Tea Leaves and Silver Rings

Wedding

Match Nineteen: Wedding:

Prologue: Woman in Red’s Song

She floats in her emptiness.

“I can hear my heart in the gate. I cannot reach it, but the horseman can. I cannot open the gate, but the horseman can. Today, my heart will be reunited with me. When it does, I will have my powers back. Right now, the gate hasn’t been found yet. That is going to change. Two women that work for the man who is trying to free will find that gate. They cannot open it. But, they will have a little help in the night.”

She lays back in her emptiness.

“As soon as that little caged bird is wed, my heart will return to me.” Her quiet laughter floated in the vacant space.

Chapter One: Bride in Mourning

-7:00 a.m.-

Lin Yi stood in front of that full-length red oak mirror in her wedding dress made of old white lace with sore, puffy eyes. She didn’t have the strength to cry or feel anymore. Plus, there stood the possibility of being used like a sex slave from the wedding night onwards.

She came back to reality when she heard a knock on her bedroom door.

“Lin Yi!” Katyusha said. “It’s time to go.” She opened the door and walked the bride out of her bedroom for the wedding in the church downtown. Her soon-to-be sister-in-law clapped her hands.

“You look so beautiful!” she said as her boobs bounced in her light pink dress. Lin Yi forced herself to smile. Katyusha patted her on the head.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll keep Natalia away from you today.” That bit of good news didn’t reach her. The Ukrainian woman looked into the bride’s room and noticed the clock on the wall.

“Oh no!” she said. “We’re going to be late! Come on, we have to get going.” Katyusha had to take the bride by the arm and drag her along. Lin Yi didn’t make eye contact with her soon-to-be sister-in-law or the driver during the ride to the church. It felt like her soul had let her body. Ivan picked out this date for the wedding. In her mind, it felt like a joke to Lin Yi. She drew her eyes closed in a hopeless attempt to feel something again. Katyusha gently took hold of the bride’s hand. Her younger soon-to-be sister-in-law didn’t move.

At 8:25 a.m., the car pulled up to the church. Elizabeta flagged them down as the car pulled up into the parking lot. Inside the car, Katyusha shook Lin Yi awake.

“Come on,” she whispered. “We have to go. It’s time.” The bride slowly opened her eyes. The Ukrainian woman frowned.

“Your hair’s a mess,” she complained. “Oh, we’ll have to redo your make-up again.” Lin Yi didn’t have a chance to get her head together as the busty woman pulled her out of the car. With the help of Elizabeta, the women helped the bride into the back of the church.

Chapter Two: Director’s Cut

-February 13th, Midnight-

Aoba’s phone buzzed beside his bed. He picked it up and looked at the screen. Oh great, another e-mail. However, the subject line caught his attention.

“Blue Squares’ Suicides: Director’s Cut?” he asked. Right off, he had hoped for something like this to fall into his lap. The boy gritted his teeth. Show me your face, you bastard! I won’t let you get away with this! Aoba opened the message. Instead of a link, he got six video attachments. Against his better judgement, the surviving member of the Blue Squares opened each one. He ended up re-watching his fledglings’ suicides again, only this time there was a little bit on new footage at the end.

A young woman dressed up as a gothic lolita had the camera pointed at her as she stood over or near the bodies. She grinned and flashed two V-signs before the videos ended. Seeing her face made Aoba grit his teeth. It was her! She did this! She killed my men!

Suddenly, his phone buzzed with a new text message. The sender’s name was none other than Lady Death. In Aoba’s mind, this had to be the same user that made those videos and spread the suicide rumors. Now she wanted to talk to him too? The boy opened the message.

“Meet me at your hideout,” it read. Something told Aoba that this had to be a trap, but he wanted to see if he was right about the girl in videos and Lady Death being the same person. The lone shark boy stuffed his phone into his back and headed out of the apartment.


Lady Death closed her phone, smirking. “Here, little sharky-sharky! Be a good little shark and come to mama!” She lay on the ground, laughing.

Chapter Three: Backstage

The show will start at ten in the morning. The monsters wait outside in anticipation. Jasdevi looked outside at the horny animal trying to get a peek inside. Because of paradise, they had all the power. Devit turned to his younger brother.

“Go get the girls ready,” he said.

“Right,” Jasdero said. He dashed back towards the club. The younger twin walked up the stairs and curved to the back of the stage. Most of the angels looked subdued from the jasmine perfume. Marion gave him a cold glare as she held Alma close enough for her to heal her heart beating. Jasdero looked like a creepy jack-in-the-box when he grinned.

