Millennium Match – Chapter 11: Bodyguard

This is the newest chapter of Millennium Match, and we’ve finally introduced the last of the main supporting characters, Akatsuki Souma.

Chapter 11: Bodyguard

Ryogo and Yui officially became a couple, but Ryogo was starting to have doubts about whether or not she was his childhood sweetheart.  He said it didn’t matter to him, but he couldn’t help himself.  He had to know for sure if it was really Sayu.

Even though this is what he thought, he didn’t know how to approach either of the sisters about the subject.  It was because of Ryogo’s cousin Rei that the Mizuno family was sent to the U.S.  This was back when Rei was more serious about his duties and thought only of the future of the organization.  Ryogo could have asked Rei directly, but he hasn’t been answering anyone’s calls recently.  So he decided to ask someone else close to him who knew about it: his cousin Nadeshiko.

Ryogo and Nadeshiko hadn’t seen each other since the union ceremony.  Nadeshiko went back to the hospital to continue her rehabilitation.

Nadeshiko: The doctors say it’s just my imagination, but I’m sure I feel something in my feet.
Ryogo: Well, that’s good I guess.

Ryogo took Nadeshiko around the hospital grounds in her wheelchair.  Nadeshiko carried a set of crutches with her.

Nadeshiko: I swear, I’m going to walk again someday.  No way I’m gonna lose to a set of stairs.
Ryogo: Just take it slowly, okay Cuz?
Nadeshiko: Too impatient.  Stop here, let me show you.

Nadeshiko got up on her crutches and tried to show Ryogo that he could move around in them.  Her legs were dragged along while the crutches did all the walking; they didn’t provide any support at all.  If anything, it was a testament to her upper body strength.

Nadeshiko: Well, I’ll get better with practice.

Nadeshiko returned to her chair.

Nadeshiko: By the way, you’ve been really quiet.
Ryogo: Have I?
Nadeshiko: Yeah.  Things going okay with your girl?
Ryogo: W-well…
Nadeshiko: Don’t wanna talk about it?
Ryogo: . . .
Nadeshiko: Ha ha ha, you’re still cute.  Don’t worry, it’ll get easier.
Ryogo: If you say so… Ah…
Yui: Oh, Ryogo… What are you doing here?
Nadeshiko: Huh?  Hey, who’s this?

Yui stood confused, opposite of the two.  She approached them at a walking pace, scanning her eyes around the image in front of her, trying to come up with an answer to her question before he spoke.

Ryogo wasn’t sure how to bring up the topic he held back from his cousin, but this was the perfect opening for him.

