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

This is Chapter 3 from Volume 1 of the Toradora! Light Novel series. The original text is from Baka-tsuki, but the edited version present on this Wiki is from Live Journal.

Transcript

It was five in the morning when I returned to bed. Despite the fact that a growing teenager's body needs sleep just as badly as it needs air, I forced myself to wake up at the usual time as there were still many things to be done. I was so sleep deprived I thought that everything that happened last night was a bad dream--a nightmare--but that thought eventually cleared from my mind the longer I kept my eyes open.

After my usual bathroom routine I went to feed Inko-chan. I made sure he was awake before removing the cloth from the cage, "Morning, Inko-chan!" I heard some noise from inside the cage so I pulled the cloth.

"Gah!" Inko-chan laid dead with his face up on the floor of the cage. "B--but! Inko-chan, I heard you making some noise just now!"

To my relief, Inko-chan made the noise--"Ugh, ugh!"--again. I let out a sigh of relief. Anyone would have thought he was dead on first glance, but apparently he just fell from his perch and decided to try sleeping on his back. I called out his name a few more times and he quickly righted himself. His feathers looked ruffled, he seemed uncomfortable in general. When I showed him to Aisaka last night it didn't look as if all the commotion woke him up but maybe I was wrong.

"Morning!" Inko-chan squawked. As I refilled his food, I wondered if maybe I should have gotten a cat or dog. "I...! Iiiii! In... In...!"

"Oh! Are you finally going to say 'Inko-chan'?" I got excited as he spread his swings and stretched out his tail.

"I... Idiot!" Flap.

"Damn," I said disappointingly and put the cloth over the cage. No point in getting annoyed over every little thing, all hell would break loose and life would be unbearable if I did. Since I finished checking on Inko-chan, I went to check on my mother.

Before I slid the fusuma door fully open I knew she was home. The smell of alcohol hit me before my eyes adjusted to the darkness of her room and saw her lying face down on her futon. The sheets were pulled in every direction, it seemed as if she rolled around drunkenly on the bed before settling on her stomach. Thankfully she had managed to changed into a track suit before falling asleep; I didn't want to scold her on wearing nothing but her underwear again. She risked catching a cold when she does. Plus, you know, it's just weird for a guy my age.

The pleasant surprise I felt at Ya-chan having put on some decent clothes faded when I noticed she only cleaned off some of the make-up from her face. With one half of her face clean and the other still covered in make-up, she looked like Baron Ashura, a two-faced villain from an old super robot TV show.

"I'm amazed you didn't break your neck rolling around," I nudged my mother gently. "Come on, sleep properly or you'll get a stiff neck."

"Ya... Yaya... Mmm... Ya..." For a second I thought Inko-chan was talking. Apparently Inko-chan adopted his manner of speaking from Ya-chan. Or maybe it's the other way around? I placed Ya-chan into a proper sleeping position on her futon. She wanted to buy her own bed but there's no way I'd let her get one if she'll just end up ruining it with her make-up.

Before leaving my mother's room, I noticed a convenience store bag in the corner of the room. I removed two melting ice-cream sticks from inside and quickly put them in the fridge. Then I went to work preparing my breakfast and bento box for lunch when, "Ah, yeah," I remembered what happened to the food I had originally prepared last night.

I had used up the last of my eggs and bacon to feed Aisaka so I had no breakfast. The cooked rice was also all gone. For breakfast, I would have to settle for milk then cooked some fresh rice creole for my lunch. After all, rice is essential.

Into the rice cooker, I mixed in some rice wine, syrup, and mirin sauce for taste. For variety, I added some kombu kelp, boiled bamboo shoots, and enokitakes mushrooms to the rice. I turned the cooker on while I peeled and simmered some potatoes. I quickly washed the cutting board, cooking knife, and the kitchen counter while everything cooked. After the potatoes boiled for a few minutes, I added some sugar, mirin sauce, rice wine, syrup, soup powder, and noodle sauce. Later on, I would have to lower the temperature on the potatoes so they wouldn't overcook. When I packed it all away, I would also add some soy sauce for a little more taste. I always managed to cook tasty potatoes despite never actually using a proper recipe.

By the time I had nothing to do but wait, it had been half an hour since I woke up. There was still plenty of time before school so I poured myself a glass of milk and sat at the living room table to watch some TV. While watching a morning gossip show and listening to the sports news, I began wiping table with a cloth. When I looked back down at the table, I realized that I had wiped it to a clean sparkle without even realizing it.

