Yu had decided to take Takumi under his care. He was not living with me in my room anymore. Toshiko promised me that she would help me with my training. My new weapon was light. I was carrying it around on my back. It was compact and the design allowed me to downsize it like a retractable baton. She had told me to meet up with her in one of the training rooms that were underground. They were like study rooms that you could book for your own personal training outside of school hours. I still had some time before our training session, so I decided to visit Rin. She would be all alone today as Himura and the principal were out today. The sun was out, and the sky was clear. The trees were multi-coloured, and the leaves were falling to the ground. I knocked on the window like I usually did. I saw Strawberry sitting on the table and licking her paw. Rin came running over to open the door. She was wearing a fluffy, rose jumper with some jeans. Her hair was up in a ponytail.
“Good morning, Nee-chan.”
Strawberry jumped down from the table and walked through my legs to get outside. I tried to pet her, but she completely ignored me and was on her way.
“Ah, I think Strawberry doesn’t like me anymore.”
Rin giggled and came over to give me a hug to console me. I helped her make some tea and we sat down at the table to have some breakfast. She had baked some pastries. They were crispy and flaky on the outside but soft on the inside. It was a peaceful morning.
“Don’t you feel lonely without your dad?”
“Not really. I have Strawberry to play with and you come and visit me often too.”
Her mouth was covered in crumbs and so was her top. I helped her clean up herself and the table. Her eyes kept shifting towards one corner of the room.
“Is something wrong?”
I asked her while following her gaze. All I could see were plants and some more plants. She got startled by my question as if I had caught her cheating during a test. Her small hands grabbed on to her jumper and she looked me in my eyes earnestly.
“I have a present.”
She nodded her head and sprinted away from me. I slowly followed her and discovered that she had hid a small box behind a fishtail palm.
“It’s for Yuuma.”
“Thank you but why are you giving him a present. It’s not his birthday.”
“I know. His birthday is in May and on the same date when I was born. I want to give him a present to thank him for being my friend.”
She smiled at me and handed me the box. I grabbed it from her and crouched down to face her properly.
“You really didn’t have to but thank you again. I know he will love it.”
I placed my hand on her head and returned her smile, but something was confusing. I wondered when I had told her about Yuuma’s birthday. From my recollection, I never mentioned it and I was quite sure neither did Yuuma.
“Rin-chan, is your birthday on the 8th of May as well?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Then it will be really easy for me to remember it.”
“I’ll make sure to remember your birthday too. It’s going to be next month, and I want to give you a present as well.”
I went silent. It was getting more and more confusing. Did I forget about me telling her when our birthdays were? No, I was sure I had not told anyone. So, how did Rin-chan get to know about them?
“Born on 18th of October. Blood type is O. Height is 168cm.”
She stopped and held on to my jacket. I was at a loss for words. The personal information she was listing was mine. Before I could say anything, she continued.
“You had instant ramen yesterday and fell asleep at around midnight. There were in total of three people you have talked to since this morning. After having breakfast with me, you are going to train with your new weapon. Right now, you are feeling confused.”
She stopped again. My eyebrows were raised, and my eyes widened. What just happened?
“Rin-chan, did you read my mind? Is that your Paroxys?”
She shook her head.
“I don’t think I can read minds but once I smell a person, I know everything about them. From the day they were born. From how they feel to what they are going to do and even their intentions. That is why I do not like meeting new people. It always gives me a headache.”
I fell back on my butt and took a deep breath.
“Wow, that is very impressive. Do you remember all of the information? About every single person you have met so far?”
She nodded her head. I was taken aback. Her Paroxys makes her into a limitless and everlasting database. It made sense now why Himura kept her away from others. It was not something you want others to find out.
“Rin-chan, who else knows about this?”
“My dad, the principal and now, you. Dad told me not to tell anyone, but I felt that I could trust you. Will I get into trouble?”
I held her hands and gently squeezed them.
“No, you won’t. I promise that I won’t tell anyone.”
It got cloudy outside. I could see some chipmunks running up a tree. Rin was still worried, but I had reassured her that her secret was safe with me. My curiosity nearly led to me asking her about her and Himura’s past, but I stopped myself. It wouldn’t sit right with me. I placed my school ID on to the scanner and the door made a clicking sound. Before I could push it open, someone else did it for me. Toshiko was standing behind me and shoved me into the room. I instantly had a bad feeling.
“Oi, oi, oi. You’re joking right.”
I exclaimed out loud.
