Harry, Brandon, and Bunji relfect on Lee as he moves up in the family. [non-yaoi]
Lee's promotion was the final in a series of climbs for all of them since their victory over Blood War and Cannon Vulkan. Harry was given a chair, Brandon's Graves were officially recognized, and Lee was now Randy's money man, a position Harry used for years, and greatly enjoyed. Moving up was no longer a priority as having it all was his ultimate goal. While Lee shared this ambition, Harry never quite got as close to Lee personally as he'd liked.
When Lee allowed him to shoot Cannon, Harry thought things had changed...they would somehow be closer, the way he was with Brandon, the way he'd been with Nathan, Kenny, and... Soon it dawned on him that Lee used him to cover his own ass, for breaking the Iron Code, and wasn't afraid to admit it when Harry confronted him that afternoon.
"I can't believe you did an end run around me and scored a position on Randy's team."
"Give me a break Harry, you vacated your position when you moved up."
"I wanted you by my side Lee,"
"Bob is all you need. I have to think about my own place in Millenion."
"You chose me over your own brother-,"
"Are you serious? I let you kill Cannon!"
"I saved your life!"
"You've never had a brother, have you Harry? Cannon wouldn't have killed me. Big brothers live to choke you until you're near passed out, and when you're an inch close from losing consciousness, they lift their foot from your neck and laugh as you struggle to reintroduce air to your lungs."
Their conversation was definitely a wake-up call, a lesson in clarity. Lee needed Harry to think he'd given Cannon over to him-this way Harry was willing to lie to the others and cover up Lee's betrayal. Sure, Harry realized that turn about was fair play, even when he caught Lee. Harry kept Lee alive that night because without him, he'd never found Cannon. Lee knew it and didn't think twice about Harry's false sentiments of friendship; Lee was all about Lee, and confessed as much to Harry hours before the party.
"What's this?" Lee asked Brandon.
Brandon's eyes lifted up as Lee inquisitively stared. It was a small narrow gift box with a removable lid. He grinned at Lee sheepishly.
"Open it," said Brandon.
Lee lifted the lid and flashed a brilliant smile toward him, with his long fingers he brought up a large 12-inch stainless steel pair of scissors for the others to see. Harry and Bob laughed gregariously as Brandon stood, removed his suit jacket and held his arms up, delivering himself to Lee's mercy.
"I can't believe you took what I said two years ago, so seriously!" Lee laughed.
It'd been two years before, during a dinner, which Lee sniped at Brandon for arriving with his long hair tied back with a rubber band.
"What the hell are you supposed to be, me?"
"Mr. Walken says I need to keep it out of my face."
"I'm the only pony-tail around here Heat, you got that?"
"Oh fuck it. Here, don't use a rubber band; they just tear up your hair. Use this, its ribbon and you can control the tightness. Your face is too round for a tight look, tying it at the back of neck makes you look like a goon. Here, pull it together down low, on your back, let it loose around your head."
Brandon walked to Lee, grinned, and twisted around.
"I'll make sure the cut is something the hairdresser can work with." Lee said, and with two pumps of his hand, was now the proud owner of Brandon Heat's long tail of hair. "Ah...that felt good. I've been dying cut that head for over eight years now!"
Brandon laughed, his hand instinctually moved to the back where Lee had cut.
"It looks better all ready," Lee assured him, "The new glasses weren't working with the long hair."
Lee took the last box on the table and glanced at Bob.
"That's not from me." Bob said.
Harry shook his head when Lee looked to him, but Brandon spoke up, "Bunji said to give it to you."
"That Madness Bunji guy?" Lee asked. He knew little of Kugashira, only that a few years ago Harry brought him in and assigned him to sweep under Brandon.
"I don't know. He just gave it to me, said it was for you." Brandon said.
It was a typical 24x14 box, wrapped smartly in brown paper and tied with slim twine. Lee used Brandon's gift of sheers to cut the rope and once naked of its wrap he pulled aside the lid. Lee's expression was something they'd never seen before; they weren't quite sure what to make of it. Lee suddenly appeared feverish as he slowly sat, the box cradled in his arms.
