The presence I felt from behind is her. Even from the first turn, I can feel her blood lust.
Her voice cuts deep into Hiroki’s heart.
（Why are you here?! How do you know my name?!）
The game of tag between Hiroki and Shiori has begun.
Hiroki, who knew the school corridors well, started running without getting lost.
She jumped out of the window that led to the courtyard, jumped into the window that led to the science room, climbed the fire escape and stepped out onto the wide veranda that led to the music room. Hiroki kept running, desperate to get away from her.
It was truly horrific.
After initially escaping Hiroki started hearing an unknown sound. Hiroki looked around. This is the fourth floor, a large veranda with a view of the sky. There was no sign of her.
But the sound of the concrete being crushed was real.
And Hiroki saw her. He saw her sprinting down the wall of the other school building to his right. She defied gravity and came towards Hiroki, while gouging out the concrete.
Hiroki’s mental state was over the limit.
I was so terrified that I couldn’t make a normal decision, so I kicked off the balcony and launched myself into the air.
I was on the fourth floor. If I fell to the ground, I would die.
(Just what are you doing?!)
In front of Shiori’s eyes, Hiroki had launched himself into the air. There were no buildings or anything beyond that. The only thing that existed was the road outside the premises.
(Will he land by strengthening the body? Or land by ability? Or will he fly?)
I tried to anticipate Hiroki’s next move. But I am unable to figure out an answer. Hiroki is such an unknown entity.
But I was even more convinced. No ordinary man would jump from there. He is definitely someone with combat power.
(I can’t see him!)
As he jumped down, his figure was obscured by the growing trees and the concrete barricade surrounding the site.
Shiori heads towards the road where Hiroki disappeared by wall-running.
The motorbike was going as fast as it could go. Hiroki, who has scratches on his face, is riding on a motorbike driven by Saiki.
「Nice! Saiki! I knew it! If I was a woman, I’d be in love with you!」
「I think you’re losing it.」
Hiroki was stressed out, having been saved from the fear of death.
He jumped to the ground, which happened to be a rubbish collection point. The pile of rubbish bags collected in the area absorbed the impact and he was only slightly injured.
And by chance, he ran into Saiki on his motorbike who gave him a lift on the back.
「Well, I guess we’re going to the arcade!」
「Yeah! Anywhere is fine! Anywhere that’s far away from the school!」
The sound of a motorbike engine sounds like an angel’s song.
Hiroki is now brimming with salvation.
（Where have you gone!）
Hiroki was nowhere to be seen where Shiori had landed.
(There is no sign of him! Not even a single trace! Why?!)
There weren’t any traces left behind at the rubbish collection points as they were thrown about in a mess in the first place.
It is as though Hiroki had disappeared.
（Should I head to Hiroki’s house now? No…If I were to be rejected there, I don’t know what’s going to come. If I report this to the combat school, it will destroy the plan of transfering Hiroki to the combat school.）
My own blunder has tightened the noose on my neck. There is absolutely no way Hiroki is not getting transferred. Shiori desperately thinks of her next plan to avoid the worst possible outcome.
「Not yet Not yet〜」
「Kuu, I lost again」
Hiroki licked his lips when he saw the losing decision on the screen. Hiroki and Saiki were playing a racing game. And Hiroki lost four times in a row.
「No more racing! Let’s play another game!」
「Oh-ho? A sore loser? Well, it’s all right. 」
Hiroki is desperate to make Saiki suffer the bitterness of defeat as he boasts about the scoreline. The two men get up from the racing game and stroll to another one.
「Is it alright to ask you something now?」
「What is it?」
As they walk, Saiki asks Hiroki a question.
「About your relationship with Himeji Shiori.」
As soon as he asked the question, Hiroki froze. He is not sure what to make of it. At this, Saiki grinned wickedly.
「Hirokiiiiiii! That idol has something to do with you, doesn’t she?」
「Hey, hey, hey, hey! Why don’t you tell me? I’m so curious!〜」
Saiki encourages Hiroki. However, Hiroki stubbornly keeps his mouth shut. If Hiroki tells him, he might find out about the 100 million yen. He’s not going to tell Saiki about the bank.
「At that time, who picked you up on a motorbike?」
「What would have happened to you if I hadn’t given you a lift?？」
Saiki continues to pester Hiroki on his gratitude. Hiroki still keeps his mouth shut and devotes himself to keeping his secret to himself.
However, it is still true that Saiki helped him. Hiroki decided to tell him only part of the story.
「We met recently.」
「At the bank.」
I was concerned about the pause when I was about to mention the name of the bank, but I decided to end it there.
（Hmm, you’ve become quite frank.）
Saiki was no longer pressing for answers. Hiroki was a little concerned, but he didn’t care as long as he could protect his 100 million.
Before the conversation reverts back, Hiroki glances at the game table in order to find a new topic.
「Hey, you wanna play the UFO Catcher?」
「Oh, sounds great!」
Saiki accepts the proposal. The two of them look at the prizes in the UFO catcher. At the back of the glass panel sits a stuffed animal that resembles a cat fairy. It is a good enough prize that even men would want to try to win it.
