Title: The Hard Way

Author: Coru (jedically@yahoo.com)

Disclaimer: I own nothing. 'Kay?

Summary: A thought on what MIGHT have happened between Sakai Keiko and her uncle.

Author's Notes: I dunno. Don't ask me where my ideas come from. But no one had written anything on it! Poor Keiko has no stories! This is just supposed to be a little insight into her world, and I probably won't write anymore. Sorry! Oh, ignore the random Japanese. I don't put translations. It just is. If you don't know something, e-mail me and ask about it. Otherwise, enjoy! ^_^ (edited to add: Sorry, formatting got kinda screwy last time. I fixed a couple things and reuploaded it. Hope it looks better now! Thanks Kazuko for mentioning that -_-)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I want this house cleaned with dinner ready before I get back or you'll wish you were never born!" Takamiya Michiko shouted, storming out the front door and slamming it shut behind her.

'Too late.' Her thirteen-year-old daughter thought angrily, glaring at the spot her mother had stood a moment before. She spun on her heel and returned to her bedroom, shutting and locking the door behind her. 'I'm not a slave, why should I take care of the house while she goes off and gets drunk? She'll probably even forget to pick up Uncle Satoshi, and then blame me for it.' She scowled at the wall and thought of calling one of her friends, but her hand froze inches above the phone. 'If I don't do it, I know I'll get whipped. And I probably won't be able to go to the concert next week, because she always searches my room when I piss her off. She'd pawn my tickets for a bottle of sake.'

"Konnichiwa! Michi-chan!" A voice from the living room startled her out of her thoughts.

'Mama no baka! You didn't lock the door!' She backed toward the window, biting her lip. Her mother's boyfriends were NOT the kind of people she wanted to be alone with at night. Or in the middle of the day. Or the early morning.

"Mi-chi-ko! I got on an early plane and came to surprise you! Michiko! Oi, you went out didn't you? Eh...Onee-chan!"

"Eh?" She inched toward her door and opened it a crack. "Satoshi-ojisan?"

"Oi! Keiko-chan! Ehh? This can't be Keiko-chan! Keiko-chan is just a little girl." He winked at her and laughed.

Keiko's eyes widened. 'Mama never mentioned that Satoshi-ojisan is young!' "Ah, hai...Keiko desu."

"No need to hide, Kei-ko-chan!" He grinned at her and gestured into the living room. "Michi went out?"

"Eh...un. Mama's at a-a, I mean...a friends house."

Satoshi sighed and sat on the couch. "Out getting smashed? Sounds like Michi-chan."

"Gomen."

"Not your fault Kei-chan." He shook his head sadly. "Thought she would have gotten over that by now. Mama and Papa hoped raising you would mature her a bit. Guess that's moot."

"Hai..." Keiko stepped out of her room and sat across from her uncle. "Mama...ah...how do I say it..."

"Michi's a flighty idiot?"

"Hai."

"Yeah, I know."

"Anou...how old are you?"

"Twenty." He replied promptly, grinning. "Look younger don't I?"

"Ah...hai. A little."

"Yeah, I know." He sighed, rolling his eyes. "I get carded whenever I try to buy cigarettes. Laws are really pointless, you know that right?"

"Hai hai."

"I wasn't serious!"

"Oh? And here I thought I'd found a kindred spirit." She grinned. "Just kidding, Satoshi-ojisan."

He sweatdropped. "Oi, don't call me that. I feel old. Satoshi works."

"Ah...hai. Satoshi." She blushed and nodded. "Gomen, it feels weird calling an adult by their first name."

"Oi! I never want to hear you call me an adult again, hear?"

She giggled. "Gomen! Hai, Satoshi-akachan."

"Oh great." He rolled his eyes and laughed. "Now I'm a baby?"

"Well, you didn't want to be an adult." She grinned. "All that's left is baby or teenager!"

"I choose teenager! That's the best time you know."

"Eh? Really? I haven't noticed." She frowned and slouched. "Being a teenager is awful. I can't wait until I'm old enough to move out."

