Disclaimer- Go back to the first chapter for that (though if you are six chapters into this fic and honestly think that I own Gravitation, then you probably need to get checked for recent head trauma).
Chapter Six: Past and Future
Written by A Girl Named Goo
"You owe me big," Hiro muttered, stirring his coffee and taking a large gulp of it.
Shuichi was taken off guard. He was the one who had to take the bus that morning because someone didn't pick him up and bring him to work like he usually did, and he was the one that owed Hiro? But by the look of Hiro's rumpled clothing, the dark circles under his eyes, and his loose and messy hair, Shuichi had already deduced he had a good reason. And by Hiro's bad mood, he was willing to guess that it wasn't something pleasant.
"Okay, I give up," Shuichi said at last, taking a drink of his soda (he'd never cared for the taste of coffee). "What'd I do?"
"It's your fault I have to work with Chen Quon Yue," Hiro accused, as if this explained all.
"Hiro, I'm sorry, but it's not my fault! Seguchi-san hates me, but he promised Yuki he'd leave me alone. Going after my friends is his way of getting revenge. I'll talk to Yuki about it, but he doesn't like you all that much, either."
"That's not what I meant," Hiro muttered, sitting at the table and taking a bite out of a plain glazed doughnut from the box in the center of the table that Shuichi had brought with him. Shuichi was already half-finished with his own strawberry frosted. "Chen Quon Yue is your biggest fan."
"Excuse me?" Shuichi asked around a mouthful of pastry.
"You are to Chen Quon Yue as Sakuma Ryuuichi was to you. He doesn't model himself after you exactly, but you're the one who made him want to sing in the first place, and you're the one that made him want to get signed onto this label. Therefore I am blaming you for me having to work with him," Hiro further clarified. "He informed me of that last night while we were stuck here with no heat and no electricity. I got two hours of sleep collectively all night. I don't know how the hell he did it, but he's all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. He's up in the studio with his session band and Kyousei Himeko recording a few tracks. As soon as I wake up a bit more I'm going to ask Seguchi-san for a day off. Last night had better count as overtime..."
Shuichi suddenly gave Hiro a one-armed embrace. "Poor, poor Hiro. Forced to spend the night in a cold, dark building with an evil Chinese man..."
"As much as I appreciate your sympathy, at the moment what I really need is sleep," Hiro told Shuichi, though he wrapped his arms around his smaller best friend. "Do you know if Seguchi-san is in a meeting or anything right now?"
Shuichi backed away from Hiro and looked up at the clock. "As a matter of fact, he is. He and Amai have been fighting all morning. I have never seen her so pissed."
"Shit," Hiro said softly. Then he noticed something out of the corner of his eye and turned around with a start. Standing between two vending machines was a tall man with neatly cropped dark hair, wearing a black suit (complete with black shirt and tie) and donning dark sunglasses, holding a black briefcase. In his right ear was what appeared to be a barely noticeable speaker. In contrast to all the black he looked quite pale, though not as pale as Chen Quon Yue.
Shuichi also noticed the man, but he didn't seem at all startled. He looked at Hiro, who was recovering from his scare, and smiled. "Hiro, this is Rosuto Koji, Amai's new manager. And Rosuto-san, this is Nakano Hiroshi, Amai's old manager before he was reassigned."
Hiro didn't comment on the odd name¹. He just offered his hand, which the man ignored as he placed his briefcase on the table and opened it, making sure it was at such an angle that Hiro and Shuichi couldn't see what was inside.
"Nakano Hiroshi," Koji said at last, his accent distinctly un-Japanese. "Preferred name: Hiro. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. Dropped out of school your twelfth year after nearly graduating top in your class. Formed Bad Luck around roughly the same time. You are thirty-five years old, your birthdate is August eighth, your height is one hundred seventy eight centimeters, your weight is sixty-two kilograms, your blood type is B, you have a genius IQ of one hundred sixty five, with the band Bad Luck you sold collectively more than twelve million albums, having released seven albums during your eleven-year career. You were briefly engaged to Kaiyou Ayaka, formerly Usami Ayaka, now married to Kaiyou Katsuhiro and living in the lower end of the district with her husband and five children. Had a brief romance with keyboardist Fujisaki Suguru who moved to Los Angeles and recently New York where sources tell me he has problems with drug abuse, namely cocaine and heroin. You are currently renting a storage facility on the west side of the district, contents of which is a motorcycle and three guitars. Interesting, as you live on the eastern end of the district. You were also recently billed by Seguchi Touma for one new carpet- white- and one new table- oak- and will probably be billed by him for the three vending machines you vandalized with Chen Quon Yue last night at approximately twenty-three thirty² while stuck here in a snowstorm. Don't worry; if he doesn't ask I won't tell."
