Disclaimer- Okay, just to establish what's mine and what isn't: new OCs: mine. Old Gravi characters: not mine. And the difficult middle ground is Ukai Saki. In the manga Noriko DID have a daughter named Saki, but as there are no color pics of her and she isn't dwelled on much a lot of her characteristics were made up by me. So initially she was invented by Murakaki-sensei, but I took her a step further.
Chapter Nine: Saints and Sinners
Written by A Girl Named Goo
Shuichi and Yuki were frozen on the couch, staring at the blushing blonde boy in front of them in shock and amazement. In the 16 years they had known him, they had never expected him to say this...
"You have a date?" Shuichi finally managed to choke out, not one to be left speechless for very long.
Tokui looked down at his feet and spoke quickly in a panicked tone of voice. "It's not really a date. I just want to bring someone to Tousan's engagement party this Saturday. The invitation said that I could, so I assumed it would be all right, but if you don't want me to-"
Yuki raised his hand, cutting Tokui off as effectively as words would have. "You didn't do anything wrong," Yuki reassured him. "It's good that you have a friend that you want to bring to the party. It means you're getting better. We were just a little surprised."
"So who are you bringing?" Shuichi asked with genuine curiosity. Since Tokui didn't go out unless it was with him or his uncle, it was safe to assume that he knew this elusive friend.
Tokui continued to stare at his feet as he spoke, his voice so quiet Shuichi almost missed the name he said. "Chen Quon Yue," he all but whispered.
Yuki didn't seem phased by this statement, but Shuichi almost leapt right out of his seat. Chen Quon Yue, his biggest fan, tormentor of Nakano Hiroshi, and probably the most peculiar person he had ever met was the first and only friend of Seguchi Tokui, a boy with almost no self-esteem who preferred hiding in closets by himself over joining the rest of the world?
Yuki looked over at Shuichi, having noticed his initial reaction. "Is there something I should know about this person?" Yuki asked, confirming that he really hadn't been listening the night Shuichi had talked about him.
Shuichi shrugged. "Hiro doesn't like him that much, but when I met him he seemed really nice, if a bit nervous. He's really strange looking and I guess he doesn't like to follow rules but loves to push other people around. But I also don't think he'd hurt Tokui or be a bad influence on him. From what Hiro tells me he had some bad experiences when he was a kid and now he hates to see people hurt."
Yuki looked at Tokui, as if expecting him to confirm or deny this assessment. Finally he sighed and looked down at the carpet (which seemed so fascinating to Tokui at the moment.) "I guess we're in no place to tell him who he can and can't have for friends," Yuki said at last. "Tokui's an intelligent boy. I'm sure he wouldn't want to be around someone who could be a bad influence on him. And anyone who is willing to befriend someone like him has to be a pretty decent person- no offense, Tokui- so I guess now it's just a matter of you RSVP-ing your father and letting him know you plan on attending and bringing a guest."
Tokui shifted, obviously nervous. Shuichi noticed this and spoke up for the boy. "Maybe you should do it, Yuki. I don't think he wants to talk to his father."
"N-no!" Tokui interrupted, his eyes meeting the violet ones of his uncle's lover. He blushed, cleared his throat, and looked down at the floor. "I mean....I should do it. I'll be at NG tomorrow. I'll tell him then."
"Are you sure, Tokui?" Yuki asked, implying that he meant more than just him talking to his father.
Tokui nodded, understanding the implications of the question. "I'm sure."
If there was such thing as love at first sight, then it was logical to assume there was such thing as hate at first sight. And if there was, indeed, no such thing as hate at first sight before, there certainly was now. After all, it was really the only way to describe Seguchi Amai and Ukai Saki's feelings for each other.
From the moment the lavender-haired young woman had stepped into the rehearsal room, twin ponytails bouncing (as well as other matching endowments that were barely concealed by her skintight white top), dark violet eyes sporting an "I'm better than you" look, Amai knew she wouldn't like Saki no matter how hard she tried. She was exactly what she disliked most in a person.
