Chapter 18:

Chapter 13: Feather Trail (Part 2)

Flight of The Blackbird


“Tomoe, get back!” I shouted, to which she responded by falling over the chair and using it as cover.Bookmark here

Three gunshots ripped through my front door, narrowly missing my abdomen. The shots reverberated throughout the hallway, but died on the walls. For… safety purposes, the entire floor I lived on had been soundproofed by Oakman’s construction team before I moved in. He had foreseen even a situation like this. However, I didn’t have time to thank him, as I had a psychopath to deal with at the momentBookmark here

He came here with no plan, no backup, nothing! Does he have a death wish or something?Bookmark here

The fat man from a few weeks ago simply laughed the most insane laugh I’d ever heard and tried to formulate sentences.Bookmark here

“DID I GET YA?! HUH?!” He screamed, completely unhinged.Bookmark here

I backed up against the wall and formulated a plan. Bookmark here

He’s gone completely apeshit, and he’s got to be on heatblast or something. No normal human acts like this. But… I can use this to my advantage. If I trap the doorway, he won’t even see it coming. He’ll try to come in, lose a foot and I'll get what I need from him, then do what I should have done weeks ago.Bookmark here

I shot my sharp wire at one end of the doorway, about a foot above the ground, then attached the other end to the wall next to me. Then, I reached over to the doorknob and clicked it open ever so slightly.Bookmark here

My plan worked.Bookmark here

The man barreled through the door like a gorilla in a roid rage, and immediately toppled over, the stump where his leg was shooting a geyser of blood out onto the neat, marbled flooring. As I expected, there was heatblast in his system. His blood was more orange than red, and there was no pained scream, just more insane laughter. I ignored this fact, however, grabbing him by the collar and hoisting him upwards onto his one good leg, then pinning him up against the wall. My coolheaded facade had shattered, and in my mind, I felt nothing but pure rage.Bookmark here

“WHY DID YOU COME BACK HERE,” I screamed at him, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?! WHY DO YOU KEEP CHASING TOMOE.”Bookmark here

YOU WON’T GET ANYTHING OUT OF ME!” he shouted back.Bookmark here

“TELL ME WHY YOU’RE HERE, NOW!” Bookmark here

I wrapped my wire around one of his fingers, determined to slice it off if I didn’t get an answer. He said nothing, just laughed maniacally. I pulled the wire taut, and heard a faint schtk. The finger dropped to the ground. I lowered my voice to a whisper and spoke with enough venom to make a rattlesnake jealous.Bookmark here

“How about now, who sent you.” Bookmark here

He wasn’t so courteous, continuing to yell.Bookmark here

“YOU’LL NEVER FIND HIM!”Bookmark here

I let out a breath. Bookmark here

No use screaming my lungs out for it to fall upon deaf ears. This fight’s over, I'm not dealing with this anymore. You made your last mistake fucking with me for a second time. Time to end your miserable excuse for a life.Bookmark here

I dragged his flailing body over to my balcony and opened the sliding glass door, praying Tomoe wouldn’t come out from behind the couch. I didn’t want her to see me like this. I looked like the devil, dripping with someone else’s blood. There wasn’t a single shred of mercy left in me.Bookmark here

I rappeled up the wall, then I shot my wire at the man, crudely attached him to it, then pulled him up with me. He landed on the roof with a thunk, nearly unconscious. I kicked his stump leg with visceral rage. He screamed out in pain, meaning the heatblast was finally starting to wear off. The maniacal laughter stopped too, his face instead morphing into a twisted agony. It seemed I couldn’t just kill him just yet, I wanted to make him hurt.Bookmark here

“I didn’t say you could sleep yet, you son of a bitch,” I growled at him.Bookmark here

Tears streamed down his plump face as he groaned and rolled around. I continued speaking.Bookmark here

