Sofia firmly stood on a long and silky carpet.
It was a newly built hotel, one bus stop away from the Kazuki household. She was in the suite on the highest floor.
In front of her was a man sitting on a luxurious sofa. He appeared to be in his late 20s, but had all white hair and was wearing a white suit.
He was the second in command of the Jevini Family - Juan the underboss.
Sofia had been reporting Sabrina's case to him; however, it was impossible to tell if Juan was listening to her while he filed his nails.
After filing his pinkie, he blew at it and finally opened his mouth to talk.
"So, you couldn't bring Sabrina back?"
"No, to be precise, I didn't bring her back. There was an error in the information that I received. Sabrina hadn't been forcefully taken away, she was there under her own will. She even said with her own mouth that she wanted to remain there."
"I've returned to hear your opinion on the matter, underboss."
Juan glared at Sofia like a predator eyeing his prey, until he returned his gaze back to his nails.
"I ordered you to bring back Sabrina, but you couldn't. You've failed your mission."
When you look at the outcome, Sofia failed. She didn't have anything to say for herself.
"... But please give me some time. I will persuade her for sure."
Sofia strongly looked at the sofa. In response, Juan flexed his shoulders.
"It seems like Sabrina doesn't want to return. She is staying in the 'Happy Crown' household, isn't she? If it were me, I wouldn't stay there even if I was asked. Isn't it possible that the boy is blackmailing Sabrina? They might even be doing drugs."
Sofia was surprised. Noticing that, Juan stopped filing his nails.
"The boy is the son of 'Happy Crown,' isn't he? It's quite possible. Drugs, blackmail, brainwashing... the body as well as the mind, you see."
He smiled slightly.
This person was rotten to the core. He enjoyed watching other people in distress; watching them with glee and a shady look.
He saw things... he wasn't supposed to see.
But what Juan said was certainly convincing.
Sabrina was never a girl who expressed herself honestly...
But to think she actually spoke her mind.
Sofia was hesitant. What did she need to do?
Then Juan spoke to her as if to give her one last push.
"Well, we don't have time to leisurely talk it over with her. At this rate, not only will the family fall into trouble, she will as well. It wouldn't be strange if an organization attacks us now. I will give you one more chance, you must bring back Sabrina this time."
"What is it? I think I just gave you an order, though?"
In the mafia world, refusing an order from a senior was not permitted.
Sofia could only shut her mouth in response.
She bowed her head and exited the room.
After leaving the suite, Sofia stiffly walked along the luxurious hallway. She entered the elevator to get to the floor her room was on.
There were no other people in the elevator.
The door slowly shut and the number indicating the current floor descended one by one.
Sofia slammed her fist on the wall. Her eyes were filled with rage.
"That parachute bastard. I'll rip out his precious nails and pour molten steel on them."
Her anger erupted.
Was she angry because of how cocky Juan was acting now that the boss was gone?
Was she angry at the boy named Kazuki who was with Sabrina?
Or was she angry at the fact that Sabrina rejected her for the first time?
Sofia didn't know where her anger came from.
— "The boy is the son of 'Happy Crown,' isn't he? It's quite possible. Drugs, blackmail, brainwashing... the body as well as the mind, you see."
Remembering what Juan had said to her, Sofia slammed her fist against the wall again.
There were a few things that Sofia couldn't accept; however, Sofia understood that she had to bring back Sabrina at all costs.
She remembered what Sabrina said.
— "I won't go back."
She had never seen Sabrina behave like that.
The boss gave you everything.
You're no longer a "hidden child."
You don't have to live like that anymore.
Why won't you come back?
Is it because you want to stay with that boy?
Sofia didn't know much... but.
"I have to carry out my mission... for the family, for myself, and for Sabrina as well. I will make you return with me... even if I have to get violent."
As soon as she finished thinking, the elevator door opened.
Today's lesson had just finished.
"Oh, a text."
As Kazuki headed towards the shoe lockers, the phone inside his pocket vibrated. Sabrina sent him the text.
"I'll be waiting for you at the front gate," was the short message from her.
"I'm coming now."
As Kazuki sent his reply, someone tapped on his shoulder from behind.
"See you later Kazuki."
"Huh? You're going home early today, Ryouta. You usually stay behind and play after school. Have you finally realized that your grades are in danger?"
The students in his school were now preparing for their midterm exams.
