Flashin' lights. Summer nights. Top down and underage, fresh blood flowed downtown to the hottest party of the night, something seedier than appropriate for this unblemished fruit. But rules were made to be broken and money grew on trees and furnished the essentials for such breakaways. Three slipped past the velvet rope, three shots shared alongside the host. Three past midnight and they split paths, the dancefloor their home for the hours til dawn. Anonymity drew them, the night's finds kept them.
Miki was one of three, entertaining the beat with the step of her feet, the swivel of her hips. Her height made her conspicuous, but the dark fall of hair, worn loose, tickled her neck and the top of her shoulders and veiled her wingtipped gaze. A tailored halter top left her back bare, premium denim hugged her legs from hip to ankle. Her shoes - lacerated patent leather Mary Janes - were her signature, with the season's latest twist.
An accoutrement, one hundred percent of one, explored new avenues; a party to which invitations had only cursorily been sent, acknowledged by only a few of the echelon named Tokyo's elite. Takatsukasa Kimiaki, ignorant of his sister's attendance, had chosen to attend this party alone. He often did, when the locations were perhaps less fashionable than those his schoolmates would choose to frequent, or when they were more so than his outerschool companions could afford. The comfortable middleground was often unreachable for all but the most average of denizens, but tonight, Aki mingled quite comfortably with the norm.
If Miki's height made her conspicuous, Kimiaki simply towered above his compatriots. More than once rumour had whispered of foreign blood as a taint in Takatsukasan bloodlines, but with no confirmation, there was little for any to do but talk. Nevertheless, Aki's head was comfortably above most others in the venue, allowing him to peruse and select his evening's temporary companions. His dark-coloured clothing was simple: a grey-sheened teal shirt, collar open, black jeans, although he was unsure of either their brand or value, sneakers of questionable age, yet looking well cared-for, and his usual haphazard bangs, freshly razored to hang stark and edge-ridden over one eye.
He watched. More importantly, Aki's roving black eyes were eyeing the market. Not for any specific reason; he had arrived at the party alone, and fully intended on leaving the party alone. However, there was never anything wrong with looking, and in Aki's case, looking generally involved a little chatter, a little patter, and good-natured tomfoolery all round. Old habits died hard, and the Takatsukasan Socialite wasn't about to try.
Black eyes of the same design were just shy of lash-meshed, too-consumed, not-quite-here because when Miki danced it had so little to do with watching, and so much to do with feeling. Movement, in her waking world, was a restricted activity. Dancing, in the world behind her eyelids, belonged to a different world. The sway of her hips knew only the beat, the mesh of bodies around her buoyed her dance-borne ecstasy, cradling her in smothering heat with the frigid breath of air conditioning blessing the space above.
It was heat that fished the doll from the lake for a drink. As the thought struck her, it sliced a ray of light into her twilit haze and she spared minutes like pocket change for a brief dance with a semi-attractive fellow in her personal space. Never too long with any one person who wasn't up to par, she whirled from him in a moment of uncoordination, pressing away into the throng of revelers. He was too short.
So was she, oh ho!
Or so claimed her brother, who had spied the flamboyant firefly on her turning about the room. Their shadows converged as frayed mesh should, neat and slick, with only a few miscellaneous edges protruding in jagged fashion. The dancer and her companion would do well to tread with care, though common assumption could with confidence predict they would not.
She was a flame on the dancefloor, and one that spelled attraction for every sense. Kimiaki, although no moth, was willing to play one for tonight, for a sibling he hadn't seen since her plunge into bad taste. He wondered whether she would taste the same as before. He considered, too, whether it was appropriate to dance with one's twin in such a manner. The thought, far from appalling, was enthralling - and he claimed her space his own.
The moments between convergence and recognition were spare, and though the flavor of their exchange had since soured and separated, she, too, would play sweetly. For, bad taste notwithstanding, one never loses the taste for one's own blood.
He was anyone on the dancefloor to her; they shared so few moments of rapport in eighteen years that he could be a stranger - he was a stranger. And she by her own decree, the tallest creature present of her species (yet still shy 4 inches of the boy), was the only one suited in that moment to lay claim to his space.
Miki would not be daunted - no, this was but another challenge, a tease. An unwitting gambit. She focused on the music and the movements it incurred and ignored the clamour in her head and the burning in her chest. She moved as though he was a stranger, a worthy foe on the dancefloor.
