(Originally posted by me on Sun Jan 24, 2010)
"Good evening, your majesty."
The prince, who was at the serving table helping himself to some lemon pepper chicken, turned around to face behind him. Right beside him was an old man dressed in an elaborate suit that had a mix of European and Japanese sewn into it, along with a magnificent mask that looked fit for the fanciest of masquerades in the form of a fox. The eye-holes in the mask revealed intense and stern eyes that could only belong to the most masterful warriors that the world had to offer. Something clicked into the princes mind; he had seen those eyes before.
"Are... are you... Grand Master Arisan?" he asked.
Jonou bowed. "Yes. It is an honor to meet you, your majesty."
Prince Elric became a bit flustered for a second, but caught himself. "I-it's an honor to meet you, as well."
"I am sorry to hear about your father," he said gently.
"Ah..." Elric's heart sped up for a couple of seconds, but slowed down in no time. "Thank you, Mr. Arisan. So, what are you doing here?"
Jonou could have used the oh-I-was-just-in-the-neighborhood excuse, but he knew better than to do something like that. He answered, "I'm keeping an eye on Fujitsu while he is in your service, just in case if I ever needed to step in." Arisan walked up to the table and poured himself a glass of cherry wine. Too bad there was no sake.
The prince smiled. "Well, he has proven to be a powerful fighter. Thank you for sending him here."
"No..." Arisan sighed. "It was because of him that he is here. He asked to take my place, and I placed my trust in him. However... he has disappointed me."
"How?" Elric asked, taking a seat that just happened to be by him. "He's been doing just fine."
Jonou shook his head and drained his half empty glass. "No, he's been wasting his ability. He has been holding back, when I've specifically trained him not to, and worse, he's created bonds with other people. Specifically the bandit girl."
"What's wrong with that?" the prince asked confusedly.
"For a warrior to have friends is damaging. Their focus starts to deteriorate, and they risk their lives to save them, rather than the other innocent people that could be killed."
Elric frowned. "Or they could become stronger because of that friendship."
Jonou once again shook his head. "I am speaking from past experience, and the fact that friendships and Fujitsu never work out. Every time he's made 'friends', they always seem to turn on him, or lead him into life-threatening danger."
"I see...." The prince was getting a bit uncomfortable.
"I have made it a habit to never get too close to anybody, though there is one exception: Fujitsu's cousin."
Elric perked up. "There's another one that survived the massacre?"
"Yes," Arisan said nodding. "He was away at the time of the attack. He heard that I had rescued Fujitsu and came to visit from time to time, but since he was working for an army in the war, he stopped coming due to responsibilities."
"Uh-huh. And you trust him... why?" Elric inquired.
"Fujitsu trusts him."
The prince raised an eyebrow. "But you just said that you make it a habit never to get too close to anybody, and by trusting Fujitsu like that means that you have to be close to him."
The old master poured himself another drink, this time grape wine. "Fujitsu is different. I've raised him since he was three. I know him inside and out, and he respects me enough to accept me as a step-father of sorts."
He looked out to the dance floor, towards Fujitsu and Aria. Fujitsu was showing a completely absurd dance that consisted of trying to wiggle his body like a worm in ripple-like patterns, Aria laughing at the silliness. Arisan smiled.
"I see that you view him as a son, maybe?" the prince chuckled, glancing at Jonou.
Jonou chuckled as well. "I guess you could say that...." He finished his wine glass and left the table. "It is late. You might want to end the party soon; many people are tired and some wasted. Farewell."
He walked into the crowd, and as a woman passed behind him, he vanished in a shower of sakura petals.