Chapter 20 – Facing the Music.

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It was near the end of February, yet the effects of Hana's death were still heavy in everyone's minds. His death left a gap not only in the homeless community, but also in everyone's hearts. It also left a void in the leadership of the girl's, but that was resolved when Keroshi took his spot. He was always Hana's right-hand man… or woman if you want to say that…

One of his first duties was to visit Himeko, to give her one of the last pictures of her and Hana together. While holding on to his calm, Keroshi went to the temple. Himeko was busy watering the indoor plants. She usually talks to the plants.

"Hello Mr. Lotus, how are you doing? Here's your water for you." Like a happy child, she jubilantly poured the water from the water sprout.

She heard a knock on the door. She opened it and saw a glum Keroshi, hanging his head down low.

"Hi Keroshi-chan, how are you doing?"

"Fine Hime-chan, even though I'm still trying to adjust being the leader, I don't know if I'll ever be as good as Hana-sempai."

A small frown appeared on Himeko's face, "Don't say that. I'm sure you will make a great leader. Just don't doubt yourself." Himeko imparted some words of wisdom for Keroshi, as she was talking from her own experience.

"Yeah, Hana-sempai wouldn't want that. Anyhow, I just came here to give you something."

"Really, what is it?"

Keroshi pulled out a picture of her and Chikane with Hana. He handed it to her.

"This. One of the pictures taken during the New Year's party."

Himeko looked at it and then she started to tear up. "Thanks…"

Keroshi started to cry as well. "It was in my flash card and I thought you would want it."

Himeko hung her head down low. "I know… It still hurts me as well."

"He was always fond of you. He told me once that you were the sweetest and purist person he ever met."

Himeko looked at him with a naïve yet questioning look, "What does he mean by that?"

"Well, he told me that he thought that you were the perfect example of what a Christian should be. He said that Jesus is probably proud of you."

Himeko didn't really know if she should be flattered, since she didn't have very high opinions of herself. "I don't know about that. I don't think Jesus would see me as a model of what a Christian should be."

"Well, I'm not a Christian, but I do remember Hana-chan saying that Christians should be kind and caring, and you certainly are both. In fact, Hana-chan once said that he wish he could be more like you."

Himeko blushed, "Really?"

Keroshi nodded, "True indeed."

A small smile grew on her face, "Thanks for telling me that, it makes me feel better. I believe that if you try to be like Jesus, then you become more like Him naturally. Of course, all this comes from faith. You can never be like Him without it."

"I see. I think your kindness and caring creed had a big effect on him as well. He used to be rough on us, but after he started to be around you, he became more compassionate." Keroshi noted. Then he looked at the time on his cell phone and saw it was getting late. Keroshi then gave her his prepaid cell number. "Look if you need to get in touch with me, here's the number."

Then he headed out the door, "Remember, if you need anything else, don't be afraid to call me."

"Thanks."

Himeko took a look at the picture and reminisced about the times she had with Hana. Then she said to herself, "I hope to see you in heaven."

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Later on during the day, Kazuki stopped by at the mikos' room. He was observing the two girls. There was Himeko on her side of the room, dancing and singing to some music she was listening on her iPod like a child in play. Then there was Chikane, sitting in her desk and reading a book studiously. The two sides of the room also told a different story. On Himeko's side, there were paintings, drawings, and posters all over the wall. It was just like when she was living in a tent. There were also clothes all over the floor. On Chikane's side, the bed was neatly made up, the floor was spotless, and her desk was clean and organized.

Kazuki couldn't see how those two, so opposite from each other, could be a couple. Nevertheless, he was happy that they are together.

Kazuki knocked on the door frame to get Chikane's attention. "Himemiya-san?"

Chikane turned around and asked, "Yes Oogami-sensei, what's up."

"My friend at the Senjuki Temple wants you to play a couple of tunes at their teahouse."

Chikane eyes and ears perked when she heard that, "Really?" Himeko had took off the headphones and listened in to the conversation.

"Yes. He is willing to pay you, so this will not be a wasted effort."

She drew a smile on her face, "That's great, when is it?"

"Next Saturday in the morning and early afternoon, would that be a problem?"

"Absolutely not, I'll be there." Chikane said.

"Great. I'll give him the good news. He is very much looking forward to this." He left the room.

Himeko then congratulate Chikane. "See, people admire your skills! This is so great!"

"Yeah, it sure is."

"Maybe we should celebrate it at the arcade. I'll pay for the games."

