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43 Are You Still A Soldier?



Eiji's family politely offered the men choice spots and pickings at the table of food laid out before them. Eiji frowned, worried Futuba had emptied out their pantry.

"Okāsan. Are you sure this amount is okay to lay out? Especially since we didn't turn up with something to offer." He worryingly whispered to his mother in-law and gulped at the stern look she gave him.

"Baka. You're family. Since when do family present gifts. Besides, what sort of ill bred host would I be if I only served you scraps," Futuba explained.

She handed him a bottle of sake. "You have a point. So, have one of your German doctor friends give this to Ojisan when they greet him."

Eiji nodded and handed Tyne the bottle with instructions that Tyne knowingly understood.

Their conversation was interrupted by the sounds of another person entering the main room.

An elderly man stepped into the room. He was rack-thin in his kimono with his stubbly greybeard giving him an image of strength to his wrinkly face and brown eyes. His grey coarse hair was held up in topknot with strands tumbling about his shoulders.

He paused with shock at his unexpected guests. His shock eased into a warm smile at the sight of Eiji.

"Haru-ojisama." Eiji respectfully greeted his elder and helped him to the best seat at the table.

"Aiya. Boy, you make me feel old doing this for me." Haru brushed off Eiji's fussing as he sat at the spot offered him.

He looked at Tyne, Sean and Kei with stern scrutiny. Tyne took it as an opportunity to formally introduce them, handing over an unopened bottle of Haru's favourite sake as their offering.

This seemed to ease Haru's concerns a little, knowing the men were familiar with Japanese customs and spoke fluently in their language.

Everyone ate on Haru's cue, making sure no morsel was left in a bowl. Futuba and the kids saw to cleaning up, allowing the men time to relax and talk.
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Eiji stiffened when Haru mentioned his father's name in their conversation.

"I see that Misaki Takaki is renewed his term as a Tokyo Governor." Haru tested Eiji for his reaction and chuckled at the man's obvious tension. "I also see you still have no love for that man."

Eiji held his silence.

Haru's testing conversation turned to the reasons for Tyne and Sean's presence in Japan. He didn't seem convinced on their German doctor disguise. Regardless, he was giving them a chance since they were in Eiji's company. His conversation moved back to Eiji.


"Does Hina-chan know you're back in town?"

Eiji sighed and shook his head. Haru's tone of voice softened upon seeing the man's regretful expression.

At first the idea of Hinata being besotted by a man worried him. He didn't like the idea originally, since he was of a traditional mindset that believed that sort of love could only be between a man and a woman.

Hinata and Eiji were the two that changed his mindset when he saw their mutual affection and devotion strengthen as they faced their adversities head on. Especially when Eiji had dropped his schooling to work in a factory and provide for Hinata and his family before his father spitefully enlisted him to war to satisfy his own campaigns.

Haru knew that the money they were living on was from Eiji and Hinata, although his pride as a man of the house wouldn't openly acknowledge their generosity.

He carefully eyed Eiji as he asked, "Are you still a soldier for our country?"

Eiji sighed and flicked the other men pensive glances before answering with a no. He tried to ignore their set expressions.

"Well, make yourselves comfortable doctors. Our community needs lots of medical help." Haru ended his scrutiny.

Eiji sighed, glad his uncle in-law was willing to accept their cover.

Dinner talks ended when Haru made himself more comfortable on the tatami and fell asleep.

Keiko and Riku saw them back to their rooms where they innocently gave the men information about their community and change of management within the Tonarigumi. As some of their friends' parents had recently taken up important roles there. They were unskilled on Eiji's cues to stay quiet or ignoring his attempts to turn the conversation away to harmless topics.

He sighed when they left and the four of them were alone in their room.

"If you use their information to harm my family's home and neighbourhood, I will haunt you for eternity." Eiji threatened them.

Tyne laughed off his empty threats. "Like I take that as a threat. You should know me by now that I wouldn't dream of it."

"You're still an American soldier regardless." Eiji carefully whispered.

"With a Japanese wife, as I'm sure you would've guessed by now." Tyne argued his case.

"If your country asked you for intelligence that led to a bomb drop on our cities, would you give it if you suspected this?" Eiji soberly laid out his concerns.

Tyne and Sean looked conflicted by Eiji's question.

Of course, it had been plaguing their minds. Air raids was one thing, but to drop a bomb on a civilian city didn't sit well with of them.

"Honestly, Eiji, I don't know." Sean looked Eiji in the eye with his answer.

Tyne sighed and turned away.

"Webber-sensei." Eiji sarcastically called Tyne by his cover identity.

"You should know me by now. How could I feel great about something like that?" Tyne angrily answered back.

"What about you Kei?" Eiji quizzed Kei who had been watching the conversation apathetically.

"As long as you don't drop a bomb on me. Like I care." Kei honestly answered.

Eiji figured this would be that man's answer, so wasn't shocked by it.

Their heart-to-heart conversation was challenged by sudden sounds of sirens stressing their warning of a pending air raid.

The ground trembled and familiar heavy thuds outside automated the men into soldier mode. They grabbed Tama and raced out of the room to gather the others into an evacuation formation.

Everyone ran outside for the neighbourhood shelters; the sounds of rapid gunfire with sporadic flashing and raining metal followed their heels. The cover of trees fortunately absorbed most of the shooting, stirring splinters of wood into the air around their sprints. They kept their aim for the underground neighbourhood bunker at the end of the forest path.

"Hurry Ojisan!" Futuba cried out as the elderly man started to lag behind.

"Get on my back!" Sean knelt down before the elderly man.

Haru reluctantly climbed onto Sean's back and groaned at the man's sprints that carried him to the shelter and safety before a shower of gunfire could strike their bodies.

Tyne slammed the bunker's door closed when the last person entered and it was clear no one else was left behind.