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All material here is original work and ©Mónica Prelooker, so it's just fair if you drop me an email to let me know about any use you wanna make of it (save stealing, of course)
Strong Hold
Little Prince Station
Just a Line
Coming Up:
One by One
Episode 2:
— Come out, you sucker!!!
Trash pounded again on the backyard cabin’s door with her fist, her frown and her glare predicting a storm if the door was to stay closed. From inside the cabin came a violin's bright and vibrant melody, refusing to stop despite the furious demands from the outside. Trash took two paces back, glared at the door clenching her teeth, as though it was her worst enemy, drew in a deep breath and shoved a violent kick at it. The door jarred open, slamming against the inner wall, a mess of splinters flying around her. Trash stood at the doorway without even blinking. The violin’s melody went on just like nothing happened, quick and tense.
— If you don’t quit playing, I'm shreading that fucking violin to fucking pieces —she hissed, her fists clenched tight against her legs.
Run and Boss came out the house then through the kitchen’s door, ready for their morning jogging by the Park of Peace. The violin ended up its melody and a dark shape stepped out from the cabin’s shadows towards the light coming in through the bursted door. He loomed onto Trash with a threatening growl, the girl glared up at him without hesitation. Run signaled at Boss and they both stopped half way to the street and spun around.
— Next time you disturb me...
— Free the rope.
Slash stared at her in amazement, eyes wide open, then he started laughing out loud.
— Bugger off!! —he cried, spinning around and vanishing again in the cabin’s shadows.
— If I don't, you’re out of clothes.
— Why don’t you find yourself a boy to cool your mood?
Run walked back, reaching the cabin before the other two noticed him. Slash tried some notes, as trying to find his melody again, Trash wanted to step in, but a firm hand on her shoulder kept her out. She glared up at Run, but he wasn’t even looking at her, his eyes turned to where the violin was playing again in the dark.
— Slash, your laundry —was all he said.
He looked down at the girl, held up her eyes for a moment, went back to Boss in silence. When they were at the front garden, they heard the slamming kitchen’s door as Trash went back in. Run went on to the street with Boss without looking back, though he slightly shook his head as he started trotting. They did several blocks in silence, coming closer to the neighborhood’s end.
It always surprised Boss that contrast he found every morning with just crossing a street. No signs, no visible limits, nothing. An intangible border. On the other side the city was just the city, its noises and its overwhelming speed; buildings, stuffed streets and lanes, no trace of green but some pots hanging at some balcony. He only needed to glance back over his shoulder and there it was, the trees’ dun shadows sheltering the silence of the empty streets, the quiet houses, the unknown neighbors. The very inertia that leads from one pace to another sunk them into the city
— They always get along like this? —he asked later.
Trash and Slash seemed to be just about to kill each other all the time for the most stupid reasons, and sometimes the air was thick to breath back at the house. Run shook the head again.
— It’s Kao.
Boss just nodded. Kao, the boy whose place he had taken, who’d been in a coma for more than a month by now, just waiting for somebody to turn off the devices that were keeping him alive. Trash and Slash visited him almost daily, though never together. Run used to go to the clinic too, sometimes with Trash, sometimes by himself, but never as much as the other two.
— If they don’t get it soon, we’re gonna have troubles.
— Get it?
— That none of them is to blame for what happened.
Boss looked at Run out of the corner of his eye. He troted with his back very straight, managing it easily to speak without running out of breath, green bright eyes fixed ahead, narrowed to face the morning sun reaching them from behind the buildings. His expression was the usual one, with that messure, now Boss knew it, that was actually like his very spine. His calm voice hadn’t meant nothing further than the bare meaning of his words.
They got to the Park, troted around it all four times, walked into a quiet lane, usually frequented by yooung couples after sunset. They flopped themselves onto the grass almost panting. Sometimes that Park seemed to be pretty larger than it really was. Boss fell backwards as Run drank some water.
— What time, today? —Boss muttered once he was able to breath again.
— Early afternoon.
— Bad thing, too many people.
— Yeap. That’s why they choose it.
Run turn around to give him water, and then he saw the man laying on the grass, thirty meters far from them, reading a book; a blade of grass between his lips, the dark fringe fell loose upon his forehead, hidding his eyes. Boss noticed the tension from Run’s body and followed his look, without finding any explanation at sight.
