Etsusa Bridge

Volume 5, Episode 4: Lips x Lips Part 2
  • Prev Chapter
  • Background
    Font family
    Font size
    Line hieght
    Full frame
    No line breaks
  • Next Chapter

Volume 5, Episode 4: Lips x Lips Part 2

The Case of Nazuna Yukimura - 2

The entrance to the theme park.

“Okay, I admit I hit it big at the casino today. But aren’t you kicking me out a couple minutes too soon?” Complained the rainbow-haired man. Nazuna sighed.

“I heard you got into a scuffle with a shady group not too long ago. We can’t have them charging into the casino and causing a scene.”

“It’s fine. They’re chumps; your usual security could hand ‘em their asses on a platter.”

“We’d rather avoid fighting altogether in the casino; one of the employees is the type to attract gunfire, unfortunately.” Nazuna said firmly, the end of her sheath against her shoulder. “And before all that, the boss called you over. …What in the world is going through his mind?”

“What’s he want with me? ‘You’re startin’ to be a real pain in the ass, Inui, gonna sic the Guard Team on you’? Creepy. But it actually sounds interesting, now that I imagine it.”

“If the boss wanted you dead, Carlos would have put a bullet in your skull already.”

“Whoa. Scary.” Inui chuckled. But Nazuna knew well that he was always on guard.

Though Inui seemed simply like a flippant young man, he was a person of interest to the Eastern District. A potential threat who once ruled the Pits.

Nazuna had brought him along after her shift at the casino, but as they approached the theme park office she heard something vaguely familiar.

‘Engines?’

Something squirmed in the pit of her stomach. She fixed her gaze on the office.

The roar of Jun’s chainsaws, and another roar from an unfamiliar engine. And the sounds of shattering glass and something being carved away. Nazuna and Inui both heard it all.

They went around to the side entrance and opened the door, getting a good look at the commotion inside.

Surrounded by the rumbling of three engines, Jun was swinging her chainsaws in a euphoric trance. Gitarin, who was holding a massive cross-shaped chainsaw, was busy trying to avoid the swings under the protection of his two bodyguards.

In the background was Mr. Gen with a veritable armory of grenades on hand. The Guard Team members around him were desperately trying to prevent him from pulling the pins.

“…”

“…”

After a moment’s silence, Inui spoke.

“Looks like they’re having a blast.”

“…Umm… Yeah. It looks like they’ll be busy. I think you can go home for today.” Nazuna said plainly. But Inui was teetering at the doorway, clenching his fists in anticipation.

“Shit! Shoulda come earlier… I have no idea what’s going on now, and that means I can’t jump in in the most entertaining way possible!” He hissed.

Nazuna sighed, ready to tell him to leave—

“Seriously! What. The. Hell? I’ve always dreamed of a scene like this! It’s like the second half of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’! Dammit, now I’m itchin’ for some action… Somebody tell me who I should side with for maximum cool factor!”

Inui was so excited that he was even shaking Nazuna by the shoulders.

“Wh-what?” Nazuna breathed, sensing the stress building up in her head.

Amidst the sound of engines and destruction, she wondered how she should silence the mad dog—

“What’s happening here, I wonder?”

Another voice joined them from behind, turning the air to ice.

“You’re not trying to do something terrible to Miss Nazuna, are you? For example… hitting on her. You couldn’t be trying to do something so awful, right?”

Inui felt a chill run down his spine.

It wasn’t the exhilarating rush of staring down the barrel of Kugi’s gun. It was pure terror.

Realizing the identity of the man behind him, Inui turned with a shrug.

“Is this your girlfriend? Sorry, man.”

‘Wait, he’s not as scary as before.’ Inui thought, inwardly breathing a sigh of relief. But—

“She’s my friend. We’re starting off as friends.”

The sense of relief was instantly shattered by the Killer Ghoul’s gaze.

His eyes were clear, but endlessly dark and deep.

‘Heh. Spoke too soon.’

“Okay, okay. I lose to the power of your friendship. You know what? Your friendly friendship moved me to the point that I think I’m gonna take off like Melos, the symbol of friendship. Although I’m not gonna be back in three days like in the show!”

