N.B. This story uses Japanese naming conventions, honourifics and some Japanese terms. Please find a glossary/guide attached at the end of this chapter.
*Names are presented in the order of first name then surname.
One: White Dragon, Blue Lotus
Tengoku High School,
Suginami City, Tokyo.
It started with a punch. Pain seared through Mayuuki's face and the salty, metallic taste of blood filled his mouth. If it weren't for the pair of lackeys holding him up by the elbows, he probably would have keeled over from the sheer force of the blow.
Of course, if they hadn't been holding him in the first place, Mayuuki probably could have dodged it altogether, but that was beside the point.
"What the hell is this, Yuuyuu-chan?" demanded Akira, nudging the small collection of notes and coins that he'd turned out of the other boy's pockets with the toe of his school shoe. "I told you to bring ten thousand yen, didn't I? All you've got here is a measly eight hundred and twenty. You got an explanation, dog?"
Mayuuki swallowed as the delinquent king sneered down at him. "I-I'm sorry," he stammered, "but getting that kind of money in such a short amount of time is impossi—" He yelped as Akira hit him again.
"I don't want excuses, I want cash."
"L-look, I'll get it for you, Tatsunoda-san, I swear!"
Akira thought about it for a moment and then patted him on the head. "Well, I'm in a generous mood today, Yuuyuu-chan. I'll give you until four to deliver the money to me at the usual place in Shinjuku, how does that sound?"
The other boy spluttered. "Four? It's almost one o'clock! How am I supposed to get another nine thousand in three hours? Look, I've got work tonight, I'll—"
With timing that was clearly well rehearsed, the two guys holding Mayuuki's arms let go as their leader punched him squarely in the stomach. He flew backwards several feet and hit the washroom's tiled floor with a ringing thud. He curled up into a ball to protect himself and groaned.
"Dogs aren't supposed to talk," said Akira, spitting on the ground beside Mayuuki's head. With that, he let out a cackle and led his friends out of the room.
The bell signalling the end of lunch rang, but Mayuuki stayed on the ground. He looked pathetic, and he knew it. Worse was the knowledge that if he went to class in this state, questions would be asked, a fuss would be made, but nothing would actually change. Teachers… students… everyone knew who he was: Mayuuki Shirogami, Akira Tatsunoda's dog. They called Tatsunoda the King of the Devil's Nest, and Mayuuki was his personal wallet, slave and punching bag all rolled into one.
Before Mayuuki had come along, Tatsunoda had spent his time making life hell for students, teachers and locals alike, and no one had dared to oppose him. Rumour had it that he was heir to a yakuza syndicate. No one knew if it was true, but they all figured that it was better safe than sorry and so they usually ignored whatever he did.
Mayuuki scowled and wiped his face, the cut on his lip stinging as he accidentally brushed it with his sleeve. That was right. Akira was the perfect example of what the heir to a yakuza syndicate should be. He had the strength, the attitude—even the cold, refined looks and sharp eyes. Akira had everything that Mayuuki lacked.
He scowled at himself in one of the mirrors hanging about the sinks, and balled his hand into a fist. No, he was the heir to the Shiryugumi yakuza, and he'd be damned if he let that bastard push him around any longer!
But the bravado was fleeting. Mayuuki sighed as he left the restroom. Who was he kidding? There was no way he could take on Tatsunoda and his followers by himself. He was short, skinny, and had about the same amount of strength and spine as a squishy little jellyfish. Then there was his face: his soft features, big eyes, long eyelashes…
He glowered at the thought; if it weren't for that girly face of his then he wouldn't be even in this situation.
The whole point of running away from home and transferring to this ill-reputed school was to learn how to stand up for himself without using his family's power. It had taken him far too long to realise that the only reason people never picked on him in the past was because he'd had a pair of bodyguards secretly tailing him wherever he'd went. Insulting the heir to Shiryugumi by complimenting his beauty was sure to result in a beating.
However, as soon as he'd transferred to Tengoku, Mayuuki's pretty face had become all that his fellow students would talk about. The girls treated him like a doll and tried to dress him up in women's clothes. But the male population was even worse; they ran around calling him Yuu-chan and helped the girls out by holding him down while they yanked a dress over his head. He didn't even want to count the number of times he'd been confessed to—by male and female students alike. In fact, that was exactly how he'd ended up in this mess with Tatsunoda in the first place.
The few students lingering in the corridor jumped and stared as Mayuuki suddenly dropped to his hands and knees in despair. 'What kind of leader will I become with a face that makes guys confess to me?'
He looked up as a shadow fell across him and into a concerned face of a girl—a first year judging from the strips on her tie. "Um, Shiro-senpai… are you okay? We saw Tatsunoda-san and his gang go past this way a little while ago."
