Chapter 7:

...To Be a Shimizu

Mirror


The next night, as one would expect, Jiro was found sauntering through Memory Alley - as he hoped of running into any of his friends for the third consecutive night. However, Jiro began to ponder if he was purely burdening the people Jiro so desperately wanted to see. His thoughts caused him to hesitate on his path towards the familiar storefront - having fully stopped in his tracks, staring down at his slipper-covered feet. Bookmark here

“Oi, kiddo.” Bookmark here

A familiar voice was heard just up ahead. Jiro looked up - hoping the shout was meant for him. Just what his pounding heart ached for, Takashi Shimizu stood leaning against a brick wall belonging to a restaurant behind him, and a blue baseball cap sat perched atop his head. Jiro’s features held confusion, but his heart was overfilled with joy at the sight of the officer he recently befriended. Hesitantly, Jiro approached the waiting figure just up the small path from him. Bookmark here

Jiro swallowed a growing lump of anxiety as he positioned himself in front of Takashi. The casually dressed officer stared down at the nervous boy that stood before him. Officer Shimizu strayed from his usual white dress shirt and bulletproof vest, and instead sported an open blue button up, long white t-shirt, and jean shorts. Bookmark here

“Knew you’d be here,” Takashi said finally, as he lifted his weight off of the wall behind him. He reached his hand upwards towards his cap, and raised the hat off of his head. After he dusted off some pretend dust particles lingering on the top of the apparel, he placed the hat atop of Jiro’s barren head. The action took the black-haired boy by surprise, and the large hat caused him to tilt his neck skywards in order to make eye contact with Takashi. Bookmark here

“Guess we’re more alike than we thought, huh?”Bookmark here

The events that followed that first interaction were filled with food, laughs, and hundreds of memories that were forever ingrained into Jiro’s mind. From ramen slurping contests, to foot races down the length of Memory Alley, to feeding multiple stray cats Jiro introduced Takashi to - the boys’ night was one neither of them would ever forget.Bookmark here

However, the most memorable event from that night stemmed from the last moment they shared together. Standing on the cement doorstep of that all too familiar foster home, Takashi held the small hand belonging to the trembling Jiro next to him. Even the officer found himself hesitating to knock on the door and allow Jiro to be taken from him again. Sighing, Takashi stared straight ahead - as if he was looking straight through the door.Bookmark here

“Jiro, listen,” Takashi began, his tone just above a whisper. The young boy looked up to the man that held his left hand tightly as tears formed in the corners of his eyes. “I’m gonna get you out of here, I promise. I don’t know why you're scared of this place and that man, but I don’t need to know why. It’s enough that you’re afraid of being in the place that’s supposed to keep you safe and cared for.”Bookmark here

Takashi dragged his heavy gaze from the door and placed it on Jiro to his right, “I swear on my life, Jiro. Just give me some time. I’ll get all the paperwork sorted, I’ll call who I need to call, and I’ll…”Bookmark here

As he gripped the young boy’s hand tighter in his grasp, Officer Shimizu drew up a small, sad smile. “I’ll be your dad, okay? I’ll do the best I can and, and you can be my son. Is that okay?” Takashi offered while he stared at the shocked Jiro to his right. Without a single blink, the repressed tears collected in the ducts of Jiro’s eyes flooded down like rivers. His lip quivered inwards, and the best Jiro could muster in that moment, was a sincere and optimistic nod towards Takashi’s proposal.Bookmark here

The door suddenly swung aggressively open - which took the two emotional males by complete surprise. That same suspicious old man stood before them with his sickeningly sweet grin. Takashi grimaced at the sour sight as he felt Jiro’s hand squeeze his own. “Jiro, my boy,” The old man spoke in his raspy tone that sent shivers down Jiro’s spine, “I thought we talked about this last night.”Bookmark here

“He’s not a stupid kid, old man,” Takashi spat at the condescending tone the elderly man spoke with, “I’m sure he has good reason to keep running away, or else he’d listen the first time he was reprimanded.” The bold remark from Officer Shimizu made the old man’s eyes open a fraction, and he stared threateningly into Takashi's eyes. “I don’t see how my parenting style is any of your concern,” The elderly man rebuked Takashi.Bookmark here