Rosuto Koji closed his briefcase, nodded curtly, then took a grape-jelly filled doughnut out of the box in the center of the table.
"How the hell do you know all that?" Hiro asked with both anger and amazement.
Koji swallowed the mouthful of doughnut he was chewing on and smiled slightly. "If the need to know is strong enough, you can find out just about anything."
"And you had a strong need to know about my life?"
"I have a strong need to know about everything. Good day, Nakano-san. Shindou-san, Amai is still preoccupied with her father so take your time. And I believe Tokui was last last seen in rehearsal room three."
With that, Rosuto Koji disappeared from the room.
"I really want to see Seguchi-san's hiring policy," Hiro said after a few seconds. Then he turned to Shuichi. "Aren't you supposed to be watching Tokui?"
"Yuki fired his tutor and is having him do independent study, and he feels bad about something he did last night so today we agreed that as long as he doesn't leave the building and meets me in the rehearsal room where we usually meet with Amai then he can wander about unsupervised."
"I see..." Hiro said, finishing his doughnut and coffee. "Hey, you want to meet someone?"
"Who?" Shuichi asked.
"A couple of someones, really. I had to meet your new manager, so it's only fair that you meet my new producer and act. Besides, if Seguchi-san and Amai are going at it then they probably won't be done for a while. What is wrong with them now, anyway?"
Shuichi sighed. "Last night Seguchi-san called Mr. K and Sakuma-san and told them to come as soon as possible and bring Alex with them. I guess Fujisaki is with them so they are bringing him with them so Seguchi-san can check him into a rehab center. But Seguchi-san's main goal was to get Alex, Saki, and Amai in the same room and put them on the spot so they have to agree to Neo Grasper. Fortunately Amai doesn't blame me for discussing the idea with her father in the first place- I honestly didn't think he'd get this excited about the idea- but now Amai is majorly pissed at him."
"I can't say I really blame her. She likes to have control of a situation. Just like Seguchi-san. If she is backed into a corner she comes out fighting like a wildcat, and I know that she's a little more short-tempered and verbal than Seguchi-san is."
Hiro pressed the button on the elevator, waiting for it to open. He looked down at Shuichi, noticed there was some strawberry frosting on the corner of his mouth, and reached down and wiped it off, licking it off his finger without giving it a second thought.
"Thanks, mother," Shuichi said tauntingly, before noticing Hiro eating it off his finger, causing him to blush slightly and face the floor. The elevator opened, and two people climbed out before Hiro and Shuichi could get in. Hiro pressed the button that took them to the third floor and leaned against the wall.
"There are days I wish I had listened to my parents and gone to medical school," Hiro muttered, rubbing his temples.
Shuichi slipped his arm around his best friend. "My poor, poor Hiro. I think you would have made a good doctor."
"Well, when we were kids we certainly enjoyed playing doctor enough. Though most of the time you were the doctor and I was the patient," Hiro muttered, though he wrapped an arm around Shuichi's shoulders.
Shuichi giggled. "And people wonder how we ended up gay...."
"You're gay. I'm bisexual. If a good looking woman crosses my path I still stop to admire the view. Though your mother and my parents were more than a little suspicious when we were sixteen and still having sleepovers where we shared a bed."
"I like to keep my Hiro close," Shuichi said, beaming up at Hiro.
"I'm yours now? You have to make up your mind. You can't have both me and Yuki. I don't think Yuki wants to share you, and I know I don't."
"You've always been mine. And I've always been yours. But you give me to Yuki, and I give you to....whoever you want, as soon as you find someone."
"Sounds like a good deal," Hiro said softly as the elevator door opened, though in all actuality it didn't sound good to him. While his rational half was screaming not to think about it because it could never work, it was currently being conquered by the half of him that could only fixate on the small man pressed against him and how wonderful it felt to have him that close.
