Kurama Love Story - 006DISCLAIMER!!!!!!! I do NOT own this story....I found it on Fanfiction and thought that you guys should read it...it is so awesome!
Kurama and Yusuke walked Beth and Keiko to the train station after breakfast. Yusuke had given Beth the officer's card and told her she had to give a statement about the accident. Kurama put a hand out to steady her when she paled at the memory. She looked up at him. "What am I going to tell them?"
"That you don't remember a lot." Kurama told her. "We told them you saw the accident. And this will be a small lie. You fainted when you saw how badly the men were burned. There is no need to mention your dream. They wouldn't believe you anyway." She gave a rueful smile. "I'm surprised you guys haven't had me locked up in the loony bin yet."
He brushed a stray tendril of hair from her face. "Never doubt your sanity, Beth. There is a reason for your precognitive dreams and we will find it." She stared into his intense gaze and felt reassured. He dropped his hand to his side when Yusuke and Keiko returned from the ticket counter. "I would like to come by tomorrow to see how you are doing, if that's alright with you. I could perhaps show you around town if you feel up to it."
She felt her face grow warm. "I would like that." Keiko gave Yusuke a kiss on the cheek and grabbed Beth's arm. "Hurry. We'll miss the train. Bye guys." The doors closed behind them and Beth glanced back at the platform as the train began to move. Kurama gave her a small wave that set butterflies fluttering in her stomach. She returned the wave as she followed Keiko to a seat, a small, bemused smile curling her lips.
Yusuke started walking back to the temple his hands in his pockets. "So what's up with up with you and the amazon?" Kurama tensed. "Don't call her that, Yusuke." "What? Amazon? Well she is. She's even taller than you. Maybe only and inch or so…" Kurama grabbed his collar. He snarled. Yusuke noticed his eyes flicker with a hint of gold.
"Hey man. No need to let Youko out. I didn't mean anything by it. I've always teased her." "You will cease teasing her about her height. Use your senses for something besides fighting. You will see that she is sensitive about it." He let go of Yusuke's collar with a push.
"Well I guess that answers my question anyway." Yusuke was grinning. "I guess I need to keep Keiko busy tomorrow so she won't insist on going with you." Kurama looked over at Yusuke, his eyes now returned to normal. "She wouldn't?" Yusuke's grin got bigger. Kurama sighed. "She would." Yusuke was still grinning. "Just be glad Keiko doesn't have demon hearing and hope that Beth doesn't tell her about your plans."
Kurama's communicator went off. He fished it out of his pocket. It had taken him the better part of a month, but he had managed to redesign it. Instead of an overgrown compact, it now resembled a cell phone. He flipped it open. Koenma's image stared back at him. "I have your information." He frowned. "You should bring Yusuke with you." "He's here with me. Can you send us a portal?" "Done." The image faded.
Yusuke was puzzled. "What's he need me for?" "We won't know until we get there." The portal opened and they stepped through. They exited the portal directly into Koenma's office. Koenma was pacing. That was never a good sign. Yusuke now had a very bad feeling about this.
Koenma stopped pacing to face them. "Before I give you this." He held up a folder. "I want your word that you will continue the mission you accepted. And that it will be your first priority." Yusuke reached for the folder. Koenma pulled it back. "Your word, Yusuke." "Just give me the damn folder." Koenma stood firm. He repeated. "Your word. Or you don't get it."
Yusuke knew he wasn't going to like what the folder contained. "Ok, Binky Breath! You've got it. Now hand it here." Koenma reluctantly parted with the folder. He knew his ex spirit detective was not going to like it, but he could be trusted to keep his word now that he'd given it.
Yusuke opened the folder. He looked to his side. Kurama was peering over his shoulder. Now that was unusual for the fox. He normally was patient enough to wait until he was directly handed something. Yusuke read a few lines and his head snapped up. He fixed Koenma with a narrow eyed stare.
"What the fuck do you mean he's in limbo? He's been in limbo for two months?" Kurama snatched the folder. Yusuke let him have it. "I'm waiting for an answer." Koenma began to pace again. "Remember the first time you died?" "Get to the point." "Your death was unexpected and we had no room for you. His was the same. His death was not an accident."
