"Haru!" Max said with a small laugh and went over to the man. "What are you doing back here?"
Haru looked at Max is disbelief and said, "Did you forget already? I told you I was coming back to do a check up on the child I saw to yesterday." Haru looked down at Nokoru who was staring up at him with an accusing look in his eyes. "May I help you?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.
"You don't look like a doctor." Nokoru answered, frowning up at the person.
Haru laughed and said, "Well, I'm sorry if it's supposed to be my day off today and I'm not dressed in my doctor's coat. May I ask who you are?"
"Haru," Max said, "This is Nokoru and Suoh," He pointed to the boys respectively, "They're Akira's, the boy who you treated yesterday, friends."
"Is that so?" Haru asked and Nokoru nodded with his arms crossed in front of his chest. Suoh was in the background shaking his head as he sighed at Nokoru's antics. Haru smiled and knelt down to look Nokoru in the eyes. "You don't have to worry." He said warmly, "I really am a doctor and I'm just here to help your friend-Akira was it?" He looked at Max who nodded.
"Prove it." Nokoru said stubbornly. "Or else I'm not letting you near Akira." He stuck out his chin stubbornly and stood firm in front of the door. It was a rather funny site since he was also trying to keep the shirt from falling off his shoulders while keeping his arms crossed.
Haru sighed and stood up, turning to Max for help. With a small chuckle to himself, Max went over and put his hand on Nokoru's head saying, "I'm aware that you're suspicious, but he's been my good friend for many years and I went to school with him. I saw him graduate at the top of his class and I hired him because he's probably one of the best doctors I know."
"I'm one of the only doctors you know because you're paranoid that if I'm not your doctor than whoever else is will give you faulty medicine that will kill you." Haru said with a snort. Max looked at him and pouted.
"That's not fair." Max said. "I'm praising your skills and you make fun of me. Maybe I won't let you go in and see Akira if you keep being mean to me."
"They're acting like kids." Suoh whispered to Nokoru who covered his mouth to hide a laugh as he nodded.
"I like them," Nokoru whispered back, "They're funny. Not the other adults who are too serious all the time." Nokoru coughed and said in a loud voice so he could be heard, "Alright, I believe you now. Anyone who acts like you two do when you're grown up must be good people."
Haru and Max blinked for a few times before Haru asked, "Does that mean I can go in now?" Nokoru giggled a little and nodded as he stepped aside. Haru bowed to him and Suoh before he opened the door to the room and shut it behind him.
"Alright, now that that's settled," Max said while looking at the two boys who turned towards him when he started speaking, "You two are all dirty again so I guess it's time for another bath."
"We're dirty?" Nokoru asked as he looked himself over. Suoh did as well and they turned confused eyes towards Max who smiled gently and said, "Yes, you won't think so because of how you used to live but in this house, we like to be clean which means no food spilled all over us and baths or a shower each night."
"Every night?" Nokoru asked with wide eyes. Max nodded and took one of Nokoru's hands and one of Suoh's before leading them into the room Nokoru had slept in before and into that room's bathroom. The two boys watched as Max started letting the water run into the tub and once it got warm, he put the plug in that would keep the water from going down the drain so the bathtub could fill up. He turned on the other faucets around the tub so it could fill up faster since the tub was so large.
It took a few minutes for the tub to become full but once it did, Max turned off the faucets and turned towards Suoh and Nokoru. "Shirts off and get into the tub." Max told them gently but sternly and he turned around to get the bath things they would need on the shelves. All the bathrooms were identical and had heated tiles that were checkered in a black and white pattern so the floor wouldn't' be too cold in the winter. He heard splashing sounds and little yelps.
"You alright?" Max asked and looked at the boys. He saw them slowly going lower in the water with looks of both determination and a small amount of pain because the water was so hot. "Is it too hot?" Max asked as he walked over with the bath things. "I can make it a little colder if you want."
