The First Meeting
I lived a good life with a loving
family. I had decent grades. I even went to college. I was normal. I never felt
Until I met him.
I was walking down the street on my way home from work. All I wanted was to go home and crawl under the covers, but then I passed a group of men with a young girl beside them and my life was never the same again.
A boy skated by me and I managed to trip over myself, knocking elbows with him. I stumbled over, while he wasn’t affected at all. He looked back at me, his face flushed red. The young girl noticed our encounter. She stopped and ran back towards me, pulling on my shirt from behind. I glanced back to see her staring up at me in awe. She wore a beautiful red dress and had snow-white hair; she was absolutely mesmerizing.
“Are you lost?” I asked her. She said nothing as she stared up at me. I turned towards her and bent down to her level. “Did you lose your mom?” That’s when she grabbed onto my hand and began to pull me. “Whoa! Wait a second!” I exclaimed as I stumbled behind her, trying to keep up. The child was gripping onto me tightly as we passed the group of men who also seemed confused.
“Anna! Don’t just run off!” One of them yelled.
Eventually Anna stopped and I was out of breath. I looked up. We were now standing in front of a bar called “Homra.”
“Do your parents own this place?” I asked her. She looked back at me for a moment and then returned to dragging me inside. The bell attached to the door rang and the bartender looked over as he cleaned a glass.
“Ah! Sorry… um your daughter here grabbed onto me in the street. I guess she thought I was a distant relative or something.” l said, nervously scratching the back of my head with my free hand.
“Anna, who’s your friend?” He asked, completely ignoring me.
“She’s a strain.”
“Eh? You talked!” I exclaimed.
“Hmm… she doesn’t look like one.” The bartender said setting the glass down and leaning against the bar.
“Umm excuse me.” I said, waving my hand. I didn’t really enjoy being talked about as if I wasn’t here. “What’s a strain?”
His eyes widened in surprise. “Are you sure she’s one, Anna?”
I was really beginning to get annoyed now. Anna nodded her head, certain of her accusation.
“Well either way strains don’t have anything to do with us. That’s their area.” He said, returning to his duties of cleaning glasses. “What did you bring her here for?”
“She’s for Mikoto.”
“And what use would she be to the king?” Tatara asked, smiling as he walked in on us.
“King?” I asked, not understanding what he meant.
“I’m sorry. My name is Tatara Totsuka, but you can call me Tatara. Who might you be?” He asked me.
“Umm my name is Akane Nakamura.”
Anna’s eye sparkled, “You’re name is so pretty.” She stated. I didn’t really understand what she meant. It was a simple name; all it meant was “deep red.”
“Nice to meet you, Miss Akane.”
He smiled as he held out his hand. I went to shake it, but Anna was still gripping onto my hand. I looked down at the young girl who stared right back up at me. Suddenly the door swung open and the group of guys from earlier came barging in.
“Is Anna here?!” One of them exclaimed. He looked over and sighed in relief when he saw the young girl clutching onto me. “Oh… what was that all about?” He asked her.
“Umm yeah sorry… I think I should go…” I said as I started to walk out, but the young girl wouldn’t let go of my hand. I looked back and let out a sigh before bending down to her level again. “Is there something wrong?” I asked her. She nodded her head and my eyes widened. “What’s the matter? Are they treating you right here?”
“You need to help Mikoto.” She stated, emotionless. I cocked my head to the side.
“What do you mean? Mikoto who?”
“The King.” The young boy who was riding the skateboard earlier asked. I looked back at him, confused.
“Why do you keep calling this guy a King?” I asked.
“Because that’s what he is.” A large man with sunglasses said.
“Apparently she’s a strain.” The bartender said.
“Hmm? Like Anna?” The boy with the skateboard said. Anna nodded her head.
“I’m sorry.” I said as I stood up. “What in the world is going on here?”
“She doesn’t seem to be aware of it though.” The bartender said.
“Stop talking about as if I’m not here!” I exclaimed, frustrated.
“Sorry about them, they aren’t all that skilled with outsiders.” Tatara said.
“Touch him.” Anna told me, nodding her head to the kind boy.
“Eh? Why!?” I exclaimed. She just stared up at me, waiting for me to do as she said. I let out a sigh and reluctantly lifted my other hand out for him. He confusingly grabbed hold of it and after a moment he smiled.
“What is it Totsuka?” One of the guys asked. The boy just kept smiling at me for some reason and it began to creep me out.
“Uhh… what…?” I said.
“Come on Anna, let’s take your friend to see the King.” He said as he began to walk upstairs. I looked down at the girl and she started to pull me after him.
“Hey! Wait a second!” The boy with the skateboard exclaimed. “You can’t just let anybody meet with Mikoto!”
