I turned around, ready to summon Xykoss. The man took a step back and had a nervous smile on his face.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
He held out a train pass and waited for a response. I searched my pockets and that was when I realised. It was mine.
“Oh, thank you.”
I took it out of his hand. He looked like any other guy, but I couldn’t help but be cautious. My body was tense. Something felt off about him.
“No need to thank me. I’m glad I caught up to you and could return it. Have a nice evening.”
I nodded my head and watched as he walked away. My eyes were glued on his back. I relaxed after he was out of my sight. My phone rang and I was told by Yu to hurry back. I managed to get to our dormitory without any other hiccup. The door to Yu’s room was slightly open and the light was on inside. I was still carrying the bag of food that my mom gave me. It would have been a bad idea to keep him waiting for any longer, so I decided to stop by him first and then return to my own room. I lightly knocked on the door but after not hearing a reply, I just walked in. We all had the exact same rooms that we could decorate to our own taste. I looked around but couldn’t find Yu anywhere. The bathroom’s door suddenly opened, and Yu walked out. It gave me a scare, but I was able to quickly compose myself.
“You’re finally here.”
A towel was hanging around his neck. He had just taken a shower. His torso was naked. I regretted my decision of just walking into his room. If someone would see us, they would definitely get the wrong idea. I let out a sigh.
“Can you please wear some clothes?”
He gave me a stare and then walked over to his wardrobe.
“You’re the one who came into my room unwarranted.”
He grabbed a grey t-shirt and put it on. His back tattoo was still impressive.
“Well, you’re the one who told me to come to your room.”
“Yes, but who just walks into someone else’s room without them being present? That’s called intrusion of privacy. Only perverts like to do that. You could have waited outside.”
“Why would I do that? That would be even creepier. Imagine someone seeing me lurking around in front of your room at this hour. Anyway, hurry up and tell me why you called me over. I’m tired and I want to sleep.”
He dried his black hair with the towel he was holding in his hand and sat down on his bed.
“I have a new mission. Received the details this morning. It’s qualified as difficult. Meaning that we can get severely injured or die. The participants include me, Shiraishi Akihiko, Uehara Yuzuki and Hino Fuyuko.”
“Okay, what does it have to do with me?”
“Got a call from Ogawa. Telling me to take you with me. I refused but he told me that the request came from the higher ups.”
He turned his head to face me.
I was surprised. It didn’t make any sense to me.
“Don’t know but I told Ogawa that it’s your choice in the end. Our policy forbids to force an Outliner to go on a mission they refuse to accept. So, it’s your choice. Wanna come or not?”
It didn’t take me long to answer him. I wasn’t necessarily feeling more confident in my own ability to compete with silver or gold pin holders but if I could be useful then why not join them. There was probably a reason why the higher ups suggested me. At least that was what I was hoping when I said yes to Yu. He told me to go freshen up because we would be leaving immediately. I wrote a message on a sticky note for Sayuri and stuck it to her door. The bag of food was in front of her door on the ground. There was no point in holding on to it anymore. According to Yu, we would be gone for several days at least. It was not something that I wanted to carry around with me. I quickly took a shower and changed into my uniform. Yu and Shiraishi were waiting outside our dormitory for me. We would be meeting up with the other two members at our destination which was Kyoto. The bullet train was the means of our transportation.
“How long will it take us to get there?”
Yu sat down on the seat next to mine. Shiraishi was sitting behind us. The train was quite empty to no one’s surprise. It was late in the evening after all.
“About two hours. Here eat this.”
He had bought some sandwiches at the train station. It was an egg salad sandwich. He handed one to Shiraishi as well. I didn’t open mine and instead was looking at Yu’s who had my favourite sandwich, tuna and mayo. He let out a sigh and switched with me. After my stomach was filled, I got sleepy.
“Wake me up when we’re there.”
Yu was doing something on his phone. It didn’t seem like he was sleepy. I yawned and shortly after dozed off. It was getting colder. I could feel the air conditioning blowing on me. It was giving me the chills. I was still half-asleep but found something warm that I could cuddle up to.
“Oi, wake up. We’re here.”
It was Yu but his voice seemed strangely close to my ear. I opened my eyes and yawned. My eyes were teary. I was leaning against something, and my head was resting on someone’s shoulder. It didn’t take me long to realise in what kind of situation I was in. I lifted my head to see Yu’s face only centimetres away from mine.
I murmured out of embarrassment and straightened up. The train had come to a halt. Shiraishi was quietly watching us from the aisle. Yu didn’t say anything and stood up from his seat.
Even though they both had silver pins, it was Yu who gave the orders. Shiraishi would barely say anything. It didn’t take us long to get to the hotel that we were staying at. I was still sleepy, but my weariness disappeared immediately after seeing Uehara Yuzuki standing in front of the hotel. Her face was crinkled. She was clearly angry with something, and I could guess what it was. I peeked from behind Shiraishi to see another woman standing next to her. She was taller than all of us and the massive difference in height was apparent as Uehara was even smaller than Yu. Her very long, curly, indigo hair was let loose and even though it was in the middle of the night, she was wearing sunglasses. A long object wrapped in black cloth was on her back. As we got closer, I noticed small scars on her face and down her neck.
“Fujinomiya, you’re late.”
Uehara was tapping her foot on the ground. Her arms were crossed.
“Sorry, I needed to sort out some things.”
He told her and pointed at me. She was already staring at me.
That was all she said and went into the hotel. Was she still mad about what had happened at the exam? Well, it looked like she clearly didn’t like me. The hotel appeared to be an expensive one. There were plants everywhere and the walls were made out of black stone. The receptionist gave us three keys, two for a double room and one for a single room. Surely, I thought that the single bedroom would belong to me, and I got excited. But I was wrong. I was standing in the middle of the room and stared blankly at the twin beds. It was a nice room. Looking all luxurious. The only problem was that Yu was standing next to me.
“Why am I with you in a room?”
“Because of reasons.”
He ignored my question and sat down on one of the beds.
“Go to bed. We have an early start tomorrow.”
“Why did Shiraishi get the single room?”
I copied Uehara and crossed my arms. He sighed out loud.
“Look, I’m not really fond of this situation either but bear with it, okay?”
He wasn’t going to give me a straight answer. I took off my jacket and went into the bathroom to get changed. The black pyjamas were really comfy. The bed was too. Yu had closed the curtains and was on his phone again. I turned off the lamp on the nightstand next to my bed and fell asleep, quicker than I anticipated. It felt odd to wake up before Yu. I stayed in my warm bed and kept staring at him. He was looking cute while he was asleep. Not like the usual proud monster he was. His black hair was even messier than usual. I was pondering about if I should wake him up and annoy him. It was very early in the morning. Before I could reach a conclusion, his violet eyes opened up.
He didn’t say anything back and got out of bed. I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination, but sometimes it looked like a worried expression hurried over his face. Was he troubled over the mission?
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