“Tell me who sent you and I’ll end all this pain quickly,” I spat.Bookmark here

“Ha… hahaha…” he choked out, “you look like a monster right now.”Bookmark here

“SHUT UP,” I screamed and whipped my wire down onto his stomach. It bounced off but tore through his shirt and left a welt. Bookmark here

“K… keep on hitting me, you’re only proving my-” he coughed blood up onto his shirt.Bookmark here

“I SAID SHUT UP,” I hit him once again, tearing his shirt more and leaving another bruise.Bookmark here

I’m losing my cool, he’s just messing with me. I need to calm d-Bookmark here

“Guess that’s what happens when you grow up without a parent,” He said, snickering through the pain coursing through his entire body.Bookmark here

I snapped.Bookmark here

“What was that?” I said, eerily calm.Bookmark here

“I said-” He began.Bookmark here

He didn’t finish.Bookmark here

I slid out the sharpened wire and slammed it down on his arm, chopping it off at the elbow. He screamed, a guttural, primal mix of pain and rage. The tears, however, were coming from me. I kept slamming it down on him, over and over, until he was nothing but a pile of flesh and organs.Bookmark here

“KEEP… MY PARENTS… OUT OF… YOUR FUCKING… MOUTH!” I screamed between hits.Bookmark here

There was no response, and even if there was I couldn't hear it. I was blinded and deafened with rage and agony. I kept slamming my arms down until they felt like they were going to fall off. I couldn’t… no… I didn’t want to stop.Bookmark here

“AHHHHH DIE! DIE! FUCKING DIE!” I screamed.Bookmark here

Kill...Bookmark here

KILL...Bookmark here

KILL UNTIL THERE’S NOTHING LEFT! MAKE HIM PAY FOR EVERYTHING! YOUR PARENTS DEATHS, TOMOE’S FEAR, HIS OWN CRIMES, KILL HIM FOR EVERY REASON! YOU KNOW HE DESERVES IT! KEEP CHOPPING, YOU KNOW IT’S THE ONLY THING YOU’RE GOOD AT. KEEP KILLING! KEEP GOING! KEEP GOING! KEEP-Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

I felt two arms. They wrapped around my own, pulling them in tightly. Were they trying to restrict my movements? Calm me down? Was it my parents from Heaven? I couldn’t tell. But the arms, they felt… so nice… and loving. I didn’t want to fight them. I needed to calm down.Bookmark here

I stopped screaming and slashing. I was panting, out of breath and tired. In front of me was the corpse of a man I truly hated, with every fiber of my being. If you could even call it that. There was nothing left… just a pile of gore.Bookmark here

“I… did this?” I croaked, suddenly full of remorse. “What have I done…”Bookmark here

“It’s alright, it’s alright, just calm down… please,” said a small voice from behind me. Bookmark here

Is that… Tomoe? What is she doing here? Bookmark here

“Why… are you here?” I asked dejectedly.Bookmark here

You weren’t supposed to see this. This was the one thing that I didn’t want you to know. I lost control… I could have killed you… what is wrong with you…? Why’d you throw yourself into danger?Bookmark here

The thoughts bounced around my head and there was nothing I could do to stop them. The floodgates had shattered. I stumbled, nearly falling on top of Tomoe, but she was surprisingly strong, and was able to hold me in place. Bookmark here

“I… need to make a call… I have to tell Oakman.”Bookmark here

I reached for my cell phone, but my hand was stopped by Tomoe’s, who moved her arm to stop me. Bookmark here

“No… not now… just sit down,” she said, “please.”Bookmark here

Please.Bookmark here

She was crying. I could feel her tears soak through the back of my blood-soaked shirt. Bookmark here

No… don’t do that. Please… I can’t make you cry too. I didn’t want it to be this way… why? Why did I have to do this? Why did I brutalize this man, he didn’t deserve everything I did. I didn’t want to become just another criminal… I wanted to help people. What have I done…?Bookmark here

