Episode 61

Brother's Brother
3 weeks ago
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Koto Kazuya told his subordinates to enter for a moment.

“Kaz~ Who’s here?”

“Oh, some friends stopped by! We’ll be quick!”

After offering a vague explanation to his mother, who remained oblivious, he entered his room and locked the door.

Then, seated on the bed rather than a chair, he inquired,

“What happened? Mito betrayed us?”

His subordinates, faces swollen and bandaged, spoke through tears,

“Didn’t you unexpectedly step down as leader two weeks ago and hand over the position to Mito, the vice leader?”

“Yes, I did.”

“It turns out Mito was in league with the Devil Riders. We, who attended the assembly unaware, were quickly encircled and beaten. It was definitely a trap set by Maou, the leader of the Devil Riders!”

“That Maou guy…”

Koto clenched his teeth as he remembered Maou, who was once his rival.

“Brother! Please help us! Without you, there’s no one to defend our Hyakki Yako!”

“But… I’ve already abandoned that life.”

“If things go on like this, the white special uniform passed down from the first generation will fall into Maou’s hands! Will you just stand by and let that happen?!”

“……”

Koto felt torn.

He had put that life behind him.

Would he, just two weeks after stepping down, come back and get involved again?

Then, not only he but also the entire Hyakki Yako would become a laughingstock.

And then there was the promise to his brother.

If he remained committed and followed him for three days, his brother would take him on as a disciple.

But he couldn’t simply walk away, as the Hyakki Yako was filled with his dreams and memories.

His juniors were still there, and the thought of the Hyakki Yako name ending like this was unbearable.

Seeing the worried looks on his juniors’ faces, he suddenly burst into laughter.

‘When have I ever fretted over such matters?’

Koto promptly opened his closet and retrieved his special black uniform.

It was a uniform he had planned to seal away forever.

But he realized he had to take it out just one more time, for the last time.

As he donned the uniform, he asked his former subordinates,

“Let’s go. Where is that Maou guy?”


Although it was past the 2 p.m. meeting time we had set that morning, Koto didn’t appear.

“…What’s going on?”

He didn’t strike me as someone who would falter.

Especially since today marked the last day.

Had he intended to give up, he would have done so well before now.

Pondering various possibilities, it became evident that something must have happened to Koto.

Otherwise, he wouldn’t have missed our appointment.

I regretted not having obtained his phone number, having expected our interaction to be brief.

With his number, I could’ve inquired about his absence.

But dwelling on regrets was futile.

I decided to busy myself with the store’s work to clear my mind.

After all, there was nothing else within my power.

All I could do was wait for Koto to reach out to me.

That was my thought as I wiped the tables with a dry towel.

Rattle!

“Excuse me!”

“Welcome.”

Expecting a customer, I turned and was taken aback to see a delinquent with dyed yellow hair at the entrance.

He exuded an air that hinted he was tied to Koto.

And, as though confirming my suspicion, the yellow-haired delinquent awkwardly averted his gaze and said,

“Uh… are you Koto’s… brother?”

…What was this “brother of a brother” business?

Normally, I would have outright denied such a confusing label, but my curiosity over Koto’s absence led me to nod ambiguously.

“Right. Did Koto send you?”

“Yes. Koto– I mean, Kaz asked me to deliver a message. He won’t be able to make it to the store today.”

“……”

It was clear something really did happen.

There must have been a significant reason for someone so earnest about becoming my disciple to suddenly not show up.

“Well… I’ve delivered the message, so I’ll be going now.”

The blonde delinquent said, bowed slightly, and hastily tried to leave the store.

“Wait a moment.”

“Yes?”

Hearing my voice, the delinquent froze like a statue and turned around with a bewildered expression.

As I untied my apron, I asked,

“Can you tell me more about why Koto didn’t come?”

The delinquent bit his lip, hesitated, and then slowly nodded.

“Alright.”


“So you’re saying that Mito, the vice leader of Hyakki Yako, was actually colluding with Maou of the Devil Riders, and as soon as Koto retired from his position as the leader, Mito tried to merge the team with the Devil Riders?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

The blonde delinquent sitting next to me spilled everything, almost like someone being interrogated.

