Because no one ever wanted to spend time with me, I ate lunch alone on the school rooftop. There were several fenced off sections on the roof that students could sit on during lunch and between classes. These sections had trees and plants for the students to enjoy, making them almost like a park. Few people ever went there. On the other hand, it could have been that they used to go there and just didn’t anymore because of me.
When the bell rang, signaling that lunch had ended, I trudged back to class and sat down in my seat–the seat furthest from the front in the corner by the window. Seats were assigned by the teacher. For the past six months since I had started attending Saitama Academy, my homeroom teacher had moved everyone else around but kept me in this seat. The seat next to me had been empty since day one.
The teacher arrived soon after the class had settled down. There was someone with her. It was a girl.
The first thing that should have captured most people’s attention was her crimson hair, which swayed behind her as she walked, making her hair look like an iridescent flame. After that, most people probably should have noticed her scarlet colored eyes. They weren’t rare. They were impossible. There were no humans with red eyes unless they had pigment issues like albinos. Those were two of the girl’s most remarkable features, and they should have been what most of the students focused on.
I say “should have” because there was something else that held everyone’s attention.
They were big. Really big. Massive even.
Most of the boys in class were ogling the girl’s chest, and if they weren’t staring at her chest, then they were looking at either her thin waist, made all the more prominent by her bosoms, or her shapely hips. Even I was captivated. Despite my normal male reaction, though, what startled me the most was her overall appearance.
Japan was a homogenous society. There weren’t that many foreigners living there, so when there was a foreign female, especially one like this girl, they had a tendency to draw a lot of attention–and it wasn’t always the pleasant kind. Girls like this often became the victim of train gropers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she found herself having a problem with panty thieves. I didn’t know why, but a lot of teenage boys in Japan liked to steal women’s undergarments.
I stared at the girl with what I like to think was more poise than most of my peers. Starting at her small feet, covered by the school’s indoor slippers, my gaze traveled up her well-defined calves and strong thighs. The short skirt and knee high socks didn’t hide much. This allowed me to see the subtle hints of muscle in her legs, which flexed as she moved. Her fair skin disappeared into a dark blue skirt, which flared out around her hips. Her sailor fuku uniform looked abnormally tight against her large chest, and it caused the slimness of her waist to become all the more apparent.
Finally, after my cursory inspection, I reached her eyes.
I once heard a saying about how a person’s eyes were the windows to their soul. While I’ve never really believed that, I did think that a person could learn a lot by looking at the emotions other people displayed in their eyes. What I saw in this girl’s eyes was nothing. There was no emotion, no feeling, just an emptiness that seared my mind like scarlet wildfire.
“I know it’s a little late into the school year, but we have a new student who’ll be attending classes with us from now on,” the teacher, a young woman with brown hair, brown eyes, and a shorter than average stature, said. Her name was Kotomine Kanzaki. She was my homeroom teacher. “Go on. Introduce yourself.”
The girl stepped forward and made a polite bow to the classroom. “My name is Alicia. It’s nice to meet you.”
Everyone waited to see if the girl would say more, and as the seconds ticked by, I looked at the other students, whose faces had slowly turned from expectant to unsure. I could practically see what they were thinking. Was that it? Would she not say something polite like, “I hope we all get along!” or, “I’ll be in your care from now on!”? Would she not even give them her surname?
The teacher must have realized that the girl had no designs to say anymore and coughed into her hand. “W-well, why don’t you find yourself an empty seat. There are several available, so you can choose any of those to sit in.”
Alicia nodded and glanced at the empty seats. I stopped paying attention after that. The novelty of a new student had worn off. It didn’t matter anyway. This girl would be just like everyone else; she’d avoid me like I had the plague.
As I stared at the window, several gasps grabbed my attention. I thought about looking to see what had happened, but I decided against it. Whatever had happened didn’t concern me. Yet, when the sound of a chair scraping against the floor pierced my ears, I was forced to look away from the window to see what the commotion was about.
I nearly fell backwards in my seat.
Alicia had chosen to sit in the empty seat next to me. I had to blink to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. What was this girl doing? Why was she sitting beside me? This had… it had never happened before!
The rest of class was difficult for me. I kept glancing at Alicia out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure out what she was doing in that spot. It took me nearly the entire class to realize that I’d probably never find out the reason. By then, I had missed being able to take notes, which probably didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things since I’d still be given a failing grade.
When the bell rang, I did what I always do: took off before anyone else. Before I left the classroom, I saw several people try to speak with Alicia, only to be coldly blown off. She stood up and swept past the crowd, heading down the stairs and leaving the campus around the same time as me. She disappeared after that, going in the opposite direction.
I took my mind off of the girl with crimson hair and walked toward my next destination: Fukiyama Mart, a 24-hour convenience store that sold basic foods, necessities, and other items. The shop owner was an old man named Fukiyama Miyata.
As I was wondering the isles, attempting to figure out what I should get for dinner, I was interrupted from perusing the store’s selection by my phone going off. The ringing nearly made me jump out of my pants. I didn’t use my cellphone often–mostly because I had so few people to call. In fact, I only had one contact in my cellphone.
I pulled my cellphone out–a basic flip phone model–and glanced at the caller ID. It was my benefactor.
“Azazel,” I said into the phone’s speaker. “It’s rare for you to call me.”
“Oh? It sounds like you’re getting lonely. Have you missed hearing the sound of my voice? I could call you more often, if you want.”
The voice on the other end was male. Judging by the tone and timber, I could have easily imagined him as a middle aged man, though his physical appearance didn’t look a day over twenty.
“I’m fine. There’s no need for you to concern yourself with the likes of me.”
I picked up a packet of onigiri and glanced at the price. 100 yen. It seemed like a reasonable price to me, so I put it in my basket and moved on.
“What a cold person you’ve become toward yourself. Are you really so self-loathing that you feel like I’d be bothered if I called you every now and then to see how you’re doing?”
I moved to the sandwiches, where I grabbed a yaki-soba sandwich and looked at the price. This was also within my price range. I put it in the basket.
“Considering you have never bothered to call me unless there’s an emergency that requires my attention, I figured it was too much of a hassle.”
“Hey, now. Don’t be like that. You know I’d call everyday if I could, but I’m pretty busy keeping things peaceful between the angels and the fallen. It’s a hard job, especially since so many angels have been falling recently. God seems to think I’m somehow responsible, and it’s been a pain in the ass to keep him off my case.”
“You sound like a child who’s been fighting with his parent.”
“U-ugh, please don’t say that. God might take offense.”
“Then you can apologize to him on my behalf,” I said, grabbing several more items, including the latest volume of Weekly Shōnen Jump. My budget technically wouldn’t cover this, but if Azazel was calling, then it meant he needed me for a job, which meant I’d see a little extra income when I received next week’s allowance. “So, what’s the reason for your call?”
“I’m calling because there’s been an increase in devil activity in the Saitama Prefecture.”
“And you want me to look into it,” I deduced.
“I currently have my hands full placating the angel faction. I don’t have the time or the men to spare for something like this.”
“I understand. I’ll do some snooping around and see what I can find.”
“And if you discover a threat that needs to be eliminated?”
My hand froze halfway toward a packet of fried tempura. I closed my eyes for a moment. When I opened them again, I grabbed the packet and put it into my basket.
“If there is a threat out there, then I’ll deal with it before it can harm anybody,” I said.
I ignored the way my voice shook.