“Okaaaaay…so guess what progress I made? Medical progress. I’ve confirmed it and since I was present when she had fallen for the so-called ailment, I can also kinda keep tabs on her from time to time. It would give me a time span to work things out better, don’t you think, Vidya?” Bastian asked, chattering away excitedly.
He received nothing but silence from the other side. “Vidya?? Hello??”
“Ohh..umm heyy…that’s great and everything but here’s the thing: you’ve been reassigned,” she said, gulping.
Bastian’s eyes widened. “Uhhh..did you just say reassigned?”
“Yes. Whatever you were trying to do was beyond your capacity and honestly, we all misjudged. So, don’t worry. You’ll be reassigned. As of now, you are to cut off ties with Erska. Soon, I’ll be sending you the new one…”
“Ohh..umm yea. True!” Bastian said, scratching his head, “I could have finished two assignments within this time span…what a waste of my time…”
“Yup….the great Bastian as everyone knows..haha..” Vidya said, unable to hide her awkward position.
“But you know what? It isn’t that bad, you know… I’m talking about Erska. Is it kind of like a must that I must be reassigned? I like challenges and I’m pretty confident that I can finish this assignment,” Bastian stated, unsure.
“I can’t control reassignments. Plus, Orfer’s word is final…so…”
“Okay, okay,” he replied, quickly, understanding that he was treading on awkwardness. “I get it. Who is Erska getting transferred to?”
Vidya bit her lip. Too much prying. “I’m not sure, Bastian. It’s out of my hands now.”
Yet he was still curious. “How about I help the respective Drapha out? After all, I can give pretty good info-”
“Here’s a suggestion, Bastian. Since it is no longer your assignment, giving away information means breaking the protocol of confidentiality. Instead, you can focus on your assignment which will be sent to you soon,” Vidya said in a staunch tone.
“You’re serious?” asked Haruhi for the hundredth time, tapping her fingers against the counter.
“Bloody serious, Haruhi”, Quincy said as he picked out a miniature golden panda earring that was laid on a tray with other tiny curiousities for the customers, trying it on himself.
“Are you sure you are ready?” she asked as her fingers slowly slid to the miniature laden tray, pulling it inwards for it to be placed back on the display.
Quincy’s grip onto the tray resisted the force from the opposite direction. “Allow me to indulge myself in this temporary haven, Haruhi. Let’s continue talking business. Yes, I am ready but here’s the thing: would they actually assign me?”
“Orfer wouldn’t want anything else for you but to get better…” Haruhi said as she reached for her Draphacon. “This is the most radical approach ever taken and therefore, I wouldn’t suggest. He’s not the kind to meddle with traditions. What’s gotten into him? ”
“I just thought if I’m in active duty again, I’ll get back into my normal state, you know? It seems logical..” he said, fidgeting with the earring. “Besides, I did not interfere with human affairs. So, why not?”
“Okaaaayy…though I’m not sure what Orfer is trying to do by experimenting, these seldom work out,” she said as she placed the Draphacon against her ear. “Umm hey, Maria! This is Haruhi, stationed Drapha at Lessa. So, this is regarding Quincy…under, Orfer’s orders I was supposed to contact you for anything..so, he wants to go back to being assigned….Ohhhh, okay. Okay.”
“Well..anything positive?” Quincy asked, picking a kettle earring.
“They told me they’ll fax me the-”
“That was fast. They really do want me off their hands, huh?” Quincy asked as he reached out to pick the file the fax machine was printing. He quickly skimmed through the assignment and stashed it in Haruhi’s hands on his way out.
Creasing off the almost crumpled sheet, she read:
Name : Ava Bizille
Address: L-4, Lin rue, Marune, Lessa.
Death: 4 months from now
Cause of Death: Car accident
Attached was Ava’s picture, a braided brunette with a wheatish complexion, round brown eyes and pale pink lips - dressed in a simple baby blue dress with no sign of overdone ornamentation.
Steps retraced back as Quincy grabbed the sheet from Haruhi’s hand and took a picture of it with his smartphone. “Pardon my rudeness. I forgot that my brain was not smart enough to remember. See ya soon.”
“I’m gonna have to keep tabs on you!” Haruhi shouted as he left.
It wasn’t that hard to locate Ava. The address led Quincy to a house that definitely did not look like it belonged to a single occupant. No one hangs the national flag from the roof.
“Woopsie. So, you live with your family, huh?” Quincy said to himself as he turned around and sat on the pavement, staring at the diner that overlooked the house.
He pulled out his human smartphone and checked for Ava’s social media presence. Her Facebook and Twitter were not to be found however her Instagram profile was open to the public. A quick scroll through her feed was mostly pictures of cakes, half-eaten pizzas, soups and family considering the recurrence in most of the posts. Parents, five children which included three sisters and two brothers. Quincy stopped midway when the red neon sign ‘Mama’s Quick Fix’ resembled the blinking, almost broken light of the crowded diner opposite to the house.
