So, this is a bit different from what I usually post. There is a booklet that comes with the limited edition Collar x Malice Unlimited. This is a short story based off of the ‘tragic ending’ in the original game. So of course, spoilers if you have not finished the first game. First is Yanagi, but the rest of the characters have stories too, of course and I do intend to translate them.
[Ready to Grab the Gun]
The evening sun dyed the city red. Students returning from school, couples holding hands, a salary man calling a business partner. I was looking at the streets where various people cross paths. I used to like it in the past. And yet now I just feel frustrated by it. Although it may be due to how close I am, the crowd, or even the noise. No matter how much I watch this busy city or no matter how many times I stop, I can’t find you.
“Yanagi-san, have you been sleeping properly?” I stop my hand preparing food. When I slowly turn around, I see Kazuki with wrinkled eyebrows.
An unexpected bitter smile. Before, it was an expression that was most likely to be misunderstood as if he was angry. But now it was a completely readable expression.
“Even I’m a responsible grown-up you know. If I don’t get proper sleep, I won’t be able to get up.”
“I wonder about that. You surprisingly tend to overdo it.”
“You don’t have to worry. I know I can be unreasonable, but I won’t overdo it.”
“That doesn’t sound reassuring at all.”
“Besides that, this is done. Go set up the table.”
In order to avoid anymore questions, I change the subject. Although Kazuki wore an uneasy expression.
(I can’t let Kazuki notice.)
After sighing in my mind, I finish up cooking. A spicy scent rose from the curry pot. The kitchen was wrapped up in a smell that was reminiscent of an evening family dinner.
It’s been a few months since I’ve began to come here from time to time. Before where it was an apartment for two, now it’s become a lot harder to manage for Kazuki alone.
Six months have passed since my girlfriend Ichika Hoshino had disappeared.
With her own hands, she killed Yuzuru Saeki who caused many incidents as the mastermind behind the organization, Adonis.
She didn’t pull the trigger as a duty of a police officer. She did it to protect me.
There must have been a reason that I didn’t understand.
She couldn’t handle it so… she disappeared.
From then on, the detective agency looked for traces of where she may be. I also went directly to her parents’ house. Even with connections to the police and whatever means necessary, she couldn’t be found.
(Since she has no history of traveling she should still be in the country…. However, that sort of thinking doesn’t always lead to the truth. Maybe with money and power, but she doesn’t rely on her parents and can’t be in a situation where she doesn’t have food or shelter. Its always possible there’s a place she never mentioned before.)
From that day on, my daily life has changed. As I spend my days like I usually do, my heart remains empty and I can’t move forward. I go to this room everyday and help take care of Kazuki. Standing in the kitchen she used, seeing its traces of her, it makes me feel dizzy every time.
Adding seasoning to the right amount, dropping the burning frying pan, sharpening the knives; to continue such a life was enough to make me angry.
“Hey, Yanagi-san! That smells burnt!”
“What!? O-Oh… sorry.”
While lost in thought and a pot in front of me, the curry started to burn a bit. Recently, I’ve been making a lot of mistakes like that. Even though I can’t get over it, I still have to live my life. I never imagined I’d find myself miserable here.
“Huh, this is unexpectedly good. It only tastes a bit burnt.”
“That’s good. If you didn’t say anything, it probably would’ve turned out worse.”
“Actually, I think it’s better than it normally tastes.”
“I added soy milk and yogurt to get rid of the burnt taste. Rather than a happy accident, let’s just say this was planned.”
“Huh, well aren’t you clever?”
Even though Kazuki was smiling while eating his curry, I knew his heart wavered. I felt worried about Kazuki being alone, so I started to do chores like this. But now, I’m also doing it for myself.
I think I’m probably dependant on him. If Kazuki wasn’t here, I would have been wasting away in saddness the whole time. I would most likely be swallowed by anxiety and regret if I didn’t have something to do in the meantime.
“…Anyway, you’re like a married couple.”
“…? What’re you saying suddenly?”
“You and my sister. You really are similar.”
My thoughts deepened due to Kazuki’s words. In the beginning when Ichika disappeared, Kazuki was noticeably down but recently he’s been able to smile and talk about her in front of me.
“No, we’re not a married couple yet.”
“See, it’s those things that make you similar.”
“…So? How do you think we’re similar?”
“That’s the 3rd time today. You say and do the same things as her.”
“Really? I didn’t notice…”
“My sister would always say things like, “don’t over do it.”
…Now that he mentioned it, I heard the same thing before. I wonder if I said it unconsciously?
“She also burned the food when she cooked too.”
“Er, well that can happen to anyone.”
“Lastly, she always looked happy eating the dishes I made.”
The expressions of Kazuki who was reminiscing was very mature-like. Although I’m happy about that, I felt slightly frustrated not knowing the meaning behind it.
“Oh, my parents called me again.”
“…Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, I already told them they’re bothering me. They may try calling you too so just ignore them.”
“I can’t just ignore them. I’m in a position where I have to look out for you.”
“I’m not going back.”
“I don’t want it to be empty here… when she she comes back. Besides, I still want to chase my dream. My sister cheered me on too, I can’t just let that go to waste.
