(AN1: Happy July 4th Everyone)
(AN2: When Hayate addresses her parents, she is actually using Haha-ue and Chichi-ue but I’m leaving it as Mother and Father respectively for easier reading. And for future chapters reasons.)
She choked a scream at the sight of Hayate standing there covered in blood. The image of a beautiful girl covered in blood while acting like nothing was wrong had frightened her suddenly. Kyosuke looked concerned, his gaze said an unsaid question.
“It is alright, father. The blood is not mine.”
At her answer, he calmed down, although his expression barely changed. He then aimed a disapproving glare at the object in Hayate’s hand. The katana was most likely covered in blood as well. It was difficult to tell due to it being colored black.
“I am sorry, father. The demons were more numerous and larger this time. The hunt was a bit more chaotic than I had expected.”
He simply nodded, and stood up to then leave the room. He quickly took the katana that Hayate gave to him. He gave one glance in her direction to which she simply bowed in response.
“Yes, father. I will use a backup weapon for the time being.”
Kyosuke left the room quietly without another word. It was hard to tell whether that was a standard conversation between them. Or she was able to understand her father’s intentions with a glance. Only one person in this room knew the real answer to this.
Hayate turned towards her mother. Quietly went on both her knees and bowed respectfully.
“Mother, the hunt is completed. The numbers and varieties are increasing more than expected. I would like to request the DHCA to mobilize more support personnel to our area. The number of incidences is increasing. I fear there is something sinister at work behind this.”
“Very well, Hayate. I’ll take care of it. Now a girl like you should take better care of yourself than that. Go take a bath. Take her with you.”
“B-But mother. She is…”
“Take her with you. Or do you wish for that?”
“N-No…I understand, mother.”
Hayate quietly sighed as she looked in Chiaki’s direction.
“Please come with me.”
The two stood up and quietly left the room, heading towards the bath in the mansion. Quietly they walked together, not a single word was exchanged. As they reached the changing rooms, Hayate stopped before them, quietly sighing in resignation and entered the women’s changing room. This behavior that Chiaki saw made her interested about what was going on. The two quietly changed, Chiaki’s gaze looked at the other girl in curiosity. Seeing the top removed, there was a sarashi style binding covering the other girl’s chest. It was her first time seeing one in person.
In terms of rate, Hayate was undressing much slower than Chiaki. And the whole time, she kept her back towards the other girl as if she did not want to see. There was a visible blush that could be seen on her face. She also looked very reluctant in changing with another person around. Seeing that, Chiaki decided to quickly finish changing to give Hayate some privacy.
“Uh, I’ll go in first.”
Only dressed in a large bath towel, Chiaki entered the large bath first. Surprised at the luxurious and very large bath. She looked around excitedly at the various features.
Meanwhile, Hayate quietly sighed in relief, she looked down at her chest and the sarashi binding had blood soaked into it as well. She could not use it again. Undressing much more quickly, she covered herself quickly with a towel and threw away all her clothes into the trash.
Being covered in demon’s blood, it had to be burned. She regretted leaving a trail of blood drips everywhere now. She worried about how much work was going to be done in cleaning it all up. Especially the car she rode in on the way here.
Although she herself liked to bathe, she didn’t want to do it with the girl who was in there now. There were certain reasons why she didn’t want to. Quietly she entered and saw other girl naked and already cleaning herself. It looked like she had only just started a moment ago.
I thought she was done already! Why is she not done already?! Why did you do this to me, mother?! She mentally screamed her thoughts as she quickly escaped to a different bathing station that faced a different direction. Her blushing cheeks turned redder as she began cleaning herself. Though the cleaning looked like something out of a murder mystery, since the water and soap bubbles was turning pink to almost red. Due to this, it would take her a little longer to get fully cleaned.
She heard the sounds of someone entering the bath. She sighed as she finished cleaning herself. Covering herself in a towel before entering the bath, sitting away from the other girl and averted her gaze away.
For a long time, there was nothing but silence between the two. To Chiaki, this was too quiet, she couldn’t deal with it.
“S-Say, Kanzaki-san. Um, I was told about what your family does.”
Although she attempted to break the ice, the other girl still kept her gaze where it was.
“I see. Mother told you what our family does. I hope….that does not scare you knowing demons exists.”
