Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
Basically there's this girl, an orphan, her counry had a huge civil war about ten years ago, but things are still tense, the government's pretty much fallen apart under the strain of trying to hold...
Taking a last glance around the pitiful people scurrying around their pitiful lives, I walked across the street to an old inn. This place couldn’t possibly be any worse than the other towns I’ve been to. There was a squeal; a little kid stumbled out in front of me.
“Sorry, lady.” He says with a freaking’ huge-ass grin on his face. I look down,
“Didn’t you mommy ever tell you not to play in the road?” I was getting annoyed now, but I didn’t want to leave the kid alone.
“My mommy’s dead, lady.” The grin disappeared. I hadn’t meant to make him sad.
“You still need to be careful, okay?”
“Alright. ‘Bye lady!” I could see a man waving to him from the other side of the street, must be his father. Even so, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something about him was familiar. Taking this as coincidence, I decided to skip town. Something about the place was off. I didn’t know what, but it made me itch right beneath my skin. Just like- I cut off that train of thought. Those days were over. Gone. Shaking my head, I turned towards the gate.
To find a someone waiting for me. As I stepped outside, he drew forward from the shadows. His face was concealed below a hood, his clothing nondescript. Yet he brought another nag at my memory.
“Why are you here?” The words were sharp as a blade. Startled, I almost stumbled. Recovering my balance, I replied,
“I was simply passing through. Not that it’s any business of yours.” I attempted to step around him, but he moved first, blocking my path.
“It is business of mine, thank you. I believe I have a right to know why you’ve come back after all this time.” Of course! That was why everything had seemed so familiar! This was my hometown. And now I knew who that voice was.
“Sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes you do. Now quit screwing around, Ka-“
“Don’t call me that!” I said, my voice dangerously low. I glared at the ground, fighting my anger for control. “That person is gone. She died a long time ago.” I left my brother standing next to the town gates, stupefied. A brief flash of guilt shot through me, but I walked on without so much as a glance back.
Damnit! Why did I have to run into him now? Just when I starting to move on from all that too! I felt like hitting something as hard as I possibly could. Someone slammed into me from behind, knocking me to the ground. I looked up, but the idiot was already far ahead of me, still running like a maniac. Slowly, deliberately I picked myself up and started walking back down the path with a sigh of resignation. Half laughing to myself, I pictured what I would’ve done to him back then. Almost wistful, I kept walking. Up ahead, I saw the running moron hit another person. I doubted he would be as forgiving as I was. Heaving a sigh, I picked my pace till I was almost running. I caught up just in time to see the running man get slugged in the face. Almost reluctantly, I stepped up to the one who punched him.
“You shouldn’t do that.” I told the man. He turned to face me,
“An who da hell’re ya ta tell me wha I c’n an’ c’n’t do?” He sneered. Typical thug type, always happy to pick on those who seem weaker than him.
“That’s none of your business. Now leave this man alone. It’s not like he really hurt you. And hell, a little dirt never hurt any of us.” I was mentally kicking myself for getting involved in this. Chances were that this thug would beat both of us to a pulp before he layed off.
He raised his fist,
“Wait, before you hit me could you at least tell me your name? Then, after you get me, I’ll tell you mine, ok?” I was frantic here, the absolute last thing I wanted was a fight. To my surprise, he stopped.
“Huh? You’re sayin’ that if’n I c’n hitcha jus’ once, you’ll gimme your name s’longs I cough up firs’? Hah! ‘At’s a deal, ya fool!” He grinned, I was really sweating now. In an effort to buy more time, I turned to the man on the ground. He looked a mess, complete with a bloody nose, and a huge black-eye blooming on his left. So this tough guy here was right handed, interesting.
“You alright?” I asked
“I guess, why’d you interfere anyway? Now we’re both gonna get it.” Geez, how old was this guy, five? He was whining like a kid who didn’t get his favorite desert or something. I really was an idiot.
“Hey! I’m over ‘ere ya idjit!” Crap. I knew what was coming; I felt the old fury rising again. Screwing my eyes shut, I hammered back with all my might. I would not let this coward get to me! “Ya c’n call me Burris.” He said. I saw a flash of movement, and before I could stop myself, I had dropped to the ground and whipped the legs out from under him. I heard the crack of skull hitting dirt. I crouched next to the half conscious Burris,
“The dead don’t have names.” I whispered in his ear, so soft that no one else could hear. Standing up, I brushed dirt off my clothes before helping the other man to his feet. “Don’t go running around like a maniac like that. Next time I won’t be here to help you.” With a faint smile hovering on my lips I began to walk again.
“Wait! I’m Itachi, who’re you?!” Itachi called after me. Without even pausing, I replied,
“Just ask your friend there. I’m sure he’ll tell you.”
I didn’t stop once for the rest of the day. I wanted to get away from that place as soon as possible. Vaguely, I wondered what happened to Itachi and Burris after I left. But, no, they weren’t important it’d be better if I forgot about them too.
“Shinjuku, eh?” I had just arrived at one of the few really big cities in the country. “Looks pretty crowded. Hope I don’t run into trouble again.” The streets ahead of me were packed with people, you could barely see the ground and progress was so slow it took almost a half hour to walk down one road.
