Note: Ok, I'm not updating in the order I thought I would. But well, I had my whip back and snapping for Lithium so here you go :) Next to be updated will be TSFMS, and I'll probably finish it before going back to Lithium. Lionheart should be updated and finished too in the meanwhile.
As I said, this one's far from being over, we're only beginning with the second plot.
I made a promise that I would never leave a fic unfinished, but I feel now that it is also important to make the promise that I won't finish just for the sake of checking the 'complete' button. I've read too many fics where it's obvious that the writer has lost all interest for the fic and I think that giving it a crappy and rushed ending is far worse than leaving it incomplete.
Since I didn't lose any interest in any of my fics, you're safe :)
Next to be updated will be TSFMS, and I'll probably finish it before going back to Lithium. Lionheart should be updated and finished too in the meanwhile.
February 2st, 2007 (Mello and Matt are 17)
"They're still sleeping." Taka replied to Marty's questioning look, as the old man watched him from the porch come down the stairs. Greta was crossing the street with a basket full of pastries she had just baked so both men quickly erased any trace of worry on their faces.
Taka had been particularly anxious since they had discovered that the car had been accessed before Mail got to it, and even more being totally clueless about who had been there before, and why. Their inspection the day before, while the kids were enjoying Mail's birthday together, had been fruitless.
Of course, he had made sure to retrieve the fingerprints on the car before Mail cleaned his present from the dust covering it, but this had been fruitless too: unknown data.
Not that he expected much from them, criminals usually don't let any registration of their data behind them, but it could have been some thug filed at the police department, you never knew...
He had to be careful, he had to protect his kids, but most of all, he had to do that without them noticing, which, he was more and more aware of now, was becoming difficult the more he got involved with them. It was easy to forget to worry when the two wandered the house, always with a big bright smile on their face...
Taka had been reluctant to let them alone the previous night, but he didn't really have a choice, and matters had to be discussed in private with Marty anyway. And Greta hadn't been far away, on the other side of the street.
Greta deposited the basket on the kitchen table and took a seat next to Marty, as Taka prepared some coffee.
"I really thought we'd find a mess here this morning." she laughed.
"Yeah, these kids are way too wise and well mannered, we should teach them to be a bit more rowdy to give some more difficulties to Taka!" Marty winked at the Japanese man who chuckled in response.
"So, what's planned for tod..." Greta didn't have time to finish her sentence. The sound of running steps came from upstairs and soon Mihael was stopping in his tracks on his way to the front door, hearing sound in the kitchen, and ran there, stopping at the kitchen's entrance. He was shirtless, dishevelled, and an alarmed look was spreading on his face.
"CALL VERN!" he shouted, "QUICKLY!"
He was already running upstairs, Taka following, as Marty hurried dialling Vern's number, Greta standing from her chair, eyes going from one to the other in worry.
In the bedroom, Mail was sat on the floor, his back to the bedside, shaking uncontrollably.
Mihael quickly put his arms around him, trying to hold him. The redhead, seeing that Taka had come with him, tried to smile sheepishly. "I'm fine, I'm not hurting, don't worry..." he whispered, trying to reassure both of them.
At least he was conscious, the older man thought.
Heavy steps came upstairs, and Vern appeared in the doorframe. He and Taka exchanged a look. Vern was probably the one that understood the Japanese man the best, they didn't need words.
He knelt in front of Mail, checked his heart rate and temperature quickly before injecting the content of the syringe he had brought with him.
The shaking stopped rather quickly.
"I'm sorry..." Mail murmured, looking at the three others in the room, but especially at Taka. This was something the man hated, seeing Mail, after so many years, still feeling like he was a burden. He hadn't witnessed it, but Mihael's father had told him about the kid's situation in his family, if what he had before could be called a family at all. The nights on a bench outside, the violence, the constant reminder that he wasn't a wanted child, this would probably never be erased from his actual behaviour.
But Mihael had seen it. And Taka, as much as he wanted to protect both of his kids, didn't feel the same toward Mail than toward Mihael. Whereas he felt he needed to reassure Mail constantly, to try to tame his shyness, it was the total opposite with the blond. And he was even more aware of it now, watching the flame dance in Mihael's eyes.
Yes, Mihael had seen it all, this broken childhood. He had put aside his own loss, when he could have wept over his father's death, and even take it out on Mail. There was never a time when he allowed himself not to support the redhead, no matter what it had cost him.
And it was obvious that Mihael had the same conclusion than Taka in mind right now about Mail's feeling of guilt, when there was nothing to feel guilty for. There was a fire in his pupils that meant how much he loved and wanted to protect Mail, how much he would do to be able to. And that's what scared Taka sometimes. When Mail would get himself killed for Mihael, as he had already proven when he had ran into L and Light's claws after Wammy's explosion, Mihael would rather kill for him. Just like he killed L.
Himself was no angel. It was the Mafia, not some random company he was working in. Mihael's father, as honest and caring as he had been, hadn't reached the head of the Mob riding on a shooting star in a fairytale world. It took a fair share of tainted soul to get there. You didn't need to kill unnecessarily, you didn't have to rob when you didn't really need to, and you could even respect your peers and adversaries, but ways and means were still illegal, if not totally cruel. Necessary or not, murder was murder, theft was theft, and the weight was still on your soul.
