The sound was as clear as bells in the diminishing rainfall. The breezes were just wisps now, the raindrops light, slow drops in pitch midnight. Everywhere else, it seemed, stood still, while the final echoes of the shot faded across the land…and then, into nothingness.
An owl hooted after a while, leaves rattled across galvanised rooftops afar and the chill in the air drifted around undeterred. The few seconds felt like a lifetime through an eerie night. But that second, was determined to stretch and emphasize all the details. And so, it did.
Mikaza couldn’t sleep. She was lying flat on her back on her poofy bad and staring up at the pink petals of the ceiling fan as it swirled slowly around, jingling the crystal chandler at the centre. The soft pulsating dim roof tile lights were rhythmic and soothing, but sleep just wouldn’t come to her.
With a sigh, Mika rolled all the way off her bed and landed lightly on her tiptoes, giving up all pretence at sleep. She was so bored; she had to do something. Totomi ni-chan must be bored too. She thought smiling with coated deviousness. He won’t mind.
In thirty seconds flat, Mika was out of her room and flitting down the hallways of her wing, keeping clear of the house guards posted at random intervals throughout the castle and making sure she didn’t bounce into her mother either.
Then, she was at Totomi’s door and she pushed the door open, expecting to see him standing somewhere brooding about something profoundly, instead, she found him on his side, gently lying on his lofty bed, hair draped on his shoulder and hand tucked under his pillow.
She couldn’t resist.
She ran over and flung herself on the mattress, “Totomi goodnight!!” she bounced once, twice, the pillows flying and tumbling about breezily and Totomi wide awake. She descended with her legs crossed, smiling. “Oh, you’re up. I just wanted to say goodnight.”
“Oh, Mika,” Totomi took a second to get himself to gather himself then sat up straight. “… um … night Mika.”
“Hm? I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“No, not at all,” but Totomi wasn’t one to lie blatantly, “I wasn’t dreaming anyway.”
“Oh,” Mika blinked bemusedly, “I didn’t know that Totomi-nii-chan dreamt.”
“Well… of course I dream. I’m a, person, after all.” Totomi was wondering exactly why he had to explain this.
“Yeah… I guess so… but you know how you never really think if dogs or cats dream… it’s like that.”
“Oh.” So he was like a dog. Totomi found his sister’s comparison slightly belittling, to say the least, but before he could ponder any further, Mika was talking to him again.
“So what do you dream of anyway?”
“Well, a few regular flying dreams, the sky, colours, and of course, lots of candles and pillars and such. I usually get designs for my assortment of columns from…”
“I guess it’s not important any whose.” Mika jumped off the bed hurriedly and went about walking the area of Totomi’s room. Totomi was used to Mika cutting him off with her own flurry of testaments so being so abruptly dismissed was not surprising to him. This was, Mika his little sister after all. Totomi turned to look at her walk and examine his room as he unconsciously smoothed out the plains and dismantled contours of his bedspread. And, Mika had already told him how his tales of his fancies bored her as well.
Presently, Mika made the rounds of Totomi’s room before returning to sit fold-legged on the work chair. She cupped her cheeks into her palms and stared at Totomi with bored pink eyes. Totomi stared right back at her, seeing the gears spinning in her mind.
“Totomi, why don’t you want to become a Soldier?” Mika’s pixie voice was layered with some sort of mesmerizing magic it had to be, no matter how lightly she’d asked the question. Mika was never direct, she could trick any answers out of you with her cute little deviousness. Totomi mostly knew when she had an ulterior motive, when she wanted something, but he always fell for it anyway.
“I don’t see any reason, to do so. I have obligations only to you and Shimazu, and I can protect you with my own power.”
“And Tanjo and Uriko too, right.”
Totomi blinked, wondering where in the world Mika was taking this, “of course.”
“So isn’t it kind of lame how a guy younger than you is in the Soldiers and a girl, while you aren’t?” It was a good thing Uriko wasn’t around to cut out her tongue for that statement.
As for Totomi, he was slightly offended that his little Mika had called him ‘lame’ but he didn’t let it show. And he wasn’t comfortable having this sort of conversation with Mika who he couldn’t see than older than an infant. “That’s a bit harsh, Mika.”
“Oh, sorry. I couldn’t tell. I thought you were devoid of emotion.”
Totomi could only utter a … “huh?” which he felt instantly stupid to be saying. ‘Huh’ wasn’t even a word! What was ‘huh’?
“Don’t blame me, expressions don’t even reach your face.”
“… I see.” What else could he say?