“Oi! Girl! Get outta my way ‘fore I run you down!” I turned at the sound of the rough voice exclaiming behind me. Leaping to one side, I saw a horse go barreling past, almost clobbering several people. “What th’ hell’s your problem! Get outta my way y’baka!” Great. Now this inconsiderate clod was going to run over some kid. Watching, I wondered as to why the kid wasn’t moving out of the way. In about two seconds he would be trampled. I hoped he wasn’t just being stubborn. I couldn’t leave him there, so I plowed through the people until I drew parallel to the boy. Then I why he wasn’t moving, there was a thief standing right in front of the kid, positioned so that he invisible from anywhere but in front of the boy, and in range of the gun the thief had pointed at him. That’s why no one had pulled him away yet. They couldn’t move for fear of getting themselves shot.
“Aw, shit.” I muttered. “At this rate, I’ll never have a moment of peace.” Despite my apparent reluctance, I knew I had to help. It was the least I could do. Slowly, I slipped through the ever growing crowd. The whole time I kept a wary eye on the gunner. I saw the crazy man and his horse panting next to a building some way off. Then I was out of the crowd, behind the gun man. Using the same stealth, I sidled up to his back. Being careful not alert him to my presence, because if he got startled he might accidentally shoot the kid. I reached around the man’s body to grab the hand holding the gun. Giving his arm a clever twist, I turned the barrel of the gun around so that it pointed at the man’s own neck.
“Drop the gun.” I ordered, wishing he would hurry up. I didn’t want to be caught up in any publicity afterwards. When he didn’t move, I said it again, “Drop the gun, I’m not afraid to shoot you.” By now I had gotten my hand positioned so that I could easily pull the trigger if I wanted. Of course I wouldn’t do it, no matter how much I was tempted, but I was hoping he would fall for my bluff. His grip loosened; slowly the gun fell to the ground. I kicked it away into thee middle of the little circle made by the crowds. Relaxing my hold, the thief sank to his knees and started begging me to spare him. “Shut up. No wonder you targeted a kid, you’re no more than a coward. I hate cowards.” I walked to where the gun still lay on the ground, thinking it better to take it before some other moron tries to pull off a stunt like that. The people were slowly coming out of their shock; little groups started muttering among themselves. That was my cue to go. Stooping, I picked up the gun, checking the chamber to see how many bullets were left. It was empty. I smiled at that, the poor fool was so terrified he forgot the gun was empty. Shaking my head, I tucked the useless thing into my belt. The people had started to move now, though they all stayed well clear of the thief still lying on the ground. It was pitiful. Thinking it would be smart to get out now, before any awkward questions could be asked, I began to make my way through the crowd again. It had been a long day, so I checked into one of the local inns. Maybe things would be quieter in the morning.
Man was I wrong. I woke up to a proper mob outside my window. I guess someone saw me come in last night. Damn. I really don’t like this kinda crap. A crash sounded downstairs. Confused, I got dressed before stumbling down the steps to see what all the commotion was about. Another crash accompanied by the tinkling of glass. Would I ever get a moment’s peace? A woman was running up the stairs, I stopped her and asked just what was happening down there. She explained that the mob was after the thief’s accomplice from the night before, and they were already through trashing the main floor and were about to move upstairs. Oi. This was all giving me a headache. It was too early for a mob. It didn’t take me long to find the bottom step, unfortunately, I also found the head of the mob.
“What the hell d’you guys think you’re doing? You woke me up from my first decent sleep in weeks!” I grabbed the leader. “So? What’re you doing here?”
“We’re looking for you, you thief! You’re the one who let that bastard kid escape last night!” Eh?
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. All I know is that a man was pointing a gun at a child. Now kindly leave this inn in peace.” While I was talking, a new group had moved around me, I was surrounded. The people closed in, a shot rang out from the entrance of the inn. Every single person froze, turned, and stared almost in synch. It was a pretty cool sight, except for the fact that the high majority of them still wanted to tear me apart.
“Oi! What th’ fuck’re y’idjits doin’! Y’ don’ go causin’ trouble this early in th’ mornin’. It ain’t civilized. Y’ got dat?” The crowd parted, and I got to see who it was that could halt a full-blooded mob with just himself and a gun. “You. Come with me.” I had to admire his guts, not many people would be able to even try what he just did. I just hoped that this wouldn’t lead to more fighting.
“Before I go, mind telling me who you are?” I asked, trying not to yawn mid-sentence. He didn’t say anything. Even so, in the interest of keeping peace, I went anyway.
Once outside, he turned to me,
“Normally I would’ve let them take you, but I got some questions.”
“Such as? I’m not telepathic y’ know.” I was definitely getting edgy. It would get tricky if he started going too deep.
“You got a name?”
“Ah,” Not a nice question. I can’t stand liars though, so guess I better speak true. Nope.” A short silence,
“I don’t got one. Next question?” To my surprise he dropped the matter right away. Probably assumes that if he pushes I’ll just give him a fake name. He’s right, but still, that’s some good thinking.
“Why are you here?”