"No," Nokoru said through gritted teeth as he went in the whole way. "It feels good but we've never been in water this hot before so it takes a little getting used to." Max smiled at the answer and a little bigger when the looks on both Suoh's and Nokoru's faces turned to ones of pleasure at the feel of the hot water. "By the way," Nokoru said, "Why do we have to take a bath and Akira doesn't? He's dirty too."
"Haru's taking that." Max answered. "If you three take one together when one of you is sick then there's a chance of the other's getting sick as well." Nokoru and Suoh's faces got a look of understanding on them and watched as Max poured something into the water that smelled like lavender and created many bubbles in the water that clung to Suoh and Nokoru when the boys touched them.
Haru shut the door to the room and made his way over to the sleeping boy. He set his bag down and took out his stethoscope before listening to Akira's heartbeat. He smiled at Akira when the boy slowly opened his eyes because of the chill of the stethoscope against his skin.
"Who're you?" Akira asked with a yawn. He didn't know why but knew that the person in front of him wasn't bad and had no bad intentions. He had no idea that he was able to detect if anyone wanted to hurt him or his friends and had any bad intentions and he wouldn't find that out until later on in life.
"My name is Haru, and Max called me to come over and help you since I'm a doctor." Haru said with a kind smile and then said, "Take a deep breath please."
Akira did as he was told and then said, "You don't look like a doctor."
Haru smiled and shook his head before saying, "Your friend said the same thing earlier. Here, place this under your tongue and hold it there for me." He placed a thermometer in Akira's mouth and watched the boy do as he was told. "I'll be right back, don't' take that out of your mouth until I tell you, alright?" Akira nodded and watched Haru open the door to the bathroom and listened as water started running.
A few moments later, Haru came back out and took the thermometer out of Akira's mouth and looked at it. "Well, your fever's going down but it's not completely gone yet. It should be gone by sometime tomorrow if you take your medicine, get some rest and drink lots of water. Understand?" Akira nodded and Haru smiled before pouring some medicine into a spoon and handing it to the boy who took it and swallowed before making a face at the taste.
"Yuck," Akira said and stuck out his tongue.
Haru chuckled and patted Akira on the head as he handed the boy a glass of water and said, "I know, I don't like the taste either but at least it will make you better." He took the glass from Akira when the boy was finished and then picked him up and carried him into the bathroom.
"What are you doing?" Akira asked, looking up at Haru with big eyes.
"You need a bath." Haru stated simply. "Your friends are getting one next door as we speak and it's time for you to get one as well."
"Because you're dirty."
"Compared to everyone else in this house, yes."
"Alright, take off the shirt and get into the tub while I get the things we need to get you clean again." He went to get the things and listened as he heard a small splash. When he turned around, Akira's head was the only thing visible and he was watching as Haru gathered everything.
"Is the water the right temperature?" Haru asked and smiled when Akira nodded. "That's good." Haru brought the things over and set them down near the edge before sitting on his knees and saying, "Turn around."
Akira complied and they sat in silence as Haru wet down the boys hair before putting shampoo in it and scrubbing it. "Do you have a family?" Akira asked out of the blue a few minutes later.
"Hmm?" Haru asked. "No, I don't."
"I guess I just haven't found that special someone yet."
"Yeah, a special someone is the one person who you love with your whole heart and want to spend the rest of your life with."
"How will you know if you find them?"
"Well, you get this feeling, almost like you're floating and you could never be happier when you're with them and you get sad when you're away from them. If they're with someone else then you get jealous. You want to be the only one who they look at and you cherish every second you're with them."
"Oh…how do you know what it feels like?"
Haru laughed and asked, "Why all the questions?"
Akira sank lower in the tub until his nose was just above the water and he muttered, "Sorry," causing bubbles to come up to the surface.
"That's alright," Haru said with a smile as he gently rinsed the shampoo from the boy's hair. "I know the feeling only because I've felt it once before when Max and I were in high school." Akira looked up at Haru, waiting for him to tell him what happened. Haru smiled and started the story. "Max and I were in our third year of high school when a new transfer student came to our class.
