Title: Kato on the Shore
Fandom: The Green Hornet (2011)
Disclaimer: These characters are not and will never be my property. Also this has nothing to do with the Murakami novel, I just thought the title was catchy.
Summary: Despite his many misgivings, Kato went back to therapy.
Kato on the Shore
. . .
Dr. Helena Marko wore cat eye glasses and had a consultation room the size of a mini squash court. Some undoubtedly overpriced interior decorator had transformed it into an Oriental oasis, earthy shades with a shit ton of orchid and an actual indoor waterfall. The floors were rich dark wood, and ornate bookshelves lined the pale green walls, radiating a sense of peace and comfort which unfortunately did not extend to the ergonomically designed chair Kato was sitting on.
"What would you say is the central problem in your relationship with Mr. Reid?" she asked, pen poised above a yellow writing pad that clashed with everything in the room.
Kato shifted in his seat to instill some feelings back into his ass cheeks. "What exactly do you mean by 'relationship'?"
Dr. Marko clicked her tongue. "Now, Kato, we agreed not to enter that defensive space."
"It's like having a brother," Kato said, defaulting to familiar griping territory. "A stupid and immature brother who breaks all your toys then demands you make more."
"You seem quite bothered by this."
Kato ran through a variety of responses in his head and settled for, "The nuns at the orphanage always said I didn't know how to share."
"And how did that make you feel?"
He blinked, once, twice, thrice, but the earnest expression on her face failed to change.
"Are you serious?"
"This isn't going to work if you don't meet me halfway," Dr. Marko said in a mildly disapproving tone. It reminded him uncomfortably of Sister Mary Therese back at the orphanage, who had never let him get away with anything ever.
"Okay, then," Kato said. "You try being half-Japanese mutt in the slums of 1980s Shanghai, see how feelings work out for you."
"Ah," said the doctor, jotting something down on her legal pad.
It was Lenore who had given him the number for Dr. Helena "How does the inner you feel today?" Marko when Kato had trailed into the office Monday morning mumbling about what an incredibly wronged existence he led. He had spent the previous night neck-deep in wires and circuits trying to install a fully functional communication system inside the Black Beauty so they wouldn't have to go through that bullshit with the sushi-USB in the future. He was not keen on a repeat performance of the kind any time in the next century.
Kato was verbally and explicitly condemning Bill Gates and his mountains of cash to an eternal inferno when Britt shambled into the garage, blinked stupidly, and said, "Why don't you just get a Mac, man?" at which point Kato nearly brained him with a wrench.
In another minute he began wishing that he had because of course—of course—this was the part where Britt launched into a series of increasingly improbable suggestions regarding their arsenal of gadgets. Try though he might, Kato knew he would never be able to communicate to Britt the difference between wishing something were true and doing the work to realize that wish. Though it would make his life infinitely easier, he regrettably could not punch through a cabinet door every time he wanted Britt to shut his incessant blithering for the five seconds it would take Kato to reach his Zen place and figure out a way to bail their asses out of certain death.
Lenore, apparently sufficiently Xanax'd that day, took one second away from her ruthless scale up the ladder of the news world to be a decent human being and listen to his rant before handing him a card. It was jasmine-scented and subtly ridged and printed in some font called Calluna Sans Light. In retrospect, Kato felt he should have seen some of this crap coming.
One very late night Kato emptied his seventh Red Bull of the day and suddenly realized that he had practically been living in Britt's basement for weeks. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been home or which potted plant he had buried his spare key in. If the soccer moms next door saw him rolling up on his bike they might call 911 thinking an Asian gang war was about to break out on their front lawns. He worried about the interior state of his refrigerator, and had an uncomfortable feeling he might have once owned a cat.
"Yo, dude! What's the haps?"
Kato engaged in a brief breathing exercise and took cold comfort in the knowledge that everything in this room down to the Styrofoam cup on his desk could be used as a lethal weapon. "Just working on some stuff," he muttered. He was certain the possibility of killing a man with his mind couldn't be ruled out of the human condition just because he had never given it sufficient mental application.
