A Few Good Men
A/N: Starting from this chapter, this whole story will be told in several POVs...so as to ease confusion, I've labeled each change in POV, sans this first part. The symbol *~*~*~*~*~* still means a change in scene, not necessarily a change in POV.
A/N2: "Monster" in the context here is a metaphor for a person who acted like the aforementioned.
Chapter 5--Her Again
The whistle of the train outside awakened her. She got up, only then noticing that she was alone in the apartment.
Josef had left without saying goodbye.
She stood up and shrugged her shoulders. "Oh, well..." she muttered to herself. She went to the bathroom and got herself bathed and dressed. After sometime, she went outside. It was a Sunday. She decided to walk around the block for a bit before she commences what she usually does during Sundays in Berlin, Germany. She walked out of the apartment building and walked around the street until she reached a bench. She sat down, savoring the silence that enveloped the whole city.
Silence which didn't last very long.
All of a sudden, there was a noise. She looked around at the people passing by, rushing towards one direction...to where the noise had come from, she presumed. But where...?
And then, there it was again--that noise. Now she was able to make it out more clearly. Where was it coming from? It sounded like the terrified shriek of a woman. She stood up from the bench and followed the crowd rushing by to see what was causing the noise, what was causing people to shriek like that.
And then, she was there, at the source of the noise. It was the back alley of a hardware store. There was a sizable crowd when she got there, preventing her from seeing what the commotion was all about.
Which was probably better. Or worse, depending on how one looks at it.
As it turned out, she didn't need to see anything, for her ears told her all that she needed to know. The whispers...murmurs of the people around her told her everything...more than she even wanted to know...
"Who could have done such a thing...?"
"Poor man...whoever he is..."
"Sk...skinned alive...then murdered...how...terrifying..."
"He seems so young...too young...to have died like that..."
She felt a sense of dread all around her. A sickening pit had suddenly hovered over her stomach, and threatened to come out. She closed her eyes and forced herself to block out everything that was going on around her, too afraid to find out who the victim of this...this crime was. This utterly heinous crime of being skinned alive before being murdered...there was only one who existed in this world who was capable of such a crime, and she knew who the monster was.
This monster was capable of anything, and would do anything to get what it wanted. And as of late, this monster had been denied of one target...one target it wanted so much to kill. One target which would have satisfied all of its cravings.
That target was her.
Last night, she would have been the victim of this monster...if it wasn't for HIM.
HE had saved her from this monster...but...at what price?
HIS own life?
HIS life for HERS? No, no, that can't be it, she thought to herself as she began to walk away from the crowd. This was so very familiar to her, and she couldn't believe--no, she didn't want to believe that it had happened...because she knew---she knew--deep in her heart, who the victim was.
But she couldn't believe that...because that would mean he had sold his life for hers, and she couldn't accept that. He couldn't have. He...couldn't...
It was one of those times when nature seemed cruel. Despite her extreme desire to block out the world around her just for a little while, every part of her stayed fully conscious of everything that was going on.
And everything shattered upon her.
"Wait...here...an identification! Josef Van der Bilt...aged 25...a policeman--that's what it says here..."
"Who could have done this to him?"
"Does anyone here know him? Did he have enemies? He could have, being a policeman and all..."
"Why would they do this to him?"
She opened her eyes, only then realizing that she had had them closed the whole time, and swung her eyes away from Josef's dead corpse. Just like she had promised to herself, years ago: "no dead bodies, no corpses in front of my eyes...ever."
"Why would anyone do this...to anyone?" Those murmurs would never stop.
"Why, why, why...?"
"Anything is possible, in this world." She found herself saying, out loud.
Everyone turned to look at her. Some gazed at her with contempt. Some, with wonder. Some stared at her with pity. Some just stared blankly.
Some wondered if she was actually crazy. And at that particular moment, maybe she -DID- go crazy.
Still, the murmurs continued.
At that moment, she realized that she couldn't take it anymore. She ran. She ran and ran, away from the city, from everyone. She couldn't be here anymore. "I don't belong here..." she choked out.
She then found herself staring at a grassy clearing. She ahd teleported right in the middle of a grassy clearing, with trees and flowers all around it. But not even a place like this could wipe away the pain she felt.
Only yesterday, she was with him...in the encounter with the monster, she was unfortunately wounded very badly and would have died if it wasn't for HIM. HE was the one who had tended to her wounds. HE was the one who had stayed and comforted her all through the night. He had spoken to her in the softest of voices and had held her close until she had fallen asleep.
And...something more. He had given her something more than care and attention...something she had refused to accept, but he had given all the same.
