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From Shadows

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Blake exhaled softly,nestled between the roots of a large tree.

 

Peaceful,solitary moments like this were harder and harder to come by these days.

 

An hour or so where she could just be quiet and not have to think about anything else.

 

Balancing an open hardcover book on her thigh,she settled down,preparing to find out whether Tomoko and Hina would successfully elope. She’d spent far too long avoiding being spoiled by Ruby and Yang,who’d flipped through the book looking for lewd scenes.

 

“Hawawawaaaaaah!”

 

An ear piercing scream shattered the tranquility of the moment as a black figure fell down from above her,faceplanting into the ground. Despite Blake’s certainty that there were no objects sitting in the boughs of the large tree,a garbage can somehow fell down as well,neatly covering the intruder.

 

Blake quirked an eyebrow as the garbage can shook,before flipping over to reveal Yosuke.

 

“Oh.” Blake sighed. “Hello there. What are you up to?”

 

Yosuke jumped to his feet,stretching out his back. “Aaaah…I was just…climbing that tree,taking in the sights. You know,old folks always tell us to get out and exercise more,but then when I climb something all of a sudden it’s ‘reckless endangerment’ and ‘a public hazard’.” His eyes met Blake’s stoic gaze. “Um,what are you up to?”

 

Calmly,languidly,Blake raised her hands,showing him the cover of Ninjas of Love Gaiden: Major Arcana VI: The Lovers. “This is…a book.” She paused. “Which I will continue to read…once you leave.”

 

Somehow,Blake felt a wave of pique wash over her as she said that. “Next you’re gonna say ‘I only read manga’ or something like that,right?”

 

“What? Nah…” Yosuke waved dismissively. “I-in fact,I do read a bit of…that.” He pointed with both thumbs,tentatively gesturing at Blake’s book. “I mean,I know you won’t tell anybody,so…”

 

Wisely choosing not to address the last bit of Yosuke’s statement,Blake allowed a snide smile to creep onto her face. “You know,some people would say that people who indulge in…romance are mostly the ones with no real experience.”

 

“Huh? Aw no,I got plenty of experience.” Yosuke turned aside,not letting Blake look at him head-on. “Well,more like I had one.” His shoulders slumped down. “More like…a half.” He shook his head. “It was…a senior at my school. I liked her,and I thought…she was into me too,you know? Turns out she was only nice to me because my family owned the store she worked at…”

 

Blake’s expression softened. She straightened one leg,giving him a reassuring pat on the ankle. “I…see. So what happened? Did you…ever get to work things out with her?”

 

“...No.” Yosuke’s voice dropped low,reaching an uncharacteristic tone. “…She…she died. She was…killed. And I…I didn’t even find out how she really felt about me until then.”

 

“...I’m sorry.”

 

“...” Yosuke turned to face Blake again. “Me and my friends,we found the guy who did it,and sent him to prison...not sure how I feel about that.” His hand moved to his waist,idly brushing past his knife. "Even though I actually meant nothing to her...I kind of felt proud,you know? Like I was...avenging her."

 

“I…know how that feels,though. I-I mean,not about the murder thing.” For the moment,she chose to avoid describing her past exploits to Yosuke. “I mean,about the other part. I used to live with…a person who didn’t really care about me. I looked up to them,I thought we had a shared purpose. I thought we could…build a future for us and our people together. But…they really just saw me as a thing. Something they could possess,use as they see fit…” Blake shrugged. “I guess…I guess things are different now. The world’s my oyster,and I guess at some point,I wouldn’t say no to settling down with someone.”

 

Yosuke smiled,looking up along the tree trunk. “How about that girl I see all the time? You know,white hair,boots…”

 

Blake chuckled. “Weiss? Gods no.”

 

“Oh my god,her name is Weiss? That’s…so on the nose,isn’t it?”

 

“Yeah.” Blake entwined her fingers. “That’s the kinda of family she comes from. Too rich for my blood,I’d say. But seriously…we kinda had a rough start. She said some…inconsiderate things,I had to forgive her,hurt feelings all around. But I’d say we’re pretty…tight now. How about you?”

 

Yosuke pursed his lips. “What about me?”

 

“How about you? People talk a lot about how you’re supposed to move on,find something better or whatever…”

 

“Oh,that?” Yosuke leaned back,scratching his head. “D-don’t laugh,but…”

 

“Why would I?”

 

“...but you know,I think I kind of realised I don’t have to only…go out with women,you know?”

 

“Ah.” Blake nodded sagely. “So maybe you could get something going with your…captain?” She pulled her finger over her forehead,mimicking the fringe of a certain grey-haired leader.

 

“W-what? I mean,i-if he asked I wouldn’t say no,but-”

 

“Don’t worry about it.” Blake laughed. “Hey,you wanna sit down here?” She scooted to the side a bit,keeping her book open.

 

“You know what? I think I will…” Pulling his pants up,Yosuke leaned up against the tree alongside Blake.

 

So,how far along are you in the series?