“Heading home?” asked Yuuji.
Rin looked behind her and saw the young chef garbed in winter attire. She released the doorknob and faced him.
“Yeah. Looks like you’re done for the day too.”
“Just got out of the dressing room. Wanna walk together ‘til the station?”
“We’re heading in the same direction, so it would be weird if we didn’t walk together.”
“Well, you know, you might not want a certain someone to misunderstand.”
“You mean Ageha? Unfortunately, I don’t think he’d bat an eyelid.” Rin smiled sadly.
He has much bigger problems right now.
I hope they’re okay.
“You’re selling yourself short. You’re beautiful and dependable. There’s no way he wouldn’t notice that,” he said with a consoling tone.
“Flattery won’t get you anywhere.”
Yuuji made a surprised face and blushed a little. “No, I- I didn’t mean it like that! I didn’t intend to-”
“I’m kidding, relax.” Rin giggled.
So this is how Ageha feels when he leads me by the nose.
She remembered having a similar conversation with Ageha before, only she had played the dominant role this time.
Yuuji slightly slumped his shoulders.
“Let’s go then,” said Rin.
It was snowing outside. There was no wind, so the snowflakes gently floated down all around them. Rin flipped up her coat’s hood as they headed towards the station.
“Do you often walk home with Shikimi-san like this?” asked Yuuji.
“I wouldn’t say often. Only when our shifts end at the same time.”
“Have you tried waiting for him?”
“No, that would be the same as admitting I like him.”
“Maybe, but he probably already knows how you feel anyway.”
Rin was shocked. “Really!? Did he say something!?”
“No. It’s obvious from the way you act around him. I don’t think he’s that dense.”
Rin made a troubled face.
“Why are you frowning?” he asked.
“Who wouldn’t? I’ve been trying to keep it a secret, but apparently I’m the only one in the dark about everything.”
“But that’s a good thing.”
“…What do you mean?”
“He already knows how you feel but doesn’t distance himself from you. Chances are, he likes you too.”
“You did say something like that before.”
“And I meant it.”
“…Why are you trying so hard to get us together?”
“I’m not exactly trying hard, but I do want you to be happy.”
Rin recalled Yuuji’s confession and realized he was doing it for her sake. He had also comforted her earlier in the day when they had spoken about their own helplessness.
“You’re a nice guy.”
Those were her true feelings.
Yuuji blushed. “Thanks.” He smiled as if her words meant the world to him.
They continued chatting about Ageha until they reached the station.
“I’m over here,” she said.
“Huh? Me too.”
“What a coincidence.”
They walked to the platform together and boarded the same train. The cabin was full of people, so they hardly spoke to each other during the entire ride. The crowd had slightly thinned out by the time they reached Rin’s stop, the Kichijoji station. She stepped out of the train and turned to wave goodbye to Yuuji, but she found him standing beside her.
“We lived in the same neighborhood!?” she asked.
“I’m just as surprised as you are. You never mentioned where you lived.”
“I rent an apartment near the commercial district.”
“Wow, that must be expensive.”
“It is, but I love this area. I’ve been hanging out here since college.”
“It’s a fun place, for sure.”
Rin nodded happily. “Thanks for everything today, Yuuji. I’m going this way.”
“I’ll walk you to your apartment.”
“I’ll be fine. My place is just a few blocks away.”
“That means it won’t take much time at all.” He smiled.
Rin considered declining, but she was having a lot of fun chatting with the young man. It somehow alleviated her pent-up anxiety, so she decided to take him up on his offer.
“Okay, as long as you promise not to do anything weird,” she said with an impish smile.
“O-Of course not!” He looked completely serious as he waved his hands in front of him.
She enjoyed how easy to tease Yuuji was. Her interaction with him was completely different than between her and Ageha. Being in control had its own unique appeal.
They walked the streets alongside each other. Christmas decors were abundantly displayed in the numerous establishments near the station. Holiday tunes played loudly on large speakers, and restaurants advertised special date meals for the event.
“Any plans for tomorrow?” asked Yuuji.
“What!?” He looked genuinely surprised.
“What do you mean ‘what?’”
“It’s Christmas eve!”
“Yeah, which means I’ll have to work overtime. Sapore is always extremely busy on christmas eve. Didn’t the cucina come up with a special menu?”
