They had been on the road for an hour now. Keiko was driving them along the Bayshore Route and was now halfway along Tokyo prefecture's coastline when Koichi sudden spoke up.
"Onee-chan, where exactly are we going?" Koichi, who was sitting in the back with Hiroki, asked
"You'll see when we get there." Keiko replied, not taking her eyes off the road in front of her
"I hope this is a fun place you're taking us to." said Ryo, and Keiko slipped her hand into her bag and pulled put four tickets and handed them to Ryo. They were tickets to Tokyo Disneyland. "How did you get these? They're supposed to be expensive these days."
"Yuki." Keiko replied "She got them from a colleague at work, and gave them to me when she heard of what's going on in our family now."
"How'd she find out?" Ryo inquired
"Believe me, I didn't tell her, but you know her. When something happens in our family, she's gonna catch wind of it one way or another."
"What're you two talking about up there?" Hiroki inquired, but he was ignored
About a half-hour later, they entered Urayasu, and Tokyo Disneyland quickly came into sight.
"We haven't been here since we were kids." said Hiroki as Keiko parked not far from the main entrance
"Aren't we a little old for this place?" Ryo asked
"You're never too old." said Keiko as she turned the car off "I know of a couple in their seventies that have come here every year since it opened in 1983. Keep in mind," Keiko said, suddenly addressing all three of them "We start seriously training for the Olympics tomorrow, so we're not staying overnight, and we're only exploring one or two areas. So... where we gonna go first?"
In the end, they decided on the World Bazaar first; heading straight into The Disney Gallery. The first things they saw were a bunch of relatively recent exhibits, the youngest of which were only a month old.
Meanwhile, while the Aizawa siblings were reconnecting in Disneyland, Saito was paying a visit to Itaru's condo in Yokohama.
"How did a small-time modeling agent get his hands a place like this?" Saito asked himself outside Itaru's home, room 1994 of a large and lavish condominium building. Saito ringed the bell, but no sound was heard. He ringed it five more times before concluding that, either no one was home, or the doorbell was broken. Saito then knocked, but still heard nothing. Then trying the handle, he found that it was locked, but waved a metal card in front of the lock computer to unlock it. "Good thing he gave me a key." Saito said to himself as he let himself in. After removing his shoes in the foyer, Saito proceeded to the living room. Before he could call out for Itaru, he found Itaru, naked on the couch, upright, kissing a woman, also naked, on top of him. Only a pair of fallen bathrobes covering their waists was present. The pair noticed Saito and broke the lock.
"Oh. Hello." said the woman
"Uuummm... Sorry to interrupt." said Saito, trying desperately not to look at the scene.
"Think nothing of it." said Itaru
"Friend of yours, Itaru-kun?" the woman inquired
"My cousin Saito, Naomi-chan." Itaru answered
"Uh... I'll come back some other time." said Saito, making for the door again
"Oh, please don't leave after coming all this way." said Naomi, now getting off Itaru and putting on her robe.
"Yeah, we kinda just finished when you walked in the room." said Itaru, getting his robe on too
"Io non esattamente bisogno di sapere che, cugino. [I didn't exactly need to know that, cousin.]" Saito in Italian
"You can speak Italian." Itaru remarked as he walked into the kitchen while Naomi relaxed herself on the couch
"As I'm sure Uncle Soji told you."
"Dad tells me a lot of things, Saito-itoko. Good thing I studied most Romance Languages as well." Itaru said as he took out a trio of glasses and a glass bottle filled with amber liquid "I know I gave you a key card, but you could've knocked."
"I knocked and tried the bell six times, but no one answered."
"The doorbell doesn't work, I've been needing to get it fixed for months. Well, no harm done. Scotch?"
"You're no fun." Itaru opened a drawer and took out a large tan envelope "Got something for ya." Saito took the envelope and took a look at the contents. It was a bunch of photos of Keiko in erotic attire that Keiko would never agree to wear. But Saito, knowing Keiko well, knew at a glance that they were fakes "Like 'em?"
"No, I don't. "Saito replied "Itaru-kun, I do drawings and paintings of Keiko almost every other day. You think I can't tell that these are fake. Not to mention Keiko would never agree to wear things like this."
