Part 3

 

All sorts of bright colorful lights flew at me. Each bright light was an “event” in time left behind.

As I flowed back in time it was as if “we probably won’t be forgotten, will we?” was being inquired – information flowed into my eyes. Hikaru-chan, still in my arms, didn’t notice.

She and I had a lot of “events” in our past. Should I take Hikaru-chan or choose Madoka, everything had finally been set to right. I had chosen Madoka… and the fun days the three of us had spent we could never visit again… After that we had each become adults.

That time… thru Hikaru-chan’s tearful and questioning eyes she saw me. I can never forget those eyes.

Right! Forget it for now!

An unthinking Hikaru-chan, still in my arms, was still in my power.

“Yada! Senpai, I’m at a loss.” Hikaru-chan, face still pressed against my chest said in an excited voice.

“Hi… Hikaru-chan…”

“Senpai, I’m at a loss. Something like this… this I’m ready for. But being held like this by Senpai… I’m at a loss.”

“Ah… no… my… my intention was…”

I was about to let go of the confused girl when, “Kyaaa!”

Hikaru-chan screamed and clung onto me. We were flying through the flow of time. If Hikaru-chan’s body were to become separated from me, she would be flung into whatever era we were passing through when she let go.

“Sor.. Sorry.” I held Hikaru-chan again. She had seemed elastic but was startled rigid. At the same time she clamped her mouth shut, although I couldn’t see it.

Maybe, Hikaru-chan… already knew about my Power. How bright Hikaru-chan is… it was considerably confused and chaotic… that was certain.

“Ah… hey… Hikaru-chan?”

As time flowed, a “hyu… hyu…” sound hung around my ears. It was only the silence of the two of us. After a short while, Hikaru-chan began to mutter to herself.

“Wha… just as I thought.”

“Huh?”

“As I thought… Kasuga Senpai… is an ESPer, isn’t he?”

Hikaru-chan still had her face against my chest.

“Hikaru-chan…?”

“That’s why… because of this Senpai.. never loved me.”

“Ah, er, uh…”

“Perhaps I was under the spell and love was blind.”

“That… that’s…”

“Senpai… Pretty slick.”

“A, hey, hey.”

“Mean…”

“Hi… Hikaru-chan!”

She giggled then.

Hikaru-chan let out a small snort at my chest. It tickled. To tell the truth, around my waist… well… the delicate part of the lower half of my body enjoyed the sensation (what am I saying!).

But… Hikaru-chan fell silent… but soon was herself again. “Wha… what… what…” she said again, “What… why… me and Madoka-san… and also Senpai…”

I already knew what Hikaru-san wanted to say. Hikaru-san slowly found the right words.

“Using ESP… I see… That’s why you were always so good at everything.”

“Hikaru-chan…”

At long last Hikaru-chan lifted her face and showed me a surprised smile.

No, well… not really a smile. She held back tears as much as she could. Although she was showing a smile naturally I noticed it.

I… I… I pretended to completely not notice Hikaru-chan’s condition.

“Aha… ha ha ha… at long last I’ve been discovered.”

I could laugh it off – and showed some sympathy for her.

“Kasuga Senpai?”

“Hmm?”

Hikaru-chan’s face had already cleared up. I had purposely exposed the secret of the Power. She had already perceived there must be a meaning for it.

“Did something happen with Madoka-san?”

I nodded my head in response again.

“Hikaru-chan, I want your help.”

Hikaru-chan made as if to prepare herself and took a deep breath. “Hai!” she said powerfully.

Just then, the sound of time floating seemed to rip apart, and a violent exhaust note screamed at us.

“Wha… what was that?”

When the sound exploded I saw a mass of bright orange light.

“Senpai… this is a ‘time trip’ isn’t it?”

“Hmm? Ah… eh… more or less.”

“I and Madoka-san are here.”

“Huh?”

Hikaru-chan seemed to be concentrating on the orange light.

“Us from back then… Not just where we’re about to go… going where we can’t go…”

“Hikaru-chan…”

I headed towards that orange light for as long as my strength would last. In the midst of that light were countless wriggling things I could see.

…what?

It was a wharf or dock at night, crowded with young people. I soon understood that this was a motorcycle gang. Moreover, it seemed to be two large groups facing off against each other. Large numbers of the boys riding the bikes seemed to be brandishing silver pipes and even now seemed to be sweeping down on each other.

