The next day come and Domon wasn’t the only displeased one. Even Recca wasn’t very happy. Tetsuya had a way with the girls that made them enjoy his company more that anyone else in Hokage. Tetsuya was easy-going, charming and witty. No matter how brave he was in the face of death, Recca absolutely hated the roller coaster that Yanagi loved. Domon didn’t like it either and the two “kids” along with Ganko (who was too short but wanted to sit…) waited on the ground as they watched the rest have fun. Even Mikagami was smiling a little.
By lunchtime, Domon and Recca were like grey looming clouds despite the fact that it was bright and cheery that day. Tetsuya was like a perfect friend. He loved drawing comics like Yanagi, working on puzzles like Koganei, engaged in witty talk with Koganei and Fuuko and got along easily with Ganko. He even loved the history of ninja and samurai and things of the same sort that interest Kagero and could carry a proper conversation with Mikagami. Too perfect… he was nice to Recca and Domon despite the treatment he received from the two. Plus he was damn good-looking.
Before they knew it, the whole Hokage team was spending the rest of their days with Tetsuya as their tour guide. On the second last day of their vacation, Tetsuya asked if they wanted a tour of LA’s factory outlets to go shopping. Everyone, with the exception of the two then looming black thunderclouds, agreed to it and decided to meet at the factory outlet nearest their hotel.
At the factory outlet, the big group split much to the delight of the two ready to burst thunderclouds. However when Recca and Domon learnt that Fuuko and Yanagi were going with Tetsuya, they blew up in different corners before deciding to follow the trio. Tetsuya, they learnt along the way, had terrific fashion sense for it was another of his passion.
It wasn’t long before the group met for lunch and dispersed again in their small groups to do their own shopping. Towards the end of the shopping trip, Fuuko and Yanagi were rather pleased with themselves. Recca and Domon however, were still burdening a hatred for Tetsuya. The small group of five walked until Tetsuya looked up from a conversation with Fuuko to realize they were in a rather deserted part of the factory outlet.
“Girls, we better get out of here. It’s not very safe in this part-”
“Well, well, well… Jonathan, so nice to see you again,” A voice commented in English and an American of big build stepped out. Fuuko frowned immediately and stepped forward but Tetsuya put his arm out and approached the huge muscular figure.
“I have no times for games with you, Scott. I’m sorry for intruding in your area but we’ll be going as soon as we can,” Tetsuya replied with a tone of sarcasm. He turned to usher the rest out when more people joined in.
“C’mon Jon, what are good friends for when ya can’t pause to hold a conversation with ‘em?” Another person asked. Tetsuya turned to his shoes, his face becoming dark.
“Good friends? What good friends? Good friends don’t betray each other, Richie. They don’t.”
“I didn’t betray ya, Jon. Ya just made a mistake by not joining us!” Richie spat out and attacked Tetsuya. Tetsuya remained where he was and turned around at that point to slap Richie away harshly, causing him to fall to the ground. The other people jumped forward to attack. Tetsuya attacked back but was kicked in the stomach.
“Recca! Domon! Take the girls… Fuuko?” Tetsuya asked when he saw Recca, Domon and Fuuko fighting back with him. Recca was guarding Yanagi. “Fuuko! Get out of here! It’s too dangerous!”
“If this is danger, let me taste it,” Fuuko said with a grin on her face before kicking a man away. Tetsuya shook his head as he punched a man repeatedly before kicking him into a wall. The man fell down unconscious but the attacks on Tetsuya didn’t cease. Yanagi was attacked and she fell down unconscious too. Tetsuya got worried. “Recca, take Yanagi away! It’s too dangerous if you have to guard your back and hers! You’ll get hurt!”
“I won’t!” Recca yelled back stubbornly but was punched for the millionth time in the face. Tetsuya ran over and elbowed the man, who was hitting Recca, in the stomach as hard as he could before glaring at Recca. “Go! Don’t you love Yanagi? Protect her, you bloody moron! I’ll try to cover your back before you run! Now go!”
Recca nodded and scooped Yanagi up before running off. Tetsuya was kicked in the back but he swerved and punched his attacker. A funny noise made him turn. Domon happily uprooted a tree and threw it at three men. They collapsed atop the man lying by the wall. Tetsuya couldn’t help grinning and found a sudden boost to continue fighting. Soon, everyone was down… or so they thought. Recca had found Kagero and passed Yanagi to her without a word before running back to the trio to see if they needed help. Just as he ran back…
“Fuuko! Watch out!” Recca yelled, ready to jump forward. A man had staggered up with a wooden plank and was about to hit Fuuko’s stomach as she turned that crucial moment. Recca was too slow. Fuuko flew back from the impact and crashed into a tree… only to see Tetsuya lying on her legs, bleeding in the stomach. Domon crashed down on the man. “That’s. For. Hitting. My. Girl. You. Bastard!”
