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29 June 2009 @ 03:12 pm
Akai Ito - One  
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Title: Akai Ito
Characters: Sho Sakurai, Ninomiya Kazunari, OCs
Pairings: Sho/OC, Nino/OC
Status: Ongoing
A/N: Uh.... A Sho fic.... Finally? LOL. Just so you know, this is the first fic that I wrote for this fandom, and I’ve only made this public now. I’m really nervous. xD Oh well, comments are very much welcome. Enjoy! :) (Originally posted: February 10, 2009)


“Hanako, don’t forget to bring your umbrella!”

She frowned as she watched the pouring rain from the entrance of the school building. Through the muddled sound of the rain, she could almost hear her mother scolding her again. If she didn’t volunteer to help arrange the books in the library, she should have been home already. She sighed and looked at the almost-deserted school grounds.

The rainy weather is just too troublesome, I guess.

The dull gray sky started to get darker as the time passed. The rain wouldn’t stop anytime soon. She really needed to get home to finish her Science project. She also has to study for the exams. She thought she’d just ignore whatever her mother would say so she’d have more free time this weekend.

She took a deep breath and braced herself. After placing her school bag over her head, she started running home. She just assured herself that it’ll all be over in around fifteen minutes.

“Oi!”

Hanako was just out of the school gate when she heard a familiar voice. Before she could turn around to see who it was, she felt that the large drops of rain stopped falling on her. She looked up and saw a red umbrella above her head. What really surprised her though was to see who was holding the umbrella.

“Sakurai-senpai!” she said in surprise.

She had known Sakurai Sho for two years already. He was two years ahead of her in school, and he is also her next door neighbor. Her parents had always warned her about him. He had to repeat two years in high school because he got into fights and trouble every time. Even she couldn’t remember how many times she had seen his sore, bloodied face.

That rainy afternoon, there was a bandage around his hand that was holding the handle of the umbrella. There were also a few bruises on his face. She didn’t think he was scary, though. She just never saw him that way. She thought that was the reason why she still greeted him every morning when she sees him on her way to school.

“On your way home?” he asked.

She just nodded absently because she was too shocked that he was talking to her. In the two years that she had known him, the only times that they had “talked” was when he greeted her back in the morning, which was quite rare.

“We could share the umbrella,” he said as he stepped closer to her so she's fully sheltered by the umbrella. “I’m on my way home, too.”

They started to walk home after he said that. There weren’t a lot of people walking on the streets then as the rain poured down harder. Had she run without an umbrella, she’d surely be soaked when she got home. She took out her handkerchief and started to wipe her arms and her face dry.

“Ah, Senpai, y-you have a part-time construction job, right?” she tried to ask after a while when she couldn’t take the silence anymore. Hanako felt like she was testing her footing over a sheet of ice.

“I already quit,” Sho answered with a frown. “Shimizu-san said I could help around at his restaurant. I’ll start tomorrow.”

She could imagine how the kind-faced Shimizu-san offered the job to him. Her friend, Natsumi, thought her father was always too nice to people, it’s troublesome. Sho had already caused trouble in his restaurant once, but he was still willing to let him work there.

“I see. I hope everything goes well.”

He just nodded and looked away. They continued to walk in silence, but she felt that it didn’t feel as awkward as it was earlier. She wondered how her father would react if he sees her walking with him. She was sure he would throw a fit.

“What’s so funny?”

Hanako looked up at him again and saw that he was smirking. She thought it was the closest thing to a smile that she saw on his face. She just shook her head and suppressed a giggle.

“I just thought you’re the last person I know who’d rescue me from the rain.”

He didn’t say anything after that. He just spoke again when they’re already in front of her house.

“Now you know I’m not such an awful person.”

She found herself smiling at him.

“I’ve always felt you weren’t,” she replied. She held her bag with both hands again and prepared to place it above her head. “Arigatou, Senpai. I guess I owe you one.”

“Iiyo,” he simply replied. He was looking towards his house, so she wasn't able to see his reaction.

“I’ll see you tomorrow!” she placed the bag over her head, opened the gate, and ran to her house without looking back.


***

That dream again.

The alarm was blaring at her ear, but she squeezed her eyes shut and stayed under the covers. The rejected manuscript lying on her bedside table would surely be the first thing she would see once she gets up. She didn't want to think about what happened the previous day. It would be enough to ruin her morning. Stubbornly, she stayed where she was and allowed herself to sink under the covers.

Hanako swore then turned off the alarm. It was the third time this week that she had dreamed about that day. She wondered why she had been dreaming about something that happened around six years ago.

That was one of the few times that she was able to talk with Sakurai Sho that way. That same year, he left their town and went to Tokyo. She had never heard from him after that.

