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E6 - 6 This article contains HEAVY spoilers. Please view at your own risk.

This is the Prologue from Volume 10 of the Toradora! Light Novel series. The text is from Baka-tsuki.

Transcript

"Ah? It's you. Mother isn't......Huh? Help you tell her? And how is that any of my business? Please tell her yourself."

"You're really useless!"

The person on the other end of the line clicked his tongue unhappily.

"What? You have a problem?"

Minori tugged on the cord of her hooded t-shirt, pulling her hood tightly around her head, as the other person retorted, 'Bernie!' This was how Minori and her brother had communicated since a long time ago. 'Tell me this isn't true, Bernie!'[1] Last time, she would have found the urgent-sounding voice on the other end of the line funny, but now --

"Anyway, why didn't you call mother's cellphone in the first place if you really have something urgent to tell her?"

"She didn't pick up!" Hearing her brother's unhappy reply, Minori was extremely unhappy as well, as she spoke to the person that she couldn't see through the phone.

"It's really cold over here! You idiot! Are you looking for trouble, I had to go out into the hallway to pick up your phone!"

"You could have used the handset!"

"Handset?"

"You don't know what a handset is?"

"It's been missing for ages!"

Minori was really freezing. She wasn't wearing socks as she had been sitting at the kotatsu, which is why Minori was freezing as she stood barefooted in the hallway, her breath coming out in white clouds of mist.

"How would I have known that, you ugly girl!"

Hearing the shouting from the other side of the line, 'How dare you!' Minori used her frozen hand to tug even harder on the cord of her hooded t-shirt, binding it even tighter around her head.

"If you dare to come home, I'll kill......Ah, I think mother's back?"

The unlocking of the door was heard in the hallway, as Minori's mother, had returned home, carrying a shopping bag in one hand. Minori handed over the phone, and merely said 'Midori---', which was enough to tell her mother that it was her brother, who stayed in a boarding school. 'Hello?' Her mother's excited voice sounded in the hallway.

"You're too loud!"

As Minori prepared to bring the shopping bags to the kitchen, she noticed that there were shiny beads on her mother's coat. For a moment, she thought that those were raindrops.

"......Eh? It can't be?"

Minori opened the cold metal door of her home to the corridor of her apartment block, mildly surprised by the cold air that penetrated deep into her chest.

It's true!

Looking down from the fourth storey, Minori saw that it had started snowing, the street looking as though it was covered by countless white feathers dancing in the wind. Minori momentarily forgot about the cold as she stuck her head out. Even though she had seen enough snow to last her a lifetime during the school trip, but it was another thing altogether when it snowed in her own town.

"Wow! It's beautiful......!"

I should send a mail to my friends. To tell them, Have you noticed that it's snowing? It's really beautiful. Go outside quickly. What are you doing out?

"Perhaps I could add another sentence: Wouldn't that make this a white Valentine's Day?"

But Minori didn't move, as she stared at the snowflakes falling from the sky, framing the scenery with the thumbs and index fingers of both her hands and looking through the rectangular frame.

Today is Valentine's Day.

Perhaps the snow is a present from the heavens. For the people who weren't able to be honest, the heavens pulled down a white curtain, temporarily blocking out the complications of life.

If it's like this, then please snow all you can. Minori stretched out her hands towards the night sky as she closed her eyes and mouth. I don't think I'll be sending any mail anytime soon, I want to stay here. The snowflakes that fell onto the palms of her outstretched hands looked small, thin and fragile. The warmth that this pair of hands had touched, the memory that was still vividly etched into her mind, their conversations, all those seemed to be flying towards the sky together with the evaporating warmth.

And then the white snowflakes melted into droplets of water before freezing up again in the clouds, to once again descend upon this world. That warmth had silently turned into countless glittering diamonds above the heads of the people in this town--

"Nee-chan! There's miso ramen, shoyu ramen and pork ribs ramen, which one would you like to eat!?"

--Her mother stuck her head out of the door, waving packets of instant noodles in her hands.

"......You're such a spoiler, mother......!"

Minori couldn't help but groan, clutching her head in her hands in exasperation. Just because of this, because of this......She ruffled her fringe as she turned around to once again gaze upon the snowing night sky.

Maybe this is how it is. My home is still what it has always been like tonight. She wound the cord that had been stretched to it's limit around her finger, breathing out white clouds of mist towards the night sky. If only the incessant snow and the white clouds that I'm breathing out can become part of the curtain that has descended upon the world; If only they could become a pure-white protective barrier around the two people who are finally willing to face up to each other honestly.

As long as the two of them are alone together, they will surely be able to share their secrets with each other.

Even as Minori prepared to walk back into her home, she forcibly turned her upper body back towards the night sky, her legs crossed. Hey, to the people in the world--! She breathed deeply in the freezing air, as though she was trying to suck in the attention that she did not need, opening her arms theatrically,

"How can there be a mother who asks her daughter, who works in a ramen store, to eat instant ramen!"

