konnichi wa! my golden week isn't as golden as i was expecting it to be. i failed to meet up with my girl pals...grah...anyway...muahahah...i finished 1 to 4 season of queer as folk (BrianXJustin) and i only need the last one and i am done!(^ . −)＝***
A humble person at heart and the fact that Misaki would never be able to get used to being fetched to and from school with a black, limousine with money plastered to it subjectively, he insisted he would commute. He talked it out with his mother and his new father. Of course they didn't approve of it. But after so many discussions and arguments, Misaki finally got what he wanted.
That was why Misaki was left dumbfounded when one of the Kazuo Chauffers stopped him on his tracks to the train station and bowed deeply before him.
"What are you doing here?" Misaki asked with a shocked face.
Wearing a black Tuxedo and eyeglasses, the chauffer looked to be about in his early twenties. For his job, the masters of Kazuo family was his priority though these very masters couldn't even remember their names without their butlers.
"Master Kazuo is calling for you, Takahashi-sama."
Misaki looked at the chauffer with green, scrutinizing eyes and then at the black, expensive vehicle near them. Since it takes a long walk from school to the main road, the area of the exclusive school could somehow be called exclusive and secluded. Otherwise, ordinary people would be left gaping at the expensive cars running all around in one spot with students that looked like artists and models acting childish and spoiled.
"Inori-san, I have one request. Is that alright?"
The older man looked stiff for a moment. He was caught off guard hearing the Kazuo Heir actually calling him by his name. That was a first in a very long time.
"Inori-san?" Misaki called once more when he noticed the man as if he turned into a different world.
"Ah...yes of course. Anything you wish Young Master..."
Misaki started walking towards the car and with a slight pause, he smiled at the chauffer.
"I will go with you if you promise to stop calling me 'Takahashi-sama' and 'Young Master'."
The chauffer ran after Misaki. "But, Young M-"
"Ah then you can go alone on your own," Misaki frowned, obviously it was fake.
The man sighed and pulled open the door for Misaki. Smiling, the first time in a long while too for him, Inori bowed.
"Misaki," the teen replied getting in the car. "It's fine with me being called by my first name. After all you're the Chauffer assigned to me right?"
Misaki didn't know it yet, but his simple acknowledgement of this man's being and presence would drastically serve him a good load of things in the future.
The ride in the posh car was always new to Misaki. First and foremost was the unnessesary lenght of the car. The unnessesary rows of bottles of expensive wines too. The TV, the small compartments under the seats. He might as well live in there!
Misaki lazily pulled out his notepad and read the latest chapter of his fiction he had written during his Biology Class. The class he quite hated because of the filthy mouthed teacher.
The sound of a paper being turned filled Misaki's ears. This was one of the moments that Misaki could feel that he really was a writer being able to manipulate his own world he had created using his fingers and sheer memory and imagination. Sometimes, even for the teen, he couldn't even tell whether what he was writing was his story by his imagination or a reality or a product of both with a little bit of frabrication. There was one thing he was sure though, Shou being left alone and that part where his father and brother fought was real.
He was having a hard time though where to put the part where his father mentioned something about a 'chip'.
A couple of minutes passed after Misaki had been thinking about his fiction when he noticed his writings.
"Eh...I accidentally wrote my name instead of 'Shou' in most parts," Misaki grinned. "I need to edit this once I get home..."
"Inori-san..." Misaki began with his eyes looking out the passing trees. The sun was about to settle and the darknenning sky felt a little gloom. "If I am not mistaken, Uncle Kazuo and my Mom are in a cruise right now...then why..." he trailed off unsure how to ask his question.
Not removing his gaze from the road, Inori stole a glance from the rear view mirror to look at his young master.
"That is true...Yo-ah...Misaki..." the young chauffer felt weird calling the young master of the family he was serving by first name basis. It didn't sound right somehow. "But a sudden business came up that the Master couldn't let down so he insisted Madam to continue the trip without him."
Misaki's jaw dropped for a minute, pondering what his new father, 'Uncle Kazuo' as what he calls him, was about to discuss to him. He wouldn't say that they were particularly close though the man was indeed kind.
"So my Mother is out on a cruise supposed to be for the two of them and Uncle is here? I bet Mom is frustrated."
The moment Misaki stepped out of the car, the sky was already pitch black. Probably would rain in a couple of hours for there were no signs of the constellations Misaki tend to watch at night. Leaving his bag inside, he stepped on the marble steps of the Kazuo Building. An empire of countless business in and out of Japan. Misaki couldn't help but feel uncomfortable.