She was sure though that he—or someone who hadn’t seen her in the last six years—wouldn’t recognize her anymore. She no longer was the smart, optimistic, and bright-eyed girl that she was before. She guessed it all ended when she chose her own path and didn’t allow herself to be forced to do something she didn’t really want.

“Hana-chan!” she heard Natsumi call from the kitchen, where she was surely preparing breakfast. “You better get up now!”

She was about to ignore that, but the smell of omelet wafted into her room. The growling of her stomach didn’t help.

“Ah! Fine, I give up!” Hanako yelled as she jumped out of bed.

It was like that every day. She was not sure if things will ever change for her. Six years ago, she thought she could go through everything without much difficulty, as she always had. But at that moment, she was stuck. She didn’t know where to go next. Getting out of bed and facing another day was such a pain.

“That was quick,” Natsumi said with a sly smile while she watched her friend drag herself to the kitchen.

“You always win,” Hanako frowned and slouched on a chair. “I just want to sleep, but the food smells nice. Omurice?”

Natsumi nodded and transferred the omurice to a plate. Hanako stood up to take her plate then returned to the table.

“Should I draw a smiling face, Na-chan?” Hanako asked lazily as she opened the ketchup bottle.

Her friend laughed.

“Just draw anything you feel like drawing,” she answered. “You’ll eat it, anyway.”

Hanako ended up with zigzag lines of ketchup on her omurice.

“Now it’s like a yellow and red zebra,” she said with a giggle. She cut up a piece and tasted it. “Hmm… Delicious as ever. No wonder your father owns a restaurant.”

“Glad you like it,” Natsumi replied. There was a pause before she asked her the question she dreaded to hear. “Your interview’s today, right?”

“I’m still eating, Na-chan!”

“You don’t have to worry much about it. I knew someone who also failed once, but passed the second one without problems.”

“I’m no longer going to hear and talk about it,” she said stubbornly. After that, Hanako stuffed her mouth with half of the omurice on her plate.

Natsumi complied, and she was finally able to eat in peace. It was only when she was almost done with her breakfast that the other woman talked again.

“I forgot to tell you that Daichi-kun is moving here to Tokyo this week,” she said excitedly. “He said he was able to transfer to his dream university, so we’d get to see him more often.”

“Good for him,” Hanako answered after pouring a cup of coffee for herself. “It would be nice if he’d also find a place near ours.”

“He’s actually moving next door.”

She looked up and saw that Natsumi was frowning. Hanako knew how she hated their next-door neighbor, Ninomiya Kazunari. He’s two years older than them and they used to attend the same university. He is now working in a well-known advertising company. She remembered that his mother and Daichi’s mother are good friends.

“Ninomiya-san agreed? Do you think Daichi-kun could stand him?”

Natsumi sighed and stood up to get something from the fridge.

“Yes. And I still couldn’t understand why Daichi-kun adores him!”

“To each his own, I guess.” Hanako shrugged and downed the rest of the coffee in her cup. “You fought again?”

Natsumi came back to the table where she suddenly slammed down a carton of juice. Her friend just watched as she sat back down and calmly poured herself some juice, as if nothing happened earlier.

Here we go again.

“I’m no longer going to hear and talk about it,” she said flatly before taking a sip of juice.

“Hai, hai. Thanks for the food.”

Hanako stood up and gathered their plates. Soon after, she was washing the dishes. Natsumi was still quietly drinking orange juice as she stared blankly at the newspaper.

“Ne, Hana-chan,” she said suddenly after a long silence.

“Hmm?”

“Do not quit, okay?”

She chuckled. It’s surprising how she had always whined about things, but never quit. The idea of doing just that was tempting, but she didn't know what to do after quitting. She had made this decision long ago and there was no turning back now.

“There’s no point in doing that, anyway,” Hanako mumbled. “Just make something special when I pass the interview, okay?”

She looked over her shoulder and saw her friend smile and nod. It should have made her feel better and more driven, but instead, it reminded her of her parents and their expectations.

I guess I need another cup of coffee....

***

“Yoshida-san, do you think you passed it this time?”

Hanako just stared dazedly at Yamada-san. Her head was indeed a mess after the job interview. She couldn’t even remember what happened. All she wanted then was to go home and sleep.

“Daijobu?” she asked, shaking Hanako's shoulder.

“Hai,” she croaked out. “I think I just need a cup of coffee.”

She absently waved goodbye to Yamada-san and trudged towards a nearby vending machine. It was a very bright spring day. The atmosphere was quite the opposite of her mood at that moment. As much as she wanted to be optimistic about it, she knew in herself that she wasn’t at her best. At that moment, she wanted to have a cup of strong coffee, sit somewhere quiet and write....

