Chapter 19:

Missing Piece


Oue and Franz decide to take their time chatting in the empty waiting room on the same floor before heading back to Endo. They sit next to one another, Franz busy arranging the flowers in his bouquet, and Oue enjoying his third pudding of the day.Bookmark here

“So, Franz,” Oue asks after another spoonful, “are those flowers for Endo?”Bookmark here

“Ah, yes, they are!” Franz perks up with a smile. Oue gives him a look.Bookmark here

“Uh…”Bookmark here

Before Oue can continue, Franz shakes his head.Bookmark here

“I know it’s not exactly his style to receive flowers as a get-well present, but I’m hoping he can understand that what matters is the thought behind them.”Bookmark here

“The thought, huh.” Oue takes another spoonful before continuing. “And what thought is that, exactly?”Bookmark here

“Pardon?”Bookmark here

“Oh, come on, Franz. No one would bring flowers to a guy like Endo when they know he'll hate them, never mind claim their intentions are honest. It’s simply not how it works. Trust me, I recognize sneaky business when I see it.”Bookmark here

Franz blinks, surprised, then laughs in a clearly fake but graceful manner.Bookmark here

“I told you, I’m just trying to get on his good side.”Bookmark here

“And this is how you’re doing it?”Bookmark here

“This,” Franz responds, gesturing at the flowers, “is an excuse to see him. All I want is to have a talk with him without my beloved Yuri around.”Bookmark here

“Yuri… Is that Endo’s sister?”Bookmark here

“Yes; my future wife.” Franz says, proudly. “I love her with all my heart, but when she’s around, there are certain things I cannot bring myself to ask Endo.”Bookmark here

“Oh?” Oue leans in, smelling some juicy gossip. “What kinda things?”Bookmark here

Franz twitches due to the proximity, but he's well-trained enough to keep up his dashing demeanor that he doesn't show his discomfort.Bookmark here

“Her brother— Well, if you share a room with him, you’ve probably noticed he’s, um, aggressive and hot-headed, yes?”Bookmark here

“Oh, like you wouldn’t believe.”Bookmark here

Right!?” Franz beams at the sudden emotional vindication, excited to continue. “It’s quite apparent, yet Yuri doesn’t seem to notice because none of that is ever directed at her! The thing is, I’ve heard rumors that he’s part of an evil delinquent organization of sorts!”Bookmark here

Oue leans away from him.Bookmark here

“Evil delinquent organization…? Do you mean a gang?Bookmark here

Franz gasps.Bookmark here

“Yes! A gang! I heard he’s part of a gang!”Bookmark here

Oue takes another spoonful of pudding as he tries to not roll his eyes.Bookmark here

“Jeez, you’re sheltered…”Bookmark here

“Come again?”Bookmark here

“Nothing, nothing.” Oue waves a hand dismissively. “Sooo, what do you know about Endo’s gang?”Bookmark here

Franz rubs his chin, pensive.Bookmark here

“Well, not much, really. That’s why I’d like to ask him directly if he’s involved in one. If he is, I’d like to bring Yuri with me back to my country as soon as possible to keep her away from dangerous fellows like him, even if they are related.”Bookmark here

“...Wow. That’s not creepy at all.”Bookmark here

“It’s not, because we’re in love,” Franz frowns. “She’ll be much happier over there, too. Lots of castles, like in the fairy tales she so adores. Besides, it’ll be good for her to stay away from this place, too. She’s gotten involved with another dangerous guy lately— an angry young man vying for her attention.”Bookmark here

“Look at you!” Oue elbows him playfully. “You have a love rival and everything!”Bookmark here

Franz, however, does not seem amused by this remark at all.Bookmark here

“Please stop. It’s not funny; it’s a very sensitive matter. I’m only in the country under the pretext of watching over Endo’s health, which means I must return when he recovers— and if I return without Yuri, that means she has unlimited time to spend with her new ‘friend’ doing who-knows-what.”Bookmark here

Oue shakes his head slowly as he scrapes the last of the pudding from his little plastic cup.Bookmark here

“Franz, my guy, you’re batshit crazy.”Bookmark here

Franz’s eyes open wide like saucers as he leans away from Oue with a dramatic gasp, scandalized by his crude words.Bookmark here

What did you just say!?”Bookmark here

Oue shrugs, tossing the empty cup at a nearby trash can with zero accuracy. He clicks his tongue.Bookmark here

