This chapter is dedicated to Kiiro Asakura at sa kanyang tutang nangangagat, as well as to TK-san, and to those who read & reviewed, read & enjoyed, and read & fell in love together with Tamao.
Cheers for Horo/Tamao! ^__^ It didn't go on hiatus! Lolz
Door…door… where is the door? I rubbed my eyes that were hurting from the smoke. I coughed several more times; the fumes were hurting my chest too. "Ponchi!!!" I called desperately. "Konchi!!!"
Awhile ago, I heard them calling me, but I couldn't speak because I was afraid to gulp in the smoke. But now that I was losing hope on finding the door, I had screamed, out of desperation.
How far away am I really from the door? And hasn't anyone seen the smoke yet by now?
"Horo…Horo-kun…" A tear dropped down my cheek. No, I couldn't die. He still needed me. He said so last night. I couldn't let myself die now.
A large chunk of the wooden pillar fell right in front of me, and there and then, I knew that everything is beyond my control now.
I collapsed onto the floor, exhausted. I was feeling my consciousness quietly slip away from me. I couldn't feel anymore the searing pain of the flames licking on the hay-covered floor I was lying on.
"Gomen nasai, Horo-kun. I love you and all…but…" I murmured, eyelids getting heavier every passing second.
I opened my eyes weakly. Was that my angel calling me already? Am I dead then?
But the voice sure sounded like…
I heard something kick open some feet away from me, then I saw light. Someone was standing at the end of it.
I smiled. Even in heaven, my angel still looked like him.
"Tamao!!!" He was at my side all of a sudden, shaking me vigorously. "Tamao, open your eyes! Come on, Flower!" he said beggingly.
Wait, only one person could call me that.
"Horo-kun?" I murmured.
"It sure isn't Santa Claus." He lifted my limp body up, then trudged through the flaming path.
Was it my imagination, or the flames were getting bigger?
"Put me down," I said. "You'll die too if you stay here. You can still make it out."
"Shut up!" he hissed. We both watched as another long piece of wood fell on our path.
"We'll make it out."
"There's no other way out…and I can't promise to stay conscious," I said. "I will just be a burden!"
"No prob," he said. "When you're unconscious, it will be much quieter."
"Horo-kun!" I was interrupted from what I was about to say when I noticed the roof above our heads crumbling. He followed my gaze.
And in that moment, the ceiling fell down on us. The last thing I was able to remember was that Horo Horo dove down to cover me from the falling debris.
I opened my eyes when I felt that everything had gone still. Why couldn't I feel the fire anymore?
"G'morning, Flower," said a familiar voice. I immediately looked up and saw Horo Horo grinning at me.
"W-We're…alive?" I whispered in disbelief.
He grinned. "I told you we'll make it out."
"We're alive!" I was incredulous.
He looked at me as if I was some kind of a lunatic. "Do you have a problem with that? Do you want me to start another fire again so this time, we'll really die?"
"I…I just can't believe it," I said, shaking my head. "Awhile back, I was so sure we're going to die and-" I remembered when Horo Horo suddenly dove on top of me to protect me from the ceiling. I crawled towards him, inspecting his forehead. "Horo-kun, were you hurt?"
"A little," he admitted. He pointed to the side of his head. I knelt and crouched closer to him to see the severity of his injury when suddenly he grinned- the old Horo Horo naughty boyish grin I adored and missed so much- and embraced me. "Got ya!"
"Wha-" I was too shocked to react even when he pinched my nose fondly the way he always used to do.
"H-Horo?" That was only then when I struggled to free myself from his grasp. "Oh my! You're acting like you used to! Then that means…"
He laughed and raised his hands in mock surrender; they still had traces of used furyoku.
"It's not funny!" I screeched. "When had you recovered your memory?"
"It took a little headbang to make me remember some things," he said, grinning sheepishly. "And since things kept banging on my head consecutively, I recovered majority of my memories now. I think it was the shock treatment."
I gaped at him, and he laughed once more. "OK, to be honest with you, I have already retained some of my working memories since we left China. Although some things were still hazy in my memory, I have enough memories to know the circumstances," he admitted. "But the most crucial recovery of memories I had was when I danced with you." He laughed, although his eyes were very, very serious. "When I held you close, everything fell into its places. And just to be sure whether everything was back to normal, I asked you who I was in your life. And I was right; I was back home."
"Home is where the heart is, and my heart lies with you," he said. "You are my home, Tamamura Tamao. Pirika and I have wandered all our lives, and I thought I was born a creature of the wind, always free. But when I found the small mimosa plant, I immediately knew that my days of freedom are over. I will forever be bound by that small lovely plant that crept silently its way into my heart."
I looked at him, almost fearfully. I waited for him to burst out laughing and say, "Got ya!" No, he couldn't mean the same thing my heart was hoping that he meant. He told Lyserg that I wasn't girlfriend material, right?
