Jeez, sorry you guys, slow update…
But! It's a good chapter! Well at least I believe it is… it's exciting! Well the end is… everything's been kind of leading up to this, now things will start getting really interesting! Promise! JUST PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME!
Chapter 6: Phone calls
The receptionist for the apartment complexes luckily had a translator device with her, so I was able to type in what I wanted to say.
I realized I didn't know what room number Haji's apartment was. I hadn't looked when we left, but it was on the third floor if I remember correctly.
How do I ask this? I'm going to sound like a stalker...
'There's a man named Haji who lives in one of these apartments on the third floor, can you tell me which room number he is?' I finished typing and the device switched it to French as I slid it back to the woman. Her squinty eyes scanned the screen before her suspicious gaze was cast on me. I fidgeted underneath her questioning orbs.
'What purpose do you have with this man?' the neon green lettered response made my cheeks darken slightly as I realized I would have to lie. There was no time for this!
'He's my boyfriend.' my skin itched as my finger hovered over the translate button. Boyfriend? Changing my mind I vigorously stabbed the backspace button. 'He's my sister's boyfriend.' my tongue ran over my bottom lip as I slid the device over the counter again. That was better. Nothing wrong with needing to talk with your sister's boyfriend.
Suddenly my brain slammed on the brakes and an image of an older girl flipped through my mind's eye. The word 'sister' floated around nearby.
"I have an older sister?" my hands gripped the counter as I tried to reach back farther, a slow steady ache forming in the back of my head. A name... her name... Ma... Magnolia! Her name is Magnolia! Bubbling laughter spilled out as a wave of relief came over me, ignoring the throb of an upcoming headache.
The sound of a throat being cleared rather loudly caught my attention as I straightened up, caught off guard as the woman impatiently tapped the translator with a long nail.
'His last name?' my celebration was cut short as I groaned under my breath. Quickly, I came up with an excuse.
'I'm not sure, they just started dating. He's tall, carries a cello on his back, black hair, blue eyes, Japanese.' the woman seemed to recognize the description as she started typing out a response.
'There was a man that just moved out a while ago, he never gave us his name to begin with but he fits your description.'
I blinked at the screen, and then looked up at the lady, then back to the screen. That couldn't be right. Just moved out? Couldn't be the right guy. Yet... who else carries around a cello on their back? A heavy cold weight plunked into my gut and I scrunched my face up.
'Can you tell me what number his apartment was?'
"I have a proposition for you."
"Hmmm?" I glanced at the neutral face of my little princess, her ebony strands slightly ruffled from her recent nap. Jade eyes were firm and steady; bringing forth a similarity to a certain dark knight I knew who wore the same stony stare.
"I know who Haji is. What if I were to say I could present him to you; for you to destroy or lock up or whatever you please?"
The air was stagnant as I observed her; she sat on the side of her bed while I lingered in the doorway. She must be doing the same thing, inspecting every move, every breath I made.
"Whatever I please?" I offered her a suggestive look and her face instantly soured; I could practically see her skin crawling with distaste. I knew how much she loathed it when I insinuated attraction to other men, and I regularly annoyed her with it.
She hissed out her words. "Nathan, is this man your enemy or not?"
I mentally applauded her sleuthing skills, digging up enough information to find out about Haji and then some. Almost as good as my skills.
"I learned something interesting as well, my little princess. You took a day off and explored the city, stirring up all kinds of mischief and such." I sighed dramatically, "They grow up so fast!"
She only faltered slightly, her dry stare narrowing.
"If I brought Haji to you, would you release me?" ah, and her true intentions reveal themselves. I chuckled lightly.
"How about this? I'm going on a trip soon. A place far away. I'll need Haji detained while I'm gone and here for me when I get back. I have a different proposition for you, my dear."
She considered me warily before she nodded, inclining I continue.
"I have one question," when I finished explaining, she regarded me with a guarded expression. "... what is my... name?"
My eyebrows rose, seeing a very rare side of the girl in front of me. She never exhumed vulnerability. It seemed her tone just brushed the tip of an iceberg she had been mulling over for a while.
"Why, you don't have one... you're my little project."
Her eyes snapped back to frozen wastelands, cold and unfeeling.
