It was a sunny Sunday at Kireii Park. Children chasing each other. Teenagers riding bicycles. Old people doing calisthenics. A young couple fussing over their baby. Tourists posing and taking photographs. A middle-aged looking man fast asleep on a bench. Two young girls playing Frisbee with a dog. A group of young boys rehearsing a dance performance. An old woman on a wheelchair being pushed by an old man. Sweethearts were seated together having a picnic. Everywhere you saw a scene of serenity and peace.

It is also on this particular day, another couple is celebrating a special moment together. Their first anniversary living together as a couple. They chose a quiet and shady spot under a tree facing a man-made pond. Together they raised their plastic cups to a toast.

"Happy anniversary, Ran-chan.." The dark-haired man beamed.

"Happy anniversary, Enjoji." The blonde-haired man smiled.

They clink their cups and drank together then shared a lingering kiss.


Unbeknownst to the happy couple, a hooded figure wearing dark glasses was crouched behind an old tree had been taking pictures of their intimate moments together. This was enough, he thought grimly. This is what you get Ranmaru Samejima for choosing that shithead Enjoji Sagano over me. He walked over to a bench and scanned the images in his digital camera while carefully devising a plan against the unsuspecting couple.


Enjoji arrives from work and finds Ran in the bedroom clutching a brown package and staring blankly at the window.


Ran is suddenly jolted from his stupor and looks at his dark-haired lover.


"What are these?" Enjoji sits beside him and scans at the 4 x 4 sized photographs that were sprawled on the bed.

"What the hell? Hey! These were taken on our anniversary at the park last week!" Enjoji's eyes grew larger as he looked at the pictures closely. What kind of sick jealous fuck do this to them? He studies his partner's reaction. Ran continued to stare at the window and seemed cool yet there was something curious about the way he behaved. Personally Enjoji could not care less if his family knew about his relationship with Ranmaru. He had always been open about his relationship. The only times he would keep it down was for Ranmaru's sake who preferred their relationship kept very discreet as much as possible. Enjoji had to control his urges whenever they were in public places together. These pictures proved a danger Ranmaru had been avoiding from the very beginning of their relationship. Enjoji knew this too well. This had been an agreement they made from the start that they could live together but never divulge the true nature of their relationship to Ranmaru's grandfather or people at work.

"Do you want me to handle this?" Enjoji frowned. His face was laden with worry for Ranmaru. There was a typewritten note that said:


"Ran?" Enjoji moved closer to his detached lover and put his hand over his shoulder. "I can get to the bottom of this. It wouldn't be that hard. I have connections. This could be all over before any of this reach your grandfather. I'll take care of this okay? You don't have anything to worry about. I'll just put these things away." He picked up the pictures and put them back in the brown package together with the note. Just as he was about to exit the bedroom door, Ran called out to him.

"Kei?" Ran's voice was very soft. He stood up and looked straight at him. He looked determined though his eyes still held a sense of confusion and sadness. "Uhm…you see….I don't think we did anything wrong really. Those pictures were aimed to punish me for selfish reasons."

"But Ran if these pictures reach your grandfather, you know what will happen…he will disown you." He dreaded the sound of that.

"Don't you think I already know that? This is the very thing I have been trying to avoid from the very beginning and something like this lands in the doorstep. I don't know if my grandfather already is looking at copies of these pictures at his dojo. I don't know for sure."

"Look, I told you I will handle this okay. I'll call your sister Yuki to confirm if any suspicious package has reached your grandfather since she is staying there for the spring break, right?" He reached for the phone.

"That's not it." Ran shook his head.

"What do you mean?" Enjoji put the receiver down and was now confused.

Ran just had it already with all this secrecy and dodging any questions from people who try to pry into his relationship with Enjoji. Another thing that angered him was the note calling him a whore. This was absolutely unfair already. How could that bastard judge his lover without even knowing for he truly is? He had been misjudged as well. He had to put an end to this. They had been through so much together, he cannot give up now. Not ever.

"I am sick and tired of people trying to use our relationship against us. I can't stand it anymore." Only then did Ran let loose the tears he had tried to keep at bay. His voice was laden with frustration and anger. He moved towards Enjoji and hugged him. Enjoji held him tighter and kissed his forehead. It was a moment of tremendous relief for him. He was ready for anything but did not expect such a reaction from the blonde.

"What do you plan to do? I am prepared to accept anything, you know that. Anything for you to be happy. I know how much you love your grandfather. I am just afraid this could ruin everything. What if he disowns you?" Enjoji pulls away and wipes the tears from Ran's cheeks as they sat down on the bed.

