Previously: Noticing him in the driver's seat, Anzu turned on her heel into the center. Kaiba aborted his car and went inside.
Just A Little Closer
Approaching her with furious lengths, Kaiba folded his arms to conform his distaste of the location and her. "What?" He rasped.
Anzu silently went toward the double doors and cautiously proceeded to the artifacts. "I wanted to talk about Euneya."
"Not one of your cheer stories?" He scoffed.
She slapped her lips shut in annoyance. "I hate you, you hate me—can we move on?" Anzu gritted.
"If you hadn't warned me about your bitch-fit I wouldn't had come, just to amuse myself."
Anzu continued walking strictly toward a hallway. "You became because of Euneya, clearly." He regarded the exhibit, Anzu titled her head at his silent meaning. "You do care about her," She murmured grudgingly, giving him a critical look, "Don't you know where she went?"
"I learned she had debt problems."
"Aren't you supposed to solve them for her?"
His eyes narrowed on a pair of benches, lip curled. "She was reserved about financial issues, and I didn't bother to ask."
"But you know where she went?" Her blue eyes lit up hopefully.
He wasn't about to detail their last meeting. Oddly it felt extremely private, undeserving of her ears. "What the hell do you want to talk about?"
"We are talking." Her feisty reply dimmed with guilt. "There is something you should know about her." Slowly, she led him to the corner room, making a wide turn and opened the door. "I made you come here because her family is a prominent part of Domino's history."
Anzu stopped sullenly under a brilliant mosaic ceiling glittering like stars. He was not touched but annoyed and resolved to share his opinion. Anzu spoke first, hindering him from completing his thought aloud.
"Do you know Mitsuo, Kaiba?" She was staring at an object interestedly. "He was about to enter a world tour before… he disappeared."
Kaiba yielded and regarded the seal in cement, signed by the mayor of Domino.
A slow smile inspired her blue eyes to shimmer fondly, "Mitsuo was widely respected for his talent in dancing. He won awards, students praised and traveled to be tutored. Euneya knew his hidden arts when she was 6 and successfully beat dancers who pay to attend Julliard and other facilities. I envied her." She sighed heavily. "He is Euneya's father. But he took a turn for the worse and got involved in drugs. He stopped dancing." Anzu retreated from the seal. She dropped in a bench, pale hands clasping her knees and gaze morose, she continued in her normal high-pitch voice.
"Exposed to drugs, he kept flushing his money. And with him gone, his wife, my—uh—Euneya's mom took to gambling. Both used money excessively. Finally when Mitsuo ran out, he went home. They were angry at each other. He threatened to leave forever. The reason he didn't come home was he didn't want his wife and daughter to see his terrible state." Anzu elucidated, noticing Kaiba scowl at the seal.
"He was part of the City Hall and used the fundraiser money to help his family, it wasn't enough to pay for his wife's debt. Officials found he dealt with illegal drugs and stole the council money. His wife took the blame. They were both wanted. Euneya had nowhere to go. At the time…"
Kaiba met her wary stare. "Spit it." He snapped hoarsely, voice gilded with frustration and anger.
"We—We are cousins." She stammered. "Euneya's mom is my aunt. My mom didn't want to deal with their family. She tried to help but Euneya's mom pushed her away and told her she'd handle her own. It was no use… My mom promised to never interfere with her family." Her eyes lingered on the glass holding the bust with the dancer's name. "I didn't know I had a cousin until I met her suddenly in Domino High. Which was weird… At the same time—you know the feeling when you see something and it belongs to you—I felt like I knew her." She bit her lip and flushed darkly. He looked bored. "Look if you don't care don't let me waste my breath!" Anzu hissed.
"Go on." He growled between his teeth.
She sank back in the bench at the decree. "Uncle Mitsuo and aunty were found in their apartment. Suitcases packed, evidently in desperation to flee. They freed from the police and Euneya…" Her voice broke, Anzu breathed to control her tone, "She ran after them in the streets. They were shot in front of her. It was all over the newspapers. Their bloodied bodies were dragged—Euneya screamed for hours and they threw her in a van not telling her where. She never saw them again, they didn't tell her what happened to the bodies, interrogation started, but she didn't know a thing! And they dumped her at the orphanage to—" Anzu covered her mouth to maintain her sob.
Kaiba wasn't gentlemanly enough to give her a handkerchief. He was growing impatient, and angry.
She sensed his anxiousness and lifted her head. The disarray of silky brunette hair sticking to her wet cheeks, quickly, Anzu wiped her eyes. "You'll never understand." She struggled to breath. "You have no sympathy." Anzu accused. "She danced until her feet bled. And from that moment, Euneya stopped. She hated the dump she was stranded in and ran away. She met some goons, they knew her—actually Uncle Mitsuo and took her in." Anzu had returned to her normal self, her dark brows frowned on her shimmering blue eyes, "She didn't tell me what happened in their custody. I have a feeling… It's the same goons who took her. She hasn't been able to escape them. It's why she works at the orphanage—"
Anzu glared at Kaiba. "Why she specialized in children with drug history, if not, their parent's. She doesn't want anyone to have to go through what she did. Can't you see?" Her hands were moving with her furious words. "Why she hates it? Money broke her parent's apart—ruined her life—hurt her dreams! If none of it happened, she'd be Asia's esteemed dancer, working with historically famous dancers—making billions of yen!" Anzu caught herself and calmed, drinking short breaths.
"She could've had it all…" A shaking hand touched her temple, brushing brown locks away. "But she chose not to. Euneya won't stand it if everything in her life is ruined by money again."
He spoke for the first time, cool-faced and indifferent, but she thought he looked ages older than he really was. Something about his eyes… They glowed in a different nature.
"The men who took her, what are they?"
Anzu braced herself and rose, "That's what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Don't you have sense to report to the police?" He bitterly snapped, composure gone.
She could see it clear than ever. Anzu clenched her fists from screaming and punching him. She was having it worse than he knew, but Kaiba was not irascible since she had known him in Domino High. He was mature, brutally cold, and impervious to anything emotional or gravitational. The one standing now was seething demented, if she said something wrong he'd murder.
Anzu felt the corner of her mouth curl upward in a smug smile. Even a blind person couldn't elude the disquiet in his voice. She wanted to ask him; probably it was her only chance. What Euneya did do to break his impenetrable defense?
"I did report." Words mumbled in a hurry, "Domino police is trying their best. They've tried for ages. She can be anywhere... In what condition, who knows?" Glaring at him, she sharply demanded. "Don't you always know where and what she does?"
His jaw shifted, indicating he clenched his teeth.
"You're always dragging her around like a slave! Why don't you know what happened?"
Kaiba was severely annoyed. His expression said so.
"You've never treated her nicely." She blinked. "O-or anyone…for the matter."
"Your point?" He snatched wretchedly.
"She was probably kidnapped by them. The police don't know where they are." Anzu hypothesized her points were enough to stir him to activity, but he didn't, she frowned. "Don't you care if she is ok? Or have you been toying her all this time? Using her for amusement. Rich bastards like you always love playing around! Euneya isn't your toy! And if you cared about her, you'd have the decency to know what happened to her. But you don't. So that proves it, Kaiba! —We'll probably never see her again if you don't know where they took her! I don't know what kinds of things they do to women, obviously it's demoralizing an—"
"She kept it to herself. Disappearing is a habit of hers. She'll turn up if not today—tomorrow." Kaiba flung around toward the exit speedily.
Horrified, she stumbled after him. "How do you know?" Anzu yelled. "What if she is hurt? Don't you think they'll do worse? Torture her for money, r-rap—" She gulped the word and felt it fester in her whole being, making her tremble. Impulsively, Anzu grabbed his sleeve. "I called you here to ask for your help. Or I'd never talk to you about her!"
He didn't move and stared stoically at the room.
"Can't you do something?" Anzu pleaded. "Don't you have connections?"
"If Domino's police can't locate the debt collectors, there is a zero chance I'd find something worthy." Kaiba wrenched his arm from her grip, glaring over his shoulder. "I thought it was your 'cheer stories' but you never fail to sicken me." He shoved open the exit and bolted out to the parking lot in the thundering rain.
Anzu licked her lip, staring dazedly at the car ripping through the dense rain. There was more than storm… It felt worse… She returned to Yugi's where everyone waited.
Duke had been looking out for her. He opened the door before she hit the doorbell. "Did you talk? What'd he say? Will he help? Does he know where she is?"
Anzu deposited her coat and slipped out of her boots. The questions were heavy with anxiety and they made her eyes numb. Anzu rubbed her face. She fell in the coach next to Joey who assessed her carefully.
"You ain't flying out?" He surmised.
"She delayed her fight for another week. Hopefully things will turn up." Yugi answered for her, lips tight and eyes wide. His eyes ran over her smoothly. "How was it?"
"If we went together it might've made a difference." Anzu spat. "I'm so pissed, Duke!" She whirled toward the spiky moss green-eyed man standing behind the couch. "Why did I listen to you? Kaiba would've understood if Yugi came with me."
Joey regarded her with a rude intention. "Ya got boobs, why not?" He shrugged.
"Guess boobs don't work on Kaiba." Tristan scoffed. "Not Anzu's—"
Yugi turned away from the brunette peevishly. "Guys…" He seldom revealed exasperation but his voice was breathy with indignation. "Can we stop? Please… That's my girlfriend."
Duke obeyed and answered Anzu's question directly. "Figured you always blab-mouth him errytime time he does something you don't like. You give it to him straight. He would've expected you to ask him to meet you." Dark brows frowned in consternation. "What did he say?"
Anzu glared at her feet. "He said she'd come around, if not today, tomorrow."
"The hell!" Joey cried, catching everyone's swift eyes, he muttered quietly. "Is wrong with da yeti…"
"Last time she was gone, you weren't much help." Anzu snapped with razor sharp fury.
"Hey." Tristan intercepted. "Lets not. We tryin' to find where Euneya is."
Yugi worried his bottom lip with a finger. "Kaiba is the best help we can have. I was hoping he knew more than we did."
Anzu rolled her blue eyes, scoffing in annoyance. "Asking him for help is unreasonable. He doesn't care. Duke, you were right, he was playing around with her. If he cared enough he'd try to help."
"I told ya." Duke bobbed his head humorlessly. "Rich guys are no different. If a girl disappears, it's for his advantage. He can move on to the next target."
Anzu grimaced in disgust, "Save me the details, please."
"I'm telling you how it is."
Anzu blinked at the room, all eyes targeted the blond. Joey was eyeing his drink thoughtfully. "If you had seen what I had… Kaiba—He ain't like that."
"Are you actually siding with Kaiba?" Anzu asked in disbelief, she turned to Duke, "Is Joey Wheeler siding with Kaiba?" Her moss green eyed friend couldn't look away from the blond.
"I ain't siding!" Joey cried, "I'm juz sayin'. Dat yeti can be a jackass for all I care but when it's 'bout her he changes. I've seen it with ma own eyes!" He glared, "Ya don't believe me? He came to ma work juz to settle why I didn't know where she went last time."
"He came to you?" Anzu grabbed his arm, but Joey snatched it back. "When was this?"
Joey couldn't meet her eyes, "Da time when you wanted to kick my ass."
She withdrew. "Oh." Anzu averted, "And you didn't tell us?"
"Do I gotta?" He snapped. "It wasn't only dat, there were other times…"
"How many times did you meet Kaiba?" Incredulously Anzu whispered.
"I'm tellin' ya." Joey murmured, turning to his drink, "Every time I went to see Euneya."
"Doesn't change shit." Grunted Tristan, rubbing his palms, "He doesn't know where she is. If debt collectors have her, they could be anywhere across Japan!"
Knowing his softhearted nature, he would put his life on the life for close ones. She stiffened. "I know what we won't do." Anzu pointed at him. "Don't mess with any debt collectors. If we risk ourselves, not all of us will live."
"You don't think the police is doing any better than they'd been doing for decades!" He cried.
"We are all frustrated, Tristan!" Anzu flared with original temper that shook the whole group. "I can't tell my mom—she doesn't care! I can't ask anyone for help, Kaiba is out, and all we can do is sit around and wait for the police to find a corpse."
"What 'bout dat…boss of 'ers?" Joey asked suddenly.
Anzu turned to him, her emotions calming from his quick distraction. "What boss?"
"From da orphanage."
"Isao-sama can't know about debt collectors."
"Serenity said he's been actin' suspicious. Goes out without sayin', locks himself in 'is office for days."
"How does Serenity know?" Duke demanded.
"She thought they needed help at the orphanage with 'Neya gone."
Anzu smiled, sighing. "At least one of us is thinking straight."
"I know..." Joey grinned. "Dat's ma sista!"
They were meticulous to the teeth. The older one wasn't harsh. He held authority but softened on her due to her new position. The younger one was worse. He never let her speak a single phrase but a mere 'Hai' was the rule and off she went, bustling with duties more than she could handle. She didn't complain and insisted on the abnormal workload. Often there was another man, she squinted her eyes to remember his name. Tongue sticking out of her pink lips, she remembered running into him at the front door. Outwardly masculine, light skinned, almond brown eyes and soft smile, he spoke to her courteously, lingering to ask about her health and when she was hired.
"I'm a volunteer." Serenity replied.
Takeo nodded, his eyes turned gloomy. "Hai. Uh, because of the—uh, lack of employees." He concluded. "We're working on that." He quickly assured.
She knew he was being polite for her sake. Instead of tiptoeing, she cut to the chase. "She was kidnapped," Serenity assumed. "Are you searching cities?"
Takeo blinked wide and coughed in his hand. Apologizing, he cleared his throat. "Ho—how do you know?"
"I'm a friend of hers. I heard she was missing and came to help out." Gesturing to the orphanage over her shoulder, she regarded the strain at the corner of his eyes. "Euneya never said anything about financial snags. She is like that—" Staring at the parking lot, she frowned in deep thought, "Strong willed but can't control when things get worse. I know she can take care of herself but you never know huh."
Takeo could only bob his head like a puppet.
"I heard you hatched a search troop for her, Isao-sama talks aloud on the phone, you can hear him across the hall. My friend's are trying to find news too. If I know anything, I'll tell you."
"Thank you." He smiled.
Their conversations were quick and to the point. Serenity rubbed the bed sheets in the sink, unfortunately the washer needed a fix and the maintenance man came an hour ago. She was left with a basket to clean before making the children's beds. They were inside studying or keeping themselves busy. None complained instead opted to help her with the work. They were well mannered and sweet; almost all of them openly welcomed her. She couldn't help but think their quick adaptation to her was because of the emptiness left by Euneya's absence. They were eager to have a female figure around, as they were accustomed with. Although she couldn't fill Euneya's shoes, she tired and conformed to the rules set by the 'other one.'
Her soft face turned to a disgruntled scowl. He hadn't been nice to ever since she set foot in Isao-sama's office, requesting to volunteer, even then, she felt his heated angry gaze strike upon her. He was possessive of Euneya's position and wouldn't take it if anyone else took her place. Serenity had no intention of doing so and made it clear, still, he was suspicious of her.
"What's his deal?" She mumbled to herself.
"Are the sheets clean?" Boomed a voice over her shoulder.
Serenity swung around, stuttering hopelessly. "I-I-I was—I was…"
" 'Hai' or no?" He cut her short.
"Did you clean the kitchen? What about their meal? It's almost dark and they are hungry! Did you sweep the halls? Isao-sama wants his tea. Close the shutters in the main hall. Wipe the floors. The rain stains them. Did you transfer the folder I asked you to Isao-sama? And did you clear the closet? What about the rooms at the back? Are you sure you want to volunteer, you've hardly been any help!"
Her lip curled snidely, she didn't know anyone rude—besides the rumors she heard about Seto Kaiba—she didn't now anyone rude like Gorou-san existed.
She opened her mouth to speak. "I-"
" 'Hai' or no!" Gorou-san shouted.
"NO!" Serenity splashed her fist in the water, splashing them both with the soapy substance.
He frowned very darkly as if about to reprimand. Gorou-san stomped back in the hall, muttering under his breath heatedly about 'having the worst day…'
You're not the only one. Serenity glared at his back. "Creepy, crawly mean idiot." She grunted, returning to the sheets.
She put the sheets in the dryer and continued with her other duties. He kept pestering her to hurry the meals. Filling their plates and serving them in 30 minutes record time, she was grateful to sit back and put her feet up. The swinging door was filled by a moving shadow. She felt her stomach drop.
Gorou-san shoved the kitchen door. "What are you doing? You haven't situated the folders in order. Why? I can't find my important documents! Did you move my desk?"
"H-hai." Meekly, she nodded, flashing him a brilliant smile. "I made it neater. Your folders are on the right, random papers on the left. Your clips, pens are next to your computer. I cleaned the screen; by the way, it was black with dust. It's not good for your lungs. And your chair was missing a screw so I found one and tightened—"
Gorou-san was blinking as if about to fall over and die. "R-random… Papers?"
"I rearranged your folders like you asked. Most of them had double copies, I thought it was taking extra space and threw them out."
He treaded toward her closely. Perched on the counter, she inched away at his proximity. His stare intent and mouth shaking. "Double copies." Gorou-san managed to whisper. "The copies are for our record and the parent's! How can you throw out the copies! We need them as proof of adoption!" He screamed.
Serenity fell of the counter, clutching the corners wearily. "I-I…I… You—" She swallowed and started again, but it was a broken reel of words. "Wha—I—You didn't—Why didn't—I knew you'd—Crap! I'm sorry!" She grabbed his arm, "I thought you wanted extra space. How'd I know?"
"This is why I don't like volunteers!" Gorou-san shrieked.
The mumbling chatter of children outside ceased at his scream.
He was fuming, eyes shimmering red. "And the 'random papers' as you call it, were on my desk for review. Parent's selected specific kids at a specific time and need a specific date to see their selections again to specifically adopt and deal with specific adoption agreements!" Her ear swelled from the scream. "These specific papers are a mess and I can't locate specific guardians and their specific selections anymore because you—YOU CAME AND RUINED EVERYTHING!" Out of breath, he stood glowering down at her.
Serenity pouted at his blazing eyes. It was one thing to stand up to his constant yelling but it was another to look up to his towering figure that screamed he was about to do worse. She ducked her head, squeaking abnormally, "Gomenasai."
Gorou-san said nothing and left the room. His departure was an appropriate sign for the children to flood to kitchen in worry.
"Gorou-san is really mad." One said in awe, "What did you do? He never likes to yell."
"He never yelled at Euneya-sama,"
Serenity sheepishly cupped her flamed cheeks. "I… thought so."
There was a silent girl standing the door, eyeing her reproachfully. Serenity lowered her hands. "What?" She asked the girl who shook her head and walked out. The rest followed her queue.
Her 'help' was second hand abuse it seemed. Serenity hated it when someone didn't like her. It bothered the life out of her. She wanted him to give her a chance but he shunned her from his office. Aware the orphanage was in ruins at her hand, she didn't make further effort to reconcile with Gorou-san. He had enough of her already. She could tell every one shared the sentiment. Some children treated her nicely, others not much but it didn't bother her to an unnerving degree as it did with Gorou-san. Euneya's absence hurt every one. The director rarely ventured from his office, sulking. Gorou-san and he stood outside in the porch smoking packs of cigarettes she counted as she cleaned the next day.
They didn't interest in thorough conversation with her. Only Takeo was sweet enough to accompany her around the orphanage, listening to her grumbles, hinting mood-lifting jokes. She had a feeling he had an alternative motive. His questions were always about Euneya.
Then it happened. She heard him, rather.
5 days of search, finally some news resorted from waiting in the dark.
Isao-sama was furiously talking on the phone. She was passing his office and overheard.
"You should know better, my nephew wouldn't let me come alone. I'll be there tonight."
Serenity waited idly in the afternoon when Isao-sama summoned Gorou-san to his office. She pressed her ear to the door.
Gorou gave up pacing and threw himself in a chair. To keep his restless hands busy, he tapped his kneecaps to an unknown rhythm. Isao-sama finally turned from the document and looked at him.
"We go tonight." He declared.
Gorou was quick to reply, it had to do with his repressed emotions needing an outlet, Isao-sama figured. Lately he had been moody and very resentful. "About time the bastard gave news. 4 days ago he said he'd contact you on their whereabouts. It took too damn long. What if he is playing a joke?"
"He knows joking means a bullet to his heart if he tries." Isao-sama snapped icily. "Takeo is already anxious. He has been running around like a fool around cities trying to find clues. Nothing came up. He did meet with some of their men. They're all drunk and useless. She better be armed if the scum's are keeping her."
"You don't think she is underground?" Gorou wondered.
"There is nothing wrong with speculation, Gorou. It did cross my mind. They have her hidden in a seedy location any respectable woman can't be allowed."
"How soon are you meeting?"
"Around midnight, I'll be back around 3." Isao-sama glanced up from his watch to the door as if a string jerked his head up. Gorou was on his feet, answering to a subtle stirring in his mind, sneakily he approaching the lock. Isao-sama continued in the same drone. "You know the routine. Watch the kids… Keep them safe…"
Gorou positioned himself behind the door. Catching Isao-sama's flashing eyes, he nodded and pulled it open.
The rummaging of clothes, trailing auburn hair and cursing met the room as the body landed prone against the rug. "Fuck!" Serenity shot up, face flushed, and bowed. "I was going—to—get—" She dodged Gorou's penetrating stare and fumbled. "I wanted to ask you—and I saw the door was closed. I waited."
Isao-sama leaned in his chair and folded his arms, observing the girl like a chancellor. "Why bother. For goodness sake, close the door!" He ordered.
Gorou slammed it shut with a single hand nudge. Serenity trembled at the exploding noise. "I-I."
"Give her a chair, Gorou." Unblinking dark eyes captured her teary olive.
She glanced up at Gorou. He pointed to the couch across the room. Her lips quivered, as he resembled much like the executioners sending her on her death trail. She solemnly managed her way to the couch and sat down with a swish. Avoiding Gorou's gaze, she drowned herself in guilt, downcast.
"Well?" Isao-sama prompted.
"I… Was passing by—"
"We know that." Impatiently, Isao-sama spat. "Have another go and we'll see if we want to believe you."
Serenity guiltily looked up. Isao-sama sucked in his breath. "I'm sorry, I wanted to know. She is my friend too. I want her to be safe!"
His eyes softened on her teary, pale face. He couldn't handle girls who cried. Euneya never quivered and was wishy-washy or moped. "Damn it!"
Gorou looked disturbed and cornered himself in the other side of the room, back turned away from her.
"Can I ask you if she is ok?" Serenity eagerly sat up. "Isao-sama, please?"
Isao-sama was appalled by the question. "What guarantees you I know her welfare? I haven't seen Euneya since she disappeared!" He demanded, outraged.
"You've been trying to find her." Boldly, she nodded, jerking a finger at him, "And you act suspicious. Your nephew and you talk about the same thing. I always overhear you and I know you met with one of the debt collectors who took her!"
Isao-sama jerked away as if stung by venom. "What in the world—" He gaped at the sidelong looked Gorou gave her. "Can't you keep her out of our business?"
"She is my friend!" Serenity announced, drowning his yell. "We're all worried and want her back—what's the point if I know about what you're planning?"
"The point being…" Isao-sama spoke in delectable soothing tones, "The task is very dangerous. Not even the officials are aware of our agenda. Hai, we want her back. We're trying to be quick as possible."
