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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 / CHAPTER 6 / CHAPTER 7


Notes: Seppuku is traditional Japanese ritual suicide.

CHAPTER 8

I wanted to screw Unsui.

I was in his gym with another stupid package watching him help a middle-aged man with a gut hanging over his waistband on the free weights, and all I could think of was laying him across a workout bench and...

Did he move the way Agon did? Did he make the same sounds? Did he wrap a leg around me and pull my hair just a little too hard when he was right on the edge of coming his brains out?

I tilted my head, considering.

Unsui smiled and took me into his office for tea.

"Your son's coming along well. He didn't come here in the shape I would've hoped for, but he's incredibly driven. It's been years since I've trained someone like that," he told me as he poured me a cup. I didn't want tea, and I didn't want to be in a room alone with a guy with a shaved head, especially one I was imagining naked, but I did want to hear about Ryo.

"He promised me Christmas Bowl tickets," I told him. "A man keeps his promises."

Unsui smiled. "Yes, well, if sheer determination could win the championship, he'd be there already. He has some obstacles to overcome, but he's not letting it get him down."

My phone buzzed, and I checked it as I told Unsui, "You should've seen him a few months ago. He's like a different kid." It was mail from Agon.

Where's my canary?

Dropping off your package like you told it to I sent back, annoyed. This "canary" business was bullshit.

It's been two hours. You're wasting time. was his response.

I rolled my eyes, thumbs pecking angrily at the keypad. I'm talking to your brother.

Don't talk to my brother, asshole!

"Is that Agon?" Unsui asked. I'd forgotten about him. He was sitting calmly on the other side of the desk, teacup in his hand, with the patience of a Buddha.

Was it sacrilegious that I was thinking of how he'd squirm if I put my tongue in his ear? "Yeah," I said. "He called me an asshole and told me not to talk to you."

Unsui sighed. "Every problem Agon has ever had has been self-manufactured. Tell him if he doesn't want us talking, he shouldn't make you deliver illegal goods here. Remind him he promised he wouldn't."

"I'd rather keep my job," I snapped, and took a gulp of tea. And neck firmly on my shoulders, my teeth in my jaw, my dick attached to my...

"So you and Agon... are you still...?" Unsui asked.

"Still what?" I demanded, bristling.

Unsui turned his attention to his cup, looking embarrassed. I took a drink to calm myself down. Unsui didn't know anything. He only knew we were screwing. Screwing didn't mean anything.

"I hope he's not too awful to you," Unsui said. I wondered if he was suicidal, thinking he could talk to me about shit like this. "He's better now than how he used to be, and he does talk about you with a sort of... irritated affection, but--"

My phone buzzed again with another message: I thought I told you not to talk to my brother. Now get your ass over here. Your wife wants to hear her canary sing.

Arguing was pointless. Arguing made me angry, and getting angry made me smash cell phones, and cell phones weren't cheap. Young people nowadays needed all this crap on them-- book reading and internet access and programs that balanced your bankbook and dozens of other bells and whistles-- and the whole thing was ruined for reasonable human beings who just wanted to call someone, and maybe send some fucking mail every so often.

Anyway, I was in the mood to get laid. I was a man, wasn't I? I was a man, and men liked sex. Who could blame me?

No one, that's who.

If only Agon had chosen something better than a damned songbird! Kah, that bastard pissed me off! And he had to have an identical twin brother, too, just to taunt me! Just so I couldn't think of anything else but him!

Unsui was saying, "If you ever want to talk, anything about Agon, you know where to find me..." as I stormed out. I couldn't stand him. He was as bad as his brother with all his posturing. Talk about Agon! Kah! What bullshit! Nobody wanted to talk about Agon, especially me! These Kongo bastards were born to piss me off. I never wanted to see either of them again in my life!

But I still wanted to screw them.

* * * * *

Agon lay stretched out beneath the window on his living room floor like a leopard in the sun, cigarette dangling forgotten from his fingers. A sheen of sweat gleamed across his skin. "Your wife loves you so much, trash," he murmured.

