"Here… You love my company, don't you?"
The drunken youth nodded in pleasure as the woman pressed her body against him and caressed gently.
"Take this. I'll give you the freedom you need."
"This? That? Whatever…" The drunken youth continued incoherently. The woman slipped her hand into the youth's shirt and fingered with his skinny ribs. The youth let out a moan in half-pleasure.
"Take this… you'll be free…" the woman coerced, her hand advancing higher into the youth's shirt. The youth, delirious with the attention that he's getting, relented. He opened his mouth and the woman fed him with the pill through her mouth.
The effects were instant. The youth soon crouched onto the floor, cringing in pain. In less than 5 seconds, he lay flat on the ground, eyes wide open in disbelief. The woman then bent down and kissed him slightly on the cheek before she turned to leave.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Hey handsome one," the sexily dressed woman sat down next to the man. "Alone?"
"The world f***s big time man! I'd wish I was not born in this world at all!" The man cursed.
"You really wish that?" The woman asked, putting her arm around the man and her slim fingers began to touch and massage the man's tired neck. "Why I can help you relieve your suffering…"
The man smirked, "How? Offering yourself to me? Or give me a million dollars so I can slam them into everyone's faces?"
"Hey don't be too difficult on me…" The woman protested. "I do not have 1 million… … but I can do this…" smiling, she pressed her lips on the man.
The man broke off, choking. "What did you do that for!" The woman smiled seductively, "Why, to relieve you of suffering, of course…" and her eyes never left him while he took a big gulp from his beer mug.
"I can't believe this… how can you be so-" The man was suddenly overwhelmed in pain.
"What did I say, handsome? I said I'll relieve you, didn't I?" The woman left the place after planting a kiss on his forehead, and the man turned cold as she walked out of the noisy, unfeeling pub.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Hey wake up wake up!" Omi banged on Youji's door.
A sleepy figure emerged from it. "Nan dayo Omi… "
"Quick quick! We have work to do!"
The sleepy figure groaned. "Hey don't you have anything better to do? It's my day off and I want my sleep…" the figure resumed to close his room door but Omi stopped him.
"Nee, stop sleeping! Something's happened." The boy urged. The figure widened his sleepy eyes for a moment before returning to their dopey state.
"Ok, ok… give me 10 minutes… I'll be down in a jiffy."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Gift has decided to strike. Which means we have no time left." Kawamoto spoke, whilst the rest of the boys stared at the newspaper which he had brought.
"Eh? Has decided?" Omi asked.
"All along, Gift has been a dangerous organisation lying on the low to prevent more information about themselves from being exposed. So no more than spies have been killed by them… until now…"
"10 killings within a night… are you absolutely sure that's all done by Gift?" Aya implored.
"Well… judging by how they died and the places which happened, I'm rather confident that they are all done by members of Gift," Kawamoto says, " and look - on the pictures of the dead victims, do you notice a lipstick mark on everyone's foreheads?"
"Ok… but what does it mean?" Ken asked.
"Who do you think have left it if I said the lipstick mark was pink?" his question earned serious pondering.
"Pink lipstick… pink… lipstick… Aa - pink leaf!" Omi exclaimed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Entering the pub with loud music and dancing, images of Oka suddenly appeared in Omi's mind. He shook them off with some determination and reminded himself that he was here for a purpose. With that fixed in mind, he sat down and ordered a beer.
Wonder how Aya kun and the rest are doing now…
"Hey pretty boy! Alone?" A woman came along and sat down beside him.
"I've always been alone." Omi replied with a slight smile. The smile the woman was carrying faltered for a moment.
"You're different from all the others dancing here." She remarked.
"What makes you think that?" Omi asked, acting genuinely surprised.
"I know everything when I look into your eyes," the woman said. Slightly startled by what he just heard, Omi turned and was immediately lost in the intense gaze of the woman's black eyes.
"You've been through a lot…" The woman continued. Omi slowly felt himself drowning into a sea of memories.
"Been through a lot…"
Tell me Persia! Why did my father refuse to pay the ransom!
"Your heart is shattered…"
"… and mended…"
That's just a superficial wound! You'll be all right in 3 days… You'll even be able to wear spaghetti strapped dresses to the party next week.