“And…” Totomi looked earnestly into the depths of Mikaza’s eyes as she continued, “isn’t it supposed to be the guy going out on dangerous missions while the girl stays waiting at home?”
“Uriko’s a tough eccentric mad hatter; she can more than handle herself. Besides, she takes orders from no one; you can’t force her to stay put.”
A moment of silence...
Then Mikaza gasped lengthily. Totomi withdrew sharply in shock and suspicion “What’s the matter?”
“You didn’t deny it,” Mikaza felled her face into her hands and started laughing unrestrained, “I never would have guessed,” hiccup, “I mean I just knew it,” hiccup, “wait that doesn’t make any sense. But still... you and Uriko!!!” Mikaza could hardly breathe but managed to keep it down just to talk anyhow.
Totomi kept his expression clear and still. “Well Mika, it’s not very different from the way that I treat you and Shimazu both. Because you all are saturated in my affections,” he said calmly.
“And Tanjo too right?” Mikaza peeked up through her fingers at her brother.
Totomi paused for a second. Tanjo wasn’t a part of his blood family so he wasn’t sure how he should respond. “Well... sure Mika. In a manner of speaking.”
Mikaza howled happily, “Ah!!! Yaoi!!! Don’t go cheating on Uriko already Totomi-ni-chan!!!”
“Mika!” Totomi was appalled and taken aback for the umpteenth time that night, face pallid white. Mikaza laughed again at his horrified reaction.
“I’m kidding I’m kidding,” her pink eyes sparkled, “so does Shimazu-ni-san know?”
“You’re embellishing our friendship Mika,” Totomi had regained composure and brushed some of his straight hair back, eyes drifting open gently. “And might we not discuss this further, it feels somewhat awkward. I need to ponder it through first.”
Mikaza ignored him. “So it’s just like how we talk to each other then? ‘Cept she listens when you go off in your world?”
Recalling when he was just explaining about the fine craftsmanship of glass collage windows, not bothering to spare the Catholic Church’s history or artists such as Leonardo De Vinci. He’d only gotten five minutes into it when Uriko with a maybe fatigued, he couldn’t tell but surely he’d been mistaken, expression on her face.
“Totomi... um... darling.... I’ve a call. Gotta go kay?”
“Oh, just a minute or ten more. Don’t you find them simply endearing...” arms spread wide to indicate the huge ceiling to floor windows.
“Uh... yeah sure.”
“Might I interest you in Leonardo’s other works as well-“
“Err, I gotta go, really... business you know.”
“Yeah... um.... someone uh... was shot, yeah. Gotta go help.”
“Okay then. Tomorrow we’ll continue.” Totomi hadn’t read Uriko’s reluctance.
“Sureee....” and her record time of departure. He merely turned back to his windows of glass in silent awe for another hour.
“She’s busy the majority of the time is all.”(Totomi was susect to indifference whilst Shimazu was to misinterpretation.) ‘’And she’s a more active person than I am.”
“Well that’s true.” Mikaza nodded in agreement. “You guys haven’t sparred in what- three years?”
“Three months Mika.”
“Right. I wonder who’s stronger between you and Shimazu ni-san now. Tanjo’s not even worth mentioning.” As she said this, Mikaza was heading toward Totomi’s ornate sword on its stands on the other side of the room. She lifted it carefully above her head. “Wow, it’s kinda...” she slipped.
Totomi was across the room in a second, rolling across the furry white carpet and catching Mikaza clumsily on his back but catching the sword nonetheless, unsheathed and out of harms way in his hand. The crash against the cupboard was definite and loud however.
“Ow. You okay ni-chan?”
“Mother’ll be here in ten seconds flat I assume.”
TADAA! She was there in five seconds; door open, her evil frame in the doorway. How in the world does she do that... it’s highly impossible, thought Totomi.
“What was that noise???”
Totomi gently pushed Mikaza off of him and they both stood up, sword secure in Totomi’s hand. Lady Hamasaki noticed Mikaza and frowned slightly, looking back at Totomi.
“Totomi, don’t encourage your little sister in fooling around in the middle of the night.”
“Sorry mom.” Mikaza put her hand to her lips timidly. “But... I’m okay.” she said in a sweet voice and a small smile.
“Oh... well...” her mother was semi-puttied now. “Just head back on to your room now. Good night Mikaza dear.”
“Night okasan.” Totomi felt Mikaza give his hand a quick squeeze before she dashed off to give Lady Hamasaki a light kiss on the cheek then disappear out the room.
