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Shift - Chapter 18 - The Broken Watch

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“Saki!” Yuki shouted rushing over to Saki’s collapsed body. A million questions ran through his head trying to understand what was wrong with her. ‘I thought she was at home… What’s she doing here? What’s wrong with Saki? Why did she collapse?’ He grabbed her up from the street letting her rest against him in a seated position. “Can you hear me, Saki?”

Chapter 18 – The Broken Watch

Hiroshi felt the flood of emotions and panic wash over him. He tried to keep himself in control, but he had never seen Saki in such a state before. It had looked like she was in a fight and badly lost it with the bruises and dirt that covered her. Even her clothes were ripped from something or someone. ‘What did she get herself into? If they did this to Saki…’ He placed his hand on Yuki’s shoulder to grab his attention away from Saki for a moment. “Yuki, we should get her out of here to rest.”

“Yeah…you’re right.”

“I’ll help you…” Hiroshi started to move to the other side of Saki to give Yuki aid, but found that his assistance was not needed. Yuki had already put his arms under her legs and back lifting her up in his arms holding her close to his chest. Hiroshi stood with his mouth agape watching Yuki walk away from him hardly missing a motion. “I guess you don’t need my help.” It took Hiroshi a moment to catch his mind up that he was being left behind by Yuki to hurry to his side. ‘I guess he’s stronger than he looks. Maybe there’s more truth to that story than I gave him credit for.’ When he reached Yuki’s side he looked over to him seeking an answer. “Where are you going? Her apartment is behind us.”

“I can’t take her to her mother looking like this.”

“But she’ll figure it out eventually. Saki’s missing right now.”

“All the more reason to find out what happened before her mother does find out. My house is just up the street. She’ll be safe there.” Yuki guided Hiroshi to his house trying to keep his mind focused and far from fearful thoughts that tried to explain what happened to Saki. He did not want to consider what it was or jump to conclusions (although he had already jumped too many before even touching Saki).

From further down the street Ayumi came walking towards the two of them. She had already changed out of her school uniform into a simple red dress. When she saw Yuki carrying someone in his arms she hastened her pace to reach them before they made it to the threshold. “Is everything alright, Yuki? Is that Saki?!” She ran around Hiroshi meeting up with Yuki at the doorway looking down at Saki. “What happened to her?”

Yuki turned his head away trying to hide the rising emotions of regret, failure and anger away from her. “I don’t know…”

Hiroshi caught up to Ayumi and pulled her away from Yuki letting him have room. “It’ll be alright. Saki’s strong.” He held her back at her shoulders keeping her close to him feeling her struggling against him.

The pounding that Yuki slammed against the door was finally answered in slow fashion by his younger brother, Jun. It only took him a split second to change from a blank expression to a panicked one that was quickly melting into uselessness. Jun ran away a moment later disappearing into the house leaving the three to sweat embarrassed. Yuki shook off his stalled disbelief and pushed through into the house quickly making his way to the living room. He knelt down to ease Saki on to the couch letting her lay straight with her head resting against a pillow. “Saki… I-I…”

Hiroshi and Ayumi stepped into the living room keeping a safe distance away not certain to do. Yuki turned back to them coming to meet eyes with Ayumi and piercing through her mask trying to see if she would be able to help. None of them knew what was wrong with Saki and even less about what needed to be done. Yuki stood up walking away from them looking up the stairs. “Ken! Where are you, Ken?” A few more shouts finally revealed Ken behind him coming from the back of the house.

“What’s all the shouting about?”

“I need you to show Hiroshi where the blankets are and bring one back.” Yuki looked over to his friend with eyes that said he needed his help. Hiroshi silently agreed and followed behind Ken up the stairs. Yuki turned back to Ayumi now that he was alone with her. “Can you do anything to help her?”

“You’re over reacting. You need to calm down and relax.”

“Can you or can’t you?”

“Probably, but you can’t always be dependent on my power or your power.”

