Scene IX: You Took The Time
Kanagawa, Yuugen. Japan. 2005, July
“The arrangements for the upcoming term have been accepted by Dotai.” Yoku sighed, adjusting her spectacles. She read off a clipboard, addressing her fellow councilmen for another session in one of the empty classrooms.
Okui raised his hand swiftly before Yoku could continue. “I take it The Chairman will not be with us today-”
Just as those words began to fall past his lips, the classroom door opened and Yokubo stepped in, accompanied by Chini. All eyes fell upon the two instantly, the atmosphere delving into something of tension and unease.
“So sorry for being late.” Yokubo missed the obvious discomfort in his son’s face as he placed a hand upon his shoulder and urged him to step inside and find a spot to sit. “I thought it would good experience for Chini if he attended the meetings with us.”
“What a splendid idea.” Yoku’s lips pursed together before a gentle, sweet smile crossed her face. “You can take over.”
Yokubo cleared his throat and took the head of the classroom as Yoku moved to sit behind Okui. His hand landed upon the forms and documents Yoku had dropped on the desk and he shifted through them before holding them up, brow raised.
“What are these?”
“The forms for the students and Covens this upcoming term.” Okui replied swiftly.
“Why is my name not on here?” Yokubo frowned, shifting though the sheets. Everyone else’s names were lined against their students and Coven. Everyone but him.
“Simple, really.” Yoku cut in. “You never signed the papers I gave you, nor did you request anyone to join your Coven. Therefore, only the rest of us shall be teaching this term.”
“I suppose that’s for the best. At least I’ll have more time to focus on administration work and my projects.” Yokubo fell silent, mentally cursing himself. “Alright, the topic for today is…?”
Gekido delivered a hefty sigh, hauling himself to his feet before carrying a bunch of reports onto Yoku’s desk. She wrinkled her nose at the files and delicately plucked one of the sheets to read from. Everyone was quiet when she spoke, naming the objectives in question.
“There have been various inquiries regarding Yujin Toi, specifically his past before working here. Even Dotai is beginning to question if Yujin will continue to work here when the next term begins.”
Chini raised his brows, turning to meet Yoku. “Why is, uh, Toi being asked of?” He strained, picking his words slowly.
Yokubo cleared his throat first. “Yujin lost his wife and children in a car accident nearly a year ago.”
Chini swallowed heavily, parting his rosy lips to speak up once more. “And you question this why?”
Noting the Chairman’s hesitation, Okui piped up. “Well, you see young Chini, Yujin had been driving the car when the accident happened. Since he survived with only a minor head injury, he felt guilty for the death of his family and cut off ties with all his friends and moved to Kanagawa. The man we know as Toi Yujin is not the same he was a year ago. Understand?” He cooed, as if addressing a child.
Chini blinked. “But why are people… asking, ugh—if he stay?”
“He tried to kill himself.”
Everyone’s attention shifted to where Senbo sat in the back of the room beside Hokori. His bright eyes were soft when Chini looked at him and despite Hokori’s hand griping his knee from beneath the desk, Senbo pressed on.
“Without his family, Yujin fell into a heavy depression. He’s attempted suicide twice since the accident. We try to keep him busy with his job and he has yet to do anything for the past four months. Since you came along, and since he’s been looking after Tsumi, he seems different. Better.”
Chini had balled his hands into fists before he stood. “Excuse me.” He muttered, storming out of the room, and pulling the door shut with a force loud enough to knock Yoku’s papers to the ground. All eyes turned back to Senbo.
“Way to go,” Gekido snorted. “Takes one to know one.”
Hokori had moved first, but Senbo’s hand was holding him back this time. “Someone had to tell him.” He snipped, crossing his arms across his chest after Hokori had sat back down and Yoku resumed the topics for today’s meeting.
Yujin was more than a little surprised when Chini stormed into his office. His eyes turned wide when the book he was reading was yanked out of his hands and tossed across the room. Neither cared to see where it landed as they were too busy holding gazes as silence fell upon heavy shoulders.
Chini moved first. His hands shot out to grab one of Yujin’s arms and tug up his sleeve with a swift motion. Much to his horror, he found numerous scars decorating the inside of the man’s wrist. Yujin cursed under his breath and pulled himself free, quickly pulling his sleeve back down.
Yujin shifted on his swivel chair, unable to risk the chance at angering the boy any more than he already had. He could not force himself to look up and stared at Chini’s shoulder before the teen began pacing back and forth, running a hand through his purple hair.
“Stupid.” Chini eventually muttered.
“I hardly see why you should even concern yourself with something that isn’t your problem.” Yujin said, standing from his chair.
Chini was quick to stop the blond from rising and reached out, grabbing the chair’s arms. It slid back on its wheels until it collided with the nearest bed. Chini kept a straight face the whole time, hands gripping the chair in place. He narrowed his eyes down at the man beneath him, messy hair galling past red eyes.