Britt waddled over, making that dim-witted expression Kato had promised himself a million years ago not to find endearing. "You ever take a break, man? Just hang loose once in awhile? Throw down the wrench?" He brayed with laughter. "Get it, because you use wrenches?"
"No," Kato said. Kato took jokes very well but always let Britt think he missed the point completely because it was one of the things keeping Britt's world from collapsing all around him.
"First time for everything," Britt said, and sounded worryingly excited. "You got to learn to live a little. How about joining me for Movie Night? I have something awesome lined up." He paused and wagged his eyebrows rhythmically to heighten the anticipation. "My dad never used to let me watch this movie, like it personally offended him or something."
Kato began to decline but thought better of it. Britt naturally had his rec room tricked out with the best entertainment tech money could buy, and Movie Night was realistically one of the less migraine-inducing activities they could enjoy together on a Friday night. At least that was what he thought until he realized that Britt's favorite movie was Batman and Robin. While his controversial-at-best opinions of Mr. Reid Sr. could probably fill several hardback novels, this was a subject on which Kato felt they could see eye to eye.
But Kato was already semi-dead on his feet so he planted himself on the couch anyway, maintaining only nominal consciousness to say, "No," and, "Absolutely not," and, "Not on your father's grave," every time Britt got misty-eyed over something like Batskates or Batsurfboards and turned to Kato with imploring looks. From what he'd been told this movie also featured something called 'Batnipples'. Kato just did not even want to know.
He nodded off for real at some indeterminate point and regained awareness to R. Kelly singing about how peaceful Gotham City was. He could feel the softness of a pillow beneath his head, a thick afghan pulled up to his neck, and a flutter of warm air on his right cheek. Britt's face was uncomfortably close to his; highlighted by the ghostly glow of the television, his normally bovine eyes had turned an eerie hazel which Kato also promised himself not to find fascinating.
"Two words," Britt whispered suspensefully. "Jetpacks."
"That's one word," Kato mumbled before rolling over and going back to sleep, where his vivid dream of committing seppuku with Lenore's Jimmy Choos beckoned in surreal majesty.
When he woke up the sun was drilling a hole through both of his rubber eyelids. He peeled them open with the help of his fingers to find a tousled brown head cradled on his right shoulder, and for one surreal moment wondered if he had had a date and forgot about it. Then the faint snoring clued him in, cementing Kato's suspicion that so much time spent in life-or-death situations had effectively obliterated their concept of boundaries, not that Britt had possessed any to begin with. He rubbed the grit out of his eyes and prayed he could go back to sleep and wake up in China, before carefully disentangling himself and slouching into the kitchen for the first latte of the day.
Despite his many misgivings, Kato went back to therapy. Not because he didn't enjoy what he did but because he had enough self-awareness to know that a man who regularly dressed up as a vigilante chauffeur to infiltrate criminal syndicates clearly had issues.
"This isn't how my life was supposed to turn out," he found himself saying one afternoon. Outside the window Los Angles was upbeat and unrelentingly sunny which only seemed to illustrate his point in high definition. "I grew up on the streets, I got degrees with honors from Caltech. I can do better than to be this idiot's combat butler slash babysitter."
Dr. Marko stared at him over the rims of her glasses. "Combat butler?"
"That came out wrong," Kato said hurriedly. "I meant bodyguard. You know, since he's billionaire playboy and all. So I'm his bodyguard… occasionally. Like on special occasions."
"I don't know, Kato," Dr. Marko said. "It doesn't seem like you placed much importance on professional achievements even prior to working for Mr. Reid. I'm given to understand that you used to work as a mechanic for the late Mr. Reid, am I correct?"
"I… like cars?" Kato said lamely.
"And now, your official position is…?"
"Chauffeur," Kato said, though the very sound crucified him.
