Author's Note: Before we begin, I would like to thank all of the people I PMed to help me come up with a title for this fanfic, even if some of them didn't really have ideas. But, I would also like to extend a special thanks to MeanderCat, who came up with this fanfic's title AND the meaning behind the fanfic's title, which goes something like this:
"Hmmmmmm what about "Erhu?" It's that Chinese two-stringed instrument, so the Chinese part of it is like Aki and the music part of it is Heathcliffe?"
Enjoy, my One Piece: Parallel Works fans!
Disclaimer: One Piece is the property of Eichiiro Oda. Support the official release by reading the manga and watching the anime.
My electric guitar and the tattered clothes on my back are the only things I have left. The crappy tenement apartments I lived in for about a year have burned down while I was out performing for money. Even though I lived and my few poessions didn't burn, I have no luck left.
Living alone in poor conditions has left me looking pretty rough. My hair is a filthy, lice-infested mess, my clothes - a plain, gray shirt, black jeans, and sneakers - are in tatters and unraveling, and I'm beginning to look a bit underweight. I have been getting food, but it's usually not enough and sometimes stale. Plus, I'm still recovering from some sort of food poisoning that almost killed me a month ago.
With a sigh, I sit down on the sidewalk and I hug my knees to my chest. Why did my Tenryuubito parents kick me out of my house? Where are my brothers? Why haven't they been looking for me?
"Hey, there. What's wrong?"
I look up and see a very pretty girl around my age - She's got black hair tied into a ponytail and blue eyes, and she wears a green, Chinese-styled top with black pants and black shoes.
"Everything. My parents kicked me out of my own house because I didn't want to become a World Noble, I've been stuck on this island for about a year living in filth and misery, and I'm lonely. Why me?" I explain before I dissolve into sobbing. The girl wordlessly bends down to my level and dries my tears.
"Shh... Shh... Don't cry," The girl says soothingly. She attempts to stroke back my hair to comfort me, but she pulls her hand back. "Ew! Your hair is all slimy and dirty and gross!"
"I haven't had a good shower or bath in a while. I would go to a bathhouse, but I usually didn't have enough money to enter," I explain sadly. The girl ponders over something for a brief second.
"Why don't you come with me? At least I'll be able to give you a hot shower, a good meal, a warm bed, and some new clothing for you," The girl suggested.
"Uhh... For how long?" I ask. The girl smiles.
"As long as you need. My mother is kinda wealthy, so you'll be fine," The girl explains. "My name is Aki Chung-Feng. What's your name?"
"Heathcliffe," I answer hesitantly. "My name is Heathcliffe Sarutobi."
"I like that name. It really suits you," Aki complimented. Heathcliffe smiled.
"Thank you, Aki," Heathcliffe said as he got up and grabbed his guitar, which was in it's case. "So, where are we going?"
"Well, looks like you need a bath, mister. I'll take you to the bathhouse, then we can get something to eat, and then... Hmm... Do you have any other clothes?" Aki asked Heathcliffe.
"No. When my parents kicked me out of my house, they only gave me another set of clothes besides the ones on my back. Plus, those clothes just burned in a fire," Heathcliffe sadly explained. Aki frowned.
"Hmm... Looks like we're going shopping. And, I can TRY to make you some clothes. My mother taught me how to sew," Aki explained.
"I see... Where is your mother?" Heathcliffe asked. Aki's expression darkened. "I'm sorry. Did I do anything wrong?"
"My mother's really sick. She has to stay on a hospital on this island. I was going back to my hotel from the hospital when I ran into you," Aki explained.
"Ouch... I hope your mom gets better," Heathcliffe said. Aki smiled.
"Thank you, Heathcliffe," Aki thanked her new friend.
When they got to the bathhouse, Heathcliffe found out something shocking.
"It's a mixed-bathing bathhouse?" Heathcliffe cried.
"You... Aren't comfortable around women bathers?" Aki asked Heathcliffe.
"No, it's not that. It's just... I'm a bit underweight because of all the hell I went though," Heathcliffe explained. Aki smiled.
"It's okay. This is a bathhouse where you have to wear a towel or a bathing suit for hygeine reasons. You'll be fine," Aki re-assured Heathcliffe.
"I don't have swim trunks," Heathcliffe said. Aki just giggled.
"Oh, Heathcliffe, you worry wart. I think I have a spare towel you can use," Aki said as she began looking through her bag for a towel. A few seconds later, she pulled a towel out. "Here you go."
Aki handed the towel to Heathcliffe.
"Thanks, Aki," Heathcliffe said with a smile. "Now... Know where I can put my guitar?"
"They have lockers here, silly!" Aki laughed as she playfully slapped Heathcliffe. "I'll go get us some locker keys while you... Uhh... Get changed."