Hiro stepped out of the elevator, Shuichi still clinging to him, and pushed open the door to the recording studio. Kyousei Himeko was standing on one side of the glass behind the sound technicians who were busy operating the mixing boards and other sensitive equipment. On the other side was a large assortment of session musicians: a guitarist, a bass player, a drummer, two keyboard players, and even a trumpet player and a violinist. Standing in the center of the session band was Chen Quon Yue, hair still loose and somewhat greasy from not having been washed that day, his vest failing to conceal the blood stains on his white T-shirt.
But what both Hiro and Shuichi noticed first were his eyes.
Hiro was amazed he hadn't seen it while recording the previous day. They were narrowed in concentration, sweat pouring down his face as he forced each word out with a passion that made both men think of only one thing, and that one thing was confirmed by the blue-violet his eyes had turned as he sang out each verse, each chorus, each bridge: whatever possessed Sakuma Ryuuichi while he sang had to be possessing Chen Quon Yue right now.
Hiro and Shuichi stood silently next to Himeko as he finished the track. The music faded out, and the musicians slumped over tiredly.
"Get up, you lazy asses!" Quon Yue ordered, his eyes shifting from blue-violet to bright blue, breaking the spell on Hiro and Shuichi. "That's only one! We have to keep going!"
Hiro knocked on the glass separating the soundproof recording area and the mixing area. Quon Yue looked over at the glass, then walked over to the door, stepping out of the area and over to Hiro.
"Mr. Suit!" Quon Yue said with what sounded like sincere surprise. "I thought for sure you'd stuck me with the producer chick and left, since you didn't sleep at all last night."
"And you did?" Hiro asked skeptically.
Quon Yue stretched. "I've slept in worse places. At least this was indoors and the heat kicked in at about four. So, you rang?"
Hiro nodded. "Shuichi, this is Chen Quon Yue, and right behind him is Kyousei Himeko. Kyousei-san, Chen, this is Shindou Shuichi."
Shuichi shook hands with Himeko, who noticed his absent right arm and smiled sympathetically, making Hiro want to groan. He then offered his hand to Quon Yue, who was standing speechless only a few feet away from him. Quon Yue started to extend his left hand, noticed the dried blood and scabs all over it, and quickly hid it behind his back.
"I-It's an honor to m-meet you, sir," Quon Yue choked out.
Hiro raised an eyebrow, seeing Quon Yue's nervous expression. His eyes had turned almost white now, making his defective left one all the more obvious, but a blush was crawling over his face.
Shuichi giggled. "Hiro told me you were a fan, so I just had to meet you. By the way, you sounded great in there. You reminded me of Sakuma Ryuuichi for a bit."
"Th-thank you, sir," Quon Yue replied too quickly. He looked down at the floor. "I mean, I'm not nearly as good as you, but-"
"You're better. Trust me. Sakuma Ryuuichi was better than I could ever hope to be, and I think in there you were taken over by whatever spirit takes him over when he sings. You even had the same eyes!"
"That means a lot coming from you, sir," Quon Yue said sincerely, nodding.
"Chen, if you're about done, Shuichi needs to get to work downstairs and we need to discuss something in the rehearsal room," Hiro interrupted.
"Yes, of course," Quon Yue agreed. "He must be a very busy man. I mean, he's Shindou Shuichi, after all, and-"
"Nice to meet you, Chen-san!" Shuichi said brightly, taking Quon Yue's previously hidden left hand and shaking it. "I look forward to hearing your CD when it comes out, and I hope to see you perform."
Quon Yue was dumbstruck at Shuichi's actions and words. Shuichi released his hand and left the room, waving over his shoulder as he disappeared from sight.
After Shuichi had been gone for a few minutes and Quon Yue had had a chance to recover from his encounter, Hiro cleared his throat, causing both Himeko and Quon Yue to look at him, Quon Yue's eyes dark and indifferent again.
"If that's all settled, I'd like to handle some things downstairs in the rehearsal room," Hiro announced.
Himeko looked at her watch. "I'm afraid I'll have to postpone joining you. I have an appointment I need to get to."
"You have a lot of appointments. What gives?" Quon Yue asked, his eyes turning bright blue.
