One of his girls came running in looking frantic and clutched at the sleeve of his suit jacket so hard that her knuckles turned white.
“What is it, Yui?” He tried not to look irritated at the interruption. Never let it be said that Klaha didn’t look after his girls, and he prided himself on being the kind of boss that was approachable.
“He— Kisaki, he—”
“Shh,” Klaha said soothingly, patting her hand and trying to peel her death grip off his arm. “Calm down. Take a deep breath… there you go.”
Yui nodded vigorously and gulped. “Kisaki asked me to tell you. There’s a man here that’s badly hurt. He said you need to see him.”
Klaha sighed. “Is that all? Tell Kisaki to throw him out. We don’t need homeless junkies scaring our customers away.”
“No, Boss! He said you need to see him. He said the man was asking for you.”
“And did he say who the man is?” he asked with more patience than he felt.
Yui shook her head.
Klaha sighed again. “All right. Tell Kisaki to bring him in.” He placed both hands lightly on her shoulders and looked at her face. “Are you all right? Do you need to take a break?”
She hesitated for a few seconds and then nodded.
“That’s fine. Take an hour to yourself. Go find Shiori, she can replace you.”
Yui hurried away and Klaha got up to close the door behind her. The dull, rhythmic thumping of music from the nightclub upstairs turned into to a muffled hum. He relaxed back into the leather suite of his office, briefly wondering how the hell these girls managed to walk in those six-inch stilettos, let alone dance in them, and resumed looking through the reports and ledgers from his other operations. He gave up on the reports when he caught himself looking at the same numbers over and over again without taking anything in, and was almost relieved when Kisaki rapped on the door lightly.
“Boss.” He had a very serious expression and was gripping onto the door frame with one hand. The man beside him was so gaunt he could barely stand, and had one arm draped over Kisaki’s shoulders for support.
The man lifted his head weakly. “Klaha…” he rasped.
Klaha’s expression was grave and he rose slowly from his seat. “Kisaki, get him over here.”
Kisaki nodded; the man was skin and bone and barely weighed a thing, and Kisaki carried him across the room with little difficulty, carefully easing him onto the leather suite. He stepped back and bowed his head politely, looking at the floor.
“I thought you were dead.” Klaha’s voice was trembling. “I sent people to Okinawa to find you… I thought you were dead… you’ve been gone for months… what happened to you?”
The man cried out when Klaha grasped his hand; Klaha looked down and was horrified to see that his fingers were bent at slightly awkward angles and some of his fingernails were missing. “Gackt, what happened to you?”
Klaha arranged to have Gackt taken back to his lavish apartments across town and examined by the best doctor on his payroll. What had happened to him was clearly torture: he was badly malnourished, coughing up blood. Several of his fingernails had been removed and his fingers had been broken and then left to heal badly. The skin on his back and chest was criss-crossed with a ragged lattice of scars, old and new, and he was half-blind from being kept in the dark for a very long time. The doctor had pulled Klaha aside and very quietly told him that there were also signs of sexual abuse.
Klaha demanded the best care that money could buy. Gackt had always been the strong one and he overcame his physical injuries, although he would suffer abdominal pains and his fingers would be stiff and aching for the rest of his life. He was constantly haunted by nightmares though, and often Klaha would wake up to his screams in the next room. When they were children, Gackt would always be there for him when he’d had a nightmare, or when he’d been picked on by the older kids in school, and even when he’d been dumped by his first girlfriend; now it was Klaha’s turn to do the same for the brother that he’d idolised all his life.
He’d repeatedly tried asking Gackt what had happened and who had done this to him but Gackt was always tight-lipped on the matter.
“Why won’t you tell me?” Klaha demanded one day.
Gackt shook his head stubbornly. “I’ll deal with it myself.”
“At least let me help—”
“No. You shouldn’t get involved.”
“I’m already involved!”
Gackt had sighed and looked at him sadly. “Why couldn’t you have just listened to me and stayed in school? You were always smarter than me; you’d be a doctor or a lawyer or a CEO making an honest living. There was no need for both of us to become… this.”
“You’re assuming doctors and lawyers and CEOs make an honest living,” Klaha had sneered. “I am what I want to be.”
Gackt just shook his head again.
“Who is Yoshiki?” Klaha asked suddenly.
Gackt’s head snapped up, startled. “What?”
“Who is Yoshiki?”
“How do you know that name?”
“You say it sometimes. When you’re having your nightmares.” Klaha gave him a level look. “Who is he?”
“Nobody,” Gackt mumbled, but he looked angry.
Klaha pressed further. “Did he do this to you?”
“STOP ASKING.” Gackt had looked so livid that for a second, Klaha thought that he might actually hit him.
That was the last time Klaha asked about what had happened, and the name Yoshiki never came up again except in Gackt’s frenzied episodes.
Gackt grudgingly allowed Klaha to pay for everything until he was able to function independently, growing his own smaller operation separately from Klaha’s nightclub and gambling dens. In time he hired three men, and not long after this, a beautiful, mute woman followed. Mana proved to be a loyal and valuable asset, skilled and efficient, and Klaha watched from a distance as she quickly rose in the ranks to become Gackt’s right hand within a year.
Klaha stubbornly rejected all of Gackt’s attempts at monetary repayments; instead, the two operations grew into a mutually beneficial arrangement. In return for Klaha’s financial support, Gackt and his team kept Klaha’s operations safe by swiftly dispatching anyone who threatened them.
A couple of years later, Gackt signed a fifth member to his team. Klaha was glad that Gackt had someone as reliable and steadfast as Mana at his side. He’d met with Gackt’s team several times, always under the guise of one of Gackt’s clients (as far as most people were concerned, Klaha was nothing more than a wealthy and well-respected client) and unlike the others, this Sugizo seemed a little standoffish. This was just a job to him. Klaha didn’t trust him at all, but Mana, Közi, Kami and Yu~ki were loyal, and as long as Sugizo stayed in line and did as he was told, Klaha would keep his mouth shut.
Everything ran smoothly for a number of years and Klaha even noticed that Gackt’s nightmares were gradually becoming less frequent and less intense.
“What’s got you looking so happy?” Klaha had asked one day when Gackt seemed particularly pleased with something.
Gackt just smiled at him. “I’m getting my revenge,” was all he would say.
Klaha took a slow puff of his cigar and leaned back in his seat. Beside him, Yui refilled his cup.
He put down his cigar and slowly sipped the shochu, savouring the complex flavours. “What is it, Hakuei?”
Hakuei bowed and looked at Yui pointedly.
Noticing the look, Klaha patted her hand and sent her away. She dutifully refilled his cup again and quickly left the room, closing the door behind her.
“What is it, then?” Klaha asked. “Is it those cops again? Get Kisaki to pay them off like last time. If they keep coming back, plant some evidence and send an anonymous tip the commissioner. You know the drill.”
“No, Boss,” Hakuei said. He looked nervous.
Klaha raised his eyebrows expectantly. “Well?”
“Boss… it’s your brother. He’s dead.”
Klaha maintained a steady gaze at Hakuei before reaching for his ashtray and rolling the spent ash off the end of his cigar. He took another drink of shochu.
Hakuei anxiously shifted his weight from foot to foot, waiting for a response. “Boss?”
Klaha refilled his cup. “Tell me more.”
“Well… Ju-ken found your brother and three of his men dead in his house,” Hakuei said. “He was shot. We don’t know who did it.”
“Which three men?”
“Yu~ki, Közi and Kami. We don’t know where Sugizo or the woman are, but Ju-ken said it looked like there were other people there. He said Közi died from a number of knife wounds.”
Klaha took another slow puff of his cigar and looked at Hakuei thoughtfully for a while. Hakuei tried to hold his gaze while he waited for Klaha to say something, but soon found it easier to just look at the floor.
“Get Kisaki and Ju-ken and some of your best men,” he said finally. “You’re going to find out what went down and who did it. Find Mana. Find Sugizo. See what they know and if they were involved. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Sugizo had something to do with it. And I want you to find who this Yoshiki person is.”
“But… there must be thousands of Yoshikis out there…” Hakuei shut up when Klaha fixed him with a frosty look.
“Yes, and all but a handful of them are going to be absolute nobodies.”
“So go find out which one it was.”
“Yes, Boss.” Hakuei bowed deeply and left.