(Much thanks to Johan Frisk for finding Chris Reed's translation of the third novel!)

Introduction by the translator:

I’m not Japanese. I’ve studied the language for years and am pretty good at Kanji, can follow Manga just fine for the most part, watch Anime in the raw, and can read a newspaper article in Japanese as long as I’ve got a couple of dictionaries with me, but I’m not a native speaker. I’ve been to Japan recently and know I can get through at the conversational/business level. But the real question here is: why tackle translating a novel? I’m returning a favor.

I discovered Kimagure Orange Road thanks to the translation of the Manga that you can find elsewhere on this site. I discovered it myself completely by accident. I bought the Manga. I fell in love with the language and began learning it. I found on-line translations for the first two novels. But not the third. My contribution to KOR culture therefore was going to be a translation of the third novel.

But it was harder than I expected. For one thing Kyousuke is back to his stuttering ways. There are two stories, and the second one takes place before the first. Matsumoto-Sensei and Tereda-Sensei decided to be dramatic and colorful with their language. There are idioms in the second story that don’t translate into English well. The first story is very serious, but the second one straight out of anime. There were Kanji not in my dictionaries. And I’m not fluent. The POV jumps all over the place and there are many changes in narrative style, which added to my troubles in getting this right. And DAMN all of Kyousuke’s “wake de ari” endings!

Demo, Ganbarunakutcha! I plugged ahead anyway, and this is the result. I think I’ve done reasonably well. I’ve probably made a few mistakes, and I certainly wouldn’t want my version used as the definitive translation, but I believe I’ve gotten the point of both stories across well because I've done something many translations do not - gone into the emotional thoughts of the characters.

The first story, Madoka’s Private Memory, clears up a few nagging questions that have always dogged the series. How did Madoka become Kimagure in the first place? Why did Kyousuke’s comment about smoking set her off so much in the first episode? Why wasn’t she in a gang?

And how is Hikaru doing after the fantastic events of the second novel?

All these questions and more get answered.

The second story, An Angel’s Dangerous Smile, was tougher and easier. There’s a lot more slang and idioms that don’t translate well into English, but by this point I had the flow down and did as best I could. There are idioms about sex that don’t really translate at all, and I’ve left them as they would be said in Japanese. You should be able to catch on to them when they happen. Occasionally I put a quick comment in, but for the most part I’ve left it alone.

This one’s much funnier, and I’m sure you will be able to picture it as if animated the way the original series was. There’s a lot of reading between the lines you’ll need to do, but if you’re familiar enough with the series to have come this far you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

Anyway, enjoy. If I’ve made a mistake that’s glaring, let me know and I’ll take another look at it. The novel is by Matsumoto Izumi (of course) and Tereda Kenji. Illustrations by Takayuki Goto, which I have also included at a slightly lesser quality than appears in the novel itself. At the end of the novel is a postscript by Matsumoto-san and Tereda-san, plus a couple of final comments by yours truly that will be worth your time, I promise.

Ja ne!

-Chris Reed

San Francisco, January 2002

Contents:

Madoka's Secret Memory

An Angel's Dangerous Smile

Madoka’s Secret Memory

Prologue

Sometimes, I remember Ayukawa Madoka’s surprised face. The time I confessed to her about my power. Like a little girl her eyes went blank and her jaw dropped – then her eyes went round and wide.

Those eyes are always mysterious and precocious – whether or not they seem totally childish.

Although I had confided in her with this most important secret, I was uneasy. Would this drive her away?

But somehow…. She’s lovely….

But somehow it seems to me that I’m the only one who can protect her. But for all that, I couldn’t reach out to her shoulder – I was actually

beginning to feel impatient. But that was only for an instant.

Soon Madoka’s usual cool look returned. Looking me straight in the face she said, “Hey… That’s why. Kasuga-kun always seemed full of secrets.”

Well, I did use the power to come and go between Madoka and Hikaru- chan… Ah, uh, anyway…

Be that as it may, Madoka laughed and said, “Thank you Kasuga-kun, for baring your secret to me.” And then, “You should have a reward," she said, and she kissed me on the lips.

The sweet vinegar smell of her black hair wrapped up my whole body. That was our first real kiss.

Telling her about the Kasuga clan’s secret, now more than ever Madoka kept her mouth shut. Somehow, I think that Madoka will forever keep my deepest secret.

However, that one time…

Surely Ayukawa Madoka wouldn’t tell anyone… No, I can’t share this secret that I have, but that doesn’t mean I can’t trust.

Kasuga Kyousuke, 22 years old.

Hikaru-chan’s kidnapping was settled for the time being, and after we came home from New York… I… I became aware that Madoka had a secret of her own…

Madoka took one step out of the market and felt a cool breeze at the base of her neck, and fastened the collar of her raincoat. The market faced Aoyama Doori and was a fairly high-class place. At the entrance shopping carts were lined up, mixed with people leaving the store. In addition, people who weren’t carrying umbrellas were collecting under the eaves to get out of the sudden rain. The crowd was stitched together in such a way that Madoka decided just to wait for her older sister in a corner under the eaves.

Her sister had said she would get the car from the parking lot in back and bring it around, and had entrusted Madoka with the cart full of the things they had bought.

A HUGE stockpile of wine. Thy wouldn’t be scolded by Ani (Madoka’s older sister’s husband I’m assuming) If he didn’t know… The basket of the cart was crammed full of countless bottles of wine. Lately, Madoka’s sister, who loved to cook, had developed quite a taste for red wine.

Her sister had said that they really couldn’t get the white at the local liquor store so she had been drawn to the rich flavor of the red for her cooking.

Although it was a spring rain, it fell with the force of a summer rain. All the cars on Aoyama Doori seemed to be chased away by the downpour, vanishing to the left or the right. Madoka thought it an interesting spectacle.

The red and yellow cars looked like fairies in the midst of the bright fog the rain seemed to be. Madoka tried to put a melody to this scene, and began to hum. Yet the sound of the rain and something near her drove it away. It was a person under the eaves shaking out a drenched coat.

