Standard Disclaimer. I do not own Patlabor....This is a sort of sequel of Silent Smoke.
If I owned a labor I would try to kill my brother with it.
JSDF- Japanese Self-Defense Force
GSDF- Ground Self Defense Force (Land forces of the JSDF)
Omiai- Japanese arranged marriage
Shinobu sighed quietly and tugged on her rod to see if anything was biting on the other end. She was on an overturn bucket and used it as a temporary chair for the time being. She was sitting at the mechanics wharf with a fishing rod in hand and another bucket filled with fresh water was set right beside her. It was three thirty p.m. and the sun was shinning down on her. There was no one around but her and she quietly realized that it was boring without people around. At least if there were a few mechanics around she could at least listen into their conversation and feel a little less lonesome. Silence equalled loneliness to Shinobu and she didn't want to be alone any more but she found that as time went on, the more and more she was alone.
It was all Goto's fault, Shinobu thought.
Despite Shinobu's best efforts, she felt upset and lost. It had been four months since the "Tsuge Incident" and things were now just plain antagonistic between her and Goto. It wasn't any easier when she just received a prison visitation request from Tsuge just recently in the mail.
****Three days ago****
Shinobu leaned back in her chair and took a sip from her cold coffee. She was tired, she was angry; she was completely and utterly frustrated at Goto. No matter what she did he seemed to retain the same tight control on his emotions. Shinobu long ago gave up trying to crack open Goto's emotions but time has a funny way of making you think that you have a chance. So now she was once again learning the hard way why she gave up so many years ago after she first met him. She honestly thought that Goto would open up a little bit more to her.
'I mean, come on, he slapped me silly and shouted at me once! For the first time in my life he actually got angry with me!' Shinobu thought to herself, 'if my near suicide doesn't even let him open up a bit more, I don't know what will.'
Shinobu looked around the empty office and noted that the strain of the silence was really getting to her. Goto was taking a nap somewhere and she didn't expect him to return any time soon. Even if he was in the office right now what we're they going to talk about? No matter what they did, she found herself getting annoyed at Goto or he would just clam up and say nothing to her at all. Shinobu found herself longing for the much simpler days where she was just Division One's captain rather the Division Chief of the Special Vehicle Division Second Section.
Shinobu sighed and looked around her desk to see if there was anything else for her to do. Shinobu soon discovered there was absolutely nothing for her to do. 'Nothing to do' meant time for her to brood and get depressed. Shinobu desperately looked for something one her desk to organize or write or something. She found nothing for her to preoccupy her mind. Even the most mind numbingly boring requisition order or tedious monthly report seemed tantalizing at the moment but still she found nothing. Shinobu's desk was perfectly organized, well supplied and clean, she read all the books she brought from home, and had done all her paper work for the next four weeks. It was rather funny to Shinobu because she had always assumed that when she became Division Chief of a division of any sort, she would be swamped with paper work and other such things. In truth it was nothing of the sort, the paper work was no different and no more than what she got as a captain did. She also would have normally been glad to have all the work to be done so she could relax a bit but that was then and this was now. She dreaded any sort of lull in her work now because then the silence and brooding would get to her. She stared at Goto's cluttered and dirty desk. It had half-opened letters, garbage, half-finished reports and such. Shinobu could always trust Goto to leave an industrial wasteland's worth of junk on his desk. In fact the desk was so dirty she was tempted to clean it up. This made Shinobu blink and shake her head.
"Now I'm really desperate for something to do," Shinobu said out loud to herself.
Then Shinobu breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the work announcement go off on the PA system.
"Work crew 119 and 468 please report to their duties. Today is a 673, bring your fishing rods," the voice droned with little enthusiasm, "I repeat... ah hell with it, everyone knows what's up." With that the announcer turned off the PA system.
Shinobu thought to herself for a few moments after the announcement and decided that she would join them for some fishing and pick up her mail. It was something to do at the very least. She got up from her desk and went straight to the storage closet. When she opened the door grabbed Goto's fishing rod and walked out the office with the rod in hand.
The walkway had a lot of engineers and crewmembers who ran rambunctiously around with their fishing rod and bait in hand. Officer Godai Katonishu noticed Shinobu walk out the office doors with Goto's fishing rod. Seeing that he was in the presence of a superior officer, he saluted her.
"At ease Officer Godai, no need to salute me. I'm just going fishing with the others," Shinobu said noticing Godai saluting.
"Oh sorry ma'am. It's just that... I don't think I've ever seen you fish with the others before," Godai said lowering his hand from salute. Indeed this was the first time Godai ever seen the Division Chief leave her office to do anything but work. He was rather surprised to see her work so hard and almost never leave the base unless it was an emergency. She was burying herself in work and somehow Godai knew that doing something like that was simply unnatural. He immediately reminded himself that Shinobu was his superior officer and that it was none of his business.
"Where is Captain Goto?" Shinobu asked stopping to talk a bit with Godai.
"I don't know ma'am. I last saw him in the mailroom picking up a few letters of his," Godai answered frowning a bit. It was somewhat of a half-truth. He saw Captain Goto looking through some of the Division Chief's mail but he wasn't going to tell her that. He may have had no idea what was going on between the two but he trusted Captain Goto enough to not mention it.
