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Meeting of Families
#11
The Edenokōji would be aware of Kiyohito’s arrival. Their families would have communicated through their own channels. It implied that Kiyo’s purpose here was on business, but personal matters were off-limits to discuss. Unless he suspected that Haruto was being sheltered by the rival family, he would go no where near their affairs.

“You may know what I am, but you do not know who I am,” he replied softly. He immediately regretted the rebuke, but he disliked being known as anything more than his family. They were one in the same to most, but Kiyo feared he would never be more than a soldier of the Oyabun. He owed everything to his adopted father, but he desired more. It was an old wound. One that he toiled with constantly. Her statement was likely one of respect, but she had no business speaking of affairs that she knew nothing about.

A brother bode well. He may be less observant than her sister, but he was likely to be more worldly in comparison. He followed the girl to her abode, taking note that nobody seemed to notice Kiyo’s intrusion. He wondered who owned the bar and what they might obfuscate to find such behavior unworthy of remark.

“Eido, I am in your debt now,” he bowed his head outside her door. In that moment, he offered his card to her. It was a traditional token of respect as well as one of practicality. It gave her the means to contact him anytime as much as shared his identity with her. Including his affiliation with the Korii-Kai family.

Likewise, he removed off his shoes in exchange for the single pair of guest slippers. The room was poor but for the expensive creature occupying a noble cage. The conflict was not unnoticed. He did not remark upon what he noticed and instead waited patiently near a window, hands behind his back, while she sent her messages.

He declined any additional offerings other than the tea.
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#12
She accepted the rebuke without complaint. Her head ducked in acknowledgement.

The card she placed on the counter, after glancing at the name so she might introduce him properly upon her brother’s arrival. Though he offered it to her, she would defer it to Kota; the debt could be his, she would have no use for it. In truth the declaration made her uncomfortable, and though she knew it was a foolish thought, she felt as though her soul had overspilled its sin. He declined anything more, and stood by the window with his attention turned away. Eido finally took the opportunity to look him over, but otherwise she was simply quiet about her tasks. The phone buzzed with a returned message, but she did not read it, just slipped it back into her pocket. Kota would come.

Meanwhile the tea steeped and she arranged the tray. Her sleeves had been tugged back while she worked in the kitchen, not all the way, but enough that Gus had noticed the fresh scratches. The edges of the tattoo peeked, the design obscured, but she pulled the fabric down now. It was unlikely Kiyohito would remark upon it, but she would rather it not be noticed at all.

When she was done she took the tray to the low coffee table, and set out the service. None of the pieces matched, for china was not the sort of thing they packed for travels. The fragrance of herbs was soothing; a blend of green tea she purchased from the market. Eido took the place closest to the door, intending a mark of respect. Kota was not likely to care; he fell easily into Western practices. Normally Eido would not be concerned with it either, but that traditional card made her feel inclined towards the safety of ritual and the ways it would make her beneath notice.

She did not look up to see if Kiyohito would join her, or wait instead for her brother’s arrival. If he did she would pour for him without a word. Yakuza had little to do with women, and he already knew she could not help him in his search; he was likely to dismiss her now. Neither did she look up when the door finally opened. Kota must have been close by, to have arrived so quickly.

“This is Koraii-san. He has a favour to ask,” she said, opting for the polite respect and formality of his surname. She heard her brother’s solid footsteps pass the threshold. The scuff of him removing his shoes, a little belated, as he spoke his booming welcomes – in Japanese, of course.

“Welcome, Koraii-san.”


There was something in the sound of his feet that drew her attention up like an arrow. Kota was rarely so careless, mostly because he knew she did not like it. He had not bent to remove his shoes, just pushed with his heels until they lay discarded. She soon saw why. Blood soaked one arm, which he held gingerly at the wrist with the other. Mostly it seemed dry – she could smell it now, that sharp familiar tang. It did not drip.

Eido met his eye, frowning, but he only grinned at her, and moved to claim a perch on the arm of the sofa. He was a tall man, broad at the shoulder. Balanced like that, he looked like a roosting eagleowl. Eido’s gaze fell again, but only in frustration, since they could not talk freely. Her brother’s attentions remained with their guest. “I am Kota. In what way can I help you?”

“Excuse me,”
she murmured, rising nimble to her feet, to retrieve the first aid kit.

