A/N: A while ago, I was challenged by a friend to prove someone wrong. They had said that all Canon/OC romances were Instant Mary-Sues.
And I suppose that this is my thrilling journey to do so.
I was incredulous.
"We're doing what now?" I asked my Mother, still not quite believing what I'd heard her say a moment ago. For the fourth time in three months we were moving, this wasn't too much of a shock, after all, it had happened three times already. Unlike those times, however, we were moving abroad. Not merely a skip over the English Channel either. We were moving to Japan.
I had barely grasped the knowledge of chopstick use a year ago and speaking Japanese was utterly out of the question, as was any knowledge of even their most basic customs. The idea of moving there to live seemed at best, fantastical and ridiculous.
'What would happen if I insulted someone?' I thought, feeling a mild swell of panic in my chest. Before my impending hysteria got too out of hand, my Mother raised a hand and set about attempting to assuage a few of my fears.
"Sophie, have I ever steered you wrong?" She asked before I raised an eyebrow, there had been a few instances in the past…As if reading my mind, she laughed and threw up both hands in mock defeat. "Okay, don't answer that question. But, I'm your Mother, I wouldn't just leap into an area of the world we knew nothing about."
I leant forward out of the beige sofa I was sitting on and rested my elbows in my knees, deep-breathing techniques calming my pulse. I looked up after a moment, at my Mother opposite me on her red-leather chair, inviting her to keep talking.
"We'll be moving to an English-speaking neighbourhood to live with your Aunt on your Father's side, you remember her right?" I frowned at her words, trying to place the memory, I hadn't come into contact with any of my paternal relatives after the divorce five years ago. I shook my head and Mother took the hint, elaborating. "The one with the unfortunately bleached hair and the two kids?" I choked on thin air as I laughed at her description. Regardless of her job as a Real Estate Agent, my Mother held few punches when it came to describing people.
"Aunt Sandra and the terrible twosome?" I asked, nodding along with my words as memories came to the fore, "how could I even forget them?"
Mum snorted at my words, levelling a serious look at me before speaking. "I've already enrolled you into a school."
My good humour vanished in a flash.
"What?" I nearly shrieked, bombshells were dropping left, right, and centre. "Mum, no! You know what I'm like with schools! There's a reason you took me out of my last one in the first place..." Whining wasn't my usual weapon of choice, but it was true. She had removed me from Formal Education when I was thirteen, the reasons why were numerous but boiled down to me spending three months in hospital and the expulsion of an older student. They weren't the happiest memories.
"I'm perfectly aware why I removed you from that environment, I was the one who did it after all." She pursed her lipsticked lips at me, vaguely amused. "But I was hoping that you weren't so precocious anymore. What happened was horrendous, but you had your own part to play in it."
I sighed, defeated, and slumped back into the sofa. She was right, unfortunately. I had been an obnoxious and mean-spirited person three years ago, all too easily influenced by people around me. My words were laced with weariness. "Okay. I'll try and reign it in, but if you get a call from the school telling you that I've made a break for freedom-"
Mum smirked and rolled her eyes, "I'll pay the bail money."
Four months after that conversation and we were leaving a long-haul plane flight. Unfortunately, the only movie that had been available the whole time was "Mamma Mia!" A development sure to take its toll on any sane person, let alone on my sleep-deprived brain. Five hours after arrival and we stepped into the cool night smog of Japan's Westernised neighbourhood.
One thing I could say about Japan so far, you could throw a javelin at the sky and it would stick there. I thought living in London was bad, here, you couldn't move for people. Not to mention neon signs that blinded and buildings so tall that everyone had an inferiority complex.
"Did it really need to be that long?" I moaned, talking about our trip through Customs & Excise. My Mother shot me a look that was a mixture of amusement and annoyance.
"No. No it didn't, but I really don't think that they appreciate sixteen-year-olds talking to them like they're children." I scoffed at that, attempting to hide my smugness but failing.
"Oh come on. 'Have you ever been a part of a Terrorist or Subversive Organisation?' Really?" I rolled my eyes, "And a Terrorist is going to say what? 'Yes. Yes I am. Oh confound you, you sneaky, sneaky questions. If only I knew how to fool you.' I mean seriously." A disgusted noise came from the back of my throat. "Do I look like I could do anything other than accountancy in this outfit?" I gestured to the black three-piece suit I was wearing, exasperated. Mother wore one nigh-on the same as mine in cut, save for the fact that hers was beige and she swapped trousers for a skirt. I looked over at her as we sat down on one of the hard plastic benches to rest a little after our grilling.
"Yes, but if you'd just answered them like a respectful-" I snorted, she laughed, "-My point exactly."
"What? Photography Club is a valid subversive organisation. They meet often and in darkened rooms." Mum laughed loudly at my words, throwing her head back and letting her red hair out of it's bun as she did so.
"Okay, I'll give you that, but they wouldn't have had to have kept us there for four more hours had you not have said that, 'Due to you being the vice-president of the London chapter of a fanclub, you knew how to kill a person without any forensic evidence being left.'" She glanced back at me, smirking slightly, before motioning for me to get up and continue moving towards the exit of the airport.
