First part of this fic was written for Volg's birthday.


LOVE AND SURPRISES

Since I had done so well in America, I finally had the chance to return to Japan. And on top of that, I knew I also had the chance to spend my birthday with my dearest friend in the whole world. It turned out to be the best birthday I had had ever since I was a child and spent my birthdays with my late mother. In my heart I hoped she had been there with us and seen how well I was doing in my life, how happy I had become although I had had to leave Russia and started all over in another part of the world.

However, there was yet more to come, something I hadn't expected to be a part of, when I had flown to Japan during the last week of October. The following day, right after my birthday, was Halloween and according to Makunouchi there was going to be a special party in the evening. He brought it up again during our morning jog.

"Of course Volg-san can come, too. The invitation says that I'm allowed to go to the party with a companion. So far I haven't asked anyone so I think it's completely alright that you come with me, Volg-san," he told me.

"I am glad. Let's go together!" I agreed right away. It wasn't because I would have liked parties but because I wanted to be with him. So if he was going to go, naturally I wanted to go, too.

"The only condition is that the guests have to wear a costume…"

"Because it is Halloween? I do not know much…"

The way Makunouchi looked at me right then revealed that he didn't seem to know much about the matter, either. However, we still decided to go to the party together because it truly sounded like it was going to be a lot of fun. And with the help of Makunouchi's mother we got our costumes ready before we had to leave.

-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-

"You two look very cute. Have a good time, boys!" Makunouchi's mother said cheerfully and waved at us when we were getting into the taxi that had come to pick us up.

"Yeees!" Makunouchi shouted and waved his paw.

"Your mother has talent. Made these costumes for us," I said looking at my own paws when the other back door was shut and the taxi started off.

"Ha ha… She probably couldn't think of anything else. I hope you're not bothered," Makunouchi turned to look at me and looked slightly apologetic.

"No, no, this is good," I said smiling back at him.

"The ears look really nice," Makunouchi mumbled suddenly blushing a little. I could only see it because I was sitting so close to him in the back seat of the taxi.

"Yours look better. Grey ears and red hair, looks strange," I remarked patting my other ear that peeped through my hair.

"But Volg-san could only be a wolf, right?"

"Maybe you are right. The others, what kind of costumes do they have?"

"I really don't know anything about that. Takamura-san and the others didn't want to tell about their outfits at all. I wonder if I can even recognize them…"

"Soon we see them. And have fun, yes?" I just couldn't stop smiling when I was looking at him. Although he seemed quite hesitant, he must have been looking forward to the party - he still hadn't lost that boyish joy and it made me very happy.

"Yes. I can't wait to see how many people are joining the party. But most of all I'm happy that you had the chance to come, too, Volg-san."

"I am also happy," I said and I really meant it from the bottom of my heart.

-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-

As far as I knew the party was arranged by a magazine called Boxing Fan. Personally I couldn't quite understand why they had decided to have a Halloween party for Japanese boxers but it sounded like something very interesting. I felt privileged having the chance to join them even though it had been a long time since I had boxed in Japan.

"Here we are."

I couldn't remember the word in Japanese so I just pointed my other paw at the lights and other things scattered around the entrance of the venue. I didn't know the place but it certainly wasn't a place where anyone would have been boxing.

"Yes, they have put an effort to the decorations. They look really nice. Now I really want to see what it's like inside." Makunouchi was getting excited.

"Scary?" I had to ask him for fun.

"Boxers aren't cowards. And since you're a wolf and I'm a werewolf, we can't be afraid of anything, right?" He was trying to clench his paws but it seemed to be much harder than he could have thought.

"Yes," I said nodding, and smiled as much at him as his sweetness.

We went through the front door and Makunouchi showed his invitation to the person who was standing by the door letting the guests inside. Kindly and discreetly he explained to that person that I was with him. We both were welcomed warmly and guided to the cloakroom where we left our overcoats. After that we walked through the lobby towards the hall full of festivities we had already heard when we had entered the building. But then all of a sudden someone showed up right in front of us. I didn't recognize who he was but Makunouchi startled so badly that he pounced and hid behind my back.

"My my, if it isn't Volg!" the man wearing a vampire costume said and shook my paw. "With paws and a tail! How about your fangs? Are you taking good care of them and keeping them sharp?"

I didn't quite understand what he was talking about so I just laughed confusedly.

"Ah… Fujii-san, don't scare us like that," Makunouchi said sighing and peeked behind me.

