A Family Dinner

Masaru_Yamazaki joined the chat room.
[12:48pm] FAITO: Dinner was already on the table, 15 minutes early. Izumi handled the table settings, still in her school uniform and fighting off a yawn. Kazue, their mother, is dealing with little touches. Drinks, if Masaru wants. A vitamin, whether Shousei wants one or not…
[12:49pm] FAITO: She's learning Western, so…there's lasanga on.
[12:49pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: He's not sure if she thinks he's ill, or…
[12:49pm] FAITO: It is almost perfect. Just a little black around the edges. And in one spot near the middle. But it smells great.
[12:50pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …Noodles. Shousei can deal with noodles.
[12:50pm] FAITO: A pleasant, Sunday sinner- I mean, dinner.
[12:52pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: And frankly, if they were all about this calm, he would do more than make a social appearance once every few months.
[12:54pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei picks at his napkin and tries not to look ervous.
[12:54pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Nervous.
[12:54pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Lasagna?" He smiles a bit, over his glass of cognac. By contrast, he seems practically unflappable, even pleasant. "This is different from what I remember being the usual fare here. What's the occasion?"
[12:55pm] FAITO: Their mother smiles, "Oh, you know. I can't just be some simple, stay-at-home housewife. This is a modern age, I need to…branch out, am I right? I'm thinking of getting my Master's, it's just I've got the time now, you know?"
[12:56pm] FAITO: Izumi smiles and pokes her lasanga. She doesn't seem quite sure what to make of it.
[12:57pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei takes a bite.
[12:57pm] FAITO: It is fucking /fantastic/ lasagna.
[12:58pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: Which is good! He wsn't going to tell her otherwise regardless - I mean, this is obviously a matter of pride, which is something Masaru can understand. "I understand. Your masters? That's a fantastic idea. It' is never too late to continue your education."
[1:00pm] FAITO: She…looks at Masaru for a solid second, before smiling. "Of course. How's work been- Izumi, stop making a mess of your plate. You know how to eat properly."
[1:01pm] FAITO: Izumi sets her fork down and waits. Her mother chooses to accept this without comment. Neither are looking at the empty seat - their father's.
[1:02pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei's eyes go wide.
[1:02pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: He remains silent for a moment, choosing to let this play out.
[1:02pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "…This is delicious." He wasn't going to speak.
[1:03pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: And he probably wasn't paying attention to anyone else. But it's true.
[1:18pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "This is fantastic, yes." He smiles. "And work and school have been keeping me very busy. Time-consuming, but rewarding. Though I may have to shift my schedule around if it means more meals like this…"
[1:20pm] FAITO: Kazue smiles. Izumi makes an effort and settles for a vague mask of semi-approving disconnection, after a glance at Shousei.
[1:21pm] FAITO: "Well, you'll need to be at the top of your game when the time comes. Your father will need your help sooner or later, and I know you'll make a fine successor."
[1:21pm] FAITO: She nods to herself. This is not an interactive part of the meal. "And I'm sure Shousei will be right there with you. He's matching you grade-for-grade, you know."
[1:23pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei pauses between bites to offer a very brief, strained smile-like entity.
[1:24pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: His gaze slides over from his mother, to his younger brother, much in the same manner that a snake might glance while debating which unattended egg looks more delicious. Either it's practiced, or he's worked being intimidation down to muscle-memory over the year.
[1:25pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Is that so? Well, I always knewShousei was talented. Keep up the good work."
[1:25pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: There's another one. He's clearly nervous. Of course, he's been nervous.
[1:26pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "Thank you."
[1:26pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "We should catch up, after dinner."
[1:26pm] FAITO: "It'd be a pleasant change of pace. You know, he went out earlier. Are you making friends, Shousei? I'd say it's about time. You've always been…quiet."
[1:27pm] FAITO: Izumi starts very precisely and properly eating her lasanga. Russian in technical coolness. Like the judges were on to her.
[1:27pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: He makes a brief calculation in his head as to which conversation option is less threatening to follow up.
[1:28pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "There's a group project in history."
[1:29pm] FAITO: She looks a little disappointed.
[1:30pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "Uhm…" He doesn't know, /is/ he making friends? Is that how this works? You meet some people and all of a sudden you're having duels and being chased by parents and one of them loans you a hair tie and all of a sudden you feel better? "And… things."
[1:30pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …He's probably still wearing the hair tie. He hasn't had time to buy more.
[1:31pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Friendships begin in all sorts of places, little brother. You've already made the effort of contacting them, you might as well follow through." It's amazing how someone can be doing their best to sound pleasant and still be a bit off-putting.
[1:31pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: If Shousei hadn't grown up with these people…
[1:32pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "Yes. I'll… keep that in mind."
[1:34pm] FAITO: Kazue glances for Izumi to offer something. Stony silence. She moves on. "…your father's running late. I suppose I'll put something away. Izumi, can you clear his place?" She rolls his eyes and there is a very brief, very tense second before she's out of sight with the plate.
[1:34pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Deflect deflect (a little voice in his head says: get mother to ask if he's got a girlfriend, that would be /hilarious/) "Though that's one area in which I'm really unlikely to match you." That was the /opposite/ of deflection and also the conversation has moved on, you idiot.
[1:36pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Is that so?" Said in that tone that implied Masaru was fairly certain there were about a million places Shousei would never be his equal, but like most barbs in social niceities it was quick and well hidden. "Do you need help with something, little brother?"