Her lack of real recognition didn't go unnoticed, and despite the realism haunting the situation, it was a turn off, in Aki's own, blunt wording. He liked having a connection with the girls he spent time with - even if it was singular focus on a dancefloor. Eye contact, with silent whispers passing between them, was a must, and with a walled-off stranger, this was nearly impossible.
So he gave her back her lost 'pocket change', the coins she'd handed to the other stranger who'd hassled her at the bar, and then caused a separation to occur, a shorter minx sifting between them. A slight smile appeared, then, on the Socialite's features, as the drunken girl proved more useless in the dancing area, but a lot more apt in empty communication. As a result, Miki was left further unmolested.
Several drinks shy of tipsy, Miki reached a slender hand out and snaked a grip round a receding limb, shorter minxes be damned (and punted out of the way). Oops, elbows! One woman between them was one too many, and the miscellany weren't welcome to try their hand. Tugging him (or herself?) bodily back into quickly diminishing personal space, Miki's lips curved with the smallest of quirked smiles, black eyes jumping to their mirror with similarly incendiary mirth.
That said, dancing resumed reign as the tongue of choice. What else was there to say? Hi? Fancy meeting you here? Miki preferred not to risk cheapening the fortuitous, and would leave linguistic overtures to the more eloquent half of their ever unstable equation.
Rare, momentary surprise glanced off the face of her twin, to be replaced rapidly with a flicked brow and grin - so like her own. His hand pulled her back to where the female of any duet should belong, his longer arms resting loose and light atop Miki's slim shoulders. This was a very different situation to most of their meetings, and Aki reasoned that if she suddenly decided to punch him in the face, he'd feel her shoulder move, and have that extra split second or two to piledrive her into the crowd to punch at will and large.
He did put a kiss to the crown of her head, a small affair that was both proprietary and welcome. Not that he meant to deny her the attention of other men that night - but territory was territory, even when temporary siblings played the field.
Miki couldn't help but grin at the kiss, genuinely and brightly with a slight squint of one eye. A stranger would've had a fist or knee somewhere within seconds for such an action. But for Aki, an exception could be made. After all, he wasn't kissing anyone else on the forehead at the club, now was he?
Pleased that the night had delivered her a worthwhile dancefloor companion - she was not so quixotic as to imagine their sudden accord was anything but fleeting - Miki let the rhythm do as it would with snaking curves and smooth planes. She didn't dance for an audience, she danced for herself, and the invitation that came with her movements was that of transcendence - Come fly with me!
Frequent club visits had granted her release in the form of movement without boundaries or rules - when she danced, she felt as though her soul were showing, shining through the grime of formulae and language. Who better to invite on such a journey than her oft-estranged, seldom-found half?
Aki, unlike his wisp of a sister, didn't seem, nor claim, to be a spectacular dancer. He moved with the flow, kept the beat intact, and made sure not to tread on any toes. One could say he was passingly decent, for a man of his height and length. Nevertheless, in dancing, one followed in the line of stronger talent, and for once, Aki capitulated to decorum, and let Miki map their route.
He spent more time watching her; this anomaly of femininity. In the last eighteen months, he'd watched her transform from a spunky punchout dyke to a cosmetic-clad sylph who didn't look much different from half the girls he'd bedded, not wedded, before Midori had properly staked her claim. She apparently slept around. No confirmations here, but hints and whispers smoked only when there was fire beneath. Miura was a prime example, and despite his self-proclaimed strippage of himself from Mikiami's familial presence, Aki found himself just wondering how it'd all panned out.
Thus, while she let herself go, and lit the sky with her own brand of reds and oranges, he watched, and formulated the outline of a jigsaw amidst the club's flashing lights. Such was a common past-time for him.
Miki made no claim to skill, merely following the steps the music laid out for her, while taking into consideration the movements of whoever shared her space. Unaware of speculation or scrutiny, she continued, wondering behind her fall of impertinent bangs just what had transpired in Aki's life since they'd last spoken. A glance caught him watching, and she arched a brow curiously.
The music gave way to a less inspiring song and Miki's body reminded her she'd been vying for a drink. Scoping out the bar, she canted her head in its direction, and, rather than risk it, she beckoned that Aki follow by a tug of the wrist.
Pliant, the younger followed on, scooping her into a spare stool barside before the space was snapped away. He leaned against the polished, yet still kinda grungey bar-top, and beckoned over the nearest, but not necessarily dearest, version of bartender to be found. A jerk of his chin indicated she order for herself. It had been a long time since Aki and his sister had drunk anything together other than familial table salt, and as a result he had little clue as to preference or taste.