“Un, I am afraid knowing those kinds of things exists. But there’s people like you stopping them right? I mean that boy saved me earlier. I want to thank him, do you know who he is?”
“Say, now that I got a good look…you two look alike. Black hair, blue eyes. Are you brother and sister?”
“Is it complicated to talk about?”
“It is a really complicated subject to talk about.”
Another awkward silence descended on the two. Hayate turned her body away some more to not accidentally look. Chiaki didn’t take this treatment well.
“Kanzaki-san, we’re both girls. There’s no reason to be shy. Look this way.”
“Um…I…would rather not.”
“So……you don’t like me then?”
“T-There is no way that is true! I…I am just not used to talking to others my age. It was such a surprise this morning when I first entered the classroom. School is not what I had expected.”
“Yes, it was not…In fact…”
Hayate began confessing her true feelings about her first day at school. She had been really nervous ever since leaving her house towards the school. Because of her training, she was very aware of the various stares she had gotten along the way. Even the introduction during homeroom period was a hurdle she had to somehow overcome. All of what she experienced made her want to hide. However, she was under very oddly specific instructions by her mother.
If she didn’t want to be punished, she had to follow her mother’s instructions exactly. Like some kind of script for something.
She had to show off her academic ability for each class.
She had to show off her physical ability that was not normal.
She had to show that she was different than the others.
These three would form the needed “barrier” that her mother required. If the results were off, punishment would ensue. She desperately tried to adhere to that exact script, not knowing what her mother’s plan was. But it was mostly to avoid the punishment.
Obviously the “barrier” itself was never told to her. Her mother predicted that she would find one of her important people soon if she followed the script. So far today, Hayate had not yet made friends. Most of the those she interacted with had just showered her with admiration and praise in groups around her. No one really talked to her face to face until now.
Until this point in time where two girls were mostly naked together in the bath. And these two were doing what was basically called naked socializing. If it wasn’t for the towels that is.
“So, if there’s something you like about me. Tell me, Kanzaki-san.”
“Um…your….hair. I like the color of your hair. It is such a pretty color.”
Chiaki blinked for a moment. She had not expected that answer at all. For the first time, she found someone who liked her hair color without any sarcasm. Her hair wasn’t dyed, it was natural. She had her share of sarcastic comments about her hair. But this was the first time she’d received such an innocent answer. She gave a cheerful smile, however her eyes were that of a predator.
I want to be friends with her. Now then, if we can get rid of these towels… She thought to herself as she edged closer to Hayate. Her hands at the ready to grab the towel that her eyes locked on to.
She was close enough and then went for it. She grabbed the towel and quickly ripped it away while taking off hers as well.
Hayate gave out that cute scream, and hid herself in the water covering herself. Chiaki easily took the seat next to her, a large smile on her face.
“That’s better. Say Kanzaki-san, don’t you want to be friends?”
Hayate’s face was really red as she lowered her head halfway underwater. Air bubbles floated for a bit. Her eyes closed for a while, she meekly nodded. When her head was out of the water, she tried looking away, but the other girl stuck close to her smiling.
“Okay~, first thing, we’re going to use first names. Okay? Hayate?”
“Do you know mine?”
“I’m Chiaki Nakamura.”
“Come on~, try it.”
Hayate’s face turned red some more. If she turned anymore red she would be a tomato. Such an innocent reaction for simply saying first names.
Slowly but surely, Chiaki was able to get Hayate to open up a bit. Although, she still couldn’t get the girl to look in her direction. The two talked on a few subjects about likes and dislikes. When the subject of books came up, it really made Hayate open up.
While Chiaki liked fantasy novels or books that had knights as the heroes. Hayate’s favorite subject were mystery novels, especially ones that featured the so called hard-boiled detectives. She usually had the most fun reading and trying to solve the mystery alongside the hero detective. As the two continued talking, a smile began blooming on Hayate’s face. The two talked about other subjects and grew a little closer. The power of naked socializing in the bath.
Though this fun time had to come to an end. Chiaki was feeling lightheaded while her friend was alright. The two returned to the changing room. But she noticed something about her basket as there was not her uniform but different clothes.
“Say…Hayate, where are my clothes?”
“I think one of our maids must have looked and noticed something. They must have disposed of them just now.”