"You're exactly as Itaru-kun described you." Naomi said
"I'm flattered." Saito replied sarcastically before turning back to Itaru "Your wife?"
"(pfft) No, my girlfriend." Itaru replied as he poured the scotch "Though she is special to me. We've been together for three years now, and she moved in with me a couple months ago. But given the history of bad marriages in our family, I'm in no hurry. Though I can't say the same for you." Itaru added with a wink as he picked up two half-full glasses of scotch, then walking back to the living room "So, cousin, what brings you to my humble home on a Sunday?"
"A place like this is anything but humble." Saito replied sitting on the opposite couch while Itaru sat with Naomi, the both of them giggling a bit "Anyway, while Keiko is taking her siblings out for the day for some much-needed bonding, I, having finished my summer report and having nothing to do today, realized that you and I still don't know each other very well."
"No duh. Since we were first introduced we barely say two words to each other every other month."
"Not very close, are you?" Naomi sniggered
"Don't tease him, Naomi-chan." Itaru said, kissing her on the cheek
"Piccioncini. [Lovebirds.]" Saito mumbled to himself
"Like you should talk."
"And what you were doing earlier... it's the middle of the day."
"Again, you should talk." Saito gave a puzzled look "Michiru-chan told me. Besides, it's Sunday. Ooh, and when you said 'Keiko and her siblings,' did that include the thirteen-year-old father?"
"How did you...?"
"Me." Naomi confessed "My full name is Naomi Tsuda. My sister Kana works under your mom at Kamakura General. I was on the phone with her this morning when Kajikawa-san was brought in for treatment of an early-pregnancy complication. Kana put the phone down but forgot to turn it off, so I heard everything. Gomen'nasai."
"Don't worry about it. Just don't spread it around." Saito implored "They're trying to keep it quiet, and the last thing the Aizawas need right before the Olympics is a scandal."
"The two of us already agreed to keep our mouths shut." Itaru assured him
"We'll hold you to that, 'cause I'm going to make sure the Aizawas know you know."
"Fine with us. And speaking of the Olympics... Naomi-chan is a figure-skater. She won bronze at the last Winter Olympics two years ago."
"I was eighteen at the time." said Naomi "And I plan to qualify for the next one too."
"Good for you." Saito complimented before turning to Itaru "Don't impregnate her in the meantime." Both Itaru and Naomi laughed at that
When the two of them calmed down, Itaru looked at Saito again "So I ask again... what brings you here?"
Saito hesitated and sighed before answering "I'd like a personal favor."
"As you know, Keiko and I are getting married. Either sometime this year after the Olympics or next Spring. And, since you're my only close male relative near my age, and I trust you to take care of Keiko when she's modeling... I'd like you to be my best man."
"I'd consider it an honor." Itaru answered immediately
"How could I say no?"
Saito and Itaru both stood up and grasped hands as if they were brothers.
Back at Disneyland:
After going around a few rides and attractions, the Aizawa siblings sat down at a café for lunch.
"I brought enough for everyone." said Keiko as she passed around the lunch boxes. Keiko was about to start when she noticed her brothers giving the food weird looks "What?"
"Is it safe?" Hiroki asked
"What's that supposed to mean?" Keiko asked in an annoyed tone
"Didn't the last person to try your cooking end up in the hospital?" Koichi asked
"You're exaggerating!" Keiko snapped "Okay, it gave Natsumi-san and Miyuki-san diarrhea for a few days, but wasn't that bad."
"Don't pick on her, boys." said Ryo as she took a bite of an omelet "Kei-nee didn't even make this. It tastes like Saito's cooking."
"Thank you, Ryo."
"I was just saying," said Hiroki "trying your cooking is a hazard to one's health. Itadakimasu."
"Otouto." Keiko whimpered
After eating, Hiroki and Ryo went off to buy some souvenirs, while Keiko held Koichi back to talk.
"We need to talk." Keiko told Koichi when the twins were gone
"This is why you took us out today?" said Koichi "To talk with me about my relationship with Sakae-sensei in a better atmosphere."
