Solus: The Pairing of Fate
~8 Years ago~
“Alright class, settle down. I’m going to hand back your results from your very first test!”
The class erupted in an endless stream of noise as the students scrambled back into their assigned seats. Considering the fact the class was full of 1st Graders, it wasn’t surprising at all.
Yukari Elementary School. That was the name of the school I was sent to by Father. It was a rather prestigious elementary school where most of the rich kids go to, hence it was hard to enroll itself. Father utilized some connections and paid the ridiculously high school expenses for me to enroll there.
“To excel at anything, you must first have a solid base. Go and solidify your bases at the school.” were his parting words for me as I stepped in.
The teacher started handing out the exam results one by one. Most of the students here were rather peculiar about the results due to their family heritage, thus, you could see some students grieving over their results while others celebrated.
“Now for the top 2 students in this class. The top score this time around is, in fact, the best in the school!” The teacher announced. The top result was a prestigious title considering the competition in the class and school.
“It’s guaranteed to be yours, isn’t it Ikuro.” One of the average scoring kids nudged his shoulder at the person sitting beside me. Amagami Ikuro, a self-centered kid who belongs to the famous Amagami Household. He likes to flaunt his wealth all the time and believes he is superior to everyone. In just the two months since we have enrolled, he already has a huge following of students behind him, all presumably seeking a connection to their house.
“Of course it is. I am THE Amagami Ikuro, after all.” He crossed his arms as he snorted.
“The one who scored 98 points in the test, Amagami-kun. Please step forward.”
Ikuro rose from his seat, proudly stomping his way to the front. He opened his arms and reached out for his result, having a proud expression on his face.
“Congratulations, you scored very well. You are, in fact, number 2 in the class and school!”
“Huh?” He looked up at the teacher, bewildered by the situation. Ikuro hurriedly turned his test paper over, the result written clear as day. 98/100, 2nd place in class.
“And now, the first in class and the school. With full marks, Hikaru Izuya-kun!”
“Yes.” I stood up and walked to the front. The students all around me were staring as if they couldn’t believe what was going on in front of them.
Being the only non-elite child in the school, I was ostracised by the students since my enrollment, with the center of it all being done by Ikuro. I didn’t really pay much attention to them as I kept recalling my father’s words. Despite being in a hostile environment, I preserved and got the top score of the school, as if it was already predetermined.
“Great job, Hikaru-kun.” The teacher awkwardly said as she handed me my test results. I assume she was in an awkward position due to the stare from Ikuro who was still standing there, glaring at both the teacher and me, as if we had done something wrong.
As I walked back to my seat, I glanced at Ikuro’s face while passing him. His face was one of denial as he clutched his result in his hand. It twisted into even more rage when I chose to jerk my head away ignoring his stare.
This was the first meeting between Amagami Ikuro and Hikaru Izuya.
“...” I seem to hear someone calling out to another behind me but I chose to ignore whatever it was.
“Tch, I said stop.”
A figure stood in front of me, blocking my way to the school gates.
“What do you want?”
“Don’t get full of yourself, you hear me? You are just a nobody while I am the great Amagami Ikuro!” His self-monologue started as he explained about his family’s heritage and how they are one of the leading corporations in the world and that he was the heir to all that.
“And? What’s all that got to do with me?”
“How dare you be rude to Ikuro!” The same boy from this morning that was basically sucking up to Ikuro shoved me backward. I lost my footing from the sudden push that I fell on the ground.
“...Rude? And why should I care about his family? Sure, the Amagami corporation is great and all, but what’s that got to do with Ikuro here? He was just born into the family, he didn’t contribute a single thing to what the corporation is today.” I flipped out a little at them, being annoyed as I scraped my hands.
I looked up and glared at them and noticed Ikuro’s face was a little flustered, not knowing what to say.
“Argh! What did you say to me?!” Ikuro lunged forward, slapping my treasure notebook out of my hand. The notebook flew away, towards the direction of the pond.
“!” I rushed towards the pond, hoping that I was in time to catch the falling notebook. Due to my sudden movement, I tripped on a small pebble that was on the ground, scraping my knee on the edge before falling into the pond with my notebook.
“Ahaha, what an idiot!” I could hear their mockery and laughter as they watched me fumble.
I stood up from the water, grasping the book in my hand. I flipped through the pages, hoping that it was still in good condition but it was useless. The words had smudged from the water and the paper was tearing apart.
This notebook was the most precious memory I had of my birth mother. I couldn’t really recall much but I had heard from my father that my mother used to write in this notebook while playing with me, describing the time we spent together.
I guess it was just a wimp on her part but it was rather precious to me, seeing that she wasn’t here with me now.
