A Few Good Men
**Part One: Remember**
It had been ten long years since the last time I saw this place. Nothing’s changed.
Nothing at all.
The walls of the building still remained. The last time I saw it, ten years ago, It had the same skeleton framework that it does now.
On the front, was a fountain. At the foot of the fountain, was the carved sign, "Japanese National Police." At either side of the fountain, were carved marble benches.
A garden surrounds the sides of the building.
A beautiful sight. Yet how ironic it was that there is bitterness here as well as beauty. At least, for me.
But why am I standing here in front of the main building of the police, anyway?
I cannot answer that, because I myself do not know why I’m here. I guess something drew me.
I don’t know what it was that drew me, but it did.
The weirdest thing? This is the last place I’d ever go to, because every time I remember this place, I always feel this terrible pain shooting through my heart.
The bitter, horrible pain of loss.
I had a lot of losses.
I was eight years old when I had my first two losses. My parents. My Mother and Father—they died here, in this place. Behind the walls of that building that stands in front of me, was where I saw them die. Beneath a soundproof glass where I couldn’t even hear their pain. But I could see them clearly. And their eyes…their eyes were constantly talking to me, pleading me to listen, but no—I didn’t want to hear any of it, didn’t want to hear them dying. But those eyes…
Please, honey. We need you to listen beneath the glass. Please…
No, no, I didn’t want to hear any of it. But my mother’s eyes held my gaze. And then I couldn’t look away.
Take care of your brothers. Be strong for them. You’ll survive this, I know you will.
And then, there was my father.
You have to be strong, honey. For us. For yourself. For them. You -have- to survive. We’re not going to die. We –will- live as long as –you- are alive. But if even one of you dies…then we’ll die.
So I had to survive, for the sake of my parents, my brothers, and for myself.
My mother’s farewell. I looked away.
And then, there was them. My brothers.
I watched them right after my mother and father bid me goodbye. Then the last, killing drop of the lethal injection was plunged into their veins.
Then, there was death.
I watched them. My two younger brothers.
One of them was crying, the youngest one. Three years old then. Barely aware of anything then, yet knowing only one thing—his parents were dead, and he had no one. His little hand searched for something to cling to. Something, anything…a small flicker of hope that he wasn’t alone…his hand found my other brother’s hand. Helplessly, he clung to it, seeking comfort, reassurance—an ease for the pain he felt. A small shelter.
The other hand was cold, hard. Practically lifeless then. Clinging to it was like clinging to nothingness. My youngest brother felt that, and he cried. He cried and cried. His whimpers of pain reverberated throughout the walls of the room where we all stood, watching our parents die.
And there was him. My brother, the one that came after me. Seven years old then. He wasn’t crying. His eyes just held a blank, expressionless look. His hands and his whole body were hard, cold. He was physically there, but not there. He just stood there, almost lifeless, like a corpse. His face didn’t hold any kind of expression.
Or perhaps it held all the expressions combined that it almost seemed like there was no expression there at all.
The other people around us were wondering what was wrong with him, for they normally would expect a child to cry when he sees his parents die.
There was a loud thunderstorm outside on that same day. Rain fell as if it would never stop falling. It fell in huge, forceful cascades, like blood flow after a murder. Thunder and lightning struck the sky every so often. Many trees and lots of houses were wrecked on that day, because the lightning struck them so forcefully, as if in anger.
My brother’s anger.
And then, there was me. I stood as far away from both of my brothers as it was possible for me. I isolated myself from the other people in that place. I was too scared to go even near my brothers, because I didn’t want them relying on me.
My parents placed the responsibility of taking care of my brothers to me, but I didn’t want that. I didn’t want any responsibility. I didn’t want anybody depending on me because I had always been used to depending on someone. But I had to, now that my parents were dead.
It was funny, but I never saw my parents die. Just before they closed their eyes, I looked away. I didn’t want to see death. Since that day, I vowed to myself that I would never ever allow anyone to die right in front of me. I would never ever look at anyone dying, not even if it was a member of my family.
I hated death then. I hated it now.
Probably as much as I hate this place—THIS place where I was. The place standing right in front of me.
It’s funny how I came to be here now when I never once came here for ten long years since my parents died. Because every time I even tried to think of anything remotely connected to what happened on that day, memories flash before my very eyes…and I didn’t like those memories, for they were filled with sadness, anger, bitterness,…and death. Death. Those two fateful deaths. Deaths that I never saw.
I hastily wiped away the tears in my eyes…and found that there were no tears there. I knew I should be crying, but it felt like I had no more tears left to shed.
It was so long ago, that time when I cried last.
After death, separation came next. Social welfare came and took away all our possessions, even our house. Then they gave the three of us away to new families whom they thought were better families for us.
One separate family for each one of us.
My youngest brother was the first one to be adopted. He was taken into a small home outside of Tokyo. A year later, I found out that he ran away.
He was never found.
My brother that came before me was adopted next, by a couple with two grown up sons. A year later, I found out that the house where he lived had burn to the ground—and with it, the family.
But my brother was nowhere to be found.
I was the last to be adopted. The one who adopted me looked like he was nice. He had a younger brother who looked nice too. And so that’s how it was for several months. They gave me everything I want, long enough to gain my trust, until one day, everything changed.
I should say one night. That was the last time I ever cried, that night.
The older brother, the one who adopted me, came upon me first. Raped me. I was eight and a half then. After him, came his younger brother. Raped me also. And I tried hard, so hard, to make them stop.
But they didn’t.
And I couldn’t do anything but cry. I cried until I felt there were no more tears left. When I felt that my eyes were empty, that’s when they stopped. And along with the end of my tears, was the end of my innocence.
The brothers ran a prostitution club that sold children off for a fair amount of money, and social welfare didn’t bother to check whether they were legal or not. But as they sold me off to different men, I knew this was no cause for me to break down. I had to survive, because I had to find my brothers. I had to reunite my family.
And there was another thing I was living for. Revenge. I had to avenge my parents’ death. So I couldn’t die yet, even as many people repeatedly abused me.
One day, before I even turned nine, I found I couldn’t take it anymore. I left.
Then, about a week later, I found out on a news report on TV that the brothers—the one who adopted me, and his younger brother were dead. Their bodies were found in the apartment where we lived a week after I left. It was said that they were strangled and stabbed to death. Surprisingly, no fingerprints except their own were found.
I killed them.
But just before they drew their last breath, I fled.
After that, I became a street dweller. I usually slept at the back alley of this mall. It was dark and dirty, but I lived. Then, when it was necessary, I sold my body of to anyone who wanted it. I had to do that in order to survive. I couldn’t die yet. Not when I haven’t found my brothers, and not when I haven’t avenged my parents. Not then. Not now.
Half a year after I killed those brothers who adopted me, I had an American man for a customer. He had been nineteen then, with dark hair and eyes. To this day, I remember his face as the face of salvation.
He didn’t come to the alley to fulfill his sexual desires. He worked, for he was always dressed in a suit. But I desperately needed money. I persuaded him to take me to bed. I was nine. He was nineteen.
"I don’t do sex with kids." He said then.
"Come on. I really need the money. Just this once." I pleaded.
"How much have you got?"
He told me and I accepted.
Then he took me to a small apartment, and that’s where I was used, for the last time.
He told me I was very good.
I didn’t answer him.
"You’re a beautiful child." He said.
I still didn’t answer him. I dressed up, took his money, and got ready to leave.
"Do you have a place to go? A house?"
I turned away but shook my head to answer his question.
"Would you like to come with me?"
I turned around to face him. I had thought he was joking, but his face held the expression of a man who never lies.
And then, I don’t know why, after my first experience with men, I suddenly felt like I trusted this man, but I did. I trusted him.
"Would you like to come with me?" He repeated.
I nodded slowly.
A smile broke upon his face. To this day, I remember that smile as the smile of salvation.
Salvation had a name, and his name was Brad Crawford. He took me to a big, stately mansion on the ritzy side of Tokyo. We rode on his car to get there.
He let me in, and as I gazed at all the glory around me, he called some servants over and talked to them. Then he led me to a room on the second floor where the servants waited for me. They then bathed me, cleaned me and gave me new clothes. Afterwards, he took me to a room on the south wing of the fourth floor. He knocked and the room swung open.
There were three old people inside the room. An old woman wearing a fancy hat was surveying me with narrowed eyes. There were two old men, and the one with the beard and baldhead surveyed me thoughtfully. The other man, who had a cane in his hand, looked at my savior suspiciously.