— Run, what...?
But Run wasn’t listening to him. He slowly stood up and moved almost cautiosly towards the other man, who didn’t seem to notice him till he was at his side. Run stared down at the gentle face as he came closer, those thin lips, always wearing that trade mark grin. He felt himself wrapped up into a memories' twister, that seemed to erase everything around him when he stopped by the man, casting his long shadow over him.
— León? —his voice was but a whisper.
* * *
The soccer team’s captain spun around to face the boy, so slender and blond, who crossed the whole sport ground running and was now gasping behind him, touching his arm to stop him, unable to speak out his name. The captain smiled seeing him, both hands on his knees, all his long body bent over trying to breath again.
— What’s up? —his voice was deep and gentle, with an affection’s hint for the younger boy, who finally straightened up.
— Is it true...?—he panted—. Captain, is it true... that I’m gonna...?
— Play in the next championship? —the other finished—. Yes, it’s true.
The boy’s bright clear eyes were wide open in amazement, all his face reflecting how those three words meant to him just a no-stop ticket to the best paradise he would ever dreamed of. Play for the school’s top team! He would play with the boy he admired most since he started high school! And it was no dream! He, the captain himself, was telling him so!
— But... but I... Joel... Joel won’t play?
The older boy smiled gently at him and nodded towards the changing room. They went along together, the older boy looking ahead, a grin still pursing his lips, the younger espying at him out of the corner of his eye.
— Joel won’t play just because he’s forgotten how to catch back a ball without a fault —the older one said, with all his gentleness and authority—. That’s why I want you there instead of him. Any problem?
— No, no! It’s just that I... —the blond boy’s trailed off and he looked down blushing.
He couldn’t say he had dreamed of that moment since the very first time he saw the captain playing, that he joined the soccer team just to be a bit closer to him, hoping he might meet him someday... That day had come a year ago, when the top team’s captain became the second team’s trainer. And since then, he had done his best to be accepted into the external competition’s team before the captain’s graduation, dreaming of wearing his
colours at least once.
The changing room was empty. Everybody was already gone, and only their things remained on the lockers. The older boy started to undress right away, the younger one shyly stayed by his locker, eyes down. The captain’s warm and friendly laughter made him look up.
— Get to the shower now, before you catch a cold. If you really wanna play next match...
— Yes, sir —the boy mumbled, but didn’t move.
The other finished undressing and walked towards him with a giggle, then he leaned towards the boy, forcing him to look up again.
— What? You're ashamed of me seeing you naked? —he asked, staring into the boy’s eyes with his bright black eyes. He laughed softly again and walked away towards the showers.
* * *
The man looked up from the book narrowing his eyes, unable to see the face before him against the light. Run crouched in front of him grining in disbelief.
— León... it’s you...
— Who...? —the man bolted upright, his face very close to Run’s, who nodded still grining— . Rosschild!
From where he was, Boss saw them holding each other tight, clapping each other’s back before parting.
— This is what I call a good meeting —León patted the grass by his side—. Come on, sit down and tell me what you did with your life and when you got here.
Run sat down without hesitation, though said nothing, just stared at him smiling. León nodded with a giggle.
— You’ve never been good breaking the ice, huh? Well, I’ve been here for the last six months. Came just to see what was it about the big city and... well, found a good business and a good partner, and just stayed here. Enough to free your tongue?
Run laughed softly, shaking the head. — It seems just like a lie having you in front of me. I looked for you when you left. I did for more than a year... —he nodded towards Boss, resting in the sunlight without paying them any attention—. I’m with a friend now, León, and gotta leave soon. But I’m not letting you dissappear again so easily. Give me your card. I’d like to have dinner with you one of these nights.
León opened his wallet with a grin. — Asking me for a date, Rosschild?
Run took his card gaving him back his grin. — Yeah, I wanna know your house and meet your mate. Think you owe me that at least.
León shook the head laughing. — Okay, call me in a few days so we fix it for next week. And you could bring somebody along. Dinners for three are not among my favourites... —he glanced up at Run, laughed again—. Rosschild! Never even a girl for a dinner?