"Oh I see.... Wait a minute the mailroom?" Shinobu asked surprised.
"Ah. Yes ma'am the mailroom. He just went in there a few moments ago," Godai answered. Godai began to realize that he might have given away Goto.
"That's strange. He already picked up his mail; it's on his desk."
"I'm sure he's picking up something he missed then ma'am," Godai said smiling.
"I see... Carry on Officer Godai," Shinobu said. She walked down the stairs and headed straight towards the wharf.
'That was close,' Godai thought to himself and immediately decided to put some distance between Shinobu.
For Shinobu the entire thing about fishing at the wharf turned out to be a rather strange affair. Most of the officers and mechanics seemed distinctly uncomfortable in her presence and acted rather mechanically around her. It seemed that they were afraid that she would chew them out if they did something inappropriate. That made Shinobu feel even more isolated that before but she said nothing. After all, there was nothing to say.
Shinobu began to feel the ever-creeping brooding shadow come over her entire being. The confusion, the anger, the disappointment, the everything that represented her emptiness began eating at her soul. No one around her could tell that it was hurting her and she said nothing.
The feeling was quickly shaken off when Shinobu noticed her line was being tugged at rather hard. The line whirled forward into the inky depths of the water in front of her. Shinobu immediately set to work to try and slow down the line intake. She slowly reeled in the line as carefully as possible but her unknown aquatic prey kept on tugging hard and trying escape. It was then that Shinobu realized that she caught something was very large. She got up from her seat and let the line run. The fish sensing the line was no longer taut ran, er swam, away from the wharf as quickly as possible. The line veered left and right, taking more and more of the fishing line until finally Shinobu had no choice but to try and conserve the length of the line or else lose it all through the constant running.
Shinobu forgot about the encroaching emptiness inside her and willed her mind into concentrating completely on getting the fish onto shore and nothing else. She began to reel the line in a bit more and realized the fish was too far into the harbour with the line. She looked around and saw another empty unused wharf to her right that jutted out far into the harbour. She ran towards the other wharf with the rod and reeled as much of the excess line as possible. The mechanics and officers on the wharf looked up and watched their Division Chief run towards the farthest end of the other wharf with fishing rod in hand. A few began cheering and others simply began to watch, forgetting for a moment their incredibly boring routine of fishing.
Shinobu didn't hear the shouts of encouragement and kept on reeling in as much of the fishing line as possible. She stood at the end of the other wharf and fought her rather drawn out battle with the fish.
The entire thing all of a sudden reminded her of a book she read when she was in high school. It was called "The Old Man and The Sea." She quickly chuckled and hoped light heartedly that a shark would not all of a sudden appear out of nowhere and try to eat her catch.
It was then she felt the line go limp and in the water in front of her a two and half-foot fish leaped into the air and once more crashed into the waves once more. It wasn't exactly the biggest fish she had ever seen in her life but it was first time she'd ever caught one of that size come anywhere close to Tokyo Harbour. It was also then that the other people on the mechanics wharf got up and grabbed some nets and fish gaffs. A grand total of fifteen people ran towards the wharf that Shinobu was on after seeing the size of the fish. It was their dinner and they would be damned if they let it go. When they finally arrived at the wharf Shinobu was on, the fish was right in front of the wharf struggling to get away. They all failed to take into account that the entire wharf was rotted and Sakaki had once long ago put up a 'Keep Away' sign to prevent accidents from happening. Unfortunately the sign had long since been washed away by a storm and the added stress of the thundering feet and weight of fifteen other people was all that the old rotted wharf could take.
To make a long story short the wharf collapsed and everyone fell into the water including Shinobu and the fish got away to live another day.
Shinobu trudged out of the water with the others soaking wet. Shinobu was completely unamused by what had happened and the other fifteen gripped about their lost dinner.
"Did you see that fish? It was huge," one the mechanics said in an exaggerated voice of sadness.
"We'll get it next time! No fish ever escapes work crew 119!" Another said in an overly dramatic voice and struck a silly pose that he probably thought was macho but really wasn't.
"What are you talking about? You couldn't catch something that huge! You need work crew 468, the 'Fishing Masters', to catch that fish!" An officer said in a standoffish voice. He stood cold and wet with arms over his chest.
Shinobu felt like laughing at the entire silliness of the entire thing but she held in her laughter and concentrated on getting a shower and dry clothing. She walked away from the two bickering work crews and entered the base. Shinobu felt happy, perhaps fishing would get her mind off of things rather than an endless stream of work.
It took only a few moments for her to get cleaned up and into a new set of clothing. Shinobu headed towards the her office to drop off Goto's rod and planned to head towards the mailroom afterwards but when she opened the door she saw Goto with his hands propping up his chin looking rather grim. Something was immensely displeasing Goto but Shinobu had absolutely no idea what.
"Ah, Shinobu..." Goto said flatly. He was angry but it didn't really show in his voice or face. Instead it showed in his entire body posture and left Shinobu completely baffled as to what was wrong.
"Are you all right Goto?" Shinobu asked as she kept her eyes on him as she made her way towards the storage closet to put away the fishing rod.
"Not really. I got your mail for you..." Goto replied in the same flat voice. Goto then seemed to frown in annoyance and leaned back into his chair closing his eyes for a moment. He dropped his hands to his lap and then mentally looked over Shinobu's letter but it only seemed cause him to seethe internally and wrestle with his increasing jealousy. The letter was from Tsuge and that in his opinion was bad news.
