Chapter 32:

Sabotage Sideshow


The same morning Romeo's party set out for Thorn Whip Kagiya's hideout, Meru received a phone call that left him with chills.

He fought with himself, but his thoughts directed him to the box hidden beneath his bed. Slowly, he crept over and removed the lid.

The glint of his old dagger met his gaze, still sharp after all this time. He steeled himself; he made up his mind.

It took him a bit of digging to piece together the information that he'd heard from Romeo, but it didn't take him long to pinpoint Cutter Knife Matsuri’s hideout – a park on the east side of the city.

Rumor had it that Matsuri and his followers claimed the area for themselves, and they spent their days lazing around, smoking, and squatting around while browsing magazines.

Today is no different.

Matsuri doesn't look like a delinquent. He sits atop the monkey bars, a lollipop in his mouth, and hunched over his phone as he plays some game. He has glasses, and his hair is a natural, dark brown.

The delinquents here normally act with cheap bravado, but around Matsuri, they seem demure, almost terrified.

Cutter Knife Matsuri earned his place within the Summer Fireworks through sheer intimidation, and it showed.

One by one, starting from a far corner of the park, Matsuri's thugs disappear.

There are no screams, no sounds, so it takes a while for someone to finally notice.

Only after a handful of them are left to do the thugs closest to Matsuri begin to feel something strange.

“H-Hey, boss…”

Matsuri lifts his gaze to look at the delinquent addressing him.

“Didn’t I tell you not to interrupt me when I’m playing?”

“S-Sorry, boss…” The thug shifts uncomfortably as if trying to find the right words. “It’s just that… um… there’s like, twenty of us missing…”


Matsuri straightens up and looks around, then blinks in disbelief at the scene in front of him. What should have been thirty followers became only eight.

“What the…!?” He jumps down the monkey bars and puts his phone back in his pocket. “Where the hell did everyone go!?”

The thug starts twiddling his thumbs awkwardly.

“I dunno, boss… We were just chillin’ around the latest issue of Hot Chicks, then suddenly, no one was there…”

What? That’s ridiculous! There’s no way they all just left without anyone—”

“Don’t move.”

Matsuri suddenly feels the cold blade of Meru’s dagger near his neck.

The remaining thugs scramble to their feet, instantly on edge. Matsuri puts his hands up, a cold drop of sweat rolling down his forehead.


“Good seeing you again, Matsuri.”

Matsuri gasps, his lips and hands trembling.

“...S-Silent Step Meru? ...How? ...You disappeared so long ago.”

Meru shrugs and smiles without moving his dagger away.

“I came back from the dead just for you, Cutter Knife Matsuri. Aren’t you happy to see me again?”

Matsuri falls quiet.

A couple of his followers pull out their makeshift weapons, but they fail to escape Meru's notice. The moment he presses his dagger closer to Matsuri’s throat, they all stand down.

Matsuri sighs.

“What... happened to you, Meru? After you joined the Makai gang, you changed so much I couldn't recognize you… and the next thing I know, you were gone without a trace? What was that all about?”

“... It’s... a long story, Matsuri,” Meru answers quietly. “Besides... didn't our friendship end long before that? When you joined the Kappore gang?”

“That was different, I—”

“Don’t worry about it. I didn’t come here to reminisce about our childhood. I actually came here to get rid of you and your little group.”

Matsuri scoffs.

“... Hah. I knew it. You’re still his attack dog, aren’t you?”

Meru remains quiet, but Matsuri is convinced that he knows the answer. He sighs.

“Listen, Meru. I’m glad you’re alive. I told you I’d help you if you ever needed it, but if my help is just going to further entrench you in the Makai gang, then no way.”

“... I don’t think you’re in any position to refuse, Matsuri.”

“Yeah? Then why don’t you slit my throat right now?”


“Boss,” one of the thugs interjects as he takes a bold step forward, “give us the go-ahead, and we’ll all take this guy down for ya!”

Matsuri shakes his head. The thug steps back, gritting his teeth in frustration.

“I don't condone whatever you're doing if you're doing it for that man, Meru. But if you believe you're happier doing this, then... I’ll help you.”

Meru blinks, surprised. Matsuri turns his head to look at Meru with a grin.

“So, what do you need?”

“... I need your cutter knife.”


Boss!?” The thugs suddenly become frantic. Matsuri ignores them, and Meru finally lowers his dagger.

Matsuri turns around to face Meru, then takes out a bright orange cutter knife from his pocket, offering it to him.

“... I don’t know what you got yourself into, Meru. But please tell me this’ll keep you out of trouble.”

Meru meets Matsuri's smile with a blank expression, unreadable and stoic as he takes the knife. Matsuri laughs.

