[When You Gonna Learn]
Omi took the dark long jacket with the cross straps on the arms from Youji's closet, studied it, hung it over his shoulder and closed the closet where the faint smell of Youji's cologne lingered. Even the jacket had this familiar scent. It was almost his signature cologne, because he would wear nothing else.
Youji called it 'rubbish psychology' and laughed when Omi suggested that if he couldn't be faithful to one woman then he couldn't be using just one cologne.
'We'll be there in twenty minutes - no, make it fifteen.' Aya turned off the mobile phone and started the car when Omi got on, speeding through the dark, empty highways of daybreak Tokyo. Street lamps became flashes and lines of light flying past them, trees blurs of dark green, snow an endless white lace curtain that hung from the brightening sky.
He could barely see far ahead in such snowstorm, but he narrowed his eyes and drove on, nodding when Omi reminded him to be careful because if they crash then the Balinese was doomed. Youji. Youji was with them all along. He was working, alone in that dark little room, preparing the way for them, living in danger. And what did Aya repay him with?
'I punched him.'
Omi blinked, then realised Aya had just spoken. 'What?'
'I hit Youji when I saw him earlier. I called him a traitor.' Aya bit his lip, making an abrupt turn to take a short cut. 'I goddamn ran and punched him and he just stood there. That pale face bastard just let me hit him then he left without saying anything!'
Why didn't you listen to yourself? You knew something, you saw in Youji's poor attempt to smirk that something was terribly wrong. You could tell from that ill face, from the way he walked, the way he dressed, everything. Why the hell did you think he was standing outside Kitten at that hour of the day? You just had to hold on to that unimportant pride of yours, hadn't you? Couldn't you put that down for a few minutes, for a friend who had saved you?
'Aya-kun, he knows. Youji-kun's smart enough to know we all care.' Omi sighed, carefully checking each dart in his coat. 'This isn't the time for guilt.'
Aya knew that. It wasn't the time for guilt or regret, but he just wished, just wished that he had stopped to think why he felt that way, to understand that he had been wrong, as a friend, as a partner, to not give a helping hand when Youji needed it the most. Aya knew, all along, that he was the one to blame, but the failure to admit his own mistakes made him put his anger onto Youji instead. Aya refused to believe in his friend, refused to listen to that little voice in his heart called faith…
'I didn't deserve it.'
'What do you mean?'
'He saved me with his life. Why couldn't I be like you two and just - '
Omi held tight when Aya spun the car around to take another short cut, but his head banged against the window nonetheless. He rubbed his head with the heel of a hand as he spoke. 'Aya-kun, the pain would go away, as long as there isn't a scar. I hope you didn't make Youji-kun's teeth fly out with the punch. He'd hate you for it if he couldn't play his playboy role anymore.'
Aya managed a small smile. 'No I didn't.'
'But, to be serious, Youji-kun won't blame you. He left us like that to make us hate him and you just fell into his trap. You did the very thing he wanted. I don't know about Ken-kun, but as you know… I don't remember a thing of the past. I've been in Weib since I can remember and to think Youji-kun isn't a part of us anymore is to deny my own living, because he was the one that said to me "instead of clinging onto something you can't remember, why not treat it as your rebirth".
'It might mean very little to you, but it was like somebody suddenly telling me that the past wasn't important anymore, because together we could create better memories for the future - corny, isn't it.'
Omi almost saw the face of the men who surrounded him, all those years ago… then everything was gone, like the television had been switched off, there was nothing left but darkness. He lost count of how many times this had happened, but Youji was always there to catch him. He let his fallen body relax in Youji's arms just for a few moments, like a child cradled by his parent, and he wondered if his parents ever cared about him enough to hold him like that when he was a child.
'You remembered something…' Youji pulled off his sunglasses, looked worriedly at Omi's sweating face, then felt the forehead. No, there wasn't a fever. He put the boy onto the sofa and got him some coffee.
'I can't remember. I can't remember… I almost saw some faces, but every time…'
'Let it go, Omi. Keep on thinking about it won't do you any good.'
