Chapter Three: Pisces and Aquarius
The next morning, I busily worked at my computer, my fingers tapping away on the keyboard as I typed up emails and filled out police reports. The memory of last night`s skirmish with Isaiah Akane was still fresh and burning in my mind. I sipped my coffee, trying to distract myself from it. Isaiah got away, and now God only knew where he was. Who was he? Why was he doing all this? Was he really tied to Arcadia? I didn`t know, and I had spent most of the night wracking my brain to try to figure it out. No luck.
As per usual, I yawned loudly, dark bags hanging beneath my eyes. I hung my head, seconds away from dozing off at my desk. Then, my drifting was shattered by a familiar, bellowing shout.
And no, for once, it wasn`t Rintarou. Detective Jarvis`s voice echoed down the hall. "CHIIIZUUURRUUUU!"
Of course, his roaring sent me running to his office as fast as I could. I ran inside and jumped into the chair in front of his desk. I stared at him and gulped. He looked like he was about to go postal. "Uhh...what can I do for you, Sir?" I chuckled, scratching the back of my neck. Jarvis`s irate expression remained. "What in the name of God where you doing with Officer Natsuki last night?"
Oh, crap, I thought. I`m in trouble. "Well...you see...Rintarou and I decided to investigate that suicide yesterday. When I examined the victim`s body, I noticed she had traces of an Esper`s aura. I checked out the Blue Whale forum she visited before she died, and through my genius deductive reasoning skills, I was able to figure out that she was in fact murdered by an Esper named Isaiah Akane, whose ability is the power of brainwashing and hypnotism. I confronted him because I wanted to take him into custody, but...it didn`t quite turn out that way."
Jarvis still looked mental. "And who gave you the authority to do that, Officer Mashiro?! Because as far as I know, I never gave you that task, and you are certainly not qualified enough to be taking on a dangerous job like that!" I crossed my arms. "Then who is, Detective? Seriously, who? These Arcadia murders have been going on for what, a year now? And not a single one of them has been solved. We haven`t even figured anything out about Arcadia itself. I think this Isaiah Akane has something to do with it. He talked like he was involved with it somehow. He`s dangerous, he had to be caught before he killed anyone else."
"But you didn`t catch him, did you?" Jarvis asked. "You almost got yourself killed in the process too. Look, just...stop being so reckless. This is way out of your league. I made a promise to Charlie that I`d watch over you until you were capable enough to handle yourself on your own. I know you don`t want to hear this, but I`m just not seeing that right now. You`re a patrol officer, not an undercover cop or a homicide detective. You`re not qualified to handle that position yet."
"Then when will I be?!" I snapped, my eyes gleaming red. I couldn`t control my outburst. "I became a police officer to enforce justice, protect the innocent, and punish the guilty, not to write traffic tickets all day to raise money for the city! With my power, I know I can do so much more! Why can`t you see that, Detective?" Jarvis sighed. "I can see that. I can see it very well. That`s what worries me. You remind me of myself when I was your age. You`ve got strong ideals, Chizuru. You also have incredible power. I don`t think you understand what you`re getting into. Last night should have been a dose of reality. The world is a dangerous place, and I`m afraid you`re not going to realize that until something horrible happens. By the way...where is Natsuki? Weren`t you supposed to be keeping an eye on him?"
As those words left his lips, a gigantic crash echoed from outside. I slumped back in my chair, rolling my eyes. "Oh no, not again." I rushed out into the parking lot of the station, running straight into a war zone. The first thing I witnessed once I left the doors was Rintarou gripping a portly, punkish young man by his collar. Blood dripped down his face. "How dare you insult an officer of the law?!" Rintarou bellowed. "Do I look like a butler to you!? You`ve got some nerve, you piece of trash!"
He lifted the man above his head and whirled him around like a pinwheel, then tossed him into a nearby fence. Rintarou growled, brushing off his uniform. "Pff...so annoying." He glared at a few other people in the parking lot. "So, who else wants to screw with me? Any takers? I`m in the mood to beat some ass." Unsurprisingly, the people surrounding him dispersed rather quickly.
Great. Just what I needed. I ran up to the blonde and squeezed his wrist. "What do you think you`re doing!? Did you see a crime being committed?!"
"That dirtbag was insulting me," Rintarou grumbled. "He called me a butler, and acted like I was some kinda British fruitcake or something!"