He smiled reflexively at her, wincing slightly as the cut on his lip stretched. "Oh, I'm fine. Don't worry."
"O-oh, really?" stammered the girl. "Um, but... your face…"
'Will look much worse if I don't get nine thousand yen by four o'clock today,' finished Mayuuki with a quiet, slightly teary groan as he sunk towards the floor once more. 'Please… someone save me…'
Ren Aoi sat stiffly in her seat, the hood of her jacket pulled up over her blue cap, clutching her backpack to her chest as she stared warily at the boy in the seat beside hers. He grinned at her widely at her and proceeded to stick the index finger of each hand into his nostrils. "I'm a walrus!" he crowed in delight.
She turned and smacked her forehead against the window with a loud, reverberating thud. Two hours. She'd have to spend two hours sitting on the bullet train beside this… brat.
Beside her the boy continued to yell: "Walrus, walrus, walrus!"
On any other day and Ren would have yanked his fingers out of his nose and given him a long, loud lecture. Fortunately for him, today was not any other day.
Digging her fingers into her backpack to prevent herself from doing anything untoward, Ren took a deep breath to calm herself. 'Now, Ren,' she told herself, 'remember the promise you made with the old ha—your mother. You will not beat up bullies, delinquents or idiots. You will act like a prim and proper young lady and learn to cook and clean. You will not yell while reprimanding snot-nosed br—children. You will turn, smile, and politely ask him to stop. Yes, that's it. Turn…'
She turned away from the window and looked at the boy, who continued to swirl his fingers inside his nose as if searching for something that had long been buried up there.
She forced her cheeks to twitch upwards.
'And politely ask him to—'
Just as Ren opened her mouth, he yanked his fingers out and wiped them on the sleeve of her leather jacket.
The boy looked up as his seat began to rumble. A shadow loomed over him as Ren pinched his cheeks and stretched them as far as they could go.
"Snot-nosed brat! Didn't your mother teach you any manners? Where do you think you're wiping your hands?"
Current balance: ¥4258.
Mayuuki stared blankly at the ATM receipt in his hand. He was screwed. How was he going to come up with another six thousand yen in two hours?
He barely had enough money to keep himself fed. He'd pleaded with the owner at his part-time job for advances on his pay and he'd begged his landlady for an extension on his rent just to keep himself off the streets. At this rate he was going to starve, get fired, be tossed out onto the streets, and be beaten to death by Tatsunoda and his gang—and not necessarily all in that order.
Feeling deflated, he wandered aimlessly down the street, eventually coming to a stop outside an electronics store with a nine-by-nine TV display in the window:
"Today marks the one-month anniversary of the Blue Wolf's disappearance.
"Called a 'modern day hero' by the mayor and civilians, despite the authorities disapproval for his unauthorised actions, the young vigilante is said to have been working in conjunction with Officer Shinichi Nakajima of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department on an undisclosed case.
"Officer Nakajima has stated that he doubts that the Blue Wolf will return to us alive, but the vigilante's supporters remain hopeful… "
"So he's dead, huh?" muttered Mayuuki.
He knew of the Blue Wolf. Hell, the man had been his hero back in middle school—still was. He'd never openly admit it, but on occasion he'd even fantasised about the Blue Wolf coming to his rescue, clad in his trademark blue cap and black leather jacket, both emblazoned with a silver wolf insignia, and paying back Tatsunoda and lackeys double what they'd dealt.
But it looked like that was a dream that would never become reality.
He jumped as his phone buzzed in his pocket and broke through his reverie.
A text message:
4:00pm. Don't forget. You know where to find me.
He didn't need to look at the sender address to know who that was from.
Mayuuki turned his phone off and closed his eyes, resting his forehead against the glass. 'Where the hell am I going to get that money?'
After returning home to change into his work uniform, and managing to scrounge up an extra thousand yen, Mayuuki found himself standing in the hall in front of apartment 202, three doors down from his own room. He was running late for work already, and—even worse—he was going to be late to meet Tatsunoda if he didn't leave soon. Hesitating, he rapped twice on the door.
He knocked again, but this time he didn't stop.
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" yelled the room's occupant. The door was yanked open and Mayuuki found himself looking up into the annoyed face of his next-door neighbour. "Oh, God, what do you want?"
The teenager looked the older man up and down. There was a dusting of dark stubble along his jawline, his shaggy, bleached-brown hair was unkempt, and he was dressed in a crumpled dress shirt and track pants. Mayuuki raised an eyebrow. He was used to seeing Takamura-san in a two-piece suit with his hair slicked back and a gold chain around his neck. "Did you just get up?" asked the boy. "It's like three in the afternoon."