"Makunouchi! So it's you who brought this wolf to our party? But it's great to see him here. I'm sure that Sendou wants to see you, too. Both of you."

"Sendou-san is also here?" Makunouchi asked cheerily.

"Of course. He was very excited about this party. And… Just let me tell you that it's certainly not difficult to find him."

"Good, we have to go and see him. How about Takamura-san and the others, have they also arrived?"

"I'm sure you'll get to see them, too. By all means, go and look for them. As far as I know, Itagaki was already looking for you a little earlier… But most of all, don't forget to enjoy the catering and the special punch made for this party," Fujii told and winked.

"Interesting," was everything I managed to say as I tried to follow their conversation.

"Volg-san, let's go and see the others," Makunouchi said then taking my paw in his and so I walked beside him into the hall.

-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-

When we entered the hall, we noticed that there were already such a lot of people that neither one of us didn't have any idea which way to go first. Therefore we just stood still and kept on hesitating until we heard a loud voice.

"Ippoooo~!"

We turned to the direction where that call had come from.

"That is…?"

"It has to be Aoki-san. Let's go and ask him where the others are."

I just nodded and followed Makunouchi through the crowd towards a man who was wearing a pumpkin on his head. It looked quite funny to me.

"Looks like there are even more animals in the zoo," Aoki commented when we were in better range of audibility. "But anyway, now that you're here, you have to let Tomiko tell you your fortune."

"Tomiko-san is also here?" Makunouchi looked surprised.

I didn't even know who they were talking about but it wasn't hard to guess when they both turned to the table that was right next to where we were standing. On the other side of the table I saw a woman in a black cape placing cards on the table.

"Ippo-kun, you have arrived! This time I'll tell your fortune properly! But it will be about something else than boxing so you won't mind, right?" she said raising her head and moved her eyes from the cards to look at us.

"Tomiko-san, hello! Last time was quite a troublesome moment, but right now, I really don't mind at all."

"Alright, Ippo! Sit here and wait for the result," Aoki encouraged him showing the chair on our side of the table.

Makunouchi turned to look at me, as though asking for my permission to go for it. Although I didn't quite understand what was going to happen, I still didn't have anything against it so I just smiled and nodded at him. He smiled back at me and then he sat opposite to that woman who looked a little like a witch in her cape. She collected the cards from the table and mixed them up carefully before she slowly began to place them one by one back on the table. I didn't have the slightest idea what they could have meant, and when I glanced at Makunouchi I thought he must have felt the same.

"Hmmmm…" she mumbled staring at the cards and moving her fingers gently over them.

"So what is the result this time?" Aoki was the first one of us who dared to ask the question.

"I must say I am rather speechless. But since the cards don't lie, all I can say is this," she began with a somewhat wavering voice and paused for a few seconds. "Tonight promises you wholehearted love but you are also in for a big surprise, the kind that you won't forget in a long time."

"Ooh," was all I could say. Makunouchi himself couldn't say a single word.

"What the hell is with that? Didn't you tell me the same thing?" a deeper voice came right behind us, and when we turned around to see who it was, we were faced with the devil himself.

"Ta... Takamura-san!" Makunouchi was startled again. I must admit I was quite surprised myself. After all, he was a big man and besides, his costume was very convincing.

"But Takamura-san, no matter how much it is the same message, the cards are completely different," Aoki said pointing his finger at the cards.

"Yes, Masaru is right," Tomiko said nodding.

"That kind of a thing is just boring," Takamura claimed with a loud snort.

"What is boring?" yet another person joined the conversation.

"So old man, you showed up, too," Takamura said to the man who was now standing in front of us all.

"Date-san!" Makunouchi got up from his chair and bowed to the man in a samurai costume.

"What are you youngsters up to?" he asked us before he noticed the cards on the table. "Ah, that kind of a thing. May I try it, too?"

"If Date-san is going to get his fortune told, then I want to know mine as well," announced a pirate who had been standing behind Date a while ago.

"One at a time, please," Aoki requested on Tomiko's behalf. She had already picked up the cards and was mixing them up again for her next opponent.

"Go ahead, Date-san," Makunouchi was already urging the former champion to sit at the table.

"Thanks," Date said sitting down but then turned back to look at the pirate. "Wait for your turn, Okita. This won't take long, right?"

"Okita-san too! I'm sorry I didn't notice…" Makunouchi was now bowing slightly apologetically to the pirate.

"It's the costumes, I know. But let's see what kind of a fortune Date-san will have," Okita said excitedly.

