|M is for Emerald
Author: Half-Demon-Cali PM
Slight AU. Ringo's Project M was completed back in high school - Only it didn't go how she planned. Her family isn't back together, her mother isn't speaking to her, and she can't figure out for the life of her where her child got such bright green eyes.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Friendship - Chapters: 6 - Words: 9,177 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 01-22-12 - Published: 11-04-11 - id: 7522176
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I'ma bitch with updating, aren't I?
The good thing is, I'm actually happy with this chapter. Which is a first in this story. So, by all means, enjoy.
"Why do you want me to pick you up a box of aspirin, again?" Kanba asked flatly. "You're always as prepared as an overprotective mother, why don't you have any?"
"Because I don't have any more," Shoma answered matter-of-faculty. Kanba snorted.
"What, you use up a whole box?"
"There were only so many left. I forgot to go out and buy them yesterday." Shoma didn't realize that his sibling had been using sarcasm, and answered honestly. He didn't sound like he was in the mood to talk, but he had called his brother up anyway, with what he thought was a simple request. His request only served to make Kanba concerned.
"Shoma... Let me ask you something," the red-haired adult started. He voice was a great deal more serious now. "What the hell is going on with you? This isn't the first time this has happened. It's problematic that my brother is asking me to buy him aspirin without giving me a proper reason."
"Wh-What? Aniki, I don't know what you're talking about!" Shoma stuttered. "I just have head pains, that's all!"
"I know that!" Kanba snapped in aggravation. "I'm asking why you have them! For some reason, your body seems wired to give you these bouts of migraines and pains during February every year. Usually towards the end of it."
"I don' get them every year!" Shoma retorted over the phone. Kanba could practically see his brother's frustrated face. It was hard not to picture it.
"Alright, maybe not every year, since you didn't start getting them until you turned eighteen," he corrected himself. "What is this, long-lasting growing pains?" The joke was a dry one, and Kanba knew it. Shoma wasn't really concerned with that.
"Are you going to make me go out and buy them myself? My head is seriously killing me right now. That'd be cruel of you, aniki." Kanba took a moment to consider this.
"... You're not going to overdose and kill yourself, are you?"
"Aniki! I am not suicidal!"
"... Then I'm fine with it. I'll go to the drug store after Himari and I visit the aquarium. We might even eat dinner at your place, if it's okay with you. Himari says she'll cook."
"I'm... Okay with that. Just so long as you bring my Excedrin, okay? Don't forget it." Kanba rolled his eyes.
"I know, I know. I'll talk to you two later, then?"
"Okay. See you later, aniki." Kanba shut his cell phone after that. He ran his fingers through his red locks, groaning in frustration. It seemed that, no matter what the time or place was, he always had some kind of trouble on his hands thanks to his siblings.
"Mama, can I have this?" Miyaka pointed at an item on the dessert menu eagerly. It was a chocolate parfait with white chocolate and cherries. It also came in the shape of a penguin head. Ringo looked at her daughter doubtfully.
"You want dessert this early?" Miyaka nodded eagerly. "Before dinner?" Another nod. Ringo shrugged, as if she had actually been contemplating the yes-or-no choice. "Sorry, Miyaka-chan. I don't think so." The girl's face fell about three stories.
"But why noooot? " she whined. "I'm not going to order two, I just want one! And it's so cute! Look at it, mama!" Ringo frowned.
"Miyaka... What have I told you about complaining?" Miyaka hid behind her menu, peering out from behind it with shy emerald eyes.
"You said not to..." she answered quietly. "Sorry, mama..." Himari looked between the mother-daughter duo, and couldn't help but smile. The stern look on Ringo's face reminded her of when she used to be reprimanded by her brothers.
Currently, the three girls were seated in a nearby café's booth – Save for Threetie, who had gone to bring the groceries back to the apartment. (Heaven only knows how her friends hadn't noticed this.) Himari and Ringo had ordered something to eat already. Miyaka was still trying to choose, but this was because she was trying to order from the dessert menu and her mother kept shooting her down every time she picked something out.
"Ringo-chan, you're really acting like a parent," the thistle-eyed girl giggled. Ringo gave Himari a similarly-amused look.
"Yeah, having a six-year-old will cause that, Himari-chan," she snarked. Miyaka pouted.
"Mama, I'm seven!" she insisted. "I'm seven!"
