After the Liar Game Tournament, Nao had expected to move on with her life. Sure, she would have her difficulties, but she'd survive. She'd been through worse.
But things just seemed to be spiraling downward fast.
The footsteps outside sounded as if there were more than two men, possibly even four. Akiyama had deep regrets for choosing to go out today.
"I'm sorry." Akiyama pushed Nao behind him and considered his options carefully. "If I refused your invitation you would not have been involved."
They were beating at the door now, and in the distance Nao could hear the shrieking of her landlady and then ominous silence. She could only hope that she had called the police in time.
Akiyama wasn't about to take that chance, and pulled out his own phone and began to dial. His conversation was muddled by the fierce yells filtering in from outside. Nao wondered if it would make any difference at all.
The call ended just as soon as the door flew off from it's hinges.
A group of men stood at the door, all with the same grim sneer and metal pole. While the two boys from before were present, two large and burly men in their early twenties stood behind them, functioning as muscle.
"Didn't think things through, did you?" The pickpocket asked, his face bandaged slightly from earlier that day. "I'm surprised. It's not like you."
Nao had never seen Akiyama truly violent. During the third round she had only seem him briefly lose it; and though she had doubts that it was all an act, Nao had always believed that Akiyama was a calm and centered individual.
But seeing him with the bat in hand unnerved her. Nao hated violence, and she had never seen anyone close to her act out physically.
"Aren't you going to pay us back?" One of the men behind the pickpocket asked. "The boss sure didn't expect you to go up and easy on us."
Akiyama was quiet, and though Nao knew it was probably not the best time to pry, she did so anyways.
"Money?" Frankly, the girl was surprised that anyone would involve themselves with debt after what they had been through, especially Akiyama.
"I already paid your boss back, in full… with interest." He responded, tapping the bat on the floor. The thugs before Akiyama and Nao didn't seem the least bit frightened.
"Hmph. Whatever you say or have done-" The pickpocket sneered. "-is completely irrelevant. You were late, and the boss charges special interest for those late."
Nao peered over Akiyama's shoulder, confused. He looked at her quickly and mouthed a sorry.
Akiyama charged forward, but feinted to the left and batted a chair across the room towards the men at the door. It tripped them up, allowing Akiyama to shout directions to Nao.
"Climb out the window!"
She looked at him confused. She lived on the second story.
"There's a ledge, isn't there?" Akiyama clarified, taking up the bat and striking the pickpocket's friend in the side. But one man was able to parry his blow and sent Akiyama to the ground. "GO!"
Nao thought twice, but ran over to the window, slipping out. She nearly screamed when she slipped, but managed to grab hold of the window sill. Nao looked down, noting that the ledge was only a few inches wide. One wrong step and she'd fall right down. But what choice did she have? There wasn't any way down but to fall.
"GET THE GIRL!" The pickpocket yelled, and Nao found one of the menacing muscle men prying at her fingers upon the windowsill. She batted them away, and soon found herself falling backward.
A prickly bush broke her fall, and a curse from the man above echoed out the window. He tried to fit himself through the window, but his broad shoulders were unable to give him an accurate jump. He retreated back.
"AKIYAMA-SAN!" Nao shouted amidst the sound of struggles from within the room, some which she could only vaguely hear.
"DAMN!" Nao heard the pickpocket swear violently and a blur jump out the window. She screamed, surprised at the sudden descent of another body.
Akiyama cursed, falling on his ankle painfully. He ignored it, but he limped as he came over to Nao.
"We need to leave." He told her, failing to jog at a pace he found suitable away from the building. Nao took his arm, letting him lean against her. "We need to go far away."
The two slipped through a hole in the back fence, taking a small alley into the main street a few blocks away.
They walked in silence, and quickly, for they heard the calling shouts of the men looking for them in the sprawl of Nao's confusing neighborhood.
"Who were those people?" Nao asked finally, mindful of every possible blindspot she could have around herself. Every elderly lady dropping her bag, every child playing tag in the street… they all caused her to take a double take from the movement at her side. "Why do you owe them money?"
They reached a bus stop just one pulled up. They boarded, and when the two had seated themselves in the back Nao realized that Akiyama had been hit quite a few more times in other places.
He was badly injured. The bus driver gave them both a look and suggested a bus route from the next stop that would take them to the hospital. Akiyama politely declined.
"I made arrangements." He began, scooting them both away from the window in case any of the men looking for them saw their profile's from the window. "After the second round, I realized there had to be a contingency plan should anything go wrong."
To Nao it made sense, but not that he owed a bunch of criminals money.
"It wasn't costly, and I paid most of it up front." Akiyama grimaced when Nao checked a wound on his arm. "But when one of the rounds took too long, I was unable to make a payment."
"But you said you paid them back." Nao interrupted.
Akiyama nodded. "I did, and even if I hadn't it shouldn't have been a problem."
Nao asked why.
"The leader was a… sort of ally in prison."
Nao couldn't help but wonder what a prisoner like Akiyama was like. She imagined someone like himself would make enemies, but also she could see him making a friend or two…
"But then why-?"
Akiyama shook his head. "I'm not sure why he changed his mind. It doesn't make sense. I think there is a problem within his gang."
Nao couldn't see how it was fair that he was dragged in.
The bus jolted to a sudden stop, making the two lurch forward in their seats.
Akiyama leapt up from his seat, standing in the aisle.
In the front of the bus was one of the muscle men from earlier.
"They must be stopping all the busses that pass nearby." Akiyama concluded, lying low. He peered out the windows, and noticed that a few more men had joined the group; two of which had surrounding the bus.
There was nowhere to hide.
A lady in the front screamed when one of the men boarded the bus, brandishing a stick and peering threateningly down the aisle way. He spotted Akiyama, and ran down the way with a scream.
Akiyama had nothing to defend himself with, but managed to throw a punch in.
The man, after fumbling from a cunning punch, was able to land a clear hit on Akiyama's head with the stick.
Nao watched, horrified and with a scream as Akiyama fell to the floor in a immobile heap.
"Now… we can do this the easy way… or the-" The man stopped, and kind of laughed at himself before getting serious. "Well, you get the point, don't you girly? We're getting tired of chasing you two. Best come right with us."
Nao didn't see any use in arguing, and soon found herself being grabbed by the shoulder and pulled out of the bus.
The driver looked at her with a pitiful stare. There was sorrow and regret in his eyes for not being able to do anything.
Nao forgave him. He had done nothing wrong.
She watched as Akiyama was dragged from the bus with little care, and the muscle man from before accidentally (or perhaps not) smacked his head on the door of the bus before they made it out.
They walked in silence for a block, and disappeared down an alley. Onlookers were shot wicked glares, and they all went on their way.
It really made Nao feel quite bad. She would have called the police if she had seen such a horrible scene.
A van awaited them on the other side of the alley.
One of the men pulled a door open and pushed Nao inside, placing Akiyama beside her in the seat. In his unconsciousness, Akiyama's head slumped to her shoulder.
When the door slammed shut, Nao let herself look forward to the person sitting before her.
Shock encompassed her, staring upon the face of Fukunaga himself.