I was really hoping that it wouldn't take so long to update this story, but shit happens...every once in a while.
Thanks to everyone who is supporting this story. I'm happy that people like it so far :)
Chapter 2 – A new chance
Akinori was pacing back and forth, waiting impatiently for Misaki to come home. He was excited about telling Misaki the news, but at the same time he was rather nervous as well. It also didn't help that Takahiro, who had overheard the conversation Akinori was having with Fuyuhiko, seemed to be against the idea. Still, the raven haired teen couldn't find the willpower to protest; he knew that they didn't have much of a choice.
Silently, Takahiro walked towards the kitchen to prepare everything for tonight's dinner. "You said that Usami-san will be joining us for dinner?" Takahiro recalled questioningly, catching his father's attention. Akinori gave a quick nod as he suddenly dashed up the stairs, only to return a few seconds later with his cell phone in his hand. He sighed as he noticed that Misaki hadn't replied to his text message and looked over to his oldest son.
"Do you think that he'll be back in time?"
Takahiro flashed a soothing smile. "Don't worry dad. I'm sure he'll be here any minute." Washing the rice, Takahiro frowned. "I can't believe we'll be serving such an important man something as simple as curry rice."
Akinori chuckled softly and turned around. "Fuyuhiko-san is aware of our situation, Takahiro," he explained as he retrieved some plates from a cupboard, "He won't be complaining about the quality of the food."
Just as Takahiro was about to reply, the front door swung open. "I'm home!" a voice sounded through the apartment and the two easily recognized it as Misaki's voice. Akinori hurried to the hallway to greet his youngest son.
"Welcome back, Misaki. How was work?"
A smile played on the brunet's lips. "It was really crowded today, so that's a good sign," Misaki replied enthusiastically, "There was also a really nice guy who left me a tip."
"That's good to hear. Now, about the surprise…" Akinori tried to calm himself as he walked towards the living room with Misaki. As the two sat down, a large grin appeared on his face. "I can get you a better job, Misaki. You will be working for the Usami family, one of the wealthiest families in Japan. Fuyuhiko-san will be coming over this evening to talk things through with you."
Misaki wasn't sure if he had to be happy or concerned, but at that moment he was too shocked by the sudden news to think straight. "Wait, what? T-this evening? Do you mean that he'll be here soon?"
Akinori smiled and nodded. "If I'm not wrong, he said he'd be here at six." He followed Misaki's gaze as it wandered off to the clock and noticed how those emerald orbs widened in horror. Then, the brunet ran towards the kitchen to help Takahiro.
With a chuckle, Akinori walked over to a window to look outside, and he was surprised to see an expensive-looking black car in front of his house. Apparently, Fuyuhiko was the kind of man to arrive too early, but this didn't bother Akinori in the slightest. In a swift movement, he made his way to the front door, opening up to greet the Usami and his driver.
"Good evening, Fuyuhiko-san," he spoke politely, bowing deeply as the slightly older man approached him. Fuyuhiko had a bright, yet modest smile plastered on his face as he saw this warm welcome. He waved at the driver, an order to stay inside the car for the time being.
"Akinori-san, I'm delighted that you have agreed to my proposal. Now I hope that your son is willing to take the job offer as well." Following the father of the Takahashis, he entered the cozy apartment and took off his shoes on the genkan, carefully placing them next to the other pairs. While he wasn't used to such common courtesies, he respected the wishes of the family. After all, a reputable man like him had to maintain his image.
The sweet and spicy smell of curry greeted the older man's olfactory organ, and Fuyuhiko sat down at a chair at the head of the table. Akinori took the seat across from him.
"My sons are preparing dinner together," Akinori explained, his eyes darting to the two young men in the kitchen, "It seems as though it will be served soon."
Fuyuhiko glanced over his shoulders, following the other's gaze. "I'm impressed that both of your children are capable of doing housework. To be honest, my sons aren't even allowed into the kitchen, and they've never ever cleaned their own rooms. They could surely learn a lot from Misaki-kun."
"Well, Misaki and Takahiro both have got years of experience," Akinori said, laughing softly, even though the reason for this wasn't pleasant at all. His gaze saddened as he lowered his voice. "Ever since their mother passed away, they have been doing all the work around the house. Even now that I don't have a job, they still refuse to let me help them out."