"Your birthday's not for two weeks, sweetie."
"But I wanna be seven already!" Miyaka folded her arms tightly, a grouchy look on her face that made her look like a perpetual mope. "Why can't my birthday hurry up and come now?" Himari practically gushed. Miyaka's pout did nothing more than make her look cuter instead of angry.
"Miyaka-chan, just be patient!" she exclaimed, smiling widely. "I'm sure you'll turn seven sooner than you think." Miyaka's expression instantly changed again.
"Okay!" she answered brightly, smiling once again. "I guess you're right, Himari-tan!"
"Of course I am!" Himari said proudly. "Miyaka-chan, in the future, you'll learn that women are always right."
"Hey, don't go teaching my daughter that just yet!"
"Right, right. Sorry!"
"Are you... Ringo-chan!"
The woman nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard her name being yelled. Very slowly, she turned to the younger girl and nodded. "Yes, my name is Ringo..." she answered cautiously. "And... You are...?"
"Don't you recognize me? It's me! Himari!" the twenty-year-old exclaimed. "Himari Takakura!"
Had Miyaka not been in her arms, Ringo probably would have fallen to her knees in disbelief. Himari Takakura? That was enough to block her speech for a few seconds more.
"Hi... Himari-chan...?" When Himari nodded, Ringo just barely contained her screech of delight. "Oh my God! Himari-chan! It's been so long!" Himari ran up and hugged both Ringo and Miyaka, barely containing her will to jump for joy.
"Ringo-chan, you look...! You look...! Wow!" Himari almost whistled. For a twenty-three-year-old single mother, she didn't look bad at all! Ringo smiled, her face tinting a pale pink.
"Oh, come on, Himari-chan," she replied, shifting a confused Miyaka in her arms. "Stop trying to make me blush. You've grown up yourself!"
"Well, I guess so," Himari laughed. Looking back at the child in Ringo's arms, Himari questioned, "I take it this is little Miyaka, then? She's such a sweetheart!" Ringo smiled. She remembered having not spoken to Himari in many years. The last image of Miyaka that she had sent to them had been when the girl was but an infant. She was glad Himari was able to recognize her. But then again, it was fairly obvious that the six-year-old belonged to her. Aside from their eyes, they looked very alike.
"Mama?" Miyaka called up. "How do you know Himari-tan?"
"Miyaka-chan... This is Himari Takakura. She's one of my best friends."
Himari could practically believe the luck she had running into her old friend. Were there words to describe what she was feeling right now? She didn't know, and she didn't particularly care. As she took a bite of her korokke, Himari only wished that they had met up sooner.
"So, Ringo-chan," she began cheerily. "Has life been treating you well?" Ringo took a sip of her coffee before answering.
"Well, more or less," she replied. "I really wish there were more people hiring. I don't want to be stuck at a café my whole life."
"You work at a café?"
"Yeah. It's a little far from here, but closer to my dad's home." Ringo grinned. "He's the one who told me about the job opening there in the first place. I'm really grateful to him; for that, and everything else." Himari blinked.
"Everything else?" she repeated. "Like what?" Ringo's smile bent downwards woefully at the question.
"For one... My mom sort of... We don't talk anymore. She gives the occasional call to see how everything's going, but nothing more than that. I think the extent of her kindness has been sending Miyaka a birthday gift every other year." Himari felt very uncomfortable all of a sudden.
"Oh..." The younger girl shifted in her seat. "... I take it it's because you had Miyaka...?"
"You hit the nail on the head, Himari-chan," Ringo said bitterly. "She basically told me that I wasn't allowed at home anymore. And my mom was an understanding person."
"That's… That's horrible, Ringo-chan!" Himari exclaimed. For the love of God, since when had her friend's mother become so terrible? It wasn't like Himari couldn't understand why, but still... Very cautiously, the youngest Takakura asked, "What happened to you after that?" A small part of Ringo's smile returned.
"Dad is the best. He helped me out a lot after things got rough." Ringo twirled her spoon in the cup of coffee that was sitting on the table. "He let Miyaka and me live with him and his new family until I was twenty-one. By then, I had a job and we could get an apartment for cheap." The young mother sighed. "I don't think I'll ever be able to repay my dad for what he's done..."
