The day I dreaded finally came. We got on a plane from London to New York. Heh, a plane. I haven’t been on one of those since I first landed in Japan. I sat near the window, looking out. The clouds looked like piles of snow under the sun. My master and I have gotten a little better. We’re still not really speaking to each other. He sat in the aisle, lost in his thoughts as usual. Lately, it’s like he’s really trying to get somewhere. His goal does not involve me. Mikado didn’t have to say it. I don’t like it, but I have come to accept by now.
“What am I supposed to do when we get to New York?” I asked him as we packed up.
“You will figure it out,” he said. “You’re not as weak as you think you are. I’ve held onto you for too long. It’s time for me to let you go. I stayed with you up until now just to keep you safe.”
“But what if I can’t?” I asked.
“I know you can,” he said. It annoys me that he was probably right. No, he was right. I just didn’t want to let go of him. I was just that scared. Meanwhile, Akira-kun sat between us on the plane. He’s got it so easy now that I think about it. He doesn’t worry about how this world has gone to shit. He just stays in his innocence as we traveled further west.
“That’s how I want it to be,” Mikado said on the plane. I glanced over at him. For once, I don’t complain about his hearing my thoughts.
“Are you going to leave me right away?” I asked.
“No,” he said. I gave him a strange look.
“I thought you were letting me go,” I said. “What gives?”
“Not tonight,” my master said.
“Huh?” I asked.
“I owe you a dinner out,” he said. I narrowed my eyes at him.
“You don’t remember, do you?” my master asked. “You asked if we could a dinner together one evening. We’ll I’m cashing it in tonight.” My jaw dropped.
“Yes, I am serious,” he said.
“Wow,” I mouthed. We touched down at JFK airport around ten in the morning. It felt almost surreal to be in a packed airport again. I about stumbled backwards with my mouth wide open. My master put his hand on my shoulder.
“Easy there,” he whispered. “It’s just an airport.” I pressed my lips together. Akira-kun looked just as surprised as I did. He ran around with wide eyes and his jaw to the ground.
“Don’t go too far, Akira-kun!” I shouted.
“Yes!” he shouted. I’m going to miss him. He’s been like a little brother to me. His little smile got me through so much over these years. When I was angry at my master, Akira-kun would calm me down just by being in front of me. I probably would’ve tried to kill my master if not for him. I just wonder if he’s going to be aright in a foreign land with no other people he knows.
“He will be fine,” my master told me. I pressed my lips together and looked away. He’s determined to hear my thoughts until the bitter end, isn’t he? I followed after Akira-kun into the crowd before my master could answer.
“Akira-kun?” I asked. “Akira-kun, wait for me!”
After the trip with customs, we checked into a hotel in downtown Manhattan. As usual, Mikado too care of everything. His fluency in language never failed to amaze me. He says that he just picks it up wherever he goes. The powers of a tadpole, I guess. We didn’t really do much around the city. Our phones were working again, but what was the point of using it anymore. I don’t have anyone I can call. They are all gone. Mom, Jun, grandma, and Josh. And now Mikado and Akira-kun were going to leave me too. I should’ve expected this. But why am I still hurting inside?
A tiny hand touched mine. I looked up to see Akira-kun staring up at me. Seeing his little eyes seemed to cheer me up. I smiled and patted him on the head.
“I’m fine,” I said. “You don’t have to worry about me anymore.”
“What do you mean?” Akira-kun asked. I smiled and shook my head.
“It’s nothing,” I said. I got off of the bed and walked over to the shower. I won’t tell him. I guess I want him to be a little more innocent while I’m still around.
“Are you ready yet?” Mikado asked around six o’clock.
“Not yet!” I shouted from the bathroom.
“We’re going to be late,” he said.
“I’m just about ready, hang on,” I said. I zipped up my red dress. Is this place weren’t going to really that fancy? I can never figure out where my master gets his money. I still don’t know much about him either. I guess I could try and ask tonight to settle any questions that I have left. I walked out of the bathroom. Mikado stood by the door dressed in a suit. Again, he’s not smiling. Would it kill him to smile for once? My master looked me up and down.
