Allen giggled and slapped at the hands reaching to tickle her.“One-san I’m not a baby!”
“You're always going to be my baby!” Katane told her, but pulled her hands back nonetheless.
“Always,” Allen agreed and burrowed closer to her sister. “I missed you.”
Katane raised her brow. “Me too.” They sat quietly. Completely at ease with each other.
Katane pulled on her lips, “Did Hanaka-chan give you a packet?”
Allen sighed, the spell had shattered. She straightened herself on the sofa, but not completely pulling away. “One-san....not now. Please?”
Katane looked at Allen. “Tomorrow, and no later.”
Allen nodded, and leaned back down again. She closed her eyes and tried to get rid of the apprehensions that had arisen inside her. One night,..that’s all I wanted.
“I hope Hiyoshi-ni doesn’t feel left out,” Torori asked entering the room.
“I don’t think so,” Katane replied and shifted to let Torori settle on her other side. “He’s fed-up with me.”
Torori frowned, “Did he say something?”
Katane laughed. “Sorry, that came out wrong. I think we’re both a bit tired of the each other’s company. It’s not natural to spend so much time alone with someone and not get on each other’s nerves.”
“That wasn’t any better.”
Allen rolled her eyes. “Hiyo-ni is awesome. How can anyone get tired of that?”
Torori nodded, and laughed.
Katane smothered a laugh. She didn’t think her husband would like being referred to as that, or to realize he was more an entertainment figure than anything else to her sisters.
Katane yawned. “Where’s Suzuki?”
“She’s doing the dishes. Ismau-kun is helping her. And Hanaka said she’d be here in a while.”
Katane nodded. “I think I’ll go up to bed in just a little while.”
“Sorry,” Allen muttered. “ We should have realized that you were tired.”
“It’s ok,” the older girl reassured her. “The truth is if I didn’t think I’d break a bone trying to get myself upstairs later, I’d love to just sit here with you two and nod off.”
“Not me,” Hanka interjected as she zombie-walked into the room. “It’s almost twelve, and I just told the Takahashi’s to shake it. So will the rest of you.”
“Urusi,” Hanka said simply and marched over to Katane. “Up, up, up! Go sleep in your own bedroom!”
“O.K...” Katane grabbed Hanaka’s hand and let her pull her up. “Why don’t you walk me to my bedroom as well?”
“Sure.” Nodding in affirmation, Hanka dragged Katane out the parlor. “You two better not be here when I return.”
“Bossy,” Muttered Allen and resisted the urge to rub her eyes. “But might as well...”
“Wait,” Torori grabbed her hand and used her as a lever to stand up. “I’ve got something that needs to be said.”
Allen looked at her in confusion.
With steel black eyes, Torori raised a hand to one of Allen’s shoulder and squeezed just tightly enough. “She’s got a lot of things in her mind, and she’s done her best by us all the time.....Don’t hurt her.”
Allen watched Toroi’s back as she walked away. If only I had a yen for every time someone threatened me.
She flipped open her phone. 3 Am. She expected everyone had fallen dead asleep just about a while ago. She’d had a close battle with the spirit of sleep. And, for currently, it had been pushed aside with a cold shower.She’d been luck when she’d decided the time. If she’d chosen a time any earlier she’d have been caught dead.
She dialed a number, “Moshi moshi?” She listened to the reply on the other side. “Yes I asked for a cab at 3 Am? Yes, that’s my address. Yes, thank you. I asked the cab to wait at the corner....yes, thank alot.”
Ending her call, she looked around her room to see if she had forgotten anything. Nope, ready to go. she walked to her window and leaver herself outside. She wasn't taking any chances.
In the morning.
Katane slipped into a chair. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” chorused Hanaka, Torori, Hayato, Isamu and Orihime.
“Where’s Ni-san?” Orihime asked.
Katane smiled at the girl, “He says he’ll be right down.”
“Is he shaving?”
Katane thought about this. “I think so.” She looked around the room. They were using the dining room, and would be from then on, if today was any indication. The number of people had over ran the capacity of the kitchen table. “Where’s Suzuki and Allen? They’re still not asleep, are they.”
Hanaka shrugged. “I don’t know. I knocked on Allen-chan’s door but no one answered. She probably went for a jog as soon as she got up.”
“One-san it’s 1pm,” Hayto pointed out. “Half the office day is over. You should relax.”
Torori nodded in agreement, “Suzuki got up around ten and left a note. She says to tell you to not bother coming in.”
“I’m the director,” Katane pointed out.
