"Everything that you didn't take with you, yes," Ikuko said as she stood by the stairs that would take her back down into the house. "You know how many times I would just stand here and look at your things?"
"If it hurt you so much... why didn't you just ask me to come back?" The guilt trip from his mother was a very powerful tool, and Ikuko probably knew it. She wasn't stupid, she knew how to use her leverage. "I would have came back..."
"And then have you resent me for taking you away?"
"I wouldn't have..."
"Yes, you would have," Ikuko interjected. "Maybe not a lot, and maybe you wouldn't even realize it, but deep down there would be a part of you that would resent me for taking you away. I couldn't live with that."
"So the pain that you felt while I was gone..."
"It was long, but you're back, and I don't feel it anymore. I would have felt the pain if you had been upset with me until I was gone. It was the lesser of two evils."
"I can't believe you kept some of this..." he said as he glanced at the boxes. Old toys, stuffed animals, clothes, pictures. Everything that made him the person who he was when he was growing up and it was all right there.
"I should go... I still need to get your room ready."
"Don't say it, Tei," Ikuko begged.
Unfortunately for Ikuko, the guilt card could only be played so often and for so long. Certain things he wasn't about to concede. "I'm not staying here, mom. I'm twenty-two years old... a college graduate, I think I can make it on my own..."
"But you just got here, you don't even have a job..."
"I saved up money from working while I was at college, mom. A Japanese sushi house, ironically enough... but at least I was able to help people make the right choice... and keep them away from the saki." Oh, the stories of drunken idiocy that could be told. "Besides... I do have a job here."
"I... I didn't just come back to be with my family again." In actuality it was just a nice little side-benefit. "I auditioned for a part in a movie back in Australia... not a very big part, but it could be a stepping stone. They're filming in Japan and so we all had to relocate..."
"So you're leaving again?"
"Not right away... I intend on sticking around Tokyo, as close to the house as I can get... but I need to get a place on my own... show that I can make it here on my own."
"I don't think you need to prove that to me."
"I'm not proving it to you, mom... I'm proving it to me."
"Will you at least stay here for the night? You can do the apartment hunting tomorrow... you should stay with your family for a little while."
"There's no arguing with you, is there?"
"No, there isn't. Are you going to stay up here?"
"Just give me a few," Tei replied, looking at his mother as she walked down the stairs. Seeing a familiar face, Tei laughed pulling the stuffed toy that looked like it needed a mercy killing, "She kept the damned bear..."