About an hour later, Matt arrived back at his apartment. Whilst fishing in his bag for his keys, he heard a very distinctive crash from inside the apartment. Mildly panicked, he found his keys and flung the door open.
The sight that met him shocked him so much he took a step backwards. The apartment was a mess, and standing in the middle of the living room was his father, with one of his mother's vases held high in the air. He looked over at Matt, and slowly lowered the vase, before dropping it on the ground. It thudded loudly, but didn't break.
Matt closed the door behind him, not taking his eyes off his father.
"Hi, Matt," his Dad said, slurred and clearly drunk.
That was enough. Matt snapped.
"What the fuck are you doing!"
His Dad shrugged, and sunk to his knees, sobbing.
Matt stared, wide eyed, his mouth closing to keep the harsh words he was about to say away. He took one more quick look around the wrecked apartment before walking over to his father and kneeling down in front of him.
"I have no idea what to do with you," he admitted.
His father didn't reply for a moment, his crying outburst seized in what Matt knew was more the parental desire to seem strong for his child, than actual clearing of grief.
"I was fired today, Matt. They said my standard of work has gone downhill... That I'm not dressed smartly these days..."
Matt continued to stare in disbelief at what was happening before him.
"How do you explain your standard of work is lessened because the only women you've ever loved is shacked up with another guy, Matt? How do you explain your clothes are creased because you don't even own an iron, because she took it with her? And that even if you did, you wouldn't know how to use it!"
"Don't they know what's going on right now?"
"No."
"Well, then, tell them? They'd probably be more lenient if they knew what was happening here."
His father stood up, and nearly fell over again thanks to the clearly excessive amount of alcohol in his system.
"Go and sleep," Matt said, his voice bordering pleading. "I'll clean up. Just go and rest."
His Dad looked as if he would argue, but he didn't. He nodded, and stumbled towards his bedroom without another word, closing the door behind him quietly.
Matt slowly got to his feet, surveying the damage around him. It wasn't as bad as it initially seemed- his mother had been keeping some of her things in boxes in their living room, and it seemed his Dad had ripped through all of them, thrown the contents around the apartment, and smashed a few of the valuables.
Good thing she doesn't own any antiques...
Moving a half empty box off the sofa, he collapsed into it, instinctively grabbing a cushion and holding it closely. The tidying up would have to wait- he needed to recover from the past couple of hours first.
He picked up the phone after a moment, putting down the pillow, and dialing his mother's number. It rang a few times, and kicked into the answer phone.
You've reached Nancy. I'm not home right now- leave a message and I'll get back to you.
"Mom, its Matt. Call me."
He hung up, sighing, and flicking through the saved numbers on the cordless phone. He flicked until he found 'work', and dialed.
Someone needs to take control of this, and it's not going to be Dad.
"Hello, Fuji TV station."
"Uh… hi. I'm not sure who I want to speak to, actually. I'm Matt Ishida, I need to talk to someone about my father. Apparently he was fired today?"
"Ah." The line went silent for a moment. "I'll put you through to someone, hold."
Thirty seconds or so later, and he heard a quiet voice on the line.
"Matt Ishida? How can I help you?"
Matt sighed. "You fired my Dad today, right?"
There was an uncomfortable silence. "Yes, I did. His conduct of work has been pretty awful lately-"
"I know," Matt interjected. "I know why you did it, Sir."
A silence again. "So, how can I help you…?"
"Do you know why his work's been suffering?"
"I asked him, but he didn't want to give an answer. He shrugged it off like there were no underlying problems anywhere."
"My mum just got herself a new boyfriend, and he's never really got over their split. His conduct of work has been going down because he's been drinking to deal with it."
The third silence. "He never said anything..."
"I know. I came home today to a trashed apartment. He's falling apart and I don't know how to help him…"
Matt stopped abruptly, hearing his voice cracking and betraying his emotions to the stranger on the other end of the phone. He took a deep breath, pulled his composure together, and continued.