[1:39pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "Ah… no. No, ah…" Shousei purses his lips.
[1:39pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "It's good to see you?" That was not intended to be a question.
[1:39pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: That was either a very dry cough or a nearly inaudible chuckle.
[1:40pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "It's good to see you too, Shousei." and dear god he sounds like he means it.
[1:40pm] FAITO: "Sooo…have you met a girl, Masaru? I'd hate for you to be all work. Father and I were already married by your age."
[1:43pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Ah, really mom? In front of everyone?" He chuckles, this time actually sounding a bit off guard. "You could say that. Nothing concrete yet, but, nice, good work ethic, we have similar goals…" We differ on what we're doing with our fathers when we finally gert ahold of them. "We'll see where it goes."
[1:45pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …I should not be interested in this conversation.
[1:45pm] FAITO: "And just when is she going to meet your family?"
[1:45pm] FAITO: She smiles, suddenly and fully engaged in the conversation.
[1:45pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Probably after we've gone on more than a single date." He holds up a hand, in a mock defensive posture. "But it will happen."
[1:48pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: He can't possibly.
[1:48pm] FAITO: She nods. When Izumi comes back, there's…something in her eyes. "I have a choir recital in a couple of months. Will you be there, Masaru?"
[1:49pm] FAITO: Kazue…stiffens a little, then smiles. She is a very nice woman, but everyone in that room knows the "This will end in hell later" smile.
[1:49pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: You want to make that fucking bet, Shousei? "Email me the exact date."
[1:50pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei risks glances at Masaru's expression.
[1:50pm] FAITO: She beams. "I knew you'd go. You're not like the rest of them."
[1:51pm] FAITO: Kazue's smile freezes over.
[1:51pm] FAITO: "I'm running away like you, as soon as I'm legally able."
[1:51pm] FAITO: …what smile?
[1:51pm] FAITO: "It's what Dad did."
[1:51pm] FAITO: …
[1:51pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …
[1:52pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: Well, his expression was pleasant but guarded, until that. "…Izumi."
[1:52pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Iiii'm not here, you can't see me.
[1:52pm] FAITO: "Izumi. Sit down. Finish your meal. And then go to bed. I don't want to hear-"
[1:52pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Let's talk later. You're not… You're just going to upset mom, if you keep that up."
[1:53pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Oh god this conversation- he almost feels protective of Izumi, but this is not a thing he can do.
[1:56pm] FAITO: (If anyone wants to take control of the chaos, Presence for bearing down or Rapport for cutting in?)
[1:57pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: (Gonna roll Presence, then.)
[1:58pm] FAITO: !roll_fudge
[1:59pm] FAITO: (..ooops)
[1:59pm] FAITO: (Take it away, Masaru!)
[1:59pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Izumi!" He's standing up. "…Come on. Let's get some air." He spares the rest of this table a look that's almost… guilty-seeming? He clearly feels some responsibility for the outburst. But he's walking away from the table, drink in hand.
[2:02pm] FAITO: Izumi follows after him, sparing one good look of scorn - not at her mother, either. "Nice barettes."
[2:02pm] FAITO: …and there's the look from Mom.
[2:04pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …Well, there goes all his sympathy for her in one icy glare.
[2:05pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "Do find somewhere more quiet to practice, will you? I have homework," he says in a low voice.
[2:06pm] FAITO: Izumi follows after Masaru, making every effort to ignore him.
[2:06pm] FAITO: (#outside for a touching family moment?)
[2:07pm] FAITO: Meanwhile, Kazue homes in. "….where did you get those?"
[2:08pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei stands up and takes the thing out. "I found them." He's a bit better at lying when he's angry. "I know, I should get my hair cut and stop being lazy. I'm sorry."
[2:08pm] Michael_Lin left the chat room. (Ping timeout)
[2:08pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "…May I be excused?" He's trying not to be harsh because he's not mad at his mother right now and he really, really does not want to be a part of this conversation.
[2:09pm] FAITO: "Shousei…!" Her voice gives at the end. "I….do you really want to go?"
[2:09pm] FAITO: "…then I won't stop you."
[2:10pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: His hackles raise in fear again, then subside slightly. "…I apologize, it's not… dinner was delicious."
[2:10pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …Slowly moving backwards towards his room.
[2:11pm] FAITO: She turns away. "Do any of you want to be here?"
[2:11pm] Plushiemancer joined the chat room.
[2:12pm] Plushiemancer is now known as Michael_Lin.
[2:13pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei can't quite suppress a sigh- he really is not up for, or capable of, solving his mother's problems. But… he's also, apparently, willing to admit for the moment that leaving her like this would be really hurtful.
[2:16pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Which is more than he's usually willing to admit to himself. So that just leaves the lack of capability. "I'm sure it's… not…" He looks away, then looks down, defeated.
[2:16pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "…I got them from a girl."
[2:17pm] FAITO: She shakes her head. "You don't have to lie to me."
[2:18pm] FAITO: "I'm not so ignorant and old-fashioned…now, your /father/…"
[2:18pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: He winces visibly. "I'm not lying. I didn't… I didn't say what you were implying, but I'm not. She's a friend." I think.
[2:21pm] FAITO: She winces as well. "I'm sorry. It's just…It feels like I don't know what I'm doing. This…isn't a conversation a mother and son have. Look….your friend. What's her name?"
