Yuuto puts his car in park outside of an older, worn down house in a smaller neighboring city. Looking to his left, Ren begins unbuckling his seatbelt. Before exiting the vehicle, he looks to Yuuto one last time, “You sure you just want to wait in here?” Ren asks invitingly, “It’s really cool inside, and Kaito said he enjoyed your company the last time you came in with me.”
“I’m one hundred percent sure,” Yuuto affirms, keeping his hands on the steering wheel, tensing his shoulders a bit, “Even if Kaito was some big head in the military, he still gives me the heebeegeebees.” Yuuto admits with a shiver lacing his spine, causing a noise of discomfort to leave his mouth. Ren gasps at his friend’s comment, “Don’t say that about Kaito! He’s a true military veteran, you know. He served for a whole fifteen years!”
“I know that much,” Yuuto says - brushing Ren’s reprimand off, rolling his eyes at the unimportant remark. Looking back to his passenger, Yuuto scrunches his eyebrows together, “Wasn’t he some high-ranking officer too, or something? Why is he helping out some police department if he used to be some big-shot navy guy?” He asks in confusion, allowing Ren to have his turn at rolling his eyes.
“Twenty years ago, Kaito was diagnosed with PTSD while out at an overseas naval base,” He begins, recapping Red’s past to his friend, “He was given the opportunity to either come home and retire for good, or to come work with the Tokyo Prefectural Police Department and assist in artillery personnel. He has direct correspondence to military-level weaponry, and we need that kind of munition, considering our high-risk assignments.” At Ren’s explanation, Yuuto listens intently to the information.
Using his hands as he speaks, Ren continues explaining Kaito’s role in the police department, “I make a request to Kaito for certain guns or high-grade equipment, and he gets it for me. It’s that simple, but he plays a big role in our assignments.” Yuuto nods his head once Ren finishes, appreciating the discourse. “PTSD, huh?” Yuuto asks, causing Ren to nod in a sympathetic way. “I knew he was crazy. No person looks the way he does and is all right in the head.”
Exiting the car, Ren laughs as he closes the door behind him and jogs up to the front entrance of the house. The early Spring sun shines down on his dress-shirt clad back, and a thin layer of sweat begins to form along his hairline. Ren drags his right palm over the top of his hair before reaching the same hand out to knock on the wooden door. Turning his gaze back to his ride as he waits, Ren catches Yuuto offering him a small thumbs up from the driver’s seat.
Chuckling to himself, Ren throws his thumbs up in a more enthusiastic fashion, whilst etching a bright smile onto his freckled face. As his face is turned from the doorway, a man with bleached hair shaved down to a buzzcut roughly swings the door open. Ren quickly turns around at the sudden movement, and scratches the back of his neck in embarrassment. “Hey, Kaito!” Ren greets the man.
“Ren,” Kaito acknowledges, slightly bowing his head in greeting, “Good to see you.” His voice was hard to ignore - sounding as if knives were thrown into a blender: scratchy and off-putting, with a menacing undertone. From the car, Yuuto gulps at the appearance of the synthetically blonde veteran. Watching the interaction intently, Yuuto spots Kaito slide his gaze to his own, and wave to the panic-stricken driver. Feeling the sweat roll down his temples, Yuuto draws up a nervous smile and waves back.
“Come on in, Ren,” Kaito invites as he steps into the house, allowing Ren to follow suit, “I have everything waiting downstairs.” Ren nods as he steps into the foyer, sliding off his black dress shoes. After Kaito closes the door, Ren wipes his hands on his blue jeans and follows him further inside the house. The wooden floors are coated with an invisible layer of must, and the walls are lined with small cracks that hint of impending collapse.
Kaito opens a door on the right, then proceeds to trudge down a creaky, wooden staircase that leads to the basement. Seemingly familiar with this routine, Ren marches along. As Kaito reaches the ground, he pulls at a string which turns on a faded light bulb above. Ren drags his eyes over his dimly lit surroundings, and spots a duffel bag atop a table against the wall.
“There she is, just as you asked” Kaito announces, looking towards the bag, “The X17-90: the newly modeled bolt action rifle - already paired with a suppressor, at your convenience.” As Kaito introduces the weapon, Ren steps up to open the vast bag.
Inside held the rifle, and an accompanying suppressor attachment to subdue the clamor that goes along with the shot. Ren takes the rifle in his hands and admires the machine. “She’s amazing,” Ren looks to the other man in the room, who stands watching him with his hands on his hips.
“Jiro’s gonna have a blast with this one, I just know it,” Kaito says with a small smirk playing at his lips, “Takashi used to use rifles like her all the time.” Red’s attention drifts away from the weapon in front of him as he recollects his past.
Kaito’s eyes simmer out as he gets lost in a daze - presumably thinking back to the old days with Takashi. Ren smiles fondly, despite not truly ever knowing Jiro’s dad. “Even though they ain’t blood,” Kaito begins again, staring at the wall to the left, “They are the exact same. Through and through. It was destiny for them to be father and son, y’know?”
Nodding along with what he says, Ren looks down at the weapon once again - admiring the craftsmanship. “I’ll let him know you’re thinking about him, Kaito,” Ren assures sweetly, “Thanks for this, by the way.”