Chikane smiled, "Thanks, but you don't have to do that. However, I do want to go to the arcade. I hope Eiji-san is over there, so I can kick his ass on King of Fighters 2003!"

Himeko chuckled, "Well, if he's not there, do you mind playing with me on 'Dance Dance Revolution Extreme?'

As they got their coats on, Chikane kindly replied, "Of course not."

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Next day, it was noon and Corona came over to see Chikane. She was far from being a welcomed guest when Chikane growled after seeing her. Himeko was standing right beside her.

"What the hell do you want?" Chikane spat, forgoing any greetings, which is very untypical and rude in Japanese culture, but she was beyond caring for formalities when it comes to Corona. Not even Nekoko brought this level of ire out of her.

Ignoring her furor, Corona simply replied, "It's nice to meet you too, Miya-sama. And I see that Blondie is with you as well."

"My name is Himeko, not Blondie." Himeko informed her in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Whatever Ms. Softie Cream Puff," Corona dismissively replied.

Chikane quickly grabbed her by her collar and gritted. "You better apologize to Himeko right now, or I'm gonna shove this fist down your throat."

She had her right fist right near Corona's face as Corona panicked in fear.

"Chikane-chan stop it!" Himeko screamed. Chikane let Corona go and Corona slowly recovered her nerves.

"Okay! Okay!" Corona huffed, then she apologized to Himeko. "I'm sorry for calling you Ms. Softie Cream Puff and Blondie."

"Apology accepted." Himeko replied with a bow.

"You know that you're the last person I want to see." Chikane growled once again.

"I know, I know, but I bet that will change after I tell you this."

Hands on her hips, Chikane asked. "What do actually have to tell me that will make me not think that you're a delusional, selfish, annoying, backstabbing, whoring bitch?

Corono tried her best to hide her anger, but it failed as her face turned a bit red. "I got something that you've wanted for a long time." She pulled out a wad of cash and handed it over to Chikane.

"Here's 5,000 yen. This is for some of the money I stole when we lived in the apartment." Chikane was surprised. She looked it over and saw it was legit. "And there's more at my new place, about 10,000 yen more."

Chikane was surprised. "Okay, bring it back here by tomorrow."

"Are you kidding me? I'm not walking anywhere with 10,000 yen in my pocket! It was a risk coming here with 5,000 yen. I need to get it from my bank."

"A bank?" Chikane seriously questioned.

"Yeah, you thought that I was just a dumb ho? Well this ho has brains!"

Himeko was shocked at what she said, but Chikane laughed, "Yeah you're right about the 'ho' part!"

"Chikane-chan, that's not nice," Himeko warned.

Corona realized her malapropism and barked, "I am not a ho!" Then she calmed down. "Anyhow, I just came here to give you some of your money. If you want the rest, be at my new place tonight at 8 PM. It's at the alley near Takeo's furniture store and the 7-Eleven."

"Why aren't you at the station anymore?"

"Me and the police had a falling out… It doesn't matter, what matters is that I'm finally paying back your crummy money."

"Fine, I'll be there," Chikane answered with her arms folded.

"Good, see you at eight." Corona left the place without even saying a good-bye.

"Why is she so rude to you all the time?" Himeko asked.

"Because she's a self-absorbed twit," Chikane snarled and headed back to their room.

Himeko looked at her lover with concern and said to herself, "I don't have a good feeling about this."

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Seven o'clock came and Chikane was getting ready to visit Corona.

"Can I come with you?" Himeko lightly pleaded.

"No, I want to deal with this myself. I don't want you to be around when I choke the shit out of her for not paying me my money." Chikane mentioned.

"Chikane-chan! Don't do that!"

"I'm just kidding Himeko. I'll be right back." Chikane then kissed Himeko on her cheeks and left.

Himeko still had a very bad feeling about it. Something inside of her was telling her to go, so she quickly got her coat and left.

During her endeavor, while Chikane was walking in the cold air outside, she was talking to herself. "Corona-chan, you better have my money, or else…"

Himeko was trailing behind her, but at a far enough distance so as to not to be noticed.

When she got there, she saw Corona standing alone. Chikane noticed that the alley could not have been her new home, because it was empty. She was starting to get suspicious.

"So where's my money?" She impatiently asked, while secretly grasping her tanto.

"Right here," said a husky male voice as he kicked Chikane on her back. She fell down and turned around. What she saw was her worst nightmare, four people wearing black with top half of their faces covered in a mask. It was the black masked gang. Corona was stunned as well, surprised to see them.

