Minimum Damage:

Akihiko (Age Six)

Sunny Side Up: Chapter I

Thin shoulders tense at the sounds emanating from the hallway. Pale eyes drift down to the fine china plate and fix on the happy face arranged there by Cook. Two sunny-side up eyes, a biscuit nose, and a crisp, bacon-curled smile cheerfully greet Akihiko.

The six-year-old frowns. He had fleeting hopes of escaping the morning unscathed.

Given the row and the crashing of crystal, the drunken shouts and sobs that wept through the walls of his bedroom last night, he thought today would most likely be one of her "bed" days. He knows it's horrible of him to feel disappointed that it appears otherwise.

"I don't care. You're my editor. You find a way for me to get an extension! My last book made your company's year, so I think I'm entitled to a little bloody accommodation! Don't you?"

Try as he might to sit perfectly still, Akihiko can't help but shift as the voice drawing closer rubs against all his raw spots. He's always felt more than a small bit of wonder at how the woman can manage to sound so hard and so soft simultaneously.

"What do you expect me to do? I'm blocked! There's only so many different ways to write a fuck and keep it interesting… I know they classify it as romance, But you know what the ladies really want... The pulse and the throb that will keep their panties damp!"

To hear her talk now would shock her loyal followers since out in the world she is the picture of refinement, the perfect lady: always soft spoken, every word carefully chosen, each movement carrying a geisha's grace.

Behind closed doors, however…

A lilting laugh sends a shiver coursing down Akihiko's spine. He's all too familiar with the hard shoals beneath that siren song to hear anything but danger.

"Maybe I need to spend time doing some more research." The laugh sounds again. There's a pause and then the voice become more serious. "Oh, that particular project is over. I threw him out last night, fucking bastard!

"How many does that make? I've lost track for this year eight months ago- back in March… Well, I can't help it if I yearn for passion and find only pricks!

"Darling, you laugh and say I'm terrible but if I was a man you'd be acknowledging my prowess and be urging me on to my next conquest!"

Akihiko regards his breakfast and contemplates whether or not, if the cook had given Egg Man some orange slice ears, his edible companion would have been able to discern the bitterness that has slipped in to fill all the cracks now in between the woman's words. Even without ears Akihiko suspects his cohort has intuited the impending disaster, as his shiny yolk eyes seem to be losing their luster. Akihiko thinks his friend wise, despite his egg-headed shortcomings, and endeavors to adopt a similar expression of blankness. It's the one he has been practicing in the looking glass in his bedroom lately on the nights he's locked in and has grown tired of his other ways of amusing himself.

Last night he was able to keep his "safe face" expression for over an hour, only blinking when his eyes got so dry as to start burning. Given all the drama that was playing in the backdrop, he counts this as quite an accomplishment and his narrow chest puffs ever so slightly at the recollection.

Like a balloon with a slow leak, the soft swell deflates the moment She enters the room.

Akihiko freezes as he feels her gaze sweep over him. He knows he is being assessed, weighed, measured, and no matter how hard he's tries he will somehow come out lacking. He pulls all his courage and raises his head. Aiko Usami is passing the cordless phone to the "new" Tanaka: the butler shipped over from Japan who has just recently taken over his elderly father's post in the household. He has been standing in silent attendance in the formal dining room with Akihiko.

"Fucking editors, Tanaka. Don't ever become a writer," Aiko's voice sounds extremely weary. "Even if it's something as trite as romance novels they'll still try and break you every chance they get."

"Of course, Usami-sama." Tanaka turns away with the phone and when he turns back, a tray bearing a bloody Mary has magically appeared in his hands. Aiko looks at the drink and there is only the barest flicker of longing evident before a practiced curl of disdain curves her lips.

"No," She says quickly. "Coffee... Hot, black... And lots of it."

Despite his desire to remain blank, Akihiko can't help but raise his blond brows at this.

So this is not a "bed" day but a "new start" day instead.

He is pleased that though only six, he knows enough to understand this. It alleviates some of his anxiety and promises the possibility of something that might even turn mildly pleasurable. However, this knowledge also allows him to harden the tender ground of his heart early against any seeds of gentle hope the woman might inadvertently cast there.

