Chapter 40:

Strength to See


The girl launched herself at Saki so fast that Saki didn't know what to think. She wanted to shout out to the girl, but it was already beyond words at this point for the girl. There was only one intention with her. The stranger pulled her leg around from behind adding spin to it as she turned. Saki lifted her arms up to block the incoming kick, bracing for the impact.

Chapter 40 – Strength to See

Saki was able to take the blow, keeping her head safe. It did still manage to knock her off her feet into the bushes from before. The girl landed on the ground lightly watching and waiting to see what became of Saki.

‘I didn’t even do anything!’ The bush poked and stabbed at Saki while she laid back. She held her position for the moment trying to find a way to deal with the problem. The junior high schooler had attacked the boy without mercy. This meant it’d be no different for her, but she didn't understand the reason. It seemed so pointless to want to fight just for the sake. ‘…Yuki…’ The word rushed her head recalling memories and feelings forcing her back to her feet, hair a little worse for wear. “What’s your problem?”

“What’s your problem? I can tell that barely even hurt you and yet you lay there in the bushes wasting my time.” The girl threw a straight, easy to block, punch. Now she tested her rather than trying to do harm. “You know how to fight, but you’re wasting it defending yourself. Fight me for real!”

Saki felt the punch vibrate through her arm even though she blocked it with an open palm. She shook her head at the girl in disappointment. Afterwards, she lowered her body down and used her shoulder to push the girl back, clearing the distance between them. “You don’t understand the meaning of having strength!”

The girl slid and stepped back as she was thrown free of Saki. She sprinted back launching a high kick towards Saki’s head. “No, you don’t get it! Strength is wasted if you don’t keep it sharp! You have to push your limits!” Saki blocked the kick and grabbed her leg, keeping her from going anywhere. However, the battle hungry girl wasn't taking it as a failure. She pushed herself into the air, throwing her body into Saki. This brought up her arm to strike down at Saki’s face.

A tilt of her head evaded the punch, but Saki still felt the sting. Following, it partially released the girl from her grasp. . ‘The girl’s crazy and completely closed minded. She’s as bad as Seiji!’ Saki let the momentum of the girl’s body carry her. She threw the girl into the grass, but the spry girl landed on one knee staring back. The mix of anger and pleasure from a challenge seemed to be interwoven on the girl’s face.

Across the street in that bookstore, Yuki reached for his wonderful haul. The cashier finished clearing the transaction. “Thank you, sir!”

He smiled back and nodded, lifting his books up a little to get them back into position on him. “No, thank you! I’ve been looking for several of these in tankoubon, but they’ve been sold out.” Yuki left the store with a very wide grin on his face, pleased with this week’s reading. However, he looked around the sidewalk looking for an angry, upset Saki and found none.

They were supposed to meet outside of the bookstore ten minutes ago, but he lost track of time in the store. When he realized that he rushed to get his purchases, but now she was nowhere to be found. “Where’s she gone? She said to meet here I know… She didn’t get tired of waiting and leave did she?” Yuki looked around the sidewalk and across the street once more with no more luck in finding her. “No, she wouldn’t leave. If anything she’d just barge into the store and pull me out by my collar without letting me pay.”

The image of Saki looking impatient and angry storming through the bookstore played through his mind. It made him laugh a little to himself knowing how often he lost purchases due to that. Unfortunately, the mood turned sour when he pictured himself getting dragged out of the store losing all of the manga that he had in his arms. He tightened his hold on his books reflexively. “…scary…”

Yuki took a few steps around the bookstore trying not to go too far away. “Saki! Saki!” However, he wasn’t finding any sign of her nearby. “Where’d she go? Saki?” Yuki stood around for another minute thinking to himself and weighing the choices that he had. The decision soon came when he was distracted by a noise and murmuring of a crowd. Across the street everyone stopped to look at the park.

