Author's Note: Hi folks! To those who read So Close Yet Still Far, this is the sequel that I promised to make. Characters are somehow OOC here but there's a reason for it. Please read and review! Thanks! :D
Chapter 1: If You Ever Come Back
It was a sunny day at the airport of Shinjuku, Japan. A young brown-haired woman with a brown-haired child was walking to the main gate of the airport with their black suitcases so they could wait for their relatives to pick them up.
"Naoki, did you get dizzy from the airplane?" the thirty-year-old Jeri Katou, wearing her yellow blouse with black slacks and black shoes, asked a small boy with brown hair and caramel eyes.
"Yes, Mommy! But I didn't make throw-up!" Jeri's son named Naoki answered.
"Good! Now all we have to do is wait for Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Masahiko to pick us up!" Jeri said as she dusted her son's blue shirt and grey pants.
"Thank you, Mommy!" Naoki said with a smile.
Jeri smiled and wore her sunglasses once again as she stood in front of the airport waiting.
She came all the way from Los Angeles, California after working for almost five years in a publishing company with her four-year-old son, Naoki Katou. She was sent there because she got an offer to work there as an advertising manager. However, along with her return was a secret that she could not reveal as of this moment.
As I look through my little boy, I can't help but feel the pain his father caused, Jeri thought as the light red eyes of her son reminded her of someone who used to be important in her life.
Not long after, Jeri heard a honking sound of a car. As she looked to her left, she saw a yellow van driving towards them. A tall, brown-haired and smiling young man with fair complexion alighted and Jeri recognized him as Masahiko Katou, her stepbrother. Following him was a tall and medium built man and Jeri recognized him as her father Tadashi Katou.
"Masahiko!" Jeri exclaimed as Masahiko reached her and her son. "I missed you!"
"Sis, I missed you too! What's up?" Masahiko asked and he hugged Jeri. Suddenly, his gaze went to Naoki. "Anyway, is this Naoki? How big you have grown, buddy!"
"Thanks, Uncle!" Naoki chuckled.
"How are you, dear brother?" Jeri asked as they broke away.
"I'm good!" Masahiko replied. "I'll help you with your bags, Sis!"
"Thanks, Masahiko!" Jeri answered and saw her father who approached her. "Daddy!"
"How's my girl?" Tadashi Katou asked while hugging her.
"I'm good, Daddy. Here's your grandson, Naoki!" Jeri replied.
"Wow! I can't believe it! The last time we talked, your son's still a baby! Now, I'm seeing a four-year-old kid!" Tadashi grinned at Jeri and scooped Naoki in his arms. "Hello, Naoki!"
"Hello, Grandpa!" Naoki chuckled.
"I know that, Daddy! Come on, Naoki!" Jeri said while getting her son down so he could walk while Masahiko was carrying their bags. Mr. Katou eventually went to the van.
Jeri let Naoki climb in the car and she went to the back so she could load her bags as well as Naoki's.
"You have a girlfriend now?" Jeri asked as she placed her suitcase on one side.
"Not yet, Sis!" Masahiko replied with a grin. "I'm still trying to find my lucky girl!"
"Good luck with that!" Jeri cheered. "Come on, brother!"
Masahiko closed the back door and followed Jeri to the car. They hopped in the side doors so they could be both sitting beside Naoki. When they got inside, Jeri noticed that her stepmother was not with them.
"Bro, where's Mom?" Jeri asked, referring to her stepmother Shizue Katou.
"She's at home. When she learned that you're coming home, she volunteered to cook food for you!" Masahiko answered.
"Wow! What about her and Dad?" Jeri whispered.
Masahiko's face suddenly became glum and Jeri figured that her stepmother and her father were still not in good terms for two years. Jeri remembered the very day Shizue went to her house in Los Angeles because of that.
Five years ago, Jeri was typing in her home in Los Angeles when she heard the doorbell ring. When she walked to the doorway and opened the door, she saw her stepmother who was crying in pain.
"Jeri!" Shizue said sadly.
"Mom!" Jeri said and hugged her stepmother. "What brings you here?"
