Shattered

Chapter 1: Intertwined

"Oh not again...," said the young waiter, watching the scene unfold before him. A table of loud patrons had for the 3rd time that night spilled their entire pitcher of beer all over their table, creating a foamy waterfall that cascaded across the table and puddle on the floor.

Akemi Hidoji just sighed, running his hands through his blue-dyed blonde hair. Weekends were always the worst at the Hinotama Restaurant, especially Fridays like tonight. Although the tipping was nice, and the atmosphere lively, the frustration nearly tripled on weekends, especially since they were only a block away from a nearby bar. Patrons would commonly get drunk at the bar, come in to the Hinotama to eat and, commonly, drink even more.

"Don't sweat it Akemi, the night can't go on forever", said a chipper voice behind him. He didn't need to turn, he knew who it was. Rina Migamae had been his friend for years. She went to the same high school as him, they both went to Tokamishi University together (though Rina was a Chemistry student whereas Akemi was an Art major), and they worked at the same restaurant together. It was almost as if Rina was the sister Akemi never had.

He turned and gave her a small smile. "I know, but this sort of thing goes on every single weekend without fail. I wish just once they'd give it a rest", Akemi complained. Rina smiled at him. She had always thought of Akemi as a little bit of a pushover. At 5'9", Rina often teased him about being nearly as short as her at 5'6". She had always known him to be an introvert, spending his work breaks in the back room listening to music or drawing in his sketch pad.

He was an excellent waiter. When he was hired on at Hinotama a few months ago, Mr. Yoshido, the owner, took an instant liking to him. Akemi was hard-working, which he considered a rare quality in a boy his age. It hadn't taken him long to learn the job, and Akemi was soon ahead of the curve. As much as Mr. Yoshido liked having Akemi, Akemi liked his job more. The restaurant was lit slightly dim, giving off a warm inviting aura about it. It never seemed too cold or too hot, and always felt more like a home to Akemi than a restaurant.

Walking over with a large cleaning cloth, Akemi began soaking up the beer fountain the guests had made. Whether they paid him no attention or did not notice him, Akemi wasn't sure. They seemed oblivious to his working, so once the mess was cleaned, he retreated in the back to throw the cloth in the small washing machine the restaurant kept for washing cloths and uniforms (and occasionally someone's laundry if their personal clothes became soiled.

When he came from the back, the bartender Toji called him over.

"Hey kid, those guys giving you a hard time?" he asked with a grin. Toji had been a bouncer at numerous clubs and bars over the years, and was well accustomed to dealing with drunk, unruly patrons.

Akemi shook his head, "No Toji, just drunks being drunks, as usual". Toji nodded.

"You decide you want them gone, just let me know. Old man Yoshido puts a lot of faith in my judgments about these things", Toji replied. "I will, and thanks", Akemi said, smiling at the bartender. Toji was somewhat of the unofficial big brother to everyone at the Hinotama. Big and burly, he had tossed out more unruly guests than Akemi could ever keep count of. Mr. Yoshido had indeed giving Toji a lot of oversight on who goes and who stays, owing to his long history as a bouncer.

When the rush finally started dying down, Akemi headed to the kitchen to help with cleanup. It was a rule at the Hinotama that waiters and waitresses assisted with kitchen cleanup if there was a sufficient lull in business. Akemi never minded; the other employees were all very friendly and everyone got along with everyone else.

In a way, it reminded Akemi of one big happy family, complete with occasional temper flare-ups when things got hectic enough.

He was only a few minutes into washing dishes when Gimara, another waitress, approached him. "Akemi, some guests just came in. You want them or you want to finish dishes?" Akemi looked up, "You can have them if you want, I'm behind back here anyway." Gimara smiled and headed back up front. He went back to his dishes.

The time was 11:56 pm, only four minutes till midnight, and midnight meant getting off work. Akemi usually worked nights from around 4pm to closing, or near closing. He didn't mind the long hours. He lived by himself in a small apartment within walking distance of both work and the University. It took him nearly 20 minutes to walk to work, whereas driving would, depending on traffic, take almost twice as long.

Besides, the money he saved by walking usually went into art supplies.

At a few minutes after midnight, he heard Mr. Yoshido calling for him from the back.