Upon hearing about the mother's death, Fuyuhiko's eyes narrowed. "What happened to her?" he asked carefully, speaking as softly as Akinori.
"When Misaki was eight years old, his mother and I had to go on an important trip. Unfortunately, Misaki caught a cold and ended up getting a fever, so we were reluctant to leave him. In the end, Misaki told us to go, and we tried to return home as quickly as possible." Taking a deep breath, Akinori stared into his son's direction lifelessly. "When we were on our way back, it suddenly started to rain, and because the road was slippery we ended up in a car accident. According to Takahiro, his mother and I were taken to the hospital immediately."
"How did your sons find out?"
Akinori shrugged. "I'm not sure, but I suppose someone called them after the accident, and he and Misaki went to the hospital as fast as they could…despite Misaki's fever. Honestly, I don't know a lot about the accident, because I ended up in a coma. My wife passed away while I was still unconscious, which left my boys with no one to care for them. According to Takahiro, Misaki was heartbroken and depressed, constantly feeling guilty for his mother's death."
Fuyuhiko looked at the young brunet again, studying his happy expression. This boy…he had such a dark, sad past, and yet he managed to smile and hum as though nothing was wrong. For some reason, he began to believe that Misaki was indeed a suitable candidate for the job.
"Excuse me, Fuyuhiko-san," Akinori said a little louder, "Are you still listening?"
"Yes, I'm sorry…I got distracted." Fuyuhiko's gaze returned to the man again. "What happened after you regained consciousness?"
"Well, of course my children were very relieved that they didn't lose their father as well, and most things went back to normal. They missed their mother, but other than that we managed to get over everything and move on…except for Misaki. Although he never showed it to me, I've always known that his guilt was killing him inside, and I tried everything to make him believe that it wasn't his fault. Yet…he still blames himself for everything and that has changed him."
There was a silence as Akinori looked down to the table, unable to utter another word. Fuyuhiko noticed his discomfort and decided to keep silent as well. Their attention was caught by a loud voice exclaiming that the food was ready. Takahiro and Misaki then brought everything to the dining table, took off their aprons and sat down.
"I must say that it smells delicious and it looks great too," Fuyuhiko praised the two.
"Thank you!" the two brothers said in unison before digging in. The Usami couldn't help but smile as he noticed how close the two Takahashis were—completely the opposite of his own children. As everyone started to eat, he kept his eyes on Misaki, who was enjoying his meal without a care in the world.
'I wonder if he can help,' Fuyuhiko thought as he took a bite. There was only one way to find out, so Fuyuhiko cleared his throat and put his spoon down. "Misaki-kun, I would like to offer you a job at the Usami Estate," the man spoke in a clear voice. Normally, he would've addressed any potential employees by their surname, but it would be too confusing with the other Takahashi brother around.
Large green eyes darted up as Misaki swallowed his food. "What kind of job do you have in mind, Usami-san?" he asked carefully. In all honesty, Misaki was kind of nervous to hear what his task would be. After all, the Usami family was rich, so he could get any kind of job.
"It has something to do with family bonding." At this, the young brunet looked up and blinked in surprise, not entirely understanding what Fuyuhiko meant. "Your father has told me that you can easily befriend others, so perhaps you could try to improve other people's relationships as well."
"Do you…have family issues, Usami-san?"
"I'd rather not talk too much about my own family right now, if you don't mind. However, I do want to give you some information on the job. First of all, if you accept my offer, you agree that you will be staying at the Usami Estate until your services are no longer needed. You will get your own room and you're still allowed to go to school and your part-time job. Your pay will be 500,000 yen per month and—"
"¥500,000?!" Misaki cut him off, taken aback by the amount of money Fuyuhiko was offering him. It sure was a lot of money, especially since Misaki didn't have any proper education aside from high school.
Fuyuhiko nodded calmly and continued. "The money will be credited automatically to your father's bank account, unless you have any objections."
Wide-eyed, Misaki stared at the man in disbelief. The job offer sounded way too good to be true, but then again…Fuyuhiko knew that they needed the money. He looked as his father, who had a wide smile plastered on his face while he gazed at the head of the Usami family. By then, Misaki understood that he couldn't refuse; he would disappoint his entire family if he would, and it would seem selfish.
