je_levy: (fluffy nekoki)
[personal profile] je_levy



Title Animal Crackers Part III
Pairing/Group: Nakamaru/Koki/Junno, Nakamaru/Maria/Jun, KAT-TUN, Arashi
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: AU, BDSM, pet-play, politics, tickling, a threesome, toys, recreational drugs
Notes:
Summary: What would you do if everything that you knew had been wrong all along? Nakamaru Yuichi, newly recruited member of Sakurai Sho’s political campaign party, the Storm Reform Party, is about to find out just that with the first step he takes into the Haven.


Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V









Out of the many slogans plastered to the Storm Reform Party’s posters written in copperplate Gothic letters under Sho-san’s affably smiling picture, the two that Nakamaru had actually come to like the most were, ‘Rain and wind are a natural reformation,’ and ‘Each for all and all for each.’

All political slogans were inevitably cheesy, but in them and the face of the man who believed them most, he felt something. Nakamaru saw these words for what they were now that he was working closer to Sho-san. Heroism, methods in pursuit toward something bigger than the whole City combined, and order that sought for a greater good.

Nakamaru began to go into work those days, more armed with purpose. Sho-san had inducted him into something, something Nino used to have. Now his job felt like an open tunnel, leading him towards something of meaning, something his very motivations about reforming society wanted to bond with.

His personal life was certainly strange at the moment with Junno and Koki acclimatising to being with him, but the balance that came at work added to it, and had since put him at ease. He may have been undecided on whether this was the life he wanted to live, but he wasn’t clawing away on the inside of himself anymore.

Sho-san wasn’t about to let him fall short either. He’d quickly roped Nakamaru in like he meant to take him for a friend, a very close friend, passing him a coffee cup each morning and prattling happily as he gave Nakamaru his morning debriefing.

“It’s not about power, Nakamaru-kun. It’s about control; self-control and an eye for detail. Once you have both, it doesn’t matter what matter of obligations and responsibility is thrust upon you, a man in control can handle anything, you understand?”

“Yes, I think I do,” Nakamaru had replied.

“Hm.” Sho-san had said, surveying him carefully. “Yes, I can see it in you. I think we’re going to get along just fine.”

Sometimes they’d stand in front of Sho-san’s wide office window and Nakamaru saw Sho-san’s view of the City. The buildings stretching far to the river and on towards the Haven with its short box like structures. Sho-san kept the lay of the land right in his office. Sort of king-like.

He was also sharp, Nakamaru noticed.

“The trick, you see, is to just read the news. Devour it, Nakamaru-kun. Read it methodically until every pattern of our society is as intricate, but familiar as the palm of your hand,” he’d say, looking off out his window.

Sho-san’s round eyes shone and he looked over at Nakamaru with a knowing smile. Nakamaru had looked down at his own palm. He saw the lines of it and thought of control and the feeling he got when he was with Junno and Koki. Their collective sweetness and dedication, obedience to him because he’d earned it.

Perhaps Sho-san understood that more than anyone.

Self-indulgent, strange little thoughts like that made him smile back before ducking his head back to his notes. Then the work flowed quickly and as the tension in the department mounted toward the elections, Nakamaru spent less time sitting at his desk and more time standing in Sho-san’s office.

And then as the days dragged into weeks and months, Nakamaru began to find a rhythm. Sho-san had since begun to occasionally refer to Nakamaru as his ‘campaign manager,’ much to Nino’s chagrin, and he’d dictate jargon-filled letters to him nearing to the end of the work day.

The rhythm wasn’t just work, however, and Nakamaru, quite liking the deviance that came with working for their future leader simultaneously, fell into the routine of coming home and having those two there to greet him. Koki liked to wait at the door. Nakamaru could always see the very top of his head, all mop of curls, peeking out the windows when he reached the steps. Koki would pounce the moment he had the door open, showering him in these gasping little kisses as though he had little to no concept of time. It made Nakamaru feel missed seeing those big round eyes always ecstatic once he crossed the threshold.

Junno was a sight more calm. Nakamaru couldn’t imagine what he spent all day doing but he always stepped into his living room after work, tailed loyally by Koki, and Junno would be there. He’d sprawl across Nakamaru’s sofas and chairs in the oddest positions, watching the television upside down or pawing through the magazines with the most colourful pictures. He’d look up and give Nakamaru the most complacent of smiles as his gaze followed across the apartment languidly.

Sometimes he’d bring home treats; little things rarely if never found in the Haven. Junno liked the animal-shaped cakes and would spend over twenty minutes cooing over it before he’d even take a bite. Koki, on the other hand, didn’t want sweets. He made the type of sounds that had Nakamaru feeling the most uncomfortable when on the occasions they'd have beef for dinner.

Other days, Nakamaru would return late, and the apartment would be empty. He'd find notes on the fridge and dinner in the microwave, though. Nakamaru would feel a keen emptiness of the way his life had only been filled with data before meeting them. He'd putter around before turning in early only to be awoken by giggles. Then he'd be crushed in a clingy tangle of limbs, sloppy kisses, and wandering hands as they came down from whatever they’d taken while they were out.

