Chapter 18 – And The Dust Settles

  • by lemuel moo
After Gale sent both Zeel and Sunny home, he switched out his battle gear and white coat into casual civilian clothes and headed straight home. It was 1:30 am in the morning. Thus the streets were empty and silent.
Gale was annoyed that Lucy had forced him to become her bodyguard, but he felt grateful that Lucy had intervened before the situation at Babel Square could get any worse. Those perplexing feelings ravaged his heart as he was in deep thought.
Gale reached his house, and he tried fitting in his house key into the door handle, but before he could do that, Jacinta opened the door and greeted him.
“Welcome home! It’s so late at night! Where have you been — wait, why are you hurt?! Did you get yourself involved with bullies again?!”
“Ah… yeah, hello Jacinta!”
Gale had forgotten that Jacinta was living in his house and he initially thought he went into the wrong house. Seeing her face made him wonder for a bit before he caught himself staring for too long.
“Did you try to become a hero again with your weak skills?! I see some blood stains on your hands!”
Figuratively speaking, Jacinta was right. Gale was too weak to protect both Sunny and Zeel properly and had to rely on Lucy’s intervention. Thus he did not deny Jacinta’s allegations.
Jacinta saw that Gale stood at the door and stared blankly. “Come right in and don’t stand at the door! This is your house!”
Gale found himself a little slow and absent-minded. Perhaps there were too many things on his mind, and he quickly sobered up by slapping his face with both palms.
Jacinta then led Gale to the kitchen, and there was food prepared for him.
“Raine prepared your dinner and had gone to bed. You haven’t eaten your dinner yet, have you?”
Gale was a little awestruck by Jacinta because it was her first night at his house and she was acting as she was part of the family for many years already.
“Yeah, I haven’t eaten.”
Gale picked his plate up and headed to the dining hall while Jacinta went to the back of the kitchen to look for the first aid box.
You are kidding?! You know where our first aid box is?!
Gale was hungry, so he was chomping down his food, while Jacinta prepared water and some first aid for Gale.
“Gale, take off your shirt. I want to see your wounds.”
“There’s no need to — “
“Do you want me to pin you down and strip you naked?!”
Is it just me or why am I getting pushed around by strong-willed girls?!
Gale reluctantly took off his shirt and continued to eat his dinner, but Jacinta could not believe what she saw on Gale’s back. There were multiple spots on his back that bled, and she had no idea what it was, but those were the silver needles that exerted tremendous pressure on Gale’s body. 
Gale had overexerted himself with his energy and the blood vessels surrounding the silver needles were partly ruptured.
“G-Gale?! Who did this terrible thing to you?! Why are there different spots on your body that are bleeding?! Did someone torture you?!”
“…No, no one tortured me.”
“B-But these wounds were as though someone pierced you menacingly on different spots of your body, to make fun of your pain! Who did you get caught up with this time?!”
Gale was silent and continued to eat his food, while Jacinta was becoming increasingly annoyed. 
“You are not to leave my sight anymore! I can’t believe I take my eyes off you to learn some sword techniques at Ms. Kasumi’s house, and you ended up injured like this! You have a bad habit of playing hero when you are so weak!”
“Err… look, Jacinta. I actually can fight very well. I don’t know what made you think I can’t — “
Jacinta pushed Gale off his chair and pinned his body on the ground with her body. Her breasts were touching his chest, and Gale felt the suppleness and softness, which caused him to blush.
“Try getting me off from you right now.”
Gale realized that Jacinta was testing his strength, but Gale was weak to girls! He couldn’t even win arm wrestling against Sunny!
The reason why Gale could fight so well against Ivy was because she was clad from top to toe with black armor, and he didn’t feel like he was fighting a girl! Moreover, he was too angry to think about anything except to fight at that time.
“Wait, there is a reason why I don’t have the strength to get you off me!”
Jacinta moved her lips near Gale’s ear and whispered, causing Gale to feel a tingling sensation on his sensitive ear. Moreover, Jacinta rubbed her legs on Gale’s legs seductively.
“I can eat you right now, and you can’t even do anything about it! I know you are brave, but please stop your excuses because it is getting very annoying!”
Gale heaved a sigh as he realized he was not going to win the argument.
“Alright alright, I lose! I will not make any more excuses anymore!”