“If demon’s blood stays too long there might be consequences. Maybe in the form of a curse. Or demons target you more because of that blood. I am told the results vary depending on the demon that was slain. The maids are under strict orders to burn all clothes. We do have an alternative but that one is limited due to the production method. We cannot use it on a whim.”
“I see. So…what am I going to do about my uniform?”
“Mother probably already knows and will have a replacement ready for you soon.”
“For the time being, please feel free to use the temporary clothes.”
The two were starting to change when Chiaki noticed yet another thing.
“Why is this new underwear the same exact size as my old ones?”
Hayate had a very tired look on her face. The question of what that hobby was, was not asked. Because a woman’s voice was heard through the door after knocking.
“What is it?”
“Hatsuko-sama wishes to speak with you alone. Please come to the main chamber.”
“I understand. Thank you. Wait here to escort our guest.”
She looked concerned about why her mother was calling her. Although she did have an idea what it was.
“Something going on, Hayate?”
“Mother most likely wishes to speak with me alone. I should not be long. Please stay with the maid.”
Hayate quickly changed into a yukata and left the changing room, leaving Chiaki alone.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
When Chiaki finished changing, there was a maid was waiting for her.
“What do you wish to do?”
“Is it possible to get a tour?”
“Yes, that is possible. Please follow me.”
Chiaki followed the maid around the mansion. Since the mansion was of the larger size, it took a while. The maid dutifully showed what each room was and detailed the function. It took a while to tour the interior, and there were also forbidden rooms that couldn’t be entered. Eventually after some time, they reached the dojo. It was currently empty but she could imagine Hayate training here, she even thought about that boy that saved her.
As they started to tour the garden area, there was the sound of water being splashed several times that caught her attention. She asked the maid to lead and the two went to where the sound was coming from. There they saw the boy with long black hair, the hair was loosely tied. He was wearing purification clothes as he quietly poured water on himself. He continued to calmly repeat this several more times. His expression was serene, devoid of emotions on his face.
She stared at the boy, seeing his dark blue eyes, she recognized him as the one that saved her. When he finished, he realized that there were others. He looked at their direction and looked surprised as he stood up.
“W-What are you doing here?”
“I was taking a tour when we heard water so…”
An urge to convey her thoughts pushed her on. She quickly approached him. She gazed into his eyes, hoping he would recognize her.
“I don’t know if you remember me but…Thank you for saving me. I wanted to thank you. Can you tell me your name?”
“…My name is……..Hayate.”
She heard the same name again.
“So you share the same name as Hayate. Was that what she meant by complicated? Is your relationship bad?”
The boy, Hayate looked towards the direction of the maid, hoping to silently plea for help. But that maid that escorted Chiaki was already gone, replaced by another maid who had not been there before. This maid approached and gave him a small letter. He quickly took it and read it, it was a simple statement. It told him to: “Tell the truth to her.”
His expression went through subtle changes. First shock, then slight fear, to frustration and finally resignation. He quietly sighed, not wanting to think about it anymore. The person who wrote the instruction in that letter had never been wrong once.
“The truth is…”
Chiaki wondered what that letter had told him. She innocently looked at him wondering what he was going to say.
He was struggling to say it. He breathed in and out once to calm his nerves.
“…She and I…………..are the same person.”
Her brain didn’t register the statement clearly. She thought she heard him say, the two of them were the same person. She believed there was no way the two could be the same person. Even if they looked very similar, there was no way it was possible.
“That’s a lie right? There’s no way that’s true.”
“You would think that….but…”
There was a soft mysterious glow that formed around his body. And in that instance, he changed from a boy to a girl. The girl, Hayate was standing there in front of her, giving her a meek smile.
“It is true…….Ch-Chiaki.”
If what happened was true, then the girl Hayate, and boy Hayate were the same person. She had just witnessed him changing into a girl. She had taken a bath with the girl Hayate just earlier. Sharing naked socialization with her, getting close and friendly. And that Hayate was always red in the face, refusing to look in her direction.
That would mean…I just shared a bath…….with…..a…..boy…. Her thoughts were broken, but her expression wasn’t. The truth had been thrown at her head on. Her face redden in embarrassment.
Chiaki screamed as loudly as she could as she squatted on the ground.