“Hello, ladies,” he said. “How are you this morning?” The monster didn’t even wait for an answer. Instead, he his attention went over to two newer angels in the back. Ophelia’s face was done up like her days as a prostitute when she was human. She looked like she was going to throw up as she only had on a collar around her neck. Beside her sat Allen with a collar and leash around his neck. He wasn’t sure exactly why he was here. Jasdero had his eyes locked on Allen.

“This is going to be an interesting show,” he muttered to himself. He looked over at the clock on the back wall. By now, Devit should be unlocking the doors.

Five… Four… Three… Two…

Outside at the front doors, Devit unlocked the doors and backed away as the monsters all flooded the auditorium.

Chapter Four: Bridal Party

The women of the bridal party had two jobs to do: tend to the bride and keep Natalia away from the bride.

Vietnam and Laura guarded the door. Seychelles and Katyusha all touched-up the bride in the dressing room. So far, there was no sign of Natalia anywhere. That could both be a good thing and a bad thing. Everyone kept their eyes out. Katyusha drew back her make-up brush.

“Perfect,” she said. “You look so much better.” Seychelles adjusted the white flowers in the bride’s hair. They didn’t dare to leave her side.


Meanwhile, Ivan and his party already arrived at the church. The groom wore a nice gray suite with a black bowtie. Toris, Eduard, and Raivis were forced to be his groomsmen. Ivan looked at his pocket watch. He didn’t really pay any attention to the guests as they walked in and took their seats. To be honest, the groom didn’t expect all of this to go through like it had. Yao tried to stay out of sight ever since he dropped off Lin Yi and Wang Ja at the Russian man’s house. From what Ivan knew, the Asian siblings weren’t speaking to each other since the agreement came to light. Would they even come to the wedding?

Behind Ivan, the minister straightened up his robes. “Do you need me to go over everything one more time, sir?” The groom waved him off. The middle-aged minister puffed up his cheeks and breathed out.

“Okay then,” he said. Even some of the guests could sense the thick uneasy tense in the church.


Meanwhile, Wang Ja was in the kitchen with the catering staff. The young man may have looked fancy and dressed up in his uniform, but inside was ugly. He glared as he chopped up vegetables. The butler was plotting on a way to void the marriage and contract. With each chop, the details began to fit together in his head. The only element he was missing the timing. If he could slip out of the kitchen and get to his little sister unnoticed…

“Wang Ja!” the head chef yelled. “I need you over here!” The Hong Kong turned with a big, fake smile on his face.

“Yes sir,” he said. For now, Wang Ja would smile and act cheerful.

The wedding began at noon.

Chapter Five: Tiresias

Around the same time Aoba got the e-mail and text, a woman wandered through the empty streets of Ikebukuro. She had to use a silver-white cane to guide herself around. Her thin black sunglasses hid her eyes. This woman was in search of something tonight.

“Not here,” she said to herself. “Not here. Not here.” The woman frowned as froze in her tracks. She didn’t have much time before the Woman in Red got her heart back. On top of that, she had something more pressing breathing down her next. The woman placed her hand to her chest and tried to feel around for a pulse in the city.

Suddenly, she jerked her head upwards. “Who’s there?” Footsteps dragged over to where she stood. Her nose curled at the scent of heavy sake filling her space.

“Hey, honey!” a man slurred out. “You look lonely. Want some company?” The woman frowned as she tried to move away from towards the building she stood next to.

“No thank you,” she said blindly. She tried to walk away, but the man grabbed her by her free arm.

“Bitch, I’m not done talking to you!” he shouted.

“I don’t have time. I’m in a hurry. If I don’t move now, this city will burn.”

“Huh? Are you crazy, lady?”

“I’m serious. You and everyone else in Ikebukuro will die if she is set free.”

“What the hell are you talking about? And what’s with those shades?”

The woman froze as his hand grabbed onto her sunglasses. “No! Don’t do that!” The drunken man took off her sunglasses. When he saw her eyes, he dropped them on the pavement.

“What… What the hell are you?!”

The woman sighed. “I tried to warn you, sir.” The man turned around and ran away, screaming. When she was alone, she used her foot to find her sunglasses. Her cane was used as support as she bent down to pick them up. Because of that encounter, Tandeki and the Woman in Red may have gotten a lead on their plans. After she put her shades back on her eyes, she placed her hand to her chest and listened in for a pulse. A jolt shot through her body.

“There!” she shouted. The woman held up her free hand in the air and vanished in a flash.

