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Title: Burning Paper Dragons
Author: persepolis130
Beta: none (Please let me know if you see any issues!)
Pairing(s): Habashira/Agon, various minor pairings (m/m and m/f)
Word Count: novel (WIP)
Rating: R
Summary: As a new member of the yakuza Syndicate, Habashira Rui has been assigned the nightmarish job of assistant to Kongo Agon.

CHAPTER 1 / CHAPTER 2 / CHAPTER 3 / CHAPTER 4 / CHAPTER 5


Notes: In case you didn't already know, "unko" means "poop;" Agon is the master of sweet nicknames. Also, an oni is a Japanese demon.

CHAPTER 6

I burrowed in toward the warm body beside me, lips pressing against salty skin and mattress soft underneath me. A strong arm wrapped itself around my waist. Sheets twisted around my feet. That pounding noise was annoying as hell. Who the fuck was banging on the door? Whoever it was, I was going to kill them.

But not now. Later.

Much later.

I licked a path along a muscled shoulder and imagined I was still asleep.

"I know you're in there," a man's voice called. "Your car is parked in the back. This is not a joke, Agon! Where are you? Agon!"

Agon snorted and pushed my face away. "I'm in bed, stop yelling."

"Agon!" the voice insisted, sounding strangely familiar and now right outside the door. "The police showed up this morning! What the hell is going on? Why didn't you answer your phone?"

"I've been busy," Agon told him, and I slapped at his hand to show he couldn't just treat me however he wanted. It didn't seem to bother him, so I stuck my tongue in his ear.

The person outside the door carried on about something-or-other-- I wasn't really listening because Agon's hand was on the back of my neck coaxing me closer. Yeah, you like that, don't you, you arrogant piece of--

The door opened. "I can't believe you! You have no respect at all! The police, Agon! How could you leave me out to dry like that? I could have been arrested while you're with some woman in your--"

Across Agon's chest, I could see the doorway, and in it, Kongo Unsui. He gaped at me. I slid my tongue out of Agon's ear.

"A woman, is it?" Agon asked while I climbed off the far side of the bed. Agon was too special for a futon on the ground. "Now who's being disrespectful, Unko-chan?"

"Where are my cigarettes?" I demanded, searching the floor. Because of course it was going to end like this. Nothing was ever smooth sailing with Agon. I'd have less trouble riding a motorbike backwards during rush hour.

"How would I know?" Agon asked. "You keep telling me you don't smoke."

"You're an asshole," I informed him.

"You remember what I said last night about shutting up and the only time I wanted your mouth open?" Agon asked.

"Don't screw with me," I muttered. Damn it, I was smoking earlier, sometime between the second and third round, and I swear I left the pack someplace around...

"Fuu, scary!" Agon laughed, holding up my cigarettes. I made a swipe for them but of course he pulled them away.

On the other side of the room, Unsui made a choked sounding noise. I glared at him and found his eyes wide and mouth hanging open.

"What?" I demanded.

He closed his mouth, blinked a few times, swallowed, and looked generally horrified. "You..." he swallowed again and then blurted out, "You have a lot of tattoos!"

I blinked and looked down at myself. Starting at my shoulders, a background of black clouds cut my torso in half. On the right side, tigers prowled through a forest of bamboo, stalking their prey. On the left, a dragon wound its scaled body through chrysanthemums. My legs to the knee were half-finished, black only, with an oni staring up from one and a coiled snake twining around the other. The whole package looked pretty impressive.

But I didn't think that was what Unsui was looking at.

"You want a smoke or not?" Agon asked, smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

I glared at him and held out my hand for the pack. He handed it over along with a lighter, and I climbed onto the bed beside him. My dick pointed at the far wall, bobbing up and down as I settled against the headboard and lit up. Maybe I should've felt embarrassed, but I didn't. I just felt like smoking.

"You see, Unsui-kun?" Agon said. "It's just like I told you. I've turned over a new leaf!"

I had no idea what he was talking about. I didn't think I wanted to know. Unsui regarded him blankly for a minute but finally shook himself out of it. "Agon! There were police at my gym! What the hell is going on?"

"How would I know? I've been here since last night," Agon shrugged. He took my cigarettes and lit one for himself. "Nothing's going on right now. What did they want?"

Unsui sighed. "They just asked if I'd had any problems and left their cards. But they acted like they thought I knew something, and one of them seemed a little too interested in my finances. So help me, Agon, if I lose my business because of you--"

"Did you get their names?" I asked. "I'll check on their records with the Syndicate, and if they're not sympathetic, I can pay their wives a visit."

