Author note: I don't own Yakitate! Japan. Nor do I own Tyler Ward's cover of the song "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa that inspired this fic a bit.
This is the second part in a trilogy of three fics. If you haven't read "Insecurities," it might be good to read that one first before reading this one. XD
Warning: Post-manga/anime, takes place 8-ish years after "Insecurities" (so there will be slight spoilers for that fic)
I hope that you read, review and enjoy! XD
See You Again
Summary: Post-manga/anime. Kuroyanagi visits three people from the past, having not seen them in approximately eight or nine years since Azuma saved the world, and learns (and, in a way, teaches) a little something from the experiences that people are stronger than they realize.
Had it really been eight or nine years since everyone split off to go do their own things? Ryou Kuroyanagi wanted to see some old friends again, meet with them again. He couldn't get everybody together this time, so he figured he'd meet a few people separately. He had Matsushiro, Meister Kirisaki and even Meister's sister to talk to.
And first on his list of visits was Matsushiro himself.
Kuroyanagi took a deep breath as he walked to a warehouse near a port in Tokyo. Matsushiro's gang was hanging around here, last time he heard. Were they still here, or did they move? It was hard to tell with the Afro Gang. But shit—what if they moved locations already? That would be awkward—though not unlikely considering that the Afro Gang was a mafia gang of sorts and therefore could be hunted by police at times.
Maybe what was worse was the possibility that someone would think he was a new recruit and then force him to get an afro. Kuroyanagi shuddered at that possibility.
Thankfully, he didn't have to worry about any of that. As soon as he arrived at the entrance to the hideout, Matsushiro was already out there to greet him with a slap on the back and a "Where have you been?"
The two went inside, and the afro man already had a bunch of alcoholic drinks at the ready.
And so they drank, because why not?
Things went off to a good start. It was just the two of them and they talked about literally anything and everything they could think of. From what they had heard from other past co-workers to how their own lives were going, things were pretty good. Matsushiro was running the Afro gang really well (and, rumor has it, even better than Kanmuri's father ever did) and Kuroyanagi had finished his television show and then proceeded to be a pro food judge for not just food shows in Japan, but even extending as far as America on occasion. It was good, it was fine, and everything seemed so well.
"How's Ryuu Roumen doing?" Kuroyanagi and Ryuu Roumen hadn't really talked, but they'd been at odds with each other at some point (especially during the Pantasia Newcomers Tournament when he broke in, attempted to steal the prize money from Koala (er, Mokoyama) and then broke right out by jumping through a window while they were floors way up from the pavement (and survived somehow). Kuroyanagi chuckled a bit at the memory—it was much funnier now than it was back then. "I imagine he's been crazily making yakisoba as always."
Matsushiro frowned at that. "Er, about that...I guess you haven't heard since you've been going everywhere, right? He..." He chuckled slightly, looking down. "He died in a freak accident last year. In his own kitchen, after restaurant hours. Apparently he was trying to do some wild flambe with the yakisoba or something and, well...the entire place burned down with him."
Roumen and Matsushiro were friends as far as Kuroyanagi knew.
Matsushiro couldn't help but grin, but it was a little on the grim side. "I knew he'd do something crazy—it's just like him, you know. Though I...wasn't expecting him to be gone so soon." He noticed Kuroyanagi's discomfort as he took a swig of his beer. "Hey, hey. I'm okay, really. Roumen wouldn't want me moping around if he died anyway. Besides," He chuckled, "He might not be here with us physically, but we still have the memory of him."
Kuroyanagi nodded, smiling slightly, raising his glass of beer. "A toast to Roumen?"
Matsushiro grinned, genuinely, almost smashing his glass of beer against Kuroyanagi's own, but thankfully didn't. "Yeah. To Roumen." He chuckled after he downed the rest of his beer. "You know, we should get everybody together for a week. We'd get to see everyone again."
