Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of characters used. All are licensed to their respective owners. I am not making any money through authorship of this fic.
Natsuki Kuga lay on her bed listening to shouting in the next room. Her elder brother and father were having a heated and very rare argument and the yelling was sufficient enough to fill out the empty hallways of their mansion.
"Tate you must understand, this is a necessary union. It was decided before you were born that my eldest son would marry the head of the Fujino corporation's eldest daughter. We have an obligation to fulfil this contract."
"I will not marry because of some obligation! Marriage is a Holy sanctity that must be respected!"
Natsuki was now leaning on the headboard of her bed. The possibility of her getting any more sleep at that point looked whimsical to say the least. In truth, the girl really did feel sorry for her big brother. Although she did think his arguments were getting a tad melodramatic at this point, she knew he had no choice but to argue.
"Father, my heart belongs to someone else!"
"My son… in our world, that doesn't make the tiniest bit of difference. You were born to privilege and as such you must stay true to your obligations."
"I must stay true to my heart."
Both Natsuki and her father cringed at Tate's choice of words. The latter could picture her brother's eyes obligingly tearing up at the most perfect moment and a slow, lonely teardrop flowing down his cheek.
'Geez, where does he get these lines from?,' Natsuki thought feeling a little bothered.
Their father gave an exasperated sigh.
"How could I have raised a daughter in a son and a son in a daughter?"
'Hey what did he just say?'
Natsuki was about to take that as an insult when a short survey of her room overruled her judgment. Her motorcycle helmet, full body leather riding suit and small but very well taken care of collection of powerful handguns all sat in plain view. She knew her father couldn't exactly describe her as the 'feminine' type.
The men outside had taken their arguing to a heated new level…
"I will not marry her!"
"Yes you will!"
"I will not!"
… Which of course left Natsuki wondering if she should try to get her 'I was adopted' theory published…
Suddenly the arguing stopped and Natsuki heard two doors opening and slamming. Unfortunately for our sleepy heroine… one of the doors was the one to her room.
"Natsuki! Sister! Help me!"
"Either you stop talking to me that way Tate or I'm going to cut off the cable and that's bye bye J-dramas for you. Understand?"
Her brother nodded.
"Alright then. So what exactly do you think I can do for you?"
"Make father change his mind."
"I can't. Any other plans?"
"Natsuki, I can't get married to that woman! I haven't met her, don't know anything about her, I don't even know her first name, and besides… I'm head over heels in love with someone else!"
"Yes well. I'll try not to blame you for that. Look Tate, I don't like what's happening here, but father's right. It's your responsibility as the next heir to marry that Fujino. It's the way of the world."
"You wouldn't do it!," Tate whined as he sat down on Natsuki's bed.
"No I wouldn't, also the way of the world. Just marry her ok? It's your obligation."
"I can't. I won't! I'm going to call Mai and we're going to elope! Elope dammit! We're going to elope and move to Fiji!"
Natsuki sighed. She really hated to see her brother suffer like this. But for once in his life, it seemed he was finally showing a bit of backbone.
Even though they were siblings, Tate and Natsuki had lived very different lives. Tate was seen as the heir to their vast fortune and was therefore groomed as one.
Outside their mansion walls he was a prince, immaculate in every way. He always dressed properly, spoke properly and behaved in the proper manner to ensure that he was picture of perfection.
Natsuki on the other hand was more the black sheep, rebel of the family. She preferred to have fun no matter what the consequence and had never let responsibility cloud her 'better' judgement. As she was the second child and not so much in the public view, her father had let her indulge in this lifestyle. He seemed happy enough that at least one of his children could enjoy life with an ounce of normality.
Natsuki carried on thinking about her brother and the things he had to endure before he had his one defining, life-changing moment.
The moment he went and fell in love with one of Natsuki's best friends. Needless to say, it was one of those things that can easily change a person's outlook on the world.
Natsuki sighed and closed her eyes. 'You've had your defining moment Tate and its made you a better person. I guess it's time to face up to mine.'
