Chapter 24:

Visages Bounded Beyond Time

X = Y

The night had grown older but not old enough to pass. The night was still strong in stature, and the moon rose past its zenith. Celestial bodies within the night, irradiating the sky, observers that disappeared within the day, recorded everything which unfolded that night.Bookmark here

In his car, driving down the roads of Toshi City, Kei made it to Rei, with the rain beginning to subside. Standing under the shelter within the apartment building, Rei watched Kei in a manner forgotten by Kei. His face was angry yet pliant and disconcerted. The night had taken its toll on him, mentally and physically.Bookmark here

"Come upstairs first. It's your job to figure out what happened to Risa..." Rei spoke lifelessly.Bookmark here

"The scarf is to hide your identity, right?" Kei added.Bookmark here

"If you knew, then why did you ask?" Rei responded spitefully.Bookmark here

Now, stood in front of the hanging body, Kei would have entered a state of disbelief, but he had become conditioned to seeing this. His mood, suppressed, but he still felt unsettled.Bookmark here

"Risa..." Kei whispered.Bookmark here

"She either took her own life, or someone made her." said Rei, his hand in his pockets.Bookmark here

"Why do you say that?" Kei responded.Bookmark here

"The police officers you sent here, their bodies are around the corner. Someone got to her before they could, and look at what they did." Rei said, with resentment mounting inside himself.Bookmark here

Kei looked carefully at her neck, and he saw the faintest indent made against it. He began running out of Risa' bedroom, and Rei remained oblivious to his plan.Bookmark here

"Where are you going?" Rei said.Bookmark here

"Just wait and stay here." Kei said.Bookmark here

He came back with his duffle bag, wearing plastic gloves, with his camera around his neck. He took pictures of the entire scene, cycling through them on his camera. He brought it up to Rei's face, who looked startled.Bookmark here

"Look. Finger marks on her neck." Kei picked up the note that was on the floor, walking towards her desk. "Hair on the desk." He opened up the drawers and found a pen, crushed into scraps, the ink cartridge still leaking. "Whoever did this didn't think it through." Kei said.Bookmark here

Rei walked up to the open drawer, noticing the shattered pen. "Whoever did this was hired, and their boss doesn't care about what happens to them." Rei said seriously at Kei.Bookmark here

"Let's get out of here. I don't want to see this in front of me..." Rei said, thinking about the body hung there.Bookmark here

In the car, Rei sat there looking at the technology Kei was using. He put the duffle bag into the car, and police arrived. He spoke to them and entered the driver's seat, putting on his seatbelt.Bookmark here

"Did you get all the evidence you needed from the police and the apartment?" Rei questioned.Bookmark here

"Yeah. I got it. I'm taking this to the forensic scientists in the City. I have a question for you, Rei. How did you get that strong? To be able to dislocate someone's jaw like that requires strength." Kei said.Bookmark here

"What are you talking about? Did you go to Abe's apartment?" Rei inquired back.Bookmark here

"Yeah. You told me you rescued her." Kei responded.Bookmark here

"I trained for five years and learnt all the Martial Arts I could. I told you I would." said Rei, sincerely saddened.Bookmark here

"Let's set off back to the department. Abe should be there." Kei said.Bookmark here

"Meya's there too. Didn't she add you to a group chat that all our classmates were a part of?" Rei said.Bookmark here

"No. I didn't know Meya even made one. What for? To warn everyone?" Kei said.Bookmark here

"Yeah. Let's get there and we can talk about it." Rei responded.Bookmark here

Inside the police department, Abe was waiting inside of a room used to interrogate people. The door opened, and she was surprised at the sight of Meya, but surprised happiness turned into grief. Meya was crying, and Abe could feel despair radiate towards her.Bookmark here

"Meya? What happened..." Abe questioned.Bookmark here

"Risa...she's dead." said Meya.Bookmark here

Immersed in sorrow, remorse, and anguish deeper than the ocean, Abe's heart began pounding against her chest. All the memories of her, Meya, and Risa flared in her mind, and the best memories made themselves known. Her smile, her charm, the feeling her presence emitted, all dissolved away immediately. Tears, representative of the memories, abruptly slid down her face, lost from this world entirely.Bookmark here

"No...that can't be...Risa..." Abe said to herself in agony.Bookmark here

She stood up, nearing Meya, hugging her tightly, her arms clasped around her, squeezing, with tears and shivers.Bookmark here

The car Kei was driving was nearing its destination. Looking around to ensure no one suspicious was following them, Rei remained vigilant, though both were distracted by the conversation between them.Bookmark here

"Risa's gone, Abe nearly went, and Kazunori's gone. Who even are these gangsters! Why are they doing this? It's making me so angry! I want to kill them!" Rei exclaimed.Bookmark here

"Is that what you learnt over the past five years? To mercilessly kill?" Kei spoke snidely. "Look, I'm sorry for saying that. We have all the evidence we need. Where are you going to stay?" Kei spoke with a dour face.Bookmark here

"No, you're right. I had a master, no, many masters. The first one told me not to seek vengeance, and there was a greater purpose I had to find. I'm doing this because they're our friends, and we owe them. What have you been doing then?" Rei added regretfully.Bookmark here

"I've been studying criminology and forensic science. I've worked as a police officer, a detective and a lab scientist." Kei added. "We're here."Bookmark here

