Kei and HJ enter into the house, only to find it empty at the current moment.
Kei: (Thinking) Everyone is out at the same time? That’s a rare occurrence. (To HJ) I’ll show you where to leave your things for now.
HJ: All right. Somewhere I can find them later would be a good thing.
Kei leads HJ to his own room, so HJ could place his things inside. He opens the door, and lets HJ walk in to drop off his stuff.
Kei: Is there anyone you need to contact? To let them know you got here safely?
HJ: Yeah… my wife and kids obviously. As well as a few others, but my family is at the top of the list. They know I was leaving, they for one should know I got here safely.
Kei walks over to the desk and types quickly to open up a digital screen. HJ quietly informs Kei of the number to dial, and the two switch places to have HJ sitting in front of the screen and Kei simply standing in the doorway in case he was needed. After a few rings, a woman pops up on the screen.
HJ: Good evening.
Bullet: Oh good, you got there safely. Where exactly are you?
HJ: Staying with a friend of Nick’s, it was his idea I stay here.
Bullet: Well, as long as you arrived there safely, that’s enough for me.
HJ: Wouldn’t have it any other way. How are the kids?
Bullet: They’re both sleeping, probably knocked out from having to say goodbye to you so early in the morning.
HJ: I see, well when they wake up, tell ‘em that I’m all right. I’m pretty sure they’d be glad to hear that.
Bullet: HJ, all I ask is that you stay safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks.
HJ: Right. I understand you. I’ll do my best to be careful.
Bullet: Good. I’ll talk to you soon then.
HJ: Likewise. Love you.
Bullet: Love you too.
The call ends as the two both hang up. Before HJ could stand up from it, Kei speaks.
Kei: Listen, mind if I ask a question or two?
HJ: Go right ahead, I’m all ears.
Kei: How did you go about getting that woman, Bullet, to like you, if you don’t mind my asking?
HJ: It’s a very long story. To make it short, she saved my life from Arakune, I saved her from Relius. We fought some freak, who turned her against me at a point. I saved her...again. After that, Rachel had told us we were to raise a reincarnation of Ragna, who you likely didn’t know about, unless someone had told you already. We were essentially his surrogate parents. I guess during the middle of it, me and her had a conversation, and at some point she asked if I liked parenting the boy. I definitely did, and after that we had decided we’d get married when our fight was all said and done. Why ask?
Kei: (Thinking) That was short? (To HJ) I guess its because I’m thinking about starting a new part of my life in regards to a woman. Part of me is still gone due to my first fiancé passing away before we could get married. Mind you, this isn’t something I share lightly.
HJ: I can understand why… But why ask me…?
Kei: Not sure, but you seem to have a stable marriage, not many people I know do. Thought I’d ask for a tip or two.
HJ: Heh, stable is an understatement to Bullet. As for tips, all I can say is try and at least get to know who you want to get together with, try and start as a good friend. That’s what I did...even if I had trouble at the beginning thanks to a certain kaka.
Kei: I’ll...take that to heart.
At that moment, the front door could be heard opening. As Kei leaves the room to see who it is, he sees Shigure walking in.
Shigure: Hello Kei, what was that call from Nick all about?
Shigure: Oh? We have another guest? My apologies. My name is Shigure. Its a pleasure to meet you.
HJ: Mason, though most people in this world know be by my alias HJ.
Shigure: Nice to meet you, what brings you here?
Kei: Nick wanted me to give him a place to stay since we’re essentially a hotel now.
Shigure: Well, its your house Kei. I’ll make sure to set another plate for dinner tonight. Shigure walks into the kitchen, but that’s when another person walks into the room, carrying a large bag of groceries.
Alexandria: Can’t talk! Trying...not to spill!
Alexandria walks into the kitchen, places the bag on the floor for Shigure, then walks back into the room when she notices the guy standing next to Kei.
Alexandria: Oh! Mister HJ! Its good to see you again!
HJ: Yeah, you too.. (Thinking) Kei found her…?!
Alexandria: How are Miss Miwa and Miss Makoto doing? I know I held them to a promise to keep my being here a secret, but Kei is taking good care of me, so please don’t worry about me.
HJ: Actually..I didn’t know you were here. I’m here for something else, a vacation you could say.
Alexandria: Well, now you know.
HJ: I guess I do, glad to know you’re okay though… Though I likely will never hear the end of it from them if they find out I was here.
With it being close to dinner, the room slowly began to fill up with its inhabitants, each being properly introduced to HJ. Eventually they all sat down for a pleasant meal, quietly enjoying the food Shigure and Alexandria had made. As the two who made the meal, cleared the table, the others made small talk.
Aria: So you’re HJ huh? I gotta say, I thought you would be taller.
HJ: If you expected taller you should’ve seen my brother back in the day. He was quite imposing back then.
Athena: Are you like the commander of the police force?
HJ: You could say that yes… I don’t like bringing my job up much in casual talk.
Athena: Really? I would think it would be great to be on a boat all the time!
Kei: (Whispering, to HJ) Just humor her…
HJ rolls his eyes at Kei, before responding to Athena
HJ: I don’t go on boats often, but I’ll be honest the experience is exhilarating.