Something which had cost him his life.
She was the one who had seen him last...and at that time--he was alive...so very alive.
But now he was dead.
He had died for her, she knew that much. Thinking that the monster would leave her alone if he gave his life to it in place of hers, he offered himself. He hadn't known what the monster was capable of, but he should have known--he should have realized that it was smart, ruthless, and bloodthirsty. That it would never stop until it got what it wanted.
His sacrifice would be for naught, she realized bitterly. He should have known.
But it was no use talking or thinking like this, because he was dead.
He was dead, and she couldn't look at his dead body. She just couldn't.
She couldn't even cry for him. No tears, none whatsoever--because her eyes...had forgotten how it was to cry, long ago.
-She- had forgotten how it was to cry...and all the more painful it was.
She closed her eyes. She couldn't even let out all the emotions she felt deep inside her--the anger, the HATE...the PAIN...all of them were clamoring to burst forth out in the open...but she couldn't...she couldn't let them out...if she had known how to cry, she could have. If she could scream, she would have, but she didn't have the strength.
But her feelings...her emotions...needed to be let out...if only...she could...there has to be...a way...
And then she shattered. The wind around her got stronger. And stronger and stronger. The clouds darkened like they had never darkened before. It was a sure sign of rain. Extreme rain--or a storm.
An extreme storm--a thunderstorm.
And the rain fell.
I opened my eyes and felt the wetness all around me. The wetness of...rain? I was soaking all over, making it seem like I had been out in the pouring rain for the past couple of hours. Or maybe it was a...thunderstorm?
And all because of that dream. That dream again. Ever since I came home, here to Tokyo, I've been having the same dreams every single night. Or maybe it was a nightmare--I don't know for sure.
It was funny though, because everything that happened in that nightmare--all of it--they really happened to me.
Yes, they all happened. Two years ago, that is. Everything in that nightmare had been real--the places, the people, Josef...and that storm. All of them had been real.
I...guess that makes it more...SAD than funny...
I gave a little sigh as I sat up on my bed. I looked around my room, wondering silently of how things may change, but this room remained as it was when I left it, four years ago. Why is it that those things that happened before...are all coming back to me now that I'm here in Japan? I left Germany for many reasons, and one of them was to forget all the nightmare that had happened to me.
But for some reason, this...occurrence keeps on haunting me...
Why? This dream--nightmare...seems like...it was trying to tell me something....but what?
That...I should never try to forget whatever has happened to me?
But...what if it's just too painful...?
I heaved another sigh. Then I stood up and went to the windows. I opened the doors to the terrace by my room. I walked out and stared up at the sky. It was still dark, although the purple color of the sky clearly indicated that the sun would be up soon. I sat on the ledge and did what I used to do back when I was young--play with the wind, and float the leaves from the trees in spirals all around me.
And then, I took a deep breath, and started to sing.
I'll make a wish for you...
I closed my eyes, wishing that all the questions hovering in my mind would just go away.
And hope it will come true...
All those questions...
That life would just be kind...
My life...I didn't need them to complicate my life right now. It was complicated enough as it was, with this problem with my brother. My relationship with my brother is something I want to save, because it was all I have. HE was all I have left of my family.
To such a gentle mind...
But the past coming back to haunt me...? That's just too much. I can't have that. I can't. I just can't.
But Josef...? I had forgotten him, long ago. He was a thing of my past--a past that deserves to be forgotten because it had brought me so much pain.
But love...Love...? It has nothing to do with it. Love didn't have anything to do with it.
If you lose your way, think back on yesterday...
So...why can't I get all of it out of my mind?
Remember me this way...
Remember...? I breathed in the dawn air deeply and shook my head. No, I have to forget. I need to forget him and everything that had to do with him. Everything. For myself...and for my own peace of mind...
Remember me...this way...
Why the heck do I keep singing this song? I thought bitterly.
But I continued to sing. I couldn't stop...
Stop it. Stop it! Stop.It! I shook my head vigorously, hoping to shake the song out of my mind...out of my lips...but...
I can't. And it's just reminding me all too much of HIM. And it hurts...
Who's he? A voice interrupted my thoughts.
Literally. From the corner of my room, Schrudich stepped out of the shadows.
I gave a sigh. How long have you been here?
Long enough to hear your heart crying out for help.
I frowned. It wasn't my heart, Schrudich. I just wanted to...
Forget? Stop remembering? You've said that at least ten times now...He gave me a small smile. Can I ask you something?
He walked towards me and sat down on the ledge, across from where I was sitting. He looked straight into my eyes, penetrating, probing, the way only he could. Who's he?
