The Happy House, part one
November 16, 2008
Summary: Aya is recruited as a Weiss assassin, but he's not exactly sure why his new teammates seem so strange. They all seem too nice and too perfect. Their cover is a delicatessen. Bizarre things happen after each mission that Aya can't account for. A locked freezer and elaborate meals also give him the creeps. Plus, he can't figure out what the 'House Special' is. His new teammates seem very, very, very offended at his new found vegetarian ways. Aya starts to wonder if his teammates are more sick and dangerous than the people they kill.
Warnings: PLEASE READ THIS WARNING! This story is flat out suspense centered on taboo subject matter. It's not terribly graphic until the end, more implied. My intention is to not offend anyone and I sincerely hope I don't. I've used Aya's background from the Dramatic Precious radio drama and twisted it to fit this story along with some other things. By the way, I don't own Weiss Kreuz, I'm just borrowing it for recreation.
Note: There are also three alternative endings you can read at the bottom of the third part.
"You come highly recommended from Shion," the attractive redheaded woman said before sipping on her coffee. "We've been looking to recruit from the Crashers for a while."
"This is a good opportunity for me. It's less money, but you're willing to offer my sister protection from the Takatoris," Aya said.
"Not only that, but we have the same ultimate goal of taking down Reiji Takatori and his two sons. Shion said you have revenge burning in your heart. That'll keep you dedicated, but make sure you can keep focused. There are plenty of criminals out on the streets harming other young girls like your sister. If you feel you can be patient and focused, I'll take you to meet your new teammates," the woman said.
"I agree to your terms. I'm not getting any closer to the Takatoris by staying in the Crashers or with Shion. He's is only holding me back," Aya said.
"Good. By the way, you'll be expected to work undercover in a delicatessen. We've found it easier that way. You'll be partners with your other three teammates so you can share the profits from the business," the woman said.
"No problem. I can use the extra money for my sister's hospital bills," Aya said. The woman threw back her head and gave a gentle laugh.
"Shion said you weren't the type to turn up your nose at messy work. You'll be getting your hands dirty... a lot," she said. She checked her watch, placed some yen on their table, and stood up. "Well, lets get you settled."
Aya followed her out of the coffee shop and got into her car. He took a deep breath and let his mind drift as the redheaded woman drove them down the crowded Tokyo streets. He took a look out of the window when she parked the car in front of a bright delicatessen/café with flower boxes and tables out front. Aya noticed a lot of teen girls were out front sipping coffee or carrying packages home from the delicatessen.
He got out of the car and took his duffel bag out of the woman's trunk. He followed her through the door of the shop; a bell jingle as they entered. Aya noticed the place seemed at a lull; two young men and a teenaged boy looked over at them from a counter with sandwich fixings.
"Manx," the teenaged boy said, flashing a bright smile. "How about a sandwich?"
"No thank you, Omi. I just came to drop off your new co-worker. This is Aya Fujimiya. Aya, this is Omi Tskiyono, Ken Hidaka, and Youji Kudou. They'll take over from here," she said. "Goodbye, boys." They waved Manx out the door and turned to Aya.
"Nice to meet you, but I'm afraid I've got to run," the one named Ken said with a cheerful expression. Four boys ran into the shop as Ken tossed his stained apron aside. He grabbed a net bag filled with soccer balls and herded the children back out of the shop with gusty laughter.
"What was that about?" Aya asked after he walked over to the other two.
"Oh, he's a volunteer soccer coach for a local children's club," Omi explained.
"But doesn't he do the same after hours work I was hired to do?" Aya asked.
"Yeah, but it doesn't mean you have to stop living," Youji said, giving Aya a lopsided smile. "Speaking of which, I've got a hot date tonight. Don't wait up, boys!" Youji yanked off his apron and sauntered to the back of the store.
"Oh... now I'm stuck closing alone! Those worms," Omi groused.
"Just let me know what to do. I'll help out," Aya offered, placing his duffel bag behind the counter. Omi handed Aya an apron and gave him a relived expression.
"I'm so grateful for the help. I guess we can start training now. I need to get to my homework pretty soon," Omi said.
"So you still go to school?" Aya asked. Omi nodded with a bright smile as he showed Aya how to break down one of the meat slicers behind the display counter jammed full of a large selection of meat cuts. Each piece rested artfully on beds of lush, green leaves of lettuce.
Aya was disconcerted by the veneer he saw on his new teammates; they didn't act like assassins. They didn't even act like Crashers who didn't kill criminals, just framed them for jail. He made a mental note to watch for cracks in the veneer so he knew the type of people he was to live and kill with.