"It's your father!" Shizue Katou exclaimed.
"What did Daddy do?" Jeri asked as she continued hugging Mrs. Katou.
"He's cheating on me!" Mrs. Katou wailed.
"What?" Jeri asked in disbelief. Her voice was very loud at this point.
"Yes! You heard me! He's cheating on me!" Mrs. Katou repeated.
"What? Why? How?" Jeri could not believe it.
"I don't know about it, Jeri! But you have to be careful with Takato now that you're working miles away from him!" Mrs. Katou answered sadly.
END OF FLASHBACK
Jeri was still silent after that memory refreshed in her mind. The young man saw his stepsister spacing out so he thought of something to divert the topic as the yellow van slowly made its way from the airport.
"So, Sis! How's L.A.?" Masahiko asked.
Jeri's mind returned to reality and focused her gaze on her stepbrother.
"Fine. But work's so tiring so I resigned and I'm hoping to start again in Shinjuku," Jeri explained. "I want to enroll my son in Japanese school. American school's not really my type so I returned here with Naoki in tow."
"Oh! That's nice!" Masahiko said and turned his gaze to his nephew. "Do you love the pizza, burgers, the fries in L.A.?"
"No. Mom said that I should stay away from junk food. She's always cooking Japanese for me," Naoki answered as he was playing with his hands.
"That's good! At least, Mommy's teaching you to eat a balanced diet!" Masahiko winked.
"I guess so, Uncle!" Naoki answered.
"Anyway, did any American try asking you out while you were there?" Masahiko chuckled.
"Some Americans, Masahiko, and I don't answer them," Jeri said sternly. "I don't want to get another crap following my heartache years ago. One is enough."
Masahiko became silent at that point. He remembered that his sister and her boyfriend stayed in a longtime relationship until it was ruined by another woman.
Jeri, you had been through for so many years, Masahiko thought as he saw his sister looking at the window already. I just hope you can find your true happiness once again!
Because she mentioned heartache, it reminded Jeri of her disheartening end with her boyfriend.
Five years ago, Jeri returned to Japan so she could attend the funeral fo Takato's grandfather who died due to a heart attack at that time. But just as she arrived at the chapel, she saw that Takato was kissing a woman named Hana Okana and concluded that he was cheating on her. She decided to fly back to Los Angeles so she could leave him in peace with his new woman. But when she got out of her doorstep, she saw Takato holding an engagement ring.
"Jeri!" Takato pled.
"Let me go, Takato!" Jeri said harshly.
"Marry me! Please, Jeri!" Takato said, begging for Jeri while holding the ring.
"Give that ring to someone else who deserves you better!" Jeri replied angrily.
"Please, Jeri!" Takato said.
"Let me go, Takato!" Jeri said harshly for the last time. "I'm going to miss my flight!"
"Is that it, Jeri? All these years you throw them away?" Takato asked in regret.
"You threw them away, Takato! Not me!" Jeri replied in disdain. "I have to go. Enjoy your life with your new woman!"
Jeri went inside the yellow van and closed it, leaving Takato to sadly witness the departure of his love.
END OF FLASHBACK
With this jog of her memory, Jeri's eyes became wet and a tear fell on her cheek.
I don't know what I'm going to do if I see him again…
Not long after, the van arrived at the Katou residence and Mr. Katou pulled it to a stop.
"We're here, Naoki! You'll see where Mommy grew up!" Jeri said to her son.
"Yaaaay!" Naoki said cheerfully.
Masahiko went to the back part of the car and took his sister's and nephew's bags and followed Jeri as they went towards the inside of the house.
"Mom!" Jeri called out as she got inside. "Moooooom!"
After a few seconds, Shizue Katou appeared at the living room and saw Jeri. Jeri could see that Shizue was no longer the slightly built woman because she lost a lot of weight during the past few years.
"Jeri!" Mrs. Katou exclaimed and hugged Jeri as soon as the latter came towards her.
"Mom! I missed you so much!" Jeri answered.
Suddenly, Mrs. Katou's gaze turned to the little boy near Jeri.
