Chapter 9

Ma'am

Black was still awake and was half-listening to the conversation the police officers had, not so far away from the room he was currently resting in. Their conversation merely consisted of Sawada telling his superior about the events in the hospital (including the insult the other officer made towards Black). The young boy was both surprised and grateful at the same time for Sawada who protected him verbally. Now that was something unexpected coming from the frigid officer and that was something Fujimura voiced too. The tired boy let out a yawn and was mimicked by the small feline animal that was resting next to his head peacefully. As he was mildly eavesdropping on the conversation the adults were having, he couldn't help, but wonder about the two other residents in the room. How could they find him so easily? Were they watching over him from afar when he was lost in his own mind?

"So where's White?" he heard Sawada ask and Black slightly turned his ear towards the door to hear better.

"He's sleeping in my office – he offered his room up to Black before he even knew he'd come here. He had another tantrum again. He was screaming about not wanting to die but he wasn't fighting like last time." Last time? Tantrum? Black's eyebrows slid closer as he made a frown. What the heck were they talking about? "From what you told me, he went into this mind-state while Black was attacked, so I assume he somehow felt his brother's life was in danger." Black blinked.

In the past, Gramps had mentioned White had a certain mental ability (or connection?) he couldn't understand nor believe in. But from what he heard just a moment ago, he was now certain that they do share a special bond, just like their caretaker once said. As he thought about it, it did make sense. He could always come to White's aid when he was in immediate danger, or sense whenever his lighter half was about to break into tears. He always arrived onto the scene to save White's ass just a moment before he got hit or caught red-handed in thieving. He never really put much thought into it – he always thought it was pure luck. On the other hand, White mysteriously always knew when not to bother Black with his senseless talks ("Girls don't have peckers! Didya know that?") or when to give his elder partner a sympathetic pat on the shoulder (he didn't really like to receive hugs). So, he concluded silently, they did have a special mind connection afterall.

"Do you think that's the case?" Sawada asked in a bored tone, breaking Black's chain of thoughts,

"Well, I can't find any other possible explanation for that behavior. Besides, the same time Black was raging in that amusement park, White was having that terrible panic attack and then he mysteriously calmed down after he confirmed that Black's okay now."

Did his brother really do that?

He looked to the side to see the cat's sleeping form beside him and notice how the crow, Poe's eyes glistened in the moonlight. The way the bird cocked it's head and the way the moonlight reflected in it's eyes felt like it was saying, 'Why aren't you sleeping yet?'. To that, the boy sighed and turned towards the wall. Sheesh, animals can be so demanding sometimes. Several moments later, he drifted into a peaceful, dreamless sleep.

Just like emerging from a dive into the calm water, White gently awoke from his sleep with a smile. He stretched out in the comfortable office chair he was resting in (his makeshift bed was occupied by Black in the other room) and looked up to the beautiful orange colored morning rays seep into the room through the office window. He didn't know when he fell asleep finally, but he knew it was pretty late when he finally did so. Balancing on the chair's edges he sprung from his resting place and looked around.

Fujimura's office was small and humble – there were papers and documents set neatly on his table and of course, as all policemen's trusted ally, a cup was also sitting proudly on the flat workplace. As White inspected the cup a little more, he noticed that it had a strange dark liquid in it – as he remembered, Fujimura said he always needs a cup of coffee when he's working into the night to keep him go. White went closer to the desk and leaned over the cup to look at the mysterious coffee more. What did it taste like? Was it good?

He quickly looked around to ensure no one was looking, and gingerly lifted the cup towards his small lips. The moment he took a sip of the dark liquid, a bitter and sour taste invaded his taste buds and he almost dropped the cup, but instead, slammed it back to it's place while trying to spit out the unfavorable taste.

"Eeeew!" he whined as he eyed the cup with a grimace. It had such a nice smell, but it tasted horrible! How could Fujimura drink this?! Adults are really weird…

Really soon he got bored of just staying inside of the office, so he swiftly made his way towards the door. As he turned the doorknob and opened his way out, there right at the threshold stood his newly adopted parent with a tired smile. Guessing by that, White thought the man didn't sleep much at night.

"Good morning White. I assume you took a sip from the coffee?" the old man asked, humor shining in his eyes. That meant he wasn't angry at him for not asking before sipping. White let his signature grin spread on his small face,

"I did and it was horrible. What's for breakfast?"

Fujimura raised an eyebrow, "I thought you're going to wait till your brother wakes up."

To that, White pouted, "But I'm hungry now!"

The officer sighed in defeat and turned around,

"I'll see what I can grab from the bakery store. Stay inside the building, alright? After you both had breakfast, we are leaving to create your official ID cards."

