A teenager with long dark ponytailed hair wearing a baseball cap stood on the corner of a busy street in West Shinjuku. Holding his father’s Pentex camera steady, he could see three men coming towards him in his viewfinder.
All old men in suits, he thought. Nothing interesting there. He lowered the camera, looking in the other direction. He was waiting for his sensei and hoped he would arrive soon. He was hungry and wanted to go get a snack.
He raised the camera again in the direction of the old men still walking towards them. The picture was blurry. He began sharpening focus when a large dark shape appeared in front of him. He looked up.
A huge man stood in front of him, blocking his view of the sidewalk. The man grabbed his camera.
“Hey! Give that back to me! It’s mine!” Takaba Akihito shouted.
“Don’t take pictures, kid,” said the man, holding the camera out of reach. Akihito looked up at the man towering over him. He was seriously huge and seriously scary.
“Just…give me back my camera, okay? I won’t take any more pictures,” he said deciding it would be best to be polite.
The man hesitated. “Give him back his camera, Suoh,” said a beautiful, deep baritone voice. Akihito tried to look at the owner of the voice but the man blocked his view.
“No more pictures, kid,” said Suoh handing him back his camera. Akihito could hear car doors opening. The man moved away from him and went to a limo with blacked out windows and got inside on the front passenger side.
“Yeah. Right,” said Akihito. He looked at the men, trying to pick out the owner of the voice but almost all them were already in the car. A man with longish dark hair was getting into the driver’s side as Akihito turned away. His sensei was down the street, coming towards him. He heard the car start. Akihito waved at his sensei and walked forward. He felt a strange jolt in the deepest core of his body, making him stop. He stared straight ahead, taking a deep breath. He realized he wanted to see the owner of that voice. At that moment, a large crowd of people enveloped him coming from the other direction. He was just about to turn to face the departing car when someone in the crowd bumped into him.
“Sorry. No, that was my fault,” said the man. Another old man, Akihito thought. The man seemed large though Akihito could see he wasn’t huge. He had short dark hair, an angular face, and wore rectangular glasses. The man looked at Akihito closely. “You okay, kid?”
“Um. Yeah, I’m fine. No hard feelings,” said Akihito. The crowd around them was starting to dissipate.
“Good, see you around,” said the man, smiling. He had perfect white teeth.
“Uh yeah, okay,” said Akihito. He watched him walk away then turned towards his sensei.
Asami was looking out the window as they were pulling away. He’d seen the kid with the long dark ponytail and baseball cap, holding the camera just before the crowd of people had swallowed him up. He watched as the crowd thinned out. The kid was still there though he had his back to him so he couldn’t see his face. Asami let his eyes take in the kid’s body. He wasn’t that tall but his body was long and lanky all the same.
“Who’s that? The owner of the camera?” asked Asami. He was looking back behind them now. For some reason he wanted to see his face but the kid was still turned away from him.
“Just some young kid, Asami-sama. The camera probably doesn’t even belong to him,” said Suoh.
“Even so you were right to give it back to him,” said Asami absently. He saw the kid walk up to an older man, probably his father or sensei. They turned together to walk up the street in the opposite direction. Asami got up in the seat and looked out the back window, surprising everyone. Even if he turned to look towards the limo now he still wouldn’t see his face. He watched the kid walk away for a few moments longer then he sat back down. He considered telling Taniguchi to turn around so they could drive by but his cell phone rang. He answered without saying anything. “Thanks,” he said and then he clicked the phone shut.
“Was that Kei, Asami-sama?” asked Suoh.
“Yes, he’s going to meet us at the club.”
Asami glanced out the car window at the crowded street. Another kid in a baseball cap walked by, not the same one, of course. This one had short hair. Asami thought about glancing back again but they were now a couple of blocks away. He settled back in his seat.
“What did the kid look like?” asked Asami. There was a silence in the car before Suoh replied.
“Just some young kid with long hair, Asami-sama. He had an attitude at first but calmed down.”
“And how old was he?”
“Uh. Don’t know. He looked young. Maybe sixteen. Is there a problem?”
“No.” Asami pulled out a Dunhill and lit it, staring out the car window.
Maseo stood on the street, watching Asami’s limo make its way through the traffic then he looked at Akihito’s retreating back going in the other direction. Akihito and his sensei walked into a crowd of people, disappearing from sight. Maseo smiled to himself.
AN: Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this double upload. I will post the first chapter of the Omake on Mon., January 6th after 7:00 pm PST (California time). Happy Holidays to all!