Mitsuhide walked back to his area of the main office. Though he could hear the others, he was intent on making this new file of how to deal with a pregnant woman. He had no idea what to do or say that could help her with any of that.
He overheard what was being said behind him. “I have a house open and ready for her,” Hideyoshi said to Nobunaga. “It is one of the nicer ones. I told Masamune to go and start stocking the place with food and ready-made meals for her. He is on his way to the location now.”
“Good.” Nobunaga said as he was pondering what to do next, “I think Ieyasu was planning on keeping her here for a few days while he waited to cast her up. So we have a little time on that front.”
“Sir, with all due respect, I think maybe someone other than Akechi should be the one to look after her,” Hideyoshi said, and the room fell silent. “We all know he really has no bedside manner, and we are dealing with a young pregnant woman.”
“And whom do you think is better for the job, Hideyoshi?” Nobunaga asked as he looked at the other man.
“Anyone else,” Hideyoshi answered quickly. Mitsuhdie wanted to stand and punch hin in the face at that very second. It was an overcoming need he had right then.
“I stand by my first idea. Mitsuhide will watch over the girl.” Nobunaga stated in his imperious voice and tone that often was the only thing that ended fights between the group. Mitsuhide left of a breath that he was holding. He knew Nobunaga had something up his sleeve, but he was holding the cards close.
“If you say so, boss,” Hideyoshi said as he went back to his desk and started to go through some upcoming work the company was going to do.
Mitsuhdie started his research, and soon he was overwhelmed with papers on his desk. He had no idea where to start. He did not like the idea he was in over his head with a girl who he didn’t even know. He had to chuckle at the thought. He then decided if anything he would think of her as a daughter. Maybe that would work. Technically it was possible she could have been a child of his. It wasn’t probable, though. It was simply just a mindset he had to get into. Otherwise, he would feel himself going under the papers that swamped his area. She was a beautiful young woman who was nearly twelve years his junior. He knew he shouldn’t think like that. Not when it was a case now. Not when she was already hurting. It wasn’t like she would ever see him as anything other than maybe a friend.
Even that would be too much to ask for. He had to find the right mindset, though. A father figure was one thing he never thought he would ever have to step into. He had no idea how to do that. It wasn’t like he had an example. This was not going to be fun to figure out.
“Have you seen her?” Nobunaga asked as he stood behind Mitsuhide.
“Yes,” Mitsuhide said. “I just talked to Yasu about her conditions.”
“And?” Nobunaga prompted.
“And what?” Mitsuhide countered.
“Do you think you will have a problem?” Nobunaga asked.
“Not with her,” Mitsuhdie responded. “Just trying to figure out how exactly to handle all of this, though.”
“And that is?” Nobunaga asked as he looked around the desk to all the papers.
“Research on pregnant women,” Mitsuhdie said, and Nobunaga chuckled.
“Sorry to tell you, my friend, that won’t help you,” Nobunaga said with a chuckle that filled the air. “Every woman is different, and every time is different. There is no real answer here to research, but watching her will give you the answers you need.”
“Are you sure I am the right one for this?” Mitsuhdie asked. Though he didn’t want to relinquish his place as her guard, he thought maybe that one of the others who already had children of their own would be better for the job.
“Akechi, you are the best at watching people. That is what Rine will need for a while. Just someone to watch out for her.” Nobunaga said as he walked away. Mitsuhdie knew then the other man had some sort of master plan that he was not going to let anyone else in on. “Guys, I think it is time to go for the night. I understand Yasu is planning on staying the night and probably Mitsuhdie as well. Go home to your families. We still have other work to do in the morning not connected to Rine.”
As the others all followed him out the door. The building got silent again as it often was. Mitsuhdie looked over the papers again and then her file he had started. This was the beginning of something he knew he didn’t understand, but he would see where it took him. He was the best of the group at seeing things. If anyone could pick up on her cues, it would be him.
He walked down the hallway to the exam room. Yasu was in there talking to her as he set up a few monitors. “I will down the hall. I have a six-month-old at home who keeps up us all night, so I do need to get some sleep. I will be monitoring you in the meantime.”
“I don’t think she can hear you,” Mitsuhdie said as he smiled at the man. “I forgot you had the little porcupine at home. How is he?”
“Tiring,” Ieyasu stated as he yawned. “I think I will be getting more sleep tonight than I have since he was born.”
“I will stay here with her,” Mitsuhdie said as he looked at her.
“Are you sure?” Ieyasu asked.
“Yeah. I have a lot of time since you know I will be watching over her. It isn’t like I don’t have to get used to the idea.” Mitsuhdie said as he watched the other man as he shook his head and then walked down the hall to the set of small rooms that they used for overnight rooms when they had to stay over in the office. Mitsuhdie could have gone to one of those. Instead, he thought it would be easier to be in here with her. “So it seems we are going to get to know each other, Rine.”