"I'll cooperate with your plan."
A brown box, medium sized and closed, sat in front of what used to be an occupied apartment. After picking the lock with a hairpin I found on the ground- something I was apparently good at- I only found an empty apartment. Where there used to be stacks of books were now only piles of dust. The only thing left was the complementary phone in the bedroom and the mysterious box in the front. I sat next to the cardboard cube with my messy hair in my hands. He had slipped through my fingers! The headache from earlier was coming on full force and beating the inside of my skull like a drum. I moaned lightly as I massaged my temples.
I glanced up at the box and poked it with my toe, surprised to feel it almost full. What in the world did he leave here, and why? I got on my knees, curiosity substituting my despair and headache momentarily as I turned the box, catching black marker on the side.
'Stop looking for me.'
I felt heat warm my cheeks; he wasn't fooled, he knew I would come back here! Huffing, I threw aside the flaps, opening the box. On top of a stack of folded cloth, there was an IPod and a phone. I plucked a small note from the side that read 'Things you left.' hope bloomed inside of me; phones had contacts with numbers, maybe my family or someone? The feeling was quickly extinguished when the device wouldn't turn on, nor the IPod.
"That's helpful," I complained, placing the two things next to me. The folded cloth turned out to be the clothes I had woken up in, washed and clean. I smiled when I found the boots under the clothes, I would be glad to get out of these cheap sandals Haji bought me to walk outside with. At the very bottom of the box was something I was sure wasn't mine: a clip of Euros. I reached in hesitantly and wrapped my fingers around the necessity. There was a 50, a 20 and a 5 totaling up to 75 Euros. Before I could dwell too much on the money, I scooped up my things and ran into the desolate apartment to change in the bathroom.
I shut the restroom door and deftly discarded the baggy clothes, sandals and jacket, slipping instead into the shirt, hoodie, jeans and boots. I pushed the money into my back pocket and gathered the wrinkled dirty clothes in my arms, slinging the jacket over my shoulder and hooking my fingers around the sandals. I trudged back to the box, dropping the old clothes into it. I picked up my phone and music, grumbling as I went inside again to turn all the lights off before I left.
"Of course they're dead... just my luck." storing them in the pocket of my hoodie, I glanced at the apartment phone as I switched lights off.
The phone! My hand brushed the wall instead of the switch, in the middle of a breakthrough. I rushed to the object and picked it up, my eyes franticly searching for the 'recent numbers' button. Maybe I could call back that one guy who called for Haji and somehow get some info! My finger ghosted over the button as I thought of how I would exactly convince this person. He hadn't been speaking French when he called, so maybe he doesn't even live in France... he sounded like Japanese was his native language... or he could just be bilingual and fluent in Japanese.
An idea popped in my head. "Pen, pen, pen..." I combed through the place, searching for a writing utensil. "come on, there has to be one s- aha!" in the corner of one of the room, a cheap ballpoint pen lay, lonely and forgotten. I snatched it up and ran back to the phone; scribbling the number onto my arm. "Just in case," I murmured. I massaged my lip between my teeth as I pondered what to say to the men to convince them, before hardening my face and stabbing the white button with my finger.
I had always wondered why father never talked about his work, never told stories or explained himself when he came home late. I just knew it was top secret science stuff. Not even mom knew, not really. I guess he's not allowed to talk about it, but that just makes it more desirable to know! I scratched my head and stared at the picture framed in his study; men in white lab coats stood together, with father in the front due to his height, along with a man in a dark purple suit. Frankly, it was a really ugly color and I couldn't imagine why the older gentleman would wear something that ugly, but maybe the styles were different over ten years ago. The date at the bottom went back over a decade, and I marveled shortly at how much younger father looked here. This was when he had first started this job, when all the secrets and questions started, soon followed by the move here.
"Magnolia, what are you doing in here?" I whipped around to face my mother, her arms crossed and eyes narrowed. She had seemed to age five years since Azalea had gone missing, her dark hair a mess and bags under her eyes from what was probably a sleepless night.
"If your father caught you in here, you would be in enormous trouble! Why are you in here?"
