Friday, June 29, 2007,10:22 PM
Traveler ch. 25


25

“You can’t do this to me!”

The man holding her arm didn’t seem to pay attention to the girl’s complaints. Since she’d been captured, Kaoru had tried to run, cried, yelled at him… She had tried almost everything in order to reach the man’s heart, but nothing worked. Now they were inside of a big, cold and scary building where the unknown was waiting for her.

The unknown ended being a dark cell waiting for her at the end of a corridor.

“I haven’t done anything!”

“That’s useless” said a voice somewhere near “It’s a lost of time to try to talk to them. I know, I tried”

“Who are you?”

“Oh, sorry” From the corner of the cell next to hers, Kaoru saw a silhouette moving out of the shadows “Takahashi, Ai”

Hearing that name, Kaoru felt a bit relieved. The girl could be a serial killer or something worst - she was at jail after all- but at least she knew her, what meant that the other girls must be probably around. If one of them found Yoshizawa-san, maybe she’d be alright, at least until Kaoru could get out of that cell, find her and continue that crazy trip.

But, what if some of her ‘friends’ were the ones trying to catch her? Definitely, it wouldn’t be a good idea to trust anyone, not even someone you think you know.

“I’m Kaoru” sighed the younger.

“Nice to meet you, Kaoru, even if it’s in this damn place”

The young traveler let her body roll against the cell’s bars and sat on the cold floor, closing her eyes at the same time, trying to pretend that everything was just a nightmare. Takahashi went closer to the wall of bars dividing the cells and, passing her arms through it, let her body rest on them.

“So.., what happened?”

“Eh?” the question surprised Kaoru, who opened again her eyes and stared at the other girl.

“I mean, why are you here?”

“First, it’s a mistake…” stated the younger.

“Yeah, sure” smiled Ai-chan.

“…and second, I’m not really sure. They said something about the King and a murder…”

Takahashi tensed up and, leaving her relaxing position, took a grip on the bars as if her life went on it.

“You know something about that?!” she asked rising her voice.

“No! Why the hell people keep asking me that?!” Kaoru got up in an outburst shouting “I was just trying to get help ‘cause Yoshizawa-san was feeling sick and then those guards arrested me ‘cause they say that I’m some kind of accessory from the King’s murder and took me here where I definitely shouldn’t be!”

“You know Yoshizawa-san? She’s here? She’s alive?” asked Takahashi with a hint of hope in her voice and without paying attention to the rest of the speech that her new roommate had done almost without breathing.

Oh God…

That was perfect… Now the whole ‘don’t trust anybody’ had gone to trash because she couldn’t control her own mouth. Obviously, Takahashi wouldn’t stop asking and soon or later Kaoru would have to tell her something or it would be even more suspicious.

Well, if I have to stay here, better to have an ally.

“Please, tell me! It’s important” asked the older again, desperately “If you’ve seen her that means that she’s alive and if she’s alive, she can tell everybody what really happened!”

“And… what really happened?” Kaoru forget a moment about her worries and saw Ai-chan words as a way to get some information from the other girl, instead of telling her about Yossi “Why are you here?”

“I saw the real killer”

The weightiness in Takahashi’s words surprised Kaoru for a moment. So, Yoshizawa-san was innocent - thanks, God – and maybe that girl was there because of the same mistake as her. If she knew who the killer was, they could solve the misunderstanding and Kaoru would have one less headache to worry about. It was time to ask about a few things.

“Why didn’t you tell them?”

“Of course I did!” now it was time for Aichan’s outburst, who went to the door of her cell and kicked the bars “I’ve spent the last five days trying to explain what I saw but nobody believes me!”

“Why? Who was?”

“The King”

“No, I mean, who killed him?”

“I told you, the King”

An awkward silence filled the room for a second until Kaoru finally reacted.

“The King killed the King?”

“I knew you wouldn’t believe me” said the older, sitting in a corner and crossing her arms with a deep sigh “God, I don’t even believe myself…”

“No, wait a minute. You mean there were two kings? Two identical men?”

“I know, I’m crazy”

A bit weird? Yeah. Crazy? Maybe not.

There was a theory beginning to develop inside Kaoru’s head. A theory that she would prefer to be wrong about it.

