Chapter 1: The CEO Known as Kazuya
Kazuya watched as Lee swept the floor around his office. Lee made for a poor janitor. He failed miserably at sweeping every time and his mopping was no better. It didn't help that he had a bad attitude about the whole thing. Kazuya would watch him intently much to his amusement and Lee would avoid eye contact at all costs. Kazuya would return to whatever needed his attention on his desk only to be interrupted moments later as he heard a plastic broom being slammed to the ground. Kazuya only looked up in mild interest as the other stormed over to his desk and crashed his open palms on his thankfully sturdy desk.
"I've had enough of this! Can't you find someone better suited to cleaning? I'm not a janitor!"
The grin that Lee could plainly see on the other's face only worsened his mood. "Sorry, you're all that I have for the job. Didn't you say that you wanted to work here no matter what position I had open?"
"Yes, but, this is ridiculous. I'm wasting my talents here. How can anyone possibly be promoted if all they do is menial tasks like this?" Lee said through gritted teeth.
"Why would I want to promote you? This is a far more appropriate job title, don't you think?"
"What am I even here for?—your entertainment?"
"I'd say you're doing a good job of that."
"That's it! I'm leaving."
"You said that yesterday, didn't you?"
When Lee got to the large double doors, he could only glower at the other from a distance, but he could only do it for so long. The smug look on Kazuya's face was enough to make him want to…Lee left before his thoughts could get any darker and slammed the door as hard as he could behind him. He went to the lobby that was on the first floor so that he could cool off. It was the same thing almost every day. He'd come into work and then be assigned to cleaning. The first day, he had been furious, but this was the only way to stay somehow connected to the Mishima Zaibatsu. He'd try to clean everywhere besides Kazuya's office until Kazuya was out on lunch or when he was supposed to be out in meetings, but Lee's plans would more than likely be thwarted. There was a schedule he was supposed to keep and Kazuya would call for him if he was even a second late. That bastard.
How could a person be entertained by the same display over and over again? How did he get off on such a thing? Was it really that hilarious? That person sitting at the desk—no, could he even be called a person; that demon. He would be grinning the entire time and it never got old. What was so funny about another man's plight? If Jun could see him now, Lee would finally be able to convince her that he wasn't worth anyone's time. He was a lost cause. Why hadn't Heihachi just given the corporation to him? What was the point of holding a tournament to determine who would be the owner of such a lucrative business? This wasn't a game. How did some bonehead fighter even have the qualifications to run something like this? Sometimes he wondered where Heihachi's logic was. Now look at him. Now he's dead.
"Huh?" Lee said as he was interrupted from his thoughts. The voice sounded old. He turned to the source of it and found that the voice had indeed come from a rather elderly looking man. Lee could even go out on a limb and say that he was Chinese from the way he dressed.
"Son, you wouldn't happen to be Heihachi's adoptive son would you?"
"That would be him. Did you have some business with me?"
"Oh good, I wasn't entirely certain. I wanted to discuss something with you…after 'work', of course."
"Is there a reason you can't just tell me now?"
"After work. I promise it's something you'll want to hear."
"Alright, old man, I'll call you."
With this, the elderly Chinese man shuffled away with a brief wave.
"Hey, what's your name," Lee called out before he was out of earshot.
The name didn't ring any bells with Lee. He wasn't even sure if he worked there. If it turned out that this Jinrei didn't, then he'd have no way of calling him. Lee wasn't too overly concerned about this—he was almost certain that he was some kooky old man who just wanted a drinking partner. Not that he was opposed to this; he could use a good drink…
Lee spent the rest of the day cleaning the entire floor before his workday came to a close. He found the closest computer and logged in to his account. It was easy to find someone's number if they worked there. Sure enough, Wang Jinrei was on the list of employees. Did Kazuya even know that such a guy was still on the books? When Lee got into his car, he called up the old man and they pinned down a location to meet in a bar somewhere nearby.
This better be good…
"Ah, glad you could come," the old man greeted the other.
"No problem," Lee said back as he sat down at a barstool next to him
They drank for a little while before they got to the main point of the meeting. Neither of them was in a rush.
"It's about Kazuya," Jinrei began.
Great, some way to blackmail him. I'm all in.
"You've known him for a while, haven't you?" Jinrei asked.
"Ah, I don't think I've ever really known him. Very few people can actually say that. But certainly, I've met him and knew he existed for a long time."
"That's good enough. Even you have to have noticed the 'changes'."
Lee gave the other a slightly confused look and then took another sip of his martini.
