The Cost Of Loyalty


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Scene Title The Cost Of Loyalty
Synopsis In the aftermath of his firing from Yamagato Industries, Eizen Erizawa finds himself in a negotiation.
Date March 4, 2021

After the week he's had, the absolute last thing Eizen could possibly want is for a member of Japanese Intelligence to show up on his doorstep at his temporary residence.

And yet that's precisely what happens.

Without a place to land after he'd been deported from essentially not just one, but two countries, and bereft of the sanctuary working for a megacorporation like Yamagato provided an Evolved citizen of Japan like himself, he had the fortune to at least secure a hotel for an extended period of time. He knows, logically, review of his ability will be required soon— a meeting that will determine what brand of second-class citizen he'll find himself labeled as in the eyes of his country. And for a brief moment, when the trenchcoated stranger on the other side of the door flashes his badge rather than introduce himself, he can't help but feel his stomach drop and assume that meeting's somehow come early.

But the agent is alone; and after he folds away his badge, he pinches his fingers together before him, pinky out, then tips his hand back in a sign for…

"You drink?" Genki asks him in lazy Japanese.

Noodle Stand 'Tokyo'
Shibuya-shi, Jingumae, Tokyo

March 4th
7:12 pm Local Time

Hunched over a bowl of ramen purchased with a ticket from a vending machine, the darkened grounds of Meiji Shrine as far away in one direction from them as Harajuku Police Station lights the other, Genki Nagano slurps up a mouthful of food rightfully still too hot to eat.

"Some luck," he notes without particular emotion between bites.

Next to him sits a cold beer poured into a chilled mug. The seats at the bar of the small shack of a storefront seat comfortably only them shoulder to shoulder. Maybe that's the point.

"After all the loyalty you gave them," has a touch more rue to it.

Genki nabs a cluster of bean sprouts and pops those into his mouth next.

"Maybe that's why she wanted me to call on you. Saw a little bit of her own situation in it." He frowns to himself for a moment, chasing that thought with a sip of broth from a broad spoon.

There’s been suspicion in Eizen’s eyes ever since Genki showed up, but it’s a mild one. This far along he knows which she the officer is referring to. In contrast to Genki, Eizen hasn’t touched his food. Instead, he’s sat with his hands folded in his lap and posture stooped ever so subtly.

Those who know Eizen better wouldn’t even recognize him in his current state. His casual clothes instead of an expensive suit, and most of all his hair worn down loose around his shoulders rather than meticulously tied back. He fixes Genki with the languid stare of a coffee shop poet, not the alert gaze of a security professional.

“Is that so?” Eizen much-belatedly asks.

Genki responds only by letting out a tone of agreement before taking another steaming bite from his bowl. With the kind of discussion surely around the corner, he'd like at least a bite or two before he might lose the chance to sample the meal at all. He's decided it's not terrible.

"I know the truth behind it. The setup it was. How she was left hung out to dry." It's a thought that requires a modest sip from his beer to ease whatever taste it's left him with. "I don't know your situation, admittedly, but this is the first time we've spoken in nearly two years, and all she wanted was to verify your safety." He asks after with a lift of brow, "You sleep with her?"

He's dead serious. Completely certain she'd not take an interest in anyone otherwise.

But also skeptical, in the other half of his breath.

Eizen chokes on air in response. He is a man that is never flustered, never stricken by this sort of thing. He’s also never really met Genki before, and it is to his detriment.

No.” is Eizen’s emphatic response. “I—am honestly uncertain why you are here, why she has any concern for me, or why you are not interrogating me on…” he lowers his voice, “pressing matters. She and I did not know each other overly well, and my professional failures are responsible for more than one tragedy in her life.”

Genki seems less interested now, the nasal drone he emits indicative of his disapproval of this lack of an exciting answer as much as Eizen seeming down on himself in its aftermath.

"There's time for all of that," he balks quietly. "Later, not over food." He does set aside his utensils to pull out his phone, and sets it on the counter between them. His tone is light as he says, "I think she'll want to talk to you herself, if it matters." His voice dips then. "But once that's done, my business here is done, and I'll go."

He turns his head toward Eizen more fully, jaw rolling before he lets go of the phone. "There's other questions I'd ask of you, though. Not an interrogation. Call it— merely professional curiosity for now." His drink slowly tips back to him again. "Regarding the full scope of the work you did for Yamagato while under their employ."