They both ignored him as I followed them upstairs to meet this mysterious King. We ended up in front of a door in a dark hall. The ominous air was frightening enough to make me worry about what exactly I had gotten thrown into. Tatara pushed open the door. The creaking sound sent shivers down my spine as I tried not to scream at nothing. Anna pulled me into the room and there, lying asleep on a couch, was the infamous King Mikoto. He had vibrant red hair that was spiked up except for two strands that lay against his sleeping face. He looked so peaceful and I no longer felt the irrational fear I was experiencing.
“King.” Tatara smiled. “King, wake up. We have a guest.”
The man slowly opened his eyes and looked up to see Tatara, Anna, and me, a stranger, standing over him.
“Who is that?” He asked.
“This is Akane Nakamura. She’s a strain.” He stated. I still had no idea what they were talking about. If it weren’t for Anna clutching onto me I would have run out of there for my life a long time ago.
“So?” He grumbled. “Turn her into him.” He was referring to the Blue King, who handled the strains and monitored them, but I didn’t know this at the time so I was overcome with confusion. He closed his eyes, trying to fall back to sleep.
“Just let her touch you.” Tatara said, still holding that goofy smile of his.
“What?” He growled, his eyes still closed.
“Mikoto.” Anna said. He opened his eyes and looked over at her. “I found her for you.”
He groaned as he pushed himself up. He sat hunched over, glaring up at me. He held out his hand and I looked at Anna and Tatara in confusion. They just stared at me, waiting for me to do as they said. I looked back over at him and as he glared up at me with his cold eyes and hand extended, I once again felt the irrational fear fill me up. I trembled as I hesitantly lifted my hand out and lightly grabbed onto his. His skin was warm and his hand enveloped mine, but as our fingers brushed against each other I felt this odd feeling my chest, as if it was going to erupt. We held hands for a solid two seconds before I forcefully pulled mine back.
He turned towards Tatara with a menacing look and growled, “get rid of her.” Tatara looked hurt as the grumpy King lied back down and closed his eyes.
“But she can help you!”
“I don’t want anyone like her around here.”
I was even more confused by now. What was the matter with this guy? Why do they all keep calling me a strain? Why is this little girl clutching onto me? How the hell did I get into this mess?
“Her aura… is almost as pretty as yours.” Anna stated. He looked over at her for a moment and then let out a sigh.
I later found out that was a lie. Turns out I was the only person whose aura Anna could not see.
Tatara smiled and Anna’s eyes sparkled. The King went back to sleep and Anna pulled me back downstairs to the bar.
“Does someone want to explain to me exactly what’s going on?” I asked.
“What did Mikoto say?” Yata asked Tatara.
“She can stay.” He smiled. Yata huffed, unhappy with the verdict.
“Hello!” I exclaimed. Everyone looked over at me and I suddenly felt embarrassed. My cheeks burned as I averted my eyes from their stares. “I really don’t understand what’s going on and I’d like to go home.”
“I’ll explain.” Tatara said. I looked up at him, hopeful. “You’re a strain.”
I was overcome with fury, “What does that mean!?”
“You have special powers that didn’t come from a King, you were born with them.” Kusanagi said. I couldn’t help but laugh at their explanation. I laughed so hard that my stomach started to hurt, and they all they just stared at me.
“You guys… are… crazy.” I said in between breaths.
“Hmm? Are you seriously that ignorant?” Kusanagi said. I looked over at him and he held a smirk across his face.
“Don’t laugh at Homra so lightly.” Yata said.
Suddenly all of them except for Tatara and Anna started radiating a red fire. I jumped back in surprise and grabbed onto Anna to protect her from the flames. She looked at me with a blank expression; she didn’t seem frightened at all. The fire ceased and I hesitantly stood up.
“From your reaction I assume that you didn’t grow up here?” Kusanagi said as he grabbed a cigarette and lit it with his lighter. I looked over at him in confusion, still shaking from the sudden fright. I slightly nodded my head. “Our King up there that you just met gives us power, while you and Anna have your own form.”
“I’m just a normal person, nothing more.” I said as I looked down at Anna. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t just go with her clutching onto me like that.
“I guess it makes sense that you don’t know of your own power.” Tatara said. I didn’t even acknowledge him as I stared down at the young girl beside me. “Since your ability is to nullify a King’s power and it seems as though you’ve never encountered one before.”
“Eh?!” Yata and the other group of guys were surprised.
“Now that you’ve made contact though the Blue’s have surely noticed. It won’t be long before they come to take you.” Kusanagi said as he took a hit of his cigarette.
That was when I started to pay attention.
“What?!” I looked over at him and he didn’t seem at all concerned.
“You’re definitely not a strong as Anna, which is probably why they hadn’t really noticed in the first place. But now that you are affiliated with us they will surely want you for themselves. Their selfish like that.”