"That's just cause Michi is an idiot." Satoshi reminded her. "The rest of being a teenager isn't so bad is it? You see your friends everyday, you're around tons of hot girls, and there's PE WITH the hot girls...whoa, sorry, lost myself there. Where was I?"

Keiko covered her mouth trying to smother her giggles. "You're funny Satoshi!"

"Yep, that's me. Takamiya Satoshi, comic actor! Hopefully I'll someday be on TV!" He stood and bowed, grinning. "You'd watch, ne Keiko-chan?"

"Hai hai! You'd be good on TV!"

"I WOULD wouldn't I? Oi, when do you think Michi'll be back?"

"Um...Thursday?"

"...it's Sunday."

"You're right. Probably Friday." She grinned. "I don't really know, it could be anytime, depending on how drunk she gets. Probably sometimes between midnight tonight and noon tomorrow."

"So...if we go out and leave a note, think she'll still go ballistic?"

"Probably."

"Ah...better question, how much do you care?"

"That is a good question. Not at all." She grinned and grabbed her jacket. "There's a movie theater not far from here!"

"Great! Let's go then shorty girl!"

"Oi!" She chased after him, waving her fist.

Two weeks later:

Keiko grinned and nodded. "Hai hai, Mama told me about that!"

"...I was FIVE okay! I didn't KNOW that colored lightbulbs were flavorless!"

"Even *I* knew that at five! I stopped putting strange things in my mouth by the time I was three!"

"Aren't *you* the mature one then?" He grinned and nudged her.

"Hai." She nodded, the lighthearted mood suddenly vanishing. "Most of my classmates just think about getting nice clothes or new shoes, but it's silly. I had to get a part-time job a long time ago, and most of them haven't worked a day in their lives."

"Keiko..." He sighed and took her hand. "Keiko, I'm sorry about Michi...how she acts. She was like this when we were kids too. Nothing matters to her but Michi, and Michi's happiness. Keiko is in there too, but it doesn't show up often. She loves you, in her own, neglectful way."

"I don't care." Keiko pulled her hand loose and started walking back toward the apartment. "I stopped caring what Mama thought of me a long time ago. A person like her isn't someone I want to love me. I want good people around me, like Satoshi. Mama...Mama could die, and I wouldn't care!" She exclaimed, meeting his eyes fiercely. "I hate her!"

"Keiko." Satoshi stopped and stared at her. "Keiko-chan, Michi-"

"I DON'T CARE!" Tears welled up in her eyes. "Don't you get it? I DON'T CARE about her! She can jump off Tokyo Tower, it doesn't matter to me! She's never been a mother to me! She doesn't care as long as what she wants done happens, the rest of the time I could be dead and it wouldn't matter! Once, when I was seven I ran away for three days and she didn't know I was gone until my friend came and asked why I hadn't gone to school!"

"Keiko!" He looked up at the sky and cursed under his breath. "Michiko no baka." He muttered. "Ne, Keiko...lets go home."

Keiko bit her lip and looked away, walking ahead forcefully.

"You don't really hate Michi, do you Keiko?" He asked quietly, coming up behind her.

"No." She replied in the same tone. "I get mad at her. She makes stupid mistakes. She's irresponsible."

"Yeah." He sighed. "You know...once, when I was really young, Michi lost me. She was watching me while Mama went to visit our grandmother in the hospital, and Michi took me to the store. She left me there and didn't notice until the police brought me home that night."

"Sounds like Mama." She pursed her lips and increased her speed. "Oh, she's staying at Motoki's tonight." She informed him tensely. "She said she'll be home tomorrow. It's his birthday."

"Ah."

The rest of the walk home was silent.

Six Months Later:

"Keiko-chan, let's watch a movie." Satoshi whined, pulling lightly on one of her braids.

"Find one." Keiko replied, not looking up from the science book in her lap.

"I'm not good at that. You get one."

"Fine. Pick the one on the bottom of the stack, and we'll watch whatever it is." Keiko proposed diplomatically, her eyes still on pages before her.

