Azuma Yunoki x Shouko Fuyuumi

A La Corda D'oro Fanfiction

~oOo~

Azuma Yunoki has a mission to keep his image and it involved a certain teal haired woman who might just annoy yet surprise him.

~oOo~

Images

Life, as Azuma knew, wasn't that great and most of the time he thought of it as boring. He is always restrained in a lot of ways even now that he is confronted with the most…

"Fuyuumi-san," he greeted with a gentle smile.

The teal haired woman jumped in surprise then slowly turned to see Azuma Yunoki, her upperclassman. "Y-Yunoki-senpai," she greeted back weakly.

In his head he was already rolling his eyes. Azuma didn't know how exactly he found the timid girl something to be aware of. Ah, right, he thought as he remembered the day he met her again after–what?-ten years? He had never seen people from his high school since he left for England to study for University. He didn't continue his music and entered the corporate world where he was expected so he was less likely to bump into the people he used to compete with by music. Azuma is less aware of what had become of those other participants of the school's music competition. All he knew was that his best friend, Kazuki Hihara, is now in an orchestra and a junior of his, Len Tsukimori, is now a world class violinist. Now, he just discovered, Shouko Fuyuumi is also a member of an orchestra.

"Would you like to have tea with me?" he asked, hoping not to scare her more. She is as timid as ever. Nothing much changed other than the fact she had let her teal hair longer and her features got more mature than when he first met her years ago.

Shouko looked like she didn't want to but she gave a small nod as if sensing Azuma wouldn't be happy if she turned him down.

He led her to a nearby table and they both ordered tea from the waiter who attended them. Azuma pulled out a seat for Shouko and, as expected of her, she sat down. He sat opposite from her, facing her so he could read her like a book. It didn't take Azuma long to make the girl squirm in her seat. That was fast, he thought despite not doing anything yet.

"I'm sorry," Azuma apologized, leaning back in his chair. "I didn't mean to stare," he said though he kept his eyes on her. He concluded that there would be only 2 reasons why she is acting like he's a monster. One, she is just not used to being alone with a man and is still shy in front of people. Azuma wanted to strike this option out given that they used to be fine together back at high school. Shouko wasn't as nervous back then and was able to make a conversation with Azuma easily. The other reason, two, would be what Azuma dreads. She'd overheard him back at the fundraiser they both attended.

Just a few weeks ago he received news that his toy is now in a relationship with the junior he least expected to man up. Kahoko Hino seemed to be dense enough to not notice a bunch of guys had their eyes on her and Len Tsukimori seemed to be too serious at music to notice women. Azuma knew they had chemistry especially after hearing the two play their violins together but he never thought much of it. He had hoped he had affected Kahoko enough to make her remember him. Seems the years he hasn't shown nor spoken to her made her forget him. Azuma had thrown himself to the business world and tried forgetting the redhead. He thought he was over the infatuation but after the news, he was really wrong. Azuma managed to pretend he wasn't affected by the news in any way but as the days go by he became frustrated and angry. He wanted to go back to Japan and just snatch Kahoko away and lock her up in his room. His condition only got worse when his grandmother forced him to attend a fundraiser despite being already busy. And as if his mood wasn't that bad enough, he had to see the new couple in the fundraiser, together, happily and obviously in love with one another. It took all his willpower to keep himself from marching towards the couple and steal Kahoko away, trap her in a dark room and do things he wouldn't do back when he was in high school. To hell with his image, he had thought but he did what was best. Walk away quietly.

What his mistake was he didn't walk away quietly. He did went as far away he can from the crowd to a secluded place where he knew he was all alone and wouldn't be heard. Azuma wasn't usually one to complain out loud and to cause too much scene but during that time he let himself free and released his anger by talking angrily to inanimate objects. He even kicked a bench which he regretted after figuring out the hard way that the bench was made of steel. He had said a lot out of frustration and anger and when he realized he wasn't alone, he immediately regretted everything he's done even though he still wasn't feeling any better. Azuma remembered how his blood ran cold at the thought of the media being able to catch him in such a state his family would be ashamed of.

