Solus: The Pairing of Fate
The sudden knocking on the door to our room caught us by surprise and the three of us jerked upwards in a panic. Wasn’t this supposed to be a private room? If so, who would it be? As those thoughts ran through my mind, the door opened slightly.
“...Am I disturbing?” Suzuha’s head peeked out from behind the door as she quietly said.
Seeing that it was Suzuha made me sigh in relief. For some reason, I was nervous about having someone come into the private room. What if they caught wind of our conversation earlier on? It just might cause mayhem.
Wait… Suzuha hearing our conversation isn’t any better! We were still keeping it a secret that Ikuro’s Solus could very possibly be Suzuha! If the Mikase Household were to know of this, they would put pressure on the Amagamis for an arranged pairing.
“Suzuha-san, come on in.” Madoka gestured to Suzuha. She was saying this calmly but I could tell that she was rather nervous about whether Suzuha had eavesdropped on our conversation.
“Mikase, did you hear anything when you were outside?” Ikuro went straight to the point.
“Hm? Nothing, I just came after father brought me around. Why? Was there something I was supposed to hear?”
“No no! We were just curious as to why the outside was rather noisy, ahaha.”
“Right...Oh, come to think of it, there was a rather peculiar person that looked to be leaning on the door to the room earlier on.”
“Eh?” I unknowingly blurted out.
“She seemed to be a foreigner and was so pretty too!” Suzuha said as she began looking at Madoka.
“What is it?” Madoka asked.
“Ah, it’s just, the woman earlier seems rather similar to you, having the same hair color and all.”
“!” The three of us responded in shock, causing Suzuha to jump a little.
A foreigner that looked similar to Madoka was leaning on the door, presumably eavesdropping on us? Only one person came to mind upon hearing the description of the mysterious lady…Madoka’s mother…
If her sisters were present at the party today, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise that her mother may be here as well. And that very person may or may not have heard what we said earlier about knowing who Madoka and Ikuro’s Solus partners are. I looked over to Ikuro and Madoka worriedly and saw the look of utter fear on their faces, making Suzuha question if she had said anything wrong.
We must confirm it with her, but looking at the current state of the party, it would be rather difficult to get in touch with her privately. As I tried to assure Suzuha that she didn’t say anything wrong and didn’t have to worry, the door to the room yet again opened. This time, rather abruptly.
Did Madoka’s mother already inform her husband and they were already here? My mind was filled with thoughts about what would happen to us from now on due to this sudden predicament when a familiar person stood by the door.
“I heard my Izu-chan is here.” She smiled devilishly as she stood there with crossed arms.
“Mother…” I let out yet another sigh of relief. It probably wasn’t good for my heart to have so many sudden surprises today.
Ikuro and Madoka let out a sigh when they identified the person to be my mother while Suzuha seemed to have stiffened up and was sitting straight and looking at me nervously.
“?” I was wondering why she looked frightened when I had already introduced her earlier on.
Mother was done with her business here and went to look for me. How she knew exactly where I was still puzzled me. It wasn’t like a year ago when I had that button to inform her of my location.
“Ah~ It feels rather good to loosen down here after talking to all the old geezers.” She laid on the couch beside me and relaxed.
The two men that entered with her were standing by the door and weren't moving, looking to be on guard. Were they bodyguards? What does mother do that requires her to walk around with bodyguards? I don’t think even some of the ministers in this country have this excessive treatment.
“Pfhaha! You could loosen up a bit, no need to be so nervous. I won’t eat you up...maybe.” Mother said to the stiffened Suzuha as she licked her lips.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Hm? Nothing much, I just had the chance to speak to her father earlier on and she was there, she seemed to be frightened by our meeting earlier on.
“You met with her father?! What kind of business are you doing to meet with the Mikase family?” I asked in shock.
“Ah! That’s right, I never really told you about my job.”
“I only know you handle multiple businesses from father, were you some sort of important figure?” I asked, being genuinely curious about my mother, whom I knew nothing of.
I noticed the guards that were standing by at the door shook their heads lightly and one of them seemed to let out a slight chuckle before bucking back up into position.
