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22 November 2009 @ 11:16 am
Akai Ito - Eight  
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Title: Akai Ito
Characters: Sho Sakurai, Ninomiya Kazunari, Aiba Masaki, Ohno Satoshi, Matsumoto Jun, OCs
Pairings: Sho/OC, Nino/OC
Status: Ongoing
A/N: Sorry if I take too long to edit the chapters I've already written. I've been focusing on writing the eleventh chapter. I'll try my best to finish this one. Comments are &hearts . (Originally posted: August 7, 2009)

Previous Chapters: One // Two // Three // Four // Five // Six // Seven


He would always remember that it was raining that day.

Coming from school, he would always go straight to the hospital to visit his mother. He’s been doing it every day for more than a month. She might not have said anything about it, but she seemed to be happy even if he usually just sat there and did nothing.

For some reason, the atmosphere in the hospital that day was different. The feeling of anxiety intensified when he saw the empty bed where his mother should have been. He already knew that it could happen anytime, but that didn’t matter. For when it finally did, the impact of the shock and the pain was still as severe. All he could do was stare at his father’s grim face as he told him what happened.


Yesterday was her last visit to her.

After the blur of people and places, he just found himself sitting under the tree in the park as the rain poured down steadily on him. It would have been easier if he cried, but he couldn’t. And that made him feel much worse. Such a terrible person he was.

“Senpai?”

Sho lifted his head and saw Hanako standing there and holding an umbrella over him.

“I... I heard about it from Okaasan, and I thought you’d be here,” she said in a low voice that he could barely hear through the sound of the rain.

He smirked and brushed the wet strands of hair from his face.

“This is... this is like a switch of roles, isn’t it?”

He looked away from her and started to laugh at his own joke.

“Senpai....” She looked worriedly at him and stepped closer.

He opened his mouth to tell her to go home, but instead a sob came out. He knew how pathetic he looked being soaked in the rain and crying in front of a girl, but he couldn’t help it. Funny, but their roles were switched indeed.

She didn’t say anything and just stood there holding the umbrella. But for him, her presence was enough. He thought it was probably the same thing she felt that day in the school rooftop. Probably even the same thing that his mother felt during those times in the hospital.

He stopped crying just around the time the rain had stopped. He still didn’t dare glance toward her direction though he had felt that she had closed the umbrella and crouched down beside him. After a while, he felt something warm against his arm and saw that she was offering her handkerchief to him. He took it without a word and tried to dry himself with the small piece of fabric.

“I think you should go home now,” he told her detachedly. “I might get in trouble if your parents see you here.”

Hanako suddenly stabbed the soft ground with the end of her umbrella then pulled herself up before facing him.

“Let’s go then. You might catch a cold if you stay here longer.”

Sho looked towards the direction of his house and sighed.

“You go ahead.” He carefully folded the handkerchief and handed it to her. “I’ll go after five minutes.”

“Promise that you’ll go home and won’t stay here for more than five minutes,” she said with a frown.

“Yes, yes. I promise,” he said with a dismissive wave.

He thought she would leave after that, but she just stood there and gave him an unnerving stare. When he couldn’t take it anymore, he shot an irritated look towards her. He felt relieved when she suddenly looked down, as if she was thinking of what to say. He was about to tell ask her once again to leave when she lifted her head and smiled.

“I’m sorry, I’m really bad at this,” she said uneasily. “But, Senpai, you shouldn’t feel down anymore. She’s... she wouldn’t like to see you like this... right?”

He rolled down his eyes and stood up.

“Of course I know that,” he replied with a smug look. “Now go. I’ll just be behind you.”

She giggled and turned to walk toward the direction of their houses. He was shivering from the cold, but he couldn’t help smiling to himself. When she was already a few feet away from him, he pushed his hands into his pockets and followed her. He could remember how she would stop and check if he was following. In reply, he would motion that she should keep walking.

After they passed Shimizu-san’s restaurant, it seemed like she slowed down her pace. He didn’t notice it until he almost walked past her.

“Tired?” he muttered as he tried to match her slower pace.

She shook her head and just kept walking as the sun started to shine again. He lifted his face towards the sky and felt much better as the warm rays touched his skin. The pain inside him was still there. He thought it would always be because of the empty space his mother left behind, but it was more bearable now.