Ryogo: This is Mizuno Yui.  You remember her, don’t you?  She’s one of Dr. Mizuno’s daughters.  Yui, this is my cousin Nadeshiko.
Yui: Oh, I see…
Nadeshiko: Dr. Mizuno?  Oh yeah… Great guy.  If he were still with us, I bet I wouldn’t be in this chair.
Yui: Thank you for saying so, but my father wasn’t a miracle-worker.
Nadeshiko: Maybe so, but we never had a doc as good as him in our group, so we were lucky to have him.  It’s a shame he had to leave.
Ryogo: Yeah, I’m really sorry about that.  Cuz, do you think you can keep it a secret from my dad that the Mizunos are back?
Nadeshiko: Huh?  Why should that matter?
Ryogo: Because he’s the one that sent them away.  Because Mizuno and I…
Nadeshiko: Huh?  Why would he…. Ohhhh!  You really think highly of yourself, don’t you?
Ryogo: What do you mean?
Nadeshiko: Yui, I’m going to tell you a bit of a secret.  He’s worried about some kind of scenario that doesn’t make any sense.  You see, whether it’s the public or the underworld, people can form relationships purely for political gains.  Ryogo here is the son of our boss, and as such, he is in a position to be used in a political marriage.
Ryogo: Cuz, don’t!
Nadeshiko: Hush!  Do you really think we’d send away a talent like Doc Mizuno just because you’re friendly with one of his girls?  Hell, no!  You’re the boss’s son, it’s perfectly fine to have a broad or two on the side!
Yui: Ehhh?
Nadeshiko: I don’t mean you.  Well, I kinda do, but… *ahem*  In any case, whoever told you that was the reason Doc Mizuno left was probably lying to prop you up or something.  Truth is, the doc asked to leave the organization.  Since everyone in the group respected the guy, the boss made it so he could have a comfortable life overseas.
Yui: Is… is that really true?  We have Mr. Misaki to thank?
Nadeshiko: We were just paying your dad back for everything he did for us.
Ryogo: So it was a lie… But why would he want to leave?
Nadeshiko: Who knows?  You’d have to ask him that.  But I think it had something to do with an accident or something like that.  Rei probably knows more about it, so try asking him.
Ryogo: Okay… Oh, by the way, what are you doing here, Yui?
Yui: Well, I heard there was going to be a first aid course here, so I came to check it out.
Ryogo: Oh yeah… You’re training to be a lifeguard, right?
Yui: Yes.  This week’s course just ended.
Nadeshiko: Oh?  That’s pretty impressive.  But won’t you need CPR training too?
Yui: That’s not until later.  Although I am kind of nervous about that.
Nadeshiko: Then how about practicing on Ryogo?
Yui: Oh, no, I couldn’t-
Ryogo: I have no objections.  Feel free to use me as you like.  No need to be shy!
Yui: Er, it’s not that… it’s just that CPR is a violent procedure… Since I’m just a novice, I’d be worried about injuring you.
Ryogo: Oh…
Nadeshiko: Hey, don’t worry!  Ryogo’s yakuza tough!  Something like a few broken ribs won’t be any bother!
Yui: Well, I suppose you’re right.
Ryogo: Er, well, before that… how about I treat you to something sweet to celebrate your first class?
Yui: Wouldn’t it make better sense to celebrate finishing the course?
Ryogo: Well, I have my own reasons.  You coming?
Yui: Sure.
Nadeshiko: Have fun, you two.

Ryogo and Yui walked side by side under the gray overcast sky on their way to the shop.  There was an awkwardness between them caused by the lack of something they took for granted during the past two weeks.

Ryogo: I never noticed before, but… We’ve never actually been alone together like this, have we?
Yui: You’re right.  Usually, Sayu would be with us as well.
Ryogo: She’s pretty good about breaking the ice.  But it’s no good if we have to rely on her all the time, right?
Yui: I agree.

Now that the two were both aware of the situation, the awkwardness increased and a tension started to well up.  Thankfully, they reached their destination before long.

Ryogo: We can talk over dessert.
Yui: Um… Is someone in there?
Ryogo: Huh?  Inside Sweet Tears?  That’s impossible, I’ve got the only key in.

The door to Sweet Tears opened, and two customers carrying a bag of desserts left the shop.  The door returned to its place, and Ryogo stared at the “Open” sign hung on it.

Ryogo: Uh… I don’t suppose those were thieves?

As soon as the two entered, they were greeted by a young woman standing behind the counter.  She wore a pink apron over a yellow turtleneck sweater and a matching pink chef’s hat.

SAWATARI Miho, 27, Confectioner

Sawatari: Good afternoon, welcome to Sweet Tears!
Ryogo: W-who are you?  What are you doing running my shop?
Sawatari: Your shop?  Oh, you must be Ryogo!  I was told about you.  I was hired to take over this location.
Ryogo: What?  Why?
Sawatari: Well, I don’t know the details, really.  I’m just the chef.  But I think the main concern was that the company wanted the store to be open for more hours rather than just for whenever you feel like it.  I mean, peak times for a store like this are right after school lets out, and someone needs to be in the store before then to start baking.  But don’t worry, you’re still technically the manager.
Ryogo: Is that so… Well, if it helps the store, I guess I can’t complain.
Sawatari: I think it’s a bit strange having to work for someone still in high school, but from what I’ve heard, you’re actually quite the chef.  I helped myself to some of the desserts you made, and I’m not quite as good.  I hope you can teach me some of your technique some time, Manager.
Ryogo: Well… Heh heh, sure.
Yui: Who knew you were so weak to praise?
Ryogo: Hey, people like being told they’re good, don’t they?
Sawatari: I’m really grateful.  To be honest, I didn’t know what to do after I got fired from my last job.  I was about to move in with my parents when I was told of the opening here.  And to think it even comes with bedspace!  It’s so convenient having a room right inside the shop.
Ryogo: Eh?
Yui: Y-y-you’re… moving in?
Sawatari: Oh, I spent most of the morning moving in.  There was lots of help so it took much less time than I expected.  And there was much more space than I imagined.
Ryogo: More space?  That can’t be…

Ryogo rushed to where he thought his room was, but found it completely furnished with another person’s belongings.  Even the bed wasn’t the same.

