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

This is Chapter 3 from Volume 3 of the Toradora! Light Novel series. The text is from Baka-tsuki.

Transcript

"Last night I noticed that my bellybutton looked a bit filthy while I was taking a bath, so I asked my sister to get me a cotton swab so I could clean it. But now it's all red... You think this'll stick out? Hey, Nototchi! Do you think my bellybutton looks filthy?"

"As if anyone would pay attention to that! I'm the one who should be worrying! Don't you think my armpit hair is a bit too long and dense? You can even see them even with my arms closed! Doesn't that look weird? I even had to trim my chest hair! Hey, Takasu, let's have a look at your armpits!"

"Quit fooling around! ... You look fine, alright? Besides, there's a lot of ways to cover up your bellybutton and armpits... What I'm concerned about is... Do you guys think my nipples look black? Would they get even darker if they're exposed to the sun?"

Sigh...

There stood three male high school students: the laid-back Haruta and his long hair, Noto holding his dark-rimmed glasses wrapped in a towel, and Ryūji, with his beast-like eyes, staring intently at the nipples of all the other male classmates in swimming trunks. He wasn't going to beat them up, but was just comparing their nipple colors with his own.

The three boys each felt a sense of inferiority over their bodies...

"Whoa~ That looks cold..."

The school rules stipulated that a shower must be taken before entering the pool, so everyone was lined up before the shower taps.

The water that sprayed from the shower head was cold enough to give one goosebumps, but it wasn't like they had another choice.

"Ugggggghhhhhh! It's freezing!!!"

The icy tap water mercilessly rained on Ryūji's sleep deprived skin. He had only slept less than two hours the night before. I wonder how others are doing? Ryūji was struggling to open his sleepy eyes as he looked around...

"All I need to do is wash my crotch, right? Wouldn't that be enough?"

Trying his best to avoid contact with water on unnecessary places, Haruta yanked his trunks outward and only soaked that part with water, twitching and screaming at the same time. Noto on the other hand...

"Eek! Cold! I remember someone in elementary school once said 'You can only meditate while standing under a cold water shower'!"

It was amazing that he was able to say something so casual while his teeth chattered... At that moment, someone right next to Noto exclaimed,

"As long as you calm your mind down, the shower would feel warm! Namo...Amitabhaya...Buddhaya..."

"So this kind of person exists in high school as well!"

Disregarding the fact that he was still wearing glasses, for some reason, the class representative Kitamura Yūsaku was making a hand seal like a ninja while standing under his shower head. Is he an idiot? Without realizing it, Ryūji, like his other classmates, had moved quite a distance away from his good friend while staring at him with disbelief.

"Gah! My glasses!"

The shower water washed Kitamura's glasses off his head, forcing the foolish meditating monk to his knees to chase after them as they were being washed down towards the drain... Taiga, are you sure this is the man you have a crush on?

Kitamura from the male perspective was drastically different than that of the females.


"Ahh~ How soothing!"

"Oh! Maruo~! Show us your biceps!"

"Biceps? These?"

Kyaa~ The elated screams of the girls seemed to illuminate the blue summer sky.

The weather is perfect!

The pool surface is glimmering!!

Summer is here!!!

Summer is upon us~!!!

"It's only folks over there that would think that way..."

"Yeah, it's cold over here. Wouldn't it be a bit too early to open the pool in June?"

The gloomy trio sat shoulder to shoulder by the poolside, watching the dazzling girls circling around Kitamura. They kicked their feet in the water, allowing their leg hairs to float. Since swimming class in this school was basically a free activity time, no one would say anything if they swam or just sat by the poolside.

Before this bunch of huddled men, the girls surrounding Kitamura now smiled even more cheerfully. "Your abs look amazing!" "That's right!" Perhaps it had something to do with him participating in club activities, but even from a distance, one could tell that Kitamura had a good build. He already looked fit when wearing his uniform, but he gave off a different aura when he was not wearing it. On top of that, he had quite a good-looking face once he took off his glasses, as well as eyes that dazzled under the sunlight. Overall, he looked fantastic.

"Maruo looks better without glasses. Why don't you try wearing contacts instead?"

Kihara Maya suggested, holding onto a beach ball while floating in the pool, giving Kitamura a cheerful smile.

"Hey, I'm not wearing glasses either... Why do I get the feeling that I'm invisible to the girls? ... Can they see me? Am I really here?"

"Compared to someone whose sight would cause people to flee in terror, you're much better."

"Alright, alright! Both of you, stop acting as though you're attending your funeral already!"

Sitting between Noto and Ryūji, Haruta placed his hand on their shoulders, as though trying to pass his positive energy onto them. Ahead of this gross male trio...

"Kyaa! Sheeze! Stop it already!"

"Wah! It's cold!"

...Was the sound of laughter, the splashing of water, and the happy shrieks of the girls.

Splashing the water with her hands, Maya had most of her long straight hair bundled lightly with a hair clip, while the remaining hair hung wet from her neck. She looked quite gorgeous. She wore a black halterneck swimsuit, completely revealing her back. Her slim shoulders and the curve of her back glowed in the sunlight.

"... 83 points!"

"And here we go! Notocchi's already given a score of over 80. Hmm, 85!"

"You guys really do like Kihara. As for me... 77."

"That low? Hmm, I guess Takasu doesn't really fancy feisty girls, huh?"

"I wouldn't really call it fancy... More like afraid..."