“You look nice,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said.
“Are you ready to go?” my master asked.
“Yes,” I said. I walked over to him at the front door.
“Akira-kun, behave yourself, okay?” he asked.
“Yes!” he said.
“Very good,” Mikado said. Hikira manifested next to the little boy and my master and I walked out the door. I will miss her too.
I still cannot get over seeing crowded streets at night. I pinched my cheeks.
“It’s real,” my master said. I nervously laughed.
“I knew that!” I said. He looked so deadpan with his cigarette hanging out of his mouth. I tried to speak, but I couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Don’t,” Mikado said. I closed my mouth. He won’t even try? Damn it.
“Just don’t,” he said again.
“Fine,” I grumbled. This will be a rough last night, will it?
We wound up at a five-star Italian restaurant downtown. I whistled aloud.
“Holy shit!” I shouted. “How did you find this place?”
“I looked it up on the internet,” Mikado said. I turned to him with big eyes.
“You’re kidding,” I said. He shook his head.
“Whoa,” I said. The bright lights of the building alone dazzled me. My master held out his hand to me.
“Shall we?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. I took him by the arm and followed him to the door. Once again, I let him lead the way. The doorman greeted us.
“Good evening,” he said.
“Good evening,” Mikado said back. The doorman opened the door. I bowed my head as I followed my master inside. A hostess dressed in black and white greeted us.
“Welcome, welcome,” she said. “Welcome to Little Italy. We are so happy to have you here with us tonight. Do you have a reservation?”
“Yes, we do,” Mikado said. “Two for Ryugamine-san.”
“Right this way,” she said. We followed her into the restaurant. Only the candles around lit the way. Old Italian music filled the air. Young and elderly sat at their tables having dinner. Some were on dates. Others were having late business meetings. I smiled and nodded to myself as they stared at us. So this was what a full restaurant was like. Sure, I have seen this many times. But, it’s always like a magic show each time.
Mikado put his hand on my shoulder. I turned my head.
“Calm down,” he whispered in Japanese. I gave him a sheepish smile as we arrived at our table.
“Here you are,” the hostess said. We sat down and she handed us our menus.
“I will have a member of wait staff coming by to serve you,” she said. I turned my attention to my master when she walked away.
“How did you know that I like Italian?” I asked him.
“I’ve heard your thoughts,” Mikado admitted. I frowned at him.
“I know nothing about you,” I complained. “Why would you let me in?” My master sighed. Now I’ve done it.
“What is there to say about me?” he asked. “I’ve lost people close to me.”
“So have I,” I said.
“No!” Mikado trembled. “You do not understand. It is because of me that they all died. My fiancée, my best friends, both of my gangs, my parents, my friends, and my home. All because of some sick man’s promise to that dreadful woman.” He looked like he was ready to throw up.
“I used to have a normal,” my master lamented. “Then that bastard stole it away from me. Now, he gets away with being dead and I am stuck watching the world die away. Every day, I am reminded of this. I didn’t want things to turn out like this.”
I blinked at him. “I’m so sorry I asked.” My master shook his head.
“No, I owe you that much to say it,” he said. “I didn’t want you to get close to me.”
“I know, you are immortal and I’m not,” I said.
“Do you see why?” my master asked. “I don’t do this to hurt you. You just can’t stay with us.” I folded my arms across my chest, frowning.
“I don’t like it,” I said. “But what choice do I have?” Mikado bowed his head.
“Thank you for understanding,” he said. We didn’t speak as a waitress came to our table. The rest of dinner was just as silent. My heart still ached for him. All of that death and loss around him. I couldn’t do anything for him, but I can’t stay with him either. As much as I hate to admit it, but he is right.
My master paid for everything and took care of the tip.