Run stood up bearing the mockery with another grin. Looked down at him for one last time. — I’m calling you in three days. And even if this number is a fake, I’ll find you again.
León held up his look without a blink. — I never cheated on you, Rosschild. Thought you knew that. I’ll be waiting.
* * *
A red roses’ bunch. With ferns and tiny white flowers. A big ribbon matching the roses. A white salutation card with nothing written on it. Trash stared at the bunch laying on her lap as the taxi driver maganed it to help crashing onto a bus. She was still wondering what had taken her to buy them. Kao’s birthday, of course. She bought them for him. But why flowers. Why roses. Why red. And why that salutation card when there was nothing to write on it.
The taxi crossed the clinic’s parking lot heading for the side entrance. Trash recognized the black van parked just by the lot’s exit. So he had come, too. So that was why Slash had locked himself up to played his goddamn violin so early in the morning, going out later without a word, before Run and Boss got back... He remembered the date too.
She chose to smoke a cigarette by the entrance, somehow expecting Slash to come out before she went in. She didn’t want to meet him at Kao’s room. She didn’t want to face him again with Kao laying between them. Once was more than enough.
— Now you should be glad. Did what you wanted as ever. Told you to stay together.
Trash squeezed her eyes shut and squashed her cigarette with that night’s impotent rage.
— Didn’t you see those three bastards on your screen? Why didn’t you fucking warn us? We couldn’t guess!
She almost crushed onto a nurse when she crossed the gate. She avoided her without a look, her hands tightly grasping the roses bunch. Some thorns got through the fancy paper. Feeling the pinpricks, she just could grasp it tighter. Slash hadn’t come down when she got to the fifteenth floor.
The hallway was as empty as ever. People at that section must have been ghosts. She walked it along feeling her footsteps sounded all over the building. But soon she knew it wasn’t true: a rumour got to her just a step before Kao’s door. She barely heard it, but it was enough to stop her. The sound, brief, soft, became a chill running down her spine. The door was slightly ajar, and Trash saw the shadow casting over the side wall almost up to the door jamb. Slash. Standing by the bed, both hands laying on it, his head bent forward, sunk between the shoulders, shaking with another low sound.
Trash stuck her back to the wall, didn’t wanting him to notice her there. But the bunch paper rustled when she unwillingly squeezed it. She cursed under her breath. Then she heard another rumour, different from the others, four fast firm strides and the door was open. Slash was wearing his sunglasses, but they didn’t stop the fierce glare he gave her when coming out. He stalked away towards the elevator and waited for the door to close in between them without turning around. Trash stepped into the room lowering the head.
She kissed Kao’s cheek in a casual way, as though the youth could answer her. When she put the flowers into the vase, she saw the book by the phone on the side table. She hesitated before taking it. Pocket edition, white cover. The blond boy with his long blue and red coat and his sword. She left it exactly where it was as tough it had burnt her hand, already scratched by the roses’ thorns. She sat by Kao where she used to, at the headboard, turning her back to the window. The very same spot where Slash had just been. She held the pale, cold hand.
— Happy birthday, Kao —she whispered closing her eyes, fighting her squeezed throat—. You know... he didn’t mean to ruin your poster when we were painting your room after you... Before Boss arrived... If he was the very first namig you Little Prince...
* * *
Sometimes it was hard to get used to it. Living together could be a little... complicated. And there was no way at hand to ease it. Only time. Let it go by, learn to live that way and with that people... trash, slash, run. The last names you were to choose for the people he had to live with and work... at that job...
At the next wagon, back against a seat, he could see Trash. Just a body rocking at the same rythm of the handles hanging over her head, the cold eyes fixed straight ahead, looking but not seeing. Boss could feel Slash’s breathing into his ear. Now he was whispering some data for Run, three wagons ahead. The subway stopped at the third station. Two cops passed by, walking the line from the rear. Doors were opening.Several teens got off, their books and their clothes speaking out loud they shouldn’t be there at that time, but at school. Two young men in suites got in and found a free spot a few steps from him. Boss muttered the news to his jacket’s raised lapel, where the mic was hidden. The only answer he got was a short mocking giggle from Slash.
— What.
— You still sound like a cop.