Ryogo: M… my room…
Yui: It’s as if it was never there.
Sawatari: Oh, yes, those movers took all your things and told me they’ve brought it to your apartment.
Yui: Your apartment?  You have an apartment?
Ryogo: Eh?  No I… Wait…

Without a word, Ryogo ran out and a few blocks away.  Yui followed closely after him, though he hadn’t noticed.  Ryogo went up a flight of stairs and searched around his pockets for the key he rarely used.  He turned the key into the keyhole to the empty apartment and opened the door.

Ryogo: Ah…
Yui: *hahh*  Why did you just start running?  I… Eh?  Hey, your stuff is here…  So you really do have an apartment?
Ryogo: It’s complicated… I wasn’t planning on using it, but… I guess I have to, now.

Ryogo looked around, studying his surroundings.  Something was off, but he couldn’t quite figure out what.  He opened another door and saw his bed and drawers inside.

Ryogo: This is my new room, I guess.
Yui: So it is.

Ryogo had a troubled look on his face, and Yui noticed it was there ever since he stepped inside.  There was another door that hadn’t been opened, and Ryogo was afraid to do so.  He didn’t.  His fears would be realized without having to.

Saki: What the hell is all this?

Ryogo and Yui turned around and saw Saki standing at the main doorway.

Yui: Satoumura?  What are you doing here?
Saki: I could ask the same of you.  Oh, you’re here too, Ryogo.  I guess that explains that.  I was worried a burglar got in.
Yui: Why would y- ah!
Saki: I live here, naturally.  So, judging by the new furniture, I’d say… Ryogo… did you by any chance get kicked out of Sweet Tears and get forced to move into the room you’ve been avoiding for the past month?
Yui: Month?
Ryogo: Gah… Dead on…
Saki: I thought so.
Yui: W-what’s going on here?  You two are living together?  Wait, you’ve BEEN living together?
Ryogo: No we haven’t!  I’ve been living at Sweet Tears until now.
Yui: Yeah, but you obviously knew about this apartment, and Satoumura lives here, so that means… What does it mean?
Saki: What do you THINK it means?
Ryogo: Hold on just a minute!  You live here?
Saki: Yes.
Ryogo: For how long?
Saki: The last three weeks.  I moved in.  I figured you wouldn’t mind.
Ryogo: But why?
Saki: Do you really want me to tell the truth right now?
Ryogo: Ah…
Yui: Ryogo, tell me!  What kind of arrangement do you two have?
Ryogo: Well… I guess you could say… that Satoumura and I…
Saki: Are roommates.
Yui: Roommates?
Ryogo: Roommates?
Saki: What’s with that reaction?  That’s what we are, isn’t it?
Yui: But why?
Saki: Why should it matter how we got to this point?  What’s important is that’s the situation we’re in now.  Unless you’d care to explain, Ryogo.
Ryogo: Er… Well… No, I guess it isn’t that important.
Yui: What?  Why?
Ryogo: It’s kind of complicated…
Saki: See?  Well, I’m tired, so I’m going to take a shower.  Feel free to go do whatever you two want if you like.

Saki left the couple alone as she entered her room.

Ryogo: Sorry, I never thought this would happen…
Yui: I… I’m going home now.  I’ll see you tomorrow.
Ryogo: Oh… I never got to get you that dessert.
Yui: Another time then.  I’m not really in the mood for sweets.

The flow of that day managed to distract him from his original goal in visiting his cousin, but he would be reminded just then when Rei called him on his mobile phone.   I’ll get to that conversation in a moment, but for now let’s focus on what happened the next day with Saki.  A new transfer student arrived, and this was almost a month after the Mizunos.  It had taken her as long to travel to Japan via ship.