"Is this Naoki?!" Mrs. Katou asked with wide eyes and scooped the little boy.
"Yes, Mom! That's my boy!" Jeri said proudly.
"How big you've grown, Naoki!" Mrs. Katou remarked to her stepdaughter's son.
"I know, Mom!" Jeri agreed. "Masahiko told me that you're cooking, was that it?"
"Yes, dear! I'm cooking for all of us now that you've returned to Japan once again!" Mrs. Katou smiled.
"Thank you!" Jeri smiled and hugged Mrs. Katou once again. "I'll just go upstairs, Naoki! Stay with Uncle Masahiko alright?"
"Yes, Mommy!" Naoki answered.
Jeri made her way upstairs and saw her former room. When she remembered that she placed her pictures with Takato in one box five years ago.
This house was full of memories…
A picture of her and Naoki, a few months old, was in a frame on her desk.
Good thing Mom preserved the pictures that I send every time! Jeri thought as she saw her picture with Naoki once again.
However, she was surprised to hear footsteps in her room. Jeri looked and saw Masahiko coming towards her.
"Hey Sis!" Masahiko said.
"Masahiko!" Jeri said. "I can't believe that Mom organized all the pictures that I send from L.A.!"
"I know. She may be tired from fixing it but she wanted to do that so when you return, you would see the pictures of you and Naoki all in ascending order!" Masahiko chuckled. "I help sometimes when work in the restaurant seems not be tedious."
"And in the customers that come and go every day, you still haven't found a girlfriend?" Jeri teased.
"Yup!" Masahiko answered. "I haven't and probably won't!"
Jeri sighed for a moment. Probably Masahiko's afraid to turn out just like Takato.
Masahiko hugged his sister after that. "I missed you, Sis! How I wish you're here. Because when I see Mom and Dad, I only see sadness and unhappiness in them!" he added.
"You're also seeing sadness in me, Masahiko," Jeri answered. "I just got over it. Five years is enough!"
"Did you really forget about him?" Masahiko inquired.
"Maybe." Jeri shrugged.
"What if Takato finds out?" Masahiko asked. Now that Jeri is back in Japan, it will not be long before Takato discovers about Naoki.
"No one's telling him, okay? He's probably married and living happily with that Hana!" Jeri answered coolly.
Masahiko sighed. "I guess you're right, Sis. I haven't heard from Takato for the past five years."
"Let's try burying the past, okay Masahiko?" Jeri asked. "There's no such thing as 'happily ever after'. Remember that, dear brother."
Masahiko only nodded his head. "Anyway, if you're through sulking… I also came here to tell that we're going to have lunch now."
"Okay." Jeri nodded.
The brother-sister pair went outside Jeri's room and eventually went downstairs. They saw Mr. and Mrs. Katou who were on the dining table.
"Masahiko! Jeri!" Mrs. Katou called out.
"We're here!" Jeri said. "Where's Naoki?"
"Mommy!" Naoki came from the kitchen and he was holding a carrot in his hand.
"There you are!" Jeri exclaimed. "Let's eat, Naoki!"
Jeri helped her son sit down and she sat beside him. Masahiko sat in between to Mr. and Mrs. Katou.
"I cooked your favorite, Jeri! Tempura with wasabi!" Mrs. Katou smiled as she handed Jeri the food.
"Yummy!" Jeri commented. "Here, Daddy! Have some!"
Mr. Katou looked at Mrs. Katou but the latter was only wearing a poker face at him while eating. Jeri took this as a sign that her parents were totally not having the plan to reconcile.
Poor Mom and Dad! How I wish they'd make up! Jeri thought as she saw Mr. and Mrs. Katou not speaking to one another. I wanted Naoki to see that his grandparents were doing fine.
"Naoki!" Jeri smiled. "Eat up!"
Naoki smiled at his mother and took his spoon and fork. "Thanks, Mommy!"
Masahiko only watched his family as he was eating his lunch. Mr. and Mrs. Katou were only silent as Jeri was eating already with Naoki.
