Chapter 14: Yuu’s New Occupation (Distraction)
Her head kept bobbing and her gaze kept dipping from the board and onto her lap unconsciously. The pencil slipped out of her grasp repeatedly. In order to stay awake, she had to blink continuously and fixate her eyes on the board and her ears on the teacher’s words about mundane affairs instead of zoning out. Her mind kept drifting away to a hazy image of her bed. She had to use her hand as support to keep her face up and straight forward.
“...and that is the end for today. For homework be sure to read chapters nine to ten. Your assignment is to write an essay about what you have learned on the topic and why it’s imperative such events occurred in history.”
“Yes, Kenta-sensei.” They all chanted together. After receiving a bow from his students, he left the classroom. The moment they saw the hem of his shirt vanish behind the door, they all relaxed. Chatter commenced in a swift manner, the thought that they had a limited amount of time for break remained as a reminder for them to take advantage of it as much as they could.
Himari shot a quick glimpse at Natsumi then peeked back at Yuu. He looked up from his paper and gave her a slight nod. She jabbed her thumb in the direction next to her and he drew his lips and turned away surly. Knowing him for a while now, it was obvious that the word “morose” defined him currently, but it didn’t only apply to him.
“Wha–?” Outraged by his reaction she tried to capture his attention and redirect it to Natsumi multiple times throughout the period only for those attempts to become failures.
“Why should I worry about her?” He grumbled, chomping down his chocolate pocky. The thin snack broke each time he chomped down on it with a loud ‘pock!’. It was now lunchbreak. They lounged in the hallway in order to escape from Natsumi’s ears. “She didn’t even appreciate my concern for her, so why should I care? Even gave me an attitude too.”
“I understand that but…” her head drooped. “Well, Akira isn’t here since he’s off doing whatever spirit things he has to do, so you’re really the only one we can count on.”
A tiny smile formed on his face. “...is that so?”
“Y-yeah!” She clasped her hands together. “So, please Lord Yuu, who’s so magnanimous and benevolent; this pitiful servant begs you to lend a hand!”
His chin was pointed towards the sky and he had no choice but to be the good-natured person he is. “Well…I have no choice but to give into your earnest and sincere pleading.”
‘Ugh, this guy is too easy.’ She shriveled inside her mind.
It was hard to not notice that her complexion didn’t look good to him–especially since his gaze was always drawn to her direction. But today she was off. Her whole body looked sluggish and every time she almost gave into fatigue or whatever force that had made her so tired, she would snap awake. It was pretty amusing to see her in a trance then rush to pretend that she was paying attention to class. However, his tenderness towards girls wouldn’t allow him to just sit and do anything. So when the coast was clear, he rushed to grab his chance.
“I-Izanami-sa-no, Izanami, are you alright?”
She nodded. “Yeah…yeah I’m alright.”
“You don’t look so well, would you like me to send you to the nurse's office?”
“No, I’m fine. I’m fine…” Her words trailed off but she kept mumbling the same words like a broken robot. “Fine…fine…I’m…fine.”
“You don’t seem alright. Here let me—”
“No, it’s fine.” And this time it wasn’t her who insisted.
His hand flinched. Yuu stopped him before he could move any further.
“What are you doing, Tsukasa-kun?” He gnarred. His reproachful eyes looked at his hands that were so close to her.
“Izanami doesn’t seem to be feeling well so—”
“I’ll take care of her.” He interrupted, curtly. Their eyes were glued to each other intensely then he faltered.
“Alright, I’ll entrust Izanami to you…. You do know her better compared to me.” It took him a bit to gather himself and return to his seat with a grudging smile. It was to be expected. His relationship with her couldn’t be compared to his.
“Let’s get you up.” Yuu wrapped one of her arms around his neck and hauled her up. Himari rushed to help and took up her other arm. Together, they carried her carefully out of the classroom with many stares and whispers of a mixture of worry and curiosity. It was only when they arrived at the vacant nurse’ office that they settled her down in a chair.
Himari bit her lip anxiously. “What should we do?”
“I’ll take her home.” He replied. She was fast asleep and didn’t seem to be aware of what was going on. “I’ll invoke doppelgangers to take our place. You get back to class, I’ll handle it from here.”