"What?" "He was murdered." "Ok. I'll think about that in a minute. Murder happens all the time. You should have been prepared for it. Wasn't it foretold or whatever you call it?" "If his murder had been the result of a human action then, yes. This however was not. He was murdered by a demon. We were unprepared."
"Demon? Then you should be able to send the spirit back shouldn't you?" Koenma sighed. "Normally, yes. Since the action was at the hands of a demon, we would have sent the spirit back immediately and he would have been another human who barely survived a car accident. Since the body was destroyed, we couldn't send him back. He was not scheduled to die for another thirty six point four years, and then in his sleep. He is not scheduled for reincarnation for another fifty years after that. It will take time to sort it out."
"So in the meantime he just floats around in limbo?" "We're working on it." "Ok, back to the murder. Was it random?" "We don't know." "There's a hell of a lot you don't know lately isn't there?" Kurama had finished the file. "Calm down, Yusuke. We need to ask questions, not go off half-cocked."
"Fine, you ask him your questions." Yusuke folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the wall. His pose said, 'And then I'll get my answers'. "Beth is under the impression her father lost control of the car on a rain slick road. The report doesn't give those details. Was the demon directly responsible, or was the car sabotaged in some way?" "Sabotage, I believe."
Kurama nodded. "That would rule out random. It had to be deliberate. Since the car belonged to him, and he had it at work, then logic would indicate that he was the target. There would be no reasonable expectation that another would be driving."
Kurama's keen mind was picking apart the smallest details. "Since none of the family has experienced any attacks, then his death could be linked to his business. We will need to get Beth to tell us what she can about his business and any associates he may have had. She will not understand why we are asking her about something so painful for her. We may not be able to keep our secret from her."
Koenma nodded. "The possibility was there before this came to light. She is now associated with your team. As Keiko's cousin, it was a given that sooner or later she would be dragged into it. Your enemies will see her as fair game." Kurama did not like that bit of news, but he should have seen it himself. "She is not to be told unless it becomes necessary." Kurama nodded again.
Kurama shuffled the papers in the folder. "There is nothing in here about the precognitive dreams she is having." Koenma raked a hand through his hair. "There is little I can help you with. That one stumped our experts. She isn't a natural psychic. She has had no implants. Psychic powers have been known to manifest as the result of some traumatic experience, but rarely. The only other possibility is projection."
Kurama looked up from the folder in surprise. "Projection?" "Yes. There have been instances where psychic visions are planted in the mind of a subject. It takes a very powerful psychic to accomplish this, and no apparent reason why anyone would want to." "You said there have been instances. The reason in those cases?" "To drive the subject to insanity."
Kurama's mind had been spinning since they had left the Reikai. He wanted to… needed to…. solve this for Beth. A demon had taken her father away from her long before she should have had to face life without him. It wasn't fair. Life wasn't fair. It was one of those unpleasant facts he had learned firsthand centuries ago. She was far too young for that lesson to be so brutally forced upon her.
Yusuke had walked silently beside him. He spoke up for the first time since they had returned from the Reikai. "How are we gonna tell her?" He kicked at a pebble on the path. "It was hard enough to know she saw his accident. How's she gonna feel knowing she saw his murder?"
Kurama shook his head, sadness in his eyes. "She's going to be hurt. We can't tell her until we have some answers for her." Yusuke put his hands in his pockets. "I wish I hadn't promised Binky Breath we'd stay on the mission. I'd rather work on this full time." "I think Koenma got the message."
Yusuke smiled at the image of the prince of the Reikai. His feet were several inches off the floor. His eyes wide as Yusuke snarled at the man in a very good imitation of Hiei. "You will find a place for her father by tomorrow at the latest. If I find out he is still in limbo after that, you will be joining him." They had left a very pale Koenma on his knees gasping for air.
