Miho drove north east out of Tokyo along the number 6, before finally being instructed to turn east onto the 354 through the farmland of Kasumigaura. While she did so, Jazz flew into action.
Her first call was to Nomura, who fed the information immediately down to Second Unit, where Kyobashi set about working his magic to get a GPS trace on Miho’s phone – if she had her location settings on, he could hack her position. Of course Jazz wanted to let Goto know, but he was undercover and out of contact, so that only left Subaru.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Jazz said the moment he picked up.
“Miss Mann?” he responded. “I’m wor…”
“Miho’s gone AWOL,” Jazz declared flatly.
For a second there was silence.
“Where?” he managed finally.
“If I knew that I’d be there right now dragging her stupid ass out of trouble,” Jazz snapped, even though her anger was really aimed at whoever had manipulated Miho so effectively.
“Okay okay,” he rushed, and Jazz could hear he was moving.
“She left a note saying the bad guys have Goto’s brother Issei,” Jazz added, trying to temper her tone. “And since Goto is out of touch, of course she had to get all cavalier and charge off to save him.”
“It might not be that simple,” Subaru said slowly. “I assume you’ve called Detective Kyobashi.”
“Deputy Chief Nomura has all of Second Unit mobilising,” Jazz replied. “He said as soon as they get a fix on her phone, they’ll move out.”
“I’m going with them,” Subaru declared. “I’ll call Nomura from my car.”
“Subaru,” Jazz dropped, sitting there in her office with the phone crushed in her grip – helpless.
“Don’t worry, I’ll bring them both back safely,” he answered before she asked – he knew Miho and Jazz were partners in crime, may as well have been sisters. “If I don’t, Goto will kill me.”
“Not if I kill you first,” Jazz murmured, but she didn’t really mean it, she was just so incredibly frustrated all she could do was wait.
The car tyres crunched in the gravel as Miho pulled in through rusted gates and began along a driveway. She’d been so full of urgency, of heroic bravado when she left, but the closer she drew to the small weathered farmhouse, the more dread crept over her.
In her mind she’d turned over events in her life she had left behind in another country. The policeman husband, the undercover operation he went missing on, and the call she’d received telling her he’d been killed in the line of duty. She had struggled to fill the hollowed out shell of her life with the quest for justice, to pester and dig and put herself places she had no right being just to expose the ones who had betrayed him.
Then this voice on the other end of a phone line – it was his, she was sure of it, or some electronically produced replication designed to make her think it was. But the more she pondered that angle, the more she had to wonder who would go to such a length? What did they want from her that so much effort had been put into trying to distance her from the man she loved?
This no longer seemed like the work of a besotted client.
When she pressed against the brake and the car came to a stop, she just sat there.
“What am I supposed to do no…” she whispered to herself, but swallowed her words when a figure emerged onto the veranda.
It was not Daisetsu.
He was tall, solid, a mean looking thug fitting every cliché, and he was not Japanese.
“Get out of the car,” he ordered in English as he approached, and Miho fumbled with one hand for her seatbelt, and the other to tuck her phone between the seat and console out of sight.
Shakily she exited the car, just as the man reached her, but he made no physical contact.
“Inside,” he ordered, eyeing her up and down with contempt.
Withholding all the obvious questions for the moment, Miho nodded and followed, her fists balled tightly.
Inside was lit by old fittings, natural light inhibited by board nailed over the windows. There was nothing around the farm within screaming distance, so all Miho could do was hope someone had found her sticky-note and was on their way with backup.
Then there was Issei, tied to a chair in the middle of a sparsely furnished lounge room: exhaustion in his eyes punctuated by the shining bruise on his cheek.
“Why the hell did you come?” he growled as she rushed to him, crouching to examine him for other injuries.
“You’re welcome,” she huffed under her breath. “You hurt anywhere else? Have you eaten? Had water?”
“Did you always care so much for strangers?” came a question behind her, and though Miho didn’t look back, Issei’s jaw tightened and his chin lifted.
