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Sato Jirou

0 · 599 views · located in Tokyo, Japan

a character in “Purple Rain”, as played by cl.love

Description

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full name - sato jirou 佐藀 ζ¬‘ιƒŽ ; age - seventeen ; sexuality - homosexual
face claim - miyamura izumi, horimiya ; creator - cl.love


ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxi've been sleeping with this silence in my mind,xx❋

XX A p p e a r a n c e
Not much stands out in Jirou's appearance. He has a slightly-above-average height of 170 centimeters and whilst not a body-builder by any means, he has good strength, stamina, and flexibility. ( Ν‘Β° ΝœΚ– Ν‘Β°) He doesn't quite excel at sports but he does often put more effort in than his classmates. Jirou's skin is pale but clear, blemishes hidden under a barely noticeable layer of makeup. His hair is black, perfectly straight, and long, hanging just past his shoulders. xx
Jirou is very careful with how his appearance influences his public image. At school he's almost invisible- clean uniform fitting all school guidelines, thin-wired glasses, hair kept loose but neatly combed. Jirou has tight control over his expressions in almost every situation, the exception being when he's angry. His sharp glare could probably kill and when he can be incredibly intimidating when he wants to be. It's just that normally, he doesn't want to be. xx
In the Red Light District, however, it's almost like Jirou is an entirely different person. He often wears his school uniform while there in order to draw in customers but abandons the studious look- sleeves and pant legs rolled up, open buttons, and contact lenses to avoid his glasses being accidentally broken. Jirou is a master manipulator and when he's trying, he can be more seductive than even some of the younger working girls, a gift in his line of work. xx

XX P e r s o n a l i t y
As with his appearance, Jirou is also careful of how he acts around others. Or as careful as he can be, at least. Jirou is easily angered and wears his emotions on his cheek- he's not skilled enough to hide his emotions entirely, and if they will show clearly if strong enough, but Jirou does know how to bite his tongue and shut up. This is mostly due to the necessity of keeping a low profile in school. He's polite but distant from others, having made it clear from freshman year that he's not the making-friends type, and with that established, most of his classmates leave him be. xx
Jirou, when not surrounded by classmates (and thusly, potential threats) he's a bit more open with his emotions, though not by much, and more often than not those emotions will be yet another mask for him to hide behind. Jirou is clever and manipulative as a result of his occupation, though not the type to take advantage of someone who isn't actively an asshole. He's observant and cautious, but he is kind and will help others when needed, if carefully so. xxx

XX H i s t o r y
Jirou was born to an older woman whose younger boyfriend bailed on her the second he knew she was pregnant. Ai, who had no partner and no relatives to help her, relocated to a cheap, one-room apartment- the place she and her son would come to live for the next seventeen years. She gave birth in the apartment with the help of a neighbor who was a retired midwife, and she named her son Jirou, in honor of her father. And thus, Sato Jirou's life began. xx
From a young age, Jirou recognized that his mother was different from other people. She said strange things, saw people when Jirou did not, and sometimes lost track of what she was doing. Jirou quickly learned to cook and clean and take care of his mother as best he could. Ai had been a model student in her youth, had dreamed of becoming a college professor, and her greatest wish was for Jirou to be as accomplished as she was and be able to achieve his dreams where she did not. Jirou took her wish to heart and studied hard, working day and night to fulfill her vision. xx
Ai's condition only worsened as Jirou got older. Her delusions became more pressing, emotional outbursts more frequent, and she eventually got fired from job after job after job. Unable to work, Ai stayed at home full-time, and while on some days she could cook and clean on her own, most days she relied on Jirou for everything. And so he was faced with a decision: institutionalize his mother so she could get help, or find a way to support them himself. xx
It wasn't a difficult decision. The last thing he wanted was for his mother to be separated from him. As a minor, Jirou was at a loss on finding a job that would hire him, but after a loosely-defined sexual encounter with a horny male classmate, Jirou came to realize that there were a lot more ways to make money than he had yet considered. xx
❋xxxcharacter sheet and content by cl.lovexxxImagexxxImagexxxImage
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So begins...

Sato Jirou's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kanayama Takashi Character Portrait: Sato Jirou Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by cl.love
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XX Sato Jirouxx#836F6E

In a big city like Tokyo, where there's a massive amount of schools to choose from, it's common for elementary school students to graduate and never see one another again. Middle school is the same, and Jirou suspects that he won't see his high school classmates after graduating, either.

And yet, despite the fact that not one of Jirou's friends have been in the same school as him once he graduates, he's managed to find the same group of Type-A bullies in every single one.

It's incredibly annoying that what attracts said bullies is his plainness, rather than the plethora of actual grievances he's sure they could find if they looked hard enough. Hell, he could get expelled just for being seen in Kabukichou, but no, these idiots are pissed off because he wears glasses.

Glasses that very nearly got broken with that last punch, Jirou might add.

The four boys from another class whose names Jirou never bothered learning all tower over him, offering up insults and suggestions for torture that Jirou mostly tunes out. There's nothing these arrogant dumbasses can do to intimidate him. Their punches aren't even particularly hard.

Jirou takes a hit to the stomach and he falls to the floor in a heap. Someone laughs, but it fades as Jirou sits up and stares off into the distance, struggling a bit to regulate his breathing- not that his expression would show it. Someone steps on Jirou's fingers and he barely even flinches, just does his best to keep his fingers flat and spread apart so they can't twist somehow and break.

Jirou can tell the bullies are getting bored, and he wishes they'd get bored faster. Break is almost over. And then, as if in answer, the boys scatter like they were never there.

Jirou doesn't bother wondering why, just takes the blessing as it comes and heads back to class.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kanayama Takashi Character Portrait: Sato Jirou Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

Takashi didn't know whether he should be exasperated or proud, considering that the current situation was not unfamiliar to him.

Kubo Chigusa, a girl who was a year below him, was presently bowed in front of Takashi, her rigid body at a solid eighty-degree angle (
a tad excessive, is it not?). Her arms were stretched out in front of her, presenting Takashi a cute little envelope with his name written on it in red ink and bubbly handwriting. Kubo herself was a typical Japanese girl: black hair, bangs, petite stature. Takashi had absolutely no idea if he had seen her before, and was sure he wouldn't be able to pick her out from a crowd.

Takashi never understood what thought process girls went through that made them think it was reasonable to confess to someone they maybe spoke to once or twice. Of course, he knew why they went after him, at the risk of sounding arrogant. Takashi knew his unique appearance drew looks wherever he went. His reputation was solid, and he was a star athlete. And of course, there was his name and his money.


"Kubo-chan," Takashi gave her a charming smile, placing a hand on her shoulder. Her head jerked up at the contact. "I'm flattered, truly; anyone would be, if they had the honor of attracting your attention. However, I'm not interested in dating right now -- it's my last year, and I'm quite busy -- so I'm afraid I have to decline. I appreciate your sentiments, though, Kubo-chan."

With those last words, Takashi gave Kubo a soft smile, before briskly turning on his heel and walking in the opposite direction. His few moments of silence were quickly interrupted, however.

"Hey, Takashi-kun!" Kousuke waved Takashi over to him. "Break is almost over, let's go."

Doi Kousuke was Takashi's friend of three years; while they weren't particularly close, Kousuke was easy to get along with, and their circumstances fit conveniently. Along with being in the same class, the two were both athletes and in the same social circles.

"You know, you're way too nice to those girls," Kousuke immediately jumped into conversation. "That's why they keep coming to you in droves. You know, if you wanna get them off your back, you can just be really honest, even if it's kinda harsh. Look at Otsu-san; he's just as popular as you, but he rejects girls straight up without some fancy flattery. People still like him."


"Well first of all, that's literally his entire image. Otsu-san is the cool, stoic guy from dramas who everyone swoons over even if he can be a dick sometimes." Takashi let out a dramatic sigh, prompting Kousuke to snicker. Besides, what's wrong with flattering the girls? They're not bad people, and it makes them feel better anyway. And I'm not even lying to them -- I was flattered, but I'm not interested in dating."

"You know Takashi-kun, you are weirdly nice sometimes . . ." Kousuke continued rambling, but Takashi wasn't listening. Instead, Takashi was staring at a group of boys he saw out of the corner of his eye; they were located in an area that could easily be overlooked if one wasn't paying attention. They seemed to be surrounding something, laughing and cheering raucously. Takashi strained his neck to see what was catching their attention, when he realized (to his mild horror), that they were beating someone up. The boy, like Kubo, possessed pretty typical Japanese features -- like most of the school (although Takashi, with his blonde hair and heterochromatic eyes, probably couldn't say much on the topic). Interestingly enough, he was essentially doing nothing to defend himself -- he didn't even try to stop the bullies from landing punches on him.