“Haha. You still do that, huh? You always make that face when you don’t want people to know what you’re thinking.”


Meru’s frowns in surprise at Matsuri’s insight.

“... I don’t like that you can still read me so easily.”

Matsuri crosses his arms, grinning.

“It's your fault for befriending me when we were brats.”

* * *

“If you’re looking for Endo, you won’t find him in there.”

Oue’s voice startles Franz, who'd just gripped the handle of Endo’s hospital room with yet another bouquet of flowers in tow.

He turns around to find Oue filling out paperwork on the counter in the middle of the hall, the bandages on his head gone.

“...Oue. Did you just get discharged?”

Oue nods. “I did. Actually, I’m glad I ran into you, Franz.”

Franz looks at him and frowns.

“What do you want? After your little masochistic display the other day, I’m not sure I’d like to get too involved with you. Besides, you’re a delinquent as well.”

Oue puts the pen down and turns to look at him.

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. What do you think of Endo now that you know the kind of person he was in the past? I know he seemed mortified after finding out what kind of things he did as the Kappore leader, but him being a delinquent… that’s soooo scary, isn’t it?”

Franz listens to him quietly, then flips his hair.

“It is. Even though he seemed remorseful after his memories came back, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a brutish thug!”

“Oh, I agree completely,” Oue leans back on the counter. “That’s why I couldn’t help but worry about you after you told me you were engaged to his sister. Imagine! The poor thing has no idea the kind of person her brother is… or the kind of person her boyfriend is.”

Franz does a double-take.

“Excuse me? Boyfriend?

“Oh, is Romeo, not her boyfriend?” Oue covers his mouth with his hand dramatically. “I’m sorry. I just assumed, since I always see them together. Laughing, going out on dates, drinking from the same milkshake with different straws… I don’t know, I simply thought you two had a very... loose relationship...”

The flower stems crack audibly under Franz’s grip as he wrings them with all his might.

What did you say!?

“I’m sooo sorry, Franz! I know it’s none of my business… buuut since we’re on the topic already… Yes, that Romeo, known on the streets as Bloody Bat Romeo, isn’t just after her heart, as you so purely suspected— he’s actually planning on stealing her away from you and dragging her down into the dark world of street violence!”

“I knew it! I knew it! I hated him instantly! I could tell from the moment we locked eyes that he had perverse intentions for my Yuri! That scoundrel!

Oue nods with a fake look of concern.

“I knooow, right? I’m as appalled as you are, Franz. Bloody Bat Romeo, trying to sway an innocent girl with lies and deceit… It just doesn’t seem right to me. If only someone out, there would do something about it…”

Franz snaps the bouquet in half, and a rain of loose petals scatters to the ground.

“That’s it. I am taking her back with me! I am making arrangements to get her out of this dangerous city as soon as possible! Ohh, when she finds out about the kind of people that she's gotten herself involved with!”

Oue smiles as things carefully fall into place, but then it hits him. If Franz lets Yuri know that Romeo is a delinquent too soon, she will end up fearing and avoiding him. Then, Romeo will have no more reason to take out the Summer Fireworks for the Makai gang. As things stood now, Oue has no idea how much progress Romeo has made, if any at all.

“Now, now,” Oue steps closer and pats Franz’s shoulder— rather, he makes the motion to pat his shoulder, but doesn’t really touch him. “Yuri doesn’t need to find out about her brother and Romeo just yet. Not while she’s still here anyway. It would devastate her! ...I assume, not knowing anything about her.”

“... Rrgh… I suppose…”

“Listen, Franz. You’re clearly the better choice for her. Anyone would think so, yes? So why don’t you leave Romeo and Endo to me? You go get your white horse ready to sweep your princess off her feet, yeah?”

Franz paces about, biting his thumb.

“...Fine. You’re right. I don’t trust you, but everything you've said makes perfect sense.”

He straightens up and finally looks at what’s left of the bouquet in his hand, hissing.

“I shall take my leave now. I have plenty to discuss with my maid.”

“Farewell, Franz! Good luck!”

Oue waves him goodbye and waits until Franz has left down the elevator.

When he’s sure that he’s gone, he takes out his phone and dials a number, waiting for the other side to pick up.

“...Good day. Is it done yet?”

From the other side of the line, Meru’s voice answers after a long pause.


“Wonderful! I knew you were the right man for the job. Our boss will be quite pleased to know how efficient you still are!”

“...This is low, even for you, Oue. Why would Amon want to sabotage a mission he gave out himself?”

“That’s none of your business. And speaking of which, taking out Cutter Knife Matsuri was only the first half of your mission. The real fun is yet to come.”

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