[CLOSED] A Weekend In Tokyo - Part 1

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[CLOSED] A Weekend In Tokyo - Part 1

Post by Jimmy Cohen on Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:21 pm

[Sorry, admins, didn't know where else to put this! If you have a better place just let me know in a reply and I'll take this down and relocate it. Quite a long one, hope it's good.]

Jimmy stood on the platform of the Sendai train station, taking in a series of breaths from his oxygen tank. The air was thick and stifling, taking a toll on his lungs. He was half-watching the people bustle by, keeping his eyes fixed right in front of where his train was due to arrive. The train eventually announced its arrival with a shrill squeal of the brakes as it slowed to a halt. Jimmy stepped onto the first carriage that appeared in front of him and took his seat. The train journey to Tokyo wasn't particularly long, but Jimmy settled in, pulled his hood over his head and wrestled with himself to reach a peaceful, dreamless sleep. He stirred again as the train began to inch its way onto the platform at the Tokyo station. Once the train completely stopped, Jimmy wheeled his oxygen tank to the door, struggling to lift it over the lip of the train and back down onto the concrete slabs of the platform. He caught a pretty dark-haired girl watching him strain to get leverage, seemingly debating whether to help him or not. But by the time she took a tentative step towards him to help, the trolley holding his oxygen tank had been raised into the air and set back down again. Her face reddened with guilt, so Jimmy gave her a small, sheepish grin to let her know it was ok. The girl smiled back. Suddenly, he felt a huge impact against his chest, letting out a grunt and turning his attention away from the girl to see that his stepsister had more or less flung herself at him. He put his arms around Ayuko.
"Yo, sis." He said, beaming.
"Hey, Jimmy." Ayuko replied, hauling her weight off him. He locked eyes with the girl one last time over his shoulder. She raised her hand in a timid wave and Jimmy reciprocated the gesture more confidently, still smiling. Ayuko picked up on this, seeing the girl and looking at Jimmy with a smug grin.
"Sorry, am I ruining your moment?" She teased. He turned back to his stepsister with a glare.
"Don't start on giving me shit just yet, I need a minute to get into gear." Jimmy groaned.
"Can't handle a light roasting? That's not the Jimmy I know!" She exclaimed, pretending to be shocked. She wasn't going to let it go.
"No, right now I'm just not up to it. I missed you, Ayuko. Wish I could've come down sooner. Where's Hirokazu at?"
"He's in the car. Left it running."
"Let's not keep him waiting then, we can catch up in the car, yeah?"
"Sure." Ayuko smiled and led Jimmy back to the car. Jimmy loaded the boot with his oxygen tank, taking a last breath before closing the lid and getting in.
"Hey, Jim." Hirokazu greeted, his hands on the steering wheel, softly drumming his fingers on the plastic casing to the beat of the song playing on the radio.
"Hey, Dad. You're vibing out to this song, eh?" Jimmy asked, picking up on his stepfather's subtle gestures. Hirokazu grinned. 'Dad' was a new development to him. He would have said something, but that wouldn't have prompted a positive response from Jimmy. He knew to just roll with it. It could only mean something good. He pressed his foot on the accelerator and pulled out of the parking lot.
"Yeah, I like this. Hey, you're well into your music, do you know who this is?"
Jimmy paused to listen to the song intently for a moment. His eyebrows rose as he recognised the band.
"Yeah, I've got a few of their albums. They're a pop-punk band from... Osaka, I think? I'll have to show you what I've got."
"Great. I knew you'd get it. Ready to visit your mother?" Hirokazu asked with a smile.
"For sure. How's she doing?"
"Not too well, I'm afraid. She feels terribly guilty. She needs her son. It'll be good for her to see you. There are some things I think she needs to hear from you, Jim."
"I'll do what I can for her." Jimmy said.
"Then it's dinner with Ayuko's boyfriend, right?" Hirokazu asked.
"Right." Ayuko confirmed.
"Oh, I get to meet the wonderful Yoshida for myself? I wasn't told about that..." Jimmy teased. Ayuko blushed.
"We'll see. I haven't met the boy myself yet. But he's been good to Ayuko through this hard time, so I have to try not to be too hard on him just yet. Can you try to keep me in check, Jim?" Hirokazu joked with a booming laugh. Jimmy joined in a little.
"Yeah, I'll make sure you behave." He grinned.