"Natsuki? You there? Hello? Oh man, you stopped listening to me. I'm not really going to elope, I'm not that way. It's just, I don't feel I have many choices open to me anymore. I know I never did, but with Mai… I just felt free."
"Felt? As in past tense?"
"You can't really feel free once your own father demands that you go and get married to someone you don't love."
Natsuki put her head on her brother's shoulder.
"Tate, you aren't someone to be pitied. Please stop acting as such. Just go into father's room right now and calmly, and without any over dramatic quotes you've picked up from one of your shows, tell him that you are not going to be married to Fujino's heir."
"I did that already."
"No, what you did was whine in a very unbecoming manner. Speak to father like a man and he will treat you as one."
"He won't accept my terms."
"You must have heard our previous conversation… nothing's changed in the last fifteen minutes."
"Yes. They have."
"How? What else can I say to him that will get me out of this mess? How do I get his blessing for my relationship with Mai?"
"You just need to remind him of one thing brother. You are not his only heir."
"No, you can't possibly mean…"
"I've made my choice Tate, don't you try to convince me otherwise, you may just succeed. Besides, it's time I started taking responsibility. My brother has protected me enough times hasn't he? Now it's my turn."
"Tate, if you try and turn this into a tear-jerking, sibling hug moment I swear…," Natsuki stated in a rather threatening manner.
"I get it, I get it," Tate replied.
He made his way to the door before turning and giving her Natsuki on the cheek.
"Natsuki, you really are something else. Thank you for what you're doing for me and just so you know, I love you too," he said as he walked out to face their father.
"Yeah. I know."
Natsuki stretched out on her bed before closing her eyes.
"How in the hell did I become the responsible sibling?"
In a café.
Natsuki had just finished telling her disbelieving cousin the events that transpired from that point onwards such as reporting to her ecstatic father. Apparently it didn't even matter that she was a girl, the written contract with the Fujino's just stated that an heir from each corporation would be wed to the other.
'The world is becoming a more and more complex place by the second,' Natsuki thought. 'Definitely complex as in weird.'
"Wait, wait, wait. So good old uncle Kuga wants you to up and get married?" she suddenly heard someone ask.
She turned her head and found herself looking into the face of her partner in crime.
"No Nao, he wanted Tate to get married. Then Tate ran away."
"No not literally. He just said no."
"And you have to step up to the plate? You of all people? And what do you mean Tate said no? He doesn't know how to use that word! Did you teach him? What the hell for?!"
"Nao calm down, I volunteered for this."
Natsuki's cousin, instead of taking the advice that was offered her just did the exact opposite. The redhead stood up and proceeded to bounce up and down on the spot.
"Calm down? Calm down? No Natsuki, I think this is one of those times when panic is the more acceptable response! Were you drunk at the time?! God, you're the most irresponsible person I know! And your dad actually agreed to this?"
"He has, there was no other choice. It was either lose a son or lend out his daughter I guess. And anyway, I volunteered ok? This isn't being forced on me like it was on Tate."
Nao put on her very rarely seen 'thinking face' before gasping and pointing at her somber cousin.
"I get it now! You were both drunk at the same time! Natsuki, just never drink with your father again ok?"
"I wasn't drunk."
Nao looked even more disbelieving that she did the minute before.
"What kind of idiot agrees to this kind of thing when they're sober?!"
Natsuki sighed. This explanation was not going well.
"People who see the big picture agree to this kind of thing," she said slowly, hoping her cousin would understand better that way.
"There was no other choice in the matter. Either my eldest brother, who has always been there for me is doomed to live an unhappy life forever or our family loses its face. I won't allow either of those scenarios to take place."
"Natsuki, why the hell are you talking like you suddenly grew up? Did you crash your bike? Should I take you to the hospital?"
Nao tried to put her hand up on Natsuki's forehead to feel the girl's temperature, but all she ended up feeling was a slap on the wrist and a glare being thrown her way.
"Stop that Nao, I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do. For my brother and my best friend, this is my choice."
"Look enough of this. Who are you and what have you done with my cousin? This isn't some sort of a favour Natsuki! You're not putting your hand up to be a hero here. You're gonna be martyred!"