"You......stop trying to be funny......"

Hahahaha-- Minori laughed as she walked back into her home, not noticing that on the bridge below her apartment block, a black-colored sports car was weaving through traffic in a hurry.


  • *

The dark-coloured car that had just drove past looked like her mother's Porsche.

The two of them hid under a darkened saloon's advertisement board at a corner of a cross junction, holding their breath as they waited for the traffic light to change to green.

Under the intense gaze of the red light, a multitude of snowflakes descended from the sky.

She wanted to say: It's really cold.

She wanted to say: The snow will probably pile up won't it.

"......"

She wanted to call, 'Ryūji.' But it was as though her voice was frozen in the depths of her throat, rendering her unable to speak. Taiga blew off the snowflakes that had stuck onto her fringe.

As long as I open my mouth, the conversation will be continued. Ryūji, where are we going? What should we do? What will happen now? But since she couldn't speak, Taiga could only remain silent.

Several large lorries turned around the cross junction and drove past the two of them, their loud ignition sounding like challenging voices in the deathly silent housing district. Even if they weren't intentional, Taiga was still a little afraid, as she stepped back slightly, feeling the coldness of the asphalt road through her boot-clad feet. Her right hand was still holding on to Ryūji's left hand, but he hadn't said anything at all, as his fingers shook uncontrollably despite Taiga tightening and loosening her grip a couple of times.

Taiga looked up at the side of Ryūji's face, feeling as though that familiar silhouette was extremely far away, but also feeling as though she may be able to touch him without even needing to straighten her fingers if she were to reach out. The pair of eyes that curved upwards violently looked as though they were glaring at the traffic light, but his expression must be very calm, his chin should also be relaxed. A single snowflake dropped onto that pair of pale lips, and disappeared in a moment.

It will disappear the moment it touched. Taiga looked away.

A desire so strong that it was scary had been conveyed to the right hand that Taiga held tightly in her left hand. She wanted to hold on even tighter, she wanted to close the distance between them, to use her claws to forcibly shorten the distance, she wanted to be entangled together with him, and then bite down with her teeth -- she wanted to satiate the hunger that she felt. If she could shout out her true feelings as she bit down, so that he would understand......

She wanted to rush headlong into him, to tell him about the feelings that even she herself did not fully understand. Even though she had already decided on what to do, but she wasn't even able to say his name as she hid behind the saloon's advertisement board. 4500 yen for a haircut, 1000 yen extra for long hair. 2500 yen for a perm. Taiga stared at those words and numbers until she could recite them from memory, but the traffic light still had not changed to green.

If the friend that had pushed this shivering body of mine forward knew that I'm like this right now, I wonder what she would think--

"......!"

--What kind of expression should I have? Because she had lowered her head, mucus was dripping out from her nose. Taiga breathed in loudly as she wiped her nose with the back of her hand. Ryūji might have mistaken that for a sob, as he suddenly let go of the hand that he had held on with almost inhuman strength.

"Ah!?"

"......Not so loud, or the people living here will hear us. Remember, right now, we're running away."

Ryūji's grumbled in response to Taiga's sudden shriek, even though he was also speaking in a loud voice. Probably because he hadn't spoken in a long time, his volume control was a little rusty.

But that wasn't the point. Ryūji slowly unraveled the cashmere muffler that was wrapped around his neck inside his eiderdown coat.

"Eh......It can't be......"

"Yes it can."

Ryūji wrapped the muffler around Taiga's neck--Of course not. Taiga already had her own muffler wrapped around her neck, so Ryūji wrapped his muffler around her head to block the snow. He tied a knot at her chin.

"......Now we'll be able to pick up roaches......!"

Ryūji's eyes looked like the the eyes that Hades used to banish the spirits of dead people to hell, as he slowly spoke in a low voice,

"You don't pick up roaches, you catch them."

A snowflake dropped onto the tip of his nose, as the white cloud that Ryūji breathed out quavered in the wintry air.

"......Maybe it would have been better if I had told him about it first."

The meaning was unclear in the mumbled sentence.

"......What are you talking about?"

"I should have told Kitamura to keep my part-time job a secret."

The two of them didn't look at each other. Taiga lightly held Ryūji's right hand before letting go again. Will they be able to hold hands again? But, but, but--

The traffic light still had not changed to green.


  • *

--Even so, it was still too early to come to a conclusion.

--It was also true that there were many different perspectives on this matter.

--As of today, the situation still has not been resolved.

"'Difference in opinion'......There's no way to resolve the difference. 'It is still too early to come to a conclusion'......'Some say that is still too early'......Hmm -- 'As of the time of this writing, no conclusion has been made' should be enough. Right, this should be about it."