With unwavering eyes, Kazuki talks about his future.
The moment his parents heard about Ichika’s disappearance, they told Kazuki to return home. But Kazuki refused right away. What he told me just now was the reason why.
Kazuki is much stronger than I thought. He’s doing his best to stand on his own and live. And he isn’t ashamed of his older sister who supported his dreams. He’s doing what he can while waiting for her to return.
“Your parents are worried about you too. Try not to refuse every helping hand.”
While saying plausible things, I knew that even I couldn’t smile often. As I fondly remember the memories I had spent with her, seeing Kazuki move forward frustrated me.
As I left some pre-made food in the refridgerator for several days, I told Kazuki to lock the door and left. It was almost midsummer in June. As I looked up at the moon hanging up in the night sky, I wondered maybe if it would rain tomorrow. Even in the city that never slept, this night in Shinjuku was pretty quiet.
Six months ago, this city had become chaotic due to heinous crimes. Yet now there were no guns and anyone could walk anywhere without having to watch themselves. Every day should be normal. This is what most people would call it “peace”. While watching this city I loved, I didn’t want to admit it was peaceful.
(Why am I chasing this one person so desperately?)
To be honest, I was surprised by how much I needed her. At first I was shocked, but now I’ve convinced myself. She is an independent woman who has the right to make her own choices. Even if we were in a relationship, it was a relationship in which we knew each other for less than a month. I believe someday my heart will be sorted out. That is the conclusion I’ve come to.
(Nevertheless, as these days pass by, I feel like I’m suffocating.)
No matter how many incidents occurred in this town, no matter how many people suffered, it would’ve been fine as long as I had her. I know the fact I can think this while trying to stop acts of terrorism makes me the most worst human being. That is why I could never say this to anyone.
Six months ago. It was thanks to my own ego I didn’t shoot Saeki Yuzuru with my own hands. I didn’t want to get hurt… so I let her do it. I let her pull the trigger.
(It should’ve been me who shot him.)
Suddenly, when I came to the intersection, I remembered the scent of a woman who passed by. The smell of fragrant perfume, long hair.
I feel like I’m unintentionally trying to hear her voice. I knew in my mind she wasn’t there, but my body wanted to try and chase after her.
“You carry the sins of your past, yet you continue to look ahead and do what you can. I love you more than anyone.”
“More than anyone, I want you to be happy.”
“No matter what happens, even if you say no will accept you, I will protect you.”
The voice of my loved one revives in my mind, stunning me. It feels like she’s been gone forever. She should be alive, but I remember giving up at some point in my heart.
“This whole time have I… been trying to protect myself?”
A voice of loathing escapes my lips. I’m still trying to create a reason for my own protection. I want to find her the right way, I don’t want to dirty my hands. But what exactly is the point behind protecting my beliefs and morals?
The most important thing for me was obvious. To get what you want, you have to make sacrifices. Even if you bloody your hands, even if its something she doesn’t want.
For that purpose I….
“I want to see you again.”
Before I realized it the signal changed to red and a horn honked at me. At the same time, I came back to reality and walked the dark path with dragging feet.
“Pay close attention when handling it. Even now you could set it off.”
“If anyone finds out I can’t get guarantee what may happen.”
While promptly saying so, the man shrugged his shoulders and put “it” on the table. The lump of iron wrapped in a bag hit the table with a loud clang.
“I’m not sure what this has to do with finding someone though.”
“I appreciate the info but don’t pry.”
“Yeah, yeah. Well, its a rule to not look into each other. I’ll leave the materials here so when you check the contents, make sure to transfer to the usual account.”
The man who was sitting on the opposite side of the table, gets up and heads for the door. He is a self-proclaimed detective who has connections in the business of trade. However, I can say with confidence his profession is far from the detective industry. It’s the so-called under the table shop for information.
Any information is fine if you’re willing to pay. Several months have passed since I asked for information on a woman and what he told me is that, “A person who closely resembles the target person has been exiting in and out of a criminal organization.” The possiblity of it being a hoax is high.
Still, I wanted to challenge any clue no matter how small. It was much better than living idly like I do now.
“Do you think I’m abnormal?”
The moment the man left the room, he let out a solitary sound. He looked back with a dubious face and smiled bitterly.
“You decide for yourself whether abnormal is good or bad.”
“Sometimes you’re happier being abnormal.”
After saying so in a light tone, the man disappeared beyond the door. While entering the world of reckless crime, it felt comforting to talk with bad people. With an awareness of doing something wrong, I don’t blame others. I know how to forget the feeling of guilt, so I don’t have to bear it. It almost felt like salvation deciding to stop doing the ‘right thing to do’.
(I’m sure Ichika wouldn’t want this. Kazuki would be sad. No one would be happy.)
The room was filled with silence after the man left. I reach for the table and take what was prepared in hand. The barrels were heavier than I remembered. As I grip it firmly with my right hand, I press it against my forehead as if to pray.
(Staying unscathed from a safe position is the same as giving up.)
This gun is different from the one I picked up six months ago in order to protect this city.
(There is no justice. So in order to see you, for that reason alone…)
I grasped the gun that could take a life.