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--- I could see the stars.
I couldn't see anything but the stars.
The night sky, cut off by the shape of the back alley, was thin and stifling.
However, lying down, the only thing I could do was look at the night sky. As if my body had been impaled by lead, I found it troublesome to even blink, let alone move a single finger. There was not a single wound on my skin, and it was probably not my body that had received the fatal wound, but my spirit instead.
The night wind in April was cold.
I felt really tired.
"--- you can't stop."
Someone spoke in my head.
I knew that it was my own voice. Even though I knew that, I could no longer move. I shouldn't have a single bit of energy left in me to move.
I thought I heard a voice.
That shouldn't be possible.
The ones who were searching for me should have been left far behind. Even my own kind should not be able to feel my presence either.
"...... hehh. ...... is there really someone here, < Caean >."
The voice seemed to be talking to someone.
But, there was only a single figure. And he didn't seem to be talking to a cellphone. Even though Caean was a strange name, as if acting on suggestion, the figure walked straight towards here.
( --- huh?)
"Woah, it's right here."
Just a meter away, the figure stopped in surprise.
And I could finally see his face.
He was about sixteen, or seventeen. He had a mischievous look on his face, the face of a young man.
Clad over his standard size uniform, was a sports jacket. Despite having a single burn-like streak on the side of his cheek, I could catch a glimpse of that inborn, mischievous sort of boyish winsomeness from his pitch-black eyes.
Scratching his head, the young man said.
"What's wrong with today? People are lying on the ground one after another."
"...... you can leave me alone."
On hearing my reply, the young man trembled in a terribly exaggerated manner.
"You are awake?"
"It doesn't matter."
"Anyway, please leave me alone. You wouldn't like to get hurt because you carelessly got involved with a stranger right?"
"...... is someone after you?"
He finally realized it, I thought.
As you can see, I'm a troublesome fella. You should just leave me and get out of here. If you start to act just a little more kindly to the effect of even bringing in the police, then no matter how reckless it is, I'll have a good reason to move. Regardless of whichever side gets taken down, I have nothing to lose.
It's the usual thing.
I was just resting for a while. After that, I would just go back to the usual state. That determination resided in me for those few seconds.
"In that case: Well met."
The young man just said something outrageous.
"...... well met?"
"I'm a bodyguard. Probably cheaper than anyone else you can find."
He continued spouting nonsense.
"Bodyguard? You are just a high school student right?"
"Can't a high school student to be a bodyguard? Incidentally, it's just a thousand yen for handling one round of trouble, and you can rest easy from after school until late night."
It sounded really stupid.
It might not be my place for me to say this, but even if this were the most extreme distasteful caricature, I felt that it was a little too much to take in. Just a little while ago, I was just alongside the extraordinary, and yet, all of a sudden, reality and fiction seemed to have swapped places.
I murmured again,
The next moment, I found your outstretched hand.
"Give me your hand. And what's your name?"
I kept silent.
I was bewildered. I was hesitant. I was at a loss.
Helplessly, unbecoming of myself, I was confused.
More importantly, I was bewildered at my own self.
Why did I...... respond to you?
Why, when I found it supposedly troublesome to lift even a finger, did I grasp your warm hand, and told you my name?
"Nata huh. What a girlish, cute, lovely name. --- I'm Haserou. Inumi Haserou. Nice to meet you."
There and then, you smiled for the first time.
Your grin blended gently into the night, with your smiling face like the bright moon.
I would probably never be able to say this to your face, so at the very least, let this heart of mine confess honestly.
I was enthralled.
All my life up till now, your smiling face --- the smiling face of Inumi Haserou was the most precious thing to me.
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