"Oh yeah, I think I understand how that feels." Ryūji's friends agreed at once, although from a bystander's point of view, it made more sense that the person who they should've been afraid of was Ryūji. Nevertheless, this flaw appeared to be negated by their friendship...

"Maruo just doesn't look like Maruo without his glasses! I still think you look better with them on." said Kashii Nanako, the other attractive girl of Class 2-C and a good friend of Maya's. She was strolling casually by the poolside before stopping by Kitamura's side.

"Huh? Why don't you come in the pool Kashii?" asked Kitamura, given the aristocratic title of "Maruo" as a sign of affection by the girls. Nanako shook her head and replied while making a gesture that could only be described as elegant,

"I got caught applying lotion by the teacher, and he said I'm not allowed to get in the water. What a bummer."

As Nanako did not intend to swim, her curly hair flowed freely over her shoulders. Even the birthmark by her lips looked glamorous. Nanako's figure was slightly more endowed than Maya's, her slim body curves clad in a purplish-blue swimsuit, tied onto her shoulders in butterfly knots.

"I wanna remove that! 86!"

"I wanna remove that! 81!"

"It looks like a butterfly knot, but it's probably sewn on... 85."

"Uh huh..." The three of them all nodded, staring at each other and smiling, even though the eyes of one of the boys looked far more dangerous than those of the average pervert...

And then...

"Oh, Ami-tan's here! No way! She's so cute! And thin!"

"I'm sorry, Maya-chan. I couldn't tie my hair up. That's why I took so long."

Haruta quickly leaned as far forward as he could.

Noto took out the glasses from his towel and put them on.

For the sake of his two friends, Ryūji slowly moved backwards with an ambiguous expression.

"I'm so excited! I love swimming. This is my first time having swimming lessons with everyone since we met. It'll be worth remembering so I'm looking forward to it!"

Ami appeared, standing with her feet pointing inwards while revealing her innocent angelic smile, and swung her arms towards the other girls in an exaggerated way.

The body wrapped underneath the swimsuit she had bought yesterday was so perfect in a matter-of-fact way that it caught everyone's attention.

"I'm... so moved!"

"It's like seeing an angel!"

Haruta and Noto secretly applauded, while Ryūji was the only one that looked stunned...

Heh heh heh! Today, Ami-chan is, of course, super-duper cute as well! Behold, you foolish mortals! I permit you to bow in the presence of the angel and lick my shadow, since it's probably the most generous gift you could ever receive! Oh ho ho ho ho ho!

The real side of Ami flashed in Ryūji's mind, although in reality, Ami's appearance was flawless, and there was no hint as to what she was really thinking.

"Ah~ I feel like swimming! I haven't gone to the gym ever since I moved here. I think I'll swim till I drop!"

Ami moved as elegantly as a ballerina. After stretching her arms and legs, she briskly walked towards the starting platform.

"Hey! Ami, you have to do your warm-ups properly!"

"I know that already! Yūsaku, you sure can be bothersome." Ami gave a simple reply to her childhood friend's advice.

"Wow... awesome!"

It was only natural for Haruta to exclaim in awe, as Ami dived into the water with perfect posture. Everyone expected her to quickly emerge from the water. Instead, she accelerated, and gracefully swam 25 meters in one breath. This showed that she was already used to swimming. She then touched the wall and spun gracefully, and used the butterfly stroke on the return trip.

Even Ryūji was awestruck. She had the speed of a dolphin, graceful movements, and even the droplets of water from her splashes glittered like gems...

"HA! Ow... my eyes sure hurt without goggles!"

As Ami climbed out of the pool after catching a few breaths...

"Eh? What's going on?"

Everyone applauded thunderously. Ami widened her eyes and tilted her head, as though looking troubled - this was a sign that she knew very well that this was applause for her performance just now.

"Eh~? Really... cut it out~ It's embarrassing! I only swim once every time I work out, that's all... I should be the one applauding for everyone's kindness!"

Ami started clapping her hands while blushing, causing the crowd to go into another uproar. "So adorable!" "So gentle!" "Ami-chan's like an angel!"

"Oh wow... I feel so glad to be in the same class as Ami-chan! Right Notocchi? Right Takasu? Hey Takasu, what's wrong with your eyes?"

"It, it's nothing, they always look that way..."

"Well, anyway... the pool is really a great place!"

Noto was now happily kicking the water, causing droplets to splash onto his glasses. Agreeing with his statement, Haruta and Ryūji began kicking too.

"It's a great place!"

"It's a great place!"

... Summer has finally arrived.

This is what swimming lessons look like. There's probably no class happier than this! To put it another way, this is like the cherry on top of the sundae!


Usually we only see the girls in their uniforms, and can only imagine what their figures are like. The skin around their chest, their inner thighs, their bottom, and their armpits... We would always imagine. This is the only time of the year we can appreciate them fully. Not to mention that since this swimming lesson is mostly playtime, there are no annoying exams, and there is no division of classes according to grades. For the students, there's nothing more enjoyable than enjoying a cozy PE lesson.

That said, Ami, Maya and Nanako aren't the only girls in the class.

"Hmm... 10, 10, 15, 20... That bunch over there don't even look like they're trying! They'll need to do better..."

And there's more,

"55, 54... Hmm... 48. Why do girls with the same level of cuteness always congregate? Anyway, this bunch is just above-average!"

So is our job to sit here and ruthlessly give out scores and comments?

"By the way, what's Koigakubo doing here? Doesn't she teach English?"