I took a drag and watched the smoke float to the ceiling. It felt good being naked, comfortable in just my skin, with my feet propped on the sofa. "That's the most revolting thing I ever heard."

He tilted his head toward me, and his lips curved into a smile. "She loves your cock. She's starting to wonder how it tastes."

I rolled my eyes. "Sure."

He yawned, remembered the cigarette, and brought it to his lips. "But not right now. You just had it stuck up my ass."

"Yeah, I remember," I informed him. "I was there."

"Aah, I feel too good to get angry with you," he said, rubbing an idle hand across his stomach. "That was amazing. Have you knocked your wife up yet?"

I didn't see how those two thoughts are connected. I did see a bottle of something alcoholic a few inches from my fingers, and I reached out for it. "I told you I wasn't going to. I don't want another kid."

Agon made a noncommittal noise and reached out toward me. His fingers grazed my ribs. "You going to fuck her tonight?"

"Don't talk about my wife like that. Anyway, she's back in Kobe." I scowled, spilling bourbon down my chin. Drinking lying down was hard. I handed him the bottle.

"Do you think of me when you fuck her?" he asked.

"You're disgusting," I told him. "And your cigarette is burning your floor."

"Why don't you tell her to stay in Kobe? Her sister lives there, right?" he asked, stubbing the cigarette out against the ground. The smell of burnt wood mingled with the smell of sex. "Buy her a place there to keep her out of the way. You could work it out as a tax write-off, for business purposes. It'd practically pay for itself."

Only a rich idiot like Agon could think someone like me could afford a second home, or that it would "pay for itself." Or that I'd ever toss my wife-- my real wife-- aside like yesterday's newspaper or a broken toaster oven. Maybe we hadn't been seeing eye to eye lately, and maybe her biological clock was ticking a little loud for my taste, but shit like that wouldn't make me stop loving her. Nothing would.

Agon thunked the bottom of the bottle against the ground. "You're not answering me."

"What's wrong with smoking in silence?" I demanded, wishing he'd drop it. "Maybe I feel like a little peace and quiet."

"Look, I don't care how you do it, but you need to shut her up," he told me. "Every other word that comes out of your mouth is Megu this or Megu that. I don't want her to keep interfering. Either get rid of her or give her what she wants. Got it?"

"Stop spouting nonsense," I snapped. Where the hell was this coming from? You're the one who brought her up! "You have no say when it comes to my family. You know that already."

"You let your kid transfer schools after I told you to, didn't you?" he asked.

He was giving me one of his egotistical shit-head looks, and the whole thing was starting to really annoy me. Did the bastard have to ruin every good mood I ever had? "I let him transfer because it was the right thing to do," I told him, "not because you told me to!"

"Your wife's bothering you, and that bothers me," he said. "You're too stupid to do your job properly when you're distracted, and mistakes--"

I smacked the ground with my palm. "Kah! I am not stupid!"

"--and mistakes are bound to happen," he finished, ignoring me as usual. "I won't tolerate you fucking things up, and I won't tolerate you drooling over some woman like a lovesick teenager."

"She is not some woman!" I insisted.

"I'm bored with this conversation," Agon told me, spinning the bottle with his fingertips, "and I don't want to have it with you again. Fix the problem, and fix it now."

I'll show you a problem with my foot up your-- "I do what I want with my wife, not what-- hey, you're spilling the booze."

Agon cursed and sat up, glaring at the pool of amber and me in turn. It was his last bottle of bourbon. I knew that because I'd bought it.

I pulled myself to my feet, thinking my pants were probably on the other side of the sofa. I was right. My shoes were by the door. Tie hung over the TV. Socks rolled into balls in the kitchen, where Agon had tossed them. Shirt--

Agon yanked my head back by the hair, neck jerking so hard, I gasped. I hadn't even seen him stand. His liquor-tinged breath hissed against my cheek. "You're mine, and you'll do what I tell you to do. If you don't, I'll make such a ruin of your career that every finger you have couldn't apologize for the bullshit I'm going to feed your boss. And I guarantee you he will believe every word."