He walked back to see his boss. Mr. Yoshido was in his early 50's, a little taller than Akemi, and about 50 pounds heavier. He was a little portly, but in good health. He never yelled at his employees, even when the employees were yelling at each other. Akemi couldn't remember him firing even one worker, or criticizing anyone in a degrading or negative way. He always had two things at the ready for his employees; a smile, and a pot of hot tea in the back.

"Akemi, it's after midnight. Why don't you go home and get some sleep. Don't you have class tomorrow morning?" Mr. Yoshido asked. "Yes Mr. Yoshido, I'll be in classes until about 3pm, which will give me time to go home, change, and get ready to be back here about 4pm".

Mr. Yoshido nodded, sipping on his cup of hot tea. "I know school is getting stressful now, since we're approaching summer break. I will have extra hours open, since one of the other waiters will be moving in a couple of months. If you decide you want them, or you need less hours, whichever way, just let me know, ok?"

Akemi smiled and nodded, a few strands of blue hair falling over his sapphire-blue eyes. "Being on summer break will free up a lot of my time, I'll be happy to work extra if I can", he answered. Mr. Yoshido smiled at him. "Alright then my boy, I'll see you about 4pm tomorrow."

Akemi nodded and walked out, punching his time card then heading out into the lobby. Gimara and Rina both said goodnight to him, as did Toji, then he was gone. In total for the night, he had made nearly ¥4,000 that night, as he usually did on weekends. His routine on working nights was pretty standard; get out of work, stop by the nearby 24-hour corner store to pick up dinner, then head to his apartment.

He didn't mind living alone, though he was only 20. On the contrary, he actually rather enjoyed it. The owners of the apartment building he lived in were always friendly, and forgiving if the rent was a little late. The owners already had a nice income from their family construction business, so they could keep the rent low and still make a profit.

His place was small; a bedroom, bathroom, small kitchen, small living room, and a balcony. Being on the top floor of the four floor building, he had a nice view of the city. On warm nights, he could easily spend hours sitting on his balcony listening to music. More than once, he'd dozed off out there.

As he walked in the door of the corner store, he wasn't thinking about the weather or his balcony. He was just glad to be off work.

…..

Elsewhere in the city, someone else was also just getting off work.

His car speeding quickly towards his own apartment, the tall man with hair like night and eyes like cold steel sighed contently. This had taken way longer than he wanted, and he was glad to finally be done and headed home. With the radio tuned to an easy listening station, he let himself zone out a little.

Before long he reached his apartment building. He parked and grabbed his briefcase as he got out. Locking his Audi TT's doors with the remote, he strolled into the lobby and entered the elevator to take him up to his floor.

He unbuttoned the top three buttons of his navy blue dress shirt. This day had gone a lot longer than he had wanted it to, and he wanted nothing more than a cold beer and someplace comfy to sit. His apartment building was nicely furnished, and less than five years old. It was located in the Kotoma District, an affluent neighborhood in the city. Fifteen stories tall, it was expensive to reside in, but the luxury and comforts made it worth it.

He got off on the 12th floor and walked to 1217, his apartment. Using his keycard in the electronic lock, he entered, shutting the door behind him. Pressing a small button on the wall, the kitchen, living room, and hallway lights flicked on. He sat his briefcase down on the island bar in the middle of his kitchen and retreated to his bedroom. He took off his sport coat and dress shirt, leaving his white skin-tight tank top on. He washed off his face and hands, drying them on a small towel hanging from a ring near the sink.

Once done, he went back to his kitchen, grabbing a bottle of beer from the refrigerator. He took his briefcase and sat in his black leather recliner, facing his 50" plasma TV. He turned on the TV and flipped through the channels, sipping from the bottle. Sports? No, not interested. Golf? No. Cooking? No. Home shopping? Definitely no. Auto racing? He watched for a second. 'Hmmmm…. No crashing, next' he thought.

He came to the local news station, where a rather short woman was announcing tomorrow's weather. Leaving his briefcase by his recliner, he went back to the refrigerator to rummage for food. He was deciding on whether to make a turkey or a ham sandwich when the weathergirl finished and the regular news anchors came on.

"Tonight, Tokamishi Metro Police are concerned over the double-homicide that occurred at the offices of Chiyoki Incorporated. Police have identified the two victims as Masahiro Kyomoto, CEO of Chiyoki Incorporated, and Tanaka Saokomi, who had recently been promoted to COO. Early reports are still sketchy at best, but police have stated both victims were shot twice. They were found in the offices of Mr. Kyomoto, both still sitting in chairs. At this time there are no suspects in custody, and police are not sure as to the motivation behind the murders. Authorities do believe-".