"When I first saw her, everything else faded away and it was only me and her. She smiled at me when she saw me staring and my heart melted. I knew right then that I liked her, maybe even loved her. In my eyes, she was the most beautiful being on earth. She had long, soft and wavy light brown hair and these big green eyes that lit up when she laughed. Oh, her laugh was the most beautiful sound in the world to me. It was like bells, light and pure. She lit up my life with her smile and laugh.
"For that year, I felt like I was in heaven and nothing could bring me down."
"What was her name?" Akira asked. Haru almost forgot the boy was there and looked down into the big grey eyes that were watching him.
"Maya, Maya Jacobson. She was an angel, perfect in every way."
"So what happened?"
Haru sighed and said, "She fell in love with someone else back in America and moved after that year. When I'd heard that, my heart felt as though it broke into a million pieces and I shut myself in my room for almost a month, mostly staring at a picture of the three of us, her, Max and me. I still regret that I never told her how I felt about her. Had I done that, I might have had a chance with her, but I waited too long and now, now I don't even know where she is or if she married the guy." Tears made their way down Haru's cheeks and he let out a small sob. "I-I should have told her." He was surprised when small arms wrapped around him and he looked down to see Akira, wrapped in a towel since he was drying the boy off during the story, hugging him.
"Don't cry," He said and looked up at Haru with big eyes. For a moment, Haru just stared at Akira but he suddenly hugged the boy close to him and cried. He hadn't cried since the day he found out Maya had left and it felt good to do so now. After a few minutes, Haru finally stopped crying and let go of Akira before he wiped his eyes. He was about to say something but Akira beat him to it by asking "Feel better?" For a moment, all Haru could do was stare at the young boy in front of him who was smiling up at him so brightly.
"W-What?" Haru asked with a small sniff.
"Do you feel better?" Akira asked once more. "You were sad so you cried. Mommy used to tell me that I should cry if I was sad and then I'd feel better." Haru looked at the boy and realized that he was feeling better.
"I guess I do feel better." Haru said and smiled at Akira. "Thank you. It seems that your mother was right." There was silence for a few moments as Haru got a second towel and started drying Akira's hair as he thought about everything that had just happened. "Hey, Akira?" Haru asked the boy quietly.
"What?" Akira asked and tilted his head back until he was looking at Haru upside down.
Haru chuckled and said, "Let's keep this a secret, alright?"
"Why?" Akira asked in confusion.
"I'd rather not let everyone know that I was crying. I'd ruin my reputation at work if they ever found out."
"Alright." They sat in silence once more and when Akira's hair was all dry, Haru carried the boy back into the bedroom and sat him on the bed before he started rifling through the dresser and then closet for him to wear. He finally found something but when he turned back to the bed, Akira was already asleep once more.
Haru chuckled and put another too big shirt on the boy before tucking him back into bed and ruffling his hair slightly. He smiled when Akira turned on his side and snuggled deeper into the blankets. Haru quietly left the room and shut the door with a small click so he wouldn't wake the small boy. When he turned around he nearly jumped to see Max, Nokoru and Suoh right behind him.
"Don't do that to me." Haru said, trying to calm his racing heart.
"Sorry," Max said with a smile. "We were just wondering if you tow would like to join us for dinner."
"I'd love to but Akira fell asleep again so I think it'd be better to just let him sleep." Haru explained and Max nodded in understanding. "Also, about what I talked to you about last night…" Haru started but trailed off when Max held up a hand.
"Not now," He said, "We'll talk after dinner." Haru nodded and Suoh and Nokoru just looked between the two in confusion.
"What were you talking about?" Nokoru asked.
"Don't worry about it." Haru said with a smile at the same time Max said, "I'll tell you later." The two looked at each other and blinked. "Is it fine for them to know?" Haru asked.
Max nodded and said, "Yes, I think they have every right to know." Before Nokoru could say anything, Max turned to him and Suoh and said, "We'll tell you after dinner." Nokoru pouted a little but nodded anyway.
