He looked around the place in silence. The place was full of people. Some of them were squeezing on the dance floor and the rest were just chattering around in groups scattered near the wall. He pulled his hat until half of his face was hidden and hid his trembling hands deeply inside his pocket. He breathed heavily before walked through the crowd to reach the stairs. Hesitantly he took step by step upward and scanned the second floor silently when a hand grabbed his arm and dragged him to one of the room.
He almost choked with surprise when he was pushed hard and fell to the floor. Even before his brain tried to digest what was happening, a blow landed on his stomach, made him curled his body while holding the kicked part and pressing it with the hope it would reducing the pain, when another blow attacked his back. He felt his body ripped apart but he tried to not make any sound by biting his lips until blood streamed from the bitten part. Tears flew down his cheeks suddenly even he tried to prevent it. It was too hurt. Not just his body but also his soul.
“That’s it? Wow! I guess I succeed for making you cry with only two blows. Ups, two kicks I mean.”
Oh God. Please, give me strength.
When he thought it was over the man pulled him by his hair, forced him to stand up just to be thrown to the bed in the middle of the room. He rolled over and tried to get up when he was strangled, and couldn’t move easily when a hand gripped his neck. He chocked hardly. He felt his life would over soon.
“… please … let … me go …”
“Wow! What happened to you? You surrender that easy today.” The man reached his bangs and removed it from his face. His eyes widened right away, and his grip suddenly released and he moved away from him.
“Is this how you treat him lately?”
Yuichi got up and sat in the edge of the bed. “Yes. It’s me. Is this how you treat Yamato all this time? You punched him, you kicked him? Are you the one who raped him too? What are you? Don’t you have a heart? He is your own son.” Tears flew uncontrollably on his cheeks when he asked those questions.
Tatsuo lost his words. He gaped at the sight in front of him. His first son was wounded. His lips were bleeding. And he kicked him just now. He gulped hard.
“You were his hero back then. He always praised you in front of his friends that you were the best father in the world. What make you change?”
“He changed me. He turned to who I am now. He always disappointed me. He never listened to me even once. He’s a pain my ass.”
“He just wanted a life on his own way. He found it. But you destroy it.”
“Being a trash in society isn’t a life, Yuichi. You deserve to get a better life but not him. You shouldn’t dye your hair like him. You looked exactly like a delinquent right now.”
“Everyone deserves better life whoever he is!”
The yell from his son startled him, made him close his mouth right away.
“He deserves the life he wanted. He deserves to decide. Whoever he is, he deserves to choose the way of life he wanted. He is a human being just like us. But you treated him like he's nothing.”
“He is nothing but a pain. I’m tired of him. It is better for him to just die.”
“Then why don’t you just kill him!”
“It’s not fun if he dies right away. He should feel how hard life is. He should know that he has taken the wrong path. I just tried to remind him that and he knew it.”
“By kicking him? And punching him? And even rape him? Is that how a dad should do to remind his son that he took the wrong path?”
Tatsuo held his breath. He was busted. He knew it and he couldn’t hide it longer. It’s useless to hide it. “I wasn’t the one who raped him.”
“But I’m sure you’re there.”
Tatsuo gritted his teeth. He couldn’t answer the question. He was there, yes. And he watched them raped his son with his own eyes. He saw him begged to him in silence to save him. But his pride forced him to stay in his place and watched his son being raped by his friends. There was a sting in his heart when he saw his tears that night, in this place too, but he could only looked back at him without moving. He sat silently on the couch and staring at him, who stared back at him without words. His stare was full of pleading at first but then he realized that it was blank.
“I take your silence as a yes, so would you tell us who raped him?”
Tatsuo turned to the door and his eyes bewildered seeing the man who just entered the room.
“ … Odagiri … “
“Your every word was recorded and you can’t run away now.”
Tatsuo gaped at the scene in front of him. He lost his words completely when he saw two men walked to him, one of them cuffed him and dragged him to go out of the room.