"Kajikawa-sensei as my future sister-in-law, and mother of my future niece or nephew, is going to take some getting used to, sure. But I've accepted that it's going to happen, I just haven't accepted her. What I wanted to talk about is your relationship with us, your family."
"Did I say something false yesterday?" Koichi asked in a spiteful tone
"Watch your tone, young man." Keiko replied "(sigh) I admit... over the last couple years we've been more concerned with our own lives and careers and lost sight of you. We were a bit selfish, and I'm sorry."
"And you should be."
"Again, your tone. But what you actually said yesterday was, 'all your life you've felt like a shadow'." this comment made Koichi flinch "Admittedly you've never been in the limelight as much as the rest of us. But as for treating you like a shadow, that's not how I remember it." Koichi turned pink and started sweating a bit "And never having a say, deciding everything without you? As I recall you've always had a say. We discussed things together as a family." Koichi turned bright red "And never being allowed within two feet of Yusha...."
Koichi snapped, getting down on the ground and prostrating himself "I EXAGGERATED! I'M SORRY!" Koichi exclaimed, catching the attention of a few passersby
"No need to kneel." Keiko said as she waved the people away "I was just commenting on your storytelling. No special meaning behind it."
"But seriously, Koichi," Keiko gestured for Koichi to get back in his seat "little brother, if you were that stressed out about it, you should've come to us. Or at least to me or Saito if you couldn't talk to our parents. Asked us to meet up and talk or something, instead of relying on a complete stranger. We're not mind readers y'know."
"Don't be. I'm also at fault for not noticing on my own."
"You hardly ever come home, so you couldn't have noticed."
"That's true." Keiko replied, to which they both laughed "And to be honest myself, I was actually a bit jealous of you and Sakae-sensei."
"Jealous?" Koichi inquired
"In part that you were having a kid before I was. Forgive me for sounding conceited, but just as mom said, I always pictured myself being the first among us to have kids."
"That's not conceited at all. Being beaten to parenthood would tick off any elder sibling, especially the oldest."
"Again, true." again both laughed
"What's this?" said Ryo, coming back with Hiroki and two bags of merchandise. "No fair, making up without us."
"How much did you spend?" Keiko asked sternly, looking at the two full bags
"I only bought this, for about three grand." said Hiroki, holding up a small wrapped package the size of a snow globe "Ryo, on the other hand...."
"Ryo Aizawa, I'm telling dad to cut your allowance." said Keiko
Not wanting to fight traffic on the way home, and due to Ryo's excessive expenditure, the siblings called it a day. On the drive back, Koichi also apologized to the twins on his behavior yesterday, for which he was forgiven.
Before actually heading home, Keiko stopped at Higashihama Beach.
What are we doing here?" Ryo asked as they got out of the car
Giving no response, Keiko opened the trunk and pulled out a soccer ball. "How long has it been?" Keiko asked, spinning the ball on her finger.
The Younger Aizawas smiled in response. All four of them removed their shoes and spent the next few hours playing on the beach together.
When they finally returned to the Aizawa house, the found Kakeru, Nana and Saito waiting for them.
"Had a good day, did we?" Nana asked slyly when her children walked in the door "Made up yet?"
The Aizawas and Saito then went to the living room to talk. When they were all seated, Koichi was the first to speak.
"Mom, Dad.... I'm sorry for yesterday." said Koichi "I over exaggerated my frustration, and looked beyond ungrateful. Then suddenly said I would marry Sakae-sensei when I turned eighteen. Please believe me, I never meant to hurt either of you, nor did I mean to get Sensei pregnant."
"(sigh) Look, Koichi, you were right to be a little frustrated and angry." said Nana "I admit, over the last few years, I've been so focused and concerned with playing on the world stage with Keiko and Ryo before I retire, I kinda lost sight of your life. I was selfish, I'm sorry."
"We're sorry too." said Ryo
"For the same reasons." said Hiroki
"Koichi, son, we'll always be there for you. But you can't expect us to notice every little thing, especially when you go where we can't see you." said Kakeru "You need to speak up and talk to us."
Koichi nodded in response
"I talked with Kajikawa-san this morning." said Nana "She really seemed determined. But, you should know, I had to bring her to the hospital."