Before Takashi could consider stepping in, the four bullies flocked away from the boy, leaving him there. Takashi vaguely recognized him as someone from his class -- was it Hiro? Ryo? Something along those lines. Hiro-Ryo-whoever got up and moved on with his day.

"Takashi-kun," Kousuke droned, sounding a little annoyed. "What's up with you today? Whatever, it's time to get to class, start moving you snail."

---

"So, Taka-kun. How's school."

Takashi and Aki were currently in a private room of a Korean barbeque restaurant, the latter of the two flipping the meat in her typical blasΓ© manner.

"Aneki, you know you're my favorite sister, and I love you, but I have to ask: why are we here? Why are you doing this?" Aki was very much a quietly deliberative person -- Takashi felt it perfectly correct to assume that every single thing she did had some ulterior motive.

"Not everything I do has an ulterior motive," Aki chided, as if reading Takashi's mind. "I'm honored that you think your favorite sister is a mastermind, but sometimes I just feel the temptation to treat my favorite and littlest sibling -- who is still in high school -- to a meal. So. How is school?"

"You already know. It's boring, and I'm still bad at it. Well, actually . . . there was this guy."

Aki continued flipping the meat on the grill, but smirked knowingly. Takashi had no idea what warranted it; Aki did things like that quite often, where she made deductions but never explained her thought process -- making Takashi feel incredibly incompetent, even more so than usual. He continued talking, knowing that it was a lost cause to question Aki's every move.

"Yeah, so this guy was getting beat up. But he literally did nothing to even try to stop it. He just sat there and let it happen. Why would you let yourself get pushed around like that? I don't understand."

"Hmm. Some people simply don't want to draw attention to themselves. Having others attack you without an attempt at self-defense is perhaps a little much, but everyone does what they must. Taka-kun, why don't you have a tutor?"

Takashi scowled slightly. "Otou-sama would figure out and get irritated that I can't succeed in school on my own like you three." And I don't want to disappoint him, he thought. Takashi's three sisters were essentially geniuses -- they probably wouldn't understand.

"Not everything has to be about otou-san. Most things aren't about that singular, little man. If it bothers you so much, then you should probably find a way to keep it out of his reach. It would be a good skill to have, Taka-kun."

"Why can't you tutor me? You're the smartest person I know."

"Taka-kun, I'm not the teaching type. And I'm busy. You could ask someone from school."

"Yeah, but then they would know how dumb I am. I would really hate for that to happen."

"You could always blackmail someone." At Takashi's uncomfortable expression, Aki quickly began to change gears. "You could offer them something in return, along with the blackmail, if you want to be so moral. A little manipulation doesn't have to hurt anyone."

Takashi felt a little hesitant. In addition to just not wanting to blackmail anyone, especially someone who probably didn't deserve it, he probably wouldn't be good at it either. But maybe Aki was right -- maybe he didn't have to actually hurt someone in the process. "Fine," he said, determined. "If an opportunity comes walking, I'll try that. Are you sure there isn't an easier solution to this?"

Aki shrugged. "This option sounds the most fun. Keep your eyes open, Taka-kun."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kanayama Takashi Character Portrait: Sato Jirou Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by cl.love
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XX Sato Jirouxx#836F6E

Jirou feels eyes on him several times throughout class, and it serves as an annoying distraction. He doesn't look to find out who it is- that'd be too obvious, and the last thing he wants is for the person to actually confront him. He has no time for friends, and he's bullied enough already.

By the end of the day, he's more than ready to get out of the building.

Three days pass, and Jirou racks up a list of theories on who might be staring at him. He's a little surprised no one else has noticed it. He may not be the most well-liked person in class, but there are always one or two girls who will tell him if someone's planning to beat him up later on. The fact that none of them have come forward means that whoever it is, they know how to be discrete.


What a pain.

He ends up mostly tuning it all out. What's the point in thinking about it all the time if he can't go around finding answers anyway? He can't afford to get distracted this close to graduation.

On the fourth day, however, he starts noticing someone- Kanayama Takashi.

Or, well, starts actually paying attention to him. It's impossible not to notice him- that blond hair stands out in a sea of black, and Jirou's heard rumors of his light-colored eyes, though he's never been close enough to see for himself. And he thought blue eyes attracted too much attention.

Kanayama is also a God among men in their school. A king, prince charming. The kind of person Jirou will never trust because they're rich as shit and probably only nice to gain popularity.

Yeah, not someone Jirou would ever willingly associate with.

Which of course is a signal to the universe that they should absolutely be forced together.

Jirou finds himself stuck with Kanayama. They're at the top of their class in gym, yet almost the exact level as each other. They run at the same pace and end up at each other's side every lap. It's awkward as fuck, and Jirou kind of wants to just slack off in gym for the rest of forever.

(He knows he can't; losing strength or stamina is probably the worst thing to let happen with the job he has. He needs the ability to defend himself if he needs to or he'll be completely screwed.)

Jirou almost gets paired with Kanayama for a class exercise, just barely saved by someone else claiming Kanayama for themselves- not like Jirou wanted to be partnered with him anyway. He'd much rather work alone, but the girl he gets stuck with instead is nice enough, and she's studious enough to not get distracted, so the exercise ends without Jirou ripping his hair by the roots.

But then one day he gets stuck ferrying boxes of paperwork from storage to the teacher's lounge.

And who could he possibly get stuck doing it with but fucking Kanayama.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kanayama Takashi Character Portrait: Sato Jirou Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

Over the next few days, Takashi made sure to take Aki's message of keeping his eyes open to heart.

Okay, so she probably didn't mean it this way. Maybe she did -- Takashi wouldn't know. What he did know was that Aki was always rather mysterious (frustratingly enough), and that she was quite fond of double entendres.

So what if Takashi spent the next few days watching Hiro-Ryo-whoever (who actually turned out to be a guy named Sato Jirou)? There was no harm in it; even if Takashi did pay more attention in class instead of watching Sato, it's not like he would get any better at the material.

Through his limited observations, Takashi . . . did not learn much, honestly. Sato seemed like a good student (
apparently, besides growing up with absurdly smart people, they're also the only people I find interesting). Other than that, he was one of the plainest dudes Takashi knew, and honestly, in high school, a lot of people start to blur together. Even so, Takashi could point to someone he knew and say that they were a great swimmer, or to the popular girls and say which one of them liked to wear bright lip tints and always got in trouble for it. Sato had none of that. He was like a mid-toned gray paint swatch, not even interesting enough to be compared to a piece of granite.

On the fourth day, however, Takashi learned that Sato was actually a good runner. They matched each other the entire time during laps, which admittedly, made Takashi just the slightest bit bitter that he couldn't just have his one strength to himself.


Don't say that to yourself, man. Positive thoughts! Remember, Takashi, you're actually pretty decent at English and German and Chinese, even though you kinda suck everywhere else. As the son of the absurdly rich and traditional Kanayamas and a foreign business mogul, Takashi was tutored extensively in foreign languages when he was younger. He supposed that the only reason he picked them up decently was due to the fact that he was always good at talking. Strangely enough, Takashi didn't get a tutor for anything else.

On a side note, during Takashi's intense trials of trying to learn more about the very plain Sato Jirou, he stumbled across the revelation that Jirou's name had the same romanization as the Chinese terms for chicken meat and muscle. Muscle may have been more flattering, but chicken meat was certainly more amusing. Takashi made sure to remember that.

Later, Takashi very nearly got paired up with Sato for a class exercise, but Kousuke jumped in to partner up with him at the last second. Which was honestly rather stupid, considering that Takashi is not the brightest bulb on the chandelier.

A few days later, though, Takashi's English teacher (who liked him because Takashi was actually pretty great at his class) cheerily requested Takashi and Sato to help him carry some boxes of paperwork after class. Honestly, Takashi didn't mind doing menial tasks, especially if it was for his English teacher (who, once again, liked Takashi because he was actually good at English). But add Sato to the equation, and honestly, Takashi was a little excited. It sounded pretty idiotic to be excited at such a prospect, but school was rather boring and predictable for Takashi -- he was dumb, girls thought he was captivating, and people wanted to be his friend. Takashi had no problem with routine, but he did like to experience something new --
and something new and exciting equates to having to carry boxes of paperwork with some really boring guy. God, Takashi, you are genuinely so pathetic; if Father disowns you, at least you'll understand why.

