It had been many years since he hired Dr. McKay and came to know him as Rodney, and for many of those years, Rodney was immured in top secret projects, beyond even Saito's easy reach.
When he learned Rodney had surfaced again, in Ōzora of all places, Saito left Tokyo at once.
"Why here?" he asked after only the most token of greeting pleasantries. Even the bare minimum politesse had made Rodney roll his eyes.
"There's an airport," Rodney said bitterly after a pause. "When I chose this house... at the time, it was a factor."
Saito had never forgotten the night he learned that his father died, a night he'd planned to spend in dalliance with his brilliant, handsome young lover. Rodney was the last person he expected to console him; theirs was a casual affair.
But Rodney's own father had passed the year before, and though his sympathy was stilted and awkward, it was honest. Saito found himself telling Rodney things he had never said aloud to anyone. To this day Rodney was the only person still living who had seen him cry.
It was one night, and a handful of scattered nights afterward, only that. Only Rodney's discretion and his raw, uncalculated compassion, only the way a foreigner, a near-stranger to him, became the holder of some of Saito's deepest secrets, and held them safe still, twenty years after.
Saito felt a symmetry at work. He read from Rodney's face-- so changed, yet still so much the same-- the story of his loss. Saito knew that story. He lost a lover forever, a year before.
"Are you working now," he asked, suspecting the answer.
"No," Rodney said in misery. "They took that too. I've been-- warned, I can't leave here now, and what's here for me?"
"Then work will come to you," said Saito. "And so will I."
"You don't owe me this, Nobuo," said Rodney after a moment.
"I expect to benefit," Saito told him dryly.
"There could be repercussions if it gets out you hired me."
Saito thought of the team formed under Cobb, now in his employ, and the connections he could access through them. "I know just the people to handle it. And some technology no one would suspect you would work with, that I believe you might nevertheless find very interesting."
Some of the fire began to spark again in Rodney's eyes. "What have you got?"