"No need to go easy on the old man," Takamura jeered maliciously. "His fortune has already been told, anyway."

"Takamura-san, stop saying such things," Makunouchi asked and his voice revealed just how irritated he was.

After that we all fell silent and waited for the result as Tomiko had placed another set of cards on the table in front of her.

"What can I say… This is becoming mysterious," she started as she stared at the cards. "Although there are a lot of cards in the pack, it seems that it is possible that even something like this can happen."

"What are the cards telling then?" Date asked clearly interested in the result.

"Tonight promises you wholehearted love but you are also in for a big surprise, the kind that you won't forget in a long time," was what Tomiko said, the exact same thing she had told Makunouchi only a while ago.

"Hmph, that's what she told me. And Ippo's fortune was also the same. How boring," Takamura commented immediately.

"But you can't deny that it sounds really good," Date said grinning at Takamura and stood up to let Okita have his turn.

Once again Tomiko mixed up the cards and got ready to tell the fortune to yet another boxer. When the chosen cards were on the table, she opened her eyes even wider than they had been a moment ago.

"What is it? Did the message change this time?" Okita asked worriedly.

"No, it didn't. There is no way to explain this but you all seem to have the same fortune, the cards show love and a big surprise. Both of which should happen tonight," she replied frantically.

"Excuse me," I said then. "I… I am not Japanese. I was not invited. Just a guest."

"You want to try it, too, Volg-san?" Makunouchi asked me.

"Yes. I want to know." Deep inside I had begun to think that it would be terrible if I was the only one without love and a surprise.

Okita let me sit in the chair and then it was my turn. I didn't expect to be so nervous because of such a trivial thing but I couldn't help it. I could hardly breathe before all of the chosen cards were visible. Of course I couldn't understand what they meant but it didn't seem that bad to me.

"Tomiko, what is Volg's fortune?" Aoki asked on my behalf since I couldn't say a word.

"Volg-kun…" she began.

"Yes?" I managed to say.

"You can also expect wholehearted love and a big surprise tonight," she said very gently and smiled at me.

"That is so ridiculous. A complete waste of time. Old man, let's go and get a drink," Takamura stated with a seemingly annoyed tone.

"Ha ha, try to have some fun," Date replied grinning widely again. "Otherwise you'll end up being the boring one. But anyway, we'll go now and have some more of that delicious punch. Enjoy yourselves, youngsters, and see you later."

Date lifted his hand and walked after Takamura towards the buffet.

"You should try it, too," Okita remarked straightening the big hat he was wearing. "Thank you for the fortunetelling." Holding his hand on his hat, he bowed to Tomiko and followed the older men.

"Us… Too?" I turned to look at Makunouchi but he didn't get the chance to reply because someone was calling him.

"Senpai! Don't go anywhere!" A young wizard moved quickly towards us.

"Manabu-kun, you had something to tell me?"

"Senpai, did you let her…" Itagaki started with suspicion.

"We all did," Makunouchi replied honestly.

"I shouldn't have let her do that," Itagaki grumbled.

"Why's that?" I was at least as surprised as Makunouchi was but I let him do the talking.

"First she told my fortune and then I insisted that Mashiba-san should get his fortune told as well… It was a big mistake."

"Ooh, Mashiba-san… Is also here?" The expression on Makunouchi's face changed again.

"Of course he is. Right over there."

We turned to look at the direction that Itagaki had pointed at. I had heard about that person, but seeing him like that for the first time… It was pretty bad, especially for a first impression. But I noticed it might have been even worse for Makunouchi.

"It… It suits him," Makunouchi stuttered and all of a sudden tugged my sleeve with his other paw.

"He is… Looks scary," I said still looking at the tall man, who looked very much like the real grim reaper in his costume and with the scythe that just might have been a real one.

"Ha ha ha, Kimura-san ran away, too. He didn't want to speak to Mashiba-san at all," Itagaki laughed.

"That coward!" Aoki laughed as well.

"You just don't understand…" Makunouchi mumbled so quietly that only I could hear it. He must have been afraid and I couldn't find a reason why to blame him for that.

"Anyway, Tomiko-san's fortune was only about love and surprises. Something like that can't replace tricks or treats," Itagaki continued. "That's what Halloween is really about, right?"

"So I have heard," I said.

"Volg-san! You've come back! Have you been to Halloween parties in America?" Itagaki asked cheerily.

"Not really. My first time," I replied honestly. "Not enough time."