“You don’t have to do all of that,” I said. Mikado raised his eyebrow.
“Do you have the money to cover this?” he asked.
“Not really…” I mumbled. For once, I saw my master smile for one second.
“Didn’t think so,” he said. Mikado paid for everything and I just sat there and looked pretty. Different location, same things.
We didn’t talk on the way back to the hotel room. What was there to say? I learned all that I could about my master. I won’t see him again after tonight. My master shoved his hands into pockets.
“I wish you well,” he muttered.
“Thank you,” I said. “Same to you too.”
“Thanks,” he said. Akira-kun would already be asleep by the time we made it back to the room. My heart sank as I remembered when I woke up, I would be alone.
When I woke up in the room the next morning, I was alone. Part of me wished that I was dreaming. I found a note on the dresser. I got and picked it up.
I’m sorry that I had to leave you this way. I have become bad at saying goodbye to your face. You have been a great companion. I have covered your fee for the room. You can stay as long as you need to. I also set up an account for you to get by while you figure out what to do next. Akira-kun understands that he has to leave you. I had to fight with him, but he has now accepted.
I wish you all the best. You are much stronger than you think you are.
Signed, your master
I knew this was coming, but I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Just like that, my security fell from underneath me and disappeared. Once again, I was alone.
By 7:39 a.m., I had calmed down and got ready for my first day on my own in my home country. It didn’t feel like home to me. What was going to do now? I’ve spent my life from ages sixteen to twenty-three feeling someone else’s lead. I have never been truly on my own. The thought makes me sad.
I sat in the breakfast café, wondering what I was going to do now. I don’t know anyone in Seattle anymore. I doubt they would even remember me anymore. New York probably isn’t that bad once I get used to it.
“Excuse me,” I heard a man’s voice say. I looked up and saw a man about my age with his hand on the chair opposite me. His green eyes had the same calming effect that Josh and my master’s eyes had on me. Why couldn’t I stop staring at him?
“Is this seat taken?” he asked. I quickly shook my head.
“Oh, no, no,” I said. “Go ahead.”
“Thanks,” this guy said. I don’t know why I said the following. It just happened, really.
“Wait,” I said. The man looked up at me.
“What is it?” he asked. I cleared my throat.
“I’m new to New York City,” I said. “I’m currently trying to get settle and I just need someone to show me around for a little bit today. I mean, if it’s not any trouble for you, of course.” Well, it was out there now. Part of me hoped that this guy would give me a weird look and turn me down.
But, he smiled and said, “Sure, I have a couple of hours to kill anyway.” I smiled and held out my hand.
“My name is Jessie Goodwin,” I said. “It’s nice to meet you.” The guy shook my hand.
“Colin,” he said. “Colin Reynolds.”
Six months later, we would date. Two years later, I will follow him up to Canada after the plague hits America and marry him. I will only tell him about my master once and never mention him again. We will have a son and he will have a daughter years later. I will die peacefully in Canada.
But for now, Colin and I exchange small chit-chat as I finish my first breakfast as my own woman.
I made my way to Grand Central Station. I have Hecate’s key in my hand. Akira-kun followed close behind. At least he stopped asking about Jessie-san.
“She’s not coming with us anymore,” I told him.
“But why?” he asked. I knelt down in front of him.
“Jessie-san’s not like us,” I said. “We will live on, but she will eventually die.” My son looked ready to cry.
“Come on, don’t be like that,” I said. “Come here.” I pulled him into a hug. Akira-kun cried against my chest. Jessie-san was the first one to make him act like a normal child. Until we met her, Akira-kun was quiet and kept to himself. We didn’t run into many children while I was looking for Itori-san. I worried about how he would turn out if this kept up. When Jessie-san came into our lives, Akira-kun started to warm up. Maybe Sakura-chan could keep that going for him if I find her and her mother.
