"You're dead," Sakura said.
"So are you."
Sakura's voice sounded far away. Unreal, yet it was so final. His body felt numb, stuck in one place.
"I wish you'd stop pointing guns at each other," Pakino said, drawing Toshiro's attention to the workstation. "I can't figure out these accounts with this ruckus."
Toshiro's gaze swept to the two men aiming guns at him. Taki seemed to have stepped out. He had minutes if that was the case, minutes to end this for good. The accounts Pakino was checking were basic. The balances pittances compared to the fortune they were looking for, but he had his own plans. Plans that would end the moment Pakino made his transaction.
Toshiro pressed the muzzle of his gun harder into Sakura's forehead and she hissed in annoyance.
"She'll be dead before you shoot," he warned the two men watching him. "Sakura, what are your priorities?"
The men across the desk stared at him, unmoving, their guns not wavering. Toshiro shifted, moving to put Sakura in between him and the two goons.
"I'm getting our money and killing you. I know you don't believe I'm helpless right now, Toshiro," Sakura said, studying him.
Her eyes were murderous. If she survived this, she was going to kill him without hesitation. She'd learned how to survive the same way he had, on Takumi's lap with no mercy to spare. Yeah, he was going to have a hard time putting her down.
Pakino gasped drawing her attention and Toshiro's heart slammed in his chest.
It was done.
"What did you do?" Pakino turned to look at him.
"What's wrong?" Sakura demanded glaring at the screen.
She ignored Toshiro's pointed gun, and he let her. Pakino had a spreadsheet filling the screen. A green strip at the bottom blinked at them.
"Did you find the money? Transfer it to the accounts I gave you."
Pakino turned his accusing gaze on Toshiro.
"You set me up."
"You were always too cocky."
Sakura grabbed Pakino's hair, her nails digging into his skull, she snarled.
"What is going on?"
"Hurting me won't help you."
Pakino reached up to ease Sakura's hold on his hair.
"Where is the money?" she asked digging her nails deeper.
Pakino hissed and glared at Toshiro.
"What do you mean?"
"He played us. I thought I found the money in the accounts we found here. I was going to transfer it into the accounts you gave me, but—
"But what?" Sakura let go of Pakino's hair and turned to the screen. She stared at the blinking zeros in green. "What does that mean? Whose account is this?"
"Private banking is beautiful, isn't it?" Toshiro asked then stepping back again. "Kaito trusted me so much with multiplying his money. He never realized how deep I'd gone."
Sakura pointed to the screen again.
"Whose account Pakino?"
Pakino sighed and pushed his chair back.
"Don't kill me. I didn't do it. He did. The moment I logged on to this workstation, we were going to lose everything."
"Everything?" Sakura asked her voice tinged with anger. "What—
"The transfer I made turned into a reverse transaction. He must have set it up—"
"Set what up?" Sakura asked her voice rising. "Start making sense Pakino before I gouge out your eyes."
"He emptied all our accounts. All the accounts you gave me," Pakino said in a whisper. "He's taken everything."
Sakura moved so fast, Toshiro almost didn't see her coming. She grabbed his gun arm, her grip tight as she slammed into him. Her knee jerked up and he sidestepped her so that she hit his thigh. They stumbled back and he fell back on the wooden floor. She straddled his neck, holding his arm over his head. He threw the gun toward the windows, and grabbed Sakura's right wrist as she moved to slam the tip of her heel into his eye.
How she'd gotten to her shoe so fast, he had no clue. Damn it, her anger was making her strong. He lifted his legs hoping to dislodge her, but she tightened her knees on his neck holding him down.
"You're a bastard," she growled, her eyes filled with hatred. "What you've done to us—
"You deserve it."
He managed to dislodge her hold on his left arm.
Toshiro slammed his palm into her nose and she screamed. He pushed her off and scrambled to his feet. The two men started shooting and he moved to hide behind a leather couch. His gun was by the windows. Sakura groaned a few feet away on the floor.
"You're not getting out of here alive," Sakura promised him then. "Stop hiding and die with dignity, Toshiro."
Dignity be darned, he wanted to live. Toshiro stared at the windows ahead of him. He needed to live, for Jason. His legs felt frozen. He had to move, run to the windows and grab the wire he'd mounted on the wall for internet connection. It wasn't long enough but…he sighed. He'd just have to hope for the best.