It's not like White really understood what Fujimura was talking about, but he nodded nonetheless, "M'kay! I'll wait then!"

Just as Fujimura started going towards the entrance, the stairs next to him which lead upstairs, creaked, and a very messy-headed young scarred boy was walking down, one hand rubbing his eye and the other trying to comb his hair out of his face. As he was descending down the stairs, White noticed how he still limped and was careful not to put too much pressure on his wounded leg.

Despite knowing how grumpy his brother was in the mornings, it was in White's daily routine to pester him,

"Good morning, Black!" he chirped as the older brother slowly and finally got down and still kept rubbing his eye. Just as White was about to continue, both he and the officer noticed the small feline animal that was following the older boy like a shadow. It padded down and landed gracefully at it's young owner's leg and rubbed itself against it. Despite the affection it gave, all Black did was let out a grunt to White's greeting.

The younger brother only smiled as he knew about the cat, while on the other hand Fujimura was surprised to see an animal in the office.

"Black?" he let out and still kept staring at the cat who now began to purr and circle around the boy, still rubbing itself against his legs. Black finally stopped rubbing his eye, but kept his hand on his face as he gave a flat look to their caretaker.

"What?" he grunted, but Fujimura ignored his grumpiness.

"There's a cat at your feet…" he began slowly. Black snorted and White began to giggle but he tried to stifle it by putting his hands to his mouth. He knew how precious the cat was to his brother and he also knew what happened to those who just looked at his pet the wrong way. His brother was the embodiment of the expression "Possessive".

"I know." He rasped. The cat decided it had enough circling and now it stood up on it's two legs, stretched itself out, and put it's forepaws on his knees, begging for attention. White mused on the conversation and wondered when the cat will give up.

It seems like when Fujimura said he'd adopt them, he decided to grow parental instincts and behavior aswell. He was now wearing a serious expression as he spoke again,

"You never told us you had a pet."

And it seems like White's older brother decided to enter the teenager state, when the young adolescents just love to rebel and look at the adults as enemies. Black already had that feature, now he seemed to gain the being "sarcastic and brash" feature.

"You never asked." He grunted and let his hands fall to his side. To the cat's constant pestering, he finally leaned down and gathered the small animal into his arms. The cat began to rub it's face against his cheek. Despite the loving animal's actions, the boy still had that stone cold stoic face when he looked at Fujimura. The officer sighed, seemingly pissed off by Black's sudden brashness. He knew they had a long and rocky way to go till the both of them are big enough to start their own individual life.

The officer put his hands on his hips and gave him his most serious expression,

"It would have been nice to know. Besides, I'm not even sure the neighbors would approve of us having a pet. Besides, you can't take care of it as-"

"Her." He cut in impudently, still no emotions shown neither on his face, or in his tone. "She's a female cat."

Fujimura tried not to be angry at his newly-adopted teenager, so he cleared his throat, "What really is important right now, is that you cannot take care of the… cat as intensely as you did before. You will go to school, so will your brother and I won't be home most of the times. Whereas-"

"She's fine on her own." He cut in again as the cat shifted in his arms, "And she's a stray cat. She wouldn't be in the house a lot."

"But still, Black. We need to take her to the vet, give her injections if you want to take care of her. Either she's your pet, or a stray cat. She cannot be both."

Black lowered his gaze to Fujimura's words when White chimed in, "What's a wet? Do we have to get her have a bath?"

Fujimura quickly told White what a vet is and then turned his attention to Black, "I see she's quite fond of you. You want to have her as a pet, right?"

The scarred boy didn't say anything for a short time. He shifted his weight so less weight was weighed on his injured leg and then he replied,

"That's up to her."

Fujimura seemed to understand and nodded, "I do hope that's everything you hid from me, Black. No more secrets, okay?"

The boy looked up to the officer and bobbed his head as the sign of his approval. The older man now turned to the entrance and grabbed the doorknob. Unbeknownst to them, White had an evil grin on.

"Alright then. I told White before, but I'll tell you too. I'll go and get you something to eat then we'll finally create your ID cards." His gaze now took more inspection to the older boy's hair, "…But we should do something with your hair first. Don't you agree?"

For the first time in the morning, Black had an emotional expression on his face. His lips twitched downwards to a bitter frown as he replied, "It was always Gramps who cut our hair. When he was busy, I'd cut White's hair. For my hair sometimes I did it myself but… it's too long now."

To that, Fujimura's expression softened. "I see. I'll arrange an appointment with a hairdresser friend of mine. Is it okay?"