“It most certainly is my concern!” Takashi shouted down the throat of the irritating man in the doorway. As he let go of Jiro’s hand, Takashi threw his hand into his front pocket and pulled out his badge. He flipped open the covering and thrusted it into the old man’s personal space. Bookmark here

“May I remind you, I’m an officer of the law. If a young child is constantly running away from home, and loitering around the city unattended, it is most certainly in my jurisdiction to arrest you for suspected child endangerment!” The sudden realization that Takashi was also an officer suddenly hit the elderly man, and his face dropped in utter shock. Takashi scoffed at the insolence displayed in front of him, and shoved the badge back into his pocket.Bookmark here

“Jiro, keep safe while I’m gone,” Takashi commanded as he looked down to the shaken boy, placing his hands on his small shoulders, “You’ll be with me in no time, I promise you.” As Takashi threw one last glare at the old, creepy man, then took his leave down the pathway towards the front gate. Jiro watched his fading figure intently from his rooted position as he twiddled the brim of the blue baseball cap atop his head.Bookmark here

After Jiro ambled into his foster home, the waiting period began. He took Takashi’s words to heart: ‘Just give me some time,’ ‘I’ll be your dad, and you’ll be my son.’ Jiro decided to not disobey his foster father’s word and not run away, as well as not wanting to burden Takashi in his attempts to rescue Jiro from his situation. Bookmark here

It was a difficult decision, nonetheless, for the yearning that settled deep within Jiro’s heart ached with each passing day he waited for Takashi to come save him. Most of the time, Jiro would lock himself in his room, and distance himself from his foster father completely. The mental and emotional manipulation Jiro had faced day after day, accompanied with the sexual desires the old man held for Jiro were put to an abrupt stop the moment Jiro turned the lock.Bookmark here

At first, a hopeful Jiro waited patiently hour by hour - not knowing how long the process would take. Once an entire day passed by, Jiro began to tally the days that passed as he awaited Takashi’s arrival. After a full seven days, the weeks began to pass by agonizingly slow as Jiro started to lose hope. Did Takashi forget about him? Were all those emotional affirmations just falsities planted into his naive young mind?Bookmark here

After a full month, Jiro’s heart sagged with despair. The months dragged on, and Jiro attempted to move on from the lies and let go of the remaining hope that lingered around his messy room. He was restless at night, and exhausted throughout the day. There wasn’t a single moment his heart was not tightened and gripped by the possibility that Takashi still might come around. But, as each dark night dragged on, there was no sign of the officer’s arrival.Bookmark here

A full seven months passed by, and no sign of Officer Shimizu had surfaced. As Jiro laid on his back underneath the full moon, he dragged his vision across the white ceiling and emptied his mind. It was a new tactic he was testing out to help him fall asleep faster. Bookmark here

As he traced the small contour lines above him, he heard a shouting coming from the street. Scrunching his eyebrows together at the noise, he questioned if it was all in his sleep-deprived mind, or if there was an actual person screaming at this hour of the night. Bookmark here

Not getting anywhere with his sleeping strategy, Jiro stretched out of bed and waltzed to the window. As he pushed the sheer white curtains aside, he saw a dark figure sprinting down his street. His heart dropped at the sight, and the velocity of his heart rate dramatically increased as the figure grew closer and closer. Bookmark here

However, as the mysterious shape sprinted nearer, Jiro was able to translate the previously muffled screams: “Jiro!” Yelled the shadowy form, “Jiro, it’s all done! Jiro! Hey, Jiro!” The rapid beat of his heart suddenly stopped when Jiro realized who this crazy man was. “Takashi,” Jiro whispered to himself in disbelief.Bookmark here

Jiro sprinted as fast as his little legs could carry him out of his bedroom, and down the claustrophobic hallway he shared with his foster father. His cotton socks brushed against the wooden floors, and assisted in gliding him around the corner to face the front door. He darted for the exit as quickly as possible, as he needed to confirm this was Takashi, and not some ultra-realistic lucid dream.Bookmark here

As Jiro arrived at the front door, he swung open the door with a newfound ferocity, and was greeted by none other than Takashi Shimizu himself. The sight of the man made Jiro stare in disbelief, and Takashi smiled down at the young, tired boy. After he realized it was not a malicious dream, Jiro began to cry. Soon, his cries turned to hysterics as retched sobs escaped from the pits of his heart. Bookmark here