He had no way of really telling them, but he came to like the evenings when he brought his work home with him and got to observe how they were together. They also provided a welcome distraction whenever the lines of information began to run together. At first the random outbursts had been a bit alarming, bits of phrases such as “Koki! Put down the fire poker!” and quite a lot of “Yucchi!”

After a few of these incidents, Nakamaru had gotten used to their occasional bouts of horseplay. He’d hear a bit of a scuffle and look up over the top of his glasses to make sure nothing had been damaged before silently watching the way Junno would spring onto Koki and prompt a bit of a scrap; Koki would retaliate, usually by sitting on Junno’s back in an attempt to strangle him. The two of them preferred to call it wrestling, though, and Nakamaru would shake his head in amusement before returning to his work.

Odder still were the moments when he’d look up, surprised at the lengthy silences and spot them sitting on the sofa a little bit apart committed to separate activities-- Koki incomprehensibly stitching something, brow furrowed and Junno making the tiniest of frustrated noises at the screen of Nakamaru’s game console. This would go on for ages save for tense pauses where Koki would shoot a very brief huffy gaze when Junno’s game enthusiasm broke his concentration. Nakamaru found this strange normality, complex though it was, to be the most relaxing.

It was after months of numerous such evenings with the two of them; the rain drummed quietly against the mirror plate glass of the window overlooking the lights of the City. Nakamaru stood to the side of the bed that Junno and Koki shared, simply watching as they slept, peacefully entangled.

Yes, Nakamaru thought to himself, I do want to stay in the Haven.


---


Nakamaru stood awkwardly, waiting for Anne to hand him over the key to the room that Koki and he were about to play in. Junno was out and about in the city and Koki was bored, and Nakamaru knew that if he left him alone, he would tear things apart just out of sheer curiosity and restlessness.

Sometimes having the two of them around was like having two pets that fed off of each other, and it could be downright tiring.

“What’s the secret word?” Anne drawled, dangling the keys in front of Nakamaru’s face and then holding them aloft. Anne towered above Nakamaru in her freakish platforms, and he stared at her in frustration. He could hear Koki whining and shifting in his seat.

“Eggplant,” Nakamaru said sarcastically, and Anne chortled, tossing Nakamaru the keys. “You know, I think I’m starting to cross the threshold from utter ambivalence to liking you. Maybe,” Anne said, smirking at him.

He rolled his eyes but cracked a smile. He knew that would be the closest he would get to a compliment from Anne.

He’d take what he could get. Faux-scoffing, he went over to Koki and began to take inventory of what they would need for Koki. They heard an unfamiliar voice and they looked up after Anne let out a giggle.

A. Giggle.

Nakamaru nearly perished of surprise on the spot. A man stood in front of her, muscular in build, with spiky black hair and golden skin, casually dressed in a hoodie and slim-cut jeans. Anne looked at the man in front of her and leaned over, resting her hand on his shoulder gracefully.

She. Was. Flirting.

“Ueda-san, is it?” she said, her voice melodious. Both Koki and Nakamaru sat with their jaws on the floor until she noticed them watching her have a conversation.

“Get in the room before I decide to give it to someone else. NOW,” she ordered, her nostrils flaring and her eyes filled with fire. Ueda chuckled and gave them an apologetic small wave.

Koki and Nakamaru ran as fast as their legs could carry them.

---


It was six months into working for Sho-san within close quarters before he started to notice something odd.

Nakamaru usually spent all his work days simply collecting statistics on the various sectors of the City, doling out the info in meetings and even fact-checking for Sho-san’s speeches. However, he’d begun to notice how very little he was as openly exposed to the methods and details of the Storm Reform Party’s manifesto despite being a clear and operating member.

Then Nakamaru did something he probably never would’ve bothered with if Sho-san hadn’t made it clear that it was a part of being in control. He would have been lying to himself if he didn’t privately admit that the things Sho told him didn’t matter to him.

Nakamaru started to pay attention to the news.

The Mercantile district had a range of companies primarily owned by the older families and quite a few started up by new deployments from the Job Assignment Contingent. Now one of the key issues brought up as a public concern had become job creation. Their original system founded and governed by the incumbent, Kimura Takuya, had been put into place to ensure that every young graduated student would have a career guaranteed.

The issue that had come into play as election drew nearer was the fact that these guaranteed careers were in short supply. According to the statistics Nakamaru examined almost daily, over five hundred graduates a year were being put on a waiting list so long that any criticism falling on the governing body could have indelicately labelled their current economic situation as “mass unemployment.”

So it was only natural that the people were calling for reform and if the poll numbers were any indicator, then it had become apparent that the Storm Reform Party was due for office.