With a thumbs-up, Inui ran for his life.

A near-death experience from several years ago had flashed through his thoughts.

‘Can’t go dying so soon, now.’

Inui put on a wry grin when he realized that he was enjoying even the terror of death, and at the same time made sure the information in his pocket was still safe and secure.

“Grk… I want to go after him, but right now Miss Nazuna comes first.”

When the dog leapt over the theme park wall and disappeared from sight, the Killer Ghoul flinched and turned back to Nazuna.

“W-w-wait, Miss Nazuna. I know I said ‘right now’, but… I lied. Actually… I always… um…”

“Don’t worry about it. …What are you doing all the way here, anyway? If Zhang catches you, there’s going to be a big commotion.”

“Y-yeah.”

The Killer Ghoul—Yakumo Amagiri—shyly averted his gaze and put on a dark smile.

“Miss Nazuna… Today, you are going to be born anew. Heh heh heh.”

There was a moment of silence. Several seconds passed before Nazuna finally broke the ice.

“…Why do I get the feeling I’m about to be murdered or imprisoned and my hands and feet hacked off?”

“…I think I just messed up.”

“I know. Don’t worry about it.” Nazuna said, having come to understand Yakumo’s personality more in the past few months. “So, what is it?”

Yakumo looked around nervously before handing her an envelope.

“Umm… So. Well… Happy birthday, Miss Nazuna.”

“Huh?”

“I’m giving you a present. A birthday. So your birthday is today… Hmm… Maybe I should have picked a special day instead? I can wait for a day you like, if you want.”

“…”

“So my normal gift is a birthday. And that letter is your birthday gift… It’s complicated, but congratulations.”

At first, Nazuna did not understand.

But she remembered the conversation from the other day. Nazuna recovered from her surprise and held up the envelope.

“Can I open it?”

“Sure.”

Yakumo nodded. Nazuna pulled out the contents of the envelope. It must have been a rather rushed job, as the envelope was not even sealed.

On the letter was a simple handwritten sentence.

‘I would like to confess my love to you, so please come out to the TV at the fountain square tonight at 12.’

“…”

“…”

Silence fell over them again.

But this time, it meant something different to Nazuna.

Yakumo looked nervous, as though he had crossed a line he should not have crossed. Nazuna looked him in the eye.

“A birthday, huh.” She whispered to break the silence. “Do you think… I deserve to have a day to celebrate? Just like other people?”

“Of course.”

“Remember what I said before? About how I killed people on the boss’s orders?”

“…”

“The girls at the dojo seem like they know what I’ve done. But none of them will mention it.”

A dark look came over Nazuna’s face.

It was a look of surrender. An expression so subdued for a realization that it almost seemed like self-loathing.

“I want to tell you. …Some of those girls—I’m the one who killed—”

But Yakumo cut her off.

“No.”

“What?”

“I understand what you’re trying to say. But… that’s not something you should tell me yet. Because we don’t know each other well enough.”

There was an unusually grave look in his eye.

Though Yakumo was always serious, his gaze had never been so strong.

“So… I’d be happy if you’ll tell me after we start dating—once I understand you better and I can be your pillar of support.”

Nazuna almost fell into silence for the third time.

But she grinned and raised her head.

“I see. You’re right. Sorry for trying to vent.” Nazuna said with her usual confidence. And she looked at Yakumo’s letter with a hint of a smile.

“But you know… you already confessed.”

“…I guess you could say that.”

“You could have just honestly said you wanted to go on a date.”

“Actually, I wanted to enclose a present with the letter. But I couldn’t think of anything.”

Such a way of thinking was very much like Yakumo. Nazuna understood.

“You’re giving me so many presents.”

“So I decided that my present will be me.”

“…”

“Tonight, I’m going to go wherever you want to go, and help you with anything you need. I haven’t really decided on a time limit… but I guess until you’re satisfied, Miss Nazuna.”

He was practically forcing his presence onto her.

It sounded almost like what a stalker would say, but Yakumo had no malicious orbenevolent intentions. If Nazuna refused, he would simply apologize.

But Nazuna understood his twisted sense of innocence. So she repeated herself.

“You could have just honestly said you wanted to go on a date.”

