A/N: I haven't read the 'Full Moon' manga, I've only seen the anime, so I don't know if there's an actual background story for Izumi which explains why he behaved the way he did as a shinigami. I decided to create a background that would explain why he was so mean to Mitsuki, Takuto, and Meroko, and why he appeared to dislike music and distrust the idea of love or self-sacrifice. Brace yourself, Izumi is about to be put through the emotional wringer!
(Tokyo, Japan 1963)
Izumi had the prettiest mother in the whole world. Momma had hair the color of the sun, and blue eyes like Izumi's favorite marble, clear cerulean that looked like crystal. All of Izumi's friends' mothers had brown eyes, but then Izumi's mom wasn't Japanese like they were.
Momma stood out in a crowd. Men would stare when she walked by.
At home, Momma filled the house with music, and not Japanese music either. She'd brought records from America, and every few months her friends back there would send her more in the mail. Izumi grew up to the sounds of the Ronetes, the Chiffons, the Beach Boys, and Elvis. Momma was determined not to "fall behind the times" as she put it.
Sometimes even the expensive stereo system Father bought her couldn't drown out their arguments. Izumi listened to one of their worst ones with Little Peggy March singing "I love him, I love him, I love him, and where he goes I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow" in the background. Why couldn't life be the way it was in songs?
"You lied to me! You said we'd only be here a year or two and then we'd go home. It's been five years already and I'm sick of this place. I want to go home to New York."
Izumi's mom was screaming at his dad again. He looked up from where he was playing with his sister on the floor of the family room. Karen was two years old; that was six whole years younger than Izumi. That meant he had to look out for her.
Karen's head swiveled towards her mother's voice, and she gazed across the hallway to the half closed shoji screen, the one that led to their parents' room. That was the room where the screaming was coming from. Karen squeezed her Raggedy-Ann doll and began to whimper, her big blue eyes filling with tears. Karen hated it when Momma yelled.
Izumi took his sister by the hand and pulled her over to the window across the room and away from his mother's shrill, unhappy voice. The window looked out on the little central courtyard of their house, with its midget cherry tree and koi pond.
"Look Karen, look at the fish jumping. Maybe we can feed them later."
"Don't want to," Karen mumbled quaveringly.
Momma's voice still reached them. "You keep saying that, but what about me? Don't you care how I feel, or is your job more important than I am?" she cried out in that hard, angry tone she always used when she got like this.
Usually Izumi couldn't make out his father's responses. Father rarely yelled. Father was a businessman, half American and half Japanese. He passed in both worlds, but was far more comfortable behaving like the rest of the Japanese businessmen who came to their house sometimes to drop off papers or to share a meal. Father's voice was usually a low, quiet rumble, but this time he yelled back.
"Don't you understand I'm working this hard for you? Here is where I've a chance to get promoted, here in Japan. If we go back I'll never be promoted, and I'll never make enough to afford a house like this back home. You want so much, Monica. For God's sake, have you seen your last shopping bill?"
"What else am I supposed to do around here? I hate Japan. You're never around, and when you are you never want to go out and if we do you just end up glaring at anyone who pays me any attention."
"Not everyone." Father's words were quieter this time, but Izumi heard them.
There was a silence, then his mother's voice came again, low and vindictive. "So you're going to throw that in my face again? How dare you? How dare you, when you left for six months for that stupid executive training course? What was I supposed to do while you were gone? Learn flower arranging and tea ceremonies so you could come back to a proper little geisha girl? Well I'm not some porcelain doll like your grandma was. I'm a woman. I have needs, and if I can't get them from you…."
Izumi jumped as he heard his father's hand smack down on the desk in their room. It was something his father did only when he was very angry.
Momma laughed goadingly. "So what are you going to do now? Hit me? Wouldn't that violate that crummy little samurai code of yours?"
Izumi winced. His father took his honor very seriously. The longest conversation they'd ever had was the time Father explained bushido, the samurai code of honor to him, and told him that their family had once been samurai.
It wasn't a surprise to hear his father storm out of the house. Izumi knew he wouldn't come back until late, and when he did he'd probably be very drunk.
Karen let out another whimper as the front door slammed.
"Don't cry," Izumi said.
Karen didn't listen. Karen was a baby and didn't know any better, but Izumi knew his mother hated crying, so he knelt and wrapped his arms around his sister and gave her a hug. "It's going to be alright. You'll see," he muttered against her golden hair.
Karen looked a lot like their mother with her pale white skin, big startlingly blue eyes, and yellow hair. Izumi also had his mother's hair, it just wasn't as thick. From his father he'd inherited his brown, almond shaped eyes, and a touch of golden tan in his skin tone. Mother was all rounded curves like Marilyn Monroe, but Izumi was thin. Even Karen at age two looked more solid than he did.
Momma screamed a bad word after father, then stormed out as well. Izumi patted Karen awkwardly on the back and waited for Mrs. Iwata, their housekeeper, to come out of the kitchen where she always hid whenever there was a fight. It looked like he and Mrs. Iwata would have to feed Karen, and put her to bed again.
