Well here I go once again, thanks to those that have place me in their alert lists, and I hope you enjoy the coming dilemma that the one guy we have come to know and love will overcome. And hopefully find what he's looking for. That's enough from me and now...

Disclaimer: I own squat...now you know! How sad for me, you may cry if you wish?


Chapter: 2

The Ties that Bind

The trip was tense for Keitaro, heading to a place that he hadn't seen or visited since his grandmother passed away – especially since she passed away?

He could nothing about it but stare outside and the train passed along the coast way, the weather appeared to chill somewhat and not from him alone the ocean looked inviting in a sinister kind of way – he hoped that he could be there right now under the waves and not having to face what lay ahead. But shaking his head to dispel those thoughts that came too easy when he was much younger, he watched as the various fishing boats slower made there way to port a place of safety.

'I wonder if this port will give me safety?'

He wondered deeply to himself if he should dare to venture once he disembarks once the train comes to a halt, and he knew that there would be the tram waiting for her passengers that would travel the last miles to the city proper.

'Should I or shouldn't I...'

He couldn't help but hide the thoughts running through his head of what may or may not occur if he should get on the tram once this journey end, the longer he dwelt on it the sooner he didn't realize that once he snapped out of his daydream the train had come into the station! With a panic and without thought; one moment he was sitting and the next he was standing outside on the platform in a chilly breeze blowing through the station! By the time he knew what was happening he was being lead by a throng of people to the waiting tram doors, and he let his body and mind be controlled by the tide of souls. He didn't smile nor did he feel scared at him being controlled and pulled this way and that, he just felt that where ever he was being taken to it would lead to a place he knew that eventually he would have to come face with – and not on his terms, but by fate he would follow and see what may come!

The tram ride was warm given that it was packed at this time of day.

'Hmm....this has never happened before... I wonder why the tram would be so packed this late in the afternoon...most people would be still at work or studying late at school?'

'I wonder...'

He looked around at the passengers and saw that many were young couples and elderly folk with shopping or children smiling and laughing with one another, he looked and saw some older college looking people talking among themselves and would occasionally laugh out loud. He saw that despite the cold weather outside and the press of many bodies in a cramped space, he felt content – in a non-sexual-perverted-way mind you! Thirty minutes later the tram came to the end of the line and announced its arrival at the Onsen district, he felt a cold feeling rolling down the back of his neck and making its way along his spin; like a finger from a long lost lover running her slender finger making tracks down his spin towards her lust! He followed the crowd with no purpose but to follow – he could just stand there and refuse to follow but for some reason he felt like he had no control and something or someone was guiding his movements or thoughts?

'Okay big guy you're a grown man...get a grip and think this through...why did you come here...you had a choice... no one forced you here...you wanted to come here!'

O_o

Now resolved to the fact that he believed that he came here of his own accord, he squared his shoulders and placing his satchel bag over his shoulders he turned to face something that would lead him to his past or a new future!

HINATA BRIDGE

'Whoa even now it looks as impressive as it did many years ago...looks like its still the same then as now...at least some things haven't changed!'

Looking out along the bridge he could see not a trickle of people heading into the onsen district, but a crowd!

'Wow... I wonder what's going on today... it can't be a festival or something... it's the wrong time of the season?...why is there so many people!'

He slowly began to make his way across among the throng of people heading into the town or coming from it, he marveled at the many sights that passed him folks talking and laughing, and children running back and forth among the adults. He wondered what had happened to the place it never was so lively back then, unless there was a special 'senior' day that would have the place crowded with old folk going from the restaurants and bars; and the baths that made the area famous to begin with! But he realized that many of the people he saw so far where younger people?

As he got to the end of the bridge he could see clearly that the town itself wasn't the same as his younger days? It seemed to be bigger, much bigger; and very noisy as well! Was there a party going on and a local festival taking place, shaking his head he knew most of the festivals of the area and thought that there wasn't one to happen in a few months! Looking up at the buildings he was shocked to find that many of the old architecture was gone to be replaced with newer and bigger buildings, gazing around he could still see one or two of the older buildings; but they looked small compared to these new apartment buildings. Even the shops looked brighter and noisier, and patrons flowed in and out, at the owners joys he smiled; the place seemed...seemed...a...alive to him!

'This place is amazing...back in the day it only came alive if there was a festival of some kind...but...now look at it!?'

'Such a change...so alive...but what else has changed...?'

Walking along the main street he tried to look up and between the buildings to the hill that dominated the area, try as he might he just couldn't see through the trees that covered it; and only glimpsed the brown roof through a branch or gap in the trees – but nothing else.

'I have no other choice...besides I have to visit her...just to say hi I guess...'

Turning around he traced a path that he knew so well even with his eyes closed he could find the many short-cuts and alley ways that led to the stairs, with a shudder he could never forget those damn stairs – why in Kami's name did they build the place on top of the highest hill they could find in the place!

