Excuse the incoherent development, but it would seem I have been abducted and confined.
It should be just past the first ten days of summer break, the twenty-ninth of July — but I get the feeling that I’ve been unconscious for quite a long time, so maybe it was the thirtieth. Or perhaps the thirty-first had already passed and we’ve entered August. I would be able to confirm the date and time if I look at the watch wrapped around my right wrist, but as my arms were tied around a steel pole behind me, this was unachievable. I couldn’t take the cellphone out of my pocket, either. Well, it’s not like I couldn’t estimate the time — it was totally dark outside the window, so I can at least venture the guess that it’s definitely nighttime. Though I call it a window, there wasn’t any glass fitted in, so I’m exposed to the wind. There was too much of a sense of openness to this place, even if it is the height of summer. My feet aren’t restrained, so I could probably stand up if I tried, but it seemed rather meaningless, so I settled on the floor and instead stretched out my legs.
This was — where Oshino and Shinobu lived, wasn’t it?
I thought of this, as carefree as I feel right now.
That’s right. The place I’m confined to right now is the abandoned tutoring school which I’m so familiar with. A building on the brink of collapse, with four floors and junk and rubble scattered about nicely. Anyone unfamiliar with the place would think all the classrooms and floors look the same, unlike someone that has been here as much as I have, who would know that the classroom I’m confined to is leftmost from the stairs out of the three classrooms on the fourth floor.
Not that knowing this helps in any way.
Of course, at this point, Oshino was no longer in this city, much less this building, and even Shinobu had changed her residence from this place to my shadow. Perhaps she’s feeling nostalgic at this very moment, but I wonder if perhaps she’s not feeling anything at all. I don’t know how a vampire who has been living for five hundred years thinks.
Now, what should I do?
I thought this in an easygoing way unfitting the situation while the back of my head throbbed (it seems I was hit there when I was abducted). Surprisingly, at times like these, people don’t become impatient. First of all, it would achieve nothing. Instead, an effort should be made to grasp the situation.
I thought for sure that I was bound by some sort of rope, but apparently, a pair of steel handcuffs was fixing my arms in place. If it were just a toy I could tear it apart with sheer strength — that was what I thought, but it wouldn’t budge at all. Trying to tear this apart was more likely to tear my own wrists apart. There’s no real or fake when it comes to handcuffs, but if I had to, I’d say these are genuine.
“Still — I could probably break out easily if I had a vampire’s strength.”
Forget the cuffs, I can destroy the pole itself. No, even if I do tear my wrists, with my natural recovery skill, my wrists would be repaired in the blink of an eye, so the result is the same.
“Vampire — huh.”
I muttered, looking over this ruined classroom again — even if I can’t use my hands, I had to confirm whether there is anything I can reach with my feet.
At the same time, I confirmed my own shadow, giving its own form and overlapping on any darkness.
It’s a story from my spring break.
I was attacked by a vampire.
I was sucked dry — by a beautiful golden-haired vampire.
All of my blood.
With a vengeance.
Sucked dry — without leaving a single drop.
And I became a vampire.
This tutoring school was also my stronghold to avoid public gaze during the spring break when I was not human, but vampire.
Well, perhaps it’s natural for humans who become vampires to be saved from vampire hunters or Christian secret forces, or even vampire-hunting vampires — vampires who kill their own kind — though in my case, I was saved by a passing-by old man — by Oshino Meme.
Although Oshino had, to the end, disliked how I “was saved by” him, how those words sounded like something you force upon another person.
Thus I became human again, and the beautiful blonde vampire became a shadow of her former self, having had not only her power but even her name taken away (in place of her stolen name she was bestowed the name of Oshino Shinobu) and at the last was sealed within my shadow.
That would be what you call reaping what you sow.
For Shinobu, and for me as well.
That was all there was to it.
But I had not wanted to go that far — that is why I am the way I am right now, and why Shinobu is the way she is right now. I have no way of knowing how Shinobu thinks about that, but even if I had been wrong, I don’t think there had been any other way but this.
Personally, this abandoned tutoring school is filled with memories. Or perhaps the truth is that, rather than memories, it is filled with mistakes, but be that as it may.