Agon laughed. "You see? My trash has come in handy twice today!"

"Agon," said Unsui. "Could we please--"

"Anytime you'd like to stop calling me trash would be great," I informed Agon, wishing he'd shut the fuck up. And who was he calling his, anyway?

"Face the facts, Rui-kun. If you call a canary a dragon, that doesn't make it one," Agon told me, blowing smoke in my direction. "All it does is make you look stupid."

"Maybe if you gave it the benefit of the doubt, it could act the part a little better," I told him, wondering how long it was going to take before this came to blows. I was definitely getting the urge to punch something. Well, I was born with the urge, but it got stronger every time that bastard opened his mouth.

Agon gave me a look. "Aah? Why would I want my canary to act like a dragon?"

Wait. "Are you calling me a canary?!" I demanded.

"I'm not taking any more of those packages," Unsui announced. I'd forgotten he was there. Why hadn't he left? "Do you hear me? No more. I'm serious!"

"Fine, fine. No more packages," Agon told his brother, shooing him away with a flick of his fingers. "Now get back to work. Your flabby patrons are waiting. Man boobs and muffin tops beckon! What are you doing in a room with two naked men, anyway? Are you some kind of homo?"

Red-faced, Unsui left.

Agon and I sat in silence on his bed, smoking peacefully in the early morning light. The only movement was our hands bringing the cigarettes to our lips or to the ashtray between us to tap away the ashes. His apartment wasn't overdone like I'd thought it would be. The bed was too big, and the curtains looked like they cost enough to feed a small country, but the walls were bare. Everything was tasteful, masculine, and made of long, sleek lines just like the body beside me. I liked it all, wanted it all, and that pissed me off.

"You should be ashamed, treating your older brother like that," I told Agon. "I wouldn't be caught dead disrespecting my aniki."

"You talk pretty big about respect, but I never seem to get any from you," he answered.

"You're saying I didn't give you what you wanted last night?" I demanded.

"Maybe you gave it to me," he conceded. "But that monster in your lap isn't 'respect' no matter how you look at it."

"Shut up," I said, as ashamed as I was proud. My dick was still standing at attention, and I didn't know if that was good or bad. "Don't talk about things like that."

"What, afraid I'll hurt its feelings?" he asked. "Hey, where are you going?"

I'd gotten off the bed and was starting to think about where my clothes were. My socks had ended up here, but I was pretty sure my shirt was by the front door. Damn it, my suit was probably wrinkled as hell. "I have to go," I told him. "I have work to do. If I don't get to the pachinko parlor by eight, there's this asshole who'll bitch about it."

Agon laughed, and I pulled one of my shoes out from under the bed as he lit up another cigarette. "Oh, I'm sure he'll be lenient just this once. After all, you've proven you're quite an asset, haven't you, Habashira-chan?"

"Don't call me chan!" I snapped. "I'm leaving!"

"No, you're not. You're going to fuck me again," Agon ordered. "Right now."

"I know that!" I shouted, and threw the shoe at him.

"You'll never make quarterback with an arm like that," he chided.

An hour and a half later, I came down in my wrinkled suit to find my windshield plastered with parking tickets I wasn't going to pay. Unsui sat on a bench beside my car drinking a coffee.

"I'm thirsty," I told him. "Where did you get that?"

He got me one from the vending machine across the street, and I joined him on the bench. I opened my can and sipped as I watched the traffic pass by-- all those regular people in their regular cars on the way to their regular jobs. I'd never understand them. Unsui was quiet, but rather than looking upset, he seemed thoughtful.

"I don't exactly know where to start," he told me.

"Then don't," I answered.

Unsui sighed. "It's just that... Agon's seemed different lately. More... centered. He's been saying things about other human beings that aren't entirely insulting, and... well, I had this crazy idea that he was finally settling down."

"That was a crazy idea," I agreed.

This was stupid. I didn't want to talk about Agon. I shouldn't have stopped here. I was sitting in a rumpled suit next to a shaved-head guy on a public street. It just looked bad.

"My brother leads such a turbulent lifestyle," Unsui continued, unfazed. "He doesn't think of the future at all. He treats people however he likes and never considers the consequences."

"He can't treat me however he likes!" I protested.

Unsui looked at me and opened his mouth to reply but closed it again. He fussed with his can for a minute. "No matter how he acts, I worry about him. He's my little brother, after all. And... this is an awkward topic to bring up given the circumstances, but... I signed up with a matchmaker a while back."

I started. "You're not married?"

"Oh," he said. He shook his head and took a drink. "I don't have much luck with women. I do alright at first, but after they meet Agon, they're not satisfied with me anymore. He says it would help if I grew my hair out, but I can't handle that sort of lifestyle change."