"So we finally got you," said one of the members. She had a woman's voice. The voice sounded very familiar to Chikane, but she couldn't place it who it was.

"Yeah. Did you think you could get away with stealing my stuff from the pawn shop?" Shouted the leader. He was of medium built and height, yet he was strong enough to knock Chikane down.

Now Chikane was very afraid. She knew the voice; it was the notorious gangster Kazuya. He happens to be the owner of the pawnshop she robbed. Alongside was another masked member, he was tall and muscular. She assumed that it had to be his right-hand man, Ken Narita. She knew she was in deep, deep, deep trouble.

"Now it's time to finish you off, you trashy bitch!" said another familiar voice. He was skinnier than the others.

"That's what you think," Chikane hissed. "I'm not going out without a fight."

She pulled out her tanto and slashed him on the shoulders. Then she gave him a furious combo, ending with a punch to his face and he went down. After that, she went after the female assailant. Chikane slashed her on her right arm, but the assailant was able to knock the weapon out of her hand. Then she attempted to kick Chikane in her stomach, but she blocked it. The woman threw a punch and Chikane ducked it. Chikane punched her right in the face, but she didn't go down. Blood did trickle from her lips, one of the few exposed areas on her face.

"You bitch! I'm gonna make you pay for that!" she spat furiously.

The two other guys jumped in and joined in attacking Chikane. It was three to one and Chikane was at a huge disadvantage. Corona took that time to escape. Terrified, she ran away scared, thinking to herself what the hell had she done. Now Chikane was on her knees like a beaten warrior. While on her knees, the leader pulled out his razor and sliced her on her face. Blood now trickled from her face.

"You're not so tough after all. Look at you now. You think you can get away with all the shit you've done around here? Think again, rezu."

"Fuck you, you needle dick asshole." she sneered back. She maybe wounded, but she still had her pride intact.

The leader was infuriated and punched her right in her mouth. She went down, but she was still conscious.

"That should shut your trashy little mouth." The leader said with a small sense of satisfaction. "Pick this dyke-ass bitch up. We're going her use her as a punching bag."

Himeko finally got to the alley. She heard noises and took a peek in the alley. Then she saw what was going on. Two of the group members were holding Chikane while Chikane was being punched in her stomach and face by the largest man in black mask.

At first, she was stunned and scared, but Himeko knew she had to act. She was looking for anything to take them out. Finally, she saw a beer bottle lying on the concrete. So she picked it up and quietly snuck up to the guy doing the punching. With all of her strength gathered in her left arm, she swung the bottle right at his head and knocked him out.

When the two other members saw this, they were shocked. Himeko froze instantly after she was caught. They quickly recovered and the woman attacked Himeko. Himeko was able to block some of her attacks, thanks to hours of training with Chikane and Kazuki. But the woman was too skilled for Himeko and she was able to strike Himeko in her stomach. Then she gave Himeko a swift Roundhouse kick right to her chest. She flew all the way to the other side of the alley, hitting her head on the brick wall.

The woman was proud of what she did. "Well, well. It's our lucky day. We get to finish both of these bitches off."

The leader chuckled. "We sure do. But let's torture the shit out of that koji bitch some more, so we can teach that cunt a lesson."

The lady picked up a weakening and bruised Chikane, who was barely conscious, and held her up while the vengeful leader struck her twice across her face, taking out his anger on her.

"Well look at you now. You not such a tough bitch anymore, huh? Just because you're a rezu doesn't give you the right to pretend you have balls. You little soft pussy girlfriend is out cold and she's gonna suffer the same way you will. Bitch, you're gonna pay for stealing from us"

Just as he was about to deliver his third punch, someone commanded.

"Freeze! You're under arrest!"

The remaining conscious masked villains looked and saw Girochi, armed with a night stick.

Without saying a word, the leader rushed at Girochi, while the female tried to warn him.

"No! Don't do it!"

But it was too late, as Girochi anticipated his attack and brought him down. They wrestled on the ground, but he was no match for Girochi, as he slammed him on the concrete and restrained him with his mighty hands. He was able to get on top of the leader and land a few blows across his face. The leader was getting weaker and eventually stopped struggling.

The woman tried to escape, but there were two police cars already waiting for her. She calmly raised her hands up and cops quickly cuffed her.

Girochi finally cuffed the leader and then he quickly called the ambulance.