The problem is that even if I had once held powers as a vampire, that is now a story from the past, and the only vampiric attributes I retain are vestiges. Tearing a pair of metal handcuffs apart would be a dream within a dream. If I were Lupin III, I would be able to dislocate my wrists and slip these handcuffs off like gloves, but of course, as I am simply a high school third-year and not Lupin III, I cannot perform do a trick so skilful.
Speaking of which.
Just a while ago, Tsukihi was kidnapped — well, “kidnap” is an exaggeration, but at the very least it was no laughing matter. There was a hostile organization (?) which seemed unmatchable by Karen in terms of combat strength, so the plan that Tsukihi worked out was for her to be abducted and taken hostage. Don’t bring this Weekly Shounen Magazine manga-like stuff into your real lives! — I made up a comeback before I even started worrying, though Tsukihi isn’t one to underestimate, either, as she had feigned the kidnapping on purpose to soften up the hostile organization (ha!) from the inside and break it down.
The terrible Fire Sisters.
By the way,
“Please keep quiet about this to Papa and Mama!”
both sisters had gathered and got on their knees to ask this of me.
Even if you hadn’t asked me to, I wouldn’t have reported something so idiotic to my parents, but still, it’s good that Karen went along and came to kneel together, though I guess that’s bad in a way, too.
Hell, girls your age shouldn’t get down on your knees just like that.
That’s why you’re both still kids.
“Though if it were me, just getting on my knees wouldn’t have been enough… those two can play innocent and cry. Well, now what?”
As a matter of fact, I think I can guess it well enough — I should roughly imagine what’s going on and what this situation will lead to, I suppose.
I should realize it whether I like it or not, I suppose.
It is inevitable, I suppose.
Time to cry uncle, I suppose.
It was then.
I heard footsteps ascending the stairs of the building, as though matching the timing of my awakening. Light leaked in from the other side of the door — as the electrical system in this building was completely dead, it was probably a flashlight. And now, that direct line of light shone towards the classroom where I was held captive.
The door opened.
Was the form of a girl I knew very well.
“Oh? You’re awake, Araragi-kun.”
So she said.
Senjougahara Hitagi — said this expressionlessly, in her usual cool tone of voice and without a smile, shining a flashlight at me.
“Thank goodness — I was beginning to worry if you were going to die.”
The words would not come out.
There were a ton of things I wanted to say, but not a single one of them formed into spoken words. Seemingly without any intent to respond to my bitter smile, Senjougahara closed the door, and briskly walked towards me.
There was no hesitation in her stride.
It was the attitude of one who did not hold a single doubt regarding one’s actions.
“Are you all right? Does the back of your head hurt?”
Senjougahara asked, setting aside the flashlight — well, I’m very happy for her thoughtfulness, at least.
“Take these handcuffs off.”
“I don’t want to.”
An instant reply.
Time needed for consideration, absolutely zero.
I held back one beat to replenish my oxygen supply before shouting.
And then I shouted.
“So you really were the one who did this!”
“I see, quite a sharp observation. Though it’s a matter of whether you have any evidence.”
Senjougahara delivered a line frequently seen in the resolution chapters of mystery novels.
You are decisively the culprit the instant that line is delivered.
“I had a hunch it was you when I figured out this tutoring school was where I was locked up! And you’re the only one out of the people I know who would have a pair of handcuffs this tough!”
“As expected of Araragi-kun, that’s something quite interesting you are saying. Let me jot this down, please. It will be a good reference for when I write my next work.”
“I don’t give a damn about a novel where the author is the culprit! Just get these handcuffs off!”
“I don’t want to.”
Senjougahara repeated the same line.
The power of her usual expressionless face increased thanks to the light shining up from the flashlight.
With the same expression, she repeated her line: “I don’t want to.”
“And I can’t. I already threw away the key.”
“Are you serious?!”
“And I filled the keyhole with putty to stop anyone from picking it.”
“Why did you do that?!”
“And I threw away the antidote, too.”
“You poisoned me, too?!”
That was alarming.
And that was when Senjougahara finally gave a small laugh.
“I lied about the antidote.”
And said this.
I felt relief at those words, but on the other hand, that would mean that the parts about throwing away the key and filling the keyhole were true, and I dropped my shoulders, dejected. How can I get these handcuffs off, then…?
“Well, I can’t help it, so I guess I’ll settle with just the antidote being a lie for now…”
“Yes. It’s all right, I didn’t throw it away.”
“So you did poison me!”