"Ah," Dr. Marko said eloquently, and jotted something else down on her legal pad.
"I also make coffee," Kato offered, though just saying the sentence crippled his will to live.
"And does your sense of discontentment extend to the quality of your work?"
"Not really," he said. "I make great coffee. I mean, I make really fucking amazing coffee, you should try it sometime."
For the first time since they'd met, the professionally snobbish expression disappeared from Dr. Marko's face, supplanted by a smile of astonishing width and generosity. "Well, Kato, I think we've finally made a breakthrough."
"Really?" Kato asked, hoping this might disperse the pervasive sense of awfulness that had settled over his life like a cumulonimbus of nonsensical shit.
"Yes," Dr. Marko beamed. "Now what we need to work on is a healthy way for you to learn to compromise for the sake of your significant other without sacrificing your personal integrity. The next step I believe would be to have Mr. Reid come in for a joint session."
Kato leapt out of his chair. "My what?" He clawed at his face in epiphany, muttering, "Oh my God," and basically bolted out the door.
It was all he could do not to go all Kato-vision on the freeway and redefine the meaning of road rage, and by the time he reached the newly reconstructed Daily Sentinel building, had only just enough patience to run up to Lenore and said, "You recommended me to a total hack." It was seven thirty in the evening so naturally the entire staff was present, every one of whom to turning to stare at Kato in the wake of his outburst.
"Dr. Marko is very good," Lenore argued. "She helped me get through my failed engagement."
"She thinks the dork and me are boyfriends!" he hissed in the lowest decibels possible.
Lenore's eyes narrowed in a very pretty but condescending way. "You're not?"
"Why would you think that?"
"It's fine if you don't want to bother with terminologies," Lenore said sympathetically. "I mean, the only thing that really counts is that you two are -" She paused, and clapped her elbows together meaningfully. "- right?"
Kato stared at her, appalled. "What?"
Lenore stared back at him, disbelieving. "You're really not?"
"How is that a good prospect?" Kato boggled. "I always get caught up in his nonsense."
Lenore smirked in her awesomely wicked way. "If by nonsense you mean genitals," she said, and Kato said, "Guh," and left the room.
He attempted to hide in the kitchenette but it was a lost cause since Lenore just followed him, pencil-thin heels clicking a menacing melody on the marble tiles that reminded Kato of the Jaws theme. "If you two are really not up to any hanky-panky then why did you go see Dr. Marko?" she asked. "It says right there on her card that she's a relationship counselor, didn't you see?"
Quietly, Kato felt all his vital essences leave his body.
Lenore's expression softened into mild concern. It was very strange, and Kato wondered if all this emotional investment meant that she was finally having some success in her own love life. He suspected that she and Axford were having some kind of illicit office affair thing.
"Don't be so hard on yourself. Britt seems like—and may actually be—an overgrown child, but deep down inside I'm sure he's also looking for The One just like everybody else."
Kato was strongly tempted to argue that Britt's strategy for finding The One was to make headlines with his substance-fueled irresponsible frat boy antics. Admittedly this method had not worked out stellarly for him thus far. He did not particularly want to accept this as fact because if that were true then as a corollary Kato's strategy for finding his The One must be binging on Cowboy Bebop and crying into his Faye Valentine pillow every night.
"If all else fails," Lenore went on, "consider Valium."
"You know, I think I will stick with Dr. Marko for awhile," Kato said bleakly. "I've suddenly developed strong suicidal feelings."
In what seemed like no time at all it was Friday again, and Kato was (as usual) working on some revolutionary and unimaginably complex project. Britt was (as usual) hovering and generally making a pest of himself, how incredibly appropriate. The LA underworld had been suspiciously quiet of late, which indicated that things were about to explode in their faces in a spectacularly messy and unpleasant fashion. The worst part was that he was almost looking forward to it.
