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He sat in his chair, leaning back into the plush padding. His fingers steepled together. His office quiet. He didn’t stare at anything in particular, his mind running. He had been replaying the dream he had had over and over in his mind. That was the only thing keeping him going. If he had to run for his life he would. This time, Iwase Eri would know all that she had done to him was always meant to return to her. He felt a slow smile come to his face. This time he would win.
“What is it?”
“It is your fiancee.”
“I do not wish to see her.”
“She has brought lunch sir.”
“She can eat it alone.”
“Yes sir.” The voice of the woman left his door and he closed his eyes. Soon, he would be packing. He had opened an sector of his firm in New York, after years of planning. For now, he had sent a representative to see to the affairs there while he tied up loose ends here in Japan. He had chosen New York City as his next place to branch out. Yes, the city who had produced the woman meant to be beside him. It had been so long but he was coming to put her in her rightful place, on her throne next to him. He remembered long ago when he had asked her where she lived. Brooklyn. Brooklyn, New York. He didn’t know that that little bit of information she had shared with him would come in handy. She was there. And if she wasn’t, he would search until he found her.
For now, he would take Kiko. Not because of anything he personally wanted. Or perhaps so. He had a plan for her as well. Everyone who had done him wrong. He wanted to knock them all out with one blow. He stood and opened his suit jacket. He was going to go visit his mother today. She had been in the hospital for quite some time now and it wasn’t looking as though she was getting any better.It was time. He left the office building for the hospital.
“Hiroto,” He stepped into the room and set eyes on his mother who laid in bed. She didn’t look powerful anymore. She looked frail and sickly. He kept a chilly expression on his face as he grew closer.
“Mother. You don’t look so good.” She pursed her thin lips.
“And here I thought you were coming to see me out of concern.” He didn’t respond.
“I’m sure you’re loving this. Finally, the old bat has been reduced to a sickly mess. Finally she has gotten what she has deserved. That is what you are thinking.”
“On the contrary, I do not wish for your death Mother. I’ve desired your death all of my life. But now, perhaps I have aged so much I do not want it anymore.” She smirked.
“How kind of you.” He smirked a little, the action making her blink.
“I came here to give you a message.”
“A message you say?”
“Yes.” He grew closer until he stood at her bedside. He took her small hand in his and pressed it to his cheek.
“You’ve wasted your life. You’ve let your greed and evil poison you and everyone around you. But Mother, you could have lived a life where the only son you conceived would have loved you. I must admit, even now… it is the bond to your womb that bring emotions. I would have loved you with my whole being. I would have taken care of you. I would have given you what you wanted most and you could have lived the rest of your life, you and father, in happiness.” He opened his eyes to look upon his mother, whose eyes had grown misty.
“Death for you would be too easy. It would be too simple. Such a reward. To claim you quick and painless.” He sighed and pressed a kiss to her hand.
“Why are you talking like this?” She asked him, tears falling down her thin gaunt cheeks. He placed her hand back on her stomach and leaned down to press his lips against her ear.
“I am here to announce to you this: You no longer have control over me. I have shattered the chains that you’ve used to hold me prisoner for 28 years of my life. When I walk out of this room, I shall no longer be your slave. In this moment, I break even the ties to the womb you have over me. They will influence me no longer.” Her small body had begun to tremble.
“I am going to retrieve what I gave up. I hope you haven’t forgotten her. I’m going to leave and I’m going to get her.”
“No…not…not her…” He smiled against her ear.
“I let her go because of you. But unlike you, I refuse to live the rest of my life in regret, pain and misery. I’m going to her. I’m going to bring her back where she belongs. And… the next time you see her… she shall have the name Iwase.” His mother began to cry and push against him with her thin fingers.
“No! I’ll die before that happens…”
“No you won’t.” He lifted and softly caressed her cheek.
“I’m going to make sure you live. I want you to live to see my freedom. My happiness, something you tried so hard to strangle from me. I want you to be there to see her swell in pregnancy, I want you to witness the child with our blood grow big within her. I want you to be there to see that child be born. A child who looks like me. And her. With the name Iwase behind it.” She cried loudly now, her hands weakly pressed against his chest.