"Sato Jirou, right?" Takashi asked amicably as the two walked side by side to the teacher's lounge. "I've seen you around -- clearly, since we're in the same class -- but it's great to actually talk to you. How are you doing in English?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kanayama Takashi Character Portrait: Sato Jirou Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by cl.love
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XX Sato Jirouxx#836F6E

"Sato Jirou, right?"

Fuck, he knows my name.

It's not hard for Jirou to keep a disgusted look off his face - he's been at this too long to let things slip now - but by God, Jirou wishes he were literally anywhere else in this goddamn school.

Jirou glances at Kanayama. The guy is smiling, as if he were talking to his best friend. Is that why people like him? Because he acts like everyone is his friend? What kind of bullshit is that?! Jirou has been hiding his own emotions for too long to not recognize someone else doing the same.

And he isn't a hypocrite- not really. After all, Jirou isn't manipulating people with his lies.

"
I've seen you around -- clearly, since we're in the same class -- but it's great to actually talk to you. How are you doing in English?" Kanayama continues, completely baffling Jirou.

Why on Earth does he give a shit?!

Jirou thinks back to the previous few days, remembers the unknown eyes staring at him all day. It occurs to him that Kanayama might well have been the person staring at him. Fuck.

Why? Why would Prince Kanayama want anything to do with him?!

Jirou's not quite sure why Kanayama pisses him off so bad, other than the fact that he's been stuck near the guy for way too long, but he's pissed off. He's being bothered by the richest, poshest boy in the entire school for no good goddamn reason and he really just wants to go home already.

So Jirou goes against his (much, much) better judgement and shoots Kanayama a scathing look. Eyes narrowed, shoulders tense, fingers gripping his box like a lifeline in murky water.

"
I'm acing it," He says. Looks Kanayama in the eye. "Second in our class, after you."

Jirou steps first into the teacher's lounge and drops his box where he was instructed, then leaves the room without another word. It isn't until he's back in class that Jirou realizes he's fucked up.

He just taunted someone. Not someone- Kanayama Takashi. Likely the most powerful person in the entire school. He might not have said anything particularly insulting, but there's no way Kanayama missed his tone. And what for? What was the point? There was no point! Fuck.

Jirou takes his seat, heaves a sigh. What's the point in worrying? Even if Kanayama gets pissed back and retaliates, it's not like it'll be any different from the hundreds of other times he's been beaten to a pulp. Hell, maybe it'll even be interesting for once! Jirou almost laughs at himself. How did he end up like this, looking forward to a possible beating? He knows exactly how.


Well, Jirou supposes, A harsher beating than normal is probably the worst that can happen.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kanayama Takashi Character Portrait: Sato Jirou Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

Takashi kept a genial smile on his face, but internally, his jaw dropped when Sato glared at him as if Takashi killed his puppy. His piercing blue eyes were like shards of ice, stabbing Takashi's soul with a rush of cold.

"I'm acing it. Second in our class, after you." And with that final, scathing sentence, Sato dropped his box off in the teacher's lounge and stalked off back towards the classroom.

For the rest of the day, Takashi ruminated over the interaction between him and Sato -- which sounded truly, truly pathetic, but there really wasn't anything more interesting to do. Takashi was, in all honesty, a little sad by Sato's response. He was some parts surprised that he managed to spark such a scandalous reaction from Mr. Gray Paint Swatch, but for the most part, Takashi was merely confused. As far as he knew, Takashi didn't do anything to hurt or offend Sato, and Takashi's reputation was rock-solid. A lot of the other popular guys had somewhat controversial images -- the most obvious example was Otsu Osamu, the school's ice prince. While much of the student body swooned over his cold character and "cool guy image", Otsu definitely projected the demeanor of a complete asshole. And then, of course, there was a small group of jocks who talked shit about the girls in their class behind their backs and didn't even do a good job of hiding it.

But Takashi? Takashi was known as the nice guy. At a huge risk of sounding arrogant, Takashi knew that he was the guy everybody loved because his entire image was someone who was kind and helped people out. Of course, there were some people who disliked him, but they were mainly guys who wanted to seem tough, and subsequently thought of Takashi as a prissy little bitch.
Maybe Sato's one of those guys. Except Sato's the kind of guy who would be beaten up by those pretentious assholes.

As always, when Takashi had a problem he couldn't solve, he consulted his sister.

"Aki, you know that guy I told you about at the Korean barbeque restaurant?" Takashi tentatively brought up the topic a few days later. Aki was researching something on her personal laptop, and usually she would multitask as Takashi asked her for advice, but this time, Aki slammed the laptop shut and gave Takashi her full attention, looking surprisingly eager for her blasΓ© self.

"The guy?" Aki crooned in the way she did when she knew something that no one else did. Takashi frowned.

"Well, I did just say that, didn't I? I tried to talk to him a few days ago, and he glared at me like I did something to personally wrong him. Like I killed his precious puppy or something. Why would he dislike me so much? I think I'm a pretty nice person."

Aki leaned back in her chair, taking a long sip of her Darjeeling tea. "Taka-kun, while I do know you as someone who is rather concerned with being liked by everybody, I must say that you usually do not linger on a particular person, especially one so insignificant."

"No one's insignificant."

"You know what I mean."

"I feel like you definitely know something I don't -- something that would probably help me out right now -- but for some reason, you aren't putting me out of my misery."

"Hmm, sounds about right, to an extent. I just think this is something you should discover on your own."

Takashi was fully aware of the dead expression in his eyes, and was about to retort when the door swung open. There, standing in the doorway of Aki's personal office, in the house that was typically reserved for Takashi, Aki, and the maids, was the eldest Kanayama child -- the devil herself, Kanayama Rina.

Takashi's head swung towards Aki, who looked similarly shocked, but mostly disgusted.
What is she doing here?! Last time I checked, she was working in Mother's company -- in Germany. Rina never comes back home -- I can't even remember the last time she left the Western hemisphere by choice. Takashi, in all honesty, did not know his eldest sister very well, but he and Aki did not have the best relationship with her.

Rina sent a glare full of disdain at Aki, who was looking extremely displeased.
"Still wasting your life away, aren't you, Aki? You never really matured." Rina's condescending gaze swiveled to Takashi and lingered. "Takashi-kun, you've always been such an idiot. Wasting your time with this parasite?" Rina nodded jerkily in Aki's direction, who gave the elder a stony look, grinding her jaw. "The smart choice would be to study, which is something you desperately need, and to surround yourself with positive influences. Apparently, even with your disappointing grades, you are still going downhill. There is no rock bottom for you, is there?"

"Now that's no way to announce your presence in this venerable home, is it, Rina?" Whatever tone Sato could ever use with Takashi could never match up to the way Aki was speaking to Rina. "I must say, I finally understand why you keep pushing your excessive and pathetic campaign of being a proper, well-mannered, and respectable woman. You're so inherently inferior and . . . unsatisfactory that such an act is perhaps the only way you can live with yourself in this big, bad world. I must remind you however -- no classy woman would ever defecate in the hallway like a dog and spread their shit around in public. Darling, the bathroom is down the hall, you can roll in your own shit over there."

Rina glared coldly, fuming as she tucked her neat strawberry-brown hair behind her ear. "Respect your elders, you infantile bastard. Your little rebellious phase has never done you any favors, Aki. When will you finally grow up and join the rest of us in the real world?"

Aki chuckled in the way she did when she was about to threaten someone in Kabukichou, finally standing up and slowly striding over to Rina. "Rina, Rina, Rina. Always pretending, pretending, pretending, to make up for your complete and utter lack of competence. You've truly convinced yourself that you're somehow on the same level as otou-san -- who, despite having the intelligence of a kakapo and the competence of a sniveling intern, still adds up to something that far exceeds whatever you are. Let me tell you right now -- you can eat, drink, or breathe all the gold you want, but your shit still smells -- and I'm gagging. So why don't you clean up your mess like a good girl while Taka-kun and I go do things that actually have a sound effect on the world, instead of being another mindless drone running in a circle like you?" Aki grabbed Takashi by the wrist and pulled him towards the door, their combined force pushing Rina out into the hallway. With her other hand, Aki slammed the door and locked it, glaring stonily at Rina during every second of it. Aki then pushed the eldest to the side and let go of Takashi's wrist, striding forward. Takashi didn't even spare Rina a glance, following Aki out of the house.