"So you know where she is?" Serenity leapt to his desk, throwing her hands on the surface. "Can I see her?"
Isao-cama rubbed his temple with groan. "Ohh, control her, Gorou!" He howled. "I knew this was coming. She'll tell the world about this!"
Gorou stabled a hand on her smooth shoulder. Serenity submissively slid back to the couch like a trained pet.
"We can't do much about it now." Gorou spoke. "Since she knows, we may as well tell her everything."
"WHAT?" Isao-sama exclaimed.
"Really?" Serenity clasped her eyes cheerfully. "Gorou-san, you're so nice! I can't believe I thought you were an ass!" She began shaking his arm as if trying to bring a dead thing back to life, "I won't tell anyone, onegai!"
He yanked back his arm with glaring depreciation. "I'm didn't say it to change your point of view."
She was still smiling. Gorou felt bizarre and turned to Isao-sama. "I'll keep watch of the children tonight."
"I'll help!" Serenity chirped happily.
Isao-sama gave her a look of pure boredom. "We know that."
"Actually, I want to stay until Euneya is back!" Serenity smiled appreciatively. "I'll do my best to fill her shoes and I know I've made mistakes…" She turned apologetically to Gorou, "But I came here for her sake! And don't hesitate to ask me to anything—anything to help her back!"
"Your…" Isao-sama blinked. "Er, enthusiasm is charming, Serenity."
"Thank you!" She bowed. "Now, back to business. Who are they? Where and what do they want from Euneya? I knew money was a factor, debt collector says it all. Why did they have to kidnap her for money? And what progress have you made to find her location?"
Gorou and Isao-sama exchanged a look of stupefaction. Isao-sama covered his eyes with a hand, groaning quietly. Gorou lifted a poised hand and pointed to the couch. Serenity nodded and darted across the room, sitting attentively and waited for elucidation.
"You promise not to breathe a word to a soul." Isao-sama growled.
"I swear, but…" Serenity frowned. "Can I tell my friends? They'll want to know."
"If I decline, it won't matter." Isao-sama grumbled.
"Nope!" Auburn hair tossed with the shake of her head.
"Very well." Isao-sama stood up from the chair and went around, he leaned against the edge. "The men who took Euneya are a ravenous bunch, none have survived from their confinement. They are one of the largest and wealthiest heaps with legal and business associations, over the years they have branched into China and Korea. Their reach continues to grow. Euneya, now a pawn couldn't repay, so they took her as a form of repayment—according to our latest theory."
Serenity's eyes turned round, her lips trembled. "What are they gonna do….To her?" She quivered.
Isao-sama couldn't bear looking at her. He pretended to stare out the window. "Tonight I'm meeting with someone who knows a few of their locations. He heard about a new girl. If the girl is Euneya, we are on the right track, if not—well, lets pray she is! In the meantime, assorted officers are being watchful of our orphanage." He gave her a grave look. "Mind yourself, Serenity and don't give a thing away. We can't let them know what we're trying to do."
"But the police can help."
"News of the police spread easily," Gorou said softly, "If any of Ruiji's—" His eyes widened. "Ah, I mean, the debt collectors hear about the police moving in, our mole will be killed. We can't lose him yet."
Isao-sama removed his guarded glare from Gorou. "Well put. The police are easier target than us. They go in undercover and get caught in their bulletproof vests and bric-a-bracs, defeating our plan. You see, they expect this from the police not us."
Serenity was internalizing the information. She looked up slowly. "What happens if you know where she is?"
"Good question." Gorou stepped forward. "We have time for that, don't we?" He raised a critical brow at the director.
"Hai… hai!" He nodded instantly. "We are certain she is with them. It's only a matter of time…" Isao-sama hummed, drifting to his chair.
He made a grab for the paperweight, cursing at the open window and extreme tornado swarming his office. Clutching the papers, he pressed it under the weight. The fluttering noises boomed on the desk. He walked to the window to slam it shut. The act in itself ordinary and done without thought. As he returned to his desk, the papers were strewn across the floor. He glared at the mess in the usual ardor of vexation. Akemi was gone to get something downstairs. He was picking up the documents and the slicing of the paper glided against his fingertips, head picked up, the door opened and a stranger hurried away as if he had walked in the wrong room.
He scowled at the open space between the door and the wall. The familiarity introduced by the stranger was puzzling and disturbing. He knew that stranger.
Brown hair, olive eyes…
There weren't copious strangers with the combination.
Throwing open the door, he strode out in the dim hall. The floor was empty except for the squeaking chair swinging at the cubicle from a passing hand or the brushing of a skirt. A phenomena no longer mysterious but perturbing his invariable composure.
He ran faster toward the doors, a left turn, quickly swooping to the right, passing 3 doors into the blanch receptionist corner. There weren't many lights to assume he was running in circles but he felt like it. A door on the right banged shut. He was running again. Her shadow passed through the windows.
Opening the door, he walked in the corner. She was standing across the hall under a single, fragile light, head turned over her shoulder as if keeping watch of her pursuer. The hallway behind her was deserted. But then, she saw things he didn't.
When he moved a step, she clenched her hands to her forearms, both smeared in ghastly liquid. His throat clogged at the crimson of her clothes, dripping on her legs and waist.
"What happened to you?" He whispered without moving his lips.
She heard him clearly. Euneya turned her head. Hair disheveled, blood oozing and heavily scarred on her body. She was crying, shaking her head like a madwoman.
He kept moving toward her.
"Please…" She wheezed. "Please don't come."
He tried to but something held him back, both of his legs were glued to the floor. Euneya turned and darted down the hall she once feared. He felt a wire snap around his throat and a cloth fell over his eyes.
Kaiba rustled to his feet. The second he did, he slammed hard on the tiled floor. Gagging breathlessly, Kaiba pushed himself on his side and hissed at the scab on his elbow. Instead of getting up, he lay still for a while, steadying his rapid heart and breathing. Every night for the past few days at this hour…
The difference with the dream was he remembered it. To every sickening detail and the blood of her clothes and body. Clenching his eyes shut, he distracted himself. Work was stifling, Mokuba was away, the house was haunting, and Euneya…
His eyes opened to the ceiling. He garnered a daunting realization that something… somewhere… She was not safe and in pain. He never dreamt about such things. He slept without having dreams. It was impossible because he rarely slept growing up, thanks to his stepfather. The feeling made him feel weak and terrified. Was she trying to tell him something? Was this a way for her to reach out to him? In his dream?
Pushing himself up, Kaiba stared at his bed and walked out with no intention of returning.
He was scowling on his way to work. Having no idea how he dressed, ate breakfast and made it out of his home alive. Disregarding employees, Akemi stuttered multiple notes and appointments for the day. He had the desire to cancel them all but daren't. There was paper, computer, heavy rain, and no coffee…
Electric blue eyes trailed to the corner of the table. She always sent him coffee with a note, her way of wishing him a successful day. He never tasted an appetizing thank you before. She was always an assemblage of things he couldn't understand. Her way of eating noodles, baking, hot temper, working abusively—they both shared the habit—her appreciation for the soup he made, and when she kept showing him ordinary things like her parent's old apartment, the day she scolded him for keeping his emotions and past selfishly. Kaiba turned away from the computer, still uncomfortable with the notion.
True, she meant solely to make him let go of the grudge. It was so like her to mean, grudging men are useless. If he didn't control himself he'll become one. Kaiba unhooked his hand from the armrest to study the raining city. The pelting rain soothed his restive deviations for the moment. He was still in the absentminded state when a soft knock cracked against the door. The sound too meek and gentle for intrusion, he knew whom it was. It glided open to reveal Katsu, dressed tonic in black suit and slacks.
Kaiba wasn't interested in his attire but the object he carried.
"Just like you asked," Katsu bowed.
Kaiba ripped open the envelope. The routine questions undertow. "Where you watched?" The seal broke and a load of white documents splashed in his palm.
"No. I was discreet."
Usually he never trusted new guards for the task. Katsu prevailed his peers from where he was hired; it was no wonder Kaiba hired him. "Anything unusual?" He perused the documents.
"The largest concentration moved near Osaka, some headed to Hiroshima Tuesday. There weren't any left and I was a free to inspect. I found a broken passage leading to a deserted firehouse."
Firehouse, that meant the location was in city limits. Kaiba read the script of names. He never cared for intuition but his screaming conscience told him the man's picture he was looking at was what he needed to put his plan to use. "Do you know their original number?" He needed to internalize the army he'd face, their weakness, strength, and size.
Katsu searched the floor, conjuring the correct answer, "Thousands… Millions…" He stuttered. "I'm not sure, moushiwake arimasen deshita." He bowed to the floor.
"Get up." Kaiba snapped, glaring, "Stop apologizing and give me the correct number. Their dense community can't be penetrated if I don't know their location, size, and associations." He fingered the business contacts on the list.
Hastily, Katsu got to his feet, nodding. "Hai, Kaiba-sama."
"Sora Yuu." Kaiba studied the man. "Find him and tell him I want to meet him."
"Today." Kaiba returned the documents in the envelope. He asked for security purposes, "How was the list acquired?"
"We hacked into DelCo systems at 5:00 am. The information was provided from the mainframe. I told no one of its intent. The list consists of men associated to black market stocks. 29% who own the stocks associate with Kaiba Corp. 34% belong to various business conglomerates of Japan. And," Kenta swallowed, "I read the report, I know I shouldn't have, not knowing is protecting oneself but I had a feeling…"
"Someone I know." Kaiba stated indifferently.
Katsu's eyes widened in shock, "H-hai!"
"Your very own Shoji-shacho buys 20% stocks each month, approximately holding 54% in the market—the highest, I checked." He gasped.
Kaiba was impressed with him but didn't show it. He might have guessed the ruthless lion dealt with the underground network, it did sound inane that he came to acclaim without the black arts and surreptitious help. He owned more than 50% of stocks in the black market, who would have thought?
"I'm not interested in Shoji." Kaiba smoothly declared. "I want to use Sora. He can get me in."
Katsu lingered indecisively. "Can I a-ask… How?" Fearfully, he squeaked.
He didn't have anything to hide. "Using their network. We know a number of businesses depend on the stocks, illegally bought and tossed for amusement. I can burn them all and watch them wither. I want a prompt penetration, a persona claiming interest in buying their stocks." Kaiba smirked as a faint memory broke into his thoughts. He used the method ages ago on his stepfather. Funny he was at it again, old habits…
"Once I get in their network, not even Shoji can provoke me. Their location will be provided automatically and I can…" Wily, he reviewed Katsu. The rest was not necessary to be known.
"Get Sora." The decree, with firm resoluteness Katsu could not object, he swiftly left the office.
He predicted the information would slowly run to him like a river. All he needed was time, quick thinking and had to be on his best guard. He'd walk amongst backstabbers, men who killed to live. If he ever left alive… He'd someday sit idly on a sunny afternoon and reminiscent about the dangers he eluded to save a woman.
A woman… Kaiba considered the word, rendering it to his tongue with reverent appeal and devotion. He was bent on analyzing the complex regions needed to overcome. They had numerous hideouts. The easiest and fasted route for him to locate them was to follow in the footsteps of previous businessmen who often dealt in the black market. Shoji was one. The lion was planning something for Kaiba Corp. Kaiba was sure. He wasn't too worried. Sora Yuu was the second prosperous businessman in Hiroshima, Japan. He had visible threads in the network, easy to meet and imitate. After the stocks came official rendezvous with networks. He may happen on Shoji there one day. Which was a hindrance and he couldn't use his real name if he ever wanted to slip away from the business forever…
Sora agreed to meet him on Friday around noon.
An overnight company was built, he deviated away from his favorite classical pseudonym, blue dragon or dragon in short. The company had to be unique, clueless of its new owner. Katsu stared fixedly at the computer for hours, figuring names for the company's website.
"Eneco?" He mouthed. "Novedi?"
"Amtel?" Katsu turned to Kaiba who was typing away with the speed of light, fixing the company profile. "Kaiba-sama, any opinions?"
"Shut up dot com." Katsu looked hurt, "You didn't—"
"Get it over with, Katsu." Kaiba rebuked. Brown locks falling over stern blue eyes from the rigorous load both pulled.
"Nordi?" He worded.
"Make it legible." Kaiba ordered.
Once a company name was created, the domain was inputted, profile was dialed in. Kaiba hired a roomful of workers to traffic the site and load orders. The first hour moved steep. Many transactions were produced and he had numerous workers tune in from their laptops in other regions of Domino. Katsu opened the site with a grin. He clicked upon the history, search engine, various information on communication, telegraphic and stopped breathing.
Strumming out of the chair, he ran to Kaiba's side, who was reading over an employee's shoulder. "Kaiba-sama!" Katsu gasped. "You can't be serious!" He pointed to a computer. "I-I can't."
"Deal with it." He curtly sliced. "I can't use Kaiba Corp."
He hopped from one foot to another. "We anticipated that." Katsu blinked three times, "But I—I can't be the president of Fostco."
His reply was simple and finalizing. "You picked the name to your silly company. Now administer it."
Kaiba was making way to the door casually. Long coat flaring at his heels, shoulders squared, eyes alert, smooth faced and composed like an elegant vessel sweeping past trillions of miniscule, distasteful crews. "I will meet Sora tomorrow as an administrative assistant." He didn't include the advantage of meeting an elderly 'foreign' businessman. Sora couldn't recognize Seto Kaiba if he acted slightly out of character and switched his physicality.
Katsu understood his silence and briskly nodded. "If you wish, Kaiba-sama. I will do as you say."
"Hm." He strode out of the room.
Kaiba was aware Sora came into town 3 weeks ago and was staying at an impeccable hotel in central Domino. They met formally, exchanged topics and craftily swept into business. Kaiba's main reason for calling him out, he was frank but cool.
"I want in to the market."
Sora had saintly white hair on his head and reed-like white moustache curling his lips. He was dark skinned than people of Domino and large eyed, carrying a fatherly soft voice. "Now, now, if I knew you wanted to talk about networks, we'd have met at a better, congenial location."
They were sitting at the fancy lobby. Flowers, vases, oriental rugs and strolling maître's captured the scene. Circling and gathering necessities for visitors, maître's left the two alone to privately converse. In the bustle and rumble, it seemed no one cared for their topic, even if it had to do with illegal underground networks. Sora chuckled robustly. "You are a fine one," He smirked at Kaiba. "And you look established. I haven't heard of the company you represent but we do look forward to new connections."
"We are an online community. Our stocks have built up considerately in the past month and we want to exceed." Kaiba empathized. Taking the tea in hand, he casually leaned back to sample the warm substance. It contained ginger roots with the scent of jasmine, spicy yet soothing for the throat.
"I can't seem to find any infelicitous relics of your company. Coming to this side of the market, you endanger risking your company from—uh, how do I put it…" Sora chortled, "Humiliating exposure to the community and your business."
"I'm aware." Kaiba sipped the tea.
"We have secured installations, you can profit from entering the practice however don't be half-witted by extensive consortium that rival you for novice reasons. It is to be expected." Sora added. "I exhort you to feel free with partnership with my company if the occasion rises. I don't see harm in helping your, uh, what is it called?"
Kaiba restrained his amusement to respond. "Fostco."
"Oh!" Sora's white brows flew to his scalp. "What a name!"
"It was persuaded upon our president." Kaiba hinted sardonically.
"Your president must be busy to send you alone on this exchange. I don't mind anyhow. But I do intend to meet him when the opportunity strikes."
"Most importantly." Agreed Kaiba.
Sora regarded him in steady fascination. "Now I really admire your character, very candid and fit to pull the ropes with expert efficiency. We can begin when you are ready. I'll have someone organize the contract. The ultimate commerce season is right around the corner. You're just in time! An abundance of businesses need to have their plug pulled. This season feels spectacular. I haven't been in the market for 4 months but I feel an adrenaline rushing in me like never before!" He raved.
He had the impression many of the meetings like this would follow. He needed to build a public profile and soirees were the thing to do. Kaiba hated parties, but he didn't let his disfavor of festivities keep him from developing significant correspondences in the black market. Sora was too softhearted and naïve, at first he thought the man was tough to crack but once he was let into his confidence, Sora was an open book—even brazenly opened his bank accounts and stocks for use. He called it 'his return to the market after 4 months' a celebration. Moments like these Kaiba reaped in his wits for choosing the right person to use, as Sora was the perfect tool for his plan.
They met every other day while Sora was in Domino. He zipped open the portal of the malicious gang and underground that not even the police could penetrate in the city. Walking amongst gangs, black murderers, and illegal firms was a disloyalty to his own company but he was taking a risk. Kaiba was standing beside Sora who was sputtering over his liquor talking to acquaintances; he saw a familiar silvery figure ridiculously giggling with a group of men.
Kaiba realized how important he needed a secret identity if he escaped.
Shoji was walking with a tall figure in his heels. He was young, soft with candid brown eyes; it was more than his smile that struck Kaiba's skepticism. He knew the man.
What did she call him? He lifted his drink to his lips. His mind a blunder of thoughts, he couldn't reverse memory if he tried. Kaiba averted back to his group. The little men were sucking up to Sora over drinks. He was forced to keep regard of the conversation.
Shoji passed their group, busy chuckling with two men to notice his tall figure. It might have been different for the younger man following him who curiously regarded Kaiba but took it as mistake and walked away. It took longer than 10 minutes for him to make a clean get away. He cut through streets, wounded in circles to avoid particular pursuers if anyone was made curious of his identity. He reached Kaiba Corp. at 1:00 am. Katsu was in the lab, doing god knew what.
He started in a run when he saw Kaiba. Panting, he stopped outside his office. Kaiba turned reproachfully.
"I—got what you—want—ed!" Katsu gasped, snapping his fingers. Two guards dragged a body; he figured it was male because of the jeans and boots in the rainy weather. His features were unrecognizable due to the black sleeve enshrouding his neck and face up. The guards tossed him at Kaiba's feet, bowed and stepped back to Katsu.
Kaiba moved toward the prone, shaking figure. "What is … this?" He kicked at the trembling arm.
"What you wanted." Again snapping his fingers for the guards to stoop down, they undid the laces of the head covering and yanked him up to his knees. He went incompliant and silent, except for the rasping throaty noises whipping against the black cloth.
"We are not a mob." Kaiba hissed. "Get it off him!"
"Hai!" Katsu bent down to pull the sleeve. The material snipped against his arm, he made fluid incisions with his nail and promptly removed the covering.
Gasping, pale with horror, he trembled feebly. "Please! Please! Don't hurt me! I didn't do anything! I was in the park—and I—I didn't do anything! Please! Don't kill me!" He screamed, throwing himself flat on the floor. "I mean it! Please! God! Please! Don't hurt me! I was—was—oh please! I'm innocent!"
The screams did not perturb him. Kaiba scowled at the trembling man grabbing his ankle for mercy.
"I'm innocent! I don't know what I did! I—" He gasped, clutching his throat. "I'll do anything if you let me go! Please!"
The resemblance of his long chin and arms made Kaiba's stomach twist. He shifted stiffly, face remote and eyes blank. Feeling oddly staring in a mirror, he lashed a brutal order for all ears. "Get him. Up!" Kaiba shrieked.
He was wrenched backwards, stumbling on his knees, cramped from sitting for hours he groaned and screeched painfully at the unhesitant tugs of escorts. Moving his feet, he balanced firmly on the rug and sprang on Kaiba. Begging miserably for mercy. "Please! I didn't—"
Kaiba assessed him. The long face milked in tears procured a different shade of blue eyes. His mouth was skewed from screaming and wheezing out of breath. The fear muscling his lean body made him fragile in appearance, however, if he possessed obstinate composure he would suffice.
Kaiba relaxed and approached the man. Studying his long hands hanging lengthily against his narrow torso. They were the same height, body built, chestnut color hair filled his scalp, but the usual abhorrent glare Kaiba assumed was unavailable. He supposed letting the man's fragile demeanor slide wasn't a problem.
"Name?" Kaiba murmured.
He whimpered, wheezing rapidly. "H-Hiro."
Another drawling scrutiny later, Kaiba nodded. "He will do."
Katsu seemed pleased with him self and bowed. "Hai, Kaiba-sama…"
The person in question rotated the room with questioning eyes. "I will? What do you mean?" He exclaimed. "Do what? I'm innocent!"
"You've been appointed to a special task on behalf of Kaiba-sama." Katsu elected himself to explain, "You do know Seto Kaiba, don't you?" He pinned Hiro a threatening glare.
"Of-of…" Hiro bleated, staring widely at the man, "I do! He is extremely popular and—and respected." Whirling toward Kaiba, he bowed. "It is an honor to meet you. I love your games. Can't believe I'm meeting you in these... circumstances—"
"Can't you do him a favor?" Katsu continued without waiting for an answer, "Someone with Kaiba-sama's physical description needs to support the chair while he is…absent."
Hiro's blue eyes froze on Kaiba's face. "I…I!"
"You will be rewarded generously." Katsu implied.
"But I don't—can't—"
"All you need to do is sit in his chair, dress his clothes and act awesome." Katsu snapped. "Can't do it? You don't garner abilities to patent his company. He needs a double."
Kaiba was staring out the window having no intention to comply a word. The issue was clarified. Katsu cut it short and Hiro was…
About to faint.
He landed with thump on the floor. Katsu started and grabbed him. The guards helped Hiro to the couch. Kaiba eyed him with an expression that might've suggested he was staring at a rotten corpse. "Why is he so weak?" He muttered irritably.
"We…don't know." Katsu apologetically whispered, regarding Hiro's perspired solemn face. "He suits your description astonishingly. Tall, brown hair, blue eyes, light skinned—his character needs work but I promise not to let him speak a word to the employees."
"Keep him locked." Kaiba leaned forward and pulled a chain from his pocket. A locket with a picture of a girl and a boy, "Family?"
"We hadn't the time to confer about family relations," Katsu sheepishly answered.
Kaiba returned the chain to Hiro's pocket. "Clean him up, give him my schedule for the next month. Tell him to call his family and explain he is on a trip or…" Adding with mocking laughter, he said, "Found a new niche." Kaiba's eyes glowed amusedly. "He may be lucrative to me in the future,"
Katsu smiled. "If you wish. Uh, can I ask how the rendezvous was tonight? Met your expectations?"
Kaiba drew away from the couch. He headed out of the office. "He was there. With someone, I can't remember…" His head throbbed as he tried to recall a name.
"Who? Shoji-shacho?" Katsu gasped. "Like you said he would!"
"The rendezvous aren't special." Kaiba growled, "Mingling is not my thing but if I can oust someone and take his place, your company will be marketable." His long strides came to a halt. Katsu stumbled and stared in the abrupt silence. Kaiba searched the hall and looked up at the light. "I keep thinking this is a longer route. Is there a faster way to get in their market?"
"You have just begun." Katsu pointed out.
"There is more. Sora can be holding out on me. I don't have time…" Kaiba muttered quietly. One would have said he was thinking aloud. It was the first time Katsu saw him in the act. "If there is more… They can do worse… She can't stay too long." Kaiba strode in the elevator. Katsu bowed after him and watched the doors slide.
Versace, of champagne color shrouding long tan legs, holding the said liquid, and a cigarette in the other, she looked ready to shoot someone. He hadn't a clue why but the impression failed to dissuade him from approaching her. Whether it was his imagination, he thought he'd never find his cousin sulking—alone. She was always in the company of fawning men. Irresistible women don't drink alone, even if they sulked. He scanned the lounge and descended the carpeted stairs, shoes tapping softly on the tiled floor of the bar. He stopped next to her stool.
