Kozue’s most vivid childhood memory was running away from the stage on that dreadful day. Just seeing that piano made her hands clammy, let alone all the voices and faces in the crowd. She remembers clinging to father’s leg, the pleas and whimpers leaving her lips, still hoping her dear darling brother would have some kind of backup, that he’d muster the strength the protect her like he’d always done.
Of course, that didn’t happen.
What did happen was a month long grounding period, and another two month period of father complaining about how she’d ruined his night, and his reputation.
“I told you,” she mutters during another one of his compulsive rambles, her chair further than usual from her brother’s. “I told you, I didn’t want to do it. I told you.”
“And I told you I don’t give a damn what you want.” He says, just barely catching her words over the loudness of both his own anger and his own ego. “I told you to get on that stage and play, did I not? Did I not tell you it was for your own good? And now look what you’ve done to me, this family’s reputation is probably in shambles and instead of an apology you give me nothing but spite? Selfish girl. You inconsiderate, awful child.”
Silence. He rubs his temples.
“....Go to your room. I fear if I have to sit with you any longer I’ll say something I’ll regret.”
She stares at her father, just for a moment, before slowly scooting out her own chair and slowly making her way toward the stairs.
She makes sure to slam the door the minute she hears Miki speak.
Men are many things, Kozue learns, but of all of them the word “cowardly” comes to quickest to mind when she thinks of them.
“You’re divorcing mother?” Miki asks. “Why?” insensible and naïve as always, he was.
It’s quiet, for a moment, until father shifts slightly in his recliner.
“...When mommies and daddies get married, there’s a flame. And sometimes, that flame continues to burn at full power, but other times, the flame slowly wittles with time, until there’s nothing there but fumes.”
“I...I see.” Miki lies.
Father puts a hand on his shoulder. “When you’re older and you’re a daddy yourself, you’ll understand.” He says. “Some things just aren’t meant to last.”
“....You still care about her though, right? You don’t....hate mother do you?”
“...No. I could never.”
A sigh of relief escapes Miki’s lips. “That’s a relief.” He says, his father ruffling his hair.
“Alright, now run along. I have a lot of work to do.”
Miki nods, making his way to the door of his father’s study, taking a step out and jumping slightly as his body shifted slightly to the left.
“Gah! Kozue!! What were you doing out here?” He asks, his heart in his throat and he almost forgets to shut the door behind him.
Kozue keeps her arms crossed, left ear gently pressed against the wall of her father’s study. She smiles, just a tad, before pushing herself off the wall and standing up straight.
“Nothing. I was just leaving.”
Two weeks had barely passed before father had a new girl in his arm.
A new girl.
A new, younger girl.
Kozue clicked her tounge silently against the roof of her mouth, so busy stewing in her own anger and disgust she hadn’t even caught the girl’s name. Not that it mattered.
This was to be a regular occurence, and Kozue swore they got younger each time.
“I’m glad father’s moving on, aren’t you, Kozue?” Miki turns to his sister, that delicate smile plastered on his face.
“Oh come now, don’t be like that! I know we’ve had some rough times with father in the past, but he’s been good to us!”
Kozue snorts. “Good to us? How so? Having the maids cook for us and help us with our homework while he hides upstairs doing god knows what with whatever poor girl of the week? Don’t be stupid, Miki.”
“H...Hey! Don’t speak of him that way! You know, a lot of parents wouldn’t even do that much! A lot of parents just leave their children to suffer, especially fathers! We should be grateful!”
Kozue shifts slightly, a small smile plastered on her face.
“The bare minimum deserves praise rather than concern? You really think a father giving his children the bare necessities is warrented praise and not concern? Concern for what kind of world we live in where a parent using a child’s lack of agency to do good rather than evil is warrented praise and deserving of respect? Is that really how you feel, brother?”
“....Father always said you’d try to put weird thoughts in my head. You and mother both. He said women have the habit of twisting things.”
“Well, maybe father should look inward sometime.”
Daddy dearest had been sure to send them off to Ohtori the minute he got the chance; sure, it’d probably put a small dent in the family fortune, but who cares about offspring when they get in the way of your latest fuck n’ chuck power play.
Kozue would be a fool not to make the best of it.
“Kozue,” She hears on the phone as she lays upside down in her bed.
“What’s this I hear about you and your.....reputation on campus? Sleeping around with older men, your brother’s worried sick about you, and I raised you better than this!”
Kozue smiles; it’s distant and small and no teeth are showing.
“.....I only learned from the best, father.”