"Thanks, anything important come in for me?" Shinobu asked wondering just what was wrong with him.
"....." Goto said nothing. He looked down at the small pile of letters on his desk. He didn't want to show her the 'letter', it would ruin everything and she seemed to be making a recovery. Shinobu probably would not appreciate his feelings on it.
"Goto? Are you all right?" Shinobu asked as she walked towards his desk and looked to see what was wrong. Goto's desk was still a mess and she noticed that a few of her letters were on his desk. This baffled her even more and she began to suspect that something in her mail upset him greatly. She reached down and picked up the letters and read them off mentally. The letters themselves seemed nothing unusual, they were just bills, advertisement and a few other odds and ends.
"Shinobu? Are you all right? After all that has happened, after all that you've... we've done..." Goto asked tentatively. It had none of the usual laid back tone that Goto would usually use. Shinobu was about to say something sarcastic but stopped herself. She trusted Goto and they had been arguing or shutting down their conversations too often. It was a welcomed change to the now nearly endless silence between them.
"I... think... No Goto. I'm not all right. Even after all this time I still feel a bit lost. But why do you want to know that?" Shinobu answered. She wondered what Goto was up to. She may have trusted him but there were a few things that she found hard to swallow.
"If you still feel that way I won't tell you," Goto said and then simply looked down at his desk and began write his monthly report.
Pride was one of the things she found incredibly hard to swallow.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Shinobu demanded annoyed.
'It means that it will get you angry with me!' Goto thought annoyed at Shinobu. His face didn't show his annoyance but it didn't stop him from feeling a little irritated at her. Goto said nothing to her and kept on writing a report.
Shinobu stood in front of his desk and began looking through her letters slowly. She was frowning and realized that they had both pretty much killed their first somewhat civil conversation in a month. She read off the letters.
'Bill, bill, bill... what is with all these bills? Advertisement for meat scented soap?' Shinobu blinked and then threw away the advertisement and walked to her desk. Goto watched her; he wondered when she was going to hit the 'letter'.
Shinobu sat down neatly placed her letters into piles. Soon she came upon a letter from the Rokuren high security prison. Shinobu read the read the name of the sender and she gripped it a little harder. She then forced her hands to relax but Goto noticed her reaction.
'The moment you read, see or hear of Tsuge you bolt Shinobu,' Goto thought. He felt his ire intensify but he kept a calm face.
Shinobu didn't notice Goto's reaction and read the front of the letter. It read as the following.
To Division Chief Nagumo Shinobu, Special Vehicle Division Second Section.
High security visitation request:
Tsuge Yukihito. Prisoner #73842.
Note all information and contents within this letter are strictly confidential.
Shinobu looked at the letter blankly unsure how to feel or how to react. It seemed almost surreal, she never expected to hear from Tsuge again. Tsuge's trial and subsequent guilty verdict from the judges was mercifully short. The public, government and others were out for blood and they used Tsuge as a scapegoat. The trail triggered a witch-hunt of sorts within the military and police ranks. People within the police we're being sacked from their positions over suspicions of being involved in the conspiracy to topple the government or other such nonsense. It was nothing but a ploy for over ambitious police officers to try and gain police positions from their higher-ups. Then again who the hell would want her job? It was boring as hell, the pay was poor and there was zero chance of promotion if you took the job. So what was she afraid of? Shinobu without a second thought opened the letter. She read it, she read it again, and she read it one more time and then put it on her desk. She closed her eyes and tried to think.
"Shinobu?" Goto asked in a quiet voice. He got up and walked to her desk. He felt unsure as to what to say. He stood in front of Shinobu's desk and waited for her to say something but silence only greeted him.
"Is this what you meant? Is this why you won't 'tell me'?" Shinobu finally asked. Her eyes were still closed and she was starting to get a headache. Goto continued to say nothing and looked at her. Shinobu was getting angry at his silence but her face showed no reaction. She didn't want silence, she wanted him to say something but she knew Goto was going to simply say nothing. Was this all she had to expect from him? To always be stonewalled from knowing how he feels until it was too late? It was just like that with Goto. He never did trust her and yet she trusted him, even when he did things behind her back. It was then that Shinobu realized it wasn't her fault. It suddenly clicked in her mind, that it wasn't her fault Goto was always silent around her. It wasn't her that was killing the conversation. It was his fault because he didn't trust her with his feelings. It was also then that Shinobu suddenly felt very old. Silence was anathema to her but there was nothing to say.
Goto had no idea what Shinobu was thinking but he kept his silence. What could he do? Just being there for Shinobu was not enough. She could not see Tsuge in her current mindset, Goto knew she would break. Tsuge was a problem that simply would not go away. Would she listen if he told her not to go and see Tsuge? Goto questioned the wisdom of saying that to Shinobu but he ruthlessly murdered it. This was for her sake and for his, she should not... no, she could not see Tsuge. The line of thought that Goto took unsettled him, it seemed so arbitrary, so unlike him to simply make a decision right off the bat. He looked at Shinobu's face and all doubt left him. He was doing the right decision. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the little voice called conscience screamed at him in anger but Goto ignored it.