“No reason, just passing through, really.” That was absolute truth. I had no reason to lie, after all, and I really do hate it.
“Last one. Why’d you help that kid last night?” Good, another easy one.
“Would you’ve been able to leave a kid standing there with a gun pointed at his head?”
“You got me there. Now, I’ll give you five minutes to get your ass outta town. After that, well you know.” He smiled. I knew exactly what he meant, so much for seeing the big city. This is probably a record, even for me. Next one’ll make four places in just two days. Hell, if I’m lucky I might just get to make it five.
Stretching, I sat up. I had managed to find a small room at an inn in the next town over. It wasn’t much, but I was lucky to find something so late at night that I could afford. I looked around the room with tired eyes. It really was small, simple too. A bed, and a dresser, not even a mirror. Smiling faintly, I thought ‘Probably better that way. I’m not sure I’d want to see what I look like now. I mean, god, it’s been at least two years since I’ve stayed anywhere for more than a night.’ My stomach growled, jolting me out of my thoughts. I got dressed quickly, before trotting outside in search of food. On the way I checked my purse to see if I even had money left. Turning it upside-down over my hand, I sighed. The only thing left was a coin so old I couldn’t even tell what it was. “There goes breakfast.” I muttered, still looking down.
Something hit me in the back of my head before clattering to the floor. Bending over, I picked it up. It was a pebble. Tossing it out the open inn door, I scanned the room for whoever threw it. A flash of movement on the stairs betrayed the culprit. Carefully, I snuck over and peered up the steps just in time to see a small head vanish around the corner. ‘Damn kid.’ I thought, walking back down the stairs. It was too early to go chasing after some brat. Before I had even crossed the lobby, another pebble rocketed into my head. I turned around, intending to give the kid doing this a good telling off, when still another pebble hit me dead in the center of my forehead. I heard a giggle coming from the other side of the room and swiftly ascended the stairs, much to the surprise of the blonde little boy I found there. He tried to run again, but my hand flashed out and grabbed the back of his shirt.
“Hold it, brat.” I growled. “Who gave you this?” I had spotted a small sling-shot in his left hand. He made as if to loose another rock, so I reached out with my free hand and grabbed the wrist holding the sling-shot. “I asked who gave you this, or are you deaf as well as stupid?” I knew I was being harsh, but I couldn’t help it. No one, no matter how young, should go around hitting people before they’ve even had breakfast.
“Let go! It’s none of your business who gave me this.” He cried, angrily wrenching out of my grasp. He faced me, eyes flashing.
“It is my business when you go around using it to hit me.” I retorted, feeling thoroughly irritated. I must have been glaring too, because the boy suddenly quailed his mouth open as if he wanted to say something.
“What did I tell you about using that, Sam?” a soft, deep voice said from right behind me. The man it belonged to stepped forward, towards Sam who was now looking down guiltily.
“N-never to use it w-without r-reason, s-s-sir.” I had no clue what it was about this person that made the kid so nervous, but whatever it was, it got him to stop being a brat, so I guess I was grateful. I didn’t hear the rest of their conversation, it being carried out in whispers too quiet for me to catch what was said. I could still hear the rumbling sound of the man’s voice, and it tugged at a corner of my mind, his identity just out of reach.
“I hope Sam here didn’t inconvenience you, miss.” He smiled broadly as he spoke, but his words sounded hollow. Again, I tried to touch on who he was, but the answer remained out of my grasp. I looked him in the eyes as I politely replied,
“No, not at all. I simply wished to know who it was, that’s all.” I only said it for politeness’ sake, not really meaning a word of it.
“I’m glad. Go on back to the room Sam, breakfast is getting cold.” He said. The boy turned to leave, and suddenly it hit me who this person was, and why he was so familiar. My heart racing, I started to panic, I had to get out of there before he recognized me, if he hadn’t already. I took all of one step back, by the time he turned on me, his phony smile gone without a trace, like mist in sunlight.
“And just where do you think you’re going, ‘miss’” I could hear the old edge to his voice now, and as I slowly turned back around, I felt fear rising like bile in my throat. In a flash of defiance, I was disgusted with myself. How could I let this man get to me after all these years? Yet he still did. It was something about the way he was that made you fear him and respect him at the same time. “You haven’t forgotten, have you?”
“Of course not.” I said carefully, still trying to swallow my fear. I felt my hands start to shake, taking a deep breath, I began to calm down, reminding myself that he no longer had a hold over me. Forcing my face to go blank I continued coldly, refusing to give in. “How could I forget.”
“Why don’t we take a walk. Get caught up, it’s been, what, five years? Four?”
Reluctantly, I followed as he made for the stairs. How much harm could there be in talking? I shied away from the answer. I knew all too well what could come from words.
“It’s been six. And I’ll come, if you buy breakfast.” Startled at my own bravery, I mentally shrugged, why not try to make the most of this?
“Very well, I suppose, what have you been up to all this time that you have no money? I seem to remember a certain someone taking quite a bit with her before running off.” If he was trying to push my buttons, he was as good at it as ever. I grew hot with embarrassment.
