- POV Switch -
There were footsteps in the hall of the school way past closing hours. The principal stood up from his desk and walked outside his office to investigate. He leaned out of his room and looked left and right. Toward the left hall, a door was closed slightly and light poured from the open crevice in the door. The principal crept his way over to the door, opened it and peered through.
To his ultimate surprise, a tall young man was standing in the center of the room, munching on a piece of pastry. The man turned around and looked straight at the principal, who smiled and opened the door wide. He stepped in and took a piece of pastry from the box by the young man and ate it.
“That was bought for the sole purpose of feeding only me,” the young man said, glancing sidelong at the intruder.
“Ah, well, you snuck into my school passed closing hours,” the principle chided. “I deserve some type of payment, right?”
The young man smirked and clapped the principal on the back.
“You haven’t changed one bit, Sir Renkai.”
“Neither have you, kiddo,” came the response as the principal ruffled the hair of the man. “So what made you finally show up?”
“Seizuru’s on the move,” he answered, straightforwardly.
“Oh is he? He won’t be able to do much while he’s missing four billion stackrem from his bank account.”
“Wow, you charged him four billion stackrem?”
The principal nodded his head and chewed thoughtfully.
“Of course! After what he’s trying to do, I should’ve fined him more!”
“Phew,” the young man whistled. “But he’s been doing good business lately.”
“Exactly, we need to plan something before all that money comes flying back into his pockets.”
“What are you planning, Sir?”
“Nothing at the moment, I can’t think straight with my daughter in the hands of that man’s slave,” the principal answered, sitting down in one of the armchairs in the room.
“She’s not with your secretary?”
“My secretary had to come back for an important meeting; she’s staying at that boy’s house right now.”
“She’s what?!” the young man exclaimed, leaning forward in horror.
“Calm down, kiddo, she’s fine. The boy has yet to know what his role is in this game,” the answer came smoothly.
“But she’s with a boy! What if they-”
“Fall in love? They probably already have,” the principle replied smugly.
“Sir, your promise-”
“My promise still stands and you will appear when your time is right, be patient.”
The young man leaned against the table and looked at the principal. He sighed and lifted his head up to the ceiling. He reached for a pastry and found the box empty. He looked at the principal and smirked wryly.
“You didn’t bother to share,” he commented, lifting the box closer to his face to examine the contents.
“No, kiddo, you were just too slow. Too busy acting cool that you didn’t realize I had eaten all of the pastries,” the principal replied, standing up and dusting the crumbs off his pants.
“He’s sent spies towards me,” the young man suddenly exclaimed.
“I know, my Intel has informed me,” was the answer.
The young man watched as the principal left the room to go back into his office. The door closed shut softly before he walked over to the window and looked out discreetly. He peeped through the curtains, noticing a few men get out of their cars and rush towards the building.
“We’ve got company,” he murmured.
He strolled out of the room, taking a long iron pipe with him. He twirled the pipe in one hand and stuffed his other hand into his pocket as he made his way straight towards the main stairwell. He whistled as he went, steadily making progress towards the intruders. When he got to the stairwell, he stopped right at the middle, placed the pipe by his side, and stared down at the dark main floor. Five men were making their way up the stairs but when they realized the young man was there, they stopped in their tracks and stared back at him.
“Can I help you with something?” he asked, nonchalantly.
He watched half-amusedly as the men turned toward each other and began to whisper and discuss something.
“You have five seconds to leave before you’re all sent to the hospital in critical condition,” the young man announced, grasping the pipe tightly in his hand.
One of the men snickered and pulled out a gun, which he pointed at the young man. The other four followed suit. The young man shook his head in sympathy and took a step down the stairs.
“Wrong choice,” he muttered under his breath.
And so saying, he rushed at the men and swiped at their heads with the pipe. Some ducked and some stood there staring glossy eyed. The pipe hit them with a solid ring and sent them flying over the edge of the railing. The man that pointed the gun first pulled the trigger and took aim as the young man leaned over to smack the next person with the pipe. Conveniently, the young man ducked to avoid a punch which saved his life from the bullet.