Ran leans his head on Enjoji's shoulder and closes his eyes. "I'll go to my grandfather's house."

"I'll come with you." Enjoji holds his hand. Whatever happens he wanted to be always there for him. No way was he going to allow Ran to go through this alone.

The smile on Ran's face was precious that Enjoji almost cried. No words followed but that smile alone conveyed a message that transcended any form of explanation and immense confidence that embraced them for the challenge to come.


The house turned into a tomb by evening time. Ran's grandfather retired to the dojo in a fit of anger and regret over the revelation of his relationship with Enjoji. A scuffle had already ensued between the older Samejima and Ran. Enjoji tried to intervene while Yuki's husband tried to pull away his grandfather-in-law. Yuki tried to reason with her grandfather but to no avail.

"From this day forth, you can forget me as your grandfather. I do not want to have anything to do with you anymore. You can only visit your sister when I am not around." Those words kept ringing in Ran's ears. The thing he feared most of all has indeed happened. He is now disowned by his beloved grandfather. He has hurt the man who raised him and his sister single-handedly after the death of their parents. He has disappointed the man who taught him to be one of the greatest kendo champions in the world. The stench of his ungratefulness filled him with a severity he was suffocated with. How could have things turned this way? How could he have been so selfish? He has killed his grandfather already. This was unforgivable. He is convinced he deserved such punishment. It is all over now.

"Go and talk to him." Takumiga told his wife gently as he was carrying their son, Takumi, and rocking him to sleep. It had been very stressful for everyone. Yuki nodded and approached her older brother who was sitting alone at the stairs that was facing the little koi pond by the garden.


"Oh hey, Yuki…"

"Can I sit down with you?"

"Sure." Enjoji moved to give his sister some space. Yuki sat beside him and leaned on his shoulder. Instinctively he smoothed his sister's hair liked he always did when they were younger.

"I'm sorry, oniichan."

"Now whatever made you say that, hmmm?"

"There something I could have done or something, I don't know. Something."

"There's nothing for you to be sorry about, okay? This was bound to happen."

"You know that my husband and I have known your relationship with Enjoji-san. We desire nothing but your happiness. Enjoji-san and you are so perfect together and you've withstood so many trials together yet you continue to prevail regardless of the outcome."

Ran looked down and said nothing. The revelation has caused a lot of heartache for his grandfather. He was in the middle of a terrible dilemma. He did not want to think what was going on in Enjoji's mind right now. He did not want to know. He did not want to feel anything. All he cared about right now was the terrible pain he caused.

"Oniichan, look at me."

Ran's eyes were bubbly as he turned to look at her and Yuki smiled with tears in her eyes.

"I know you've heard this saying so many times before. But you must know that this too shall pass. You and Enjoji-san share a love that not many people may understand but you share a bond that is so strong. Just like family. Just like grandfather. You can never lose your family no matter what happens."

Ran pulls his sister close and they are locked in an embrace. "Oh how you've grown. I love you so much, Yuki."

"I love you too, oniichan. That is never going to change. You're going to be just fine. You're too strong for this."


"Look, my husband and I will be visiting his folks tonight but we can cancel it if you need me here."

"Oh no. Please don't worry. I'll be fine. I don't think I'll be staying anyways."

"Are you sure?"


"Okay. If you say so."

With those words, she kissed her brother on the top of his head and went inside the house. Ranmaru returned to the silence. For awhile he really thought he was going to be alright after talking with Yuki but he was wrong. He wished Yuki wouldn't have to go but didn't want to bother his sister and brother-in-law any further. They had planned for their trip to visit her in-laws since last month; it wouldn't be fair to ask them to just cancel it just because he was depressed. He did not need this right now. Gods! Why did he have to come here? He knew something like this would have happened but when reality slaps you in the face, it is too much to bear. Everything is spiraling downwards. He has lost again. He had to lose everything for Enjoji's sake. It has always been for his sake. His dreams of being the #1 Kendo world champion had been shattered. Now he has been disowned by his grandfather because of his relationship with Enjoji. Enjoji. Why did it have to turn out this way? Why does he have to lose so much?



This can't be happening.

Enjoji took a seat beside him. Ranmaru maintained his sight on the small pond. He did not dare look at his lover. He was too tired. Too depressed. Too angry. Too lost. In a split second he wanted to hit him but held back. What good would it have done? Nothing. He has lost already. What can Enjoji do for him now? Nothing.

"Ran…I know how you feel. Believe me I do but I need you to know that I'll always be here for you. I'd do anything, you know that."