Himari felt like she had trespassed into territory that she shouldn't have. Ringo obviously had these memories kept in the back of her mind, and she had just dug them out. It wasn't her brightest move, and Himari regretted it. She knew from first-hand experience that nothing good came of digging up pasts.
Hoping for a lighter topic, Himari looked over to Miyaka, who was sipping at her glass of milk. "Miyaka-chan seems like she's doing okay," she said. "When's her birthday?"
"It's March sixth-"
Tap tap tap.
The window beside them was being rapped on by a pair of large, make knuckles. All three of the girls turned at the noise, startled by the interruption. Himari looked more surprised than she should have been. With his red hair and green eyes, the man who had suspended their discussion was obviously her brother. The cranky expression was also familiar.
"Ka-Kan-chan?" Himari stuttered. "What is he doing here?" Ringo blinked.
"'Kan-chan'?" she repeated. Looking back at the window, where the redhead had disappeared from, she had to keep herself from letting her jaw drop. "You mean... Kanba?" Himari cocked her head to one side.
"Of course! Who else would I be talking about?"
"Uhh... Well, I kind of figured, but... ... He looks more... mature... than the last time I saw him."
"Uh-huh. He's grown up a lot, physically and mentally. He's also no longer a playboy!"
"Hey, I heard that, Himari." Himari jumped in her seat when she heard the low voice coming from behind her. Turning her head over her shoulder, the young woman came face-to-face with her eldest sibling's unamused scowl. "And for the record, the term 'playboy' is offensive." Himari laughed nervously.
"Whoops. Sorry, Kan-chan... ... Hey! How did you know I was here?" Kanba took his cell phone from his shirt pocket, and dangled it in front of his sister's face.
"GPS tracking," he replied with a simple word. "Did you forget about that feature? It lets me check where the three of us are. But more importantly..." Kanba folded his arms, raising a skeptical eyebrow. "Did you forget about today?"
"Today...? ... Oh!" Himari gasped. She blushed in embarrassment. "Oh, I forgot all about our aquarium trip! I'm so sorry, Kan-chan!" Kanba sighed to himself. Just as always, he could never be angry with Himari for too long. It was absolutely impossible. She was just too cute.
"Yaaay! An aquarium!" Miyaka cheered loudly. She clapped her hands together in excitement, catching Kanba and Himari's interest. Miyaka tugged on her mother's sleeve. "Can we go, mama! Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaaaaase? I wanna see the sea lions and the otters! And Cutie wants to see the penguins! Pleeaaaase?" Ringo shot her a playful, if confused, glare.
"I thought you wanted to go to grandpa's house today?"
"But-! But I wanna go to the aquarium now!" Miyaka frowned. "Can't we go?"
"..." Kanba tapped Himari on her head, earning his sibling's attention again. "This reminds me... Who are these two, anyway? I know you're a nice person and all, Himari, but you can't just randomly sit down with strangers and-"
"They're not strangers, Kan-chan!" Himari exclaimed indignantly, glaring at her brother with her thistle-colored eyes. "This is Ringo-chan and Miyaka-chan! Gosh, you're so rude, sometimes!"
Kanba's green eyes widened in shock. Forgetting about his sister for a brief moment, he gazed over to the young woman sitting across from Himari, and tried to form the memories in his head. Just as he remembered, with the auburn-orange eyes and brown hair, Ringo was sitting there, with her little girl at her side. His mouth failed him partially, as he could only come out with one word.
Ringo rolled her eyes. "Nice to see you remember me, Kanba Takakura. For your information, I recognized you right away." Kanba scoffed, his initial surprise wearing off.
"Well, then. Excuse me, Princess..." he muttered. "In my defense, you're the person I'd least expect to be sitting with Himari, after all this time. Especially after- You know..." His last statement left Ringo puzzled.
"After what?" Neither Takakura answered. Himari had realized that Kanba's words had been more or less directed at her rather than Ringo. They were the only two who knew the reason for the long absence of communication – The ex-stalker hadn't a clue. But she'd be damned if she was left in the dark any longer. She was going to get to the bottom of this, no matter what happened.
Miyaka was growing impatient with the silence, which she had not picked up on being both thick and awkward.
"So can we go to the aquarium, mama?"
I don't really like the penguins, so I try to keep them out of the story as much as possible. Sorry to those who like them. I find them annoying.
I promise you, Ringo and Shoma's first meeting in about seven years is coming up soon.