Aki's final act: the aftereffects still linger in the hearts of the few who knew him. Alec and Toya centric.
Slowly, one figure stirred: he raised his arm over his head in a lazy stretch, then covers his mouth with it as to muffle an escaping yawn. The other's head turned ever so slightly towards the sound, and a wrinkle of disapproval appeared on his brow.
A cautionary tone: "Alec-/sama/."
Alec, ever the free Highland spirit, softly giggled at the use of honorifics on his European name. "There's no need for such formalities among colleagues, is there, Toya?"
Toya grimaced. "That business is finished, as is everything having to do with it." For a moment, he looked away, his face etched in pain, but when he turned back, it was back in the same stoic look as before. "So, we are no longer colleagues . . . or anything else, really."
The scientist made a tch-ing noise. "Is that so, Toya? Don't forget, we are still connected, you and I." As he spoke, he looked at Toya with an intensity that was unlike his character. "Through young Aki Mikage."
For a moment, there was silence: a hard, blistering silence that showed neither agreement or disapproval.
Toya spoke first. "She has let him go," he said, as if exhaling a difficult breath, "so I have as well."
"But he has not let go of you." Alec drew closer to the other man. "Even now, you question if you could make the same sacrifice he did. If you can love Miss Aya as much as ---"
"Enough." Toya did not bother to hide the discomfort on his face. "Why must you provoke me so? Dr Howell, is this how they treat old friends back in Dunoon?"
Alec turned away, as if to hide the small smile playing upon his face. "Oh, Toya, I'm just a curious soul, looking for answers. Don't forget, I knew Aki as well, if not better than you." He faced Toya as he spoke: "I'm just trying to make it easier for you, don't you see?"
"Bullshit! This is all to assuage your damned guilt!"
"You couldn't save Aki yourself, so your putting your guilt on me, you damned Scottish brat!" Toya made a move as if to strike the other man. Alec responded by doing what he did best: freaking out. Alec waved his arms in front of him as to make a shield. The scene was so pathetic that Toya backed off and started to laugh, deep throaty sounds that brought Alec out of his pseudo-aneurysm.
"These seaside chats always amuse me," Toya said as they began to walk away from the water, just as a wave rose and crashed harmlessly against the side of the cliff.
"It's nice to see how you've matured since then, Toya," Alec said with a smile. "I wish you'd let me see Aya, though!"
"I don't want to remind her of the past." Toya laughed softly, almost unheard. "It might be too painful for our new family to bear. Maybe, one day."
He stood for a moment, still, his eyes focused somewhere on the darkening sky before him. "Until that time comes, I'll protect Aya from the pain that I've suffered from life's lessons."
"You're a great husband, Mr Toya," Alec said with such affection that it turned Toya's face a fairer shade of crimson. "I'm sure you do your best . . ."
Toya shrugged, and they set out towards the shrine, the place where every week their well-trodden paths would once again split. "If I make Aya happy . . . then I suppose I am."
Alec could feel the sun drop below the horizon, the stars beginning to shine as he spoke. "Even though Aki gave away the greatest gift of all to protect those that he loved, the rest of us still can't afford the luxury of avoiding life's pains."
They reached the familiar azalea bush, and the sight of the spotted red blossoms told Alec that his weekly visit has come to a close. The two men exchange simple farewells, knowing it's never truly goodbye when seven days from now is right around the corner. For Alec, he is returning to his apartment on a far corner of the island, where he works in isolation on the next great invention, one that will put Dr Alexander Howell on the map. For Toya, he will soon resume his life with Aya and her - no, their - unborn child, a life of solitude and peace.
Toya watched Alec retreat down the dirt path, his figure growing dimmer in the dying light of day. In his mind, he is planning what to wear, what to say and what to do when that day comes. He hopes that Alec can be there when Aya places the bouquet of spotted red azaleas on his grave, be the father and husband he could have been.
He returned to the shrine-house only to be greeted by Aya, face flushed pink from making dinner, a smile wide upon her face. In her face, Toya can see the remnants of Aki, and he smiled back.