The four went down to dinner as they talked about most everything. Suoh and Nokoru asked a million questions about the house and Man as well as Haru asked about either what good times they remembered from when their family was alive and what it was like the past few years for them.
Those questions continued through dinner, but only after Suoh and Nokoru were done gaping at how much food was before them and at how amazing it smelled. Haru and Max were happy that the two were enjoying themselves and found dinner to be quite entertaining for them.
When it was over, Haru sat back and folded his arms in front of him before looking at Max. "Alright Haru," Max said, now somewhat serious, "What were the results?"
"Results?" Nokoru asked, looking at the two curiously.
Haru looked at Max who turned to the two boys and sighed before saying, "When I asked Haru to come last night, he wanted to make sure that Akira only had a fever so to make sure, he took a few…samples…to test. I assume that he's found out if it was only a fever or not?"
Haru nodded and said, "It was,"
"But?" Max asked, reading the look on Haru's face easily.
"But, it's a little more complicated than that." Haru said. "It's true that the fever was all it was and it was normal, however there is something else."
"What?" Suoh asked.
"Is it really bad?" Nokoru asked, worry showing clearly on his face.
Haru smiled gently at the two and said, "No, it's not really bad but it does need to be watched."
"What is it Haru?" Max asked, wanted his friend to come out and say it.
"All the results said that he has a very low immune system." Haru said to Max.
Max looked relived that it wasn't something terrible and laughed a little at both Suoh's and Nokoru's confused faces. "What does that mean?" Nokoru asked, his head tilted to the right a bit.
"It just means that he can get sick very easily." Max explained.
"If he overtires himself or isn't careful then he can get sick again." Haru said, "The more that he does get sick though, the weaker his immune system gets so he needs to be very careful of what he does and especially if he goes out anywhere."
"Is there any way we can help?" Nokoru asked, meaning him and Suoh.
Haru nodded with a smile and said, "Yes, there is."
"What is it?" Suoh asked.
"You two can make sure that he rests if he gets tired, doesn't push himself too hard, and make sure that he has someone with him when he goes out anywhere besides the garden out back since the staff here can most defiantly keep an eye on him. Also, I wouldn't let him go out in the rain. He can go out if it is raining but not be in the rain since that's a good way to develop another fever. However, you must make sure that you don't overdo it and that you let him live a somewhat normal life. If you are too pushy or overdo it than he might push you away and get mad at you or sneak around and do things you won't let him which is even worse. Alright?"
"…That's a lot." Nokoru said.
"Does that mean you can't do it?" Max asked with a smile.
A look of determination came over both Suoh's and Nokoru's faces and they both said, "We can." At the same time. "I don't' want him to keep getting sick." Nokoru said. "We'll do what you said."
Haru nodded with a warm smile on and said, "Just remember not to overdo it."
"We won't!" Nokoru and Suoh said at the same time once more.
"I'll talk to the staff and make sure they also keep an eye on him." Max said.
"Does that mean we don't' have to leave?" Nokoru asked with wide eyes and Max turned to him.
"Whatever would make you think that you'd have to leave?" He asked.
"I thought that you only let us stay 'cause-"
"Because Akira was sick?" Max finished for the boy and Nokoru looked down before quietly nodded. Max went over and kneeled by Nokoru's chair. He made the blonde boy look at him before he said gently, "How could I make three such wonderful children leave just to go back and live on the streets again? Do you really think that I'm that kind of person?" Nokoru shook his head and smiled. Max turned to Suoh and asked, "What about you? Do you want to stay here?" Suoh smiled and also nodded.
"Wait," Nokoru said and Max turned to him. "How do you know we're all wonderful children if you haven't' even talked to Akira yet?"
Max sweat dropped and said, "Well, he seems like a sweet boy. Besides, I'm going to ask if he also wants to stay here tomorrow when he wakes up so that way I can talk to him once he's all better, alright?" Both boys smiled and nodded.