I leaned forward to deliver my comeback, but the handcuffs were caught by the steel pole, and it didn’t work very well. It’s a small thing, but it’s exceedingly stressful for a person like me.
“The poison was a lie, too.”
“But if Araragi-kun gets unreasonable, it might become true.”
That’s seriously scary.
“I’ll float like a butterfly, and sting like a butterfly.”
“Butterflies sting now?!”
“I got it wrong. Well done. How wonderful of you to point out my mistake. This must be the proudest moment of your life.”
“What is with that original way of admitting your own mistake?!”
“It should be ‘like a bee.'”
“Bees have — pretty strong poison…”
I gulped, and looked again at the girl before me — at Senjougahara Hitagi.
She is a classmate.
Take a look at her refined features and you would think that she is a smart person, and in truth, she is. Her grades are constantly at the top of her year, and she became well-known as an unapproachable ‘cool beauty’. And — this is insider information known only to a certain group of people — anyone who did in fact approach her had, without exception, suffered a horrible experience.
It’s not something so abstract as ‘even the most beautiful rose has its thorns’ — Senjougahara is just a beautiful thorn.
In terms of the discrepancy between outer appearance and inner character, she would be a good match for my sister Araragi Tsukihi, but Senjougahara is by no means hysteric, but is rather endowed with a cool aggressiveness. Tsukihi runs like a peaky car, but Senjougahara always prepares for war at a low temperature. In essence, she is like a crime-prevention device with a built-in program which indiscriminately attacks all humans who close within a certain distance.
In my case, the inside of my mouth was stapled with a stapler. It wasn’t just that it could have become a major incident with the slightest misstep, but rather it was such a misstep that it was a wonder everything ended up all right.
Of course, there was a full-fledged reason for her personality being that way and, back around May, said reason was settled with what can be called a stable compromise — but unfortunately, the journey to lift the program which had seeped into her had been quite difficult, and here we still are.
“Still, you’ve gotten pretty docile lately — why are you suddenly abducting your boyfriend? I’ve never heard of domestic violence like this before.”
Senjougahara and I are going out, by the way.
As romantic partners.
I guess you could say something nice about this, like it was a string of fate tied by a stapler — but no, it wasn’t that nice. And staplers usually staple things, not tie them up.
It was a reply which masterfully ignored what I said.
“Don’t worry. I will protect you, Araragi-kun.”
This is fear…
“You won’t die. Because I will protect you.”
“No, look, even if you mix in some Eva reference you just remembered — I mean, Gahara-san.”
It’s a nickname for Senjougahara I thought up recently.
It hasn’t really taken hold yet.
Feels like I’m the only one working hard to popularize it.
“I’m hungry… and I’m thirsty. For now, can we just have something to eat?”
I had no choice but to turn to wheedling — at the present, Senjougahara held a life or death authority over me. If I screw up and provoke her, it’s not a joke that she will screw me over, intensely.  I don’t know how she is now on a normal day, but Senjougahara would definitely be armed in a situation like this. I can’t tell exactly what kind of stationery she is carrying…
Senjougahara laughed. Disturbingly.
Now this is what you call a sneer.
“Hungry and thirsty… you sound like an animal. All you ever do is eat and sleep… how repulsive. Can’t you live more productively? Oh, I’m sorry. It’s too much of a request to ask Araragi-kun to ‘get a life’.”
Have I said something that deserves being told like that?
I hadn’t, right?
“Though I suppose no one can match Araragi-kun in dying productively. There’s a saying that ‘a tiger dies and leaves its skin’, so in that way, Araragi-kun is like a tiger.”
“That’s not a compliment, either.”
In the end, I’m just an animal, right?
Did you think I wouldn’t understand?
Judging from the state of her sharp tongue, it would seem Senjougahara was not actually angry or displeased… though the only people in the world who could sense the true thoughts of this constant spreader of poison were probably me and, at most, Kanbaru and Senjougahara’s own father. From a normal point of view, she was just always in a bad mood.
“But, all right, I’ll make an exception and show some mercy and forgiveness. I figured that Araragi-kun, foolish insect that he is, might say something along those lines, and bought some things ahead of time.”
Senjougahara said to me, foolish insect that I am, as she proudly displayed the convenience store bag she held in the hand opposite of the flashlight.
I can see just a bit through to what was inside the half-transparent bag.