And the tainted soul was showing so much in Mihael's eyes in moments like that... it never failed to raise goosebumps on Taka's arms when he witnessed thatlook. This was something he had never seen in Mr Keehl's eyes, and Marty had confirmed, some time ago, that Mihael had a side that his father never had. Something darker, something that would probably have him do the worst to be able to keep what he loved.
Previous events had already shown that Mihael had it in him to be a leader. Problem was, he was unpredictable and quick to act. Taka had to be careful not to go too far in his fatherly role because Mihael would always claim the first place concerning Mail, and could easily put himself in competition with Taka, and still he had to put limits to Mihael's range of action to keep a hand on the blond's temper.
Both kids' temperament had been altered by the events they had gone through, and Taka knew that as much as he would provide to build a safe environment around them, the kids in the end only needed each other. They loved him, but they would be fine without him, whereas they were dead without each other.
"You don't have to be sorry Mail," Taka smiled to the redhead, "It's not your fault."
"I've injected you a muscle relaxant. Don't worry for the shaking, you may experience it from time to time but it will disappear soon. I think you're doing better from day to day, soon it will be totally forgotten." The tall black man tapped the redhead's shoulder before standing up.
While Mihael helped Mail in bed so he could rest a bit, the crisis and injection wearing him out, the two men went back downstairs to reassure Marty and Greta. The woman had tears in her eyes and even if she was fighting them hard, it was obvious that she was shocked.
'Don't worry Ma'am, it's all good." Vern tried to cheer her up, "Mail will be fine, the symptoms are getting less frequent, he should be over it very soon, and he won't probably experience anything really bad from now on."
Greta released her breath, obviously reassured.
Upstairs, Mail was slowly dozing off as Mihael stroke his hair softly.
"I hope it will stop..." Mail murmured half asleep, "I really want to go to school someday soon..."
Mihael wasn't so fond of the idea, but he understood why Mail wanted so much to resume his studies in a normal establishment: it was all for the sake of feeling normal, leading a normal life, something they never had until now. But it worried the blond: how could they lead a normal life being a gay couple, one adorning such a scar, and both living with a father figure that looked more like a yakuza than someone related to them by blood.
That wasn't going to be easy. Even if Mihael felt strong enough to beat up anyone acting like a bully, he didn't want Mail to be disappointed...
Taka and Marty waited for both teenagers to go to bed, after lounging at home all day long since Mail didn't feel much in shape. Vern, Linden and a third man arrived half an hour after the light went out in Mail and Mihael's room.
"Hi guys." the man greeted, shaking hands with Marty and Taka.
"Hi John." Marty replied, Taka simply nodding to the man, "Ok, let's go straight to business. What did you find?"
"I'm afraid you won't like it, but I have a name to link the fingerprints with. I had my men check data in several countries starting with UK, since you're all coming back from there, and got informations on a Japanese national crossing customs with a falsified passport. I tracked him down in Japan where he is filed with several little thefts and supposedly killed in a gang rivalry. But the man is very much alive and..."
"The name!" Marty cut him, impatient.
The man started. Taka himself, although totally in control, was surprised. It had been so easy to slip into a somehow normal life that he had almost forgotten what Marty was like in a case like this, when he was fully endorsing his Mafia boss role.
"Kiyoharu Ojima..." John replied, looking at the Japanese man. The latter was obviously shocked.
"How is he related to you Taka?" Marty asked, turning to him.
"I have no clue, we have the same last name but I don't know him..." Taka shook his head. Maybe it was just a coincidence, Ojima is not a rare name in Japan... but it was quite a big one, making it impossible for him to believe it was, although he wished very, very hard it was.
"I have absolutely no trace of him here in the US, so except that he accessed the car, I don't have anything else. But he's around, and you have to be careful. His motives are unknown but I'll ring you as soon as I have something new. I'll send you a copy of his complete Japanese data as soon as I have it, it shouldn't be long, my men are on it."
"Thank you..." Taka whispered. He would never forgive himself if he was the source of this problem. They thought they'd be safer here, but it was obviously not the case.
Everyone left except Vern. Taka and him talked during a big part of the night. It was something they used to do back in Manchester, and even if Taka wasn't usually talkative, Vern was easy to chat with. Somehow, they understood each other, and even if he and Marty were close, sometimes it was better to have the point of view of someone who knew what it was to have children.
February 3rd, 2007 (Mello and Matt are 17)
Mail shifted under the sheets, but having rested a lot the day before, his night was obviously over and he wouldn't fall back asleep anytime soon. Stirring, he glanced at the digital alarm clock on the nightstand: 6:43am.
Turning, he watched Mihael's still sleeping form, pulling slightly on the cover to see his face. Smiling, he let his eyes roam from his hair splayed on the pillow, to his closed eyelids, sharp nose, relaxed lips and pointy chin.