'But Youji-kun, everybody have memories. A person is shaped by his past, his experiences - things he achieved, things he failed, the people he met… I don't have any of it. Without memories, a person isn't complete…'
The mug felt warm against Omi's skin, and he held it until his fingers couldn't bare the heat anymore, then put his palms on his cheeks to warm his face up.
'If you've forgotten, then you've forgotten, so don't be too harsh on yourself. Instead of clinging onto something you can't remember, why not treat it as your rebirth. Not many people get a second chance; most of us have something we want to forget. You're fine as you are, knowing what had happened before might change you in a negative way. You can't guarantee you had a better life before, and life isn't too bad now, is it?'
'My point is, Aya-kun, he was one of the few people that made me Omi, along with you and Ken-kun. I had to believe in him. If I don't, I lose my battle with the past. But Youji-kun won't blame you, and there's always time to make up for things we've done wrong.'
They found Ken outside a factory. It looked almost like a haunted castle in this weather, though the sky had started to brighten into a greyish pale blue as the snow continued to fall, determined to bury the land alive.
Ken smiled and got his gloves from Aya's car along with the explosives, noting that Aya had taken most of what they had - he was prepared to make a good show out of this. Then he took off the usual sweater tied around his waist and tied Youji's jacket on instead. 'They're expecting us, so we're walking into a lion's den.'
'Only idiots do that.' Omi looked up at the concrete building, loading his hunting bow with incredible speed. 'But we're all idiots, stupid enough to let Youji-kun to do things on his own.'
Aya took one step forward. 'Let's show them what it means to anger us idiots.'
His blood was boiling. His body tensed, doubled up to bring the knees towards the chest, and he tried to bite on his clothing, get anything to bite hard on, as if that would make it better. Then suddenly he was cold, beyond freezing, he couldn't move, couldn't even use the muscles to breathe. The suffocating feeling intensified, as if air was being pumped out of his body, and he tried to move, to hit his head against the wall, to do anything that would make him lose consciousness so that he didn't have to feel all these.
Youji's empty stomach tried again and again to throw up. His hair was caked with sweat, stuck to his face, his lips, some in his mouth, in his eyes. The belts around his wrists and ankles refused to barge, cutting into his flesh, his broken arm once again warned him of further damage if it wasn't released soon. Youji couldn't sleep anymore, his body would not relax without a drug and the feeling of nausea, the sharp, heart clenching pains, and the apparent abrupt temperature changes tormented his tired body.
This was worse than he had ever been through. He had never been without heroin or methadone for so long, and though he knew about the side effects, he had chosen to use methadone to block away the withdrawal symptoms, just to get himself function for long enough to complete the mission. But now… there was nothing to get him going except the knowledge that he would soon be saved.
'You think any of us will want to pick up your dead body?'
'No…' Youji muttered to Aya's voice in his head, 'I'm not gonna drift off like that… it's about teamwork now. Teamwork, baby… You know what teamwork is, Aya?'
The ground shook, then came the familiar smell of gas, of things being burnt, of flesh, of blood. Screams and shouts filtered their way into the locked room, but Youji was silent.
Turn around get Aya down on the floor don't let him get hurt close your eyes feel the heat the blood the screams of death
No, this time they would protect him instead. Explosions, shots, promises of death, these were outside, just outside, not here in this room where peace and silence embraced him like he had never felt it before. His friends would protect him with their white wings… they were all winged beings…
This was it. The top floor. The boss was always at the top floor, by human nature that the powerful one wants to be above everyone else. The poison on the darts took effect and the men fell dead one by one. Those that dodged the darts met the cold flash of Aya's blade or Ken's sharp claws. Bloody bodies scattered around and they proceeded, avoiding the puddles of dirty blood, of still-warm flesh. Stepping on human remains could chill one out worse than killing a human.
Omi wished they could have gone for Youji first. They all wished. But Youji risked his life to find out who the Pope was, and he would want them to finish that off first, they knew. They would not find him until Maiko Shirakawa was dead. This woman must die.
That fear stricken face was nothing unfamiliar to Weiß . The woman backed off, freezing when she had been cornered, and said one word. Mercy. Black tears ran from her eyes, her makeup melting together into two wet lines on her face.