Boss chose not to answer. It wasn’t a good moment to argue with the leather lapel. He looked ahead again, finding Trash’s eyes staring at him. He managed it to held them up, even though all he actually wanted then and there was looking away at any place where he didn’t need to face her. Soon she turned to stare ahead again, beyond his wagon.
There were times when he could find any excuse just to avoid facing her or talking to her. The girl could make him really nervious with that trade mark glare, that hard voice shooting monosyllabic answers and those icy knife-like eyes. He also felt lucky he had eventually got used to her complete lack of shame, mostly in the mornings, when he met her at the hallway on their own ways to the bathroom and back, always in opposite directions, she only wearing her big grey t-shirt, he invariably in boxers. Anyway, there were always mornings when it was a bit harder to see her just like "one of the guys", and at that moments Boss used to wonder if Slash and Run had ever noticed what pretty legs she had, or how atractive or even beautiful her face would be if she just got wrong and smiled. However, a single glance from her could wash away even the desire of fantasying. Which was good in the end, for it made it easier to share roof.
* * *
Run saw the cops walk by and ignored them with the same bored face he adopted when they got into the subway. Bad thing, those cops there. But it was understandable, with such a crowd of burglars earning their livings in subways at that hour. He was just hoping they weren’t to become a trouble, with that sharp sense they’d got to be a pain in the ass instead of being useful. Bad thing, so much risk for so little. Since they sneaked into García’s house, they had been forced to leave alone the ilegal gambling runners for whom the man was keeping the books until he met Run’s knife. And now they just had to let the waters calm down again. Big fishes could not be caught one just after the other without having upon your head all that remained alive. And in the meantime, Rover decided the best they could do was intercepting soft drugs dealers. That meant working often in broad daylight, or in public places, just like now, chasing poor bastards that barely earned enough for cigarettes. Almost the last link before the drug got onto the street. Just a flea on a shepherd’s back, that would never notice if there was one missing. But something was something, let alone they weren’t on any holyday. Rover assured that day’s target could turn out being someone at a bit higher position on the distribution chain. That was why they had to do it despite the hour, the place, the thousands of unaware eyes. And they hadn’t choice. In the end they were just paid workers.
Behind his bored mask, the green eyes sparkled, turning bare again at once. León was right: a very good meeting. Almost ten years later and just by chance. But they’ve met again and that was all that mattered. Maybe now, so much time later, they could finally talk about what happened. Maybe León would explain him why he dissappeared leaving no traces and had never got in touch with any boy from the team he trained for three years. Not even with him...
* * *
The subway got to another station. One of the businessmen near Boss, the one concerned about showing all the time his dreadful necklace, said goodbye to the other and got off. Boss saw him walk along the platform and get lost in the crowd heading for the exit. As the subway left the platform, the fore wagon’s door was opened by a pedlar, the cops came right behind him. The pedlar looked like fifty, though he couldn’t be more than forty. He wore a shabby chekered shirt and old blue jeans. Everything about him shouted out loud about the raging erosion of a hard street’s life, chasing each coin, counting them every night to get a cheap wine, cursing every morning his damned life. He was selling diaries, that he started delivering to the passengers before standing at the other door, facing them, to start his chant with a creaky voice that really matched its owner.
Boss traded a look with Trash, checking she heard those two words from Slash. So it’s the pedlar... He noticed one of the cops staring at him and looked away at the tunnel’s lights, blurring arrows leaving a sparkling trace behind his eyes. The cops crossed along toTrash’s wagon, the last one. The business man in front of Boss accepted the diary. The cops walked back forward.
— Shit —Slash grunted—. They’re really boring.
Boss faced the cops with a casual look. Saw out of the corner of his eye the businessman keeping the diary. The pedlar looked down at him a moment longer before giving another diary to a girl with a childish face and long hair, too blond at the ends, too dark at her crown. When did he pay for it?, he wondered. That kind of guy is the last to purchase that crappy notebook.
— Little Prince is next, that leaves us just one more. We better get something.
