Another fic~! Hope you like it! XD
Title: Reflections of a Regret
Genre: General, Family
Summary: An introspective view of Jirou's life from childhood to adulthood from the views of his family.
Disclaimer: I can only wish I owned PoT...Atobe and Jirou would be official.
I don't know when it was that my little brother became someone I did not know nor understand, when it was that he had integrated himself amongst the elite of the elite, when it was that he had become no longer a part of our family but a part of theirs...
My first memory of him was when mother came home looking ecstatic--despite the fact that she did not sincerely adore children--that there was soon to be a guarantee to the family line. I was to be heir, yet there was no telling what would happen should something happen to me. At that time, it did not register to me that the new baby was to be a backup; I did not even know what a baby was. And so I thought nothing of it.
When she and father brought him home however, I was only curious as to what the softly breathing bundle she was carrying was. Five nights later, I had finally managed to sneak into my baby brother's room and peek in at the cradle. What I saw puzzled me. Wispy golden hair--that would soon darken into a red-gold shade--framed a pale, delicate, heart-shaped face. Chubby fingers grasped at blankets as he lay on his side, slumbering silently, releasing small inaudible puffs of air. What was this supposed to be? A new playmate? But he was too tiny. I was already four years old. I did not want to deal with such a small seemingly fragile thing. At least he wasn't loud. He seemed a little too quiet, now that I think about it. Too quiet for an infant of only five days old.
And quiet he stayed. He rarely cried loudly; soft sniffles would be released from pouty lips, and one of the maids would rush over to silence the small cries. Sometimes mother would visit; I think she rather liked the fact that he wasn't too much trouble to take care of. He was content to stare at his surroundings whenever we went out, or at me whenever I was around. At that time, I had taken to doing my school work in his room. He was quiet, and yet at the same time, calming. His soft breathing kept the room from being too silent, yet allowed me to concentrate on my work.
Then came our little sister. She was born two years after him. Many called her "Mei-chan," saying that she was such a pretty little girl, that she would grow up to be the perfect wife for some lucky man in the future. Only, she wasn't as perfect as people thought she would be. After one or two days of relative silence as she took in her new surroundings, she began to cry often. She was loud, and learned to loved attention, and so, kept up her cries until someone tended to her. Of course, being the pretty little thing she was, there was no shortage of servants willing to take care of her, even as often as she called. Our parents did not know of this particular development however, and assumed that she would be like Jirou perhaps. The quiet backup that was seemingly ideal.
They were soon corrected on this predicament, however. Jirou soon began to stay awake for longer periods of time, still not being loud like Mei-chan was, but once he was released from the cradle, he began wandering the house. The servants would find him asleep in the strangest of places: the kitchen cabinet, the sink, under a chair, on a bed in one of the guest rooms (although how he managed to climb that high at the age of three I will never understand), or even behind a pot of plants in one of the less used corridors. The servants were sent into a panick come meal time every time. They would have to rush to find him, and soon, became irritated with him. They would comment, why couldn't Jirou-sama be more like Mei-sama?
Of course, it was also around this time that he soon latched onto me instead. He would search me out and sit with me while I was doing my work or in my lessons. He would be holding a toy, or a plushie perhaps, and would silently ask me if I would play with him. And every time I agreed, he would give me a beautiful, shy smile. I fell in love with that smile then and there. I suppose Mei-chan had a similar smile, but due to her extrovert and soon-to-be spoiled personality, it had been most likely buried. But for Jirou, every time he asked me, I would cave and let him have his way. I would play with him until he was tired and fell asleep. Strangely though, he only asked me when I was either done or almost done with my work for the day, and never when I still had much to go through.
That ended when mother found out what I was doing in my free time, however. I was eight, and he was four, soon to start primary, she dragged him up and away from me, yelling at him that he was disturbing his older brother's studies, that he should stay away from his older brother so that he could concentrate on his work. She was screaming, "So it's YOU who's keeping him down."