The girl was younger than most of her class, and shorter as well.  Likewise her hair was short, cut just below her ears.  She wore slim-framed glasses that no one would suspect were only clear lenses she wore for show.

Souma: My name is Akatsuki Souma.   I look forward to getting to know each of you.

AKATSUKI Souma, 15, Transfer Student

Souma said this with a flat, cold tone that ran counter to her words.  As soon as she finished her introduction, she approached Saki’s desk.

Saki: Uh, hello…
Souma: You are Miss Satoumura, correct?
Saki: Yes, that’s right… Miss Akatsuki.  But you can call me Saki.
Souma: That will not do, milady.  However, you shall address me as just Akatsuki.
Saki: Uh… okay… Akatsuki.
Souma: Very well.  We shall discuss matters at lunch.
Saki: Sure… What matters?

Natsuko: So, what was the deal with Akatsuki?
Yukiko: I guess something about Saki attracts these weird foreigners.  First Mizuno, now Akatsuki.
Saki: To be fair, they’re Japanese, they just lived abroad until recently.
Yukiko: True.  Hmm… You know, there could be something more to this…  Too interesting to be a coincidence, don’t you think?
Saki: Maybe.  I wouldn’t be surprised.
Natsuko: Didn’t she say she would talk to you at lunch?
Souma: Pardon me for my tardiness.  I didn’t have enough time to pack my own lunch.
All 3: How long where you there?
Souma: As I said, I just arrived.
Saki: Er, that’s fine… But what did you have to discuss with me?  Or rather, how did you know who I was before I had a chance to introduce myself?
Souma: I am at your service, milady.
Saki: Eh?
Natsuko: By service, you mean…
Souma: Please rest assured.  I will eliminate any threat to you and your betrothed.
Natsuko: B-be…
Yukiko: Betrothed?  As in married?  Or maybe a fiance?
Saki: I have no such thing!
Soouma: You don’t?

Souma gave a glare that Saki instantly realized was dangerous.  That and the fact that she brought up something that the public shouldn’t know anything about led her to come to the conclusion that she was sent by the Masaki Group.

Saki: It’s complicated.  Let’s talk about this some other time.  Like after school.
Souma: Understood.  I have archery after class hours, so please wait for me.
Saki: Okay…
Akatsuki: Until then.

Souma returned to her own desk and started eating as if nothing of importance had just occurred.  Meanwhile, Natsuko and Yukiko prodded, unsuccessfully, to get Saki to talk about her “betrothed.”

After school, Ryogo met up with Yui and Sayu.  Yui was confused about the day before and wanted to ask Ryogo about the “complicated situation,” but found herself unwilling to interrupt Sayu’s urging to check out the new Sweet Tears.  They had just barely crossed the school gate when they saw Saki alone, leaning back on the wall.  Unexpectedly, Yui immediately spoke up.