Not that Amai hadn't given her a chance. After all, her father, Saki's mother, and Alexander's parents were watching to see what kind of chemistry their three children had. So far Saki at seated herself at the table, Alexander had placed himself in the corner and began to clean one of his guns, and Amai had propped herself up against a wall, all three not saying anything. There was no need to introduce themselves, since their parents had already done that for them. But an already tense moment was only being made more tense by the constant surveillance of their parents.
It was Saki who spoke first, realizing that no matter how many looks she cast in the direction of her equally well endowed but shorthaired mother she would not be able to escape the room unless someone said something.
"So you're all musicians," was the best she could come up with.
Amai nodded. "My first concert is in a few days."
Saki sized up Amai and bit her lip to keep from laughing. "You're a singer?"
"AND a songwriter AND a keyboardist," Amai amended proudly.
"I'm a singer and a keyboardist as well. You'll have to do better than that," Saki explained, pointing at Amai's flat chest. This caused the younger girl to cross her arms in front of her chest and glare at Saki with smoldering dark green eyes, but noticing the panicked look on Ukai Noriko's face and the concealed panic on her father's she decided not to respond. After all, *someone* had to be mature.
"I happen to like how Amai looks," Alexander piped in, not looking up from his gun.
Amai blushed, and Saki opened her mouth as if to say something else, but noticed their parents and bit it back. Finally, she sighed and looked over at Amai with a look that seemed like a combination of barely concealed anger and resignation. "Well, you'd better have *some* talent if we're going to work together."
"She has talent," Alexander said coolly. He holstered his gun and looked up. "But I think the question here is can we say the same about you?" He was clearly staring at her chest as he said it.
"Are you implying I got to be famous because of my looks and not my talent?" Saki all but screeched.
Alexander shrugged. "I think you implied it yourself when you told Amai she didn't have as much talent as you because her bra was a few sizes smaller than your own. Make up your mind: is it looks or talent that makes a musician? Because it would be a pretty big double standard that the one who obviously has no hang-ups with how she looks got famous for her talent while someone who is secure in their talents didn't make it because of her looks."
Saki wanted to argue, but found that she couldn't. The logic was irrefutable. She turned and looked at Amai, then back at Alexander. "All right. Fine. Amai, you're talented. Alexander, you're talented. And I'm talented. And I'm good looking. Alexander, you're good looking. And Amai, in your own weird tomboyish way that some guys might possibly go for, you're good looking."
There was still a great deal of tension in the room, and the parents could feel it, but they were also mentally crossing their fingers, hoping it would dissolve.
"Maybe we should see how you perform together," Noriko said, if to just interrupt the silence.
Touma nodded quickly in agreement. "Right. If you have great chemistry onstage maybe it can evolve into great chemistry offstage."
Alexander shrugged. "Fine by me. I assume I'm singing, since I can't play an instrument."
Noriko nodded at the boy who bore a strong resemblance to Ryuuichi; namely the Ryuuichi she remembered from high school, before he suddenly regressed. "If you know some of Grasper's old songs, maybe you can play one of them, since they are the only songs I know that you all know."
Amai nodded and walked beside her father as they headed toward a recording studio, Saki just behind her and standing next to her mother, and Alexander pushing his father in his wheelchair.
"So, you talk to your father yet?" Quon Yue asked. He was sitting in the open window of Seguchi Touma's private rehearsal room, smoking a cigarette and making sure he blew the smoke out the window.
Tokui was sitting on the other side of the locked room (their compromise, since Quon Yue wouldn't stop shaking when they were in a closet but Tokui wasn't comfortable being out in the open), writing in his notebook. "No," he confessed. "But it's not that I didn't try! Every time I go to his office he's not there. I think he's doing something with my sister today."
What is your fathers problem with you, anyway? Quon Yue asked, dropping his cigarette out the window.