[[just fyi, since I won’t tag it every time. Kota will speak in Japanese. Eido will only use english]]
[Image: cherry-blosson.png]
• ChihiroKōta/Reaver
MalaikaDiana
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#13
The rustle of dishes drew Kiyohito’s side-long gaze. A familiar aroma followed, and the service was presented. Kiyo watched, unabashed, while she tucked herself into a diminutive position. Her manner was small as well, decreasing her physical presence to near obscurity. Theirs was a highly traditional family then, one unlikely to be descended from immigrants or Koreans. Despite the mismatched pieces, she laid them appropriately for chadō, as though the art of serving flowed through her veins. This told him they were not of peasant-status, and Kiyo briefly considered his own origins. Likely to be lesser than Eido by blood. Perhaps from the country, but an air of old nobility followed her aura. Kiyo's new family transcended blood of birth, though, and he held himself with the presence of superiority as a result.

He joined her table-side given the untold amount of time it would take for the brother to arrive. It would be rude for him to abstain, and she would wait for the guest to partake first before sampling her own tea. The heat of the water stung like nettles on his lips, but one sip was enough to fulfill the honor of receiving the offering. Kiyo’s observations settled upon his hostess for the meantime, perhaps trying to discern what story plucked her from Japan into this harsh western city. Though she was careful to cover her skin, he’d glimpsed the edge of ink on her arm, and he did not think it was from propriety that she hid her art. Tattoos were more common in women than they used to be, but for a traditional family like he surmised they were, hers must have been controversial at best. He did not comment on it.

Eventually, he came to watch the creature in its cage. It slept in a ball, whose slow breathing was the only sign of its life. He was about to inquire when the door opened. Kiyohito immediately rose in witness to the return of the apartment’s patron. He bowed his head in respect, but the corners of his eyes narrowed upon observation of the obvious.

Kota was wider in the shoulder than Kiyohito by a hand and almost twice that in height. He moved like the winds of old Ronin pushed upon his back. It was only instinct that sized up the other man, but Kiyo would have none of this show in his demeanor of course. He knew exactly what he himself was capable of, and he was a guest in another home.

Konbanwa. Good evening,” he said in return. His head nodded more than a dip between passers on the street, but less than one issuing deference. Kiyo believed himself to be the superior among them, but Kota’s westernized enthusiasm was unremarked upon.

“I insist that you please tend to yourself. My favors may wait,” he gestured at the arm and retreated across the tiny room to open as much space for brother and sister as possible.

He would refuse any other insistence to the contrary, and only when Kota had returned to share his sister’s tea would Kiyo continue.
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#14
[Image: Kota-200x300-1.jpg] [Image: eid.jpg]

Kiyohito was solicitous, which only seemed to amuse her brother. “Of course.” He glanced at Eido as she passed briefly from view, but she did not deign to match his expression. Doubtful that he had considered how this would look, even if Kiyohito was too polite to ask. It would be remembered, though. When she returned she perched on the edge of the couch, the box on her lap. It was nothing ornate, but it was certainly old, and smoothed with repeated use as she flipped the clasp and pushed back the lid. She lifted a small bowl for the detritus, placed on the cushion beside her, then arranged what she would need. 

Meanwhile Kōta was openly examining their quiet guest over her head, his arm relinquished to her care. She batted his other hand away from soiling the cushions. She would not be pleased to spend an hour scrubbing blood from the fabric. His clothes were his own responsibility though.

He had attempted some remedial repairs, which accounted for the dried blood. A tourniquet bunched at his elbow. The slash itself was into the meat of his forearm, like he’d raised it in hurried defence. She began to cut away the fabric, carefully depositing the mess into the bowl. This was not a common ritual for them. At least, not for many years. It stirred some memory in her, the ease with which she settled into old norms, as ingrained as the making of the tea. She gave it the same kind of dutiful focus.

Of other memories she was more careful.

Dreyken, she would guess. Fortunate it hadn’t nicked an artery, but she imagined by now his arm was throbbing. Kōta flinched at the first swipe of antiseptic, then gave a surprised laugh for his own reaction. When his attention arrowed down the question in her expression was quite plain. Was it dead?

“I would not have left otherwise,” he said of her pointed glare. “There is a Western saying about birds and bushes. I forget it. All gloriously in hand.”

“Were you distracted?”

“Ah, no. Just unlucky. I had something of an overambitious thought. Well, nevermind about that, mm?” He grinned down at her, egregiously careless, but she recognised the sting of sibling bait. She wouldn't have asked what he meant even had they been alone, but her expression did soften. He was her older brother by a good many years, and had always worn the mantle of protector. It was the root of her second greatest sin, yet the biggest contradiction was how she was not sure she could ever survive losing him. Evidence of his mortality was not well received. Once the blood was cleaned she tried to ascertain if it needed stitches, but sight of the injury so plain settled fluttery in her chest. She tried not to remember how Yua’s body had twitched before breath returned and her wings launched her skyward.

