Участник:Hellerick/Билингвы/Судзумия Харухи 7-6 (ja-en)

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Chapter Six
そして運命の日曜日が来た。 The fateful Sunday had finally arrived.
九時前に駅前へとチャリを走らせたのは昨日と同じ、全員がすでに揃っているのは毎度同じで、俺のおごりの喫茶店で引いたクジは俺と長門が印入りなのも予定通りだった。一度言ったことを長門は忘れたりしない。違えることもないだろう。俺も見習わなければならん。特に長門相手の約束は死んでも守ってやるつもりだ。それだけのことを長門は俺にしてくれた。 Like yesterday, I arrived by bike at the square in front of the station before nine; as usual, everyone was there already; as usual, we drew lots in the coffee shop nearby in which I footed the bill; and as expected, I was drawn together with Nagato. Nagato only needed to be told once, and she would never forget what needs to be done, and it's unlikely that she would make a mistake. I ought to learn from her in this aspect. I would have to especially keep my promises with Nagato no matter what. Since Nagato has always treated me well, after all.
喫茶店で時間を気にする俺と裏腹に、ハルヒは昨日以上にハシャいでいるように見えたが、この際なので気にならない。宝探しからずっとこんな調子だし、月初めの不調は体調不良か何かだったんだろう。 As I inquired frequently for the time in the coffee shop, I noticed Haruhi was now even more giddy than yesterday, but I had no time to care about that. Ever since the treasure hunt, she's always been like that, I guess that lull at the beginning of the month was just her feeling unwell.
ハルヒが朝比奈さんに何かを耳打ちしてはニヤニヤしているのは不思議な光景で、されてる朝比奈さんがほんわかと微笑んでいるのも理由を知りたいものだが、古泉と長門は平常営業で、少なくともこれから天変地異が発生することはなさそうだ。 As Haruhi whispered in Asahina-san's ear, she revealed a meaningful smile. Now that was quite a surreal scene. I really wanted to know what Haruhi and Asahina-san were smiling so happily about, but as Koizumi and Nagato's expression remained the same as usual, I don't suppose anything out of the ordinary will happen.
俺がカップの底に残っていたウインナコーヒーの泡を飲み干したとき、ハルヒが伝票を俺に滑らせて立ち上がった, As I emptied the remnants of my Viennese cappuccino, Haruhi slid the bill before my eyes and stood up.
午前十時ジャスト。 The time is ten o'clock in the morning.
あの川沿いの散歩道までは徒歩でも余裕の時間だった。 Even if I were to walk to that cheery blossom filled path, I would still have plenty of time.
* * *
* * *
再集合は正午なので、亀を川に放って帰るだけなら往復の時間を考慮しても割と余る計算だ。 As we were to meet at noon, taking into consideration the time it takes to release the turtle and the round trip back, there was still plenty of time to spare.
ハルヒと朝比奈さんと古泉の姿が遠くなるのを見届けて、俺は長門に言った。 As I saw Haruhi, Asahina-san and Koizumi walk away, I said to Nagato,
「すまない。今日は一人で図書館に行ってくれないか。一時間もしたら迎えに行けると思う」 “I'm sorry, but can you go to the library on your own today? I'll come pick you up in an hour,”
「そう」 “I see.”
ダッフルコートのフードに手を這わせ、すっぽりと頭に被りながら、長門は俺を見ずに答える。 Nagato placed her coat hood over her head and replied without even looking at me,
「長門、俺と朝比奈さんが何をやってるのか、お前には解るか?」 “Nagato, do you have any idea what Asahina-san and I are doing?”
「必要なこと」 “Something necessary.”
長門は眩くように言って、図書館へ行く道を歩き出した。やや躊躇ってから俺も後を追う。 Nagato murmured, and headed off towards the library. I hesitated for a while and went after her,
「誰にとって必要なことだ?」 “Necessary for whom?”
「あなたと朝比奈みくる」 “For you and Asahina Mikuru.”
そこにはお前は入っていないのか? ハルヒや古泉は? And you're not included? What about Haruhi and Koizumi?
「…………」 “...”
沈黙しながら歩き続ける長門は、やがてフードの奥から平らな声を出した。 Nagato continued to walk forward without saying anything, finally a plain voice came out from behind that hood of hers,
「入る可能性もある。まだ解らない」 “Maybe we will become involved, though I am not sure yet.”
立ち止まった俺が肩を落としたように見えたか、長門はふっと振り返ってビードロのような瞳を俺の顔に据え付け、 Perhaps sensing that I look dejected as I stand there, Nagato suddenly turned around, and looked at me with her glass-like eyes,
「でも」 “However...”
前髪を風に遊ばせながら、 Her hair fluttered in the wind,
「すぐに解ること。そうなればわたしも動く。古泉一樹も動く」 “We should know very soon. When that happens I would take action. So would Koizumi Itsuki.”
とぎれとぎれの話し方は、出会ってから変わらない長門の話し方だった。 Ever since I knew Nagato, her way of expression has always been to jump from point to point without linking them together.
「進む方向は同じ。わたしも、あなたも」 “Our ways forward are the same. For me. And also for you.”
それが結論だったように、長門はふいっと前を向いて、静かな歩調で歩き始めた。今度は俺は後を追わない。 As though she'd reached a conclusion, Nagato suddenly turned back to walk silently away again. This time I didn't follow.
「ありがとよ、長門」 “Thanks, Nagato,”
恥ずかしいので小声で言っておく。どんどん離れていくフード姿に聞こえたかどうかは解らんが、届いていることを俺は確信していた。そのくらいの器用さは長門にもまだ具わっているだろう。 As it was kind of embarrassing, I said it very softly. I wasn't sure whether the hooded figure that was slowly walking farther away heard me, but I'm sure she would understand my feelings. I do not believe that Nagato would not possess such empathy.
ついでに別のことも確信させてもらった。俺も長門も古泉も朝比奈さんも程度の差はあれ、それぞれの連帯保証人になっているらしいって確信さ。その真ん中にはハルヒという恒星が燦然と輝き、俺たちはその周囲を回る惑星に等しい。いつからそうなっちまったのかは思い出しようもないが、たとえば夜空から不意に火星や金星が消え失せたら相当|寂しくなるだろうし、まずもって占星術師が大困りだ。俺も困る。火星人や金星人が百パーセントいないと解るまで、地球のお隣さんが断りもせずに居なくなって欲しくはないね。普段意識してないつもりで、いざなくなった時になって慌て出す物事は案外多いものだ。えーと、試験中のシャーペンの芯とか……いや、こんなくだらない喩えなんかどうでもいい。何より、俺は去年の十二月に喰らったあの巨大な喪失感を二度と味わいたくないのだ。 This also confirmed something for me. Though we may be different to various extents, I truly believe that I, along with Nagato, Koizumi and Asahina-san are trustees to each other. At the center was Haruhi shining as bright as a star, while we were the planets circling around her orbit. Nothing is ever predictable. If one day Mars and Venus were to suddenly disappear, I'm sure people would be feeling lonely, at least the astronomers would be troubled. Before confirming whether Martians or Venusians even exist, I certainly do not wish to find our neighbors just disappearing like that without even a warning. There were surprisingly many instances when you would go into a panic after finding out things that you take for granted had suddenly vanished. Take my automatic pencil while I was doing my exams for example... Forget it, you wouldn't want to waste your time hearing my stupid analogies. Anyway, I never want to go through that sense of loss I experienced last December.
「また長門に教えられたな」 :(no translation)
俺の進む道など、とっくに決まっていたのだということを。 As to which road I should take, it was all determined beforehand.
* * *
* * *
三十分後、俺は川岸に到着した。秋に咲き誇った桜は見る影もなく茶色の枝を剥き出しにするのみで、寒々しく春の到来を待っている。例のベンチまで歩く道すがら、俺は低い位置にある川へと目を落とした。典型的な天井川で、水面から岸まで三メートルほどの段差がある。護岸工事が行き届いているおかげでさっぱりとした印象だ。水量はそれほどでもなく、深度は数センチ程度、下流ということもあって流れも相当に穏やか。夏ともなれば見境の知らない子供たちがバシャバシャと小魚を追う姿を見ることができるだろうが、この真冬に冷たい水の流れに近寄りたいと思う人間は皆無である。 I arrived by the bank of the stream in thirty minutes. The scene of the cherry blossoms flourishing wildly in autumn was nowhere to be seen. Only the trees with their naked branches remained standing, awaiting for the arrival of spring. I walked along the path towards the long bench that overlooked the low-lying river. This was a typical stream where the sediment around causes the bank to be on a higher altitude. The water surface was nearly three meters below the bank. The structure of the bank was well constructed, giving people a neat impression. As there wasn’t a lot of water in the stream, not to mention it was only a few centimeters deep, as well as being downstream, the flow of the stream was relatively calm. By summer, there’ll be merry scenes of kids going down the stream chasing little fishes around. On the other hand, with this being a chilly winter day, no one would want to approach the freezing water.
だからというわけでもないだろうが、俺がかつて朝比奈さんの未来話を聞いたベンチは空席だった。日曜とは言え、この寒い日の午前中に川沿いを散歩をしようという人間はほとんどおらず、並木道は無人に近い。ヒマそうな犬と寒そうな飼い主が一組、互いに黙って散歩しているくらいのものだ。 The shore was normally not as empty as the stream, but the long bench where I sat listening to Asahina-san proclaiming that she is a time traveler was empty today. Though it was a Sunday, it was such a cold day on a morning before the warm sun was shining overhead, no one would come to take a walk by the bank. The cherry blossom path was nearly empty, save a dog walking idyllically followed by its master apparently freezing to death and walking silently.
川のせせらぎに耳を奪われつつ賢そうなことを考えている孤高の男子学生の演技をしていると、 As I was about to show off my acting skills and pretend to be a philosophical high school student listening quietly to the sound of the stream...
「キョンくん」 “Kyon-kun,”
朝比奈さんが車道に面した階段から土手を上ってきた。ちゃんと亀の容器を携えていたが、昨日していたマスクをお忘れだ。ニット帽と首に巻いたショールでずいぶん印象が違うから、まあいいか。どうせ今日のこれが最後だ。 Asahina-san walked up the river bank from the steps facing the road. Looks like she remembered to bring the plastic box carrying the turtle. I looked further away and found what seemed to be a luxurious limousine driving off quietly. That must be from Tsuruya-san’s family. I must remind myself to thank the driver, as well.
午前十時四十四分。川縁まで朝比奈さんと歩くと四十五分。時間もぴったりだ。 It was 10:44 in the morning. By the time I reached the edge of the stream with Asahina-san, the watch had just turned to forty-five minutes, our timing was perfect.
「水、冷たそう……」 “The water...looks very cold...”
朝比奈さんは緩い流れの水面を見下ろし、ついでケースを顔の前に持ち上げて亀を見つめた。 Asahina-san gazed at the water flowing very slowly while bringing the box before her and looked at the turtle,
「亀さん、無事に成長してくれるかな」 “I wonder if this turtle can grow up normally?”
小さき生命に気を回す優しい上級生は、 Showing kindness even to a small animal, our senpai continued,
「ちょっと待ってください」 “Please wait a while,”
ケースを地面に置くと蓋を開け、コートのポケットから亀のエサ箱を出した。ゼニガメは不意に消え失せた天井に向けて首を伸ばして思案顔をしていたが、朝比奈さんがエサを摘んで近づけるとパクリとくわえて丸飲みする。たった一晩でよくも懐いたものだ。これも朝比奈さんの人徳だろう。 She placed the box on the ground and opened the lid. She then took out the box of pet food from her pocket. The little turtle stuck its neck out towards the roof which had suddenly disappeared and looked hesitant. When Asahina-san brought the box of pet food closer to it, it quickly swallowed the food in one gulp. After just one night, this turtle had already begun to get used to living with humans, Asahina-san’s kindness surely could reach no bounds.
名残を惜しむ朝比奈さんと亀くんには悪いが、そろそろ時間だ。十時五十分まで後三分ほどしかない。 Although Asahina-san was reluctant to part with the little turtle, I’m sorry to say that time’s up. There was only three minutes remaining till 10:50.
「春にまた来ましょう」と、俺はなだめつつ、ゼニガメを持ち上げた。小さな亀は抵抗もせずに俺の| 掌 の上でじっとしている。 “Remember to come back in spring,” I said gently to the little turtle as I picked it up. The little turtle did not resist and laid quietly on my palm, not moving an inch.
「きっと一回り成長したこいつと再会できますよ」 “When we meet again, I’m sure he will have grown bigger.”
根拠はないがそう言うしかない。俺は亀の身を案じる朝比奈さんの視線を振り払い、投擲体勢に入った。アンダースローで、なるべく優しく放ろうとしたとき、 Though there was no proof of that, that’s all I could say. I avoided Asahina-san’s gaze, who was looking very worried for the little turtle, and made a posture about to toss it out. Just as I was about to make a knuckleball pitch...