“You’re cruel… so cruel Hiroto…” He pressed his lips against her forehead.
“I’m not cruel. I’ve simply had enough. That’s all Mother. You’ve taught me how to play this game and now I’m just making my move. You’ve brought this to yourself. Whatever you do now is all on you.” He sighed and stood up.
“It is up to me to restore our family name. And I shall do that.” He turned his back to her.
“I am going to make sure you do nothing to harm yourself in my absence. You’ll be taken care of by the best doctors in this country. You’ll get well. I’ll make sure of that. For now, rest. And do eat when the nurses come Mother. I can’t have you waste away.” He began to walk away from her and there appeared a sudden light in the hallway. He stepped into it and felt a warmth take hold of him. He felt as though his very spirit was lifting and a peace he’d never experienced before washed over him. It was finished. It was done. Now, now he was free.
The night was chilly, a sign that fall was approaching. The sky was clear and the stars shined brightly. He had traveled to visit his father who now lived by himself in his mother’s old house in Nara. He too had recently been taken by illness which was why he had stepped up to the plate and taken over his business. He wasn’t sure when he would return to his full health but he hoped it was soon. He took off his shoes and socks, not minding the crisp air that rushed to meet his bare toes. Smiling, he stepped on the engawa and softly placed his hand on the aged wood. His grandmother’s spirit was still very much engrained in the soil and wood of this place. Though she had been dead long ago, he felt comfort here. Quite a fitting place to raise a family. Yes, he wanted to bring Rae back to the place where it had started. The place where he had first been loved. He wanted to continue that love and let it be worked into the foundation of this home. He would someday sit on this very engawa and watch his children play and run in the wild grass. Someday, on nights like this, he would let Rae’s skin touch the grass and plant the seed that grew within his heart into her and let it blossom inside her. She would be the gardner and all around them, beautiful flowers would grow. He would make sure she had enough water and together they would nourish them. Sighing, he smiled to himself and let his hand fall from the wooden doorway.
“In here.” He stepped into the room to find his father sitting on a tatami mat. He was watching an old program on a small television set.
“It’s time isn’t it?” His father asked, turning to look at him.
“I’m ready.” He came to sit in front of his father, blocking the television.
“I knew you would come. You have finally let your wings out and soon you will fly.” He remained quiet as his father continued.
“I have so many regrets my son. The biggest one being that I was not the father I should have been. I left you alone in this world to figure it out yourself and foolishly hurt you time and time again. I have been surpassed by my son. For that I have some fatherly pride. But now I am a weak old man. With nothing to show for all my efforts.” He looked into his father’s eyes.
“At one point in my life, I thought that I would hate you forever. You, Iwase Shou, the one who made my life a living hell. But, I’ve come to realize that to set myself free from you, I have to let what you’ve done to me go. It has made me angry. To think I have to let it go. But it is not for you or for your satisfaction. If I am to be a better man and father for mine, I cannot hold on to the past. What you and my mother have done to me I will not allow it to ever touch my children. It shall die with me.” His father smiled sadly.
“I trust the future generations of Iwase men and women with you my son. You have made me proud.”
“I’ve done what you’ve asked. Of course you’ve been proud. I wonder if you will share that sentiment when I tell you that it stops tonight.” His father brought his eyes to his.
“Your games will stop. I will no longer serve as a fool for you to play. You’ve let yourself be a puppet for your own wife and therefore have forced me to follow you. I’ve cut the strings.” The man in front of him dared to smile, his teeth showing. He blinked in shock.
“That makes me even more proud to call you my son. You’ve gotten the courage to do what I could not do.”
“Indeed.” His father sighed and sat up straighter.
“Go to her Hiroto.” He looked outside at the stars, their light pure.
“I’ve forced you to leave her alone. I’ve made you break her heart. I am sorry Hiroto. If you never forgive me I will understand. Forget about this old man and go get your woman.”
“That is something I’ve taken upon myself. I should have fought for her. It is I that did not deserve her.”
“But now you are deserving. You are fighting for her now and it is to the death. Any man would respect that.”
“Hiroto, it was wrong of me to hold the honor of your grandmother in front of you. All to appease your mother. Look where it has gotten us. Sick, old and miserable.” His father for the first time showed another emotion other than sadness. Irritation. Anger.