When they reached the temple, only Genkai and Yukina were there. They had been saddened by the news that Beth's father had not died in an accident as Beth believed. Genkai was very interested in the news about Beth's visions. "Projection?" She drew on her pipe.
"It is a technique that I would have been able to perform before I passed my power to Yusuke. It makes no sense. Precognitive powers can be used for preventing the events predicted or profiting from them. If prevention is the goal, you act on it. If profit is the goal, you act on it. In neither case would there be benefit from passing it on to another. Certainly not multiple times."
Kurama agreed. "Koenma stated that the few cases they had on record had been for the purpose of driving the victim insane." Genkai blew a small cloud of smoke. "If that is the intent here, then it is a wasted effort. That would only work on someone weak willed and insecure. She is hardly weak willed, and with the exception of some misplaced issues having to do with her height, about as insecure as the dimwit." Yusuke whined, "Did everybody but me know she's sensitive about her height?" Genkai and Kurama rolled their eyes.
Kurama dropped Yusuke off at his apartment. "I will check with Hiei to see if there has been any activity around the coordinates we were given. I will also give him the latest information we have on Beth's situation." Kurama told him. "Yeah. I'll update Kuwabara. Call if you need us. I'll find some way to keep Keiko occupied tomorrow." He set off down the walkway with a wave. "Enjoy your date."
Kurama tossed his keys on the table by the door. He called his voice mail. There was only one message. He listened to his mother's soft voice giving him the details of his brother's graduation. She wanted him to come by tomorrow and discuss the party plans with her. She needed him to take care of some arrangements.
He called her back, but she didn't answer. He left a message saying he would see her tomorrow and that he would be bringing a friend with him. He did not give any details. She would expect one of his friends she had already met. He smiled, knowing the grilling he would receive once his mother met Beth.
She had been pushing him for years to get into a serious relationship. She would see this as another opportunity for grandchildren. He would have to warn Beth. He frowned. He would also have to explain that his mother didn't know he was called Kurama. And so the dance around the truth begins again.
Kurama made some sandwiches and stuffed them along with some sodas into his backpack for Hiei. He knew that Hiei would not leave his post for food and he didn't require a great deal of sleep. He turned on his porch light, as he did not expect to return tonight. He then locked the door and headed out to the park where Hiei was keeping a silent vigil.
The park was desrted. It was primarily a kids park, with a few rides suited to very young children, and a small petting zoo. The large picnic area was heavily wooded. It was closed after dark with no security. A perfect place for clandestine activities.
Kurama lowered his energy signature as he approached the park. If there were any activity, he didn't want to scare them off. He knew that Hiei had done the same because he couldn't sense his energy. His only advantage was his personal knowledge of the fire apparition. He knew that Hiei would be in the trees close to the coordinates that Koenma had given them. Somewhere high enough to afford an unobstructed view.
Kurama spotted him the same time he heard a voice in his head. "Come up and join me. There has been some movement in the area, but I am unsure yet if it is what we seek." Kurama made a leap and landed softly beside the fire apparition. He handed over the backpack. Hiei took it with a grunt of thanks.
"How is the woman today?" Hiei asked. "She is better." "Was Koenma any help?" Kurama closed his eyes. "Yes and no. We now have to find a way to tell her that her father was murdered by a demon." Hiei's eyes widened in surprise as he took a bite of the sandwich he'd dug out of the backpack.
"Hn. That's unexpected. She will not take it well." "Not only that. Since his death was not planned for many years, his spirit is in limbo while they find a place for him." Hiei nodded. "That is expected. The Reikai has never been very organized. Her visions?" "He wasn't a great deal of help there. We suspect her visions are the result of projection. Genkai agrees."
Hiei sat forward abruptly. "That's it!" "What? Do you know something?" "Something about her visions kept bothering me. Something from long ago, but I couldn't clearly recall it. Back in my youth, my time with the band of thieves that raised me, there was a demon with strong psychic powers. He was physically weak. All of his powers were centered on mind control. He could plant anything in your mind. Make you believe you were seeing anything he wished you to see."
