DISCLAIMER: I don't own Takamura Koji. You can find him in CLAMP's Paranormal Investigators if you think he's an OC. Don't know much about the manga and I damn wish I could!
"You're...leaving for France, Takamura-sempai?" Akira asked incredulously. "Now?!"
Suoh had called him from one of his classes in the University.
"Yes, Ijuyn," said the bluenette quietly. "Could you give this Vacation Leave Form to Imonoyama-sempai? I..." He brushed off an imaginary speck of dust from his corporate attire. "I don't think I'd be able to face him..."
The brunette's jaw dropped as a retort he was dying to make vanished in him. "Neither would I," he replied instead in the same tone.
The ninja sighed and bent a bit to meet the younger boy's eyes. "Akira," he consoled. "He didn't do anything wrong to you--"
"But he cheated on you and you got hurt! I don't like seeing you hurt and I definitely wouldn't want to be near the one who hurt you!"
Suoh's expression softened. "We've gone through this before..."
The memory of Akira's embarrassing confession of love to his sempai over three years ago resurfaced in the young chef's mind. He blushed amidst the welling of tears in silver gray eyes. "I know...it's just that--"
"He's our chairman," the bluenette firmly reminded. "Personal life aside, it's duty to report to him. You needn't see him if you really can't. Even I'll still be reporting to him while I'm abroad. But now, I just really need space...besides, my favorite cousin's in France. I need someone to talk to..."
That was a filthy lie.
"Who will protect kaichou then?" came the chef's testy query.
The ninja frowned and straightened up. "Yudaiji will be enough," he said curtly and gave the VL Form to him. There was a moment's pause before a brief but tight hug followed. "Ja ne...Akira."
The youngest professor in the CLAMP University bit his lip and pouted like a toddler on the verge of tears as he bitterly watched his best friend's retreating back. Whatever excuse Suoh had come up with, he was damned sure it all boiled down to the desire of running away.
With a heavy, shaky sigh, Akira looked at the form in his hand. They were completely filled in the bluenette's neat handwriting.
"I can be the one you could talk to."
But Ijuyn Akira was an extremely patient boy. He knew that his sempai was not very versed in handling his emotions. All the treasurer hoped now was that the chairman wasn't in the council room.
The crisp cold air in the City of Lights never failed to lift spirits.
"Suoh-sama!" called a cheery voice.
The ninja craned his neck to be able to see past the sea of tall Europeans in the airport. Soon enough, it wasn't necessary as the person who called his name came tumbling in mid-air and landed in front of the bluenette to give him a firm hug.
Suoh smiled. "Konnichiwa Koji-kun," he greeted.
Takamura Koji is his younger cousin. The chocolate-haired boy was boisterous in contrast to his relative. There was always a cunning gleam in those dark lavender eyes. Though still a child, his interest was already captured be the wealthy Parisian he now worked for during the man's visit to Japan.
"I've asked de Tours-sama if you could stay in my house for a few weeks," Koji began as he helped Suoh bring his two luggage bags. "He agreed as long as...well..."
"Oh I won't be a nuisance, guarantee that," answered the bluenette. "Honestly, the most I'd need is a place to sleep at night for a couple of days. Once I find a temporary job, I may move out. My humblest gratitude, Koji."
The younger ninja looked up at the bluenette with question in his face. "Why did you come here anyway? Is your One alright with you being here and working for another?"
Suoh did something between a nod and a shrug as the pair rapidly made their way through the airport lobby.
"How is Imonoyama-sama, by the way?"
There was a pause before the older Takamura answered, "...happier than ever."
Once outside, the brunette hailed a taxi. He gave instructions to the driver in rapid French and the car was on the road.
"You speak good French now," the bluenette remarked in Japanese.
His cousin felt abashed. "I'm getting used to it."
"Hn. Where is you and your One's place?"
Koji looked out the window. "By Versailles. From there you can reach Paris by motorbike. You can borrow some of our spare ones in the back shed once we get home. And speaking of home, I might not be around for the majority of the time. I'm really sorry I wouldn't be able to take you around Paris..."
Suoh shook his head. "It's fine. I knew you wouldn't be able to anyway. I can manage on my own..." he trailed off at a realization. "...save one tiny thing."
"No one would really be able to understand me--"
"Are you boys foreign?" the cab driver asked good-naturedly in straight, accent-less English.
Suoh and Koji blinked.
"Yes, sir," the former replied. "My cousin stays here, though, while this trip is my first." Back in CLAMP, not only Nokoru dealt with foreign investors and entrepreneurs.
