[When You Gonna Learn]
'I don't understand.'
'What I said is, Persia and I have arranged our people to hunt down Kudou Youji. You three are not to be involved in it.'
'No.' Omi's brows knotted, and he pouted a little as he untied his cream-coloured apron and hung it on the hook next to the door. 'I mean I don't understand why Youji-kun did that.'
'The question is, Manx,' A voice is heard, then Aya appeared from the stairs, wearing black sweater and jeans. 'Why can't we do it ourselves?'
Omi gasped in surprise. 'Aya-kun! You don't mean to - He saved you last time!'
'He betrayed us, he pays for it. Period.'
Manx ran a hand through her curls, found a chair to sit down comfortably, then fixed her eyes on Aya's. 'One, because you know him well and might not be able to finish him, which might mean us losing you instead. Two, because he worked with you for so long he knows how to overpower you - he has been in Weiß for longer than you did. Don't underestimate him.'
Aya wanted to argue back, but he knew he couldn't win. It was true that Youji was skilled with his invisible deadly wires that most of the time even Aya could not see. But so what? He couldn't get away with it. One day or another, Aya would get Youji with his own hands.
Manx seemed to know what the redhead was thinking and gave him a look before she left, saying that she would be here again tomorrow with some information on the next mission. Silently Aya disappeared down the stairs again, leaving Omi alone in the shop. Omi frowned. Nobody wanted to talk about Youji. Aya, Manx, Birman, even Ken would sigh and shake his head, not making a comment.
He remembered how Youji left without saying a word, in the middle of a mission, disrupting their plans, almost costing their lives.
Youji didn't take anything with him. His flat was the way it had always been, the central heating set on timer to turn itself on, his clothes folded in a neat pile on the bed, the mugs on the draining board as if he would come back at any time for a cup of his coffee before going out for a date.
But it had been almost a month that Omi
hadn't seen his green-eyed friend. Youji never came back.
Target: 'Pope'; real name unknown
Age, sex, race, physical significance: unknown
Additional information: Shirakawa Cooperates
Same completely useless thing as he saw last time. Youji clicked a few buttons and let the disk be formatted. Then he took it out, broke it into two halves and trashed it. 'Shirakawa. Is this only piece of information confirmed?'
For once, Manx was dressed down and unmade-up so that she didn't catch attention. 'That's from the local drug dealers. Don't give me that look Youji, it's the best Birman and I could do for you.'
'For Persia.' Youji corrected her. He wasn't a pawn, no, but definitely not the king as well. 'And I'm not giving you any looks. I had the choice and I chose to do it, is that clear?'
Manx just gave him that usual evil smirk of hers. 'You might want to start from the dealers or you can go straight to Shirakawa Cooperates. We'll keep in contact. And remember, you're still working for Weiß.' Saying that, she left him in his new hiding place, which consisted the minimum amount of furniture. That meant a bed, a chair, a wardrobe, a sink and a hidden computer.
Manx told him that the mission was completed with Aya and Ken both wounded. 'Not fatal' was all that she said.
But it would be enough for them to hate me, I guess. It didn't matter anyway...
They'd be told that Kudou Youji would be get rid of by Persia's men. He wondered if Manx would later tell them that he was dead, and what reactions they'd have. Would they grieve for him, the teammate who left them in the middle of a mission? Perhaps not. They'd probably want to see his body just to make sure that he was dead.
Pushing aside those thoughts, Youji wrote down on a piece of paper what he saw in the flashback today, as usual, to be given to the psychiatrist. He too was another man who worked for Persia and Youji didn't want to make his life difficult by not cooperating. Then he turned on the computer and began making his plans.
Aya never really liked the taste of coffee. At least not until he drank Youji's special blend. Every time he thought of Youji, he just could not dismiss the feeling of betrayal deep inside. Friends don't run away like that. Friends don't leave him after planning something together. Youji did. That look flashed on Youji's face and the next thing Aya knew was that he saw Youji going away. At first he thought the Balinese was going to use some tact and would come back for him, but no, Youji was just leaving.
But still, he couldn't totally believe that Youji had left. The same Youji who wrapped himself around Aya to protect the younger man from the grenade he didn't see. Youji saw it, and if he was fast enough he could have dashed for hiding. Yes he was fast enough, but only to throw himself on Aya... would this man really leave his friends and teammates behind like this?
He couldn't forget what happened. One moment Youji was behind him, the next Youji was around him, pressing him down to the carpeted floor amongst the bodies of the people he had slain. He couldn't see anything, his head was buried in Youji's chest and arms, and then next thing he knew was
Heat washed over them. After blanking out for a few seconds, Aya heard the crackling sound of things burning, and a deep, painful moan from the man above him, then silence.
Aya didn't know how Youji survived. He was so sure Youji too, would die, like his parents did in the explosion. Then he would spend his life grieving for the friend who sacrificed himself for him to live. He stood beside Youji's bed, watching him fight for his life, but could do nothing to help. Like his sister.
Then after three long weeks, Ken said Youji had came around again. Youji only grinned after Aya said 'thanks', as if the broken bones, slashed flesh and burnt skin didn't bother him much.
Could this Youji betray them?