Chapter Six: Saving Saki

-Thirteen Hours into the Experiment-

“This apartment isn’t big enough for eight people,” Mikado said as he looked in the darkness at the six girls all asleep on the floor. (He resisted saying, “nine”. Half of the room couldn’t see Taiyou anyway. Then again, Mikado wasn’t sure if he could label that glaring man a “person” just yet.) Masaomi rested his head on his best friend’s shoulder.

“It’s fine,” he said. “I never thought that we would be surrounded by cute girls just before Valentine’s Day. It’s like a dream.” Mikado had his eyes on the two newer younger girls that joined him hours earlier.

-Five Hours and Thirty-Two Minutes into the Experiments-

Outside of his apartment, Mikado happened to look up and see two girls about Emily’s age staring at him from across the street.

How long have they been there? Are they… like me? The boy covered up his right eye. The girl on the left with dark brown hair tugged on the coat sleeves of the girl on the right and pointed towards him. Mikado about fell back in the snow.

They are like me! The founder of the Dollars leapt to his feet and dashed across to those girls with the unease looks on their faces. Despite that, they didn’t run away.

“Hey!” Mikado shouted. He caught up to the girls and stopped for a breather. When he stood up, he got a better look at them. The dark-haired girl stared at him with big amber eyes. She held her bright pink coat to her body. A brown scarf made her neck disappear. The other girl had reddish-orange hair to her shoulders. Her coat was brown and she wore little yellow clips in her bangs.

“What?” the girl with the reddish-orange hair asked. Mikado struggled in his head to find the words at first.

“Have you two been following me?” he asked.

“What?” the orange-haired girl asked again. Her dark-haired friend lowered her eyes.

“Yes,” she said in a quiet voice.

“But why?” Mikado asked. The girls looked at each nervous.

“Well…” the dark-haired one began to say.

“We saw you suffering with your eye patch on!” her friend shouted. Mikado rubbed on his left ear.

“Gah! You don’t have to yell,” he said.

“What?” reddish-orange hair asked. Her friend bowed her head.

“You’ll have to excuse her,” she said. “She can’t hear at all and she’s still trying to read lips to understand what people are saying.”

“So you’re…” Mikado began to ask.

“Yes,” both girls said. The boy wasn’t ready to relax just yet.

“Did you get a call or a text this morning?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“What numbers did you get?

The deaf girl pulled out her phone and showed him the text that Kitano sent her. Mikado read the message on the screen.

“Two?” he asked. The founder of the Dollars turned his attention to the other girl. “What about you?”

“Six,” she replied. The three newly-acquainted tadpoles stared at each, daring the other to make the next step. Could they trust each other? So far, Mikado met one tadpole that he could turn into his ally. It wouldn’t hurt to have two more.

“I’m Ryugamine Mikado,” the older boy spoke up. “What are your names?”

“Kimio Kohaku,” the hearing girl said. “This is Shono Nami.” The deaf girl waved at their potential new ally.

-Now-

Nami and Kohaku looked like little dolls leaned up against each other sound asleep. Masaomi nudged Mikado in the side.

“You managed to get three girls over to your place,” he said. His friend found himself rather put off by his cheeky tone.

“It’s not like that,” Mikado said. He couldn’t bring himself to explain the whole situation to Masaomi. These tadpole girls were just starting to trust his friends. The first trip out while using his powers overwhelmed him. Explaining to Masaomi and the normal girls what his powers were would just be…

“How is Mikajima-san doing?” Mikado asked out of the blue. Masaomi looked at him with a blank stare.

“She’s doing fine,” he said in a low voice. Mikado took hold of his hand.

“We will do everything to keep her safe,” he said.

“What are you talking about?”

“I saw your pain.”

“Mikado, I don’t understand you.”

“I know you are scared that she’s going to die. Don’t worry, we won’t let that happen.”

Masaomi drew back his hands. “You’re creeping me out.” The Yellow Scarves leader hadn’t told anyone about Saki. He had been calling his girlfriend every day to see if she was still alive. Masaomi used his jokes and flirting with other girls to hide his fears.

“She’s going to die tomorrow, isn’t she?” Mikado asked. “You’ve had the date circled in your phone. You’re starting to remember her dying, aren’t you?”

“How do you-?” Masaomi asked, trembling. The other boy turned and looked him in the eye.

“Do you promise not to freak out if I tell?” he asked.

“Mikado, what are you-?”

“Do you promise not to freak out if I tell? Answer me. I have to know before we go any further with this.”

