Nakatulala lang si Akira sa amin habang inaayos ko ang papers na pinagsulatan ng decoded chapters ng book. Halos nasa kalahati na kami pero dahil ang sakit na ng mata ko ay tinigil ko muna. Akemi fell asleep on the floor and I didn’t wake her up since she seems tired these past few days. Buti na lang at wala kaming pasok ngayon kaya makakapagpahinga na ako.
“Matutulog ka na?” tanong ni Akira no’ng papunta na ako sa kama. “Wait! Samahan mo muna akong kumain sa plaza!”
Ah. So he’s here.
“Chaperone ulit ako?” She blushed after I said that. She’s been doing this for three years so I know that her fiancé is here.
“Please?” she pleaded. Well, I’ve been accompanying her for three years as well, so I really have no choice.
Naghilamos lang ako at nagbihis, then after that ay umalis na kaming dalawa at iniwan namin si Akemi sa kwarto. Habang naglalakad kami ay hindi mapakali si Akira kaya saglit akong napangiti. Aside from solving a crime or case, this is the only time Akira becomes quiet and restless.
When we arrived at their meeting place, I silently drift away from them, giving them their time to talk and enjoy each other’s company without me. Besides, Kohaku has been sending silent pleas through his inner voice, to be with Akira alone.
‘Thanks, Naomi,’ he said. ‘I owe you one.’ ‘Yeah, sure.’
Umalis na ako roon pero tinignan ko pa rin sila noong makalayo na ako. Kohaku and Akira has been friends since they were young, but when their parents decided to get them married in the future, they’ve become uncomfortable with each other. It’s not uncommon for Erityians to let the parents decide for the marriage of their children. They also pick someone from a family or clan they know since they need to assess the strength and abilities of their child’s partner.
My grandmother might be thinking about my marriage, too. I’m sure she has already picked someone from other families. Ideally, her choice would be Hideo, since our familial ties are quite strong. We’ve been together since we’re children and even though we’re not saying anything about it, we know that in the future, we’re going to be husband and wife.
Nagulat naman ako nang may naramdaman akong bumangga sa akin. Pagtingin ko ay natumba na pala sa harapan ko si Reina. Umupo naman ako para magka-level kami ng posisyon.
“Sorry, Reina. Okay ka lang ba?” Tinulungan ko siyang tumayo at pinagpagan naman niya ang damit niya.
“Mmm.” Tumango siya sa akin pero naiiyak na siya. For a 4-year old kid, I was surprised by her behavior. She tried not to cry in front of me and I find that appealing.
“Gusto mo ba ng ice cream?” tanong ko para makabawi at biglang nagliwanag ang mukha niya kaya napangiti ako.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!”
Nawala ang bakas ng lungkot niya kaya naman hinawakan ko ang kamay niya at pumunta kami sa ice cream parlor sa plaza. Papasok na kami nang biglang huminto si Reina.
“Ah! Kuya Misho!” sabay turo niya sa right side.
I saw Mitsuo walking towards our direction, with his usual ‘annoyed’ expression. He looked at Reina but he immediately averted his eyes. Then I remember that he’s not good with kids. Before he can escape, I swiftly blocked his path and hit his chest.
“Kanina ka pa niya tinatawag,” I said while looking at Reina.
Nakahawak lang si Mitsuo sa dibdib niya at pinipigilan niya pang maubo. Hindi ko naman madescribe ang expression na ginawa niya no’ng tumingin siya kay Reina. Bago pa siya makagalaw ulit ay hinawakan na ni Reina ang kamay niya.
“Sama ka, Kuya Misho!”
Wala siyang nagawa kundi sumama sa amin at hindi ko alam kung matatawa o maaawa ba ako sa kanya. Reina looks excited and the way she calls his name is quite cute since she can’t pronounce it correctly yet.
We went to the ice cream parlor and waited for our order.
“Bakit ka pala mag-isa sa plaza, Reina?” tanong ko dahil naalala kong mag-isa lang siyang naglalakad kanina sa plaza. Bigla naman siyang nag-pout.
“Hanap ko si Hayate . . .”
Kinuwento niya ang nangyari sa amin. Kasama niya raw si Hayate at ang Mama nito, pero dahil sa dami ng tao kanina sa plaza ay nawala sila sa paningin niya. Noong hinahanap na niya ang dalawa, ay doon ko siya nabangga.
Mabilis namang dumating ang inorder namin at nagsimulang kumain si Reina. Pinanood ko lang siya at nakakatuwa dahil nag-eenjoy siya sa pagkain. Tumingin naman ako sa side ni Mitsuo para makita kung anong ginagawa niya at napatigil ako no’ng nakita kong nakatingin siya sa akin habang nakakunot ang noo.