“What’s this? He didn’t tell you?”
“So...What’s your real job?”
“What if I told you...The Italian Mafia.”
“I would call bull-. Besides, aren’t you Japanese in the first place? Why would you be part of an Italian Mafia?” I replied logically.
Ikuro and Madoka were also rather surprised that she said that while Suzuha seemed to have something to say.
“Izuya...She isn’t part of the Italian Mafia…” Suzuha said meekly.
Well, of course, she wouldn’t be. Suzuha had met her with her father earlier, so she knew what my mother’s job would be.
“...She’s the Italian Mafia boss…”
“Huh?” I looked towards my mother, who was grinning as she made a peace sign.
Utter shock and disbelief. Nonsense, there was no way that was true. Although I didn’t know the absolute truth about her job, I knew she dabbled with multiple businesses.
The Mafia handles many businesses
Judging by how she was always surrounded by bodyguards, I assumed she held a high position in the company or was probably the CEO or director of an overseas firm.
The Italian Mafia is technically overseas...And she is the boss, naturally, she would have guards around her.
My thoughts and comprehension of the situation were conflicting with each other, leaving me in a daze in the room. I had thought of the possibility that this was a joke, maybe cameras were pranking me. That’s right! Ikuro and Madoka probably planned everything to prank me, hence the invitation to the party.
One look at my mother's expression told me all I needed to know. She was saying the undeniable truth. Various emotions came over me at that moment but the one dominant thought I had in my mind at that moment…
How did Dad even catch her?
As I slowly awoke from my zoned-out state, I saw that Ikuro and Madoka were also having a hard time trying to comprehend what Suzuha said. At this sight, I began to slowly accept the truth for what it is. This was the reason why they wouldn’t tell me exactly what mother does…
It made sense to me now why she was always absent throughout my childhood. There was no way a bigshot in the Mafia could settle down in a foreign country and ditch their work now, could they?
After the tense and unbelievable situation calmed down, mother proceeded to have a one-sided conversation with everyone while the three of them seemed to be too afraid to speak up. Taking the chance, I whispered to my mother.
“Mom, I have a favor to ask of you.” I said, close to her ears as I didn’t want Suzuha to hear what I was about to say.
“What is it? A favor?!” And that was offset by mother’s loud remark as she snuggled against my cheeks, making the whole thing pointless.
“Ahh, enough!” I barely broke free, now with a serious look on my face as I faced her.
“Would you be able to set up a private meeting with someone here for me?”
“Oh? It seems that it is something serious. There are probably some whom even I can’t touch but I should be able to handle everyone else.”
“...A private meeting with Nanaho Alina.” Madoka’s mother.
She looked slightly surprised at the party that I requested to meet but quickly regain her composure.
“If it’s her...I can do it. Just give me the time and place.”
As the conversation wasn't whispered, the three sitting opposite of us heard everything. Ikuro and Madoka probably knew my intentions but Suzuha was puzzled by it. I didn’t want her to hear it as it would raise questions. For now, I just hoped she wouldn’t ask too much about it.
Soon...We would need to inform her as well about her Solus. There was no way we could keep quiet about it forever.
In yet another private room, this one belonging to my mother, the three of us sat on the luxurious couch, guards standing by outside the door this time. And opposite of us, was Nanaho Alina, Madoka’s Mother.
I sent Suzuha off after our conversation and assured her I would tell her about everything soon. Luckily for me, she left without questioning much as she flashed a smile at me. As promised, mother was able to casually guide Alina to her private room without anyone in the party noticed something was amiss.
Alina and Madoka both looked at each other as they called out. This didn’t seem like the typical touching reunion or meeting a parent would have with their child. Instead, the atmosphere here was tense and neither party was saying anything.
We had to tread carefully around this conversation. The three of us wanted to find out if Alina had heard what we said about our Solus, especially about Madoka’s partner and Ikuro’s partner. However, we couldn’t afford to give many details about our question in the case where she didn’t hear what we said but found out through us telling her.
This was why we were all surprised that Alina spoke up first while we were thinking about how to initiate the questions.