Not an electronic reproduction.
And now the lump in her throat was far too large to swallow – she couldn’t find words.
“Don’t touch her,” Issei growled, and in his voice, Miho heard Seiji’s.
“You, I don’t need anymore,” Daisetsu pointed out casually, his voice approaching Miho’s still turned back. “So I’d avoid any unnecessary antagonising.”
Laboriously, Miho pushed herself to her feet.
There was no way to prepare her for this, so she decided to just go for it and turn, speaking as she did.
“You’ve hurt him enou…” she started, but the moment she laid eyes on him, words failed and her sentence ended in a breathy gasp.
“That’s a pretty face,” Daisetsu smiled.
It was not a smile she remembered him ever wearing.
“No kiss for your husband?” he prompted.
“You’re not my husband,” she told him plainly, though bile threatened to follow her statement. “I… I buried my husband years ago.”
“Of course you were meant to believe that,” he nodded slowly, extending a hand toward her.
Instantly she shuffled back, narrowly avoiding standing on Issei’s foot in the process.
“What is this… Daisetsu?” she exhaled, this time failing at stepping back around Issei and tripping like an idiot.
Daisetsu caught her wrist, and though she was not small, he held her suspended just shy of the floor.
“Exposition?” he queried, peering down at her, satisfied and sneering at her obvious confusion. “Shall I tell you everything like a cheesy Bond villain?”
“Let me go,” she hissed, scrambling to her feet, but he did not release her.
“Get off her!” Issei barked, and for his trouble, one of the other two men in the room connected a solid punch with the side of his head.
“Stop it!” Miho shrieked, pulling against Daisetsu’s hold.
“Do you have any idea, how long I’ve been watching you?” Daisetsu growled, pushing her further away from Issei. “How many times I watched you enter another man’s, another woman’s bed? How galling that was?”
“But you’re dead!” she shouted, tears finally in her eyes. “I dug a hole for you, mourned you, crusaded for you, and it destroyed my life!”
“And so why do you think I’ve come for you now?” he smirked, shoving her against the edge of a couch so hard she flopped back down.
“Sure as hell isn’t love,” she spat, glaring hotly through the other side of her mounting fear, but pressed herself back against the cushions when he leaned down and placed one hand either side of her head on the backrest.
“That’s hurtful,” he exhaled into her face, and Miho bit her lips for just a second, struggling with the impulse and the potential consequences of her desire to…
“No, this, is going to be painful,” she grated, and kicked up into his groin as hard as she could.
At the very least, coming back from the dead deserved that much.
Whatever Daisetsu’s motives, however tough he was, there was simply no shrugging off a blow like that. Groaning, he fell forward on her, and she wriggled furiously to slide onto the floor, but that was as far as she got before she was wrenched to her feet by one of the other men.
“I want, the locket,” Daisetsu growled through his severe discomfort.
“You want what?” she balked, at least in some small part satisfied at how difficult it seemed for him to roll over and sit.
“The locket,” he repeated, eyes watering beyond his control. “The one I gave you on our second anniversary – heart shaped.”
“You’re after me because of a heart shaped locket?” Miho chortled. “Who the fuck do I look like – Sailormoon?”
“I let you be, all this time,” he responded, rasping, “out of deference to your efforts to avenge me, pointless as that was…”
“You’re going to break my arm,” Miho grimaced, but the man holding both her arms behind her did not relax his grip.
“… where is the locket?” Daisetsu persisted.
“Why? Sentimental?” she retorted, despite how ill-advised goading him seemed.
“Think a man like me does anything without an insurance policy?” Daisetsu cringed, drawing himself slowly forward and hazarding to shift his weight to his feet.
“Insurance, love, same thing right?” she sniffed, and she was sure she heard her shoulder pop a little when her captor gave her a solid shake.
“You might not believe me now, Miho, but I have always loved you,” he told her, slow to reapproach, perhaps a little more cautious.
