Chapter 3

Austin sat on a long bench, waiting patiently outside the room. It had been an hour. Her mother finally walked out of the room and he stood up immediately, taking her handbag, and went to her side, helping her to walk, "What did the doctor say?" He asked.

Her mother shook her head, "Nothing serious. Let's go home," They came home in a taxi and her mother went straight to her bedroom, resting. He leaned against the door frame, watching her mother silently. He wondered if it was really nothing serious. He couldn't help but worry. He stayed there for a few minutes before shuffling over to the living room. He slumped on the couch and took out a card from his pocket. He had kept it with him for days, not knowing what to do with it. He tried to throw it away but somehow his hand moved on its own and picked it up.

He closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose, for a long time until he suddenly rose. He had made his decision. He would just check it out. There would be no harm. The address written at the back of the card wasn't far from his house. He prepared lunch for her mother and left a note saying that he took the day off from work and was going to his friend's house. He rode his bicycle, following the maps on his phone. He soon arrived in front of a two-story bungalow with bushes surrounding it. The gate was opened. He let himself through it and came up to the front door. He rang the bell.

The same old man opened the door and smiled. He was expecting him, "You are here," The old man said, inviting him in. He gestured towards the couch and Austin sat down, looking around the place. The old man walked away and disappeared from his sight. He came back with a cup of tea in his hand, "Austin Park. You are still nineteen right? Graduated with your bachelor's degree at sixteen," The old man slid the cup toward him.

"Are you investigating me?" Austin asked, surprised.

"You can say so," The old man tilted his head slightly and before Austin could protest, he added, "Have you ever seen your father?" Austin pressed his mouth shut. He had never seen his father. He didn't even know what he looked like. The old man drew a photo from his book and placed it on the table. It was a picture of a man, "That's him,"

Austin took the picture and examined the man closely. His eyes widened. His head was flooded by hundreds of questions. The man in the picture looked identically similar to his uncle, Park Hoon, "Are you sure he is my father?"

The old man handed him another picture, "If you don't believe me, this is the wedding picture of your parents. I took the picture myself," He pointed to the bride, "That's your mother, Natasha Jane Junior, a cardiologist. Your father was my close friend,"

Austin frowned in confusion. The woman in the picture, the bride was indeed his mother. Her smile was huge and her face radiant with happiness, a look he had never seen, "Where's my father?" He raised his head and stared at the old man, almost desperately. He didn't know what to feel towards his father, whether it be anger for leaving his family behind or longing for the father had never met.

"Dead," The old man said, straightforwardly. Austin's hand went limp and the picture fell from his grasp to the floor. He felt devastated. Hating him for leaving his family and having the thought that he was living well somewhere was much more easier than accepting that he was gone and he would never return.

"Park Hwi," The old man started, "Your father was a Korean member of the Kazuno clan. A crime group syndicate that operates in Japan. He was accused of betraying his group by selling information to outsiders. He was killed by Kazuno Haruto, the leader of the clan. Your mother fled to South Korea with your uncle then moved to London. You know nothing about this, aren't you?"

Austin sighed. "You just hand me a puzzle piece that completes the whole picture," The story undoubtedly fit but it was foolish to blindly trust his words. Austin stared at the man who still had his black sunglasses on, "Who are you and why are you telling me all of this and how can I know you are not giving me false information and lying to my goddamn face, old man,"

"Kazuno Daiki," The old man introduced himself. He took off his sunglasses and Austin noticed he was wearing a left eye patch, "The leader of Kazuno Clan, my older brother dug out my left eye with his own hand. He was afraid of the growing power I had and I was thrown into a foreign land,"

Austin winced and looked away, "What do you want from me? You can't be telling me this for no reason,"

"Revenge," Daiki stated. Austin turned his head back to him and waited for an explanation, "You have to avenge your father, don't you think? He had dedicated his whole life to the clan but they killed him instead. I am here to help you,"

That didn't make any sense to him. Austin still had his suspicions. This man had investigated him and followed him for how long? He didn't even know when it started, "And why?" He inquired. The old man must have his own motive.

Daiki leaned in, resting his elbows on his knees and settling his intense at the boy across him, "Because I am also seeking revenge. In other words, I am asking you to join me. I will teach you everything you have to know," Austin remained quite. He still had countless unanswered questions floating over his head. Daiki stood up and tapped his shoulder, "Take your time. Come see me when you have your answer,"

*  *  *  *

Austin sat motionlessly on his bed. He tried to register everything he had heard. The full moon, whose light, penetrating through the blinds of the window, was shining brighter than usual. As he could not feel at ease, he got out of the bed and drew the blinds open. He watched the moon for a moment until he was interrupted by a knock on his door. It was his mother.