“Good!” And Gale felt a soft kiss on his ears, causing him to blush uncontrollably. Jacinta then picked Gale up and began to clean his wounds, while Gale continued to eat his dinner.
“Your body seemed so sturdy and strong, Gale! If you learn some martial arts, I bet you will be decent!”
Gale was at his wits’ end.

“Good morning, Raine!”
“Hey, brother! Did you eat your dinner last night.”
“Yeah, it was delicious! Thanks sis!”
Gale was at the kitchen preparing breakfast for Raine and Jacinta, but Raine was not happy about it, and she frowned.
“Brother, didn’t we agree that I will be preparing breakfast for the both of us?”
“Once in a while, Raine! Otherwise, my cooking skill is going to suffer.”
Jacinta came out of the shower, and she noticed the food on the table.
“Wow, you can cook, Gale! What a spread!”
“…It’s just a normal breakfast with some rice, soup, vegetables, and fish. Nothing fancy.”
“Still, you are such a domesticated man!”
Gale wanted to make it up to Raine for missing dinner time last night, but he realized he chose the wrong day to make breakfast. Domesticated sounded even weaker than weak.
Shortly after, Gale concluded his preparation and neatly placed all the food with the utensils for the three of them. Jacinta could not help but feel very impressed with Gale.
“Let’s eat, everyone!”
As they ate, Raine spoke up.
“Hey brother, Sunny called me earlier to thank you for last night. She said you went through a lot of trouble for Zeel and her, and she feels eternally grateful.
What did you do for them?”
Gale was struggling to find an excuse and Jacinta was looking at Gale with the corner of her eyes.
“J-Just some trouble at the shop. T-Thugs came to find trouble with them.”
“What?! Why didn’t you say anything?! We could have called the police!”
That damned police were part of the problem. I still don’t know who was the perpetrator of the Babel Square tournaments!
“You know how Zeel looks like. Even though he is a kind man who takes in delinquents and helps them to earn a decent living, those policemen will round him up as part of the problem by mistake!”
Zeel often dressed like a typical hooligan, and what Gale suggested was completely plausible.
“… You’re right. Did you get hurt anywhere?”
“N-No, not particularly!”
Jacinta was staring at Gale with the corner of her eyes, and Gale gave a sheepish smile.
“Ah yes, I have discussed with Jacinta, and I told her she doesn’t need to find another place to live anymore. I called mom, and she said she is happy that Jacinta is staying with us.”
“Yeah, Jacinta has offered to pay a nominal sum for her rent, and she helped me around the house last night. It will be fun to have another person with us because there are times you aren’t around and I’m left alone in the house.”
Gale then looked at Raine and realized he was neglecting her because he was too caught up with his bodyguard duties and fighting.
“…Right. I think it will be great for Jacinta to be with us too. Welcome to the house, Jacinta!”
“It’s my pleasure!”
After the trio finished their breakfast, Raine took the utensils and plates into clean them up. As Gale was about to walk to his room to get his bag for school, Jacinta stopped him and pinned him to a wall.
“Thugs, huh?”
Gale shook his head and sighed.
“I guess I’m asking too much for you to trust me completely since we only met yesterday, but I hope you will depend on me for this kind of things in future, is that okay?”
At that moment, Gale’s mobile phone rang and Jacinta let him go to take his call.
“So not only are you a bodyguard for my daughter, you are a bodyguard for Lucy Adamas too, is that right?!”
“Ah, Aunt Agatha, let me explain — “
“There’s nothing to explain. I was watching your battles last night since it was broadcasted from Babel Square, and how you were trapped by her [Black Ice]. How’s the taste of her lips?”
“…Are you angry?”
“I wouldn’t be if you kissed Clere as passionately as you did with Lucy!”
“Oh, come on! Clere was unconscious — “
“If she is conscious, would you do it?”
“Clere doesn’t even like me! She likes Hideki!”
There was a pause from Agatha’s end.
“…I will admit she needs to clear that up in her heart. However, promise me you will leave some room for Clere in your heart. If you want Athena as well, I am fine too.”
“Wait, isn’t that crazy — “
“Promise me!”
Gale heaved a deep sigh and relented.
“Alright, I promise.”
Gale felt that Agatha had calmed down, so he asked her a question.