During preparation, all extracurricular activities (like clubs) were on break.
However; just because the clubs were on break, didn't mean the students actually studied.
"Are you an idiot? The clubs are on break, so why would we waste our time studying? I'm going out to play with my fellow baseball club members."
There were students like Ryouta who preferred to mess around.
"Anyways, most of the teachers are at a teachers' conference, so the school closes at 5 o'clock."
"Ah, they mentioned that in the homeroom today."
"There aren't many teachers around, so now is the time to run amok! Tonight is karaoke! I'll sing my heart out~."
"...That's great and all, but will you be ok with the tests next week?"
"I'm living in the moment! I won't regret anything!"
However, Kazuki knew that Ryouta would regret it on test day. He had seen it happen countless times.
Since the two of them were in the same class, they walked to the shoe lockers together. Kazuki could only look at his carefree friend Ryouta's back as he walked away.
Kazuki reached into his shoe rack.
When he reached into his assigned shoe locker as usual, something was on top of his shoes.
"... What's this?"
It was a pink piece of paper, slightly bigger than the size of his hand.
Kazuki didn't know who could've sent him a letter.
When Kazuki flipped it over without thinking about it too much, he was stunned.
"... C-could this beeee!?"
A cute illustration of a bubbly animal...
Round female-like handwriting...
And the heading "To Kazuki Ootaki-kun..."
"T-this is... don't tell me... no... it can't be..."
He looked around him in shock. It could've been a prank.
But the only person capable of pulling this prank was Ryouta, and he had already left. The possibility was low.
Kazuki looked around once more just to be sure, but there wasn't anyone looking at him.
It doesn't seem to be a prank.
With trembling hands, Kazuki opened the envelope and held out the twice folded letter.
"I am sorry for suddenly sending you this letter. There is something that I really want to say, so please come alone to second year class six today at half past five. I'll be waiting for you...."
He calmly closed the letter and placed it back in the envelope. Kazuki looked cold on the outside.
In his heart a wave of emotions were clashing within him. The only reason why he appeared to be calm was because he was paralyzed with shock.
When Kazuki's brain recovered from the shock, it quickly sent out an emergency notice to his body.
This was most likely a "love letter!?"
No no, I shouldn't be asking "for what," if it was a love letter.
"Huh? There's no name on it."
Kazuki checked the envelope and letter, but sender's name was nowhere to be found.
... I'm so happy.
I've never received a love letter in my life, so I'm very happy.
Ahh, what should I do? I have Kinoshita in my heart...
No no, we're not dating, and there's no way Kinoshita likes me!
Ah, I feel like crying just thinking about it.
Why do I feel so sad when I just received a love letter?
"A-anyways, let's calm down. Deep breaths..."
Kazuki took a deep breath and quietly exhaled.
For some reason, he felt slightly better.
He took a deep breath and tried to calm dow—.
Someone behind him suddenly talked.
What a surprise!
Kazuki thought his heart was going to jump out of his chest.
Coughing loudly, Kazuki turned around and saw a girl holding a briefcase that didn't match her small body and twin tails - Sabrina.
Kazuki quickly hid the love letter.
He knew that Sabrina couldn't find out about the letter.
"S-Sabrina. W-what's up?"
"I came to find you since you didn't come after so long. Did something happen?"
"No! No no. Nothing at all! There's no problem!"
"Why are you denying it so much?"
Kazuki denied it repeatedly so that Sabrina wouldn't be suspicious of him, but it appeared to have backfired.
"...Are you really ok?"
Sabrina asked once more with an expressionless face.
Although Sabrina didn't have any particular expression, Kazuki has started noticing subtle differences lately.
Kazuki took control of his expressions knowing that he couldn't afford to be any more conspicuous.
He tried to talk.
"It's alright. There's noting rong.”
He sounded painfully obvious.
Sabrina stared at him coolly.
Kazuki knew what she was going to say.
Her gaze was extremely painful.
Kazuki was able to talk his way out of it somehow, and since there was some time left until the meeting time he decided to leave school with Sabrina. They stopped by the shopping district and bought some groceries.
Fidget fidget. Doki doki. Heh Heh.
Noticing what he was doing, he quickly returned to his normal facial expression...
But he couldn't keep a straight face and went back to fidgeting....
Kazuki repeated this cycle over and over again.
It hasn't even been a minute since he last checked his phone, but he opened his (flip style) phone to check the time.