"Flower, say something!" he exclaimed. "I composed that dialogue while you were sleeping. Weren't you even touched?" He was a cross between an irritated boy and a very nervous-looking man.
"I-I was touched," I said slowly. "But I didn't understand."
"Gah!" He slapped his forehead. "Geez, I thought girls like poetic things?"
"Why…why were you suddenly so poetic?" I asked.
"Because girls like you like it," he explained, annoyed.
"N-No, I mean…what did you mean when you said all those freedom and wind stuff?"
He blinked, then groaned. "You're so dense!"
No, I'm not dense, I'm uncertain. But I pretended to play along. I wanted to hear him say it. "I just can't understand-"
"You don't, do you?" With one quick move, he had straddled me to the ground. I gulped inwardly.
"Actions speak louder than words…and it's more fun too." He bent down towards my face slowly.
"You're not going to…kiss"me, are you?" I asked, voice barely audible.
"Of course not. I intend to devour you, that's all."
"You'll carry this in your conscience. No one has kissed me ever before!" I threatened.
"Good. I'll kill any man who ever dared to touch my mimosa." He kissed my forehead lightly. "Mine." He kissed my eyelids. "Mine." My nose, my cheeks, and the corners of my mouth. "All mine alone." He smiled lazily at me, who was staring at him, stunned. Those feathery kisses had sent electricity up and down my spine.
"You fiend! I didn't specifically say you can kiss me," I said. Come on, Horo-kun. SAY IT!!!
"Kill me later. Just kiss me first."
"Ah, Horo-kun!!!" I couldn't stop myself anymore. "The magic words first, then you can kiss me without me killing you."
"Oh yeah, that's my Yahoo password. Um, Sesame seeds?"
"Horo-kun, all you have to do is to tell me that you love me!!!" I burst out.
"I do," he said, surprised. "I love you as much as I love the moon, the stars, and the chili hotdogs combined-"
"OK," And with that, I pulled him towards me and kissed him hard. The kiss swelled with so much passion and love frustrated many months by the accident, but had only fanned the flames in our hearts and strengthen them.
"Tamao," he gasped when we pulled apart. "That was my first kiss! I'm going to tell Pirika that you forced me and-"
I hugged him close, laughing. This felt absolutely wonderful. After all those months I've suffered, feeling like this was worth everything. Definitely.
"Thanks a lot," he said dryly. "I give my best liplock performance of my life and I get laughed at. Really now, you can hurt my feelings so well!"
"I'm just happy," I said.
"Me too, and very, very grateful." He held me close again. "Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you so very much, Tamao. I can never thank you enough though."
"Just hold me like this," I whispered. "And never let me go."
"Never," he agreed, holding me tighter.
What is forever?
I couldn't say it in words, but I could see it in his eyes, feel it in his arms, smell it in his scent, hear it in his boyishly rough voice, and taste it in his lips. Whatever forever is, it was already sealed in my mind when he said "never".
"Are you sure you don't want to come with us?" I asked, frowning.
Pirika smiled. "I am positive that I won't come with you and be the third wheel."
Her brother grinned approvingly at me while I felt myself blush from head to toe. "O-Of course you won't be a third wheel!" I stammered, but only solicited laughter from her.
Six years had passed since that fateful afternoon, but it seemed just like yesterday. All those nights I cried…they were all compensated by the fact that I still have Horo Horo by my side.
"Well, if you won't come with us, what do you want for us to buy for take-out?" I asked.
She tipped her chin up. "Fries and large coke."
Horo-kun raised a thumbs up, then bowed exaggeratedly at me. "Shall we?"
I beamed. "We shall."
Holding hands, we rode on his snowboard. We were going to watch a movie I had been eyeing for days already. The romantic type, and not exactly Horo-kun's cup of tea. But since he knows it was my favorite actor doing the movie, he set aside his plans of watching The Matrix to watch my movie instead. We would play Street Fighter versus match afterwards, then dine out.
I heard him sigh happily, so I asked him why he did that.
"I don't know…I just can't help but feel like I'm the happiest guy in the world. I can never find anyone else in the world like you, Tamao," he said, smiling. "I'm in love with my best friend and my favorite mimosa, and she loves me back, even if she won't admit it."
"I won't admit anything!"
"Yeah right. Maybe I should kiss you and check if you'll retract what you said."
"Horo-kun!" I was about to pummel him when I saw something. "Hey wait!"
He paused. "Huh?"
I pointed to the car on the other side of the bush. "What is a beautiful car doing in there?"
"Parking, maybe" said Horo, grinning.
"Be serious!" I froze when I saw someone emerge from the car. He was taller than I remembered, but I could definitely sense the aura. I couldn't be wrong.
"What are you looking at?" asked Horo, trying to crane his neck and see. I shook my head. "Nothing. Let's go! We have to catch the seats!"
"Come on!" I dragged him away from the bush. I smiled secretly.
Go Ren Tao. Go get her heart!