He clicked the TV off, still holding the two packages of sandwich meat.

He looked at the clock; it was only 12:21 am. When he'd left the Chiyoki Incorporated building, it was nearly 11 pm. "Less than two hours… well that didn't take long. Damn night watchmen", he grumbled, deciding on turkey.

His name is Takiya Katsutoshi, and he is a hitman.

Or rather, THE hitman, the very best assassin in the service of the Shintaro Crime Family, headed by Boss Shintaro. To some, the idea of killing for money would have been repulsive. For Takiya, its just business. Sure, he got no pleasure from it, but he also got no remorse either.

He completed his sandwich and sat back in his recliner, thinking about the job he had just completed. It actually was rather easy, almost laughably easy. He had entered the Chiyoki building, flashed a fake badge and ID to the guard on duty, and told him he urgently needed to speak with Mr. Kyomoto and Mr. Saokomi. The guard didn't even take a good look at his credentials, and had instead led him to the elevators and provided directions for the CEO's office. According to the guard, both the CEO and COO were having a late night meeting to finalize project plans.

Good, that meant his Intel was right, as usual. When he arrived at the door, he didn't bother knocking; he just stepped inside, closing the door behind him. The two men sitting around the desk had just enough time to look up. He pulled his silenced HK USP 9mm from under his coat, double-tapping both men before either had a chance to cry out in protest. He reached down, collecting his spent casings then locked the door, walked out, and shut it behind him. He even waved goodbye to the guard as he was leaving the building.

Apparently, that guard got suspicious and went to check things out. Goddammit, why did the ones who gave a crap have to work when he did?

Finishing his sandwich and beer, he got up, grabbed his briefcase, and headed for bed. He went in the bathroom attached to his bedroom and slipped out of his clothes and into the shower. After washing for what felt like an eternity, he slipped into his silk sleep pants and got ready for bed.

He took his USP and sat it on the nightstand behind him. He had already stopped and burned his fake ID, and threw the fake badge into the dumpster of a building a few miles away (not without wiping it for fingerprints first, of course). Normally if the clothes he wore were clean at the end of the day, he'd have them washed at a Laundromat and then given to a homeless shelter. If they were spattered, he'd just burn them. He checked them out and found nothing, so he tossed them in a plastic bag to be given away tomorrow on his way to see Boss Shintaro to collect his ¥2.5 million yen fee.

He slipped under the covers and flicked the bed lamp off. Yawning, he rolled over and within seconds was sound asleep.

….

"Oh come ON! Finals are up in three weeks and not one of you has an answer?!" asked the professor. Mr. Kutoma seemed to be rather discouraged. The time was 10:17 am, and Akemi was sitting in his 10am Physics class. Wearing a long-sleeve white shirt and blue jeans, he stood out a bit from the rest of the class, who were all in shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, or halter tops. He couldn't help it if he burned easily.

Professor Kutoma sighed and repeated the question. "Can any of you PLEASE tell me what Isaac Newton's 3rd law of motion states?"

Akemi looked around to see if anyone looked ready to answer. Nope, not even his friend Nikko, who was sitting directly to his left, playing a game on his cell phone. Sometimes, Akemi had to wonder why a guy as smart as Nikko goofed off so much in class.

Rather timidly, Akemi raised his hand. Professor Kutoma breathed a sigh of relief; "Finally…. Alright Mr. Hidoji, educate your peers on Newton's 3rd law".

He felt himself blush a little. He hated being called out like this, but Professor Kutoma seemed to have a habit of it, although whether it is intentional he wasn't sure. Ignoring the snickers of his classmates, he cleared his throat.

"The 3rd law of motion states for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction", Akemi answered.

"Very good Mr. Hidoji. Yes, Newton's 3rd law of motion does state for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction", Professor Kutoma repeated as he turned to write it on the dry-erase board behind him. Off in the corner of the room, a couple of classmates mockingly clapped for Akemi. He sighed, looking at his watch. 3pm was going to take a long time to get here.

When it finally arrived, Akemi was stopped by someone yelling his name as he was walking towards his apartment. It was Nikko, who was running to catch up.

"Look man, don't let those assholes bug you, alright? You're a smart guy with a future, while they're having to use the University as sort of an adult daycare", Nikko said with a grin.