"That wasn`t my question!" I said. "Did you see a crime being committed!?" He sighed, realizing his error. "No, I did not. But how else am I supposed to react when people act like that?"
I facepalmed. "Well, you don`t beat them half to death! See, this is why you don`t have any friends! Anyone you come across, three seconds later, you`re trying to kill them!" The blonde scoffed. "What do you think this is, nursery school? I`m here to make money, not friends. I have to eat, you know. And on that hot topic...I`ve decided what case we`re gonna be handling next."
He reached into his vest and handed me a manila envelope. I took out its contents. "Another murder?" Rintarou nodded. "Yeah, except this one`s different. When they did the autopsy, they found the victim`s lungs filled with water." I squinted. "Water? So he drowned, then?"
"That`s the cause of death they determined," Rintarou replied. "Weird thing is, he wasn`t anywhere near water when he died. Not a pool, a bathtub, or even a sink. He was found lying dead on his living room floor. Now, this is a special case for us, `cause the victim was a Texas congressman. So I can imagine the Capital`s gonna be crawlin` up the boss`s rear end if this doesn`t get figured out."
I flitted through the pictures. "Drowning without water? Seems suspicious to me. Maybe Isaiah Akane`s at it again. He`s still out there, you know. Or it could be Arcadia. A political figure seems like someone they would target." As I searched the pictures, I came across a peculiar one- a photo of an empty drinking glass, tipped over. Drips of water were splattered on the floor.
"Maybe he was near water after all. There`s an empty glass here, but it`s knocked over. Not only that, but there`s water drips on the ground, so it must have been filled at some point."
Rintarou glanced over my shoulder. "What, you think he drowned in his own water glass? Even for you, this is an all-new crazy. Far-fetched, much?" I shook my head. "Maybe not." Back at the office, I logged onto the Houston Esper Database and began my search. "You think an Esper killed him?" Rintarou inquired. "Well, it wouldn`t be the first time," I answered. "Years ago, I remember Charlie telling me about a rare type of Esper, with the power of aquakinesis, the ability to manipulate water and other liquids with their minds. It`s a very rare ability, almost as rare as Isaiah`s. I can`t even control water with my telekinesis."
I searched up the Espers by ability, and only one in all of Houston came up as an aquakinetic. A thin, pale young man with spiky dark-blue hair and golden eyes. "Takumi Tanaka," I read.
"19 years old, ability, aquakinesis. He lives in an apartment complex in the Heights." Rintarou scoffed at his picture. "Seriously? That kid is so tiny, I could throw his scrawny ass across Texas." I stood up. "Appearances are a bad way to judge an Esper. You of all people should know that. So, let`s go pay this Takumi Tanaka fellow a visit."
Our trip to the Houston Heights took us to a pretty crummy part of town. Vagrants and other suspicious, unsavory-looking individuals wandered the streets. Piles of trash were pushed up against fences like snowdrifts. The address listed on Takumi`s profile led us to a shambled apartment complex. I honestly wouldn`t be surprised if people were selling drugs in the hallways. "What a dump," Rintarou grumbled. "Every one of these people look like they could use an ass-kicking." I rolled my eyes. "Please don`t. Jarvis already chewed me out this morning for what happened last night, I really don`t want to get another earful."
I approached Takumi`s apartment and knocked on the door. "Harris County Police Department. We have a few questions for you." Silence. No one answered. Rintarou stepped foward and grabbed the doorknob. "You better open this door, or I`m tearing it down!" That got things moving. The door opened a crack, and a golden eye peeked out. "Who...who are you people? You`re not here to...abduct me...are you? I know them...they come for me every night..."
Yup. A total nutbag. "We`re not here to abduct you," I said. "We`re the Harris County Police Department, and we`d like to ask you some questions involving a recent murder. We just need some information. Can we come in?" The door opened, revealing the skinny, blue-haired young man, the only aquakinetic in all of Texas. I didn`t doubt it, his Esper aura immediately flooded my senses, but his overwhelming aura didn`t match up with his appearance. "I`m...Takumi Tanaka," he said. "Come in."
Rintarou and I flashed our badges. "Thank you. I am Officer Chizuru Mashiro, and this is my partner, Officer Rintarou Natsuki." The blonde growled at him. He flinched. "You`re...both Espers."