Everyone, from the receptionists to the maintenance personnels always have the same facial expression; blank. As if they were robots that did their routines perfectly and they didn't have a life at all.
The teen walked slowly, absorbing everything he could see. After all, after a year of becoming one of the elites, it would be his first time stepping inside the empire his new father created. Sparkly, glittery, classy. From the corners up to the top, everything was plain money. Misaki felt like he was inside a tombstone. Cold and emotionless.
When he reached the top floor, a woman in black led Misaki to what he could tell was the King's den. It was scary the way the silence was deafening and only the woman's shoes clicking againts the tiled, patterned floors Misaki's reminder that he was still alive. Because somehow...in the very deepest part of Misaki's mind, everything felt dead.
"President Kazuo is waiting for you in here. It's an honor to meet the future leader of Kazuo," the women suddenly muttererd when they reached frosted glass doors.
Misaki felt goosebumps. He couldn't see himself as how the woman was telling him.
"Ah..." Misaki smiled, somehow the teen felt stupid when the woman did not. "Thank you..."
What? Aren't they allowed to smile back or something? They're so serious...if this continues...I will really feel that they're cyborgs...
When he pushed open the doors though, the emotionless feeling faded in an instant and was replaced by a feeing of warmth and comfort. The Kazuo Group of Company President was standing in front of the door, smiling so accomodatingly at Misaki. As if the sight of the teen was already the pleasure of his life.
"Uwah-Misaki, I'm glad you came!"
The Kazuo President, tall, dark and handsome and in his late thirties, Misaki couldn't help but think sometimes what the man found in his mother. His mom was not the type to be called sexy or beautiful in the first place. She was a rather normal woman, that transformed into a money clad person after marrying the man.
"Good evening Uncle...I heard you are calling for me so...here I am."
"Come...come...sit over there!" the man whose deep, brown eyes were obviously intellectual looked as if he had gone back to his youthful days. All happy and jumpy at the sight of Misaki walking towards the posh black sofas in the middle of the huge room. It looked like a five star suite in an exclusive hotel.
The man poured both of them teas and after everything was settled, he sat on the seat before Misaki. For a long while, all the Kazuo President was stare at Misaki. It made the teen a little...onguard.
"Hmmm...then Uncle what is it you have to talk to me?" Misaki started sounding casually as he lifted his cup to his lips. "I thought you and Mom were supposed to be on a trip..."
"Ah that?" the man sighed and looked suddenly sad. "I regret not being able to be with her but you know...a busy man like me, I can't help but to make sacrifices."
"Hmmm..." Misaki just nodded, stealing a glance at the man once in a while.
"So you may be asking why I called you right?" crossing his long legs, he placed his cup down which sent a faint clinking sound in the entire room.
Misaki looked at the man and smiled awkwardly. "Ah...yes? I just...did I do something wrong?"
"Wrong?!" the man exclaimed. "Of course not! You're such a nice kid how could you say that? Well...I am just wondering if you would like to come to the opening of another one of our hospital branches in Yokohama."
Misaki for a fleeting second furrowed his brows. If that was all there was, couldn't the man just give him a call? Why take the time to meet him knowing that as the man said, he was a 'busy man'.
"It's okay with me..." Misaki answered. Though he didn't like going, it became a part of being in that family. Opening of hotels, hospitals, schools, shopping malls, and the list doesn't just end there. However, normally, he gets the invitation through mail or through his mother. If Misaki was not forgetting a thing, this has got to be the first time being invited personally by his step father.
The teen unconsciously rolled his leaves a little up on his elbows for no reason. And the man right away looked at the teen's wrist. Concern painted all over his face, the man stood abruptly and almost ran the short distance between him and the brunette.
Shocked and dumbfounded, Misaki was left motionless when the man had grabbed his wrist. The man just stared at it for a long while before eyeing Misaki with eyes that to Misaki, looked somehow scary.
"Did you hurt yourself?" the Kazuo President asked, looking at Misaki's wrist and then at the teen's wide eyes.
"Where did you get this scar?"
Due to his surprise, Misaki took a while to register what was really going on. And so he looked at his wrist as well still in his uncle's grasp and frowned while thinking of his childhood.
"Ah...this scar?" Misaki chuckled. "I got it when I was little...I can't remember though how...it was my clumsiness..."
It was true that Misaki got that slit-like scar on his wrist. Maybe when he was seven? But he was having a fever that time so everything was a blur. The next thing he knew, he had a band aid on his wrist. His real father told him due to his fever rising, he suffered convulsion and knocked a vase and in the process cut himself. That was the explanation Misaki accepted without a doubt.