I just wish that everything will return to its normal state! Everyone's getting affected with this! Masahiko thought as he continued eating.
"So, Jeri? How's life in Los Angeles?" Mrs. Katou inquired. She was too curious with what happened to Jeri during the last five years.
"I'm good! I decided to return to Japan so that I could start a new life and work again. Besides, Naoki's already four years old so I'll enroll him in a Japanese school," Jeri answered.
"That's good to hear! Besides, here in Japan you still can manage your schedule and be with your son," Mrs. Katou chuckled.
"Actually, it's similar in America but I feel like Japan's still my home!" Jeri answered. "I already got my compensation from the company where I used to work. That would be a big addition to the restaurant!"
"At least you can start again!" Mrs. Katou remarked as she continued eating.
When they finished eating, they placed their utensils to the side and drank water. Masahiko offered to wash the plates since he did not have something to do today.
"You sure, Masahiko?" Jeri asked.
"Yeah, Sis! Just look after Naoki. I can handle it!" Masahiko assured. "Besides, you need energy after that sixteen-hour flight!"
Jeri nodded and she took Naoki with her so they could go upstairs and rest. When they arrived at her room, Naoki started running around like mad while Jeri sat on her white covered bed.
"Naoki! Don't run! You'll get tired! There won't be playtime if you get tired!" Jeri said to her son so he could stop running.
"Okay, Mommy!" Naoki stopped and he went towards Jeri and sat beside her.
Jeri took a blue photo album from her small cabinet and opened it. Fortunately, it did not have dust or dirt surrounding it when she opened it.
Memories! Jeri thought.
When she looked at one page, she saw her picture with the tamers during Rika's thirteenth birthday. She sought a copy from Rika so she could have a remembrance.
"Mommy, who's that?" Naoki asked, pointing to the girl with the auburn hair.
"Oh… That? That's your Aunt Rika! She's also your godmother, by the way!" Jeri explained.
"That guy with the blue hair! Who's that?" Naoki pointed again.
"That's your Uncle Henry, your Aunt Rika's husband!" Jeri answered.
"How come you never have the husband, Mommy?" Naoki asked curiously.
Jeri fell silent at that point. In span of four years, she made her son believe that his father left him and his mother before he was born so she never had the husband that Naoki was telling.
"You know that your Daddy left us, right? So, I never had the husband!" Jeri said.
"But Uncle Ichiro was always with you in America!" Naoki exclaimed. "Isn't that the husband, Mommy?"
"No, Naoki. He's not my husband. He's just a friend," Jeri explained. "Do you understand it, Naoki?"
"Yes, Mommy!" Naoki nodded and suddenly his eyes saw the magenta-eyed gogglehead in the picture. "Who's this, Mommy?"
Jeri looked to where Naoki was pointing and her face turned as white as sheet. She realized that it was Takato that Naoki was pointing.
Naoki's pointing to Takato! Jeri thought. What am I going to say?
"Mommy?" Naoki asked since his mother was not saying anything. "Who's he?"
"Uh… uh… he's just a… uh… a friend!" Jeri lied. Actually, he's your father, Naoki.
"What's his name?" Naoki asked curiously.
"His name?" Jeri said. "Uh… His name is… uh… Takato…"
"He's my Uncle Takato?" Naoki asked.
"Yes," Jeri answered.
"Wow! I've got so many uncles!" Naoki exclaimed. "Uncle Masahiko, Uncle Henry, and Uncle Takato!"
"Yes, you do!" Jeri agreed half-heartedly.
As she was browsing through her pictures in her album carefully, she heard a snoring sound. When she turned around, she saw that Naoki had fallen asleep on her soft bed.
Sleep tight, Naoki! Mommy will always be here! Jeri assured as she bent forward to kiss her son.
Jeri continued her reminiscing through browsing her pictures in her old album. Then she stopped as she saw a picture of her and Takato having their first date in one page.
Takato… Jeri thought as tears came again from her eyes.
As she leafed to the next page, Jeri saw her pictures with Takato and she felt that the wound became fresh once again. She did not know why she was looking at her pictures that would cause her heartache once again.