He looked over his shoulder at the shooter and made his way quickly over to him. The man fumbled as he tried to reload. Taking advantage of the man’s obvious terror, the young man swung his pipe in a huge arch above his head before bringing it straight down to crack upon the man’s skull. As the shooter fell to the floor, the young man jumped over the railing smoothly and landed on top of one of the bodies that lay there. He apologized under his breath and stood up to face the last two men, both held their guns at the ready and with steadier hands than the previous shooter had.
The young man twirled his pipe and observed as the two men encircled him. He glanced at them uncaringly and strolled towards the nearest one. Seeing the man come towards them, they open fired on him and reloaded almost as quickly as they fired. The man calmly leapt at the closet one and slashed the man at the nape of his neck, listening as the bone gave a satisfying snap. He charged at the last man, running zigzag to avoid gunfire. The man fired and reloaded so quickly that his hands became a blur.
Avoiding the barrage of bullets, the man dodge rolled to the side and kicked off of the wall he bumped into. He leapt at the man’s legs and took the shooter down. Dropping the pipe, the young man punched the shooter in the jaw and rammed his fist into the shooter’s stomach. As he gasped in pain, the young man stood up and glanced around him.
He bent over to pick up his pipe and as he did, he slammed his foot down upon the closest body and pushed him away. As he climbed up the staircase away from the crime scene, he sighed and stuffed his free hand into his pocket. He reached the top and turned toward the room he had inhabited.
“What happened down there?” asked the principal, who poked his head out of his office door.
“Trespassers, I’ve dealt with them though,” the young man answered.
“Oh did you really? You worked so fast that my men barely reached the scene and you were finished!”
“You need faster men then,” the young man chided playfully.
“I would hire you to take their place, kiddo,” the principal laughed.
The young man smiled and opened the door to his room and called out, “See you later Sir.”
As the door closed, the principal muttered to himself, “See you later kiddo,” before retreating into his office.
- Hiro -
Hiro awoke to a sudden noise that sounded above her. She peeked through half closed eyes and notice a form crawl into the bed beside her little pile on the floor. Kei was home.
She rolled onto her side and pretended to sleep. When she heard Kei’s breath fall regularly, she slipped between the sheets and crept out of the room. She noticed a light in the kitchen and slowly made her way over. Kei’s mother sat at the kitchen table with her heads between her hands.
“What’s wrong Mother?” Hiro asked, taking a seat beside the mother.
“I’m tired,” she whispered. “I’m just really stressed out with worry for Kei.”
“What happened? Did something happen to Kei when he came back?”
“He looked possessed when he entered the house. He walked like a zombie and hardly greeted me. He just trudged to his room and went straight to bed.”
“Maybe he was just tired?” Hiro suggested, rubbing her chin with a finger.
“I don’t know,” the mother sighed. “I’ll go make some tea.”
“Mother,” Hiro started, hesitating slightly. “I have to go somewhere.”
“Why at so late in the evening?” the mother looked up from her work in concern.
“Do you have a jacket I could borrow?” asked Hiro, avoiding the question.
The mother sighed and pointed at the coat hanger by the door. “Take a jacket from over there. Be careful dear, wherever you are planning to go.”
“Thank you,” was all Hiro said before grabbing the nearest jacket and pulling the door open.
She stepped out into the chilly night air and closed the door softly behind her. She had no idea where to go, but she set off anyways. She followed the route to the library and stared at the forlorn building when she got there with mild amusement. She clasps her hands behind her back and walked past it toward a busy last minute shopping district.
As she walked, she thought to herself aloud. “I don’t understand this feeling here,” she muttered, a thin white fog appearing every time she breathed. “I like President, but I don’t think it’s the right course of action.”
As she contemplated her feelings, she tilted her head towards the ground and began to walk while facing downwards. Before she knew it, she bumped into someone and almost fell over backward had the person not caught a hold of her arms. As she regained her composure, she looked up to say thank you but found herself staring at the person’s chest. She craned her head up even higher and finally found the person’s head.