Izumi hugged his sister and saw another fish leap, the impact of its landing roiling the surface of the pond. One fish, like one harsh word, creating a ripple effect that continued long after its cause was gone.
Izumi tugged at his mother's hand. He hated taking the train. Looking up at all those legs and torsos above him made him feel small. Momma was taking the train more often lately to go shopping, and always at the same time of day.
He sighed and shuffled out of the compartment behind her when the train doors opened. As they walked, Izumi leaned back and made a face at Karen behind his mother's back. She was leaning her head back as well, while holding firmly to momma's other hand. It was a longstanding practice they had which always made Karen giggle.
A sharp tug on Izumi's hand reminded him that Momma wasn't amused by it. She was wearing her best red coat, the one with the big buttons, and she paused by the station entrance like she always did. Izumi knew better than to complain by now. Mother would wait several minutes then walk on when she was ready.
A group of businessmen, American, not Japanese, came flooding into the station.
"Hello, stranger." Momma's voice rang out, low and laughing. Izumi glanced up in surprise to see that she'd greeted one of the Americans, a man with light brown hair and grey-blue eyes, wearing a blue suit. The man's eyes lit up as he came to a stop in front of them, letting the other Americans go on without him.
"Monica. It's been a long time." The man's voice was warm, friendly. Izumi swung Momma's hand gently to show that he approved, but she was too busy looking at the man to notice.
"I heard you were back in town again, David. So how is the world of international law?"
"Dull, but successful. It's been two years hasn't it?"
"More." Momma smiled and released her grip on Izumi and Karen's hands in order to place her hands on top of their heads instead. "These are my children, Izumi Junior and Karen."
Izumi felt the man's gaze drop to him, so he peeked up at the man from under his bangs.
"Hello, Izumi. You were a lot shorter when I saw you last at one of your mom and dad's dinner parties. How have you been?"
"Very good, thank you," Izumi answered politely in English. Mrs. Iwata always spoke Japanese to him when Momma wasn't around, and he had to speak it in school, but Momma refused to speak anything but English at home, so he knew English too.
The man, David, switched his gaze across Izumi's mother to where Karen was clinging to her leg and peering out shyly from behind the folds of her red coat. "So this is…?"
"This is Karen," Momma supplied. "She just turned two last month. She was three weeks overdue."
"Two?" The breath whooshed out of the man. Izumi wondered what was wrong with him. His mouth opened then closed again before he went on. "Then Karen is…"
Momma stepped forward and put her fingers lightly on the man's lips for a moment.
She gave him a long look. So long, that Izumi began to fidget. "We'll talk later. You're staying at the Imperial Hotel again?"
The man nodded. "Until I can find an apartment, but I'm not going to be here that long this time…" he trailed off dazedly.
The man was staring at Karen, and it made Izumi uncomfortable. He grabbed Momma's hand and began to swing it. She didn't look at him, squeeze his hand, or acknowledge him in any way, but she grabbed Karen's hand and took a step backward.
"I'll call you," she said to the man, and took another step back, then another, until at last she had to turn around in order to leave the station.
Izumi glanced back and saw the man staring after them, until the crowds closed in around and he was lost to sight.
Momma came home agitated. Her blonde hair was coming out of its French twist, and little tendrils were clinging to her neck. Her lipstick had smeared a little. Izumi wanted to laugh, but didn't dare. He didn't like the look in Momma's eyes.
"Pack your things, we're leaving!" she said, and went into her bedroom where Izumi could hear her pulling open drawers.
Izumi turned from where he'd been watching the fish in the big fish tank by the front hallway and stared. Leaving? Leaving where? There weren't any school vacations coming up.
Mrs. Iwata came to the kitchen doorway, dishtowel in hand and exchanged a look with Izumi before venturing into Momma's room.
"I'm leaving. Help Izumi and Karen get packed." Momma's voice came strongly into the hallway.
Mrs. Iwata's voice was softer, remonstrating, but Momma couldn't be reasoned with, not when she was in this sort of mood.
"I gave you an order, now just do it!"
Defeated, Mrs. Iwata came out of the room, shoulders slumped and eyes worried.
"Izumi-chan, go to your room and get your suitcase out from under your bed."
Izumi felt his stomach clench. Something was wrong about this. "Why?"
Mrs. Iwata's face creased into a nervous smile. "You're going on a little trip with your mommy. Don't worry, it'll be alright. Now go."
He began to walk backward down the hallway towards his room, keeping his eyes on Mrs. Iwata's worried face.
"What about Karen?" He winced as a particularly loud slamming noise came from his mother's room. She wasn't that hard on furniture unless she was annoyed. When Momma was angry, life was not good.
Jumping as well at the noise, Mrs. Iwata tried to smile again. "Karen is napping. I'll pack for her. I just have to make a phone call first."
Izumi's eyes got big. Mrs. Iwata hated the telephone. Momma always said Mrs. Iwata hated anything modern, and would have washed clothes in the river if Momma didn't make her use the nice electric washing machine she'd bought her first year in Japan. If Mrs. Iwata was willing to use the telephone, something was seriously wrong.
Turning wordlessly, Izumi made his way to his room, pulled out his suitcase, and began to pack. When he was finished, he dragged the suitcase out into the hall and stood by the fish tank.