"I'll have what she is having." Shigeru ordered. The bartender nodded and concocted his drink.
Lenora sipped her drink in a daydream. Her eyes stayed on the counter ahead, moments of passivity passed; finally she smirked and rudely scoffed. "You're early. Get caught?"
Shigeru's optimism sank as his face plastered in solemnity. "Nothing passes you does it?" His saturnine remark made her blink from her daydream and stare. "Shut up and drink." He drank his glass first and she did the same. Letting the burning liquid settle, he cleared his throat softly. "Heard you going back to the US? What happened with the guy?"
Her pale face scrunched. "What guy?" Lenora grimaced.
"Like I didn't know. You stayed back for someone that caught your eye. An impossible feat I assume. Obnoxious, hard headed, cold—isn't that your type?"
"Better than softies like you." Shigeru didn't laugh. She picked her drink again. "I don't want to indulge in details. And I'm not going anywhere." Lenora looked him over. "How'd you get caught? Thought you went off adventuring…"
"He had people follow. Jeeze, couldn't you distract him? He was bent on dragging me back, I had to cave or he'd—"
"Cut your organs to use in his body?" Lenora ordered another drink. "He was considering it."
"I guess one of us has to take his role someday. Don't get me wrong, I know there are rewards, but can't I just… Enjoy the simple life I have?"
Her eyes branded on him with revulsion. "Here we go again with 'living life to the fullest' 'freedom' 'give me liberty, give me life' Cut the crap, Shigeru! He doesn't care. And since I'm not—"
"You're lucky." He grumbled. "If you don't get what you want, he'll murder and tarnish countries to throw your desires at your feet."
"And I am damned proud of it." Lenora smirked.
"Is he crouching to get your new conquest too?"
Shocked, her mouth parted in a gasp. "You don't know me! I can—"
Shigeru averted unconvincingly. "You don't fool me." He raised his glass. "He knows whom you want and while he is in Domino, he'll do anything incomparable to get your conquest. Who is it? Some rich mongrel you found at a party—that's as far as your flavors climb—you live for those debutante affairs—" The blow cuffed his left cheek, her shining eyes were formidable and coarse with raw heartlessness.
Shigeru felt his lips ride up. "That didn't hurt…"
She slapped him again, this time; tears came in his eyes at the sharpness. Her hand was up again but he stayed it against his side with an audible slam on the counter. The bartender stood 5 meters in rapt attention.
"You like him that much, no?"
She was seething. "Don't forget, dear cousin, your organs are applicable on dad."
Shigeru pushed her hand to take his glass, he turned to the mumbling bartender whom he caught staring. "Another one."
"Hai." Promptly the glass was filled.
"Cutting me open to live long, I don't think he'll approve later. There will be complications."
"He took you in so you will take his company! You can't fool me." She breathed.
"Please." Shigeru laughed, "Don't remind me. Or our relationship in public will seem suspicious."
Lenora rolled her eyes and asked for another drink. "How is the business going?"
"Where'd he find you?"
"Living the beggar's life again, uh?"
"Tokyo does have its lower class amenities."
"Better you shut your mouth and do what he says. He really will kill you if you leave again." Lenora reprimanded.
He smiled foolishly. "One of your rare sisterly brawls?"
"Idiot, we are not related. How am I your sister?"
"By name." He chuckled.
Lenora saluted her drink and drank it in a single gulp. "I am administrating plan 2! This time he will come to my hands himself. Dad has his connections, instead of him, I'll be using them."
"Need a hand?"
She glared suspiciously. "You never like my choices. Why are you helping?"
" 'Cause you don't like the intrusion." Shigeru lowered his empty glass.
"I don't." Lenora hissed meaningfully.
She licked the residue of alcohol on her lips. "Seto Kaiba."
Shigeru gripped the glass tightly his knuckles turned white. The veins of his temples scared his serene countenance. Cautiously, his eyes absorbed the amber liquid.
"I know, I know, here comes the mockery. He is affluent, rude, and hard to handle—like a dangerous trap—and I'm attracted." Her rant fell on deaf ears. She stopped at his deaden expression. "You can act a little alive. It's weird when you're quiet."
"What? Oh." He finished his drink. "You were saying?" He patiently looked up.
"As I was saying, he is hard to handle. I went to his office and he scorned me. Can you believe that? But he does have something I can't put my finger on… He is always wearing the same 'poised' look. You know what they say, cool on the outside, hot on the inside..." He droned her out without ample response, she didn't notice. Shigeru emptily regarded the glowing ice trembling in amber. He wasn't surprised a name as Seto Kaiba would fall from Lenora's lips. She had deranged taste in men with an exaggeration on his income, or nothing could satisfy the pampered heiress. If it weren't for his sporadic adventures around Japan, he would never come across the name from another woman.
He remembered her. They met on an ebullient day at a fundraiser. She wore a red t-shirt and jeans, brown hair and soft eyes. She told him about her feelings for—Shigeru raised his brows. "Tan?"
"He was mocking me." Lenora grinded her teeth, "Someone with a tan is more qualified than I am. Next time, I'm gonna give him a piece of my—"
Meeting Seto Kaiba was not warm neither was anything associated with him, as was expected. He could still feel the chilling gaze and contemptuous words writhing with black rancor.
"Get your putrid face…" Yea, he remembered Seto Kaiba.
Next time, who knew when that would be? Under no circumstances was Shigeru about to let Seto Kaiba off; little did he know their next meeting was more a profitable opportunity.
An owl wandered from the tree by the balcony. Sweeping its wings, waving erratically under the bleu night, the shadow fleeted across the pavement of the street, drowning in the black narrow alley. The deserted area hissed with frigid wind. Name brand stores didn't venture on these avenues of Domino. In the biting cold August midnight, the sordid region was sullen, lurking with howling ghosts and paper trails. The place was dead except for hungry street dogs and the rolling of shattered beer bottles clenched under shoes.
Isao-sama moved with learned practice toward the entrance of the building. He stopped on his toes to review the threshold and glanced skeptically at his shadow. "Come in after I give a signal." He warned under his breath.
Takeo couldn't protest if he tried because his oji-san entered without waiting. He lingered for a few moments, watchful of movements and listening to sounds indicating human activity. He had his knife if something dared to provoke him. Although, he never used it before, drastic incidents unlimited drastic reflexes, he practiced every night if the occasion called for it. After waiting for a while, he was getting restless at the silence emitting from the hideout.
That's it! Takeo walked inside. The humming sound of water dripping on the floor called to his ears. He stepped over a wet puddle almost immediately. The silvery water trembled under his feet. He continued steadily forward in the dark, intently listening for new unwelcoming sounds of struggle—a can flipped on the floor a yard away. The wooden panel came swinging at him from the right. The darkness was corruptive he couldn't see his hands. He jumped out of the way and wrenched apart the arresting arm on his throat.
"Damn it!" Hissed a familiar voice.
Frowning, he stilled. "Isao-sama?"
The man holding him had boils covering his face and dried black hair. His boring black eyes intensified on his young face. Tightening his hold on Takeo, he swung another arm around his waist and dragged him to the narrow corner. He was thrown on the floor by a pair of boots.
Takeo cringed and looked up at the grave face of Orochi.
"I told you to stay outside!" Berated his uncle from the left. He was sitting on a barrel, looking perfectly unharmed and—smoking a cigar.
"Him again." Droned Orochi. "Your favorite toy."
"I can't seem to let go of him." Remarked his uncle, his eyes focused on the man in dark robes towering Takeo. "Let him go, he is benign." The guard merely glared at Takeo distrustfully and didn't move.
Orochi smirked and sat down on the floor, folding his legs. Takeo pulled himself up at the same time. "Why—" His voice broke from inhaling dust. "Why did it take you long?"
"I am a busy man." Orochi regarded him carefully, "I don't help people. Especially when its betraying connections I risked my life to establish."
"Someone else's life is in danger." Takeo spat remorsefully, "Are you delaying intentionally? So we can't get to her? You said you'd call us in 2 days! It's been 5!"
"Stop shouting!" Smoke puffed from the shadows in the left. "We are here now. Give us the news, Orochi. Where are they? Who did they take with them? Is it whom we seek?"
"There are many women controlled in the business. You can't expect an accurate answer."
"You wasted 4 days to give us nonsense?" Takeo yelled.
"Takeo, shut up and let the man speak!" Isao-sama cut in.
Orochi boomed into lazy laughter. "I met one of his men. They travel by night and hide during day. All of them are entitled to specific locations and tasks. Another load of drugs was smuggled from China. Their main port is west from here, you can get there, can't you?"
"Drugs? Port?" Isao-sama stabbed the cigar and stood up, "Is that where she was taken?"
"No." Orochi snorted.
Takeo turned impatiently to his oji-san. "Do you want to smack him or shall I?" He gritted.
"Stop sounding like a damn woman," Isao-sama frowned. Grabbing his sleeve, he threw him behind and stepped unnervingly close to Orochi. Leaning down, he looked into his dilated eyes. "You weren't found by his men, were you?"
"I am a man of many masks." He grinned maliciously. "They took a young woman 5 days ago from Marunouchi ni-chōme, Domino to Nagoya. Her name wasn't included. They say she couldn't pay and surrendered."
Isao-sama turned to stare at his nephew. Takeo was blindly glaring at the shadowed floor. He knew what his nephew was thinking, because he was thinking the same. Isao-sama returned to Orochi. "And?"
"Whether she lives or dies, wasn't provided." Orochi folded his tattooed hands. "Remember," He added with severe omen, "Going after someone who was taken is death itself. Women are not cared for, she is young and may not last. The beastly business means no return. She'd have to die to get away from their clutches. I'm only giving you a warning. The news you never heard from me." Orochi rose to his feet, beckoning to his guard, he slid against the wall. "I'll leave first. Wait and leave separately."
He was gone through the shadows within seconds. Takeo was left staring at the blackness in idle wonder. He collapsed on the floor heavily. "Now what?" He groaned.
Isao-sama turned and strode toward the opposite exit from where Takeo was dragged. "There is a way to know if it is she…" He murmured.
"We can't leave yet!" Takeo cried. "He said to wait."
"For what?" Isao-sama scowled. "We'd be attacked if we wait."
Takeo followed him out of the broken apartment. They walked through the narrow alleys and steep roads in silence. Out of breath, Takeo gasped. "Where are we going?"
"To check if she left her car." Isao-sama walked briskly in the cold.
"She was last." His lip curled. "If it is she, her car will be parked at the warehouse."
Takeo processed the agenda and reached in his pocket. Isao-sama whipped his head. "What are you doing?" He demanded.
"Calling someone to check on—"
"Don't." He forbade. "The less people involved, the safer. Walk faster."
They reached the site 40 minutes later where a broken streetlight shimmered over the gloomy warehouse. There weren't men prowling, the doors and windows appeared locked. Waiting in stony silence in the abandoned path, the two warily watched from across the street.
"I don't see it." Whispered Takeo.
"They are not dumb." Replied his uncle, "They must've hid it somewhere inside, dumped it in the water, crashed, or burned it …Damn!" He sliced angrily.
"They never intended to bring her back." Takeo swallowed the lump in his throat. "To think, she went and surrendered her self! Sounds too desperate to be Euneya."
"We will never know what possessed her. Once I see her I'll—"
Takeo knew where this was going and smirked. "Give a spectacle of fatherly affection, I'm sure."
"Keep her under lock and key—uh, well said, uh, Takeo."
The empty parking lot swam in slithering, snapping shadows. Broken lights were useful for culprit warehouses. It allowed vigilance from the inside, not for an onlooker. Takeo squatted and laced his boots. The plan was simple. Move along the fences and reach the back of the warehouse, somewhere back there, clues could be found. Takeo would stay outside and wait for a signal. Isao-sama would head inside.
"What if it isn't her?" Takeo wondered. "But someone else?"
"We can't be picking up the wrong trail." His uncle snarled in unusual abhorrence. "That senseless girl—making me feel older doing these nightly investigations. I should be home watching tv, flossing—doing senile things! Tomorrow, drive to Nagoya and search warehouses like these. Look into underground—um," Isao-sama frowned at his nephew, face flushed. "Guess you're not young anymore, you are a man after all…"
"Clubs?" Takeo supplied.
"….Em. And look into those… those—em…"
His brows curled increasingly, Isao-sama averted. "…Make sure not to miss names. Meet the women—um, professionally you understand? Some of them might know or hear about Euneya."
"Will do." Takeo nodded, climbing up the fence.
Isao-sama grabbed his arm. "Don't tell Minori about—about—"
"I won't." Takeo flipped his legs over the fence and descended. Isao-sama took longer and swiftly landed on his feet.
The back was sealed shut. The doors required an automatic appendage to unlock. Takeo noted a dock 19 yards from the location harboring 3 dark vessels bouncing in the water. He was alertly approaching the wooden shelter covering the vessels. The yachts were secluded under a coat to protect from the rain. Wind bristled the tarp and water. The wood shuddered under his footsteps. He bent down to tug open the covering of a red vessel. He inspected the basin and the deck. The second yacht was larger.
Isao-sama circulated the back door. A wired gate appeared leading to a narrow path and a hidden door. He hopped over the wire and neared the flimsy looking brown door. Two smoky windows offered a corner view of the room entrance. He peered for a good seconds and shifted the door lock. The contraption was the traditional lock. He knelt on the floor in search of a mechanism to wrench the metal open. A stone and stick wasn't sufficient however he slammed for it effect and waited. The door wobbled at his kicks. He turned through the narrow side bridged against a wall of windows and broken tires. The tires were perfect to conceal the happenings inside. Sliding against the black disks, he felt his back scar as it grinded against an iron sledge.
The tight tube space had room for one person. If he went back, the scar would dig deeper, continuing was the only rational formulation, despite, wasn't appropriate. Isao-sama winced at the piercing sledge ripping through his jacket and shirt. He fingered the windows with wet palms, searching for a bolt to unlock. The rusted sills dripped with wet grease. His fingers slid away persistently.
Lifting his head up, he saw a window creaked open at the top. Climbing wasn't possible; he needed a ledge or a grip to maintain himself. Isao-sama stuck his foot through a tire and pushed himself up. His weight wracked the tires, stiffening himself, he grabbed a hold of the open window and groped through the empty air, fingers slashing over the rusted lock. Tongue in cheek, he traced the rigid handle and pushed it down. Rustled creaking of the bolt opening sounded. He breathed fast and forced his right arm with more pressure. The bottom window tipped against his cheek.
He was shaking as he lowered himself back down. Drawing the window, Isao-sama shifted to the side and pulled himself up, pushing his weight on the unstable tires. He had to move fast or the iron gripping his back tickled unnecessary blood. The ripping of his jacket was a swift indication of his fluid movement, shooting himself up. He propelled himself on the glass, legs in midair and swung his body through the opening.
He landed from a feet, the wooden table broke his fall. Gripping his side, Isao-sama rolled off the table and steadily stood. The dark room loomed with a revolting stench. Shoving his hand up to feel his way around, he ran into a motor machine on the floor. With an exasperated cry, he opened his cell phone and used the light to make his way through the dark.
The occupants didn't leave a name, important documents on the table. The stationeries weren't named. Beer bottles stacked against the wall. Orochi mentioned they were
He came running just as he closed the back door.
"Let's go. Let's go!" Takeo gasped, horrified.
"Why?" Isao-sama regarded him critically, feeling his chest tighten. "What did you find?"
"No—no… Let's go!" Takeo made his way toward the fences and began climbing. Old age must've been his reason for complying because he waited patiently for Takeo to elaborate on his findings. His words were chocked, drenched with scraping memory, whatever he saw bit in his rationality and verbal function, making him spasm every few minutes in the car. He was so petrified he couldn't drive.
Once acquainted with facts, Isao-sama decided to go to the police to report the dead body. They returned to the orphanage at 4:30 am. Like he predicted, Gorou-san was waiting for them in the courtyard, and like he predicted, demanded with unknown ferocity why it took them long to return. A white figure shadowed the doorway and a soft yawn turned all eyes on the slender shape.
Gorou-san clenched his teeth. Isao-sama couldn't believe what he was seeing. "Why are you still here?" He screamed. "Go home!"
Serenity stretched her arms and smiled. "I was looking out for you. Gorou-san wouldn't let me stand outside with him." She gave him a pout.
Gorou-san turned away, "What happened? I knew something went wrong, why are you late?" His daunting gaze fell on Takeo's pale face. "It is—bad?" He croaked. "Is she—dead?"
"Before we further comment, lets go inside." Isao-sama tactfully started, "Serenity, go hom—never mind, while you're here get the tea ready and prepare a room for Takeo, he'll be staying the night—oh, it's morning. Gorou, stop breathing on his face, he is perfectly fine! Merely an unexpected—scenery—made him this way. Get me a chair, I need to disinfect the cut on my back."
They gathered in his office. Serenity poured tea, Gorou-san glared from the door. Takeo was paralyzed in the couch. Eyes downcast, arms folded around himself. One would have thought he was just scolded for stealing cookies. Isao-sama was slapping iodine on the cut. He grumbled and fussed for a few minutes, until Serenity obliged and neatly bandaged it for him.
"Ah, thank you, Serenity." Isao-sama relaxed but restrained from leaning in his chair, as was his habit.
Serenity beamed, her large olive eyes strayed to Takeo on the couch. She gave him tea but he didn't realize she was standing in front of him.
"I think he needs something stronger." Remarked Isao-sama with a frown.
Gorou-san's scowl disappeared. "I—I'll be right back." He opened the door and left the room. Minutes later he returned carrying a bottle and poured white crystal contents in a glass before offering it to Takeo.
It had a better affect on him. Takeo actually noticed the glass and accepted it graciously.
"I hope you aren't angry." Gorou-san said, "Sometimes I need—"
"Hai, no better occasion to imbibe—do keep it away from the children." Isao-sama quietly requested.
Gorou-san nodded and returned to his former location at guarding the door. "Give us the details. What happened?"
Isao-sama stared at Serenity. Flushed, she was happily sitting beside Takeo, olive eyes moving on faces with a delicious smile on her soft lips, which now lowered, into a grudging frown. "I'm safe! I promise not to tell—!"
"It's not that I don't trust you Serenity, but the theme is not suitable for your ears."
"Like what? Guns? Sex? Drugs?" Serenity rolled her eyes. "I'm not a kid."
"That's your ignorance reacting to the elitism of youth," Snapped Isao-sama. Gorou-san muttered ardently under his breath. Isao-sama's eyes swam toward him. "I agree. Nothing makes a woman less attractive than callous snobbery. Serenity—"
"I'm not a snob." She cried, unconsciously sounding similar to her brother, " 'Nuff 'bout me. Where is Euneya? Did you meet the guy who works with them? Takeo?" Her impassioned olive eyes focused on his indecisive face.
"I-I—We—I don't—Her—" He stuttered and gulped the wine raptly.
Serenity sat erect in realization and began bullying him. "TALK! TALK! What did you see? Euneya? COME ON!"
"Give him a few minutes." The annoyed order came from the door. Gorou-san turned to the director. She frowned at him and kept quiet.
Takeo put his empty glass forward, waiting to be filled. Serenity darted and poured him another. His vocal cords were high pitched and his eyes were black with fear. "It is she!" Takeo swallowed the wine. "I saw it!" He exclaimed. "They totaled her car, stashed a dead body inside and took her."
"Took her where?" Serenity demanded, her nails digging in his arm.
"Nagoya." Takeo wiped his perspiring face. "I need to get there and search warehouses like the one we went to."
"No address?" Gorou-san glared, "That bastard was no help after all! Did he squabble and bark to waste time instead of giving answers?"
"Finding one woman is hazardous." Isao-sama countered. "Questions will stand why her? If he is under the impression she is worth mountainous, he will want to keep her for himself or pawn her for something else—in this case, drugs or weapons. Best we are discreet."
"Keep her for himself…" The monopolized meaning of 'he, him' wasn't overlooked by Serenity. She looked up at Isao-sama. "Are you saying she is in some—whorehouse?"
"Don't jump to—"
"No doubt." Takeo's brief reply cut his uncle's, who sat back and hissed for applying pressure on his cut.
Serenity glared at the floor, hands clenched. "That motherfucking asshole!" She shrieked. "Whoever he is, I hope he gets shot somewhere and dies slowly! Making her a prostitute? Forcing her to—to—" She didn't have the energy to continue and bit down on her lip.
"Calm down," Isao-sama persuaded. "See, I knew she'd act up! Never listens to me! Stop crying!"
"I'm not crying!" She shrieked, tears streaming from the corner of her eyes. "I don't know what's going on! How we can get her back! And what is she doing right now—someone can be doing stuff to her right now and all we can do is sit and answer questions!"
There was still some wine left in Takeo's glass as he handed it to her. Serenity declined and rubbed her arms to comfort herself.
Her questions turned the room gloomy. Gorou-san didn't move from the door and kept his gaze pinned on the floor in guilt. Takeo sorrowfully sighed and rubbed his tired eyes. Isao-sama rested his chin on his hand and pondered. For a long time, no one moved or said anything.
Serenity shot up, eyes clear, "I'm going to tell my friends." Her eyes settled on Gorou-san.
He narrowed his eyes and looked away. Isao-sama slammed his palm on the desk. The booming noise made her jump on her heels and focus on him instead. "At least they will know where she is. I won't tell them…what kinds of stuff she is susceptible to," Her face winced to silent a pained cry. Face lowered, she pushed past Gorou-san and hurried out.
The door clicked shut. Gorou-san waited 30 seconds for her footsteps to die in the hall and promptly asked, "Whose body was it?"
"One of their men." Isao-sama stoically replied.
"He was shot." Takeo said softly. "Arms and legs tied. And they left him to rot in her car. How sick can they get? If they treat their own men this way… What about-" He met Isao-sama's eyes and discontinued the thought, "I'm going to Nagoya." He stood up.
"Let me come with you." Gorou-san approached. Face strained and eyes dilated, his body in a combative stance if Takeo refused. He had been staying listlessly at the orphanage unable to be of potent help. It was no question why he volunteered. She was dear to him as a sister.
"Don't be rash, Gorou," Thundered Isao-sama disapprovingly. "I need you here."
"You won't need me if I do something reckless, locked here, not trying!" Gorou-san said.
Isao-sama glared, "Aren't you being reckless this very second?"
"He will need me. Searching the city can take months! By then, it'll be too late."
"Oji-san." Hardly he employed the term, Takeo nodded peacefully, "I can use his help."
He lingered, indecisively running his eyes on them. He didn't know why he was acting stubborn. Yet it was better they went together than Takeo, dangerously alone. Obviously, he lost the discussion. "Alright, go."
Hiro was a complaisant subject. Under Katsu's supervision, he attached to Kaiba's strict schedule between work and 'home'. He didn't literally stay at the Kaiba mansion. Currently a penthouse was his abode in the metropolitan area overlooking the sweeping valley and ocean. He was heinously courteous and shy. His decorum had to be reinvented to mimic and suit Kaiba's outward character. Sometimes he was allowed to follow the supreme executive for thorough study. He learned Kaiba never drank orange juice, coffee dominated his diet; the placement of his fork on the table was European, he titled it inwards not out. He spoke several different languages, particularly fluent in English, Cantonese and Korean from frequent visits to the neighboring countries, but he was an apt student of German at a younger age. He hated aphorisms too.