It could have been coincidence the first time. If it were only the first time that it had happened, Nakamaru could have made his excuses easily. Still, Nakamaru had thought he’d been checking statistics on companies, fiscal returns and names to locate job availability so at least Sho-san had some backing for his agenda on job creation. Nakamaru had found a company, a simple and nondescript manufacturing company that sold ceramics on his list. There were two categories, privately-owned and government-owned, and this company was privately-owned; Nakamaru’s job had been to circle it in red in that case.

Then he saw it. On the news, the reporter explaining in neutral and polite tones that the company-owner had been arrested and that the company’s assets and the contracts of employment would be put to a department’s consideration. The department wasn’t indicated but given that Sho-san’s was Social Development, Nakamaru had a couple guesses.

Suddenly a great number of jobs opened up and as the campaign raged on, Sho-san’s department was being publicly lauded for its discernment, assigning all the poor unemployed youth to over a hundred or so positions within the space of six months.

It made Nakamaru uneasy, but what made it all the more disturbing was that it made sense. He couldn’t quite place whether Sho-san was systematically cleaning out a number of people, their assets and private-owned achievements for the greater good, but if he was, Nakamaru couldn’t say a word against it.

It could’ve been a coincidence, really. The only issue was that it kept happening. Nakamaru began to see the red marks he flicked across pages any time he crossed the words ‘private owned’ and he’d begin to see them like little death sentences. No one was dying, of course; it just felt... wrong.

Sho was good at smiling as he looked into the camera, seated behind his desk. He’d spread his arms and look both humble and resolute as he spoke the words, ‘Each for all and all for each,’ and Nakamaru would try to swallow the bitter clarity that he understood those words all the more.

After all, Sho-san had the City’s greater needs in mind. Palm of his hand. Control.

Then the oddest thing happened one evening.

It was one of those evenings he’d come home early on a Friday and as he sat down in front of the television to catch up with the latest news stories, Koki had come along and somehow managed to wedge himself under Nakamaru’s arm. Junno, who had been out for the better part of the day, had come home, spotted them and ambled over a little sleepily to sit on the floor by Nakamaru’s leg. They were pretty quiet that night except for a brief moment where Junno had grabbed for the remote and Koki wrested it from him without preamble to which where Nakamaru had had to hold it away from them both.

So, quiet and pouting, they were all watching the screen when the Storm Reform Party’s campaign ad began just as the advertisement break began. Nakamaru knew it all by heart so he hadn’t been paying attention until Koki made a vehement sound.

Startled, Nakamaru had glanced down to see him glaring fiercely at Sho-san now on-screen and speaking calmly and seriously. “What was that?” he prompted, moving his arm a bit to get Koki to look at him.

Koki twisted around, eyes lingering as Nakamaru felt Junno look up curiously.

“I… hate this ad,” Koki replied softly, looking a little frozen and uneasy.

Nakamaru looked back at the television, the ad having reached the portion where Sho-san sat behind his desk, declaring the Storm Reform Party’s slogans. Cleaning out the inconsistencies, re-prioritisation, and of course job creation.

The fact that Junno and Koki knew very little about his position and the nature of his career sat quite apparent between them as Nakamaru selected his words carefully. “What about it?” he asked quietly.

Koki’s gaze flickered to Junno’s again and Nakamaru blinked down at Junno curiously as well, trying to read whatever silent conversation they were having. Junno’s eyes were the same wide and wondering, smile placid as ever. Odd.

“I just don’t like him is all,” Koki finally concluded, curling in his knees and dropping his head against Nakamaru’s chest.

At the time, Nakamaru had reasoned that he was just being guarded and strange because of the very serious nature of what he’d discovered about his little tasks. It seemed normal that there was a select number of people who didn’t find Sho-san as the more favourable candidate. Only natural during an election year. Perfectly natural.

And when he was at work, it became difficult to consider questioning any methods. Statistics said the crime rate was down and that employment was kicking up steadily and in his ads Sho-san kept promising the people, that with the proper resources he’d have while in office, he’d do even more toward this end. It all just seemed so positive.

Nakmaru’s only concern was the arrests.

It happened that during a morning debriefing, Sho-san had a listing on tax reforms and he handed it to Nakamaru casually, part way through a phone call. Nakamaru read down the list and saw an upswing on income tax too sweeping to be practical.

“Sho-san...” he began.

Sho-san shot him a distracted smile, raising a finger as he made various sounds of agreement into the receiver. After a pause, he tucked the receiver against his shoulder and cheek and nodded at him.

Nakamaru held out the spreadsheet. “These numbers. No taxpayer is going to accept this.”

Sho-san gave him a rather commiserating smile, sympathetically nodding. “They will, Nakamaru-kun. Once they realise that it’s funding our penitentiaries, correctional facilities; once it is apparent to them that the streets are clear of crime, that there will be no fear of walking the alleyways at night, that we’re just that close to being the safest place anywhere.”

