After two weeks of arguments, stalemates, and legal paperwork, Shibazaki finally was given custody of Twelve and Nine. When the boys were told to choose new names for themselves, they chose Hisami and Kokonoe respectively. After everything was signed, double and triple checked, they headed out into the countryside towards the country house.
The trip was done in complete silence. Any attempts from Shibazaki to create conversation failed to pierce through the wall the boys had surrounded themselves in. When they finally reached the house, it was late in the afternoon under the heat of the midsummer.
Everyone exited the car and stared at the rather plain house. “It’s not much,” sighed Shibazaki, “But it’s not a bad place to live. We’ll probably have to open all the windows to air it out. Other than that, everything should be the same as it was a month ago. What do you two think?” He turned back to Hisami and Kokonoe.
Kokonoe stared at the house with a clearly unimpressed and bored expression, while Hisami looked up in wonder, clearly eager to explore. Shibazaki smirked at them before heading towards the front door.
The next hour went by in a blur, all the windows were opened and the moving van finally arrived. While the moving men and Shibazaki moved the furniture, what little Shibazaki had brought from his apartment, Kokonoe and Hisami explored the backyard.
The backyard had a short stone wall that bordered the property. Beyond it was a large field that eventually ended where the forest began. Kokonoe sat on the wall and looked out towards the forest while Hisami studied everything around the wall.
The sounds of cicadas echoed through the air and voices from the house faded in and out. After a few more minutes, Kokonoe finally spoke. “I think we should run away in a few days.”
Hisami stopped his exploration and whipped his head to look at his friend and brother. “Run away?” he questioned. “You don’t want to stay?”
Kokonoe eyed Hisami coldly. “I don’t trust that detective. He’s probably just here to keep an eye on us, to make sure we don’t escape. This is all just a lie, another cage.”
Hisami stared at the short stone wall. “It’s not a very good cage.”
“Twelve!” Kokonoe growled.
“Nine.” Hisami answered back. “I don’t think Shibazaki would do that. Did you see what he did? He was angry for us. He shouted at his boss for us. I don’t think he faked that.”
“That’s what he wants you to think.”
“Well,” he went back to poking at the wall. “I want to see what it’s like, to live in a house and have someone take care of us.”
Kokonoe glared and wordlessly returned back to staring into the forest.
“Hey!” Hisami and Kokonoe turned around and saw Shibazaki standing on the porch. “The furniture is done being moved around. You can come inside now.”
Hisami immediately ran towards the house, eager to explore the inside. Kokonoe slid off the wall and begrudgingly followed after him. Shibazaki watched Kokonoe slink into the house before disappearing down a hallway. While Hisami ran all around the house and explored all the rooms, Kokonoe stood awkwardly in what he supposed was the living room, eyeing the low table that sat in the center of the room to the various bookshelves that lined the walls.
Soon, Shibazaki returned carrying a wooden board with lines. On top of the board was a small wooden box. He set the board on the low table and sat down on a cushion. Kokonoe realized that the board was a shogi board as Shibazaki began setting up the pieces.
“This board used to be my grandparents.” Kokonoe immediately tensed and watched Shibazaki much like a cat watched a predator. “We used to play a lot of shogi when I was here.” Shibazaki continued. “My grandfather was a champion shogi player who won many tournaments before he retired.” Finally, he finished setting the last piece.
He looked at Kokonoe. “How about a game? I know it isn’t a chess board, but it’s as close to it as I could get.”
Kokonoe remained frozen where he stood, his eyes jumping from the shogi board to Shibazaki warily. Shibazaki remained relaxed as if he hadn’t notice the child’s discomfort. Finally, the boy slowly inched towards the table until he reached the floor cushion. He sat down, though still tense and prepared to flee if necessary. He stared at the board for a few moments before the former detective spoke again.
“Do you know how to play shogi?”
The raven haired boy snapped his head up and leveled a glare at Shibazaki. “Of course I do.” He bowed his head and moved one of his pieces, as if to back his declaration, and then looked Shibazaki in the eye.
Shibazaki bowed his own head with a grin and moved his piece. The two continued their game with fierce concentration that blocked out the outside world. Hisami eventually returned back to the living room and sat between them, eagerly watching the match.
Twenty minutes later, Kokonoe found himself staring blankly at the board. “I… lost?”
“I want to play next!” Hisami began pushing himself up to take Kokonoe’s spot, but Kokonoe pushed him back down.
“No! I want a rematch!” The boy glared accusingly at Shibazaki, possibly suspecting him of cheating.
They went through three more matches, Kokonoe losing every time, and would have done more if not for Hisami’s growling stomach. Hisami hunched over, embarrassed while Shibazaki threw back his head and laughed. “I guess I should make some dinner for us.” He smiled.
Kokonoe muttered under his breath as he glared at the board. Shibazaki chuckled and ruffled his hair, which caused the boy to blink up at him in surprise. “Don’t worry,” smiled Shibazaki, “Everyone has been a beginner at least once in their life. I couldn’t beat my grandfather when I was younger but that never stopped me from practicing. If you keep practicing, you’ll beat me in no time.”
Kokonoe ducked his head, but Shibazaki saw his faint blush anyway. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. Shibazaki frowned. “Who could be visiting at this time?” he murmured as he rose to get the door.
The two children trailed behind after him, also curious to see who could be at the door. When Shibizaki opened the door, he was surprised to see an elderly woman holding a pot.
“Good evening,” she smiled cheerfully. “I heard you were moving in and I wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood. My name is Mishima Yasuba.”
“I’m Shibazaki Kenjirou,” he motioned down to the children standing around his legs. “This is Hisami and Kokonoe.”
She smiled at the children and cooed. “Are they yours?”
Shibazaki shook his head. “They are not mine by blood, but I am taking care of them. We moved here because I felt it would be better than living in Tokyo.”
Yasuba’s eyes softened. “That’s so kind of you.” She smiled down at the boys. “You can call me Obaa-san if you wish. I have a granddaughter about your age, she moved in with me a few weeks ago. She couldn’t come out with me today, but I hope you two could become good friends with her. You should come and visit one day.” She turned and pointed down the street. “My house is only a few doors down. Feel free to drop by whenever you wish. My door is always open.”
She thrust the pot at Shibazaki, who caught it in surprise. “Here, this is for you and your children, a welcome to the neighborhood gift.”
“O-Oh,” he stammered. “You didn’t have to-“
“Nonsense!” she interrupted. “It’s been such a long time since we had a new family move in.”
Shibazaki bowed his head. “Then, thank you for the food.” He gently nudged the children with his foot and they too thanked her for the food.
The three stood in the doorway, watching as the old woman shuffled down the street back to her home. After a while, Shibazaki sighed. “I guess I won’t have to cook dinner. Come on, we better eat this before it gets cold.” He left the doorway and headed towards the kitchen.
Kokonoe closed the door behind him. Hisami moved to follow after their guardian but felt a sudden tug on his sleeve. He turned to see Kokonoe not quite looking him in the eyes. “Maybe we could try staying for a while,” he muttered. “Only to see what it’s like.”
The brunette stared blankly before grinning widely. He launched himself at his brother and hugged him tightly. Kokonoe froze for a moment before awkwardly hugging back. Hisami took his hand and tugged him along. “Let’s go before Shibizaki eats all the food.”
Kokonoe smiled softly back and the two boys followed the scent of curry into their new home.
So I made part 2, amazingly. Turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. Hopefully I haven’t missed any typos or mistakes. I bet everyone can guess who the granddaughter is. No, the grandmother’s name is not familiar and it totally isn’t the name of that one character in Barakamon.