"Cast it to Dogs"

by Acey

"but he answered and said, it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
"and she said, truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

–matthew 15:26-27, king james version

"I was in a car accident as a kid," Kira says mildly. "I don't remember much beyond waking up in the hospital, bandages all over my head, hair all matted from the blood—they don't always wash it away in the ER, you know. First concern's to stop the bleeding.

"Anyway, I woke up to all that and the doctor starts asking questions and I can't answer, I try to talk, say something, anything but I can't answer." Kira gives him a quick glance to the side before looking down again. The pretend game of humanity hasn't ever fit him, not really, but Setsuna's never noticed. Setsuna thinks Kira's baring his soul right now, unguarded, and if Kira told him

(lies lies, you couldn't answer because you knew you couldn't pull it off, not then, pretending to be that seven-year-old child)

then why, he'd never believe it.

"I've had the… what do you call it? I'd had the CT scan already, no brain damage, so the doctors think it's trauma, of course. Dad comes in there after awhile and he starts sobbing, puts his arms around me. I don't hug him back. I'm about as limp as a rag doll so he just holds me, tight until I just push away."

Kira tries for a laugh but it comes out all wrong, more like a cough.

"I remember the first thing I could manage to say. Two weeks later. Dad's sitting there in the kitchen, and I walk towards him, sort of, there's a limp from the—the accident, and I say, 'My watch didn't break, Daddy.' I don't hold out my wrist to show him like a normal kid would, I pull the watch off and dangle it in his face."

"My watch didn't break, Daddy."

There's an unnerving coldness to Sakuya's tone, an almost adult vibe, and Mr. Kira notes it, just for a second, and he's almost afraid.

Sakuya dangles the watch in front of his father's face, intent look on his face.
"See? It says five… five forty-five."

The fear disappears almost as soon as it came, it sinks into Mr. Kira's mind belatedly—he can speak again, he's not afraid anymore, Sakuya will be all right—

He wraps his arms around his son in a wholehearted hug

(sobbing his name)

The little boy just stands there, still holding the watch in his hand, like he's frozen to the spot.

Sakuya's clinically depressed.

That's why he doesn't talk as much as he used to, why he shuts himself in his room with nothing but piles of books to keep him company. He's trying to find another world in those books, maybe, one where his mother doesn't die and his father isn't an office worker who can barely manage to keep up on the rent.

That's what Mr. Kira infers, anyway, how he accounts for the isolation. So for the first few weeks after Sakuya speaks again, when Mr. Kira comes home from work, he usually brings Sakuya something—a candy bar, usually, once or twice even a new children's novel.

Sakuya hardly looks up from whatever he's reading. He'll reach up to take the little gift from from him, never saying thank you, never saying anything. It's not some kind of pure acceptance of the way things are, either—the first day his father doesn't bring him anything, Sakuya doesn't seem to even take note of it.

Mr. Kira looks up childhood trauma in psychiatric textbooks, reads up desperately, terms mixing together in his head, flight-or-fight, behavioral disorders.

Sakuya's a troublemaker.

Sakuya picks on other children.

Sakuya was caught smoking on school premises with his friends.

Sakuya's a straight-a student.

Sakuya blew his high school entrance exams on purpose.

Sakuya—

When Sakuya is fourteen, one of his teachers suggests that Mr. Kira get his son psychiatric counseling. Admits in a conference that there's nothing definite she can pinpoint that makes Sakuya different from any of the other punks that she doesn't recommend it for. Mr. Kira complies with the counseling suggestion anyway, but Sakuya only goes to two unwilling sessions of therapy—and then he's out again, drinking, smoking with his friends.

Sakuya's friends (his father insists on calling them friends even when it's clear they're little more or less than his gang) are rarely close to him (but who in the hell is close to a kid like Sakuya, really), mostly underclassmen. Sakuya doesn't usually so much as bring most of them into the house more than once, besides Katou.

Katou spends the night passed out on the couch about three times, and spends it passed out on Kira's bed a dozen times or more. Sakuya doesn't ask permission from his father, of course, just carries him in, not looking the slightest bit worn down, drops Katou on the couch, tosses a blanket on top of him.

"He's on something," Mr. Kira says quietly the first time this happens, "isn't he, Sakuya?"

His son hardly hesitates.

"Just more booze than he could handle. Nothing more serious than that." Sakuya yawns. "He didn't stop kicking me while I was dragging him out of the club until he passed out. Sure sign he'll be fine."

"Are you positive all he had was alcohol?"

Sakuya gives him a dismissive glance and a shrug—drop it, old man, that's what that look means, and his father usually does.

(but how old's katou? thirteen?)

(to be thirteen and drinking is one thing, but thirteen and clubbing—what kind of club would have a boy that young, what kind—)

Sakuya's glaring at his father now, unnerving dark eyes steady, unblinking. Drop it, old man, surely that's what the boy's thinking, the imagined words like a cadence in Mr. Kira's head. Swallow the story for all it's worth, accept it the same blind, disgusting way you accept me—because your Sakuya could never lie, could he? Your Sakuya's a fine young boy, isn't he, and—

"His parents will be worried about him."

Sakuya laughs.

"His parents don't give a damn." There's a cruel edge to Sakuya's bitter smile, too darkly knowing to really belong to a fourteen-year-old. "I'm probably the only one in this world that'll even give the kid the time of day."

