Summary: One night, Genya Arikado unexpectedly revealed tidbits of his past to Yoko
Rating: T - some suggestive language
Disclaimer: Ain't mine.
The bustle of the night life rang through the city. Neon lights, lit signs and sky lights all pointed to one of the most popular clubs in the top three floors of a Kabukicho skyscraper, the Gion. The rich youths who were born into money, or those who pretended to inherit a fortune, buzzed around the place like hungry mosquitoes. The established rich flocked to the place like vultures to carcasses. Anything and everything expensive was for sale, be it companionship, drugs or flesh. Both men and women advertised their bodies there; all of them demanded handsome compensation for their mere attention. This was a gentlemen's club with the vigor of a dance club. Many came for the atmosphere of absolute indulgence, wild success and human vices.
It was not very often that Yoko found herself in such an establishment as the Gion. A proper lady such as her usually spent her spare time in churches or in some god-forsaken tomb in the middle of nowhere.
But today, Yoko found herself in a completely different mood. Instead of her usual confidence and swagger, she was riddled with self pity and annoyance.
The entire thing was set off by one of Yoko's co-workers.
Kasumi, the administrative assistant of their office, came in with her new baby. Kasumi was radiant, cradling her newborn, exuding motherly pride. She talked nonstop about her family and how much joy they brought her. Yoko had never seen anyone so happy because of a little red wiggling thing. However, once the baby smiled and cooed at her, Yoko was stricken.
Even their usually indifferent boss, Genya Arikado, seemed vulnerable to a child's call.
Genya Arikado was their executive from a government branch so secret that not even Yoko knew the name of the branch. He was an exhaustless master, first to arrive and last to leave. He was always up for midnight stake-outs and had always answered his communications on weekends. He never talked about his life, only about work. He was also the most intelligent and wisest man Yoko had ever met. Of course, he also had to be dark and mysterious, with pitch black hair and light brown eyes. His sense of fashion was impeccable, and he could be so charming when he wished. So almost everywhere he went, women flocked to him as if he was chocolate. Yoko herself was not immune to his charm either.
That day, when Kasumi brought her brood, Genya come out of his office and gave the mother and child a passing glance and smile. To Kasumi, he was still being his usual menacing self, since she was not used to even seeing their stoic boss. To Yoko, the contrast was between night and day. Then Genya went to Kasumi and congratulated her on the new addition to the family. The office gossiped about his unusually human comment for hours afterward.
Seeing all these gushy family moments made Yoko reevaluate her own life. She had dated before, and had fell in love before, but never married nor had children. The married part she would not mind skipping, because she never had much luck on finding the right guy. Children were noisy, stupid and costly. Still, Yoko wondered what it would be like to have an adorable miniature version of herself running around, or having a husband to call her 'sweetheart' every day.
What about Genya? Yoko had a slight crush on him because he had one criterion that made him attractive; Genya was better than her at everything. From knowledge, skill, and physical prowess, to strength, magic, and attitude, Genya surpassed her in every way. However, Yoko knew better than to pursue that attraction. Genya was the epitome of workaholics, without known family or hobbies. For all Yoko knew, Genya was married to his work; the man did not have any room for someone else. Besides, Genya was her boss and the work relationship would never work out.
Yoko felt doomed. She was already thirty-one years old and unmarried. She would forever be a spinster without anyone to call her own. So that afternoon, when she caught herself looking through a phone book for a sperm bank and thinking about taking Hammer up on that date offer, she knew she had hit rock bottom.
Therefore, Yoko found herself in Gion, partly to satisfy the nonsense urge to find a sperm donor and partly to drink the hardest alcohol to knock some sense into herself. Perhaps she might end up in a one night stand and become as happy as Kasumi nine months later.
She was disappointed, at first.
