A Few Good Men
"Good morning!" I said cheerfully as a group of girls entered the flowershop.
The girls looked over at me, then they, uh…giggled. For some reason.
I grinned at them. Then I rolled my eyes as I continued what I was doing. I was watering a row of petunias by the front entrance.
Where was I? Back at Kitten in the House in Tokyo. Two days ago, Yohji-kun, Aya-kun, Ken-kun and I went back here.
For what purpose?
I really don't know. We were doing perfectly fine in our flowershop trailer, but for some reason, we were instructed to come back here by Manx, Birman and the rest of Kritiker.
"Omi-ku~n!" A girly voice called out to me. I went to attend to the needs of the customers who came in earlier. It was a Saturday morning, and business was going positively slow.
But that was fine with me. There were a lot of things going on in my mind right now and I don't think I can handle an extensive amount of people in this state. Not that this shop ever really gets too crowded, anyway.
I wrapped up a dozen daisies and handed it to the girls. I gave them another grin as I transacted their purchase. The girls giggled -again- as they went out and said their thank-yous and good-byes in a chorus punctuated with a loud burst of giggles.
I rolled my eyes again, smiling slightly to myself. Girls.
I heard a snort behind me. I turned around to find Yohji-kun grinning at me knowingly. "You're turning into a Casanova like me, kid," he remarked, placing an arm around my shoulder.
"What are you talking about, Yohji-kun?" I raised an eyebrow and shifted, away from him.
He lowered his sunglasses and inclined his head at the direction of the door. "Those girls."
A cough. "He means," Ken-kun said from the cash register, "that you're stealing all the girls away from him. Did you see that group who came by? They didn't even give -him- a single glance because they were so busy checking -you- out." He added, giving me a grin.
"I didn't mean -that-," Yohji-kun countered. "I was going to say, you're learning, kid," he gave me a wink, "but you've still got a lot to learn. Take it from the master," he added proudly, referring to himself. "To get girls to like you, you have to talk. And," he continued, "-don't- roll your eyes so much."
I rolled my eyes.
"-There-! See," he said triumphantly. "Not very attractive."
"Yohji-kun…" I warned. He's always trying to get me to talk to girls more…
"What?" He said innocently. "I'm just trying to-"
"Omi means," Aya-kun, who was silent the whole time, "you should leave him alone, Yohji. If he needs advice from you, he'll ask for it."
"Hmph." Yohji-kun grunted.
The chimes rang as the door was opened. Yohji-kun's eyes brightened as another passel of female customers came in. "Now, Omi, watch the master in action," he said, winking at me as he went to the girls.
I met Ken-kun's eyes and we both grinned. I shook my head. Yohji-kun never changes.
Change is something that's always constant in every human being's life. In our case, it's our lifestyle that always changes. Every single day, it changes.
And for normal people, that's hardly normal. Routine--that's what's normal for them.
As for us, normal is when everything's not normal--if that makes any sense.
On the outside, we look normal--four guys who ran a flowershop--at least if you call that normal. Four ordinary guys who, like typical ordinary guys, play sports and date girls and get into fights and sometimes become victims of our own overactive male hormones and guys who come into bed at night to study or to write something or to sleep or to sleep with the newest girlfriend.
I may not be talking about all of us in general there, but each one of those possibly describes each one of us.
Another description I failed to mention is one important characteristic that all of us possess--this is one of the many characteristics that we all share. It's this: vigilance--the fact that as we sleep each night, we keep one eye and ear open.
Every single night, there is one thought that all of us have: the thought that, as we close our eyes to sleep this night, we might never see tomorrow come. Literally. Because every time we close our eyes to sleep, there's a possibility that we may never wake up again.
Each night, there's a possibility that one of us--or all of us--may die.
And I can name many colorful reasons as to why that is so.
Anyway, that's the consequence of our un-normal normal life. We thrive on danger, and ironic as it may be, this…thought--that we might never wake up again--this keeps us alive.
But don't get me wrong, it's not the fear of not waking up again that keeps us alive--it's the thought itself.
For years, we've been living like this.
Much longer for me than it was for them, though.
Six years, to be exact.
One other characteristic that we have in common is where we all came from. Simply put--our pasts. Or bitter pasts, should I say. We all came from past lives that were too painful to even remember. These are our pasts--our bitter pasts, which eventually lead us to the life we lead now.
Or does everybody have bitter pasts like we do?
You know--past lives that are just too painful to remember that it sometimes happen that you forget?
Somehow, I don't think so.