"Toshiro," Sakura said too close to the couch.
Toshiro crouched and ran his hand under the leather couch. He almost despaired when all he felt was the smooth feel of leather. His fingers touched a cold handle and he smiled. He didn't have time to celebrate because the two men appeared to his right. He dragged the gun out and shot mindlessly. One fell back, the other shot into the couch right next to his head. Toshiro pushed off the couch and shot into the man's leg then ran for the windows.
Suddenly he was in the air, falling….falling…
There was nothing to stop his fall below him. A scream formed in the back of his throat, but even that wouldn't come out…
Jason swept strands of damp hair off Toshiro's forehead. He stared at the still face and wished that he could see Toshiro's brown eyes, those stunning brown orbs that left him breathless. He traced the curve of Toshiro's lips. When Toshiro smiled, his lips made this curve: a small slight curve that brightened Toshiro's face. Jason wished he could see it now.
He wished so much.
He glanced up to see Sean holding out a cup of coffee to him. He hadn't heard Sean come in. Taking the cup, he placed it on the bedside table.
"Did you sleep?" Sean asked.
He nodded to the cot in the corner. Sean had charmed the nurses into setting it up.
"A few hours," he said, returning his gaze to Toshiro. "The doctor said he should wake up today. They stopped drugging him. I don't know why he's not waking up."
"Give him time," Sean said. "I'm happy to see you at least changed. Did you eat breakfast?"
Jason shrugged. He was sure if he tried to eat, it would choke him. He sighed and reached for Toshiro's hand. He froze when he saw a finger move.
"Did you see that?"
Sean frowned. "It's just reflex."
"He's waking up," Jason said hope flaring. "Toshi?"
"It could be nothing," Sean started.
"Toshiro," Jason said, sure that Toshiro was waking up. He'd watched him for days; there had been no movement before. "Baby, open your eyes for me. Please wake up. I'm waiting for you."
"Open your eyes for me."
It sounded like Jason's voice. So far, so far…he kept falling…
"Baby, come back to me."
Jason sounded distressed, so desperate…Toshiro sighed. He had to open his eyes, for Jason, he'd do anything.
Beeping filled the room, Toshiro looked like he was struggling to come to, and Jason panicked, tightening his hold on Toshiro's hand. Nurses came running in followed by the doctor. Sean tried to pull Jason away from Toshiro.
"Come on, give them room to work," Sean urged.
"No." Jason moved closer to the bed. "I have to stay. I have to—
"Get him out!" the doctor ordered.
"No. Please let me stay."
Jason moved to fight the nurses who grabbed his arm and took him out. They were stronger than they looked. The beeping was so loud, the nurses busy around Toshiro's bed. He couldn't see Toshiro anymore. A sob rose up when they closed the door, and he turned away lost.
A cloud of flowers surrounded him. The comforting hug so warm, he couldn't help but bury his face into the soft cashmere jacket.
"He…okay," a soft voice said.
Somehow, that soft broken assurance seemed to soothe his aching heart. Jason clung to the woman not sure who she was. Her comfort however made her feel familiar.
She held him for what felt like hours. She didn't say much, but when he moved slightly, her hold around his shoulders loosened and he straightened up. He wiped his hand over his eyes and stared at the older Japanese woman standing before him. She was beautiful. Her eyes matched Toshiro's brown, thought not as light. She didn't smile her expression too somber to allow it. Dressed in a grey skirt suit, her haircut a neat bob, her feet in black shoes, she looked like she worked a corporate job.
She turned to a man next to her and spoke in Japanese. The man looked at him and bowed slightly.
"She is Mrs. Yuriko Natake. Mr. Toshiro is her son. She worries too," the man said.
He'd seen her when she first came three days ago. He ignored her then thinking she was part of Michael Baron's posy. The group of law enforcement kept watching Toshiro's room as though he was going to get up and walk out. She hadn't tried to talk to him but he'd seen her watching him when he came out to go to the bathroom. Every time he stepped out of Toshiro's room, she'd watched him.
