Disclaimer: I don't own Hana Yori Dango. I sure like it, though, even in its utter cracktastitude.
Author's Note: As you will realize if you remember the reason why Yuuki couldn't go to the party, this chapter takes place basically simultaneously with chapter 6. It's Friday night.
With this we should get back to a regular update schedule. And special thanks to Trinity, not just for a very detailed review, but for giving me a good idea. Mwhahahahah.
Summary: He wanted her to move on. He just never thought of what would happen if she actually did. SoujirouxYuuki, manga and dorama based.
Chichi-ue: a respectful term for one's own or someone else's father.
A Hana Yori Dango Fanfiction
The Ayanokouji house was brand new – Soujirou suspected them of holding the party as much to show it off as to celebrate their daughter's engagement – and gorgeous, even to his jaded eye. It was enhanced, too, by the sight of the well-dressed people making their way from chauffeured cars to the double-height front door, by the golden light streaming from each enormous window, and by the faint sounds of the live orchestra they had put somewhere inside. The crowd was fairly young, for this kind of thing. Soujirou smiled. He had been in need of a break.
He saw Sakurako just before going inside, her manufactured good looks shining like the sun in the midst of the crowd, and offered her his arm. He still suspected her of having masterminded Yuuki's avoidance of him, especially considering the smile she gave him when she saw him, but there was no point in being rude to a lady. Besides, something in him still rebelled against the idea of provoking Sakurako. She could be scary when she wanted.
"So, are the others coming tonight?" she asked once they were inside, plucking a glass of champagne off a passing waiter. "I haven't seen any of them in a while."
"They should turn up. Tsukasa has to get Makino here, which is probably going to be complicated."
"Yes, that poor, dear girl does have a genius for destroying her own opportunities, doesn't she? She ought to feel privileged just to be able to attend a party like this one."
He grinned at her. By this point, he knew she didn't mean it – she was as loyal to Tsukushi as any of them were, and somewhat fiercer to boot. "Sure, sure. I'm certain they'll turn up on time, so don't worry too much."
She sniffed, but seemed reassured anyway. "What's this party for, anyway?"
"What, didn't you read the invitation?"
"No. Just the place and time and dress code. Who cares about anything else?"
He laughed. "Well, apparently the second daughter is getting engaged."
"Oh, yeah – to that guy –"
"Ezawa Yorihisa." Soujirou had read the invitation.
"That's the one! Wow, what a mismatched pair, huh?"
"Well, Ayanokouji Misato-san is… one couldn't call her a beauty, but she's not particularly uncute, is she?"
"Misato-chan? No, I used to date her. She was in our year, but at Eirin."
"There you go," said Sakurako, nodding. "And – let me tell you – Ezawa Yorihisa? Ick. Just ick."
"Well, the Ayanokoujis do want to expand into telecommunications. It makes sense from a business perspective."
"Yeah, but I'd just kill myself if I were her. Her parents must have made some bad financial decisions lately if they're actually making her do this."
"Hmm…" Soujirou glanced around and spotted the couple. He recognized Misato immediately – he'd been with her (but of course, no just her) at least a month during his second year of high school. She looked prettier now, though that could just have been because of her fiancée, who was standing right next to her. Looking at the man, Soujirou suddenly felt intensely grateful that one of his many gifts was beauty. "I see what you mean."
But that was the way engagements worked. Your parents found someone, and you were either lucky or unlucky in the partner, and lucky or unlucky in how soon they expected you to go through with it. Soujirou had at least made his parents promise that they wouldn't try to make him marry anyone he wouldn't have slept with normally – then again, he'd been fourteen when he had told them that. He hoped they remembered.
Tsukushi had arrived on Tsukasa's arm. Both of them were, somewhat miraculously, dressed, groomed, and smiling. Tsukushi in particular – she cleaned up so well. Sometimes he envied Tsukasa.
"Looking good, Makino!" he said, smiling teasingly. "Did he have to drug you to get you into that dress?"
"No," she said, snippily. "And don't bring up bad memories, either."
"Tsukushi, you know you looked hot in that dress. And if I hadn't seen that you had the potential to look so good, I might never have –"
"No bad memories, Tsukasa."