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Eizen says with casual dismissiveness. “I sat behind a desk, answered emails, and reviewed security reports. Nothing glamorous.” He eyes the phone placed between them, then blinks his attention back to Genki. “I bet you’ve seen more action than I have. Dangerous job, yours.”

The corner of Genki's mouth kicks up in a smirk as he sets his mug back down. "If only that were so," he sighs whimsically to some part of Eizen's reply. "You had a reputation before you accepted the position, one outside the country, that brought you to catch Yamagato's eye the way it did in the first place. Those sorts of sharp skills aren't something a business like theirs would let grow dull."

"They have a penchant for defending secrets, historically-speaking," he observes quietly, but blithely. "So much we'll not ever know we don't know," and he flicks a look back to Eizen. "But that's life, isn't it?"

"I'm curious, was it Yamagato you gave your loyalty to, or certain people? The Nakamuras…" Genki dithers, head canting to the side as he adds, "The Otomos?"

Eizen’s stare shifts from silent to warning. It’s a subtle shift, the way his brows come together and his jaw tenses, it changes the lines of his face from gentle to harsh quickly. But rather than disengage, Eizen leans further into the social theater. He picks up his utensils, the bowl in his other hand, and quietly begins to eat without so much as saying a word to Genki.

But then, Eizen’s eyes say many more things. Watch yourself being one of them.

The smug look doesn't quite leave Genki, and he spends a moment studying Eizen further before turning back to his own bowl. This time, he takes the time to blow on his noodles before savoring them. Rooting around next for a piece of meat, he remarks, "I can't help but wonder what a man with pride like yours would do when suddenly forced to reintegrate with a country that's far different than he left it. How challenging that must…"

Genki pauses, then notes like it were afterthought, "Will be."

Eizen slurps his noodles, loudly, while making prolonged eye contact at Genki. Once more, Eizen is silent, adopting a sort of passive-aggressive posture. Once he’s done making as much noise while eating as possible, Eizen sets the bowl back down.

“Get to the point,” Eizen finally says, under threat of additional slurping. “Or let me finish my meal in peace.”

Genki lets out a quiet 'aha' under his breath as he snakes out just what he was looking for. Pleased as punch, he admits, "Well I'm sure you've heard that, similar to working for a company such as Yamagato, government service has its benefits. With the added bonus of not being as dangerous as work for, say, the Mugai-Ryu."

He pops the thin half-slice of pork into his mouth.

"You have invaluable international experience," he notes a little more loudly around his food, eyes down on his bowl. "A resume that speaks for itself. And the way I see it, one about to be flushed down the toilet unless you make a move for yourself quickly. The kinds of opportunities afforded to someone like yourself…" Genki tilts his head back, breathing out to cool his bite before swallowing and continuing in a more muted, serious voice. "They're slim these days. The steel mill incident, the minister's death, it's roused sentiments making it harder for shinka-jin to get work suitable to their merits."

He rolls his tongue against the inside of his cheek. Quietly, he openly admits, "I can't pretend to know what I'd do were I in your shoes. You've lost more than just an employer. But I'd like to think there's room yet for rewarded loyalty in your life… even if it takes a different form than you'd expect."

Now Genki regards Eizen out of the corner of his eye neither lackadaisically nor with the overt paring-knife sharpness he'd briefly adopted. This is something different, something steady, if hushed.

He has a lifetime of looking down on others to come back from. To make up where he's let others down. Where he wasn't fast enough to make a difference. If he has that choice, he won't let it happen again here.

"This is all hypothetical, at this phase. I've not so much as breathed your name to anyone." Genki doesn't let go of his chopsticks, but he leans onto his other forearm as he settles in against the counter. "But as far as outside candidates go, you'd be an easy recommendation to make."

"Assuming," he says with a lift and gesture of the tips of his utensils. "You'd be interested."

Eizen narrows his eyes, setting aside his food. Suspicions burn in that stare, but also certainty. Nothing Genki has said is wrong. It’s just not what Eizen wants to hear. He swallows, audibly, and looks down at the table.

“One question,” Eizen says, staring into the wood grain… remembering the last time he was in this predicament.