Tokuis cheeks turned faintly red, but he didn't look up from his notebook. Eiri-ojisan says its because I look like him. Well, I look like he did when he was 16. When my uncle was 16 my father...cared for him a great deal. Then something happened to my uncle that turned him into the cold man that he is today, and my father blames himself for it and has regretted it ever since. Eiri-ojisan says I am a reminder of what happened and what he used to look like, and the fact that I act the way I do makes Tousan think he failed the same person twice.
So your father treats you like shit because you happen to look like someone, something that is beyond your control?
He doesn't treat me like shit! Tokui argued, then threw his hands over his mouth and blushed deeper.
Quon Yue chuckled, but not at Tokuis embarrassment for having said a curse word, but more because of his sudden outburst. All right. I believe you. But you cant tell me he treats your sister- who looks and acts exactly like him- the same exact way he treats you.
I didn't say he did. But were very different people. Besides, I never really got along with either of my parents while my sister did, while my sister never got along with Eiri-ojisan and Shindou-san while I did.
Quon Yue nodded. And from what I've seen, you made out pretty good in that deal.
Tokui chewed on his pencil before resuming his writing, deciding not to comment on what his friend had said. If you come to the party you WILL dress up like a man, right?
Quon Yue shrugged and lit another cigarette. Depends on whether I feel like being male or female that day.
Evidently, Quon Yue was feeling male this day, however Tokui had noticed (with a feeling that was a combination of amusement and annoyance that he figured hed better get used to if he wanted to be friends with this young man) that Quon Yues attire of the day seemed to be chosen to allude to Tokuis own mostly-black wardrobe. He had painted his nails black and wore black lipstick, eyeliner, and mascara, but he wore a black button-up shirt not tucked in, tight black leather pants, and black combat boots that matched Tokuis.
Tokui just shrugged at this answer. If Quon Yue decided to show up at the party dressed as a woman, then it wasn't Tokui's place to judge him, even if it reflected on him. After all, most people thought him to be pretty strange himself and considered him making a friend a miracle, even if his friend was a cross dresser who disregarded all rules and responsibilities.
Quon Yue pitched the cigarette out the window and closed the distance between them, standing over the younger boy on the floor. "Whatcha writing, anyway?"
Tokui blushed, swallowed, and did something he had never done willingly in his life: he gave his notebook to another person to look at. "It's a story. If it's good I want to get it published."
Quon Yue leaned against the wall and flipped back a few pages in the notebook, reading from the beginning. Tokui's nervousness was causing him to become short of breath, and he took a few puffs from his inhaler, but Quon Yue didn't acknowledge this, his eyes turning the blue-violet color that meant he was concentrating deeply (Quon Yue's first official act as best friend was to tell Tokui what all the colors his eyes turned meant. Tokui, in turn, had given him his necklace and explained what each key went to.)
Finally, Quon Yue handed back the notebook, which Tokui eagerly took. He couldn't read Quon Yue's expression, and his eyes hadn't changed color yet. "How was it?" Tokui asked. Quon Yue seemed to ponder this question, which made Tokui begin to babble nervously. "It's bad. I knew it. I shouldn't be a writer. I am insulting my uncle's honor. I was a fool to think I could be as good as he is-"
Quon Yue raised his finger in a silencing gesture that Tokui obeyed. "Don't automatically assume the worst, Tokui. God, you're such a pessimist...well, I guess that's what happens when the worst usually does happen in situations like that. Anyway, it isn't bad. Quite the opposite: I think it's great. I'm no great literary expert, mind you, but I've done a great deal of reading in my day and I can tell what's good and what's bad. The characters are interesting, the plot is original, and I like your choice of setting. It's not going too fast but not taking it's time, either, and the descriptions are rich without becoming tedious, and you hook readers right from the beginning. If you finish it I think with a little revising it'll be ready for publication. I never would have pictured you as the type who write fantasy, but then again it's not all that surprising. And by the way, I love your sorcerer character. He seems familiar."