Akemi laughed a little, "No worries, I learned to ignore it a long time ago." Akemi was well used to being teased all through his school life for being smart. You'd have thought by the time they hit college such childishness would have ceased.

"Hey uh, Akemi listen… you think maybe I could get your help to study for finals? If you have time I mean", Nikko asked.

Akemi nodded in reply, "Sure, just let me know when. I have to hurry home to change for work. See you Monday Nikko". The two parted and Nikko jogged home. Once inside, he changed into the white dress shirt and black slacks his job required. He rummaged in his bathroom, pinning on his nametag and clip-on tie. He rinsed with mouthwash and stared at his reflection in the mirror.

Blue eyes and blue hair with a bit of blonde showing at the roots looked back at him. Looking at his reflection, Akemi noticed Rina was right; he really did have soft features (which seemed to serve no purpose other than additional ammo to be teased with). He ran his fingers through his scruffy hair, blue bangs falling over his eyes. He brushed them back and left the bathroom, heading for the door. Tonight he was getting off at 10 pm, and Sunday, tomorrow, he was off. He planned to get a little housecleaning he had neglected done then. He checked his voicemail on the way out, the automated voice announcing he had no messages. Locking the door behind him, he stepped out to head for work.

….

'That meeting went by fast' Takiya thought as he drove down the street. All the Family business was discussed at Shintaro Manor, an expensive mansion near the Kotoma District where Takiya lived. He dropped last night's clothes off as planned, and went to the Manor to see Boss Shintaro. The old man greeted him with an embrace and a smile, congratulating him on another successful job.

He sat in the boss's office for a short while, drinking bourbon and chatting. The client had paid ¥6 million yen to the Shintaro Family for the job. ¥2.5 million went to Takiya, the remaining was kept by the Family as their fee. That's how it worked in the Shintaro Family; you get a little less than half, the Family keeps the rest. It still worked out great, since Takiya had a rather nice sum in savings.

He looked at his watch; it was a little after 5pm. With nothing else to do, he planned to pick up groceries, go home, cook dinner, and then get to sleep early. His cell phone rang, and he turned the radio off to answer it.

"Takiya? It's Keona..."

Keona was the "maid" for the Shintaro Family… at least that's what outsiders were told.

In reality, Keona was the one responsible for providing Intel to the hitmen working for the Shintaro Family. Only the Boss and Keona had full access to the information in the CD-ROMs, packets, or zip drives given to the Family's hired killers. That was the rule, and it was there to protect both the client and the Family.

"What can I do for you?" Takiya asked rather bluntly.

"There is a job coming up, its rather small, only about ¥500,000 yen, but I wanted to give you first dibs on it, as always" he heard her say. "Thanks, but I'll pass. I'm going to take a few days off, then I'll be back", he replied.

They chatted idly for a minute or two, then hung up. Glancing around, Takiya was annoyed to see he had driven right past the only market near his house. He debated turning around, then dismissed it. He'd just pick up something for dinner; he didn't really feel like cooking anyway.

…..

Akemi was not happy.

It was nearly 6pm, and he'd only been there two hours and already wanted to go home.

One of the other waiters came in late, so for the first hour Akemi was stuck on double-duty. After he finally got in, a family decided to hold their reunion dinner at the Hinotama, and a rather large family at that. Not only was Akemi the only one waiting on them, but it seemed as though from the time of seating to the time of him arriving back, their drink orders had changed at least three times. After finally getting them out, he noticed they left an even bigger-than-usual mess for a party of their size.

And as expected, they didn't tip. Perfect...

Things had finally slowed a little, and Akemi was rolling silverware. Rina was manning the register when her phone began ringing. She picked it up, and after a minute, informed the caller she'd call back, and then hung up. She walked over to Akemi as he was working.

"Akemi? That was mom. Grandmother is sick, and I told her I'd give her a call right back. Could you do register for maybe 10 minutes?" He smiled at her, "Sure, take your time". She smiled back and walked out, and Akemi took her place behind the register.

He was still rolling silverware and almost didn't notice the man who came in. He was right in front of the register when Akemi noticed him and looked up.

The first thing he noticed was the man had perhaps the coldest grey eyes he had ever seen. He was wearing a black dress shirt with short sleeves and matching black pants. Akemi couldn't put a finger on it, but there was something about him.