After a while of idle small talk to catch up with his family, they reached the institution where Azumi was staying. Hirokazu pulled in front and Jimmy got out, taking his oxygen tank out from the boot of the car.
"I need to drop Ayuko off at home. She's cooking the dinner for the useless men tonight, and she wants to pretty herself up for her visitor. I'll meet you out here in two hours. Is that ok?" Hirokazu asked, leaning over the now empty passenger seat.
"Sounds like a plan to me. I'll see you then, Dad." Jimmy said, making his way to the front entrance, wheeling his oxygen tank behind him. He entered the place, met with sterile white tiles and the smell of strong bleach. It pretty much looked like any other hospital. Everything seemed cold and inhuman. It was all painted the same bright white colour and every part of the architecture blended into one another. It was hard to tell where the floor ended and the walls began. He walked to the laminated wooden desk of the reception, behind which a bored woman who looked far too experienced to still be working behind a reception desk turned her eyes to him, doing very little else in the way of acknowledging his presence.
"Hi there, I'm here to see Azumi Hashimoto." Jimmy said, breaking the total silence in the air. The receptionist glared at him like he wasn't supposed to speak at all, furiously clicking the mouse of the computer monitor in front of her and typing on the keyboard rapidly. One final double-click and she just nodded, pointing through a set of double doors. Jimmy set off, the wheels of his trolley squeaking a little as he went. He really needed to oil it. He decided to do so when he got back home. A bulky security guard met him behind the doors. This wasn't the visitation room just yet. There were metal detectors and a conveyor with plastic trays that went through scanners, and a small queue of people timidly shuffling their way through to see their family members.
"What the hell is that?! Do you think you can bring that in here?" The guard bellowed, pointing to Jimmy's oxygen tank. Jimmy rolled his eyes. Here we go...
"It's an oxygen tank. I need it for my lung."
"Lung? We have no record of a visitor with lung issues."
"That's because I haven't been here before and I wasn't exactly expecting airport security round here."
"We have to do what we can, and I say that tank is hazardous."
"Can you explain why it's a danger if nobody including myself have any equipment on our person that could make it hazardous?"
"It's my job to judge who and what is a danger. I say you're dangerous. If you want to get through here with that you need a signed piece of paper from a certified medical professional. Otherwise, you need to leave. End of discussion." The guard barked loudly.
Jimmy was beginning to get fed up. The guard seemed to love this little power trip.
"I've dealt with enough shit recently." Jimmy mumbled. The guard's face went red.
"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!" He bellowed.
"I said I've dealt with enough shit recently. I need this oxygen tank and I need to see my mother. I'm getting through here." Jimmy stated calmly.
"Not if I have something to say about it. And I do." The guard said, squaring off to Jimmy now. The others in the queue were getting unsettled. Jimmy lowered his voice.
"Of course you have something to say about it, Mr. Self-Important. But that something is a very stupid decision." Jimmy pointed to his injured lung.
"You see this? This is where a psychopathic schoolboy shot me two years ago, in the largest school massacre to occur in Japan for over 20 years. My mother is a wreck because of it, and now my lung collapses on a regular basis. Every second I talk increases the chance of it happening. Every breath I take increases the chance of my lung collapsing in my chest again. Now, unless you want the innocent teenage son of a mentally unstable woman keeling over dead in your visitation room, I suggest let me through. With the goddamned tank." Jimmy continued in a low growl. He heard a few gasps and shocked exclamations from the other people in the queue. And some had little grins on their faces. They liked seeing this guard getting taken down a peg by a fed-up teenager. Even some of the other guards seemed to be stifling laughter at their supposed comrade's embarrassment. The guard backed off.
"Let him keep the damn tank." He said with a resigned sigh.
"They really don't pay me enough for this shit." The guard muttered under his breath. He got through security and into the visitation room.

