Line.3 The Basis of the Dream
Having finished his work at Auros Academy, as well as having attended the strategy meeting for the upcoming match, Saji Genshirou returned to his house at dinner time.
He called out at the doorway as he took his shoes off, and his little brother — Gengo quickly dashed out to greet him.
“Welcome home, onii-chan!”
Saji ruffled Gengo’s hair as he walked into the living room.
“Hey, were you waiting for me to have dinner, Gengo?”
Dinner — the aroma of curry wafted out from the kitchen and into his nostrils. Since he had just finished work and a meeting on top of that, he was actually starving.
“Gen-nii, welcome home.”
His little sister — Kaho seemed to be relaxing in the living room. As soon as she learned that her brother had returned, she immediately began to prepare the table for dinner. Noticing that Kaho was acting mildly shy, Saji inquired,
“…Is something wrong?”
Realising that he had seen through her pretence, Kaho heaved a sigh and then began to explain,
“—To tell the truth, Hyoudou Issei-san and President Xenovia came over just earlier. Because you forgot some documents, they…”
When she said that, her eyes — drifted toward the photo frame on the shelf which contained a photo of their parents. That was enough for Saji to deduce what had happened.
“…I see, so they know now.”
Saji scratched the back of his head. …He hadn’t intended to conceal it from them, but he felt that such a topic wasn’t something he had to bring up of his own accord, and so he never spoke about his family situation with Hyoudou Issei or Xenovia whom he worked with on the Student Council.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know that you didn’t tell them…will this affect the match?”
Kaho asked with worry. She knew just how important the next match was for her brother, which was why she asked. Saji made a wry smile as he shook his head.
“No, it shouldn’t — that guy won’t hesitate to strike. That’s the kind of man that he is. But, when we see each other at school…it might be better if I talk to him about it.”
…Indeed, that was the kind of friend that Hyoudou Issei was. He was also a comrade-in-arms, and someone of the same generation. Precisely because of that, Saji had always chased after him.
—If that guy dares to hesitate, I’ll just punch him right then and there. That’ll wake him up.
However, his sister still felt remorse that she had played a part in the affair, and so she apologised,
“I’m really sorry.”
“It’s okay. Come on, let’s eat.”
Saji motioned for his sister to set the table, and the three of them laid out three dishes onto the table, one for each person.
Just as the three of them began to have curry in the living room, Saji reminisced a little about the past.
—Five years ago, my parents died in a car accident.
It had happened around half a year after Gengo was born. His father was a teacher, and after leaving the school where he worked, he began to drive home, picking up Saji’s mother from work along the way. After the two of them joined up and started driving home together, they got involved in a head-on collision with a truck where the driver had dozed off, and they never returned. Saji was thirteen years old and had just started middle school whereas his sister Kaho was a ten-year-old fourth-grade student….
As a result of the sudden loss of their parents, the three siblings were thrust into an incomprehensible situation, and the one who took up the responsibility of caring for them was their grandfather on their father’s side. Their grandmother had already passed away, but their grandfather took them in so that they could live together, and he cared for them in the place of their parents. However, even the grandfather who had been taking care of them — also passed away at the beginning of last year due to illness. Lying on his deathbed in a hospital room, the grandfather called a nurse to bring Saji in. While shedding tears of remorse, he rasped,
“…Grandpa originally wanted to see you all grow up into fine adults…sorry, I’m sorry, Genshirou…”
Watching his grandfather continuously apologise — Saji was unable to say a thing and tears simply rolled down his cheeks in silence. For nearly four years, their grandfather took care of them in place of their mother and father — he had steadfastly taken up that heavy burden and granted all of their unreasonable demands. It was all thanks to his grandfather that he had successfully made it into high school, and his little sister into middle school. His grandfather even participated in school activities in place of their parents. Whenever they had excursions or sports festivals, their grandfather prepared lunchboxes for them. Their grandfather also took care of Gengo—. With a faint, raspy voice, his grandfather had murmured,
“Genshirou…Gengo…will grow up without knowing his parents…grandpa wanted to take good care of you siblings in place of your parents…so, Genshirou, as Gengo’s older brother, you must take the place of your father.”