Sakurako giggled. "Oh, you two. You never will get along."
She was saved from both of their wrath by Rui, Shigeru, and Akira's arrival.
"The coat check line was so long," Shigeru complained. "It was good that Akira-kun and Rui-kun let me skip ahead of them."
"Let you? You call that letting you, you crazy –" Poor Akira was already red in the face from even a limited amount of Shigeru.
"I didn't mind," said Rui, politely.
"You never mind anything, do you? That's why –"
"Doumyouji-san!" A middle-aged couple – Ayanokouji Nobumasa and his wife, the party's hosts – were bearing down on Tsukasa. "And all of you! What a pleasure it is to see such a lovely group of young people!"
Ever since the news had leaked that Tsukasa had taken up the management responsibilities his father's illness left him unable to fulfill, the group was always "Doumyouji-san and friends" to the old and connection-hungry. It was hard to mind it, especially considering how much it pissed Tsukasa off. Soujirou had a certain appreciation for things that pissed Tsukasa off.
"Why, is this the famous Makino-san?" the wife asked, a broad, false smile on her face. "How lovely to finally meet you! I've heard so much about you. Why, you're even prettier than I had expected!"
"They're really sucking up, aren't they?" Soujirou whispered to Akira.
"Commodity prices are high."
"Oh, duh," Soujirou nodded. Tsukasa had some control over that area, his mother had none, and the Ayanokoujis were manufacturers. Being nice to Tsukushi was in their best interests.
Tsukushi and Tsukasa were, thus, pretty thoroughly occupied dealing with a flood of compliments. With the distinct sense of having dodged a bullet, everyone else moved subtly away.
"Let's go dance, guys," Shigeru said, in an urgent whisper. "Come on. Let's."
"I like that idea," said Akira, but his eyes were skimming the room. Soujirou poked his side and nodded towards a pretty, well-dressed woman in her early or mid thirties who was looking terribly bored talking to a man recognizable as the head of a well-known mutual fund.
"Oh, no, you don't," Sakurako said, grabbing Akira's arm roughly. "I don't see any guys who are my type. You're not going anywhere until I do."
"Come on, Sakurako, don't be a buzzkill –"
It was Sonomiya-san, who owned that firm the Nishikados did business with. Soujirou immediately moved to greet him, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Sakurako had successfully dragged Akira off to dance, and that Rui and Shigeru were following with slightly more dignity.
"How are you, sir?" Soujirou said, bowing slightly. "It has been some time since we last met. It is a pleasure to see you in such good health."
"Such a well-mannered boy!" Sonomiya laughed. His face was red – he seemed to have been drinking quite a bit. "Just like your older brother, aren't you?"
Soujirou felt his smile crystallize. "I am honored by your praise, sir."
"But you're a responsible boy, aren't you? So maybe you're not so much like him after all. You look just like him, though…"
This might have been much harder if it was a new conversation at all, but Soujirou was used to all of it. "And how are you, Sonomiya-san? I've been hearing excellent things about your new investments in India."
This was enough to set the man off on a rambling and highly revealing discourse on all his recent business endeavors. Soujirou committed each slipped fact to memory. He would send an email to his father in the morning, telling him what he remembered. There was no reason to tell him in person, though the old man was still at home.
"So then I told the CEO, if you can call him that for a company so small, that he shouldn't even think of – oh, Miho!"
Soujirou turned. A girl in a blue dress had approached as if quietly waiting for acknowledgment.
"This is my niece, Miho," Sonomiya said, with obvious pride in her voice. "Cute girl, eh? She's in her second year at Kayama Girl's Academy now. Have you ever met Nishikado Soujirou-kun, Miho?"
The girl shook her head, bowing. "No, but I have heard of him. It is an honor to finally make your acquaintance, Nishikado-san."
Soujirou inclined his head. "The honor is all mine."
"Well, I'll leave you young people to talk," said Sonomiya. Soujirou could have slugged him. Did he think he was being subtle, doing something like this? "It was good seeing you, Nishikado-kun."
