Miho wasn't sure exactly what drew her attention to the three of them. They made a beautiful picture walking there with the sun shinning on them through the new spring leaves, but they was nothing unusual about any of them. Nothing that would catch the eye. Just young family enjoying the nice weather on a Saturday morning.
Maybe it was because, in a sea of people from countless different countries, the parents looked like they came from hers. How ironic. Under the florescent lights of Raven’s Flat, they had both looked so Western to her eyes, but here in the middle of Central Park, they both looked Japanese. The trademark of a mixed heritage, she supposed.
Even so, how strange that she did not immediately recognize them. But Michael in a suit with closely cropped hair? Robin in a lightweight green dress with her hair braided down her back? These weren’t the children that she knew. And suddenly she had to laugh at herself, because she wasn’t all that much older than they were. Amon was the only one who could truly claim any maturity due to age back then. And yet, he too was only in his twenties when they were all on the same team. Younger than she was now. . . and, for that matter, younger than Robin and Michael were as well.
Of course, neither one should be in New York. Michael should be in some computer laboratory in Europe and Robin. . . Well, Robin was suppose to be. . . They told themselves that she had died that night, even though everyone knew it wasn't true. It was the only shred of protection they could still give her. And so, as much as she wanted approach them, she wouldn't.
Suddenly, Robin turned a looked directly at her. She leaned down and whispered something to her daughter. The little girl, who couldn't be older than four, looked down at the flower in her hand and then directly at Miho. She turned back to her mother and nodded. Then she ran over to were Miho was sitting.
“Mommy said to give you this, Miss Karasuma ,” the little girl said in English, as she offered the flower.
“Thank you,” Miho said smiling as she reached out to take the gift. The little girl smiled in return and raced backed to her parents. Miho raised her hand in both greeting and thanks. Michael and Robin returned the salutation and then turned to leave, with their daughter in the middle, holding each of their hands.
“They are both far too reckless,” a gruff voice said from behind her in Japanese.
“You haven’t changed at all, have you?” Miho smiled quietly, as she turned to face yet another old colleague. “Don’t worry, Amon. I would never betray either of them.”
"That's not the point."
"No, I suppose it isn't."
"What business does the STN-J have in New York?" Amon asked, ever watching, ever alert.
"None, that I know of. I left the STN-J five years ago," she explained. He looked startled, though only for a moment.
"Why?" That was Amon. Blunt as always.
"Well, simply put, I got married. I decided I would rather spend my evenings with my husband than on the hunt."
"Is he. . ."
"No, he's not a craft user or a seed. But his step-mother was, so he understands."
"Michael runs a technology company based here in the city,” Amon offered after a pause. “Robin owns a coffee shop. They have picked out different names, of course.”
“Of course. I should probably tell you that Nagira got married a few years ago. You’re going to be an uncle, Amon!" This time she did laugh at his stupefied expression, fleeting though it was.
"I suppose I already am," he says with a glance down the path that Robin and Michael had taken. "You don't seem that surprise that Michael and Robin are together."
"No, I guess not. I think I always knew that there was something deeper connection between them. Robin changed all of us, but Michael most of all. You know, after you and Robin disappeared, Michael was finally allowed to leave the building whenever he wanted."
"Yes. But you know the first thing he brought back with him? A little bird carved out of stone. He kept it nestled in the wires of his computer. So no, I’m not surprised. I’m glad they were able to make a life for themselves.” Miho hesitated for a moment. “And what about you, Amon?”
Silence was answer enough.
“You might be still be a watchdog, but that does not mean you’re not allowed to have a life of your own.” Reaching into her purse, she removed a business card from another chance meeting only a few months before. Amon’s eyes widened when he saw who’s it was. Despite all that happened, Touko Masaki had not changed her name. “What you chose to do is your business, Amon. But life is for living.”
Amon merely snorted at that and walked away. But he took Touko’s card with him. Miho smiled down at her flower. She was beginning to quite like New York.