“Arigatou, Yoshida.”

The wall he had placed between them seemed to have dissolved at that moment. At that time, he just blamed it on the cold he had contracted. He smiled openly and patted her shoulder, while she could only look back in surprise.

All he remembered after that was a feeling of lightness and relief. Everything else though was all but a blur.


***

Ninomiya Kazunari thought he couldn’t get any happier than this.

To say that the past week had been stressful could be an understatement. He could say it was stressful to the point of being lethal. If he wasn’t toiling in front of the computer, he would be smoking cigarette after cigarette or eating his meal of instant cup noodles as quickly as he could. His only way of communicating with his girlfriend was through quick mails that would take a few minutes off of his supposed sleeping time, which is only for a few hours.

After meeting his 5 p.m. Friday deadline, he was very much ready to be dead to the rest of the world over the weekend. That was until his roommate called him with the most brilliant news. He knew that Daichi had been worried about his self-torture for the past week, but he didn’t know that his girlfriend’s cousin also cared.

“So, Aiba-kun thought that we could go out and drink with Ohno-san and leave you guys alone for tonight.” Daichi tried to speak slowly and bottle up his excitement. He and Masaki had been planning this since Wednesday after they saw Nino working nonstop in his apartment without taking any breaks, not even to insult them.

“Did he purposely forget about Yoshida-san to annoy me?” Nino asked sarcastically as he slung his bag over his shoulder. He left his desk and deliberately bumped into the back of Jun’s chair on his way out of the office. If his friend hadn’t been busy on something, he might have stood up and strangled Nino with the strap of his bag.

“Of course not!” Aiba yelled in the background. He seemed to have snatched the phone from Daichi because his voice was clearer when he spoke again. “I heard she was supposed to leave with Sho-kun early tomorrow morning so we begged her to stay somewhere else tonight.”

Nino wearily stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the ground floor.

“Great. You’ll get your reward later,” he said with a weak smile before hanging up.

Though he wouldn’t want to admit it, he really was excited. Just as he had reached the ground floor, he received a mail from his girlfriend asking him to go straight to her apartment so they could have dinner together. If he wasn’t so tired and if it wasn’t so out of character for him to do it, he would probably be skipping happily out of the building while rainbows, butterflies and glitters followed him around.

He didn’t even remember what happened while he was on the train and while he was walking home. His brain seemed to start working again only when he was already walking towards her door. It felt as if he was walking back to his own apartment with his beautiful wife waiting for him. Nino rolled his eyes and concluded the fact that he had really lost it. After pressing the doorbell, he stood up straight and tried to look fine though he was exhausted and starving.

Natsumi quickly opened the door and smiled when she saw that it was her boyfriend. Though he wouldn’t admit it, her smile was an effective energy booster.

“Okaeri,” she greeted as she took a step back and allowed him to step into the genkan.

“Tadaima,” he replied with a sheepish smile as she took his bag from him. He eyed her apron as he removed his shoes. “Is this some sort of practice?”

“Eh?” she turned back to him with a puzzled look as she was about to walk to the living room to place his bag there.

Nino just shook his head and walked closer to her. He placed an arm around her shoulders and closed his eyes for a while as he took in the warmth of the room and the soothing smells around him.

“It’s great to have some change in the atmosphere,” he said with a sigh of relief.

When he opened his eyes, he saw that Natsumi was looking at him worriedly. She quickly placed a hand on his forehead and then frowned.

“You must be really hungry,” she said with a determined look before pulling him further into the apartment.

After a quick detour to the living room to drop his things onto the closest sofa, they were both in the dining area. She gently shoved him to one of the chairs and then walked back to the kitchen to get the food she prepared.

He hadn’t had a home-cooked meal for days so Nino was indeed ready to cry when his girlfriend started to serve the rice, miso soup, pickles, and grilled fish.

“Arigatou, Na-chan,” he said gratefully as his vision started to be clouded by tears.

Natsumi became more worried because of his strange reaction, but she tried not to show it as she sat on the chair just across the table from him.

“I could probably try to do this every weekend if you want,” she said.