When he looked up, he saw Fuuko fingering Tetsuya’s
stomach wound carefully. Tetsuya’s sunglasses were balancing on the tip
of his nose. She looked to Domon with tears in her eyes. Her mouth was
slightly open as she looked at her friends. Recca kicked up the plank that
the man was holding. There were three blood covered nails embedded at one
end, the end used to hit Tetsuya.
When Tetsuya came to, he was lying on a bed in a luxurious room topless with Fuuko looking at him with tears in her eyes. He gently stretched out a hand to cradle her cheek in. “Fuuko, why are you crying?”
“You woke… you finally woke…”
“Yes, I’m awake… what time is it?”
“Almost eleven pm,” Fuuko said, tears still continually streaming down her cheeks. Tetsuya grew worried and tried to get up but a pain in his bandaged abdominal slowed him down. (Curious and more curious… not something Recca avid watchers and readers would expect…) He managed to his feet and Fuuko tried to steady him amidst her tears. Tetsuya gripped Fuuko’s shoulders tightly. “Yanagi. Where’s Yanagi?”
Fuuko led him to the hotel room next to hers and into the bedroom where Yanagi was lying on, her face as pale as death. Recca was sitting by the bed with her, his face buried in his arms. There was no one else in the room. Tetsuya shook his head and turned to look at Fuuko in the eyes. “This can’t be. Fuuko, tell me this isn’t true. Please Fuuko… Don’t tell me this is true… She’s going to be okay, isn’t she? … F*ck it! I hate myself! Fuuko, do you hate me? She’s going to make it right? She is, isn’t she, Fuuko?”
Fuuko continued crying despite Tetsuya’s repeated questioning. After a while, tears poured out with a vengeance and Fuuko would have collapsed to her knees like a kite that lost its wind if Tetsuya wasn’t holding her. Gently, Tetsuya hugged Fuuko to his body. He turned to Recca who was looking at him. He put Fuuko down on an armchair and walked to Recca.
“I’m sorry. I am very sorry, Recca,” with that and his head hung low, Tetsuya fell to his knees in front of Recca. Recca looked at Tetsuya before helping him up. “Don’t bother. I didn’t protect hime like I was supposed to. It isn’t your fault. It’s mine.”
“Don’t you hate me, Recca? I can see it in your eyes, that jealous rage building up in you whenever Yanagi talks to me. Aren’t you mad? Don’t you feel like hitting me?” a punch sent Tetsuya sailing into a chair.
“Yes! I hate you! You know that? What do you have that is better than me? You have no idea how many times I’ve asked myself that question! And you know the answer? It’s everything! Everything you have, you idiot!” Recca raised another fist to punch Tetsuya again but Fuuko held his fits back. “He’s bleeding again. Please don’t.”
True enough, blood was seeping onto the white bandage again. Fuuko, still tearing, helped Tetsuya up onto the chair. He was breathing heavily and with much difficulty. Recca looked at Tetsuya before returning his attention to Yanagi. “I’m letting him off because he saved you, Fuuko. I’m letting him off because… because he gave my hime an enjoyable last week of her vacation in LA. I couldn’t have done it. She wouldn’t have enjoyed it without him bringing us around. So I’m letting him off… I’m letting him off too because… because he’s a friend. Friends forgive and forget.”
The next morning, Kagero came to check on Yanagi with the rest of the Hokage, only to see Recca sitting next to Yanagi’s bed, his face buried in his arms, sleeping. Tetsuya was also sleeping with a blanket over his body, his back against the wall. Fuuko’s back was on the wall too, her head resting on his broad shoulder. Domon blew up nicely and woke the trio up, only to have Mikagami and Koganei throw him out of the room.
“She isn’t up yet?”
“No,” Recca muttered and turned to them, only to see Mikagami with a small smile on his face. “What’s with that smile, you freak?”
“You obviously didn’t stay up all night, did you?”
“I’m no robot. I get tired.”
“Hang on, hime… so what’s your problem with me sleeping… hime?” Recca turned to the bed to see Yanagi’s brown eyes staring into his.
Yanagi smiled softly. “Yes, Recca?”