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Finding a Friend Again - Chapter 1 [Blood+ Post-Finale]
Years. So many years. Why was I still searching after ten years of never even seeing her. She was sixteen then. She would be grown by now. She probably had her own family, and she probably had her own life. She wouldn't remember me. Min let all of these thoughts run through her head as the plane landed in Okinawa, Japan. She had no idea where to start except at a hotel. She needed a 'home base'. The thought of such a childish adventure made a girlish giggle escape her lips. The years at the Five Arrows Academy really didn't do much to make her the 'refined young lady' her parents had visioned. In the end, it never mattered for her. She left as soon as she could to go find one of her only friends in the world. If she were being honest, Saya had been her only friend. Especially at the Five Arrows Academy. After Saya had gone, everyone had tried making up every rumor possible. Min had tried her hardest, but by the time graduation rolled around, it just didn't work.
Still, she knew Saya was somewhere. If it were any other outcome from that night, she might have forgotten it. She might have even tried to retain some of the lessons from Five Arrows, but she remembered quite clearly.
"Is she going to be here yet?" Erik complained again. He was from America, and it would have been interested for Saya to meet someone from America. Min paced the top step a few more times. She looked up at Erik, who seemed a little irritated, and simply shook her head. She sat down on the step and sighed.
"I don't know. Saya is never like this," she mumbled, feeling hopelessly depressed. They sat and waited... until the sound of footsteps approached. A blond man with a tuxedo, someone Min swore she saw with Saya earlier that night ran out. He was shouting instructions hastily into a cell phone. A women with long blond hair was right behind him. Then, just as Min thought the night couldn't get any stranger, Saya followed up.
"Saya?" Min asked, shocked. Saya looked at her with deep, red eyes that held more than just color. Min's dress, the one she'd lent Saya that night, was slashed and ruined. Blood covered Saya, and a cut on her cheek was healing before her eyes.
"Min..." she'd said, wondering how she could ever comfort such a new, sweet friend. Saya knew exactly what Min had seen... and her heart burned with the reality that Min might never see her as a friend again. Another man with long brown hair tied back stopped behind Saya. He gave her a meaningful look to hurry, and then both were gone.
Min sighed at the memory. Erik had asked if she'd wanted a doctor. He'd been such a sweet guy about this, but all Min wanted was for Erik to keep it silent. Of course, when he didn't, the girls made up every rumor. She's a witch. She's a murderer. She's this or that. Min frowned at the negative memories, trying to fill ones that were happy. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to think of one without her friend from the academy.
A week after Saya was gone, her dress had been returned to her mysteriously. It was repaired as if nothing had been damaged at all. There wasn't a stain, and there was a single rip anymore. If she didn't know any better, she would have thought it was a replica, but her signature in the bottom hem - one she put in all of her favorite dresses - was still there. She still had the dress. She still had the memories.
After finding her way to a near by hotel, she made a hasty check in and took a quick shower. Traveling always made her feel gross. Being cramped next to other people on a plane, some of them not so friendly, and the heat of summer in Okinawa City itself made sweat and smell feel all the more alive on her skin. After a hot shower, she dressed into a simple pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She'd made a habit of simplicity ever since leaving the academy. It was practical.
Her light brown hair was still short, and it had started to suite her face perfectly. Growing had caused her features to become a little finger and more elegant. She'd finally grown into herself. Of course, she still felt self conscious, and she still didn't have a boyfriend... More memories of Saya and Min having boy talks made Min giggle. She picked up her purse and slid on her sneakers, planning to scout the city. She remembered that Saya had once lived here with her brothers. Maybe... just maybe...
"No," Min said to herself, physically stopping the memories with a word. She wouldn't bet her hopes up to be crushed again. She just wouldn't. Min took the first map she could pick off the racks, reading over the different locations. It had taken her a while to finally learn Japanese, but the four years of learning payed off. She was a little fluent, but she still struggled with formalities once in a while. Either way, the people were friendly when she asked for directions to one place or another in Okinawa City.
