You are my happiness, my trustee.
Disclaimer: see chapter 1
Warning: see chapter 1
Thank you to yoshikochan, yamatoforever, fightingdreamer5 and anonymous. I hope you guys enjoy reading this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thank you too reader and to all my previous reviewers.
Special mention to my sister who helped me when I was stumped for a while. Thanks sis.
European Studies:Chapter 6
A stinging sensation on his cheek woke him up. When his eyes flickered open he saw his father seething in front of him, the culprit for the pain he was going through. Oddly enough he appeared to have fallen asleep on his feet. A burst of emotion was bubbling in his throat, but he couldn't pick one.
"You undisciplined child!" His father screamed in fury. His face had distorted in a way he had never thought possible, and he literally glowed as he spoke.
Syuusuke was too shocked for words when he had realized exactly who was in front of him. He paled as his mouth sported a brain of its own and ran away before he could apologize. "Now whose fault would that be?" He flinched inwardly. This had to be a dream except in dreams you weren't supposed to get hurt...right?
His father faced the other way, took a deep breath and retorted, "Hah just because I wasn't there for a few months in a year."
"/Just because you weren't there,/" Echoing softly the words of his father to work out their meaning, Syuusuke felt a freezing cold overtake his insides. His racing heart skipped a beat, and his mind finally chose an emotion he would stick with: fury. "/Just because you weren't there/, Yuuta always got into fights. /Just because you weren't there/, Yumiko-neesan nearly started believing and selling her soul to black magic. /Just because you weren't there/, mother started hating being alone in our own house!"
"This isn't about me Syuusuke. It's about you and your misguided ways!"
The banging of his father's hands on his desk resounded throughout the room and rang in his ears. It made his head buzz with nausea and unrelenting pain. His father spun again and wrath was too light an emotion to describe what Syuusuke saw in the eyes that bore into his. There was disappointment. "How can it be misguided when you don't even try to understand! Not just whom I love, you don't even try to understand me!"
The silence that followed made Syuusuke empathize with his dream self. Somehow he was able to comprehend what this shout-fest was about, but not entirely. "Why do you love this man?"
He stared at him challengingly and answered without a pause "If I had a reason then it wouldn't be love at all."
Syuusuke Fuji opened his eyes for what seemed like the second time today. Currently, he was still on his bed covered with his blankets, alone and understandably confused. There was still a continuation to that scene but he was uncertain of what it was. He couldn't shake of the last dregs of what could have been simply a dream or a distant memory he forgot. Sitting up he pressed his hand against the damp cheek which still stung to add pressure to a pain that was definitely not from his sister. He was acutely aware of the liquid that trickled down his arm's length. It took a while to label the water as tears and the reason as sadness. He hurriedly wiped them away, nearly making an effort callous enough to scratch. He was annoyed, frustrated and lost in his own home. It wasn't until someone knocked on his door when it halted completely.
"Aniki, Tezuka-san called last night and requested that you call him in the afternoon." Yuuta's voice carried over from the other side, and he loathed having his little brother see him as a wreck. He removed the covers rapidly and jumped out of bed. Yuuta poked his head inside the room somewhere between that. "Ah sorry if I woke you up. You should hurry though it's pretty late."
He stretched his slightly sore muscles from the unexpected exercise he went through yesterday. Though he had only applied to three companies, he did not know they were far enough from each other that it would make his athletic body protest. "Thanks for the heads up. I'll see if I can call Tezuka later then." He glanced at his bedside clock and noted the hour with surprise. "Is it really one in the afternoon?"
For a while the crease on Yuuta's forehead wouldn't leave. Finally coming to a decision, Yuuta strode inside his room, passed him by and drew the curtains aside with one swift move. Wordlessly he answered him. The light washing inside the room was too bright, the sunbeams too hot and the shadows too small. Syuusuke watched his brother fix the curtains into a perfect curve. The urge to teasewas rising fast but was quickly dismissed by a shrug. "I'll be taking a bath then."
Having finished his masterpiece, Yuuta spun and called to Syuusuke. "You'll have to buy lunch outside. Mom didn't make anything." Yuuta saw his brother nod and followed him out of the room. "I'll be heading out."
There was a flash of red in Syuusuke's eyes but it was covered by his eyelids far too fast for Yuuta to have confirmed. "Saa, itterashai. Take care of yourself." Without warning Yuuta hugged his brother and turned to leave.
Fuji entered the pet shop to see a frantic Eiji scurrying about, cleaning the cages, and to hear the animals complaining, squawking, mewling and howling for the invasion of their privacy. He immediately held the bag Eiji struggled to hold along with the utensils and the tipped cage. The acrobat grinned and whispered a word of thanks to his friend. "Sorry about this...and last time."