Hair is a lifestyle? What the hell?

"Agon needs stability in his life. That's something a wife could give him," Unsui explained with a resolute voice. I nodded in agreement, knowing all Megu had done for me. "I've been telling him it would do him good to find a decent woman he actually cares about instead of this never-ending chain of girls whose names he doesn't even know. From the way he was acting when we had dinner on our birthday, I just thought maybe..."

"Your birthday?" I asked. Wasn't that the night he was blitzed and we fucked for the first time? He'd been with Unsui, not some girl? Something about the idea didn't sit right with me.

Unsui shrugged. "Well, I'm sure it didn't mean anything. He's just up to his old tricks, lying and manipulating people. I thought maybe he had someone special in his life. But that was just what he wanted me to think. There's no one like that for him, is there?"

That egocentric bastard? Someone special? "I wouldn't know anything about that," I told Unsui.

He got up and dropped his can into a recycle bin. "I should get back to the gym. Thanks for your time," he told me. "Sorry to interrupt your, um... I mean, sorry to bother you with family problems. And don't worry about the police. I mean, please don't visit their wives. It's fine."

I shrugged. "Don't worry about it. Compared to some of the bullshit Agon's put me through, this morning was almost pleasant."

He gave me an odd look and walked away. I followed him with my eyes, sipping the rest of my coffee, until he disappeared inside the train station.

My phone buzzed. It was mail from Agon.

Cigarettes and condoms it said.

Yeah, that was about right.

*****

For once, Agon's word was good, and whatever got screwed up with the shipment was never mentioned. Maybe I'd read the whole thing wrong, and there never was a shipment. Maybe Agon was lying through his teeth. But what did it matter? A week later, the boss complimented me on my dedication. He said he had a project coming up that was perfect for me: my boys and I would help manage booths at the annual festival.

What most people didn't realize was that everything you bought at any festival in Japan was produced, funded, organized, or taxed by the yakuza. "Respectable" citizens said we were leaches on society, but they paid out the ass for our choco bananas, plastic souvenir masks, and goldfish scooping games. Festivals got the Family a third of our annual revenue, and being assigned to the booths was a noted step up in rank. If it went well, I'd get a substantial cut of the profits, too.

I was putting the money toward my tattoo. With all the time I was spending with my clothes off lately, I'd started feeling self-conscious about it. I'd get my thighs colored and maybe get my personal motto inked down the center of my chest. Not that I had a motto, but I'd come up with one. Honor, justice, dedication, strength... some manly kanji.

And if I made enough off the deal, I'd bring Megu in with me and extend the flowers from her shoulder. Her naked back would look amazing with lotuses trailing down it. That's the sort of thing a man should do for his wife. Speaking of wives, I'd been thinking...

"I can't believe your brother's not married," I told Agon. I was lounging in his ugly black chair listening to the ping and whir of pachinko machines, sipping shochu from the bottle. The morning was warm for September, and a small metal fan blew air across the room.

"I can't believe you are," Agon responded, stuffing packets and papers into a larger mailing envelope. It was "private business," which was the only reason he wasn't making me do it. "Who'd want to wake up every morning and look at your stupid face?"

"Don't insult my wife," I said. "She's a good woman." Also, my face does not look stupid.

"Aww, Rui-kun loves his little wifey!" Agon said with a fake-smile. "How sweet!"

"There's nothing wrong with loving your own wife," I informed him, taking another drink. He was such a bastard.

He shrugged. "Why bother? I'm fine with loving other men's wives."

"Well, stay the hell away from mine!" I snapped.

He laughed and sealed the envelope, which had a cancelled postmark on one end. The way his tongue ran along the edge of the paper made me hard. How long had it been since I'd fucked him last?

"I'm surprised a zero-patience idiot like you hasn't given her a nervous breakdown," he said. "She's not one of those 'independent' types, is she? I hate women like that."

"Good," I told him. Almost eight hours. That was too long. Anything over five or six, and just looking at him started to piss me off. Especially when he still made me blow him in the morning.

Agon waved his envelope at me. "Get off your ass and deliver this to the usual place," he said.

"The gym?" I asked, not moving an inch. What the hell? "You promised Unsui you wouldn't drop any more packages with him!"

"I remember what I told him," he said. "Now get the fuck up out of my chair."

I didn't like his ugly chair anyway, so I did what he said. I was taking the liquor, though. "Do you lie about everything?" I demanded.

He shrugged. "Only when it's easier than telling the truth."