Momma was still packing, muttering furiously. From the open shoji screen that led to Karen's room, Izumi could hear his sister's sleepy inquiries as Mrs. Iwata woke her and got her ready to leave.
The fish in the tank swam lazily around, as if nothing was wrong. Izumi and Karen wanted a dog, but Momma said dogs were messy, so Father bought a fish tank instead. It was a big one, and it sat on a low stand on the floor. Izumi knelt by it and lay his forehead against the cool glass.
The front door opened. It was Father. There were water droplets on the shoulders of his business suit. He'd gone out without his umbrella in the rain. Father never did that.
Father's eyes, hard and angry, swept over Izumi, dismissed him and turned toward the bedroom.
Momma must have heard the door open as well, because she came out of the bedroom, suitcase in hand, her best hat on her head.
They stared at each other for a moment, then the arguments began.
"What do you think you're doing, Monica?"
Momma's face got hard and set. "I should think that's obvious. I'm leaving you, and I'm taking the children with me."
"No you're not." Father let the door fall shut behind him and took a step forward. "You are not taking my children away."
Momma laughed. It was an ugly laugh, and it didn't sound happy at all. Izumi shuddered and stayed still. If he didn't move, maybe this wouldn't be happening. If he moved, Momma would be even angrier, so he stayed frozen, slumped against the fish tank.
"Yes, my children." Father's glance snaked over Izumi then swept up the hall. "Where is Karen? Karen!"
Mrs. Iwata came to Karen's doorway, holding her hand. Izumi's sister was blinking and whimpering, clutching Mrs. Iwata's hand as if it were a lifeline.
Momma saw, and frowned. Leaving her suitcase in the bedroom doorway, she marched down the hall and grabbed Karen's hand away from Mrs. Iwata's.
"Come on, Karen, we're leaving," she huffed, and marched back down the hall, dragging Karen with her. Karen was running to keep up. They stopped, they had to, when Father stepped into the middle of the hallway to block their way.
"You are not taking my daughter away from me." Father told her.
A truly ugly smile came over Momma's face. "She's not your daughter. She's mine. Mine and David's."
What did Momma mean? How could Karen not belong to Father? If Karen didn't belong to father, then did that mean that Izumi didn't too? Izumi felt like the time he'd gone on a carnival ride and thrown up afterwards. It was like the floor was tilting under him, even though he knew it wasn't.
His cheeks were wet, and he didn't even realize he'd started crying until just then. He looked at Father and saw that Father's world had shattered too.
"What did you say?" Father whispered.
"You heard me." Momma's lip curled up in a sneer. "Karen isn't your child. She wasn't early, she was late. That little reconciliation of ours was just a little too late, or did you never notice that she's nothing like you?"
Father staggered a few steps back, his eyes on Karen as if he'd never seen her before. Karen whimpered and hid her face in Momma's skirt. Momma just stood there, angry triumph shining in her eyes. She knew she'd won.
"Come on, Karen, Izumi, let's go." Momma started pulling Karen past Father to where Izumi sat by the tank. "You can send our things later. We'll be at David's hotel, The Imperial."
Father reached out and put his hand on Izumi's shoulder. He grabbed him so hard that it hurt, but Izumi didn't cry out. Good boys never cry. Momma told him that. "You're not taking Izumi. Izumi stays."
Mother snarled, then seemed to consider. Her face smoothed out. "Fine then. Keep what's yours. Keep this too, if you like."
She released Karen's hand so she could pull off her wedding ring and offer it to Father.
Father just stared at it.
Momma's face got angry again. She clenched her fist around the ring, then threw it violently away. Izumi heard it hit the glass edge of the fish tank and then make a splash as it sank to the bottom.
Momma grabbed Karen's hand again and pulled her out the front door.
Father released his grip on Izumi's shoulder and walked down the hall like an old man, as if each step hurt. He got to the shoji screen leading to his office, opened it, and disappeared within. Izumi heard him open a drawer, then heard the clink of glass on glass. Father was drinking again. Mrs. Iwata went timidly to the office doorway, but father yelled at her to go away, to leave the house.
Izumi jumped. Father had never yelled at Mrs. Iwata before.
With an apologetic glance at Izumi as she went by, Mrs. Iwata obeyed.
Izumi sat in the hall for a minute after the door closed behind Mrs. Iwata. Except for the intermittent clink of glass on glass coming from Father's office, there wasn't a sound in the house.
He got to his feet and stepped up close to the fish tank. There was the ring, sitting on the fake-looking, tiny blue stones at the bottom of the tank. Izumi wasn't supposed to play with the tank.
He stared at the ring, then pushed his sleeve up and plunged his arm in the water. It was cool, like the glass of the tank. Standing on his tiptoes, he stretched his arm until his fingers touched the blue stones, and felt around until he found the ring. Closing his hand around it, he pulled it out of the water and sank to the floor.
Opening his fingers, he stared at the ring. "Come back, Momma," he whispered to the ring, as if it magically had the power to transport his words to his mother. "I'll be a good boy. I won't cry anymore, just come back, please?"
But Momma didn't hear. Momma never came back.