Tokui blushed deeply. He'd never received praise before (but then, he'd never opened up to anyone before) and wasn't sure how to respond. "I thought you would make a good sorcerer. My sister is the stargazing oracle and my father is the king."
"You don't put either in a very positive light," Quon Yue observed. "In fact, the only characters you seem to show positively are the sorcerer, the minstrel, and the playwright. Okay, gimme a minute and let me guess...if I'm the sorcerer, then Shindou-san must be the minstrel and your uncle must be the playwright. That would make you the hero, right?"
Tokui shook his head furiously. "The hero is supposed to be my complete opposite."
"Well, if the hero is who you want to be then it's still technically you. Either way, I can't wait to see it finished," Quon Yue finished assessing with a nod that implied they were no longer discussing this topic.
They were both quiet for a long time in the dark room. Tokui put his notebook away, took out his other inhaler, and inhaled the medicine in it. He was about to take out his copy of one of his uncle's books, but was stopped short by a hand around his wrist. He looked up and met Quon Yue's devilish-looking bright blue eyes. "Let's take a little field trip."
No one spoke in the recording studio as they watched the three teens playing their instruments. The four parents were the only ones present on the side of the sound-proof class outside the recording area, and though they weren't recording Touma found himself wishing he had turned on the equipment and made a tape of this little session.
It was Noriko who recovered her ability to speak first. "They even look like us..." she murmured.
"It's a shame they don't get along," Touma said in a voice tinged with disappointment. If Amai didn't get along with Saki there would be no talking her into performing with her.
"They'll learn!" Ryuuichi piped up optimistically, though his voice carried a hint of doubt that didn't reassure the others the way his sunny optimism usually did.
"They do sound great. We could put them out and not even market them as Neo Grasper and they'd be instant hits," K mused.
Noriko sighed and leaned against a mixing board. "Saki must really think Amai is a threat. She's only so hostile when she feels threatened."
Touma looked down at his one-of-a-kind Italian shoes. "And Amai has such a short temper. Sure, I got trained out of mine eventually, but you were helping me. No offense, but I don't think Saki will help Amai get a handle on hers."
"But they'll get along!" Ryuuichi piped up, causing Noriko and Touma to look at him. They had a feeling this was going to be one of his rare "insightful" moments. "Remember when we all first met? Touma was such a bully, Noriko had a bad temper, and I didn't want to work. The only reason we were together in the first place was Touma and I were old friends and we hired Noriko. And we became such good friends, and they can, too! But they have to have a chance!"
Noriko sighed. "I suppose you're right. We're just trying to live our kid's lives for them. Our parents never lived our lives and look at what we accomplished. We'll leave it up to them to decide."
The song ended and the door separating the recording area and the mixing area opened. The three teens walked out, Alexander stretching his lean frame, Saki sauntering, and Amai coming up behind her, scowling the entire time.
"You three sound great together!" Noriko praised.
"We know," they all said in unison, though begrudgingly by the sound of their tone.
"Is there are a problem?" Touma asked, the question guided toward his daughter.
Amai sighed. "We sound great together. We look great together. And playing together just feels right. But we don't all like each other, and how can we be any good? My first reaction is to say I never want to do that again, but...I don't know. It just seems like too good an idea to let get away."
"Yeah," the other two said, sporting bitter looks on their faces.
"Ryuuichi was just saying that if you spend more time together and play more together maybe you'll learn to like each other more," K told them.
They all just sighed. This caused the parents to look down at their feet and sigh in response.
"Amai has a concert coming up in a few days. Maybe you should all get together and play a song or two just to see what it's like and how the fans react," Touma suggested at last. This earned him three shrugs in response.
Before the room could descend into awkward silence the door to the recording studio swung open.