I glanced around his apartment. His shelves were cluttered with books, DVD`s, anime figures, video games, and other nerdy paraphernalia. He must have been one of those shut-in otaku gamer types
that make love to a body pillow of their favorite anime girl. Okay, maybe that was a rather broad generalization. I noticed a figure of a familiar character on his shelf. Maybe if I talked about something easy first, I could loosen him up a bit.
"That`s Prim Megami, isn`t it? From that book?" Takumi nodded. "Yes, she`s from Clockwork Destiny. You like Erika Levette`s work? She`s my favorite author. I`ve been trying to collect everything related to her novels. I`m still waiting for Crimson Fairy to come out. You know, the last installment of Broken Sweetheart? She`s got it on hiatus. I even put a preorder on the new Star Queen figure. It`s going to be pretty expensive, though."
I kind of lost him there. "Yeah, we get it, you`re a nerd," Rintarou butted in. "We`re not here to talk about that. We`re here to talk about the murder that happened yesterday. A congressman was found dead in his living room, and the determined cause of death was drowning. Since you`re an aquakinetic, please explain how one drowns without being anywhere near water." Takumi seized up. So much for taking this one step at a time. "What, you think because I`m the only aquakinetic in the city means I`m automatically the one who did it? I`m not a murderer!"
"Listen, no one is accusing you of anything," I assured him. "But from what we`ve seen, the only thing he could have possibly drowned on would be the water in a drinking glass we saw tipped over on the floor. We just want to know the truth so we can catch the person who did it. Takumi, has anything strange happened to you recently? Anything unusual? We`re Espers too, you don`t have to worry about being feared for your power. You can tell us anything."
Takumi swallowed hard. "Well...the thing is, I never really leave the house. I`m not good with people. I`m studying at the Houston Community College, but I don`t go all that often. Being around people just...makes me feel nervous. I`d rather be here instead, at least it`s safe. Or...that`s what I thought, anyway. Until I met...him. He told me about all sorts of horrible things, like Espers exterminating humans and taking over the world so we could be the new dominant species. The whole time, he kept going on about some patriotic bullcrap. Scared me to death. That man...he changed me. After that...I just lost it. I lost the will to fight. It was like he stole my soul. I started having bad dreams, really bad. Dreams where people died because of my power. I haven`t left this room since then. I just can`t take it...I don`t know what`s happening to me..."
Worry bubbled in my mind. He was describing an awful, yet familiar feeling. "Takumi, can you tell me what this man looked like? Do you know his name?" Takumi remained silent for a moment. Then, he answered. "He had black hair. He was an Esper, just like me. I could feel it. He was very tall, and he wore a long coat. But his name...he never told me." Rintarou and I exchanged a nervous glance. This was not good.
I had to make a decision. Obviously Isaiah Akane had touched this young man somehow. Takumi was in danger if I just left him alone here, especially if he was indeed the one responsible for the congressman`s assassination by water. "Well...Takumi, we`ve heard of several crimes involving this man you speak of. We have good reason to believe you could be in danger. We`d like to take you into custody, until we can determine that it`s safe for you to return home. From what you`ve described, this man is most likely Isaiah Akane. We don`t know much about him, but we believe he could be involved with Arcadia. Not only that, but as an Esper, he has the ability to brainwash others into doing his bidding. Just a couple days ago, he hypnotized a woman into jumping off a building. If we leave you alone here, he might come back for you. I would also like to ask you some more questions as a witness."
Takumi`s golden eyes were huge. It seemed as if he knew exactly what I was talking about. He nodded slowly. "I...I understand. It just seems like I`m losing my mind...I don`t even know what`s real anymore...please, protect me!" I gave him a weak smile. "Don`t worry, we`re the police. We`re here to protect you."
Later that evening, we took Takumi Tanaka back to the station. "Looks like it`s time for the interrogation," I said. "You sure you don`t need me to help?" Rintarou asked. "If that punk doesn`t talk, I can always go for the Yellow Pages interrogation. Works every time." I rolled my eyes. "No, I do not need you to beat the crap out of him with a phonebook. He seems to trust me somewhat, but you keep looking at him like you`re about to disembowel him. We won`t get any substantial information from him if you`re there."