It was a young man in a white raincoat. In his hand was a business envelope labeled “YAMAZUMI”. The name made Madoka hold her breath. The way “YAMAZUMI” was written, in a bold brush-stroke design, drew her eyes to it.

Besides the name, “Yamazumi Construction” was written on the side. It didn’t feel like it would just be a simple construction company envelope.

The man noticed Madoka’s glance and spoke up. “Excuse me. This is the way to Aoyama It-chome, isn’t it?” he asked. His voice was quiet and composed. Madoka heard it quite clearly.

Usually when a man said something like this, there was usually an underlying motive. But Madoka felt from this man’s voice that he would never do something with such malice.

Madoka raised her eyes from the envelope, took a fresh look at his face, and was probably going to answer his question. However at that instant her face went blank. All the sounds around her were drowned out. The steady flow of raid behind the man’s back on Aoyama Doori became vaguely like a shiny curtain, and the man’s well-put smile looked even better.

To show even further that he had no other ulterior motive, he began asking other people. “Excuse me, but this is the way to Aoyama It-chome, isn’t it?”

As he spent his courteous words, Madoka had a feeling of being a bit out of place. It was obvious that the voice was familiar. Not just the voice though.

The way the eyes were set, the expression of the long nose, the look of his short hair – suddenly, she began to remember the visage of a person from 7 year ago. Mishima Shuujirou.

But Madoka was certain she had seen him die in an accident, before her very eyes.

Part 1

“Ghost?”

Kyousuke shot a quick peek at Madoka’s face.

“Hey, don’t talk so loud. People will think we’re strange.”

The two of them were in a corner of the college cafeteria. At the next table a previously arranged reading circle group looked up at Kyousuke with questioning faces.

“But, Madoka was saying ‘Ghost’?” Kyousuke questioned. “You surprised me, saying such a bad and pretty thing.”

“Bad?” Madoka shot back. “That’s going overboard, don’t you think?” Kyousuke saw Madoka let out a puff of air and felt a bit cross. Madoka

seemed a bit irritated.

“What now? Like I said, ‘Ghost’. Don’t you believe me?” “Hey, hey….”

“Mou! Right here is a ‘superman’, so I don’t think that a ghost or two would be so strange.”

“Damn it, don’t confuse the Kasuga family power with ghosts. But why do you all of a sudden bring up ghosts? Surely you’re not saying it’s someone you met…” As he said it, Kyousuke looked at Madoka’s face once more and for some reason she gave a shrug of her shoulders, which could be takes as a “Yes” or “No” or just smoothing things over.

That Madoka would try to keep up her own appearances was a surprise. Why would I…. Why couldn’t she tell Kyousuke about that person?

From the time she had heard the voice of the man that might be

Shuujirou, Madoka next became aware of herself upon hearing the blaring of the horn of her sister’s car. Her sister’s dark gray Audi was already right in front of her on the street. Madoka realized she had been frozen there for a while as her sister was beckoning her over from the driver’s side window.

Her sister seemed to be urging her on, and many other car horns were now blaring away, so she ran in the direction of the red zone (the actual translation is “red slope”. A no parking zone, perhaps?). Seeing she was saved

from the hustle and bustle under the eaves, she took the cart and ran for the cover of her sister’s car.

“Hey you!” the man shouted at Madoka’s back. Once again his voice didn’t seem dishonest. Even if he was only trying to ask for directions… yes, that was certainly all it was. However, for a man not to have an ulterior motive for Madoka was an eerie feeling. Because of this she began to think more and more that this man must be Mishima Shuujirou.

Madoka took the contents of the cart and roughly put them in the Audi’s trunk, then slid into the backseat. After that Madoka didn’t see the man. No… COULDN’T see him.

The rain started falling even harder. Likely as not, even if Madoka had turned to look back, she surely wouldn’t have had a clear look at his appearance. Still, thanks to the rain not allowing her to see him or to go back and ask, Madoka didn’t have the self-confidence to be sure.

“Madoka.”

At Kyousuke’s call Madoka came back to herself. “Hmm?”

“What’s up? You suddenly spaced out.” “A, um, it’s nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“What?”

“You just didn’t seem to be yourself. This Kimagure Angel, when she blanked out, didn’t seem like your usual self.”

“Not so!”

“Yes, so!” Kyousuke said a bit seriously. Then they both shrugged their shoulders and laughed. “I don’t know why Madoka would be concerned about ghosts, but next time you should ask Ojiisan.”

“Okay.” Madoka allowed a smile to float to her lips. “However…. Ghosts huh… Madoka, did you meet the ghost of

someone you know?”

If she tried to tell him it would sound foolish. Nevertheless, those words pierced her heart. Madoka shrugged her shoulders twice, and said in a small voice “It’s nothing…” and nothing more.

Pretending not to know she had said anything to Kyousuke didn’t make her feel good, but she had a reason she couldn’t talk about that man with Kyousuke.

Mishima Shuujirou, for Madoka, was the first man she had ever allowed to see her nude body.

No, no… I don’t know that.

Kasuga Kyousuke, 22 years old. He was still in her heart even though it had been shaken up.

I didn’t notice it though.

As usual, I was interested in the carefree lifestyle of being a student, getting ready for the annual festival and studying for exams, and after school every day I had an easy part-time job I went to.

However, I soon forgot about Madoka’s ghost.

At that time, a picture postcard arrived from Hikaru-chan. “No! Hikaru-chan’s returned to Hokkaido?”

As there was no lecture today, we were in my room teasing Jingaro. Kurumi and Manami had brought the postcard they had received from Hikaru- chan.

“Yep! For Oniichan from Otaru (a city in Hokkaido)”. “Thought she would. Hikaru-chan has returned from America.” When I said that Manami handed me the postcard. The picture was of

an antique handmade lamp in a shop. The sepia ink gave it a good, feminine feel (talking like a photographer, isn’t he?).