Setting aside her past and her reality, she simply flashed Yakumo a smile.

“All right. I have tomorrow off, so we can have fun until morning.”

“…!!!”

Yakumo felt as though he had been jolted.

The Killer Ghoul raised his clock speed to the limit and lengthened out several seconds of time to near-infinity. And he carved that moment of joy into the eternity in his heart.

Engines were still roaring in the background.

In a setting very, very far from romance,

One man found euphoria,

And one woman found a small happiness.

And the slightest hint of sweetness filled the island’s air.

? ??

The Case of the Detective Siblings - 2

Night had fallen on the island, but a head of sunshine gold bobbed along the back alleys of the Western District.

This particular area was quite close to the Eastern District border, which meant the volunteer police did not patrol it as much. Supposedly the Chinese mafia that ruled the district guarded the area instead, but they never surfaced unless necessary.

It was a setting both dull and eerie. But the one who wore that head of golden hair declared confidently to the black-haired brother walking behind her—

“Now we begin to tail the suspect, Sherlock Liverpool!”

“We don’t even have a suspect to tail, Charlotte. Let’s go home already.”

“What? But our tailing is only just beginning!”

“Where’d you pick up that phrase?”

Whether or not she’d heard her brother’s resigned sigh, Charlotte squeaked energetically.

“Not only that, we received that anonymous phone call!”

“Huh? …Oh, right. The one after the client. You were finished with that one pretty quick. What did they say?”

“Would you believe it, Sherlock Liverpool? He simply said, ‘Drop this case if you value your life’! Then he hung up!”

“All right. I’m with our anonymous caller.” Sherlock declared. He took Charlotte’s hand and turned to leave.

“W-wait, Sherlock Liverpool! Cases don’t happen at home! They happen on the scene!”

“The biggest case in my life is the case of whatever is going on in your head, Charlotte.”

But at that moment, Sherlock’s keen senses seemed to catch something. He stopped without thinking and covered Charlotte’s mouth.

“Mmph?”

“Quiet.”

He pulled her into an alleyway—

And spotted a group of men hurrying over.

They quickly passed by the Liverpool siblings, who stood holding their breaths.

“Which way?”

“The fountain square.”

“We’ll take him down.”

It was clear from their voices and eyes that they were ready to kill.

Sherlock was anxiously holding Charlotte against himself, but once the men were gone he felt a different sort of anxiety.

“S-Sorry, Charlotte. Are you all right?” He asked, quickly letting go of her.

Charlotte didn’t seem at all affected by the embrace. She looked in the direction the men had gone, as enthusiastic as ever.

“I smell a case!”

“I do too. So let’s get out of here!”

“No! If a detective knows a case is going to happen, it is her sworn duty to stop it. A detective shouldn’t be praised for solving a case if she knew beforehand that it would happen!”

The glint in her eye was already rushing off after the men.

But Sherlock—though he couldn’t help himself sighing—tried to stop her.

“Look, Charlotte. I know I’ve been lecturing you about this forever, but… isn’t there anyone you love?”

“W-where did that come from, Sherlock Liverpool?! I… I did sometimes and didn’t sometimes…” Charlotte stammered, turning red. But Sherlock continued gravely.

“Then suppose there’s someone who loves you just as much as you love him. How do you think he’d feel if you threw yourself in harm’s way and died or got hurt?”

“…”

Charlotte was quiet. For some reason, Sherlock felt guilt weighing on his heart.

But he had to be blunt. He could not sugarcoat things. That was when Charlotte broke her silence.

“Sherlock Liverpool.”

“Wha- yeah? Do you understand?”

“Thank you for reminding me. When I thought about all the people who love me and the people I love… I realized that I must press forward after all.”

“Why?!”

Charlotte smiled, a little bittersweetly. Sherlock had known her long enough to understand how she felt, but he did not want to acknowledge it.

“Because… I love this island and the people on it.”

It was Sherlock’s turn to be silent.

Then, Charlotte landed the final blow.

“I care about the people here just as much as you care for me, Sherlock Liverpool.”

“…”

‘Charlotte.’

Without a hint of an ulterior motive, she cut to his very heart.