Yui: Are you waiting for someone?
Saki: Hm?  Oh, yeah.  Don’t worry it isn’t any one of you.  Just a weird girl who’s at the archery club right now.
Yui: Weird girl?  You mean the transfer?
Sayu: Huh?  There’s another transfer student?
Saki: Ryogo, do you know about her?
Ryogo: Why would I?  I don’t think there was any new transfer student in any of my classes.  Who is she?
Yui: I think her name was Akatsuki.
Ryogo: Aka… EH?
Saki: I knew it.  So you know her, then.  Akatsuki Souma?
Ryogo: Souma… Souma’s HERE?
Yui: Another mystery.  I don’t suppose you’re willing to tell me about this one, too?
Sayu: What are you talking about, sis?
Ryogo: Akatsuki Souma is… well, she’s kind of… my bodyguard.
Sayu: The kind with benefits?  Like in the movie with Whitney Houston!
Ryogo: What movie is that?  And no- GOD NO!
Saki: Bodyguard, huh?  The way she was talking to me, one would think she was MY bodyguard.
Ryogo: Oh no… She would be that way, wouldn’t she?
Yui: Wait, why would she act like Satoumura’s bodyguard?
Ryogo: Listen to me.  Souma is a dangerous girl that is completely obsessed with her duty to protect me.  She becomes suspicious of anyone who comes even remotely close to me.  I thought I was safe from her since she was sent to America, but it seems she made her way back here.  My cousin did warn me that she was on her way, but to think she would already be enrolled…
Yui: Then, you mean… I could…
Sayu: That’s no good!  Sis, I promise I’ll protect your love!
Yui: Sayu, absolutely not!
Ryogo: Yui’s right, Sayu.  I don’t want you getting hurt because of this.
Saki: Wait, so what’s my role in all of this?  Am I safe, or am I in danger too?
Ryogo: Saki, you’re… Uh… Actually, that’s a good question.
Sayu: Hey, why should it be a good question?  You two aren’t together anymore, right?  So the only person who should be in trouble is Yui!
Yui: Er… that doesn’t exactly put my mind at ease, Sayu.
Saki: Let’s just say that Ryogo and I have a strong business relationship that others might misconstrue as something more if they knew about it.
Sayu: What kind of business relationship?
Saki: I’d rather not say.  It’s top secret between him and me.
Yui: I’d say that’s true.  He won’t even tell me.
Ryogo: Well…
Sayu: That’s not fair!  You shouldn’t keep secrets!
Ryogo: I promise I’ll tell when the time is right.  But for now I’m going to confront Souma.
Saki: No need.  I think I understand the situation perfectly.  She already said she would talk to me, and I intend to keep my appointment.
Ryogo: But she’s my bodyguard.  She has to listen to me.
Saki: I believe she is now my bodyguard as well.  I shall speak for you.  Understand?
Ryogo: Ah… Y-yes, I understand.
Yui: Ryogo…

Saki knew that her hold on Ryogo was strong enough that he wouldn’t argue.  This would give her the opportunity she needed to be alone with Souma and manipulate her onto her side.  These were her thoughts as she walked toward the archery club.

When Saki arrived, she saw the club captain with a worried expression on his face.  Souma was holding a bow and arrow pointed at a target roughly 15 meters away.  The target itself was clean, and a myriad of arrows were scattered on the ground around it.

Captain: Akatsuki, are you sure you want to be in this club?  It seems you have a real aim problem.
Souma: I am not here to practice my aim.  But if you insist…

Souma pulled out an eyeglass case, opened it, and put her glasses on.  She then shot an arrow that landed just at the edge of the target.

Captain: Well, at least it hit the board.  Maybe you should keep your glasses on, Akatsuki.
Souma: I would prefer not to.  Is that an order?
Captain: It’s not really an order, more of a recommendation.  And a request.
Souma: Then I respectfully deny your request.
Captain: You don’t deny my requests, you refuse them!
Souma: I accept your command.  Forthwith, I shall refuse all your requests.
Captain: Gh…!

Dejected, the club captain sighed and turned his attention to someone else.

Saki: Akatsuki.
Souma: You didn’t have to come here, Milady.
Saki: I don’t like waiting.  I have a few things I need you to understand.  First, it’s true that me and Misaki are… in that sort of relationship, but we can’t be open about it because of our families.  So, you understand if I can’t acknowledge it at school.
Souma: Very well.  I thought that would be the case.
Saki: Then why?  Er, never mind.  He also told me you had some bad habits.
Souma: I know of such things.
Saki: He said you went after anyone who came close to him in a misplaced sense of duty.
Souma: Don’t be ridiculous.  I only targeted the filthy temptresses that dared even imagine take my master away from me.
Saki: I… see…
Souma: However, you have nothing to worry about, as you are his destined.
Saki: Right… At any rate, I would be at ease if you would… Scratch that.  I order you not to be violent at school.
Souma: Then I shan’t disobey.
Saki: Really?
Souma: By my honor and my sword.
Saki: Sword?
Souma: I don’t carry it with me to school grounds.
Saki: Oh.  Well, that’s good.  So, can I count on you to help me out?
Souma: With what?
Saki: I think both of us know that Ryogo often doesn’t know what’s best for him.
Souma: You speak the truth.
Saki: I just need you to agree to help me guide him to the true path.
Souma: That has always been my intention.  I understand.  I am at your service in this endeavor.
Saki: Fantastic.