Or it could be just the usual ‘bad twin’ thing. Two identical brothers separated at birth and then the bad one getting revenge after the years…

Ok… Too much movies…

But something was clear in Kaoru’s mind after all.

“I believe you”

***

Makoto was waiting at the door of the Princess’s room waiting for someone to open it. After almost five minutes standing there, with a tray of food in her hands, and seeing that no one was going to answer, she decided to open it herself. That, of course, could cause her a few problems. First, she was going to step into a Royal Chamber without permission, but that didn’t worry her too much, not after hiding a wanted criminal in the aforesaid room. The one thing that really scared her was the possibility to find her captain and the Princess in some kind of compromising situation, what could lead to an awkward moment.

Well…, as if it was the first time…

Slowly, the Lieutenant turned the knob and, with caution, opened the door. At first she just stuck her head out of the frame as a preventive measure. At least, there wasn’t any suspicious sound. Well, there wasn’t any sound at all, something that worried her.

“Eh… Highness?” asked Ogawa coming into the room and closing the door behind her. Nobody answered. She began to fear the worst “Captain?” Mako-chan asked again, leaving the tray on the table and walking towards one of the opened windows of the balcony

The Lieutenant turned her head and looked at the table. On in, there was just the tray with food she had left a moment ago, anything else. There was not signal from Yoshizawa-san’s belongings. Then, she returned her attention to the opened window and the curtains swinging with the slight breeze coming from outside.

Please no…

Makoto ran towards the balcony and looked outside. There was no signal from the Captain. The girl inspected every corner, every inch of the terrace, but without luck and then, leaning on the handrail, she stared at the ground six meters under her feet. There’s no way Yoshizawa-san could just jump from there, wasn’t it?

A deep sigh escaped from her mouth as she turned back and walked again into the room. She’d been out.., how much? Fifteen minutes? Long enough for Captain to disappear one more time. Without warning, a note.., not even a nice word… She didn’t even thanked Mako-chan for helping her.

“At least she could have said goodbye…”

“I’m still here”

Yossi’s words didn’t reach Mako’s ears in time to let the younger process her presence there and avoid running into the taller. Surprised, she made some steps back and stumbled, ending with her ass against the cold floor of the balcony.

“Captain? You’re still here?”

“Yeah, come on” Yossi gave her hand to Ogawa and help her to stand up.

“I thought you had disappeared again…”

“I was going to, but I need you. I need to go back where you found me”

“Oh, no. Definitely no” answered Mako-chan letting go Yocchan’s hand and stepping into the room “No one’s leaving this room. Princess is gonna be really pissed of if she finds out that you’ve disappeared again”

“I’m being wanted for murder… You think that an angry princess is going to scare me?”

“Ooook... You hit your head against a rock or something? Because, obviously, you don’t know who we’re talking about…”

“Really, I’m not going to worry about that now. I’m leaving, Ogawa, with or without you” said Yoshizawa with a serious expression in her face “Although I’d prefer you’d come with me”

***

“So… you… believe me?”

“Yeah”

“Why?”

Kaoru thought for a moment before answering. It was better to watch every step and every single word. Besides, even if she wanted to tell Takahashi about Yoshizawa-san and the Traveler, she couldn’t ‘cause the guards had confiscated her bag whit the computer inside.

“Let’s just say that I’ve got my reasons”

“Well… whatever you believe me or not, there’s nothing we can do. We’re still trapped here”

Suddenly, their conversation was interrupted by steps coming from behind the door of the jail. Then, a guard that Kaoru hadn’t seen before opened it and came inside the jail seizing someone tightly. That someone turned out to be another girl that the young traveler had met before.

“Say hello to the new guest, girls”

The newly arrived, with her wrists and ankles tied with chains, stared at the other two girls for a moment before the guard pushed her inside an empty cell. Then, she turned to the bars, looked at the guard and smiled mischievously.

“You know I won’t stay long”

“The last time we underestimated you…” said the man approaching the cell and looking back at the daring girl “I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. If you try to escape again, I’ll forget that you’re a girl”

The guard turned on his heels and was going to leave when the girl shouted at him.

“Hey! Let’s make a deal!”