[2:21pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Oh god, you do think what I think you think, don't you.
[2:21pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "Eh… Naito Misaki." He looks visibly uncomfortable.
[2:23pm] FAITO: She blinks. "Naito." She sighs. "Japanese…I guess that's not too surprising. Is she…cute?"
[2:24pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: He… has to think about that for a moment, but hell, he's been thinking all kinds of other weird, non-she's-going-to-kill-me things about Night. "Well… yes."
[2:25pm] FAITO: "You should invite her over sometime. Friends should be family."
[2:25pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "That… is very likely to happen." Probably not because of /me/, but he's not sure how best to say that.
[2:26pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: And… fuck. Now he has to tell Masaru.
[2:27pm] FAITO: "…thank you, Shousei. I…I know I've been hard. But your Father is very visible. We have to all be somewhat on display. In a way, we just don't get to be ourselves. We're are Yamazaki…it's like the old samurai days, isn't it?"
[2:29pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: He squeezes the back of his chair, glancing off. "I don't think anyone gets to just be themselves… for what it's worth, I don't mind."
[2:30pm] FAITO: "…but how /can't/ you? You're a teenaged boy. You're supposed to be disappointing me, in some way."
[2:31pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "That seems like it would be much more effort than it's worth." Tiny smile.
[2:37pm] FAITO: She sighs. "Just…be a kid, Shousei. Once you're my age? There are so few choices left." She walks over and hugs him.
[2:38pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei hugs her back, feeling like this conversation was something of a Pyrrhic victory.
[2:38pm] FAITO: There's that fucking sparkle again….
[2:39pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: He blinks.
[2:39pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …Okay.
[2:39pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Okay, it took, like, seven of them, but this has something to do with /talking/ to people, doesn't it.
[2:39pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: That's something he can Google.
[2:45pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "…Well. Should we wait for those two to come back?"
[2:46pm] FAITO: She sighs. "Oh, please. They're probably plotting to assassinate your father together. They think I'm an idiot….but that's fine. We all need breathing room." She gives him a peck on the cheek. "And for what it's worth. The hair bands are cute. Don't wear them outside." She then heads off to clean the plates, looking a little older but in much better spirits.
[2:47pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei doesn't quite blush, but he does rub his cheek after she's gone. He's… going to head back into his room for the moment.
[3:11pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: After fixing his hair so it doesn't look too bad down, checking his COMP, and just about sitting down to maybe do some math before his siblings get back in, he happens to glance out the window.
[3:11pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …Today is not over yet.
[3:11pm] FAITO: The sharks are squaring off…and Izumi is pulling a SHousei.
[3:12pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: And what is /that/ supposed to mean?
[3:12pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei debates whether he really wants to get into this, but his father will probably dock him for pretending not to notice. He's good at noticing things.
[3:12pm] FAITO: ….did he just glance up at him? Did he? …No? Yes?
[3:13pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Shousei makes a horrible, oh god why me noise while he's in his room. Alone.
[3:14pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: But… he pushes his chair back and slips off to go greet his father.
Masaru_Yamazaki: He doesn't go that far, just far enough to let them have a conversation without the rest of the house hearing. "That make you feel any better?"
[2:09pm] FAITO: She takes a long breath, grins with all the passionate anger of youth, and answers. "Not even a little…I thought she was going to slap me…."
[2:12pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "I would have. She must have lightened up after I left." He sighs, and shakes his head. It's clear he's trying not to grin. "So what's wrong? I can see being mad at father, but mother and Shousei? That takes dedication to being offended."
[2:13pm] Michael_Lin joined the chat room.
[2:15pm] FAITO: "She's gotten worse. Nicer, but…she's killing Shousei. And she's killing me. We all have to be…have to be…have to be /you/! Because Daddy's impressed by you…and nobody else."
[2:17pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Father's not impressed with me." He shakes his head. "It might seem that way. Like, he wants you to be as good as Shousei, and Shousei to be as good as me, but for me… there's a gulf. I have to be him. Maybe more. The game's rigged, Izumi. Nobody wins."
[2:20pm] FAITO: She sighs. "Shousei doesn't even fight. Did you see that? Did you hear him?" SHe sighs. "…me, either. I mean. You left. You don't have to do this."
[2:23pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: It's true. He did leave. And it's not like he can deny it wasn't at least partially because he wanted — no, really, he needed to get out. Six years hasn't been nearly long enough for him to forget either. "You're right. I don't. I left. But it's not like I'm gone forever, either. I'll try to come over more."
[2:24pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "And not just for these fancy dinners, either. Just to come see you and Shousei, try to take some of the heat off you two. And soon enough you'll be eighteen as well, and can get into a school dorm or something."
[2:24pm] FAITO: She sighs. "We're too rich for me to want to run away from home. This /blows/." Which is about as inelegant as she can manage.
[2:27pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Yeah. It did six years ago, too. It's always gonna blow."
[2:27pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "But you'll survive."
[2:28pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "So when's your concert?"
[2:29pm] FAITO: "In two months…but I've only got a tiny solo…." She's downplaying HARD.
[2:31pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "A solo? Okay, then. I'll definitely be there… and if you're not a brat and email me the dates in a timely manner for once, I'll see about letting you meet the girl I mentioned before mother gets to." He grins.
