Title: Forks in the Road

Fandom: Crows Zero

Pairing(s): Serizawa Tamao/OC

A/N: What can I say? I watched the two movies more than two months ago, and this was born. Hopefully my main character won't be a Mary-Sue who's instantly loved, so badass with her badassery, and speaks/interacts with the Crows without a drop caution. She definitely will not be attending Suzuran for no apparent reason.

Some won't like this because they would prefer a slash pairing, but I will only write such a story when it's clear that the characters prefer their own sex—believe me, though, I understand why people ship Genji/Izaki.

Disclaimer: This story is based on the Crows Zero movies, as well as the characters as they are portrayed therein. All recognizable characters are owned by Hiroshi Takahashi.

Summary: Dead-tired and quite happy to finally head home, Miyuki is walking away from the nightclub when her life suddenly becomes a nightmare. A life that's saved by the Monster of Suzuran. Slowly, she is pulled into the world of the Crows, and its politics.

With a tray of drinks balanced precariously on the palm of her hand, Miyuki burst through the doorway and wove hurriedly—albeit gracefully—past the faceless, nameless bodies around her. The first thing to hit her was the dense ambience of smoke and stale alcohol; then, came the flashing lights, the excited clapping, the familiar intro to the song Ruka had been practising oh-so-diligently the past fortnight.

And practising certainly had paid off, she noticed a few heartbeats later when she was pressed quite unceremoniously against the railing, the metal bar digging into her stomach. Every eye was directed toward the lithe singer clad in a t-shirt and jeans, and not the sweaty waitress who had to wrestle her way through the nightclub. Just another day for Daito Miyuki.

After placing the drinks on the appropriate table, Miyuki made her way back to the bar, only raising her head and permitting herself to sigh once she had placed her tray aside, immediately forgotten. Ushiyama looked up, then arched an eyebrow as he continued to wipe a glass, the action purely mechanical for her weary eyes.

"Long day, Miyuki-chan?" he asked, raising his voice slightly so that he could be heard over the noise (there was no other way to describe it), and still he continued to clean the glass.

"Mmm," she pouted as she rubbed at her eyes, barely swallowing a yawn before abruptly deciding to voice a better response, "I'll be fine." With an almighty sigh, Miyuki raised her arms and listened as the final cadences of the song made the nightclub vibrate.

Ushiyama sighed. "Am I such a bad boss that you'd lie to me?" Turning slightly, he set the glass on the counter and grabbed another. "I'm hurt, Miyuki-chan—go home. If you wish."

There was nothing waiting for her in that cold shoebox. Miyuki did not deign to answer. When a muffled, slightly slurred voice pierced the fog clouding her senses, calling out an order for more drinks, she snatched her tray and promptly scurried off. Perhaps too quickly, Miyuki decided when she found herself face to face with Yu, Kyoko, and a number of laughing men. Fantastic.

After graduating from high school, then fleeing from the only 'familiarity' she had known her whole life (a pitiful town in a pitiful region) a few months later, Daito Miyuki had lived the life of a drifter before settling down in the infamous home of the School of the Delinquents. Only because she had had no choice in the matter.

But that didn't erase the fact that she wasn't supposed to flee her home—that shouldn't have happened. Daito Miyuki wasn't supposed to know who Kyoko and Yu were (she only knew them because they followed Ruka around, their loyalty and friendship making her burn with jealousy) because she wasn't supposed to even set a foot in their godforsaken city.

"Ah, Daito-san!" But Kyoko always greeted her, and always had a sweet, glossy smile ready for any and everyone. Miyuki gave her the largest grin she could muster, yet somehow it didn't feel forced. "Can we—"

After memorising the order, batting aside a pair of grabby hands, and returning with a tray of drinks, Miyuki found herself being swallowed by her work and responsibilities—which included cleaning up after one had thrown up. Clean the glasses, clean the floor, get drinks for the lucky few stationed at a table, smile, laugh, repeat.