“...So you found your Solus partner…” Alina calmly said.
Game over...Our efforts to keep it secret, our plan to break the Solus. Madoka’s hope that it would never be revealed, allowing her to hopefully pursue the one she truly loved, had just gone down the drain. We flinched at her statement and all of our heads dropped down in despair.
“Do you like him?”
Or is it?
“Huh?” Madoka responded, being flustered at the question
“Or do you have another partner in mind?”
“N-No! I mean, Yes! I have another partner in mind, and I don’t like my Solus partner one bit!” She replied as she sneaked a peek at Ikuro who in turn blushed at her declaration.
Although I knew Madoka didn’t mean it, I was still technically her presumed partner. So to hear her blatant rejection did hurt my feelings, making me force out a soft laugh.
“...I see,” Alina responded as she saw how Madoka looked at Ikuro and took a glance at me, who was still slightly hurt by Madoka’s declaration.
Alina had probably known the circumstances between the three of us now as she closed her eyes.
“Then I shall carry this to my grave.”
“Huh?” We harmonized.
“But...why?” Madoka poked.
“Because I know the feeling. The feeling of being forced into a Solus partnership.”
Nanaho Alina. She was yet another victim of the elite’s idealism of a Solus partnership. Being the Solus of Madoka’s father at a young age coincidentally, she was brought over to Japan to be engaged with him.
Alina said she knew the feeling. The feeling of being deprived of her freedom, leaving her with no choice but to follow the demand of the elites. She had her own life, her love interests, yet she could never chase them...no, she wasn’t given the chance to chase them.
“...That said, I don’t regret my choices now.” She said with a gentle smile.
“It was true that I was engaged and eventually married a man whom I barely knew. But I grew to love him and appreciate this life of mine. After all, it was only through meeting him that I was able to have you and your sisters.”
Damn it...Even I was tearing up after hearing her past. Being forcefully engaged to someone? That was illegal! But the elites had many ways to skip over such matters. Madoka shed a tear as well while she listened to her mother’s story.
“I want you to live your life. Live the life I couldn’t have. I will do my part in deterring your father and siblings. Although, if I had a request, it would be for you to patch things up with your sisters.”
This was way outside of our expectations. I expected her to tell Madoka’s parents and such, but instead, we gained a dependable ally to help keep our secrets.
“With that said, I hope you take care of our Madoka.” Alina stood up and bowed to Ikuro unexpectedly.
“M-Mother!” Madoka frantically tried to get her to stop as she blushed red.
It was the first time I had ever heard Madoka gave off such a high-pitched voice and her panicking.
As Alina got up from her seat, Madoka frantically followed after her, leaving me and Ikuro alone in the room. After the door closed behind them, the tension in the room died down.
“~Phew” Both of us breathed a sigh of relief.
“That was… nerve-wracking.”
“Tell me about it.” Ikuro slid down on the sofa like me.
“When she told us that she knew about Madoka’s Solus, I felt like something was stuck in my throat,” I exclaimed.
“I felt like the world was ending.”
“At least this taught us an important lesson…”
Never speak of important manners in a public place.
“Hearing from her explanation, it seems that she is only aware of Madoka’s partner and not yours, Ikuro.”
“Yeah...It would be a disaster if she heard that too.”
Keeping it a secret from her husband about her daughter’s partner wouldn’t affect her much as Madoka was her flesh and blood. It would be a different case if it was Ikuro. She couldn’t simply keep it hidden about this knowledge considering who the other party was.
If it were to be ever revealed, it would spell disaster not just for Ikuro, but also for Alina which would lead to conflict between the two families.
Soon after, the party ended with all the guests eventually leaving the hall. This time around, I didn’t leave with Azusa and the others, but instead with my mother while being surrounded by men in black. Certainly, this wasn’t the way I thought things would end.
“Pwah! A beer after all my work is the best!”
After leaving the venue with all the attention on me, I board a fancy car and arrived at a luxurious hotel. Needless to say, the destination of the rooms we were headed to was the royal suite at the top.