"This is Officer Martinez and I'm in need of an ambulance. We got two teenage girls who are unconscious at the alley between Takeo's furniture store and the 7-Eleven on Kaito Road."

After that, Girochi left the alley and saw the female member unmasked. A melancholy mixture of disappointment, sadness, and anger were formed in him. It was one of his colleagues, Setsuna.

Surprised at his co-worker, he had to ask her what her motive was. "Setsuna-san? But why did you do this?"

Looking squarely at Girochi, she bitterly responded, "Because these bums are responsible for killing my partner, and he paid better money than this shitty job ever did!" She expectorated.

Setsuna had a partner who was killed by a homeless guy two years back. She was close to him, even rumored to be lovers, although her partner was engaged. It bothered her to the point that she agreed to help out Kazuya. Also, as she mentioned, the money was good as well. Japanese cops don't get paid a lot.

"I can't believe you would do something like this. Using revenge to justify your motive of killing innocent people is just plain sick. You are a disgrace to all the cops that ever wore a uniform." Girochi shot back.

"Oh please spare me the morals crap! Those homeless people have none whatsoever. If they did they wouldn't be where they're at!"

"She's right!" shouted the skinny masked man behind Girochi, who finally regained consciousness.

Girochi turned around. He recognized the voice and came up to him as the other cop was holding his arms back. He pulled the masked off and was even more shocked. It was Yukihiro.

"Yuki-san, why are you involved in this? I know you had issues with Oogami-sensei, but why?"

Yukihiro started to tear up as he explained his reason. "It's because of these pathetic people who drain our resources and disgrace our country while people like my father struggled to find a new job. We had to leave our house that we lived in ever since I was a baby. We had to move into a roach-infested apartment, don't you know how shameful that is? Those bums don't deserve to live. All they do is leach off of us!"

Girochi was mad and told him, "You don't know anything about these homeless people. They were just like your dad, they ran into a lot of bad luck."

"Bad luck! That's pure bullshit! They were failures of this society, who didn't know how to save and probably were lazy at work. My father was fired because he was going to report on his company's illegal stock trading. Now he's blacklisted."

"Did you ever think that some of them have a similar story like your dad? I mean they're suffering like you and your family."

"I seriously doubt that! What the hell do you know about suffering? What have you lost? You're paid by our tax money."

An furious look appeared on Girochi's face. He used every single bit of his composure to refrain himself from hurting Yukihito. "What do I know about suffering and loss? More than you think," he said in a slow and gravelly tone. "When you lose both of your parents to a civil war, and have to flee from your own country for your life, then come and talk to me. Otherwise, get the fuck out of my face. Take him away."

"Yes sir." The cop took Yukihiro to the car and drove him along with Setsuna to the police station. Girochi didn't bother to look back, nor did he have time to think about those two, as he had to deal with the two unconscious girls. They were bleeding rather badly and Girochi had to stop it, so he and another cop tended to the wounded girls while the ambulance was coming. The ambulance finally came and Girochi assisted the paramedics in bringing in the girls.

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"Are they going to be okay?" Girochi asked.

"They are seriously bleeding from their head wounds, we need to stop the bleeding first to be able to assess the severity of any other injuries," said the paramedic.

Himeko and Chikane were both unconscious and they had a concussions. They were in the ambulance as the paramedics were frantically working on stabilizing them. Girochi was inside, worried about them. He wasn't very religious, but he prayed for them, hoping they would make it. He knew he had to call Kazuki and his sister about the bad news. That was the last thing he wanted to do, they already had enough bad news.

"How's the pulse on the blue-haired one?" asked one of the paramedics.

"Slightly-weak," responded the other. "What about the other one?"

"She's fine. All vital pulses seem to be normal. She hit her head hard though. She does have a minor cranial swelling."

"Make sure the swelling doesn't get too big. Plus, monitor the swelling, apply ice pack and check for other signs of brain bleeding"

"Okay."

They continued working on the girls until they arrived at the hospital. Luckily, they were able to stabilize the mikos.

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After they arrived at the hospital, Girochi called Kazuki first then his sister, and finally Keroshi and Natashi.

Meanwhile, Himeko and Chikane were in the trauma unit, as they were being worked on.

For over two hours, the doctors were working on the girls making sure they didn't lose too much blood. It was a typical medical procedure, but there was still a good chance that things could go wrong. Girochi waited anxiously in the waiting room, hoping to hear anything about them.

Finally the head doctor came to Girochi and told him the news.