“Are you okay?” He leaned down to whisper it, concerned.

“Yes, of course.” She breathed carefully. It hadn’t happened in six years. It wasn’t going to happen now. Steri-strips would do.

“It wouldn’t be so bad,” he added, but she only frowned. It was not like Kiyohito did not have ears whatever the quiet volume of their conversation. His emphasis on discretion suggested he would extend them the same courtesy, and she did not think he had been sent by hunters, but she also thought he would be like a sponge. Absorbing everything. He spoke of honour, but she was not convinced it meant the same thing to one of the gokudō. Her own life was an ephemerally held thing, but Kōta’s life would not so easily be spent. Eido wouldn’t risk it in the same way.

“You know, I tried to take care of the worst. In case. But expedience seemed important.” He wiggled his fingers as she released the band and blood rushed a return down the limb. The wound oozed a little between the neatly placed strips, but did not begin bleeding.

“Maybe. Stop talking.” Her look was pointed, but brief. A small smile replaced the ire, tolerantly exasperated. The message she sent had indeed intimated some urgency, only she had imagined it would pull him away from a meeting of business, not a hunt. If those things met in a crossroads she did not want to know. And maybe she was wrong here, but she trusted Kōta’s judgement over her own. She had no right to judgement at all. “Go wash your hands, and attend to your guest.”

He did so while she began to pack things away. Blood tinged her own hands, but she did not seem to mind. When her burden was balanced neatly in her grip, she stood. Her eyes did not reach to find where Kiyohito stood, but she turned to his direction.

“Thank you for waiting.”

The rest of the clean up was completed in swift silence. Eido used the kitchen sink while her brother was in the bathroom. When Kōta returned he’d stripped the ruined shirt to the plain tank underneath. Various scars decorated his arms, but no other tattoos than the small snake; at distance, it looked like little more than two overlapping circles. His hair was still in a knot on his head, but she thought he had at least run a wash cloth over his face.

“Formality is it? I can do that.” He shrugged a little, but smiled warmly. An open hand gestured that they should all be seated then. “Your patience is commendable, Koraii-san. I thank you for it. I feel much refreshed, and am at your service.”
[Image: cherry-blosson.png]
• ChihiroKōta/Reaver
MalaikaDiana
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#15
A man with slashes on the forearm meant he was brave enough to defend himself and skilled enough walk away afterward. There were no obvious knives about his person, which implied concealment. A man to be respected, then, but he did not think them to be Yakuza. A brawl? In honor or defense. Perhaps, given the lowly surroundings, a debt to be extracted? There was a knife lashed to Kiyohito’s ankle. Secured high, along the edge of his leg kept obscured by his sock. Another was tucked into the inner fold of his jacket pocket. Nothing more; the two were plenty. He had fists after all.

What struck him strange the most was Eido's calm as she tended to her brother. Her expression was one of doleful concern, but her manners were sure and confident. This wasn’t the first time her brother returned bearing wounds of fights past, and she was the experienced nurse. If it hadn’t been for the artful service and old-world manners, he might have considered her a professional in the field. A doctor or nurse, but it was unlikely.

He was interested, and watched Kota’s reciprocal watch of him without restraint. They spoke of passings meaningless to Kiyohito, but a picture was clearly formed of the siblings. He joined Kota as requested once the man was cleaned. He looked like an enforcer when he returned. Muscles on display. Scars of fights survived, if not won, were apparent. A small tattoo made him imagine his own swathey skin-art, carefully hidden beneath his clothes.

A jab at Kiyo’s insistence of formality stung. The slap to his honor was mild, but Kiyo would not endure insults endlessly. For now, he let it slide and sat with a mindless flicking apart of his jacket button.
To business, he slid the wallet he previously showed his sister across the table.
“I’m looking for someone. Have you seen this man?” he asked.

Kiyohito was aware that a member of the Yakuza seeking a man generally meant ill-tidings. If Haruto had friends in Moscow, and Kiyo assumed his little brother was crawling with the in-crowd, he did not want to scare them off the trail in some effort to protect. So he waited a moment for Kota to consider the image on display. In it, Haruto was standing on the street, playing around as usual. His hair was shorter than it was the last time he saw him, but the look was generally telling of his preferred style. On the night in the image, he’d traded the typical suit jacket for a leather alternative, which always annoyed Kiyo when he did that. The rest of his appearance seemed to walk very edge of what counted for their standards. He wore trousers, but the shirt tucked into them was ill-fitting for instance. Sunglasses were hooked on his collar. There was no pin like the one currently fastened to Kiyohito’s lapel.