Kuroyanagi went inside the apartment building, opting to take the staircase to get to the second floor. It wasn't really worth using an elevator—and there wasn't even an elevator here, anyway. Going through the door and into the hallway of the second floor, he counted the numbers until he found the one he was looking for. Taking a deep breath, he knocked on the door. He wondered why Meister (er, Sylvan, now—he ditched the 'Meister' title after taking over St. Pierre, according to Matsushiro) would live in a smaller building like this. Surely he could afford something more expensive like a condo, but then again Kuroyanagi recalled, when he and Meister were working at Pantasia, that Meister disliked hugely fancy things (except for when he was doing magic tricks—that was basically the only exception) so maybe that was why.
The door opened to see...a little girl? She had to be only seven or eight years old at oldest, and she had fine, blonde hair just like Sylvan, and his blue eyes too, but, well, it was like seeing a girl version of him.
"Who are you?" She asked softly, gazing up at him with her wide blue eyes. "Are you..K-Kuro-ya-nagi..?" She had a slightly difficult time trying to say his name, and Kuroyanagi couldn't help but chuckle at this. Cute kid, really.
"Yes, I am." He responded quietly, keeping a soft smile on his face. He'd never been the greatest with kids, so he tried his best.
"Yay!" She looked into the apartment. "D-daddy! He's here!"
"What!?" Kuroyanagi heard Sylvan nearly yelp, and he couldn't help but chuckle as he heard rustling about, the sound of an oven closing. "Ah, Koemi, let him in. I-I'll be there soon!"
The little girl, with a wide smile on her face, led Kuroyanagi into the apartment, closing the door behind him. As he took off his shoes in the genkan and pointing them towards the exit, he walked into the main area, which was where there was a living room and a kitchen. It was small, but spacious enough for two to three people. Sylvan entered the room just as Koemi led Kuroyanagi to a table to sit him down. Kuroyanagi had to give a double take when looking at Sylvan—he looked a bit paler, less intimidating, and definitely less fanciful with his outfit—a simple buttoned white shirt with jeans.
"Kuroyanagi-kun." Sylvan smiled at him—not one of his teasing smirks from the Pantasia Newcomers' Tournament, but a genuine one, though a little tired-looking. "I'm so glad you can come..." He looked to the kitchen, seeing the small pile of various unclean bowls and such in the sink. "Though, er, apologies for the lack of cleaning. Koemi and I were baking just now and we just put it in the oven."
Kuroyanagi chuckled slightly, looking to the pile in the sink and then to the older man. "It's fine, really." He responded as Sylvan sat down opposite him. "I'm just glad I got to see you again after what? Nearly a decade?"
"Yes..." Sylvan looked to the little girl, smiling at her. "I'm going to talk to Kuroyanagi now, Koemi. We can clean up after it's all done. In the meanwhile, you can go practice your Japanese and English."
The little girl nodded, smiling back at him. "Okay, daddy!" She scampered towards where Kuroyanagi assumed was the bedroom, before closing the door behind her.
Kuroyanagi couldn't help but smile a bit. "She's a cute kid."
Sylvan chuckled slightly. "Yes, she is..." He then frowned, looking up at Kuroyanagi. "I'm sorry I haven't been emailing you at all, for the past eight or so years."
Kuroyanagi looked to him. "No, it's fine..."
"It's not." Sylvan shook his head, making complete eye contact with him. All traces of joy from earlier vanished at once. "The first person I should have told you about this was...you. But I didn't."
The younger man stared. "What is 'this' that you're referring to?"
He noticed an immediate shift in the older man's expression, from the calm, warmth to a more somber one.
"You probably don't know, do you? I'm not surprised." The older man's breath hitched slightly as he spoke. "The reason I haven't answered your emails lately is because...well, I've been busy. Very busy. Not just with managing my own livelihood and St. Pierre, but...caring for my child." He looked to the door the young child (Koemi, that was her name, Kuroyanagi remembered from overhearing just now) had went through.
Oh. It all clicked together now.
"She's your child?" He managed, head snapping back to look to Sylvan, then looked to the door again. No wonder that child looked a lot like Kirisaki...