With her blonde hair, mysterious gray eyes, supermodel body and fair complexion, she easily attracted many men, and all offered to buy her a drink. Some even mistook her for one of the dancers pretending to be normal. The Gion was a place where people's fantasies came true. What greater fantasy than meeting a passionate soul mate at a bar? Of course, they all bought her drinks in hopes that the tiny gift would promise favor. Yoko, who had an ungodly tolerance to alcohol due to her special talents, out-drank all of them, even when one of them spiked her drink. Somehow, Yoko felt that her one-night-stand should be with a man who could keep up with her.
"You know, you shouldn't hang out at a place like this," the bartender Heni shouted over the hearing-loss death metal at one point. He was a strange fellow with ghostly chestnut eyes and dyed-blue hair.
"You're not my mother," Yoko spat back petulantly. "I'll be here as long as someone buys me drinks."
Heni crossed his arms. He had seen many good people who came to the Gion to cheer themselves up. He had also seen many good people being taken advantage by the corrupt patrons who frequent the place. "Look, you're a nice girl, I can tell. But this isn't the place for you."
"I can take care myself," said Yoko, taking another sip. Her face had turned red, but she didn't feel it impaired her ability. "And I'm having a good time."
"No. You're here to feel sorry for the things that went wrong in your life," said Heni. "You can get much cheaper drinks down the streets at Saki-chan's, than here and you won't be alone."
Yoko scoffed. In the three hours she was here, this Heni guy was already acting as if he knew her all his life. "How can you tell?"
"Easy," said Heni, pointing to a spot in the overlook on the upper part of the floor. "That guy over there is here for the same thing, and he's been coming here for years on the same day. I would tell him to go down the street, but he is the owner. It looks bad if an employee is sending owner to another business, you know."
That was when Yoko thought she was hallucinating. She blinked and backed up, confirming what she saw.
Up there, beyond the balustrades was clearly Genya Arikado.
"Tell me that's not Genya," muttered Yoko.
"Oh, that's him alright. Genya Arikado," said Heni. "He's usually not here. But even when he is, he never samples the beauties here, saying that they're tasteless and he's had better. That's some high standards, I tell you."
Yoko was not listening to Heni's babbling. Instead, she concentrated on her own growing indignity. She felt almost betrayed. Years working together and Genya did not bother to tell her that he owned the most popular place in town. Hell, she could have had all those top shelf drinks for free! With a determination for a heart to heart talk and some free drinks, Yoko sauntered up the stairs to the one slightly more quiet area on the upper terraced floor.
Genya was slouched at a lavish black circle couch with pillows spread about. In front of him was a low coffee table with a shot glass, and a bottle half filled with liquor, and an ashtray with dozen cigarette butts. Under the dark lights of the club, Genya's usually brown eyes looked ghoulishly yellow; his pale skin looked funeral sheet white; matched with his long coal black hair, he looked more like a vampire than human.
Yoko just stood there, not quite sure if she was seeing the right thing. Genya never smoked, nor did he seem the type to imbibe hard liquor. He was like a machine that needed no sleep and a computer who had no disk space for inefficient activities. He was their superior, their boss, their leader who never had a moment of error, or a moment of emotion.
Now, Genya looked like he might have feelings. Yoko thought that maybe the world ended and no one bothered to tell her.
"Hello Belnades-san," said Genya, without looking at her. "You're not imaging things."
Yoko quickly returned to reality. "I didn't expect to see you here."
"Nor did I expect you here," he finally turned his curiously golden eyes upon her. It was one of his many usual abilities. He seemed to sense people before seeing them. He nodded toward the bottle. "Want a drink with me?" Genya asked.
Yoko's eyes went wide. "Are you serious? Boss?"
"It's after hours," Genya explained. "And we all have vices."
Yoko pretended to think about the proposition for a moment then nodded. "Alright," She sat down next to Genya, close enough for their thighs to touch, and too close to be just friends. She rarely had the opportunity to be playful with the all stone-faced Genya, and she wondered how he would react.