After putting their things away and changing into their swimsuit or towel, Aki ad Heathcliffe were walking to the bathing area, which only had a large bathtub.
"Don't I have to shower or something before I get in the tub?" Heathcliffe asked Aki.
"Acutally, this bathhouse is a bit diferent - Here, you bathe WHILE you're in the tub. Good thing I chose this place, because I need to take a bath, too," Aki explained as she stepped into the tub and sat down.
"How's the water?" Heathcliffe asked Aki.
"Pretty nice," Aki replied. "Don't be shy. Come on in."
With a shurg, Heathcliffe stepped into the bath and immediately sat down next to Aki. As soon as he sat down, Heathcliffe broke into a grin.
"This is amazing! I never thought I would ever sit in a nice, warm bath again!" Heathcliffe commented.
"Really? Didn't you have a bathtub wherever you lived?" Aki asked Heathcliffe.
"I did, but the tenement apartments I lived only turned their water on once or twice a month," Heathcliffe explained with a sad sigh. "But, at least I can do this again."
Heathcliffe pinched his nose and dove under the water. When he re-surfaced, Heathcliffe was floating on his back. Aki then pulled Heathcliffe back up into a sitting position.
"Hold still! I need to wash your filthy hair," Aki ordered as she grabbed a bottle of shampoo and dumped the contents all over Heathcliffe's head. With a sigh, Aki got to work on washing the hot mess known as Heathcliffe's hair. "Ew! Your hair is even more gross than I thought! When was the last time you washed your hair?"
"Well, I think it's been about a year. Whenever I took a shower, I only had a very thin bar of soap, the water was always cold, and the water pressure was too low," Heathcliffe explained. Aki glared at Heathcliffe.
"You could've gone to a bathhouse!" Aki pointed out.
"I was broke, okay?" Heahcliffe pointed out. "But, anyway, how's the hair?"
"It's still a mess, but it's getting cleaner," Aki explained. Heathcliffe then turned around and pushed Aki underwater. Aki resurfaced a few moments later.
"What was that for? I thought we were friends!" Aki cried. Heathcliffe grabbed the bottle of shampoo and dumped the contents on Aki's head.
"You called my hair a mess, so I'm getting revenge!" Heathcliffe jokingly stated as he began washing Aki's hair. While holding back laughter, Aki pouted.
"Oh, Heathcliffe," Aki stated as she shook her head.
"Hold still! I need to wash your filthy hair!" Heathcliffe said mockingly. Both of them laughed.
An hour later, Aki and Heathcliffe were finished with their bath, and they stopped at an all-you-can eat buffet for dinner. Aki watched in amusement as Heathcliffe piled tons of food onto his plate and scarfed it down.
"You're eating all that?" Aki cried. Heathcliffe nodded.
"Well, I need a good meal. I'm a growing boy, you know," Heathcliffe stated, his mouth filled with the foods he didn't eat for over a year. Aki reached over and closed Heathcliffe's mouth.
"Chew with your mouth closed. Also, don't talk with your mouth full," Aki stated. Heathcliffe swallowed his food.
"Geez. Miss Manners much?" Heathcliffe asked Aki.
"Well... Let's just say I was brought up to be a proper lady, since my dad's rich," Aki explained.
"Your dad? How come you haven't talked about him?" Heathcliffe asked Aki, who sigheed.
"In reality... I'm his illegitamite child he had with my mother. He lives on the Grand Line, so I never see him," Aki explained sadly. Heathcliffe sighed.
"Sounds just like my dad - Abandons their kid because they're seen as a burden on them," Heathcliffe explained sadly. The two ate in silence for a few minutes.
"So... What's your favorite food?" Aki asked in hopes to lighen the mood.
"Huh?" Heathcliffe said. "I just went through a year of near-starvation. Ask me another question!"
Aki shook her head.
"Well, then... What foods did you like before you... Almost starved?" Aki retorted. Heathcliffe thought this over.
"Come to think of it, I liked a lot of foods, mainly snack foods. There's so many foods I miss eating, like Chinese takeout, pizza, candy, potato chips, donuts and ice cream," Heathcliffe explained. Aki put a hand on Heathcliffe's shoulder.
"How about we get some ice cream after dinner? My treat," Aki suggested. Heathcliffe smiled.
"I'd love that!" Heathcliffe answered. "What's your favorite ice cream flavor?"
"Hmm... That's a tough one. You got me, Heathcliffe. But, I would have to say... Vanilla. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?" Aki asked Heathcliffe.
"Well... You also got me. I like all flavors of ice cream," Heathcliffe explained. Aki facepalmed.
"You're getting mint chocolate chip," Aki stated.
Ending Note: Review if you want to see more HeathAki fluff! (The romance comes later. ;D)