I heard quite a bit happened after that, but let’s speed things up a bit.
To start off, Ryouko and I were taken to the infirmary, and after undergoing first aid, I was sent to the hospital. I just had a few scrapes, nothing major. This being my second time, the doctor was grinning. I was released in the evening, I returned home.
The objet d’art on the roof brought with it large repercussions.
The ill deeds of a student. Unforgivable—
While there was immediately a rallying cry to take it down, the art teacher was vehemently against it. Her resistance was so intense, that it just so happened she went as far as to lock herself away beyond the barricade in Ryouko’s place, shifting the problem to thing completely different.
Our art teacher was a member of a certain famous art association, her art-related social circle far wider-reaching than could be anticipated from her gloomy looks. A great many art experts, people with exaggerated titles dropped by the school in hopes of inspecting the temple on the roof. Our principal who had turned off his phone at such an urgent time to make merry with anime pachinko machines would have much of his time occupied dealing with such visitors.
Our art teacher’s faith in the arts, our other teachers’ feelings, the school’s speculations, and the self-interest of the art experts. As a result of all the intermingled intentions, by stated reason of, ‘it seemed like such a good idea’, the fantasy temple at the center of the ruckus really did end up as a sacred inviolable holy land. (Ryouko’s amazing.)
Teachers are those who are supposed to condemn students for unconventional action, and this time was the same. No matter what artistic value it may hold, our school wouldn’t accept it. It should be removed. As truth would have it, that was the narrative being pushed up to just before the decision. The reason it didn’t come to that hinged on the principal’s final verdict.
By the rumors, our negligent principal who had just barely avoided dismissal by ‘some sort of’ political maneuvering had a certain pressure placed on him to not support the remove faction a large majority of our educators sided with. Conclusion: for a while to come, the atmosphere was tense and uneasy among our faculty. Dorisen alone was living his every day to the fullest.
Through all the gloom, repeated inspection recognized the artistic value of the temple, and with demands from the art organization coming in one after the next, those feelings were soon to lift like the mist. The teachers hanged their hand, they had suddenly class changed to Guardians who protected a student’s individual expression. The heck is up with that? We were in a ‘What’s this!? I can feel the teachers’ human power increasing!? This cannot be!’ sort of state. Adults are amazing. Ly dirty.
At present verbose debates were being held over whether to leave it on the roof, or move it to some open plot of land.
It all happened somewhere that was off limits to begin with. Every single student knew that the ruckus that went on right above their heads was someone else’s business.
Inquiries to Ryouko increased. Every time, I would be dragged along. She wasn’t able to talk to adults she didn’t know, and even when she opened her mouth, it was incomprehensible, so an interpreter was necessary. What questions were alright? How far should her answers be editorialized? The decision was often left up to me. It was as if I was Ryouko’s manager.
In any case, it took a few months for the noise to die down, and there’s a continuation to the story of the day of the incident, so I’d like to end this matter with that.
Now as for what happened that evening when I returned home—
First, the three members of my family were waiting at the ready. Oh god, a family meeting.
That was an event that made me the most pitiful. What’s more, for that time, for some reason, Ryouko was to join me, delivered directly from the hospital in the nurse’s new car christened Sylphyria.
While I had changed into my uniform, Ryouko was in the same old cosplay.
naturally, there were quarrels.
My family held an abnormal trauma of me reverting back into a dream soldier. I was finally forced to discard the face of an obedient son in rehab, choosing the command of covering for Ryouko. We argued two hours until finally, my sister took my side. Once that happened, it was anyone’s game.
Those concerned were kicked out, a discussion began between my sister and parents as we were given a loaf of plain white bread, some jam, and driven up to my room. The two of us wearily nibbled on the bread. From the floor below, “Instead of a person who committed a mistake, why can’t you see him as a kid who successfully recovered!? You’re his parents, aren’t you!?” I heard my sister’s impassioned shout in my defense and put my hands together in my heart.
I didn’t know what to talk about with Ryouko.
I loaded up an on-rails shooter on my Wii. We played together. In silence.
When I did my business and returned, Ryouko was brazenly rummaging through the accursed land in which I had sealed my trauma. My closet.
I wrapped my arms around her from behind, putting her in a wrestling lift as I hoisted her up. All of a sudden, she was wildly flailing her legs.
“Ouch, owww, hit my heel… owww!”
A direct impact to my bruise had me collapsed in agony.
“Mn… aah… that…”
What Ryouko held was a single light novel volume.
“Did you not detest these?”
“Rather than detest… I used to like them. But by the time I noticed it, I wasn’t reading them at all anymore. I couldn’t look them in the face. When I liked them so much, I started finding them scary. On the last day of break, I gave myself one final push, and got rid of a lot of them.”
On that day, when I looked at the empty bookshelf, I felt as if I’d discarded my own heart along with it.
“What you have there are the remnants. I left a few adequate ones behind out of a bit of respect.”
“They’re all volume ones.”
“… Ichirou. Why didn’t you discard them?”
“Eh? Well, I don’t know myself, but,”
There was a seriousness to Ryouko’s question. I thought. Flipping open a volume, I put my words together.
“… I intended to become a strong person, probably. Right now, with all the trauma, I can’t look at them straight, but if I get strong, I should settle down. There should come a day when I can give a nice and clear laugh and say, I really was an idiot back then. And then, I’ll buy the continuation all at once. When I’ve become a fine adult, that’s what I’ll do. I want to read light novels with a pleasant look on my face.”
By the time I noticed it, Ryouko was sitting right next to me. As if there were beams radiating from both her eyes, I started heating up from my face.
“I’m sure it’s not the books’ fault. I was just weak. Before you can become cool, I think you need the effort to become normal. I think everyone’s doing their best to act normal. There’s nothing cool about bragging about being a warrior from another world. I probably just hated who I was. Even so, I’d like to be someone decent. Someday.”
I looked straight in Ryouko’s eyes and told her.
“I want to become a decent me. One step at a time.”
Would she have any opposition? Would Ryouko hate that? It wasn’t either.
“… In order to do that?”
“Umm, in order to do that… I’ll fight against reality, how about that?”
“Those words,” came a showy sigh, “I’m tired of hearing them.”
“What else is there?”
“… Your swordsman clothes.”
“Those? It’s a complete rip-off of a character called Sephiroth from an old game.”
What’s more, compared to Ryouko’s cosplay, the detail was remarkably inferior. Not that I was jealous.
By the way, the origin of whoever said Zwei Bander was probably the same. I can tell. The awkwardness of doubling up source material is immense, so I’ll be assertively avoiding that guy alone in times to come.
“In those clothes,”
“Spend a few days.”
“That would kill me.”
“Maryuin Koga ~ A New Enemy~.”
“That’s wrong. It’s Maryuin Koga’s Last Battle. The Last Battle part isn’t a subtitle, it’s a part of the main title. Like to say, that’s the end of it.”
“Maryuin Koga’s Last Battle ~ A New Enemy~.”
“Oh, now we’re getting all Final Fantasy, are we? What even is X-2 supposed to mean?”
“I’m also curious about this Shimizu I never got to meet.”
“Do you have me bugged!?”
Losing her interest, Ryouko returned to the game console.
“Ah, hey, that attitude again… turn this way. Listen, what I’m trying to say is…”
I put my hands on her shoulders. Contrary to my expectations, her upper body easily rotated. As if that had been her intent from the start, her face approached, only a breath away. Aah, this is—
The moment before contact, I definitely heard.
“The swordsman was cool.”
You liar, I tried to say, and failed. There was nothing I could do when my lips were sealed. It was a soothing, sweet—or not, it hurt considerably. My teeth.