Lucky for him the one who was there at that time is the woman who is sitting in front of him.

Azuma's mission for following Shouko Fuyuumi, secretly, even to the point of attending such a girly event such as the tea party (not that he minded much), is to know whether she had been there that whole time or if ever she had heard anything he has said. He knew he was grumbling but only God knows how loud he was. He also would like to shut her up even if he has to blackmail the girl.

Of course, right now he has to be nice and be the idealistic man every girl would dream of. He had to keep his image because they are in public, otherwise he wouldn't be making small talks and will be getting to the point.

"I-it's fine," Shouko stuttered, looking anywhere but him.

Azuma was tempted to grab her face and make her look only at him so he could read her eyes. He wanted to know if she really was the timid girl he knew or if she had changed and started acting like how some women would disgustingly think is cute to catch his attention. Fake women only made him faker.

"Am I making you uncomfortable? Should I leave?" Azuma asked though he knew he wouldn't leave the woman alone until he figured out why she was where he was.

Shouko finally looked at him with wide eyes. "N-no! I didn't mean to be rude. I was just… wondering," Shouko trailed off. As she realized they are both staring at each other, her face quickly turned red. And once again, she looked away from Azuma.

"Wondering?" Azuma asked, curious yet annoyed at her actions. She's getting on his nerves. It's unusual for him but he just can't keep calm. Good thing he has mastered hiding his real emotions and is a professional at looking calm and refined.

"Why you are here," Shouko said softly, almost making Azuma want to lean forward and make her repeat herself.

Their tea was served and then they were left alone again. Azuma took his cup and sipped. "I'm just taking a break from work. I thought attending this event would be calming. I used to do tea ceremonies back at home," he lied smoothly. Honestly he had skipped work-if that was even possible after working overtime-just so he could be where he was currently. He charmed his secretary to keep quiet he wouldn't be around the office today.

Shouko had seemed to open up after his answer and they were both able to talk about different things from tea to music. They also talked about Seiso's music competition and their fellow participants. Then eventually it's time for them to depart. Azuma wasn't sure how he was able to carry on the conversation without being able to know why Shouko was at the fundraiser. Even though their conversation was normal he rarely saw Shouko look at him making it hard for him to judge and read her.

The hell did I come here for? He scolded himself.

Azuma escorted Shouko out of the event.

"Thank you for giving me your time," Shouko said, turning to face him but avoided eye contact. Her cheeks were pinkish making Azuma wonder for a moment if she had a fever. "I had a good time with you." She smiled.

"Same here. I enjoyed your company," Azuma replied and smiled back. Inwardly he wanted to hit his head on a wall for the wasted time.

Shouko started leaving him and when he noticed she wasn't with anyone he got a great idea. He followed the girl and stopped her.

"Fuyuumi-san. Would you like me to take you home?" he asked.

Shouko's eyes went wide and she blushed. "I-it's okay!" she waved her hands nervously. "I-I can commute. I'm fine on my own!"

"I insist," he said, acting worried for her. Half of him was really worried though. She looked like a most wanted target for less fortunate people. Someone might take advantage of her as she ride the city busses. The thought made him have goose bumps. "It's getting late also," he reasoned out, motioning to the darkening skies.

Shouko looked up as she considered. She remained silent for a while as Azuma watched her debating to herself. He was tempted to just carry her off the ground and take her to his car. "I hope I won't be bothering you then," she replied.

Azuma smiled and walked her to his car.

~oOo~

Azuma unlocked the car and opened the passenger door for Shouko. His brows knitted after seeing her staring at his car as if it's the first time she has seen one.

"Fuyuumi-san?"

"Erm…"

"Is something wrong?"

Shouko almost jumped. "N-nothing is wrong," she replied then started staring at the car again. She looked as if she is debating to herself.

Azuma gave a soft chuckle. He is finding Shouko amusing somehow. He quickly hid his amusement by clearing his throat. "Is it because I'm a guy?" he asked. A timid girl like Shouko might be nervous around men. Then again, she might just be acting. He has yet to find out.