“Do you suppose Hikaru-chan has an audition in a musical there?” Manami asked.

I haven’t yet told my loud younger sisters all that happened in New

York.

“If Hikaru-chan is successful we absolutely have to go give support she

said.”

“Right! And she’s really going to ‘get’ it too!” Kurumi added. “Hmm? ‘Get’? What’s that?”

“Decided. I learned it from Hikaru-chan’s New York boyfriend.” Ah, ‘get’ in English it seems. “Um…”

“Hey hey, you know what she said? Too all her friends? If in the future I become a big star what will everyone think? Kurumi-chan might be a pro baseball player or own some rice fields or something…”

“Kurumi! What the hell are you talking about?”

“Come on, she wants to see Madoka-san and the cute guy she liked if she can.”

“Huh? Ah… well…” (doesn’t feel good)

“Manami-chan and I couldn’t do it alone, but there’s more than enough Kasuga family power to get us there.”

“Kurumi! Absolutely not!”

It’s unheard of to use the Power in this way. Sometimes I just want to wring Kurumi’s neck.

But at that instant…. Fugyaa! Suddenly my field of vision was filled by

a twitching Jingaro, swing his sharp claws at my forehead. “Gyaaa!”

Thanks to Kurumi’s power, the air was filled with the pitiful screams of me and Jingaro. I grabbed the wildly flailing cat. “Kurumi! Manami!”

“Paaa….”

The twin girls fled the room, forgetting the postcard. Man… those two…

It reminded me that they were the same age as Hikaru-chan.

While still holding onto Jingaro, I fell back to my bed. I looked at the reverse side of the sepia photograph and for the first time in a long time saw Hikaru-chan’s writing.

I often saw it during high school, strange little girl-type words, and in truth they made me break out in a cold sweat. But Hikaru-chan’s words clearly felt like an adult’s.

This past summer, when we met in Tokyo… That body… how mature she’s become (what am I saying!) All of that I began to remember.

About two months ago when we left Hikaru-chan in New York somehow it wasn’t with the feeling that we had become close friends again. Hikaru-chan’s letter was well written, about recent bright times,

looking like from a girlfriend.

“Thank you for your recent help in America,” she began formally. “At the end of January I returned to Otaru. I left my apartment in New York pretty much the way it is. I hadn’t seen my parents and how they live in a while, and it’s been fun, but having them worry about me is leaving me numb, so I’m writing.

“However… lately when I try to write to you casually, my chest begins to tighten up…

“Hikaru is okay. So don’t answer. Bye!” Is how it ends, the last of it in English.

“Don’t answer,” she said… In other words, don’t send a reply. She’s fine… well, because she’s fine now her intent is to set me free.

But that’s a strange thing for me to say. As usual, the whole situation between me, Madoka and Hikaru-chan is unresolved in Hikaru-chan’s heart. But I may be reading between the lines.

Until the audition for the musical “The Legend of Atlantis” it had been a good time for Hikaru-chan. But then she had been caught up in the complications of its promotion, and her life had become in danger. When Madoka found out, she flew to America to rescue her.

Hikaru-chan had been kidnapped, and once it became known that it was on the orders of a famous actress named Anita Brussel, it raised quite a fuss in the Americas. After that, “The Legend of Atlantis” which had had Japanese sponsors, upon hearing the extraordinary fate of Anita east-west cultural relations had suffered some friction.

What’s more, on a personal level, because of Anita’s manipulations Hikaru-chan received a huge shock about one of her closest friends. Anzai Shiyuri, who had the same dreams as Hikaru-chan, had devoted herself to lessons and they had become close friends. (You need to read the second novel to understand this part – it doesn’t get explained here).

Unfortunately, the Japanese companies, in the interest of U.S. relations, immediately decided to discontinue their sponsorship. After that, Hikaru- chan’s dream vanished.

Hikaru-chan found out when she was in the hospital in New York. Her parents had rushed there from Japan. Upon hearing the news about the

cancellation of the musical, she clamped her lips shut and fell silent. Her parents left the room and I thought I should too, so Hikaru-chan clung to Madoka’s chest and cried her eyes out. Her parents and I could hear her cries from the corridor for quite some time. At that time, Hikaru-chan’s mother spoke as if this were all my fault.

“For that girl, at this time, only Madoka-chan is this important.” The reason those two are separated… Kyousuke, isn’t it you? Madoka and I left New York a few days later, before Hikaru-chan’s

parents.

When she saw us off at the airport, Hikaru-chan’s bright smile was back. Whatever it was, after that moment, she seemed to me to be one or two steps closer to being an adult. To me she felt radiant.

“Hikaru, will you be coming home?” Madoka asked.

Hikaru-chan lightly shook her head and shrugged. “My dad’s about to confront me about it. He wants to go home by tomorrow.”

“That’s what parents do.”

Me, I couldn’t say anything… I laughed foolishly with an empty smile. However…

“Kasuga Sempai, Madoka-san? How is Shiyuri doing?” We had trine to mention it as little as possible, but Hikaru-chan had dared to ask.

Anzai Shiyuri. She had been enticed by Anita Brussel as well, but she wasn’t the perpetrator who had brought Hikaru-chan into all of this – of that I’m sure. Although the police had arrested her, because of her awareness of what had been done to Hikaru-chan, her state of mind seemed to fall apart. We had hear she was now being treated by a psychiatrist.

“The police said that if she gets treatment, then they can start to investigate,” Madoka said simply. Hikaru-chan hadn’t seen that Shiyuri’s situation wasn’t very good.

“As always, a bit slow. That kid double-crossed you. It would certainly be okay to hate her.”

“No way, Madoka san!” “What?”

“’It would certainly be okay to hate her’.”

“Ah… If you say so… it would seem a bit strange…” I said. “Okay then, just Kyousuke.” Madoka said.

Madoka began to pout, then let out a long exhale. Hikaru-chan did to, and let out a boisterous “Ha ha ha” laugh, like old friends again. However…

“All right Madoka-san, all right. If I absolutely have to return to Japan I think I will be mad at Shiyuri. However…”

“However…?”