Clutching the notebook in my hand, I didn’t realize as tears flowed through my face. I climbed out of the pond with a little blood still flowing from my knee. I gave off a death glare at the group, full of the anger that was inside me.
The few of them seemed to be intimidated by my glare considering they started to walk away, giving off excuses such as having something on. Ikuro was the only one staying, staring back at me with a terrified expression on his face.
I had at that moment wanted to rush over and punch him but I somehow managed to control myself. Father was right, I was here to make a solid foundation, not to make enemies or get into trouble for hitting some snotty elite kid. I picked up my bag, my knee still bleeding as I started to walk home.
Ikuro also left not long after, getting into his car and driving off. His car passed by me while I was limping on the way home. I recognized the car and stared straight into the black-tinted windows.
Although I couldn’t see inside, I knew that he was behind it.
“I will remember this.” I spoke out, knowing he wouldn’t hear me, but he would understand.
Opening the door to my home, I walked into a house that was shrouded in darkness. Ever since mother left, the house was usually empty in the afternoon. Father usually works till late at night or he would be overseas as he traveled a lot.
I sat on the couch in the living room, cleaning and disinfecting my wound on the knee.
Could the notebook still be saved? Chances were that it couldn’t but nevertheless, I still tried to do it. I did everything from using a hairdryer to dry it off to simply pressing it with a book but it wasn’t able to be salvaged.
I went to school, as usual, the next day, this time, with a noticeable frown on my face. The gang from yesterday seemed to be avoiding me but they were still as noisy as ever in the class. The next period was a combined P.E class with the class next door and we headed out to the field.
Various whispers and conversations were happening as a single girl blazing past others during a race on the field. She had short, platinum blonde hair that really stood out amongst the crowd.
“Who is she?”
“I heard she’s from that Nanaho household, her mother is a Russian.” One of the girls exclaimed.
“So, she’s half? No wonder she’s so pretty.” Another girl said, with jealousy in her eyes.
The boys were all rather obvious in their stares at Madoka. I had to admit, Madoka was a sight for sore eyes. At that age, I was rather interested in her as well, much like the other boys my age.
As I turned my head, I caught Ikuro in the corner of my eye, instantly plummeting my mood down. His face was bright red as he stared hard at Madoka.
“...Cool…” He softly said at the sight of Madoka crossing the finish line with sweat running down her face. Her face beamed with joy as she cheered at her victory and went to her classmates, giving them high-fives.
Come to think of it. It’s been almost four months since we started school and I don’t recall seeing someone like her. We haven’t had any news of a transfer student either.
“I heard she was hospitalized after a fall and that’s why she couldn’t come to school so far…”
“Really? Looking at her now, she doesn’t seem to be injured in any way…”
The girls who were gossiping were right. If they didn’t mention that Madoka being hospitalized was the reason she was absent for so long, no one would notice. She did just beat both boys and girls in a race rather easily and by a large margin.
With Madoka’s current personality and looks, adding to the fact that she is from the Nanaho household, she was bound to be popular. Someone like me would probably never get to interact with her. Which was why the event at lunchtime was shocking to all.
I rose from my slight nap after P.E, adjusting my eyes to the bright lights of the class and following the voice that called me up. Squinting my eyes, I made out a figure in front of me, with bright colored hair, shining onto my eyes.
As the picture got clearer, I finally realized that Nanaho Madoka was in front of me.
“You are Hikaru-kun, right? The top scorer for the previous exam.” she questioned.
“Yes. Can I help you?” I replied, still puzzled about why she had spoken to me. Everyone in our class had their eyes fixated on us, each wondering the same thing as me.
Why was she here?
“I knew it!” She slammed her palms on my table, leaning in closer with her eyes staring straight into my eyes.
“Could you maybe help me with my studies?”
“Eh? Eh?!” The whole class erupted.
“Nanaho-san...Perhaps we could help you instead?” A few of the girls tried asking her.
“Hm? No thanks, I'd rather have Hikaru-kun help me.”
“T-then what about Ikuro here? He’s number 2 in the whole school!” The shaved head boy that was part of the Ikuro gang spoke up.
“Yea and he belongs to the Amagami household. That Hikaru over there isn’t an elite like us, he got in here through some shady connections I heard.”
I was rather pissed off that the glasses-wearing boy was degrading me right in front of a pretty girl like Madoka. I glared over at them again making them flinch and I noticed that Ikuro was blushing a little, feeling happy of all the praise they were giving him. He had the look on his face that Madoka was surely going to pick him, after all, he was equally smart and he was from a prestigious family.
“Um...But he lost to Hikaru-kun in the test, didn’t he?”