Takashi’s lips quivered silently, and he bent down to embrace his new son. Jiro fell into his welcoming, open arms as he cried into the shoulder of the first man he was allowed to call ‘Dad.’ Their hug was filled with so much love and relief - after not seeing one another for over seven months. Jiro’s sobs slowly faded away, and Takashi took him by the shoulders at an arm’s length.Bookmark here

“Let’s get the hell out of here.”Bookmark here

And, they did just that. Takashi scooped Jiro up and carried his new son over his shoulder, and out of the forsaken house. Giggles replaced the previous cries, and bright smiles washed upon the two boys’ faces. “We’re gonna eat ice cream for breakfast,” Began an enthused Takashi as he ran down the empty street, “Cookies for lunch, and cake for dinner - every single night!”Bookmark here

“And...and...” Jiro spoke up, wanting to add his own ideas, “We can go to the beach every day! And you can teach me how to ride a bike!” Takashi laughed sincerely, for his heart could not contain the amount of joy this boy was giving him. “And, you can teach me how to be a police officer…” Jiro added, his voice having grown more bashful, “So that I can become just like you.”Bookmark here

Takashi’s grin faded as his eyes opened in surprise. Then a warm smile was painted onto his face, as the sentiment settled into his heart. His arms wrapped tighter against Jiro subconsciously, and the boy's face held an unmovable smile as his head bobbed with the current of Takashi’s footsteps. Bookmark here

The years that followed that remarkable night was a time that shaped the young Jiro, and made him into the man he is today. Takashi kept his promise, and raised Jiro to be just like himself - even though they were similar enough as they were. Watching Takashi at a familial level stapled Jiro’s dream of becoming just like his new father. A man who is responsible, trustworthy, headstrong, and intelligent. Bookmark here

Takashi took Jiro along on patrol, where he became friendlier with Junko, and the two shortly became best friends. The Shimizu’s and the Fukumoto’s became even closer with the new addition to the bunch, and had warmly welcomed Jiro with open arms. Bookmark here

Never had Jiro ever felt what a home was supposed to feel like, until now. Home cooked meals, game nights, being tucked into bed and woken up in the morning were all foreign and unreachable desires for Jiro. Takashi brought all of these, and more, for the young boy he had come to love and call his own.Bookmark here

Soon, Mamoru received a promotion to be the first Captain of the newly instated ‘Special Operations Task Force,’ wherein he selected Takashi - along with a few other individuals - to be a part of his squadron. The reinstatement only further pushed Jiro to dream of becoming someone as reliant and strong as his father.Bookmark here

As Jiro and Junko grew older, their respective fathers began including the two best friends into more extensive aspects of the police department, and their own corresponding task force. The two officers took their children out into the woods, where they would practice using different types of guns at different ranges. Jiro was an ace at any long-range weapon, while Junko was a natural at every piece of artillery. Bookmark here

The years rolled by, and Jiro was finally sixteen years old. He had enrolled in the same highschool as Junko, and planned on joining the police force soon after he graduated. Recently, Takashi had become closer with his fellow officer, Miyu Honda. Miyu would join the two boys for dinner on most occasions, and frequently lounged around Jiro and Takashi’s apartment on her days off. Bookmark here

Jiro had taken a liking to her - considering her a respectful woman of elegance and strength. She was strong enough to be a part of the same squadron his father was selected to be a part of, yet she still held a warm, feminine refinement to her that Jiro was unaccustomed to. Miyu was a very affectionate and intelligent woman: helping Jiro with his schoolwork, and praising him for his accomplishments.Bookmark here

On August 16th, Takashi and Miyu set out for their Task Force headquarters - a place Jiro had become familiar with over the years. It was an open apartment positioned just above a public bar. Its setting was discreet enough, since placing their base at the Prefectural Police Department would not go unnoticed - something these officers were severely trying to avoid. Bookmark here

“We’re finally gonna get them, Jiro!” Miyu cheered as she slipped on her black sneakers, matching her dark attire, “These guys have been running from us for so long, but today’s the day!” Jiro leaned against an adjacent door frame as he watched the two adults situate themselves by the exit. “These Tokyo Pistols…” Takashi began, lacing up his black boots, “They’re not gonna know what hit ‘em.”Bookmark here