Kitamura carefully stacked the pages of the report on top of each other as he counted the number of pages. The reports for three people had ten pages each, now all he had to do was to staple them together with a cover page. This will be 2000 yen times 3, 6000 yen altogether. He even changed the handwriting for each of the reports, using a 2B pencil, a 0.3mm HB mechanical pencil and a blue ballpoint pen for each of the report, so it shouldn't be too obvious that all three reports were done by the same person.

Kitamura took off his spectacles and rubbed the spot between his eyebrows as he stretched his back, cracking his joints loudly in the process. And then he moved his arms and neck, groaning like an old man.

Turning off the light on the table that he had used since primary school, Kitamura looked over the three reports that he had done. Even though the content only needed to prove that 'the writer has read the book', but it still wasn't an easy task. It wasn't his brain that was tired, it was his eyes and hand.

According to his brother, fewer and fewer professors allow their students to use typewriters to do their reports (speaking of which, the fact that almost no university student knew how to operate a typewriter nowadays was also a problem. Because more and more students merely copied from the web, some professors had started to only accept handwritten reports. This was what had brought a money-making opportunity to his younger brother, who was in high school. Of course he wouldn't be able to help with the higher level reports, but if it's only a routine literature review, his younger brother would be able to turn into a 'report-writing machine' to help mass produce handwritten reports.

The softwood board beside the table had a list of his brother's 'reservations'. Kitamura put on his spectacles for a closer look. His brother was in a club that spanned across several famous private universities, so he knew a lot of people. The period from now till the end of the semester was the best time to make money, some of the longer reports even going for 5000 yen. Luckily Kitamura's club activities were on hold for the time being, so he had time to help his brother.

"This is 1000, and then 500, 1000......and then 2000, 2000, it'll be 28000 yen in total up to here......"

Kitamura counted with his fingers as he thought to himself, It's still not enough. The main problem was the extra costs. And also......Right, my stingy brother's 10 percent.

"10 percent's a lot of money. Damn it, I have to think of a way......Hmm? What's that?"

The loud roar of an engine was heard outside his window, as Kitamura lifted his head in surprise. He pulled open his curtains,

"Oh!"

He was also surprised that it was snowing. It looked really cold outside, as numerous snowflakes danced around under the light of the streetlamps. And then--

"Wow......"

Kitamura gave another surprised exclamation as he saw the unique headlights of the car. Judging by the sound of its engine, could it be a Porsche? Sports cars were very uncommon in a housing district like his.

Kitamura closed the curtain due to the cold, as he stood up to press a button on the wall remote to turn on the heater. As the old air-conditioner started to creak and groan, Kitamura noticed that the sound of the Porsche's engine had stopped as he heard the opening of the Porsche's door.

It can't be a visitor to my house can it? Kitamura didn't think that anyone he knew would drive a car like that to visit his house. But at that exact moment -- 'Ding Dong.'

Without giving him any time to think, the doorbell had sounded. And then he heard the sound of his mother's footsteps, and -- 'May I ask who is this?' the usual greetings over the intercom.

Kitamura's mother talked to the visitor for a little while before walking up the stairs. She knocked on his door before sticking her head in, an inexplicable expression on her face,

"Could you come down for a while?"

Her tone was serious. This isn't a good sign, Kitamura thought as he mentally prepared himself.

"Me? What's wrong? Who's here?"

"She says that she's Aisaka-san's mother, Aisaka-san is one of the classmates that went with you to Kawashima's summer home during the holidays isn't she? Her mother seems to be......looking for her. She seems to have disappeared."

Aisaka Taiga disappeared. --Just as Takasu Ryūji has also disappeared.

Kitamura had a very bad feeling about the whole thing. He suddenly pieced together the entire situation. It was that phone call. Everything started from there.

"Hello~Kitamura-kun, I can't find Ryū-chan, do you know where he is~?" -- I stupidly told her the truth.

Something special may happen between Aisaka Taiga and Takasu Ryūji today. I had always thought, and had also hoped that something like that would happen, which was why I had felt that nothing was wrong even if he hadn't gone home when he was supposed to. Which was why I wasn't worried at all. But I had subconsciously felt that since Takasu Yasuko was his guardian, so I was unable to lie to her.

Aisaka Taiga had mentioned that she has been living alone ever since her parents divorced. Since it's like this, then why would her mother choose to appear in this town, appear at my house? If she had wanted to find Aisaka, shouldn't she have gone to Kushieda's or Takasu's place -- Or could it be that during that phone call, my best friend wasn't the only one who was missing? Are the two of them together? Did they disappear together? Is it because they have disappeared that their family members are looking for them? Or is because their family members are looking for them that they disappeared?

"What happened......Do you know something about it?"

Kitamura's mother knitted her eyebrows together as she asked him. Walking out of his room, Kitamura didn't answer, as he thought to himself while walking down the stairs: Because I don't know anything, that's why I need to think about it.

Light Novel
Main Series' Volumes

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