After organizing the story in my head, I casually asked,

“What do you think is the purpose of this Maou guy?”

“Probably to make the Devil Riders the top team in Tokyo, right? Until now, they couldn’t challenge Setagaya because of Koto and our Hyakki Yako, but if they merge now, they will become the strongest force in Tokyo instantly.”

“So Koto got involved in the bikers’ power struggle even after retiring?”

“We feel sorry about that too. But without Koto, known for his bravery, there’s no one else in Tokyo who can stop the Devil Riders and Maou. Especially since Maou considers Koto his rival.”

“I understand the situation now.”

Given these circumstances, Koto couldn’t have helped it.

He was simple-minded, a bit foolish, and hot-blooded, so he couldn’t refuse when his old subordinates asked for help.

Having decided to give him a day’s leeway if he came after everything was settled, I spoke to the blonde delinquent, who kept anxiously glancing at his watch.

“Why are you in such a hurry? Do you have an appointment or something?”

“No, it’s just… the time set by Maou is approaching. He said if Koto doesn’t show up by then, he won’t leave our members alone. I have to go, even if it means borrowing a cat’s paw.”1

“Then go quickly. I’ve been holding you up.”

“Yes! Thank you! My brother’s brother!”

The blonde delinquent bowed deeply to me until the very end and then scurried off.

Seeing that, I, who had been considering exercising alone, suddenly remembered something I had forgotten.

“Ah, his muscles are sore.”

Koto couldn’t use anything but his legs right now, right?


Vroom!

Koto Kazuya, riding his beloved bike with thirty elite members of Hyakki Yako, headed to a construction site in Setagaya.

The construction had been on hold for two years due to the contractor’s wage non-payment issues, making it an ideal hideout for delinquents seeking a moderately dark and wind-shielded spot.

As dozens of motorcycles entered the half-built building, lights suddenly illuminated from all sides as if someone had been waiting for them.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

“You’ve finally arrived, Koto Kazuya.”

The Devil Riders.

They were a new biker gang that had formed about two years ago with the ambition to dominate Tokyo, led by the formidable Sakagami Maou.

Among the bikers with daring mohawk hairstyles, a man wearing a helmet adorned with a red bull’s image, mounted on a bike, greeted Koto.

Koto, clad in black special forces clothes and clutching a wooden sword in his right hand, pointed it toward Maou, declaring,

“I’ve heard my men have become indebted to you, Maou.”

Then, a muffled laugh echoed from behind his helmet.

“Keke. My men, or shouldn’t it be, ‘former’ men.”

Maou, who personally corrected Koto’s words, placed his hand on the shoulder of Mito, the fourth leader of Hyakki Yako who had come near him, and spoke provocatively,

“Thanks to you willingly stepping down as the leader, Hyakki Yako was ripe for the taking, Koto.”

Hearing this, Koto clenched his teeth and retorted,

“Nonsense! Hyakki Yako belongs to no one.”

“Really? Your men don’t seem to think so.”

Snap!

Maou snapped his fingers, and people with fearful expressions, clutching clubs or iron pipes, emerged from the dark corners of the building.

“We’re sorry… Brother Koto…”

They had once been members of Hyakki Yako.

However, having been dragged here and beaten numerous times, their faces were now bruised and battered.

“We had no choice if we wanted to live…”

Seeing this, Koto’s eyes blazed with rage.

“MAOU, YOU BASTAAAARRRD!”

He charged forward, twisting his bike’s accelerator.

But the one blocking his path was not Maou, but Mito, his former subordinate and the fourth leader of Hyakki Yako.

“Move it, Meat! Before I turn you into a hunk of flesh!”

“Don’t call me by that niiiiicknaaame!”

Their wooden swords met in a clash mid-air.

The members of Hyakki Yako began to fight among themselves.

Watching their broken friendship, Sakagami Maou let out a maniacal laugh.

“Kahahaha! Fight more! Fight until one side dies!”

It was in that moment…

“Here you were.”

Someone stepped into the dark building.

  1. ED/N: A Japanese idiom which conveys the idea of being so desperate to accomplish something that you’re willing to use any available help, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. ↩️

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