He declared this with so much conviction, Nakamaru was awed for a moment. He had been right. Methods be damned; the man was really going to save their City.

“The company workers,” Nakamaru persisted a bit gingerly. “The ones being arrested... what did they...?”

Sho-san’s grin was as cheery and soft as usual; his eyes shone with purpose. “Immoral people, people who would hurt our society without shame; the positions they hold are better held by our youth, by the innocent and clean.” He sighed, looking almost regretful at the idea that there were immoral people to deal with. “The people of this City will be more than happy to learn they can trust not just their government but the corporate world. Don’t you agree?” he said calmly.

Nakamaru nodded, looking down at the page, feeling somehow better.

“And they’ll be all the more thrilled about our more corporal adjustments to our penal system,” Sho-san added, grinning as he returned to his phone call. “Lethal injections are expensive, I’ve heard.”

Nakamaru looked up again and felt that twinge come back. Spike of unease even as Sho-san looked off a little dreamily, muttering into the receiver about ‘free public transit’.


----


Still, Nakamaru always found his mounting unease from work would dissipate when he knew what he was going home to.

He had come to enjoy having multiple someone’s waiting for him at home; not only for the obvious benefits, like sharing chores and having someone to pass the time with. He'd grown accustomed to Koki's enthusiasm for oral sex, and he would be lying to himself if he said he didn't enjoy Koki's unadulterated need to be pushed to the very edge of his limits. At first Nakamaru hadn't known what to make of it. It hadn't taken him long to come around to Koki's reasoning, though; it had become something of a game for Nakamaru to see how much teasing Koki could take before completely falling apart.

After those sessions, Koki would nuzzle up against Nakamaru's side, content to lie quietly as he came back to his senses.

Some evenings Nakamaru would return home, with no sign of Junno in his flat. Koki would have no idea where the other would be, since he spent much of his time curled up asleep. Junno would slip back in, usually in an awful state, mean and prone to push limits far beyond their breaking points.

Nakamaru didn't mind the fact that Junno went out and did whatever it was he got up to; what he did mind was the cruel way he poked and prodded Koki and how he'd suddenly forget things that Nakamaru would expect of him. His only recourse would be punishment, though Nakamaru shortly worked out was that Junno was fishing for punishment. Nakamaru had hated it a bit at first; after the first few instances and watching the way Junno would lie still and sated as Koki tended to him made him reconsider things.


---


Nakamaru knew he wasn’t in for a normal night when he couldn’t hear anything coming from behind the door. Usually Koki would be giggling or Junno would hide and try to scare him, at least he would hear Koki in the kitchen, pots and pans clanking as he tried to create a new culinary masterpiece. Their hijinks were the welcome he received when he got home, a reinvigorating shot compared to the austere behavior of the group at work.

Which was why he was shocked and a bit scared when he opened the door and he heard nothing. A pin could have dropped and he would have heard it. And compared to the usual chaos, he knew that meant that something was amiss.

Tip-toeing quietly into the house after toeing off his shoes, Nakamaru found the strangest sight he had seen in a long time, and after being in the Haven, that was saying something.

Junno and Koki both had surrounded what looked like a fish tank, Junno staring at a red fish and Koki staring intently at a blue fish, silently chanting under their breath like a mantra. Nakamaru sat down next to them but they paid him no mind, focused solely on the fish.

A delicious aroma came out of the kitchen, so Nakamaru let the duo continue their activity to go peruse the spread. In addition to the kitchen being sparkling clean, every inch of counter space was claimed by lasagnas and casseroles, brownies and cookies. It appeared that Koki had gone on a cooking frenzy yet hadn’t touched any of it. Grabbing a brownie, Nakamaru thoughtfully took a bite.

There was only one thing that could explain this craziness, and Nakamaru sat down and tapped Junno on the shoulder.

“I’m winning Yuichi, I’m winning, Telephone just made his fifteenth lap of the pool,” Junno clapped his hands in excitement. Koki moaned about what Nakamaru assumed was his fish named “Peanut Butter” and hid his head in his hands.

“Junno, did you and Koki have any special...treats when I was away today?” Nakamaru said cautiously, not wanting to set Junno off.

“Uh-oh, did you want some?” Koki asked with a forlorn tone in his voice.

“No, I didn’t, I just want to make sure that I knew what you took so I can keep you safe,” Nakamaru sighed and stared at Junno.

“Uh, the red one and the blue one and the one that tastes like peppermints and then Koki added the one that had stripes, like a zebra,” Junno said, staring at his fingers and Koki began to stare at them in tandem as Junno wiggled them quickly.

“What does a zebra taste like?” Koki whispered, and Nakamaru shrugged.

Nakamaru tried to watch television, but it was hard to do with the two of them alternating between trying to get his attention, curl up on his lap, pet his hair and convince him to play Fish Races. Crumbling, Nakamaru finally agreed to go build a blanket fort with them in the main bedroom...

