Scene XIV: Is It Really You?
Kanagawa Hospital. Japan. 2014, February
Tsumi sat beside Yujin’s bed. Her eyes had wandered to the window and she watched the daily life of Tokyo below. The peace was something she was foreign to. Chaos, however, was something she knew all too well.
“He should have been here by now.” Chini piped up from his side of the bed.
Tsumi could only blink. She had been holding Yujin’s hand since she had sat down. It had been limp for far too long and now she was suffering with a pang to her chest. Guilt? Pain? Hurt? She could not identify the odd feeling. Was this what people felt when their dearest friends were laying in a coma and had not made any signs of life for days? Perhaps.
“I’m going to call him.”
“There’s no point.” Tsumi finally spoke. Her eyes wandered from the window and down to the hand she held. Her thumb grazed over pale knuckles and she sighed. “…He’s not coming.”
Chini had a remarkable gift for changing his expression from pure serenity to something almost demonic in seconds. With fire in his eyes, he stood up and clenched his fists. Should his grip have been any stronger, the phone in his hand would have surely smashed. “I’ll kill him!”
“Chini,” Tsumi’s voice was soft enough to stop him from storming out of the room. He did not turn back, but he had stopped. Just in time to hear the dreadful comment. “He may already be dead.”
Chini closed his eyes. He could feel remorse rising from his chest; to think of Chikai announcing his innocence before walking straight to his death. Yoku was the root of evil in Yuugen. Every bad thing could be traced back to her and everyone seemed to turn a blind eye and let Chikai fall on his own sword because it was convenient.
“Even so, Toi needs the cure.” Chini whispered. He knew he could never afford a physical fight with Tsumi. If she tried to stop him, it would surely be game over. Familiar against Sorcerer, where was the fairness in that?
“Chikai said this is what Yoku wanted. If you go back to Yuugen, you would be putting everything Yujin worked so hard for to waste-”
“And if I don’t go back there, Toi will die!” Chini snapped, cutting Tsumi Kokutan off – of all people. Personally, he never understood why everyone was so afraid of her. He just thought she was a brat.
Silence was all Tsumi could offer. Her gaze turned from Yujin’s resting face to Chini’s back. His stance made it obvious he would not be changing his mind. Yujin was at death’s door and it was enough for Chini to risk his life.
“Take care of him while I’m gone.” Muttering under his breath, Chini snagged his coat from the back of the door and left without another word to spare.
Kanagawa, Yuugen. Japan. 2005, September
Yokubo sat on the balcony adjoined to his bedroom. He rarely used the space, far too busy to have any leisure time to enjoy the view of Yuugen’s academy, the estate grounds below and the distant lights of Kanagawa in the distance. Beside him sat Okui and between them was an ashtray and a bottle of whiskey.
“Give me the facts one more time.” The Chairman sighed.
Okui tossed back another shot of whiskey, pulling a face when he put the glass down. “Dotai’s body was found on the academy rooftop. Himitsu found him. No evidence of suicide. Presumably murder. Coincidently, Senbo was found later that evening. We think he jumped off the roof.”
“Fuck.” Yokubo pinched the bridge of his nose with frustration. “So, Himitsu finds his own dad’s body and Senbo throws himself off the roof in grief? What are we thinking? Is it connected?”
“Hard to say.” Okui shook his head, pouring himself another glass and politely filling Yokubo’s to the brim. “Since everyone was too focused on removing Dotai from the roof, no-one had even noticed Senbo’s absence. Hokori was the one who found him, again.”
“It’s becoming something of a pattern.” Yokubo mumbled, relighting his cigar, and taking a swig from his drink. He leant back in his chair, wishing he could enjoy the sight of glittering stars in silence. “So, our benefactor is dead, his son is traumatised, and we have a suicidal poison-maker.”
“Yoku seems to think Himitsu saw what happened.” Okui swirled his glass idly. He nearly hummed. “Perhaps the answer shall be relieved soon enough.”
