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Stay With Me

Chapter 1: Part One: The Setup

by isilelensar

“Thanks for coming. I really appreciate it,” Akiteru said to the men, and lady, gathered at the table at the non-descript, little hole-in-the-wall restaurant he’d picked to meet at. He’d paid the owner handsomely to let him use it for an hour after closing.

He smiled briefly at each person. It had taken time finding the right people in order to put this small force together, and he needed them to help guard and protect his little brother, his brother’s lover, and the latter’s wily aunt. They’d been suggested by his most trusted advisors, so he knew they’d be the best for the job.

“In front of you is a packet that I’ll need everyone to commit to memory, ASAP. Destroy everything afterward. In them is information on the three people you are to protect at all costs. I trust you understand?”
“Yes, sir!”
“Three people, sir?” Eita asked, noting the addition. They were only told about two before they arrived.
“I’ll get to that,” Akiteru answered shortly. “Bokuto, I’ve given you directions for the whereabouts of Kuroo Tetsuro and Shibata Yui. I’m sending Eita and Tanaka with you. Keep them safe, and if possible, do it without their knowledge. If you do need to break cover, make sure they know you’re friendly.”
“Yes, sir,” the man with black and silver frosted hair replied.
“Akaashi, you will go to the last known location of my brother, the information is in your packet. He may have moved on already, but you know what to do if that’s the case. Fukunaga and Shimizu are with you. Your situation is different; as soon as you locate him, he’ll need to know you’re there and why. Your biggest hurdle will be getting him to trust you, but please stick close to him, regardless.”
“Yes, sir,” the man sitting quietly next to Bokuto replied.
“As far as my brother’s concerned, I work for my Grandmother. It will be hard to convince him otherwise. I have no doubt he’s told Kuroo the same.”
“Wouldn’t it be a good idea to just meet with Kuroo and Shibata to explain, then?” Bokuto asked. “I mean, it would make things easier if they trusted us.”
“You may be right. However, Shibata may reach out to you; she knows more than her nephew, and she’ll want to know what’s going on. Tell her what you know.”
“Are you sure she can be trusted?” Eita asked cautiously.
Akiteru paused. “Without going into too much detail, yes. She can be trusted.” He affirmed, and then continued with the last of his directions. “Stay on your guard. Grandmother has yet to send out any of her Specials, but if she does, you’ll have to move fast, think faster, and out-of-the-box. Be prepared for that. Got it?”
“Yes, sir!”
“Any questions?”
“How long is this assignment?” Tanaka asked.
“Indefinite. But I’m hoping it won’t be that long.”
“Do we need to check in with you at all, or are we on our own?” Shimizu inquired.
“You’ll need to coordinate with each other, but no need to contact me unless absolutely necessary.”
“Weapons?” The group smiled and laughed softly at Fukunaga, who looked around at everyone with wide eyes. “What?”
“Who else would ask that question?” Shimizu sighed into her hands.
“I don’t know? Eita?”
“Dude, I already know I’m bringing my own,” Eita chimed in.
“I’m just asking if we need more than standard issue.”
“Do you actually plan to blow things up again, or nah?” Tanaka joked.
“That last time was the Miyans fault, and you know it!”
“Oh, yeah! Are we allowed to bring in more people, if necessary?” Bokuto asked, excitement lighting up his eyes.
“Yes, but only in case of an emergency. However, I have alerted my colleague and he’ll be sending his own teams to help. You shouldn’t need more beyond that.”
“Understood.”
“Time is of the essence. We need to move before Grandmother does. You have until 7pm to get your things in order, and until 8pm to get out of Miyagi. Good luck.”

The group of six all rose at once, bowed, and proceeded to leave the room separately. After waiting out the rest of his paid hour, Akiteru left to return to the residence.