"That is understandable. Every time it's possible, senpai watches your matches. You're doing really well, Volg-san."

"Thank you," was everything I could say because Itagaki's words made me feel kind of embarrassed. If it had been possible, I would have watched Makunouchi's matches but I didn't even know if Asian bouts were broadcasted on the TV. Later on I would have to ask about it from my American friends. But my thoughts were instantly interrupted.

"Makunouchi! 'Ere ya're!"

Even I knew that voice although it had been years since I had heard it.

"Sendou-san, good evening," Makunouchi greeted him and bowed again. I only nodded at him.

"Hmph, always acting like dat. Oh, lookie, wolves. I'm a tiger. Cool, eh?" Sendou boasted with a wide grin on his face.

"An' I'm a zombie," said someone who was standing beside him.

"Suits you," Itagaki commented and laughed some more.

"Takeshi-san chose dis costume for me," the zombie said with obvious proud in his voice.

I hoped I wasn't meant to say anything.

"So Makunouchi, ya've brought da wolf wiv ya. How're ya doing?" Sendou turned to look at me. "Are yer fangs still sharp?"

"Ha ha ha! How about yours, Sendou?" I couldn't help but laugh at him. The way he was speaking to me brought back a lot of memories from the past. And on top of all that, he really was dressed as a tiger from top to toe. He looked kind of cute. And very much at home in that furry and stripy costume. Makunouchi and I had just ears, paws and tails, other than that we had normal clothes on.

"Mine're as sharp as eva," Sendou replied still grinning and it made me notice how his teeth were showing.

"Takeshi-san is da best in Japan," the zombie boasted then placing his hand on Sendou's shoulder.

"Say whatever you want, Hoshi. Senpai has still won him twice," Itagaki said obviously trying to tease the zombie.

"And you haven't won him, either, Itagaki," said yet another young man who seemed to be dressed as a skeleton.

"I thought you weren't even going to come. Where have you been?" Itagaki said to the newcomer.

"I was looking for you but it wasn't easy in this crowd. But then I heard Sendou-san's voice and thought I'd come to see what he's up to," the skeleton explained.

"Ummm… I don't think you have been introduced… So, here is Volg-san who came to the party from America," Makunouchi said introducing me to the younger men I hadn't met before.

"I've heard a lot 'bout ya from Takeshi-san. I'm Hoshi, nice to meet ya, Volg-san," the zombie introduced himself and I shook his hand with my paw.

"Nice to meet you," I said.

"Volg-san, it's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Imai," the skeleton said and shook his hand with my paw.

"Nice to meet you, Imai," I said and then all of a sudden Sendou put his arm around my shoulder.

"Now dat everyone's 'ere, why don't we go an' enjoy dis party? And show Volg how we have fun, right?" Sendou asked looking at us all. "Have y'all tasted da punch yet? It's really good, yanno."

"Takamura-san and the others already went to get a refill," Makunouchi mentioned.

"Dat's bad, really bad I'd say. Can't let 'em drink it all. Betta go before it's all gone. Follow me," Sendou said and gestured that he was going to show the way.

"Why not. I could go and get a glass for Mashiba-san as well," Itagaki decided and began to walk right after Imai.

"But isn't Kumi-chan here?" Makunouchi asked looking surprised.

"No. Tomiko told me she had a shift tonight so Mashiba must have come here alone," Aoki replied. "But why don't we go and see what kind of a buffet they have. And I want to have some of that punch, too."

At that point Tomiko had put her cards away and stood up.

"Lead the way, Masaru," she said to Aoki.

"Leave it to me!" he said and they began to walk away from us with linked arms.

"Makunouchi…" I called his name wondering what he was thinking about. Perhaps he was shocked that his other close friend hadn't come to the party.

"Volg-san, I want to try that punch," he said to me with a very serious look on his face. "What do you think, is it something like bloody Mary?"

"Ha ha ha, we have to go and see," I said smiling at him.

He put his paw in mine and we began to walk after the others. Since it was easy to see Aoki's pumpkin, we only needed to follow it not to get lost in the crowd.

While we were walking, I couldn't help but think that somehow Aoki's reply had made me feel a little relieved. Even though I probably shouldn't have, because for a short moment Makunouchi had seemed a little depressed, and I really didn't want him to have such an expression when we were supposed to party together. I wanted him to have fun and enjoy his time. But I couldn't help the selfish feeling that burnt within me - I wanted him to be with me, I wanted him for myself while I was in Japan.

-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-

-to be continued-