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The Song of Life

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Saejima is sitting back in his office, working through the mundane paperwork that comes with being a Patriarch. The boring nature of working out contracts with debtors, businesses in his territory, and managing his men. Majima is there, watching some samurai movie in the corner. He’s not sure how Majima has the time to laze in Saejima’s office for hours on end, considering he has the biggest family in the Tojo clan, but Majima always waves off his concerns with a “Nishida’s got me covered.” Saejima doesn’t probe past that, because he does appreciate being able to spend time with his brother even when the work keeps piling up.

The phone rings, and Saejima takes a second to consider not answering, before remembering that this is an excuse to not do the boring ass paperwork and he hits “Speaker” a second after.

“I’m pretty sure Kiryu is about to beat the shit out of a doctor.”

Akiyama knows how to start conversations in the most alarming way. Majima perks up immediately at the mention of Kiryu, muting his movie and looking with rapt attention at the phone.

Saejima grabs the receiver and responds. “What’s goin’ on? Ain’t he still in jail?”

“Just got out yesterday, so I hear. But that’s besides the point. Haruka-chan is in the hospital, and Kiryu ain’t takin’ it well.” Saejima and Majima immediately look at each other, coming to the exact same thought. Majima had been willing to sacrifice the both of them for that girl. Saejima had only met her for a brief time in Okinawa, but he remembered her being incredibly kind and caring. He understood that there were a circle of men in and out of the Yakuza who were willing to murder for that girl, and he supposed he could count himself in.

“What do ya need from me?”

“Come to Touto hospital. Once Kiryu is not about to assault a medical professional to get into the ICU, I’ll fill ya in.” Saejima looks up at Majima to see if he has any idea what the fuck is goin’ on, but Majima looks just as bewildered as him.

“Got it.” Akiyama hangs up as soon as Saejima responds, and Saejima considers bringing some of his boys along, but decides against it. Whatever problem comes up, he and Majima could solve it by themselves, and he figured a bunch of Yakuza showing up to the hospital without warning might send the wrong message. 

“Well, ain’t this a kick in the dick?” Majima lilts, and Saejima finds himself agreeing.

 

As they sit on the waiting benches of the hospital, Kiryu buries his head in his hands. Majima would offer him a smoke, but he thinks that sorta thing is banned in hospitals. Sides’, Kiryu just got outta the slammer. He might have actually decided to quit now that they’re all pushing fifty.

The silence is uncomfortable, and Majima decides to throw the first thing that pops into his head to break the tension. “How long’s it been? Three years at least, but back then you were still sleepin’ like a princess from all that Omi shit, so it was probably before that. Shit, was that when Daigo got me arrested?”

Kiryu shrugs noncommittally. Majima can tell his mind is completely elsewhere, so he pushes, trying to keep Kiryu from thinkin’ about the way-too-grim prognosis. Maybe something about a better time with Haruka? “Ey, no one told me bout’ how Haru-chan became an idol. I wanna know the gritty details. Who’d my Kiryu-chan have to sleep with to get her a production company?” To Majima’s surprise, his last comment gets him a snort, but Kiryu’s face looks too bitter to show any sign of humor.

“I’m pretty sure I never would’ve slept with Mirei Park even before I knew she was your wife.”

Ah, shit. No one told him Mirei was the one who signed Haruka on. Majima immediately feels uncomfortable, and he would totally drop the topic altogether if Kiryu wasn’t on the edge of a mental breakdown and Majima wanted to keep his conversational momentum.

“Not into total, utter bitches? Even the hot-as-fuck ones?” Majima cracks. Saejima is giving Majima a knowing look. He recognizes Majima is uncomfortable as fuck, but he doesn’t say anything and lets Majima carry on. “But I getcha. Woman like that would probably woulda whipped ya, soft as ya are.”

“She probably did. Convinced me to leave my kids for half a year,” Kiryu laughs mirthlessly. Majima does take pause at that. He never heard about that part of Haruka’s whole idol deal. He knew Haruka had some grand speech on stage about havin’ a Yakuza for a dad and how much she loved him. Real tear-jerkin’ stuff. But he had sort of assumed that just meant Haruka didn’t want to lie about havin’ Kiryu as a dad. He hadn’t realized they’d actually split the family apart.

“Uhh, I was in hidin’ or bein’ kept by the Omi for most of all that, could ya run that by me again?”

“Oh, I guess Daigo never told you..” Kiryu hums in contemplation, and Majima appreciates that he doesn’t completely look like despair is going to swallow him whole any second.

“Sure as shit didn’t. Had a lot goin’ on at the time. Couldn’t really keep in touch over gossip bout’ you.” Majima leans back against the bench, spreading his legs and bumping knees with Saejima and Kiryu. He’s being deliberately annoying and taking up way more space than he should, but it’s all part of the plan. Even if his shoulder smarts after Saejima shoves him for almost pushing him off the bench. Kiryu barely reacts at all, just letting Majima take up as much space as he feels like.