「So, let’s give it a try.」
Hiroki placed 100 yen into the slot and music started playing from the game table.
「Hiroki, isn’t this the kind of thing women want?」
「I don’t care. It’s all about winning it.」
「If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me.」
The way Saiki looked at me, was as though he was looking at something strange. The size of the stuffed animal is a bit large. Hence, the difficulty is considerably high.
（Never doubt my skill~）
Hiroki felt like he had received a challenge from Saiki. The level of difficulty is high and that’s what made it so exciting. Because of his earlier defeat, Hiroki gives Saiki a declaration of victory.
「I will show you that I can get this for 400 yen.」
「Eh, it’s impossible. It’s big and heavy so it will take more than 15 tries.」
A confident ‘humph’ comes out of Hiroki’s nose. He decided that if he wins this,his losing streak will be cancelled.
The first time, the arm is brought directly above the stuffed animal. The arm pinches the stuffed animal, but before it can be lifted, the arm comes off.
The second time, the arm is brought up behind the stuffed animal. The arm rubs the stuffed toy and the toy turns slightly upwards.
For the third time, bring the arm up so that the tip of the arm touches the upturned head of the toy. As soon as it is lowered, the head is squeezed downwards and the sitting cat lies down on its side.
「It’s impossible. This is an arm that shifts the stuffed animal little by little and drops it down a hole.」
Saiki advises him on the correct way to get the prize, but Hiroki doesn’t listen.
For the fourth time, bring the arm slightly to the right side of the cat. The arm is hooked onto the loop of the product label, which is now visible as it lies down. The stuffed animal rises effortlessly and falls into the hole as if it had been sucked in.
Hiroki started explaining his train of thoughts to a dumbfounded Saiki. He takes a stuffed animal out of the receiving slot and shows it off with one hand while explaining the procedure for taking the stuffed animal.
「The first time you check the strength of the arm. The second and third times you roll the cat over and let the label come out. The fourth time you put the arm through the loop of the label and that’s it.」
While Hiroki was explaining, Saiki was staring at the stuffed animal. It’s as though he was unhappy that Hiroki won it. Hiroki thought about it and pushed the stuffed animal to Saiki.
「Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on.」
Every time the stuffed animal is pressed against Saiki’s chest, the fabric and cotton make a funny sound.
「I have done it.」
「Eh, but this…」
「This is to break my losing streak.」
「Oh, ……, does this mean you win?」
「Oh, yeah! Yes! I win! That’s it!」
Hiroki abruptly cut off the conversation. He was disgusted by the backward look coming from Saiki.
(What’s wrong with you!)
Saiki holds the stuffed animal in both hands and stares into its eyes. Hiroki is suspicious, wondering if he liked cats or if he has some kind of attachment to them.
「You know, I don’t like this atmosphere.」
「Oh… oh! I’ve just remembered that I have to do something!」
「What? What’s up with that?」
「Sorry! I’ll make it up to you! See you!」
Saiki starts to run and disappears into the door of the building. Hiroki is the only one left in the room.
(Well. it’s fine. I guess that’s thanks for the ride.)
The sound came from Hiroki’s stomach. Touching his stomach with his hands, he remembered what had happened at the school.
（Running to such an extent in school, I will definitely lose weight. Although it’s still a little early, let’s go for dinner. ）
Hiroki walked out of the arcade and headed to the noodle shop he frequented.
(Where is he……)
Shiori is walking with tears in her eyes. There was no sign that Hiroki had returned to his house. She could see that he was still outside and was desperately looking for him.
(It has been 2 hours)
Shiori looked at her watch. The time was around six o’clock. The setting sun was setting and the sky was turning night blue.
A cute rumbling sound came out of Shirori’s stomach. She had been searching for Hiroki for the past 2 hours. It’s a no brainer that she needs food.
(Food, Hiroki, Food, Hiroki, Food Hiroki)
Her mind is on the verge of collapse as she continues to mumble on the things she wants.
My footsteps led me to the shopping street, and a particular smell led me to a noodle shop with an exterior that claimed to be black.
Although I have come so far when I should really be looking for Hiroki. Even a second is too much to spare and it is not the time to be having a meal for I want to find Hiroki as quickly as possible. But my body is just too honest.
I rubbed my reddened eyes and opened the door.
(I usually order miso ramen, but I’m sure today’s ramen will taste salty)
Shiroi opens the sliding door and enters.
「Welcome! Please take a seat! 」
The shopkeeper’s voice reaches her ears.
Shiori chose a counter seat appropriately. It was her first time at a ramen shop. You can’t even order without looking at the menu.
(I can’t read…)
I look at the menu list on the table, but my vision is blurred and I can’t read it, probably due to the tears in my eyes from earlier, and I let out a small moan.
「If you want, I can order for you?」
Shiori opened her eyes to the limit. That voice, that face, that figure.
The person sitting next to her was the one she had been desperately searching for just a moment ago.
TL Note: マタタビ refers to silver vine which is similar to catnip and will elicit euphoric response in cats