Rie looked around her as she entered the club for her second last shift before the shipment arrived.
Then again it was probably her second-last shift ever. After the shipment arrived why would she come back? Everything that she was sent here for would be complete, her life here as Lillith would be over.
How could she come back without asking to be killed right at the entrance?
This would also be her first shift without Christol breathing down her throat. The first weird thing she’d noticed as she’d walked in was that the club looked exactly the same as it had any other night she’d worked here. She’d expected it to look lacking without its head bitch boss and yet it looked like not a thing had moved since the night where she’d overheard Koyama and Christine.
She thought of Tryst as the representation of Ikuta Toma’s inner state. If it was well-composed so was he, and if it was in chaos- well she’d be better off avoiding him that night.
She swallowed the ball forming in her throat…did this mean nothing had changed for him? What was change anyways? She was reminded of his frantic face as he ran away yesterday leaving her to the lions to be with Christine…and why shouldn’t he? She shut her eyes but felt her heart jump when she saw the image of the two of them holding onto each other desperately, glued to the back of her eyelids.
How was she supposed to face him after seeing that? No doubt he would be here today, so would Jun. Though she knew Jun would stay out of her way, if not for her own sanity then probably for his.
She walked to the bar. Today she was decked out in a gun metal silver bra detailed with metal chunks and clasps around the A-line. She’d let herself wear relatively comfortable shoes, just simple black flats with a diamond ornament.
Spotting Wana, she smiled running to the girl immediately. If there was one person in this place that Rie knew she could rely on, it was Wana. Though she hadn’t seen or spoken to her in since she’d been shot. The last she remembered of Wana was that the girl had been crying holding her hand as she screamed while Daisy pulled out her bullet.
That could never be the last time they were in each other’s company. Once she brought down Wana’s brother she doubted the girl would want anything to do with her anyways. “Wana!” Wana turned to her and for a second her face seemed frozen. It was as if she didn’t quite recognize Rie but then her eyes lit up again and Wana hugged her.
“Lillith.” Rie gulped. That name. Why was it becoming easier to answer to? Wana’s arms were tight over her shoulders. Their embrace was almost suffocating and Rie parted from her in breathy gasps. “How are you feeling?”
“Better now that I’ve seen you. I’m not looking forward to today.”
“I don’t think any of us were.” Wana took a look at the girls and their dour expressions. So far just Yeona and Sam seemed to be working with them. It wasn’t that they missed Christol but none of them wanted her to have left the way she’d been forced to yesterday. “Can you grab me a glass from the other end of the bar?” Rie nodded as she marched forward to the end of the bar and leaned down to grab the snifter glass and turned around to see Daisy march up to her.
When had she come?
Her face was devoid of emotion as she pulled Rie roughly right in front of her. “Watch your back.” The harsh cut of her words made Rie’s knees quiver for just a second.
For a second Daisy looked aggravated but then she glanced behind her and that expression disappeared. A colder look steeled her features as her mouth opened, her words obviously carefully thought out. “I said get the fuck out of my way I need a session glass.” Without another word Daisy grabbed her by the shoulder and pushed her to side.
That meant she couldn’t ask anymore. She’d already been told what she could be told. This was all Daisy could do for her.
Rie tried her best not to be irked but she saw Wana beckon her with her perfectly navy nails and marched back to her friend, planting herself by her side. As soon as the glass was in reachable distance Wana grabbed it and took a bottle of Korbel into her hands and expertly poured herself a glass of the premium brandy.
Rie stood blinking dumbly as she looked around her and saw no one had seen Wana down the brandy. “Wana are you okay? We haven’t even started working yet… you know we’re not allowed to drink.”
“Oh haven’t we started working?” Wana bit back laughing as Rie stared at her. “I mean it sure seems like we’re working already. Sometimes if I wonder we work all the time.” The rest of the night seemed just as strange with Wana almost making her drop three glasses due to the lack of synchrony between them in their routine. The customers glared at her, and for a second she was reminded of her first night here.
After what seemed like an eternity she saw him come inside. It was only 12 but then again he probably didn’t have anything to do before now that almost everything was ready. He came alone tonight; there was no usual Tegoshi and Massu flagging him. He looked at her and blinked. It wasn’t a sign or something she should take to mean he wanted to see her but that was all she needed to jump from her spot beside Wana and run towards him.
“Are you okay?” She saw his eyes shut tightly as if he didn’t want to really deal with the thought behind that question.
