Scene VIII: I Never Told You
Kanagawa, Yuugen. Japan. 2005, June
The room was quiet, save for the distant sounds of chirping birds outside from the open window. Yujin’s red eyes scanned his desk with something of annoyance. He could never find anything under the mess of papers and pens. He knew he should sort through it and clean out the useless items at some point, but he could never find the time. Or to be exact, he could never find the will. A little mess never hurt anyone, right?
He leant forward, hands pressing against the desk. The wood creaked under his weight before he began to dig through files of paper, knocking things to the floor as he moved. Yujin grumbled under his breath, idly commenting on the space he was wasting and would have likely sworn if he had not paused altogether. A small photograph had landed by his foot, having slipped from between two books and floated to the ground.
There was a long moment of stillness before Yujin moved. He knelt to the floor, bending one knee. Both hands had unintendedly balled into fists along the way. With pursed lips, he reached out and pressed his palm to the back of the photo before cupping his hand and turning it around. If there had been anyone else in the room, they would have seen the look of pain cross Yujin’s face.
The picture showed a family. A woman with a striking smile was cradling a small toddler to her chest as she stared at the camera. A young boy was pulling a big grin beside her and behind them stood Yujin, with his hands upon his wife’s shoulder and son’s head. The picture was filled with nothing but smiles and happiness, which was precisely something Yujin could not stand to bare and he stood, slipping the photo into his back pocket.
Much to his fortune, a knock came from the door and Yujin’s attention was averted. He cleared his throat, muttering a ‘come in.’ The door had already been open ajar and Neko was quick to pull it open before stepping inside.
Yujin watched the girl walk over and hand him a stack of papers. His hands never moved to accept them. “What are they?” He inquired bluntly.
Neko sighed, turning to drop the stack upon the messy desk beside her. “Chini’s files. The Chairman wishes for you to go over them and make sure his health and physical stats are up to balance before we begin classes this year.”
Yujin cringed as he turned to the papers. He wanted to comment, to tell Neko off for messing up his already messy desk. Instead, he let his eyes flick over the front page. “Have the dates for class been arranged yet?” He murmured.
“It’s still being arranged.” Neko clasped her hands behind her back. “Yuugen’s Council need to meet and discuss who will be teaching this term before we can arrange further things. It can be a tad-”
“-bothersome.” Yujin finished.
“Precisely.” Neko nodded. With care, she chose to leave the conversation at that and turned to excuse herself from the room, taking swift strides as she went.
Yujin dropped himself on his chair as he began to scan through The Chairman’s son’s files. Chini. He was thankful Chini had learnt to pull himself away from the infirmary and grow accustomed to his new surroundings; despite the fact he had more or less been kidnapped to come here. Yujin held his tongue, knowing better than to challenge Yuugen’s way. Chini never seemed as bothered since he woke up. He was still quiet and had been taking language lessons from Okui for the past few weeks. Yujin was actually surprised how well Chini was catching on. Of course, Yokubo was more than delighted.
With a sigh, Yujin began to sort through the files and take out the assorted papers to begin working through them as was requested. Yes. Nothing but work. That was all he was good for, anyway.
Neko’s ponytails bounced against her shoulders as she hurried down the hall. She had to pause after leaving Yujin’s office to recall what else she had to do before taking her afternoon nap.
Many a time she had been made fun of for sleeping at random hours of the day – it was true she was rather young to be put in such a responsible position as The Chairman’s assistant. But to be called a toddler or baby for sleeping in the afternoon – simply because she would prefer to arrange her paperwork at night and schedule The Chairman’s list and orders before dawn – was just idiotic. It irked her more than words could explain, but she would never voice her complaint aloud.
She could only smile when she realised her chores had been finished twenty minutes ahead of her planned nap. Which gave her time to spare and she hurried through the white halls, keeping focused as she climbed the stairs to the dormitories. Laminated signs had been stuck to the doors, a temporary decision while some kids were still recovering from the fire. She stopped at the sign Recovery Room B.