“What?” ‘Why did you drag me into this?’ sabay tingin niya kay Reina. ‘I’m not the one who dragged you, though. It’s her.’ ‘You know I don’t like kids.’ ‘Then maybe it’s time for you to change that.’ ‘Tss. Stupid.’
Automatic na gumalaw ang paa ko at sinipa ko siya sa ilalim ng mesa. He felt the pain but he gritted his teeth and glared at me.
“Kuya Misho?” tanong ni Reina nang mapansin niyang gumalaw ang lamesa.
“Tumama lang ang paa niya sa lamesa, Reina,” sabi ko naman at sinamaan ko rin siya ng tingin.
“What the hell are you doing?!” bigla niyang sigaw kaya pareho kaming nagulat ni Reina. Maging ang mga nasa kalapit naming mesa ay napatingin sa amin.
“Ohh. ‘Di ba si Naomi ‘yon ng Atama family?”
“Si Mitsuo rin! He’s the newest guy in the Atama family, right?”
“Whoa. He looks so cool.”
“He looks angry.”
This guy. He’s the stupid one.
I scooped a spoonful of my ice cream and shoved it into his mouth. While glaring at him, I stood up.
‘I told you not to call me stupid. Cool your head off and stay with her.’ Pagkatapos kong sabihin ‘yon ay nagmartsa ako palabas.
Pumunta ako sa fountain area at umupo sa isa sa mga bench na nakapaligid doon. Bumuntong-hininga ako at napaisip ako kung tama ba ang ginawa ko. Cool your head off, huh? Maybe I’m the one who should do that.
Nagulat naman ako nang may narinig ako sa bandang tenga ko. When I turned around, a smirking Akira appeared in front of me. She sat beside me and judging her expression, she might have known what happened earlier. Tss. What a troublesome sixth sense.
“Where’s Kohaku?” pag-iiba ko ng topic.
“Umalis na. He’s on a mission right now. Anyway,” sabay adjust niya sa position niya para nakaharap siya sa akin. “What’s the deal between you and Mitsuo? Mukhang nagiging malapit na kayo ah?”
“He’s annoying. Calling me stupid and funny. Who is he anyway? Damn him.”
“Pfft.” Bigla namang tumawa si Akira kaya tinignan ko rin siya nang masama. “Bukod sa pagsosolve ng crimes, ngayon lang ulit kita nakitang ganito kafrustrated.”
Well, that guy is frustrating. Nakakainis siya.
“Pero, wait. Seryoso ka ba sa ginawa mo? Iniwan mo si Reina kasama si Mitsuo?”
“But he doesn’t like kids, right? Paano kung iwanan niya na lang bigla si Reina doon?”
“He won’t do that.”
Yeah. He won’t do that kind of thing. He may not like kids, but he has a high sense of responsibility. If someone left him an order, even though he doesn’t want to, he would still do and obey it. In a sense, he’s kind of like Hideo. Seriously . . . why does the Atama family only has those kind of guys?
Para mawala ang inis ko ay sinamahan ako ni Akira sa bookshop at bumili ako ng mga libro. I bought three books—From the Criminal’s Point of View, The Depth of Inner Voices and An Emotion Called Love. Those books were written by famous Senshin professors and I think I’m going to read these by the weekend.
Pabalik na kami ni Akira sa dorm nang bigla kong makita na magkasama sina Hideo at Mitsuo, at naglalakad sila papunta sa direksyon namin. Wait, ano nang nangyari kay Reina? Did he really leave her alone?
“Oh! Sila Hideo!” sigaw ni Akira at kumaway siya sa kanilang dalawa. They wore their usual cold and annoyed expressions. Nang makalapit kami sa kanila ay tinitigan ko si Mitsuo.
“What happened to Rei—”
Hindi ko na natapos ang itatanong ko dahil sa ginawa niya. He held my hands.
“Please stop hitting me,” he said while staring intensely at me. My mind went blank and I can’t think of anything.
After that ay agad silang naglakad ni Hideo na parang wala lang nangyari. Pero napatigil ako sa narinig ko.
‘Told you. You just need to surprise Naomi.’ ‘Didn’t know that it will be effective.’ ‘Naomi trusts logic and information. But when a person is surprised or feeling any extreme emotions, he or she will not process any logical reasons and data. He or she will act by instinct or will be swayed by his or her emotions.’ ‘Just like you.’ ‘In a sense. After all, we think alike and she understands me the most.’ ‘Well, I hope she’ll really stop throwing punches and kicks at me. That girl’s strength is unbelievable.’ ‘Been there.’
I want to punch both of their faces but I just stood frozen. Yes, their surprise attack caught me off-guard, but because of that, I also saw a glimpse of his deeper thoughts. And I wish I didn’t see it. I wish I didn’t see that image.
The image of Mitsuo, holding a scythe while killing people. The image of him, smiling while covered in cold blood.