“Goodnight Totomi dear,” Lady Hamasaki said but the ‘goodnight’ sounded more like a ‘get to bed now or else’ command than a ‘nighty night sweet lumps sugar dumpling doodoo darling.’
Totomi stared back coldly too. “Goodnight mother.” Tension was fat and juicy in the air and the electricity tingled between them. Lady Hamasaki left shortly.
“...” Totomi exhaled. She startled me coming in so fast. Then he calmed. He looked down, drew out the sword and experimentally swung it, making a clean swipe. Stilled, he looked into the shiny reflection of himself on its length.
The solitary sound rang strong and true and clear. One moment, just one moment and everything had changed forever. Kochiro’s eyes popped wide open in shock and his mouth made a perfect ‘O’. The gun fell from his fingertips and clattered to the ground. His face was still a mask of horror and his heart had constricted, making his blood icy to freeze him where he stood. He couldn’t breathe.
His bottom lip quivered once, then held. His hands came to his face, fingers clawing into the soft skin beneath his eyes and pulling them down. “Hu...” his first breath came out as he stared and gaped. “Hu...” he took a step backward, starting to breathe heavily...
The boy’s long piercing scream helped break Uriko out of her daze, the hairs were rising on her arms. It was time to act. “HuAAAAAA!!!!” the boy was still screaming his blood curdling cry, his hands moved from gripping his cheeks to pressing down hard and covering his ears. He squeezed his eyes shut. “AAAAAHHHH!!!!”
A tremor shot up Uriko’s spine. Damn it. This was not the time to attract attention and bring all the officers or Soldiers running to check it out. She sprinted toward the boy and just about body slammed him to the ground. His breath wheezed out and the screaming cut short abruptly.
“You’re under arrest,” Uriko yelled into his ears as they both lied on the ground. She started dragging him up with her, his amazing blue eyes blinked vividly for a second as he snapped out of his momentary insanity to deal with what was presently happening.
Uriko pulled his arms back up behind him and clasped on a pair of handcuffs. BlueEyes looked at the scene before him and uttered a cry again and fell to his knees. Uriko almost fell with him but managed to stay upright. She pulled him up again by the shoulders easily and he turned his face to view her.
“!!!” Uriko’s breath caught as she saw the frightened haunted expression in his eyes. Holy shi... She turned to look at Shimazu.
Shimazu had felled onto his back and Uriko knew by the mass of the blood pooling out beneath him. “Shimazu...”
The Angel was still there but Uriko didn’t do anything. The Angel then turned and flashed away. Uriko finally grit her teeth, “hold up!!!” – Too late. The Angel had slipped away into the night. Uriko looked back down. Oh no, Shimazu.
“Uhah,” BlueEyes was shuddering hard in front her and still gaping at the crime scene. Uriko inhaled sharply, she released her hold on BlueEyes and started toward Shimazu. BlueEyes was in no state to run away anyway and he was proving her point as he’d fallen to his knees as soon as she’d gone and he started crying.
Ignoring him, Uriko went to Shimazu’s side and knelt down. She put her ear to his chest to examine him. It was hopeless. She kneaded her eyebrows down fiercely and her frown deepened, fuelling her anguish into anger.
She pressed the heel of her palm firmly into her forehead feeling an instant headache coming on. Damn, she had to call someone, but whom? Calling Tanjo would be a complete waste of time because he was useless point blank, and breaking the news to Totomi was not advisable. Plus, Totomi had warned her to hide anything from Lord Bromo... but...
To take this kid into custody she’d have to get clearance and then all the Nobles Soldiers would know and would more or less allow Bromo to handle the suspect in any manner he wanted. If she herself informed Bromo, she could make it work in her favour; gaining Lord Bromo’s trust and then only the Secret Sector would have access to the suspect BlueEyes.
She clicked on her Soldier Cell. “Lord Bromo, I found them.”
He was instantly alert, “Shimazu Hamasaki or his accomplices.”
“... Both sir. I’ve managed to apprehend the ally by myself and none of the other Nobles Soldiers have seen him yet,” Uriko paused slightly. “What I’m saying is that we of the Secret Sector can interrogate him to find out what he knows about the Project and silence him without the other Nobles ever finding out the truth,” she finished cautiously.
Lord Bromo seemed to be contemplating in the silence before he replied, “very well Lord Uriko, good job. I shall lead the soldiers elsewhere so that you can transport our suspect safely. Is that clear.”
Once again, Bromo disconnected abruptly and Uriko had to cut her circuit after a confirmed beep. Well that’s worked out well. She had her orders and things were working out even if they weren’t going smoothly.