~*~

“Report, Washijo,” a thready, high-pitched voice said from the dark end of the boardroom table.
“The individual is no longer in Tokyo. We’ve yet to discover his location, but we assume he won’t stay in one place long enough until he feels he’s safe. We’ll find him once he slows down.”
“Hmmm,” was all he got in reply. “Irihata?”
“The individual was seen associating with one Kuroo Tetsuro, junior officer with the JVA, sports promotion division. Unclear how close they were, or if it was simply a one-time thing.”
“Tsk. I do not care for that information. Have this Kuroo followed, anyway. I can’t place how I know that name.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Omizu?”
“I’ve put the Specials on stand by, Tendo will head the operation.”
“Not Ushijima?”
“Still laid up from the last mission. He can serve as remote ops, if necessary.”
“Do it.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Anything about that troublesome outside interference?”
“Nothing. We can’t trace a single thing.” Washijo replied, with frustration. “A mere blip on our radar, and it’s gone before we can get a good lock on it.”
“Put Daisho on it,” she ordered.
“Yes, ma’am.”
“I trust I don’t need to tell you that we need to gather as much information as we can before we make our move?”
“No ma’am,” they all said, but for Omizu, who sounded as if he were questioning her. Naturally, she caught on.
“What is it, Omizu?”
“Forgive me, ma’am, but shouldn’t we at least get people out there and in place?”
“How would you suggest doing that if we can’t even locate our primary target?”
“Tendo is good at what he does. If we could just put his team out there…”
“Waste of money. I’m not going to authorize any extra funds to send people out on a wild goose chase. We need concrete information. Are you telling me I don’t have the best people working on that?”
“No, ma’am,” he answered, feeling thwarted.
“Good. Is there anything else?”
“No ma’am,” they all replied.
“Dismissed. I’ll have your findings in three days.”
“Yes, ma’am.”

The three of them rose and filed out. When the door closed, the old woman slumped in her chair and started coughing. From behind a concealed door, a doctor and nurse came out quickly. The old woman grabbed the oxygen mask in the doctor’s hand, and put it over her nose and mouth, breathing raggedly. It took a good fifteen minutes before she was breathing almost normally again.

“Ma’am, you really should be resting,” the doctor said patiently. “You are supposed to be on bed rest…”
“I’m fine!”
“Clearly, you’re not,” the nurse spoke acerbically.
“Hush your mouth, young lady,” the doctor scolded.
“Help me up,” Grandmother demanded. “I have a meeting with my grandson and daughter-in-law.”
“Yes, ma’am,” they replied, knowing the old woman wasn’t going to listen to them. But they did as they were told, anyway.

~*~

On a pitch dark, secluded beach in Miyazaki prefecture, another small group was meeting. At least, five were actually out on the sand, while three remained in the shadows, as was their preference. The tallest among them, the leader, stood proudly in front of his team, with a tiny grin lifting the corners of his mouth.

