The Rude Stray
For a few months not a lot happened. It was rather quite at
Homra, but then one day Fujishima brought in a stray boy from the streets.
“What’s the matter? What’s that strange thing on your back?” Kusanagi asked.
“I picked it up.” Fujishima said.
“Fujishima often picks up some stray cats or dogs, but it’s the first time you’ve picked up a human.” Tatara said.
“That’s not allowed, so no. Put him back where you found him.” Kusanagi bluntly said.
“But Kusanagi, it’s raining!” I exclaimed as I ran around the counter and over to Fujishima. “Is he alright?” I brought my hand to the boy’s forehead. “He’s burning up.” I looked over at Kusanagi with pleading eyes.
He let out a sigh, “Can’t you take him back to your house?”
“My parents are at home.” Fujishima said.
“And I don’t have a home.” I added.
“Forget it. Isn’t it fine Kusanagi?” Tatara said, smiling as always. Kusanagi let out yet another sigh and I decided to take it as a yes.
“I’ll go get a towel.” I said as I ran upstairs and grabbed some things to nurse him back to health.
The next day the boy woke up suddenly on the couch in the middle of the afternoon.
“Oh you’re awake.” Yata said.
“The guy who’s half dead on the road finally wakes up.” Kamamoto said.
I looked over and smiled before running over to his side and placing my hand on his forehead to check his temperature. He slapped it away, but I didn't take any offense. He had woken up suddenly in a strange place, so I expected him to be rattled.
“Hey! Be nice to Akane.” Yata said.
“It's okay.” I said. “Your fever seems to have gone down. I’ll make you breakfast.”
“Better not let her do that.” Kusanagi said.
“Hey! It can’t be that bad!” I exclaimed. I looked back over at the boy. “I wrapped some of your wounds up. Seems you got a real beating out there.” He looked down at his arms and grabbed onto his neck, just noticing the bandages.
“What’s your name?” Kamamoto asked.
“Why did you faint in that place?” Shouhei asked.
“Suddenly being asked so many questions, you must feel awkward right?” Tatara said. He stood up from his stool and walked over to Fujishima’s side, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Anyway, this is the guy who found you.” The boy simply stared up at Fujishima as if he had done something wrong.
“What the hell? You don’t even know how to say thank you?” Yata said. “Or perhaps you’re a foreigner that doesn’t understand Japanese?”
“Hmph shut your mouth shorty!” The boy retorted in English.
“EH!?” Yata exclaimed, irritated by the boy’s rudeness. “This fellow is looking down on me right?” Tatara grabbed onto him from behind, trying to calm him down. “Don’t think I don’t understand English! You bastard!”
The boy just huffed and turned away from him.
“I know Yata wasn’t polite enough.” Kusanagi said in English. I watched him in amazement; something about a Japanese guy speaking good English was attractive. “But your attitude is also not acceptable.”
The boy said nothing once again and we all just sat around waiting, until finally Fujishima gave it a shot.
“What’s your name?”
“You can speak Japanese just fine!” Yata exclaimed.
“You are… underweight.” Fujishima pointed out.
“Don’t worry, I’ll make you some pancakes.” I said.
“I don’t need an old hag like you taking care of me.” The boy said in English. I was now just as irritated as Yata.
“HAG?! OLD!? I’M 22 HOW IS THAT OLD?!” Now I was the one Tatara had to hold back.
“I told you before not to speak to Akane like that!” Yata exclaimed. None of us really noticed Mikoto coming downstairs during the ruckus.
“You really should eat something though…” Fujishima said.
“No it’s fine.” Eric looked back and there Mikoto stood behind him. The King glanced down at the boy and then over at me, Tatara let me go and I took a deep breath. Eric was caught by surprise and suddenly fell off the couch and onto the ground.
“Ahh Mikoto, good day!” Yata said.
“Homra’s… King…” Eric said. He watched Mikoto in amazement as he walked over to me.
“Ah you’ve met the King before?” Tatara asked.
“I’d rather you not talk to Akane that way, she’s rather innocent.” Mikoto said and then patted the top of my head. I was once again overcome with anger.
“Innocent?” I glared up at him.
“Would you rather I call you virgin?” He said in that almost bored, but smooth tone of his.
“I’m not even a virgin!”
