One of Them
I slept in Anna’s room the
night they saved me from the streets. I held her as we lied in bed and stared
out the window.
“Why would Mikoto need my help?” I couldn’t believe that I was going along with the craziness, but it was nagging at me for a while.
“If he isn't careful… I’m afraid I’ll lose him.” For the first time since I’ve met her she had a hint of sorrow in her voice. I tightened my grip around her buried my face in her hair.
“I won’t let that happen.”
I know it was stupid of me to say something like that, but I couldn’t stand to even think about her being sad. I had no idea how I was going to uphold that promise of mine, but I knew that I had to try.
The next morning I woke up to an empty room. I looked over and the clock said it was noon. I hadn’t slept in that late since I was a teenager. I crawled out of bed and stumbled over to my suitcase. I grabbed a black tank top, my long white ruffled skirt, and my brown flats. I was never a very fashionable person.
I walked out and looked around for the bathroom so I could wash my face. I had no idea where to look even though I was in there just last night. I walked down the long hall. I passed a room with the door cracked open. I thought it might be the bathroom so I slowly pushed it open and poked my head in. My eyes widened when I saw Mikoto lying in bed. He slightly opened his eyes and looked over at me.
“Eh… sorry I umm… was just looking for the bathroom.” I felt the heat rush to my face as I remembered the night before when saved me.
“End of the hall.” He mumbled as he rolled over so his back was facing me.
“Thanks…” I was about to close the door and leave him, when I remembered I never thanked him for what he did. I stood there trying to bring up the courage to tell him.
“Was there something else?” He asked, not bothering to look back.
“Ah… Umm…thank you… for last night. I wasn’t expecting… that…”
“You being dead would make Anna sad.”
“…Right.” I couldn’t help but smile despite his crude words. That was the moment when I realized just how much Mikoto cared about Anna and it made me happy.
I closed the door behind me and made my way to the bathroom. After I was done I went downstairs and said good morning to Anna. She was sitting at the bar eating lunch. I was still smiling like an idiot and Kusanagi noticed.
“What’s so funny?” He asked.
“Eh? ... Oh nothing.” I said.
“Do you want some breakfast?” Tatara offered.
“Oh no you don’t have to go to the trouble.”
“It’s no problem. I still have some left over pancakes from this morning.” He said as he went into the kitchen.
“Thank you.” I said as I clutched onto my skirt and smiled.
“He almost lost a hand trying to keep those things from being eaten by the others.” Kusanagi revealed.
“Oh wow… you are all too kind.” I guess I never noticed until then how nice they all were underneath their crude appearances.
“So… why exactly were you out on the streets last night?” Kusanagi asked.
“That’s umm…” I fumbled with my skirt as I started to get nervous. I didn’t really want to tell him I was at rock bottom, but I guess it was already apparent. “I lost my job awhile ago and I wasn’t able to pay rent…”
“I see… well do you have any restaurant experience?”
“Eh?” I looked up at him, surprised that he might be offering a job. “I umm… I worked in a small restaurant as a waitress when I was 18.”
“I think this place could do well with a pretty girl serving food. How old are you?” He asked.
“22!” I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Great! You’re old enough to serve drinks. How about you become a waitress here?”
“YES!” I jumped up from my seat. I was overcome with excitement. Anna looked over at me like I was crazy for being so excited over such a crappy job, but at least this way I could get enough money to get out of their hair.
“You’ll be making just enough to pay for rent.” He said, smiling. I suddenly felt like I just failed at life once again. I sat back down and laid my head on the counter.
“How pathetic.” I mumbled. I couldn’t argue with him though, I was inconveniencing them by staying there it was only right that I paid rent.
“Here you go.” Tatara said as he set down the plate of pancakes covered in syrup. I lifted my head and forced a smile.
“Thank you very much.”
I devoured the wonderful food. I didn’t eat anything yesterday since I was broke. I gladly asked for seconds. As I was eating Mikoto came down and sat down next to me. Tatara gave him a plate of food and he immediately dug in.
I couldn’t help but notice his presence a lot more. I figured it was because of him saving me, but the promise I made to Anna was still embedded in my mind. She feels like if he isn’t careful that she could lose him. I didn’t understand what that meant at the time, but I thought maybe it had to do with the stress he was under as a king.
But what could I do for him? What ability do I have? I looked down at my hands and thought about how they said I had the power to nullify a king’s power and how weird it felt to touch the man that sat beside me. I decided that I shouldn’t think about those things that made no sense and focus on the matter at hand.
I was going to have to look for a way to make this man happy.
He looked over at me and gave me an odd look.
“What?” He asked. I didn’t even realize that I was staring at him this entire time.
“Oh umm…” I looked back down at my food. “Nothing.”
I was planning on leaving my stuff in my suitcase so that I wasn’t any trouble to Anna, but she insisted that I hang my clothes up in the closet. There was a lot more space than I expected. She didn’t have that much clothes.
“Hey, Anna… why are all of your clothes red?” I asked as I hung up the remaining of my shirts.
“Red is the only color I can see.” She stated. I stopped and looked over at her.
“Really?” I was surprised. I didn’t think that she was colorblind. She nodded her head and I looked over at my clothes. Most of what I had was black and white, I wasn’t one for colors, but I had one or two red things. “Then I guess I’ll have to save up and buy some new clothes.” I looked over at her and smiled and she stared at me in awe. I grabbed a red t-shirt and quickly put it on.
That was the first time I ever saw her smile.
I had just finished my first shift. I didn’t expect this job to be so brutal. I should have realized that I’d be working late since it was a bar. I trudged upstairs and stumbled down the hall. I looked up to see Mikoto leaning against the wall.
