❯ Family Bonds – Family Bonds ch. 4 ( Chapter 4 )
When Kaoru awoke the next morning, it was storming outside. It had been the thunder that woke him. In his dream, the thunder had manifested itself as the fireworks from the picture of his mother. He looked at the time, and saw that it was a bit later in the morning than he usually awoke.
“Well, Aoi and I were up fairly late, last night,” he thought as he was getting dressed. He felt fairly good about the sudden change in his life, though he was still a little over-whelmed at suddenly having a brother. His time with Aoi last night had really helped him.
“I hope she got enough sleep. I know she was up before everyone else, making breakfast.”
With the thought of breakfast, came the grumblings of hunger from his stomach, so he went into the main house to see if there was anything left.
As he walked into the dining room, he didn’t see any evidence that breakfast had been made. Neither were there sounds of cooking being made by Aoi in the kitchen. He went up to Miyabi’s office to see if she was in there, working.
“Ms. Miyabi?” he asked, knocking on the door.
“Come in, Sir Kaoru,” came the muted reply.
He walked into the office, and saw Miyabi sitting at her desk.
“Good morning, Ms. Miyabi,” greeted Kaoru.
“Good morning to you,” said Miyabi.
“Have I missed breakfast?” he asked.
“No, you have not,” answered Miyabi. “Ms. Tina, Ms. Taeko, and Ms. Chika all went shopping this morning, and said they would get breakfast while out. Lady Aoi is still asleep.”
“Aoi’s still asleep?” asked Kaoru, incredulously. “Is she feeling ok?”
“She is fine,” Miyabi said. “While she was asleep, I went into her room and turned off her alarm clock, as you did keep her up late last night.”
“Oh,” he said, “speaking of last night, I wanted to thank you for that. It really meant a lot to me. I truly thank you.”
“Think nothing of it, Sir Kaoru,” said Miyabi. “Now, is there anything else you need?”
“Have you eaten yet, Ms. Miyabi?” he asked.
“Actually, I have not,” she replied. “I was going to prepare something when I was finished with this fiscal report.”
Kaoru had an idea suddenly. “Would you mind if I made you some breakfast this morning? I’m not as good of a cook as Aoi, but I rarely burn anything.”
Miyabi looked surprised. “That would be very nice of you, Sir Kaoru. Thank you.”
“It’ll only take a few minutes, then,” he said and left.
In the kitchen, Kaoru made breakfast for himself, Miyabi and Aoi. His idea had been to bring Aoi breakfast in bed. He thought that it would be a nice touch. He made a very simple breakfast of miso soup, a Japanese omelet, and rice with nori. Since he also liked toast with jam, he prepared that as well. After making some tea, breakfast was ready.
He carried a tray to Miyabi first, who was somewhat impressed by the traditional fare he provided.
He chuckled to himself as he left the office. “She probably thought I would have made instant noodles or something,” he said aloud.
Going back down to the kitchen, he made up a second tray, this one with food for two. He carried it up the stairs to Aoi’s room, anticipating her surprise.
He set the tray down, and very softly knocked on Aoi’s door. When there was no response, he quietly slid the door open. Peeking into the room, he saw Aoi’s slumbering form. She was lying on her side, clutching her pillow tightly.
Quietly, he entered the room and placed the tray next to the sleeping girl. He then went and drew open the curtains. The daylight was muted by the thunderclouds overhead. He hoped that Tina and the others weren’t outside.
As the smell of breakfast reached Aoi’s bed, she stirred and awoke. “Oh my! I over-slept,” she said, with a touch of alarm. “I am so sorry, Kaoru. I really thought I had set my alarm!”
“It’s ok, Aoi,” chuckled Kaoru. “Ms. Miyabi snuck in here and turned off your alarm since we were up so late last night. I went ahead and made breakfast,” he said, as he arranged the tray on the floor.
Aoi was, needless to say, thrilled at the idea of breakfast in bed, though she was still somewhat mortified at having slept so late.
“Thank you for the food,” Aoi said, and poured some tea for Kaoru and herself.
As they ate, they talked of inconsequential things, neither one feeling the need to continue talking about yesterday. Their shared feelings had said all that needed to be said. For now, they just enjoyed each other’s company as a normal couple might. These were the moments they cherished above all others.
After they finished eating, Kaoru carried the dishes downstairs so Aoi could get dressed and ready to start the day, as she always did. She was humming happily as she performed her morning ablutions. She was, she felt, a very lucky girl.
