CHAPTER 14:

AUTHOR'S NOTE:

I'm so happy tons of people reviewed the last chapter but how come nobody reviewed the chapter before that? Is it possible that you guys have unintentionally skipped it? I posted two chapters last time, you guys. It was my New Year's gift to you

Okay, enough rant now. Enjoy!


I stared at my hands, still trembling with anger. I lost the intel. I stupidly lost the intel! If only I had more time. If only the man got to finish his last words.

This girl needs help...

Hurry up, dammit!

Don't you fucking die on me, Nadeshiko! Don't you-

The white tiles on the floor stared at me accusingly, my bloody hands dripping on them made me even more frustrated with myself.

My eyes travelled up my body. The white coat I had on was completely smeared with red, bright blood. I bet my face was covered with this red liquid, too.

The event replayed on and on in my mind as I waited for the doctor to come.

The hitmen.

The blood.

Nadeshiko getting shot.

I slumped on the bench and buried my eyeballs in my palm, pushing them in until it hurt. Water smeared the crusted blood on my hands. Huh. I didn't know I was crying. I didn't even know I was still capable of doing so.

Rapid footsteps echoed through my ears, making them temporarily alert. The next thing I knew, I was lifted off my seat and was hurled to the nearest wall.

"You bitch! What did you do to Nadeshiko?!" Rima's red-rimmed eyes stared at me accussingly like the tiles did a while ago. As much as I wanted to push her away, I let her grill me as much as she wanted. I hope she felt the self-reassurance that she longed for.

She slapped me across the face, getting her pretty, clean hand dirty with all the blood. "How the hell did this happen?!"

I shook my head, with nothing to say at all. Suddenly, I felt Rima ease up on me. Nagihiko pulled her away and took me into his arms.

That was all I needed just to snap out of my little self-blaming bubble.

"She wasn't supposed to get hurt," I murmured against his chest.

He ran his fingers through my hair. "Shush," was all he said.

He guided me back to the bench and held my hand. I gazed down my leg. My tight bluish-white jeans was ripped because of blade that gave me the wound. Blood drenched its delicate fabric. My fingers traced the cut expecting pain but felt nothing.

Huh. Just as I thought.

Nagihiko grabbed my hand away so fast it was as if I'd electrocute myself if I touched my wound. "You're hurt,"

I shook my head. "It's nothing,"

"Doesn't look nothing to me,"

I raised my head up to see who said that. Lilac hair popped out, sapphire blue eyes filled with unexpressed concern.

"It's just a scratch, Kiseki," I insisted.

I gloved hand took my free hand and pulled me up. My eyes lifted up. Yoru. He winked at me and gave Nagihiko a reassuring smile.

"I'll take our heroine to the nurse. You take care of your sister, ex-King,"

Tss. Stupid Yoru.

A sigh came out of my lips. I guess there was no escaping this. I tried to stand up but my legs gave in, making me sit back down. Yoru chuckled to himself.

"Let me carry you, princess," he said and lifted me up bridal style.

He, then, whisked me away without a single care in the world.


"You could've at least used an anesthesia, you know," I winced as Yoru began stitching me up.

Apparently, Yoru had connections in the hospital which was far from Amulet Hospital, by the way, and apparently, (again) he was training to be a nurse early. So here we were, me sitting on a morgue bed and Yoru stitching me up with - thankfully - sterilized needles.

And you ask why we didn't bother asking other medical staff to help us? Well, we didn't want my name on the list of patients. And of course, I needed to be able to get in and out of the hospital if I necessary.

He softly dabbed an antiseptic drenched cotton on the deep cut on my shoulder. Its sting almost made me cry. I had never experienced a wound this deep.

"Ikuto wanted to come but I knew you'd flip if he left your sister's side," Yoru suddenly said.

I snapped my head to his direction. "Don't tell me you-"

He cut me off by nodding. Then, he dabbed more antiseptic on my shoulder, making me wince again. "I'm not paid but I help him whenever I can. He is my cousin, after all,"

"The night he came to your balcony bleeding," he continued, "He was out waiting for assassins sent for you. There were at least fifteen of them and only one of him,"

I gasped as Yoru stitched the wound on my shoulder. "Fifteen well-trained killing machines and he finished them all. He must be really good," I couldn't help but be amazed.

We were quiet for a while as he continued on closing up my gaping wound. I had to say, Yoru was rather a good nurse. Maybe this was the way he helped Ikuto out. In less than fifteen minutes, he finished by cutting off the excess thread.

"I suggest not to move around a lot but you being you, I'm guessing that's nearly impossible," Yoru teased.

I looked at him blandly, waiting for him to just carry on with what he was doing.

"Stop hanging around with the twins," he suddenly said.

I was taken aback. "Nagi and Nadeshiko?"

"Yes," he nodded, "And their cousins, too,"

Cousins?

I wanted to ask him why but Yoru spoke up first. "They're bad news, Amu. I can't tell you here but you have to know that the more you spend time with them, the closer you get to dying,"

My tongue left my mouth. I didn't know what to say so I just let him spill all he had to say. "The hitmen earlier weren't for you. They were for Nadeshiko,"

"Wait," I searched his eyes, "How'd you know that?"

