I was nervous as I ate breakfast that morning, I looked at my mom and it seemed like she wasn't very sure either, but she said nothing about it as she put a plate in front of me, "Here Jirou you need your strength for today. I know you're nervous but your friends and siblings will get your through the day then you can come home and sleep okay?" she asked kissing the side of my head. I nodded a bit and let her kiss the side of my head as I started eating.
Apparently Taro has a bike but he decided not to drive it today. He walked with the rest of us to school, he said he was going to supervise me today. It was Friday, so I can take a day to get comfortable then rest up during the weekend. Seemed smart enough.
It was a little overwhelming to be honest, when I first stepped onto the school grounds, all those people suddenly stopped and stared at me. It was huge news in the school about my accident. Some people whispered behind their hands, others walked up to me asking how I was, but Taro kept them at arm's length.
"H-Hey they don't mean harm," I protested him. Taro just stared at me.
"Look, you can get friendly later, right now, you focus on school, focus on adjusting then you can get all buddy buddy again," he turned his head to the crowd of students, "Alright listen up! Yeah, Jirou is back, that does not mean you crowd him, He's not at 100% and until he is, he is not leaving my sight. If you overwhelm him he will lose consciousness or worse, and if you cause that I will drag your sorry ass behind a dumpster and you will not like our trip behind the dumpster. Am I clear?"
The guys all paled a bit and nodded, though the girls, strangely looked at him like a dog in heat.
"Good, you can say hi, just don't overwhelm him," he added, "spread this like wildfire, I want the entire school to know," he said waving his hand in a dismissive manner.
I was in shock, well... he certainly had pull around the school. Didn't have to be so rude about it though. As the crowd dispersed a group of girls came over to us.
"Oh Taro you're such a caring brother, if you or Jirou need anything at all, anything," she added with a wink, I shuttered slightly at it, "let us know," she purred slightly.
"Yeah yeah," Taro grumbled, he glanced at me, "lets get to homeroom."
The girls followed us, "Hey Taro."
"You think you have time to help me?"
"Taro," another purred.
My elder brother got agitated, I saw the twitching of the eye as the girls crowded him with questions and trying to get his attention. Seems he's a really popular guy despite being a meanie head. He only took it for a couple of minutes before pinching the bridge of his nose. "Look I obviously don't have time for any of you right now okay? I have more important matters at hand. Bother me later if you need to," he said grabbing my arm and dragging me away. I heard them swooning at him even as we left.
"He doesn't have time for us, what a hulk."
"What a family man, sticking up for his little brother."
"I'd kill to be his Mrs. Uchiha."
"I'd kill just for his baby."
"I wish he'd drag me behind a dumpster."
I paled and hurried ahead to keep pace with Taro. Teenage girls are scary creatures!
Taro was given permission by the principle to shadow me until I settled back into my routine. He lead me to all my classes and didn't allow anyone, not even Kairi near me. I tried arguing with him about it, like seriously he was going to have to get over I had a girlfriend. But he was kinda right, seeing all these faces and having to learn so many things, I had a headache starting to brew by the time he lead me to my swimming class. I just weakly waved at Kairi told her I'd text her later and she can show me around on Monday but right now I was feeling a little overwhelmed. I pouted when she didn't seem happy but well I just didn't feel up to arguing with Taro, the strength wasn't in me today.
When we walked into the pool area my team jumped out shouting 'SURPRISE' to which I lost balance in shock but my brother managed to save me from landing on my ass, or bashing my head again.
They had food and sweets so we could all eat and I could get frequented with everyone. Coach seemed like a decent guy, he patted my shoulder and welcomed me back, told me to enjoy today because on Monday he was throwing me headfirst into the pool, I just need to pray I didn't forget how to swim. I gulped and nodded at him, he only chuckled and said he was glad to have his best swimmer back. My teammates all seemed happy I was back, though one of them dragged Taro off and seemed to be talking with him about something. All I heard was Taro saying, "wait until he's better, then do whatever you promised him alright?"
Hm... wonder what the guy promised me?
The rest of the day went without anything really note worthy, my classes set the day aside so I could try to get re-accumulated, though the girls that were following Taro around earlier were being really nice to me, winking at me and stuff, I don't get it, if they are interested in my brother why are they looking at me?