“I need your help. Tell Wana you’ll be busy and come inside.” He moved swiftly leaving her in the middle of the dance floor.
Wana didn’t complain, simply looked back blankly at her. “You’re really going to do this?”
“Do what?” She answered dumbly raising an eyebrow.
“Nothing Lillith. Go inside, help Toma while you still can.” Her words left a strange bitterness in Rie’s mouth as she moved off the bar and slowly walked to the back of the club. She was saddened by the lack of a Koyama there smiling at her. He would have teased her expression right now which was fraught with worry. Nothing was really blending in like it was supposed to. Nothing seemed right and yet everything was the way it had always been. The only major difference was Christol wasn’t here…and while that should have only made her feel better it made her feel scared.
She entered the room. She hadn’t been alone with him in here in a long time now. There was a pile of papers at the other end of the table. Toma had taken to the three-seater and was lying down on it with his hands over his eyes. He was sleeping, or so he wanted her to think. He was perfectly silent and yet not one inch of his body screamed relaxed. She could see the way his body jerked when she’d entered the room. She wasn’t blind. “Do you think you’re a better actor than Shige?”
A smile touched his lips as he sat up and shook his head yawning. “I was trying to sleep. I’ll need my sleep over the next two days. Translate the pile there for me. I need it by the end of your shift tonight.”
She should have cursed him. There was no way that she could translate that pile that fast but without another word she sat down and picked up her translation materials and started. If he’d expected a fight from her, he wasn’t going to get one tonight.
An hour passed in silence and while she should have bothered to be scared she couldn’t find the effort or capacity to be. Her attention had to be solely on the pile. She’d only done about 8 sheets and she still needed to get through about 20 more. The rate she was going at was no good. Toma leaned back on the sofa again lying down and she let her eyes flitter to him for a second before flying back to the pages. So far nothing useful, no other details she should have known. The only thing that had seemed remotely useful from the pages had been a description of the hull that was transporting the goods itself. The ship was a Panamax, identified as a ID 7C90, a large vessel that would no doubt be carrying a lot of other cargo on it in addition to the cocaine…probably the products that would be on the truck that would transport the cocaine. The mix would be figuring out which truck had the shipment once it was off the ship.
That caught her attention. She let her eyes fly up as she saw him looking back at her. His hands were behind his head and his black shirt seemed to stretch abnormally tight over his arms and she blinked away back to the papers. She shouldn’t have looked at him in the first place. “Are you?” She replied back skeptically.
“No.” She placed her pencil flat down on the table. “Don’t do that. I want you to work.” She picked her pencil up again. “But-“ She clenched her teeth together and put the pencil down again. He was laughing at her obvious indecisiveness on whether to give all her attention to him or the translation.
He didn’t bother her again except she felt herself keep looking back at him as he tossed and turned and generally made himself an utter distraction. She couldn’t help but wonder if he really wanted to be where he was. If he truly loved Christol or Christine or whatever her name was at some point, wouldn’t he have wanted a life with her? A normal life? Where they could, like Mukai and she, live out their hearts desires? “Are you really all that evil Toma?”
He didn’t answer her right away and when she heard him sigh she was almost sure the answer she would get would be something like get back to work. Instead she was quite shocked to hear him encouraging her. “What does that word mean to you? Evil?”
“I mean do you really want to do what you’re doing right now? Don’t you want to be that boy again? The boy you were before you got involved with Takuya?” She could say it a million different ways but what she was really asking him was if he wanted to be good again.
“That boy hated his life.” That shocked her as she saw him turn around and look at her with a lazy expression that would have melted the heart of any girl. “Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say he hated his circumstances. He was born to be left forgotten. The one thing that gave him purpose was snatched away. The me that you see before you now is much more fitting to the image don’t you think? Without her, I was always meant to become this. A ruthless killer whose motives you should not be questioning. It wouldn’t do to be a hero when there’s nothing to save.” It was a small hint but she disregarded it easily. Her next question as eagerly pushed forward as the one before.
“Do you truly think this is what you were meant to become?”
“For a girl who speaks big destructive things in Takuya’s den, you’re mighty demure and good now.” She should shut up. Whenever he said things like this, it was an obvious sign she should shut up.
Yet somehow today she felt like she should push the envelope a little further. Or she’d never get a chance to find out the truth about Ikuta Toma before she ruined him. “I don’t think that’s true. I think that you’re not meant for this.”