“Ugh!” Ikuro fell backward from the sharp words Madoka threw out.
“And why should I get help from the 2nd best when I can get the best? Besides, the family lineage doesn't really matter right now.”
“Sure, I can help you.” I replied, this time sneering at Ikuro with a smirk on my face.
“Great! Then, we could do it after school today in the library!”
It felt great to win one over Ikuro, especially seeing the look on his face. I headed to the library after school, feeling slightly excited about the teaching session with Madoka. As I opened the door to the library, I saw Madoka by the table...with Ikuro opposite her.
“Y-Yo Hikaru! I wanted to join your lesson as well.” Ikuro said while flustered.
“...Amagami...Why are you here?”
Madoka was looking rather puzzled by our interaction.
“Are you guys good friends?”
“Like hell we are!”
“Of course we are!”
I see what’s going on now. Ikuro was trying to appear like a good friend of mine to appeal to Madoka.
“So which is it?”
“We are not!” I said, eyes twitching at Ikuro.
“Don’t say that, Hikaru. No, Izaya.” Ikuro replied, using my first name to show we were rather close.
“...It’s Izuya. Sigh… Nanaho-san, why do you need our help anyway? I think you could hire a tutor rather easily.” I gave up trying to chase Ikuro away as I took a seat next to him.
“Well...there are various reasons...But I think learning from my peers would fare better and I needed to catch up on all the things I missed!”
“No worries! With me and Izaya~”
“Izuya!” I angrily retorted.
“I meant Izuya, the top two students in the grade, we will catch you up in no time!”
As we began the tutoring session, Ikuro seemed to be behaving himself and being an exemplary student teacher. I thought perhaps with Madoka here now, he would change for the better and we could actually get along.
I was wrong.
After the session ended and Madoka left, Ikuro immediately cornered me.
“Get off your high horse. You can’t compare to me or her. I will take care of the lessons now, you should just give an excuse or something and move off.”
“Heh. But she chose me and not you, maybe it’s you who should get off your high horse.” I snapped back at Ikuro, treating this as petty revenge for him ruining my notebook.
We argued back and forth for a little while more before we left the library and headed home.
“Know your place, peasant.” Ikuro left with a snide comment.
Months passed as our weekly lessons on Friday went on. Despite missing out on studies for four months, Madoka was fairly competent in studying and she caught up rather quickly, claiming one of the top spots in the school easily.
As time went by, Madoka only got more popular while Ikuro was still as haughty as ever, picking fights with me after every lesson. The other students didn’t look fond of me ‘hanging’ out with the both of them but I didn’t pay heed to it.
Although Madoka technically didn’t need the lessons anymore, it became more of a habitual thing that we gathered every Friday after school. Of course, I kept my top spot in the school all this while both in 2nd Grade and 3rd Grade. We had still kept this up even till today in the 4th grade.
“Izuya, you aren’t coming?” Ikuro called out to me as I headed for the entrance to school other than the library.
“I have something on today, you can finally enjoy your alone time with Madoka.”
Today was the rare day that Father would bring me to visit Mother. A few months into our lessons, Ikuro suddenly apologized for the day that he ruined the notebook after Madoka questioned why I was still carrying around a tattered notebook, leading to a small fight where Madoka was scolding Ikuro for his actions.
He had this misconception that he ruined a memento of my deceased mother and he felt guilty for that one incident, and not his usual mocking actions. The only problem was, my mother was still alive and kicking. When I told him that, he was rather flustered at his imagination that he left early.
My mother is a rather impressive person herself. From what my father told me, she had multiple successful businesses although I wasn’t sure what her job was. Her clashing personality with my father led to the two of them being separated. Although they were never divorced, mother went off to another country to expand her influence there.
Eventually, father went abroad as well and he left his trusted secretary, who acted as a mother figure to attend my parent-teacher meetings, which was who I called Mom.
“Izu-chan! I missed you!!!” She embraced me as soon as we met, burying my face into her well-endowed bosom.
Hikaru Rizuha, my mother, was a rather overwhelming person. She always loves to wear shades and rather extravagant formal suits, making her appearance more domineering. She had even dyed her hair a dark tint of purple to match it.
“It’s been long, Rizu.” My father, Hikaru Ichiya, had mild brown hair just like mine and was also a rather handsome figure himself.
“Yes, it has, Ichiya.”
Their greetings were less like a married couple and more like business partners. On the outside, they seemed to be rather distant from each other but that couldn’t be more true. I knew for a fact that they both loved each other very much but they seem to prefer work more than their personal love lives.
I was happy to hear that Mother would be staying in the country for a month or two this time around, allowing me to be able to spend more time with her. I guess even if I tried to act more mature around people my age, I would still miss my mother.