‘Charlotte… you really are cruel.’ He thought to himself.

How many times had they repeated this exchange since they arrived on the island?

‘Thirty-five times.’

The fact that he remembered meant that he had counted over thirty times as well.

Yet each time, the fire in his heart remained unchanged.

Sherlock reminded himself—

That he was a hopeless fool, that his sister was innocent but cruel,

And that, being the fool he was, he loved that cruel sister of his.

? ??

The Case of Lihuang Ei - 2

In a dark room.

Looking over the island at night, Lihuang Ei lost himself in the past.

He had thought that he was only ever permitted to breathe an air damp with the scent of blood.

For as long as he could remember, he had been raised as a potential organization executive. He had never set foot in a school, raised only in the closed world of the Ei family.

When he came to the island, he thought that he had finally stepped into a new world. But nothing had changed. The island was even cruder than the Ei family. The air itself was hopeless.

‘That’s right. This is the only air I need.’

He realized that fact at a young age.

No matter how strong he became, so long as he was raised in a world like this he would inevitably end up throwing himself into an even bloodier world.

And if he ran, he would be pursued as a traitor.

Then again, he never even wanted to consider that option.

In that world, there was only one person who possessed a different ‘color’.

The blue-eyed woman. Yili and Lilei’s mother.

Supposedly she was a mistress of his father’s from England. She had been kicked out of the house immediately after giving birth to Yili.

Though Lihuang’s memories of her were hazy, he remembered that in the air of the Ei family, she alone was kind. She had tried to be like a mother to Lihuang, who had lost his own much earlier.

Lihuang could not bear that fact.

Though he was only a child, it had bothered him that someone ‘different’ was being so kind to him. He had feared that, if he let himself be colored by the air around her, he would be cast away from his father and his world.

So when the woman disappeared, he had breathed a sigh of relief.

Or at least, he thought he had.

Even when he heard several years later that she had died, and when he heard that Yili’s sister was on the island, it simply bothered him—and nothing else.

But the arrival of Lilei—a girl who had absolutely no regard for the air around him—and his meeting half a year prior with a certain young woman slowly but dramatically began to change his life.

And because he had no idea if the change was positive or negative, Lihuang resolved to quietly accept it. Until the day he found his answer.

When he boarded the car in the hotel’s underground parking lot alongside his bodyguards, his cell phone began to vibrate.

<Hey, about that gang from before. It looks like they’re fighting Kugi in the Eastern District… Munch.>

Taifei was reporting in, as relaxed as ever.

“I see. We’re on our way.”

“In person? …You never did mind getting your hands dirty. Munch… You’re the boss now, so hold yourself back—is what I’d say out of principle. But I’m letting you go because I’m curious—are you hoping to die in battle? Do you just enjoy these things like the elders do? Or do you not think at all about these things, just like Lilei?>

“It doesn’t matter. This island’s small enough that where I go doesn’t affect things in the slightest. …And are you worrying about me? That’s not like you at all, Taifei.”

<If I were worried about you, I would have been nicer about it. …Munch… By the way, I noticed something interesting on the security feed.>

“What?”

<The detective… Munch… You know, the blond one.>

“…! I see. I pray she isn’t caught in the crossfire.”

<Hm? So Yili was right about you and the girl?>

“Don’t make me laugh. That woman’s very presence screams that the Western District is hospitable even for the most brainless of fools. If we lost her, it would affect morale among the volunteer police and the residents.”

<And that’s why you went to the trouble of calling her ‘anonymously’ just now?>

“…! Taifei! You bastard…”

<I recall teaching you how to make untraceable phone calls. You must have been pretty desperate if you even forgot that. I’ll take this secret to the grave, of course, but I think people should be free to date whoever they want. And you know, that girl’s a dead ringer for Yili and Lilei’s—>

Lihuang hung up. He struggled to regain his composure before commenting loudly enough for his bodyguards to hear.

“…Asking for a dozen new restaurants at the hotel… the nerve of that bastard.”

After lying through his teeth, Lihuang put on a fake smile and quietly fell into thought.