Rather than a hotel room, the place seemed more like a classy bar, living room, and mansion combined. It was absurdly big, maybe even bigger than the whole interior of my house. As soon as we entered the room, My mother, Rizuha kicked her shoe off and jumped on the couch. As if it was already ordered, one of the men took a canned beer from the fridge and handed it over to her.
“Don’t just stand there, Izu-chan.” Rizuha said as she lightly tapped on the spot next to her.
I was still stupified by the whole situation and rather nervous about the gazes of all the men gathered here as I made my way there.
That night, I had my long-awaited, yet unexpected reunion with my mother. It was only after 15 years...that I finally knew everything about her job and what she was doing now. Although I was indeed rather taken aback at first, I eventually accepted that nothing is ever normal with my mother.
Tonight was also the night that I got to see my father’s face in a long while. The usually cool and aloof expression on his face twisted in surprise when the video call got connected to me and I was sitting right beside mother.
The day ended and I faced an unfamiliar ceiling. The bed I slept in was so comforting that I had ideas on canceling my meeting today with Madoka and Ikuro at Helix’s office again. Exiting my room, I noticed that there were two men stationed right outside the door.
Had they been here all night?
Their appearance seems rough and had the looks of a tough westerner. One of them spoke up in fluent Japanese, which shocked me.
“Good morning, Izuya-sama. Boss has instructed us to drop you off wherever you want.”
“O-Oh, is that so. I will go get ready now!” I said in a hurry as I rushed to the bathroom.
“No need for the rush. Your comfortability is our priority.”
Nevertheless, I still attempted to hurry up with my morning routine and got ready. I was guided to yet another different car from yesterday in the lobby, where the valet of the hotel had parked our car.
This was the moment where I had finally experienced what my classmates and fellow peers in school feel like every day, being escorted in a branded car to wherever they wanted. Sitting in the car made me realize why they adopted this practice. Besides being super comfortable with the seats, I was able to relax and do whatever I wanted which would never happen if one were to take public transport.
Today’s meeting would be different from last time. That’s right. I had invited Suzuha along today, wanting to explain to her everything that had transpired and finally informing Ikuro about his partner.
It was a rather tough decision to come to but the more information that Helix and his team of researchers had, the faster and better the results would be and they could come up with a solution for our current dilemma.
Being the only one who took a private vehicle to the meeting place, I arrived earlier than the appointed time. I told Ikuro and Madoka to come at a later timing while requesting Suzuha to come earlier as I wanted to break the news to her first.
Despite being early, I found Suzuha waiting at the meeting place 30 minutes before the scheduled time, making me rather embarrassed as I rushed over.
“Sorry for the wait!” I said while panting as I ran over.
“Oh, no worries. I was the one who came earlier than the given time after all.”
Suzuha was in a white one-piece dress, in contrast to her outfit from yesterday which outlined her figure. Her appearance today made her seem rather pure and full of elegance. Her hair was let down as she wore a hat over it and her cheeks seemed flushed as she spoke.
I brought her to the building where Helix’s office was located, avoiding the questions about what was today all about as we boarded the lift.
“Oooh! Is this the rumored other party?” Helix said as he opened the door for me and Suzuha, who was still puzzled by the entire situation.
Entering the office, Helix and his team had already prepared the new and improved Solusia, ready to test Suzuha. I had informed them about our visit today and had requested for them to set it up prior.
As Suzuha placed her hand on the machine. The machine beeped with a green light, similar to Madoka’s result. I expected this and confirmed my suspicions of Ikuro being Suzuha’s partner.
“W-What’s all this...Izuya?” She turned to me after confirming the results with Helix.
I thoroughly explained to her the situation, fully expecting her to get angry with me and even preparing myself mentally for her to slap me.
“I see...It all makes sense now. If that’s the case, I assume my predicted Solus partner would be..?”
“I thought so. Sigh.” Suzuha had a rather relaxed expression compared to what I thought.
“Ah~ I feel relieved.”
“What’s with that face? Ahaha. Did you think I would be worried about all this?”
“Well, aren’t you?