I looked down at Anna and I thought, ‘maybe she saved me?’ but then it crossed my mind that perhaps if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be in any trouble in the first place. Everything they were saying was insane, but that odd fire that surrounded them earlier made me fearful for the little girl and myself, so I stayed for a while. I sat on the couch with Anna in silence as I watched the boys talk amongst themselves. I tried to rack through my mind on how I could get out of this situation without hurting the young girl. At first I thought I might be able to take her with me, but after watching them for awhile I realized they all shared a bond and if I just took her away they would definitely come after us and take her back. I looked over at the little girl beside me. She had finally let go of my hand, but I still felt like she was clutching onto me in a way. She looked over at me and I couldn't help it anymore.
“What’s your relationship with these people?” I asked her.
“They are… my family.”
“Do you want something to eat?” Tatara asked us. Anna nodded her head. He looked over at me and I said no. He later came back with a plate of omelet rice and the young girl devoured it. She looked really cute with the crumbs all over her face. I couldn’t help but smile. I grabbed a napkin and wiped them off for her.
“He must be a really good cook.” I commented as I tried to hold in my laughter.
I didn’t even notice that the so-called King was watching from the top of the stairs. I had finally broken the ice with the young girl and I spent the rest of my time having fun with her. However, night soon fell and Anna went to bed. I was about to leave, but Tatara stopped me.
“You should come back tomorrow.” He said.
“I… umm…” I didn't know how to tell him I found everything there just a bit too weird.
“Anna barely ever stays down by the bar for so long. She spends most of her time beside King. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen her spend so much time with anyone else.”
“Is he her father?” I asked him.
He laughed. “No, no. She just likes to be around him is all.”
“Oh… I see.”
I wasn’t planning on coming back, but I guess I just couldn’t stay away. When I got back home I noticed a little red piece of paper taped to my door. I let out a sigh as I glanced over it and saw in big black letters, “Eviction Notice”. I had just lost my job today and I will soon have nowhere to go.
I spent the next few days job hunting and after a long day of interviews and obvious rejections I would go to Homra and sit with Anna. I rarely talked to anyone else but her. I tried Tatara’s cooking and it was actually really good. I tried to pay him with the little amount of pocket money I had left, but he always declined. I didn’t let myself get involved in their craziness; I just wanted to make a little girl happy.
I never realized that Mikoto was watching me the whole time.
Eventually I was kicked out of my apartment and left on the streets. I didn’t go visit Anna that day; I was much too ashamed. I sat on the street corner underneath the tall apartment building, surrounded by my things like a homeless person. It was raining and I was trying not to get soaked to the bone. I sat there for hours trying to think of what to do, with people throwing change at my feet every once in awhile. My family lived abroad and I had no close friends so I really had nowhere to go. I felt pathetic, like a failure in life. I stayed in Japan because I thought I could handle life on my own, but now I regretted not going to America with my parents.
Night fell and the creeps started to show up. Every once in awhile a group of sleazy guys would offer me money for sex, I would decline and they would move on, but ultimately a group of not so reasonable guys came along.
“Hey baby, why don’t you come with me? I can make you feel real good.” One of them leaned down over me. I could smell the alcohol on his breath. I wrinkled my nose and averted my eyes.
“No thanks.” I said.
“Aww come on. You know you want to.” He grabbed onto my arm and pulled me up to him, his friends just laughed.
“Please let go of me.” I whimpered. He was digging his nails into my skin.
“I’ll take you back to mine and we can get real naughty.” He laughed.
“Let go.” A deep voice growled. The group of guys turned around and started to laugh louder. With the guy still clutching onto me, I leaned to the side to try and see who was there and my eyes widened in surprise.
“Get lost, this ain’t any of your business.” The drunk sneered.
“How about I burn you to a crisp?” Mikoto stood in the rain with his hands in his pocket, surrounded by large red flames. Anna stood beside him, holding a red umbrella over her head.
“Whoa! What the heck is wrong with this guy!?” One of the men exclaimed.
“He’s a demon!”
“Let’s get out of here!”
The man let go of me and I fell to the wet concrete ground. They all ran away tripping over themselves. I stared up at Mikoto in astonishment as he approached me with Anna close behind.
“A girl like you shouldn’t sit on the side of the street in the dead of night.” He said.
“What are you…?”
“You can stay with us until you get back on your feet.” He started to walk away and I just sat there, watching after him. I was completely awe struck.
“Come on.” Anna said. I looked over at her for a moment and regained my senses. I nodded, pushed myself up, grabbed my things, and walked back with her, holding the umbrella over our heads.
That’s when I began to think, ‘Maybe… they aren’t so bad after all…’