Like, water bottles and rice balls.
I see. Prison food.
She was surprisingly on the ball about this — though when I actually think about it, I don’t really like where that ball is rolling.
“Huh, that so — well, for now, give me some water. Water first.”
The request for food originated from my desire to be freed, but it was true that I was hungry and thirsty. Due to the aftereffects of my vampire phenomenon, I have a fair bit of endurance regarding food, but even so, I am reaching my limit. I don’t know how long I’ve been unconscious for, but water is important to a human being.
Senjougahara took the water bottle out of the bag — it was mineral water — and opened the cap. Seeing as I was bound, I had naturally thought that Senjougahara would let me drink from it, but she put the tip of the bottle close, then abruptly drew it back before it touched my lips.
What are you up to now…?
Just how many ways can you find to be malicious?
“Do you want to drink it?”
“Hmm. I’m going to, though.”
She started gulping it down.
It’s strange. It’s like there is something about her demeanor I don’t understand. She drink straight from the bottle without looking tasteless at all. She looks rather tasteful.
“Phew. Mmm, delicious.”
“Why do you wear such a greedy face? Did anyone say I would give the bottle to you?”
You know, within this context, that would mean you bought a bottle on purpose just to see a situation wherein you can drink water in front of me as I thirst. Is that how it is?
Well, I wouldn’t put it pass her.
“Heh heh. Or did you think that I would let you drink mouth-to-mouth? Oh, Araragi-kun, you’re so dirty.”
“The only one who would think of something like that, in a situation like this, is Kanbaru.”
“I wonder? But, a while back, when we were making out…”
“Don’t talk about making out in a situation like this!”
I shouted angrily.
Well, it’s not like anyone is listening in, but it’s not something I want to talk about so frankly.
Boys are delicate creatures.
“Well, all right. If you want to drink it no matter what, then I’ll let you.”
“……I want to drink it no matter what.”
“Ha! Does the word ‘pride’ mean nothing to this man? Such shameless words just for the sake of water… wouldn’t it be better for you to just die? If I ever were about to speak those words, I would bite my own tongue and die.”
She’s really having fun, isn’t she…
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Senjougahara so lively… I guess she really had been forcing herself to stay docile recently.
“Very well. It’s too pitiful to see you willing to go so far, so I will bless you with water out of sympathy. You best thank me, you drinking bird.”
“‘Drinking bird’ isn’t exactly an insult…”
Laughing even more wickedly, Senjougahara tilted the bottle and started wetting her opposite hand. What is she doing…? Well, actually, I could perfectly predict what this bundle of malice was trying to do next.
Senjougahara put her water-soaked fingertips toward me,
and said this.
“What’s wrong? Aren’t you thirsty? Then stick your tongue out, and lick it up. Sloppily, like a giraffe.”
‘Giraffe’ isn’t an insult, either… but it is strange how, when she’s the one saying it, everything and anything sounds like an insult.
“What is it? Aren’t you thirsty, Araragi-kun? Or was that a lie? Liars need to be punished — ”
“I’ll lick it! I’ll lick it! Let me lick it!”
Being punished in a situation like this would be too awful.
Just as she said, I stuck out my neck, and then my tongue, at Senjougahara, like a giraffe (however that’s supposed to be like).
“My, what a disgrace. You can’t possibly be more wretched than this. People don’t normally go this far just to drink some water. Araragi-kun was probably a pervert like this from the beginning, who likes to lick the fingers of girls.”
The accusations continued on and on.
Senjougahara-san was absolutely vivid.
Well, putting that aside, my thirst was somehow quenched by licking Senjougahara’s fingers.
“That was such a wonderful scene I wanted to set it as my call display, Araragi-kun.”
“Really… well, great. I’d like those rice balls next.”
“All right. Rarely enough, I am feeling generous.”
Well, yeah, if you treat someone this badly.
You should feel generous, too.
“What would you like in your rice balls?”
“That’s perfunctory of you. Is Araragi-kun perhaps more of a bread person?”
“That’s not really it… and as far as I can see, you didn’t buy any bread.”
“That’s right. There are only rice balls.”
“I won’t ask for anything you don’t have.”
“If they don’t have bread, they should eat cake.”
“That’s too oppressive!”
You would have a revolution in no time.
There would be an uprising in Japan.
“I was raised well so I’m ignorant of the reality of the world.”
