Chapter Four: Live For Me.

“Kay…” I cooed, shaking her gently.

“Mmmrh… no…” she groaned, leaning upwards, her mouth against my ear.

“Stay…” she growled huskily. Making my heart pound and my knees go weak. I always liked when she would wake up in my arms. She was small compared to me, I used to call her cat or kitten, but she didn’t really like it and I stopped calling her that, going with Kay instead. She wiggled further into my embrace, her lips still against my ear.

“I’mma go make breakfast, o-okay?” I stammered a bit, smiling shakily.

“Giriko, you’re hiding something~ I can tell…” she crooned, her hot breath making my mind go wild with fantasies.

“Uhm… c-can you g-get up?” I squeaked as she wrapped her arms around me, straddling my middle.

“Nope… I’m staying riiiight here until you tell me what’s wrong… I won’t tolerate your usual excuses,” she denied, her face so close to mine that only one more wiggle could make us lock lips or touch.

“Promise me you won’t get mad?” I asked tentatively.

“I only promise to try,” she giggled as I paled.

“Enji… he… called… me… and… I… uhm… have to… y’know…. G-go… i-in.” I forced out as she leaned back. Her sky blue eyes narrowed.

“Okay then, one last ride, then you stop, okay?” she asked, taking her position back and snuggling in again.

“Yeah babe, I’ll come back soon enough… like all the other times I left you. I’ll always come back, remember what I promised? All those years ago at graduation? That I’d always come back for you? In sickness, dirty, bloody, alive or dead? Sane or insane, with scars, without scars, I promise with all my heart and soul that I’ll come back!” I vowed, kissing her on the forehead as she giggled.

“Yeah, yeah, I remember!” she agreed, smiling again.

Of course, not everything goes to plan…

“Fuck fuck fuck!” I yelled, skidding after the perp. My blades whining in my ears.

“Enji! Cut ‘im off!” I snapped as he linebackered into the guy. We’re basically government sanctioned mafia men.

“I have him, Giriko.” Enji snarled.

The guy struggled mightily against Enji’s hold, I noticed he had scars all over his body, his eyes held fear in them.

“Hey there, what’s your name?” I asked tentatively.

“Tell your fucking attack dog to get the hell off me!” the guy yelled as Enji complied.

I knelt down, “No one’s gonna hurt you. Just trust me.” I assured, the guy looked no older than twenty, fresh out of university and scared shitless.

“S-stay back! I’m warnin’ ya!” he yelled.

“Kid, calm down…” I sighed.

He took a deep breath as the knife in his hands shook.

“What’s your name, kid?” I asked again, noticing that he was calmer.

“H-hatama… Hatama Kukuin,” he answered.

“Who’s your favorite hero, Hatama?” I asked, as the kid steeled himself.

“St-stay away!” he snarled, raising his knife again.

“Hatama, we aren’t gonna get anywhere if you don’t calm down,” I sighed.

He dropped the knife, his shoulders shaking from sobs.

“I-I… I… always liked Judgement…” he sniffed.

“Good, good, okay! We’re gettin’ somewhere. That’s me, so tell me what your quirk is…” I said.

“Radar… it’s radar,” he confessed as Enji growled.

“Enji, stop, you’re gonna scare him,” I snarled at him.

Hatama fidgeted as I walked up close to him, I saw that his eyes were much more calm instead of fearful. They were a bright fluorescent green and his hair was black.

“Okay, tell me where you get the Trigger,” I instructed.

“I… get it from a weird guy, I never see his face… but he’s covered in human hands. He’s got these weird friends, too,” Hatama described.

“Can you tell me about them?” I asked.

“Well… I-” he started, before a gunshot rang out and he fell into my arms.

Enji ran off to find the culprit as I stayed with Hatama. He was hit in the back of the head.

“Y-you… lied… Judge- ment…” he gurgled before dying.

I held him, my clothes stained red with his blood, he was only a few years younger than Kayama and I… if he’d taken a different path, he’d be alive right now.

That death stuck itself far into my head for the rest of the week, and no amount of condolences would ever help. I went to the funeral alone. Enji didn’t care, he just called me a huge softie and left me to my woes.

“Was he a good kid?” I asked his mother, a nice and sweet woman edging towards her fifties. She had tied back blonde hair and blue eyes, probably American. She wasn’t angry at me, rather she was angry at letting her son down.

“He was, Mr. Kenzaburo, he was. Thank you for being with him and believing him…” she sighed.

“Yeah, I figured he wasn’t one to be so bad… I’ve been where he was… all alone and thinking he had no one to go to. So he figured the only way out was to run Trigger. Got shot in the back of the head with his hero being the only one there to comfort him in his final moments… How old was he?” I asked, kind of tearing up.

