The station wagon stopped in front one of the small apartment building. I look at the apartment beside the car, noticing a few people exiting through the front door. My fingers begin to tap on the leather door panel.
"Are we here?" I ask while turning my head to Cindy.
"Yep. Her room is on the second floor," Cindy said.
"Where are we?" Kusagi asks from the backseat.
I turn my head to look at Kusagi, "We are at a friend place and you both will be staying here for tonight." I said.
"W-what? a-are you guys leaving us?" Kusagi ask.
"I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to steal Cindy money. Please don't throw us away," Kusagi pleads as she leans forward.
Catty look at me and Cindy then she held her rabbit stuffed animal closer to her chest. A look of worried don on her face, as she reaches for Kusagi hand. Kusagi turns to look at Catty when she pulls her hand.
"We promise, we will be good kids and not steal anymore!" Kusagi said as she looks at me with a tear coming out from the corner of her eyes.
"No! we are not throwing you both away," I reassure them both.
"You'll be staying here because it's becoming more dangerous over at our base," I said.
"Are you coming back to pick us up?" Kusagi ask.
"I... don't know," I answered.
"If you not coming back... Then, we are not staying here... We want to stay with you," Kusagi said.
"You can't... It's too dangerous," I said.
"Catty and I can take care ourselves. You don't need to worry about us," Kusagi said.
"I can't protect you guys, right now. Please. Just please stay here," I said.
"No! We still want to stay with you!" Kusagi stressed as she crossed her arms and showing her stubbornness.
"Kusagi!" I raise my voice at her.
Kusagi was snapped out from her stubbornness and a look of shocked appeared on her face. I look at her face that's on the verged of crying then I move my eyes to Catty, she lowers her head as her shoulder droop lower. I look away and raise my fist to hit the dashboard in front of me but stopped at the last moment. I let out a long sigh and massage the bridge of my nose.
"Kusagi and Cattty. Listen, we are not leaving guys behind. We just want to keep you safe for the moment and don't worry, we will come back to get you guys. Trust me," Cindy said.
"But, Haru said he doesn't know if he will come back or not," Kusagi said.
"Don't listen to him, you know how dangerous our work can be and Haru always get the most dangerous part of the mission but he always comes back, right?. So, don't worry, he just being pessimistic at the moment," Cindy said.
"You promise?" Kusagi ask.
"I promise," Cindy said, Kusagi look at me waiting for my answer.
"I promise.." I said.
"Now all of you get out of the car. I will be waiting in the car," Cindy said.
Catty, Kusagi and me, get out of the station wagon. After closing the car door behind us, we walk to the steps of the apartment and I push the doorbell where Lina room is.
"Who is it?" a voice unknown to me answered through intercom beside the doorbell button.
"Is this Lina Johnson resident?" I ask after pushing the intercom button.
"Yes?" The woman answer.
"I'm a friend of her," I said.
"Look, buddy, if you don't tell me your name, I ain't going to let you in," The woman said.
I let out a long sigh before speaking, "My name is Haru Tashikawa...".
There a long silence before the intercom let out a buzzing noise and the sound of the door unlocking can be heard.
"Come in," The woman said with a serious tone.
We push the door open, entering the building and walking up the stair until reaching the second floor. I walk down the empty hallway filled with door and toward Lina apartment doors. I knock on the wooden door, looking behind me to check whether Catty and Kusagi still there. Kusagi and Catty holding each other hand and looking depressed.
"I promise that I will come back, didn't I?" I said.
Catty and Kusagi nod their head slowly.
"Then, you can be sure that I will come back to get you" I assure them with a smile on my face.
My word and my smile help to raise their mood up a little bit. I know they want to stay with me but I need to keep them safe at the moment. I already promised them that I will come back then I will need to make sure that I come back to them.
I turned my body to face them both and squat down to their level. I extend both of my arms and hug them both tightly. They were surprised at first but they eventually return the hug. I let them go and pat the top of their head.
"You have to keep each other safe, okay?" I said.
They both nod their head at my word, Kusagi was on the verged of crying while Catty looks at me with a hopeful look.
"Stay strong..." I said as I wipe Kusagi tears away with one hand and place my other hand on Catty cheeks.
The sound of the apartment door opening can be heard coming from behind.
"Haru?" Lina said, her voice sounded confused.
I stood up and turn my body to face Lina. My eyes were greeted by Lina standing in the doorway. Somehow seeing her in regular clothing gives me a nostalgic feeling, when I look behind her. I see her friend the one from the party, wearing what it seem like a metal pot on her head.
"Hey..." I said while letting out an awkward smile.