"Well you were one of the most sought after boys in the club back in high school." Fuji teased. Having finished the cage they were both working on, Fuji sealed the bag full of animal excrement and handed it to Eiji for disposal.
"No, no. I AM the most sought after boy in the club up to now!" Telling Fuji to let himself in and use the sink, Eiji bounded to the back room and into the alley. There were some clanking coming from the same direction and a large bang.
Fuji took in the expanse of the shop after washing his hands in the back. He whistled and took the stool in front of the cashier. It was small, had more cats than dogs, but was adequately full and had both walls completely lined with a good selection of breed. "And if you're a journalist what are you doing making your own pet shop?" Fuji shouted to make himself heard fighting with the noise the animals were making.
The animals' apprehension was beginning to tide over, and the sound of running water reached Fuji's ears before Eiji reappeared, asking. "Who said I own it?
Shaking his head, Eiji took the seat behind the counter. "I am a journalist. I just work here on the third Thursday of every month because Akira-nii's assistant takes the same day off as I do, and even though it's supposed to be my day off..." He sighed heavily as if to emphasize his point. There was a thoughtful pout that adorned his face for an instant and he continued, "Buchou's moving out must be hard on him." When Fuji had replied with a questioning stare thrown at his way he explained. "His work and new lodgings started almost simultaneously. He didn't come to last year's New Year's party, that's when he got that apartment, and the last I saw him before Sumire-san's Soubetsukai was graduation itself. Even then the air he held about him was tired and lonely...Oishi told me it was a matter of pride and responsibility but that's all he knew or all he would tell me. So forgive him for his messed up information. He believes it to be a hundred percent true though."
In the next minute that passed by, Fuji felt like a rabbit which fell into a trap with the look Eiji was giving him. It had seemed to have lasted for an eternity until Eiji seized Fuji's hands from across the table and gave him the briefest but most excruciating of inspections.
"Fuji, is something wrong?"
There was an odd feeling building up inside Fuji and instead of negating what he knew to be true he parried. "Why, is there something off about me?"
The redhead withdrew and propped his head on his right hand. His eyebrows drew together and quietly voiced his feelings. "I'm sure by now you would've poked at Tezuka being a Tennis idiot."
Fuji peeked at his friend and considered brushing the recurring events around him. The guilt of not being truthful to his friend screamed bloody hell at him. It was unfair to them both, and he bowed his head in defeat. "Yuuta had the same reaction." He riposted with the phrase 'I don't know why' nearly dying on his lips.
They were both stumped and suddenly Eiji came back with his usual cheerfulness. "Did Saeki mention anything?" Blinking slowly, Fuji shook his head then and cocked it to his right. "Just making sure," Eiji scratched his head all of the sudden becoming bashful.
Fuji bit back a laugh and smiled amusedly at his friend. It was no secret between them that Eiji did not like him staying for prolonged periods with Saeki - prolonged meaning, longer than he does with him. Eiji even considers Saeki as a close friend so he had always chided the redhead for his silly jealousy but found it cute nonetheless. And Fuji was susceptible to very cute things.
Doing away with his previous suspicion, Eiji inquired. "Do you have plans for tomorrow and the weekend thereafter?"
"None that I know of..." Fuji trailed off checking if he did have nothing on his agenda for the Emperor's birthday. Reaffirming his statement with a nod, he waited for Eiji to elucidate himself.
"I won five round trip tickets to Kumamoto last October. It's a long story. I'll tell you later. And, Tezuka was able to get us accommodations for free, which he has yet to tell us how." Eiji was beaming at the end of his statement. When Fuji had seemed uncertain at the offer, he took his hands again yanked him closer. "You have to come. We still have some free seats. Kawamura-san is busy with his family and the restaurant, and Inui is still panicking why his theories on how to make his students behave aren't working. He can't go on forever using that muck he calls juice. It's corporal punishment!"
Fuji met Eiji's eyes and expressed his thoughts on the matter. "What about your family Eiji? You should go with them."
"They were the ones who told me to have fun with all of you!" Then Eiji added as an afterthought. "Unless you brought that Leon guy here with you in Japan I could understand."
Fuji swatted Eiji's hand away and returned to his previous position. "I'll be happy to come. Just make sure you aren't using us as a reason to date your beloved Oishi."
"We were never together to begin with!" Eiji flushed at the old joke that no one other than Fuji dared to do after he proved to be the best collector for blackmail in town.
This time the tables were turned, and Fuji was giving him an odd stare more like scrutiny. "Still nothing?"
Eiji deflated visibly as he covered the table in front of him. "Not only that. I should be happy if he even acknowledges my presence."
"Oh so you do have a ploy for this trip." Fuji watched his friend with concern, marked the issue as a new taboo and changed the subject promptly. "Now then how's work?"
