Title: Five Times Volg Wishes He Spoke Better Japanese
Universe: Hajime no Ippo
Character/Pairing/s: lightly VolgxIppo (Takamura being an ass)
Warnings/Spoilers: I guess slight spoilers for what happens after Volg's fight with Sendou.
Word Count: 1,390
Summary: Some things are lost in translation. For better or worse.
Dedication: tasukigirl's request on my five things meme.
A/N: LOL Ippo so difficult. I haven't watched it in FOREVER. Hope I am remembering things ok. Also I haven't started watching the second season so if anything in this counteracts with what's going on in there so far, that is just fate. Or something. Also Japanese cultural fail, but at least Volg and I can navigate that part of this together. XD AND I AM DONE WITH PROBABLY THE HARDEST PROMPT BOOYAH.
Disclaimer: No harm is meant by this!
Upon Volg's triumphant return to Japan's boxing scene, the first person he wants to go and see is Ippo; he tells his coach and his host family in Russian that it's because Ippo inspires him, because Ippo was kind and spoke his Japanese to Volg slowly, so that he could understand.
His coach sighs and says it should be okay as long as it's an inspirational visit, as long as it makes Volg want to train harder and be better and maybe one day actually beat Ippo. "I'm not taking you cross town just so you can visit aimlessly," the old man warns.
"Yes!" Volg promises, and with that, the two of them head off to Kamagawa Boxing Gym to pay their respects.
When Volg walks through the doors of the bustling training facility the first thing his eyes land on is Ippo working on his combinations at the sandbag, the current Japanese champion as powerful and focused as ever as Aoki grunts and tries to spot without falling over.
"Ippo-kun!" Volg calls in his stilted Japanese, and hopes that even after all this time, he still remembers enough of the language to speak at least passably. In the meantime, at the sound of his voice, his old friend turns towards him in surprise, and then erupts into an ecstatic smile, warm and familiar.
They run towards each other excitedly, meet in the middle of the gym's open floor, and as Volg is accustomed to doing upon greeting a dear friend in his homeland, he automatically reaches out, takes Ippo by the shoulders, and leans in to press a kiss to each of Ippo's cheeks, one right after the other.
The entire gym goes silent. Well except for Takamura, who just screams, "I knew it!" while everyone else is busy gaping.
Volg blinks, wondering what's wrong, before he sees it when Ippo suddenly goes bright red in front of him, and starts stammering something in rapid-paced Japanese, all of it much too quick for Volg to translate in his head and then form a coherent response with. He catches glimpses of words, like "girlfriend," and "feelings" and "just friends."
It's enough to make Volg horrified and embarrassed (Takamura's braying laughter in the background doesn't help) and he quickly holds out his hands, in an attempt to explain. "Because I very much like Ippo-kun," he begins, though, this only makes Ippo go even redder, "My home! In my home, this is to show the fondness, when someone is missed."
And then—much to Volg's bewilderment— Takamura actually falls down laughing.
Volg's coach sighs and grabs his charge by the shoulder. "C'mon, loverboy," he says in Russian, "we're leaving."
Volg gets dragged out of Kamagawa Boxing Gym without another word after that, and during the long train ride home, he can't help but wonder if it was something he said.
There is his first dinner in Japan later that night as well, with the members of his new host family. The father is a particular old friend of his coach's and in gratitude for taking him in and in return for their willingness to help him navigate the complex minutia of everyday living in a society as complex as Japan's, Volg does his best to strike up a conversation with Yoichi, the eldest son, who has a great interest in learning English (though according to his parents, it is mostly because of rap music).
Volg's English is much better than his Japanese in any case, and with a gentle smile, he proposes an exchange, in which he would gladly help Yoichi-kun with his English, if only Yoichi-kun would please be his advisor in all the details of Japanese culture that he doesn't quite understand.
The minute he says "advisor," however, everyone at the table stops eating and looks at him.
Yoichi just laughs. "Lesson one," he says, slowly, "Remember which words have short vowels and which ones don't, yo."
Pink-faced, Volg suddenly wonders what he actually said when he asked a fifteen year old boy to be his koumon.
Part of him doesn't really want to know.
On one of the rare days when Volg finishes training while the sun is still up, his coach—busy with the paperwork regarding his next fight—tells him that if he wants to go get himself those medicine balls he's been wanting for his warm up training, then there's a shop a few train stations down that he can go to and get a deal.
"I'd like that very much!" Volg agrees readily, perhaps a little bit too entranced by the idea of having some time off to realize that this might not be the best idea considering how much Japanese he's outright forgotten since the last time he'd been in the country for any extended amount of time.
But he goes anyway, because the weather is lovely.
The sporting goods store is small and homey and run by an elderly man even more wrinkly and glaring than Coach Kamagawa; Volg tries not to look too nervous at the sight of the formidable grandpa as he wanders around the store, in search of the perfect medicine ball.
He finally sees what he's looking for behind the store's long counter; a pair of 15kg silver training balls marked at discount for 3500 yen.
He lights up when he realizes they are perfect, and thinks that maybe his luck is starting to change for the better. He waves towards the old man, who just looks back at him suspiciously. "Hello! I would like to have both of your lovely gintama, please," the boxer says politely, with his best, brightest smile.
He is very bewildered when the enraged old man grabs a broom and chases him out of the store.
When Volg finally stops running in blind, bewildered terror from the hissing old man and his surprisingly well-wielded push broom, the Russian boxer suddenly realizes that he is very, very lost.
He desperately stops and asks the first group of locals (or rather, the first group of locals who don't take one look at his very foreign features and run away from him screaming like he's trying to rob them) for directions.
"Host's…house," he explains sheepishly. "Can't find. Lost."
He pauses to search for words to elaborate then, and gives up eventually, digging around in his pockets for the address card that his coach and his host family had insisted that he take everywhere with him.
But oddly enough, the locals seem to understand exactly what he wants suddenly, and say to him slowly, "Host? Oh! Of course, for a foreigner like you, that's just the thing, isn't it? You just need to take this next train until the tenth—the tenth— stop. Then head up to the street and turn left. Walk until the next stop light and turn right. Then you should be exactly where you want to be."
They cheerfully guide him onto the platform, and the arriving train. "You'll be there in no time!" they assure him, and he thinks he got most of that.
He stumbles onto the train as per their instructions and carefully counts off tenth stops.
When he emerges above ground a little while later, the surroundings look very different than what he's used to, but he supposes that the locals know better than he does, and he follows their instructions to the letter, turning left and walking a block up to the next light, where he swings a right and finds himself…
… in the middle of Kabukichou, standing in front of a Host Club called, frustratingly enough, Lost.
When the greeter on the other side of the glass doors raises a finely plucked eyebrow and looks at Volg invitingly, the Russian makes a strangled, helpless sounding noise in the back of his throat and promptly runs back the way he came.
A few months later, when he goes to watch Ippo's next fight, Volg feels a little better about his Japanese once it's been put into practice.
But for the life of him, he has no idea why Takamura keeps smirking at him between rounds and asking him who the maguro is between he and Ippo.
Mostly because he has no idea what tuna has to do with anything.