Halo Seven: Anri:
She’s trying to keep it together. Mikado is still awkward around her. The little time they really talked was were he took her to the clinic to get a prescription for the morning after pill.
“I am so sorry, Anri,” Mikado said in the waiting room.
“It’s okay,” she said. The waiting room was virtually empty that morning. The teenaged pair had gotten in as soon as it opened. They couldn’t go to Shinra because he didn’t have the license to prescribe something legal. The tadpole shook his head.
“No, it’s not okay,” he said. “I raped you. Why didn’t you stop me?” The last parts came out in a whisper. He started to replay the events from the night before in his head. Anri rubbed his back.
“You didn’t,” she said. “You weren’t in a good place at the time.”
“How can you say that? Why didn’t you stop me?” he asked. “You knew it wasn’t right. But you still let me go through it. Just… Why?” The doctor came into the room.
“Sonohara-san,” she said. Anri stood up and walked to the back with her. She looked over her shoulder at Mikado.
“Come on,” she said. Mikado shook his head.
“Are you sure?” she asked. The tadpole boy nodded once. Anri followed the doctor without a single word. Moments later, she came back out with the paperwork in hand.
“Are you ready to go?” Mikado asked as he stood up.
“Yeah,” she said. The pair headed out of the clinic and straight to the drug store. Minutes later, Anri had her morning after pill.
It’s been awkward ever since.
Even Kida’s jokes weren’t helping anymore. Not with what Chiharu had become now. Plus, everything didn’t feel right around the city again. That fact came as a reminder this morning.
Anri awoke to hearing her phone buzzing. She reached over to her nightstand for it. It felt strange to be back in her own bed for a change. Masaomi stayed with Mikado last night. He gave her the night off, in fact.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s fine,” Masaomi said. “Saki is doing fine and I have a couple of my guys looking after her. You can take a rest.” She wanted to argue back but figured that it wouldn’t produce much.
“I’ll be back in the morning,” she told him instead.
“Call me as soon as you get home,” the blonde Shogun said back. “Please be careful tonight.”
“I will,” she said. Saika’s mother bowed and walked home.
This morning, Anri flipped open her phone after she put on her glasses.
“One new message?” she asked. Saika’s mother opened the message. A confused look came onto her face.
“What… is this?” she asked herself. At first, the message looked like it was all coded. Smilies and weird symbols covered her screen. Anri scrolled through the message looking for something coherent. She didn’t know why she didn’t close out of it. Her eyes and fingers stayed glued to her the screen
“What happened to my phone?” was the thought that crossed her mind at one point. Anri was about to get up to take it to the store to have it reset when she got to the bottom on the message. Four little words gave her pause.
The Woman in Red.
Right then, a strange memory ran through her head.
Anri saw herself in hospital bed. Tubes were sticking out of her arms. A yellowish pink liquid was being pumped into her body. Her breathing sounded labored. She felt so fragile in the bed. A heart monitor beeped off to her right. There was a mirror on the other side of the room. The sight awaiting her just made it even worse. Her skin looked so ashen gray with her face so sullen. Her eyes lost of life to them. She could see her bones underneath her skin. Anri couldn’t even hear Saika’s voice anymore.
This poison… It’s killing me. But why? Why are they doing this to me?
But there was another thought on her mind as well. My son… Where is my son?
This wasn’t the first time she had this vision either. Anri first had this memory the night after she lost her virginity to Mikado. The first time scared her so much that she couldn’t even look the tadpole boy in the face. Where did this memory even come from? She would’ve chalked it up to a nightmare she had. But it just felt too real.
She tried to keep it to herself. No time to worry about memories when Mikado kept coming undone before her eyes. First, she had to break the awkwardness between them. Masaomi didn’t help with that one question that lingered in the air.
“Are you and Mikado dating now?” he asked. Anri’s face turned bright red.
“I… I… I don’t know!” she yelped. “We just slept together that one night and now…” Masaomi gave her a stern look.
“Don’t abandon him, Anri,” he said in a hushed tone. “He needs you.” How many times was everyone going to tell her that? Celty, Mika, and now Masaomi. The pressure kept building up on her. Anri didn’t know how she could take this anymore. But Mikado’s own needs and misery wouldn’t let her give up.
