Tokyo Demons Book 2: Prologue
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Touya watched Ito pace.
The spindly man mumbled under his breath, his fingers twitching as he gripped his wrists. Touya knew Ito did that to keep his hands from shaking. Like someone with Parkinson’s Disease or polio. Someone crippled. Ito paced until his footsteps turned ragged and his angry mumbling released flecks of saliva into the air. He finally looked up, his face so red that Touya wondered, absently, if the man was having a heart attack.
“But what if Honda survives?!” he shouted.
Touya waited a few seconds. When Ito remained, shaking but still upright, Touya let out a breath.
“He won’t survive,” Touya said coolly. “He had three doses of Pitch. The withdrawal will kill him.”
Ito’s bloodshot eyes narrowed. “Are you positive?” he snapped suddenly, gripping Touya’s collar. “He definitely won’t survive?”
Touya covered Ito’s hand with his own gloved palm. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I can’t be completely sure. But the odds aren’t in his favor, Father.”
“I’m not asking about the odds. I’m asking if you’re sure!”
Touya smiled sadly. Ito glared at him, expectant, before releasing Touya in frustration.
“You’ve been unreliable lately,” Ito growled. “It’s not like you, Touya.”
“I think I’m too involved in what’s happening.” Touya shook his head. “It’s throwing off my ability.”
“Do I need to pull you back from the work on the ground?”
“That might help.”
Ito ran fingers through his thinning hair. A kettle started whistling on the nearby stove. He grabbed a potholder, lifted the kettle, and poured the boiling water into a ceramic teapot. Drops splashed on the counter as his hands shook.
“The men on the ground don’t like you, Touya. The enforcers and gangsters.” Ito angrily dropped the kettle back on the stove. “And this incident isn’t helping. They know you spearheaded the project with Honda–so now they also think you’re incompetent.”
Touya smiled coldly. “If you’re taking me off the ground,” he murmured, “then it doesn’t matter what the enforcers think of me.”
“Maybe. And I could structure it as a punishment, which might satisfy their complaints.” Ito paused. “Maybe we could have a public fight. I could slap you in front of the men.”
Touya gently took the teapot from Ito’s twitching hands. He poured the tea into the man’s teacup.
“Whatever helps, Father.”
Ito mumbled under his breath and rubbed his chin.
Ito was calmer now. The throbbing veins beneath his forehead had retreated. The threat of heart failure or stroke, so real a minute before, had faded with Ito’s temper. Touya let out another breath.
So not today, he thought.
Touya took the teacup in both hands. He bowed his head and offered it to Ito.
Ito accepted the teacup, a few of the lines around his mouth softening. He flicked his reddened eyes at Touya’s higher face.
“You’re a good boy,” he murmured. “Even if you utterly failed me on this one.”
Touya bowed his head again. “I’m starting to realize my limitations.”
“Hn. Before this, I could have sworn you were infallible.” Ito blew on his tea, then took a quick sip. “But maybe this is the wake-up call I needed. I can’t rely on you for everything.”
Ito shakily lowered himself onto a kitchen stool. “What should we do with the hacker girl now?” he asked. “Kill her?”
Touya shook his head. “No,” he said. “If we want the men to have any faith in the future of the coercion program, we need to keep her. But I wouldn’t move her from the Motoi building for a while. Until we find Honda’s body, any kind of transport will make us vulnerable.”
“But Honda was in the Motoi building.”
“He only entered and exited once, blindfolded. I’m sure he couldn’t lead anyone there.” Touya flipped a few fingers in the air. “And Motoi has our best security right now.”
Ito mumbled something and sipped at his tea. Touya, recognizing it as a reprieve of precious seconds, turned to the kitchen cabinet and pulled down a saucer. He rested it on the counter.
With his back to Ito, he pressed four fingers–two from each hand–against the countertop. He closed his eyes and dragged the fingers from his right hand across the tile.
The jumbled pictures in his mind aligned. The beating of his heart slowed. For several long, precious seconds, he could control the puzzle pieces in his overcrowded brain.
He had stopped by the Motoi building that morning. The men had sneered at him. Dr. Fujito had taken him aside, calm but direct, to voice her concerns over Kiyoshi Honda’s escape and Shouri Hyatt’s physical instability.
But none of it mattered. Touya had listened with deaf ears, excused himself, and collected the few personal effects he had left in the building.
He didn’t want to lose them when Motoi burned.
Touya opened his eyes. He turned to Ito, offering the saucer with both hands.
“There’s one thing that still bothers me.” Ito took the saucer and rested his cup on it. “Fujito said Honda seemed naïve and softhearted. She was worried we would never get him to pull the trigger on anyone.” He furrowed his brow. “But…well, you were the one who found the body on the roof. The man you left behind to guard him.”
“The one Honda overpowered and disarmed.”
“Yes.” Ito gripped his trembling wrists. “It seemed so…calculated. I’m worried we underestimated him.” He frowned. “Why would he shoot the guard in the leg, take his cell phone, and break his neck? Did he kill the man on purpose just to cover his trail?”
Touya curled his lips. His eyelids drooped as he mentally filed away one nagging loose end.
“It certainly looks like it,” he drawled.