Following Noto's gaze, they found Koigakubo Yuri (29, single) dressed in sports gear. She was holding an umbrella, and was wearing a pair of gloves, a hat, and sunglasses - basically anything that could be used to block UV rays. Right now, she stood amongst the girls that sat by the poolside, observing the action in the pool. Haruta lifted his head to get a better look at her, and then smiled,

"She's probably after Muscle Kuro!"

Haruta pointed with his chin towards the male PE teacher with the amazing nickname (I think his name's Kuroma... something. Can't remember properly.) He rested his tanned muscles by the poolside, perhaps to tan them even more. The eyes behind the sunglasses of their single homeroom teacher stared at his reliable-looking back, which glistened with lotion... That's probably how it is. Ryūji couldn't help but sigh.

"She's really going all out. Though it seems pitiable..."

"Doesn't she? According to my secret sources, Yuri's birthday is in September. She's probably planning to date the first month, and get married by the second month, just before she turns 30... That's what I think anyway. But does she really have to rush this? Besides, it doesn't have to be Muscle Kuro, does it? If Yuri came up to me and said, 'Haruta-kun, please go out with me!' I'd probably agree right away!"

"I already feel hot just hearing about Koigakubo's hard work and Haruta's fantasies. Let's go for a swim, Takasu!"

"Hey, don't say that! I'm coming too!"

It was time to cool off their sun-scorched skins. The three boys jumped into the pool. Although it had felt cold a while ago, the water now felt just right for Ryūji. Maybe it was because of the fiery gaze of their homeroom teacher or the nonsense his friend spoke of.

"Okay! Let's try holding our breaths! We'll swim to the other end like that, and the last one will have to treat us with drinks!"

"No problem! Bring it on!"

"Then let's get started! Ready... get set..."

A second after putting his head into the water in preparation...

"Pffft!" Ryūji had already betrayed his friends, and exhaled all the air that he saved up in his lungs. He grabbed the edge of the pool with both arms, and didn't even bother to look at his friends, who were still holding their breaths. His round eyes flashed a dangerous glint. It wasn't because he had consumed stimulants, but because she had arrived.

No one could have guessed what Ryūji was thinking.

For a while now, he had been on the constant lookout for her...

He was constantly worried... Where is she?

Toradora vol03 121.jpg "Hey, Takasu-kun~! How's the water? Is it cold?"

The person running over was even more dazzling than the sun, and came with a smile most befitting of the midsummer day...

"Minorin! Don't run! My hair'll get messed up again!"

Taiga followed behind her, like a Chinese doll. She had wrapped her hair into two buns above her ears, covering the swimsuit she wore with a tracksuit jacket. Upon seeing Ryūji, she nodded gently as though nothing had happened. Ryūji too nodded in response, while trying to confirm if that which he worked all night on was working properly.

Hold on a sec, now's not the time for that. Minori's smiling at me! The way she waved her hand and ran energetically towards him felt like a stop-motion animation.

With her hair tied in a high ponytail, Minori wore a proper dark-blue swimsuit. She doesn't need to lose any weight at all! Her waist was beautiful and firm, while the bust under her swimsuit was quite well endowed. Perhaps it had something to do with her being on a sports team, but the skin from her biceps to her fingers, and from her thighs to her ankles (just above where her socks would be) was slightly tanned.

"Ahahaha! I was trying to run around the pool once as warm-up!"

"Whoa!"

Before Ryūji's intoxicated gaze, Minori first looked as though she wanted to continue running, but instead turned and dashed towards the pool. Splash! Still smiling, she jumped straight into the water, creating a huge splash.

"M, Minorin!"

The sight even stunned Taiga.

"Ahahaha~ Feels great!"

Minori emerged from the water, and waved her hand at Ryūji, who was standing just beside her.

"Yo!"

"By the way, Taiga, give me your hand, I need to get out."

"Okay..."

"Just kidding!"

Splash! As Minori prepared to climb out of the pool, she suddenly let go of Taiga's hand, and jumped back into the water backwards... or more accurately, she fell into the water.

"Ahahahahahaha..."

Like a submarine, Minori quickly floated back to the surface, without a hint of concern that her hair was now all messed up, and laughed heartily. Is this the same Minori that was feeling depressed about how she'd look in a swimsuit just yesterday?

As though hearing Ryūji's thoughts, Minori, who was now all wet, gave Ryūji a thumbs-up, "Yay!"

"Heh heh, Takasu-kun, I thought about it. As long as I'm in the pool, no one will be able to see my stomach! So I'm gonna swim now, see ya!"

She then swam away in a messed-up breaststroke.

"W... what on earth just happened?"

Ryūji could only watch her depart with his jaw agape. He then realized, I only saw Minori fully in her swimsuit for only two seconds! And because he was too shocked by her sudden entrance, even those two seconds of memory were becoming blurry.

"Damn..."

"Such a hopeless expression... You really are a perverted dog!"

As he came to, he noticed Taiga, still wrapped in a tracksuit jacket, siting like a statue by the poolside.

"Cold..."

She pouted as she dipped her feet into the water. Seeing that face, Ryūji couldn't resist...

"Take this!"

"Wah!"

He shaped his hand like a gun and squirted water at Taiga - this was a super high pressure water gun that Ryūji had devised when he was in sixth grade. Taiga blinked her eyes incessantly, wiping her wet face with the sleeve of her tracksuit jacket, and then yelled,

"W, what do you think you're doing, idiot!?"