Step step. Fidget fidget. Flip.
Step step. Doki doki. Flip.
Step step. Heh heh. Flip
Anyone could tell that he was insane.
Since Sabrina wasn't the type to start a conversation, she was pretty quiet if Kazuki was.
Not noticing this, Kazuki checked the time on his phone again.
...It was 15 past 5.
If he didn't head back now, he would be late.
I better take action now....
Right, let's do this! Yeah, I can do it!
I've been running it over in my head, and if I stay calm, I can succeed!
Kazuki made up his mind and started taking action.
"Ah— not good—. I left something behind at school. I would be in trouble without it—. I need to go back and get it even though it's troublesome—. Sorry Sabrina, but do you want to go back first—?"
Maintaining his calmness and a straight face, he said the lines that he practiced in his head.
Great, it was perfect.
Kazuki wore an unnatural smile.
With this, Sabrina should—.
She's suspecting me——!?
But being suspect didn't really matter, she hasn't noticed it yet.
This is the turning point.
... I can't look away, I'll get killed!
Kazuki felt the chilly air blowing behind him and kept the smile on his face.
"........ Si. I understand."
After what felt like 10 minutes, Sabrina answered Kazuki.
Kazuki felt like he just won the greatest battle in all his life.
"N-no, I meant 'Alright, time to get the things even though it's troublesome'."
"... It's really suspicious."
"No. It's nothing. Then, I'll carry the groceries home."
"Ah, yeah. Sorry about that. I'll come back as soon as possible, so bye!"
Kazuki turned around and rushed to the school.
Thank god it worked out somehow... although, I do feel sorry for Sabrina.
Kazuki reached the school gates. Since he ran to school and sweat a lot, he tried to dry himself and checked his phone for the time.
"I've got 5 minutes. Good."
Since the front gates were shut, he had to head towards the back entrance. Even though the back entrance was also shut, he was able to get in through a hole in the fence.
At Kazuki's school, the school building surrounded the field and was divided into the east and west buildings. The second and third years used the east building while the first years and the miscellaneous classrooms were in the west building. He was able to get in the east building via the emergency exit (the door is broken).
Did she call him out because she knew that there were no teachers in school today?
Thinking about who the girl might be, Kazuki made his way up to the sixth class of the second year.
He walked up the dim stairs and passed the silent corridor.
He reached the rendezvous.
There was light coming from the classroom.
The person who sent him the letter should be waiting in that room.
Kazuki swallowed nervously.
With his trembling hand, he slowly opened the cracked door.
The girl inside was looking out the window. Her face wasn't visible to Kazuki yet.
Ah, don't tell me...
The girl's back was...
The girl had her brown hair held in place with hairpins.
Don't tell me, it can't be—.
Kazuki had seen the girl's back before. No, he had been looking at it all the time.
The girl turned around.
Surprisingly, the girl was Saki Kinoshita.
Hence, the person who sent him the love letter was Saki as well.
Kazuki has a crush on Kinoshita...
But he always thought that his feelings were unrequited - he thought it was impossible for him.
If Kinoshita sent a love letter to me...
It's not a dream... right...?
Kazuki couldn't believe the situation.
Step by step, Saki walked closer to him.
Kazuki couldn't speak.
Unconsciously, he stopped moving. Saki drew even closer to him.
Am I finally getting confessed to!? And by Kinoshita who I have a crush on!? Was this really happening?
C-could we go to school and eat lunch together from now on?
And do some gardening together on the weekends... wow. What is this!? I'm so happy!
Kinoshita was already blushing.
No, I should think about those events later on.
I need to think about my answer to Kinoshita's confession.
Step by step, the distance between them shortened.
As the distance shortened, Kazuki's heartbeat increased proportionally.
Saki, who was standing before him, shyly opened her mouth to talk.
At that moment, Kazuki had a brilliant idea.
I like Kinoshita as well.
That means that I shouldn't make Kinoshita confess right now.
Knowing her feelings, Kazuki didn't need to hesitate any longer.
This is something that the guy should shout out!
Kazuki firmly decided to say it himself.
"Kinoshita! All this time, I've—."
"W-what did you want to say to me?"
"Liked shellfishes as well!"
After hearing Saki's unexpected question, Kazuki quickly changed what he was about to say.
"T-that's right! Ah ha ha ha ha ha. I always thought that you might like roasted shellfishes!"