"For someone who talks such a big game, you've never done anything of importance, Aki!" Rina called. "What a waste of intelligence."

"You've always lived in your own self-importance, Rina. There's more to the world than what little you know." Aki slammed the door.

Takashi trailed after his sister, who was still grinding her jaw.
"It's not like you to go on a tirade like that," Takashi said mildly. "You're usually not so . . . volatile, in your responses. But that was a surprise, wasn't it? I didn't know Rina was coming home. I thought she was still working in Germany."

"I thought so too. Another day, another disappointment," Aki rubbed her temples. "You were always the pacifist, Taka-kun. There's too much of an age difference between you and Rina to understand, and I have the unfortunate affliction of being able to remember my childhood with her. We're going to Kabukichou, there's some business I need to take care of."

Takashi didn't respond, but what Aki said was right. He didn't really know Rina at all, although what little relationship they had wasn't entirely positive -- and on that note, Takashi wasn't particularly familiar with Hikari, either. He only ever had a relationship with Aki, and it seemed like it would stay that way.

"Taka-kun, you remember Kyuu?" Aki murmured. Takashi nodded in response. In Aki's system, they referred to drug dealers by a number. Kyuu was number nine, and usually dealt in illegal prescription drugs rather than things like hallucinogens.

"Well, he's been a bit naughty. He thinks he can pocket some of the shit he's selling under my nose, but it looks like unlucky number nine came to bite him in the ass," Aki grumbled. "He's not particularly intelligent. I think you can just go track him down and teach him a lesson, he won't need much more than that."

Takashi nodded in agreement. He knew he didn't seem like the kind of person who would roam Kabukichou, beating up people who didn't listen to his sister. But Aki taught him a long time ago that criminal activities -- drug dealing, prostitution, money laundering, etc. -- would never disappear. Instead of trying to eradicate it completely, it was more effective to control it, and Takashi found himself agreeing with that.

"All right, I'll go ahead with that. What are you going to do?"

Aki shrugged, murmuring, "it seems that there's an issue that is presenting an increasing threat. It's quite unclear what it is, right now. I need to ask around a bit more -- we might have to wait this out too, for more information."

Aki's words took Takashi by surprise. Aki practically always knew what was happening -- mainly because of her intellect, but also because the problems in the criminal underground tended to be consistent and somewhat predictable. If Aki was baffled by something, Takashi knew it was something big.

Hopefully, it would all blow over without much drama.

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XX Sato Jirouxx#836F6E

Kanayama, thank God, does absolutely nothing to Jirou.

Whether Kanayama isn't as smart as he thought and didn't catch his tone, or just didn't care, Jirou has no idea, but the part of him that thinks refuses to tempt fate by trying to figure it out.


Or maybe Kanayama just really is that nice, Jirou considers, briefly. Yeah, I doubt it's that.

The rest of the school day flies by, same as always, but there's a beautiful lack of pissed-off boys waiting for him when he leaves. Jirou wonders why he's been so strangely lucky today. Oh, how funny would it be if the "luck" is simply Kanayama tricking him into a sense of security.

Well, if he gets jumped sometime tomorrow, he'll know.

Neither Kanayama nor any of Jirou's usual tormentors are in sight, and somehow, it only puts him more on edge, but he manages to make it home perfectly alright.
Today is so fucking weird.

The strange normalcy of his afternoon is completely shattered once he gets home, however.

Jirou hears yelling as he approaches the complex, and right at the top of the stairs is the landlord, who looks like she's absolutely fuming. Jirou's elderly neighbor, Noriko-san, is stood between the landlord and Jirou's apartment, and that's enough for him to guess exactly what's going on.

"
Sawabe-san," He says. Both women whirl on him.

Noriko barely has time to say his name and look vaguely relieved before Jirou's face is full of too much makeup and a very angry scowl. "Took you long enough! Where the hell were you?!"

Jirou scowls back. "
I'm still a student, Sawabe-san. I was at school."

"Yeah, well I've been waiting her for half an hour while your crazy mom goes crazy!"

Jirou turns a burning glare on Sawabe, and she flinches, though she doesn't apologize or even act like she wants to. Jirou can hear Noriko-san admonishing her as he steps into his apartment.

His mother is hiding around the corner, peeking around the corner and shaking. She looks about as pissed off as Sawabe. She doesn't say anything to Jirou as he passes her, retrieves the rent from its hiding spot, and heads back outside to pay Sawabe, finally ridding them of the woman.

Jirou thanks Noriko-san for intervening in what was probably a huge commotion. She, as always, dismisses his thanks with a smile and disappears into her apartment, needy meows following her.

Jirou steps back into his apartment and stares at his mother for a long moment, exhausted.

"
You really should stop picking fights with Sawabe-san."

"That girl is a disgrace! She threatened to kick us out! She thinks we're trash, that bitch."

Well, he can't argue with all of that. "
If we pay rent on time, she can't kick us out, even if she really wants to. But you picking fights with her over nothing isn't going helping her like us."

Ai doesn't say anything more, but Jirou can tell she's still upset. He's not sure what he's supposed to do. He can't really stop her from hating the woman - hell, he hates her too, and he's never even around when they fight - but if she pisses off Sawabe enough, Jirou doesn't doubt that the woman will scrape up a reason to evict them. And there's no way he can afford another apartment.

Fuck. Nothing's allowed to be easy, is it?

"
Have you eaten?"

Ai nods

"
What did you eat? Did you have lunch and dinner?"

Ai nods again. "Noriko-san made stir fry and spring rolls for lunch and dinner. And we had tea and cookies earlier, but I didn't finish my tea because it was oolong."

Jirou sighs, knowing she hates oolong tea, and hopes she didn't manage to offend Noriko-san as well as Sawabe. Then again, he doubts Noriko-san would take it personally even if she did.

He turns to put his things away, abandoning his blazer and swapping it for a sweater that doesn't have his school's emblem, then heads to the bathroom to switch his glasses out for contact lenses. His mother is absorbed in a book when he comes back out, the rest of the world invisible to her.

"
I'm heading out," He says. Ai doesn't budge. "Make sure you go to sleep on time, alright?"

No response.

Jirou slips out the door without another word.


XX ❋
Kabukichou is as bright and lively as ever, and part of Jirou will always genuinely enjoy how the place lights up in every color once the sun goes down. It's beautiful, in its own, twisted way.

Jirou's been here almost every night for the last four years, and regulars notice him, waving and winking as he passes. He waves and winks back with a sly smile. He's comfortable here, among the dizzying lights and sounds and people doing all manner of things, hidden in the shadows.

He doesn't actually stop until a very familiar voice calls his name. He turns to face the voice and finds Hikaru behind him, clad in a pretty white strapless dress, sparkling dust across every inch of skin. She runs and jumps - impressive, in those heels - and wraps her arms around his neck.

"Ji-chan, you're here! You're early. Are your bullies slacking today?"

Jirou catches her easily, frowning at the nickname. "
Quit calling me that," Hikaru giggles in his ear. "And no, but they left me alone after school. First time in... two weeks? Three weeks?"

"Damn. Maybe if they came here, they'd realize how charming you are and fall in love."

"
Oh God, ew. I don't even wanna think about what that'd be like."

Hikaru chortles gracelessly, absolutely aware of how nasty a mental image her sentence put into Jirou's head. They walk together towards the pub Hikaru and most of the other girls work out of.

"Hey, did you hear the Golden Queen is here tonight? A couple of the girls say they saw her show up. No one knows what for though. Just keep an eye out, okay?"

Jirou snorts, but nods. She doesn't have to tell him twice to be careful in Kabukichou.


The Golden Queen, though? I wonder if it's something serious.

Jirou doesn't have time to wonder what the silent overseer of Kabukichou is doing on the streets, because both he and Hikaru are approached by customers before they even get to the pub. Hikaru waves over her shoulder and they head in different directions, neither of them desiring to be near each other while they work. It's already awkward enough being in near-public with customers.

Jirou's customer, a regular whose name Jirou never learned - what's the point? Not like he'll ever use it - has him pressed up against a wall in an alleyway, and because Jirou's luck is on a 50-50 timer today and just keeps flipping between good and fucking terrible, they get interrupted.