I'm really tired of thinking what the hell did just happen, Jeri thought as she closed the photo album. But for now, I don't know what I'll do if we cross paths once again.
With this, Jeri slowly lied on her bed so she could sleep beside Naoki. After all, Masahiko was right. She needed to take a rest after taking a sixteen-hour flight from Los Angeles, California.
On the other hand, thirty-year-old Takato Matsuki was seen to be working in a computer servicing company. His hair was down and he was wearing a white buttoned shirt and black slacks with his black shoes. He was working there for seven years already with Kazu, Kenta and Ryo. He was typing something on a computer when Ryo approached him in his cubicle.
"Hey, Takato!" Ryo greeted.
"Yeah?" Takato asked as he turned to see Ryo.
"I was wondering if you could go with us on a drinking spree later tonight at my house," Ryo explained. "You agree to that?"
"Yeah sure…" Takato said dully. Numbing myself through drinking… That's good!
"Alright! I'll tell the guys that you're up to it now! See you later!" Ryo replied good-naturedly.
As he saw Ryo brushing off, Takato only shrugged and returned to typing on his computer.
"If drinking could remove heartaches, I might have been happy as of now. But it's impossible," Takato mused, remembering his heartache five years ago.
He concentrated on typing when his officemate's radio played a familiar song. Takato's eyes became moist as he listened to the song.
~ I don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep cause I'll miss you babe
and I don't wanna miss a thing
Cause even when I dream of you
the sweetest thing will never do cause I miss you babe
And I don't wanna miss a thing ~
I missed you, Jeri… he thought as he wiped the tear that fell from his eye.
At that very moment, his desk phone rang. He picked up the receiver so he could answer it.
"Hey, Takato!" Henry said from the other line.
Henry is still working in their company as the president while Rika is at home because she has resigned five years ago. They have a daughter and Rika is spending her time taking care of her.
"Henry! What's up?" Takato asked.
"Ryo called me because he wanted to have a drinking session," Henry answered.
"Yeah. He also invited me," Takato replied. "You going?"
"Yeah," Henry answered. "But I'll have to go home early. Rika might scold me for drinking under her nose."
"You're lucky because your wife loves you that much. She's even going to scold you because of drinking!" Takato chuckled.
"I know." Henry laughed. "Anyway, the drinking session's going to be held at Ryo's house, right?"
"Yeah," Takato answered.
"Alright. I just called if you got invited. I'd better go now since my time's up," Henry answered. "See you later!"
"Yeah. See you!" Takato said, ending the phone call and hanging the phone.
With that, Takato finally returned to typing in his computer and saved his work. Just as he was about to print his manuscript, the spiky-haired Kazu went to his desk.
"Hey, Chumley!" Kazu said. He was wearing a white buttoned shirt and black slacks with black shoes.
"Kazu?" Takato asked.
"I need a printer. Mine's broken, dude!" Kazu answered.
"Oh sure. You can use mine after my paper gets printed." Takato chuckled. "Where's Kenta?"
"Kenta? He's at the boss's office!" Kazu answered. "I think he's getting fired or something!"
"You're such an idiot, Kazu!" Takato replied as he put a blank sheet of paper in the printer so he could print.
Meanwhile at the Katou residence, Jeri woke up and saw Naoki still sleeping. She realized that she had fallen asleep for three hours.
I guess a little nap is just what I need! Jeri thought.
She was about to leave the bed when she heard something.
"Mommy, don't leave me!" Naoki cried out.
Jeri lied again in the bed and pacified her son. "Shh, Baby. Mommy's here."
"Thanks, Mommy!" Naoki said as he returned to sleep.
"Just sleep here, okay?" Jeri said as she stood up from the bed and stretched herself. "I'll be right back. Or, you like Uncle Masahiko to play with you?"
"Okay!" Naoki said as he hugged his pillow and settled to sleep again.
Jeri eventually walked from her room and went downstairs. She met Masahiko who was on the first step of the stairway.
"Hey, Masahiko! You won't mind if you entertain Naoki for a while?" Jeri requested.