"He stayed with us for a time while he healed. He'd had a run in with a demon who was trained in psychic shielding. He had projected a scene to cover his theft of the man's purse. The man, who thanks to his shielding was not seeing what he was supposed to, took exception to being robbed. He beat him almost to death."
"What happened to him?" Kurama asked. Hiei smirked. "He accepted the band's hospitality and repaid it by stealing a large amount of food and the chief's concubine. We still don't know how long he had been gone before we discovered the injured body sleeping in the back of the cave was an illusion." Hiei shook his head. "The answer to your next question is no. I never saw him again. I don't remember his name, if I ever knew it."
Kurama nodded. His attention was drawn to a truck pulling into the park. That was odd. Hiei took notice as well. It was a small box van. Nothing unusual about it. They were commonly used commercially for small businesses and delivery services. There was a company logo on the side of the truck but they were too far away to make it out.
A portal opened with a soft pop and two demons appeared. Their energy signature labeled them as B class demons. They were ushered into the truck and it drove off as the portal closed. Once the doors to the truck were closed, it was as if their energy signature vanished. The truck was psychically shielded preventing detection of the demons inside. That explained how Koenma's people lost them after arrival. Hiei was already in motion as he said, "I'll follow it. When I know something I'll contact you." He dropped gracefully to the ground and disappeared.
Kurama grabbed his backpack and waited until the truck passed by. As he dropped to the ground, he could now read the company logo. Carter International. "Oh shit. No." It had to be a coincidence. Please God let it be a coincidence.
Kurama threw his keys on the table and his backpack on the couch. He sat down heavily with his face in his hands. It appeared that Yusuke would get his wish and keep his promise to Koenma. While he had prayed to any Gods listening for it to be a coincidence, he just didn't believe in coincidences of this magnitude. Priorities were irrelevant now. Their cases had just become one and the same, and where they had not had a motive for Paul Carter's murder before, they now had several.
His mind was a maelstrom of questions that had no answers. He ran a hand down his face and sighed. What would they tell Beth? How would they protect her if the truth was something she would be better off not knowing? If that was the case, could he lie to her? Did he want to?
It would do no good to ponder answers to his questions. At this point, it was all just conjecture anyway. He stripped off his shirt as he headed for the bedroom. A hot shower and some sleep was what he needed now. Tomorrow would be soon enough to confront these new developments.
Kurama was up early. He had spent a sleepless night and still he had no answers. He quickly dressed in jeans and a beige button up shirt, grabbed his keys, and headed over to the Yukimura's shop to pick up Beth. It wasn't far from his apartment so he left his car. It was a nice day for a walk. He smiled. He had been so busy lately, that he had not taken any time for himself. It would be nice to spend the day with Beth. Perhaps they could both forget their difficulties for a while.
Keiko's mother greeted him when he entered the shop. "Hello Shuichi. How are you today?" She was cleaning a table recently vacated. "I am fine, thank you, Yukimura san." She smiled. "Always so polite. I am afraid that Keiko is not here. Yusuke has already taken her out for breakfast." "I am not here to see Keiko today. I have come to take Beth sightseeing."
Her smile got bigger. "She will enjoy that. I will call her for you." She called loudly up the stairs. "Beth, you have a visitor." She turned back to him. "Is this why Yusuke was so early this morning? It isn't like him." Kurama grinned and nodded. She nodded back. "You know Keiko well. I know you will take good care of my niece. I will not worry."
Beth came downstairs dressed in black jeans and a turquoise t-shirt. The shirt was left untucked. It disguised her height somewhat. She was wearing flat black sandals. She bent over to kiss her aunt's cheek. "I don't know what time I will be back." "It's alright. Shuichi is a nice boy. You have a good time. Tell your mother hello when you see her, Shuichi." "I will Yukimura san."
He opened the door and Beth stepped out into the early morning sunshine. He closed the door behind him. The train station was a short walk and he offered Beth his arm. She took it. The sky was partly cloudy, but it was warm. "How are you feeling today?" he asked her. "Pretty good actually. It's a beautiful day." He smiled at her. "Good. Do you feel up to some walking?" "Sure."