When she left, he lifted Natsumi up in his arms. He could feel his heart palpitate at the short distance between them. If he leaned in a bit more…no! What was he thinking? It was inappropriate for him to think of such things with a defenseless and a sleeping person!
He gulped and took a deep breath. The image of his room appeared in his mind and he concentrated his every thought into it. When he opened his eyes he found himself at his desired destination. Setting her down on his bed was a struggle. It was hard to not just throw her into it, and it was even harder to not yell at her to wake up. It would be funny to him, but it wouldn’t be right to her. But right now, the more important matter should be taken care of first.
“Why is it unwinding after I sealed it not so long ago?” He put a hand to his chin as he sat at the edge of the bed, examining her mana flow. It was about to gush out again. Her condition looked to be about the same as what occurred before, yet the strings of mana flying out her was bizarre. It was thin, but sharp. Just one touch made his finger become scratched and start to bleed.
Her audacity to sleep in his presence made him chuckle. “If I didn’t help you, you would be dead by now.”
After coating his hands in his own mana he plunged into business. Twisting and untangling, then yanking all the ‘corruption’ out of her was hard labor. If one was not careful enough and attentive to his work, everything would’ve gone wrong. Large mana circles spun around her body and kept her attacks in check—acting as a protection shield. He could count the number of times when she tried to kill him—without her even knowing—on his fingers if they were multiplied by hundreds. She fell into convulsions, but even through all of that, her eyes remained firmly shut. As difficult as it was for him to handle all her incessant attacks, he did his best to relieve her pain by casting a spell simultaneously to act as a form of anesthetic. On the other end, Natsumi’s face would smooth out then break and twist in pain with fat drops of sweat pouring out of her. She would groan, and mumble words that he couldn’t understand throughout time.
He clapped his hands together, dusting off the remnants of his magic when he was finished.
“Extra strong seal? Check. Seems to be more durable than the last,” he mumbled while placing his hands on each seal and pressing magic against it to test their strengths, “that’s good. Now, recovery magic? Check. Gotta add some more mana into this one….Aha! Shield is a bit off. There! Now…with some more…mana…there! It’ll last for a while. Hopefully.”
The reaction wasn’t as severe as the one before. It was fairly mild. But of course, it will always be calm before the storm…
He touched her forehead and a dot of purple light was absorbed into her. “...You better not die this time, you hear me?”
School felt empty and boring. Especially since she was now left alone, and it wasn’t as if she could just barge into the second year’s floor and spend time with Sora while she was in the middle of class. Her smile twitched as those thoughts ran through her mind. It was annoying that she had to act as a model student when she didn’t want to. Who even tossed that title to her anyways? If she earned it, was there a way to get rid of it?
Social life was so not her thing. Interacting with other kids who ogle at her everyday? No thank you. It was even worse now that she has no one to talk to and confide in about how the lecture sucked, and how she wished school would be over already. Well…
‘There is one person I can talk to.’
When she peeked in front of her, she saw that he was buried in his assignment. As usual. But often would he dart up and look in her direction. Of course, he wasn’t really looking at her, she thought. It was the empty space that resided to her left. Her heart sank but she quickly got herself back up.
So what if he liked her best friend? Natsumi is nice! She’s pretty! She’s smart, and she’s basically perfect! Unlike her who’s rude, cold, snobbish, and…
“What’s the matter, Aikawa-san?” She stopped shaking her head and found herself face to face with the teacher. He looked at her through his shiny glasses that gleamed with a mean glare. His eyes seemed to look into her soul, and all she could see through them was a pitch black vortex that seemed to go on forever. It seemed to suck her in.
“Wow. You must live a sad life, Agatsuma-sensei.” She blurted, her face filled with sympathy. Shock overpowered every other emotion left in his mind and his jaw dropped. The class erupted into laughter and snickers. She didn’t realize what she said until she replayed the scene in her mind and pieced the words she said accidentally, together. Every color was drained from her face and she turned white as a sheet.
“A-Aikawa-san!” His face was beet red. The pen in his hands was about to break from his powerful clench. “Outside the hall, now!”