“Why don’t you save him? You should protect him, shouldn’t you? You’re his father. The one he could lean on when he needed.”
He could hear Yuichi yelled at him but he didn’t give any respond. He stopped suddenly and stunned when he saw an old man welcomed him with a slap on his face in the hallway.
“Don’t call me father.” The old man hissed to him. “I didn’t agree when Yoshiko decided to marry you because I don’t like you when we met for the first time. And I guess I was totally wrong that I ignored my instinct and chose to accept you because Yoshiko looked very deep in love with you.”
“Father, I …”
“I don’t need reasons. I won’t give you my apology even if you beg me with all your sincerity, which is, I don’t think you have it anymore.”
The old man passed him to go to the room, left him with the police who dragged him away.
“He really did it. I can’t believe this.“ Yuichi wailed weakly.
Ryu soothed him by caressing his back gently. He looked at Shin who just stood by the door, leaning on the frame, and gritted his teeth. It took him all his might when he tried to hold the older from bursting in to the room and beating Tatsuo into pulp when they heard the confession from the hallway. He could only thank silently to his grandfather which only needed one grab on his wrist to stop him from destroying their plan.
Ryu could only nodded at his father, sending him silence gratitude for his help, which only nodded back to him silently before walked out the room.
They saw many pair of shoes in the rack when they came back to the house. They looked at each other, tried to get any answer for their silent questions.
“Few times ago Yamato said that his friends wanted to do a sleepover here, so I approved it. It’s a weekend anyway.”
They looked at Yuichi who casually put off his shoes and went upstairs to Yamato’s room.
Yuichi stopped in front of the door and rubbed his stomach. He still felt the pain from the kick earlier but then he sighed heavily. It’s over. It’s time to move on. He turned over the door knob and popped his head to the room. He counted that there were five new faces in the room plus Reita who just sat silently on the couch in the corner of the room. “Is it now? The sleepover?”
Everybody in the room turned to him and smiled sheepishly while Yamato just nodded at him.
“Okay, I’ll call you when dinner’s ready.”
He then closed the door again and went back downstairs. He went to the kitchen and welcomed by the stare of the others’ eyes. He sighed and opened the fridge.
“It’s them. There’re five of them. And there’s Reita too.”
“How was it?” The said person suddenly popped out in the room.
“It went well. He confessed and we have to move on.” Ryu answered him right away before walked away from the kitchen. But he stopped in front of Reita. “You’d better not to mention every single of the plan in front of him. It’s over now and no need to discuss this matter ever again. The case closed.”
Reita nodded furiously at him. He knew Yamato should move on. He had to face his future. And he needed all the help from them. He found him back and he wanted to be there for him always since now. He would do everything he could so he wouldn’t lose his best friend ever again.
“Guys~ I think some of us should go to the market. We ran out of the groceries.”
And with that Shin stood up from the chair. “I’ll go.” And he grabbed Ryu’s arm and dragged him out of the house with him.
Yuichi smiled at the scene. “Shin is fond of Ryu and both of them are too fond of Yamato. And I guess I’m infected by them now.” He took a bottle of water and drank it while closing the refrigerator with his foot.
Reita chuckled at the comment. “You’re not infected at all. You’re just too shy to admit that you have that ‘brother complex’ within you.”
He almost chocked with the comment. He wiped the water from his mouth and looked at Reita who smirked at him. “What did you just say?”
Reita smiled mischievously at him before walked away from the kitchen, leaving Yuichi behind with his redden face he tried to hide.
“Being a big brother who had a brother complex within you is not a shameful thing, right, Yuichi?”
“Not you too.” Yuichi groaned at the old man who just grinned at him from the couch in the living room.
He opened his eyes slowly then sat up. He looked around and saw his friends sprawled all over the room. He smiled and stood up. He opened the door of the balcony and walked out. He leaned on the rail and looked up to the sky. It’s dark but he knew that there’s always a light behind it. Mr. Sun was keeping his eyes to the other side of the world. Soon, when Mr. Sun was looking at his side again its brightness would lighten the world around him. And as usual, it would always be dazzling him.
