Searching for Nobody
In the rainy night, I’m still a nobody.
“Hey, are you okay?” Bruce asked. He walked towards her and helped her up.
Now all eyes were on her. Ai could feel sweat bead up in her palms; her heart quickened as she hastily tried to find the words to say – anything that won’t expose her lineage. Fear grabbed a hold of her throat and kept it tight. It refused to let her go.
And yet, she was able to laugh it away so easily. “Ah,” she started, “I’m okay.” She allowed the man to help her up. Even though he was very loud and it was clear he was yakuza, Ai could still sense a kindness from him. She smiled for effect and for a while, it seemed the man’s eyes were locked on hers.
The two didn’t say anything for a while and it was silent between the two until they both heard a young woman’s voice.
“Brother,” Lizbeth suddenly said. There was a tint of irritation in her voice and Bruce turned his attention back to her. He let go of her hand and Ai hoped he didn’t notice her shaking hand. Nervous because he’s a yakuza, scared because of her name, fear because of the future, Ai was tempted to just leave the restaurant. She didn’t want to draw anymore attention to herself as everyone went back to what they did.
Lizbeth didn’t say anything after that but kept her eyes on Ai. Suspicious, unsure, Ai was curious what lied behind Lizbeth’s eyes as she stared at her. Still, she didn’t want the attention from the yakuza siblings. Very soon, Lizbeth turned away and ignored Ai.
However, Bruce finally spoke up. “Do you want to eat with us? I see you’re eating alone. There’s no need for you to be by yourself when we’re celebrating such a wonderful event!” He threw his arms wide open to exaggerate the feelings he had towards being named heir.
Ai chuckled softly. She knew she couldn’t refuse him. From what little she understood, this Bruce was next in line to be the next yakuza lord in City A. She couldn’t refuse even if she wanted to.
“Brother, you can’t just invite some strange woman to our table!” Lizbeth objected as she refocused her eyes on the two again. “We don’t even know her! What’s your name, girl?”
Ai couldn’t help but get slightly annoyed. She was sure she was older than this woman but she answered nonetheless. Although, she couldn’t help but hesitate. She knew her name, Nakano, was extremely dangerous so she went with the only last name she could think of.
“I’m… Fukoi Ai.” She breathed out. She could feel herself get even more nervous with every word that passed through her lips. She silently apologized to Akio in her mind – for he was the only last name she could think of at that moment.
“Ah, Fukoi-chan,” Bruce immediately said. “Hey, that’s a nice name!” He smiled and patted her back. She smiled gently and hoped that no one could figure it out. She hoped, more than anything, Akio wouldn’t find out. “Well, we got her name, Lizbeth, seems like we know her now!”
In spite of his rough looks, it seemed that Bruce was actually a very kind man. She hoped they had met under different circumstances but she couldn’t help but smile and laugh at the siblings’ discussion.
Lizbeth let out a disgusted sigh. “Well, if you insist, Bruce,” she had one of the men who sat near them move enough to create room for Ai to sit. Bruce grabbed a hold of the waitress who served Ai and told her they would pay for whatever Ai ordered. Ai made her way to the seat and sat next to Lizbeth. From what Ai could tell, Lizbeth wasn’t that much taller – however, she glowed brighter. Was it the more expensive clothes? Her makeup? The fact she was probably younger?
Ai bit her lip as she felt nervous being surrounded by the yakuza men. After the waitress brought a fresh plate of Ai’s fried chicken and a fresh mug of draft beer, Ai started to pick at her food. Bruce sat down at the other side of her and she only realized how much he towered over the two women but he didn’t seem to notice or care. He seemed really happy to have them there.
However, the welcoming ambiance relaxed her a little bit. Even though she sat on a lie, she was willing to risk it for a momentary’s reprieve. Light conversation sparked between the two while Lizbeth ate and drank in silence. She kept her eyes on Ai and it did make her uncomfortable – though Ai did try to include her.
“Brother may be comfortable around you,” Lizbeth had told Ai when Bruce left for the bathroom, “but I don’t trust you. Just know I’m keeping an eye on you.”
Ai wasn’t sure how to make of it. She didn’t think she had a suspicious aura but perhaps because of their hierarchy, the young woman must have some reason. That much, Ai could understand. However, she relaxed on her troubles when she found herself laughing to Bruce’s jokes. She could hear a tiny voice tell her that this was only temporary. After this, she could probably never approach these people again. If she saw them in the streets, Ai wouldn’t dare to approach the two.
Ai was a nobody.
This was all temporary. Just like her parents. Just like her student. Everything was temporary.
“Hey, have you heard from Kido yet?” Bruce suddenly called out. His cheerful expression changed as he remembered something seemingly dire. Lizbeth finally looked his way – instead of her now usual focus on Ai – and gave him a questioning look.
