Alright....this is FINALLY another chapter! Okay, so I had a couple of people complaining about how the Japanese I was putting in was really messing them up; it's also hard for me to look up each sentence and write, so, as a result, even though I really don't wanna do it...I'm gonna leave the Japanese out. Anything in italics is the Japanese speaking Japanese...just...translated.

:( Oh well...yeah, so without further ado....

Chapter 5: Hit Her Again and I Will.....

Thomas stood with fists clenched and jaw tight, staring down the relatively shorter man in front of him.

Shina's boss cocked his head slightly, the corner's of his mouth twitching upward in the form of a smirk.

"Why would you care about this...girl?"

Thomas bit his lower lip, his deep brown eyes narrowed at the fact that this man had chosen a...nicer word to call his sister.

"You will watch you tongue, sir, and you will listen very closely: do. Not. Hit. my. Sister. Again..."

The boss straightened, grinding his teeth in aggravation.

"Will you dare order me in my own restaurant? She works here and she will stay here!"

Thomas noted that everyone in the building had stopped what they were doing, turning to watch this act take place. He ignored them, looking back to the man in front.

"You know what? Yes, I do order you. This woman is my sister and you have NO right to hit her and treat her badly! If you so much as touch her again, I will lay you out cold."

The short man stared down the finger that was pointed towards his nose, and shoved the hand aside.

"Oh will you now? I bet you cannot even throw a basic punch."

Thomas' pulse increased and his face grew hot with anger as several in the restaurant laughed and snickered, and did not head the warning glance from Ian, who stood with Shana at the doorway. The young Asian man shifted his weight, his breathing quickened. The shorter man in front of him grabbed Shina roughly by the wrist, addressing the people in the small place.

"Do you think she is worth hitting? Look at her! She is nothing but a--"

Before he could say another word, even before he could react, he was spun around roughly and a strong, sinew lined hand was slammed into his face, the impact so hard that he was flung backwards and crashed into one of the old wooden bars, which immediately cracked and splintered. Thomas stepped in front of Shina, his deep voice raised as he looked down at the squirming man at his feet, blood spewing from his nose and mouth.

"You will not treat her like that again! If you do, you will get worse than what you just did!"

He knelt down, taking his sister's boss roughly by the shirt collar and dragging him into a half sitting position.

"...be glad that was not a killing blow."

He let the form drop back down and stood, taking Shina gently by the arm.

"Come. Let us leave."

Shina grasped her brother's forearm, looking nervously up at him with big brown eyes.

"But my boss...he will be mad...he will take away my home..."

Thomas wrapped an arm around her small shoulders, walking her towards the door.

"No he will not...I and my friends shall see to that."

He looked over to his brother and Shana, urging them out the door.

"Ian, let us go...that scum will not be too happy when he recovers."

The blond slipped out the door and began to walk beside his brother, glancing back at the place.

"You won't get away with that...he'll find out who you are."

Shana looked over from where she walked beside Ian, shaking her head.

"You handled that...um...interestingly."

Thomas pulled Shina in closer, looking down at her briefly, and then over to the redhead.

"I shall take that as a compliment...and that is all I shall say."

The four got to the truck, Thomas helping his sister into the front seat, while Ian and Shana climbed into the back seats. Once inside and heading down the road, the cab of the truck was fairly quiet, until Thomas turned his head to look at his two friends in the back, while speaking in Japanese to his sister.

"Shina, this is Ian and Shana; they are my friends from America."

Shana was about to stretch her hand out to shake with the young girl in front, when she embarrassingly remembered that she wasn't supposed to shake hands. Shina laughed, having read her body language.

"It is alright, I shall shake your hand. I read books about America and its customs,"

Thomas translated for the redhead, who in return let out a relieved laugh and took hold of the slender hand that was offered to her.

"It is good to meet you, Shina; Thomas has told us much about you!"

Once again, Thomas translated for both of them, having some difficulty keeping up with the pace of the conversation. Shina grinned, smiling brightly...she had the exact same beautiful smile like her brother.

"Thank you! I am glad you are friends with my brother, it is good to know."

By this time Ian had leaned forward, willingly shaking the young girl's hand and speaking in Japanese.

"We are happy to meet you. Are you well?"

Shina laughed, looking over to Thomas.

"Brother, your friends are well accustomed to the Japanese ways of greeting! You have taught them well!"

Thomas laughed now, shaking his head as he continued driving.

"Ian has lived in Japan for several years with me, so he knows it well. Shana has never been to Japan, and is just now learning."

This whole time Ian had been translating for the redhead. Shana smiled, poking Thomas from her position in the back seat.

"So how am I doing with it?"

Thomas shrugged, turning to Shina.

"Shina, show is Shana doing with her Japanese ways?"

Shina laughed, turning to look at the redhead.

"Very good for a beginner! I congratulate you!"

Ian translated for her, and there followed much laughing. Finally, Thomas looked over at his sister briefly from watching the road; they had now entered the outskirts of Tokyo, and the highways were becoming much busier.

"Alright sister, you live somewhere around here?"

The young Asian girl nodded, pointed down one road.

"Yes, down there. My apartment is in one of those buildings, near the top."

Thomas peered out the window, a little surprised at the poorly kept building. He shook his head, reaching over to pat his sister's leg.

"I tell you what, we have a hotel that we are staying in for our visit; would you care to stay with us? There is an extra bed."

Shina grew wide-eyed, blinking a few times.

"But brother, is that not very expensive?"

Thomas was a little caught off guard by this question.

"Well...not, really. Not to us, anyway."

He winced at how bad that answer sounded. Shina turned in her seat a little, looking over at him intensely.

