Chapter 10: A Godsend
April 3 / 17:36 [Gasai residence, my room]
Yuno Gasai spent that entire day in bed, staring at that diary entry on the cellphone she kept on her bedside table.
She didn't want to absent herself today, but she didn't have a choice. Her sleep the night before was troubled and fitful, plagued by nightmares. It was at dawn that she woke up in a cold sweat, barely even able to get out of bed due to the fever that had chosen to rear its ugly head. In a nutshell, April 3rd wasn't Yuno's day at all.
And now, just when she'd thought the day couldn't get any worse, she saw this.
Yuno knew perfectly well there was no reason for her to worry; after all, if anyone could take care of himself, it was her beloved Yukki. Indeed, he'd saved her life on that night, even if he hadn't been able to spare her parents as well. Their locking eyes in that one moment during the concert might have been love, but the feelings she harboured for him continued to run wild and had since transcended even that.
Yuno closed her eyes as she pictured him in her mind.
And most of all, his mysterious ability to tap into some kind of inner strength in times of crisis, almost to the point of becoming another person entirely.
I'll protect you…
And as she opened her eyes, Yuno came to her decision.
To: Yukiteru Amano
Date/Time: 04/03/24 16:17
Subject: [no subject]
Eden's Diary Function B [Assassin's Diary] has been unlocked.
As he sat in his seat in their now-abandoned classroom, staring at that message on his cellphone, Yukiteru Amano couldn't but feel a sense of amusement at the perfect timing of this particular development.
He reflected on his choice to stay behind, to keep the enemy busy while Minerva took his classmates out to an impromptu acquaintance dinner, keeping them safe in the process. To pass the time, he'd chosen to practice with his darts, like he usually did in the morning. After all, those poison darts of his would definitely be useful, but only if they managed to hit their target; to say that one dart could decide his fate wouldn't have been too far off the mark. He of all people would have known better than to engage a serial killer head-on, which was why he saw fit to bring some poison darts and smoke bombs – the only weapons he could hope to sneak into school – as a sort of insurance policy.
And then, all of a sudden, that message appeared on his Eden's Diary.
Even Yukiteru had to marvel at the volume of information that had suddenly been made available to him courtesy of his newly-unlocked Assassin's Diary. It was a lot like the Animus Database he referred to from time to time while reliving Ezio's memories, except that it also worked on targets he had yet to encounter. Needless to say, it was truly a godsend for his Future Diary to have gained another form, right when he needed it most.
Of course, Yukiteru knew perfectly well that his demise very much remained a possibility. It wasn't that he wasn't confident in his skills; on the contrary, thought Yukiteru, it was because he'd completely assimilated Ezio's skills and experience that he decided as he did. He had no doubt that Minerva, possibly even his classmates, would be inclined to help, but the way he saw it, he had the best chance of survival if his own skin was all he had to worry about.
More importantly, thought Yukiteru, he wanted to leave them out of it, innocent as they were likely to get very ugly here before the day was through, and he neither wanted nor needed his classmates getting caught up in this mess. It was, after all, part of their Creed. Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent.
Yukiteru stood up slowly as the front door to the empty classroom creaked open, but there was no hint whatsoever of fear or surprise on his face as he looked up to face his would-be vanquisher.
"Takao Hiyama, 28 years old," he regurgitated the information provided to him by his Assassin's Diary, in a voice quite unlike his own. "High school teacher by day, valued member of the Assassin Order by night."
"Masquerades as a serial killer, calling himself the Night Stalker as he dispatches his Templar victims with his machete. Overly cautious. Twitchy. Borderline paranoid. Wears full body armor at all times, even while operating under his cover job."
Yukiteru spoke the words as though they were his own, but to him it felt as if someone else were whispering them in his ear. The voice issuing from his mouth was still recognizable as that of his 14-year old self, but the manner in which he spoke was of a seasoned Mentor. Even Hiyama could sense something amiss as he froze in his tracks, a bead of sweat running down the gas mask he wore to conceal his identity.
"Our tenets are clear," Yukiteru declared, his tone one of deadly calm. "Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent. Hide in plain sight. Never compromise the Brotherhood. You, fratello mio, have broken all three, and now you must pay with your life."
"Requiescat in pace, traditore."
Having pronounced the death sentence, Yukiteru threw something to the floor, engulfing the whole room in thick, black smoke as he did so.
And by the time it cleared, he was nowhere to be found.
Hinata Hino was concerned.
The chain of events that had unfolded that day seemed suspect, to say the least. For one thing, it was evident to her that Yukiteru and their guidance counselor had some kind of relationship that went way beyond that between a student and his teacher. She, Hinata, had been spying on them earlier while they were talking in the hallway just outside their classroom, and the fact that they weren't conversing in Japanese wasn't lost on her.
And then, right after their last period, Minerva showed up in their classroom and announced a surprise acquaintance dinner for their whole class. Yukiteru hadn't been around for the announcement either, nor was he here with them in the Italian restaurant Minerva had picked out.
Something's wrong here...