Blue was his signature color. His façade was the White Dragon, as many of his possessions were modeled after the beast. Trench coats, dark colors were particularly calming and favored than bright yellow, red, and orange. When he thought about it, it suited the executive's dark nature explicitly. He was skeptical of ties or cravats. He loved challenges and spoke in perpetual complaisance. Kaiba's young brother, Mokuba needed to be contacted every 3 days or the young sibling would flutter in panic thinking he had gone overseas without informing. He was not sociable and limited it from his lifestyle for its idleness. Meetings, work, little brother, and home.
Hiro tipped his head toward Katsu. He was standing by the window of the penthouse in deep thought, or worrying about his superior, Hiro figured.
"No girlfriends?" He interrupted the man's thoughts.
Katsu's tensed expression relaxed. "I was asked to omit the information from the itinerary."
Hiro was easy to please, he laughed softly. "Oh, I see…" He smiled. "He wants to keep it private, no worries."
If Katsu provided the true answer, that appointing Hiro as double was solely for helping the woman his superior longed, Hiro's confusion would subside and humbleness would take over. He would pretend to be Kaiba for life so long as the woman was helped and the perilous task put behind. Katsu stared back out the window limply. Hiro was a good-hearted person with a caring personality Katsu felt odd to be around with, working for Kaiba no one expects to be treated with concern. Hiro's gentleness was a subtle reminder of the unfeeling conditions Kaiba lived by. Many times, he heard his comrades remark Kaiba's dispassionate demeanor was forced on him since his adoption by an inhumane man, were he alive, Katsu knew his current condition would be worse in the company. Kaiba remained the same after his stepfather's death.
As Katsu looked toward the young man in the living room, sitting and smiling hopefully at the paper in his hand, he wondered if his superior never met his stepfather, the man who turned him cold, would he be the same as Hiro?
Hiro looked up, electric blue eyes twinkling, his light lips smiling wide. "I can try the clothes to see if they fit. Do you want to see?" Earnest interest wounded his young, handsome face.
Katsu wondered what kind of trick the kami's played in his lifetime. How can two very different people, look astoundingly alike.
"Ha-hai." He slowly responded.
Hiro put away the paper and went off to change his clothes. He was learning Kaiba's routine quickly. After calling home to inform his family on his whereabouts, he wished his twin sister happy birthday, and listened to his mother obediently 'not to trust stranger's easily.' Hiro assured he was in good hands and would work hard. The call ended and he looked upset. An hour later, he said to Katsu that whatever it would take, he wanted to help.
Katsu also promised he was safe and would be cared for during his stay.
A tall figure opened the door and walked in the room. Coat clad, slacks, and dark polished shoes—he was unreasonably lost in his thoughts, unprepared, Katsu bowed hurriedly. "Kaiba-sama, how was your—" He stopped as the noiseless shoes stood in front of a mirror.
Hiro was fixing the lapels of the coat, "How does he—keep them in place?" He grunted, tying a strap on his arm. The unruly lapel hung off his forearm.
Katsu took the lapels and tied them together. "No expression. Stay alert. Proper posture." He reminded.
Hiro straightened his back and scowled at his reflection. The brilliance of his blue eyes was lighter and lively than Kaiba's.
"Feel angry." Katsu supplied.
The dark brows deepened and the angry flush stained his fair cheeks. His long chin quivered and his eyes darkened considerably. Katsu gasped with a backward jump.
Hiro turned and blinked, "What's wrong?" He asked, taking Katsu's arm.
"No big deal." Katsu weakly murmured. "You're doing great. Now," He cleared his throat, pointing at the mirror again, "Try again."
Hiro quickly returned to the mirror. Turbulent thoughts engaged his features into dark, dangerous tones. He was still strikingly handsome but with impending acidity often habited by Kaiba.
"You can't speak a word." Katsu pulled a comb from his pocket and tugged the chestnut strands over Hiro's forehead. "This has to be impeccable. Kaiba-sama wants perfection."
"Hai," Blue eyes stared at the man several inches shorter, Hiro smiled appreciatively. "I understand, Katsu."
Katsu blinked twice. "No! No smiling. Don't look at me gently—be fierce. Be mean!"
"Hai!" Hiro glared at his reflection. "Be mean… Be fierce…" He chanted under his breath.
Katsu was leaving the penthouse when he received a disturbing call from one of his comrades. He feared it was his superior in trouble at the black market. He considered the consequences if Kaiba's identity was found. Kaiba Corp. would be in danger and Mokuba would have step forward, a risky situation. The news he received was actually worse.
One of the guards informed him Kaiba was at a meeting. Katsu rushed to the company. He wasn't judicious for strutting in the board meeting, alarmed and uncontrolled. He wasn't pleased with himself. The look Kaiba gave said he wasn't either. The board saddled against their seats at the interruption, spinning heads in his direction as he swept toward his superior.
Katsu covered his mouth to whisper in Kaiba's ear. There was no transformation in his composed expression. He didn't know why he thought differently. Katsu bowed and returned back to the door.
"Yammamoto, continue." Kaiba ordered the assistant.
Every one decided to ignore the disruption and turned their attention to the man in the gray suit.
Katsu couldn't stand quietly outside the boardroom. He sent out urgent calls to his comrades, thanked them for the speedy information. A second later, he asked Tsuneo to bring the limo to the front of Kaiba Corp. Fifteen minutes later, a stream of workers passed him, Kaiba lastly sauntered from the boardroom. His eyes indistinctly misty with unease, long legs kept him steadily walking to the elevator. Hands clenched the briefcase at his side. Katsu tried not to comment that the grip was making his hands white from lack of circulation.
"How long ago?" Kaiba slithered unemotionally, standing stiff in the lift.
"Early morning." Katsu answered. "The body was recovered in her vehicle."
The junk she used to sit in, grinning behind the wheels and always rebuking him for depreciating her 'first car.' She was unforgivably sentimental. Hell… If she weren't strong for her own sake he'd turn sentimental and do something hysterical. Through the lobby, he walked in a daze. Tsuneo stationed the limo at the entrance.
"I called him." Katsu said, running to open the passenger door, "Please, hurry and check your self."
Check to see if she is dead.
No. He didn't want to.
Yet he threw the briefcase inside and entered. The limo glided away from the parking lot and escaped in the traffic. He found he couldn't sit still. His chest was thumbing with an abnormal echo, he couldn't hear himself breath. He was swinging above lava with a rope to hold for dear life, tightening aggressively around his stomach until the clamping pressure made him insensate.
He arrived at the morgue and went inside alone. He didn't know why he took the briefcase with him; his fists needed a distraction from clenching his own throat. His eyes shimmered against the hallway light. A gray haired wrinkled woman told him to proceed to the left door. He didn't thank her, not many people would thank her anyway in such a place.
Past the door was another hall. At the end was a receptionist. The aged woman appeared again. She told him to go through a white door this time.
This was where it happened… Kaiba looked back at the white door for the first time. The man standing on the other side was unfeeling and cynical. Gozaburo's puppet. He stared down at himself. Long coat, leather, slowly, he dropped the briefcase. Clasping the chain under his shirt, he breathed and listened to his thumping feral heartbeat… And felt free. This was the man his birth mother wanted him to be. He was Seto not Kaiba.
He turned, and followed the hall, stopping at another white glass door. Someone was inside. Kaiba entered the room. The man was older with white leathery skin. His lab coat informed he was the person Kaiba needed permission from. The man gestured to the tray covering a body.
At first, he was inclined to answer questions. Resolutely, he made his way to the corpse. Something shifted from the corner of his eye. The sheet rippled under his touch. He lowered his hand and stared at the white cover emptily. A relief engulfing his soul, just standing near the corpse, he knew. It wasn't Euneya. A large tattooed hand lay on the opposite side of the tray. A masculine hand. His heart sprang back to life.
She was still somewhere.
Originally, Katsu let his fear take control of the matter. Upon identifying the body, he was relieved to hear it wasn't what he thought, but another part of him wished it would be over already. No more dealing with illegal drug dealers and gang members. The every day spiel of increasing opponents against the underground network and the rivaling associations continued to swamp.
Kaiba was tied on both ends. If Katsu knew better, he believed his superior was at an advantage and equally disadvantage. Indubitably the results were life threatening. Symptoms of a worrywart was inapt for a guard, his superior thought so too. Nonetheless he was the sole person in the league conscious of what Kaiba plotted, whom he plotted against, where, and how he would get around it eventually. The kami's were responsible for him after Hiro took his place in the company.
Katsu hoped nothing went wrong at the office while Kaiba was away.
Kaiba slammed the limo door. Tsuneo watched him stop at the entrance, examining the melancholia of the orphanage that at one time looped with energy and laughter. The rain stopped an hour ago. He felt the cold water dribble against the back of his neck. Kaiba exchanged his shoes for the clogs and entered the front room. White curtains swiveled from the fan, a sleeping form lay on the floor. The shoji screen was open. He walked around the sleeping kids, and strode into the hallway toward Isao-sama's office.
The director was in his office scribbling over a document. The wood creaked under his clog. He looked up, stiffened, and flung his pen on the desk.
"About time you showed up." Isao-sama grunted, formalities cumbersome, it wasn't like Kaiba cared. He knew what brought the young executive to his region. "You saw the body did you? And the car?"
Kaiba didn't sit and Isao-sama didn't ask. "They are discernable with tattoos, a green dragon is their signature. Have you any useful information?"
Isao-sama kept himself from leaning back in the chair. He sighed and shook his head. "Are you implying I'm somehow connected with the—dealers? I'll be frank." Isao-sama leaned forward. "I have an acquaintance. We grew up together and parted ways. Recently he was around men who took Euneya and I figured he'd come of use to me in my search."
From his long coat, Kaiba stretched out a hand and tossed a folder on the desk. "His criminal record. Orochi was found dead this morning at the Domino pier. You filed the first dead body to the police. Orochi's death can be tracked to you. Leave the orphanage to my company."
Isao-sama shot up from the chair. "Leave?" He exclaimed. "Now!"
His eyes glared frostily and his words lashed with succinct bitterness. "If you want to live, take your family too."
Isao-sama grasped the folder. The documents trembled from his unsteady grip. He dropped it on the desk and hovered above the wood. "Unbelievable… It's worse than I realized! Did you plan to give me a heart attack?"
"After today, K.C's reinforcements will patrol the orphanage." Nonchalantly, Kaiba informed.
"I am Minorou's Director, how can I leave? Don't be ridiculous!"
"For your safety and the orphanage, you have no say." He said calmly.
Isao-sama regarded him steadily, he growled. "Damn it, don't tell me you are already involved with them! You're committing suicide!"
Kaiba smirked, "Too extreme is it…"
"Yes…" The director looked at him strangely. "Are you concealing something I ought to know? Hand it over, we're meddling with criminals—not your average thieves and killers—they are a pessimist coterie who stretch across borders and with Euneya involved, you can't tell me to run away like a wimp! Now or never. Don't glare at me, I have deep respect for you but I am your senior, would you run away at this time? I don't think so."
He was wagging his finger at Kaiba as if berating one of the orphanage children. "I'll manage my family and get them from Domino. Thank you for the offer for protecting the orphanage, I will need it. The children can't be put to risk. I knew you were snooping around ever since Yukio interrogated you, and to my apprehension, you're using your business skills to break into the black market and gamble your life to find where they're keeping her. Is it your poor judgment or are you foolish to think they won't notice someone with a prolific background in their columns?
"Granted I'm not agile as I was once, but I've procured quantity information of their networks. What kinds of drugs, which ports, their difference in commerce is sadistic—you know it too, don't you—selling women, men, homes for drugs and weapons is common. They localize in filthy districts all over Japan. I was waiting for you to come here and tackle me for answers but you've got imprudent ideas up your sleeve! And I'll be damned if I don't stop—eh warn you—while I can!"
Isao-sama approached Kaiba, glaring in consternation. "You've done your research, so have I. But you don't know where Euneya is at this point. I do."
"Naturally I'm never impressed. I'm still not." Kaiba spat, "I hate tirades."
"Most men do."
"Where is she?"
"Some where in Nagoya." Isao-sama folded his arms. "Takeo and Gorou breached the city 2 hours ago. They're searching secretly—where are you going? I'm not done!"
Kaiba continued through the hallway. Isao-sama stumbled after him.
"I have an appointment."
"With? The illegal dealers?" Isao-sama assumed. "You're being foolish!" He hissed angrily. "No woman is worth losing your lifetime of work over! Think of your company—your brother."
"He will push me to find her and risk being leverage until I do."
"Your whole family is nuts!" Isao-sama shouted. "Think before you act, Kaiba-sama. You don't know how treacherous the underworld is! They won't hesitate to kill you."
"Neither will I." Kaiba descended the stairs of the porch. Removing the clogs he adorned his shoes.
"I've warned you." Isao-sama relented. "I can keep going…"
"No need." Kaiba slurred over his shoulder.
"What do you plan to do?" He asked anxiously.
Kaiba looked him over. "Didn't you have investigative methods? You knew why I came today."
Isao-sama bowed his head, shoulders sagging, "It is a matter of apprehensive doubt, Kaiba-sama, I only want to know how you intend to locate Euneya? Even your high-tech security can't surpass the underworld forces."
"That's why I'm going alone." Kaiba strode to the limo.
Isao-sama darted, "Nan—if you do—why do you insist on doing what'll make you lose respect!" He shrieked. "You can't find her alone, I thought you'd use other form of—" He scowled and bit down on his lip. "Hmm."
Tsuneo opened the passenger door. Kaiba stepped inside and ducked his head. The door sealed him in as Tsuneo turned and bowed to the director. He went to the driver's door and sat inside.
Isao-sama regarded the limo in the distance. He turned to review the orphanage contemplatively. Kaiba hadn't given him secure details of his form of breach—he was now in the black market with dozens of culprits and businessmen, the underground was free access to him, if implemented wisely, he can find Euneya within the next… Isao-sama frowned darkly. Kaiba wasn't experienced. He was fooling himself if he thought everything would proceed accordingly. He needed 9 lives to bring Euneya back, safe. Unfortunately, he didn't have even 1 to spare.
I passed my final exam and ranked in the top 3! I wanted to share the good news with you and Big Bro first! :) Didn't think I'd make it this high but I did and it feels great! I tried calling you but your phone is off… another one of Big Bro's habits, he ignores my calls, sometimes doesn't pay me attention when on the phone hmm… wonder what's going on?
Are you mad at each other? You better not! Come visit me soon! There are lots of things to do here! Big Brother and I used to live here with our real parent's; I'm surprised I still remember some of the places we went—brings back lots of happy memories. Oh yea, if you're coming, drive safely. The fall weather is nuts! We were supposed to light fireworks and decorate the halls at school for the Hanabi Festival. Usually around this time we don't have classes but the festivities was canceled. The firework competition in Tokyo was delayed until the weather gets better.
Nee-san it's no fun when I don't hear from you. What's going on at the orphanage? How is Lulina? Still remember me? Jin and I went downtown last weekend. He likes the city and eats 4 cups of ramen a day. Recently he complains for not being able to do anything and wants to go home. Can you try convincing Big Bro to take him back? He keeps getting restless stuck in the apartment all month. Can't blame him… I'm at school with friends, and he has no one :( Big Bro can tone it down with the PBG.
I miss you guys as usual… Call me soon!
1-½ weeks later…
"You had better return…" Takeo firmly covered the coffee with the lid and handed Gorou before sipping the warm substance from his own, wistfully he stared at the setting sun splashing on the building and narrow streets of Nagoya.
"Cho will be fine," Gorou whispered after a silent moment. "She is used to it by now."
"Somehow I don't believe you," Takeo murmured, eyes distant, "Don't neglect your daughter. She wants you home."
Patriarchal duties were foremost, Gorou was aware. He was torn however. Helping Takeo search warehouses was harder than it seemed. He didn't expect the debt collectors to be heavily guarded. Their associations wandered far more grounded securities. Inciting fear from countless of them, no one dared to divulge their secret locations and feigned ignorance. He was irked at first. Euneya seemed lost to them forever. Takeo wouldn't give up, it was a good sign; one of them was determined to drag one part of her back home to Isao-sama, ill and alone in Domino. He couldn't leave Takeo alone. Cho wanted him home. She missed him.
"Go." Takeo insisted with a soft nudge. "I can take of myself here."
"Are you sure?" Gorou examined him concernedly.
Walking through paralyzing traps and gang related violence drew them closer. They were able to estimate each other's endurance. If Takeo couldn't carry on, Gorou would take over searching. Each learned each other's weaknesses and strengths, formulating better strategies to track Ruiji's moving men. There were numerous clubs in Nagoya. Euneya can be in any one of them. Before they visited each one, they needed to be certain which were the perfect joint and the perfect time when the gang would be around with Euneya. With that in mind, they were limited to search nightclubs after 12 am. The brothels were of nuisance. None of the women knew anyone with Euneya's description.
"I'll call for help." Takeo assured, recognizing the anxiety threading in Gorou's solemn and widened features. His lips were strained, sagging downward and his eyes wide, raking the street and cars passing by from habit. A week of hunting, living secretly and scrounging for information, they located 3 men who claimed to be connected to Ruiji's group.
The three men hadn't a clue a woman like Euneya existed. Gorou supposed it was their intoxication devaluing their intelligence. Takeo insisted on following them, he tracked them for 2 days. Frequent visits to the coffee shop, brothels consisted of their daily schedule. Gorou knew, the moment he left Takeo would follow the men again despite dangers. He was reluctant for more reasons than leaving Takeo by himself. What if more men learned they were searching for a woman? They would be targeted. If he returned to Domino, with Ruiji's men tailing him, he'd endanger the orphanage, Isao-sama and Cho. Over all, Gorou did not want to risk something of the sort. The atrocious men they dealt with had no conscience. What about Euneya? She must be suffering worst—another reason why he couldn't bear to turn his back.
"I'll be careful. You do the same." Takeo advised with a glare.
"Last night was pitiful." Gorou recalled in disapproval.
"We can avoid it in the future." Takeo confidently nodded. He looked wiser than he ever. Brown eyes sullen but glowing with security Gorou hadn't seen before. Neither of them acquired relevant hours of sleep within the week. They were always alert, sitting by the door of the hotel, waiting for incongruous business. Unfortunately there weren't any.
Their visit to Black Ladder was horrible to say the least. Takeo didn't incline on drinking. He was firm but notorious with finding information from others without giving away reasons. A skill, Gorou admired and wished to acquire with practice. He let Takeo do most of the talking around the club. The women kept tossing themselves at them, some wildly raving for intercourse and absurd things Gorou wasn't prepared to go into detail. Their inquisition sparked interest in one of the men with a sea of women in the booths. He invited them and gave them drinks, enjoying their leisure conversation.
"What brings you to town?" Said the dark eyed man.
"Came to see the amenities." Takeo smirked at a woman, and pretended to drink the alcohol. "We like it a lot. But… are these the kind of women you have?"
The man's laughter resembled a maraca. "Aa, aa, aa… Don't like what you see? Desires fall deeper than the surface. Don't let your eyes betray you."
Gorou observed the women intently over his drink. "Know any brothels in the area? Where they have…younger tastes?" He grinned.
"Younger…" The man stroked his chin. "I do, I do." He provided an address to a club and was happily tackled by an intoxicated woman. Whom, he engulfed in his arms and delicately whispered in her ear, she grinned and giggled, resting her head on his shoulder. Her long arms and legs were pale in the smoky light. Brown hair and… Gorou stiffened. Takeo saw it too.
"Not too far…" Takeo worded, eyes on the swooning woman. He wasn't supposed to be transparent but desperately finished his drink, even though he hadn't meant to as he later explained Gorou.
The man was quick to notice hints, his grip around her tiny waist clenched, teeth bared, he said. "You have high taste. Tell you what, I'll have someone escort you comfortably." The offer was speculative enough. He didn't want a scene and without complaints, agreed. Takeo groomed himself before standing up. Gorou complied silently and the two walked out of the booth. He wrenched her shoulder, forcing her face toward them. Takeo's footsteps slowed noticeably. Gorou was already watching the man.
She was half European and Japanese, eyes of soft blue and rounder around the chest. Her arms were tied against his neck, blushing from his words in her ear. The man looked up and waved.
Gorou felt his back prickle at the motion. He turned around and the army surged. Takeo backed away, grabbing his arm in the process and staggered toward the exit. They leapt from the booths, armed. One robed man snatched Gorou by the collar and threw him across the floor. Takeo quickly shook off two men and shoved the wrestling man on top of Gorou. A gunshot fired.
Gorou punched him across the face. He reached Takeo's side that was brushing off the blood from the unconscious man he stopped seconds from poisoning the bullet in Gorou.
"It's a trap!" Gorou cried hysterically. "A trap! The bastard knew we-"
Takeo was running toward the exit before he finished. There were several men waiting for them. He halted suddenly. Gorou clenched his fists and glared.
"Go along." Takeo whispered.
"Are you crazy? You want to die?" Gorou snapped, shielding Takeo.
"We can't do much." Takeo hissed brutally. He didn't linger another word as the men overcame them instantly. Takeo was knocked to his knees, seconds later he saw Gorou slam against the floor, cheek pressed. He was breathing hard and his eyes, wild with worry. Teeth clenched, Takeo let them tie their wrists. They were dragged through the back door and tossed in the alley where rats prowled. A hideously scarred man loaded his gun and pointed at them.
Gorou shifted his left foot from the tied position. The man stood over his head, planting the gun against his temple.
"We don't like intruders." He growled, Adams apple quivering. Two members stood guard at the door, watching until the job was done. "Let your friends see your corpses. They won't dare to come here." His finger slid on the trigger.
Takeo mumbled incoherently to himself. This attracted the man's interest and demanded a clarification.
"I said you're one hideous man."
The barrel hit the back of his head. Takeo groaned and twitched in pain.
"These scars are medals of honor!" Screamed the executioner. "I wear them proudly for the sacrifices I've given for my brothers!"
One of the men at the door indicated his watch. Distressfully looking up at the probing eyes above, Gorou froze, beside him Takeo's uneasy motions made the man glare and point the gun on him. He had only a minute before the bullet sired a corpse. Flipping his foot, he kicked the man's patella and furiously jumped up. The bullet tore a hole behind Takeo. Watching him solemnly, Takeo joined Gorou on his feet. The witnessing men blocked and grabbed them in place. Gorou swiveled to his side, shoving his captor staggering against the scarred man. The bullet pierced him in the abdomen. He sank to his knees.
It was a sloppy escape; neither had the chance to make amends as their pursuers leapt on their heels fleetingly. Twisting in their binds and racing for their life with the roaring scrape of shots falling at their ankles, they steered from the alley. A blue truck was parked across the dark street. Takeo ran toward the vehicle leaving Gorou to follow wordlessly. He climbed over the back and landed on his side. Gorou crept on the side and wound on the back of the truck.
The scarred man stopped across the street, glaring in the piercing dark of the street. He pointed at his companion to search as he headed the other direction.
Luck was on their team. They were able to free themselves using the loose bolt of the trunk and rip open the rope. The matter took unusually long but they were able to converse once their attackers were out of sight.
"What now?" Takeo barked. "We almost got killed."
"Long as we know," Gorou panted, "Euneya isn't here."
"Where is the other club he mentioned?"
"NO." Gorou glared warningly. "They expect us there, if we go, we risk getting caught."
