Homecoming - Chapter Three

Noemi Makimura stared curiously at the tall man talking to her mother. Ryo Saeba in the flesh.

Oh, she knew who he was. Ryo Saeba. The man her mom used to work with. The man that had taken her mom under his wing after her uncle Hideyuki had been killed by a drug cartel. The only man her mother has ever loved.

Her mom would have an apoplexy if she knew Noemi knew all those things. She was only six after all. But she did know. She’d eavesdropped to her mom telling the story to a friend a few months back. She knew eavesdropping wasn’t appropriate behavior, and it hadn’t been her intention to listen to the private conversation between the two women that night. It had been late and she hadn’t been able to sleep, so she’d decided to wake her mom up and ask her to make her some cocoa to help her sleep, when she’d realized her mom was awake, and slightly tipsy. That’s the only reason she was telling auntie Nikki the story.

Noemi had listened in avidly, and ended up shuffling back to her bedroom with tears in her eyes. She had had no idea about any of it. Mom never told her about it. How could she, Noemi was too little to understand. Or so her mom—and everybody else—thought. But Noemi understood. She understood love. She understood what unconditional love felt like, because that’s how she loved her mother. And she knew how love sounded like. She heard it every time her mom spoke to her, and she’d heard it that night, when mom spoke of Ryo Saeba.

She’d sneaked into her mom’s bedroom the next day, when she’d been off at work and her babysitter busy preparing snacks. She’d known she shouldn’t have been snooping, but she hadn’t felt like she was snooping. She’d known exactly what she was looking for. The picture she’d once caught mom looking at late at night. After what she’d heard the previous night, Noemi had known who would be in that picture.

The photo had been hidden on the bottom of her mom’s nightstand drawer, tucked between the pages of an empty diary. But it hadn’t been just one person in the picture. It had been her mom and a dark-haired man, holding her mom about the shoulders, and smiling into the camera.

And she’d finally realized what she’d give her mother for her birthday. She’d get her back to Japan.

She’d plotted her plan through the entire afternoon, and finally sprung the idea on her mom that same night. Only she hadn’t said it was a gift for her mom, but for her. She’d told her mother she wanted to go to Japan during cherry blossom season. And cringed, when her mom had almost choked on her soup.

Kaori Makimura had then asked her daughter where the idea had come from, and thankfully Noemi had a perfectly reasonable motive to go to Japan. They had talked about cherry blossoms and the habit of the Japanese to watch them, of doing the hanami, in kindergarten.

Noemi had known mom wouldn’t accept so readily, but she’d planted the seed, and that seed had taken root, she’d seen it in her mother’s eyes. And she’d seen something else. Longing. It had been in that moment that Noemi had realized her mom missed the country she was born in, there had been no mistaking the look in her eyes. Kaori had been away from home for so long, taking care of her, raising her, loving her, stomping on her own homesickness, forgoing true happiness. Oh, her mom was happy, but she wasn’t truly happy. Noemi was only a child, but she prided herself in knowing the difference. There was contentment, and there was happiness.

And she knew that a parent would forget their own happiness, their own life, for their children. There were many things Noemi Makimura was. A carefree little girl, happy, sunny, intelligent, loving, stubborn when she needed to be, temperamental when the mood struck...But she wasn’t selfish.

And she’d decided it was time to start paying her mom back for everything she’d done for her so far. So she’d whined, she’d harangued, begged, emotionally blackmailed, smiled sweetly, stomped her feet, screamed, cried, and badgered, until she’d gotten her way. Until Kaori had given up, and said yes. Yes, they would go to Japan to see the cherry blossoms.

For the past four days, as her mom had taken her to Mount Fuji, Kyoto, and Nara—Noemi had wanted to see the memorial at all cost—she’d contemplated the way to find Ryo Saeba without her mom knowing. How could a child get around finding a person in Tokyo—if the guy even still lived there? The issue has sprung to mind again this morning, when Kaori had announced they were going to take it easy, and see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo. Because hanami in Tokyo—or anywhere else in Japan—meant visiting a part of the city with lots of people, and he just might be there.