“I don’t think this is just a problem of being ignorant.”
“You see, I was raised as a princess, among the butterflies and the bees.”
“Shouldn’t that be the butterflies and the flowers?!” 
Senjougahara neatly rolled away the vinyl wrapping of the rice ball as we made our vague conversation, and suddenly shoved the unwrapped rice ball into my mouth.
“Mghh — ! Ggh — !”
I couldn’t even keep breathing.
Unable to endure it,
“What’re you doin’?!”
I complained to Senjougahara.
“No, well, it’s embarrassing to say, ‘aahh’.”
“You still shouldn’t shove it in like that! Cough — ! My throat’s stuffed — w-water, I need water! Gimme the whole bottle!”
“Whe… I can’t. It would be an indirect kiss.”
“You just made me lick your fingers, why the hell are you being embarrassed now?!”
In the end, Senjougahara gave me the water.
However, it was also in the form of a violent shove, so while it washed away the rice jamming my throat, I almost drowned instead. How the hell can you drown on land?
“Goodness, now you’ve gone and eaten a bit of everything. Araragi-kun, you really are a bad boy.”
Senjougahara said coolly and flatly.
Pretty soon, you’ll be passing the limits of just verbal abuse.
If Japan were to ever lose its freedom of speech, then the first person to be arrested would unmistakably be this woman.
“Now then, I will have my meal as well… I didn’t have enough time today and had to buy it from the convenience store, but don’t worry, Araragi-kun. I will make lunchboxes properly beginning from tomorrow.”
“What’s wrong? Are you dissatisfied with my home cooking? I have been improving my skills every day, you know.”
No, my dissatisfaction was about the point that this life of captivity appeared to be a long-term project. I had played along with her, thinking that it might be some sort of game, but I just cannot see Senjougahara’s objective at all.
Her objective — was already made clear.
— Don’t worry.
— I will protect Araragi-kun.
She’s talking seriously, isn’t she? Probably.
Thinking this — I cannot outright refuse her.
Though this is probably less kindness and more indulgence.
It might be because I was hit in the back of the head, but my memory seems vague — but I’m gradually remembering it.
The meaning of Senjougahara’s words.
And, the sequence of events that have led to this point.
“But, Senjougahara. You did something pretty skilled, knocking me out with one hit in the back of the head like that. According to my sister, it’s surprisingly difficult to knock a person out.”
“I never said it was just one hit.”
“Oh, is that right?”
“You were quite resistant to being knocked out, so twenty hits.”
“It’s a surprise I’m still alive!”
That is ridiculous.
Speaking of ridiculousness, there was one more thing I wanted to confirm.
In truth, it was not something I wanted to confirm.
However, it was something I had to.
“……By the way, Senjougahara. I’m really grateful that you’ll be making the meals… but, well, to bring things back to earth, how will I go to the washroom?”
I posed the question.
A distressing question.
However, Senjougahara, without a twitch in her brows — in a move that could truly be called an infallible preparation — coolly took out a set of diapers from the bag.
“…G-Gahara-san? You’re, not, are you? This is just, how do you say, a gag item, right? Your sense is really just as sharp as always.”
“Don’t worry. I can change Araragi-kun’s diapers.”
Frankly, and without emotions.
“Didn’t you know? I am in love with you, Araragi-kun. So much that even if you were covered in filth I would still embrace you without any hesitation. From respiration to excretion, I will manage every single smallest part of you, even your brain, for you.”
Love is heavy!
 : If I screw up and provoke her, it’s not a joke that she will screw me over, intensely.
The original line: 刺激したら冗談抜きで激しく刺される。
刺激 shigeki means “stimulus” “provocation” “impetus”
激しく hageshiku means “intensely” “violently”
刺される sasareru means “stabbed”
The term (translated here as “provoke”) was separated into the two characters that formed it, which were changed and consecutively used as an adverb and a verb.
 : “You see, I was raised as a princess, among the butterflies and the bees.” “Shouldn’t that be the butterflies and the flowers?!”
The original line: 「ほら、私って、蝶よ蜂よと育てられたから」「それは花が正解だろう！？」
蝶よ花よ chou yo hana yo (literally “butterflies” and “flowers”) is an expression describing a child, generally a daughter or princess, who was extremely pampered and cared for during childhood, the image being that of a flower being grown.