Yayyay I'm back! Wow, never thought I'd be sofast to write this chapter, though I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. Ai's life in the anime, in the manga is, in one word, tragic. I thought I'd keep it like this. Just hope this wasn't overdone...oh well, just read and tell me!!
Thanks for the reviews by the way. I've wrote half of this chapter after reading one :) This story won't last a few chapters much, I'm thinking around three more and the end...but i'm not there yet :D
I still don't own Hell Girl. Otherwise, it would be a RenAi
"She was seven when her parents died. She was at my place, playing with voodoo dolls, pretending to be the 'Hell Girl', coming to collect souls on earth. Her parents…I was their gardener, and I use to baby-sit her when they were out. This time, they were supposed to go for the grocery shop; but they never made it back. I remember it as if it was yesterday."
The bell rang, signalling someone was out on the porch, waiting. Wanyuudo got up, still keeping an eye on the little girl pointing at her doll, whispering in a cold but amused way: 'Ippen Shinde Miru?'. Her parents had left the day before, but still hadn't come back. When the man opened the door, he saw the sight of a police uniform.
"How can I help you sir?" he asked, walking towards the newcomer, hoping he would bring new of his employers.
The policeman bowed in respect before announcing:
"I'm afraid I have to report the death of Mr and Mrs Enma. An unfortunate accident in town…we need some relative to identify the body. I'm sorry for your loss."
Wanyuudo could only stare, wide-eyed. A small hand slipping into his brought him back to reality. Ai was looking up at him, trying to understand why he was so upset.
"I'm sorry Ojou" he whispered "But Domo sama isn't coming back."
Her eyes widen in understanding –the little girl would never cease to amaze him, and she asked in a trembling voice:
"What about Okaasan?"
"She won't neither. I'm sorry Ojou, I'm so sorry."
"I've never see her smile for real after that" Wanyuudo whispered, tightening his grip on his cup. Ren bit his lower lip, understanding the little girl's feeling at the time. When he lost his own parents, he hardly talked to anyone for days.
"She couldn't stay with me, even though I asked for custody. I was a good candidate, but they say it would be easier if she lived with people she wasn't used to see, you know, to forget" he added bitterly. "Luckily, Domo sama had a younger brother working in the police, Sentarô Shibata. He had always been fond of her, and he allowed me to visit her from time to time. He had a son himself, Takuma. Well, Takuma wasn't his real child. Shibata-san adopted him when he married his mother. She was a very nice lady, but she fell ill and died within weeks. Ai and Takuma bounded very quickly, given their similar experience."
When Wanyuudo arrived at the front door, he hesitated. What if coming to visit Ojou was a mistake? What if he was only bringing back old wounds? He didn't have time to think further, the door opened, revealing a grinning Sentarô.
"Oh, Wanyuudo-san! Please come in! The kids and I were having tea, care to join us?"
The man hesitated before stepping in and taking off his hat.
"Won't I…" he started, wondering if he'd bothered them.
"Not at all. In fact, Ai was waiting for you. She stood at the window all morning, repeating that you would be coming today. I think she was starting to lose hope" he chuckled, inviting him to follow him through his small but clean house. When they arrived in the kitchen, Wanyuudo saw both children –now nine –eating peacefully a piece of toast and jam. The picture was so unreal to him; he had to blink a few times before accepting it. Ai's head lifted when her uncle came back and her expressions soften when she saw him. Even a small smile started to grow on her lips.
"Wanyuudo" she greeted him, starting to get up. "Would you like some tea? Ojisan had just done some."
The man was so relieved he could cry. The last time he came, somewhere around six months ago, she wouldn't have smiled at all. The blank face, even after a little more than a year, had remained despite the multiple efforts to cheer her up. At that time, Sentarô had told him how worried he was; she hadn't stopped playing "Hell Girl", this time summoning the names of the responsible for her parent's death. He had told him about some nights, she wouldn't stop crying, pleading ghosts to go away and leave her alone. Wanyuudo knew why it scared him so much. Despite her young age, she was developing her medium's power. And Sentarô, being a cop and a normal human, couldn't do anything about it.
After the tea time, Wanyuudo stayed with her a few hours. She talked little, but everything she said revealed something; how better she was feeling, how glad she was to see him again, how much control she gathered since the last time she saw him, how many souls she managed to set free…Wanyuudo was relieved.
"I never thought it could endanger her life at some point" the old man sighed, shaking his head. "One day, I had a call from Sentarô-san, saying they were moving within the week because Ai had witnessed a murder…or rather she talked with the victim's soul, who told her the name of his murderer."
When Wanyuudo entered the new living room, she was sitting on the couch, a blank look on her face, eyes staring at nothing in front of her.
"They got the wrong person, Wanyuudo" she whispered. "Yuuhi-sama told me; Yuki-san wouldn't have taken his life. He told me her boyfriend was jealous, even of her own brother. I told Sentarô."
"Did he believe you?" the former gardener asked, sitting next to her.
She nodded quietly.
"He said he was going to try. He liked Yuuhi-sama. I've met him once. But I don't think Ojisan will find any evidence. Gohei de Ronfer has a brother, a medium too. He helped him destroy most of them."
Then, she looked up at him. Wanyuudo saw the wonder in her eyes and he realized what it meant. She was silently asking for his help. That's when he knew. He knew his life would be dedicated to the young ten-year old girl. Her parents took him in after the loss of his wife. The child was his only family left.