Nino just shook his head and wiped the tears threatening to spill down his cheeks.

“No, you don’t need to bother.” He breathed in the comforting aroma of the food and looked at her again. “I’m sure the guys who hate me would pay just to see me like this.”

She laughed along at his little joke, which lightened the atmosphere about them as they started to eat. They talked about different things and tried veer away from topics regarding work. She had wanted to tell him about her parent’s visit the next day, but seeing how he was that night, she thought she’d just risk having to surprise him and in return, be surprised by whatever his reaction would be.

“Ah, I feel like taking a walk outside,” he said as he helped her with the dishes. “Just stay in the park for a while and then walk back here. What do you think?”

Natsumi placed the dishes back into the cabinet and then nodded in consent. He left to go to his apartment for a while to change into more comfortable clothes. As promised, he was back in five minutes. They held hands as they walked, as if it was something they had been doing for a long time. She just realized that his hands were smaller than she had expected them to be. Nevertheless, it felt as though they really belonged with hers.

Before reaching the quiet park, they’ve walked through some busy streets that Friday evening. But being with each other, they both felt peaceful. Really, Nino felt like he couldn’t get any happier than this.

“You should consider yourself lucky,” he said breaking the silence between them as they neared the park.

“Why is that?” she started to swing her arm and continued despite his attempts to stop it.

“I don’t usually do so much for someone other than myself.”

He finally gave up and swung his arm with hers. They stopped in front of the swings, and Natsumi rolled her eyes.

“I’ve heard that so many times before,” she said as she released his hand and sat on one of the swings.

He sat on the one beside her and reached for her hand again.

“Then believe what you want to believe.” He looked up to the sky and sighed. “Why is it that after meeting really nice girls before, I still ended up with this noisy crybaby who can’t even buy a cheap drink?”

“Huh?” Natsumi reached out to touch his forehead again with her free hand just to be sure that he wasn’t running a fever. “Now I think you really need some sleep.”

“I’m okay.” He swatted her hand and then looked into her eyes. “I should also add that she doesn’t remember her fifteenth birthday.”

She was about to stand up and drag him back to his apartment when she was reminded of what happened that day.

“You....”

“That was the first time that I lent someone my money,”

She could tell that this time, he was telling the truth, since she knew what a cheapskate he was most of the time.

“I came back to return it to you, you know,” she said softly. “I didn’t really see your face clearly so I couldn’t remember.”

“Yeah, your eyes were so swollen, you probably can’t see much through the slits,” he said sarcastically. “But I’m happy we met again.” He was quick to add that after seeing her glower. “Though we fought most of the time, I felt that things were never boring when I’m with you.”

She turned away so he wouldn’t see her tears, but it was too late.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m going to lose my sanity because of you,” she said with a chuckle as she wiped her tears. “It’s really awesome how we met again and things turned out this way, ne?”

They looked into each other’s eyes and smiled before he leaned forward for a kiss.

***

Hanako had planned to stay in a hotel for the night, but Sho’s father invited her to just stay with them so she couldn’t say “no.” Shoichi was, of course, thrilled about it and insisted on sleeping in the same room with her.

“That’s alright ne, Papa?” he asked excitedly after he changed into his pajamas.

“Just promise that you’ll sleep early and won’t bother her much,” Sho replied with an amused smile.

He looked up from his computer and saw that the boy was reaching up the bookshelf for his favorite storybook. He left what he was working on for a while to carry Shoichi up and help him reach it.

“I promise!” the boy chirped after his father set him back down on the floor. He hurriedly ran out of their room and announced to Hanako and his grandfather that he would also be sleeping in the guest room.

“Well then, I guess it’s time for bed.” Hanako stood up from the couch and excused herself as she allowed Shoichi to pull her into the guest room. “Am I going to read that story for you?” she asked him when she noticed the storybook he as clutching to his chest.

Shoichi nodded and jumped to the bed. Hanako laughed when he only managed to get the upper half of his body on the bed. She was about to join him and read the story when she heard her mobile phone ringing. She took it from her bag and saw that it was Toshi calling.

“I’ll just take this call really quick, okay? Don’t fall asleep yet!”

She didn’t even wait for the boy’s reply as she hurriedly left the room. When she saw that Sho and his father were no longer in the living room, she went to a quiet corner and answered the phone.