"In my defence," I answered, my best 'rational' voice in place, "I was just quoting a character, they didn't have to take me so seriously."
"It's their job to take things like that seriously."
As Mum sheparded me towards an idling taxi I dragged my small black luggage case out onto the street behind me, trundling it over the feet of several Japanese businessmen by accident. I winced and waved an apology at them, silently resolving that my Japanese vocabulary needed an awful amount of work.
The scrawny taxi driver shocked both my Mother and I by lifting mine and her luggage cases, plunking them into the boot of the car before he re-seated himself as we were buckling ourselves in.
"Uhm," Mum consulted a scrap of paper that she held between her immaculately manicured nails, "Domino City? Muzi Road?" She asked, not knowing whether or not the man spoke English. He showed no sign of understanding until he pulled out into the busy street. Lights crept slowly past us as the night-time traffic oozed along the road. I turned to talk to Mum but saw that she was texting someone at high-speed, scuppering my plans. My Mother was ever the businesswoman. It was the main reason for our moves, her work as an estate agent. That's how she got her paws on the previous places we lived before anyone else and it was also the reason why she was switching to talking on her mobile.
"Yes-no-I think so-well, could we-" and so-on. I tuned her out and decided to look out of the window on my side, finding quickly that even at one in the morning the streets were still packed and the neon lighting doused the place in a weird, multicoloured light. All the buildings blended into one another after a while, a delightful grey smear outside the taxi windows.
Apart from one.
As we left the hustle of the airport behind and neared our destination, Mother was still arguing with a client and I was still staring aimlessly out of the window, my forehead resting on the cool glass as my eyes began to burn from lack of sleep. A single building caught my eye and made me sit up a little straighter in my seat. The main reasons were the three massive dragon statues flanking the entryway, a curious addition to any building. The taxi halted at a red light and I eyed the building suspiciously. Something about it jarred me for some reason, the architecture jarred me. Being the daughter of a lifelong property saleswoman, I noticed architecture. It was only as we pulled away from the building that I noticed why something disconcerted me. There was full size arena on the roof, visible from even as far below as us.
"Idiocy." I muttered. I hadn't actually realised that I had said it aloud until I heard the driver start sniggering at me. Frowning, I pursed my lips and eyed the man. What was so funny? Voicing this question gained me a wink in the rearview mirror for my troubles, shrugging I looked back out of the window for just long enough to catch the name on the front of the building. 'Kaiba Corp'. I was dimly aware of a bell ringing at that piece of information, but it didn't yield anything interesting.
I resigned myself to continuing to gaze listlessly out of the window for the rest of the hour, contemplating what life here was going to be like, and how I'd approach my first day back in Formal Education.
"Sophie Grace McCallaghan!" I jumped out of my quick nap in the back of the cab to the sound of a familiar Chicagoan accent, no doubt waking up the entire street with her over-the-top theatricality. I yawned, stretched and exited the car, bracing myself for impact as Mum paid the driver in Dollars, a currency I hadn't imagined being used in Japan. I was subjected to a heavily perfumed, tall and straw-blonde-haired woman pulling me into a crushing hug for my troubles. I loved her, but there were certain personalities my generally laconic one screamed and ran away from.
"Oh! I haven't seen you in so long! You've gotten so tall! Your hair's so red! You look just like your Father!" I had been standing limply, arms awkwardly patting her back and shooting dagger glares at my Mother for laughing silently as Sandra spoke, but we froze at the mention of my Father. I pulled back from the hug and opened my mouth to make a scathing remark but caught the look Mum was giving me. It clearly said told me to roll with the mention. I sighed heavily and forced a casual tone to my voice.
"There's…still bad blood there, could we...?" I gestured to the house. Sandra looked at me pityingly and shot an empathetic glance at Mum, who was smiling tightly at her.
"Yes. Yes darling, of course." She led the way while speaking as I trailed along behind her, whispering to Mother.
"Why can't I tell her that I hate him?" I asked, my Mother shook her head.
"He's still her brother, even if he we dislike him, she is entitled to her 'he made a mistake' mantra." I snorted at her words, hiking my suitcase up over the doorframe and into the cosy-feeling family house of Sandra Jane Dosey. A quick look around and for the first time in a new country I felt out of place. The irony that it came, not as I was in the actual city, but as I entered the place that was meant to be my new home was not lost on me. I felt out-of-place in the 'Country Farm' atmosphere that the interior decorating radiated and I could tell that Mum was feeling it too. The places we usually lived were minimalisticly decorated. Cream walls, beige carpets, and black bedspreads. We were unused to ducks on the wall, a plastic fire glowing away, small roses bespattered on cream wallpaper, and green Winsor-backed chairs with tassles hanging from them.
I loved the look of it.
But it just wasn't me.
Ever since removing me from school, I had formed an even closer bond with my Mother. She went from being family, to a best friend at the same time. But we were a generally understated duo, with stream-lined everything, sarcastic chatter, and a minor library no matter where we lived. This, even from its look, was clear it housed a happy, sing-around-the-campfire, family of three who still obviously kept the memory of their Father alive through photos above the fireplace. I sighed, tuning back into whatever the ex-Sisters-in-Law were talking about.