Himeko sighed and took a card out of her pocket, handing it to Quon Yue. When Hiro looked over his shoulder to see what it said, she handed him a second one. Printed on the card was a logo that read "Fifth District Real Estate". Beneath the logo it said "Kyousei Himeko, Senior Vice President".
"You have a second job?" Hiro asked, pocketing the card.
Himeko just sighed again and nodded. "Well, not entirely. My family owns that business. My sisters and I are running it currently, since our mother has Alzheimer's and my brother is in medical school. Mother is the founder and president. But because I'm the only one who went to business school I end up attending most of the meetings."
"But why become a record producer if you already have a job?" Quon Yue asked, pitching the card over his shoulder.
"I was a record producer before Mother got sick and I had to take over the business. You're not the first person I've acted as a producer for, you know, and you most likely won't be my last. I've been with NG for twenty years now."
"Twenty years?! How old are you?" Quon Yue asked bluntly.
"Old enough to not want to answer that question. Now, if you'll excuse me, if I stay here any longer I'll be late for my meeting." And with that Kyousei Himeko left.
Quon Yue looked at the door for a moment, shrugged, and lit a cigarette. "So let's go, Mr. Suit. Hopefully we can do what needs to be done without producer chick around."
Hiro pushed open the door to the studio and left, walking over to the elevator and pressing the button. When it opened Quon Yue pushed past him and walked in, still smoking. The ride to the second floor was passed in silence, Quon Yue finishing his cigarette and dropping it onto the floor of the cab, stepping it out. Hiro flinched, but didn't say anything.
As they walked toward their rehearsal room, Hiro could hear music playing faintly. He stopped for a moment, causing Quon Yue, who was walking behind him, to stop. Listening to the music, he turned around and followed it in the direction it was coming from, stopping in front of a different rehearsal room, different because this one had several instruments stocked within, including a grand piano (which was both a mystery and a joke to the employees at NG, for no one knew how Touma had managed to get it in the building in the first place, let alone on the second floor). It was also different in that it was a rehearsal room that only Seguchi Touma or anyone he gave permission to could go in and use the instruments.
Hesitantly, Hiro pushed open the door and looked in. The room was still dark, so he had to strain to see, but finally his eyes rested on the grand piano in the center of the room. Sitting on the bench, playing a breezy tune effortlessly and not knowing he had an audience, was Seguchi Tokui.
Hiro opened the door further, staring in, amazed at the boy. He'd had no idea he was so talented, though he had to admit that with so many musically talented people in his family it was probably impossible for him not to be. Quon Yue appeared at Hiro's side and watched him as well, and they stood there for several minutes before Tokui happened to glance at the open doorway.
His fingers all hit the keys in a single, flat note, before he slammed down the lid over the keys. He was hyperventilating, and he grabbed his inhaler from his sachel, taking two deep puffs of medicine.
"I-I'm sorry, Nakano-san!" he said quickly, eyes filling with tears and a barely noticeable blush crawling into his cheeks. "It's just...Tousan told me I could come in here whenever I wanted to...but if you want to use that room then go ahead...I won't bother you! Please, use it!"
"Tokui, it's all right. We don't need the room," Hiro reassured. "You didn't do anything wrong. We just wanted to hear you play."
Tokui seemed to notice Quon Yue for the first time, gasped, and shrank back. "I-I see. I am so sorry. I shouldn't be in here. I'll go."
He walked bravely toward the door, causing the two men standing there to part automatically as he darted toward the staircase. Hiro swallowed and closed to door to the rehearsal room. He'd always felt bad for the boy, cursed with horribly low self-esteem and a belief that no matter what he was doing something wrong. Hiro had no doubt that he lived a tortured existence, hiding himself away because he felt himself unworthy of joining the rest of the world. Only his sister and uncle could ever really reach him, as much as he could be reached. Sometimes Hiro felt a strong desire to reach out to the boy himself, if anything just to end his own desperate loneliness. Hiro had to admit that Tokui was quite good looking, though those thoughts always made him ashamed. Not only was he less than half his age and still a child, but he was the only son of his boss and the beloved nephew of his rival.
"Who was that?" Quon Yue asked softly, his eyes that peculiar sky blue color that Hiro had so far been unable to assign an emotion.
"Seguchi Tokui. Seguchi Touma's son," Hiro answered.
