Flight of The Blackbird
I led Kota, Shiro, and Tomoe to a door on the backside of Benny’s restaurant. It was an entrance to the building accessible only by family and employees, and I fell under both of those categories. I held my wrist up to the holokey reader on the door frame, and it flashed green. The locking mechanism disconnected, and I opened the door. The other three filed in before me so I could close and lock the door once again.
Now inside the building, there were a few doors leading to various locations throughout the restaurant. Benny had built this door system himself when the restaurant was first being constructed. The closest door on the left led to the kitchen, the one on the far right led to the eating area, the far left led to the break room, and the closest left led to a semi-secret meeting room that was very rarely used. I opened the left door and led the others inside, then shut and locked this door as well.
The room was soundproof for some reason that I assumed was on a need-to-know basis. Thankfully, that was exactly the kind of room that I needed. Only a select few employees and family members knew this room even existed, including myself, Kota, Benny, and Marie. The room smelled a bit musty, but it wasn’t unbearable. I directed the four of us to sit at the wooden table in the center of the room, me and Kota on one side, Shiro and Tomoe on the other.
The measures I was taking likely seemed a bit over the top to the already-confused Tomoe, but I assumed it’d all make sense once I disclosed the information to her. I folded my hands together, elbows up on the table, and took in a deep breath.
“Is this a good idea? Should I really do this?”
“You’ve already led her back here, there’s no turning back now.”
I let the air out of my lungs and began to speak.
“Alright… you want the truth, right?”
Tomoe nodded, fully invested. I glanced briefly at Kota and Shiro, who both nodded. Kota sent me a message using only his eyes
“She’s trustworthy. Go ahead.”
“Okay. The truth is…”
And so, I told her. I told her everything. About my parents’ murder six years prior, my training and current professions (without mentioning names, of course), my current objective, and what happened on the roof. She seemed a bit skeptical at first, but, as I suspected, she quickly pieced things together.
“That… honestly explains a lot,” she began. “Your ability to save me, the sudden transfer, your glares toward Andy, the sudden disappearances, the man trying to kill you, it all makes sense.”
She took that a lot better than I would have expected. I guess nothing really surprises a resident of the most corrupt city on the face of the Earth, huh?
“So you’re not… like… afraid of me now because I’ve killed people? You don’t hate me?” I asked, somewhat confused by her almost anticlimactic response.
In response to that, she only smiled a bit at me.
“No, of course I don’t. Why would I? You saved my life that day. He was going to kill me and you stopped that, so I have no reason to hate you. I’m sure that you don’t kill because you enjoy it, but rather because you want to protect the good people of this city. And honestly, you’re trying to avenge your parents. What business do I have being against that? If I had the chance to avenge my father-”
She suddenly stopped speaking completely and stared at the wall behind me, seemingly thinking really hard about something. Her eyes began to widen, tears streaming down her slim face.
“Reiji, how did you say your parents died again?” She asked, doing her best to keep her composure.
“They were murdered. It was initially ruled a hit and run car accident, but when the bodies were examined, they were riddled with holes and had a bunch of 9mm rounds stuck in them.”
She continued crying, only a little bit worse.
“And… where… did they work..?”
“For the RWMC… why?”
She whispered, her voice barely even audible.
“Those… are the exact same details… from my father’s death.”
My eyes immediately filled with an indescribable hatred. I slammed my hands on the table and stood up, about to bolt out the door. Kota shot up from his chair too, reading my train of thought, and grabbed me into a bear hug from behind.
“Reiji, no! You can’t do this yet! Think this through! It might just be a coincidence, and even if it’s not, you have to plan things out, first!”
“FUCK YOUR COINCIDENCES! AND YOUR PLANNING! I HAVE TO DO THIS RIGHT NOW, LET GO!”
“NO, YOU MORON! NOW ISN’T THE TIME FOR THIS! I JUST TOLD YOU THAT YOU NEED TO START BEING MORE CAREFUL! RECKLESSNESS WILL GET YOU KILLED TOO!”
Shiro stood up and walked in front of me, then uncharacteristically slapped me. Right across the face. The red I was seeing dwindled a bit. Her soft-spoken tone emanated throughout the room, making it all the more powerful.
“You idiot. If you charge in haphazardly now, it’ll be nothing but a suicide mission. You want to avenge your parents and Tomoe’s father? Be smart like you usually are.”
Her voice, small and quiet, was the one that pierced through my blind rage. Kota let go of me, and I plopped down on the ground, head in my hands.
“Shit… I’m sorry guys,” I said, ashamed.
Surprisingly, Tomoe stood up too and sat back down next to me.
“Are you alright?” she asked, genuinely concerned.
“Yeah… I… no… I don’t-,” I struggled to answer that question.
Instead of pressing me for an answer, she simply scooted closer to me and wrapped her arms around my torso, to which I hugged her back. Even Kota didn’t joke about this show of affection, knowing that now wasn’t the right time.