“Sending photos to my in-laws and taking my brother hostage? Oh yeah that’s lo…”
“He isn’t your brother,” Daisetsu countered coldly, glowering as he drew within arm’s reach again. “And the man you think you’re engaged to, not your husband.”
“Yet,” she snapped defiantly. “You’re dead, and even if you’re not, all this? You’re dead to me.”
“Well that’s a problem,” he pointed out, some of the pain in his expression replaced by smugness. “Because whether you like it or not, you’re my wife. You’re mine.”
“No,” Miho disagreed stubbornly. “You’re the asshole who gave up the right to call me wife. That right belongs to Seiji now.”
“And I suppose you know him as well as you thought you knew me?” he posed, and at this Miho flinched. “Right now, are you so sure he’s on an investigation, not lining his pockets with dirty money and fucking skeezy whores?”
“My brother would never treat someone he loved like a possession,” Issei proclaimed, finally, slowly lifting his head. “And he would never betray them.”
“Is that right?” Daisetsu sniffed, and though the following affirmation didn’t come from Goto himself, it was the next best man.
“Of course he wouldn’t,” Subaru scoffed, appearing under one of the internal doorframes. “Back door’s open by the way.”
This flippant last comment was what threw the whole situation into chaos.
Bad guys reached for concealed firearms as Subaru ducked back out of sight, while Daisetsu took Miho from his compatriot and hissed into her ear.
“Whatever you did, it was a mistake,” he told her darkly, a gun in his free hand, a gun he turned and aimed at Issei.
“Don’t you fucking dare!” Miho shrieked, grabbing his wrist with both hands and pulling back, wood splintering around them as boards were wrenched away from windows.
Together they fell to the floor, Miho using her whole body to lock Daisetsu down, ironically, in part using methods he had taught her so many years ago.
While Tennoji crashed in through a grimy skylight, nearly crushing his foe beneath, and Kyobashi and Hanai bursting in from either end, Miho wrapped her legs around Daisetsu as they rolled on the floor and continued to wrestle for control of the gun.
“Let go, Miho!” he roared, and she narrowed avoided being head-butted.
“You don’t get to ruin my life again!” she gasped, though this was not really a battle she could win.
Hurry up Subaru!
As the other bad guys got their well-deserved beat-down, Daisetsu gained greater control over the gun. In sheer desperation, Miho wrenched her hands down and sandwiched the weapon between their bodies.
Subaru re-emerged from what looked like the kitchen, but on his path to the fray was tackled and sent crashing through a dry plaster wall.
Issei watched the struggle, completely helpless. Maybe ten, fifteen seconds worth.
This woman who knew his secret, who he had felt so much venom for when he’d seen her in those photos with Subaru – she’d come because of him – maybe not to rescue him per se, but knowing it was a trap, knowing it would be dangerous, she walked right into this man’s arms because of him.
The gun discharged.
“Miho!” Issei yelled, pulling against the ropes that held him. “Subaru!”
But Subaru was already frantically scampering along the floor, fingers finding little purchase in threadbare carpet until he took Miho’s shoulders and wrenched her up into his lap, eyes on her enemy as he did.
And there was blood on her blouse, a patch of it over her right breast.
“Subaru?!” Issei questioned urgently, trying to move his chair closer.
“I’m all right,” Miho whispered tearily, squirming further onto Subaru’s lap until he could properly wrap one arm around her, and he carefully nudged the gun from Daisetsu’s slack fingers with the other – best not to add his prints.
Issei’s body slumped with relief – this was not the first time he’d seen Miho in Subaru’s lap, but those lewd images were now the furthest thing from his mind.
“Ichiyanagi!” came Kirisawa’s voice, and he appeared, followed by Eiki.
“Clear!” Subaru called. “How far away is the ambulance?”
“She hurt?” Kirisawa scowled, while Eiki moved to untie Issei.
“I’m fine,” she murmured, though she obviously wasn’t fine.
