, it slices into her neck.
I'm trying to be quiet, but I can't just leave that alone. Beautiful? You think that's BEAUTIFUL?!
Captivating my vision, even my whole consciousness, the blood seeps into her black garments.
Underneath her robes,
Senpai's white skin is probably mixed with those beautiful crimson lines---
A drop of blood flies forth and lands on my finger.
It releases me from my momentary captivity and returns me to reality.
Before me is Senpai's blood-soaked figure.
I quickly dash towards her.
"There is no need to panic. See, look at it."
She stops me and points to her neck.
...... The wound is already gone.
And all the blood that was there before has vanished too.
Like a video being rewound, everything returns to the way it was before.
I can't speak.
After seeing that---I'm not crazy enough to tell her that she is still normal.
"...... That's how it is. If I could've helped it, I didn't want for you to know, Tohno-kun."
Senpai gives a sad smile.
don't know what to say.
"...... Just like you said, Tohno-kun.
I was deceiving you this whole time. So it can't be helped if you get angry at me."
But, I can't blame her.
Something like that---even I wanted her to hide it from me forever.
I wanted her...... to stay like the old Senpai.
Even if it was a lie.
Even if it was a lie that could easily be seen through, if she simply said it wasn't so, things would have been fine.
I can't forget her sad face.
Senpai, who was that good of a person,
just an upperclassman at my school,
I didn't want to know she was such a different person.
Her last words.
There's no need to think about what it meant.
I knew about her and I even hurt her. But still, she came to see me.
But, that's all over.
I don't---want to believe that I'll never see her again.
"----No, this isn't happening."
My head doesn't seem to be working.
It's just in shock.
It's so shocked that it can't tell why it's in shock.
I leave the park with my uncertain memories and faltering steps.
This headache is killing me.
More than anything else, without thinking about Senpai, or Arcueid or anything at all. I just want to go to sleep.
Hmm, we haven't ever seen this before.
Chiiirp. Chirp Chirp.
Chiiirp. Chirp Chirp.
Chiiirp. Chirp Chirp.
----So loud, I want to die.
In the clearing, the discarded shells of the cicadas.
As if the sun is right next to me,
the clearing burns with an intense heat.
A hot midsummer day.
As if the entire world became a frying pan.
waa, u, uwaaa.
waa, u, uwaaa.
waa, u, uwaaa.
Or this... and especially not these two images in sequence.
Looking down at him,
my hands are red, just like that child on the ground.
No, that's not it.
are red with the blood of that child.
Music: play track 9
...and then thi- wait, what? This isn't supposed to be here.
Not even knowing words.
Not even aware of her self.
Only treated as a method of killing.
The white woman stained in fresh blood is completely free of injury.
The crimson saturating her dress is only the blood of her enemies.
The only time she is allowed is this brief amount of time after her blood-stained homecomings.
What waits for her after that is only a sleep she cannot wake from herself.
...... The white girl does not even know her fate, and just looks up with distant eyes at the moon.
---I thought, I saw eternity there.
Is it an illusion?
It probably is.
But I don't care.
The fact that her figure has eternally seared into my memory is truly---
Music: play track 2
I'm in my room.
After that---after my separation with Senpai in the park, I must have somehow returned to my room.
I can't forget her face.
Why didn't I say anything back then?
I was still attracted to Arcueid even though I knew she was a vampire.
So even if Senpai was a vampire, I shouldn't have been that surprised.
Yes, Shiki, YOU HAVE TO PICK ONE.
...... I should have laughed.
If I laughed like it was a joke, she probably would have laughed with me like always.
"...... No. I---"
I really wanted her to stay as Senpai.
The uneventful, but peaceful and fun time I spent with Senpai at school was very precious.
But, that's all over.
She will never come to school as Senpai ever again.
I put on my glasses and get out of bed.
It's past eight o'clock in the morning.
It's long past my usual breakfast time, but today is a school holiday.
"Hisui...... isn't here?"
Her familiar figure standing in front of the door like a shadow is missing.
Once again, my light headache returns.
In addition to my new, unfamiliar life at this mansion, the events of the past few days were very stressful.
I let out a deep breath.
I don't know what I should do, but I have a lot of things I have to do.
If I'm worried about Senpai, I can just go to her apartment.
"--Alright. If anything, first comes breakfast."
You can't work on an empty stomach.
Shaking the sleep from my brain and body, I head towards the sitting room.
"Good morning, Shiki-sama."
"...... Yeah, good morning. Sorry for selfishly waking up whenever."
"I am sorry for not being there when you woke up. Please forgive me."
Hisui silently bows her head.
...... After going out last night and not even remembering how I came back to my room, being apologized to like this makes me feel like a horrible person.
"There's no need to apologize, I just woke up whenever I wanted to. It's okay if you want to complain."