"Shinobu?" Goto said in a firm voice.
Shinobu listened but her revelation left her a bit disoriented. Despite this she listened intently and opened her eyes and stared at Goto hard. She tried to read his face but all she got was the same bored looking mask. God she was tired of that mask.
"You can't see Tsuge," Goto then realized that his wording was something to be desired but it was too late to change it.
Shinobu let the weight of Goto's word hit her for a moment and before Goto could say anything to correct it, she answered.
"And you can't see that I am very tired with your little game. I've had it with you," Shinobu said. Anger lined her words and she continued; "now you go off and make decisions for me..."
"That's not what I meant!" Goto managed to say but something in his words told Shinobu that he was lying. Goto didn't know that he was lying, to him everything was in its place and his logic was correct.
Shinobu got up from her desk and eyeballed Goto squarely. Goto saw that in her eyes that she hated him. The silence between was palpable and was worse than anything that they had ever experienced in their long time since they had been assigned to be Captains.
Goto ended the silence first.
"It doesn't change how I feel about this," Goto said with utter finality in his voice.
Shinobu said nothing and merely closed her eyes in frustration. Then faster than he expected her hand shot out and slapped him hard across the face. The sound was like a crack and Goto winced in pain as he felt his face sting.
"I owed you one, now I've returned the favour," Shinobu said simply and picked up her letters. "I'm moving to the Division Chief's office Captain Goto. Do not disturb me unless it is of the utmost importance."
With that Shinobu picked up her things and left the office. Goto stood in front of her desk and stared at her as she left. No words left their mouths because there was nothing left to say.
Goto got up from his desk and looked around the office. There was no one in it except him and sighed. His hand went unconsciously for his pack of cigarettes and lighter. He stopped himself thinking that in any minute Shinobu would enter the office but then he remembered that she had moved out and into the Division Chief's office. This time his shoulder's slouched in defeat and he held his head in his hands tiredly.
'Shinobu just doesn't understand at all!' Goto thought to himself, 'I did it to keep her from the inevitable hurt if she gone to see Tsuge.'
'Liar!' His conscience told him, 'you did it so she would not see Tsuge. Why? Because you're a selfish manipulative bastard who doesn't want to lose what he thinks is his.'
Goto felt his anger rage forward. Anger at Tsuge, anger at Shinobu who seemed intent on making him feel this way. Never once did Goto realize or consider that what he had done was wrong. He got up from his desk and walked out his office. When he was about to go down the stairs, he saw from the corner of his eye Shinobu sitting on the wharf fishing. He came up to window and watched her in silence.
Shinobu was in the thrall of the memories from three days ago. She gripped the fishing rod even harder. She stared across Tokyo Bay in an effort to calm herself down but the nerve of the man. How dare he decide whom she could see? How dare he?
Goto looked out the window, lit his cigarette and watched Shinobu sit on the mechanic's wharf and fish. He looked fine other than a rather angry bruise on his cheek. His face was unchanging, unflinching and unemotional as it always has been. He watched her solitary form for the better part of the hour. It still hurt where she slapped him but that however hardly blunted Goto's feelings on the matter. Goto closed his eyes and took a deep puff from his cigarette. All he could see was brown eyes filled with anger, confusion and betrayal.
Little did they know both were thinking along the same lines about each other. They knew nothing for what was best for them.
Shinobu looked around her office one last time. She was no longer dressed in her blue and orange police uniform but in her civilian clothes. She was going home for the first time in two weeks. It occurred to her that she now knew why Chief Fukushima was never around on base very often. There was absolutely nothing to do on base after you finish the Division Chief's monthly report but even that you could finish at home rather than on base. Shinobu sighed in frustration and felt the urge to punch the walls of her office rise dramatically. Being in the Division Chief's office was quite frankly the worst thing she so far experienced when it came to loneliness. The office was permeated with the spectre of Chief Fukushima's often inept handling of the SV2 on certain matters haunted the base still. Not to mention that a rumour was going around the base that she was angry with Goto and the bruise on his face from her slap only enhanced and exaggerated the rumour. Thus no one dared disturbed her in the Division Chief's office and the added fact there was nothing to do only promoted her brooding during her time on duty. She however made things drag out between her and Goto by refusing to move back into the Captain's office until Goto apologized to her. She never verbally demanded Goto to apologize but he knew all to well that it was what she wanted. He refused to vindicate her and had not talked her since the incident with the letter.
'The bastard thinks I'm going to run right back to him with arms wide open and saying that he was right? Hardly,' Shinobu thought to herself. The thought made her angry but she calmed herself down. She was getting angry with Goto too often.
Shinobu opened the door of her office and walked down the walkway towards her parked car. It was time to go home. It was time to go and forget that she even heard of Captain Goto Kiichi. She got into her car and drove out of the landfill where the base was located and headed 'home'.
Goto watched Shinobu's car pull out of the landfill and head home from his office windows. He stood by the window and watched her go tiredly. It had been almost half a month since they had spoken to each other. The only time they saw each other was at mealtimes or when she was issuing orders but they never talked. Goto began to quietly realize that Shinobu wanted him to apologize but he wasn't about to give her the satisfaction. He was correct in his reaction, there was no need to apologize but why was he so tired? Why did he feel almost guilty? The only thing he was sure of was that he was tired and lonely. He wasn't the type to go half-cocked on some silly trivial emotion but he still felt that something was wrong. Something was missing and that something was Shinobu.
