Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
“Yo Toshiki, check this video out. Isn’t it pretty dangerous?”
During after-school hours, Hayakawa came to our class. Reika and I were chatting with him while chilling in the classroom, waiting for Nakajima, my junior, who had cleaning duty to take care of.
My friend, a martial-arts nerd, showed us a video. On his phone’s screen, we saw our senior Hiratsuka fighting a buff foreigner.
“This is a members-only video, so you need to subscribe to see it. And this is not an official tournament either, it’s called Underground Fighting. Rumor has it that they do some betting behind the scenes and it’s very popular. Oh, and they don’t always fight in the ring, sometimes brawling in the streets.”
As we kept watching the video, we saw Hiratsuka getting a choke-hold on that swole foreigner, holding his neck tenaciously. Just from this video alone, you could tell he was quite a skilled fighter.
Reika, however, just watched with an uninterested look.
“He’s grabbing his hair, isn’t that a foul? Hmm, he’s also a little short in muscle…”
“Huh? What are you saying? He got an insta-kill against a foreign fighter! He’s totally dangerous! There are rumors that he was a delinquent in the past… Also, the popular fighters on that ring are super popular, almost like celebrities! So, whaddya think, Toshiki?”
“I’m not really interested. Also, I’m not fond of violence…”
Eri hated violence after all. Yet, all the men she fell in love with were always delinquents, bad guys, or just plain violent.
… Was she lying to me all this time?
“We’re going out to get some ice cream. Uh, Hayakawa, right? You can come, too.”
“Ha? You’re just his childhood friend, so don’t think you’re above me! I’ve known him for a bit over a year, but we’re bros! He likes me more than you!”
“Nah, you’re wrong. I’ve always been super excited to see him every year! Oh, and we also used to bathe together when we were ki—”
“I’ve been in the sauna with him as well! We even compared sizes!”
They suddenly stopped talking mid-sentence, turning their gazes toward the entrance to the classroom.
Eri was there, along with her friend, Hikari. She had a very troubled look on her face, and upon seeing me there, she ran up to me.
“Ehehe, Toshi-kun… Um, sorry for being cold to you the day before… I just had a lot going on and I couldn’t process it all in my mind… Oh, as an apology, let me buy you some ice cream today!”
Her smile was cute, as it’s always been… I’ve always loved that smile of hers… But isn’t it a little strange?
You told me you didn’t wanna see me anymore, didn’t you?
You told me not to talk to you ever again, didn’t you?
So why are you acting as if nothing’s ever happened? I don’t even wanna make up or anything. I’ve just finally decided that I’m moving on after you threw ten years’ worth of my feelings away.
And what’s up with your casual tone, Eri?
A flurry of questions swirled in my head, and my previously sweet affection turned into foul disgust, bitterly lingering in my gut. Meanwhile, Reika wrinkled her brows and stuck her tongue out, but Eri just ignored her presence altogether.
“Sorry, but I can’t go, Eri-chan. I already have plans with them.”
But no matter the effort, a 10-year-old spell is not broken easily. I loathed myself for trying to play the role of a gentle guy, yet I still tried to turn her down kindly.
Yet she wouldn’t listen to me.
“Eh~ I really wanna go home with you today, Toshi-kun… It has to be today… Hey, hey, why don’t we go home holding hands, just like in the old days?”
She tried to touch my shoulder softly, and that always made me so happy…
What is happening to me? I feel so scared and sick. I know she doesn’t like me anymore. I’m sure of it. The face she showed me two days ago was still stuck in my head, after all.
And Eri… are you in a hurry? You don’t usually speak this fast… I tried to shrug it off, but her cheeks were a bit swollen.
I loved her for 10 years. No matter how selfish Airi was, I was okay with it. No matter how many boyfriends she had, my feelings for her never changed.
But I’ve given up. I care, but it’s not my place to be.
I was about to refuse her again when a violent noise boomed inside the classroom, a desk had been flipped.
“Oi, Eri… Why are you in this classroom, huh? I told you to wait in your usual spot, didn’t I?”
Hiratsuka-senpai kicked a desk, both his hands in his pockets. Everyone in the classroom was surprised, but nobody moved… This was a far cry from the cunning impression he’d given me the other day.
“Your childhood friend again, huh? You’re going out with me, aren’t you? Then don’t talk to any other guys. I’ve prepared VIP seats for you today. It cost a pretty penny, so just follow me like a good girl.”
He approached Eri. This sort of intimidation is not something you do against a girl. What the hell is up with this guy?
Reika then mouthed words to me.
“Tatsuya Hiratsuka. He’s Underground Fight’s second-best fighter. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is his focus, but he also packs a punch. He’s also a known scumbag who eats up the girls he likes in the VIP section of the club.”
