Chapter 6:

Summer Fireworks


War!?Bookmark here

Jojo's voice echoes, dumbfounded. Amon doesn’t bother looking at him, keeping his eyes fixed on Romeo— who looks just as surprised, but not in a stupid way like Jojo. Oue scoffs, crossing his arms and shaking his head with an exaggerated sigh. Bookmark here

“What did you think would happen, hm? You thought you’d take down our biggest enemy and then waltz out with zero consequences? Please.Bookmark here

Amon takes out another cigarette from his pocket and lights it up, as if giving Romeo and Jojo time to process the absurd news they'd just heard. Romeo growls quietly under his breath, realizing he should have seen this coming from Amon, who loves power more than anything— so much, in fact, that he made himself a garbage throne in this dumpster of a hideout.Bookmark here

“Like I said, I didn’t mean to take him out. I obviously wasn’t thinking of the consequences or whatever. But this ‘war’ thing is stupid. They outnumber the Makai gang tenfold; there’s no way we can challenge them and win, even with Endo out of the picture”Bookmark here

Oue scowls as he steps closer to Romeo, bringing his hands to his hips.Bookmark here

“You do realize you were the one that forced us into this situation, don’t you? We have to clean up your mess before things get any worse.”Bookmark here

Romeo finally looks away from the Makai leader and looks at Oue instead. Loathe as he is to admit it… Oue had a point.Bookmark here

...Ugh.Bookmark here

“I still think I've done more than enough, but something tells me you guys have other plans for me.”Bookmark here

“That’s exactly right, Bloody Bat Romeo! How perceptive of you!”Bookmark here

“No, I think it was pretty obvious…” Jojo adds quietly.Bookmark here

“Whatever it is, I’m not interested.”Bookmark here

Amon closes his eyes and takes another languid drag from his cigarette, exhaling softly. When there’s no more smoke in his lungs, he opens his eyes again in that same slow fashion.Bookmark here

“I’ll cut you a deal.”Bookmark here

“Uh, maybe you couldn’t hear me from up there. I said I’m not interested.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, you tell ‘em, Boss!” Jojo backs him up, waving a fist in the air. Bookmark here

Oue puts a hand on his chest, offended by Jojo calling someone other than Amon "Boss." Amon seems unfazed by this, as usual, and continues.Bookmark here

“...I’ll let you leave the gang.”Bookmark here

“—Hah!?Bookmark here

Romeo jolts up, his eyes widening in surprise. Selfish, unpredictable Amon, offering to let someone get away with bending his arbitrary rules… it was completely unheard of. Bookmark here

“D-Don’t listen to him, Boss! It’s a trap!” Jojo cuts in again, waving his arms to try and get Romeo’s attention. Unfortunately, Romeo is glaring at Amon even harder.Bookmark here

Yeah, there’s probably a catch, huh. But maybe…Bookmark here

“Ugh, you gotta stop calling Bloody Bat Romeo ‘Boss,’ idiot. It’s like you want to get hurt!”Bookmark here

“That’s you, Pain Killer Oue!”Bookmark here

“So? What if I do, huh!?”Bookmark here

“At least have enough shame to deny it!”Bookmark here

Oue and Jojo’s ridiculous conversation isn’t enough to make either Romeo or Amon break eye contact. With Amon so obviously dangling bait right in front of him, Romeo has no choice but to tug on the lure himself.Bookmark here

“...In exchange for what?”Bookmark here

For a moment, it almost seems like Amon’s sharp eyes shine in the dark. He takes another drag of his cigarette and exhales, crossing his legs with one heel resting over his knee. Bookmark here

“For victory.”Bookmark here

Would it kill you to speak normally?Bookmark here

“Allow me, Boss,” jumps in Oue, reaching into his pocket. He unfolds a piece of paper into a large map marked by a few red circles around separate locations. Romeo and Jojo squint at the map, trying to decipher what the hell they’re looking at.Bookmark here

“The Kappore gang mostly operates on the opposite side of the city, right? Well, with Endo out of the way, we managed to find where their three main divisions operate, marked here, here, aaaand here. Heh. You probably figured it out by now, but this intel basically means—”Bookmark here

Romeo takes the map from him forcefully, looking at the red circles on the map in disbelief.Bookmark here

“No way... You found the hideout of the Summer Fireworks? All three of them!?”Bookmark here

“Summer what? Whazzat, Boss?” Jojo scratches his head.Bookmark here

Oue’s initial displeasure at having the map ripped from his hands immediately dissipates into a smirk, basking at the chance to once again do what he loves the most: explain things in the most annoying manner possible. Bookmark here