'She'll see that I was right and then everything will go back to normal...' Goto thought.
"Since when has anything gone back to normal after the 'Tsuge incident'?' his conscience asked. Goto found no satisfactory answer, so he buried the question and forgot about it.
Shinobu drove her car. It was seven p.m. and Tokyo lit up before her as she left the remote base that she worked at. There was something mystical about watching a city light up the entire sky as you drive closer and closer to the bustling megalopolis. If one saw the city from their car window as they drove into it, they would never suspect that Tokyo was once in danger of civil war and revolution or was in danger at all. It seemed all so permanent, all so endless and eternal. Time itself could not sweep away this city in the minds of its residence but Shinobu felt ambivalent to Tokyo. She drove her car off the highway and into the streets towards her 'home'. The streets soon came to a residential area and she arrived at the old gates of her home. Things never seemed to change this house, revolutions, wars and madmen came and went but this house was like a rock in an unstable and unpredictable world. It was 'home' but yet it wasn't truly what Shinobu regarded as home. It was a shelter from the world and a place to sleep since her father died. That was all it was to her despite the fact she lived in it ever since she had been born. A shelter, never a 'home' to return to.
The spring had caused the house's garden to grow into a riot of greenery. Shinobu's father liked it that way and refused to cut anything in the garden. The cherry tree was ready to bloom and the flowers were opening. In winter it rested under a cold blanket of snow and now it was free to awaken itself to life. Shinobu got out of her car and opened the gate doors to enter the front yard. She was back 'home' and she was tired. Keiko came out from the kitchen and greeted her daughter.
"Shinobu how was work?" Keiko asked smiling. Keiko felt so glad that her daughter had finally returned home. She felt ever so happy to note that Goto was helping Shinobu, at least to her knowledge on the matter of Shinobu's emotional well being.
"It was fine," Shinobu answered. She removed her coat and shoes quickly. Shinobu did not want to answer anymore of her mother's question but unless she could get away from Keiko she had no choice but to answer her questions.
"I see. How are you with Goto?" Keiko asked not realizing that it was rather sore subject for her daughter, "you should invite him to dinner one of these days."
"No mother... I won't be inviting him here any time soon... he's ... busy with work," Shinobu answered as she past her baffled mother to go upstairs to her room.
Keiko stood at the base of the stairs looking up at her daughter unsure as to what has upset her.
"Dinner is almost ready... Do you want some?" Keiko asked. She wondered what was wrong with Shinobu and what had happened between Goto and her but decided to not press it. Her daughter hated it when someone poked their heads into her business without permission.
"Yes, I'll be downstairs soon!"
Keiko walked toward the kitchen and prepare dinner. There was going to be much to talk about after dinner. Too much to talk about in truth.
Dinner was eaten quickly and quietly. There was no talking as Shinobu and her mother ate. It never had been easy to talk to each other but over the years it became more bearable to the point they discussed important things at the end of the meal. After this particular dinner there was much to talk about.
"Shinobu? I think we need to talk," Keiko announced as she began washing the dishes. Shinobu stood by drying the dishes as Keiko finished washing them.
"What do you want to talk about?" Shinobu deadpanned. She dried the dishes calmly and wondered what they were going to talk about. Her mother had chewed her out on breaking things in the house when Shinobu went on her slight 'rampage' and unintended three day fast four months ago but that was long ago. Now how their days were like and what they did had replaced the conversations.
"How old are you now?" Keiko asked.
"I'm thirty three years old... I'll be thirty-four soon."
"How old am I?"
".... I don't think I like where this conversation is heading..."
"Shinobu I am sixty-three years old. I had you when I was twenty-nine..."
"Now mother... I haven't got the time for children or anything..."
"I'm getting older Shinobu and time is not on my side."
"I know that but I haven't met anyone I want to spend the rest of my life with."
"How about Goto?"
Shinobu stopped drying the dishes at the mention of Goto and her eye twitched. Keiko looked at Shinobu suspiciously.
"There is no way in hell I'd spend my life with Goto... The man is a complete slob and besides... He's not built for love..." Shinobu scoffed at her mother's suggestion, "the man was completely utterly frustrating, and you can never tell what the hell he's up to or how he feels."
Keiko listen to her daughter silently and then sighed. The dishes had been washed and there was nothing left to put off her next little announcement.
"Shinobu?" Keiko continued apprehensively. Shinobu was going to be angry with what Keiko was going to say but it was best to get it out of the way.
"Yes?" Shinobu answered. She felt her annoyance increase once more.
"Your uncles, aunts and I have decided that it's time you get married..."
"We've looked over a few potential husbands that we want you to meet..."
"Look mother! I have an important job as Division Chief of the SV2! I don't have time for marriage!"
"Now you listen to me young lady! I'm not stupid you know! Ever since you had that affair with that man, Tsuge! You've been shafted into a highly immobile and undesirable position in the police! Important job indeed!" Keiko found that she was shouting at Shinobu who blinked a few times.
"And just how the hell do you know that?" Shinobu demanded recovering. She was beyond annoyed, she was angry again.