I didn’t know what to do. Why was Eri so blind when it came to men? It didn’t happen just once or twice, it happened every time.
He called out to her in a low voice, and she froze up, completely blue. Then, he grabbed her by the hair and pulled.
“I–It hurts!” Hiratsuka didn’t care about anyone in the room.
Her screams pierced my heart… Yeah, no matter how much she hates me, no matter how many horrible things she said to me—
Violence is unacceptable.
My body moved on its own. Reika looked bitter, but I couldn’t do anything about it.
“… Yo, Sawada, get your hands off while I’m being nice.”
I grabbed his hand, which was thick as a log—
It wasn’t for Eri.
My feelings are messed up, and I can’t really understand myself. I’m just a gloomy person, and people will think I’m crazy if I do this.
… To hell with it. I’m done. I don’t care if I’m dull, or if Eri hates me. I don’t give a sh*t about any of that.
All of this started with his criminal accusation of my father. Anger boiled up inside me, bubbling from the bottom of my stomach.
I haven’t felt like this in a long time, and selfish words just spat out of my mouth.
“—He’s not a criminal, it was self-defense. Take it back.”
He scorned at me, removing his hands from Eri’s hair, and grabbing me by the chest.
“Hah? Are you picking a fight with me? I don’t give a sh*t about your dad, f*cking loser. Stay out of this—”
When he tried to tighten his grip on me, I relaxed my whole body. Using his surprise, I flowed behind him like water and smacked him on the head, just to add insult to injury. A loud smack echoed in the classroom.
I heard Hayakawa’s stunned voice come out of the sidelines.
“H–Huh? No way?! Hiratsuka is the same height as me, but he weighs 80 kilos! He’ll die!”
“You haven’t changed at all, Toshiki…”
Hiratsuka’s body trembled, and his back turned to me. It looked like he held up boiling rage. It worked, and his hatred was focused solely on me.
“I’ll say it one more time. Take. It. Back.”
“I’ll kill you!” He turned around and spat these words, then pulled out his phone and called someone. “—I’m gonna go wild, so clean up after me.”
After Hiratsuka finished, he threw his phone away and stood in front of me, blocking all my exits. Tension filled the classroom, and soon I heard footsteps coming from the hallway. It was probably his contact.
He threw three quick punches in a combo, albeit not as fast as my grandpa’s fists. Then, his body disappeared from my field of view. He feinted, dropping into a tackle.
However, I drive a knee kick into his face without even thinking about it. The snapping of bones soon follows.
Again, Hayakawa’s voice shook from the sidelines.
“Ha?! You serious?! You can barely see Hiratsuka’s punches! Even pro-boxers can’t avoid them! Also, the timing of his kick was so spot-on…”
Hiratsuka collapsed on the floor, looking at me with a stunned expression. The atmosphere shifted when he saw his own blood dripping.
“… Are you kidding me? … Don’t f*ck with professionals…”
“Take your f*cking words back.”
In a moment, he jumped up and swung his body forward, swiftly closing in the distance. Our previous gap was completely gone.
I don’t give a damn anymore, it doesn’t matter. This guy poked his nose in my family’s business. It has nothing to do with Eri, she’s just an extra.
“Toshiki! Don’t get caught, you’ll die if you get thrown on the floor! Kick ‘em again!”
Faster than Hayakawa’s voice, Hiratsuka reached me and grabbed my shoulders, trying to push me down using his feet.
But at that exact moment, I threw two quick and weak jabs, one on his chest, one on his face—This was called a Kenko-ho.
This technique could even strike through protective gear. It was a heck of a lot heavier than it looked, so a normal person would have their bones broken by it.
Hearing the sound of the impact piercing through his back, I immediately twisted his arm and kicked him in the face.
“S–Stop it! You’ve won already!”
Hiratsuka’s contact called out, but, you see, he’s not knocked out yet. If I let my guard down, I’ll die.
“Take what you said about my father back!”
—And his shoulder was dislocated by the impact of a merciless kick.
Yet he continued to breathe roughly, desperately holding his chest. His nose was still dripping blood, and his eyes were darting around as if he had a convulsion. It’s amazing he’s still conscious.
I wait for his apology, but he doesn’t say anything back.
“Eh? Toshiki, he can’t talk right now, you know? And was that… Aikido? No, what was that technique? What just happened… I mean, you beat up an underground fighter… I mean, there’s recordings of their fighting skill and all…”
“Classic Toshiki. Though… You were a bit slow, dude.”
Even though she said that, Reika happily held her hand out to me, and we high-fived.
Somehow, a strange nostalgia washes over me—
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