"Huh? .... F- food that I like? Hmm, I like fried shrimps, though..."
"I see! Fried shrimps are great! They taste the best when they're fried! Ah ha ha ha ha ha...."
It was anguishing. However, Kazuki could only laugh like that.
"S-so, what Ootaki-kun wanted to say... was that?"
Saki somehow appeared let down.
Something didn't sound right to Kazuki.
"Wait, what do you mean what I wanted to say?"
"Y-yeah, didn't Ootaki-kun call me out to tell me something?"
In an instant, Kazuki's head went blank.
He couldn't understand what Saki just said.
Hmm, what happened?
I had something to say to Kinoshita?
Then the confession—.
"T-that's right! What about the confession?"
By mistake, he thought out loud.
"Huh!? C-c-c-confession!? Tha- w-what!? Ootaki wasn't going to!? Ah!"
Saki closed her mouth with her cheeks bright red.
He felt a sense of incongruity.
For some reason, their stories didn't match up. Kazuki removed the love letter he found in his shoe locker from his pocket.
"I found this letter in my shoe locker, but Kinoshita didn't send it to me?"
She also pulled an envelope out of her pocket.
"Huh? But I got one in my locker as well?"
It seemed like someone called both of them out using the letters.
Then who on earth did it? And why?
Suddenly, the cleaning closet door opened.
From the closet, Sabrina rolled out.
"... I made a mistake."
"How strange. Why is there a broomstick here?"
"No no! It's normal for there to be a broom stick inside a cleaning closet! What's strange is you being inside the closet! Why are you here!?"
Sabrina picked the cleaning equipment up and showed Kazuki a letter she removed from her pocket.
"Your brother is going to flirt with a girl afterschool. Heh heh heh... what the hell!? Why is Sabrina's letter written like this?"
"I trusted you Onii-chan, but as you returned to school, I arrived here first and waited for you in the closet."
Sabrina let out a threatening aura.
"What were you going to talk about with this woman?"
"N-no, I'm not too sure either..."
Sabrina turned away from the muttering Kazuki and faced Saki.
"Saki Kinoshita. You've got guts to toy with my brother."
"Eh? N-no! You're wrong, w-wait, Sabrina. Kyaa!"
Sabrina started to bite Saki's hand mercilessly.
"I don't know what you're saying, Sabrina!"
"Sabrina, talk or bite - not both!"
Sabrina let go of Saki's hand.
"Si. I said 'It's useless.' Now then—!"
She resumed biting.
"Kyaaa—ah. Don't biteee!"
"Ahhh, Sabrina, you shouldn't bite—!"
Kazuki hugged Sabrina from behind and separated her from Saki. Saki's eyes were teary and she was blowing on the hand Sabrina had bitten.
Sabrina turned around and hugged Kazuki.
"... Like this."
It looked like she was trying to suck up his energy like she did when they had sukiyaki. Sabrina clung to him like a leech for a while.
Kazuki was surprised, but he still gave Sabrina's head a pat.
Then Kazuki realized something.
"...Then who called us out?"
He muttered softly.
Ding dong ding dong.
Suddenly the notification sound rang out from the speaker.
Even though there shouldn't be anyone else in the school...
「Looks like everyone is here.」
A clear voice spoke through the speaker. Kazuki has heard that voice before.
It was Sofia, a solider of the Jevini Family and Sabrina's teacher in the art of assassination.
Kazuki tensed up. Sabrina must've tensed up as well, because she gripped Kazuki's arm tighter.
"Hey - why is Sofia-san here?"
Kazuki almost moaned. Saki didn't seem to understand and stood there blankly.
「Hu hu, you must be surprised. Well, it's not a surprise. There are cameras installed in the classroom, so I can see your movements.」
Kazuki looked around but couldn't see the cameras.
"Were you the one who set this up, Sofia?"
Sabrina cautiously stepped in front of Kazuki and Saki.
「I don't like meaningless questions. Didn't I tell you that? ... Sabrina.」
"What are you trying to do?"
「It would be faster to show you instead of explaining it. Look under the lectern.」
Being the closest one to the lectern, Sabrina looked under it reluctantly.
Sabrina's eyes lit up with agitation after seeing what was there.
"Oh, it's just an alarm clock?"
Saki blinked her eyes as she saw the object.
"... Both of you, please step back. This is a bomb."
