Asami meets Yoh. One possibility, since we know nothing of how they met, or much of what they are to each other.
The deep voice behind him belonged to his guard and driver, Suoh. He turned his head slightly, acknowledging him, but keeping his eyes on the dark mass in front of him. He knew what kinds of dangers would be at home there. He knew them all too well, because he'd once been one of them. Not there, of course, not in a place quite so bad. But close. It seemed they shared more, the more he found out. He cursed his father, but it held little weight these days because he'd done it so often.
"Asami-sama, I can go in and get him. There's no reason you have to deal with this."
"There is. I will go. You will watch the car."
"You're more important than the car," Suoh protested.
Suoh was new at his job, one of the perqs of his new rise in status back home. At this second protest Asami turned to look at him, eyebrow raised over his coldest stare. "I'm not accustomed to repeating myself. Are you going to insist upon making me?"
Suoh blanched, then bowed. "My apologies, Asami-sama. Of course not."
He took a second to enjoy the moment of surrender. It never got boring.
"If I'm not back within an hour, or if you hear shots fired, you may come in after me."
And he began walking the steep dirt path between the buildings that took him back as well as up.
The claustrophobia of poverty, it all came back - being smothered by the close press of those who can't afford a space to live, yet alone, always alone.
Vacant stares of the old and sick looked past him, not even noting his presence as he slipped between the shoddily cobbled-together sheets of corrugated metal and plywood and anything else the inhabitants could find that was large and flat. Children noticed though, then ran back into holes like mice before a cat, their curious faces peeking out unless he looked directly at them. Adults, those that were there, stopped what they were doing and just watched his passage. Most of their stares were hostile, examining his expensive clothing, thinking him either a fool or a madman for coming here unattended; they didn't understand that they were the ones who should be afraid. Yet his presence was so unprecedented they hesitated to act, not wanting to be the one to chance the unknown. He didn't keep the sneer off his face. Their lack of courage was what kept them there.
He wondered if one would have the guts to make a move. His eyes swept the shadows, catching every movement, his heart beating faster in anticipation.
A rock flew in from his left and struck his leg. He ignored it. It wasn't enough.
There was laughter and a jeering voice called out an insult in Cantonese. This time he paused, head tilted, watching with his peripheral vision and answered in the same language, his voice mild and cool. He was curious to see how long it would take them to recognize the danger they were in. "You're welcome to try. But don't make the mistake of thinking you'll succeed."
A young tough stepped out of the shadows, maybe twenty years old, slim, arrogant. Kind of pretty, though he could stand a cleaning up. Asami could see that there was a blade hidden in his right fist.
"I don't know who the hell you are out there," the kid jerked his head toward the city, "but in here you're nobody. I'm going to take those fancy clothes and whatever else you've got, and I don't care if you're dead when I do. Your choice."
Asami continued as if the other hadn't spoken. "When I was your age I knew better than to bring a knife to a gun fight." He let the small semi-automatic in his hand be seen. "You can turn around and leave, or let your friends carry you out. Your choice."
The eyes across from him flicked down, then back up, holding a little respect this time, and he knew it wasn't just for the gun. He wouldn't hesitate to kill, and saw that the boy recognized that.
/A smart brat/, Asami thought, his interest aroused. "I'm trying to find someone. If you're of help, you'll make more and have far less trouble than if you try to take me on here." Asami smiled coldly. "If you wish to succeed in life, you need to learn to keep it business, not personal."
The boy studied him, taking his words in. "I understand business. I'll keep a contract. But I set my price."
Curious, Asami played the game. "What price?"
"Take me with you. When you leave. I'll do any work you want."
Surprised and pleased by the young man's initiative, though he didn't let it be seen, Asami made a show of thinking about it. But his mind was already made up. Men like this were his most precious commodity. "I may have need of someone like you. Someone who can blend in. You'd need some training, but perhaps if you could learn...."
With a nod, the knife disappeared, though Asami could tell he still held it. "I can learn. I just did. Who are you looking for?"
Asami kept the gun in his hand. He'd once learned also. "He should be about your age, half Chinese, half Japanese. I don't know much else, except that he lives here. His name is Yoh."
The boy couldn't hide the start. "I know him," he said cautiously. "What do you want with him?"
Asami looked more closely, seeing what he'd missed before. Like, yet not. Even at this young age his aggression was tempered with intelligence. "I want him to work for me."
"...Why? Why would you want him? How do you even know him?" The kid's eyes were piercing, trying to drill into him for answers. But Asami knew how to keep them hidden.
"My family owes his a debt."
"Like you care about that. I don't think you do."
"I'm here, aren't I?"
"Yeah, and I want to know why."
Asami dug into his coat for a cigarette. He pulled one out of the pack with his lips, then offered them to the other. He saw distrust warring with temptation and a thrill shot down his spine to his groin.
"You think I doctored some cigarettes in anticipation of meeting you?" He let his amusement show. "I'm so very talented. I'm in awe of myself."
Scowling, the young man snatched the Dunhills from his hand, took one, and stuck the rest into his jeans. "Got a light?"
Still cocky. Still pushing. He could go far. Asami flicked his lighter and lit up both of them. They stood for a moment, staring at each other. It was absurdly quiet around them, all the inhabitants watching, waiting, to either run and hide, or swarm out and scavenge the dead.
The kid broke first. "So how did you hear about Yoh?"
"A man who'd talked to another man who told me. Does it matter?"
"Yeah. Sources spin. Spin tells me what you're thinking about him, and that tells me why you want him."
Asami tapped some ashes from the end of his cigarette. Yes, he'd go far. The question was how far did Asami want to let him go?
"How hungry are you, I wonder, wolf cub?"
"Garouchan? What's that mean?"
"Never mind." Then again, if he used the kid the way he wanted to, his loyalty would be tested. It might be best to tell the truth, to bind him with unbreakable bonds of blood. "Your father, did you know him?"
The eyes watching him narrowed. "Is that supposed to be funny?"
"How could it be? I don't know you."
"Yeah, that's right. You don't." The kid relaxed a little. "Nah, I didn't know him. He left before I was born. He told Mom he'd be back though, and she never saw him again, the prick. Didn't even sent money. Mom, she never got over it, the fucking bastard."
Asami shrugged. "Who knows what he intended? But he couldn't come back. He was dead. He fucked with the wrong man and didn't cover his ass. He always was rash."
"How do you know?" Some anger started showing through again.
"Because Yoh, he was my father too."
The boy froze in shock. His arms fell limp at his sides, ending in fists that were white except where blood began to drip from the forgotten knife in one.
"Liar!" he growled.
"You think I was thrilled to find I had a bastard brother? That I'm inventing this for my amusement? At first, I'll admit I didn't care beyond a mild curiosity. Were you like him? Like me? Or just another piece of trash on Diamond Hill?"
The dark eyes flashed with rage, but it was held in check, waiting for him to continue, assessing. He hardened a little at the sight. Incest, Asami thought, was a flavor he hadn't tried.
"Then the idea began to appeal. Two brothers, one in Hong Kong, one in Tokyo. What couldn't we do? Provided you had intelligence and guts. Our father was short on the first, so I wasn't sure what to expect."
"Join me and we'll rule the world? What are you, Darth Vader?"
"Close. I won't turn soft in the endgame."
"Won't you." Yoh's fist loosened, and his knife dropped into his right hand and he took a step forward, Asami watching warily. "Give me your hand."
Blood ran along the blade of the knife, and Asami suddenly understood. "We already share blood. But if you wish..." He switched his pistol to his left hand and held out his right. He was ambidextrous when it came to guns, so even if this were betrayal, it wouldn't catch him unawares. It would be the first of many such tests for Yoh.
The young man slashed quickly with little fuss. His knife work was good. It was his tailoring that needed improvement. His bleeding fist slapped against Asami's, the grip powerful for one so young. As their blood blended, Asami merely squeezed tighter, pleased that the other's wince was barely noticeable.
For a moment, the dark eyes staring into his seemed to reflect his own amusement. "You're an interesting guy. It doesn't matter if we're brothers. I think I'll enjoy this."
Asami merely smiled. Another piece dropped into place on his chessboard.
It's been a long ten years, brother.
He leaned against the frame of the ship, unable to stand on his own. The wind from the sea blew across the deck, stirring the hair over his bandaged-covered forehead as he watched the scene before him unfold.
How very wrong you were, and how very apt. You turned soft after all.
His eyes slid to the right, to the lone figure standing stiffly, proudly in his cheongsam.
But then, so did I.
A movement from the other couple had him glancing at them, relieved that Takaba was up and moving, and in Asami's arms again.
You took me from that dump and educated me, trained me, gave me purpose and a goal and turned me loose with only two instructions. Keep him close, and remember who you are.
The first had been easier than he'd imagined, and it made the second unbearable.
He was an Asami by blood. But he'd never taken that name. He acknowledged the relationship, but he'd remained merely Yoh.
Because once he'd found what he truly wanted, he knew he had to be able to claim it as his own man. Liu Feilong deserved nothing less. He certainly hadn't deserved betrayal.
Asami and Takaba walked toward the archway he stood under, and he ducked back into the shadows. He didn't want to deal with the boy right now. But as they went by, Asami's eyes met his. They were filled with a rueful amusement, and a raised eyebrow. He smiled a little and shook his head in answer.
"I'll be in touch," he mouthed silently, not meaning it. He'd come if called, but he didn't expect to be alive to answer.
Asami paused for a second. "Get a haircut. Who would fall in love with someone with only one eye showing? And it wouldn't kill you to smile once in a while."
"What are you talking about, Asami? I want to leave. Come on!" Takaba was pulling at Asami's hand.
His older brother shrugged in amused resignation, then followed his young lover down the passage. But he looked back once, the gaze taking Yoh back to that day in the shantytown.
"Whatever you choose to believe is fine, Yoh, as long as you're loyal to the idea. But in the end, you'll see that we're alike after all. Once we want something, we go for it until we succeed. Nothing will stop us."
Nothing but love.
He turned and walked across the deck to surrender to it.