He said nothing - Aki was not one to fill any gap with chatter, whether idle or even non-idle. He simply waited. She'd indicated departure from the dancefloor, and silence had worked well thus far tonight. Why inject tension into a sleeping beast?
Thirst commanded, thus Miki kept it simple with a cranberry vodka, deliberately weak. Aki could see to his order, and, as she was not quite the typical nobody her brother had mistaken her for, she paid for both drinks. Of course, when the drink arrived, it was swallowed down with thirst in mind as opposed to varying states of inebriation.
"Can I ask you something?" she said without preamble, finding many questions rushing up to her loosened tongue. Without waiting for his permission, she continued. "Do you hate me?" she asked earnestly, looking up at him with a clear black gaze. She cared not that this may not be the time or place - in their world, childhood bedrooms, dorms, cafes, more 'appropriate' places for conversations - these were places of discord and easy evasion. Therefore, why not the club.
Her fingers on his wrist were a light reminder of her presence and her query, and not so much a means to hold him captive. She'd found the simple touch a strong opponent against short attention spans.
"No," Aki replied. He kept the answer as short and simplistic as the question, and didn't attempt to explain any further. He didn't hate her, although it was clear and evident to the both of them that she wasn't taking up residence in his favourable column either. He sipped at his drink, a low key Asahi. "I destroy people I hate," completed his post-sip sentence, and the topic was done.
"Mm... well, there's something. I almost think you liked me better when I beat you up regularly." She said, arching a brow. A hint of mirth threaded her words, her mood light enough to handle heavy matter. She poked his wrist with one finger.
"I liked you better when you weren't one of them." Aki admitted, turning their hands so her poking one was trapped between his and the bartop. He was looking out over the crowd of girls he was labeling; drunken, flirtatious, easy. He turned his gaze, frank but neutral, to Miki. "You're better than that, so I didn't - I don't - understand what the appeal is. A guy like Miura? 'The fuck, Miki. Miura?! Couldn't you scrape any lower?"
Miki mulled over this; Aki's comment incurred no fury, only thought. "Miura... is not a low to scrape to. He has a bad reputation, does stupid things even I can't approve of, but I don't see this as being a low. To each their own faults, you know? He's human, with faults and strengths." She delivered this with the calm of one who had weathered a storm and survived intact, living on to tell the tale. "Secondly, I'm not and never will be 'one of them'. If you actually knew me, you'd know that. I just... want to live a little, and I'm as entitled as you are to date, or whatever you want to call it. As for being better than that, that's kind of you to say, but you're the one who called me a slut when I'd only ever slept with one person, once, ever." This tidbit, Miki assumed, would be news to her brother who was ever so impressionable in the face of rumour. "You're quick to believe the very worst of me," she added solemnly, her eyes seeking his.
"When you spend half my life beating me, and the other half ignoring me, what is there to believe?" Aki's response was delivered in usual fashion; with a smirk where nonchalance would not do. "Secondly, you are one of them, or if you're not, you're putting on the same makeup. People use those girls, people discard those girls." He finished his beer, and slid the empty can onto the bartop. He had not yet released Miki's hand, and didn't seem likely to. It was a small point of contact for them both, but it seemed to be gluing them to the same place.
"Let me tell you something. You should know already, but just in case." His now-emptied hand steered her shoulder in another direction, facing towards Exhibit A. "See him. He's one of two classic types of guy that hangs out here. He really digs that girl." Another turn, a girl nearby. "She could give a shit, so he sleeps with anything he can find to try and replace her. No girl is ever the same, so they never last beyond a few hours of distraction."
Another boy; Exhibit B. "He's the other type. He's never had a girlfriend beyond a few days. He's scared of commitment, maybe has a bit of money to burn. He's probably got a fucked up homelife, and comes out here to take it out on any pair of open legs he finds. He's not interested in anything behind it. He doesn't want to talk. He doesn't want to know what your hobbies are. All he wants to do is draw you into a sense of security so he can fuck you. The best way to fuck a girl is to make her feel wanted, listened to, and comfortable."
He turned Miki back towards him, whether she was still listening to the lecture, or whether she'd zoned out. "You won't find anyone else here," he said. "Unless it's the guys who are already taken. They're in two categories too. The ones who are cheating, and the ones who bump into their sisters. The very fact that you're here, a girl, alone, screams out to every guy in the room that you're prey. Is that what you really want, Miki?"