“...” Uriko brushed a wavy lock of hair from Shimazu’s face and placed her palm softly against his cheek, her eyes growing teary. “Ah, Shimazu-kun. I’m sorry,” she said. “You were such a good guy.”
Then she got up and her face hardened. She headed toward the blue eyes boy. He’d managed to compose himself and even seemed to be in a passive blank phase; his lips semi parted and his eyes dead and dulled. Uriko hooked a hand and caught his elbow and lifted him up.
“Suck it up kid.” He was automatic now and obeyed her every command. Then-
Uriko’s arm retracted instantly as she glanced the new expression on BlueEyes’ face. It was only there for a fraction but the mood, the very atmosphere had felt...
Clatter clatter clatter clatter clatter.
Uriko spun around. Great, now the Lower Deck officers were crawling in. She glanced back at BlueEyes again; his expression as empty as ever. She put it up to her imagination then turned to march toward the officers arriving.
“Hey hey!” she shouted when she was some distance away. “Hold it right there!”
They paused as they realised she must be a higher up officer but their leader kept advancing so they followed suit. Uriko’s brow raised and she folded her arms. The leader walked right up to her.
“We heard a gunshot coming from here and someone screaming.” Of course, anyone in the Deck would have heard that scream. “We’ve come to investigate so excuse us.”
“No, excuse me officer but I've got things under control here.”
The leader glared at her, “you may be a Higher Deck officer ma’am... but on our own Deck, we officers have just as much power as you do so I suggest you move.”
‘Ma’am’..??? Uriko’s brow quirked just one more time. And had he just raised his voice at her?
Before anyone saw it coming, Uriko had Lower Deck officer up to her face, balling up his collar in her fists as she hissed into his ear-
“Listen here you lowlife pig. See this badge here..? It means that I’m authorized to do anything that I please and you worms would just have to deal with it. So horde your little men and get your asses out of my sight Now!” she released her grip and he stumbled back and stared at her.
“!!!” he started to retreat but didn’t like the idea of a woman showing him up apparently. “By the way,” he sneered and pointed a thumb to his forehead, “you have a smear of blood on your pretty little face. Just thought you’d wanna-”
Uriko’s gun was planted in the middle of blabbermouth’s temple now. “If you don’t want a similar but slightly more fatal tattoo in the middle of your blockhead... I suggest you leave now.” She pulled back the hammer.
It took a second for the officers to finally take the hint and flee. Uriko rubbed her neck tiredly. She looked back to BlueEyes and Shimazu. Getting someone to guard his body in the meanwhile was imperative. The rest of her mission was straightforward though.
She guided BlueEyes by the elbow affront her into the nearest Pillar and started the ascent into Nobles Deck. As long as BlueEyes remained still, she wouldn’t get a migraine.
Kochiro’s mind was going in a turmoil of directions. The shock of what had transpired was like a huge burst of lightning that had shot through him and then blew all circuits out. His brain had been repelling the truth, unwilling to connect. Now every neuron was up and running again.
He zoned in. Shimazu... dead. And what about him? He’s been arrested..? The after shots of the Nobles Soldier arresting him, kneeling by Shimazu and carrying him through the Decks now flooded him.
His head picked up and he looked around the Pillar. Oh my god... what’s going on!!?? I didn’t kill Shimazu... I would never kill anyone!!! I don’t even remember pulling the trigger!!!
He caught a glimpse of himself in the smooth glossy metal walls of the Pillar and paranoia washed him nauseatingly for another record time.
“NO, wait stop.” He swung around to face the lady. His wrists were held tight behind him. The Soldier glanced down annoyed. He continued.
“I, I didn’t do it... you have to believe me.”
“Quit the melodramatic crying sap,” she replied nonchalantly.
“I didn’t do anything!!! You have to let me go, I swear I didn’t!!!” He went straight up to her now, looking straight up into her face with huge watery eyes. “I didn’t kill him... let me go!!!”
Uriko shoved him off staggeringly and turned her back. She walked toward a glass pane to look out of the Pillar. “Don’t push your luck boy, I’m warning you.”
“But I didn’t do it!” Kochiro stuttered again, his shoulders started to heave and shudder, tears rolling down his face. “No no no no no no no no.”
He sobbed quietly to himself whilst Uriko stared out the panes. Just a little longer. Kochiro’s sobs subsided and he stood with his head bowed in silence for a while...
Her gun, he thought, I could take her gun and demand that she release me. I could... then he paused. Why am I thinking like this??? I’m no criminal!!!