"The 'subtle differences' in his personality," Jinrei continued.
"What are you getting at, old man? I don't think I follow."
"The Mishima family has a dark history, but I won't bore you with an overly long story. My close friend Jinpachi—Kazuya's grandfather—was taken as a result of it and in a way so has Heihachi. Jinpachi was a good, upright man; his only setback was his last name. He was murdered, you see. Now, I know that such accusations might seem unfounded and you could probably come up with a plethora of evidences towards the contrary, but I tell you now the truth. Do you believe me?"
Lee shook his head slowly, "Listen, I'm no expert with the Mishima family. You could have told me that Heihachi skydives on his free time and I might have believed you. But this…this is a bit farfetched."
"Have you ever known Heihachi? He took you in personally, did he not?"
"Yes, he did. He was kind enough to take me in and give me shelter. It's not like I worship the ground he walks on, but he has caused me no harm. He's not the nicest guy I've ever met, but he seems to have my best interests at heart. He fully paid for my college that was overseas at a prominent American university. How bad could he be?"
"That's very strange indeed, his behavior towards you, don't you think?"
"Maybe you've got your facts wrong."
"Oh, no, I'm sure I don't. I knew Jinpachi quite well and as I told you before he was my good friend. We spoke on everything. There was no secret left untold."
"And you sound so certain of yourself."
"Have you ever asked Heihachi why? Why would he take you in like that?—You, out of so many others."
"No, but I figured it was because I had demonstrated that I could take care of myself. I think Heihachi appreciates strength over all else, but I never asked. I didn't ask because I didn't really want to know. I was just glad to be out of that hell hole. I don't think I ever imagined my future to look anything like this."
"Curious. Very curious indeed. You still don't realize why he helped you seemingly out of the kindness of his heart. There was an ulterior motive. He targeted you, Lee, and he groomed you into a man who could one day challenge Kazuya's authority. He's always seen his real son as weak and his continued support of you was solely to test his son, to push his son to be even better than he was, and ultimately just to get on his last set of nerves. Heihachi saw competition as a necessity. Kazuya had turned his back on his father and he was simply getting back at him."
"No, you don't know what you're talking about. You don't know Heihachi very well at all—you're just some old man who is so far spouting out complete and utter nonsense."
"Oh, and you know Heihachi so well. What are his habits? What are his likes?—his dislikes? What's his favorite color? The truth is, you haven't been around the man long enough to learn anything worthwhile. He took you in alright, but I'm betting he hardly spent any time with you. I'm sure he had other pressing matters to attend to."
"Shut-up," Lee said deliberately slow in low tones, "I told you. You don't know anything."
"You don't need to defend him."
"I don't care what anyone thinks of him. I don't care about his motives. He saved me. Who knew whether I would die the next day or not, whether I would find my next meal or not."
"I understand where you're coming from—
"But I do. I am glad for your fortune, but that shouldn't blind you from the truth."
"The fact that Kazuya killed him? Yes, I know that."
"No, the fact that Heihachi was a very sinister and conniving man."
"Yeah, well he's dead now. I thought we were here to talk about Kazuya."
"Yes, we are. I was getting to him, but there are a few things you need to know first. Kazuya is an easy man to dislike. I can see it in your eyes that you don't care for him, but all is not as it seems. One, Heihachi was the catalyst; two, Kazuya was exposed to something that he could never hope to control; three—and I know this is hard for you—you cannot blame him entirely for his behavior."
"I'm not sure how much more of this I want to hear."
"When Kazuya was just able to talk, Heihachi saw fit to toss him off of a high precipice all in the name of making him stronger."
"Well, he's still alive, so it must not have been that bad."
"He lost almost all of his blood—by all accounts he should have died."
Lee quieted down when he heard this and waited for the other to continue.
"Jinpachi for the longest time wondered how Kazuya could have survived such a fall. That he hadn't been crushed by gravity by hitting the bottom was nothing short of a miracle. That he had somehow gotten himself caught on one of the sharp rocks of the wall was highly improbable. He could not have climbed back up. At the velocity of which he was losing blood, he would not have the energy and there was no trail of blood that suggested as much. It wasn't until much later that Jinpachi even suspected that there was a more supernatural reason for all of this. Kazuya had survived that fall alright, but not without a deadly cost. Since that moment, Kazuya had ceased to be himself—at least not himself completely. He was inhabited by an evil spirit and has been fighting its control over him ever since. He's fighting a losing battle. Even you have to notice that something is wrong."
