Disclaimer: Kazuya Minekura owns Wild Adapter. I do not.
Warning: Violence, death, mayhem, language. God bless this series.
Note: Another POV piece. It's an addiction. Consider it a companion piece to Glock. This one takes place during the events of Volume 6 of the English manga. Figured I'd try Kubota's perception of things. He is my favorite, after all.
It never ceases to amaze you how punctual and efficient trains are. They clang and clatter into the station at exactly the right time, idle only long enough to regurgitate salary workers and school children, and depart so quickly that for a moment you just sit back and marvel silently, wondering if maybe your mind had simply made it all up.
And as you board the next one, pushing your way past suits and ties and satchels and briefcases, you speculate that perhaps this train station in the heart of Yokohama's Chinatown is an oddly-appropriate metaphor for life.
You love metaphors, always have, and the more obscure the better. Your mind is agile and clever, and you spend an inordinate amount of time mulling over useless bits of trivia. Because what is the average person if not a wealth of useless information? You smile as you think about that, and the schoolgirl standing beside you shies away an inch or two. That isn't so important, though; you're used to garnering that sort of reaction from people.
The train slows as it rumbles along its tracks and you stare through the dirty, scratched Plexiglas window, leaning most of your weight on the handrails, watching your gritty, inhospitable city flash by.
People are absolutely brimming with useless knowledge. Kou spent several minutes discussing the finer points of tea with you almost an hour ago. Kasai knows more about the history of mahjong than perhaps even you. And Tokitoh can talk for days about strategies for fighting games. Your smile widens involuntarily as your mind slips against its will from Philosophical Scholar Mode, like a car being shifted into a lower gear.
As much as you spend your long days contemplating the deeper meaning of your own futile existence and all of its poetic qualities, you devote more time to mulling over your roommate's behavior. Tokitoh is extremely interesting, and you've always been helplessly fascinated with new things. He's predictable to the point of safety but random and excitable enough to hold your attention, and you're positive that no other person in this hell-hole of a city could captivate your interest the way that he can.
He catches Sanada's eye as well, but for much different reasons. The leader of Izumo sees Tokitoh as a bargaining chip, leverage and not as a living, breathing young man with a fiery temper and a homicidal roommate. When he takes Tokitoh away from you, you turn his headquarters into a crime scene. Then you get off the train and walk into Kou's shop with a bullet wound in your shoulder and your front covered in blood. Half of it is yours.
Kou likes to make cryptic references to the calm ferocity with which you stand guardian over your stray, and while you normally brush it off with a laugh or ignore him outright, you understand implicitly that he's dangerously correct. You know it to be as true as gravity and twice as strong. Tokitoh has provoked new and strong and surprising thoughts in you. If you're very blunt with yourself, and you tend to be, you acknowledge that you're almost intimidated by the loud, angry little thing.
Fear is something foreign and entirely unfamiliar to you; or it was until a crooked smile and a foolish course of action finds Tokitoh outside of your protection, your possession, and in the hands of some rather brutal young men. You kill them all without a backwards glance, turning an old cargo liner into a bloodbath of Yakuza corpses. Right now your mind is so narrowly focused on that angry little cat that you fail to identify the slow dread coiling heavy in your gut. What makes it real is the sight of the Izumo youth leader's gun in his hand, the way he holds it in his cut and bleeding fingers like he's done this so many times that it is second nature.
That gets your attention. It occurs to you in that briefest of moments that Tokitoh is becoming more and more like you with every breath that he takes, and that knowledge scares the living hell out of you.
The cussing had been his. He's interspersed profanity in his speech from the minute that he'd woken up, spitting and hissing and perpetually indignant. Someone else had taught him that, and so the guilt there isn't yours to bear. The quick temper and irrational anger are also his, but you suspect that is more of an oddly endearing personality trait than a learned behavior. His love of video games and manga had come from Shouta. His innate fear of women you blame pretty heavily on Anna and Saori--the former for her rather unflattering sexual advances on your cat and the latter for displaying the eccentricities of the female psyche under duress.
He's always been a terrible liar where it came naturally to you. He has a definite sweet tooth, and you do not. He's very tactile when it comes to you, playing with your hair while he watches television, holding your hand when he thinks no one is looking, rubbing against you like a cat while he sleeps. You yourself have never really seen the point in touching people, either in displays of affection or even violence. You prefer quicker and easier means of dispatch, but Tokitoh jumps directly into the fray. He says it's more personal, but you think the way he sighs into your ear when you press against him in the tight confines of your bed is much more personal than a fistfight.
The rest of his personality has been shaped unintentionally by your words, by your smile, by your hands. He's watched you for the last two years like curious strays are apt to do and he's inherited parts of your own personality that you had hoped he'd never really witness. He knows how to break a spine with his hands. He's learned how to clean your gun, and even prides himself on how quickly he can dismantle and reassemble the damned thing. He can recite the law code and section number of every law he's ever broken while acting under your coercion. He knows exactly where Izumo territory ends, where Tojou turf begins, and which 7-11s in both jurisdictions pay out protection money each month.