“Is that what you think? How nice for you. You, like much of the human population, have a right to think. Even if what you think is absolute rubbish.” He smiled widely obviously enjoying his joke immensely at her expense.
“It’s only as rubbish as the person listening it to is.”
He groaned as if in agony twisting away from her so his expression was hidden. “Lillith… do your work and let me sleep. We won’t be getting much sleep tomorrow.” She was thankful he was turned away so he wouldn’t see her blush.
She looked back to her papers that mocked her with their incompleteness. Right. 10 pages done, only 10 left. This wasn’t impossible if anything talking to him was making her work harder and quicker than before. Still if he wanted her to shut up she would. She quickly scribbled away another passage on time zone variances and gulped as she felt the pencil between her fingertips pushing on her nails.
It was just a slight jolt but she felt her arm twitch as she stretched it a little too far while writing. Her injury only gave her slight shocks of pain now.
For a second, she was reminded of his expression as he took in her bloodied state. Begging her to reply to breathe to do something that reminded him that she wasn’t dead yet.
Coldblooded and ruthless, he most definitely was not. Toma killed with a purpose and that purpose was apparent to her now. Even if it wasn’t apparent to him. “You’re not.”
“God help me what the hell am I not now Lillith?” He didn’t turn back to look at her but his tone was different now. Where he’d sounded aggravated before he only sounded mildly humored now. It was the only reassurance he could give her to let her know it was okay for her to continue talking.
“You’re not a cold-blooded killer.”
“You haven’t seen me at my worst Lillith. There’s a reason I head the ‘team’.” He sounded tenser now but he kept his face away from hers. She focused her eyes on the Spanish passages but again she found the pencil in her hand loosing grip each jolt of pain only bringing back the image of the Toma who had saved her just as she had saved him. “I promise you I’m exactly as I say I am. I could kill you right now and you wouldn’t even realize what happened.”
“You aren’t Toma.” She pushed back insistently and saw him sit up. In a second he was in front of her, in another second he was uncomfortably close to her face. He was trying to get her to shut up. She growled under her breath. Like hell she was going to listen. “You killed Nagase because of what he did.”
She saw his expression fall. He’d wanted to challenge her but now he just looked appalled. “How do you know about that?”
She couldn’t answer him. She couldn’t tell him everything that she had heard between Koyama and Christine. To tell him that would be to sentence Koyama to death. “You were only protecting her. That’s what made you kill him.”
The sneer on his face grew stronger as he pushed her hands down on the arm of her chair and gripped them tightly standing up taller so he could lean forward towards her and she leaned back against the chair automatically.
They were running out of space between them.
She knew Ikuta Toma well enough now to know what the purpose was to do this to girls he wasn’t even attracted to. He wanted to make them scared, quiet them down. She wasn’t going to be quiet just because he was getting a little close to her face. He wouldn’t kiss her, he wasn’t in that frame of mind. All he could think of was scaring her into shutting up.
Poor guy didn’t know she feared almost nothing. “What about the men I’ve killed before Nagase? Have you thought about them?”
“The only person who seems disillusioned right now is you.” He turned away from her but she grabbed his hand. She let go of it just as soon as she had pulled herself up from the arm chair and found herself face to face with him.
“You don’t kill to do anything other than protect those who you love and those who are precious to you.”
Suddenly his eyes widened and she saw his mouth stretch into a smile. She felt her stomach turn over itself flopping like it weighed a million tons. The mere sight of his smile made her feel like collapsing.
How pathetic. He leaned closer to her, his cheek achingly close to hers but never actually touching it. “Lillith…dear.” Her breath hitched in her throat as she felt his hand slowly shift back a strand of hair behind her ear. “You’re not precious to me.”
He was trying to make this more emotional than it was. He was trying to make her lose focus and she narrowed her gaze before he could let his hand fall from her face she grabbed his wrist in her palm and snarled. “You say that but I’m starting to think you’re a liar. You want to make yourself a killer? Fine. You’re a killer but don’t call yourself cold-blooded when you aren’t. You aren’t Takuya’s robot, nor his device or his toy who he plays with. You can lie all you want Toma…it’s just too bad I can see through every black word out of your mouth. Designed only to hide how you really feel about everything.”