The bodyguards all knew that Lihuang was lying, and that he had—without realizing—begun to obsess over the blond girl from several months earlier. But they remained silent. Without a hint of derision or laughter, as though declaring that they were loyal to their boss no matter his choices.

Though it was unclear if he was aware of his subordinates’ consideration, Lihuang fell into thought.

‘Taifei… one of these days, I am going to wring the fat out of him.

‘But his intelligence is too crucial to lose… I can’t turn him against me.

‘And not only that… he thinks I am free to court anyone. Foolishness.’

At that point, a question rose to his mind.

Perhaps he had held some admiration for Yili and Lilei’s western mother.

And that perhaps he felt the same way towards the blue-eyed detective, who also refused to blend into the hostile air around herself.

‘Impossible.

‘A girl like her?

‘…What does it matter?

‘Women mean little to me.

‘It does not matter whom I love. Not in the least.’

Lihuang’s expression did not budge as he departed for the battlefield to put his life on the line.

—so the innocent smile playing at the corner of his lip also remained.

? ??

The Case of Everyone

Somewhere in the Eastern District.

About 20 minutes before the detective siblings spotted the suspicious men—

“Ohh…”

Jun breathed a heavy sigh as she walked down the alley in the middle of the night.

Only when all three chainsaws had run out of fuel did she realize the state of the office.

Miraculously, Gitarin was the only one injured in the chaos. But the room itself looked as though an alien and a predator had dueled their way through a typhoon in the office.

That was cause enough for depression, but—

“Inui? He saw the commotion here and left a while ago.”

Nazuna’s explanation was what upset Jun the most.

‘He saw me acting like… that.

‘Of all the times for him to visit…’

Though her sense of reason had been intact, she had flown into an otherworldly rage—and Inui had seen it all. The thought gave Jun no end of embarrassment.

She did not dislike how she behaved in her chainsaw high. But of all the scenes to show Inui, it had to be the one where she was swinging her chainsaws at her own boss in the office. Anyone who saw would think she was trouble.

With a series of sighs, she walked through the island at night.

‘So in the end, I never got to talk with Mr. Inui…

‘How am I supposed to face him?’

And before that, Jun lived on the artificial island and loved the island itself. Did she even have the right to date people, Jun wondered.

Inui was a sort of symbol of the island. Perhaps that was why she admired him.

But that was also a problem in and of itself. Jun did not know if it was even allowed for someone like her to feel love toward a symbol of the island.

Jun wandered the streets with a heaping helping of self-hatred on her plate.

And that was when her cell phone rang.

<Ahahahaha! Hey, Jun! It’s Mii! How are you? Don’t feel down, okay? Ahahaha!>

A smile rose to Jun’s face at the sound of her smile-happy subordinate’s voice.

<You know, you know, apparently there’s a shootout going on at the building complex in the buffer zone near the Western District! You know, with Inui and Kugi, that guy from the West! Bang! Bang! Bang! Ahahahahaha!>

Jun didn’t understand what it was Mii found so funny, but she understood the information.

Quickly switching gears, she ran towards the scene.

But even in this new mindset, a part of her was disquieted by the promise of Inui’s presence.

? ??

When his cell phone beeped, Yakumo Amagiri opened his eyes.

“…Yawn… Oh. Five minutes already? One hour to midnight… I should get going.”

Getting up as though five minutes of sleep were enough for him, he crept down the side of the building so as to not wake the girl sleeping in the middle of the rooftop.

On the way, the Killer Ghoul looked up at the night sky and thought to himself.

‘The stars are beautiful tonight.

‘Just gazing up like this with Miss Nazuna would be more than enough for me.’

? ??

“…Am I too early?”

Meanwhile, Nazuna Yukimura was already at the fountain.

She had never been on a date before (although she had pretended to be on one for a Guard Team mission), so she did not even know how early she should be there.

She did not have to worry about the girls at the dojo, as at night she always left them to someone she trusted.

What worried her, however, was where she should suggest going that night.

‘Maybe we could find a quiet place to go stargazing together?

‘Yakumo might make fun of me if I said that.’

It was a strange point of consensus. But at that point, Nazuna spotted something out of the corner of her eye.

“Huh?”

‘Someone’s here. …Oh, it’s Inui.’