You know...Josef? He raised an eyebrow, observing me thoughtfully.
I looked away. Someone I used to know.
Oh...? Where is he now?
I shrugged, turning away. I felt him shift and move a little bit closer.
What happened to him?
He...died, a long time ago.
In...Germany? I nodded without looking at him.
A long, awkward silence followed.
"I'm sorry," Schrudich spoke in that deep, husky voice, usually full of teasing and sarcasm, but now, surprisingly, he sounded sincere. At least, as sincere as he could get. But then again, this was Schrudich...
"I mean it. If he was important to you, then I really am sorry. Not sorry he died, though." I looked at him then. He still had that small smile in his face. "I'm sorry that his death is making you so sad. I don't like seeing you sad."
He was still the same old Schrudich after all, but I nodded gratefully. Thank you.
How long has it been? Now that I was facing him again, he examined my face thoughtfully.
You were sixteen when he died, then...? I nodded. But...why would you want to forget him? I mean, if he was your friend...
I don't...not really. It's just that...it hurts...when I'm reminded of him, it hurts so much...
I'm sorry. He then noticed me looking at him oddly. Like I said earlier, you know...for your pain, not for his death. I mean, I could care less if he died, but it's hurting you, and making you sad, and I don't like seeing you in pain, or in sadness...
I raised an eyebrow. "Do you really mean that?" I asked him softly, out loud.
He nodded. "Of course I do." He said. "Why, do you doubt me?"
I shook my head. "No, no I don't. I mean, not really..."
"Not really?" He sighed. "You know...if ever there were any times in my life when I was sincere, it was when it concerned you..."
"I know..." I said with a sigh. I knew he cared so much for me. And that was what I was afraid of. "It's just that...I really wouldn't know, would I? I was gone for four years, who knows what you have become?"
He shook his head sadly. "Still the same, as always. You are never gonna trust me completely, are you?"
"It isn't that, Schrudich," I countered. "I trust you with my life, you know that. You're my best friend, and you'll always be...but you know...four years is quite long..." I tried explaining.
He sighed. "You know who you remind me of?"
"That brother of yours. Remember the meeting? That's exactly what he was thinking about the two of you." He gave another sigh. "I heard his thoughts. 'Four years is too long a time and I feel like I don't even know her. She's like...this beautiful stranger who came into my life again, out of the blue.' Or something like that."
I pondered with his words silently. My brother and I, we still thought and felt on the same level. Exactly what I was thinking ever since I got back and talked with him again.
This person...he's not the brother I knew before...he's almost like a...stranger. And it's sad, really...
"So you did talk to him?" Schrudich pressed.
The way he read my mind without my permission again made me smile a little. "You're never going to change, are you, Schrudich...? You still love to read my mind without permission." I gave a little laugh.
Suddenly, he was looking at me oddly. "What is it?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Well...it's just that...your smile, and your laugh...they're the same as before...when I first met you...Futora, what's wrong?"
I looked away. Obviously, my pain was showing so much on my face, and on my smile, and my laugh...
"No. It's not that. I just know you too well. People who don't know you will never notice, but I know you, Futora." There he goes again, reading my mind...
"Schrudich, it's nothing." I insisted. "Anyway, Nagi and I did talk. Right after the meeting. But..." I lowered my eyes. "It's just as you know, Schrudich...it's like we don't know each other anymore. It's different from before, when Brad first brought him here. At that time, I felt like only the day before, I had seen him, and talked with him. But now..." my voice trailed off. It really hurt, the fact that he's my brother, and we can't even talk the way we used to. It's like...I've lost my brother...again.
"He feels the same way." Schrudich said quietly.
"How do you know?" I asked softly. I gazed at the clock. It was almost six in the morning.
"I know. Over the time you've been away, I've gotten to know him quite well. As well as he would allow, anyway," he gave a smirk. "He thinks about you a lot. And I know he feels the way you do. Sugar," he tipped my chin up and leveled my face with his. "There's no need for you to go back to that sadness where I found you when we first met. You haven't lost your brother. He's just lost, and confused. And so are you."
I smiled at him, the best smile I could muster. "You know us so well, why is that?"
Then his eyes met mine and he gazed at me for long moments. His face then broke into a grin. "Because...I'm a telepath, or have you forgotten?" He pinched my cheek playfully.
The action made me smile again, but I heard him sigh with resignation. "Futora, sugar, would it be too much to ask you to just try a little to smile your happy smile? You know..."
"...it breaks your heart to see me smile my smile that doesn't reach my eyes? I know. And I'll try, Schrudich, I really will." I promised.