He punched the wall, creating a huge gouge in the sheetrock. "What`s that supposed to mean?!" I ignored him. "I`m going in. You`re paying for that, you know." I entered the interrogation chamber and sat down at a desk across from the blue-haired young man. "Oh...it`s you, Officer Mashiro."
"Chizuru is fine," I said. "Now, I`d like to ask you a few things. First of all...why do you always lock yourself up in your apartment? Is it just because you`re afraid of Isaiah?" Takumi shook his head. "It`s not just that...I`ve been like that for years now. It happened back when I was in middle school. At the time, my aquakinesis was out of control. It was a summer day...I was at the pool, and this kid was messing with me. He was trying to start a fight with me, I think."
"Then...my power just started acting on its own. I couldn`t contol it at all. My mind went black, my eyes burned red, and I caught the kid in a huge sphere of water I pulled out of the pool with my mind. I just held him there, even when he was squirming and choking. I was trying to drown him. And I would have done it, if my mom hadn`t come in to stop me. She snapped me out of it, and I dropped the kid, but he almost drowned. After that...everyone at school was afraid of me. They called me a mutant and a freak. Even my parents looked at me like I wasn`t their child anymore.
I couldn`t take it...so I dropped out of school and closed myself off. I thought that if I stayed away from everyone else, then they wouldn`t be afraid of me, and they wouldn`t hate me...but I was wrong."
My jaw nearly hit the desk. I didn`t want to believe he could have murdered the congressman, but the more I heard from him, the more I thought otherwise. Takumi looked like he was on the brink of bursting into tears. "Chizuru...can I tell you something? Can you keep it a secret?"
"Of course," I replied. "We are Espers, we are one and the same. You can tell me anything." Takumi spoke. "Last night...I had a nightmare. I didn`t know where I was, but it was a stranger`s house. Someone was talking to me. Like a voice, in my head. He was telling me to kill 'that person.' I said no, I said I didn`t want to do that, but he forced me. I couldn`t fight back. I felt like a doll...or a puppet."
"This man appeared in front of me and...I killed him. There was water nearby...so I shoved it down his throat. He thrashed and choked, but I couldn`t stop. It felt just like what happened to me at the pool. I...drowned him. Then...I woke up in my apartment. At first, I thought it was just a bad dream, but...I noticed my clothes were wet. After you told me about the murder, that`s when I realized...that dream was real. I killed that man...but it wasn`t my fault! I couldn`t stop it...I couldn`t do anything!"
I gasped as he pounced on me, wrapping his arms around my small body. The chair nearly tipped over. Takumi might not have been the biggest man around, but he was bigger than me. He sobbed into my shoulder. "Chizuru...please...if they arrest me, they`ll ship me off to a lab to be dissected! I don`t want to die!" Tears welled up in my eyes. I slowly lifted my arms, wrapping them around his broad shoulders. I ran my fingers through his spiky blue hair. "It`s okay, Takumi. It`s not your fault. I won`t let anything happen to you, I promise."
We separated, and I left the room, about to start crying. I went back to the lobby, plopping down in a seat next to Rintarou. He busily licked a blue popsicle. "So, what happened? I heard crying in there. Did you take my advice about the Yellow Pages?" I shook my head. "He just admitted to the murder. But it really wasn`t his fault. Isaiah obviously brainwashed him to do it against his will. Anyone with half a brain can see that. But how can we convince Jarvis and the judges not to lock him up? If Takumi does get arrested, they`ll take him to the Esper Research Institute, and the scientists there will torture him and perform experiments on him until he dies. I don`t know what to do..."
Rintarou devoured his popsicle, twirling the stick between his fingers before he snapped it in half. "Well, no one said this job was gonna be easy. You can`t let him walk just because you feel sorry for him. That`s not how this works. I mean, he is a pathetic kid, I didn`t think he`d do something like that on his own, but I doubt the judges are gonna see it that way. I can`t answer this kinda stuff. I`m no lawyer, I`m just a 23 year-old shmuck who can`t even order lunch at McDonald`s without having everyone in the restaurant running away. If you saw the looks on their faces, you`d think I was gonna eat them."
I leaned back in my seat, staring up at the TV mounted on the wall in the corner. It played a report on the local news about some masked maniac that allegedly murdered a family of Espers.
What was going on in this city? It seemed like everything was just falling apart. Not only that, but they also mentioned something else about a total solar eclipse occurring sometime next month. Apparently it was a rare event that happened once every hundred years or something. Maybe it was a sign of the end times.
