Scene VII: Time That We Had
Kanagawa, Yuugen. Japan. 2005, June
“Dotai wishes for student profiles to be submitted promptly before the beginning of term and I have no intentions on waiting any longer than necessary.” Yoku’s cold, sharp voice filled the room.
It had been a week since the fire and now that most of the children were back on their feet, it was time to arrange who would be assigned to Covens and who would be moving up for graduation. As always, a student’s physical needed to be documented and sent to Okui for the archives and he would discuss with the rest of Yuugen’s council; regarding who was more appropriate for certain Covens.
A heavy sigh was made from Yoku’s left and the woman raised a perfectly plucked brow before turning her head to address the man hovering in the corner beside the chalkboard. “Something you would like to add, Senbo?”
Turning his attention from the polished floorboards, Senbo’s piercing eyes blinked, seeming to have been in a completely different state of mind until now. He shook his head, slowly pushing himself further against the wall with his arms crossed as Yoku turned back to the room. As Yuugen was still in construction for a meeting room, the Council had to deal with using empty classrooms for their business. Just like today.
“Has Himitsu been assigned to a Coven yet?” Mad Dog spoke up, raising his hand mockingly, as if addressing a teacher.
“Hardly.” Okui scoffed, slumped against the desk beside Gekido.
Yoku clapped her hands together, drawing the attention of her fellow councilmen back. She pulled a folder from under her arm and handed the papers inside to Senbo. No words were exchanged as he began walking around the room. Usually, Yokubo would be hosting the morning meetings, but he was always late, busy with his full activities in the bedroom. It used to be a hindrance, but Yoku was quick to take the fall for her brother before Okui could substitute as vice-chairman and she enjoyed bossing everyone around.
Senbo handed the papers out; one to Gekido then to Okui. He walked further down the room and placed one in front of Namakemono – who looked ready to fall asleep – and finally turned to where Hokori sat in the back of the room by the window. Their hands touched as Senbo handed the paper over, but no-one had noticed such a motion before Senbo turned to resume his spot in the corner behind Yoku who leant against the teacher’s desk.
“Wait, I’m confused.” Namakemono mumbled, lifting the paper by the edge with his forefinger and thumb, acting as if it was toxic. “What are these?”
“Forms to fill out for your Coven. The necessary things; number of students, name of your partner. Schedules, dates, times. How many hours you will divide between your Coven and your independent experiments.” Yoku scoffed. “We have done this for years now and you still cannot remember?”
“This doesn’t answer my question from before!” Gekido snipped, refusing to even skim his own paper. His eyes darted to Okui, scoffing as the man began filling his forms without breaking a sweat. His arms crossed against his chest like a child and he looked back up at Yoku. “Well?”
“Remind me, Mad Dog,” Yoku spoke slowly, pushing her glasses back up her face. “What was the question?”
“Himitsu. Which Coven is he going to?”
“I would imagine he would be in the same Coven as The Chairman’s son.” Hokori commented simply, tapping his fingers against his desk.
Namakemono hummed, turning to look at the back of Okui’s head. “Will you be taking on The Chairman’s son, Okui-sama?!”
“I cannot take on many students this term, sadly.” Okui shrugged, turning his paper to sign it. “But I could always move some things aside to make room for him.”
“I don’t think that’s your decision to make.” Senbo noted under his breath. It was loud enough for Namakemono to hear.
“But Okui-sama just said-”
The booming voice of Yoku immediately cut off Namakemono and everyone turned their attention to her yet again. She inhaled slowly, pressing a hand to her stomach as she cleared her throat; somehow maintaining a ladylike manner in wake of her shouting. As she readjusted her glasses, she plucked her own paper from the desk behind her and held it up.
“Dotai shall decide where Himitsu will go. He will not necessarily be with Chini, although he is The Chairman’s son.” She paused, lips twitching. “But Himitsu is Dotai’s son, thus the decision belongs to his father and no-one else.”