“Yes, well six years is enough to stretch any wallet thin. Besides, it was slight in comparison with what you took from me.” I tried to be careful what I said, uncomfortably aware of eyes watching us from all sides. He must have known I was nervous, because he said,
“Don’t worry, it’s only my watchers, and, no. It is not anyone you would be familiar with.” I gritted my teeth in frustration, he was always one step ahead of me! “I truly have no idea what you are talking about, though. I don’t remember taking anything from you.” My frustration turned to fury in an instant. I didn’t even try to control my temper this time, I lashed out, yelling,
“You don’t remember?! What do you mean, You don’t remember?!” I felt hot tears streaking down my face, but I didn’t care, I was too angry at his impassive attitude. “You took my family! My life! Everything! You and that goddamn lying smile of yours! You bastard! How dare you say you don’t remember?!” I gasped for breath, sinking to my knees as rough sobs escaped my throat. My bout of rage left me empty, washed out by the tides of my own anger. People were staring, eyes wide, they followed as I allowed the person I hated more than anything, to pick me up and gently carry me back inside. Normally I would have fought him off, but in my condition I knew I was no match. Besides, I couldn’t help but think of all the times he had done this before, after I had collapsed from overwork or dehydration, or sometimes from the beatings I got from the other kids. As much as I didn’t want to, I slipped in sleep, still in his embrace.
In my dreams, I was a child again. Only seven years old, it was back when I had first left home. The sun was warm on my face, I was smiling as I ran around a corner. Then I was back at my house, three years later. The blacked shell was still there, desolate, in a daze I walked up to a shadowy figure standing amid the rubble.
“Father!” I called out, picked up my pace until I was running across the small yard. “Father! I’m home!” But still the figure remained still. Standing like a sentinel amid the ash. My happy smile turned to horror, as I drew close enough to see the blood stains that splashed across the walls, the only thing the fire had not burned away. I crashed through the debris, slicing my legs on the splintered wood. I froze as the solitary figure started to move, twisting to face me. A scream tore from my throat when I saw his face. It was not my father it was, I screamed again, a shrill high pitched sound.
The dream shattered, and I woke, sweat poring down my entire body. Breathing hard, I tried to shake off the dream. It was one I had often, ever since that day. The only difference this time was that the figure had a face now. The door opened, and I saw that selfsame face come waltzing in, with the oh-so-familiar smile painted on his face. Before I could stop myself, I said,
“Good morning, taicho.” Damnit! Why’d I say that? Old habits must really die hard. As if to prove that it meant nothing, I pointedly turned my back on him. “Why are you here?” I asked, not bothering to turn around.
“I could ask you the same. Judging from our conversation yesterday, you do not have the money to pay for this room.” I opened my mouth to protest, but he cut me off. “Relax. I took the liberty of paying for you. I hope you don’t mind,”
‘No. I would not let him have me in his debt again. Never.’ I thought angrily, “I can take care of myself, thank you.” I huffed, trying to cover up my embarrassment at what happened the day before.
“Oh, really?” He questioned, looking skeptical, “So how were you going to pay the innkeeper when you leave?”
“That’s my problem. I’m not a child anymore. I don’t need you here. No, that’s not right,” I continued, “I don’t want you here. You make me sick just looking at you.” It was true, every time I saw him, I felt like I was going to puke. My stomach tied itself in knots, my hands started shaking, my heart pounded like a drum. Of course, I knew it was only fear. Fear at the memories he brought swirling back into my mind. In reality, I hadn’t had that dream in years, though its true I used to have it almost every night. Fortunately, with time, I began to be able to keep focused on the present, even if I still gave in to the tug of memory every now and then, it was getting better. But now my past had come walking back into my life and torn it all to shreds yet again. Desperate to not dwell too much on these gloomy thoughts, I started talking again, “What happened to the boy?”
“Sam is still here. He was asking after you last night.”
“Really, if he still wants to see me, I’d be happy to oblige.” True, I still wanted to yell at him for throwing those rocks at me, but I also wanted to meet him, to see if he was anything like I used to be.
“Really? You looked ready to shred him earlier.” He smiled again.
“I guess I want to apologize. He’s just a kid. Besides, he seemed pretty contrite when he left, don’t you think?” there was no reply, only a faint click as the door opened.
A few minutes later, they both came back. By then I had gotten up and changed, after discovering, much to my relief, that I was still wearing my clothes from yesterday. I had also washed my face as best I could, removing the last traces of sweat.
“So you’re Kanae.” The boy, Sam, said from the doorway. Hearing the name gave me a jolt. I froze for a second, unable to speak. My mouth opened soundlessly. After a moment, I recovered my voice, but when I spoke it was frigid, even colder than ice.
“Don’t you dare call me that.” I said, standing to face him, my expression every bit as cold as my voice, “That person is dead. You have no right to speak of her.” I stepped forward, feeling my icy demeanor crack and melt. Blinking away my glare, I said, “So you’re the new one.” I knelt down, and the boy shrank back. “It’s alright. You didn’t know.” I smiled warmly, instantly cheered, Sam started asking a flood of questions, I didn’t even try to answer. I guess he didn’t see many genuine smiles. Shaking my head, I looked at his shining face. He was so happy. I felt jealous, why did this child have such a bright smile?