“Yes. However… This is New York. There’s a reason it’s a place of huge successes and bottomless ravines. This is where I first met Shiyuri, after all. The idea was to realize or not realize the end of the dream together. Therefore… I…”

“Hikaru-chan?” I started.

“Therefore I… fell sorry for Shiyuri. Not good huh?” “Hikaru. Are you saying you forgive her?”

“No way. Hikaru’s not that kind. I absolutely can’t forgive Shiyuri. Won’t forgive.” That’s what Hikaru-chan said, and her face was having trouble keeping that smile.

“But you know, for her sake, I think I want Shiyuri to keep living

here.”

Madoka and I didn’t have a good response for that and we just exchanged glances, but Hikaru-chan still had that same smile.

“Maybe there’s a special kindness that floats in the air here in New York.”

“Kindness?”

“Yes… everyone lives with the inevitableness of death – and that can’t be changed. At least here this brings out kindness… so I believe.”

Madoka looked Hikaru-chan square in the face. Right then her eyes were like a gentle goddess. But soon she deliberately returned to her sharp glance, just like old times, and spoke with her old authority. “Hey… so that’ what you’ve come to say, Hikaru.”

“Ha ha! I apologize for my impertinent words, Madoka-san.” Like old times, Hikaru-chan bowed her head to Madoka. But this was the limit of Madoka’s old front. Hikaru-chan’s name was blurted out softly, and as if that were the signal she was waiting for Hikaru-chan abruptly raised her head and held her tight. Like a dam bursting they both began to cry.

Hikaru-chan’s voice began to sound as if she had come undone, and then she couldn’t stand it any longer and held on to Madoka with all her might.

The two of them stood like that until we heard the final boarding announcement, in a tight embrace.

Hikaru-chan… as I thought she would, at least for now has come home. While laying down on my bed I set Hikaru-chan’s picture postcard in a

stand. That way if Madoka came across it by change, she would wonder if it came from Hikaru-chan, I thought. I knew that she was always getting these postcards from Hikaru-chan. But maybe if she saw one for me another must also be coming for her.

I grabbed hold of the cordless phone next to the stand and called Madoka. Probably today she would be working on a composition at home. Although she said she didn’t like writing pop tunes, a very popular artist had asked, and she certainly couldn’t turn that one down.

Madoka is never one to sponge off her parents. While saying that due to her talent and hard work she had sold a few songs, it still bothered her.

The phone rang 4 times, than the answering machine picked up. Did she go to town for a diversion? She had said that this new

composition was due quickly, so I suppose she’ll soon be home.

I said “Suppose so” and got myself up, picked up Hikaru- chan’s picture postcard and headed out. Anyway, I don’t have anything more important to do. I thought I’d show it to Madoka to keep her encouraged. Besides, Madoka will be under the impression that I went to class.

I have a duplicate key (sorry, I carry a key of the Ayukawa residence!) and I’ll let myself in the back door to surprise

her.

…However…I….

That this would cause me such a shock… if I can speak plainly, I have never dreamed.

Relying on Madoka… I know almost everything about her, but my confidence in this crumbled…

I snuck into Madoka’s house, but she hadn’t come home yet. But apparently she was in the middle of working – the Macintosh she used when she composed was still on. The monitor was showing her favorite 3-D screen saver. It was an animated, egg-shaped rocket that flew strangely.

But nearby, this pretty girl I love – she had out a bunch of old pictures and albums.

Who is this?

As I picked up the photograph, I touched the mouse with my forefinger. The egg-shaped rocked quickly disappeared, and Madoka’s usual screen returned. When the screen came back, I took a deep breath.

Mishima Shuujirou. Why was that name written countless times on the screen? Madoka had never mentioned that name. Madoka had spaced out at the monitor, probably pressing one key that repeated the entire name over and over – it hit me like a body blow. Rather like a violent shock wave.

Again, I picked up one of the scattered photographs. A sailor-suited Madoka had an older man holding her shoulder, but when this was or what she was thinking I couldn’t tell.

What the…?

This is Ayukawa Madoka? I knew that long ago Madoka had been a rebellious one. When I met her and her protégé Hikaru-chan in junior high they seemed to say “we’re tough!” But because of this demon-like or thug-like attitude (lately, that’s not a phrase I’ve wanted to hear) so-called skirt-chaser wouldn’t chase them, and they seemed to stay out of that world.

Although… the Madoka in the photo was the same girl?

The man had a hand on her shoulder, but she seemed self-conscious or not all together there…

Unnnnh…..

Hey, Kyousuke, this isn’t the place for moaning! Unnnnh…

But all I could do was stare at Madoka’s photograph… For a very long time… ‘till the end of time.

After a while I noticed that the Mac’s screen saver had returned. But now, in my state of despair, the things it did and the comical electronic voice just made me annoyed.

Part 2

Madoka crossed the pedestrian crossing at Aoyama Doori, heading for Nishi Azabu and entered Tsuushou Kotsu Tou Doori (real place – Literal translation is Popular Antique Street). The name of the street came from all the expensive antique and art shops that people could come to after lunch at nearby restaurants to window shop at their leisure.

From there the market that Madoka and her sister had come to several days before on that rainy day was before her. From there Madoka learned that Yamazumi Construction Company was participating in the construction of an apartment complex, and had just headed towards that residential street.

After that day Madoka had been unable to get Mishima Shuujirou out of her mind. After talking to Kyousuke about ghosts she couldn’t get it out of her head.

Speaking of Shuujirou, somehow she had put all of that behind her since his death, but the fact he might still be alive she couldn’t understand. Madoka was the type to stare reality right in the face. Unlike Kyousuke and Hikaru, living in a fantasy world or pursuing unrealistic dreams were not her style. Probably since she’s been separated from her parents from a young age, getting to the bottom of things was nothing else if not a way to protect herself and get the feel for things.

