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Adolescent Adam - Volume 5 - Chapter 1

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Adolescent Adam 5: Chapter 1 - Summer Days

A little over half a month had passed since the showdown between the angels and FeTUS.
The angels and humans had apparently made a few agreements in that time.
They would not interfere with each other except in emergencies and they would discuss terms to relieve the tension. Mutsuki did not know much, but at the very least, it did not look like their relationship would grow any worse than their ’’friendly hostile relationship’’.
The angels were apparently discussing what to do about Ange for failing in her mission and Micha for failing to protect Mutsuki, but no one would make better bodyguards than them.
Nothing changed during his peaceful summer break.
The biggest change was an unspoken decision made by the angels.
The alert level of his protection had apparently been lowered. He was no longer monitored 24/7 and was only being semi-monitored. That meant he had much more freedom in his actions and could go play even without Ange with him.
And as long as his bodyguard was with him, he could return home whenever he wanted.

’’And, and, and! I don't wet the bed at night anymore.’’
’’Really? Way to go, Mutsumi-chan.’’
’’Eheh~♡’’
Mutsuki rubbed his little sister's head while she sat in his lap. He made the most of being home for the first time in a long while.
He had fully settled into his life at the apartment, but there was no place like home.
’’I'm a grown up now. A grown up lady.’’
’’Heh heh. Then are you getting up in the morning without Chiaki telling you to?’’
’’Uuh... I'm a grown up except in the morning.’’
He smiled and rubbed her head as she hopped up and down in his lap.
’’It's just so hard to wake up in the morning~ Onee-chan can't do it either.’’
’’Onee-chan has some growing up to do too.’’
’’Boo.’’
His older sister Iwai embraced him from behind. She was just as clingy as the little sister in his lap and she pressed her forehead against his hand when he rubbed her head.
Mutsuki was the only son of the Fujita family and he had one older sister and two younger sisters.
Iwai was the oldest and in college. Mutsumi was the youngest and in kindergarten. Their difference in age meant they rarely ever fought.
He had honestly missed them while living away.
Meeting them had been difficult not long before. When he had wanted to make a visit, he had needed to send a request to the angel higher ups, wait for the angels to complete a preliminary investigation, and then only be allowed a few hours on the weekend.
Now he just had to say he wanted to go and he could go right away.
’’~♪’’
He hugged Mutsumi and rubbed his older sister's head.
It was a weekday and his parents were unfortunately at work, but all of his sisters were home.
He had missed this sofa even though it was harder than the one at the apartment and he had missed the air conditioner even though it did not work very well.
He could truly relax here.
’’...Here.’’
’’...Thanks.’’
If not for the tense atmosphere right in front of him.
Ange sat on the opposite sofa with a lopsided frown and did not even touch the barley tea she was served.
The older of his younger sisters had brought out enough barley tea for everyone. Fujita Chiaki looked equally displeased as she sat next to his bodyguard.
’’...’’
’’...’’
They did not speak or even look each other in the eye.
Why? This was not their first time to meet, but they had been abnormally unsociable with each other ever since they had first met.
’’Would you like a snack?’’
’’No, thank you.’’
’’I see.’’