For a moment, the scarred boy's eyes narrowed but then he calmed down when the cat meowed, "Sure."

And that was the moment which was destined to be disturbed by a yet unseen member of the group. At first, all they could hear was a high-pitched and very, very loud "kaw". To that, everyone's attention immediately turned to the room's entrance which Black stepped out of. While White and Fujimura had a questioned look on their faces, Black's face was the typical example of "Oh My God". A fragment of a second later, a feathery arrow with wings shot out from the room, spread its wings to halt its fast burst out. With a flap, it turned ninety degrees, let out yet another "kaw" which strangely sounded happy, and with a diving move, it aimed for the poor scarred boy. Before it could have collided with his face, it immediately spread it's wings again and elegantly landed on it's master's shoulder, it's talons securely but not painfully etched into his shirt.

The bird calmly cocked it's head and let out a questioning "kaw".

White couldn't control it anymore. He burst out laughing, falling on his butt while Black let an embarrassed and sheepish smile light up his features as Fujimura's face got distorted with every passing second.

"…Takeru…?" he called the boy in a warning tone. Black was always proud of his survival instinct. It never failed him and always warned him when the situation grew dire and he needed to do a turn in his life. This was one of those moments, when his survival instinct immediately alarmed him to be nice. So he forced himself to calm down and decided to be nice while trying to ignore the laughter emitting from his little brother.

"….Yes?" as if on cue to make things worse, Poe let out another kaw and affectionately began to peck on his master's ear. It was clearly hungry, but he showed it in the worst time possible. Fujimura's eye twitched.

"Is that another pet of yours?" he said each word quieter and slower so the boys knew their new "father" was on the edge of bursting into a tantrum. To his dangerously low voice, White stopped laughing and kept looking at his new "family".

Even though he didn't mean to be cocky, the truthful answer was what he spoke cautiously,

"Sort of." Before he could have gotten a lecture, he quickly added, "Whenever I jump from roof to roof, he sometimes accompanies me and I sometimes feed him."

"And he usually covers us from the skies!" White shouted, worsening the situation. Fujimura was at a loss of what to say. He put his hands onto his face and let out a long, exhausted sigh. He was defeated mentally. This was going to be a long day.

"Just keep the animals away from the papers and people, okay? No one will tolerate them here."

Both of the boys let out a whisper of approval as he exited his part of the police department.

Just how many secrets did these boys have?

The boys inside were still a little surprised, but the purring and the small sounds the crow made slowly nagged them back to reality.

"D'you think Pa's mad at us?" White asked Black as he was sitting on the floor Indian style. Even though Black would have looked relatively nice with his animal friends on him, he still looked dangerous as he snapped disbelievingly at White,

"Who?!" he sounded more confused than angry.

"Pa." White replied and cocked his head towards the closed door. "Y'know. Fujimura."

Something boiled within Black. The cat, feeling that, licked his cheek, but he ignored it, "He's not our "pa", White. He just adopted us."

White, as if he was only having a light conversation with his brother, chirped back happily, "But that's just it, Black. He adopted us, so that makes him our Pa!"

Black turned to his brother swiftly, which made Poe dangerously sway on his shoulder, so he had to open his wings in order to not fall off. He kawed in protest and hit his beak against Black's temple, as a sign of his frustration.

"That still doesn't make him our-so-called parent, White. He did it, because as he said, he feels responsible. No honest feelings at all." If his arms were free, he'd crossed them, but instead, he huffed, "You don't understand yet. You will, when you get older."

White slowly stretched his hands and looked at his hands with a small, knowing smile. "Bullshit."

Black blinked as his eyes widened. White never swore in his life, so this was very sudden, "What…? And how dare you talk like-"

"Liar, liar, pants on fire." White sang as he looked at his brother with that smile of his, "Yous always says that, when yous not agree. And you talk dirty. I got that from you."

Black's shocked expression didn't wear off and he didn't care that the cat was now nipping at his hair and pawing at his cheek. He always avoided talking dirty in front of his little brother. Why was he talking so fluently? So dirtily? How come he started to disobey him? Not to mention, have a person placed above him? This whole adoption story once again tore White away from him. And he didn't like it one bit. He was his only family, and he started to shy away from him again.

Before he could say anything, White cut in calmly, "Why? We called Gramps Gramps, but he was never our real grandpa, y'know?" he gave a knowing look to his brother, "Why's you hate Fujimura so much? He tries hard. I do too. You are not."