"I see...I thought...you had an accident or something," Kazuo smiled in relief and let go of the slim wrist. He laughed at his own rushed actions. "I'm glad...sorry I was annoying, right?"
"It's okay!" Misaki grinned, massaging his wrist since the grip was a little too tight. "But Uncle...why are you so riled up...it was as if..."
"I am overly worried?" Kazuo turned his head at Misaki, his clean cut black hair shone with the round bulb above his head. "Of course...you're my son now and I am not proud to admit it but to get to this spot, I have made a lot of enemies...so promise me Misaki. If ever there is something out of the ordinary you have to tell me."
Misaki sighed and took a sip once more. "I am going to be fine Uncle. But thanks to your concern!"
"Ah! I can't feel relaxed at all! Why do you have to decline the body guards I am assigning to you!?"
The teen smiled genuinely. "Please...I told you I don't like being surrounded by people that looked like the 'Men in Black'! Not my thing!"
Kazuo laughed heartily and patted Misaki on the head. "Well...I am glad everything seemed to be fine on your side. Give me a call once in a while...your uncle is getting lonely you know...Your mom is having a blast right now and I don't want to interrupt her."
Misaki stood from his seat and bowed. "I will Uncle Kazuo. Thank you for the tea."
Misaki left the office with his step father waiving is hand in the air like a kid would when his playmate would be about to go home. The teen insisted he could go on his own without the woman's help and so he walked the silent hallways alone.
He raised his hand to his face and looked at the horizontal scar on his wrist. Now that Misaki was alone and had the time to think, from his seat to his uncle's seat earlier, it was somehow impossible to see that small scar. It was as if his Uncle was actually expecting and anticipating it.
"That's stupid..." rolling his sleeves down once more, Misaki entered the elevator and hummed to himself. Dismissing the over reaction of the Kazuo President on his scar and went to his waiting chauffer.
"Ah mou...I hate dipping myself in a water full of guys!" Ayana whined as she wrapped a white towel around her rather slim waist for her age.
Rui who was sitting on the floor with his hand busy rubbing sun block all over his arms sneered. "What? Do you think you'd get pregnant?"
Feeling scandalized, the boyish Ayana kicked the guy on the leg and busied herself on putting on her swimming cap. "Stop talking like a huge pervert Rui. You're disgusting."
As if the longhaired girl, blushing at even the thought of revealing her body to the public, the hardcore fangirl Hime sighed. She looked around her and gazed at their other classmates telling one another how much they have lost or gained weight the past weeks.
"I wonder where Takahashi-kun went?" Hime mumbled.
The two, Rui and Ayana looked at each other and also roamed their eyes around the long-course pool reserved only for that class for the day. Girls in one-piece, dark swim suit and guys in dark swim trunks filled their line of visions as they searched for the only brunette in that class.
"If I wasn't hearing incorrectly, Takahashi mentioned about getting a medical pass in the infirmary," Rui mumbled as he started standing up and stretching.
"Pass?" Hime repeated. "What for?"
"Takahashi said he's not allowed to swim so he has to get a pass from the infirmary that the swimming instructor has to sign."
Frowning, Ayana put on her swimming goggles. "What a pain."
"Well that is needed," Rui continued. "Otherwise he would be marked as someone ditching class."
All heads turned to a huge man in red swimming trunks when they heard a sharp whistle. Girls mostly find their instructor's body a little disgusting. He was built like an obsessed body builder and the way his muscles buldged on certain areas was unpleasant to the eyes. The guys didn't pay much attention to it though.
"Good morning! It's nice to see everyone of you all excited for this session!" the swimming instructor, Ginoza greeted with all enthusiasm. Though there was not a single 'excited' face, he pretended there was and continued his job. He knew very well that these students probably had their own swimming instructors at home and what they were doing was just for formality.
"I'd like you to do some stretching first! The things you've learned the first time. I don't want you getting cramps out there!" Ginoza placed his whistle back in his lips. "Begin!" the whole area was filled with the shrill whistle and everybody began to move and stretch alone, with partners or by groups.
Hime was about to go to her group for the stretching when she turned her head back to the closed gate of the swimming area.
"Ne...Ayana, Rui...has anybody told Takahashi-kun that the swimming session changed its venue?"
"Hmm?" Ayana knitted her brows. "Oh my...we always use the covered pools right? And within the last minute it was announced that we'd use the pools outside right after he went out to get his pass..."
"What to do? I don't have my phone with me...?" Hime muttered.