One thing different about each of us in this sense is how we deal with our bitter pasts. One of us chose to blame himself for his bitter past, one of chose to make it his mission in life to avenge for his bitter past, one of us chose to let his bitter past remain hidden from everyone else but him, and one of us chose to--or couldn't avoid--forgetting his bitter past.
What a coincidence it was that the resolution for our bitter pasts came all in one year.
Or was it really a resolution? Somehow, the events that took place in the past year didn't gave a resolution to me. If anything, the occurrences made everything in my life more of an enigma--something that it was not before the things that happened in the past year.
But looking on the bright side of things, at least now, I have a past.
Or some of it.
One thing I was glad for, at least, about the events of the past year, was that they at least gave resolutions to my friends' bitter pasts. I mean, even if their pasts weren't given really happy resolutions, at least everything's over and done with. They, at least, can go on with their lives in peace.
As for me, I know I can go on with my life, but I doubt if I'll ever have any peace.
"Omi, take charge of the cash register a moment, will you? Aya and I will just go out and get some soil." Ken-kun's voice interrupted my thoughts.
"Okay." I nodded. I watched as the two of them headed out the door, Ken-kun leading with the swift strides of an athlete and Aya-kun bringing up the rear.
I remember Ken-kun telling me once about a friend he had back when he was in the Japanese Soccer League. This person's name was Koichirou Kase and for the longest time, Ken-kun treated him as a best friend. But in due time, Ken-kun realized that Kase, whom he thought was his best friend, never was.
It hurt him a lot, and for the longest time he blamed himself for being stupid enough not to have realized it earlier because if he had, he would have been able to spare his own future--his life. But now, it was too late.
I think he still feels that was sometimes. I guess it's just normal that when something like that happens, the person most affected would think it was his fault that somehow everything that happened, well--happened. Especially for someone like Ken-kun.
"I don't choose my friends, Omi. And for one time in my life, that became my weakness."
He always said that his friends became his friends because they -did-. He said there was no reason why.
But everything has a reason. At least, that's what I think. Just as every problem has a resolution.
Speaking of resolutions, Ken-kun's resolution came to him last year, when he found Kase again. Some time after he found Kase again, he finally realized how wrong he was to trust the guy. Guess who finally made him realize that?
And that was the time when he blamed himself for the mistake he had made. Two mistakes, he said. The first one was, trusting Kase, and the other--realizing his mistake all too late.
"I did realize my mistakes, Omi, but what good can it do now that everything's too late?"
But no, nothing's ever too late…
"Now I don't even have a life. If only I can undo my actions…"
It -is- true that whatever is done cannot be undone, but there is another thing that's as true as that. It's this: the existence of something called retribution. For some, retribution means punishment, while for others, it can mean a second chance.
That was why he didn't die that time in the warehouse and that time when Kase tried to kill him--because he was given a second chance to live and build his future.
As for mistakes…
"Two mistakes, Omi. Two mistakes, and that cost everything for me."
A mistake to have a friend?
A mistake to trust in someone?
That wasn't so. If anyone made a mistake, it was Kase. All Ken-kun did was accept him and trust him as a friend--Kase did the rest. As for his death, Kase brought that to himself. I think he had that coming for him in a long time.
"Yo, kid, you're drowning the petunias." Yohji-kun's voice broke my reverie.
"Oh." I finished watering the last row of petunias and went over to the row of sunflowers also by the front. I concentrated on watering a particular area on the corner that doesn't seem to get enough nourishment. I think it's hardly noticed and constantly overlooked because of its location. But one thing I learned about plants is to never leave a single leaf, petal, branch or root uncared for.
Why? Well, because if you do, then it's as if you never cared for the whole plant at all. If you continue to miss a spot every time, pretty soon the whole plant will die, and it will be because of that one spot you missed. It's sort of like getting a cut on your finger: the cut is only on your finger, but you can actually feel the pain of it all over your body. Or like the water rippling effect: when you throw a stone in a basin of water, the effect reverberates in the whole basin and not just in the area where you threw the stone. Or like a stack of dominoes: if you push one, and it falls, all the others follow.
Simply put: one single solitary spot matters.
It's the same thing with plants. One should never miss taking care of a single petal, leaf, branch, or root of a plant, because, as I said, if a single part or area dies, the others will soon follow until eventually the whole plant dies. It's best to remember that you have to be fair if you care about something. Never leave anyone out, no matter where it is, and no matter how little it may be. It kind of goes a little something like, "if you care, be fair."