Even though I only had some milk for breakfast, the day was looking good so far since my favourite soccer team had won its last game. All I needed was some warm sunshine and I'd be ready for just about anything. I looked out the living room window at the luxury apartment and sighed in my dim room.

Before I could start getting depressed about the lack of sunlight in my home, I was startled by the phone ringing. Who makes calls this early in the morning? I picked the phone up quickly so the ringing wouldn't wake up my mother. "Hello, this is Takasu speaking--"

A screaming voice exploded from the phone speaker, "You're late! Just what are you doing?!"

Startled, I hung up the phone quickly. Wasn't I living a mostly normal life? What happened to that? The phone rang again. I answered politely again, "Hello, this is Takasu speaking."

The caller was much calmer this time but the tone of her voice was still angry. "You hung up on me, didn't you?" the voice grumbled. "You want me to come over right now and raise hell?"

I didn't want a repeat of what happened last night. Though the landlady hadn't come knocking on the door to complain about all of the noise last night, I could hear her sweeping just outside my door, ready to yell at me as soon as I stepped outside.

There was only one person I knew that talked like the person on the phone. "Aisaka... Taiga..." One who roared as loudly and viciously as her deserved alias: the Palmtop Tiger.

"If you don't want me trashing your place then hurry and come over," Aisaka's voiced growled over the phone. "What were you doing? Don't tell me you're breaking your promise already! Do you even remember the promise you made last night?"

"Promise?" I balked, "You can't be serious?"

"You said you'd do anything like a dog! You swore, didn't you?" her voice became louder. "So hurry up and come over! Now! And everyday before school from now on!"

"W--wait!" was she insane?! "Last night I meant I'd help you get closer to Kitamura!"

A noise of utter annoyance and irritation travelled through the phone line. "Tch! Whatever! You said you'd do anything! I don't care what excuses you have, just hurry up and come!" her voice lowered to a threatening whisper. "I meant what I said about raising hell. If last night doesn't give you an idea of what I can do to you, I can always come over and show you."

Aisaka was clearly in a really bad mood. Her voice sounded like a demon from hell whispering doom and despair into my ears. There wasn't a point arguing with her over the phone. "Fine, I'll come over. But I don't even know where you live."

"Look outside your window."

"Outside my window?" I walked towards the window. "There's nothing out there except a ridiculously huge apartment build--"

I stood at the window and looked out in shocked silence. My home was on the second level of a town house. Looking out of my window, I could look into the window of an apartment on the second floor of the bourgeoisie apartment building.

I watched Aisaka's lips moved as she spoke, "What's with those silly looking pyjamas?" Aisaka was standing at the window opposite mine with a cordless phone held to her ear. She had a terrifying disgruntled look on her face.

"Gah! S--stop looking at me!" I was feeling cold earlier in the morning so I had put on my mother's cuddly woolen shirt. It was decorated with hearts in many different colours.

Aisaka pulled on a rope nearby her window, causing the curtains to slide in from the sides, hiding her from my sight. "Like hell I want to look at you! Get your ass over here, you stupid dog!"

Before she could hang up on me, I blurted out, "Wait! Give me ten more minutes!"

"What for?!"

"The creole rice I'm cooking is almost done." Aisaka remained silent on the phone but I could hear a thunderous growling noise. It was too loud for me to ignore. "W--would you like some...?"

After a long moment of silence, the curtains covering the windows of the luxury apartment parted about ten centimetres. Aisaka gave me a silent nod.

My mother, Inko-chan, and now Aisaka. There was now three for me to feed.

°°°°°

This was the first time I've ever seen an automatic security door.

I was in front of the lobby of the luxury apartment building. The marble flooring and walls made it feel colder in the building than it was outside. The entire area felt eerily quiet as if I was being watched, likely by a bunch of hidden security cameras. I frowned at the gate. It was--or at least looked--automatic so why wasn't it opening for me? On a nearby wall was a panel with buttons, a keyhole, and what looked like the speaker of an intercom system. There was also a security booth nearby but there was a sign that read Cleaning in Progress so it didn't look as if I'd be able to get any help from there.

I bent at the waist to get a better look at the panel. I had no idea how to use it. No idea how I'm supposed to get into the Palmtop Tiger's cage?