His friend closed his mouth and lowered his eyes. “Alright.”

“Good.” Mikado closed his eyes. “I will tell you everything after we save Saki tomorrow.” The tadpole boy lay on his floor and went to sleep. Masaomi was left sitting there staring at his best friend with a sense of dread.

Chapter Seven: The Stud

At ten a.m., the thick purple curtains went up.

The monsters howled and shouted like wild animals. Road sat near the stage, frowning. She sat back and frowned her arms across her chest. This better work, she thought. Jasdevi causally walked on stage.

“Welcome, welcome, welcome!” they said. “Thank you so much for joining our Fifteenth Annual Floor Show! We have a treat for you today! Here are the lovely ladies!” They moved aside as the heavy, pounding sexy music started to play. The naked and half-naked angels were paraded out on stage. Marion sneered as the monsters’ howling and shouts grew louder. She grabbed Alma by the hand.

“Stay by me, okay?” she whispered. The tan-skinned angel nodded as she whimpered. The angels were turned to face their perverted audience. The monsters’ faces were obscured by the bright hot lights. Jasdevi counted down the beat as the last female angel came onto the stage. The twins walked in front of them.

“Take a look at all of the lovely ladies,” they said. “I bet you want to do nasty things to them right away. We will get to that really soon. But first, we have a special treat for you this year. Meet our stud will be out for a test ride of one of our lucky ladies!” The crowd of hot-blooded males sat confused as the twins and angels moved aside. Road perked up when the music changed.

Allen was dragged out to centerstage by his low silver leash. It didn’t take him long to figure what Road and Jasdevi were planning for in this disgusting floor show.

Chapter Eight: Aoba VS. Kaori

Kaori was about to doze off when she heard footsteps. She opened one eye to see a blue-haired boy standing over her.

“You Lady Death?” Aoba asked.

“Depends on who’s asking,” the young woman in black replied.

“Did you make those videos of my guys killing themselves?” he asked. Kaori smiled and opened her eyes. She leapt up to her feet as quick as a ninja.

“Oh good, you got my messages, Aoba-kun,” she said.

“Wait, how do you know my name?”

“We’ve met before.”

“No we haven’t.”

“Yes we have, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, you have questions for me. Go ahead, ask away.” Something about her perky tone and smile sent shivers down Aoba’s face. She may have been right about them meeting before. However, he shook that from his head

“Did you kill my gang?” he asked.

“Yes,” Kaori replied without missing a beat. Aoba about stumbled backwards. She answered just like that. Part of him expected her to jerk him around before he showed her the evidence on his phone.

“Why?” he asked. Kaori flipped back her ponytail.

“You’re in the way,” she said.

“What?”

“You see, boss man wants Chirin-tan all to himself for his game. You insects are annoying to him. Mama sent on a shark-hunt because of it.” Kaori giggled as she twirled around with her parasol.

“They were so easy to pick off one by one. Sadly, one of boss-man’s pets got loose and ate one of them on Christmas.” She made a cute little pouting face before smiling again.

“But, it also took attention off of me so that I could do my work. The one with glasses was my first. He folded under my spell with one little kiss. That’s right, I killed them all with one kiss.” Kaori looked and saw Aoba staring at her with big eyes.

“Aw, why do you look so scared?” she asked. “I’m only getting started with the story. Or do you want me to stop?”

“No,” the young gangster said.

“Very well,” Kaori said. “Where was I? Oh yes, my kiss was enough to get inside their minds and kill them. The one with glasses thought I was cute before I kissed him. I decided rather than you hearing about it on the news first, I would post each of their deaths on Deathvine.” She chuckled.

“The creators should be thanking me for making their site so popular in these past few months. Anyway, I wanted to rouse the living fear in you and your little friends. So, I whipped out my camera and made them stars in their own snuff films.” Kaori pulled out her black mini-camcorder and turned it on.

“The one with glasses went first. Then the blonde spikey-haired guy. Next of my targets was the one with hair over his eye.” For a second, Aoba could’ve sworn that Kaori looked rather agitated in her smile before turning back to being cheerful.

“Ah yes, him. That one didn’t start out as I had planned. When I went to kiss him, he smacked me away and put up quite a resistance. He scratched my face because of it.” She took her finger and traced a line under her right eye. “I had to really punish him for that.”

“That’s why you had him writing all of those words on the bathroom wall,” Aoba said.

“Pi-pon-Pi-pon!” Kaori said. “To wrap this little story up, I took out the twins next. I hadn’t expected to use up my special lipstick for my kisses that night, but it was worth it. I saved the little kitty one for last, of course. And now here we are.”