"I'm sorry," he said, feeling like a bastard. He'd been so absorbed in his worry. "Gosh, I'm so sorry."
She touched his hand and shook her head. She spoke in Japanese again, her voice gentle.
"Please don't apologize," the man next to her said. "She didn't want to intrude. It's obvious how much you care for Toshiro. She's grateful you are here."
Jason nodded and stared at her. He didn't know what to say. It was strange having a conversation with a third party translating everything. He suddenly wished he'd been good with languages. He might have taken Japanese in school or something…
She sighed and spoke again.
"Mrs. Natake apologizes. She doesn't trust her English. It's very basic."
He nodded and squeezed her hand.
"I understand." He met her worried gaze and nodded. "I really do, Mrs. Natake. Stay with me?"
Her eyes widened at his offer. Her eyes lit up like Toshiro's when she smiled and he kicked himself for not having seen the resemblance before. He squeezed her hand and turned to stare at the door waiting for the doctor.
They waited for almost half an hour. By the time the door opened, he felt like he might have traveled the world and come back. Jason took in a deep breath, watching the doctor's face as he talked to the nurses.
The doctor came toward them.
"Toshiro's family?" the doctor asked.
"Yes," Jason nodded happy when Sean moved to stand on Mrs. Natake's right side making them a unit. "How is he? Is he…okay?"
"Toshiro is awake."
Jason couldn't help the smile. He turned and hugged Mrs. Natake before he turned to the doctor.
"Can we see him?"
"He's in pain, but we're managing it. He needs rest."
"He'll get it," Jason said with a nod.
"Alright, the nurses will check on him. You can see him but don't tire him out," the doctor ordered.
Jason smiled and moved to take Mrs. Natake with him. When she didn't move, he turned to look at her.
"Aren't you coming?" he asked.
She looked at the door to Toshiro's room, her expression nervous.
"No," she said, her tone hesitant. "You go."
When he frowned, she patted his arm.
"I talk to doctor, go."
She let go of his arm and gave him a reassuring smile. Eager to see Toshiro, he hurried into Toshiro's room with a slight frown. He hoped she wouldn't leave now that Toshiro was awake.
Entering the room, he walked to the bed to find Toshiro's eyes closed. A surge of disappointment filled him because he'd hoped to see Toshiro sitting up. He stopped by the side of the bed and reached for Toshiro's hand. The nurses had remade the bed, and changed Toshiro's gown. He was in a blue one with black dots. They'd also combed his hair.
Jason sighed, his gaze dropping to Toshiro's hands.
"Why are you so disappointed?"
Jason looked up to find Toshiro watching him.
"Hey," he said on a soft pleased gasp. "You're awake."
Toshiro gave him a small tiny smile.
"You look terrible, Jason."
He laughed because that was ridiculous. He wasn't the one lying in bed with a broken arm, bruised ribs and a hole in his gut.
Gods, how could Toshiro joke right now?
Jason swallowed hard.
"I want to hold you, but I'm afraid I'm going to hurt you."
Toshiro tugged on his hand, a light movement.
"I'd really like it if you held me."
"Please," Toshiro said. "Don't make me beg."
Jason didn't need a second invitation. Walking around, he got on the bed and lay down with care. He'd chosen Toshiro's right side to get away from the IV drip and the other wires connected to Toshiro.
Jason slipped his arms around Toshiro and sighed when Toshiro shifted to move into his arms. He buried his face into Toshiro's hair and rubbed his back. They stayed like that for a while, enjoying each other's warmth.
"I was so scared," Jason confessed in a soft whisper. "Toshi, you took years off my life. I thought you were going to die."
Toshiro remained silent.
"Don't do this to me again," Jason begged. "I don't think I can take it."
Toshiro sighed then.
"If it's over, I'll come with you."
"There is no if," Jason said. "It's over. I don't care what they want from you. You're staying with me from now on. I love you, Toshiro Shindo."
The beeping on Toshiro's heart monitor changed, speeding up. Jason smiled at the small affirmation that Toshiro had heard him. Toshiro bunched his grey t-shirt.
"I love you too, Jason Stone."