The automatic gate suddenly opened, pushed by a young woman leaving the lobby. "Good... morning...?" she greeted me but quickly became suspicious once she didn't recognize me.

"M--morning," I mumbled my thanks and lowered my head embarrassingly. Before the gate closed behind the leaving woman, I quickly slipped through. Hopefully I won't get in trouble for this.

Trying to seem inconspicuous, I hurried to the elevator. As soon as I got off at the second floor, I realized I never asked Aisaka what her room number was. Looking around the carpet-laden corridor answered my question. Other than the fire exit and elevator, there was only one door on this floor: Aisaka's apartment took up the entire second floor of the luxury apartment building. Rent must have been insanely high and Aisaka could afford living here? Were those rumours about her father being a part of the criminal underworld true after all?

I walked to the door and hit the doorbell nervously. Even if it was Aisaka, I was still visiting a girl's place. There was no response for several seconds so I hit the doorbell a few more times. There's still some time before school begins but I can't stand around here forever. I grabbed the door handle with a slightly sweat hand and tried opening the door.

I held my breath as it opened easily. When there was still no response I peeked inside. "M--morning! Aisaka? It's me, Takasu... Hello?" I called out. "Sorry to bother... M--may I come in?"

Still nothing. What the hell was with her? Demanding I come over so early in the morning but just leaving me to stand here all alone? What if her family--especially her father--sees me? Somehow I didn't think that the daughter of the family telling me to come over in the morning would go over well with anyone's parents. But maybe they weren't home?

I stepped inside, closing the door behind me, then took my shoes off. The foyer was beautiful: pure white wallpaper, premium wooden tiles, excellent lighting. Unlike other apartments around the neighbourhood, this one was designed with a fine sense of taste. Leading further into the apartment was a laminated glass door which I opened and stepped through.

"Whoa...!" I was awestruck by the living room. It was incredibly huge and had pure white carpeting that matched the walls. It was also furnished with a small, modern looking light gray sofa, a dining table, and a designer chair. I found it strange that there was only one chair at the table--there's room for at least six chairs in a room this size--but was quickly distracted by the crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling! The southern wall was nearly all window and looked onto a small forest of trees in a nearby park--I used to enjoy that view before this building was put up!

I looked towards the open kitchen and felt a wave of envy roll over me as I looked upon the high-tech stainless steel appliances and numerous cupboards. I took a few steps closer to the European-style kitchen to gawk at the appliances I wish I could afford but was suddenly repelled by an assault to my nose. "What the hell is that smell?" I coughed. Whatever it was, it was coming from the kitchen.

I put a hand over my nose and moved towards the sink. I had to control myself from retching right then and there as I saw the sink filled with a huge pile of dirty plates covered in what, I assume, was left over food, spoiled and rotten. The drain?! With all of that trash sitting in the sink, what horrors filled the drain?! Unable to stop myself, I walked right up to the sink. Taking a closer look, I saw black mold growing on the stainless steel. I reached out with a trembling finger and touched it: thick and slippery.

My mind suddenly exploded, filled with thoughts that were almost rage-like. This was unacceptable! This was a desecration of a beautiful kitchen! It was a mockery of civilized life! My own pitiful kitchen was narrow and dark but you could eat off the floor! I shed sweat and tears cleaning that puny kitchen of mine and Aisaka allowed her beautiful and well-equipped kitchen to turn into this swamp!

I just couldn't hold it in. "Aisaka!" I yelled at the top of my lungs as I bolted from the kitchen. I had seen enough. I ran throughout the entire apartment, "Let me!--" barging through every door, "Clean your--" looking in every room, "Kitchen!"

Where the hell was she?! There! That last sliding door? I slammed it open. "Ah...!"

I fell silent as soon as I looked inside.

°°°°°

I was struck silent by what I saw, I even held a hand over my mouth and stopped breathing for a moment.

It was a beautiful room. The floor was littered with fluffy, one-piece dresses thrown around haphazardly but it didn't detract from the room's atmosphere. White curtains hung from the high ceiling to frame the north-facing window. In a corner was a matching white study table and chair. In the middle of the room stood a large four poster bed with lacy curtains hanging from its tall frame. It was fit for a princess.

Aisaka Taiga was in the centre of the bed surrounded by the curtains, her arms and legs curled into a fetal position. Her long hair flowed around her body, formed by the pillows and blankets around her.