“Wow,” she commented, lamely. “You are really tall.”
The young man chuckled and smiled ruefully.
“Yeah, I get that a lot.”
Hiro couldn’t help but stare at him in amazement. He was a whole head taller than her, and even though she was quite tall herself, she never thought the day would come where she had to stare up at someone until her neck began to cramp.
“Oh!” she suddenly realized. “I’m sorry for bumping into you. I was a bit distracted by something.”
“No, it’s fine. Just be careful next time, okay?” the young man replied, smiling and releasing his grip on her arm.
“Yes, I will, thank you,” Hiro exclaimed, bowing to the young man in apology. “Have a nice evening,” she added, before resuming her trek to the shopping district.
As she walked away, the man turned around to look at her in uncertainty.
“Was that really her?” he whispered, tilting his head to the side in thought. “Well, we will see in time.”
As they walked their separate ways, Hiro approached the square and looked around her for a bit. She noticed a hiring sign and approached the building. The lights that were emitted from the building were cozy and friendly. She couldn’t help but open the door and step inside.
The room had the smell of richly grinded coffee. It was a small café with a few tables scattered about the room. To the side was the kitchen, with its counter topped with food ready to be served. There was one person serving the tables and when he saw her, he approached her at top speed.
“You’re here to apply right?” he asked, his face lighting up at the sight of her.
“I was just going to inqui-”
“Thanks for coming! Step behind the counter and go straight, that’s where the employee change room is. In there, you’ll find the uniform that’s needed for when you come to work,” the waiter hurried her in the general direction and gave her a slight push as Hiro approached the changing room.
“Wait,” she stammered. “But I-”
“Hurry now! We don’t have all evening and the customers are waiting!” the waiter called over his shoulder as he returned to work.
Hiro stood there dumbfounded and watched as the waiter retreated to the main room.
“Well, I have nothing else to do,” she muttered to herself and opened the changing room door.
To the side of her was a chair with a pile of clothes stacked neatly atop each other. She walked over and picked up the top layer and stared at it in mute surprise.
“Fancy,” she commented under her breath as she began to change her clothing.
The top was a nicely pressed white blouse with its sleeves cut short at the shoulders. A tailcoat is worn above the blouse, but just as the first was cut short at the shoulders, so was the tailcoat. Instead of the tail splitting in the back, it split to the side. The bottom was black shorts that came to her knees.
She sat down on the chair and pulled on knee high black socks, which she slipped on with ease. She stuffed her leg into knee high boots of similar color and stood up to look at herself in the full length mirror. She grabbed a silk black tie from the back of the chair and tied it around her neck. She slipped the bottom of the tie behind her tailcoat to show only the upper half of the tie.
She stepped back to look herself up and down when the door burst open.
“You look great,” the waiter said, smiling brightly. “Here’s your tray and let’s get you to work.”
He tossed her a round tray and opened the door wide for her to step through. She did so and followed the waiter into the main room. He pointed to the plates of food on the counter and told her to place them on the tray and balance it with the palm of her hand.
“Use your shoulder to help balance the tray, it helps,” he advised before stacking his own tray with food and drinks.
She did as she was told and noticed a number etched into the plates she picked up.
“The number of the tables corresponds with the number on the dishes,” she whispered. “This’ll help a lot.”
She approached the table and laid out the dishes and returned to the counter to start anew. She did this several times until the customers were all served, eating and chatting pleasantly to each other. She turned to the waiter and walked to stand beside him by the counter.
“Now what,” she asked, leaning toward him so he could hear her.
“Now we clear the dishes,” he responded. “When you see customers raise their hands, go over and pick up the dishes. There’s a bin right over there for the dirty dishes.”
She nodded her head and started forward as she saw a regular hold up her hand.
The waiter put a hand on her shoulder and stopped her, whispering into her ear, “I’ll come with the receipt for them so don’t worry about that.”
