Nabeshin opened the curtain of his bedroom window. The weather is beautiful today. The heat of the season can be seen and feel all around, which seems to indicate a good start. A thin smile tore through his lips as he gazed outward.
The memory of the first day he met the woman he once loved slipped through his mind. The woman who changed everything, the reason why he is in such a state now…
SIX YEARS AGO…
"Nabeshin, aren't you hot?" asked his best friend Toji behind him. It was morning and they were walking along the footbridge in the middle of already searing heat. Summer is upon them and the heatwave was so unforgivable even the air was oppressive and prickly to the skin.
Below them were vehicles that were starting to pile up, as the traffic inched slowly. This was often a problem in their city so the heat around them was increasing due to the smoke coming from the carbon emission.
“Nine…” Toji whined again. The number he just said was Nabeshin’s codename. He was Nine and Toji was called Twelve.
They were friends since childhood so Nabeshin was used to Toji’s antics. They were both orphans of the Second World War. It was lucky that both their parents left them with businesses and a bit of fortune suffice for them to live a comfortable life without asking for anyone’s benevolence or help.
“If I were you, I’d just walk quietly, Twelve,” Nabeshin finally said.
Toji huffed in annoyance while furiously fanning his face with his hand as if it would help him alleviate his suffering. In Japan, it is normal for the weather to rise or drop in extremes where the summers are piping hot, baking cities in its wake and freezing everything when it’s wintertime.
They continued walking briskly until they reached their destination: the back of the property of their local high school where the half Olympic-sized pool was located. It was where they sneak in every time they were late or not wearing proper uniforms.
Nabeshin stopped his ascent on the stairs when he noticed that his friend was no longer following him. His eyes scanned the vast property and they landed on a group of girls by the pool. Judging by their noise, they were bullying someone in the group: a girl with short jet black hair and translucent skin. He’d never seen her before, she must be new. He scanned the girl’s passive face and immediately realized that she was a gaijin. No wonder she’s being bullied.
Her eyes that were too wide to be pure Japanese and her face’s bone structures were a clear indication. But she looked Asian as well. A half-blood then. With her vibrant eyes, cute button nose, thin pink lips, she looked like an angel.
“Girls, stop bothering her, will you?” a loud voice said and Nabeshin saw Toji leaning against the fence that surrounded the pool, also watching the commotion by the water but with a weird gleeful expression on his face.
“Isn’t it too early for you to bully anyone?”
The bullied girl ducked her head but it was clear that Toji had her full attention.
“Oh, this is nothing, Toji,” one of the bullies spoke up. She must be their leader. Leaders always got more guts than the minions, though this one was clearly wary of Toji. She was eyeing the boy cautiously and her voice almost apologetic. “This is just how we welcome our new students.”
Everyone in their school knew that Toji was weird. He liked to do things his way regardless of what anyone says, be it harmless or illegal. He may be all smiles and sunny personality but there was danger in there somewhere as well… that was something everyone was smart enough not to engage.
“Von wanted to take a dip,” another girl piped up, giving Von, the bullied girl a teasing prod on the back, causing her to take a step towards the water. “She told us she missed the climate back in her country.”
Von clenched her fists by her side. “Y-yes because I’m h-hot.”
The girl’s voice is quiet and quivering but there was strength in there. Nabeshin noticed that she understood Japanese and could speak it clearly but her tenses are a little off. She has a brogue too but as of the moment, Nabeshin could not place it.
“Is that so?” Toji smiled broadly.
“Well, that makes two of us!”
In a flash, Toji cast aside his backpack, jumped over the fence and into the pool, splashing water everywhere, including the group of girls who couldn’t react fast enough to bolt away. They could only shriek in surprise as they were soaked with the cold, chlorine sanitized liquid.
Nabeshin noticed that Von was looking at Toji with awe as his friend brushed his wet hair off his amused face… and then as if she sensed him watching her intently from afar, Von turned to look at him. Nabeshin gave her a cold stare before walking away. He ignored Toji calling him with his real name.
They seldom call each other with their proper names in private and don’t call each other with their codenames out in public because of obvious reasons. Their codenames are their own and were not willing to share with the rest of the world, they were symbols of their brotherhood and they treat their codes something akin to sacred.