“He was twenty-one, he was going to be twenty-two in December,” She said, and that was the moment the floodgates broke for me.

‘He was just a kid… and I couldn’t save him…’ I thought getting up and leaving so no one could see me break down.

Hatama Kukuin was the only one I couldn’t save, but his death resonated with me so much that I just… stopped. I turned in my license a few days later and settled into a lull of dullness, walking to the store and back on wednesdays. My life had become completely and utterly normal for a former hero.

“Babe, talk to me! Tell me what’s wrong, please…” Kayama pleaded, holding my hands and even getting on her knees. She looked up at me with those normally piercing blue eyes, now filled with questions.

I never once told her about what happened, all she needed to know was that I was done with being a hero.

“It’s nothing, Kay,” I asserted, my eyes downcast.

“No it isn’t, normally you wouldn’t just hand in your license like that. You can’t just not tell me, I’m your wife, and you’re my husband. You and I are a team,” Kayama said, her hands holding mine.

“Just a few weeks ago, remember how I found that facility that was churning out that Trigger drug?” I asked, and she nodded.

“Enji and I cracked down on it, the others scattered and left only one guy to be chased down. The kid’s name was Hatama Kukuin, I calmed him down as we found out who they were supplying it to. But before he could tell us anything more… poor kid got shot in the back of the head. You and I both know that guns are prohibited to civilians, unless a hero, or villain’s quirk revolves around firearms… the alley had no way out or in of it… unless the shot came from one of the roofs!” I concluded.

“What time of night was it?” Kayama asked, knowing I was on to something.

“About eleven or so.” I determined.

“So the alley would’ve been completely dark…” she surmised.

We nodded at each other as I dashed to my closet, knowing that my vigilante suit was in there. It consisted of a tattered black scarf, a white half-mask, steel toed boots with slats in them for my rollerblades. Literally, my blades can come out of my feet. I know that’s about as weird as a Godzilla drop-kick, anyway, I had a black tracksuit too. I kind of looked like Stain.

“Ah, that takes me back to the days when you were such a renegade… C’mere, baby!” she giggled, pulling me close by my scarf and kissing me passionately I wanted her so desperately.

“Baby… I know I can’t fix what happened… but maybe I can let it go away for awhile, Giri…” she said, opening her shirt.

“Just sleep, Giri… sleep for me, please,” She begged gently, her sweet scent wafting into my nose. I closed my eyes as I felt her hand drift up to my head to pet my hair. She sighed, and buried her face into my hair.

“You’re a tired old swordsman… yanking yourself in and out of retirement because your code won’t let you rest… so rest for me… rest for me… rest, for me,” she whispered gently, making it a mantra. It didn’t work, though. Ever since that kid died, I kept replacing him with her. Her blood blooming into my hands, her eyes dying. Her heart stopping. Her last words weren’t those of love, or goodbye, or a kiss. It was… those words.

“You… lied… to me, Giri…” her breath sighed out of her cold lips. Her beautiful hair wet with the dark rose of her blood. I snapped out of it, my head moving to find her heartbeat.

‘Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub, lub dub.’ it sounded as Kayama’s hand still caressed my hair. Her breath warm and her voice repeating the mantra, low and soft. Velvety and sultry. I snuggled in deeper as she let out a tiny giggle.

Her hand still was caressing my hair, a soft shifting rhythm.

“Your quirk doesn’t work any more, babe…” I mumbled.

“I’m trying, sweetie… I’m trying,” she assured gently as I squeezed her. My head kept on replaying that scenario, this time with my little sister, My father, and Kayama in a constant loop.  

‘You lied…’

‘Please, rest!’

Those two voices, both in my wife’s quiet tone, thundered and growled.

I just listened to her heartbeat, her quiet sighing, the softly shifting rhythm of my hair being petted by my wife. The woman I had admired from afar in class, the woman that asked me out instead of the other way around. The one woman I went to when my mother became absolutely unbearable and I was alone in the house. Kayama and my sister were the only reason for being at the time. I wanted to die many times before… Kayama saved me.

Kayama held me tightly as I sobbed into her shoulder. I had enough. Mother had slapped Tomoko. I ran to a bridge, wanting to let it all go.

‘I’m going to jump, and I’ll be free…’ I thought, looking down.

‘I’m probably not gonna have anybody at my stupid funeral…’ I growled.

‘At least… she’ll get to say goodbye,’ I considered as I saw Kayama running up to me.

“Giri? What do you need? You’ve been acting weird…” she sighed.

“I… want you to tell my sister… that, that I love her, and that I’m going to go see Grampa…” I sighed.