Behind each group was a souped-up gaudy sports car. In the surrounding area were many girls under the gang’s protection. Undoubtedly in the middle of all this were the figures of junior high students Madoka and Hikaru-chan.

A tall Sailor Uniform. But… missing the cigarette. I remembered that from when I had just met the two of them.

“Madoka the Pick” (so named for throwing a guitar pick at her opponents)… the “lost bad girl” Madoka. Hikaru-chan was the only one who understood how that girl felt…

“Kyada! Kyada kyada kyada… Senpai… what are you grinning at?”

“Eh? Um… when I look at you two now, you’re still cute somehow… just kidding.”

“Yada… Does this mean you’re a dirty old man now?”

“A… hey, hey…”

Hikaru-chan let out a cackle. At that time the two of them supported each other alone… But it was certainly a heart-warming feeling to look them over… but for this Hikaru-chan there might not be time to spare. Well at least these two young girls weren’t yet smoking with a practiced hand.

At least… then… this defiant Madoka… there was nothing she could say to me better than the 22 year-old Madoka.

“Hikaru-chan, we need to leave this time.”

“Right!”

I painted the orange light of time and holding Hikaru-chan close stepped into the middle of it.

 

From the top floor of the hotel, the afternoon sun shining over Aoyama neighborhood could be seen at a glance.

Although it wasn’t yet summer, a calm atmosphere enveloped the area. As the neighborhood had some old dwellings, but with one good-sized road it suddenly occurred to Madoka that this place would bustle with activity and she could imagine settling down here.

Although the building was still under construction, she wondered what this town would melt into once the apartment building was complete.

Blending in would be good…

Madoka suddenly came back to herself and held her second Salem cigarette in her fingers. As she lit the match a memory of certain words came to her.

 

“Stop. You’ll find yourself becoming one of them. It doesn’t flatter Ayukawa Madoka’s face. If you twitch of laugh, hold it at the corner of your mouth.”

Mishima Shuujirou tossed Madoka a box of “Short Hope”.

Originally, Madoka had had no intention of joining up with the reckless crowd. Bur her musician Parents tended to be busy overseas. She lived with her older sister, which was all fine and good, but at the time she was seeing the man she’s now married to. She had known something was bothering Madoka, but Madoka carried this heavy burden herself. Because of this, she made an effort to go out a lot.

Her companion from a very young age had always been her protégé, Hikaru.

Without belonging to any group, glaring and not fawning over any clique, little by little had left her mark on the boys. Because of this, at that time, when someone tried to some boring fight, she fought.

Madoka had been obsessed with fastidiousness for some time. Because of this, anyone who spoke with false intentions she simply couldn’t let pass by. While protecting Hikaru she trained in using her classical ballet as a weapon, and without exception drove them all away.

However, while their enemies increased, on the other hand they had one pretty friend… Ryouko, who had just turned 22, for Madoka and Hikaru showed want a fine adult could be.

Ryouko was the owner of a coffee shop that Madoka, Hikaru and other delinquents hung out at. Her customers were almost never boys. No bad language was allowed and if any of them started a fight they would find themselves shut out and un-served. Madoka thought she was probably pretty smart, so she never questioned it.

However, the look in Ryouko’s eyes always seemed to be the same as her own.

Because she understood that solitary look, when it came to seeing something wrapped up in solitude, there was no limit to the kindness in those eyes.

And Ryouko’s younger brother was Shuujirou.

At that time, as Madoka was becoming more and more of a leader she was invited to join “Yokosuka Ladies”. But the “Ladies” leader had a personality that was all too easy to read. But, thanks to her situation at home at the time, at her own discretion she fell in and accepted the invitation.

At the time, Madoka’s heart wavered, and it was Shuujirou that said “That clique’s laughter doesn’t suit you.”

(shubo) – the sound of a lighter being started.

Madoka held the flame from her lighter before her Salem. She took a deep draw from the cigarette and had a small laugh at the memory… she twitched and laughed darkly.

Another puff?

Twitch, laugh.

Just like Shuujirou had said way back then. – Why Madoka? Your face twitches.