I spotted a portable phone on the bed beside her and looking out the window I saw my home. "So she went back to sleep," I muttered silently, just barely as loud her quiet and rhythmic breathing.

I stood still as I took in even more of the sight before me. Aisaka was wrapped in some loose fitting pyjamas that made her already slender arms and legs even more so. Her face was calm, like I've never seen before; and very still, as if she was carved from ice. Her small nose, parted lips, and eyelashes were relaxed and cast downwards. If it wasn't for her breathing I wouldn't have been able to tell if she was alive as she slept quietly on her bed.

The entire scene felt like something out of a fairy tale. The idea that I was watching Sleeping Beauty crossed my mind but I quickly pushed that thought out of my mind. Aisaka's no princess.

She was more like a doll abandoned by a princess who had outgrown her. That would certainly explain her personality. And this room and apartment, too. A doll left alone in a princess' castle. That's why everything around her was so big in comparison.

But, of course, it's nothing like how it looks or feels. Aisaka is real. This room is really her room. This apartment really hers. This is her home. Strange, where's her family?

I scanned the bedroom. Of the many rooms in this apartment, this was the only room that had any indication of someone living within it because of the clothes scattered around the floor. I remembered the furniture for one in the living room. There's no one here besides Aisaka, who merely shakes her head silently when asked about her family.

I checked my watched, there was still some time before the start of school. I had a feeling it would be difficult to wake Aisaka so I left, closing the door behind me slowly so I didn't make a noise. I decided that I'd wake her if she's still sleeping when it was time to leave.

Returning to the kitchen and feeling as if I phased back from an alternate dimension, I took off my gakuran school uniform jacket. I glared at the horrid mess of a kitchen. I had roughly fifteen minutes. "Let's do this," I said as I began my attack against the grime, mold, and who knows what else infesting the kitchen. Aisaka won't believe her eyes once she sees how I've transformed her kitchen once I'm finished.

After fifteen minutes passed, I realized that completely cleaning the kitchen was going to take a while. I had managed to clean a good number of plates, utensils, and the disorganized cupboards when I decided to save the rest for tomorrow. Right now I needed to prepare breakfast. I took out the creole rice and instant miso soup breakfast I brought along with me. I had also packed a separate lunch of the same in an extra bento box just in case.

I wondered what sweet dreams Aisaka was sleeping through as I unpacked the food I brought for her.

°°°°°

"I called you to pick me up so I wouldn't be late!" Aisaka and I were running towards school. "Why didn't you wake me up sooner? What were you doing?"

"Hey!" I protested. "I told you to eat faster, didn't I? Who was it that kept on asking for seconds and wouldn't put the bowl down?"

"I never asked you to help me, you're the one who made the breakfast on your own!" she shot back. "It would've been a waste if I didn't eat it so you ought to be grateful that I helped you!"

"Gimme back--" I wasn't sure if I was stammering because I was running out of breathe or if her insanity was getting to me. "Gimme back that bento lunch!"

"Shut up! Stay away from me, you perverted dog!"

"Why you--" I made a swipe for the bento box she was holding in one hand. "I said gimme that! Return it along with my kindness!"

"Shut up, you scum!" The two of us yelling at one another must have been a strange sight to the other people on the road.

"I--I don't give spare creole rice to people who call me scum!" Using my height to my advantage and coming from behind, I tried to grab the bento lunch box from her tiny hands. She slipped away easily, slithering like a snake, then kept a good distance away from me. Up ahead, I saw some people giving us weird--almost frightened--looks over their shoulders and moving to the other side of the road. "It's unbelievable that such an an ungrateful girl like you exists! I even cleaned most of your kitchen for you!"

"I never asked you to do that!"

"You're ridiculous, you know that? The water clogging the sink reeked! There was nothing but slime and mold in the drain! The rotting leftovers was something straight out of hell! How long did you leave your kitchen like that?!"

"About half a year."

How in the world does she survive? She's inhuman. "You have no right to call yourself a human being."

The two of us, exhausted from the running, had slowed down to a brisk walk. She gave me a silent, expressionless glance before moving forward quickly to put some distance between the two of us.

Honestly, did she really think I cleaned that kitchen for her sake? I just couldn't stand to let the filth sit as it did. A kitchen like hers should be clean, beautiful, and usable. I continued to silently fume as I followed Aisaka by a few meters.