She pulled me down onto the gravel-floored roof. The blood on my shirt had already dried, so none of it got on her, but I still felt dirty touching her. She sat against the barrier and laid my head down onto her legs. Her fingers ran through my hair with the tenderness of a mother. Bookmark here

After all I’ve done… she still cares for me. She’s still here. I think… I think I can trust this girl with everything. All of my struggles. She’s the one.Bookmark here

For the first time in hours, a faint smile danced across my lips. I looked up into her eyes, still dripping with tears.Bookmark here

“Thank you,” I whispered, just audibly for her to hear.Bookmark here

“Next time,” She whispered back, “trust me with everything… so you don’t do this again. It hurts to see you lose yourself. Please, please… don’t do this.”Bookmark here

“I… will…”Bookmark here

And with that, I drifted off to sleep.Bookmark here

*** *** ***Bookmark here

When my consciousness returned to me, my head was still cradled in Tomoe’s arms. She had also fallen asleep, and had drool running out of the corner of her mouth.Bookmark here

So cute…Bookmark here

I carefully lifted my head and sat upright. I was still shaken from what had happened, but I was in a much better frame of mind thanks to Tomoe. With my back against the wall, I listened to her breathing in the otherwise silent midnight air. It’s a calming sound, the breaths of someone you love. Bookmark here

Unfortunately, the moment was ruined by the reminder that I still had a crime scene to clean up. I stood up, went to the other corner of the roof, and pulled out my cell phone. The number to Oakman was preset into my phone, so I tapped the button and sent the call. He picked up on the first ring.Bookmark here

“Unusual for you to call so late at night… what happened?”Bookmark here

“There was a break-in at my house. I disposed of him, but I need the clean-up crew to get what’s left of him out of here.”Bookmark here

“Understood. I’ll send them over. You’ll have to stay out of your apartment for a little while, is that possible?”Bookmark here

“That’s preferred actually, I have something I need to do.”Bookmark here

“Is that young girl still with you?”Bookmark here

“Yeah… she’s asleep on the roof.”Bookmark here

His voice went deadly serious for a moment.Bookmark here

“You know you two will need to make your decision about her soon, correct?”Bookmark here

“Yes, I know. Why do I need to choose though? There are people that know about us and don’t need to be killed and inducted.”Bookmark here

“Benny’s became a front for our business, so everyone working at Benny’s knows about us. You know this, so why are you asking?”Bookmark here

“Just mindless conjecture.”Bookmark here

He could be heartless when talking about business, even with me.Bookmark here

“So the clean-up crew will be here soon, correct?”Bookmark here

“Yes, vacate the room and bring Tomoe home. I’ll talk to you soon.”Bookmark here

“Yes sir, have a good night.”Bookmark here

I hung up the phone and slid it back into my pocket. Tomoe looked to be peacefully dreaming, so I chose to let her sleep as long as possible. I went downstairs and took a fast shower and threw on a third set of clean clothes for the day, then went back up to the roof to collect her.Bookmark here

I poked her in the arm to rouse her from her rest.Bookmark here

“Huh… wha…” she sputtered incoherently before turning bright red, “D-did you… see me sleeping?” Bookmark here

“Maybe… just a little,” I teased.Bookmark here

“Jerk… now I’ll tell everyone how you slept like a baby in my lap,” she said with a devilish grin.Bookmark here

My face went red as well, and I looked away from her, embarrassed.Bookmark here

“Damn you…”Bookmark here

She laughed an easy, glee-filled laugh, as if she didn’t remember what had happened just a few hours prior. I stuck my hand out to her to help her up, then pulled her to her feet. When I tried to pull my hand back, she squeezed hers a little bit.Bookmark here

“Don’t… don’t let go yet,” She said in a small voice.Bookmark here

I guess she hasn’t forgotten yet. I’m sorry.Bookmark here

I held on to her hand as I led her down the stairs and to the elevator to the first floor. She yawned a few times in the short walk, and got really close to me. When we got onto the elevator, she leaned her head on my shoulder and nearly fell asleep again. I had to poke her cheek to keep her awake. Bookmark here