"Would you reconsider your decision, Sir? Maybe give him a few days off to get his head straight? I know it's asking a lot, but I don't know what else to do…"
"I haven't filed the official papers regarding his dismissal yet. It would be going against various kinds of protocols to not-file them, and pretend it didn't happen."
Matt didn't reply.
"But… I understand why you ask. And I'd be willing to throw those particular protocols away, just this once, and give him a second chance- he really is one of my best employees. But only if your father calls me tomorrow and discusses what you've told me today, and makes it clear when he comes back after a week of leave, that his work will no longer suffer because of his personal life."
"Thank you. That means a lot, and I know it will to him too. He'll call you tomorrow, Sir."
"Alright. You take care now, and your father too. My condolences to you both. Goodbye, Matt."
The line went dead. Matt slowly put the cordless back into its cradle to recharge, and leant back in the chair. He closed his eyes, taking the moment to relax.
At least I've solved one of the more immediate problems…
He tried not to let his mind wander back to TK, but he couldn't help it. He pushed it away, feeling his sanity slipping away with every moment he worried about him. Feeling the want for his old habits, wanting the drug-induced clouds to cover his mind and make him forget everything…
Need to stay in control, Matt. Pull yourself together.
He stood, intending to distract himself with setting the apartment straight. He noticed a half empty bottle of whiskey on the coffee table and sighed, picking it up. Finding the lid on the floor, he sealed the bottle and looked around for a suitable place to stash it until his father had his drinking habits more under control. Seeing no-where suitable, he entered his own bedroom, and hid it in his wardrobe.
It took him a while to set things straight. As he was putting the finishing touches to the cleaning together, he heard a knock at the front door.
And there's TK, I imagine.
It wasn't TK, it was Tai, who walked straight in, pulled the door out of Matt's hand, closing it and sighing. He was clearly not impressed at Matt's display with TK earlier, still.
"Good evening to you too," Matt said.
Tai eyed the apartment slowly. "You've been cleaning?"
"Dad trashed the place, I had no choice. He's asleep, so try to be quiet."
"He what?"
Matt sighed and sunk into a chair at the kitchen table. Tai sat opposite him.
"He was fired today. I called his work and explained everything that's been going on, and they agreed to give him another chance. He doesn't know yet, he's been asleep whilst I tidied up."
"And what has been going on, Matt? All I've seen of you these past few weeks has been enough to worry me, and when I do get you alone, you won't talk."
"So you're here to rectify that?"
Matt was surprised how cold his voice sounded. He was slowly becoming more unhinged from the situation around him, he could feel it, but he couldn't stop it.
Tai shrugged. "If you'll let me."
Matt laughed shortly.
"You can take your temper out on me, go ahead. Just tell me why."
No response. Matt stared at the worn oak table, tracing slight cracks in it with his finger. Tai sighed softly.
"You're not going to crack, are you?" He asked quietly.
Matt shrugged.
Oh, I want to alright.
"I won't let you," Tai said sternly, as though he had heard Matt's thoughts. "You don't want to go back there again, right? The hospital, the dialysis, the seclusion ward?"
"Of course not," Matt snapped.
"Then rather than sitting here sulking, why don't you face up to whatever's getting to you, and deal with it?"
Whatever Matt was going to say- which wouldn't have been pretty- it was lost on the tip of his tongue as he heard the door to his father's bedroom open. He looked pretty rough as he ran a hand through his hair, and walked slowly to the table. Sitting down, he looked up at Tai, nodding a hello to him. He then turned to Matt.
"I'm sorry you had to see that earlier, Son."
Matt shrugged. "It's okay. I called your work and explained things. If you call your boss tomorrow, he's willing to take you back."
His Dad looked at him, gratitude clear in his eyes.
"I will. Thank you, Matt."
"Why didn't you just tell him what was going on?"
His Dad shrugged, and chose not to reply. He stood, shakily, and grabbed his jacket from the sofa. Grabbing his cigarettes, he lit one and made his way back to the table with an ashtray.