I rolled my eyes and snatched the envelope, only to have him grab me by the jacket as I turned to the door. I thought he was going to hit me, but instead, he fixed my tie. I'd forgotten I'd loosened the thing. I was sweating from the heat, and I didn't want to ruin the collar of the new shirt he'd got me.

"If your brother refuses to take it, it's your problem. I won't be held responsible for your broken promises," I informed him.

Agon tipped my chin up and brought my mouth close to his. His breath was hot and damp on my skin, and I swallowed hard. "As an assistant, you have a certain skill set I appreciate," he murmured, lips brushing mine. "I like your work. Don’t ruin this by thinking you’re something special."

"No," I replied in the same tone, a hand against the bastard's chest to press him away. "The only special one is you."

"And don't you forget it," he agreed.

If Agon thought I was delivering his package anytime soon, he was even dumber than he said I looked. I shoved it under the passenger seat with the receipts I'd kept for all the shit I bought him and would never get paid back for. It served that asshole right if I hung him out to dry on this. That's what he got for fucking with Habashira Rui.

*****

Ashizuka's younger cousin was being initiated into the Family, and I decided to pay him a visit. His girlfriend rented a room on the nicer end of the bad part of town, and he'd been crashing with her until his apprenticeship was over. I pointed the Cadillac in that direction and figured I'd make a day of it.

But when I got there, the girl was wearing this facial treatment that made her look like Godzilla'd screwed a toad, and young Ashizuka was drooling on the couch. Figuring I'd take his lead, I went home to catch a few hours' sleep before Agon called and bitched about wanting me again. If he didn't put some effort into getting me in a better mood, there was no way I was doing that thing with my tongue he liked.

When I pulled up, Ryo was sitting on the front step with a textbook in one hand and a bottle of tea in the other. It was strange seeing him in his new uniform, all white with a strip of blue along the edges. He looked so... upstanding. Like a respectable citizen. I didn't know how he could stand it.

"Hey, Dad," he said.

"What are you doing home so early? Shouldn't you be at football practice? Are you in trouble already?" I demanded. "You know, you can't act the same way as you did at Zokugaku."

He snapped the book shut. "I didn't do anything wrong. The coach is just an asshole," he told me. "He won't let me join. Not even to practice."

"Aah?!"

Ryo scowled. "He says I've gotta wait 'til spring and try out with the newbies and first years. Can you believe this shit?"

"With the first years!" I shouted. "But you're an experienced player!"

"I know that, but he says it'll give the wrong impression about stealing other teams' aces or something," he said. "It's a load of crap. He just doesn't want me 'cause I talk like a punk. He thinks I'm not worthy. If I was from Shinryuuji or Deimon or someplace else famous, you can bet your ass he'd take me."

"Kah! That's the most ridiculous bullshit I've ever heard!" I snapped, pissed as all hell. "Just because Zokugaku doesn't win championships doesn't mean we don't have strong players!"

Ryo fussed with his tea. "Don't say 'we' like you're still a student there, Dad. It's weird."

"Backtalk is not acceptable in this house," I reminded him.

He sighed. "I hate how everybody's gotta judge me before they even know me. And what am I supposed to do now? I can't even use the weight room if I don't join a sports club, and I'll get a reputation as a quitter if I switch to football next year."

I frowned, pulling out my cigarettes as I tried to work out a solution. Habashiras weren't quitters. "I'll talk to the coach," I told him.

He looked appalled. "No you won't! Everyone'll think I'm a pussy!"

"You watch your fucking language, do you hear me?!" I snapped. "What would your mother say if she heard you talking like that?"

"She'd say I was right," he told me, and I didn't appreciate his tone. "Everyone'll think I go crying to daddy every time I have a problem."

"There's nothing wrong with using your network when you're caught in a tight spot," I reminded him. "Coming from this family, you should know that."

"Look, Dad, I want you to help me train, not put a hit out on my new coach," he told me. "Can't you do that? You've got some ideas, right? Weren't you team captain? I'll train my ass off, and next spring, I'll be so good, that coach'll regret taking a Habashira lightly. Otherwise, the whole school is going to look down on us."

"Is that so," I said.

He nodded. "They'll think we're all dropouts. Weaklings. Our name will be a joke. You can't let that happen, right?"

When he put it like that, how could I refuse? There was a certain charm to a kid trying to strong-arm his own father. Maybe he had more guts than I'd given him credit for.

It was doubtful, but a man could hope.

"I'll see what I can do with the training," I told Ryo. "I know someone who might be able to help. But if I start pulling strings for you and I hear about you slacking off, it's over. No more help from me or the Family. And you'll be stealing your own lunch money. Got it?"