“Money was never the issue. You would have made a life with that girl regardless and you would have been happy. I knew that. But the one thing I knew I could use to keep you here was your grandmother. You’ve spent ten years with a woman you don’t love all for the sake of trying to maintain the honor your grandmother died for.” He tightened his jaw.
“I believe your grandmother would be proud of the man you have grown into. You must live your life now not for her. Me or your mother. Now you must live your life free from us all. She is gone son. And we shall leave you someday.” He felt tears slid down his cheeks and turned away from his father.
“Make peace with her death Hiroto. Let her go too.”
“You’re right.” He felt his father gently pat his back behind him.
“I think I want to be free. What that girl shared with you, the freedom you felt.. now I want to feel it too.” He turned his head to look at his father.
“You do not have to continue to live in the shadow of your wife. You still have time Father.”
“Do I really?” He leaned back and laid his head on his father’s shoulder.
“You have lots of life yet to live Father. You have accepted death but it is not time.”
“How can I fight now when I am so old?”
“If it is something you truly want, it does not matter.” His father sighed.
“You are a good son. A son I haven’t deserved.”
“You have been the only one who has accepted Ebere. And because of that… I think I can accept you.” His father was quiet.
“If there is any hope for us Father I want it to be now. I will only give you one chance.”
“I’ll take it.”
“If I ask you to do something with this chance, will you?”
“What is it?”
“Turn over all ownership and rights of the Iwase estate to me.”
“All is written in her handwriting.”
“You are the patriarch of this family. Your authority outweighs hers.” There was silence before,
“I’ll do it. Eri finally needs to be put in her place.”
“I give you my consent Hiroto.” He lifted from his father.
“Thank you.” He smiled softly, the action bringing tears to his father’s eyes.
“You haven’t smiled at me since… you were a boy.”
“Let there be more to come.” He reached out and wiped the tears from his father’s cheeks.
“Don’t cry anymore Father.”
“You’re such a kind boy… I…I almost destroyed your tender heart.”
“Take the time needed to forgive yourself…when you do I shall be here.” He bowed before his father, forehead pressed against the tatami. The cries of his father drifted into his heart and he tightened his jaw. A shaky hand pressed against his back.
“Lift up son. Please.” He did and his father smiled.
“I will be here when you return. Go get your woman.” He nodded and stood.
“I will see you in a little while.” He stepped onto the engawa and sighed. His father was the only one he could forgive, even slightly at the moment. And he was at peace with it. With him. He couldn’t promise that they would be the best father and son. But he promised to try to provide his father with a good life. His apology was from his very spirit and he was regretful. He had to find time to forgive himself for what he did to him and so many others. In heart, though his father had been weak, he really was a tender man. A man who had not been fit to rule the Iwase throne. That was fine. He was going to take his place and rule with a just hand. It might take time for things to be fully healed between him and his father but time that he would allow.
“I want you to pull everything you have on Iwase Eri.”
“I’m not sure I can sir.”
“You can. And you will.”
“Pull everything. I want it all.”
“Are you sure you want to embark on this road sir?”
“Do what I’ve asked.”
“Of course sir.”
He waited that night, late as it was. Waited for them to arrive.
“Uncle Hiro!” As soon as he heard her, he smiled. A young girl ran up to him and hugged him.
“Uncle Hiro, it’s been so long.” He smiled and lifted the girl into his arms.
“You’ve gotten so big hime.” The girl grinned against his cheek.
“You look happy Uncle Hiro.”
“Mm. Is it because my birthday is coming up?” He laughed.
“Ah, it is isn’t it? Soon!”
“Yes did you forget?”
“I would never forget hime.” She pouted cutely.
“Mama told me you are gonna go to America for a while.”
“Yes. I am.”
“I don’t want you to go! Stay here with me!”
“Ah, I have to go. But I won’t be there too long.”
“Why are you going?” He smiled softly and kissed her cheeks just as he’d do when she was a toddler.
“I am going to get someone.”
“Is it Rae-chan?” He grinned.
“Mama and I miss her. Will you bring her back?”
“That’s the plan.”
“I don’t remember much but I remember her warmth. She was a nice lady. Mama told me all about her.”
