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Decorate The Tree

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Asuka had stated several times that she had many talents but babysitting children was not it. This was why she had wanted to strangle Kairi for sending his daughter to be watched by Kenji and her as though they had nothing better to do. But he wanted his daughter to learn English and well...she couldn't exactly say no to her baby brother. 


But that didn't mean that she and Yuka were getting along. Within the first day, Asuka's sink had been covered from wall to wall in every kind of make-up brand in Japan, even ones Asuka had never even heard of. The room that Asuka had nicely set up for her niece to live in had been completely reverbed, pink loud curtains, bedsheets with some American cartoon show she had never heard of, clothes all over the place and a make-up mirror had been installed. Rows of bows and hair clips and headbands were placed along with dressers all lined up in a neat row, sorted by color and size. Various shiny bracelets, necklaces, and earrings of every hue was held up by plastic trees and a giant jewelry box that was a sickening lavender shade that was bigger than the bullet box Asuka kept under her bed, sitting the middle of the chaos like a sun amongst it's many orbiting bodies. Asuka who had never had much interest, money or time as a child for such things as a girl was left feeling confused and annoyed. 


Asuka's kitchen sink soon became filled with flour dust and various pages of cookbooks from American recipes that Yuka had just been dying to try, torn out pages of a drawing notebook that had Sparkles and unicorns on the front in various pages of math homework with cursive written on them soon became a staple of her living room cluttering the place up. And it wasn't just the teenage messes that bothered Asuka but the clash in their personalities as well. Yuka was a lot more high-strung with a more feminine air to her whereas Asuka had spent most of her life fighting back against her own femininity. Yuka was loud, blasting music from her CD player or tv while she was in the shower or in her room, Humming various American songs under her breath will dancing wildly to them in the kitchen while she attempted to cook, she told Asuka about all the various boys that she had her eye on and the ones that had their eyes on her end the various friend drama and gossip of the day. Asuka not sure what to make of any of this would just keep quiet, both their childhoods in strong obvious contrast to each other. 


 After one particularly bad fight over Yuka spilling a can of glitter all over the carpet and they had been unable to scrub it out,  Asuka remembered seeking solace in venting to her bother one morning over a steaming cup of coffee and bagels. 


“She's driving me crazy.  I feel like I'm going insane in my own home.” 


“Come now sister don't be so dramatic.  I'm sure it is not that bad.” 


Kenji was always a sucker for his niece and his subtle and unknown encouragement of the situation only made matters much worse than they already were. 


"Easy for you to say. You don't have to live with her and put up with her every day. I do. And you're not helping buying her all that cheap mascara shit. I fear I will never be able to get those stains out of my marble counters." 


"It might be a good thing for you. You have been so uptight lately...distant. A little childish innocence could be like a breath of fresh air for you. Yuka is a good influence." 


"Well, I wonder why I have been so distant lately. It's not like we are in the middle of a gang war in a foreign country or anything." 


Kenji waved her off. "Don't worry about it. My men are taking care of it. We also have some new rackets, the money will start rolling in soon, make everybody happy." 


And she realized the conversation was going nowhere she got up and left. No matter how much Yuka pushed her buttons, it seemed that Kenji would insist it was for the best. 


But as the dreaded Christmas season grew closer, the annoying antics of Yuka got worse. Gingerbread powder stained her sink drain, paper monstrosities of nativity and makeshift ordiment crafts were all over her living room floor, annoying Christmas music was on blast almost 24/7, when they would go for a drive Yuka would play with the dial until it landed on a Christmas song. She talked about all the exciting things her friends had been up to such as putting up a Christmas tree. 


Asuka assumed this was just typical teenage stuff and that Yuka was just gossiping and that that would be the end of it. 


It wasn't. 


The next time the Christmas stuff was brought up directly was when the two of them had gone over to Kenji's apartment for dinner. Yuka brought up that she had missed home because her parents always put up a Christmas tree in their living room. Kenji exchanged a concerned look with Asuka, both of whom had never heard Yuka bring up home before, let alone say that she missed it. But once again Asuka brushed this off as just home sickness. 