"As I said, I can't tell you here. Just trust me on this, Amu," his honey-lemon eyes were genuinely expressing concern.

After all our efforts to avoid this. Why now, of all times?

I nodded but I wasn't sure if I was even agreeing to that.


Ikuto prohibited me from going out of the campus anymore. I agreed to it but I didn't know why. The news about Nadeshiko being hospitalized spread in the school like wild fire. Although the Guardians and the Assembly agreed not to mention the details of her being there. They made something up and let everyone believe that shit.

The night I went back to the dorm, I immediately ringed Dad about what happened. At first he was worried to death, then he bacame furious at himself and finally he settled on hiring the cream of the crop of all security. I hadn't told him about Ikuto yet. Though, I doubt if I should.

It had been a week since that day. And it had been five days since I locked myself up in our room. At first I went to classes like I normally did: pissing off teachers by walking in late, eating in classes and walking out early. But then it suddenly felt unneeded. It felt robotic and mechanical. So I stopped going.

Ami, on the other hand, continued to go to school and I insisted that Ikuto would look after her. At first Ami protested but after I showed her my stitched up cuts she complied. Ikuto didn't go to classes, too. Though I doubt he needed to go there still.

No one other than the quads, Ami, Yoru and Ikuto contacted me on my phone. Not even Nagi.

Sigh.

The more I thought of Nagi, the more I got confused. I was starting to realize maybe we acted so impulsively. Right now I couldn't even wrap my head around it.

I stood up from my bed, leaving all my worries behind. My hand brushed the digital clock on my bedside table. It read 4:57 pm. I walked to the shower and bathed myself. The stitches were already gone but my wounds were still fresh. After I showered, I covered them with gauze and dressed up.

5:21 pm, my clock read.

By now, Nadeshiko's visitors were probably gone. This was the day she got out of the hospital and surely tons of people would want to visit her. Suu said people asked her to bake cookies for them to bring to the newly-discharged girl. The master chef willfully obliged.

I shrugged on a thick hoodie. It was in the middle of December. Needless to say, it was freezing cold outside.

I opened the door and checked the hallway if there were people. The hallway was empty. Unconsciously, I wondered why Ami and Ikuto were late.

My shoes made soft tap tap sounds as I lightly walked through the quiet hallway. It was eerie as to how silent the place was. Where were the students?

As I headed for the stairs, I was harshly pulled by the hood of my sweater. I immediately stopped on my track and got slammed to a massive chest.

"Where are you going, love?" his voice gave chills to my spine.

I spun around and faced him eye to eye. "I'm going to see Nadeshiko,"

His naturally dark eyes darkened even more. The glare pinned me to the flood. "You can't," he simply said.

Anger coursed through my veins. I was tired of being ordered around. I'm seventeen, for heaven's sake!

"I want to see her. And I will," I firmly said, standing my ground.

"She won't remember you,"

I furrowed my brow. What the hell does he mean?

"A week in the hospital can't possibly make her forget the person who saved her life,"

"But a severe head trauma can,"

"What are you saying, Ikuto?"

"Fujisaki Nadeshiko has amnesia, Amu. She can't even remember her own face. Much less yours,"

Ikuto's words were successful again at making chills run up my spine. His words didn't even make sense. How could she lose her memories when she didn't even get hit aside from that gunshot.

Then I remembered.

She hit her head when she fell down.

I lifted my eyes only to face our dorm room. It didn't even occur to me that Ikuto was already guiding me back to our room. The shock blinded me. I snapped out of my trance when I heard the door click behind us.

"Get a hold of yourself, Amu," Ikuto shook me by the shoulder, "Think about it. Nobody knew you took her to the hospital. She couldn't remember a thing either. There's no witness to the killing in the parking lot. Things are easier to cover up now that Nadeshiko forgot everything,"

I looked into his eyes. And as I stared into his dark blue gems, I knew in my mind that he was right. It was easier to cut my ties with her and her twin if she forgot everything about me.

I nodded. "I get it,"


I was munching down on my apple as the oh-so diligent and oh-so grade conscious students of Charanari High scrambled down the hallway, fearing to get a tardy slip for the first hour. My foot connected with the edge of my locker and playfully entered the combination of my lock. The locker opened almost immediately. I smiled to myself.

"Excuse me, can you guide me to the Physics laboratory?"

"Sure thing, Nade-chan!"

My eyes darted to the direction that sickly sweet voice came from. Huh. Saaya. She looped her arm with Nadeshiko and strutted down the hall. I followed them with my eyes.

That's right. I'm the one better off without her. Not the other way around.

I slammed my locker shut and headed for the exit. Classes made me sick. I'm ditching.

As I lazily walked through the now-deserted hallway, I unconsciously thought of Ami. Even with Ikuto protecting her, I still couldn't keep myself from worrying. Maybe I'd calm down if I was the one watching her. Distantly, I heard the second bell ring, signaling the start of all first hour classes.