Shaking his head a little, he gave the stranger a bright smile and took his order. He called it back to the kitchen, and then invited the man to sit on a nearby bench. He had only been sitting for a couple of minutes when the door opened again. Inside walked three men, all dressed in ripped jeans and muscle shirts.

Akemi recognized them immediately; part of a small wanna-be gang that hung out around the neighborhood. Nobody gave them any of the respect the established gangs or Families had, but then again, a wanna-be gang can be as if not more dangerous than a recognized one.

They approached the counter, and Akemi put on a small smile. "Would you like to dine in or get it to-go sir?" he asked. The guy who is apparently the leader of the three replied they'll be getting it to-go. Akemi called their order back and showed them another bench where they could wait.

After a couple of minutes, Akemi could hear loud snickering coming from the direction of the other bench. He looked over; they were gesturing to him and laughing. Even though he should have been used to it by now, Akemi's face flushed a little and he went back to the silverware.

After another minute or two, they approached the counter again.

"Hey there Akemi, me and my friends are discussing something, we wanted if you could give us your opinion", the groups leader asked.

"Well, I can try. What is it?" Akemi asked. The man snickered some more. "I and my friends were wondering if you dying your hair was your idea, or your boyfriend's idea".

The trio burst into laughing. Akemi just smiled in a polite way and went back to his task.

"Hey, I'm talking to you!" the leader yelled. Akemi looked up, "I don't have a boyfriend, and it was my idea to do it". Leader snorted and looked at him, "I bet you don't. You look like the kind of guy who would". Akemi looked back at him.

"Sir, with respect, don't worry what color my hair is or whether I like girls or guys. None of that is really yours to be concerned with.

"Ooooooh… So you've got a little attitude huh pretty boy?" Leader said, trying to egg him on.

Akemi wasn't having any of it.

"Sir, in just a minute your order will be up. If you sit down, I'll bring it to you once its finished", Akemi offered. The man began to yell at Akemi.

"Look you freak; the absolute last person I'm going to obey is a sissy with blue hair", the man yelled. "Sir you're being quite rude. We would really like you to keep the yelling down" said Akemi.

The man angrily grabbed the front of Akemi's shirt and yelled him close.

"You little bastard, you think you can just tell me what to do and get away with it?!" the man yelled directly in Akemi's face. At that very second, a hand shot out and grabbed the leaders' wrist.

"Let him go…" the man said simply.

The man looked at Takiya and snarled, "Mind your own business, this doesn't concern you". At this time, Mr. Yoshido and Toji came in, having heard the noise and yelling. "There a problem here?" Mr. Yoshido asked.

Akemi looked at his boss and shook his head no. "No Mr. Yoshido, I was about to get these gentlemen their orders. In fact, it's ready now". He walked back in the kitchen and a few moments emerged with 2 styrofoam containers. He handed them to Leader with a rather forced smile.

He glared at Akemi, then turned to Mr. Yoshido; "So what do I owe?" he asked. Mr. Yoshido gave him an even dirtier look than the one Akemi was getting. "Nothing, its on the house. Now if you don't mind, please leave, now. I don't tolerate harassment of my employees, so kindly stay away from this establishment in the future."

The leaders glare got even more intimidating looking, and then the three stormed out. Mr. Yoshido touched Akemi's arm gently, "You alright Akemi?" he asked.

"Yea… yea I'm fine. Thank you Mr. Yoshido", he answered. The owner nodded and gestured to Toji, then to the back. After the two left, Akemi went and for the order for the customer.

"Listen, I really appreciate what you did just then", Akemi said gratefully.

"You should really consider starting a work-out program to help you stick up for yourself", the man replied. Akemi nodded, handing the man his order. He smiled up at the stranger and thanked him again. In mere seconds, the man was back in his car and headed for home.

Hours later, it was finally time for him to go. It was 11pm on the dot when Akemi began making his way home, his mind preoccupied with the stranger he'd seen earlier. He'd never had a friend, let alone a total stranger, stick up for him like that. As he entered the parking lot of his usual corner store, lost in thought, he failed to notice the car parked across the street suddenly crank its engine and turn on the headlights.

…..

"Screw this", Takiya said with disgust. It was nearly 11:30 pm and he must have tossed and turned in his bed thirty times and still couldn't manage to get to sleep. He got up and walked to the bathroom, looking in the medicine cabinet over the sink for his sleeping pills. As luck would have it, it was empty.

He threw the empty bottle in the trash. Walking back to his room, he slipped on jeans and a plain white t-shirt and grabbed the keys to his Audi. He locked his door and slipped out.