“And she’s your sister,” Hanka retorted. “Plus me and Torori. You’ve been over ruled.”
Katane laughed out loud. “I think I’m being taken care off.”
“Torori...,” Tired, Katane raised her right hand to quiet her angry sister. She rubbed her eyes with the other. “Please quiet down. I’m sure she has a reason....”
The other girl’s face tightened, but she quitted. She could see that Katane-One was already worried enough. But I’m still killing her.
“What did Mariko Oba-San say?” Torori demanded.
Hanak dropped into a sofa and pointed at Torori. “Not one word. I hear another word, and I swear I’m going to-”
“Torori, please go check on the kids.” Katane ordered.
Torori looked from one of her sister to the other. Grimly she nodded and stormed out of the room. And nearly flattened Suzuki 7ft down into the earth.
“What’s all that about?”
“ ‘Evening,” Suzuki greeted, entering the room.
“She’s just worried,” Katane explained as she looked at Hanka. “She...expects too much..”
“Why?” Hanka demanded. “It’s not like she was any better.”
Impatient, Katane stared at her sister. “You know why. And can we please stop arguing over the past and act like civil, and mature adults we’re supposed to be.”
Ashamed, Hanak sighed. “I’m sorry.”
Katane nodded and looked at Suzuki. “Please tell me you’ve got something.”
Suzuki winced and walked over to sit on the footstool besides Katane. In an almost keeling position, she patted Katane’s hands. “I called our regular air lines...nothing. I’ve had all kinds of background checks done. Even if she’s using an alias she’d have used her own credit card to pay for the ticket. I could have the rest of the flights checked but......it could take days, if not weeks. There are over 490 direct flights per day and 49 for Hokkaido and Okinawa. There are over 90,000 international destinations only...”
“If she’d left the country,” Hanka interrupted. Emphasizing the if.
“What do you mean?”
“What did Mariko Oba-san say?” This time Katane demanded the question.
“She hasn’t heard from Allen. They talked last week...but she never mentioned going back. She said it almost felt like Allen didn’t want to return.”
“We’ll that doesn’t seem the case,” Suzuki muttered and stood up. “If your right, and she hasn’t left the country, then you’ve narrowed down the field considerably.”
Suzuki nodded “Don’t worry One-san. We’ll get her back.” And then I’ll have the pleasure of smacking some sense into her.
Katane nodded absently. She was already lost in her thought......Stupid child.....I wouldn’t have forced you if...
“She blames herself,” Suzuki muttered as she closed the door behind her. “She thinks the idiot left because of her.”
“I’m going to kill her,” Torori threatened again.
“Oh, please!” Suzuki snapped. “We all know you won’t, nor can, kill her. Besides....she isn’t all to blame.”
“What do you mean!” Torori sputtered. “She’s been given a safe haven all her life-”
“Yes, that’s why we had to deport her outside of the country,” she bit off the question. “Both you and I know she didn’t exactly go through an ideal experience...actually it sucked. In fact, this whole situation sucks.”
Torori shot a cautious look behind her, “You better hope no one heard that. Ktane-one’s upset enough, as it is.” Suzuki started to argue further but Torori raised her hand. “But you're right, so please stop yelling at me. Just find her. We’ll think of all this later.”
Suzuki nodded. “I’ll find her.” She looked her older sister over. “You know what I want to know?”
“Exactly how much does Allen-chan know....she doesn’t know everything; that’s obvious. But still. How much......”
Isamu knocked on his sister's door. “Get out here, Orihime-Chan. We need to talk.”
There was no reply.
“Orihime-chan,” Isamu called out a bit more forcefully. “Open the door.”
“I’m not opening the door,” came the coarse reply. “Go away. Or I’m going to call Oni-san.”
Isamu smiled. And which one would that be? “I would think....that you wouldn’t want me telling Hiyoshi-ni what I have to talk to you about.”
No reply. Isamu waited.
The door was pushed open suddenly. “ I didn’t do anything to make her go away! I promise!”
Isamu looked at his sister. “Well, then you’ll be glad to hear..I don’t think so either.”
“Really,” Isamu smiled. “Want to go get an ice-cream?”
Orihime looked at him suspiciously.
“I just want to talk, that’s it,” Isamu explained, his eyes twitching in amusement.
“Ok, let me get my jacket.” She slammed the door into his face.
“GRRRR!!” Isamu growled at Orihime as they walked back from the ice-cream shop.
“Stop glaring at me,” Orihime ordered her brother. “People are going to think you kidnapped me.”