Still, she lifted her face from Subaru’s now moist shoulder, and shuffled over to Issei, who once untied, she hugged whether he liked it or not.
“Seiji would have killed me if you got hurt because of me,” he told her sternly, but his voice was thick with emotion.
“He was my dead husband,” she sob-snorted – such a ridiculous sentence.
This time, she’d been the one to kill him.
“How’d that happen?” Kirisawa enquired at Subaru’s shoulder, looking down at Daisetsu.
“He was going to shoot me,” Issei answered instead, still holding Miho tightly – and she just let him. “Miho grabbed him, they fought and the gun went off… it could have been her.”
And he squeezed her a little tighter.
“Okay, let’s get you two outside,” Kirisawa ordered, and with Subaru hovering, Miho and Issei headed outside.
The rest of Daisetsu’s compatriots were in cuffs under Tennoji and Kyobashi’s careful eye, but the latter looked visibly relieved when Miho emerged of her own volition.
“Talk about giving us a heart attack,” he grumbled as she moved past him toward one of their cars. “Now you’re going to have to deal with Jazz.”
This made Miho’s tears run a little faster – not because she was afraid of Jazz’s wrath – though she could be scary – but because Jazz must have been worried sick.
“Subaru?” she croaked. “Can I borrow your phone? Mine’s still in the blue car.”
“Sure,” he smiled, digging it out and handing it over.
With Issei sitting just on the other side of the open passenger door of Subaru’s car, Miho half out the back seat, she called Jazz’s number.
“Subaru?!” Jazz’s voice blared after maybe just half a ring cycle. “Is she okay?”
“My hearing might not be after that,” Miho muttered, but the sound of Jazz’s voice made her cry harder, so all she could manage next came out as a squeak. “I’m okay. Issei’s okay.”
“Is she okay?” Miho faintly heard in the background – Kuni’s voice, and Jazz answered through her own relieved tears.
Okay was a bit of an overstatement really, but it was that term people used when things weren’t dire, but weren’t peachy either, a nowhere term that didn’t mean you were fine, just… existing. Which was one better than Daisetsu.
“I killed him, Jazz,” Miho sobbed, her hands trembling, her body shuddering as adrenaline wore off and shock came creeping.
“Killed? Killed who?”
“Daisetsu,” Miho answered, but couldn’t say much more, her voice shaking too much.
“Gimme that,” Subaru huffed, taking the phone from Miho as an ambulance rolled up the driveway. “We’ll be back after these two have been checked out at the hospital,” he told Jazz, and Miho didn’t hear the rest of the conversation.
“Miho?” Issei probed, standing and moving around the door.
In truth, it was becoming increasingly difficult for him not to join her in crying, but he could hardly do that in front of her, in front of Subaru. He felt guilty for getting so easily jumped and used as bait, ashamed it had forced Miho to put herself at risk, and incredibly embarrassed he’d needed rescuing, that Subaru had seen him like that.
Grimacing he lowered himself to his knees on the grass in front of Miho and took her hands, looking up into her flushed, mascara-ribboned cheeks and overspilling hazel eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he apologised soberly. “For this, for how I reacted, for the things I said – it was terrible of me, when you were being stalked by that piece of shit, selfish and childish to act like you’d done me wrong when you hadn’t – and I’m sorry.”
Miho paused mid sob, but she didn’t hold it long before dissolving again and sliding back into his arms.
“You’re supposed to cry less when a man comforts you, you know?” he murmured, enveloping her though his arms hurt from being tied behind him for days. “I guess, I’m no substitute for my brother.”
Though Miho wasn’t really physically injured, she rode with Issei to the nearest metropolitan hospital in the ambulance, and Subaru followed in his car, leaving Kirisawa and the rest of Second Unit to clean up. Statements would need taking, sooner rather than later, but Kyobashi said he’d come by MJS in the late afternoon to get that sorted.
