My master has an odd relationship with his son. Akira-kun doesn’t act like a normal child at times. He has two modes for the most part. The first one is happy little child. Akira-kun just looks so happy and acts like a normal little kid. He gets antsy when we end up staying in a hotel room for hours a day. He is at his happiest when he’s outside or coloring pictures. Sometimes, I will sit in the hotel room and color with him. He asks me questions like little kids would.
“Nee-san do you have a boyfriend?” he asks me one day.
“I did,” I said. “But he’s gone now.”
“Is he in Heaven with mommy?” Akira-kun asked.
“I hope so,” I muttered. I leaned back and looked up at the ceiling. The little boy rested his head in my lap.
“Please don’t cry, Nee-san,” he said. Tears welled up in my eyes.
“I’m not going to, I promise I won’t,” I said.
“It’s going to be okay,” he whispered. “You have Papa and me.” Akira-kun’s a strange kid on a way. He sometimes acts so polite and calm at times when I am about to cry.
That leads to his other mode.
It’s hard to put this in words. He just goes into strange type of trance. He starts to talk in monotone. The way he looks at you it’s as if he is looking through you. One night, I saw him standing in the hotel bathroom, holding a small knife. He just stared off into space, just holding it. I didn’t know whether to let him be or to go in there and stop him. There is another strange thing about him. I end up speaking my deepest thoughts after he touches me. This usually lasts about an hour or so. Mikado always looks so worried when I open my mouth after his son touches my hand.
It’s raining today in Osaka today. I stared out the window. It looks like it’s going to be an all-day pour too. Akira-kun sat on the floor, coloring a new picture. My master went off to get us some food. I watched the little boy color with a green crayon. Now that I think about it, Mikado acts so hands off with the kid. Akira-kun just runs around and does what he wants to do. Oh sure, my master will call him out when he’s doing something wrong. Don’t get me wrong. It’s obvious that Mikado does love his son. It’s just…
“Your Papa’s not the warm and cuddly type, is he?” I asked.
“Uh-uh,” Akira-kun said, not looking up.
“Why is that, I wonder?”
“Papa’s been hurt.”
“Hm? And what do you mean by that?” I heard him mumble something under his breath. “I’m sorry.” Akira-kun’s eyes looked so empty.
“There are just some things you don’t ask,” he said in that monotone voice he does. His eyes were narrowed at me.
“Oh…” I mumbled. The kid didn’t even blink. I could’ve sworn that his eyes turned red for a second.
“I’m back,” I heard my master say. Akira-kun returned to normal when we heard footsteps walk into the room. Mikado walked into with two bags of food.
“Welcome back,” I said.
“I’ve brought you both some burgers,” he said. Mikado walked over to Akira-kun. The little boy looked up.
“Papa!” he said. My master walked over and patted him on the head. Just like that, the little boy turned back into his happy, upbeat self.
There are so many times that I do not understand about father and son. For starters, their relationship itself. I wouldn’t say that my master is aloof, but he’s rather hands-off with raising Akira-kun. Sometimes when we go off, Mikado will leave him with some guardian familiar that I cannot see at times. It rather shocked me the first time I got involved.
-Six Years Ago-
Mikado took me back to the hotel that her was staying in back in Kabukicho. This was after I gathered up my things. I gave him a confused look.
“Why are we here?” I asked.
“We’re picking up my son,” my master said.
“Your son?” I asked.
“That is what I said,” he replied. We made it up to Room 369. Mikado knocked on the door.
“Akira-kun!” he said. “Daddy’s back!” Mikado pulled out the keycard and slid it into the lock slot. A fancy hotel room awaited us when we stepped inside. Everything looked well-lit with views of the city with the giant windows. A TV was on in the background playing some old anime I was not familiar with. On the big bed sat a little boy with spiky black hair just like his dad’s. He had on little blue pajamas and no shoes on his feet. Beside him sat a woman who looked like a samurai with her blades at her side. She had her long brown hair up in a ponytail with her bangs covering her left eye. Mikado took a step forward.
“Akira-kun, this is my new friend, Jessie,” he said. “Say hello.”
“Hello,” the little boy said. Mikado turned to the woman who didn’t speak.
“Thank you for watching over him again, Hikira,” he said. “You may return now.” The woman bowed her head and vanished into thin air. I covered my mouth as I gasped.
“What is all of this?” I asked. Mikado turned his head.
“That was my guardian, Hikira,” he said. “She watches over my son when I go out into the city.”
“But where did she go?” I asked.
“Back into my soul.”
He turned to me with a sharp look in his eye. “There are some things better left unanswered.” That would be the reoccurring response he would give me every time I got close to knowing more about him.
Akira-kun munched on his fries on the hotel bed. I feel bad when I eat in front of my master. Mikado gave me a little smile.
“You don’t have to feel guilty for eating in front of me,” he said. I rolled my eyes while chewing.
“Why do you always do that?” I asked.
“Habit,” he said. I rolled my eyes as I kept eating.
“Right…” I muttered. My master looked out the window.
“We can’t stay here,” he said. I looked up, blinking.
“Hm?” I asked. My master turned his head.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“We are leaving Japan by morning,” Mikado said. “There is a boat that is heading for Thailand. I will persuade the captain to let us on.” Akira-kun and I stared at him.
“What?” I asked.
“Hear me out,” my master said. “There is nothing for us here in this country anymore. Most of the people are either dead or have fled. We should be doing the same. I do not wish to see you succumb to the plague.”
“What about you?” I asked.
“Akira-kun and I are not effected by the plague,” he said. “This is more for your safety.” There is something he’s not telling me.