A malicious grin began to spread on Ranmaru's face.

"Anything you say?" Still he did not look at Enjoji's face.

"What can you do that you haven't done already? There is nothing you can do that can bring anything back. I never imagined it would cost me this much. How could you do this to me?"

"Hey wait a second…" Enjoji's eyes rounded.

"WHAT?" This time Ranmaru faced him with menacing eyes and red from tears.


It was at this moment, Enjoji felt the whole place was spinning very fast. Ranmaru's image looked like a blur. This is not Ranmaru. This has to be someone else. Why is he saying this? He is hurt. I know that. Heck! This isn't easy for me either. Oh god. Help me. Please help me. He can't mean all that. Please. Ranmaru. Screaming? What was that? Why? He is so mad at me. I can't blame him. Shut the fuck up, Enjoji. You deserved this. You stupid shit! It's your fault. It's your fault.

"WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT FROM ME, HUH?" Ranmaru had him pinned to the wall and was glaring at him with those bloodshot eyes. Enjoji felt his collar rubbing his neck and a burning sensation followed. His back hurt as well. But he did not find the will to fight back or at least shield himself from his glare. He could not do it. This is it. He found his answer. Oh god.

The next thing he knew he was punched and thrown to the floor. Ranmaru retreated to the same spot where he was seated and covered his face. Enjoji remained on the floor but never took his eyes off the blonde. An overwhelming amount of embarrassment and regret occupied him now. He knew that he could never look at Ranmaru straight in the face anymore. It was over.

"Ran…" His voice choked.

Ranmaru did not reply and squeezed his eyes shut.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, Ran."

Enjoji quickly left the house. He ran towards the garage and entered the car. As he turned the ignition key, an overwhelming bout of nausea overcame over him. He turned off the ignition and laid his forehead on the steering wheel. All the tears that he kept at bay were now overwhelming. It consumed him. It was hard to breath. Why did they have to come here? Why did he have to come here? What use is he now? What point is there to linger in a place where you are no longer needed? Why can't I just walk away from all these? Why can't I just leave? Why the thought of leaving him kills me so much? Oh god. Ran. Oh god. Please help me. I don't know what to do but I don't want to hurt you anymore than you are now. How could I be so cruel? How could things turn out so terrible? Why does my love for you cost you too much? I don't have the right. You don't deserve any of this.

The rain began to pour heavily on the streets. Enjoji held onto the steering wheel with his eyes swollen from tears staring straight into the road. Just like that fated night. It was also raining like this. An image of Ranmaru in his impeccable white kendo uniform poised to strike. Enjoji closed his eyes as if shielding himself from the deadly blow. The next thing he saw was Ranmaru on the muddy ground lying in a pool of blood. The earth-shattering screams that followed. He has to do something. He could not possibly stay and watch everything turn out for the worse than it already is. He knows he should have done this a long time ago. It has to be done. He had waited too long. Now is the time. There couldn't be a more appropriate time than this. Just as his fingers reached to turn on the ignition key, a loud tapping followed on the side window of the car. Yuki. Enjoji unlocked the door and Yuki entered quickly closing the door.

"What are you doing here all alone in the garage? Why don't you come in?" Yuki frowned.

"I thought I'd be alone for a while." Enjoji looked down obviously avoiding the look on her face. He suddenly felt impatient with her sudden presence.

"I'm sorry about what happened back there with grandfather. You know I've always been on your side and my brother's. Even my husband feels the same way. But it's been a real shock to the old man. He never really thought nor suspected anything at all." She looked down.

"I don't blame him really. I'd be surprised myself if I were in his place. It's just that I can't stand Ran being subjected to such treatment. He didn't deserve any of that. I wish he directed all his frustration with me. I'd take it anytime. Not Ran." Enjoji shook his head.

Yuki looked at him and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Grandfather adores him. He had so many dreams for him. He thought he was doing the right thing. Ran looked up to him to everything. He is the only family we ever had and we've ever known. This is all a shock. I don't know when things will settle down but I believe it will eventually. Please give him some time." She squeezed his shoulder.

"I love him. I wish I had something more to say but I just love him so much."


"He doesn't deserve this wrath. He doesn't deserve this treatment on my account."

"My brother loves you too." She looked at him pleadingly.

"I know but there is something I must do. Something I should have done a long time ago but held back."

"What are you saying?" There was something in the way Enjoji said those words that made her confused.

"It should have been me. My god! It should have been me instead then none of this would have happened." He covered his face in anguish. Yuki looked at him worried. Something didn't feel right with the way dark-haired man appeared before her but she didn't know what. She had to know. Enjoji then looked at her intently which made her heart race.

"Yuki….I need you to step out of the car. There is something I need to attend which is of great importance." Enjoji spoke but not looking at her. This reaction worried Yuki even more but the forceful tone in his voice suggested how serious he was.

"No. I'm not going to get out of this car until you tell me what's going on." She had to be firm. She had to know why is he doing this.

"I can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Because this does not concern you whatsoever."

"How so? Ranmaru is my brother so this concerns me as well."

"Because this does not concern him either! Please Yuki I really need you to step out of the car right now." His voice was grim and his eyes reflected a coldness which was far from the usual naughty and playful Enjoji he used to be. He looked like someone else. If she tried to dissuade him, there would be confusion and trouble. There was nothing she could do but reluctantly step out of the car. As soon as she got off, Enjoji turned on the ignition key and drove away from the house. This is not good. I feel there is definitely something very wrong here. I must tell onii-chan.

"ONII-CHAN! ONII-CHAN!" She called out to him but her brother was no longer at the stairs. She began to search around the house quickly until she found him asleep in his old bedroom.

"Onii-chan…please wake up. I need you to wake up." She gently shook her brother.

"What is it?" Ranmaru rubbed his tear-stricken eyes and looked at his sister.


"So what about him? I already told him that there is nothing he could do about this situation anymore. What's done is done." He frowned and looked away.

"Onii-chan, don't you care? He's a mess. Just now he drove away from here. I asked him to come and stay for awhile but he refused. He also mentioned that he needed to attend to something of great importance that he had put off for a long time. That it should have been him and maybe none of this would have happened. Onii-chan, I don't understand. What does he mean by 'should have been him'?"

Ranmaru felt a shiver down his spine. Those words haunted him and he could not stop from fidgeting. His lips quivered and his heart raced. He swallowed and looked at his very confused and worried sister. Oh god. Dear god. No. Please don't tell me Kei is going to end this. Oh god. Please don't. He stood up and grabbed his coat and walked out of the room followed by Yuki.

"Where are you going?" Yuki asked.

"I'm following him. I have a strong suspicion of what he is up to. I'm so scared, Yuki. Where are my keys?" He patted his pockets and looked in his bag.

"That's alright. Come with me, let's follow him. Let's take the motorcycle my husband uses."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure. We use it all the time and besides you don't know how to drive a motorcycle plus there is the condition about your legs. Come on! Let's hurry!" She walked hurriedly to the garage.

"Aren't you going to tell your husband where we're going first?" Ranmaru walked behind her.

"No. There's no time. Besides he's putting Takumi to sleep and it's not easy to do that. I'll just call him when we find Enjoji." She put on her helmet and handed the other to her brother.

The ride was not an easy one. The road was wet but at least the rain had somewhat eased up although it was still showering. There was no traffic in the quiet neighborhood and therefore they were able to spot Enjoji's car running ahead of them and about to make a left turn to the highway. Yuki increased speed until they were on the driver's side of the car. Ranmaru waved for the car to stop but was ignored.

"Yuki I think we have to move ahead of him."

"Okay here goes."

Ranmaru again waved in front of the car to stop and only then did Enjoji notice and quickly pulled over to the side. He did not get out of the car. The engine was still on. He looked down until he heard a strong tap on the passenger window of the car. It was Ranmaru who opened the door and slid inside the car. Yuki drove the motorcycle to a nearby shade and parked there while she watched the couple in the car. She dialed a nearby phone to inform her husband where she were.

"Kei? What do you think you're doing? Where do you think going? You're not helping here!" Ranmaru was fuming. He sounded very scared and angry at Enjoji for running off like that. He has never chased a moving vehicle in his life. It was a nerve-wracking experience. How much more excitement could he take in a day? He was now shivering from the dampness of his clothes but more so he could not quiet his suspicion over Enjoji's sudden departure.

"I'm sorry Ran." Enjoji sobbed and laid his head on the steering wheel and began to grab his hair forcefully. His sobs panicked Ranmaru who was not accustomed to his lover's expression of weakness. Enjoji never cried like this. He always tried to laugh off anything or kept quiet. He always kept his tears at bay. Yet looking at him right now, the painful memory of that fated evening when he nearly died by being ran over by the car that was intended to assassinate Enjoji. He remember Enjoji screaming and sobbing his name and vowing revenge until he lost consciousness and woke up in the hospital. He felt weak. Relief overcame him as he tried to pull Enjoji in his arms. Thank god Yuki and I were able to find you.