Five hours later, Nakamaru was exhausted and Koki and Junno were snoring heavily, tangled up and nearly swaddled in an array of bedding. Nakamaru laughed softly and crawled onto the bed with them, drifting off to sleep peacefully.


---


All factors considered, Nakamaru was happy.

In that really silly sense of the word. He’d never actually pictured himself getting to a place where he’d be this happy, but there it was. He couldn’t define it with a word but he’d adjusted ideally to the patterns of this lifestyle.

Waking up in the morning in the wide bed in a pile of warm limbs and softly breathing bodies was fantastic, twisting and stretching out the type of soreness that made him think of adrenaline and the hot, salty taste of Junno and Koki’s skin. Each night in the Haven had been like opening himself on a new canvas with two of the most willing participants he was aware he was most fortunate to have.

It was on one of those days, however, when he’d woken up feeling perfect, stretching so that Koki rolled away from him and grabbed Junno’s head as a makeshift pillow, snoring quietly as Junno curved all around becoming a strange form of flexible flesh.

Nakamaru had had to get out bed quickly before he felt the need to reach out and start touching. Those two were always good to go and calling in sick would just start a downward spiral. He rolled out of the mess of pillows, blankets and limbs, showered, and dressed.

He found breakfast on the granite counter of the kitchen along with a packed lunch with the neatly written words, “Yucchi ♥. Work hard today, k?” It made Nakamaru need to rub his palm over his head in a bit of an overcome distress as he staggered from the house with every bit of his willpower.

It happened that it was on that very morning he’d gone into work, greeted by a wave from Sho-san in his office and Nino’s usual eye-twitch signifying his deep resistance to the actual eye-roll he wanted to give Nakamaru as he passed.

Perhaps if he hadn’t been in such a good mood, it wouldn’t have struck him quite as hard, but it came upon him quite abruptly. He would later be willing to admit that complacence had overtaken his views on Sho-san’s methods. The arrests were kicking up and Sho had mapped out an effective route to some type of poverty plan. It was going to be a spectacular win of an election.

Then he saw it. The pattern. It had not been enough of a straight line in his head, the strange cohesion of data on companies closing and needing to be sold as government property but the specific people targeted on the news was beginning to coincide with something else significant.

There was a portion of the list that Nakamaru never really bothered to look at. He had just been circling a private-owned company and typing out the names of top CEOs down to sales and accountants when a word caught his eye. It was in the address block. Haven. The name listed had relocated to the Haven not long ago and it gave Nakamaru a thought.

Reopening an old file from last month’s company list, he re-examined the company employees who had recently been arrested for corruption and fraud, as the news had explained and there was the pattern. Every single one of these people, inhabitants of the Haven, had been arrested and were awaiting some extended trial.

Something clicked in place and Nakamaru spent a swallowing moment staring at his screen. It was more within the what-if side of his thought spectrum but it seemed to make a whole lot of sense.

Government-owned companies would receive their employees through the Job Assignment Contingent. If a company was private, particularly the ones owned by old families, then they could hire whomever they liked. Sometimes graduates who’d passed their Exams and were looking into Entrepreneurial ventures would start something outside government jurisdiction. They didn’t make as much as the government, brand-name companies but they did well enough they could hire the more destitute and needy in the Haven.

If Sho-san had been closing these companies, and having the owners arrested only to replace them with government-affiliated graduates, it meant the original owners were probably associated with the Haven.

Sho-san was putting a large number of these people out of work.

Nakamaru couldn’t be absolutely sure but he felt convinced that the Haven was private-owned for a reason and if the private-owned companies in the Mercantile district were completely cleaned out and he was moving in on the Haven, then that meant trouble for the Central Underground.

He considered for a brief moment the idea of Aiba-san, from Fundraising, delivering the information, listing the names of frequenters of the Haven rooms and the moment Nakamaru’s name came up...

Nakamaru glanced over at the end of the department where Sho-san was in deep and quiet conversation with his CPA Ohno-san, or as Nino called him, ‘Captain’. Nakamaru considered printing out his findings and asking Sho-san right away.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” Nakamaru muttered to himself, breathing slowly and watching Sho-san break into his usually easy laughter as he patted Ohno-san on the shoulder warmly.

Oddly enough, Sho-san felt his gaze and looked up. Nakamaru received a remarkably charming smile in response to his vacant stare and Nakamaru forced one that ended rather weakly. Sho-san looked a bit indulgently at him for a moment before returning to his conversation.


---


Nakamaru sat at his desk, ignoring what seemed like the latest of what seemed like a sea of memos making their way over his desk as his mind raced to piece together to reconstruct what he had just found it. Nakamaru felt like he should have seen this coming from a mile away.

Luckily, he was fairly sure neither Sho nor Nino had any clue that Nakamaru felt like he was close to discovering the actual agenda that laid beneath the surface of his glittering promises of “city clean-up” and “job creation”. Although it was coated in the gilded rhetoric of a practiced politician, Nakamaru now could strip away the hollow words that surrounded the truth and see what had been there all along.