First, she checked the yellow pages for a “Yamazumi” Construction company. What relation the person who looked like Shuujirou had to this company she didn’t know. But the first clue was the name on the envelope he had been carrying.

There were 10 office of Yamazumi Construction in Tokyo. Madoka called each one from start to finish. She spent much of her work time making inquiries, but they weren’t able to give her much in the way of answers, and would suddenly cut her off. But Madoka is a student too, and once her mind was made up she wouldn’t back down in her search.

Therefore, choosing her timing carefully, she asked workers and people coming in and out of their offices if Mishima Shuujirou worked there, but because of privacy concerns (one would suppose) she was unable to obtain the information. But with various give and take she was able to obtain some precious information.

She called the Yamazumi Construction in Minato-ku. It seemed to be an old family-managed business. Not the best place to find a first-class business concerned with large-scale projects. However, it did get a lot of incorrect inquiries form those who thought it was the “other” Yamazumi Construction. A kind-sounding man told her about the main district office downtown. Their new office in an apartment building under construction might be of assistance. It would be found on a residential street off of Aoyama Doori. Upon hearing this, Madoka quickly understood.

She was sure that the man who looked like Shuujirou had inquired of Madoka the direction to Aoyama It-chome. Naturally somebody around the office or nearby might be around, so there was no reason someone wouldn’t know. Soon Madoka called the new office, having obtained the information from the other Yamazumi Construction.

This office was in the direction of Hokuri-ku. After Madoka had called, they sent her correspondence. Once Madoka was certain that this construction company was presently involved in the construction of the Tokyo apartment building, her heart began to pound. She took a deep breath and after many times of calling and not having any breath she finally managed to ask the question.”

“Is there a Mishima Shuujirou there?”

The middle-aged receptionist, without any suspicions about the situation, answered as if there were even more intimate. “Well well! You know Shuu-chan?”

The local kindness, from her viewpoint, redoubled her shock. Suddenly she felt light-headed. But the middle-aged receptionist seemed more excited and asked “Where do you know Shuu-chan from?

“Good lord, could you be his old girlfriend?”

Madoka, shaking as if possessed and shaking hear head heavily, politely hung up the phone.

Beep! Beep!

Once Madoka had entered the residential neighborhood from Tsuushou Kotsu Tou Doori, a shrill sound cut through the dry air. A woman about her age, wearing a construction uniform, was directing traffic in front of the site. Although up until now this had been a man’s industry, lately the cause of young women has been on the rise.

Using up some of the day, Madoka got friendly with this brisk woman and then followed her directions through an alley, then was standing before the apartment building construction site.

The building would be square-shaped upon its completion. Opposite a surrounding fence and cover, a building you couldn’t get a complete view of soared above.

Madoka turned the knob in the door in the fencing. Then, nervously facing a past she had expected to leave behind, pushed open the door.

“Hikaru-chan? What? I can’t hear you!”

I pressed the cordless phone close to my ear and signaled my younger sisters (noisy, in their seats) to be quiet. To make matters worse, ABCB was crowded with lunchtime customers. In addition to Kurumi and Manami, adding Jii-chan to the mix made the clamor even greater.

Hmm? Why were we with Jii-chan?

Well, generation after generation of Kasuga men have enjoyed the company of women… ah… no… I mean that Jii-chan especially has a weakness for “perfect” young girls. Right now, by chance he was having lunch with Kurumi and her friends, engrossing them with mysterious divinations and making the scream with excitement.

However… The Kasuga Clan has long thought that divining the future of girls was easy. Truth is, it’s just the desire to hold the girl’s hand and prattle

and hold on to them.

“Senpai! Kasuga-Senpai!”

At the other end of the line Hikaru-chan had raised her voice. “Anyway, Mishima Shuujirou was someone who helped Madoka-san

and I when we were still delinquents.”

“Uh, yeah, no… I know it was from junior high school. I saw a picture…”

“Eh? What did you say?” “Uh, eh, er, nothing, nothing.”

“No way Sempai – you always say that! Nothing, nothing.” “Ah, no, ha ha ha.”

Hikaru-chan was cackling brightly. I always have felt a bit relieved to hear it.

After coming across the photo of Mishima Shuujirou by accident at Madoka’s place, after seeing the photo, I wanted to know Madoka’s selfishly- kept secret, yet at the same time… but… if I confronted her directly she’d say “How do you know about that!”, become very offended, and run away. (It actually says “Flee town” but that strikes me as an overreaction, even from Kyousuke).

Anyway, truth was, I just wanted to end my own suffering and understand it all… anyway… anyway what kind of man is Mishima Shuujirou… I didn’t know and I thought I wanted to.

But! If… I asked about the name that was written all over the Mac monitor, saying to Madoka “Hey! What are you doing? Who is this man?” or something like that, but I couldn’t act like a gangster or some sort of Yakuza.

How about… “Madoka… For our hearts, can’t we just forgive? Come rushing to my heart!” like that, but I can’t be as graceful as some trendy drama male.

On that occasion I had received that postcard… she had said it was okay not to answer.

But under the circumstances… About this one thing I might be able to ask Hikaru-chan about Madoka and this man named Mishima Shuujirou – and I thought that could give results.

But getting that result – calling Hikaru-chan – put me under a considerable amount of pressure.

Why? Because that summer of our last year of high school… after Hikaru-chan and I broke up, I had never called her since. That’s why I called her during the lunch rush at ABCB, even though it was noisy. I said, “I just remembered something I have to do…”

I was trying to come up with a casual way to begin the topic (besides, I didn’t want Kurumi and company to think I wasn’t there to eat with Jii-chan!)

“But Sempai? Why are you asking about Mishima Shuujirou now?” “Um, well… it’s nothing… no, Madoka was saying that she wondered

if Hikaru-chan was okay.” “Yes…”

“The she was talking about old times. She wondered if Hikaru-chan might remember a person named Mishima…”

“Madoka-san said that?” “Hmm? Well…”

“I don’t think so! I can’t forget him. Shuujirou-san was a great, great, great benefactor to me and Madoka-san.”