"Not trying?!" he hissed and for the first time, he looked at the cat. For a moment, his expression softened, but only till he put the feline down. He clenched his fists as he looked at his brother, "Look at us! We never argue on anything. But I see you take sides with that "Pa" of yours instead of me!" he spat, "How could you adapt to the situation so quick?! Live on the streets one day, pampered for in a twirl of a moment? Fujimura could have adopted us sooner if he wanted to help us so much! Don't you understand, White? Being cared for with fake feelings is worse than being alone!"

"He always wanted to help." White said silently, "Yous didn't wanna. You ejected him."

"That's rejected, and he only offered a job. Not a home."

"Would you have accepted that offer?" White asked, but he already knew the answer.

"… No. We were fine as we were back then." Black replied in defeat.

"We weren't." White replied seriously and stood up, surprising his brother. "And you know it too, Black. Please, don't hurt Pa. Maybe we can keep our promise with his help." He hiccupped by the end of his sentence. As Black watched he saw his brother's eyes were slowly filling up with tears. "You haven't forgotten our promise, have you? Or do you not want go to the beach?"

In an instant, all of his anger faded as he replied softly, "No. I haven't forgotten. And I want it too."

White smiled again and ran up to hug his brother, who hissed in pain, as his injured leg suddenly got some weight put on it while Poe kawed and flapped it's wings in annoyance but didn't move an inch.

"White…" Black wanted to tell his brother that his sudden happiness was not fully appreciated by his leg, but as usual, White was acting like… well, like White.

"Black?" he said in a sing-song voice. "I'm hungry."

He hated his overgrown, long hair and he knew they needed to do something against it. His new caretaker didn't take the responsibility to cut his hair instead, asked one of his so-called friends to give him a quick cut. To his surprise, Fujimura said that his friend happily said yes and that she eagerly is waiting for them. Black immediately knew that the old man forgot to say whom he wants to give a haircut to. The boy was a hundred percent sure, that no one in this town would dare to touch him, especially if the said process involves sharp objects to be around him.

Fujimura took out some of the clothes that were in the bag, so they could dress up properly for the weather outside. White insisted to come along, and no one could imagine him not to come, but to the sibling's surprise, Sawada joined in aswell. He explained he's Fujimura's closest colleague and he wants to learn a lot from his boss.

Even though they traveled by car, and they had enough security, Black still felt insecure.

He hoped that the boss of the bounty hunters finally took interest in something else and they would leave him and his brother alone to do all the necessary stuff and get out of this town.

White kept bouncing up and down on his seat, while Black calmly watched his former town being renovated into an amusement park. His wound throbbed dully, but not as much as it did many days ago. He then twisted his hand to look at his palm. The arrow wound now was barely hurting there, and he could see the new line of the scar forming. Another one to add to the collection, he mused.

He blinked as he noticed White's gaze on him. He silently turned his attention to his sibling with a questioning look who shrugged in response.

Suddenly, the car stopped with a soft bump and Fujimura gently said, "We're here!"

The boys looked up at the small and humble saloon. They knew this place by looks, but never really went inside. It wasn't that run down as some of the small shops of the city, but it wasn't too clean either. It was a small hair saloon with it's small circle of customers. The shop itself was poorly decorated, the main colors being red, blue and white. Talk about a colorful service…

Everyone got out of the car, though Black needed a little help from White as he wobbly managed to crawl out of his seat. Even though he was protesting in his mind, Fujimura took him gently by his elbow and helped him walk towards the small building. There was already a scowl forming on his face, but when he heard the whispers of surprise and hate behind him from the streetfolk, his scowl turned colder and angrier. It was enough that he had to wear his hair in a ponytail which was embarrassing enough.

Sawada opened the door for them, and they all welcomed the gentle warmth that was inside the saloon. White of course ran in front them and greeted all the workers there with a grin. Even though Black was never a person of fright instead, the root of it, he still felt a pang of panic when all the workers grinned and greeted White with warmth and kindness.

The reason why he panicked was because almost all of these people had seen what he had done when he lost his mind. And that happened a few weeks ago and he was sure he was not an easily forgettable sight.

One of the workers, a short red haired woman turned to Fujimura with a genuine smile which the officer gladly returned. Black felt like he swallowed a few ice cubes.

"Fujimura my friend! You're just in time! Now who's the little boy I've got to-"her gaze turned to the boy who was clutching onto the officer and her smile immediately melted into pure fear.

As if there was a silent command to do that, everyone in the saloon turned their attention to the pair. In an instant, the warm atmosphere was filled up with the chilling touch of hatred.

And for the first time in his short life, Black was scared.

So, to ease up the situation, he straightened up himself, and politely said,

"Good day, ma'am."