As he pushed the door to the diner, Quincy was able to identify the familiar faces he had seen on Ava’s Insta profile. He went up to the mother-like figure and said, “I have the pleasure of knowing your daughter Ava. May I know where she is?”
The spectacled lady adjusted her glasses, looking at the disco pant wearing guest up and down. “Ava? My daughter, Ava?”
He had also caught the attention of her siblings who began gathering around them. A fierce gaze from their mother sent them running in all directions.
“Have a seat,” she said, directing him towards a table as she pulled a chair, seating herself opposite it to him. “Well, she has gone to Peonie’s Orphanage. Our family will provide its share for the needy through service. So, I’m afraid I can’t help you…but do tell me. What would you want to do with my daughter? We are aware of all of her acquaintances..”
“Well..I-I ..it’s just..” Quincy stuttered, scratching his head,“ I also like service and stuff and I’ve seen her. I mean I kind of like her …”
“Ohhhh..you do service too…interesting. Good. Good. But the thing is it is not the right age for her to get a boyfriend. She has to ace a lot of worldly things before that but I will take you for a prospective partner in the near future.”
Quincy’s mouth opened, astounded and almost bit his lip immediately. It took him a moment to smile back to make up for his rudeness.
“I know. We seem a bit different but that’s how we are. We are preparing her to face this cruel world,” she continued to explain.
Quincy simply nodded. You mean like a sick colonizer in your own house, woman.
“Stay for a quick bite, son. We don’t let our friends leave with empty stomachs..”
Quincy’s mild protests fell in her deaf ears as she walked away towards the kitchen. He sat awkwardly, feeling the unwelcome eyes on him. Ava’s siblings slowly scanned him. Turning towards the kitchen, he leaned back on his chair to catch a glimpse of Ava’s mother but no sign of her.
“Looking for Ava Bizille?”
Quincy almost jumped out of his chair. Sitting before him was a long-haired goth with neon green highlights, fully clothed in black, fishnet gloves and socks, drumming her bedazzled nails against the table. Quincy tried hard to resist the annoying chewing sound that she was making.
“Yup?” Quincy asked, slightly taken aback.
“Ava Bizille, you said. Never seen a guy like you around her,” she said, leaning forward.
“You know where she is?” he asked, scanning her up and down.
The girl leaned forward, forcefully grabbing his hand as she walked out of the diner, whispering, “If I hadn’t caught sight of you soon, you’d be toast.” She looked back, behind her shoulders. Quincy’s eyes followed hers to see Ava’s mother peeking out from the kitchen, a towering male figure behind her following a similar action.
“Shit. Shit. Shit,” she chattered, pulling Quincy’s sleeve brashly as she ran to the cover present on the opposite side of the road. The cover roughly consisted of dimly lit pink neon lights, dampness from little shrubs, the rusty metal smell of huge garbage cans which seemed to overflow.
“Safe for now, I guess,” she said, managing a glimpse from the so-called cover. Turning around, she plastered a very phony smile and gestured Quincy towards the endless metal wall.
“Sorry? What do you want me to do?”
Rolling her eyes, she landed a firm punch on the wall and a door like structure seemed to materialize as one end opened to another. “That, son, is what I call a crease if you didn’t notice. After you.”
Quincy threw his hands in the air. “I wasn’t warned..duh…” Momentarily, he was stuck in the world of glitter confetti that led him into obnoxious disco lights, hazy party booths, crowds of dancing.
“Welcome to the Fin,” the girl said, her arms open in extravagance.
Quincy forced a smile. “Thank you. And who is this I’m speaking to?”
“Oh. Oh. My bad. The name’s Mina. A pleasure to meet you,” she said, graciously extending her hand which Quincy returned. He asked, “Do tell. Why do I feel like I’m being taken away to a dungeon?”
“ I should be asking you that. You are looking for Ava.”
“Which is what I was doing until you whisked me away from my life’s sole purpose,” Quincy stated.
“You should be grateful that I saved you from murder. Dealing with Ava’s father is not for the faint heart. Besides, who has got the time to deal with some orphans? It’s not exactly easy for me to keep being a watchdog.. ” she stated as she walked on.
Quincy followed her. “What exactly do you mean?”
“This is what I mean”, she said, parting away glass beaded curtains to reveal drunk people sprawled across the booth. She snapped her fingers and said, “Ava, honey, you have a visitor! He was asking for you at the diner.”
A redhead who was busy biting a dude’s neck got up unsteadily and walked towards them. “Heyyy..thanks for being a pal...I don’t know what to do without you..” she said jabbing Mina lightly while she adjusted her wig. “I fucking hate this wig uggghhh…” she groaned until Quincy caught her sight. “Who is this handsome man?”
Quincy smirked. “Someone’s been a very bad girl. Breaking rules and shit.”
“Rules are for the weaaaak, honey…” Ava dragged, linking her arms in his as she led him to the booth. Settling down, she stroked his hair. “So, what drink do you like? Something light or something hard?”