Boss saw again in his mind the huge painting with the Saint-Exupery’s character at the platform they were about to get. He wondered if it had been just his imagination or Slash’s voice actually hesitated when he named the station. The businessman headed for the door Boss was standing by. He hissed two words to the mic. Then a look from Trash made him spun around. And there they were, the cops again, just standing a few steps behind him. Shit, was all he could think seeing them. Trash was no longer looking at him. She was to take care of the pedlar and was aware about the businessman, just like Run. The problem was those two idiots wearing blue. Boss knew they couldn’t risk to kill them by chance. That should bejust like stating open war and they couldn’t afford such a thing.
He stood by the doors, being encircled by a dozen passengers ready to get off, hidding him down from his shoulders from the cops’ eyes. So he was able to reload his 9 mm with small paralyzing darts to stop the cops later on. After that he checked out his 22 inside his other pocket. He pretended to struggle against the huddling people just in time to see Run getting to the next wagon. He was to follow the businessman, Trash the pedlar, and the cops were all for Boss.
— Just in case you wanna chat with your old folks —came Slash’s sneer, pretty more taunting than usual that afternoon.
The subway was now stopping at the station, the blond rounded head raising from the wall above the many others huddling at the platform, hidding the whole body but the shoulders, with the stars and the blue and read coat. Boss noticed then the pedlar was about to get off, just like the cops. Slash’s opinion when he told him was a little dirtier and longer than it needed to be. Boss got off right behind the cops, both guns ready inside his pockets. Saw Run coming from the other wagon and sneaking among people just two steps behind the business man, and then he noticed the cops seemed to hurry to get closer to them as they headed for the last exit at one end of the platform.
Trash!! What the fucking hell are you doing?!
Boss took a fleeting glance at the subway, still swallowing and spitting people. Instead of going after the pedlar, Trash crossed to the wagon where Boss'd been. She didn’t bother to answer Slash’s furious question. But Boss forgot everything about her when he saw the cops speeding their pace to reach Run, one from each side, their right hands at the guns in their waists. He cursed the cops, cursed the crowd stuffing the station, gave Run a warning word as he pulled the guns out from his pockets.
At the very moment both cops’ guns pointed at Run’s back, Boss shot them and the cops flopped down to the floor as bags full of stones. The platform echoed with screams, the businessman crouched and ran to the exit at the first gunshot, but Run jumped over him and knocked him down. The 9 mm against the man’s temple working better than made any verbal threat.
— Boss, the pedlar!
Trash’s metallic voice made him spun around at once. The guy ran by his side with a hand inside his bag. He pulled a gun out of it and started shooting backwards. People still on their feet throw themselves down to the floor, as Boss ran after the pedlar taking shelter behind a pillar. Two blue tiles bursted out just by his head. The guy was shooting to kill. Boss didn’t hesitate. Knowing the 22 could only stop him, he jumped out from behind the pillar and aimed at the guy’s legs. A bullet whistled very close to his head at the same time, coming from behind him, and the pedlar fell back down with a hoarse cry. Boss spun on his heels to see Run standing straight, the businessman still shakily curled up between his legs, the right arm spread ahead gripping the 9 mm.
— He’s clean —Boss heard him say on the earphone, his voice calm and in control as usual, as he walked away from the businessman.
Subway’s doors snorted before closing. Many people that had just got off had jumped back in with the shooting. Then Boss realized all of a sudden what Trash had surely guessed before.
— The girl! —he cried, running to the closest door.
He barely slid into the wagon when the subway started to move again. He was some wagons far from where he last saw Trash. Where the heck was she now? Out of the corner of his eye he saw Run stridding upstairs to the exit. He ran to the rear wagons as he reloaded the 9 mm, people spreading apart from him as soon as they saw the gun. It was then he heard to gunshots. Trash! People came running from the last wagons, and there were a few screams and hysterical cries. Slash called out her too, but he didn’t got any answer either.
Boss froze right where he was, on the tiny steal bridge quaking between the wagons. Trash was still grasping her 365 pointing down, the other hand pressing the right arm above the elbow, from where the blood dripped over the leather sleeve. There was no trace of physical pain in her face. Her cold blue eyes stared fixedly at the girl fallen at her feet, the open diary by her side and several plastic envelopes full of alkaloids that were slowly turning red.
Sayaki 3/2k
^^ Another big THANKS to my brother Kuroi for his huge help, cos in this case, he figured out all the subway stuff!! THANKS, BRO!! What would I do without you??