He stood up from the ledge and kissed me on the cheek before he walked out.
I sighed. I wish I could do what he wanted, be happy as he wanted me to be. But with the way things are going, I doubt I'll ever be happy.
I remember his last words to me, right before I left for Germany.
"I want to remember you beautiful and happy, not beautiful and sad."
I sighed again. Schrudich, I really wish I could be. I really wish, but...
The sun was just about to rise over the horizon, and I gazed at it, thinking.
We can't always get what we wish for.
I knew that only too well. A lot of times, I have wished that everyone whom I have loved and lost would come back. But they never did. A lot of times, I have wished that I would find happiness again. And a lot of times, I have wished that I would find love.
But I never have. Maybe I never will, because I know for a fact that sooner or later, everyone I love would leave me. It's the way it has been for me, and that's the way it will always be.
I raised my eyes to the sun, now beginning to rise. The rising of the sun symbolized a new morning--a new hope for the world, and for people. A new hope that they would find happiness today, even if they didn't find it yesterday. A new hope for life...and a new hope for love.
But not for me. Some people are just meant to be sad. I am one of those people.
I smiled to myself. Maybe. For some reason, -he- came into my mind. That...young man. He was about my age. He had light blue eyes, dark blonde hair, and a very cheerful face. He made you want to smile, even if you were sad.
Maybe...he can ease my sadness a little, if that was possible.
I shrugged. The idea was pretty far-fetched. A young man...? No matter how cheerful or good-looking he may be, this sadness will never leave me. It was almost like it was part of me, like a...curse, or something...
I glanced at my watch. Seven-thirty. I had two hours before the time Brad had asked me to come back. He needed to speak with me, he had said, but he didn't give any sign or inclination of what it was going to be about.
But I knew. I came back for a purpose. I was here for a purpose, as I always was. The instant I stepped out of the plane and set foot in Japan again after four long years, I knew.
Right before I left for Germany, Brad had told me what he was. What Schrudich, and Farfello, and Nagi were. What...or rather, -who- they were. And that I was a part of that. I was one of them.
I was a member of Schwarz, which was why Brad had asked me to come to the meeting that day, though I seriously doubt that anything particularly important got talked about, for all we really did was wait for an hour to pass by, and then Brad ended it. Maybe somehow or other whatever it was that was needed to be accomplished, was accomplished with me there, though I couldn't know that for sure.
Later on, I asked Brad about it, and he told me something I didn't expect. When I was sent to Germany, I was there partly to continue studying, and partly so that I can accomplish a mission that the SZ couldn't handle. Some unfinished business, they had said. Something that would make up for the death of my parents, I was told. I believed them. I couldn't do otherwise.
My job had been to monitor the everyday activities of a particular group of people and report all of them to the SZ. I had to do that without getting caught, which was easy enough to do with telekinesis and since I was posing as a student--the truth, though only half of it.
Other than that, I was also tasked to eliminate anyone who interfered with my--and SZ's--operation. In simple terms, I had to kill anyone who got in my way.
And now...here I was. Brad had told me then that I was one of Schwarz, but I didn't know what that entailed. As soon as I came back from Germany, he had told me what they do, and what I was gonna be doing. He didn't exactly give specifics--I was gonna find that out later during our talk--but from what I understand, it wasn't very different from what I used to do back when I was in Germany, nor was it the same. It was actually both--different and the same--from what I used to do. I'm not quite sure what to make of that, but I intend to make the best of it.
I sighed, once again. Even though I know that I'm doomed to be sad forever, at least...I still have hope for other things. That's...something, I guess.
I still wonder, though, I thought as I continued walking, increasing my pace, what would have happened had I not gone to Germany? Would everything be the same as it was now? Maybe...maybe it would be different. For one thing, Nagi and I would have probably been closer, and I'd probably be happier, though I doubt that.
But everything happens for a reason, right...? I was meant to go to Germany. Nagi and I were meant to be separated for a time. And we're both confused--there's a reason for that as well.
But what could it be...?
I shook my head. There's no point in thinking about that now. I don't have the answers...at least, not yet. But I will find out soon...I hope.
And Makoto...? I wonder if I'll ever find him. I smiled to myself. If I can't have hope about anything else, at least I still have hope for that.
I looked up at the sky, at the sun shining brightly. Then I walked, slowly this time. I'll find him...soon. I will.
What about...Josef? Now why did he suddenly enter my thoughts? What about him...? He's dead. No one can bring the dead back. And even if he was still alive, I'd...I'd rather never see him again, if he would only die on me all over again. That's the way it is with people I love--eventually, they die.