“Good work on the last assignment, men. And lady,” he said, his baritone voice just loud enough for them all to hear. “You incapacitated their leader, and scattered the rest before they could get to Kyoto. Well done. Now, down to business. Akiteru has informed me that Tsuki is on the move again. There was a tip off to his location in Tokyo.”
“Any idea who that was?” Narita asked.
“I have a good guess,” the man said ironically. “She never could keep her nose out of everyone’s business. She’s harmless.”
“What do you need us to do, Boss?” Noya spoke up from the shadows.
“I need to divide you guys, and both teams will offer assistance to the two teams Akiteru should have already sent out. He’ll be informing me soon…” he paused and pulled out his phone. “Okay, I have his teams. Narita, you’ll take Hinata, Kinoshita, and Osamu to meet up with Akaashi’s team protecting Tsuki. Suzu, you’ll be in charge of Hoshiumi, Noya, and Atsumu. You’re to meet up with Bokuto’s team in Tokyo.”
“Guess it’s my turn with Captain Chaos, huh?” Suzu groaned, earning snickers from most of her team, and the side-eye from Atsumu.
“I thought that was Noya,” Narita imparted, fully earning the death glare from the former libero. “In which case, you have both of them.”
“Well, at least our fearless leader split both pairs of Chaos Twins.”
“We can’t have anything else blow up. I can’t afford it.”
“This is why we can’t have nice things,” Suzu said sarcastically.
“Who was on that assignment, anyway, hmmm?” Kinoshita asked, smirking.
“Hinata, Noya, and the Miyans,” Hoshiumi answered.
“And Fukunaga,” Suzu added.
“Yeah… that was fun,” Atsumu joined in.
“For you, maybe,” Osamu elbowed his brother.
“Says the one who flipped the switch,” Atsumu growled. He was about to pounce on his brother when their leader cleared his throat.
“Okay, guys. Enough. I have further instructions.” Everyone snapped to attention… mostly. “Those going to meet up with Akaashi’s group, your primary goal is to help them earn Tsuki’s trust. I’ve added enough familiar faces, so that should help.”
“Who’s in his group?” Hinata asked.
“Fukunaga and Shimizu.”
“Kiyoko-san?! Why didn’t you put me in that group?” Noya moaned dramatically.
“Still simping even after she married Tanaka?” Kinoshita teased.
“Someone has to,” Noya grumbled.
“Yeah, well, Bokuto’s group includes Tanaka, so try not to get too carried away, okay?” their leader said wryly. “He also has Eita, so I’m going to need someone to keep Miya from getting too competitive over weapons.”
“Ouch, sir!” Atsumu groaned. “I ain’t that bad!”
“It was a competition that you started with Fukunaga that blew up. Literally!” Hoshiumi was incredulous.
“That said,” their leader said loudly to regain their attention. “Hoshiumi, Hinata, and Noya, I’ll need you to stay undercover, as always. With the exception of Hinata as an identifier for Tsuki, all other times, you three remain hidden until necessary.”
“Right!” the three replied.
“The rest of you will lend whatever help is needed, and you’ll be under direct command of Bokuto and Akaashi once you join up with them.”
“Where do we go to meet up with Akaashi?” Osamu asked. “I don’t think you mentioned it.”
“You’re right. I didn’t.” He told them Tsuki’s last known location. “Akaashi was sent there as well. That’s where you’ll go.”
“Now, sir?” Narita asked.
The elder man nodded. “Go. Hurry, and be careful.”
“Yes, sir!” and the four of them ran toward the dock where a speedboat waited.
“The rest of you can leave in the morning. Bokuto’s team is stationed in Tokyo. You’ll meet up with him there.”
“Sounds good, sir.”
“Now go get some rest. You have an early start.”
“Right!” and the other four headed inland, toward their hidden base.

Hanging back for a little bit, the man tilted his blonde head and looked up at the moonless sky. The faint starlight glinted off his glasses, and he thought the sight was beautiful. Sighing, he almost wished the moon was out, but then, they’d have had to meet inside the base, and he wanted to feel the cool sea breeze before things got started in earnest.

Reaching into another pocket, he brought out an old school flip phone, opened his text window, and typed in a coded message to those in his chat group.

[Teams mobilized. Operation: Guardian protocols now in effect.]
[Understood]
[When should we expect you?]
[Not now. Not yet. Soon.]
[Be safe. Be careful.]
[Aren’t I always?]

He tucked the phone back in his pocket and looked over his shoulder toward the ocean. The speedboat was just maneuvering away from the dock, and then the driver gunned the engine, and he could hear the boys cheering as they raced away. Smirking, he waited until he couldn’t hear anything other than the tide washing in, and then he made his way back to base.

~*~

[test: coded message]
[Tsuki?]
[yeah. sorry to wake you.]
[no, it’s fine. i wasn't asleep anyway Smile smiley face ]
[just wanted you to know i’m okay]
[good. i’m glad. thank you.]
[i can’t stay long. i’m just resting for now.]
[resting?]
[well, i’m horizontal, at least.]
[you should be horizontal here. with me.]
[i wish i was, Tetsu. i miss you.]
[i miss you too]
[i love you]
[i love you too]
[good night, Tetsu]
[good night, Moonshine]

Tsuki closed his flip phone and hid it under his pillow. He was resting in a hostel on Okinawa, but would be on the move again in a few hours. The note his mother had written told him to stay moving for as long as possible (which was a given) , and gave him a suggested route (not that he’d follow it, specifically). This was the toughest part of anytime he was forced to run; constantly moving, barely enough time to rest or eat. Never in one place long enough to leave an impression on anyone, which was mandatory. During each stop, he attempted to alter his appearance, so that if anyone tried to follow him, they wouldn’t have a clear description. He only slowed down when he felt it was safe to do so.

He’d been too tired to change his appearance once he made it to Okinawa, but since he’d be gone again soon, he didn’t worry too much about it. He planned to make more of an effort once he was back on the mainland.