"Yeah, sure, Sis! I've been waiting for you to tell me that!" Masahiko grinned.
"Silly boy!" Jeri jested. "Anyway, he's waiting for you upstairs!"
"Okay!" Masahiko said in reply as he continued walking upstairs so he could go to his cute nephew.
When Jeri was already at the ground floor, she saw that her father was asleep on the couch while watching television.
If Dad's here, where's Mom? Jeri wondered.
As if it were the answer to her questions, Jeri saw her stepmother who was busy fixing things in the dining table.
"Mom!" Jeri called Mrs. Katou who was laying the placemats on the table.
"Jeri!" Mrs. Katou said affectionately. "Did you sleep well?"
"Kind of," Jeri said with a smile. "Let's just say that I regained my energy for today."
Mrs. Katou nodded. "Anyway, I'm going to cook dinner. You want to join me?"
"Sure, Mom!" Jeri said as she went towards her stepmother.
"Well, I'm glad!" Mrs. Katou chuckled as she walked towards the kitchen so they could cook.
When the two women arrived at the kitchen, Jeri could see that there were a lot of ingredients which were laid on the kitchen table.
Wasabi, cabbage, noodles, pork, chicken! Jeri thought. This looks like a celebration even if I just got home from LA!
"Wow! So many ingredients!" Jeri exclaimed.
"I know," Mrs. Katou said while Jeri was on her right side. "I did that so we could celebrate your homecoming!"
"Aww, Mom! You don't have to do that!" Jeri said.
"Let me, Jeri. After all, you helped me on my worst. It's about time I return the favor," Mrs. Katou assured.
Jeri eventually smiled and hugged Mrs. Katou. Then, Mrs. Katou laid the ingredients on Jeri's side so they could start. While they were slicing the cabbage, Jeri could not help but ask her stepmother about what happened during the past five years she was gone.
"Mom, are you still mad at Dad?" she asked plainly.
"I don't know, Jeri," Mrs. Katou answered with no expression on her face.
Jeri only nodded sadly as she continued slicing. Mrs. Katou only sighed for Jeri.
Meanwhile, Takato was finished with his work and he already shut the computer off when Kazu appeared once again.
"Kazu?" Takato asked.
"Come on, Chumley! You're going to go with me, remember?!" Kazu said.
"Oh! Right! Hehe!" Takato said sheepishly and took his bag with him. "Where's Kenta?"
"We'll meet him at the ground floor. He even got me to bring these junks to him!" Kazu answered.
Takato offered his help to Kazu so the latter could concentrate on walking. The two of them saw an empty elevator and went inside. Kazu pressed "G" so they could go to the ground floor.
"I love Ryo so much! Can you believe we're going to have a party over at his house?" Kazu said cheerfully.
"I know," Takato answered.
Then silence filled the air as the elevator made its way down to the ground floor.
The elevator opened at the ground floor. Kazu and Takato went outside of the elevator and saw Kenta who was waiting for them.
"Hey, Chumley!" Kazu greeted Kenta.
"Kazu!" Kenta greeted as he saw him and Takato. "Takato!"
"What's up, Chumley? You fired?" Kazu asked Kenta.
"Nope," Kenta said. "He just reassigned me to a place near you and Takato."
"Sweet!" Kazu said as he and Takato shared a high-five.
"Let's go, guys! Ryo's waiting for us!" Takato replied.
The three guys walked from the building façade towards the parking lot which was located at the basement. Not far away, Kazu saw his blue Lexus and he ran towards it so he could start its engines. He opened the door leading to the driver's seat and hopped inside. He inserted his keys in the keyhole and started his car. He drove a bit towards Kenta and Takato's area and stopped near them.
"Hey, guys!" Kazu yelled. "Hop in!"
Takato went inside and sat in the passenger seat located beside Kazu while Kenta got inside the middle part of the car.
"Hold everything and we'll gonna start the journey of the lifetime!" Kazu said as he stepped on his gear and drove away. Soon, the blue Lexus roared outside the parking lot and traveled around the city of Shinjuku.