"You'll get around fine with English like that," the man said encouragingly. "I've got a Japanese friend, see? And I suggest that if your cousin there won't be able to give you a tour and you're on your own on a scooter, there's no harm in asking for directions."
"Thank you," both Takamuras replied in unison.
The bluenette felt like laughing. France had warmly welcomed him, and he considered himself confident that the country would be the cure to his emotional ills. Tomorrow appeared exciting.
Koji's house looked like a matchstick next to the tree of an estate Monsieur de Tours owned.
The great man and his wife accommodated Suoh generously. They prepared a lavish dinner for the new arrival, and he ate with the whole vivacious family of ten. After 'how are you's, 'how was the trip's, 'how are things back in Japan's and an animated exchange of Parisian survival tips and tricks, the two Jap boys retired to the aforementioned house.
Instead of sleeping though, the pair engaged themselves in lengthy conversations about home, the family and basically anything. Dawn caught them still chatting in the dining room.
Koji prepared a substantial breakfast before he and Suoh went out in the yard for morning exercises. The young bruenette left soon after, and the elder ninja curled up in the extra futon to rest.
It was late in the evening when he woke up again.
The smell of ramen disconcerted him for a little as he groggily sat up.
"You slept all day?!" his cousin cried disbelievingly as he brought dinner in the bedroom. "How long will you be staying here? You don't seem like you're in a hurry because you aren't sight-seeing! You know you can't see everything in two weeks!"
"Gomenasai, Koji-kun...I was just tir--"
"Have you been crying?"
Suoh's eyes widened as he had flew to his cheek. He could feel dried tear tracks.
But when? When had he cried? In his sleep? What was he dreaming about? He could not remember...was it about Nokoru?
Koji finally saw through him. "You aren't really here on exposure purposes, are you?" he said quietly.
"...sorry." mumbled the other boy. "Imonoyama-sempai and I haven't exactly gone along well recently..."
"It's okay," the brunette said firmly. "I understand. Don't talk about it if it gives you that much pain."
An awkward silence swelled between them.
"Does your mom know?" asked the younger boy. "Isn't temporarily and informally working away from your One not allowed?"
"Okaa-san knows," said the bluenette. "The circumstances are different. She allowed me to stay abroad until I felt well enough to come back."
Koji got confused somewhere in the middle. "Are you sick?"
Tiger gold eyes blinked at him for a moment before their owner laughed. "No! Just..." The smile faded. "Just hurt."
The brunette 'oh'-ed and toyed with his half consumed ramen, mind buzzing with questions he was dying to ask but could not out of conduct.
"Go out tomorrow, Suoh-sama," Koji said in the same tone as when he earlier confronted him. "You'll feel better."
Though there was no fanfare, crowds, bright lights, confetti or a red carpet, Suoh's entrance into Paris was breathtakingly grand.
On his borrowed scooter, the ninja rode slowly by a sidewalk, looking up, down, left and right, taking in everything he could see.
Trucks from the countryside were coming in, wheeling their way through narrow streets leading to the markets or the backs of restaurants. People were already flocking to meet their trusted market sellers to give them the freshest of their wares.
The rising hum of morning traffic mingled with the tweeting of birds and the city noise. Shops, schools, buildings and other sights to see were opening once more to another magnificent day.
Paris was waking up.
Suoh decided to head to a certain Luxembourg Park. Not many people during this early hour of the day went there, save for those who jogged. He settled by a fountain, got off his bike and sat on its edge.
From where he was, he could see Parisians going about their daily errands or heading off to work. It made the ninja mildly wonder where to get breakfast.
Feeling restless, Suoh mounted his scooter once more and rode to a nearby bakery.
"Ah..." he began and caught the attention of an idle man behind the counter. "Sumimase--Excuse me, but do you know somewhere with...good food?"
The one he was talking to momentarily frowned. "Tourist, noh?" was the heavily accented reply. "Every food place 'ere in Paris 'as good food, monsieur. But if you are looking for zumtin' particularly exquisite...try M. Les Desmond's restaurant."
The man extended his arm and Suoh followed its direction.
It was only then he beheld and elegant structure already teeming with people. Not far from it was the Park he was in a few minutes ago; a good short distance from the Louvre and the majestic Eiffel Tower. The restaurant was truly in the heart of Paris.
"Who did you say owns it again?" Suoh asked.
A/N: Hopefully he meets Oliver in the next chapter. Tell me what you think! ...enjoy!xD and ciAo...