"A stray?" The old woman said, addressing my savior.
A nod. "Found her on the back alley of the mall."
"And what do you suggest we do with her?" The old woman said harshly, scrutinizing me from head to toe, before she settled her gaze to my eyes. I stared back at her. Funny, but I wasn’t afraid of her when it seemed obvious that I should be.
My savior smiled at me and squeezed my shoulders reassuringly. "She was selling off her body when I found her."
"Oh?" The man with the cane raised his brows.
For a moment, I was alarmed that this might be another prostitution house. But then, my savior as if reading my mind, gave me a reassuring smile and I relaxed.
"Her eyes show depth. She’s had a lot of pain."
"Is she weak?" The bearded and baldheaded man narrowed his eyes.
"On the contrary." My savior shook his head. "No one can survive in that back alley too long. No one weak. I’ve been watching her since she came there, and she’s anything but weak. One might even call her fearless."
"I can see that. No one has ever looked at me squarely in the eye as she did just now." A hint of amusement laced the old woman’s tone. "Alright, Crawford. She may stay. You will take care of her. See that she gets everything she needs." Then she turned to me. "From this day on, you shall stay here. You may do everything you may wish, provided you do as we say."
I nodded. "Thank you." I murmured, giving a bow.
She then dismissed us, and as my savior led me to a room in the second floor that was to be my bedroom, I realized she never asked my name.
But I was thankful, nevertheless.
As I entered the room that was to be my bedroom form then on, my savior smiled at me. "I hope you will be happy here, Naoe Futora," he said as he closed the door.
Funny, I had thought then as I sat on the bed that was now mine, he knew my name yet I never once told him what it was.
Though puzzled as I was, I was nevertheless thankful.
I was twelve years old when a big surprise came into my life. It was three years since I started living in the stately mansion of the SZ.
Those three old people, that’s who they were. The SZ. I couldn’t have called them by any other name, for I didn’t know what their names were, and I never dared ask. Strangely enough, I found out that no one ever stayed in the mansion for very long. The three old people traveled around, and whenever they came back, they never stayed here in their Tokyo mansion for very long. Most of the time they spent here was spent in their secluded rest house way up in Mt. Fuji.
I’ve never seen that place.
As for Crawford, he never stayed in the mansion very long either. Most of the time he has he spent with his boss. His boss was some big shot politician named Takatori Reiji. All morning, he was always there, working in his boss’ office. Probably signing papers for the man. But still, he always made sure to drop by my room when he gets home, every single night. Then, we would talk. We did that so often that I was able to tell him my whole life story. He made it a point to listen to me every time I tell him something. Likewise, I listened whenever he told me things about him, for I was always barely able to get anything out of him. In those rare times when he talked, I made it my responsibility to catch every word he says. And that was how I found out of his extraordinary power.
He could tell the future. He could foresee the things that were to happen. Likewise, he could also tell the past. He was an oracle.
I found that out one night, when I was eleven and he was twenty-one. We were outside, on the terrace in my room. The wind was blowing gently, sending leaves flying from the trees towards us.
But it was no ordinary wind. I was waving my hand.
"Those men…" He began.
I snapped my head up. "What?"
"Those men who…" a pause. "You killed them." A statement, not a question.
He knew, and I never told him I killed them.
"Yes. Yes I did." I answered, looking up at the sky. "They didn’t find any of my fingerprints anywhere, but I did kill them."
"You killed them, " he continued, "with the aid of telekinesis." A statement, not a question.
I never once told him I was telekinetic.
I stopped waving my hand. The wind stopped blowing. I looked at him. "Yes." Then, I added, "how do you know these things? I never told you about them."
He didn’t answer, but he gave me a small smile. "Ironic, isn’t it? How black can be so beautiful yet so sad?"
"Crawford—" I began.
"Call me Brad, " he interrupted. "Just as you can do things, so can I. Telling the future is the gift I have. And I acquired this gift for the price of something else far more precious." A pause. "Just as you have." He then held out his hand to touch my hair. "Black. Your hair. The color of the night." He gazed at me. "Beautiful and sad, like you, Futora. But one of these days you won’t have to be sad anymore. One year from now, something will happen that will make you very happy. Then you can smile with your eyes, and not just your lips." He smiled at me reassuringly.