Mail wanted to wake him up just so he could kiss him and maybe it would go a bit further... He felt the known feeling pool in his gut and decided to get up. Mihael needed to sleep, he didn't have the occasion to do so the night when he had prepared the lifesize game in the garden, then they had spent the next night very much awake for a big part of it, Mail had even asked Mihael if he had taken some Viagra at some point, seeing how the blond was going on and on like an energizer bunny, then last night, Mihael had stayed awake just to make sure Mail was fine, and the redhead would find blue eyes on him each time he awoke.
Mihael had probably drifted to sleep long after 3am and the deep breathing, and the way he was sprawled on the mattress told Mail that his boyfriend was particularly exhausted.
Taka heard the sound of the shower upstairs and turned to look at the time. It was still early and he was surprised to hear some life upstairs at that hour, but himself hadn't even went to sleep and even if it was almost 7am, he hadn't realized that he'd spent the night sat at the kitchen table, thinking, and turning the latest informations in his head.
He quickly went to his room to wash and change clothes. He didn't want the kids to guess that he had stayed up all night.
Mail was already in the kitchen, watching by the window as he filled a jug with water to make some coffee.
"Good morning Mail." Taka said softly, a smile on his lips at the sight of the pair of PacMan boxers the redhead was wearing. Seventeen and still a child.
Mail started. He hadn't heard the older man arrive, focused on the small white car that had parked along the pavement and the Asian man that had exited it then suddenly disappeared inside again seeing Mail at the window. The car was driving away fast as Taka surprised Mail, the teenager letting the jug fall in the sink, the porcelain item breaking and splashing water all over.
"Oh! Taka! I'm sorry I... I didn't hear you coming... and..." Mail looked at the floor, fiddling with the hem of his tee-shirt, then quickly turning to the sink to pick up the broken pieces.
Taka frowned. It was only a stupid jug damnit! Mail didn't have to be scared or feel guilty, it was nothing they couldn't replace, and even so, it didn't matter!
"Mail, look at me." Taka said, a bit harsher than he meant to.
Mail turned around, unable to look at the Japanese man. His cheeks were reddening, and Taka could see he was about to cry.
Closing the distance, he pulled Mail in his arms, hugging him probably a bit to strongly, one arm around his shoulders, the other hand in his hair.
"Mail, stop this. I can't take it. Stop apologizing. Stop being sorry all the time. Stop making me feel like I'm scaring you. You're perfect. You're, with Mihael, the most beautiful and precious thing I have. So just... be yourself, ok? You're not a burden, you can make mistakes or break things or be sick, it's not a problem and I'm not going to be mad at you. I wasn't there to see you grow, and I couldn't protect you, so if anyone is to blame here, it's me. I love you Mail, I love you so much..."
Mail was crying, holding Taka's waist tight. He was about to say that he was sorry for making the one he considered as his father feel this way, but he stayed silent. It was true that he was a bit scared by Taka, even if he knew he shouldn't be. He was aware of his own difficulty at living without excusing himself for being there. And the problem with Taka was that he was stuck between Mihael and the Japanese man. He was very laid back so was used to follow Mihael, but now he was under a fatherly influence and being stuck between both was not helping his issues: where was his place as a boyfriend, a son, a member of this family? Who's advice was the strongest, the one he should take for granted?
He mumbled something against Taka's chest, once his sobs died down. Taka released him, holding him at arm length. "What?"
"I said: the least I can say is that your love is smothering." Mail grinned, white teeth flashing, and Taka burst in laughters.
"Sorry, I don't always know my strength."
He went to take the butter and jam in the fridge, depositing them on the table as Mail grabbed cups on a shelf.
"I remember when I first saw you and I thought that you were Kazuya Mishima."
"I didn't forget either, you kept on asking me to do the Tombstone Crusher." the man chuckled, "Damn, you were so small..."
Mail sat as Taka began to cut the bread in slices.
"Yeah... I guess it was a shock for you to see us so many years after. We've grown up quite a bit..."
"Not that much..." Taka teased Mail.
"I'm not short!" the redhead protested, laughing.
Mail stood up and walked to the door as he heard the familiar bicycle sound outside. Picking up the newspapers freshly deposited on the doorstep, he squinted his eyes to see the white car driving away again at the end of the street. The same Asian man was at the stirring wheel, and he seemed to have been waiting at a different angle of the street, but still in front of the house.
Back in the kitchen a few seconds later, he handed the newspapers to Taka.
"Are you waiting for someone or something?" he asked.
"No, why?" Taka took a sip of coffee, his gaze questioning.
"It's the second time this morning that I see that Asian guy in the white car parked in front of the house and that he goes away when he sees me."
"Maybe someone checking if there are houses for sale or rent here I guess..." Taka replied. He kept his face blank, tried not to jump on his feet to run at the door, and sipped his coffee quietly.
But his heart was beating in his temples, he could feel his blood leave his extremities out of fear.
Note: I see you coming. Taka, Taka, Taka.
YES I write about him almost as much as Matt and Mello. But it's required for the fic, since he is an important character without whom I couldn't progress with the story in general, but he's also in the center of the upcoming plot.
I don't see how I could go 100 chapters without having other important characters involved, and how I could involve a character I wouldn't have developped.