That was his grandfather’s request — a plea to the man named Genshirou.
“I never imagined that I would have to entrust this kind of thing to you when you’re still a child yourself…if you must hold a grudge against someone, then let it be me…”
His grandfather raised his thin and feeble hand to caress Saji’s cheek. Shortly afterwards — his grandfather passed on. The three siblings of the Saji family — became lonely and helpless. Even though Saji wanted someone to look after his younger siblings, he didn’t have the financial capacity to do so. The reality that a high school student was unable to handle the situation weighed heavily on Saji. The biggest problem was — without a guardian, it meant that the three siblings could be separated from each other. Just when he felt completely lost and his heart was filled with unease — Saji encountered Sona. By sheer chance, Saji received a summoning leaflet near the local train station. Without giving it much thought, he returned home with it, and when he voiced his uneasiness of the future whilst at home, the leaflet suddenly glowed — and the Student Council President of Kuoh Academy that he attended emerged from it. After learning of Sona’s true identity, Saji explained his situation to her. Sona then performed a search within his body and discovered that item.
—Sacred Gear [Absorption Line].
After learning that such a Sacred Gear existed within his body, Saji successfully called forth its power, and formed a Master-Servant contract with Sona to reincarnate as one of her servants. At the same time, he also joined the Student Council and gained the determination to work as her arms and legs. And so, with the support of the House of Sitri, Saji was able to move into this apartment. Everyone who lived in the building was affiliated with the House of Sitri one way or another. The residents who were aware of their situation acted with kindness toward the three Saji siblings. The money that Saji earned from working as a member of the Sitri peerage all went toward living funds to support Kaho and Gengo, as well as savings for the future. Although they had gone through a turbulent period and faced various struggles, the Saji family could now enjoy a stable life.
While eating his curry, Saji looked back over the events of his earlier life—. Inadvertently, Saji noticed the change with his younger brother — his face and knees had been plastered with band aids. Saji immediately knew what the reason was — most likely a fight in kindergarten. Saji asked Gengo,
“Gengo, did you lose a fight?”
Although Gengo originally had a smile on his face, his lips suddenly became upturned and he said in a disheartened tone,
“……Acchan is so big that my tackles and punches don’t work.”
Saji had heard that the opponent was the child of a single-parent family. The other boy’s situation was just as complicated as the Saji family’s. Realising this, that boy wanted to vent his feelings of distress, and thus resorted to his fists. Saji was able to sympathise with the other boy. Saji put his spoon down and flatly professed to Gengo,
“Listen up, Gengo. Your brother occasionally fights as well, and everyone he fights against is stronger than him. But your brother never cries, and he always moves forward. Do you know why?”
Gengo shook his head.
“—It’s because I want to let the other side know that no matter how strong they are, I won’t lose to them. So, you also have to show them your strength, Gengo. If someone punches you twice, then it’s okay to return one punch to them. If they punch you three times, then return two punches. If you do that, then no one will ever think that you’re weak, Gengo.”
It was what Saji had experienced up until now, and it was his approach to fighting — the answer and mindset that he had against stronger foes. …Indeed, Saji felt as though he had been defeated by Hyoudou Issei numerous times. Not only in battle, but as someone of the same generation, as a comrade, and as a Devil…the difference between them had grown so large that he felt that he had been defeated—.
At the strategy meeting earlier today, Saji made a rare request to his master, Sona Sitri.
[President, I have a request. If the conditions of the game allow it…I want to have a one-on-one fight against Hyoudou.]
His request — was to have a head-on clash against Hyoudou Issei. Saji was well aware of how unfavourable and unreasonable it was to their match. Up until the point that he had mentioned it, he had tried to restrain and dissuade himself until the last moment. Yet…and yet, he was unable to give up on it. He was unable to suppress his own feelings.