Chiaki treated Ange like a normal guest and Ange replied more politely than normal.
For some reason, an odd tension surrounded their interaction.
Were they just a poor match? They had never fought and had nothing to fight over, but a threatening mood hung over them.
(I bet they're just too much alike.)
The way they refused to look at each other was identical.
And they were also similarly strong-willed and stubborn.
Was it really just dislike for someone so similar? Mutsuki know they would both snap back at him if he suggested that, so...
’’By the way, Chiaki. Did you find what I mentioned on the phone?’’
’’They were in the storage room. Come help me dig them out, Mutsuki.’’
He brought up another topic.
His little sister stood up, looking relieved, and Mutsuki followed her out of the living room.
This left Ange behind.
’’Ange-oneetan! Hug me!’’
’’Now's our chance. An-chan, An-chan. Tell us all about Mu-chan's life with you. Does he have a girlfriend?’’
’’Eh? U-um...’’
But she would be fine with his other two sisters looking after her.
The generally shy girl looked nervous with these sociable girls surrounding her and she was left to fend for herself with Mutsuki and Chiaki gone to the storage room.
They found what they were looking for in the messy storage room that contained an old bike and tools.
’’You're going camping?’’
’’Yeah. We'll be staying in a cabin, but we might still need these.’’
They were sleeping bags.
His parents often went backpacking, so their family was well equipped with camping supplies.
He was borrowing some since he was going camping with his friends. There were only two, but it would be enough. He decided to pull them out.
They were pretty far back, so they had to move things out of the way one at a time.
’’How have things been lately?’’
He spoke to his little sister as they cleared the pile of clutter.
’’What do you mean?’’
’’Has anything changed? Are things going well in the mornings?’’
He asked about what worried him most: his family.
His older sister was entirely unreliable and his other little sister was in kindergarten, so it was easiest to ask the sister closer to his own age.
Everyone in the Fujita family was low energy and all of them but him had trouble in the mornings. He had woken them in the past, but it sounded like Chiaki had taken over that role.
She also had trouble in the mornings, so he was worried it was hard for her. But...
’’Everything's going fine. Didn't I tell you that over the phone?’’
’’I see.’’
Chiaki answered nonchalantly.
She could be cheeky, but she was a reliable person.
’’How about you? You're studying a foreign language, right? Are you keeping up with that?’’
She pouted her lips and asked him a question of her own.
He had told his family he was leaving home to study a foreign language. That was his cover story for living with Micha who (looked like she) was foreign.
’’I'm keeping up just fine. Didn't I tell you that over the phone?’’
He could not tell her the truth, but he wanted to make sure she was not worried.
’’...I see.’’
He felt like her determined face briefly clouded over.
He quickly realized that ’’there's nothing to worry about’’ was the second best answer she had been hoping for.
But he could not give the best answer she had been hoping for: It isn't working out, so I'm coming home.
’’Sorry, Chiaki.’’
He at least made sure to rub her head.
’’It's going to take a while longer, but I promise I'll come home eventually.’’
’’...Right.’’
This little sister was stubborn and not at all like Iwai or Mutsumi.
But when he rubbed her head, she happily narrowed her eyes just like those two.
’’If you're ever missing me, just call. I can stop by right away.’’
’’I-I was not missing you. It's just...’’
’’It's just?’’
’’Mutsumi or Onee-chan might be, so make sure you visit, Onii-chan.’’
’’Yes, yes.’’
He took his time patting her head and then dragged out the sleeping bags.
’’By the way, Chiaki, how's lacrosse going?’’
They had returned to the living room.
Ange asked for help with Mutsumi on her head and Iwai on her lap, but he smiled back and told her to keep them company. Then he sat on the other sofa with Chiaki.
’’We have the day off. Our practices have been so intense lately that everyone's worn out.’’
’’Intense? Is there a tournament coming up or something?’’
’’Um... No, there isn't a tournament...’’
His little sister seemed to be having trouble saying something.
She took a sip of tea to hide it. And just as he started wondering why...
’’Ren-chan's coming back,’’ cut in his older sister. ’’Apparently Chi-chan's elementary school lacrosse team is just as excited as the middle school one.’’
’’...Shirohara-senpai is?’’
His eyes widened as soon as he spoke that name.
’’Pwah! ...Shirohara...Ren? Who's that?’’
Ange peeled Mutsumi from her face and tilted her head at the unfamiliar name.
Mutsuki stared into space and Chiaki kept her lips shut, so Iwai spoke from Ange's lap.
’’Shirohara Ren is an upperclassman one year above Mu-chan. She transferred somewhere else back in March, but she's coming right back four months later.’’ She had an odd grin on her face. ’’Her grades are top notch, she has seven prefectural records in track, and she's known across Japan as a junior lacrosse player. She's an elite among elites who held the position of student council president in Megutono Academy's elementary and then middle school. And...’’
She looked to her uncomfortable-looking little brother and sister.
’’She was Mu-chan's first love.’’
’’...! N-Nee-chan!’’
’’And Chi-chan, didn't you start playing lacrosse because Mu-chan was always going to watch her at practice?’’
’’Gah! That's...I did not!’’
The two younger siblings both yelled at her.
And then they both hung their blushing heads.
Ange and Mutsumi tilted their heads in confusion.
Iwai's teasing elicited true anger from Mutsuki and Chiaki and the two of them did their best to change the subject.
After killing some time, it was time for Mutsumi's nap, so Mutsuki and Ange left.
They walked down the road with the two sleeping bags
He had trouble focusing the entire time.
(...Shirohara-senpai.)
The thought of her name brought an ache to his chest.
’’Mutsuki!’’
’’Fweh!? Eh? Oh, what is it, Ange?’’
’’Again. I'm asking if we need to go shopping after this.’’
He had apparently been walking in a daze, so Ange was mad at him.
At first, he did not know what she meant by going shopping, but then he remembered they needed other camping supplies besides the sleeping bags.
He nodded his head and she took the sleeping bag he held.
’’Then leave these with me. You can deal with the shopping.’’
’’Sure.’’
She started toward the apartment.
If Mutsuki was going camping, then she would be going as his bodyguard. That was fine since it was their friends from school going.
But she apparently did not want to deal with the preparations, so she left the shopping to him.
He smiled bitterly and started to turn around, but...
’’Shirohara Ren.’’
’’!’’