Takeo leaned against the wall, titling his head back, he sighed aloud. "Man… That was insane." He gasped, "How long are we waiting?"
Gorou was peeking over the wall. He slid back down, temple resting on the cold texture. "Not yet. We knew something like tonight was bound to happen, Takeo. You saw that woman."
Takeo clenched his chest tightly. "Don't bring her up." He whispered in awe.
"But you saw what I did."
"What's not to see?" Takeo murmured solemnly, "For a second, I thought it was her, glad it wasn't. I don't like to think she is doing things with other…men. Tsk, it's the alcohol talking." He dismissed. "Yea, we should've seen that coming. He littered us with champagne, foolish words and coaxing women, I thought he was being nice. Stupid to think that, I know, don't tell me. But whatever answers I gave him seemed to feed him with suspicion. That's why he called on his men to attack."
"Not just your answers," Began Gorou quietly in the dark, "It was us. Our foreign conduct and well—my disinterest in verbal grasp and women—you did most of the talking."
"We'd have to find a better way. Become regulars or something."
Gorou nodded and turned away, eyes squinting. "We'll have to try it once." He murmured. "You know, going separately."
"Hell no!" Takeo spat.
"We won't go too deep. Get valuable information. Act natural. And get out. If we see her, even better… we'll meet up somewhere incase someone suspects either one of us and share what we learned."
"We don't have time." Gorou reminded.
"We aren't particularly armed, and I'm not skilled in self-defense like you." Takeo muttered.
Gorou glared. "Then sit here and be a coward." He shook his head apologetically. "I didn't mean that. You know how difficult it has been. I'm slow, still shocked she didn't tell me about her issues. Not to mention, we've been good friends for years, she'd come to me for advice whenever she encountered the collectors. Good thing I taught her Kenpō, she can protect herself."
"You don't know that…" Takeo's somber note raked chills down Gorou's arms and back. "Have you seen how rough the men are? Each weight more than 200 lbs, she can't possibly fight them off exclusively!"
They waited for 15 minutes and made their way back to the hotel safely. Cho called Gorou the next morning and asked him to come home.
A cool hand clenched his sleeve. He was startled by the firm grip but showed no symptoms of incredulity as he turned to regard the wrinkled face peering at him with half-lidded eyes and thin lips inked with alcohol and saliva. Sora chucked sleepily and pointed to the door. Kaiba removed his sleeve from the man's clench and opened the door. The threshold was flooded with guards and women of all shapes and sizes. 10 guards critically studied him and the women in their company. He had only to step aside for the crew to wander in the room and wound themselves in Sora's loving arms who was too absorbed with women to notice Kaiba's departure.
The guards nodded silently as he passed them toward the main entrance. A dark man opened the door with a swift bow. He moved freely past the bar and booths. The club was the finest in Nagoya. Sora coerced Kaiba to join him in Nagoya for god knew what reason. His presence alone made Kaiba's hair rise, as he had to continue the nonsense charade. Sora's presence was advantageous; he had the prowess of any consortium in the regions. There were many he was familiar with at his present affairs in Domino. 30% associates of K.C inundated the underworld clubs, businesses, and drug traffic. If any saw him… He had a notable face.
Kaiba loomed over the rail to eye the indistinct rustle of clothes and noise. He was fortunate no one knew him. There was a chilling spellbound spectacle on the corner room filled with gamblers. Putting the company he represented on line was common. Applying Sora's stocks and half of his own was mandatory.
He was against a notorious opponent. A hawkeyed man with silvery blue-black hair and tanned skinned, not a native as his Hangul accent penetrated his Japanese mumble. Kaiba moved toward the back doors on the level. The door was open with shadows dipping across the threshold. He moved the satin curtain and stood in a room immersed with gambling men. They didn't take him to regard with his common suit, black tie and disheveled hairstyle. Crossing the room, Kaiba dipped his hand next to the ashtray and lifted a packet of cigarette. He was fortunate when was red-lipped woman leaned forward from the couch to light it for him.
"Setting a wager?" She chuckled amicably at him.
"I have one in mind." Kaiba smirked. She slipped her hand on his arms and led him toward the table with a sway of her hips. Her presence alone was gratifying for the eyes as well as entertainment. All eyes hungrily followed her toward the table as she introduced Kaiba with a grin.
"Looks meaty to me. Lets see what he has boys." She gestured to someone. An anonymous face from the side added a chair for Kaiba. He sat regally with her falling on the armrest like an attachment to his body.
Hours of gambling suited his satisfaction. It was the amount one staked, whether profitable or not was another matter and his skills were not disadvantageous. His Korean opponent, alias named, Colère an extremely proficient gambler staked the highest bid of 48 billion yen, because he was prominent in the club he wasn't targeted. Kaiba knew he was risking more than Sora's and his own stocks, he was putting his life on the tip of the offender's blade. If any took regard to his disguise, he wouldn't live in the next 10 minutes. He played it safe.
A soft hand cupped his cheek. She beamed joyously. "Don't hold back…" Hot breath tickled his cheek. He smirked back and pushed another bid on the table.
Kaiba added another bid. Colère narrowed his eyes and sat immobile on the transversal side.
The dealer's eyes widened. He gaped at Colère, who hadn't looked away from Kaiba. The dealer nodded. "Altogether 50 Billion bid." He sternly announced.
Colère shifted, and placed his hand on the cards. The edges of his mouth lifted, he blinked once. Kaiba felt a shuddery sensation dispel into his stomach, making his bones shiver with the unearthly realization. In a second, Colère was on his feet and walked out.
"Our bidder has forfeited. Sir, would you like to continue?" The dealer questioned Kaiba.
The woman crooned in his ear. "Don't stop… See where your luck will take you!" She kissed his jaw line.
He couldn't move even if he tried. Kaiba beadily studied the bids in front of him. The crew of gamblers eyed him deviously. He didn't linger and nodded, an unknown patience letting him sink in the chair. The one of the right turned on his sleeve and glared at him snidely. Kaiba lifted the cigarette in salute and impishly tossed a card. His opponent's eyes flared impatiently. Egging him on was not part of the plan however he couldn't restrain himself. The man made another forceful bid, his pocket and account emptying by the hour. The door shifted open for three men in the room.
He didn't realize how misty the room transformed. The smoke burned his eyes as he looked up the elusive figures with mysterious names like his own. They were carrying women in their arms, as was respectable for any gambler and saddled the table. Kaiba glared at the men. He glanced away from the women once and back to the yen at stake.
Then it hit him.
Kaiba stiffened with maintained composure at the face diagonally at the table. His bones tickled and his body ached to move but the anxiety gravitated all reflexes. He was staring at a pair of brown-gold eyes through the heap of smoke. Watching him with an indignant grin, with slicked black hair and a cigar dripping lazily from his lips. His new opponent had taken over Colère's spot, posing as a new threat, one he couldn't risk.
Kaiba released his hand on the card and put his hand down. Discreetly, he detached himself from the woman and left the gambling den.
For a brief moment outside of the room, he thought he was being followed and managed into the sweeping crowds of dancers. With paranoia at its best, he lowered his legs to diminish his apparent height and strode past an open door on the side, up a scale of stairs and into a dark room. A hand brushed his arm, too soft and intoxicatingly slender to be masculine. He stilled, anxiety chilling his bloodstreams.
At the back of his mind, he chanted a final thought as he turned to look over his shoulder.
This was not supposed to happen.
He had meant to enter the gambling craze deftly, strike an interest with his fake money and leave. By the look in Colère's fearless eyes, he appeared interested. The face he found was not the dark skinned or aged, but youthful with fitting round eyes and supple glossy lips. Her dark hair fell voluptuously over small bare shoulders and her bodice was covered with a ripped shirt. She was not wearing the best pants—if any, he had to look away to avoid indecent thoughts.
She pulled his chin back, smirking languidly. "You look lost, need help?" Her voice was soft, a pitch above a whisper, clement in the thunderous club. Her ruby lips measured a sweet, sardonic smile with versatile expertise only a small handful of women effectuated. The humor in her eyes dimmed like a dying fire and her lips turned sullen, round eyes sturdily swept his face. Oddly, her expression switched to one of timorous, no longer a siren but a feeble girl lost from home.
She did look far away from home, Kaiba predicted. Her high cheekbones, flat nose and thin face were wedged with a recognizable heritage he figured was foreign. Obviously the club specifically kept arresting young women. This one had pale skin, full lips and growing hips with trains of dark hair, enthralling her beautiful youthfulness for men like him. Although a slight slip of tongue on the word 'help'—tasukete—her original Mongolian roots didn't fail to leave him thinking the various distances women were traded and toyed to satisfy lecherous men. He could only hold back the surge of anger impassioning his rigid body at the thought of Euneya.
Kaiba glared austerely, uttering one word. "Colère."
Dark brows shot up. "Huh?"
"Where is he?"
She made a move of her shoulders, the décolleté glided several inches lower. "I don't know, but I do know where he meets his women." The girl surveyed the hall and pointed at the end. "On the left corner is his private room. I can take you there if you want?"
He strode away from her. She grabbed his sleeve, pressing her bodice against his side to whisper. "Don't you want to know my name?"
Kaiba untangled his arm from the young girl without looking. "No." He was about to move but she pushed back and slithered on the ground.
"Ah!" Clutching her bruised elbow, she coiled herself in fettle position and whimpered.
The theatrical function went unwanted by Kaiba. He continued and made a fluid turn. A doorway encompassed the corner. He pushed the lock open to the neon colored room. Couches, tables, bar and bed, the commodities of luxury were available. Colère was an influential part of the club and the black market. He deserved the high amenities endowed with his league. Kaiba entered the room and stopped at the couch. He fingered the black table; an alcohol stained glass was left half drunk. Red lipstick. Kaiba pulled his hand back to his side.
The door whizzed open and a man stopped at the sight of him.
Colère's dark eyes flashed abhorrently. Quietly, he crossed the room toward the bar and filled himself a glass, "I'm not a conformist. What do you want?" Colère swigged the alcohol and poured himself another glass before turning to Kaiba and seated comfortably.
"You know me." Kaiba murmured.
Colère didn't seem fazed by the accusation. "Worried I might sell you out?" He smirked. "I knew you the moment you walked in the club with Sora. That gullible old fool." Colère chortled, "What designs are you planning on the club, no doubt, on us?"
"Give me a list of gamblers on the site." Kaiba watched him open the top buttons of his shirt. "I may help adventure more amenities to the market. My profession grants me unthinkable liberties in Domino."
"This being one, I assume?" Colère smirked. "Kaiba-sama, we are men, let us enjoy the dark side of the world. See what suits you. I promise you won't want to change back once you become part of us."
He wasn't stupid enough to admit his true intentions around the black market. Immaculately, Kaiba scanned the room. "I wanted to invest and came to test the venue, if it suits me…"
Colère was watching him darkly above the glass. "Does it suit you?" He whispered.
He feigned hesitance and averted. "I need more convincing sources than what I've seen tonight. My reasons for keeping my identity a secret is to protect the market itself, from the prying press and—all of Domino."
"Of course Seto Kaiba is Domino's diamond. If seen lurking here, imagine the distraught faces on the fans and—there are ways to silent to police." Colère held his stare for a long cryptic moment, and then said, "You don't need to worry yourself about the police. The ones we are worried about are investors like you and Sora, the senile will let anyone hold a gun to his head."
"What provoked your suspicions?" Kaiba calmly asked, he smirked wolfishly, "My interest doesn't last long unless tempted."
"Oh we have things that will tempt even you," Vowed Colère with a nod. "I met two schoolboys at the Black Ladder. Security was breached but they looked harmless. Their questions were something else."
Kaiba remained silent and waited for him to elaborate.
"They were interested in women, young women. Black Ladder has the youngest in the lot!" Colère rolled his eyes. "The idiots thought to fool me. They were looking for someone, a woman; no description but their raking eyes on Dhara was enough to suggest she fit the criteria. I had them shot, got away though. That ought to teach them a lesson to come again."
"Pestilent men searching for a woman."
"No, you say it too appreciatively. We can't make use of their race if they keep coming hunting for—women!" Colère spat with deep repugnance. "Allow me to take you another level you have never witnessed, ever." He stood and discarded the glass on the table with the half empty one from earlier. "Sora is busy tonight," Colère assumed, "He wouldn't do a fair job at showing you around. I'm not fond of empty promises. You must make an outstanding offer."
He was led from the private room into a secret hall known to members of the club. The region was not populous. Kaiba was distinctly aware of the different groups of men haunting the rooms. The women were modestly dressed and clipped to each gang member exclusively. What he treaded on was not the regular scandalous games of cigar, liquor and drug manifestations. These gang members were loan sharks. Armed, dealing with clients, some were precariously loud.
This is it. A voice chanted in his head. This is it. This is it.
He couldn't make sense of his whereabouts but the faces in the passing rooms weren't the one he sought. Inertly, Kaiba followed Colère into a black room flooded with tattooed, scarred men of the underworld. The army scrutinized him and waved him away due to Colère's presence. He vaguely recognized the green dragon on the arms of some. Kaiba clenched his fists in his pocket.
He was about ready to bolt out of the room and shove open each doors. To think, she was somewhere… in the rooms, here. Kaiba looked at the glaring eyes of a shark. He regarded Colère expectedly who shoved him with an elbow.
"Get out of my way!" Colère made an abrupt landing in a chair and folded his legs. "What do you think?" He gestured to Kaiba and pointed at a shark to give him a chair.
Once seated, Kaiba speculated the environment. On the right was a field of sharks gambling. Scarred individuals busily conversing in their robes took the left. Tables of money, drugs, and weapons were left to study, he briefly let himself do so and pretended to be fascinated by what Colère said.
"This is not even the heart of the business. Merely one of the corners the sharks bring their clients for final execution." Colère pointed to man with a tattooed face, "He is in charge of drug commerce from China. That one, in the middle with the knife, was one of my own workers in my company. He killed his uncle and ended up here working. Over there, the weapons can be exchanged; you can sell about anything worth value. And there—" He was staring at a train of young girls, wounded and unwashed. Colère slapped his lips, "They'll rot here and disperse in other clubs like many of em."
Colère greedily looked at Kaiba. "I know that look, wonder how the business functions?" He wasted no time and called one of the men. Seconds later a pellet was shipped at the door. Kaiba sat up at the large body of white. The fine grain of white powder did not deceive his eyes, clear like the sand.
"It's in everything." Colère chuckled, "The drinks, food, women." He nudged. "All you have to do is consume it. The largest value is 20 Billion, you can't gamble this outside of our corridors. If you do, shoot yourself before someone does."
Anzu leaned over and covered the cake with a napkin. She fell back on her side, fitting against his frame and sighed as her cheek rested against his collarbone. Searching the sky, she wondered aloud. "Do you think everything will be ok?"
Yugi folded his hand around her shoulder, bringing his chin against her brown hair, a slight smile in his amethyst eyes, he said. "I know it will."
It was well over a week. The only news was Euneya's car carrying a dead body, possibly one of the criminals who took her. Isao-sama was trying his best to narrow down her location, he sent his own nephew to investigate.
"I hope it ends soon." Anzu whispered against his shoulder. "We haven't been able to concentrate on us…"
Yugi blinked his sleepy eyes wide to peer at her solemn expression. Sheepishly, Anzu ducked his stare.
"We barely have a chance to ourselves. Jii-chan keeps pushing us. Euneya is gone—I know I should be more concerned, but I miss being with you."
Yugi firmly rubbed his chin on her hair. "We are together." He replied. "It's just the timing, no big deal. Jii-chan will understand us and Euneya will come back."
"I can't bear leaving for school without knowing what is going on, Yugi." She trembled.
He brushed a lock of hair through his index and middle finger. "Anzu, trust Euneya, she has to come back. As for your school, you have to go."
"I can't…" Anzu rubbed her forehead on his shirt, "I don't want to leave anymore…"
Yugi turned on his back, drinking the starlit night. "It's because of the recent events. You need to hang on to your dreams, can't give up now."
Anzu pulled her head up, drawing on her elbows she leaned over him with a soft smile. "You want me to go? Don't you want me anymore?"
The stars trapped his eyes and he didn't look at her. Yugi smiled, "Not what I meant." Finally fastening his eyes on her looming face, he murmured in his throat. "I'd come with you if you ask but I can't leave jii-chan."
"I know," Anzu nodded, "You don't need to tell me."
Yugi slid his hand over her side and gently lowered her back against him. She wrapped her arm around his waist and breathed deeply against his throat. "I still worry. What's about to happen? For the longest time, I hated the idea of Kaiba and Euneya. Today, I can't help but wish he'd come through for her. He has gadgets, troops, and networks, why can't he?"
Yugi blinked away from the sky to the side of the roof. "I don't know… When you think you've finally figured him out, it's not the same with Kaiba. Personally I was convinced." He swallowed the knot in his throat, "Kaiba wanted Euneya, you saw how he came at camp and took her."
"He always does."
"No, Anzu." Yugi shook his head. "It was different—he was different. He feels differently about Euneya from everyone, I know, I can tell." He added determinedly.
Anzu tentatively stared at him, "Are you sure?"
Her whisper made him shiver. He smiled at her fondly. "Your eyes are shining." Yugi slipped his hand through her hair and kissed the bridge of her nose.
"Stop changing the subject." Anzu squinted her eyes at his warm lips. He pulled back just in time for her to open her eyes and meet his. "Yugi, don't you think Kaiba should try to help us find her? We don't know much but he can—"
"We can't always depend on one person to do the work," He replied. "Kaiba isn't superhuman."
"He has the most power in Domino. Crazy but maybe more than the police."
Yugi didn't counter and sighed heavily. Anzu didn't blink away. "What can we do?" He murmured. "We have tried looking everywhere can think of. Isao-sama pulled some strings. The rest is up to Takeo and Gorou-san."
"What if we never find her?" Anzu quivered.
Yugi gripped her tightly. "Don't say that." He hushed.
"Shh." He silenced her with a firm kiss on the forehead.
Anzu closed her eyes and rubbed her cheek on his chest. They were enjoying each other's silence on the roof of the Kame Shop, a leeway from his bedroom window. The night was warm and the rain paused. Lying on a blanket dried the roof with their body heat. It was Anzu's idea to eat on the roof and whisk away the little time they had left to themselves before she left for the US. He was uneasy with the idea of her leaving but didn't word it. Anzu was stressed by the lack of news with Euneya.
Yugi turned to stare at his open bedroom window when he caught sight of the passing shadow. His hand fell off Anzu and his leg lowered firmly on the blanket. She sat up at the strange stiffness of his chest to peer at him intently. He was watching something on the window. Anzu looked up at the wrinkled face hanging over the sill, studying them in bewilderment.
"Necking on the roof, is it?" Solomon screamed.
"We were just eating." Flushed, Anzu rearranged her shirt and pulled her hair from her face.
Solomon regarded his guilty grandson, Anzu lightly nudged Yugi to defend their innocence.
"Ye- we were eating, jii-chan." Yugi avoided meeting his eyes.
"I know when my grandson lies his ears turn red." Solomon blinked and shoved a finger at Yugi's ears. "Look at them glowing like they've sunburned!"
Hastily Yugi covered his ears and stared hopelessly at Anzu.
"Jii-chan, can't we have some alone time? I am leaving in a couple of days!" Anzu claimed. "Don't you want us to be together?"
"In a well lit, breathable house—not on a roof!" He exclaimed. "I don't want to tell my grandkids they were conceived over roof tiles, and cheesecake!"
"Jii-chaaan!" Anzu cried indignantly.
"I told you to let her soar, Yugi but not on my roof!" Solomon shouted.
"We weren't salacious." Yugi earnestly informed.
"No, you weren't." Solomon shifted from the windowsill, sarcastically muttering, "Because that's what a hormonal boy and a girl do with each other—which you aren't." His departure echoed in the slamming of Yugi's bedroom door.
Anzu relaxed and said, "Even your jii-chan is obsessed with sex like Tristan and Duke."
Yugi lowered his head. "I'm sorry, Anzu."
She rubbed his knuckles. "Don't get me wrong, Yugi, it's just that every—time!"
"I know…" He laughed, abruptly stopping, "He is gonna tell everyone."
Anzu swept her bangs over her eyes. "Can't stop him if we try. Oh well, Yugi, lets go warn Tristan, Duke and Joey about a loud phone call from jii-chan. We have to shut Joey up or he'll spill the details."
"Serenity?" Yugi murmured.
"She is busy at the orphanage. She doesn't have a loud mouth."
Yugi smiled distantly, "You have to admire her for her effort though."
Anzu touched his arm. "I know. She is trying. Lets go in." Steadily, Anzu picked up the plates and cake. Yugi rolled on his side and collected the blanket.
The security barricading Minorou amplified. Kaiba was true to his word. Isao-sama was standing in the courtyard, examining the wooden exterior of the façade that had bubbled and rotten from the heavy rain during the last few days. With Gorou absent, he'd have to patch the wood himself. Isao-sama turned toward the parking lot and a familiar dark vehicle came flying through, stopping past the stairs. The driver pushed open the door and stepped out with a tight smile.
Investigator Yukio looked peeved. Isao-sama approached him slowly. "Ohayo, inspector, what brings you?" He asked.
Yukio surveyed the parking lot. "Ohayo, Director, tough getting in, ne?"
"You mean the notorious K.C security?" Isao-sama smirked. "Kaiba-sama has been supporting Minorou for a good half year. He heard about the incidents and offered it for the kids."
"How thoughtful," Yukio nodded, "Don't mind me, I came by to check on the orphanage. How are you and the kids holding up?"
"We're doing good. A new volunteer popped up last week, very stubborn but adorable. Recently, Gorou needed to visit out of the city for—er—family business, don't know the details, he will be back soon, perhaps later today. I want to tell the kids about her—Euneya's—situation. They've been asking about her a lot."
"As expected." Yukio murmured, staring at the porch.
Isao-sama followed his evident curiosity. She was standing by the shoji screen, auburn hair tied back, sleeve folded past her elbows. Her flushed cheeks indicated she was practicing Kenpō with the kids. Serenity met Isao-sama's eyes and descended the stairs, barefoot. Miniscule rocks and pebbles crunching under her soft pale feet, pain disregarded, she impudently stopped in front of Yukio.
"Do you like me or something? Stop looking at me like I gave you a blowjo—"
"Serenity!" Isao-sama shoved her behind him. "Very stubborn," He apologetically explained. "And very young."
"The volunteer?" Amused, Yukio turned to Serenity and bowed. "Ohayo, is it Serenity?"
"Why ask if you know my name?" She mumbled, glaring grudgingly at Isao-sama.
He look perturbed and gestured her back inside. "Don't leave the kids alone."
"They are showering."
"Make use of the time and clean their sports equipment."
"All done," Serenity smugly announced, "The kids helped."
"You let the kids—" Isao-sama glanced at Yukio with stern control, "Don't make the kids do the work."
"I didn't. They wanted to."
"Never mind." He silenced her. "Go and change, take a shower. That flushed face is not good for young men."
The frowning brows over Yukio's eyes cleared, like a thundercloud diminishing for a clear blue sky. He smiled helplessly. "You mean, me."
"Yes." Isao-sama stuttered, head shaking. "Nn-no. Not you. That one." He indicated Tristan weeding the front garden. "Came early morning and pestered me to see her. It's office hours you know, can't let love appointments come before work. She didn't want to meet him anyway, Serenity stop ogling—go inside, he saw you—run!" He ordered.