“You stupid. Weak. I not think you be so.. so.. stupid!” Chini shook his head, forcing his words out between frustration and grit teeth. “You lose people. I lose people. Everyone lose people, but we do not lose ourselves!”
Yujin’s eyes gradually widened as Chini spoke. It made no difference that the sentence was poorly delivered or that it was being spoken by The Chairman’s son. No-one had bothered to even try and talk to him about his issues since he was discharged from the hospital for slitting his wrists. Everyone just told him that things would get better. What a load of crap. But this? This was different.
“You understand you matter?! That little girl, Tsumi! You matter to Tsumi!” Chini added, shaking the chair Yujin sat in.
“Tsumi…?” Yujin repeated the name softly. The image of the girl with silver hair crossed his mind and he felt his chest swell at the simple thought of her. It was odd to think he had grown attached to her in such a short amount of time, but it was true.
“Tsumi.” Chini nodded, finally releasing the chair. He stepped back, expression still full of concern and not entirely convinced his words had caught on. “You understand, yes?”
Yujin took a deep breath in but chose to stay silent. His eyes dropped to the floor. He was ashamed of himself, for acting like such a burden on this kid and he crossed his arms as if Chini could see right through his sleeves. He could feel tears in his eyes. His head was fuzzy.
“Fine. You think you are worthless, yes? Then I am too.” Chini spat, turning on his heel. “Stupid.”
Yujin felt his shoulders tremble the moment Chini disappeared and he sank back against his seat. He glanced around the room hopelessly, completely lost on what he should do or think. Not even the book tossed across the room was worth his attention now. No, instead of getting up, Yujin gave a small whine into the air before crying. His hands covered his face as tears began to trail down his cheeks. It had been far too long since he allowed himself to cry. He was convinced he had no more tears to shed.
As usual, Yujin slept in the infirmary. He had been given a room somewhere on campus, but he never fancied walking the campus if he could stay here. It had been an hour since the lights went off and everyone had retired to bed.
All considering, Yujin had slept well. Right up until a loud clatter of doors and a none-too-quiet-curse was heard from down the hall. The noise stirred Yujin enough to make him wake up and with a heavy sigh, he peeled himself off the infirmary bed. He was unsure how to feel when he pulled back the door and found Chini leant against the wall with a bottle in his hands.
Yujin stepped out into the hall. “Drunk?” He raised a brow with disbelief, dismissing their prior encounter as he watched Chini stumble back, hiding himself in the darkness of the hall.
“…Oui.” Chini murmured quietly.
Yujin hardly needed a French dictionary to know Chini had said yes. He moved forward, his caring instincts taking over as he reached for the boy’s arm. “Come on.”
“Non!” Chini snapped, weakly shoving the man away before he could be touched. “Non!”
Yujin grit his teeth and lashed out, grabbing Chini’s arm before he could disappear. He yanked him forward. “Listen, kid. I’m not in the mood for fighting so-” His words stuck to his throat as the infirmary light washed over Chini’s face.
He was bloodied and bruised. His left eye was purple, swollen and red. His bottom lip was twice the size it should have been with a large split, pouring blood down his chin. Both cheeks were a horrid shade of purple and blue. Yujin noticed the way his clothes were ruffled and ripped.
Chini slipped free and turned to the infirmary, he limped against the obvious splatter of blood seeping from his left knee. Gripping his side, he carried the bottle with his free hand. Despite the fact it was empty, he kept taking imaginary swigs from it.
Yujin moved out of the shadowy halls and closed the door behind them. No words were shared as he began to gather gauze and alcohol wipes while Chini awkwardly sat down on the bed Yujin had been sleeping on.
“What happened?” Yujin asked quietly, wheeling his chair over and adjusting the height to meet the boy on eye level. “Did someone in Yuugen do this to you?”
Asides a small hiss of pain, Chini shrugged in response and remained silent. Yujin’s jaw tensed, deciding to pursue what happened when Chini sobered up. He soaked the gauze in alcohol and began cleaning the gashes on the boy’s face. Chini was surprisingly cooperative, save for a few curses and winces. Yujin could not blame him, alcohol wipes stung like a bitch on the best of days. The gaping hole above his left eye needed stitches and Yujin quietly explained what he was going to do before grabbing a needle and sutures.
Once his face was treated, Chini moved, shrugging off his coat. Yujin had rolled his eyes at the comical attempt and tugged the empty bottle out of Chini’s hands; much to the teen’s disappointment. After that, he hiked Chini’s shirt up over his head and dropped the ripped, bloody laundry on the floor. A visible flinch crossed Yujin’s face when he saw Chini’s chest and stomach covered in black, purple, and blue bruises. Even Chini seemed uneasy with the appearance and began to mumble in French as he poked the edge of his bruises.