“Wasn’t Kido in charge of Mother’s necklace?” she asked. There was somehow an innocent tone to her question that Ai couldn’t place.
Bruce looked to her and nodded. “I haven’t seen him since I gave him the necklace yesterday. He hasn’t been back yet, has he? Does he know how important that necklace is?”
Lizbeth seemed to notice the change in his voice. Ai was surprised at the sudden dark tone so she kept quiet. “Brother, you know it takes a couple of days for them to properly clean something like that.”
The man was quiet but Ai could sense his mood shifted drastically. He became more sullen and angry as he thought about Lizbeth’s statement. “Even so, do they know who we are? Wouldn’t they put a rush on something as important as that?”
Ai just sat back and watched the two have the conversation. It almost seemed as though the siblings forgot she was there.
“No, Brother. It doesn’t matter who we are. It’ll take them the usual amount of time to do it.”
“It’s almost that time –”
“Shush. Not now, Brother.” She put a gloved finger over her lips to emphasize her point. “Weren’t we celebrating Father’s health?”
Bruce turned away and he looked angrily into his drink. He growled in anger. Ai wondered what caused this man before her to be so angry at this Kido person, at the hard working people at the jewelry shop in charge of the necklace… She wished she could comfort him but at the very least, she placed a gentle hand on the man’s back.
Lizbeth must’ve saw this because she cleared her throat suddenly.
Still, Ai ignored her. She couldn’t ignore someone in pain. She left her hand on his back, defiantly.
“We are but… I just remembered,” Bruce started. “I just remembered that we needed to get that necklace before that time. I can’t believe we sent it out so late!”
“No worries, Brother. It’ll be taken care of.”
Ai moved her hand away from the man. She knew then she crossed a line with the younger girl. Her tone was angry. Ai couldn’t, she shouldn’t have done that, she wouldn’t do that again.
“You’re right, Lizbeth, you’re always right.” He let out a big sigh and sat back. He didn’t seem to acknowledge Ai’s gentle touch and Ai was okay with that.
For such an important necklace, Ai pondered what it looked like. Because of how extravagant they were dressed, Ai imagined the necklace would match them. Although, she didn’t know what their mother looked like. Still, it must be a pretty important piece of jewelry.
He looked towards Ai and gave her a gentle smile. “Sorry about that. I had just remembered something very important. A very important date is coming up and, well, it’s tradition.”
Ai nodded. She understood perfectly. Perhaps she should create a tradition of her own since her parents were both gone, but she didn’t want to dwell. “I understand. No worries.”
The man smiled, unfitting for a future lord yakuza. Ai almost forgot they were yakuza in the first place.
They enjoyed the rest of the night and eventually, the party decided to move to a favorite club of his. Ai watched with bemusement as the men helped a very excited Bruce out the door. It still rained – Ai had forgotten for a moment about her troubles as she spent time with them, even with a looming threat – and Lizbeth kept her eye on Ai the whole time, even while she opened her cheap umbrella. However, it seemed she had softened since.
“Hey, Ai!” Bruce shouted excitedly. He seemed to be extremely forward as he used her first name instead of the last name Ai used. “Come with us!” He managed to get himself loose from his underlings and he grabbed her hands.
His hands were very warm to the touch compared to her cold hands. She smiled gently. She wanted to join them in their merriment – even though they very well should be in completely separate worlds, she wanted to say yes and join them. However, Ai couldn’t ignore the fear of them finding out the truth about her, the fact she’s supposed to fear them confused her as she very much enjoyed their company.
The rain hit the umbrella gently. She smiled. She could feel her sadness and fear come over her but she struggled. She forced her smile for him, someone who could never understand the fear, the new changes in her life she had to face alone.
“I would love to, but I cannot. I appreciate you inviting me, but I can’t go. I have to go home and feed my cat.” Another lie. She never pegged herself as a liar, ever. Her parents had always wanted her to tell the truth – they had once joked Ai was unable to lie.
What have I become? she thought.
“I can send someone! Join us! Join us!”
However, Ai couldn’t move from her spot.
“N-no, Twitchy is very particular…It’s fine. It really is!” She pulled back her hands and ran a good distance away from the siblings. She was even surprised to see Lizbeth watch her run. “I’m fine. It was a pleasure meeting you two. I hope to see you again!” One day.
The two siblings had no other choice but to leave her alone. The rain started to soak the two as the underlings rushed to get something to cover them up. Ai smiled as brightly as she could against the rain which blurred the city’s lights between each other. Ai could feel herself shake once more.
Never until this moment had Ai realized how truly alone she felt.
The underlings insisted things were okay. They dragged the siblings away with a song Ai couldn’t understand. She watched the siblings walk away as she tightened her grip on her briefcase. She could feel tears down her cheek as she lowered her umbrella.
The rain, which mixed with her tears as it soaked her hair as well, continued to fall.
“I’m just a nobody after all.”