「失礼します」 “Excuse me,”
いきなり背後から声をかけられ、俺は亀を握ったまま川に転げ落ちるところだった。たたらを踏みつつ何とか地面に踏みとどまり、大急ぎで背後を向くと、 A voice suddenly called from behind. I nearly fell into the stream while holding the turtle. After stepping forward clumsily for a while, I finally found my footing and turned around.
「この前はありがとうございました」 “Thanks for saving me last time, Onii-san, Onee-san,”
幼い声で丁寧に頭を下げる、眼鏡をかけた小さな少年がいた。通称ハカセくん、先月俺があわやの交通事故から救ってやった、そしてハルヒの近所に住んでいて臨時の家庭教師を依頼しているという、あの少年だった。 A young voiced, bespectacled looking boy was bowing gratefully to us. It was the boy that I saved from the claws of death last month in a potential traffic accident. I call him the Bespectacled Boy. Besides, he lives very near Haruhi’s place, so Haruhi would occasionally become his stand-in governess.
「あ……」 “Ah...”
朝比奈さんも驚いていたが、俺だって驚く.まさか再会するとは思わなかった。 Asahina-san looked quite surprised, and so was I, since I never thought I would ever see him again.
「何をしていらっしゃるのですか?」 “May I ask what you are doing here?”
眼鏡少年はウチの妹とは段違いに理知的な顔つきで、俺と朝比奈さん、それから俺が握るゼニガメを見つめた。何をしていらっしゃるのかは俺がキミに訊きたいことでもあるが、 The Bespectacled Boy asked with a curious-looking expression that was miles apart from that of my sister as he looked at me and Asahina-san, and then at the turtle in my hand. I was about to ask what you’re doing here.
「塾に行く途中です」 “I’m on my way to cram school.”
俺が尋ねる前に少年はハキハキと説明し、肩にかけた鞄を指差した。 I was about to ask when the boy had already answered on his own, pointing to the schoolbag he was carrying behind his back,
「いつもこの道を通っているんです。あの時もそうでした」 “I always walk through this way to cram school, it was the same that time as well,”
少年はまたぺこりと一礼し、不思議そうな顔をして地面のケースと俺の手の内で手足をジタバタさせている甲羅付き爬虫類に視線を注ぎ、 The boy bowed once again, and then with a puzzling look, gazed at the box on the ground and the shelled reptile crawling around on my hand,
「亀を逃がすのですか」 “Is Onii-san going to release the turtle to the wild?”
「まあな」 “Yeah... sort of.”
答えつつ、俺は罪悪感にさいなまれる。朝比奈さんもこの少年も、ゼニガメを見る目に同情心が溢れている。寒い冬の川にこんな小さな子亀を投げ込んでどうしようと言うのか、ってな無言のアピールを感じた。でもしかたがないだろう。やんないといけないことなんだからさ。 After answering, I suddenly felt consumed by guilt once again. Both Asahina-san and this boy had eyes revealing their compassion for the little turtle, and asked quietly: “Why do you want to toss such a small turtle into the stream on such a cold winter’s day?” It’s not like I wanted to do this either, but the problem is that I have to do this.
腕時計の表示が指定の時刻まで一分を切っている。ぼやぼやとはしていられない。俺は働きの悪い頭を高速回転させて、 The watch indicates that there was now less than one minute before the indicated time, I no longer had time to look confused, I quickly thought of an idea and said,
「キミの家はペットオーケーか? と言うか、こいつを持って帰っても親御さんは平気か?」 “Hey kid, are you allowed to keep pets at home? I mean, if you take this guy home, would your parents be mad at you?”
少年はちょいと眼鏡を押さえるだけの間を開け、 The boy pushed his glasses and said,
「平気だと思います。僕が世話をするのであれば」 “I don’t think so, as long as I take care of him,”
「そうか。じゃあ、ちょっと待ってろ」 “Really? Okay then, wait here,”
俺はゼニガメの背中を摘んで持つと川縁にしゃがみ込んだ。水面から俺たちがいる岸まで高さにして三メートル、大した距離でもない。流れは緩いし、亀を見失うこともないだろう。 I picked up the turtle on its back and knelt down beside the stream. The shore we were on was three meters from the water surface, so it wasn’t that far. And as the stream was flowing slowly, I wasn’t worried that the turtle would be washed away.
俺はふわりと亀を投じた。着水の衝撃がなるべくないよう、羽毛を投げるように。 I gently dropped the turtle just like letting go of a feather, trying to reduce the impact of its fall.
「あっ」と朝比奈さん。 “Ah!” Asahina-san exclaimed.
ぽちゃん、と亀は水面に落ちる。同心円状の波紋が広がり、ゆったりとした流れに押されるように下流へと向かっていく。 Sploosh! The turtle fell into the water. Creating ripples of concentric circles, it slowly sank into the water and was now going downstream.
少年はその光景を、まるで呼吸を遠慮しているような気配で見つめていた。 The boy stared at such a scene, he didn’t even dare breathe once.
いったん沈んだ亀は、浅い川底を蹴るようにしてすぐにまた顔を出し、自分の作り出した波紋に戸惑ったような顔をしてプカプカ浮いていた。が、しばらくして水をかき始め、近くにあった石にしがみついて首を伸ばした。俺たちに別れを告げているわけではなさそうだ。いきなり拡大した己の世界について亀的思考を巡らしているように見える。 After sinking for a while, the turtle kicked to the shallow surface and re-emerged out of the water. Apparently looking troubled at the ripples that it has caused, it drifted for a while before it began to paddle. It finally climbed up a rock nearby and stuck out its neck. It didn’t seem like it was saying goodbye to us, more like thinking how it has expanded its horizons from a turtle’s perspective.
こうして波紋は流れ去り、亀は残った。 Eventually, the ripples subsided and only the turtle remained standing on the rock.
朝比奈さん(大)がどこまで計算していたのかは解らないが、指令は『亀を投げ込め』までで終わっている。ならば投げ込んだ亀をどうしようが自由だろう。そう自分に言い聞かせながら靴と靴下を脱ぎ捨てる。ズボンの裾を捲って準備オーケー、目を丸くしている朝比奈さんと少年を残して岸を下りた。さすがに水は冷たく、コケか何かで足の裏がぬるぬるするのも気持ちのいいものではないが、川遊びは田舎に帰るたびに従兄弟たちとやってるのでお手の物だ。 I had no idea how accurate Asahina-san’s (big) calculations were, but I have fulfilled her request of “throwing the turtle into the stream”. What I do with the turtle afterwards was solely up to my discretion. I convinced myself while taking off my socks. Rolling up my trousers just to be safe, I began to wade into the water, leaving Asahina-san and the boy with their eyes widened. The water was really freezing cold, and the surface was filled with some slimy algae-like stuff which felt gross, but as I’ve always played in the stream with my cousins every time I visit them in the countryside, this was nothing.
「すまなかったな、亀よ」 “Sorry about that, little turtle.”
ゼニガメは小さな頭をもたげる。手を伸ばしても逃げようとせず、あっさり再|捕獲することができた。亀としてはまた捕まえるなら投げたりするなと言いたいのかもしれないが、幸い俺には亀語の素養がない。片手に亀を持ったまま岸を上って、元のケースに収容する頃には足先の冷気は首の後ろにまで響いていた。うう、腹を壊しそうだ。 The turtle lifted its tiny head. When I stuck out my hand, it didn’t attempt to escape, and allowed me to grab it. Perhaps it wanted to say to me: “If you’re going to pick me up, then don’t toss me in the first place.” It’s a good thing I wasn’t fluent in the turtle-language. As I returned to the shore with the turtle in my hand, and placed him back in the box, the coldness in my feet went straight to my brain. Man, I’m so gonna get diarrhea when I get back.
俺は地面に尻をついて両脚を上げ、水滴を空中に飛ばしつつ、 I sat on the ground and lifted my feet above to shake off the excess water and said,
「少年、その亀、キミにやるよ」 “Kid, this turtle’s yours now.”
「いいのですか?」 “Can I really have it?”
一部始終を眺めていた眼鏡くんは、遠慮するように、 An observer to all this a few paragraphs ago, the Bespectacled Boy now asked hesitatingly,
「この亀を川に戻したのは理由があるからではないのですか?」 “Doesn’t Onii-san have a special reason to release this turtle into the wild?”
子供らしい知的探求心だが、亀同様、俺にはキミに答える言葉を持たないんだ。なんせ自分でも自分のやってる行為の意味が解らないんだからな。 I knew this kid was asking due to his curiosity, but like the turtle itself, I don’t have any answers that can satisfy that curiosity of yours. Since even I’m trying to find an explanation for the meaning of my own actions.
「それはもうどうでもいいさ。亀だっていきなり真冬の川に放り出されても困るだろうし、キミが飼ってやるってんなら、まだそっちのほうがいいと思うだろ」 “It doesn’t matter anymore. Even the turtle would feel troubled upon being released into the wild in the middle of winter. If you’re willing to take him, I’m sure he’ll be better off than having to soak himself in a freezing river.”
朝比奈さんはどうだろう。手紙の未来指令には絶対に従わなくてはならないと言っていたが、俺のやっているのはそれに違反していないかな。どう言うかと多少心配だったのだが、小動物を気遣う朝比奈さんはエサ箱をそっと少年に差し出して、 Will that do, Asahina-san? Though you said that the instructions from the future has to be absolutely obeyed, my actions had not gone against the instructions at all. Despite that, I was still a bit worried, but I saw that Asahina-san, who has been kind to little animals, had already begun handing the box of pet food to the boy.
「これも持っていって。亀さんご飯です」 “This is the turtle’s basic meals, take it as well,”
それから少しお姉さん風に、 She then said like an elder sister,
「ちゃんと世話をしてあげるって、約束してください」 “Promise me that you’ll take care of him.”
「約束します」 “I promise,”
こまっしゃくれた子供だったが、悪い感じはしないね。朝比奈さんから手渡された亀ケースとエサ箱を抱きしめるようにした少年は、 The boy replied slowly, but not in a disrespectful way. He received the plastic box and box of pet food from Asahina-san, and held them tightly with his arms,
「ずっと、大切にします」 “I’ll take good care of him,”
そこまで決意にみちた表情をせんでもいいというくらいの気概を込めて言った。 He said passionately. Actually, you don’t have to be so determined about it.
「ああ、少年。一つ約束してくれ」 “Oh yeah, kid. I want you to promise one more thing.”
釘を刺しておく必要があるのだった。前回、それで俺と朝比奈さんはハルヒからエライ目に遭わされた。その記憶はまだ脳裏にこびり付いている。 There was a need to take a precaution. It was because we didn’t take this precaution the last time around, both Asahina-san and I got punished severely by Haruhi. That painful memory still lingers in my mind till now.
「君んちの近所に涼宮ハルヒってのが住んでいるだろ」 “There’s a girl called Suzumiya Haruhi that lives near your place, right?”
「はい。涼宮お姉さんにはいつもお世話になっています」 “Yes, Suzumiya-nee-san has always taken good care of me.”
涼宮お姉さんとは、またこそばゆい響きの言葉だ。 For some reason, I shuddered at the name “Suzumiya-nee-san”.
「そのハルヒには絶対に内緒にしといてくれ。俺と朝比奈さん……そうだな、ウサギのお姉さんがここにいたってことも、俺たちから亀をもらったってことも絶対に秘密だ。守れるか?」 “You must not tell Haruhi anything about what happened today. My presence here with Asahina-san... that is the Bunny Girl nee-san, and us giving you this turtle are strictly confidential. Can you keep a secret?”
「守ります」 “Yes.”
真面目な顔でうなずく少年だった。安心しておこう。ついでに朝比奈さんが、 The boy nodded very solemnly. I guess I can rest easy now. Asahina-san now asked as well,
「亀を持って帰って、本当にだいじょうぶ? その、お母さんとか、知らない人に物をもらっちゃダメって、言われない?」 “Are you sure you’re all right with taking this turtle back with you? Wouldn’t... your mother or family say anything about not accepting things from strangers?”
「だいじょうぶです。うまく言いくるめることができます」 “Don’t worry. I’ll find an excuse.”
少年は背筋を伸ばし、 The boy straightened his back and said,
「この亀を実験に使っていた人たちが、不必要になったので処分しようとしていたところに僕が通りがかり、かわいそうなのでもらうことにした……と説明しようと思っています。僕の両親ならきっと許可してくれるでしょう」 “I’ll tell them that as the people doing experiments on this turtle didn’t need it anymore, they were about to throw it away when I happened to pass by. As I felt pity for him, I asked them to give it to me… I’m sure Dad and Mom would let me have him,”
なんというしっかりした子供だろう。我が家の妹に少しコツを教えてやって欲しくなる。同い年くらいなのにこの違いは育った環境によるものだろうか。 This kid sure was reliable. I really wish he would teach my sister a thing or two. They were both about the same age, but the difference was so great. This must have to do with the environments that they grew up in.