Mitsuhdie was reading over her file again for any other details he could see in the file itself. Though he scanned it at least four times, it seemed he could spot something small and new every time. He wasn’t looking at her when she blinked open her eyes. “Who are you?”
The papers in his hands went flying to the floor as he looked at her. “You’re awake?” he asked as he looked at her, “You aren’t supposed to be.”
“Where am I?” she asked softly.
“Rine, I am Mitsuhdie Akechi. Do you remember what happened tonight?” Mitsuhide asked softly as he moved his chair towards her. She didn’t flinch at the movement, and he was grateful for that. The last thing he wanted to do would be to scare her.
“He hit me again,” Rine said softly. “This time, I made a getaway. Tell me I got away. Please?”
“You did, Rine. You are safe here. He can not get to you here.” Mitsuhide said as he reached up and touched her hand gently. He was surprising even himself with his tone in his voice with her. He was not a gentle man. He knew that, but he was trying to be for this one tiny female. “You made it to the park next to the school. You collapsed in front of us as we were playing basketball. Do you remember that?”
“I saw you.” She said softly as she looked at him.
“Good,” Mitsuhdie said. “We run a company that helps people do things. My boss has decided that you are our good case for right now.”
“What does that mean?” Rine asked as she looked around the room.
“It means you will be protected while you heal,” Mitsuhdie said.
“Did he hurt the baby?” Rine asked as she had tears in her eyes.
“No. She seems to be fine, according to our doctor.” Mitsuhdie said.
“Good.” She said, “I never meant for her to happen. He can never know about her. He will kill her.”
“Not on my watch,” Mitsuhide said as he gently squeezed Rine’s tiny hand. “I will be right back. I want to tell the doctor you are awake. He thought you would be out for a day or so.”
“You’re coming back, right?” Rine asked.
“Of course,” Mitsuhdie said as he looked down at her. “I will be gone for a moment.”
“Okay,” Rine said softly.
Mitsuhdie was surprised at the way she was acting. Though it was plain to see she was beaten and the attack would have been classified as brutal for anyone, she was acting almost normal. She showed no fear of a strange man being next to her. The fact she was in a strange place was nothing as well. It went against everything he knew about abused women. He knocked on the door he saw Yasu go into.
“What?” Yasu called out.
“She is awake,” Mitsuhdie said.
“What?” Yasu asked as he opened the door.
“She is awake and talking,” Mitsuhdie said.
“How in the hell?” Yasu said as he threw on his shoes and walked back to the room. “Well, now this is a surprise.”
“Who are you?” Rine asked as she looked in the back of him and saw Mitsuhdie. She was willing herself not to panic.
“I am Doctor Tokugawa.” He stated, “Most people just call me Yasu. I will be taking care of you for your stay with us. Do you have a tolerance for pain medication?”
“I do.” She said. “I was in a car accident two years ago. They had me on some pretty strong stuff then. Nothing now seems to touch any pain. I just kind of have to will it away.”
“I see,” Yasu said as he looked at her. He could see why the man behind him was slightly shook up at her behavior though he had not said anything. “Well, I will tell you, Miss Tines, you are lucky to be alive.”
“I know that already.” She replied. “I thought I was sure as dead tonight.”
“Would you care to explain how you got so injured?” Yasu asked.
“He hit me,” Rine said. “Dave, he just flew off the handle again because I needed gas money.”
“And he did all of this tonight?” Yasu asked.
“He did. I had to pretend that I was passed out. When he left me on the floor, I moved and hid to the back of the house. There was a storage area that he had all of his tools in. I hid in a locked closet. I waited for him to leave, and when he did, I packed a bag and left.” Rine said.
“On a broken leg, no less,” Yasu said.
“I didn’t feel it,” Rine said. “I needed to getaway. He didn’t know about the baby. He would have killed both of us if he knew.”
“I see,” Yasu said. “Is that why you were starving yourself?”
“I wasn’t,” Rine said as she looked at him.
“But you are so underweight,” Yasu said flatly.
“I wasn’t starving myself. I was only able to eat what he gave me.” Rine said. “I did eat more while I was at work. I knew the baby needed it. I was trying.”
“You don’t have to worry now,” Yasu said softly. “We will figure this out. For right now I have to ask you, don’t move too much, please. You have four breaks in your arms and one on your leg. I have them set and in splints. As soon as I can cast you when the swelling goes down. He will move you to a house where you can recover. Right now, I think you should rest.”
“Resting is not something I am used too,” Rine said.
“Well, you should try it. Nothing bad will happen to you here.” Yasu said as he walked out of the room, looking at Mitsuhide as he did. They both knew this young woman was more than just a victim of abuse. It was almost like she had been programmed for it. What saved her was the child she was carrying. That seemed to be her concern now.