My hand reached for the door and I slipped quietly into the snow-covered pathway to the dormitories. It was really freezing outside and with barely a wool sweater on, the chills were enough to shake me to my bones.

I dropped the half-eaten apple on the white blanket of ice and took my cellphone out. Ever since Nagi gave up his chair and dismissed the two other positions, I noticed that he was often ditching classes - especially the first hour.

My pale fingers punched in a text for him to meet me here. With the stuff in this school going on like crazy, I needed to clear up a few things with him.

After that fight with Kiseki in the detention room, he told me that Kiseki broke two rules from the rulebook and Rima broke one. It never occured to me that the Guardians were more than student council. And clearly, after everything Nagi spilled away, the Guardians were definitely not just some boring council.

I wasn't sure if Dad knew about this but I pretty much doubt he did. I wanted to tell him right away but considering my father's sometimes irrational reasoning, I might endanger not only their lives but also mine – endanger it more in my case. Apparently, the former King already knew who I was and what I did. What he didn't know, though, was that I already had an axe hovering about my neck and by simply associating himself with me, he was asking an axe for himself, as well.

They were some special task force created by the school's President - that other mafia lord. They weren't allowed to kill but they were assigned to several drug dealings every now and then. Sometimes they were even made to hire men to kill those enemies of the President.

Nagi wanted himself out of those bullshits. And so, he planned with me, bribing me with information he said would be useful if I needed it. Nadeshiko was already out of the Guardians by that time and was protected by the Assembly. His only concern was his precious Rima.

I had to admit, I was pretty much taken aback when he boldly asked me to help him with his plan. And me being the intel-hungry one, agreed to it. So, he staged a break up scene between him and Rima; pretended to date me; and caused Rima to become so jealous she'd be mad enough to violate the student handbook.

You see, the only way for a Guardian to be dismissed from his Chair without being expelled was to have the King take away his Chair - which was the case with Rima. The Assembly was only allowed to 'free' someone from the Guardians if that Chair wielder had not been involved in the black market yet. And that pure soul was Nadeshiko.

Now, if I understood it correctly - which I was pretty sure I did, Nagi was able to denounce his Chair without being expelled because he had a member of the Assembly convinced to take a Chair from the Guardians. Utau agreed to step down and accept the Queen's Chair, enabling Nagi to withdraw from the Guardians.

In that case, Utau's main intention was still murky to me. But as long as everything went exactly as planned, I couldn't care less.

So it sounded pretty much like we used each other to get what we want. That's probably the easiest way to describe our situation right now. Everybody seemed to buy our little act, though.

"Hey," a voice greeted me.

Not long after, I felt the false comfort of my fake boyfriend giving me a warm hug from behind. I caressed his hand curled across my shoulders, playing my role like the good partner I was.

"Hey," I greeted back.

His arms wrapped tighter around me as he enclosed me fully in his chest. I suddenly found myself succumbing to the warm thing that was him. Nagihiko turned me around so I faced him and buried my head in his tingling chest.

I sighed. How perfectly executed this act was, only to be witnessed by no one. It was like our other acts. The flowers. The kiss. Everything.

"I heard about Nadeshiko," I whispered.

He nodded. "It was a blessing in disguise. At least now she doesn't have the knowledge to get herself killed,"

"Gee, how optimistic of you, dear boyfriend of mine," I sarcastically said, my face still buried in his chest.

"So when do you plan to break up with me?" Without even looking up I heard the smile from his voice.

Ever since he took Rima's Chair away, we've been planning to 'break up' so that he'd be able to win back the blonde former Queen. But given all that happened to me this past few days, we were unable to find the right chance to do so.

I lifted my head away from his chest. "Any time you want,"

Nagihiko gave me a mischievously meaningful grin as he titled his head to the right side. I feigned that I had to scratch the back of my head and glanced at the direction he hinted. A petite girl wearing a white fur coat was watching our little act. Her dark purple hair was so dark it almost looked black. Red eyes glistened as she stared at us under the winter sun.

I flashed Nagi a furrowed stare, hoping he'd take the cue.

"Let's stop fooling ourselves. This isn't working out," he said loud enough so our little news-spreader would hear.

"I knew that. I just wanted to drag this as long as I could," I shook my head and slowly detached myself from him, forcing myself to fake teardrops. Maybe it was the stress, maybe it was the heaviness of the scene that I actually managed to produce tears.

He brushed a soft, bubblegum strand away from my face and wiped a tear away. "I still love her,"

My false tears suddenly rushed down my cheeks like a released dam. "I know," I reached up for his angelic face and with all the courage I could muster, I gave him one final fake kiss, "That's why I'm breaking up with you, Nagi,"

After being sure our eavesdropper saw everything she needed to see, I dashed to the dormitories and locked myself up in my room again, feigning heartbreak.


AUTHOR'S NOTE:

Alright! It's official. The Amuhiko Era ends in this chapter. Don't forget to review, dear friends :)

With all the love for writing,

Lace Ashdown