I grimaced, prying his fingers away. Did he think he was frightening me? And why were my underwear in the sink? "That bullshit means nothing anymore," I told him. "I know you won't do it, and so do you. And for future reference, blackmailing someone is more threatening when you have clothes on."

Agon snarled. "Listen up, Rumiko--"

"Your dick's dangling between your legs," I told him, waggling my middle finger like the appendage in question. "You're not very scary-looking like that."

"Rui!" he snapped.

"It's also small," I concluded.

He stood there with his jaw clenched and hands balled into fists, and I had no idea why I wasn't getting punched in the face. Me being right hadn't ever mattered before. "Maybe I should find someone else to take care of it for me," he sneered, "if it's so beneath your standards."

I shrugged and stepped into my underwear, which was harder than it should've been. I liked bourbon, but my sense of balance didn't. "Go right ahead. See if they can suck it like I can! I'm the best, and you know it."

Agon grabbed the liquor and downed what he hadn't spilled. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, smearing a trail of shimmering wet across his cheek. If my life hadn't been total bullshit, I'd have licked it off. But of course my life was bullshit. Just look: I had a naked Kongo Agon in front of me with a face begging to be licked and hair begging to be pulled and an ass begging to be claimed, and there was nothing I could do about it. I hated the asshole who'd taken that opportunity away from me. I felt like punching him in the face.

"You want me to find someone else? Fine. I'll do that," said the asshole in question. "Don't come to the pachinko joint tomorrow. And forget about the cut you were going to be getting from the festival this weekend."

"I'm organizing the whole thing," I retorted. " You can't keep me from getting my share!"

"I'll say I did all the work. You were too inept to handle it yourself, and I didn't want to cause trouble or embarrass anyone, so I kept quiet. But it wouldn't be fair giving the money to you or your boys--"

I gaped. "My boys are expecting that money!"

"Not my problem, trash!" he spat, and chucked the bottle at me.

I was almost out the door, my pants unbuckled and shirt half-buttoned, when I heard him call from behind me, "I changed my mind. I want to see you bright and early tomorrow morning, on your knees, with your mouth wide open. I'm not sticking my ass in the air for trash again, so it might take a day or two to get your replacement lined up. As a matter of fact, you can call--"

I slammed the door shut, pulling my zipper up so hard it cut into my finger. My arm stung where the bottle had hit. When I rounded the corner, I ran into a middle-aged woman in a designer dress who looked so disgusted by the very sight of me that I started screaming obscenities at her. She turned on her heel and walked away, and I wished I could do the same.

* * * * *

Instead of going to Agon's the next morning, I smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes in the kitchen. I lit one off the end of the other so I didn't have to bother with a lighter. Agon had bought me a fancy one with Mount Fuji carved into the side of it, but I couldn't stand looking at the thing.

Megu walked in sometime around noon, travel bag over her shoulder and eyes on the ashtray. I didn't tell her welcome home.

"What kind of trouble are you in this time?" she demanded, dropping the bag by the door.

I frowned, feeling strangely guilty as I looked at the mound of cigarette butts and ash. "Not sure yet. Give me a few days to sort it out."

"Anything I can do?" she asked.

"Yeah," I told her. "Leave me alone."

She shrugged. "Let me know when the car seat gets here, and I'll sign for it."

"If a car seat gets delivered here, I'm setting it on fire," I informed her.

"Rui, you're being ridicu--"

"I am not a sperm bank!" I shouted, slamming my fist on the table. "I'm your husband, and I say we're done having kids! I don't have the money, and I don't have the time, and that's the end of the conversation! If you don't like it, go back to fucking Kobe and stay there!"

Megu was very still as she said to me, "If anyone else talked to your wife like that, you would beat them senseless."