Like now, unless she's strict on me, my spirit might waver a bit.
"Ah, it's nothing, don't worry about it. Anyway, I want to eat some breakfast, is it already made?"
"...... Nee-san is outside. If you want to eat breakfast, it is already prepared in the dining room."
"Oh. I'll go eat then. Sorry for interrupting your work."
After saying I'd see her later, I head towards the dining room.
---But, Hisui is Hisui. Why does she have to put a chair here?
What was she thinking in the first place to put a chair where people walk by?
...... The toe I banged on the chair still hurts.
It's an excessive pain.
A pain that would have been never there if the chair was never here.
I was supposed to see Senpai, so why is this suddenly getting in my way?
This chair is an incredible annoyance.
Why is such a thing here?
It never should've been here. If it wasn't here, I never would've stubbed my toe.
I get mad and kick the chair.
As soon as I do that, the toe I kick with hurts even more.
Throb, Throb, Throb.
What a, bothersome, thing.
"Huh? ...... Why am I so out of breath?"
I gasp hungrily for air.
"Shiki-sama---what, are you saying?"
"Eh, what---why are you looking at me like that? Did something happen?"
"...... Shiki-sama, are you saying you do not know what you were doing......?"
"What I was doing? But, I wasn't really doing anything----"
My headache returns.
I shake my head to get rid of it and suddenly realize what lies at my feet.
What lies there are......
the shattered remnants of the chair.
Shiki, I think you've got some anger management issues that you really need to work through.
My heart pounds harder.
That line is amazingly funny to me, only because of
Why? Why did I, do that?
I did think that my toe hurt from running into the chair.
But why did I go that far---why did I get angry over something like that and break it like a kid having a tantrum......?
I step back from the pieces of the chair I just destroyed.
"Shiki-sama, please calm down. Breathing like that is not good for your body."
"I'm fine, leave me alone! I want to be alone, just let me be......!"
I shout that out and run up the stairs.
I passively note that I seem to be running away from her.
"Shiki-sama! Just please do not blast Linkin Park again!"
Craaaaaaaaaaawwling iiiiiiiiiiin my skiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin.....
This pain probably caused my earlier violent behavior.
Having to see "death" so much these past few days is messing up my brain.
First---I need to calm down now.
As long as I keep my glasses on, this headache shouldn't get worse.
"......... What am I doing? ......... I have to go see Senpai...... quickly."
But, if I see her while I'm like this, I'll only hurt her.
I have to calm down.
Quietly. If I just sit here quietly, my headache will go away.
................................. See? It's disappearing.
My room is very quiet.
In this room only with the ticking of the clock, I should be able to calm down quickly.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
............... The ticking of the clock.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
............ Can't you be quiet?
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
With a crash, the clock stops.
Yeah, that's better.
Now I can go see Senpai.
These woooouuuunds they wiiiiiill not heeeeaaaal...
Music: play track 3
Oh. This again.
A bit curious, I follow her from a slight distance.
Where Hisui headed to, there seems to be a small clearing.
"......... There's a clearing there......?"
Tilting my head to the side, I try to remember, but for some reason, my memory is a bit vague.
In the forest of the mansion, I can see a clearing as if the trees were cut there.
---No, "can see" is not quite right.
If you walked by normally, you probably would never notice it.
If Hisui didn't walk there, hidden enough by the surrounding trees as it is, I would never have noticed even if I lived here all my life.
"...... There's a clearing there? ...... If so, we probably did play there as kids."
To say the least, I don't remember ever playing with Akiha in the clearing.
----I feel like I've never, been there, before.
After thinking for a bit, I decide to go into the clearing.
"What's this---just an empty place."
I walk to the middle of the clearing.
This clearing really is just an empty space.
The perfectly level, open ground.
The deep woods enclose the area.
The voice of the cicadas.
And the strong, summer sunshine that feels like it could dissolve------
The wound on my chest starts to hurt.
Like / stabbing.
This pain/ that feels like/ a kitchen knife stabbing my chest.
---I'm getting angry again.
I finally calmed down earlier, but I'm feeling annoyed again.
I have to meet Senpai.
I have to hurry up and meet her and tell her I wouldn't care even if she was a vampire.
..................... but, what is the truth?
Could I honestly say I could smile like I did before with her even if she's a vampire---
Sorry, those are the only Linkin Park lyrics I know... but somehow just doesn't quite cut it anymore.
And looking down at my corpse in surprise,
is my figure as well.
Music: play track 4
---I'm assailed with dizziness.
The impulse called Death.
Music: play track 9
...... Akiha and Hisui are talking.
This is SHIKI's room.
Anybody who wasn't already familiar with the game/anime/story notice the all caps SHIKI last time we saw this scene?
It looks like I am sleeping on the bed.
I planned to say "Yo!" and get out of bed, but I can't move at all.