“Toshi-kun?”

“Ah, I wasn’t able to talk to you earlier. Why did you leave earlier than usual?” he asked in a lively tone. From the sound of in his background, she could tell that he was in a restaurant.

“I’m... well, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to tell you about it.” She bit her lip and then continued. “I’m going to see my parents tomorrow. I thought I’d try.”

The silence from his side made her quite uncomfortable. After their date the previous weekend, they haven’t been able to talk much. She really wanted to talk to him about a lot of things, but she thought she had to settle her problem with her parents first.

“That’s just too bad,” he finally said after a while. “I was thinking of inviting you for dinner.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“Don’t be,” he replied lightly. “So who’s going with you?”

Hanako first thought of saying that Natsumi and Daichi were going with her, but she thought there was no point in lying about it.

“It’s Sho-san, his father, and Shoichi-kun,” she answered in a low voice.

“I see... I’ll just see you on Monday then.”

She was just about to reply when he suddenly hung up. With a sigh, she sat down on a nearby sofa and snapped the phone shut.

“Sorry if my invitation caused you trouble.”

Hanako almost dropped her phone when Sho suddenly spoke from the direction of the bathroom.

“Oh... I didn’t mean to hear that. Again, I’m sorry,” he said apologetically. He quickly placed a towel over his head and started to walk to his bedroom.

He didn’t expect to be the one surprised though when she suddenly walked up to him and hit him playfully on the shoulder.

“You should be sorrier for giving me such a fright!” she exclaimed.

“But—”

“It’s my decision to go,” she said with a reassuring smile. She looked towards the guest room and remembered that Shoichi was waiting for her. “He’s probably anxious to hear the story. Oyasuminasai, Sho-san.”

“Yeah, it’s not good to keep him waiting,” he replied with a chuckle. “Oyasuminasai.”

He didn’t move from where he was standing and just watched her walk back to the guest room. As she was about to turn the knob, he spoke again.

“Don’t hesitate to talk to me if you have any problems. I’ll try my very best to help.”

She turned back to him with a smile and nodded in reply. After that, she opened the door and disappeared into the room.

***

“I wonder how they’re doing now,” Daichi said worriedly after he downed his first glass of beer.

Masaki almost spit out the food inside his mouth after he laughed at what Daichi said.

“Stop having dirty thoughts, Daichi-kun,” he said teasingly before taking a swig from his third glass of beer. “Thinking about it, you should be out with your girlfriend, ne? Instead with the single guys over here.”

Satoshi looked up from his yakitori and blinked.

“I have a girlfriend, too.”

It was Daichi’s turn to laugh this time. He dragged his chair closer to Satoshi’s then placed an arm around his shoulders.

“Ohno-san, maybe we should try to help him get a girlfriend.” He looked at Masaki and then laughed again when he saw him glowering.

Satoshi looked at his companions and then smiled for probably the first time that night.

“Mission impossible,” he shortly replied before pouring more beer for Daichi.

“I don’t and won’t need your help,” Masaki said irritably. He decided to change the topic since it had already gotten to his... nonexistent love life. “Anyway, Sho-kun was easily able to convince Hana-chan to talk to her parents again, ne?”

Daichi smirked at Masaki’s attempt to change the topic. He decided to go along with it though since he knew that at some point, they’ll be back to talking again about his temporary neighbor’s love life, or lack thereof.

“I was very surprised when she told us she was going there this weekend. For months, Na-chan and I had been trying to convince her, but she wouldn’t budge,” he replied with a nod. “Is Sho-san really that good in convincing people?”

“Not really,” Masaki answered after a moment of thought. “But those two have been talking a lot before, so maybe he knew how to make her change her mind?”

“He probably likes her.”

The two men suddenly looked at their quiet companion who was calmly drinking his third glass of beer. Ignoring their shocked expressions, Satoshi continued to speak.

“He seemed really concerned, so he must like her.”

Masaki and Daichi looked at each other and laughed. For a moment, they really took it seriously and forgot that it was Satoshi talking. The older man though seemed unconcerned about his companions’ reactions.