“Park-san told me that if Haruka was going to be an idol, I had to disappear. She’d fund everything and donate to the orphanage, but Haruka couldn’t have any ties to the Yakuza. So I moved to Fukuoka and changed my name. Apparently it didn’t matter, Daigo had been keeping tabs on me the entire time through the local family, so I hadn’t really disappeared so much as left my kids in Okinawa.” Kiryu sighed. “It was for the best though. The kids were going being picking jobs or going to high school soon, and I was standing in the way of them choosing what they really wanted.”

“How ya figure that?” Saejima asks shortly. Kiryu startles a bit at him suddenly jumping into the conversation, but takes a good moment to consider the question.

“Park told me that all my kids were scared to leave me. Haruka even told me before I left that she’d rather keep me In Okinawa than go chase her dream. If they would give up their dreams to keep me around, then it wasn’t worth it to be around. I didn’t want to tie them down. So I had to leave.” Kiryu says it with such conviction that it takes Majima’s brain a good two seconds to catch up with the utter stupidity.

“Kiryu-chan, I love ya, but you’re a fuckin’ moron, ya know that?” Majima lightly knocks Kiryu on the head, and Kiryu bristles like an affronted cat. Majima continues, “The kids not wantin’ ya ta leave meant they love ya, dumbass. Have ya ever considered that their dream might have been to stick around and help out their dad?” 

“But what if I was forcing them to think that was what they wanted? What if they could’ve been so much more if-”

Saejima butts in, “Kiryu-han, I became a Yakuza for the sake of Yasuko. I was scared as shit that she was gonna die and leave me alone. That make me weak? Is that a shitty dream to want someone you love to stick around?” Saejima’s words cut, and both he and Majima can see that. None of them are over Yasuko, really. Even Kiryu, who only knew her for a short time, was still shaken up from her body on Kamurocho Hills. From how hard Saejima worked to see her again, and how hard the funeral was to get through, insulting everything that happened in 2010 was too stupid to even consider.

It suddenly occurs to Majima a very important piece of what Kiryu just said, and it brings a sinking suspicion in his stomach about how little Mirei had changed since she was a spitfire 18-year-old. “You said Mirei told you that shit bout’ your kids being scared?”

Kiryu nods, not trusting himself to answer without sticking his foot in his mouth.

Majima groans. “Yeah, that sounds like her. She’s great at soundin’ all cold and logical when she wants ya to shut up and listen to her bout’ something. Whatever shit she said? She didn’t mean it. She just wanted ya out of the picture and went for the jugular to make it happen.”

“She done that to you?” Saejima asks gruffly. Kiryu looks at him with the same question on his tongue.

Majima has no hang-ups about speakin’ ill of the dead, so he decides to regale them. “She did it to me three times. First time was when we ended up hookin’ up the first time. I try not to make a habit of cradle-snatchin’, but damn, Mirei knew how to sell herself like a fuckin model. Didn’t help that I was already a couple o’ whiskeys into the night.  Second time was when we eloped. Thinkin’ back, you’d think she was real-estate agent tryin’ to sell me on a condo or somethin’. Listin off all the advantages of bein’ married and how much we’d already sunk into the damn relationship. Told me that it’d be better for her career to take my last name anyways, since bein’ Korean makes it harder and shit. Final time was when she told me we had a kid. Explained why she had to get rid of it all calculatin’ like, talking about how our jobs were dangerous for it, how we didn’t have the time to raise the damn thing anyway, how the economy was no good for it. I slapped that shit right out of her mouth that time.”

Kiryu and Saejima both look like they want to respond to that, so Majima cuts in before they can comment. “I know real men don’t hit women, before ya bust my balls. That’s why I divorced her right after. Not cause of any of that other shit, it was cause I broke the rules.” Majima left out that he would have divorced her ass regardless of whether he had slapped her or not, but it was a nail in the coffin that he was dangerous to her. 

“Still a shitty thing to do, Kyodai,” Saejima says, and Majima gives him an unimpressed look. He knows. Saejima gives him a sympathetic look as well, though, so it’s water under the bridge before any apologies are said.

“I think I know what you were trying to say, Majima-san. But I don’t know what to do about it now. Park is dead. I can’t take back the time with my kids that I lost. Now, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to spend time with Haruka aga-”

Majima cuts in before Kiryu can finish the thought, “Oi, I ain’t sayin’ what you did was totally moronic. I mean, yeah, it mostly was, but Mirei was probably right that Haruka never coulda become an idol if you were around. The whole reason Mirei’s career failed was cause she was married ta me. Don’t go thinkin’ it was for nothin’. Your heart was in the right place and you were tryin’ to do the best for your kids. Ya helped Haruka become an idol. Just don’t go thinkin’ you’re holdin’ em’ back just cause they love ya, alright?”

Saejima nods, for lack of anything to add, and Majima pats Kiryu on the shoulder. After that, the three go back to silence, but it’s slightly more comfortable, and Kiryu’s scrunched brow looks less pained.