I stopped walking for a moment. Alright, alright, I admit it. Once in my life, I love--loved--him. And then what happened? He died. DIED. And I couldn't even cry for him! That's what hurts the most, and at that time, I vowed to myself that I would never love again.
I would never, ever, ever, EVER love again. I started walking again, faster this time.
Never, ever. I continued to walk faster...
That sounds like...the blearing of a loud car horn coming from...I stopped dead in my tracks.
Behind me...? I froze. And then--
"LOOK OUT!!!" A male voice shouted.
I quickly glanced back to where our shop was, across the street. The sprinkler I had been holding was on the ground, and it was completely out of water. Where was the water...? Spilled along the front of the shop...? I remember now. I dropped the sprinkler from my hand the minute I heard the car's loud beep.
And now...I was still lying on the pavement. The person I just rescued was still on top of me. She was looking at me too. And I was looking back. And I could see that the expression written in her eyes mirrored my own.
We were both frozen.
Frozen in the midst of what? I don't know. But wait a minute...
Dark blue eyes...
I snapped back into focus. I shook my head and struggled to stand up. But she was still frozen. "Um...excuse me...?" I gently slapped her cheek to bring her back.
"What...? What happened...?" She looked down at me, then around her, her eyes showing an expression of bewilderment. She then gazed at herself, and finally...
"OH! I'm sorry! I'm really sorry!" Lightning-fast, she stood up.
Or at least, that's how it seemed to me. She seemed to have exemplary agility. Either that, I thought, or the fact that she was lying on top of a complete stranger on the sidewalk contributed to her quick movements.
She then held out her hand to me, helping me stand up. Now she was looking at me with questioning in her eyes. "I really am sorry, but I'd like to know what happened." She gazed at me intently.
"What happened?" I echoed. I tried to remember the previous events before my mind suddenly froze. You just saved her from an untimely death, Tsukiyono Omi. That's what happened. "I just saved you from an untimely death, that's what happened," I said dully, echoing my thoughts.
"WHAT?" She sounded incredulous.
I sighed. "You were standing in the middle of the street," I explained. "Right there--" I pointed to the center of the street across from where we were, "--when this car came speeding up. Forgiving me for siding with the car driver, but it's not everyday people just stand frozen in the middle of the street." I added.
"WHAT?" She said again.
I sighed again. "I said--"
"Not that," she shook her head. "I was just asking, what was I doing--" she stopped midsentence, then shook her head again. "Nevermind. I'm sorry. I was about to ask you what I was doing in the middle of the street, when I should know. I was the one standing in the middle of the street. Me asking that would have been pretty stupid." She gave me a small smile. "You obviously saved my life, and I should be thanking you, not shouting at you. Thank you, and I'm really sorry."
I waved my hand. "You're welcome, and it's fine. Are you alright?" I examined her closely. "You didn't get scratched or anything, did you?"
She shook her head. "I don't think so."
"We don't know that for sure. Follow me," I walked across the street, careful to look left and right to avoid another untimely death--this time, for both of us. I entered the shop.
"I've been here before..." She murmured, more to herself than to me, I guess.
But I answered anyway. "Yeah, I've seen you." I motioned for her to sit on the chair near the register.
She sat down and looked up at me. "I told you I'm not hurt." She raised her arms. "See? I don't have any scratches or cuts at all. You, on the other hand, do."
I shook my head. "No, I don't. I don't have any--" she placed a mirror in front of my face.
"Yes. Yes, you do," she insisted. "See that?" I looked at myself in the mirror. And I saw...
A cut on my face. My left cheek, to be exact. "It's not deep," she murmured. "All it needs is a little..." She raised her right hand to my face. I pushed her away gently. I was feeling pain, but I wasn't about to let her know that. I just saved her life, for crying out loud!
"I don't need any..."
"Don't push me away," she said firmly. "I know that cut hurts. And don't you try to tell me it doesn't," she warned. "It just needs a little..." softly, she ran her fingers over the cut on my left cheek...and gradually the pain receded. When I looked back at my face in the mirror to examine the cut, I saw...
I didn't see any cut. It was as if it wasn't even there in the first place. "How did you do that?" I asked with disbelief.
An innocent smile. "Do what?" She looked at me. "Now, does it hurt anywhere else? And be honest, alright? You just saved my life and I'm not about to continue seeing you in pain on my account." She examined me closely.
I shook my head. "I'm fine, really." I told her reassuringly.
She raised an eyebrow. "I hope so."