“What are you doing up so late?” I asked him. He shrugged his shoulders. He began to walk towards me.
“Don’t think that just because you’re here I’m going to let you use your ability on me.”
He walked past me and I looked back at him, surprised that he thought that.
“I wasn’t planning on anything like that.” I said. He stopped and glanced back at me. “I just want to make Anna happy. They are all worried about you and I just want to help.” I paused for a moment, trying to bring up the courage to tell him my intentions. “I promised Anna I would help so… I’m going to make you happy, Mikoto!”
I could feel the heat rush to my cheeks from the embarrassment. Mikoto’s eyes widened from my words. He didn’t expect my objectives to be so absurd. For a moment I thought I heard him laugh a little, but he kept his back to me so I couldn’t confirm it.
“You’re such a good girl.”
He walked off and went into his room without a glance back. As soon as I heard the door click I crouched down and buried my face in my hands.
Over and over I couldn’t stop screaming to myself in my head, ‘I can’t believe I said that! He must think I’m so weird.’
A week passed and every time I looked at Mikoto I couldn’t help but think of my outburst from the other day and I would get embarrassed. I did everything I could to spend as little amount of time at Homra as possible just for that reason.
One day I offered to get groceries for Tatara. However, as I was walking back I crossed paths with a blue clansman. I had no idea who he was until he approached me though.
“Akane Nakamura?” He asked me.
“Yes…” I was confused. I looked him up and down. He wore all blue and I noticed a sword hanging at his side. I started to get a bit nervous.
“As stated by the law of scepter 4 I’m taking you into custody for evaluation.” He grabbed onto me and held out handcuffs. I was struck with fear.
“Please come quietly so there isn’t any trouble.” He was about to snap the cuffs on, but I panicked and ran away, dropping the bags of groceries. “Hey!” He exclaimed as he ran after me.
I knew it was wrong of me to run, but I had a feeling that everyone would be mad if I went down quietly. I ran all the way back to Homra. Everyone looked over at me in surprise as I leaned against the door, out of breath.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have led him here.”
Everyone gave me confused look, but they understood when they saw the man in blue outside the bar.
“Crap.” Yata growled.
“I’m sorry…” I felt absolutely horrible that I put them in this position. “I’ll go back and let him take me.”
“There’s no need for that.” Kusanagi said.
“I’ll take him down!” Yata said as he grabbed onto his skateboard and headed outside with everyone behind him. I thought about staying back, but I didn’t want to be a coward. I walked out and stood behind everyone as they confronted the blue.
“You know you aren’t allowed around here.” Kusanagi said.
“I’m on orders to take the strain into custody for evaluation. If she passes she will be back in a few days.”
“We won’t let any of ours have anything to do with the blues.” Yata hissed.
“We already know that Akane is no threat.” Kamamoto said.
“That isn’t for you to decide.” The blue stated. “I’m willing to take her by force if I have to.” He gripped onto the end of his sword.
“And we’re willing to fight you for her.” Yata smiled as he radiated red flames.
“There’s no point.” A familiar voice said. I looked back and Mikoto stood behind me with Anna close behind. “Tell your king that he has no need to assess this strain.” He walked out towards the blue that didn’t seem like he wanted to back down. “She’s one of us after all.” He erupted in red flames. My eyes widened in surprise. I didn't think that he thought of me as one of them. I always thought I was just an outsider, but to be apart of their clan… it didn’t sound so bad. The blue clenched his jaw, reluctantly loosened his grip on his sword, and left. Mikoto looked back at me. “Good job. If you went quietly I would’ve never let you forget about it.”
I stared at him in awe and without even thinking I asked, “Am I really one of you?”
“Of course you are.” Tatara smiled.
“Wasn’t that obvious?” Kusanagi said.
I grinned from ear it ear, “I’m so happy.”
I didn’t notice at the time, but Mikoto was holding back a smile.
Eventually everyone explained to me the truth about the 7 kings and strains. It all sounded insane but I believed it. With all the craziness I’ve endured over the past few weeks I really had no other choice.
Tatara bought an old fashioned camera recently. He said he wanted to videotape everyone so he could hold the memories forever. I always felt insecure whenever he points it at me.
I was sitting at the bar trying to think of a way to make help Mikoto. I had been watching him ever since I made that promise to Anna and I hadn’t had any luck in figuring out what I was going to do. Tatara came up to me with his camera in my face.
“What’s on your mind Akane?”
“Hmm?” I looked over at him and I felt the heat rush to my face when I saw he was recording.
“Oh it’s nothing…” Then a thought crossed my mind. Tatara seemed to know a lot about Mikoto. Perhaps he might have some insight. “Hey… what makes Mikoto happy?”
“Hmm? Why do you ask?”
“Eh!?... Uh… well…” I was afraid if I told him the truth he might think I was being silly.
“Oh I get it.” He smiled. “Lets see… King likes… smoking… his clan… he really likes food…”
I suddenly got a brilliant idea.
“Tatara! Please teach me how to cook!” I exclaimed. He laughed at my silliness.
‘Yes! I can definitely make Mikoto happy and less stressed out if I cook him the perfect meal.’
“I’ll make you a great wife for the King.” He said.
“Eh!?” I exclaimed. “Wife?!” He nodded his head. “You’ve got it all wrong!” I waved my hands and shook my head furiously. “It’s nothing like that.”
He just kept nodding his head and smiling like an idiot with that camera on his shoulder. I slumped over, knowing I wouldn’t be able to win, feeling like a failure once again.