[When You Gonna Learn]
'You're home so late.'
I halted when I saw Manx, her trademark curls pouring down on her shoulders like blood, her lips an equal flaming red, glossy even in the darkness of the room.
'I'm a big boy, can't I stay out for longer?' I teased. 'Or you just can't wait to see me?' I moved a step closer, my arms open in an inviting gesture, and she just laughed, turned her back to me and walked to the window. She knew I wouldn't make a move on her. Sleeping with my boss' secretary would be stupid, and I liked it this way, that I could tease her and Birman all I wanted and then just laugh it off.
'That's for you.' She gestured at some pills and a floppy disk on my bedside table. 'Apparently you missed two appointments with the doctors.'
I shrugged off my coat, dusted off the snow and hung it on the back of the chair. 'Thanks for the stuff. You can leave me alone now.'
I knew I missed the appointments. The doctors were no use, there was nothing they could do for me. It was the heroin. It brought the explosion back to me, nearly killing me every time I slept. Images would flood my mind, the unique smell of blood, the heat would wash me away. As long as I had to take those needles, there was nothing anyone could do.
'Youji - '
'Out.' I shot a look at her. She didn't move, and I realised how harsh I just sounded. 'Please.' I softened my voice.
Manx shook her head to tell me she didn't take it offensively. Gracefully she left, with a note 'I had that floppy disk since a long time ago and they still haven't given up yet. Neither should you'.
I swallowed two of the tablets Manx had left me, then loaded the disk onto the computer.
The disk was for Persia.
It almost had me in tears.
Looking great, Youji-kun.
I tied my hair up and hid it into the baseball cap, smiling at my reflection in the mirror. I could almost hear Omi laughing at my appearance and Ken telling me to be careful not to make mistakes later. Then Aya would turn around, take one look at me and say 'see you later' when I leave.
The sunglasses concealed my green eyes nicely. I checked myself a final time and set off, driving the car I requested from Birman, an old looking Beetle with nothing significant so that a reconstruction of the scene later would be difficult.
Damn. Snowing again. That made my plans harder to carry out. I accelerated none-the-less, I wasn't going to delay this because of the snow. I overheard about an upcoming important meeting soon and I would stop at nothing for the chance to be present there.
It was just about time my colleague went off duty. I drove to the main building of the Shirakawa Cooperates, and was just in time to see him pulling out his white Benz. I followed behind.
I need a needle...
Wake up Balinese. You're working right now. Shove those things out of your mind and concentrate.
My hands didn't listen. They began to tremble. I gripped hard on the steering wheel. No Youji, you aren't going through that right now. Focus on the Benz. Turn left here, he's gonna turn right and you speed up to catch up with him at the next junction.
I turned off my headlights, made the turns to my designated road and saw the Benz coming up towards me on the opposite side. The snow wasn't too bad afterall. It could help this look like it was an accident.
Be careful Youji. We don't want you to die.
'Okay...' I said to the rest of Weiß in my head, clenched my teeth and let my shaking hands steer off my side of the road.
I need a needle...
No, not now...
As I had thought, the Head of Parties told me to accompany him for a meeting soon. I had an outstanding record afterall, there wouldn't be anybody else better suited to the job, now that the one who was supposed to do it was in hospital. I would be informed of the time and place the night before.
My whole body ached from the crash, though I was prepared and I designed it myself so I had no injuries. I had a blue, stripe-like bruise across my front where the seat belt held me back, and the back of my head hurt where it slammed back against my seat, but that was all. The shaking almost killed me though, I made the crash at the wrong time because my hands wouldn't behave. It still worked, luckily.
'The X-ray showed a crack in your right arm. It could be the impact of the crash because you've broken it there before.'
To hell with doctors. It was just a crack, it wouldn't do anything and I hadn't got the time to take care of it. I swallowed the methadone they gave me and wandered towards the promenade. I felt like throwing up again, my stomach quenched, my head ached, my legs were limp and I just wanted the needles. My body refused to function properly without them. I crouched down against the railing on the promenade, ignoring the stares of the couples walking along. I couldn't go back to my hiding. I couldn't guarantee that I would not buy myself the simple solution to these pains from the brokers near there.
It hadn't stopped snowing. Winter was my favourite season, I enjoyed the cold and the numb it brought to my face and fingers. It was also the season that brought people together, though I never knew why I thought it that way. Maybe it was because everyone seemed more passionate and aware of each other when it was cold. We all seem more dependent and vulnerable at this season of snow, we were more like our real selves. That would probably make no sense to anybody, especially Aya. He never knew how passionate a man he was, how much we felt cared for when he was around. Ken might understand what I meant, he was the guy that could stand in the sun and suddenly start wondering when he would fall in love. Him and I could engage ourselves in talks that were of no importance and meant nothing to anyone.
Someone was running towards me. I looked up from my feet to where the sound came from.
Speak of the devil.
I picked myself up and ran.
No way. I dashed on with my sore muscles and heard Ken chase behind me, our shoes crushing the snow on the ground. 'Youji I just want to talk to you!'
I ran on without looking back, though I knew Ken's persistence was something I could not win. Block after block he chased me, not tiring at all, but I was wearing out and my body screamed at me to stop. I would never win this race against the soccer lover.
I turned for the maze of backstreets near where I lived. After five or six turns, I hid myself at one unlit, unnoticeable corner. Ken lost me. He was stuck in this network of dark pathways.
'Youji I know you're still here. Come out so that we can talk.'
I tried to slow down my breathing as Ken spoke.
'Persia didn't sent me for you. Trust me. I seriously just want to talk to you. We're friends, we can talk things over. I won't force anything on you, promise.'
Just shut up Ken. You're making me feel worse.
'... Youji, I'll come to this place again on Friday at this hour with Omi. Perhaps you aren't ready to talk to me right now, but we'll be here on Friday and... just get us if you want to talk, yeah?'
I waited a while longer, then a blur of turquoise appeared in front of me. 'He's gone.'
I walked back with the punk.
'Now you understand what I told you last time.'
'I think so.' To protect them, to give them the best, to hide things from them if that was what it took - I treated my friends the way the punk treated the girl. When they wanted to speak to me, just to see if I was well, I still had to hide away, because of what I was involved in.
We would like to ask you to pardon Kudou Youji. It had been our mistake to let him participate in that mission when he was not ready for it, and we are willing to take any responsibilities regarding that matter...
They trusted me that much. After all these months they still believed in me. I buried my face in my hands and laughed. Were they stupid? I never thought I was worth this much to them. I never knew.
They were such lovable idiots...
Friday today. Ken and Omi would have no luck finding me, the meeting would be tonight. Good job Balinese, you've made it this far. Almost, almost there. Once you find out who the man behind all this is, Weiß can go and finish the rest of the job and you can go home.
I rummaged through the drawer, found the last of the methadone I had and swallowed them dry. I had to unhook from the needles. I was going home, I couldn't let them see me as an addict. Mustn't make them worried, mustn't let them look down on me.
I studied my face on the small mirror over the sink. I looked, well, not much better than the pale-skinned teenagers that lurked at the alleyways out there.
Take a look at yourself Youji, you think you're really gonna look better before you go back? Not a chance mate.
I would look better with my sunglasses. They could hide the sunken eyes. They were bought to hide my eyes anyway, though I knew women went for the green. My life was more than just women. If they like me then let them like me and let them give me what they want to give. If they don't, to hell with it, I never felt for them enough to make an effort... except Asuka.
I was getting restless. I had to meet the Head of Parties at 4am, and time was passing too slowly, way too slowly. The seconds flashed away on my watch, one two three four five, and I found myself counting them. Then someone knocked on my door.
'Your friends are out there already.' The punk told me, and I saw the girl coming round the corner. He hadn't noticed her yet. 'How much do you love them?'
I smiled. 'Enough to lie to them. I'll get them away.'
The punk shrugged, turned to go and froze when he saw the girl.
'When will you understand that I want to die happy, with you?' That was all she said, her fingers clutched onto her skirt, her eyes fixed on the punk's. Then she took one step closer and wound her arms around the turquoise-haired young man.
'Women can be the most stubborn species on Earth.' I laughed, rather inappropriately. 'You should understand by now.'
So were friends. They could be so persistent. They were already waiting, Omi and Ken, at the exact spot where Ken lost me last time. He had a good memory and found the spot again. It had taken me about three days to learn my way around. They had their backs turned to me when I walked past, bumping in between them, stuffing a note into Ken's hand and walking straight off very quickly.
'Youji-kun!' Omi shouted behind me once he noticed it was me who pushed past.
'Wait Omi.' Ken said, and I could feel his gaze on my back before he opened my note. I kept on walking without looking back. Then I heard him shout loudly, 'We'll meet you on tomorrow!'
I knew they would go along with what I wanted. In my note I told them I wasn't ready to talk and I needed another day. They wouldn't force me, they knew me well enough to know that I didn't make false promises and if I said I would talk to them eventually, then I would.
With my hand I signaled a 'see you then' to them, and pulled our distances apart further. Each step I took was somewhat heavier than the last. It was hard to walk away from them when I knew they loved me that much, and somehow, I felt that if I walk away, I would never see them again...
... and having worked with Kudou Youji for a considerable amount of time, both of us believe that he would bring no harm to Weiß, and if he was let out any information accidentally, you and your secretaries would not be brought into it because of your hidden identity to all of us, including Kudou. The risk is only with us and we are certain that this will not happen. So we therefore ask you to abandon any planned or currently ongoing hunt for Kudou, because to us he is still a part of Weiß and to have him put to death means we are no longer complete.
Thank you guys. You mean a lot to me too, you idiots, though I would never know how to put it in words or expect you to understand. See you again soon...
[end chapter nine]
|chapter eight||chapter ten|