She bobbed her head and approached the table, picking up the dishes as the waiter followed behind her and placed the bill upon the now cleared table. They did this to several tables and slowly the café emptied. Finally when no one was left in the café but the waiter and her, she sighed heavily.
Hiro walked behind the counter toward the kitchen and slumped into a chair besides the doorway. She moaned loudly, stretching her arms above her head. She eyed the waiter as he stepped into the kitchen and approached the chef.
The chef turned from washing his hand and dried them on a towel behind him. He looked up at Hiro and smiled kindly.
“Thanks for accepting the job. You were a great help today during the late night rush hour!” his voice boomed loudly.
Hiro held up a hand for silence and exclaimed, “I didn’t come here to work. I came just to ask about it.” She pursed her lips in thought before adding, “I guess I got the job, but depending on the pay, this’ll either be my first day or my last day.”
“Fair enough,” the chef rumbled. “Here’s your pay for the day. Hopefully you come back to work because we’re in dire need of another waiter.”
He reached into his apron’s pocket and pulled out a wad of bills and handed it to her.
She took it into her hands and counted them swiftly. She shrugged her shoulders and thanked him.
The waiter looked at her and smiled.
“Issik’s the name,” he said, offering her his hand. “The chef is Garren, my grandfather.”
“My name’s Hiro, it’s nice to meet you guys,” she responded, taking his proffered hand into hers.
A ring came from the front room and the trio returned to the main room.
“The café’s closed,” the chef called out to the silhouette by the door.
The person closed the door and turned toward them, looking up. The ceiling lights fell upon the figure, revealing a petite girl. Her hair was tied up into two side ponytails that fell down in nice curls. Her face was round and cheery, flushed red from the cold. She wore a thick jacket, zipped all the way up to her chin. A lacy skirt peeked out from under the jacket, too short to be worn in the cold winter weather. Her high heels clicked together as she stared back at the trio.
The faces of the waiter and chef lit up in recognition as the girl cried out in joy. She rushed into the Issik’s arms and he lifted her up into a hug and spun around. There was a bustling of noise as they greeted each other. Hiro sat down and watched them reunite with each other.
“Issik, look how you’ve grown!” the girl exclaimed, patting his spiky hair with affection. “Ouch! Your hair is so stiff with gel it hurts my hand to touch it!”
“Don’t be silly, Elisabeth,” he cried out, taking her hand from his hair. “It looks better than before, right?”
The girl pursed her lips in thought and shrugged her shoulders, giving him an okay sign with her manicured hands.
“Grandpa Garren! How have you been?” she exclaimed, hugging the big man, her arms barely reaching around his big form.
He embraced her back and patted her head gently.
“I’ve been well child, how about you?”
She looked up at him and smiled grandly.
“I’ve been busy with work.”
Her eyes flicked over to Hiro who shuffled in her seat awkwardly.
“Well, hello there, who are you?”
Hiro shot up to her feet and bowed low to the girl.
“I’m Hiro. Apparently I’m the new waitress.”
The girl giggled and held out a hand, which Hiro took with her own and shook.
“Nice to meet you, my name’s Elisabeth. Wow!” the girl cried out in surprise. “That looks really good on you!”
Hiro looked down at her attire and shrugged her shoulders uncomfortably.
“Do you think so?”
“I made that very outfit you’re wearing,” the girl explained, her smile getting wider. “It looks great on you!”
“Thanks,” Hiro responded, her lips widening into a grin.
“The café’s closed grandpa?” the girl asked.
“Yes, we are all on our way home,” he replied, herding everyone out the café so he could close and lock the place up.
The small group huddled outside the shop as the old man locked up the door. Issik and his grandfather turned one way and walked off together, waving their goodbyes as they went. The girl stood there beside Hiro and waved back in return.
“Aren’t you going to head home?” Elisabeth asked.
“I,” Hiro hesitated. “My mom left on a business trip and forgot to give me the keys home.”
“No way,” the girl giggled.
“Yes way,” she sighed.
“Even though this is our first time meeting, how about you stay at my place?” Elisabeth suggested.