Madoka filled her lungs with tobacco smoke and then puffed it into the air. The smoke was bathed in sunshine, beginning to swim as if a living thing, and soon struck against the transparent window glass – vanishing all too soon.

 

“Mascot?”

I shot Hikaru-chan’s face a quick glance as I shot the question back at her.

The fight between the motorcycle gangs had come to a head. We were looking down from the roof of a warehouse. Hikaru-chan looked down at her own past nostalgically, saying “my old friends…”, almost like a cheerleader for the J-league she was cheering them on.

(note from the translator: This is the largest digression from the printed text I make. He actually says “like a familiar jockstrap” but that was imagery we could all do without, don’t you think?)

“That’s right, Mascot. Yada… Kasuga Senpai, aren’t you familiar with it? Mascots are like the symbol of the motorcycle gang. She’ll be the one in the car. A very pretty woman.”

“Eh…”

“On top of that, she won’t have a boyfriend. For example, the head of that group decided that no on can date the Mascot by himself.”

Mascot, head… The terminology of a motorcycle gang was coming to be now. That is, what to call them. For the boys… the members of the gang, the girl who was the mascot belonged to no one person, but was a symbol for the whole group (but something to handle seems rude). So some sort of illicit sexual relationship was, of course, thanks to the head of the group, a hands-off situation. If something perverted happened, that person wouldn’t exist with the group anymore.

Because of this, for the opposition force this would seem to be a suitable target. In other words, if you’re going to fight another group, if you succeeded in attacking your opponent’s symbol, their girl mascot, it would be a major wound to the opposition.

“So, that’s the mascot’s role.”

“Yeah… that person and the head… well… did it.”

“Did it?”

Kyada! Kyada kyada! Senpai, you know… IT.”

Hikaru-chan gave little screamed and lightly pounded my shoulder, whispering “Etchi..” in my ears.

“A… aa…”

“So? Within the group it became a real problem. IT was against the rules. On top of that, the head was one of the smartest people in the neighborhood, and he had won the confidence of his comrades. Ah, hey, it’s the person Kasuga Senpai was asking about.”

“Huh? …You mean Mishima… Mishima Shuujirou?”

“Bingo!”

Hey, Hikaru-chan, this isn’t a game, you know.

“Slow! That’s right! When Madoka-san and I heard about it, we were complete shocked. What was he doing? Shuujirou-san had always been affectionate to us. Particularly for his older sister, we felt he helped everyone more than his own parents.”

“Sister?”

Hikaru-chan told me that Shuujirou’s older sister, Ryouko, was a person Madoka looked to for understanding in those days.

No matter how strong to the core Madoka was, at the time she was still in junior high. Because her home life was so lonely, it’s easy to imagine that her mental stability could easily come undone. Moreover, looking from Madoka’s lifestyle, understanding that her parents were overseas, she had good reason to be burdened with the solitude of living alone. “Fine! Fine! I’m all right,” she would way.

So… for Madoka, and Hikaru-chan of course, this Ryouko’s very existence was very important… I could imagine.

“Um, Hikaru-chan. This Shuujirou. Where is he?”

I was getting used to seeing my first gangland fight… I was finally understanding everything about the sect Madoka belonged to, and more and more this guy Shuujirou weighed on my mind.

“He’s not here.”

“He’s not?”

“That’s what I said. Shuujirou-san did things with the mascot, right?”

“Ah, hmm.”

“So the group is in disorder. All in shock. So..”

“Ah, aa…”

“So, the opposition believes they can make mince-meat (actual word used!) of them, so they’ve come to attack.”

It looked like the size of Madoka’s group and the opposition’s were about the same, but by comparison, the opposite side seemed to have an energetic offensive posture, while they in turn looked as if they were going to fall to pieces.

Just then, sparks flew from the opposing group’s Coupe.

“Ah, it’s starting, Kasuga Senpai.”

“Huh?”

The opposition group, once the spark signal had been given, as one attacked Madoka’s group. With iron pipes they attacked the opposing side’s bikes without mercy, and for the resisting drivers they were presented with full-face head-butts from their helmets.

The middle-school versions of Madoka and Hikaru-chan quickly climbed on the sports coupe. Then Hikaru-chan desperately tugged on Madoka’s sleeve, but Madoka didn’t seem to be the least bit inclined to run away.