“Why should I make a deal with a bandit?” asked the man without even turning to look at her “A bandit who’s in jail, may I add”

“Because your soldier pride is at stake?”

“Sorry, I’m not playing games with you” he was going to open the door to leave without paying attention to her when he was stopped again.

“What if I say that I can leave this place before tomorrow morning and make a fool of you trying to catch me again?” said her with a playful voice.

“If you can escape so easily, what do you want from me?”

“I’ve made a promise, but I won’t be able to keep it if you guys keep trying to catch me. Tomorrow I’ll be gone and I just want you to stop following me”

The man laughed out loud.

“You’re really funny, you know?” he said turning to the girl “Those chains you’re wearing are maid of the most resistant metal of the country. If you can escape from them, maybe, we’ll talk”

And those were his last words before closing the door and leaving the three girls alone.

“Those haughty men…” sighed the chained woman while she was turning to one of the corners of her cell, giving her back to the other two “I was just trying to be nice…”

Both Kaoru and Ai heard a noise coming from their partner’s cell, like if something really heavy had fell to the floor. What was her surprise when the other girl turned to them completely free from her chains…

“What the…?” Kaoru needed to ask a lot of things but she couldn’t form the words properly. That girl wasn’t kidding when she said that she could escape. Takahashi was as surprised as her, looking at the woman with big curious eyes, and asked something that Kaoru already knew.

“Who are you?”



To be continued...

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posted by Lorena Enciso
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Tuesday, June 05, 2007,9:37 PM
Traveler ch. 24
24

“Mako-chan! What are you doing here?”

There was just one person left in the kitchen at that hour and Makoto knew it. That was much better for her mission than having a room filled with cooks, and gossip-loving maids watching every single suspicious move she could do. That always made her nervous.

“Princess Ishikawa sent me to take some food” answered the Lieutenant trying to sound relaxed.

“Oh, but we served lunch just one hour ago”

Ogawa was going to answer when the other girl begun to babble while slicing a helpless carrot fretfully.

“She didn’t like it, right? That’s why she’s hungry now. She didn’t eat the lunch ‘cause she didn’t like it and sent you to pick something that she likes better...”

“Konkon…”

“I guess I shouldn’t have tried that new stuff that arrived yesterday. Maybe the meat wasn’t good enough… Or maybe were the vegetables… The mushrooms! Next time I’ll try it without them…”

“Asami!”

“What?!”

Makoto jumped backwards when Konno raised her head and the knife cut the air in front of her eyes.

“Calm down! She did eat her lunch!”

“Really?”

“Yeah”

“Then, why do you have to bring her more food?”

“Let’s say it’s an extra thing…”

The other girl must have heard something strange in Mako’s voice ‘cause she raised an eyebrow and stared at her with a suspicious look.

“Mako-chan? You’re not hiding anything from me, aren’t you?”

“Me? Of cou..rse not…”

“I know that face, Ogawa”

“What face?”

“Your face of ‘I’m hiding something’”

“I’m NOT”

“Oh YES, you are”

“I’m…” Makoto was going to reply again when she saw the glare in Konkon’s eyes. There was just two things that could make Asami angry and were to ran out of food or someone trying to lie to her, which, being that last the case, it could be quiet dangerous to have a knife so near. So, she decided to think twice what she was going to say “Ok… There’s a thing, but you have to promise that you won’t tell anyone, please”

“You can trust me”

“Captain’s back”

Maybe Makoto let out the words too fast or maybe Konno wasn’t aware about the magnitude of the secret that her friend was hiding; anyway, she dropped the knife in her hands and barely avoided to pierce Makoto’s foot on its way.

“Yoshizawa-san’s back?!”

“Ssshhhh!”

The Lieutenant turned her head frantically from one side to another to make sure that no one heard Konkon saying that name. They would be really in trouble if someone found out. Once she had checked out with her eyes every single corner of the kitchen, Makoto turned again towards the other girl and glared at her.

“Can you say it louder? Someone at Hokkaido didn’t hear you yet!”

“Sorry” answered Asami lowering her voice to the level of a whisper “But how can she come back now? And you’re helping her? You know how dangerous it is? Princess Ishikawa knows?”