“Benefactor?”

“Yep! For me he was a role model. For Madoka-san… For Madoka- san… he was…”

Hikaru-chan stopped speaking, he words seeming a bit sad. “What’s wrong? Hikaru-chan? For Madoka he was… what?”

“Ah, er, um, nothing! Kya kya kya! (Hikaru screams) Senpai, are you jealous?”

“Huh? Ah, er, no… no I’m not…”

“It’s all right. It’s nothing to worry about. Madoka-san and I were kids. Besides, Shuujirou-san isn’t around anymore.”

“Isn’t around? You mean he went somewhere overseas?” “Oh? You haven’t heard?”

“Huh?” “Shuujirou-san died.” “Wh… What did you say?” “Right in front of us.” “No way…!”

I suppose it was sixth sense, a little like a memory clamoring at my chest. Madoka has… Madoka has gotten herself wrapped up in something unbelievable.

“Senpai? Kasuga Senpai?”

“Ah, hmm. I he.. hear you Hikaru-chan.”

“Humph. But what’s Madoka-san thinking? She didn’t tell Senpai that Shuujirou-san had died, did she.”

“Huh?”

At that moment, suddenly, a loud sound began from the keyboard. After 6pm at ABCB, Master’s friends would gather and the place

would become a Live House. In the afternoon it was a normal café. But occasionally in the afternoon, when they could meet, when they had spare time form work Master’s friends would drop by and they would use the instruments already set up to play 2 or 3 songs.

The person who had started playing the keyboard was a man who worked for a nearby taxi company we all knew as Paku-san. Seems he had finished his lunch and was full.

“Can you hear me Senpai?”

I could only barely hear Hikaru-chan.

Although I thought I wanted to inquire more of Hikaru-chan, I was a bit scared to do so.

Madoka had met Mishima Shuujirou… no, his ghost, somewhere, I was certain.

And to now have Hikaru-chan seem to say that Madoka has some reason to not… not tell me.

“Sorry, Hikaru-chan, I really can’t hear you. I’ll call you back. Thanks.”

Because Paku-san’s keyboard now played the sound of an ocean and was quieter, I could hear Hikaru-chan. “Take care of Madoka-san,” she was saying.

I hung up the phone and nodded an acknowledgement to Master over at the counter. Master spoke while putting a plate of Hamburger Rice on the counter.

“It must take a lot of courage to call Hikaru-chan. Did that idiot Paku bother you?”

“It’s okay. Here. I’ll take that. I don’t have class today, so I’ll work off the cost of the phone call to Hokkaido.”

“Hey hey! Don’t be so formal with me. Don’t worry about it. Act like that around me and I’ll leave this town.”

“Huh?”

Master gave me a friendly wink. I’ve known him since junior high. I immediately softened my expression and could see through his state.

“What…? You have something in mind, I’m sure.” “Uh, well…”

I laughed and took the Hamburger Rice Master had put on the counter and took it to a nearby customer.

“Now then, Kyousuke!”

When did Ojii-chan leave his seat?

“First of all you should take Master at his word when he gives advice.” “Ojii-chan?”

“Kyousuke. Madoka-chan saw that man’s ghost, I suppose.” “Huh? Ojii-chan, you were eavesdropping, weren’t you.”

For a long time now the Kasuga clan has thought of eavesdropping as an interest. Ojii-chan’s power is very strong, so doing something like listening in on Hikaru-chan and my conversation would be simple.

“Special circumstance. Listen, Kyousuke. Suppose that ghost is real. If Madoka-chan speaks with it than there could be real trouble.”

“Huh? Tro… trouble?”

Ojii-chan furrowed his eyes. Then he began to say something amazing. “If that ghost has something is cares about in the real world, it’s an

Akuryou that can’t rest in peace… It might have been holding on to another person.”

“Akuryou?”

“Hmm. Yes. An Akuryou is a spirit that wanders this world many years after it’s death under bad circumstances.”

“Oh no…”

“Kyousuke. Go search for Madoka-chan! An Akuryou that has a solid grip on this world doesn’t have the power to reach the next life. To reach Nirvana it must wrap itself up in a living person. Besides, there may be some deeper fate involved.”

“Wha… What did you say?”

“While Madoka-chan is trying to get answers from him, the Akuryou will certainly carry away her soul.”

Ojii-chan and I immediately called over Kurumi and Manami, then split up to search for Madoka.

Madoka turned around upon feeling a tap at her shoulder. A tall man in a company uniform stood there. Embroidered on his chest was the word “YAMAZUMI”. He must work at the same company as Mishima Shuujirou.

“Oops. I tried to tell you, but you weren’t listening.”

It seemed that Madoka hadn’t reacted for a long time, so apparently this young man had tapped her shoulder. Madoka had a good feeling about this simple young man.

“When you hear something, please notice, okay?”

The lunch break had just ended, and the sound of people operating machinery could be heard. If she would wait in the temporary office, the man named Mishima Shuujirou had left for a lunchtime appointment. Madoka turned down the offer and waited for Mishima in a corner. Although lunchtime was over, Mishima had not yet returned.

“You can’t wait here.” A luminous smile seemed to float on the man’s face. “If it’s all right, there’s a hotel across the way. Over there.” In the direction the man pointed was a hotel called Shitei Hotel (no bad puns, please).

“On the top floor is a café. If it’s all right with you, please wait there. When Shuu-chan comes back…”

“Oh, sorry…”

“Don’t be. He’ll just be angry with me.” “Huh?”

“Ah… once a woman visited Shuu-chan and waited here. I got scolded.” The tall man bowed politely.

Probably Shuujirou would feel too conspicuous in a public place. The waiting Madoka bowed her head in apology, if she had caused any trouble.

Now Madoka was even more convinced that this Shuujirou was the right one. The man she knew was still the same one the young ones had admired and had come to rely on.