“But thinking about it, there was also a gap between Sho-kun and his father before,” Masaki said thoughtfully. “He should know better what to do.”

“You’re probably right,” Daichi agreed. “He should know better what to do.”

Masaki was about to open his mouth to speak again when Daichi’s phone rang. The younger man excused himself to take the call.

“Who could that be?” Masaki asked curiously as he watched Daichi walk away.

Satoshi just shrugged and continued eating. After a moment, he suddenly looked up and talked to his companion.

“Your family owns a restaurant, right?” he asked with a sudden interest that Masaki hadn’t seen in him.

“Yeah, a Chinese restaurant. Why do you ask?”

“Well, she really likes Chinese food, but I’m no good at cooking nor finding restaurants,” the older man replied as he poured beer into Masaki’s glass.

“Your girlfriend? Well, you asked the right person for help!” Masaki didn’t always feel “needed” and when that opportunity came, he was quite enthusiastic about it.

Satoshi nodded in reply.

“We had a fight the other night because I seldom have time for her these days with all the work that I’m doing. I thought I’d plan something nice for her birthday next week.”

Daichi went back to the table with an apologetic smile, just as Masaki was about to say something.

“Sorry. My mother just asked about something,” he said as he sat back on the chair. “So what are you talking about?”

Masaki pulled his chair closer to Satoshi and placed an arm around his shoulders as Daichi did earlier.

“Ohno-san needs our help to win his girl back,” he said rather dramatically while Satoshi just gave the two of them a blank stare.

Daichi was also suddenly enthusiastic about the idea of helping out his new friend and neighbor, so he also dragged his chair closer to the two men.

“Are we going to plan a surprise? I think I’ll have less schoolwork for this week, so count me in!”

“Great! Maybe we should talk about it in your place, Ohno-san,” Masaki suggested. “We could just continue drinking there. I’m sure, that won’t disturb the lovebirds next door.”

It seemed as if Satoshi was thinking at first, but finally, he finished the beer in his glass and nodded.

“Let’s go.”

***

“He didn’t sleep at all last night, did he?” Sho said trying to fight the smile tugging at his lips as he glanced at the rearview mirror to look at the sleeping pair in the backseat.

They were up early the next day as they had planned. At first, Shoichi was happily talking with everyone in the car, but just after a few minutes, he was sound asleep with his grandfather.

Hanako chuckled and nodded in reply.

“He said he’s so excited, he cannot sleep,” she answered in a low voice. “I heard this was only his fourth time to go there?”

“Yeah, Otousan was always the one who came to visit us,” he replied. “But he wasn’t this excited before since we were at home most of the time. We just went out when we went to visit my mother and my wife’s graves.”

“I... heard about that too,” she said, feeling uncomfortable now that the topic about his wife and mother was opened. “So you’re visiting this time too, right?”

“Yes, and he might get bored again and throw a tantrum at some point.” He stepped on the brakes as the light turned red and then turned to her. “I’m no good at making things like this fun, so I’ll leave Shoichi with you... if things go well.”

“If things....”

“Well, first of all, you have to talk to your parents, right?” he said with an encouraging smile. He turned back to the road as the light turned green.

“And I almost forgot about that,” she said with a nervous laugh. Hanako wasn’t really sure how she feels at that moment. She was scared and nervous, but at the same time she’s excited and hopeful.

“It’ll be fine. Otousan was much scarier before,” he said, chuckling to lighten the atmosphere. After a quick glance towards her direction, he gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder.

Hanako suddenly remembered that day when he did that for the first time. It gave her more hope that things will soon be resolved. She looked out of the window then smiled to herself. After a while, she glanced at his direction again and saw that he was concentrated on driving.

“Sho-san.”

“Hmmm?”

“Why don’t we show Shoichi-kun our secret place in the park?” she suggested. “He’ll enjoy playing in the park too.”

Sho glanced at her and saw that she was more at ease. He nodded in agreement then looked back to the road ahead.

“I wonder how it’s like now.”

***

“I said, no. I’m not going,” Nino said stubbornly over the phone. His day started out right, but now it seems as if everything is going for the worse.

“Nino... you just have to drop by and say hi,” Natsumi argued. “Where’s the harm in that?”

He rolled down his eyes and slouched on the sofa.

“Aren’t we going to take things slowly? I mean, it’ll be great to see your parents again, but this isn’t planned at all.” He glanced at the stack of manga on his coffee table and sighed. For this weekend, it was his goal to finish the volumes he missed, but now it seemed like he won’t be able to do that. “I would love to meet them someday as your boyfriend. Just not today.”

He heard someone talking in the background and assumed that it was her annoying cousin.

“Just stay for tea. Daichi-kun and Masa-kun are also here, anyways.” She tried again, hoping he’d finally give in and say “yes.”

“As if the addition of those two would help me,” he replied sarcastically. “No, I’m not stepping out of my apartment today and that’s final.”

“Kazu....”

“Doesn’t work, Na-chan.”

There was suddenly silence from her end before she heard her sigh and hung up without saying goodbye. Nino then snapped his phone shut and tossed it back to the coffee table where it almost knocked down the stack of manga. He thought this should be the time for him to feel like he had won, but for some reason, he didn’t. Unknown to him, the battle had just begun.

He decided to try continuing what he was reading prior to the call. The part was quite an exciting one that it was such a bother to stop at the middle. After going through three pages of the manga though, hell broke loose.

Some idiot started to knock sharply at the door and ring the doorbell at the same time. As much as he wanted to ignore it, the noise started to piss him off that he had no choice but to stand up and see who his first murder victim will be.

“It’s either you use the bell or you knock, idiot!” he yelled before opening the door.

Natsumi almost banged her fist on his face when the door suddenly opened. Masaki, on the other hand, continued ringing the bell until his cousin slapped his hand away from the button.

“Aren’t we done talking?” he asked as he leaned by the door and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

“It’s not like you’re going to as for my hand in marriage. You’ll just drop by, say hi, have tea, talk for a while, and leave.”

Nino was just about to reply with a retort when Masaki suddenly made his presence known again.

“You also owe us a reward, ne?” he said excitedly.

“If what you want is to end your life, I’d gladly do it for you.”

“Nino!”

“You’re funny, Nino-kun. Anyway, Daichi and I were thinking—”

“Not today.”

“Nino, please just—”

“No, come on, you guys have to listen to this.”

“We are not interested so shut up and let us talk, okay?” Natsumi and Nino exclaimed in chorus.

Looking like a wounded puppy, Masaki backed off and went back to the apartment without a word.

“Look what you did,” Nino said after he heard the door of the neighboring apartment close.

“Me? Aren’t you the one—” She suddenly stopped and took a deep breath. He might be trying to alter the focus of their conversation. “Look, I’m not leaving unless you’re going with me.”

Nino knew how persistent she could be, but he never thought that she would be this persistent regarding this matter.

“Have a sleeping bag ready then,” he replied stubbornly. “I said, not today. I’m sure you understand Japanese.”

Natsumi bit her lip and tried her best not to cry like a kid in front of him as he had before.

“You’re the worst,” she muttered before turning away and stomping back to her apartment.

He stayed where he was for a while to see if she was going to go back. When it was obvious that she wouldn’t, he took a step back and closed the door.

His day was officially ruined. It doesn’t even help that he’s feeling guilty. As soon as he was back on the sofa, he eyed his phone and cursed under his breath.

This is starting to get even more troublesome.

***

“We’ll be back soon, Shoichi,” Sho said sternly as his son started crying after he was told that he has to stay behind with his grandfather.

“But I want to see Hanako-neechan’s house!” he said in between sobs.

Hanako crouch down beside the boy and tried to comfort him.

“Shoichi-kun, you can just come later, okay?” she said softly. “I have to... talk to my parents first. After that, you can come.”

The boy wiped his tears and cast his father a pained look. He hated it every time the adults try to push him out when there’s something important.

“Then you can go play with Hanako-san in the park after we go to the cemetery,” Sho added just so the boy would stay and behave, which he eventually did.

“Sorry that you had to worry about that too,” he said later on as they stepped out of his father’s house.

“No, it’s okay,” Hanako replied. She was about to say something, but the garden in the front yard caught her attention. The garden that Sho’s mother started was still well-kept after all the years that passed. She looked around with a serene smile on her face.

“I guess this garden’s one of the reasons why he wouldn’t sell the house and move out,” he suddenly said as if he had read what’s on her mind.

Sho led the way out of the gate while she just followed. Her steps started to get heavier as they neared her parents’ house. When he reached the gate of the neighboring house, he looked back and saw her a couple more steps behind.

“Here we are,” he said with a sense of finality when she was already standing beside him. “Are you ready?”

She eyed the doorbell and bit her lip.

“I... I don’t know,” she said honestly.

Sho looked at her for a moment and decided to do something out of a whim.

“Hold out your hand.”

“Eh?”

“Just do it.”

Hesitantly, she did as she was told. She thought he was about to give her something, but in the end, he just held her hand. For some reason though, it made her feel a lot better.

“You can hold on to this till you’re ready,” he said as the warmth of his hand enveloped hers.

She looked at the house where she spent most of her life and took a deep breath. As the memories, started to pour in, she thought her mother’s probably starting to prepare lunch while her father watched the television in the living room. She smiled to herself and took a step closer to the gate.

“I can do this.”

He squeezed her hand lightly and smiled reassuringly.

“I know you could.”

***

Sho leaned his back by the gate of his father’s house and looked at his hand. He still couldn’t believe that he did that.

It’s been almost half an hour since she let go of his hand and entered the house with her mother who looked so happy to see her. Despite the positive response from her mother, he knew that she was still worried because of her father.

He looked towards her parent’s house and sighed. She was probably this worried too while waiting at the same spot he was standing on during the time when he decided to finally talk to his father after a major argument with him. Or it was more like Hana forced him to go back to his hometown and talk to his father.

”I won’t hold your hand because I know you’re not into that. But if you need it just tell me.”

He looked up to the sky and frowned. It was definitely going to rain. He was feeling quite restless, but in the end, he decided to go back to his father’s house and wait for her message.

“Where’s Hanako-neechan?” Shoichi looked up from the picture he was drawing when his father entered the living room. “Did you get to see her house?”

Sho sat beside him by the kotatsu and ruffled his hair.

“She’s still talking with her parents, and no, I didn’t get to see her house,” he answered.

“You’ve never been inside? But it’s just next door.”

“It’s a long story.”

He tried not to think about it, but he started to get more anxious as thirty more minutes passed and the rain poured harder outside.

“Do you think she’s alright?” his father suddenly asked as they prepared the table for lunch.

“Should I—”

“Let’s probably wait a bit more,” Sakurai-san said with a dismissive wave.

Sho barely touched his food as his mind wandered off. He knew how strict and stubborn her father was. Though he had confidence in his belief that she could straighten things out with her parents, he also knew that it wouldn’t be easy.

After trying to eat half of his lunch, he gave up on waiting and tried to call her despite the higher possibility of her phone being turned off.

“I saw her turn it off,” Shoichi said when he saw what his father was doing out of desperation.

Sho just ignored what the boy said and continued trying to contact her even though he got the recorded message stating that her phone was unreachable. It did come to a point when he was ready to quit. Fortunately, her phone rang just when the thought of quitting crossed his mind.

“Moshi moshi. Hanako-san?”

“Sakurai-kun?”

He felt more troubled when he heard her mother’s voice from the other line. He was just about to ask her where Hanako was when she started talking again.

“Can you help us, Sakurai-kun?” She sounded like she was already crying. “Hanako suddenly ran away after talking to her father.”

“What time did she leave?” Automatically, he was already walking towards the genkan with his jacket in hand.

“Around five minutes ago. I just found her cellphone on the table. Please help us find her.”

Sho turned around and saw his father who seemed to be preparing to leave with him.

“Don’t worry, Yoshida-san. I think I know where she went.” He promptly hung up after that and held up a hand to stop his father. “Just stay with Shoichi, Otousan. I’ll just go.”

He grabbed an umbrella before leaving the house and running through the rain. She had said before that she always went there whenever she had a fight with her parents. A part of him wondered whether it was wrong to have asked her to come.

The rain continued to pour heavily while the umbrella and his jacket didn’t offer much protection. He looked as if he had run in the rain without them when he finally reached the park.

“Hanako-san?”