Yuki was fighting back the urge to shout at Ayumi knowing that it would only cause more troubles. He had to do this quickly before they came back. “…I don’t care… What good is having the power if you don’t use when it’s needed?! Saki’s hurt. She needs help!” He grabbed Ayumi’s arms trying to plead with her. Saki needed him now. He had been barely holding back everything in a dam that he felt was going to break at any moment. The last time he could do nothing for her and regretted it. He was not going to allow that to happen again. “Please…”

“…Fine…” Ayumi removed her arms from Yuki and walked over to Saki’s side. The unconscious girl looked peaceful through all of the beating that she had taken. Ayumi closed her eyes and concentrated quickly to provide a fast aid to her that would be as quiet as possible. A soft faint almost invisible blue glow came around her that faded away immediately drawn in thin threads on to Saki’s body seeking out any injury to mend. ‘Most of what she has are just surface bruises, nothing deep. There’s not much I can do aside from push along the natural healing process.’

Yuki watched over Ayumi’s shoulder holding his hands together squeezing them tightly. ‘Saki… please be alright…’ The tap of feet and whining boards from up stairs grew louder as Ken and Hiroshi drew to the steps. Yuki placed his hand on Ayumi shoulder alerting her to their presence. “They’re coming back,” he said under his breath.

The faint light that Ayumi was emanating from her disappeared shattered to vapor. She stood up regaining her usual face that was heavily wrinkled in worry. She stepped away letting Hiroshi hand over the blanket to Yuki. Once Saki was covered up and allowed to rest they retreated to the kitchen to keep an ear out for when Saki would wake. Yuki sent his brother back to search for Jun to make sure that he was alright. When Ken was gone Yuki turned to his friends who both had uncertain faces. “What should we do? I’m worried about Saki, but…”

Hiroshi could see that Yuki was starting to lose it for how much he had been holding it together. “Hey man. It’ll be alright. Like I said before Saki’s strong. A little rest and she’ll be up kicking me into the pavement.”

Yuki choked on a laugh at Hiroshi’s joke breaking in a smile that felt painful. “Yeah…”

“Do you know what happened to her?” said Ayumi stepping into the conversation making the two boys realize that she was out of the loop. She had not been brought up to speed and the way that Yuki was acting she was not certain if he was overreacting.

Hiroshi stepped in seeing that Yuki was not able to respond. “We don’t much. We found her barely walking in the street before she collapsed. What you see is how we found her.”

“Saki…what can we…” Ayumi voice began to break up with the bubbling emotions rising up pushing tears. She tried to wipe them away quickly, but could not work fast enough to keep them at bay.

The stream of tears from Ayumi made Hiroshi panic a little not wanting to have the girl crying, but also not knowing what he could do. ‘Great…first Yuki and now Ayumi… Yuki just better not start crying…’ Hiroshi tried to give a reassuring hand to Ayumi, but caught out of the corner of his eye that Yuki was starting to lose it. He let out a long sigh and pulled out chairs for the two of them to sit down. Hiroshi stepped out of the kitchen becoming a little embarrassed by the scene developing (especially since Ayumi was faking it).

In the living room it was quieter, though Saki’s presence made the room feel heavy. Hiroshi took an uncomfortable seat in the end chair that gave him a view of Saki. “Can’t believe this happened to you… You’re always charging in beating up bullies for Yuki. And now you’re lying here…” Hiroshi dug his face into his legs as he drew up closer.

“…Yu…ki…” said a strained voice from Saki’s lips. Her body started to move slightly and her eyes flicker open.

The low groans and sounds from Saki caught up to Hiroshi pulling his head up and turning to Saki. When he confirmed that he was not dreaming it he turned to the kitchen. “Yuki! Saki’s awake!” Saki was already trying to sit up, but a pained bite across her lips pulled Hiroshi back. “Hey, don’t overdo it. Just lie down.”


“Saki?” Yuki said from the edge of the living room before he sprinted over to her side dropping to the floor to meet with her eyes. “Saki! I-I…” Relief and joy overcame his words choking them before they could get out. He reached out his hand resting it on her hand needing to have the contact to remove any thought he could be dreaming. “Saki…”

Hiroshi stepped in between the two seeing that Yuki was too buried in his feelings to be able to talk properly. “I think what he’s wanting to say is ‘how are you feeling?’”