「それでは僕は塾の時間なので」 “Then, I have to go now, my cram school’s about to start,”
躾の行き届いた仕草で礼をする少年の頭に、朝比奈さんが手を乗せて言った。 The polite boy bowed courteously to us once again. Asahina-san patted his head and said,
「この前の約束も忘れないで。車には充分気をつけてね。どんな事故にも遭わないように、それから、一生懸命に勉強して。そうしたら、きっと、あなたは立派な人になるわ。ずっとずっと誰もが覚えているくらいの……」 “Don’t forget the promise you made last time. Be careful when crossing the roads. Don’t let any accidents happen to you, and study hard. That way, you’ll become a very useful person. And a very important person, as well...”
朝比奈さんが伸ばした小指に、少年は歳相応に照れる気配を見せた。おずおずとした指切りげんまん。朝比奈さんと少年がそうしている姿が俺にはやたら微笑ましい。 Looking at Asahina-san sticking out her pinky, the boy revealed a shyness that suited his age, and hooked his pinky onto hers with trepidation. I couldn’t help but smile at seeing the figures of Asahina-san and this boy, one big and one small, standing together.
少年はくすぐったそうな顔をして指を放すと、まるで宝物のように亀ケースを抱え、何度も振り返っては頭を下げながら歩いていった。その姿が完全に見えなくなるまで朝比奈さんは手を振り続け、俺がやっと乾いた裸足に靴下をかぶせて靴を履いたあたりで手を下ろして、 The boy then let go, embarrassed, and walked off carrying the plastic box as though it were some valuable treasure. Several times he turned around to bow to us. Asahina-san never stopped waving, until he had completely disappeared from our view, and only when I had finally put my socks on over my dried feet and put on my shoes, did she put down her hands.
「ふうー……」 “Phew...”
溜息をつく。朝比奈さん、あるいは朝比奈さん的未来から見て、あの少年はよほど大切な人物らしい。たとえば俺が江戸時代まで時間移動して歴史に名を残している偉人に出会ったような、そんな感じなのだろう。そのくらいはもう訊かなくても解る。それが禁則|事項であることもだ。 Asahina-san sighed deeply. For her, or I should say for the future version of Asahina-san, this boy seemed like a very important figure. If I were to travel back to the Edo Period and came face to face with a historical figure, I would probably feel the same way. I didn’t even need to ask, that’s got to be Classified Information.
「ふう」 “Phew,”
俺も溜息じみた息を漏らした。すべきことを果たした意味での気が抜けた吐息さ。この朝比奈さんとやるべきことをこれで全部終えたはずだ。空き缶のイタズラ、ひょうたん石、謎の記憶装置、そして亀。 I too breathed a deep sigh. Rather than a depressed sigh, it was more like a sigh of relief that it was all over. My mission with this Asahina-san has now come to a close. The empty can prank, the gourd-shaped rock, the mysterious memory device, and the turtle.
問題はこれからどうするかがよく解らないことで、それは最後の手紙#6にも書いてなかった。しかし朝比奈さんはもうひょいひょい出歩くことはなく、鶴屋さんの家の離れでじっとしている限りでは俺も安心だ。残り二日、そうしていればこの朝比奈さんは元いた俺たちの時間に戻ることができる。入れ替わりに俺は現在の朝比奈さんに過去に行くように言わねばならないわけだが、それも明後日のことだ。ひとまずは背負った荷物を下ろせた気分である。 The question was, what do we do next? I haven’t got a clue at all. The final letter #6 made absolutely no mention of anything. As long as Asahina-san doesn’t go out on her own and continue to live in Tsuruya-san’s bungalow, then I shouldn’t need to worry. As the next two days were free, this Asahina-san would eventually return to our original time period. In contrast, I would need to instruct the present Asahina-san to travel back to the past, but that’s the day after tomorrow. For now, I felt a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
「朝比奈さん、来たばっかりですが鶴屋さん家まで帰りましょう。タクシーをつかまえて、そこまで同乗します。そこから俺は長門を待たしている図書館に行かんとダメですが」 “Asahina-san, though you’ve only just arrived, I think you should go take some rest at Tsuruya-san’s place. We’ll take a taxi and send you back, I’ll then go back to the library to pick up Nagato.”
「はい……」 “Okay...”
朝比奈さんはまだ心持ちぼうっとした雰囲気で歩き出した。俺の誘導のまま、川沿いの並木道に並行している車道へと下りていく。路肩に立ってタクシーを待っている間も、朝比奈さんは言葉数少なくややうつむき加減でいた。 Asahina-san said absentmindedly and walked off. Under my guidance, we reached the road that runs parallel to the cherry blossom path. Standing by the pavement waiting for a taxi, Asahina-san didn’t speak a lot, and seemed rather depressed.
俺はタクシーがやって来るのを待ちつつ、昨日の変な野郎がまた来やしないかと周囲をうかがう。悪意丸出しなあの野郎だったが、そのまんますぎて敵役としてはもう一つだとダメ出ししておく。率直に言わせてもらって毛ほども恐ろしくねえぜ。もし古泉みたいなヤツが昨日のあいつみたいな近づき方をしてきたら、そっちのほうがよほど脅威めいたものを感じただろうに登場時の演出を間違ったな。あるいはキャスティングをだ。 While waiting for the taxi, I was also paying attention to my surroundings, for fear that the Sneering Bastard from yesterday would cause trouble again. It was obvious that bastard didn’t come with good intentions, but as he made it too obvious, he certainly didn’t feel like a scary enemy. To be frank, he hardly made me shiver at all. If it was Koizumi who approached us using that bastard’s manner of speech, I would have felt extremely threatened. If he hadn’t picked the wrong time to make his appearance, then he was probably playing the wrong sort of character.
おお、我ながら頼もしい心意気だと感心する。それもそうだろう? ここしばらく、俺は一年前には考えられないくらいの突拍子もない出来事に巻き込まれまくり、その都度色々なことを考えたりもした。たまに揺らぐこともあったかもしれない。しかし、今では違う。長門には及ばないかもしれないが、俺だって確固たるものを得るには充分すぎる時を過ごしたんだ。もう自分の立ち位置を見誤ることはないさ。 Aha! I find myself to be more and more reliable now. That’s to be expected, for the past year, I’ve been involved in all sorts of strange occurrences, allowing my vision to expand and my mind to be more open. My life has been put in peril occasionally, but it’s different now. Though I wasn’t as determined as Nagato, I too went through the experience of having to decide what I really wanted. I’ll never misjudge my role and position again.
タクシーはなかなか通らず、車の数そのものが少なかった。こうして朝比奈さんと二人で並んでいるのも割と楽しいので佇むことに苦痛はないものの、図書館に一人で向かわせた手前、長門のところには早めに行ってやらないとな。 Though there were hardly any taxis and few cars on the road, it was quite a pleasure in itself to be standing all alone together with Asahina-san, so I didn’t feel anxious with the wait at all. But as I’d already told Nagato to go to the library herself, I would be doing her an injustice if I didn’t go pick her up as soon as things were settled.
とか、のんきに考えていたのが悪かったのか。 ...It was pointless worrying. Maybe I shouldn’t even be distracted.
次の瞬間、俺は信じられないものを目撃することになった。 Because in the next moment, I witnessed an unbelievable scene.
* * *
* * *
その時、俺は時計を確認しなかった。そんな余裕はどこにもなかった。だから正確な時間は解らない。しかし、午前十一時前なのは確かだ。 At that time, I didn’t check the time on my watch. I never had the time to anyway, so I didn’t know the exact time when it happened, I just knew that it was sometime before eleven.
事件は次のような手順で発生した。 Here was what happened:
県道の左車線外側に立ち、タクシーの姿をぼんやり求めていた俺と朝比奈さんに向かって、大型車が徐行して走ってきた。スピードを出して走る道でもないからそのこと自体には不思議性はなく、実際俺も気にしなかった。 As I waited with Asahina-san on the pavement on the left side of the county road, trying to see if there were any taxis coming our way, a big car came driving slowly. As it wasn’t some highway, there was nothing wrong with it driving so slowly. Truth be told, at that moment I paid no attention to it.
しかしその車はさらに減速すると、信号もないのにゆっくりと止まった。俺たちの目の前で。 Yet that approaching car decelerated even more and, without even making a signal, stopped right in front of us.
「何だ?」と思うヒマがあったかどうかも疑わしい。 “Huh?” I suddenly felt suspicious, I don’t think I’ve felt this suspicious before.
なぜなら、そのワンボックスカーのスライドドアが突然開き、車内から伸ばされた腕が朝比奈さんの身体を捉えて車内に引きずり込むまで、ものの数秒とかからなかったからだ。 This was because the door to that minivan opened suddenly, and a hand from within had dragged Asahina-san into the car within a few seconds.
「あっ……!?」 “WAH...!?”
その声が朝比奈さんの上げたものだと気づいたとき、そのモスグリーンのワンボックスカーはドアを閉めもせずに急発進し、まるで嘲るように排気ガスを俺に吹きかけ、すでに道の彼方に小さく見えるばかりになっていた。 By the time I realized Asahina-san had screamed, the green minivan had drove off in full speed without even closing its door. The plume of smoke it emitted felt as though it was mocking my slow reaction. By the time I looked properly, the car had already driven off to the other end of the road, and it became a small dot in the distance.
「なっ……」 “What the...”
茫然から立ち直るのにコンマ二秒ほどかかった。車の姿はすでに視界から失せている。 It only took me about 0.2 seconds to recover my senses. The car had already disappeared from my vision.
まて、待て待て。 Hold it, hold it, HOLD IT!
なんだこれは。俺の目の前から朝比奈さんが消えている。車に引きずり込まれ、その車は走り去ってもう見えず、俺は一人で車道に立ちつくしている……って、これは何だ。 What the hell just happened? Asahina-san had vanished before my eyes. She was dragged into the car, and that car had sped off and was now out of sight, leaving me standing on the roadside all alone... Just what was this?
「誘拐……!」 “Kidnapped...!?”
しかも俺の目の前でか。すぐ横に俺がいたのにか。手を伸ばせば届く、それどころか抱きしめてもいいくらいの距離にいた朝比奈さんが、数秒前までいた朝比奈さんが、今はいないのだ。こんなバカなことがあるか。 And right under my nose as well. I could’ve stopped it if I had reached my arm out, even if it meant I had to grab her body. Asahina-san, who was standing so close to me just a few seconds ago, was no longer here. Can something this ridiculous actually happen!?
「くそっ! なんてこった!」 “Damn it!! I don’t believe this!!”
何が慌てたといって、こんなに慌てたことは十二月にハルヒが教室にいなかったとき以来だった。ハルヒの代わりに朝倉がやって来た、あの時に匹敵した。 I don’t think I’ve been this terrified since finding out Haruhi had disappeared from the classroom last December. The last time I was this shocked was when I discovered that Asakura had replaced Haruhi sitting behind me.
「しまった!」 “Shit!”
あの野郎か!? これは昨日のあの野郎の仕業か。だとしたらナメすぎていた。あいつの登場の仕方やキャラは、俺を油断させるための作りだったのか。どうとでもなりそうな印象を俺に抱かせ、注意を散漫にする仕掛けだったとしたら----。 Was it that Sneering Bastard!? Was he behind all this!? If it really was, then I had underestimated him. Could it be that his terrible timing in appearance and choice of character was all just a ruse to distract me? If that was really just a trap to divert my attention by thinking he posed no threat at all…
「朝比奈さん!」 “ASAHINA-SAN!!!”
耳障りな音が鼓膜を直撃する。強風で桜の木々が揺れる音ではない。俺の顔面から血の気が引いていく音だ。 A loud sound vibrated my eardrums. It wasn’t the sound of the wind blowing through the cherry blossom trees, but the sound coming out of my now completely pale face.
俺は携帯電話をつかみ出した。誰かに助けを求めなければならない。この際誰でもいい。朝比奈さんを俺のもとに戻してくれるならば、警察でも消防署でも自衛隊でも商工会議所でもかまわなかった。俺の指は半自動的に動き、どこにかけているのか自分でも解らないまま呼び出し音が耳を打ち、すぐに相手が出た。 I took out my cell-phone, I could only rely on help from others now. Anyone would do, as long as I can bring Asahina-san back, it didn’t matter whether it was the police, fire fighters, the Self-Defense Forces or even the Chamber of Commerce. My fingers began to push the numbers on their own, not even knowing who I was dialing. I only knew that I heard a dial tone on the other end and someone answering it,
『どうしたの? キョン』 “What now, Kyon?”