Kazuki didn't believe his ears. However... Sabrina wasn't the type to joke or pull a prank. He was able to see from her frozen facial expression that she was serious.
"Kinoshita, take cover at the back of the class!"
Pushing the tables aside, they all backed up to the rear of the room.
「It's futile. I've installed bombs all over the school and can set them all off with the push of a button.」
If those bombs explode... Kazuki's legs started wobbling.
Assuming what she had said was true, running away from the classroom wouldn't be enough to evade the explosion. They were completely trapped.
"Ootaki-kun, is that really a bomb?"
Saki asked nervously, being the only one who didn't understand the situation.
Kazuki heavily nodded his head.
"W-who is this Sofia-san? What's going on?"
"She's after me."
"Kinoshita, this might be hard to believe, but Sabrina has her personal circumstances and became a mafia boss. The person on the speakers is trying to take Sabrina back to the mafia organization."
"Huh? Why would she do all this just to bring Sabrina back?"
"That's probably because..."
Kazuki trailed off. However, the reason was understood without Kazuki needing to explain.
Sofia spoke to Sabrina:
「Sabrina, stop behaving so spoiled and return. If you come back obediently, no-one needs to get hurt.」
「You said it before, didn't you? You said you would protect those close to you when they're in danger.」
Sofia paused for her previous statement to hit home with Sabrina.
「Look at the situation; Instead of protecting them, you're in danger as well. How can you say that you'll protect others, when you can't even protect yourself?」
Sabrina was at a loss for words. It seemed like she was unable to retort.
Maybe it was because of her anger towards Sofia, or because she was blaming herself, but Sabrina's shoulders were trembling.
Kazuki was surprised.
「It must've been hard on you as well. Let's be honest here, it was a bother right? We're talking about Sabrina after all.」
After hearing Sofia's words, Sabrina was visibly upset.
Sabrina's usual expressionless face was gone and she looked terrified... as if something she's been fearing was happening.
It's a bother to have Sabrina around...?
My usual quiet and average everyday life did disappear when Sabrina arrived...
And there has been times when Sabrina caused a lot of trouble...
But Sabrina always tried her best.
She really was a good girl.
Did I think of Sabrina as a bother?
He couldn't think of an answer no matter how hard he thought.
Sabrina, Sofia and even Saki all looked at Kazuki for his answer.
Kazuki started to feel anxious knowing that he had to say something.
"No. I won't go back."
Nothing could be heard from the speakers.
After a short silence, Sofia asked for confirmation.
「Hey, do you even know what you're saying?」
"I do. But... but I..."
「So it's ok if I detonate this?」
「Then come back.」
Sabrina knew that there were no other choices left.
She refused once more.
Saki held Sabrina's hand tightly and nodded without completely understanding what was going on.
Sofia let out a short sigh.
In the next instant the classroom flashed white with a "paa" sound.
The powerful tremor slammed against their eardrums. The shockwave pushed the three of them out of the classroom.
The bomb exploded.
Meanwhile, in the broadcasting room in the western building.
Sofia's pale face looked at the detonator in the hand that held it.
She wasn't the one who pressed it.
Desperately suppressing her anger, she questioned the man behind her.
"Why did you press the detonator, underboss?!"
"Ah ha ha ha— that bomb was surprisingly powerful."
Juan looked out the window at the school building with great interest.
In his hand, he held the detonator.
"I thought we had an agreement to use this as a threat... no, to keep them in check."
"Ah ha ha ha ha ha—ah?"
Juan gazed over at Sofia. His expression changed to a baffled one.
"But she didn't agree... You said that Sabrina would come back if we threaten her friends, but it didn't work."
"So plan A failed at that point, so we had to switch to plan B. Well, I didn't tell you about it though. Ku ku ku. Do you have any complaints? You, a soldier who always fails."
"Well, this is a great opportunity. With this, Sabrina won't be behaving so spoiled. It'll be a great experience for her."
"What if something happened to Sabrina!? And that place also had civilians!"
"Sabrina has received special training. So she shouldn't have died. As for the others... well, they were just unlucky."
For an instant, Sofia's vision went completely white with rage. She tried to attack Juan; however, due to her anger, Sofia was full of openings.
Unfortunately, one of Juan's men punched her stomach as she charged at Juan. She couldn't resist the pain and kneeled. The rest of the men pointed guns at her.
"Hey hey, how scary."
