Chapter 15

(Monday, April 5th, after 23:15)

ZHCh15“I’m here,” said Maseo, walking into Asami’s penthouse living room.  His shirt was still open.  Asami was looking out at the glittering lights of the city and the full moon beyond.  Three men in suits were sprawled on the living room floor.  It appeared they’d been knocked out.

Asami glanced at him then looked back out the window.  He wasn’t smoking. He was dressed in a very white shirt, black trousers, no vest, and no tie.

Maseo looked back down at the three men.  “Aren’t those your men?” he asked.  He bent down to check one of them.

“Leave them.  They’ll be fine.”

Maseo stood up.  “Did you do this?”

“I had no choice.”  He watched Maseo as he came closer, looking at him up and down.  “You smell like you’re aroused.  It’s practically pouring off you.”  He stepped closer and pulled Maseo’s shirt collar away from his neck.  “Nice marks.  Who have you been with?”

Maseo pulled away from Asami’s grasp.  He hastily began buttoning up his shirt.  He knew his face was still flushed.  “No, that’s not important now.  What’s important is you called me.  It’s good to see you, Ryuichi.  It’s been a very long time.”

Asami said nothing.  His eyes were guarded and slightly narrowed.  Maseo knew him well enough to know he was hiding pain, maybe even a little fear.  He reached towards him.

Asami flinched back. “Don’t try to make me feel better.”

“You’re very stressed.  Let me,” said Maseo, “Let me help you.  It will only take a few minutes. Just a gentle touch.”

“No,” said Asami.

“You’ll feel a lot better after—”


Maseo blinked and put his hands in his pockets.  Asami closed his eyes, putting his fingers on his temples, and turned away.  Maseo had never seen him do that before.  Asami seemed smaller, like his tremendous presence had been diminished.

Asami turned back towards him, dropping his hands.  “I need your help.  I’m going somewhere and I need you to come with me.”

“Why wouldn’t they go with you?” Maseo indicated the men on the floor.

“There was an attempt on my life today.  None of my men are allowing me to go anywhere.”  Asami stepped towards him.  “Just do this for me.”

Maseo stared at Asami, not believing what he was seeing.  Asami appeared to be agitated and barely able to contain it.  He was actually sweating a little.  There was the barest hint of redness around his eyes, a sign that he hadn’t been sleeping.

“Does it have to be tonight?  We can—”

“I have to go now.  Right now.  I have to—.” Asami stepped forward again.  “When have I ever asked you for anything, Maseo?  We’ve known each other for more than 15 years.  Other than the debt you owed me, have I ever asked you for anything?”  He was almost pleading.

Maseo frowned.  He almost reached out to touch him again but managed to stop himself.  “No, you haven’t.  Of course, I’ll come with you.  Now, where are we going?”

Asami turned away.  “Thanks.  I owe you now.  We’re going to a building in Minato Ward.  It’s down the street from the warehouse where we destroyed Andou and his men.  Just to see.  It probably won’t take long.”

Maseo shook his head. “Always with the debits and credits, Ryuichi.  Is everything just one giant transaction to you?”  He became serious when Asami didn’t reply.  “Why that building? Why now?”

“Wait for me while I finish getting dressed.” Asami went into his bedroom.  Maseo wasted no time.  He went to one of the fallen men and pulled out his cell phone.


His phone was ringing.  Kirishima came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist.  The bathroom was steamy and the cooler air in the bedroom felt good on his skin.  He put on his glasses, checked his phone then answered it.

“Kei, it’s me.”

Kirishima started.  He recognized his voice immediately.  “Why are you calling me, Maseo?  Isn’t this Taniguchi’s phone?”

“There’s no time.  I’m with Asami.  He’s—”

“Wait.  Why are you with Asami?”

“There’s no time to explain, Kei.  Please just listen to me.”

“You expect me to listen to you after you leave like—?”

“Listen to me,” said Maseo.  Kirishima went still.  He could almost hear Asami’s voice in Maseo’s tone.  The same cold, commanding timbre.  He heard Maseo take a breath.  “He said he was going to a building in Minato Ward down the street from where you destroyed Andou and asked me to come with him.  Does that mean anything to you?  He knocked out the men who were here with him.  Why would he do that?”

“What…?” Kirishima asked and then he recovered.  “He’s been getting strange phone calls and there’s someone important who might be there but it’s impossible.  He still wants to see for himself.”

Maseo was silent for a moment.  “Is it Jin?”

“How did…?” Kirishima closed his eyes for a moment. “Never mind.  I’m on my way.  I’ll bring the other men.”

“No, we’ll be gone by the time you get here.  Just meet us at the building as soon as you can.  I have to go now,” said Maseo.  The phone clicked off.  Kirishima immediately dialed his phone and ran into his bedroom.

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