"Boy! This stake-out sucks," Ken said, lowering his binoculars and looking over at Aya. The redhead didn't answer. Aya continued to observe the man who worked out in a personal home gym.
The target was a wealthy drug dealer named Iro Fukuzawa. He paid tribute to the Takatoris in exchange for protection. Getting rid of this man would be a huge dent in the Takatoris's income. "He must weigh two-thirty. What do you think, Aya?"
"I don't know. Probably," Aya said, lowering his own binoculars.
"It's the muscles that increase the weight, you know. Not an ounce of fat on him, but look at the four body guards. Lazy and fat. Oh well... beggars can be choosers," Ken said. He let out a heavy sigh and looked through the binoculars again. Aya shot him an annoyed look.
This was the second mission he'd been on for Weiss. His opinion about his three teammates grew even more convoluted. He acknowledged the three of them were very skilled and methodical assassins, but little things kept nagging at the back of his mind.
His first mission had been with Youji. Everything went smoothly; they killed the three targets who were all local pimps. Youji seemed very satisfied until a fire broke out. It was all Youji and Aya could do to escape the fire, but Youji seemed extremely, and inexplicably, angry about the fire that consumed the small, seedy hotel along with the three pimps's corpses.
"Hey, Aya. We should close in on these targets tomorrow," Ken said, disturbing Aya's musings.
"Yeah, good idea," Aya said. He followed Ken back down the street to his car. He let Ken in and got behind the steering wheel.
"So that one target is at two-thirty and four body guards at about two-ninety to three-sixty a piece. It's going to be a lot of work, but very satisfying," Ken said.
"You find this satisfying," Aya asked, giving him a scrutinizing
"Yeah! Satisfying to see scum like that meet some justice! Don't get me wrong. I hate killing, but it's the only way to protect innocent people," Ken said, furrowing his brow. Slowly, Ken's intense expression melted into a sly smile. "Besides, this job's perk is certainly worth the trouble."
"Perk?" Aya asked. Ken let out another huge sigh and turned to look out the passenger's side window with no answer.
"I better go downstairs. I have some work to do down in the small freezer," Omi said after Aya and Ken made their report. Their plan was to take out the drug dealer and his body guards the following evening. Omi took out a key from under his sweat shirt. It dangled from a thick chain around Omi's neck.
"I'll help if you want. Looks like you're still doing homework," Aya offered.
"No!" Omi and Ken shouted at once.
"I mean... no thank you, Aya. It's not a big deal. Just something I forgot to do after school. Besides, Youji is down there to help out. You and Ken rest up for tomorrow's mission," Omi blurted out.
Omi jumped up from his homework and jogged back downstairs to the closed delicatessen. Aya watched Ken flop on the sofa. The former J-leaguer grabbed a remote control and turned the television to a soccer match.
Aya slowly moved to the stairway when he felt certain Ken's eyes were riveted to the screen. He quietly took a step down when Ken said, "I wouldn't go down there. Omi doesn't like people hanging over his shoulder while he works."
Aya swirled and went to his bedroom. He slammed the door and sunk to the floor in his darken room. Why had his stomach been in a constant knot since he joined Weiss? There was no reason Aya could discern to be so apprehensive.
Omi was a high school student, responsible and kind. Youji was a laid back ex-detective with a fondness for alcohol and women. As far as Ken went, he was a sports addict who spent his spare time volunteering to help out children. No matter how hard Aya looked that was all he could see of his new teammates. There was more depth to each of them, but for some reason they refused to let Aya get beyond the veneer.
"Good job," Aya said, looking around the personal home gym of their target. The five bodies laid dying with gapping wounds to their throats. Ken shook his bagnucks and retracted them. There was a glazed over, euphoric gleam in the ex-soccer player's chocolate colored eyes; Aya realized that Ken wasn't even seeing him at all. Ken took off his left glove, wiped it across his blood spattered cheek, and licked his lips. "Siberian!"
"Hun? Abyssinian? Oh... yeah. We better get out of here," Ken said, coming back down. Aya swirled as the door creaked open again. He held back his katana when he saw Youji and Omi both dressed in their typical assassination clothing.
"What are you two doing here?" Aya snapped.
"Kritiker clean up," Youji answered, looking around at the dying men. "Wow! You weren't kidding about the fat on these, Siberian. See you got them all by the throats."
"Of course. I'm not sloppy," Ken said, jamming on his left glove. Aya shivered at Ken's soft, innocent smile behind the bloodstained face.
"Clean up?" Aya asked.
"There are rules we follow for our safety," Omi said. "Don't worry about it right now, but we'll explain everything soon. Siberian, take him for some dinner."
"Great! I'm staving," Ken said. He tugged Aya's sleeve and lead him out of the bloody personal home gym. "How about Chinese?"