Britt had just abused his eardrums yelling, "This shit is the balls!" for the eleventh time when Kato apparently went crazy and slammed his fist on the worktable, denting the surface. "Stop!" he shouted, making Britt jump away from him in fright. "Just stop! I can't take it anymore. Stop this, stop everything, stop being… you. Stop."
"What's the deal with you?" Britt asked anxiously.
"This is way too stressful," Kato said miserably. "I don't want to be your boyfriend anymore."
Britt made a noise that sounded like he was choking. "Since when were we boyfriends?"
"Exactly! So tell me why I am, for the nth time in a row, spending my Friday night cleaning up after your stupid thick-headed existence?"
"Because we're partners?" Britt said, confused. "Isn't it like a shoong dee thing?"
"No, no, no." Kato buried his face in his hand, more hopeless than ever. "This is definite not xiong di thing." He could literally feel himself losing his assiduous grasp on the English language, which was always a sign that the situation was dire.
Britt frowned like he was actually capable of intelligent mental processes. "Are you having another episode like that time you threw a hissy fit and quit on me? Because I got to say, Kato, that shit gets old real fast, and I'm starting to think you're tripping balls or some shit."
Kato scoffed. "I should get an unlimited number of free passes just for dealing with you and all your talk about getting 'balls-deep in dudes'."
"Balls-deep in attacking dudes, man," Britt said, going a terrible but apt color green that he should really consider incorporating into his costume. "Balls-deep in attacking dudes."
"Stop saying 'balls'!" Kato snapped, making a hand gesture simultaneously conveyed how much he hated this stupidity and Britt for bringing it down upon his soul. "Aren't you supposed to be billionaire playboy? Why aren't you out balling skanks and shooting heroin into your eyeballs like all other rich douchebags?"
"I do!" Britt protested. "Well, I used to. I don't have the time anymore, okay?"
Something in Kato's head clicked like the solution to a math problem. "Why is this my life?" he asked, of no one in particular.
"You know, because we're out fight crimes," Britt insisted obliviously. "Together. Every night. You know."
Silence fell like an old lady in a Lifeline commercial. Britt blinked at him helplessly, and also looked desperately in need of a hug. Kato was beginning to realize this may be the root of the problem.
"So you're stressed," Britt said, enunciating each word carefully. "It's true, we've been working, like, way too hard lately. Maybe we should take a vacation. Do you like Cancun? The Cayman Islands?"
Kato nodded in vague assent. A trip to the beach sounded like exactly what he needed. If he planned it well enough he might be eaten by a tiger shark, and then no one would make him deal with Britt or Dr. Marko or stupid Lenore and her filthy gestures ever again.
"Okay, I'll hook it all up so you just… chill out, alright?" Britt said cautiously. "And don't call me stupid, man, I have feelings."
"Okay," Kato grunted.
"So… want to watch another movie?"
Now completely beyond caring, Kato followed Britt into the rec room where he shot down his initial suggestion (Teen Wolf) and made him put on Shaolin Soccer. Inevitably he fell asleep before the ending and woke up in the morning with a damp patch of drool on his shoulder. Britt surprisingly was nowhere to be seen, but there was a silver tray on the table next to the sofa containing a cup of some brindled brown liquid. Kato was planning Britt's slow agonizing death for desecrating such an instrument of art and fine precision when he saw the note, written in Britt's scrawled hand:
OFFICE BOOKING FLIGHT.
DIDN'T WANT TO WAKE YOU. – B.R.
It was Saturday morning, blousy and somewhat fragmented, off-center, the sunlight softly diffused through the half-curtained window. Kato was certain he would end up in the hospital if he so much as sipped at the toxic substance on the breakfast tray, but what the hell. He cracked his neck lazily, thought about white sand and startlingly blue water, and wondered if Britt would be any less annoying in a tropical climate, if he might be able to marginalize that tendency by pulling on the curls of hair at the nape of his neck. It was effective on his possibly mythical cat.
. . .