Repeat, until the doors had been closed for the night (or morning?), the chairs had been placed aside, and every nook and cranny had been cleaned. Only then could Miyuki sigh and lean against the counter, waving a paper fan at her face as she pouted tiredly at the ceiling.

"Home, Miyuki-chan."

"Hai, hai," she sighed and stood upright, her back popping here and there as she stretched, giving her trusty tray one last nudge before taking off. The door swung shut behind her, making a racket that sent shivers down her spine.

For a long suspended moment, Miyuki stood silently in the street, her breath forming a cloud of mist before her nose. Then, shuddering once again, she managed to move: down the street, past shops, her eardrums still ringing and still hearing a song that had long ceased, dead. The echo of a memory.

And accompanied with the memory of a life nearly forgotten, Miyuki walked the familiar route back to her apartment in a listless manner, deaf and dumb to everything around her. Which was the most stupid thing a girl could do when walking alone in the early hours of the morning, only the stars and the moon and the flickering streetlights watching over her.


So as she kept her head ducked down, brown eyes focused on her tattered sneakers, swinging her arms as though she felt giddy about something, it took her moments to realise that someone was actually breathing down her neck. As though the man (creeper, really) was attempting to memorise her scent.

Spinning on her heel, nearly slipping and sliding as the smooth surface of her shoes met with a wet patch of tarmac, Miyuki swung around to face her unwanted companion. "Excuse me?" she whispered breathlessly, her heart in her throat, her lips suddenly too dry. Her eyes were blown wide open, taking in every detail with a startling diligence: the man's thick brows, a gold chain hugging his neck, a beer belly closing the distance between them.

It took a few seconds for stupidity to reap terrifying consequences, three painful heartbeats to realise that the man—the cockiness, the way he held himself—was either a Crow (though a bit too old for that) or a Yakuza lackey. Or worse.

"I …" and now her heart was pounding right in her mouth. Miyuki swallowed. "Excuse me. My friends are waiting for …" A lie, but what the man didn't know could help her.

Or not.

With a move that startled her, nearly sent her onto her rear, the man grabbed her wrist and smiled in a manner that was supposed to calm another. "Wait, wait!" he declared as he flashed his crooked teeth at her, "They can wait, can't they?" Then he threw an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close.

"Thank you—" at least she couldn't accuse Mother Dearest of not instilling manners into her daughter (though Mother Dearest lecturing her daughter to not space out was another story, one that tickled her subconscious as she realised that she had taken Ushiyama's fan with her, the paper now caught between girl and man), "—but perhaps another—"

And now the smile swiftly turned sour. "Ain't a request, sweetheart," the warning was a growl—and so she struggled against the man's grasp, twisting and turning to the point that the paper fan flew from her fingers, landing somewhere in her peripheral vision.

The particular voice in one's head (the one that either advised or mocked) immediately warned her that she would be on the ground as well if she refused to do a thing about it. Therefore, in a panic, Miyuki aimed a kick to the groin of the potbellied man, only to gasp out in pain and break her fall with her forearms when a fist connected with her cheek.

And she expected another blow. Expected to hear the sound of a belt being unbuckled; expected the man to ramble on and on about this and that, but what she didn't expect was to hear a loud cry of a wounded animal. With her head upraised, Miyuki rolled onto her side and scrambled away, huffing and puffing, then blinking owlishly when realisation finally dawned upon her.

Whoom, whoom, the streetlight flickered.

The boy—or man, the figure was quite short—wore the signature black blazer of a Crow. Hair slicked back, eyebrows raised as though imploring the other man to do something, anything, and wearing a ridiculous floral shirt; some would say that the newcomer wasn't that imposing. But Miyuki knew that one shouldn't assume things about the Crows.

She hadn't been around for long before hearing that Suzuran cronies fell as soon as they were touched by class leaders, that they spent their days kicking each other, glaring and growling at nothing in particular, and were always smoking like chimneys. She wasn't going to stay to find out whether this one was a crony or—

Oh. Her panic abated, her muscles softened, almost liquefying as she wilted across the street.