Later that afternoon Tatara made Eric lunch and I sat on the sidelines, sulking as I tried to forget the stray boy spitting out my food earlier in disgust.
Yata seemed really irritated with Eric’s continued presence, while everyone else really didn’t seem to mind. After a period of long silences and short answers Eric finally spoke to us.
“Uhm… excuse me, you guys are the Homra right?”
“Yes.” Fujishima said.
“Do you all really have unimaginable power?”
“Unimaginable power… well you can say that.” Kusanagi laughed before lighting a cigarette.
“Who is the strongest in here?”
“Well, Mikoto is too strong. He is totally on a different level from us.” Kusanagi explained as he smoked his cigarette. “That’s why we have her.” He nodded his head at me and I looked over and smiled at the boy to try and get him to like me a bit more, but he still treated me cruelly like Yata. “To keep him from burning down the city…”
“Leaving the King out, the strongest should be Kusanagi right?” Fujishima said.
“Aaah, that’s difficult to say.” Kusanagi said.
“And after him, the one who has the most outstanding ability is Yata.”
“Oh, what about him?” Eric asked. “That person beside Chihuahua?” He was referring to Tatara who was standing next to Yata, whom Eric liked to call Chihuahua.
“Ah, Totsuka doesn’t fight.” Fujishima said.
“Is that so?”
“He isn’t that type of guy. Although he’s not a fighter, how should I say…?” Kusanagi said. “Everything would be easier if he were there. Even our enemies would put down their guard around him.”
“He definitely isn’t the weakest though, Akane certainly holds that title.” Kusanagi said before taking another hit of his cigarette.
“Hey!” I jumped off of my stool and glared at him. “You’ll see, my powers will kick in soon and then I will be as strong as you, Kusanagi!” I exclaimed.
“I swear you have a nice face, but you have a temper like Yata.”
“What’s that supposed to mean!?” Yata and I both screamed at the same time.
A few days later and Eric was still hanging around. I certainly didn’t mind despite his rude actions towards me and neither did anyone else besides Yata. Kusanagi, Tatara, Kamamoto and I had spent the whole day cleaning the bar until it was spotless.
Kusanagi let out a sigh of relief, “Finished!” He smiled. “Thank you very much for everyone’s hard work! We’ve managed to clean a lot today. Just by sweeping the rooms once, everything seems different. We only have to do the room downstairs.”
“Ah do you mind if I take a break, I’m exhausted.” I said, slumped over, covered in sweat.
“Sure, Kamamoto will help.”
I thanked him and made my way upstairs towards the bedroom, when I heard an odd creaking sound from the other side of the hall. Usually Mikoto was asleep around now and Anna was asleep in my room so out of curiosity I walked over to Mikoto’s room, noticing that the door was strangely cracked open. I pushed it open and my eyes widened when I saw Eric standing over the sleeping King. Suddenly Mikoto’s eyes opened and a blazing fire erupted. I acted out of instinct, grabbed onto Eric, pushed him against the wall, and used myself as a shield. The fire raged against my back, though it didn’t hurt it was still rather hot.
When it all died down I pushed myself away from Eric and fell to my knees, holding onto the front of my shirt since the entire back was burned to ashes.
“…What?” Mikoto mumbled as he drowsily sat up.
“What was that sound just now?” Tatara yelled as he barged in the room to see me on the ground in such a state. “What happened?”
“Ah it’s nothing…” I said as I clutched onto the remaining of my shirt and glanced back at Mikoto who was staring at me as if he had just seen a horrible sight.
“I was… in a daze… are you…?”
“I’m fine… your fire can’t hurt me remember?” I smiled and looked back over at Eric. “Are you alright?” I asked him.
“If it wasn’t for you she wouldn’t…” Mikoto gritted his teeth and he started to glow red. “What do you want?” He growled.
“N-nothing.” Eric suddenly ran out of the room. I looked over at Mikoto and he sat there with his head down and his anger radiating around him in the form of flames. I pushed myself up, gripping onto the front of my shirt and held my hand out to him. He ignored my gesture and kept his eyes away from me.
“You can’t hurt me Mikoto… let me help.” I said as I gazed down at him. He glanced up at me and hesitantly took my hand, his flames ceased and I smiled.
“Did you… have another nightmare?” Tatara asked. Mikoto looked over at him and then shook his head.