"You're helping your friend."

"Not really. He'll keep doing it." The corners of Sakuya's mouth twitch. "And one day I won't be there to drag his ass out of the club or alley or what have you. This is pointless."

"Don't say that. You're a kind person. You're doing him more of a kindness than—"

"Quit trying to give me attributes I don't have, Dad." Sakuya turns away. "Who says I'm not doing this just so he'll stay loyal to me?"

"Because you're my son. You're my son and I know that you would never be like that."

"Save the sap for a Hallmark card," Sakuya snaps, but he's straightening the blanket on Katou's unconscious body while he says it.

When Sakuya is fifteen, his father catches him on the couch with a girl, her heavy curls in sweaty tangles around her face. He watches silently as Sakuya pulls off her shirt with a practiced ease, then starts on her bra before he notices his father.

He smiles, sits up while the girl, flushed, grabs her top and tries to hide in his lap.

"Nice interrupting there, Dad," Sakuya says dryly. "Have I introduced you to Keiko yet? No? Well," and almost like he isn't quite aware of what he's doing, he trails his thin fingers through her brown hair, "Keiko Matsuda. Babe, meet my dear old man."

The girl's face is crimson red for only a second longer, then, emboldened by Sakuya's response, she sneers at Mr. Kira, too, with all the superiority a teenager can muster.

"Ooh. Kira's said a lot about you."

Mr. Kira doesn't answer her. Instead he turns back to his son.

"Sakuya, are you dating this girl?"

He laughs.

"Dating? How old-fashioned of you. No one dates these days. It's all just a fuck here, a fuck there—"

"How dare you, Sakuya."

Sakuya raises his eyebrows. His father's not going according to the script for once.
"What? It's the truth." He laughs bitterly, harsh voice getting louder with every sentence. "And I should know by now. I should really fucking know by now—don't give me that shit about girlfriends and dating and love, love's a sham, it's nothing but a goddamn sham—"

"I will not tolerate such lang—"

"So why don't you throw us out, old man." Sakuya's eyes aren't on his father anymore, aren't even on the girl-child sitting half-naked on his lap. His father's seen this look before, he knows Sakuya's unreadable, unreachable at this point—thinking of something far beyond the situation at hand.

Mr. Kira has always supposed it was his mother. The thought makes him falter, image in his mind of Sakuya on the crushed glass and pavement and wreck of the car, his mother's blood-soaked body the first thing he saw before the ambulance came—

(he didn't… he didn't cry, mr. kira)

(he was in too much shock, very common, very common, mr. kira)

"I only came back to the house to get some paperwork," the man lies quietly, taking his briefcase off the floor, the businessman defeated by a teenager in black leather and chains. "I won't be back until late. It… was a pleasure meeting you, Miss Matsuda."

Sakuya snorts his goodbye and steals a French kiss from the girl, playfully pushing her back on the couch as his father walks out the door.

At sixteen Sakuya befriends Setsuna. Brings him over to the house after awhile with all the usual nonchalance. His father puts out a place for him at the dinner table.

Setsuna's a nice boy, at least in comparison to the thugs his son's brought back with him before, two years younger than Sakuya. He has a vaguely effeminate face, brown hair, light brown eyes. One of his ears is pierced three times—Mr. Kira can't help but wince a little at this, mentally remind himself that times have changed.

Sakuya doesn't act the same way with him as he does his other friends, not even the druggie, Katou. Sakuya's softer somehow; his usual offhand jabs aren't nearly as piercing where Setsuna's concerned. It's—his father can't quite pin it, exactly, but Sakuya seems more at peace around the younger boy than anyone else.

It's refreshing, that's for certain. Mr. Kira asks him about it one morning, before Sakuya goes to school. Sakuya's got the newspaper open on the table and he's finishing up the crossword, same as he's done every breakfast for the last four years.

"That Setsuna…"

Sakuya cuts him off.

"He's all right. Going to get himself in a hell of a lot of trouble if he doesn't keep his head straight. But he'll be all right." Sakuya scribbles down another answer to a clue like clockwork, while his other hand guides a piece of toast to his mouth.

"That's not what I was asking." Mr. Kira sets down his morning coffee. Ten minutes and he'll be boarding the train to work, ten minutes and God knows where his son will be. "He's a close friend, isn't he?"

At first his son doesn't answer, keeps filling out the crossword. Then Sakuya sets the pen down and a slow smirk spreads across his too-handsome, too-pale face, the purplish eyes focus straight on him for the first time in months.

"Want another sad story to woe to all the neighbors about? Is that it? Not enough that your son's a hellion, oh, no, he has to be secretly queer too?"

"Sakuya, you know that wasn't what I meant—"

"Sure sounded like it, Dad. There's nothing between me and Setsuna. I helped him out of one fight three months ago and after that I couldn't get rid of him. But," Sakuya folds up the newspaper and sets it on the table, tucks his glasses into his shirt pocket, "if you like the sodomy angle, go ahead and play it to the neighbors for all it's worth. Sure they'll be scandalized."

"I was just glad that—Saku—"

"See ya." Sakuya slams the door behind him.

He's left his schoolbooks on the kitchen table, and his watch on his wrist.

finis