“Is this why you are calling me for? I thought you would be more upset about me being a bodyguard for the Head of the Black Diamond Syndicate when they are the ones who are targeting Clere!”
“That’s true, but there isn’t a need to panic since Lucy is more interested in you than in Clere!”
“…Men are so dense sometimes. Anyway, I will be monitoring Lucy’s movements, and I will get back to you.”
Agatha ended the call abruptly, leaving a bewildered Gale gaping at his phone.

Hideki was waiting at the doorsteps of Clere’s house to go to school together. They had been neighbors, but they rarely met up individually, so Hideki messaged Clere to see if she was willing to go to school with him.
Clere was feeling down because Gale knocked her out and didn’t allow her to join him at the Babel Square tournament. She thought Hideki could help to distract her from her frustrations. Thus she agreed to meet up to go to a school that day.
“Good morning, Hideki!”
“Good morning, Clere!”
Agatha was at the door and waved the two students goodbye. It was a chilly morning, with a rare cold wave that was hitting Aelfsige during a traditionally hot season. Clere snuggled under her coat while Hideki was quietly enjoying her company.
“I heard from Kasumi and Satori that the Sunny incident was resolved. Someone was impersonating Satori, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, Satori has made some enemies with her antics in school. Hopefully, she repents from this incident and changes her ways.”
“It’s not going to be easy though, but she is more cognizant of the repercussions of her actions than before.”
“That’s good to hear. Satori fell head over heels for you, it seems. Are you both dating yet?”
Hideki became silent and smiled awkwardly.
“Nah, we are just friends! We do hang out a lot during lunch and after school, but that’s about that.”
“…Has she confessed to you yet?”
“No, she hasn’t.”
“Maybe she’s waiting for you take the initiative.”
“Many guys are after her! I’m just one of the many guy friends that she hangs out with, I guess!” 
Clere looked at Hideki at the corner of her eyes for a moment and sighed. It was typical Hideki, who wasn’t comfortable in letting girls know his stance on love, and he didn’t want to offend anyone with rejection.
“What about you? Do you fancy any guys around you yet?”
Clere’s heart took a shot from Hideki’s words. In times past, she would feel her heartbeat racing faster if she took a walk with Hideki. However, she was too distracted by Gale’s antics that she had no room in her heart to think about relationships.
“…I don’t know, and I don’t think so. There were moments where I feel infatuated, but that’s about that.”
Hideki was about to ask another question, but he was interrupted by a trio who happened to cross their path. Clere saw who it was and her face was red with anger.
“GALE GAINSBOROUGH! Stop right there!”
Gale recognized that voice, and he sheepishly turned his head with a smile.
“Good morning, Clere! You look awesomely energetic today!”
Clere stomped towards Gale and Gale knew he was in trouble. Raine nudged Gale and looked at him at the corner of her eyes.
“Did you do something again, brother?”
Gale nodded apologetically, and he fixed his eyes at Clere. Clere’s face came very close to Gale’s as she glared at Gale without reservation.
“Would you mind explaining your actions yesterday?!”
“School rooftop, after class!”
“Roger that!”
No one dared to say anything at Clere’s outburst. She was so fuming mad that Hideki just gave a crooked smile while standing next to her.
At that moment, Reynard appeared from behind and greeted the group.
“Wow, did you all agree to meet up to go to school together?!”
Jacinta was happy that Reynard broke up the tensed atmosphere, so she replied chirpily.
“Nope! We happen to meet at this crossroad!” 
Clere could not keep her anger down since she saw Gale’s face, so she walked ahead with Hideki while the rest tagged along behind. Hideki was curious, so he asked Clere.
“Do you want to tell me what happened?”
“…Nothing happened.”
The group suddenly heard the sound of a motorbike engine, and Zeel stopped by to greet the group, with Sunny pillion riding behind.
“Hey all! Good morning — OW!”
Zeel stopped too close to Clere, so she reached out and took Zeel by his ears! Clere was upset with Zeel too, and he began to pull him sharply!
“Ah! Alright alright! I’m sorry!”
Sunny was surprised because she didn’t know Gale knocked Clere out, and everyone else was intrigued at what had transpired between the three of them.
“Brother, what terrible thing did you do to Clere?”
“Brother, what happened to Clere?”
“Gale, could you explain yourself?”
“Zeel, do you mind if you let me in your little secret?”
