Kagari looked around the club, wondering if he should even bother to keep working here. While it was true that he needed the money since Miya refused to accept MBI’s unlimited credit cards, he could always make a cash withdrawal from the card to pay for his rent, and it was starting to look like not only was he not reacting to any of the women who came to him for company, but like there may not be any female Ashikabis to begin with. Not to mention how this job of him limited the time that he could use to protect the other unwinged Sekirei.
As he sighed, Kagari thought, Well, it’s not like I didn’t know that that was a possibility. Takehito did say that the gene was more frequently passed onto males, rather than females. But still, there should be at least one in the city for me to react to.
Sighing again, Kagari began to move towards the table of thirty-somethings wondering if he would even be able to react to anyone, much less one of the very few, possibly nonexistent, female Ashikabis in the city.
As the afternoon wore on into evening, Kagari was shocked to begin to feel heat rush through his entire body, as though he had a fever. Wait, is this what I think it is? Could I really be-
He was pulled from his astonished thoughts as the door to the club opened to reveal a group of college students walking through the door, the heat in his body becoming hotter the closer the girls walked to him. Realising that his Ashikabi was so close, he hurriedly excused himself from the table that he was currently entertaining, asking them to give one of the rookies a try, as he moved forward to offer to accompany the group of teenagers and/or twenty somethings.
As he led the five of them to a table, he looked them all over, trying to figure out which of the group was his Ashikabi. As he scanned them, he hoped that it wasn’t the girl with the bleached hair who was wearing as little as legally possible while bitchily insulting everyone she saw in the club, or the girl’s brunette sidekick who was happily parroting back everything the girl said.
As he shuddered, Kagari began to wonder if he really wanted an Ashikabi who would hang around with girls like this. He may not have a lot of experience with dealing with humans, but he had been a host long enough to recognise their kind. They seemed to be the type of close-minded fools who would insult anyone who didn’t fit their ideal or “perfection” and “beauty,” and would take their revenge on anyone who dared to disagree with their opinions. The bleached blonde was likely their leader, and from Kagari’s experience, he could guess that the rest were her loyal flock of sycophants. So what did that say about his Ashikabi?
After a moment, Kagari acknowledged that it didn’t really matter what it said about her. Assuming that the girl hadn’t yet winged a Sekirei, there would be no way for her to recognise him as one, and so the choice of having her as his Ashikabi was his alone, though he knew that he needed to be winged if he wanted both his reaction to her, as well as the instability of his powers, to stop.
Once the group sat down, Kagari was relieved to know that neither the blonde, Mao, nor her lackey, Kaede, were his Ashikabi, as the two of them moved to sit practically on top of him, and his reaction to his Ashikabi faded slightly, indicating that she had moved further away.
Maybe there is a god out there, because I know that I definitely just dodged a bullet. Make that two, he thought as Kaede began to press her cleavage against his arm as Mao continued to talk to him.
As politely as he could, Kagari interrupted her rant on how he must get so tired having to entertain the “ugly cows” at the other tables all the time, and how glad he must be to have a group of “real ladies” to accompany him. Fighting back the urge to tell her off for her derogatory terms for his customers, some of whom had been quite good to him in the past, he began to make proper introductions to the group. “I’m guessing that you all know that I’m Kagari, but I don’t think I’ve gotten all of your names yet. Would you mind telling me?”
Two of the other girls, another brunette named Kana, and a black haired girl named Yuka, introduced themselves, happy to finally get some attention from the host that was being monopolised by their leader and her lapdog.
However, Kagari couldn’t help but wonder about the last girl who only gave her name in an incomprehensible mumble and who, he couldn’t help but notice, seemed to be intentionally sitting as far away from him as possible. As he thought about it, he realised that the girl had looked perfectly miserable the entire time that she had been here. Why would she come here if she obviously doesn’t enjoy it? Or is it just that she doesn’t like being ignored and is sulking because of it? Kagari had had a few customers like that in the past.
However, he was quickly drawn from his musings as the two girls sitting beside him began to push themselves ever closer to him in an attempt to either suffocate him or seduce him, Kagari wasn’t entirely sure. But as he entertained the four girls who seemed to be interested in conversation, he couldn’t help but notice that the fifth girl, whose name he still hadn’t managed to catch, never once made any attempt to claim his attention. In fact, she seemed to be trying to sink into the booth that they were all sitting in, and only drank a few glasses of water, unlike her already tipsy friends.
After another half hour, the girl stood up, speaking clearly for the first time as she said, “I think it’d be a good idea for me to head home now. I’ll see you guys in class,” before she dropped some money for the water and his time on the table and walked out.
