Chapter 19:

Regret is Loss Irreplaceable

X = Y

It was Wednesday, the 1st of April, 2020. With his hair grown long enough to obscure his vision, Rei was inside the Kirihoshin Dojo of Kendo. Kneeling on the ground in front of him were Seijiro and Nagai. With presents wrapped in paper, topped with red ribbons, Rei picked one up to inspect.Bookmark here

"Why did you buy me presents?" Rei questioned Seijiro with a look of warmth.Bookmark here

"You're leaving, are you not? To go back and stop the people who did this to you. It amazes me how you graduated from Akinobu's Dojo without fighting him. His reason was that he already accepted acknowledged your skill, but everyone knows he was too scared to fight." Seijiro spoke proudly, and he began to laugh.Bookmark here

"Well, I have that kind of effect on people," Rei said with a grin, followed by a chuckle.Bookmark here

Nagai slapped Rei's back, but it felt like a brick to him. Rei was unfazed by the hefty hammer that slashed his back.Bookmark here

"You're welcome anytime here, brother! We'll keep this place safe for you! I guarantee it! Yes! Yes! Yes!" Nagai exclaimed with glee.Bookmark here

"Open it, Rei," Seijiro spoke tenderly, like the feeling of a feather floating down from the sky.Bookmark here

Five items were in front of him: three square packages, one small rectangular package, and one thin blade-like present. He ripped the first three open gently and found clothing. Similar to what he was wearing when he first entered the Dojo, he was astonished. His heart became soothed, his hands felt familiarity.Bookmark here

The first was a zipped jacket that had a hood with dark patterns. The second was black trousers, and the third was black shoes with minimal designs.Bookmark here

"These are in my size. What do I do with my kamishimo? Can I keep it?" said Rei in surprise.Bookmark here

"If you want to. I wasn't the one who bought the clothing. The only thing I chose was that slim one there. I asked the Elders to buy you these things because I didn't know what you would wear." Seijiro responded with a smile.Bookmark here

Rei opened the last two presents. The first was a brand new phone, and the second was a sword scabbard. Inside was a wooden sword.Bookmark here

"I can't take this, Master. I can take the phone, but the sword does not belong in the modern world. I can't go around wearing this. I'd be caught instantly!" Rei spoke realistically.Bookmark here

"Oh...Is that so." Seijiro became slightly upset, but he understood Rei's words.Bookmark here

"I'll take the kamishimo to remind me of you, Master. But I don't have a bag to take with me," said Kei whilst looking at the clothes.Bookmark here

"Leave it here. Let me give you something else instead," said Seijiro.Bookmark here

He stood up and entered the other room, slamming the metal door disguised as a regular sliding panel with ease. Condition to the feeling, Rei looked at the phone and turned it on.Bookmark here

"Is that what phones look like now? I remembered seeing one when I was younger," said Nagai, who embraced the nostalgia.Bookmark here

"Didn't you have a family, Nagai?" Rei questioned. He instantly realised what he truly enquired. "You don't have to tell me! I don't want anything sad to happen!"Bookmark here

"No! No! No! It's fine. I'll tell you! Yep. Here we go. Ahem. My parents died in a car crash travelling through that mountain. It was fifteen years ago when I was ten! I'm twenty-five now. You guys are my family. I don't feel lonely anymore. I've lived here with Master since he found the car I was trapped in when he was hunting for animals. He's like my dad, but don't tell him that. Hehe!" Nagai exclaimed with a humungous smile.Bookmark here

In his mind, Nagai was reminiscing about that incident which changed his life. His parents crashed during a thunderstorm when night had cursed the roads. The terrain hindered their journey, and his parents died on impact against a stark tree. Young and afraid, Nagai sat there, crying. Only the front windows shattered, and the locked doors prevented escape, supposedly dooming whoever was alive.Bookmark here

A mysterious figure peered into the window. Filled with equal curiosity and terror, he stopped crying at the sight of the bodies which lay in front of him. That figure flicked the window gently, which caused it to shatter from the top. It placed its hands solicitously into the car and hoisted Nagai facilely.Bookmark here

Seijiro, who dropped the dead deer that was in his hands, had saved Nagai that day. Staring attentively, detached from the world around him, Nagai was speechless. Being pulled out of the car and held like a child caused memories of his childhood to resurface. Affection, compassion, love, kindness, he re-experienced it all again.Bookmark here