I think this analogy also works for people. People are like plants. Better yet, people are like parts of a plant--some are petals, some are roots, some are branches, some are leaves. When you care for a lot of people, you have to care for all of them equally--see that everyone gets whatever one gets, see that no one ever gets left out, no matter where he is situated or no matter how small he is--that kind of thing.
"Incoming!" A loud shout from outside caught my attention. I looked out and saw Aya-kun and Ken-kun struggling with two sacks of soil, one for each of them.
I quickly put down the sprinkler I was holding and opened the door. Both their hands were quite occupied and struggling with the sacks, so I figured they needed someone to open the door for them.
"Thanks, Omi," Ken-kun wheezed, dragging one of the sacks in.
"Took you long enough," Aya-kun wheezed, dragging in the other sack.
Yohji-kun stopped talking to the girls who came in earlier and peered at the two of them from his sunglasses. "What is the deal with you two coming in the front door?"
Aya-kun stopped for a moment and glared at him. "Nice, Yohji. Very nice. How about saying, 'can I help?'"
Yohji-kun raised an eyebrow. "Why would I want to do that? I'll mess up my new jacket."
"Yohji…" Ken-kun warned.
If looks could kill, Yohji-kun would be dead by now, the way Aya-kun was glaring at him. "In case -you'd- like to know, some -idiot- decided to place these sacks in the storehouse on the right where the nearest place to bring them in here is through the front door." Aya-kun said pointedly.
"Really?" Yohji-kun said innocently. "Now I wonder who would do such a stupid thing?" he added, grinning at Aya-kun.
"Wouldn't we -all- like to know," Aya-kun muttered as he continued dragging the sack to the back. "Dumbass."
"Aya, simmer down," Ken-kun muttered, trying to calm Aya-kun down.
Of the four of us, Aya-kun and Ken-kun have the shortest temper. Meaning to say, they get angry at the littlest things. But between the two of them, Ken-kun is easier to handle because he doesn't get angry too long at anybody, and he's also very vocal about it.
Aya-kun is a different story. He's short-tempered, but he usually kept his anger to himself. And for that reason, his anger has the tendency to be prolonged, until the time comes when everything inside him just blows. Which is one way of saying that, at least, in my opinion, his anger--the quiet anger, is the more dangerous type of anger. But lately, he's becoming more vocal about it.
Aya-kun is a perfect example of a plant that lacks watering. At least, in his opinion. He's one good example of a plant that lacks care.
Care from whom, you ask?
"That day when my parents were killed and my sister went into a coma--that was the day I stopped believing in God, Omi. He deserted me."
That was what he said to me then. A year ago, right after he, along with Ken-kun and Yohji-kun, saved me from the crutches of Takatori Hirofumi, my brother.
As I have said regarding our pasts, one of us chose to blame himself for his bitter past--this is Ken-kun. One of chose to make it his mission in life to avenge for his bitter past--this one's Aya-kun. His past had something to do with what happened to him and his family before he became Weiß.
As for the other two I forgot to mention--that comes later.
Neither Ken-kun nor Yohji-kun knew the whole story of what happened to Aya-kun and his family before he joined Weiß. I think only Uncle Shuuichi knew what really happened. As for me, I only know what Aya-kun has told me.
"It was Aya's sixteenth birthday that day. We were on our way home, but when we got to our house…" his voice trailed off. "What waited for us were two corpses. Our parents. They were dead. Murdered," he added flatly.
"We thought then, things couldn't get any worse.
"Until I heard something. I had a bad feeling, so I shouted to Aya, 'get out of here, fast!' and I started to run out, too…but I almost didn't make it. There was an explosion. I got half-buried in debris. Aya was able to get out whole.
"She started to walk towards me, to help me up. Then there was…" he paused. "A pair of headlights that zoomed in…and hit her, flat out. I was devastated.
"Before the car that hit Aya got away, I caught a glimpse of the person inside it. Takatori Reiji…" he said this in between clenched teeth, "that was the last thing I saw before I lost consciousness.
"When I woke up, I was in a hospital. I was told that Aya was in a coma and my parents…" Pain flashed across his face. "My parents were dead. I knew that. Since then, I vowed to myself that I would avenge my parents' death and kill the person who stole the smile away from my sister. Now she's just lying there, practically lifeless…
"I planned that even before your Uncle Shuuichi came up to me and asked me to become one of you. He just gave me more hope, that's all."
That was his selfish reason for joining Weiß. Vengeance--that was what he wanted.
Last year, our last mission that Uncle Shuuichi gave us before he literally breathed his last breath was to kill Takatori Reiji--Takatori Reiji, who was, incidentally, his older brother, and my father.