"Okay." Satoshi stood up and went to the VCR. "Eh? This is a chick-flick!"

"You agreed, put it in." Keiko commanded, looking up and smirking at him.

"But-"

"No buts." She grinned and set aside her book. "Movie time!" She looked at the video in his hand. "Ah! Jane Eyre! That's one of my favorites! Ahh...I want to live in America..."

Satoshi grumbled under his breath but put the movie in and sat next to Keiko on the sofa.

Two hours later she was half-asleep, snuggled up next to him. "Romantic..." She whispered as the credits rolled. "Ne, Satoshi?"

He made a great show of yawning and looking bored.

"Oh, you." She sat up and hit him in the shoulder. "You don't like anything good!"

"I like plenty that's good, just nothing that YOU agree with." He grinned.

"Well, since my opinion is the only one that REALLY matters, you don't like anything good." She yawned and leaned back down on him. "Sleepy."

"Hey, don't fall asleep!"

"You're comfy."

"Come on now..." He pushed her up off his chest and shook her slightly. "No sleeping! Unless you're going to bed."

She shook her head and smiled sleepily. "No, not that tired."

"Mmm...you sure?" He looked down at her and stopped, realizing suddenly just how close she was to him.

She looked up and nodded. "Yeah..." The same thought seemed to occur to her, but she didn't stop moving. She in fact leaned up and kissed him. And for some insane reason, he kissed her back.

Satoshi woke suddenly, sitting up quickly and looking down in horror. Next to him on the bed was sleeping form of Keiko-no, his NIECE, Keiko. Shit, what had he just done?

"Keiko-chan." He whispered, touching her face gently. She was only thirteen-fucking-years old. He was a cradle robber. An INCESTUOUS cradle robber at that! Oh gods, he was sick. He gently and silently disentangled himself from her and climbed out of the bed, dressing as quickly as he could without waking her.

"I'm sorry." He whispered at the unconscious outline of his niece. "I'm so sorry Keiko." He scribbled a quick note on her desk and put it on the bed beside her. Hopefully she would find it before Michiko got home.

Within minutes he had his things packed and was out the door, determined never to see the little girl who's virginity he'd just stolen. By the gods, he didn't deserve to be called a man.

Keiko stretched languidly, smiling unconsciously. Her fingers encountered paper. It took a moment to register that there should have been something else in the bed as well. Her eyes snapped open and she sat up, looking wildly around the room. 'What did I *DO*?' She thought desperately. The note again caught her attention and she read it hesitantly. She glared at it after reading it. It didn't sound like him. It sounded like the boring, macho pontificating that all the other men in Japan did. 'I'm sorry for impeaching your honor, blah blah blah. Shouldn't have happened, blahdy blah, leaving right away, never coming back, blah. Blah. Blah.' 'Coward. Idiot! Screw him!' She though, throwing off her blankets and dressing quickly. 'I can't believe I SLEPT with him! Oh GOD, my uncle! If Mama ever finds out...she won't.' She thought firmly. 'No one will EVER know. Ever.' Her lower lip trembled suddenly. She never intended for things to happen like this! She curled up in the corner of her bed, weeping softly into her blankets.

~*~ Twelve Years Later ~*~

"Ah, a new book by Kurata Misako is coming out!" Kitajima Miyoko pointed to a sign excitedly. "I love her first book! Ah, it's about her daughter, Sana-chan! Mariko-chan is a fan, right?"

"Mmmhmm." Keiko smiled and nodded. "Mariko LOVES Sana-chan. She watches Kodomo No Omocha every day!" She giggled. "She's so adorable."

"Ah, motherhood." Miyoko grinned and laughed. "I'm glad I'm not a mother! How awful! I am NEVER having children."

"Ahh, you'll think differently when you find the right man!" Keiko chided as they walked away, making a mental note to pick up 'My Daughter and I' first thing tomorrow morning.

~*~*~*~*~*~ Finis. ~*~*~*~*~*~