“Yes, but it was mostly the head chef who worked on it since Shikimi-san’s on leave. Any idea when he’ll be back?”
“That means you guys aren’t going on a date, either.”
“How could we? We’re not even going out yet.”
“Seems you’ve gotten more confident,” he said with a smile.
Not knowing what he meant, she tilted her head.
Yuuji seemed to have caught on to her unvoiced question and answered, “You said, ‘We’re not even going out yet.’”
Rin blushed furiously. “You’re the one planting weird ideas in my head!”
“I just gave my opinion! Sorry!” Yuuji frantically raised both of his hands in front of him in order to calm Rin down.
Rin had only pretended to be angry, but he seemed to have interpreted it as truth.
“No, I’m not really angry. Don’t apologize.” She made a wry smile.
“Whew, I thought I stepped on a landmine.”
“Do I look like a minefield to you?”
“Well, Shikimi-san did mention how you physically abuse him.”
“He specifically advised me to not stand beside you and to be wary of your elbow strike. At first I thought he was warning me to keep my hands off you, but the fear in his eyes looked real.”
So that’s why Yuuji kept an odd distance from me the entire trip!
What are you teaching this kid, Ageha!?
She had completely forgotten that Yuuji was older than her.
Rin looked down and said, “That’s completely… mostly… occasionally… not true…”
“That didn’t sound very convincing,” he said as he stepped away from her a little bit.
She sighed and hung her head.
Soon after, they arrived at Rin’s apartment.
“This is my place. Thanks for walking me home, Yuuji.” She flashed her practiced smile.
“No problem. I had a great time chatting with you.”
Yuuji suddenly sneezed into his elbow.
It is pretty cold tonight.
And Kai’s not there anymore, so it should be okay.
“Wanna have some tea inside before you go?” she asked.
“It’d be polite to decline here, but that would be a great help. I’m pretty bad with cold weather.” Yuuji shivered as he hugged himself.
Then don’t walk me to my apartment when it’s this cold out!
She did not want to chastise him for being a good person, so she scolded him in silence.
They took an elevator to the third floor and headed to Rin’s apartment. Rin slid her card key in the door lock and opened the door.
Something covered her nose and mouth before she could finish her invitation, and her consciousness quickly faded.
“Awake at last,” said Jin.
Rin stirred and slowly opened her eyes. She seemed confused as she looked around her room.
“Do you understand the current situation?”
Rin tried to answer but could not because she was gagged. She shook her head as drool dripped down the corners of her lips.
“You’ve been abducted. I say that, but as you can see, we’re still in your apartment. Anyway, I’m here to get information on Ageha from you.”
Rin’s eyes widened in shock. She then shook her head repeatedly.
“You look like you can’t believe this is happening. Didn’t he warn you about how dangerous a game you’re playing?”
Rin started struggling, but her limbs were firmly bound to her chair with many layers of packing tape.
“It’s no use. You won’t be getting up from that chair unless I let you, and the only way for that to happen is for you to give me useful information about Ageha and Kaika Nikaidou. Their location, future plans, those types of things.”
Rin glared at Jin.
Oh, how scary.
He laughed tauntingly at her display of defiance. “Looks like you don’t understand your role in this.”
He slapped her in the face with his full power. Rin emitted a stifled yelp. Blood started dripping from her nose and stained her pants. Her cheek immediately reddened and became slightly swollen. Despite that, Rin raised her head and glared at him once again.
Why does everyone like that bastard so much?
“I’m going to remove the gag so you can answer my questions.” He pulled out a large knife. “If you so much as speak loudly, I’ll slit your throat. I’m very bad at grunt work, so I can’t guarantee I won’t accidentally kill you if you try anything funny.” He sneered at her as he removed her gag. “Where are they?”
“…I don’t know.”
“You seem to be telling the truth. Okay, next question. Do you know how to find them?”
“Now that one,” he said while snickering, “was a lie.”
Rin’s eyebrows furrowed as her eyelids snapped open.
“What’s so surprising? You think someone who tricked you all this time can’t even tell when an amateur is lying? Seeing through lies is child’s play for any decent con artist, and I’m more than decent.”
“Who are you? Why are you doing this?”
“I’m the one asking questions here, but I guess you do deserve to know why you’re in this mess.”
“I’m in this mess because of you.”
“Now, now.” He wagged his index finger. “You shouldn’t blame people like that. If you wanna point fingers, you should aim at Ageha.”