A thin silence began to creep after Yoku’s words were left hanging in the air. Gekido looked pissed; but when didn’t he? Namakemono looked like he wanted to say something, but his lips were clamped shut for his own sake; Okui seemed unfazed as he slid his finished form across his desk to be gathered and Hokori was leaning back in his seat, staring out the window.
“Senbo and I will begin the medical examinations of this term’s Magick wielders.” Yoku spoke up. “I want everyone’s forms filled before the end of the week, no exceptions.”
Everyone began standing from their chairs to move. Yoku sighed aloud, scooping up her brother’s copy and stuffed it back into its folder before taking Okui’s and leaving the room. Namakemono followed suit, blabbering away about something to do with his experiments to Okui, who only seemed happy to indulge him as Gekido snatched his form from the desk and stuffed it in his pocket, leaving only Hokori and Senbo.
“All ears,” Hokori hummed, leaning further back in his chair. He noted the way Senbo hovered in his corner. “Do tell me what is on your mind, little one.”
Senbo was picking at the hem of his sleeve. A trait he had never grown out of since the day Hokori met him. “One of us has to take Tsumi.”
Hokori inwardly rolled his eyes as he stood, closing the door before anyone could eavesdrop. He moved, taking one of Senbo’s wrists to pull him from the shadows and into the light. His hands may have looked rough when he set them upon Senbo’s shoulders, but it was a caring touch; one which calmed the trembling in the man’s body.
“Do not worry,” Hokori soothed. He eased Senbo’s nerves before hoisting him up and planting him on the edge of the front desk. “We will-”
“But what if we don’t?!” Senbo cut in, shoving the man’s chest. He shuffled back, moving along the desk as his breath began to labour. “What if we can’t? What if Gekido ends up taking her instead? O-Or Yoku?! Please, please don’t let it be Yoku…”
Hokori watched the way Senbo raised his hand, biting the back of his wrist. He sighed, grabbing Senbo’s hips to pull him closer to the edge of the desk and fit himself between his legs, keeping him still. He was quick to move his wrist away from his mouth and used his spare hand to hook a long finger under his chin, turning his gaze up despite the small resistance in his jaw.
“I promise, we will get her.” Hokori murmured, pressing his forehead to Senbo’s. “There is no need to worry over such small things.”
“But it’s not just a small thing, and you know that.” Senbo mumbled, closing his eyes. “The moment we brought her into Yuugen… I thought it was all over then – and then everyone would try and take her from me and, and, and-”
“No-one will take her from you.” Hokori placed his hand over Senbo’s mouth. His fiendish eyes stared into those wide, crazed eyes of arctic blue. He could feel the cold running down his spine when he removed his hand, lacing his fingers through the blue strands of hair framing Senbo’s face. “Things like this only happen if you think it will happen, understand?”
Senbo could not help but smile. A weak gesture as Hokori moved away and he slid off the desk to stand without aid. “Hokori, it’s all I ever think about.”
Hokori moved, placing his hands upon the man’s biceps for reassurance. He bent his knees, keeping their eyes level. “I promise that no matter what happens, one of us will get Tsumi.”
“I hate promises.” Senbo mumbled, nodding all the same. “I just-”
The door opened and none other than Tsumi appeared. Her eyes lit up when she saw Hokori and Senbo and she moved, running to them with open arms. She hugged their legs, keeping them stuck together when Yujin appeared.
“She wanted to find you two.”
“Thank you, Yujin.” Hokori smiled, eyes flickering from the girl at his leg to the nurse standing in the doorway. He noticed The Chairman’s son hovering over Yujin’s shoulder and figured there was a story there. One which he would snoop for later.
Senbo snickered under his breath; all prior paranoia gone as he reached down to take Tsumi into his arms. She was more than happy to cling to the man and stared at Hokori with wide eyes of colour. In response to her staring, Hokori reached out to ruffle her long silver hair and Tsumi made a small sound, smiling before burying her face into Senbo’s neck.