From the corner of my eye, I saw three heads peeking out from the downstairs basement. So that was where the three of them went. I was wondering why the shop was empty when I came in. I saw Yohji-kun mouthing something I couldn't quite make out. I sighed. He's probably asking me to execute another pickup line of some sort to this girl. I ignored him and turned my attention back to her.
She had bent down and was studying a row of purple irises by the chair. "Iris..." She was saying to herself.
"You like them?" I asked.
She looked up and nodded. "Yes. I like blue and purple flowers." She turned back to stroke the petals.
"The other day, you bought forget-me-nots and lilies." I murmured as I examined her profile. There's something really mysteriously familiar about her...I've felt it ever since the first time I saw her. I just couldn't pinpoint what it is. Who is this girl...?
She stood up and gazed at me. Now we were looking eye to eye, blue eyes to blue eyes. "You remember?"
She sighed. "I bought the lilies for my mother. They were her favorite flowers."
"Were..?" I asked.
She smiled, the same small smile she had given me earlier, I thought. "Uh-hm." She narrowed her eyes at me, as if she was asking herself something in her mind.
She shook her head. "Nothing. I was thinking that...the first time I saw you, it's as if...well...I knew you, somehow. Though I know we've never met." She continued to look back at me, examining me as closely as I was examining her at that moment.
"Same here." I looked at the flowers. "How can that be?"
"I don't know." She said quietly. "Can I buy these?" She pointed to the irises. "A dozen would do just fine."
"Huh? Oh, sure." I bundled up a dozen of the purple irises and gave them to her. She handed me the money.
"Thank you." We said at the same time.
"You're welcome." we said again at the same time. She looked at me and I looked at her.
We both laughed. Though her laugh kinda sounded...sad.
"I have to get going now." She told me. "Here." She handed me the bunch of flowers.
"Huh? You just bought these..." I stared blankly at the bunch of flowers in my hand.
She smiled. "It's my way of saying thank you. Although, it's not enough, considering you just saved my life. But it will do for now." She headed out the door. "Thanks again!"
"You're welcome!" I called. Then, as an afterthought, I added, "I hope to see you again."
She looked back and gave me another smile. "Same here!" Within moments, she was gone.
Come to think of it, I thought as I looked around for a place to put down the bunch of flowers in my arms, just like her laugh, when she smiled, she also looked sad...
The sound of a throat being cleared interrupted my thoughts. I looked behind me...
...and found Ken-kun grinning at me, Yohji-kun looking at me as if he wanted to strangle me, and Aya-kun gazing at me curiously to see what I would do.
"That was cozy," Ken-kun commented, looking at me, and then at the flowers in my hands.
I felt the heat crawling up my face. I forgot. The door to the basement was open, I knew it was, and they were there, watching me, watching her--watching the two of us THE WHOLE TIME, which explains why Ken-kun was teasing me, why Aya-kun was looking at me curiously...and why Yohji-kun looked like he wanted to murder me.
I sighed, then I sat down beside the cash register and braced myself for another lecture on picking up women. "What?"
"How long were you two talking, exactly?" Yohji-kun asked calmly, but I could tell he was trying to restrain himself. Here we go again, I thought.
I gazed at the clock. "About half an hour or so, I'd say," I answered matter-of-factly. "Why?" And is it any of your business, I wanted to add. But I didn't, as that would only fuel the fire he was in.
"You were TALKING to her for HALF AN HOUR and you never even thought to ASK HER NAME!" He shouted that last part.
Okay, I knew that was coming. I expected that. Why the heck was that so important to him, anyway?
"I don't need to ask what her name is," I told him reverently. "It isn't that important."
Yohji-kun's eyes widened. "Isn't -THAT- important?" He uttered incredulously. "Omi, do you know what you're saying?"
Yes, darn it, of course I knew! "Yohji-kun, for goodness' sake..." I continued dully, ignoring my thoughts. "Look, I know you somehow feel like..."
"No, you DON'T know." Yohji-kun exhaled, out of irritation or exasperation or something in between, I don't know for sure. "That might have been the only chance remaining for you to introduce yourself, and you threw it away, just like that!" He practically shouted out his last statement.
I rolled my eyes. This was too much. What did he want me to do? "You know, not everything deserves to be done YOUR way." I muttered.
"What was THAT?"
I exhaled impatiently. I rarely ever get impatient. But darn it, this was really too much. "I SAID," I could feel my voice rising as I continued, "I am NOT you, I never will BE you, and I don't see the point of ME having to go out on a limb just so I can do something which, for CRYING OUT LOUD, will distinctly mimic something you've always done with all the girls you've gotten to know of for most of your LIFE!" I finally shouted out the last word.
