"Jason, answer my question," Michael Baron said.
"I don't understand why you've spent the past four hours asking me questions. You're the one at fault here. Why didn't you protect him? Toshiro came to you for protection!"
Jason glared at the older man, tired of this senseless roundabout discussion. Twenty-five hours ago, he'd happily let Toshiro go to the grocery store, gods, maybe this was his fault.
If he'd just—
He scowled, just what?
He couldn't even fight against the men who'd taken him to the dock.
Jason rubbed his eyes and leaned on the table in the small dreary room. Michael Baron had no idea where they'd taken Toshiro. He'd hoped the man had a clue. At least then, there was hope of getting Toshiro before those bastards shipped him out of the country.
Stupid FBI Agent Michael Baron didn't know where they'd have stashed Toshiro.
Baron had asked him to leave Penn Yan as if he was going on a short trip. Barely able to curb his anxiety, he'd locked up the Watson house and driven into town. He'd given Sean a silly story about dropping Toshiro off at the airport. Sean had stared at him with a frown, but Jason hadn't cared.
Jason drove out of Penn Yan as fast as he could. The agent had urged him to drive to New York City, check into a hotel and wait for him. His imagination had gone into overdrive through the whole ride into Manhattan. Just thinking about Toshiro dead had him shaking like a leaf. He'd spent the night in a hotel, barely able to close his eyes. When he finally met Agent Baron, he'd felt hope that the man was going to take him straight to Toshiro. His hopes disappeared the moment Agent Baron picked him up and brought him into the small tiny room in this warehouse.
When Jason asked why they weren't at the police station, Baron had said they were too many curious people. The two men working with Agent Baron brought him coffee and then this endless interrogation had started.
Worried because they were asking him if Toshiro had another apartment in the city, which meant they had no clue where to find Toshiro.
"What are we doing?"
Jason stared at Michael with bleary eyes.
"We're wasting time here. Shouldn't you have people on the streets, looking for any clue?"
"I wish I lived in your shiny world. What kind of budget do you think we're running on?"
"Yeah, and Toshiro is really a criminal in the first place." Michael leaned on the table and folded his arms against his chest. "You and Toshiro spent one month and two weeks together. Let's go over everything he told you."
"You're treating me like a suspect. Do you think I'd hurt Toshiro?"
Jason glared at Michael but it didn't seem to have an impact. The bastard leaned on the table looking relaxed and untouched. His tie still in place, as though they hadn't spent hours in this stupid room, how did Michael stay so untouched?
"What is the question exactly?" Jason asked
"What did Toshiro tell you about his life?"
"He's a student at Columbia, MBA, he's graduating soon. I'm proud of him for that. Do you know he's really good with numbers," Jason smiled. "If you can find him, I want him working in my store."
"From what I've heard you want him working in your bed too," Michael shot back.
"Fuck you," Jason said with a scowl. "You're wasting time, you know."
"I'm not," Michael said then. "Toshiro trusted you. Did you talk about what he'd do if they came for him?"
Jason stared at Michael at a loss. He could barely remember anything but the fear and helplessness because that bitch who'd taken Toshiro had scared him. The way she'd looked at him, her…eyes. She was dead inside.
"I'd tell you if I knew anything, Agent Baron. If giving up my life meant I could save Toshiro from that bitch, I'd give it to you. We never talked about the future so…I never pushed. I know I should have, but—"
Jason shook his head in defeat.
Why hadn't he pushed?
"Family?" Michael asked.
Jason frowned. Goodness, did he know so little about Toshiro? He'd been too wrapped up in the physical stuff and how Toshiro made him feel.
Why hadn't he thought to ask more about Toshiro?
Granted Toshiro rarely talked about himself except that first time they'd made love. That night—
Jason lifted his head remembering a conversation on a rainy night.
"Natake. He said he was a Natake and that Kaito Takumi's family abducted him. I don't know if that helps."
Michael nodded his gaze thoughtful.
"What do you mean anything else? I've told you what he likes to eat, how long he sleeps, what he wears…where he lived—
"Where did he live?" Michael asked again.
"The same apartment you've talked about. You said your people are watching it. Since he's not there—, or hasn't—
"Give me the address, Jason," Michael insisted. "I want to compare it to what we have. Maybe our addresses don't match."
"I don't know the exact address. He said it was on the seventh floor, like a loft or something…"
"He lives in a small apartment with two bedrooms."
Jason shook his head.