Jimmy was finally face-to-face with his mother for the first time since he started at Yamaku. Her hair was unkempt and greasy. She'd completely withdrawn since her institutionalisation. Her eyes were glazed over, empty as she sat at the table. The eyes of someone who had nothing to say. She seemed uncomfortable in this unfamiliar environment; cold stone walls painted a bright white seemed to prevent the concept of heat ever allowing to introduce itself to the patients. Everything seemed dull. Colours all seemed to be washed out, drained of life. Just like his mother. Jimmy had no idea what state his mother was in. Depression? Shame? Anxiety? Or was it something even deeper? Azumi sighed loudly, her head hanging, her face becoming obscured by her hair.
"Mom... It's ok. I'm here. You just have to get through the court mandated therapy and everything will be back to normal." Jimmy tried to assure her, not knowing if any of that was what she needed to hear. A heartbroken smile played over his mother's lips as her eyes welled up with tears.
"I wish that just this once I could be the one telling you everything's going to be fine." She said, her voice quaking.
"I'm not the one who needs to hear it, Mom." Jimmy replied.
"Jimmy, you're my son, you shouldn't have to take these pressures on. You've experienced something well beyond my worst fears and come out just as strong as ever. You deserve a mother, not a burden that happened to give birth to you."
"Mom, who raised me?"
"Well..."
"Don't even start, Mom. You did. You raised me. Single-handedly. You know what that means? That means I had to take on some things that others don't always have to so early on. But that helped me to mature. That made me strong. I felt like I could give back to you when you needed me to. That meant I had the capability to survive what I did, that also meant that I was able to help your anxieties. That's something I've learned because of you. Do you know how many times that has helped me? You equipped me to be able to handle these burdens. You didn't weigh me down, you carried yourself enough to teach me what I needed to learn. If you hadn't raised me, I never would have got to where I am now." Jimmy said, switching between English and Japanese between sentences, his tone becoming stern but loving, like a parent giving their child a lecture. The irony of this parallel wasn't lost on him.
"But it's not my job to teach you how to tolerate pain, I'm supposed to protect you from it, at any cost."
"The world hurts people. That's just how things go. You can't control every outside factor that went into what happened to me, no matter what. Look, let's say what happened was destined to happen. No matter where I was, no matter who raised me, this shooting happened anyway. What kind of person do you think I'd be after that without having lived the life I've had?"

Azumi didn't reply. He stopped and took a breath from his oxygen tank before he continued.
"I'd be an absolute wreck. I'd probably find myself in a place like this, for good. I'd walk away without being able to do anything for myself. You know what's happened to most of the other kids that lived through that? They've done one of two things: fallen apart completely or come out the other side with scars that'll never fade, but as strong-willed survivors who refuse to let this crush them. Guess what all those survivors have in common? One way or another, they've faced challenges in their lives before and they've learned to get by. The one thing I've really begun to understand by going to Yamaku is that there are lots of people out in the world and a lot of them have lived easier lives than I have, but even more have had way tougher lives and just kept picking themselves back up. What I went through that day was awful, but by comparison to what some of the people I've met must have gone through over the course of their entire lives, my moment of pain is nothing. I know you wish you could have done something to stop this, but you couldn't. You did the best you could by equipping me to handle myself. Maybe that wasn't what you wanted for me, but that's what worked. I've got plenty of good memories, too. The hard times were very tough, but there was a lot of good mixed in with it, I don't want you to forget that." Tears fell down Azumi's face and she squeezed Jimmy's hand for comfort as it rested on the table.
"I just want you to have not needed any of that. I want to have given you only the good memories. You'll understand when you have children of your own..." She sniffed and regained her composure.
"Enough of the regret, how has school been? Made some good friends?" She asked with an optimistic smile. Jimmy had to mull over his answer, what to embellish to make his mother happy.
"Yeah, school's been ok. Class is a bit dry with the tuition I had before I showed up and all, but I can manage. But the best part is the social stuff, I've made some good friends..." That last part felt like more of a lie than a truth, but it wasn't entirely false. He took another breath.
"Tell me about these friends, then." Azumi pressed. Jimmy's brain whirred to get answers. But another thought lingered: who could he honestly call a friend? Since their last meeting, the rift between him and Ryuu had grown, he was really wrestling with something, and he wasn't letting Jimmy in on it. Were they still friends? He really didn't know anymore. Toshiaki? He seemed ok, but they'd only really briefly spoken at his party in the forest. Chiharu was a good class partner, but they hadn't really clicked yet. Maybe that was to come later, but it hadn't happened yet. Takumi hardly said a word before he up and left, and it was impossible to know what Sora was thinking, they'd hardly had much of an exchange either. Kai was perhaps the closest obvious answer, but even their interaction had seemed restrained in some way. There needed to be much more progress with his interactions before he would genuinely call any of them friends, although he would, for his mother's sake.