I knew it was true, and I felt ashamed. I was a bigger man than this. At least, I used to be. What the hell was happening to me? I ground my cigarette into the ash try to hide how humiliated I was. "You have no idea the kind of shit Agon's putting me through," I muttered.

"Agon?" Megu said, blinking. "Kongo Agon?"

"You heard me," I scowled.

"The Kongo Agon? The American football, Shinryuuji, Saikyoudai University, genius--"

"If there are two Kongo Agons out there, I'm committing seppuku," I told her. "He's my fucking 'new assignment.'"

Megu's face was blank. "What the hell are you talking about?"

I hadn't wanted to explain before, and I didn't want to explain now. But I did. And maybe I would've saved myself a lot of trouble if I hadn't been too proud to ask for her help in the first place. She was my wife, and that's what she was there for. A wife was backup when you were under fire, a warm meal in your stomach when you were hungry, and a cool cloth on your forehead when you were sick. Having one meant you were never alone. I felt like the ignorant ass Agon was always saying I was, and I hated proving him right.

Megu said she thought all the money I was spending was going to my girlfriend.

I sighed. "Kah, I should've explained."

"If that's an apology, I'll accept it," she told me. She was sitting at the table with me now, Ryo's Doraemon clock happily ticking away the minutes over her shoulder. "If you and Agon having a falling-out means you're dropping this girl you've been seeing, I'll accept that too."

I rubbed my hands across my face, feeling suddenly exhausted. "I told you I wasn't--"

"You know, I asked all the boys what they knew about her, and not one of them spilled," she said. "Either you're a master at hiding it, or they've all got a death wish."

I could see now how she might've been thinking I was having an affair. She'd been talking crazy before, but something had shifted, and the whole thing with Agon had spiraled out of control. It wasn't like he was forcing me anymore, and it struck me at that moment that somewhere along the line, this thing we were doing-- whatever the fuck it was-- had started to mean something. What that was, I didn't have a clue. But Agon wasn't a woman, and I wasn't some kind of queer, so how could it be an affair? Confused, I finally just said, "The boys don't know."

"Keep it that way," she said. "I won't be an object of shame or pity. If people start talking, you will regret it, Habashira Rui."

I sighed and lit another cigarette. "I already do."

* * * * *

I didn't hear from Agon again until after the festival. The whole thing went off about like I'd expected, nothing but the occasional, minor fuck-up to mar its perfection. We were paid as promised, so either Agon hadn't managed to convince the boss, or he'd decided he didn't want to waste that much effort on me. Or he just wanted to piss me off by making me think he didn't want to waste the effort on me. Probably the last one.

But it didn't matter. If he wasn't going to bother with me, I wasn't bothering with him, either. I was drinking.

It must've been sometime around midnight when Agon texted me asking if his canary could chirp all alone. Isn't it lonely, the poor thing?

I downed my cup of sake, poured another, and dropped my phone. I picked it up texted back, Fjck you bastsrd. Im nota cnary

Doesn't you piece of crap phone have autocorrect?

Whove your aqutocorfect up yiur ass

I found your replacement. Want to hear about him?

Go fuck ylorswlf

He played pro football. Can you guess what team?

Pink team i bet hes apussy

How much have you had to drink, trash? You're pissing me off.

Instead of texting him back, I filled another glass, spilling on my hand in the process. I licked it off and downed the cup in one gulp. And then-- no idea how it happened-- the bottle tipped over. One second, it was sitting calmly beside my glass, and the next, it was dripping off the table and into my lap. The bottle must've been faulty. Quality control didn't do their job, and their bottles came out crooked. Nobody had pride in their work anymore except me, and look where that had gotten me. I slurped up some liquor from the edge of the table.

When I got back to the phone, I had six texts, all looking rather blurry. Not bothering to read them, I texted back, I hppe he give yo aids and tossed the phone aside. I felt a little tired, and moving felt like too much effort, so I rested my head for a minute on the table.

I woke up to a blaring headache and a warm body in my arms. Squinting my eyes against a too-bright morning sun, I found Megu curled up against my bare chest. Her head was nestled just below the head of my tiger tattoo. She was as naked as I was.