"Don't even think about berating me right now," he snapped at Matt, who looked set to protest. He glanced at Tai, and sighed. "Sorry. You've caught me at a bad time."
"It's alright," Tai said with a shrug. He'd seen Matt's Dad's temper flare a few times, and was mostly used to it.
"Tomorrow I'm going to buy an iron," Matt said. "And I'm going to show you how to use it."
His Dad nodded.
"When's your next meeting thing?"
"Couple of days."
"Are you going?"
Matt shrugged. His Dad held the cigarette out to him again, as he had done before. Matt waved the smoke it emitted away, folding his arms across his chest angrily.
"Don't mess with me," he snapped.
"Still edgy?" His Dad laughed shortly. "Then the answer's a yes."
There was an awkward silence for a moment, until his Dad spoke again.
"I didn't think you smoked normal cigarettes- that was just a front, right? So why are you craving them?"
Matt shrugged. "I don't know. I think I just want anything to help me forget right now."
He stopped talking immediately; realizing Tai was looking at him intently. He didn't want to burden him, or his father, with his problems when they had other things to worry about.
"Forget what?"
His father wasn't going to let it go it seemed.
Matt shrugged again.
"Nothing really," he answered, his voice breaking. He stared at the table, willing the sudden tears that had sprung to his eyes away.
Tai shook his head.
"That's the second time," he said, his voice slightly angry. "Second time someone has asked you what's wrong, and you've answered 'nothing' whilst clearly trying not to cry. Enough. Out with it."
Matt didn't reply, still trying to keep him emotions checked.
"Now. You're going to tell me how long you've been craving, and then we're going to call the hospital," he said, his voice leaving no room for Matt to reason with him. "This isn't something you should be ignoring."
""But-"
"I don't want to hear 'but'."
Matt shook his head slowly.
"Right now."
No reply.
"What are you going to do then, huh? Put yourself back in hospital? Go and get yourself killed!"
"What's got into you," Matt muttered.
"I don't want to hear 'I've been craving' from you," Tai said. "I don't ever want to see you like that again. That week you were hooked up to that machine, that was hell, Matt. For me, for your family, for all your friends. Forgive me for being a little angry that you'd consider putting yourself there again."
"It wasn't a conscious decision you know!" Matt snapped, standing up and balling his fists in anger. "It's not like I woke up that day and decided, hey, let's fuck my kidneys up and worry my friends and family! I was aware of everything in that week, Tai, and I didn't like it that much either you know."
"Matt!"
Matt stopped at the tone in his father's voice.
"Sit down."
Matt did as he was told.
"Stop being an asshole. If you won't tell him what's wrong, fine, do whatever you damn well want. But don't take your inability to deal with your problems in an adult manner out on other people."
"You can talk," Matt snapped harshly.
"What did I do to you, Matt? I wrecked Nancy's belongings, drank alcohol in my own home, and stopped the moment I heard you walk in the door. I didn't ask for you to tidy up, you offered. I didn't ask for you to call my work, you took it upon yourself."
Matt opened his mouth to reply, and couldn't.
"And what have you done, Matt? You turned to drugs because you were too weak to face up to your problems. And we nearly lost you because of it. And now, when things are looking down, here you are, wanting to walk that same road?"
That was enough for Matt. He felt five years old again, being told off for touching things in the supermarket that he shouldn't. Every word his father spoke, as harsh as it was, was true.
He stood, without looking either of them in the eye, and walked towards his bedroom.
"You're running away again?" His father called. Matt stopped, but didn't turn around. "Fine. When you want to talk, there will be people to listen."
Matt stood for another moment, before opening his bedroom door and closing it gently, and threw the bolt.
Mr. Ishida sighed and lit another cigarette. "Thanks for trying, Tai."
"What's been going on with TK, Mr. Ishida? I know something's wrong. He hit Kari today at school."
"He what!"
"It's okay," Tai said hurriedly. "We had a talk with him. He's definitely sorry, and he apologized to Kari."
"That isn't the point."