He froze in place when she suddenly muttered that name.
Ange glared at the boy.
’’Your first love, huh?’’
’’Well, um...’’
’’...Hmph.’’
With a snort, she ran off.
Mutsuki was confused why she was acting so angry, but it was an even more complicated feeling to know Ange had heard his older sister say Shirohara Ren was his first love.
Calling her his first love was not entirely accurate.
They had not been that close. He had simply heard she was an amazing upperclassman and had thought she was pretty when he saw her from a distance. That was all she had been.
They had barely ever spoken and then she had suddenly moved overseas.
But it was true he had spent a lot of his time looking at her from afar.
Once...
It had happened during July of the previous year, which put it over a year ago.
Mutsuki had yet to meet Ange, Micha, Lucia, or Machina and he had known nothing of the forces fighting for heaven, earth, and hell. He had lived as a perfectly normal boy.
Volleyball had been the big event of this year's game tournament, but it had been tennis the year before.
He had played a doubles game with his best friend Tomono Sakae. Sakae was generally great at sports, so people had had high hopes for the team.
Sakae had been incredibly good, but Mutsuki had been nothing but a burden. They could have won easily with Sakae's skill, but Mutsuki almost always missed when the ball came his way.
Feeling pathetic, Mutsuki had started practicing afterschool. He had not known how to practice tennis, so he had done nothing but silently serve the ball.
He was naturally diligent, so while he focused on that, everyone else had left, leaving him all alone.
And then...
’’What are you doing?’’
’’Fwah!?’’
He had thought he was alone on the court, so the sudden voice caused him to miss the ball quite spectacularly.
After just about falling onto his butt, he had turned toward the voice...and widened his eyes.
It had been past six, but the evening sun had showed no sign of setting. In front of it, a girl had brushed up her golden brown hair and held a lacrosse racket in one hand. Anyone in Megutono Academy would have recognized her.
She had had the big round eyes of a doll, long eyelashes, a smooth bridge of the nose, and elegantly glossy lips. That had been a year ago, so she had been the same age as Mutsuki now. But the image in his memories was of a breathtakingly mature beauty.
Her arms and legs had been long and slender and she had had shapely curves from her chest to her hips. Healthy legs had stretched down from her flared skirt. A body with both the calm of an adult and the delicateness of a girl had worn gym clothes bearing the name Shirohara.
’’Shirohara...-senpai.’’
As the school's most talented girl and his student council president, Mutsuki had of course known who she was.
’’You aren't on the tennis team, so what are you doing here?’’
’’Well, um...’’
The cowardly boy had grown flustered with the dignified upperclassman's eyes on him.
Shirohara Ren had given him a sharp look.
’’Fujita Mutsuki. Are you practicing tennis?’’
’’Y-yes.’’
But she had only frightened the boy for a moment.
’’Is it for the game tournament? I appreciate the diligence, but it's about time to leave.’’
’’Right... S-sorry. I'll leave right away.’’
Blushing, Mutsuki had run to grab the ball on the other side of the court.
But...
’’Hm.’’
As soon as he had reached the other side of the net...
’’Raise your racket, Fujita Mutsuki.’’
’’Eh?’’