It was too late to take back her words. She could already hear her heart sobbing.
‘Mom will so kill me when she hears about this!’
Her eyes were bloodshot when she arrived at the door as though she was put in front of a fan on turbo mode all day with her eyes taped open. With her hair disheveled and her bag about to slide off her shoulders, she truly looked like she was swept up by a tornado then somehow managed to escape. She squeaked from pain as she carefully sat on her chair.
He approached her with hesitance after seeing her disorganized appearance. “A-Aikawa, are you alright?”
“Huh? Me?” Her heart fluttered at the sight of him then a single thought crushed everything.
‘Oh no! I look like a mess!’
Just a glance at her told him that she didn’t sleep well. “You don’t look…alright. Did detention take a huge toll on you?”
“Detention? Oh…right.” Her mood fell even more at the mention of that. It was just simply awful yesterday! Her back was still sore and her knees felt as if they'd become rusty and moved stiffly. It was even worse when she had to face her mother. That cold, icy scowl with a thin smile. Her hand gripped onto the spatula, and her sweet but sickly words like thorns stabbing into her heart was just toture. Thank goodness that she now resided in Natsumi’s residence. “I had to write lines, standing up, for an hour.”
His eyes winced at the thought of such a tiring punishment. “Poor you…oh! I-I have some candy if you’d like? If it’d make you feel better?”
She glowed at the word ‘candy’. He could almost see a tail popping out of her, wagging excitedly. It made him chuckle. With delight and gratitude, she accepted the candy that he rummaged through his pocket for.
“Sorry if it doesn’t suit your tastes,” Tsukasa scratched his cheek, anticipating her reaction, “my siblings like this candy so I usually keep it on me.”
She smiled at him brightly as her fingers paused at the wrappers. “Oh no! I love this candy! It’s my favorite.”
“Yup!” She looked around then motioned him to come closer. “Don’t tell anyone though. Natsumi still thinks I like lemon candy.”
Tsukasa chuckled again at her words. Seeing him being able to laugh around her made her chest heave. It was nice for it to not be awkward like it usually is. Sometimes they would just greet each other and exchange a few words if they were to bump into each other. Each time that happened, she would have to walk away with a heavy heart and a weight of regrets on her shoulders for not being able to talk casually with him like she could with the others. The conversations were never in her favor.
“Speaking of Izanami-san, is she still feeling unwell?” He asked her. The light in her eyes dimmed a bit.
‘Right. He liked Natsumi.’
“Natsumi? She’s still a bit feverish. Yuu caught a cold because of her too.” She made up.
“Right. Of course he did. Those two are so close after all.” His words faded into a whisper. She tilted her head, not able to hear what he said near the end.
“Ah! No, it was nothing.”
“Then…well thank you for the candy. I feel so refreshed after consuming some sugar.” She gave him a thumbs up cheerfully. “If you need anything, feel free to let me know in the future.”
“Well…A-Aikawa, aren’t you lonely without Kaneko-kun or Izanami-san here with you?” Tsukasa asked with his hand rubbing the back of his neck. He sounded a bit shy and his face turned a bit red.
If her mind was a waterfall, then at that moment all her thoughts reached some sort of blockade that made the bottom of her waterfall become dry. All thoughts vanished from her head as if it evaporated into thin air, nowhere to be seen. “Hm?”
“I-I was thinking if…you would like my company?” His voice paused, then he shook his hands in front of her. “O-of course, if you don’t like it then I’ll return back to my seat without a problem.”
Incoming! With a loud ‘bang!’ the blockade was destroyed and the waterfall exploded. All sorts of emotions burst through her mind, intruding on her every thought.
“What? No, no, it’s fine of course! Y-you can take Natsumi’s seat.” She pointed to the spot next to her. “I’m sure she won’t mind.”
“Th-then, excuse me.” It didn’t take long for him to move all his books over to the desk next to hers. She knew in her heart that this might be a chance for her, but in her heart she had doubts. “I’ll be looking forward to working with you today, Aikawa.”