“um, what should I call you, then?” Apparently he realized I hadn’t been listening to his eager flood of questions.
“Huh?” I started, no on had ever bothered to ask me that before. I thought for a minute, “Sakura.”
“Why Sakura?” He questioned. I didn’t have to think this time.
“Because sakura are always more beautiful when stained with the blood of the dead.” The kid was amazed. I didn’t quite think he got my reason, but he wasn’t asking more questions about it, so I didn’t care.
“So, you, you killed someone?” wow. He actually got it. I was surprised. Smiling, I said,
“You’re a sharp kid, figure it out yourself. Now, I have a question for you.”
“Okay, what is it?” I cut straight to the chase,
“Why are you with him?” My voice was serious now, any trace of my smile gone.
“You mean the taicho?” He seemed puzzled. So much for being smart.
“Yes. I do. And in my opinion, you’re making a mistake. You should get out while you still have a chance.” I said too much. He leaped up, almost knocking me over in the process.
“What do you know?!” He shouted in my face, “You don’t know anything! He saved me! He took me in after my family was killed!” He looked ready to punch me. I tried to calm him down.
“Stop. Sam, please just. WILL YOU SHUT UP!” I finally screeched, my frayed temper snapping, “I do know. More than I hope you ever will. He did almost the same thing to me. Came to my house one day, we were a poor family, and I was the youngest of four. He offered a place to stay and good food for me at no cost to my parents. On one condition, I would be trained as a soldier for the war. I agreed almost before he finished talking. For a while I was like you, obliviously happy. Three years later, we came to my old town. I thought I’d go see how my family was. Do you know what I saw? Do you?” My fist flew out, striking the wall inches above Sam’s head. “I saw the man you call taicho standing in the middle of the ruins of my house. Surrounded by my dead family and covered in blood. At first I was in denial, constantly shoving the image from my head. Then he decided I was ready for my first fight. I was 10 then, and in about five seconds on the battle field, I had slaughtered at least fifty people. That is what he does. He takes you away from your home, gets rid of anything of anyone connecting you there, and turns you into a human killing machine. He gains your trust, most, including me, even start to see him as a father. Then he destroys you. He-“
“Stop. Stop, just stop. I don’t want to hear any more.” I snapped back to reality, the visions flashing before my eyes faded, to reveal Sam, slumped on the floor and crying, his hands shoved over his ears.
“Oh my god. I’m so sorry, Sam! I-I got carried away, I’m so sorry.” I hadn’t realized how much this must’ve hurt him to hear. It was like I said, that man was like a father to this boy. In my anger I had forgotten how shattered I was at first. Sam simply sat there, I couldn’t think what to do, so in the end I left him there, going back over to sit on the bed. My eyes traveled to a spot above Sam’s head. There was a deep dent in the wall and the wood around it was splintered. Picturing him standing up, I thought Sam’s head would’ve been literally millimeters below my fist. I felt even worse knowing this. Not only had I terrified him, but I had questioned his very life. There was a soft click, and the door creaked open. He stepped into the room.
“I heard a thud, so I thought I’d make sure you two weren’t tearing each other apart.” His eyes traveled over the room, seeing first me, then the dent, and lastly, Sam, still crying on the floor. “Tsk. You really haven’t changed. Really, such a temper.”
“Like heck you did, you’ve probably been listening to us the whole time. All part of the act, right?” I felt all my hatred welling up again, but made no attempt to quell it. At least hate was something I could take at face value. “Since you’re here, you might as well do something about him.” I jerked my head at Sam. “Shouldn’t be too hard, or is actual compassion beyond you.” Without waiting for a reply, I picked up my bag and stalked out of the room. Only to be stopped by a small hand gripping the hem of my pants.
“I never did thank you, y’know.” Sam’s weak voice came from below. Looking down, I saw past the tearstained face to the night I saved a young boy from the thief, or whoever the hack it was, that was pointing a gun at his head.
“Like I told the police, when I see a kid being aimed at, I do something. I’d hat to see another kid ruined when I could stop it.” We both managed to smile before I turned away and headed down the stairs and out the door. Walking out of town, I wondered if the money he used for my room was the same that Sam had stolen. Despite myself, a smile crept across my face. I hoped Sam would stay happy for a while longer.
Joy, another town, another idiot causing trouble. I heaved a sigh, and the smile vanished from my face. There were two of them. They were typical thug material, all muscle, no brains. And they were cornering a dog of all things. I took a step closer, and was hit with a powerful wave of stench. Even better, they were freakin’ drunk! A disgusted look came over my face. I shoved past the two of them, picked up the poor dog, and walked away. Sitting on the side of the road, I inspected the dog more closely. There was no collar or anything, but he wasn’t much hurt, just scared and dirty, probably a stray. Just my luck, he’d probably follow me around, eat my stuff, then wander off the next day. Either way, I didn’t have money for myself, much less the dog.
“Sorry li’l guy. I can’t keep you. Go on home.” He just sat there, his grimy face split by a toothy grin, his tail kicking up puffs of dust.” A shadow came over me. I looked up to see the face of one of the drunks who had been harassing the dog. A moment later he was joined by his friend.