I was a bit relived when I got home, finally some familiarity. Mom greeted me at the door with pain killers and sweets, then ushered me to my room to rest before dinner. I happy took some painkillers then ate the sweets while I texted Kairi, again apologizing about today and promising to make it up to her, then decided to take a nap before dinner. All and all, the day went over pretty well... but I just had this nagging sensation that something was wrong, what? Well... that's what I'm not sure of... I really want to find out though. The girl in my dreams still haunted me, and the only thing I knew was it wasn't Kairi... but who was it?
I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The food in front of me was mocking me, telling me how fat I was. I tried to measure out the amounts in my head. This was about 500 calories, I think. I could skip this easily. But Amaya was staring me down across the table, wanting me to eat. So I did, piece by piece. Guilt wracked my body each time I swallowed a fry. But she seemed to relax a little bit, and I knew this would get her off my back. Ever since Dad locked all the alcohol in a cupboard and told Mom not to buy me anymore, not eating became my way of controlling something in my life. I used to be able to control my level of intoxication. It was fun to just let go. But when I lost that? Well, I just wanted to have something.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t even have this.
Finally, I pushed the empty plate toward Amaya.
“Can I go now?” I asked. “I have dance.”
She sighed, “yeah, sure. Just eat something later, okay? I don’t want you winding up in the hospital.” I nodded and left the cafeteria. I slipped into the bathroom, hid in a stall and shoved a finger down my throat so that everything I ate came right back up. I could see why some people chose bulimia. Nobody could really expect a thing.
“One, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight,” Tachibana said, slamming her cane against the floor to keep the beat. We had been going over my routine for what seemed like hours. I adjusted my elbows, went for the twirl and leap and blacked out, crashing down onto the floor.
I woke up in the nurses office, Daichi sitting by the bed.
“Thank goodness you’re awake, Ai,” he said, look relieved. “Come on, I’ll take you home. The others would be here but I promised to stay and look after you so they could go to their clubs. None of them were too happy about it, though.”
“Thanks, Daichi,” I said weakly. I tried to sit up, but became dizzy and plopped back against the pillow. “Oh god, my head.”
“Come on, I’ll help you stand,” Daichi said, helping me sit up. I swung my legs over the side of the cot and tried to find my foot. Daichi held onto my waist and helped me stay on my own two feet. We made our way toward a cab waiting outside and got in. Daichi rattled off my address and the cab driver took us to my place. Daichi unlocked the door and helped me up the stairs to my bedroom.
“Can you go into the drop drawer and grab leggings and a t-shirt for me? I can’t stay in this damn uniform,” I groaned as he helped me sit on the bed.
“Yeah sure,” he said, heading to my dresser. He dug around then tossed me a pair of black leggings and an All Time Low t-shirt, then turned back around. I unbuttoned the dress shirt, shimmied off my shirt and shoved the leggings on. But when I stood up to pull the leggings up over my butt, I fell forward. Daichi turned around to see what had happened.
“Don’t look! Just get out!” I hollared, panic washing over me. He came over to me anyway.
“Ai, you need help. Come off it, let me help you up,” he said. I pulled me up and sat me back on the bed, then froze. The second that look of pure panic crossed his face, I felt the tears fill my eyes.
My shirt was unbuttoned. He could see my rib cage. I looked sick and disgusting and ugly. This wasn’t some fashion trend, this is a disease. A very real disease that seemed far too real when he could see one of the physical side effects of it.
“A-Ai,” he stuttered. He took note of how visiably upset I was and turned around as quickly as he could manage. I shrugged off my shirt, then pulled the tee on and crawled under the covers.
“Please leave,” I whispered. “Please just go.” Everything inside of me was snapping. I justed wanted to fold myself up, over and over again until I disappeared completely. I had laid on my side, back to him, not able to bear the pity I figured his gaze must have held.
Instead of hearing him shut my bredroom door behind him as he walked out, I felt the covers rustle against me, the mattress shift and him crawl in next to me.
“I don’t want you to be alone right now, Aika,” he whispered in my ear. His arms wrapped around my waist, pulled me against him, held all the little pieces I had together like duct tape. I snuggled against him, felt his breath on my neck. My entire body tingled. I rolled over so I could face him, look him in the eyes. Those lovely green eyes that always reminded me about the leaves on trees right after it rained.
His hand touched my cheek, his fingers strokes my face.
“Please, Ai,” he said. “Try to be healthy again, try to eat. This is killing all of us. Amaya can’t figure out what she’s doing wrong, why she can’t get food into you. You’re terrifying Tekkin, he doesn’t know what’s wrong. You’re scaring everybody.”