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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

Takashi strolled lazily through the red-light district, going by mostly unnoticed -- although he did garner a few curious glances here or there, or perhaps a look of recognition once in a blue moon. While Aki was notorious in Kabukichou, and was even given the moniker "the Golden Queen" (really ironic, honestly, considering what Kanayama means -- if only they knew), next to her, Takashi was practically a ghost. All he did what kick people into line occasionally, and while he was a familiar face among Aki's drug dealers, those such as the prostitutes or the bar owners weren't at all familiar with him. As for his blonde hair and light eyes -- well, Kabukichou had its fair share of frisky white tourists.

As Takashi walked towards the area Kyuu was known to frequent, he took in the sight of the bright lights and busy nightlife. Nemuranaimachi -- the city that never sleeps -- certainly fit Kabukichou to a tee. To someone like Aki, the bustling district was mainly background noise, but to Takashi, it was something to immerse himself in.

Takashi walked into an alleyway -- a secret shortcut -- when he suddenly paused. Surprisingly and conveniently enough, it looked as if Kyuu was already there; Takashi wouldn't have to track him down as he planned. Kyuu was currently pressing someone up against the wall and making out with them aggressively. If Aki were here, she would've turned her nose up at the brutish behavior -- as much as she hated it, that was something she and Rina had in common.


"Oi, Number Nine," called out drily. Kyuu immediately spat back something along the lines of, "fuck off, cunt, I'm having a good time right now," before the name "Number Nine" clearly registered in his head as the brute spun around, panting. His eyes widened at the sight of Takashi, muttering a panicked, "oh shit."

"Looks like you know why I'm here," Takashi said smoothly, smiling at Kyuu as if they were old friends. "At least you're not as stupid as we thought. Although, that's not really a compliment.

"What are you doing, Kyuu, hooking up during work? Propositioning a prostitute, I assume -- I can't really say you're the most desirable partner, if one had a choice. Is that where your money's going to?"
Takashi nodded in the prostitute's direction. Said prostitute was clearly playing the role of a debauched schoolboy, with his messy school-uniform and exposed skin. Takashi barely spared the guy a glance, but he found his eyes drawn to the prostitute as the moonlight began to shine on the alley. Blue eyes . . . blue eyes . . . Sato???

Takashi jerked his head back towards Kyuu, smoothly talking as if nothing had happened, but inside his thoughts were whirling. "Hey, at least you're helping someone pay the bills," he said casually. "Believe me, I'm all for that. But that's not the issue here. You're shirking your responsibilities. Did you think you could get away with that?"

Kyuu spat on the ground. "You are all talk, boy," he barked. "You aren't her."

"You're right," Takashi conceded smoothly. "She won't be as merciful as me." Takashi swaggered up to Kyuu, who glared defiantly, but shrunk slightly as Takashi towered over him.

"I could do something," Takashi said lightly, cracking a knuckle. Kyuu swallowed. "But like I said, I'm rather generous. She doesn't hand out chances, however. In fact, when she has the same problem again . . . well, she likes to handle it herself."

Kyuu stumbled back and staggered out the alleyway. Aki would probably let him go on for a few days before harshly dropping him. Fear is a powerful thing, she would say. But fearful maggots are still maggots.

Takashi turned and let his gaze linger on Sato, before turning around and walking off, thoughts whirling in his head.

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XX Sato Jirouxx#836F6E

Some advice: if you come across someone with a number for a name, leave. The drug dealers around here get really pissed really easily, and you don't want to be near a fight between them.

Hikaru's voice echoes in Jirou's head- one of her "older-sister memos." She'd warned him about who to avoid and why, and yeah, he remembers numbers for names being near the top of the list.

Only problem is, he can't slip away quietly when the dude has him pinned against a wall.

Jirou doesn't pay much heed to the actual conversation happening- it's none of his business, and he's got enough on his plate without adding other people's bullshit to his life. The more he hears the men talk, however, the more familiar the unknown voice becomes, and it sets him on edge.

Then the alleyway lights up, just for a moment, and Jirou kinda wants to puke.

Kanayama Takashi. God fucking dammit.

Oddly enough, his brain doesn't immediately start listing every single thing that could possibly go wrong if Kanayama recognizes him. This moment, quite literally the most dangerous moment of all his time in Kabukichou, is utterly uncut by Jirou's paranoia, and that fact should be terrifying.

Instead, the thought flying through Jirou's mind is this: Kanayama is handsome here.

He's half-bathed in neon light from the street, dark shadows cast across the other half of him in all the strangest places. He's simultaneously glowing and hollow. He stands with power, confidence- but it's a different power and confidence than what he showed in the hallway of their school.

Here, Kanayama is a predator.

Leave.

Hikaru's warning flashes in bright red letters over top of Jirou's realization that hey, Kanayama's kinda hot, and it gives him the space to recognize that said realization makes no goddamn sense.

Unfortunately, he can't leave, because his customer- Nine? Whoever the fuck - has him pinned.


Of all the times to be stuck somewhere...

Jirou carefully avoids looking in Kanayama's direction, but his brain becomes suddenly incapable of minding its own business, and he finds himself eavesdropping. Not that he hears anything of interest- Kanayama's threats aren't particularly intimidating, not in Jirou's opinion, at least.

But Nine is intimidated nonetheless, almost pale with fear, and it lends credence to what Jirou's been told of the Golden Queen. If her name alone can instill this much anxiety...

Well, Jirou doesn't want to meet her. Ever.

The conversation comes to a close, shadows shifting like the uneasiness in Jirou's stomach. Nine disappears without paying for Jirou's time, and Jirou can't bring himself to be pissed about it.

Kanayama looks at him, but says nothing. Jirou doesn't look at Kanayama, and says nothing.

Then Kanayama leaves, and it's as if Jirou had been alone from the start.


XX ❋
It takes the entire night after seeing Kanayama in that alley for Jirou to fully process the situation. It isn't until he's crawling into bed at three am that it all comes crashing down on him.

Needless to say, Jirou doesn't sleep that morning.

The next few days of school would have been impossible to bear if Jirou had been anyone else. His paranoia, so strangely absent in the moment, comes back with a wretched vengeance and it's all Jirou can do to keep his focus on class instead of his possible very likely impending doom.

Very likely, because unlike the first half a week he'd spent agonizing over Kanayama-related shit, there is absolutely no doubt in Jirou's mind that Kanayama's eyes are always on him.

And, unlike that first half a week, Jirou feels like he's crawling out of his skin with nerves.

He knows what will happen if Kanayama outs him. He'll be expelled, no question. Part-time jobs of the normal sort aren't allowed at this school, much less his part-time job. All Kanayama has to do is tell a single teacher and Jirou will lose everything. There won't even be an investigation- no one could possibly doubt the word of Kanayama Takashi. Not if they want to keep their job.

How ironic, that statement.

By the end of day four, even Hikaru has begun to notice the tension in his shoulders, the panicked glances behind him, the rush to get customers out of sight as soon as possible, lest he appear.

"You look like absolute shit." She says drily one night. "Why do you look like absolute shit?"

"
None of your business." Jirou says, taking her cold stare with all the grace of a hardened soldier. Kanayama isn't something he wants to discuss with her. With anyone, actually.

Hikaru doesn't say anything for a long moment, and it puts Jirou even more on edge.

"Fine. But if you need someone dead, just say so. I'm sure one of the girls'll be willing."

"
I'll keep it in mind." Jirou replies, needlessly. She already knows he will.

Hikaru slips into the crowd without another word, and Jirou tries not to feel nervous. He fails, but there's enough going on in Kabukichou to keep his thoughts from spiralling too far downward.

But the universe still hates Jirou, and because the universe has nothing better to do than torment him, the first alleyway Jirou slips into holds none other than fucking Kanayama Takashi.


I want to die.

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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

It was later that night. Takashi had been laying on Aki's couch for the past hour, the sound of Aki's repetitive typing acting as white noise in the background. Finally, Aki snapped, grabbing a mug she had yet to wash and throwing it directly at Takashi's face.

Takashi caught it with ease -- he was an athlete, after all -- shaking him out of his trance.
"Huh, you should really wash this," he murmured, sitting up. "I'll go put it in the sink for the maid to wash in the morning."

"Takashi, get over here."

Takashi's head whipped around at Aki's dismissive tone. "Uh. Why?"

The look Aki gave him was deadpan. "You've been acting catatonic. Honestly, your silence is more distracting than your constant bustling and sighing." Aki sighed, leaning back in her chair. "Tell aneki what happened, Taka-kun."

"Well," Takashi hesitated, and sighed, submitting himself to his fate. "It's really dumb."

Aki shrugged. "You've always been rather dramatic."

"What? No, I'm not," Takashi gave his sister an indignant look. "Rina's the dramatic one."