[2:35pm] FAITO: "Are you guys doing it?"
[2:35pm] FAITO: "I need to prepare myself for that level of ick."
[2:36pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "…Maybe you don't need to meet her. I don't think we can stand that many people with that little filter between them."
[2:37pm] FAITO: She grins. "I just wanted to see if I could make you freak. Shousei's easy, but you?"
[2:38pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: He laughs a bit at that. "You /are/ a little brat, you know that?"
[2:42pm] FAITO: She grins. "Yeah….yeah, I think I am…yeah!" She punches him in the arm.
[2:42pm] FAITO: "I'm the brat."
[2:42pm] FAITO: …this is sounding more profound than it really should.
[2:43pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: He chuckles. "But be careful. A little rebellion goes a long way. Pick your battles, and you'll get a lot more freedom out of it."
[2:44pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "And if mother asks, I totally dragged you out here to chew you out about respect and duty."
[2:45pm] • FAITO pinches her cheek…and sure enough? Tears. "…you're just like /her/…." Sniffle. SNicker.
[2:46pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "You're as good an actor as Shousei."
[2:50pm] FAITO: She blinks. "Shousei? Act?" She snorts. "Shousei doesn't DO anything."
[2:51pm] FAITO: Then, the door opens and the least likely person steps in: Yamazaki Senior.
[2:51pm] FAITO: Tailed by his aide/lawyer/bitchy beauty in a pantsuit.
[2:56pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: There's a slight shift in posture, an almost imperceptible change in the sort of atttiude Masaru radiates as his father comes walking in. The room seems colder, though. He doesn't make any effort to take the first word. Rushing into things is the mark of an amateur. If the old man wanted to talk, he'd let him take the lead.
[2:59pm] FAITO: Izumi, without a word, straightens up and steps back.
[3:00pm] FAITO: The 'old man' carries a similar, if warmer pressure. He never seems to have less than a perfect, confident smirk…and he and Masaru could be brothers, if not for the faint an arful dashes of gray in his dark hair. "You're here. A pleasant surprise. What's the occasion?"
[3:03pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "Oh, I was in the neighborhood and just thought I would pop in and see how everyone was doing." He smiles, and it's a mirror image of that same smirk: part genetics, part just a learned skill. "I was afraid I wasn't going to get to see you, father. I'm glad that wasn't the case."
[3:06pm] FAITO: Points counted. Approval. "It's lasagna night, don't be ridiculous. I do apologize for my timing, though…Izumi, have you been crying?" He turns his eyes on her and she freezes. Flat-out freezes. His aide smiles. "What's wrong?"
[3:07pm] FAITO: She….shakes her head.
[3:07pm] FAITO: "Then…please. Show us a smile. If we're going to have private troubles, let's keep them there. You are stronger than that."
[3:07pm] FAITO: She….nods.
[3:13pm] FAITO: He glances up at the windows above. "Is Shousei home as well? He's so private…"
[3:13pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "He was earlier. I can't imagine he's slipped out." No, little brother. You get to deal with this too.
[3:16pm] FAITO: A small smile and a tilt of the head. Of course he does. "So…when are you going to finish up and join me in seizing the future?"
[3:17pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: Speaking of the devil, Shousei cracks the door open.
[3:18pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: Tilting his head back some. "It'll be sooner than you imagine. I've not got much left in school." Then looking over. "Hey, Shousei. We were just talking about you."
[3:19pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "Oh." He's not sure how to respond to that, so he just plasters a small smile on his face. "Good evening, and welcome home."
[3:21pm] FAITO: "No need to be so formal all the time, Shousei. We're all men here!" He grins, politely ignoring his aide and his daughter. "We should share a drink and catch up. What do you think, Shousei?"
[3:23pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: …I think I had plans tonight, but. "Ah… well. It… would be nice to spend some time together." Maybe, probably not, sort of depends? "Would you like to come in?"
[3:24pm] Shousei_Yamazaki: "I mean…" He looks at Masaru. "If you're finished. I hope I'm not interrupting."
[3:25pm] FAITO: The father also looks at Masaru. Clearly, it's his move.
[3:25pm] FAITO: This lack of acknowledgement of Shousei's offer? Not accidental.
[3:27pm] Masaru_Yamazaki: "How can I refuse?" Fine. Let's ante up.

Kazue Yamazaki watches her husband and sons move to the table…and the lawyer. Kogazumi starts rifling through their liquor cabinet as if she knows the place intimately. Without a word, Kazue excuses herself, and Makoto doesn't once seem to notice.
He takes his seat at the head of the table, and his drink is already poured before he even looks up. "Well? Take your places."
How long has it been since he sat at a table with his father? A few years? Likely not long enough, but there was a certain sense of nostalgia. He glances at Shousei, then takes his seat at the table.
Shousei has gone from awkward to outright nervous, though he does his best not to show it. He tries to pay attention to what Masaru is doing as he sits- he doesn't entirely trust that this is a good idea, but it's better than nothing.
"Inoue-san," Makoto calls, but it seems unnecessary. With a viper's eyes over a gentle smile, she pours whiskey for them both. A good one, too. Possibly the best in the house. He leans back, casual in a way rarely if ever seen on the man.
"Tonight…we celebrate. Because in some few short tomorrows…I will not have sons. I'll have men."