After what Amaya had just gone through, the scene in the bathroom, I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her like that again. I couldn’t lose Amaya, she’s my best friend. She’s always been my best friend. We’re partners in crime, we’ve done just about everything together, ever since we were little.
And Tekkin… I couldn’t be the reason he was sad. He had enough reasons. After everything that had happened to that poor kid, I couldn’t be the reason he was sad. Not now, not ever.
Daichi was right, I did have to try to get better. I had to try really hard so I didn’t lose anybody else. But there was one problem with trying to do all of that.
“I’m so scared,” I whispered. I could feel my body trembling, tears rolled over the brim of my eyes.
“Of what, Ai?”
“Losing you all, not being enough, not being able to fix things,” I replied. Daichi pulled me closer.
“Ai, you don’t have to bear any of that alone, and you know it. There is no reason for you to do anything on your own, we’ll always be here for you. All of us, no matter what,” he said. His forehead rested against mine. I weeped, and he just held me close, let me, gave me time to get it all out.
When I managed to calm down, I cuddled into him. He held me as tight as he could.
“Daichi?” I said, looking up at him.
“Yeah, Ai?” he said.
“I love you,” I whispered. The look that passed cross his face sent a shock of fear through me. I pulled away from him, tried to calm the pain in my chest. But he cupped my face in his hands and pulled his lips against my own. I kissed him back, pulled him against me. His fingers found their way down my sides, held onto my hips. My hands pressed against his chest, clutching at his shirt, pulling him closer to me. I pulled away, tried to catch my breath, looked at him in shock.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to hear that, Aika,” he whispered to me, resting his forehead against my own. I closed my eyes, curled against him and fell asleep.
I’d have to try to get better starting tomorrow. I’d have to try something.
Madara hadn't come to bed yet, and it was getting late. I sighed softly and looked at the clock, 11:30, he was usually in bed about 11. I rose from the bed and walked out of the room to his study.
I opened the door and stepped into the office, he didn't even notice, his attention glued to his computer screen. It was easy to tell when he was tired, he'd rub his forehead, his chin would rest on his hand as he'd stare blankly at the computer screen, slight bags would form under his eyes.. I knew the thought that was running his head, Just five more minutes, then I'll call it quits.
"Five more minutes never comes does it dear?" I announced myself.
His head gave a slight jolt as he looked at me, then he gave a me a tired smile as he rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Never comes until you remind me they've already gone."
I came over to him, only stopping to grab his glass and pour some brandy. Carrying the crystal glass over to him I kissed his forehead and put the glass on his desk. "What has you up?"
"Everything," he grunted slightly taking the glass. He slipped the brandy down his throat and sighed returning his attention to the screen. I looked at the computer screen as I put a hand on his shoulder.
"... 'This company wouldn't be anything without my partner and wife Eri'... You know you don't need to try so hard to get laid," I offered a light joke.
"So I can delete this then?" he gave a small chuckle.
"No I like it when you try hard," I smiled kissing his cheek. He only smirked and moved his arm around my waist, effectively scooping me into his lap. I giggled and put my arms around his neck giving him a kiss on the lips. "Now really, whats bothering you?"
"I don't think I should go to this opening, between Jirou and the investigation, I don't think it's a good idea to leave you all."
"There's nothing you can do."
"If this was an attack on the family-"
"If this was an attack on our family, you not going shows whoever did this that we're weakened," I reminded him sternly, "You think I can't handle the house for one weekend? Are you insulting me Uchiha?"
He uttered a soft laugh downing the rest of the brandy, "Never, I don't know what I was thinking Mrs. Uchiha."
"Bad things happen when you don't listen to me Mr. Uchiha," I teased a bit.
"I know full well."
"Well good it only took... what? More then twenty years? Twenty one or twenty two..."
"Are we counting when we met or when we started dating?"
"Hmm, I was counting dating, but what would it be if it was from when we met."
"Then it would be... I believe twenty-four years... maybe twenty five..." he mused slightly.
"God your skull is thick."
I always loved his chuckle, how deep it was, how I can feel it form in his chest how it build deep inside him. I put my head on his shoulder as his hand went to my upper arm, rubbing it slightly with his rough hands.
"I guess they haven't called with any progress?"
I was referring to the Guardians. The specialists they had spoke of came to Jirou's hospital room a couple of days before his release. I watched them as they looked over my sleeping boy with tools and spells. Their white coats surrounding him making me uneasy. I couldn't see him between all the people. Soon they finally left the room, the only words one said to me was that their tests turned positive, and a investigation would be opened. They only proved what I already knew, something magical caused Jirou's accident.