“No problem at all,” Kaito assures, coming back from his thoughts, “Like always, Mamoru will handle everything else. You just take the hunk of metal and do your thing.” Ren nods with an excitable grin on his face as he places the artillery back into the complimentary black duffel bag. Grabbing the handles, he hoists the equipment off of the table and into his possession. As Ren walks towards the staircase, he turns just before he ascends back up to the ground floor.
“Thanks again, Sergeant Kaito. I’m glad you’re with us at the police department now, and not stuck overseas with our military. You’re a real man's man!” Ren thanks one last time before heading upstairs.
However, at Ren’s thoughtful sentiment, Kaito seems to be irked and thrown off by the statement. His face twitches into one of severe agitation, and a painful vein appears along his forehead. Taken aback by this sudden and strange reaction, Ren finds himself staring confused at the irritated man. Staying positioned on the first step, Ren watches as Kaito throws his hands up to his ears.
“I told you not to call me that anymore!”
His previous low, scratchy voice quickly deepens into a menacing, terrified screech. Kaito stands in place with his hands covering his ears as his knees buckle. Ren’s face drops, and his heart rate begins to pick up at the scene. Shrieks of agony cry out from the depths of Kaito’s stomach, and his knees give in to the weight of his pain as he falls harshly to the solid ground.
“I…” Ren continues to stare in fear as he slowly begins to stagger up the staircase behind him. “I’m sorry…” Ren apologizes sincerely, and he takes off running up the staircase.
As he makes it to the basement doorway, a glass light bulb is thrown in the direction Ren is headed. The fixture just misses his body, and smashes into the wall adjacent the doorway above. “You don’t get to call me that! Get out! Get out! I said, I’m sorry-”
Kaito’s screams fade away as Ren makes it out of the house unscathed. Closing the front door behind him, he leans on the firm material as an exhale of relief softly leaves his lips. Gripping the bag’s hand grips tighter in his clutch, Ren jogs back over to the passenger side door. Pulling the handle open with a newfound force, Ren slides hastily into his seat. Bringing the duffel bag into his lap, he chucks it into the backseat.
“Everything go okay?” Yuuto asks the short-of-breath man seated next to him. At the question, Ren turns his head and gazes towards his driver. Pulling his eyebrows together, Ren nods in response - his breathing being too shallow to utter anything else. “Alright, then,” Yuuto accepts, putting the vehicle into drive, “Let’s get out of here.”
Half an hour later, Ren and Yuuto return to headquarters in one piece. Entering the apartment, they are greeted by a lounging Jiro on the couch. “Hey,” The slumped man acknowledges, but not tearing his gaze away from the television, “How did it go?”
Heaving out a long, winded breath, Ren stands in place as he recollects his meeting with Kaito. From casual conversation about a shared friend, to having a full-blown panic attack in mere minutes - could one even possibly consider that a positive event? Nonetheless, Ren still manages a simple, “Good,” In response - not wanting to mention the chaotic afternoon he recently endured.
“Kaito was talking about you and your dad,” Ren manages to share, keeping to his promise he made with Kaito. At the mention of his father, Jiro physically perks up and seems slightly more interested in Ren’s conversation. “He seems really fond of Takashi, you know.” Still maintaining eye contact with the screen in front of him, Jiro only offers a slow nod to Ren’s observation.
From behind Jiro, Yuuto looks sympathetic towards his friend on the couch - but decides against adding to the grim conversation. Due to this, the silence in the room grows heavy, and weighs on the shoulders of the officers occupying the space. Ren and Yuuto attempt to communicate through their eyes - trying to come up with something to say to lighten the atmosphere.
Before either of them get the chance to attempt anything, Jiro begins to sit up on the couch. Standing to his height, Jiro sighs and pulls at his baseball cap. “I’m gonna head to my room,” He informs quietly, “If you need me, I’ll be there.”
“Okay…” Ren responds, whilst he and Yuuto watch his retreating figure fade into the hallway where he and Kagome’s bedrooms were located. The sound of Jiro’s cotton socks sliding against the hard floor seeps into Yuuto and Ren’s eardrums - causing a great deal of guilt to wash over the two in unison.
Down the hallway, Jiro reaches his bedroom. Casting open the door, he coasts past the doorway and shuts the door behind him. He stands solemnly in darkness for a moment before he flicks on the light overhead. Immediately, his eyes are drawn towards the wooden altar standing adjacent to him in the room. The dark wood contrasts against the white walls, and demands the attention of anyone entering the bedroom - due to its seemingly commanding presence.
The sight causes his under eyes to squint, and Jiro finds himself travelling towards the altar. Unable to control himself, Jiro’s legs buckle at the knees, and his body falls to the worn cushion placed on the floor. Sinking into a poor posture, Jiro takes his gaze away from the overbearing sight in front of him. After a moment, his hand reaches up along with his gaze. A small ring fills the open, heavy air as Jiro rings the bell positioned on the altar.
Bringing his hands together, Jiro leans back into a deeper seated position and closes his eyes. Instantly, he is brought back in time through memories. Simpler times, harsher times. Times he wishes he could never forget and others he is forced to remember. All of these memories circulate around one person, one man that shaped Jiro Shimizu into the person he is today: Takashi Shimizu.