“That’s my dog y’ got there, girlie.” I fanned a hand in front of my face, his breath reeked!
“Yeah. Its his dog y’ see? So ‘and it over.” Perfect. I couldn’t leave this poor creature to their gentle hands, but that didn’t mean I had any money for a dog. I had to think fast, one the one hand, these fools were so drunk they probably wouldn’t remember this in the morning, on the other, that also made them dangerous.
“Really? I didn’t know. I found him wandering the streets all alone. You must have been worried.” I smiled sweetly at them, “You know, I just had to help him, the poor thing, he looked so sad and hungry, even though I’ve no money myself, I had to do something!” I sobbed, shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter. I threw my head into my hands to hide my creeping smile. I heard a jingling sound, and peeked up though my fingers. The two men were sobbing now, and one of them was reaching into his pocket. He drew out a wallet and handed it to me. I guessed he had another hidden somewhere in case of pickpockets, but I could’ve laughed out loud anyway. It was too easy!
“You poor thing! No one as beautiful as you should be left like this. Where are your parents?” Sobbing still, I choked out,
“D-dead. I’m an orphan. Bandits attacked, I was out with my brother, and when we got home-“ I cut off my words with a particularly dramatic sob. To my surprise, actual tears started coursing down my cheeks. Followed closely by a tide of memories. I cursed myself for being so dumb. Why did I have to go and mention a brother? Reaching out with a shaking hand, I accepted the wallet.
“Thank you, kind sir.” I decided to look up then to really drive my story home. Seeing my face, still wet with tears, they both started gabbling about how sorry they were for me.
“Please come with us, young miss, we’ll treat you to the best meal you’ve ever had!” The first man spoke this time. I wasn’t going to turn down free food now, so I followed them, keeping my head down as if from grief. Really I just didn’t want anyone to see me like that. I might be dead broke and homeless, but one thing I’ve always had is pride.
The men took me to this posh restaurant, probably the best in town, they both ate like pigs, all the while moaning about the injustices of life. About halfway through the meal they both passed out in their plates. I quietly finished my own food, before paying the bill and slipping out. They really should be grateful, I mean they said they’d treat me, but I end up treating them. True I took their wallets as a thank you, but still. Ah, well, I sighed, best to skip town while they’re still out cold. But first, new clothes are definitely in order.
‘What the hell kinda town doesn’t even have a decent clothes store!?’ I practically screamed two hours later, after wandering over every damn street I could find. Now, not only was I hopelessly lost, it was getting dark. And somehow I didn’t think a crap-hole place like this would have streetlamps.
A huge crash came from down one of the seemingly infinite alleys, followed by another and a few sharp thwacks and thuds. I knew it would be smarter to run the other way, but I wasn’t thinking clearly, maybe not at all. Using the almost constant noise as cover, I crept forward. Peering around the corner I thought it all was coming from, I saw a flurry of movement in the shadows, but it was too dark to make out exactly what was there. A particularly large shadow stepped back, out of the shadow of the buildings.
I could’ve sworn I’ve seen him before. Too bad you can’t tell much from a person’s back.
‘O, damnit! Scratch that bit about the back.’ I thought, starting to panic. I definitely had seen him before. A few of the goons too. ‘looks like its time for a quick getaway.’ That would’ve been the smart thing to do, anyway. But it you remember, I wasn’t so smart just then. In accordance with that, I of course stayed right where I was until he was close enough for me to make out a diagonal scar running from right to left on his face. It was at that moment, my hunch about him turned into a firm belief. Finally deciding I needed to get out, I started back towards the street I came from, but I wasn’t sure if it was the right one. The mazelike qualities of this town and the constantly shifting shadows made it real easy for an outsider like me to get lost. Taking a quick glance over my shoulder, I slammed dead on into a solid brick wall. From there my head cracked against the pavement, courtesy of the constant bitch known as gravity. “Perfect. Now I’ll know his name…” My muttered words faded as I slipped into unconsciousness.
I woke up to a cold bucket of water being sloshed over my face. Not the most pleasant welcome, but I’ve had worse. Spitting, I tried to sit up, to find I was already sitting in a chair. A rough wooden thing, complete with ropes on my ankles, wrists, and stomach. So far I had no idea who did this, the sun filled room I was in was empty. Even so, I had a pretty good guess. Maybe this time he’d be kind enough to tell me his name.
“Untie her.” A shadow fell on my face. Looking up, I saw the man from what I assumed was last night, glaring down at me. One of his underlings scurried up with his head down, and fumbled with the knots, his fingers shaking so hard, it was a wonder he could manage to undo the knots. The ropes fell away, I sat there, waiting for the cramps in my legs to fade before I even tried to stand. Soon enough, I stood up, my legs still stiff.
Something rammed into my face. I felt a bolt of pain, ‘there goes my nose’ I thought, almost nonchalantly. Another jolt, this time in my stomach, I doubled over, and something slammed into the back of my head, not quite hard enough to knock me out, but still enough to knock me to the floor. The man with the scar spoke again,
“Why don’t you fight back? Do you want to die?”