When Chika, Taeko and Tina all returned, they found Kaoru and Aoi figuring out which of the photos would go up on the wall, and where they would go. They were all very relieved to see Kaoru smiling and relaxed.
“Good morning, everyone,” said Aoi.
“Good morning!” came the reply from Chika and Taeko.
“GAH!” exclaimed Tina, “I’m soaked clear through!”
“Well, you were the one who wanted to go out to eat this morning,” Taeko pointed out, shaking the water off of her umbrella.
“That’s right,” agreed a dripping Chika.
“You had all better get changed into dry clothes, before you catch a cold,” said Kaoru.
“Forget changing clothes,” said Tina. “I’m going to take a bath!”
“That’s a good idea,” Chika said. “I’ll join you!”
The two girls ran off, singing.
“I had better get changed so I can start cleaning,” said Taeko and went off to her room, stumbling along the way.
The rain stopped in the early afternoon, though thunder could still be heard in the distance. Everyone except Miyabi was downstairs in the sitting room. Reiichi was, unsurprisingly, the topic of discussion.
“I was really shocked at how angry he was towards you, Big Brother,” said Chika. “He kind of scares me. I hope he’s nicer today.” She looked a little worried.
“Don’t you worry, Chika!” Tina stated. “If he tries anything, Uzume will protect you!” Uzume perked up at the sound of his name, but seeing there were no bugs to catch, he went back to playing with Kaoru’s shoelaces.
“I don’t think he would do anything to hurt anyone here, even if he still hated me,” said Kaoru, confidently. After reading his mother’s last letter to him, Kaoru was sure that Reiichi was really a nice guy.
“I agree,” said Aoi. “He probably just misunderstood the situation.”
“I must admit, Senpai, that hearing about your past kind of surprised me,” said Taeko.
“Yeah,” agreed Tina. “I mean, when I met you, you were real quiet and down all the time. I’d always wondered why. Now that I know, I’m really glad I asked you to join the photo club”
“I’m glad you did, too, Tina. It really helped me to get over everything. You all have.”
Just then, Miyabi walked into the room. “Mr. Misukuni just called to say that he was on his way over. Taeko, would you please make sure that some tea is ready?”
“Of course, Ms. Miyabi,” Taeko affirmed.
As Taeko left, Miyabi walked over to Kaoru. “We will all be here for you today, Sir Kaoru,” she promised.
“Thanks, Ms. Miyabi. I don’t think today will be as hard as yesterday, though.”
A short while later, the doorbell rang, and everyone sat up, while Taeko went to get the door.
“Good afternoon,” came the pleasant greeting from Reiichi.
“Good afternoon,” said Kaoru. “Would you like some tea?” he asked, offering a cup.
“Yes, thank you,” he said. As he sat, everyone in the room was very quiet. After a few moments of silence, Reiichi spoke up.
“I want to apologize for my behavior yesterday. I admit that I was wrong about you, Kaoru. I hope you can forgive me.”
“It’s ok, Rei,” said Kaoru. “I’m not sure how I would have acted in your shoes, but I think I can understand why you thought what you did.”
“I’m glad,” he replied.
“If you don’t mind, could you tell us what happened to you and our mother after your father passed away?” asked Kaoru.
A flicker of pain crossed Reiichi’s face. “It’s not an easy story for me to tell, but I will try.” He paused, collecting his thoughts.
“After father passed away,” he began, “mother and I tried our hardest to maintain the resort. The business was picking up, but we still couldn’t afford to hire anyone, and no one was willing to work for room and board only. So we struggled for several years, though the money we received from father’s life insurance helped. Mother tried to take on as much of the work as she could to allow me time to pursue my interest in music, but when she fell ill, it was harder and harder for her to do. After a while, I decided to close the resort for a time, hoping that the rest would do mother some good. Sadly, it didn’t really help her get better, and I knew then that she was dying. That was when she wrote her final letter to you, and asked me to deliver the box. A few days later, she died. I used the last of my father’s life insurance money to bury her in a good cemetery, north of Tokyo.”
“I found her grave,” Kaoru interjected, “I’ve been to visit her several times. It is a very nice place for her to lie.”
“So you were the one who would place flowers and incense there,” said Reiichi. “I had wondered about that, several times.” He smiled at Kaoru, for the first time. “I’m glad to know now that it was you.”
Pouring himself another cup of tea, he relaxed back on the couch.