Lina furrows her brow at me and grabs the collar of my shirt. She then pushes me backward until my back was on the wall. Afterward, she pulls her fist backward ready to punch my light out.
"Wait!" I said while raising both my hand.
Kusagi growl at Lina with an offensive intent while Catty hides behind Kusagi and hugging her stuffed rabbit even tighter. I gesture Kusagi to stand down, she stops her growling and glare dagger at Lina.
Lina look at the kids then turn back to me.
"Tell me a good reason why I shouldn't knock you out and call the cops," Lina ask, anger can be heard seeping through her tone.
"Because I need your help. Please Lina," I said, Lina clench her teeth but didn't lower her fist.
"You were going to kill innocent people just to get your way," Lina said.
"I know... I'm sorry," I apologize.
"Sorry isn't good enough anymore!" Snapped Lina.
"Then what do you want me to do?" I ask.
"I want you to change and turn yourself in," Lina said.
"I can't right now," I said.
"Why?" Lina ask.
"Because of them," I said, looking at Kusagi and Catty. Cindy looks at the two kids on the side.
Lina closes her eyes and lets my collar go. she takes a couple feet backward before letting out a grunt.
"Are them the reason why I should help you?" Lina ask.
"Yes," I said.
"What do you want me to do?" Lina ask.
"Protect them just for tonight," I said.
"Why do they need protection? What did you get yourself into?" Lina ask.
"It's a long story, can you let them in first?" I said then look at the two kids again.
"Li, can you help the kids settle?" Lina said.
The woman that was wearing the peak her head out of the door and said: "Sure, come right in..."
Kusagi and Catty look at me with worried eyes.
"I'll be fine, just go in," I said to both of them.
Kusagi and Catty enter the apartment. Lina then walks to one of the windows at the end of the hallway, I follow her and reach the same window.
"Tell me what happens," Lina said as she crossed her arms.
I told her everything, about my revenge, Catty truth, Kusagi origin, my parents, my uncle and everything that I could tell her except the part about her father and Catty wish. Time pass by as I told her everything that been going on. Through the story I told, I could see her face changing from anger to confusion to worried.
"Do you blame your uncle?" Lina ask.
I look out the window onto the street, watching people walking around with their family and friends with a happy face. Looking up, I could see the evening sky and the beautiful sun slowly moving away.
"At first, I blame him, but now I don't know," I said.
"Ha-Haru" Lina call.
"Don't worry you can call me by that name," I said.
"Haru, are you okay" Lina ask.
"You were about to punch me, now you asking me if i'm okay or not" I joked.
Lina let out a quiet laugh, "I was scared..." Lina said.
"Scared?" I ask.
"After we met at that parking lot, I was scared because I thought you can't change anymore, I was losing hope in you..." Lina said.
"But now I can see that you still have your kindness," Lina said.
"I don't know about all that, I just want to give them a life," I said.
"can you help me?" I ask.
"I can do better, I can help you in the fight," Lina said.
"No, I just want you to protect them," I said.
"Why won't you let me join your fight? I'm not weak, I'm not easy to get hurt but still, you don't want me to join," Lina said.
"Because I don't want you to get involved," I stressed.
"I am involved, you asking me right now to protect them. Why are you still stubborn about not letting me help?" Lina ask.
"I don't know," I said.
"You don't know?!" Lina raises her voice.
"Yes, Lina. I don't know!" I said, raising my own voice.
Silence don on us, I let out a long sigh before placing a hand on my forehead.
"Maybe it's because I don't want to see your life get ruined by me," I said.
"You not ruining my life Haru. You are my life," Lina said as her gold eyes gaze into mine.
I look back at her surprised to hear those word coming out of her mouth. After all this time, I couldn't help myself as to let a tear come out from the corner of my eyes and flow down my cheeks. My lips twitching as I try to think of something to said back to her.
Instead of replying to her feeling, I ask "Do you still...?"
"I still love you," Lina said before I could finish my question.
Lina grabs my both of my shoulders and pulls me close to her. She then places her lip on my lips, I felt the wetness of her lips and warmth of her tongue.
We break our kiss, Lina pulls back the misplaced lock of her hair and ask "Are you sure, you don't want me to fight alongside you?"
"I'm sure. I have to do this alone," I replied while holding both of her hands.
"Whatever happens next, if you want to come back to me. I will greet you with open arms," Lina said.
"What about the bad thing that I did?" I ask.
"We can try to help those people that you hurt along the way," Lina said.
"T-that's a good deal... I don't know what to say," I said.
"You don't have, you just need to come back," Lina said.
I pull her close once again and embrace her with both of my arms around her back.