Yamato turned around and saw Ren walked over to his side. He leaned on the rail and looked up to the sky too.
“I wish I could see stars here. But we know that it’s impossible.” Almost mumbled Ren voiced out his mind.
“My grandmother’s living in a mountain. Do you want to come with me this weekend?” Ichimura suddenly popped out from the door.
“Eh?” Ren turned to him. “Are you sure? What do you think, Yamato?”
Yamato looked at him, confused about how to answer him. “Why should you ask me?”
“We want you to come with us, too.”
“I … don’t know …” He looked away, tried to avoid their stare.
“Come on~ we didn’t spend much time lately. Too busy with our own business sometimes boring, you know.”
“I told you I don’t know whether I could come with you or not.”
Ichimura and Ren looked each other. Yamato looked different now than the last time they met him. He was too silent now, and he tended to hide himself in his own world. He was like trying to close himself from the outer world, from them. But aside of that, he looked more fragile than before.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t accept rejection. I’ll wait for you at the train station next week, and if you don’t show up, I’ll pick you up here and drag you along the way to my grandmother’s house. End of discussion.” Ichimura turned over and walked back to the room, leaving Ren who was still looking at Yamato silently.
He observed from behind. He looked devastated.
Yamato turned to him and saw the seriousness darted to him through his eyes. “What?”
“I don’t know what happened, but we’re here. We’re not going anywhere.”
Yamato gaped slightly at the words. Those made his heart melted. He then nodded weakly. “Thank you.”
Ren looked at him. “You’re not alone. Be sure to always remember that.” He then turned over and went back to the room.
Yamato stared at the room and saw his friends went back to their sleep. He looked up to the sky and smiled slightly.
Thank you, for giving me a chance to see them once again.
Yamato started to go out of his room by the morrow. He joined his family on the dining table to have their dinner. He was still silent like he was but they could still see a light in his eyes, just a little, but that’s enough for them to know that they still had him. The elders took glances to each other, silently exchange question whether they feel the same or not.
“Yamato, do you have any plan, next week? Mom said she wanted to meet us.” Yuichi finally asked him when all of eyes darted to him, forced him silently to say something.
Yamato looked at him but awkwardly back to his food. “Ichi invited me to go to his grandmother’s house next week.” He answered him weakly, almost mumbled to himself.
“Eh? Where does she live?”
Yamato looked at his brother again. He didn’t answer him for a moment. “I don’t know. It’s somewhere on a mountain side.”
“Uwaaah! Don’t say that you planned to see the stars. They said it’s so clear if see it from the mountain side.”
Yamato looked at his brother again, slightly annoyed with the outburst of questions darted to him at a time. He sighed. “But I won’t come.” He smiled at them.
Shin looked at the youngest without blinking. He was just smiled at them. He didn’t know why but it made him shivered.
“Listen, guys.” He looked at his family confidently. “Thank you for always being there for me.”
Everyone looked at each other before turned to him in silence. Nobody dared to talk or responded his talk. They looked at the old man who just sighed with the silence request from his grandchildren.
“You don’t have to mention that. Without you thanking us, we will always be here, for you to lean on and to catch you if you fall.”
Yamato smiled again. He stood up and bowed deeply. “I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused all this time.”
Yuichi stood up and grabbed his arm. “You don’t have to bow that way. It’s really okay, you know.”
Yamato smiled again, this time even widely. “Good night, everyone.” He then left them to go back to his room upstairs.
The elders left in the room looked at each other, wondering about Yamato’s behavior. It’s too strange and they couldn’t guess what’s on his mind. But no one moved from their place. They sat still and just looked at each other silently.
Meanwhile, in his room, Yamato once again stood up by rail on the balcony, watching the dark sky and smiled.
With that, he stepped forward and jumped off the balcony.
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