"Old man…Do you really have nothing better to do than come up with these stories? It's pretty well thought out. But Heihachi wouldn't just throw someone off a cliff. I've never heard of that before."
"Really? So Kazuya dislikes his father for no apparent reason. Didn't you ever wonder why he hated him so much?"
"No—well, maybe, but I never really asked."
"I'm telling you for a fact that that is the reason. Take it or leave it."
"And I suppose you'll tell me the same thing about that evil spirit, huh?"
"Exactly. But you don't have to take my word for it. Confront Kazuya with what I've told you—watch his reaction. Not many people know of all the things I'm telling you. Something like this begs to be swept under the rug. It sounds crazy just from me telling you about it—why would Kazuya ever announce such things to the entire world?"
"I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. You took the time to come all the way out here and waste your breath on this entirely made-up story. For that kind of effort, I may just play along. But I need more evidence than just your word."
"Well, you know what to do," Wang Jinrei said with a smile. "When you're satisfied, call me again. I'll need your help with what I plan to do."
So went the evening between Lee and Jinrei. They discussed other things besides, but soon they called it a night and went off to their respective homes.
Lee waited for the perfect opportunity. He waited for two days and then three days and then four until he realized that he was just stalling. How exactly was he going to go about this? Lee didn't want to admit this to himself, but he was intimidated by Kazuya. He could yell at him, sure, but that was when he was protected in his anger and strong emotion. He only spoke to Kazuya when he felt compelled to, when it was of complete necessity not when he was trying to test a theory which could more than likely be wrong. Where could he even begin?
On the seventh day of procrastination, Lee finally worked up the nerves. However, it might have been better if he had done it yesterday—at least the other had been in a marginally better mood. Kazuya must not have liked what he was reading because he seemed to glare at it—any second now and the paper would burst into flames.
Instead of slamming the broom to the floor, Lee leaned it against a nearby wall and then approached the great desk that sat in the far reaches of the room.
"Kazuya, something has come to my attention."
Lee was hoping that the other wouldn't look up too quickly so that he could be spared his searing gaze, but he was not that lucky.
"What is it," Kazuya demanded from the other.
"Oh…um, nevermind—let me just get back to cleaning your office…"
"You interrupted me for nothing?" Kazuya questioned to Lee's turning form.
"I, well, it was nothing really. Now that I think about it, you wouldn't really care anyways," Lee explained turning his head back to the other.
"If this is about a promotion, the answer remains the same," Kazuya said standing up.
Lee backed up a little. It was then that he noticed that the other was an entire inch taller than him. "Of course."
"You just keep doing what you do best," Kazuya said as he was coming from around the large desk.
Lee wondered if the other was advancing upon him, but instead Kazuya was headed for the door on the other end of the room.
"Where are you…" Lee started to say, but then thought better of it—he would never get a straight answer.
It wasn't often that Kazuya would leave the room when he was there and each time Lee wondered where he could possibly be going, but then he would continue on with his work in peace. When Kazuya wasn't there as he was cleaning the floor, it was a far more tolerable job. In fact, it was somehow calming. It took no brain at all just to wipe the floor down and if he did it well enough, the floor would be gleaming with cleanliness—a fact that was more satisfying than Lee would like to admit.
"Um…Lee?" called a small voice from the open doorway.
Lee looked up wearily. He had heard that voice before—Kiki. She worked here and whenever Kazuya was nowhere near she would show up. It was obvious that she had a thing for him, but Lee pretended not to notice.
"Oh, you're still here," Kiki exclaimed as she came in completely through the door and advanced upon Lee as a hawk would its prey.
Before Lee knew it, he was caught up in her embrace and he spent half a minute trying to peel her off again.
"Yes, I am as a matter of fact. I was just leaving."
"What? So soon?" Kiki said flabbergasted.
"I finished early—I guess I work better when there isn't someone constantly glaring at me."
"Oh, you mean, Mr. Mishima. He's in a really bad mood today—it's a good thing you didn't have to deal with him today."
"I guess he is in a bad mood. Did anything happen?"
Kiki shrugged, "I have no idea, but then no one is ever sure of what sets him off."
"Do you know where he goes at a time like this?"
"Well my friend, she caught him on the roof one time, maybe that's where he went off to. But trust me, you don't want to go follow him if you know what's good for you."
"I understand, Kiki, thanks."
"Anytime. Seriously, anytime."
"Alright, Kiki. I need to head out now."
"Now, we've been over this before. I'm done with my work for the day."