“The kid hasn’t said a word since it happened. He’s in shock.” Yokubo paused, chewing on his bottom lip. “I need to speak with Senbo. Ask him why he jumped.”
“I would watch yourself, Yokubo. He’s a ticking time-bomb; plus, he has recently been attacked and hearing of Dotai’s murder probably sent him off the rails. He would have jumped eventually, perhaps this was just the push he needed.”
“What do you propose we do about him?”
“Remove him from the campus, of course. Get him the proper help he needs.” Okui threw a hand above his head. “Alas, Hokori would have our heads if we locked up The Parasite.”
“You can’t blame him for loving his spouse.”
Okui smirked. “Then perhaps Hokori should be held responsible for Senbo’s actions. He cannot keep standing by while the poor man rips himself apart.”
“I just feel there’s more to it than that.” Yokubo sighed, inhaling from his cigar.
“Are we talking about Dotai or Senbo?”
“I don’t know, both?” Yokubo grunted, moving forward to sit on the edge of his seat. “Sleep. That’s what I need.”
“Agreed.” Okui nodded. He stood first, lacing his fingers around the half-empty bottle of whiskey, taking it away to enjoy on his lonesome. Perhaps tonight he would actually got to sleep at a reasonable hour; the idea of messing with his experiments was a distant thought right now. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” Yokubo replied, finishing his cigar before he could retire to his own bed.
Neko had taken the news rather personally. She could not help but stop and wipe her tears every so often as she made her rounds before bed. She supposed getting emotional over such a thing was rather silly – unprofessional, even! She could not have it!
She swallowed her emotions and made her way back to the staff room. Another cup of coffee would keep her up for a good hour or two before she would allow herself to go to bed. The likelihood that someone would be up past curfew was poor. Not tonight. Perhaps not for many nights.
Swiping another tear from her cheek. Neko met the staircase and began to ascend when footsteps came thundering towards her. When she lifted her head and found Miryoku standing at the top of the stairs, her throat turned tight and she nearly pressed a hand to her neck.
“Miryoku, you should be in bed.”
“I’m sorry for hurting you, it was an accident so… here.” Miryoku whispered, stepping down to meet Neko respectfully. He kept his distance, closing the space by reaching his arm out to offer the purple ribbon in his palm. “It should keep the scars hidden. It was my mum’s; she gave it to me to hide bruises when I was a kid.”
Neko could never offer a thanks. The moment she accepted the ribbon, Miryoku turned tail and ran back up the stairs. Neko could only move, wrapping the ribbon around her neck and tying it into a bow against her nape. The feeling of sorrow for Dotai’s death was momentarily forgotten and she smiled, moving to grab that final cup of coffee without the threat of a tear in her eye thanks to Miryoku Fumetsu.
Yujin cursed under his breath as he moved around the room, stuffing various items into his bag. He slung the carrier over his shoulder before drawing the curtain open from around Chini’s bed. He had made a successful recovery and had even woken up to slap his father up the back of his head. Despite the horrid news of Dotai’s death, Chini remained the same.
“Chini.” Yujin whispered, shaking the boy’s shoulder. “Chini!”
There was no surprise when a hand came out and slapped the nurse across the cheek. Yujin could only force a small groan of annoyance before pulling the sheets off his patient and grab Chini by the elbow to pull him into a sitting position.
“Get up.” Yujin grunted, hardly willing to spend hours and hours softly whispering to wake him up. “Be quick about it.”
Chini blinked the tired from his eyes. His hair stuck up in all different places and his fatigue was physically drained. He stayed sat upright for a collection of seconds before his exhaustion caved in and he fell back to the bed, only to be caught by Yujin once again.
“Come on, pull yourself together, kid.” Hiking Chini back up, Yujin sat beside him and urged his legs over the side of the bed. “We need to go now.”
“Go..? Where we go?” Chini whined. He slid off the bed with unease – muscle wastage apparent when he landed on his feet. His coma was to blame; being bedbound for so long would naturally cause baby steps and a hand to hold until his legs grew accustomed to moving again.