Miyu brushed Takashi’s shoulders as he adjusted the lengths of his long sleeve shirt. After much preparation in their appearance, they opened the door. Miyu and Takashi waved goodbye to Jiro - proud smiles and confident demeanors lacing their characters. Jiro waved farewell to two of the most important adults in his life, and he watched the front door close behind them.Bookmark here

Little did he know, that was the last time he would ever see Takashi Shimizu or Miyu Honda ever again.Bookmark here

He waited around all day and night for those two’s return - feeling the same melancholy he did all those years ago at his old foster father’s abode. However, all that welcomed him was the grim face of Junko Fukumoto early the next morning - bearing the worst news Jiro would ever hear: “Takashi, Miyu, Hotaru… they’re all… gone.”Bookmark here

That entire day was filled with Junko attempting to comfort a desolate and an intensely grieving Jiro. His deep, despair-fueled sobs ripped through the walls and broke through the windows. His cries were felt in the deepest corners of Junko’s heart, and she, too, found herself hysterical. They hugged each other so desperately, so tight and yet so loose, as they sobbed into the crook of the other’s neck. Bookmark here

From that day on, Jiro Shimizu changed as a man, and was fueled by vengeance and deep-seated anger. The so-called ‘Tokyo Pistols’ were destined to not live much longer, having the blood of his father on their hands. Jiro’s stance on becoming a police officer was solidified through this event, and his reasoning changed as he became powered by his need to avenge his father. Bookmark here

The wake for all three officers was held not long after. The atmosphere on that cloudy, gloomy day held nothing but drear and an indescribable sadness. Jiro clung to his best friend and her father as the ceremony dragged on, and the boy refused to let a single tear fall or any cry escape his chapped lips.Bookmark here

Once the memorial service was over, Mamoru pulled the two teenagers aside from the now muffled commotion in the main room. “Listen,” Mamoru began, his voice tinged with a seriousness Junko and Jiro were not expecting, “You two have been training your whole lives, haven’t you?”Bookmark here

Jiro and Junko look between themselves, unsure of where Mamoru was taking this conversation, “The Special Operations Task Force is...is… gone now. There’s not a single shred of it left. Those damn Tokyo Pistols took everything we have been working towards and demolished us - leaving absolutely nothing left.”Bookmark here

Jiro’s breath began to shake, and his bunched fingers started to tremble. “You two are the police department’s last hope of continuing our task force,” Mamoru said, placing a hand on the shoulders of the two young adults in front of him, “This job was destined for you. If not, made for you. Takashi wouldn’t want to see all of his hard work go to waste. Everything he’s worked for, destroyed in vain.”Bookmark here

Junko’s face fades to one of sympathy and hesitation, while Jiro’s expression scrunches into determination tinted with a burning rage. The vulnerability of these two grieving teenagers could be seen by the naked eye, and Mamoru was using every last drop of it to coax them into hurriedly joining the Special Operations Task Force. Bookmark here

“Of course I’ll do it,” Jiro obviously stated, having known what Mamoru was hinting at. He bolstered his chest to a prideful position, “Takashi was not just a father to me, but a hero to all of Tokyo. I’m going to kill the sons of bitches that dared defy my dad.”Bookmark here

Jiro looked to the girl next to him, who seemed to be lost in a sad, mindful thought. He pulled Junko out of her daze and drew her eyes to his own - throwing his hands atop her sagging shoulders. “Junko,” He stated affirmatively, “You’ll do this with me, right? We’ll do this together, all the way ‘till the end - when Takashi is avenged and Tokyo is safe again?”Bookmark here

Junko stared into the teary, yet passionate eyes of her best friend. As she looked deep into his eyes - them begging her to say yes, and to take his hand - she could not find the courage within herself to say no. Despite her own separate and personal dreams conflicting with this new goal, Junko could not bring herself to decline.Bookmark here

Through all of her internal hesitation, Junko managed to force a nod, and agree to Mamoru and Jiro’s wishes. At the sentiment, a thankful and content smile came over Jiro’s previously worried face. He pulled his best friend into a hug as Mamoru watched the two teenagers. “You’re doing the right thing, Junko,” He stated, “You’ll become a strong leader, and you’ll save millions of lives everyday. You’re doing the right thing.”

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