Chapter 40:

The visitor (part 1: Unexpected message)

The Dusk of Revenge

   After the ceremony ended, we all went back to our rooms. I'd been in a good mood for most of it because of how well my day had gone until then. But now that it was over…

I could feel myself getting nervous again. It felt like an awful time to realize something about myself and what I wanted from life — especially since my conversation with Kizuna.

But even though she hadn't given any indication yet, I didn't think she would object if I asked her out. Not when we were both so obviously into each other. She made it clear enough two hours ago. And as long as I was careful not to touch too much on the subject, there wasn't anything stopping us from going further.

So why am I so nervous? Why is this weighing on my mind? What's wrong with me?

It felt like I couldn't get away from my own thoughts no matter where I looked. My hands kept shaking and I just found myself staring at random things.

"Shinji, is it okay if I come in?"

Shuna opened up the door and entered without waiting for permission. Even though I hadn't invited her to do so, I decided to let her. When I did nothing to stop her, she sat down on my bed beside me and started talking. "You're awfully quiet. Is something bothering you?"

The way she said it made it sound like she already knew. I don't know how she can sense these things so easily.

"…You too, Shuna."

She gave me a surprised look. "Me too?"

"Yeah. Just as much as me…"

We both fell silent again. Then she pulled over one of the pillows and laid her head on it. She crossed her arms under her head and closed her eyes.

"Could I ask you something?"

"Sure," I replied.

"Why are you being so weird today?"

That caught me off guard. I thought for a moment before responding.

"Could I ask you the same thing? You seemed pretty happy during the ceremony, but now you seem kind of down."

She rolled onto her side and faced me. That alone made it impossible to ignore the tension in the air. She raised her eyebrows just slightly and tilted her head to the side. Her expression conveyed a lot more than words ever could.

"Well... The truth is, I got a message from my sister an hour ago."

"A message? From whom?"

"From Fuyuka."

Her name was familiar. "Wait, Fuyuka? I thought she cut ties with your family ages ago?"

She nodded once and continued. "Yes, she did. There was some sort of dispute between my grandfather and her. She left the house to achieve independence and has been living on her own ever since. Until recently, we had no idea where she was."

"The commander is pretty harsh sometimes, huh?"

"He's strict. I remember the time I told him that I am joining the military to follow his path. He was furious. 'Do you really want to be like me?' he asked. He wanted everyone in the family to live peaceful lives away from conflict. Fuyuka and I were the only ones who chose otherwise."

She sounded like she regretted it now. "I have chosen to join the military, while Fuyuka has decided to become an idol singer. We are both different people and I wish I could tell her to be herself. But even though we haven't spoken in years, I still love her."

"I see. I remember hearing about her from the commander when I was a trainee. He spoke highly of her character."

"My father never approved of her. He used to say that she was too free-spirited for someone with so many responsibilities. He always thought she should be more careful with her choices. Though, I guess it was inevitable that they wouldn't get along very well."

"For some reason, I feel like I've heard you talk about your family before."

"Don't you remember? When I first met you, I mentioned that I grew up with five siblings..."

"I can only remember how you called me uncle despite being only one year older than you," I replied.

She smiled wryly.

"So, yes Uncle Shinji, I have five brothers and sisters. They are all younger than me, and three of them are girls. My parents worked hard to raise us all so that we could pursue a peaceful life."

"So, what did she say in her message?"

"In short, she just wanted to see me. She will visit the base tomorrow."


"That's right. Tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow? Why?"

"She recognized my face in the newsfeeds. Apparently, she became curious after seeing my picture and has decided to pay me a surprise visit."

"Uh… Okay. That makes sense, I suppose."


"You got quiet once again, Shuna," I murmured as I gazed at her. She lowered her gaze and stared back at me.

"It's not like I'm happy about this."

"I know."

"But the truth is, I want to see her. I haven't seen her in years, and we've never had any contact whatsoever until now. There is a feeling in my heart that I won't be able to move forward until we meet each other again. Maybe she's changed or maybe she hasn't. Either way, I'll find out tomorrow. When the time comes, can I rely on you? Can I trust you?"

"Of course."

"Good. Thank you." She then raised her head and looked at me directly in the eye. "And Shinji? If you're going to do anything stupid, let me know ahead of time, okay?"

"Anything stupid? What does that mean?"

Shuna leaned in closer and whispered into my ear. "Let me rephrase that. If you plan on doing anything stupid tonight, there is no need to tell me."

"Are you drunk? You know this isn't the time for jokes, Shuna. Someone might misunderstand you."

She giggled quietly and then closed her eyes and whispered again. "If you are planning on doing anything stupid, just remember that I was here for you, Uncle Shinji."

With those last words, she fell asleep.

"Looks like I won't enjoy my comfy bed tonight," I muttered as I slowly stood up.

On the tips of my toes, I silently walked out of the room. As I left, I glanced back at Shuna sleeping peacefully. She looked like a child, lying there without a care in the world
Shiniji Takahashi and Kizuna Tomori

The Dusk of Revenge