Nakamaru was lying in wait for the perfect moment, the moment where Sho was alone, to make sure that he was one hundred percent sure before he went any further with any plans he had. Maybe he had misjudged Sho, or maybe he had misunderstood the campaign literature.

The truth was, Nakamaru hoped that somehow he had made a mistake because a part of him still idolized Sho, even with the less than savory statistical practices Nakamaru had uncovered. Sho was a man who was steadfast in what he believed, and had created himself out of nothing. There was a lot there to be admired by someone like Nakamaru who wanted nothing more than to become a self-made man, someone that people looked up to and admired.

So Nakamaru finally had his chance when Nino was out of the office gathering data and running polls and the rest of the office was busy manning the phones. Walking purposefully into Sho’s office, Nakamaru closed the door behind him.

Sho looked up and smiled dotingly at Nakamaru. “Ah, if it isn’t one of my hardest workers,” he said, smiling and motioning for Nakamaru to sit. He didn’t look the least bit perturbed that his paperwork had been interrupted; instead he appeared pleased to have Nakamaru there.

“Yes Sir, there is something I need to talk to you about,” Nakamaru said, clearing his throat and trying not to flush or stutter. Sho looked a bit surprised but nodded, steepling his fingers in front of his face and listening intently.

“I’ve been reviewing the facts and figures you’ve asked me to and have been tracking the patterns like you wanted, and I... I am just wondering,” Nakamaru paused to finish, wondering how to phrase this without arousing too much interest in his “extracurricular” activities and the reason why he was so defensive of the Haven to surface.

“Yes, and what an amazing job you are doing of that, Nakamaru. Your attention to detail is unsurpassed, and I’m so glad that I snatched you up for my team before anyone could get to you,” Sho said, nodding and pointing at Nakamaru. Nakamaru shifted in his seat, suddenly uncomfortable, but decided to push forward because it was either say what he wanted now or never.

“I found that there was a focus on an area called the Haven-- is there a particular reason for this?” Nakamaru said carefully, phrased as if it were just the mere curiosity of a statistician instead of someone invested in said area.

There was a pause and Nakamaru was afraid that Sho could see right through him, somehow see all of his exploits behind his eyes. But Sho shook his head and sighed lightly, his tone a bit condescending.

“Yes, Nakamaru, that den of sin and hedonism is indeed one of my focuses, because it’s the nervous centre that drives the evil machine of moral corruption, of course,” Sho said, his lips thinning and his eyes narrowing. When Nakamaru remained silent, Sho took that as his cue to continue, a fire seemingly started under him at the mention of the Haven.

“They stand for nothing remotely good, they are all self-serving and lawless, utterly worthless leeches on society and deserve to be ousted out onto the streets or locked up if they are lucky,” Sho continued, a bitter edge of conviction to his voice that Nakamaru found frightening. Nakamaru couldn’t find it in himself to do anything but nod, shocked internally at the vehement hatred flowing from Sho.

“There is nothing redeemable about someone that commits such acts as they do-- they are beyond common criminals, they cannot be reformed and put back into society,” Sho said, his jaw tight. “If a citizen is of sound body and mind and cannot contribute to the greater good, what does that say about the leaders, Nakamaru?” he asked pointedly.

Nakamaru gulped and shrugged, mentally scrambling to come up with an answer that would be acceptable to Sho, his mind still processing the slightly psychotic rhetoric being spouted from a man that he had once thought could be the key to a better future.

“Inadequacy?” Nakamaru whispered, and Sho pointed at him with a flourish. “Exactly,” he said. “I knew you were bright, Nakamaru. You understand why this needs to be done,” Sho said, totally ignoring the slight look of shock on Nakamaru’s face-- he was too pleased with Nakamaru’s astute response.

“Their lack of self-control is disgusting,” Sho said, looking out the window with a shake of his head and sneering at what Nakamaru imagined was an invisible Haven denizen. Nakamaru just nodded, wanting nothing more than to get out of the room, his hands digging into the arms of the chair as he held himself back from saying what he truly wanted to say to Sho.

“In short, they represent everything that is the antithesis of what I want to accomplish,” Sho said, concluding his tirade and looking at Nakamaru. Nakamaru wasn’t sure if he was supposed to respond or merely nod in agreement. He didn’t have a chance to decide what his reaction was because before a minute had passed, Sho had plowed on to his next point.

“So that’s why I am aiming for them, and why I will be the one to form the future of this City,” Sho said with a smug smile, leaning back in his chair and relaxing, the venom suddenly leaving his body. Nakamaru nodded, a plastic smile plastered on his face.

“I understand completely; thank you for fulfilling my curiosity, Sir,” Nakamaru said, standing to leave and waiting for Sho to show him out.

“Of course you do, Nakamaru, you are my most promising staff member because you get why I am doing this, and you know the importance of balance in the system,” Sho said, patting Nakamaru on the back as he ushered him out.