ハルヒの声だ。とっさのことで半ば意識をなくしていたあまり、ハルヒの携帯にかけてしまったようだが、この時の俺は思考力のほとんどを失っていた。 It was Haruhi’s voice. As it all happened too suddenly, not to mention I wasn’t completely back to my senses, I ended up calling Haruhi. By this time my brain was already not functioning properly,
「ハルヒ大変だ! 朝比奈さんが誘拐された!」 “Haruhi we’ve got a problem! Asahina-san’s been kidnapped!”
ただそう叫ぶ俺に、 I called for reinforcements without even thinking...
『はぁ? 何言ってんの?』 “Wha? What are you talking about?”
ハルヒの声はひたすら悠長だった。胃袋がでんぐり返りそうになりながら、俺は再度叫ぶ。 Haruhi’s voice sounded very casual. Feeling anxious, I yelled once again,
「だから朝比奈さんが誘拐されたんだよ! 急いで助けないと……!」 “I said Asahina-san’s been kidnapped! If we don’t hurry and rescue her...”
『ねえ、キョン』 “Hey, Kyon,”
ハルヒは優しさを感じるほどの声で、 Haruhi spoke in a nearly elegant voice,
『どういうつもりか知んないけど、もうちょっとマシなイタ電をかけてきなさいよ。くっだらない。なにそれ、どういうつもり? みくるちゃんならずっとあたしの側にいるわよ。有希ならまだ話はわかるけど』 “I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but before you decide to make a prank call, you ought to sort out your script and try not to be too ridiculous. What’s wrong with your brain? Saying stuff like this. Mikuru-chan’s standing right next to me. If you had said it was Yuki, then I might have believed you.”
「違う、長門じゃない。朝比奈さんが……」 “No! It’s not Nagato! It’s Asahina-san...”
言いかけて無駄だと気づく。そう、今、朝比奈さんはハルヒと一緒にいる。その朝比奈さんは元からここにいた朝比奈さんで、掃除用具入れから現れたほうの朝比奈さんではなく、そっちの朝比奈さんはと言うと、車で連れさらわれて----。 By this time I suddenly realized, it was useless no matter how I explained it to Haruhi. That’s right, right now in this time period, Asahina-san was with Haruhi. Only that it was the original Asahina-san from this time period, and not the Asahina-san that appeared in the broom closet. Speaking of that Asahina-san, the one that just got abducted by the car...
『減点一。すぐにバレる嘘なんて程度低いわ。それにね、冗談なら笑えるものにしなさいよ。じゃあね、バカキョン』 “You fail for making such a lame prank that gets exposed so easily. Besides, pranks are supposed to be funny. I don’t have time for this, you idiot Kyon!”
「待っ----」 “No! Wait...”
切れた。 The phone was cut off.
携帯電話を持つ俺の手が震えている。一刻を争うときにハルヒにかけている場合ではなかった。言われるまでもなく俺はバカだ。急報を告げる先はハルヒではなく……。 My hand trembled as I held the cell-phone. I shouldn’t have called Haruhi in such a situation where every second counts. I didn’t even need her to tell me that I was an idiot. Even when asking for reinforcements, I shouldn’t have asked Haruhi for them...
着信音が鳴り響く。 The phone began ringing.
誰がかけてきたかを確認せずに俺は通話ボタンを押した。 Without even finding out who it was, I answered it.
『もしもし』 “Hello?”
古泉の声だった。俺が何か言うより早く、 It was Koizumi’s voice. Before I could speak...
『ご安心ください、涼宮さんたちとは離れた場所からかけています。ええ、トイレに行くと言って席を外させてもらったんです』 “Don’t worry. Suzumiya-san and Asahina-san aren’t with me right now. Well, I told them I needed to go to the bathroom and excused myself,”
知るか。どうでもいいんだ。それよりも、 Who cares about that!? That’s not the issue here, what’s important is...
「古泉! 朝比奈さんが、」 “Koizumi! Asahina-san has...”
『|状 況は把握できています。僕にお任せください。そろそろあなたの前に到着するかと』 “I understand the situation. Leave it to me, they should be coming to you soon,”
「何が来るんだって?」 “Who’s coming to me soon?”
俺が重度の立ちくらみに襲われながら顔を上げると、まるで計ったようなタイミングで新たな車がピタリと止まった。黒塗りのタクシーだ。どこの会社のものかは解らないが見覚えはある。かつて俺は同じ車に乗り、〈神人〉に会いに行かされた。 Feeling very baffled, I lifted my head. As if on cue, a taxi had stopped right in front of me. It was a black taxi. I wasn’t sure which cab company it was from, but it seemed familiar. I remember riding on such a taxi when Koizumi conned me to visit some “Avatars”.
その車が後部ドアを開いた。 The back door of the taxi opened.
「乗ってください。急いで」 “Get in, hurry!”
後部座席にいた先客が俺を手で招く。俺は飛び込むようにして車内に転がり込んだ。見覚えのある車の中にいるのは顔見知りの姿だった。事態を飲み込むより先にドアが締まり、急激なGが掩の身体を座席にめり込ませる。 The passenger in the back seat waved to me, and I quickly leapt into the car. Sitting in the familiar car was a familiar figure. Before I could digest the situation, the door had already closed and I was instantly thrust back to my seat by the sudden force caused by the car moving off.
「すぐに追いつきます」 “We’ll now begin the pursuit,”
横からかかった涼しげな声にも聞き覚えがあった。夏、冬と散々お世話になった彼女の名前を忘れるわけにはいかない。 A clear crisp voice said by my side, it sounded familiar. As I’ve met her during the summer and winter, I couldn’t have so easily forgotten her name.
「森……森|園生さん?」 “M, Mori Sonou-san?”
「ご無沙汰しておりました」 “It’s been a while.”
たかだか一ヶ月ちょいだ。ご無沙汰というほどのものではない。しかしどうしてここに森さんがいるんだ。それも俺が見慣れたメイド装束ではなく、普通に道を歩くOLみたいな普段着で? It’s actually only been a month since we last met, so it wasn’t exactly a while. But, what was Mori-san doing here? And she wasn’t dressed in the familiar maid uniform, but in an office lady attire that could be found everywhere.
森さんはいつもの落ち着いた笑みを浮かべ、 Mori-san revealed her usual smile and said,
「古泉が説明しませんでしたか? わたしも『機関』の一員です。メイドは世を忍ぶ仮の姿、あなたがたとご一緒する時だけのパートタイムです」 “Didn’t Koizumi explain to you before? I too am a member of the ‘Organization’. The maid was just one of my disguises, and that was only limited to the time I spent with you.”
目を運転席に移動させ、森さんは安心させるようにうなずいた。 As though trying to assure me, Mori-san turned her gaze towards the driver’s seat and nodded,
「わたしだけではなく、彼も」 “And it’s not just me. He is the same as well,”
ハンドルを操っていた左手を挙げ、運転手がバックミラー越しに俺と視線を合わせた。 Lifting up the left hand which was on the steering wheel, the driver exchanged glances with me through the rear-view mirror.
「新川さん……」 “Arakawa-san...”
「左様でございます」 “Greetings.”
料理のうまい執事であり、そして今はハイスピードで飛ばすタクシードライバーとなっている初老の紳士は、 He was a butler who could cook brilliantly before, but now he was a taxi driver driving at top speed. The elderly gentleman now said,
「あの愛らしいお嬢さまを拐かすとは、狼籍にもほどがありますな。逃がすわけにはいきますまい」 “There is a limit to being aggressive. They’ve gone too far by kidnapping that adorable lady. We won’t let them get away with this.”
さらにアクセルを踏み込み、俺はますます座席にへばりつく。凄まじい速度の車に乗っているという恐怖がわき起こり、しかし、おかげで凍っていた頭がほどけ始めた。 As he stepped on the gas pedal once again, I was thrust even further into my seat. A fear began to creep on me as I realized I was riding in a car that was driving at a terrifying speed, yet at the same time, my stiff brain was beginning to become flexible once again.
森さんと新川さん。二人は古泉の仲間で、メイドも執事もパートタイマーであるのは知っていた。まさかこんなところで会うとは思わなかった。それも朝比奈さんが誘拐された直後に、見計らったように車に乗ってくるとは……って、そうか。 Mori-san and Arakawa-san. I knew they were both Koizumi's accomplices, I also knew the maid and butler appearance was just their part-time job. Yet I never thought I would meet them again in this situation, it’s as though they had expected Asahina-san to be kidnapped and sent a car to support me... Aha, that’s it,
「こうなることが解っていたんだ」 “Now it all makes sense,”
俺は絞り出すように言った。 I finally managed to speak,
「朝比奈さんが誘拐されるって、あなたたちも古泉も解っていたんでしょう。だから、俺たちのすぐそばで待機していた。そうなんですね」 “So you guys and Koizumi knew Asahina-san would get kidnapped, and so have been closely watching us while standing by in case it happens, right?”
「いいえ」 “On the contrary,”
森さんは女版古泉のような笑顔を続けている。 Mori-san said while giving a female version of Koizumi’s smile,
「わたしたちがマークしていたのは、あなたがたではなく彼らのほうです。彼らの車があなたがたに接近するのを見て、よもやと思いました。わたしたちも彼らがこのような行動を起こすとは意外でした」 “Our initial target was them, not you. When we saw their car approaching you, we knew things were getting bad. We did not expect them to take such an action.”
「彼らってのは誰のことですか」 “Who do you mean by ‘they’?”
俺が思い浮かべているのは、昨日の野郎だが。 The image of the Sneering Bastard from yesterday appeared in my head.
「それも古泉が説明しませんでしたか? 朝比奈さんを誘拐した人々は、我々『機関』に敵対する組織の手の者です」 “Didn’t Koizumi tell you this as well? The people that have kidnapped Asahina-san are from a group that's hostile to our ‘Organization’.”
こうなったらどこのどいつでもいい。許さないのは未来人だろうと超能力者でも同じだ。 If that's the case, then it didn't matter whether they were time travelers or espers, their actions were equally unforgivable.
「どうして朝比奈さんを……」 “Why would they want to kidnap Asahina-san?”
「おそらく勇み足です。未来への優位性を今のうちに確保したかったのでしょうね」 “Maybe they were getting desperately anxious. They probably resorted to such means in order to secure their privileged position in the future.”
優位性? Privileged position?
「そうです。未来に貸しを作っておく、そのために彼女の身柄を押さえるつもりだったのだと思います。でも、間違ってしまいましたね。彼らが本当に誘拐したかったのは、いま古泉と一緒にいるほうの朝比奈みくるさんだったでしょうから」 “Yes. I think they plan to use her as a bargaining chip with the future authorities. The problem for them is that they've got the wrong person. They should really be kidnapping the Asahina Mikuru-san that is with Koizumi right now,”
何やら途方もないことを、森さんは何気なく言う。 Mori-san described something unbelievable as though it were a daily occurrence.
「ずさんな計画です。よほど慌てていたのでしょう。彼らがどうしてこんな急に動き出したのか、調査の必要がありますね」 “It doesn't seemed like they had planned this action properly, and this was only decided hastily. We would need to investigate why they would suddenly decide to take action now.”
あの変な野郎の登場も急だった。新手の未来人。あいつが現れたせいか。 The appearance of that Sneering Bastard was also quite sudden. A new group of time travelers, could that be caused by that bastard's appearance?
森さんは俺の心を読んだように首肯して、 As though able to read my mind, Mori-san nodded and said,
「本格的に手を組むことにしたのでしょうね。これは我々も黙視できません」 “The fact that they've joined forces this time means they're serious. We cannot simply do nothing about it.”
「その、『機関』とかは……」 “Excuse me, is the 'Organization'...”
俺の、と言いたいところを何とかこらえ、 I stopped short of saying “my ally”.
「俺たちの味方でいいんですか?」 “Standing on our side?”
「我々の望みは現状|維持です。それでは不足でしょうか?」 “We simply wish to maintain the status quo, is that not enough?”
お釣りの余地が発生しないくらい過不足ない。ではあいつらは、朝比奈さんを誘拐したその彼らとやらは何を考えているんだ。だいたい、それって何者なんだ。俺たちの味方でなければ、敵になるわけか。いったいどんな奴らなんだ? As there was nothing to bargain about in the first place, I didn't know whether that was too little or too much. Those bastards, the people that had kidnapped Asahina-san, just what were they thinking? Or rather, who on earth were they? If they weren't on our side, were they our enemy? And if so, what kind of enemy?
