Title: Gachou Obaasan

Summary: a few prequel vignettes

Rating: T

Disclaimer: The usual blurb -- Tokyo Crazy Paradise and its characters are the intellectual properties of Nakamura Yoshiki.

A/N : Just felt like writing some fluff

1. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

An unmarked black sedan glided to a stop in front of Rukuominami Academy. Emerging from the car, the young master of the Kuryugumi, Shirogami Ryuji, surveyed his surroundings with disdain. All around him, students clumped into groups of three or five, happily chattering with each other as they headed to class.

I am practically eight, he thought indignantly. Instead of wasting my time among these children, I ought to be shadowing father, observing how he manages the kumi. What is the old man thinking, insisting on this useless "education," as if being a gokudo leader could be learned from books?

"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories," a dedicated scholar of Sun Tzu, the Nidaime was fond of quoting from The Art of War. "Go to school. Observe and understand the katagi world."

Secretly, Ryuji was skeptical that the writings of some dead Chinese dude from more than two thousand years ago might possibly have any relevance to today's New Tokyo, but he knew better than to argue or to disobey. In his world, the words of the Nidaime were immutable as the laws of physics, and he must do as he was commanded.

"Sandaime, please dress warmly on such a cold and frosty morning,"

Kamojima draped a jacket over the shoulders of his charge. Ostensibly, he was the young master's bodyguard, though his actions more often called to mind that of a nanny.

Kamojima's eyes followed each of Ryuji's grave and deliberate steps toward school. Poor precocious kid, he sighed deeply. His body may be only seven, but his demeanor seems to be turning twenty-eight. More deeply than Ryuji himself felt, Kamojima railed against Fate for having robbed his young master of a mother's love and care. When all is said and done, I am only a subordinate, and I cannot provide the nurture he needs, he thought sadly.

"The last one to reach the mulberry tree has to rake leaves for a whole month!"

A horde of rowdy kids careened past Kamojima. A small figure dashed way ahead in the lead, leaving everyone else huffing and puffing in the dust.

Oh, that's Tsukasa-kun, the boy that Sandaime is always talking about. Kamojima recognized the speedy sprinter. The youth's face flushed a healthy glow from running in the cold morning air; sun lights danced in his eyes; and the wind played hide and seek with his spiky hair. Indeed. There is something so compelling about that boy's movements, Kamojima admired. No wonder he catches Sandaime's eyes. In spite of himself, he felt charmed and buoyed by the moving tableau of the carefree youths.