"What?!" the kids exclaimed
"Is she alright?!" Koichi asked frantically
"She's fine." Saito told them, unexpectedly "My cousin's girlfriend, Naomi Tsuda, is the sister of my mom's subordinate at work, Kana Tsuda. Naomi-san overheard by accident when Tsuda-san forgot to turn off her phone when Kajikawa-san was brought in. They've already sworn to secrecy."
"That's good to know." said Nana before turning back to Koichi "Ushio treated her and she's just fine. But she's not going to have an easy pregnancy." Koichi sighed in relief "That reaction tells me you really do love her."
"Hai. I know it's an unorthodox relationship, but I love her."
"And the look in her eyes told me that it's completely mutual. However, while I don't approve your relationship, Kakeru and I'll give you two a chance."
"I hope you can really man up and take responsibility, because being a parent, let alone being in a relationship, isn't easy." said Kakeru "Sakae-san needs you and she's doesn't seem to be the most emotionally secure person."
"I'm fully prepared to sacrifice everything for her." Koichi replied at once
"No hesitation, huh?" Saito whispered to Keiko "I hope he can back those words up."
"Shut up." Keiko whispered back
At that moment, Koichi's phone rang. It was a text from Sakae asking him to meet her in the park. Koichi excused himself to go meet her, and Keiko and Saito discreetly followed him. Koichi found Sakae sitting on the swings waiting for him. Koichi sat on another swing while Keiko and Saito hid in the bushes behind them.
"This is wrong y'know." Saito whispered to Keiko
"Shut it." Keiko replied
"Sakae-sensei." said Koichi as he sat down next to Sakae "You okay."
"I'm fine, Koichi-kun." Sakae replied "I'm just... not used to being pregnant."
"Mom told me you two talked this morning, and took you to the hospital."
"I assure you, I'm okay. I'm just... not going to have an easy pregnancy."
"I know what we told my family yesterday, but still, I'm sorry for putting you through this."
"Now, now, now, we said we'd have no regrets, that we'd get through this together."
"I know! And I'm resolved to do what I must, but I don't know what to do."
"And you think I do? I'll tell you this though, I've decided to quit Kama Middle." Sakae told Koichi
"What? Won't that just confirm the rumors to everybody?" Koichi asked
"I'll make up some story. Principal Ariyoshi already agreed to help. My Unemployment Insurance should cover me until I give birth. After that..."
"I'm going to quit school and work too."
"No, you're not."
"But we agreed-"
"I know what we agreed, but having you abandoning your education and the soccer you love so much is not what I want. Immoral as it is, I love you, and it's because I love you that I don't want you to sacrifice your potential. It's too much of a waste."
"When did you get so sure of yourself all of a sudden?" Koichi inquired
"Let's just say, your mother talked it into me. Huh?"
"What? What happened?" Sakae took Koichi's hand, lifted her shirt and placed his hand on her stomach. Koichi felt something squirm beneath Sakae's skin "Is that...?"
"It moved. It's our baby. The proof of our love is in my belly. We will get through this, our way. And we'll make your parents congratulate us too."
"Those two actually make a good couple." Keiko thought "How will Koichi prepare for fatherhood though?"
Keiko heard a faint clicking noise and heard a soft rustling.
A minute later, a paparazzi photographer was stalking away, seemingly unnoticed.
"So Nana Aizawa's youngest son is about to have a kid with his homeroom teacher." the Reporter said to himself as he walked down the sidewalk, looking over the pictures he took "I wonder how it all started."
"Hey! Paparazzi!" Keiko yelled, running up to the man and hitting him in the face, only to recognize him "You again? You've got some nerve, Ogihara-san."
"And your punches have gotten harder, Keiko-kun."
"Keiko, you know this guy?" Saito asked, catching up to them
"Hidekazu Ogihara-san's a paparazzi who's stalked me before. Not that's ever been able to get any dirt on me. But now it looks like he's after my brother."
"I simply got bored with you, Keiko-kun." said Ogihara "But I certainly wasn't expecting to get a scoop like that tailing your younger brother. A young Aizawa in an illicit relationship with his teacher and expecting a kid. Unbelievable. And don't even think of smashing my camera, I already set it to send the images to my computer at home."