“Well, maybe,” Isamu stressed the last word high enough to catch the eye of a few passersby. “You shouldn’t have slammed the door into my face. It hit my nose!”
“It’s not broken.”
Isamu frowned, “What’s going on with you Orihime-chan. You're being rude, obstinate, and most unlike you.”
Orihime stopped, “Do I have to answer that?”
The little girl played with her feet, “The door was an accident...”
Isamu exhaled sadly, “Orihime.....I don’t want excuses. I want...reasons and a bit remorse.”
“It’s because of Oni-san.”
Orihime sighed. “Can we sit down?”
Isamu nodded and led her to a bench.
“Oni-san...why did he have to get married? Why did we have to move here? Why can’t we live in our old house? Why did mama have to go away?”
Surprised, and completely out of his depth, Isamu didn’t answer.
And apparently that was the right answer. Orihime continued her soliloquy. “I want to live with mama, and Oni-san, Oni-san, Oni-san, and Oni-chan! Why can’t we live together? I thought... And then Oni-San had to get married!”
Cautiously, Isamu asked. “Orihime-chan....don’t you like Katane-ne san?”
Isamu thought about this. “Then...what’s the problem. Maybe you don’t like the other One-san’s?”
Orihime shook her head. “I like all of them. Hanaka-one makes me tasty food and does my hair. I like her, even though she won’t let me play my games after bedtime or eat a lot of candy. I like Torori-One, because she teaches me cool stuff. I don’t really see Suzuki-one but she’s cool. And Allen-One is cool too. She helped me pick out clothes and helped me with homework.......”
He was completely lost. “Ok, well...since you like all of them...what’s the problem?’ He lost his patience.
“There is no problem! That’s the problem!”
No problem....that’s the problem. Completely, baffled, Isamu stood up and started to pace.
“Well....except for me.”
Isamu stopped. “You?”
Orihime nodded. “Everything’s perfect....except why can’t all of us live together like...like Katane-one and the other One-san. They all live together! Why can’t we?”
Isamu went back to his sister. “Is this about mom and Akira-ni moving to Europe?”
Orihime nodded. “I think so. A little bit.”
“Hmm,... can I tell you something?”
Orihime snuffled, but nodded.
“When Katane-one went college...she lived in the dormitory. And then two years after that she lived in a apartment. Hanaka one has been living in her own apartment since High School. Torori-one has traveled throughout the country and internationally since she was 13. Suzuki and Allen-san both went to private on-campus schools since Junior high.”
Orihime apprehended this new knowledge. “And?”
Isamu smiled. “And? And they still managed to be a family. Maybe for now they’re all living under the same roof,...but who knows for how long. You can never tell. But you know what I can tell?”
“What?” Orihime asked.
Isamu put an arm around his sister, and relaxed back into the bench. “ I can tell you that no matter how far or how long they are away from each other...they’ll still be family. They’ll still be the same to each other. And they’ll still love each other the same. That’s family. They don’t always have to leave, but they always come back.”
Orihime looked at her brother. She meditated on the ideas her brother had just shared. “But how can you be so sure?”
Isamu wasn’t surprised at this demand. “ Because I know that you’ll always be my family. That you’ll still be the same for me, no matter what. I’ll always love you the same. And that If ever I left you, I would always come back. Because I could say the same for the rest of my brothers and they the same for me and you.”
Orihime thought about these new statements. “And what if I said that I wouldn’t. That I couldn't say these things to you.”
Isamu tweaked her nose, and ducked quickly to bite into her ice-cream. “I would call you a liar. Stop neglecting your ice-cream. And let me eat mines.”
“But what if I don’t. What if someone doesn’t come back?” Orihime pestered on persistently. .
“I wouldn’t let you leave me alone,” Isamu replied in chord. “I’d bother you so much you’d have to come back. And I would advise you to do the same.”
“And what if-”
“Enough of what-if’s!” Isamu exclaimed in fake sternness. “We can talk about What-if’s all our lives and never get enough of them. Know finish your ice-cream before it melts to death.”
“I’ll apologize,” Orihime said. “To Allen-one. In front of everyone.”
Isamu nodded, and ruffled his sister's hair. “Good, that’s good.”
Frowning, Isamu asked, “But?”
“That door was an accident.”
Isamu nodded. “Ok, then. I think I’ll believe you, just for this once.”
- Hey everybody!! I know this is my first post in a long time and I'm so sorry. I'll try to be more vigilant about my posts from now on. I hope you guys enjoyed the excerpt. Plus, please subscribe, comment, like, share and etc.