“Uhhh. I’m going to refuse the drink,” Quincy replied, taking her hand off him.
“Wow. You simply seem all talk, hon. What a disappointment,” she said, chugging down a shot by herself.
“Maybe…I just want to be sober when I’m going to be admiring something precious,” he said, snuggling against her, “So, tell me. What’s your story?”
“Ohhh the emotional kind, huh? Getting things straight…but I ain’t got time for all that now,” Ava said, getting up.
Quincy pulled her by the hips, landing her on his lap as he whispered into her ears while he pulled out dollar bills. “I got you some toys that you might like, baby”, he said, waving it in front of her.
“You got me there,” she replied, turning towards him as she looked into his violet eyes, “Nice contacts.”
“Thanks. So, when did the good girl decide to go bad?” he asked, feeling her arms.
“When she thought enough was enough. When she found she was able to control her life the way she wanted. When she no longer needed daddy to pay for whatever she wanted,” she said, interlocking her fingers with his.
“Did she have to pretend though?” he asked.
Ava let out a light cackle. “Trying to play saviour? Who the hell are you? I haven’t seen you here. What do you want from me?”
“How about a bit of trust?” Quincy said, planting a kiss on her shoulder.
“If it’s the kind of trust that pays my bills, then I’m fine with it,” she replied as she went for his lips, grabbing his collar firmly. Quincy clutched her hips, falling back on the sofa to get more comfy as they continued smooching. He was getting tired of her being all hasty and rash as if she had no time in the world. “Okay, okay. Timeout. I need a drink to continue,” Quincy said, exhaling hard, wiping his lips.
“Told you this isn’t something you can handle. I’ll be right back,” Ava said, getting off his lap. She picked up empty glasses from the nearby table and walked towards the bar.
“She’s a bad kisser, alright. What was I expecting anyway?” Quincy said to himself. At least, you’re still in the game, Quincy. The blackout was only momentary.
He began to notice the confusing lights of the club emerge to his vision as he looked around. Guys and girls grinding against each other, engaging in momentous lust. Just like him. Just like whatever he did before and what he would continue to do till he died. If death even existed to a being like him. It did but living like a Drapha was like dying again.
“The Draphas. The so-called ‘fairy godmothers.’ The ones who balance the cycle of life and death. Assigned according to our specialties…” Quincy said to himself as he pulled out his Draphacon and dialled Haruhi. “What… a load of bullshit, they say. It’s nothing but hell. Over and over again.”
Quincy looked at Ava who was giggling with the bartender, playing with his fingers. Well, the drinks are going to take some time like I thought. The call connected.
“Haruhi. Get to the Fin, Marune as fast as possible. I might have made a big mistake. Orfer is going to kill me. Hurry,” he rattled.
“Thank goodness, I’m in Marune for a client. I’ll be there in minutes,” she said and the call cut.
Ava had found a new prey soon. Leaning against a stranger, smiling like she had seen her first love. Even your life’s going to be the same. Pathetic but it isn’t your fault. If we could only stop the way things worked around us…
Quincy’s frowns creased off as Ava glimpsed at him. Instantly, he raised his eyebrows playfully and mouthed the words “Come here. You’re in trouble.” Ava blew a kiss and winked, her hands still clasped with the stranger’s.
Sudden clamour at the entrance caught everyone’s attention. An unstable Haruhi stood there, scanning the scene for the familiar face she was supposed to save. Quincy simply raised his hand to make his presence known. Her usual bob did not have the same vigour it used to, bouncing up and down but moved in a more distracted manner as she strutted towards him. She haphazardly settled beside him and began hitting his thigh repeatedly. “Tell me what was so urgent that you made me run!!”
“Run??” Quincy said, getting up, “What the hell?”
“You seem fine. What’s so urgent?” she asked again, looking around.
“Get up. I’ll explain on the way,” he said as soon as he was able to get Ava’s attention who was on her way towards him with the drinks.
“It better be something worth my time or I’ll-”
Ava stood in Haruhi’s way, smiling as she looked at Quincy. Quincy put his arm around Haruhi’s shoulders who instantly looked at Quincy in disgust, trying to remove his arm but he firmly grasped her.
“Ava. I think I forgot to tell you the part that I have a girlfriend. The only way her haughtiness gets my attention is when I chase other girls. So, your job here is done.” Saying that Quincy handed some notes in her hand and forcefully walked Haruhi out.
“You !! How could you, Quincy!!!” Haruhi asked as soon as they went out of Fin, pushing Quincy’s grip with all her might as he stumbled back a step.
“Well, what do you want me to do?? Pretend everything is going to become normal. Look, I tried…”
“That is why I specifically asked you if you are ready. You don’t bring me into your shit!!” Haruhi said in fiery hastiness.
“My shit?? Tell me you aren’t feeling worthless like I do now??” Quincy screamed, clenching his fists.
“I have. But not at other’s expense, Quincy. And I’ve done this longer than you have. Get yourself together,” she said, walking off.