You know… I can only take so much cuteness before I contract diabetes. Bookmark here

I practically dragged her along as we walked from my apartment to her house. She complained the whole way, constantly reminding me that she was tired or that she wanted me to carry her. After a while, I finally gave in.Bookmark here

“Fine, I’ll carry you,” I sighed.Bookmark here

“Why thank you,” she said with a tired smirk, “My noble steed.”Bookmark here

“Or maybe I’ll throw you into the road.”Bookmark here

I kneeled down and she climbed onto my back. She wrapped her legs around my waist and I carted her from that spot on the sidewalk to her house. Bookmark here

She’s surprisingly extremely light. Or maybe I’m just strong. Both? Who knows...Bookmark here

I grappled with meaningless thoughts while I walked. She eventually nodded off and rested her head on my shoulder again.Bookmark here

We arrived at her house about ten minutes later. I went up to the door and knocked, Tomoe still on my back and asleep. Her mother answered the door after only a few seconds, and ushered me inside. I put her daughter down onto the couch, somehow managing not to wake her.Bookmark here

I went to the front door, but Tomoe’s mother stopped me from leaving.Bookmark here

“Reiji, please. You look exhausted,” She stated, “Can I get you something to eat or drink?”Bookmark here

“Oh no, I can’t possibly intrude any longer than I already have at this hour,” I replied awkwardly.Bookmark here

“No please, I insist.”Bookmark here

She’s not going to take no for an answer…Bookmark here

“Alright… then if you don’t mind, I could really use some coffee. The stuff I make for myself isn’t exactly the greatest.”Bookmark here

“Of course. Just sit down in the kitchen.”Bookmark here

I did as I was told, and minutes later a cup of iced coffee, that I must add was delicious, was in front of me. I gulped it down like I hadn’t had anything to drink in days.Bookmark here

“Reiji,” Tomoe’s mother began, “I want to thank you for everything that you do for my daughter. I notice the things you do, like walking her home from school and fighting that snobby brat on her behalf. As her mother, it means the world to me. Though I have also noticed that you’ve been spending more and more time together. What’s the deal with that?”Bookmark here

I choked on my coffee.Bookmark here

“Uhm… uh….” My brain shut off entirely, leaving me scraping for an answer that simply wasn’t there.Bookmark here

She just laughedBookmark here

“Oh, I’m just teasing you. You’ve proven to me that you have nothing but good intentions and love for my daughter, and that’s all I need to know. Now go home, get some sleep, and I’m sure we’ll see you tomorrow.”Bookmark here

Oh, thank God.Bookmark here

“Goodnight, ma’am. And thank you for the coffee, now I’ll have enough energy to drag myself home.”Bookmark here

“Any time, Reiji, you’re always welcome here.”Bookmark here

I sipped the last bits of my coffee down, put the glass in the dishwasher, then made my way out the door.Bookmark here

Sleep well, Tomoe. Goodnight.Bookmark here

With that, I started toward home. Bookmark here

The walk was not at all unpleasant, and I still had that warm, fuzzy feeling in my chest the whole way home. When I got back, the cleaning crew’s car was gone, meaning that they’d gotten in and out in the hour and thirty minutes I’d been gone.Bookmark here

They really do some amazing work…Bookmark here

I took the elevator up to the soundproofed fifteenth floor, and saw that the hallway was sparkling clean. I didn’t even bother to check the roof, being so tired I could barely stay upright. Bookmark here

I stumbled into my apartment, locked the door and the deadbolt, then crashed into bed. My eyes shut and I passed out immediately, not a thought in my head.Bookmark here

Okay… maybe there was one. Bookmark here

Thank you Tomoe, you saved me out there. And your hands feel nice… I hope I can hold them again tomorrow.Bookmark here

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