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Requiem for a friend

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“Mooooom!” cried the young boy, fighting the few tears that threatened to appear in his eyes. He would not cry, not for this and not in front of his mother. “He bullied me first!”

“But did he deserve that?” a very angry Yako tapped her foot on the floor of the reception of the very expensive school her son was studying in, but that assured a strict program for hyperactive children like her son. Because he was half human-half demon the boy has been always special, different than his peers. Better reflexes, better body and a more intelligent mind. He had already skipped a grade and she was considering if skipping another one was a good idea or not.

But for now, she was more than pissed . Her son had used his powers for evil doing.

“Yeah! Totally!” the redhead screamed turning a few heads. The woman behind the desk, where Yako had signed the papers to get her son out of the building, was glaring at them for making such a fuss. “He stole my stuff and painted over my textbooks. He bullied me because I skipped a grade. It’s not fair!”

“But why did you not tell a grown-up about it? Any of your teachers? Or me and your father?” she crossed her arms trying to hide her smile thinking about what would Neuro do if his son told him that some kids were bullying him. As amusing as it could be, and satisfying, it was not a good example for her boy.

“Grown-ups only get in the way. My stupid teacher is useless!” the boy narrowed his golden eyes, tears pooling on them. He was trembling in fury.

Yako sighed, trying to think what to do in these situations.

“Karma, I know it’s frustrating, but you can’t just harm people that wronged you,” she smiled sadly, already feeling tired. “C’mon, let’s go home. I’ll make you some spicy food that you like so much.” The boy hesitated, clearly weighing if the food was worth it.

“I guess.”

She took his hand and they walked in silence to the car parked outside of the building. She hoped that she didn’t get a ticket as it was a prohibited zone. She didn’t usually do these things, but she was in hurry when the school called her at her office, telling her that her son was in trouble. She got on the driver’s side and Karma seated by her side.

“Hey,” she started, making the boy’s head turn around to her direction, “I’m not mad. That kid may have deserved what came to him, but what you did was wrong anyways.”

“I can’t see it that way,” the redhead diverted his eyes from her person. Yako sighed again, turning on the engine and driving home. There was no point in going to the office, as Neuro’s mysteries could wait for a little bit. And he was out anyways, doing some demon errands or something like that. He said that he was coming back at night.

“Alright. Do you know what ‘justice’ is, Karma?” she said in a cheerful voice, eyes on the road, trying to sound adult and be the adult now.

“I am not five years old, mom. I’m already eight,” he rolled his eyes. Yako choked back a sarcastic answer. Remember, you are the adult, Yako.

“Right. Well, what I mean is ‘what is justice in your life’? Justice could entail from saving a country to giving back a lost wallet without stealing the money. Do the right thing, be good. You follow me?”

The boy grunted. The mother bit her lip, searching for a new approach.

“I had a friend,” she whispered, stopping on a red light. Yako looked at her son, bathed in the red lights, almost like blood painting his face, and painful memories from so long ago came back to her mind. “His name was Sasazuka Eishi.”

“The police dude?” Karma asked as he had overheard some grown-ups’ conversations.

“How am I not surprised that you know that?” she smirked. This boy was just like his father. The light turned green and she gave her attention back to the road. “Well, he was my friend. He died before you were born.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” her son murmured still looking quite bored.

“He died… because he lost the sight of justice. He used his powers as a police inspector to harm people that… erm, bullied him,” she knew that her son was advanced for his age, but she was uncomfortable talking about murders in front of him.

“Really?” he asked, not buying it. “What happened? And don’t lie to me, mom.”

She bit her lip again. Neuro was brutal enough and the boy was pretty mature for his age...

“His family was killed.”

“Oh,” that caught the boy’s attention. His mother treated him like a child, something he loathed , and the fact that she was being sincere now was interesting.

“He spent the rest of his life full of anger, hating the people that murdered his family, searching for the culprit. He became a homicide’s inspector because of this very thing. Every day, every moment he could spare, he thought about what he would do when he had that person in front of him,” memories of Phantom Thief X and red boxes came back at full speed, almost making her lose her focus on driving the car. “Until one day, he found them.”

A tense silence fell upon the vehicle. The boy looking at the very serious face of his mother, listening to the tale; the woman diving back into old memories from a distant past.

“He lost it. His sense of justice, his carefulness, his life. He went on a vigilante-type hunt quest on his own, blinded by the memories of his family and the grudge inside of him. He didn’t tell anyone what he was going through.”

They arrived at the humble house they had bought when they came to America a few years before, when Karma was still a toddler. He grew up here with them, used to long absences due to his parent’s work as detectives for the government, but he was told that someday they would have to go back to Japan.

Yako parked inside the garage and killed the engine, a little frown on her face. Karma gulped.

“What… what happened?” he asked, his voice suddenly too loud on the dark and silent place.

“I watched him die. He was no further than a metre, and I could do nothing to prevent his death. The worst part was watching him realise his own mistake and smiling apologetically at me. It still haunts me.”

The boy extended his hand for her, barely touching her arm.

“He let his grudge lead him astray from the path of justice. If he had asked us or his colleagues from the police, anyone, we would have helped him form a better plan. Or an escape plan. Anything. But he didn’t,” the woman blinked the few tears that formed on her eyes and looked at her son. “I don’t want my son to suffer like him. Not letting go stuff, not talking about it to people, making justice by your own hands. That’s not justice, that’s throwing your life away.”

Karma pondered her words for a while, a spark of deep understanding on his eyes, before finally telling her:

“I understand, mom.”

Yako looked at him, a small smile on her face, hoping that her sad tale could really help her boy later in his life to be more just with the humans and not bully people with his abilities. Maybe one day he would have to teach this justice to someone else, maybe he would choose to do the right thing.

“Come here, Karma,” she opened her arms to hug him and leaned in to reach him better. The boy hugged her back.