I really didn't have a reason other than I had never been in this room before, and father was at work. Her tone rubbed me the wrong way; I knew she was just as curious about this room as I was so for her to be chiding me for curbing my curiosity that I knew she wanted to curb as well was almost hypocritical.
"I don't know," I crossed my own arms, mirroring my mother's stance. A part of me said to just apologize and leave, but I stubbornly planted my feet to the ground.
"You don't know? Magnolia now is not the time to be causing trouble!"
"How am I causing trouble mom? I'm just curious about this job father never talks about! About why we had to move to this place and still not know why!"
She sputtered for a moment, trying to think of a reply. I didn't let her though, and instead stormed past her, heading towards the phone to check for any calls about Azalea. I almost tripped over myself when I found Arashi seated on the coach staring at the phone.
I cleared my throat and his head snapped up, his eyes wide from being caught off guard.
"Arashi, go watch t.v. You don't have to do that."
"I want to though! Azalea could have gotten eaten by those monster things that are around the city!" my heart clenched and all the pent up steam exhaled out of my mouth due to the look on his face. Arashi had been bound and determined to help out in any way, and apparently this was his post at the moment.
"... Don't say things like that... how about I sit with you?" he puckered his lips and hummed before nodding his head.
"You got to be prepared, the phone could ring at any time and we need to answer it!" the corners of my lips tilted up at his young enthusiasm, and I sat next to him.
As he set his concentration back to staring at the phone, I heard the door to father's study close. Did mom just leave the room?
"Hey, I'll be right back, alright?" Arashi nodded, not looking away as I stood and followed my mother down the hall. I waited till we were out of my brother's ear shot before speaking. "I know you looked through his study; what did you find?"
Her head snapped towards me at a breakneck speed and her normally gentle eyes were filled with fear, her face pale. "Mother?" I took a step closer to comfort her, my stubborn tone being abandoned, concern taking its place.
She retreated though, slowly shaking her head.
"Don't step foot in your father's ever again, do you understand?" I blinked before nodding silently, too bewildered to offer and soothing words or reassurance. Mother scurried off after my nod, disappearing in her room and locking the door with a troubling 'click'.
"Please tell me where Haji is."
Looking as if he had just been slapped in the face, Kai found himself at a loss for words.
Before he could say anything though, the phone was plucked from his hand with urgency.
"Who is this?" David's deep raspy voice could intimidate anyone. There was a short pause.
"I know you have some connection to Haji, and it's important you tell me where he is."
"I will answer nothing until my question is answered." Kai pushed his ear against the phone as well, straining to hear the conversation.
"... I am someone who needs to find Haji,"
"You're the girl who answered the phone last time, correct?" yes, David had called Haji earlier and asked about the mysterious girl who had answered, and after hesitating for a beat too long he reported. It baffled David that Haji would do something even slightly risky like that, but when questioned with why he would save the girl in the first place, the dark knight had no answer for him. He told Haji she couldn't stay with him, especially with Nathan around, and that he needed to find a way to get rid of her.
'I'll distance myself from her.' was the flat response. David advised him as soon as he did, to move again.
"You won't find him." the voice on the other end was stunned into silence. David waited, pushing the red headed man's face away from the phone.
"I'm sorry... this was a mistake," her voice wavered, uncertainty and embarrassment tainting her words. So that confidence in the beginning of the conversation was all a weak facade. She seemed to crack under pressure.
"Before you hang up," David kept his voice smooth, perfectly calm, so that the girl would listen. She stayed quiet, but he knew she was ready to end the awkward call. "know that what Haji does is dangerous. He has no time to be babysitting a lost little girl. Be thankful you haven't gotten too involved... stop searching for him." with that, he hit the end button.
"Wasn't that a little harsh?" Kai commented flippantly, snatching the phone back and putting it on the receiver as he rubbed his sore head.
"She needs to be aware that she can't continue searching for him. I suppose after Haji distanced himself from her and moved she came back to the apartment looking for him." Kai scratched the back of his neck listening to David. "She kind of reminds me of you, Kai." said man raised an eyebrow before a lazy smile tugged on his lips.
"In that case, she could be a real problem."
"... let's hope not. If something goes wrong, we'll be on the first plane to Paris." the two men stood quietly, mulling over that thought before David spoke again. "What I want to know is... how she got Omoro's number."