It would be so easy to walk away.
“You have to side by his side,” Mika said. “He needs you.” She is right, but Anri feels so useless to him. But that’s not the only thing she has to worry about.
“What is the matter, Mika?” Anri asked as the girls walked to the bookstore. Mika looked up at her with a confused look on her face.
“What do you mean?” Mika asked.
“You’ve been quiet since you got Seiji back,” her friend said. “Did something happen between you?” She stopped in her tracks.
“That’s not it,” Mika said.
“What is it then?” Anri asked.
“This city will not last much longer,” she said. Mika lifted her head. The look in her eyes began to scare her friend.
“Are you familiar with the Seven Gates of the Apocalypse?” she asked.
“No…” Anri said. Mika pressed her lips together before speaking.
“The Tandeki Group has opened six of the gates already,” she said. “If they open the seventh one, we are screwed.”
“What are you talking about?” Anri asked. “I don’t understand you.”
“The Woman in Red,” Mika said. “She is coming.” Every inch of Anri’s body froze. She remembered that e-mail she got this morning. Something about seeing those words gave her chills. Where had she heard them before? Anri felt Mika grab her by the shoulder, pulling her back to reality.
“Anri!” she shouted. Anri looked up at her, panting.
“What?” she asked.
“You’re shaking,” Mika said. Saika’s mother looked down at her legs. They were shaking like she said.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Anri said. She sucked in a mouthful of air. “Tell me more about the Woman in Red.” Mika took her hand off of her shoulder.
“How much do you remember?” she asked. Anri stared at her.
“You’re starting to get your memories back, aren’t you?” Mika asked. Her friend’s mind went back to her being in that hospital bed, wasting away. The liquid being pumped into her body. Her longing to hold her son.
“Did I die?” Anri asked in a low voice. Mika rested her hands on her shoulders.
“Yes,” she said. Somehow, it didn’t surprise her.
“Do I have a son?”
“Who else remembers?”
“Not many. But they will soon.”
Anri’s stomach turned. The one thing she feared was actually true. She wasn’t going to live long to see her son. She would end up wasting away in a hospital and dying alone. There was still one more thing she had to know.
“Mika,” Anri spoke up.
“Hm?” Mike asked. Saika’s Mother hesitated for a moment. She had an idea that countless numbers of people in Ikebukuro were going to die. But she had to know the answer to this burning question in her head.
“What’s going to happen to Mikado?” Anri asked in a trembling voice. “Is he going to die too?” Mika looked her in the eye with a hint of ease.
“You will have to ask him yourself,” she said.
“Stay by him?” Saika’s mother asked, knowing what she needed to do.
“Yes,” Mika said. So this was how it needed to be. Anri would have to keep Mikado from breaking down by staying by her. But she couldn’t help but feel the gnawing uneasy of remembering her own death in her head.
Shion turned to her companion and smiled.
“Today’s your lucky day,” she said. She knelt down to her companion’s eye level. “We’re going to see your mother today.” Shion put up her hands.
“Okay, okay. Calm down. Calm down,” she said. There was a short pause.
“We’re going to see her right now,” Shion said. “Yeah. Come on.” She held out her hand. The tiny gasp took hold of her hand.
“Hold on tight, okay?” she asked. Both vanished into thin air.
They appeared across the street from a 7-11. Shion smiled and patted the companion on the head.
“There, there,” she said. “I know you’re excited. But just calm down, okay?” She took a breath.
“Good,” the guardian spirit said. “She will be out in a couple of minutes. But you have to promise one thing.” There came another pause. Shion took a breath.
“You must not for any reason try to approach her,” she said. “You can see her but don’t try to run up and talk to her. It’s best that she doesn’t know you exist yet. Can you promise me that?” Silence. Shion gave her companion a stern look.
“You have promise me,” she said. Another pause. The guardian spirit finally smiled.
“Very good,” she said. She happened to look up when she heard the door jingling from across the street. A small smile spread across her face.
“Oh look, we’ve made it just in time,” she said. Shion paused across the street. “There she is. There’s your mother.” Anri walked out of the 7-11 with two bags in her hands. She looked to be lost in thought as she stood outside.
“Isn’t she pretty?” Shion asked. She held out her arm. “Whoa, there! Remember what you promised me. You can’t go over and talk to her. She gave a sympathetic smile and knelt down to her companion.