"You can eat after that?" Aya asked with a crinkled nose.
"Yeah! It really gets my appetite going. Omi's the worst though! Last time he packed away a whole pork roast by himself afterwards. Doesn't it do the same for you?" Ken asked. Aya shook his head, yanked his arm away, and followed the ex-soccer player outside.
"You three don't eat like typical Japanese," Aya mumbled. "I haven't seen any seafood at the apartment in the last two weeks I've been living there. The three of you eat huge amounts of food as well."
"No, we don't care for seafood. After working so long at the delicatessen, you just get a taste for meat," Ken said. "Don't worry. You'll get a taste for it too and not give another thought to seafood. I have a feeling you'll fit right in with us after a while."
Aya was weary; Ken kept him out until four-thirty in the morning. Aya had stayed in the car while Ken cleaned up and then brought out several cartons of Chinese food from a small run-down restaurant. By the time they got to the apartment, Youji and Omi were not to be seen.
Aya was too tired to care. He went to his room and collapsed on his stiff bed, belly first. He was still dressed in his full, dark plum duster covered in bloodstains. He let his sheathed katana slip from his fingertips and drop to the floor with a thud. Soft footsteps and whispering outside his bedroom door startled him awake again.
"That Aya just doesn't have much of an appetite. I'm kind of worried about him fitting in with us," Ken whispered barely loud enough for Aya understand.
"I didn't have much of an appetite either when I first got here, but I grew to love it. Give him time. He hasn't had his first taste," Youji whispered back. "It's not like any of us were raised in this like Omi."
Aya's face soured; he had pulled his weight and killed those targets with no problem. Why was Ken criticizing him? Youji said, "Hey, I remember your first time, Ken. Omi and I tricked you into doing it. Remember?"
Aya's brow crinkled when he heard a deep groan from Ken and a slight snicker from Youji. Ken murmured, "Yeah, it makes me hungry all over again. Darn Omi for giving me this hunger."
"I've got some leftovers in refrigerator. How about a little snack? Just the two of us? Omi's dead asleep and doesn't have to know," Youji whispered.
"Now you're talking," Ken whispered back. Aya heard them plod down the hallway right before Aya let himself drift into unconsciousness. The last question on his mind is why Youji and Omi would have to trick Ken into killing a target for assassination.
"I don't understand? A meat shipment? And we're closed?" Aya asked, taking his apron back off. "Won't you need me to help out?"
"Those are the rules. We're always closed the night after a mission. Omi, Ken and I will work on the incoming meat shipments until we can trust you to know your cuts of meat," Youji announced, leaning on the small door to the locked freezer. The tall blond smoked a cigarette and gave him a sullen look over his sunglasses.
Youji threw his arm around Aya's shoulders and lead him to the front of the shop. He said, "Listen... go visit your sister. Take the day and do something nice for yourself. Just don't come back before five tonight. Also, we have formal dinner debriefings after every successful mission. Persia and Manx will be joining us for dinner around seven. It's a coat and tie type of dinner. Okay?"
Aya just nodded as Youji gave him a lopsided smile and light, playful smack on the cheek. The blond assassin said, "Don't look so glum. It such a nice day. Go enjoy it. Pretty soon you'll be the one down stairs preparing the 'House Specials.' Here's five thousand yen. Go to the flower shop around the corner and buy your sister something nice on me."
Aya stared at the money pressed in his hand for half a minute and then he looked up into those dazzling emerald eyes. There was sympathy, but there was something like an ice underneath. All Aya found himself doing was nodding and running out of the shop as far and as fast as he could. He ran from Youji and the rest of his new life.
He froze at the entrance to the flower shop and wondered why Persia and Manx didn't come for a formal dinner debriefing after the mission he and Youji had together. Wasn't that a successful one? They killed the targets; what more could Persia expect? He shook his head vigorously and chose some colorful Gerber daisies for his sister.
A small knock at his bedroom door caused Aya to flinch up from tying his shoes. Ken slowly entered his room. Aya was taken aback. The ex-soccer play usually wore baggy clothing consisting of faded t-shirts and stained jeans, but tonight he wore formal black slacks and a matching dinner jacket. His under shirt was a dark burgundy color that was unbuttoned around his collar.
"Hey, Aya. I came to see if you're okay," Ken said. He walked over to Aya's bed and took a seat beside him. "You look cool."
"Thanks,"Aya snapped. He wore a black button-down shirt, gray slacks, and black shoes.
"This is going to be your first time. I remember how nervous I was, but don't worry. After we eat, you'll feel like a whole new person. This night will change you. Just remember to go with the flow. All of us are here for you. We really like you and can't wait for you to become a full member of Weiss. Tonight can be that night," Ken said with a deep flush to his cheeks. Aya bolted off his bed.