“Your sister says you might recognize him.” He glanced briefly at Eido.
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#16
Eido sat. It was polite, and there was nowhere she might easily retreat to in the small room, though she wished there had been. After pouring for Kōta, she sat with her hands resting flat on her thighs. Black hair arrowed either side of her face, the pale ghost of her expression empty. Her back remained straight. She was aware the gokudō glanced at her briefly, though she wished he hadn't – she hoped her part in this was now done. In any case she only directed her attention towards watching her brother. He sobered when it came time for business. Severity cut the line of his features. Eido was not accustomed to seeing him so.

She knew he worked on occasion with the Edenokōji in Moscow, and with the Niamatsu back in Osaka before that. Even back home he had been looking for ways to escape the life they had been chosen for, though as it turned out he'd had good reason for his fears. The Yakuza’s reputation had changed since Custody integration, but Eido and Kōta’s clan in Kyoto was ancient; prejudices ran deeply in a people so old, and his dabblings had never been looked on favourably. Eido usually turned her eyes away from his dealings, as she always had. If he had ever maintained contacts of his own within the Korii, Eido didn't know about them. Ignorance was the root of her discomfort now, for she would rather remain it. But duty was the stronger incentive.

“He is an earthquake rumbling in a glass shop. You would know him if you’d seen him,” she added quietly as Kōta perused the picture on the wallet; a repetition of Kiyohito's own description, verbatim, and why Kōta had come so quickly. It was the real reason she had not wanted to stay to hear the discussion to follow. They didn't hunt those born with ancient gifts, not unless they had a reason. And in six years they had never had one. Eido hoped the stir of instinct was utterly wrong; that the description was simply one of exuberant youth.

Kōta was quiet a while, thoughtful.

"I have seen him," he agreed, sliding the wallet back.
[Image: cherry-blosson.png]
• ChihiroKōta/Reaver
MalaikaDiana
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#17
There was little hope. Eido and her brother were a chance encounter in a bar chosen based on rumor. Kota was pensive. There was little speaking as well. Normally, he might have appreciated the silence, but for a flex of the jaw, time passed painfully slow. Until the tick of tense seconds was halted by Eido’s quoted description.

He might have smiled. Not quite sure whether she was listening from moment to moment. She trailed like a shadow and moved like a ghost. The way she cradled her brother’s wounded arm. Surprising.

Kota was finished, and Kiyohito’s attention was recaptured."I have seen him," he said and pushed the wallet back.

Half way to drawing it back, Kiyo paused.
“Really?” he said, genuinely surprised.

“Where?” he tucked the wallet back into the jacket pocket on the side opposite the pocketknife, standing up as if he was about to run to the location then and there.
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#18
The news took a moment to impact. When Kiyohito stood suddenly, braced as though he meant to leave this very minute, Eido reached reflexively to steady his cup. His reaction was surprising, in part because he had previously been so stoic, but also because she had been uncertain to what ends he searched. It had been the motivation for her earlier questions; wishing to hear in the tone of his description whether he meant his brother good or ill will. Kiyohito had not answered that time, and rebuked her for the later effort, but now she read plainly enough that whatever his intentions ultimately were, the love for his brother was genuine. She began to wonder what she might do if Kōta ever went missing, but stopped herself when she realised that allowing the stir of empathy was a foolish endeavour.

She did not look at Kōta anymore. Once her hand retreated, she only gazed down at the table, pensive. She understood from the tone of her brother’s voice that there was more to be said.

“A man who looks much like that is running with the Edenokōji-gumi,” he said eventually. He sipped his tea in the meantime, placed the cup carefully back down, resolutely casual. Kiyhoito’s outburst might be considered rude, but Kōta was hardly a stickler for it. He adapted to Western ways very well, almost as though he found them a relief from the life they had been born into. Probably he was watching the gokudō for his reaction, but Eido was mired in her own considerations of what they might do next. A man caught between two Yazkuza clans was a quandary. He might burst like a powderkeg if they handled this wrong.

Eido considered, then, that Kiyohito appeared to be in Moscow alone. One clan would be careful of blithely stepping into the territory of another, which might explain it, but recalling their earlier words she wondered if his solitary appearance might be down to something else. She wondered what he might be atoning for.

“We will help as we may, if you wish it of us,” she said. The pledge came easily, but she was peripherally aware of the surprised look Kōta gave her in response. She ignored it.

He boomed amused laughter. “Korii-san, what have you done to my sister?”

But he shrugged his agreement. Where Eido led, Kōta inevitably followed. Such was the way it had always been.
[Image: cherry-blosson.png]
• ChihiroKōta/Reaver
MalaikaDiana
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