Chapter 13: Kazuki
There had been reports about missing children ever since Kazuki entered fifth grade. Parents who watched or read the news became wary and kept their sons and daughters close. His father, however, seldom comes home, and when he does he would collapse on his bed and immediately be taken by slumber. Too tired to turn on the television to watch the news, too tired to bother with the boy, too tired because of work…
Kazuki understood the hardships of reality at a young age: His mother left him (six-years-old), his father beat him in a drunken state thrice in a row (seven-years-old), he watched his uncle fall on his knees and wail when he discovered that his ill wife had died in her sleep (eight-years-old), he saw the downcast expression of his father as he stared solemnly at the picture of his wife (eight-years-old).
There were so much more he had gone through. Kazuki witnessed, experienced, and—in a way—grew wise. He also grew detached, but if it weren't for his uncle he would have turned empty.
He didn't blame his father for not being there for him; the man had his job to focus on. Nevertheless, there was an inerasable grudge Kazuki held against his father. Was it because the man never tried to express fatherly love? Was it because the man had inflicted pain onto him? Was it because the man didn't chase after his mother? The reason itself was unknown, or just won't manifest itself.
So Kazuki took it as this: His father always leave him alone in this quiet house of his. He didn't even consider it as home. It was too…vacant to be home. Too cold. Too forlorn.
One evening, Kazuki was feeling bored so he went outside for fresh air. He didn't even think about the kidnappers who could be wandering in his neighborhood and grab him during his walk. No, he just kept going on his way until he reached to another neighborhood. How far had he gone? He should have been more attentive than to walk aimlessly, absently.
His heart nearly leaped into his throat. Turning around, he saw a tiny kitten looking up at him with wide eyes. "Mrroow," she went again, and approached him without hesitance.
"Go away," Kazuki grumbled, making a shooing gesture.
Instead, she rubbed her back against his ankle.
"Ugh. Gross." Pushing the animal away with his foot didn't seem to work since she kept going back to him. Becoming rather frustrated, he picked up the kitten with one hand and was about to launch her on a patch of grass (he wouldn't really harm her, he's not that cruel) when voices from Kobayakawa Sena and Anezaki Mamori were heard.
"Why didn't I think of it beforehand?" Sena sighed.
"Oh, it'll be alright," Mamori reassured, "I'm sure that you'll be able to contact Riku some other way."
Kazuki, hiding behind a dumpster, would have snorted aloud if it didn't direct the girls' attention onto him. Of course, all the dopey dope could think about was Kaitani. Riku this, Riku that, Riku, Riku, Riku, Riku. Not only was it disgusting and annoying…but it also gave him a weird feeling. A weird bad feeling. Maybe if the tyke learned to shut her trap then there might be an increase in world peace or something.
"Well, maybe we can look it up in the phonebook," the older girl suggested to something what Sena had said.
"I guess so."
"Tell you what, once we get home, I'll scoop strawberry and vanilla ice cream and we'll definitely look it up! Together!"
From the corner of his eye, he could see Sena looking up and have a smile spread across her face. "Okay!"
Would he gag now if he had the opportunity to do so? Yes. Unfortunately, not in this situation. He wouldn't want to be caught by those two girls, namely the tyke. Recently, his interest in picking on her diminished and was replaced with eyeing her. There wasn't anything worthwhile watching the blunder wonder—she wasn't as cute as half of the other girls; in addition, she was kind of weird, like how she always remained silent during class. But ever since she came back with a new haircut, he had his out-of-the-blue curiosities. There was something different about her, and each day she seemed to change.
It was confusing. He used to not like her, thinking that she was just a mere loser, but now…Well, he didn't know. But what he did know was that the kitten was starting to be an annoyance. "Mrrooow! Prrrr…"
Sena tightened her grip on her backpack straps and quickened her pace to match Mamori's. Kazuki was about to go to the other direction until he saw a black van pull up by the girls. Puzzled, he stopped on his tracks and observed what was going on.
Suddenly, two men sprang out of the van and grabbed the girls.
"Holy cow," Kazuki breathed.
"Hiii!" Sena screamed, fruitlessly bruising the man with her kicks as he held her.
"Help! Help! Someone help us!" Mamori cried. There was no one near to hear them.
"Get the handkerchiefs," ordered the man holding Sena.
Panic surged in his chest as the young boy witnessed what was happening. His feet were locked on the ground, he held his breath, his eyes went wide, and every other part of his body wouldn't move. Fear struck him like lightening as his mind immediately registered the four choices he could do: remain stiff like a stick, runaway home and forget this had ever occurred, runaway and call the police, or he could do the stupid thing—pounce on the men and hope that they would release the captives.
Sure he had seen worse than kidnap, but it was happening way too fast. He was scared and didn't know what to do. He always didn't know what to do. He always didn't know…He didn't know why he disliked his father, he didn't know why he had a different view of that quiet loner, he didn't know why his mother abandoned him, he didn't know why his uncle continued to see the horrible nephew he was, he didn't know why his life turned out to be this way, and he didn't know what he should do in a crisis like this.
When will there be a time when he will know? When? When will it be?
One second later, Kazuki found himself clawing on one of the kidnappers' arm and shouting "Let them go!" He caught a glimpse of Sena's shocked expression as he continued to hang and swing.
"Little brat," grumbled the man. He grabbed the boy by his shirt collar and hurled him onto the hard, cold cement. There, he lied unconscious.
Sena awoke in a drowsy consciousness. Her bed, for some reason, was moving, bumpy, uncomfortable. Then she realized that this wasn't her bed but a vehicle. She blinked many times before being able to adjust seeing what was before her. She saw Mamori and Jyuumonji Kazuki sleeping, duct-tape on their mouths, and rope binding their wrists and ankles.
She, again, realized that she was also in the similar state.
Sena's eyes drifted back to Jyuumonji Kazuki and then to his jacket. There was something squirming inside, in which turned out to be a kitten. Her head popped out as the zipper slid down and she gave out another "Mrrow?" Padding towards her, the kitten tilted her head and blinked.
"Mmmph!" Sena tried to say something, but the tape on her lips sealed any words.
"Mew. Mrroow." The animal batted her paw on Sena's ear, then busied herself licking her fur.
So much for assistance.
A/N 1: Just a reminder, this story is mainly about Sena changing into a stronger person as she meets or befriends new people. In the Kengo chapter, this shows how much encouragement Mizumachi had given to Sena when she was going into her depression and being hospitalized.
A/N 2: The Taka chapter must have confused many of you, yes? Well, that was supposed to trigger interest. And if this chapter made you even more confused, please stay tuned for the next update!