"Sooner or later, I'll have spent more time with him than my actual parents. But it's a nice thought. If I was born to different parents, then he would be my father." Nagai added. He continued to smile and smirk, reassuring Rei.Bookmark here

Seijiro returned after slamming the door to the second room shut. He had three hair belts. He sat back down in front of the two, kneeling.Bookmark here

"You're hair will get in the way of your fighting. It is the one thing that I cannot leave alone. To be a warrior, you must look like one. Respect, dignity, and admiration are all gained from the first impression. But that is just a disguise. It is only temporary. Turn around and come over here." Rei turned around and felt Seijiro tying his hair up.Bookmark here

After that, Rei stood in front of the Dojo, facing it. The day was still alive, and the clouds had begun to peak through the sky. With his hood up covering his hair, and a mischievous smile filled with confidence on his face, Rei was ready to depart. Nagai became filled with delight, and Seijiro became imbued with content.Bookmark here

"You forgot to take this, Rei. Your Master never forgets a thing." Seijiro threw a bag made from deer leather. It was brown, and there were threads to close it.Bookmark here

It jingled through the air and rattled in Rei's hands when he plucked it from the sky. He opened it and smiled, closing it with relief.Bookmark here

"You need money in the real world to do anything! How much even is this? It's bigger than I thought." said Rei.Bookmark here

"There are notes underneath. It's more money than you will ever need! Just don't spend it all at once!" Nagai asserted, embellishing a smile.Bookmark here

"Huh. Money. I've never once needed to use that in my life." Seijiro smiled.Bookmark here

"Thank you for everything, Master. Brother. If I'm still alive, I'll be back. Maybe I'll show you who my real brother is. Take care. This reminds me of the first time I left." Rei grinned. "Goodbye, brother! Father!" He said with a mischievous yet powerful smile.Bookmark here

With his back turned towards the Dojo once more, intending to return to the real world, Rei stood at the pinnacle of his power. Determined, faithful, and not alone in the fight against a tyrannical ruler who took what he pleased and gave what he would despise, Rei looked towards a future where such a ruler perished.Bookmark here

A couple of days passed. With nothing to warrant a grandiose event prevailing, Kei drove in his car, fitted with technology that only the police department had definitive access to use. Wearing a long brown trench coat, white shirt, red tie, black trousers and trainers, Kei looked like a detective.Bookmark here

Hearing reports of people assaulted by gangs entombed through the darkness, he parked near an alleyway infamous for its criminal activity. There, he kept his hand near his holster at his waist. Slowly creeping into the shade, there were two bodies hidden behind garbage cans and discarded boxes. He took more and more steps, carefully surveying the environment.Bookmark here

Suddenly, from the corner of another alleyway connected to Kei's alleyway, a man with a hood covering his face slammed another into the wall. The pinned man pushed his aggressor away and tried throwing punches. His face became filled to the brim with terror.Bookmark here

"Don't kill me! Leave me alone! I don't know! if I tell the boss, then he'll get his men to kill you!" The gangster said.Bookmark here

"Put your hands up, now!" Kei shouted with a confident, serious look on his face.Bookmark here

He grabbed his gun and pointed it at both of them. With one swift blow to the skull, the gangster fainted, and his aggressor stood over his body, watching the blood drip down his face. His jaw swung, dislocated, like a playground swing. Bits of teeth were everywhere. It was like a playground fight for the aggressor.Bookmark here

"Stop right there!" Kei exclaimed, pointing the gun to the only man left standing.Bookmark here

Realising who the gunman was, the hooded figure turned his head in surprise. He put both hands on his hood and lifted it down. Both of their faces were in utter shock.Bookmark here

Rei, who had a long ponytail which split into two smaller ones using two other bands, three in total, that Seijiro gave him, stood there in complete disarray.Bookmark here

Kei, an official detective working for his hometown's police department, could not begin to fathom the sight which unveiled itself.Bookmark here

"Rei..."Bookmark here

Thus, intertwined like thread and silk, the brothers met again. A day did not go by where their family meant nothing to them. Divided by their actions, the world had other plans for them. Mentally, physically, but not emotionally, were they prepared to tackle the imminent danger head-on, as the embodiment of doom began to play with the cards it carelessly splayed over the lives which it controlled.Bookmark here

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