Kagari could feel the other hosts looking at him in shock, surprised that there was actually a woman who their illustrious, top ranked host couldn’t charm. But what surprised him the most was that, as the unsociable girl walked away from him, he could feel the heat in his body, which had had been steadily growing over the last hour, begin to fade the farther away she got from him, while simultaneously pulling him towards her.
Quickly realising that it would be unlikely for the girl to return, considering how unhappy she had seemed in the club, and how that could very well mean that he’d never find her again, he hurriedly excused himself from the group, who tried tell him that the girl was just an “unfriendly nerd”, by saying that he had promised his sister that he would visit her at the end of his shift.
As soon as he stood up, his boss approached, obviously trying to figure out whether he should be mad at Kagari for leaving his customers or concerned about what screws had come loose in his head to make him think that leaving his customers would be a good idea. Before his boss could read him the riot act, Kagari quickly but clearly stated, “Sir, I do believe that that girl is drunk. If she tries to go home alone, she could end up being injured or passed out on the street, and all with our stamp on her hand.”
The owner paled at the thought of what such a scandal could do to his business, he hurriedly sent Kagari on his way, citing that his shift was over anyway, before hastily directing one of the other hosts to take over his table. As Kagari walked away, he could hear the girls both complaining about his departure and cooing over his replacement, the second ranked host, Haru.
Once outside, he realised that his Ashikabi must be faster than he had assumed as she was nowhere in sight. Or she had gotten a cab.
Before panic set in, he realised that while he couldn’t see her anymore, he could still feel the reaction that being near her had caused. When he focused on it, he realised that he could sense where she was going and began to run in that direction, hoping that she really was walking home like most other college students would.
After a few minutes, he saw her walking in front of him. As he hurried to catch up with her, he also took a moment to examine her. He had been too busy with her friends to really look at her, but now that he finally had the chance, he realised that she wasn’t really dressed for clubbing. While her jeans and boots could be considered casual, she was also wearing a baggy sweatshirt that hid most of her upper body, and her long black hair was pulled into a ponytail, though several strands were peaking out.
She looks as though she should be at home studying, so what was she doing at the club? And with those girls, for that matter? They didn’t strike me as the types to hang around with someone not wearing mini skirts or skin tight jeans.
Kagari decided to simply ask her these questions once she gave him the chance as he finally came close enough to her to say, “Hello,” and put a hand on her shoulder.
Right before she threw a roundhouse kick at his head.
What the hell was Kagari’s only thought as he quickly dodged. After a second though, he realised how this situation must have seemed to her: a young girl walking home alone on a deserted street when all of a sudden a random stranger grabs her from behind. Hell, Kagari’d have probably tried to kick him too.
With this in mind, he quickly called, “Hey, wait, I wasn’t going to hurt you,” while blocking one of her punches, even as he realised that she was much stronger than he had first thought. He was stronger, but Kagari didn’t doubt that she could do some damage if he let her. Maybe she could even hold her own against some of the weaker Sekirei. As he recalled, there was that little girl who could only scream, and then the information Sekireis weren’t exactly known for their combat skills.
As his words registered, the girl hesitantly stopped her attack long enough to look at him. After a moment, she hesitantly said, “You’re that host from the club . . . right?”
Relieved that the combat portion of the evening seemed to be over, Kagari dropped his arms that he had raised to block any other attacks before saying, “That’s right, I’m Kagari. I noticed you leaving the club, and I was worried about a girl like you walking home alone.”
The girl snorted softly before bursting into full on laughter. Unable to get the joke, Kagari simply stayed where he was, trying to figure out what the joke was. After a moment, her guffaws stopped and she said, in a surprisingly melodic voice, “I’m sorry for trying to kick you. But I don’t need you to protect me, as you’ve probably already realised. So why don’t you go back and entertain the others.”
Taken aback, Kagari asked, “Is it really that bad for you to be around me?”
The girl looked surprised, as she pulled the hair that had fallen into her face back, though Kagari didn’t see her make any attempt to put it back into her hair tie, as she said, “Look, it’s not like that.” After a moment she sighed and explained, “It’s not you. Tonight wasn’t supposed to-Well let’s just say that tonight was a mistake.”
“That’s right. So if you followed me because of some kind of wounded ego or because you wanted to know why I left, don’t worry about it. You’re still plenty attractive and I’m sure that any woman would love to be around you, I’m just not one of them.”
As she said that last part, she raised her head so that she could meet his eyes, and Kagari was shocked by the vibrant blue orbs that met his own. What the-she’s Japanese, right? So then, those have to be contacts, right? Or some kind of surgery?
