Rie looked at the man in the car beside her as he switched the car into drive and off they sped off into the crowded roads. He did not ask her for her help. Indeed if he was injured he'd hidden it well.
"Put your seatbelt on." He murmured over the silence and she immediately jolted backwards and grabbed the belt pulling it over her body. She hated this car. She always acted like an idiot in it.
No Ikuta Toma, other than to tell her to put on her seatbelt, wasn't going to pay her any attention or even tell her why she was here. Where they were going, or what they were going to be doing.
For all she knew she could be driving to her death right now. Yet somehow she felt like that couldn't be the case because he would have to show some emotion at the thought of her betraying him right? Maybe he was being nice because he realized she'd saved his life...maybe he'd kill her quickly.
She could only pray that Toma did not know what she had done last night when he was away being tortured for punishing the rival yakuza's men who almost killed her.
How could he know that she had already found everything she needed last night so soon? How could he know that it was all close to ending...this whole drama, the lies she'd been forced to feed everyone at Tryst for their trust.
How could he know that she was more confused now than ever that they wouldn't let her return to the office. That more than anything she knew the longer she stayed, the more danger her life was in.
Last Night After the Meeting With Koyama
She'd decided once she read the paper that she knew what she needed to do and today would be the only day he could do it. No one was watching over her, she'd already been shot. Toma wasn't there and really he was the only one who was overly suspicious of her. Jun had left early after discussing something with Tegoshi who was going to go over to Seung Hyun's house after with Yeona.
No this was it. This was the only time she could relay the information to the chief and get the hell out. That paper could either save her or damn her and damn it she was going to make it save her.
She ran despite herself the moment she turned the corner from the club and was sure no one could see her. It wasn't to rush away from the club, but more to rush before she decided to back out of her decision.
She’d texted Inoo Kei an intern at the police department to come pick her up at Hibaya subway station and it was just a few away from Roppongi and Ginza.
She’d go straight to the chief’s house. This sort of information couldn’t wait. She couldn't let it filter through the system if it got distorted.
This was everything they needed to bring their shipment down. Tokaichi port that was where they were landing in three days, somehow they'd managed to get an opening on the border control lines she still wasn't sure but the main fact was they had to catch them as soon as they entered Japan's waters.
She heaved a sigh feeling the air burn in her lungs lighting them on fire. She had brought enough shame on her department by not completing the job on time. This should have been done at least a week ago but Ikuta wouldn't trust her, and righteously so. Any girl who took a bullet for you only so she could later stab you in the back herself couldn't be trusted.
Approaching the station finally she let her feet click faster against the ground as she ran and tumbled into Inoo Kei's car. She would have been more comfortable meeting Mukai but he was restricted from seeing her and the fact he still didn’t know about her arm made her feel like she should resist that temptation.
Keii's face grew aghast at the sight of her arm. “What’s wrong with your arm Tomomasa-san?”
“I got caught in a spat okay? Drive Kei. We can’t get farther away quicker, trust me.” Following her instructions the reckless intern started speeding but of course she couldn’t be bothered with that now. She'd be able to get him out of trouble if they got caught.
Getting a moment to breathe she wondered softly what the repercussions of this would be.
What would Ikuta Toma do to her if he found out? That was the only thing running through her head. Sure, she had saved his life but did it matter in the face of everything she was about to ruin? Did the man consider things like that a debt? Did he even trust her ? Or had that just been her imagination?
Most of all...was this the wrong way to do things?
How could there be a wrong way to stop a criminal?
Then they were there...and she was running out of the car again with Kei struggling to park and keep up with her. Her knocks on her senior's door loud and obnoxious as she saw the lights in the bedroom turn on.
Before she could stop herself the words needed to leave her mouth. Before she could make an even worse mistake and choose to support the wrong side.
“Tomomasa this better be good you woke me- Rie what happened to your arm?” With a surprising amount of affection for an officer he had left all but abandoned in the yakuza den she scoffed.
“Don’t act so shocked. With no direction what do you expect to have happened?” She hissed as she felt him slowly press against it, measuring the damage.
He looked down ashamed. “Why didn’t you tell us? We would have got you medica-“
“And compromise the mission? Are you mad? I didn’t do this half-heartedly sir. I did my job.” She bowed her upper half respectfully but nevertheless couldn’t hold back the malice in her voice. “The sooner I’m off this assignment the better sir. There is far too much involved at play here that I do not want to get involved in.”
Like my strange sympathy for a criminal. “It is not criminal but the relationships between the gangs are more convoluted than you could imagine.” She remembered Christol’s- no Christine’s tears as she crumbled against Koyama’s front. It wasn't a total lie.
