BLOODY BAT ROMEO
Romeo finds himself trailing behind Yuri and Nana as they head to the hospital to visit Endo. He'd only offered to walk Yuri over, but Nana strongly opposed the idea.
“I’m not going to leave my Yuri alone when she’s at her most fragile, especially not with some stranger!”
“N-Nana, he’s fine. He’s a good guy, trust me…”
Yuri, who still sounded sad but was no longer crying, stood up for Romeo with her sweet voice. It was like a punch to the gut.
I’m not a good guy, Yuri… Not yet, anyway.
Nana clicked her tongue and linked arms with Yuri, holding her umbrella above both of them, and started walking away. Romeo had no choice but to walk besides them, protected only by the hood of his red coat.
He had resolved to quit violence, but couldn't even keep his word for a single day. Confessing to someone as pure as Yuri now would be a terrible idea.
One day. Just twenty-four hours. If he can manage that long, he'll certainly earn the right to tell her everything.
“Um… Romeo? What did you want to talk to me about on the roof, by the way?”
Huh!? She asked about it much quicker than I expected!?
Romeo straightens up quickly in a panic, then immediately cringes in pain. He'd forgotten that his bat was hidden under his coat in a secret holster he'd sewn on the inside, and that he hadn't had the time to wrap it back up. Yuri doesn’t seem to notice, and looks away with an apologetic expression, continuing.
“I’m sorry… I really did plan to go… I was on my way over when I got the phone call from the hospital, and—”
“Aah! Don’t worry about it! Don’t worry about it!” Romeo shakes a dismissive hand at her comment, noticing that she's starting to look sad again. “This is much more important, isn’t it!?”
Nana looks at Romeo with a death glare, stopping at a crossing light.
“Yeah, Romeo. Why did you ask a pure girl like Yuri to the roof, all alone? You weren’t planning something stupid like a love confession, were you? How old-fashioned are you?”
Oof! Her words hit Romeo like a giant brick right on the head. And he has nowhere to run.
I... What!? What am I supposed to say!? Think Romeo, think!!
“Nana, stop it!”
Yuri interrupts with a blush. Romeo’s eyes widen.
Yuri shoots him an embarrassed glance, and their eyes meet a third time, this time both their faces tinted red.
. . . Eh?
Time stops. She looks away first. The wind blows away the last drops of falling rain.
Romeo turns to face forward again and continues walking in silence along with them when the light changes.
...What was that?
* * *
Once they get to the hospital, the girls set their umbrella aside and Romeo lowers his hood, brushing some rain off his clothes. A nurse points them to Endo’s room. Yuri and Nana rush towards the door, but Romeo stays behind in the hall, hesitant.
I shouldn’t go in, should I? If Endo sees me, then Yuri will know what I did. And he might try to kill me right in front of her, too…
“...Romeo? What’s wrong?”
Yuri’s sweet voice calls to him. Nana had already gone inside, but Yuri's still standing outside the door, as if waiting for him.
“Yuri, I… I don’t think I should go in. Your brother…”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. My brother is the nicest person in the whole world! Even if he doesn’t know you, I’m sure he’ll be happy to meet you, since you walked us here!”
Romeo’s so shocked to hear those words his eyes just shoot open, blinking, wide and incredulous.
Endo is the nicest person in the whole world!? That Endo!? The Endo who has over a hundred lackeys under his command and picks fights with civilians and other delinquents alike!? Are you kidding me!?
But Yuri’s smiling for the first time since they left school. She still looks a little sad, but the way she talks about Endo… it’s clear she truly believes her words. And it's just as clear she doesn’t know her brother is Raging Fist Endo.
Romeo scratches the back of his neck and looks away.
“Is he? Um… Okay, then…”
“Great!” Yuri claps her hands together. “Let’s go in, then!”
Without even knowing what exactly he'd agreed to, she suddenly reaches to take his hand again, just like she did in the alley. Romeo feels his face warming up as she pulls him through the door.
Inside the hospital room, Endo lies on a bed with a bandage tightly wrapped around his head. Nana sits on the side of the bed with her body turned to Endo as she playfully tries to feed him a spoonful of hospital jelly.
“Come on, say aaah!”
“S-Stop it— I don’t want it…!”
“Whaaat, not even one little bite?”
Endo’s face is as red as a tomato, struggling to keep his eyes away from Nana’s chest as she teases him. He closes his eyes and looks away.
“Tch. You’re such an annoying woman… Fine… Do it quickly…”
He opens his mouth hesitantly, and Nana brings the spoon to his mouth… only to turn it around and eat it herself instead.