"For God's sake Shinobu I was married to your father! He was Colonel of the elite 5th Armor Brigade in the GSDF! He was going somewhere in his career, you are not!"
Shinobu lacked a retort to fire at her mother. That didn't change the fact she was angry and so Shinobu stomped out the kitchen and went to the hallway. She got on her shoes and coat, opened the door and was about to leave when she heard her mother's voice shout out angrily.
"There you go again! Running away!" Keiko shouted.
Shinobu ignored what her mother said and slammed shut the door. She then walked towards 'Strange Paradise'. The sun had gone and the night was lit up into a brilliant purple sky with a full moon. The sight was completely lost on Shinobu. She walked past it all.
Eventually Shinobu arrived at the bar 'Strange Paradise' and entered it. She needed something to get her mind off of life for a moment. Goto was acting like a stranger, she was depressed and angry and now Keiko announced that the family decided to intervene and get Shinobu married. This was an incredibly stressful period of her life and there was no end in sight.
Three bottles of beer were placed in front of her when she sat down in the bar. Takae asked no questions to Shinobu and left her alone. Being snuffed by Takae sent Shinobu's depression to new heights.
'Great now Takae won't talk to me," Shinobu thought. It was not long after two hands covered Shinobu's eyes and a familiar voice said.
"Fuwa?" Shinobu answered in surprise. Fuwa was an old friend of Shinobu from her childhood. She was also Captain of the elite Helldiver paratroopers in the JSDF and occasionally helped out the SV2 when things required the military. It had been awhile since they've seen each other. Shinobu felt a little happier knowing an old friend was with her.
"Gets it on the first guess," Fuwa replied smiling. She took a seat right by Shinobu and sat down.
"Fuwa! I thought you were working today," Shinobu said.
"I took a break from work and it looks like you did as well," Fuwa noted playfully, "I've never though I would live to see the day. You're usually such a workaholic."
"Well work is less than pleasant right now," Shinobu stated.
"Tell me about it. Ever since the 'Tsuge Incident' it's been crazy at work. People are getting sacked from their jobs left, right and center," Fuwa said grimly.
"Aren't I lucky that I have such a 'immobile' job such as mine," Shinobu said, she noted the slight pun she put in was not exactly very clever.
"Haha very funny Shinobu," Fuwa said clearly not amused.
"Just trying to lighten the mood. So how's your husband?" Shinobu frowned at the word 'husband' because it reminded her of the slight predicament she was in with her mother and family. Getting into an arranged marriage was not something she looked forward to.
"He's doing great but he's still at work. Leaving me too seek comfort in a bar," Fuwa groused in an overly dramatic way. Fuwa noted the frown on Shinobu's face but decided to ignore it.
Shinobu shrugged at that and took a drink from her beer. She had been nursing it for awhile and drank the contents down quickly. Fuwa noted it as well and looked somewhat concerned.
"Shinobu? Is something wrong?" Fuwa asked. No matter how well Shinobu tried to hide her depression or sadness it was rather evident in the personal quirks of her personality. It was always the small things that gave Shinobu away.
"No, nothing is wrong. Just tired," Shinobu lied. Shinobu gripped her beer bottle a little harder.
"You know I should write a book on you. How to know when Nagumo Shinobu is depressed and other such signs," Fuwa said rather playfully clearly not believing Shinobu.
"That's an overly long title for a book," Shinobu answered dryly.
"That doesn't change the fact you're a terrible liar."
"Well I am not exactly thrilled to find out that my mother and family is trying to get me married."
"Married? To who? Is it that Goto guy I keep hearing about from you and your mother?" Fuwa asked in a curious voice. Fuwa tried to imagine Shinobu married for a moment but couldn't really picture it correctly.
Shinobu didn't answer; instead in quick succession she drank down two last beer bottles that Takae put down in front of her. Fuwa waited patiently for an answer and got one.
"No I am not marrying Goto," Shinobu said distastefully, "my mother decided to get the family to help get me married. My mother wants me to have children. What has my mother told you about Goto and me?"
"Your mother just told me that you seem to like this Goto guy. He's the Captain of Division 2 right?" Fuwa answered.
"He's now Captain of Division 1. We should get the new captain of Division 2 soon though but I digress," Shinobu said rather huffily. She went away from the base to forget that Goto even existed, not be reminded of his existence and the problems that they were having.
Fuwa didn't press even further but got another beer from a waiter and placed it in front of Shinobu. This caused Shinobu to frown and feel a bit suspicious. Fuwa had not taken a single drink during their entire conversation but Shinobu had drunk three beers and Fuwa had just placed another in front of her.
"Are you trying to get me drunk?" Shinobu said in a slightly accusing voice, "if that's the case I'm not drinking. I've noticed you're not drinking. You know I blab when I'm drunk."
"No Shinobu I am not trying to get you drunk and I can't drink," Fuwa replied.
"Why can't you drink?"
Fuwa smiled broadly and had a rather smug look on her face. Shinobu felt baffled and looked at Fuwa with a raised eyebrow. Shinobu opened the beer bottle and began to drink it.
"I'm pregnant Shinobu!" Fuwa answered delighted.
"What? When?" Shinobu spat out some of the beer on to the ground in surprise.