'Shit...when I wa younger I could run up these damn things...but now I'm forty years old... and damn now days I can give myself a headache just by sitting up too fast in bed!'

He laughed -which grew short but the time he stopped and looked ahead and his gaze rose upwards and very slowly he thought...

'DAMN!...why couldn't they have built a elevator... damn you ancestors!

O_o

Sighing to himself he took a deep breath and gripped his bag tighter and began to climb, by the time he had come to the landing he was out of breath feeling like his heart was about to explode from his chest! He thanked which ever God was present as he saw a park bench not far from the path and under some trees, sitting down with a heavy thump he relaxed and took in his surroundings. The clearing was big lined with trees and at one end was the path that he just came from and it continued pass him to go further up the hill, and just across from him and between two signs that to his surprise still bore the name of 'Hinata Tea House' to surprise him more it was open – and by the sounds it seemed busy!

Getting up he brushed his clothing smooth and crossed the area to stand between the signs, hearing the laughter and music coming from the opened doors; the light spilling out was bright and welcoming. He felt both happy and dread!?

'How long I wonder has the place been opened for... I wonder who is running the place now... I thought the place was closed done years ago?'

With these doubts running through his mind he slowly approached the opened doorway not sure what he was doing nor did he protest his actions silently to himself – he none the less continued to close the gap between him and the door. As he got closer he could hear the laughter and the sombre music playing in the back ground, it wasn't loud nor did it feel like many of the bars or clubs he use to frequent now and then when the occasion demanded. But it felt safe and welcoming! Leaning in and peering around the corner so as not to be seen, he could see that the place was at least half filled with patrons eating and drinking; each person enjoy the company and atmosphere.

At the back of the room he could see a juke box playing some old time western songs, and though the building was of an older design and build constructed some two hundred years ago. It vibrated with joy and vitality – something that he hasn't seen or heard here in many years.

'Now that's something I wished I've never see again...'

He smiled and just continued to stare and listen to the happiness emanating from within, he couldn't help but tap his foot to the music and the people inside singing along.

'This is great... I haven't felt so alive for ages...maybe I should go in and have a bite or drink...maybe...?'

Standing there his world wrapped around him like a woman's embrace and making him feel some what content and detached for a moment, this feeling was both strange and yet familiar at the same time? He continued just smiling and enjoying the experience – that he didn't see the shadow detach itself from the corner of the building and slowly make it's way towards him, stealthy like a B-grade movie ninja the shadow moved towards him. The ninja got within six feet from behind him and tensed up for a moment and crouched down and waited, for what who knows? (Hey! Even I don't and I'm writing this damn story!?)

O_o

For sometime it just stays there in this position not even moving or making a sound, and all it does is observe Keitaro tapping his foot and smiling at the events going on within the tea house. Deep in thought they remain there in their own dreams, one not knowing whether they knew that each one was there in the stillness of the night, but they just remained there watching, breathing, listening and trying to figure out what their next move should be? The ninja slowly rises and with small steps started to back away from Keitaro, and he as many years past remained as clueless as ever!

The sounds from within the tea house continues to entrance Keitaro without realizing that not long ago his life was about to take a change for good or ill, he just smiled and watched the patrons enjoy life...

'Okay this is silly... I should just in and take a seat... instead of standing here in the dark...EH?'

"Hi there... big boy... aren't you going to go inside... or would you rather stand out here in the dark!"

Suddenly jumping up and spinning around to confront the voice from behind him, he still stood in the shadow of the door frame so was unable to see who stood there clearly. And to his delight he knew that who ever it was couldn't see his embarrassment showing on his face, quickly sizing up the situation he laughed a bit as he rubbed the back of his head with his right hand and tilted his head as he stared at the shadow before him.

'Hmm... now why does that look so damn familiar?...'

The person just stood there with arms crossed and from out of now where a lit cigarette appeared from out of the dark and it was now resting between the lips of this person, and it's eyes narrowed as it tried to remember a memory of years past...

'This man...his laugh...that stance...why does it seem so familiar...why does it make me feel...feel...FUCK what was that feeling...?'

They stood there in the dark staring at one another; one laughing nervously and the other gently puffing on a cigarette! Each one not sure what to do next...

"Oh I'm sorry about me spying...it's been a long time since I've heard this place sound so happy and lively!"

"That's alright... I'm sorry that I snuck up on you like that... I was just having a smoke, as there isn't any allowed inside the tea house!"

"You don't have to apologize for my behavior... I shouldn't stand here in the door and be so rude... I was just thinking if I should go in!"

"Well you could off... there's plenty of room... and the food and tea is pretty superb if I say so myself!"

Even though they couldn't see one another clearly they knew that they were both smiling at each other, he thought she sounds so young with a hint of mischief about her? And she thought that he sounded like a bumbling klutz! Together they stood in the dark making small talk until her cigarette was done, then dropping the butt and pressing her foot down to stamp it out she looked back up into his darkened features...

"Well sugah... I love to stand here in the dark and make small talk with ya... but I've got a business to run and all!"

"Ha, ha, ha, ha...! That's okay... well I better leave you t...t...what did you say?"

"What?"

"What did you c...c...call me!"

Now she was feeling nervous, and wondered what she could of done to make this guy feel scared?

'Damn I hope he's not here to cause trouble... or maybe he's a serial rapist! And I'm his next victim!?'

To her horror she had a feeling that her assumption may have been proven correct, when to her shock the man suddenly lunged towards her and grabbed her by her shoulders and drag her into the light! She was about to cry out to alarm to some of her regulars to come to her defense, but his sudden grip and her shock prevented her from saying anything! She closed her eyes praying and hoping that someone would hear them but above the noisy coming through the door there was a slim chance that it would happen, so she prayed that what ever he was going to do would be quick and fast. She didn't even have time to think of her life passing before her...

"Kitsune...Kitsune is that you?"

Her heart skipped a beat!

'What did he just say... I haven't heard that name in years!'

She felt the hands on her shoulder lessen their grip, and she swallowed deep before opening her eyes to see that her gaze was leveled at his chest! Slowly lifting her gaze it travelled upwards from the white business shirt and dark tie with it's golden clip, to a leather jacket that had seen better years and to finish upon a face that she only pictured in many dreams that she had years past. Those dreams now flooded back and her heart began to sing a song that for many years she had spent trying to deny and forget, she wanted to smile, she wanted to laugh with abandon, she wanted to grab this man and never let him go, she wanted to hug and press her whole body into his – but as usual her mind did what it did well!

'WHAT THE FUCK...NO FUCKEN WAY...FUCK NO...FUCK...FUCK...FUCK...OH KAMI NO!'

As usual her brain had the correct response to her emotions, and any situation like this, her body began to shake and her face felt moist from tears long ago held at bay. Always trying to deny her feelings for the one man that taught her that her life had meaning, and the only man who gave her the encouragement to go on when others just smirked and teased her for her dreams. He on his part felt an overwhelming feeling of guilt and sadness well up from within his heart, he had never felt like this since only Kami knew!

"Kitsune...please stop crying...please stop..."

Looking into those eyes he could see so much pain and so much longing, he knew that back then she had fallen in love with him and maybe it was his doing – he knew that effect he had on the girls back then; then again he ignored it or hadn't a clue what he was doing!

"Kitsune please you have to stop or the patrons will hear you...please stop crying!"

Damn she thought – why can't I stop crying? She tried to will herself to stop but that had the oppersite effect and she cried even more, pulling herself away from his body that she had hugged with everything she had. She was then able to stop – or lesson to point that was now able to speak!

"Keitaro... is that really you?

'Wow! Now that was smooth you damn bitch!'

Shaking her head to clear her vision and to give her an excuse to jog her brain...

"Keitaro...is that really you...you haven't... why haven't you kept in touch...!'

"I'm sorry Kitsune...I've been to b..."

"DON'T SAY THAT YOU'RE BEEN BUSY YOU ASSHOLE!"

"FOR NEARLY TWENTY YEARS YOU NEVER RANG, VISITED, OR EVEN SENT US A LETTER...NOTHING!"

"Kitsune!"

"Kitsune... I'm sorry... I truly am sorry for the stupid way that I left... but please believe me that I had my reasons... and it hurtled me so... I couldn't handle the pain anymore..."

"AND WHAT ABOUT US! WE NEEDED YOU... AND YOU UP AND LEFT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKEN NIGHT... YOU LEFT ME, EVERYONE AND HER BEHIND!"

"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING... WHAT IN THAT CRAZY MIND OF YOURS WERE YOU THINKING!"

"WELL HUH...WELL THEN?"

She knew that she was yelling at him, she knew that the music and laughing had stopped inside, and she damn well knew that they had an audience standing in the doorway and every vantage point in the building – watching them acting some scene from some american day time soap show!

But she didn't give a fuck what they thought – she wanted some answers...

They didn't use to call her the fox for nothing... No fucken way Kitsune was going to get some answers, and the problem to them all was right here standing in front of her...

Yes sirree!... The Fox was going to get her answers... even if it killed either one of them!?


Well there you go! Thanks for the kind reviews shout out to:

ogihcI ikasouruK: Second chances are one thing that many of us wished we had in our lives, but the consequences can be a real bitch!

Newogre: I shall try my best my friend!

X2501: Thanks for that! And to answer your Q... No to all three? Just enjoy the ride!

Hope this lives up to all your expectations, and now you know what you have to do next? Enjoy and take care all

Peace

K