"He follows me everywhere I go. If I go shower—"
Isao-sama's face turned bright red, and his nostrils flared at the unusually embarrassing topic. "Go rearrange my office!"
"Gorou-san told me not to go in your office." She frowned.
"Go and do something! There are tons to do."
"Don't yell! I'm going!" Furiously spat, Serenity whirled around and went inside.
Isao-sama saw Yukio's eyes trail her up the stairs and through the shoji screen. "Ahem."
He reacted as if burned from a stove. Yukio blushed, "She is very pretty."
"I know. And stubborn as hell, can't control her. Sometimes I…" He paused at the awry gaze of Yukio on the windows. Serenity was fixing a curtain. Isao-sama anxiously sighed. "Leave the windows alone, Serenity."
Her olive eyes narrowed and her bottom lip twisted. "You're picking on me 'cause I'm new."
Isao-sama returned to Yukio. "She has been fidgety all day, staying by the front." As his eyes swept the parking lot and settled back on the open-mouthed Yukio, mesmerized by the auburn, he said to himself. "Gorou is coming back that's why. We are all impatient." They stood around, talking casually for 10 minutes. Isao-sama growing restless while Yukio turned more and more enamored with Serenity.
Another 5 minutes went by and the shoji screen flung apart, crippling from its ledge with Serenity darting down the stairs. "He is here!" She cried.
Isao-sama alertly moved toward the parking lot.
Gorou's brown vehicle entered, he parked in his regular spot before aborting.
Isao-sama turned to Yukio. "Thank you for coming by, inspector. But we have lots of work to do. With most of my staff here, I can't waste time. Sayonara!" He kept shoving the inspector toward his black vehicle.
Yukio went uneasily. "O-okay... Before I—"
"No worries!" Isao-sama took his keys and unlocked the car. "Please don't come—ever—I mean I don't know when there will be time, we'll be busy from now on you see." He began shoving Yukio under the car hood.
"But I, what about—" Yukio's eyes flashed back to Serenity. "She—"
Isao-sama held back with a grunt. "For pity's sake—" He flung toward Serenity, yelling. "SERENITY, SAY GOODBYE TO INSPECTOR!"
Yukio turned beat red and fell in his seat, strapping the seat belt feebly. "I-I-I didn't mean…"
Serenity waved her arm at his car. "Sayonara, Yukio-kun!" She called.
"There. Good? Great." Isao-sama closed the door on the protesting man. He didn't move from his spot after the vehicle turned in the street and was great distance from the orphanage. Isao-sama twirled on his heels and strode toward Serenity and Gorou.
"Don't pester him, Serenity." He said raptly, and paused in his steps to scrutinize Gorou. "You are unhurt?"
"Hai." Gorou bowed. He looked clean, dark hair combed back and his sleep strained eyes were wide-awake with energy.
"You showered." Isao-sama observed with a short smile. "Eh, did you meet Cho?"
"Hai, the first thing I did. She is at my sister's house, sleeping by now."
Isao-sama nodded once. "Get in. Serenity lock the front door and don't let your—" His eyes pointedly stopped on Tristan watching them from the garden. "Whoever he is, inside."
Serenity bobbed her head like a loyal servant. "Hai, Isao-sama!"
Gorou chose the chair at the desk and Serenity sat on the couch. Isao-sama was at his usual chair, behind the desk. He leaned forward, lip curled at the name, "Black Ladder."
"Yes. You wouldn't believe the things we saw. The man lured us, fed us bullshit—" Gorou spared a look at Serenity.
She shrugged, "I'd swear too."
He continued with tensed irritation, "He somehow knew and got his men to take us at the alley. Takeo insisted we play along. We fled as fast as could and hid at the back of a truck. Occasionally we followed a group, turned out useless. I have a feeling Takeo hasn't given up on them."
"Who are these men?"
"Leagues." Gorou scratched his forehead in deep thought. "But the guy we met at the club wasn't surprised by our ulterior motive. I've got to get back, Takeo is still trekking the men. How can we get underground if we can't stay in their public clubs without arousing suspicion?"
"So there were no signs of Euneya? Or anyone interesting?" Serenity murmured.
Gorou glared at the desk. "The women were young, not much older than you. We saw someone, at first, we thought it was her but we were wrong."
"Entering the underground clubs is not worth the risk." Snapped Isao-sama, "Gorou have some sense! I only asked you to ask around—not find your way to their illegal joints."
"We can't do anything else." He replied unapologetically, "At least we tried and we know how it works."
"And the brothels?"
"There is no word yet. No one with Euneya's description entered there."
Isao-sama rubbed his chin, scowling at the wall. "Wonder how Kaiba-sama will do…?"
Gorou sat up, "Kaiba-sama?"
"Kaiba?" Serenity was on her feet. "What is he doing?"
He waved the thought away, "No…Nothing… Unusual."
"Extremely unusual." Serenity cut in, "Are you hiding something, Isao-sama?"
Gorou's eyes widened. "Is Kaiba-sama…doing anything illegal?"
"Not illegal." Replied Isao-sama casually. "Not doing anything. He is at his office."
"Sure." Serenity whispered solemnly. "Jerk."
Gorou stared at her silently. Serenity slumped miserably on the couch. He looked away. "Why was inspector Yukio here?"
Isao-sama curtly glanced from Serenity to Gorou. "Came to check on us, knows his priority but," He paused at Serenity's hidden mumble. "If you hadn't shown up and embarrassed me…Damn it, Serenity, what was that for?"
"Not my fault he couldn't stop staring at me," Serenity fanned her auburn hair over her shoulder like a queen. "Who cares? Yukio-san isn't helpful. Gorou-san, did you notice anything else at the clubs? Someone we can bring to our side and can get you underground?"
"I didn't fairly keep to my role." Gorou sullenly admitted. "I was focused on the women." He sharply looked up, "Uh—Not in that sense but—"
"Mm. Hmm." Serenity squinted her eyes.
Gorou regarded her intently, "Do I amuse you?"
The corners of her sugary pink lips rode up, "Nn-not in the cherry on a sundae kind of way but I see a resemblance to the key lime pie that's been sitting in my fridge for too long."
"Why the funny look?"
She shrugged insecurely. "No reason, you were…at a club…"
His eyes narrowed. "And?"
"And nothing." Serenity frowned. "Just that you were at a club. You—who constantly yells at me for misplacing your stamps and screwing your chair tight so it swivels more to the right instead of slouching to the left, and love yelling at me for the smallest shit without an apology!"
Gorou sat up, "How does that relate to the current topic? I don't even know what you're talking about."
"I'm talking about you!" Serenity folded her arms around herself to glare, "The most up-tight ass in the world. And you can't give me a second chance to prove I can actually be useful around here."
"I'm not a—" He ignored the word. "How is that my fault? You need to be more artful."
"Because you're too uptight!"
Isao-sama stared widely as Gorou rose abruptly at the accusation.
"Can't you tell how uneasy everyone is? We aren't saints!" Gorou spat.
"You're yelling again." Serenity bickered. "Do I look like I enjoy being yelled at? Why are you mad at me?"
"I'm not mad at you." Gorou breathed. "And I'm not yelling."
"What the hell was that?" Serenity pointed.
"I am telling you that I'm not yelling. What else?" He gestured at himself. "Why do I need to explain my—What does all this have to do with me at the club?"
Serenity stared at him from head to toe. "Just, I can't see you at a club—you!"
"For research purposes. Not to mention, we are trying to get back Euneya, safely."
"Well it didn't work out as planned, did it?" Serenity snapped irately. "What if you were hurt? And Takeo? He can't even look at dead body much less pretend to be a cop."
"This is coming from you?" Gorou scoffed.
"Don't scoff at me!" Serenity stood up and approached him. "I'm being serious."
He was looking down at her like she was a pest stuck to his side more than he liked. "Why do you care if I get hurt? Either we risk ourselves to find answers or don't. It was worth a try!"
"STOP DOING THAT!" She screamed.
"I'M NOT YELLING!"
Isao-sama slammed a folder on the table. "Get a hold of yourselves!"
"Isao-sama." Serenity breathed stiffly. They were glaring at each other. "Don't you think Gorou-san is being dramatic?"
"I'd care, if I had the time." Grumbled the Director. "Sit down, Gorou, you too, Serenity—away from each other. I don't have the patience to see you slick each other's throats, not in my office! One crime at a time." He cleared his throat once Serenity sank glumly in the coach. Gorou remained standing. "As we were before the… What was that? A quarrel?"
"No." Gorou beat her to it. "Hardly mentionable."
She licked her lips and blinked. "A misunderstanding."
Isao-sama stared at the two. "Why? Do you have the Kaiba-Euneya syndrome? You remind me of them horribly. Don't get into that habit. I don't have the delicacy to watch you two follow in their examples."
Serenity glared at Gorou. "We won't."
Isao-sama smiled slowly. "Well… Good. Keep it at that, I forbid you to change." He noticed how quickly Gorou turned his head and how harshly Serenity was staring at him with controlled patience. He credited her for keeping her outburst to herself. "Whatever frustration you're feeling, deal with it later. Our hands are full. Gorou, you can't leave now that you have returned."
"Takeo can't fight alone."
"Fight? No one is fighting. Leaving right now is pointless. Yukio has seen you. By the looks of—" Isao-sama guiltily stared at Serenity, "Things he will want to come here often to 'check up'."
"I'll keep him busy." Serenity smirked.
"The hell you will!" Isao-sama gave her a disapproving look.
Gorou impatiently batted his eyes and stared at the floor, uncaring of the topic. "Why can't I go?"
"He will grow suspicious." Isao-sama replied. "Gorou, we can't have police follow you to the clubs. You already drew attention to yourself, its unwise to frequently return. If that happens, Euneya will be lost forever."
"I can be discreet."
"Isao-sama, he can't stand staying here if he can't help." Serenity whispered solemnly.
Isao-sama's mouth fell open. "Weren't you just screaming at him if he got hurt!"
"Can't you see he has made up his mind?"
"Takeo can't do it alone. I need to be there." Gorou reasoned, "I want to try again."
"You're going to have to explain this to Cho." Isao-sama muttered. "I'm running out of staffs. What am I to do?"
"That's what I'm here for." Serenity squared her shoulders and smiled brightly. "I can take care of everything."
Gorou glanced away from her after a prolonged thought to say. "Yeeaa… I don't mind staying for another day."
Relieved, Isao-sama smiled. "There are some documents you need to attend to. The children will want to see you. Don't make a mention of—"
"I won't." He assured.
"And bring up the—"
"Yes, trust me."
"If you carry on bickering, I'll have to lock you both in a room until you sort it out like normal adults." Isao-sama regarded the furious flush staining Serenity's pale cheeks and the embarrassed look on Gorou's expression. "At least don't do it in front of me. We must be civil to each other."
"I agree." Gorou nodded. "You are right."
"Absolutely. Once someone stops yelling it can happen." Serenity hissed.
"Serenity." Isao-sama called.
"I'm just saying!" She cried.
"You are being immature."
"If he can yell at me for every freakin' thing in the world, I can at least be honest and get back at him."
Isao-sama turned to Gorou. "Gorou, don't yell at her anymore. Do you see what a pain it is sorting idle bicker like a head councilor in an elementary school? You are not 10. Be civil to her."
"But she doesn't—"
"Civil." Isao-sama stonily stared.
After a hesitant silence, he sighed. "Whatever you say." Gorou turned and stormed out of the office. The door slid in a soft click and reopened again for Serenity to charge outside. Her tennis shoes moved silently on the wood, Gorou tensed at the soft motions. "What now?" He grunted, exasperated.
"Are you really ok?" Her concerned question made him extremely uneasy. He strode quickly to his office. "They didn't do anything else? Stop running."
"Go away." Gorou sighed, jiggling the door lock. "Please, go away."
"I work here, I can't."
"Go somewhere else."
Serenity grabbed the key out of his hand and opened the lock for him. He snatched the keys back. "No, thank yous?"
Gorou hovered at the open door hesitantly. "Uh, yea, sure." He turned and entered his office.
"I've been working twice as hard. I can't stand it if someone doesn't like me—and I don't know why!"
"It's none of your business. For starters, I'm smothered with work, and I'm very stressed."
"I can help!" She flashed him a sweet smile.
Gorou scowled, and turned to glare at the rearranged office. "What did you do?"
"Told you I've been working hard." Serenity frowned, "You don't like it?"
He went to his desk, "I told you not to touch my office. There were folders here. Where are the folders? I can't lose them!"
"In the filing cabinet."
"There were contact numbers."
"Also in the cabinet." Serenity smiled smugly. "Everything on your desk is on the first cabinet. The second holds the contact information, adoption documents, and the last one holds the children's records." She watched him wring open the drawers to check if it was true.
"What the hell got into you?" He attacked.
"What? Isn't the room spacious?" She gestured to the space by the chairs. "Looks more livable."
"No!" Gorou cried. "I don't like it! I want my things the way before! It is my office; I can keep my office the way I want. I told you not to come in here! Why were youin my office?" He demanded.
"I was bored."
"You are working at an orphanage, how can it possibly be boring." He snapped.
She tightened her lips. "Fine… It was getting quiet."
"Once again, you work at an orphanage. Children are loud."
"Yea, they are loud. But there was a weird quietness. No one yelled. Everyone tiptoed and did what they were told."
Gorou stared dumfounded. "You changed my office because it was quiet."
"You weren't yelling!"
"You changed it because I wasn't here."
"Basically." She nodded.
"What the hell got into you?"
Serenity wanted to punch him. "I thought you might like it! I was trying to help—leave an impression so you won't hate me—"
"I don't hate you." He huffed, brushing his hair back to the side.
"Yea, you have a nice way of showing it."
"You're…" Gorou clenched his eyes shut and snapped his teeth in a slice. "Annoying!" He gritted.
Serenity gasped, "ANNOYING? How? When?"
"Because you are!" He slurred through his teeth.
"If someone tries her best to help so you'll change your mind and like her, is not annoying!"
"Why is it important I like you?" He demanded.
Serenity scrunched her mouth. "FINE! Don't like me!"
The door swung open and Isao-sama stood at the threshold. "Serenity, tell your friend to get out of my garden. And thank him for plucking the weeds." He blinked wide. "Gorou, the paperwork."
"Hai, Isao-sama." Gorou silently went to his desk.
"I'm leaving." She lethargically left the room.
Isao-sama watched her turn around the corner. "Did you say something to her?"
Gorou paled. "Nn-nn-nno—Not me."
"I've never seen you address a woman impolitely."
"Enough with the excuses. Is it because she took Euneya's position?"
Gorou jumped to his feet. "No, Isao-sama! NO!"
"Then?" He waited.
"She—" Gorou looked away. "We—I can't explain—Look at my office! She insists on barging in everything I do! It's very annoying."
"She is trying to help."
"I know but nothing has gone right ever since Serenity came."
"How is she at fault?"
"She can't understand what the orphanage needs. She needs more skills, experience."
Isao-sama listened intently. "So you are saying… She is not fit for the job." He stroked his chin. "From today, you are personally responsible for making sure she does things according to our requirements. If she needs help, you will help her."
"Isao-sama, I don't have the time."
"Stop making excuses and help her." He ordered, frowning. "You really don't like her, do you?"
Gorou stiffened. "No, no, I do, I do! She has a great personality—pretty even but she can't handle the job!"
"You want to fire her when we practically have no staffs?" Isao-sama raised a brow. Gorou sat back down silently. "Thought so." He closed the office door.
Rain smothered the craft. Letting it sway in the heaps of waves and trudging into dams he skillfully avoided. Three ports localized 40 miles from Domino. The closest to Nagoya was passed hours ago. He waited for the sunset to leap and appear with a full moon, and on came the storming rain. Japan was famous for its beautiful weather, green gardens, colorful markets and people. The winter weather, on the other hand, was uncomfortable to travel in. He knew many uncivilized regions in Japan while part of Ruiji's gang. There were good, tragic memories and several hindering encounters with the police, all he managed to escape harmlessly. It may be he was lucky when he was young. He had a feeling his luck was running out on him. Ashamoto sat up on the deck of the craft. Administrating the vessel hadn't been difficult. He forced a long rod against his knees to help him move easily. Of course walking with wooden pegs was an option. If there were any lying around he wouldn't object.
Docking at one of the secret ports, he left the craft and made his way around Domino. For the first time, the city was not rundown. He didn't find it chaotic. He wasn't victimizing anyone. He was merely a citizen, promenading his homeland and wistfully watching the decorations of the Hanabi festival sink in the strained rain. Ashamoto stopped on the sidewalk and picked up the decorative flower. The pedals shivered against his fingers. Without thought, the blossom found its way inside the pocket of his robe.
Warm beads flicked against cold fingertips. Ashamoto clenched the long string of beads and lured it in view of the water. Flakes of liquid pooled on the glowing amethyst beads. His very bones twisted at the sight and made him eyes waver as he looked up at the striking building hovering the Domino. Grinding his teeth, Ashamoto huffed under his breath.
She promised to help him escape. Forget about her. He could leave and never return. She had it coming. He never asked for help, in fact, he was prepared to die but she insisted. Silly girl, I told her not to get caught. Idiots like her deserve to be killed. Ashamoto regarded the building in the distance. I'm sure they have killed her already.
He admitted in Domino Hospital. Ruthlessly worrying about the owner of the beaded necklace. She didn't have to save him. Risking her young life to save an old grouch like he, Ashamoto wanted to smack her. His fists clenched and he glanced sideways at the window of his hospital room. He needed to recuperate steadily if he tried anything. The trouble was he didn't know what he was about to do.
It was one of those moments… He was staring disdainfully at the wires and contraptions clashing his legs and arms. The stitches were irritating as hell. All he wanted was to roll over on his side and fall back asleep. For the past 6 days, he'd been reliant on medical assistance—a thing he would never get used to—and as strange as it was for his old mind, he was leaning on the pillow with his eyes gazing the tiled floor when an article on the bed-table caught his eye.
As he reached over to grab the magazine, the nurse who was helping him roll on his side, told him not to overexert himself. He wanted to tell her to shut up. Instead silently, Ashamoto snatched the magazine with the last of his effort and pushed open the cover. He made a quick scan of the article. The jumble of black letters spat on his eyeballs. Wearily, his hand slipped from the magazine, and his cheek pressed softly against the white pillow.
The nurse smiled at him sweetly. "The drug will let you sleep easier. I'll be back to check on …" Her words drifted and became unclear. Ashamoto lazily looked at the table and the fallen magazine on his side.
Blue eyes, chestnut hair, in the name of a familiar CEO having an affair with an olive eyed woman, similar to one who saved him days ago, was the title of the article.
His tired eyes fell shut, breathing deep and smiled widely in his dream.
Akemi was unsatisfied by the ingénue. Untalented and graceless described the pseudo man inhabiting the office her cubicle fell within ten feet from. With Katsu nervously prowling the halls, a firm indicator that something unusual was transpiring between her superior and the guard. Little did they know she was aware of every thing. Katsu was damn determined to keep the pseudo Seto Kaiba out of sight and locked in the office, rarely conversing with employees, and when she delivered his morning coffee, Katsu opened the door, snaked the cup and shoved her back out with a ridiculous order to not come inside unless an emergency. The coffee wasn't an emergency, however she had no other way to deliver appointments, insisting many clientele messages were personal and were to be delivered by mouth. He didn't care and ordered her to use the phone.
The door shifted open and the said bodyguard wandered out of the office, suspiciously weary-eyed as if he had been dozing off. Baka. Akemi narrowed her eyes on Katsu. Didn't they know she had been working in the company for more than 10 years to sense something was up? And that Kaiba-sama was not around? If it was up to her, she'd definitely make a convincing display and remove Katsu from the office since his strange and omnibus presence in the building gave everything away.
Katsu straightened his tie and strode toward the hallway. His eyes met hers passively and an eyebrow rose.
Baka, can you be less convincing? I know Kaiba-sama is not here. I've been his assistant long enough to know his habits. And he hates cold coffee you dumbass! Whoever you have in there…
"Something on your mind, Akemi?" Katsu stopped in front of her desk, anxious by her glare.
"Oh…" She slammed her palm on the stapler, her chair pushed back once she stood, "Wondering how weird it is to have you around. Bodyguards don't stay in the office all the time. Lately…something weird is going on… Hmm."
"Weird?" He tensed and folded his arms, "Don't think too much."
"Can't help it." Akemi looked him in the eye blankly. "I know Kaiba-sama's habits too well. I can tell."
"Whatever, keep it to yourself." He muttered.
Akemi leaned on her elbow to observe his twitching left eye. "Isn't eye twitching a sign of bad luck?"
His instant slapping of his left eye and moving away from the desk made her smile. "Stop jinxing it!" Running toward the elevator, Katsu grumbled over his shoulder and disappeared behind the shutting door.
Hiro was scrutinizing a report that made no sense to him whatsoever. He blanked at the data results of lab-reports. Fumbling the folders shut, Hiro ran a sweaty hand over his forehead. Brown hair covered his blue eyes like the CEO whose chair he sat in, as well as the building, computer, decks, photos…skyline. The view was wonderful. He could see every inch, curb, and shadowed unencumbered venues of Domino. To have this sort of liberty…Hiro lifted his arms that hung with sleeves of belts that were lightly tied and not too restraining. He was uncomfortable in the heavy clothes for the first few days. Somehow it was beginning to grow on him. He couldn't get distracted though. He was under surveillance.
A knock pounded on the door. He refrained from jumping up, as he was prone to out of shock.
Surprisingly, the door slapped open and a female entered the office. She strode toward his desk, eyes narrowed and lips tugged in a crude line. She was smooth skinned, and glossy hair tied back over her shoulders. Her feet stopped approximately a meter from the desk, a habit he believed achieved from practice. The rude look in her eyes and the slight movement of her soft lips made his spine twinge desperately.
Hiro gripped the armrests. The folders landed in perfect order in front of him. Looking up at the woman, he felt a shiver lick the back of his body. Swallowing his dry throat, Hiro conceived an unpreventable inkling she knew who he was and whatever he administrated would not fool her.
Akemi's eyes fell on his moving Adams apple and back to his perspiring face. "Who the hell are you and why are you in my boss's chair?" She demanded.
Fingers clipped down on the leather, Hiro regarded the folder with a frown. Be mean. Be fierce. Be mean… C'mon, I can do it.
"Get your eyes checked. Don't waste my time." What else, what else? Uh… oh yea! Hiro pasted the most evil smirk he could compose. "Get out or you're fired!"
Akemi folded her arm behind her back and gave a short bow, "Suimasen."
Her bow was not deep, she didn't mean it, and neither was her apology formal as expected with a superior. Where is Katsu? This woman knows!
"Whatever, get out of my sight." He tried.
Akemi gestured to the untouched coffee. Eyes narrowed, lip curled—She was giving him that dangerous look again, Hiro stiffened.
"You didn't drink your coffee. Do you want a refill?"
What is she planning? Hiro glared back. She knows more than I thought. He cleared his throat. "No, I'm not done." He grabbed the cup and slurped loudly. His face twisted in revulsion at the cold liquid.
She didn't budge. "Are you sure? Warm coffee is better." Leaning over, she grabbed the cup, "I insist."