That's right. My father.
We were able to complete that mission shortly after Uncle Shuuichi died. Aya-kun delivered the final killing blow at him.
Back then, Aya-kun thought his problems were over, because the vengeance he so wanted had been served. But then, he realized he had another problem.
His sister was still in a coma.
Shortly after Takatori Reiji's death, some new enemies kidnapped Aya-kun's sister, wanting to use her for their own selfish purposes.
The first to kidnap her was a group of women known as Schreient who wanted to avenge their boss, Takatori Masafumi's death, by killing us, because we killed him. Takatori Masafumi, incidentally, was Takatori Reiji's second son.
They were sadly killed by another group who was the second and last to kidnap Aya-kun's sister. This group was known as Schwarz, who used to serve Takatori Reiji but actually worked for the group known as SZ who wanted to rule the world.
We fought them all, and many times we almost lost, but something kept us going. In all due time, we defeated both Schwarz and SZ, and right after that, Aya-kun's sister woke up from her coma.
Right after that mission, I had thought Aya-kun was going to quit being Weiß, but he stayed on.
As for his sister…
"She'll be alright without me. It's better for us not to be together. I don't want her to know that her brother's been killing people the whole time she was in a coma. She'll be heartbroken."
Together with Tomoe Sakura, this girl who was in love with Aya-kun, his sister (or Aya-chan) was sent to Paris on boarding school. When she didn't have school, she stayed with Sakura in her house. Aya-kun pays for her tuition, and he made Sakura promise not to tell Aya-chan that his brother was an assassin and that the money he uses to pay for her tuition came from his job. The only thing Aya-chan knew was that her brother was a flowershop clerk, and that was how he manages to send her to school abroad.
In my opinion, though, he can't keep that secret from her forever. Sooner or later, she's going to know, because, from what I surmised of their relationship as brother and sister, sooner or later she's going to want to see him.
But as much as I try to tell him that, Aya-kun's one of those people who are hard as steel when they decide to do something.
"I know what I'm doing, Omi. Don't try to tell me what I should and should not do."
Who am I to decide for him, anyway?
Sometimes, it seems, he sees us only as co-workers and not as friends who care for him and friends whom he cares for. But I know he -does- care for us. And talking about care, later on, I asked him if he still doesn't believe in God, because that's such a big revelation…
"I had thought then that He had forgotten me, but now I realize that he never had. He never forgot me. I was still alive and he gave me that so I can get a second chance at everything…you guys are a part of that, I guess."
He hardly speaks like that, but when he does…you'll really know that he cares. It's just that he's not very demonstrative.
Speaking of being demonstrative…
"I'm going to hit him in front of those girls, I swear to God I will," Aya-kun muttered darkly. "That stupid dumbass chickenshit…"
"Hey, hey, hey," Yohji-kun said mockingly. "What's that I hear? My, my, Aya…you are getting to be my kind of bird…" he placed an arm around Aya-kun's shoulder. "See this, girls, Aya's learning to swear! And -loudly-, at that! It's like…what's that thing when my traits get passed on to someone because we spend too much time together?" He asked me.
"Uh…osmosis?" I said hesitantly.
"Yeah, that's it," he said, giving me a big grin and giving Aya-kun a playful punch. I don't think he's actually aware that Aya-kun's fuming so much smoke was practically coming out of his ears.
"Yohji…" Ken-kun warned. "I don't think Aya's getting any of your jokes."
"Oh?" Yohji-kun raised an eyebrow. He peered at Aya-kun, who was glaring at him murderously. "Hmm, you look like you could use a cold bath," he remarked.
"Can't you just f**king say that you were the one who placed the sacks in the right storehouse?" Aya-kun said in between clenched teeth.
"Ohhh, is that what this is all about?" Yohji-kun said cheerfully. "Then where should I have put them? In the wrong storehouse?"
The girls giggled at his joke.
"That's so lame, Yohji," Ken-kun and I said at the same time.
Meanwhile, Aya-kun seethed some more…until he couldn't hold it any longer. He gave Yohji-kun a swift punch straight in the face, then he stormed out towards the basement.
Yohji-kun staggered down, but I could see he was laughing. "Oh, Jesus, that hurt," he wheezed, laughing as he checked out his face in his pocket mirror.
For some reason, the girls he was talking to earlier left.
Probably got scared of Aya-kun's temper.
"Yohji-kun, why did you have to do that?" I gave a sigh. "What is it with you and Aya-kun annoying each other?"