First things I bought with my Euros were a hairbrush, a toothbrush and a small purse to keep a few items. I avoided conversation as I bought the items, quickly heading into the bathroom after my purchases and detangling my mess of locks along with cleaning my teeth. I smiled at the dirty mirror as my hair was finally tamed, inky black strands water falling down my back and hugging my face. My breath didn't reek anymore and I bought some small snacks as I left the store, trying to conserve my Euros.
"So," I said to myself, munching on some jelly filled pastry. "where oh where is Haji?" none of the people passing by could understand what I was saying and simply ignored me. I stood beside a bench as I finished the treat and tossed the napkin in a can, licking the excess jelly off my fingers. People in dark suits hustled by, some children skipped alongside their mother as they seemed to argue about something. I pushed my hands deeper into my jacket pockets, feeling I was right back to square one, except now, I was completely alone. That thought hit me hard. I was alone. In this huge city of Paris with no idea how to read or speak the language. Trepidation crept into my chest as I realized how alone I really was. I knew all of four people. Haji, the mysterious girl, Nathan, and my sister Magnolia- and she didn't really count because I didn't actually meet her yet.
My bum found the bench as I plopped down, the weight of the situation sinking in. What if I never gained my memory back? What if I never found Haji and couldn't receive that treatment the girl was telling me about? I stood up and received an icy blast of wind that caused me to wrap my arms around my body, shivering. Paris was a foreign place to me and I was an aimless dot swimming in a pool of unknown territory, and it would show no mercy to lost little girls. What the man on the phone said rang through my head, but I pushed it back and frowned. I may be alone, but that doesn't mean I'm helpless!
My boots stomped down the sidewalk as I let my mind roam around, my feet taking me anywhere they wanted to go. When I stopped and tuned back into my surroundings I kicked myself mentally. I had ended up at the place the girl had told me to go when I had found Haji. A large gray building with at least two stories. It seemed subtly significant, like something important hid behind the monotone walls and dirty windows. I shuffled closer; pondering the reason the mysterious girl would want me to come here with Haji.
"I wouldn't go any closer if I were you,"
Startled, I jumped before quickly turning around to meet a beautiful, pale woman. Her face accented a Japanese heritage, and linked on her arm was a handsome man who seemed French. The woman had light brown hair that fell in ringlets around her face to her shoulders, her dark eyes smiling kindly even though her words were ominous. She was dressed in black jeans and black blouse with a white tank underneath, a large white jacket covering up most of her top clothes. The man was taller than her and dressed warmly as well, with a long face and slicked back black hair.
"Uhm, you speak Japanese?" she felt stupid after asking the question- of course she did! She had just used the language!
The woman merely laughed lightly and smiled again.
"My husband is originally from France but moved to Japan and met me there. It's our 10 year anniversary, and we decided to visit. He speaks Japanese and French while I only speak Japanese and a little French." her explanation made sense and she admired the woman's beauty, envied it even. She suddenly felt very self-conscious and shuffled her feet.
"Oh really?" she smiled and glanced back at the building, recalling what the woman said earlier. "What is this place?"
"No one is really sure," this time the man spoke up, eyeing the building himself. "men come in and out at the strangest hours, and I heard a rumor that a beautiful girl with bright green eyes came from here and started breaking people's arms and harassing civilians. I also heard they're housing genetic mutation experimentation, where they alter a normal person so they have super human abilities. One of the old employees of this place had an appointment for an interview for the newspaper, but he mysteriously disappeared a few days after being fired."
The woman whacked the man on his chest, her face pinched unpleasantly.
"Robert!" he smiled sheepishly at her and mumbled something in French.
"My apologies, he tends to let rumors and his imagination run wild."
She could only nod numbly, her mouth suddenly dry. Bright green eyes?
"Really? Genetic mutation?"
"It's nothing but speculations my dear. In any case though, I wouldn't go near that building. It's very strange and they seem to like to shroud it in darkness. Although, what makes me curious is if it's so high priority, why no gates? No means of protection at all." the woman seemed to get lost in her thoughts as she stared at the building. Her husband eyed her warily before glancing to me and offering his opinion.