“Really, is it really okay for me to?” Hiro asked in disbelief.
“Of course you can! I work late in the night so you can stay at my apartment while I’m off at work. Inspiration for new designs often hit me while I’m up late in the evening,” she chuckled quietly. “You’re free to stay for as long as you want. I’ll sleep in the mornings while you’re off doing what you do and when night comes, you can sleep while I head off to work. It all works out in the end.”
Hiro was silent with amazement.
“Are you sure?”
“Of course it is!” Elisabeth took Hiro’s arm and led her down the sidewalk. “It’s on the way to my work place anyways.”
As they walked together with arms linked, Hiro couldn’t help but ask, “I’m a total stranger! How can you just let me-”
“You have this aura about you,” she paused to think. “I don’t know, but you’re a good person. Call it a woman’s intuition if you want, but I know that you won’t do anything bad.”
“Aren’t you a little trusting?”
“A good person would question another about their safety. A bad person would go with the flow and secretly harm another. At least that’s what happens in the comics I read.”
“This is reality we are talking about here!” Hiro cried out in exasperation.
“I’ve always had a problem with that,” Elisabeth whispered, clutching at Hiro’s arm tightly. “I was in trouble once when I was younger because I trusted strangers too easily.”
“And look what you’re doing right now,” Hiro mumbled.
Her companion laughed softly.
“But you’re different, aren’t you. Bad people would not be worried about their targets. They would just go along and then strike out. But you, you care about what I’m doing and you are actually against it. You have good intentions.”
Hiro pursed her lips in thought and frowned. Elisabeth chuckled and paused at the doorway of a fancy looking building.
“Here we are,” she said, pulling Hiro past the glass automatic doors.
Dragging Hiro along, Elisabeth pushed her toward a glass elevator and pushed the eighteenth button. They zoomed up toward the top of the twenty floored building. The elevator slowed down and the doors slid open. The two stepped out and walked down the hall.
At the end of the hall they turned left and continued to walk on. Toward the end of the corridor, Elisabeth stopped at a room on the right and pulled a key from her designer purse. She turned it and opened the door.
“Here it is,” she said, opening the door wide enough for Hiro to step through.
“Wow,” Hiro breathed, looking around her in amazement.
Everything was white. From the walls to the soft carpet she stepped on, to the couches that formed an “L” around a big flat screen T.V., to the vases that held white roses, everything was white and sparkled brightly under the lights from the ceiling.
“This place is beautiful!”
“Thanks,” Elisabeth exclaimed, clasping her hands together. “My friend designed and furnished it.”
Hiro turned around in a circle and took in everything she saw. The place was like a white castle, truly beautiful.
“My clothes won’t fit you since I’m so small, but there are some clothes in the closet that might. I always have extra sizes stored somewhere just in case friends of mine want to spend the day or night over.”
Elisabeth directed Hiro over to a room and showed her the stash of clothes. “You can try it on, go ahead. I better leave now for work or else I’ll be late. See you in the morning Hiro!”
Hiro walked her over to the door and waved goodbye as the small form scampered toward the elevator. She closed the door behind her and locked it. She walked into the room and bent over to select her garments from the pile. She pulled out a big hoodie, a black muscle shirt, and spotted dark blue sweat pants. She changed into her new comfortable clothes and walked toward the large glass door that slide to the side to reveal a terrace that overlooked the busy city still alive in the late night.
She stepped out onto the landing and leaned against the metal railing. She stared at the tall skyscrapers across from her as the biting wind lifted her hair from her face and nipped at her cheeks. She stared straight ahead, knowing that if she looked down she was likely to hurl.
A nearby thunder struck and she shivered. She crept back into the room and closed the glass panel behind her, covering the outside scene with the white curtain that hung above. She sat down beside the door and leaned her back against the side of the couch. She peeped through the side of the curtain as the rain plopped upon the panes of the door. Lulled by the rhythmic beat of the rain, she fell asleep, thinking about the things that happened that day.