Genya raised an eyebrow at her, but said nothing. He instead, snapped a finger and a stripper seemed to pop out of nowhere with a tray of liquor and glasses. He picked out a plain shot glass and set it down at the low coffee table. The stripper then stooped down to kiss him on the cheek, winked at Yoko, and disappeared through a hidden door.
Genya, true to his imperturbable nature, did not even flinch. He nonchalantly poured a shot of innocuous looking clear liquid and offered Yoko the glass. "It's strong, more than a year's salary, and on me."
The pleasant scent of lilac touched her senses. This was likely some type of sweet liqueur. "You're trying to take me home tonight?"
The man was impervious to her advances. "No. Just offering something that's far better than the piss you've been drinking all night."
For some reason, a cussing Genya was definitely a great turn on. "So you were watching me."
"Think what you like."
Yoko smiled, and took the glass. They clanked each other's glasses then downed the shot. The liquid was like fire, and still burned after she swallowed. In a short time, she was warmer than ever.
"Pleasant," said Yoko with a smile. "What is it?"
"You don't want to know." Genya said, pouring himself another little cup.
The woman shook her head a little, and was even surprised that the room shook too. She touched her cheek and felt the comforting heat. "It's strong. That had to be something close to scented gasoline."
"I'm glad for you," said Genya, taking another shot for him. "I'm not even warm."
Yoko raised an eyebrow and touched Genya's face. She pretended not to notice his non-reaction to her touch only to frown as she noticed the temperature difference. "You're slightly cool. Are you sick?"
Genya shook his head. "No. This is natural for me."
"Are you sure?" Yoko poured as much concern into her voice as she could.
"It has saved on dry cleaning bills for many summers," said Genya dryly.
After a moment of registering that Genya was joking with her, Yoko laughed and settled back into the couch. Then, feeling her head sway some more, she laid her head on Genya's lap and turned to look at him. It never ceased to amazed her how aristocratic he was, with those long lashes, high cheekbones, and piercing eyes.
"Yoko..." Genya began. He was obviously not in the mood to accept her familiarity with him. "Please don't..."
"Genya," said Yoko, "Just amuse me for the night. It won't hurt anything and I won't say a word to anyone."
The blasting death metal music had faded into a mellower soft rock. The mood was perfect to close out the night. She liked this, being tipsy and relaxing with a friend. Maybe if she played it right, she might even see what her friend looked like under his expensive suit.
Genya, however, stretched his arms back to hang on the head of the couch. He may let Yoko lay her head on his lap, but he was not about to touch her with his hands.
"Why are you here?" Genya asked out of the blue. "You don't seem like the type to hang out in this type of joint."
"I can ask you the same thing," said Yoko. "You're less likely to be here than me."
"I own the place," explained Genya. "Which I'm sure Heni told you."
"He also told me that you only come once a year."
Her comeback seemed to strike a chord in Genya. He shut up immediately and blatantly ignored her. He took a long drag on his cigarette and fingered a pendent on his necklace. He was pensive again.
Suddenly uncomfortable, Yoko pouted. She liked the idea of spending the entire night in conversation, not in complete silence. Her game at being the coy fox backfired and she had to come up with another strategy. "You know what? Let's play twenty questions."
The look Genya gave her could have lesser men crying. "You have to be joking."
"Come on," Yoko encouraged. "It'll be fun. I'll let you start. Ask me why I'm here."
He ignored her. "Why didn't you answer my question earlier then?"
"Oh good! You're already playing!" Yoko cheered.
Genya took a deep breath. This was definitely the reason why he avoided Yoko when he could. She was too playful and far too flirtatious to be a proper church member. She also had the supernatural talents to make his life miserable, like that time when she 'accidentally' set fire to his file cabinets. Maybe his stroke of kindness was misplaced. Maybe he needed to find a more secluded place.
"I really need to purchase a cellar around here," said Genya, rubbing his temples with one hand.
Yoko pretended not to hear him. "Aren't you even curious why I didn't answer your question?"