“You were too slow,” Nana laughs, swinging her feet in victory.
Romeo, free from Yuri’s hand almost too soon, watches the whole thing with disgust from the entrance.
What the hell!? What did I just see!? Hello!?
Yuri rushes over to Endo’s side, suddenly overcome with emotion after seeing him hurt for the first time.
“Brother! Are you okay!? Your head…”
Yuri tries to hold him as carefully as she can to avoid hurting him. Endo puts his hand over her head to comfort her, forcing a smile.
“I’m fine. There’s nothing I can’t handle.”
“Except me!” says Nana, teasingly. Endo frowns.
“Did you have to bring her along, Yuri? She’s a damn pain in the ass.”
Yuri lifts her head, wiping some tears from her eyes, laughing a little.
“You know she’s my best friend, so of course she wanted to come along! And she wanted to see you, too.”
Nana leans forward again with a grin.
“Yeah, Endo. I wanted to see you sooo badly…”
Endo’s face heats up again, quickly turning his head away from the two of them, and, in doing so, his eyes finally fall on Romeo.
Romeo doesn’t move, like a deer caught in headlights.
Endo glares at him sharply for what feels like forever, and Romeo feels his plans to be reborn for Yuri’s sake fall apart with each passing second.
Shit… This is it, huh…
Endo lifts a hand and points directly at Romeo.
“Oi. Who’s that?”
Yuri follows Endo’s finger with her eyes and lands on Romeo, too.
“Oh! Right! Endo, he’s—”
“I just walked them here,” Romeo replies quickly, his eyes fixed intensely on Endo as if awaiting his next move.
What are you planning, Endo? What the hell?
Endo keeps his gaze fixed on Romeo for another long moment, then turns his head away casually.
Endo suddenly grimaces and brings his hand to the side of his head, hissing in pain. Yuri’s face turns to panic again, gently holding onto her brother’s shoulders.
“Brother!? Are you in pain!? Should I call the nurse!?”
But Endo just shakes his head, clearly trying to grin and bear it.
“I’m fine. It’s just… Some things are still kinda blurry, y’know? Every time I try to remember what happened to me, it’s like my brain shuts down…”
“Isn’t your brain always off, though?” jumps in Nana without missing a beat.
Endo and Nana bicker again while Yuri worries by his side. Meanwhile, Romeo watches this scene like he's having some sort of out-of-body experience.
Could it be? Endo… doesn’t remember me? He doesn’t remember I was the one that put him here? No way…
His heart skips a beat at the realization. Unbelievable! Looks like his plan was still in motion. But he’s given plenty of concussions to his enemies before. He’s seen this happen many times. He knows this kind of thing never lasts too long.
“Anyway, Brother… You’ll be okay, right? You won’t be here for long, will you?”
Endo shakes his head, grinning.
“Nah. Just a few days. It wasn’t that bad, really. The doctor said I’ll be fully recovered by then ‘cause I’m so sturdy. Once I remember what happened I’ll make them pa— I mean, I’ll… go to the police. Yeah.”
Nana sighs and straightens up.
“I can’t believe your big, empty head saved your life. Ugly people are so lucky.”
“What did you say!? And what does my head have to do with being ugly!?”
Yuri laughs calmly at the scene, clearly relieved. Romeo takes one step back and, while everyone is distracted, he leaves the room.
Man, this is stupid. Raging Fist Endo, the leader of the ultra dangerous Kappore gang… He really doesn’t remember me, huh. Even if it’s only temporary, I guess I should count my blessings?
The Makai gang and the Kappore gang leaders tend to leave the dirty work to their lackeys, so Romeo had never faced Endo himself until today. He touches his face and winces, the bruise on his jaw still fresh.
No, if anything, this means I have a time limit. Once Raging Fist Endo remembers who I am, he’s never going to let me get near Yuri. I have to do something before—
Suddenly, the rumble of a stampede breaks him out of his thoughts.
But it was not an earthquake. It was something worse: a sea of girls, clamoring, noisy, all rushing through the hospital halls excitedly.
Confused and a little terrified, Romeo scrambles to back up against the door to Endo's room as they come straight at him.The girls come to a sudden stop and form a semicircle around him, but at the same time, their interest doesn’t seem to be on Romeo himself. Almost like they were being herded there by a separate force.
From the sea of girls, a boy emerges: tall, blond, foreign-looking, and confident. He's handsome and extremely well-dressed. Behind him stands another girl, looking quite nervous. She’s wearing glasses and a french maid outfit, and holds a smartphone as if she were ready to take a picture.
“Good day, sir." The boy speaks up first. "Would you mind terribly if I asked you a question?”