I returned his smile—my smile that doesn’t reach my eyes.
Will I ever smile with my eyes again? Will I ever be happy again? I was doubtful.
Yet, doubtful as I was, I was still hopeful.
And so, what he said would happen on a day when I was already twelve years old, happened. On that day, it was exactly one year after Crawford asked me to call him Brad, and exactly one year after a weird looking Irish kid joined me on the mansion of the SZ. He became one of Brad’s assistants. He had another assistant, and it was about a year and a half after he joined on that day. He was an orange-haired German with green eyes and he was about five years older than me. His name was Schrudich. The Irish kid was about two years older than me, and his name was Farfello.
I was outside that day, partly so I could enjoy the sunshine and partly so that I could avoid Schrudich’s merciless teasing. Unlike Brad who was always on Mr. Takatori’s side, Schrudich often stayed in the mansion and he was always bored. What fairly large amount of time he spent in the mansion, he spent to tease me.
And today was no exception.
The SZ mansion had a beautiful garden with lots of trees and brightly-colored flowers. You can practically call it a meadow, for it was so huge. I was sitting on what most people would call a gazebo and watching the rustle of the leaves in the trees. And no—the rustle of the leaves in the trees wasn’t controlled by me. This time, it was a natural occurrence.
I watched as a little yellow bird flew and then perched at the branch of a birch tree. It then burst into song and then once again flew. To my greatest surprise, it went straight towards me. I held out my hand and it landed on top of it.
I gazed at the little bird in wonder. Wish I could be like you. It burst into a sweetly sad melody. Wish I could fly.
A rustle. Then, the little bird flew away, as if it heard something.
Talking to animals again? A voice spoke directly inside my head.
Schrudich. I kept my gaze to direction where my little bird friend flew. I have been talking to little animals even when I was little, and Schrudich was usually the one who always sees me doing that.
You had better stop that, you know. You might end up like Farfello. He went over and sat beside me in the gazebo.
At least he’s happy. If I had led a life like he had, I would’ve want to escape reality, fast as I could. I’m worse than he is.
Whatever you say, Sugar.
Where is he?
Playing with his knives.
And me—I’m here, obviously. Think you could get away that easily?
I expected you would follow me.
Did you, now?
I’m not really used to blocking of my thoughts, you know. We’ve only known each other for a year and a half.
Yes, you are. He countered. You can block me off well. Remember that time? I’m just too darn good in digging out people’s feelings.
"Especially yours. " This time, he spoke, giving me a teasing grin.
Whatever you say, Sugar. I gave him a small smile.
His grin faded, and then he sighed. I told you never to smile at me, Sugar. You’re breaking my heart.
He always said that. For the length of time we knew each other, he always, always said that every time I smile at him.
It used to be, for about two years, only Brad and I. I used to have only Brad to turn to. He was my guardian—an older brother I never had. He made sure I had everything I needed, and it was wonderful having someone like that around. He was always ready to listen as I told him things about me, and that was better than anything could have been. He even knew things—things even I don’t know about myself.
And I don’t know if that was better, but I’d like to think it was.
But then, Brad wasn’t really around that often. Most of the time, I was still alone.
Until Schrudich came.
With him, I was, as people used to say, "an open book." That was for figurative description, but for Schrudich, it was literal. At least, to me. Just like Brad, he knew things, things that I told him, things of my past.
But unlike Brad, he knew other things, such as things I thought about in the present. Brad could only tell what had happened to me in the past and what would happen in the future. But Schrudich, it seems like he could read me—my moods, my feelings, my thoughts.
He was telepathic, as Brad was an oracle. He can do things Brad couldn’t, as Brad could do things he couldn’t. In that sense, they were equal, but he was around more often. And in that sense, he was better than Brad.
Or worse. I’m not sure where I would put it. But having him around was something for me to be thankful for.
But his being telepathic—I don’t know what to say to that.
I found out that he was indeed telepathic one day—on the first day that he came to the SZ mansion. Here.
My only other pastime, aside from talking to animals and watching the sunshine, was cleaning out the whole living room. There was a lot to clean up and dust there—there was a lot of ceramic figurines, vases, antique carved tables, and paintings all over the room. I dusted and rearranged them all, everyday. This gave the servants less to do; though I’m not sure if it’s with anger, hatred, gratitude or fear they look me with every time they pass me by as I was dusting. In my opinion, it was with fear, for who wouldn’t be afraid to see vases, paintings and figurines floating around while a feather duster was cleaning the tables?
