Scene III: Take For Granted
Kanagawa, Yuugen. Japan. 2005, May
“Wait, what do you mean?”
Yokubo looked between the fearful faces. Senbo was frowning, lips parted with disbelief. Hokori looked furious and closed the space, facing The Chairman. He had always been a tall man. There was no-one who could match his height and Hokori enjoyed using it against people; against Yokubo.
“Must I spell it out for you? The Orphanage is burning, we must get help. Now.”
Senbo shook his head. “We haven’t got time to stand around bickering!” He snapped, pulling Hokori away from Yokubo.
The commotion drew Yujin out from his office. He was intrigued to see three members of Yuugen’s Council snapping at each other and was not ashamed to stand by as they shared a tension which would usually make Dabblers quake under such influence. Not Yujin. He merely waited until Senbo broke free first, swearing under his breath as he ran down the corridors to recruit help.
“I have empty beds,” Yujin blinked dully. “If there’s any critically wounded children bring them to me.”
Hokori said nothing. He merely nodded towards the nurse before shoving past Yokubo, bumping his shoulder as he ran after Senbo and began pulling people out of their classes and summoning the rest of Yuugen’s aid to gather in the hall and explain the situation. Yokubo stayed behind. He watched Yujin move back into the infirmary and held his gaze, making sure he slammed the door between them when he closed it.
Yokubo never had to leave Yuugen to know the fire had been a disaster. He stood in the foyer, watching as the hallways were filling with children. Their wide eyes were full of fear and shock, faces covered with soot and shoulders trembling. Some were laying upon the ground with blankets covering their chest and legs. Others sat on the floor, waiting for someone to take them someplace safe. Neko stood at his side, watching the scene unfold with still and judging eyes.
“Have we found the cause of the fire?” Yokubo asked quietly.
“No, sir.” Neko replied. She crossed her arms over her chest as The Chairman turned on his heel. “Eager to be somewhere, sir?”
“Dotai wishes to speak with me.” Yokubo called over his shoulder. His long legs carried him further into the hall, away from the crowds of fearful children.
“Yes, sir. I specifically remember telling you that.” Neko retorted. She jogged up to stand in front of him, hands clasped behind her back. She was small and young, but afraid? Never. “I’m afraid his office is being used. He wishes to speak with Hokori and Senbo about the accident before he can resume his schedule.”
“In that case, I shall take slow steps.” Yokubo moved past the girl, disregarding the look she gave him. “Maybe it would have been more appropriate if you had told me sooner.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Neko nodded, excusing herself before Yokubo could disappear up the stairs.
The Chairman released a sigh; one he had no recollection of holding back until he was alone. As he moved, his pace quickened and he allowed his curiosity to lead him down to the maintenance wing where Dotai’s office was nestled to the back of the building. As Chairman, he had a right to know what had gone on today and if their Dabbler-associates were to cut ties over a fire, were they to be trusted with Yuugen's secrets?
The further he travelled, the quieter it got. Dotai’s wing had the best view of Yuugen, with wide windows overlooking the city below. It was always bright and clean, filled with light yet had no décor - which defeated the atmosphere, Yokubo decided. He took many steps to reach the top floor and paused, hearing voices outside of Dotai’s office.
“You know what happened!”
“We could not have changed this, even if we had tried.”
“But it was my fault-!”
The unfortunate sound of Yokubo’s heel creaking along the floorboards echoed, causing the voices to stop. When The Chairman forced himself to turn the corner, he noted Hokori and Senbo. The former stepped back the moment Yokubo appeared, while the latter remained pressed against the wall; his arctic eyes piercing the ground.
“Is Dotai free?” Yokubo spoke up. He forced himself to remain casual, pretending he had not heard anything and had simply jogged up oblivious.
Before Hokori could reply, Senbo pushed off the wall and stomped past them both, quickly darting down the stairs. Hokori grit his teeth and moved, haunting Senbo’s steps. “Yes, Chairman. Dotai is waiting for you.”
“Hokori,” Yokubo called out, catching the blond before he could disappear. “If you keep chasing him like that, you’re only going to upset him even more. Maybe you should just leave him be for a while? Let him figure things out on his own.”
Hokori made a snort, akin to a snicker. “He does not do well with figuring things out. Perhaps you should just leave us be, Chairman.”
Yokubo moved back to Dotai’s office, relaxing once Hokori’s footsteps thundered down the stairway and disappeared. There was a relationship constantly walking on melting ice and eggshells; Hokori and Senbo had been problematic for as long as Yokubo could remember. They were toxic together; they were powerful together. They were transparent and private at the same time. Above all else, wherever one of them may be, the other was sure to be nearby.
Yokubo raised his knuckles and tapped against the polished oak door. He waited for a response before turning the golden handle and allowing himself inside. The room was darker than the hall. A deep grey filled the colours of the walls, accompanied by the hanging nets of black and golden curtains over the window behind the desk. It always smelt of whiskey and chocolate; chocolate liquors, to be exact.
“You wanted to see me, Dotai?”
“I did.” Dotai stood with his back to Yokubo, staring out the window. In his hand was a glass of scotch which he sipped from gradually as he viewed the tragedy of the Orphanage below. “Please, take a seat, Yokubo.”