Thirteen Years Earlier

Shinjuku Station
Shinjuku, Tokyo

March 15th


All of the lights in the train station flicker, power is out for three blocks. There are no passengers on the train now, the bags of those who fled the platform are left where they were dropped. Nine young men in leather jackets lay scattered around the terminal platform with baseball bats, knives, chains, and other improvised weapons laid out beside them. Sometimes the young men twitch, but mostly they lie as still as a corpse.

In the center of the collapsed men, like the pistil of a flower, Eizen Erazawa sits with his legs pulled up to his chest and forehead pressed against his knees. He rocks back and forth, whispering to himself, short hair matted to his head in spots where blood weeps through his scalp. His hands are scarred by small cuts from the bloody knife nearby.

The intermittent buzz and click of the lights is interrupted by the hollow, echoing sound of approaching footsteps. Eizen looks up, seeing a half dozen men in sleek black suits converging on his position with guns drawn. He doesn’t move to meet them. Instead, he just lays his brow back against his knees.

Eventually, only one set of footsteps can be heard drawing nearer. When that, too, grows silent Eizen looks up to find an old man looming over him. The other agents in their sleek suits are holding back, leaving this weathered old man alone.

Eizen swallows, his next words breathless as if he’d just run a marathon. “I could kill you.” He says with a shaky voice. “Aren’t you afraid?”

The old man narrows his eyes, then with unflinching confidence replies. “I do not have time for fear. Mr. Erizawa.”

Eizen tenses when the old man says his name. He looks at him more closely, at the gray in his hair, the creases on his face, he doesn’t recognize him. Eizen’s eyes convey a wordless question, which the old man answers by slowly taking a knee in front of Eizen.

“My name is Kaito Nakamura,” the old man says, offering out a gloved hand to Eizen, “and I have a question for you, Mr. Erizawa.”

Eizen stares up at Kaito with wide eyes.

Present Day

“If you were in my shoes, what would you do next?” Eizen asks Genki, a question echoed from across time.

Genki Nagano is no Kaito Nakamura. He sits with his arms still folded against the countertop and taps the tips of his disposal chopsticks together in thought. "I'd do what I had to to keep the same level of freedom I've become accustomed to," he finally answers. He shifts a glance over at Eizen. "Perhaps that sounds also self-serving for my own interests, if you were me in this hypothetical, but there's something to be said about mutually-beneficial arrangements."

Without going back to his food, he says, "I think that's what's going to make your hire such an easy thing to argue. Everyone will see how this benefits you the same way they see how it benefits us. There will be safety in that knowledge."

Rolling his tongue against the inside of his cheek, Genki admits, "And there will be room for trust to mutually grow. It isn't a necessary thing, by any means, but it could go a long way, and have far-reaching effects. There aren't many—" if any, come to think of it, "analysts with…"

"Abilities." His voice remains even, no disdain. It just took him a moment to find the right phrasing.

"And as such, plenty of room to start changing minds about people who have them." Genki says as much without looking back to Eizen, leaning forward to take another bite of his food.

Eizen hums thoughtfully, then looks down to his half-finished meal. He sits in silence for a time, then slowly turns on his stool to face Genki, extending one leg down to touch his foot to the floor. He doesn’t rise, but it gives him the posture of someone who may yet choose to.

Instead of looking at Genki, Eizen looks past him. To the street at their backs, to the buildings across the street, to the city beyond the block that rises high into neon-drenched skies, to the monolithic skyscraper bleeding neon green into the night. Yamagato Tower.

“I do not much care for the freedom of old,” Eizen says, pressing one hand down onto the bar as he slides off of his stool. “So, I will pass on this most generous offer of yours.” Eizen slips his hand off of the bar, leaving a card face down where his hand was. “I have better offers, on better horizons.”

Stepping up to Genki, Eizen reaches out and brushes something off of the other man’s shoulder, then looks him up and down. “Thank you for the meal,” he adds, before stepping around Genki and onto the street.

"Hm." Genki narrows his eyes down into his bowl, slurping up noodles once he begins to understand where the conversation is leading. "Well, should that change…"

But Eizen is already standing to go, leaving little room to say much else. With a disgruntled note, he looks away from the door as it slides shut again back to his bowl. His tongue rolls against his cheek, head tucking in thought.

"Better offer?" It sticks with him. Makes him wonder. The card left behind on the counter is noted, pinched at, and turned over so it sits face-up.


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