Their little underworld. A room with a big screen, a few sofas, two computers and some junk. Empty cans of soft drinks and beer scattered on the coffee table. Omi picked them up and trashed them before sitting down at the computer. The screen lit up, showing a desktop background of a photo of the four of them together in the Kitten. Some girl took it a month ago and gave them a copy, and how hard did Youji laugh then when Omi wanted to scan it in as the desktop.
It was the only photograph of them. All wearing aprons, Aya had his hands in the pockets, looking uneasy with Youji's arm draped over his shoulder. Youji's other hand was on Ken's shoulder. Ken was winking, the fingers of a hand curled into the shape of a gun, pointing straight at the camera, and the other hand pressing down on Omi's head.
'Omi, is that you?'
For a second, the blonde-haired young man thought Youji had came back. The he realised it was Ken's voice, and he quickly opened a programme to cover up the desktop image. 'Yeah, Ken-kun.'
'What're you doing so late?' Ken stood behind Omi and saw the picture because the programme started too slowly. '... I'm fine with it, just don't let Aya see it or he'd smash the computer.' His hand moved over and minimised the programme so that he could see the picture again.
'Ken-kun... do you think Youji-kun betrayed us? Aya-kun said he did.'
'I don't know. Youji didn't do anything. He just... left without a word.'
Ken sighed. They could talk about it now because Aya wasn't around. Aya got mad every time they mentioned Youji's name, calling Youji the traitor that almost got everyone killed.
'But... you know, he isn't really the irresponsible one he seems to look like. He might have gone out with many girls but never two-timed any of them... he might get up just 15 minutes before the shop opens but he's never late... and I remember in our 'eagle' mission...'
Omi smiled. 'Yeah, things weren't going right so you said let's drop Plan A and go for Plan B.'
'"Sure Ken, let's go for that one. What's Plan B?"' Ken quoted and laughed softly. A laughter that made the room seem even more silent.
'And in the end he did know what Plan B was, he memorised it better than any of us did. The rest of us never thought we would need to use Plan B.'
'He almost got himself killed saving Aya-kun last time too......'
'... This may sound really corny, but I miss Youji-kun.'
'... Me too.'
'Do you think he'll come back?'
'I thought he would. I wanted to think that he was away doing something that can't involve us, but it's been over a month and...'
'Maybe he's got a reason.' Omi straightened up on his chair and opened the programme window. Youji's smiling face disappeared from his sight, replaced by line and lines of flashing words and numbers. He had to hold on to that belief. Youji, the friend, the brother, the teacher, could not have turned his back on them. He could not have. 'Yes, Youji-kun must have a very good reason to leave us like this.'
'Let's hope so.'
Aya poured more coffee from the machine into his mug whilst keeping an eye on the frying pan to make sure nothing gets burnt.
'Aya-kun, are you cooking?' There was a knock on the door, and Omi's voice came through.
'Um. Come in.'
'Cool! Let's have dinner together.' After some fumbling with keys, Omi got in with a rice cooker in his hand. 'Having only one dish is just too dull. We can share things heh?'
'Move Omi, my hands are burning!' Ken complained, appearing behind Omi with two covered dishes.
'Well you should've worn your mitts!'
'I don't have any!'
'Of course you do!'
'... They aren't mitts!'
'They double up as mitts... oh,' Realising that Aya hadn't said anything, Omi asked, 'Aya-kun, do you mind if we eat here?'
Though he didn't say, Aya enjoyed having a bit of liveliness in the apartment. At least he didn't feel so dead when the younger ones were around. And yes having three different dishes would be a lot better than just having one. He usually couldn't be bothered to cook more than one dish if it was just for himself. But as Omi said, it was dull to only have one dish with rice.
The whole place looked more homely with more food and more people eating it. Living on his own made the apartment not a home but just a place to stay, even with Ken next door and Omi downstairs. He once considered suggesting that they move into a larger place together, but it sounded so dumb for him to say that, so he never asked. Ken and Omi were grown ups - must remember that they are adults - who had friends beside those from Weiß, there was no reason for them to want to share a home with other people.
They aren't like me...
'Aya, your whole place smells of coffee.' Ken smiled when Aya put down his mug on the dining table. He noticed that it was Youji's coffee machine in the kitchenette, and the smell was Youji's unique blend. Perhaps Aya wasn't that angry at their emerald-eyed friend afterall. 'You aren't planning to drink it during dinner are you?'
'Youji-kun's coffee!' Omi hopped off his chair and got himself a mug as well. Then he realised he mentioned the name and winced, expecting Aya to snap.
Aya flinched once but didn't say anything.
'Drink coffee during dinner! You two are disgusting!'
'Talking about disgusting, I hope you didn't cook anything with red kidney beans, KenKen.' A smile flash across Aya's lips, then he lifted the covers and breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief.
'Don't call me that!'
'Okay, we won't call you KenKen then, KenKen.'
Ken blushed a mild red and ignored Aya. Omi smiled at the scene, wishing in his heart that Youji would be here right now eating and laughing with them. He wondered what Youji was up to. Hiding somewhere, perhaps. Hopefully Persia's men hadn't found him yet, otherwise...
Omi almost went cold. Was there any way to talk Persia out of hunting down Youji?
He must do something. He didn't think Youji would do anything against them, even if he left Weiß. He must convince Persia of this.
[end chapter two]
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