‘Nightmare?’ I looked down at Mikoto and he glanced up at me through the corner of his eye. ‘I didn’t take Mikoto for the type to get nightmares.’
“Be careful with that guy.” The King said.
“Eh?” Tatara said.
“I felt… his murderous intent.”
My eyes widened in surprise. Although Eric was rude sometimes, he didn’t seem like the type that was able to kill anyone.
“I see…” Tatara said. “Well I guess I’ll keep an eye on him. Come on Akane, I’ll take you back to your room.”
“Ah… I’ll stay… you can’t see anything.” I said as I gripped tighter to the small piece of cloth that covered my breasts. Tatara raised an eyebrow and Mikoto looked over at me. “Its just… I have a feeling that I should stay a little longer… with what just happened…”
Mikoto let out a sigh and let go of my hand. I looked over and there he was, taking off his shirt. My eyes widened in shock and my cheeks started to burn. Tatara just laughed and quietly left the room as I stared down at Mikoto, shirtless. He held the piece of clothing out to me and I started to get nervous.
“Y-you don’t have to do that… I can go get a shirt from my room and come back or you know… walk 5 feet to your closet and grab something—“
“It’s too far.” He said. “I’m tired.”
“Oh um…okay…” I took the piece of clothing and turned around.
More than anything I hoped he wasn’t looking.
I turned back around and anxiously sat down on the couch.
“… You did it again…” He said.
“You got yourself into trouble even though I told you not to.”
“I was just trying to save that boy from being burnt to a crisp.” I tried to defend myself the best I could, but I suppose he was right. I let out a sigh and I forced myself to do something I told myself I would never do. “I’m sorry… King.”
‘God I can’t believe I just called him that.’
I looked over at him and he was completely turned away from me. I was instantly irritated, how could he look the other way when I had just sacrificed my pride?
I didn’t realize it at anytime then, but he was actually embarrassed.
“You don’t have to call me that…” He said. I cocked my head to the side in confusion and he laid down, his feet on my lap. “I’m going back to sleep.” He said.
“If you go to sleep dressed like that you’ll catch a cold.”
“I don’t get sick.”
I had planned on leaving when I knew he was asleep and calm, but somehow I ended up falling asleep as well; laying on his chest. I later found out that Tatara got a picture and from then on he often taunted me with it.
I remember dreaming of lying under the sun, and it was a blissful moment.
Later that night Eric tried to kill Tatara, but Fujishima successfully stopped him and convinced the stray boy to let them help him. Eric confessed his situation. He was like a dog to a gang that had a grudge against Mikoto.
Kusanagi had to wake the King and ask him what he wanted to do about the situation. Mikoto ended up leaving me asleep on the couch and went to deal with the group of thugs alone, beating them easily. He soon came back to deal with Eric and although the stray thought he was going to get a beating, he instead got the mark of Homra, and in a surprising way at that.
He then went back to his room and went right back to sleep in the exact same position he was in before he left.
I woke up the next morning completely frazzled and he pretended to be asleep the entire time I anxiously left his room, returned his shirt, and went back to my room to drown in the embarrassment.
I learned about Eric being apart of Homra immediately, but I didn’t know about Mikoto’s night until much later.
That morning I was wrapping up Fujishima’s injury. That guy really is something. He cut his hand pretty deep when protecting Tatara from Eric. I obviously scolded him for being so reckless.
“And next time tell me right away. I don’t care if it’s 3 in the morning. You can’t walk around with a wound like this untreated.”
“You looked… busy…” He said. I laid my hand on top of his bandages. “OW!” He exclaimed as he suddenly pulled his hand back. I didn’t understand what was the matter; I barely touched him. He looked back down at his hand and slowly took the bandages off.
“What are you doing?” He took off the last layer and there staring me in the face was a perfectly healthy hand. “What the—“
“You can heal people?” Fujishima said.
“Eh?” Tatara made his way over and examined Fujishima’s hand. I sat there in shock as his words rang in my head. I have the power to heal people? I have a real power?
“Well that’ll be quite helpful.” Kusanagi said. “These guys are always in and out of the hospital.”
“I…I…” I had no words. I was useful. I was finally more than just the useless strain with a useless power. I could heal people; I could do something.
I was someone.