"I work nights, moron. If I want to sleep until three in the afternoon, then I'll sleep until three in the afternoon. Now what do you want? Spit it out. I have other things to do than wait for a snot-nosed brat to stammer a request."
Mayuuki took a deep breath. This was it, his final resort.
Takamura jumped as the boy flung himself to his knees and bowed with his forehead against the floor.
"Please lend me ten thousand yen! I'll do your laundry, your cooking, whatever you want! So please le—"
Mayuuki frowned. That was over before it had even begun; he was even finished begging yet. Looking up, he demanded, "What? Why not?"
Takamura inspected his nails. "I've already got someone to do my laundry and cooking. She's arriving today actually."
The boy blinked. "Don't tell me you actually got a girlfriend."
"You really think I'd let a woman tame me?"
"So… it's a boyfriend?"
The door slammed shut in his face.
Mayuuki blinked at it for a moment and then stood up and knocked furiously on the wood until it swung open again.
Takamura scowled at him. "If I give you the money, will you go away?"
"Fine, fine…" Grumbling, Takamura reached into his pocket for his wallet and pulled out a wad of notes. "Here, take it and get out of my face—" He stopped short with a disgruntled noise as Mayuuki threw himself at him.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are a lifesaver! Literally."
Without a word, Takamura peeled the boy off, placed him outside by the scruff of the neck and slammed the door shut again.
Mayuuki pocketed the money and checked his watch. 15:39. He was going to have to run.
"Now arriving at Shinjuku."
"About bloody time," muttered Ren, casting a glare at the boy in the seat beside her. He quivered and turned pale, scrambling to his feet so that she could get out of her seat. "What have you learned today?" she growled as the PA dinged and the doors slid open.
"To use a hanky to blow my nose and not wipe my fingers on other people," he replied weakly.
She gave him a light bop on the head. "Good," she said with a smile, and with that, she collected her suitcase from the overhead rack and headed for the doors.
With her backpack on her shoulder and her suitcase in her hand, she closed her eyes and took a moment to psych herself up. "Ok, Ren," she murmured to herself, "here we go. Time to cast your old life and start anew. Three… two… one—"
"Jeez, hurry it up, kid!" said an impatient voice behind her. A hand shoved her violently in back and she stumbled through the doors and onto the platform.
She froze and gawked slightly at the swarming mass before her.
'People…' she thought dazedly.
She staggered as someone shoved her aside, and someone else's elbow jostled her forward.
'Lots of people...'
She swallowed, eyes widening as the sea of commuters began to close in.
'TOO MANY PEOPLE!'
Ren let out a panicked yell and clung to her bags as she was enveloped by the crowd and carried through the station like a jellyfish stuck in an ocean current. Sandwiched between a pair of heavy-set men in business suits, she was dragged up the escalators and out into the street. There, she was ejected non-too-politely from the queue with enough force to send her tumbling along the pavement to the edge of the curb.
Dusting off her jacket and adjusting her cap, she collected her bags, and then turned to cast a baleful eye at the building behind her. 'Today's lesson: Shinjuku station during the day is scary.'
Ren looked around, expecting to see a familiar face in the crowd. Word was that her brother-in-law was supposed to be picking her up from the station, but lo and behold, he wasn't anywhere to be seen. "Gee, thanks for remembering about me, Jin-niisan," she grumbled aloud, fishing her phone out of her jacket pocket and dialling the number her mother had given her.
"The number you have dialled is currently unavailable."
She scowled at the screen. He was probably sleeping off a hangover from the night before, knowing him. She sighed. Well, at least she had his address. Adjusting her cap, she picked up her suitcase, picked a direction and walked off.
Mayuuki gasped, bracing his hands on his knees as he came to a skidding halt in front of Akira Tatsunoda in the short, dead end alleyway branching off from the street of shady clubs that they referred to as the Strip. The gang leader sat on an upturned milk crate, a lit cigarette in his mouth and the butts of at least half a dozen more flattened on the ground beside him.
Mayuuki glanced at his wristwatch. 15:58, it read.
"No, I'm not," he said, without thinking, and then instantly wished that he could cram the words back into his mouth.
Akira chuckled as he got to his feet. "Is that so?" he asked, and lifted his fist.
Ren was lost. She paused at the intersection and stared vacantly at the unlit neon signs and unfamiliar street names. There were restaurants, bars, pachinko parlours, love hotels… Her eye twitched; this place had to be Kabukicho, Shinjuku's famed red light district. How did she manage to wind up here?
Thankfully it was still daytime and the district had yet to light up, but despite the hour she could spot several shady-looking characters and layabouts wandering down the streets.