“NOooooo, you have to believe me!!! Pleasee!!! I need to go home!!! Please please please!!!”
"HEY!!!” Uriko finally snapped.
“!!!” Kochiro jumped startled. The Soldier had turned around halfly to glare at him.
“If you want to have a shouting match then fine! We’ll do it tomorrow but you’ll be strapped to a metal chair and I’ll be having a taser in my hand so if you want to help out your situation... you’d better be real nice to me and try not to piss me off any further!”
Kochiro flinched back and ultimately focused. Uriko turned back around. Kochiro found it very wise then to stay silent after that.
Bromo was there even before Uriko had arrived with the prisoner. There weren’t any actual prisons up in Nobles Deck but there was the Nobles Soldiers headquarters. This was where Bromo and the Secret Sector met and where they would hold the L. D. Angels when caught. It was by no way a cruel imprisonment but security was airtight and the furnishings were high class. Of course, they also had tools of torture and executions hidden there unbeknownst to others.
Uriko stepped through the doors with a maybe fifteen year old boy in tow wearing handcuffs. He looked around the place carefully.
“Is that our suspect?” Bromo asked gruffly.
“Yes. It saw it with my own eyes.”
Bromo squinted at her hard. She had a blotch of blood on her forehead and a ferocity in her eyes. He almost believed her. “Where’s Shimazu Hamasaki.”
And her eyes shifted for a second, “Dead.” she was telling the truth, Bromo stared at her. Her eyes wouldn’t have flickered otherwise, it’s unlike her.
“The body iS being brought up isn’t it.” Without a flicker of emotion.
“So Shimazu was the spy after all.” Bromo’s eyes deepened and he stroked his chin. Uriko knew that he’d always suspected her, the same way that everyone else had suspected him, now it seemed to be becoming clear. “Well, we’ll know soon enough,” and he turned his attention on the boy. Kochiro flinched back.
“Sir if you don’t mind,” Uriko started resolutely, “I would like to interrogate him first.”
Bromo’s brows rose even if only slightly.
“Shimazu was my friend. If he betrayed us... I merely want to find out the truth myself.”
The play of theatrics wouldn’t normally work on Bromo. He simply frowned and folded his arms. At the same moment, Kochiro unwisely started backwards. Uriko pulled out her gun without turning around and fired waist high, downward.
Smoke curled from the gun mouth as Uriko repocketed it, “don’t move criminal.”
Kochiro stared down at his foot in shoot. A trickle of blood streamed out around it though he didn’t feel a thing. Then he yelled shortly and fell onto his butt. He gawked at Uriko’s back and Bromo’s stern face, wide eyes. These... crazy people. But he didn’t want to draw any more attention and remained silent and gaping. Bromo looked back at Uriko.
“Fine then. You have a day with him. Then I have my crack.”
“Yes sir.” Uriko inclined her head in a bow as Bromo exited. They both watched him exit.
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Uriko locked the door of the huge cell behind her and Kochiro stared almost leadingly at her through its window. She paused and looked at him from the corner of her eyes... then continued walking and vanished from view. Kochiro slumped himself against the corner and slid down, bending his head over.
Beautiful light blue skies of a bright new morning. White doves flew teasingly through the sky dipping in and out of evergreen trees on the Hamasaki Nobles grounds.
Lord and Lady Hamasaki, Totomi and Mikaza were having a rare together breakfast at the long royal dining room table crowded with lavishing dishes. Mikaza rolled a rich velvety strawberry about her plate with her fork. Lord Hamasaki sat at the head of the table, sipping at a glass of grape juice occasionally, Lady Hamasaki on his right.
Totomi sat at the other end of the table for effect with Mikaza at his right. He was dazedly spooning out his trifle into his mouth. The clank of Mikaza’s fork sloshing out thick syrup from her strawberry seemed to be the only unnatural sound in the room.
Clank clank clank.
“Mika, eat your fruit.” Totomi said softly between bites, eyes closed. Mikaza glanced across and winced.
A messenger stood at the entranceway and everyone looked up. Lord Hamasaki rested down his wineglass ad got up. “Excuse me,” Lady Hamasaki was two steps behind him.
Totomi looked back to his plates as they went away to converse. Then Tanjo was in the entranceway passing the adult Hamasakis with a nod. He headed to Totomi in a huff. “Uriko’s on,” he whispered to Totomi. Totomi nodded and then caught the stern glare from Mikaza. He nodded again.
“Put it on speaker Tanjo.”