With a demented laugh, eyes wide and gleaming with a maniacal light, the Crow dodged her attacker's sudden swing and landed a sickeningly loud punch into the man's stomach. The taller of the two dropped down with a thud, unconscious.

Oh. Miyuki struggled to compose herself, her relief making her lightheaded and woozy. "I …" really, what else could she say? Miyuki cleared her throat, "I should—"

"A girl shouldn't be out so late," came the unexpected response, "a girl should know better." The streetlight flickered again. Whoom, whoom.

"A boy," Miyuki retorted under her breath as she pulled herself up and stood on weak legs, "shouldn't be so strong. It's frightening …" Everything else that she wanted to say disappeared like a whisper on the wind when the Crow stepped closer, now bathed in stronger, sharper light.

Serizawa Tamao.

As she had suspected.

Miyuki had seen the quirky daredevil here and there, frequently being followed by a murder of lower-ranked Crows, all of them cocksure and walking with a confidence that was only garnered after everyone acknowledged that you were the best (or worst) or were following the best (or worst) of Suzuran.

And Serizawa just happened to stay in the same rundown apartment complex as her. When one lived in the same vicinity as the King of the Beasts, it wouldn't take long (with her, one hour after moving in) to hear about that certain Crow. Mothers and fathers warned her to stay away from Serizawa, girls tittered and blushed (prompting Miyuki to narrow her eyes), and boys either liked (hero-worshipped, in some cases) or hated him.

"Shouldn't you be running home," Serizawa's question roused her from her trance, causing her to jump and then to clear her throat. He looked away from their prone companion to glance in her direction, "little girl?"

As her muscles solidified and tingles began coursing through her body, Miyuki slowly nodded her head, then turned around. Her legs abruptly hardened into stone. Casting a glance over her shoulder, she took in the sight of Serizawa staring up at the sky, his fists tucked into his pockets, brows drawn together as if he were in pain.

(Miyuki remembered how she had seen Serizawa staring up at his apartment with a look that she had considered all too familiar; a look that had graced her own face, that had caused her shoulders to droop, because it had been just too unbearable to enter her home—her one and only 'familiarity'. It was better to stay away, to watch the family from a safe distance).

Behind Serizawa, the potbellied man groaned, slowly collecting himself. Miyuki shifted her weight from one leg to the other before darting forward and picking up the paper fan.

"Thank you," she called out as she watched the man struggling to his feet. Serizawa blinked, then inhaled loudly before turning around, facing the other man with a look of utter boredom, "Serizawa-san."

Miyuki didn't stay to see how the delinquent took down the thug without bothering to remove his hands from his pockets.

Mornings always began the same: a too-short slumber interrupted by the 'suspicious' banging next door (she was certain that it was a headboard thumping against the wall—despite the hour and the fact that the husband was still at work—but everyone knew that the wife was extraordinarily friendly with the mailman), a pitiful breakfast consumed as though it was a meal fit for a queen, and a hop in and out of the shower before changing for work at the local supermarket.

And the supermarket?

Well, on normal days she would be packing the shelves in a daze, losing herself in the rhythmic motion of bending and lifting until thinking was no longer a necessity. Despite being poor and lonely, Miyuki prided herself on her ability to just survive: not falling into the abyss of prostitution and utter oblivion, of still having a goal in mind.

(The goal had no name and still awaited a heartbeat, but it had taken residence in her mind, guarded by a still tongue and tired limbs that worked day and night until what-she-wanted had been fully realised. It just needed time).

This morning, however, despite the few hours she had slept, Miyuki found her head cleared of all cobwebs. She repeatedly shook her head and asked herself, "What were you thinking? Well, it's obvious that you weren't thinking, because Serizawa! How could you know that he wouldn't have hurt you?"

