[6th of September, 2740 AD; Beachside Hotel, Kun, Jiaikohn]
Gavin was not mad that he did not win the tournament. No, he was mad because Prince Amile continued to gloat as he progressed further than Gavin did. As it turned out, using a bow and arrow was indeed different than using a gun, which showed on the scoreboard as Gavin ended up posting the lowest point total of all the participants. The only good thing that Gavin could possibly take away from his loss was that at least Amile did not win either. Still, he thought that it would have been good to go up against Brook, who won the tournament. All Gavin could do now was reflect on it and try to do better next time, because he was sure that he would win.
“Cheer up, Gavvy,” Kiku said. “All that matters is that you had fun, right?”
“Easy for you to say, Miss Izumi,” Gavin replied. “I’m determined to avenge my loss, especially if it means telling that stupid prince to shove it!”
He sat at the restaurant table with Kiku, her bodyguards, Law, Sorin, and Gale. It was quite the feast that they had, with tons of food for everyone that came. If only Mina could see it, Gavin wondered to himself.
“I heard you really put on a show out there,” Law said. “If only I could’ve seen it, bro, because I really am glad that I didn’t go out there.”
“Keep it to yourself,” Gavin said.
“You did a lot better than I expected,” Sorin said. “That’s something to take away.”
“Oh sure, go ahead and rub more salt in the fucking wound,” Gavin replied. “I’d kick your ass, but I’m already too mad to care.”
“Let’s try and be more nice, okay,” Ayame said. “Madame, that bronze trophy is quite nice, isn’t it?”
Kiku looked down at the trophy by her chair. It was a small, bronze bowl with a flower painted on the inside. “Thank you, Aya.”
Ayame patted Kiku on the head. “You’re very welcome,” she replied. “Anyway, you put up a decent performance out there, Gavin. Perhaps it wasn’t the best, but for being the first Ameci to participate it was an admirable score.”
“The best foot was put forward by you,” Igor said. “Take pride in that.”
“So you mean I put my best foot forward?” Gavin asked. “It’s fine. What’s done is done, so I’m just going to move on from this.”
“Hey, at least we still have the bounty hunter job,” Law said.
“We didn’t even capture our target,” Gavin replied. “This trip was for nothing at all. How could that be good?”
“We got to see you again,” Gale answered. “By the way, where exactly did you go off to, Law?”
“Oh, that,” Law said. “I had to make a phone call.”
“If I had to guess, it would be Ayanna, right?” Sorin asked.
“You’re way too good at this,” Law replied. “There’s nothing wrong with checking up on the woman I love, is there?”
“I wasn’t saying that,” Sorin said.
“Of course you didn’t,” Law said, “I’m just saying it before anyone suggested something alternative from the reality. Huh, looks like we’ve got some company.”
Gavin sighed. “What are you even talking about?”
“Look right behind you, bro.”
He turned around and saw Amile and Amos standing by the table. Amos was carrying Amile’s silver trophy, a much larger bowl that had a white feather painted on the inside. Gavin and Law stood up and faced the two while the others looked at what was about to happen.
“Still feeling down, are you?” Amile asked. He laughed loud enough for other people to notice. “Think of it this way, bud: when the next Ameci decides to participate next year, they’ll do above and beyond what you’ve accomplished!”
“Good one,” Amos said.
Gavin rolled his eyes. “Is this what you’re going to do? Come out to our table and mock me?”
“It’s all in good fun,” Amile said. “Isn’t that right, Kiku-doll?”
Kiku put down her tea cup. “I bet you say that to all the girls, don’t you?”
“What can I say? I’m a handsome man,” Amile replied. “At least that’s what all the ladies tell me.”
“What they tell you, is it?” Law asked. “So, Prince Amile, how about I blow your mind for second?”
“Go right ahead,” Amile said.
Law chuckled. “That’s what I like to hear,” he said. “Anyway, I’m holding this really nice knife here… It’s quite remarkable, isn’t it?”
Everybody except for Amile looked at Law, but could see no knife in his hands. Gavin realized what his brother was trying to do, and kept quiet.
“Tell me, Prince Amile,” Law said, “Can you tell me what brand of knife it is that I’m holding?”
“Well, you’re going to have to let me hold it,” he replied. “That’s the best way to tell, after all.”
“Why don’t you just come out and say it?” Law asked. “You can’t see at all, can you? That’s why Amos is always by your side, isn’t it?”
Amile laughed as he pushed up his sunglasses. “What a funny joke,” he said. “If this is your definition of blowing my mind, then I’m quite impressed.”
“Brother, perhaps it’s best we go,” Amos said as he grabbed Amile’s hand.
“There it is,” Law said. “He’s leading you off again, just like he did before.”
“Is it really true?” Kiku asked. “I had no idea…”
“Looks like I have no other choice,” Amile said.
“You don’t have to answer them if you don’t want to,” Amos said. “We have to leave tomorrow anyway, so perhaps it’s for the best.”
“Amos, please,” Amile replied, “You need not continue to help for my sake. It’s as you say, Law Power: I am blind.”
“It’s quite impressive, to be honest,” Law said. “Now I really wished I could have seen the tournament for myself.”
“He cheated!” Gavin exclaimed. “It’s one-on-one out there, not one-on-two! How the hell did anyone let that fly!?”
“Hey, my brother didn’t do anything besides call out to me,” Amile said. “My ears are quite good, after all. All I did was determine where to shoot based on what I heard.”
“Besides, we already informed the officials in private prior to the tournament,” Amos said. “Clearly they did not have any problems, so I assume that you should have any either.”
“Sounds like you just wanted an excuse in case you lost,” Gavin said.
