Chapter 25:

Past: 'The Owls'

Master Of Rejections But Beginner At Love

"Was this really a good idea?" Shiho asked shyly.Bookmark here

"Don't worry. Everything will be fine." Kazuma answered confidently.Bookmark here

"But damn, you sure have guts!" Hirata complimented him and slapped his back.Bookmark here

"..."Bookmark here

Kazuma and his friends were on their way back to the train station after they dealt with the delinquents in the mall.Bookmark here

While everyone was chatting, Shinya was in thoughts.Bookmark here

"Hm? What's wrong, Shinya?" Kazuma asked.Bookmark here

"The thing you said to them..."Bookmark here

"Yeah?"Bookmark here

"Don't mess with us ever again. We are the new gang everyone should watch out for. We are 'The Owls'. That's what you said." Shinya recited.Bookmark here

Kazuma nodded his head.Bookmark here

"What are you planning and since then? I know that you wouldn't declare something like that on a whim."Bookmark here

"Hahaha!" Kazuma laughed.Bookmark here

"What's so funny?" Shiho asked as she and Hirata turned to Shinya and Kazuma.Bookmark here

"You truly know me well, Shinya. You're right. I've planned to declare this for three months already."Bookmark here

"Three months? Why didn't you tell us anything?" Hirata asked.Bookmark here

"My idea was still full of gaps. I had to think this thoroughly through."Bookmark here

"And what's the purpose?" Shiho inquired.Bookmark here

"To spread our name so that less people start a fight with us. Am I right?" Shinya replied instead of Kazuma.Bookmark here

"Yes. Isn't it annoying? We just try to hang out in public but there isn't a single day where delinquents won't try to intimidate us with their gazes or where they won't pick a fight with us." Kazuma elaborated.Bookmark here

"I-is it because of me?" Hirata lowered his head.Bookmark here

Hirata was often the target of delinquents even before he met Kazuma and the rest. Due to his stature, the delinquents felt pressured and threatened. Therefore, they fight him to show dominance and to restore their pride.Bookmark here

"Raise your head. No need to feel sorry. Even if it wasn't because of you, sooner or later I - No, we would have done the same thing." Kazuma reassured.Bookmark here

"Just imagine the future where we can have fun without interferences! Every single one of them will bow their heads in respect to us while we walk!" he added with a smile.Bookmark here

Hirata chuckled in response.Bookmark here

"Yeah... You're right."Bookmark here

His guilty expression slowly changed into his usual one.Bookmark here

"But why owls?" Shiho asked as she tilted her head.Bookmark here

"Oh, ehm, well..." Kazuma scratched his blushing cheek.Bookmark here

The reason for the name was too embarrassing for him to say. Bookmark here

"..."Bookmark here

The others stared intensively at him.Bookmark here

"Ah, fine! I'll tell you so stop staring! The reason may be underwhelming."Bookmark here

"Just spit it out already!" Shiho nudged him with her elbow.Bookmark here

"The night when I first met Shinya. I remember how silent it was. The only thing you could hear were the owls. That's it." Kazuma explained as he tried to avert their gazes.Bookmark here

"..."Bookmark here

They did not say anything.Bookmark here

"Pfff!"Bookmark here

"Hahaha!"Bookmark here

"Haha, I'll die from laughing!"Bookmark here

They broke out in laughter.Bookmark here

Kazuma's face turned redder than a tomato and his head was smoking from embarrassment.Bookmark here

"S-shut up!"Bookmark here

"The night we met? Pfff! I can't anymore! Since when were you so romantic?" Shinya commented as he tried to held in his laugh.Bookmark here

"Hahaha! The reason was really not what we were expecting." Hirata laughed.Bookmark here

"But it's a good name." Shiho, who still had tears from laughing, cheered him up.Bookmark here

Kazuma was pouting while his friends were mocking him.Bookmark here

"Geez, don't be like that, Kazuma. We are sorry for laughing, haha!" Hirata said.Bookmark here

"Yeah, in the end, no one of us disagrees with the name, right?" Shinya stated while he leaned his arm on Kazuma's shoulder.Bookmark here

In response to Shinya, the other two nodded their heads.Bookmark here

"See?" Shinya smiled at him.Bookmark here

"So this marks the birth of our gang, huh?"Bookmark here

"Let's take a picture to celebrate it!"Bookmark here

With his embarrassment gone, Kazuma turned stern.Bookmark here

"Are you really sure? If you want to, then you don't have to force yourself into this. Especially you Shiho. I don't want to offend you but it could be pretty dangerous for girls."Bookmark here

Despite being the one who suggested the idea, Kazuma did not want to force them to participate in his selfish plan.Bookmark here

Of course, he hoped they would participate. After all, they were his dear friends. But it was just his hope.Bookmark here

The world of gangs and delinquents could not be described with just cruel and dangerous. Kazuma also hoped that his friends would decline so that they would not have to put themselves in danger.Bookmark here

He was contradicting himself.Bookmark here

"Man, what are you talking about? As long as we four stick together, we are invincible!" Hirata said as he flexed his biceps.Bookmark here

"That's funny considering that you were beaten to a pulp." Shinya remarked.Bookmark here

"Huh? You were on your knees, too!" Hirata fought back.Bookmark here

"Tsk, tsk. You're too naive. I held back when I faced him." Shinya justified himself.Bookmark here