“That’s rich, coming from a hired thug!”
“Your voice is getting a little loud there, missy.” Jin flashed his blade in front of her face.
Rin, reflexively shutting her eyes, leaned her head away from the knife.
“And for your information, I’m not doing this for money. Didn’t I say this is all Ageha’s fault? You’re trapped here because I want to take revenge against that asshole.”
“Remember the story I told you about my two best friends? Ageha’s one of them.”
“He went crazy after his first love Airi and I became a couple. He attacked both of us, broke my arm, and smashed my face. And this was when we were thirteen!” Jin laughed hysterically as if his entire story was a gag.
Then his smile vanished completely.
“I will get my revenge.” He glowered at Rin. His eyes looked like deep black voids.
Rin turned her head to the side and said, “You’re lying, or you deserved it.”
Jin slapped her again, this time using the back of his hand. His knuckles caused a large bruise to start forming on her face.
“You seem to be underestimating me quite a bit, Rin.”
“Can you blame me? You’re acting like a third-rate hoodlum.”
Let me educate you then.
Jin grabbed Rin’s chin and made her face him. “About Airi dying, that was true too. She was scared of Ageha and refused to help me get revenge, so I conned her family for all its worth. She killed herself after I told her it was all her fault.”
Jin was obsessed with vengeance. He had even attended culinary school in order to best Ageha somehow but had been kicked out due to lack of talent. After that, he decided to play to his strengths and ventured into the world of swindling.
“I’m willing to do anything to destroy Ageha. Do you really want to know how far I can go?” A maniacal grin spread across Jin’s face.
Rin tried to look away again, but Jin grabbed her by the hair and stopped her.
“How can I find him?” he asked.
“I said I don’t know!” Tears dripped down her swollen cheeks.
“No, you do know. I can see it in your face. I can hear it in your voice. I can feel it in your breathing. You’re thinking about it right now.” Jin’s eyes widened as he stared into Rin’s.
Rin remained silent.
“Looks like we’re doing this the hard way. This isn’t my specialty, but you gave me no choice.”
His hesitation was fake. He did not mind Rin’s stubbornness in the least. It gave him an excuse to mutilate one of Ageha’s “possessions.” He had cornered Airi until she committed suicide for the same reason.
Jin gagged Rin again and left the room. Minutes later, he returned with a pair of pliers in his hand.
Muffled screams filled Rin’s apartment. The soundproofing her expensive apartment boasted had backfired in an unimaginable way.
Using his pliers, Yuuji had just ripped off the nail on her left ring finger.
She looked at her bleeding hand and struggled to get free. However, the multiple layers of tape binding her would not budge. It felt as if she was glued to the chair.
“Two down. I’d rather this not take all night, but if I have to pull out all your nails, I will.” He smiled gently at her.
Rin kept crying during the torture. She gasped for air as she tried to deal with the excruciating pain. Blood and spit dribbled down her chin and neck, staining her clothes.
“Have you changed your mind?” asked Yuuji with a raised eyebrow.
I can’t tell him no matter what.
He was right. She did know of a way to find Ageha and Kaika. Kaika had given her a contact number to use in case of emergency. It was supposedly untraceable according to the freeloading prodigy, but a means of contact could be used a number of ways. It could even be employed to trick Ageha into revealing his location.
I have to protect him..!
So she shook her head.
“That’s too bad.” Yuuji sighed. “Now I have to disinfect one more finger. We don’t want any nasty germs getting in there, do we?”
He soaked a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol until it was grey and fully saturated. He then roughly squeezed it while grinding it against the wound on Rin’s bloody finger.
“What was that? I didn’t hear you.”
Rin coughed as she choked from her own saliva.
“Oh well, on to the next one.”
Rin considered telling him everything she knew. The temptation was tremendous, but she gritted her teeth and bore with the pain.
An image of Ageha’s confident smile surfaced in her mind. She imagined how she would feel if that smile turned into a scornful scowl due to her betrayal.
There’s no way I can survive that.
Her illusionary pain exceeded her current torture. She repeated this deliberation process and reached the same conclusion five more times.
“I’ve gotta be honest. I’m impressed. Only three fingers left, and you’re still not talking.”
Contrary to his words, Yuuji did not look fazed at all. He appeared to be genuinely enjoying her anguish.