As Kazu's car was driving along the highway, Takato's mind began wandering somewhere. A picture of Jeri appeared in his mind.
I really really miss her! he thought. Will she ever return to Japan?
Not long after, Kazu and the guys eventually arrived at the Akiyama residence. Not far away, they saw spiky-haired and blue-eyed Ryo Akiyama who was setting a table on the front porch.
"Hey, Ryo!" the guys called out.
"Hey, guys!" Ryo said and ran towards the gate and saw them.
When the guys hopped outside their car, Ryo was already walking towards them.
"How are you, guys?" he greeted.
"We're good! We thought Kenta here's getting fired!" Kazu answered.
"Hey!" Kenta protested. "What about you, Ryo?"
"I came home early since I got a field work which was in Osaka and it also ended early. Come inside!" Ryo answered.
The four of them heard a screech nearest them. It happened that a sleek black car stopped near Ryo's area. Ryo's face wore a smile upon realizing who came. The owner of the black car came outside of it, revealing a handsome young man with short blue hair, grey eyes and tan skin while wearing a green buttoned shirt and black slacks as well as black shoes.
"Hey, guys!" Henry Wong greeted.
"Henry!" the guys said in unison.
"What's with the wine party tonight?" Henry asked.
"I need company. Alice and my kids are in Kyushu right now," Ryo answered. "It just happened that I had some stupid field work so that's why I didn't go with them."
Henry nodded as he Kazu, Kenta, and Takato were ushered by Ryo towards his home. They eventually got inside his house and they sat on the table that Ryo prepared for them.
Meanwhile, at the Katou household, Jeri was finished cooking the yakiniku with her stepmother.
"There!" Jeri said as she placed the plate on the kitchen table. "That should do it!"
"You're still the best yakiniku cook ever, Jeri!" Mrs. Katou praised.
"Thanks, Mom!" Jeri smiled.
At that moment, Masahiko and Naoki already arrived at the kitchen.
"Mmm! Smells delicious, doesn't it Naoki?" Masahiko grinned at his nephew.
"You bet, Uncle!" Naoki agreed.
"I have a feeling that Naoki got it from Masahiko. Always barging in the kitchen… I'm so proud!" Mrs. Katou remarked.
"Really? Now I know who passed that to Naoki!" Jeri chuckled. "Come on, Mom! Let's lay the table."
Jeri immediately went to get the plate with yakiniku and walked towards the dining table. Masahiko helped his stepsister by bringing the condiments inside as well. Mrs. Katou took her grandson with her.
"So, Naoki? Where do you want to go?" Mrs. Katou asked as she held her brunet grandson.
"I want to eat, Grandma!" Naoki exclaimed.
"Okay, little one! We'll have dinner soon!" Mrs. Katou smiled and assisted him in sitting down on the dining table.
Masahiko volunteered to call Mr. Katou as he placed the condiments and the vegetables on the table. Jeri helped her stepmother finish everything and the two of them sat down. Mr. Katou arrived at the dining table with Masahiko and sat down. The five of them were now seated in the dining area. Unfortunately, silence only filled the air after the Katous said their grace in the dining table.
At that time, inside the Akiyama residence, the five men were already drinking their beer.
"Hold everything!" Ryo said.
"What is it, Ryo?" Kazu asked.
"I propose a toast!" Ryo answered.
"What toast?" Kenta asked.
"To the old tamers!" Ryo said as he rose his glass in the air.
"To the old tamers!" all the men said in unison.
After making a toast, the five men drank their beer from their glasses. Takato already had five glasses, Ryo had four, Kazu had three, and Henry had two while Kenta only got one.
"Can you imagine that all of us are already married?" Kenta asked.
"Yeah!" Henry, Kazu and Ryo replied.
"Except for Takato, of course!" Kazu added. He was already tipsy at this point.
Takato felt hurt with what Kazu said. It reminded him of his terrible breakup with his girlfriend so that was why he was single until today. Ryo married Alice shortly after Henry and Rika while Kazu and Kenta married their girlfriends after Ryo and Alice.