"Can't you read? This room is off limits except to authorized personnel until further notice," Touma told whoever it was bitterly, but when he turned around he widened his eyes in surprise: standing there, staring at his feet and sporting an expression akin to that of a cornered animal, was his son. And next to his son, with an arm around his shoulders (which he didn't know Tokui let ANYONE touch him) was the man he had signed for no reason other than to torment Nakano Hiroshi: Chen Quon Yue, his eyes glittering bright blue and making him feel slightly unnerved.
"Glad we finally found you, Sachou," Quon Yue said evenly, guiding Tokui into the room. "Tokui here has something to ask you. We've been searching this whole building for you, you know. Go on, Tokui, ask him."
Tokui blushed, swallowed, and stared down at his feet. "O-Otousan...I...um...I....canibringquonyuetoyourparty?" he finally spat out in one breath.
"What? Slow down a little," Touma ordered.
Amai walked over to her brother, sizing up the man who had his arm around him. Quon Yue sized her up right back. "He wants to know if he can bring Quon Yue to your engagement party," Amai translated.
Touma stared at Quon Yue with an expression that Tokui was sure meant no, but out loud he said "You didn't have to ask me. Your invitation said you could bring the guest of your choice, whether I approve of them or not."
The look of relief that washed over Tokui's face expelled all of Touma's suspicions that it had been Quon Yue's idea to attend the party and that he had forced Tokui to ask his father against his will. In fact, that relieved look was startling to Touma; he'd never seen his son relieved, happy, or excited about anything in his life.
Touma suddenly realized he and his unexpected visitors were receiving strange looks from the others in the room, so he turned to face them and cleared his throat. "This is my son, Seguchi Tokui. And this young man is another act signed onto NG, Chen Quon Yue. He is Tokui's friend. And Tokui, these are all my guests: Sakuma Ryuuichi, Crawd Winchester, Alexander Sakuma-Winchester, Ukai Noriko, and Ukai Saki."
Tokui looked at the crowd of strangers, swallowed hard, then shrugged out of Quon Yue's grasp and turned around, darting from the room. Quon Yue's eyes turned a shade of violet that Touma found particularly interesting before he turned to the others, gave them a curt nod, and took off running to find his best friend.
"Nervous little thing, isn't he?" Saki said to break the uncomfortable silence that had descended on the room.
Amai turned and glared at the other girl. "He's different, okay? You don't know how much of a miracle it is he has one friend, so just shut up and leave him alone!"
"You know, your son looks just like-" Noriko started before Touma interrupted her.
"Yes, I know," Touma said bitterly. Then he sighed and looked down at his feet. "Good God, do I know..."
Everyone looked at Touma and bristled uncomfortably. Everyone except for Alexander, that is. He was looking at the door that Quon Yue had just used to make his hasty exit. Quon Yue, with the most interesting, beautiful eyes...
Quon Yue finally managed to find Tokui in the stairwell, panting and shaking his inhaler. He was just taking a puff as Quon Yue stepped in front of him, his eyes the sky blue color that made Tokui unable to hate him or hide anything from him, his defective one twitching ever so slightly.
"Look, I am really, really sorry," Quon Yue told Tokui, his voice and eyes reflecting his sincerity and further melting Tokui's hurt and anger. "If I knew all those people were in there I never would have forced you to go in. I thought it would just be your father. And I'm sorry I made you ask your father then and there, but I thought you could handle it if I was standing right there. I didn't mean to hurt you in any way."
Tokui responded by embracing Quon Yue, sobbing onto his shoulder. "It's not...It's not you. God, now all my father's friends think I'm some kind of freak. Which I guess I am. I couldn't even ask my father a simple question...."
"In all fairness, your father is a pretty scary person," Quon Yue told him in a tone that was only half joking. When Tokui didn't stop crying, he pushed him away slightly and wiped his eyes for him. "You're not a freak, all right? You're different. I'm different. If they don't understand that then it's their loss. We've lived just fine so far without their approval. You feel things differently than they do, and if they don't want to understand that and see what a wonderful person you really are then they are the only ones who are missing out."