What will she gain from him anyway? As far as Azuma knew, she too is wealthy. She didn't seem to need a guy like him. He is only a third son and won't be able to get much if inheritance were the issue. Instead, he might be needing her. But he wasn't that desperate for money. For now, he cared about his damn image.

He watched Shouko shake her head. "Maybe," she replied, stepping closer to where Azuma was standing, still holding the door for her. "Is it safe?" she asked making Azuma blink.

He looked at his car. A black Mercedes. He chose it because of its safety features plus comfort.

"Yes," he simply answered, unable to comprehend why she would ask that.

When Shouko didn't respond he looked at her and saw for some reason that her eyes are sparkling in delight. She looked somehow happy.

Shouko looked at Azuma and asked, "May I try sitting on the driver's side? Even for just one minute?"

Azuma nodded, not understanding what's happening. They both walked to the other side of the car and Azuma opened the driver's side door. Shouko quickly got in, surprising Azuma. For a moment he feared she'll steal his car but then he thought that was ridiculous. She looks so fragile and weak. He doubted she got a courage to do that.

He watched her look around and touch things in his car. She looked impressed and for a moment Azuma was amazed at himself that he could actually read her for the first time. She wasn't talking nor looking at him but he knew she was happy for some reason he would like to know.

"You're so tidy," she observed. "It is so clean and shiny. It still looks new. Is it new?"

Azuma smiled. Of course, he liked keeping things in order and his car should always look immaculate. In fact, everything about him should be immaculate, he inwardly frowned. All about keeping image. "I've had it for a year already," he replied.

"It is beautiful." Shouko grinned at him. "Like you."

Azuma was thrown back at her comment. He is used to people complementing him but the way she said it seemed so genuine. He wasn't sure why she was saying it but he is disliking it.

The more he stayed with her, the more he is hating her. He wanted to know immediately whether she heard what he said or not. To get it over with. But how without having to be so obvious? To just ask her with contempt is definitely out of the list. He couldn't just assume she heard him, could he?

He knew keeping his image is important but it was making it hard for him.

"Thank you," he simply said.

She looked a bit more in the car and eventually she realized she's been keeping Azuma waiting. She laughed nervously and apologized to him. Azuma just acted as if everything was fine even though his mind was busy finding a way to deal with the situation.

"I'll go to the other side," Shouko mumbled shyly as she moved to get off from the driver's seat.

Azuma had enough of thinking. It was stressing him the more he thought of an alternative way. Why not just scare her off? She is a timid girl. She would just comply to his wishes. He once acted mean and it worked. Kahoko had obeyed him somehow before which helped him. It will work, he convinced himself.

He stopped the girl from leaving the driver's seat by blocking her way. Azuma placed one hand on the steering wheel while he rested the other on the chair's headrest. Shouko paused, slowly looking up at him with a confused expression.

"Why were you at the fundraiser?" he asked. His calm and collected self gone and was replaced by what Kahoko would think is his dark side. He looked down at her making her nervous.

Shouko looked as if she didn't know what to do. She looked away from him but Azuma can see she was scared and nervous. Her frame was shaking. "I-M-my p-parents… wanted me to attend on their b-behalf," she answered nervously, sounding like she is going to cry.

Azuma cared less. "How about that time where you found me? How long were you hiding behind that tree?" he asked, he didn't mean to sound angry but he sounded that way. He remembered her expression back then when he found her. Her whole frame was shaking and she looked like she was about to cry. She ran away from him though before he could ask her why she was there.

Shouko started crying in fear. She wasn't shouting or making any unnecessary noise. She was just crying silently there in his own car. She tried speaking but her sobs took her words away. After a while of watching her, Azuma felt bad. He scared the poor thing to the point she can't even say a comprehensible word.

Azuma took his handkerchief out and offered it to Shouko. He couldn't say a word knowing he will just demand for an answer to get it over with. Shouko didn't take his handkerchief and moved slightly away from him while crying making him feel angry again.