Neko brushed her blouse down and readjusted her shorts. She adjusted her hair, ensuring it was tucked behind her ears and did not look as though she had been running around like a lunatic all morning, before stepping inside. Eight beds were lined up, four on either side of the room in perfect symmetry. Not a single speck of dust could be found in its white corners and Neko pursed her lips; tired of seeing the same damn shade every day.
Her eyes were fixed upon the furthest bed to her left. Upon it sat the boy she had rescued on the day of the fire. What was his name? Miryoku. There was no-one in here besides him. From a distance, Neko was ready to question why he was still in recovery; up close, she did not need a reason.
His arms were bandaged from his hands to his shoulders, and though Neko could not see what lay beneath his baggy shirt, she could only guess his chest was wrapped up just the same, considering the condition he had been in before.
“You’ll be discharged soon.” Neko spoke up. She had hoped the words that fell from her mouth would have been a little kinder. But she was useless when it came to small talk with someone her own age.
Miryoku had jolted when Neko spoke. Clearly he was too interested in the horizon stretching from his window to notice her presence. He moved slowly, wincing before his golden eyes looked over the girl and he pursed his lips together.
Neko’s eye twitched. Honestly! Even after she had gone out of her way to keep this boy breathing and that was all he could say? No. Shaking her head, Neko was quick to discard those selfish thoughts. Firstly, this boy was an orphan, secondly his home had just burnt to the ground and he had been one of few to receive the worst damage from the flames. Thirdly, he was expected to join one of Yuugen’s Coven and had to spend his evenings alone until he was able to raise an arm without wincing.
“You had surgery on both of your arms?” Neko asked, pulling up a chair from the window to sit beside the boy.
Miryoku remained silent as he looked down, watching the way his arms hung loosely against his lap. He could only just move his little fingers without hurting. “…Yeah.”
Neko would have preferred a more detailed response, but she brushed it aside. “Yoku performed the surgery, I believe.” The comment was not directed at the boy, but Miryoku raised his head, nonetheless.
“That weird lady with the lab coat?” His voice was low yet seemed less guarded than before.
“Yes. That would be her.” Neko felt a devilish smirk cross her lips. “She used to be a surgeon and tends to use her skills whenever she can. We can’t be as open and honest to the public as we would like, so when an accident like the Orphanage occurs, we try and keep it contained without involving public services. Too many questions.”
Miryoku shuffled, moving back against his bed to stare at Neko without craning his neck. The dressings on his face looked ready to be cleaned and the skin which was not bandaged looked red and sore. Neko could only admit how lucky he had been to keep his eyes.
“She doesn’t work alone though, right? There was someone else there. A man with blue hair?”
“That would be Senbo. He and Yoku are lab partners. He was probably providing your medication and maintaining your vitals while Yoku performed the surgery.” Neko waved a hand in the air as if it was an obvious fact. “Of course, Yoku prefers the company of her Name rather than Senbo, but her Match is almost never around.”
“Match?” Miryoku frowned. “Name?”
Neko seemed to freeze at such a simple question. Her eyes turned from Miryoku’s face and up to the clock hanging on the wall, nap time. She had no choice but to stand and carry her chair back to its rightful place. She dusted herself down for the umpteenth time that morning and faced Miryoku with both hands clasped behind her back. She was no longer on break and needed to make it obvious.
“I’m afraid I will have to explain that matter some other time, Mister Fumetsu.”
Miryoku’s eyes turned dull. “Sure.” He muttered, turning back to stare out of his window. It was raining now.
Neko pursed her lips into a thin line before she scurried towards the door. She never had urges before, and felt a foreign sense of longing when she forced her head to look back, catching one last look at the boy. She cleared her throat, making sure to call softly over the silence, even if Miryoku would never look back. Even if he wanted to, it would be too painful to turn.
“One day, I will tell you everything, Miryoku.”