He watches her go sit at the other end of the table. She looks immaculate this morning compared with last night's dishabille. She's dressed perfectly. Her hair is carefully coiffed. Her fine-pored skin is flawless, no trace of tears or troubled sleep. Bee stung lips purse and remarkably clear, dark eyes narrow, catching her son's gaze.

"Good morning, Aiko-san," Akihiko says softly.

"Such formality, Autumn, my sweet boy. Come give your mother a proper greeting."

She has been calling him by this for six months now, ever since their return to England after their last brief trip to Japan, refusing to use his Japanese name because of a cross-continental dispute she's currently engaged in with his father.

Akihiko wonders suddenly if "father" is the right word, as Fuyuhiko Usami is a man, who, outside such rare maternal trips, he sees but once a year on his birthday as part of his parents' "arrangement."

While this is not the first time Aiko has taken to calling him by some appellation other than the one he was given at birth, this one has endured the longest. The others usually cycle out and are replaced with another incarnation every few weeks. She even registered him as "Autumn Usami" for the start of school this term. Akihiko looks down at his plate before rising. He finds the blunt Englishness of the name particularly distasteful. Because of it he has been forced to endure mad teasing from the boys at school who relate the name and the prettiness of his foreign beauty to something feminine, therefore making him and his already obvious strangeness all that much more suspect.

Looking down at his yolkan plate partner, Akihiko stifles the sigh that has bubbled in his bony chest. He takes a moment to reach out and flip Mr. Egghead's porky smile upside down.

"Autumn, stop trifling with your food and come here!"

There it is: the lion's roar behind the pussy cat's purr.

Suddenly Akihiko feels much more settled. She had set him a trap with her early offer of informality, but Aiko Usami is still here and knowing this now he can conduct himself appropriately. He rises silently from his spot at the other end of the long table and tries to move as slowly as possible in covering the length between them without appearing as though he is stalling. Drawing nearer, he finds himself in awe as he always does when she's properly put together, with how beautiful the lady Usami is.

She is so pretty.

"Too pretty", she informed him at the age of two, "to be a mother," which is when she exorcised that word from his vocabulary.

He has called her Aiko for years now.

Aiko, however, occasionally refers to herself as "Koko" in those rare moments when she is feeling tender, and those not so rare ones when she's feeling put upon. This was what he originally called her when he first lost his "mother," as the word "Koko" tumbled pleasantly off his two-year-old tongue. Akihiko never uses "Koko" these days, though occasionally Aiko lures him to it: he had all taste for that particular title slapped out of him ages ago.

Arriving at the woman's side, Akihiko can see Aiko's armor is not quite as polished as it looked from a distance. The blush on her cheeks is not natural and there's the palest of purple hues beneath her icy eyes. Seeing this, he's aware she's not disengaged herself from her last "project" quite as easily as she let on in her phone call.

In terms of her past lovers (of which there have been many) he'd found this last one more agreeable than most. In part because the man had a love of motor cars and was quite willing to talk about them with his darling Koko's "six-year-old, orphaned nephew." More so, however, Akihiko found this last of amours congenial, because he liked to take Aiko out on long weekends, leaving "nephew" and staff with extended periods of blissful peace in the Usami's palatial London flat.

Akihiko braces himself against his inclination to wince at her touch as Aiko reaches out and runs long, tapered fingers through his pale blond hair.

"Soft as a ghost," she whispers stroking his white-gold wisps. Akihiko wonders if this is an observation or a wish. Then Aiko's voice changes, becoming somehow both harder and sweeter.

"Your old Koko has been terribly neglectful of late hasn't she, Darling?" Akihiko remains silent at these words, counting the seconds to himself.

The average so far is fifteen.

She must be feeling particularly contrite: this morning she only allows ten to elapse before her usual follow up. "New start, what do you say, Autumn, Love? I promise we will spend a lot more time together. Okay? We'll do loads of fun things… beginning today."

It was the start of a three day weekend and Akihiko's plans were to write today. He is in the middle of a tale about a family of foxes and things are at a critical juncture, the mother fox having just been torn to bits by a pack of lean hounds.