“Wha... what’s Madoka doing?”

“Back then, Madoka-san never budged an inch.”

“No… no way! But Madoka and Hikaru-chan weren’t formal members, were they? It was just for fun, not to get wrapped up in disputed, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah but, Madoka-san had said… her eyes were full of tears, so she said she couldn’t move. Not until she spoke with Shuujirou-san. He had betrayed him comrades… so, in this way the comrades had been defeated.”

“Wha…?”

“Madoka-san. It had been such a shock. She had completely relied upon Shuujirou-san. So it was a complete shock.”

If she had, that would be like Madoka. She’s never the first to start something with another person. From the first she never associated with many people, and almost never entered a deep relationship. But once you were allowed in her heart, she would never betray you.

Because of this, faced with Shuujirou’s utmost betrayal of his comrades, I suppose she was thinking from the bottom of her heart she wouldn’t forgive (when she’s like this, it can be pretty scary to be on the receiving end).

“Anyway, we have to rescue her!”

Because of Madoka’s love of keeping things tidy and wrapped up, I knew she wouldn’t run away, and the girls from the other gang couldn’t fail to notice her. I grabbed the railing of the rooftop, ready to fly down and rescue Madoka and Hikaru-chan. But…

“Kasuga Senpai! It’ll be all right.”

“Huh? But… Hikaru-chan…”

“The police are about to arrive.”

“Huh?”

Come to think of it, this was also Hikaru-chan’s past. Coming straight to the point, I do have the 20 year-old Hikaru-chan next to me…

Sure enough, just as Hikaru-chan predicted, a patrol car rushed to the scene. Immediately the two groups scattered, running away in every direction. Suddenly I couldn’t see either Madoka or Hikaru-chan.

“Wha… what happened?”

“Like I said, it’s all right, Senpai. Madoka-san and I were famous for our ability to get away fast.”

“Hmm?”

“Can we go to three days later?”

“Ah… ah… if you want. But why? Three days later.”

“I’m not sure… but on that day Madoka-san changed completely.”

“Madoka did?”

“Yes. Like she was brand new… But Madoka-san never said what happened.”

“Man…”

“First time that ever happened… before or since.”

“…Hikaru-chan…”

Just then… I had a bad premonition. Something happened three days later… I thought something had happened between Madoka and Shuujirou that was the reason Madoka had said nothing to me.

I trembled a bit, but it seemed that Hikaru-chan was again excited by the prospect.

“Besides… Three days later Shuujirou died.”

I took Hikaru-chan’s hand, pulled her close, and pulled her with me into time.

 

 

“Madoka-san! Wait please Madoka-san!”

I held Hikaru-chan close, then we fell into 3 days later to suddenly hear a high-pitched voice. It was the junior high school Hikaru-chan’s voice.

Right before our eyes the Madoka of that time went past in a huff. In order to stop this Madoka, Hikaru-chan had just come out of the café.

“Kasuga-senpai! Now! This is the time!”

Hikaru-chan excitedly tugged at my arm. But now we had a new problem; Hikaru-chan couldn’t meet her in this time.

When I’m no longer completely in this time, half of myself is still in the space-time continuum. Thanks to this, Hikaru-chan and I couldn’t be seen by anyone in the present time.

“Hey. I felt I had just gone into Ryouko’s shop, at almost the same time Madoka-san left.”

This was the first time I had ever seen Madoka so flushed in the face.

“Wow! What happened?”

“I told you, I don’t know. I was unavoidably detained here.”

“Huh?”

Sure enough, the Hikaru-chan who intended to follow Madoka was held back inside by a woman who came out of the shop.

“Don’t Hikaru. Leave Madoka be.”

“But… but… Ryouko-san.”

This was Ryouko-san?

The 20-year old Hikaru-chan seemed to read my mind.

“That’s her. That person is Ryouko-san. My old friend!”

The junior high Hikaru-chan stood her ground before Ryouko-san. “What happened? Madoka-san… something’s happened to Madoka-san!”

“Nothing’s happened to Madoka.”

“Huh?”

“But… it might have been more of a shock than Madoka could handle.”

“What do you mean? What do you mean? Ryouko-san.”

“Hikaru…”

“Yes.”

“Her fastidiousness… may not exist anymore.”