「『機関』と対立する組織、朝比奈みくるさんと対立する未来の人たち、そして、長門有希さんを作り出した地球外意識体とは別の宇宙規模存在」 “They consist of a rival group hostile to the 'Organization', a band of time travelers opposing Asahina Mikuru-san's faction, and an extra-terrestrial cosmic entity different from the one that created Nagato Yuki-san,”
森さんはさっぱりした口調で言い切った。 Mori-san explained clearly to me,
「そろそろ手を出してくる頃だと思いました。年始の雪山については古泉から報告を受けていましたから。その三つが同盟することもありえます。いえ、間違いなくするでしょう。涼宮ハルヒさんには賭けるだけの価値があります。すべてを失うかもしれない、けれど見返りも大きい」 “We had a feeling that they would join forces sooner or later, after hearing Koizumi's report about the incident in the snow mountain. Those three forces are probably forming an alliance, no, we believe they have already formed an alliance. Suzumiya Haruhi-san was a gamble worth taking for them, it's either win-all or lose-all,”
車体が飛び跳ねるように揺れた。踏切を一時停止せずに横断した黒塗りタクシーは、S字状コーナーをまったく減速することなくタイヤを軋ませながら駆け抜ける。 The whole car shook as though leaping upwards. Upon reaching a cross-junction, the black taxi charged through the traffic lights without stopping, and didn't even slow down when going through an S-curve, continuing to move ahead at top speed.
「古泉も、あなたたちも」 “Then, Koizumi and you guys...”
俺は早くも車酔いしかけながら、 Already feeling dizzy, I said,
「もう一人の朝比奈さんのことも知ってたんですね? 一週間後から来た、あの朝比奈さんが鶴屋さんの家に匿われていることを」 “Already knew that there was another Asahina-san? And you also knew that this Asahina-san from a week later would stay in Tsuruya-san's place?”
「もし彼女がいなければ、もう一人の朝比奈みくるさんが誘拐されていたかもしれません。涼宮ハルヒさんの目の前で」 “If it weren't for her, the other Asahina Mikuru-san would have been kidnapped instead, and it would have been right in front of Suzumiya Haruhi-san's eyes.”
そんなことになれば最悪だ。ハルヒがどう出るか解らない。 Things would really be bad if that were to happen. No one could know just what action Haruhi would take.
「てーことは……」 “In that case...”
未来からきた朝比奈さんが過去の朝比奈さんの身代わりで誘拐された。つまり、過去の自分を助けるために未来の自分がさらわれる、と。こういうことか。だから朝比奈さん(みちる)がここにいることが必要だったのか。朝比奈さん(大)の手紙にあったお使いプレイは俺一人でもできた。俺と朝比奈さんが一緒にいて、俺一人ではあまり意味がなかったこととは何だった? 別口の未来人。亀と少年。そして誘拐。朝比奈さん(大)だけがすべてを知っている。 The Asahina-san from the future was acting as a decoy for the present Asahina-san. In other words, in order to protect her past self from getting kidnapped, she would have to allow her future self to be kidnapped instead, right? So that's how it is. It was necessary for Asahina (Michiru)-san to travel back to the past after all. To be honest, I could have handled all those instructions from Asahina-san (big) all on my own without any problem, but now I understood why she wanted me to bring Asahina-san along, or there would be no meaning to it. The other time traveler. The turtle and the boy. And the kidnapping. Only Asahina-san (big) would know the full story.
俺が得体の知れない情動を抱きかけたとき、 As I was busy going into deep thought...
「見失わないで、新川」 “Don't let them out of your sight, Arakawa,”
「承知しております」 “I know.”
二人の声が俺の意識を前方に向けさせた。モスグリーンの車体が見えてきた。猛スピードなのは両者とも変わらない。走り出してからここまで、それこそ交通事故の三つや四つをしてもおかしくない交通法規無視っぷりだが、新川さんのドライビングテクニックはWRCレベルに達していた。執事の能力を超えている。 Their voices now directed my attention to the front of the car, I could now see the teal minivan ahead of us. Both vehicles were now cruising at insane speeds. Ever since the pursuit began, it wouldn't have been surprising if there were three to four accidents on the way. Judging from his drifting techniques while disregarding the traffic signals, Arakawa-san's driving skills were well beyond that of a normal butler, but more like that of a WRC driver.
誘拐犯の車は山に向かっているらしい。このまま進めば秋に映画|撮影を敢行した森林公園を越えてさらに北へ行ってしまう。ほぼ山道しかない、人里離れたところだ。くそ、そんなところに朝比奈さんを連れて行って何をしようってんだ。許さん。 The kidnappers' car now headed towards the mountains and very soon went past the forest park, where we had our outdoor shooting for our movie back in autumn, and went even further north. There was nothing but mountainous roads there. Damn! Just what do they plan to do with Asahina-san in such a god forsaken place? Unforgivable!
俺は先行する車の車体後部を睨みつける。ワンボックスで、モスグリーン。あの時のあの車と同じ車種だ。先月、眼鏡少年を跳ね飛ばしかけたものとまったく同じ。間違いない。どう考えても中に乗っているヤツは味方ではないな。 My gaze remains fixed on the rear of that teal minivan. It was the same car as the one last time. The exact same model as the one that nearly ran down the Bespectacled Boy last month. There's no mistake about it. The guys on that car were from a different world from ours.
めちゃめちゃな速度で走る誘拐犯車は、ついに舗装道路を外れ、本格的な山道に突入した。巧みにハンドルを切った新川さんがぴったり後をついていく。崖に無理やり作ったような道で、車二台がようやくすれ違うくらいの幅しかなく、ガードレールもなかった。ハンドル操作を誤ったりしたら、そのまま麓まで転がり落ちるようなところである。 Driving at an insane speed, the kidnappers' car now left the tarmac road and entered a really mountainous road. Arakawa switched gears elegantly and followed them closely behind. The roads were basically carved out from the edge of a cliff, and the curves were just wide enough to accommodate two cars drifting past it, they weren't even equipped with safety rails. If either driver lost concentration for even a moment, they would plunge with the car straight into the depths of the ravine.
まさかカーチェイスをすることになるとは予想外だったが、そんな|状 況を気にするほど俺は冷静でもない。いかにして誘拐犯をぶん殴るかばかりを考えるあまりカツカツだ。 :(no translation)
その俺の闘志に水を差すように、携帯電話が鳴り始めた。俺が握ったままでいた携帯ではなく、森さんが自分のものを取り出して耳に当てる。 As though trying to distract our attention, a cell phone rang, but it wasn't my cell phone. Mori-san took out her cell phone and answered,
言葉の内容までは解らないが、男の声らしきものが俺の耳にも届いた。しばらく黙って聞いていた森さんは、 :(no translation)
「解りました。手はず通りに」 “Understood. Everything will go according to plan,”
短く答えて通信を終え、優美に鋭い声を前席に飛ばした。 She gave a simple reply and then hung up, and then said to the front seat with an elegant and clear voice,
「新川、まもなくです」 “Arakawa, we're almost there,”
「かしこまりました」 “No problem,”
頼りがいのある声で新川さんはうなずき、ギアをシフトダウンさせてエンジンブレーキを効かせる。どうするつもりなのかと尋ねるヒマはなかった。 Arakawa nodded and said with a very reliable voice, and switched to a low gear, disengaging the engine. Before I could even ask what he was doing,
「うわっ!」 “WHOA!”
ちょうど未舗装道路の弧を描くように湾曲した部分にさしかかっていた。その曲がり角、俺たちの進行方向から、パトカーが対向車線上に躍り出て来た。しかも急ブレーキをかけたパトカーは見事なドリフトをかましながら横腹を見せて停車、完全に道をふさぐ。 The car came to a rocky unpainted round curve, just before the road turns into a corner. From that corner where we were headed, a police car rushed out, and did a beautiful drift before stopping horizontally across the road, blocking all access forward.
行き場をなくしたワンボックスカーがフルブレーキ、土煙を巻き起こして急激な減速にかかる。片輪が崖を越えそうになった一瞬には俺が肝を冷やしたが、誘拐犯側のドライバーも腕前は確かだった。強引に体勢を立て直すと横滑りするような曲芸を見せ、一回転ののち、さらに半回転。ノーズを山際に擦りつつもパトカーの側面ギリギリで停車した。 Without anywhere to go, the minivan was forced to brake, creating a cloud of dust as it decelerated rapidly. When one of its wheels stuck over the cliff for a moment, my heart nearly stopped, but the kidnappers were just as skilled at driving. Forcibly shifting its position, as though performing a car stunt, the minivan spun for one and a half turns, creating an annoying screeching sound. It nearly bumped the side of the police car when it finally came to a halt in a parallel position.
新川さんは同様の手順を安全かつスローでおこない、やはり横向きに黒塗りタクシーを止める。挟みうちだ。これでワンボックスカーの逃げ場は崖下しかない。 Arakawa-san also did the same and stopped the car in a parallel position, albeit slowly and safely. Surrounded from both sides, the only route the minivan could go was straight down the cliff.
「新川はここで待機」 “Arakawa, stay here and standby,”
森さんはそう言うと、ドアを自ら開いて山道に降り立った。俺も後に続いて、ワンボックスカーに駆けよろうとしたところで森さんに腕を掴まれた。 Upon saying that, Mori-san opened the door and stepped out of the road. I followed her and got out as well, as I was about to rush to the minivan, Mori-san grabbed me by the shoulder.
俺を目で制した森さんは、よく通る声を誘拐犯の車に向けた。 Mori-san stopped me with a look in her eyes, then said to the kidnappers' car in a clear voice,
「エンジンを切って出ていらっしゃい。今ならまだ間に合います」 “Please turn off your engine and step out of the car. There's still time for you to comply.”
丁重な口調は変わらず、ただし孤島の館や鶴屋さんの山荘で聞いた彼女の声とは種類が違っている。 She still said in a solemn tone, yet it sounded different from the one I heard in the lone island mansion or in Tsuruya-san's snow mountain mansion.
パトカーからは警官が降りてきた。ぱりっとした制服を着こなしたその人を見て、俺はまたしても仰天する。親指を立てて微笑みかけた多丸弟、裕さんの好青年顔が制帽の下にある。運転席ではその兄、多丸|圭一さんがこれまた人のよい顔で俺に目でうなずきかけていた。 A police officer stepped out of the police car, and I was stunned to see the person wearing that tidy police uniform. Under that police hat raising his thumb towards me was the face of Yutaka-san, the younger sibling of the Tamaru brothers. Sitting on the driver's seat was his older brother, Tamaru Keiichi-san, who gave me a polite salute with his friendly face.
森さんの電話の相手はこの二人だったのか。 So were they the ones who Mori-san had spoken on the phone?
「朝比奈みくるさんを降ろしなさい。あなたがたは失敗しました。これ以上、捩れを大きくする必要はありません」 “Release Asahina Mikuru-san at once. Your plan has failed. There is no need to make things any more complicated than they already are.”
森さんの凛とした声が俺の注意を車に戻す。ブラックシートを貼られているため、相手の車の中は窺えず、ヤキモキする気持ちを抑えられない俺がワンボックスカーに蹴りの一つでも入れようかと身を乗り出したとき、アイドリング状態にあったエンジンが沈黙し、モスグリーンのサイドドアが動き出した。ゆっくり開いていくのはせめてもの抵抗をしようという表れか。 Mori-san's authoritative voice had shifted my attention back to the minivan. As the windows were coated with a dark film, the interior could not be seen. Just as I was about to lose my temper and rush towards the minivan, even if it means giving it a kick, the engine had already gone silent and the slide door had also begun to move. Does this mean they no longer intend to resist?
しかし、姿を現した誘拐犯の人相|風体を見た俺は、しばし目を見開いた。無言で降りてくるクソ野郎どもは、いたって意外なことに屈強な強面でも精悍な兵隊顔でもなく、そこらの街中を普通に歩いていそうな若い男女だった。連中の顔を一生涯忘れるものかと穴のあくほど見つめていても、取り立てて悪どい顔をしていないのが逆に気にかかる。 But, when I saw the kidnappers reveal themselves, my eyes were widened with astonishment. The kidnappers, who remained silent, were not some tough-faced macho-men, but a group of young men and women you'd find anywhere in the street. Even if I were to remember each of their faces, the biggest impression they made would be that they didn't look sinister at all.
だが、そんな疑問もぐったりした朝比奈さんを見つけた俺にとってはどうでもいいこととなって弾け飛んだ。最後に降車してきた女に支えられた朝比奈さんは、意識を失っているのだろう、目を閉じてぐんにゃりしている。 However, those doubts were soon cast off into the distance when I saw Asahina-san looking exhausted inside the car. Carried by the last woman to come off the car, Asahina-san seems to have lost consciousness as her eyes have closed, looking completely like a clay statue.
やっぱり許さん。 Absolutely unforgivable!
飛び出しかけた俺を、また森さんが制止、 I was once again stopped by Mori-san for trying to rush over again.
「解っているでしょうけど申し上げておきます。その人にかすり傷の一つでもつけているようなことがあれば」 “I'm sure you all understand now, but allow me to repeat this again: If you even lay a finger on her...”