“No, I’m rather quite confident in my abilities, bud,” Amile replied. “I pray that should we meet next time, you’ll display the same confidence. Come along, dear Amos.”
He and Amos walked away from the table as Law sat back down. Gavin wanted to have the last word but he was not going to get it now, so he decided to sit down as well. All Gavin wanted was to head back to Rezar with his brother and get back to working again. He did not want to waste any more time thinking about Prince Amile, because it was meaningless.
“Now that that’s over, may I ask a question?” Igor asked.
Ayame leaned in. “What is it?”
“All this time I’ve been wondering to myself about Gavin,” Igor said. “I finally know why that is.”
“Got something to say, then?” Gavin asked.
“Well, looks like I ought to listen to this, too,” Law said. “Lay it on us, Iggy, because we have all night.”
“So, it seems like my father may have known yours,” Igor replied. “It was about twelve years ago during the war when the two crossed paths.”
Gavin crossed his arms. “That’s all you know?”
“If I know anything else, I suppose I’ll inform you,” Igor said.
“You’ll have to do a lot more than ‘suppose’ for us,” Law said. “Ivan’s a talented man in his own right, so for him to meet with my old man shouldn’t be a coincidence.”
Igor nodded. “Got it,” he said. “Next time we meet, I will tell you all that you want to know.”
“Oh, if only this night could never end,” Kiku said. “We’re all having the time of our lives and it’s all going to end tomorrow when you guys leave!”
“You should come visit us sometime,” Gale said. “Surely you can arrange a visit to Iiayikohn in the near future?”
“It’s a difficult task, considering mother,” Kiku replied, “But I am a free spirit and my desire to meet the lovely people of this world is quite high.”
“It’s also a dangerous world as well, Madame,” Ayame said, “We must not forget what had happened in Rezar only a few months ago.”
“True, it’s a risk stepping out into the open world,” Kiku said. “That’s all the more reason we should do it, Aya! If wonderful people like Gigi and Wilkie exist, then surely the rest of the world is just as good, too!”
Ayame rubbed Kiku’s back. “Igor and I will speak with Madame Yamazaki.”
“You promise?” Kiku asked.
“Of course we will, won’t we, Iggy?”
“Yes, yes we will, Ayame!” Igor replied. “We will talk to her about trotting this globe!”
“Thank you for that, Aya,” Kiku said. “How about a celebratory kiss?”
“I don’t see much harm with a peck on the cheek,” Ayame said.
The two closed in as Kiku planted her lips on Ayame’s right cheek. Ayame blushed for a moment as Kiku wrapped her arms around her, until finally Kiku had enough and pulled away.
“That was quite a display,” Ayame said. “If I knew you were going to do that, I would have been more hesitant…”
Kiku smiled. “Hehehe, I think I got a bit of your lips on that one,” she said. “Maybe next time I’ll get to have a complete kiss on the lips with you!”
“I guess that’s settled then,” Law said. “We’ve got a big trip tomorrow, bro; are you ready?”
“You don’t need to ask me that,” Gavin said.
“Watching you leave will be difficult,” Kiku said, “But I already know that I will see you all again, so there’s no reason to despair when I have hope.”
“Why not give us all something to remember you by for the time being?” Sorin asked.
“Yeah, how about giving all of us what you gave to lovely Ayame over there?” Law asked. “Of course, you can skip my bro since he doesn’t like that sort of stuff anyway.”
“Lawrence, learn to shut your mouth,” Gavin said.
“Sorry, but I can’t,” Kiku replied. “My kisses are only for Aya and my eventual special someone.”
“Too bad, Iggy,” Law said. “Looks like you’re missing out.”
“You should really stop calling me that,” Igor said.
“Oh don’t be such a spoilsport, Iggy!” Kiku said. “I think we’ve gotten past the formalities where we can all be considered friends. Lighten up!”
Igor sighed. “Not again…”
Everybody laughed, even Gavin, as the celebration continued into the night. He knew that they had to leave for Iiayikohn tomorrow, but Gavin enjoyed the time they were spending right now. It was the first time in a while that he felt like he had people he could rely on and he knew that Law probably felt the same way, too.
Inside his hotel room, Amile was talking with someone on the phone. He had to make the call after he received a telegram from Amos the day prior, in which it stated he had no choice to but make the call. Amos watched as his brother received the call and began to talk.
“Hello?” Amile asked.
The person on the other line answered and spoke in a low voice. “I assume that this is Prince Amile that I am speaking with?”
Amile clenched his fist as it started to shake. “That letter… did you send it?”
“Now Amile, calm yourself,” they replied. “You do know what will happen should you breach our trust?”
“Who are you!?”
“Brother, please quiet down,” Amos said. “We don’t want anyone to know, do we?”
“I’m… I’m sorry,” Amile said. “Please just tell me what you want.”
“It’s a simple job,” the person said. “This is the perfect task for someone like yourself to take care of, after all. The stakes just make it all the more better to get you to cooperate.”
“You’re just a bastard,” Amile replied. “A slimy bastard that toys with other people, aren’t you?”
“My, you’re fiery tonight. I guess you must not care about what happens,” they replied. “I could just hang up and watch you deal with the repercussions of your actions…”
“N-No, don’t you dare!” Amile said. “Just tell me what to do.”
“Glad to see you’ve come around,” the person said. “There is but one thing I want you to do, Prince Amile, but first tell me: you are alone, are you not?”
“Only my brother is with me,” Amile answered. “You can trust him not to tell a soul about this.”
“I’d hate for him to get involved, but if it’s as you say, then I can make an exception,” they said. “Are you ready?”
“Yes,” Amile said.
“Looks like I’ve made the right choice,” the person said. “Very well. Please listen carefully, because I am only going to say this once.”
To be continued…