This very young Hikaru-chan fell silent at Ryouko-san’s words.

“Kasuga-senpai?” the current Hikaru-chan said in a small voice.

“Hmm?”

“As interesting as this may be to see, I think we should be following Madoka-san.”

“Understood.”

Once again I held Hikaru-chan close and we re-entered the space-time continuum.

 

“Senpai?”

Hikaru-chan was getting used to the time slips. Soon after entering the time stream, she pressed her cheek against my chest.

“Strange, somehow…”

“Huh?”

“Isn’t it strange?”

“Hi… Hikaru-chan…”

“We… even though we’ve split up… even though… the two of us are chasing after Madoka-san.”

“That’s…”

“He he… It’s okay. Senpai, you don’t have to answer. You don’t have a reason to answer. Hey… didn’t Ryouko-san say something?”

“Huh?”

Hikaru-chan looked slowly up at me. She looked so much the adult now, her eyes made me think.

“Her fastidiousness… may not exist anymore.”

I tried to search for an answer to Hikaru-chan’s words, but I soon stopped. No matter what I could say, there would be no real meaning, and Hikaru-chan wasn’t expecting an answer anyway. I mean, for people, isn’t this part of how we become adults?

“Kya!”

Just then something surprised Hikaru-chan and she let out a small yelp.

“What’s up Hikaru-chan?”

“Shu… Shuujirou-san!”

Just as we had seen the junior high Madoka, we were thrust back to the warehouse. Then this huge 750cc bike slid alongside, and then we could see a bloodstained young man cowering before it.

“That… that’s Mishima… Mishima Shuujirou?”

“Yes.”

Madoka saw the bloodstained Shuujirou and sped up, and a cry-like voice rang out “Shuujirou-san!”

But as soon as the man saw Madoka, he seemed to become nihilistic… this sort of illuminated smile he gave. To keep Madoka from coming any closer he held up both hands to ward her off.

“Shit. Heard about it from Nee-chan? Come to laugh? That Yayoi is such a pest. Leads me around by the nose…”

“Yayoi-san? What do you mean?”

Just as before, as we descended down the time channel, half-in and half-out of the present, Hikaru-chan still seemed surprised by it all.

“Hikaru-chan. He said Yayoi?”

“Senpai. That was the mascot. The one Shuujirou slept with.”

“A… oh!”

Mishima Shuujirou, bit by bit, told the whole sequence of events to the young Madoka he had left behind. Yayoi, it seems, was the girl of the opposition group.

From the first she had crawled into Shuujirou’s gang with evil intent, it seems, with the mission of being a spy. Of course Shuujirou’s group didn’t know this, and this pretty girl was made the mascot. She became an effective pressure point.

“He… turns out I’m just a man too. A laugh, isn’t it! The man called Yokohama’s Shuujirou, his pure heart played like tag.”

Shuujirou pulled a box of Short Hopes from the pocket of his bloodstained shirt, and pulled one out. Madoka presented a lighter and set the flame, but he loudly slapped it away.

Madoka was looking straight at Shuujirou. At that time she saw the wound in his heart, and seemed to be feeling the same pain.

Now, this Kasuga Kyousuke understood the entire situation. Shuujirou had fallen into the opposition’s cruel trap and had fallen in love with the mascot Yayoi. For the comrades who had come to depend upon him, probably, it couldn’t have been a more painful choice to have to face. But… he had decided on this girl Yayoi. It was perfect… what the opposition had begun had dropped him into hell.

At first, the fact that he had had the mascot had caused uneasiness amongst Shuujirou’s comrades. Then, 3 days earlier the opposition had taken advantage of this weakness and attacked. Up to this point, it hadn’t been discovered that Yayoi the mascot was the opposition’s spy. But after the police’s half-hearted attempt to break up the fight, bit-by-bit the opposition’s final methods became apparent.

In short, when it was finally said “the girl your head slept with is really our bitch”, an exhausted Mishima Shuujirou had become a laughing-stock.

Now, this blood-covered man had single-handedly ridden over and attacked the opposition.

“Shuujirou-san…” Madoka, who had been silent until now, had finally had more than she could bear. “I… What can I do?”

Shuujirou suddenly heard her, and looked at her in spite of himself.