She stopped at a calmer part of town for lunch around noon. She had ordered a bowl of noodles and started to eat. Her ears were open as she let conversations from all over the bar fill up. She'd almost misread the name of the place, but the owner was pretty laid back about it. He'd actually joked about renaming at some point too. She smiled and finished her noodles, listening to the early afternoon chatter. Another couple came in too, chatting and holding a baby boy in their arms. The blond little boy scampered across the room and immediately to a door that would have probably lead to an upstairs apartment. The couple chuckled and went straight to the bar, catching the owner's attention right away.
Something was eerily familiar about the blond male and his companion. The female giggled as the owner said something that must have been amusing.
"I know. He just loves to see those girls. I'm sorry about their fuss," she said, taking a seat while the blond male simply leaned against the bar to listen. Another female came in too. She was about Min's age this time with light brown hair like hers. Her smile was bright, and Min couldn't help but keep a close ear on the conversation as the girl went to immediately join the group.
"Hey, Kai! Just wanted to check up on you." The owner - Kai - chuckled and shook his head.
"Kaori, if I need babysitting, I'd need it for a kid. Not for me."
"What's the difference?" the blond male joked. The voice creeped into her memories even heavier than before. To escape the uncomfortable feeling she might be missing something vital, she set her eyes to examine the bar.
What was the name again? she thought, trying to recall the characters in her head. Miyagusuku's? That's right! Her mini-triumph caused her to smile and look around the bar further. If she stayed here a little longer before returning to see her parents, she might come back. A couple of college kids stumbled in, obviously bar hopping for a cheap thrill that night. Min avoided eye contact with one as it strutted past her, showing off what little muscle he had. While they walked to the bar, one gave her a passing glance before ordering a drink. Min shivered at what might have passed through his head. It was a little after noon, and already, it felt like home. The only difference was the men were younger and drunk off actual beer, not wine. They also weren't as... refined? Who could be refined when they were even a little buzzed? Something always slipped.
Min finished her food and ordered a water. It was a little later in the afternoon when she finally got around to leaving. She hadn't payed attention (or had tried not to) to the group of rowdy males who were happily drinking away. She wondered how people lived long drinking like that. She also ignored the fact that they'd been following her, one with a determined look in his eyes. Long years of the academy made her hold composure as she turned a corner into a direction she didn't recognize.
He'd seen the funny looks David had given that girl all night. It didn't seem right. It could have been because of the rowdy boys that were making sick jokes about her. It could have been because he was slightly over protective over any female... but this wasn't a protective look. It was suspicious. It was as if he were in the Red Shield again... Kai didn't like it. He'd worked with David when the Red Shield still had a purpose, but the group had long since disbanded. He'd taken over his dad's old bar then. Julia had tried her best to help David move on, but once in a while, that same look would cross. It was as if everything on this earth was scum, and every one of them was a threat to what he was always working hard for.
Kai noticed Julia looking worried. It echoed Kai's thoughts. He nodded knowingly before calling for Kaori. She smiled at Kai.
"Mind coming into work a bit early?" That was the only reason Kaori was there at all. She worked at the bar now, being just the right age for it, and was always there a little early to socialize. Kaori grinned and nodded while Kai handed her the apron. He took a seat next to David.
"Something up?" he asked, running a hand through his hair. David shook his head.
"Do you see that girl? I think I've seen her before," David said, his eyes narrowing a little more. The girl was obviously occupied in her own thoughts and trying to ignore the boys. They started making rude gestures at her. "I think I've seen her face before... but where it was I don't remember."
Kai highly doubted he forgot a face, but he didn't push it. "Just take it easy," he muttered, punching David's shoulder lightly. David grinned weakly and took hold of Julia's hand. Julia sent Kai a look of thanks. Kai didn't recognize the girl. For all he knew, she was just a random tourist. She definitely wasn't from Okinawa.
David was still tense until the girl left. When the group followed after her, obviously tailing her, David stiffened again. He stood and kissed Julia's cheek.