“Oh what, are you going to kill me too?” Aoba asked.

“Nah,” she said. The blue-haired boy stared at her confused.

“Why? Would I be your trophy-kill? You kill me and the Blue Squares are finished.”

“Yeah, but mama made me promise to let that nurse lady have her fun with you.”

“Nurse lady… Wait, you don’t mean…?”

“Pi-pon-Pi-pon!”

Aoba began to get rather confused and annoyed. “So why did you call me out here?”

“To cut your ties with Chirin-tan.”

“Who the hell is Chirin?”

“That doesn’t matter.” Kaori broke into a smirk. “If you thought what I did to your little friends was awful, think of what I can do to the Orihara twins!”

Something in Aoba’s mind snapped. “You better not.”

“Wouldn’t it be divine. I can see it now. A beautiful double-suicide for all of Deathvine and Ikebukuro to see!”

The blue-haired boy ran over and grabbed Kaori by the throat. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” The young woman in black smirked and pushed him off. She took off running outside.

“Come back here!” Aoba shouted before running after her. Kaori did her best not to giggle when she saw three thugs walking by. Not her first choice for this plan, but they looked strong enough.

“Help!” she screamed, waving her arms up and down. “He’s after me! He’s trying to kill me!” The three men in the twenties stopped as Kaori ran towards them. She hid behind one of them as Aoba got closer.

“He’s gone crazy!” she whimpered. “He’s trying to kill me.” Kaori slipped a quick kiss on the man’s neck. His eyes glowed black as she got the other two on the hands. Aoba froze as the three men walked zombie-like towards him.

“So you like killing chicks, huh?” the main guy asked. Aoba stared at him.

“What are you talking about?” he asked. Kaori stood back as the beat down took place.

Chapter Nine: Tokyo Hands Gate Opens to Slavery and Vows

-Valentine’s Day, 3:00 a.m.-

-Ikebukuro-

Yui and Yuzuru stood in front of the Tokyo Hands building. Yui turned to her temporary partner.

“You sure this is the first gate?” she asked.

“Yes,” Yuzuru said, pushing her glasses up on her nose. “The other parties said that their crystals didn’t react to the potential gates. So, it has to be this one.” She pulled out a small light blue crystal on a black string and held out to the doors. The charm floated and glowed a soft, hazy glow.

“Bingo!” Yui said. She looked at her partner. “Now what?”

“We need a horseman to unlock it,” Yuzuru replied.

“And where do we get that?” the other intern asked.

“Need some help?” a third female voice asked. The interns looked up to see a familiar face.

“Oh,” Yuzuru said.

“Hi there,” Yui said. “When did you get in town?”

“Just now,” the girl’s voice answered. “Is this the gate?”

“Uh-huh,” Yui said, swishing her long brown ponytail.

“Allow me,” the third female said. She stepped forward and pressed her hand against the glass doors. A giant red hole opened and a loud white noise filled the air. The interns took steps back as the noise grew louder. A giant light swallowed the whole city. Everything became silent for ten seconds before the light disappeared. Yui turned to her temporary partner.

“Now what?” she asked. The black-haired intern put her arms behind her head.

“We wait,” she said.

-Valentine’s Day, 10:45 a.m.-

-Fallen City-

Road whistled at Allen as he stood in only leather pants and his leash and collar. Fantasies danced in her head as Jasdevi took the microphone again.

“This year, the stud will fuck one of these lovely ladies right here on stage!” they announced. Allen, Marion, Alma, and Ophelia looked up with such a jolt. The other monsters sat in confused silence.

“Come on,” Jasdevi said. “This will be fun! In fact, we will pick the first girl.” The twins turned to the lovely angels standing behind them. Their eyes scanned through the crowd. Ophelia bit her lower lip as she stepped back. Unfortunately, the Jasdevi spotted her with her big red feathers in her hair.

“Yes!” they shouted. “You will do just perfectly!” Devit grabbed Ophelia by the arm and threw her face down onto the stage. Jasdero grabbed Allen by the leash and pulled him over to the other angel.

“Now, do it!” the twins shouted. “Fuck this lovely angel so hard that she’s sore!” Allen was about to say no when Aizen bit down in his brain stem. His pupils dilated as he began to breathe heavily. Ophelia looked up like a cornered animal.

“No…” she said in a soft voice. Devit pushed his head forward.

