It was already six in the evening. Jin had gone out to buy dinner for the both of us because no matter how much he tried to convince me that Naoki wouldn't show up, I stood my ground and told him I believe he'd come and I won't go anywhere. He also told me to just give it all up to the police to let them handle it but I refused. I want to believe Naoki can still be talked out of it. He gave up and went off at lunch to buy us food and now he's gone to the store to buy our dinner.
I hugged my knees as I leaned my chin on my knee. I don't know what's happening with my life right now. I never thought I'd experience something like this. I didn't know that these feelings I had for Naoki would bring me into such turmoil.
I sighed and stood up. Something in me wants to walk around the school campus for a while. Though it sends a chill down my spine when I'd remember that students of this school had recently died, I still couldn't shake off the feeling of wanting to roam the school. Maybe if I had more friends, I would be able to ask about what happened to Marumi yesterday. Maybe if I had more friends, I wouldn't fall inlove with Naoki.
Maybe I'm regretting that I confessed to him.
Maybe I'm regretting that I fell for him.
I climbed the staircase and made my way towards our classroom. I flicked the switch but the lights didn't light up. The classroom felt so eerie and a bit cold. I walked inside, towards my table. I ran my fingers through the rough surface and trailed the words that were written and carved there.
He doesn't deserve you!
Don't get ahead of yourself!
I pulled away from my desk and looked outside the window. I placed my hand on that glass and as I retracted my hand, the heat from my palm left a mark but it quickly faded. Guess it's that cold outside, huh? The clouds are even looming and gray.
The possibility that it might rain told me that I should just head home right now. I fished my phone from my pocket as I turned around to walk towards the door.
I almost jumped out of my skin as the phone slid from my hands and fell on the floor. My breath was caught in my throat—though it felt like my heart just went up to my throat. I thought it was Aoi Jin but when I looked up—green eyes met me.
I inhaled sharply and slack-jawed as I was, I felt my eyes almost bulging out from its sockets. I tried to calm myself down but my hands trembled I had to clasp them together, gripping my knuckles. I opened my mouth to say his name but my throat felt dry. My breathing steadily increased.
His brown hair was a bit dishevelled and it appeared as if he'd just come out of the shower. He was wearing a white shirt under his black cardigan. He wore light brown pants and paired it with black sneakers.
"What's wrong?" Naoki's voice was quiet and deep. He took a step inside, his shoe making a tapping sound. Why didn't I hear him walking towards the classroom?
"How did you know I was here?" before I knew it, the words had rolled out of my mouth.
He looked at me, "I didn't see you by the school gate so I decided to come inside the school. You weren't anywhere by the shoe lockers so I thought you had gone home. But I wanted to check your classroom first to see if you were here and here you are." Then he took another step inside. He slid his hand inside his pocket and those green eyes showed he was worried. "I wanted to call you but my phone was dead."
I instinctively hugged myself the moment I heard that word come out of his mouth.
"So shall we go?"
I blinked, "Wh-What?"
He tilted his head to the side, "I mean, you did want me to accompany you, right? Let's go? I bet you haven't had dinner, yet, anyway. And besides, it's about to rain. I'm guessing it's going to pour really hard." When he took a step and another and started walking towards me, I froze and couldn't move my muscle. My heartbeat was already deafening my ears when he walked past me. I followed him with my eyes and turned around and saw he was by the window, looking up at the gray sky. Then he looked at me over his shoulder and smiled gently, "Let's go?"
Jin, where are you at a time like this?! How long does it even take to buy dinner?!
I mustered all of my courage to turn around and fully face him, "Be-before anything else," I began. "I'd like to ask you something..."
He nodded, "Okay."
"Wh...Why..." my voice squeaked. I swallowed and opened my mouth, "Why did you do that?"
At this point, when I looked at him, his eyes shifted from being gentle into being emotionless in an instant. His lips were shut in a straight line and he didn't look like he was moving at all. When the lightning struck, his green eyes gleamed in that duration. "Which one?"
My heart started to pound harder in my chest when I heard the hint of coldness in his voice. The expression he wore right now made me tremble I'm feeling weak on my knees. I really want to run away right now but my feet feel heavy and as if they'd been nailed on the floor. "Wh-What do you mean which one, Na-Naoki?"
He leaned his back on the window and looked at me straight in the eyes, "Your bullies or Marumi?"
I inhaled sharply as I covered my mouth with my hand. Tears started to well up in my eyes. "So you really killed Marumi?" I couldn't stop the words from coming out of my mouth even when my voice had croaked. "Why, Naoki? She hasn't done anything..."
"Exactly, she didn't do anything," he said. His voice was deep. "She knew you were bothered by those girls, she saw them writing on your desk, she saw them dump your shoes, she saw them crumple those papers in your locker, she saw them break your pens—that's right. She didn't do anything. In fact, she'd started asking me random questions as if she was suspecting me of something," as he spoke, the anger in his voice was obvious. "And if you'd ask me why I killed those bullies well, isn't it already obvious, Akane?" He walked towards me and I couldn't do anything because I was stoned. I wanted so badly to run away but I just couldn't move a muscle because all of my insides are trembling.