"There's this mute boy Ryuu, who used to be in a band I quite liked for a while. Real famous one, he writes on a tablet now because I don't know sign language, although I should probably try... Then there's Sora, the first person I met at Yamaku. Saw him on my first day out in the park. He's quite a quirky person, to say the least. But he's really nice. There's a Hawaiian boy named Kai... Who else? Oh, Toshiaki, Mizo and Takumi too." Jimmy tried to fake enthusiasm, as though he had so many stories to tell his mother about all of them, when the reality was a little different. Jimmy had never realised just how lonely he truly was at Yamaku until he falsely listed off his acquaintances as if they were close friends. His mother beamed and gave a warm laugh, though. His deception had obviously worked.
"Slow down there... That's quite the list. I always knew you'd do well there. Any girls to talk about?" His mother pressed even harder.
"Not really. I'm working on it, though. There are some really cute girls around school. Must be something in the air there..." His mother laughed, but her expression then softened into a gentle concern. She almost looked like her former self.
"Are you really ready to move on, Jimmy?"
"I'm ready to not be stuck in the past. I miss Hikari every day, but I can't bring her back. I've just got to go forwards. I'm not going anywhere otherwise, there's no such thing as time travel. I'm moving on because there's nowhere else to go, and I need to move in some way."
"As long as you feel happy to do that."
"It's been over two years now. I feel like it's time to move out of my comfort zone, find a new one."
"That's good start."
"I hope so. Yamaku's a fresh page for me to make my own. I want to make the best of it." He said, pulling out his phone as it buzzed. A text from Hirokazu.
"I'm outside now, see you in 5?"
Jimmy shot off a quick reply.
"Sure thing. Saying my goodbyes now. See you out there."
"Hirokazu?" Azumi asked.
"Yeah. My ride's here."
"Bye Jimmy. It's been so amazing to see you again. I'm so glad to hear you're doing well. We're all proud of you. I love you."
"I love you too, Mom. I'll visit you again before I go back."
"See how it goes. You don't have to. I'll be out of here soon anyway." She said, trying to be strong for her boy. As she looked at the teenager across from her he began to look less and less like her baby son, and more like a man. Jimmy stood up and gave his mother a tight, loving hug before he wheeled his oxygen tank away from the table and made for the exit, getting a dirty look from the security guard he'd butted heads with earlier as he passed through the security room and back into the main atrium. Hirokazu's car was right outside the entrance, just as he'd said. Jimmy hurriedly got in. Not wanting to stay near the awful place his mother was shacked up in.
"How's she doing?" Hirokazu asked.
"You're right that she needed to see me. I needed to set her straight on more than a few things. I think she's doing better. She just felt guilty, mostly. And worried about how I'm doing. I think I managed to dispel the worst of it. I hope so."
"Good, that's what I wanted to hear. So, are you ready for dinner? Ayuko's cooking up something nice."
"Hell yeah I am. I haven't been cooking myself proper food much."
"Can you not afford it? I told you I'm happy to support you financially."
"No, Dad, I'm just... uninspired, I guess. Honestly, money's fine." Despite having a fairly decent allowance for his stay at Yamaku, Jimmy had still been mostly living on the cheap. He didn't even know why, perhaps he just couldn't be bothered to go for extravagance. He had to go into the city for that, otherwise the Aura-Mart was the only thing near Yamaku that was halfway decent for food, and it wasn't exactly great for having lots of different options.
"Well, take some notes from Ayuko tonight. Get some nutrition in your body!"
"Ok, ok. I will..." Jimmy laughed, watching the familiar Tokyo scenery passing the car window with a grin on his face. He was home again.
[To be continued. Eventually...]
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Jimmy Cohen

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