Schrudich wasn’t afraid, for that was how he saw me the first time—surrounded by floating vases and figurines.
I didn’t notice him at first, for I was staring intently at the fancy carved table by the winding staircase. I rearranged the small figurines around the table. Then I raised up the large flower vase that was in the center. It was a very heavy vase. Even though I wasn’t carrying it manually, I felt how heavy it was. My body was practically straining from the effort of keeping it afloat.
All the while, I was thinking how expensive everything must be in the whole mansion. I wonder how much my bedroom costs? Then, briefly, I wondered where the SZ gets all the money to buy all these things. And then I started thinking, why the heck do they buy them? What’s the use of having all the fancy stuff here when they never stay too long in the mansion anyway?
Maybe they just like fancy things, don’t you think? A voice spoke directly in my head. I was so startled that the vase I was floating in midair nearly dropped to the ground. Fortunately, I was able to halt its early demise in the nick of time. I looked around, nervously, wondering where the heck that voice inside my head came from.
And that’s when I saw him. Standing in the hallway, leaning on the pillar near the door, was an orange- haired kid, about five years older than me, with his arms folded across his chest, his lips upturned in a smirk.
I hailed the vase down on top of the table gently. It’s a good thing I caught it in the nick of time, or else I would’ve…
No. No, you wouldn’t have. Again, that same voice spoke in my head. I don’t know why I turned to him, the orange-haired kid, but I did. Probably because he was the only other person in the room then.
Who the heck is that? I thought, surveying him with interest and suspicion.
Oh, are you talking about me? Again, that voice.
The orange-haired kid gave a sly grin. Schrudich. That’s my name. He pointed to himself.
That was how I figured out where the voice that keeps speaking in my head was coming from. How do you do that? I asked, still not speaking, but thinking.
Read my mind. I moved to the glass-paneled cabinets and started rearranging the China.
Oh, like this…? Well…how do –you- do that? He directed my question back to me. I was floating the plates while the feather duster moved and swept the dust away.
I guess I was born with this gift. Crawford calls it telekinesis.
Well, likewise then. But me—I’m what you call a…
A more specific term would be "telepathic".
Oh. I gently put everything back in place when I finished. Then, I went to the bathroom sink to wash my hands. After that, I found him on the living room, examining the paintings on the walls.
"The SZ seems to love landscapes, " I murmured. "That’s the usual theme of many of the paintings in this place."
He turned around and gave me a grin. So that’s how your voice sounds like. Beautiful, like the owner. There was a teasing hint to his remark.
I looked away, feeling my cheeks burning, for this was the first time a boy has ever told me something like that. Crawford didn’t count, for he was like a brother to me.
I walked towards one of the paintings, one with the sea and sky painted on the canvas. It’s really weird, though. All these beautiful things, and no one’s here much too long to appreciate them.
What about you? Don’t you count? And Crawford? He was observing me thoughtfully.
I guess you’re right. I gave him a small smile and ran my hand along the painting. I love this one, a painting of the sea. Then I realized that he’s been looking at me far too long. I looked at him and narrowed my eyes. What?
He shook his head. Something about you is strange.
Oh? I shrugged my shoulders. He had some nerve, calling me strange, when he was the one who’s been reading my thoughts ever since he came in…
I know, I know. Sorry. I’m strange too. But I didn’t mean strange as in strange. I meant…well…you have this certain aura around you… He shook his head. I can’t describe it. He sat down on the sofa and looked outside. You been here long?
About a year and a half. I continued gazing up at the paintings.
How’d you get here?
Crawford. He came to get me. We met at this back alley. I was offering him my…I stopped, for I didn’t think I’d want anyone else to know about that day.
What? His eyes widened.
No…nothing. Then, suddenly, I felt my head start to spin. Nothing…!!!!
What the heck was that?
I didn’t know. I kept thinking of what happened that day when Crawford rescued me, but at the same time, I was trying to hide what I thought to Schrudich. And at the same time, some driving force was trying to uncover my thoughts.