"I know something's going on with him. What is it?"
Mr. Ishida shook his head slowly. "Nancy has a new boyfriend, and she seems to be favoring him to TK. TK has some kind of problem with him, but that's to be expected. It's really nothing major, and I have no idea why Matt is so worried about him."
"Maybe Matt thinks it is something major?"
"Possibly. He should be thinking of his health right now, he's still vulnerable. I don't like to be harsh with him, but he won't listen any other way."
They lapsed into silence, and wished they hadn't as they heard muffled, barely-controlled sobbing coming from Matt's room.
Tai stood, and walked over to the door, knocking gently on it.
"Open the door, Matt," he said gently.
He expected resilience, but instead after a moment he heard the door unclick. He pushed it open as Matt walked over to his bed and lay down on it, face down in the pillow.
"Crying isn't going to solve it," Tai said softly, kneeling down beside the bed and sighing softly.
"I'm not," Matt said, his voice muffled by the pillow. Tai chose not to push it.
"Your Dad filled me in on the details, Matt. The stuff that's going on with TK… You don't need to worry about, really. It's all normal stuff. Of course he isn't going to like your mum's new boyfriend-"
"I said that," Matt interrupted, taking his head out the pillow. His eyes were red, but he was no longer crying. "And he swore blind I was wrong, and that he had good reasons for disliking him. Did Dad tell you last week I had to collect him from the tube station at 3am, when he was drunk?"
Tai raised an eyebrow. "No, he didn't. That doesn't sound like TK."
"And you saw what happened with Kari today. Something isn't adding up."
"But, really, Matt… If TK doesn't want to tell you what that is, then just let it rest maybe? You need to worry about yourself right now."
"I'm fine."
"You're not. Stop saying that. This goes back to when we were eleven doesn't it? And your complex that he doesn't need you, right?"
"No."
"Then let it go. TK can take care of himself, he doesn't need his big brother breathing down his neck all the time. Stop thinking of him, and think of you. How about you? How are you feeling?"
Matt stopped to think about this, and felt those thoughts creeping up on him again. He shut his eyes and shook his head.
"If you're craving, you can't ignore it. Ignoring it ends up with you eventually snapping, and going back to it."
"I'm not craving it," Matt admitted. "I'm craving anything that will help. Anything at all."
"That's still not much better. You should still call your doctor."
"I can handle it."
"Really? Show me, then."
"Huh?"
"Show me you can handle it. Because right now, I'm not seeing it."
Tai stood and left without another word, leaving Matt to think what he had said over.Later that evening, Matt awoke to the sound of his bedroom door opening. Startled, he sat up. Tai was standing in the doorway.
"You've been asleep a couple of hours, your Dad suggested I come wake you up."
Matt rubbed his eyes and flicked on his side lamp.
"You're still here?" He queried, not meaning it to be as impolite as it sounded. Tai didn't take it as such.
"Yeah, me and your Dad have been hanging out and watching TV."
Matt got off the bed, glancing at the time. Nine pm.
"No TK yet?"
"No. Your Dad called your mum about half an hour ago, apparently he was home for a bit, but she went to the shops, and he was gone again when she got back."
"Don't suppose her boyfriend was there when she got back too?"
Tai shrugged. "He didn't ask."
"TK didn't say where he was going?"
"Seems not."
Matt frowned and picked up his mobile from his bedside table. Tai walked across to him and pulled it out of his hand, setting it back again.
"Let him fight his own battles," he scolded. "He'll call you if he needs you."
Matt scowled at his friend, but complied, following him out the room.
His father looked up from the sofa. He looked a lot better now, having showered and changed his clothing. He looked happier at least.
"I cooked dinner," he said proudly. "Yours is in the microwave."
Matt raised an eyebrow. "Wow, I'm proud. I'm not hungry right now though, I'll get it in a bit."
His Dad grinned widely and turned back to the TV. Matt walked to the kitchen, getting a glass from the cupboard and pouring himself some water. Tai sat at the table behind him.