“Yes and she loved you just as much as your mama. And me.”
“Well I want her to come back. I’ll let you go this time but only cause you’re going to get her.” He laughed again and sighed against her cheek.
“Can I trust you to be a good girl while I am gone hime?”
“Mama’s coming.” He turned to see Hana walk up slowly. He put Hisae down and smiled.
“Hi.” She placed her hands on her hips, grinning to herself.
“Hello to you too. Where have you been Hiro-chan?” He sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, chuckling.
“Ah, I’ve been very busy Hana-chan. I apologize for not coming to see you or hime in a while.” Hana snort.
“More like months.”
“I’m sorry.” She sighed.
“So you’re going to get Rae-chan?”
“How did you-”
“Word travels fast. You know that.”
“It’s about time Hiro-chan. I’ve been waiting for you to go get her.”
“Yes. I have to before it’s too late.”
“It’s not too late. Something tells me she would have been waiting for you.”
“It’s not right to keep her waiting so long.”
“When will we see her?”
“I do not know.”
“I see. Well, however long it takes until she returns to us, I’ll be patient.” He nodded. She looked up at him, eying him from head to toe.
“You’ve grown up into a fine man Hiro-chan. I’m proud of you.” He felt his cheeks grow warm.
“You’ve made me very proud. Now, go and bring our Rae back to us. I’m counting on you to make things right.”
“Of course.” He hugged her and sighed against the top of her head.
“Thank you Hana-chan.”
“Thank you. Because of you and Rae-chan I finally stood my ground against my daughter’s father. I finally took back my life. You’re the one who deserves the thanks.” He kissed the top of her head.
“I would do it again Hana. It is nothing.” She sniffed against his chest and smiled up at him.
“I’ll see you soon?”
“Okay.” He kissed her cheek and pulled away from her.
“Come give Uncle Hiro a hug hime.” She ran giggling into his arms. He laughed and lifted her up.
“You’ll come back?”
“I’ll miss you Uncle Hiro.”
“I’ll miss you too. I tell you what…Would you like to visit me while I am there?” Her eyes grew wide.
“In New York?”
“Mm.” She squealed and hugged him tighter.
“Yes! Very much!” He coughed, drawing a laugh from Hana.
“Hisae, darling you’ll strangle him…” She let go with a blush.
“It’s fine. I will send for you before the American Holiday Thanksgiving. Is that okay? We can spend that Holiday together.”
“Okay.” He put her down.
“You’ve dared to be bold once again. Now you’ve stood on your own two feet. So tall nothing can break you this time.” Hana said with a teary smile. Indeed, he had. And He wouldn’t let anything get in his way. It was time to get the love of his life.
A/N: Woo! A lot has happened in this chapter! I love the ROAR Roto has and he's taking no prisoners. Finally, he's becoming a warrior man again. That spirit inside of him has reappeared and it don't look like it's goin anywhere. HALLELUJAH! He's roaring like a lion y'all and it's FIERCE! I love his interaction with his mother. First, YASSSSSS SHUT HER DOWN. Like the conversations with both of his parents are so powerful to me. Different reactions and interactions. Honestly, I was going to have him treat his father the same way (not to say he doesn't deserve it) but I think his father has a better chance of actually finding favor with Roto than his mother. I think it is so important to have a relationship with your father. I didn't get a chance to personally and I don't want Roto to find his father almost at the end of his life and not at least try. Shou is getting older and while he's only (roughly in his fifties/early sixties) he's at the last stages of his life I think. So, I want them to reconcile any differences.
I also wanted to reintroduce Hana and Hisae :D Hisae has gotten so big y'all! The age I have for her is roughly around 12/13 so she's becoming a young woman. And I FINALLY found the name of the woman in the picture for Hana lol. Erika Toda. Lawd. I wanted to add another picture of her (to show progression). I missed writing her. She's a stronger woman and if you catch it, you can tell what happened to Aki lol. Now, it's time to get the show on the road. Let's gooooo!
Thank you for reading hehe. I probably will not update this week (being it is midterms) but fall break I shall resume. :) Thank you in advance for understanding! God bless and I pray you all have a great week! Take care!
Erika Toda as Hana: