"Well, Fondue? What do you think?" Raphael, whom was still clad in his large, over-sized, light blue top and knee-length shorts, and, being lazy on this fine Friday morning, earlier than school, in the fine Friday sun, didn't intend to change until after breakfast, gestured to the inscription he had just carved into the window frame with a little pocket knife that was only about the diagonal length of his hand, from under his left pinkie to the base of the palm underneath the thumb, even when extended. Fondue, being unable to read, looked at the inscription curiously, before turning his gaze to his faithful owner - no, partner - and tilting his head with more curiosity. Raphael rubbed his forehead in a shy understanding.
"That's right. You can't read. Here, lemme read it for you." He turned to face it again, cleared his throat with a few coughs, and began to read. "If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him/her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate." He finished and adjusted his glasses with a smirk, despite its dark meaning, alongside other slightly masochistic statements that he had carved there over time. "Whaddya think?" Before waiting for an answer, he got up and went into the kitchen to start on breakfast, while Fondue had turned his gaze back onto the inscription and whined questioningly.
Not too long after, Raphael was sitting at kitchen counter on a bar stool, wolfing down the breakfast of 2 pancakes he had made himself while Fondue was going through his own food as fast as he could. As soon as Raphael finished his pancakes, he left the dish, fork, and knife in the dishwasher. Fondue looked up for a moment to see his partner heading back into the bedroom, just barely dragging his feet. A few minutes later, he came out with his normal outfit, adjusting the pin carefully.
"See you after school, Fondue!" Raphael yelled back as he charged through the small living room of his apartment, grabbing his backpack and phone on the way, and after he closed the door, he stopped to grab the mail, then to proceed to run out of the building as though there was a serial killer loose in the building. Once he ran out onto the sidewalk, he found that Emile and Michel were already outside, waiting for him.
"Come on, Raphael! We're gonna be late, and we have history first!" Emile called excitedly. Michel grinned at Emile's side. "It wouldn't matter anyway. I'm so much better at history than him." Raphael just rolled his eyes and dramatically sighed, when he then couldn't take it anymore and was grinning from ear-to-ear as he followed his classmates to school, checking his mail on the way to find that there was only bills as usual.
"Now, before we begin history class, we will have a new student joining us for..." He looked down at a piece of paper he had come into the room with and adjusted his glasses as he read it out loud. "History, Latin, Biology, and P.E. Charlotte, would you come in here?" I froze for a moment, calmed down and unfroze, then froze again when my frenemy entered the classroom. Nothing that the teacher or Charlotte said within the next few minutes reached my ears, until the teacher gestured for an empty space, 2 seats to the left and one seat backwards from me. Once Charlotte noticed the red hair, though, she began to glance at me periodically. It took a lot of my strength to not glance back at the face. To my delight, however, the next class was Calculus, and I wouldn't have to see her for at least another half hour, and was I out of the classroom before anyone could say a word to me.
Time flew by, and soon it was Science. Charlotte now sat 3 seats behind me, and for me, the class just dragged on and on, and that's how most of the rest of my day was spent. Avoiding Charlotte and trying to pay attention in class. And I still had to make the trade outside after school, and now I had to make sure I wasn't actually seen by Charlotte.
The last bell of the day rang loud and clear, and I was out the door, but rather than exit the school immediately, I, instead, wandered off to another part of the school grounds. I hope I did my mom and dad proud; this was a hard college to get into, at the very least. After a few more minutes of walking, I reached a brick fence with a small opening directly in front of the paved path I had been walking on. A red-haired girl wearing a yellow hoodie with a sapphire a few shades too light decorating the front, navy jean shorts, and black flats, was leaning on a post, signifying the end of that section of the fence. As I approached her, she seemed bored and was in a kind of sleepy state, but once she saw me, she seemed wide awake. My own expression had turned into a serious, business-like one.
"Do you have the lettuce?" Her hand went for her hoodie pocket and she was immediately fingering around in her pocket, expecting my usual answer of 'do you have'.
"Do you have everything I asked for?" The girl nodded rapidly and removed a small, brown, paper bag from her pocket, obviously weighed down by something inside of it. "Here they are." She tossed it into my hands and I did a short search of the contents. After satisfying the fact that everything I had asked for was, indeed, in the bag, I removed my wallet from my pocket and paid her $20. Her merchandise was expensive, but at least she was trustworthy. Couldn't ask for a better drug peddler.
