It was another day in early February; the moment he took a step away from his warm home, he found that his breath had manifested in puffs of white smoke.
“Looks like it’s going to be cold day again today, huh…” Basara said, his hands tucked within the pockets of his coat. His posture was slightly slumped that day, and the cold did not spare his own masculine features.
“It really is cold…I wish the weather would just be warm already, considering spring is also fast approaching.” Naruse Mio was beside him, letting out breaths that also came out in white puffs upon her gloved hands. The girl’s hair was as red as blazing flames; she shivered from the cold as she took in yet another icy breath.
“Yeah.” Yuki, who was beside Mio, said in affirmation. She held her usual composed, tranquil gaze on her face, and around her neck was a scarf that complemented her fair features and azure hair well.
Basara, Mio and Yuki were wearing thick coats over their Hijirigasaka Academy uniforms given the cold season; the three held a gloomy look as they gazed at the road they would take toward school, anticipating the cold journey they were to take.
“…Come on, Basara-san, can’t you just admit it’s a good idea?”
The abrupt, bitterly given comment came from a certain silver-haired young girl who suddenly emerged from the door and rushed toward the entrance, her lips curved in a dissatisfied frown—Naruse Maria.
“You got a chance to go to the hot springs, I want to go to the hot springs too!” Maria’s hand curled itself into a fist as she said so, “And then we’d have peeking play, the standard hot spring play, or even the stuff of legend the yakyuken*! I wanna help myself to the hot springs just like any other succubus would! Even though I’m asking just for such a little wish of mine to come true…eek, it’s cold!” The cold passing breeze sent shivers across Maria as she shuffled her body inward in response.
“That wouldn’t be the point of going to the hot springs in that case, now, wouldn’t it?” Mio mumbled, appearing irritated over Maria’s usual attitude as always.
Basara could only wordlessly scratch his cheek; he had indeed gone for a trip to the hot springs last month as Maria had mentioned earlier, having done so with the school nurse, Hasegawa Chisato. They had initially planned the trip to further deepen their bonds for the days that were to come…or so they thought, when in reality a certain succubus really only wanted to use the hot spring facilities for her own peculiar affairs.
“I think we can just leave Maria behind, as usual.”
“Mio-sama! Aren’t you just being too mean to me?!”
“More importantly, if we don’t get a move on now, we’ll be late for school.”
“Now that you mention it, we really should get going.” Mio raised her hand gestured for Basara that it was time for them to leave.
“Please have a safe journey.” It wasn’t Maria who said those words, but Zest; dressed in her everyday maid outfit, she bowed her head respectfully as she came toward the front gate to see them off.
“Have a good day!” And beside Zest was the lively Nonaka Kurumi, her ponytail bouncing behind her as she waved the trio farewell.
“Yeah. Well then, we’ll get going now.” The trio waved back in response as they headed out from the Toujou household.
A typical morning scenery flourished before them as they headed toward the bus stop; the crowd seemed to be moving in the opposite direction as students on bicycles passed by them, their noises blending in with the yawns of working adults donned in their suits.
“Hold on a minute, Yuki!” Mio suddenly exclaimed, raising her voice. She definitely wasn’t pleased with the fact that Yuki’s arm was intertwining with Basara’s.
“We’re about to go to school. Do you intend to walk in with him like that?”
“You’re doing it too, Mio.”
Upon realizing that she was tugging on Basara’s arm, she quickly withdrew her grip from him. Amidst her embarrassment, her gaze darted to her own arm momentarily before returning to Basara’s.
“I’ll take his left arm, and you’ll have his right, Mio. I suppose this is alright for you?”
“Yeah, I’m fine with that.” Mio said, circling her arm around Basara’s. “—Wait, no!” She then abruptly stopped in place.
Basara reflexively creased his eyebrows as he looked at Mio and Yuki; he wasn’t concerned about Mio’s arm not being around his nor Yuki actually doing so, instead pondering over the various obstacles he would face just through going to school with Mio and the others like this; he wondered how much happiness and agony they would have to go through and whether it was going to be worth it.
After returning from the Demon Realm, the group had since carried on with their daily lives peacefully; the fight between the Moderate Faction and the Current Demon Lord Faction—the fight over Mio—had come to an end. Nevertheless, Basara was still well aware of the danger he and his group were still in even after that incident. He knew that sitting by and worrying about their situation would accomplish nothing, and he had acquired a new power during this trip with Hasegawa—something that he could use as a trump card when the situation demanded it.
Everything’s not over yet.
And at the same time, Basara knew that he couldn’t forget and let go of the daily life he currently shared with the others—as well as the battles he would need to face to continue on with it. Harsh, unyielding battles where he would need to put his life on the line, battles that he needed to win no matter the cost—battles in the near future where he would need to fight to protect their ability to live like this.
“Is something wrong, Basara?” Mio’s voice returned Basara to his senses. Before he’d even realized it, Mio had already linked her arm around Basara’s; even through the embarrassment of her upturned eyes, it was evident that Basara’s state of dwelling over his thoughts had worried her. Yuki, who was clinging on Basara’s other arm opposite her, was also staring at him.
“No—it’s nothing.” Basara shook his head in response. As Mio and Yuki returned their gentle gazes to him, the three set out for school.
They were to fight for the sake of their daily lives in the future; that said, they would live and enjoy their daily lives to the fullest until that day came.
“Let’s go, then, shall we?” said Basara, such thoughts popping into his head yet again as he did so.
Such begins the story of another ordinary day in the Toujou household.
*Yakyuken: A Japanese rock-paper-scissors esque-game whereby the loser has to strip a part of their clothing.