But the fact that Shuujirou was still alive; no explanation made any sense. If she remembered right, he had died right before her eyes.

Madoka remembered a science fiction novel that Kyousuke had read. It was about a newly married couple, the husband of which had been possessed by an Akuryou when he was a boy and the two held joint ownership over the wife, painted as black humor.

“Did you say something?”

The young man appeared before Madoka’s face. His sudden, silent appearance left Madoka flustered.

“It’s all right. Nothing.”

Madoka made an effort to smile and walked towards the hotel. She was starting to regret not confiding in Kyousuke.

“Kyada! Kyada! Kyada-----!” (gotta love how she screams)

When Hikaru-chan came through the entrance, she saw me and suddenly screamed.

“Kyada! Kyada!”s came in rapid succession, like a fist at my chest. (Oh, in case you didn’t know, “Kyada” is Hikaru-chan’s way of saying “Yada”). But Hikaru-chan’s surprise was justified. It must have been only two

hours since I spoke with Hikaru-chan on the phone at ABCB that I was now visiting her home in Otaru, Hokkaido.

There was no mistaking Hikaru-chan’s “Kyada! Kyada~! <<heart>>!” This was an emergency, so a quick explanation is due.

Me, Ojii-chan and my twin sisters quickly left ABCB. Kurumi went to search Madoka’s and my college; Manami to check Madoka’s friends; Ojii- chan to various shops Madoka frequented… I went to the studio and production places Madoka had told me she used for work, using the Kasuga family Power to warp (teleport) to each one respectively. Even though I’m always reminding Kurumi and Manami “Don’t use the Power.”

Now it came to good use while scrambling to contact her, desperately searching for Madoka.

But… even making full use of the Kasuga family Power, finding Madoka in such a big city was something we couldn’t make simple. So I received the following instruction from Ojii-chan:

“Kyousuke, it can’t be helped. You need to go to the past to make sure this Mishima died.”

“Make sure of his death?”

“Yes. How he died. I suppose you can ascertain that. In case he wasn’t able to go to the next life, understand? Warmly consign him to oblivion.”

“No… No way… Consign him to oblivion?”

“Idiot! Kyousuke, I told you a soul that can’t go to the next world will become an Akuryou. Do you think it’s okay for Madoka-chan to be joined to the world of the dead?”

“Bu… but what point in time should I return to?” As soon as I said it it occurred to me. Of course! Hikaru-chan!

If I were to take Hikaru-chan with me to the past, certainly we could go to where he was.

“Hey! Hey! Senpai. How did you get here from ABCB so quickly?” The “Kyada! Kyada!” had settled down for the moment, typical

Hikaru-chan (sorry I said that) and asked a realistic question. “Hmm? Ah, well, I used the telephone line.” “Telephone line?”

“Ah, no no. A lie! A lie! Ha… ha hah… it would be great to have that kind of power… Not.” (just kidding).

“Bwa ha ha ha!” Hikaru-chan let out a huge laugh, an example of a pleasure-filled laugh. Anyway, far brighter than anything I had heard before.

“I don’t believe this! You were lying when you said you were at ABCB. Where? Where? What café were you calling from? There are some nice café’s around here, aren’t there?”

“Ah no, a haha.”

“Well anyway, welcome to Otaru. Welcome Senpai. Hey, you didn’t come with Madoka-san?”

“Hmm? Ah, no. That’s right. Not together. Hikaru-chan and I should search for her, you think?”

“Huh? For Madoka-san?” “Yes. In the past.”

In the very next instant Hikaru-chan’s eyes became points, upon hearing this. (But not a sound!)

Anyway, now that I was here, explaining this and that couldn’t be helped.

With a grunt (“Ei!”) I concentrated the Power in my forehead.

I was able to make Hikaru-chan faint. I held her in my arms and flung ourselves into a gap in time.

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…”

Ialready 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.”

Icould 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.

Part 4

After pushing Madoka off, Mishima Shuujirou had something else to do. Madoka had just lit his cigarette, and then one of Shuujirou’s gang came rushing in, covered in blood. The many young men who had sought out Shuujirou once they knew the despair he had bee reduced to had announced

they were going to attack the opposition group. Besides, they wanted another shot at them after having fallen apart so badly at the last fight.

“Idiots!” More and more they think they can put pressure on us!” Shuujirou said this quickly while hopping onto his 750cc bike. Before Madoka could ask anything more, there were off.

“Senpai! After this Madoka and I followed in a taxi!” Hikaru-chan seemed to be following her memory. “Huh?”

“Unbelievable stuff is about to happen. The police… the police wanted to crush the gang in one swift stroke…”

“Police?”

After junior high Madoka flew out of the warehouse, I grabbed onto Hikaru-chan and once again dropped us into the time stream.

Just as Hikaru-chan had said, somewhere near the Yokohama Port, bike exhaust notes, sirens, and from a speaker somewhere the trailing voice of the police, all adding up to a huge amount of noise.

Both groups of gangs from 3 days ago were back, but who was lively was very different. All the ones fighting alongside Shuujirou seemed the active group. The opposing group now struck at Shuujirou and the others with all their might.

But the local boys didn’t have any reason to not le the police see too much. A patrol car pushed it’s way through, right into the midst of the 2 groups.

“Hikaru-chan… where are you and Madoka?”

Hikaru-chan and I were looking out over the dispute from the roof of a building near the Marina tower. However, from places facing the port like Yamashita Park and Chinatown, a real mob was forming. Will all of this I certainly couldn’t find the two young girls.

“Hmm… If memory serves right the taxi brought us as far as the outskirts of Chinatown. Ah1 Over there!”

I looked in the direction Hikaru-chan was pointing, and sure enough getting out of a taxi were the junior high aged Madoka and Hikaru-chan. Although they intended to get to Shuujirou and the rest, the rabble effectively blocked them from joining the others.

Just then “Kasuga-senpai!” Hikaru-chan said in a strained voice as she seized my arm.

“…Hikaru-chan?”