She’d never imagined he would actually be there. Right there. In front of her. In front of her mom, looking at Kaori like he wanted nothing more than to hug her, but preferred to keep his hands in his pockets.

What a fool!

Noemi took her time in perusing him. He looked a little different that in the photo her mom kept. He was much taller for starters, more than a head taller than her mom, despite Kaori’s height. And he looked a little older, he seemed to be in his mid-forties. There was a dusting of gray at his temples, and deeper lines around his mouth and in the corners of his eyes. Eyes that were a deep charcoal gray, so deep one could drown in them. His shoulders were as broad as in the picture, his chest as muscled, and his arms as strong looking, stretching the white dress shirt just right. He was as lean as in the picture as well, no extra bulk around his waist as it tends to happen to all men she knew in his age group. Lean hips, strong thighs, long legs...He looked like the men on the covers of books her aunt Nikki liked to read.

Her mom had great taste!

Her mom also looked like she was about to crush her phone any second. Her mom also looked like she wanted either to fling herself at the man in front of her or bolt, so Noemi called her. It was the easiest and fastest way to distract her.

It distracted Ryo Saeba as well, and she found herself the object of his full attention. If his eyes looked compelling from the profile, it was nothing compared to the impact his gaze had when he looked at her.

Really looked at her.

And understood in a heartbeat.

Noemi’s heart cracked a little, when his eyes turned from blazing with emotion, to curious when he looked at her, to sad when he connected the dots. The sadness lasted only for a moment, before a door snapped shut behind those eyes, and Noemi found herself looking at her own reflection.

But he hasn’t been fast enough. She’d understood completely, just as he did. One look was enough, she was pretty good at reading people. The fact Kaori had a daughter saddened him, pained him. Because Kaori had a daughter that wasn’t his.

Noemi wanted to jump from giddiness. She loved him on the spot for loving her mother so much.

His eyes still carefully blank, he waved slightly. “Hi, I’m Ryo, I’m a friend of your mom.”

She merely stared up at him, keeping her mouth shut.

“She doesn’t speak Japanese,” Kaori said in English. “Noemi, this is Ryo Saeba. We used to work together.”

He smiled, looking at her mom from the corner of his eye.

“Ryo, this is Noemi. My daughter, as you guessed.”

“It wasn’t much of a guess, she’s a little mini-you.”

“Uncle Ryo!” two small voices called in unison and Noemi turned her head to see two boys, one blond, one dark-haired, looking at them with big smiles on their faces. The two boys looked to be of her own age, but there was another blond boy, younger than the two, lurking behind, sucking on his thumb as he regarded them with curiosity.

Ryo grinned as he turned fully to the three boys. “Well, well, well. What have we here?”

He dropped onto one knee and spread his arms. It was the incentive the little one needed to rush toward him, never releasing his thumb.

“What are you doing here?” Saeba asked, straightening with the boy tucked safely into his arms.

“Mom told us to come look for you,” the dark-haired boy replied. “You’re late.”

Ryo nodded. “That I am. I was distracted by these two gorgeous ladies.” He looked at Noemi, then winked at Kaori.

Her mom looked around, then arched her eyebrow at him, as she pointed her finger toward herself. “Me? I’m included in the gorgeous ladies category? Since when?”

He merely grinned, and inclined his head toward the path. “Tag along. There are people who’ll be happy to see you.” He looked down at her and winked. “You, too. There’re too many boys in the family, a girl is a welcome addition.”

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  1. i loved reading your story.
    its hard to come across a good city hunter fanfic these days.
    good job.looking forward to more

  2. I'm glad you're enjoying the story, Anonymous. Hopefully, I'll get back to it soon. I'm slightly blocked at the moment. I know how it'll end, the problem is getting to the ending. (#^.^#)

  3. its a very nice story........waiting for the next chapter..

  4. It is one of the best fanfiction I have read on city hunter please do us a favour by continuing it.........pretty please :)