"How are you feeling?"
Matt frowned, watching the glass fill with water as he held it under the tap.
"Been better."
There was a knock at the front door. Matt placed his water on the table with Tai, and went to open it.
TK stood before him. Had it been any other time, Matt would have declared 'I told you so' to Tai, but instead, Matt stared at his little brother, trying to register what he was seeing.
His already blackened eye was flamed and irritated, and below his eye he had a large cut. It wasn't bleeding, but it clearly had been, quite harshly.
TK stared at Matt, his mouth opening and closing trying to form words, and his eyes rapidly tearing up.
Matt grabbed him, pulled him in, and slammed the door. Guiding him to the table, he knelt next to him as TK sat down, clearly concerned.
"TK?"
Their Dad approached the table, concerned at the sudden appearance of his youngest son late at night. He noticed the cut, and his eyes narrowed.
"You got into another fight?"
"N-no," TK stammered, hiding his face in his hands, breathing heavily in an attempt to control the sobs that clearly wanted to escape. "Ikusa… Ikusa hit me…"
He broke down, crying harshly into his hands. Matt stood and wrapped his arms around his brother protectively, looking up at Tai. His face was blank with shock.
His father was already gathering his coat and keys, eyes narrowed in anger. Matt thought it might be best to stop him, but chose not to, silently wanting vigilante justice in this situation too.
His father opened the front door, without a word, but closed it again and stalked back into the room. He picked up the phone, and dialed Nancy.
"Nancy, I'm coming to see you. We need to talk. I want that bastard out of your apartment before I get there. If he's not gone, he'll be leaving by ambulance when I get there.
"Don't argue with me, I'm leaving now. Get him out."
He hung the phone up, stopping by the table on his way to the door.
"Come on TK," he said softly. "You boys come too. I'll need you to restrain me if he's there."
"I think we'll all need restraining," Tai muttered, standing.
Matt released TK, whose crying fit had slowed.
"You should have told me," he said, more harshly than he wanted.
"You wouldn't have believed me."
"Of course I would have!"
"And you have your own problems to deal with… I didn't want to be the reason you did that again…"
Matt refrained from telling him 'you almost were', standing instead and collecting his shoes. TK followed silently.
. . . . . . . . . .
Arriving at Nancy's apartment, Matt was torn between hoping Ikusa was there, and hoping he wasn't. Tai had decided to stay in the car and wait- feeling it wasn't his place to be there.
As his mother opened the door, it was clear Ikusa wasn't there. Matt breathed a sigh of relief.
Nancy took one look at TK and gasped.
"TK! What happened?"
"Your asshole boyfriend happened," Mr. Ishida spat, pushing past her into the apartment. "Is he here?"
"N-no, he left like you asked…"
Matt and TK followed their father inside, both a little scared of the anger radiating from him.
No-one hurts my kids," Mr. Ishida snarled at Nancy. "No-one."
"I-I didn't know, TK never said!"
"I tried!" TK protested. "I tried to tell you I didn't like him, I tried to hint there was a reason why, but you always brushed over it!"
Nancy fell silent.
"I'll call him," she said. "And tell him he isn't welcome back here anymore. I don't understand… He seemed so nice…"
"And apparently he didn't like the fact you had kids from a previous relationship," Mr. Ishida admonished sourly.
"Anybody that wants to be with me has to accept my children," Nancy said sternly. "Don't belittle me, my kids mean the world to me."
"I can see that, since you didn't listen to TK when he tried to warn you that guy is a-"
"Oh for God's sake!" Matt yelled, losing his temper as he watched his parents argue. "Can you two not be in the same room for more than two minutes without bitching at each other! Just for once, would you stop!"
Both of his parents were shocked into silence immediately. Nancy took the moment to pick up her phone and call Ikusa. She walked into her bedroom with it, closing the door.
"Well that's one kid sorted," Mr. Ishida said with a sigh. "How did you get the cut, TK?"
"He was wearing rings when he hit," TK said smally.
"How many times…?"