"Why is everyone just so melodramatic these days?"
Suddenly the door swung open and Mai, her sister Mikoto and best friends Chie and Aoi entered the café.
Making a beeline for Nao and Natsuki, the three gave the latter their best 'concerned' stares. Mikoto stared at the food.
Natsuki pushed the plate of pastries over to the younger girl who proceeded to devour it's contents at some impressive speed.
"Guys, thank God you're here!" said Nao. "This moron has just agreed to do something drastic!"
"Tate told me, Natsuki! You're doing this just for us! So Tate and I can be together forever!"
"Yes, yes. I expect to at least be named godmother to your first born. Now please, let go of me Mai, I feel like I'm going to suffocate in your… just get off."
"Oh sorry. Anyway Natsuki, are you sure about this? Seriously? You can just run away with Tate and me! We'll all be free together!"
"Mai, does being in love automatically make you stupid? This is not a big deal. I am now the heir to an unimaginably huge corporation and as such, I've got to marry someone who is in the same position as me. That's all there is to it. No more, no less, there's a written agreement."
Suddenly a book was tossed her way and Chie and Aoi both just nodded at her wordlessly. She one look at the cover before handing it over to a curious Nao and proceeding to sit there feeling as if all the people around her had suddenly lost their minds.
"Ten easy ways to work your way out of a nervous breakdown. Thank you, that book will surely be useful the next time I need to start up a bonfire," she said sarcastically.
Nao flipped through the book's pages before handing it back to Natsuki.
"Good book. I approve."
"You're a moron," Natsuki said to her before turning her attention to her cup of coffee and mayonnaise slathered muffin.
Nao looked at her incredulously.
"My God, you think this is some sort of a formality don't you? Natsuki this is marriage! There's a reason Tate refused your father this time, something he has never, ever done before."
"Tate's reason was love. I'm not in love, I have no excuse to hide behind."
"What if she's horrible?"
"She can't be. She's the only daughter of the Fujino's for God's sake. That girl should have the best genes imaginable."
"Well maybe something went wrong. Maybe there's a reason they keep her hidden away. Tate as your father's heir has had a very public life. This Fujino woman hasn't ever been seen before! I bet she's fat," Nao said as a last ditch effort to try and save her unusually responsible-acting cousin from a long and arduous life.
"What? That's just ridiculous, I'm sure someone has seen her before and that she is certainly not fat."
"You know, only child. Kept away from anything dirty or 'yucky' as she probably says. No physical exercise at all. Yep, she's gotta be fat."
Chie caught the look Nao was giving her and decided to add a statement of her own.
"Uh yeah, and she hasn't been seen before right? Must mean private tutors at their estate, and you just know that screams introvert. No social skills at all."
Aoi nodded her head and decided to join the bandwagon.
"Or maybe she never even had tutors. She just sits in her mansion all day eating."
"That's right oh cousin of mine. There she sits eating all day everyday just eating, and what does she live on? A completely mayonnaise free diet! Of course!"
Natsuki's eyes widened.
Nao smirked. 'Sorry Natsuki, but I had to scare the crap out of you before you made a drastic mistake.'
"See Natsuki, you've just signed yourself up to marry a fat, social skill-less, stupid, non-mayonnaise eating heiress," Chie confirmed. "Hey, if you do get married, can Aoi and I do a story on you? It'll be our break-through piece on the human condition!"
"Basically you're screwed Natsuki. You're just screwed," Nao stated.
"She.. can't be that way… Fujino.. can't be.."
"Hey! Maybe that's why they're so desperate to marry her off to Tate! Need to get some good genes back in their pool. Wow, it all makes sense now," Mai said.
"Mayonnaise.. how can she resist…," Natsuki said as if in a trance. "Hey no, wait. I see what you people are doing! You're trying to trick me into changing my mind!"
Even as she said this, Natsuki could feel the shadow of a doubt she had at the back of her head suddenly materialising before her eyes.
"Look, I think I'm just gonna go for a ride ok? Maybe clear my head of all the crap you guys have been trying to shovel in… I'll see you later."