“I said you’re crazier than possessive boyfriends in TV dramas.” He takes out a pair of latex gloves from his pocket and starts putting them on. “Your girl can’t have any friends? How bonkers insecure is that?Bookmark here

“Oh, zip it, Oue!” Franz snaps at him, no longer using his polite, princely voice. “You don’t know the guy she was with! He had a bruise on his face and what I’m pretty sure was blood on his gaudy red coat! The way that fake blond jerk’s posture and the way he talked… That guy is definitely a delinquent, too!”Bookmark here

Oue, who got up to pick up the cup and drop it in the trash can along with his used gloves, flinches and turns around to look at Franz in bewilderment.Bookmark here

“...A red coat and dyed hair, you say?”Bookmark here

“Yes!” Franz points the bouquet at Oue, annoyed. “That vulture saw my Yuri alone and defenseless and immediately went for the kill!”Bookmark here

Oue walks back to his chair and sits down with a poignant frown.Bookmark here

“...No way...”Bookmark here

Franz looks at him, confused, but then realizes he's ruined all his hard work arranging the bouquet and begins fixing it again in a panic. Oue looks at him, and his expression slowly changes from a frown to a grin.Bookmark here

“Do you happen to know the name of this delinquent in the red coat?”Bookmark here

Ugh. Yes. His name is Romeo.”Bookmark here

Pfft!” Oue barely manages to cover his mouth before he bursts out laughing. Franz looks at him with disgust.Bookmark here

“What?” he points at him with the bouquet again, flustered. “What’s so funny!? Do you know him, too!? Is he friends with Endo? Is he your friend? Are you also a delinquent!?”Bookmark here

Oue can’t contain himself anymore, laughing uncontrollably for a few seconds more before catching his breath.Bookmark here

“Sorry, sorry! Phew… Oh, man, eeeverything makes sense now… the last piece of the puzzle, the reason that idiot is trying so hard… I can’t believe it all comes down to a girl, of all things, haha…”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

“Ah, don’t worry about it,” Oue says as he wipes a small tear from his eye. Franz tilts his head, completely oblivious to the powerful piece of information he had just given Pain Killer Oue, who’s looking at him with a smile.Bookmark here

“Let’s go bring Endo his pudding before he gets even angrier at us, yeah?”Bookmark here

* * *Bookmark here

When they finally return to the room, Endo’s on his bed, idly browsing the channels on the hospital TV. Endo snaps at Oue the moment he walks in.Bookmark here

“What the hell took you so long!?”Bookmark here

Oue simply smirks, unaffected. He feels untouchable now that, in his head, he possesses all the power in the universe.Bookmark here

“Someone’s here to see you.”Bookmark here

“Hello, Endo,” Franz appears from behind Oue, holding the bouquet in his hands, smiling in his usual, charming way. “I hope you’re feeling better today.”Bookmark here

Endo grimaces.Bookmark here

“Shit. It’s you. Whaddya want?”Bookmark here

“I came here to bring you some flowers and check on you. I hope everything has been going well?”Bookmark here

“Cut the act, dumbass. Yuri ain’t here.”Bookmark here

Franz’s eyebrow twitches, struggling to stay in character. Oue snickers and walks over to Endo, jiggling the little pudding cup so he can take a good look at it before he sets it down on the nightstand.Bookmark here

“Now, now, Endo. Don’t be mean to your brother-in-law. Oh, yes, he told me aaall about it.”Bookmark here

Endo scoffs. “Did he forget to tell you he’s delusional?”Bookmark here

Franz squeezes the bottom of the bouquet in anger, but calms himself with a deep breath. Oue climbs back onto his own bed.Bookmark here

“Haha. Franz is a good guy, even if he's a little strange. I think you should support his engagement to your sister, if you ask me. He is the better choice, after all.”Bookmark here

“The hell’s that mean? Better than what?”Bookmark here

“Nothing, really—” Bookmark here

Endo’s phone suddenly begins buzzing on the table. Both Oue and Endo look at it. The screen shows an unknown number.Bookmark here

“Huh. It’s the same number that called me yesterday.”Bookmark here

“Pick it up, then! Maybe you do have one friend out there after all!”Bookmark here

Franz places the flowers in the (recently replaced) vase as he watches Endo pick up the phone.Bookmark here

“Yeah? Who’s this? ………..Huh? What kind of stupid name is Cooking Pot?”Bookmark here

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