You watch in a confused blend of shock and horror as he aims the Izumo bastard's gun at the man's head and stares him down with cold, dead eyes. Eyes he learned from you.
What the fuck am I doing to this kid?
Remorse isn't something that you feel often, but you know what it is. You felt it nip at your conscience when Komiya died, and you let it sink angry fangs into your gut and rip your insides into proverbial shreds now. Of all the people to pass that graveyard of an alleyway on that January afternoon, why were you the one to pick him up and take him in, away from the pain and cold?
You ask yourself this question now because you know that he never will. Tokitoh doesn't regret you snatching him out of that alley. He thinks that you're the greatest thing since Wonder bread, and who are you to tell him otherwise? But part of your mind--the tiny portion that still wonders what would have happened had Komiya not been slaughtered like an animal in a hail of indiscriminate gunfire--contemplates how different Tokitoh's life would be right now if he had been taken in by someone else. Someone like Kasai, or even Shouta's family. Someone who doesn't run in the same circles as you or Kou or Sanada, or this bastard lying on the deck of this ship glaring up at your roommate.
Would he be safer? Probably not, you answer yourself honestly, as you move carefully behind him and slide your hand slowly up his arm so that he knows it's you. The Yakuza would still be after him, and chances are that animal-like hand of his would have freaked out even the kindest of good samaritans.
Would he be happier? You aren't sure of the answer to that. Tokitoh seems the most content when he's curled up on the couch, practically in your lap, watching nature documentaries and asking an avalanche of questions to satisfy his curiosity about everything. But sometimes you have the suspicion that had he woken up somewhere else, in someone else's bed, that anonymous stranger would have received his unconditional loyalty, his eventual tentative trust, and his guarded affection. Sometimes you think that you could have been substituted by anyone else in Yokohama with a healthy supply of video games and a warm lap.
Would he have had a better quality of life? Of this you're certain. Tokitoh could be in school right now. He could be living in a nice house, with a family, with normal people to teach him moral values and integrity. Instead he shares your terminally messy apartment, a cramped bed, and your old clothes, always too big in the waist and too long at the sleeves. His knowledge base is the TV and anything on it. His morals consist of 'the Yakuza is bad', 'killing is justified sometimes', and 'if Kubo-chan says or does it, it must be okay.' You humor yourself that he wasn't exactly a complete innocent when you found him, but that doesn't justify the sorts of things you've exposed him to, the example that you've been to him.
You close your hand around his around this borrowed pistol, your eyes scanning down the barrel engraved 'Beretta .40cal' and at this asshole's heart, and you can't help the sense of amazement that crashes over you as he leans reflexively back against you, his shoulders slumping ever so slightly in silent relief. It's second nature to him now.
You are second nature to him now.
You slip you trigger finger around his and guide him, pulling the metal actuator back smoothly and confidently, and he doesn't close his eyes, doesn't turn away, doesn't flinch as you commit murder together as one mind.
Kubota, you sigh inwardly as you stand there in the cold and survey your handiwork with the appreciative eye that only a serial killer truly possesses. You are a bad, bad man.
You smile though, because you understand that the last of Tokitoh's innocent and naive young mind was just snuffed out without ceremony, like the aspirations of hollow power and greed now bleeding out of the man lying dead before you on the deck. Tokitoh's a killer now, the same as you, and he became this same breed of monster knowingly and willingly. And though unspoken, you've made a pact of sorts, signed in the blood of your enemy. You may have been born to fight, live, and die in the streets of Yokohama like animals, but you will fight, live, and die together. Whether it means that you swallow the business end of your gun when Tokitoh's insides explode across the walls of your apartment, or you singlehandedly manage to destroy the power-chain of the Yakuza in this whore of a city, you're with him until the gory end. And the fierce look in his violet eyes as he takes the stolen Beretta from your hand and shoves it into the waistband of his jeans? Yeah. This monster is staying by your side come hell, Sanada, or high water. Tokitoh isn't going anywhere.
The helicopter overhead signals danger, and you squint up through the glaringly bright spotlight and catch a glimpse of a corporal ghost from your past. Sanada is always around, watching and stalking and prying and prodding at you like an itch that you'll never manage to scratch, and then the gunfire erupts from on high and you shove Tokitoh towards the railing of the ship. He's played enough video games to know that the ocean is a safe zone that magically absorbs bullets, so he doesn't hesitate to scurry over the railing and plunge into the sea.
As you leap from the railing after him you find your own turn of phrase ironic: hell, Sanada, or high water. The Yakuza boss is above you, the ocean's right beneath you, and after everything here is said and done, you know exactly which realm of the afterlife you'll spend eternity in. And that idiot hissing and spluttering twenty feet below you in the sea? Yeah, he'll walk right beside you into the flames of hell, because he's a loyal little shit, and you're in this together.