While she waited for Issei’s examination to finish, Miho sat with her head resting against Subaru’s shoulder. The tears had stopped, and now her body felt exhausted and heavy. Her mind, however, played over those few frenzied seconds.
There was still so much she didn’t understand, didn’t know. Where had Daisetsu been all this time? He’d faked his death, obviously, but why? She had to wonder if the man she’d married had always been the criminal he’d presented himself as in this second iteration, and if so…
How did I not see it?
Her heart ached for all she had lost pursuing justice for him. He had had kidnapped, assaulted, threatened and attempted murder, all before her very eyes.
“I’m such a fool,” she sighed, fighting tears again, when Subaru gave her a bit of a nudge.
“You scared the shit out of me, you know?” he grumbled, but took her hand and gave it a squeeze. “Though, I get why. Was pretty brave.”
It was on the tip of his tongue, Seiji would be impressed, but he didn’t say it for a number of reasons. One, Goto was going to be beside himself when he learned all this went down and he wasn’t there to protect or rescue his soon to be wife. And two, it was going to make Miho think about how Goto wasn’t there to hold her – assuming she wasn’t already.
Of course she was.
“I’m sorry for worrying everyone,” she admitted. “But it was just… an impossible choice.”
“Yeah I get it,” he nodded. “Jazz is still going to chew you out though.”
“I guess that makes you good cop?” she managed, a weak smile, just a ghost, but it was there – briefly. “You are, good cop, saving Issei and I like that.”
“Well I’d like to take the credit, but your BFF is the one who called Nomura, and everyone else – I’m surprised she didn’t call the army,” he smirked.
“She knows I was an assassin in a past… life…” Miho began, then slowed down as what she was saying sank in. “This life too… I guess.”
“Nah, assassins take life intentionally. You? The way Issei tells it, you jumped in to protect him. Totally different.”
“Maybe,” she sighed, wanting to close her eyes, but at the same time knowing she’d see things she didn’t want to. “You should go see if he’s okay.”
“As if I’m letting you out of my sight,” he snorted.
“Don’t be like that,” she grumbled. “Issei went through much worse than me, and he’s taken a blow to his pride. His hero, the man he wants to be, just had to rescue him.”
“Well… even so, I’m not leaving you,” he huffed.
“Daisetsu is dead,” she stated crisply, staring at him with swollen eyes. “He can’t hurt me anymore, the danger is passed, so go and check on Issei.”
“Jeez, no need to look so scary,” he complained, but didn’t look upset. “But don’t you dare move. If I come back and you’re gone I will keel over.”
It made her happy he cared so much, and she tried to smile this feeling as best she could.
Reluctantly he left her in the waiting room, staff, visitors and other patients wandering around her. It was an oddly calming symphony of footfalls against linoleum, murmuring voices, pens clicking and distant beeping equipment that kept more tears at bay.
There was no fear now, but in its place…
Guilt, no matter how unjustified.
She’d had no shortage of arms around her, but the ones she wanted were she knew not where, and would return she knew not when. But she had to be the wife of a man whose job it was to protect all the people of Japan, not just her.
No more crying.
Aaaaand that worked out really well, because the moment she set foot in the MJS office Jazz flung her arms around Miho and very nearly squished the life from her. Rose and H followed: a group hug of epic proportions.
“Go ahead kid,” Subaru smirked, motioning to Izumi. “Join in.”
“Nah,” he sniffled quietly. “I think I’ll just leave them to it.”
“You?” he asked Kuni, who stood on his other side.
“Do I look like I have a death-wish?” he responded wryly.
“What are you going to do?” Subaru then asked Issei, who’d come with them.
“I’ve got a bunch of lectures to catch up on,” Issei replied, feeling a bit awkward.
“You should take a least few days, rest up,” Subaru suggested. “You got put through the wringer.”
“Would you?” Issei queried, forcing himself to look into Subaru’s eyes. “Would you take time off?”
“Ha, you got me, I probably wouldn’t,” Subaru laughed. “But still, you should.”