"You're both dramatic. Rina's dramatic because she's uptight and a control freak; you're dramatic because your heart is squishy and soft." Aki leaned forward, clasping her hands together like she was a mob boss considering the fate of one of her pawns. "Now talk, before that squishy heart implodes and collapses upon itself like an overripe peach."

Takashi groaned, falling back onto the couch, contemplating what he would say. "It's about that guy."

Aki's ensuing sigh was clearly exasperated. "You're getting very predictable."

"No no no, this is different." Takashi lept up, quickly striding over to Aki's desk before slamming her laptop shut and leaning forward to look his sister in the eye, almost missing Aki's mutter of, "see, dramatic."

Takashi stood like that for a few moments, looming over Aki whilst unsure of what to say. "The guy is a prostitute, and he was about to fuck Kyuu when I interrupted and kicked Kyuu out!" Takashi blurted out.

Aki looked slightly interested. "Well, I suppose that's a slight turn of events. What about it?"

Takashi stared at her dumbly. "What do you mean by that?"

"Your guy is a prostitute. Do you intend to do anything about it, or did you just want to get it off your chest?"

Takashi relaxed his posture. "I . . . I don't know."

Aki opened her laptop again, presumably going back to whatever she was doing before. "Then sit on it. I'm not good at dealing with your emotions." Takashi nodded robotically, turning to head to his bedroom, where he knew he would be laying on his bed, staring at the ceiling, for at least another hour.

"Remember to keep your eyes open for opportunities," Aki called out belately. Takashi turned back to look at her, confused, but his sister was already consumed by her screen.

---

Takashi always made an effort to follow Aki's sagely advice, but during the ensuing days after the incident, he found that his eyes were too busy following Sato to look for opportunities. Even Kousuke, who was often too absorbed in talking to notice a change in his friend's behavior, was giving Takashi weird looks and words of mild concern.

"Hey, Takashi-kun." On the third day after the incident, Kousuke waved his hand in front of Takashi's face, giving the blonde an impatient look. "What's wrong with you, man? It's like you haven't even been here for the past few days. You were off your game during practice too, and you're our star player."

Takashi shook his head, giving his friend a tired smile.
"Sorry, I've been kinda tired recently. I'll get over it."

Kousuke gave Takashi a disbelieving look, but proceeded to ramble on about how his older brother, an exchange student in America, had caught his girlfriend cheating on him in his own bed. Takashi made all the right noises in the right places, but he still found himself distracted.

---

On day four, Takashi once again followed Aki into Kabukichou.
"I need to check up on an incident." Aki gave Takashi a strange look when jerked back at her wording -- he was already too used to using the word incident for one particular moment in time.

"You don't really need to be here today," Aki continued, deciding not to address what happened, much to Takashi's relief. "But since you're coming anyway, make sure to put people in their place if you see them stepping out of line. If you see Kyuu roaming around our area, beat him up for me, Taka-kun."

"Okay," Takashi replied passively. Aki raised an eyebrow, but thankfully didn't comment. The two siblings went their separate ways.

I wonder what Aki's doing, Takashi thought to himself. He never knew much about Aki's affairs; he admitted that they were probably beyond what he was capable of, but Takashi still wondered. Oftentimes, the blonde was treated like a mix between an incompetent dog and a child too young to know anything by his family. Aki never looked down upon him, but sometimes, Takashi still felt like the oblivious child with her.

Turning the corner, Takashi decided to stop roaming around, and leaned against the alley wall.
Sometimes, I just want an opportunity to show up at my door. Maybe I'll stop thinking so much.

As if on cue, Takashi lifted his head right as someone slipped into the alleyway. Sato? In that moment, it seemed as if all of his worries slipped away to make way for the Takashi that was impeccably good with people -- the magnanimous, perfect Takashi.

"Hey, Sato-san," he said smoothly -- people were always his comfort zone. He gave the guy a warm smile, still leaning against the wall, before beginning to speak in a compassionate tone. "Sorry about the other day -- Kyuu can be a dick sometimes.

"Hey, it looks like you're in a difficult position; I'm sorry about that."
Takashi smiled softly, moving his gaze to the opposing wall in front of him "Idealistically, I wish the world was kinder to those who need it."

Maybe you could start with yourself, Takashi's inner voice nagged. The blonde brushed it off.

"I'm not going to rat you out," Takashi reassured. "But I've noticed that your grades are pretty good." Takashi paused deliberately, making sure that the implying undertone of his next words weren't cancelled out by the geniality he made sure to maintain. "I was wondering if you could help me out." Takashi leveled his gaze at Sato. "It seems we're both in . . . unideal positions."

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XX Sato Jirouxx#836F6E

Unlike the first time they'd met, Jirou's brain doesn't tell him Kanayama is handsome.

Small mercies.

Also unlike the first time they'd met, Jirou's brain actually does what he'd expect it to do when faced with this particular situation. Expected reaction being: silent panic.

Kanayama Takashi is standing before him, in an alley, in Kabukichou. Kanayama Takashi knows who he is- probably knew who he was the first time they'd met. Kanayama Takashi is talking to him, in an alley, in Kabukichou, knowing exactly who he is. Jirou's mental composure spirals.

Jirou glares viciously at Kanayama when the boy speaks, betraying none of his inner turmoil.

"
Sorry about the other day -- Kyuu can be a dick sometimes."

Jirou doesn't reply, because he already knows that. While he hadn't known the guy's name until recently, he's spent more than a few nights with him- he's not a gentleman, by any means.


Difficult position? Kanayama's words are strangely sympathetic when coupled with his lackluster tone of voice, and Jirou raises an eyebrow. Difficult position? Jirou has a feeling the words don't pertain to him getting caught, but instead to his profession itself. Which is absolutely ridiculous.

Jirou might have this job out of pure necessity, but that doesn't make it a difficult position.

"
I'm not going to rat you out,"

Jirou's body tenses without his permission. God damn it. This is the moment where he's given an ultimatum, an unequal deal he can't refuse, because if he does, his life goes to absolute shit.

"
But I've noticed that your grades are pretty good."

Wait.

What the fuck?

Kanayama pauses to let the sentence sink in, and sink in it does. It sinks until it hits the bottom of Jirou's now-empty brain. And then it sits there, simmering, for far longer than it really should.

Kanayama says more, but Jirou isn't really listening. The words only confirm his suspicions.

"
You're using your blackmail to make me tutor you?!"

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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

"You're using your blackmail to make me tutor you?!"

Takashi let go of whatever seriousness his demeanor previously held, smiling charmingly at the dark-haired teen. "What can I say? I'm a pretty generous guy," he said jokingly, although his words held some truth. There were far worse things Takashi could've done, but given his wealth and popularity, there wasn't much Takashi could've asked from Sato. Besides, the thought of some of the things he could've blackmailed Sato into doing (namely, free sex), made Takashi a little sick to his stomach.

"So," Takashi straightened up, no longer leaning against the (kind of dirty) alley wall. "You can tutor me a few times a week, and your secret will be safe with me." Is a few times a week enough to fix your desolate grades? A voice that sounded distinctly like Rina's crowed. Takashi brushed it off.

"I'm busy with baseball practice everyday until six," Takashi continued easily, his tone light, "except on Thursdays. I'm free on the weekends, for the most part. We can try to work around your job." Takashi didn't know how much Sato worked, but hopefully, he would be able to get his hours in.

I can't believe I'm consciously letting someone sell their body, Takashi groaned internally. Perhaps he would've voluntarily paid for the tutoring, but contrary to popular belief, his family didn't hand him much money to use freely. A tight control of the Kanayama fortune was enforced on Takashi's sisters when they were underage as well, but it was the strictest on him -- after all, his parents didn't trust him to make the right decisions.

"You got two choices, your house or mine," Takashi added; there was no way he'd let himself be tutored by Sato in public (he was, after all, conscious of his reputation). Bringing Sato to the Kanayama estate wasn't a particularly appealing option either, but with Takashi's father on notably long business trip, and Hikari and Rina in Germany along with their mother, the situation could've been much worse. Takashi hoped to not need Sato's tutoring by the time his father returned, but he couldn't be sure.

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XX Sato Jirouxx#836F6E

"What can I say? I'm a pretty generous guy."

Kanayama doesn't say it like it's supposed to be taken seriously, so Jirou doesn't take it seriously, though he doubts he would have even if Kanayama hadn't spoken in that wrongly humorous tone. Experience has taught Jirou never to take words spoken in Kabukichou at face value.

