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. Fourth is, Takeru! I honestly wouldn’t call his story ‘tragic’ (I think anyone who played the game know his ending was more bittersweet than anything). He’s my favorite and I actually like his story since it suits his character and whatnot.
It was about 14 hour flight from New York. As the airplane landed at the Narita Airport, I forcifully opened my eyes. I wanted to at least sleep for a bit, but unfortunately, I could barely do so. Its not like I’m an elementary school student going on a trip, was I getting too excited to return home after a long time?
(First time in half a year, huh? Hardly feels like it.)
For the past half year, I kept busy after I moved my work base to New York. Half a year ago, most of the criminals from the criminal organization known as Adonis–the masterminds of the X-Day case–were arrested for their serious crimes that took place in Shinjuku. However, the police got information on someone who they believed was an executive outside of the country who was planning a terrorist attack. So they again invited the investigation personnel to prepare a joint investigation between Japan and the United States.
(The work was fairly easy to do though, since it’s my hometown but…)
This time, the reason I decided to temporarily return home wasn’t to take a break. It was still a headache with problems continue to pile up because there were no results. Up until now, an IP phone was used to report the investigation situation. Over the frustration of making no progress, we were ordered to go back to our own country.
The situation doesn’t really bother me. I’m well aware no results have been made. Even if they said they were cutting ties with the worst members, they can’t expect to make any progress without my abilities–aside from being able to provide the enemy favorable data–I also have dirt on the higher ups that would put them in their place. Why do feel so off about returning home for the first time in half a year? I didn’t want to acknowledge it, but I knew the reason why. It was somewhat awkward–no it was more related to my own feelings of guilt.
I took my baggage and closely looked over the terminal.
(…Not there, huh? I guess that goes without saying.)
A muttered this self-mockery in my mind. For just a moment, I imagined that faithful dog waiting at the airport. I wanted to laugh at myself for how unexpectedly sentimental I was being. Such a convenient fantasy like that wouldn’t happen. After all, she’s a surprisingly reasonable woman. I already know our relationship ended within this past year after not contacting each other.
…That’s right. It’s because of that woman I felt uneasy about coming back to my home country. When I flew to the United States six months ago I didn’t tell Hoshino Ichika. Shortly before, I gave her a necklace as a parting gift and didn’t say anything.
And this past year and a half, I never contacted her. Although I thought about wanting to contact via a third party, I disregarded it. The reason was because I didn’t think it was necessary. I didn’t know when I’d go back, we didn’t say anything about loving each other, and we didn’t have a intimate relationship, either. Our so-called dating didn’t have any meaning to it.
(Well, it was more like we were dating on the side.)
We may have been partners, but we weren’t lovers. I knew her feelings but was going to do this anyway. Well, such are relationships between men and women. When it’s done it’s done. Above all else, there is a reason why I can’t let her be with me.
(Damn, I’m getting way too sentimental. She better also be forgetting about such a cold-hearted person.)
It was baffling to me that I could surprisingly feel regretful.
“…So, why are you here?”
“I-I was invited by Minegishi-san…”
“Oh dear, is this a problem? I was indebted to the two of you last year and since Sasazuka-kun went to the States soon after, I couldn’t properly thank you.”
In an elegant private room, there was the awfully pitiful face of Ichika and the cunning laughing face of Minegishi. After finishing the report at headquarters, I accepted a meal invitation since Minegishi said it was his treat but… I felt it was a ploy, so I clicked my tongue.
“I don’t know what it is you’re planning but it’s not necessary.”
“Naturally, you must show appreciation to your subordinates whom have traveled abroad. Won’t you please accept this as a celebration for your return?”
“Then why didn’t you say anything about bringing her?”
“Um, if I’m just in the way I can…”
“I didn’t ask you. I’m talking to Minegishi-san.”
“…You’re quite irritable, is there are problem if Hoshino-san is present?”
While glaring at Minegishi who tilted his head, I didn’t find it necessary to shift blame, so I merely clicked my tongue.
“…Whatever. I’ll eat then leave.”
“It’s special so please take your time to eat. Ah, excuse me. I got a call from work, so I’ll have to step out.”
As soon as he said so, Minegishi got up and gave Ichika a light smile. He then left the room with delicate footsteps.
(Did he… do that on purpose? I still can’t read him even after all these years.)
In that case, it’d be a waste if I didn’t get my money’s worth. After a long sigh, I put the first bit of duck meat into my mouth. As I feel eyes watching me, I look up.
“What’re you looking at?”
“No, I um…”
“Like I said, what?”
“Um… welcome back.”
“I never said that yet.”
The appearance of Ichika shyly saying so surprisingly made my heart jump. Here I was being ignited by the woman in front of me and it was far stronger than I could remember.
(No way. Am I still in love with this person?)
It wouldn’t be wrong to say I fell in love with this woman once. But for the last six months, while using how busy I was as an excuse, I’ve erased it from my mind. Because of that time away from each other, I thought it’d be easy to extinguish this flame I had from my heart. And yet now it seems more stronger than ever.
“Sasazuka-san? Are you okay?”
“I’m just tired because I just got back. I’ll let Minegishi-san know that it’d be better if I just went home–”
I left my chopsticks on the table and stared at Ichika’s eyes for the first time today.
“If I’m bailing, you’re coming too, Ichika.”
—I couldn’t understand it.
I don’t like ambigous things that don’t make the motive or purpose clear. Nevertheless, for some reason I brought myself here and had no idea what I wanted to say. We dropped by the Shinjuku station near the store and went onto the roof. The early summer wind was blowing as I stood there. It was already nearing the end of summer.