Jirou continued to visit me, however, even as he started primary school. He went with the butler, who dropped him off each morning and picked him up each afternoon. At first, he was the same, but within a week of starting, he was awake more often. He would chatter about his day at school to me, whether or not I was listening. He would often talk about his new "friend"--who I had doubted existed until I realized who it was that I had lost him to--saying that he had a beautiful angel who willingly played with him at school and protected him from bullies and gave him this funny looking pocky that tasted amazing and shared his blanket with him and helped him in class. I thought he had finally made up an imaginary friend his own age to play with now that he saw others his own age.
Then, one day, for a reason so petty that even I have forgotten, I yelled at him, telling him to go away and stop bothering me. Jirou lost his smile that day. It had faded slowly until his face was blank. Then he had turned and walked away calmly. I found him asleep in bed later that day. And the next day. And the next.
Every time he got home from school, he would nap in his bed, come down for meals, and go back to bed and sleep again. Of course, since mother and father were never around much, they did nothing about it. I doubted they even realized it. Mother was probably happy he had stopped bothering the precious heir of their company, and both she and father were too enamored with Mei-chan to ever bother with Jirou. They seemed to forget that he even existed sometimes, considering they rarely asked the head butler nor maid how he was doing. They only asked after Mei-chan, and about me to my governess. Yes, they sent Jirou to a school when they hired a governess for me. They eventually hired another governess for Mei-chan also, leaving Jirou to be the only one schooled at an institution. Perhaps that also allowed for the separation between him and our family.
Eventually, they did send me to an institution, Hyoutei Gakuen, one of the elite junior high schools, if not the best, in the country. When I was sent off, they told me that I was to make acquaintances, and forge networks with the best of the best, in order to insure the future of our company. I was to make "friends" with the heirs of other companies, of CEOs, of anyone of any worth in the future. I did as told, and eventually became part of the inner circle of Hyoutei's student council where the most important supposedly were. Hyoutei had a cuthroat system, if their tennis club was anything to go by. The rest of the school was just as bad. I had to strive for my place at the bottom of the elitists. I barely held onto my place as someone to be respected and of worth by the time I graduated from the junior high division of the school.
During my time as a junior high student, I lost even more contact with my little sister and Jirou. Mei-chan was constantly complaining about one thing or another, while still managing to keep up with decent enough work to eventually be accepted at Hyoutei junior high. Jirou, on the other hand, had surprisingly been sent to Hyoutei's primary school division, out of all primary schools around the area, as I later found out--although that probably shouldn't have been too surprising, considering how business oriented our parents were. Perhaps they had thought that if he couldn't be useful at home or as a backup even, then he'd at least manage to get our family's name in the upper class world. It didn't appear as if he succeeded, however, considering that no one knew who I was when I introduced myself--I hadn't realized that he had long since stopped introducing himself with his last name, preferring to be called only by his first. I suppose it was a good thing that he was entered into Hyoutei so early, though. He might not have passed the entrance exams, and since Hyoutei allowed students to advance by ascension, he had been automatically entered into Hyoutei's junior division the year I left. Last I heard of him was that he was still being as useless as ever, according to mother and father. Mei-chan has also started to scorn him, thinking that he was the useless being our parents often said he was.
When he started coming home late at random hours, no one paid much mind, thinking that he had probably fallen asleep somewhere and didn't wake up until then. (The butler had stopped taking him to school by the time he was in his third year of primary school and we had paid for bus fees instead. We assumed that he walked to the bus stop himself every morning and rode it to school since then.) He said nothing when he came home each day from junior high, not even to say if it was interesting or not. Father assumed that he slept through most of his classes--though he could not find a reason for how the school was not calling our house telling us that Jirou was failing his classes because he slept too much, while mother assumed that he was being the same as usual, not doing his part to help the family.