"I'm three months pregnant! So are you going to place a bet whether it's a girl or a boy? Everyone's placed theirs already," Fuwa continued clearly enjoying the surprise on Shinobu's face.
"Um... I bet it's a girl," Shinobu answered somewhat dazed.
"Oh you're no fun at all. Subaru and the others have betted money."
"Give it up all ready! You know I always win!" Shinobu said annoyed. It was a little thing that not many people really knew. Despite Shinobu's aversion to gambling she had a knack for choosing the right pick that would win. And she would win all the time. If Goto knew about her little gift he would try to get her tell him all the winning racehorses.
"So it's going to be a girl eh? Yes! That means Subaru, Naoko, Takae and Mori owe me over ten thousand yen each!" Fuwa said ecstatically. Shinobu could only smirk as she imagined the look on their faces if they learned of her prediction.
Fuwa and Shinobu smiled thinking to themselves in silence. Shinobu no longer felt lonely and forgot about the problems that were plaguing her. Shinobu felt the alcohol finally affect her and closed her eyes for a moment.
"So Shinobu. What's with you and this Goto?" Fuwa asked again. The problems once again rushed back into their customary place in Shinobu's mind.
"He's a lazy, shiftless and manipulative jerk. I can't understand him," Shinobu replied. Shinobu then opened her eyes and knew that she would probably regret telling Fuwa what was going on but went on any ways.
Goto sneezed and immediately wiped his nose. He was sitting at his desk listening to the latest rankings of the horse races. He lost another thousand yen on horse number five but he really didn't care much to his amazement. He turned off his radio and removed the earphones. He began to look over folder he just received on some of the new prospective Captains of Division 2. Goto smirked at the idea that someone else would actually be taking the helm of the notorious "Gargoyles of the Gate" but it was necessary now because due to his promotion to Division 1.
Goto fished out a cigarette from his breast pocket and immediately stopped himself from lighting up. He waited for a moment and sighed in frustration.
'Shinobu moved into the Division Chief's office and is not even on base. I've gotten too used to her presence,' Goto thought.
He then immediately light ups the cigarette and took a long drag from it. The smoke lazily curled in the air and Goto laid back into the chair. He then remembered that he had to get his mail and got up from his desk. He went out the office and headed to the mail room, walking in a such a way that many people would wonder how he could even stand to even get up in the morning. It was night and the majority of the engineers were asleep but a few still awake on night shift, Goto quietly wished that they were all asleep though.
"So any dirt on what's going on with Captain Goto and Chief Nagumo?" An engineer asked another in a hushed voice.
"Don't know but I heard that Captain Goto got into an argument with her. I heard it's about her rank or something like that," the other engineer answered.
"Yeah, she's so high up on the rank ladder that Goto can't get anywhere in his relationship with her. Now they're mad at each other."
"That's sounds possible but I bet it's because she's not really giving Goto anything. I mean come on! He's flirted with her, known her for years, and all. One would think she would return the favor. I bet she's playing with him and he doesn't like it."
"That sounds too bitter. There's another one saying she's in love with someone else."
Goto left earshot of the conversation and continued on his way to the mailroom less than pleased to learn that the rumors were still flying on base. He entered the mailroom and went to his box to see what came in. He found a few random letters and advertisement, nothing too terribly important. Goto stood in the mailroom and looked through his letters and began thinking. He had been thinking all too often now but he was starting to get the feeling that what he said to Shinobu was wrong. How could he be wrong? Maybe he just felt a bit guilty for getting her mad at him or was it because he erred in his judgement?
'I didn't make a mistake though,' Goto argued in his head.
Are you trying to convince yourself or me?' His conscience asked.
That did not make Goto feel any better. He felt almost frantic to find an excuse to support his irrational feeling that Shinobu was not ready. He knew it was wrong but it was to protect her was it not? Goto went over to her mailbox ignoring his conscience opposition and looked in to see what was inside. There was a single letter and Goto picked it up and looked at it.
To Division Chief Nagumo Shinobu, Special Vehicle Division Second Section.
High security visitation:
Tsuge Yukihito. Prisoner #73842.
Permission Granted. Information held within.
Goto felt his blood boil and felt absolute loathing after reading Tsuge's name on the letter. Goto resisted the urge to rip the letter up into small pieces but reminded himself that Shinobu would see that he was right in the end when she saw Tsuge. Everything will go back to normal and she, no, they would finally be able to move on with life. Things would return to normal and she would forget about Tsuge.
'She will not forget him. She never forgets those who she loves most. Is that why you care about her and why you fear Tsuge?' his conscience asked.
Goto deemed it unnecessary to answer and went to the Section Chief's office to drop the letter off on Shinobu's desk.
The conversation had snowballed into a confession of sorts from Shinobu to Fuwa. Fuwa listened in silence until Shinobu had finished. It was quite a bit the loneliness, the frustration and argument with Goto, the letter from Tsuge and finally Shinobu's mother and the arranged marriage.
"That's quite a bit on your chest Shinobu," Fuwa managed to say after listening.
"I hate him," Shinobu finally said. She looked down and wondered if she really hated Goto. It wasn't hate but it was more like sheer utter frustration.
"You don't hate him Shinobu. It's what I would call a 'lovers quarrel'."