"Since you came all the way to swim, don't make such an unenthusiastic face!"

"That's none of your business! I just hate the swimming pool!"

Taiga began kicking her white legs and splashed at Ryūji... forming a two meter high column of water.

"Bwah! Stop it!"

"Ha! This is payback for just now!"

What kind of payback is this when you're just sitting casually by the poolside?

"Oh yeah? Take this!"

Ryūji suddenly splashed a big wave of water at Taiga, who quickly dodged it.

"Bwah!"

That blow was unfortunately taken by Kitamura, who had suddenly stepped behind Taiga without them knowing.

"I've got water in my nose! That took me by surprise. Are you two fighting again?"

At that moment, Taiga...

"T, Taiga?"

Her crush had suddenly appeared in a pair of swimming trunks, glassless, and with a body that even his fellow men would envy, with a face that was so awesome that one could no longer just call him "Maruo". Taiga quickly placed the hood of her tracksuit jacket over her head, and zipped the tracksuit all the way up to her nose. She trembled uneasily, not daring to make a sound.

"Hmm? What's wrong? Aisaka... it's Aisaka, right? I can't see properly without my glasses, but such a small figure, you've got to be Aisaka! What are you hiding your face for? I was about to say how that hair of yours resembled a little mouse. It looks good! Is something wrong? You feel okay?"

It was a good thing he did not see Taiga looking agonized, twitching frantically,

"I'm fine, I'm fine," Taiga replied repeatedly. She even added "Go away!", something she would definitely regret later.

"Huh? Did I say something I shouldn't have said? Why is she acting so cold? Takasu, did I say something wrong? Tell me already."

Taiga didn't even notice Kitamura's troubled expression - or rather, her hood prevented him from noticing.

Standing in the pool, Ryūji could only shrug his shoulders.

"That's enough! Leave me alone!"

Taiga twitched her body even more, like a shark shaking in agony on a boat deck after having its fins cut off. Finally, Kitamura was driven away by her.

Splash! Taiga washed her burning-red face with the swimming pool water.

"Uwaaaaah! I thought I was gonna die!"

"Hey, what do you think you were doing!? That was such a great chance to talk to him! Don't get me involved if you go and complain later on!"

"No! T, t, t, that's because... it's embarrassing!"

Splash! Splash! She quickly splashed even more water onto her face, even her bangs were soaked wet.

"... Hee hee hee, he said my head looks cute, right?"

"He didn't say it looks cute, he said it looks good."

"He said it looks good, right... Hee hee..."

"Didn't he already say he couldn't see properly without his glasses on?"

"He said it looked like a little mouse... that means it's cute, right? Hee hee!"

Taiga gently caressed her hair and smiled while tilting her head. Her face resembled a sleepy kitten. As a result of putting the hood over her head, the hair, which she had spent a lot of time tying up was now messed up, though Taiga didn't have time to worry about such matters.

Sigh, Ryūji scratched his head. Even when summer has arrived and the pool has opened, Taiga is still the same as ever.

At least it's still peaceful.

The pool surface glitters in flashes of blue, and the voices of laughter between friends echo around.

It's a fine, windless day.

One could feel the footsteps of summer approaching.

And that is enough. Ryūji glanced at Taiga, who caressed her bangs, and nodded, Yup. This life is the best.

Taiga was swooning over Kitamura. As for Minori... she was learning some sort of crocodile stroke, scaring Maya and the others playing with the beach ball. Kitamura, who held the attendance list in his hand, was talking to Muscle Kuro. Haruta and Noto stared at Taiga, not daring to approach. The homeroom teacher was staring intently at Muscle Kuro... Huh? Where did Ami go?

"Oh my~ Aisaka-san? You've finally come? And I thought you would never appear, could it be because your swimsuit is too loose and you didn't dare come out?"

Here she is.

Ami tied her wet hair in a bundle, which was dripping water everywhere. The way she smiled under the sunlight felt exactly like a sun lotion commercial, yet the way she spoke sweetly was pissing people off.

Ryūji stared painfully at the two girls... Such a hard earned peaceful day has once again been disrupted by the vicious showdown between the tiger and the chihuahua.

"Swimsuit size? What are you talking about? Are you still sleep walking and haven't woken up yet?"

Taiga instantly returned to calmness. Her eyes were full of contempt, although her mouth formed a carefree smile. That's right! Right now, Taiga no longer had anything to worry about (concerning swimsuits)!

"Forget it. Dummies would always say foolish things. Besides, I'm feeling a bit hot, perhaps I'll take off this jacket!"

Taiga stood up and removed the tracksuit jacket that was wrapping her tiny body.

She stood proudly with her chest raised, her limbs fully exposed under the sunlight. Although she was small in stature, her proportions were as delicate as a doll's, with no extra flesh exposed. Renowned as a fierce tiger, Taiga now wore only a dangerous and thin swimsuit...

The pool was silent for a few seconds...

"Oooohhhh!!!" Everyone finally exclaimed. Ryūji was certain he didn't hear that incorrectly.

"Ugh!" Ami covered her mouth. The glances of her classmate were now focused on Taiga's white skin.

Like Ryūji before, everyone had thought that In her swimsuit, the Palmtop Tiger would look no different from a little kid. They thought that because she was thin and small, her chest would be so flat and uncharacteristic that one would weep tears of sympathy for her.

However, lo and behold!

"Oh man, I really don't want to stand under the sun... My skin will get dark."