She looked over her shoulder and snorted through her small nose as if to get my attention. "Nevermind the little stuff. Don't forget that you're going to help me at school, so don't even think about trying to run!"

That sounded like a warning. No, a threat. I hastened my steps to catch up to her so I wouldn't have to yell down the street at her. "I have no intention of helping someone who speaks to me like that." She stopped suddenly and I bumped into her. In an apparent attempt to stop me from tripping over her, she elbowed me in the stomach. Honestly, she's likely to cause injury even when she isn't blatantly attacking someone. "Hey, don't just stop all of a sudden!"

Aisaka called out in an unexpectedly cheerful voice that surprised me. "Minorin!" Huh?! "Were you waiting for me again?"

Kushieda Minori was standing at a street corner just ahead of us. The eyes lit up in a cheerful smile. The morning sun's glow illuminated her hair while her skirt fluttered in the morning breeze. "You're late, Taiga!" she waved. "Did you take a detour today, too?"

She turned to look at me and her arm froze still mid-wave and let out a long, drawn out, "Eeeh? Wha--? No way! Could it be?!"

"What is it, Minorin?" Aisaka asked in her rare, cheerful voice.

"Ah!" Kushieda exclaimed loudly, glancing quickly between Aisaka and I. "You're asking me what it is? Eh... It's just that I didn't know that Taiga and Takasu-kun were getting along so well that you two were walking to school as a couple."

My jaw dropped as I froze up in shock. Aisaka continued, "It's not like that, Minorin. And what do you mean 'as a couple'?"

"Hmm!" Kushieda rubbed her chin, thinking hard. "What's this sort of situation called again? I can't think of the right word. Oh yeah! You two have 'sworn to never part'!"

I felt the world turn upside down beneath my feet, I had no idea how I was still standing. Normally my heart would be all a flutter with Kushieda cutely using these archaic words and phrases to describe a relationship. But not when she's using them in regards to me and Aisaka! I finally got a hold of myself. "No, no, no!" I blurted out. "We didn't swear to walk to school or anything, we just met back there." I awkwardly gestured down the road behind me. "Right, Aisaka?"

Aisaka slowly turned her head to look at me. Her eyes were narrow and her lips curled in an evil grin. Why wasn't she saying anything?!

"Oh, so you two met by chance, huh?" Kushieda asked.

Aisaka finally spoke as she took Kushieda by the elbow and began turning her towards school. "Yeah, we live near each other apparently." This was my chance, all I had to do was fall into step behind them and I would be just that close to Kushieda. Was Aisaka intentionally giving me this chance? To make a habit of walking to school with Kushieda? Aisaka turned her head towards me and spoke in a voice that was suddenly expressionless and deadpan. "Well, see you later, Takasu-kun. Since we only met by chance, we'll leave you be."

Huh? "Ah..." I let out confusingly. That wasn't what I was expecting.

"I'll see you later then, Takasu-kun!" Kushieda said to me over her shoulder before bringing her attention back to Aisaka. "Hey Taiga, did you see last night on TV..."

Hey, I watched TV last night, too! She could've been asking me that question! I raised an arm to call out to them but couldn't think of what to say.

Then it hit me. I realized that I had never seen Aisaka being subtle before and that's why it took me by surprise. With both her silence and her careful choice of words, she was telling me she could utterly crush my chances of getting closer to Kushieda.

Aisaka looked over her shoulder at me for one last time, glaring at me with her eyes. I could easily imagine her thinking, Don't even think of trying to get ahead of me! Stop being cocky, you stupid dog!

I was petrified by those eyes. She really was a little beast. I knew her game now and it scared me: unless I can get Kitamura and her together, she'll do everything to keep Kushieda away from me.

But, really, even if Aisaka wasn't in the way, me going out with Kushieda would still be just a dream. What the hell was I thinking? Where'd such a pathetic thought like that come from? No. At this rate I'll just be Aisaka's dog for the rest of my life. That's the worse thing I could imagine and I'll not settle for that!

I watched the two girls get further ahead of me. Alright, fine. Aisaka wants to be that way? Bring it on and don't underestimate me. Her contempt and degradation will not keep me down, they'll just push me to fight harder.

I'll get her and Kitamura so close together she'll want to reward me by practically throwing Kushieda into my arms.

°°°°°

Light Novel
Main Series' Volumes

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