Juan held up his hand to stop his men, and started to filing his nails with a gleeful smile.
Resisting the pain in her stomach, Sofia stood up. She tried to leave the room.
"... What are you trying to do?"
"I'll go and save her."
"You mean Sabrina?"
Sofia chose not to reply to his question. The sound of Juan purposefully sighing on could be heard behind her.
"I'm disappointed in you. I was going to be nice to you, since the boss favored you, but I'll remember your actions."
Turning her back to Juan, Sofia hurried to the eastern side of the school.
Kazuki shuddered just thinking about the bomb that had exploded.
Kazuki didn't suffer much damage from being slammed into the wall by the explosion. He didn't even want to think about what would've happened if the chairs and the desks had slammed into him.
He crawled out from under the pile of chairs and the desks, and eventually managed to somehow make it out of the classroom.
Kazuki stopped breathing at the sight of the corridor.
The bombs weren't just a threat. The corridor's roof had collapsed and parts of the upper floor were visible. This floor had a big hole and the walls between the classrooms and corridors were all destroyed.
Due to the burning black smoke, the fire alarms were screeching. Some of the sprinklers were spraying water everywhere, but they weren't able to battle the flames.
This place wasn't the school that Kazuki once knew.
It was almost like a nightmare.
The only way he was able to tell that this wasn't a nightmare were his five senses.
The school building has been badly damaged; however, the classroom that Kazuki and the two others were in had not been as badly damaged - as if the bombs took it easy on them.
"Are the two of you safe!? I'll secure an escape path, so stay where you are!"
Sabrina's voice rang out through the commotion.
Thank god, she's safe. Thinking that, something about the usual cold Sabrina didn't sit right with Kazuki.
He was stunned. His legs were shivering, and he found it hard to move properly.
However, he didn't cry, because Saki was there.
Kazuki lived with Sabrina so he knew her circumstances. That was how he was swept up into this mess, but Saki had nothing to do with it. She was just an innocent bystander.
"Kinoshita! Where are you Kinoshita!?"
Saki escaped the pile of tables and walked through the corridor.
"Kinoshita, are you hurt anywhere!?"
"Ah, yeah. I'm fine."
Saki's hand was shaking as she escaped the tables.
I see, so the tables served as a protective barrier. Kazuki felt relived as he pulled Saki towards him.
All that was on his mind was returning Kinoshita to safety.
Having stood up, Saki dusted off her school uniform.
"... It turned out to be a catastrophe. Cough, cough."
She wasn't panicking, even in a situation like this. She was being her usual self - acting brightly.
Her expression dug into Kazuki's heart.
"I'm sorry Kinoshita! I'm really sorry! Sorry for dragging you into this situation!"
"Why are you apologizing, Ootaki-kun?"
"Ootaki-kun isn't at fault."
Saki's words were warm and it melted him.
Saki's facial expression looked slightly forced, but she was still trying her best to smile.
"I'm fine. I'm not hurt either. Please go to Sabrina first, I think she might blame herself for this."
She was caught up in the explosion even though she wasn't involved with the situation.
Even though she should be complaining, Saki wasn't crying at all.
Furthermore, she was actually concerned about Sabrina.
She was even smiling to assure Kazuki.
"How can you..."
"Ootaki-kun! Look out!"
Saki pushed Kazuki aside. Falling rubble hit her head as it fell.
Saki collapsed on the floor.
When he picked Saki up, he felt a sticky substance on his hands.
He looked at his hands while trembling. His hands were covered in a sticky red substance.
His hair stood up on end.
It was red.
The color of death.
The color of despair.
Something inside Kazuki audibly broke. It felt like he was paralyzed and unable to move at all.
At that moment. Sabrina returned after securing an escape path.
"Saki! Onii-chan, what happened?"
"...Kinoshita... she protected me..."
Sabrina removed a knife from her toolbox and tore her skirt.
Her pale thigh was visible. She removed a handkerchief from her pocket, and using the torn skirt, she wrapped it around Saki's head as first-aid.
"It's probably just a small cut. She should be ok with this. I'll take Saki, so please get up Onii-chan."
Seeing Sabrina acting swiftly, Kazuki froze with his eyes wide open.
"What are you saying? If we don't hurry—"
"I said it's impossible!"
Kazuki yelled out.
Sabrina shrank back in surprise.
"... Onii... chan?"
"This isn't normal... the school blew up and hurt an innocent bystander! This isn't normal!"