“Away from here.” The reply was simple and Yujin wasted no time, slinging Chini’s arm over his shoulder to lead him towards the door.
Once again, Chini stumbled and nearly fell flat on his face. Yujin could only groan before readjusting the boy, hiking him up into his arms. He was small enough to carry and Yujin managed to hold him akin to something of bridal style as he reached the door and made his way down the hall. The fire exit was their best bet and Yujin quickened his pace.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Neko’s voice echoed, causing Yujin to freeze.
Turning slowly, Yujin could only frown at the view of swollen, puffy vanilla eyes. It was so unlike Neko to show an ounce of emotion, let alone tears. “You’ve been crying-”
“Are you taking him away from Yuugen?” Neko cut in sharply.
“I am.” Yujin replied. His throat bobbed as realisation settled. He would take this boy away from his father in hopes for a better life. He would have to stay with him to ensure his safety. It was a commitment and Yujin swallowed his doubt. “The Chairman asked me to.”
“I know.” Neko moved closer, inspecting the peaceful face of Chini. He had gone back to sleep and seemed to fit so well in Yujin’s arms. She could have smiled. “I suppose you heard about the court meeting this evening. Among other things.”
“No, what happened?”
“Well,” Neko sighed, hands clasping behind her back. Professional as always. “Chikai confessed this evening to the Council, shortly after Dotai’s body was retrieved. He claimed that he had attacked Senbo and had also drugged The Chairman’s son.”
“…And?” Yujin pressed on. He could see the hints of scepticism on her face.
“And nothing. The Chairman let him off with a strict warning. From this day forth, Chikai Chikatta is no longer allowed in any of Yuugen’s inner meetings. He cannot be fired since he is Yoku’s Match. Asides a strict curfew, he gets no punishment.”
“But he betrayed The Chairman-”
“Did he?” Neko’s eyes met Yujin’s. “Do you really believe it was him?”
“No.” Yujin whispered. Times like this he forgot just how young Neko was. She was keen, smart, and far more professional than The Chairman himself. “I don’t believe it was him.”
“I believe it’s safe to assume who the real villain is in all of this. Sadly, we cannot allow that to be exploited for the sake of Yuugen. If word were to spread, Dabblers would surely turn their backs and we would lose a lot of beneficial ties. The cover up is Chikai, so that is what you must believe. Be sure this is all Chini knows. Chikai is responsible, no-one else.” Neko raised her chin; it was a challenging move. “Understand?”
“Crystal clear.” Yujin forced a half-smile, making his obvious disgust apparent before he turned away.
“Yujin,” Neko called. “You need to be tagged.”
Yujin grit his teeth and turned, eyes narrow. “But Chini-”
“Not him, just you.” Neko corrected. She moved swiftly, holding a small pen – one of The Chairman’s greatest inventions. It was similar to an insulin pen, only it would install a tag beneath the skin instead. She injected the pen in Yujin’s wrist before he could protest; this was her job, after all. Just a small tracker and anyone could leave – they would always be found again someday. “Good luck.”
The following days were hard to explain. Without a partner for Himitsu, Yuugen’s future was bleak and people had begun to panic. Neko had to convince everyone that things would take a while to return to something of normality and announced the expansion of the basement to make way for a Courtroom below the academy. Dotai had left a lot of money in his will, enough to reconstruct the academy and loosen associations with Dabblers without losing profit.
Everything went to Yokubo, who was still trying to process just about everything that had happened. Yoku had intervened, claiming to take the inheritance, and run the academy for Yokubo while he pulled himself together. Okui was quick to stop such an idea. He was the vice-chairman, so it was only right he take over while The Chairman was sorting his head out.
Then finally, Yokubo reclaimed his rightful place after a month. He was a completely different man. Calm, mature, void of emotion. He stopped holding orgies and one-night stands and was always on time for meetings. He proposed the mansion be bulldozed after a while; claiming everyone was going their own way and no longer needed a place of residence on Yuugen’s campus. The academy was all they needed.
Life had returned to something manageable, until The Parasite locked himself in his office. After that, nothing was the same again.