During Book One and in the midst of growing tensions between the Araki-gumi and Hokurou, Gou takes Jamie with him to Nara. While Gou attended meetings, Jamie intended to explore the area around Todai-ji, spend money in the tourist shops and feed the famous bowing deer he’d heard about. But he never got to explore Todai-ji with Gou as promised, due to well… (spoilers).
He took a hesitant step onto the temple grounds. Wide paths empty of the bustling crowds that had filled them last time Jamie had stood here. His breath coming shakily as memories of this place rose to the surface of his mind dragging panic with them. A smile forced on his face and hands shoved in pockets, not wanting Gou to realise the fear beginning to strangle Jamie as they stood here. They weren’t alone, Jamie knew that, could see the suit-clad men around them, both near and far. Men whose names he was beginning to learn. Didn’t stop the heart-stopping panic creating a sour taste in his mouth as they walked along the wide-open paths or his stomach wanting to stay in place when the approached the turn-off to the toilet block where he’d been snatched. Jamie didn’t want Gou to worry. Didn’t want to ruin their time here with his own stupid fears.
No, it wasn’t stupid. His fear. Getting snatched like he had, was an experience no one should have to suffer. No ordinary citizen would. Jamie wasn’t ordinary, not anymore. Not since he’d met Gou, became the man’s lover. Danger. Blood. Violence. These were normal in the world of the Yakuza, Gou’s world and now Jamie’s. He understood what he experienced wasn’t a regular occurrence within Gou’s world, but it wasn’t unexpected either when tensions were high between groups. They weren’t now though as far as Jamie could tell. The level of protection currently surrounding them more about Gou’s on fears than any real threat to the Araki-gumi. At least that’s what Gou had told him.
He had nothing to worry about.
Nothing – no one – could get him. Gou wouldn’t let them.
Fingers wrapped around his arm, squeezing tight and pulled Jamie away from the memories. He turned to see Gou staring at him, concern marring his face and guilt pooled heavy in Jamie’s stomach making it churn more.
“Are you okay? We can go somewhere else… Somewhere that isn’t here.”
Jamie shook his head. He wanted to be here. Wanted to overwrite the memories of the past with new ones. Jamie wanted to see Todai-ji, to experience it not just as a tourist but through the eyes of someone who saw the place as spiritual. It was important to Gou to be here, to share it with him. He couldn’t let the past ruin it for him.
“I’m okay. I want to be here, with you,” taking a deep breath as he spoke and shoving his fear aside. He would need to learn to conquer fear and not just what he felt right now, if he was to walk alongside Gou in his world.
The tension in Gou’s shoulders eased, his grip on Jamie’s arm relaxing. “No one will take you from me again. I will protect you, keep you safe from the dangers of my world. I can promise you that Jamie.”
Gou grabbed a hold of his hand and the strode down the path toward the entrance to the inner temple grounds. They didn’t stop to buy tickets, like the others entering the grounds, and no one tried to stop them. He had meant to question Gou as to why, but soon lost his train of thought as they walked out onto a large walkway above the temple grounds and the temple buildings came into view. Jamie stopped, let go of Gou’s hand and rushed over to the railing. He stared at the building dominating the horizon, large and imposing with its pagoda style roof. It would only look larger the closer they got. He turned back to Gou, hearing the man chuckle and grinned. A smile no longer forced onto his face.
“Come, we can spend as long as you like here.”
Jamie felt like a kid on Christmas morning, following Gou down the steps onto the wide path of the temple grounds. Everywhere he looked another piece of history, tradition called out to him, begging Jamie to investigate it further. His mind forgetting all about the fear he had arriving at the temple, as Jamie filled it with facts. Tidbits of information Gou told him and from what he could see written on the plaques inside the temple. Awe widening his eyes as he stared up at the bronze statue of Buddha and quickly forgetting they weren’t alone.
This was worth pushing through his fears for.