Just then, a scream pierced through the halls. I leapt from my perch and ran in the direction of the noise, like a predator catching the scent of blood. "Chizuru, wait!" Rintarou shouted, pursuing me. I burst into the interrogation room. It was empty. Takumi was gone. The only people there were a few officers that seemed like they had tried to subdue him, but were now lying unconscious on the floor. Puddles of water spread across the tile. I realized the water came from a tipped-over watercooler. I pressed my fingers against one of the officers` necks, feeling a pulse. "He`s still alive. We have to find Takumi. I think Isaiah`s caught him again."
"Better get moving, then," Rintarou snarled. "I can smell that punk from here." Rintarou and I rushed out of the police station, scanning for Esper aura. Nothing. My heart pounded in my chest. "How are we going to find him? He could have gone anywhere." Rintarou shrugged. "Well, his power only works when he`s near water, right? He couldn`t have gotten that far. You know any place around here with large bodies of water?"
My eyes lit up. "Wait, there`s Discovery Green! You know, the park behind the convention center? It`s got a big pond, it`s the closest place he could have gone!" Rintarou and I took off, racing across the moonlit streets to reach Discovery Green. While Downtown Houston wasn`t the safest place to be running around in at night, thieves the least of our worries. After a ten-minute sprint, we bolted into Discovery Green, only to be greeted by a cyclone of water shooting up from the park`s center.
I drew my tranquilizer pistol. "Yup, that`s him." Rintarou tore a lightpole from the concrete with ease. Just a word of advice: if signs, lightpoles, or other large objects keep disappearing from your streets, it`s probably because Rintarou ripped it out and used it as a bludgeoning weapon. Don`t be surprised if your tax rates go up too. It wasn`t like he didn`t have a gun, he did, but he just chose not to use it. With our weapons in tow, we ran to the center of the park, skidding to a stop.
Streams of water shot up from the nearby pond like a synchronized performance. And the conductor of this aquatic show was none other than Takumi Tanaka. "Takumi, stop it!" I snapped.
He glanced over his shoulder, a hollow gaze in his red eyes. It was as if his soul had been sucked from his body. "GO AWAY!" he bellowed. He swung his arm, sending a blade of water careening toward us. We leapt out of the water`s path as it cut through the bushes, even mowing down a tree in the process. I aimed my tranquilizer pistol at his neck and squeezed the trigger. The dart flew from the muzzle, but it never struck its target. Takumi guarded himself with a wall of water. "I won`t die!" he roared. "I won`t let them kill me!"
Meanwhile, Rintarou was pissed. I mean, like really pissed. "You done talking, dead man?!" He charged at Takumi like a raging bull, smacking him with the lightpole he wielded. The impact created a shockwave that propelled Takumi into the pond. Seconds later, he rose from the water, twirling his hands in a rhythmic fashion. Slithering serpents composed of water erupted from the pond and shot at Rintarou, wrapping around his body. They lifted him into the air, then threw him back down into the concrete, leaving a crater behind.
At the same time, I fired several darts at him, but each and every one of my projectiles were knocked away by Takumi`s water dragons. "Stop this, please!" I begged. "Takumi, listen to me! This isn`t you, you`re being controlled! Snap out of it! You have to break free! Listen to my voice, Takumi!" He wasn`t listening. One of the watery serpents lunged for me, its jaws wide open. With split-second timing, I holstered my tranquilizer and whipped out my real Colt 1911, pumping a bullet into the creature. It exploded on contact, causing a surge of water to splash down on me, drenching my uniform.
I kept shooting the water dragons, but for every one I destroyed, three more took its place. I aimed Takumi in my sights. I contemplated shooting him. I knew if I shot him, this would stop, but it would kill him as well. My hands shook. I couldn`t make myself pull the trigger. I remembered him in the interrogation room, crying and hugging me. This was not Takumi. My mental fortitude melted. I couldn`t do it.
My indecision soon proved deadly. A pair of water serpents rushed at me from the sides. I locked up. There was nowhere to go. I couldn`t react fast enough. The dragons swallowed me whole, trapping me within a churning sphere of water. I held my breath as the sphere spun, knocking me back and forth within the watery confines. All I could see were spinning, distorted images of the blue-haired young man. I wanted to scream at him to stop, but my breath was stuck in my lungs. No amount of thrashing could break me free. My breath ran thin. I couldn`t keep this up much longer.
The water sphere spun even faster. I felt like I was trapped in a washing machine. With one hard, harsh lurch, the stale air was knocked from my lungs. My mouth jerked open, causing my remaining breath to escape in a swarm of skittering bubbles. I inhaled a mouthful of water. I flailed about, clawing at my throat. Water flooded my lungs. I had to do something- fast, before I drowned.
I stretched my eyelids as wide as possible. An icepick-like pain stabbed into my brain, causing my green eyes to burn crimson. I thrust my arms to my sides, using my telekinesis to make the watery death trap burst like a bubble. Once I was free, I crashed to the ground, the impact forcing the water from my lungs. I sucked in gulps of air. While I laid on the ground, drenched, Rintarou made his comeback. His clothes were soaked as well, indicating that he had probably been caught by Takumi`s water serpents too. He clenched his teeth, his gaze blood-red. "You little punk...you tried to drown us both. That means you were trying to kill us, right? So that means whatever I do to you now...is what you deserve, right!?"
He snatched up his makeshift lightpost weapon and jumped, leaping over 20 feet into the air. He looked as if he were flying. He soared past Takumi`s water traps and slammed him with the pole, launching the blue-haired teenager into the concrete. The strike was powerful enough to create a sonic boom. The ground shook as Takumi slammed into the pavement. Rintarou gracefully landed on his feet, like a cat. He pinned Takumi to the ground with just one hand. Rage seethed through him. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn`t snap you in half," he rumbled.
Finally, it seemed as if the spell had been broken. Takumi`s eyes returned to their original state, and once he witnessed the blonde monster towering over him, he threw himself into a fit of thrashing and screaming. "It...it wasn`t me!" he squealed. "Let me go!"
An echoing laugh tainted the nighttime air. I spun around. A pair of blood-red eyes shone in the nearby trees. Before I could even do as much as gasp, the apparition vanished. I knew it.
He was the one who did this. I turned back to the squirming Takumi. Right now, it was best if we just put him out for tonight. I pressed the muzzle of my tranquilizer gun into his neck, squeezing the trigger. The dart pricked him, rendering him unconscious in a matter of seconds.
Rintarou stood up. "So, what are we gonna do with him now? We could just drag him back to the station and let the others handle him." I shook my head. "We can`t do that. They`ll kill him if we give him up." Rintarou scowled. "Are you kidding me? He almost killed us both. If it wasn`t for your telekinesis, he would have drowned us. How can you feel sorry for him?"
"It`s not his fault," I protested. "Isaiah`s been brainwashing him. I can sense his aura all over Takumi`s body. Didn`t you see those red eyes? I know of a place we can take him. Follow me."
We arrived at the Broken Heroes Cafe, the bells hanging from the door jingling as we entered. Thankfully, no one else was in the restaurant. Charlie was organizing plates behind the counter. "Sorry, we`re closed now- wait, Chizuru? What`s going on here? Who is that?" He approached the unconscious Takumi, who hung limply in Rintarou`s arms. "His name is Takumi Tanaka," I explained. "He`s an Esper, and I need you to help me protect him. Can you keep him here for a while?" The bearded redhead squinted. "He in some kind of trouble?"
"Yeah, he is," Rintarou replied. "He was framed. Look, we just need a place to hide him `til the heat dies down. Can you do that or not?" Charlie paused for a moment. "I...I guess I can help the kid out. Help him get a new identity, disappear, all that stuff. It`s not like I ain`t done it before. But you`re responsible for this, you hear? Last thing I need is some bullcrap coming back to me." Rintarou placed Takumi on the counter. "Don`t worry, no one`s gonna know about this."
Charlie regarded us with concerned eyes. "This isn`t something cops should be doing, you know. I don`t know what this kid got framed for, but you`re breaking some serious laws here by not turning him in. If your superiors find out about this, you`re good as dead. You know that, right?"
Charlie was right, but I couldn`t bear to watch Takumi suffer for something he was forced to do against his will. It might have been a huge risk to my career and even my life, but it was a chance I was willing to take. I looked Charlie right in the eye. "I understand. I`ll take responsibility for everything." The redhead`s serious glare remained. "Then it`s on the house, Chizuru."