Therefore, it came as a shock to all of us when one weekend morning while watching the news, Jirou was mentioned as part of one of the tennis teams that made it to Nationals. Mei-chan said scornfully that he probably got lucky and was just on the team as an alternate when the team was already going to nationals. She said that Jirou was famous at school for being able to sleep anywhere anytime. Mother and father snapped out of their shock and agreed with her. However, that was when I began to have second thoughts. I knew that while there was the possibility that Jirou HAD just gotten lucky, but I also knew that Hyoutei's system in the tennis club did not allow for weaklings in their lineup. Although, after hearing about that regular who was dropped and then allowed back on the team, my opinion of the team did drop slightly. Perhaps Jirou did get in on luck...although...when had he joined the tennis team? Jirou was to graduate to Hyoutei's high school division this upcoming year while I headed off to university, but I had not heard a single mention of Jirou being in the tennis club. And Jirou? Jirou wasn't even present for breakfast that day; he had been regularly sleeping over at a friend's house every other day and during weekends. We all had assumed it wasn't anyone important though, since they were never mentioned nor did they ever call.
I soon dismissed this issue, however. I had entrance exams to Hyoutei's university to consider. Soon, university zoomed past me, and I was in its third year when our family received the same shock it did when I was in my last year of high school. Hyoutei's high school division boy's tennis team had won Nationals this time around, and Jirou was also on the team. It was an astonishing coincidence. Although, because we hadn't heard anything about Jirou being on the team last year nor about the team winning, once again, we dismissed it yet again. If he truly was a vital part of the team, then the team would have made it to National and won the years before also.
That would be the last time we would be able to dismiss his accomplishments.
Jirou moved out the moment he graduated from high school.
Mei-chan and mother and father never spoke to him nor saw him after he moved out. As for me, I saw him around campus at times, dozing in the shade of a tree, but I never contacted him. He did not leave any contact information when he left, but we assumed that if we truly needed to contact him, we would be able to do so easily. And so, when I graduated from university, I did not bother to ask Jirou for his contact information.
We never heard from him ever again.
It would be five years later that we would wonder where he went and how he was doing. Father had taken ill and was in the hospital diagnosed with the most recent pandemic for the past year. There was no known cure as of yet, and did not seem as though there would be any time soon. Father was deteriorating steadily. The doctors estimated that he would have only another six months left. In the meantime, I had taken over the family company, and was successfully keeping it afloat with my contacts from my Hyoutei years. Our family was perfect, or as close to perfect as possible. Mei-chan was engaged and to be married within the year. I was married, with a year old son waiting at home with my wife. Mother and father got along splendidly. It was as if there was never another little boy in the picture.
So it was a shock when father wistfully mentioned that he would have liked to see Jirou once more before he left this world. I had almost forgotten that I had a little brother, although I had always remembered that sweet smile from my childhood years. With his request in mind, I asked my secretary to look Jirou up in the country's database of residents. However, when she informed me that there was no one named Akutagawa Jirou in the system, I was stunned. She also announced that there was no one by the name of Jirou fitting the description I had given her. That was impossible, there must have been thousands of men named Jirou in the country, and no one fit the description I had given her?! She answered that the last place Akutagawa Jirou was known to have been was Tokyo, the very city they were currently in, but that was over six years ago, the very year Jirou had moved out.
That was impossible, all residents who paid rent or owned a house were registered, even if the residents shared a house and split rent. The only way for him to not be registered at all would be for some reason or another, he was not paying any rent nor mortgage or had left the country. Mother and Mei-chan were shocked when I reluctantly explained to them that it was going to be difficult to find Jirou.
However, we never did find him. Miraculously, a cure was announced completed three months later, and it was then that we stopped our search. The cure was just in time to save father and still not leave any permanent trauma. What puzzled me at that time though, was why only three months earlier, all researchers had said that they were no where close to a cure, and yet a working cure was found just three months after? I searched around and eventually found that a secluded, unknown genius had somehow managed to gather a team of the best researchers and worked to develop the cure. However, no one knew who said genius was. There was no name ever given, but a few did mention that the Atobe Enterprises had a part in backing the research.
It was a startling idea, that the Atobe family had backed such research, although, it would make sense if someone in the family had taken ill with the same disease. At this point, I decided that it might be best if I take this opportunity to both thank the Atobes and perhaps launch a contract with them.