A week later, Toshiro sat on his hospital bed drinking coffee Jason had smuggled in past the nurses. Warmth filled him at the thought of Jason. The man hadn't left his side for a second. Sean had told him how lost Jason had been when he'd been unconscious. He placed his cup on the bedside table and wondered how he'd gotten so lucky. Jason had somehow become everything to him in the space of two months.
Funny how that worked, he sighed.
Today, he and Sean had conspired to get Jason out of the hospital for a few hours. Jason needed a few hours of real rest. Sean had promised to take him to his hotel room for an actual shower and a nap on a real bed. The cot in the corner looked uncomfortable.
There was a soft knock on the door before it opened. He stared at the short Japanese woman who walked in to his room. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, she looked out of place. Her gaze was unsure as she stood at the door watching him.
"Yes?" he asked confused by her keen study. "What is it?"
She broke off and took a step closer to the bed. She was shaking slightly; her eyes looked like she was on the verge of tears.
"Are you alright?" he asked with a frown.
Toshiro wished he could get out of the bed, but the wound in his stomach was giving him hell. He couldn't move without help. Maybe he could call the nurses.
She shocked him when she spoke in Japanese.
"I named you Rei. Rei Natake, after your paternal grandfather," she said. "I held you every night after you were born because you wouldn't sleep unless I was holding you. You liked papaya, and hated pumpkin," a sob escaped her as she continued, "you'd spit at me when I gave it to you."
Toshiro bunched the sheets on his lap because his fingers were shaking. She had to be Yuriko Natake. He didn't know her face, but he knew her name. She was…powerful and so pure…how could she ever accept a son like him? He'd lived such a low life. If she knew, she'd be disgusted.
"Your dad used to carry you around showing you off to our friends. 'My son,' he'd say. 'Isn't he handsome?'" She smiled through her tears. "I'd tease him for doing it so much. One night, he went out for business. You were in our bedroom playing with a toy car. I was watching you but I must have dozed. I fell asleep—
She shook her head decades of disappointment on her face.
"Just a few minutes to rest my eyes, and when I woke up, you were gone. I couldn't find you, I looked…everywhere."
Her pain shone in her eyes. All these years while he'd lived like a gangster, she'd chastised herself for that moment. That single moment that had irrevocably changed their lives. He looked away unable to take her grief.
"I'm sorry," she said in a whisper. "I'm so sorry, Rei-kun."
That name, it hurt to hear it.
"I'm Toshiro Shindo now," he said, hating the bitterness in his tone.
He heard her gasp but refused to look at her. He couldn't. He didn't deserve to after how he'd lived.
"Toshiro," she said it slowly. "I am Yuriko."
Toshiro sat still. How he wanted to run into her arms and find out what that would feel like. He turned to look at her, and found her standing right by his bed. She had her hand held out to him.
"Please, I hope we can get to know each other," she said.
Jason leaned on the wall outside Toshiro's room and waited, hoping Toshiro would give his mother a small opening. He'd spent the past hour talking her into walking into Toshiro's room. She hadn't dared go in to see Toshiro unless he was sleeping. He'd promised Sean he'd go to the hotel if they got Yuriko to talk to her son.
Gods, Toshiro sat on the bed staring at his mother's hand.
Jason wanted to run in and shake Toshiro into submission, but that wouldn't get Toshiro to agree to anything. His boyfriend was stubborn.
It had been so hard not to tell Toshiro about his mother. The woman had worked tirelessly through the week to sort out Toshiro's legal problems. And they were many. She spent most of her days with Michael Baron, and a lawyer. She came to the hospital at night and sat by Toshiro's bed while he slept. Watching her cry over her son was heart breaking.
Toshiro took her hand hesitantly and Jason sighed in relief.
"Do you think they'll sort it out?" Sean asked beside him.
"I hope so," Jason said. "I really do. She deserves peace."
"What about Toshiro?" Sean asked. "He thought his mother was dead."
Jason sighed and moved away from the door. He rubbed his shoulders and looked along the corridor to the policemen still posted in intervals.
"I could use time away from here," he said. "I need sleep. Yuriko will watch over him for a while."
"What?" Jason asked as they reached the elevators.
"You'll leave him to Yuriko but not to me?" Sean asked punching the button.
"She's his mother." Jason pointed out.