Letting go of the moment's depression, Eiji recounted it to him with his best smile. "Remember I told you I wanted to work for Asahi? I didn't get a position there." He took out his wallet showed Fuji two calling cards. "I met the editor-in-chief of Asahi during our graduation. He wasn't scouting for any new blood but was reminiscing of his time as a student. He looked so young that Akira-nii looks older but he's what? 40? That aside, it was completely coincidental. He was wandering aimlessly, not knowing where the march began, and asked me because I was wearing the graduation uniform. We had a long conversation since he found me by the gates of the university. He told me of his dreams and all that. When who he was had finally registered in me I nearly had a heart attack. I think he found me amusing since he laughed. When we had arrived he gave me this card and told me if I really want to work for him in the future I should work for smaller companies first, even freelance is fine, or else I may end up not applying at all." The shop's bell rang, abruptly interrupting their conversation. Eiji motioned for Fuji to wait, kept the two cards safely tucked in his wallet and attended to the customer.
The tinkle of the entrance bell reminded Fuji of what Yuuta informed him early this morning. Though he loathed having the opportunity to hear Atobe singing again, it should be just about the right time that he wouldn't have to. He punched the numbers harshly on his mobile phone and was rewarded that lovely message left on the answering machine. Cancelling the call hastily, he pocketed the phone. Soon after there was a nagging feeling that he couldn't shake off again. He twisted on his seat to catch sight only of the little girl Eiji was attending to, her mother and Eiji himself. He scanned the area near the shop but nothing was there except for commuters and the occasional car taking a shortcut through this district. Forcing himself to calm down, Fuji stood and helped himself to a glass of water.
Kikumaru Akira came out from the back, startling Fuji who had noticed neither way nor person there while he had his drink. He was followed by a little boy who was carrying what he gathered to be an abused and battered pup. It was making wailing sounds, and there were patches of blood on its dark fawn coat. "We'll take care of her." He motioned for Fuji to come closer, carefully maneuvering the puppy out of the boy's hands and handing it to him.
The boy raised his head, held it high and gave Fuji a harsh perusal. "Sensei will but people like him won't!" He stomped over to Fuji and barked. "Niisan should hold pochi like a baby. He's fragile!"
Taken aback Fuji could only gape at the kid. Eiji saw the previous customer out and went to help fix the dispute. He crouched down and ruffled the boy's hair. "That's not very nice bocchan. Everyone here will protect Picard-chan. Now go back to where your father's waiting alright?"
The boy stared at Eiji for a few more seconds before running out of the shop. "You're welcome to come back by the way!" Akira called after him.
"That was mean Akira-san." Fuji accused, glaring. "You knew he would have done that to you if you had held this dog."
"Bingo!" Eiji slung his arm over Fuji's shoulder and poked at the dog's nose with the other. "That kid came in here carrying that Berger Picard which probably got caught in a dog fight. He kept saying Akira-nii was doing things wrong."
Akira combed his short red hair with his fingers and got the dog from Fuji's charge. "Sorry, but if he didn't trust me to take care of this dog, then he'd be coming back everyday suspicious. At least he won't be as harsh now." He held the puppy close to Fuji's face, and it licked his nose. The two Kikumarus laughed at the cross-eyed look that resulted from it. "How was London? I heard you got yourself a boyfriend."
"You're not scared of me then?" Fuji smirked threateningly, his words laced with a bit of menace.
Setting the dog down on the counter, he replied. "We were always scared of you Fuji," He grinned and patted Fuji's shoulder. "But seriously I don't really mind. It's not as if I've never met people with the same preferences such as you." He had a staring match with his newly acquired charge and a bulb seemed to visibly light up. "Anyway, you guys finish catching up, and I'll terrorize you later. Watch her for me."
Fuji thought it over but decided to sidestep it. "Sorry Eiji, I have to go home soon." Eiji had been gesticulating over-dramatically how mean Fuji was and how they still had a lot of things to talk about when Fuji bowed low to excuse himself. "I still need to pack, idiot." When that had appeased Eiji, he got the details for their plans, bade their good byes and left with a promise of tomorrow.
Tezuka remained seated in the table outside a coffee shop. Their tab had long been paid for; his coffee had gone cold as well as Yukio's lunch. The little devil came running to him in what he knew to be his angry countenance. He braced himself and made a list of all the possibilities on why his cousin was in a bad mood.
The boy took his seat and stated with vehemence and vexation, "I hate him!"
Fixing his glasses, Tezuka questioned him tentatively. "Whom exactly?"
Yukio pointed to someone behind him and shouted. "This Niisan! He followed Yukio all the way here."
Fuji took the only seat available and sat between the cousins. "I did not. We just happened to take the same way, little boy."
Tezuka had not been aware of him in the short exchange he had with his cousin. He downed what was left of his coffee and nearly spat it out with Fuji's next statement. "You've got a pretty spoiled son here Tezuka, but he's a spitting image."