This girl just gets on his nerves. She wasn't really bad and she wasn't as bad as the previous women he'd met. She is just… uncontrollable for him.

"-ry," Azuma heard. He ran a hand across his face and tried composing himself. He has probably been glaring at the girl and it is not getting him anywhere. "P-please don't hurt me," Shouko stuttered.

Azuma opened his mouth only to shut it again. The sight in front of him wasn't something he was expecting and it looked much horrible than his own obsession with keeping his image. He felt his face tingling. What the hell am I doing? He asked himself, unable to keep his eyes off the girl.

Shouko's face was all flushed and tear stained. For some reason her hair became a mess, probably because she kept on touching it with nervousness. Her whole frame is facing Azuma, her legs raised up to her chest. One hand is clutching the skirt of her dress while the other kept on wiping her tears.

Shouko looked like she was molested by Azuma.

For a moment Azuma thought he could actually molest this timid girl with just a look. It made him chuckle. He wanted to not laugh out loud but the longer he stared at Shouko the funnier he seemed to see the situation. Eventually he laughed out loud and not in the most elegant way he is usually seen laughing. He laughed like how any normal man would surprising Shouko to the point she actually stopped crying.

Shouko's brows furrowed, fear gone and was replaced by confusion. She imagined what she might've looked like and immediately flushed again in red. She hid her face on her knees making sure her hair covered her face. "D-don't laugh at me," she softly begged, embarrassed.

Azuma kept on laughing. "I'm sorry," he said between laughs. "You just look hilarious!"

Shouko wished the seat would just suck her in. He just wouldn't stop laughing. "You're mean," she complained, sounding like a kid.

Azuma bit his lips and tried stopping. He already embarrassed the girl too much. "I'm done," he said eventually and waited for her to lift her head up. She didn't so he did it the hard way. He grabbed her head and forced her to look at him. When she finally looked up, he kept one hand under her chin to keep her from looking away then used the other hand to grab her ankles and pull her feet down, making her gasp in surprise. Her previous position was making him uncomfortable.

They stared at each other for a full minute, both aware of each other but not knowing what to do.

"I didn't mean to eavesdrop," Shouko said softly, looking very sorry.

Azuma didn't expect her to answer him. He was even about to drop the question for now but she talked. She kept on surprising him. He wondered if she'll honestly answer him or even answer him so he asked next, calmly, "What were you doing?"

"I was trying to get away from the people," she answered. Shouko attempted to look away but Azuma didn't allow it.

"When you are talking to me I want you looking at me," Azuma said honestly, sounding disappointed at her.

Shouko frowned. "Sorry."

Azuma hesitated for his next question. Half of him wanted to know but half of him didn't want to know how much she'd heard… how much she could use against him.

Shouko felt like she needed to talk more and figured she should assure her upperclassman. "I won't tell anyone what I heard. I promise!" she said then started chattering. She stopped when Azuma took his hand from her chin to brush his hair. He let out a sigh. "Are you okay?" Shouko finally asked, noticing the flutist looked tired now that he is less guarded around her.

Azuma nodded and smiled sweetly. "I'm fine," he answered her like how he usually did in public.

"You don't need to do that," Shouko gently pointed out. "At least to me you don't need to."

She saw Azuma's horrified expression before he immediately masked it. He was going to deny but Shouko already got tired of acting. She stopped him by placing the tips of her fingers on his lips. She shook her head. "No," she said stubbornly but then backed out when she saw a flash of anger in his eyes.

"What exactly did you hear?" Azuma asked, threatening.

Shouko gulped. She reached for something to hold onto but Azuma took the hand she used to stop him from talking and brought it back to his lips. Her other hand gripped her skirt tighter. She could feel herself blushing and he seemed not to mind.

"Well?" he asked. Shouko tried taking her hand back but he wouldn't let go. In fact, he brushed his lips across her fingers while waiting making her very conscious.

"I can't concentrate," she finally told him.