"I wish, it takes time to track magic... but since they waited the trail was probably too cold for them to get anything strong enough to go on..." I heard the slight growl in his tone.
"Madara... don't make me be the voice of reason here, I'm just as pissed as you are."
A slight snort came from his nose as he sat back. He was getting agitated, and frankly so was I. "You might getting me more? Maybe get some for yourself," he half joked referring to the brandy.
"I've been sober for twenty years darling, I don't think now would be a good time to break my sobriety when I need my wits about me," but still I took his glass and got up to refill it, "the children need their mother more then I need to feel better, and they need you too so don't go hitting the bottle in my place."
"I was mostly joking... I know you swore to not drink again," he said taking the glass and scooping me back into his lap, "Besides I'm proud of you for holding that promise, I know it's difficult."
"Then don't go and tempt me," I pouted, "You're my husband I trust you to make sure I uphold my promises if I seem to lose my way."
"Of course, I was teasing."
"We should head to bed soon, I need to check on Taro anyways."
Madara looked at me, "Is he pulling all nighters doing research?"
"Workaholic just like his father," I smiled softly, "I swear I need to buckle you both down to bed."
He snorted a bit, "oh I'm sorry, I recall a time when I yelled at you to go to bed, not vice versa. Having to go so far as to having a bet in place to make you go to sleep. Maybe he got the disregard for sleep from you. I recall actually having to tie you to the bed to win that bet," he smirked.
I felt the heat rushing to my cheeks, I remembered that night very well, "See now Uchiha I don't like your tone, that sounds very accusational," I frowned at him, "also you totally cheated that night."
"You only say I cheated because I won."
"No I say you cheated because you cheated!" I said in a hushed tone. He only laughed and swallowed remaining liquid the glass.
"You're just a sore loser."
"The night is still young dear, we can squeeze that in if you want."
I rolled my eyes, "Well Mr. Comedian I need to check on our son."
"Be my guest."
With that he turned off his computer and we both got up making our way to Taro's room. As I opened the door, I couldn't help but smile. The soft familiar snoring that greeted my ears as I looked in and saw him sound asleep at his desk. Madara walked past me and nudged our eldest on the shoulder, "Son... your mother wants you in bed," he said simply. Taro gave a slight snort as he blinked and yawned as his head raised from the book that was his pillow.
"Bed son," he repeated.
Taro rubbed his eye and looked from the book to his bed, "Y-Yeah... okay..." he said tiredly getting up from his desk. He looked towards the door and saw me standing there, "Night Mom."
"Good night baby," I said stepping in and planting a kiss on his cheek, since I couldn't reach his forehead when he was standing. "Don't forget to change."
He just nodded, "Night Dad."
"Good night son." Madara replied before stepping out of the room closing the door behind him. I smiled at the man as he only gave me a look of confusion, "What?"
"I half expected you to pick him up and tuck him in," I giggled.
"Yes if he was still seven. I think that would be odd to do to an eighteen year old."
"Would have been funny," I smiled.
He shook his head at me, then guided me to bed. It had been a long couple of weeks, and until Jirou got his memories back, it would continue to be trying.
The moon light illuminated the buildings in a silver twilight. I tried not to think of the implications behind the idea of someone checking my room at 2.am. Usually, Mom would make one last check at around 11 to ensure we were all alseep and ready for school. With Jirou condition, she did multiple checks throughout the night. I hope my spell worked, the one that replayed an image of me sleeping in bed. To anyone at the door, it would be enough of a mirage to fool them, considering exhaustion.
I couldn't dwell on it anymore. Getting caught mattered little if I could come back with the prize. Yesterday night Mom and Dad decided to pass off Mac's case to another Guardian. I had been walking by the hall in my pajamas looking to sneak a light yogurt as a 1.am snack when I heard voices in Dad's study which wasn't unusual. Dad usually had late night meetings like this. It wasn't until I heard someone in particular that I was frozen in my tracks.
"It's completely understandable" Mac replied. "I do hope Jirou gets better soon though. When I heard of his accident I was going to come sooner but unfortunately got delayed"
"I'm so sorry Max" Mom said apologetically. "If hadn't had a time frame we would have tried to do so after but it wouldn't be fair of us for our personal life with our family to disrupt finding closure over who took yours away and with Jirou down, Madara focusing on the books, Taro and I focusing on helping Jirou recover. This was our only option"
"We're passing it off to a capable bunch. No worries. They will get the job done" My father assured.