"I am a member of Weiss! I've proved myself," Aya snarled. Ken coyly smiled up at Aya before he stood.
"There is one other thing you have to do to be Weiss. Just do as I said. Relax. Enjoy our first formal dinner together and then it'll happen," Ken said. He walked out of Aya's bedroom with a curt wave. "Dinner in five minutes. Don't keep Persia waiting. He hates that."
Aya stood up and put on a slate gray jacket. He walked to the formal living room where Omi lit candles around a table while Youji uncorked a bottle of old, expensive wine.
"Hello, Aya! Did you have a nice visit with your sister?" Omi asked, giving Aya a bright smile.
"Yes, thank you for the time off. I felt bad leaving with so much work around here," Aya said. His nose crinkled; he looked towards the kitchen. Aya turned back to Omi and asked, "What's that smell? It's so strange."
"That's dinner. Ken's finishing up in there," Omi said. Aya jerked his arm back feeling something beside it. He relaxed when he saw Youji offer him a glass of wine. He took the glass in hopes of calming his nerves. A firm knock on the door prodded Aya to drain his glass. Youji quickly refilled it as Omi shouted, "Uncle Suiichi! Aunt Erica!"
Aya was surprised to hear Omi address Manx and Persia that way as he let them in. He watched Manx and Persia each hug Omi firmly. Youji gave Aya a gentle elbow.
"That Suiichi Takatori is one lucky man to snag such a hot wife, don't you think," Youji whispered.
"He's a Takatori?" Aya barley gasped out the question as a sudden surge of adrenaline hit his body.
"Woah. He's out to get the man who slaughter your family; his older brother Reiji. Without his help you won't get anywhere. Omi is also a Takatori, but he's working with Suiichi. Hey... don't look at it in such a ridged manner. You have to be flexible to be in Weiss," Youji whispered. Omi, his uncle, and his aunt were still engaged in warm, bubbly conversation by the door.
"I swore to kill every Takatori," Aya said, narrowing his eyes. "Every Takatori."
"Persia is a high ranking Kritiker agent. You wouldn't even get close. As far as Omi goes, don't even try it. Ken and I will put you down if you so much as give him a cross look," Youji threatened. Youji's expression turned from hostile to jovial. He threw an arm around Aya's shoulders and refilled the redhead's wine glass. "Don't take life so seriously. Besides, Omi and Suiichi do have one very charming Takatori family tradition they've shared with us. A fine tradition we hope you'll embrace.
"What's that?" Aya asked dryly. Youji just smiled and pulled Aya with him to greet Persia and Manx.
"Well, Aya. My nephew tells me you've been doing such a great job in Weiss," Persia said after they exchanged formal greetings.
"Thank you," Aya said, watching Youji ply wine on Manx and Persia.
"Thanks, Youji. By the way, I heard about that mission last week," Persia said. "You need to be more careful about fire."
"I know. I apologize about that. It won't happen again," Youji said with a apologetic grin.
"Accidents happen, I understand. Just be more careful," Persia said and gave Youji a smile.
"Of course," Youji said.
"Who's ready for dinner?" Ken called out. He walked from the kitchen carrying two bowls of mixed vegetables.
"I'm starving," Persia said. "It smells wonderful."
"It's a new recipe, Uncle. You'll love it," Omi insisted.
"Come and sit, Aya. You're the guest of honor tonight," Ken said, waving his hand to a chair. Aya took his seat while Omi went to the kitchen. Aya watched as Youji, Ken, Persia, and Manx seated themselves around the formal table. Small talk broke out among the other four at the table, but Aya found himself chewing lightly on his lower lip. He quickly gulped down another glass of wine when all eyes were off of him.
"Here it is," Omi called out sweetly as he brought out a silver tray with a large slab of steaming meat on it. Omi placed the tray in the center of the table and carved a slice off the end. He took the hank of meat and laid it on Aya's plate. Aya's eyes darted around the table. The others all looked at Aya expectantly with warm, encouraging smiles.
"You're supposed to taste it," Ken said.
"I'm not hungry," Aya mumbled. The pungent odor caused his stomach to rebel.
"But just one taste," Omi insisted. "Would you like some vegetables with it?"
"No. Nothing," Aya said. "I just need to go lay down."
"Sure," Omi said with a disappointed look. "We'll save your plate."
Aya jumped out of his chair and ran to his room. He slammed the door as three glasses of wine on his empty stomach hit his head. He stumbled to the bathroom he shared with Ken and vomited the wine into the sink. Aya's mind went blank after he sank to the cool, white tiles.
To be continued.