Path of Endurance chapter 14
Brianna wasn't able to stand up for days. The fever ached her muscles so hard she avoided even turning over in her sleep. So she just lay there, on the sofa, either slumbering or deep in her thoughts. Bryan came and went as he saw fit, being happy about the fact he was now the one in charge. Or at least he was able to imagine so. He was the boss now; it was his job to take care of Brianna and to do the housekeeping, and finally it was he who said the "go to sleep" order.
But just as quickly as the fever had risen, it also decreased. Early one morning Bryan woke up, hearing noises as if someone had cooked in the kitchen. Brianna was making breakfast. Bryan sat down onto a kitchen stool to observe, and to wait for food. He watched his sister grabbing a packet of cereals and pouring some into a bowl, when suddenly a real, living rat fell from the packet and into the bowl.
"Oh..." Brianna staggered. "Morning."
The rat squeaked and ran into the corner of the kitchen counters. Brianna put some cereal into her hand and slowly reached towards the rat. Eventually the rat came closer, first sniffing around in Brianna's fingertips, and then finally sitting down to eat. His tail and whiskers tickled Brianna, who had trouble stifling her laughter. Bryan, however, practically speaking laughed his ass off. When the rat had finished his breakfast, he ran along Brianna's arm to her shoulder, sniffing around her in hope of more food, yet even when none was found, he sat neatly on Brianna's shoulder with no intention of leaving. "We seem to have a new family member," Brianna snickered. "What should we call him?"
A moment of silence.
"Hero," Brianna finally said. But it was more a whisper; a silent thank-you sent to the man that had opened her eyes and helped her reborn in the pouring rain... she was still able to smell the humidity, and hear the man's silent voice singing. Yet she hadn't learned his name. Not that it would've helped much; Brianna hardly would add him to her Christmas card list.
Detective Lei Wulong paid her a visit on her last day of sick-leave. Brianna had kicked her boots off and lounged bare-footed on the sofa, cuddled into a corner with a book in her hands. Her mug of coffee, chilled out a good while ago, lay forgotten on the floor as pages flew by. Upon hearing the doorbell ring, Bryan went to open the door. The relatively tall figure of Lei towered over the young boy, who laid a suspicious glance on him.
"Hello, little Bryan," Lei greeted, his Chinese dialect shining through his speech.
"Hello, no one," Bryan grinned, partly in disgust. Something in this man made him feel sick ? perhaps, as he a minute or two later thought, it was because he went too close to Sis. Brianna quit reading the moment Wulong entered her area of sight. "Well, look what the cat dragged in," she spat. Even though it was Lei who had recruited her, she never found it in herself to actually like him. He was too perfect; too modest for being a supercop, too proud for being pushed and too lucky to live ? very unlike the man, who would always return into her thoughts.
"Brianna, we need to talk," Wulong went straight into business, sitting down onto a chair near her. "I hear you helped out a terrorist the other night."
Brianna took a sip, almost spitting out the cold coffee. A terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist ? yeah, right, and she was Siddartha Gautama sitting under the Boddhi-tree, meditating her way to Nirvana. Having coughed her lungs empty, Brianna looked at Bryan, who was playing with his toy cars. "Bryan ? seen terrorists?"
"Nope," Bryan replied, without giving any of his attention away from the toy cars.
"There you have it."
Wulong sighed ? either Brianna had completely brainwashed her younger brother or he actually thought exactly the same way as she did. Suddenly he looked outside from every window, glanced around every corner and then leaned himself closer to Brianna. "You're right ? he isn't a terrorist. But I'm afraid it's sort of 'speak of the Devil and Devil appears' thing going on downtown. He made an extreme raid to Mishima Zaibatsu the night you met him... you should see the place, you can hardly find a ball of dust even if you looked. You have seen with him, and I think you may be in great danger."
"Brianna, whatchee talkin' about?" Bryan's clear voice collided with the low tone Wulong had kept up. He could see the look in Brianna's eyes change ? she was worried. "Bryan, go to your room," she said. Bryan knew better than to object; he collected his colorful toy cars from the floor and put them back into his hollow toy box. At first, he tried to listen what Brianna and Lei were talking about, but they kept voices too low and silent for him to hear. Finally giving up, Bryan took his pillow from his bunk and laid it into the corner where the man had sat down. He lay down onto the floor, imagining himself back into that night.
"He is identified only by the codename 'Yoshimitsu'," Wulong said, showing a few blurry photos of what could have possibly been any other man than the one that had helped Brianna. "He is linked into the notorious Clan of thieves called the Manji. They're a mean bunch; usually they stick to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but once someone gets on their nerves bad enough... well, they are linked to several assassination cases."
Yoshimitsu... Brianna let the name linger on her dark lips, letting the sweet taste of her savior's name drip from every letter, nay, every sound of it. When she closed her eyes, she could still feel his both physical and mental strength surrounding her, creating the intoxicating feeling of safety and comfort. No other man had ever touched her like that. It felt so... his hands were... it's just that...
Brianna mentally slapped herself as she realized she was aroused by the mere mention of his name. "Brianna, are you alright?" Wulong inquired. "Your cheeks turned beet read."