“Nope. Didn’t I tell you that I would be helping you with your training?”
“Yes, you did. But why is he here?”
I pointed my finger at the guy standing against the back wall of the room. His dark blue eyes were fixated on me. He was again wearing that eerie looking mask on the lower half of his face.
“Don’t be so cold? We’re friends, right? So, as a friend, I want to help you with your training.”
He took a few steps closer and took off his coat. His voice made me feel nauseous. I instinctively took a few steps back and bumped into Toshiko who was still standing behind me. Between me and the door. A smirk appeared on her face. Don’t tell me that the training had already started? I grabbed my hammer and quickly swung it for the handle to extend. The room was large and was furnished with various training equipment.
A knee to my stomach stopped me from completing my sentence.
He whispered into my ear. I pushed him back with my hammer to put some distance between us.
“Xykoss. Devour those who stand in thy way.”
You could hear a loud thump and with it, my hammer had dug itself into the ground. It was still too heavy.
“Oh, that’s funny. You can’t pick up your weapon, can you? Toshiko told me that it was bad, but who would have thought that it was hopeless.”
He started laughing and disappeared to reappear right in front of my face again. Both of my hands were on the handle, but my hammer wouldn’t budge. Not even a millimetre.
“I love the face that you are making right now.”
His eyes squinted and he kicked me in my ribs. I flew to the side and into some barbells.
“I won’t go easy on you just because you can’t use your weapon. If I were you, I would find a solution to the problem, or there’s a high chance of you dying. Or at least, getting hurt. Pretty badly.”
I spit out some blood, wiped my mouth and stood up. He was not playing around.
“Toshiko was supposed to help me solve that problem, but she just made the equation more difficult by adding an annoying and unnecessary component.”
She was calmly standing in front of the entrance door.
“Oh, I am helping you. There’s no better person than him to train you. Look at how strong Yu is. Kawaguchi is vexing and obnoxious. You want to beat his ass, don’t you? I’m giving you permission to do it.”
A beer can was popped open by Toshiko. She proceeded to sit down, cross legged on the floor.
“Where do you think you’re looking?”
He came closer to me, but I ran away. I needed to make him immobile if I wanted to win. But the question was how? I made sure that the distance did not get smaller between us and made a run for my hammer.
“Xykoss, come out.”
He did as I told him and took his position behind me, like a massive shadow. I grabbed the handle and was able to pick up my weapon again. Kawaguchi tried to attack again but was blocked by Xykoss.
“Ayumi, don’t move.”
My body froze. It was the same thing that happened during our Paroxys Checkpoint Exam. Xykoss was blasted away into a wall. My voice wouldn’t come out either. Kawaguchi cracked his neck and was slowly walking over to me. Xykoss was still imbedded into the wall.
“You’re such a good girl. Always listening to me.”
I could tell that he had a nasty smile on his face. He stretched out his arm and was about to touch me with his hand when Xykoss sprinted towards Kawaguchi. Or at least that was what he thought and turned around to face him. But Xykoss had other plans. He jumped into the air to get behind me again, to break the spell and push me into action. I threw my hammer into the air and performed a low spinning sweep kick to make him lose his balance. My hammer spun in the air for a bit and started falling again.
“Xykoss, return to my hammer.”
I could see Kawaguchi’s eyes getting bigger while I swiftly moved back to not be within range. The very heavy hammer came crashing down and landed on his chest. His body twitched and he let out a gasp. Victory was mine. For a measly five seconds before Kawaguchi got serious and completely overthrew me. And kept overthrowing me with overwhelming power and speed for the next couple of days before I decided that it was enough.
“This is not helping me at all, Toshiko!”
I screamed at her who was leisurely laying on the floor. She had only been an onlooker. Kawaguchi was enjoying it too much too.
“Come on. You can figure it out by yourself. We have all the time in the world.”
While she popped open another can of beer, an artery popped out of my forehead. She clearly had no intention of taking it seriously. I had one option left.
“Xykoss, let’s run away.”
I smashed the door open and made my escape. There was only one person that I could rely on in these moments. Both decided to pursue me across the school building while I desperately was trying to find him.
“Stop resisting. You can’t get away from us.”
Toshiko screamed after me.
“Ayumi, I’ll reward you with a kiss if you manage to defeat me.”
Kawaguchi’s voice resonated in my head. They were getting closer but before they could catch me, I jumped out of the window.
“There you are! Yu!”
I let out a distressed cry. He looked up confused. Someone else was with him but I didn’t care and landed straight into his arms.
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