He reached out. His cold hand touched my cheek and in his eyes was pure and genuine concern, "They deserved it, Akane. They deserved it for treating you that way. They deserved it for hurting my precious, precious Akane...." then he smiled and pulled me into a hug. "It's okay, baby, no one can hurt you now. I am with you. No matter where I am, I'll always be with you..."
Tears rolled down my cheeks. I can whiff his scent and I couldn't help but pick up the scent of rust on him which squeezed my heart and made my stomach churn.
"That's why you shouldn't go around talking and befriending anyone, okay?" He combed my hair with his fingers as he said, "I would feel really bad. You only need me, right, Akane? That's why you shouldn't look at anyone else, anymore. You're mine, okay? You're all mine. Your eyes should only look at me..."
The last line he said brought back a memory I thought I had forgotten. In a split second, I had pushed him away and stepped back, clenching my fist onto my chest. I was breathing heavily.
"Akane?" he looked saddened. "What's wrong? Why did you push me away?"
"Y-You," I swallowed and huffed. "You...You were the one who wrote those words at my apartment?! That was you?!"
He stood still for a moment and as lightning flashed, he smiled, "Of course. Who else would it be?"
"No, no, no, no, no," my cheeks were damp from crying. I was shaking my head and stepped back, "No, no, no, no, no, no, I can't take this. I can't take this. I can't accept this, no..."
"OI!! AKANE! WHERE ARE YOU?!"
Jin's voice boomed from the hallway and I reacted by looking at the door. When I looked at Naoki, he looked surprised but that was only for a second because his green eyes looked as if it gleamed and I saw him grit his teeth. "Why is he here," he muttered under his breath.
"No," I whispered. I turned to the door and yelled with all my might, "Run, Jin!! Run away!!"
"Akane!" he yelled.
I winced and when thunder roared, as if on cue, I gained control of my feet again and I ran out as fast as I could. I could hear the rain pouring from outside and the smell of petrichor was already seeping into the walls. "Jin!! Jin!!" I called out in the dark hallway.
I could feel Naoki chasing me and as I ran and ran, the hallway grew narrower and darker. When I turned to a corner, my heart stopped beating for a moment when I felt a hand grab me by the arm and another hand covered my mouth and pulled me into a classroom.
I was breathing heavily and my tears were falling nonstop as I struggled to break free. When I felt an arm was wrapped around my waist, I tried to get it off me. I swung my elbow and it had hit the person somewhere.
"Fuck, Akane, what the hell are you doing!" Jin grunted from behind me.
"J-Jin?" I muffled.
He let out a sigh as he removed his hand from my mouth. "Damn it, woman, why were you screaming and running?"
"Shh, shh!" I whispered as I turned and came face to face with him. "Quiet or he'll hear us..."
"Don't tell me Naoki's here?!"
I nodded continuously, my heart still at its rapid beating, "He-He told me himself that he killed them...Jin...Jin...what do we do, what do we do? W-We should've gone home when you said so. I shouldn't have been too stubborn. I shouldn't have been too confident that I might be able to face him. What do I do, what do I do...." my hands were trembling as I grabbed onto the collar of his blazer.
"Shh," he whispered and pulled me closer to him. "It's okay, we'll get out of here, okay? Don't be scared. I'm with you, alright?" When I felt his hand wrap around mine and he squeezed it gently, warmth had started to spread throughout my body. For some reason, I calmed down. "Shh," he leaned further to the wall when we'd both heard footsteps.
"Akane? You can't do this to me," I heard Naoki say. His voice was echoing in the hallway and he'd sounded sad, "I already did those things for you... Why can't you understand that I'm here? That I'm the only one you need? Aoi Jin can't help you. He won't be able to do those things I did..."
Tears started falling again and I immediately wiped them off. I covered my mouth to try and not make a single sound.
"Akane... Mirai~" he called out in a sing-song voice.
When lightning struck again, I saw his shadow by the doorframe. My heartbeat raced again and Jin squeezed my hand.
He seemed to have stood still for a couple of seconds and then he continued walking down the hallway. A minute or two later, Jin stood up, careful not to make a single sound. He was still holding my hand and he gently yanked me up. That was when I heard a rustle beside my foot. I figured it must have been the dinner he'd bought us.
"Okay, I'll go check first, alright? If I say run, you run, okay, Akane?"
"Akane," he placed his hands on my cheeks. Even when it was dark, I could still faintly see his blue eyes. "Trust me," his voice was close enough for me to feel his breath. He even smelled like mint. "If I tell you to run, you run."
I held onto his hand as we tiptoed towards the doorframe. He looked to the right and then to the left before I felt him pull me and gestured me to run the opposite direction that Naoki took. I took a step and another until when I was about to run, I heard the sound of wood hitting something and then a grunt followed by a thud.
When I looked behind me, lightning struck and thunder roared when I saw Aoi Jin on the floor and there was blood on his lips and standing there, towering above him was Naoki who was holding a baseball bat.