Hand healed and Safalin gone, you’re in a much lighter mood than you have been all day. Not much can ruin it now, seeing as there were literal death traps avoided. It’s a good feeling.
Waggling your fingers, you frown at the phantom pain that shoots through your arm. Ow. So you still feel pain despite being completely healed? What a rip-off.
Not like you expected anything less from Safalin's... medical treatment but still. After that traumatising event? Disappointing, really.
Plus, the conversation happening down the hall promises certain pain and destruction. You sigh, half tempted to go back to Safalin for painkillers and half tempted to just walk away from it all.
Still. It’s probably an important conversation, huh? And someone would probably drag you in sooner or later, so you might as well join in now.
Preparing yourself for imminent doom, you step inside.
“Big sis Yuko!” Gin bounds up to you, grabbing your hand (the one that wasn’t injured. thank god). “You’re okay now, meow?”
Curling your fingers around his paw, you swing your arm playfully, Gin’s following suit. “As well as I can be.” Slightly worse than that, truthfully speaking. But you're not complaining. “What’s going on here?”
“Well, y’know who Gonbee said he was big sis Reko’s brother?” This topic, huh. You nod. “That’s what they’re talking about, woof.”
You nearly hit yourself. No, not okay. Since Alice’s identity is revealed, he might just reveal Shin’s identity. In turn, those two idiots might reveal yours .
The light mood from earlier drops into a forcibly calmed panic. How do you go about this now?
“So Gonbee Yamada is actually Alice Yabusame?” Mishima pushes his glasses up. They haven’t noticed you. “And Alice Yabusame is… a murderer?”
“Yes,” Alice nods. His grip on his shirt tightens. “But Reko… didn’t wish to be associated with me, so I pretended to be someone else.”
( how many times have you seen it happen? how many times have you seen their relationship break further, seen Alice looking away in that self-deprecating way because of what happened?
it’s not Alice’s fault. it’s not. please don’t blame him, Reko.
you’re the one who should be blamed. you’re the one who made him do it.
please make peace with Alice. he deserves that much. he always has.
Some participants take a step back from Alice, sending him wary looks. Reko herself stands far away, arms folded across her chest, not even bothering to look at him. You frown.
Things are getting messy. Maybe you should try clearing it up.
Clearing your throat, you gain everyone’s attention. “Yo,” you greet. Alice’s eyes widen. “Why’re you ganging up on Gonbee like that?”
The first to move to your other side is Shin, who greets you with a fake smile of his own. “How’s your hand?”
“Peachy.” You sigh, cracking your fingers. “But Safalin was pretty ah, annoying. Also, you avoided my question.”
Nao blurts out her words instead before anyone can answer. “Did you know?”
You blink, eyes purposely not meeting Alice’s. “Um, know what exactly?” From beside you, Shin sighs, as if he expected this. Huh.
“That Go- Alice was hiding his identity.” Nao narrows her eyes at you, clearly distrusting. You can’t exactly fault her.
“Who’s to say?” Shrugging, you answer the artist’s question in a light tone. “Maybe I’ve seen him somewhere, like on the news. He used to play for Samurai Yaiba, yeah?”
Unfortunately, that’s not the right thing to say. After Nao comes Q-taro, whose posture tenses.
“How'd you know he was from that group?” So suspicious. While the daily dose of paranoia is fine, the game seems to have affected some for the worse. Too bad, you can’t win it all.
“It’s easy to piece together,” you reply dismissively. “The other Reko was a fake because she sang a Samurai Yaiba song, even though Reko swore to never sing one again. I’m sure Keiji figured it out too.”
Revealing information that they already know. Nice.
With that, suspicion of you is cleared. Q-taro still eyes you disbelievingly, but at least backs down. Nao merely stares. You don’t find yourself particularly caring.
Straightening your posture, you push down your tiredness to bring up a dainty smile. “What’s wrong with…” You hesitate. His name feels weird on your tongue, so long since you’ve spoken it out loud. “Alice being here? Aren’t we all in this together?”
“He’s a murderer, Yuko,” Reko states flatly. Smile in place, you blink back idly. The musician stares, sighing exasperatedly. “Do you really want a killer here in a Death Game?”
Alice’s eyes stare pointedly in the other direction. Poor boy.
“I don’t mind.” The prisoner’s head snaps to you, before looking down. You pretend to not notice. “He hasn’t done anything, nor has he gotten in our way. Isn’t it alright?”
“Yet,” Q-taro interjects. “He ain’t done anything yet, but he could.”
Wow, thanks so much for the support.
Pressing a hand to cover your eyes, you breathe deeply. Then exhale. “Alice was hiding his identity- he had a lot more chances to do something then. You really think he’d try something after you put your guard up?”
Keiji scrutinizes you. “Why are you defending him, Miss Yuko? Not even his own family is doing so.”
From behind, you watch as Alice stiffens before slumping, defeated. It’s a low blow and he knows it .
Letting go of Gin’s hand, you cross your arms over your lower rib cage. “That’s my decision, Keiji," you answer icily. “And he kept his word- he didn’t join in or disrupt us until Reko’s safety was at stake. You can’t fault someone for going against their word for that.”
Alice meets your eyes, half in disbelief and half in an emotion so gentle, you have to break away from his gaze.
( how laughable. to think someone would look at you that way ever again. he’s looking at you the same way they used to, before everything happened.
sometimes, you wish that they were still here. maybe you could have returned that emotion.
isn’t that funny? )
“Besides,” you start softly, knowing full well what could happen. “I... I trust him.”
And for the first time, you don’t lie about that.