Play 25: The Mysterious Liquid

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I hugged myself, trying to warm up despite the cold.

After the twins' meeting, I was beginning to sleep better, but I would still worry about the things that had nothing to do with me. I kept telling myself that I wasn't one of them, but I couldn't stop my mind from fretting too much.

I had a bad feeling about Sanan's case though. I tried to brush it off as thinking too much, but the feeling always came back everytime I saw Sanan's eyes. They looked...cold. Determined. As if he would do anything to make his arm work again.

I glanced at Yuri's claw in my hand and sighed. Giving it to him was no use too. According to the two Byakko twins, the claw's magic would not work on injuries. I tightened my grip on the claw, feeling its sharp edge piercing me slightly.

I turned to stare at my wardrobe, which I had stuffed the pile of papers I'd found in the Yukimuras'. There were some information in them about medicine, but I didn't exactly understand them. After all, I was never a science person.

As night fell, I got out of my quiet room and decided to take a secret stroll. I headed towards the Maekawa house, which I had never been before, and shuddered in the cold air. My breath escaped me visibly as I sighed slightly, rubbing my arms for some warmth. I was about to leave for a warmer place when Souji appeared.

I froze in my tracks, my mind suddenly blank. "Evening, Souji..."

"Good evening, Jun. What are you up to?" The smirk that he always showed wasn't teasing like before. "I hope you aren't trying to escape."

I quickly shook my head. "No, I was just...I couldn't sleep." I realized that we were the only ones in the area, and gulped nervously, a slight blush creeping up to my cheeks.

Souji folded his arms, still smiling. "Really. All right, fine. I mean, what would you do out there by yourself anyway?"

My head snapped up to glare at him. "Are you looking down on me? Well, don't worry about that, because I have—" I closed my big mouth immediately when I knew how close I had been exposing the twins. I cleared my throat awkwardly. "A sword!" I pulled out the short sword at my waist and shoved it into his face. After a moment of silence, I felt my cheeks burning from embarrassment.

Souji chuckled softly. "Well, whatever you're doing, you should knock it off. Kids shouldn't be playing around in the middle of the night."

"Kids!? I'm not a kid! And I'm not playing around either!" I gritted my teeth, my heart throbbing painfully. I frowned at that. Could it be that I had some heart problems? Yuri's claw didn't seem to be working well.

"Well, if you see something scary, just make sure you scream right away, all right?" Souji's eyes were serious. "Don't try and deal with it yourself, okay? You understand what I'm saying?" My heart skipped a beat at his 'concern', and I shivered, glancing around our surroundings warily.

"I don't think there's anything scarier than the Shinsengumi..." I murmured under my breath.

Souji smiled, his previous seriousness gone. "Oh you know, like a nightmare, or a ghost or something. Or hey, who knows? You might run into our commander, the Demon!"

I couldn't help but to shudder at that. "Don't curse me. Even if I do see something scary..." I felt goosebumps rising on my skin, and gulped loudly. "Maybe I'll consider calling you. I should probably go now..." I turned, ready to charge back into my room.

"Good girl. I'll just go finish patrolling the inner courtyard then."

"Good night!" I said without thinking as I quickened my steps back to my room before pausing. Was Souji supposed to patrol around the Maekawa and Yagi house? I thought he seemed like he was waiting for someone...or something. I shook uncontrollably at the thought of that and decided to go and have a drink of water before I returned to my room.

Somehow, I got lost because of how different the place looked at night. I didn't step out my room this late before too. I ended up in the common room, and was grateful that I should be able to find my way back. I was about to turn to go to the kitchen when I heard someone stepping into the room. I stopped immediately and literally jumped into the shadows to hide from the person.

"Sanan?" I whispered so quietly he couldn't hear me. What was he doing this late? I thought that he had retired back to his room even earlier than us. I pondered on whether I should walk up to him or continue to hide when he turned slightly. The moonlight shone into the common room, and I could see him smiling at me.

"I never thought that it would be you who would catch me. How unexpected." Sanan looked strange. It was as if...he was at peace. As if he had found all solutions to his problems.

Something in his hand caught my eye, and I pointed at it. "What is that?"

He held the small glass bottle up to my eye level and shook it a little so that the red liquid inside splashed around. "This is a secret treatment developed by your father, Koudou-san, under orders from the shogunate."

I hesitated a while, frowning. Wait, father...Koudou... "Secret treatment? What do you mean?" The bad feeling in my chest was back, the same as before whenever I thought of Sanan's injury.

"They say it first appeared in the west. The contents of this tiny vial can utterly transform a person." Seeing my confused look, he continued. "To put it simply, it makes them stronger, and heightens their recuperative abilities."

Suddenly I felt like I was in the movie where science would ruin everything. "Is it...that good?"

"There is, however, a rather serious flaw." Sanan's gentle smile didn't reassure me at all. "It was...I suppose you could say it was too strong. It worked as advertised, but drove those who benefitted from it mad." His eyes narrowed knowingly. "You've seen the results yourself, have you?"

I felt my blood ran cold. He had to be talking about the night I first met the Shinsengumi, when I met those insane men. But if the effects were so harmful, why did the men take it? Why did Yukimura Koudou make this devilish liquid?

My head was bursting with questions, but one of them stood out from the others. I feared the answer to the questions, but I still asked him anyway.

"Sanan-san," I started. "If such an evil invention existed, why is it in your hands now? What are you planning to do with it?"

He didn't reply me, but his smile widened kindly. I knew what he was going to do with it then.

Sanan was going to devour that evil solution, and soon he would be like those bloodthirsty lunatics, never a trace of Sanan to be seen ever again.

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