Rui grinned and smacked the two young ladies on their backs lightly. "Ah don't worry about him. I'm sure he'd found out about it anyway."
Misaki politely closed the door of the infirmary and started walking his way to the covered pool. It was located at the top most floor of the recently built building of the school. There were about ten covered pools and five pools in total scattered around the whole campus and Misaki was headed to Swimming Area 3. Their usual place for their sessions.
The teen could hear some giggles and laughter from the nearest locker room. There was another swimming class and probably they were getting ready for their own sessions.
Misaki felt like blushing at the sight of girls in their robes ready to walk their way to their assigned swimming area. And then his steps, for no reason slowed down.
"Uwah! Suzuki-sensei...you're a literature teacher...what are you doing here near the girl's changing area?" one of the girls with her nails painted red asked sweetly.
Feeling uneasy for some reason, Misaki observed them trying to act as a meer passer by.
Suzuki-sensei, the silver haired man who had cold lavender eyes was talking with the girls of some class and was even smiling. But to Misaki, that smile felt empty.
A couple of feet away, Misaki could hear the conversation going on clearer. The teen had suddenly clutched the piece of paper as his pass from the infirmary rather tightly. It became crumpled.
"Sensei...why don't you help me put on some oil on my back?"
"I'd love to..." the teacher answered. Much to the girl's surprise and to Misaki's horror, the tall man leaned closer to the girl and talked with his mouth way too close to the girl's ear. "However, maybe some other time. I don't want being called a pervert you know?"
The girls burst into laughter, feeling so close with the literature intern that they started touching the man on his arms.
"Why put oil instead of sun block?" another girl asked.
"Well...that's sexier than putting a sun block!"
Walking silently as if he was trying to make himself invisible, Misaki darted his gaze at the tall man surrounded by girls. And the moment he did so, the intern looked at him. The look was somehow...unexplainable.
Misaki bowed a little considering that a teacher had seen him pass by. He couldn't act like nothing happened otherwise it would be disrespectful on his part.
"Hmmm...perfect timing..." Usami Akihiko grinned to himself. He purposely bumped his elbow lightly to the girl's chest beside him. It made surprised, flirty girl lose her grip to the bottle of oil in her hand. It rolled on the floor, the cap fell off too and before their eyes, its contents created a slippery pool of clear liquid on the floor.
"Ah...sensei...look what you've done!" the flirt whined, obviously loving every second of her time flirting with the handsome man.
"What did I do?" Usami replied innocently.
The tall man with his hand inside his coat watched Misaki stare at the pool of oil on the floor. Usami, a.k.a. Suzuki sensei smiled to himself seeing that everything was falling according to plan.
Considering the number of girls surrounding Usami occupying a great deal of space in the hallway, Usami figured that his target was the kind who'd rather walk on the liquid than tell the girls to move aside.
The pool of oil though not huge had scattered itself on the floor and the teen couldn't just leap on it. It would look so childish so, he like a man, just walked like nothing happened. Takahashi Misaki, despite being careful still got his shoes smeared with baby oil.
"Excuse me," Usami called out to Misaki. "You see a teacher on the hallway and you won't greet?"
Frowning Misaki almost glared at the man. He still had a little grudge for the smoking incident the other day. And he did bow when he noticed him there. Now he wanted him to greet? Like hell he would.
"Good morning...Suzuki-sensei..." Misaki greeted the teacher in the end.
However, the teacher turned his back and faced the girls, totally ignoring and forgetting Misaki's presence. Annoyed, Misaki stomped his way far from the intern. It was irritating as if the man was bullying him.
When Misaki pushed open the sliding doors of the covered court where the Swimming Area 3 was, he was welcomed by a strong scent of detergent and chlorine.
"Where are they?" Misaki asked aloud.
The whole area was empty and by the looks of it, a maintainance and clean up had been done. For a sensible student, Misaki should have stepped away and looked for his missing class. However, Misaki stepped in and darted his gaze at the still, artificially blue waters before him.
"They could have at least told me that we changed places..." he mumbled.
Eyeing the bleachers and the wet floors, Misaki forced himself to look and move closer to the pool.
If there was one thing Misaki couldn't accept, it was his inability to break free from the phobia. Like any other teenager, he wanted to learn to swim and feel once again the pressure and pleasure of water around him. The way he was now, he could even feel his knees starting to shake just thinking about taking a dip into it.
"What do you do to stop the phobia?" Misaki asked himself. "If only it was just some kind of virus that could be deleted..."