Not long after that, Haru left and Max showed Nokoru and Suoh back to their rooms before telling them goodnight and going to his own room. The night was quiet as the three boys slept on and not too soon after, Max fell asleep with a smile on his face and dreams of what it was like to be an actual father.
It was early morning when Max woke up because of the ringing in his ears, caused by his discarded cell phone lying on the small table by his bed. He looked at the caller ID and groaned but picked up anyway.
"Andrew, do you know what time it is?" Max asked.
'What?' the voice on the other end of the phone asked in English. 'Come on Max, you know I don't' speak Japanese. Wake up!'
"Huh?" Max asked sleepily. It took a moment or two for what Andrew said to click and he switched over to English. "Sorry Andrew. It's just too early. What do you want?"
'Sorry, I know it's early for you, but I thought you'd like to know we finally signed a deal with XXX (Actual name of a company I made up, not there because I couldn't think of a good name) yesterday.'
"That's great." Max said, more awake now. "Why didn't' you tell me that yesterday instead of so early in the morning."
'I TIRED but you didn't' pick up!" Max flinched at the loud voice.
"Well, why didn't' you call later in the day at least?"
'I would have, but I wasn't' sure if you'd pick up since you didn't' pick up at all yesterday to anyone who called you and when we called your house one of your maids told us that you were busy but she didn't' say with what. Tell me Max, what's going on?'
"…Sorry Andrew. I didn't pick up yesterday because I was busy with my kids."
'…Kids? Max…YOU DON'T HAVE ANY KIDS! I KNOW THAT SO DON'T TRY AND LIE TO ME!'
"Andrew, I'm not lying."
'…You didn't have an-'
"NO I DID NOT!"
'Sorry, sorry, just had to make sure. Anyway, what happened? How do you suddenly have kids?' Max sighed and told Andrew the whole story. For the most part, Andrew was quiet as he listened except for asking a few questions near the beginning. When Max was finished, it was quiet for a while before Andrew asked, 'So these three boys, how old are they, like five?'
"No, one if twelve, one is eleven and the youngest is ten. They're such sweet boys Andrew."
'I'm glad that you're happy Max, but you didn't' truly adopt them so they're not really yours. What will the press do if they find out about this? You know how dangerous this could be for them.'
"I know. Do you think I haven't thought about that? I willing to try, but only if they are. Two of them have agreed to stay but I'm going to ask all three again after I explain what the risks are. If they do agree, then I'm going to fill out all the necessary paperwork and make them part of my family."
"Don't try and talk me out of this Andrew."
'I'm happy for you.'
"I told you that I won't change my-wait, what?"
'I said I'm happy for you. I'm not going to talk you out of this only because you sounded so happy when talking about them that it would be just plain cruel to try and make you give them up. I also just read an e-mail from Haru that told me how happy you were being around them.'
"Haru said that?"
'That, and if I tried to talk you out of keeping them that he'd come over here just to make me agree to let you keep them.' Max blinked a few times before he laughed and after a moment, Andrew joined in. When they finally stopped, Andrew said, 'Anyway, I'm glad you're happy and I'd love to come over and meet them sometime.'
"Sure, just call me in advance so I can get things ready. I'm not sure if they speak English though."
'That's alright, you know I'm starting Japanese and if that fails, you can always be the translator. Oh, sorry Max, I have to go now. Bye!' Andrew hung up before Max could say anything.
He chuckled to himself and got out of bed before getting ready for the day. When he was finished, he looked at the clock which read 6:45 am. He sighed and asked himself, "Why did Andrew have to call so early? Now I'll never be able to get back to sleep." Anime tears fall from his eyes as he dragged himself down to the library and sank into one of the multiple puffy chairs that were settled around the big room.
Max picked up a discarded book lying innocently next to his chair and he started to flip through it. Minutes passed and his eyelids started to grow heavy once more. Before he knew what was happening, he was fast asleep in the chair, the book dangling from his hand before it slipped out and hit the carpeted floor with a dull thud.