Writing? Where will that take you?

She almost dropped the steaming cup of coffee as she took it from the vending machine. Those were the words that her father told her years ago. She somehow quit writing after that, and ended up studying business because she didn’t want to disappoint them. It was hard, but she sacrificed her happiness for her parents. Hanako was the only one they have after her younger brother, Keiji, died.

Things only changed last year when she finally decided to pursue writing.

She glanced at her watch and sighed. She still has three hours before her part-time job at the convenience store. She decided to walk back home and take some rest.

“Hana-chan?”

Hanako turned to the direction of the voice and almost dropped the cup of coffee for the second time. She had to blink twice to be sure that the lanky boy with messy hair was indeed him. She didn’t know he was coming today.

“Daichi-kun?”

“Hai. I just arrived this morning. Ohisashiburi desu ne,” he said excitedly when he was already standing beside her. “Coming home?”

She nodded and continued to walk towards the apartment building. She was now thinking of skipping work because it seemed like she won’t be getting any rest that afternoon.

“I didn’t know that you’re coming today,” she said after finishing her coffee. She glanced at him and saw that he was carrying a bag from the grocery store.

“I wanted to surprise you and Natsumi,” he replied. “I had to bribe Ninomiya-san, so he won’t tell you.”

“And what did he ask you to do this time?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I cleaned the apartment, which was fine because I’m moving in, anyway.”

Hanako chuckled and threw the empty cup in a trash bin.

“Just don’t let him abuse you,” she said as they climbed the stairs.

“Eh? Ninomiya-san isn’t like that at all!” Daichi said defensively as he fumbled in his pocket for his keys. “I always volunteer to do these things for him.”

She just shook her head and didn’t argue.

“You have work later, right?” he said again when they were in front of their apartments' doors. “After that, let’s all get together and drink.”

She really wanted to say no because she wanted to take a rest, but she knew how much Daichi had looked forward to that day.

“Alright. I will tell Natsumi later.”

“See you then!”

She nodded then entered the apartment.

This is going to be a long day.

***

“Uwah! I still can’t believe that I’m already here with you guys,” Daichi said excitedly as they seated themselves inside a yakiniku restaurant near their apartment building.

Kazunari and Natsumi got off from their work earlier, so they were able to go to the restaurant just in time for dinner. Natsumi and Hanako had gone to the restaurant before with some friends. They were lucky to be seated at their usual table. Hanako was about to get to her usual seat when Natsumi suddenly sat there. Before she could question her, Hanako realized that if she sat on her usual seat, Natsumi would be in front of Kazunari. Hanako didn’t say anything about it anymore and just sat on the other chair.

“It’s very obvious how excited you are,” Kazunari said with a smirk.

“But I’ve been—”

“Dreaming about this since middle school. You’ve said that already,” Kazunari, Natsumi and Hanako said in chorus.

There was a pause and then they all laughed. It was very rare for them, or at least for Kazunari and Natsumi, to agree on something.

“Daichi-kun’s really amazing, ne?” Hanako said after they placed their orders. “You were really able to achieve your dreams.”

“Ehh... not everything though,” Daichi replied, scratching the back of his head. “I guess this achievement just opened up more goals for me to meet.”

“Gambatte, Daichi-kun!” Natsumi said enthusiastically.

Daichi nodded and grinned.

“I will do my best! And while I’m here, I’ll be in your care.”

The atmosphere was good as they started to eat and drink. Kazunari was in a rather good mood and was not shooting sarcastic remarks at everyone. Natsumi had also been busy in cooking the yakiniku on the grill, so there wasn’t any clash between them so far.

“Ne, Senpai, how’s your job at the advertising firm?” Daichi suddenly asked.

Kazunari lit a cigarette and then frowned.

“Everything’s good except for one annoying guy,” he answered flatly. “He just transferred from another branch, and now he’s acting all cocky just because everyone loves him.”

Hanako winced when she saw Natsumi roll her eyes. Her friend was about to open her mouth, but she gave her a nudge from under the table and motioned at Daichi who was listening intently to what Kazunari was saying. Natsumi just sighed and continued eating.

“Don’t worry about it, Senpai,” Daichi said with a smirk. “I’m sure you’re way better than the new guy.”

Hanako almost choked on the barbecue. She thought it was a good thing though since it made the others laugh and somehow lessened the tension around them.

“Eat slowly, Hana-chan,” Natsumi said while chuckling.

She just nodded and laughed too after taking a few gulps of water. They changed the subject and started to talk about a movie instead. It somehow took them away from the topic of work, which Hanako didn’t want to think about.

