“Takaba Akihito, what can I do for you?” Kirishima asked. He remained reserved but Akihito could see he was curious. There was absolutely nothing in his face or manner that suggested he was driving the car while he and Asami had made passionate love that afternoon. Akihito noticed he had on new glasses. The man had taken a couple of bullets for him once though he knew Kirishima considered it to be his job.
“I want to see Asami,” Akihito said, his voice clear and firm. Kirishima nodded and opened the door, ushering him through. Akihito let the door close behind him. “Kirishima-san, I don’t want any more difficulties when I show up at the front door,” he said. He said this without a trace of arrogance or entitlement. He knew his easy access to Asami was expected.
Kirishima paused for a moment and handed him his card. “Next time call me directly,” he said.
“Thanks,” said Akihito. He slipped the card into his jeans pocket.
The two men walked down the long, elegant hallway with its beautiful inlaid wood ceiling. Akihito recognized it from when he’d first gained entrance to the club on a job. The man who put him up to the job, Detective Imamiya, had betrayed him, and one of Asami’s men had taken his mini-camera and given him a piece of candy at the back door of the club. Akihito allowed himself a small smile. It seemed so long ago. Everything was different now, especially himself.
“Asami-sama is in an important meeting. You’ll wait in his office,” said Kirishima.
“How long do I have to wait?” asked Akihito.
“As long as is necessary,” said Kirishima. He looked at him closely. “Don’t go wandering around by yourself.”
They walked past the VIP rooms and Akihito heard the unmistakable sound of Asami’s deep baritone voice behind the second door. He paused. The yearning in his chest intensified.
“Takaba-kun,” said Kirishima with a slight hint of warning in his voice.
Akihito frowned and resumed following him. They turned a corner in the hallway. “You don’t like me very much, do you?”
Kirishima sighed. “Things would be much simpler if you just did as you were told.”
“Right. And you don’t like me,” said Akihito. His headache had worsened. He still wanted to see Asami but was wondering if he’d made a mistake. Kirishima inserted a key into a door lock and opened the door to Asami’s office, all wooden mahogany and beautifully furnished.
“Stay here,” said Kirishima, “I can’t have you getting into trouble.”
“You said that already,” said Akihito. All of them from Asami on down insisted upon treating him like a child! He kicked the desk.
“Takaba-kun…” Kirishima started to say. At that moment, Akihito’s stomach growled loud enough for him to hear.
Kirishima smiled slightly. “I forgot. It’s been a while since you’ve eaten. I’ll arrange for your dinner. What do you want?”
Akihito closed his eyes and placed his fingers on his temples where his headache was pounding. “I don’t need to eat,” he said.
“Yes, you do. You’ll feel better afterwards,” he said. Akihito turned away from Kirishima, refusing the reply. “I’ll bring you a selection of food,” Kirishima said, “Don’t go anywhere.”
Akihito still didn’t reply. Kirishima grabbed his arm. “Takaba-kun, did you hear what I said?”
“Let go of me,” Akihito said, speaking slowly. They stood there for a moment, Akihito glaring up at the First Assistant. Kirishima let go of Akihito’s arm and stepped away. “I’ll be back.” Akihito turned towards the huge wooden desk. He heard the door close and then the click of the key turning in the lock.
“What the hell…?” Akihito ran to the door and sure enough, the First Assistant had locked him in the room. He pulled at the door and checked the lock but the door was locked from the outside. “Arrrrghhg! Kirishima-san!! Open this door!!” he yelled. He leaned his ear against the door but heard nothing. “Kirishima-san!!” he shouted again but the man was gone.
Akihito pounded on the door, more out of frustration than anything else. He’d come to Asami on his own, and he was being treated this way! He looked around the office. There was a floor to ceiling window behind the desk showing a beautiful view of West Shinjuku’s neon lights. The desk itself was clean except for a wooden stand housing some pens. He went around to the other side of the desk and tried all the drawers. They were locked, of course. He flopped down on the large leather chair and put his feet up on the desk. The leather was exquisitely soft. Akihito slid his hands up and down the leather arms, tilting back in the chair. His headache was tapering off a little. He pushed the chair away from the desk and spun in it. The office whirled around him but he had to stop because the dizziness was making his headache worse. He glanced around and then looked up at the ceiling. He was glad Kirishima was bringing him some food. His stomach growled again at the thought.
His eyes fell on a small device in the ceiling corner directly diagonal to where he was sitting. He stared at it. It was a casino camera. “Asami records his own office?” He wondered why. He would hate to be under surveillance all the time. He looked down at the desk. “Dammit, I’m already under surveillance. Being followed, probably being recorded, and who knows what else.” He stood up, hands fisted, then kicked the desk again. He noticed a long metal letter opener lying next to the wooden stand which held four beautifully lacquered pens. He picked up one of the pens and opened it. A fountain pen, obviously very expensive. It felt heavy and well-balanced. He dropped it back into the stand and grabbed the letter opener. It appeared to be old, like an antique, and the handle was inlaid with ivory. He looked at it then went to the door. He was sick of waiting and decided since he’d come to Asami on his own accord, he deserved to see him and the hell with everyone else. He inspected the lock. The point of the letter opener was too thick to jam into the keyhole so he shoved it between the door jam and lock and shimmied it around. He felt the letter opener catch. At the same time, he pulled slowly on the door and heard a click. He eased the door open. He saw that the letter opener was bent.
“Takaba-kun!!!” Kirishima was standing in the hallway, holding the key out like he’d just been about to insert it into the lock. He was holding a tray with food in his other hand. “I told you not to go anywhere!”
“I haven’t gone anywhere…yet!” shouted Akihito, still holding the bent letter opener. He stepped into the First Assistant’s space. His stomach growled from the smell of the food but he was too angry to think about that. “You had NO right to lock me in the office like that! I’m a human being, you know. I have rights!” He waited for him to respond but he realized Kirishima wasn’t paying attention to what he’d just said.
“That’s…that’s Asami-sama’s letter opener!” shouted Kirishima. His eyes were wide.
Akihito rolled his eyes. “Big deal! You can get another one. It’s not like there isn’t any money around here.”
“IT BELONGED TO ASAMI-SAMA’S FATHER!!” Kirishima was almost hyperventilating. “What have you done!?”
Akihito glanced at the letter opener then looked back up at Kirishima. He’d never seen the First Assistant so unnerved, not while exchanging the deed for him on Fei Long’s ship, certainly not while he and Asami were having sex in the limo and Kirishima was driving. He dropped the letter opener and ran down the hallway. He had to talk to Asami. He needed to see him now. “Takaba-KUN!” shouted Kirishima and he heard the man coming after him.
Akihito ran around the corner of the hallway and went straight for the second VIP door. He grabbed the handle and threw the door open.