Schrudich stood up and caught me as I started to fall. Then, as he spoke in my head next, I knew what had happened. I’m really sorry. I’ve never had anyone block me that easily before, apart from Crawford.
You were trying to dig out my thoughts? I straightened up and stared at him incredulously.
Won’t happen again. Sorry.
Okay. I smiled. He went back to the sofa as I stared back up at the paintings.
We were silent for a couple of minutes.
"What’s your name?" A soft drawl reached my ear. Don’t ever smile at me again, Sugar. It makes my heart break to see a smile that doesn’t reach the eyes. Especially for someone as beautiful as you. He grinned at me then. This time, it was sincere.
"Futora. Naoe Futora." I smiled again despite his thoughts. So you do have a voice after all.
So you noticed.
So what –are- you doing here? Schrudich prodded.
Nothing. Just looking at the sun. I gazed up at the sun to affirm my words.
Crawford said he’d be home early.
Really? I looked down and gazed at my feet. Then, my gaze turned to his feet, and I wondered what size his shoes were.
Twelve, Sugar. He says he’s bringing someone here.
Someone? Another assistant? Aren’t you and Farfello enough?
He shrugged. Apparently not. Farfello isn’t really much help to him, you know. He only stays here and fools around with his knives all day long.
Well, so do you. You stay here all day and make my life miserable.
He shook his head, grinning slightly. Oh, Sugar, you know I only like to tease you because you never cease to make me smile.
You never liked seeing me smile.
That’s different. Anyway, as for Farfello…he’s a little insane.
He is not! Not really. I countered. He just needs understanding, that’s all.
How do you know? He gave me a suspicious look.
I’ve…talked to him.
That was true. About a week before my twelfth birthday, I was walking along the corridors of the third floor, thinking all the while, about a lot of things.
Briefly, I tried remembering if any of us four, meaning, Schrudich, Brad, Farfello and I, slept in the third floor. I knew Brad’s room was on the second floor, right across from mine, and Schrudich’s was beside that; and Farfello’s…well, I guess I didn’t actually know where he slept…I then decided it doesn’t really matter, since I don’t have any intention of talking to him. He was the strangest one of all the people I lived with.
I shook my head and told myself to stop thinking of that, since it wasn’t really that important.
Then abruptly, I recalled an instance, back when I was in what used to be our old house, when everything was still okay and everyone had been alive. My brother that came before me and I were the only ones home, along with the servants, because our mother was in the hospital with our father; our littlest brother was about to be born. I was four; my brother was three. We were exploring the third floor of our house when we came upon this strange looking room that neither of us has seen before. When we opened it, a huge, scary face peeked out and pounced on us…
If we hadn’t ran away at that time, I wonder if we’d still be alive right now…?
I shuddered at the thought of that monster that scared us, a long time ago. It had been really scary then.
But now, it was just sad.
Sad because I didn’t have my parents with me, and sad because my brothers...I wonder if I’d ever see them again. I wonder, what had happened to them? I had hope that they were still alive, but what has become of them? Four years was not enough for me to forget them, and I still thought about them quite constantly. This was one of those times. Then, briefly, I wondered if somewhere, someday, somehow—I’d ever see them again.
Then, just like everything else in my life, my thoughts took a strange turn. I thought about Crawford, or Brad, as he had asked me to call him. Brad, who still came by my room, never missing a single night to check up on me and talk to me before I went to sleep. Briefly, I wondered why such a man like him would care for me the way he does, when all the men who came into my life after my dad died only wanted to abuse me.
Then, I start thinking, he was one of the rare ones. He was my savior, and I would always think of him that way.
My thoughts then took a turn to the orange-haired young man, who constantly teased me, and usually ends up making me faint because of his extreme desire to dig up all my thoughts. I know he doesn’t mean any harm when he does that—I know he cares for me, that’s why he does that.
Then he would always say he wouldn’t try anymore to get my thoughts out of me if I don’t want to, but somehow, it usually ends up that way.
And somehow, I forgave him.
And then, he would tell me never to smile at him because it breaks his heart to see me smile. But he was the only one I knew who really makes me want to smile, even if I couldn’t. Not completely.
And so, I smile.
Then without knowing, all my walking caused me to stop abruptly as I reached a strange-looking room.