"I am not in love with him!" Shinobu shouted accidentally attracting the attention of a few other people. Shinobu lowered her voice immediately and felt embarrassed.
"And you still love Tsuge?" Fuwa asked ignoring Shinobu's outburst.
".... That's beside the point."
"No it's exactly the point. I think Goto is jealous."
The thought of Goto being jealous because of Tsuge was just too far fetched for Shinobu to really comprehend. Shinobu laughed out loud and tried desperately to contain her laugher.
"What's so funny Shinobu?" Fuwa asked, "it's rather serious. I mean he's more than willing to shed blood over this."
"Sorry it's just that, he's not like that at all and Goto is hardly the jealous type to try to keep me away from Tsuge," Shinobu said. The thought was ridiculous to the extreme; Fuwa didn't know what she was talking about at all.
"My husband Makoto acted like that whenever I so much as looked at another man the first year we started dating. It was incredibly frustrating but we talked it out and managed to solve it. You know how Makoto is like, he's hardly the type to become excessively protective or obsessive with me," Fuwa continued ignoring Shinobu's claim.
"Sorry Fuwa but Goto is hardly like your husband Makoto," Shinobu answered. Shinobu face was flushed a bit red from the alcohol she had consumed and smiled amused. The conversation was quite amusing, if she hadn't known better Shinobu would be tempted to say that Fuwa was trying to say that Goto was in love with her. How can you love someone you don't trust?
"And how would you know? After you all you admitted yourself you don't know much about him, so how much do you know about Goto?" Fuwa asked in a tone of voice driving to prove a point.
Shinobu didn't answer and got up from her seat. She didn't need to hear this. She knew perfectly well what her relationship with Goto was like and it was nothing like Fuwa was trying to shape it into.
"It's late and I need to go home," Shinobu answered. Fuwa sighed in frustration and stood up as well.
"Shinobu will you stop trying to ignore it all ready? I mean you obviously care about this man. The way you talked about him, even if you said you hated him..." Fuwa didn't get to finish her sentence.
"It's simply not like that. He's being a stubborn idiot then I'll be stubborn as well," Shinobu answered.
"That's not the greatest way to solve your problem with him. Stop running away and acting like children," Fuwa continued but by the time she finished her sentence Shinobu had left the bar. Fuwa sat down and pouted sulkily. Takae came by to clear the table and opened his mouth.
"I assume your paying for Shinobu's drinks?" Takae asked. He pointed to the six empty beer bottles that Shinobu had drunk.
"What?! I don't make that much money! Shinobu come back here!"
Shinobu was unhappy. That was mild way of describing her feelings at that moment. She returned to work today and she did not look forward to seeing Goto. Her talk with Fuwa had not helped one bit and her mother was driving her up the walls. Shinobu decided to make it a personal mission to live on base for as long as possible until Keiko gave up on the ridiculous idea of getting Shinobu into an arranged marriage.
"I rather kiss Fuwa and get married to her than go on an omiai,"Shinobu muttered as she opened the door to her office. The door swung open and let Shinobu in. The room was clean and dustless with two pictures of previous Division Chiefs lining the wall. Shinobu wondered when her picture would line the walls and if future Division Chiefs would admire or deride her past achievements. She pushed those thoughts out of her mind and set it on the task of prepping up her desk for a long and she meant that as in three months stay on the SV2 base. Something then caught Shinobu eye as she approached her desk. On the desk was a single letter, it was unopened and placed on the middle of her desk. Shinobu went over and picked up, she then read the address and her face quietly went white as she read it again. Without hesitation Shinobu ripped open the letter and read it.
Goto had been walking down the walkway and watched from the doorway of the Division Chief's office. Shinobu's back faced him but he could see her standing in front of her desk with the letter. He felt regret for leaving it on her desk rather than destroying it but this was the only way to prove to her that Tsuge was nothing more than an unhappy and destructive era of her life that she needed to forget. He looked at her brown hair tied into its customary ponytail and her new blue uniform that all Division Chiefs' wore. She looked different to Goto for some strange reason but she was still beautiful.
Shinobu had no idea Goto was watching her. She read the letter and to make it short it stated that her visitation time would be on June 10 at two p.m. That was less than a month's time and then she would see Tsuge again. Shinobu thought she would feel dread that she was going to see Tsuge or something but amazingly she felt a sort of perverse feeling of confidence. This undoubtedly would cause some sort of reaction out of Goto and Shinobu took some comfort knowing that her visit to Tsuge would shake Goto up a bit. Shinobu allowed a small smile to appear on her face and turned around. She then saw Goto standing at her doorway. He had no reaction on his face but his eyes were riveted on her in a slightly maniacal way. She stopped smiling immediately and stared back at him with a less than benevolent look.
Goto noted the smile on her face before it left and felt very much alone. Tsuge still had her and she only saw Tsuge. Always Tsuge and no one else. He should have destroyed the letter while he had the chance but now he was too late. Goto walked away from the office doors with a darkened look in his eyes. His face didn't change the slightest bit but it changed to a certain degree due to the dark look in his eyes.
Shinobu's perverse feeling of confidence was shattered by the look in Goto's eyes. She felt sorry for Goto but there was no nothing to say. The time of words had passed and actions could only salve the wounds but even that was too late. Shinobu quietly came to correct conclusion that she should of listen to Fuwa.