"She asked me to be their gardener for a while, as a sort of spy. The Ronfer brothers had this large garden that really needed to be taken care. I found the weapon buried under a rose plantation, and reported it to the police. Gohei was arrested, put to jail, and soon committed suicide –remorse, they say. But never did Gil, his younger brother, forgive Ai. He somehow knew she was indirectly responsible for Gohei's arrest and took it very bad…And God, he did have his revenge."
Wanyuudo picked up the phone ringing on his table.
"Wanyuudo" said Ai's voice at the other end. The old man jumped at her tone. The same tone she had when she lost her parents.
"Ojou! What happened!?"
"Could you come over the hospital please?"
To anyone else, her voice could have sounded calm and composed. But to his trained ears, she was on the verge of tears. And he was there in no time. It hadn't been hard to find where she was. The third flood was full of policemen running around. Some of them looked pale; shocked. Others were grieving. Ai was sitting on a bench, her clothes tainted by blood. Wanyuudo rushed at her side.
"What happened Ojou? Tell me what happened!"
That's when tears started rolling off her eyes. She threw herself on him, hugging him for the first time, face buried in his shoulder, crying, crying like she never did before.
"They're dead, Wanyuudo. He shot Ojisan first. Then, he aimed at Takuma. There was so much blood. So much blood…"
Her sobs were swallowed by his outfit, as he tried to calm her. From his position, he could see inside a room two bodies, covered with a blanket. No need to be a genius to guess who they belonged to. Then he realized she had been a direct witness to the scene. The hit was directly aimed at her. Why would leave her alive if it wasn't for…
"Ojou; was it Gil de Ronfer?"
She nodded in his clothes.
"But I can't say it. He'll kill even more. I saw it in his eyes. He'll kill for his brother and get away with it, with his powers. They are screaming for revenge, but I can't do anything"
Wanyuudo knew what the 'they' meant. The souls refusing to go to heaven. They would come to Ai for help. Hospitals were bad for her, how could he forget?
"Let's go, Ojou. Let's go home."
She shook her head as she pulled away.
"I still have to appease them first" she whispered. "Or they'll be suffering so much more. Ronfer's psychic power is strong, he tried to send their souls to Hell…I interfered in time…they were screaming, Wanyuudo, and I couldn't do anything about it."
The disappointment in her eyes was evident. The gardener smiled sadly.
"You cannot save everyone, Ojou. I know you've done your best. I…Tell me whatever you need; you know I'll do my best."
She nodded, thanking him with her heavy gaze, and walked up to the two relatives laying down on a cold table, for one last prayer.
Ren's knuckles were white from being tightened. He felt anger rising in his chest, and his breathing accelerated. Nevertheless, the old man ignored his state and went on:
"We've met Tsuyu-san a few days later. Ojou had brought her back from the park; I assume she told you what happened."
Ren nodded slowly, trying to slow down his boiling resentment. What prevented him to just get up, go to the trash's house and slice his head off with his sword? Wanyuudo sighed.
"I've met a lot of people since then" he whispered. "I've seen people trying to take advantage of her, trying to help or be helped. She's fifteen now, but she's still a child. Ishimoku-san, please accept my request. I'm not the man I use to be. I'm getting old, and my strength is weakening. Please, protect her. Since she came back from your house, she's longing for something. I know she found something here, in your place, with your presence. I've never seen Ojou going back to one of the place she stayed shortly. She likes being here, I can feel it…so if anything happens to me, don't turn your back on her. Please support her with all your might…"
The old man's words made his anger increase if possible. Why did life have to be so cruel with such a sweet little thing? He hadn't known her for long, but she didn't deserve to be treated like this. Ren had to lower his head to glare at the table. Of course he'll protect her! With or without Wanyuudo around, he would protect her.
A small pale hand covered his for a second, and he raised his head, to meet Ai's beautiful eyes.
"You should calm down, Ren" she whispered slowly.
At her contact, he did immediately.
"How was your nap, Ojou?" Wanyuudo asked.
"You were angry because of me" stated the girl, staring at Ren. "I felt it in my sleep"
Understanding he woke her up, Ren apologized. When Ai made a step closer and touched carefully his cheek, he blinked, but didn't move.
"Thank you" she whispered. Her eyes had softened, and her fingers were burning on his skin. He shook his head, and smiled softly in return.
"I'm not sure I can say 'you're welcome'" he chuckled quietly. "But either way; anytime Ai."
She nodded, withdrew, and picked up a cup to serve herself with the tea.
They left a few minutes later. The sky was clearer than a few hours ago, and the walk back to their house was made in complete silence. At a corner of the street, Ai paused and turned to her tutor.
"Wanyuudo" she said then, in a slight authoritarian tone. "I think I can still speak for myself."
The old man nodded, noticing the slight blush on her cheeks. She must have been embarrassed to hear him asking for Ren's protection. But he knew she was pleased by his reaction, pleased that he still called her 'Ai', and not 'Ojou', like Tsuyu and himself always had.
The fact his anger woke her up, and that she came herself to calm the boy; the simple act of touching him on the cheek betrayed more than every word she would use to deny what he was thinking. Little Ojou was way too sensible to the young man's feelings.
"Of course Ojou" he whispered a small smile on his lips. Maybe he shouldn't worry that much for her future after all.
review please? it would make my days so brighter!