With an almighty groan, Miyuki shut her eyes and bowed her head, images of the previous night zooming into the forefront of her mind. Unbidden, wholly unwelcome. A shudder trembled down her limbs, settling into the soles of her feet, and she had the sudden urge to run.

Inhaling sharply, quickly, Miyuki opened her eyes and shook her head once again. She focused her attention on the box she had opened, her fingers frozen on the cardboard flaps, her back suddenly protesting at her uncomfortable position. Finally, she straightened up.

A song flitted through the store, soft and barely comprehensible, perhaps the latest chart-topper. Behind Miyuki, the bell clanged, announcing the first customer of the day. A sigh leapt from her parted, dry lips. The start of yet another long day. Nothing new.

But another shudder rippled through her, upsetting the fragile calm she had just collected. Miyuki wiped a hand across her trembling lips, then turned on her heel to bow to an elderly lady entering the store. "Welcome, obaa-san," she greeted the woman pleasantly, curving her lips into a practiced smile. Oh, how easy it was to fool those who didn't look. "Please let me know if you'd need my help."

There was a swift response, but as soon as it was uttered, it was forgotten, trivial. In one ear, out the other. Distracted (tired), Miyuki returned to her work, her shoulders drooping with unvoiced concerns, unvoiced everything. She emptied the box, setting its contents on that shelf, on this display, until she had to fetch another container, repeating the job.

A cough brought her back to the present, and with a quickly muttered apology, Miyuki scurried over to the cash register and rang up the customer's purchases—always a loaf of bread, a tray of eggs, a bottle of milk, a block of cheese, and a packet of tomatoes. Yet the woman's name remained a mystery.

Perhaps it had been voiced weeks before, when they had first met, but when one didn't listen, didn't yearn for true human contact, why should a simple name be remembered? Then, in a whisper that made the hairs on the back of her neck rise, came the words: but you remember Kyoko, Yu, Ruka, and Ushiyama.

(Serizawa Tamao).

"Thank you, Daito-chan," the woman whispered, as if she were sharing a secret. Miyuki didn't ask about that, ask why she always had to whisper, so she watched as the customer slowly shuffled down the store, taking her time to reach the door.

The bell clanged again.

Idly, Miyuki wondered if she should have helped the woman leave, but the thought was already gone, forgotten, when her gum-chewing boss stuck his head out of the office door for a short moment. Rapping her nails across the counter for a beat, she wondered off as if she had all the time in the world, but then returned to her abandoned task.

Another box, another shelf, another customer until the boss strode from his office, scratching at his belly as he waved her off, ordering her to have her lunch. He knew that she had no lunch with her, and she knew that he was slinking off for a bottle of sake despite what the doctor had said, but neither said a word.

A worn crate, her usual seat in the back alley, was still there to welcome her with a soft groan when she sat down on it, throwing her legs out before her. Miyuki stretched, raising her arms then rolling her head, before sitting still. Watching, the graffiti across the formerly white wall, the cat eying her from behind a dirty window.

A crick in her neck made her lean over, her hair nearly brushing across the street, so she first saw a pair of feet and long legs before noticing the rest of the body heading straight to her. Straight to her? Miyuki sat up hastily.

"Did you hear? Did you hear?" her boss's daughter yelped as she slid to a stop, quickly tugging at her school uniform, "oh, it's the best news I've heard in a while—" gossip was always the best news for the girl, "—certainly the best."

Miyuki sighed. "One day you'll get tired of all your gossiping. No appeal, no satisfaction," she informed the suddenly silent schoolgirl, then added sarcastically, "That will be a 'sad' day indeed."

A click of her tongue. "I saw this happening. Well," the girl paused, fidgeting with her pigtails, "not everything, but I know what I saw."

Silence reigned supreme for several seconds. Miyuki watched as the girl bounced on her feet, swung her arms, licked her lips, before looking around for a more eager audience. "All right," Miyuki sighed and closed her eyes for a moment, the annoying gossip must have spread the news throughout her high school, and now needed some poor, oblivious soul in order to satisfy her addiction, "tell me."