"No, it's a floor length apartment on Broome Street. He renovated it himself, something about being able to do his work without too many questions."
"What else?" Michael asked sharply. "About that building, did he say anything else?"
"Uhm…" Jason frowned.
Toshiro had told him about that apartment a week ago when they'd discussed returning to Jason's loft. They'd been lying on the bed, enjoying a lazy Sunday morning. Toshiro lying back on the pillows, his hair spilled around his head like a dark cloud. So handsome…Jason had sunk his fingers into it, just to feel the texture. He'd wanted to see Toshiro in his space at that moment…his loft, becoming their loft.
"I have a space of my own too," Toshiro confessed with a soft sigh. "It was a place where I could be myself. I wish I could take you there with me. There's a bakery across the street that sells the best croissants on earth. I think you'd love them too."
"There is a bakery across the building," Jason told Michael now. "He liked the croissants there. He thought I'd like them."
Michael smiled then.
"See, I told you this wasn't a waste of time."
Jason frowned as the men at the door got on their cell phones. After four hours of nothing but talk…he shook his head as Michael urged him to his feet.
"Time to go," Michael said.
Finding the building wasn't difficult.
The waiting around in the back of an SUV almost drove Jason crazy. Michael was sure Toshiro was headed to the apartment.
Michael sent in two men to check if there was anyone in the apartment. When they'd found no one, the agents decided to wait.
Jason clenched his hands on his lap and tried not to sigh in frustration. The two men seated in the front kept sending him irritated glances. Michael talked non-stop on his cell phone to his unseen boss.
Jason sighed and earned himself a pair of irritated glances. The loud honking of a car drew his gaze to a group of men standing by the curb right across the building.
Jason gasped when he recognized the man who'd almost been hit by a car.
"Oh my God, there's Toshiro!"
Jason reached for the door handle.
Michael grabbed his arm and tugged him back into the backseat.
"Don't get out."
Michael spared him an irritated glare before he continued to talk into his cell phone.
Jason watched Toshiro cross the street, his chest tight. Five men and that woman from yesterday surrounded his boyfriend. Toshiro moved carefully, as though he was in pain. He looked so lonely. Jason grabbed the door handle again.
"Don't." Michael warned tightening his hold on Jason's arm. "We have to let this play out. Toshiro told you about this place for a reason."
Jason shook his head. He didn't care about reasons, or the stupid FBI. His boyfriend was in trouble, and alone. How could he just watch from here?
How could he?
His hand moved away from the door handle and Michael returned to his conversation. The two men seated in the front of the car were watching the building Toshiro had gone into. Tugging his arm out of Michael's hold, Jason let a sigh escape and tried to stay still.
What were they doing in there?
He couldn't get the sight of Toshiro walking into the building out of his head. So lonely…he couldn't bear it.
Michael watched him as though Jason was going to jump out of the car. And God, did he want to…
In his loft, Toshiro gave Pakino the code into his house. His fists clenched, he allowed one of Sakura's men to walk him into the loft. He'd left the space wide open, no walls except for the bedroom in the furthest corner and the bathroom attached to it. Japanese screens divided the kitchen area. In the middle of the room, he'd created a workstation with a private server to help manage Takumi's organization.
Pakino clapped his hands in appreciation at the sight and hurried to the wide desk.
"Do you need the password?" Toshiro asked to distract himself.
His heart was beating wildly, his gaze gauging the distance to the windows. He needed one shot, just one.
"Are you trying to insult me?" Pakino asked.
Toshiro felt a sense of betrayal when Pakino accessed the system with no trouble. He'd paid a fortune for a secure network. Sakura watched him. She knew him too well. Her gaze searched his, looking for his hidden card. She smiled at him slightly and he shrugged.
"Can I go to the bathroom?" he asked, nodding to the closed doors in the farthest corner.
"No," Sakura shook her head.
"I have no problem doing it here. Wanna watch?"
Sakura scowled at him.
"Seriously," he lifted his handcuffed hands with a jacket still over them. "What do you think I'll do? I need to go, Sakura-chan. Let me go to the bathroom."
She studied him warily. He shifted with impatience and her scowl deepened. She motioned the man who'd led him into the apartment.
"Take him; I don't want to smell anything nasty. Don't let him out of your sight."
Toshiro smiled and gave her a mocking bow. The man she'd ordered grabbed his arm roughly and pushed him toward the bedroom.
His guard left the bedroom door open, and nodded to the bathroom door. Toshiro moved his arms so that he dropped the coat on the carpet.