“I can handle it,” Issei frowned.
He knew Subaru wasn’t suggesting he was weak, but it still ruffled his already well ruffled feathers.
“Hey,” Subaru frowned, placing a hand lightly on Issei’s shoulder. “I know you feel bad, maybe even guilty, but both you and Miho are alive, and right now she could do with some extra support, what with your brother off doing who knows what.”
“Heh, she’s got you for that,” Issei exhaled, unable to hold back a blush entirely – Subaru’s hand was broad and warm.
“Yeah maybe, but she’s pretty much your sister now. Protecting someone is more than just making sure their body is okay. You, her, there are going to be some pretty difficult mental and emotional scars to work through. She’s a tough cookie, but she likes to hide the negative stuff. You have to take care of that too.”
Issei nodded along, absorbing the impromptu lesson.
“And you know,” Subaru shrugged. “If you need to talk, you can always hit me up.”
Issei looked at the floor, then over at the still hugging mass of female bodies, then back at the floor.
“Don’t ever let pride get in the way of protecting someone,” Subaru said more seriously, though his voice seemed to drift slowly to Issei’s ears. “Especially not yourself.”
“Then… I’ll call… sometime,” Issei said finally, fashioning a reserved smile.
“Guys?” Miho interrupted, casting a sideways glance at Issei, then Kuni, then she looked to Subaru. “Do you think we could get Kyobashi to meet us at home to take our statements? I need to find something.”
“I don’t think he’ll have an issue with that,” Subaru shrugged. “The both of you could use a shower and a change of clothes anyway.”
“Ahh, I’m coming too,” Jazz declared most adamantly, shooting Kuni a very brief but genuinely apologetic look.
He responded with a smile and the raising of his hands in an I wouldn’t dare object kind of gesture.
Linking arms with Miho, Jazz then pulled Miho back toward the doors, and with a bit of a sheepish look, Subaru shrugged and he and Issei followed.
The first thing Subaru did when they arrived at Goto’s, was demand he be let in first just in case, and though it was clear, this time, that Daisetsu was dead, no one argued. The second thing he did, was make tea. Miho, however, with her shorter, blonder shadow, headed for the bedroom.
“What are you looking for?” Jazz asked when Miho didn’t go for the wardrobe or bathroom, but rather pulled a small pewter box from the bedside table and sat.
“Daisetsu,” Miho answered idly, lifting the hinged lid and fishing around within. “He wanted a locket he gave me years ago, for an anniversary.”
Between her fingers she lifted a fine, yellow gold chain, from which hung a heart shaped locket about as big as a man’s thumb-pad, with a diamond set in the middle. And she nearly dropped it when Jazz flopped down beside her.
“All this, for that?” she scowled, watching as Miho opened it to reveal a picture of her and Daisetsu smiling, cheeks pressed together.
“Doubt it,” Miho frowned, digging the picture out carelessly to find a piece of plastic behind it.
And behind that, something small, rectangular, and sealed in a film of cling wrap.
“No way,” Jazz blinked as Miho plucked it free, setting the micro SD on her palm.
“He said it was insurance,” Miho recalled quietly, leaving it wrapped.
“Kyobashi is going to have a field day with that,” Jazz noted, then looked into Miho’s face. “You are going to give it to him right?”
“Yeah,” Miho nodded – no hesitation. “Whatever is on here is Daisetsu’s dirty business, and I’m done with him.”
After giving Subaru the micro SD, Miho took her shower.
Alone, though Jazz did ask if she’d be all right alone.
Being in Goto’s apartment did make Miho feel safe, but he was both all around her and glaringly absent.
There was no timeline for his return, and she told herself she would not call Ishigami, she wouldn’t ask.
I know I said I wouldn’t cry…
But in the shower it’s not like one could tell water from tears anyway.
That night, statements were taken, and when Kyobashi left he took Daisetsu’s micro SD and the locket with him, but left Domo-kun in lieu. Eventually Subaru curled up on the couch, while Issei stretched out on an air mattress on the floor not too far away. Miho and Jazz, Domo-kun between them, finally went to bed.