With that, Natsuki briskly left the café and headed off to her motorcycle.
As she rode on her bike Natsuki finally started having backlash reactions to her previous actions.
'Am I really making the right choice? Marriage? Marriage! What the hell was I thinking… wait, must remember what I was thinking, must not doubt, must do this for Tate, must… must have mayonnaise.'
She suddenly turned her bike and parked outside the nearest convenient store before buying herself a plastic spoon and a small tub of mayonnaise. Then she sat on a nearby bench and proceeded to disturb the general public by her fearsome consumption of the white substance she found herself addicted to.
"You know, that can't be very good for your health," a soft silky voice said from behind her.
'Kyoto-ben?,' Natsuki thought. 'Kyoto-ben woman doesn't like my mayonnaise…'
Natsuki, who's recent realisation of the consequences of her actions seem to have reverted her back to some sort of 'cave-person' state, just eyed the stranger wearily and guarded her special tub.
"My, you must be rather fond of mayonnaise," continued the girl whose crimson eyes were now smiling at her.
A rather large looking male dressed in a plain black tuxedo cleared his throat from behind the woman and as quickly as the smile in her eyes had appeared, Natsuki saw it vanish.
The woman turned her head and nodded to the man. "Am I not allowed to carry out a conversation?"
The man dropped his eyes a little before saying something along the lines of "I'm sorry Miss, but odd people you find on the street should not be spoken to by people such as yourself."
Natsuki licked her spoon.
The man's insult had apparently flushed normal Natsuki back out and her 'cave person' back to wherever it came from.
"Hello? Odd person found on the street, is sitting right here. Go lecture your girlfriend someplace else."
"Be quiet you punk. Even I don't have to lower my standards by speaking to someone like you, and I'm just a body guard."
"Ohh bodyguard huh? She wouldn't date you so you just took to following her around? Wow, what a guy you must be."
Natsuki rolled her eyes. She didn't know who this man was and was rather tempted to throw mayonnaise in his face. The only thing that stopped her of course was her true love for the stuff. Instead she sat there and mentally thanked her father for never making her deal with bodyguards. He said a sound knowledge of self-defense was enough.
Natsuki disagreed a little. She always thought 'other people-attack' was much better. This was a theory she was in the mood to put to the test.
"So, you think just because you hide behind that cheap-ass suit that you're better than me? You think the fact that you ride in a limo and I ride a motorbike makes you better than me? Well let me tell you this, punk, you, are not better than anyone. And for the record, there is no one, who's better than me," finishing her statement with a large spoonful of her addiction, Natsuki happily sat on the bench and grinned indignantly.
"Do you have any idea who you're speaking to?"
"Uh huh. Idiot bodyguard number one. Why? Have I hurt your feelings?"
"Miss, please stand behind me, I'll take care of this little girl."
Natsuki turned to the girl who seemed to be watching her with some sort of intense curiosity. She didn't know why but something about the girl unnerved her just a little bit.
Finishing her tub, she made her way to her motorbike leaving behind an irate body guard and the young woman who was still staring at her.
Turning back one last time before riding off, Natsuki threw a cheeky grin over her shoulder and wriggled her empty tub in her hands before throwing it in the nearest trash can.
"Hey kyoto-ben, you should try this stuff. It really is good for you," she said with a wink.
Then she turned to the bodyguard before adding: "Not for you though. Might make you fat… ter."
Natsuki then donned her helmet before riding off in the direction of Kuga mansion. It wasn't much, but to the girl that previously found herself wracked with nervous worry, a little verbal attack on an annoying person was a welcome distraction.
"That girl… I can't believe she would dare say something like that… what a…" whatever the bodyguard was about to say was quickly cut short by the young woman he was accompanying.
"Try not to say anything insulting about that girl. I kind of liked her."
The bodyguard had to gulp involuntarily due to the icy glare that had just been delivered his way.
"Yes of course Miss Fujino. My apologies."
AN: Thanks for reading this introduction! I'll be updating with some more plot you can sink your teeth into if anyone is interested! Reviews if you please XD