So this was his room. The one on the very end of the south wing, on the third floor—a black, dreary, creepy sort of area. Then I thought, it may seem only natural for him to choose this room. Or not.
I don’t know. But the strangest thing is, despite the growing chill in my blood, there has to be a reason why I am here. There is always a reason.
I peeked inside…and then I saw him, polishing a long, sharp knife. Farfello.
Of all the people living here, he was the one I least thought about. Or as much as possible, I tried never to think of him, for fear that my thoughts might suddenly conjure him up right in front of me, and then he would kill me. Or not.
Brad and Schrudich had told me what happened with him long ago. But as much as I felt some compassion for him, I was still afraid of him. Why? Well, the killing part was one. The other? He was just so incredibly strange. Okay, okay, we were –all- strange, but he was probably the strangest of all.
But afraid as I was, something told me to come forward and face him—my fears. Deep down, I knew I shouldn’t really fear him because he was as human as I was. In a way, we were alike—we suffered a lot in our childhood. And besides, he was the one closest to my age in this place, being only two years my senior.
I took a deep breath.
Then I knocked. The door was slightly ajar. I opened it a little bit more and let myself in. I gazed at him warily, and he was looking at me suspiciously with that one topaz eye he had left.
"Can I…sit down?" I asked nervously. He threw me another suspicious gaze, but then he nodded. I sat down on the opposite side to where he was on the bed.
Silently, I watched him as he polished that long knife that seemed so important to him. I wonder why he loves knives so much.
"Knives are the only thing I want in the world, nothing more," he said as if he heard my thoughts. He gave me a furtive glance before he went back to his knife.
"You really, really like…knives?" I asked hesitantly. "What if…what if you…accidentally get cut or…?"
"It’s okay," he answered cheerfully. "Look." He took the knife and slashed it across shoulder. A very large gash appeared, but no blood. "I don’t get hurt. I never get hurt," he sang out, smiling at me.
I gazed at him in fascination, wondering if it would be better to be like him—never sad, never hurt. No pain. That would be wonderful. "That’s great, " I said. "How come you never come down too often?"
He shrugged, putting his knife down on the bed. "I like it here."
"But down there…in the kitchen, are more knives," I said slowly. "I was thinking maybe you’d like them."
His eye lit up. "More knives?" Then his face fell. "But I don’t really like the downstairs."
"I’ll get you some knives when I come back here, then." I promised.
"I would." Then I stood up. "It’s been nice talking to you. Farfello. I’ll see you tomorrow, probably." Then I walked out.
"You will. Tomorrow, I’m giving you a gift. So come back, Futora." His voice called out.
I never thought he knew my name.
The next day, I came back with a dozen kitchen knives. Just before I left, he gave me this shiny, sharp, fancy looking gleaming knife the one he was so carefully polishing the day before—a short sword, he called it. I thanked him and promised to come by and see him everyday.
From then on, I started thinking of him as much as I thought of Brad, Schrudich, and my brothers. Strangely enough, from that time on, Farfello and I built up some sort of understanding between us.
And that was why I was there.
So there –was- a reason, after all.
Schrudich spent the rest of that afternoon with me, sitting in the gazebo and staring out at the sun and the rest of nature. We weren’t talking—only thinking quietly to each other. Sometimes he’d make a comment or two, or question me about something. Then I’d give a short and brief answer. But most of the time, we just sat there, gazing at everything.
Sometime later, I fell asleep. I don’t know how long I was asleep. I only knew that I awoke a little while later, when I felt someone tap my shoulder. Wake up, Sugar.
Schrudich. How long was I asleep? I gazed at him and gave a yawn as I straightened out my hair.
Two hours, Sugar. He smiled at me. Crawford will be here any minute. It’s better if we’re both awake to meet whoever it is that he’s bringing.
What about Farfello?
What about him? I’m very sure he’s awake. He’s on his way here. A familiar figure appeared at the glass door, which was the entrance to the garden from the living room. See. There he is now.
Farfello nodded at Schrudich, then he nodded at me and sat down beside me.
Where is Brad meeting us? Here? I gazed questioningly at Schrudich.
That’s what I told him, Sugar. He ruffled my hair as I looked at him, still with a bewildered expression on my face, because I knew I hadn’t previously told Brad I was going to be in the garden this afternoon. Sugar, you’re beautiful, you know that? Incredibly. He let his fingertips trace the curve of my cheek. That’s why Crawford cares for you so…
I moved away from him. I was so used to his teasing by now, because this was what he liked to do usually if he wasn’t digging up my thoughts. If he used to make me blush before, now I was just mildly irritated. Don’t change the subject. When did you tell him?
Just now? I gazed at him again. But…
"He’s here." A short, brief statement from Farfello.
And there he was. Brad Crawford, wearing his familiar office suit. And his glasses. And his familiar dark hair and his familiar tall stance. He held that familiar smile, that smile I remember as salvation’s smile—smile that, I knew, he could have directed only to me.
As he approached the garden where the three of us were, I looked around him, wondering where that "someone" he said he was bringing to the mansion was.
As he approached nearer, a small, thin figure behind him caught my eye. I felt my breath getting constricted in my throat as I realized who that person behind Brad was.
As four years is not enough for me to even forget about him, so is four years not enough for me not recognize that familiar figure—that stance, that face, that person…for this was a person I would know instantly and forever, whether the time we were separated was four or forty years. It made no difference.
I remember him as clearly as that time, when I was eight and he was seven.
My brother, Nagi.
Then I saw him break away, out of Brad’s shadow.
His first shout of "Oneesan!" should have brought tears to my eyes as I hugged him close and he hugged me back. I raised my hand to my eyes to wipe my tears…
Tears that weren’t there.
But there was a constriction in my throat.
I wasn’t crying, and neither was he as we hugged each other, siblings reunited after death—siblings reunited after four years. After separation there was reunion.
The most important people in my life after my parents died and when I came to be in the SZ mansion, was them.
In Brad Crawford, I found a savior—a guardian and an older brother. And during those times in my life when I so needed one, he was there. And I’m grateful for that.
In Schrudich, I found a best friend—someone who knows everything about me and chooses to know even the littlest details I won’t tell him. And for that, I’m thankful.
In Farfello, I found a person so like me, yet so different. He discovered a way to escape his troubled childhood, as I couldn’t. But through him, I found a way to escape. And I’m thankful for that.
Perhaps it had to take me knowing the three of them before I was able to reunite with my own brother. I guess it was meant for them to, whether directly or indirectly, bring my brother and me back together.
Nagi was the last piece of the puzzle the SZ needed to find. Him, plus Brad, Schrudich, and Farfello, formed what they called as Schwarz.
The SZ sent me to Germany when I was fourteen to keep on the lookout for things there and inform everyone—Schwarz and SZ—of all the happenings. I was a student in one of the schools in Berlin, and I kept track of all that’s happening there. Through this, according to the SZ, I might be able to find a way to avenge my parents’ death, avenge my lost childhood—and find my other brother, my youngest brother, Makoto Naoe.
For four years, I was the extension of both Schwarz and SZ. A secret keeper, that’s what I was. An information gatherer. A spy.
But my mind kept questioning me still, as to the reason why I am here in front of this building—the Police main building. I was no longer eight years old—I was eighteen, and I had no reason to be here. So why am I here? What was it that drew me?
I didn’t know, but something did. For there had to be a reason why I was here. There is always a reason.
I sat down on one of the benches near the fountain. Is this another one of those unexplainable things that has been happening to me lately? I shook my head. I turned my gaze to the sun setting over on the horizon. What am I still doing here? I should leave. But…
Then I looked up as a tall, casually clothed figure passed me by. He turned his head as I raised mine up, and my eyes met his, squarely.
He had blond hair, cut long, and they fell around his boyish-looking face. I could tell he was around my age, though I don’t know how I could have known that.
But what really drew me were his eyes. They were big, and a deep, incredible shade of blue.
Then, he smiled, before he turned his head and walked away.
I watched as he disappeared from my view, wondering who he was. I have never seen him before.
Something was lifted from my shoulders, and now, strangely, it seems like I had no reason to be here, before the police main building. Whatever it was that drew me to be here was gone.
Gone where? I thought, staring back to direction where that blue-eyed young man disappeared from my view. I wondered if it was him who drew me to be here.
Then I realized, it just couldn’t be.
No one can ever draw me to the last place I want to be just like that, I thought as I put on my helmet and stepped into my motorcycle.
No one can do that to me, I told myself firmly as I drove away.
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