"I'm fine," Brianna growled, feeling irritated by Wulong's presence, who ? sensing this ? decided to get on with his businesses and stop bothering her. "Anyway, as I was saying, -" Wulong leaned towards the back of the chair, "Both the police and Mishima Zaibatsu are certain that you are the only outsider who is alive and able to recognize him by his face. He has a fetish of wearing somewhat kabuki-styled masks to cover his face, but there are few physical properties that we are certain of."
"Such as?" Brianna's curiosity burst into flames.
"We do know he's left-handed, and that his left hand starting from below his elbow is high-tech mechanized. He is Japanese ? or at least born in Japan -, thus it is no surprise his hair is black. He stands almost 180cm tall, but is lightweight compared to his height. That's about the gist of it."
Brianna could've continued listing those properties forever ? she had felt his gentle, bright, unnaturally green eyes roaming her body as she had had the honor to tend to his newly formed scar over his face (Brianna scolded herself for realizing only later on what it had apparently meant), and as he had closed her into a soothing embrace, Brianna had felt his rough sideburns scratching her ear gently. But never, ever she would bring out her feelings. She felt unbearably bad when studying her feelings towards a man, whose woman was carrying their baby under her belt. Yes, another thing she knew about Yoshimitsu the others didn't ? he was a father.
"So what is it that you want?" Brianna spat, hatred oozing from every cell of her being. If Wulong was thinking she was going to betray her hero he should seriously reconsider thinking again ? and the venomous glare in her eyes told Wulong about as much. Either he was just very stubborn or foolhardy, keeping the pressure on Brianna. She didn't buy Wulong's show of yeah-you're-right-he-ain't-a-villain-I-just-have-to-say-so for one moment.
A squeezing silence landed upon them. Wulong withstood Brianna's homicidal glare at ease, but admitted it was relieving when a flock of Brianna's pitch-black hair brought an end to the staring competition. Grinning her irritation, Brianna pushed the hair back where it came from.
"So you refuse to identify him?" Wulong inquired.
"Does a chicken have a pecker?" Brianna replied.
"About time, too."
Wulong stood up from the chair to leave. "Of course you realize I can't just let you waltz away with this," he said.
"Doesn't matter. Life isn't dancing on roses," Brianna replied, stood up and emptied the contents of her coffee mug into the sink.
"You really should re-consider. Is he really worth loosing your job for?" Wulong stepped over the line ? not with what he said, but he laid his hand on Brianna's cheek. Brianna grabbed his wrist with all her strength and twisted his arm behind his back into a painful lock.
"Worth loosing my job for!" she spat, tearing Wulong outside the apartment.
"Worth dying for!" she smacked his head into the wall.
"Worth killing for!" a strike from her knee struck him down.
Wulong was kneeling on the ground, bent over and gasping like a fish. Brianna grabbed him by his fancy ponytail and forced him to look back into her eyes, emphasizing her final words:
"Worth going to hell for."
She smacked Wulong on the ground and returned indoors ? not because she had finished, but during her raging, she had suddenly felt all the strength from her body draining away. When she made it inside and closed the door, her legs gave in and she fell on the ground. Her body began shaking violently, bringing out a piercing pain that slowly but carefully consumed every inch of her being. Biting her lip to fight crying for the pain, Brianna crawled on the sofa, lay down and squeezed her pillow into her chest, still shaking. The pain was tearing her off her consciousness, but the sheer fear of the situation kept her awake; what the hell was happening to her?
After the seizure had lasted for about a few minutes, Brianna was no longer aware of what happened around her. She slowly drifted into a light state of unconsciousness, still squeezing the pillow. The shaking ceased gradually, and all there was left was an uneasy slumbering. Due the sudden silence, Bryan dared to come out from his room to see what was going on. He was surprised to see his sister sleeping on the sofa, holding the pillow with her knuckles as white as snow. Carefully Bryan took the pillow from her and put it under her head ? she didn't wake. But as she was breathing fine and everything, Bryan was very unsure about what to do... except to lay her willow on her and wait until she wakes.
Brianna slept for a good three hours, until Bryan finally pushed her awake. "Sis, are you okay?"
Feeling like her head would explode to pieces, Brianna slowly sat up, holding her aching head and grinning the pain. She let out a silent moan while Bryan sat down next to her, cuddling her like she would've risen from the death. He sobbed ? it was the feeling of relief that got the tears into his eyes. He felt Sis wrapping her hands around him and pressing a gentle kiss into his hair. "What's the time?" she asked after a brief silence.
"Nine PM," Bryan said after a while. Brianna had taught him how to tell the time.
"Then it's bedtime, mister," she smiled, poking him gently. "You've got school tomorrow, and I'll have to go back to work."
... that is, IF she would still have a job tomorrow. Suddenly attacking Wulong didn't seem like it had been a good idea to begin with. Wulong could easily torch her out the place ? or worse, order every cop withing hundred miles after her. If that was to happen, she would have to take her and Bryan underground ? but it was not something she wanted Bryan to see; prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, murderers... assorted outlaws, that spawned like out of nowhere into those dark areas of town.
No point crying after spilled ammo, Brianna thought and lay back down in her thoughts. Bryan lay down on her chest, pulling the willow on himself. "Bryan, don't you think you should sleep in your own bed?" Brianna inquired.
"Just a little while, Sis..." Bryan managed to mutter before falling asleep. Brianna smiled, closed her eyes and laid her hands on Bryan's back. Tomorrow she would deal with Wulong for good.