Toshie gently placed Eve on the bed labelled 'Mantis'.
"Thank you, Toshie. Thank you, Niko." Eve said as she peacefully closed her eyes.
Toshie breathed a sigh of relief. Eve and all of them were mostly okay, even after the drive through the fire. Niko had been right, they were fast enough to keep the burns to a minimum, however, Grey Donkey would need a new set of tyres.
"Query," Roshi said, looking at the whole scene from atop a fridge, rats climbed on his back and lined up at his shoulders, "How is this lair suppose to be surreptitious when you bring all your friends here?"
"Rats!" Toshie said, backing away from the man.
"Still have phobia of rats?" Niko said. "My sister told me."
"Sorry, rats are disgusting." Toshie said.
"That is my friend Eve, she will be with us for a while." Niko said, looking at Roshi.
Roshi jumped off the fridge. "How long is a while?"
"As long as I say it is!" Niko said as the two had a stare down.
"Let's calm down." Toshie said, unwilling to get closer to the two because of the rats on and around Roshi. "These two are almost as bad as Punk Girl fighting with Roshi-sama," he whispered to himself.
Roshi walked away, muttering angrily to himself.
Niko sighed before walking away. She found a carpet on the floor and sat down. Toshie could see her limping.
"That knee is really othering you, Niko-san."
"Yeah," she smiled and sat down on a mattress, "I should know better than to knee a drone."
She rubbed her bruised knee which was turning red.
Toshie sat atop the mattress next to her at the end of her feet. "Here's a first aid kit."
"Could you do it for me, Toshie-kun!" She said, draping her legs over his lap.
"Y-Yeah!" Toshie said as he opened up the first aid kit. "H-Hopefully these things don't expire, I'm guessing its been here for a while." He said as he withdrew cotton from the kit and drenched it in alcohol. He held her leg, it felt warm ad soft in his hands before wiping on the wound.
"It stings," she grimaced.
"You're quite tough, Niko-san."
Niko smiled at him, "Thanks. I learn from the best."
"You're sister, huh?" Toshie said.
"I meant you, silly." She punched him gently on the shoulder.
He smiled shyly.
Niko began dabbing some medicine on his burn marks. He looked at her, she shrugged and gave a naughty smile. "You're dong me, I might as well do you."
"Hey, back there, the address you shouted," Toshie said as he unfurled a roll of bandage. "It's different from the one before."
"Yes, I moved."
She nodded, "It was after I found out that Blue Dragon creep knows where I live."
"Oh?" Toshie said as he wrapped her knee.
"Maybe you could visit me sometime?" Niko smiled.
Toshie's face reddened at that. Niko said it so innocently but his mind wandered to other ideas.
"Where is Punk Girl?" he said. "I thought she would be here."
"She's making a few connections." Niko said. "She's looking for ammo for her rifle. She'll be back later."
He nodded after wrapping up her knee.
"Do you need a ride?"
She shook her head, "I'll stay with Eve-chan."
He looked at her with worry
She caressed her arm. "Hey, we'll be okay. This was my father's lair, we'll be okay."
Toshie nodded and realised how close their faces were. When did that happen? Toshie left later on.
Toshie backed away as the man before him threw a volley of fists at his face. He stepped in on the last punch, swatting it aside with his forearm before punching the man in the gut. The man backed away and bowed.
"Thank you for the demonstration, Senpai." Toshie's opponent bowed before stepping back into the ring formed by the students.
Another student stepped forward and had a short bout with Toshie that he won. A few moments later, Toshie vanquished another of his students. Then they bowed, allowing Toshie to end the class.
"Good class," Peong said once all the students had left, not bothering to look up from his mobile phone.
"Thank you, Peong-sensei!" Toshie said before bowing.
"However, your fighting could use some work."
Toshie frowned at this. "You were watching?" he said skeptically as he never saw Peong take his eyes off the screen of his mobile phone during the class.
"Of course," Peong said, putting away his phone. "You're fast but your moves could be stronger."
"Oh?" Toshie said, trying not to sound annoyed.
"Some martial arts focus too much on speed and maneuverability and others too much on strength." Peong said. "But a true martial artists will realise there is a place for both and balance it out or when the situation calls for it, dedicate themselves fully to speed or strength. If you can properly balance strength and speed, you can fight both a cheetah and a bull."
"Okay," Toshie said, still unsure what he was trying to say.
"See, if you do that, you would not be taken down by… this!" Peong suddenly kicked low but Toshie was able to lift his leg and dodge. "Or this!" Peong tried a back hand fist but Toshie blocked with his forearm. "Or this!" Peong tried a thrusting kick but Toshie sidestepped it. "Ah, I've trained you well."
Toshie almost blurted out that he never trained him.
"But at least you can handle me when I'm using 10% of my speed and strength." Peong said before going back to play his game.
"Thanks for holding back, Sensei" Toshie said sceptically.
"You're adept at using your speed, so I don't doubt you can easily dedicate yourself fully to speed but I doubt you know how to dedicate yourself fully to strength."
"And you do?" Toshie could not help but sound sceptic.
"Of course, I'm a genius martial artist, remember?" Peong said. "You first adopt the basic stance, stabilise it and firmly plant your feet, and this will allow you to borrow strength from the Earth. Of course, I was never taught any of this as it was all but natural for me. I showed a great propensity for balancing speed and power from birth. I demonstrated speed by being born earlier than anyone expected and strength by not crying like some kind of weakling at the end of the birth."
Toshie was visibly taken aback by what he had just heard. "Okay…?"
Toshie walked into the lair with plastic bags. As soon as he climbed onto the platform he was descended on by Eve who embraced him.
"Eve-san? I'm glad you're okay." Toshie said in surprise as his face was pressed into her large chest.
"I'm glad you don't smell like that guy," she whispered, staring at Roshi.
Toshie turned around and saw Roshi. "R-Roshi-sama?"
"My rats tell me you have food." Roshi said eyeing the plastic bags.
Toshie lifted bags. "Yes, I used my allowance to buy you guys some food, thought Eve-san might need some."
"You're so nice, Toshie!" Eve said, "Niko was right about you."
"Niko talked about me?" his face lit up. "What did she say?"
"Enough!" Roshi said walking closer. "Bring some of that food here."
"Careful we still need to cook…"
Roshi reached in and pulled out half a cabbage that he began to eat, some pieces he handed to the rats on his person.
Eve found a tomato and also began eating it.
"Uhm… you two do know it is slightly better cooked right?" Toshie said as the two ate with enthusiasm.
He looked at Eve. She looked healthier, even though her skin still had that tint of green in it. She was now dressed in a black night gown too small for her. Toshie could see the cloth strain as it clung to her curvy body. Toshie's face began growing red when she remembered seeing her naked the past night.
"Toshie-kun!" Niko said as she climbed onto the platform.
"Niko-san." Toshie greeted the girl.
She was immediately greeted by the sounds of crunchy food being chewed. "You two seem to be enjoying that." She smiled at Eve and Roshi.
"What else do you have in there?" Eve said, digging in Toshie's bag until she found a tangerine, eating it peel and all.
Toshie looked on in confusion.
"Don't worry too much about Eve." Niko said. "She likes eating things raw and has some weird tastes for a vegetarian."
"She's a vegetarian?" Toshie said.
Niko nodded. "But she has quite the sweet tooth, which is why I thought we could go to the carnival."
Eve perked up at this, licking the tangerine juice from her lips. "A carnival? I've never been to one. Can we really go?"
"Yeah, the three of us." Niko said. "You'll come with us, won't you, Toshie?"
His face melted at her cute smile and he nodded. "Yeah, the carnival. What's the worst that could happen?"