“Yes, I’m helping her; yes, I know it’s dangerous and yes, Princess knows. But…” Mako-chan sighed “…Captain’s a good person. I can’t let her alone against the whole kingdom”

“You and your loyalty”

“It’s not just that. I know she’s innocent. I trust her”

“You mean you love her”

“Asami… I’m not having that conversation again…”

For a second, there was a kind of hurt look on Konno’s face but she changed it quickly and diverted her attention to the knife on the ground and picked it up.

“Whatever…” she sighed and left the knife on the table. She knew that pushing Makoto towards that direction would end into a fight “How’s she?”

“I’m not sure”

“You’re not sure. What does that mean? Is she hurt?”

“Well… She seems to come back from a war…” said Makoto a bit pensive “But that’s not what I mean. There’s something different about her…”

***

“Princess…”

“You know there’s no need to call me like that when we’re alone”

Ishikawa was just a few inches away from Yossi’s lips and was leaning towards her to kiss her again when the younger moved away. The first kiss had taken Yossi off guard, but now she was back on her full senses and wasn’t going to let it happen again. She couldn’t let it happen again. There were a lot of things about that world, that Rika, that she needed to know before crossing that line, if she really wanted to cross it.

“Something’s wrong?

Ishikawa’s voice sounded worried. Obviously, she didn’t expect Yossi to avoid the closeness with her and that was one of the things that intrigued Hitomi the most. What kind of relationship they, that world’s Yossi and the Princess, had? It was something beyond her job as Captain and beyond friendship as well, that’s for sure. But asking something like that could be suspicious.

Besides, there was something that worried her more at that moment.

“What happened?” asked the younger avoiding Rika’s previous question.

“Uh?”

“Why’s Ogawa so worried about me being here? Why I have to hide?”

“You… don’t remember?”

There was the point where Yossi should make up her mind. What was better? To tell Rika the truth or continue lying? The first could lead to some awkward moments, a lot of questions and worries about that world’s Yossi’s real situation. On the other hand, to pretend to be someone else, even if that someone was your own self, wasn’t easy. But, without realizing, Ishikawa had given her the best excuse ever to work on that. Lost of memory. So, maybe, it wasn’t so crazy to try it.

God…, I’ve never been a good actress…

“Hitomi?”

Rika’s voice brought her back from her thoughts. It was time to choose.

“I… I’m… I… don’t know?”

Great Yocchan… That’s the most convincing answer ever.

“You don’t know? You mean… you lost your memory?” Yossi nodded her head at the question and Ishikawa averted her eyes from her, staring for a moment at the covers of the bed, trying to figure out what was going on “But… you remember me, right? You know who I am…”

“I know your name… I know your face… I know… how you make me feel…” the last part of the sentence came just as a whisper ‘cause she wasn’t sure yet. She had realized it about something when she met the other Rika, the one at the monster’s world. She felt the same insecurity, the same butterflies.., even her heart seemed to beat as fast as it did it when she was with her Rika. So, she didn’t lie about that. She knew how Ishikawa made her feel, doesn’t matter which world she was, ‘cause her heart didn’t seem to care about that.

“But?” asked the older feeling that Yossi was trying to say something difficult.

“There’s nothing else”

She’d tried to say it as nice as possible, but there wasn’t a way on Earth that telling someone -who after analyzing the situation was probably in love with you- that you don’t remember the time you spent together didn’t sound heartbreaking. Yossi couldn’t just see the confusion and sadness in Rika’s eyes, she could feel it.

“Not even our first kiss?”

Please, don’t do that even more difficult…

Yossi’s voice didn’t seem to be able to leave her throat to answer that. Maybe was the guilt or maybe the fact that her answer would be a lie.

“You’re so beautiful…”

“You said something?” asked Ishikawa from the bathroom’s door while drying off her hair with the towel.

“No, just… thinking out loud”

Yossi returned her attention to the magazine in her hands, trying to sound casual and forgetting about the fact that Rika was in front of her wearing just a towel around her wet body, a very little one. The younger tried to not thing about it, about that weird urges she had lately.

“Where’s the terrifying duo?” Ishikawa sat on Yossi’s bed staring at the younger that seemed to not pay attention to her.

