Chapter Eighteen: Trace:

In 1989, Daisuke first went to Tokyo. It all started during the spring semester. The teacher called him back after class.

“Kimoto-san,” he spoke up. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” The young man paused and turned around.

“Yes?” he asked.

His boss, Ota-sensei, pushed up his glasses. “I am heading out to Tokyo for a summer conference and I would like for you to come with me.” Daisuke looked at him with big eyes.

“What? Are you serious?” he asked.

“Of course,” his mentor replied.

“When?” Daisuke asked.

“In July,” Ota-sensei answered. The young man stood up straight.

“Yes sir!” he said in one breath. “I won’t disappoint you!” His boss chuckled at his response.

“There, there,” he remarked. “No need to be so serious all the time.” Daisuke had to force himself to calm down.

“Yes sir,” he said with a bow. The man turned and walked out the door.

By July, Anna watched Daisuke as he packed up his suitcase.

“Where are you going, Papa?” she asked.

“I’m going to Tokyo, dear,” he replied as he snapped his suitcase shut.

“Tokyo?” she asked.

“Yep,” he replied. “I’m going to the big city throughout this summer.”

“How long will you be gone?” she asked.

“I’ll back on breaks,” Daisuke replied. “I’ll even bring you little souvenirs.” The little girl tilted her head at him.

“Souvenirs?” she asked.

“Little gifts for when you go on vacations and things like that,” Daisuke explained. “But that’s only if you are a good little girl while I’m gone.” Anna smiled and nodded her head.

“Okay!” she cheered aloud. In the morning, Daisuke gave her a little kiss on the cheek.

“You be good while I’m gone, okay?” he asked.

“Yes!” his daughter replied. Daisuke smiled before turning his attention to Kato.

“You remember everything that I told you right?” he asked.

“Of course,” the old man answered. Daisuke breathed out rather excited.

“Okay then,” he said. “I’m off now.”

“Take care,” Kato said.

“Bye-bye!” Anna spoke as she waved her father off. Daisuke turned and headed down the road to the bus stop. Ota-sensei greeted him at the community college.

“You ready to go?” he asked.

“Yes sir,” Daisuke replied as he bowed his head. The two men got into the older man’s car and they drove off to Tokyo. The first day blew the young man away. Daisuke was used to the urban part of Kobe, but that was nothing compared to how massive Tokyo was.

“Wow!” he gasped. His mentor beside of him chuckled.

“Yes, Kimoto-san,” he replied. “This is Tokyo at its prime.” The younger man turned to him with big eyes.

“My daughter would love to see this,” he said. Ota-sensei nodded at him with a huge grin on his face.

“Maybe sometime later, I can show you around,” he bragged. “This is my hometown after all.”

“Wait,” Daisuke said. “You’re from Tokyo?”

“That’s right,” his boss said. “Pure-blooded!”

“Then, why did you move to Kobe?” he asked.

“I fell in love,” the older man replied with nostalgia in his eyes. Daisuke gave him a puzzled look.

“Your wife?” he asked.

“Correct,” Ota-sensei answered. “I’ll tell you about that some other time, but right now we have to go register at the campus.”

Daisuke nodded as he went into work mode. “Yes sir,” he said back. He followed him up to Tokyo University’s main building. Daisuke did his best to pay attention and leave a good impression. Afterwards, Ota-sensei nudged him on the arm.

“Come on,” he said. “We have to go check into the hotel.”

“Yes sir,” Daisuke said with a nod. The older man led him out of the gymnasium back out to the parking lot. The men checked into Royal Park Hotel. Daisuke’s jaw practically dropped at the sight of the building.

“Whoa!” he whispered.

“You like it?” Ota-sensei asked. “They just opened it this year.” All the younger man could do was nod up and down. The professor had to walk his assistant into the building. Daisuke regained his senses once the checking in was complete.

“How are we supposed to afford this?” he whispered as they walked down the hall to their room.

“The school’s handling it,” Ota-sensei said without a single thought. Daisuke’s face went flat at that reply.

“Oh,” he said. “Is that right?”

“Of course,” he said. “Once we get out luggage into the room, we’ll go out for dinner and a little entertainment on the town with the other professors.” Daisuke gave him a big blank look.

“You sure that’s okay?” he asked. Ota-sensei smacked him on the back.

“Come on!” he said. “Live a little!”

“Ow,” the younger man murmured as he moved his shoulders around in a circle. The men went out to dinner with the other professors and teaching assistants to a steak house. Due to his lack of socialization experience, Daisuke just kept to himself over his meal the whole time.

“Come on, Kimoto-san!” one of the drunken professors said, leaning over him, “Come out with us to the clubs tonight!” Daisuke shook his head as he pushed him off.

“No thanks,” he said. “It’s not really my thing. I’m just going to go back to my room.” The professor pouted at him.

“Aw, you sure?” he slurred out.

“Yes,” Daisuke replied, “Excuse me.” He bowed, paid for his portion of the bill, and quietly left the restaurant. Once he back to the hotel, Daisuke changed for bed, watched a little TV, and went to bed. And yet even after such an eventful and a peaceful day for his mind, he was thrusted back into the darkness he once ran away from. This is a darkness that still haunts his dreams.

July 7th, 1979.

A younger Daisuke sat on the back porch of his original home he once lived in staring at the night sky above him. He let his mind wonder off elsewhere. Kirika came up from behind him and playfully covered his eyes. Her older brother could help, but smile.

“Yes, Kirika-chan?” he asked. His baby sister released his eyes and giggled.

“How did you know it was me?” she asked. Daisuke gave her a little shrug.

“Just a guess,” he answered. His sister pouted at his response.

“A guess?” she asked.

“That’s right,” he replied nodding.

“That’s not fun!”

Her brother put up his hands. “Sorry.” She hit him on the back hard.

“Ow!” he complained. “No hitting, remember?”

The little girl gave him an innocent look. “Okay.”

“Now say you’re sorry,” he said. The little girl sighed.

“Alright,” she said. “I’m sorry.” Daisuke gave her a little smile.

“Sit by me and look at stars,” he told her.

“Okay,” Kirika replied. Daisuke moved aside to let her sit down. She looked up at the vast sky above them.

“Aren’t they beautiful?” her brother asked.

“Yes,” she replied. He pointed above them.

“See that one there?” the boy asked. “That’s called the North star on the Little Dipper.”

“The North Star?” his baby sister asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “If you get lost, just look up and it will guide you head.”

She looked at him with wide eyes. “Really?”

“Of course,” he told her. Kirika leaned her head on his shoulder. Her brother looked rather puzzled.

“Kirika-chan?” he asked. She looked at him with big worried eyes.

“Don’t ever leave me,” she pleaded. Her brother gave her a funny look.

“What are you talking about?” he asked.

“Please?” she asked. The boy nodded at her uneasily.

“Okay…” he said. Daisuke began to think that Haruka did something her and Yumiko again. Why does she hate them so much? His attention turned back to Kirika staring up at him.

"Promise me we will stay together forever, big brother,” she whispered.

He smiled and took her tiny hand, "I promise."

Present Day

Daisuke rolled over in his bed uneasily and suddenly shot his eyes open. It hurt that he could never keep that promise. Those memories still would not leave him. He clenched his fists under the sheets with tears in his eyes.

Yumiko-chan… Kirika-chan… The old scars in his hearts refused to heal.