Chapter 25:

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 side by side, Franz busy arranging the flowers in his bouquet and Oue enjoying his third pudding of the day.

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

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


Before Oue can continue, Franz shakes his head.

“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.”

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


“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.”

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

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

“And this is how you’re doing it?”

“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.”

“Yuri… Is that Endo’s sister?”

“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.”

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

Franz twitches due to the proximity, but he's well-trained enough to keep up a dashing demeanor absent of all discomfort.

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

“Oh, like you wouldn’t believe.”

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!”

Oue leans away from him.

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

Franz gasps.

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

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

“Jeez, you’re sheltered…”

“Come again?”

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

Franz rubs his chin as he ponders briefly.

“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. She should stay away from dangerous fellows like him, even if they are related.”

“... Wow. That’s not creepy at all.”

“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’s for her own good to stay away from this place, too. She’s gotten involved with another dangerous guy lately— an angry young man vying for her attention.”

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

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

“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 will be around her new friend, doing who-knows-what without me to protect her.”

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

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

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

What did you just say!?”

Oue shrugs, tossing the empty cup at a nearby trash can and completely missing by a mile. He clicks his tongue.

“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?

“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 was most definitely 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!”

Oue flinches in the middle of retrieving the cup, his gloved hand hovering over the trash. He turns around to look at Franz in bewilderment.

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

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

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

“...No way...”

Franz looks at him, confused, but then he realizes all the hard work undone for 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.

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

Ugh. Yes. His name is Romeo.”

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

“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!?”

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

“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…”


“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 crucial piece of information he had just given Pain Killer Oue, who’s looking at him with a smile.

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

* * *

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.

“What the hell took you so long!?”

Oue simply smirks, unaffected. He feels untouchable now that his mind possesses all the secrets to the universe.

“Someone’s here to see you.”

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

Endo grimaces.

“Shit. It’s you. Whaddya want?”

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

“Cut the act, dumbass. Yuri ain’t 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.

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

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

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

“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.”

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

“Nothing, really—”

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

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

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

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

“Yeah? Who’s this?” Endo stares blankly for a long moment. “Huh? What kind of stupid name is Cooking Pot?”