“Lillith,“ She saw his face fall from its cruel expression into one more bewildered. “Why are you even-“
But she wouldn’t let him finish. “You have no intention of marrying Talia - in fact I wonder if you have any intention to even take over Takuya’s empire- maybe you’re just planning on ripping it all apart and burning even its ashes-“
“ENOUGH.” He boomed. The ferocity behind his language left her breathing hard. That and the fact she hadn’t taken a breath at all between her lecturing him. His eyes were enlarged looking down on her with such a strong ferocity that she felt her head go woozy. She had never challenged him so openly. “Get out.”
And she was starting to regret it. “But I’m not do-“
“GET THE FUCK OUT OF THIS ROOM RIGHT NOW.”
“NO.” She bit back roughly pushing his chest shocking even herself at how aggressive she was being. She saw him look down at his body and then he snarled and moved forward pushing her shoulder back.
Saying it didn’t hurt would be a lie. The amount of force he’d back into his hand left her rubbing her shoulders gently to ease the tension out. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Did you not hear me?”
“Seriously. Why are you doing this? What kind of crazy woman are you? What benefit do you get from doing this? Nothing. So just stop. Stop trying to become something you can't repl-“
She couldn't let him finish that sentence. Or both she and he would end up on a road that wasn't meant for now. “BECOME SOMETHING?” She shot back indignantly. “I’m not trying to do anything but show you who you are. I don’t want anything from this you sick asshole!” She shot back. How could he say something like that to her? She didn’t want a thing! Did she? “Don’t you dare lie to me. You have nothing to gain from lying to me just like I have nothing to gain by asking you the truth.” She cursed back and saw the ridicule in his eyes.
He looked down and her eyes followed his. She saw his hands grip themselves tightly, the veins in his arms protruded angrily and she gulped. “Get out Lillith. Before I do something I’ll regret.”
Despite herself she looked back at him and shook her head. “You won’t. You’re-”
“LILLITH GET OUT.” He grabbed her hand and roughly held her wrist in his grasp and she was shocked to feel her heart stop.
Fire was the only thing she felt. His one touch had brought such a heat to her body and she looked down at his hands. No- there was nothing cold about this guy. There was no way he wanted to be doing this.
Perhaps it was her own form of delusion but she did not want to see this man end up at the bottom of some prison hole and he needed to give her something to work with. He needed to give her a reason to fight for him.
She heard the gasps from the bar as they came forth from the curtains blocking the club from his office. She saw from the corner of her eyes Wana was running to catch up to her brother but she was held up by customers. Maybe Wana thought that she was in trouble. Wana gave her a scared expression but before she could mouth or return it with a calm one she was already outside the club staring at Toma’s darkened eyes as he whistled a cab down for her.
“You’re really starting to piss me off. I’m regretting keeping you alive.” She shivered under his stare. He was looking at her like she was a piece of meat to slap around and she knew that wasn’t a good sign for her but that did tell her one thing.
She’d gotten to him. Which was the only thing that mattered, maybe- just maybe - she could save him from the future that inevitably awaited this whole clan. “If I cared about that I’d have stopped pushing you a lot earlier.” She gulped as she saw the cab reach them. She only had about a minute before Toma’s curiousity ran out and he threw her unceremoniously into the back of this cab. “You’ve locked yourself into this cage and you don’t even know how you got here.” And if I can…I’ll try to save you.
He faltered, his grip went loose on her wrist before he let go of her completely on purpose. It was a guess. She didn’t know but she was glad she’d guessed it. She was stuck staring at him as his eyes cast downwards and she saw his adam’s apple bob. “I’m almost sorry to tell you, but you’re wrong Lillith. I know exactly how I got here and where I’m going.”
“I only wish I was. Life would have been easier for you and me both.” She let herself reach for the door of the cab willingly and entered it. He must have been expecting a fight from her but she was ready to leave. She couldn’t give him the satisfaction of her kicking and screaming against him right now. The cab driver sped off but not before she saw Wana tumble out of the doors of the club just a little too late.
Wana ran to Toma’s side and shook his shoulder but Toma’s gaze would not be deterred as it was kept fixed on the cab which was driving away. Wana was screaming at him until he turned his face towards her and she pointed to the cab.
Rie gulped. Something was happening. Everything was changing yet again.
But this time, it was no one’s fault but her own.
But the decision to save Ikuta Toma’s life, to reawaken his humanity, to do something to get him to admit the innate goodness she could sense from him- this was a choice that she could never regret.
Even if he did decide to kill her in the end.