However, when I had finally managed to contact the secretary of the current Atobe head, I was told that the next available appointment was next year before she promptly hung up on me. Strangely, she hadn't sounded irritated until after I had introduced myself. Perhaps she had had an off day. I decided to try calling again tomorrow and hopefully I would have more luck. However, I did not have to wait until the next day. Five hours later, the secretary called back and told me that Atobe-sama would be available to meet with me tomorrow at two in the afternoon, to which I agreed. I supposed she felt better than earlier.
The next day, after dressing in my most formal attire and organizing all my files into my best case bag, I headed off to the scheduled meeting location at the address I was given. To my surprise, after I gave my name to the attendant at the front desk of the restaurant I found myself at, I was led to the back and out the exit to a limo and told that we would arrive at the actual meeting place in another hour. Taking in my surroundings inside the vehicle, I could tell that the Atobe family was truly as well off as they came off in public. The vehicle was equipped with all the furnishings of a small hotel room, including a miniature TV, a bar, and seats that could possibly double as beds. I then spent the rest of the ride reviewing what I would say to Atobe-san when I met with him. I did not realize that everything I prepared that day would go flying out the window the moment I found out why Atobe-sama allowed me to meet with him this very day. It was not that he happened to have an open slot, but rather because he had canceled his other appointments for me...or rather, for my brother.
I stared in shock when after being led into the main sitting room, I saw a young man--younger than me--sitting elegantly on a leather loveseat with a slender, red-blond bundle latched onto the right side of his body. Atobe-sama raised an eyebrow at me and ran his hand through the wispy curls of red-blond hair when I froze in the doorway.
Of all the places to find Jirou, I had not considered that it was because he was living with someone rich enough to pay for all his living expenses, and especially not someone of Atobe-san's status.
Atobe-san smirked at me when I could not find my words and nudged Jirou, leaning down to whisper something in his ear. Jirou let out a small whine and paused before lifting his head from Atobe-san's shoulder, almost reluctantly turning and looking at me.
When neither of us moved, Atobe-san sighed and nudged Jirou again, tilting his head towards me. Jirou pouted for a minute before sighing and speaking to me.
The words seemed to draw me out of my shock, because then I couldn't stop asking. "What were you-where did you-how did-why-what are you doing here?" I finally burst out.
Jirou shrugged at me and replied, "I've been here for most of my life, you know."
I gaped at him. "What?"
"I've been regularly coming here since junior high, and before that I was always here whenever I skipped class." He explained. "Kei-chan picked me up every morning before school and dropped me off after school before that in primary school though. It was fun." Jirou smiled a sleepy, content smile.
"You've-" As I collapsed into a nearby seat across from the two, my brain attempted to process the fact that Jirou had known the Atobe typhoon for the majority of his life, even during primary school, and was even calling Atobe-san...waitasecond. "Kei-chan?" I asked incredulously.
Jirou gave a happy grin before replying. "Yep. Kei-chan!" He leaned back and snuggled deeper into Atobe-san's side, as if attempting to mold himself to the other.
Jirou...my little brother was...WITH Atobe?! I whipped my gaze towards Atobe-san. "You...he..."
Atobe smirked again at my speechlessness. "Yes, Jirou is in a relationship with Ore-sama, and has been since either of us could tell what hormones are." He let his arm slip around Jirou's waist and rested it possessively around Jirou.
I couldn't believe it, they had been together in a relationship for over a decade?! And since they could tell what hormones are? "Jirou, are you happy with this arrangement?" I asked my brother. If what Atobe said was true, then my little brother would not have known any better, would not have known any other relationship other than what Atobe told him. Even if Atobe forced him to be a toy for him, he could not refuse, especially if Jirou was living off of Atobe.
But Jirou only smiled that sweet, shy smile--the one that I used to receive--at Atobe and said, "Of course I am. I was the one who made the first move." That shocked me. "This idiot was in denial for the longest while after I kissed him that I almost thought that he didn't want me around anymore." Jirou pouted in remembrance.