He was up all night tending to her. It was draining work indeed. He didn’t expect her condition to take a drastic turn, causing more work for him. Who would’ve thought his seal wouldn’t even last a few days? Even switching shifts with that fairy wasn’t enough to stop the mana from erupting out of her. Ever since she’s fallen into that state, Himari has taken over her room, claiming it to be her own now that its original owner was no longer there. No one was allowed into his room while he worked his soul and energy away. Sora would knock on the door and say words of encouragement and worry and then cease his words and leave. It was only when it was peaceful and quiet in the house he knew that everyone had either left or fell asleep. He was so occupied with his task that he didn’t even bother checking how many hours had passed.
His head would only fall onto her sheets when he was on his last straw. That was when the fairy would take over and start doing whatever she could to stop the progression of the mana overflow with her tiny hands and beautiful magic. With every sparkle, she burned the strings of mana off of the core only for it to reattach itself again after a while. What was the point of burning something off when it would just heal again? She didn’t have any other spells to use, and she couldn’t just destroy the mana core which might disrupt the body’s functions.
It was a deluge of mana!
Mana was like blood. It pumps through every inch, every blood cell in your body. When needed to be used, it would all be summoned to the core where the mana is told where to go, and what to do; the core was like the brain. But having all the mana clog up the core was not a very good thing. Even the core could handle only a limited amount of mana at a time; too much could be a burden for the body and could lead to all sorts of odd variables to materialize.
But this was certainly not the way the fairy wanted to meet Natsumi.
‘This is bad,’ she thought, her wings fluttering weakly. Her glow was faint and she wobbled. ‘I’m about to…pass out.’
His hands stretched out to catch her before she could fall any further. Yuu placed her on a tiny bed on top of the nightstand and stretched his hands. No words could be used to describe just how beautiful they were. With a hint of elegance and power, his hands were what people would not like to be hit with. Such delicate but masculine hands like his shouldn’t be stained in any way. But it couldn’t help but tremble after the many hours he’s worked diligently for.
Yuu knew that even if he did all that for her, and turned into skin and bones, Natsumi would wake up and question him without recognition for his efforts. In fact, she would probably say something like “what happened to you?” or “are you dead?”. But through all those difficulties, his countenance was as astonishing as always. If he was to be in this appearance, people would still stare in amazement. The dark bags underneath his eyes made him appear sexier and more mature than before. His loose shirt, and the thin blanket wrapped around him revealed a bit of his naked body underneath. The messy hair of his made him look insanely attractive. He wasn’t childish anymore, instead, an air of independence and maturation circulated around him, making it seem as if he aged.
It was odd how someone could transform into a different person in just a matter of a day. Hazy red eyes and ink-black ruffled hair, anyone would be content with life just with the image.
“Time to…get back to work.” Yuu yawned. In just a lapse of a few seconds, he shifted forward, pulled back his sleeves, and hopped back to scanning her status with his deft fingers. They flowed everywhere like making gentle ripples in the air. With each touch the strands would disperse into tiny gold particles. It would be beautiful if it could be used as a confetti of some sort.
The whole night, Yuu toiled away without stopping for breaks until the fairy had to offer support in order for him to rest. It was the first time in a while that she had seen him become so humane and persistent to save someone instead of destroying them. He would continue his labor listlessly while mumbling words underneath his breath to keep himself sane.
“Please, wake up,” Yuu said, breathlessly. He proceeded to nourish her body with a meal that he summoned. Magic could only take you so far; food was necessary for ingredients the body needs. Lifting her up was the easy part, but feeding her and making sure that the soup wouldn’t make her choke or clog up her throat was the hard step.
After a while of experiencing the inconvenience of hand feeding an unconscious person, he couldn’t handle it anymore and put the spoon to his lips. Then he bent down so that their faces were close. His eyelashes flickered and he paused before pressing his mouth against hers. It was an indescribable feeling. But it included all sorts of emotions: excitement, sorrow, reminisce, and overflowing anxiousness. However, doing this sort of disrespectful thing to a person who’s not even awake was unacceptable and improper. Especially to a girl!
Yuu quickly backed off, ashamed of what he had done.
‘But…it was soft.’ He licked his lips, bemused. His “improper” method did do the job at the very least. So… it wouldn’t hurt to do it a few more times under the pretext of “helping” her recover, right?