My hands curled to fists, blood rushing through my ears blocking out the rest of the conversation. 'What about me? I wanted to scream. Years of training apparently did not make me equal in the eyes of my father to my brothers. Who got their first chances when they were younger than I was! I wanted to march in there and tell Mac that I could handle it, that I would find the person and prove that they murdered your sister or at least bust them for the illegal activity. I wanted to assure him that the Uchiha house hold wasn't down for the count because my brother and parents had their hands tied but instead, I stood straight and silently made my way to my room.
Sneaking in my Dad's study after he left for work wasn't hard. Finding the Guardian files was. I knew even if he passed the original files, he always kept digital copies. I just needed to find his flash drive. It was a slender chrome plated thing, shaped like a ball point pen with the uchiha symbol engraved on it and stained with ruby paint. Izuna had designed it for him, it held a shit ton of information. Several terra bytes or something. It was one of Dad's proudest held items. I checked his drawers, picking the locks of the ones that had them, magically or otherwise. I checked the safe that was hidden in the floorboards. Mom was downstairs, I had to be careful with how I dealt with it. I removed the lose tiles under the carpet and it showed the ebony colored box beneath with an electronic keypad for combinations. I had seen him gone into it once before, his fingers only clicking around 6 times. 6 digit combination.
"Okay, think if I was dad.."
I tried Mom's birthday, it popped into mind. I put the digits only to get rejected. Izuna must have designed this thing too, it didn't even budge under a spell or attempts at removing it from the ground. The buzzing it made at the error made me thankful I had the room spelled against sounds but god only knew what else this box would do.
I tried everyone's birthday in order and I was running out of tries. Only two more attempts before the box would do whatever it pleased. Dad wasn't twisted enough to make it self destruct so that wasn't in the line of worries. Two more attempts. I chewed on my thumb, trying to think of anything Dad like. I tried the Date of Mom and Dad's wedding only to be denied again.
"God damnit Dad" Taro would know the combination. Jirou might have if his memory wasn't fried. Mom would too for obvious reasons. I sat crossed legged on the floor. Dad was so family oriented it was hard to imagine a code that didn't have something to do with it. His computer password was Taro and Jirou's birthday, his phone his and Mom's wedding. I was missing something. Some important date and I hadn't had much chance to figure it out.
Guardian files, what was the day Dad became a Guardian? God It made me wish I listened to his stories more often. My fingers started moving against the keyboard. Dad told us the reason why he became a Guardian. Not in detail, he barely ever talked about his family but it all started when his little brother Izuna died. I remembered the date because it was right before Christmas. I waited for the buzz but all I heard was a subtle click. I couldn't believe I remembered that old story but my heart deflated when I opened the safe. Guardian records, weaponry, spell achieve, dates and pass codes but no pen.
What would possibly be safer than a bloody SAFE?
I shut the safe and move the tiles and carpet back into place even when he wasn't here Dad manages to piss me off with his thinking. I searched everyone, unless he walked with the pen then I was 50 different kinds of screwed. I looked around the room. I checked everywhere where the fuck could it be? I found myself staring at the portrait of Mom and Dad's wedding. Frame of hard hazel wood. With carved flowers, vines that were stained to a coffee brown to match the rest oft he furniture. The roses and vines individual painted.
Jirou had made it two years ago as an anniversary gift. Dad commissioned it from him and I remembered how nervous he was presenting it. I felt the rough contorts of the frame.
"So there was no diary in his room? are you sure?" I asked Amaya in the cafeteria line. She rolled her eyes.
"Yes, I checked everywhere. Jirou even had this hidden compartment in the wall that he hid a box in but no dice dude"
I never knew Jirou had a knack for making compartments in his works but judging on Taro I could see why he'd have a reason to. Dad commissioned it from Jirou, after he got the pen. I searched the sides and curves until I found a little loose piece to the side, it took a while since it was pretty wedged in there but when I pressed it inwards I heard a click but when I pulled on it, a wooden hidden square shaped pen holder slide out, with the pen promptly on it's side on the mini hidden shelf. If only Mom could see me now. Figuring out and putting together clues like a Guardian would.
I got the files and headed out that night. I sat on the roof of the building across the street. Staying low to the ground while I had the museum in full binocular view. The binoculars were spelled to give me vision beyond the walls. The wards kept me out but nothing kept me from seeing or hearing in.