“After mother passed, I tried for a few months to run the resort, but my heart wasn’t in it. I started to look at other careers, and was approached by a friend of my old music instructor. He said he was with a production company, and had heard that I was a very talented musician. He asked if I would like to work for his company. When he told me what he wanted me to do, I admit that I thought it was a joke.”
“What did he want you to do?” asked Chika, who had stopped feeling nervous by then.
Reiichi laughed, aloud. “Would you believe he wanted me to compose Anime soundtracks?”
Kaoru chuckled a bit, “I’ve not seen much Anime, but some of the ones I have seen had good soundtracks. That sounds like a good job,” he said.
“It is,” replied Reiichi. “For most of my life, I’ve liked Anime. I’m not an otaku or anything, but it’s generally enjoyable to watch.”
“Have you done any, yet?” Tina asked.
“I’m working on my first one, now. It’s an anime based on a video game.”
“Which one?” Tina seemed very excited.
“Super Biting Dog,” said Reiichi.
Tina jumped up and squealed. “I love that game!” she shouted. “I’m gonna watch every episode that comes out!”
Reiichi quirked an eyebrow, and looked askance at Kaoru.
Kaoru made a negating motion with his had. “Don’t worry about her,” he said, “Hang around long enough, and you sort of get used to it.”
“I’ll take your word for that,” said Reiichi, with a shrug.
After Tina settled down, Reiichi continued.
“Though somewhat funny, I thought that it would be a fairly good job, and would get my foot in the door of music composition, so I agreed to take it. After a few weeks, I managed to find a buyer for the resort, since I would rather have sold it and have it stay open than just close it altogether. With the money I had from the sale, I bought some new composition equipment. I also bought the car, and the trailer from an American sailor who lived in Sasebo and wanted a smaller car. Since I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up, I thought it would be easier to carry everything with me, so I packed everything in the trailer. I just had to deliver the box to you, and then I would be able to go wherever.”
“Where do you plan to go, now?” asked Kaoru.
“I’m not too sure, just yet. I have enough money for a down payment on a small house, so I figure I’ll probably go to Hokkaido. I can sell the car when I get there, and live off of that until I start getting money for my compositions.”
Kaoru and Aoi looked over at each other. A thought passed between them, and with a smile, Aoi nodded. Miyabi saw the look, and inwardly sighed. She knew where this was going.
“I have an idea, if you would like to hear it, Rei,” said Kaoru.
With a slightly perplexed look, Reiichi said, “I’m listening.”
“Why don’t you just live here, with us,” Kaoru suggested.
“Excuse me?” Rei said, dumbfounded. “Live here? But, you hardly know me!”
“I think that’s kind of the point,” Tina said, smugly.
“What do you mean?” Reiichi asked.
“The fact that I hardly know you is what prompted me to offer this, Rei. I would like to get to know you better,” said Kaoru.
“But, I’m a total stranger,” he said, aghast.
“Sir Kaoru’s mother trusted you,” said Miyabi. “That is enough for Sir Kaoru, I think.”
Just like that, Miyabi voiced her approval of the idea. Both Aoi and Kaoru were relieved. Aoi wasn’t sure what she would have done had Miyabi refused, but she felt it would be good for Kaoru to have his brother near. Hokkaido was a long ways away.
“She’s right,” agreed Aoi, “and I think it is a great idea.”
Kaoru leaned over with a serious look on his face. “You and I are brothers, Rei. Though we hardly know each other, we are all the family the other has left. I’ve just met you, and now I want to get to know you better. I hope you feel the same way.”
Rei was very stunned. “I would like to get know you better, as well, but I would feel uncomfortable in this big house.”
“Well, if Ms. Manager wouldn’t mind, Tae and me could move into the main house, and you and Kaoru could have the dorm house,” said Tina.
“That would be acceptable,” Miyabi approved.
“There would even be a private room for you to work in,” said Kaoru. “Just think about it for a day, or so. The offer will still be open.”
Rei leaned back on the couch. “No, I won’t think about it,” he said.
Kaoru felt the bitter sting of disappointment.
“No,” repeated a smiling Rei. “I don’t need to think about it. I accept your offer and gladly,” he said.
Everyone started cheering happily.
“This is gonna be great!” yelled Tina “We gotta throw a party tonight!”
Aoi and Kaoru smiled at each other. This was going to be a very good thing, they thought. All in all, life was good.
“I do expect,” Miyabi said suddenly, looking sternly at the capering Tina, “that once you are living in the house, you will keep your room much cleaner that you do now. I will be checking it regularly.” Everyone laughed at Tina’s panic stricken expression.
Life was good, indeed.