For about a minute or so, Yohji-kun looked confused. So, for that matter, did Ken-kun, who all the while, I forgot to note, had been listening distinctly to mine and Yohji-kun's verbal tirade and had not interrupted even for a second. Frankly, I could have used some of his support from the onset of our argument, but from the blank look on his face, I couldn't envision that happening anytime soon.
I sighed. Obviously, I was getting too angry for my own good. And I know that, when I became that way, I had the tendency to color my phrases with embellishments, just as I did a moment ago. And I know that most of the time, if not all the time, my embellishments were something only people with, shall we say, a level of intelligence more or less equivalent to mine, had the ability to understand. Not to be conceited or anything, but this is me just stating facts.
Another thing to be noted is that although Yohji-kun and Ken-kun most of the time do not get my meaning when I speak this way, someone else (other than me) is usually there to get my message across to them.
No, I'm not talking about Manx or Birman. They're never around usually when we argue. I'm talking about Aya-kun. He always seems to understand whatever I'm saying, and always seems to be able to translate my sentences in simple words everytime I can't. Which was usually all the times I got angry.
From behind where I stood, I heard a sigh identical to my own just a minute ago, which interrupted my thoughts. Aya-kun. "What Omi means, Yohji," he went on in a clipped tone, "is that he doesn't have to follow everything you say. He can't do things your way all the time. He's NOT you." He finished dryly. He omitted my last statement, which was just as well...
Yohji-kun raised an eyebrow. "REALLY," he said sardonically. "You're sure THAT's the only thing he said? Somehow, I distinctly remember hearing something about, 'all the girls I've gotten to know for most of my life'" he glanced my way, expecting an explanation. God darn it for his excellent hearing and more than exceptional memory for detail, comprehension of them notwithstanding. "Well?"
"That last part was true, Yohji," Ken-kun spoke up. Finally. I gave him a grateful look.
"Oh is THAT SO, pretty boy?" Yohji-kun said menacingly, turning towards Ken-kun. "And care to repeat which part you ACTUALLY understood?"
"That last part about your women," Ken-kun answered dully. "Omi was stating fact. I don't think he was trying to insult you or whatever you might think."
No, I wasn't trying to insult him. Not now, anyway. But when I said those words, by heck, I was.
But this had gone far enough. Why was it such a big deal with him, anyway? I mean, it's not like I lost half my life when I didn't ask her name and I didn't give her mine. At that time, seeing her to safety had been my primary motive. It had been my -ONLY- motive.
It was funny though. Just before I saw her, just before she got almost hit by a car in the middle of the street, just before I got her to safety, I was actually thinking about my latest dream. All of a sudden, my thoughts had turned to her. I wondered who she was, and, for...I don't know, probably the millionth time since I first saw her, I wondered why the heck I always thought of her next everytime I think about my dreams. It's as if she was connected to them somehow. But she's never been in any of my previous dreams.
And then, I start to wonder if I will ever see her again, and at that moment, as if the heavens heard and my wish was suddenly granted, there she was--right in the middle of the street--about to be hit by a car--and about to be saved--by me.
And this was the second time it happened since I met her, too. Not the almost accident, but me, wondering if I was ever going to see her again, and her, appearing right before my very eyes, as if to grant my wish.
Strange, but true.
If it happened twice, then...maybe it's possible that it could happen again. Which was why, this time, I didn't mind that I wasn't able to ask her name and introduce myself to her. I knew I was gonna see her again soon. All I had to do was wish for it.
"Yohji-kun," I began. There was no need for this...fight to go on any longer than it already had, and if I had to be the one to initiate the apology, then so be it.
"There is NO need for you to shout," I told him sternly. "Look, I'm sorry if I did say something that offended you awhile ago. I was just angry. Alright?"
Yohji-kun simmered down a little. "Alright. But you know kid, I still think you should have--"
"NOT that it's any of your business," I interrupted, "but whatever you think I should have done, it doesn't matter to me. But for what it's worth to you," I continued, "most people, had they been in my situation at that time, would never have considered picking that girl up as their primary motive when she was ALMOST hit by a car." I paused. "Saving her would have been the primary concern, as it was mine."
He nodded. He got what I said. Good. But then, suddenly, he was glaring at me again. "So you saved her life, and I saw that. And I get that. Damsel in distress, Prince Charming had rescued her. But what I DON'T UNDERSTAND..."
I rolled my eyes as I heard the rise in his voice again. "What?"
