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22 Chapter 22 Im Kita Duran

    The afternoon flew as Duran worked hard beyond his friends' eat and go time. Kou had changed to different days to balance the rosters. So he performed a lot of the work on his own. Alternating tasks with Isao. He didn't mind his duties of chopping and peeling vegetable, sorting packages on shelves, serving patrons and constantly cleaning up the dining area to closing time. It felt no different to what he would do at home.

    Before he realised, it was nine o'clock when his bosses called it a night.

    'You'll be alright getting home?' Shiro-san asked Duran who was wiping the last dirty table clean.

    'Yeah. My Step-father's coming to pick me up soon.'

    'Okay. Let me know when you're about to take off. Good work today Kita-kun. A lot of our regulars were impressed with your service. You're a quick learner.'

    Duran blushed as Shiro-san's large hand fondly ruffled the top of his head.

    'Um, ah, thank you. Good work today as well.'

    He watched his boss exit to the back room as he waited in the dining area for his step-father.

    The place assumed a calm silence, which was a complete contrast from the din of bustling conversations, chinks of chopsticks and cutlery on plates, and the sounds of a working kitchen an hour earlier.

    Duran sunk into one of the seats and breathed out a sigh of relief that his shift was over.

    'Hey Kita-kun. Nice work today. You really made a big difference to this place,' Isao said as he entered the dining area ready to take off for the night.

    'Oh Izuki-senpai. Good work today too. I'm glad I was useful.'

    'Definitely useful. We were able to serve food faster because of you. The patrons seemed to like the look of you.'

    'Like the look of me?' Duran frowned at the thought, not sure exactly what his senior was indicating.

    Judging by the amiable expression on his face, he took it as a compliment and left it at that.

    'Make sure you get enough sleep when you get home,' Isao said as he made his exit.

    Duran didn't think that was going to be a problem. He'd most likely crash as soon as he reached his room. He relaxed back into the chair and allowed himself to doze off.

    A commotion from outside jolted his body awake. A pang of worry struck his heart as he heard yelling and screaming not too far from where he was.

    'Ryuu-chichi,' he muttered as he bolted for the exit and stepped outside.

    He ran up the street and saw three surly delinquents cornering another guy beneath a street light and entrance of an apartment block. One of them rammed a fist into the guy's stomach. The guy keeled over with clear agony on his face from the punch.

    Duran's eyes widen with a mixture of concern and anger when he saw Isao was the victim of the attack.

    'Hey!' He yelled out at the top of his voice, which drew the attention of the delinquents his way.

    'What yah think you're doing?!'

    The delinquents started making their way to him with their full display of toughness.

    Instinctively, Duran flipped out his phone and started dialling the cops.

    'Hello. I'm seeing a bunch of delinquents attacking a man in the streets. Please hurry!'

    'Yah think we be 'fraid of pigs!' A delinquent smirked.

    'You should be afraid of me.' Duran heard a man say behind him. He turned around and saw the towering frame of Ryuu-chichi.

    'What yah gonna do old man? Yell at us,' said the tallest of the delinquents.

    He had a formidable build, bleach blond hair and piercings all the way up his left ear. His baggy sweat pants and athletes jacket reminded Duran of one of those American rappers.

    'I'll give you a chance to beat it on your own. Or make you by force,' Ryuu-chichi answered coolly.

    'Ha-ha. Old man, this gonna be fun.'

    The three delinquents rushed at Duran and Ryuu-chichi for the kill. Both of them were quick to evade the attacks. Ryuu-chichi was able to disarm the group on his own and send them running off down the street with their tail between their legs.

    'Izuki-senpai!' Duran rushed to check on Isao's condition.

    'Ki-ta, th-thank you.' Isao breathed and coughed up some blood.

    Duran wrapped his arm around his shoulders as he helped him stand up.

    'We need to get you to the hospital.'

    'Duran, what did dispatch say?' Ryuu-chichi said as he supported the other side of Isao.

    'The number didn't connect. Let's go back to work. The bosses will be still around,' Duran replied.

    They helped Isao back into the ramen house.

    'Shiro-san, Jiro-san!' Duran called out as they entered the dining area.

    'Baka! I told you to tell me when you were leaving didn't I!' Shiro-san yelled when he saw Duran enter the shop. His anger left him when he saw Isao struggling to walk and had to be assisted into a chair.

    'What happened?'

    Jiro-san entered the dining area. Duran recounted the incident to both of them.

    'Those damn punks!' Jiro-san hissed through clenched teeth.

    'No use getting riled up when he needs to get to a hospital,' Ryuu-chichi said.

    'I've called in a report to my boss.'

    'Boss?'

    'Um, yeah, Ryuu-chichi's a police officer,' Duran answered.

    He saw his bosses size-up his step-father carefully and wondered of their first impression of him.

    Ryuu-chichi resembled a stoic salary-man more than a detective. He was a head taller than Shiro-san, broad at the shoulders with a leaner and more toner build. It was rare for Duran to see his step-father wear anything but a business suit outside the house. His thoughts went back to the day he first met him, and those piercing black eyes that seemed to be able to see through minds and absorb everything.

    'Okay. I'll take Izuki to the hospital and call his parents,' Shiro-san said, having calmed down at the mention of a law enforcement officer in his presence.

    'Good, we'll leave him in your care,' said Ryuu-chichi. 'Izuki-kun it'll be safer if you had someone pick you up on late nights. A student shouldn't be exposed to this type of risk.'

    'As bosses, ensuring the safety of your staff when leaving work is just as important,' he directed to Duran's bosses.

    'Hai, thank you.'

    Jiro-san and Shiro-san gave him a humble bow.

    Ryuu-chichi and Duran left the restaurant.

    'You'll be alright working there during the week?' Ryuu-chichi said as they stepped into his car.

    'I'll be fine. It's only for a month anyway and as long as you or mom can pick me up at nights, I should be okay.' Duran reassured him as he assumed the front passenger seat.

    'I'm more concerned with your studies.'

    'My grades are okay and school work isn't too much anyway. I think I'll be fine.'

    'Well okay. I trust your sense of judgement Duran. You're your mother's son after all. Let us know if it becomes too much.'

    Nothing more was said between them on their ride home. As Duran had predicted earlier, he fell asleep as soon as he had reached his bed.
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