その妖絶な笑みを見て、俺はふがいなくも腰が抜けそうになった。これほど美人の笑顔が恐いと思ったことはない。ハルヒが時たま見せる、笑いながら怒ってるような顔とはランクと凄みが違う。 My legs softened at the sight of her sinister-looking smile. Who would have thought that such a beautiful lady would have such a terrifying smile? This makes the smiles Haruhi makes whenever she has something in mind pale in comparison.
俺が凍りついた気配を感じたのだろう、森さんは例のメイド的な微笑をいったん俺に向けてから、あたらめて大馬鹿誘拐犯たちへ、 Perhaps sensing I was nearly petrified, Mori-san turned towards me with her maid-like smile once again, and then turned back to those bastard kidnappers,
「素直に解放なさいませ。この場は見逃して差し上げます。自分たちの組織にお戻りになるなり、どこへでもお行きになってください。でないと----」 “Release her and I will let you go. It doesn't matter whether you return to your own organization or wherever. Otherwise...”
森さんの微笑みはさらに凄惨になり、俺はもはや卒倒しそうだ。もし俺があの男たちの立場でこの顔を向けられていたら、盛大にチビっているかもしれん。 Mori-san's smile was now more terrifying than before, I think I'm about to faint. If I were one of those kidnappers, I'd probably shrink into a pea upon seeing such a smile.
しかし犯人たちは、立ったまま漏らす代わりに舌打ちをして、朝比奈さんから手を離した。寝顔の朝比奈さんがくたりと車のタイヤにもたれかかり、しゃがみ込むように尻餅をつく。誘拐犯たちの手つきが壊れ物を扱うようであったのが救いだ。もし麗しの朝比奈さんを突き飛ばすようなことをしたら、俺は何事かを喚きながら両手をぐるぐる回しつつ連中に突進していただろう。 Yet those kidnappers weren't intimidated at all, but simply snorted and released Asahina-san. The Sleeping Beauty Asahina-san now leaned against the wheel and sat on the ground. These kidnappers merely saved their asses by treating her as though she were a fragile object. If they even dare try to toss such a beauty, I'm seriously gonna yell like mad and give those bastards a taste of my fury.
「車はのちほど輸送にてお返しします。どうぞ、徒歩でお帰りを」 “I will have the towing company return the car to you later. Please walk down the mountain from here.”
森さんは平然と指先を崖下に向けた。ここを下りて帰れということだろう。やろうと思えば下山することもできるだろうが、登山道具もなしに下りていくのは至難の業だ。いい気味ではあったが、 Mori-san pointed solemnly towards the cliff. Though she asked them to “walk down the mountain”, but the problem was that they had no climbing equipment. She was basically giving them hell, but for some reason, I felt extremely satisfied.
「しかたがないわね」 “Looks like we have no choice,”
誘拐犯の一人が、場と身の程をわきまえていないような明るい声で言った。 One of the kidnappers said, as though oblivious to her current situation,
「だいたい予想していたけど、やっぱりダメでした。これも必然だったのかしら」 “We kind of expected it, but we still failed. I guess this was all predetermined,”
朝比奈さんを降ろしてきた紅一点だった。あらためて注目してみると、その女はどうみてもミドルティーンだ。年代的に俺と違うところが見いだせない。 Dressed in red and still sitting inside the car, the one that spoke was the woman who carried Asahina-san out of the car. No matter how I look at her, she is relatively young, about the same age as myself.
そいつは華やかな笑顔を俺に差し出すように、 As though trying to flirt with me, that lady gave a smile like a flower blossoming,
「初めまして。こんなところで顔合わせっても何だけど会えて光栄だわ。いずれは正式に挨拶しようと思ってたんだけどね」 “Nice to meet you. I never thought we would meet under such circumstances, despite this, I'm still deeply honored. I had originally planned to find a suitable occasion to pay you a visit.”
そいつは身振りで仲間に合図をした。女一人を残し、他の運中は大して未練を感じているわけでもなさそうに車を離れる。最後尾にいた大学生風の男が几帳面にも車のサイドドアを閉め、それからほぼ垂直に切り立っている崖へと足を巡らせる。一人、二人と冬の森の中に消えていくが、森さんも多丸裕さんも捕らえるつもりはないらしい。 The lady made some gestures with her body language. Besides herself, the others had already stepped out of the car. The university-student like guy that came out last gave a stern face while shutting the door, and then headed for the nearly steep slope. After seeing one after another disappearing into the forest in the winter, it seems Mori-san and Tamaru Yutaka-san had no intention of bringing them to justice.
俺は一刻も早く朝比奈さんに駆け寄りたいものの、森さんはまだ俺の腕を取って離してくれない。くすりと笑い声を上げたのは誘拐女だった。 I desperately wanted to run over to Asahina-san's side, but Mori-san's hand still remained on my shoulder. The kidnapper lady now giggled,
「心配しなくていいよ。あなたの未来人さんには擦過傷もつけていないから。麻酔薬を嗅がせて眠ってもらったけど、自分がどういう目に遭ったのかも覚えてないんじゃないかしら。あんまりすぐに寝てくれたもんだから、こっちが驚いたくらい。眠らされ慣れをしているのでしょうか?」 “Don't you worry. Your precious time-traveler hasn't been harmed at all. We merely let her smell some anesthetics and put her to sleep. Who knows, she probably wouldn't remember what had happened. To be honest, we were quite surprised that she would fall asleep so quickly. Is she used to getting knocked out like that?”
仲間がいなくなっても、その女いや、少女だなは悠然と構えている。いつまでそうさせているんですか森さん。誘拐犯ですよ、誘拐犯。多丸さん兄弟も、そんな格好しているんだったらワッパの一つでも持っているでしょう。 Despite the departure of her comrades, that lady - or I should say, young girl - still remained nonchalant. Mori-san, just how long do you intend to let her continue with her cockiness? She's a kidnapper, an unforgivable kidnapper! By the way, if you Tamaru brothers are going to be dressed like that, I'm sure your costumes come with handcuffs, right?
俺が抗議行動を起こそうと心に決めたとき、誰も乗っていないはずのワンボックスカーのサイドドアが内側から開かれた。 As I was about to protest, one of the doors to the minivan that should have been empty had now opened.
「つまらないな」 “This is no fun,”
ひょっこり顔を出した男、その野郎は古泉の五倍は邪悪な笑みを浮かべていた。 The guy sticking his head out suddenly revealed a smile five times more evil than if Koizumi were to smile evilly,
「簡単にやられすぎだ。こうもあっさりお姫様を奪い返されるとは、もうちょっと粘りが欲しかった。これでは逆効果にしかならない」 “I can't believe we got cornered so easily. If you want your Sleeping Beauty back, you can have her. We were supposed to last for a little longer, but now things have become worse for us.”
車から降りようとはせず、そいつは泰然とシートにもたれ掛かっている。昨日のあいつだ。意味ありげに現れた第二の未来人|野郎が、 He remained seated casually on his seat. It was the bastard from yesterday, the second time traveler with his own agenda. The Sneering Bastard continued,
「これも規定|事項だよ。だが僕らにとってもそうなんだ。だから、どうってことはない」 “This is a predetermined event, too. For us as well, that is. So you can't blame us.”
「あなたもお帰りください」 “You must leave as well, please,”
森さんは優しいお姉さんの口調で言った。| 唇 は毒の花のような笑み。 Mori-san said like an elegant big sister, her lips revealing a smile as deadly as a poison ivy,
「それともしばらく逗留するのですか? ならば寝床をご用意して差し上げます」 “Or do you wish to remain here longer? We will gladly prepare a sleeping bag for you.”
「あんたたちの世話にはならない」 “Don't even bother,”
野郎は朝比奈さんを見下ろし、ふん、と鼻を鳴らすと、邪眼みたいな目を俺に向け、 The Sneering Bastard gazed at Asahina-san, snorted loudly, and then stared at me with an evil eye.
「これは失敗じゃない。単なる歴史的事実なんだ。ご苦労なことさ。あんたも朝比奈みくるも。なあ、あんた、踊らされていて楽しいか? 僕はごめんだね。解っていることをそのままなぞるなんて嫌気が差す」 “Our mission this time did not end in failure. We merely allowed history to follow its course. Great job guys, whether it's you or Asahina Mikuru. Oh yeah, let me ask you, how does it feel to have your limbs manipulated like a puppet? I definitely won't be pleased, as I hate following arranged scripts, especially ones where you already know the ending!”
「あら、それもいいんじゃないかしら」 “Well, I wouldn't mind if that were to happen to me,”
誘拐少女が言った。 The kidnapper girl said.
「未来がどれだけ決まっているって言うの? 正しい結果に向かって道を外れないように歩くのも芸の一つじゃないかしら。踊るだけなら誰でもできるけど、指定された振り付けを正確に踊るのは難しいわ」 “You tell me, how many futures have been decided? It requires a bit of skill to follow through to the correct outcome without deviating from the intended path, you know. While anyone can dance easily, it's very difficult having to dance correctly as instructed.”
「ふん、なら踊っていればいい。僕はお前たちの力などあてにしていない」 “Hmph! You can dance all you like! I never expected anything from you people,”
「そうなの?」 “Oh really?”
少女は面白がるように、 The kidnapper girl said amusingly,
「あたしはそれでもいいけど、どうせ同じところに集まるのでしょう? 力を合わせていきましょうよ」 “I personally wouldn't mind at all. Since our objectives are the same, let's continue to work together!”
| 忌 々しそうに表情を歪めたその野郎は、またしても俺を睨みつけた。言っておくが、ハルヒの眼光を浴び続けて久しい俺は、その程度ではひるまないんだ。視殺戦なら受けて立とうじゃないか。 His handsome face distorted by hatred, the Sneering Bastard began staring at me once again. Let me put this straight, as a regular receiver of Haruhi's intense glare, your staring is nothing compared to hers. If you want to play a staring game with me, you're all the more welcome to do so.
俺の殺気を悟ったか、そいつは例の憎々しい顔で、 Perhaps sensing my hostile aura, the bastard muttered,
「愚か者だらけだ。どいつもこいつも。てんで解っちゃいない。あんたの無知には恐怖を覚える」 “Fools! Every one of you! I just can't understand. You're all so tragically ignorant!”
そいつはドアの手すりに手をかけ、最後に俺にこう言いやがった。 The bastard held the car door handle and threw this parting shot to me,
「また来る。あんたとは何度か顔をつきあわさないといけないんだ。バカバカしい。しかし僕の役目でもある」 “I'll be back. We'll run into each other many times, you fool! But that's my job.”
言うことはそれだけだったらしく、そいつはドアを閉じた。 It seems like that's all he wanted to say, as he slammed the door shut after saying that.
誰も動かなかった。森さんは恐い笑みのまま誘拐少女を見据えて動かず、俺は森さんのせいで動けない。名前を言おうともしない誘拐犯の少女もまた微笑したまま立っていたが、思い出したように車に近寄り、ドアを勢いよく開けた。 No one present made any movement. Mori-san maintained her terrifying smile, and just stared at the kidnapper girl. While I couldn't move thanks to Mori-san holding me back. The nameless kidnapper girl remained standing with a smile, then as though thinking of something, she approached the car and opened the door.
そうしなくても誰もいないのは解っていた。車内に人影はなく、敵意をまとわりつかせるあの野郎などどこにもいない。空間移動か時間移動か、まあどっちでも俺の目の前から消えてくれたのは喜ばしいことだ。 Even if she didn't do that, I already knew the car was now empty. There was no one inside, and the bastard who basically had a sign saying “I hate you” on his face had vanished without a trace. I couldn't care less whether he traveled through time or space, to see such an eyesore of a freak disappear in front of my eyes was a thing worth celebrating.
「あたしも、さよなら」 “I should take my leave as well,”
少女が仕事を終えたとばかりに両手を打ち払い、山道の下を覗き込んだ。 Clapping her hands as though accomplishing her mission, the kidnapper girl looked at the mountainous path below her,
「歩いて帰ることにするわ。あ、その車なら処分してくれてかまわないから。返しに来なくていいのです。あげます」 “I guess I'll walk back. Oh, you can do whatever you want with that car. You can keep it, it's yours,”
「どうも」 “Thanks,”
森さんが応じ、やっと俺の手を離した。巣に残してきた子供を心配する親鳥のように、俺は朝比奈さんのもとにダッシュした。 After replying, Mori-san finally let go of my hand. Like a mother bird worried about its offspring left in their nest, I hurried towards Asahina-san,
「朝比奈さん」 “Asahina-san!”
肩を抱き起こす。小さく息をする音と、定期的に上下する胸が生存の証だ。一言|悪罵を投げようと誘拐犯のほうを見ると、その少女はすでに山道から崖下へと下りていくところだった。 I carried her by her shoulder, her faint breathing and slight chest movements was proof that she was still alive. I was about to turn around to swear indignantly at that kidnapper girl, but she had already climbed down the cliff.