"… and shattered again…"
Brother and sister? Both of us?
"repeating for so many times…"
Don't die… no way… OKA!
"That's enough. You don't have to suffer so much… come… I'll give you relief…" A woman's image reappeared, dispersing the memories hidden deep inside his heart, but not waking him up from his daze.
"Come on… I'll free you." She closes in and kisses him. Omi does not react. She pries his mouth open gently and with the help of her tongue, gently nudges a pill from her own mouth into his.
A voice rang into his ears. Swallow this… swallow this…
"Hey Omi!" A man's voice was heard. The woman observed from the tip of her eye and saw a young man approaching his direction in a hurried fashion. Not waiting for him to swallow the pill, she quickly leaned the dazed Omi on the chair and walked off in a different direction as the man was walking.
Ken ran over. "Omi! Who's that woman!" He ran over and got a shock as he sees Omi in a dazed state, life not present in those huge blue orbs of his.
"Omi! Oi! Wake up!" Ken said, shaking Omi. No response. Ken sat Omi up and gave him a blow in his neck, causing the pill resting in Omi's mouth to fall out. Ken picked it up carefully and stored it away inside a small plastic bag.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"What happened?!" Kawamoto demanded as Ken supported the unconscious Omi back to the flower shop.
"I saw a woman with him… she walked off when she saw me coming over. He was already half unconscious when I found him. I made him spit this out though," Ken reached for his pocket and took out the bag which contained the pill. "Kawamoto, is he poisoned?"
Kawamoto's face turned grave when Ken showed him the pill. He then quickly felt Omi's pulse and said, "This is not good… his pulse is turning weak. Quick help him into his room… I'm going to get something and rush over.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There was a knock on Omi's room door. Ken walked over to open it.
"How's Omi?" Aya asked, making his way into the room. Youji was a few steps behind him so Ken left the door open for him.
"I think he is all right. Kawamoto said it was a good thing he did not swallow the pill, or he would have been dead within 5 seconds." Ken replied, folding his arms and stared at the boy lying on the bed, with Kawamoto by his side.
Aya walked over to where Omi's bed is and stared at the boy. "So why is he still in this state?"
Kawamoto turned over and faced him. "He had the pill fed into his mouth. Totenmaske is a highly potent drug which can cause death instantly."
"What’s that you said?" Youji asked.
"Totenmaske - the name of the poison that Gift uses. It's also the same kind of poison that killed Megumi and the spies."
"So is Omi in danger now?" Youji asked.
"No… I don't think so… because I have just injected the antidote into him.
"The what? There's an antidote to Totenmaske?"
"It's something I have been trying to work on in the laboratories for a few weeks already. But I did not show it out as I was unsure of it effects. To try this antidote on Omi was the last thing I wanted. But seems I do not have a choice now. This lad has to depend on his own luck now."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Omi feels himself drifting, floating without a particular direction.
If only this could go on and on and on…
Just as he thought that, a vertical mirror of water appears in front of him. The image was blurred at first, but as the water slowly cleared to give a clear film, It soon became visible that there was someone behind the film of water mirror.
He turned, as if not willing to acknowledge his shadow.
"You are running away." The shadow behind the mirror said.
He turned and faced his other self. "I'm not."
"Shut up. What do you know?" Omi defended. "I'm tired of it all. Why am I the one to go through all these?"
Why did you make me fight against my family members? Why don’t you become Weiß yourself!
The shadow opened his mouth. "Actually you know the reason well."
"No I don't!" Omi shouted, covering his ears.
"Yes you do."
"I don't! How can I be protecting other people when I can't even protect those that I want to protect!"
"This is your destiny."
Omi raised his hands from his ears and blinked.
He turned to look at the shadow inside the water mirror.
"You cannot avoid it."
I can't… …
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Light… so glaring … Omi opened his eyes and squinted for a while, trying to make out where he is. It soon occurred to him that he was lying in his own bed in his own room. He felt strangely weak and sat slowly up. He put a hand to support his aching head and was surprised to find Kawamoto sensei sleeping on a chair next to his bed. He was even more surprised to see Aya sleeping in a sitting posture, leaning against the wall with an open book in his hand. He then turned and found Ken too sprawled on the floor of his room.
What's going on… what happened?