“Spit it out then. We’ll need you there at least until the shipment for Intel but we’ll have to bug you now Rie.” She’d already been felt up by Toma for wires but what if he felt her up again to find that she'd been lying?
Would he even be capable of it? She remembered Christine’s description. The man had obviously gone through a beating and a half. He wouldn’t be strong enough to fight her even if he wanted to. She could take him down, if it came down to it she could kill him.
At least she thought so. “It’s Tokachi port, the shipment is coming across three boats each directing from different areas and convening about 300 km off the port before landing. The estimated time of arrivals is set for 3AM three nights from now on Saturday. There’s going to be approximately fifty people on site from the yakuza team. Thirty will manage the transportation of the drugs with the help of the Colombians into trucks disguised as being for food. I’m unsure exactly what brand or product exactly but it should be easy to trace once we’re there. Twenty will be guards armed with everything from knives to AK-47s and Colts. I imagine Ikuta and his chosen team will be overseeing the teams operations.”
“Our goal is to stop the shipment and get them once and for all. Am I understood Rie? I’ll still need your help for that. I need you to lure their team into an area where we’ll be waiting supporting you. We’ll have a stronger backing than them.” She nodded quickly as she felt her heartbeat quicken. It was here, the moment she’d been waiting for now. The moment where she’d become a national star, an icon of all that was good.
And yet here she was dreading it with everything in her heart.
As if being woken up she saw him swerve out from under a car to avoid an accident and she gasped.
She shouldn't become so unaware in his car. It wasn't safe, not anymore. She didn't know when the cops would come to bug her but once it did happen she needed to become aware all the time.
“Are you all right?” She was the one who wanted to ask the question but it came from his mouth.
Unable to hold herself back from analyzing him for harm, she took in her fill of Ikuta Toma. For a man who’d been beaten up it seemed his face was relatively untouched. Only a small gash on the back of his right ear where he must have been spliced by a knife let her know anything had happened.
She wondered what lay under his shirt. What injuries lay behind the perfectly starched white fabric? What wounds percolated in agony, and blood seeped begging for oxygen... “I asked you if you were all right. Not to undress me with your eyes.” His tone was robotic and she immediately turned away scoffing.
"Don't flatter yourself. I- I overheard Christol last night. I know what happened. You didn’t need to kill anyone for me. I feel responsible for the injuries you went through. That's all. Are you feeling okay?” She bit out reluctantly. It was silent in their car long enough that she hit his arm lightly and heard him hiss. "I SAID ARE YOU ALL RIGHT? Don't just shut up and be silent."
He turned to look at her, his eyes narrowed in a glare until he started laughing. In fact he laughed so hard his eyes closed and his driving went wayward though where they were going as usual she had no idea.
Three nights. Three more nights of this shit and then she could leave. No more would she have to deal with him and his erratic barely sane behavior. She had never heard him laugh, not really. This one was true, but bitter yet. Like everything he did was honest and bitter. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to laugh but did you honestly think that was for your benefit? I must say what an idea. Honestly, you are quite creative Lillith. Maybe we should have you designing bombs or something.”
“Don’t make fun of me. Why else would you kill Ryo? What had he done to you?!” She seethed in her seat turning away from him folding her arms over her chest as he sighed looking at her as if she was a child.
“Look. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what you did for me. I can’t say I know many idiots who would take a bullet for me-“
Oh no he didn't. “Gee thanks for calling me an idiot that makes me feel really good about the fact that I endangered my LIFE to save yours.”
“Well rest assured I appreciate it.” He cut back in and the tone of his voice let her know that no more interrupting would be allowed. “The fact of the matter is, they were there to kill me not you. I couldn’t allow people out there to take me for a wimp because I’ve been lying low.”
She did not want to know these things. She did not want to know why a killer thought the way he did, why he thought he could so cruelly murder someone. “Why are you telling me all these things?”
That caught his attention as he looked at her again, his driving precariously close to driving them into the curb. “This is it Lillith. You’re in. There’s no turning back.” His words seemed to indicate something else as if he knew what she had done last night but she turned to look at him and saw nothing but loyalty in his eyes.
No, this wasn’t about him knowing what she had done last night. This was about him telling her that she was part of them now.
That he did trust her.
The very thought of it made her want to roll down the windows and throw up. “I understand. I’m thankful…but I don’t appreciate knowing what influences you to take a gun to someone’s head.”
“You endanger my life I’ll endanger yours. It’s a simple philosophy. You can’t seriously be so disgusted by death if you’re planning on sticking around.” Again, just enough to confuse her but he couldn’t know. She’d been away. “It’s not like I got away unscathed.”