-Valentine’s Day, noon-

Elizabeta and Katsuya had to walk Lin Yi down the aisle. The bride looked like she would throw up as the guests rose to their feet. Ivan broke into a polite smile as the young girl walked closer. Lin Yi stood next to her soon-to-be husband.

“You look beautiful,” he whispered in her ear. The priest cleared his throat.

“Dearly beloved,” he said. “We are gathered here today to witness the union between Lin Yi Ling and Ivan Braginski.” The bride lowered her eyes as the ceremony kicked off. Her head felt like it was floating away. Ivan slipped a gold ringer onto Lin Yi’s finger. She did the same for him. Her hands looked so little compared to his. Ivan did his best to say his vows in her native Chinese. The guests could barely hear Lin Yi as she spoke her vows to her groom.

“Do you, Ivan Braginski, take Lin Yi Ling to be your lawfully-wed wife to love and honor in sickness and health, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.”

“I do,” the Russian man said.

“Do you, Lin Yi Ling, take Ivan Braginski to be your lawfully-wed husband to love and honor in sickness and health, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.”

“I do,” the Taiwanese woman said in a small voice. The priest closed his bible.

“I now pronounce you man and wife,” he said. “You may now kiss the bride.” Ivan gave new bride a quick kiss on the lips.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the priest said. “I present to you the new Mr. and Mrs. Braginski.” Ivan clutched Lin Yi’s hand tightly, but even that couldn’t bring her out of her growing misery spell.

Chapter Ten: Wedding Reception

The reception was held at five o’clock. Through the wedding photos, Lin Ying looked hollow. Her make-up and lace couldn’t hide that she now fully belonged to Ivan. They still had one more step to make it complete. For now, they had the party to celebrate.

Wang Ja watched his sister from the other side of the room. She wasn’t crying for now, but the light that she had in her soul was almost snuffed out. The bride barely looked up from her plate. Wang Ja clenched his fists at his side. Don’t worry, little sister. I will get us out of this and then we will run somewhere far, far away where they can’t touch us. Hang in there.

Natalia glared at her rival from her table as well. For years, she tried to get Ivan’s love and affection. Now, this little whore came along and stole her precious brother. Natalia bent her spoon in half. Nobody steals her brother and gets away with it. Lin Yi would have to go! The Belarusian woman’s nostrils flared as she began plotting murder again. She glared to her right when a hand rested on her shoulder. Laura shook her head.

“Let it go, Natalia,” she whispered. “It’s not worth it.” Natalia flipped her off before making the toast to the “happy” couple. The party would go on until about ten o’clock at night. In the middle of all of this, there was still one more person feeling the effects of this union between Russia and Taiwan.

In the back, Kiku held his hand to his chest and took in slow breaths. Ever since this morning, he heard this soft thumping in his head. It grew louder and made his head hurt as the day wore on. It reached its peak when Ivan and Lin Yi signed the marriage certificate. Now, it didn’t level off. In fact, it grew worse. Only Kiku knew what this all met. Sena poked him in the arm.

“Dear?” she asked. “Dear? What’s the matter?” The Japanese man shook his head.

“It’s nothing,” he lied. Kiku got up and walked outside. The sky looked thick and black tonight. Weather forecasts had been calling for rain this weekend. But, Kiku was worried about another storm heading for the countries. This wedding showed him that this was part of her plan to get her heart back.

Now, that dreaded Woman in Red had all of her powers back. It wouldn’t be long before she was free and roaming the living world bringing it to its ruin.

For now, Ivan and his new bride would eat, drink, and party the night away.

Chapter Nine: Tokyo Hands Gate Opens to Slavery and Vows

Chapter Ten: Wedding Reception

The excitement settle into the dust.

The reception was held at five o’clock. Through the wedding photos, Lin Ying looked hollow. Her make-up and lace couldn’t hide that she now fully belonged to Ivan. They still had one more step to make it complete. For now, they had the party to celebrate.

Wang Ja watched his sister from the other side of the room. She wasn’t crying for now, but the light that she had in her soul was almost snuffed out. The bride barely looked up from her plate. Wang Ja clenched his fists at his side. Don’t worry, little sister. I will get us out of this and then we will run somewhere far, far away where they can’t touch us. Hang in there.

Natalia glared at her rival from her table as well. For years, she tried to get Ivan’s love and affection. Now, this little whore came along and stole her precious brother. Natalia bent her spoon in half. Nobody steals her brother and gets away with it. Lin Yi would have to go! The Belarusian woman’s nostrils flared as she began plotting murder again. She glared to her right when a hand rested on her shoulder. Laura shook her head.