When we let go of each other, about three minutes had passed. Tomoe had stopped crying, and I had begun thinking clearly again. We both stood up and looked around the room awkwardly, until Kota brought us back to focus.
“Alright, so now Tomoe knows about what Reiji does and Reiji has another person to avenge. This has been a very long day and I gotta say, I’m pretty tired. Let’s wrap this up befo-”
Shiro chopped Kota in the back of the head with her hand, causing him to shut up. He rubbed the back of his head and made a “What’d I do?” face, to which Shiro promptly responded with “acted socially braindead,” gaining a laugh from all of us. The sour mood hadn’t disappeared entirely, but the comedy-skit relationship that Kota and Shiro had definitely helped lighten it.
And with that, I unlocked the door and we exited the building through the back. I offered to walk Tomoe home, an offer that she gratefully accepted. This time, Kota came in full force with the ridicule, but I was so mentally numb that it didn’t even affect me. I was too busy thinking about a game plan. My mind ran through a few things at once as Tomoe led me to her house.
I need to take down the RWMC, or at least cause a mutiny and turn everyone against Nicholas Russell. That man has had too many people murdered for me to ignore. I need to get rid of him, and I need to do it quickly. But how? He has a veritable army of mercenaries, hitmen, and employees that are loyal to his every word. It’s like going up against the commander of a damn army. What to do? But I also have to remember that his son is somehow connected to all of this, or I wouldn’t be after him first off. Damn it, my headache is returning…
Tomoe poked me on the arm, returning me from my mental void.
“Are you really alright?” She asked, still concerned for my mental state.
I smiled internally, grateful for her.
“She’s cute when she worries about us, you know? And when she hugged us, genuinely caring...”
“Shut up! Not helpful!”
The two Reijis bickered once again, and I tried to shut them out.
“Yeah… I’m fine,” I explained, “I’ve just got a lot on my mind right now. I have a lot of work to do, and very little time to do it all.”
“Well… if it’s any consolation, I’m willing to do anything that I can to help. Don’t suffer alone and work so hard for everyone around you that you forget to worry about yourself. I’m here if you ever need me, it’s the least I can do for you.”
“Okay… I’ll admit. That was cute.”
“See, I told you.”
Wondering why that was the only thing my two remaining brain cells could agree on, I made an effort to respond. While my mind didn’t like to admit it, what she said to me had really touched me. I needed someone I could talk to about the stress of what I do. It’s not an easy job, and many of the things I had done weighed heavily on my mind.
“I… uh…” I muttered, trying to figure out what to say.
I decided that just being honest was the best way to do things. I lied to so many people on a daily basis, it was refreshing to have someone I could be honest with.
“Thank you, Tomoe. I really appreciate it… I need someone I can talk to,” I said to her smiling face.
Her smile grew even wider once I said those words, and she let out a cartoonishly fake sigh of relief, then burst into laughter.
“Phew,” She said through her giggles. “I thought you were gonna be one of those edgy, brooding “I'm gOnNa HaNdLe It AlL oN mY oWn” type of people.”
“Is that really what you think I’d do? I have enough tact to accept even if I didn’t appreciate it, which I do,” I groaned.
Her giggles continued until we reached her home. This time around, someone, who I assumed was her mother, was standing on the porch. They looked extremely similar, though Tomoe was an inch or two taller, standing at about five foot five. I was taller than both of them at around six-foot. Her mother’s face was also a little bit wrinkled, so I assumed she was in her late forties. She waved to Tomoe, who sped up to greet her. They hugged and Tomoe introduced me to her.
“Reiji, this is my mother. Mom, this is my new friend from school and the boy who saved me a few days ago, Reiji.”
I stuck out my hand, which she took and shook lightly.
“Nice to meet you, ma’am.”
“Likewise. Thank you very much for helping my daughter. As her mother, it means the world to me.”
Her voice was sweet, and it reminded me of my own mother. This time, however, the bitterness didn’t could my mind. I simply felt… welcomed. I smiled awkwardly, having no earthly idea how to respond to her thankfulness.
“Uhm… you’re welcome,” I responded sheepishly.
She simply chuckled at my awkwardness, possibly making fun of me internally. I pushed that admittedly gut-wrenching thought from my head and turned back to Tomoe. However, she was also smiling at me in a way that made me want to curl up and die.
I want to go home…
Just barely pushing through the crushing awkwardness, I said goodbye to both of them and walked down their porch steps. Tomoe shouted goodbye sweetly to my back, making me smile like a fool.
She really is sweet, isn’t she…
Thoughts of her flitted through my mind as I walked home alone. I no longer had any questions about my mission.
I’ll avenge her father, just like I'll you guys, so just you wait. I’ll make the RWMC regret the day they took you from me. I love you, mom and dad.
End of Part 1