Nabeshin plopped himself down on his seat as soon as he reached his classroom, ignoring everything and everyone in the room. The class was not in session and his classmates were just goofing around, being their noisy and nosy selves. Trying to calm himself, he decided on listening to music while looking out of the window, drowning everything, including his erratic heart knocking on his ribs.
NABESHIN blinked and realized the knocking he was hearing were from the other side of the door of his hotel suite. He opened it only to see his secretary outside, fist about to rap on the solid wood. He let her in and she walked briskly towards the desk, placing a stack of folders filled with documents and contracts, things that needed his attention and approval. His upcoming projects for the year 2014. He works in the film industry, particularly in the field of animation, where he quickly rose to stardom as director of the most successful anime movies and series aired in Japan. Some of his old works were aired and had a vast fandom overseas.
When he was finished signing the documents and giving her additional instructions, the secretary took off, leaving him with his memories once again.
“I didn’t know there are three of us in this project,” Nabeshin told Toji sarcastically while giving the other person in the room a look of disdain. Von had the sense to look uncomfortable under his scrutiny.
Nabeshin was in their workroom, in their secret hideout, tapping away on his computer when Toji came practically bouncing down the hall with glee, ushering the quiet girl inside the room. They stood by the door for a moment, surprised to see him in there already working. Toji recovered quickly and started to babble about the girl, making introductions and other inane things social pleasantries required while Von just stood idly by the door, moving only to stand in the middle of the room, wringing her hands nervously when Toji prompted her to.
“Everything is going to be fine,” Toji explained. “She’s good. Her ideas are great and I honestly think she’s gonna help us give our project more twists and substance.”
Nabeshin saw the smile Toji gave the girl and he felt tension bubbling inside him. His friend obviously liked Von and it disturbed him a bit for whatever reason. He tried ignoring the feeling and watched as Toji took his preferred seat on the worktop, shuffling the papers he was currently working on.
“How is she going to help us if her own life is a mess?” Nabeshin spat, still irritated. The whole school knew that Von’s American father had remarried in America and wanted nothing to do with her anymore so she was sent to Japan, that she was now stuck with her depressed mother who couldn’t move on with her life, who couldn’t take care of herself, much more a teenaged daughter. They don’t need a goddamned charity case.
He turned to take his leave but a quivering voice stopped him in his tracks.
“You don’t need to worry, I will do my best,” said Von. “If you give me a chance, a-a month, I’ll show you.”
Nabeshin adjusted his glasses up his nose and stared the girl down, studying her as if she were a specimen in a microscope slide. He’s got to admit that it was quite admirable to see the determination in Von’s eyes..
After a great pause, Nabeshin acquiesced, “Fine. I’ll give you a month.”
Von’s eyes flashed in relief and happiness, her gentle smile made his pulse quicken but he kept his expression neutral. He looked away when Von and Toji exchanged looks and smiled at each other, clearly celebrating.
“And Von,” Nabeshin said quietly, making the two look back at him.
“There’s no turning back now.”
There were an edge and threat on his voice and they all heard it, rendering even Toji speechless. Before anyone could move a muscle, Nabeshin left the room.
Nabeshin hurried out of his room but accidentally caught his sight of the old bag on the side of the bed. As time goes on he becomes more and more unable to resist looking back, there seems to be an unseen force taking him back into the past that he would have wished to fade, but how is he going to do that if everything about it has triggered him every day.He felt strange around ... it suddenly closed the door when he heard a familiar voice. Suddenly his forehead was sweating, he felt like he was choking. Her eyes widened as she slowly turned to her side."Sir, the car is waiting below," the voice said again. She was just his secretary, still frowning as he looked at her.He turned his eyes in another direction and made the facial expression serious. He breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that the voice he had been he
He got up QUICKLY from lying on the bed but suddenly dropped again his body when he felt the delicate pain from his forehead. He gently stroked it and felt a bandage on his head. He closes his eyes again, emphatically."Are you okay Sir Nabeshin?" He heard his secretary's question at the foot of his bed. He could feel her gaze. She said he had suddenly fainted earlier."Y-yes," he replied shortly.From his closeness, Von's face reappeared in his pupil. Even the familiar emotion he felt again."You can leave now, Shan ..." he said.He heard the woman's sigh before the mattress sagged near him, an indication that it sat next to him."But why, Nine? If you have a problem you