"It's because they want to keep it low profile. If they had gates and alarm systems people would know something strange was going on. Maybe they're responsible for the weird outbreak of monsters that was also occurring over ten years ago?"
I turned mechanically back to the building, a new kind of chill running down my spine. This shady building was where I was to hand over Haji? No way. Now I knew something strange was with that girl and her offer.
"Thank you," I smiled and the two wished me well before continuing on their way. When they were out of sight I gazed at the looming building, my legs unable to remove me as my mind tossing around these new ideas like a drying machines tosses around clothes.
With word of the girl with bright green eyes going around, it was hard to pick fact from inflated rumor.
"I heard she was the most gorgeous girl any man has ever laid eyes on!"
"Christian told me she killed four men in the blink of an eye."
"I have a buddy who swears he saw her at the market."
"I believe she's a vampire coming out from hiding."
"Maybe she's another version of those monsters that have been seen around."
"I bet this is all some rumor a guy made about his ex to give her a bad rap!"
Haji stared out the window of the café looking at nothing and listening to everything. His bandaged hand curled under his normal one, resting on the table, his cloudy eyes skimming over the people passing by and his ears trying to pick out a location, a place maybe he could investigate. This mysterious girl could very well be connected to Nathan in some way.
"You know that creepy building over by the corner? I heard that's where she came from." making no noticeable move, Haji singled out this conversation over the others.
"Yup, she just waltzed right out and broke some man's arm. He ended up being hospitalized. Some people saw it happen and ran off."
"No way… guess I'll be staying away from that building!"
Soundlessly, the dark knight rose and exited the café, heading down the street until he reached a sharp turn in the sidewalk leading to a bulky building with gray walls. True to the men's word, it seemed creepy and foreboding. Not a lot of people walked down this street, and it was surrounded by larger buildings and was shadowed immensely due to them. Even at mid-day, darkness still covered the structure, except for the west side where the street continued down to other smaller buildings. A narrow alley ran between the west and east sides, and he found this to be an opportunity.
Haji casually slipped between the east alleyway, moving his cello down and quickly flashing to the back of the alley, looking for a way into the structure.
Haji was more than startled when the sudden presence of something resembling a queen assaulted his senses, drew his breath to a stutter and his steps to halt.
"You must be Haji," his senses reboot into high alert, his body wiping around only to embrace a pinch to his neck.
"Wha-?" the dark alley began to spin rapidly, and Haji desperately gripped the wall for support.
"That girl did a good job. I thought I would have to hunt you down myself, but she brought you to me quick quickly. Where is your little companion, hm? … It doesn't matter I guess as long as I have you."
His head lolled back as what must have been an injection of drugs stripped him of control. Before he knew it, he was on the filthy ground staring up at glowing green eyes.
"That girl you saved said she would bring you to me in exchange for her memory back. Stupid girl didn't realize there is no procedure to regain one's memory; you have to gain it back on your own. She didn't know that though, and easily sold you out." an image of wide brown eyes flashed through his brain and he couldn't quite grasp what his feelings were before being dragged under, his vision going dark and the noises of the world fading away to silence.
That's what her instincts were telling her to do. That's what every bone in her body, every muscle and joint wanted her to do. She had seen Haji and was going to tell him to leave, to never come back to this place and maybe to take her back so she wouldn't be so lost and confused in this city. Maybe if she had caught up with him faster, or called out to him sooner, he wouldn't be on the ground with the malicious girl above him.
When emerald eyes glared back towards her, that's when her body snapped into a dead sprint.
Far, far away. From this mess, from this nightmare that shouldn't even be happening to her. She should have all her memories, know her own name, know her family- but she didn't. Haji could die because of her.
And all he ever did was help her.
When had the payphone glued itself to her ear, and when had she dialed the number on her arm? She didn't recall it, but she didn't care as she heard a weary 'Hello?' on the other line.
"Haji, he's in trouble! Please tell me what to do!"
Well was I right or did I disappoint you? Shorter chapter, sorry I'm finishing typing this at like 12 and I have school tomorrow… I just can't write anymore! Plus I think this is a great spot to leave off at! *Shot for cliff hanger*
Anyways, I sincerely hope my few followers of this story enjoyed this chapter. BUT I'LL NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU REVIEW!