When she saw the flash of rainbow hair, Nazuna decided for the moment to leave.

Inui hadn’t noticed her yet, it seemed. And it would be best that he never did.

‘If we started chatting and Yakumo showed up… this time he really might kill Inui.’

? ??

By the time Jun arrived at the building complex, a group of men were splayed out on the ground. Western District men dressed in black were rounding them up.

Realizing it would be a pain if they spotted her, Jun took cover in the distance and decided to observe for the moment—when she spotted a certain figure out of the corner of her eye.

The island’s very own Killer Ghoul, whose white clothes were dyed red at the hem.

‘Mr. Amagiri. What’s he doing here?’

After Nazuna started contacting him, Yakumo Amagiri had caused considerably less trouble in the Eastern District. But he remained a person of interest to the Guard Team. They still worried that Yakumo might end up hurting Nazuna or worse.

‘Does Mr. Amagiri have something to do with this?’

Though she was doubtful, Jun quietly followed after him.

? ??

When Lihuang arrived at the retrieval site, he personally scrutinized the bodies lying on the ground.

“Weak. You mean to tell me these peons are running amok on the island, doing as they please?”

He did not bother trying to hide his abhorrence, glaring at the bodies. At that moment, he spotted a kitten out of the corner of his eye.

‘The kitten of the Eastern District. What is she doing here…?’

At that moment, the captain of the Guard Team took off toward the center of the island.

‘Does she have something to do with this?’

Suspicious, Lihuang quietly followed after her with four bodyguards in tow.

? ??

“Maybe I’m a little early. …Huh? What’s going on over there?”

When Yakumo arrived at the fountain square, Inui and Kugi happened to be engaged in an all-out brawl.

Neither of them were using their guns, but both dogs were going out of their way to aim for each other’s vitals.

Yakumo watched with disinterest and decided it would be a bother if he were to be caught up in the fray. He headed up to the second floor of the mall.

“I don’t really care, but I hope they finish before midnight. I wouldn’t want our date to get interrupted.”

A second later—

A group of newcomers crashed into the scene, and a gunshot resounded across the square.

? ??

When Jun arrived at the square as she chased after Yakumo, she spotted Inui and Kugi, surrounded by armed men.

“?!”

She froze, but quickly regained her composure—she was the captain of the Guard Team, after all—and assessed the situation.

Inui looked as laid-back as ever.

Kugi didn’t seem to have any expression to begin with.

‘I have to do something…’

Quickly, she drew her chainsaws. But she stopped before she could start the engine.

Jun remembered what had happened that afternoon.

Would it really be all right for her to show something so unsightly to Inui again?

The question plagued her thoughts.

But—

Only for one tenth of a second.

If she refused to act just because she was afraid of seeming unsightly, she had no right to be the Guard Team’s captain. Jun’s body, thoughts, and the engine in her soul knew that fact full well.

As she moved, another question rose to her mind.

Was she, the captain of the Guard Team, justified in crashing a fight involving Inui and this unknown group?

But Jun shot down the question with a simple answer.

‘Right now… I’m off-duty!’

She pulled the throttle.

She was starting the engine on her unquestionable determination.

In other words, the ‘Jun’ who stood amidst the roar of the engines was also unquestionably herself.

There would be no point in receiving Inui’s love if she had to hide that fact about herself.

And, allowing work to get personal, Jun let her engines roar.

? ??

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRM.

“Jun?”

Nazuna, who had been watching the battle from the shadows, flinched at the sound of engines—and quickly spotted Jun leaping into the fray.

“…Was she tailing Inui all this time? She must really like him.”

It was a misunderstanding, but not completely.

‘Oh well. I have a date of my own waiting after this.

‘I still don’t know if I’ll be able to love Yakumo…

‘But I guess I should go help out Jun, for luck!’

And she burst forward.

Without a sound, concealing her every footstep—

Nazuna became a gust of wind and threw herself into battle for the most selfish of reasons.

? ??

“Miss Nazuna?!”

Yakumo, who had been watching from the second floor, screamed when he spotted Nazuna. And before he knew it, he was running.

‘My god… What is Miss Nazuna doing here so early? …Wait, did I write “11” on the letter? That’s not good.

