As Time Goes
chapter three: Noble Friends
"Mamura, you awake still?"
No, he wasn't. Mamura had opted to fall asleep during the movie. Suzume didn't mind though, because she was already grateful for the dinner and the gifts he had given her on her birthday. She also knew how tired he was from working all day.
She gave a satisfied smile as she let Mamura doze off while leaning on her shoulder, unbeknownst to him.
She took a look at the blond man that was leaning against her shoulder, and began to wonder when he started to gain more mature features.
His once extremely unkempt hair was now only slightly unruly and shorter than it once was, giving him that older look. His jawline had also grown sharper; Suzume had jokingly thought that she was somewhat lucky to have kept such a handsome looking friend.
Mamura's breathing was slow and steady, and Suzume felt relaxed as she let him lean against her while he was asleep.
She felt like she wouldn't mind if this would had lasted for a long time.
It didn't, however.
Mamura soon mumbled to himself and rolled towards the side of the couch, resting in an uncomfortable position on the arms of the chair.
Suzume laughed to herself to see the usually poised Mamura in a strange uncomfortable position, and had completely forgotten about the movie in favor of snapping a photo of her friend. She whipped out her smartphone and squatted next to him, quickly taking various photos of the blond while hoping that these pictures would be of great use in the future.
He would probably be pleasantly surprised find out about this later on.
As she finished gathering blackmail, she decided that she would be a nice friend by cleaning up after herself, as they had both drank a couple beers and had also finished that tub of ice cream. Suzume grabbed all the empty cans and containers and threw it in the bag that they had bought the beers in.
As she stood with all the trash in hand, Suzume moved to the wastebin, thinking that she might as well throw everything away. The crumpled papers were starting to pile up into the wastebin, and it was getting pretty messy for Mamura's standards.
She grabbed the plastic bag that lined the bin and started to lift it up. In the process, a couple of crumpled papers began to fall out.
"Oh, whoops." She mumbled to herself, reaching down to pick up the balls that had fallen in the process.
Amidst the number of tiny and large crumpled white papers, there was an odd bright pink paper that had caught her eye.
Earlier that night, after heading to the kitchen, she decided to ask Mamura if he had any ice cream cones available, and had caught him tossing that little piece of pink paper. What was it?
Hmmm, it must be the receipt. Suzume thought. I wonder how much it was. And next time I'm treating anyways. Should I go and check it? I don't want to treat him to somewhere less expensive... heh.
She sneakily checked if Mamura had woken up. No dice. He had knocked out.
There was a glint in Suzume's eye as she quickly snatched up the pink paper from the ground. "This is probably bad," she whispered to herself. "But I can't help it!"
She swiftly opened up the crumpled paper, only to see the message and phone number that Mamura had seen himself.
"I'd... like to hear from you... Mina?" She read aloud. A girl?! Suzume almost gasped. A girl contacted Mamura? Gave him her number? And he threw it away?
Suzume jumped from her sitting-on-the-floor position and scrambled, balled up paper in hand, to where Mamura was.
With less than one feet away from Mamura, Suzume shot the crumpled piece of paper and aimed it towards his forehead.
"..." Mamura, a light sleeper, opened one eye. "... what." He used one arm to shield his face from Suzume.
"Ma..." She reached out to grab the paper from the ground around him and tossed it towards his forehead again.
She grabbed it again.
By this time, he had woken up, aggravated by the barrage of tiny papers Suzume was beginning to charge at him.
"Suzume." He said in an annoyed tone, sitting up and rubbing his eyes to wake himself up a bit more. "What in the world are you doing?" He looked around to see what she was throwing at him.
"Why didn't you tell me someone gave you their number!" Suzume exclaimed, holding the paper up in the air, making a long emphasis on the r. "I thought we were best friends, I thought you tell me everything, because I thought I did, and why did you toss this? Who is this from? Oh don't tell me, is it that girl who served us today? Was it? I mean I think she was cut-"
Suzume's barrage of questions aggravated Mamura even more than her paper ball attack.
"I'm not interested." He cut off, moving to lie down on the couch and to face the wall.
Suzume grabbed a pillow and knocked him on the head.
"Mamura!" Suzume said, still holding the paper in hand. "This is your chance!" She grabbed the back of his shoulders and shook it.
"What's my chance?" He sleepily responded, already getting used to his position and falling back into sleep.
"Am I not the only girl you hang out with?" Suzume said. "I mean, I don't want to lose my chances with our bet or anything, but also am I not the only girl you've ever brought to your house? Am I?"
"And?" He responded airily.
"I'm going to call her."
"What?!" Mamura turned around to see the mischievous Suzume grabbing the phone that was on the table and pressing numbers furiously.