The dark-eyed, blue-blooded vixen before him removes her hand from his head and sighs as though she has just remembered something. "Drat, I forgot all about my damn editor. Sweetie, Koko has to finish her book before she can play.

"Too bad I am fresh out of ideas..." Aiko leans forward, picks a silver spoon up off crisp linen, and stirs the coffee that was silently set on the table mere moments after she sat down. Akihiko notes the sudden sly slant to her eyes. He finally allows himself a soft sigh.

She's so transparent, what does she think? That I am still an infant? I 'll be seven next week.

"Where are you?" He has been reading his mother's fuck books since he was four.

When Aiko discovered her only child's reading, she only encouraged him to continue: her books have replaced his bedtime stories. She says that this is helpful, as her average reader is not much brighter than a five-year-old anyways; never mind the fact her six-year-old son currently reads at a high school level.

"Last chapter, final scene." Cool eyes scrutinize him sharply.

"Where have they fucked so far?"

Neither Akihiko nor his mother notice the silent, standing Tanaka stiffen at his question. Aiko provides a list of locations and Akihiko nods his head slightly. Having overheard her constant complaints about every detail of the plot already, he has a fairly good understanding of what is going on.

It's all so formulaic anyways.

"Have him take her in the stairwell."

Aiko tilts her head. Akihiko watches her stiff curls quiver at the movement. Her lips twist slightly and as always he can't quite make out if it's a sneer or a smile. Then she utters three simple words.

"Tell me more."

Akihiko pauses. He knows if he doesn't provide something, after last night's dissolution he is now going to be her stand in for male distraction until she can secure one that's more suitable. She will no doubt engage him all day unless she's kept busy writing.

"Bent over the railing, tight skirt hiked, black garters, he in a disheveled tuxedo."

Akihiko is simply relating to her the details as he saw them, here in the apartment, less than a week ago. He'd ask her if she doesn't remember, especially after the wicked grin she'd shot him in between her frantic gasps, but it isn't worth the blows he knows would follow. Besides he's certain she doesn't: he could smell the alcohol from where he stood at the base of the stairs.

He supposes that's why she keeps him around. He's become a relatively trouble-free recording device for her, a surrogate memory bank.

"Is the vertigo she feels from the height she's suspended over or is it love?" Akihiko adds this but his tone does not indicate the sarcastic humor he intends. This is fortunate, as after another keen evaluative stare, Aiko leans back in her chair.

"Well, I'll be. That's perfect! Those sad cows will eat that up in second, right along with their supermarket éclairs."

His mother suddenly rises, grabbing her coffee from the table. "We'll do something later after I've finished my writing, Autumn Dear. Now go eat your breakfast before it gets cold."

A slight quirk of Akihiko's mouth is the only shift in his expression and doesn't occur until after his mother has clearly left the room. Silently he pads back down to his end of the table for a reunion with Egg Man. No sooner does he sit then Tanaka appears at his side.

"Would you like a fresh plate, Usami-sama?"

Akihiko looks at the now congealed stare of his breakfast companion. He picks up his knife and punctures the yolks blinding the frowning face on his plate. Deciding he doesn't care to share any more of his words that morning, Akihiko shakes his head "no" and begins eating.


So in the last incarnation of this fic Akihiko's mother was English.

I was following Freakylemurcat's fanon. If you haven't read any of her stories they are marvelous! I love her back story for Akihiko, wonderfully humorous and tragic. And some fucking hot lemons the Lemur writes as well.

Anyway, it was pointed out by another reader in a different story of mine that despite his coloring, Akihiko is fully Japanese. And there is apparently indication somewhere that his father took the Akihiko's mother's name to become Usami, which happens in Japan if the woman's family is of higher standing.(Offers some insight into why Papa Usami didn't marry Haruhiko's mother...)

So I have made alterations to keep things more canonical.

Hope this new twists works, but I think it will. You tell me.

Thank you for all the follows and favorites for the last chapter "Summer Lessons." To my wonderful reviewers: Thank you so much! The thoughtful content of your reviews is so gratifying and makes me feel I have accomplished something with this series. This piece will have two more chapters.

Hope to hear from you again or anew and thank you for reading!