It was hard enough just to escape Kiki's pressing claws, but he managed to do it eventually. This time, Lee was not going home. He went in search of Kazuya who was supposedly on the roof. Lee took a deep breath before going there. Last time he had completely lost his nerves. This time he was hoping that he could keep his wits about him and finally confront the man. Finally he opened the door and was presented with a barren landscape. There was no Kazuya or anyone. With a sigh, he turned and closed the door. He had gotten all worked up for nothing. He was more upset than happy surprisingly. Tomorrow he'd have to go through the whole ordeal again.
He walked down the hall slightly dejected. The nearest elevator was two halls away so he didn't have long until he'd be at the parking lot and in his car headed home. He was thinking about all these things when he was stopped abruptly in the hallway.
"You've finished early—if only you could always be that efficient," said Kazuya's gruff voice from behind Lee.
A sudden jolt of shock ran through him before he actually turned towards the new voice. "Where have you been?"
It perhaps wasn't the best thing Lee could have asked of Kazuya, but it was the first question that came to his head and he couldn't seem to think of a better one or any way to reword it to make it sound far less intrusive.
"You know, that kind of question sounds odd coming from a man in your shoes."
"Yes, I know, I'm your subordinate—you never cease to remind me of that fact."
"Well, if I didn't, you'd forget all about it—I want it to stay fresh in your mind."
Frankly, Lee couldn't believe the words coming from his mouth—he wasn't sure how much more he could take of the other without completely losing his temper.
"There was a question I wanted to ask you in private."
"Just ask it," Kazuya said in a tone that suggested that he didn't have much patience at the moment.
Lee took a deep breath. He had written the question down and repeated it to himself over and over again. Now all he had to do is say it no matter how strange it sounded, for better or worse, now was the time to get it all over with. "Your father wasn't what he seemed, was he? After throwing you off that cliff when you were younger, I guess you had a right to dislike him. Wasn't it that event that changed the course of your life forever? Hasn't it molded you into the man that you are today?"
"You wanted one question and you gave me three," Kazuya replied with a frown—he hadn't even skipped a beat.
Lee had watched the other's face intently the entire time, but nothing remotely out of the ordinary had happened there. No shock, no nothing, just more of the usual.
"I'm sorry—it was one question, but I suppose I expounded on it a little—"
"Odd questions. How would you have me answer? You've accused my father of something he hasn't done and how this imaginary event must have affected me—I'd say you're dangerously close to slander."
"Nothing so far as that, sir. It was just brought to my attention and I just wanted to reassure myself that it wasn't true."
"Brought to your attention? Who was it that told you to ask?"
"I don't think it matters in any case—I'm convinced that he was completely lying to me."
"Yes, but I'd rather not have this person continually dirtying my father's name—tell me who is it?"
There was certain earnestness in Kazuya's tone that Lee hadn't heard there before. There was no telling what he would do to Wang Jinrei once he knew the person who had set him up to this. As much as Lee didn't like being lied to or being played a fool, no one deserved the kind of punishment that Lee suspected Kazuya was capable of dealing out. He'd have to come up with a convenient excuse for Jinrei.
"I'm sorry, I would tell you, but I don't know his name—I only met him at a bar."
A flicker of interest crossed his eyes, but it was gone the second it appeared. "You would trust some arbitrary person at a bar. I suppose that's how you spend your free time whenever you can find it."
Lee was hoping he could escape this conversation without having to see one of his grins up close—that was not the case. He just wanted to go home and bash something in for entire hour; that was the only remedy. Did Kazuya know how much he irritated him? Was he just doing it on purpose? Lee wouldn't put it past him—that evil bastard. Some people were just born to be evil, Lee thought. There was no fanciful explanation for any of it; he was just wired to be that way. Wasn't there always supposed to be a bad guy anyways?
"I think I'll take my leave now," Lee said as politely as he could muster at that moment.
"You do that."
Lee twirled on his feet and went off in the direction he had been going before. He couldn't wait until he could make a turn into another hall. Lee didn't dare look back, but he could certainly feel the eyes of Kazuya on his back the entire time, boring holes into his very clothes. When he turned the corner, he let out a sigh of relief. He found it odd that he would be breathing so hard just from a brief stroll down a hall, but then he realized that he must have been holding his breath the whole time. Just in case he was being followed, he didn't stop walking until he was outside again. For some reason, it had become like an oven in that accursed building. He was grateful that he had finished his work ahead of schedule—there was no way, he was sure, that he could have stayed there a second longer.
That demon Lee spat under his breath before getting into his car and leaving for the day.