“Don’t do that.” Yujin grunted. Chini huffed before he leant back, setting his palms against the mattress to allow Yujin full access to his chest and stomach.
There was only so much he could for a possible fractured rib. He rubbed lotion across the bruises once he had cleaned the blood and dressed the cuts before finally wrapping a thick bandage around Chini’s chest for support. After that, he dug out a sling for his shoulder and helped him lie down. Only after Yujin had offered a few painkillers, Chini spoke.
“Family… you?” He frowned at his own words, unable to create the sentence he had hoped for. Wet, beaten lips tensed and he tried again. “Your family… what were they, ugh, like?”
Yujin paused as he tidied the room. He had planned to ignore the question and continue his business with the hopes Chini would fall asleep. But he could feel those eyes on his back even after the room was cleaned and he had washed the blood from his hands. Yujin turned to face Chini, slowly lowering himself on the opposite bed.
“They were perfect. My wife, Shiawa, was an amazing mother. She was loyal, kind. She never raised her voice at the children. I had a son a little younger than you. His name was Za. He and my daughter Owari would argue all the damn time but would always be there for each other. No matter what.” Yujin pulled the photograph from his pocket – never having changed his clothes – and handed it over to Chini.
Chini moved with care as he took the photograph and stared at the happy faces. It was strange to see Yujin so full of love and life. It was a genuine smile. A genuine family. He handed the picture back after a matter of minutes.
“Mama never spoke of him,” Chini began, tilting his head to the side. It was obvious who he was referring to and Yujin nodded. “She raised me all alone. We were very poor, and meals were small. No-one liked us very much. I was always angry at him for never showing his face. He was with Mama for only a little while before he left. One day, I found a picture of him and burnt it in our fire. Mama was unhappy with me. Now I am here.”
Yujin’s lips curved into the smallest of smirks. “You’ve always been reckless, hm?”
“Mama said I was reckless. I guess so.” Chini shrugged, holding his arm out and nodded to his own wrists. “Mama said these would help, but she was wrong.”
Yujin looked down Chini’s arm and stared at the thick, black tattoos laced around his pale wrists. He was unable to make out what they said, something in Latin, he presumed. Now that Chini had kicked his shoes off after laying down, he noticed the same tattoos peeking from the hem of his trousers, around his ankles.
“Mama was, ugh, religious? Yes, religious. She thought a demon was possessing me and making me reckless, so she made me have these to keep the demons out.” Chini pulled his arm back, resting it against his slung shoulder. “She was an idiot.”
“Do you miss her?” Yujin asked, adjusting the back of the bed to keep him upright as he got comfortable.
“Yes.” Chini paused, turning to look up at the ceiling. “I miss her very much.”
Senbo sat alone in Yuugen’s Laboratory. Though everyone had gone to bed – except Neko, who had just stopped by to give him a cup of hot chocolate – he tended to pull all-nighters working on various projects.
He sat in the back of the room, settled upon a high stool that overlooked a white desk. There were no windows, and the floor was made up of clear, polished tiles that mirrored anything above them. The walls were made of bleak, grey stone; which were shrouded by the cabinets, sinks and fridges strewn across the place; coupled with the LED lights that shone above each desk and counter. Everything was as clean as expected, despite being so far underground.
Senbo worked better alone. He could concentrate freely with no distractions and he sighed, peering into the microscope on his desk before jotting numerous notes and reaching for his mug of chocolate goodness. He took a long, satisfying sip and set the cup down just as the door creaked across from him.
“Hello?” He raised a brow when no response came, despite the audible footsteps drawing closer. “I know you’re there-”
“Ah, sorry for the disturbance.” A swift voice cut the rest of Senbo’s sentence and a man appeared from behind the counters, no longer hidden by the random storage and cabinets blocking the door.
“Chikai,” Senbo sighed, turning back to his telescope. “If you wanted Yoku, you just missed her.”
Chikai shook his head. “I passed her on my way here. In fact, she sent me to come and pick something up for her. Something she may have forgotten. Do you have any idea what she could mean?”
“I don’t really know what she could want. No-one takes things from the lab, it’s the rules.” Senbo hopped off his stool and moved across the room to kneel on the ground, peering under a perfectly clean desk; Yoku’s desk. “But she does tend to drop things, so… Ah! This must be it.”
Chikai smiled widely when Senbo stood and handed a glittering earring over. He accepted it with thanks and slipped it into his pocket. “I’ll let you get back to your work, goodnight.”
“Yeah, night.” Senbo mumbled, shifting back to his stool.
He rubbed the back of his neck once he was seated and allowed a long yawn to escape his lips before returning to his work. He continued to jot and examine his specimens, then stood to collect a different sample. He stopped dead in his tracks when he faced the tray of vials behind him. They were all a from a strain of solutions he had created himself, poisonous enough to put someone in an indefinite coma if someone were to take a dose. And one of the vials were missing.