Again, Yoko pretended not to hear his response and told him anyways. "Because you're the master at avoiding answers. And don't argue because you know it's true." Yoko playfully touched the tip of his nose. Then, to Genya's relief, she sat back up again, only to clear out a spot on the coffee table to sit and face him. Both of her hands grabbed both of his hands. "Come on. You wanted to know why I'm here, but I'm definitely getting you to answer my question. Unless you want to brood all night."
Genya rolled his eyes and sighed. He muttered something unintelligible. "Alright Yoko. I'll play your game. Do let go of my hands before I make you let go."
The woman released her hold quickly but kept a smile on her face. That threat was much more like the Genya she knew.
"Why are you here?" Genya started.
Honesty was always the best policy, so Yoko did not stutter when she said, "To get laid."
He nodded. "That sounds about right."
The luminous blonde gave him a staid stare. Sometimes, Genya had the sensitivity of a rock. "You're a jerk sometimes, you know that?"
"Been told quite few times. You can be quite the coquette, you know that too?"
"One of the best," said Yoko, seeing his jocular mood coming back. "What's your astrological sign?"
Now that was unexpected. "What kind of question is that?"
"Hey!" Yoko frowned. "One question at a time."
Genya took a deep breath. He seemed to be in deep in thought.
"Don't tell me you don't know your astrological sign," Yoko prodded.
Genya gave her an answer. "Capricorn."
"So you're born mid-winter?"
"One question at a time," parroted Genya. Two can play that game. "Why do you want to get laid?"
"Why? I'm in my thirties, single and I have needs," she gave a heavily lidded smile. "A lot of needs..." Her finger traced down his chest through his silk shirt and down to a more intimate place. "How are your needs?"
True to Genya's infamous imperturbable nature, he grabbed her wrist and moved the arm calmly back to her lap. "No comment," he said curtly without even batting an eye. "Have you been laid before?"
"Of course." The answer was short and concise. She continued on with her questions with a sparkle in her eyes. "What's your favorite position?"
"Liberal Democratic. At least they're inclined to believe in the supernatural and compensate me," His answer was short and concise too, in a completely different topic. "Favorite food?"
"Crème Broule. You?"
Yoko raised an eyebrow. That sounded strongly natural. "Are you serious? You're not a vampire, are you?"
"One question at a time, please," Genya reminded. "It's my turn. What's your hobby?"
"Painting, reading and writing," said Yoko. She could be short and impersonal about her answers also. "Your hobby?"
"Karaoke," he said seriously.
Yoko coughed, trying not to laugh. "Are you kidding me?"
"No," Genya delivered dead pan. "Whom would you like to get laid with?"
Yoko gave him a sultry look. "Well, with you, if I can. Are you offering?"
"No." The man said stoically, still unperturbed by her many come-ons. "Does this have anything to do with Kasumi and her growing brood?"
This was where Yoko was hesitant. The whole thing did stem from Kasumi's children. "Yes." Yoko admitted.
For once, Yoko did not argue for an answer to her own questions. "I want...I don't know what I want. It's just that Kasumi is so happy and my mother is asking me when I'm giving her a granddaughter, and everyone I know has at least one child . I look back on my life and realized that I don't have a family of my own and sometime I wonder if I'll be happy with a husband and child. Do you know what I mean?"
"Perfectly. That's seventeen questions so far."
Leave it to Genya to spoil the mood. "No it's not!"
"Are you about to argue with your superior?"
"Yes!" Yoko exclaimed.
"That was another question and answer number eighteen."
"You're taking all the fun out of this." Yoko was flustered.
"I'm a dull kind of person." Genya answered in his usual mono-tone. As if suddenly irritated, he continued. "Look, Yoko. It was a pleasure to see you here and you are a fun person. But if you can't even enjoy a game of your own device, then we should stop."
"Fine. My real question then. Why are you here? You don't look as if you even enjoy this type of atmosphere. And you better answer me seriously mister, or I'll be extremely cross with you." She picked up a glass of water that a good stripper had dropped off unobtrusively earlier.