—I want to fight against that guy.
Such thoughts had continued to balloon in his mind after their matchup was announced, reaching the point where he could no longer control himself, and he even brought it up without prior discussion with Sona. As a result, Shinra Tsubaki loudly reprimanded him as the [Queen] and also as Sona’s right-hand woman,
[Saji! This is an extremely important match! In particular, Hyoudou’s team is a part of the Gremory peerage, and our battle against them is also vital to compensate for our humiliation last year!]
Even though the deputy leader chided him in such a manner, Saji continued to stare directly into Sona’s eyes, waiting for her answer. At that time, his comrade Hanakai Momo raised her hand and implored,
[President Sona, could you please grant Gen-chan’s request?]
She expressed her respect for Saji’s hopes.
[—Even you’re saying such things, Momo!?”
In turn, Shinra Tsubaki was surprised…but Hanakai wasn’t the only one who raised her hand. Saji’s junior, Nimura Ruruko also said
[President Sona, Tsubaki-san, I also support Genshirou-senpai.]
[Even you, Ruruko! Do you all understand just how important our next match is!?]
Shinra Tsubaki’s flamboyant voice was mixed with elements of disbelief and anger, yet the number of people who agreed with the trending sentiment only increased.
[If Momo-chan and Ruruko are in favour, then I also agree.]
[I’ll follow suit then.]
Kusaka Reya and Tomoe Meguri also raised their hands in support.
[Reya and Meguri too!?]
As the number of people expressing their support of Saji continued to rise, Shinra Tsubaki became troubled. As someone who tried to keep her cool more than anyone else, the peerage members’ support of Saji’s selfishness was a complete shock to her. Yura Tsubasa similarly expressed her support.
[I’ve supported Genshirou from the beginning — because Hyoudou has been the only one in Genshirou’s eyes for a long time. I think everyone here is capable of seeing that.]
It was beyond Saji’s own expectations that every peerage member aside from Sona and Shinra Tsubaki supported him. Sona heaved a sigh, and asked Saji
[Saji, you’re a smart person. You’ve made this request despite knowing that our team’s tactics may fall apart…are you truly that eager to fight against Ise-kun?]
Clenching his fist tightly, Saji conveyed his heartfelt emotions,
[…The first time I saw that guy, I thought he was just an ordinary pervert. I thought that he was chosen by Rias-senpai based on a chance encounter, and that it was simply his luck that made him the Sekiryuutei.]
Upon hearing that one of the notorious Perverted Trio had become a Devil, Saji looked upon him with contempt. But, whenever Saji saw him, his cognition was gradually rewritten—. Every time something happened, Hyoudou Issei stood up for the sake of his peerage, he unhesitatingly charged forth regardless of the enemy that he faced, and deepened the bonds with his companions.
[But I was wrong. That guy’s encounters with Rias-senpai, Asia-san and Xenovia-san were all inevitable. And though they were inevitable…that guy has been able to overcome all of his obstacles thus far because of his own hard work! He always puts his life on the line! He gives it his all! Everything is a result of his effort! If…I was the Sekiryuutei and stood in his place, I’d surely be dead in six months.]
…He had come to understand him because he had been close enough to observe. Hyoudou Issei’s journey through a year was populated by a hellish series of events — logically speaking, death would’ve been a natural consequence. But even so, he survived…he was promoted to a Mid-Class Devil before Saji, and even became a High-Class Devil. Sona asserted,
[That’s right. Ise-kun is — without doubt, a hero. He is the embodiment of effort and miracles, and ceaselessly climbed to attain his current status. In the face of such an opponent, you—]
Saji interrupted Sona, and shouted,
[I want to defeat him…we’re from the same generation. We became Devils at the same time. We worked hard at the same time. We fought against enemies at the same time. We also overcame life-or-death situations at the same time. And still, I can’t win against that guy! The further I advance, the more I feel that I’ve been left behind! Even if I make myself a hundred times stronger, that guy will make himself more than a thousand times stronger!]