‘No. Before all that… I hope Miss Nazuna doesn’t get the wrong idea and think I lured her into a trap. But that’s exactly what it looks like! I invite her out with a letter, and when she shows up, she sees a bunch of men armed with guns… It obviously looks like a trap!

‘Oh no. Oh no. How do I resolve this misunderstanding?

'Aha. I get it.

‘I just have to kill them all!

‘But to be honest… I don’t care if she misunderstands.

‘Even if she gets the wrong idea and ends up killing me…

‘I have to protect Miss Nazuna.

‘Because I love her.’

? ??

“Goddammit! Who are those freaks?!

The men who were on standby outside the square began to panic.

“Nobody warned us about this… This island’s full of monsters!”

“…Looks like we’ll have to resort to gas.” Said one of the men. In his hand was an object shaped like a grenade.

It seemed to be a weapon that sprayed nerve gas into its surroundings. The man made to pull the pin—

“Hold it!”

A proud but un-intimidating voice shouted from behind them.

When the men turned, they saw an energetic young blonde who was a poor match for the island’s air.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Heh heh heh… The criminal is among us!”

She was failing to read the flow. The men exchanged glances.

“…Who is this bimbo?”

“Good timing. Maybe if we take her hostage, some of those freaks inside’ll stop.”

The men grinned, pulling out guns from their jackets.

“So, who’s guilty of what now?”

“Umm… violation of gun control laws…?”

Sherlock, who had been watching the perilous scene from the shadows, was waiting for an opportunity with a gun in hand. He was hiding opposite Charlotte, and was hidden from the men.

There were three targets.

If he did not take them out—with one shot each—he and Charlotte were both finished.

Sherlock was not a remarkably good marksman, and he was afraid he wouldn’t make the shots. But time did not wait for him.

‘All right. Now!’

The moment the men’s eyes focused on his sister, Sherlock made to step in—

But his charge was interrupted by a man who passed by him without a sound.

“Your crime is daring to breathe on my island.”

“What…?”

By the time the voice reached the men’s ears, it was already too late.

Their hands, still wrapped around their guns, fell heavily to the ground.

Blood began spurting from their wrists—

“And your sentence… is death.”

Before the men could even scream, blood gushed from their necks.

The man at the source of that violence did not even flinch. His broadsword dripping with blood, he whipped the tassel against the ground.

“It’s you…”

When he heard Charlotte’s voice behind him, Lihuang smiled bitterly at his own actions.

‘Going out of my way to save a girl like her? It seems I still have a long way to go.’

But ultimately, he had committed murder before the girl’s eyes.

It seemed that this air of blood was the only kind he was allowed to breathe after all.

‘Now, scream.

‘Fear me.

‘Fear this island.

‘On this island, there is nothing more fitting for a woman like you than the sound of wailing.’

Slowly, he turned to look at Charlotte—

When she grasped his hands and flashed him an innocent smile.

“Thank you! You rescued me!”

“Wha…”

“And you called the office this evening, too! I knew I recognized your voice! You were trying to keep us safe from harm!”

Charlotte showed no hint of fear before the blood-covered man with sharp eyes. And yet again, she destroyed the air he had built up around himself.

Lihuang had no idea how he should take that fact. In fact. he was unable to meet her gaze. He looked away awkwardly and spat,

“Don’t misunderstand. It’s not like I was doing this for you.”

Watching everything from the back, Sherlock was struck by a certain word.

‘…Tsundere…?’

But out of fear for his own life, he decided to hold his tongue.

? ??

Once she was reasonably certain that she had taken care of most of the rabble, Nazuna rushed out of the square before she was caught up in the cleanup.

A certain figure quickly caught up to her like a shadow.

Nazuna stopped once she turned into an alleyway and smiled at the pursuer in white.

“You came to help.”

“Was that unnecessary? …It must have been. I know you’re strong, Miss Nazuna, so I knew you didn’t really need any help… but I still wanted to lend you a hand.”

Yakumo continue to ramble at length before finally concluding with, “—no, that’s not what I was trying to say…” And falling into self-loathing.

Nazuna looked at him curiously, fascinated.