He led her to the train platform and found her a seat. "I'll be right back." She watched him get in line at the ticket counter. It wasn't too long. She crossed her legs and took in her surroundings, her thoughts on Kurama. It had been a while since Beth had been out on a date. She was glad she hadn't mentioned it to Keiko. She suspected that Yusuke had come over this morning to run interference for them. She would have to remember to thank him.
She glanced back at the ticket counter. Kurama was next in line. Since there was no one who could tease her about it, she took the opportunity to really look at Kurama. He was a good looking man. He had a nice body too. His shirt stretched across his shoulders in a way that told her Yusuke wasn't the only one who worked out. His jeans weren't as tight as some men wore them, but they told a nice story as well.
She turned around before he could catch her checking out his attributes. Yes, he was a very good looking man. More importantly, he had a good personality, and brains too. That was a rare combination. She had so completely misjudged him. She was glad she had never said anything to anyone about her first impression. She would be eating her words now.
He made his way back to her dodging the people who hurried to their next destination. "We're in luck. The next train will be here in minutes." He took her hand and pulled her to the platform behind him. His hand was soft and warm, but she could feel the strength in it. He definitely works out.
The train was crowded, but he managed to find her a seat. He grabbed the handstrap on the bar above her as the train moved out of the station. She felt sorry for the woman next to her. The man standing in front of her kept getting pushed into her. She whimpered each time he stepped on her toes. She looked up at Kurama. He was smiling down at her seemingly unaffected by the pushing and shoving. Her bare toes peeking out of her sandals were very happy this was the case.
They passed through several business areas and the train emptied a little more at each stop until Kurama was able to sit beside her. They pulled into a station and he stood up and took her hand. The sign said, Kichijoji Station. As they left the station, he wrapped her hand around his arm and led her down a narrow street. The traffic wasn't as bad here. It was almost peaceful.
Once the station was behind them, she could see a huge park in front of them. As they got closer to the entrance, she could see the cherry trees. They were in bloom. It was the most magnificent sight she had ever seen. Everywhere she turned, the trees were covered in pink and white blooms. Kurama glanced over and was happy to see the pleasure on her face. She turned to him. "Where are we?"
He chuckled. She was almost childlike. The excitement was shining in her eyes. "This is Inokashira Park." She looked around wide eyed. "It's beautiful." "There are over ten thousand trees in the park." They walked along in silence. She let go of his arm when they reached the pond and went to the rail. He missed the contact. He strolled up to lean on the rail beside her. The fountains spewed crystal clear water high into the air.
"Would you like to hear the park's history?" She turned those childlike eyes on him. "I would, please." He was happy to comply. "The park first opened to the public in 1918. It had been a gift to the people of Tokyo in 1913 by then Emperor Taisho. The pond and water source were established in the Edo era. It is the source of the Kanda River." He took her hand and they began to walk.
Before long they came to a temple built in the traditional pagoda style. It was painted a vivid red and white. There was a statue of a woman in front of it. He continued. "This is the shrine dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten. She is the goddess of everything that flows. Speech, music, eloquence. People of Japan began to worship her sometime between the 6th and 8th centuries. She is called Saraswati in India. The ancients learned about her from Chinese translations of the 'Sutra of Golden Light'. An entire section is devoted to her. She is also mentioned in the 'Lotus Sutra'."
"Legend has it that a particularly nasty dragon was feeding on the children of the village of Koshigoe. Being the daughter of a dragon herself, she descended from the heavens and married the dragon to prevent his eating any more children. Thus she became known as a protector deity." He looked over at her. She seemed genuinely interested. Still holding his arm, she noticed the vendors set up along the paths.
They walked in that direction. It was like a huge street fair. There were food vendors, artists, and merchants with almost anything you could want for sale. There were street performers, and Beth stopped to watch a mime as he chased children, one minute scary, and then sad that he had chased them away. He whirled around and around, then fell down comically holding his head as if dizzy. He had a female partner who pushed him over with her foot. He got up and chased her.