“Let it go, Natalia,” she whispered. “It’s not worth it.” Natalia flipped her off before making the toast to the “happy” couple. The party would go on until about ten o’clock at night. In the middle of all of this, there was still one more person feeling the effects of this union between Russia and Taiwan.

In the back, Kiku held his hand to his chest and took in slow breaths. Ever since this morning, he heard this soft thumping in his head. It grew louder and made his head hurt as the day wore on. It reached its peak when Ivan and Lin Yi signed the marriage certificate. Now, it didn’t level off. In fact, it grew worse. Only Kiku knew what this all met. Sena poked him in the arm.

“Dear?” she asked. “Dear? What’s the matter?” The Japanese man shook his head.

“It’s nothing,” he lied. Kiku got up and walked outside. The sky looked thick and black tonight. Weather forecasts had been calling for rain this weekend. But, Kiku was worried about another storm heading for the countries. This wedding showed him that this was part of her plan to get her heart back.

Now, that dreaded Woman in Red had all of her powers back. It wouldn’t be long before she was free and roaming the living world bringing it to its ruin.

For now, Ivan and his new bride would eat, drink, and party the night away.

Chapter Eleven: Worry

-February 15th, 3:00 a.m.-

Mari awoke in a bed, staring at the ceiling in a daze.

“I have to get home,” she muttered. “I have to get home because I have to work. I probably won’t get time to make my lunch. Maybe I could buy something from the cafeteria. Yeah, I could buy something from the cafeteria. If I left now, I probably could make it back in time. Nobody should be out at this time of morning, right? I could just leave here and walk home. My place shouldn’t be too far from here, right? I could use make-up to cover up the hickeys on my neck. I just have to get home now.”

“What are you talking?” Izaya asked next to her. Mari shook her head.

“Just…” she said.

“What?” he asked. She already knew that the gate’s been opened and the rest of round two had been set into motion. Maybe she would still have time to push Izaya away. The information broker went back to sleep with his arm over her body. She tried to push him.

“I have to get home,” she said to herself. “I have to get home.”

Chapter Twelve: Final Cut

Etsuko stood in the supply closet of Raira Medical University Hospital.

“Souls go to the Underworld after death,” she said. “There are five rivers in the Underworld. The Styx leads souls to the Underworld itself. The Acheron is known as the River of Woe. The Phlegethon is the river of five. The Cocytus is the River of Wailing. Finally, there is the Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. Those who drink from the Lethe experience complete forgetfulness.”

-Valentine’s Day, 5:15 p.m.-

Mikado had heard about Aoba getting attacked in the early morning hours. A prostitute and her john found the boy lying half-beaten on the ground. She called the ambulance and Aoba ended up in Raira Medical University Hospital.

For most of the school, Mikado couldn’t help but feel a sense of guilt of what happened to his kouhai. However, another thought crossed his mind. This led him to march over to the nurse’s office and pound on the door. Junko opened up and noticed the boy coldly eyeing her.

“Yes?” she asked.

“Is this what you meant by Kuronuma not having long to live?” he asked. “What did you do to him?” At first, the nurse looked confused.

“What?” she asked.

“Don’t play dumb with me,” Mikado said in a quiet voice. “You did something to him. You can’t tell me that you don’t know that he was beaten so bad that he ended up in the hospital.” It took the nurse a few seconds to catch on.

“Oh!” she said. “I heard about that on the news this morning.”

“Did you have something to do with it? Did you?”

Junko batted her long eyelashes at him. “Me personally, no. Let’s just say that he had a little brush with death. Oh and it’s would be pointless to go and see him.”

“And why is that?”

Junko gave him an innocent shrug. “It just is.” Mikado turned around and headed back to class.

After school, Mikado stopped by the hospital. Aoba was going to be fine. He was most likely to get out the next morning. The founder of the Dollars was relied, but had no idea how long this feeling would last. He stopped at the flower shop on the way to the hospital. Mikado made it to Room 119 and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” a groggy voice grumbled. Mikado pushed open the door and slowly walked inside. Aoba sat up in bed all bandaged up and bruised. Mikado tried to shake Junko’s voice from his head.

“Are you okay, Aoba?” he asked. “I am so sorry for this. I can’t help but feel that this is all my fault.” The younger boy stared tilted his head, blinking.

“I’m sorry, but who you are?” he asked. Mikado’s eyes grew wide.

“What?” he asked.

“Do I know you from somewhere?” Aoba asked. “How do you even know my name?”