Kei parked in front of the station, and the police were still abundant in numbers, patrolling the area. Both brothers began walking in, Kei carrying his duffle bag and briefcase when an officer approached them.Bookmark here

"Officer Akashi. You must be detective Kei. Come this way. We've gathered information, and there are people waiting for you." Akashi said, showing his identification card.Bookmark here

"Right." Kei responded.Bookmark here

"I recognise you by the scarf and the clothing. He was with me when we saved Meya and unfortunately saw the other girl." Officer Akashi spoke considerately towards Rei.Bookmark here

"Just take us to Meya and Abe." Rei said.Bookmark here

They began walking towards the room they were in, opening the door, both sitting on the chair with tissues wiping the tears away.Bookmark here

"Kei!" Meya exclaimed, her eyes like the sea, filled with vast gloom farther than the eye could see.Bookmark here

Abe and Meya stood up, concerned about the brothers.Bookmark here

"Thank you for saving my life." Abe looked at Rei with tender eyes.Bookmark here

"No. I didn't. Don't say that to me. I couldn't save Kazunori or Risa. I did this so I could get the gang, but I don't even know who did it." Rei said, defeated.Bookmark here

"That's not true. We have evidence here. Officer. Take this to the lab for investigation." Kei said.Bookmark here

He approached the table nervously, pulling out many plastic bags, his camera, and some samples in test tubes. Placing them on the table gently, he examined them one last time before leaving.Bookmark here

"I will." Officer Akashi responded.Bookmark here

"Where are you going to stay?" Kei asked Rei, concerned about his health.Bookmark here

"Why would you care?" Rei spoke, reprimanding Kei.Bookmark here

"I understand where the hatred comes from. What I said in the car was uncalled for. Come back with me. I may not have forgiven you for doing what you did to your parents or leaving someone important behind, but I can't let you run around like that. We may be at odds with each other, but I'll be there when you're at fault, and so will you." Kei said empathetically.Bookmark here

Memories, indicative of brotherhood, like tornadoes accumulating, rooting trees that stood in the way of its rampage, caused Rei's mind to devolve. His words ringing in his ears, making him breathless, and cognisance of familiarity provoked by his speech triggered delight and forgiveness inside.Bookmark here

"Where did you hear that from? Some loser told you, right?" Rei responded, his scarf hiding his grin. "Fine. We're not leaving this place."Bookmark here

"Who even is this to you? You guys still haven't told me his name." Akashi said whilst taking the evidence and placing it into a tray.Bookmark here

"He doesn't need a name because he doesn't have one. Leave it at that, Officer. We're going to be in a hotel room in the City. Is it possible to give Abe a new room? I can pay for it." Kei said.Bookmark here

"Pay for me? You don't have to. My parents can give me the money to." Abe responded.Bookmark here

"I'll take with the Superintendent or even the Chief Commisioner. We have to protect you two at all costs. The police will be around." Officer Akashi said.Bookmark here

"I'll see you two later. Abe. Meya." Rei responded, walking away with his head down in an oxymoronic mixture of delight and melancholy.Bookmark here

"I'll talk to him. You two can go home." Kei said, following after Rei.Bookmark here

With his hands in his pockets, Rei found Abe's phone and began staring at it closely. Emotions alleviated and returned, playing tricks on him. Rei's heart, thinking ignorantly, began palpitating whilst his mind had memories of her kindness. He turned around, walking past Kei to enter the room. Confused at first, Kei spotted the phone, understanding the situation his brother was attempting to resolve.Bookmark here

"Abe. Your phone. Here." Rei said, placing the phone on the table. "I'm sorry, again."Bookmark here

He tried walking away, but he stopped, hearing words he thought were undeserving of his actions.Bookmark here

"Rei. Thank you for everything." Abe said with a forced smile that had empathetic intentions.Bookmark here

Rei turned around, and upon seeing the smile, his dense, impregnable demeanour, embossed by lamenting and enormity, broke. Crying with gratefulness, he did not hesitate to keep staring at her.Bookmark here

"Rei..." Meya said softly.Bookmark here

"Everything is going to be okay, as long as you are." Abe spoke sweetly.Bookmark here

"Yeah...I wish I was as positive as you, Abe. Goodbye." Rei replied, turning around and walking to Kei.Bookmark here

"How long will all that evidence take to come back?" Rei asked sharply.Bookmark here

"In about a couple of hours. Let's first book a hotel room and get some sleep. Once we find out who set up the explosive and who did that to Risa, then we'll go after them straight away. Don't beat them up this time. We're here for information." Kei stated, criticising Rei this time.Bookmark here

Inside the hotel room in Toshi City, further away from Abe's apartment, they put their belongings down. Glimmers of light bestowed by the Sun create a halo of light in the sky, making the City barely visible. The hotel room consisted of a single room with two single beds, a small cubicle for a kitchen, a separate bathroom, and a television on the wall in front of the beds. Rei jumped onto the bed, with his body spread out like an eagle's wings. Kei sat down first before lying on his bed, yawning from a deficiency of sleep. Without saying a word, both brothers fall asleep.Bookmark here

Thus, with their day over, a more pressing day was yet to come, challenging the brothers in ways they could never imagine. The pieces fell into place, and the connections between the gangs would be revealed, shortly.Bookmark here

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