"Pleasure doing business, Raphael." She turned to walk away.
"To you as well, Aimée." I whispered quietly after her, and turned around to go back the way I'd come and leave through my normal exit.
Unbeknownst to either of the two, Charlotte was watching from nearby, whispering into a phone, telling her Vergier everything she had just seen take place. She hadn't seen what was inside the bag, but she was unsure if she really wanted to know what the bag's contents were.
My father mumbled something incoherently to himself, and I could hear a pencil scratching on a paper before he said anything. Eventually, it stopped, and he spoke again.
"Thank you, Charlotte. That'll be all for now... I know you have soccer practice." I easily imagined him reaching with his other hand for the button to hang up the phone, but I quickly spoke up.
"How do we even know if this is Phantom R?" The phone didn't hang up, so I could only assume he was listening, so I kept speaking. "I do really want to apprehend him, and I know you do, too, but how is spying on people who look remotely like him going to help?" My father seemed to have steeled by now, so he answered almost immediately.
"The constables reported seeing him with the same dog as Phantom R, so it's beyond just the physical similarities. He might be Phantom R, and he might not be Phantom R, but right now, he's our best lead."
He hung up.
I sighed and pocketed my phone, and started heading home. I have to change for soccer practice.
As soon as I entered the apartment, I dropped the backpack and flopped on the bed, my cheerful expression having fallen into one that would cause someone to think I was in some kind of pain. I heard an excited yelp and clicks on the wooden floor, and I looked up to see Fondue beside the bed, wagging his tail happily. I gave him a small smile and turned on my side, which Fondue took as me giving him permission to hop up onto the bed and snuggle between my arm and rib-cage. I instinctively sighed, and my mind blanked out for a bit, until I heard something moving right in front of me, and before I could really respond, a warmth and pressure was removed from in front of my ribs, causing me to fall on the bed. The dip and the recoil jolted me back into reality, and I saw Fondue in the doorway to the kitchen, facing me but looking as though he had been walking away. Once I looked at him, he raised his head a bit - I swear, it looks like he's smirking at me - , faced forward again, and as he continued walking, he seemed to purposely sway his butt back and forth much more expressively, like a person would sway their hips.
"Traitor." I called after him, before dragging myself out of bed and starting my homework, constantly keeping the brown bag - that was in my backpack - within arm's reach. I didn't take any until I was just about done with my homework. I didn't take a lot of the meds, either, considering there was hardly any to begin with. I grabbed a sandwich from the fridge and finished it by the time I grabbed some loose clothes to take into the bathroom with me. When I left, I had changed - and done some other things - and flopped in the bed. I laid there for a while, but only fell asleep by 9.
~Third Person In Vergier's Office~
"Phantom R also seems rather subdued; he's been inactive for a bit, and not much news has been heard about him recently. That's all for today's report, Investigator." The constable stated professionally, while Investigator Vergier sat at his desk, seemingly not paying too much attention to the constable before him, mumbling something to himself at the same time.
"Alright, thank you."
"Yes?" Vergier sounded annoyed with the constable, apparently busy with something and not wanting to be bothered anymore.
"Well, there seems to be a new person rising up, though it may not be... intentional."
"What do you mean, not intentional? How can you unintentionally commit a murder or steal a painting from the highly-guarded Louvre?!" Vergier was immediately ticked off (I'd guess it was from the frustration of Phantom R becoming more elusive [going inactive and befuzzling the Investigator]), causing the constable to straighten up and become tense before continuing.
"Well, there are only 3 or 4 eyewitness reports about him, apparently having just stolen once and returning it 2 days later..." The Investigator had fallen silent at this - after all, this behavior was basically the same as Phantom R's - and the constable took it as a notion to continue speaking.
"Anyway, the eyewitnesses all thought that he seemed to be sleepwalking. For the first 2 times he showed up, he had wandered into and out of the person's house. Apparently, both people were unsure whether or not to confront him and didn't want to call the Constabulary because of how late it was. According to them, he had gone into each room in the house, looked around, and kept going, until going back out the front door, even though he entered through the back."
Vergier was very much on the end of his seat at this point, like he was listening to an exciting story and had just encountered a massive cliffhanger, most likely because some of these mannerisms were in common with Phantom R.
"Well? Anything else?"