Suzume stood and quickly ran to the other side of the room, Mamura's phone in hand. Mamura quickly jumped up from the couch and began to chase after his beloved phone.
"It's ringing!" Suzume twisted and zigzagged in her attempt to elude Mamura's grasp. "Hello?"
Mamura grimaced. "Are you crazy?!" He hissed, lunging towards the brunette. He managed to grab her, both hands wrapped around her petite frame, but she firmly held the phone to her ear.
"Hello?" Suzume struggled to be released from his grasp; however, he was much stronger than her. Luckily for her, and unluckily for him, she was able to still keep the phone up. "Yes, hi!"
"D- don't..." Mamura stuttered, a shade of red creeping up as he held Suzume tightly in the corner of his living room, in his failing attempt.
"Um," At this point, Suzume wasn't sure what she was supposed to do. "You gave my friend your number, and he wants to... talk... to... you..." His grip was tighter, and it was hard for Suzume to hold on to the phone. "One moment!" She turned to face the blond with shimmer in her eyes.
Mamura lowered his head. "What are you doing?" He muttered to her quietly, embarrassment clearly shown on his face, only inches from hers.
Their eyes met, and Suzume could feel her heart beating just a bit faster than it was a few seconds earlier. She held her breath as she saw Mamura's blush growing even darker, as their faces became slightly closer...
She quickly pushed and released herself from his grasp and placed the phone to his ear, both falling to the ground in the process. 'Talk to her!' She mouthed to Mamura, who shook his head in a failing attempt to regain composure. 'Make a friend.'
Mamura grunted in annoyance, and spoke on the phone. "Err, hello." He said in a dead tone, and Suzume wanted to face palm him. "I... you gave me your number, yes."
Mamura had always been quite awkward with girls, Suzume had recalled. Every time a girl in class would try to talk to him, it always ended a bit strange and up in the air, since his nervousness and inability to talk to anyone of the opposite gender besides Suzume stunted him.
She listened quietly to his conversation in hopes that at least this phone call would end up successful.
"I'm actually busy." She could hear his dull response. Sigh.
"I'm busy on that day too." ...
"I'm pretty busy, yeah." ... ...
"Maybe it isn't really that great to-" Before Mamura could finish the assumedly dead conversation, Suzume grabbed the phone and covered the bottom so that the girl on the other line wouldn't hear.
Suzume put her ear to the phone. "Hi, err. Actually, I have a couple tickets to the aquarium tomorrow and I can't really make it... it would be really nice if you and Mamura could go since I was going with him anyways- I think he'd like that." She lied, giving Mamura a thumbs up. "Really? Okay! That would be great. I'll let him know."
She quickly hung up the phone and tossed it back to the blond.
"Um, there!" Suzume gave a strained smile. I don't think Mamura's happy with this. "You have a date!"
"..." Mamura laid back onto the carpet floor.
There was a strange silence for a couple of minutes, with Mamura stretched out onto the floor with his hands behind his head, and Suzume sitting down next to him twiddling her fingers.
"Do I really seem desperate for a girlfriend or something?" Mamura finally spoke. "Am I really that hopeless at finding a girl- that you have to call someone for me?"
Suzume sat quietly, continuing to play with her fingers. Truthfully, she didn't know exactly why she called the woman for him in the first place. When she had seen the paper, there was an urge to call her, to listen to the woman, to see how excited she was to know that he had called her.
Was that a terrible case of jealousy?
No it was not.
But if it isn't, then what was it?
Mamura faced her, with a serious look. "It's fine, I'll go with her. Just give back the tickets tomorrow morning."
"I-" Suzume started, but Mamura cut her off.
He gave her a small smile, however it seemed unusually hollow. "Maybe you should just go home for the night?"
Oh, he was hurt. Suzume felt a slight pang in her chest. She wasn't too sure why she ended up calling for him and signing him up for a date, but now that she had done that, it didn't feel so right at all.
"Okay." She decided to let him cool off for the night, and come to apologize the next day. Standing up, she walked to her belongings, and began to put on her coat. She turned to the door, not daring to look back to look at Mamura, and began to open it.
As she walked out the door and began to close it shut, Mamura's words rang through.
"I only wanted to go with you."
Suzume felt another pang in her chest, but this time it was a different feeling.
"She what?" Inukai said in disbelief, taking a sip of his drink.
Mamura and Inukai were sitting at the counter of a slightly fancy bar, with Inukai just getting off work and still in his salaryman outfit. The bartender stopped by and placed Mamura's drink in front of him.
"Yeah." Mamura nodded, his elbows to the table while reaching for his drink.