Ren had traded her lacrosse racket for a tennis one and she held a new ball.
’’It looked like you had serving down, so you need to practice receiving next.’’
’’Eh? Eh?’’
’’Hit this back. Ready, go!’’
She had hit the ball without a moment's delay.
It had been a gentle shot, but it had been too sudden for the body to keep up and he had simply watched the ball bounce by. He had raised his blank face and seen her already holding the next ball.
’’What's the matter? If you don't raise your racket, this practice won't be much use.’’
Mutsuki's mind had gone blank when he had realized she was helping him practice.
’’Um, but, Senpai? Didn't you say it's time to leave?’’
He had still been worried about that nonsense, so the student council president had giggled.
’’I believe rules may be broken if you are prepared to accept the consequences.’’
’’...’’
Mutsuki had been shocked to hear the school's most talented girl sound like an outlaw.
’’It's a selfish view, but...Fujita Mutsuki. Are you prepared to be scolded by a teacher if it means being prepared for the tournament?’’
’’Yes... Oh, but...’’
’’I am too.’’ Her tone had been casual but intense. ’’I want to help with your practice and I am willing to be scolded for that.’’
’’Ah...’’
’’Raise your racket. Ready, go.’’
She had given him a kind command.
He had stared blankly for a moment, but that had been cut short by her merciless serve.
’’Okay!’’
Afterwards, his worried parents had called his cellphone because he had been so late. That had been past eight, so it had lasted about two hours.
Those two hours had been his only contact with Shirohara Ren.
At the game tournament a few days later, he and Sakae had made it to the best eight.
He had no idea how much help his practice had been. Reaching the best eight out of more than fifty teams was quite an achievement, but it had really come down to Sakae's skill. They had been kept from the best four by a doubles pair from the tennis team. It had been the worst pair to run into.
Even so, Mutsuki thought the receiving technique she had taught him had meant a lot.
He had gone to thank her later, but she had been busy as student council president and the most he had gotten was a smile from her.
He had hoped he would be able to speak with her again after Chiaki had joined the lacrosse team in the second term, but no such opportunity had presented itself. Then in March of this year, she had moved away. Her sudden move overseas with the high school entrance exams coming up for the third years had spawned much speculation.
He did not know if his feelings for Shirohara Ren qualified as a first love.
He had looked up to her. That much was certain.
But was that really a first love? He had barely known her and he had been unable to confirm anything because she had moved away.
And just after she had left, he had entered the second year and met Ibekusa Machina. He was well aware that he had fallen in love with her.
But who had that upperclassman been?
’’!’’
Mutsuki was snapped out of his thoughts by a vibration in his pants.
It was his cellphone. He pulled it out and saw the call was from ’’Lucia-kun’’.
They had exchanged numbers on the day of the closing ceremony. Lucia had said they would have a harder time seeing each other without school. That demon boy had a way of popping up in unexpected places, so Mutsuki doubted that he needed a phone. Still, Lucia often called him.
’’Hello? What is it, Lucia-kun?’’
’’Hello? Hey, where are you, Mutsuki-kun? I came to play, but only the two stupid angels are at the apartment.’’
’’Now? Right now, I'm...ah.’’
Only then did he notice he was at Megutono Academy's front gate.
He could hear the yelling voices of sports teams coming from the schoolyard.
He had meant to go shopping, but his thoughts about his upperclassman had sent him to school.
He smiled bitterly at his carelessness.
’’Sorry. I'm out shopping and I probably won't be back for a while.’’
’’Cheh. Then I'll go-...oh, no! Jiyuuni just spotted me!’’
He heard a small commotion over the phone.
’’Oh, honestly~ ...I'll give up on seeing you today. Bye bye, Mutsuki-kun. I'll try again tonight!’’
’’S-sure.’’
Lucia had likely appeared on the balcony and been noticed. He heard Ange angrily yelling ’’What are ''you''doing here!?’’, so he hung up the phone.
He smiled bitterly as he put the phone away.
’’...’’
Only afterwards did a real smile rise to the surface.
It was not just Machina. He loved Lucia and Ange as well.
He seemed to fall in love easily, so he figured he probably had loved Shirohara Ren.
’’...Oh, right.’’
He remembered the upcoming camping trip and changed his train of thought.
He looked up and saw the clock tower in the center of the school that could be seen from anywhere in the town. Ange had destroyed it in the earlier trouble, but it had been restored in the past half a month.
There was someone he had to speak with about the camping trip. And she lived below that tower.
...There was something else he had to do as well.
With that thought, he pulled out his phone again.

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