Tea Leaves and Gold Pins


Match Six: Baku:

Kiku had a strange dream last night.

Blinding soft winds blew around his body. The man looked for any sign of familiarity to keep his mind stable in this endless dark maze. There was no ground or no ceiling of any kind above his head. Kiku felt to keep his balance due to the distortion around him. He reached out for anything solid to guide him along the path to get out of wherever he was. The muzzled shouting above his head made his ear twitch in discomfort.

"What is this prace?" he asked. Kiku started looking for an exit when he paused. Huh?, he thought. Who is carring me? Before he knew it, he found himself taking slow steps towards a tight, narrow space. His mind didn't have time to piece together where he was going. He didn't feel like he was in his own moving body.

By the time he got his mind back, Kiku suddenly just stopped. He literally wasn't walking anymore. The poor man looked around trying to put it all back together again.

What just happened?, he thought.

Kiku paused again when he felt someone watching him. The man turned his head slowly and discovered something that held his attention with a nervous puzzlement. A man about in his thirties sat inches away from him on the ground. His clothes looked soaked and nearly ruined. Kiku squinted for a better look at him.

"Herro?" he asked. "Herro?" The other man didn't respond. Kiku took slow steps towards him.

"Herro?" he asked again. "Are you okay?"

Yes, I am fine.

Kiku almost jumped back. "What the? Was that in my head?"

It's okay. I won't hurt you. Just come closer.

The Japanese man looked uncertain at that command. Who was this person speaking to him in his head?

I promise I won't hurt you. Just come closer.

Kiku dropped his shoulders in defeat. Like he had much of a choice. The man took slower steps closer to the other man who he assumed was talking to him in his head.

Are you doing it?

Kiku looked to the sitting man in front of him. "Uh… yes…"

Could you come closer?

"Closer?" Kiku asked.


"Okay…" the other man mumbled. He walked closer to the seated man.

That's good enough.

Kiku stood inches from the man and understood why he was asked to come closer. "Are… you blind?"


"Who are you?"

I can't remember my name.

Kiku looked even more lost. "Can't you tarku to me with your mouth?"

I am mute.

"Oh…" Kiku got a better looked at the man. His short black hair nearly hid his blank amber eyes. His white shirt looked to be missing some buttons. He had his arms above his head. Kiku tried to figure him out.

"Are you… Japanese?" he asked.

Yes, in fact, I am.

"I see. Uh… why am I here?"

What do you mean?

"Why me? Why do you carr out to me?"

No reason.

"No reason?"

I was just trying to reach out to somebody, anybody.

"What for?"

I don't know. I have been reaching out for day. Hoping that someone will find me. I am so glad that at least one person found me.

"Where are you? I mean, where is your body?"


Kiku's eyes widened. "That far away?"

That's right.

The Japanese man took all of this into his head for a quiet moment. What was this man from Ikkebukoro doing here, talking to him? Who was he? Kiku turned back to him.

"Are you…?" he began to ask.

No, I'm not dead.

"You're not?"


"Then, are you…"

Yes, I am still alive.

"Oh…" It started to make sense. Sort of…

Hey, could you get me that ladle over there? I would get it myself, but as you can see… The man tried to move his wrists to indicate that they were too chained up for him to move. His guest looked to the direction that the man was pointing to with his feet. A medium-sized bucket sat inches away from the captive man. A ladle sat over the open end. Kiku looked at the man for a moment.

"What's in it?" he asked.


"How do you know that?"

I willed it to be so.

"Wirred it?"

That's right. I got thirsty and wanted something to drink. So, I thought about something nice and cool. But…

"You didn't think about sitting there trapped and now you can't drink it?"

Exactly… The trapped man shifted a bit in his seated position. So please, help me out here. Kiku nodded.

"Oh, right…" he mumbled. Kiku walked to the bucket and ladle. He dripped the ladle into the water and drew out a good scoop. He put it to the trapped man's lips. He drank up in greed.

Thanks. I feel so much better.

Kiku nodded a bit. He reached into his gi and dug around. He paused as he remembered something.

"Oh," he mumbled.

Is there a problem?

"I can't find my cigarettes. I guess my wife must have taken them when she was taking my crothes back home."

Your wife?


How long have you been married?

"It'll be three years next month."

I see. What is she like?

Kiku gave her a nervous laugh. "Werr, she's…" Crazy? Loud? Scary? Nerve-ranking? "…different."

The trapped man nodded. But then, he froze and gasped in pain. Kiku looked on in panic. "What's wrong?"

The trapped man winced as the pain grew in his chest. They are coming to kill me!

"What are you tarking about? Who's coming to kirr you?"

They are coming to kill me! Run! Run from me!

"But go where?"


The poor standing man had no choice but to run away aimlessly.

Kiku awoke in the middle of the early morning hours. His back felt tiff as he trembled in sweat. He didn't understand that dream one bit. Who was that man? What did he want with me and who is trying to kill him? These questions kept running around in circles in his head.

His eyes moved from the ceiling to his bed. Sena lied asleep next to him. She didn't have her usual bandana on at the moment, revealing the top of her purple-tinted black hair in the dark to him. A strange sense of comfort filled the man. Sena, usually a yapping hell hound during the day, looked like a little kitten sleeping there at the moment. It was moment like this that made Kiku appreciate her a little more. In her vulnerability showed him that she was a human being too. He lightly patted her on the head.

Maybe I'rr buy her something nice when I get out, he thought. Despite the comfort he felt with seeing his wild wife sleeping by his side, he still couldn't shake the feeling that the man in his dreams was a warning of some sort that he had yet to piece together.

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