“’Course not,” I said from my position near his feet. “I think I mentioned it last time we met.” I stared pointedly his scar. I could see a vein popping in his neck. “careful, don’t want to do anything rash, now do we?” I was just playing for time, I needed to figure out a way to get away without dying, or worse.
“You’re still clinging to that!?” he roared. A glob of spit narrowly missing my face.
“A promise is promise, broken or not.” A pained smile crossed my face. “If you’re going to kill me anyway, I’d at least like to know your name.”
“Why th’ hell should I tell you anything, you damn bitch!?”
“How else would I know who to haunt? I can’t go around terrorizing random idiots. Besides, it common knowledge that you should tell your name to someone before you kill them, don’t you even know that?”
“Who said I was gonna kill ya? I’m gonna make ya suffer, I’ll make ya wish ya’d never been born!” A sickening thud, he collapsed to the floor, unconscious or dead, I couldn’t tell. Either way, I’d never know his name now. Slowly, I stood up, and faced my savoir. I swear it felt like I had been punched again. Cursing fate, I took a step forward, swayed, and almost crashed to the ground. To my surprise, I stopped about a foot before I hit. An arm carefully restored me to a standing position. I hesitated for only a second, before roughly shoving away and making for the door. I started to feel faint again by the time I reached the exit, but I kept going, only glancing back once as I turned the corner. I wished I hadn’t, at that moment, I knew there was nothing I’d like better than to go back and throw myself into his arms. But I didn’t, and after that instant that seemed to last a lifetime, I continued to walk.
walked slowly, dragging my feet, praying I didn’t collapse back here. I could barely gasp when my feet slipped in a puddle. By the time I registered what happened, I was on my butt getting soaked through. I didn’t bother to move right away, but through the fog wrapped around my brain, a faint tug told me something wasn’t right.
My stomach knotted at the speed of light. Something here was sickeningly familiar…
Suddenly I was in a bloodstained field, slumped to the ground, shaking with fear and exhaustion. An acrid tang hung in the air, the same scent that now filld my nose. Something clanked in my trembling hand. Dully, I looked down, seeing,but not seeing the bloody katana clenched in my bloodless fingers. My gaze drifted, unwilling to linger on the condemning sight. I let my eyes travel up, back to the field. All around me were bodies, all dead their still open eyes wide and staring, terrified. I felt a hand on my shoulder, and with a blink, I was back in the twisting alleyways. Slowly, I started to put things together. A face came, unbidden, into my mind. Before my eyes, it transformed, changed, the kind smile became forced, he face itself drawn and pale. Then it hit me, like a bolt of lightning, searing away the lingering clouds in my mind. I leaped up, aloes to panicking, and raced as fast as I could back the way I had come. Skidding though the door of the very building I had just left, I dashed over to a dark shap laying in the middle of the floor. There was a shallow splash as I fell to my knees, and a wave of nausea rolled through my body.
“No,” I whispered, “No! No no no no no!” This couldn’t be real. But it was. I didn’t know what to feel, I was numb, in shock. Slowly, something wet ran down my face. ‘A tear?’ I thought, ‘am I crying?’ It was like a flood gate was opened, tears rushed out one after another, ragged sods wracked my body so hard, I felt like I was being torn apart. In a sense, I was. I was so pissed, why did I have to be deprived of my revenge? I wanted to scream! But whenever I opened my mouth, all came out were more sobs. I fell onto his chest, still warm. Then, through the sobs, I heard a softer noise, a dull thudding. He was still alive! No, the beats were too erratic, he was out of time.
“Kanae, you came.” For once I didn’t even flinch at the sound of my name. It was almost alien, a sound heard only in dreams and memories. “I –“ He broke off, coughing. New flecks of red joined the stains already around us. “I need to tell you something, please, hear me out.” I knew what he was going to say. I think I had always known it, I just couldn’t let myself admit it. I needed a reason to hate him. I smiled through my tear stained face, bracing myself on my arms, so I could see his face.
“I know, you bastard. So just shut up already.” The anger had all but disappeared. I was still crying, but I was happy. I threw my arms around him, bringing my face so close to his our noses were almost touching. “Thank you. For everything.” The smile I remembered spread across his face. I don’t know what made me do it, but suddenly, w were kissing, softly at first, getting harder every second. I was in heaven, everything else was forgotten, the world had shrunk so it was just the two of us.
He broke away, and I came crashing back to earth.
“Kanae, please, I have to say something. Before it’s too late. I love you, more than anything, more than- “ I put my finger on his lips cutting him off.
“I know, I love you too, Kisuke.” He smiled, even more than I remembered. Then, with the smile still frozen on his face, his bright blue eyes closed. I didn’t have to hear his heart falter and stop to know what happened. I couldn’t cry anymore, I couldn’t even move, no, I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay right there, as if by being there I could somehow bring him back.