"I'm not spoiled. You weren't holding pochi correctly!"
Fuji chuckled at the situation, took Yukio's fork and fed him the spaghetti he left for dead hours ago. "Eat your food." He returned his gaze to his former captain, and the pretense of humor was wiped away from his face. Clasping his hands on the table, he queried his former captain in hushed tones. "You're not following me are you, Tezuka-san?"
In the many things Tezuka had been able to list as to what happened to Yukio, meeting Fuji was not eliminated since the world was too small for his liking, but not this. He swallowed hard and felt the blood drain from his face. "Is there any reason why I would be?"
"I'm the one asking questions here. Not you." Cold, curt and cutting.
"No, Fuji. I'm not." At once, Fuji was up and about, patting him on the back and giving him an apology. Hesitating from whatever it was he had meant to say, he left just as quickly as he came.
"I don't like him." Yukio said again, eating the last of his noodles.
Tezuka felt a headache coming on and wanted to demand from anyone a plausible explanation. "Well, Yukio, anyone who loves him feels the same. It's normal." Seeing Yukio finish, Tezuka gathered their things and held Yukio close to his chest. The boy was complaining, but he didn't want to risk having him missing again for more than an hour with merely a promise to come back.
Someone walked briskly past them, bumping into Tezuka. The things in the pack spilled out, and Yukio fell from his grip but managed to land fine. Cracking an eye open, Yukio recognized the stranger. "Ah! He's the man who kicked pochi!" He stood and without delay started running after him.
"YUKIO!" Tezuka felt the urge to breathe out a curse. He grabbed at everything on the floor, stuffed it in the bag, slung it onto his shoulder and ran after them. Pulling alongside the boy, Tezuka scooped him up and continued their pursuit of the man. If his instincts were proving to be true he did not want this person reaching his destination with every opportunity laid at his feet. His cousin's presence though was proving to be a nuisance. Fuji's relations had suddenly become more complicated than he originally understood it to be.
It was four in the afternoon and the sidewalks were beginning to get congested as the day came to a close. In the fringe of his vision he could still see Fuji. That he didn't know whether to be good or bad. He could hear Yukio saying sorry, and at any other situation he would have taken a breather just to scold him. The stranger was drawing nearer to Fuji, and of all the inane things to do, Fuji veered to the left and out of his line of sight in the following corner. Almost instantaneously, the man took a left in a different alley. He passed the alley the other took and recognized it as one of the shortcuts to Shinjuku. Running faster, he reached the corner and turned left. He stopped himself before he could have another collision.
" Fuji," He gave a sigh of relief and that sinking feeling subsided until he felt the same presence of that strange person come back. Seeing the pedestrian light flicker and switch to green from the corner of his eye, he juggled Yukio to his right arm and tugged at Fuji with his left.
"Tezuka! Where are you taking me? Stop it!"
Breathless, he could barely answer him. "Just keep running and trust me!" Going through the streets in a round-about manner, they kept going at it until they reached the residential area. Even then they didn't stop to catch their bearings until they were in front of the Fuji household. Using the walls for support, they took in big gulps of air and regarded each other. Tezuka slunk to the ground and laid the sleeping Yukio across his lap.
Fuji closed his eyes listening carefully to his heartbeat. Once it slowed to its normal pace, he kneeled close to Tezuka and gestured to his house. "Mind explaining it to me?"
Tezuka graced him with a lopsided smile. This would probably put him on slightly bad terms with Fuji later on, but he'll have to risk it. Yuuta never asked him to do what he did anyway. "With a glass of water, some dinner and two beds for the night, gladly."
"Demanding aren't we?"
Tezuka grunted in response and left Fuji's supposedly genius IQ to decipher what it meant. Heaving his charge carefully, he rose and trailed after the brunette. So much for smooth sailing.
End Chapter 6
1) /Emperor's Birthday -/Dec 23 is the present emperor's, Akihito-sama's birthday. It is spent as a national holiday. When I wrote this story I based the timeline off the 2005 calendar and it hit a Friday. So it means they have a really long weekend to spend with important people. Christmas is not a national holiday. On the other hand more and more people like to celebrate it with family and significant others. It's the ploy of malls and production companies.
2) /Asahi - /One of the main papers in Japan.
3) /Tennis idiot - culture notes - /I realized that in America saying tennis idiot means knowing nothing about tennis, but in Japan it means knowing nothing BUT Tennis.
4) /Kikumaru Akira - /I don't know the names of any of Eiji's family no matter how I researched. I'm to lazy to re-read the whole of PoT again so I just stuck with one of the more common names they give his brother. Please tell me if you do know otherwise. He still has 1 brother more and 2 sisters.
As always c&c is greatly appreciated, but reviewing would really make my day.