The assistant spun on her heel and disappeared out the door. Hiro was left to collect his wits; he managed to sag wearily against the chair with unraveling pressure. There was no telling when his plan would end. If the assistant knew, she wouldn't tell anyone, would she?
Too soon, she returned with a fresh cup and placed it neatly on the desk. Bowing with a backward step, Akemi looked him over twice.
Hiro opened his mouth to speak but his tongue numbed. He took a hold of the warm cup, holding it to his lips under her taunting stare and swallowed the substance. She looked pleased and smiled curtly. Akemi turned and left the room.
Inhabiting the gambling den tested fate like no other, going beyond duel monsters and life points; there was no defense system and the meager method left to save myself was to put everything on the line. With Sora, I was preserved powerful and with Colère, I was invincible. Simply put, I owned the den the moment Colère and I shook hands pervious nights ago. He wanted an investment and I, his silence. Sora was too trustful for his own good, like I noted before, he was more than willing to stake his profits in the den, and with our assets combined and Colère unmistakably not attacking me, it was proficient to set myself along with the gambling community.
They accepted me in 2 weeks, not a fair time span but I had adjusted to the leisure time frame without doubt of meeting Euneya in the regions I invested. With that reason in mind, I implemented my stocks, taking some of Sora's with our partnership and asked for the best and liveliest clubs in Nagoya. Possibly the one where women like the Mongolian one involved. My aim was lucid like vodka shimmering in Colère's glass—I wanted a club congested with women.
"Quite a charging investment, I must say. Women lure clients besides the cocaine trade. A lot falls on their shoulders, I'm not surprised you noticed." He hummed over his drink.
We were in his private lounge one night, returned from gambling and watching occasional torturous moments of members shoot a handful of clients, I felt disorderly and infuriated. There was no other reason for me to rush the conversation and when I did, it didn't surprise him either—a lot of things never surprise Colère.
"Give me the club's location."
He chuckled and nodded slowly. "I will. First you will tell me how much you are looking into?"
"80?" He repeated.
"90." I clenched my teeth.
"I want Sora's stocks."
"Done." My feet led me away from the couch instantly.
"And—I want that young wolf out of the crib."
My narrowed eyes met his glowing dark orbs. Colère put away his drink at my stare. "He is attracted by your skill in the den. I don't think you didn't notice, but I had to tell you. He is Shoji's underdog. You may want to keep a close eye on him as he has one for you."
Shoji—the lion, sent someone to watch me? So he knows I'm here.
"Hmph. Wolves are no greater than mutts. And I hate their kind."
"Don't be careless. I have need of you and I wager so do you." Colère reminded curtly. "He is young and sharp like you—a coincidental match? He started coming about a month before you did. Look into him, I trust, you don't want to dispose your disguise, Kaiba-sama?"
Before my anger got the best of me, I was swiftly descending the stairs from the private quarters. She somehow knew I would be with Colère and appeared promptly on my way to the public isle.
Smiling at me, her hand slid in my sleeve and said softly, "Need a drink?"
Her advance did not shake me. Behind her appeared a silvery curtain enshrouding dark door of a private room. Her following eyes caught mine, "Care to join me?"
My silent answer was carefully noted. I resumed my way to the main floor. Sora sat in the lounge surrounded by an army of young women. He eyed me critically and indicated I sit down. I helped myself to a leather space and was engulfed by arms of women. Upon Sora's word, I was given a drink, which I didn't mind and called for conversation that failed to have the tranquil affect I needed.
Across the lounge a tailored gold shield dropped, shimmering in light like glitters. A woman's hand guided the shield, tucking all opening and prying eyes from reading into the transversal lounge. My prying eyes fell on the towering shadow of a man and a woman who seated together on the cushions for a drink.
Their words were similar to what I assumed.
"What do you think?"
"Not well played but I promise not to take it heart." He chuckled.
She pushed her head on his shoulder, brushing her hand on his shirt buttons. "If you say so. Was I wrong to begin with?"
"No," His arm tightened around her body, she invited the embrace. "I enjoy what we have."
"But you're always distracted. Why? Sometimes I think I'm not suitable enough."
"You are!" He chortled, "Don't be ridiculous."
"In that case, I don't want to waste time. Lets get out of here."
"Eh, wait a little more, I have some work to do."
"The work you have is with me—alone."
"An offer I hate to decline but…"
"But…" She trailed listlessly. "I knew it was coming. You don't need to say it. I can sense it."
"I promise I'll work hard, later." He kissed her lips.
She clenched his collar. "Promise?" She breathed.
"Don't doubt me, it's unlike you."
"You hardly come anymore, what more can I hang on to? You know I keep my schedule clear so I can be with you. Don't you dare take advantage of me."
"I dare not." He echoed.
Her soft motions shuddered the shimmery curtain. Suddenly she warped out of the lounge alone and approached a man, probably one of her clients. Her swaying hands, flirtatious gaze and simpering laughter was enough to ignite the spirits of drunken men.
My interest did not gravitate to her but the man.
He was at the gambling den earlier. I recognized the frowning dark brows and train of darker hair. No denying he knew me. A smooth-talker of competitive enterprise and of profound worth; he remained in shadow and appeared in time to surveillance me. Disguises are silly but I require one to maintain invisibility from his perceptive eye.
I left the club with Sora followed by his indivisible lot of women. Because of Sora's eminent like of women, the fact he was usually around them and took them to his abode, no one took regard of my divisibility of women. We are distinguished similarly. Sora's habit remarkably was to my advantage, once again.
He stayed at the Westin Nagoya Castle, 7 rooms from my suite. Not even here could I let my guard down. In the thicket of night I stood watching the transversal castle from the room. Rambunctious noises from 7 doors down boomed in the brink of the night. I couldn't sleep. My possessions glinted under the shadows of clouds. The silver lighting glided on the windows and floor, cool wind blowing the curtain astray.
The doorknob rustled and an unfastening lock shouted.
I had barely conjured proof of composition. There wasn't time for me to yank the shirt from the chair next to the bed as the door fell open and a lithe figure approached.
Needless of lights, I knew that frame. For a moment, she held my startled stare. The door clicked shut behind her. In the moon glow, she stopped 3 feet from the door. The clothes on her back was light muslin. In the discerning light curves and skin underneath the transparent clothing with only a manageable portion of her private areas covered, she had a small shrug on her shoulders and divested it in one swift motion.
"How did you get in?"
She indicated a white card with a small smile. "You don't look impressed."
"Trampling on private property, how is that impressive?"
Her lips moved and a breathtaking smile joined her words, "I'd ask you the same. You don't practice what you preach?"
"Hmph." She knew me and had the audacity to show up in my hotel room. My eyes narrowed on her shining small face. I wasn't in a coaxing state to look down at her. My clothes were on the chair. I did manage to keep my pants for embarrassing reasons only Mokuba and I are aware of in the world.
She made her way near the bed. Averting, she stopped. "I…I didn't mean to sound rude. It's my job you see. I have to attract clients." Her Mongolian roots clinging to rapid Japanese.
To come for a client was outright unbelievable, I doubt she habitually broke into rooms for attention grabbing low-quality service. Even if she did, an ulterior motive gave light to the situation. She was in the crew of Sora's women. Ours rooms share the same ID as we are housed under his name, not mine. The whole floor is booked to him. Questing for my room key took a heartbeat.
If I am her target, why is she hesitating? She holds no superiority to do things independently. Her life belongs to the club, to someone.
"Who sent you?"
Dark eyes silently regarded me. "Didn't take you long to figure out." She rubbed her hands around her self, "He wants to see how far you can go."
"To learn your objectives. To distract you."
"Hmph." My hands bunched on the bed sheet, "Who is he?"
"Don't you want to know my name?"
I looked away.
She shuddered loudly. "He said, you will know soon."
How much does this person know about me? And what I was going to ask? "Why are you telling me this? Isn't that your disadvantage? Aren't you risking yourself?"
Kisara laughed dryly, her young voice turning cold, "I've risked more than life to come here. The other night, he told me fall in front of you to see what you'll do."
"He wanted you to stay with me."
"What will you tell him?"
Her enchanting eyes fixed on me firmly. Slowly, her lips pushed up and her shoulder dipped down. "His plan was useless." She licked her lips and turned to the door. Her feet stopped, she glanced over her shoulder. "I know what you're thinking, but I'm not a slave."
"Hmph. Bidding dues and whoring, sounds like a slave to me."
She didn't look angry but smirked enticingly. Her eyes flared and cheeks darkened. The wind rippled against her transparent robes. The curve of her breasts glittered on the material. "You settle it. I do no favors for anyone." Her whisper dragged taunting shivers up my spine. I was coaxed to shake myself from the spell but held back. "You aren't as impenetrable as you believe. In your eyes, I can see you have desire for me."
My lips set in a grim line.
Brushing her dark hair leisurely, she nodded. "I will go." Shoulders squared, she opened the door. "Remember that he is watching you. Refusing me won't deter him." She closed the door quietly.
A shadow moved out of the corner of my eye, first sign of life in the cryptic lab. Bodily dews and scent slathered the titled floor under my cold soles, I see the sunlight bursting on the greasy windows, and there isn't a soul to speak with. Dying was on my list of things to do. Somehow, each time I was tortured I survived and woke up passively from a nightmare. Strange how the room doesn't feel real but a dream, I've been trapped in one for years.
Now, I no longer know my name or what I'm doing here? Why do they keep hurting me? Belts, physical violence lashed at its best, a disapproving fate and exhausting but I have no reason to linger. Yet they want me to die with a rotten soul.
The room is colder than winter. I can remember what winter feels like. What about spring? Does spring exist? Is there warmth anywhere? My bones creak every time I move. I'm used to the noises my dying body makes. Glaring scars and bruises everywhere; how did I survive the brutality? A feather-like sweat tickled through my hair on my cheek. My body heat is increasing. I must be getting sick. I should be past sickness. How did I survive? Why don't I remember?
There were belts first. Hot steams to burn the skin on my back, then locked in this cubicle for days. I can't remember what my own face looks like. But their faces, the men who threw me in here are scarred, tattooed, repulsive and fierce. What have I done to provoke them? Why did I wake up? I shouldn't have…. I shouldn't have wakened. They'll come for me, again. With sticks, boots, belts, steam and knives. Why are they angry? Why am I here?
Fleeting light flickered on the water puddles, sealing an illusion of silver stream around me. The glowing liquid was stark white and blinding, I cringed and covered my head in my arms, hunched over on the floor in the corner where the world doesn't exist. Here I am. But where is this place? What have I been reduced to? Why can't I remember?
These cuts aren't healing. The worst is the throbbing headache. Seeping blood on my legs and thighs pronouncing belt and knife marks. Why was I attacked? And there is no sign of a soul. Why am I left alone in this cage? Why are they doing this to me?
There it was again, the shadow skipping over the water on the left corner, 5 feet in the distance. Are they coming already? I don't want to wait for them. But how do I leave? How do I get up? My body doesn't have energy to move. How can I be so weak?
I told them they couldn't control me, that I wouldn't beg. By the looks of things, I must've begged or I wouldn't be breathing.
Suddenly the shadow slipped on the water, a resounding creak waked the quiet room followed by footsteps and the expected turning of the door in a designated lock. Robes slithered on puddles, the fleeting slapping of boots and swapping of swaying substance darkened by the approaching silhouette. I couldn't see his face but his hard breathing made my stomach twist.
"Get up." Growled a deep voice.
Shrinking back from his advancing hand, I flattened on the wall and averted.
Snatching the last several threads of my ripped shirt, he lured me to my knees, knuckles taped against my throat. Boring black eyes examined me in sheer repugnance. "Look at you, disgusting!" He muttered. "Now you see what happens when you don't listen to us, eh?"
Scoffing, he shook me, "What? Don't have nun to say? Cat got your tongue? You sure had a flapping mouth earlier!" His nails dug into my collarbone.
Overlooking the pain, I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing. This won't take long. The taunting and beating is transient. Soon I'll wake up again and wonder for the hundredth time what happened?
With a gravitational swing, he sent me plummeting in the water, cheek pasted.
"Peh!" Scornfully looming over me, he unsheathed a gun from his pocket, "This time, you gotta do what you're told. GOT IT?" He shrieked.
Don't give in. Don't give in… I kept my eyes shut.
"If you value your life, getting fancy won't get you any thing. Unless you want another lesson." He aimed the gun readily. I waited for the ticking trigger, when nothing came I reopened my eyes. He fired a bullet on the floor beside me. Chuckling at my frightened reaction, he rubbed the gun against my chin. "This is it for you, who were trying to fool hnh? Where will you run from here huh? Who will take you? HAHAAHA!" Removing the gun, he released me, watching me slump unceremoniously on the puddle. I didn't brace myself or look at him. I simply wanted him gone.
Yet he glared sinisterly, his dark eyes shimmering with vulgarity that made me spasm with fear. It was my last chance and before he stooped down, I rolled out of the way, cowering in the corner of a wall. Another bullet fired next to my elbow, succeeded by a giant hole on the floor by my toes.
Please, don't come near. Please, don't come near. My plea couldn't drown out the approaching boots in my direction.
So petrified, I pushed my face in between my knees, eyes shut and head shielded by my arms.
Let him beat me, nothing more. Please, god. Make this quick.
Seizing my left shoulder, he shoved the gun barrel to my temple. "You gonna have to get used to this, got it?" He prodded the cold barrel harder. "If you can't, say right now ya can't! We don't gotta go through this shit every time!" My audible quiver made him grin. "Scared? You gonna see a lot more than guns soon. Ya can't handle this—" He thrust the barrel harder, "This—ya ain't no good. No one will want you. You wanna survive, get used to this. What you say?" He waited. "Can't hear you! C'mon!"
My back hit the wall again; slowly I raised my eyes to look at his shadowed face.
"What?" He sliced, "Don't like what you see?" A blow threw me sideways, on his boots. "That's right! Grovel! That's where whores like you belong!" Suddenly, the gun came in contact with my back, beating incessantly.
Cringing, I closed my eyes, biting my lip; my restless hands grabbed his foot.
"That's right! Beg!" He kicked me in the stomach, forcing his boot against my chest. "Nasty thing like you—worthless bitch! You won't get a second chance so make this one count!" Another fist came across my face, under my eye. Followed by another bleeding blow on my lip.
This man continued using the gun, his boot—easily thrusting me to corners, enjoying watching me crawl and cower under his attacks. At one point, I couldn't dare move a muscle, submitting lifelessly to his blistering beating. My trembling body no longer a part of my aching soul, I was torn to pieces. My mind was gone. Thoughts no longer existed. Memories… No, I didn't have any. I had no one. I had nothing. I was nothing.
"Why?" He kicked endlessly on my sides. "Can't move? Why? Why? Why? Why?"
Weeping, I choked as hot liquid spurted through my lips, mingling with saliva against my arms and the floor. Absently, my eyes blinked at the trickling blood from my choking mouth. And still, he continued.
I closed my eyes.
His youthful face and charming magenta eyes appeared. Smiling eagerly at me, he winked. "Remember, you promised not to leave his side."
Sharply opening my eyes, I stared at the stepping heel on my shoulder. Tears streamed, spoiling my vision. Mokuba…
Wheezing, I cried out, "Moh…Ku baaa…Mokubaaa!" Wailing raggedly, I coughed the oozing crimson from my orifice. "I can't, Mokuba."
"What you say?" Sneered the man. He pulled my flimsy shirt, lunging me to my knees fluidly. "Say that again you piece of shit!"
From the swollen eyelids, I peeked at the screaming man holding me in place. Panting, exhaustion riding me to unconsciousness, I breathed, my mouth and throat aching.
"What's the matter?" He shook me, the force knocked my head back and forth, "Huh? Can't talk? Wonder why!" He yanked my chin in between his fingers. "See this right here?" He rubbed the gun on my chest, "This will be your judge—right here…" He snickered. Fisting the front of my shirt, he ripped it open.
I staggered to the floor, falling with the ripped pieces of my shirt in the puddle. Wrapping my scarred arms around my breasts, I quivered, sliding away from his approaching boots.
"I told ya there is no time for running." He mocked. Leashing me by the arm, he drew me up, restraining both hands to my sides, leaving me exposed. After a moment of observance, he smirked. "You gonna have to get used to more." His hand slid to the lower half of the shirt.
I jumped away from the tugging movement, promptly running into the wall behind.
He pulled the gun to my face. "Don't wanna listen? Well I have something for you." BOOM!
The bullet pierced the wall next to my head. I sank to the ground but he snatched me up, ripping the rest of my clothes apart angrily.
"You have no say!" He shouted. Forcing me against the wall, he unzipped his pants.
Screeching, I pushed him back, wrenching both captured arms and kicking his legs repeatedly. Somehow, my wrestling had no effect. He was unbeatable than ever, holding the gun to my head, threatening me to obey or lose my life—I'd rather…
"I'D RATHER DIE!" I screamed, punching him excessively to create distance between our bodies.
He slapped me, and my head tipped back, all emotions faded instantly, leaving me numb. Colors spanned my vision, white dust, green and blue, so many colors in the dark room that was nonexistent. He positioned himself against my pelvis, opening his pants wider. The cold wall stung the bleeding cuts on my back. My trembling legs couldn't keep me up for long and when I tumbled, he braced me evenly, keeping me transversal to his private.
But I'd rather die.
Tears blended the colorful room, faces of people I recognized succeeded.
Anzu-chan, Yugi, Tristan, Joey, Serenity… Mokuba…
I clenched my teeth. I'll never see them again. I'll never see daylight. I'll never see…Seto.
At this thought, my heart ached worse than the cuts on my body. The ingraining pain was fierce, charging any rationality from my brain. But I want to see him… I want to see him again. I want to see him so much… So much….
His fingers clamped around my throat, chocking my windpipe.
Suddenly, there was no color, or air. Just ragged, rough breathing against my face of the man who was trying to… Trying to…
Automatically, my hands gripped his wrist around my throat. Pinching my nails in his skin, I twisted his wrist. I'd rather die than be raped. Death is easier than this.
He forwarded the gun, moving the trigger as a warning. I resumed twisting his wrist. My arm slipped under his chin, it happened too quickly for him to notice, my nail grazed his Adams apple but the blow was enough to discourse his balance as the gun went off. He tripped backwards on his heel, leaving me stranded to the wall. Even with the option of dodging the bullet, I choose to stay in its path.
Whipping air slapped against my thigh, grazing the epidermis. Struggling to his feet, he advanced upon me immediately, knocking the gun against my face twice.
"Think you so smart? Huh?" Taunting, he chocked me. "Wanna try that again? Huh?"
I kicked him in between the legs. He hunched in pain, stumbling away. Raising the gun to my face, he fired the bullet. BOOM!
The bullet hit the ceiling.
Glaring, I took my chance, though unstable, snatched his arm with the gun. He resisted, cursing at me and grabbed a fistful of my hair, throwing me against the floor. Persistent, I was on my feet furiously lunging for the gun one more time. Trapping his legs under mine, I kneed him, rotating his arm behind his back. He pulled the trigger, setting it again. The bullet missed me by a hair.
Unalarmed, I tightened my restraint on the man. He bowed to the floor and rolled, dragging me along. I yanked him back forcefully, my hand snaking to the gun tucked under his arm. For a heartless second, his boring eyes sought mine. His distorted face was not one to be remembered, but I knew it would haunt me forever. Even if I ever lost my memory, this one face, would never let me sleep peacefully ever again.
Planting his feet firmly on the floor, he tackled me, thrusting me 7 steps back into the solid wall.
Our wrestling lasted for another few moments. Finally, he readied the gun to my abdomen, hissing breathlessly in my ear. "Get ready to say goodbye…"
With my arms trapped to my sides I leveraged my body, shoving myself around. My hand expertly fished the gun within his.
"Release the gun." He ordered. "You bitch! Listen to what I'm saying!" Impatiently grabbing for the gun, my hand slipped into the handle as he latched the head, shakily. "Let go of the gun!" Outrageously, he spat, tugging the weapon to himself.
The tug of war only ended seconds later. He stooped to thrust me back, making me lose balance. Precisely at the moment, my elbow banged on the wall. My index finger dipped on the trigger. His body flew and landed at my feet, raining blood over my head.
In my hand was the burning weapon that had killed the man.
Sprawled on his back, blood dressing his face and soaked shirt, was the man I killed.
I killed a man.
Staggering to my knees, I dropped the gun, hearing it bang on the concrete.
It must've been hours, maybe days later when the door finally opened. Men entered, finding me naked on the floor. Not too far away was the dead body of their comrade, with his blood on my body and the gun by my side, their raged eyes steered in resentment.
I waited for their curses and beating. In my state, no one would look upon with mercy. I understand their fury for hurting one of their own. Listening to the corpse dragged out of the room made me fill with intense dread. I looked at the gun and plunged it to my chest, pressing the trigger.
It should have been me.
Should have been me.
The empty barrel wheeled; click.
It had to be me.
I stared bitterly at the pointless gun. I wasn't even worthy of death anymore.
He was well on his way to healing, nurses changed his schedule, allowed him freedom around the hospital. He decided to make a visit to a certain region in Domino. Ashamoto leaned down the table, eyes fixed on the magazine. Tucking it in his jacket, he wandered out of the room.
If his superior learned of his fragile state of mind and behavior, surely he would've been fired and forced to leave Japan in search of another job, as none would be available to him. Katsu stared at the aged man sitting outside of the CEO's office patiently. He explained the man was busy, having no desire for unregistered meetings any time during the week. However the persistent man stated that even a mere second would suffice. The news he bore would deeply affect his superior regardless of his demanding schedule.
Katsu tried not to be nervous. He couldn't stop his shaking hands and legs. Dropping raggedly in a chair inside Kaiba's office, he tried his superior's number for the second time. The called reached the voicemail, gulping, Katsu recorded his message.
Debating quietly, Hiro glanced at the guard. "If you want I can meet with him and he'll be gone in no time." He handsomely assured.
Strangely, Hiro's comforting voice exaggerated Katsu's worry. Pacing in the office, he studiously kept his eye trained on his cell phone, eager for Kaiba's call.
It would be a good idea to let Hiro see the man, but Kaiba instructed him to follow orders. Any omitted rules would be deadly.
The message beeping rapidly denoted urgent news from Domino. I geared away from the army of associates, stepping outside in the dreary light.
Katsu answered his phone half way on the first ring. "Kaiba-sa-sama!" He gasped.
I clenched my teeth, fury controlling my tone, "I told you to call unless it's an emergency."
"But it is. There is a man who wishes to speak to you privately."
"I have no time to meet that bastard, evict him like you should!" I sneered.
"Kaiba-sama, he isn't from the same field. He said he has something you are searching for."
"Katsu…" I gritted. "You have ten seconds to hang up and deal with this matter according to the rules I relayed before." Sparing a chasing glare at the avenue, I continued, "While Hiro is in my chair, I don't exist."
"But—Kaiba-sama," Katsu grabbed his own head desperately, his feet running across the office, "He won't speak to no one but you!"
"Give him to Hiro!'
"But you said—"
"See to this matter or you will be disposed of," I growled.
Katsu banged open the office door. He darted to the waiting room and stopped upon the waiting man. "Kaiba-sama…if you ask me," He whispered shakily, "This man may be amongst the army you are with today. He looks…"
Ashamoto glanced at Katsu from the corner of his eye.
"Amongst the army…" A member of the black market?
Katsu's voice spoke again, "Kaiba-sama, please, spare a second, please," Quickly, he approached Ashamoto and handed him the phone.