Especially when those words are coming from a very rich, very posh, very irritating social elite.

"
So, you can tutor me a few times a week, and your secret will be safe with me." Kanayama says, sounding more like he's making a business deal than a thinly veiled threat in an alleyway.

I don't know what I expected, but this wasn't it, Jirou thinks. Guess I can't complain, though.

Jirou commits Kanayama's schedule to memory, gaze unmoving. There's something unsettling about him in this lighting, same as that first night. Jirou is no longer intimidated.

"
We can try to work around your job." Kanayama says. Jirou figures he must think he's being polite by saying this, but it just feels wrong, like his casual smile and laughing tone of voice.

Work around it? Only way to do that is if we tutored during fucking lunch period.

Jirou doesn't say this out loud. Right now, Kanayama holds all the cards, and they both know it.

"
You got two choices, your house or mine." "You are never coming to my apartment."

The words come out without permission, bitter and more than a little petulant. Jirou doesn't want to feel bad for being rude, but he does, because right now, Kanayama holds all the cards.

"
My landlord doesn't allow visitors," Jirou covers. It's not a lie, because he's not allowed to have visitors, but it's not the real reason he doesn't want Kanayama over, either. A half-lie. "You should give me your phone number. I'll remember. I don't carry my phone at work."

(In reality, Jirou doesn't have a phone. But Kanayama definitely doesn't need to know that.)

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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

"You are never coming to my apartment."

Takashi tilted his head, a little surprised at the charged response. Is he insecure about his home or something? Takashi wondered to himself. Thinking back on it, Takashi definitely shouldn't have been surprised by the reaction; sure, Sato seemed like the reserved kid at school who stayed out of trouble's way, but he had already snapped at Takashi a couple of times in their few interactions.

Also, Sato was a prostitute.
I shouldn't be surprised by anything that comes from him anymore.

"You should give me your phone number. I'll remember. I don't carry my phone at work."

Takashi shrugged, responding with, "makes sense," before reciting his phone number with ease. He was always stingy when it came to giving out his phone number; after all, he didn't want any girls at school to overhear and bombard him with text messages. Takashi would rather avoid having to reject people if he had a choice.

But Sato and Takashi were in an empty alley in Kabukichou -- there were no fangirls here. If Takashi's phone number got out, he'd know who to blame.

(He mentally cheered for himself; he felt like he was becoming more and more like Aki than ever before.)

Takashi smiled at Sato, satisfied.
"Well, that's a wrap!" he said, starting to head out the alleyway. He turned back, and gave Sato a genial wave, before calling out lightly. "Sorry, I got something else to do right now. See you later, Sato-san. I hope things go well for you." Takashi said the last few words with genuine intent. And with those last sentences, he turned around and strode out of the alleyway.

---

Aki eyed Takashi as he cheerfully followed her into her office, before carefully saying,
"You look . . . enlightened."

Takashi hummed happily in agreement, dropping his arm across Aki's shoulders. She nearly recoiled in shock.

"I am enlightened," he said cheerily, before commenting, "Wow, aneki -- enlightened. That's a good way to put it."

Aki plopped down on her chair, beckoning Takashi to continue.

"An opportunity fell right into my lap," he began, watching Aki's brows raise higher and higher.

Takashi paused for the sake of anticipation, before whispering,
"I blackmailed the guy into tutoring me."

Aki couldn't help it; she snorted, coughing back a laugh.

"I know that doesn't seem really big," Takashi continued, undeterred. "But I'm not really . . . like you. Or Rina, or Hikari. But I think I'm working my way up -- " Takashi smiled softly to himself, whispering "-- maybe otou-sama would finally be proud of me."

When Takashi glanced up, Aki seemed to be grimacing in concern. "What?" he asked apprehensively. Aki immediately shook her head and ruffled Takashi's hair reassuringly -- which only made him more nervous.

"I'm happy that you're . . . setting goals and achieving things," Aki was visibly contemplating her words. "Just always be aware of what it is that you really want to achieve."

Takashi listened carefully -- he always valued Aki's advice, but most of the time, her words were far too enigmatic for him to understand.

"Thanks for supporting me all the time," Takashi responded sincerely. "It means a lot that you're slowing yourself down to walk besides me."

Aki clucked her tongue immediately. "You're not a burden, Taka-kun, so don't say shit like that. Besides, life's not always about the race. Why stay within the lines? I'm not, but I'm happy with what I'm doing. Remember that, Taka-kun."

Takashi nodded attentively. He certainly understood what Aki meant; she was absurdly intelligent and capable -- Takashi was sure she could do anything. But instead of continuing the family business like Rina and Hikari, Aki marched to the beat of her own drum. Part of Takashi felt a little conflicted about that -- after all, if he were in her position, he would be doing all he could to improve the business and make his family proud. By now, however, he understood that Aki was a very different person from the rest of them.

"All right, I guess I should try to do some homework while I wait for the guy to text me." Aki snorted again. "Night, aneki."

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XX Sato Jirou xx#836F6E

Kanayama's unconcerned reaction to Jirou's words serves to calm him slightly, but he refuses to let his guard down. Kanayama has all the power here- he can't afford to piss him off.

Jirou files away Kanayama's phone number in the back of his mind. Kanayama smiles eerily.

"
Well, that's a wrap!" He says, sounding far too chipper. "Sorry, I got something else to do right now. See you later, Sato-san. I hope things go well for you."

Something about the phrase "I hope things go well for you" has Jirou grinding his teeth and very seriously considering just punching Kanayama in the face, consequences be damned. Of course, he doesn't. Instead, Jirou watches Kanayama leave with narrowed eyes. He doesn't say goodbye.

Only once Kanayama is long gone does the tension finally seep from Jirou's bones. Well, as much of the tension as he can allow. He can never be too comfortable on the streets of Kabukichou.


It's only tutoring, Jirou tells himself. If he wants more, you can give him more.

If you do what he wants, everything will be fine.


XX ❋
Jirou waits exactly two days before calling Kanayama, simply to show that he isn't desperate.

(He almost goes insane over those two days, paranoid that Kanayama is going to materialize from the shadows and stab him for not cooperating. But Jirou doesn't even see Kanayama very much.)

He borrows Noriko-san's phone while she's off cooking with his mom, and he calls the number he'd memorized, fingers gripping the old-fashioned receiver so tight his fingers go numb.

No one answers.

Jirou hangs up and redials. Again, no one answers.


You've gotta be fucking kidding me.

Instantly, thoughts start running in Jirou's head, trying to invent a reason why no one answered. Is it a wrong number? There's no way he remembered wrong. Did Kanayama give him a fake? What if Kanayama was lying and was planning on outing him to the world from the very beginning?

Jirou forces himself to calm down. It works only marginally. He redials, and holds his breath.

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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

In the next two days, Takashi received absolutely no contact from Sato.

Sometimes, he found himself staring at his phone, waiting for the incoming text, before he slapped himself and told himself to stop being so pathetic and desperate.
It's because I need a tutor ASAP, Takashi convinced himself. So Sato not doing anything is negatively impacting me.

Takashi made a vehement effort to stop staring at his lockscreen. Most importantly, doing so would put Takashi in a position where he was waiting on someone else -- he knew his father would turn his nose up at such an action, and tell Takashi patronizingly that Kanayamas were at the top of the food chain, and that people waited on them.

Also, waiting for a text so attentively was just desperate and uncool. Of course, Takashi's father's viewpoint on the situation would matter a lot more than what his teenage peers thought, but Takashi definitely took the latter into consideration.

On the end of the second day, Takashi received a phone call and promptly ignored it. He didn't answer calls from unknown numbers -- he learned not to when he was young. Once, Rina had an obsessive fanboy who tracked her number through the records of the phone company he worked at. The aftermath was not pretty; Rina had answered the number, confirmed it was her, then hung up. Immediately after, the fanboy -- stalker -- tried to hack into her phone, and later, all Kanayama technology. Of course, being the exceedingly competent Kanayamas, the fanboy didn't get very far and was promptly caught and arrested, but the incident still left an imprint on Takashi's mind.

Takashi doubted he had some obsessive fanboy or fangirl who would look for his number through phone company catalogues -- sure, he was popular, but only in school. Rina's name had appeared on headlines before her fanboy started his obsession; the most Takashi did was very occasionally land in tabloids. Still, one could never be too safe.