"(sigh) So how much is it gonna take to keep your mouth shut." Keiko asked "The Olympics start later this month, and the last thing my family needs now is a scandal."
"Don't worry. I'll hold off submitting these until the Games are over."
"No. I mean to keep you quiet, period."
"You know as well as I do that it wont stay under wraps forever. Even if I kept quiet, the very fact that the kid exists is gonna break the dam itself when it's born."
"Can you at least hold your tongue until then? I don't want Sakae-san to be seen as a sex offender."
"It'll cost you."
Keiko sighed, took out her wallet and pulled out 2 ¥10,000 notes "Twenty grand?"
"Pleasure doing business with you." said Ogihara, taking the money "Oh, before I go, I should tell you that I'm not the only guy stalking the Aizawas."
"I'm afraid that you are the only one. And besides, this is the last time you will ever lay your fingers on money that comes from anyone in my family." said Keiko
"What are you talking about? I'll keep making a living on you people."
"I don't think I have been clear enough: your scheme of blackmailing and extortion is finished." said Keiko before she turned her gaze to a different location "Right, Detective?"
"Right you are." said a feminine voice that revealed to be Nao Goto's as she emerged from the bushes "Just as you said, it's over."
"Who are you?" asked Ogihara
"Detective Nao Goto, Kamakura PD."
"What can a cop do against me? I'm doing my job, well in my legal right, and I can do whatever I want with my pictures."
"Are these your pictures?" said Nao before she set something up with her own personal digital assistant (PDA) "Take a look at them."
"What the hell?" exclaimed Ogihara as he saw all the pictures he took. Among those were pictures of the Aizawas and several other celebrities in more or less compromising situations "How did you get the pictures?"
"Let's say there's a friend of mine who goes by many aliases depending on the job. That person does investigation work for me, especially when it involves digital and internet material. After our services received word of a number of celebrities getting stalked and blackmailed after they got in the Kamakura area, my friend followed the trails all the way to your computer, and just ripped you off of all the pictures you have."
"Hacking me? You dirty piece of..."
"If stalking and extortion are also part of your job, then you're in real trouble regardless, pal. Unless you live in the wrong decade, anti-stalking laws got tougher many years ago, and you can serve time in jail if you're arrested. Last but not least, extorting money from someone can get you imprisoned for a maximum of 10 years under article 249. I recorded the conversation you just had seconds ago with Keiko Aizawa, and sent it to my friend as evidence. The only thing keeping them from sending it to HQ right now is me."
"What do you want from me?"
"First, you return the whole ¥20,000 you took from the young lady here. Second, you stop stalking people in this peaceful town. Third and last, hit the bricks and find yourself a different job, or at least go about it in a more honorable way. If you ever reject this only chance I give you to escape with your dignity intact, I will know it and you will end up behind bars." said Nao with a very serious look in her eyes
"Detective, I... You can't just..."
"You are dismissed, Ogihara-san. Do as I say and beat it!" said Nao very firmly before Ogihara promptly returned the money to Keiko and left in a rush
"I hate him, but that's one less distraction to endure now." said Keiko
"This problem is solved. For now. However, I must say that I don't approve your younger brother's situation."
"Umm... You're not gonna report Sakae-san, are you?" Keiko asked
Nao smiled and said "I have more than enough respect for the Aizawas to hold my tongue, and I know you don't want your brother's love to be seen as a sex offender. But... this is the only time I can protect them, and not if he lacks further discretion in the future."
"He will make sure to be more careful from now on."
"I hope so. Since Koichi-kun is of Japan's age-of-consent, Kajikawa-san can't be charged with Statutory Rape. But due to the circumstances, along with other laws, I could still get in trouble for not reporting it even though I knew about it. The same can be said for everyone who knows."
"Koichi and the rest of us will be careful. Arigato, Goto-san."
"On this, have a good evening, kiddos." Nao then left
"You think that parasite won't come back for more?" Saito asked Keiko
"After that intervention, I don't think we will see his face anytime soon."
The Aizawa family had reconciled and come to an understanding and Koichi was prepared to face his future as a parent. Meanwhile, for the elder Aizawas, the Olympics were fast approaching.