“You will get to meet her when you are born,” Shion said. “For now, you can only watch from afar. Understood?” She smiled and patted her companion on the head.
“Very good,” she said. Shion held out her hand. “Come along.” She gave her companion a sympathetic look.
“You will get to see her again, I promise,” she said. “Now come along.” They disappeared into thin air just as Anri started walking back to her apartment.
It’s quiet today. Too quiet. Even with all of these people around. Anri tried to ignore Saika talking to her, warning her.
They are watching us. We can’t cut them. They are watching us.
She wasn’t wrong. Anri did have the feeling of someone watching her from across the street as she was walking out of the 7-11. When she looked up, there was no one there. They didn’t feel malicious though. In fact, one of them felt kind of warm. Familiar, even. Some, there were some out there that weren’t so friendly.
Then, there was Mika’s warning.
Who was the Woman in Red? Something about her seemed to fill her friend with dread. Mikado even flinched when heard that name in passing. He begged her not to look her up.
“You are better off not knowing,” the tadpole boy told her. As much as she wanted to listen, the topic just drew her to learn more. The Woman in Red was the only thing on her mind though. Anri couldn’t stop thinking about her own death either. Fragments of her memories started to come together piece by piece. Things were being done to her body. The tubes in her arms were one thing. But then, someone was cutting into her. She could feel every time the blade opened up her body. Anri couldn’t see their faces. They all spoke in hushed tones. Bright light blinded her. They were about to begin another round of cuts.
“Anri!” a woman’s voice yelled in reality. Anri jerked her head upwards. Across the way in the crowd stood Mikado with an older woman with long purplish-black hair. Said woman waved excited at her. Anri stared at her with a confused look on her face. Suddenly, the woman ran forward and hugged the teenaged girl. Anri stared wide-eyed as Mikado ran to catch up with the women.
“I’m sorry, do I know you?” she asked the woman. The woman smiled as she let go.
“You did,” she said. “And you will again soon.” Anri looked over at Mikado. The poor boy looked like he was trying to give her an explanation that would not make him look guilty. The woman grabbed Anri by the arm.
“My name is Fuyuko,” she said. “Let’s be friends. Come and hang out with us, Anri.” Saika’s mother could already tell that she didn’t have much of a choice. So, the three of them walked around the city. Mikado and Anri couldn’t look at each other. Fuyuko frowned at the display.
“Is everyone okay?” she asked. No answer. Fuyuko’s frown deepened. Looks like it was time to change tactics. She moved her arms behind her head.
“Tell me something, Anri,” the woman spoke up. “What is Mikado to you?” The teenagers stopped dead in their tracks and turned around. Anri’s cheeks turned bright red.
“What?!” she cried.
“Come on, Anri,” Fuyuko said. “You’re not virgins anymore. I would say that you were more than just friends at this point.” She leaned in closer to Saika’s mother.
“If you don’t want him, I’ll take him,” Fuyuko said in a low voice. Anri about jumped. She didn’t know why she did the following next. Maybe it was sheer panic. Maybe it was the overwhelming tense she felt between her and Mikado over the weeks. But Anri grabbed Mikado’s hand as fast as she could.
“You can’t!” she shouted. Fuyuko put her hands on her hips as she raised an eyebrow.
“Oh?” she asked. “And why is that?” Anri gulped. She struggled with what she wanted to say at first. Too late to turn back now. She might as well say it. The whole time Mikado began to panic. You don’t have to do it. This is just a mental they are playing to get us together. Please don’t do it. Anri tightened her grasp on his hand.
“You can’t have him!” she blurted out. “Because… Because… He’s my boyfriend!” Mikado’s face turned bright red as he looked up at her. Everyone was staring at her now. Anri didn’t seem to care anymore. It was out there now. She couldn’t take it back. Fuyuko smiled.
“Heh,” she said. “Was that so hard to do?” Anri froze, feeling she got played. Meanwhile, Fuyuko grinned to herself. Now things would get more interesting. Or worse. The woman leaned in close to Anri’s ear and whispered one little thing that made the girl shiver.
“You made the right decision,” Fuyuko whispered. By the time Anri turned around, the sultry woman disappeared.