But for now… he turned over on his side, and pulled out the phone from under the pillow. He opened it, and reread the text between Tetsu and him. And read it again, until he almost had it memorized. Then he closed it again, and stuffed it back in its place. He turned over on his side, facing the wall, and squeezed his eyes shut. He needed to try to sleep at least a little bit before the alarm went off.

Even if he knew he wouldn’t sleep enough, if at all.
Even if he knew he’d be an exhausted wreck later.
He had to try.

After another futile effort, he sighed and struggled to sit up. Well, at least he felt a little relaxed, if nothing else. He grabbed his backpack and brought out his laptop, waited for it to boot up, and hooked up his headphones. Maybe he could watch some brainless movie that would help him fall asleep? No, he wasn’t really interested in anything. Maybe some music? He brought up one of his favorite stations, and hit play. His head fell back against the wall, and he smiled gently; the station played music Tetsu was inclined to like more than he did. Also, he could just imagine Tetsu dancing to this song…

As the next song started playing, an idea formed in his sleep-deprived mind. The combination of codes they were using were old, but could easily be cracked if given more than two thoughts about it. They needed something to use that might look easy on the surface, but would be hard to figure out without proper context and meaning.

One more song, and Tsuki had the basic idea for the code they could use, in addition to the two they used now. He was also feeling a lot more lethargic and definitely ready for sleep. Pulling off his headphones, he closed his laptop, and put it all away. Curling up under the blanket, he shut his eyes again, and was fast asleep within minutes.

~*~

“What are you doing up?” Aunt Yui asked quietly as she walked into the kitchen.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Tetsu replied, his voice gruff.

He smiled at her and put his flip phone down. He’d been staying at her place a little more often, mostly because he didn’t want to be alone. He was glad she kept a room ready for him whenever he stayed over.

“What are you doing up?” he returned her question.
“With all the racket you’re making down here? It’s a wonder the neighborhood isn’t beating down my door.”
“I already sent them away. I’m just waiting for the torch and pitchfork crowd to show up.”
“Smartass.”
“Learned from the best,” he lifted his mug in a toast to her.

Rolling her eyes, Aunt Yui got her own mug from the cabinet and turned the electric kettle on to reheat the water. She picked out her favorite herbal tea, opened the pack, and put the tea bag in the mug. While she waited, she pulled out the chair across from Tetsu and sat down.

“Have you heard from Tsukishima-san?”
Tetsu smiled fondly. “Yeah. He’s okay.”
“Thank god,” she replied, breathing a sigh of relief. “Did he say where he is?”
“No. And I didn’t ask. He wouldn’t tell me anyway.”
“Maybe it’s for the best. At least for right now.”
“I guess.”
“You miss him, don’t you?”
“Yeah.”
“Didn’t think your first hurdle as a couple would be something like this, did you?”
“No.” He looked up at his aunt. “Everything after this will be a piece of cake.”
“I’m glad to hear you say that.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re not giving up on him. You’re not letting him go.”
For a moment, he looked confused. “No. Why would I?”
“I knew you two would be perfect for each other,” she said.

Tetsu was about to say something, but the kettle started whistling, and Auntie stood up to go make her tea. She reached back, and Tetsu handed her his empty mug, which she made him the same tea she was drinking. Plunking the freshly steaming mug of peppermint tea down in front of him, she sat down with her own.

“So. What now?”
Tetsu shrugged. “I don’t know. He said he can’t stay where he is, but at least he’s trying to get some rest first before moving on.”
“Has he ever told you about his life before meeting you?”
“A little.”
“Tell me.”
“Auntie, you know I love you, but I can’t tell you that.”
“Did he tell you not to?”
“No, but I’m still not telling.”
“Tsk.”
“Nosey.”
“I am not! I’m just… very curious.”
“Yeah, meow.”
“Shut it, child. You’re just as bad!”
“I am the epitome of incuriousness.”
“Yeah, meow.”

They talked and laughed over their tea, and as the sun peeked over the horizon, they had finally reached a point where they could admit they were finally tired. Clearing up the mugs and washing them, Yui shooed her nephew out of the kitchen and back to his bedroom.

Chapters

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Chapter name
Part One: The Setup
Created
31 Dec 2021
Last Edited
31 Dec 2021
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153
Words
3294