森さんが俺の側にかがんで、眠る朝比奈さんに顔を近づけた。首筋に指を当て、唇に鼻先を寄せる。 Mori-san came to my side and approached Asahina-san's sleeping face. She placed her fingers onto Asahina-san's neck and smelled the side of her lips,
「ご無事です。二時間もあれば目を覚まされると思います。どうぞ、車まで」 “She's fine. She should be awake in another two hours. Please carry her to the car,”
もちろん俺が運ぶ。朝比奈さんを背負うのにもすっかり慣れた。どこの誰にも代わってやりたくない仕事の一つである。 I was of course in charge of the carrying work. I was already used to carrying Asahina-san. This was also one of my jobs for which I do not wish to be replaced.
黒塗りタクシーに戻ると、新川さんが孫を見る目で朝比奈さんを見つめ、俺にも似たような目をくれた。後部座席に力の抜けた朝比奈さんを座らせ、当然その横に俺も座る。一時はどうなることかと思ったが、取り戻せたのは万々歳だ。あのまま逃げられていたらと思うと……いや、そんなことは思いたくないし、あり得ないことだ。 Once we got back to the black taxi, Arakawa-san looked gently at Asahina-san like a grandfather would look at his granddaughter, and then he looked with concern at me as well. I allowed the exhausted Asahina-san to sit in the back seat, and I naturally sat beside her. Though I panicked at first, all I want to do was yell “Banzai” now that I've saved Asahina-san. If those guys had succeeded... no, there's no need to think about that anymore, that was now impossible.
規定|事項を信じていいんだよな、朝比奈さん(大)。あなたがそうしているってことは、この朝比奈さんがあなたになるまでの時間は絶対に存在するんだよな? Can I believe in predetermined events, Asahina-san (big)? For you to go to such lengths, it means this event is absolutely necessary for this Asahina-san to go through in order to become you when she grows up, right?
俺は年下みたいな上級生の寝顔を見続けて、そのため俺の後から森さんが乗り込んできたことも、多丸氏二人に挨拶しなかったことにも、車が走り出してしばらくするまで気づかなかったほどだ。 As my attention was now focused on the sleeping face of Asahina-san, who seemed younger than me, I didn't notice Mori-san had also climbed onto the car, and had completely forgotten to say hi to the Tamaru brothers as the car drove off. It was only after a while that I came to my senses.
「どちらに向かいましょう」 “Where do you wish to go from here?”
森さんの問いかけで、ようやく俺は乗った車が元来た県道に復帰していることを悟った。 Mori-san asked. I now realized the taxi was heading back through the original route along the highway.
「……図書館まで」 “...Please take me to the library,”
今は早いとこ長門の顔を見て安心したかった。俺はそう答え、朝比奈さんと同程度にぐったりとシートにもたれ掛かる。 I wanted to see Nagato as soon as possible before I could relax. After giving my destination, I slumped onto my seat. My exhaustion level was comparable to that of Asahina-san's.
亀の放流と再回収で事足りたと思っていたのに、朝比奈さんの誘拐と救出という大仕事が待ち受けていたとは意外を超えた出来事だった。精神的に疲れ切っていたが、のろのろと口を動かして声を発する。 I had thought that my work was over after releasing the turtle and picking it back up, I never expected to go through seeing Asahina-san getting kidnapped. Though I was mentally exhausted, I still managed to slowly move my lips,
「森さん……。朝比奈さんは、これまでもあの連中に狙われていたりしたんですか? 俺の知らないうちに誘拐|未遂とかがあったんですか? これからも……」 “Mori-san... has Asahina-san been attacked by those people before? Have they nearly kidnapped her before without me knowing? And would they ever...”
「この時代にいる彼女が誘拐されることはありません」 “She has not been kidnapped in this time period.”
じゃあ、さっきのは何だ? Huh? Then what just...
「わたしの言っていることは正しいと思います。現在の彼女はまったくの無事です。だって、未来の彼女が身代わりになってくれたのですから」 “This shows that my deduction was correct. She is indeed unharmed in this time period. This is because her future self has acted as her decoy.”
森さんの顔は慈愛に満ちていた。 Mori-san's face was now full of compassion,
「朝比奈みくるさんは多くの人に守られています。あなたや、長門有希さん、それに私たち……。彼女を何者の手にも渡したくない気持ちは同じです」 “Asahina-san is being watched over by many people. By you, by Nagato Yuki-san, and by us... like you, we do not wish to hand her over to anyone.”
古泉を信用できるように、この人もそうであればいいんだが。 Just like how I trusted Koizumi, I guess she was also someone I could trust.
「他のことはあなたの素敵なメイドさんに聞いてくださればと思います。もっと未来から来ている、あの綺麗で大人っぽい彼女に」 “As for other details, you can ask your gorgeous maid. I mean the one from the even further future, the beautiful and mature big sister, that is.”
もっともな意見だった。俺は息を吐きながら、唐突に思い至った疑問を口にする。 That was the most objective suggestion I've heard so far. I was about to see her even if you didn't tell me to. I sighed and asked something I suddenly thought of,
「森さんは古泉の上の人なんですか? 名前を呼び捨てしてましたけど」 “Mori-san, are you one of Koizumi's superiors? You don't seem to refer to him in a deferential way.”
森さんは、ふふふ、と年齢不詳の笑い声を上げて、 Mori-san chortled and gave a smile which didn't reveal her age,
「気にしないでください。同じ会社の仕事仲間なら、対外的にはたとえ社長でも敬称を略すのが普通です。それと同じようなものです」 “That doesn't mean anything. It is usual for colleagues from the same company to address each other on friendly terms outside. It's the same for us.”
話をかわされている気が充分にするが、『機関』とやらの序列やら上下関係にさほど興味があるわけではない。その気になれば古泉を締め上げて吐かせりゃすむ。本当のことを吐き出すとも思えなかったが、森さんだってそうだろう。言うつもりがあるんなら聞きたくもないのに話し出すのが古泉流、ひょっとしたら『機関』流だ。どうせそのうち頼んでもないのにペラペラ喋るに決まってる。 It's pretty obvious she was dodging the question, but I was hardly interested in the rank and hierarchy of the “Organization”. If I really want to know, I'd just interrogate Koizumi. Though like Mori-san, it's likely he won't reveal anything. According to Koizumi's style, if he really wants to tell me, he'll do so even with no one prompting him. This may be the 'Organization's' way of revealing information. Sooner or later, even if I didn't ask, Koizumi would eventually explain everything to me and chatter away.
なら、その時を待つさ。 Until then, I'll just quietly wait for that moment to come.
* * *
* * *
図書館前で俺はタクシーを降り、森さんの手を借りて眠り続ける朝比奈さんを背負い直した。 I got out of the taxi outside the library, and with help from Mori-san I once again carried the Sleeping Beauty that is Asahina-san.
「次にお会いするまで、お元気で」 “Please take care. I hope we meet again someday,”
森さんがメイド時代に戻ったような穏和な笑顔で言い、新川さんは執事時代と同じ慇懃に黙礼、二人を乗せた黒塗りタクシーは速やかに国道方面に北上していった。俺が古泉に連れられて〈神人〉見物に行ったとき、運転席にいたのはひょっとしたら新川さんだったのかもしれない。今度|訊いておこう。そして改めて礼を言おう。多丸さんたちにも。 Mori-san said once again with her gentle and friendly maid-like smile. Arakawa-san also gave his silent butler salute. They then headed north along the highway in their taxi. Who knows, when Koizumi brought me to visit those 'Avatars', it could have been Arakawa that was in the driver's seat. I guess I'll ask him next time. Even if it wasn't, I'll still have to thank him nonetheless, and the Tamaru brothers as well, for that matter.
朝比奈さんを背にして図書館の玄関に行った俺は、入り口の外で長門の出迎えを受けた。長門は寒さを気にしないようにじっと立っていたが、俺が何か言う前に、 As I carried Asahina-san to the entrance of the library, I noticed Nagato was there waiting for me. Nagato stood quite straight, as though she didn't feel cold at all. Before I could speak...
「無事でよかった」 “It is good that she is fine.”
無機質な目が俺の肩に頬をつけて眠る朝比奈さんの顔に向き、 Her eyes turned towards the sleeping face of Asahina-san lying on my shoulder,
「事情は聞いた」 “I have heard about what happened.”
誰に。古泉か? From whom? Koizumi?
ゆっくりと首を振った長門は、さらにゆっくりと俺に片手を差し出した。 Nagato slowly shook her head, and stretched out one of her hands at an even slower speed.
長門の手が封筒を持っている。ファンシーなイラストの横に、手書きの文字でナンバーがふられていた。 In Nagato's hand was a letter. Next to the illustration was printed a number:
#5。 #5.
* * *
欠番だった未来からのメッセージが、長門のもとに届けられていた。差し出し主は訊かずとも解るが、長門はあっさりと口を割る。 Turns out the missing letter from the future was sent to Nagato instead. I didn't even need to ask who the sender was. Still, Nagato told me anyway,
「朝比奈みくるの異時間同位体。約一時間前に会った」 “It was from Asahina Mikuru's differential temporal clone. We met about an hour ago.”
やっぱり来ていたか、朝比奈さん(大)。だが、長門のところにとは。 So you were here, Asahina-san (big). Only you went to see Nagato instead.
「何か言ってたか?」 “Did she say anything?”
「わたしをよろしく」 “She asked me to do her a favor.”
長門は淡々と伝言を告げると、指先を伸ばして朝比奈さんの額に触れさせた。 Nagato said calmly and stretched out her finger, placing it on Asahina-san's smooth forehead.
「……んんー……あふ……ふぁっ?」 “...Umm...huh...Wah!?”
魔法の指先だ。朝比奈さんはぱっちりと目を開けると、 It was a magical finger, as Asahina-san opened her eyes just by the touch of it,
「わわっ。キョンくん……あれっ? あたし、どうしてオンブなんか、あ、な、長門さん……」 “Wah! Kyon-kun... Huh? Why am I being carried by you? And, N-Nagato-san...”
嫌がるシャミセンを無理に抱き上げるとこんな感じで暴れるんだよな。目覚めた途端にバタバタし始めた朝比奈さんだったが、いくらもうちょっとこうしていたいと思ってもおとなしくはしてくれないだろうし、長門の目もあるので下ろして差し上げる。森さんの話では二時間の効果を発揮していただろう麻酔薬も、長門がどうにかしてくれたのだろう、朝比奈さんが地を踏む姿勢に乱れはなかった。 I guess Shamisen would feel just as uncomfortable as Asahina-san right now whenever he's being picked up against his own will. While she had been struggling since the moment she woke up, I had actually wanted to carry her a little longer, but since Nagato's watching, I'll just have to put her down. The anesthetic that Mori-san said would take two hours to wear off has seemingly been dispelled by a single touch from Nagato, as Asahina-san didn't seem to wobble as her feet touched the ground once again.
朝比奈さんは目尻にうっすらと朱を差し込みながら、俺を上目遣い。 Her eyes looking a bit red, Asahina-san looked teary-eyed at me,
「あのぅ……。あたし、どうしてたんでしょうか。亀さんをあの人にあげて、それから……。そう言えば車が急に止まって……」 “Um... has something happened to me? After giving that little turtle to that boy... Ah, that's it, a car suddenly stopped in front...”
その直後に薬を嗅がされたらしい。何も覚えていない朝比奈さんに、俺は正直にあったことを教えた。話が進むに連れて青くなったり赤くなったりしていた朝比奈さんだが、俺の誘拐劇カーチェイス話ダイジェストが終わると、意表をつかれることに笑顔となった。 And after that, you were knocked unconscious. I told everything to Asahina-san, who doesn't remember anything, as it had happened. Upon hearing me describe the details, Asahina-san's face went from pale to red to pale again. It was only when I concluded with the end of the condensed version of the car pursuit, that she surprisingly revealed a smile,
「そうだったんですか。あたしでも役に立てたんですね。今のこの時間のあたしを守ることができたんですね。よかったぁ」 “So that's how it is. Turns out I'm useful after all, I protected my past self in this time period. Thank goodness.”
その前向きな笑みに、俺の心の隅にこびり付いていた精神|疲労も吹き飛ぶ思いだ。そうなんだ。もしこの朝比奈さん(みちる)がいなければ、誘拐犯はもっと強引な手を使って朝比奈さん(小)をかっぱらって行ったかもしれない。ハルヒの目前だろうが、古泉とその一味が全力で阻止しようが、後先とおかまいを考えずに、ダメもとでだ。そんなことになっていたらそれはそれは恐ろしい事態になっていた。ハルヒは激怒するだろうし、古泉一派が黙って見ているわけもない。だがこれで連中も解っただろう。比較的無防備だったほうの朝比奈さん(みちる)をさらっても、うまくいかないってことが。 Asahina-san's optimistic smile had blown away all the fatigue within me. She was right, if it wasn't for this Asahina (Michiru)-san, the kidnappers may have resorted to extreme means to kidnap Asahina-san (small). And they would have done it right in front of Haruhi. Even if Koizumi had wanted to stop them, there's nothing much he could do if he were to keep his cover intact. Things would become serious indeed if that were to happen. Haruhi would be royally pissed and Koizumi's faction would certainly not sit by and do nothing. Yet, those kidnappers should have realized by now, even kidnapping the harmless Asahina (Michiru)-san didn't go as well as they might have expected.