I pressed a hand to my forehead. My skull was going to explode. How the hell had I managed this? Did we have sex? I couldn't remember. I didn't even know how I'd gotten upstairs. Megu wasn't strong enough to carry me up. But if I walked up by myself, I...

...really had to puke.

Tipping Megu aside, I tumbled out of bed. With one hand over my eyes and the other holding the wall, I stumbled to the toilet just in time.

Kah, I hated puking!

What the hell was I doing? Agon's an asshole to me, so I drink myself into a stupor? This wasn't me. I was a man, not a coward. I was a man!

"Megu!" I called, wishing I hadn't because it made me want to puke again. Damn it, my head.

"If you're done, lie down, and I'll get you some water," she said.

I groaned and made my way to the sink. A Habashira Rui with sickly white skin and bloodshot eyes stared at me from the mirror. His hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat. He pissed me off. "I have to go to work. What time is it?"

"You're not going anywhere," Megu called. It sounded like she was in the kitchen. If she was fixing breakfast, I was going to puke on her.

I splashed water on my face and rinsed out my mouth. Everyone made mistakes. What made you a man was recognizing your mistakes and growing from them. And that was what I was going to do.

Megu stepped into the room, one of Ryo's sports drinks in her hand. "You smell like a brewery," she said, twisting off the top.

I muttered something back and took it, making my way out of the bathroom and locating my wrinkled suit on the floor. I put it on. It stank. It didn't matter. I was going.

* * * * *

Agon sat in his black leather throne, looking down on his subjects with bored eyes. My boys bowed their heads to him, and the girl at his side offered an ash tray. He held his drink like a scepter. "You're late. And you look like shit. Where did you sleep last night, a dumpster?"

"In my bed with my wife," I told him. "Where did you sleep last night?"

"Oh, so that's why you smell like a cheap whore," he said, fake-smiling.

"No," I countered. "That's why you smell like a cheap whore."

He took a drink, slowly rolling the liquor around in his mouth. "Everyone out. Habashira, you stay."

I lit a cigarette.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" he asked when the room had cleared.

I shrugged, taking a drag. "According to you... my face, my hair, my family, my fashion sense, my vocabulary--"

"Why would you say that in front of them?" he demanded.

"Say what?" I asked.

He finished his drink and set the cup down. "It's been days since I've heard from you, and you show up here looking like the trash you are--"

"A canary can't be a dragon," I pointed out.

"I didn't say a thing to your boss. Maybe you noticed you got paid," he said, "and you still have all your fingers."

"Yeah? What about it?" I asked.

Agon made a face. "I decided maybe... I've been a little demanding. I forget sometimes how peasants think. You're used to your wife, she's comfortable for you, and you don't want to lose that. I've decided I can accept it."

"That's big of you," I told him. "But it's completely beside the point."

He blinked at me. "Aah?"

"It's not about my wife. It was never about her," I told him. "It's about you thinking you can look down on me and treat me however you want."

"Whatever. I don't give a shit," he said.

"I do," I told him.

"Look," he said. "I'm accepting the blame here. Put whatever it is you're pissed off about behind you so we can move on. And don't puke on my floor. What the hell is wrong with you, drinking that much?"

It was entirely likely I would puke on his floor, but that was also beside the point. It was all beside the point. "You treat me-- you treat everyone-- like shit because you think you're the better man. You think everything is all about you. But it's not. It's not. Being a genius doesn't mean you can break all the rules and have no consequences. You're still a human being."

"Are you moralizing right now?" he asked. "Because that's pretty fucking rich coming from a hungover yakuza flunky."

The room was tilting, and the energy drink Megu had given me was threatening to come back up again. I swallowed hard. "Do you have a wastebasket?"

Agon made a disgusted noise. "Get out of my sight," he told me, "and never come back. I'm asking your boss for someone new. You're useless."

I bowed low and left the room.

He didn't call me back.


TBC!

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