Hyoudou Issei was a constant source of miracle-like phenomena, and combined with his hard work, he became stronger and stronger. Saji was well aware of that. Even so, Saji — belonged to the same generation. They became Devils at the same time. They both possessed the power of a dragon, they both became servants of a High-Class Devil, and they both joined team [DxD]. Saji’s efforts were no lesser than his, and his experience in fighting and surviving battles was not inferior either. In his Devil Jobs as well, he did his best so that he wouldn’t lose to Hyoudou Issei. —But even after doing all that, he was still unable to win against his friend of the same age who belonged to the same generation, Hyoudou Issei.
[But even so, I…don’t want to be left behind by that guy. In order to stand on the same stage and declare with pride that ‘I belong to the same generation as that guy, and I’m also his comrade and friend’, I can’t afford to lose to him!]
Precisely because they were friends, he didn’t want to be left behind—. Although he was reluctant to put his feelings into words, they were his heartfelt emotions. He didn’t want to be left behind by his friend of the same generation — he wanted to get stronger with him. He wanted to stay by his side. Saji then continued,
[I finally have a chance to face that guy in full public view…I want to fight against him. A one-on-one fight. I want to continue our unfinished business from that day, finish that battle from last year, and get revenge for that time! I want to send that guy flying, to prove that I won’t lose to him!]
The instant that the matchup for the Tournament was announced, a craze erupted from the depths of his body. What appeared in his mind was — his battle against Hyoudou Issei in the Rating Game one year ago, and his own defeat. He had dreamt of the scene several times, and it stayed fresh in his mind whenever he was alone. Every time it reappeared in his mind, he became filled with regret. Saji was clearly aware that the emotions embroiled in his heart could only be cleared away if he had a rematch with that guy. There was a possibility that the result of this confrontation would make him feel even more disgruntled than before. But even that was fine.
Even if that is the case, right now — I just want to let all of this fervour pour out onto that guy. I want that guy to know that I’ve also gotten stronger. —I want to challenge Hyoudou without any worries or concerns.
While Saji spoke his mind to Sona, the taciturn werewolf — Loup Garou opened his mouth.
[…Master, you should allow Saji and the Sekiryuutei to fight.]
It surprised everyone that the normally reticent man had said such a thing. Even Sona was no exception.
[Even you, Loup Garou?]
Loup Garou placed his hand on Saji’s shoulder and spoke to Sona with a sharpened gaze.
[Because we’re both warriors, I can understand…no, because we’re both men, I can understand. It doesn’t make sense at all. Tactics and strategy are certainly important for battle, but it’s also a fact that some things cannot be resolved with them.]
Loup Garou lightly bumped his fist against Saji’s chest.
[—A man always has a man that he absolutely doesn’t want to lose to. Since that’s the case, all that’s necessary is a battle. There is no other way to resolve these feelings without a fight.]
Loup Garou’s passionate words — caused tears to well up in Saji’s eyes.
Bearing witness to this scene, the new member, Hoderi Yukihiko cocked his head in puzzlement…
[I feel like I understand, yet I don’t quite understand…but I can feel the passion in Saji-senpai’s words! And by sending a dragon to tackle a dragon, I think the reaction from the crowd will be much more vibrant.]
—But he still enthusiastically said that. It seemed that he already had his own thoughts on the matter. After taking a sip of tea, Bennia said,
<<Regardless, isn’t Saji-niisan the only one who can face the Oppai Dragon head-on?>>
Bennia could occasionally make such level-headed statements. Just as Bennia said, it was the same conclusion that they had also reached in this meeting — the only one who could possibly stop the Heavenly Dragon-class Hyoudou Issei in a battle of strength was the Dragon King-class Saji. After listening to each of their member’s thoughts on the matter, Shinra Tsubaki let out a sigh as she sank back in her seat. No matter what she said, the other members were unlikely to listen, which meant that the final decision rested with their master. Having listened to the opinions of Saji and the other members — Sona smiled a little.