TK shook his head in an indication that he didn't want to answer, staring at the floor.
"Should we go to the hospital and get that checked out?"
"No, don't," TK said, sounding almost panicked.
"We're going to be stopping by there anyway," his father said. "So you might as well."
"We are?" Matt asked.
"I'm having you checked back into the clinic."
Matt froze.
"If you can't handle your urges, people need to handle them for you."
Matt shook his head, involuntarily taking a step backwards. "I'm not going back there!"
"Oh, yes you are. And you'll stay there until you can walk out and deal with life like an adult. Your mood swings have been terrible lately, Matt. You're clearly incredibly highly strung. You need somewhere where you can calm down, and sort your head out."
Matt opened his mouth to protest savagely, but closed it again. By doing so, he'd be proving his father right about mood swings.
"I'll see you in the car," he sighed, opening the front door. He smiled at TK before he left, who smiled back.
I can't go back there… I can't…
But he's right. I can't control this. I keep saying I can, but I can't
He opened the unlocked car door, getting into the back with Tai.
"What happened?" Tai asked, seeing the distressed look on Matt's face.
"She's breaking up with him. He wasn't there when we got there."
"Well, that's good right?"
"Mm."
"So why do you look so upset?"
"My Dad wants to check me back into the recovery clinic," Matt whispered, closing his eyes and bowing his head. "And I'm ashamed of myself, for lacking the control I need…"
"Whoa, whoa. Lacking the control? You haven't done anything, right?"
"No…"
"You haven't even lit a cigarette or taken a shot of alcohol, right?"
"Right…"
"So where's this lack of control?"
Matt stammered with an answer for a moment. "But, Dad… He said I needed to go back…"
"Not because you lack control, Matt. Because you've had cravings and you clearly don't know how to deal with it. He's right about the mood swings, and you can't get by like that. For what it's worth, I'm proud that you haven't caved in, and I'm sure your family is, too."
Matt smiled smally, looking up as the front car door opened and his father got in.
"TK's staying home," he said, putting his car key into the ignition.
"Give me another chance," Matt asked quietly. "Please. I'll deal with this better, just don't take me back there."
His father looked into the car wing mirror, catching Matt's eye.
"On one condition."
"What?"
His father's eyes had a wicked glint in them. "You tell us what happened at that first meeting."
Matt slunk back in his seat. "I thought you were serious about checking me in."
"Oh I'm deadly serious. But you got me a second chance at work, so I owe it to you to let you keep to your word. I'm just wondering what actually happened, since you've kept it so secret."
Matt folded his arms, sulking slightly.
"I tried to leave and ran into a door that was pull instead of push."
"Is that all?" Tai said, voicing what Matt's father was about to say. "That's what you made a big fuss about?"
"You weren't there!"
"And I'd have laughed at you if I was for getting so worked up over that. Man, you have been highly strung lately huh?"
"That's exactly what I said," Mr. Ishida interjected.
Matt continued to sulk, but he felt brighter than he had done in days.
TK will be alright. And so will I. I can survive this. I have to, because the alternatives just aren't worth thinking about.
I'll do everything I can to fight this, Dad. I promise.

Author's Notes:

Well that only took about 18 months, wow. I suck.

It's been a very long time. Since this fic has been in the works a long time now, I may have a couple of parts where time doesn't quite flow correctly or something. I think I worked everything out, but I'm only human, and may have made a mistake.

To anyone who actually recognizes me…Hi! Yes, I'm alive. Yes, I will finish Judas (one day ). I've been living with a pretty sucky sickness these past couple of years, so I haven't really been in the mood to write, nor had much time to devote to it.

Reviews or mails would be awesome, but not necessary. I only hope, even if you don't tell me so, that you enjoyed it. If so, I'm happy. And if not, well, uh, I don't care, I write for my own pleasure and post in the hopes others can enjoy it too :D

(Also, the reason the parts are split into two each is because the site was uploading each fic incomplete, and this is the only way I know of fixing that :D)