Saori: So you’re here for some secret mission then?
HJ: ...wha?! N-no!
Athena: Silly Saori, HJ is here on vacation! Kei will probably take him to find the best sunbeam for him to take a nap under.
Kei: (Thinking) Damn it Saori you’re too smart for your own good…
HJ: I’d likely bring an umbrella though, I don’t wanna get sunburnt...my wife gives me that kind of joke a lot when the family goes out like that. That...and to be honest I like being the bystander, despite my reputation back then.
Yui: So your wife is a comedian or something?
HJ: No, she just finds it funny considering she has her ars magus fire gauntlets. My daughter is planning to take up her legacy with a similar pair… Though I admit I actually did suffer a beat of heat damage back when I had to fight against her...
Athena: Looks like she had you hot under the collar quite a lot then.
Athena was the only one laughing at her own joke.
Kei: (Sighs) You were just waiting to bust that out, weren’t you?
Athena: Aw, c’mon, that was funny! I can see him running around with his pants on fire because his wife got too steamed with him. (In a different voice) Husband, you forgot to take out the trash (Makes sounds effects similar to a fire starting)
Athena keels over with laughter as Kei can only sigh.
HJ: ...Erm, she doesn’t know the context of what I refer to. Though if that DID happen I already know my last words.
HJ smiles as he decides to try and humor Athena once more, spreading his arms out he speaks in a somewhat heavenly voice
HJ: I feel my soul turning into liiiiight!
As the conversation quickly calmed down, and people went their separate ways for what they had to do that night, this left Kei, Shigure, and HJ sitting alone at the table.
Shigure: Now that things have finally calmed down, perhaps we can talk for a bit.
HJ: Yeah...after me and Athena’s little comedy bit of ‘HJ and the fiery volcano that is his wife’, I honestly want to fall asleep, but it’s good that we talk first.
Shigure: I want to know why you’re really here.
Shigure: I know Kei likes to keep secrets, but he still isn’t good enough to keep them from me. So, HJ, your real purpose here, you’re part of the investigation into my brother’s death, correct?
HJ: ...Erm… (Thinking) I’m not breaking that promise...though as much as I want Kei not to kill me, I’m not letting Shigure kill me over it either! (Sighs, then looks at Shigure) Kei’s likely gonna kill me over it, but you hit the nail on the head.
Shigure: That’s what I thought.
Kei: Shigure, I…
Shigure: I understand the reasoning behind why you didn’t want to talk about this in front of me, but now that Alexandria is asleep and the others are busy, this seemed like a good time to bring this subject up. I appreciate that you were trying to spare my feelings, but I’m a strong woman, I can take it. Please tell me, who was behind my brother’s murder.
Kei silently nods to HJ, giving him his content to tell Shigure about what he had told Nick and him.
HJ: From what we know, it’s not who it’s believed to be. It was staged by the S-Class criminal Kon. We’ve no clue if he’s alone or with a group at this point, hence why when I told Nick I was going to assist him with this. Nick brought Kei along, and considering connections that explains his involvement, as well as me being here.
Shigure: I see. That’s a small relief.
HJ: Yeah, we’ve also learned about a common thread between Kon and Mitch. Nicole was the name.
Shigure: Is that so? Please, go on.
HJ: I don’t know much but I do know her whereabouts right now. Though Kei, Nick, and I are gonna need to be careful. Since we don’t know the numbers they could be planning an ambush for us. Trust me I may be a hero, but I’m not hotheaded enough to go in alone, and I honestly thought it’d be a bad idea letting Nick go at things alone. Thats why I thought I should get him involved with this, as well as my own involvement, Nick brought Kei around, like I probably mentioned about a million times by now. So tomorrow we’re gonna go through with our investigation.
Shigure: I had partly figured out that Rin hadn’t been behind my brother’s murder. Simply because of Aria. Aria is close friends with Rin, despite the Branch turning on her when she ‘betrayed’ them in a sense. Aria believes that Rin made a point to drop her in front of our doorstep to help when they attacked her. She believes Rin to be a good person, and so would I. I think there’s a bigger reason behind why Rin would admit to the murder, but Aria won’t entertain my line of reasoning.
HJ: I see, if Aria is from the branch, I may have a question to ask her… mostly about Rin, since when we talked about it at the station, we mentioned that Rin would likely keep things...cleaner when she’d assassinate someone.
Shigure: We all believe Rin isn’t behind the murder, from the information Nick has presented us. What we don’t know is, why someone would put Rin at the forefront to take the blame.
HJ: That’s what I wanna know. Maybe Kon felt like covering his tracks by making it look like someone from the branch did it. Though I myself clearly don’t believe that lie for a second.
Shigure: I know I can’t stop the three of you from going, but I want a promise, at the very least.
HJ: Heh, well what is it?
Shigure: I want the three of you to come home safely. I don’t want to see someone else hurt or killed because of all of this.
HJ: That’s 4 people I made that promise to, but I won’t break it for anyone’s sake. Trust me, my family doesn’t want to lose me as much as I don’t want to lose them. I already lost my blood family to Relius in the past. I won’t follow suit.
Shigure: Thank you, I appreciate that.