Sylvan nodded, looking to the door also before looking to Kuroyanagi, certainty in his eyes. "Yes. She is my child, and as you heard earlier, her name is Koemi—if I'm recalling correctly, it means 'Little laugh.' Because she brings happiness to me whenever I see her smiling or laughing happily. "
He seemed to smile at this, but his eyes looked saddened. Kuroyanagi took notice and he couldn't help but sputter out something.
"H-how did you have a child...?"
It might have sounded stupid, but he never took Meister, no, Sylvan to be the parental type—especially with the whole childhood trauma that heavily involved his father Anything like that would have surely scared him into not having children, right...?
Sylvan looked up at him, biting his lower lip. "Well, after everyone separated, I did my best to get adjusted to my job as the new owner of St. Pierre. It wasn't easy, but I managed it. But after that, life just—" He shook his head a little. "It just got lonely. Yes, I visited my father often and kept in touch with Sophie, but keeping in touch with everyone else was nearly impossible—even keeping in touch with you was nearly impossible. It's not your fault—I know you were busy. Everyone was busy." He looked down a bit, then looked right up at him. "Eventually I just couldn't handle it one night, a year after everyone had split up, and so I actually went to a bar. And drank myself stupid."
Kuroyanagi nodded slowly, still listening. He was having an idea as of where this was going, and he was pretty sure it wasn't good.
"I got drunk so easily I had no idea what was going on next. The next thing I really knew was waking up next to a woman I did not know." He chuckled, but it was grim. "There were broken condoms and clothes on the floor and I was naked, Kuroyanagi. I don't even know which one of us actually initiated the sex. Eventually she woke up, too, and we both panicked. She took contraceptive medicine, but...it didn't work. She became pregnant with my child."
So that was what happened. Kuroyanagi could tell from the older man's expression that he regretted it. That he regretted ever getting drunk and all that night.
"Naturally, her family was enraged. She was actually also supposed to be engaged to someone else and their wedding was in approximately a year." Sylvan looked like he was having it rough, but he held it together. "They wanted to abort the child, but I couldn't let that happen. I couldn't let them just...kill my child. So I approached them right away as soon as I heard of the parents' plans to abort the child, and I told them this: 'I will keep sole custody of the child if you don't abort her or him. You don't have to mention her or him in your will, or anything like that. I myself will take care of the child. It's my fault that your daughter is pregnant, and I am willing to own up to my error."
Kuroyanagi couldn't stop himself from wincing. "What did they say?"
The older man bit his lower lip. "They agreed immediately. Papers were written and figured out, and as soon as Koemi was born, I took her home and began my life as not just the owner of St. Pierre, but also the life of a single parent. A single father." A sad laugh escaped him. "Of course, my father was disappointed. Same went for my sister. They're not proud I got myself drunk and got a woman whose face I can't remember pregnant. No one would be. At least they're pleased that I owned up to the error instead of running away. I'm tired of running away, but I'm tired of having to fight so much. I don't—I don't want to end up as bad as my father did back then—even if he was under that evil influence, still."
The older man looked down. "...Sophie barely even emails me anymore, too. The only time she really does is for the sake of work-related things. We don't talk casually too much anymore."
So even his own family had been that ashamed of him for all of this.
Kuroyanagi frowned. The Sylvan Kirisaki sitting in front of him was a shell of Meister Kirisaki eight years ago. He'd changed so much.
But in replacement for the shell of 'Meister Kirisaki' was 'Sylvan Kirisaki,' the real him inside. Meister, er, Sylvan had never liked being vulnerable as far as Kuroyanagi could figure, though it appeared that this newfound parenthood (as well as the shame that came with it) changed him that much to the point that he had to force himself to get through this new vulnerability and shame he acquired. He now seemed so small, so weary, just wishing to throw up that white flag and surrender to all the pressure around him.
But...despite the sadness, Kuroyanagi felt like he could see something else in the older man's eyes. Something different than the last time he saw him. A determination, a will to keep fighting rose in Kirisaki's eyes and Kuroyanagi couldn't help but feel that maybe Sylvan would be okay despite all of that. It would take time, but it would be okay. Hopefully.