“I was about to start some physicals.” Senbo spoke up, walking over to Yujin with Tsumi in his arms. “Yoku was going to be doing them with me, but since you’re here, we can get it done now. Tsumi and Chini can go first.”
Tokyo, Japan. 2014, February
Tsumi was not the type of person to start conversations.
Ever since she could remember, she and Chini had never been the closest of people. Back when they had met, things were scattered for everyone. She had often wondered that, maybe if Himitsu had turned out to be Chini’s partner, they would have gotten along better.
It was hardly something she could mull over now. Himitsu was dead. Besides, while she had lost half of her Match, Yujin was still alive and Chini would not face the same fate of being alone. A Familiar without a Sorcerer was sad, not even Tsumi would wish that upon him; especially at the cost of Yujin’s life.
“Where are we going?”
Chini’s grasp upon the steering wheel tightened for just a second before he turned a sharp corner, raising the car upon the street’s curb. He swore under his breath, albeit in his own language, and steadied the vehicle best to his abilities. Whether cursing in French was a reflex or for the sake of decency, it was hard to tell. Personally, Tsumi believed it was the former.
“Where are we going?” She repeated, turning her head to look at him this time.
Judging by the stern look upon Chini’s face, he had been intending to remain silent, no matter how many times Tsumi was prepared to repeat herself. It was a childish game he could not risk to play, since he knew Tsumi had the balls to open the door and jump out. Then again, the matter involved Yujin, so Tsumi would probably stay seated; but she would get her answer one way or another.
“Look at this,” Chini murmured, removing one hand from the steering wheel to reach into his pocket. The action caused the car to sway and he quickly grasped the wheel with both hands, cursing yet again. “Ah, reach into my pocket.”
“What?” Tsumi blinked dubiously, gaze flickering from the man’s face to his trousers.
“Reach into my damn pocket!” Chini snipped, making another turn around the next corner.
Tsumi swayed this time, failing to notice the upcoming turn. Her hands supported herself upon the dash, but her temple knocked the window beside her, and she pouted, pressing a palm to the slowly forming bump.
“Reach into my front pocket and take what’s inside.” Chini ordered for the third time, unable to hide his smug smile from Tsumi’s little injury. “Just be quick.”
Frowning, Tsumi moved to reach out and slip her fingers into the front of Chini’s jean pocket. She noted the way he moved, awkwardly keeping his eyes on the road, and shuffling as Tsumi managed to pull out a phone. She could only blink.
“Well done, Tsumi. Top marks.” Chini mocked. “Just check it’s history calls.”
Tsumi sighed, opening the phone and her eyes softened at the home-screen wallpaper. It was an old photo; specifically, the day her Yuugen profile picture had been taken. She had been uneasy about being in the shot and Yujin had suggested he sit with her for one picture just to show here there was nothing bad about it. It turned out Chini was a lot worse with a camera than she was and Yujin had no choice but to sit in on his as well.
One of those very pictures was staring up at her. Yujin stood, holding Tsumi in his arms and Chini was hovering behind them. Not exactly the ideal picture for a professional academy ID. It was far more important than that.
“Kokutan?” Chini glanced over to the girl, having to slow down since he had come across traffic.
“Nothing.” Tsumi mumbled, finally opening the call history. Her eyes narrowed at the top number, the only number without a contact name. “The academy?”
Chini responded with a stiff nod and slowly drove through town. Tsumi blinked in her attempts to process the pieces being handed to her. Yujin was in a coma, the doctors could not find out why, and the last number he had called was from Yuugen.
“It’s just like the time you fell into a coma.” Tsumi mumbled under her breath.
“That’s what I was thinking.” Chini replied through grit teeth. “You remember who put me in that coma all those years ago?”
Tsumi could only nod, closing Yujin’s phone with a sharp snap. “Chikai Chikatta.”