"I thought I almost lost you. Where do you think you're going, you idiot? You're leaving me alone here?" Ranmaru cried and hugged Enjoji even closer.

"Ran-chan…everything you said back at your grandfather's house is true. I have no right to argue or complain. You don't deserve any of this pain, baby. I never wanted to leave you, you know that. But I can't stay when you don't need me. I just want you to be happy and free. I'm so sorry I brought this on you. You're right you already have a life before me. What difference does it make if I'm gone now? I'm not happy with what I am about to do but I must spare you from anymore pain. Gods. Ran…I love you so much. This is the only thing I must do for you. It has to end. I should have ended this a long time ago. You know that. I've put this off for a long time for your sake."

Ranmaru slapped him hard on the face. "YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW SCARED I AM RIGHT NOW! Chasing you here. I knew it! Gods! I knew it! You promised me you won't leave me. You promised me that time you won't avenge me. Do you think this circle of violence won't stop? Let it be in their conscience of what they have done to you. To me. To us. There is nothing to forgive. There is nothing for you to be sorry about. I am so mad at my grandfather because he can't accept me. Telling me all the time how much he loves me and realizing that something like this would make him disown me is not fair. It's not fair! I am so mad! GODS! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO! I AM SO SCARED….I don't know what to do if anything bad happened to you. I'm not prepared, Kei. I'm not ready to lose you. Not like this. Not ever. I can't…oh god…" Enjoji tried to pacify Ranmaru from slapping him and instead pulled him in his arms and kissed him forcefully. Ranmaru held onto him like he was going to disappear into thin air. Only after they released for air they held on to each other even harder.

"If I did not pursue you. None of this would have happened." Enjoji sighed.

"If you hadn't pursued me, I would have come to you. Ever thought of that?" Ranmaru sniffed.

"But you had it all. The love of a family. The dream of being a great kendo master in all Japan was coming true and one brief moment, it was all gone." Enjoji's voice broke again.

Ranmaru put his hands on Enjoji's cheeks and looked at him intently. "But if it did happen all over again, I would not hesitate to push you away from harm. Kei I don't want to lose you. You brought me back to life. I want to think that it happened for a reason and that is reason is to prove how strong we are together. I wouldn't have been able to survive without you. If you had left that time and sought revenge then that would definitely have killed me."

"Ran-chan…I was scared too but I wanted them to pay for what they did. It worried me that they could do it again. I have to be ahead of them all the time. I always looked at my back. I always made sure you were safe on your way home and that no one was following you."

Ranmaru wiped Enjoji's tears with his thumb and pulled him closer to share another lingering kiss. "You say I lost everything in life but I actually gained a better life of us together. No more hiding. I love our life together. The love, security, trust and loyalty. Most especially I have someone who accepts me for who I really am. This someone who I am also deeply in love with. This is all I ask. You promised me you would never avenge me and I believed you. I still do. Please don't ever break your promise, love. I know it's hard but losing you is much harder. I can't bear it."

"Thank you, Ran. I'll never let you down again. You will always have me here beside you. I'll never leave you alone. I'll always love you, protect you, care for you and fight for you. You have my heart. I'll never stop loving you." Enjoji squeezed Ranmaru's hand tenderly and kissed his palm.

A knock on the car window, it was Yuki.

"Hey you two looks like things are okay now." She smiled.

"Yuki, I'm really sorry for the trouble." Enjoji said apologetically.

"Don't worry about it, I'm just so relieved we caught up with you. I wish you both the best always. I'll be going back ahead of you, guys okay?"

"Yuki…thanks so much." Ranmaru held her hand.

"Anything for you, onii-chan. Bye bye now. I'll see what my boys are up to at home. We have a bus to catch going to my in-laws. They're expecting us." She put on her helmet and sped off.

"Oh gods, Ran-chan…you're soaking wet, baby. Let me get you another shirt." Enjoji checked the back of the car for a spare shirt in their bag.

"Sorry, I got you all wet too."

"No this is okay. You're the one who's soaking. Here you go." He handed him a shirt.


"You're most welcome." Enjoji smiled.

"Kei…let's go back to our place."

"You sure about that?"

Ranmaru smiled at his handsome lover and felt his face. "A lot of excitement has happened here but I'm still glad it turned out this way. I want nothing more than to go home with you. My grandfather and I need some time apart to digest everything that has occurred. I know it's not easy for him to accept this. Whether he accepts it or not, there's no turning back for me now. I can only look forward to our future together."

"Together. I like that. Whatever happens, I'm on your side, Ran-chan. You'll never be alone. I won't allow it."