Genre: General; Drama; Action/Adventure; Friendship
Summary: They had an unbreakable bond. They were Club8. But when one member departs, they realise that their friendship will either save or break them.
Club8. Jacky knew its history; In fact, he was part of its history...
Jacky knew its history; In fact, he was part of its history.
A sign tilted above the door, spelling its name and flickering in eerie blue neon lights. Moths flitted, attracted to the lights and danced in crescents, some dancing to their own demise. The lights were a bit too early to be on, but Jacky knew that they hadn't been switched off since the previous night. Although the sun had risen and faltered, time had frozen.
Entering the club, Jacky wiped his shoes on the straw mat and turned off the switch. Jacky could no longer hear the buzzing of electricity.
Club8 wouldn't be in service that night.
His stomach felt heavier as he stepped down the wooden, rotting staircase. It was not because he was unfit, because then he wouldn't have a hard abdomen. The real reason was because his stomach was twisting in anxiety. Jacky didn't know what to do. Things had taken an unexpected turn and he wasn't ready to face them.
The wail startled him. Within seconds Jacky had pulled out his knife, waving it into the air, preparing for a fight. Jacky's eyes adjusted to the dim lighting.
There, a few meters away from where he stood, was a pram – his niece's pram.
Feeling foolish, he scratched the back of his head and lowered the weapon and pocketed it back into the inside of his coat.
"Kohana-chan!" he exclaimed, picking up the baby and softly nuzzling his head onto her tiny face. He flashed his uneven toothy grin at her and instantly her crying ceased.
Although he no longer had a problem with the high-pitched wailing, Jacky could distinctly scent a foul smell oozing from Kohana's nappy. There were traces of wetness on his cheeks when we had rubbed his face against Kohana's face. From what Jacky could tell, Kohana had been left unattended for quite a while.
"Let's get you cleaned up."
After changing the baby into a new nappy, Jacky ditched the pram and cradled Kohana in his arms. He made his way quietly down the staff-only hallway and frowned when he saw that the storage room door was closed.
Jacky pressed his ear against the door. To his surprise, there was an absence of fists slapping against a punching bag, but a different sound. That cancelled Ace out from his suspicions. It was thumping, loud rhythmic thumping that Jacky had never heard before - so he kicked the door open.
Immediately, he recognised the person who was creating the noise.
Unaware that Jacky had intruded, Gum's attention was focused on the punching bag. Using a long bamboo stick, Gum skillfully threw violent hits at the punching bag from various directions. With every beating, Gum's untamed wavy hair would fly up and Jacky could glimpse sweat glistening on his face. Not only his face, Gum was sweating all over. Gum's loose white tank top was drenched in sweat, drenched to the extent that the tank top was sticking to his body and outlining his toned body.
Kohana started crying again.
"Jacky," Gum said. His head abruptly snapped at Jacky's direction, clearly caught off guard.
Giving a quick nod, Jacky greeted Gum. "Hey."
Sighing, Gum leaned back on the pile of boxes. He brushed the accumulated beads of sweat on his forehead with the back of his hand. "So you're finally back."
"Arsenal's going to have your head if you damage any of those boxes," Jacky replied.
Gum stepped away from the boxes, heeding to the words that Jacky had spoken. Nobody liked messing with Arsenal's belongings, especially when Arsenal possessed quite the temper. Although the room was meant to be for only drinks and other storage club supplies, Ace had sneaked in a boxing bag and Arsenal had stacked boxes, filling almost half of the room's space.
"Where exactly is everybody?"
"I...I-I don't know," Gum weakly answered. "Before you left, Arsenal and Toppo followed those guys and they haven't returned ever since. Mac disappeared off somewhere. And myself? I had to kick all the clients out of the club."
Jacky noticed that Gum hadn't mentioned the other two. "What about Johnny and Ace?"
"They haven't moved, Jacky. After what happened, they've been at the bar ever since."
Normally, Gum was the type of person who preferred company. Gum was never fond of being on his own. He, like everybody else, was coping in his own way.
"Are they still here then?"
"No," Gum shook his head, sheepishly. He bit his bottom lip, his small mole slightly protruding under it. "I really have no idea. I've been locked up here ever since."
"After lunch." Gum paused to think. "Around two."
Jacky glanced at his silver wristwatch, and when he saw both arrows joining together to make a straight line, an eyebrow arched. It was already six. Four hours that Gum hadn't gotten out of the room. Then again, Jacky was certain that Gum had been telling the truth since Gum had been holed in the storage room, therefore the funky smell inside was almost identical to Kohana's soiled diaper. The other boys had often complained about Gum's infamous stench whenever he would sweat.
"You need to get something to eat." Jacky ushered Gum out of the storage room while fighting the urge to pinch his nose.
Together, they walked through the staff-corridor and passed multiple rooms. They finally arrived at the public area of the club.
The dance floor was empty.
During non-service hours, Takeshi would have them bring the dusty maroon leather couches and snooker tables onto the dance floor to fill in the space. Where as whenever the club was open, the dance floor was filled with clashing bodies moving to Toppo's music. With the furniture not having been returned, the place appeared dull and lifeless.
Beer bottles, torn flyers, trampled straws and other miscellaneous debris littered the floor. As Jacky crossed the dance floor, he could feel his polished shoes sticking to particular patches of the un-mopped floorboards. Gum ambled close behind him in a snail-like pace. Jacky was sure that he was doing it intentionally.
They were getting something to eat. Yes, that had been the plan - but the only section in the club that had food was located at the bar. Since Club8 had no kitchen, which meant that they had no choice but to bump into the other pair at the bar.
…And there they were.
Sitting on steel stools at the bar were two figures. Jacky could tell who figures were by merely taking a brief look at their hunched backs. The figures were not even talking or acknowledging each other at the bar, sitting there with empty bottles of rum and whiskey surrounding in an disorderly array.
Gum hesitated tapped Jacky's on the arm. He bent forward, whispering a suggestion into his ear, "I think that we should go eat somewhere else."
Jacky vigorously shook his head. If they continued to avoid the topic, nothing would come out of it. All eight of them had been open to each other and if they were to gradually shut and isolate themselves, things would not be the same. Jacky didn't want that to change. He always had thought that accepting and confronting a problem for what it was, was the best way to solve something. Gum wasn't going to stop him.
"Boys!" Jacky said, loudly. He heard Gum give a frustrated groan. "Ace! Johnny?"
People had often told Jacky how he always approached things in a manly and burly way. Some had even pointed out how obnoxious he appeared at times – but Jacky disagreed. He believed that by speaking in a lively voice was the appropriate way to communicate and openly express his opinion no matter what obstacle he had to deal with.
"Have you had something to eat, or have you been drinking all day?" Jacky asked. He delicately passed Kohana into Gum's arms.
They didn't bother to respond. Aiming for a new tactic, or 'being a pain' as Mac would often describe him as, Jacky jumped over the counter. He peered at their faces, ready to say something but he stopped. Seeing them how they were shocked him.
Jacky had never seen them look so terrible.
Ace's unkempt jet-black hair covered his drooping eyes, dry lips pursed slightly open. His beige shirt was stained all over with alcohol and his leather jacket was propped under his chin as he supported his head on it. Jacky had always considered Ace fairly handsome, but at that moment he had looked like a complete and utter mess. Jacky noted that the shade of Ace's skin was darker. Ace naturally had a dark tan, but when he'd have many drinks he turned a darker colour.
On the other hand, Johnny had the opposite reaction. Whenever Johnny would drink, he was known to turn pale. Johnny was pale, alright. Jacky could have sworn that all the blood had left his body from how white he Johnny was. Johnny's hair was gelled back, like it always was, but strands of hair fell out. The picture was wrong. Johnny always had his hair brushed back perfectly since he had a compulsion for combing it every five minutes. His head rested on his right hand and while Jacky stood in front of him, there was no glint in his dull eyes.
It was as if Johnny hadn't even realised that Jacky was there.
Then again, perhaps they both chose not to speak to Jacky after how rough he had been at the scene. Perhaps they were purposely giving him silent treatment.
Jacky had relied on his instincts. It wasn't his fault. Everything had happened so fast and then it had been all over. There was nothing that could be done. What had happened, had happened. Ace and Johnny didn't react to his presence, made Jacky think about it again. Guilt was welling up, and remorse. Sure, sometimes Jacky did things without thinking but she was dead before he had acted out.
Behind Ace and Johnny, Gum signaled for him to get the food and go.
Jacky wouldn't accept it. He couldn't. He needed his brothers to talk to him. As much as he needed them, he knew that they needed him too. Perhaps it was his fault. Usually whenever any of them fought, they laughed it off – but this time was different. Much different…
He couldn't stand the silence any longer. "Do you boys want me to make you something to eat?"
"Not now," Ace uttered in a deep husky voice. Although it was a short reply, Jacky took Ace's response a sign of improvement. It had been better than receiving no response at all.
"You should still get something down. Ai-chan wouldn't want that."
Ace looked up, staring directly at him with a cold glare and Johnny...Johnny was shaking his fists in tight balls on the counter. As soon as he had said her name, Jacky realised what a big mistake he had done. The atmosphere had been tense already and Jacky had just made it worse.
Jacky wasn't the type to admit to his mistakes. Heck, he wasn't the type to apologise at all. He never went out of the way to ask for forgiveness, but that time called for him to.
"You think that saying sorry will bring her back?" Johnny hissed, his whole body was trembling now.
Jacky was at a loss of words, unsure what to say back. Luckily, Gum jumped in. "Johnny, you know it wasn't Jacky's fault. What he did didn't kill her." Licking his lips, Gum continued, "She died already, well before he-"
"- carried her body away? Is that what you mean, Gum?" Johnny growled in a dangerously low voice. "And what gave him the fucking right to decide? What gave him the right to carry Ai away from me without telling me first? Huh!"
Jacky flinched. He had never heard Johnny so bitter before. Out of all of the boys, Johnny had been the my-paced, soothing person amongst all their conflicting personalities. He was kind, understanding and always there chuckling – but it had changed in the past twenty-four hours. Everything had changed.
Gum mouthed a 'no' when he saw Jacky open his mouth to reply. Nevertheless, Jacky ignored Gum's warning and spoke back, "We needed to get Ai-chan out of here. We needed to take her body to a safe place."
Yes, that had been Jacky's initial thought. All he had in his mind at that time was to get Ai's body out of the club, away from the chaos and keep her intact for a proper funeral. If Jacky had not had acted, something worse might've happened to her body.
"We?" Johnny spat. "From what I recall, you decided it on your own."
He wasn't going to deny it. Jacky had lifted Ai's body out of the club once she had surely passed away. He hadn't done it without talking it properly out with everybody. Jacky knew that was why Johnny seethed with resentment. When he had lifted her body, away from Johnny's tight embrace, Johnny had bolted after them. Jacky remembered vividly how Gum, Arsenal, Toppo and Mac had to restrain him from getting to her body. And Ace…Jacky couldn't forget Ace's face either. He had been expressionless.
"I really am sorry, Johnny." Jacky was sincere, but sincerity wouldn't save him. His tone was softer. "Takeshi and Reiko organised for Ai's funeral today. You can see her then."
"No. You're misunderstanding me, Jacky. You don't understand." With each second that past, Johnny's voice gradually became louder. "She was my wife."
"I know, I-"
"What gave you the fucking right to decide this on your own? She was my wife. You took away my wife."
Jacky closed his eyes, massaging between his eyes. Yes, Ai-chan had been Johnny's wife, but had Johnny forgotten?
Ai-chan was like a sister to all of them. Jacky had lost a sister as well.
Jacky still could feel Ai's blood in his hands. Carrying her fragile up the steps into the van. Those moments had been something that he wished to never remember, but he couldn't. It was wrong. The fact that Ai wasn't moving was wrong.
He remembered cradling her, feeding her a bottle of milk to how she was useless at playing hide and seek from how her pigtails would sprout out from behind the leather couches. How she'd laugh and spontaneously jump on his back, which had angered him multiple times and had Ace stepping in between them from Jacky giving a slap on her head. She was mischievous, stubborn, determined and always holding her ground. Jacky had practically raised her along with the other boys.
And now she was gone.
"If that's all you want to say to me, then I'm going," Johnny said. "I really don't want to see your face right now."
Jacky reached over the counter and put a hand on Johnny's shoulder. "DON'T TOUCH ME!" The bottles shattered next. When Johnny had swiped Jacky's hand out of the way, he had caused the bottles to break all over the counter. Shards of glass scattered everywhere and it was luck that none of the shards had hurt any of them.
Johnny blankly looked at the mess that he had caused and gave a grunt, storming away from them. It was apparent that Johnny had consumed a large intake of liquor since despite how hard he tried to rush away, he would stumble at almost every step he would take.
Gum exchanged glances with Jacky and when he got Jacky's nod, Gum chased after Johnny. Despite holding Kohana, Gum was able to drape Johnny's arm over his shoulder and soon had left behind a corner.
Jacky didn't know how long he had been staring at the direction where Gum and Johnny had disappeared. He snapped out of the momentary trance when her heard gentle tingling. His eyes followed where the sound was coming from and suddenly remember that Ace was still sitting in front of him.
The tingling sounds had been emitted by Ace.
Jacky gave a sharp shout when he saw droplets of crimson blood pattering onto the counter. While Jacky had been staring off, Ace had been playing with the remaining glass fragments of glass. He was taking pieces of them, collecting the glass into his bloody right hand and dropping them back onto the counter.
Hastily grabbing a dry checked towel from one of the drawers, Jacky shook the shards out of Ace's hand and wrapped the towel around his hand.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Jacky's voice shook. "Stop it!"
Ace acted as if he hadn't heard him. He shook the towel away and reached for an unbroken bottle of whiskey. Just as Ace was about to pour another shot, Jacky took the bottle away and gripped Ace's wrist before tying the towel around his bleeding hand again.
Ace slurred, "Jacky..."
"No. You're not drinking another one"
"...I-I don't know what to do anymore."
Everybody thought of Ai as their own sister, but to Ace - she was his real biological sister. In the orphanage, they were the only blood-related siblings that existed. Ever since Jacky had known Ace, he had always been playing the over-protective brother.
What scared Jacky the most was what Ace had spoken. Ace was a strong character, always knowing what he wanted. In some sense, he was similar to Jacky when it came to openly expressing their opinions. If Ace didn't like something, he'd say it. If he liked something, he'd say it. If he disagreed, he'd tell you so and if you both had a disagreement, he'd fight and sulk for hours until you listened to what he'd said. To see Ace at a loss of words, and not know what to do made Jacky feel uneasy.
"Don't say that."
Ace raised his hand for Jacky to pour another shot, but they were interrupted.
Jacky almost gave a bitter grin when he saw Toppo, Arsenal and Mac arrive. They made their way to the bar.
Toppo stood out the most. He had a knack for fashionably standing out. He was still attired in a bright yellow jumper and umbrella-patterned shorts. Jacky had a hunch that Arsenal must have been annoyed when Toppo had chosen to accompany Arsenal track down the men who had killed Ai. Even an astronaut from outer space had the possibility of confusing him with the sun.
Arsenal's shoulder-length hair framed his face, and his gaunt eyes were popping out. While Mac looked like he was about to pass out by how he had already yawned consecutively in the past minute. In fact, all of them looked exhausted. From the looks of things, nobody had gotten any sleep. The all had had a sleepless night. Not to mention that Jacky could tell that none of them had changed their clothes either.
The first to see the shards of glass was Arsenal. He raised an eyebrow, eyes darting back and forth between Jacky and Ace. Jacky was grateful that Arsenal didn't interrogate him.
"Hey guys. I'm sorry for all this. Apparently I went out of line. Johnny's mad at me. He's somewhere in the club with Gum and Kohana," Jacky immediately informed. It was to save them from asking, but he also wanted to update them on what had happened before he would listen to their story.
"You did," Mac said without skipping a beat, lips neither grinning or frowning. "But Johnny went out of line the most because he lost it."
"Oh, you can't blame him," Toppo added, pushing his white-framed glasses higher up the bridge of his nose. "Jacky, don't worry. Johnny will realise sooner or later."
"You're too optimistic some times, Toppo."
Before Toppo could reply, Jacky questioned, "Did you find out where those assholes are?"
"No," Mac said, grimly. He filled in, "By the time I had caught up with Toppo and Arsenal, we had lost track of them. We've been searching around, trying to snitch information from different groups all thanks to Arsenal. There's nothing much that we really can do."
"Although we haven't heard much, I'm pretty sure I have an idea which yakuza did it."
Jacky studied Arsenal. No one ever interrogated Arsenal about how he knew a vast amount of information whenever it related to the yakuza. That was one of the things that had always been a mystery to all of them.
"They're going to be after as soon. It's a miracle that they haven't even come back to trash this place yet. We need to gather all our belongings and evacuate from here. There's no doubt that they're going to strike again. Osaka's not safe for us anymore."
"Why?" Jacky tilted his head, not aware what Toppo was trying to say. "What do you mean by that?"
Jacky didn't want to move. They had finally found a place where they belonged, but now they were going to abandon it. It was his home.
Club8 was their home.
Mac grumbled, "Don't know if you saw, but Arsenal wanted to be a man and had to shoot two men. He even went to the extreme of stabbing a guy in the eye with a fork."
That had go to hurt, Jacky thought.
Arsenal scowled. "Don't put all the blame on me. We all fought against those pricks."
"But really…a fork?" Mac emphasised.
Folding his arms, Arsenal rolled his eyes and didn't use the energy to reply to Mac because they all knew that the conversation would go on and on.
"They deserved it."
Jacky had forgotten that Ace had been sitting there. It had been the first time that Ace had spoken since the three had returned. His voice was chocked up, but they all had managed to comprehend the words that he had spoken.
"So what will we do? Are we going to keep hiding from them?" Jacky said.
"I say we fight. I say we get them back."
That had been Ace again.
Arsenal, Mac and Toppo exchanged glances with Jacky, and Jacky shook his head. No one made a move but Toppo. Toppo brushed the glass from the stool next to Ace and sat besides him and rested a hand on his back, whispering comforting words to him. There were moments that Jacky was thankful that he Toppo was his friend. Toppo tended to go out of his way to cheer a person up.
"Ace has got a point."
That time all heads turned to Mac.
Jacky cried, "Have you lost the plot?"
"If you think about it. We killed quite a handful of their man. We're only seven men. They've got the whole yakuza," Mac explained. "Sure, we can keep running from them but we can't run forever. And…I want revenge."
"As do I."
"I want to get back at those fuckers," Ace swore, lividly.
Toppo was the only one who seemed to disagree, but it was majority's vote. It had always been like that ever since they were kids. Jacky wanted to get revenge as well as Mac, Arsenal and Ace. Jacky wasn't certain if Gum would agree, but he was definitely sure that Johnny would be on their side.
Everything cooled slightly down after Toppo, Arsenal and Mac had returned. Toppo decided to distract everyone into cleaning up while he prepared cup ramen for everybody. Mac went to see if they were hungry, but only Gum and Kohana came back.
"Where's Johnny?" Jacky asked when Mac took the stool next to him.
"He's refusing to talk to me. Gum said that he didn't utter word to him either," Mac said, twirling his chopsticks into the ramen and slurping it up.
Jacky looked around him. Toppo was giggling as he tried to force-feed Ace, who kept turning the opposite direction and was getting more irritated by the second. Arsenal was sipping on the soup. Gum's ramen was in front of him untouched since he held a bottle of processed milk for Kohana.
Staring at his own ramen, Jacky watched the steam float upwards. He played with the ramen with his chopsticks. He didn't really have an appetite, but he forced himself to eat it anyway.
Midway through his ramen, Mac kicked him on the leg. "I'm sorry," he said.
"What?" Jacky didn't get it. He was bemused to why Mac was saying sorry.
"You were the one that was the most keen about changing Club8 to an Italian Restaurant, and now it's not going to happen."
For the first time that day, Jacky cracked a real smile.
Club8 was going to be closed down. Jacky was aware of that, but he also knew that it would take something stronger to separate all the boys in the orphanage.
To be honest, it's been a very LONG time since I've written anything. If you count this as something. I wrote fanfiction for many years when I was younger, then I converted to writing my own stories for a couple of years. And recently, for a year, I've been on a hiatus.
The result of this? A borderline fanfic? Haha.
What motivated me to finish writing this first chapter was because I wanted to complete it before the 8uppers movie is released - mainly because I want to compare my plot with the actual movie's plot. I hope that you've enjoyed reading this so far. It's kinda depressing. Thanks going out to many people on my stringless_kite f-list for encouraging me to continue this.
Anyway, thanks for reading! Comments are appreciated ;)
(Chapter Two: Johnny)
(Chapter Three: Mac)
(Chapter Four: Gum)
(Chapter Five: Toppo)
(Chapter Six: Ace)
(Chapter Seven: Arsenal)
NOTE: The plot/characters/setting was created before I had watched the 8Uppers film. This story is based from the trailer of 8U & the Prologue of Patch.