That ceiling was so familiar to Miho, but now it seemed Daisetsu stared down at her from it. Not accusing. Not glaring. Just staring and leaving his thoughts entirely up to Miho’s imagination.
“Goto’ll be back soon,” Jazz told, her snuggling closer.
“You want him to join in huh?” Miho sniffed, dragging her mind back to the bed.
And the gutter.
“I know what you’re like,” Jazz snickered, giving Miho’s side a pinch. “But there’s no way you’d share him.”
“Mhm, guess you’re right,” Miho smiled, and closed her eyes.
Days seemed to stretch out, remained in form but dragged – each second’s tick of the clock a lifespan though Miho tried to fill her time with as much activity as possible.
The danger had passed and so she didn’t need a constant chaperone, not that that stopped Jazz, Rose and H from checking she was still in the office every other minute and scuttling to follow when she dared venture out for coffee. Even Issei came by, every lunch time with food for them to share, and insisted he stay with her at his brother’s apartment in place of Subaru who needed to swap to night shifts.
It took some serious convincing to get Jazz to go home to Kuni, but after three days and no lesbian action, Miho kicked her out of bed. And you know, she felt bad the newlyweds were separated – she wasn’t married to Goto yet, but she was experiencing how hard being away from the she loved was… for a second time.
The cover of her mobile phone was fading from how she held it nearly all the time, her thumb swiping over the back over and over again in nervous, aching anticipation. It took all her willpower not to call Ishigami… not to call Ishigami… not to call Ishigami… just to get reassurance he knew Goto was still alive at least, to ask when he was coming home.
“You’re going to wear a hole in that thing,” Issei told her from over the lip of his bento, sitting in Miho’s MJS office as was now his habit.
“Sorry?” she frowned, focusing back in on him, noticing her chopsticks poised in the air above her own meal.
“Would it be so bad if you called his boss?” Issei asked.
“If I did that, it would undermine Seiji’s work, the risks he takes, his purpose,” Miho sighed, conveying how much she would like to, but couldn’t. “You’re going to be in the same position one day you know, responsibility for far more than just one person, or your family. I understand the job, and as his partner I just have to accept it, and support him by not making life more difficult than it needs to be.”
“I guess you really are the right woman for him,” Issei smiled warmly, perhaps even affectionately.
Suddenly, there was this silver lining to what they’d endured – Miho now had an actual brother.
“You’d want to hope s…” Miho chuckled.
“Where is she?” came a voice faint through the wall, and suddenly Miho’s spine straightened.
“She’s just…” Izumi began in reply, but Miho’s office door had already opened dramatically under the imperative force of Seiji’s palm.
Gravity pulled Miho’s lunch back to the coffee table in front of her, chopsticks, phone, set down with excruciating slowness as she stared unblinking at her unceremonious visitor. Then, when time broke the moment, Seiji swept forward, pulled her from her seat and crushed her against him so hard Miho let out an involuntarily grunt.
And she inhaled a deep breath of him, emptied her lungs then filled herself with him again.
“I missed you,” she managed, a small voice threatened by emotion she didn’t want to make her seem weak or pathetic.
“Missed?” Seiji huffed out into her hair, arms coiled and locked and entirely where he’d wanted them to be the whole time he’d been gone. “After… I’m sor…”
“No,” she sniffled, turning her head to press her forehead to his.
“No apologies. I’m okay, and I’ll be okay, we’ll be okay.”
“I’ll be okay too you know,” Issei snorted from where he still sat, just watching, on the sofa. “You do know I was kidnapped and beaten right?”
Miho laughed a short chuckle, but most of it was swallowed by the fierceness of Seiji’s kiss. Desperate and hungry as it was, it wasn’t about sex, but rather reassurance. She was real. He was real. They were together.
This is who deserves my love, Daisetsu.
This is my husband.