Hi! I've been reading Black Bird for a while now, and I've finally realised: I have fallen in love with Hoki. :) So here's a Misao/Kyo, Hoki/OC - since he doesn't get enough love in the story!


Asymmetry - Prologue

"Today."


In the middle of a warm Saturday, Misao went over to the mansion to visit Kyo. When she slid the door open, she found the room occupied with the Daitengu, who all smiled at her welcomingly. They were…playing mahjong?

"Ah, hello," she said nervously, fiddling with the hem of her skirt. "Is Kyo here?"

Zenki nodded, jerking a finger in the other direction as he furrowed his brow at the thirteen tiles in front of him. "What is this mess?" he exclaimed. "I didn't have this one before!"

Buzen chuckled. "You just took that one from the wall, you idiot."

Misao had never played mahjong before, and Jiro, sitting where he was, looked plain bored as Zenki tried to figure out which one to discard. He yawned loudly, stretching his back and patting his knees, waiting for Zenki to move so his turn could come. Carefully, Misao came up behind Jiro and placed her on his lap. Then she examined the mahjong tiles before her, narrowing her eyes at them.

"Can you play mahjong, hime-sama?" Hoki inquired politely.

"Ah, no, I've never played before," Misao responded distractedly. The nine of circles was distracting her.

Zenki turned to Misao as he triumphantly cast out a one of bamboo. "Would you like to learn?"

"Sure!" she said, smiling. Kyo probably was busy right now—she could kill some time. She tried to ignore her mind nagging her about homework.

"Let's finish this round—" Zenki said, just as Jiro yelled, "Win!", grabbed the tile, and cast down his entire line of tiles.

"What?" Zenki exclaimed. "What the hell were you looking for? From your discards—" He stopped short when he saw Jiro's tiles. "Thirteen Orphans?"

If thunder could make its presence known on a clear day with blue skies, it would at this very moment, as Jiro stared Zenki down with an evil smile on his childish face. "Hand it over!" he gloated, and Zenki stuck his tongue out, handing Jiro a chip from the bag.

They started jumbling the tiles again, putting everything in a nonsensical order until there were four walls of eighteen rows assembled on each side, forming a rather rickety square. Hoki smiled at Misao from directly across the table. "This time, I am playing east. So I am the one who rolls the dice." He held up two battered and weathered die and threw them into the square.

Misao watched the dice stop, summing up to eleven. She nearly jumped with surprise when Hoki extended his hand towards her. She started to back away, but Zenki laughed and held her arm in place.

"It's okay, hime-sama. He's simply taking the tiles."

"T-Taking the tiles?"

Zenki reached towards Misao's row of eighteen as well and took a set of four. "Of course. We have to build up our hand somehow." He smiled.

Jiro stretched, got up and bowed, said, "I have to go attend to dinner now!" with a cheerful smile, and left the table.

"Ah…" Misao said, waving bye to him. "…But I don't know how to play…"

"That's why we're here to teach you!" Buzen said cheerfully. "It's not hard."

Misao took a set of four from the wall as well, upturning one of the tiles. She stared at it oddly. There was an image of a chicken—or was it a turkey?—engraved on the surface. "What is this?" she asked.

"We should probably explain the different suits," Hoki mused. He placed another turkey tile at the front. "This is the one of bamboos. There are four of these tiles, as there are four of any of the distinct tiles that you see in your hand."

"There are two other suits," Buzen added. "Characters and circles." He held up two of the aforementioned pair—a one of circles and seven of characters. "Four of these as well. If you look at your hand and find you have two of the same tile, know that there are only two more out there."

Just hearing this made Misao's head swim, but she nodded. "Okay…"

Zenki discarded an east wind. "There are four of these as well."

She stared at her hand of tiles with a frown. She had three of the one of bamboos, so it would be all right to discard one of them…right? Zenki scrutinized her moments slowly. Her hand came to a stop, as she slid her fingers up and down the tile line, on the one of bamboos and placed it before her.

"Ah, hime-sama, the goal is to have three of a kind, or three in ascending order, and at least one pair."

"What?" she said lamely, staring at it. Then she looked at her tiles.

A five of bamboos, six of bamboos, four of bamboos, a red, a green, a west wind, a one of characters—ah, this was all so confusing!

"I don't know what I'm doing," she admitted, sitting back and sighing.

The door slid open, and all four of them turned to look at the entering party. Sagami stepped inside first, his eyes closed, face contorted in worry. Kyo, on the other hand, stepped inside with somewhat of a light step, a smile on his face—that immediately shattered when he saw Misao.

"What are you all doing, teaching her how to play mahjong?" he exclaimed, astonishment showing on his face.

Zenki snickered. "She wanted to learn!"

"Misao, you wanted to learn how to gamble?" Kyo continued, in disbelief.

Misao felt the blood flood from her face. "G-Gamble?"

"Mahjong is a gambling game," Hoki explained softly. "We weren't using money as a medium—simply chips, since Jiro wanted to play."

"If we actually used money, he would have gotten us insolvent," Zenki mumbled. He held up the near empty bag of chips. "He ate almost all of them."

"You ate the rest," Buzen noted, laughing.

"You two didn't win a single round?" Sagami questioned, kneeling down beside Hoki with a slightly dubious expression. "Hoki, I'm surprised."

"Hoki gave all of his chips to Jiro," Buzen explained. "And Zenki glared at me until I gave him mine."

Hoki shrugged. "I never did like chips."

"He came in second place," Zenki mumbled, placing another chip in his mouth. Then he extended the bag towards Misao with a winning smile. "Chip, my lady?"

Zenki went tumbling across the room, courtesy of a fuming Kyo. "How dare you make advances on my wife!"

"Why the hell do you always assume I'm making advances on the princess?"

The entire room was enveloped with shouting, laughing, and exasperated sighs as Misao stared at the scene before her in bewilderment.

"They usually act like this," Buzen explained.

"Since Kyo-sama is busy quarrelling, I shall have to deliver the news," Sagami said irritably. "We are going back to the village again. This morning, we received news of an Ubume clan attack at the edge of the mountain. The patrol was ambushed, and unfortunately, a certain person came out with a severe injury from a minor head wound."

"…Not her," Hoki muttered under his breath.

Misao turned to him questioningly as Sagami continued. "The person that we would have requested to join the Eight Daitengu was this person."

Hoki's shoulders slumped, and Misao assumed it was in relief.

"Was?" Misao echoed. Is he dead then?

"Now, with that wound, that person cannot accept."

"What is it?"

"Deteriorating eyesight."

Kyo came up to them, with Zenki as well, a grimace on his face. "So, a trip must be planned immediately. We'll be staying there for several days—maybe even weeks, to determine the situation. We do need a replacement for 'Soujou', contrary to what I've said before, and that injured person is the perfect person for the job. Was, either way, if what they say is true."

Another visit to the mountain? Misao thought nervously, gripping the hem of her skirt. To think that she had only come here to ask him to accompany her on a date…

Kyo smiled apologetically at Misao. "I know that this is unexpected, but I hope you'll come with me again."

"I'd be glad to!" she exclaimed, seeing the almost resigned look in his eyes as if expecting her 'No.' "When do we leave?"

"Today."