“Please do not ask me anymore questions,” my master said. “You have to trust me on this.” There he goes again. Hiding him for the truth isn’t going to work. But, I will try to get something out of him before we leave. Right now, I stuffed more of my burger into my mouth.
“At least tell me why Thailand,” I said.
“I will tell you in the morning,” he replied.
“Uh-huh,” I said, flatly. Akira-kun kept eating quietly the whole time.
Now that I think about it, we don’t really leave when it rains. We just stay indoors until it stops. The only time my master goes out is to get food.
“Hey, Mikado-san,” I said.
“Yeah?” he asked.
“Why is it that we never go outside when it’s raining?”
“Is there anywhere you want to go?”
“Not really. There isn’t much to do around here anymore.”
I looked over at Akira again. He started on his burger now. The child seems to be holding up well in this mad world that we were all forced into. His smile seemed to keep everything from being too depressing. There are still many mysterious about him. He doesn’t remember his mom and doesn’t mind his dad leaving in the late hours of the night. Akira-kun is always talking to Hikira when my master and I are not with him. (I’m trying to break him of that. He just looks like he’s talking to himself in public. I know no one really cares because of the situation we are in, but still…)
“You know,” I spoke up. “It wouldn’t kill you to eat something for a change. “Just have a sandwich at least. Please? It will make me happy.”
“Heh,” was all that he said. I don’t know what he means when he says that. I assume it’s just to humor me when I start asking questions about his health.
“I told you, I am fine,” my master insisted. “You just need to worry about yourself.” I would like for just once to share a meal with him without him watching me eat. Maybe do something a little bit fancy. I don’t know if he has the money, though.
“Money is no object,” my master said. I looked up at him. Mikado had a stern look on his face.
“If you want a lavish dinner for the two of us, we’ll do that,” he said. “Just let’s get out of Japan first, okay?” I gave him a blank stare.
“And yes, I do mean it,” Mikado added.
“Uh… O… kay…” I said. “Sure. I will hold you to that, you know?”
“Fine,” he said.
“Wow,” I mouthed. After Akira-kun finished his food, he yawned and stretched his little arms. He lay down on the bed and went to sleep.
“Akira-kun, don’t go to sleep, you’ll turn into a cow,” I said.
“Leave him be,” Mikado said. “He’s fine.” He turned his attention back to me. I pressed my lips together.
“Yes, I do care about my son,” my master spoke up.
“Then why do you…?” I began to ask. He looked out the window at the heavy rain outside.
“He does not need me to smother him,” he said. “If anything, I need him more than he needs me. He’s all that I have left of his mother.” My master sighed and rubbed his head.
“I’m a hot mess, aren’t I?” he asked.
“I don’t think so,” I said. Mikado lifted his head. I leaned forward.
“You still have me,” I said. “And that’s the first time you really opened up to me.” Mikado blinked at me.
“I did?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said. Mikado stood up and walked over to the bathroom.
“Mikado… -san?” I asked.
“I’m going to take a shower,” he said.
“Already?” I asked. The bathroom door slammed shut.
By nightfall, we were in our beds. I looked over at my master asleep in his bed and then at his son sleeping next to me. I do not get this weird family. The kid goes between sunny and creepy on a whim. My master won’t let me know anything about him. Staying with them gives me headaches, but I feel like they are part of my family now. Now that I know that my master is in so much pain, I have to stay by his side. The same goes for Akira-kun. I will try to figure them both out even if it kills me. I took one more look at Akira-kun asleep next to me. I brushed his hair from his forehead.
I won’t leave you, I thought. I closed my eyes and let myself drift off to sleep.
By the next morning, the rain had stopped. We packed up everything and checked out.
“Right to go?” my master asked.
“Yes,” I said, nodding. Mikado patted Akira-kun on the head.
“You ready to go?” he asked.
“Yes!” he said aloud.
“So where exactly are we going?” I asked.
“Port of Osaka,” Mikado answered. “If we leave now, we will be able to catch the first boat to Thailand.”
“Understood,” I said, nodding. The three of us walked out of the hotel. Thailand, huh? Maybe it is time to get out of Japan. But still… I turned to my master.
“Hey, Mikado,” I spoke up.
“I am looking for somebody,” he said. I tilted my head with a confused look on my face.
“Who?” I asked. My master turned to me with a stern look on his face.
“My sister,” he said.
“Your sister?” I asked with narrowed eyes.
“She’s not really my sister,” Mikado explained. “She’s a tadpole like me. She and her daughter have already left Japan and from the last I heard, she was in Thailand.”
“Is that why we’re leaving Japan now? Aside from this country being practically dead now?”
“Yes,” Mikado said. He noticed the stunned look on my face. “What?”
“That’s the first time you gave me a straight answer,” I said.
“Okay…” he said, flatly. I cleared my throat but couldn’t help but to smile.
“So, what are your sister and niece’s names?” I asked. My master patted me on the head.
“Inaba Itori,” he said. “Her daughter is named Sakura.” Mikado drew back his hand and walked over to the boat. Akira-kun ran after his son as I tilted my head. Did he just… we’re starting to finally get closer. I left like dancing around in heaven.
“Are you coming along?” Mikado asked, looking over his shoulder. I jumped in place as I came back to reality.
“Oh, yes!” I said. I ran to check up with my master and his son. I smiled as the three of us walked on the boat.
Goodbye, Japan. It breaks my heart to leave you like this. But at least you can rest in peace now. Still, I have one more question.
“Mikado-san?” I asked on the boat.
“What?” my master asked.
“What will we do if Thailand ends up like Japan?” I asked. He watched the sea as the boat started to pull away.
“We will just keep going,” my master said. We would arrive in Thailand within the next few days.