Her melancholic eyebrows cast a shadow over her face. Whenever she turned her waist, softly stretching her back and crossing her long legs, one could tell just how slim she was. Yet she still had the curves of a female. On top of that... Well? What do you guys think about those breasts? Hmm? Ryūji's face revealed a smile of a death-row prisoner resigned to his fate.

A perfectly awesome outcome!

They weren't big, but they weren't small either. In any case, her swimsuit bulged naturally, forming a perfect cup-shape on both sides. Although she looked unfazed, Taiga still proudly raised her chest, and bounced her soft breasts.

These were the masterpieces Ryūji had spent all night working on - the "phony breast pads".

After obtaining breast pads from clothes that Yasuko no longer wore, Ryūji slightly adjusted the thickness, cutting out a smooth curve before folding it and sewing the folded parts together. It was sewn so perfectly that even an expert wouldn't have been able to find the stitching. Finally, the pads were fitted onto the swimsuit with veiled buttons. Because it looked so natural, even Taiga blushed after she tried it on. She even swore to Ryūji that she would definitely wear this on her wedding day (Even though it was already 4 in the morning when she had said that...)

"Hmph... Turns out she's got a normal figure after all, how boring! Anyway, her size is still too small!"

Ami muttered quietly, quickly losing her interest and revealing her devious nature. "What an idiot!" Taiga replied with her face turned away from Ami.

"Good work..."

Taiga gave a subtle V-sign to Ryūji, to which he also replied with underwater.

The male classmates began to murmur amongst themselves, since most of them had probably seen that "pathetic bust" photo from the previous year. "She actually grew that much in the space of a year..." "Confirmation of breast growth verified..." "I definitely like the tiger better..." It seemed like everyone had been successfully fooled. Taiga was in an unusually good mood as she beamed brightly and returned to sitting by the poolside, placing her legs into the water.

"Ryūji, teach me how to do that just now. The thing where you squirt water out. I want to try it on Minorin as well."

She asked while clutching her hands. Does she mean the water gun?

"Oh! First you hold your hands tightly together, and then you place them in the water..."

"Like this?"

Taiga obediently held her hands as Ryūji instructed and bent forward, placing them into the water. Gotcha... Ryūji aimed at the face that approached him and...

"Like this!"

Squirt!

"Uwah! ... Why you-!"

Taiga wiped her wet face with the back of her hand, and glared at Ryūji,

"Alright then... Allow me to return the favor. Stay right there..."

Taiga followed Ryūji and grabbed her hands. She squeezed tightly, Squirt! and fired the water...

"Wah!"

... Into her own face. How clumsy. Almost to the point of being dumb. Ryūji couldn't help but laugh out loud, and prepared to move in for the kill.

"Yup! That's it! Why can't you do it? Huh? I wonder?"

"Wah! Wait! Uwah! Ryūji! Don't you think you can... ahh!"

Taiga tried to dodge frantically, but because she couldn't open her eyes or stand up, she could only shield her face with her hands. Ryūji wondered if this was the first time he had ever bested Taiga.

"You see, you see? Like this!"

As the old saying goes, pride goes before a fall.

"Hey! Stop bullying Taiga!!!"

"Whoa!"

Splash! Ryūji felt a strong impact on his nose, as water entered through it and into his throat. It took Ryūji a few seconds to realize what had just happened, and a few more to realize it was fired by Minori, who was standing quite a distance away.

"Ahahahaha! How's that? This is the secret power of the Kushieda Water Gun, passed down through the generations!"

"H, how'd you do that!? Cause it sure damn hurts!"

"I ain't telling someone who bullied Taiga! Bleh!"

"Yay!" Minori made a V-sign, and skillfully swam to the deepest part in the middle of the pool. As expected from the mad dog that rules supreme over the Kanto region... No, it has more to do with her amazing arms and her natural athleticism in any sport.

"Minorin, thanks for saving me!"

Taiga's eyes glittered passionately, smiling at her savior, but Minori only took one glance at Taiga and snickered,

"Fake Breast Trooper..."

Leaving with that comment, she submerged into the water like a crocodile on the hunt. After her suspicious-looking silhouette went away, Ryūji said,

"S, she found out already..."

"As expected from Minorin..."

Ryūji and Taiga could not help but envision themselves trembling, standing shoulder to shoulder by the poolside holding hands.

At that moment, at the other end of the pool... Splash! Sounds of splashing water startled Ryūji, who turned to take a look.

"Wahahahaha! How's that? It's not fair that you're the only one that's popular!"

"We're deeply unsatisfied with this biased treatment!"

Noto and Haruta smiled evilly by the poolside. Kitamura, who looked dejected after being driven away by Taiga (or was he?), emerged from the water,

"Cough! Cough! Why you two... Come back here! It's my turn to strike back!"

It took Kitamura just two strokes before reaching the poolside, and he quickly climbed up and grabbed Noto, who was trying to escape. Disregarding his status as the class representative, he lifted Noto high in the air, and prepared to give him a backbreaker throw.

"S, s, s, stop! My glasses, my glasses... WHOOOAAAAHHH!!!"

"This is summer, folks! Hah!!!"

Without hesitation, Kitamura raised his chest and tossed Noto towards the pool with his back facing the water, creating a massive water column. At the same time, Haruta was also grabbed by someone else on the other end, unable to move his arms and legs. He could only wait to be thrown in as well...

"You're going in as well! Hell Cradle!!!"

SPLOOSH!

"Come! Let the festival begin!"