Azuma looked surprised and Shouko was pleased to see he didn't try to hide it.

"Hand," she said, nodding at her hand.

He let it go.

Shouko giggled. She's liking what's happening. She immediately stopped though when she saw Azuma's expression.

"Everything," Shouko finally answered, feeling really nervous again. She really didn't like causing others trouble.

"Pease elaborate," Azuma frowned at her. She watched him cross his arms across his chest and tap his foot three times on the ground.

She licked her lips, recalling what happened at the fundraiser. "I actually got there first," she started. "Because I'm still not used to big crowds. I hid behind the tree thinking no one would see me there and I can have time to calm myself," she confessed. "I heard you say your life was unfair. Asked why you had to listen to your grandmother at your age when you are capable of making decisions on your own. You were saying things about traditions which should be thrown out the window. You said you were tired. You feel restricted. You hate having to keep your image. You hate having to act like the perfect person. You also hate the fact that they expect the best from you but you must not overshadow your brothers… something like that." She remembered feeling shocked. She always thought Azuma was naturally kind and amazing. Her friend Nami Amou told her before that Azuma Yunoki is shady because he was too good to be true. He is perfect but she didn't know behind all those was a lonely boy. A boy who was restricted to do whatever he wanted freely. Shouko never felt like that even though they both came from a wealthy family. She was loved, was given everything she wanted and she was allowed to freely do whatever she wanted.

Shouko wondered if she should also mention she heard the fact that he found Kahoko as an amusing toy but Len Tsukimori stole her from him. To Shouko, it sounded like a broken hearted man speaking. It was a surprise to her to know Azuma liked Kahoko. She didn't want to embarrass the man though. He already hurts from knowing her friend Kahoko and Len are now together.

She saw Azuma's expression. He looked really serious and he is taking in every word she said. She felt like being playful so she added, "You also said you are gay." She tried keeping a straight face.

Azuma's eyebrows raised. He stared at her and Shouko stared back, trying not to laugh.

"You have good ears if you heard all that," Azuma finally said. "I didn't think I was too loud and thought you might have just heard a few incoherent sentences." He frowned at her. "You lied about the last part. I never said that."

Shouko threw back her head and laughed. She was caught. "People say I've got good ears," she told Azuma after calming down a bit.

"You know what I'm good at?" Azuma asked, smirking.

"Acting?" Shouko guessed, slowly relaxing around Azuma.

Azuma shook his head and leaned towards Shouko. Shouko blinked, leaning backwards to keep distance between her and him. She wasn't sure what he was trying to do but it was making her self-conscious. She was almost lying on the front seats, the gear shift keeping her from lying completely, when Azuma stopped. His face was only an inch from hers. She could feel his breath on her face.

"Making you blush," Azuma answered, chuckling.

And she was blushing.

"I-I blush at almost everyone," she defended herself, surprising Azuma she actually talks back.

"What do you think a man does when he is this close to a woman?" he asked Shouko making her blush even further if that was possible.

When Azuma got the reaction he wanted, he leaned back then touched her upper leg which made her jerk upward to a sitting position. She was awfully sensitive and he liked it.

"Move to the other seat. I'm taking a lost girl home," he commanded, dropping the perfect Yunoki act. Azuma knew it was no use. She already heard him and he had dropped his guard far too long to pretend he was just acting. She is surprisingly sharp as well. Her timid nature only made her look innocent but she isn't as innocent as she used to be.

The only thing Azuma wanted to know is whether he could trust her. It is easy to say no one will believe her but still… time will tell.

"I'm not lost." Shouko moved her small frame from the driver's seat to the passenger's seat. She closed her door then buckled her seatbelt even before Azuma can close his door.

"Why the hell do you look like Christmas just came early?" Azuma asked, confused at Shouko's behaviour. She looked excited. It was obvious on her smile and slightly flushed cheeks. Her eyes also seemed to sparkle in excitement.

She giggled at him. "I've always wanted to have a car like this!" she said animatedly. "It is so cool!"