"Officer Martinez?"

"Hai."

"I just finish operating on the two girls. They are in stable condition."

Girochi sighed in relief. "Thank goodness."

"Kurusuga Himeko only has a few minor cuts and bruises along with a potentially severe concussion. She will need to stay overnight for monitoring to ensure the brain is healing"

"That's good."

"But as for Himemiya Chikane, she does have a two cracked ribs and a fractured left arm along with her concussion and cut to her face. Again, we want to keep her for a few days to monitor the head injury. It appears the young woman had multiple impacts to her torso and head. We were able to stop the internal bleeding and all her organs are functioning withing normal parameters. We expect a full recovery from both ladies."

"Well, that' not so bad after all, even though it sounds a lot?"

The doctor nodded, "Yeah, they're very lucky not to have any permanent injuries."

"So where are they now?"

"They are being sent upstairs to their room. You can go up there right now."

"Thanks doc, you don't know how much I appreciate your work," Giroch thanked with a bow.

The doctor chuckled, "No problem. I'm just doing my job."

Girochi immediately went to their hospital room. There he was, watching the two, wondering when, and if, they will wake up.

Ten minutes later, Kazuki and Souma arrive. A huge concerned look appeared on their faces as they saw the girls lying in their beds.

Kazuki came up to Girochi, "I want to thank you so much for saving them."

"No problem, Oogami-san. If Corona-san didn't call me, I would have never been there."

Souma looked at him and said, "Corona-san?"

"Corona-san saw it, so she called me and told me about it."

Kazuki was surprised, "Well, I should thank her as well." None of them knew that Corona was part of the set-up.

A few minutes later, Natashi and Keroshi came.

"Are they okay?" Natashi asked.

"Yes they are. Doctor said they will be alright, they're just recuperating right now."

"I can't believe that they would go to the alley at that time of the night. For what?" Kazuki questioned.

"I don't know, Nii-san. They didn't tell me anything."

It was then that the young blond finally woke from her sleep. She slowly opened her eyes half-way and then rubbed them. "Where am I?"

Souma was the first to hear her, so he responded, "You're okay. You're at the hospital."

"Really? How did I get here?" she asked weakly.

"The ambulance picked you two up after they arrested the black mask group." Souma told her, trying to hold back his anger as he still is upset that his best friend, Yukihiro, was part of the group.

"Oh… So is Chikane-chan here as well? Where is she?"

Kazuki told her, "She at your left, still unconscious."

Himeko turned her head and faced the sleeping bluenette. She was lying there, with a cast on her arm and bandages on her head.

Himeko asked one of the visitors, "Is she okay? Will she make it? I hope she does," she ended as she started to tear up.

"She will be okay, but she got really bruised up. They also cut her up a bit," Girochi informed her.

"Really? Almost like Hana-chan." Keroshi stated.

"Probably worse, had I not got there," Girochi brought up.

"I still can't believe that Setsuna-san was part of it. I feel betrayed," Natashi seethed a bit.

"I'm with you on that. This is the woman who I got hired to help me out for New Year's Day," Kazuki added.

"How do you think I feel? She's one of my colleagues." Girochi said angrily grumbled.

"You mean that Setsuna-san was part of the group?" Himeko asked.

"Yes she was, and so was Yukihiro." Souma added.

"That hurts me even more," Kazuki responded.

"I know what you mean, Nii-san."

It left Himeko speechless a bit. Finally she found her voice and replied, "Oh my…"

"Worst yet, they, along with that murderous, despicable, thug leader of theirs, will be charged with at least three counts of murder, including Hana-chan's." Girochi informed everyone in the room. Kazuki and Souma closed their eyes and shook their heads.

Meanwhile in the hospital, a middle-aged blond woman popped into the room along with a short, spectacled brunette. Kazuki was stunned when he saw her. The blond looked like an older version of Himeko with green eyes and a bit taller.

"Is Himeko here?" She asked with almost the same vocal tone as Himeko's.

"Yes she is, how can I help you?" Girochi asked.

"I want to see Himeko, please." Then she saw Himeko lying in her bed. She quickly ran up to her.

"Who are you?" Girochi asked but the woman ignored him. Kazuki and Souma wondered who she was as well, until they examined her a bit. Then they realized who she was.

"Oh Himeko, are you alright?" the woman asked liked a concerned mother.

At first, Himeko was puzzled at who the lady was, but as she studied her facial features, she realized who she was.

"Mama?"

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End of Part 2