Tokui's eyes were still brimming with tears as he looked into Quon Yue's eyes for any sign that he was making this up, but found only caring and understanding in those heavenly azure orbs.
"Okay, hold on a second. You, sit right here," Quon Yue ordered, forcing Tokui to sit on the first step of the staircase that lead up. He then ascended the staircase and sat on the top one. "Stay there," he ordered as he took out a cigarette. "Smoke rises so you should be safe." He lit the cigarette and shook the match until the flame extinguished, then dropped it on the concrete. "Damn, you really DO do everything you're told, don't you? I'm gonna give you some lessons in assertiveness first."
Tokui quirked an eyebrow, but turned and sat the long way across the step so he would only have to look sideways to look up at Quon Yue. Quon Yue was right about smoke rising: he couldn't even smell the smoke from his level, much less be irritated by it.
"Okay, step one: stand up straight and tall," Quon Yue ordered. Tokui stood up on the step with his hands at his side in a perfect military attention stance. "Step two: lift your chin like you're better than everyone else." Tokui did this as well, trying to look as arrogant as he possibly could. "Step three: take a deep breath and hold it until step four." Tokui drew in a deep breath and waited. Quon Yue paused for a few seconds to take a drag from his cigarette. "Step four: exhale while saying 'banana'."
Tokui exhaled sharply, almost shouting "banana" as he did so. The sound echoed in the empty staircase, allowing Tokui to realize how foolish what he had just done really was. He couldn't help himself: he began to laugh. Softly at first, but then so hard that he had to sit down on the step to keep from falling. Quon Yue joined in his laughter, which lasted a few minutes before Tokui began gasping for air. Quon Yue stopped laughing and looked down in alarm, but after Tokui took a few puffs of his inhaler he resuming chuckling lightly, wiping the tears from his eyes.
"That was lesson number one," Quon Yue explained, the smile returning to his face. "You don't have to do everything everyone tells you. If it sounds stupid then don't do it. Then you'll just be making an ass out of yourself. And next time you might not be able to see the humor in it."
"I see," Tokui said, still smiling. Quon Yue dropped his cigarette and stepped it out, descending the staircase. He then took Tokui's chin so they were facing each other eye to eye. His eyes were glittering silver, something that Tokui had never seen but he knew meant the older boy was really, truly happy.
"I thought you had a pretty smile," Quon Yue told him. "I was wondering if I'd ever get to see it. I'm glad I got to. You need to learn how to smile more."
Tokui blushed, his small smile remained as Quon Yue released his chin. "Come on," he announced. "Shindou-san must be getting ready to leave and trust me: you don't want to get left behind and have to go home with me. And okay, I'll admit it: I want to see Shindou-san again so I can have more wet dreams about him."
Tokui guffawed, and Quon Yue smiled in return. It was always awkward the first time someone really laughed. This was something he knew quite well. But after the first time it became easier. And the easier it became, the better the person would feel.
Hiro hadn't gone to work that day. It had been Quon Yue's idea. His exact words were "you and producer chick punch in and then do whatever the hell you please while I do some stuff of my own, then I'll punch you two out. You don't tell if I don't tell."
Hiro was sure the young man had ulterior motives, but as long as he didn't get caught and he still got paid for the day he didn't care what they were. He'd once asked the younger man what he had done for money before entering the music industry, receiving the cryptic answer of "you don't wanna know". Hiro had decided that he really DIDN'T want to know, remembering the neighborhood he was from, the way the lowlifes all treated him like they owed him, and his expertise in the bedroom.
Hiro double checked the address on the paper with the address on the building he was standing in front of. It was a better neighborhood than the one Quon Yue lived in, but still barely enough to be called "middle class". Sighing, he walked into the lobby of the apartment building. A rather unenthused looking middle-aged woman was sitting at the desk, flipping through a magazine. She didn't notice Hiro approach.