When the phone rang for the second time, Takashi had glanced at it hesitatingly. Maybe he should answer it -- what if the person on the line needed help, typed in the wrong number, and thought that the person on the other side was ignoring them? Takashi had to clear things up if that was what happened.

Finally, on the third ring, Takashi just decided to go for it and pick up the phone.
"Hello?" His tone was crisp and polite, with just enough warmth in it to seem friendly, but not too intrusive. Takashi may have fallen short on literally every other standard his father set for him, but at least he was good at communication.

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XX Sato Jirou xx#836F6E

The person on the other end finally picks up.

The voice filtering through the receiver is unmistakably Kanayama's, and he sounds chipper, which annoys Jirou. He demonstrates this by practically hissing as he lets out his held breath.

"
It's Sato. And if you knew I was going to call, why wouldn't you pick up the phone?!"

Jirou is glad Noriko-san and his mother can't hear him- he can hear music and Noriko-san's faint chatter through the walls. He's also glad he managed not to swear at Kanayama, because he really, really wants to, for many more reasons than just not picking up the phone when he called.

He takes a deep breath. "
Anyway, I need to know what days you want me over and when, and I'll need your address. Also, if you want me to sneak in, you'll need to give me a route."

Jirou doubts Kanayama wants him to sneak, but hey, can't hurt to mention. And if the guy doesn't want anyone from school to know he's ever spoken to Jirou before, what's to say that won't extend to his family, people he's much more likely to want to keep his dirty secrets hidden from?


Maybe getting expelled would be easier than all this bullshit. Jirou smiles wryly. Ha, if only.

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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

"It's Sato. And if you knew I was going to call, why wouldn't you pick up the phone?!"

Takashi's lips parted into a small "oh". He didn't expect Sato to call him -- no one really called each other anymore. As a teenager of the modern age, Takashi was definitely expecting a text.

Takashi hums lightly as Sato listed off what information he needed.
Straight to the point, he mused.

"First of all," Takashi starts, his tone genial as always, "I'm sorry I made you wait. I didn't expect you to call -- everyone texts nowadays, so I guess it's rather charming." Takashi chuckled, his laugh tinkling like bells. He ignored Sato's hissy tone; it was interesting that the more Takashi interacted with Sato, the more he realized that the other teenager wasn't the plain, mid-toned gray paint swatch he imagined for him, but was rather akin to the gray of a cloud -- darkening with his mood, and always mottled in color.

"You can come on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, three-thirty in the afternoon," Takashi said easily. If it came to it, Takashi could request for Sato to add on another day, but he had baseball practice until six during the other weekdays, and the blonde didn't want to make someone come over that late.

Takashi also rattled off his address, knowing what Sato would think of it. The Kanayama family lived in Azabu, one of the wealthiest and most luxuriest districts in Tokyo, home to many famous celebrities. The homes there were expansive and large, styled in a modern and sleek fashion. Tokyo was already relatively expensive to live in, and due to its high population density, many people lived in apartments. The fact that the Kanayamas could afford a large house in one of the most expensive districts said a lot about their wealth.


"As of now, you can just walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell," Takashi continued smoothly. "Don't be alarmed if one of the maids answer the door -- they're all very lovely people." It was true; Takashi couldn't say he spent that much time with the maids, but he made sure to interact with them. They were all very kind -- Takashi felt at home with their warm words.

Sato didn't need to sneak into the home as of the time of the phone call, and maybe for the next two weeks as well, since only Takashi, Aki, and the maids would be at home. But once any other family member returned . . . that was a different story. Takashi already had a scare when Rina made a surprise appearance; he hoped that anyone else who returned home would give a few days' notice.

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XX Sato Jirou xx#836F6E

"First of all-"

Goddammit, he's pissed isn't he.

"I'm sorry I made you wait. I didn't expect you to call -- everyone texts nowadays, so I guess it's rather charming." Kanayama says, sounding rather... normal. Not pissed, at least.

I guess I was overreacting, Jirou thinks. But then, I have every reason to overreact, don't I?

"You can come on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, three-thirty in the afternoon. As of now, you can just walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell," Kanayama continues. "Don't be alarmed if one of the maids answer the door -- they're all very lovely people."

Maids. Of course Kanayama Takashi has maids. Jirou grapples between his knowledge that any job is a valid job and his frustration with wealthy privileged people, then finally decides to forget the matter until he knows whether or not Kanayama needs punched for not paying them fairly.

Part of him hopes they aren't, because he really wants a reason to punch Kanayama.

Jirou files away all the new information and sighs into the phone, then frowns, annoyed with his slip. "
Alright. I'll be there. I assume I don't need to tell you not to talk to me at school."

That was rude. But then, do I care? "Well, good night then."

Jirou hangs up and immediately takes a deep breath, forces down the anxiety that rose in his gut the second he picked up the phone. Then again- did that anxiety ever fade away in the first place?


It doesn't matter. It's not like there's anything I can do to make it go away now, anyways.


XX ❋
At school, Jirou pointedly avoids Kanayama, and by all appearances, Kanayama avoids him, too. It benefits both of them, in the end- Jirou doesn't gain unwanted attention for fraternizing with the rich, and Kanayama doesn't gain unwanted criticism for fraternizing with the poor.

And yet, when the boys-in-the-next-class-over-whose-names-he-never-learned beat him to a pulp for the second time in one week and Jirou catches a glimpse of a hiding Kanayama, well.

He comes away from it torn between feeling grateful and furious that Kanayama didn't intervene.

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ImagexxxImagexxxImagexxxkanayama takashixxx❋

"Alright. I'll be there. I assume I don't need to tell you not to talk to me at school."

Takashi raised his eyebrows. It wasn't like he was planning on going through his day with the intention of avoiding Sato at all costs, but regardless if he wanted to or not, he doubted he would have time to break away from his group of friends to talk to the loner. Admittedly, Takashi was a little miffed at the tone of the other teen's statement; he had been perfectly nice to Sato, and there was no reason for the other teen to hate him. Sure, he did blackmail him . . . but given the circumstances, Takashi could have done a lot worse. He was sure Rina would've been merciless.

"Goodnight," Takashi echoed, his mouth moving more out of reflex than out of genuine care. He hung up only when he heard silence from the other side of the line. Takashi kept the phone clasped lightly in his hand, before he set it down and continued to work.

---

The school day continued on as always. Takashi hung around with his gaggle of friends, along with the other athletes and popular girls and attractive guys who were in his social circle -- never with people like Sato. He moved through the day, struggling to keep up as always in the classes that were more difficult, though his composed, warm-hearted demeanor never revealed a crack in its pristine shine.

However, during midday, when the barely-there glow of the sun shined directly upon the heads of the people in the courtyard and walkways, Takashi found himself in a position of deja vu. He had fallen slightly behind his friends and Kousuke again, and as his sharp gaze lined up with an enclave between two buildings, Takashi noticed a gaggle of bullies, and a familiar-looking teen being subjected to their relentless punches and strikes. Sato.

Should Takashi help him? Sato didn't even seem like he was a victim, with the slack, almost bored manner in which he allowed himself to get beat up in. Then again, regardless of who Sato was and how he was feeling, Takashi probably should go and help him. He was popular and respected within the school -- as arrogant as it sounded, Takashi had some status, and presumably, if he went to help Sato, then the school would rally behind him, and not the bullies.

Would they really stand by his side, though? Takashi knew he was held up to the heavens by the school's near hero-worship for him, but feelings that sponsored popularity were fragile. Takashi was a fickle string of interest that lingered in people's minds; he hadn't won anyone's heart, and so few in the top rungs of the school's social ladder did. His popularity could so easily slide down the drain if he made the wrong move. One day, he could be worshipped, and the next, he could be shunned.

Sato was a loser anyway, by school terms. He had no friends, no social life, no extracurriculars -- all he was was that basic guy sitting in class, with a perfectly kempt uniform and perfectly neat hair and plain wire-rimmed glasses. As Takashi so eloquently put it, Sato was the plain, mid-toned gray swatch among swathes of bright neons and charming pastels. No one cared about Sato. There was a chance that Takashi saving the other teen would make the color gray trend among the student body, but it was just as possible that Sato's desaturation would infect Takashi, turning his bright, golden sheen into a pale husk of what it was before.

Before Takashi could pull himself out of his reverie to make a solid decision, the bullies left. Takashi lingered on the edges of the scene for a few more moments, his eyes trailing Sato's defeated body, before taking a deep breath and walking off.

Takashi would see Sato that night for tutoring. Hopefully, the other teen understood his difficult position.