As he was driving towards the store, he thought back to the boy he had seen earlier. What exactly makes someone like him be passive instead of sticking up for themselves? He shrugged. If the kid wants to live in fear of bodily injury, that's his call.

He parked at the corner store and went inside to purchase his sleeping pills. He got them and was heading back to his car when he noticed a small group of men clustered in one spot.

His curiosity getting to him, he watched for a moment. It looked like the three men were attacking someone.

He shrugged and got in his car, cranking the engine. "Sorry, not my problem" he muttered out loud. He put it in drive and rode past the scene, glancing to see if it was someone he may have recognized.

…..

Akemi had walked right into a trap. The three men from the restaurant earlier were waiting for him when he got off work. After he left the store, he was headed home when a car jerked to a halt in front of him and the three men jumped out.

"So, where's your boyfriend?" the leader from earlier asked with a smirk.

"Look, I don't want trouble, so please just leave me alone", Akemi replied. When he tried walking around the men, they got in front of him. Every time he'd try and leave they'd crowd him again. Then as if out of nowhere, a fist connected with his face. His vision blurred, and before he could recover another landed, and then another.

Before Akemi knew it, he was on the ground, trying desperately to shield his face and head from the barrage of kicks that rained down on him. In the back of his mind, Akemi wondered if he was destined to die right here on the sidewalk. He tried to get up, then a foot slammed down on his head. Pain exploded in his head, and his wondering if he was going to die turned into the realization that dying is likely going to be his outcome.

Suddenly, the onslaught stopped and Akemi heard painful yelling. He tried turning his head to see what was going on, but his neck felt so sore and stiff, and his vision was a little blurred. He tried to focus, but darkness closed in and he fainted, falling to the concrete.

Unknown to Akemi, Takiya Katsutoshi had passed right by. At first he ignored the beating, but then he caught a glimpse of a now dirty and torn white dress shirt that a small-statured figure was wearing.

He stopped the car and strode over. The three were so pre-occupied with beating Akemi they never noticed he was approaching. In one blindingly fast movement, he grabbed the back of the nearest mans collar and violently yanked. The man came right off his feet, soaring backwards for a couple of feet before slamming into the concrete sidewalk.

The two remaining had just enough time to turn and look at him, but no time to do anything else. A fist seemingly made of steel landed on the throat of the second thug, who collapsed in a coughing and gagging fit. The last, the leader of the group, pulled a switchblade from his jeans pocket. He lunged at Takiya, bringing the knife down as he did. Takiya calmly caught the mans wrist, wretched the knife away from him, and buried it in his shoulder in what seemed like one fluid movement. He yelled in pain, but was silenced by Takiyas fist connecting to his temple. The man dropped like a rock.

The first man had gotten to his feet and charged. Takiya, almost boredly, brought his foot up, slamming it into the mans solar plexus. The man dropped, gasping for air.

He looked down at Akemi. The boy was battered but nothing serious, although he'd be feeling the beating for a couple of days. At the moment, the kid was out cold on the concrete. Takiya was debating about whether or not to leave the boy behind when he heard sirens off in the distance. Just his luck; someone must have called them when the attack started.

"Fuck it, come on kid, let's go", he said out loud. Noticing the bag of groceries on the ground, he threw them in his backseat and easily picked up Akemi. After dropping him in the passenger seat, he gunned the engine and roared down the street.

He looked over at his new passenger. It looked like he already had a little swelling and he was bleeding from a cut over his left eye. As he drove, he pondered what exactly he would do with the little blue-haired weakling. He decided to just take him home for the night and he could go back to his own place the next morning.

He sped down the street, rain just beginning to fall. He turned on his wipers to clear the windshield. As he turned on the street his apartment complex was located on, he heard soft moaning from the figure next to him. It seemed as though Akemi was waking up, or at least it did.

He opened his eyes and took a look at who was driving him. "You… were in my restaurant earlier… weren't you?" Akemi asked. Takiya nodded, to which Akemi nodded in return and promptly passed out again.

Letting go of the steering wheel with one hand, Takiya pinched the bridge of his nose to try and stem the headache he felt fast approaching. He sees a boy in the restaurant get harassed, and now, after never having met the kid until today, he stops to save him from a beat-down, and to top it off, takes him back to his place to recuperate?

'What the hell have I gotten into?' he wondered...