Bunji lifted the weight bar above his chest one last time before bringing it down into the cradle above his head. He sat up; content he'd pushed his body just enough tonight to enjoy an extra long shower. He toweled his face and pulled at the snap on his jeans. He was tired, and it was time to clean up.
Five years ago he sat in his car and waited.
Balladbird Lee was one of Millenion's new faces, one of the marks he was hired to take out. This Balken was like clockwork; half-hour before dawn he came down and jogged two miles to the boardwalk, then ran like lightning down the boardwalk. After that, Lee got his pint of water, chugged it, and then jogged home.
When Lee emerged from his apartment a half-hour later, he was usually dressed for work. Today was different, Lee wasn't dressed for anything in particular, and so when he came back out, Bunji followed on foot. For five blocks he trailed the leggy Balken right into the familiar haunt of Balkentown; Bunji didn't miss this place with its incessant chatter, narrow eyes above smiling faces, and large round women hanging out their windows minding the sidewalk talk. He thought then of his half-brother and his half-brother's family, they lived here, somewhere. The smell of the heat on the city sidewalk made him nauseous, but the tang of roasting poultry from a nearby vendor cured him enough to stop for lunch.
He ate as he walked, never losing sight of his target. Lee stopped in front of a shop window then went inside. Bunji picked his teeth a few moments until he decided to follow, but he realized he wasn't dressed the part. He looked around until he spotted a reasonably clad guy whose clothes he considered upscale enough to get inside the shop without attention. Stepping up behind the man, he quickly pushed him between buildings and slammed the back of the head against the alley wall. The stranger was out cold, allowing Bunji to borrow his clothes without difficulty.
Inside the shop, he ambled casually over to a rack of shirts and pretended to pick through them. Lee wasn't in sight, but Bunji knew he was there; the scent of his cologne dominated the shop and when Lee emerged like a peacock, strutting from the dressing room to the long tri-mirrors against the wall, Bunji watched in wonder. Lee was born to wear that outfit, as if it'd been tailor made just for his body, a long black mandarin pantsuit, with a brilliant orange dragon adorning its front.
"It fits you perfectly Sir," the sales man smiled.
"I know," said Lee, who bowed around and tugged at the ridge over his backside.
"You take this one, with the others?" the sales man asked in his heavy accent.
Bunji watched out the corner of his eye as Lee pondered it while preening in the mirror, but a frown came with a grasp of the price tag.
"This looks incredible on me," Lee said to the man, "but five-thousand yule? Come on?"
The sales man looked sad, "This is one of a kind. From Balken. I cannot sell for less."
Lee sighed, lips closed tight, hands on hips, no doubt calculating every yule he currently had to his name and even some he hadn't earned yet, until he exhaled noisily, defeated. With a scowl he unzipped the back of it and said, "I'll take the shirts there, you can keep this, for now."
Lee paid for his shirts in cash and sauntered out the front with the same panache he'd used when he entered. Bunji chuckled to himself. Five-Thousand yule was a lot of green. He looked over to the sales man, and when the man turned he pulled out his gun and walked toward him...
The knock on the door cleared his head and told his hand to pick up the pistol from the counter. No one visited him except Brandon to pick him up for work, so guests were unanticipated.
"Yo," Bunji yelled at the door.
Bunji leered a moment before puting on his game face. He opened the door a crack. Lee watched him without a hint of sentiment. They stood there, silently staring one another down until Lee's thin lips formed a smile.
"Didn't fit ya, did it Kugashira?"
"Nope," said Bunji, "I didn't have the heart to cut it up and make it fit."
"All these years, you'd think you wouldn't need a tailor." Lee said.
"Yeah, well I grew, just not like that." Bunji grinned.
Lee paused a moment, watching him, and chose his words carefully, "I'd come in and shake your hand, but I hear you're not the sort to be touched."
"Wouldn't say I dislike it," Bunji said, arms crossing over chest, gun tucked under forearm, "just not used to it."
"Well, thank you." Lee said and departed.
Bunji stood a moment, gazing at the crack in door, naked without Lee's face. As he slowly closed it, he inhaled deep, recapturing the essence of that time all those years before, when he first encountered Balladbird Lee.
Gynocrat - 2006