"Father? To what honor do we owe this change in esteem?" Guarded, but curious. If he was being let into the inner circle, so to speak, better to play along.
Makoto glances at Masaru with a smirk, then turns his eyes to Shousei.
…That's a very odd thing to say. If this were just "hey, so your birthday's eventually, right" he could see it- he's not sure why his father would be doing this, but it would be a thing- but that includes Masaru. So this is something odd. Probably.
"…I think my brother echoes my question more eloquently." He smiles slightly.
"Doesn't he always?" Makoto sips his drink and his lawyer's grin widens…from a viper to a hunting beast. "One parries, while the other ripostes. One trains, while the other evades. One rises to become…while another descends into silence. My son of war…my son of faith…but that's not entirely correct, is it?"
"What /do/ you believe in, Shousei? I don't even have to ask in the case of my eldest. But you? What is it?"
What a terribly forward question. His smile gets thinner.
He takes a sip of his drink and inclines his head to watch Shousei. This was something he had wondered for quite some time as well. Was his brother a threat, or an ally? What caused him to tick?
Well, nothing for it but to be semi-honest-ish. He can't come up with anything better. "I suppose… to use the training metaphor, that I don't… think I'm on the same playing field." Not playing the same game, really. Possibly in an entirely different sport, played in an alternate dimension. But he really isn't sure.
Also not a direct answer, but there you go.
Makoto's eyes harden. "There is only one game. One goal. One premise…to deny yourself that challenge…is to say that you are not worthy of beng alive…but that's no surprise."
The lawyer's staring at Masaru…did…did she just lick her lips?
It would be wrong to say that doesn't sting somewhat, but it's someplace very deep and very dull at this point, and he shows no particular reaction.
"It is the second son, traditionally, who serves as the warrior. The follower, seeking his own fortunes, for none were guaranteed to him. Submit to despair…or build your own kingdom. You never dreamed of being worthy."
…Midly disconcerting. Kind of attractive as well, not going to lie, but to act that brazenly - she's not throwing her lot in with him, he knows, so it could only meant a very few things. And why does this trouble him somewhat….? Better to keep an eye on father.
"Hmm…still. It is better than the fate of third sons - to be nothing at all, alms to a hollow faith, in hopes that their will cause no real damage."
Shousei could respond to that- he almost thinks he /has/ a response- but there would be no point.
Makoto considers him a moment more, before turning to Masaru. "Of course…one could say that living for another man's role is hardly living at all. You've gotten strong, Masaru. I can see something in your eyes that is sharp and wicked. However…who are you, without me?"
"Without you? I am simply a man with a very specialized skillset, an eye tuned for specific things, and the ambition to see them through. I could make my own fortune, given what I have learned from you, and truthfully, I have considered such. But well, to use the sport metaphor… why not play for the winning team?" He grins wickedly.
"You are most certainly my son," is all he has to say in reply, with a smile that's much the same. His eyes keep gravitating back to Shousei.
Shousei folds his hands together. He's not like Masaru. He doesn't… /want/ to contend. And he's not Izumi, either, to break away. But his father is bringing to mind… that's what everyone has been asking him lately. Who are you? What do you want? What, did he change colors and now everyone's wondering if he's an alien?
…It's almost like he's trying to provoke me, but is that any different than usual?
"I have not been so much absent, as observing from a distance." He crossed one leg over his knee. "Naito Misaki…an unfortunate and inappropriate companion to you both. Explain why you bother with this girl. Both of you."
(Alertness, from both of you?)

He glances at Masaru.
…out of the corner of his eye, Shousei catches a faint movement….Izumi's not as good at hiding as he is.
Egh. God, girl, you're going to get yourself in such trouble, and I bet Dad sees you too…
(While waiting, Empathy to try to read Makoto? Good luck.)
Makoto, if he knows, doesn't care. However…where Shousei sees Izumi? …Masaru can also faintly feel a presence on the stairs. The only other person here is their mother, Kazue…trying to not make a sound, to barely breathe.
Not having the faintest idea what his father wants, and presuming Masaru will speak first as usual, he considers whether it's possible to warn his sister to shoo.
"Simply put, father, she intrigues me. Despite her rough qualities, her… eccentricities, there's a genius there, an undeniable skill. And you yourself always told me that finding specialists to both keep on hand and learn from was an important ability to develop early." He glances at his brother. "And in Shousei's case, someone needs to toughen him up a bit."
A napkin that was on the table is no longer there. It clearly has no reason to be there, anyway. And if that shadow on the stairs gets a little ball tossed at it underhand, well. "…" He vaguely resents Masaru's statement. Odd. /That/ of all things getting a reaction…
(I believe that's a 5.)
Makoto keeps his attention on Masaru. No great surprise there. But the lawyer's eyes suddenly shift onto Shousei…this time, she definitely licks her lips…as her vision pans out towards the shadows..
..Shousei's gaze levels on the lawyer for a brief moment. If you touch her, you creepy thing, I will kill you.
"If you want what Naito Misaki possesses, you could simply come to me. It should come as little surprise to you that I possess all that she searches for, and perhaps more. Do away with her. We don't have time for distractions now." An order. Direct, firm, and cold. (Masaru - Discipline vs. a social attack.)
"There is another matter involving her, but I would prefer to discuss it at a later time, perhaps more privately, father." He is just as resolute and stalwart sounding. Amazing. Even he was nervous directly opposing the old man.