So he did get injured heavily last night...but not enough to demobilize him. “But you knew you wouldn’t die didn’t you? You knew Christine would have no option but to come save you.”
It was like something snapped in Ikuta as he turned quickly into a parking lot and stopped suddenly so that the car behind them honked back noisily but he paid them no mind. “How do you know her name? Her real name?”
“You mentioned it- out in the ocean. Don’t you remember?”
“No Lillith I don’t.” He narrowed his eyes. “Not that it matters, it's hardly a secret in the club. If there’s anything else you know that you shouldn’t you better tell me now.” He started the car quickly again but it wasn’t for long as they parked and he stepped out of the car indicating she should follow. They were at a hospital.
“You got hurt really bad last night didn’t you?”
He didn’t pause much or react to her claim which made her feel even odder for asking. “Yes. That doesn’t mean we’re here for that. I need you to sit on a meeting with me.” He moved so swiftly that even with her height she had to jog to keep up with him.
Without stopping at the reception to find out where they were going Ikuta Toma moved swiftly through the flurry of doctors and nurses. He was hard to keep up with but she noticed whenever he felt like she’d gotten uncomfortably far from him, he slowed down. He would never voice such a thing though. Before she knew it they’d reached the door they wanted to be at, it was not numbered. In fact it lay right between 152 and 153. As if the numbers had been shifted only to accommodate this particular patient.
They entered the room and she saw that it was a hospital room like any other, the man beneath the sheets almost looked familiar.
It was Shige but yet barely so. The man’s face was bruised and blue to an unrecognizable state, she looked at his arms and saw hints of burns.
"Can anyone tell me what would cause this sort of reaction on a human body? What crime?" Mukai called out over the classroom and immediately his best student shot her hand up smiling.
Arson. He was burned. She turned to look at the man beside her, her eyes flickering in fear. How had he killed Ryo? How had he almost killed Shige?
Despite herself she leaned forward to go sit beside Shige's tormented body, to beg for an apology for doing this to him. Ikuta grabbed her hand and pushed her backwards. “I did not bring you here to nurse the guy back to health, rest back Lillith.” He moved forward first and purposeful Ikuta Toma sat down beside the man he had crippled last night.
Shige did not shift except to exhale slowly in his 'sleep'. “Do you think you’re fooling anyone by pretending you’re not awake?” As if just noticing the bouquet of roses he smiled. “You know its really stupid for someone to bring you roses Shige, you’re not a girl.” Before she could stop Toma he had grabbed a rose from the top and took the petals off roughly pushing his hand onto the burn and crushing the petals in to mix with the blisters and hurt skin, the already weakened membrane was ripping apart under the harshness of the pressure Toma applied to the petals rolling them back and forth.
She never thought she'd see the day when someone screamed at the thought of roses. Shige's screams sounded like death to her ears. “That’s better Kato! Nice reminder from last night isn’t it? I’ll stop now.” He lifted his hand as Shige gave him an expression that showed if he could move past the pain he would have snapped Toma’s neck.
Rie wanted to puke. Shige’s forehead was dripping in perspiration as his breaths slowed. “What do you want?”
She had never wanted to run away as badly as she did right now.
“Nothing. I came to talk Shige…and give a message to your boss but we’ll talk first shall we?” He leaned back in the chair smiling. She was shocked at how handsome he looked and yet she had never seen a crueler smile on anyone’s face before. She held back an involuntary shiver. “Did you or did you not try to kill me?”
“It was an order. I follow my orders, Toma no hard feelings you understand I’m sure.” Shige spat out between gasps of pain. He hadn’t quite recovered yet.
Toma started laughing; except there was nothing funny about the situation they were in. “Why? I understand that Yamapi must be getting tired of losing to me but he should own up to it like a man. I sure as hell would not let a subordinate have the pleasure of taking me out. I want to kill him with my bare hands.” Rie’s eyes flew open. Toma as brutal as he was and as violent as he had a tendency to be, never ever openly vocalized his urge to act violent.
He acted it out but he did not threaten like this.
“You were not the target.” Shige seethed and looked at Rie. So he had noticed she was here she looked away. She couldn’t face him. Toma raised an eyebrow obviously not expecting this answer.
She didn’t know how to react. After all she’d just been told that she was supposed to be shot last night. “Well then, considering that there were only two people around last night, the girl behind me and myself why would you want to kill her? She's not fucking the lady of the house.” If she’d had any doubt about what Christine meant to him, she didn’t anymore.