Eventually time moved on, and dawn came. With it came a young woman, probably only a few years older than me. She screamed when she saw me there, I heard more footsteps, these ones hurried and a man who appeared to be her husband quickly bundled her way from the open doorway. He came back, looking very angry, I assumed to yell at us for scaring his wife like that. With a soft squelch, his expensive looking leather shoes stepped in the half dried blood. In all honesty, I had completely forgotten about that, and I wondered vaguely what this must look like. The anger melted, replaced by a mixture of concern and disgust. He knelt down beside us, being careful not to stain his clothes. At first he tried to pry me away, from Kisuke, but soon gave up. In the end, he tried to pick both of us up, but failed in that as well.
“I’ll be right back. I’m going to go get help, okay?” He spoke very slowly, as if afraid I couldn’t hear him. When I made no response, he simply walked away, glancing back every few steps as if to make sure we were still there.
We were in shadows again by the time he came back with another man, who looked like hired muscle.
“What the hell is this?” He wasn’t looking at us when he said it, I wondered what he meant, then I remembered the kidnappers. I hadn’t even looked at them when I came back. Must’ve been bad, a faint smile tugged at the corners of my mouth as I imagined what they were seeing. The man from before, the rich one, saw my mouth twitch,
“Come on! I’m not paying you to stare at bodies! We need to get her back to my office, now.”
‘Office?’ I thought, ‘must be a doctor.’ I felt a pull on my arms, the muscle was trying to pry me away. Instinctively, I clutched even tighter than before. Just like the doctor, this guy gave up too. When the pulling stopped, I relaxed slightly. They wouldn’t try again. I was moving. I was impressed, this guy had to be strong to be able to carry both of us like that. A gentle rocking motion, much in contrast to the jerky movements of the muscle guy, slowly calmed me down. And while I still didn’t move, I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up stiff, and alone. I heard voices, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Very carefully, I tried to sit up, not even getting an inch off the bed before I had to stop, every muscle in my body shrieking in protest. I couldn’t see much of the room I was in, only the ceiling, really. It was simple wood, but the bed was soft even though it was small. There was a clean small to the air and I figured this must’ve been the office the rich guy was talking about earlier. A door opened, and I caught a few snatches of conversation.
“I told you before! No! I have no idea what the situation is, but that girl is clearly in shock. God only knows what will happen if she sees you!” That sounded like the doctor, he was yelling at someone,
“I don’t care if she’s in shock! That girl is obviously the prime suspect for all those killings! And don’t give me that crap about shock. How much did she pay you to say that!?” The second voice was new, I didn’t recognize it at all. I did manage a small laugh at the suggestion that I’d be able to pay anyone for anything. A door slammed open and thudding footsteps crossed the room in a matter of seconds. “Sit up, girl. I know you can hear me.” I didn’t even bother trying, I simply whispered,
“Can’t.” My voice didn’t sound like me, it was rough and scratchy. I inhaled, and almost choked. I started hacking like you wouldn’t believe. The doctor rushed in, furious and started yelling. I didn’t listen, I was still hacking. Finally the man left. Muttering something about common sense, he started fluttering around like a mother hen. Normally I would’ve been curious as to what he was doing, but something else had caught my attention. Through the open door a new set of voices drifted. This time it was the doctor’s wife turning away whoever it was.
“Please come back tomorrow.” She insisted. “There’s been a bit of trouble.”
“What happened?” The second voice demanded. It was another man, but he sounded familiar. “Please, let me see her.”
“I’m sorry I can’t do that. I don’t even know who you are.”
“But you said she wouldn’t give you her name, right? Please, I have to see her!”
“No. Even if she was in condition to have visitors, we don’t even know who you are!”
“I’m sorry, I’m Kotonami Kieji, and that girl in there’s my sister! It has to be!” I started.
‘Onii-chan? What was he doing here?’
“Well, if she’s your sister, you must know her name.”
“I’m so sorry, but she doesn’t use it anymore. It would be cruel of me to tell you without her knowing.”
“Well now, aren’t we the gentleman!”
“Onii-chan…is it, really you?” Of course my voice came out as no more than a whisper, but the doctor was still there, pacing across the room. He stopped when he heard me. Calling very carefully to his wife,
“Let him in, dear.” She protested, probably more out of pride now than anything else. With a final huff, her footsteps retreated to another room. Slowly, I heard my brother approach the bed. He didn’t say anything at first. But I could see his gentle face was worried. He hadn’t changed at all. His black hair was still a mess, his green eyes still sharp, I tried to smile at him, to tell him I was okay, but the words wouldn’t come. A lump rose in my throat, a single tear leaked out of my eyes.
“He’s gone Onii-chan.” I couldn’t see anymore, blinded by tears, I felt rather than saw the pain on his face. I felt his strong arms lift me up, stiffly, I forced my own to return the hug. When he finally let go, I had stopped crying, although my face was still wet.
“Kan-“ He stopped, guilty. I knew what he was thinking.
“It’s okay.” I croaked, “I’m not running anymore.”
“Kanae, can you tell me what happened? I know I’m asking a lot, but…” He trailed off. I could guess where he was going. He wanted to make sure I was alright, he wanted to help me. That was so like him.
“It’s a long story. Are you sure you want to hear it?”
Well, that wasn’t quite what I expected. I hope you all liked it. Although, if you ask me, the ending was too neat. Hmm…maybe I’ll rewite it, but it’ll do for now. Thanks for reading!