"You're all going in!"

In an instant, the poolside became hell on earth. Those already in the water were smacked by the people being thrown in, and those trying to climb out were quickly kicked back in as well.

"Kyaa! Stop it, stop it, stop it... Nooo!!!"

Even Nanako, who decided to have an afternoon nap, was tossed in. Without regard to male or female gender, the battle royale had begun.

"Uwah! Isn't this a bit dangerous?"

Ryūji exclaimed, as he was soaked wet by the splash caused by his classmates falling into the pool. Just when he had climbed up with one foot out of the pool...

"Target spotted!"

"Go get 'em! My softball teammate!"

"Huh? Wha! Wha, wha, whoooaaa!!!"

On his right was Minori, while on his left was Kitamura. By the time he realized, Ryūji's arms were locked tight by the both of them, and he found himself flying in mid-air before landing in the pool on his back.

Struggling painfully out of the white bubbles, it took Ryūji some time to finally emerge from the water.

"W, why you two...! Cough! Cough!"

The Softball Duo had already gone off in search of their next prey... "Wha!? No way!? You got to be kidding meeee!!!" That sounded like Maya screaming...

Standing before Ryūji, Taiga was laughing heartily.

"Yay!!! You finally fell! Feels great to be touched by Minorin's hands, doesn't it?"

She looked down happily at Ryūji. It seems like no one would dare touch this Palmtop Tiger... And it seemed like Taiga thought so as well, which explained her carefree look.

"W, why you... In that case I'll just toss you..."

Just as he was about to finish...

"There. You. Are~. Looks like someone still hasn't been thrown in the water~"

A most malicious voice came from behind Taiga. This means, there's still that master of troublemaking - Kawashima Ami.

"You...!"

Completely defenseless and caught by surprise, Ami lifted Taiga by her waist before she could even react.

"Let's play~! Nothing personal, you know~? Here goes~!"

SPLOOSH! Taiga was thrown into the pool, creating a huge splash as she sank to the bottom.

"Ahahaha! Serves you right-!"

"D, do you think there's still time for you to say such carefree stuff!? Hurry up and run!"

"Heh heh! Ami-chan would like to see that cocky tiger with a pathetic crying face with Ami-chan's own eyes!"

Ami leapt about cheerfully, but Taiga did not emerge. All that could be seen were some bubbles floating to the surface, which eventually disappeared as well.

"...Eh? Eh!?"

As Ryūji wondered how long eternity would actually last, he thought, Come to think of it, Taiga said something... what was it? I remember... that moment... Yeah, I remember asking her, "Why do you hate the swimming pool so much?" And Taiga replied, "You listen carefully! It's because I can't swim, that's why I hate it!"

Hmm... This means...

"She really can't swim!? She's gonna drown!"

"Ehh!? Really!?"

Ami's face instantly went pale. Ryūji quickly dived into the pool.

After making three hard hand strokes, he finally grabbed Taiga, who was wrapped up like a ball, and returned to the surface all in one breath.

"Buwah! Hey! You alright!? Hey, hey, hey, hey!!!"

"N, n, n, n, noooo! D, d, do-rrrr-n't...!!!"

Taiga began to struggle and thrash violently, trying to escape from Ryūji's arms. Ryūji's chin was hit, and the two of them sank back into the water again. A lot of water was entering her nose, but Taiga didn't seem to care. She was focused on escaping. Ryūji tried to lift Taiga up, allowing her face to come out of the water...

"This is baaa-rrrr-d! Hic! Hic! Cough! Cough! It's dro-rrr-ped!!!"

"W, what are you talking abo-rrrr-ut!? Cough! Cough!"

Water kept entering Taiga's mouth, but she still seemed intent on looking for something. She didn't even grab on Ryūji's hands, as her arms were clutched in front of her chest, as if she was trying to conceal something...

"N, no wa-rrrrrr-y!?"

"It's dro-rrrrr-ped! There's only one side le-rrrrr-ft!"

When she said "dropped", she meant that, right? Yeah, that...

"EEHH!?"

That... one of the phony breast pads floated a few metres before them. With one hand holding Taiga, Ryūji swam frantically to retrieve it before anyone saw it...

"Are you kidding me? Why didn't you say so if you couldn't swim!?"

"Ah!!! Don't come overrrrrrrr!!!"

Seeing how Taiga and Ryūji were struggling in the water, Ami thought they were drowning. She dived gracefully into the water in an attempt to rescue the sinking duo. Oh crap! At this rate, she'll discover that Taiga has a pad on one side and none on the other! God knows what she'll say if she ever finds out... Here it goes!

"WAH!?"

Ryūji suddenly pulled Taiga into the water, and in a matter of seconds, pulled out the front of the struggling Taiga's swimsuit in the most delicate manner possible.

He then stuck his hand inside the warm swimsuit, and placed the breast pad back to its original position... There's no other choice, He felt like he touched something... But I guess it can't be helped.

At that moment, Ryūji knew at once that Taiga was roaring furiously in the water, as massive bubbles began to erupt from her tiger jaws.


  • *


"Huh? What happened?"

"Ami-chan pushed the Palmtop Tiger into the pool..."

"No way! That's suicide!"

The classmates quietly gossiped, although things were not as simple as they thought.

"I already told you I didn't know you couldn't swim! Besides, haven't I apologized to you already?"

"This isn't something that can be settled by a mere apology..."

Too exhausted to even roar at Ami, Taiga could only lean on the table, the eyes within her damp hair occasionally glittering with tears.