The woman immediately began to tremble as he spoke to Fujimura again, "F-Fuji… you… you know who this boy is!? Right?!"

Despite the dramatic change, Fujimura remained calm, "Yes, my friend, I know. But I ensure you, he's not going to throw a tantrum or hurt anyone. He's being nudged to the good path."

"But we saw him-"

"That was in the past, Miss Kachiko. Please, trust me. Black is not that rampaging kid anymore."

The woman swallowed and hesitantly turned to look at the boy, who was trying his best to do a good impression. He knew he still had a scowl look on his face, so he tried to copy White's friendly grin. His mouth twitched upwards and let his teeth to be shown. Even though he tried his best to smile, it turned out to be a sick and twisted sadistic grin. He couldn't see as White facepalmed himself when he saw how terribly Black failed to grin friendly.

The woman seemed to take the good-hearted sadistic grin the wrong way and she shook more. She stepped back one step and with a shaken tone, she whispered,

"C-come and sit h-here, please. J-just don't h-hurt me, okay?"

"Thank you, ma'am." He let go of Fujimura, but in that instant he let his injured foot take more weight than before, he stumbled forwards, making all the workers shriek in fear and jump back reflexively. He couldn't even have the chance to fall, as White was there in a flash and grabbed his older brother. He grinned as he put the scarred boy's arm around his neck to support him.

"Wibbly-wobbly, Blacky-wacky!" White sang much to his brother's annoyance as he led him to the chosen chair. He sat down, while the others took seat somewhere around and were calmly watching the woman hesitantly preparing her work.

As she put the blanket-like linen around the boy's neck, she accidently put it too tight around the boy's neck, and he instantly let out a small groan of pain. As if she was bitten, she immediately sprang away from the chair and held up her arms, despite Fujimura's yell to stop acting childishly.

"I'm-I'm so sorry! Please, don't hurt me! I'll loosen it!"

Despite the choking feeling, the boy remained surprisingly calm and polite, "Thank you, ma'am."

Somewhat calmed by his politeness and knowing the police is here aswell, the woman finally got down to her work and almost forgot who her client was. The boy bore with the constant touching surprisingly well. The moment she first touched his hair, he felt the urge to punch her in the gut and run away from the place as far as he could, but he had to restrain himself from doing so. After about ten minutes later, he got used to the feeling and relaxed his muscles.

Miss Kachiko was doing the finishing touches on his hair when suddenly due to the small nervousness she still had in her, the scissor slipped off from her fingers. She let out a yelp, and instinctively pulled her hands back instead of reaching for the tool.

Black however, was not someone to have slow reflexes. The moment he saw the metallic tool flying from his head, his muscles began to work and he caught the scissor in his hand with perfect ease. He turned to the red head woman who was now again trembling since Black had a weapon in his hand. Everyone stood up and some of the workers began to shout something like "trustworthy?!" or "killer".

Time seemed to slow down and the woman saw the pain and grief in the boy's eyes as he twirled the scissor, so the blades were pointing at him and stretched his arm out to the woman so that she could take that darned thing. In an apologetic tone, he said,

"You dropped your scissor, ma'am." He looked down, "And I don't want to hurt you. I'm sorry."

That was the moment when Miss Kachiko felt most ashamed ever in her life. Up until this day, she never have forgotten this moment. Those sorrowful eyes, she will never forget.

Her expression warmed and she gently took the tool,

"Thanks, boy. Just a few snips and you are done, okay?" she said warmly. The boy silently nodded, still not averting his gaze away from the floor.

The rest of the time they spent at the saloon was not much and was spent uneventfully.

"Hey, hey, hey, hey!" White yelled as they sat in the car again, this time headed for some office of one kind to create their ID. The darker half of the siblings, who now had gotten his old look with a little spike back looked at his brother with interest. His hair wasn't as short as it used to be, but it was in the same style, but slightly longer.

"What?" he asked in a bored tone.

White grinned and he ruffled his own hair up and he shook his head like a dog would do when it shakes off the water. He looked like as if he had gotten out from a wild fight or something else.

"Guess what I am now!" he chirped.

Black smiled, "A crazy maniac, who just got very friendly with electricity."

White grinned in reply, "Perfect! You perfectly told me your own look!" Black let out a fake-hurt gasp,

"Why you-!" he began to tickle his brother who screamed in laughter, but their fun was ended by Fujimura who was devastated at how the two looked by the end of their playfight. Sawada could only laugh at those two.

They both looked disheveled but for the first time, they were both laughing and smiling happily.

Just one small step, but still it is a valuable one.

And they were about to get their pictured taken for the ID.

A long journey they had in the future indeed.