Chapter 2:

Wedding Bells

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.Bookmark here

“I’m not going to leave my Yuri alone when she’s at her most fragile, especially not with some stranger!”Bookmark here

“N-Nana, he’s fine. He’s a good guy, trust me…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

I’m not a good guy, Yuri… Not yet, anyway.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

One day. Just twenty-four hours. If he can manage that long, he'll certainly earn the right to tell her everything. Bookmark here

“Um… Romeo? What did you want to talk to me about on the roof, by the way?”Bookmark here

Huh!? She asked about it much quicker than I expected!?Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“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—”Bookmark here

“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!?”Bookmark here

Nana looks at Romeo with a death glare, stopping at a crossing light.Bookmark here

“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?”Bookmark here

Oof! Her words hit Romeo like a giant brick right on the head. And he has nowhere to run.Bookmark here

“I—...”Bookmark here

I... What!? What am I supposed to say!? Think Romeo, think!!Bookmark here

“Nana, stop it!” Bookmark here

Yuri interrupts with a blush. Romeo’s eyes widen. Bookmark here

Yuri shoots him an embarrassed glance, and their eyes meet a third time, this time both their faces tinted red.Bookmark here

. . . Eh?Bookmark here

Time stops. She looks away first. The wind blows away the last drops of falling rain.Bookmark here

Romeo turns to face forward again and continues walking in silence along with them when the light changes.Bookmark here

Ba-dump.Bookmark here

...What was that?Bookmark here

* * *Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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…Bookmark here

“...Romeo? What’s wrong?”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

Ugh.Bookmark here

“Yuri, I… I don’t think I should go in. Your brother…”Bookmark here

“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!”Bookmark here

...Hah?Bookmark here

Romeo’s so shocked to hear those words his eyes just shoot open, blinking, wide and incredulous.Bookmark here

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!?Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Romeo scratches the back of his neck and looks away.Bookmark here

“Is he? Um… Okay, then…”Bookmark here

“Great!” Yuri claps her hands together. “Let’s go in, then!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Come on, say aaah!”Bookmark here

“S-Stop it— I don’t want it…!”Bookmark here

“Whaaat, not even one little bite?”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“Tch. You’re such an annoying woman… Fine… Do it quickly…”Bookmark here

He opens his mouth hesitantly, and Nana brings the spoon to his mouth… only to turn it around and eat it herself instead. Bookmark here

HEY!?Bookmark here

“You were too slow,” Nana laughs, swinging her feet in victory. Bookmark here

Romeo, free from Yuri’s hand almost too soon, watches the whole thing with disgust from the entrance.Bookmark here

What the hell!? What did I just see!? Hello!?Bookmark here

Yuri rushes over to Endo’s side, suddenly overcome with emotion after seeing him hurt for the first time.Bookmark here

“Brother! Are you okay!? Your head…”Bookmark here

“Yuri…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“I’m fine. There’s nothing I can’t handle.”Bookmark here

“Except me!” says Nana, teasingly. Endo frowns.Bookmark here

“Did you have to bring her along, Yuri? She’s a damn pain in the ass.”Bookmark here

Yuri lifts her head, wiping some tears from her eyes, laughing a little.Bookmark here

“You know she’s my best friend, so of course she wanted to come along! And she wanted to see you, too.”Bookmark here

Nana leans forward again with a grin.Bookmark here

“Yeah, Endo. I wanted to see you sooo badly…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“...!”Bookmark here

Romeo doesn’t move, like a deer caught in headlights.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Shit… This is it, huh…Bookmark here

Endo lifts a hand and points directly at Romeo.Bookmark here

“Oi. Who’s that?”Bookmark here

...Eh?Bookmark here

Yuri follows Endo’s finger with her eyes and lands on Romeo, too.Bookmark here

“Oh! Right! Endo, he’s—”Bookmark here

“I just walked them here,” Romeo replies quickly, his eyes fixed intensely on Endo as if awaiting his next move.Bookmark here

What are you planning, Endo? What the hell?Bookmark here

Endo keeps his gaze fixed on Romeo for another long moment, then turns his head away casually.Bookmark here

“Huh. Whatever.”Bookmark here

...What!?Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Brother!? Are you in pain!? Should I call the nurse!?” Bookmark here