At this point of time Youji entered the room with a mug in his hand.
"Yo! Ohayou! You've been sleeping for a while like a dead log." Youji approached Omi's bed, "Just kidding. You okay now?"
"Omi tried to turn and speak and his headache returned. He raised his hand to support his head. "I feel like I have been badly thrashed up by the three of you…" he managed to say with a smile.
Youji smiled in relief. He placed his mug on Omi's bedside and said, "I'm going to get you something to drink. You wait here." As he turned to leave, he gave a kick onto the sleeping Ken who was lying across the floor.
Obviously not too happy about the kick, he sat up with a groan. "Hey what do you think you’re doing!"
"Nah… just take it as my l'il way of saying 'ohayou'," Youji grinned. Omi could not help laughing at the amusing sight. Ken turned his head in surprise and ran towards Omi's bed.
"Omi! You all right now?" By this time the amount of noise have woken Aya and Kawamoto as well and they all looked at Omi.
Omi, a little overwhelmed with the attention he is getting, smiled blankly and asked, "Eh? What happened?"
"Don't you remember?" Youji snorted, giving a little punch on the arm, "you were poisoned by Gift last night! You nearly died, lucky soul!"
I know everything when I look into your eyes… Omi recalls. Oh, that woman…
He looked up and was slightly embarrassed to see the 4 men still staring at him. "Gomen, was I a lot of trouble?"
"What do you think we are all doing camping in your room?" Youji demanded jokingly.
Omi managed a weak smile. "Arigatou yo…"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"All right guys. Let's report what we have found yesterday." Kawamoto said.
"Here. I managed to find videos of some of the pubs which I checked out that night." Youji said, handling out the videos. "I am suspecting that there is more than one woman out there that goes around preying on men and boys."
"I share Youji's point of view too." Aya responds.
"Ok, so what have you found out?" Kawamoto asks.
"At around the same time which Ken found Omi poisoned by the woman, I was at XX pub which is located in the other end of the town and I happened to see another victim in the pub. So the woman couldn't have possibly moved to the other pub within such a short time."
"Yes, I have actually gone through the videos which the victims appeared and I found that the victims have all been poisoned in different pubs. No more than one murder had been committed in the pub. And the victims have been poisoned at such time intervals it would be impossible for one to move from one pub to another within that time." Youji continued. "And I think I can safely assume that there are about 5 such women walking around poisoning the men."
Youji then turned to Omi. "Omi, how did the woman use on you to feed you the pill?"
"Eh? What woman?" Omi started, as if he just woke up from a daze.
"That woman that tried to poison you." Youji repeated. "You all right?"
"Uh … nan demo nai." Said Omi sheepishly. "If I remember correctly, she hypnotized me so I didn't even realise that I was fed with the pill."
"Yes, that is one of the methods deployed by the female 'messengers' of Gift. They firmly believe that totenmaske is the solution to bring everyone to the state of freedom which they desire."
"Female messengers… …" Began Ken.
"Yes, in fact, I had been approached by one of those female messengers too. That was also why the pill landed in my hands."
"Sou… … so Kawamoto you were also hypnotized?" asked Ken.
"Yes. I fell for it too. I had been very lucky to escape death."
Too lucky… Aya thought. There were some things which he had started to get suspicious and he looked at Kawamoto intently, as if trying to scan answers from him by looking. When Kawamoto returned his gaze, he quickly hid the fact that he had been looking by asking, "So Omi fell to the messenger's hypnotization? But how?"
"Eh?!" Omi was stumped upon Aya's question. He had no idea how to answer his question.
"The female messengers appear to know some form of unknown psychic power. They are able to control your mind when you look into their eyes unwittingly." Kawamoto butted in. Looking relieved, Omi nodded.
"Yeah, that was what happened."
Aya dropped his inquiring look on Omi and returned to fix onto Kawamoto for a few seconds. Then he said. "Souka. Then Omi you must be more careful the next time. The flower shop has been closed for quite a long time for now… I'll go check on it."
Memories begin to flood Kawamoto as the distance between Aya and him grows further.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sorry Mister, you've got the wrong person…
Mister, you're suffering needlessly… why do you have to suffer so much… I can help you…
Then bring me to her… I need her…
~~ END OF CHAPTER ~~