"Ha, here I thought you didn't care about relationships. Was it me?" Sean asked suddenly when they were in the elevator. "I don't remember this side of you when we were together. I'm a bit jealous of Toshiro."
Jason stared at his ex-boyfriend.
"I think we were friends trying to make a relationship more than it was, Sean."
Sean rolled his eyes.
"I should be hurt by that statement."
Sean shook his head.
"No. I'm happy with my husband. I'm happy you've found Toshiro."
Jason smiled and nodded in approval.
"Great. Will you be my best man?"
"Best man?" Sean gaped. "What?"
"I'm marrying him."
"You yelled at me when I married Mark after two months."
"Are you going to yell at me?"
Sean shook his head. "No way, I have class, thank you very much."
"Great, you're planning the wedding. The moment Toshiro can walk, we're setting the date."
Toshiro watched Yuriko pull up a chair to sit by his bed.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small picture. She handed it to him before she sat down.
The picture was a younger version of her holding a baby, a smiling man standing over her.
Toshiro glanced at her with a frown.
"You're the baby," she said shyly. "Then me and your dad, Jun."
He nodded and stared at the picture. The couple looked happy. He imagined his smile might have been similar to the man in the picture, though not as happy.
He looked up to find Yuriko watching him. Her gaze made him uncomfortable, so he held out the picture to her. She refused to take it.
"That's for you," she said with a husky voice.
When it was obvious she wouldn't take the picture, he placed it on the bedside table, oddly happy.
"I—" they both started and stopped.
Toshiro met her gaze and nodded.
"I wanted to ask how you're doing. How's the pain?"
He lay back on his pillows.
"Manageable," he answered.
The pain hit him in intervals, or if he moved wrong. His right arm was the inconvenience. He couldn't do much without help.
"The woman who shot you is dead," Yuriko said with satisfaction. "I'd have killed her myself for hurting you."
He gaped at Yuriko's comment. Her eyes held a familiar glint of anger.
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that," Michael Baron said as he came in. "Good morning to both of you."
"I didn't know you spoke Japanese," Toshiro said his gaze narrowing at him.
"I didn't know you were a missing baby." Michael's tone was accusing as he studied Toshiro. "You're a man of many faces, Toshiro Shindo."
Toshiro gritted his teeth refusing to look at his mother. If Michael knew about him, it meant his mother had spoken to him. This also meant she knew everything about him.
"What do you want?" he asked Michael.
"You, Toshiro," Michael said. "I don't know what you did, but you have the entire Takumi clan scrambling. We don't understand why, but the organization is imploding from the inside out. What did you do?"
"I took their money."
"Yes, I know that. You gave it to me, remember?" Michael said.
Toshiro studied Michael for a moment before he looked at his mother.
"The Takumi Family had accounts around the world. Money handled through very private banking, done by very suspicious people. Money made from extortion, assassinations, kidnapping and drugs, you have to be paranoid when you're keeping it."
His mother's eyes widened as she realized what he was telling her. He needed her to know what he was. What life he'd lived.
"What do you mean had?" Michael asked.
"I took it." Toshiro returned his gaze to Michael. "I'm the only one who can get it for you. With no money, the clan can't function, so they'll fight and kill each other. When they're tired, they'll come after me for revenge, since I've single-handedly brought them down. I'm sure Taki has spread the news by now. So, you have to keep me alive long enough for your trial."
"No." Yuriko stood up and glared at Toshiro. "You're not testifying, or doing anything."
"He has no choice," Michael said with a pleased smile, realizing what Toshiro had done. "He gets immunity if he testifies. Otherwise, I have to send him to jail."
"Better jail," Yuriko declared her eyes wide with worry. "You testify they come for you in time. You know."
Toshiro met her gaze, understanding what she meant. Revenge would be served. The time didn't matter, now or five to ten years later, Takumi's family would wait.
"I know," he said, meeting Yuriko's gaze. Toshiro had made his choice the moment he led Sakura to his loft. "This is the price I have to pay for the life I've led. I have no choice but to testify."
More Privileged Chapters
Download the app and become a privileged reader today! Come take a sneak peek at our author's stockpiled chapters!Download
Please switch to the pop-up to complete the payment.
Complete daily missions to get rewards.Learn more about the rules
This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.
We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.