“Huh? What’s going on over there?” He shifted the weight of his manga and made his way to the crosswalk nearby at the intersection. It was a longer way around, but he didn't want to run across the street with the precious cargo in his arms. When he arrived the crowd had shrunk, but it was still gathering people with curiosity. He leaned over to a businessman that had stopped for a while looking confused. “Do you know what’s going on?”

“No, there’s just some strange noises coming from there like someone’s breaking the park.”

“Have the police come?”

“No, not that I saw.”

A woman that had been there longer corrected the man speaking up to Yuki. “I saw a teenage girl go in there a while ago, but I haven’t seen her since.”

Yuki became increasingly curious about what went on as another loud crash of metal echoed out. He looked at the other onlookers through his books questioningly. The adults seemed only interested enough to listen. Their lack of civic duty (or maybe curiosity?) made Yuki a little frustrated. ‘I wonder if the girl they saw was Saki… Only one way to know…’

He readjusted himself with his books once more and pushed through the remaining thin crowd to get to the entrance of the park. “I’m going to find out what’s going on.” The others looked back at each other confused about what he expected for them.

Everywhere he walked he could see things thrown about the park. It looked like someone had emptied all of the trash bins in the park and spread the contents. Then as though unsatisfied with just throwing junk around they drove a motorcycle or bicycle through destroying all of the flowers and half the bushes. “Saki?!” He hoped for a response, but there was nothing. “What happened here?”

As he went deeper into the park there were even more than just clashes of metal and things breaking. He was certain that he was hearing girls' voices shouting and grunting, but he didn't know why. “What the…” Yuki pushed on walking with some caution in his step as he approached closer to what he believed to be the source. The noises became louder along with the voices becoming clearer to him. “Is someone fighting back there?”

“Are all you going to do is preach to me?”

“I’m not going to fight you!”

“I’m not letting you go!”

“I think that’s Saki!” Yuki recognized her voice. It pushed his feet forward a little faster to get through the distance. He appeared around the foliage with Saki jumping away from a girl attacking her. “Hey Saki!”

The junior high schooler caught Yuki’s voice by reflex and turned her head over to him. There wasn't even a moment’s thought as she charged for a loaded down Yuki. Yuki stepped back, not certain what he had gotten himself into now. She sprinted for him with a look in her eye that he was all too familiar with.

Saki had slid back to keep her distance from the girl, but that immediately changed when she noticed the change in target. The Yuki Protection Meter jumped to an immediate five and Saki burst into a full sprint to close the distance in time. Her mind was no longer thinking. The thoughts of staying out of the fight and being peaceful vaporized with a narrowed look in her eye.

The girl was in mid-air pulling back her arm for a quick punch, but Saki covered the ground with remarkable speed. Using the already built up momentum, she brought up her leg horizontally as she leapt. It connected her thigh to knee with the girl’s stomach. The strike knocked the wind out of her and coughed up some saliva.

Her sudden change in speed and direction bent her over and around Saki’s leg. An instant after, she flew her away into the bushes, disappearing with only her legs sticking up. Saki came to a sliding landing on the cement, rotating around to check Yuki. “Are you alright?”

“Wow, Saki! That was an awesome kick!”

Saki twitched a little hearing that as his reaction. She marched over to him glaring at him a little annoyed. “I asked if you’re hurt!”

“Oh uh? Yeah I’m fine. Not even a scratch.”

Saki looked Yuki up and down trying to get through the wall of manga that he carried. “I thought you were only getting a few today?”

Yuki’s face turned red looking embarrassed. He almost lost control of his books, but salvaged them in time. “Well I found some that I’ve been looking for a while for.” He blinked, catching the moving, twitching leg of the girl left in the foliage. “Who’s the girl?”

“I’m not sure yet. I’ve been trying to calm her down.”

“By hitting her? She looks like she’s in junior high!”

Saki snapped her head over at Yuki. “What?! No, she attacked me!”