Ali sat behind of her desk, legs propped up on the table, her shiny red heels matching her silk vest stop. She laid back on the chair with a phone pressed against her ear. Tight strawberry blond curls held back by a red bandanna.
"But ZUKOOO" She whined over the phone. The ward I drew under my ear to hear wasn't the most guardian approved one but it wasn't permanent. The noises of the town buzzed in my ear. Every pin that fell, every bug that buzzed in the trees miles around. I could hear clearly and it gave me a damn headache. I tried sorting through the noise, focusing on the scene in front of me. Slowly they began cancelling each other out.
I tried to relay the facts over my head about Ali Minsuko, mid twenties, owner of a museum, suspected of trafficking illegal magical items through her artifacts shipment. Metal user. Suspected of killing Mac's younger sister Lilith in a car accident after she may have discovered her stash. Looking at her frail figure, it was hard to believe she was capable of killing a fly. Her limbs were lanky and frail, my mother was slim but her limbs were toned, hardened by the muscles that shaped her body. She radiated with strength even with her looks. Ali didn't look it much, freckles dusted her shoulders and cheeks but tattoos covered her cover bone and both her arms. Tattoos that gave her strength that defied her body stature.
"But nothing you're not supposed to be in the city Ali"
"I can't just leave my babies behind and run" She stroked an old relic, a book. Yellowed pages that crunched and flaked whenever she turned the pages. Worn leather exterior. "I have a museum to run a life to live"
"Yeah Let's keep that last part going won't you? You're leaving. Tomorrow end of story even if I have to drag you onto the plane myself"
"You're starting to sound like my brother." She grumbled. "None of you ever let me handle things on my own. I'm 25 and I still need chaperons? when will you guys see I could handle myself?"
"The city isn't safe anymore, we know you can handle yourself but if things keep going the way they are. This will end in suffering. Luckily, I still have some say in who will suffer." Ali snickered. "It's my job to make sure you're not one of them"
"Whatever man, have I ever told you you need a vacation? take the kids, go and have a blast, maybe crack a joke everyone in a while. If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I’d be happy to do it for you"
"Tomorrow Ali" He finished and the line cut. Ali pushed her lips into a pout.
"He really needs to get laid or something......" I scanned her immediate surroundings. Glass cases of artifacts on stands, boxes of carefully preserved unsorted artifacts. Some of those have to be illegal then again if she left it out in the open it wouldn't be this hard to pin it. She yawned rubbing her eye arranging her deck of cards on the desk and putting them in her bag. The windows in the room were all sealed and the doors locked. Security systems both magical and otherwise were armed.
I saw the faint dome of symbols covering the walls of the building that shimmered silver in the moonlight. Almost impossible to see unless you're looking for it. Many barely even felt it. Projecting by the paper stamps placed at the four corners. I smirked opening my bag and taking out a few darts. Paper wards were a bitch. They made bubble barriers that kept anything by owner description out, in this case Guardians and thieves.
I loaded the darts onto the sniper rifle. Modified, smaller version for this task, looking through the scope. Another reason why Dad would kill me. These things weren't 100% safe. The dart was filled with spelled ink, that basically hacked into the paper wards and modified it. It had a 40% success rate. I caught all of the paper wards in sight. One millimeter off where I was supposed to hit, and I may be switching the doom from "Keep Guardians out' to 'Evaporate all Guardians' instead of simply approving Guardians to enter.
I managed to get the dart in place. The black ink swallowing the ivory paper which left a tear in the dome at the east side. I slid into the opening before the rest of the wards replaced the damage. Scorching the blackened paper from it's position. I slipped into the vents and followed the map I had on my phone of the inner workings of the buildings. The space cramped, the freezing cold metal against my knees and smelled of old clothes hampers. I could start to see why Jirou hated this job but the excitement pumping through my veins wasn't quelled by anything. I peeped through the vent opening into the main office where Ali slept. Head down on the desk lights off except for a crystal that illuminated a space in the room. I recognized that crystal. Mom used it back when the twins were scared of the dark, Tsuneo at least. Mom spent an entire afternoon, embedding smaller versions onto the roof of their bedroom, that way when the lights came off it illuminated the rooms like tiny stars. Tsuneo slept great after that.