Nakamaru felt chills down his back as Sho touched him in such an intimate manner.

“I’m expecting a lot from you, Nakamaru,” Sho said, his eyes boring a hole into Nakamaru’s.

All Nakamaru could do, for what seemed like the millionth time, was smile and nod. Sho waved him out like he was a kindergartner boarding the bus to go to school, the sheer infantilizing nature of the gesture not lost on Nakamaru.

Sho saw him as almost a child, someone to “raise” and mold into what he needed and wanted. Nakamaru was yet another tool in Sho’s plan, a gear in the machine. He could feel the importance of his role in said machine rising, and he knew that with more responsibility came more scrutiny.

He would have to be extra careful from now on with his “other” life in the Haven, although it was becoming clear the more time he spent there, the more “real” life in the Haven felt. He wasn’t sure why, because the first time he was in the Haven, it was like a mirage or watching a movie. Junno had mentioned that the first time usually felt like an out-of-body experience, and Nakamaru could certainly relate to that.

But now, he had something in the Haven that felt so real that everything in his life up to that point paled in comparison to the feelings he experienced when he was in the Haven. He wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but he knew that he wanted to hold onto it with both hands and not let go, no matter what forces stood in his way, as insurmountable as they may have seemed.

Nakamaru remembered that Junno had always mentioned channeling his emotions to him, to take the urges that he had and funnel them into a productive manner. Junno had told Nakamaru that he had the potential to make change in any way he could imagine. Nakamaru had coloured when Junno had said that, embarrassed that someone had that much faith in him.

But both Koki and Junno trusted him on so many levels, and Nakamaru knew that they wouldn’t place that trust in him without reason. Junno was unpredictable, but beyond all things, Nakamaru knew that he cared deeply for Koki and would remove both of them from a situation if it meant anything than what was best for Koki and himself.

If someone could trust him in such an intimate and close manner, Nakamaru reasoned, then there was no reason he couldn’t trust himself to make decisions, even big ones that had far-reaching outcomes.

Sitting down at his desk, Nakamaru slid open a drawer that held a small trinket Koki had fashioned out of bits of leftover leather and fabric for him. At first glance, it merely appeared to be some type of common good-luck charm bought at a stall, but at closer inspection, it was a clearly handmade very small owl. “It’s like you, Sir,” Koki had said, presenting it with a gleeful smile on his face.

Nakamaru had stared at him, bewildered. He wasn’t quite sure what Koki could mean by that, and he prepared himself for Junno to make a puerile pun of some type about hooters. But instead, Junno looked down at Koki and nodded, prodding him to continue.

“You’re wise, Sir,” Koki had said, and Nakamaru couldn’t respond to the statement at the time, instead ruffling Koki’s hair affectionately and stroking the small charm in his hand.

Holding it in his hand after Sho’s meeting, he knew that Koki was right. He could do this, and he was smarter than he thought he was.

So Nakamaru made a final decision.

---

Sighing, Nakamaru braced his back against the door, making sure not to make too much noise. Koki somehow had the hearing of a golden retriever and could tell the moment he got home if he wasn’t too careful. He wasn’t sure how to tell Koki, let alone Junno, the sordid facts that had come to light at work that day. He knew that both of them really cared about the Haven and had been a part of it for a long time.

In fact, the Haven was their home. And it was beginning to feel like Nakamaru’s too.

Resigning himself to the fact that it had to be done, Nakamaru let himself in, taking a deep breath as he mentally braced himself for the storm to come. He would have to find the right moment to tell both of them. Taking off his tie and sliding off his shoes, he stepped out of the hallway into the living room.

"Long day?" Nakamaru looked up, startled out of his thoughts by Junno's drawling question. For some reason, he was sprawled upside down in Nakamaru's armchair, feet kicked over the back of it as his head hung off of the seat cushion.

Nakamaru dropped his briefcase next to the door. "Yes, it was. How did you get in here again, Junno? I don't recall giving you a key," he said, making his way to flop onto the couch.

"Koki got lonely," was the only response Nakamaru got. Junno twisted around somehow, righting himself in the chair before adding, "I'll listen if you want me to. May I fetch you a drink, Sir?"

Nakamaru settled into the cushions, further loosening his tie and pulling it over his head before unbuttoning his sleeves and rolling them up. He nodded, eyes following Junno's movements as he walked to the kitchen. Junno brought back a tall glass of ice water and placed it on the coffee table in front of Nakamaru.

"Thank you," Nakamaru said, watching the careful way Junno sat back down in the armchair. He took a few moments to gather his thoughts, then took a deep breath and began.

"Junno. I'm not sure if you know all of the details of my job, but basically I'm the assistant to the Storm Reform Party's candidate. Lately Sho-san has been talking more policy with me than he ever has before, saying things like 'cleaning up certain unsavoury areas' and giving me tasks that somehow eerily correspond to the next day's news of arrests being made or businesses being shut down," Nakamaru said, leaning forward to take a sip of water. He sat, silent for a moment. "I think Sho-san wants to eradicate the Haven."