Shige couldn’t hold back a cackle but hissed shortly after as he felt a pinch of pain. “You must be a fool to not figure that out right away. He knows about her. He doesn’t approve Toma and despite the fact we battle against each other. He called in a favour with Tomohisa-sama, and who is Tomohisa-sama to deny his father-in-law? He didn’t want it to be an inside job because he knew you'd find out about it and either you or Jun would convince him to let her live.”
He…Rie mouthed softly. Who know about who? Called in a favour to kill her? Who would want to kill her? She hadn’t quite pissed off Koyama that much had she? He was Christine's husband's father-in-law?
Toma had another answer on his lips. “Takuya?” Shige’s silence seemed like confirmation to him. “You’re telling me Takuya knows about her.” He pointed backwards to her but didn’t bother to look at her. She couldn’t make out what he felt like, it seemed like his face had lost all emotion.
She remembered when she started this, Toma had mentioned something. Someone if he found out about her and what she was doing for them, her life and his would be in danger.
“Absolutely not. He disapproves of women in our line of work and a girl as weak as her he’ll definitely kill me for it even if she’s not on the front line. Hell he might even kill her. I don’t know but she’s an expense we can’t afford and by taking her on I’m practically handing over everything to you.”
“It’s not so much her that pisses him off…it’s you. He wants to punish you for not staying true to his daughter, for back-using Jun to lie to him about Oliver’s death. She’s not even Christine after all and how many girls do you hope to amass Ikuta? He only tolerated Christine because of blood. This girl means nothing to him. He wouldn’t be scared of killing her off.” That caught her attention as Shige turned to look at her a frown set in his features as he coughed. “You’ve done so much better than this guy that it really does sicken me seeing you with him, Lillith.” Her name came out as an after thought and she felt her throat catch.
“I’m not with him!” She burst out. “It’s- it’s not what you think it is Shige.”
“Don’t try to lie to me!” He interrupted his voice revebrating off the blank walls of the hospital and she felt her body freeze. “I know what I saw Lillith, don’t you FUCKING try to lie to me. I saw you jump in front of this guy.” She cast her eyes downwards, the silence in the room uncomfortable. “No one in their right mind would save this jackass and I really wonder what’s going through your mind. You’re obviously a bat shit crazy slut. If only the world were to know.” He started laughing and suddenly she knew.
It all made sense. Why Koyama had only approached her after she got shot...why Shige was disappointed in her right now.
Koyama Keiichiro and Kato Shigeaki weren’t just anyone. They weren’t just people who had happened to get interested in her strangely as a new recruit at Tryst.
They were all taking care of her. They were watching over her just as her.
She felt her heart pump beyond itself as she realized.
They knew about Mukai.
They knew Mukai. They were part of the operation. They were the ones watching over her and yet they were meant to shoot her? How could they support her, a member of the justice department, and be criminals themselves?
Her officers had approve this? But last night, her chief’s face looked shocked as he took in her bloodied fabric. Mukai-
Before she could jump to her defense Toma had tightened his hold on Shige’s burn and she saw Shige wince. His body writhing in pain, but Toma didn’t stop. He pulled his hand away into his jacket and pulled out a lighter and got ready to light Shige’s body on fire again.
Before Rie could think more she jumped forward and pulled on his hand roughly. “Toma stop.” She whispered softly in his ear but he wasn’t paying attention, the flame from the lighter coming close to the white fabric an inch away from bursting into orange. “TOMA! STOP!” She shrieked as Toma continued looking downwards angrily at the cocky Kato who knew that by Toma’s actions he’d accomplished the best he could in this disadvantaged battle. He’d angered the guy to an unreal extreme. “Toma...he doesn’t deserve that.” Toma suddenly looked back at her his eyes slowly letting reality back into them as he shut the lighter off. He pulled his arm from hers.
“Don’t talk to her like that again if you want to live. She’s a far more honorable person than you are Kato Shigeaki even if she is an idiot half the time.” He got up quickly and gave her a look to follow him as they got ready to leave. Her confusion at his words marring her forehead with unnecessary wrinkles…she was not an idiot he needed to stop calling her that. “Tell Yamapi he won, Christine’s going back. Tell him to stay the fuck away from Lillith from now on, whether Takuya ordered it or not. And tell him if he wants to kill me to come out like a man and shoot me because I can’t stand this fucking shit any longer.” She was shocked to find that he didn’t bother waiting for her to keep up with him because he’d grabbed her hand and in an instant they were out of the door.
But not before they heard Shige laughing. “WE’RE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK.”
Rie felt a headache hit her because the we that Shige was talking about wasn’t him or anyone from the Yamashita yakuza clan.
It was her. She was their weapon and she couldn't help but think as she looked between where Shige's door had been and the back of the man pulling her ahead.
What side was the right side?