So he's more interested in letting the mild insult pass and just talking to Masaru than demanding answers of me, Shousei thinks. That's a thing.
He regards Masaru in silence for a long time, before choosing to dismiss the request without answer. Oh, there would be discussions…but at another time. "And is this correct, Shousei? Does she harden you?" (Jab to the kidneys, Discipline to resist?)
(3 social stress, which can be downgraded with Consequences as normal.)
Shousei is trying very hard not to look sour. Very much so. He wants to respond neutrally. But he's going to lose…
"I would say that despite the circumstances forcing us together, she makes a very loyal ally," he says in one soft breath, "but your preferences are understood."
(Consequences, I suspect, are a better idea.)
(Not necessarily. Consequences last longer AND can be used against you within the scene.)
(what does being taken out do, then?)
(You are socially removed from the scene. Breaking, fleeing, losing all credibility. Depends on the shape/intent of the conflict. This…would be openly showing a broken resolve.)
"Circumstances…hmm." He tables that particular question. "And…do you think she shares this assessment? This alliance, and her loyalty to you?
As if on cue, the lawyer lays her hand on Makoto's shoulder. Masaru can almost imagine he didn't hear a pained gasp up the stairs.
He's not going to leave me alone, is he. It really doesn't matter what I say. And…
…It's amazing how brazen the old bastard was about these sorts of things. Masaru just had to keep his cool if this was going to go somewhere, as hard as it was at times.
He's not sure how his father wants him to answer, so again, well, that's how it is. His hackles are raised at the lawyer. He wants to get out of here. "When I say she makes a loyal ally, I mean that she has shown loyalty, so in that sense, yes." Does he know what Night thinks of him? Of course he doesn't. But he has an idea. He has… hope, sort of.
"And…" He looks at them both. "If one of you were to interfere with her…alliance with the other, who do you think would come first?" His smile widens.
Shousei glances at Masaru and takes a breath. What a question… the chances that that would even happen are ridiculous, unless he's implying something. Hell, even *if* he's implying something. He doesn't want anything from Night that he bets Masaru wants. "Interesting question."
"I think that, despite how external loyalties may break down, Shousei and I are bit closer than what one young woman could hope to drive a wedge between. Blood being thicker than water, and all." Glancing at Shousei while he says this. Maybe, if they worked together now, this would end faster. Please pick up on this.
"Hmm. Neither you understand yet…that she is your enemy. It's no surprise. Neither of you understand what you're truly fighting for. Which brings us to the…other problematic friendship. Michael Lin."
He practically spits the name.
And is glaring RIGHT at Shousei with a disgust that nearly promises violence.
(….and that Discipline check, Shousei.)
His fists squeeze under the table. It… takes him a moment, but. …Wait, why would /anyone/ have feelings that strong about-
(Actually, 6, but even so. You resisted!)
Mild confusion is evident on his face, and that probably saves him from feeling the full consequences of… disgust. Disgust. About /Michael/? Are we talking about the same Michael Lin? Small, Chinese, likes writing history papers?
"I forbid you from associating with him. Do I make myself clear?"
Not in the blind fucking slightest, father. "Yes," he says quietly.
"Good…it is not out of cruelty that I make such a demand. After all…eventually, he'll likely try to kill the both of you."
Okay you know what, no. Shousei makes a little sound. "With respect. If you could elaborate on that… I'm sure we'd both be very grateful."
Makoto smiles. "Naturally. Michael Lin is not even truly a human. He has no will, no ambition, not even the weak and shallow convictions you yourself possess, my Shousei. He is a weapon…no, even less than that. He is ammunition, aimed by whatever power claims him first."
The lawyer grins even wider, as if this were possible. She adds, "Though I suspect there will some surprises there. The Lin family has no concept of loyalty, after all."
A single look from Makoto makes her go pale and fall silent.
…It was good to see his father speaking so openly. It was a nice reminder of what he couldn't allow himself to become, no matter what power was offered him.
Shousei's anxiety rolls up in a little ball in his stomach. This entire conversation is deeply wrong.
"You know what is coming soon, Shousei, or you think you do. Make no mistake - Michael Lin will play his role, and he will /destroy/ you without hesitation or mercy. Because you lack conviction. Which brings us to the point of this meeting. I do not see sons here, but men."
He beams, all too warmly. "This…is your coronation.
His face remains still as his thoughts, oddly enough, turn to Paradise. He had just begun to think he had a few things figured out. That things were happening. But that's irrelevant. This is his life. He can't… just pretend everything is all okay anymore, can he.
Nodding slowly, and placing his glass on the table before him.. He had learned some time ago to remain silent when he needed to, but, it wasn't simply complacency. At last, the game had gone beyond opening moves, and the hands of the prime players had been exposed. He would have to act decisively now, to keep himself, and the others, from being outmanuvered.
"The both of you, as of this moment, are officially disowned. I need no heirs. You can make your own fates with the scraps laid on your back. Consider that my generosity. This place…I bequeath to Izumi. I have no need of it, but neither do I bear malice towards her or her mother. If this place will stand…it will be on their own strength. This level of challenge is more…suited to their kind."
He smiles very slowly. "They aren't like us, nor could they ever be."
The lawyer adds, "The legal proceedings are already handled. If I may be excused…?" Makoto nods. "I doubt they'll want their treasured Misaki in prison for too long."