…I met her last December. It still doesn’t feel like that long winter has ended. I put my finger on the fence and look down. Regardless of the season, the buildings had not changed and looked as though they were arranged like tombs.
“Um… do you really think it was okay of us to leave like that? I feel like it was rude to do that to Minegishi-san…”
I finished paying and I don’t like to waste food after all. I got proper replacements.
“Yanagi-san and Mineo.”
I smile bitterly as Ichika gives me a surprised look. Those two have started full-scale detective work several months ago, so as far as their funds go they should be happy to get a free meal.
“Three older guys having a meal at a restaurant. If it’s not for work, it’s a punishment game.””
“You haven’t changed a bit, Sasazuka-san.”
I take my finger off the fence and look back at the voice filled with nostalgia. She looks happy yet lonesome, and as she laughs in a troubled manner, I feel my heart start to clamor again.
“I didn’t contact you.”
“Well… don’t worry about it. You were probably busy after all.”
“No. You don’t get it.”
As Ichika returned in silence, my heart started to ache a bit. Still, I wanted her to know without misunderstanding.
“It was my fault for not saying it properly. When our partnership was resolved, whether it be at work or during private life, I didn’t intend to date you.”
When I say so clearly, Ichika opens her eyes in surprise and takes a step back. I understood by that reaction alone. When the relationship had ended, it was my own misunderstanding that led me to believe she understood that. She had expectations and was waiting for me to reach out to her.
“If you weren’t dependant on those feelings, you must be stupidly pretentious. But… if you were actually waiting for me…”
Again, I felt hesitation hit me. While holding onto the fence, I held it strongly enough for it to dig into my fingers.
“Just give up already. We’re not suited for each other.”
“You thought about this?”
“I don’t need to think about it. This is what I want.”
“There’s no way I can do that. After all, you taught me a lot. Like thinking about yourself and to not underestimate your worth. When you think about what’s necessary, you make the necessary efforts.”
“That’s why I don’t want to give up. With an expression like that, I can’t accept what you’re saying.”
What expression? What sort of expression am I making? I soon realize I have a miserable look on my face. Looks like my sentimental ways got the better of me.
“Sasazuka-san, are you perhaps…. still thinking about revenge?”
My shoulders shook in fear. That meddling woman most likely noticed that. As she stepped forward, she came up to me.
“That’s why you’re trying to keep me away, isn’t it?”
“Even if it was for a short period of time, you are the person I love. I know you better than anyone.”
That’s right, after I went to America, I refused to make contact. When it comes down to it, it’s because my want for revenge got stronger.
Six months ago, I dismissed the invitation from Adonis thanks to her. Rather than trap myself in the past and be fueled with revenge, I wanted to see her smile. I didn’t want to make her cry. But during the time I spent in the gun society known as America, the hate began to overshadow the love. I found myself tempted by the evil I rejected once.
“I… I regret not taking Adonis’ offer.”
“If I got that info during that time, I… my mother… I may have been able to rid the man who took something precious from me.”
“A man who thinks like this wouldn’t be suited with a good woman like yourself. You’ll just end up dirtying yourself with me.”
But it wasn’t like that. Even though it seemed like she was anticipating what I was going to say next, she easily backed down.
“I will give up on trying to be your lover.”
“…A wise decision.”
“But I won’t leave your side.”
Immediately after I deflected my eyes from Ichika, meaningless words reach my ears.
“If you try and go over there, I’ll stop you no matter what.”
“What’re you talking about? This isn’t related to you.”
“It is related to me. I’m a police officer after all. It’s my duty to stop someone from potential criminal acts, is it not?”
I blankly stared at Ichika as she told me this in a rather cryptic joking tone.
“*sigh* …I guess that’s true.”
As a woman, if she was planning to stop me as someone precious, I may have been moved. But she told me she would face me as a “police officer”. Even if I didn’t want answers to these questions, I wanted to know everything.
“Do you understand what you’re saying? You and me are like heaven and earth. Even if you’re involved in the investigation, with no personal relationship we can’t be together like we were before. You think you can stop me with our relationship now?”
“Me being next to you is enough.”
She told me this without hesitation. Would other people be like this within half a year as well? When I first met her, her mind and heart was weak. Without facing the victim her eyes would wander.
“I will pull you back to this side with my own hands.”
Like that, she took my hand and spoke her will with unshakable eyes. Both of her hands that were holding my right, were warm and did not tremble.
“Even if stopping you results in you hating me one day… I’ll do whatever I can to stay by your side.”
I was deprived of Ichika’s eyes that vividly smiled. It was frustrating to lose like this, but I smiled bitterly.
“Then try and stop me.”
With low self esteem and the fact she’s supposed to be an under me, this woman was more concerned about something small rather than looking at the bigger picture. Yet for my sake she has ambition. I can’t deny I feel the most happy about that.
“Crawl to my side, Ichika.”
“Don’t just thrust yourself into people’s affairs.”
“You’re a pain.”
“It’s unrelated to you.”
Until now, I would speak these words. But now they’ve disappeared from my mind. Because if it’s her I wanted to allow it. If anyone is going to stop me, it’ll be her.
(Jeez… I’m feeling moved sooner than I thought I would.)
While amazed at her inner self declaring defeat, I turn to look at her neck. Below her tightly closed shirt, the necklace I gave her may be hidden there. Or maybe the malice of the collar and my spell was cut off by her own will?
Even if there’s no clear solution, that’s fine with me. Because rather than the cute obedient woman before, I was attracted to this woman who had such a fierce look in her eyes.