Junno listened quietly, and his only movement the entire time was his seemingly-unconscious worrying of the bead in his lip ring. He clapped his hands together slowly, face completely blank. "Good work, Yuichi," he drawled, standing as he continued. "You are correct in your deductions, Yuichi. I've known for a long time about Sakurai-san's agenda."

Nakamaru sat up, alarmed. "But how--?"

"I have my ways, Yuichi, and I know everything that happens in the backrooms of the government. We've heard rumblings about his moral agenda, and that's why I need you."

"I don't understand. What do you mean, 'needing me'? I thought you just followed me around and drugged me on a whim," Nakamaru said, completely at a loss.

"Well, in a way, it was completely on a whim. But it was one aided by your excellent skills and ideal future position in the government. I need you to represent the Haven," Junno said, matter-of-fact as he leaned down to clap a hand on Nakamaru's shoulder. "I need you to take Sakurai-san's place. We already have the beginnings of a smear campaign against him in place, so all you need to worry about for now is to keep doing the excellent work you've been doing so far. I have to commend you for wiling your way into the good graces of his colleagues as well."

Junno smiled at him, a warm fondness in his eyes, as well as the scheming spark Nakamaru had seen when they had first met. He let go of Nakamaru's shoulder, then sat back down. "Yuichi, let me and Koki take care of you after your hard day at work. Are you feeling a bit peckish?"

Nakamaru stared at the condensation rolling down the sides of his glass. Finally he nodded, and he saw Junno rise and leave the room to fetch Koki. He heard their whispered conversation and footsteps in the hallway. Then tap in the bathroom began to run, and Nakamaru looked up curiously in time to see Koki enter the room.

Koki was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, hair mussed. He was wearing nothing but loose-fitting sleep pants and a collar, and he wasted no time in climbing into Nakamaru's lap for a greeting.

"Yucchi," he said, nuzzling against Nakamaru's neck. "What do you want to eat? I'll cook while Junno attends to you in the bath."

Nakamaru ran his fingers through Koki's hair, taking delight in the easy affection the other was so generous with. "How about you make whatever it is you'd like best, Koki? That would make me happy."

Koki nodded, pulling back and looking at Nakamaru through his eyelashes. Nakamaru hooked a finger into his collar, and then pulled Koki down for a languid kiss. "Go on then," he said, smiling up at Koki.

Koki climbed out of Nakamaru's lap and made his way to the kitchen. Nakamaru got up from the couch, listening as Koki pawed through his pantry while muttering to himself. The tap had shut off by the time he entered the bathroom.

The room was steamy, air perfumed with a musky scent. Junno was waiting for him, and his spidery fingers began unbuttoning Nakamaru's shirt. Nakamaru allowed it, still lost in thought over Junno's revelations, and he willingly stepped out of his trousers and underwear when Junno hooked fingers into their waistbands.

Nakamaru shrugged his shirt from his shoulders, and Junno caught it before it hit the floor. He stepped into the warm tub, and sighed at how good the heat felt to his tired muscles. Junno put Nakamaru's clothes into the hamper for him, and knelt at the side of the tub. He'd already taken off his shirt, and he began to gently rub Nakamaru down with a soapy cloth.

"Sir, please would you consider the things I told you about? The Haven is the only place where everyone can be free to be whoever they want, and it would be terrible for the government to rip it away all because of one man's misguided sense of morality that must be forced upon everyone. We aren't bad people; you already know this," Junno said softly.

Nakamaru grunted in assent, too warm from the bath to properly communicate. Junno seemed to understand, and continued to alternate between kneading sore muscles and bathing Nakamaru.

The silence was interrupted when Koki knocked quietly on the door, waiting for permission to enter. Nakamaru was almost dozing, but he wakes up fully at the noise and gives him permission.

Koki peeked into the room, eyes downcast as he announced dinner. Junno motioned for him to bring fresh clothes for Nakamaru as he stood, dripping, from the tub. Junno had a towel ready, and he bundled Nakamaru up in it, laughing when he shrugged out of the hold.

Nakamaru took the towel from Junno and finished drying himself as Koki returned with Nakamaru's pyjama pants. He dressed himself and walked to the dining room, Junno and Koki following behind. They remained standing until Nakamaru motioned otherwise. "Use the chairs, you two. We're at home so we'll act like it," Nakamaru said.

The table had been set with bowls full of steaming soup, a contrast to the chill of the rain that had been falling on and off during the day. The three of them ate quietly, spoons clinking against ceramic. Nakamaru finished first, and stayed at the table while the others kept eating. He steepled his fingers under his chin, thinking of the conversation he'd had with Junno.

Nakamaru realized that the sounds of dinner had ceased; he looked up to find Junno staring at him, an unreadable look in his eyes.



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August 2012

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