"Do you want to watch a movie?" She asked, peeking her head inside. Austin smiled and nodded. She was searching through the list of movies while Austin went to the kitchen. A few minutes later, he came back with an enormous bowl of popcorn and joined her mother on the couch. His mother smiled. He made sweet popcorns. He once had a dream to become a popcorn seller too. But his mother again opposed it, obviously. They chose an animated movie and watched it together.

Austin looked at his mother as the movie ended and the credits started rolling up the television's screen, "Are they twins?" He said, breaking the silence.

His mother turned to him, confusion was written on her face, "I don't think so, Austin. They are sisters but not twins," She explained, pertaining to the movie that they just watched.

Austin shook his head, "Uncle Hoon and father. Are they twins?"

Blood had drained from his mother's face. She had turned place, her lips quivered slightly. She was unable to say a word for a few seconds, "How do you know?"

Austin was baffled by her mother's reaction. Even if they were twins, it wasn't something to be scared of, "An old man told me. He showed me a picture and said it was father. The man in the picture looks similar to uncle Hoon," Austin spoke the truth. He didn't want to lie. If there was anyone who could tell him the whole truth, it was his mother.

"A man?" She asked, drawing a sharp breath. Her eyes shook anxiously.

Austin continued asking, "Were you avoiding Uncle Hoon because he reminded you of father?"

Her mother suddenly stood up and dashed to the windows. She drew all the curtains close and locked the door, "Don't you ever mention your uncle to anyone. Is that clear?" Her mother returned and held his shoulders, "Whoever that man is, stop seeing him. We have to move to a different place. Yes, we have been here for too long," She stepped backward and walked restlessly back and forth. Her legs suddenly gave up and her vision went black.10:46 PM

"Mother!" Austin yelled in panic and dashed towards her. He caught her before she hit the ground and held her firmly in his arms. He called an ambulance and they rushed to the nearest hospital.

"The patient has a second-stage brain tumor. We checked our records and she had come several times for painkillers but she refused to take any treatment. Please talk to the patient before the tumor starts to develop," The doctor explained before he walked out of the room. Austin bowed slightly, thanking him. As the door closed, he sat down on the chair and looked at his mother. She was lying down on the bed, unconscious. The back of her hand was bruised where an IV needle was stuck in her vein. The needle was attached to a tube taped to her wrist, and fluid dribbled through into her body.

Austin hung his head low, feeling guilty. He failed his duty as a son. How come he didn't know that? He had neglected his mother and was unaware of her condition. He blamed himself. A small part of him questioned her mother's decision to refuse the treatment. Why would she do that? He was even upset at his mother. He knew his mother had never been truly happy. She would always sit on the porch and stare into the distance. Her eyes filled longing as if she was waiting for his husband's return.

"You are choosing death than to live without him, aren't you?" Austin asked, holding her mother's hand tenderly. He stayed beside his mother until golden light shone through the window. His mother hadn't woken up. He stretched and left for a walk around the hospital. He also bought breakfast for her mother. His thick brows furrowed when he spotted a familiar old man sitting on a bench, wearing black sunglasses.

He sat beside him, "Are you following me? Mr. Daiki,"

Daiki turned to him and raised his hands, "This is pure coincidence. I have health problems too. Why are you here, little man? Are you sick?"

"My mother. She fainted,"

"Oh, is she all right?"

"Stage two brain tumor," Austin replied dryly.

Daiki nodded. A thick silence engulfed them before he started to speak again, "So, are you interested to join us?" He turned to face the young man.

"Us?" Austin frowned.

"Yes. I have built an organization myself and recruited people who shared the same objective as mine and yours,"

"I can't," Austin looked away, "My mother has fallen sick. I can't leave her alone," That wasn't the only reason. He still doubted this old man. And he didn't know himself if he wanted revenge. Hearing Daiki's story about his father. He was overwhelmed by confusion rather than anger. Everything moved too fast and he wasn't able to cope with it. He wasn't ready to throw away the life he had been living and entered a totally different world.

"I don't ask you to leave her," Daiki clarified, "We will be staying in London until you are ready and it might take years. I will order some of my men to teach you things you need to know. I will help your mother too. I will find the best doctor and make sure she recovers," Daiki reached out and tapped Austin's hand, "You have to trust me,"

"What exactly do you want from me?"

"I want you to be my eyes," Protection Status