Gulping and sweating suddenly for nothing, Misaki took a step forward at the edge of the pool. Being alone in that place intensified the want inside the teen to test himself. It was a great opportunity for testing whether his fear had faded even in the slightest.
"What the heck...I think I am hyperventilating..."
The sudden want to be away from the huge pool prevailed. Somehow to Misaki's still fear stricken mind from childhood, the pool started taking a shape of a dark hand trying to take a hold of him.
And so, Misaki turned abruptly to walk away, only to loose his footing on the wet floor. It didn't help that the soles of his shoes still had the remnants of the oil earlier. When he tried to gain his balance using his other foot, he just helped himself fall into the pool he feared so much.
"This...this isn't happening..."
Fear taking its toll, Misaki could only stare at the open doors. He wanted to scream but before he could do it, he was already in the mercy of the waters. The salty, chemically treated water made its way into his mouth, blocking his airway.
"Some-" Misaki tried to stay afloat, his hands flailing in the air. The memories of his childhood and his present had collided into one, and the poor teen went into a mental panic.
Off he went deeper...deeper...and deeper into the bottom of his fear.
Usami Akihiko was standing on the hallway, pretending he was looking at the announcements plastered on the board. In reality he was visualizing the face of fear and slow death on Misaki. The girls had left him finally not long after Takahashi Misaki disappeared from their sights.
Everything was just as planned. Takahashi being left alone because of his pass, the other class with a flirt who loved using baby oils to look sexier in the pools, the maintainance of the Swimming Area 3. He had done his homework very well and reading to the teen's mind, Usami had predicted that Misaki would try to do a 'test of fear' since he was alone in a deserted pool.
Give or take, there would be a huge commotion within a matter of ten minutes.
"Suzuki-sensei..." a sweet voice called out.
Usami turned his head at the voice and mentally frowned. I just paid a little attention to her and now she wouldn't leave me alone?
"What?" Usami purposely acted cold. The flirt's purpose was already served. He doesn't need her anymore.
The girl, now in her swimming robes smiled sweetly at the older man. She totally didn't realize the cold treatment or if she did feel it, she was ignoring it.
"Someone had dropped something..."
Usami gritted his teeth. "Tsk. Then go and bring it to the lost and found."
Rubbing the side of her elbow, the girl exaggeratedly looked worried. "But sensei, you seem to know him so I thought it's better to let you give it back to him."
"You know the guy just a little while ago with dark brown hair and green eyes. You even scolded him for not greeting you."
Sighing, Usami wanted to strangle the girl before him. It took grave efforts to maintain his cool. If anything he hated those clingy and stupid types.
The girl pulled something out of the pocket of her robe and dangled it before Usami's cold, lavender eyes.
"I think this locket belongs to the guy earlier sensei..."
Usami could feel the orbs of his eyes dilating at the sight of that locket. Why he had something that looked exactly like it in his pocket. Except that the one he has still had the dried remains of blood on it.
By reflex, his long fingers snatched the locket away from the girl's grasp and opened it. It was as if he suddenly wanted to puke and he obviously lost all his color.
"Sensei? What's the matter?'
Usami stared hard at the picture inside the locket. Black hair, blue eyes, young and carefree smiling while carrying a smiling infant in his arms...
"That's my brother and I...please look for him..."
"Are you kidding me? This is practically a picture of an infant!"
"Tell him I'm sorry..."
"You're next job is to assassinate the Kazuo Heir, Takahashi Misaki."
"Don't tell me...Takahiro's brother..." Usami's unconsciously had closed his fingers tightly. His fingers digging in his flesh. "...Takahashi Misaki?"
His hands above his head, the only thing he could grasp was nothing but air. He cried out of fear and pain but his tears were nothing but just droplets compared to the vast water that was devouring him.
"Help! Help..." he coughed. But more water came in.
Losing his will to fight or the fight was the thing he was losing, Misaki didn't know any more. The cold water against his skin was fear itself. All around him was the dread of his past and the present that was nothing but death.
It hurts to breath...
More gasping from Misaki for dear life, but it didn't ease an ounce of crawling fear and despair around him.
It has been so long since Usami Akihiko felt that crushing feeling inside him. He didn't have time to think. Or it was more likely that his brains refused to think.
With a heart constricting with different emotions the cold, blooded killer forgot he still had, Usami turned his gaze at the stairs to the Swimming Area 3.
Takahiro in his dying moments failed to relay his young brother's name.
And Usami Akihiko after nine years finally, finally realized it. Only that the boy named Takahahsi Misaki, the one Usami was looking for probably was gasping for his last breath.
Chapter end notes:
Thank you for your time!