Beth was laughing so hard at his antics that she didn't notice him take a rose from his partner's basket. He stopped in front of Beth and held it out to her with a flourish. Beth gave him an exaggerated curtsy and took the flower nodding her thanks and blowing a kiss. He caught it and smacked himself on the cheek with his hand as his partner grabbed his ear and pulled him off down the path to another crowd of onlookers. He waved at her and rubbed his eye with his fist as if sad.
She was still laughing as she brought the rose up to smell it. She glanced over at Kurama. He smiled down at her and took the rose from her hand. He stripped it of it's thorns and tilted her face up. Then he slipped it behind her ear using the earpiece of her glasses to securely anchor it. She reached up to touch her new hair ornament and smiled. "Thank you." In the spirit of the moment, he gave his best courtly bow and placed her hand around his arm once more.
They began to walk again. "Was that the whole story of Benzaiten, or is there more?" He paused to recall where he had stopped. "She became one of the seven gods of fortune. The only woman among them, by the way. She often appears in the form of a serpent. It is said that if you put a piece of snakeskin in your wallet, it will bring you good luck and wealth." She danced around to face him, walking backward. "Really? Do people actually believe that?"
"Let's just say that a lot of people don't take chances." She was grinning. "No way. You're not going to tell me you have one?" He looked a little sheepish and reached into his back pocket for his wallet. He opened it and she saw it before he pulled it out. It was small and scaly. Definitely snakeskin. She giggled. "You're superstitious." She scanned the merchant's tables. "Do they sell them here? I want one."
They walked further and found what they were searching for. She was picky. After looking the offerings over, she settled on a piece that had a familiar pattern. She picked it up. "This one. It looks like the rattlesnakes we have in Texas." She pulled her purse off her shoulder, but he put his hand on hers. He paid for the snakeskin and gave it to her. She tucked it away in a small zippered compartment in her wallet. "Thank you, Kurama."
She took his arm again and they resumed walking. "Now, is there more to this goddess?" "Only that she is also known as the vengeful goddess of love. She supposedly cast a spell on courting couples." He indicated the paddle boats out on the pond. "It is said that if a courting couple goes out on the pond in a boat, their relationship will come to an untimely end." She sighed. "That's sad. I guess legends can't all be good can they?"
They walked away from the pond and back to the entrance. "Thank you for telling me the legend. This is such an amazing place. Do you come here often?" He nodded. "Whenever I'm stressed, or need to think." She peeked over at him. "Then thank you too, for sharing your special place."
They walked back to the train station in companionable silence. He looked at his watch. "Do you mind if we stop at my mother's on the way back?" "Not at all. I'd like to meet your mother." "We're planning a graduation party for my little brother. He's graduating from high school. Mother needs me to take care of some things. I told her I'd stop by sometime today."
On the train, Kurama asked Beth not to mention his 'nickname', as his mother wasn't aware he used one. Once they arrived, it was clear there should have been a much stronger warning about his mother. He opened the door and called out to her, as they removed their shoes. "Mother! We're here."
His mother folded him in a warm embrace. "Shuichi! It's good to see you. You don't visit enough. I miss you since you moved out." "I miss you too, Mother." She stepped back. "Who did you bring with you?" He reached for Beth's hand and pulled her forward. "This is my friend Beth. She is Keiko's cousin." He could see the instant his mother's mind settled on the possibilities.
She pulled Beth into a hug. "Beth chan. You will call me Shiori." His mother let her go long enough to wrap an arm around her shoulders and guide her into the kitchen. "I just made some lunch. You have to stay. It's been too long since I made lunch for Shuichi." She cast a look over her shoulder at him. Her wide smile telling him that Beth had her seal of approval.
He rolled his eyes as he followed them. At this point, all that his mother required was that the subject was breathing and capable of producing grandchildren. He shook his head, an amused smile curling his lips. He wasn't really sure that breathing was on her list.