He started to call for her name as he approached the place where the old tree was. It came as a surprise to him when he saw Hanako sitting on a tree stump instead. The old tree was gone.

Hanako looked up from the ground when she heard someone approaching. Through the blur of tears and the rain, she saw Sho remove his jacket and hand it to her.

“Here.” He took another step forward so she would be fully sheltered by the umbrella. “You should have called me when things went wrong.”

“Sorry,” she said in a low voice.

She just held the jacket and stared at it. Sho had to sit in front of her and place the jacket around her shoulders. It was very painful for him to see her like that. All he wanted then was to protect her. When she started to cry again, he wrapped her in a tight embrace.

“It’ll be alright, I’m here,” he whispered to her ear.

“It’s only been a year and now it’s gone,” she murmured against his shoulder after a while.

She had stopped crying so he slowly pulled away while she shifted so Sho can sit beside her.

“I’m surprised too,” he said as he sat beside her. He took out his phone and typed a quick message to his father so they wouldn’t worry. “But it’s bound to happen anyway. Like with you having to go back there and talk to them again.”

She glanced at him then leaned her chin on her knees.

“I know I have to,” she said. “But Otousan never changed. Even with Okaasan there, it was impossible to have a proper talk with him.”

The skies started to clear and the rain finally stopped after a while. When the sun finally came out, Sho closed the umbrella and stood up before looking at her.

“Don’t do that again, okay?” he said in a reprimanding tone. “We were very worried.”

She chuckled and held out her hand to him.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “But I really plan to go back, you know. I mean, just like before.”

He smiled back, just because she was smiling again and took her hand to pull her up. He was about to let go of her hand, but she kept holding on to his.

“Um... is it alright if I hold on to this for now?” she asked nervously.

Sho was taken aback by her request at first. But in the end, he just looked at their hands and nodded in consent.

“It’s all yours.”
 
 
go mood: complacentcomplacent
 
 
 
girolle01girolle01 on November 23rd, 2009 04:37 am (UTC)
Wow. Just wow.
I just don't have any words for this; everything about this story is just...perfect. Really. Lol I've been checking like every night since the last chapter to see if you'd posted a new one and when I saw that you had tonight I literally shouted "Yes! Yes!" This is one of the best [Sho/Arashi] stories I've ever read; I'm talking like top two best! This is definitely JDrama material. And I'm not kidding.

~I absolutely LOVE Nino in this. Lol Neener and his mangas. 「“It’s either you use the bell or you knock, idiot!” he yelled before opening the door.」 That is my new favorite quote.

~*sigh* What can I say about Sho and Hanako. I love the flash-backs. I felt so sad when the tree was gone. I wonder if Sho has anything do to with her and her father's animosity (or apart of it)? *hint hint* Lol And is Sasaki-san going to...cause prolems?

~I can just imagine Sho having a son like Shoichi, crying when he doens't get what he wants, and Sho being a [semi-] strict father. I love the ShoxShoichi scenes.

~「“I wonder how they’re doing now,” Daichi said worriedly after he downed his first glass of beer.

Masaki almost spit out the food inside his mouth after he laughed at what Daichi said.

“Stop having dirty thoughts, Daichi-kun,” he said...」 I freaking laughed out loud at that line/image. Haha.

Anyway, I wish for you to post faster but it's well worth the wait. Lol

adriennelouiseadriennelouise on November 25th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC)
Re: Wow. Just wow.
I'm really glad that you're enjoying this fic! Hehe. The nice comments really helps me in writing so thank you so much.

Hmmm... About Sho, well not really. As for Sasaki-san... it'll be answered in the next chapters. Hehe.

LOL. I just thought it might be something that Aiba would say. xD

I'll really try my best to get my muse to work and post faster. Hehe. Thank you very much again for your kind comments. ^_^
happyhapeehappyhapee on November 24th, 2009 08:39 am (UTC)
Kyaaaa... This chapter brings back wonderful feelings. xDDD

I love you all over again. LOLOL.
happyhapeehappyhapee on November 24th, 2009 08:57 am (UTC)
Oh and the last line... MADE OF AWESOME!
adriennelouiseadriennelouise on November 25th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
Haha. And I'm glad that we could like trade chapters and scenes and flail together. xD