"Huh? Me too naive?" Hirata said in a provoked tone.Bookmark here

While the the two continued to insult each other in the back, Shiho walked side by side with Kazuma.Bookmark here

"Don't worry about me, Kazu-kun. Did you forget that I'm at least as strong as Brother?"Bookmark here

"I know but..." Kazuma's face turned grimmer.Bookmark here

"No buts! I will take responsibility for myself!" she claimed as she placed her hand proudly on her puffed chest.Bookmark here

Kazuma sighed.Bookmark here

"Seems like I can never win against you." he said as his smiled faintly.Bookmark here

"Yup!" she agreed with a toothy smile.Bookmark here

Thus, the group of friends founded 'The Owls'.Bookmark here

Another year passed and Kazuma was now in his last year of middle school.Bookmark here

It was a hot summer when the cicadas were heard outside.Bookmark here

Since their own gang was founded, their everyday life was far from being dull and relaxed. Be it morning, noon, afternoon or night, the four friends were constantly involved in street fights with other gangs and delinquents their age.Bookmark here

Always coming out as the victor, their name and circle got bigger and bigger. Within just one year, 'The Owls' succeeded making other gangs fear and respect them.Bookmark here

The story about the up-and-coming gang was spread like a wildfire.Bookmark here

Now, almost the entire Kanto region knew about 'The Owls' which had about 100 members.Bookmark here

"Good day, sir!" multiple delinquents yelled as they bowed their heads.Bookmark here

"What are they doing here, Shiho?" Kazuma asked tiredly.Bookmark here

"W-well, they insisted on acting as our bodyguards..." Shiho answered embarrassed by this situation.Bookmark here

Currently, Shiho and Kazuma were sitting on a bench of a park while multiple members of their gang surrounded them.Bookmark here

"Geez..." Kazuma sighed.Bookmark here

"Listen up, guys! Get your asses out of here! You disturb the people!" he ordered them.Bookmark here

"B-but, sir, what if a gang ambushes you?" a member asked in a worried behavior.Bookmark here

"Huh? Do you think we'll lose or what?" Kazuma retorted.Bookmark here

"No, not at all!"Bookmark here

"Then, get out of here and don't make me repeat myself, you hear me?" Kazuma said as he stared at them threateningly.Bookmark here

"Yes, sir!" they obeyed and left.Bookmark here

Clap. Clap. Clap.Bookmark here

"Why the hell are you clapping?" he asked Shiho irritated.Bookmark here

"It always amazes me, seeing you acting as a boss." she replied while still clapping her hands.Bookmark here

"Oh, well, whatever. Where are Shinya and Hirata? Did Shinya say anything to you?"Bookmark here

"I don't know. I'm not his mother." Shiho shrugged her shoulders.Bookmark here

"But you're his sister."Bookmark here

"So what?"Bookmark here

"You want to get hit?"Bookmark here

Kazuma clenched his right fist and was about to punch her.Bookmark here

Buzz.Bookmark here

"Oh, seems like someone sent me a message!"Bookmark here

"Maybe those two?"Bookmark here

"Let me check."Bookmark here

Shiho read the message and then showed it to Kazuma.Bookmark here

[Sorry, but Shinya and I have to do something. Enjoy the day without us!] Hirata wrote.Bookmark here

Kazuma sighed.Bookmark here

"Are they kidding me? Today's finally the day in the month where we can take a break from all the stuff involving gangs."Bookmark here

"..."Bookmark here

Shiho looked thoughtful at the message.Bookmark here

"Something wrong?" Kazuma asked. Bookmark here

"It's just my brother."Bookmark here

"Shinya?"Bookmark here

"Recently, he's kinda suspicious..."Bookmark here

"What do you mean?"Bookmark here

"He goes out every night and comes home with new injuries."Bookmark here

"What?!"Bookmark here

Kazuma was shocked when he heard it.Bookmark here

"Could it be that Hirata is going with him?"Bookmark here

"I-I don't know..." Shiho looked down.Bookmark here

"What the heck..." Kazuma was trying to think of a possible reason.Bookmark here

It was silent for a few minutes.Bookmark here

"Aaahhh, whatever! Thinking about it now is pointless! Let's just ask them the next time we see them." Kazuma decided as he stood up abruptly from the bench.Bookmark here

"Y-yeah, you're right." Shiho, who was slightly surprised by Kazuma, agreed.Bookmark here

Kazuma took a deep breath.Bookmark here

"Well, in the end, they're Hirata and Shinya. As if they would plot something bad, right?" he reassured the worried Shiho with a kind smirk.Bookmark here

"Yes." her smile returned on her face as she softly agreed with him.Bookmark here

He sat down again.Bookmark here

"Now, what should we do? Let's enjoy our break." Kazuma asked.Bookmark here

"Hmmm..." Shiho was thinking.Bookmark here

Buzz.Bookmark here

"?"Bookmark here

This time, Kazuma's phone vibrated in his pocket.Bookmark here

"Who is it?" Shiho asked as she tried to lean closer on him to see his the message.Bookmark here

He jumped off the bench.Bookmark here

"D-don't startle me like that!"Bookmark here

"Sorry, I also have urgent business to attend! See you tomorrow!" Kazuma waved his hands and began to run away.Bookmark here

"Wai-"Bookmark here

Before she could say anything, Kazuma was already too far away to hear her.Bookmark here

While he was running, he read the message all over again with a pure and excited expression.Bookmark here

[Honey? Could you come home now, please?]Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.