"Go on, don't stay too long."
Toshiro hurried to the bathroom, and moved to close the door.
"Leave the door open," his guard said.
"No way," Toshiro said pushing the door closed with his foot.
He grabbed a bottle of water from the bathroom counter, took off the cap and balanced the bottle on the rim of the toilet bowl. The resulting stream of water sounded like he was peeing. Leaning down, he grabbed the dagger handle on his left boot and tugged with force. Reaching for the one hidden in his right boot, he bumped his head on the bathroom counter and he groaned.
"Hey, hurry it up," his guard said.
Toshiro ignored the throbbing pain on his forehead and concentrated on making a plan. He couldn't use the daggers with his hands cuffed. He didn't have time to find something to pick the cuffs. The water ended and he glanced at the door.
"Yo!" the guard said in irritation. Toshiro heard him start toward the bathroom. "What are you doing in there?"
Toshiro climbed on top of the bathroom counter, flattening himself on the wall. The door swung open.
"What the hell—" the man started.
Toshiro jumped on his back, looping his arms over the man's neck. He wrapped his legs around the man's chest, and used all his strength to put him in a chokehold. Toshiro closed his eyes when the guard kept struggling, choking, barely able to make any sound, the man's fingers viciously digging into his arms; Toshiro ignored the scratches and tightened his arms around the man's neck.
Fuck, his ribs hurt like hell.
Toshiro clenched his teeth and held on tight, using all his strength, until the man staggered and started sinking to the ground. Toshiro jumped off him then and made sure the man fell to the tiled floor without too much noise. He stood still for a moment staring at the unconscious man, listening, when no one came running, he let out a soft breath. Crouching over his victim, he searched for the key. When he found the small key in the man's pockets, he paused long enough to open the cuffs and use them on the guard. Throwing the key into the toilet, Toshiro flushed it and grabbed his daggers.
Stepping out of the bedroom, Toshiro walked with purpose to the small group surrounding his computer station. The jacket over his wrists hid his daggers, every cell in his body trembled in anticipation.
"Where is Ando?" Sakura asked him, glancing up from where she was reading data on the screen.
"The bathroom," Toshiro shrugged. "He ordered me here with you coz he had to go."
Sakura nodded and returned her attention to the computer.
Toshiro stepped back dropping the jacket, and sunk his daggers into the man closest to him, pulled them out, he swung to the next man. His attack too abrupt, both men fell to the ground before the other two could reach for their guns.
Toshiro let his daggers go and grabbed a gun from one of the fallen men. He straightened and pressed the muzzle to Sakura's forehead.
"You're dead." Sakura hissed at him, her gaze hard as she met his gaze.
"So are you," he said, aware of the two men on the other side of the desk pointing guns at him.
Jason jumped out of the car when glass exploded and a body flew out of the top floor. His heart in his throat, he ran toward the red brick building. The man who'd jumped out seemed to be holding on to thin strip of wire. He stopped short when he realized it was Toshiro. The wire was short, and stopped on the third floor. Toshiro dangled in midair, with nothing but pavement below him, and then he was falling.
The cry came out raw. Jason rushed toward his boyfriend who fell on the pavement on his side. Blood thundering in his ears he ran to Toshiro's side, barely breathing. Kneeling on the pavement, he touched Toshiro's shoulder and rolled him to his back.
Toshiro groaned and looked at him with pain-filled eyes. Relief flooded Jason so hard he gasped.
Toshiro was alive.
"We have to stop meeting like this," Toshiro joked with another painful groan. "I think I broke something this time."
"You idiot," Jason bent to kiss Toshiro only to be moved to the side and Toshiro stood abruptly. A pair of gunshots cut through the sound of sirens. Jason glanced up in time to see that woman who'd taken Toshiro fall out of the building.
Police surrounded them, Jason moved closer to Toshiro.
"I never wanted people pointing guns at you," Toshiro said turning to look at him. "I hope you forgive me."
"Drop the gun," one of the policemen ordered.
Toshiro dropped his gun, and instead of raising his arms, he started falling. Jason wrapped his arms around Toshiro fast and gasped when Toshiro pressed a hand to his left side.
There was blood, lots of blood…
"Oh God," Jason pressed his hand over Toshiro's bleeding stomach as they fell to the pavement. "Someone help! He's been shot, help us!"
Toshiro stared at him, his gorgeous brown eyes strangely peaceful.