He fingered the little silver cross on his necklace, now visible outside his shirt. "Today is my wedding anniversary and I'm celebrating." He said sincerely.
Water came spluttering out. "What?"
"I've answered your question, Yoko-san," said Genya calmly.
Yoko had enough of his stark adherence to rules. "Genya. We worked together for more than a decade and you never told me that you have a wife! Why aren't you home with her? And where's your ring? And you better answer me properly or I'll be very cross with you."
Genya gave Yoko a steady stare as he poured himself another cup. For some reason, Genya's light brown eyes turned a silvery gold for a moment when he took another shot. His face twisted into a semblance of sardonic irony. Then he looked away and declared. "She left me."
Yoko nodded knowingly. "Divorce?" Marriages these days usually did not last. She had heard so many stories where divorce was a release from a trap rather than a heart break. Besides, Genya was a workaholic who probably loved his job more than anything else. Any woman would not wish to be married to a man who paid more attention to work than her.
Genya shook his head. "No. She died."
"Oh!" For once, Yoko wished she had kept her mouth shut.
Unexpectedly, Genya elaborated. "She was my gift from God." His voice was soft. "I was very young then, far more naive in the frailty of the world than now. She was intelligent and frighteningly beautiful. She had a ferocious temper with the strength and passion that surpassed all others. She drove me mad with fury and want." Genya raised the glass, eyes distant but his voice was filled with an indescribable longing. "My beloved Baroness Germain was everything to me."
Yoko felt jealous and sad at the same time. Jealous that a woman already existed for Genya. However, she was sad looking at his gut-wrenching expression. "So...what happened to her?" Yoko already knew the answer, but knew she had to ask. She may never see Genya bear his soul again. She also took note of the name and reminded herself to look up the person in her spare time.
"I had enemies," said Genya with numb detachment. "Nothing that she couldn't handle, under normal circumstances. But she fell ill the one winter I was away. She was midway with child then." There was a long solemn pause. "I came back in time to watch her die."
Yoko swallowed at the possible reason why Genya had always been so fanatical about work. Genya had a personal vendetta against the evil supernatural creatures who killed the woman he loved.
Genya, however, continued. "I can never forget the sights and smells when I found her. She laid in a pool of blood, her rattling breaths, dead monstrosities around her, that sickening smell of iron. She held on long enough to tell me that she was sorry for not being able to take care of herself and leaving so early. Can you imagine that, Yoko? A woman on the verge of death, apologizing for her weakness?"
Yoko didn't say anything in return. She could, in fact, imagine that. Arikado could be such a demanding boss that even Yoko felt oppressed from time to time. If a woman was to capture his heart, she had to be more than amazing.
"She made me promise to remember our life together and not mourn her death. Then she died in my arms." Genya picked up another shot and filled it. "And so, I celebrate our anniversary." He downed the glass.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to open up old wounds," said Yoko, sounding properly abashed. This was terrible, since this mysterious former wife had ruined her and Genya's mood. "If I knew, I wouldn't have asked."
"Don't be." Genya carefully set down the glass. "Because you're not. No one's sorrow is greater than your own, no matter how trivial it may be."
"Hey! I didn't..." Yoko was about to protest.
"But I do thank you, for acting as if you were." Genya said in his usual wisdom. "I haven't talked about Sonia for a long time and needed to talk about her." He then looked at Yoko speculatively. "You resemble her, a bit. She had wavy golden hair with blue eyes. But she was much more proper, unforgiving," he chuckled a little, "and blunt."
The woman was completely taken away by the off handed comment and not sure if he was complimenting or insulting her.
After a long moment, he stood up and gestured for her. "Come."
"What?" Yoko was completely confused.
"Now that you have the aperitif, it's only proper that I, the host, treat you to dinner."
Yoko looked at him, wide eyed in disbelief.
"You're not about to refuse, are you?"
For that, Yoko only gave a smile.