"He doesn't look like Seguchi," Quon Yue observed.
"He looks like his uncle, Yuki Eiri. Which I suppose is good, since Yuki Eiri might be a cold and insensitive bastard, but he's a damn good looking one. Seguchi-san's daughter Amai, on the other hand, looks and acts exactly like him. It's almost creepy."
Quon Yue didn't answer. Hiro looked over at him to see his eyes were still the same sky blue color, looking in the direction that Tokui had ran.
"He's been hurt," Quon Yue said at last. Hiro raised an eyebrow and glanced at him, and Quon Yue continued. "Something hurt him badly. Is still hurting him. He thinks he's worthless, that he shouldn't be seen by the rest of the world. He was hiding, wasn't he?"
Hiro swallowed. If he had been that accurate gauging Tokui, then he shuddered to think what Quon Yue thought of him. "He does that. A lot. He prefers small, enclosed spaces where no one can see him. Closets, pantries, empty rooms, the like."
Quon Yue nodded slightly and looked down at the floor, following Hiro obediently. Hiro could see a single tear in the corner of his eye, and for a moment thought he had imagined it.
"Oh my God...you like him, don't you?" Hiro asked suddenly.
Quon Yue looked up, the tear falling down his cheek. His eyes were the icy blue that Hiro knew meant he was in trouble. "I feel bad for him. I am human, for chrissakes!"
Hiro clenched his fists, ready to defend himself from the younger man if it was necessary, though he knew bare fists against a knife really wasn't an even match.
"Stay away from him," Hiro ordered. "He has it bad enough as it is. He's not like other boys and probably never will be. He doesn't need you corrupting him."
Quon Yue narrowed his eyes, and for a moment Hiro actually feared for his life. "Don't tell me what to do, Mr. Suit. I have absolutely no intention of hurting him. I don't hurt anyone unless they deserve it, because I know what it's like to be hurt and to be hurt badly. You don't know me, Mr. Suit, and at the rate you're going you never will, but when I was younger I got hurt very badly and very often for absolutely no reason. So don't tell me to stay away from someone because you're afraid I'll hurt them, because you know jack shit about me."
And with that Quon Yue stomped past the rehearsal room they usually used and toward the stairwell.
"And the most ironic thing is I was about to cave in and tell you I would do it because I felt bad about not liking your fiancée, but you had to pull this stunt and ruin that! Now I wouldn't go along with it even if it was the greatest idea of all time!" Amai shouted at her father.
Touma looked unmoved at his desk, having engaged in much worse shouting matches in the past with his daughter. He didn't say anything in response, knowing when he was beaten and not wanting to exasperate the situation. The way Amai worked was she would be angry and put her foot down, Touma would let her have her way, and eventually she'd cave in and try the other way, if just out of curiosity. Touma had been much like her at her age, before his experience with Nittle Grasper had taught him to get a handle on his feelings and start thinking what would be good for others and not just himself. Having a best friend who was willing to die for him didn't hurt, either, as it had been Ryuuichi's companionship that had help forge the man he was today.
"You're not going to say anything?" Amai asked, her rage not having subsided.
"You're right. I shouldn't have backed you into a corner. I thought I was doing what was best for you, and unfortunately I didn't take your feelings into consideration. I could only remember my own experiences with Nittle Grasper and the strong bonds I formed with Noriko-chan and Ryuuichi-san, and you don't have many friends so I thought you getting to know Saki and Alexander would remedy that. But I shouldn't have forced you to follow in my footsteps if you didn't want to. Unfortunately, it's too late to call Sakuma-san and Mr. K and tell them not to come because they have Fujisaki-san with them and I would like to get him into rehab as soon as possible, but after I introduce you to Alexander- since you haven't seen him since you were six- you are free to do what you like. I will even cancel my meeting with Noriko-chan and Saki if you would like me to."
Amai seemed surprised. Seguchi Touma hated defeat, and he hated admitting that he was defeated even more. His daughter and possibly Yuki Eiri were the only people on earth who had ever went against him in a debate and won, and it was a painful truth he didn't wish to confront often.
Before Amai could speak again, the phone on Touma's desk rang. He picked it up, knowing very few people had the direct line to his office (others had to be rerouted through the front desk). "Moshi moshi," he said.