Lunch finished, Shiori got up to clear the table. Beth collected the plates and carried them to the sink. "I'll do them, Shiori san." "Oh no. You are a guest. I wouldn't think of it." Beth smiled gently at her. "You have important things to ask Shuichi about the party. I'm Keiko's cousin. If she were here, would you treat her so formally?" Shiori shook her head and smiled. "No. She is like family." "Then let me do these while you take care of business." Shiori gave in.
"It's a surprise party, Little Shuichi doesn't know anything about it." Kurama smiled indulgently at his mother. "Of course he does." She gave his hand a playful slap. "Your brother is easier to fool than you are." He shook his head. "Sorry mother. He's just better at hiding things from you." "I doubt that."
She gave him a knowing look. Sometimes he wondered how much she really knew. There were many things over the years that should have raised her suspicions. He had always been thankful she was oblivious. He had never looked at the situation too closely, wanting her ignorance too much to question it's convenience. Seeing the look in her eyes now, he began to seriously doubt she had ever been that ignorant. He wondered not for the first time, if she would still love him if she knew the truth.
Shiori looked at her son sitting oh so innocently across the table. She had turned a blind eye to a great many things over the years. She allowed him to think that she was ignorant of the secret life he kept hidden. She had known of his clandestine comings and goings in the middle of the night. His flimsy excuses for his disappearances and sometimes long absences. The sounds coming from his room late at night when he was supposed to be alone. His strange group of friends and the name they called him instead of the one she'd given him at birth.
And the blood… Sometimes it was someone else's. Sometimes it was his. That was when she worried. He was very, very good at hiding things from her. But she had still known. She trusted him enough to be sure it was nothing illegal or morally wrong. Perhaps one day he would trust in her love enough to tell her the truth.
He had his list of things to do for the party by the time Beth had finished the dishes. Shiori gave Beth a hug. "You are welcome to come visit anytime. You don't have to wait for Shuichi either. I would enjoy your company." "Thank you. I would like that. It was a pleasure to meet you, Shiori san."
Shiori gave her son a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Visit more often. Make sure you take care of yourself. I worry." "I will, Mother. Tell Father and Shuichi hello for me." Beth went for her shoes as Shiori whispered in her son's ear. "I like her. Bring her back, ok?" He smiled at her. He would bet money that she would call him later with the questions she wouldn't ask him in front of Beth.
Shiori waved at them from the door. "Shuichi, bring all your friends to the party. I love you." He waved back. "I love you too, Mother." She was still watching after them when they turned the corner out of sight. "I like your mother. She's sweet." He gave her a rueful smile. "Even if a little too obvious with her attempt at matchmaking?" She giggled. "Didn't you know? It's an unwritten law that children exist for the sole purpose of providing their mothers with grandchildren?" "Really?" She nodded. "Mine is probably worse than yours." "Is that possible?" She snorted. "You have no idea."
It was a short walk back to the Yukimura's shop from his mother's home. The shop wasn't busy, the lunch crowd having long since come and gone. "Can I get you some tea? Or a soda?" Beth asked him, once they were inside. "I'm sorry. No. I have to go. Thank you for spending your day with me."
She grinned. That's the first time a man had ever thanked her for a date. "I loved the park, especially the legend. Thank you for sharing it with me." "You're welcome. Can I call you later in the week?" "Sure. I'd like that." She opened her purse and pulled out her organizer. She took out the pen and wrote on the notepad. She tore the page out and handed it to him. "My cell number."
He folded it and put it in his wallet. He closed his eyes and let out a slow breath. Before she'd put away her organizer, he had seen the business card displayed in the front of it. The card had read: Carter International Ltd. Imports and Exports. Offices in the USA, Japan, and the UK. He was reminded of why he never believed in coincidences.
He cleared his face of expression before she turned back to him. "You're back!" Keiko had been in the kitchen when they arrived. She hurried over. "Mother said you went sightseeing. You should've told me. We could have gone together. Where'd you go?" Beth smiled at her cousin. "We went to Inokashira Park. It was so…" "The park? With all the arcades and shopping malls to see, and you took her to the park? You definitely should have waited for me. I swear, sometimes you are too much of a bookworm, Kurama. Next time…"
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