Given a list of demands in one turn, forced into compliance, and then dismissed in another. What game was this, where the player set his opponent in check and abandoned the board in the same turn? "Father… No, Yamazaki-san. If I may but have a moment."
Shousei doesn't make a sound, and his thoughts have left words behind.
He sighs. "Always quick, but always playing the wrong game, Masaru. I think you would have ultimately disappointed me. At best? You would have proven marginally more powerful than myself. What kind of hollow victory is that? …but go on." (And another dig…Discirpine)
He chuckles. It is not a pleasant noise. "Honesty, finally. You're really being generous, today. I just wanted to thank you, genuinely, for what you've given me, both tonight and in the past, is all. No more. Good luck in your future endeavours."
"That…is a worthy sentiment. I look forward to seeing which of us will achieve their own paradise." He turns his eyes to Shousei. "And you…what will you do now, when there's no more distant authority to answer to? When there are no more simple dreams barred by weak excuses?"
"…are you going to bloom, now that you have no pretense of darkness over your head? Or…do you lack the strength, even alone, to be worth anything?"
(….and another….
His eyes close for a moment, then twitch as they open.
(Surprising strength from the young and quiet man? God, this is SMT.)
He looks up to his father, and for the first time that night (in how long exactly?), looks him in the eye. "I wonder if you'll ever find out."
…and a look Masaru hasn't seen in such a long time. Surprise. And a bit of anger at that surprise.
"That is /enough/, Makoto."
And down the stairs comes Kazue, red-eyed but imperious.
…And that is a bit of a proud smile creeping through Masaru's guarded expression.
"How can you speak to your own children that way? And this…this sounds /mad/. Please explain what you-"
He stands. "I have nothing to say to you, Kazue. You're the trophy wife of a lesser man. Perhaps he loved you. Perhaps he didn't. My last kindness will be sparing you either certainty. Goodbye."
…Kazue falls to her knees.
He watches her for a moment, before waiting for either son to challenge his last attack.
Shousei stands up, but says nothing. The conversation is over.
Not rising to it. Masaru long since has learned to pick his battles, and attacking here would be both perilous and award him nothing. He simply crosses his arms and looks toward his mother, guarded expression "I thought you were finished here, Yamazaki-san."
He nods. "So I am." He turns towards the door…and finds Izumi standing directly in his path.
…and is utterly surprised as the sound of a powerful slap echoes through the house.
Shousei can't stop the small smile from rising to his face.
6:57 PM FAITo
Yamazaki kneels. "So…you aren't afraid?"
6:57 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
Likewise, grinning a little, despite himself. Well done, brat. Well done.
6:58 PM FAITo
She trembles, but walks right past him. "G….g-g-get out!"
6:58 PM
And without another word, he dusts off his coat, rises, and does so…smiling. /Proud/.
6:58 PM
…leaving the rest of the family to itself.
6:58 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Is that what he's been trying to accomplish all these years?
6:59 PM
6:59 PM
He looks at Masaru. "When this mess is cleaned up, may we speak frankly?" Alone, preferably.
7:01 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
Masaru will contemplate this later. He's too busy bolting out of his seat to go check on his mother, kneeling down by her. "He's gone now." And then looking back at Shousei. "Yes. I have quite a bit to discuss with you."
7:01 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Right.. he's still so much better at this.
7:01 PM FAITo
Her eyes are full of tears, but she forces herself to stand. "…I need to clean the kitchen. I won't have anyone saying that I can't look after myself…Izumi, please pour out those glasses, and-"
7:02 PM
"Are you crazy?!!!" The girl shouts at her, amazed.
7:02 PM
Her mother doesn't so much as flinch. "Even if your father is a bastard, there's no excuse for a dirty house. Move."
7:02 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
And he doesn't understand Masaru, but as long as he cares for Mother and Izumi, they have to be on the same side. …Hell, that's a good answer to the question about Night, too, maybe.
7:02 PM FAITo
…and, more out on an ongoing shock than anything else…Izumi moves to comply.
7:02 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
A bit softer. "Izumi. Sometimes the best thing to do in a chaotic world is to find a little order. Trust me."
7:03 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Shousei… starts trying to help clean up.
7:03 PM FAITo
Izumi smiles at Masaru…and glares at little at Shousei, before picking up the pace.
7:03 PM
Kazue sighs. "Boys…it seems you have some idea what's going on. I can tell you want to discuss it. Let us girls take care of this here."
7:03 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Shousei sticks his tongue out at Izumi. How the hell is he /happy/? Crazy, yes.
7:03 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
"If you're sure, mother." Standing up, then.
7:04 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
"If you need anything, please just ask."
7:05 PM
If Masaru's going, he will too, after he deals with what he picked up.
7:06 PM FAITo
…and there's that sparking noise again…
7:07 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
…He sighs audibly.
7:07 PM FAITo
Masaru can hear an odd chanting, but that's it.
7:07 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
Masaru is headed back out to the back porch.
7:07 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
"And now I /know/ I don't have that thing on me…" Shousei mumbles as he follows.
7:09 PM FAITo
…two cards swim into his vision. A passing of waters, balanced on the shore…and a gleaming star across a dark knight. XIV and XVII.
7:10 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
His eyes close again, and he takes another breath, this time shakier.
7:17 PM FAITo
It's colder out than usual…even in Singapore. If only they'd brought coats.