Hiro cleared his throat. The woman didn't look up. He cleared his throat again. No answer. He tried a third time. The woman looked up at him from the corner of her eye. "Do you need a glass of water, sir?"
"I need an apartment number," Hiro all but growled.
The woman sighed in exasperation and took out a Roll-o-Dex. "Which one?"
"I need to know where Yamamoto Makoto lives," he told her. He actually didn't know this Yamamoto Makoto, whom he assumed was a woman. He was only concerned with who she supposedly lived with, if the trail of leads he had followed so far proved accurate.
"Fifth floor. Apartment 502. Elevator's out so use the stairs," the woman told him. He muttered something akin to "thanks" and trudged up the stairs.
The apartment was surprisingly hard to find, considering most of the numbers on the doors were missing. He was finally able to ascertain where 502 had to be by finding door 500, looking across the hall and seeing a door marked "50" with a mark where a 1 had once been, and figuring 502 had to be the door with about half a five next to door 500. He hesitated before knocking on the door.
At first there was no answer. He tried again, this time causing a male voice to shout "I'm coming!" in a tone that didn't sound unpleasant while at the same time didn't sound too friendly.
The door opened as far as the chain lock on the door would allow, and a dark eye framed by pale blonde hair looked out at him. "Yes?" he asked. He looked at Hiro's suit and sighed. "Whatever you're selling we're not interested."
He went to close the door, but Hiro quickly slipped his hand in. "I'm not a salesman. I'm looking for someone. Does Yamamoto Makoto live here?"
"You're looking at him," the man said. "But I paid all my bills so if your working for some utility company tell them to look in their mailboxes."
"No, I'm actually looking for Aizawa Tachi. I heard he was living here, but I must be mistaken," Hiro explained. Makoto moved Hiro's hand out of the way and shut it, and Hiro turned, ready to leave. But to his surprise he heard the chain being undone on the lock. The door open wider, and Hiro realized who the thin man with the stringy pale-blonde hair and dark eyes was: the one that had been called "Ma-kun" in the band ASK.
"Tachi! It's for you!" Makoto shouted into the apartment. There was a narrow entry way that prevented Hiro from looking in.
"Who is it?" a rather annoyed voice shouted from inside.
"I don't know. But he asked for you and he says he's not a salesman or a bill collector."
"Then don't be an ass! Let him in!"
Makoto moved out of the way, allowing Hiro to step in. He then lead him into a small living room, where a thing dark-haired man was sitting in a chair across from a television set, smoking. Hiro was standing at the angle that allowed Hiro to see the man's face, and his brown eyes. The pupil in his right one was slightly smaller than the left, and twitching ever so slightly. It was a few moments before Aizawa looked up at Hiro.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Nakano Hiroshi," Hiro said coolly, fighting the urge to walk over and punch the man in the face. But he was on a mission.
"Nakano Hi-...wait a second...you were in Bad Luck, weren't you?" Aizawa said, the realization just dawning on him. He rose from his chair with a sickening and all-too-familiar smug smile pasted on his face. Next time Quon Yue used that on him Hiro would have to tell him it made him look like his father. That would wipe it right off his face.
"Yes, I was. But that's not what I'm here about," Hiro told him as calmly as he could.
"Is it an apology for your friend you want? Because I already confronted him and apologized for that years ago while I was still in therapy. We've both moved on. But if that's what you want, then I admit it: I was wrong. It was totally uncalled for. And now, looking back on it, I AM guilty. I don't dislike Shindou-san any less but he didn't deserve that. But hey, the better man won out in the end, right?" Aizawa offered, obviously just trying to get this man out of his home.
"Actually, it's not about that. And I'll add that Shuichi might have forgiven you, but I sure as hell haven't and if you ever cross paths with Yuki Eiri you'd better hope there is a God," Hiro retorted. He saw Makoto shift uneasily before retreating to the kitchen.