"Oh, of course." The constable had 'sort of' frozen up a bit at Vergier's expression. "The third time, he went into the home of a single woman who had souvenirs of the exhibits in the Louvre that she had gotten from the nearby souvenir shop. Supposedly, she had heard clicks and shuffling downstairs. When she went downstairs, she had immediately came face-to-face with a boy who matched the previous descriptions given by the other two people - one of the first two were friends with the woman - and he was carrying the reproduction of the exhibit that Phantom R most recently stole and returned. Having been scared, she screamed, waking up the neighbors, one of which was another constable. She reported the boy to him, saying the male's breath sounded like it had hitched when she had screamed, but then he relaxed again and made a slow exit through the front door. Two days later, she heard the same noises, but by the time she got downstairs, the item had been placed back where it had been originally. She went to the front door, which was left ajar, and looked outside, to see the boy walking off, just around the corner. It was late at night, though, and had gotten complaints from the other neighbors about screaming the night before, so she locked the door and went back to bed. In the morning, she had reported it to the same constable."
He paused, giving the Investigator a moment to think. However, Vergier was writing down everything the constable had just said, only then in the middle of writing the word 'constable'. He stopped, thought for a moment, then reached for another piece of paper and brought it in front of him, with a new, sharper pencil replacing the one he had just been writing with.
"What about his appearance?" Vergier hadn't calmed down any, but his full focus was on the constable, putting said constable on the spot and making the still-said constable uncomfortable.
"W-Well, he was described to have a gaudy shade of hair-"
"What shade?" Vergier immediately cut in.
"Well, in the first two people's houses, it was supposedly too dark to make out a specific shade, assuming it to be a purple, blue, or red shade. The third person said that she couldn't make out a specific shade of color while he was in her house because it had been too dark, but once he was outside, she was able to make it out as red in the brighter environment." The constable paused again, waiting for a response from Vergier, but he was writing it down quickly, so he continued on.
"According to all three reports, he was wearing pajamas that were a light blue color and hung off his frame, as though they were far too big for him. The third woman was able to make out his face a bit, saying that his skin had been a bit fair, and almost clammy. There were also small, faint bags under his eyes, which were closed and perfectly still, as though he had actually been asleep. He was also drooling a bit, and his head was lolled to the side." He paused yet again, but Vergier had been right on his tail and finished writing seconds after he had finished speaking.
"Anything else, constable?"
"There was actually a fourth case, but it had nothing to do with robberies. However, it was identified as the same person by a constable. Actually, the male had gone into this constable's house. According to the constable, he had been unable to sleep so he went downstairs to make himself a drink, when he heard loud thuds and subtle creaking noises accompanying the original sound, from somewhere on the other side of the house. When he had gotten there, the door leading to his basement had been left open, and there were red footprints leading to the front door from the basement. He went downstairs and switched on the lights, and there was a message that written on the wall that seemed to be written in blood." Vergier's breath hitched, but the constable quickly added, "which he confirmed to be fake," Vergier relaxed a little bit at this, "and then went to see if he could catch sight of the him before he left. He saw him just turning the corner, and began pursuit, but the male turned at the sound of his footsteps, and showed his face. According to reports, it was the same person, but still asleep. However, he tensed up and his expression changed to a painful one and he began running and escaped to the rooftops and easily maneuvered them and began moving faster. The constable had continued moving on foot, but soon lost him." The constable paused again. Vergier was still writing, so he gave him a minute before continuing.
"When he went back to the basement, he managed to put together the words that had been written into a single message." Vergier looked up. "And what is that message?" The constable cleared his throat and removed a scribbled-on piece of paper before continuing to speak.
"If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him/her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate." The constable looked up. "That's all."
"Alright, thank you for bringing this to my attention." Vergier finished writing and was currently punching a hole through the papers he had written this information on, and then putting a ring on it to hold it together. "I'll get a binder for this later." He mumbled under his breath. "If you could please go join the patrol I sent to the Louvre? I want to make sure it's highly guarded, in case Phantom R makes a surprise appearance."
"Of course, Investigator." The constable gave a respectful nod before leaving the office and closing the door behind him.
Vergier did a quick once-over of everything that he had written, before taking a pen and writing 'Phantom Blood Artist' at the top of the first page in all caps.
"Looks like we have two Phantoms on our hands now."
Once I woke up, it didn't take long for me to regain my bearings. Once again, I woke up feeling exhausted, as though I had been running all over the city. Oh well; another day alive is a wonderful thing, regardless of circumstances.
I headed to the kitchen and began to make breakfast, with Fondue hot at my heels.