“Thank you.” She simply said.

Yakumo’s eyes shone as though that was all the reciprocation he ever needed.

Nazuna’s expression returned to normal, and she asked,

“So where are we off to?”

“It’s up to you, Miss Nazuna.”

“…Hmm… I think Mr. Iizuka from the Western District should just about be starting his night fishing session.”

Nazuna called on all her knowledge about the island to think of something, and ultimately let her initial idea shine through.

“I like fishing at night, too. I’m not good at it, but maybe we can just set up a couple of poles and have a chat under the stars… or maybe that’s a little boring…?”

“Not at all!”

Unusually for Yakumo, he replied without a nanosecond’s thought.

It surprised Nazuna to hear such passion from him, but she grinned and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Then let’s take our time.”

She put on a mischievous smile.

“We’ve still got half an hour until you’re supposed to confess to me.”

What kind of a second confession did Yakumo make? And where did they go afterwards?

That is a story for another time.

? ??

The men from the mainland had all been incapacitated. The situation came to a close in less than three minutes.

‘Hm? I thought I just saw Mr. Amagiri and Nazuna.

‘Wait! I can think about those two later!

‘He’s here! Right before my eyes!

‘Mr. Inui is right here in front of me!’

Jun’s eyes shone when she realized Inui was standing before her. She quickly composed herself.

‘Yeah! I have to say it! The answer to the proposal he made on the day we met!

‘“If it’s all right with you, I’ll be the heroine in the movie of your life!” You can do this, Jun!’

“IF—————, HEROINE————————MOVIE——!”

“What?! I can’t hear you over the engines!” Inui cried. Surprised, Jun turned off her chainsaws.

And—

“Ah, that’s better. So what were you trying to say?”

“Huh?! Oh… umm… I…”

‘…’

“Umm… well… huh…?”

‘I’m so embarrassed…

‘Confessing is embarrassing enough… but “I’ll be the heroine in the movie of your life”? That’s… so awkward!’

Jun’s high came to an end with the roar of the engines, and she was left unable to say a word.

“You’re still as funny as ever, aren’t you?” Inui chuckled.

On one hand, Jun breathed a sigh of relief at the fact that Inui was not put off by her demeanor. But ‘funny’ was not the most encouraging thing to hear from him.

But—

“That was pretty kickass. Teach me how to use one of those chainsaws sometime?” He snickered, though it was hard to tell if he was being completely serious.

“Y-yes!”

Jun nodded firmly, and felt her heart swell.

“Whoa?! H-hey, why’re you crying?”

“Ah… Hah… hahahaha! Why am I crying?!”

Wiping away tears of joy, Jun trembled with emotion.

Perhaps fighting alongside and being acknowledged by Inui, the man she so admired, was more meaningful than even a kiss.

Of course, she had no way of confirming that, as she had never kissed him.

If nothing else, her heart was filled with joy.

And night grew deep for many young men and women on the island.

Not even realizing they might be feeling romantic love,

They accepted the minute changes in themselves.

? ??

The next day. A medical facility in the Eastern District.

“Life is nothing without a dash of love.” Muttered Gitarin, lying in bed and covered in bandages.

After the commotion at the office, he had fallen and rolled with the cross-shaped chainsaw in hand and cut both of his legs.

𝑓r𝘦𝘦𝘄eb𝒏𝙤vel.c𝙤𝙢

His bodyguards had pulled him back in the nick of time, and he only suffered minor injuries. He was then moved to the organization’s clinic for bed rest.

But afterwards, the Guard Team and Zhang (who had come back after a meal) came over and left him covered in more bandages than a mummy.

Following them was a long line of Eastern District executives intent on lecturing him.

His bodyguards had left to eat, and the guards were outside the door. Gitarin was alone in the stillness of his hospital room.

“…Maybe I’ll watch a romance flick online.” He mumbled lethargically and turned on the TV.

“What is it that people lack? Love.”

He continued to prattle irresponsibly as he continued to love.

He loved his life and everything about the world—the island—around it equally.

Though twisted, he was full of love.

-End Episode 4-

Report chapter

Use arrow keys (or A / D) to PREV/NEXT chapter