"Oh Josie, you should have seen it last year, the Azaleas were in full bloom, all of them were a pink, I have no idea why, last year they were blue, but this year they looked so pretty!" I rested my luggage case against the open-plan kitchen counter as a snippet of knowledge surfaced at her words. Gardening wasn't my forté, but I at least knew this much.
"Oh," I said, looking to Sandra and away from one of the ducks, "That'd be the soil, Azaleas are special like that. They turn blue if the PH of the soil is more alkali than acid. My guess is someone changed their fertiliser and it changed the PH of the soil." I glanced at the pitch-darkness outside as I spoke, feeling vaguely self-conscious for some reason. "That's why it resulted in you getting different coloured flowers." Sandra smiled at my answer, or at me. I was unsure when it came to her, forever warm and bubbly.
"You see! Having you two around will even help my gardening! Where'd you learn that? I don't imagine you watching a gardening program." She laughed a little after speaking and I smiled slightly at her infectious attitude.
"Gran, actually-" I halted a second before pushing through the minor voice-break. "Gran told me a while back." There was something a little wan about mentioning her, she'd been the best person I knew until she died a few years back and I missed her dearly. Sandra smiled at the memory of my Mother's Mother and went back to talking to Mum about the garden and the area we were now in. I filled a kettle and switched it on before excusing myself from the kitchen to unpack. It was three in the morning and I just knew those two could talk for hours. I lifted my case up in the air for three feet before plonking it onto the third step of the staircase that led to the first floor. This would take some time and a lot of upper body strength.
I had perhaps equal amounts of both.
I finally reached the landing of the first floor without incident or breath, who'd have thought that forty-six stairs could be so gruelling? Noting the three doors on this floor and the staircase leading up from the end of the dusky pink hall, my guess was that Mum's and Sandra's rooms were up there. Mine had been clearly sign-posted with a post-it note and appeared to be between the twin's rooms.
'Lovely.' I inwardly cursed my Aunt for doing this to me. I loved my cousins, but they were energetic and I was, as a rule, generally awkward around children. I opened the door as quietly as possible and sighed, pleased.
This room was my heaven.
Cream walls, sparsely decorated, and a wooden desk on one side of the room with a bookshelf on the other. Sandra was obviously leaving me space to decorate for myself, but I felt a surge of gratitude for the woman who knew at least enough about me to shy away from plastic ducks in this room. I made my way to the middle of the room and sat on the black bedspread of the single bed, lying on my back and feeling a few cricks as I did so. The only downside to me seemed the adjoining doors on two parallel walls. I supposed they led to either twin's room, a vaguely unwelcome thought.
"Thank you Sandra." I whispered, trying not to wake the bat-eared girls as I rose with mild difficultly and knelt beside my case, unzipping it as quietly as I could muster and taking out the four things I had packed into it. My laptop, my books, a few clothes and a framed picture of my Great Dane dog, Sasha, who was currently in quarantine. She'd be through in six months, and I awaited that day with baited breath. Placing the picture on the side-table to the left of my new bed, I set about putting everything in a decent location. The rest of our possessions would be arriving in three months time, but I had brought with me the things I knew I needed the most. Just after I finished hanging up the clothes I had brought with me in the railing wardrobe on one side of the room I heard one of the linked doors open and light feet move across the beige carpet. I turned to face the sound.
"Soso..." A very tired, very blonde, very sweet little girl of only five trundled up to me in a post-sleep daze and looked up, dragging her teddy behind her. The poor bugger was missing an eye, an ear, and was worn in places I didn't even know could wear, but my youngest cousin hadn't let him go since she was born.
"Yes, sweetheart?" I asked, crouching in front of her and warming my voice up a few notches from my usual terseness.
"Are you living with us now?" She asked quietly, hugging her teddy to her chest. I smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Yes, Chloe. I am. So is your Auntie Josie, actually. Do you mind?" I asked, feigning feeling put-out, the little blonde girl shook her head quickly and smiled, waking up a little.
"I'm happy that you'll be here! Is Sasa coming too?" She asked, lisping over the 'sh'. I nodded and then faked a frown.
"Shouldn't you be in bed, little missy?" I asked her, ruffling her hair and then inspecting my hand, the frown real this time. 'Why is her hair sticky?' I decided not to pursue that train of thought lest it lead to something I'd rather not know, instead resolving to bleach my hands off in the bathroom downstairs the second I got her back to bed. Chloe nodded her head as I steered her back to her room, telling her goodnight and then closing the door. I quickly searched for a lock on the door to no avail. Apparently that was a feature that only extended to the main door of my room. Instead I wedged the desk chair under the doorknob that led to Chloe's room and the handle to my suitcase under the doorknob of the one that led to Sunny's room. Not wishing to encounter the small children again. I loved them dearly, but my interactions with anyone under ten generally left me feeling more than slightly awkward.
I followed up on my earlier resolvement and headed to the bathroom.