“They’re staying with the gokkies tonight” answered the younger, realizing at the same time that being alone could lead to some awkward situation.

“So, we have the room just for us?”

“Yeah…”

“And you’re going to spend that precious time reading a magazine?”

Hitomi didn’t have time to react. The older had climbed onto her and snatched the magazine from her hands. What the hell was she doing?

“Give me that”

“No”

“Please…” said Yossi with an almost begging tone in her voice. That magazine was the only way to keep her mind distracted from doing something stupid.

“Take it” challenged Rika.

Maybe that’s what Ishikawa wanted, to tease her, make her lose her mind and then go back on her actions, like playing with a hungry dog, teasing it with a piece of meat in your hand and then hiding it.

Enough. End of game Yossi thought.

Somehow, Hitomi managed to catch Rika’s waist and attracted the older towards her, making both roll on the bed. Ishikawa ended with her back against the mattress, just dressed with a tinny towel and the younger on top of her. Taking advantage of the confusion, Yossi took the magazine from her hand but, instead of going back to her reading, she threw it to one side and stayed there, just looking into the other girl’s eyes.

“Stop that”

“Stop what?” asked Ishikawa back.

“Stop teasing me, acting like if you didn’t know how I feel” there was a hint of angry in her voice.

“But I don’t know” a slight smile appeared on Rika’s lips while she traced the line of Yossi’s jaw with her index finger “How do you feel, Yocchan?”

That was a hard question and Yossi found only one way to answer.

No, it wouldn’t be a lie. She could recall as clear as day the first kiss, but that girl in front of her wasn’t the one who shared it with her.

“For me, our first kiss was the one before”

The Princess stayed silent. Her right hand reached Yossi’s arm, touching slightly the bandage over the wound she had from the last confrontation with the beasts, while some tears began to overflow her eyes.

“God… What happened to you?”

“That’s what I need to know” said Yossi, taking the older’s hand with her own.

Rika breathed deeply and wiped the water from her eyes before answering.

“Five days ago…, someone killed the King. Everybody thinks it was you”

“Why?”

“Someone saw you running away from the royal chambers”

“But you don’t believe it was me, right? You wouldn’t be helping me then…”

“I trust you, just as my father trusted you when he putted the life of his daughters in your hands” Ishikawa took some air again “But when you disappeared…”

So, that was the situation. Yoshizawa Hitomi was in that world a former captain from the Princess’s personal guard now wanted as the King’s murder main suspect.

Well, at least there aren’t any man-eating monsters trying to get me as dinner.

“…I thought I had lost you”

But she hasn’t come back…

Yossi couldn’t say that. She couldn’t break her heart like that. The fact that the other Hitomi wasn’t there could mean two things; one, that she was, indeed, the King’s killer or two, that she was dead. For some reason, something inside Yossi told her that she was innocent…

“Yocchan.., you have to try to remember. We need to…”

A knock on the door interrupted them suddenly. Probably it was Makoto coming back with the food, but they must be cautious. Rika stood up and made a signal to Yossi to hide at one corner to be sure that no one could see her before walking towards the door.

“Who is it?”

“Niigaki” said the girl at the other side.

“Better be something important”

“The Great Counsellor requests your Highness presence” Risa cleared her throat a bit and then spoke again “Immediately”

Ishikawa opened the door just enough to see the messenger standing in the hallway.

“It’s urgent?” asked the Princess

“It seems so”

“Ok. Wait a minute”

She closed the door again and returned next to Yossi, who had left her hiding place and was again next to the bed waiting for her.

“I have to go”

“Ok” nodded Yocchan.

“You won’t disappear again, won’t you?”

“I’ll be right here” answered the younger with a smile.

The Princess smiled as well and gave her a peck on the cheek before leaving the room in a rush. When she closed the door, Yossi looked at the table where someone, probably Mako-chan, had left her things. Her torn t-shirt, the sword that Eri gave her, which with the rush she forgot to return, some other things that were probably in her pockets and a piece of paper. A piece of paper that she’d almost forgotten.

“I’m sorry, Rika-chan” she said out loud caressing the skin where Ishikawa kissed her “There’s someone else waiting for me”


To be continued...

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posted by Lorena Enciso
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