After a moment, the girl seemed to realise what he was staring at and said, “Oh yeah, I guess they look kind of weird,” as she dropped her head.
At his Ashikabi’s withdrawal, Kagari quickly stepped forward saying, “No, they aren’t weird at all. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare-” Kagari cut himself off as he realised, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I ever actually got you name.” As she looked at him, he realised that she had said it, and hurried to apologise. “It’s just that there were so many people in the club, and your voice is so quiet, that I-”
The girl laughed quietly before saying, in the same quiet, harmonious voice that she had been using the entire time, “It’s fine, people are always telling me that I’m too quiet, but for some reason I can never manage to talk at the same volume as other people.” She looked at him for a moment before saying, “My name’s Sora.”
“Sora-san, then.” Kagari smiled slightly, before reaching forward to lift her head and meet her eyes. “I apologise for staring earlier. It was incredibly rude, but I just couldn’t help but think that your eyes are beautiful. They look just like the sky during the summer time.”
Even though she blushed at the surprising praise, Sora quietly murmured, “Thank you,” before pulling her head away and continuing, “But my point still stands. I can take care of myself, so please just go back to your club.”
“My shift is over,” Kagari said, being purposefully obtuse. And from the look that she gave him, she knew it too.
“Then go home.” As he opened his mouth, she hastily added, “Or wherever it is that you need to go.”
Kagari still smiled as he said, “Then where I need to go is to your home.” As she began to protest, he quickly said, “I may make my money by flirting with women, but I was taught to be a gentleman. So I can’t just, in good conscience, allow you to walk home by yourself.”
Sora stared at him for a moment before starting to walk away, saying, “Fine, but don’t think that this is gonna get you anything.”
She quickly swung around, saying, “I mean it. No tea, no phone number, no dates. I won’t even let you inside.”
Kagari was tempted to brush off her words, but when he saw the mistrust in her eyes, he quietly said, “That’s perfectly fine, Sora-san. I really am just worried about something happening to you.” He paused for a beat before admitting, “Though I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t curious about why a girl like you, who has both self-respect and intelligence, would be hanging around with girls like them.”
Sora sighed before starting to walk again. Kagari considered asking her again, but he figured that he should be grateful that she wasn’t fighting him about walking her home anymore.
After a few minutes, Sora finally admitted, “I’ve had . . . issues in the past. As a result, I’m only in my first year of college, even though I’m almost twenty. I went out with those girls because I wanted to show people that I had changed, that I’m not as . . . hostile as I used to be.” She sighed softly before finishing, “I wanted to have fun tonight, to be around people my own age who might actually accept me for who I am.”
Kagari wasn’t sure what to say about that, but was spared from having to when Sora said softly, “Thank you.” At his confused look, she clarified, “I think I needed to say that to someone, so thank you for listening to me. Of course, you could have just not been ignoring me, too,” she finished teasingly.
Kagari smiled softly down at her before saying, “Oh, so you don’t care if I’m just arm candy. And here I thought you wanted me for my brains.”
“Well, you certainly haven’t shown much tonight, walking on a dark street in that suit,” Sora said as she laughed at his teasing. After a moment, she became more serious and said, “Damn, I really need to go out on my own terms. It’s been way too long since I last laughed like that.”
“Then, why don’t I take you out?” Kagari offered.
“I thought I said no dates,” Sora said, slightly less harshly than she had earlier.
Kagari was still slightly surprised by her apparent revulsion to the idea of dating him, but still said, “I never offered you a date. It would just be two people going out, maybe becoming friends, or maybe hating each other and never seeing each other again.”
Sora bit her lip for a moment after he finished speaking, but she quickly shook her head, saying, “No way.” Before he could protest, Sora stopped walking as she said, “Thanks for walking me home, but I really can’t.” As she began to walk up the stairs to a surprisingly large, detached house, she turned around to say, “Kagari-san, I really am grateful to you, especially for listening to my ramblings. But I’m not in any position to get into a relationship right now, romantic or otherwise. So thank you, but please, don’t come back,” she said as she bowed at him.
Before she had a chance to turn around again, Kagari gently grabbed one of her wrists and put a piece of paper into her hands. “Here’s my number.” As she began to protest, he calmly said, “You don’t have to call me, but if you ever change your mind about getting out, I could show you around. Or even if you just want someone to listen to you, you can call me. No strings attached.”
As he finished, he let go of her wrist. Sora stared at him for a moment before all but running up to her front door, although, Kagari noticed, she didn’t drop the piece of paper on the ground.
What a strange little Ashikabi I have, he thought while laughing to himself.