"A pleasure, as always," Soujirou said, bowing. Once the man was out of earshot, he turned to the girl, regarding her. Well – she was sort of cute, and it almost certainly wasn't her fault that she was getting set up like this. Besides, it wouldn't do to be rude to Sonomiya's niece. "Miho-chan, right?"
She nodded, smiling.
"And what have you heard about me, Miho-chan?" He gave her the lazy smile that worked so well with open-ended questions.
She blushed absurdly and began stuttering. "Umm…. Well, that you're… that you're… in F4. And you… have a lot of… girlfriends."
Oh, no. Not the sweet, guileless, virginal type. Well, there were a very few slightly worse things. "What's wrong? You sound a little scared, Miho-chan."
"I-I'm not! Really! It's wonderful just to get the chance to get close to you like this, really!"
Shit. She wasn't in love with him, was she? He wasn't going to flirt with her if she was going to get absurd about this. For one thing, it was just so embarrassing, for both of them. "Close? This isn't what I'd call close, Miho-chan. I mean, if you want to get close…"
She practically fainted at that one, but he resolved to stick with it. A little bit of flirting would send her away happy and satisfied, just like the Nishikados needed the Sonomiyas happy and satisfied.
But he wouldn't sleep with her, and he didn't think he was going to give her his number, either. He felt definite relief when a passel of girls he had known from Eitoku decided to swarm him and the flirting became a safely collective experience.
It wasn't that he had anything against virgins. He didn't. He had something against girls who wanted more than he could give them – a breed the members of which just tended to be virgins. After all, he couldn't give any of them his heart (he didn't even know what he'd done with the thing, anyway), and he couldn't exactly marry all of them. His parents would give him a woman to marry. Because he was the good son and the heir, he would marry that woman. As long as she was pretty and didn't mind the fact that he had no intention of staying faithful to her, he didn't care who she ended up being.
He might have tried dating Yuuki if things hadn't been this way. But she was better off as his friend, the precious girl who had given him a precious memory. He could not encourage her. He couldn't call her, thought she might want to hear his voice. He couldn't be jealous, though she might want to know he cared. He couldn't fall in love with her, and he wasn't sure whether it was his heart that didn't have the capability or his mind that wouldn't allow it. It didn't matter.
Just like with F4, he would stay friends with her forever.
His father was at breakfast the next morning.
Keizaburou, who had gotten there first, was glancing back and forth between their father and their mother as if he was at a tennis match, although both of them were silent. This convinced Soujirou that something had happened before he entered the room.
It was hard not to feel nervous as he knelt at his seat. "Good morning."
"You're late," his father barked.
"No, he isn't," his mother snapped back. "And he was up late last night, anyway, going to that party the Ayanokouji's had. We were supposed to go too, if I may remind you."
Soujirou tried to ignore them. To his parents, reprimands and compliments of the children were only weapons against each other. They meant nothing to him.
The food was excellent – had his mother cooked again? Twice in as many weeks had to be some kind of record for her. If he concentrated on the soup, even the silence became pleasant in its way, although he might have spoken to Kei or his mother had his father not been around. But as long as everyone kept their mouths shut, he would able to get through breakfast and escape for a ride on his bike as soon as possible.
"Your mother and I have something to discuss with you."
Neither of his parents was looking him in the eye. This was bad. He caught Kei's nervous glance and nodded at him, once, to tell him not to worry. "What might that be?"
"You're twenty years old now," his father began, a little hesitantly. "It's early, of course, to talk about settling down, but…"
Shit. Old man, you couldn't possibly mean –
"If you were a little more moderate in your… lifestyle, Soujirou-san, we would never have had to think of this so early," his mother added, in a scolding tone. She only ever talked to him like this with his father around to back her up. "But as things are…"
What the hell? I don't want –
"There's no point in beating around the bush," his father said. "Soujirou, we've found you a fiancée."
Predictable twist in romance fanfiction and shoujo manga #36: someone's fiancé emerges from the woodwork. How will our hero worm out of this one? Worm is probably exactly the word for it, too. Oh, Soujirou.
Leave a review or I'll cry and kill myself and worst of all not update. No, not really, but I wanted to try doing the emotional blackmail thing once. :