“Aoba, it’s me, Ryugamine Mikado. You asked me to become the leader of the Blue Squares. We even made a contract about it.”

“What are you talking about?” the younger boy asked. “Are you stalking me or something?” The flowers hit the floor.

-Hours Earlier-

Etsuko snuck into Aoba’s room as he slept. She stood over the injured boy as she reached into her coat pocket and pulled out syringe of bright yellow liquid.

“The Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. Those who drink from the Lethe experience complete forgetfulness,” she said in a low voice. Her fingers felt along Aoba’s arm until she found a vein. She cleaned the skin and injected the boy with the bright yellow liquid. The doctor put the empty syringe in her pocket.

“Kuronuma Aoba has taken a drink from the Lethe,” she said. “And with that, Chirin’s final tie to the Blue Squares has been cut.” For safe measure, the doctor found Aoba’s phone and deleted any evidence that he met with Kaori in earlier that morning and any trace of Mikado through his number and text messages. After that, Etsuko turned and walked back to doing her rounds.


-745: p.m.-

Masaomi pulled out his cell phone and dialed up Saki.

“Hi, it’s me,” her voice mail said. “Let a message and I’ll call you back when I can.” Masaomi’s stomach turned after the beep.

“Saki-chan,” he said. “Hey, it’s me. Listen, please don’t go anywhere tonight. Don’t answer the door. Keep the windows locked. Don’t answer the phone unless it is me. Please don’t ask what’s going on, just do it. I will call you in the morning. I love you, goodbye.” Masaomi hung up, looking so pale. He hoped that his words had reached her in time.

Chapter Thirteen: Wedding Night

-Eight Hours Before That-

Lin Yi sat on the big four poster bed of red silk sheets. She had graduated to Ivan’s master bedroom. This was the part that she dreaded. What kind of sexual misadventure would her new husband drag her into? Lin Yi didn’t want to look at what kind of sex toys that he had. She tried not to think about asking about the sex dungeon rumors. The young bride would have to distract herself to make it through this consummation. Already, her stomach began to ache from dinner and all of the crying. She looked at her stuffy wedding dress sitting on the chair in the corner of the room.

Lin Yi about jumped when she heard the door open. Ivan stood in the doorway, untying his bowtie.

“Waiting long?” he asked. His new bride shook her head. She looked so pale. Instinct told her new husband that he should probably be gentle tonight.

“Are you okay?” he asked. Lin Yi nodded, looking away. Ivan sat down on the bed next to her and turned her face towards to him. Her eyes looked so big and hollow.

“There, there,” the Russian man whispered. He leaned in and kissed her on the lips. Lin Yi froze as her stomach turned. Ivan pulled away and stared into her eyes.

“I won’t do anything you won’t like, da,” he whispered. “I promised Yao that I would take go care of you and your brother.” Yao. Being reminded of that traitor didn’t help. Lin Yi’s eyes welled up with tears. Ivan leaned in and kissed her on the lips. This time, he gently wrestled her down to the bed. His mouth didn’t stray from hers.

“Is this your first time?” he asked. The bride nodded.

“Alright,” he said. His hand moved down to her lacy cream-colored gown. She wasn’t busty, but she was still cute. Ivan moved down to her throat and kissed her on the neck. He was about to go down further when he heard gulping. The Russian looked up to see Lin Yi looking so pale.

“What’s the matter?” he asked. Lin Yi began gulping and taking in heavy breaths.

“I… I can’t do this!” she said. The bride pushed him off and rushed to the bathroom. Ivan sat up on the bed, tilting his head.

“Lin Yi?” he asked. Vomiting erupted in the air. Her husband ran so the bathroom door. He pressed his ear to the door and he knocked.

“Are you okay in there?” he asked.

“No!” Lin Yi cried as more vomiting followed. Finally, sobbing came from the bathroom. Ivan sat down on the bedroom floor, waiting for her until it became quiet. A few minutes passed and the Russian man opened the door. He found the bride laying on her side on the bathroom floor. She didn’t move or clean her face. Everything she had left looked like it had died. With a heavy heart, Ivan picked her up off the floor and washed the dried vomit from around her mouth.

“I wish there was something I could do to make you happy,” he whispered. “I’ll give you some time to adjust.”

He ended up putting her to bed and sleeping in another room in the house.

Coda: Woman in Red’s Song

The Woman in Red rose to her feet in her emptiness.

“My heart has returned to me. My powers have come back to me. Now, it’s time for me be free. I will be free.”

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