But Endo just shakes his head, clearly trying to grin and bear it.Bookmark here

“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…”Bookmark here

“Isn’t your brain always off, though?” jumps in Nana without missing a beat.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

Could it be? Endo… doesn’t remember me? He doesn’t remember I was the one that put him here? No way…Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Anyway, Brother… You’ll be okay, right? You won’t be here for long, will you?”Bookmark here

Endo shakes his head, grinning.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

Nana sighs and straightens up.Bookmark here

“I can’t believe your big, empty head saved your life. Ugly people are so lucky.”Bookmark here

“What did you say!? And what does my head have to do with being ugly!?”Bookmark here

Yuri laughs calmly at the scene, clearly relieved. Romeo takes one step back and, while everyone is distracted, he leaves the room.Bookmark here

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? Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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—Bookmark here

Suddenly, the rumble of a stampede breaks him out of his thoughts.Bookmark here

“What the—!?”Bookmark here

An earthquake!?Bookmark here

But it was not an earthquake. It was something worse: a sea of girls, clamoring, noisy, all rushing through the hospital halls excitedly.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Good day, sir." The boy speaks up first. "Would you mind terribly if I asked you a question?”Bookmark here

I’m the one with the questions, though!?Bookmark here

Before Romeo can answer, the boy continues, placing a hand over his own chest, nodding his head politely.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

Huh? Is this weirdo talking about… Yuri?Bookmark here

“...What’s it to you?”Bookmark here

Romeo replies more defensively than expected, but the boy seems unfazed, shrugging.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

He winks at the girls behind him who immediately shriek with delight. Romeo gags.Bookmark here

“Yuri’s busy right now. I suggest you come back later.” Bookmark here

Romeo’s menacing delinquent glare slides right off the boy, who instead widens his eyes in delight.Bookmark here

“Ah! So she is in there! How wonderful! I was afraid I’d miss her! Now, if you’ll excuse me—”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Yes? Can I help you? I need to go in there…”Bookmark here

“How do you know her?”Bookmark here

“...Pardon?”Bookmark here

“How do you know Yuri?” Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“P-Please let him through! He came from so far away for this, you have no idea how much his family opposed—”Bookmark here

The blond boy moves his hand in front of her to stop her from talking. It works.Bookmark here

“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—”Bookmark here

The door opens behind Romeo and Yuri peeks out, gasping in surprise the moment she sees the other boy. Bookmark here

“Franz!? What are you doing here?”Bookmark 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.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, but could you please not make too much noise? My brother is trying to rest…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Yuri! How are you feeling? Are you in distress? Do you need a shoulder to cry on!?”Bookmark here

“I-I’m fine, it’s my brother who’s in pain…”Bookmark here

“Oh, nonsense! Emotional pain is just as horrible— nay, worse, than physical pain! Oh, sweet Yuri, how you must be suffering right now…”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Who is this guy? Why is he so chummy with Yuri? And who the hell are all these girls?Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

Yuri looks at Romeo, and gasps quietly.Bookmark here

“Ah, Romeo! I was looking for you. I'm sorry for ignoring you before, I was just so focused on my brother…”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“No, don’t worry about it.”Bookmark here

“Hm? Yuri, who is this gentleman?” asks Franz, who still hadn't let go of her hands.Bookmark here

“Ah, right! Romeo goes to school with me. He’s a friend.”Bookmark here

“…!”Bookmark here

A friend!? She called me her friend! Even though we’ve barely talked, she already thinks of me as a friend! Whoa!!Bookmark here

“...And this is Franz. He’s… also a friend.”Bookmark here

Huh. Well now Romeo doesn’t feel too good about a label that lumps him together with this clown.Bookmark here

Franz scoffs, smiling. He lets go of Yuri’s hands only to wrap an arm around her waist instead, pulling her close to himself.Bookmark here

“Come now, sweet Yuri. You don’t have to be shy about it. Tell him who I really am!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Franz…” she pleads quietly.Bookmark here

“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!”Bookmark here

“Franz, don't—”Bookmark here

Yuri tries to stop him immediately, but Franz continues, giving Romeo a smug, defiant look.Bookmark here

“Yuri is my fiancée.”Bookmark here

……….HAH?Bookmark here


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