Her skin crawled with the feeling that she was being watched and she looked up to find a trio of high school boys leering at her from the corner of a side-alley in front of her.
She scowled as one pulled a packet of cigarettes from the back pocket of his pants and shared them around. 'Bloody delinquents…' She was already in a bad mood—that ass, Jin, still wasn't picking up his phone, and seeing these guys just made her want to vent her frustration with her fists.
She pressed her lips together and settled for glaring at them as she walked passed, grumbling silently to herself in her head: 'Dammit I want to hit them… I really want to hit them… aaaarrrgh, I want to punch these guys right in their ugly—'
"Huh?" Ren blinked and stopped in her tracks. That was the sound of someone being punched. But both her hands were occupied: one carrying her suitcase, and the other balled into a fist inside her jacket pocket. She'd promised not to fight after all.
Another thud echoed down the street, followed by a yelp of pain.
Ren scowled and looked around. Someone was definitely getting beaten. She glanced at the trio of delinquents sidelong. What were they doing standing there anyway?
Unable to quell her curiosity, she backpedalled and peered around them. Squinting, Ren could just make out a whimpering figure crouched on the ground, surrounded by at least a dozen or so boys in the same uniform as the three jokers in front of her. She went to move towards the scene, but a hand seized the back of her jacket and jerked her back before she could get in a single step.
She found herself nose-to-nose with the biggest of the three watchmen. "The hell do you want, kid?" he sneered. "You looking for a fight?"
The girl chuckled, a gleam in her eye. "Funny," she said, smiling as she dropped her bags. "I was just about to ask you the same thing."
A/N: Thank you for reading the first chapter of Wolf and Cub! That, or you skipped down here to read the honourifics guide, in which case, thanks for at least taking the interest to click on the story.
As always reviews are appreciated, especially if they're to correct any typos! General comments are brilliant too ;)
~Naming Conventions and Honorifics Explained~
As written in Tanoshima manga books with a few additions.
(Not all these words will be used in the story.)
family name vs. given name: The way in which a name is used in conversation depends on the circumstances and the speaker's relationships with the listener and the bearer of the name. Typically the family name is used, with given names largely restricted to informal situations and cases where the speaker is older than, superior to, or very familiar with the named individual.
-san: This is the most common honorific, and is equivalent to Mr., Miss, Ms., Mrs., etc. Used with people you are not very close with, and when being polite.
-sama: This is one level higher than "-san". It is used to confer great respect.
-dono: This comes from the word "tono", which means "lord". It is an even higher level than "-sama" and confers utmost respect.
-kun: This suffix is used at the end of boys' names to express familiarity or endearment. It is also sometimes used by men among friends, or when addressing someone younger or of a lower station.
-chan: This is used to express endearment, mostly towards girls. It is also used for little boys, pets, and even among lovers. It gives a sense of childish cuteness.
-[blank]: Usually forgotten in these lists but perhaps the most significant difference between Japanese and English. The lack of honorific means that the speaker has permission to address the person in a very intimate way. Usually only family, spouses, or very close friends have this kind of permission. Known as yobisute, it can be gratifying when someone who has earned this intimacy starts to call someone's name without an honorific, but when that intimacy hasn't been earned, it can also be very insulting.
The following can be used on their own or as honourific suffixes:
sempai/senpai: This suggests that the addressee is one's senior in a group of organisation. In this story it is used by younger students to address their upperclassmen.
kouhai: The opposite of "senpai", used to address underclassmen in school, or newcomers in the workplace.
sensei: Used for teachers, doctors, or masters of any profession or art.
oniisan: Also shortened to -nii, with "san" also replaceable by sama, or chan dependant on the relationship between the speaker and the addressee. This honorific is used when speaking to an older brother, an older brother figure, or by children addressing a young man who is older than them.
oneesan: Also shortened to -nee, with "san" also replaceable by sama, or chan dependant on the relationship between the speaker and the addressee. This honorific is used when speaking to an older sister, an older sister figure, or by children addressing a young woman who is older than them.
okaa-san, otou-san: The Japanese word for "mother" and "father". The 'o' may be dropped if being informal, with "san" also replaceable by sama, or chan dependant on the relationship between the speaker and the addressee.
oba-san: The japanese equivalent of "Aunt/Auntie". This honorific is used when speaking to a biological auntie, an aunt-like figure, or to middle-aged women in general, with "san" also replaceable by sama, or chan dependant on the relationship between the speaker and the addressee. The masculine variation for is ojisan, "Uncle".
yakuza: Japanese mafia
gumi, kai: group, club or association (for the purposes of this story, indicative of yakuza families/groups)