長門の力を借りずに俺は朝比奈さんを取り戻せた。これに長門が絡んでくれたらどうなるか、あいつらも重々承知のはずだ。敵なら敵らしく相応の頭を期待するぜ。 This time, I didn't rely on Nagato's powers to rescue Asahina-san. If Nagato had been involved this time, I wonder what might have happened? Those people should know the consequences very well if that happens. There's no way four mere kidnappers could beat the formidable Nagato, but I'd certainly look forward to such a scene.
「あ、その手紙……」 “Oh, that letter...”
朝比奈さんが封筒#5に目を留めて、 Asahina-san's eyes were now fixed on Letter #5.
「それ、いつ……?」 “When was it sent over here?”
さっき、長門に届いていたようですよ。 Just a while ago, but it was sent to Nagato.
「長門さんに……?」 “Sent to Nagato-san...”
長い睫毛をパタつかせて、朝比奈さんは小声で小柄な団員仲間に、 Raising her eyebrows, Asahina-san said softly to her fellow brigade member's slim figure,
「な、長門さん。これをあなたに渡したのって、もしかしたら……あ、」 “N, Nagato-san. Could the one who sent you that letter be... Ah?”
「言わない」 “I can't tell you.”
キッパリと断る長門だった。無表情な宇宙人は言い聞かせるような口調で、 Nagato flatly turned down her question. The poker-faced alien said in a tone like a teacher teaching her students,
「あなたも、いずれ知る時が来る」 “Sooner or later you will understand.”
| 唇 を開いて固まる朝比奈さんに、 She then said to Asahina-san, whose cherry-like lips were opened as she stood stiffly there,
「それは自分自身で知ること」 “As you of all people should know best.”
雪像が口をきいているような声で、長門はそれだけ言うとダッフルのフードを目深に被った。 Like a snowman that had just spoken, Nagato turned around and put on her hood once she finished.
言いたくないってより、言わずとも解るだろうと言いたげに見えたのは俺だけではないだろう。 From her eyes, I knew that she did not mean, “I don't want to tell you.” Turns out I wasn't the only one who feels that “You'll understand even if I didn't”.
* * *
黙り込んだ二人の女子団員に挟まれ、妙な居心地の悪さを感じる俺は、さっそく手紙をひもとくことにする。 Sandwiched between two silent female brigade members, I suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable, so I decided to open that letter.
#5の内容。 The contents of Letter #5 were as below:
『終わりです。そこにいる朝比奈みくるに元の|駐 留時間軸に戻るよう言ってください。時間指定はあなたがおこなってください。よければ、場所も。好きにして』 “Everything is now over. Please tell the Asahina Mikuru there to return to her original garrisoned time period. You're free to decide what the destination time and location would be.”
好きにして----か。違うシチュエーションで違う意味で言われたいね、一度でいいから。もちろん本物の朝比奈さんに。 Free to decide... huh? How I hoped this line could be interpreted differently under different circumstances, just once would do. Of course it would be better if Asahina-san were to say this directly to me.
まあ、俺のことだ、そんな願望が叶ったとしたら何もできずに立ちくらみを起こしてそのまま気を失ってしまい、こんこんと眠り続けたあげくハルヒあたりに叩き起こされる運命が待っているのだ。きっとそんなオチになる。だから身の丈に合わない願い事はしないでおくに越したことはない。ハルヒみたいに地球を逆回転させたくもない。起こって欲しくない願いは封印しておいたほうがいいのさ。世界はありのままでいてくれ。 Forget it, I can think all I want, it just couldn't be possible. Even if that wish were granted, I probably wouldn't dare do anything, and would be so overwhelmed that I'd simply faint. By the time I'd come to my senses I would have realized Haruhi had awoken me by knocking on my head, damn it! That is why I never allow myself to have wishes that are too ridiculous, especially not like Haruhi who would wish for the rotation of the Earth to go backwards. Wishes that you don't want to become true are better off staying ungranted, and the world should stay as it is.
そのためには朝比奈さんを元に戻すのが先決だな。俺は心をどこかに飛ばしている様子の朝比奈さんの肩を叩き、#5の手紙を見せた。内容より差出人を気にしているらしい彼女だったが、最後まで読んでしまうと納得の顔で、 And so, my priority was now to send Asahina-san to her original time period. I placed my hand on the shoulder of Asahina-san, who seemed to be lost in thought, and showed her the details of Letter #5. Though she was more concerned about who the sender was, she still went and read the letter from beginning to end. She gave an expression of understanding something and said,
「わかりました。あたしのすることはもう終わったんですね」 “Understood. My mission has now ended.”
それからやや寂しそうに、 She then said with a lonely expression,
「でも、間接命令になっちゃうんですね。キョンくんを通じないと、あたしは元の時間に戻ることもできないんです」 “But now it would become an indirect order. Without your instruction, I can't return to my original time period,”
しかし、そんな感情もすぐに霧消させ、朝比奈さんは微笑んだ。 Yet Asahina-san quickly dispelled that thought and was smiling at me once again,
「いつか、きっとあたしは自分で何もかもできるようになってみせます。その時は、あたしがキョンくんたちを助ける番。いつになるか解りませんが、うん、きっと……」 “I will show you one day that I can accomplish something all on my own as well. By then I will be the one saving Kyon-kun. Though I don't know when that'll be, it'll definitely come...”
望みは叶いますよ。その目的意識と、それを目指したときの思いを忘れない限り。 Your wish will come true. As long as you don't forget the meaning to achieving that goal, and never lose your determination towards achieving that goal.
俺は腕時計を見るともなしに見ながら、 I looked at my watch, but I didn't feel like watching the time,
「それで、戻る先の時間ですが」 “Let's see, what's the destination time...”
この朝比奈さんが掃除用具入れに出現したのは、今から六日前の午後三時四十五分で、その時彼女は「八日後の午後四時十五分から来た」と言ったのだから、この朝比奈さんの元時間は今から二日後の午後四時十五分以降だ。それより前だと今と|状 況が違わなくなる。同じ時間帯に二人の朝比奈さんがいることは避けるべきだ。タイムラグは六十二秒ほどでいいだろう。 This Asahina-san appeared in the broom locker at 3:45 PM six days before today. She said she arrived at “4:15 PM, eight days from now”, so her destination ought to take place after 4:15 PM that day. If it were set before that time, then it'll create lots of confusion. As long as I avoid having two Asahina-sans appearing at the same time, I guess it'll be okay to set the time difference between departure and arrival by 62 seconds.
「二日後だと火曜日か。その午後四時十六分でどうですか? それだと朝比奈さんが存在しない時間は一分くらいですみますが。場所も同じでいいですよね。部室の掃除用具入れの中ってことで」 “It'll be Tuesday two days from now, right? How about 4:16PM at that day? In that way, you would only be absent from that time period for about a minute or so. Let's pick the same location as well, inside the broom locker in the club room,”
「そうですね……。その時間ならキョンくんしかいなかったから」 “You're right... if it's that time, only Kyon-kun would be there,”
「制服と上履き」 “Uniform and indoor shoes.”
と言ってくれた長門のおかげで思い出した。この朝比奈さんは鶴屋さんの借り物|衣装姿である。彼女が着ていたセーラー服は鶴屋さんの家に置き去りになっている。かと言ってこれから鶴屋宅に戻っていては正午に予定されている駅前再集合に間に合いそうになく、ここまで来て朝比奈さんを一人で放り出す気もさらさらない。 Thanks to Nagato reminding us, I remembered that the clothes this Asahina-san was wearing were all borrowed from Tsuruya-san. Her sailor uniform had been left at Tsuruya-san's place. I also realized that if I escorted Asahina-san back to Tsuruya-san's place, I would miss the scheduled meeting time. Yet I barely managed to rescue Asahina-san, I really didn't want to leave her all alone again.
「こうしましょう。朝比奈さんにはその格好で二日後に戻ってもらうとして、制服と靴は俺が今日中に鶴屋さんのところに行って何とかします」 “In that case, Asahina-san, you should just go straight to two days later like that. I'll try to find a way to get your uniform and indoor shoes back from Tsuruya-san today.”
「お願いします。それから、あの」 “Then I leave it all to you. Oh, and...”
ペコリと頭を下げた朝比奈さんは、まじまじと俺を見上げ、言い忘れていたことがあるような素振りで口を開きかけて、また閉じた。なぜか長門を気にする気配を感じたが気のせいか? After bowing deeply, Asahina-san looked straight at me, as though forgetting what to say, she opened her little mouth then shut it again. Was it because Nagato was around that she didn't dare speak?
「なんでもなかった……です。その話は、ええと、戻った先で」 “It's nothing... Um, I think I'll tell you when I get back,”
気にはなるが、大したことではなさそうだ。それに明後日に知れるようなことなら今知らなくてもかまやしない。 Though I was concerned, it didn't seem like anything important. If I'll know about it the day after tomorrow, then I didn't mind not knowing about it now.
今この場で時間移動メカニズムを作動させてくれてもいいのだが、朝比奈さんはその瞬間を見られたくはないらしい。一人になれるところがいいそうだ。俺たちは図書館に入ると、女子トイレまで朝比奈さんを送っていった。 How I wished the time traveling device would be activated now, but Asahina-san probably wouldn't let me have a glimpse of that. Seems like she would need to be alone in order for her to travel, so we entered the library and escorted Asahina-san to the ladies' bathroom.
「キョンくん。色々ありがとう。本当は古泉くんや鶴屋さんにも言わなきゃですね」 “Kyon-kun, I'm really thankful for your help these last few days. That includes Koizumi-kun and Tsuruya-san as well.”
古泉にはいつでも、森さんたちには今度会ったときにでも言えばいいことです。鶴屋さんは言わなくても解ってくれるでしょうが、それも俺から言っておきますよ。 You can thank Koizumi anytime, for Mori-san you can do so when you see her next time. As for Tsuruya-san, I'm sure she'll understand even if you didn't say anything. Of course, I'll relay it to Tsuruya-san as well anyway.
「じゃあ……。キョンくん、長門さん。また明後日に」 “Well then... Kyon-kun, Nagato-san, see you later,”
朝比奈さんは最後まで名残惜しげにしながら、ためらいがちにトイレの中に消えた。個室のドアを閉める音がして、それっきりどんなSEも届かない。長門が静かに顔を上げ、 Asahina-san still looked hesitant to enter the bathroom when she went in. Once the bathroom door had closed, no more sound could be heard from inside. Nagato then lifted her head and quietly said to me,
「現在時空から消失した」 “She has disappeared from this time period.”
教えてくれる。終わったな。これで後は二日後を待つのみだ。俺は長門を伴って図書館を出て、深い息を吐いた。 It's over, is it? The rest will have to wait till two days later. I accompanied Nagato out of the library and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
「なあ、長門。昨日と今日だけで俺は朝比奈さんとは別口の未来人と、古泉の組織と対立しているらしい連中に会ったよ」 “Nagato, for the past two days, I've come across time-travelers that are different from Asahina-san and people that oppose Koizumi's organization.”
「そう」 “Is that so?”
「ああ。だからさ、お前の言う違う宇宙人もどっかにいると思うんだ」 “Yeah. So I was thinking, those aliens that you've mentioned may also have appeared somewhere out there,”
「恐い?」 “Are you afraid?”
長門は動かない目線で問いかけ、自分で答えを述べた。 Nagato asked me without moving her head, she then gave me her own answer,
「わたしは恐れない」 “I'm not afraid.”
お前の言うとおりさ長門。俺も同じ意見の持ち主だ。朝比奈さんと古泉も同意してくれるだろう。似たもの同士、仲よくやっていこうぜ。 You're right, Nagato. I think the same as you do. I'm sure Asahina-san and Koizumi would agree as well. Since we all agree on the important things, let's continue to be friends.
長門は黙ったまま前を向き、俺も口を閉ざして歩き続けた。 Nagato continued walking forward without saying a word, and I followed silently as well.
言わずとも知れたことをわざわざ言うことはない、俺はそれを知っていた。SOS団は五つの個人の集まりなんかじゃない。SOS団という一つの同体なんだ。そんなとっくに解っていたことを、俺よりよく解っているやつに言う必要なんかないのさ。 There is no need to say things that are plainly obvious, on this I'm pretty clear. The SOS Brigade is not an organization with five individuals, but a single entity whose name is called “the SOS Brigade”. I know very well about this, and so there is no need to talk about it with someone who knows it even better than I do.