V9 Story II – Part 01

Story II

An invisible wall surrounds me.

I’ve known this for a long time.

I’m confined, trapped in a cage that is absolutely inescapable. I wear a collar around my neck, a chain extending from it, inhibiting any attempt to run away.

Someone once told me that I’m a dog. When I first heard that, I was puzzled. After all, I was sure I was a human.

But my doubts quickly vanished. I’m a dog. Nothing more, nothing less. I had to accept that fact to live. I am a dog. A base and dull animal.

Even when the cage was removed, there was always an invisible wall around me, preventing me from reaching out to people. Human words couldn’t reach me. They were outside the barrier.

I am so distant from everything here, and yet, I am so alone.

Still, I don’t feel lonely. Such emotions are reserved for humans.

No matter how much I suffered, I had to continue ignoring everything.

I shouldn’t yearn for simple happiness, because it’s beyond what I deserve. Someone with a body so greatly inferior to that of a human should never seek it.

I’ve believed in that for a long, long time.

Or so I thought.

When I felt loneliness for the first time, you smiled at me.

Hurrying down the hospital corridor as the morning sun broke, a sudden hand gripped my collar, yanking me back. I found myself wrapped in a warm embrace.

I was held against someone’s chest for a moment, then gently released. Whoever it was grabbed my shoulder and forced me to turn around. When I saw the face in front of me, I gasped.



My cheek was struck. There was no pain, only a jolt. Shirayuki was clenching her fists, trembling. Her hand clearly showed her urge to strike me.


Shirayuki opened her fan and began writing with her brush, flashing it towards me.

“Where are you going?”

Her words were civil but burning with anger. I swallowed hard. Her face displayed a smile, but there was rage in her entire presence, bordering on malice.

I tried to respond but, before I could, she closed the fan and opened it again.

“I have heard everything from Lady Mayuzumi.”

“What about the IV? Did you call a doctor to remove it? You probably did not, did you? Only fools ignore their own well-being.”

“I know where you are headed. To Mr. Yusuke, right?”

“If you are leaving, then so be it. You are a kind person, so I am certain you will go. I understand. But still, why?”

Shirayuki took a deep breath, her lips tightening as the brush moved swiftly. She looked at me with teary eyes.

“Why are you going alone?”

Her question hit me hard, leaving me speechless. She fixed me with a sharp stare.

She ran her brush again. “Why are you not taking me with you?”

Why, indeed?

Her question stunned me. Shirayuki could bring her drawings to life. If I brought her, we could restrain Yusuke by force. But I didn’t want to ask for her help.

Was there even any point in restraining Yusuke? No, before that…

“…No.” My mouth moved on its own.

Shirayuki’s eyes widened. Before she could write again, I cut her off.

“I will never bring you with me.”

As I spoke these words, I was the one who felt the most shocked. What was I saying? At the same time, I also understood my own thoughts. Regardless of any benefits, I didn’t want to involve Shirayuki.

This was my ego talking. I was putting my own interests before Yusuke’s. I couldn’t bring myself to agree.

“The cycle of revenge continues. Even if something happens to me, I know you will stay strong. It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just…”

I grabbed her shoulders. Shirayuki looked bewildered. I turned my face away from her, searching for the right words.

“Yusuke is deeply hurt by Hirugao’s death. Kugutsu is devastated by Maihime’s injuries. When people get hurt, their pain spreads to others. I’ve seen it happen many times. Shirayuki-san, you claim to like me, to love me. That’s why…”

My fingers shook as I held her slender shoulders.

“I don’t want to die in front of you,” I said earnestly.

I didn’t want to leave lasting scars on her, not if I could help it.

Shirayuki stared at me. Then she looked down and moved her brush.

“Are you planning to die?”

“No. Not at all. It’s just that I lack confidence. The child growing inside me is becoming more unstable. I don’t even know how it might react to any sort of impact.”

Uka had emerged from my womb earlier on her own. Something was changing within the child.

Taking my violent emotions might speed up the change. Plus, there was no guarantee that Yusuke was still alive. If he had hanged himself, I had no idea how the baby would react.

Would she eat a person or its host? What Mayuzumi said some time ago came to mind.

“Its existence is very unstable. It will drain your life force, and more importantly, it gets bigger every time you use it. I doubt that once it’s fully grown, it will still have a human form.”

The fear I harbored towards Uka resurfaced. She wasn’t to blame; it was my fault for overusing a non-human entity. Though she was currently the size of a child, I couldn’t predict what the future held.

Even without that threat, I didn’t want to take Shirayuki with me. I recalled Maihime’s condition and Yusuke’s smile. I just didn’t want to see the people I knew getting hurt anymore.

It wasn’t a matter of reason. The mere thought of her suffering in any way made my whole body tremble.

“The child might consume me, or it might hurt you. I don’t want to see you suffer, and I don’t want to die before your eyes. So, please stay here,” I begged her, lifting my head.

A fist slammed into my left cheek.

I fell, and my vision spun. I ended up kneeling on the floor, blood dripping from my nose. My injured leg throbbed with pain. In my disorientation, Shirayuki helped me to my feet.

She stared at me intensely, wiped my nose with her white sleeve, checked the part she’d struck, and nodded slightly. The pain wasn’t that severe. She gently released me and opened her fan.

“Are you an idiot?” Her shoulders quivered. “You claim to act for others but only think of yourself. You say you do not want me to get hurt, which is why you do not want me involved.”

Tears pooled in Shirayuki’s eyes. She raised her fist once more. Biting her lip, she withdrew her arm. She continued writing with her brush.

“Why do you not even consider that I might feel the same?”

Tears rolled down her cheeks. She sniffled, wiping her eyes with her hands.

“Do you really expect me to stay behind knowing there is a possibility you might die? If you die, I will never forgive you. Absolutely not. I have chosen to protect you. Dying? How could you even utter such foolishness? Your child might consume you?”

Shirayuki furrowed her brows, her face a mix of anger and disbelief. Releasing her pent-up emotions, she continued moving her brush.

“It is too late for that. I have chosen to love you and your child. I am prepared for anything. If you fear being devoured, then let it be. I can handle that too. Besides, I am also concerned about Mr. Yusuke. He was the reason why Sarasa and Choubi are able to smile.”


She closed her fan and then opened it, locking eyes with me. I swallowed hard, suddenly realizing that she was much stronger than I could ever measure. She regarded me with unwavering determination.

“My wounds are my own concern. I will bear them and withstand the pain. You do not have a say in this. Just keep quiet and take me with you.”


She closed her fan, her torrent of words coming to a halt. A few moments later, she opened the fan with a smile.

“Do you understand, Mr. Odagiri?”

Her smile was incredibly beautiful.

Feeling overwhelmed, I nodded.

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Beyond Another Darkness ~ B.A.D.

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