We had dinner at a fancy restaurant, courtesy of my mother’s acquaintance, and headed home.
“So your mother came back last week, no wonder you missed out.”
“Did anything special happen last week?” I asked Madoka.
Madoka, Ikuro, and I were at the library yet again, talking to each other. The library was usually empty so the librarian didn’t really care about the noise we were making.
“Hm? Nothing much, I just went home seeing you were not here.”
Then that means… I glanced over at Ikuro, who looked dejected as he recalled last Friday.
While things were still tense between me and Ikuro and his gang, we seemed like a group of good friends despite our conflict.
“Right! My dad said it was ok for us to go watch that new superhero movie!”
“Really? Then let’s go today!” Ikuro replied enthusiastically.
Madoka’s parents were rather strict with her going out, unlike Ikuro’s parents. This was the reason why we had always met up in the library instead of somewhere else. The movie was a topic we had been talking about for the past few weeks where all three of us wanted to see it.
With Madoka’s father finally giving her permission, we planned to head there right after school.
While heading out, I noticed that Ikuro had a car waiting for him outside, wanting to pick him up and head home.
“Not today Alan, tell father I will be home late.”
“Then let me accompany you, Ikuro-sama”
“It’s alright, we are just going to watch a movie. You can head home first and report to my father.”
The car left not long after Ikuro dismissed him and we headed towards the cinema. This was the first time we had actually gone out together somewhere as a group. If Madoka wasn’t here, I would never have thought I would go see a movie with Ikuro like we were good friends.
“That’s weird...I could have sworn the movie theatre was this way…” Ikuro tried fidgeting around with his phone, looking for directions.
“Well, considering we are on a random street and nowhere near the mall, I can safely say we are lost.” I snarkily replied
“I know that!”
“Hey guys, why don’t we he-Umph!” Madoka’s voice was cut short behind us, prompting me and Ikuro to look back.
I felt someone’s hands, covering a wet cloth on my mouth, I kicked and struggled as I saw two burly men carrying Ikuro and Madoka into a white van before I slowly lost consciousness. I eventually got carried into the van as well and it took off.
We were kidnapped.
“You were kidnapped?!” Suzuha screamed in my ear.
I was with Suzuha at a family restaurant having lunch. After her confession last week, she took the chance to invite me out for lunch. I had no reason to refuse her invitation so I went with her, although it seems that Ikuro and Madoka both knew about it and were giving me smug faces while teasing me.
She was rather curious about how I met Ikuro as we seemed really close and I decided to reveal my past to her.
Ikuro and I met on the worst terms possible and we hated each other for a long time. So it was rather intriguing how we had become who we are today. Madoka changed a lot as well considering her super outgoing personality from back then.
The kidnapping incident was rather well-known considering two heirs for two different famous corporations were kidnapped...along with an unknown child.
“Then what happened?! Tell me more!”
Suzuha stared into my eyes, her own filled with curiosity.
“Boss, what now?” One of the burly grunts spoke to the man sitting beside us.
“Now we ask for ransom. Hehehe. The Nanaho household would pay a pretty penny to get their youngest back. I heard she is adored by her grandfather.”
“What about the other two, boss?” Another grunt spoke to the boss
“They are probably from normal families, leave them and if need be, get rid of them.”
Get rid of us?! I woke up groggily as my eyes adjusted to the situation around us. I couldn’t catch what they were saying but all I caught was that they were planning to get rid of both Ikuro and me.
Calm down...This is real...Why are we being kidnapped...What should I do?
Countless thoughts filled my head as I tried to comprehend the situation we were in. I looked around us and we seemed to be in some sort of run-downed office. There was barely any light getting through the room was filled with 6 people, 3 of which were the grunts and leader.
I pretended to still be unconscious while slightly opening my right eye, looking around. I spotted Ikuro beside me, still unconscious with tape around his mouth just like mine. I couldn’t see Madoka anywhere and assumed she was being kept in a separate room as she was the ‘Ransom’.
Are we going to get saved? Ikuro dismissed his strong-looking servant back to his house and Madoka didn’t seem to have anyone following her today. I caught sight of the clock hanging by the wall.
Around one hour has passed since we left for the theatre. Ikuro and Madoka’s family would probably assume we would still be at the movie theatre for another hour or so. Does that mean we wouldn’t get any help until then?
“...Hey boss.” A long-haired man called out to his boss while glancing in my direction.
“What is it?”
“One of the twerps is awake.”
“!” I was seen… I was too obvious in looking around that I caught his attention!
“Well, what do we have here…Pretending to be asleep eh?”
This isn’t going to end well...