"You came after me."
"I didn't even do anything. I'm so angry with you right now. Stop talking," Jason ordered, his hands pressed on Toshiro's stomach. There was so much blood, so much. "Why did you have to do this alone? You idiot, you should have waited. We were right outside."
Toshiro smiled; a tired tug of his lips.
"I'll do better next time."
"There is not going to be a next time." Jason shook his head. "You owe me your life, Toshiro. You owe me. You're moving in with me, and you're living a small town life, Toshiro Shindo."
"That sounds great," Toshiro reached up to touch his jaw. "I—
"Don't tell me now," Jason ordered harshly. "Tell me later."
"I'm so tired," Toshiro said, his hand dropping away, his fingers leaving bloodstains on Jason's jaw.
His eyes drooped.
Jason saw the paramedics rushing toward them.
"Fucking hurry," he screamed. "Toshiro, hang in there for me. Please, don't you let go. You hear me—"
Give him back to me.
Please, don't take him away from me.
I'll do anything.
I'll take anything but Toshiro gone.
Eyes swollen from lack of sleep and tears, Jason clutched Toshiro's hand, and willed his strength into him.
"Anything," he whispered.
Outside the ICU, a hoard of people waited, all of them wanted something from Toshiro. Jason didn't know them so he had refused to leave Toshiro's side.
Oh God, his hold on Toshiro's hand tightened. Please don't do this to me. I love him. Please, I love him. I love him! Give him to me. I'll take care of him. I promise.
Toshiro looked so still. His hair was a tangled mess, his skin pale. The doctor's explanation had sounded so complicated. Toshiro had lost a lot of blood. He had severely bruised ribs. His right arm was broken from his fall, and the gunshot had done more damage than the doctor liked. The pain was too much, so they'd put Toshiro in a drug-induced comma to manage his infection levels.
Jason didn't know much about medicine. He wished Keira were here, she'd explain it all better. She'd know what to say to make him understand what was going on inside Toshiro. Right now, all he saw was a bruised man in bed so lost to him, so far away Jason couldn't reach him.
Please God, I'm begging you. I'm really begging you…
How could he expect God to hear him? Jason sighed. He hadn't prayed since…jeez, he couldn't remember.
He stared at Toshiro's bruised fingers. So many scratches and bruises, he scowled when he noted the dirt under Toshiro's fingers. What were the nurses doing?
Jason shifted to reach for the nail cutter on the bedside table. He spent the next few minutes trimming Toshiro's nails. Removing any traces of dirt, rubbing his thumb over the curve of Toshiro's thumbnail, his gaze strayed to Toshiro's sleeping face.
"You have to wake up," he said. "I really want you to move in with me. Did you know I do all my books by hand? I bet you'd laugh at me for that. You have to make it better for me. I think you'd love that. You'll never have to worry about anything at the shop. It can be ours, together. I need you, Toshi."
He stopped and stared at Toshiro's still hand.
"I've never said that to anyone."
His eyes blurred. Placing the nail cutter on the bedside table, he dashed the tears away and returned to holding Toshiro's hand.
God, you listen to me. I know I haven't prayed in—well—never. But, I'm praying now. Toshiro, he's everything to me. So, keep him here with me, okay? You can't have him.
His heart clenched and he wished he were more faithful, more spiritual.
The door opened behind him and he refused to look up to see who else was here. He'd told Michael Baron to leave them alone.
Sean's voice had him glancing up.
"Sean." He didn't want to let go of Toshiro's hand. "I didn't think you'd come—
"Of course I had to come." Sean moved closer and rubbed his back. "My God, what happened? The whole floor is flooded with police, FBI, a bunch of Japanese people. What's happening?"
"I don't know." Jason shook his head, not ready to deal with the outside. He didn't want to know what they all wanted from Toshiro. "I just need him to wake up. He's been out for three days, Sean. He's not waking up. The doctor keeps talking about infection."
Sean rubbed his back.
"When was the last time you slept?"
"I'm not leaving him."
"I'm not." Jason shook his head. "I can't."
"You need to," Sean urged. "You need sleep, you need food."
Jason shook his head, his hold on Toshiro's hand tightened.
"What if he wakes up?"
"I'll stay with him."
Jason was reluctant to leave Toshiro, half-afraid if he left, someone would take him away. Even with Sean watching, he shook his head unsure. When Sean patted his shoulder, Jason leaned his elbows on the bed and decided he couldn't leave Toshiro.
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