I glared at the perimeter of the street. Fortunately, no one was on my trail. Elusively stepping on the sidewalk and deftly moving to a street corner, I raptly made a skimming turn into another. Major public facilities presented two succeeding streets on my route, eventually I was brushing past leather-skinned locals and short-legged women. Nagoya had a handful of café's and offices. I was able to blend successfully and arrived shortly at a small hooded café.
Sitting at a secluded table inside, I leaned intently to the phone. "Who the hell is this?"
"Ah, Kaiba-san," Chuckled a deep voice that unerringly sounded aged from alcohol. "Busy much?"
"The hell do you want?" I snapped irately.
"I guess surrounding yourself with the secret-half has done wonders to that calm persona of yours, the one you're famous for," Amusedly, the bastard continued, "Can't blame you, happens to all of us who've been there. You're taking a risk walking on broken bottles bare foot, Kaiba-san. May I ask whatever for? Something special?" Ashamoto glanced skeptically at the trembling guard. Leisurely, he treaded back into the waiting room and sank in the comfortable leather chair. From the folds of his jacket he retrieved a magazine for inspection. "Or… Should I say, someone special?"
This low-life was predictably annoying; I'd like nothing better than to drown him.
"Get to the point."
"I know what you're looking for. And I know where it is."
My hand on the table flattened, fanning heat marks on the surface. Who the hell is this, really?
"Hmph, I won't fall for your tricks. Whoever hired you, I'll see to it you don't face daylight from this day forward—"
"Not so fast." Ashamoto closed the magazine. Lifting his skeptical gaze on Katsu, he tossed the man the magazine and gestured him to take a look. "I have a feeling the information I have is indispensible to you, Kaiba-san, considering your unappealing circumstances—don't ask how I know but if rumors have a say in this world and yours—let's pretend there are things not even you want the world to know, but an insignificant stranger like me does know. And I'm positive that you are nowhere close to finding her."
He means Euneya.
He is talking about Euneya.
This bastard knows Euneya.
The pressure of my fingers decreased. My vision moved across the café fleetingly and I glared back at the sugar bottle and napkins, scripts fogged, words illegible, Euneya… He was talking about Euneya. I rubbed my forehead with my fingertips slowly.
"For… The last time," I attempted to speak with patience that was impossible for me at the mention of the subject, "Who are you?" My hoarse voice sounded unnatural to my ears, it was a plea, and the man recognized it efficiently.
"I saw the tabloids, very impressive but why do you want to risk your life over something like her? You can have anyone you want." Ashamoto didn't pause, "My point is, if what is stated in the tabloids factual, you'd be worried about your missing girlfriend, pretty simple. That is how I reached to the assumption that you are searching for her—a word of advise to you," He whispered, pulling my ears into the speaker aggressively by the tensed news, "The world you are in doesn't need inexperienced lackeys. You don't stand a chance in that world. Come back to your own while you can—"
I couldn't stand this any more. My fist reacted and swept the tray of napkins and sugar on the floor. "TELL ME HER LOCATION!"
His pause kept me on my feet, my feral gaze steadied on the blank wall of the exit. No one was in sight, not to my eyes.
Finally, his breathing returned to the speaker. "I just came back from seeing her. Fool that she is thought to help me escape," He cursed, "She got caught instead of me! She'd have to be worth some value, damaging her body wouldn't help the business prosper." He silenced for a moment.
I was clutching the table end with aching fingers, teeth clenched. "I won't…repeat."
"You'd have to do something for me if I give you her location."
"Pay my hospital bills."
Glaring at the chairs, I waited for him to continue.
"Men like me don't get stuff for free like you people. And the rest… I'll tell you after I think about it,"
"Fine." I spat uncontrollably, "Tell me her location."
"It's called the 'Blue Moon' Only the gods in the business go there, virtually impenetrable by public, very prominent in the under world, very exclusive, but it's famous for its services, and ladies—the best. I don't need to tell you why they took her there—but the business is hungry, she is young and new. A poor lamb like her will be eaten alive…" A contemplative silence ensued.
"You'll get your arrangement. Don't ever show yourself at my company again." Mechanically, I hung up. Employees guardedly stood by my table, eyeing me suspiciously. I glared at the mess and reached in my pocket, dispensing cash on my way out.
To conceal my identity I need to dispose the cell phone I had brought with me on the trip. Katsu promised to call on dire situations. If it weren't for his tenacious instincts I'd miss the uncovering of Euneya's location. Blue Moon, if the club is prominent why haven't I heard of it?
Sora looked well rested when I saw him in the afternoon. His thick combed white hair and charging dark eyes reminded me of the day we first met in Domino, the day we founded our contract to enter the black market, using my online foundations, stocks and his company. Noticing me, his gaze widened and his bottom lip frowned. The stillness of the hotel room made me cease my steps to survey him, it was the first time he resembled the typical age of a 60 year old, wrinkly and fragile looking. In the presence of women, he seemed 30.
"Where were you?" Sora asked automatically.
He had no reason to know my business—never did. Imagine if he did learn my origins from Kaiba Corp. and influence in Domino, he was too damned proud to cry if my secret divulged, perhaps he would be furious. I poured myself a drink at the bar. "Some business obligations needed attention." My calculative answer received a faint smirk. "Are there specifics we haven't experienced yet?"
Sora's brows rose, "Experienced? You have every amenity at your heel and elbow. What do you want now?" He gestured for a glass.
I poured him one and handed it swiftly, taking a seat by the window across the luxurious suite. "I've heard there is more to the market, more than stocks, drugs, gamble, women—some of them are exclusive, hardly mentioned to investors like us."
Sora's eyes flashed instantly, he fingers tightened on the amber liquid glass. "We have invested too much in the business. Yet there are things kept from us? Is there?" Grimly, he pushed his drink on the table. Falling royally in the leather sofa, he studied me expectedly. "What did you hear?"
I answered undecidedly, contemplating observances like any ordinary investor yearning to reach the pinnacle—like the gods the man on the phone mentioned.
"Since we've been doing some charity work why doesn't the business do something for us in return? Locations are being kept from us. Aren't we trustful?" I inquired, noting the lucidity in Sora's expression twist to livid.
"Locations?" His chin jutted at the word. "Kept secret? From us?" It was a blow to his pride. Sora depended on recognition for his loyal services to the market during the last decade. A man in his position knew every inch and layer. Yet upon questioning the depravity of trust and hidden sources unknown to investors like him—he was too prideful to remain quiet—a restless person like Sora would immediately leap for answers.
Judging by his displeasure from the announcement, I continued in the same tone, expressing doubt, "Doing business with new companies is a form of trust. Sora, your company has been in the field for ages, and possibly things were kept from you—mainly stocks that are attainable. Is this a method of preventing you from lucrative pastures other stockholders and associates already grasp? What policy states you can't access the mainframe of the business, new and old associates—You, being one of them?"
His eyes turned black by the implications. "This was always a dirty field, my friend." His eyes narrowed, Sora rubbed his chin, "But you did indicate notable points, I haven't realized how they underestimate me. This last month I've been their highest customer. Plugging out businesses is my forte. Out lookers like me don't notice these things, you see. I do agree that all amenities should be offered to every single associate in the market. What locations are hidden from us?" He urgently demanded, "How do you figure?"
I smirked languidly; it was time to plant the seed. "I overheard a conversation at the club last night, about some plan to meet at certain locations tonight. One of the places…" Squinting my eyes, I tipped my empty glass thoughtfully.
"What place?" Sora shot up. "Where? Do you remember?"
"I'm justly accurate it was Labyrinth… or…" Steadily watching fervor seep in his expression, I added, "Blue Moon."
"A meeting tonight?" Repeated Sora, he glared at the floor, "Tonight then…"
He flung to the telephone to call one of his errand boys. A boy entered momentarily, bowing toward Sora. "Find this place: Labyrinth, and Blue Moon. Don't let anyone know what you're doing. If you find out, come directly here. One of us—" Sora between myself and him, "Will be waiting. This is urgent business. Find one location by tonight."
"Hai!" The boy bowed quickly exited.
Sora stared at the shut door. "The advantage to having one of those boys is that they can easily get in and out; always accessible to associates. It's faster for them to learn news from the network than some of us. They serve us but have no liability in the business like we do. Consider them innocent, but only I know how meaningful they can be." He smirked at me. "Keep doing what you do. Once we find the meeting location, we'll go tonight. I want to see with my own eyes what was hidden from me and who is accountable."
While Sora set about his efforts to search for locations, I contacted Colére and met him at one of his fine resorts in west Nagoya. He floated on a stream of gold. Skilled in gambling, good grips with the underground mainframe and pervading many of the clubs with reputation, seeking Colére was a ready-made choice. He wasn't surprised or excited to the meeting.
Sizing me testily, Colére said cuttingly. "I get the feeling this isn't part of our usual negotiations."
I seated myself in a chair under his watchful stare. "You've been hiding sources." I accused.
Colére chuckled, "Secrets are just your thing, Kaiba-sama. Your identity is a secret in the black market. Isn't that a fair deal?"
"If I have access to every part of the market, I'll consider increasing my investments."
"Let me remind you, it isn't a one-man-deal, victory yields to one person not all."
"How many locations are hidden?"
Colére averted, "Locations uncommitted to the public and visible to long-term investors. In general, not you." He sighed, "Even if you did know, how will you hide your identity there? Every one of the businessmen is mightier than us. It's fortunate you haven't been recognized yet."
I leaned on my elbows, searching his countenance, "What makes the majority of these hidden clubs?"
"Majority." Colére frowned, "Typical black market goons and sharks. It belongs to them not us. They hold more control in the business than we do."
That was all I needed to determine her location, enough to acknowledge she had at one point, been to Blue Moon—taken by sharks. It was only a matter of time before the place is found. If Euneya still lives, under what circumstances… If she is still there, I may be able to see for myself.
"You've been to the locations, with your gambling skill it's undeniable." I remarked.
Colére laughed, "So I have! And I'm your guide to the secluded regions, hmm?"
I didn't conceal my intent. "Since you know my plans, don't waste my time."
"Still calling the shots, are you?" Warningly, he wagged a finger at me, "If I do let you in, what do I get?"
"See it through with Sora, as of this moment, he controls our stocks." I glanced at the maitre and the drinks she set on the table, bowing, she departed to the throes of workers.
"Throwing caution to the wind, why?" Colère eyed me sinisterly, "Not like you at all, Kaiba-sama—not in the least…"
"Like I said, I hate wasting time." Standing up, I didn't extract a hand to shake his. Colére's thorough stare was replaced by a turbidity we both shared. For a second, our gazes remained and finally he rose, gesturing me goodbye.
Westin Nagoya Castle
One of the receptionists approached him in the lobby. Kaiba raised a brow at the short woman, bowing before delivering the parchment and excused herself back to her post. Scanning the region, his eyes strayed to a peculiar figure sitting on the lounges, alone. Scoffing absently at the note, he approached the lounging area. At the leather couch, he reviewed the nearly deserted area and kicked the side, alarming the individual.
She looked up sharply, eyes shielded by dark glasses and her long hair combed neatly behind her ear. Registering him, her astonished expression blossomed into one of pleasure.
"Wrong." Kaiba tossed her the damn note. "I don't have patience for improvised dates with idiotic women."
Huffing under her breath, she grounded her heels and stood up, almost matching his extreme height. Kisara removed her glasses, glaring. "Idiotic women? Who said I was asking for a date—" Pointedly looking at the unfolded note, she scoffed, "You never read this huh?"
"A waste of my time." He was about to walk away but she snatched his sleeve.
"I have news for you."
Breaking contact, Kaiba loomed above her threateningly. "Your boss sure is flexible on your part, letting you roam and stalk clients on a daily basis," Repulsed glare seized her, he continued, "Stop displaying your worthlessness and live subtly so I don't have to remember your hideous niche."
"For a man who inhabits our facilities regularly, you really want to be pompous about your range of work?" Kisara smirked, "Don't you know, you are the target of my boss. So meeting you is part of my job." Folding her arms, she smiled, "In the meantime, I came to tell you he wants to see you tonight."
His eyes narrowed distrustfully, a shadow crept under his blue eyes overwhelmed with unknown emotion. "Why suddenly…Tonight?" Kaiba murmured.
"After being curious about your intentions, he wants to meet you in person. What do you say?"
He didn't know why but his entire body was paralyzed with discomfort. Colère warned him of Soji's little spy—the wolf. As of now his unknown identity wasn't alarming but the basis of the form of obstacle he will be to undermine Kaiba, for whatever reasons. The man couldn't be trusted. Kaiba regarded her sturdily. Neither can she be trusted. Yet, if she had wanted she could've not told him her boss's plan.
"He wasn't peeved by your unsuccessful seduction?"
Her cheeks turned bright red, "Lets not stray from the topic." Kisara muttered warningly, searching the lobby hastily, "I don't have much time. I need an answer. If you're coming, meet me at the hotel entrance at 7:00 pm, on the dot." She whirled around, her heels scatting the glossy floor.
Kaiba's formidable arm clenched the side of her left arm. Blinking, Kisara turned to look at him stupidly, unsure of the reason behind his action. He was looking at the entering guests passively, as if he was tired of looking at their faces all day.
"Who is your boss?" He hissed under his breath.
Kisara matched his deadly glare. "Someone with loyalty and genius, that's all I can say,"
He scowled down at her pale face. "Name."
"Last time you weren't so eager to know but I'll give it to you anyway," She beamed, "Kisara."
Placing a finger on his lips, she cut in, "Why ruin the peace? Can't we be civil regardless of whom we work for?" She stumbled back three steps, her ankle almost twisting by the overpowering shove.
Letting his hand land against his side, Kaiba regarded her blankly. "I'll meet him on one condition." He said suddenly.
Her eyes flashed elatedly, "So you agree?" Kisara stepped toward him. "What condition?"
"I pick the location."
Leisurely, she folded her arms, gazing at the designs on her coat. "I don't see harm in the condition. Where?" Kisara looked up.
"Blue Moon." He paid careful attention to the widening of her eyes.
She looked suffocated, the fiery color of her cheeks spurned by sickly blue, the frowning line of her lips deepened in the gaping silence. Kisara looked away immediately, "How… Do you know about Blue Moon? You aren't a—"
"Sora." He implied, "Has been in the business longer than I. Since your boss knows my identity, he'll predict the risk I'm taking to go there. That will be the ultimate test."
Kisara studied him, "Why are you doing this? Risking yourself?"
"I never falter in the face of challenge." Lifting his eyes from the floor, Kaiba smirked amusedly, correcting himself, "This isn't a challenge, not for Seto Kaiba."
Kisara shuddered under the fierceness of his gaze. She had never met anyone with such violent fortitude. He was in actuality a disguised man, desperate to reveal himself despite consequences. Not a hair in her body understood his motives. His desire to relinquish easily in the hands of her boss was ridiculous, but if he really wanted to risk everything, like he said, something crucial persuaded him. He was Seto Kaiba, concealed as one of Sora's faithful associates in the black market.
Quietly moving toward him, Kisara delved his stormy blue eyes. "Why Blue Moon?"
"That's none of your concern."
She expected his response and halfheartedly laughed, "If only I wasn't curious," Reading his deadened expression, Kisara whispered, "I don't know what you're planning but I don't suggest revealing your identity. Blue Moon…" Her eyes turned solemn, "Will kill you. Domino will have the pleasure of learning your mysterious disappearance and no one will ever know what happened to you, no matter how powerful you are, Seto Kaiba. In Blue Moon, there is no Seto Kaiba, just an investor, a gambler, a man with lustful interests—keep it simple will you?" Having made herself clear, Kisara left the lobby. Her angry footsteps thundered on the smooth floor and halted at the exit, seconds before a concierge swung open her limo door. Never forgetful, her eyes returned to the man standing back inside the lobby.
She couldn't understand him. He was stupid for wanting to meet at Blue Moon.
Sora stood 2 feet behind him with 3 guards at his sides. Meeting the man's glare, Kaiba nodded knowingly as he walked past him to the elevators.
"What appointment was it that you needed to have behind my back?" Asked Sora curtly, watching Kaiba stop from the corner of his eye.
"I've become a quick fascination to an escort. Is visiting her favorite client wrong?" Wolfishly, Kaiba smirked over his shoulder. "She claims its part of her job. But you've been in the business longer than I have, you might know more than I do."
Sora's eyes narrowed, "If I find… You are hiding something from me, you will not live a peaceful life!"
His fists slid inside his pocket, casually, Kaiba approached his elderly associate. "Have I done anything to cause mistrust, Sora?"
Sora blinked and thoughtfully looked away, "Tsukami—you shouldn't feign that dexterity so early in the field. You will draw unwanted attention; make it uncomfortable for me too. Think about what I've told you, I'm leaving." He strode out of the lobby with his trailing guards. Within moments, Kaiba watched him step inside his vehicle and leave.
"Yuu-sama," Began his guard, sitting on the left of the limo, "What convinced you Tsukami-sama is planning things behind your back?"
Sora fingered his chin, eyes drinking the passing scenery of the streets. "It's not a conviction. If there is proof…" He clenched his teeth. Ever since receiving a strange phone call to his hotel, he hadn't been himself.
"What makes you think Tsukami isn't doing anything behind your back?"
"He can be meeting associates—sharpening knives to cut you off your golden track, Sora… Take care for no one will, not even that Tsukami you hold close. After all, what do you know about him? He is new but we know the reason you kept him to yourself is because of his cunning talent of mixing with the crowd. He is easy to get along with, am I correct? But a new toy – can always break.
"Break him before he slays you."
"Who is this?" Sora screeched at the telephone. "Who is calling my room at this hour?"
"…Hehehehe…. Remember what I told you, Sora Yuu. Look at Tsukami as a predator will, and you will find what he hides. Tsukami isn't a man to be trusted no matter how much of a fledging he is in the market. Click—"
The undeniable truth lay in the fact that he didn't know much about his business associate and comrade—Tsukami. He had no reason to mistreat him but a faint suspicion trigged deep in his blood at the sight of him talking to the woman in the lobby. Knowing his reticent nature and distance with women, he was certain there was a hidden motive to the quick meeting or Tsukami wouldn't hold a grain of interest toward her.
Sora glared at his guard. "Send someone to watch Tsukami," He ordered, "I want details of everywhere he goes, and whom he meets,"
"Hai, Yuu-sama." Nodded the guard obediently before opening his cell phone to inform an underling.
For your own good. Sora blinked outside the window with a frown, I hope, Tsukami you better not have anything to hide from me. Or I will not forgive you.
"Ichirou," Sora scowled at the guard. "Did you trace the strange phone call I received at four in the morning?"
"Hai, the call was from within the hotel. Room number 360."
Sora's eyes widened. "I was being spied." He realized.
The vehicle arrived promptly at 7:00 pm at the hotel entrance. Kaiba unbuttoned his jacket before heading outside. Her silhouette shifted within the tinted windows, probably scanning the lobby to see if he kept to his word. In slight amazement, Kisara blinked at the approaching man who stepped back before the valet unlocked the passenger door.
Kaiba's brown hair clung to his forehead, covering his eyes as he ducked his head to sit inside. Once the door closed, Kisara fisted her hands across her thighs. Sitting next to him, she eyed his profile. "Are you sure about this?"
"Doesn't your curious boss want to meet me?" He folded his arms, face averted to the windows.
"There is still time," Kisara sat up, grabbing his arm anxiously, " 'Blue Moon' isn't the safest place to meet."
"Hm-hm-hm…" Kaiba chuckled coldly. "I wondered often about your interest in me. Knowing my identity helped you soar to new heights, always jumping to my rescue, and playing the middleman. Your worth must be incomparable."
Retracting her hand, Kisara turned away. "What do you take me for? I was trying to make sure you were—"
Watching her from the corner of his eye, he cut her off with a hiss. "Playing both sides was shrewd thinking on your part. I don't give warnings but I'm not in the mood to play guesswork so I'll say it clearly. You aren't the only one with schemes up your sleeve. If your boss thinks he has me cornered, he is sorely wrong."
"I was trying to look out for you." Kisara muttered coolly. "Going to 'Blue Moon' isn't a good idea! Not for your fake identity and especially for Semm—" He shoved a hand on her mouth.
"No one can be trusted, don't you get it?" He growled. Shoving her against the door, he reached for a handkerchief to wipe his hands.
Ruiji patted the cushioned seat next to him on the chaise, his wolfish smile deepened with silver polished eyes glittering in amusement. "Come sit here…" He welcomed, "Next to me."
Nudged forward against her will by Nero, Euneya shakily moved to the center of the room from the shadows. The wool jacket covering her shoulders felt heavier than a load of rocks. Her bones ached, head throbbed, and heart palpitated with each mind-gritting second in his presence. Hollow olive eyes stared stonily at the floor as she carried herself closer.
Leaning back, Ruiji smirked. "Look at you," He spat abhorrently, "The difference in you from the day you voluntarily came to me, and today. Seems like two different people have inhabited the same body."
Without a will, she slumped on the floor. Trembling palms slammed the cold floor as dots of moisture dripped from her blurry vision. Every part of her shook soullessly. A walking corpse, not a sound echoed from her mind, the familiar conscience and wit she clung to had long disappeared. Quivering speechlessly, Euneya raggedly sobbed. The disturbing sound rang alarmingly like a wounded animal screeching for help or quicker death.
Ruiji leisurely rose and knelt in front of her. Rubbing her back, he mocked. "Euneya has lived a hard life, hasn't she? If your parent's were wise enough to repay me, you wouldn't have to endure any of it. But, unfortunately, they didn't think of you first," Brushing his hand upward, he patted her head as it trembled under his palm. "How about it… Giving up? Don't fight it anymore. We are too strong for you. The more you struggle, the harder it'll be to overcome me."
Weeping pathetically, she cowered as he continued. "When you were younger, it wasn't too difficult. You knew about our business but you didn't fight us. Why now? What for? What could have you now you didn't before?" Ruiji idly glanced down at her form. "How about it?"
Tipping a head, she struggled to breath and bobbed her head once.
"Good girl…" He crooned, satisfied. "Now you know how tough it is to survive with us. You made the right choice." Ruiji stood up and glanced at Nero. "Get her ready. She will come with me to Blue Moon tonight."
Ichirou swiftly hurried to Sora's side to murmur in his ear. "Tsukami left the hotel at 7 pm. He was taken to an underground lead."
Scowling, Sora turned around. "Where is it?"
"The location is hidden in the district. He was accompanied by the woman he met earlier at the lobby, Yuu-sama."
Clenching his fists, he glared at the guard. "Get the car ready. I want to know whom he is dealing with. Is he trying to oust me?"
"Right away, Yuu-sama." Ichirou darted back toward the parking lot.
"Wait, Ichirou." Sora called with a foreign uneasiness in his tone. I'm sure whoever called my room was spying on Tsukami too. Whoever it is… isn't only targeting me but considers Tsukami a threat. "Where did he go? Do you know?"
"It's called the 'Blue Moon', Yuu-sama," He bowed.
Sora's eyes widened. "Not—that…!" Astonished, he quickly strode back to the parking lot. He did mention the name before. It's said to be one of the highest and secluded clubs in the market. How did Tsukami find it?
Copyright Nur Misurr
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~ Tsukami: Kaiba's sobriquet. The next chapter will focus on Kaiba and Euneya's relationship. Thank you for your long-lasting support!