“Is that true?” Ayano finally asked after a long moment of awkwardness.
“He’s saying useless things, don’t bother about it.” I frowned. This problem wasn’t something that I intended to face anytime soon.
Ayano didn’t look convinced. There was a wary shift in her stance, almost like she wasn’t sure what to think.
I hated lying, but I’d rather not have to worry about Ayano distancing herself from me. Not at a time like this.
“What Ryouta said is true.” I lied, “Including that it was in the past.”
Ryouta suddenly looked at me, completely baffled. “It is?” He whispered.
“Since when did you… but you know I like…” Ayano stammered, confused. Her face was starting to turn red.
“I know who you like.” I continued, “And that should explain the rest.”
Ayano remained speechless. She obviously didn’t know what to say anymore, but I could see the guilt written all over her face.
“Let’s go, Ryouta. I have a few things I need to discuss with you.” I said, heading out of the room.
“I’ll take the bus home. I still have a few departments I want to take a look at…” Ryouta scratched his head.
I grabbed him by his shirt and dragged him out of the building, fuming.
As soon as we reached an area with no one around, I flung him against a wall.
“Wait! Hold that fist! At least it’s off your chest now, right? …Kind of.” Ryouta mused nervously.
I turned away from him and ran my fingers through my hair, trying to hold myself back from beating him into something unrecognizable.
“Sorry man… I messed up.”
I knew there wasn’t any point in getting mad at Ryouta… things were ought to get complicated right from the beginning anyway. I turned back towards him.
“Okay, I get it! I owe you my life…6 times now.” Ryouta put his hands up again like he always did. If he had a white flag on him, I was sure he would abuse it.
I whacked him on the head again, just to feel satisfied.
“So what are we going to do now?” He asked, rubbing his head with a scowl.
“Find Akira’s parents.” I answered, heading towards my bike.
“Won’t we need Ayano’s help for that?” Ryouta asked, following close behind me.
“We will, so call me when you’ve managed to convinced her to help us.” I said once I got onto the bike and started the engine.
“Huh?” Ryouta blinked, “Why me?!”
“Because you owe me your life, remember.” I smirked, before driving home alone.
“KENTARO!!!” I heard him yell in frustration.
“I convinced her.” Ryouta said when I received his phone call 2 hours later.
I lifted an eyebrow, “Did you really?”
“Yes.” Ryouta cleared his throat. “I think we’ll need a car.”
“Ask Rin to lend us her car.”
“Dude, she’d rather break my legs than let me have her car!” Ryouta complained.
“Be here with Ayano in five.” I hung up before he could nag any further.
It took him at least an hour.
“When I said five, I meant five minutes, not hours!” I glared at him as soon as he got out of Rin’s black Audi.
“Hey, it takes a while to deal with Rin!” He justified himself.
I laughed at the sight of his bruised black eye, “Looks like Rin gave you a beating after all.”
Ryouta grunted as he made his way to the passenger seat. As soon as I got into the drivers’ seat, I noticed that Ayano was nowhere in the car. “Where is Ayano?”
“Oh, she’s um… in the car boot.” He coughed.
I wasn’t sure if I heard him right. “What?”
He looked at me, “She’s in the boot.”
I got out of the car without second thoughts, headed straight to the car boot and opened it. I found Ayano tied up inside it with tape wrapped around her mouth at least ten times.
She squirmed around furiously, “MMMH!!”
Ryouta hesitantly came and stood next to me, “There she is.”
“Is this what you call ‘convincing’?” I glowered at him.
“The wench just wouldn’t come with me, so I had no choice!” Ryouta retorted in defence.
I exhaled in frustration, untied the messy ropes around her body and ripped the tape off her head. I ended up plucking a few of her hair strands in the process.
“Oww!!” She yelled, climbing out of the car boot. “That was a CRIME! You kidnapped me!” She pointed her finger at Ryouta angrily.
“Shut up hag!” He shouted back. “Look what you did to my eye!”
I decided to interrupt, “Both of you shut up! Ayano, I have my own reasons to know more about Akira … and I need your help to do that.” I explained.
She looked at me, still a little awkward. “Fine… But if you cause any trouble for aunty and uncle I’m going to get really mad.” She narrowed her eyes especially at Ryouta.
After following a long series of wrong directions from Ayano, we finally arrived at a nearby town.
Ayano leaped out of the car and breathed the fresh air, “Welcome to my hometown!”
Ryouta grudgingly climbed out of the car after me. “Just hurry and take us to Akira’s parents already.” Ryouta grunted.
“I can’t remember if we have to go left or right…” She mused, scratching her head in thought.
Even I was starting to lose my patience.
She coughed, noticing the hostile aura emerging from me and Ryouta. “Let’s go right…”
About ten minutes later we finally reached the house, it looked more like a mansion. They sure were rich.
It took a while to get past the guards at the gate until we were allowed inside.
“Oh my! Ayano, is that you?” A middle aged woman welcomed her with open arms at the door.
Ayano leaped right into her arms and hugged her. “Aunty! I’ve missed you so much!”
“Oh god, who let these thugs in?!” She gasped as soon as she looked in my and Ryouta’s direction.
We checked behind us at first, unaware that she meant us.
“Those are my friends, aunty. They know Akira too, so they wanted to meet you.” Ayano laughed.
She wasn’t as friendly as she looked at first.
“Well aren’t you making friends with strange people…” She sighed, “You’re lucky that Akira’s dad isn’t home right now. The moment you were kicked out of your family he told me and Akira to steer clear from you too.”
Ayano’s expression immediately changed. Her cheerfulness was gone within seconds.
Now I understood what Mika meant when she described Ayano’s and Akira’s family.
“Akira has barely been staying in contact with us. I just hope he’s doing well at medical school.” She sighed.
“Can I see Akira’s room?” I asked. I didn’t have enough patience to wait for their moment of reunion to end.
“Excuse me?” Akira’s mother looked at me with wide eyes. She clearly didn’t like me.
I decided to push past her and walk into the house abruptly.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” She shouted after me.
“K-Kentaro?” Ayano gasped.
Ryouta just laughed and followed me into the enormous house.
It took us a while to find Akira’s room, but we eventually found it. It was huge and classy, but the first thing that caught my attention was the guitars in the room. There was a drum set too. Near the window was a shelf full of music books and awards.
“Was he in a band?” Ryouta asked, brushing the dust off a picture frame on the wall. It was a picture of Akira holding a guitar behind a microphone stand, beside a few other guys. He was actually smiling.
“Yeah, Akira loved playing the guitar. He was a great singer too… he was in a band before and they were doing pretty well. But for some reason he dropped everything at some point.” Ayano turned up at the door.
Akira’s mother arrived behind her soon after, she looked out of breath.
“OUT! All of you!” She yelled, “If my husband finds out about this you will be in huge trouble!”
“We’re done here anyway. Looks like you don’t know anything about your own son either.” I said, but decided not to reveal anything about Akira being associated with the Yakuza. Not yet.
“I know my son isn’t a thug like you, that is enough.” She huffed, “Please leave the house.”
Ayano scowled. I noticed her hands had tightened into fists. She walked up to me and grabbed hold of my arm, pulling me out of the room.
She paused before Akira’s mother, “This guy is not a thug. Please don’t call my friends names without getting to know them first.”