7:20 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Weird. Shousei isn't even sure where his coat /is/.
7:20 PM
"So," he begins.
7:22 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
Masaru'sis in his car. "I have to admit, I'm not even sure where to start." His intonation is somewhat different. He's not holding himself at a distance, keeping his speech formal. There's no reason to hide how much that took out of him.
7:23 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Shousei looks like he's somewhere in the middle of a massive adrenaline rush, in the same way a person would be after successfully running away from a tiger.
7:25 PM
"…Okay." He takes a breath. "Then, I guess. Our family is in trouble but I don't think it matters because something terrible is probably going to happen anyway, and… and he's…" He shakes his head slowly, trying to rub something out of his eyes.
7:26 PM
"…Can we tell Night? Or has she told you? She probably knows everything. God."
7:27 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
"He's a lunatic. Most men would have the decency to just buy a sports car and fuck their secretary if they were going to burden their family with a midlife crisis. He's decided he's no longer human. Put him out of your mind for the moment." Cold and sharp sounding.
7:27 PM
"Now, what is this about Misaki-chan?"
7:30 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
His head-shaking gets more violent for a moment. "He's not- I mean- look, I don't know anything. I am… lost without a map. But I /cannot/ get it out of my mind that he knows something. About all this. That…" He takes a step back. "Everyone keeps telling me it's not the same thing- I'm sorry. I'm going crazy." The question wasn't about that, though. The question wasn't about that at all.
7:32 PM
"Night." He focuses on the question. "I think I need to- we or you or someone- she needs to know. What he said. Because if I'm wrong, she can hit me. And if I'm /hearing things/- she is the only one I can think of that will have any idea how to piece things together. If you don't mind."
7:33 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
…Reaching out to put a hand on Shousei's shoulder. Evidently, Masaru was not rocked hardest by this. Not by a long shot. "Shousei… take a moment and breathe. We'll call Misaki-chan, and sort through some things. Do you know where my apartment is, or do you just want to ride with me?"
7:36 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Shousei stands there for a moment, hand pressed over his eyes, trying not to freak out any further. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to- we have other things to talk about." Legal proceedings. Whether his last year of school has been paid off or what, he doesn't even know. Whether Mother and Izumi will need anything. Whether Masaru is okay, it occurs to him. And that calms him down a little.
7:37 PM
"I'll probably get lost. And I'm sorry, I probably really am… going… crazy. But if you don't mind, I'll get my things, and tell them where I'm going, and we can call Night. Thank you."
7:37 PM FAITo
At this point, they both get a text message.
7:37 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
7:38 PM FAITo
One of my classmates is unstable and has made threats about killing you. He just left and might try to do so. From Michael.
7:38 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
"Mother and I will discuss finances. Thankfully, I maintain the grades that my expenses are paid for by scholarship, save my apartment… which required a years payment at a time, so I have several months. As for your mental state, you're going to have to explain what you—" Reflexively yanking his phone out. Who is texting now?
7:39 PM FAITo
At this point, there's the roar of a motorcycle approaching.
7:39 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Shousei just /growls/.
7:40 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
"…I take it you have an idea who this might be?"
7:42 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
"…Not a certainty." His eye twitches. It would be nice if he had Oberon right now. /Kill/ them… murder has been thrown around so carelessly lately. He looks up to the sound of the motorcycle. "But yes."
7:43 PM FAITo
….it pulls around the corner, and the person on it lets it scrape DOWN THE STREET as he hops off and starts a slow march towards their car. Blonde hair blowing in the cold win. Tall, pale, and dandsome. Black biker's coat and a white surgical mask…and in his eyes…his now very SHINING BLUE eyes…rage.
7:44 PM
7:45 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
His fists clench hard. "Yes…" Fear, realization, panic, hatred. He's going to sleep like an infant tonight if they all live through it.
7:46 PM FAITo
"…my crown. I want my crown…I want my crown…I WANT MY CROWN!!!" He shouts. Cam Bradley.
7:47 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
7:48 PM
"We really need to discuss the sort of people you bring somewhere mother might see." The smallest of grins.
7:51 PM FAITo
(Initiative, please? This is based off of your flat Alertness score.)
7:51 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
Shousei smirks. "Just tell me… do we call the police, brother? Or do you think we should deal with him so they don't have to?"
7:51 PM
(that's 1.)
7:52 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
7:52 PM FAITo
(Yeah, he totally wins initiative. With a 3.)
7:52 PM
(Now…very important question. IS Masaru in his car?)
7:54 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
7:54 PM
(They were talking outside on the porch, last I checked.)
7:56 PM FAITo
7:57 PM Masaru_Yamazaki
(I hate to be a killjoy.)
7:57 PM
(But can we take like a fifteen minute break while I wait for this ibproufen to kick in?)
7:58 PM Shousei_Yamazaki
(I am cool with this. I need to figure out where the hell Gabriel is.)
"I WILL NOT BE REJECTED, YAMAZAKI!!!!" He steps up towards their yard, right by Masaru's car…and the left arm of his coat explodes into shreds. (Can I leave it on brief cliffhanger?) His arm rips and tears into three-clawed monstrosity. He grabs the grille and the meter-long elbow spike thrusts THROUGH the monstrous arm to pierce the car.
And sudden the car is not on the street.
The car is in the air.
The car is heading in their general direction.
(Feel better soon, bro.)