"You have enough money to stay in a hotel? You must be very rich!"

Thomas couldn't help but smile a little, but inside, he wondered if her wages and living conditions were so poor that she would assume that they were "rich".

"Um...listen, we will go by your place and pick up your things, and you can stay with us."

Shina was silent a moment, looking back at Ian and Shana with big, inquiring brown eyes.

"Areā€”are you sure, brother?"

Thomas laughed, pulling into the road that led to the old apartment.

"Yes, I am very sure; we would love to have you stay with us."

15 minutes later, all four were mounting the stares to the ill-kept apartment. The place was dirty and had a musty smell, which was actually worse than all of the cigarette smoke in the lobby. Shina stopped at a wooden door, pulling out some keys from the apron she had forgotten to take off at the restaurant.

"This is where I stay,"

She unlocked the door, and had to give it a good shove to open it. Thomas, Ian and Shana could only stare at the horrible living quarters, Thomas almost angered that his sister had been living in such a place. The only lighting was a small window in the corner of the room, which had bars crisscrossing over it to prevent break ins. She apparently slept on several taitami mats sewn together, with a thin sheet laid over it and another rolled up into a crude pillow. (A taitami mat is like a rough surface of small, thin reeds laced together.) The floor was rickety and there was a slight trace of mold on the wall, with a steady draft coming from the window, which had a sheet stuffed around it. Despite the "bed", if that's what it could be called, there was naught much else in the small room save a very small bathroom with only a toilet and sink. Several make-shift shelves were mounted around the walls, with a few scarce items such as a couple of books, a hair brush and bobby-pins, a small hand-held mirror, a toothbrush and paste, a couple of sewing kits, a few shirts, jeans and skirts neatly folded, and last of all, on one shelf that was completely dusted and neatly kept, a framed picture of Thomas and herself, with two vases of a few daises. On the floor was a lonely, faded rug, which had flower stems, petals, a few intact flowers, and a flat, dish-like vase for Japanese flower arranging. Despite the poor area, it was neatly kept, everything in perfect order and in place. The almost exactly alike thoughts of the three visitors were interrupted when the loud noise of the door being shut and locked cut through the small room. Shina had bolted the door, looking up at them.

"It is not safe here; many people break in...I must keep the doors and windows locked at all times."

Thomas took in a deep breath, depressed at his sister's living conditions.

"Shina...what do you do about work?"

The small girl looked down to the floor, turning to the corner of the room where the door was and slipping off her Japanese zori sandals, placing them neatly by the entrance to the room.

"I walk."

Ian looked down at the worn shoes and not-so-white socks that she wore, which had a few holes in them.

"What do you do in winter? Have you no other shoes?"

Shina shook her head, tucking a long strand of jet black hair behind her ear.

"I walk anyway. I cannot afford new shoes."

Thomas was a little frustrated, and crossed his arms.

"What about showers? There is not a tub or anything in here...do you even have running water?"

"Yes, brother, I do have running water, though it is not warm. It is all cold. I do not bathe, but wash my hair in a bowl of water that I set on the balcony outside, and sometimes I will wash off with a wet rag when I come back in."

"What about in the winter?"

"I do the same. Sometimes, if boss gives me enough money, I can go to the bathhouse."

Ian had been translating for Shana, and now the redhead spoke up, waiting for Thomas to translate for Shina.

"What about food?"

Shina shrugged.

"If I work hard, boss will let me take a plate of food home from work, and sometimes I go to the store, but it is a very long walk."

With this she bowed slightly, excusing herself.

"Brother, I shall be back shortly. I must go downstairs and tell the man who owns the place that I will not be here for a few days...excuse me."

She bowed again, and slipped on her sandals, exiting the room silently. After the door had clicked shut, Thomas turned sharply, his voice raised.

"This is ridiculous! I am not going to let my sister live like this!"

He sighed deeply, leaning his head against he wall.

"...what kind of brother am I?"

Ian took in a breath, laying a hand on his friend's shoulder.

"Thomas, you didn't know anything about how she was living or where she worked up until now...and really there was nothing you could have done if you had known."

Shana agreed, glancing around the small room.

"Maybe we can help her or something...do you think she would come back to America with us?"

Thomas shook his head, running a hand through his jet black hair.

"Scarlett, she has lived in Japan all of her life...do you know what she would feel like suddenly in a foreign country, leaving everything she has ever known? Think of yourself when you got here...you were overwhelmed enough, and this is just a visit."

Shana tugged on her shirt a little, looking around.

"I know...I understand. But, Thomas...she's your sister, after all...and surely she wouldn't want to live here any longer."

Ian looked at his brother meaningfully.

"She can't even afford to buy decent shoes and have a hot bath, for pity's sake...surely we can do something."

Thomas was quiet for quite a few moments, head laid back against the wall and eyes closed. He finally straightened, sighing deeply and rubbing the back of his neck.

"...I will ask her...but not now. Let us just get her to our hotel and away from here...we can stay a week longer, maybe, and show her around Tokyo...maybe I can take her to Tokyo Mall...I am sure she has never been there."

Ian smiled, patting his brother's back.

"Good idea...if we can just keep her away from here a while...you know, maybe she'll long to be with half-way decent people."

Thomas sighed, turning the handle on the door to open it.

"I will go and check on her..."

He left the room, shutting the door behind him. Shana closed her eyes briefly, trying to sort this situation out.

"I hope he will ask...she doesn't need to live like this, and she's so young."

Ian agreed, taking her hand.

"Let's give the two some time...they have scarcely been together for an hour, and already Shina and Thomas both will be in trouble with that guy at the restaurant....let's just hope we can get out of here without her boss figuring it out..."