"He doesn't annoy me, for your information," he answered. "As for my teasing him a little, he could use it. He needs to lighten up a little. Now look at that," he pointed to the basement door, "I was only teasing him. He gets angry so easily. He should try to be like Ken here," he pointed to Ken-kun who was checking up the cash register, "now pretty boy here -does- have a temper, but at least he's learning to be calm. As for the redhead, he needs to stick his head in the freezer and cool of a bit. As for you, kid," he gave me a grin, "I don't have a problem with your temper. With your socializing abilities, however, that's another story. As I've told you again and again, -you- have a lot to learn with regards to talking to girls."
"I told you, Yohji, I'm okay--" I began.
"Now, now," he interrupted. "I've told you plenty of times, you have to talk a bit more. How will you ever find yourself a girlfriend? You have the looks. You have the height now, but I'm telling you, there's more to being a guy than being five foot eleven."
I rolled my eyes.
"There. See? There's that eye-rolling again." He shook his head.
I sighed with resignation. The way he was talking, you'd think he was hired by someone to be my socializing adviser.
There is nothing wrong with the way I talk to girls. It is perfectly fine, in my opinion. But Yohji-kun seems to think I need a lot more help in talking to girls.
Not that I'm not grateful. It's just that getting a girlfriend isn't the most important thing in my life right now. Life, school, and just recently, getting all my past back--those are the most important things to me right now.
Speaking of pasts, and of Yohji-kun, what I said--that one of us chose to let his bitter past remain hidden from everyone else but him--I'm talking about Yohji-kun.
Just like Aya-kun and Ken-kun, Yohji-kun's resolution to his bitter past came to him last year. But that comes later.
Yohji-kun has never really told any of us what has happened in his past. I only knew what happened from reading his file that was stored in Kritiker's database. I was able to gain access because as Weiß's researcher, Manx and Birman allowed me to use Kritiker's files. According to the file, Yohji-kun grew up in an orphanage. When he was eighteen, he left the orphanage in search of a job, and that's when he met Murase Asuka who was then a private detective. He, too, became a private detective and for two years, the two of them worked together in one case after another.
The last mission they had worked on was at the Ryotto Corporation. Unfortunately, their investigations never got completed because Yohji got shot. Later on, because he was wounded, Asuka went by herself and ended up getting herself killed in the process.
I forgot to say that I asked Yohji-kun about this sometime after Weiß took a mission that involved the Ryotto Corporation. He wouldn't say much, but he told me all I needed to know.
"I was shot. I told her to leave me, but she wouldn't do that. Not Asuka. But I insisted. So she ran out and…" A swallow. "Sometime later I heard gunshots. I knew she was dead. After that…I fainted."
The rest of that story, I knew firsthand. Just like with Ken-kun, I went to take care of him in the hospital when he was healing. The, I took him to Kitten, and briefed him the way I did with Ken-kun. Then he accepted the offer to be Weiß's third member.
I think he agreed to be Weiß so that he could avenge his partner, Asuka's death. I don't know what to think of that, but it really made me think…
It turned out that I didn't have to think. The events after the death of Takatori Reiji told the rest.
The Schreient women--or one of them in particular gave all the answers to the questions that have been lurking in my mind, but I didn't want to ask.
Or one question in particular.
Who was Murase Asuka in Yohji-kun's life?
On one of our missions, we fought with the Schreient women, and we ended up capturing one of them--the one called Neu.
It turned out that Neu was Asuka, only she'd forgotten.
-And- it turned out that she and Yohji-kun were lovers during their detective days.
Yohji-kun thought she and Asuka were finally reunited.
Or it was probably wishful thinking in his part. But…
"I love her. And now that I've found her again, I'm not letting her go. Dammit, can't you guys understand that?"
Neu's coming into Yohji-kun's life caused a lot of tension among us. She was, after all, one of the enemies.
"I trust her. She says she knows where they are hiding."
We decided to take our chances. After all, even if we didn't trust Neu, we trusted Yohji-kun, and if he trusted Neu, then…
We took our chances and listened to Neu, only to find out we've fallen into Schreient's trap.
But we weren't about to give up. Being in the enemy's lair makes us more motivated--this kind of situation hastens the flow of adrenaline in our bodies and makes us stronger than usual.
At least, stronger physically. I don't know how Yohji-kun managed to get through that day, knowing the only woman he ever really loved betrayed him.
But get through it he did. He fought Neu. The two of them fought. He and Neu--not he and Asuka, because she wasn't Asuka anymore. She was a whole new different person.
It was sad, but Yohji-kun eventually killed her.
He had to.
As he gripped the wires tightly around her neck, I saw the tears in his eyes.
Her last words, before she drew her last breath.
Yohji-kun lay her down before we escaped the collapsing building. The three other Schreient women escaped before we did.
When we got out, I heard Yohji-kun's suppressed sobs.
He didn't even want to share his grief then, but I was able to talk to him afterwards.
"Murase Asuka died, two years ago. The person who died in that building…was someone I don't know."
Those were his words. His only words.
Looking at him, you wouldn't think he had that kind of a past--very bitter and very sad. But I think he's trying to hide all his sadness under a cheerful and good-natured mask.
Oh, and I forgot to mention--cheerful, good-natured, and womanizing mask.
I don't know if his being a womanizer had anything to do with Asuka, but a womanizer he was. And I think he wants me to follow in his footsteps, which is why he's acting like someone hired him to be my socializing adviser.
"Speaking of girls," Yohji-kun placed his hand on top of my head. "Did you see that girl again? You know--at the Police Main?"
I looked at Ken-kun suspiciously, wondering if he'd told Yohji-kun.
He shrugged helplessly. "He wormed it out of me."
"So, did you see her again?" Yohji-kun asked eagerly.
I rolled my eyes at him. "No. No, I didn't."
"Oh, too bad," he remarked. "From what pretty boy here told me, you said you were tongue-tied at the sight of her. She must be quite a knockout to capture the attention of Tsukiyono Omi at first glance." He teased.
I looked away. Admit it, Omi. She -was- a knockout, I thought, recalling the incident three days ago. I remember she had really long dark hair and big dark blue azure eyes framed by long dark lashes. She had ivory-white skin, in contrast to her really dark hair. I don't know if she was tall, but she sure looked like it.
I mean, she looked like she had long legs. I wouldn't know for sure because she was sitting on the bench when we saw each other. She wore dark blue clothes that set off her eyes and skin even more.
Anyway, looks aside, I -know- I've seen her before--but where and when, I just can't pinpoint it.
"So how'd she look like?" Yohji-kun persisted.
"I already said she was beautiful."
"I know that already. Describe her. Hair color?"
"Black. I think."
"Long. I'd say about waist-length. And straight, though I'm not so sure…"
"Eyes?" Ken-kun added that one.
"How big?" Yohji-kun pressed.
"I don't know!" I said impatiently.
"Well…okay, obviously you're not very observant. How tall?"
"I don't know, she was sitting on the bench when I saw her--"
"Nevermind that," Yohji-kun interrupted. "Guess."
"About five foot…seven?" Ken-kun said, his eyes at the door. He gave Yohji-kun a nudge.
"Holy…shit," Yohji-kun muttered. "Omi, was she wearing, uhm…dark blue clothes?"
"As in short dark blue skirt, dark blue boots, dark blue top?"
"And her hair…tied back by a dark blue ribbon?"
"Yeah! How did you know that?" I asked in disbelief. "Yohji-kun?"
He didn't answer. He just continued to stare out the door.
What the heck was so interesting outside?
"Omi…turn around and look out the door," Ken-kun told me, not taking his eyes off the door.
"Why?" I turned around. "What's going on? Why are you looking out the…" I stopped mid sentence when I saw where their gazes where locked on to.
Or, more correctly, -to whom- their gazes where locked on to. I looked
And I saw…
And that's when I started coughing, for some reason. "I need to get some water." I muttered.
I started to head out, but a pair of hands stopped me. "You're staying right here."
I coughed again. "But Yohji-kun…" I whined. No, I am not looking out there. I am not looking out again. I. Am. Not. Looking. Out. There. Again. A hand moved my head, and I looked. I gave a hard swallow.
What is -she- doing here? I gave another cough.
"Omi, is that her?" Ken-kun asked.
"Guessing from the way you just reacted, I'm guessing, yeah, that's her alright." Yohji-kun said dryly. "Hey, kid, want me to go talk to her? I'll ask her name for you."
"Yohji-kun…" But Yohji-kun was already on his way to her.
She was looking at the row of roses at the outside front.
"Hi," Yohji-kun said with a grin. "You need any help?"
She gave him a small smile. "No, thanks. I'm just looking around." She headed outside and checked out the row of forget-me-nots near the door.
Yohji-kun followed her. "Uh, you like that?" He pointed to the blue flowers.
"Uh-huh." She nodded.
"Uhm…you can have it for free! Six pieces. Half a dozen." He offered.
She gave a small laugh. "No, thanks. I can pay for it." She brought out her purse and counted some money. "How much?"
"A yen and a date would be nice." Yohji grinned again.
She laughed again. "No, thanks. I don't date guys I don't know."
"Well, then…I'm Kudo Yohji. Now how about that date?"
She shook her head. "Nope. Sorry."
Yohji gazed at us and mouthed, "I'm not giving up." He turned back to her. "You know…I've got this weird feeling that we've met before," he grinned. "Do I know you?"
She looked up at him and gave another smile. "I don't think so."
"Oh come on…I'm serious! We -have- met before!" He insisted.
She shook her head. "Oldest pickup line in the book." Then, she turned away from him and went over to the daisies.
I glanced at Yohji. He looked pretty insulted. "Next time," he muttered. Nothing makes his temper flare than when girls turn him down. He went over to Ken-kun and me. He glared at me. "Let's see if you have any luck with her, kid," he took me by my shoulders and pushed me towards her.
"Ow! Yoh~ji!" I groaned as I almost lost my balance and fell in front of her. Fortunately, I managed not to make a fool of myself. "Uh…hi," I said uncertainly, giving her a small smile. "Uh…haven't I seen you somewhere before?" I added tentatively.
She smiled. "Probably."
"Really?" I said hesitantly. "Where?"
She shrugged. "Wouldn't -you- know?" She directed my question back to me.
"Well…" I paused, not knowing what to say. "Uh…what would you like to buy?"
"Ask her name."
"What? Did you say something?" I asked.
She shook her head. "I think he did." She pointed to Yohji-kun.
He rolled his eyes.
She shrugged. "I'd like to get a dozen forget-me-nots and a dozen lilies."
"Oh…okay." I gave Ken-kun a look. He came over to help me.
"Yohji said, 'ask her name'. " He whispered as he wrapped up a dozen lilies. "Come on, Omi," he added as he handed her the flowers.
"That and forget-me-nots, right?" I smiled at her, ignoring Ken-kun.
She smiled brightly. "Uh-huh."
"Here you are." I gave her the flowers and she handed me the money. My eyes met hers for a moment.
Where have I seen those eyes before?
"You really look familiar." I muttered.
She smiled again. "Back at you." She gave me a wave. "Thanks. And bye." She started to walk out.
"Hey!" I called out as she left. She turned around. "Tokyo Police Main That's where I saw you!" I said.
"Same thing!" She gave me another wave as she left.
I stared and watched as she left.
Who is she?
"O~mi!!! You know, for a smart genius eighteen-year-old with a 4.0 average, you sure are stupid." Yohji-kun went over to me and slapped my head, bringing me back to reality.
"Ow! Watch where you hit me! My humors might get shaken!" I groaned, rubbing my head.
"Humors?" Ken-kun looked bewildered.
"Brain fluids," I explained. "According to this Greek guy whose name I forgot, the brain contains several fluids which control our behavior, namely--"
"Omi, why the f**k didn't you ask her name?" Yohji-kun interrupted.
I didn't ask her name?
"I…guess I forgot," I said slowly. "Why?"
"Dumbass," he muttered. "Hel~lo??? Beautiful girl, prospective girlfriend?"
"I told you, I don't need a--"
"What? You think your humors can pass for a beautiful female human being?"
"I didn't say that."
"Then get it through your head! Next time, ask her name, get it? Ask.her.name! As in 'hi, I'm Omi and you're-?' Is that so hard? Don't ever forget it! Ask. Her. Name! Ask. Her.--"
"Hey, you mind toning it down a bit, dumbass? I'm trying to do something productive here!" Aya-kun growled out from the basement.
"So sorry, your Majesty!" Yohji-kun shouted back.
"Yohji, why are you trying so hard to hitch Omi, anyway? If he doesn't want to, he doesn't want to." Ken-kun said.
"Look, pretty boy," Yohji-kun said, putting an arm around Ken-kun, "unlike you with your girlfriend who went to Antarctica--"
"Australia," Ken-kun corrected.
"Whatever. Anyway, unlike you and that girl who drinks Frock--"
"Freud. And that's not in production anymore."
"Whatever. All I'm saying is, the kid needs to lighten up a bit too," he shrugged. "Oh, I'm not saying it should be a lot. He should just, you know--get a girlfriend, go on a date, kiss her, that's enough. I mean, he doesn't have to have sex with her or anything--"
"What? He's eighteen for godsakes!" Yohji-kun pointed out. "Okay, he can have sex with her if he wants to--"
"Yohji, can you just shut the f**k up?" Ken-kun told him. "Omi?"
"I'm ignoring him," I told Ken-kun. Why didn't I ask her name?
"Okay, since you're obviously not listening, I'll 'shut the f**k up' as pretty boy here says." Yohji-kun said.
"Thank goodness for that." I muttered.
"I'm still wondering one thing, though," Yohji-kun continued," how come the 'haven't I seen you somewhere before' pickup line works for you? She didn't buy it when I said it."
"The difference between you and me, Yohji-kun," I said to him matter-of-factly, "is that for you, it's a pickup line. For me--it's not, and she knew that."
"Well, okay. If you say so. But I still think I've seen her before." He said under his breath.
"Oh, give it up!" Ken-kun and I said in unison.
He grinned. "Kidding, kidding."
Later that night, I had a hard time falling asleep.
The same as that night when I first saw her.
I groaned, then I shifted and lay down on my side. Who the heck is she?
Who is this girl I can't seem to get off my mind?
Why can't I get her off my mind?
I shifted and lay on my back again.
I must have fallen asleep.
"Mamoru, don't go too far back! The water's deep over there!" A woman called out to me.
"Mama, look! Waterbirds!" I shouted gaily.
Did I just call her "Mama"?
"Mamoru, those are ducks. Mamoru, don't go over there, the water's too deep for you there!"
"Mamoru!" A male voice.
"Uncle Shuuichi, look! Ducks!" I shouted.
"Mamoru, swim back here! Your Mama prepared something for you. It's chocolate, and it's very good!"
"Chocolate! Yippee! Chocolate! Chocolate! " I splashed in the water again and again. "Chocolate! I want chocolate! I want--" What was happening? I was sinking. "Mama--" A cough. "Mama, I'm--I'm--" Deeper, and deeper…
"Mamoru?" A splash. "Oh, God, NO! MAMORU!" Was that woman I called "Mama" calling? What was going on? Why was it suddenly getting so dark?
"MAMORUUUU!!!!" That was the last voice I heard, then…
"Huh!" I awoke with a start. I coughed out water.
Wait…I coughed out water?
Good Lord…was I drowning in my dream?
I felt my bed behind me. Everything was wet…with my sweat, I assumed.
Good Lord…everything was so real…
This was a dream unlike any I've had before.
I mean, -before- the day I saw her, that is.
But why would she be the one to trigger this? Why?
Who is she?
That night when I first saw her…the dream I had then was similar to this one, except that I wasn't drowning. Instead, I was climbing a tree and I remember falling…then I never got to the part when I hit the ground, because that's the time when I wake up.
But in that dream, I was the only one there. No Uncle Shuuichi, no Mama.
Yesterday, I dreamt I was falling down the stairs…but I never get to the part when I hit the ground.
The day before that, I dreamt I was riding a bike, then I ran through this path and stumbled and fell…but I never remembered falling down.
Really very strange.
I got up and went into the kitchen to get some water. Then I sat down at the kitchen table and thought.
What about? Well, my dreams, mainly…and her.
Her eyes…big, deep blue…and familiar. Very familiar.
Where have I seen her before?
I gave a long sigh.
I wonder if she'll come back here at the shop.
I gave a little smile.
I hope she does.
I grinned at my glass of water.
When she comes back, I'll ask her name.
I nodded decisively.
Yes, that's right. Tsukiyono Omi. You're going to ask what her name is.
I raised the glass and made an imaginary toast.
To asking her name.
I drank and took a swallow.
And to giving her mine.
I put the glass down on the table and got up.
Maybe then I'll be able to find out a little bit more about what's been going on in my life.
I went back up to my room and sat down on my bed.
Who knows…maybe one of these days I can take Yohji-kun's advice and ask her out on a date.
I grinned slightly to myself.
At least, that's if I see her again…
And that's a big IF.
I shrugged and closed my eyes and lied down.
Be hopeful, Tsukiyono Omi. That's what you're famous for. Don't be so pessimistic. That's Ken-kun's specialty.
And don't try to be a cynic about it…you might end up like Aya-kun.
I smiled with my eyes closed.
And don't try to be so much of a Casanova. You've seen Yohji-kun going at it with her and you know it's not going to work. Not that you'd look anywhere as good as Yohji-kun, if you try to be a Casanova, anyway.
Just be yourself, Omi. Be your lovable, "smart eighteen-year-old with a 4.0 average" self as Yohji-kun says.
Maybe she'll like you for that.
Hopefully, she will.
And maybe, I added to that thought again, you'd get some answers about your past…finally.
Maybe I can finally go on with my life in peace.
That's a good thought.
Thanks to her.
I pondered thoughtfully on that last note.
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