"Kazu!" Kenta scolded Kazu.
"Sorry, dude!" Kazu said apologetically.
"What Kazu probably means is that why don't you find another one to make you happy?" Henry asked calmly, pacifying Takato since the latter did not take everything so well during the past few years.
"I love her, Henry. I can't marry the one who makes me happy because she's away! And that's all because of me!" Takato answered bitterly.
Ryo, Henry, Kazu and Kenta only looked at Takato with sympathy. Takato had been like that ever since Jeri left him five years ago.
"I'm not worthy of her!" Takato added. "I'm a mess and I'm a nobody!"
Eventually, Takato walked out from his friends and started walking tipsily. Henry and Kazu followed him.
"We'll take care of him, Ryo," Henry said. "I'll take him to his house!"
"Are you sure, Henry?" Ryo asked.
"I'm sure, Ryo." Henry nodded.
Henry followed Takato until the latter collapsed because of drunkenness. He carried Takato to his car so he could drive him home. When Takato was fully seated at the passenger's seat, he began mumbling words. Henry immediately hopped in his car so Takato could take a rest in his own house.
"Henry…" Takato groaned while in his stupor. He was already seated at the soft seat of Henry's car.
"Why, Takato?" Henry asked while he was at the steering wheel.
"I wish I was never born," Takato said randomly.
"Takato, don't say that!" Henry scolded him.
"I had let go the most important girl of my life," Takato replied. "She's my life, you know?"
"I know, Takato… But when are you going to start moving on?" Henry pointed out.
"I don't know…" Takato replied. "Five years was never enough."
Henry remembered the time when he was at that stage eight years ago, wherein Rika left him without explaining why. He loved her but she left him and the worse thing was, she never explained why.
It took three years for me to see Rika again, Henry thought as he drove around the main road of Shinjuku. I just hope Takato's fine. I guess that's the measure of how he loves Jeri.
Not long after, Henry arrived at the Matsuki residence and alighted so he could get Takato out. When he pulled Takato from the car carefully, Takato's father was looking at them.
"I never knew that Takato would take his breakup too seriously. It pains for us to see him like this," Takehiro Matsuki stated.
"I could say the same, Sir." Henry nodded as he carried Takato once again.
Mr. Matsuki caught Takato before the latter could fall. He bid Henry goodbye as the blue-haired young man was looking at them.
"Thank you, Henry, and have a good night!" he said.
"Likewise, Sir!" Henry said good-naturedly.
Henry eventually went to his sleek black convertible and started its engine. When he saw the father and son going inside the Matsuki residence, he drove away from them. Fortunately, he was not drunk and tipsy just like Takato so he was free to drive along the main road of Shinjuku. Henry could see that the stars shone brightly at night as he drove towards his home, the humble abode where he and his family now lived.
Not long after, he arrived at their house. When he opened the door, he found his wife Rika sitting at the couch while wearing her white shirt and black shorts.
"Hey, Sweetheart!" he greeted.
Rika looked up and saw Henry. She went towards him and hugged him.
"How's your day?" she asked.
"Fine. The guys and I had some drinking party until Kazu randomly talked about the only guy who wasn't married yet," Henry replied as he recalled what occurred earlier at Ryo's house.
"Leaving Takato to sulk again for what happened between him and Jeri," Rika completed.
"Yes," Henry agreed. "But this time, it's worse."
Rika nodded. "When I left you before, did you do what Takato's doing right now?"
"Not much. But I drank because I loved you," Henry explained.
"Sweet Henry." Rika smiled and pinched his cheeks.
"Anyway, where's Miyako?" Henry smiled.
"She already slept because she was too tired of doing everything," Rika answered and pulling Henry with her right hand as they walked upstairs.
"Looks like you want some action, huh?" Henry asked with a grin and he wanted to know why Rika was dragging him quickly.
Rika raised an eyebrow. "No way! I'm only dragging you upstairs because I want to sleep! I waited for you all night, you big dummy!"
Henry only laughed as he willingly let himself be dragged by his wife.