"Seguchi! Glad I caught you!" a familiar yet tired-sounding voice said cheerfully. "We just got in. We meant to call you sooner, but your phone kept ringing busy."
"Mr. K! I was about to call you!" Touma said with genuine surprise and enthusiasm.
"Well, whatever you have to say you can save until you can pick us up. We're stranded at the airport right now," K explained.
Touma quirked an eyebrow. "I see," he said in English, hoping Amai wouldn't understand. "I am currently speaking to my daughter, but I will be there as soon as I can."
"Thank you. We'll be here," K replied in English before disconnecting.
Touma hung up, looking up at Amai, whose dark eyes were fixed on him.
"You'll be there as soon as you can, will you?" Amai asked in English. "You forget I passed English, and I am still learning it independently."
Touma smiled and stood up, picking up his feather-fringed coat and putting it on along with his hat and tugging on his gloves. "Yes, I am afraid I did," he confirmed in Japanese. "I get so busy I forget that you are still studying even though you are finished high school, and you are a very intelligent girl. Would you like to come with me?"
Amai shrugged. "If there is enough room. I mean, you said Mr. K and Sakuma-san are coming, and they are bringing Alexander and Fujisaki-san, so including you that's five people."
"I will stop by the house first and get my van. I would have had to, anyway."
Amai nodded and followed her father out of the office, giving no thought to the fact that she and her father were currently dressed identically. In the halls people had trouble telling father and daughter apart on normal days, and usually called both "Seguchi-san" to be safe. The few people on a first name basis with one or the other always assumed both were Touma to be safe, as while Amai always took being mistaken for her father as a compliment, Touma didn't share those sentiments.
As they entered the hall they passed Hiro, who blinked at the seeming double vision, walked beside the first figure that the second seemed to be leading them.
"Seguchi-san?" he asked, not trying to guess which one was which.
"Nakano-san," the one he was speaking to acknowledged, and Hiro knew he was speaking to Seguchi Touma.
"I was wondering, sir, if I could take the day off. I'm sure you've heard about how I ended up staying the night here, and my act left, anyway, so I really don't see any reason to stay."
"Yes, of course, Nakano-san. As long as you still do your job and remember our deal you can take all the time you need," Touma told Hiro off-handedly. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm busy. Remember to check in with the receptionist before you leave."
And with that, Touma and Amai left Hiro standing in the hall behind them.
The airport was packed with people, many of them angry about having had their flights postponed or cancelled and either having to leave early or having arrived at their destination late. Occasionally the public address system would crackle on, spit out it's barely coherent messages, and crackle back off.
Amai looked around here, straining through her sunglasses in the already dim terminal. She looked over at her father, who was also scanning the crowd. Finally, he saw something that caught his attention and began walking, his daughter close at his heels. Sure enough, standing next to the baggage claim, was a small group of people: a tall man with short blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, his shoulder holster barely noticeable under his faded dark blue jacket, a small man in a wheelchair with somewhat long brown-green hair and bright, glittering blue-violet eyes with a one-legged pink stuffed bunny in a special harness on the back of the chair; a young man who looked roughly the same height and weight as the wheel-chair bound man, wearing a red hairband to keep his long brown-green bangs from his blue-violet eyes, his own shoulder holster slightly better concealed (though not entirely invisible) beneath his denim jacket, and, interestingly enough, had a blue stuffed rabbit tucked under his arm; and a fourth figure that was wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood raised to conceal it's face, hands jammed firmly in it's pockets.
Touma and Amai stopped in front of the small group, and the man in the wheelchair's eyes lit up. He pushed himself forward and grasped Touma's leg firmly.
"Touma!" Ryuuichi shouted excitedly. He released as Touma leaned forward and embraced his best friend and former bandmate. He had heard about the accident that had caused Ryuuichi the use of his legs (and Kumagorou one of his) but he hadn't actually seen the man since he had been confined to the wheelchair.
Touma looked up at the others and shook hands with K. "It is good to see you all," he said, one of his rare genuine smiles lighting up his face. Years ago, when Touma and Ryuuichi had still been in high school, Ryuuichi had told Touma that he smiled too much and that he wished he would save his smiles for when he was happy. Touma had tried it, but he quickly realized his smile was as much as tool as a mask.