I’m the one with the questions, though!?
Before Romeo can answer, the boy continues, placing a hand over his own chest, nodding his head politely.
“Have you perhaps seen a beautiful maiden with long dark hair entering one of these rooms? She usually wears a red ribbon as an ornament.”
Huh? Is this weirdo talking about… Yuri?
“...What’s it to you?”
Romeo replies more defensively than expected, but the boy seems unfazed, shrugging.
“As soon as I heard the news that her brother was hospitalized, I left an important family reunion overseas and took my private jet here immediately. My family matters can wait when it comes to the well-being of someone dear to me. Besides, I missed all these princesses, too.”
He winks at the girls behind him who immediately shriek with delight. Romeo gags.
“Yuri’s busy right now. I suggest you come back later.”
Romeo’s menacing delinquent glare slides right off the boy, who instead widens his eyes in delight.
“Ah! So she is in there! How wonderful! I was afraid I’d miss her! Now, if you’ll excuse me—”
But as he reaches for the door behind Romeo, Romeo blocks him again, hands in his pockets, never letting this guy out of his sight. The boy steps back again, tilting his head, confused.
“Yes? Can I help you? I need to go in there…”
“How do you know her?”
“How do you know Yuri?”
The atmosphere immediately turns tense, and the girls started whispering among themselves. The girl in the maid outfit quickly steps forward. She looks incredibly nervous, with her hands holding the smartphone trembling visibly.
“P-Please let him through! He came from so far away for this, you have no idea how much his family opposed—”
The blond boy moves his hand in front of her to stop her from talking. It works.
“I’m sorry. Where are my manners? I let my ardent emotions get the best of me, and for that, I apologize. My name is Franz. I’m Yuri’s—”
The door opens behind Romeo and Yuri peeks out, gasping in surprise the moment she sees the other boy.
“Franz!? What are you doing here?”
Romeo’s heart skips a beat after hearing Yuri’s voice so close to his ear, stepping aside instinctively to let her enter the hallway. She closes the door behind her and brings a finger to her lips in a "shhh" motion.
“I’m sorry, but could you please not make too much noise? My brother is trying to rest…”
Franz brusquely pushes past Romeo, his politeness completely thrown out the window, holding onto Yuri’s hands with both of his own— much how Yuri had done to Romeo that time in the alley. Romeo feels something heavy in his stomach.
“Yuri! How are you feeling? Are you in distress? Do you need a shoulder to cry on!?”
“I-I’m fine, it’s my brother who’s in pain…”
“Oh, nonsense! Emotional pain is just as horrible— nay, worse, than physical pain! Oh, sweet Yuri, how you must be suffering right now…”
The dramatic way Franz talks to Yuri seems to drive the horde of girls crazy, to which the girl in the maid dress responds by loudly shushing them.
Yuri gently tries to tug herself away from his grip, but Franz doesn’t allow it, keeping her in his grasp. Romeo sees this and his eyebrow twitches.
Who is this guy? Why is he so chummy with Yuri? And who the hell are all these girls?
“Thank you for worrying, but really, I’m okay. My brother has a concussion but it’s nothing too serious. He’ll be fine in a few days.”
Yuri looks at Romeo, and gasps quietly.
“Ah, Romeo! I was looking for you. I'm sorry for ignoring you before, I was just so focused on my brother…”
Romeo perks up, feeling bad for making Yuri worry about him even though there was absolutely no reason to, since it was understandable she’d have other priorities.
“No, don’t worry about it.”
“Hm? Yuri, who is this gentleman?” asks Franz, who still hadn't let go of her hands.
“Ah, right! Romeo goes to school with me. He’s a friend.”
A friend!? She called me her friend! Even though we’ve barely talked, she already thinks of me as a friend! Whoa!!
“...And this is Franz. He’s… also a friend.”
Huh. Well now Romeo doesn’t feel too good about a label that lumps him together with this clown.
Franz scoffs, smiling. He lets go of Yuri’s hands only to wrap an arm around her waist instead, pulling her close to himself.
“Come now, sweet Yuri. You don’t have to be shy about it. Tell him who I really am!”
Yuri blushes and tries to avoid his gaze as best as she can. She looks uncomfortable, like she wants to pull away but is too nice to do so— at least, that’s how it looks to Romeo, who has half a mind to pull out his bat right now.
“Franz…” she pleads quietly.
“Fufu. Look at you. You’re so shy you can’t even say the words, can you? Not to worry, I’ll say them for you!”
Yuri tries to stop him immediately, but Franz continues, giving Romeo a smug, defiant look.
“Yuri is my fiancée.”