"WHY didn't you INTRODUCE yourself AFTERWARD? That would have been the perfect opportunity and you BLEW it!" He demanded.
This time, three of us exhaled impatiently. I don't know what the heck is it with Yohji-kun and picking up girls. It's probably an obsession, like me and computers, Ken-kun and soccer, and Aya-kun and his poetry. Or his earring. "Give it a rest, Yohji." Ken-kun said with irritation.
Yohji-kun ignored him. "I'm waiting," he looked at me expectantly.
"Shut the FUCK up, Yohji," Aya-kun muttered loud enough for all of us to hear.
Yohji-kun ignored him as well. He continued to look at me expectantly, obviously still awaiting my answer.
I sighed. He wasn't gonna give this a rest until I give an answer. " I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to do that."
"WHEN? For all you know, she might not ever come back, and you've lost your chance with her!"
"For ALL I know, I might see her again, and again and again, so I'll have plenty of chances with her," I countered.
"How do you know that?"
"I DON'T KNOW!" I said impatiently. " Look, don't ask me to explain, but I KNOW I'll see her again soon. I know it." All I have to do is wish for it, I thought, for the second time that day.
"WISH for IT? What is she, a GENIE?" He had that incredulous look again.
I rolled my eyes again. Darn it. I've said it out loud. "Never mind that, ok? Just trust me."
Yohji-kun looked at me as if he didn't believe me. Ken-kun raised an eyebrow questioningly, and I knew we were gonna have a talk about this later. Aya-kun pretty much left me alone. He's like that--pretends he doesn't care, but I knew he was just as curious as the other two.
Which was why, I thought to myself as I sighed again for the umpteenth time that day, I will have to explain what I just said to all of them soon.
But first, I mused silently as I counted up the money in the cash register, I would have to test my theory.
I'm a pretty rational, scientific person, but for the past couple of years, strange things have been known to happen around me.
Paranormal things--I knew they existed. I've been exposed to some types of it, been hurt a lot by the others.
Telekinetics. I've seen one, and I've fought with one. I've never managed to win against him, but somehow, I've never lost, either. I can't say I hated him, yet...I've never liked him either.
Telepaths. I've seen one, and I've been a victim of his one time too many--both directly and indirectly. And I didn't like it, all those times. I've never liked it. HAving someone--a stranger, no less, read your heart, your mind, your soul--without your permission--feels like something much worse than a crime has been comitted to you. Much worse.
Oracles. In the old days, in the time of the Greek Gods, that's what they were called. Right now, they're Diviners. Seers. Fortune tellers. Some of them are mere fakes, seeking money, trying to earn a living--harmless beings. Rarely does this world ever chance upon a real Oracle. I had once--and I didn't like him one bit. He used his gift to take advantage of people--used it to control others, to gain power over others. And to kill other people.
Antipaths. When I was young, I've read only of such beings, never even thought they actually existed, until I met one. Witnessed him torture other people. Been his victim, both directly and indirectly. Witnessed him laugh as he tortured others. Witnessed him laugh as people died before his very eyes, because of pains he had inflicted. Of the four, he's probably the worst. He feels no pain, physically and psychologically--and he uses that to his advantage, to inflict pain over other people. Perhaps...he was trying to feel his own pain through them? I'll never know. I don't think I ever want to know.
The four of them were paranormal beings. Extra-sensory perception, that's what they possessed. Before I met them, I never knew such people as them actually existed. But they were real.
If people like them were real, then anything was possible.
Including my theory.
Wishing someone to life? I knew there was no such thing. I didn't wish her to life. Not really. I met her before I started wishing for her to appear...and twice, she had appeared, right after I started wishing that I hope I'll see her again...
Maybe she really -WAS- a genie.
I snorted. Now -THAT- was way out of this world. Telekinetics, telepaths, oracles, antipaths--them, and their existence, I can handle. But GENIES? I mean, really.
One thing's for sure though--my theory. It has to have come from somewhere...that is why I need to test it. It might have been just a mere coincidence, but if it happens for the third time in a row, then it's gotta have an origin point somewhere. A source, somewhere.
MY HEART? Not likely...but...alright. It's possible, I suppose. But before I make the deductions, I have to see her again, in the way I've seen her these last two times, to prove my theory. Or disprove it, whichever the case may be.
WHY ARE YOU SO SURE YOU'LL SEE HER AGAIN? A voice inside me asked.
I...don't know. I just...am, I guess.
A gut feeling? Instinct? Could be.
YOU SOUND SO SURE OF YOURSELF.
That's because I am.
I'll see her again, I'm sure of it.
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