"So our little bad guy's scared of the dark" I thought my lips turning to a smirk, I could use it to my advantage somehow. Dad always said, any and all weaknesses could be exploited when the time came. I slipped into a closet picking the lock with my kit before peering into the dark hallways. I zipped my black hoodie up and pulled the hood tightly over, putting on the shades so I could see the lines that guarded the hallway. Dancing helped with being flexible, standing on my hands for long periods of time. Slipping through spaces that Taro and Jirou could never dream of doing.
Dad would finally see after this night, I could be as good a player as them. I checked the entire building, sneaking through files, folders, boxes looking for anything remotely illegal. Mermaid pearls, Rune makers, Illegal weaponry, Lycan Venom, or even Pixie dust. Nothing illegal or magical or any sort.
"Where the hell could she possibly be keeping them" The handle of the door wrapped around my wrist when I closed it. Bend and put together like a handcuff. I froze trying to tug myself free as the lights went on.
"Aw damnit." She whined down the hall. I wiped around to face her. "Thanks to you I'm going to be hearing an endless amount of I told you so's"
"How the..when did" She pointed to the tiles.
"Those flower tiles aren't just for decoration hon. They're made of steel even asleep I heard your tiny little footsteps vibrate on them." I couldn't escape the tiny voice in my head. 'Taro would have noticed that' "Now since this is technically a break in. How about you leave? and I don't call the cops"
I growled tugging the post free from the door, leaving wooden splints on the floor, leaving the metal attached around my wrist. "I don't think so." going into my stance. Mom did always say the good old fashion way of getting information was the best.
"You're just a kid? God you Guardians must be out of juice lately. I can't really claim self defense on a kid but we'll see" She smirked. My wrist was bleeding when I worked the metal off and onto the floor kicking it over to her, and with a movement of her arm she moved it off to the wall. I took out my plastic gun and fired two bullets at her, silicone bullets with sleeping spell engraved. Two tiles flew up and took the bullets as she raced over to me.
I dodged her punch that knocked concrete off the wall. It barely missed my head but I managed a kick to her ribs using my hand to flip and regain balance. She winced moving to the side.
"You're actually not bad" She croaked then went at me again. Punching, kicking and moving tiles into place to shallow my bullets in the metal. I dodged most of her attacks, but when she started throwing metal pieces at me. Sharpening the edges to razor proportions it got difficult. The hoodie I wore, were spelled just like Jirou's and Taro's. It protected from extreme cold, bullets and in this case razor sharp Metal pieces but it wasn't perfect.
I ended up looking like a porcupine when I pressed my back to the wall. Few deep cuts on my face and ribs If i hadn't worn this. She clearly had no problems in going all out. I had read the reports of the Guardians who tried this case before me. All had to be hospitalized, the police not being involved only meant she had them in her pocket. She could kill anyone, in this case, Lillth and not pay a single year for her crimes. Fury filled me as my blood boiled. I hated people like that, Those who think they could do what they want, ruin others lives without consequence. There were consequences and Guardians ensured that.
"Come out, come out" She rang. "I know where you are no use." My mind went to the sparring room at home, I held my knees panting my breath away while my Father stood near me. My mother standing to the side.
"I can't beat you if you're stronger than me" I snapped after the comments. "I need more training for that. So train me and stop bitching"
"Mai" Mom said. "Beating people, isn't about being stronger than them. It's about outsmarting them, out thinking them, using the environment to your advantage even the strongest of people can be beaten if you think quickly enough"
I aimed my gun higher with my shots, knocking out all of the lights in the hallway. I saw her tense when the first rain of glass showered and the first half of the hallway darkened. She really was afraid. I used that moment to launch at her, burying my fist in her rib cage. Her hand grabbed me after flinching and swung me into a wall hard enough to shake the hung paintings to the ground.
She coughed out blood into her hands. I saw the liquid, even in the dark. I pushed myself to my feet. I shouldn't have come without backup. That much I was willing to admit. Missions were two man jobs for a reason, maybe I could have convinced Taro to come along but my pride kept me from considering it.
Pain swimming throughout my body, my visioned blurred. My body protested every movement but nothing in me wanted to stop. Nothing in me could stop. I was my parent's child after all. Nothing in our genes knew when to give up. I kept going at her, swinging at her connecting my kicks and punches, but even with her distracted by the dark. I couldn't land a shot. The metal always crept up and swallowed the bullet.
Ali groaned holding her chest. "Mamoru i could use some help here" I heard her mutter under her breath before she bolted down the hall. My mind took a while to process it.