No matter how cleverly you erase records and tracks, you can't erase a person's memory."Are you really feeling OK, Nabeshin?" Shan asked the young man worriedly. "Maybe you're still dizzy."She gently patted his forehead as the young man adjusted his polo shirt. Nabeshin quickly made a pat on Shan's palm, the cold look he gave him. Stunned but did not show up, she quickly avoided the young man so that he would not notice his confusion and self -pity. As much as possible, she avoids showing resentment at what it shows him.As much as possible she will understand it until it is all over.Shan winced when she heard Nabeshin calling to him."Is everyone ready for where we're going, Five?" his question.Although she feels happy when he calls her by her code name, she still can't get rid of that sadness because she knows the young man is just doing that because he has a favor to demand."Y-yes Nine, it's fixed. Y-your presence is
Nabeshin and Shan's car is still driving through the crowded area of Tokyo. The sunshine of those times was beautiful, it was very similar to the times when Shan returned to Japan ten years ago."Do you still remember that first day we met, Nine?" Later Shan asked next door, causing her to look up at him. Shan's attention remained focused outside the car. He could clearly see from afar the function of the red train...."NABESHIN, maybe it's not too much that Lisa is here first," Toji said suddenly.Nabeshin immediately looked at the him, they were playing chess of those moments. There was a streak of smile on his lips. His lips twitched, he wanted to say something to Toji but he just remained silent."You understand Von's situation, don't you, Nine?" Twelve still continues."But Toji, we can't trust her. All I want is for her to recover from her fever!" irri
NABESHIN is sitting in front of a large mirror while the makeup artist of their company fixes it. He couldn't understand why he had to go through this. He looked good but he just let it go, because Shan said he needed it so that he wouldn't look like a corpse on the camera and television register. He even ran his face in the mirror again and then he finally dismissed the person who fixed him. Slowly he combed his hair with his fingers until his attention was distracted by the scar on his forehead, he slowly traced his finger there. The past ran through his upper eye, that scar served as his memory or remembrance of the event that caused them to repeat their project ZNT."Are you ready, Nine?" Shan asked him. Nabeshin silently looked at the speaker from the mirror, though nervous he nodded.Nabeshin's face and posture could not be traced. But whatever he was hiding he knew he and Shan were knew it.They were already walking backs
NABESHIN could see so many people around, he could hear the noise and screams as he came out of the back stage. He immediately waved so it got even more chaotic. The people around barely cheered evenmore. Nabeshin could clearly see the posters they were holding. Some even wore clothes with prints on the faces of his characters Nine, Twelve and Lisa. He also saw a few pictures of Five.The poster of his Anime series ZNT is widespread throughout the country. It's only the first week that the anime series has aired but the audience has received such a warm support. His eyes twinkled when he saw many people enjoying his work. He felt Shan's hand gently caress his arm."I told you they will love it, Nabeshin." Smiling she said to him."Yes." Full of pleasure he agreed.The program started while he was just on the edge of the stage and continued to sign ZNT posters and merchandise carried by fans. He was a
"ARE you alright Nabeshin?" Shan asked as she touched the young man's shoulder causing him to shrink suddenly.Shan could clearly see the masculinity and tears forming in both of Nabeshin's eyes as he stared at her, je didn't seem to be in himself those moments."Nine ?!" Shan is worried again he called the young man's code name. He immediately touched and caressed Nabeshin's cheek with her palm. Suddenly he blinked, it seemed that's the only place he met her. Nabeshin gently grabbed her hand with a quick pull then hugged her tightly."Five ... Five ..." Nabeshin repeated to her as she sank into her shoulder, Shan felt the heavy emotion engulfing him.Even though he was crying, as time went on it became more difficult. If possible she did not want to be weak for him. She had to be steadfast in the face of it."That's enough, Nabeshin, I-I'm just here. I'll be with you
"That's right, I'm not human. I am just one of many pawns." SHAN'S eyes were sad as she stared at Nabeshin's face. They were in the hospital at the time. She has been attacked by the disease several times, and his health seems to be deteriorating. She did not know how long the young man would last, all she knew was that it will be the last attacked for Nabeshin. There is still a lot to take care of, especially since ZNT is just beginning. With a slow sigh, she walked to the window where she could see below the nearby school. Shan could clearly see the children playing in the middle of the soccer field, a brief scene passed through her recollection. The weather was almost the same back then, with only moderate heat brought by the summer weather. Shan's eyes twinkled as she remembered Nabeshin's cheerful smile back then. One of the fun sce