"No." Miki replied, attempting to hide a bit of sulk. She failed. "I go out because... I like to. It's more fun than the freaking library or study group, you know? I've been that my whole life." Her calm had frayed at its outermost edges, and the girl beneath the cool exterior showed in places. "I'm not prey if I keep my guard up... I just come here to dance, and be around people who have better social skills than the average academic." The underlying truth remained unspoken - she half expected he wouldn't understand. Or better yet, ridicule her. "Just being here doesn't make me one of them, and wearing makeup isn't a crime of mediocrity, you know." This, she punctuated with a roll of her eyes. The seriousness of the conversation did not evade her, however. "Would you prefer I stick to my books my whole life, never look nice or wear makeup, never go out, never date, never make mistakes, never anything? When I was like that, you called me a dyke, among other things."
"That's not what I'm saying at all," Aki flicked an eyebrow in her direction. "I'm just telling you what not to expect. I know what you're like - and I know what you used to be like, before the dyke days, before the geek days swallowed you up. But I know that you want more of a mental connection with a guy than someone gunning for your southern hemisphere, and I don't think you're going to find that here, or with people like Miura." Yeah, maybe he was stuck on that name. "This is Japan, Miki. You're a girl. It sucks for you, but playing too much outside the lines might ruin your future in some way you don't want." Like Miki, he didn't truly expect her to understand, or even listen, to the unwelcome invasion of her privacy. Especially not from a guy who had the freedom to live precisely as he wanted and get little overall backlash.
"Besides," he said. "The more people who fuck you over, the more people I have to fuck up. I'm a busy guy, Miki. I can only break so many noses in a day."
At that, Miki burst out laughing. "You, fucking up some guy who messes with me? Is this theory or practice!?" The brother who seemed more content to call her names than bother to know her would throw a fist in the face of someone who dared have their wicked way with her? Bizarre. Unlikely. She calmed herself down to explain the jist of what just moments prior she thought he wouldn't understand. Perhaps it was the vodka talking. "I hate everything about this life, Aki. I hate being a girl, I hate the rules, and I hate that you have always been able to do whatever the hell you want while I have to be some sort of china doll. For all the freedom I don't have, I am just 'one of them' because any other girl out there has the same problem." Her eyes flashed with all too familiar rage, boiling just beneath the surface, though not aimed at Aki this once. "There are many worse things I could do that would probably make me happy, but cause more problems than necessary for our name." Her eyes asked, do you understand?
Aki regarded Miki with some mild form of affront, apparent only in the set of his eyes. "You do what you want," he said, with no inflection to dull or marr his tone. "Just don't expect people to think well of you when you do." He took his hand from hers, using it to flag down the barstaff. Another round of drinks, if you please.
"I've always looked out for you," he said, after a warmed shot of sake. "When possible." He supplied no details, and seemed unlikely to explain further. The sake was more a more appealing date.
"Going out dancing and having a run-in with Miura shouldn't tarnish my 'virtuous reputation' too much." Miki replied. "People might talk, but at the end of the day the biggest mouths will say 'Well, he is Elite, he's just troubled.' Or they'll write it off as a foolish mistake on my part - as some already are." Miki's tone gave nothing of her leanings in regards to probable public opinions. She shrugged, sipping her drink. "If they think worse than that, what can I do? It's not true. And I don't want to fight rumours." Her glass of truth serum was hard at work. "It's too much work." She, former Socialite queen in her gradeschool heyday, was well aware of the effort required to combat rumours.
Aki snorted, and refilled her glass. "You've got it covered," he said, and straightened. His eyes, hard and glinting, had gone off to peruse their surroundings, looking for the miniscule halfpint he'd rejected in favour of Family Ties earlier. He'd had enough of talking, especially to a wall that thought it knew everything. Grade school was not here, and not now, and was especially not anything when it came to her ignorance, and mocking attitude, towards what little connection they had left. Aha, there was Half Pint.
"I'll leave you to it," he said, and saluted with his shot glass before knocking it down. "She's calling to me." A nod in Half Pint's direction, and Aki's shoulders rolled, almost as an athlete's would before gunning towards his goal. "Catch you later, Mik'."
Holier than thou - that was his stance now, wasn't it? Miki couldn't bring herself to say a word. Pride, her one remaining virtue, would not allow it. Why chase after something when it wasn't even running, but was right in front of her, encased behind a soundproof wall? She had become invisible and ignorable - and no amount of screaming, kicking, or punching would rectify it.
Catch you later, indeed. Miki downed the remainder of her drink and headed for the doors.
She'd liked him better when all he threw her way were barbs, too.