“I didn’t know that Shimizu also likes movies like that,” Kazunari said after a swig of beer. “Maybe we could all watch a movie together next time.”

Natsumi and Hanako couldn’t help laughing when he said that. They thought he must be drunk already.

“What are you laughing at?” he said with a scowl. “I’m serious here! It’s a good idea, right Daichi-kun?”

“Hai!” Daichi answered while nodding vigorously. “It would be great. I mean, we’re neighbors after all.”

Hanako glanced at Natsumi and sensed that she wanted her to disagree with the idea. She just grimaced because she wasn’t sure of what to do.

“Oi, Shimizu! Don’t brainwash your friend,” Kazunari suddenly exclaimed. He lit another cigarette then turned to Hanako. “It’s a great idea, right, Yoshida?”

She also gave the same reaction to him. After that, she expected him to drop the idea altogether. She was wrong though.

“See? She agreed!” he said with a triumphant grin. “Saturday night then. Make yourselves free.”

Hanako was glad there were no sharp objects around or Natsumi might have poked his eyes out. She glanced at Daichi and found him jotting some things on a small notebook.

“I already made myself free for this,” he said excitedly.

She heard Natsumi sigh. She looked at her again and saw her opening her organizer.

“We’re going?” Hanako asked in a low voice as Kazunari started to talk with Daichi about movies they could watch.

“As if we have a choice,” Natsumi replied flatly as she scribbled something. “He’ll just start badmouthing us if we don’t go.”

She was about to open her mouth and say something in reply when Kazunari slammed his glass on the table.

“No complaints, right? Everyone’s free, right?” he said with a wide grin. He didn’t wait for their answer and just suddenly called the waitress. “More beer here, please!”

Natsumi shut her organizer with a snap and continued to eat. They thought it’s just a movie theater, anyway. They didn’t have to talk to him there. It shouldn’t be so bad.

***

The sky was bleak the day the result of the final interview was released.

She knew it wasn’t the end of the world for her. Somehow, at the back of her mind, she had a feeling that this was going to happen, anyway. It shouldn’t be so hard, she thought. Now that it is here in front of her though, the shock was still overwhelming.
Hanako just stood there, staring at the small space between two names—the space where her name should have been, had she passed.

At that moment, she just wanted to be back home... on the comfortable sofa with her warm blanket and a bowlful of udon that Natsumi made. She knew she would feel comfort there, but it would also be painful for her to see Natsumi's happy and expectant face. Other than the disappointment on her parents' faces, the hope and happiness in Natsumi’s face would also be hard for her to look at.

Before she knew it, she was alone in that place. Everyone else had left, either to celebrate or to prepare themselves for another challenge.

“This is getting tiring now,” Hanako muttered to herself.

She sighed and started to wearily walk out of the building. Her feet felt heavier with every step. She tried to think of a place she could go to, but her mind was still in a whirl. She was just out of the building when a large drop of water suddenly fell on her nose. Soon, larger drops followed, and it started pouring.

“Hanako, don’t forget to bring your umbrella!”

“It’s just too troublesome, Okaasan.” Everything was a blur as a sob escaped her throat. “Just too troublesome.”

More than the cold rain, she felt the heat of her tears as they ran down her face. Maybe things would have been different if she did what her parents wanted her to do. Though she swore to herself never to regret about it, she now felt like she was wrong for doing things her own way.

Hanako just stood there in the midst of the falling rain as other people ran about to find shelter from the rain. She didn’t bother to wipe her tears or run back to the building. There’s no use for that, anyway. She didn’t care even when a lot of people passed by. They could stare all they want. In the end, she knew that they would just walk away.

“Ano....”

Slowly, Hanako opened her eyes as she heard the steady pattering of the rain on an umbrella. She brushed the wet strands of hair away from her face and looked up to whoever placed an umbrella over her.

She instantly noticed that the man was wearing a suit. She looked up and saw his gentle face that looked somewhat familiar.

“Daijobu desu ka?” he asked.

She was about to answer when he suddenly took a step forward and looked at her closely.

“Yoshida-san?”

She raised an eyebrow as she tried to remember where she met this man.

“D-do I know you?”

His face suddenly brightened up. He took another step closer so she's fully sheltered by the umbrella.

“I guess you owe me one again. For sharing the umbrella.”

Hanako had to blink a couple of times and stare at his face. He surely had changed a lot after six years. But his eyes... his eyes were the same.

Somehow, she felt like she had been taken back to that day six years ago.

“Sakurai-senpai!”
 
 
 
happyhapeehappyhapee on April 24th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
Reading this again just gives me so many happy feelings. Hahaha
adriennelouise: shoadriennelouise on April 24th, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
Awesome. Makes me very ureshii. Haha.