"Well, then what the hell do you want with me?" Aizawa finally asked.
Hiro had to think of how to word what he wanted to say. "I'm here because by some cruel twist of fate I am working with one of your biggest mistakes."
"Oh? Care to elaborate?"
"I'm a manager at NG now, and my current assignment is your son."
Aizawa looked at Hiro as if he had just fallen off the paddy wagon. "What the hell are you talking about? I don't have a son."
"You don't remember almost 19 years ago in high school when you slept with some poor Chinese girl and then abandoned her when you found out she was pregnant?"
"Chinese girl....oh my god. Was her family name Chen?"
"Coming back to you, isn't it?"
"Fuck, she was pregnant?"
"You can't honestly tell me you didn't know."
Aizawa's defective eye began to twitch madly. "Shit, of course I didn't! I broke up with her because my father didn't want me to date a Chinese girl! But she never told me she was pregnant! How the hell do you know he's mine?"
"He's got a defective left eye, an annoying smug smile, an arrogant attitude, and a hell of a singing voice. And besides that he named you as his father."
"But...if he's mine, why the hell hasn't anyone told me? And why didn't he come to see me?"
"He thinks you abandoned him and his mother. He hates you. Despises you. When I told him how he was like you he hated you even more. And he adores Shindou Shuichi. He thinks what you did to him makes you all the more despicable."
Aizawa sat down in his chair, a look of shock on his face. "I...I have a son. I didn't know." He looked up at Hiro, as if pleading for forgiveness. "I really didn't know. If I had I would have done something."
"I somehow doubt that."
"Look, what I did to Shindou was just one of a number of unacceptable things I did before my breakdown. I was well on my way to insanity before Seguchi Touma pushed me in front of that car. I was sick then. But I wasn't when I was with Lien Tai. And if someone had only told me sooner...oh God, tell me he was well taken care of at least!"
Hiro looked down at the dirty blue carpet. "I don't think he was. He won't talk about his mother and step-father except to say the latter died and the former abandoned him when he was 13, I saw the tiny, filthy dump he calls an apartment in the middle of someplace no better than a slum that he claims he grew up in, he lives there with a big, scary, abusive cousin and you know what else? I think he's been selling himself or other unsavory things to survive."
"You're making this up! You have to be! This is all some kind of sick joke trying to make me regret what I did to Shindou!"
"I kid you not. If I wanted to get back at you I would have done it then instead of waiting 16 years, and I wouldn't have gone out of my way to find you. But you know what? I am loving watching you suffer right now. Suffering with your guilt. A bright young boy could have had a better life if you had only been there for him, but now he hates you and will probably try to kill you if you ever step toward him. And I think he's capable. He's already pulled a knife on me. So I hope it hurts. I hope it hurts at least half as bad as Shuichi hurt after you hired those goons to try to destroy him. I saw those disgusting pictures you took, and I have never forgotten them. I should let Quon Yue carve you to pieces. But I am going to do a poor boy who has suffered enough a favor and not give him a chance."
With that, Hiro turned on his heel and stomped away. Makoto was looking at him from the kitchen, wide-eyed with fear. He nodded curtly at the man, saying "Yamamoto" as a gesture of acknowledgement, and left, slamming the door behind him.
End of Chapter 9
1.) I don't know Ma-kun's real name or if he has one, but I needed one for this story and let's face it: the name Ma-kun sucks. I also gave him a unisex name typically used for females on purpose so Hiro wouldn't recognize him by his real name alone, and made sure I used to "ma" sound twice ("YaMAmoto MAkoto").
2.) Here's the key I use to determine Quon Yue's eye colors if you were wondering or I was too vague on a few colors (like sky blue):
White=Scared, Nervous, In Pain
Sky Blue=Sad, Sympathetic, Longing
Bright Blue=Mischievous, Scheming
Dark Blue=Thinking, Reminiscing