“Of course I am. But I can’t fret over it forever. Besides, didn’t you already mention it?:”
“You are going to break their Solus parings. If you break Ikuro’s pairing, naturally mine would break as well.”
“That’s why I am not as worried. I believe you would be able to do it.”
She wasn’t worried because now she knew her partner. She knew that Ikuro had liked Madoka and wouldn’t even bother with Suzuha. Most importantly, she had trust that I would be able to solve her problems.
As Helix and Roxanna started to do their interview with Suzuha, the doors to the office opened yet again, with Ikuro and Madoka entering.
“Are we too late to the party?”
“Looking at it again, this is a rather strange combination for us. With Suzuha being here and all.”
“I could say the same to you too, Ikuro-kun.”z
“Izuya, so the person you refrained from telling me was…”
“It’s pretty obvious at this point, isn’t it?”
The few of us were gathered at the table as we discussed the partners of our respective Solus.
“I’m glad that my partner was someone I know at least.” Suzuha said as she glanced at Ikuro.
“O-oh, yea. Me too.” Ikuro replied hesitantly after seeing the look on Madoka’s face.
“Don’t worry, Madoka. I am not interested in Ikuro-kun at all. I have my eyes on someone else.” She said as she sneaked a devious look at me, causing me to blush and face the other way.
“~Hoho~” Both Ikuro and Madoka grinned at me, signaling the start of never-ending teasing for many days to come.
“Alright, so let’s get this straight. Madoka’s presumed Solus is Izuya, mine is Suzuha, vice versa.”
“That pretty much sums it up.” I replied to Ikuro.
“And Izuya, your’s is presumed to be Madoka and an unknown third party, right?”
“Yeah...ah.” I didn’t think much of it as I responded when I recalled...I didn’t mention to Suzuha that I had two Solus pairings instead of one.
“Hmmm…” I glanced over at Suzuha, who seems to have a slightly menacing look in her eyes.
“So Izuya has two pairings...Is it even possible to have two in the first place?”
“There is no predecessor! That’s why Izuya-kun over here is a precious sample for us.” Helix walked over amidst our discussion and explained.
“With one being in the country and one far away, it’s a very good opportunity for us to research the pairings.”
“Mr.Helix…” I gestured, asking him to stop…
“Cough...Well, we will be getting busy now, so why don’t you all head back?”
“All right then! We shall head for lunch at the restaurant downstairs, isn’t that right Izuya?”
“Tch!” I clicked my tongue, knowing what Ikuro was planning by going there.
“Is there something wrong with the restaurant downstairs?” Suzuha questioned, not knowing of my history with a certain waitress there.
“Izuya’s natural nemesis. She works there.”
“Nemesis..? And a girl to boot...Alright, let’s head down.”
“Uh...Do I have a say in this?” I asked meekly.
“No!~” The three responded.
As we boarded the lift down, I prayed deeply in my heart that Shizuku was not working today, only to get my hopes crushed the moment we walked into the restaurant.
“Welcome! How many of you are - Geh!” She exclaimed the moment she met my eyes.
“It’s not like I want to come here too.” I retorted as I rolled my eyes.
“...4 people, is it now, right this way.” Despite blatantly expressing that she didn’t want anything to do with me. Her professionalism forced her to put on a smile and guided us to our seats.
“Here’s the menu, take your time ordering.” Shizuku handed out the menu to the other three before roughly slamming it on my palm and walking away.
“~Ah, today just can’t get any worse.” I heard her say as she walked off.
“...and that’s how they met.” Madoka had just finished explaining the relationship between me and Shizuku, which couldn’t possibly get any worse.
“Hehe. Is that so? To think someone would be able to overpower you despite what Madoka said.”
Overpowered. I was once again reminded of the humiliating moment where I was knocked unconscious in a single blow during the spar with Shizuku. The fact that I had to see her again even outside of school made me rather frustrated. As soon as I was about to speak up, our orders came at the perfect time yet again.
“Your order.” Shizuku flashed an exemplary smile as she placed our orders down one by one before placing mine slightly harder on the table, causing me to flinch.