Soft snores could be heard through the closed doors of the library and all the staff who passed there let out a small smile or chuckled when they heard it.
It was late morning when Max finally woke up. After a few minutes of sitting and staring at nothing, he yawned and got up, hearing the joints in his back pop as he did so from sleeping in a strange position. Nearly forgetting about the call with Andrew, he headed down the stairs in search of some breakfast since his growling stomach told him it was time to eat. When he got downstairs, he found Suoh, Nokoru and Akira already eating.
"Ah, I'm glad you three are here." Max said with a smile. "I want to ask you something."
"What is it?" Nokoru asked before he gulped down the rest of the apple juice in his glass.
Max sat in a chair across from the three and turned serious. "I want to know if you three want to stay here with me." He held up a hand when Nokoru opened his mouth. "Before you answer, I want to know what might happen if you agree. As you know, I'm a rich man, but along with many good things that come with it, many people also want to hurt me, and they may try and get to me by using the one's I care about and if you agree, than this will apply to you. I do have bodyguards and security working for me, but there are some who may slip past them."
He looked the three in the eye before he continued, "It may be dangerous for you if you agree and I'm not going to force you to stay if you don't' want to take that risk. I just wanted to make that clear before you decided anything." He looked down at the table with his hands folded in his lap and waited for their answer. He heard a chair scrape and footsteps a few moments before a small tug came on his arm. He looked down and his brown eyes met big grey ones.
"Is that why you don't' have a family?" Akira asked. Max raised an eyebrow and picked the boy up before setting him on his lap and looking at him before asking, "How did you know I don't have a family?" Akira pointed over at Suoh and Nokoru who were suddenly very interested in the last of the food on their plates.
Max grinned and said, "Yes, that is why." Three pairs of eyes looked at him and he said, "I'm scared that they might get hurt, and I don't' want that. I could never forgive myself if they got hurt because of me; the same with the three of you. That's why I'm letting you choose. I don't want to make you stay if you don't' want to." He was surprised when he felt three sets of arms wrap around him. One around his neck, one on his left side and another on his right.
"We want to stay with you." Nokoru said. "You're the first one whose been nice to us in a long time."
"If you're worried, you can teach us how to defend ourselves." Suoh said.
"You're a nice person." Akira said, "Maybe you can be like our new dad." The three smiled up at him and Max felt a warmth in his heart he didn't' remember feeling before. He laughed and pulled all three into a hug.
"Thank you," He whispered to the three, tears of joy running down his face. "You don't' know how much this means to me." After a few minutes, he let the three go and said, "Now, how about later today we go out and make it official?"
"Make what official?" Nokoru asked.
"Adopting you." Max said and the three faces in front of him radiated happiness. As soon as the three were dressed (Max had a set of clothes for each boy made until they could buy more) he loaded them into one of his cars (not a limo) and drove into town. Once all the paperwork was done, Max took them out to get them more clothes and shoes that would fit.
Each store they went to, all the sale's ladies squealed at how adorable the three were and at how handsome Max was. They dragged the boys over to the clothes that would fit them and piled them up with mountains of clothes before pushing them into the dressing rooms so they could make sure the clothes fit.
By the time they were done with that, none of the three boys seemed to want to go into any more shops, scared of the sales ladies and what they might do. Max smiled when he saw that Akira was getting tired, so he picked the boy up. "You look tired." Max said when the ten year old looked at him.
"Why does he not have to walk?" Nokoru whined.
"Because he look right about to fall asleep while you seem to be full of energy still." Max said, smiling down at the now pouting blond. 'I'm glad I found them.' Max thought happily as he watched Nokoru and Suoh get into an argument about something. 'They're all good kids.' He smiled softly when he felt Akira wrap his arms around his (Max's) neck and lay his head on his (Max's) shoulder. 'They're also so cute. I wouldn't trade them for all the money in the world.'