“Yes?” they answered simultaneously. Tanjo pouted.
“It’s about Shimazu.”
Beyond the entrance, the three adults were also speaking about the same thing in low whispers. “It’s Shimazu,” the messenger said, “He’s...”
And two pairs of eyes widened, Lady Hamasaki gasped, Totomi and Lord Hamasaki held their breaths. Tanjo fell back.
Everyone went to their respective seating at the table and stared at each other. And they knew that they all knew. Totomi was still.
Totomi and Mikaza were dressed in neat black suits standing side by side as the funeral ceremony progressed. Lord and Lady Hamasaki were upfront accepting the sympathies offered. Totomi didn’t want that however. He remained quiet and solute where he stood.
“Totomi, I’m going by mom and dad okay?” Mikaza squeezed Totomi's hand slightly to get his attention and he looked down at her and nodded. She descended the steps and filtered through the crowd. Totomi looked up into the sky. “...” he could manage.
“Why are they burying oni-san???” one minute later, Totomi radared out Mikaza’s sobs and stiffened at the sound of her crying. “He doesn’t want to be buried... he prefers fresh flowers and grass! Get him out of there, get him out!!!”
Totomi few down the steps and zipped around the grounds in an instant to locate his little sister. She was crying and wailing affront the viewing and attracting lots of attention.
“Mika!” Totomi swooped down and collected her into his arms, “I told you you shouldn’t view the body.”
Mikaza kept sobbing against Totomi and he folded her out of display. “Why... why???”
“Because you must remember how bright and spritely he used to be. You can’t look at him the way he is now.”
“No... I meant why? Why did he have to die?”
Totomi didn’t say anything. For once, he didn’t have any philosophical answers.
It was the first day after Shimazu's death and Uriko was at the Nobles Soldiers headquarters when Totomi called her. She was supposed to be interrogating BlueEyes but when she heard Totomi’s soft voice like that, she put down everything she was doing and was on her way to the Hamasaki castle.
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In half an hour, she was at his doorway and she entered slowly. “Totomi..?”
His silhouette was at the balcony as usual, blending in with soft white light curtains. His dark hair was billowing out behind him and then fluttering affront his face as he turned back at her; slightly parted lips and gentle moulding violet eyes.
Uriko felt every atom of her being soften. She’d never seen such a broken look before, and especially not on Totomi.
The next thing she knew, she’d seated herself on the bed and Totomi had eased himself beside her, resting her head in her lap sideways. Uriko lifted a hesitant hand, then stroked his silk like hair.
“It’s my fault really. I am to blame; I should have stopped him or tried to in the very least,” Totomi said plainly.
“No, don’t say that Totomi. No one’s to blame here...”
“He even returned home that night. That surely must have been a divine sign, but I was too blind and ignorant to perceive it. It was so plain to see... we should have silenced about all that ‘truth’ stuff... and now he’s dead.”
“Totomi, I cannot allow you to say such things. Shimazu believed in what he did; in finding out the truth and way to live and he died fighting for it. If he hadn’t been that way, he wouldn’t have been the Shimazu we knew and loved so much.” She threaded more long locks off Totomi’s face as she felt him untense and relax on her. He closed his eyes. She understood that he’d forever blame himself.
“It hurt, it hurt Mika and I can’t do anything about it. I don’t want her to hurt like that ever again. I shouldn’t persist against order like this.”
“You’re,” Uriko asked surprised, “becoming a Soldier?”
Totomi exhaled slowly. “She came to me crying after the funeral, she doesn’t want me in danger as well. I promised her this time.”
Uriko paused, then continued smoothing Totomi’s hair. “You’re a good guy no matter what happens Totomi. Just do what you believe is right, and your natural goodness will show you the way.”
“I’ll protect you both the best way I can. Joining Soldiers helps this positively. Plus, we Soldiers are allowed to venture on the lower decks.”
“Except everyone has to know why when and what you’re doing.” Uriko brushed his cheek and then took her hand away.
Totomi opened his eyes. “What now.”
“L. D. Angels.” Uriko said tentatively.
“They’re the Soldiers’ enemies.” Totomi didn’t seem up to it but when he made up his mind, he made up his mind. Silence.
“I wouldn’t allow Shimazu’s death to be in vain,” and then he let himself drift to sleep in Uriko’s lap.
The day had passed with Kochiro lying furled in the floor of his cell even though there was a bed nearby. His eyes were closed and his shaggy black hair was scattered about his face. A phantom wind wafted it up slightly then it resettled.