“I… I and Hikaru owe Shuujirou-san many thanks. Maybe… if it weren’t for Shuujirou-san and Ryouko-san… we would have faced Fukuro a long time ago.”

Fukuro?

Hikaru-chan whispered to me, “its slang for being ganged up on.”

“Oh… oh…”

Hikaru-chan, upon hearing Shuujirou’s situation, was desperately trying to hold back tears. Maybe, the Madoka from 7 years ago before us was doing the same… there was certainly no mistaking the grief. Madoka suddenly looked hard at Shuujirou and continued talking.

“Therefore I owe Shuujirou-san thanks. So, now, for Shuujirou-san…”

“What can you do for me? Quit.”

“What?”

“Such a laugh. You’ve just begun menstruating, so pretty soon the boys will be wanting to play tag with your pure heart too… It will exhaust you. Quickly ruin that pretty face.”

Shuujirou took a deep draw on his cigarette. The smoke diffused in the darkness of the warehouse, and he looked towards Madoka, then peeled his eyes away.

No, not just a man. Hikaru-chan and me as well were amazed at what Madoka did next.

“Ma…  Madoka-san!”

Madoka took off her sailor uniform. I think she had a chemise under that… anyway, under that you could obviously make out her bra and panties. Madoka set her chin and said in a clear tone, “Shuujirou-san, it wasn’t just tag…”

“What?”

“Shuujirou-san, you fell in love with Yayoi-san. You still love her. So…”

“So what? So I should be crying? Is this the best you can cheer me up? Madoka?” Shuujirou seemed to be getting irritated.

“Shu… Shuujirou-san…”

Madoka’s… her still a bit childish form, bit-by-bit her shoulders began to shake. And not just that… her still not fully developed chest no longer seemed full of bravado and quaked and heaved.

Madoka… Madoka…

I had muttered this countless times in the middle of my heart… but, for this, what can the person I am now say to you?

Want to say… what?

Madoka and Shuujirou faced each other and stared silently. This silence went on for one, maybe two minutes I think… but for me it seemed to last an eternity.

“Brat! Do you even understand what I’ve said?” Shuujirou spit out the words and my own uneasiness was set free.

“I understand all right. Shuujirou-san is really crying!”

“That’s why!”

Madoka, seeing the full sadness in Shuujirou’s eyes, swallowed her words.

“Madoka, this is why! It’s just like you said. Shuujirou of Yokohama is in tatters. Crying just like a little kid. So I put on airs by smoking a cigarette. Like you said. Are you happy? You’re exactly right, so are you happy?”

The tears she had been desperately fighting back until now came flowing, leaving Madoka heaving.

In a small voice Shuujirou said, “Madoka…”

“Hmm?”

“Dummy… Gratitude… a woman will open her legs out of gratitude.”

“Huh?”

“Really, open the legs only for someone you’ve truly fallen for.” As he said this Shuujirou let out a puff, and if illuminating the room.

“Shit… you… have anything to speak to me about love?” He laughed one more time. Madoka, having drawn out that smile, allowed one to come to her mouth.

Shuujirou made fun of her a bit, saying, “Why Madoka. Your face is twitching.”

“Huh?”

“Your mouth seems to twitch – like holding a cigarette.” He tossed the box of Short Hopes at Madoka’s feet. This was a sign to Madoka to put her uniform back on.

As if Madoka had finally noticed that she was half-naked, and hurriedly put her sailor uniform back on. This flurried situation hadn’t been amusing. I was relieved… and after giving a slightly unhappy sigh Hikaru-chan gave me a small poke in the side.

“Thank god, huh, Kasuga-senpai!”

“Hi… Hikaru-chan!”

Hikaru-chan giggled.

After putting on her sailor uniform, Madoka picked up the box of cigarettes and took one out. This time she showed that smile she shows from time to time and said to Shuujirou, “Like holding a cigarette? You’ll be sorry, Shuujirou-san.”

“Whatever. Someday some dumb guy who holds you will see that.”

(Choke! Choke! Choke!)

Kasuga Kyousuke (hey hey) you don’t have a reason to be here anymore. Here, from an adult’s perspective, the two of them smiled and consoled each other with “there there”.

But maybe, this was the last time Madoka ever saw his… Mishima Shuujirou’s smile.

 

To Part 4