“Senpai… Senpai’s Power… What kind of Power is it?” “Huh?”

“Senpai’s Power… Shuujirou-san… Can you save Shuujirou-san’s

life?”

“Tha… that’s…”

I was at a loss for words at Hikaru-chan’s question. There was a real chance that this was the time that Shuujirou was supposed to die. At that

moment, if I intervened, I probably could save him. But if I did that… if I changed the reality of a dead person in the past, I would change the lives of the people around him as well.

Even with my power, I didn’t think there was a way to do it… On top of that, Ojii-chan had said that I would have to deal with Shuujirou’s Akuryou…

“Senpai! Well? You can same Shuujirou-san, can’t you? Save him for

me?”

“Hi… Hikaru-chan…”

“Madoka said it before. We… I and Madoka-san owe Shuujirou-san… and Ryouko-san… we’re in their debt… so please… Please save Shuujirou- san!”

Tears were welling up in Hikaru-chan’s eyes. Those eyes were pleading with me with all her heart… I… suddenly it was all my responsibility… it felt like it was not completely my responsibility.

However, Hikaru-chan… this. This… I can’t do.

I can’t!

Just then “Gaga-----n!” A terrible sound rang out. At the same time a

shriek that was somehow admirable could be heard.

But, just then the Hikaru-chan next to me scolded and yelled at me. “Kasuga-senpai! Hurry!”

Amidst all the spectacle of confusion of the people this had floated to the top. It had somehow come to the periphery of the city streetlights.

“Shuujirou-san!”

Shuujirou’s 750cc bike flew over the hood of a blocking patrol car, and from the air attacked his opposite’s bike.

“Senpai! Save him, Shuujirou-san is going to die! …Senpai!” Hikaru-chan’s nails bit into my arm. But… I… I couldn’t look Hikaru-

chan in the face.

“Hikaru-chan… I’m sorry!” “No… no way…”

The front wheel of Shuujirou’s bike hit an opposing boy’s helmet full in the face, sending it flying. At the same time, Shuujirou lost his balance and practically fell headfirst back onto the asphalt.

“No…….! Senpai you idiot!” As if she had gone mad, Hikaru-chan hit

my arm with her fist. “Hi… Hikaru-chan!”

But just then I… as all this was happening I inferred a sign of something.

A sign of something?

No, not just something. Undoubtedly it was the sign of the Kasuga family – now, the feel that the Power was used.

What? Wait a minute! This seems an awful lot like a spectacle I’ve seen long before.

Shuujirou’s bike had already slammed into the asphalt. The police had already surrounded all the boys who had laid down. But the opposing group were shook by his heroic death, and one by one they all got back up, and were struggling with the police.

Heroic… death?

No. Truth was, this man named Shuujirou just by chance had encountered the Power; he had narrowly escaped and his life had been saved.

From the direction of Chinatown, coming right into the middle of the rabble, was the Kasuga Kyousuke of seven years ago… Me.

“Hikaru-chan…”

Hikaru-chan had her face buried in my chest and was crying her eyes out. I softly picked up her face, while Shuujirou toppled and the nearest group in the crowd began to point.

“I’m sorry, Hikaru-chan… but I’ve just remembered something.” “Wh… what?”

“Ah, well, take a look. I’m over there.” “Huh? Senpai is…?”

“If I remember right, that day we were getting ready to move to the next town, and me and the rest of my family had gone to see the town… but before going home we had gone to Yokohama’s Chinatown for dinner.”

“No… no way!”

Shuujirou was lost in the surrounding policemen and the crowd, and clearly different from all the boys was a cheerfully talking group of four.

“Se… Senpai! There’s your dad, Kurumi-chan and Manami-chan too.” “Yep. Right then we were having a bit of a dispute.”

“Huh?”

“No!! What are you doing onii-chan, using the power…” Manami was saying. And there was Kurumi saying, “that’s right, that’s right. We had to leave the last town because out power had been discovered you know…”

Hikaru-chan, tears still in those pretty eyes, bit by bit began to laugh. Then we heard, “It can’t be helped. Did you just want to sit silently by and watch that person die?”

“Kasuga-senpai said that, didn’t he.” “Yes.”

“So, so you did save him after all. Shuujirou-chan.”

“Aa… that’s what it looks like. Of course, I didn’t know about Madoka or Hikaru-chan yet…”

Ah ha ha… I laughed, trying to cheat a bit with all that I hadn’t remembered until now… But Hikaru-chan still seemed to be crying although a laugh did come out.

“Hi… Hikaru-chan… I… I’m sorry…”

From Hikaru-chan’s big eyes tears fell like drops and fallen seeds. She shook her head hard… then said in a hoarse voice, “Senpai… I can’t stand this…”

“Huh?”

“I can’t stand it anymore.” “Hikaru-chan?”

“Besides… you’re Madoka-san’s boyfriend, and not just that… still happy… but… some sign of thanks is needed.”

“Hikaru-chan?”

The next instant Hikaru-chan hugged me close. Then she kissed my cheeks over and over again. “Thank you… thank you senpai!”

Aha… a ha ha ha…

I… that is… well… there was nothing I could do… This storm of thank you kisses from Hikaru-chan I gladly accepted.

But shortly Hikaru-chan was going “Ahhhh! I kissed him! Kissed him!” and her usual bright laugh returned… and then as if she suddenly remembered something hey eyes went as big as plated.

“Wait a moment… what was Shuujirou-san doing? Why did he make us all think he had died?”

I certainly didn’t have an answer for that question.

Epilogue

“Why did I disappear from all of you?”

Mishima Shuujirou’s smile had changed little from 7 years previous, and he still smoked Short Hopes. His handsome face shone in the afternoon sun.

Madoka was excited to know that Shuujirou still lived. But on the other hand, mysteriously, he no longer seemed to have been part of the same world they had once lived in. In this manner Mishima Shuujirou was a mystery to Madoka.

“That’s right. To Hikaru and me it was a huge shock. We couldn’