Atobe looked irritated at that comment, but didn't do anything to my brother other than to pull him closer and practically into his lap and huskily whsipered to him, "But it was worth the wait, anh?"
All the while, I sat stunned and horrified that I was watching such an intimate moment. They appeared as if they were about to forget that I was there and start kissing, but suddenly, Atobe lifted his head up and looked at me. "I suppose now that you've remembered what you are here to do, please do so quickly. As you can see I am a busy man."
I couldn't believe he said such a thing to me while still looking as composed as he was, as if molesting a person in front of a stranger was an everyday occurance.
"Just how many times have you done this?" I demanded, gesturing at them and the space between me and them.
Atobe raised his eyebrow. "Ore-sama will assume you mean Jirou sitting on my lap in front of guests and not any other implications."
"A lot!" Jirou practically bouncing in Atobe's lap, apparently hyper. "I'm usually around even during meetings, unless Kei-chan's mad at someone. Then I shouldn't be around because the other guests think that Kei-chan is a pushover when he has 'a cute lover'" he scrunched up his nose at this, "on his lap. But otherwise, I can come in whenever I want. If they want to make any contracts, they have to be able to deal with me before Kei-chan will agree with them." He said happily.
I gave him a slightly horrified look. Most of the other major companies and officials KNEW that Jirou was practically Atobe's PET? I was interrupted from my rant by Atobe's cough. He looked impatient, as if telling me if I would get on with the initial reasons why I came in the first place.
I paused before speaking. "I had heard that you had a major part in sponsoring the research for a cure for the recent pandemic last year. My father had received the cure in time to eventually fully recover. On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you for this." I stood up and bowed deeply to the two in front of me, completely missing the sudden downcast look on Jirou's face.
When I straightened from my bow, I stood puzzled at Atobe-san's expression. He seemed at a cross between amused and sympathetic. Then I saw my little brother's expression. He appeared as if happy and yet depressed at the same time. There was a strange silence.
"I...I think I'm going to go to bed, Keigo." Jirou said as he stood up and walked out to presumably the bedroom.
Atobe remained silent and gazed at me contemplatively. "I could tell you who it was that sponsored the research for that, but I think you can draw the conclusion yourself. And if you truly wanted to know who the head researcher was, look in the old graduation records of Hyoutei University. I think you'd find something interesting about your family's 'useless son'." Atobe stood up and announced, "This meeting is adjourned. The butler will escort you out. I have other matters to attend to." The butler immediately appeared at his side and Atobe turned and began to swiftly walk in the same direction Jirou had left in.
On an impulse, he called out, "Wait!" Atobe paused and turned. "I...Please tell Jirou that I never thought he was useless. I know I didn't treat him the way he should have been, and I am sorry for that, but I do wish that I could have been there for him later in life like I was when we were little. I can't say anything for our parents or little sister, but I do still consider him my brother."
A pregnant pause followed. "Is that all?" Atobe stated in an arrogant tone, as if I was not worth his time, which perhaps I was not, considering what pain I could have possibly caused his...lover.
I sighed in resignation. "Yes. I apologize." I then walked to the front door, not looking back. I was interrupted right before I opened the front door, however.
"There will be a gathering for families and relatives of our close friends here next month on this day at eleven in the morning. Be prepared to not leave until late." Atobe said crisply before disappearing through the opposite door.
As for me, I sighed in relief. Perhaps I was getting my hopes too high, but it was something. Maybe we could be a proper family this time. As doubtful as it is, hopefully, Jirou will forgive all of us. He always did love the peace and quiet. He was a gentle boy, and it seems that he still cares enough for this family to work hard to find a cure for father, if I understood what Atobe-san said correctly. Now, I just need to convince mother and father and Mei-chan. I frowned. "This is going to be a lot of work..." I sighed as I left Atobe-san's mansion.
A/N: I have absolutely no experience in any kind of business transactions nor any knowledge of any of that kind of thing, so if I'm incorrect about anything, please pretend that this is some alternate Japan or something...=.=...and if you'd leave a message about what I was wrong about, that would be nice also. I'll be sure to read it. Thank you!
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