Disclaimer: Hana Yori Dango and all its characters is Yoko Kamio's. No infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: In my slightly skewed world, Doumyouji and Makino are spending the university years together. A girl can dream, can't she?
If she shut her eyes, she could almost imagine his tall frame leaning against the kitchen sink, taking up most of the space in her tiny apartment. But her eyes stayed wide open, painfully aware of the emptiness that lingered, afraid that if she closed them the tears would start again.
I am a weed, she reminded herself. Weeds do not cry. Especially not after four days.
There was work to consider, Tsukushi reminded herself, a part-time job at a nearby deli before heading off to her afternoon classes at the university. Then she had another job at a posh restaurant downtown, which often meant she came home very late at night. There was just no time to be sentimental over Doumyouji Tsukasa.
In fact, it had been all the work that drove him away. For the past few weeks he had been grumbling incessantly that she was barely at home at all. She had pointed out to him that it was only until the restaurant hired a new chef that they had to work double time. But after the chef had arrived and she was still spending all those extra hours, she had simply refused to tell him because he would have made her quit. While he had reluctantly accepted that she wasn't going to take his dole-outs, he was still adamant about the hours she spent working.
"You need a break," he had announced a few days ago, waving a pair of airplane tickets in her face.
"France?" she had asked incredulously. "It's the middle of the term!"
"What better time to drop everything and take a week off?" Tsukasa had retorted. "You'll spend a few days without worrying about the next exam or what time you need to be at work or whatever it is you poor people worry about. We'll watch Paris in the moonlight. It will be the perfect vacation, trust me."
"Doumyouji, people just don't do things like that!"
"But I do it all the time!" he had answered, as if that should have been all the reason she could ever need.
Of course, she had stubbornly refused and continued on with her routine. He had dropped the issue without further argument, leaving the tickets on her desk. She had thought it was a victory for her.
Then she came home four days ago. No Tsukasa, and only one plane ticket left.
Tsukushi recognized the two boys that entered the restaurant even before she could get a good look. Mimasaka Akira caught sight of her and strode towards her, ignoring the maitre d' who was ushering them to their seats. Nishikado Soujiro could only grin at her as he tried to appease the man.
"She's not working tonight," she caught him say. "She's joining us for dinner."
"I'm afraid that's not possible, sir," the maitre d' began to protest but Soujiro already had his phone out.
"I can ask permission from Takahashi-san himself," he said politely but firmly.
The next thing Tsukushi knew, she was seated between her two friends with a plate of angel-hair pasta in front of her. "You really shouldn't have, you know," she told them.
"Oh yeah? And when do you think we'd get the chance to talk to you?" Soujiro asked.
"You don't answer your phone, you never return our messages," Akira listed. "We tried waiting for you at your apartment and spent an hour there. I swear, Makino, when you don't want to be found, nobody will be able to find you."
"Except for Tsukasa," Soujiro interjected with a small laugh that soon faded into an awkward silence.
Tsukushi fiddled with her fork. "I'm assuming you guys know where he went."
Soujiro shrugged. "He's been asking Rui all these questions about France so that's where we guess he went."
"He left Tuesday," she said.
"You okay?" Akira asked.
She forced a smile. "Course I am. I should be used to the fact that when you guys want to take a breather, you just don't go to the park."
Akira leaned forward. "So what are you still doing here? Go follow him."
"Look, it's not that easy," she told them. "I have responsibilities here. I can't just leave everything and hop on the first flight to Paris. Maybe that's how you do it in your world, but here in the real one, it's just not done."
"You went to Canada. You went to New York. Why is this time any different?" Soujiro wanted to know.
"Because I don't want to indulge his spoiled rich boy fantasies."
Akira shrugged. "All he really wanted was to spend some time with the woman he loves. Where's the spoiled rich boy in that?"
At his words, the guilt of the past four days crept into the walls she had built. She had refused to acknowledge it all along, but it was there, the undeniable fact that she had driven him away when all he asked in the first place was so little.
When she spoke, her throat felt very dry. "Do you think Hanazawa Rui would know where he decided to stay?"
The moon was a gold crescent in the sky, slowly waning into the night. On her walk home, it peeked at her insolently through dark slivers of cloud.
The night felt strangely empty, and alone.
"Relax, Tsukushi," Yuuki assured her the following evening, sitting on the edge of her best friend's futon. "I'll take care of everything, don't worry. Don't you trust me?"
"Of course I do," she answered without missing a beat. "Don't forget to keep the door locked at night. The window over the sink jams every now and then so you'll have to push it really hard to open it. And my brother will come over on Monday so you'll have to be here to give him his allowance. And the bills are due on --"
"Wednesday," Yuuki interrupted with a laugh. "I know, I know."
Tsukushi took a deep breath, tightening her grip on the heavy bag she carried. She gave her friend a nervous grin. "Well, wish me luck. My plane leaves in three hours."
"Why, where are you going?" a deep voice asked her.
Tsukushi was afraid her mind was playing tricks on her, but when she turned around, he was really standing there, all one hundred eighty centimeters of him. She didn't even notice Yuuki discreetly excuse herself from the room, or realize that he had taken two steps to stand right in front of her. All her mind could comprehend was that he was there, and he was real, and she had never been so happy to see anyone in her whole life before.
"What are you doing here?" she finally managed to ask.
But he ignored her question, looking pointedly at the bags at her feet. "You planning to run out on me again, Makino?"
"I was going to run after you," Tsukushi retorted, then wishing the words back the minute they were out of her mouth. She knew Doumyouji. He was just going to get ideas.
She was right. Tsukasa just grinned widely. "Don't you always?"
She only managed to hit his chest with her fist once, before he caught her wrist and pulled her close. She buried her face in his coat, breathing in the comfortable warmth and scent of him. "I'm sorry," she murmured softly.
"What was that again?" he teased her, bending down to catch her words.
"I'm so sorry, Doumyouji. I got caught up in so many things that I lost sight of us," she continued, looking up at him. "You've given me so much and asked for so little in return, and I couldn't even grant you that."
Tsukasa gazed at her intently. "I'm sorry, too. I know I shouldn't pressure you to do anything you don't want to do. Or to expect anything more than what you can give."
"Did you just say you were sorry?"
"Don't rub it in," he growled. "It's bad for my image."
She let out an uncharacteristic giggle. "Well, I'm all packed now," she pointed out, leaning away from him. "I'm still open to the possibility of moonlight over Paris. Someone told me it was beautiful this time of the year. "
His hand found its way to her face, gently tracing the shape of her jaw. "It's just the same moon. I think I'd rather have the moonlight over Tokyo, if you know what I mean."
In his arms, she knew exactly that.END
More Author's Notes: Greatly inspired by the song Moonlight Over Paris. Hope it didn't turn out overly maudlin. Maybe if I stretched my imagination a little more I can actually come up with a nice waffy vacation for my favorite couple.