Saki felt confident that she had brought Souma over to her side, but she had no just how extreme and how good Souma was at her job.

Later that night, a girl pleaded for her life.  Returning from a convenience store, she was attacked from behind by a person she was beginning to think was a good person despite her demeanor, and quickly surrounded by boys she only vaguely recalls seeing in passing around campus.

Natsuko: Akatsuki?  Who are these guys?  Why are you…?
Nondescript Thug 1: Hey, no use struggling, girlie.
Nondescript Thug 2: Though it does make things a little more interesting.
Natsuko: Huh?
Souma: Matsuda.  You’ve been trying to get close to Ryogo, haven’t you?
Natsuko: Misaki?  He’s just my classmate…
Souma: But you know him on a more personal level than the others.  Not as much as some, but still.  What’s your goal?
Natsuko: What goal?  What’s wrong with trying to be friends?
Souma: Stop being so stubborn!

Souma unzipped her gym bag and pulled out a metal rod.

Natsuko: Wha…
Souma: Cover her mouth.
Natsuko: What are you do-mmph!

Natsuko was held down and forced to watch Souma raise her metal rod behind her head, then swing it downward, striking Natsuko’s kneecap.  Her body shook in response to the attack, arching backward, as if trying to distance itself from the pain.  Her eyes watered and she screamed out, but the hands over her mouth prevented most of the sound from escaping.

Souma: Tell the truth, you deceitful little slut!

Souma repeated her attack twice more, causing Natsuko to contort about violently, but was held down until she lost the energy to resist.

Souma: Let her speak.
Natsuko: Hrk… I… like Misaki…  But why does it matter?  It’s not like I have a chance!  I’m not like Satoumura or Mizuno… so why go after me?
Souma: Mizuno?  The girl he’s with… is she named Mizuno?
Natsuko: You attack me over Misaki, but you don’t even know that much?

In truth, Souma was aware of a girl that was her true target.  Natsuko was meant to be a subtle warning.  But Souma is a person that focuses on a single target at a time.  As soon as she noticed Natsuko stealing glances at Ryogo during break, she had the rest of the day planned around this attack.

Having heard that name, Souma canceled whatever future plans she may have had.  She was never much for the long game.

Souma: I’m done with you.  I just need one last thing.

Souma slid her metal rod down the center of Natsuko’s shirt, cleanly ripping it open and exposing her undergarments.

Natsuko: Wha?
Nondescript Thug 1: Heh heh heh… Looks like we get to have a little more fun.
Nondescript Thug 2: You’re not going anywhere with that leg.
Natsuko: No… Please, no!
Souma: Your usefulness has ended.

Oh my god, they didn’t…!

Huh?  Oh, no.  Souma knocked those two out and called for an ambulance.  She made it look like she and Natsuko were attacked, and she accidentally knocked their attackers unconscious while resisting.

That alibi worked?

Well, that and who knows what else she did behind the scenes.  At any rate, Ryogo, Saki, Yukiko, and Yui all went to visit Natsuko at the hospital the next day.  One girl trailed behind, however, having received a note earlier telling her to stay.  The meeting took place on the school roof.

Souma: It’s been a long time, Mizuno.
Sayu: You must be Akatsuki Souma.  I don’t believe we’ve actually met.  Sorry, but I don’t swing that way.
Souma: That note was just to bring you here.  I wanted to give you my warning personally.  Stay away from Misaki Ryogo, or you will suffer.
Sayu: Oh, you’re one of those girls, are you?  You know, I’ve dealt with your kind before.  All bark and no bite.
Souma: I have a bite.  Of course, the last time I bit you, you were only crippled.
Sayu: What are you talking about?
Souma: I gave you my warning.  That’s all we have to discuss.
Sayu: I don’t know why you’re warning me, but if you plan on getting in the way of my sister’s happiness, I won’t let it go.

Souma didn’t respond to Sayu’s counter-threat.  She simply gave her a cold passing glance as she walked to the exit.

So, what happens after that?

Actually, I thought I’d take a few steps back and go over the last couple of days from a different perspective.  Perspectives.

You couldn’t have just done it all chronologically?

Now where’s the fun in that?

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