“What…?” she wondered.

I stepped up to the railing as she knew what I wanted her to see. I invited her to my final concert to the world. My swansong to the planet.

She dashed up to me, tackling me over and holding me tightly as the cold night air seeped in.

“Giriko… I need to tell you this, and it’s important, this won’t fix anything, death won’t fix anything,” she said.

I started to sob, “Kayama… You’re one of the reasons I live... I just… just… lost it,” I admitted as she squeezed me tightly, my face buried into her chest, hearing her heartbeat.

“Live for me, for Tomo and your dad… promise me. Swear to me. Live for us, and live for me…” she crooned, and I felt it. I felt her tears. Her hitching breaths, her fear at me taking a swan dive into the cold river.

I held my husband tightly, he was snuggled so deep within my arms and chest that I could just shake with ecstacy. But this wasn’t for that at all. He was frightened, and that was rare. Intensely, almost insanely rare. His hair was soft beneath my fingers as I ran them through his spiky ‘do. If he were a dog, he would probably be a huge Mastiff…  he shifted so his angular face was staring up at me and he was using my chest as a pillow, my chin perched on the top of his head. It was hard to believe that Giriko was abused for all of those years. He’d always shown up at school with an angry purple bruise or a bandage around his arm or leg. He’d always… feel more than others, too. Even if he did things perfectly, he’d tear up. His band was forbidden from practicing at his house, which was almost sacrilege. Even I wasn’t allowed over. At our wedding, I finally knew why he would keep us as far away from his mother as he physically could.

I was deliriously happy, my new husband was holding me, our song was playing and everyone was watching us with admiration in their eyes. I was from a family of simple perfume makers, hard work made more sense than being a hero to them. They couldn’t be more proud when they found out about me making it into UA. I met Giriko and fell in love with him soon after he saved me from a bunch of thugs. All of a sudden, the music stopped as Giriko’s grip became like a vice on me as I looked up at the door beyond.

There she was, Amari Kenzaburo was tall, reedy and looked like she used way too much botox. Long, steel gray hair snaked down from her scalp. Her red eyes held a fury in them.

“M-mother….” Giriko gulped, smiling crookedly and awkwardly.

“Giri…” she growled, the family’s nickname for him sounding like a disgusting piece of food in her mouth.

“Why are you marrying that… harlot?” she drawled, her voice sounding snooty and imperious.

“What did you say about my Kayama?!” My father yelled, already raring to fight. Surprisingly, Giriko let go of me so he could stand between her and me. His six-four, lithely muscular frame, shaking like a leaf. His eyes blazed with a quiet strength, the strength that his therapist told me that he had all this time. I was holding his hand as his free one had blades poking out of it, shifting and whirring gently.

“Get out,” he growled in the voice I’d long associated for when he got serious or wanted me to follow what he said. His teeth were gritted and his eyes were intensely staring into his darling mother’s eyes.

“Oh really? You don’t have the guts…” she growled.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to protect her. Even if it means killing family…” he growled in response, his grit teeth and blazing blue eyes holding back years of pain. I finally understood why he wanted to keep us all away.

I woke up with Kayama’s arms around me as I checked the time on my phone, making sure the brightness was down. It was three in the morning, and I was positioned with my head against my wife’s chest, almost like a pillow. I didn’t want to move, she was too far into her sleep though. But I didn’t want to move, she’d probably wake up. I remembered all of the times I’d find myself cuddled up against her. Like the night I tried to ‘exit downstage left’.

We called it that because the actual word for it was too ugly to think of. It sounded like a crime. I loved her so much… I made good on my promise. I made sure of that… for her.

“Mmm…” I heard her soft groan.

“Morning, Kay-chan…” I crooned up at her as her starlight blue eyes opened.

“It’s three in the morning, Giri…” she groaned, looking down at me as I looked up at her with my steel-blue eyes.

“You’re a good pillow,” I stated simply.

“Shut up…” she groaned.

“I’m serious!” I snapped at her.

“You’re warm… you’re soft with the right amount of firmness… but there’s one thing you have that pillows don’t…” I groaned in my half-awake stupor.

“And what’s that?” she asked.

“You’re my best friend, my lover, and… and my reason for fighting and living, I want to live for you…” I sighed, leaning up and kissing her neck gently. She’s mine… no one else’s.

“That, and you’re the most beautiful hero ever to walk the earth… but hey, who am I kidding?” I asked as she grabbed a pillow and bopped me on the head with it.

“You’re a dork, a huge, grade A, dork,” Kayama began, smiling and looking up at me.

“But you’re my dork!” she said.

It was all the truth. No matter what, I’d live for Kayama. That’s what I promised, and that’s what I wanted.

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