Inukai gave a sort of chuckle, patting his friend on the back. "That's Suzume for you. So noble. I'm actually not surprised that she would try to pull a stunt for her precious Mamura, haha." He said. "Don't take it to heart, man. She means no harm."
Mamura turned to glare at him. "I'm not angry!" He mixed his drink with a straw before taking a swig.
It wasn't that he was angry at Suzume that she ended up calling the waitress, scheduled him on a date, and used her aquarium tickets and gave it to them... or maybe it was– but the fact was that he was hurt.
And he was kind of mad that he felt kind of hurt.
Because, not that he would admit out loud, but he felt like his heart had dropped slightly.
Suzume Yosano. This was a girl he had known for years, ever since he had started high school. Although he was never close to any girl that had dared to become friendly with him, she was the only one that had actually gotten through to him.
She was the only one he became close friends with.
She was the only one who he would consider to be his best friend.
The only one he was in love with.
But that was something he would leave a secret.
"You know," Inukai started, motioning for the bartender to bring him another drink. "Why don't you just tell her how you feel, instead of going through this?" He shrugged. "It worked for me and Tsuru."
He gave a face. "We've been friends for ever, and Suzume had always stated that we were best as friends." He explained. "When we dated in high school and we broke up, we didn't talk for a month, and I almost couldn't stand the fact that I had lost her."
Inukai nodded, listening to his friend's words. "She started dating him afterwards, didn't she?"
A slightly strange silence ensued for several seconds.
"I can't forgive that guy." Mamura muttered. "He just came and swept her away, only to leave her behind in the end. She wasn't herself for a while." He said, taking another sip of his drink. "I don't want to see her like that again."
"You're just as noble too, Mamu." Inukai replied.
Mamura shrugged. "I just want her to be happy."
"Then make her happy."
It was a simple suggestion with a complex answer. "Damn it." Mamura set down his drink. "I'll talk to her." He said, standing up and grabbing the coat that hung on the seat he occupied.
"Wait, really?" Inukai jumped up out of his seat as well. "You're gonna do it? You're gonna tell her?"
Mamura nodded. "Maybe." He grabbed his bag, a hint of blush tinting the tips of his ears just thinking of what he was going to say. "Or, yes. I'll do it." He turned to his friend and held him by the shoulders firmly. "Thanks Inukai."
Inukai gave a wink and a thumbs up. "Good luck."
Mamura ran off towards the bar's exit, quickly sliding his coat onto his back. "By the way, congratulations on your engagement!" He said just as the glass doors of the bar closed shut.
His friend grinned.
Mamura exited the bar and ran off into the direction of their apartment building, only a few blocks away. Thoughts poured into his mind as he raced into the night; it was already 1am and yet he was wide awake now.
Was it selfish of him to tell her? Did he even have the right to do so?
Or was it her right to know that he had loved her all along?
He didn't know.
Frustrated with himself, he pulled out his phone, still on the run towards home. After a moment of hesitance, he fleetly dialed Suzume's number, to check if she was still awake.
He mentally placed a bet, as he waited with the phone ringing.
If Suzume was asleep or didn't answer her phone, he would continue to race towards his apartment but instead he would go to bed, forgetting that he was ever going to tell her.
But, if she had decided to answer his call, he would tell her everything.
How he was glad they had gotten so close during high school, and even closer throughout college.
How he thought she was cutest with a mouth full of sushi.
How he never wanted to see her cry, unless it was during her usual TV melodrama marathons.
How he always wanted to be with her.
How he had always loved her.
How much he loved her.
Suzume had answered.
It felt like his heart made a strange knocking feeling. Mamura, one block away from the apartment, was almost to his destination, so he wasn't too sure if it was because she had answered, or that he had been running too fast.
"Mamura, I'm so sorry about earlier, and you don't have to go if-"
"It's alright, but there's something I've been meaning to tell you for a while now." He dashed and went around a corner, knowing that the apartment was only a couple minutes away.
"Huh? Yeah, sure what is it?"
"I'll tell you when I get there, but you have to know-"
"Actually, I have to go. I'll call you tomorrow."
He placed his phone quietly into his bag, and took a deep breath of air.
"Long time no see, Mamura." A deep voice chuckled in front of him.
Mamura took a pause.
"It's been awhile, sensei."
I keep scrapping chapters. I rewrote this like twice trying to get it right, hopefully this chapter is okay! I enjoyed writing it more than chapter two. Chapter four is pretty much half done unless I scrap it BUT I need to focus on my exam next week. Also someone asked me how many chapters I was aiming for, and I'm aiming for... err 8-10. Unless something comes up.
*But uh oh, he's back. What will happen now?!
I'll see you guys next week. I'm very grateful that you guys are reading!