No mercy. Not for what she had done to Youji . No targets would get away alive
'Who'll do it?' Ken whispered.
'I will.' Aya lifted his blade. Light hit on the cold metal, shining like a white strip on his blood-splattered face. 'Embrace repentance, and die.'
The wavy-haired man slowly opened an eye, blurred images gradually forming into the familiar outline of his friends. He could tell it was Ken so up close to his face because of the scent. Ken always smelled of baby powder, or that was the closet description Youji could give to the scent. Ken smelled of nice, hot showers, of baby powder, of everything sweet and comfortable, of home. He was okay, closed skin, not bleeding anywhere. The dream was fake, so was Youji's life for the past eight months, but that didn't matter, because they had came to fetch the kitten home.
'Sorry to make you wait.' Not making any comments about Youji's looks, which was terrible beyond description, Ken began untying the belts around the limbs, gasping when Youji winced - there was a broken arm.
'…Last night you said you'd see me tomorrow. You're… right on time.'
Waves of sickness hit Youji again, his gut twisting, his head getting too heavy to lift, urging him to switch off from reality. With every trace of strength he had left, he fought down the feeling. Not in front of his friends, not now. Dammit. He hadn't thought of any jokes, not in his current state. His must have left his sense of humour at home. His vision eventually sharpened, and he saw Omi crouching down beside him, not saying a word. The young man must be horrified to see him like this.
Come on, say something… distract the attention…
'…Omi, I've been wondering…'
'Yeah?' Omi helped Youji bring his arms forward again, not daring to touch near where it broke.
'Last time… did you give me CPR?'
Youji tried to stand up. Not a good idea. His knees were jelly. He fell, then someone grabbed him under the arms from behind to hold him up. Aya.
'… I guess it doesn't matter…' Youji wiped his lips with a hand, smirking. He hoped they didn't see that he was trying to wipe away the acids he had thrown up. 'But don't take advantage of me again… I know you're in that confusion period all the teenagers go through but next time… don't try things out on me. As much as you admire me… don't.'
Omi laughed. Youji's attempt to sidetrack their attention was feeble, but he laughed anyway, because Youji wanted him to. With Aya supporting Youji, Ken untied the jacket around his waist, slipping it carefully on Youji. Then he took out the watch he had found in the dead woman, Maiko Shirakawa's room and put it back on for his friend. 'Balinese, you should work in your gear. Don't even think about doing anything like this again.'
Youji smiled that careless smile of his, gesturing 'got it' with his good hand. They were a sensitive bunch. Just like him. 'Mission…'
'Accomplished.' The rest of Weib answered.
They fell silent again when Aya supported Youji's weight and limped their way out. The entire building was burning, but the heat was not a source of fear for Youji anymore. Not when he wasn't alone. The smoke had a strange, spicy smell. Dope. Youji inhaled deeply. They didn't know, did they, about the heroin. Perhaps not. Would it be possible for them to never know? If he could quit without ever telling them…
Youji turned his head, studying Aya's expression. A calm one. Aya hadn't said much since they found him. Was something wrong? Did he get hurt? 'Aya?'
'… My face's… swollen. You'll have me if no women… wants me… You're responsible for it…'
'I know. And I won't force you into abortion, don't worry.' A faint smile found its way to Aya's lips, and he realised he had just went along with Youji's joke, something he had never done before. He used to feel Youji's humour a waste of time, but now… he saw why Youji says what he says, and knew how to love his friend for being who he was.
Aya wanted to apologise. To say that he was sorry for not trusting, for hurting his friend, for everything, but somehow, he couldn't phrase it. He was never good with words, but he was going to try. Youji would understand… 'I'm…'
Youji's arm slipped off from his shoulder. Aya grabbed harder around Youji's waist, wondering why the man suddenly got heavier. 'Youji?'
There was no reply.
[end chapter twelve]
note: was going to write more about how they fought, but then that wouldn't be very interesting and I didn't like writing actions much anyway, so I scraped all that after trying for a bit.