Ryūji could only stand petrified as he watched the two exchange words. She's right. This isn't something that can be settled by an apology.

After that happened, Taiga only said two words as she was pulled out of the water, "How mortifying." She not only meant being pushed into the pool, but also that thing which Ryūji did to her. This was done for her own good, although in hindsight, it did seem mean. I think I may have touched, as well as saw, something that resembled a flat horizon...

"It's, it's your own fault. If it wasn't for that stupid move, I wouldn't have... have..."

"Wouldn't have what? Did something happen?"

"In any case, just apologize! Apologize! Apologize! APOLOGIZE!!!!!"

Toradora vol03 141.jpg Taiga was latched onto the table as she rocked it vigorously. For the Palmtop Tiger, this demonstration of wrath seemed to be lacking something. No one else knew that it was because she felt absolutely humiliated from her breasts (seemingly) being exposed... Besides Ryūji, that is.

"Really, what do you want me to do? Haven't I been apologizing all this time already?"

Ami, who had been wearing her angelic mask while being confronted by Taiga, was starting to get annoyed. Hmph! A vague sneer appeared at the corner of her lips,

"Come to think of it, I never knew Aisaka-san was such a landlubber... How pitiful~ You poor thing~ You must have suffered a lot, haven't you~? Like being asked to stay behind in class because you can't swim?"

Ami lowered her voice and had begun her irritating "fake sympathy" attack. Realizing that no one else was around to notice, she nodded while speaking in a sweet voice "I see~." Paying attention to the glances around her, she continued with something even more spiteful,

"Summer is here and you can't swim. Wouldn't that mean you couldn't go to the beach or the swimming pool? What a shame! Takasu-kun, why don't we go together~?Toradora vol02 heart.png"

I have no idea what sort of logic she's using to come to such a conclusion. Ami had begun to use her most effective method when confronting Taiga: Teasing Ryūji, although Ryūji would ultimately be the one ending up feeling troubled.

"Huh... why is Ami-chan inviting Takasu on her own...?"

"Why does it have to be Takasu!?"

Having witnessed the whole thing all along, the glances of the classmates suddenly turned hostile. No, wait a minute... Ryūji attempted to wipe his hands clear of this affair...

"That's right! Takasu-kun, my family has a mansion~! You want to come have fun with me there?"

"Eh?"

Ami walked directly in front of Taiga and straight towards Ryūji's side,

"Well, that's decided! Okay?"

The chihuahua tilted her head, her watery eyes glimmering. The mood in the classroom turned dark,

"Why Takasu of all people!? How come he could go to her mansion!? Why, Ami-chan, why!?"

"Wait a moment! Why is this turning into me spending the summer with you!? Aren't you supposed to be apologizing to Taiga?"

"Hmm? Was I?"

Seems like I forgot~ Ami gestured with her clumsy-looking smile, and softly knocked her head with her fists.

Taiga suddenly stood up behind them,

"Spare the apology! How mundane! You can go wherever you want and do whatever you please for all I care, you lowlife couple!"

After finishing, she separated the crowd like Moses did to the Red Sea, and walked through the aisle that had formed in between. Feeling a bit annoyed, Ami pouted, but did not stop her assault,

"Remember to come, Takasu-kun! I'm sure we'll have lots of fun! We'll spend the whole summer there!"

"Isn't that enough for you already..."

"Eh... you can't? Then... that's right, you wouldn't complain if Yūsaku came along as well, would you?"

Taiga forcefully stopped her tracks, turned around and walked back in great strides past the onlookers.

"Whoa!?"

Taiga remained silent, and grabbed the wrist of Ryūji, who Ami was leaning upon.

"Oh my~"

"What now..."

Making another turn, Taiga now had Ryūji behind her back. Ami seemed to have seen something amusing, and gleefully squinted her eyes. Although it was recess time, the classroom was so silent that one might of thought that the Titanic had just sunk. It was so quiet that noises from the class next door could be heard. It was understandable, since for everyone else, what they saw was basically "the Palmtop Tiger forcefully snatching Takasu from Ami-chan's side"... They could only gulp in silence.

Only Ryūji knew, the reason Taiga turned around was not because of him, but because Ami said "Yūsaku is coming along as well".

"What is it now, Aisaka-san?"

"I can't allow you to decide on your own..."

"That wasn't what you said earlier. Didn't you say we could go wherever we want and do whatever we please?"

"If it's for the whole summer, then it'll be another matter. But Ryūji is in charge of my meals, plus all other matters, so I can't let him go with you."

"Oh my... So you're basically saying 'Ryūji is mine'? How bold of you!"

"I never said that. And who would, anyway? Shouldn't you go and have your ears examined? Or should I help dig all the earwax out of your ears?"

Ami looked down with her lips twitching.

Taiga looked up with her chest puffed-up.

Ryūji no longer remained in their sights; the situation was close to critical mass.

The first to move was Taiga. She took a huge step forward. A sweet smile appeared on her beautiful, white face. She stood on her tip-toes and whispered to Ami's ear,

"If you go about starting funny business, I'll release that video of your 100 sessions of monomane medley to the public... No wait, it's 150 sessions, right?"

Ami's face was quickly shrouded by a dark complexion, although as expected of her angelic mask, she rebounded just as fast. Ami smiled gently, bent down and cheerfully whispered into Taiga's ear,

"If you do that, then I'll sue you for breach of my image rights... Not even a Palmtop Tiger can escape the clutches of the law, can she?"

