Downtown Tokyo, around midnight.
Takashi Kimura shook his head as he walked out from a bar. Although he was off duty now, seeing the men running around in suits made him want to throw his uniform back on to stop them.
But he didn't. Instead, he stuck his hands into the pockets of his gray coat and stared up at the sky, letting out a long sigh.
The night was illuminated by the neon lights of Tokyo's nightscape, and the dark sky was dotted with twinkling stars. Puffs of mist from Takashi's breath obscured his vision a bit, but it didn't cover the beautiful starry expanse above.
"If only the city was that beautiful." Takashi muttered and lowered his gaze.
There were foreigners and young ones walking about, completely unaware of everything else going on. But to those in the know, it was clear to see that something was afoot. The delicate balance that had been obtained after a mountain of corpses and rivers of blood was being tipped.
And neither Takashi nor anyone else in the force knew why.
"Wish I had a smoke right now..." Takashi muttered. The few drinks he had after getting off duty helped, but a cigarette would have been great.
Except he couldn't afford to leave Chihiro alone, so he didn't dare risk it.
Takashi sighed and then walked to the edge of the sidewalk, hailing a taxi.
The first few passed Takashi by, but then a dark blue taxi cab pulled up to the curb.
Takashi got in the back, nodding his head at the driver. "Thanks for stopping."
"Hn." The driver nodded and then waited.
Takashi got settled and said, "It's a bit far, but would you take me to Kichijoji? I'll be sure to give a good tip."
The driver nodded again and then started driving off.
Takashi sighed and then massaged his head.
Maybe he shouldn't have had so many drinks. He'd still have to get up early again tomorrow to see Chihiro off and then head back to his patrols...
Dammit. And there were those reports he had to read too. Something about a group of girls reporting men that were exploiting them and making allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct against politicians and other powerful figures.
"I'm almost retired. Why are they making an old guy like me doing all the grunt work?" Takashi muttered.
He thought that he'd have gotten away from all of that by turning from a detective to just a normal officer, but it seemed like he couldn't escape paperwork that easily.
The taxi driver glanced back in the mirror and then said, "Long day?"
"Long week." Takashi leaned back in his chair, groaning. "But it's nothing you need to worry about. Just an old man ranting."
Takashi sighed and stared out the window, watching the passing lights. For the most part, it was a normal evening. But like before, there were people moving that weren't supposed to.
Shady men in suits and concealed weapons. A few businesses quietly closing and turning off the lights. Karaoke bars, restaurants, and some clubs.
Takashi knew the area well, so he could also tell what that meant. And that was even more irritatingly confusing. The businesses and men going around weren't just Seiryuu or Torabu. They were both.
"...Is there going to be another war?" Takashi muttered.
It had been a balance for a long time now. That demonic man had stepped away and let the Seiryuu do whatever they wanted. The police were terrified of that person, so they were kept in check, only doing surface level prevention and calls. The only reason why it hadn't devolved into a complete city of sin were the Torabu stepping in and drawing a line.
But even then, that line was one drawn in sand rather than written in stone. The 'tiger' leading the group was just paper against the demon that ruled the 'dragons.' So while there was relative peace, more than a few things fell into the dark.
Takashi hated it. But he was just one man. What could he do when the higher-ups turned a blind eye due to fear and even the allies they had refused to step forward? Not only that, but what could he do when his old friends and legends had failed?
"You seem troubled." A low and suave voice.
Takashi glanced at the taxi driver and waved his hand. "It's complicated."
At that time, Takashi's phone vibrated. He frowned and pulled it out.
A message from Chihiro. His daughter said that she was going to sleep now and for Takashi to unlock the door himself.
Remembering that sent a pang of guilt in Takashi's heart.
Right. He had promised to come back home early to have dinner with her, but instead, he had been dragged into meetings and lost track of time.
Takashi let out a deep sigh and leaned his head back against the headrest, closing his eyes to try and relax. But the throbbing headache from the alcohol mixed with the stress didn't help.
There was that problem too... Even if he did start moving, all of the parties knew who he was. And they also knew about Chihiro.
Though he wanted to change things, he couldn't without risking his daughter getting into trouble. Not only that, but if something happened to him...
Well, he could probably get help from Kai or Sakura in that case. But considering how those two were trying their best to get away from their past and live a normal life, he couldn't get them wrapped up in it.
So then... did he just have to do nothing? Just sit and watch as the city ran crimson with blood and people died every day again?
Takashi's eyes snapped open and then he glared at the taxi driver. "Something funny?"
"Yes." The taxi driver nodded, a faint smile on his face.
Takashi leaned forward and frowned. "Well, you wouldn't be laughing if you knew what was going on beneath your nose. Civilians like you have the luxury of going about your day without worry, but people like me..."
Takashi paused, realizing that he was getting riled up. With a sigh, he leaned back. "...Never mind. Sorry." He massaged his head and said, "Must've had one too many drinks."
"I don't mind. It's good to see that your sense of justice hasn't changed, Taka."
"Justice, huh?" Takashi muttered. "Some justice if I can't do any-" He froze, suddenly realizing what the taxi driver had called him. Then he leaned forward, looking into the rearview mirror to see the driver's face.
The man was wearing a professional outfit. A white dress shirt with a black vest over it, paired with a red tie. But strangely, though it was night time, he was wearing sunglasses, obscuring his face.
Takashi narrowed his eyes, forcing away the haziness from the alcohol to focus.
Familiar. Even with the sunglasses, the man seemed familiar.
But that was impossible. After all, that person had died a long time ago and he had confirmed the corpse.
The driver glanced in the rearview mirror and said, "Is something the matter?"
Takashi shook his head and leaned back. "Sorry. You just reminded me of an old friend."
"Is that so?"
Takashi nodded, but he massaged his head. "I must have drunk too much if I thought you were him though..."
"Mm. I understand. You remind me of an old friend as well."
A traffic light up ahead turned red. With that, the driver pulled the car to a stop.
Takashi frowned at the silence and then said, "Hey. Do you mind putting on some music?"
"Hn." The driver reached out and turned on the radio.
It was an old and nostalgic song. One that Takashi remembered hearing a lot in the past at the karaoke bar with his friend. A song that guy used to sing all the time because of the sworn brother he couldn't dissuade.
Hearing that song play on the stereo got Takashi's attention.
Once was chance. Twice was coincidence. But three times...
And come to think of it... Didn't that guy used to part-time as a taxi driver?
Takashi leaned forward again, staring at the man in the mirror.
The man stared back, a faint smile on his face.
Takashi narrowed his eyes and carefully said, "It's pretty strange to be wearing shades this late at night."
"Heh. Guess I don't need them anymore then." Saying that, the driver took off the shades.
Seeing the man's face in full, Takashi froze.
The light up ahead turned green and the man started driving again. As he did, he glanced back at Takashi and said, "It's been a while, Taka."
"Kiri...? Kazuya Kiri? But..." Takashi leaned back and closed his eyes, wracking his mind. "You... You died."
He could still remember it. The brutal sight of his friend's body on the ground. No, 'most' of his friend's body. After all, that demon had taken a 'trophy' like the olden days, laughing about it afterwards to all that asked.
And Takashi had seen it afterwards.
So he was sure.
His memories weren't wrong.
Takashi opened his eyes, carefully staring at Kiri.
"You have questions."
Takashi nodded. "Damned straight I do."
"Hn. I'll explain on the way. It's a long story..."