“But look how hard you hit her. You probably knocked her unconscious!” Yuki set down his books, realizing that they were getting in his way. He walked over to the bush looking in and then away getting a little embarrassed from the sight he caught. “How could you be so mean?”

“What?! But I didn’t…” Saki swung back and forth between anger and guilt. She didn't even realize that she was being defensive with Yuki. “I was protecting you!”

“Well you didn’t have to hit her so hard, she’s younger than you.”

“She was attacking me and that other guy! Why you treating me like the villain here?”

He leaned into the bush trying to find something safe to grab onto the girl. “Just teasing a little, I know there's a rational explanation. But first, help me get her out of the bush, Saki.” There was silence from behind him as he looked around for an arm amongst the leaves. He thrashed around with his hands going between the branches trying to keep free and not get scratched up in the process.

“Hah!” He finally located the arm. When he went to grab the girl’s arm he felt the bush shift and move suddenly. Yuki looked over at the girl to see if she was trying to get out. However, he saw that it was Saki who exchanged Yuki’s slightly confused face for a begrudging assistance. “Saki…”

It took her a moment, but they finally had the girl by the arms. Yuki counted the time down with Saki to pull together. They freed the girl and set her back on her feet, bracing her for support. Yuki let her go making sure that she didn't fall over while she was still unconscious. “Umm…little girl? Are you alright?” He put his hand on her shoulder hoping to be able to get her to wake up with a little shaking. “You hit her pretty hard, Saki…”

Panic and guilt ran over Saki as she tried to wake the kid up. “H-hey-hey! You okay? She was pretty lively, sort of surprised that was enough.”

“You didn’t really hold back there.”

“I did!” Yuki gave her a questioning look. “Half…maybe two-thirds, but I didn’t go all out! She’s a kid!”

“Hm…um, can you look for identification?”


“We need to find out who she is and try to get her to her parents.” Saki looked back at him with a confused look. “You really think it’s a good idea a teenage boy—”

“Yes, right! I’ll do it.” Saki knelt down staring at the girl. The matter of finding identification was going to be difficult for them if she didn't have it on her. She couldn't find any school bag or pack that she might have been carrying, leaving only her school uniform. Saki swallowed slowly, not sure what she felt about having to help this girl.

The search had to wait. Their new friend started to move on her own slowly looking up. It only took a moment, as though it was programmed into her, for her to leap, taking a safe distance away from a still kneeling Saki and going into an attack stance.

Yuki jumped in between the two. “Woah! We aren’t here to hurt you! It’s alright Miss…” He offered his hand out to her as an invitation. However, she just stared at him almost with disgust. “I’m Yuki.”

The girl didn't change her stance towards the two of them. She checked out of her left eye to see the muscular teen was still nearby keeping his distance from any of them. His silence nearly made him seem invisible, contrary to his size. “I was mistaken…”

Saki stood up from the grass looking around Yuki at the girl. “So you’re apologizing for attacking us?”

“I thought he was a worthy opponent, but he’s just a weakling.”

Saki couldn't help but flinch a little from the unexpected response. She stepped around Yuki towards the girl. “I’m Saki! What’s your name?”

The tiny girl still looked narrowly at Saki, but finally backed off her stance standing normally. She looked disappointed or frustrated. “I’m Chiharu…”

Saki looked over towards the boy from their school hoping to finally get a word out of him. However, he remained quiet, not quite staring, but more just watching them. They were interrupted by the sound of something breaking under foot. Chiharu immediately snapped, turning towards the noise in a prepared stance. Saki rushed over to Chiharu putting her hand on her shoulder hoping to ease her down.

Out of the exit of the park, or entrance in this case, came three boys with rough trouble seeking looks. They stopped just inside the park taking notice of the four students. However, as Yuki looked around, the center boy, wearing a different high school uniform, pointed to Yuki. “Hey boys, looks like we got lucky! Wait…You’re Hayashi aren’t you?! I’ve got some payback for you!”