[When You Gonna Learn]


Tuna and salmon and cucumber wrapped in little packets of seaweed and rice travelled on the conveyor belt in front of me, waiting to be selected. I picked up another blue plate. It was this salmon sushi's lucky day, it got to be eaten by me.

On my way back I bought some food to stock up. I was totally undisturbed as I walked back to my hiding, I guess the people had learnt their lesson. Ahead of me, just within viewing range, was the girl. Nobody bothered her, not the men lurking in the shadows or the drunken and tripping youngsters at the foot of the graffitied walls. Strange.

When I turned the final corner, she was again waiting outside my neighbour's door.

'Are you okay?'

'Me?' I looked up from my door lock at her.

'You look sick.'

'I'm fine, just treated myself with proper food.'

'You should see a doctor.'

I was seeing a bunch of them already... 'Okay. Thanks for worrying.'

Birman was inside waiting for me in the darkness, I didn't notice her until I took off my sunglasses. 'Any work for me?'

I found my cigarettes and lit one, then moved over to open the window. 'I get back to my place, I see a gorgeous woman sitting on my bed and all she wants is work? Try a different topic shall we?'

'I'll consider it.' Birman smiled, 'But it's my job.'

'No, haven't got enough stuff to work on, sorry to make you wait.'

'It's okay, routine-wise I need to check on you anyway. My job's done tonight.' Birman said as she left, her eyes sparkling even in the darkness. 'By the way, I heard from Ken that Omi got straight-A's for his finals. See you next time.'

Wow. All A's. I knew you could do it Omi. You make me so damn proud. Did Ken and Aya throw you a party? They better did, they ought to. But then I couldn't imagine Aya partying at all. He was such a shut-off soul, a little lost like the rest of us. He tried so hard to become a good friend for us. Little did he know that we all already love him the way he was. But at least he tried to be better. I couldn't do it.

'You can't find another Asuka in other women.'

Yes Aya, I would try to learn, I would try to improve.

In the meanwhile, just hate me all you will.

The cold needle gleamed just before I pushed it into my arm.

I couldn't refuse. This was one of the main 'privileges' of the ones higher up in the organisation, I would raise suspicion if I said 'no'. Second time. The effects took two days to wear off the first time, and although I knew if I had a little more then I would feel better, I just fought it. I managed. But there would be more. A third time. Fourth time. For how much longer could I fight?

I gave my needle to the man next to me. No one cared about when they got the needle as long as they got their turn, and no one even took notice that I was the first one to use it. I would never touch one that had been used. I sank into the sofa, waiting for the thing to take effect as men and women passed needles around. I wished they would all die from some blood transmitted diseases.

Slowly, the world became a better place...

I picked open another filing cabinet, the last one, and began going through the documents there.

Nothing again. There were just no records of anything, no information on the buyers, the brokers, where the stuff came from, the financial records, not to mention who the heck the Pope was. If I hadn't became a part of it, I would never imagine the Shirakawa Cooperates had acted as the biggest drug trader in the country.

A thing harder to do than to pick open a lock is to pick it close. Spending another half an hour to re-lock everything I had opened, I finally realised I should have learned from Ken how to do this properly. I was already losing patience, my damned hand had started shaking again and hell, just lock, stupid thing!

Stop, goddammit. Youji you know perfectly well it's the heroin affecting you again, fight, my man, don't let it overpower you.

There. Heard the click? It wasn't that difficult was it? Patience is all you need. Stop thinking about those stupid needles and you'll be fine in a day or two. Asuka's gonna call you a loser if you give in.

I allowed myself to sit down on my boss' floor to take a rest. My shift for the next day was from noon to ten, if I was to go back right away I could still catch some good shut-eye before coming back here again as that man's bodyguard. I reached up and gripped the large leather armchair in front of me to pull myself up.

Hold on a minute.

I ran my hand on the back of the chair. There was something inside. Paper.


I took out my little trusty camera. This would be a very busy night.

Run. Take Aya away and run.

'Pulse but no breathing!'

'Omi, CPR!'

'Ken-kun help me turn him over!'

Things are burning.

'Aya can you stand up?'

'We must take him away. Can't let him die.'

'Hell you're right! Let's get moving!'

'Don't you die on us Youji. Don't you dare.'

I won't make it. Leave before the smoke chokes you.

No. Please don't leave me behind. I was lying. I don't want to be alone.

I lit a cigarette and took a deep, long drag. The smoke brought warmth to my body, and only then I realised how cold I was. Was it late autumn already? My bed was cold. So were my hands and me. Cold with fear.

I just wanted to be with somebody. I didn't want to be alone. I didn't want to be forgotten. And no, I didn't want them to hate me. I lied. Would they understand? Would they know me, the real Kudou Youji underneath, enough to still believe in me?

I wouldn't make it, would I, to the end of my mission. I didn't know who I was doing it for. Not for myself, not for Persia, not for the society. Perhaps just for my friends, I didn't know. I didn't know where my blood and sweat was flowing to.

And I couldn't fight the desire and the need for those needles...

Everyone was tense when I got to my workplace. Like a pre-war period. I walked through the corridors indifferently, finally stopping at my boss' office.

'Kudou, have you seen anyone suspicious here last night?'

'No, it was my night off.'

My boss paced around, then sat down on his leather chair. 'I suspect someone had came in last night.'

'Was anything - ' How did he know that? I put everything back in their places!

'No. But I've increased the security.' His hand was shaking again. 'It might be someone amongst our own people, so keep an open eye.'

I did a half bow and left the office. Shit. They knew. And I had no idea how they found out so I couldn't do the same thing anymore unless I want to be caught in the act. I had no time to read the papers last night, hopefully it was useful things that I photographed.

If it wasn't enough, I had two choices left. Continue very carefully and pray there would be more information somewhere else, or do a hit and run and see how much I could get that way.

The Head of Parties must meet the Pope some time, but I was never brought along. I was too new. He must bring one or two bodyguards with him though, and if I get to be one of them...

I must eliminate competition.

I got off the bus and walked to the bridge to cross the road to the promenade. It was a chilly and dry evening with a clear sky. No stars. The city itself must be too bright with its wasted effort in generating excess electricity to let the stars' light become visible. It would be so brilliant if there was a major power cut. Silly ideas of mine.

I headed for the walkway, intending to get away from my hiding area. The cramp in my abdomen got stronger and my joints ached as I walked. But I had to go as far as possible. I knew I wouldn't be able to control myself. There were no drug dealers at the promenade like I had near my hiding, so I would be safe. I would stay here all night if I had to.

From the bridge, I spotted two familiar looking persons down on the promenade.

Ken and Omi were strolling down the long walkway, looking at each person passing them. Ken was wearing the usual jeans jacket, a black one, with dark work pants. That jacket must be new, I had never seen it before. Omi had something plasticy looking on, the stuff that young people wear these days with a semi-high collar. The gloves were mine. So that was why the gloves were gone since last winter, that little bastard had them.

I had to stop myself from walking down the steps to them.

They were looking for somebody. Were they trying to find me?

They weren't told that I was dead? How come?

Why did they want to find me?

I turned around and walked away. Even if they were looking for me, I couldn't show up to them. Our distance lengthened as I walked quickly to get away before they see me up here and my weakened soul bled with each step I took, yearning to seek some comfort in those needles.

Kudou Youji, you're a total loser.

[end chapter seven]

chapter six chapter eight