“Where am I?” Saki said trying to look around from her position, but finding it too difficult to move. She tried to pull back away from all of the faces that she was getting in front of her becoming unnerved by the attention.

“You’re in my house,” Yuki said.

Saki was feeling a little better and broached the effort to sit up. This time her body did not protest as painfully for her, but it put Yuki on edge. She gave him a comforting smile to ease his concern that she could read so easily.

“Easy. You were banged up pretty good,” Hiroshi said trying to give his aid to Saki where he could.

“What am I doing in your house?” she said once she was sitting up in the couch with the blanket on her lap. She was getting looks from the others and feeling like she was an invalid. It was a helpless feeling that she did not like.

Yuki, Hiroshi and Ayumi turned their heads to each other in silent stares as though they were communicating to each other without words. When they finished their telepathy Yuki leaned in having become the elected leader. “Well we were sort of hoping that you could tell us. We found you down the street barely standing before you collapsed in front of us. We brought you back here so that you could rest.” At the end of Yuki’s words they lean in a little towards Saki awaiting an answer to the mystery.

Saki pulled back from the ganging up that she was receiving from her friends coming to a loss at their reactions. Her mind was still catching up to what was happening to her immediately that she had not thought about why she was in the state that she was. “I collapsed? Outside…” Various images caught in the filters of her mind were slowly piecing together events. ‘What was it… I was…’ Saki tried to go back to the start when it happened. “I was… doing something… important I think…” The gears were turning in her head, but it was slow dragging their feet along as though they did not want to be let outside for everyone to see. Saki pressed her palm against her forehead pushing through her hair straining at the edge of her memories.

“Important? What were you doing?” Hiroshi said pressing her.

Having Hiroshi in her face made her angry almost instantly. She threw her other hand out hitting him on the top of his head with her fist. “Stupid, I’m trying to remember. So shut up!”

The assault was enough to quiet Hiroshi and turn him a little blue while Yuki and Ayumi stared on sweating in embarrassment. “Guess she’s feeling better…” he said under his breath.

“Did it have anything to do with why you were late to class yesterday?” Yuki said hoping that it would help trigger something for Saki.

‘Yesterday… Hitomi!’ A light in her mind had just turned on revealing how all of the pieces fit together for her. All of the events from the other day came back to her so quickly that she was overwhelmed with the memories. Saki took a heavy breath propping herself with her hand against the couch as she played through the images that became memories.

“Saki!? Are you alright?” Yuki said quickly coming to her aid placing his hand on her hand looking up at her unable to hold back the wrinkled panic that was enveloping him. “You should lie down.”

Saki pulled herself back up having caught her breath and leaned against the couch. “No… I just remembered it too quickly. I’ll be fine.”

“So you know what happened?”

Saki evened out the blanket on her lap before she began her story. “After school I was with Hitomi, from track. She was worried about a friend of hers who had gotten sick. She wanted me to go with her to Takako’s house…” Her mind went back to the day before walking through the steps that lead up to what happened. It was the only way she could sort and process everything that was hitting her at once.

A minute later of waiting a reply over the speaker came. “Yes? We aren’t interested in anything you’re selling.” The voice was deep and old with a little crack in the speech. It made the two girls step back expecting that they would see someone rather than a voice.

“U-Uh…I’m sorry,” Hitomi said finding the courage to speak while Saki kept a placid face trying to look like she belonged. “We aren’t selling anything. We’re classmates of Takako.”

“I see. Well Miss Takako is not here currently.”

Hitomi looked back at Saki as though she was expecting an answer to explain what she was just told. It was plainly clear to her that the instant glance at Saki told her that she had no answers. She turned back to the speaker. “What? But we were told that she was sick. We have her assignments for her.”

“You may leave her things in the box. I’ll inform her of your visit. Thank you.” The voice ended and a clicking sound that seemed to tell them silently to leave.

“What does this mean? The school says she’s sick and her family says she’s out.” Hitomi looked back at Saki wanting something from her this time. She was at a loss as to what was going on, but there was something being hidden by someone.