“I wonder if you considered what losing nails means to you.”
Rin looked at him in confusion. Yes, it was painful, but he was disinfecting the wounds, so infection was not an issue. What else could there be aside from that? Was it not enough already? Could she endure any more?
“It seems you’ve forgotten completely. Aren’t you a cameriera?”
Reality struck her. Her career required skill but fundamentally relied on appearance. No guest of a fine dining restaurant would want their server to have disgusting nailless fingers. It would be impossible to hide when she placed dishes and glasses on the table. Yuuji had likely thought of this when he had chosen this method of torture. He was robbing her of her future.
Rin had somehow held on because she believed that she would be able to live through this ordeal. However, her “reward” for surviving this abuse, returning to her everyday life, had begun to seem worthless.
Will they grow back?
She had never lost a nail before and had no idea if they would grow back after being torn off like that. Dread enveloped her heart as she considered losing her job, something she took pride in and loved second only to family and friends.
But that was exactly her job’s value. It was only second to her loved ones. Protecting Ageha and Kaika took priority no matter how gut-wrenching losing her passion was.
Her mind was so addled by pain that the idea of wearing gloves had not occurred to her.
Rin endured until all her fingernails were gone. She fainted from the pain and fatigue not long after.
She heard Ageha’s voice.
Is this a dream?
She did not question the reality of the torture. The anguish was so deeply ingrained in her memory that she was certain it truly happened. What she doubted was the voice she just heard.
She slowly opened her eyes and tried to wake her mind from slumber. The lights were turned off, and the room was pitch dark.
It was Ageha’s voice. She had absolute confidence that she would not mistake it. A surge of hope washed over her heart.
Forgetting that Ageha being there also meant he was in danger, she desperately screamed into the gag and pulled on her bindings.
Where are you!?
I can’t see you!
“Rin. Rin. Rin. Rin. Rin. Rin.”
She fell into confusion after hearing Ageha say her name many times in succession.
The lights turned on and illuminated her living room. Yuuji, holding a mobile terminal in his hand, was standing a few feet away from her. Ageha’s voice continued to play from the device.
Yuuji’s face contorted into a derisive grin. “Did you think he came to save you?” He broke into laughter. “As if that’ll happen! No one even knows you’re missing! Did you forget that you’re at home?”
I… I thought…
I thought it was over…
Her relief from just moments ago swiftly transformed into despair. She felt as if her heart had caved in. She began crying like a child.
“Oops. I hope I didn’t go too far and break you. I still need your info.”
I can’t do this anymore…
Please just kill me.
Despite losing hope, betraying Ageha did not occur to her. Agony had befuddled her brain, so the logical choice of saving herself by sacrificing him escaped her.
Yuuji removed her gag and asked, “Are you ready to talk now?”
His question caused her to stop crying. She recalled a way to get out of this. All she needed to do was give Kaika’s contact number to Yuuji, and she would be set free.
Seeing her reflection on the standing mirror in her living room caused her to pause. She recalled someone else that had shown the same resigned, soulless expression.
Could she betray someone who had just suffered such a great loss?
I can’t do something like that.
“I will never betray them,” she said with finality.
Yuuji raised both hands in the air. “I surrender. You win. If you won’t break, then all I can do is let you go.” He dropped his hands to his sides. “Did you really think I would say that?”
Rin inhaled deeply in order to unleash a loud scream, but Yuuji instantly saw through her plan and muffled her mouth with his hand. Taking the chance, Rin bit his palm with all she had, but before she could tear through his flesh, he punched her jaw with his free hand. Her world spun from the impact. Yuuji immediately gagged her again.
“You fucking bitch!” he cursed as he cleaned his wounded palm. He used the alcohol and cotton balls to wipe away the blood and saliva.
After he finished treating himself, he turned to Rin, who had regained some of her resistance.
“If pain won’t work, let’s try the opposite.” He had a perverted leer on his face as he walked towards Rin.
Rin’s defiant attitude quickly evaporated as fear ran through her body.
Anything but that..!
But contrary to what she expected, Yuuji had not removed any of his clothing.
“Unfortunately, I can’t do you because you’re taped up like that. I’m no athlete, so holding you down as I fuck you isn’t an option.”
Even so, Rin had expected him to force her to swallow his member or something similar, but she then realized that she would have instantly bitten it off. He had probably thought the same and abstained.