With a loud squeal, the schoolgirl took a seat beside Miyuki and bowed her head, clearing her throat as though she was about to deliver a well-rehearsed speech. "Here it is," she whispered ominously, her eyes flicking left to right before focusing on Miyuki. "So this morning, as I was heading to school—well, you know how I like to walk past Suzuran—"

Head bowed, Miyuki rubbed tiny circles into her temples, eyes slowly closing when she noticed the first signs of an oncoming headache. Sighing, she sat upright and massaged one shoulder, then the other. It was then, when she smacked her lips and finally listened to what her companion was saying, that she heard the following words: "—took in Serizawa Tamao."

Miyuki froze. "What did you say?"

"Honestly Daito-san," the girl rolled her eyes, "you're the most oblivious person I've ever met!" But she clicked her tongue, bouncing excitedly on the crate as though she had just been rewarded with new information. "Never mind! Keiji-san took in Serizawa Tamao because of some motorbike, but that's not what's important."

A beat. "It isn't?"

The girl shook her head quite hastily. "No. You see," she looked ready to grab Miyuki's shoulders, to shake her, "a few Yakuza members came to Suzuran to find Serizawa. Apparently he sent one of their boys to the hospital … and apparently it was because of a girl."

The pause between sentences hung suspended for several long, nerve-wrecking seconds; the shock running through her veins made time slow down to a snail's pace. Miyuki inhaled, then the world righted itself. Her own breathing was loud in her ears, in and out, in and out. For once, she listened diligently.

"I hope that history won't repeat itself. A while ago," the boss' daughter continued, wholly unaware of everything around her, "some gang suspected this girl of being Serizawa's girlfriend. She ended up in the hospital—it's dangerous being with a Monster who has so many enemies."

"So the girl was his … ?"

"No. Not his girlfriend."

"Is she okay?" Miyuki didn't dare to speak of the horrors the poor girl must have experienced, but her concern, obvious in the shallowness of her breathing, the wideness of her eyes, couldn't be ignored and just had to be voiced.

"Oh yeah," the airy and offhanded response was enough to calm Miyuki's nerves, "but she no longer lives here."

With a silent sigh, Miyuki tugged on her lips and watched as the cat-behind-the-window licked at its paw. She hummed an unintelligible sound, then look back at her companion with the suddenness of someone who had just realised something of consequence.

"This happened," Miyuki spoke slowly, "when you were supposed to be in school, right." A cheeky smile crept unbidden across her lips. "I heard your father shouting into the phone the other day … you're always late for school."

A blush bloomed across the girl's cheeks as she hastily rose to her feet. "I should get going," she loftily responded as she dusted off her pristine skirt, "I'll see you … when I see you." Then, pivoting on her heel, she strode away.

Her smile faded. Miyuki swept her eyes back to the cat; it was staring right back at her, pink tongue still lapping at its coat. "Wait!" she barked, then sprung to her feet with an urgency she couldn't comprehend, "What's your name?"

The girl froze. "Should I add 'forgetful' to your attributes, Daito-san?" she looked at Miyuki over her shoulder, and the steeliness of her words was softened by the minute smile curving her lips. "Sanada Aoi."

Miyuki blinked, breathing slowly through her nose, then bowed at her acquaintance. Only when the soft plod of Sanada's footfalls faded away, did she straighten her spine and nod at nothing in particular. Sanada Aoi, she thought with dread, I shouldn't have asked that question.

Head raised to the sky, Miyuki gnawed on her lower lip, then closed her tingling eyes.

Too late to regret that.

Obaa-san: grandmother or old woman.

Keiji-san: detective. Aoi was referring to the 'Gramps', Kuroiwa Yoshinobu.

A/N: Seeing that there aren't that many Crows stories, or a large demand for them: if you're interested in this story, want to see it updated, please leave me comment/message otherwise I don't see the point of writing for a nonexistent audience.