Saki had no more of a clue to what was going on than Hitomi, but it had been made clear to them that someone was lying. She did not know why they were doing it, but this was not going to be as simple as she thought anymore. ‘What’s going on?’ However, it was clear to her that it was going to be impossible, short of breaking into the grounds, of getting anything more from her family or even confirming if she was home or not. She turned away from the gate walking back into the street still pensive over the contradiction.

Hitomi rushed over to Saki’s side when she saw that she was no longer near. The worry was still heavily plastered on her face unwilling or unable to be pulled away. The mystery that they faced only made it more difficult for Hitomi to be brought to ease. “What should we do, Saki? None of this makes sense. Saki?”

Saki had become cornered again through her thinking and Hitomi was not going to let her go until she gave some sort of answer, hopefully the right one. Unfortunately, there were no answers that she had come up with. The facts were too few to work with and they were cut off at every chance. They were left with little to nothing. ‘If only there was some way or someone that would listen and be able to get the answers for us. Heh…if it was that easy I wouldn’t be out here. Wait…that might be it…’ Saki knew someone that she could talk to that would get an answer for her that she could press for more than just a simple line. “We can talk to my dad. He’s a teacher at the school. So he should be able to get some answers for us.”

“Really? He’d help us?” A hopeful shine came across Hitomi from Saki offer. It seemed to brighten everything up in her features.

Saki nodded back to her. “Yup! It’s probably too late to find him at school, but I’ll talk to him when I get home. Alright?” The delay did not sit well with Hitomi and Saki picked up on it immediately. She thought quickly grabbing up her hands to console her. “I’ll call you after I talk to him. It’ll be alright.”

“Thank you, Saki. I’m sorry I’m causing you so much trouble.”

“It’s fine. Now let’s get back to the station before it gets too dark.” Saki started taking Hitomi along with her away from Takako’s house until she walked completely on her own. They slowly made their way through the narrow streets keeping the train station in their view as a marker. Saki was glad that Hitomi had calmed down, but feared what sort of answers she would get from her father.

Hitomi began to get ahead of Saki until she suddenly tripped over something that sent her to the ground roughly. She had managed to catch herself before it was too serious, but her palms were bruised. Saki rushed over to Hitomi’s side to help her up. “What did I hit?”

“Probably just a crack.”

“I think my leg’s caught...” Hitomi looked up at Saki and then back down to see what was holding her leg in place. There was a thick vine that had become tangled around her ankle. “My leg won’t…come free…” She pulled on her leg to break free, but the vine was stubborn. Saki helped her, but still did not make any progress. Saki went to the source and grabbed the vine trying to break it, but it grew spontaneously wrapping around her arm.

“My arm! It’s too strong…”

“Saki!” Hitomi screamed as more vines came up from the ground wrapped around Hitomi tying her to the ground. Fear and panic were quickly setting in for her trying to reach for Saki for help, but her free arm was immediately grabbed by the vines and pulled back.

“Hitomi! Agh!” Saki was caught up in the vines just as quickly, but managed to break her arm free snapping the vines. However, her victory was short as several even thicker vines than before grabbed her and tied her down to the street tightly. As she struggled to get free a purple flower grew from the vine around her neck. The flower bud grew to nearly half the size of her face before it stopped. It slowly opened itself facing towards her releasing pollen into her face that caused her to cough and feel lightheaded. “Hitomi…”

Before Saki lost consciousness she caught a shadowed figure staring down at her with a familiar circular badge shining on their left shoulder.

To be continued…

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  1. Leon's Avatar
    The next assassin is revealed to have a power over plants, making way for the next chapter as it is further explained what exactly happened to Saki.

    Just wanted to summarize things. ;p It was a good chapter.
  2. Andromeda's Avatar
    Yes, you can call him the Plant Assassin. It all makes for a really fun visual having plants everywhere and adds to the mystery.
  3. Leon's Avatar
    Vines, grass and perhaps roses everywhere. I've had different visuals thanks to the anime I watch ^^
  4. Andromeda's Avatar
    Well it is not a manga yet, so it is freely open to interpretation. There is a lot of green though for sure.