"It's great to see you, too," K agreed. "For many reasons. We've been here for two hours now."
"Then let's go," Touma said with a nod. K and the younger man both took two bags, and Amai and Touma each took two others, Ryuuichi keeping a pace with Touma and Amai standing just behind both men, the sweatshirt-clad figure standing between Amai and K and the young man.
One out in the van with everything pack up and everyone situated, they pulled out into the busy Tokyo traffic.
"Sorry I didn't make the introductions in the airport, but it was so crowded and I figured you were tired of standing there," Touma explained. "In back is my daughter, Amai. And Amai, sitting up here next to me is Sakuma Ryuuichi. You probably don't remember him. And in the middle seats are Crawd Winchester- better known as K- and my cousin, Fujisaki Suguru. And sitting next to you is Alexander Sakuma-Winchester."
Ryuuichi turned around and waved, smiling sunnily. "Hello!"
K also turn and looked at the girl. "I'd heard you'd grown up to look just like your father, but I didn't think you'd look that much like him. I thought I was experiencing deja vu back there. Alex, say hi." Alex looked at Amai, waved slightly, and resumed looking out the window. K sighed. "Sorry about that. He's usually much friendlier. Just the plane trip was long and hard and we've been stuck in that airport all day."
"Mr. K, when did you cut your hair?" Touma asked, looking in his rearview mirror at the man in question.
K sighed and looked down at the floor mats. "I didn't want to. It's embarrassing, actually. I have no culinary skills, as you well know, and Alex and Ryuuichi, the usual cooks, were both sick with the flu so I had to fend for myself. And lets just say that long hair and gas stoves don't agree with each other."
"You lost all of it?" Touma asked in amazement.
"Well, up to about halfway up to my shoulders, but the rest was badly singed. Even the best beautician in Manhattan couldn't do anything with it, so I just had it all cut off. This was all two years ago, by the way. It took me 52 years to get it that long, and I'm not counting on living to see 104, so I am not trying to grow it out again."
Touma pulled into the large garage of his mansion and killed the engine. The door to the van was slid open, and everyone automatically piled out. A few reached for bags before Touma said to leave them for the maid, and with that they trekked into the palatial estate.
Much of the house was decorated with a Victorian motif, with mostly dark carpeting and furniture with dark wallpaper and many lamps scattered about, and floral designs everywhere. Anyone who stepped into the living room alone would deduce either that Seguchi Touma was more feminine than they originally believed or that he had hired an interior designer (it was the latter, along with Amai's flair for room themes).
Once everyone was shown to their rooms to get some well-deserved sleep, Touma pulled his cousin to the side to speak with him face-to-face for the first time in almost 3 years.
"Don't get too settled in," Touma instructed firmly. "You will only be staying here until you rest and recover from your jet lag. Then there is a rehab center a few districts away expecting you. And I am not letting you leave the house until then."
Suguru just nodded, his face hidden beneath his hood.
"Take off that sweatshirt, Suguru. The heating here is more than adequate," Touma ordered.
Very slowly, Suguru peeled off the sweatshirt. Beneath it he was wearing a plain black T-shirt, but that wasn't what Touma noticed that made him gasp and suddenly feel ill. The man standing before him was just an empty shell of what had once been Fujisaki Suguru. Always lean, he was now bone thin. His once neat and glossy dark green hair was now dull and mattered and didn't look as if it had been washed in at least a year. The bones in his face were visible, as well as the dark circles under his eyes, made all the more obvious by his sickly pale skin. He also had thin bruises running up his arms along the veins, trackmarks from his heroin use. His once glittering brown eyes were glazed over, and he sniffed, his nose sounding stuffed.
"What have you done to yourself?" Touma asked, reaching out and taking his cousin into an embrace.
"I didn't want you to see," Suguru said softly. "That's why I didn't come back to Japan sooner. I didn't want you to see what I'd become."
"I am going to get you some help, Suguru. Don't worry. I'll make sure you get better."
"I hope so," the younger man whispered, though his voice was completely devoid of hope.
End of Chapter Six
¹ Rosuto is the Japanese pronounciation for "lost", and Koji means "orphan". Considering his obvious secret agent roots and the fact that he doesn't seem to be Japanese, this is probably some kind of code name.