"I never meant to slack off, Dad. I just..." he shrugged. "I headed down the wrong road, you know? And it took a while to get back on track."

"I don't want excuses. I want effort!" I snapped.

Ryo smiled. I couldn't remember the last time he looked at me like that. "Thanks, Dad. You're the best."

I shook my head in defeat and headed into the house. I didn't feel like the best. I felt like anything but. I didn't know Unsui's phone number, and I couldn't keep Agon's damned package under my car seat forever no matter how much I wanted to. How could I show up asking for a favor as I handed it over? The unsuspecting idiot was going to shit a brick.

*****

Whoever owned that Lexus, I was going to seriously fuck him up.

I come home from a shit day at work to find some asshole parked in front of my house in the exact car I'd buy (jet black LS with Sport Special Edition wheels) if I had a spare ten million yen lying around. Which I was never going to see in my lifetime because Agon kept pissing me off and making me yell at him. Kah, why did he always have to redirect my anger toward himself? I was fine being mad at life in general.

Well, I wasn't fine. I was pissed as hell. And I'd been expressing my righteous anger to Agon that morning in a healthy rant when it all went wrong:

"Why the hell would the boss put me in charge of the whole damned festival? Booth revenue, setup, everything!" I fumed. "I'm being set up for failure! I've never been in charge of a single booth before. I don't know how to run a whole festival. I don't do festivals! I work in gambling. Gambling!"

Agon shrugged. Like always, he had liquor in his hand, and he took a drink. "If you don't think you're the man for the job--"

"Of course I am! I'm incredibly capable! I have hidden depths and abilities even I don't know yet! I'll organize the best festival booths you've ever seen!" I insisted. "The Syndicate will make a killing off it! But I could've been eased into this! It's like subbing me into the World Cup championship game and expecting me to be able to fill Shin Seijuurou's shoes. A man needs time to work up to these things!"

"Shin Seijuurou was the greatest high school linebacker in Japanese history who went on to break records in the NFL Japan. When you die, you'll still be a hundred years too early to dream of filling his shoes," Agon told me, looking annoyed. "You weren't in the game for ten minutes, and you could barely drag your ass off the field."

"Kah! Shut up!" I snapped. "No one thought I could make the team! You were supposed to be the biggest genius out there, and you weren't named MVP! You didn't even get the most points on Team Japan! And you know who did? Some 'trash' player you look down on!"

Agon took another sip of his drink, watching me in silence. I swear he did it just to prove he was in control of the conversation and could take as long to answer as he wanted. It made me want to kick his teeth in.

"I don't feel like talking about that game," he finally told me.

"Yeah, I bet you don't!" I agreed. "I looked like a hero, and you looked like a loser!"

And then he started snarling that I was trash unfit to lick his shoes or some bullshit, and I started yelling for him to go fuck himself, and he fake-smiled and said, "That's what I keep you around for," and things went downhill from there.

So if, after seeing the car of my dreams, I came this close to killing the man who said my name and walked up to me with an envelope, it was understandable. Deliverymen should have a better sense of self-preservation. And he had a weak bladder if a few paltry threats on his life affected him that much.

I snatched the envelope from his fingers.

A gift for my canary, it said.

Kah, I am not a fucking canary! When had the asshole sent this? It must've been set up before we butted heads. Yesterday, maybe. No way he was giving me a gift after what I called him today. He'd give me a kick in the nuts first.

Wait-- gift?

I blinked and looked into the envelope. Had he sent money? A credit card to a menswear store, maybe? I'd never had a credit card, and I liked the idea. I still needed new shoes. But the envelope was empty.

The deliveryman, whose pants were now quite dark at the crotch, held out a set of car keys. "I also have paperwork for you to fill out please, if you would, Habashira-sama," he told me, bowing and adding very tactfully, "Our very valued customer, sir. Please."

I stared at him, not getting it.

The next thing I knew, the idiot deliveryman was bowing again and saying what a pleasure it was to serve me and running for his life, and I had a set of car keys and signed title and registration paperwork in my hand. I stared at them.

Then I pressed the button on the key, and the Lexus flashed its headlights at me like sunlight off a panther's eyes as it tracked its prey through the African savannah.

My hands trembled, and I swallowed down a lump in my throat.

Shit.

I was so fucked.

NEXT CHAPTER

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
akkiash
Dec. 30th, 2014 07:10 am (UTC)
Haha! Good as your last chapter! Can't wait for the next one!
persepolis130
Dec. 31st, 2014 12:06 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! Glad you like it! I'll do my best to get another chapter out in the next couple of weeks!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )