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I almost screamed. “Yukio!” Tied up and unconscious, Yukio laid before me. I could barely move, but he was close enough for me to sit beside him and bring his head onto my lap. From what I could tell, he was unharmed. “Oh, my god, Yukio!” I turned my angry attention to Fiennes. “What did you do to him?”
“Nothing that hasn’t happened to everyone else,” he explained calmly. “If I release you, do you promise not to run away?”
“I’m not going to paint Yukio for you!” I instantly rejected. “I already said I’d join you if you stopped taking victims.”
“Yes, but that was after the fact, my dear. Lucky for you, we have all the time in the world. Take your time with your new subject.”
“Then end up like Haruka!” he shouted, his voice overpowering mine. When he saw the fear in my eyes, he smirked. “Oh, yes, Levi said the exact same thing when I told him to paint his lover. They were so cute, but I couldn’t afford to lose such an unstable variable like Levi. He did as he was told, but only after some…motivation.”
My eyes grew wide, my heart skipping a beat as I pieced everything together at last. “You…you killed Haruka?”
“And it worked. Now that Levi had nothing holding him back, he was mine to control. With him gone, though, I no longer have to worry about it.”
“You…you can’t make me do it!” Instantly, Fiennes revealed a gun and held it over Yukio, finger already on the trigger. “No, wait!”
“Do as you’re told or lose everything. Keep in mind, Saige, I can dispose of you just as easily. You already know too much. Oh, if only you kept to yourself a bit more. It was so easy getting away with everything when you weren’t paying attention.”
My breath froze in my chest. I couldn't do that to Yukio, but…I couldn’t let him die. If I refused, then we’d both die, simple as that. If I agreed…would Yukio ever forgive me? Would he ever need to know?
That was the question burning most inside me. I turned to Fiennes. “Will he ever find out?” I whimpered. Seeing my submission, he shook his head.
“He’ll be like all the others. Granted, after today, it would be best if you kept your interactions to a minimal. Once we head off to New York, there will be no reason for you two to speak again regardless.”
I looked back down to Yukio, tears swelling in my eyes. What was I going to do? Was I really going to throw everything away just like that? There was little choice if I wanted to live. Fiennes’s words rattled off in my mind again. ‘Getting away with everything was easy when I wasn’t paying attention’.
Wasn’t that my whole problem? Not paying attention, not caring enough, but also not wanting to let other people see that? Following that, wasn’t my desire to be involved at all just to distract myself from the obvious problem?
Everything Levi had said to me only one day prior was absolutely true, and there was no one who could tell me otherwise. What I lacked in self-confidence, I made up for in deceit and selfishness. I held Yukio close to me, realizing he was the only one who bothered to understand and never said an ill word against me. He told me I was trying…wasn’t that enough?
I started to cry, knowing what I had to do. I couldn’t let him die, but I also knew the scars I was about to leave on him would be everlasting. I glanced up to Fiennes and nodded my head, confirming my approval. He smiled widely in that sickening way only a monster like him could.
He took Yukio from my grasp and set him to the side. He removed a key from his pocket and fiddled with my chains for a few moments before setting me free. I rubbed my wrists, not realizing how much they had hurt mere moments ago.
“Alright, then,” he said with pure amusement. “Shall we get started?” I stood up and stepped away from where he began to set up Yukio. I watched in shame, knowing I couldn’t stop him. I had to convince myself that it was for Yukio’s safety; that his life was hanging in the balance. And so long as I did as I was told, he would be okay. Hopefully, one day, he would forgive me.
Then, before Fiennes could attach him to the chains, Yukio woke up and kicked Fiennes, sending him to the ground. In pain, Fiennes sank to the ground. Yukio caught sight of me and rushed over.
“Saige!” Hands still tied, he rose his arms up and then lowered them around me, bringing me in for a close hug.
“Yukio? How are you---?”
“Come on!” He didn’t hesitate, pulling me into the closest painting he could find. It was, to say the least, a tight squeeze, but we managed to get inside. We were still in that darkened room, but in a different time. Though there were fewer paintings, there were enough there to know it was fairly recent. The victim in this room was fast asleep and a girl I did not recognize.