My chest doesn't hurt anymore, but my body is as heavy as lead.
All I can move are my eyes and mouth.
"Just what in the world were you trying to do, Hisui? You know not to let Shiki go near that place......!"
"Please...... forgive me."
"This can't be solved by apologizing. You were assigned to serve Nii-san to avoid this kind of situation. So what were you doing...!?"
"Picking up pieces of a chair that he smashed to bits in a fit of emo rage."
...... I'm not sure how this all came about.
But I can at least tell Hisui is being yelled at because of me.
"Answer me, Hisui. What were you doing and where were you all day long?"
Hisui doesn't answer.
The air grows tenser between them.
Biting her lip, Akiha takes a step towards Hisui.
...... Even I understand that Akiha intends to hit her.
Hisui seems to know this as well, but she just stands with her head hung in shame, ready to receive it.
"----Hold on, Akiha."
"Yeah, you were so loud, I woke up."
Akiha looks away uncomfortably.
Hisui still keeps looking down, not even trying to look at me.
God, the only girl he hasn't been pining for suddenly enters his conscience.
"...... Honestly, getting into a fight over me. Even if you look like an adult, you're still a child."
"But... you completely fainted, Nii-san. You were out for more than ten hours, and nothing like this has happened before. If----you never woke up, what would I have done......!?"
"Idiot, don't say things like that. Wasn't this just anemia? ...... Huh? It's ten o'clock already!?"
All the strength drains from my body.
I must have slept that long since then.
I wasn't able to go to Senpai's apartment and just slept the time away.
"...... Man, I haven't passed out this long since elementary school. Oh yeah, I did pass out often back then, since I wasn't used to living at the Arimas and I was stressed out."
Everything is still woozy like I'm still dreaming.
Blanking out, I stare at the ceiling as I remember some of my past.
"...... That is true. It has only been a week since you came back here. Nii-san, you must be exhausted."
"--Yeah. I felt that today."
"Didn't you? So please just rest today. Your health is weaker than most people's, so your body gets tired unless you take a day off sometimes."
She looks at me with a serious expression.
...... Just like she says.
I should just forget everything.
I shouldn't think about Senpai or vampires and just rest, or I'll really tire out.
Going on a rampage like that and smashing that chair, there must be something wrong with me.
And it took passing out for 10 hours to realize that was wrong?
"Hisui, tell Kohaku that Nii-san is awake. Nii-san, what about dinner?"
"...... Oh yeah. No, tell Kohaku-san I'm sorry, but I don't think I can eat right now. I'm just going to go to sleep."
"...... I understand. Then Hisui, tell Kohaku that."
Still looking downcast, Hisui nods and leaves the room.
...... Well then.
Lying down in bed, I start to feel sleepy again. Like this, I bet I could fall asleep in a minute...
---But, before that.
"Akiha. There's a place like that in the garden?"
"Yes. When we were children, we used to play there often."
"Oh. For some reason, I don't remember it well."
...... Yeah. I really did forget all about it.
"And one more thing. ...... It's a weird question, but when we were kids----wasn't there another kid with us?"
She tilts her head, like she doesn't understand what I'm saying.
...... I guess so. There couldn't have been another kid.
That was just a dream.
That clearing. Myself as a child, killed by someone who looked like me. There's something wrong with that.
If that's true, what am I doing here right now?
ANOTHER chapter? When will this update end?!
I don't even know why.
That has long since been worn away.
Here, there is only darkness.
But, I know there is something I have to do.
I don't know why I live.
But I know my purpose.
The chains which held me are all gone.
There is nothing holding me back.
All that's left,
is killing you.
Music: play track 2
It seems I slept until now after Akiha treated me.
My body still feels a little heavy.
But still I feel much better than last night.
Opening my eyes, I get up.
"Good morning. It seems you have awakened, Shiki-sama."
For some reason,
Hisui's reaction annoys me.
"Morning. Breakfast, right? I'll be there soon, so just get out. I'm going to change."
"...... Yes, please excuse me."
No matter how poor of a mood I'm in, letting it out on Hisui like that... there's something wrong with me.
...... She may not be the "Senpai" I want---but she may still be there.
Taking a deep breath, I settle down.
Managing to resist my dizziness, I leave my room.
"...... Yeah, morning. You're up early Akiha."
"I am always up this early but...... Nii, san?"
"...... Are you alright? Your face still looks pale. If you do not feel well, you can stay home---"
"No, I'm fine. I'm better, so you don't need to worry."
I answer her quickly and pass right by.
I head to the dining room since I'll probably collapse if I don't eat.
"See ya. Isn't it about time for school?"
".................. Yes. Then, I will be going now."
Speaking hesitantly, she stands up quietly.
Akiha exits the sitting room.
After watching her go out of the corner of my eye, I enter the dining room.