I looked up at her irritably only to be greeted by a scoff as she left. We finished our lunch promptly and were getting ready to leave. I wasn’t planning on staying here any longer, if so, I would probably get even more irritated than I already was.
As I got up from my seat and stood still while waiting for the others, I felt a slight bump behind me.
“Kya!” Shizuku’s voice rang out behind me, followed by the sound of liquid spilling and glass falling.
“Are you okay?!” I turned around frantically.
“Why you! Why would you bump into me?! Was that on purpose for your petty revenge?”
“W-what? Huh?! Why was I the one who bumped into you? You were the one who walked over and bumped into me!”
“Are you alright?!” Suzuha’s voice beside me rang out loud as she walked to the table behind us.
Shizuku and I looked over...only to find a fellow lone customer, drenched from the spilled glass of water as the glass hit him on the head and fell to the ground.
“I deeply apologize! Are you alright, customer?!” Shizuku panicked as she handed napkins to the customer and took a cloth out to clean the water.
In a fit of anger, we argued and had overlooked the unfortunate victim in this accident. A white-haired man who seemed to be around my age was wiping himself dry as he looked up to Suzuha, who was concerned for him.
“Ah yes, I’m fine. No worry - …” He started before coming to a pause.
“?” Suzuha seemed confused by his sudden stare.
“An angel…” He muttered.
The mysterious man stood up and grasped Suzuha’s hand.
“Eh...eh?!” Suzuha, seemingly taken aback by the sudden turn of events, had her cheeks flushed pink.
“Madoka, you alright?” Ikuro noticed Madoka placing her hand towards her head and asked.
“Yeah...I just had a sudden headache… Did I get up too quick?”
The commotion caused the restaurant manager to come out and quickly settled the situation, reimbursing the customer for his meal as he looked ready to reprimand Shizuku’s mistake.
“Wait for a second mister,” I called out.
“Customer! I sincerely apologize! Were you affected by this incident as well?”
Shizuku was shrinking back with her head down as she looked as if she was about to cry.
“Ah no, that isn’t it...The thing is, it was my fault in the first place. I rose too quickly from my seat, causing her to trip and spill the liquid, so please don’t reprimand her. I will pay for the damages.”
The incident wasn’t my fault in any way, considering I wasn’t even moving nor in the way when we bumped into each other, but I decided to take the blame. The last time I was here, she was scolded by the manager for lashing out to the customer, me, and reprimanded.
If she took the blame today as well, she would probably, no...most definitely lose her job here and I didn’t want that to happen.
“I apologize instead.” I bowed towards the customer, who had long let go of the blushing Suzuha’s hand as he turned to face me.
“No need. It was just an accident after all. I’m glad everything is alright.” He spoke, relieving the manager’s worries as well as Shizuka, who was staring at me.
The matter was settled before long and I forcefully paid for the shattered glass and cleaning cost one-sidedly.
“Please...Please go out with me!” The white-haired man exclaimed to Suzuha.
“~Eh?” All of us, including Shizuku who had just finished her shift as we paid, exclaimed.
“U-Uh...I’m sorry!” She bowed to him, rejecting his hand that was put out.
A confession out of nowhere to a total stranger...and an instant rejection by the girl. Ikuro and I silently shed a tear for him.
“Ahaha...I’m sorry. It was too sudden. I will try again next time!” He said as he left.
“...What was all that about?” Ikuro asked.
“I don’t know it myself.” Suzuha replied while still looking at the disappearing figure of the man.
“Hey…” Shizuku approached me and tugged at my sleeves.
“I won’t thank you for what you did…”
“I know. Consider it my debt for the last visit paid.” I said.
“I’m glad that you know.”
The eventful days of the week eventually ended as we made our separate way home.
Solus. The pairing was decided by fate. Some see it as a fantasy while some as a curse. None of us at this time knew how our meeting today would impact the near future. New bonds were formed, new friendships were made and new convictions appeared.
None of us had expected...that our assumptions may have been wrong. This was yet another product of Solus, the pairing that couldn’t escape fate itself. And the people who were challenging their fates.