But then Yuka brought it up again when the two of them had been eating dinner. Yuka had asked why Asuka never put up any Christmas decorations. The answer was simple. Why should she? She wasn't religious, sentimental and no one else in her family (besides seemingly Yuka's family at that point) had paid much attention to holidays. Holidays were just a scheme banking on nostalgia and loneliness anyways, so why fall for that? Holidays were something other people fell for, when people would leave their homes and businesses to go travel to see family or go on a shitty vacation. The Kasen family used those days to rob people blind. It was just so easy. The perfect opportunity for a quad of homeless kids in Japan to make a fucking killing for the overseers in the top crime organizations to move their way up the ladders. Fond and simpler times she could smile back on. 


But that was a bit too complicated to explain to Yuka as her father had almost completely pulled out of the criminal life altogether, so she wasn't in it like Asuka was when she was her age. So she just chalked it up to being uninterested and that Christmas decorations annoyed her.  Yuka began speaking in hypotheticals, explaining how this rich white girl from her school had a Christmas tree that was so big they had to cut off some of the branches just to get it to fit in the corner of their living room. But the hypotheticals seemed to end once Yuka began discussing possible places where the tree could go if Asuka were to get one. The point in the conversation that Asuka felt herself getting uneasy about. 


The next time it was brought up, Yuka phrased it as a demand this time. 


Asuka had been at her desk sorting through some of the sloppier filing number jobs her brother had done. The American saying "behind every successful man is an even harder working woman" seemed to ring even truer here. Yuka was sprawled out on the couch nearby humming Christmas tunes under her breath as she flipped through a fashion magazine with a model on the cover who looked like she had undergone more than her fair share of plastic surgeries and photoshops. 


"We should get a Christmas tree. Maybe just a small one. It could go right behind the couch here." 


Asuka grumbled under her breath at the interruption to her counting. "I already said no. I don't want those pines all over my nice hardwood floors." 


Yuka sat up, seemingly assuming Asuka had not heard her. "I could clean up after it and decorate it myself." 


Asuka rolled her eyes. "Yuka you can't even clean up your clothes in the bathroom. How can you even say that with a straight face?" 


"I would!" 


Asuka shook her head as she focused back on the numbers on the page. 


"Come on Asuka. Why do you got to be such a Scrooge?" 


"What's a Scrooge?" 


"Someone who is a stick in the mud." 


"If being a realist is a stick in the mud then I guess I am a Scrooge-" 


Yuka sighed dramatically, turning out to be quite the assimilated American teenager with how she dramatically groaned and sunk herself down onto the couch. "Come on. It's so bleak in here. This place could really do with a little Christmas cheer." 


Auska chose to ignore her. She felt Yuka get up from the couch and approach her. She bent over the side of the desk where Asuka was looking down, batting her eyes, the puppy dog look as her father had called it. "Come on Asuka. Pllleeeeasseeeee. We don't even have to get a big tree. It could just be a small one." 


"If you think I am going to leave my nice, warm apartment and go trudge through six inches of snow for some stupid tree then you are out of your mind."


"I would do all the work. You just have to drive me there. You don't even have to get out of the car. You could just hand me the money and I would do the rest." 


Asuka sighed, turning her head. "Yuka, for the last time I am not going to get a Christmas tree. I said-" 


And then Asuka paused, her breath getting caught in her throat as the sight of those eyes. She had Kairi's eyes. She really did. Eyes that were quite hard to say no to. 


Asuka sighed, standing up from her chair slowly. "I can't believe I am saying this but fine. We will go get a Christmas tree. Just a small one though."  Asuka quickly added as she watched niece squeal in delight. She flinched when she felt Yuka tightly squeeze her. 


"Oh, thank you, Aunt Asuka! Thank you! I'll go get the car keys!" 


Asuka watched her dance away as a genuine smile began to pull at the corners of her mouth, the first genuine one in over a month. 


Perhaps a little Christmas cheer wouldn't hurt after all.