“Oh, you don’t know? Why am I not surprised? Ah, don’t answer that— it's rhetorical.” Bookmark here

“That wasn’t even a question for me to answer! Gah! Just shut up and tell me!”Bookmark here

Fiiine. The Summer Fireworks are the three strongest fighters from the Kappore gang, and they all command a small piece of their army in certain parts of the city— just like generals, you could say. Craaaazy strong. Raging Fist Endo might sit at the top, but it’s hard for a single monkey to control such a large territory on his own, right? That’s where these guys come in. With their leader gone, they’re the only ones keeping the entire gang together.”Bookmark here

Romeo’s hold on the map is so strong the paper begins to tear where his thumbs grip the edges. His eyes dart from circle to circle; his heart trembling with excitement.Bookmark here

The Summer Fireworks… I remember trying to take them out a few years back, but I never found all three ‘cause Endo’s lackeys kept getting in the way. Can’t believe it took getting rid of him to finally get this info… Bookmark here

“...You look happy, Bloody Bat Romeo.” Bookmark here

Amon’s voice snaps Romeo out of his thoughts, and guilt immediately floods him as he realizes he’s had a grin on his face this whole time. Wasn’t he supposed to become a better person for Yuri? He forces a frown again, looking up at the pile of chairs and the self-appointed king sitting on top, shoving the map blindly against Oue’s chest.Bookmark here

“...No. I’m not. This information means nothing to me now.”Bookmark here

“It does.”Bookmark here

“Yeah? How?Bookmark here

“They’re your ticket out of the Makai gang.”Bookmark here

“......”Bookmark here

“Defeat all three on your own, and I’ll let you go.”Bookmark here

Romeo has never had a harder time trying to keep the excitement off his face.Bookmark here

Whaaaaat!?” Jojo whines, panicking. “Pain Killer Oue just said these guys are craaaazy strong!” Bookmark here

For the first time, Amon cracks a smile.Bookmark here

“They’re still no match against him.”Bookmark here

“Still, all three!? Isn’t that too much!?” Bookmark here

Romeo stays silent, but only because he can feel how his mouth waters at the thought of crushing three of the most elusive enemies he’s ever had. He knows he shouldn’t be happy— they’re not his problem anymore. He doesn’t care. This is none of his business.Bookmark here

And yet…Bookmark here

“All three, huh...” Romeo repeats quietly. He slowly turns to look at his bat, wrapped up tight in bandages, before raising his head to look at Amon with an unreadable expression. “And then you’ll let me go for good?”Bookmark here

Boss!! What are you saying—!?” Bookmark here

Jojo desperately tries to get Romeo’s attention in vain, but his arm-flailing is not as effective as a single word from Amon.Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

“...I see.”Bookmark here

“No, Boss, think about this!” Jojo resorts to shaking Romeo’s shoulders instead. “He wants you to take them out on your own! That’s insane!”Bookmark here

Romeo swats Jojo’s hands away from him. Oue sighs and finishes folding the map again, tucking it back in his pocket with a shrug.Bookmark here

“I thought it was a strange plan at first, too, but our boss made a good point: Bloody Bat Romeo got Makai into this mess, so it's only natural that he should be the one to clean it up, right? He should be grateful our boss is giving him a chance to make up for what he did and get his unprecedented request to quit the gang before graduation considered at all!”Bookmark here

Jojo growls at Oue, but has no real retort. Bookmark here

“Okay, well, why doesn’t your boss do it instead, huh!? He’s the strongest guy around, ain’t he!?”Bookmark here

“Uh, because he’s too good for that, duh?”Bookmark here

Glowering, Jojo angles his head and scowls with the meanest gangster look he can muster, getting close enough to Oue their foreheads touch… until Oue turns his head away and sprays him with disinfectant again, and both begin to cough.Bookmark here

This is bad. It’s a step back from where I want to be, isn’t it. It puts me right in the middle of a gang fight that has nothing to do with me anymore, but… at the end of the day, it’s... not the worst thing, right? If I do this for the Makai, I’ll be able to put all this behind me, and then I’ll finally be able to—Bookmark here

“...Your answer.”Bookmark here

Amon’s voice resounds as Jojo and Oue’s coughs die off. Bookmark here

Romeo grits his teeth and tightens his grip on his bat as he pours over his options, the image of Yuri forming in his mind gradually crumbling to dust.Bookmark here

“I’ll do it.”Bookmark here

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