"I'll be back in a bit. I'm going for a short walk." It was an obvious lie, but trying to sway David when he was set on a target was a waste of time. Kai was already off work for a while.
"I'm coming with," he said. "I've got time to kill before the rush comes and Kaori's going to need my help." He gave David his hopelessly stubborn look. David almost laughed. It was the same look Kai had given him when David had beaten him senseless for the first time. It didn't end there either. He simply nodded and started out. Julia looked at Kaori.
"Those boys," she muttered. Kaori nodded sympathetically as Julia's son, Lance, and two twin girls stumbled down the stairs. The boy tugged on his mothers skirt mercilessly until she finally hoisted him onto her lap.
"Me, Mai, and Aella want to go play in the park. Can we?" Julia laughed.
"The question is 'May we?' and ask Kai for the girls to go with you. Not me..." She stopped in the middle. Kai had gone with David. "I'll take you out in ten minutes." Lance nodded and the three children ran off. It had been nearly ten years. She was still afraid to let them off to the park across the street on their own.
Kai stopped looking in the window as the kids ran off. David started to tug him down the street. They walked in complete silence, following the only clues they knew. Empty beer cans or garbage tossed here or there.
A female scream pierced the night air, and Kai immediately ran in that direction. David followed right behind him. Just as they reached a dark street, another screech rang out, and a yell of terror from a male. The female from earlier with light brown hair had mercilessly sprayed one with pepper spray, and any others that got too close. Kai hated grown men who bullied women. He'd loathed it enough to cause fights over it. With a near feral growl, he rammed one of the guys off his feet. David started to mutter directions to Kai and the girl like he used to, telling them to watch their backs as they beat the large group of college boys off. By the end of it, the girl was in an irritated, yet quiet mood as they walked her back to the bar.
"It wasn't even night!" she finally snapped. "It's not even a decent cliche, but it happened to me. Me!" She shook off David's hand that had gently touched her shoulder. She turned to retort something at him when recognition finally slapped her in the face. Her eyes widened, and at that moment, David finally remembered that scared little face with short brown hair. She'd stood there in a golden prom dress, and Saya had demanded the lavender dress went to this same girl in perfect condition.
Min slapped the man. "I know you!" she gasped. "I know you, and I hate you! You took my friend from me. You took... you took Saya!" Kai's eyes widened, and David glared viciously at her. Yes, he would remember that. Kai grabbed her wrist and held her back.
"What are you talking about?" he asked, his confusion piling on. He wasn't with Saya the whole trip, and he didn't know this girl who claimed that Saya was her friend. The girl turned to him and glared. She pointed at David.
"Saya was my only friend at the Five Arrows Academy. She was the only true friend I've had in life... and I haven't seen her for ten years." Tears started to form in the girl's eyes, and Kai's confused look only grew more worried and puzzled. David grabbed the girl roughly by the shoulder and stared directly into her eyes.
"What do you remember about that night?" David asked, fighting the urge to become a Red Shield agent once more.
"I remember it was a ball. It was the biggest one of the year. I let Saya borrow my dress, and when she rushed off suddenly, I was worried. I wanted to make that scared look she always had go away. I brought some guy who was at the party to wait for her with me, saying he might like her. Then, she came out with... blood... and cuts... and my dress was ruined, but Saya was healing. In front of my eyes, her cuts closed up, and then you stepped out and that other guy"-
David cut her off with a firm look. "Kai," he said, "This was Saya's roommate at that academy I told you about. She was the one who saw Saya the night we had to run off... and she hasn't forgotten."
Kai's eyes widened a little more, and David loosened his grip on her shoulder. There was no easy way to deal with this. He couldn't just tell this girl that Saya would sleep for thirty years and never age. He couldn't just tell her everything... could he?
"What I'm not forgetting myself is manners. This girl was just attacked. Come back to the bar, and we'll fix you something." He took her wrist and tugged her down the street. Min yanked her hand out of his wrist and started to walk off on her own, making her way back there. Kai just followed and kept David from snapping himself. Talk about the worse rush of memories ever.