Kuroyanagi gently held one of Sylvan's hands in his own. "I know that you're tired." He stated quietly. "I can't imagine how alienated you feel, and I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you when you needed it. But as far as I'm seeing it right now—Sylvan, you're not your father." He squeezed Kirisaki's hand. "You're you. And I know you—you're one of the most kind-hearted and responsible people I know. I know you can be a good father."
Sylvan chuckled, squeezing Kuroyanagi's hand in return. "You know," He spoke up, "What you just said. Reminds me of Monica."
The younger man blinked. "You've spoken to her?"
"Telephone. It was the night just after I found out the mother was pregnant with my child. I had to talk to someone, and I knew at the time you would be at work, so I had to call her." Sylvan managed. "She said the same thing. That I wasn't my father." He smiled a bit at that, gazing up at Kuroyanagi. "Only she and Suwabara-san know, other than Matsushiro-san and my family. And you know now, too. I haven't told anyone else at all about it yet."
Kuroyanagi looked to Sylvan, gazing into his eyes.
"Will you ever tell anyone else? Like, our co-workers, provided they keep a secret? They'll have to know at some point."
Sylvan nodded slowly. A faint smile appeared on his face.
Perhaps seeing Sophie was a bit weird. But they did have a lot of time to talk during the Monaco Cup, and they were kind of friends in a way. So why not talk to her too? Unfortunately, since she was in France and he was in Japan, they had to talk through computer screens and not in person.
"My brother called me. Said you went to visit him." Sophie held up her cellphone with a hand, before putting it in her jeans pocket. She didn't look like she'd aged much. Eight years hadn't done much to her. She her hair short as always and looked in great shape. Unlike Matsushiro and her brother, she didn't seem too bad.
"Yeah," Kuroyanagi couldn't help but put his hands in his pockets, he did it whenever he was uncomfortable with things, "I did."
She sighed, sipping a mug full of tea. "So you know about his child then."
Her words sounded a bit bitter. Kuroyanagi wondered what sort of hard discussions she had with her brother since finding out he had—has—a child out of drunken sex with a stranger.
"Yes," Kuroyanagi responded. "I know." He frowned. "And I know for a fact that you haven't been really contacting him ever since you found out about his kid. Have you ever met your niece?"
There was an awkward silence as she sipped her mug of tea. "I'm busy." She muttered, looking up at Kuroyanagi through the screen. She was trying to push the subject away. "I'm busy, and I'm trying to reconnect with my father already. Things like this weren't supposed to happen."
She wasn't going to talk about it? Fine. Kuroyanagi knew when to interfere and when not to. Maybe when he was with her in person some other time, then they'd talk about it.
And that was when he had an idea.
"I was thinking..." He took a deep breath. "Maybe we can all spend a week together during the holidays? You know, like what we did at the beach resort Pierrot got us to? It'll be like old times." He tried to smile. "Besides, everyone can catch up."
She smiled at that.
"True. We do have catching up to do." She tried to think. "I probably could fly in for a week. Ugh, being General Manager is hectic, but it's fine."
Kuroyanagi chuckled at that. "I'm sure you could rant about it to your brother. He misses you, you know."
"Yeah. He does. I do too."
There was that tone of voice again. Like she didn't care.
Kuroyanagi wanted to fix that. Somehow, some way. He knew he wasn't exactly supposed to always interfere with personal things like this, but...he didn't like seeing the family so estranged from each other again. And this was for Sylvan's daughter, too—otherwise she might not know her grandfather and aunt too well at all, and Kuroyanagi couldn't imagine that being any good.
"So.." Kuroyanagi looked up at her. "I'll call up Matsushiro. See if we can arrange something. We'll find a way."
"Yeah." She smiled, but it was faint. "See you."
Sophie went offline.
Kuroyanagi sighed, going offline from the chat thing too. He instead went straight to his emails, intent on getting everyone together.
Because seeing three people was not enough to catch up on almost a decade of everyone being so separated from each other.