[…Really, Saji and the rest of you, as well as our opponent Issei — you’re all such foolish children.]
After taking a moment to adjust her mood, Sona proclaimed,
[In essence, I intend to follow the plan that we just discussed to deal with the match…but in any case, there is no one aside from Saji who can stop Ise-kun. Also, if he knows that you’re participating—]
Sona then concluded,
[The Sekiryuutei will also singlehandedly accept the challenge of Dragon King Saji Genshirou. I don’t think that the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team will get in the way. Since that’s the case, we should send you out. It’ll also be good entertainment for the Rating Game. If our actions are contrary to the desires of the audience, then that will also be a demerit for us. I’m sure most of the audience are looking forward to the battle between you and Ise-kun.]
After saying that much, Sona laughed.
[—Those are simply my superficial words. It would also tarnish my pride if my proudest servant suffered a defeat and couldn’t get back at Ise-kun for it. Saji, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is so long as you must show everyone your strong side. You have to show every faction how strong the Devil named Saji Genshirou is — with that, no one will look down on you or us.]
After listening to his master’s opinion, Saji — shed manly tears. His master…Sona Sitri agreed to Saji’s request. Finally, Sona said to him,
[However, I will decide on the timing for when we launch an attack on Ise-kun. Are you okay with that, Saji?]
Sona and his comrades had accepted his once-off selfish request, which made Saji feel truly grateful to all of them—.
While he recalled the exchange which had unfolded earlier in the day, his dinner with Kaho and Gengo came to an end.
Later, after taking a bath with his little brother, Saji clapped his hands together and prayed in front of the photos of his parents and grandparents on the shelf.
—Dad, mum. Thank you for giving me a Sacred Gear.
The [Sacred Gear System] was generally considered to be a relic of the God of the Bible. Despite this, Saji still believed that the ones who bestowed this power upon him were the parents who had given birth to him, and the grandfather who had raised him up. Because of the power given to him by his family members, he was able to provide food and shelter for Kaho and Gengo. Since he had become a Devil, it was no longer possible for him to go to the same place as his parents or grandparents after death. Therefore, he would never again see his father and mother, nor his grandparents. But despite that, Saji still decided on this path — he chose the world in which he would be a Devil.
—I want to maintain this family. I want to continue living with Kaho and Gengo.
…However, by becoming a Devil, it meant that Kaho and Gengo would grow old and pass away far earlier than him. The time that they could spend together — could be less than eighty years.
—When they see me with an appearance no different from my youth, will they still call me ‘brother’ and ‘family’?
It was something which Saji had always been afraid of — but right now, Saji asserted that it didn’t matter.
—Even if they start to resent me afterwards, as long as they can live well and grow up into fine adults…that is enough. What I have to go through doesn’t matter so long as Kaho and Gengo can live healthy lives.
However, despite this mentality, Saji still had his own goals.
—Father, I also want to become a ‘teacher’. If I had known earlier, I would’ve asked you why you chose to become a teacher. I’ve always regretted it…so if I become a ‘teacher’, will I be able to understand your feelings a bit? In that way, can I show Gengo?
At the same time, a different kind of fervour also emerged from the depths of his body.
—But you know what…dad, mum, grandpa, grandma, the next match has something that I eagerly look forward to, just as much as my dreams.
Appearing in Saji’s mind — was the figure of the reliable comrade and close friend of the same generation that he wanted to defeat.
Kaho noticed Saji praying in front of their parents, and asked,
“What did you pray for?”
“I made a promise to them that I’ll punch Hyoudou tomorrow.”
“After I take Gengo over to the grandma next door to look after tomorrow, I’ll find some time to watch about an hour of the match. Sona-san also gave me a transportation magic circle.”
“…If the grandma is okay with it then that’s fine.”
“Yeah, don’t lose before I go.”
Saji deeply looked forward to tomorrow’s match—.
Because he could butt heads with that guy again—.
(Part 1 of 1) (26/2)
Continues on to: Team Member