"Hu... hu hu hu"

"Ahaha..."

"Uhuhuhuhuhuhu..."

"Ahahahahahaha..."

Under everyone's gaze, the veins in their foreheads looked as though they were about to burst.

"Stop this at once! ... Your fists will get hurt that way!"

"M, Minorin!?"

Minori charged in between them without regard for her life, and tightly held onto the fist Taiga was about to strike with.

"Come on! Split up! Split up now!"

Shoving Taiga and Ami's chest, Minori separated the two until they were some distance away from each other, and then started sermonizing them,

"Taiga, Kawashima-san, this is just too much! I won't forcefully ask you to be friends with each other, but don't you think your relationship with each other is a bit too terrible? Not even I can stand and watch this any longer!"

"But, but, listen to me, Minori-chan! It's because Aisaka-san treated me like..."

"It's all that stupid chihuahua's fault! Why'd you have to transfer to our school!? Why must you live in this world!?"

"ENOUGH! Shut up, both of you! Let go, Taiga! Stop grabbing her collar! You can't start a fight just like that! I know you're trying to win sympathy with your fists, in that case, let's settle this in a sports duel!"

"EHHHH!?" Taiga was the only one that exclaimed. Including Ryūji, everyone remained silent, and tilted their heads in confusion. They couldn't figure out what logic Minori had used to come to such a conclusion. Unexpectedly, Ami laughed cheerfully,

"Oh my, sounds interesting~"

She masterfully flashed her shimmering smile to the whole class,

"Listen to me! I want to let everyone understand that I genuinely want to be friends with Aisaka-san! I was envious of how she got along so well with Takasu-kun, and I ended up saying a lot of things that would cause a lot of misunderstandings with him. But I really want to be friends with her! ... It's all my fault, or things wouldn't have turned out this way... But, but... I'm serious!"

The mask that was nearly ripped off in the ruckus a while ago had now been skillfully repaired with the application of some sweet words.

"She's right. How could Ami-chan possibly be interested in Takasu?" Hearing these whispers, Ami smiled once again. Ryūji knew that was a face that read, "Just as planned."

Taiga was the only one who couldn't accept this,

"Why!? Why!? What the hell is this? Don't be ridiculous! There's a limit to absurdity, you know? Why must I have a sports duel with this chihuahua? Don't make me laugh! I'll be the laughingstock of my family if I do that! Why must I do such a thing!? Besides, Minorin, why are you helping her instead of me!?"

"YOU IDIOT!"

"OW!"

Minorin mercilessly gave Taiga a karate chop on her head,

"Taiga, I'm doing this for your own good! You could still get away with your behaviour as a student, but that won't work once you come out to work in society! Are you gonna just give every colleague and co-worker you dislike a fist? Be a good girl, cause I'll be going to Kawashima-san's mansion as well, and try and improve my friendship with her during the summer! Right, Ami-chan? Kissy~"

"Wah! You really are bold, Minori-chan!"

Hugging Ami tightly, Minori held her white face and kept on kissing it. Some guys can be heard whispering, "Being a girl's great..." Taiga begrudgingly puffed her chest and said,

"Alright! Fine then! Since Minorin says so, I'll accept your challenge! But if I win, we'll be carrying out the premiere of the monomane medley!"

"Then if I win, Takasu-kun will be spending the summer with me in my family mansion~"

And you will end up all alone this summer! No one in the excited crowd had heard the malicious whisper Ami added at the end.


"Now then, here we go! Badabadabadabadabadabadabadabadabadabada!"

It was amazing to hear a human tongue mimicking the beating of the drums so skillfully. After turning up the atmosphere with her drum beats, Minori closed her eyes, and stuck her hand inside a convenience store plastic bag, stirring her hands around and around. In the bag were two pieces of folded paper of equal size. One of them contained Taiga's preferred duel method, the other Ami's. Both had handwritten the duel they wanted to have.

"TADA!"

The drumbeats ended as Minori drew one paper from within.

Taiga, Ami, Ryūji and everyone else all stared intently at the piece of paper that Minori was unfolding. Everyone had their ears ready to listen to the contents being read out. Under everyone's gazes, she cleared her throat and exclaimed,

"AND THE WINNER ISSSSS...!!!"

A lot of question marks appeared above everyone's heads. Was she trying to mimic a foreign accent? What was that all about?

"Oh! You were trying to mimic the late David Jones, right? You know? The well-known foreigner that represents Pan-Am in presenting the Pan-American Sumo Trophy to the winners! You made a good resemblance just now."

Kitamura's explanation just made everyone think How come you know such stuff?, and only served to make the confusion worse.

"Just kidding! Anyway, fun time's over. Here it is! The duel will be decided by..."

Minori paused for a while, she first smiled towards Ami, and then frowned towards Taiga,

"'50 m freestyle swimming' as proposed by Kawashima Ami-san!"

"OOOHHHH!!!" There was applause everywhere. "Thank you! I'm so lucky!" Ami smiled and bowed gracefully to everyone's accolades, while Taiga scowled. Ryūji's terrifying eyes flashed. This dueling method is too unfair for a landlubber like Taiga. Whispers were already beginning to spread, "The winner's already decided."

The Day of Destiny was set at the final swimming lesson. Might as well give this a mention, it was rumored that the dueling method that Taiga proposed but wasn't chosen was supposedly "freestyle combat".

Light Novel
Main Series' Volumes

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