Indeed, thought Hinata as she chowed down her spaghetti; given their obvious closeness, one would think that Minerva would have expressed greater concern with respect to Yukiteru's disappearance. But from the looks of things, it was as if she didn't even care... unless...
Hinata raised her hand.
"Yes?" Minerva asked, an easy smile on her face as she got up from her seat to go over to her student.
"Hinata Hino, was it? Is something the matter?"
"As a matter of fact, Miss Minerva, there is," Hinata replied evenly, her amber eyes locked onto Minerva's ruby-red orbs as she spoke. "How come Amano-kun isn't with us? The only other person who isn't here is Gasai, and she was absent all day."
"Yeah, I was wondering that too, Miss Minerva," added Mao beside her, having finished eating some time ago; there was something in the way her best friend kept glancing at her that caused Hinata's left eyebrow to twitch, and her cheeks to flush faintly pink. "Isn't he coming here? It just isn't the same when there's someone missing, you know."
"I'll have to agree with the girls, too," this from Aru Akise, a young boy with platinum hair and red eyes similar to Minerva's own. "Logically speaking, this acquaintance dinner would be most effective if all of us were here. Wouldn't you say, Miss Minerva?"
Minerva's face was impassive as she listened to each of them speak up. For better or worse, the children that had been put to her care were especially observant and precocious, which made it difficult if not impossible to pull the wool over their eyes. She still couldn't tell them that Yukiteru was in a duel to the death with some lunatic serial killer, but neither would she get away with telling them a boldfaced lie.
Luckily, it only took her a moment to come up with an answer.
"Yuki-kun had a prior engagement to attend to, that's all," she answered her students' queries with a careful smile on her face; it was the truth, after all, even if not the whole truth, and Yukiteru did wish to keep his classmates out of danger if at all possible.
"Try not to worry too much, alright?" she added, the smile never leaving her face as she looked at each of them in turn. "I'm sure he'll be here soon enough."
Even as she said this to her students, though, Minerva sent a message to Athena, informing her of Yukiteru's current situation. Given that her current role was to ensure the safety of these children, Minerva fervently prayed her twin would be able to come to the rescue of their beloved Yuki-kun. Otherwise...
I don't even want to think about it.
As she went about her usual chores at home, Athena cursed herself for her current inability to aid their dear little brother.
It wasn't that she didn't want to help out, but she didn't have a choice. With Piero dead, Minerva out and Yukiteru otherwise occupied, she, Athena, was the only one left to stand guard over the Auditore house. Sure, they had security systems installed, but they'd also learned the hard way that those weren't foolproof. The thing was, their home also doubled as a hideaway for some of their Order's most important secrets, which if stolen would be likely to have devastating consequences not only for their family, but for the Assassin Order as a whole.
Just then, though, an idea struck her. She, Athena, might not be able to assist Yukiteru, but she knew someone else who could.
"Hello, Sakurami Police Department. How may I help you?"
"Good afternoon," greeted Athena, even as she went over every corner of their dining room with a vacuum cleaner.
"I'd like to report a sighting of the serial killer in Sakurami High School..."
Athena just hoped Yukiteru managed to hang in there, at least until the police arrived.
Unbeknownst to either Yukiteru Amano or Takao Hiyama, a third, black-clad figure prowled the halls of Sakurami High School that moment, his face concealed by an oni mask as well as a yellow scarf.
He sure doesn't waste any time, does he?
He'd only been on the mission for a little over two days, and already Shouichi Ogami received a golden opportunity to strike. For some reason or another, Takao Hiyama saw fit to hunt one of his own students, who he now began to stalk all over the campus. Still more interesting was the fact that the student in question turned out to be more than just an ordinary high school student, if that smoke bomb he set off back there was any indication. However wimpy or otherwise defenseless he may have looked, the kid clearly wasn't what he seemed.
On the other hand, he was still just a child, going up against a grown man who made a twisted hobby out of committing murder. Whatever skills and weapons he possessed, Shouichi highly doubted that the kid would have been able to turn the tables on Hiyama. On the contrary, if he got too cocky, there was a chance he wouldn't even live long enough to get drunk for the first time, or to lose his virginity.
Guess I ought to lend a hand, huh, milady?
There was no question about it, really, thought Shouichi as he hid in a broom closet just as Hiyama passed by. Lady Tsubaki would definitely have wanted him to assist the boy, and for that matter, Shouichi himself felt he ought to level the playing field a little. Kusaka had ordered him to kill Hiyama, after all; at no point had it been specified that he, Shouichi, was to do so alone.
Besides, thought Shouichi as he removed his mask for a moment, abandoning a child to his fate really isn't my style.
And after a deep breath, he put his mask back on.
The sooner he put this lunatic under, the sooner he'd get to return to the shrine and give that eunuch Kusaka what was coming to him.
A/N: My thanks to all who've read and supported this fic so far. I guarantee y'all won't be disappointed if you stick around.
That being said, might I make requests/invitations for reviews? C'mon guys, don't be shy - it won't but take a moment, and I'm really interested as to what y'all think of the story so far.