The situation was urgent.
He knew that Sabrina was doing the right thing in this situation.
He knew that she was right, but he couldn't accept it.
— You and Sabrina live in different worlds. It won't turn out well in the end.
Kazuki finally understood what Sofia meant.
It wasn't just Sabrina... I took it the situation too lightly.
A lot of things happened while Sabrina was around, but I've always thought it would work out in the end somehow. But I never have expected the school to be blown up like this and Kinoshita to get hurt this badly.
It was impossible from the start.
It was impossible for a civilian and a member of the mafia to live together.
At that instant, a giant concrete post started falling towards Kazuki.
"Onii-chan! Watch out!"
Kazuki wasn't able to use any strength in his body. He was unable to move.
Sabrina tried to drag Kazuki (who was still in his immobilized state) to safety, but she couldn't budge him at all.
Kazuki stared at the falling post in wonder.
At this rate, I'll be crushed.
... But I can't move.
Sabrina stood between the falling post and Kazuki. Anyone could see that it was pointless, but she used her body to cover Kazuki.
"Sabrina! Get down!"
There was a voice that overpowered Kazuki's own.
It was Sofia who appeared in a flash.
Bang Bang Bang Bang.
She fired her assault rifle.
The bullets hit the base of another post opposite to the one that was actually falling.
Sofia opened the coat she was wearing. In it was a variety of hidden weapons.
Among them was a grenade. Sofia quickly threw it at the post she just shot.
She shot at the grenade, causing it to explode mid-air.
The post, weakened by previous bullets, broke and hit the falling post - knocking it away from Kazuki and Sabrina.
With a dull thud, the post fell - barely missing Kazuki and Sabrina. They were able to avoid being crushed.
Kazuki looked up at Sofia. She looked like she was about to cry, and her face was in anguish.
Saki regained consciousness in his arms.
"Don't move! Show me your wound!"
Sofia gently picked Saki up and checked the first aid that Sabrina had performed. Her expression was now back to normal.
Why did Sofia come to save them if she was the one who set off the bomb?
Kazuki was confused.
"The injury isn't serious. It looks like she bled a lot because one of her larger blood vessels was damaged. She should be fine with this, so let's head outside quickly. It's dangerous to remain inside."
After saying that, Sofia picked Saki up and led Kazuki and Sabrina outside. Since Sabrina secured a safe escape route, they were able to escape relatively quickly.
After leaning Saki against the fence, Sofia deeply sighed and turned towards Sabrina. Kazuki silently watched the two.
"Sabrina, you can blame me for all this, but I just want you to know this: you weren't able to protect those two."
Sofia coldly stated the facts.
"The world that you live in is too different. You're a mafia boss, whether you like it... or not."
Sabrina didn't say anything in response. She just silently looked down.
"From now on, a lot of different people will be after your life - regardless of if they're enemies or allies. If you were by yourself, you might be able to handle it somehow. But the ones who're after you won't be playing fair - they'll attack your weak spots mercilessly."
Sofia whispered to Sabrina. Kazuki wasn't able to hear what they were talking about.
She looked back at him.
She extended her hand to him, as if she were calling for help.
Her small and slender hand.
Although Kazuki could've touched that hand if he extended his own, Kazuki only looked at her hand.
But it was also the hand of a member of the mafia.
A hand that clung to me for some reason...
But a hand that brought fights and bloodshed.
— "Onii-chan is really like the brother that I imagined you to be."
No... that's not it.
You expected too much from me.
I'm not the brother that you imagined me to be.
Kazuki recalled the warmth of Saki's blood that he felt on his hand.
Her expectations of me are... it's too much.
It was overwhelming.
......... He couldn't grab Sabrina's hand at all.
Suddenly, Sabrina lost the light in her eyes.
Her eyes were now a cold blue.
Her expressionless face didn't change, but now Sabrina appeared to be a completely different person.
Sabrina turned and walked away from Kazuki.
Sabrina was walking towards a man in a suit.
Sofia, who tried to follow Sabrina, stopped and bowed her head slightly at Kazuki.
Even though she succeeded in bringing Sabrina back, Sofia had a bitter expression on her face.
"You guys better leave now before it gets any worse."
She left them with those words and ran after Sabrina.
Kazuki called out her name, but she had already disappeared.
It probably wasn't too late to follow her now.
Kazuki didn't pursue her.