Zeel and Gale could take it no more, so Gale hopped on behind Sunny on the motorbike and shouted.
“Let’s escape, Zeel! To Aelfsige Academy!”
The motorbike sped off, leaving a trail of dust behind. Clere knew she was going to catch Gale at school anyway, so she continued stomping at a steady pace with a bewildered group behind her.

“…You deserved it, both of you. How could you knock a lady unconscious without warning?!”
Even though Gale was truly apologetic, he was grinning mischievously to himself, and Sunny was feeling exasperated with Gale. Zeel saw Gale’s grinning face, and he tried hard not to laugh. Sunny couldn’t believe these two guys were older than her.
“If I were Clere, I would be pretty upset too! Make sure both of you apologize properly, and no grinning!”
Both of them replied, “Yes”, in unison.
The students of Aelfsige Academy were walking past the trio, and they wondered why Zeel and Gale had their heads slightly bowed toward Sunny apologetically.
Clere and the rest of the group arrived at the gate shortly, and both Zeel and Gale gave a very heartfelt apologetic bow toward Clere. The students around the school compound were looking at them and whispering among themselves, wondering what had transpired among them.
Clere gave a cold look at Gale and spoke in a terse manner.
“Rooftop. Now.”
“Roger that!”
Zeel felt relieved he wasn’t going to be the one talking to Clere, and the rest of the group were silent since they didn’t know anything about it. Sunny walked up to the group and bowed slightly to them.
“I’m sorry for making you all worry. In short, Gale knocked Clere unconscious because he felt it was too dangerous for her to help both my brother and me last night.
Everything is over and let’s leave it like that.”
It was an epiphany for the group, and they realized if they were Clere, they would probably be infuriated as well. Raine sighed in resignation.
“That’s my brother for you. I bet he was grinning when he did that. He’s so mischievous at times!
I’m just glad that you are safe, Sunny! And you too, Zeel!”
Zeel blurted out absentmindedly.
“Yeah, if Gale wasn’t there, I could’ve di — OW!”
Sunny punched Zeel on his face to stop him from completing his sentence. She knew Raine would be worried sick if Gale was involved in something that life-threatening.
“In any case, it’s embarrassing for my brother and me. Sorry to make you worry, Raine!”
“No no, I’m just glad my brother was of help! He is definitely dependable when it comes to saving someone!”
After Sunny satiated the group’s curiosity, they dispersed to their respective ways and headed for their classrooms. 

Gale was on his knees before Clere, but she did not look at him, and she faced the other way.
“I’m sorry, Clere!”
“Who am I to you, Gale?”
“Someone whom I need to protect?”
“Is that it? Is that how you see me? Why am I always the liability for everyone?! Why can’t I be standing side by side with you all in everything?!”
“Clere but you aren’t a — “
“I’m always kept in the dark, always needed to be protected, and always feeling so useless when it matters most! When I try to help the people around me or fight against those assassins, I always feel so powerless!
I thought you understand that I am trying to be better, so that’s why I wanted you to train me!”
Gale realized this wasn’t just about her safety. His actions trampled her feelings, and he felt sorry. Clere was tearing, and Gale immediately got up, wrapped his arms around Clere and hugged her.
“I’m sorry, Clere! I was insensitive to your feelings. I wanted you to be safe, but what I did was too much!”
Clere was surprised that she was warmly embraced by Gale and how quick he was to apologize. She didn’t have the heart to push Gale away as she liked his embrace, but it felt embarrassing to be hugged by a guy. Clere was also perplexed because Gale could be so insensitive by knocking her out, and yet could be so timely when it comes to gestures such as these.
However, she felt she hasn’t got her message across to Gale yet, so she pushed him a little to look at him.
“Do you not trust me that I can be of help to you?! Aren’t we a team together?!”
Gale had never thought of it that way. All along his priority was to keep Clere safe, and that marked the basis of all his actions.
“Clere, your safety is my utmost priority. It doesn’t mean I don’t trust you when I keep you out of danger, but as your bodyguard, this is my duty.
However, I hear you. I will train you well enough so that you can fight alongside with me and we will face our challenges together. Is that alright?”
Clere nodded as the school bell rang and it marked the beginning of class. Clere wiped her tears, and both Gale and Clere promptly left the rooftop to return to their studies. 
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