She was about to sigh in relief, but then Yuuji moved behind her and started feeling up her chest.
Desperate to escape his touch, she squirmed in the chair, her ponytail flailing about. He ignored her silent protests and stuck his hand between her legs.
His touch was experienced and uncharacteristically gentle. He stroked through her panties at first but eventually made direct contact. A few moments later, Yuuji removed his fingers from their nook and wiped the sticky liquid covering them on Rin’s face.
“Every girl that falls for that cretin is a whore. Getting wet from being touched by the guy torturing you? Just how much of a slut are you?”
Rin wanted to die. She did not feel an ounce of desire for Yuuji nor his touch, but her body was saying otherwise. She felt an intense heat rise from her loins and a dampness between her thighs.
Yuuji returned to work, pleasuring his captive.
What’s happening to me?
Why does this feel so good!?
Her breathing grew rough from lust. She hated the man behind her, but her body betrayed her and longed for his caress.
Stop burning up!
Stop getting wet!
Why won’t my body listen to me!?
Her pride torn apart, Rin cried incessantly as her skin flushed with desire. She felt mortified when her hips began to chase after his fingers as they periodically pulled out of her crevasse.
“Time to finish you off.” Yuuji moved faster and rougher.
Her mind gradually blanked out until everything was dyed white. She stopped breathing, and her body jerked several times as waves of pleasure coming from her core reached the tips of her fingers and toes. Her tensed spine eventually slackened as she slowly rolled down from the peak of gratification.
A sagely enlightenment graced her mind. It made her fully realize what had just transpired.
He… made me…
He made me…
This bastard made me..!!!
And it was the best climax in her entire life.
Her soul let loose a soundless scream. She bit into the gag until her gums bled. Her wounded fingers dug into the chair as she tried to express her vexation in any way she could.
“Why’re you getting all worked up? We’ve only just begun,” said Yuuji with a refreshed look on his face.
Rin’s eyes lost focus. She felt like her heart had stopped beating. She hoped that time had stopped as well, but Yuji’s renewed fondling crushed that dream before she could even try to delude herself.
“This is in the way.”
Jin pulled on her brassiere straps and cut them with his knife. After ripping off her underwear, he diligently resumed his task.
Rin tasted the most humiliation she had ever experienced six times that night, each time more shameful and pleasurable than the last.
She had become an empty shell of herself by the time Yuuji grew tired of playing with her. She did not care about anything anymore. After being betrayed by herself, loyalty towards other people was far removed from her psyche.
Yuuji took off her gag. Rin’s head hung loosely, so he placed his hand on her cheek and raised her face. “Now talk.”
However, she was so jaded that she could not even understand his words, much less speak anymore.
Yuuji clicked his tongue. “Looks like I overdid it. Hmm… Seems this method is too effective for someone with a lot of pride.” He opened his bag and took out a vial and an injector. “No choice, I’ll just use this.”
Rin dazedly looked at the thing in Yuuji’s hand.
“Curious?” he asked. “This is a truth serum. I could’ve used it from the start, but that would’ve ruined all the fun.” He chuckled.
Anger cleared her clouded mind.
After doing all that to me solely for his enjoyment..!
In that moment, Rin learned what it meant to truly hate someone.
Yuuji injected the serum into Rin’s arm. It did not take long before it took effect. Rin’s face relaxed completely, and her expression looked almost euphoric.
“Can you find Ageha?”
Rin had lost control of her thoughts and actions.
“…Kai’s conthact… nhumba.”
A victorious smile appeared on Yuuji’s face. “What is it?”
Rin started enumerating the numbers that Kaika had told her before. She had memorized it and intentionally not recorded it anywhere in fear of a copy being stolen.
Deep within the recesses of her mind, Rin was fighting the influence of the drug. The drug also had the side effect of making her relive memories in a dreamlike state. The strong emotions triggered by her memories with Ageha and Kaika allowed her to regain some semblance of control. She managed to hold her tongue before saying the last number.
“I whill… not… betrayhh…”
But it was too late.
“You already did. It’ll only take ten tries, probably less, to get hold of Kaika Nikaidou. Maybe I’ll be lucky and get it on the first one?” He laughed in a carefree manner.
I… betrayed them.
After I tried so hard…
After he did all that to me…
Light disappeared from her world.