"She's getting away" I told my legs. "Move damnit" I pushed myself forward. She ran into the main office, I saw her packing her bags frantically, shoving stacks of playing cards in her bag. I shot at her and she ducked beneath the desk. Metal from the floor shooting upwards. Embedding into my sleeve when I shielded my face. She looked paled and sickly. Dad always said most people with abilities had terrible side effects to them. It was what made Mom's bloodline so coveted, powers without the price. She ran all the way in here over the playing cards. They weren't special by the looks of it, bigger than normal. Decorative designs at the back, usual playing cards.
. I Lunged forward, she was weak. I could take her in, question her but then a piercing sound of bullets roared. My head snapped around to the other person in the room. Dressed in all black, gloves, motorcycle helmet. The person went over to Ali, dodging my bullets putting his arm on her as his other fired at me but before I could land a hit, in a blink of an eye, they both disappeared.
My heart sunk to my feet standing alone in the empty room. My limbs screaming, vision blurry. My knees buckled and I fell over my hands meeting the floor. On the floor, the scattered files and holed filled desk, I saw a single card resting barely few feet away. I crawled over to it, holding it in my hands. It felt heavy, extremely heavy for something made of mere paper. Then at the corner, I saw a metal tab with an engraving on it. A spell.
"So that's how you hide..your shipments" I muttered. I couldn't bring this to Dad or the Guardians. Not without simultaneously admitting to being the reason she got away. i had to fix this myself. I studied the engraving and the card glowed after I repeated the words, holding it upside down, something fell onto my lap out of the card. A golden paw shoe. Encrusted with diamonds and engraved with Lilith's name. Mac's family pen.
My eyes burnt, First thing tomorrow before school. I was going to give this back to him. Mac seemed like the type to keep a secret. This mission wasn't a complete failure after all. Sneaking back into my room was the easiest thing of the night and it hadn't been easy at all. I had to focus on healing my outside wounds before Mom noticed. Healing may work superficially but the pain lingered. It hadn't changed my mind that this was what I wanted to do. I needed to get out there more, with every mission I'd get better and I wouldn't stop until Ali paid for what she had done.
Natsuko appeared with Ali in hand, panting and pale. She looked like she was going to collapse onto the floor if it wasn't for his support. Mizu and Dishu rushed past us and loaded her onto a medical bed. "How is she?" I asked Natsuko he held her bag in his hand and took out a deck of cards. Ali hid her most valuable items in there. He counted them and cursed under his breath.
"Exhausted for good reason. Guardian attacked her place. She used up alot of her energy fighting" He pulled off the motorcycle helmet. Ruffling his hair. Teleporting took alot out of him, I saw him take out a few chocolate pieces and shove them into his mouth before turning to me.
"Rai being missing, Four magical books that could seriously fuck everyone up are on the loose and Guardian attacking constantly it's like the whole god dam place is on edge" I muttered. He nodded looking concerned as his Mother and Dishu worked on Ali.
"It's late you should get some sleep" He smiled "Your birthday coming up I'd imagine you'd have some plans for it." Natsuko mused. "Besides you have school tomorrow"
"So do you" I countered.
"I still have some business to do for another hour"
"I want to help Natsuko"
"You know the deal Aika. Your Mom doesn't want you in this life and frankly neither do I and nothing about this life is about helping, you know that"
"I beg to differ" I pointed out Ali. "The way Mamoru, you and your Dad worked to get her out of there, that was helping."
"We help our own. It's how we work." He said. "There's alot about this life that you won't be able to handle Aika." It was too late to deal with his criptic nonsense that only meant a simple 'no"
"Do we at least know which Guardian did it?" I asked. "Someone's got to at least pay for this" Natsuko went silent, looking at me before sighing then stuffing a loli into his mouth.
"Not exactly. We have an idea. A few new people were assigned to find her stash according to our sources so we'll work on that." He said. "But Dad said we're not retaliating"
"Why the hell not?"
"We can't afford to get into it with the Guardians right now" He said. "Trust me, if you knew the whole story. You'd be thankful about this" I frowned and headed off to my room, Ali was one of the nicest people in this life, talked to her products, enjoyed her art, dance and sung more beautifully than I've seen and seeing her exhausted like that made me angrier than I imagine. The life was dangerous I knew that, from all the times those I love came back at the brink of death and I hated not being able to do anything about it. Not anymore. A smirk formed on my lips. What my folks didn't know couldn't hurt them.