Let’s see, the key has locker number 419 on the surface. I took in a breath and started walking down the narrow halls. Security cameras would not pick us up. I didn’t think about that though. Why would Hecate give me this key? She must have known something about Itori-san and Sakura-chan. But knowing her, she could be toying with me. At worst, this could just be another wild goose chase at my expense. Only one way to find out.
I found the locker towards the end of the hall. Akira-kun clung to my leg. Here is it was. Would I have the answer I was looking for or would I be duped?
I unlocked the door and opened it.
Inside there was a piece of yellow paper folded in half in the middle. I reached in and pulled it out. “1671 Madison Lane. Laney Apartments. Apartment 778”. I tilted my head. What was this address to? Akira-kun stood on his tip-toes, trying to look. I looked down at him.
“Want to see where this goes?” I asked.
“Yeah!” he said. I patted him on the head.
“Okay,” I said. “We’ll get going.”
“Yay!” my son cheered. I smiled and closed the locker door.
We made it to Madison Lane by mid-noon. I located an old apartment building just at the end of the street. I couldn’t see any signs of life around it. But, that old chill raced up my spine. When was the last time I felt this? I quickly looked up at the apartment building.
“Can you feel that?” I asked.
“Uh-huh,” he said. I knew where I needed to go. I heard Akira-kun leaving my side. He must have found Sakura-chan. I teleported up to the roof.
Low and behold, there was Itori-san looking out on the view. She hadn’t changed at all from the last time I saw her. She had her back turned to me dressed in a long brown coat with matching high-heeled boots. I could tell it was her by her long red ponytail.
“You found my note, huh?” Itori-san asked.
“Uh-huh,” I said. I walked up to her side. “Lovely isn’t it?”
“It’s a mess in Japan. It’s dead in fact. Nature has reclaimed the land now. All of our friends are dead.”
“That’s why I left.”
“Same with me. How is your daughter?”
“Good. And your son?”
“He’s doing good.” Mikado took out a cigarette and lit up.
“Still smoking, huh?” Itori-san asked. I chuckled.
“It calms me down,” I said.
“It’s not good for you, you know?”
“It’s not like it will affect us, remember?”
“True, but still…”
“Yeah, yeah.” I flicked out my cigarette and frowned. “I am going to fix this.”
Itori-san looked up. “Mikado?”
“I will try my best to fix all of this,” I said. I turned to her with my cigarette hanging out of my mouth.
“Are you in with me?” I asked. “We can get Yukio-san, Anri-chan, and Masaomi back.”
“How are you going to do that?” she asked. “Can you even pull it off? Do you even have a plan?” I looked her deep into the eye.
“I do,” I said. “I don’t know if it will work, but I am going to try it. However, I can’t do it alone. Are you in or not?” Itori-san didn’t have to think about her answer.
“Yes,” she said. “I will help you.” I bowed my head.
“Thank you, Itori-san,” I said.
“You still talk so polite, don’t you?”
“Old habit, I guess.”
“Ah.” We looked down at the city. Pretty soon, New York and most of America will be taken by the plague in a more hideous form yet.
On the ground, Akira wandered around as little flakes of snow started falling from the sky. He froze as another chill raced up his little spine. The little boy looked up to see a girl about his age peeking out from behind an old sofa in the alley next to the apartment building. He slowly walked over to her. The little girl leapt up, hand accidentally touching the couch. The stuffy light brown material started breaking down and turning into dust beside her. The poor child screamed and took off running. Akira took off running after her.
It didn’t take him long to close the gap between them. Akira caught her by the shoulder. The girl turned around with wide eyes. Itori could be seen in them. The little girl trembled at first. She could already see what was coming next.
But to her surprise, the little boy didn’t break down into dust. He was still standing in front of her. Akira broke into a big smile. The little girl, Sakura, started to blush. So many thoughts ran through the little girl’s head. She didn’t even know what was happening or why she did what she did next.
She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. Akira didn’t push her off. Instead, he slowly took hold of her. He himself didn’t know what to make us this. But somehow, he was happy to see another child just like him in this mad world.
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