"Misaki-kun, what do you think of my offer?" Kind grey eyes studied the young brunet carefully, and Fuyuhiko smiled when a few soft words of approval came from Misaki's lips. After finishing his food, Fuyuhiko rose from his seat and watched as Takahiro started clearing the table. Just when Misaki was about to help his brother, Fuyuhiko placed a large hand on his shoulder, causing the boy to look at him.
"What is it, Usami-san?" he questioned.
"Please go pack your stuff so we can go to the Usami Estate. My driver is waiting in the car outside, so please come when you're ready to go." With that, Fuyuhiko turned around to talk to Akinori some more, and Misaki climbed the stairs and made his way to his bedroom. After finding himself a large bag which was lying purposelessly under his bed, he packed everything he needed. Aside from the most important things, he also packed an old volume of his favorite manga and then proceeded putting everything in the bag.
'It's all happening so fast,' Misaki thought as he threw the bag over his shoulder, 'I wonder what the Usami Estate looks like. It must be a very large place.' Thinking about this made him feel rather sad. It would probably take a while to get used to the new environment and he was sure that he was going to miss his own family.
"Misaki, are you almost done?" Akinori asked as he knocked on the bedroom door, "Don't make Fuyuhiko-san wait too long, okay?"
"Ah—I'm ready, dad!" Misaki replied as he opened the door and dashed out, nearly tackling his father as he did so. Swiftly, he made his way downstairs and put on his shoes and coat, glancing over his shoulder to meet Takahiro's gaze. Brown eyes looked rather sad, even though Takahiro was smiling.
"I'm going to miss you, Misaki," the older brother said, throwing his arms around the younger one.
"Nii-chan, don't be like that. I promise I'll stay in touch with you." After releasing himself from the other's tight embrace, Misaki bid his family goodbye and walked out of the apartment, instantly spotting a flashy-looking car on the other side of the road. As he approached the car, the driver took his luggage and opened the car door so he could take a seat in the back, next to Fuyuhiko.
The driver walked to the front of the car and took the driver's seat, putting on his seatbelt while he started the vehicle. He then glanced at Fuyuhiko, who gave him a sign that they were ready to leave, and the car drove off.
"Now then…" Fuyuhiko started as his gaze returned to Misaki, "Since you will be working for me it's time to tell you something about my family. I have two sons and they are both very different. My oldest son is Haruhiko, who is currently 19 years old and he's an architecture student. Akihiko, my second son, turned 17 last month and will be in his final year of high school once spring break is over. Their personalities and interests aren't alike at all, which may be the reason why the two of them don't get along well."
Misaki nodded in understanding while he imagined what Haruhiko and Akihiko would be like. He had never understood how siblings could not get along; he and Takahiro never fought about anything.
"It is your task to strengthen the bond my sons share and make them get along with one another. I've tried to do so for many years, but it appears that my methods aren't very effective." Fuyuhiko scratched the back of his head and laughed sheepishly as though he were embarrassed, but then turned serious again. "I hate to admit it, but Haruhiko and Akihiko can't stand each other."
"That's what I've been trying to figure out for years, but they won't talk to me about it." A loud sigh came from the older man's lips. "I was ready to give up when your father told me about your talent."
Misaki blushed. "I wouldn't call it a talent, really. I'm simply used to talking to people and socializing."
"It surely will prove useful though," Fuyuhiko decided, turning his head to gaze out of the window, "I hope that you can become friends with my boys, Misaki-kun. They can be hard to deal with, but I'm sure that you'll do just fine."
An uncomfortable silence fell upon the two as Misaki looked down at his hands. All of a sudden, he felt the many responsibilities that he carried with him now that he had promised to help the Usami family. It was making him indescribably nervous and a tad scared. What if he couldn't do it? What if he was only going to disappoint Fuyuhiko?
"Misaki-kun?" The brunet looked up to see a pair of friendly eyes gaze at him softly. He bit his lip, trying to hide his worry, but his mask wasn't good enough to hide his true feelings. A gentle smile crossed Fuyuhiko's face. "Don't worry, I know that you will get there eventually. There's no need to rush it."
Although the words were simple and rather clichéd, they did a lot to reassure Misaki. Bright emerald orbs sparkled faintly as the corners of Misaki's lips curved upwards. "Thank you, Usami-san."
Now you know what Misaki's 'job' is going to be. I'm sure he'll do just fine, right?
Thanks for reading and please review ^_^