Note from Author: I give you this chapter in shame. I am lazy. I apologize. It's been nearly a year since I updated! I sat myself down (I'm suffering from a cold from Satan's eternal pit of eternal suffering, so I didn't go to school today.) and finished this chapter. Thank you to all those reviewers who threatened me over and over and flooded my inbox. This chapter is dedicated to you! See, persistence does pay off!
Also, I plan to finish this story off in about 3 chapters. (Knowing me, that will take 3 years. ;;) So hopefully I'll get my butt moving on that.
To Baby Blues Jaded: No, the story is not dead! I'm just lazy! Your email was the final push that got me to freakin' finish this chapter. I think it came out well. And will Saitou ever say "I love you"…. Hmm…. We'll have to see.
To Jalilah: I'm not sure if I've ever read "meet Tokio" before, but I agree, the serious SxT fics are better than the humorous ones. I've read a lot that were out of character, so I try really hard to stay in character with Saitou. This was extremely difficult for some scenes in this chapter, so I had to cut the dialogue short. :( Thanks for the writing compliment, btw!
To Dragon-Vamp: I'm glad you like the relationship. I noticed that it's a lot more serious in the later chapters than in the beginning ones… possibly because it took a few chapters to ease my Saitou-Tokio awkwardness. Saitou is a hard character to write for, and this is my first full-fledged romance.
To Melaniesanzo: I really hope I emailed you about the name… I think I did, didn't I? Well, Kari can be used for whatever or whoever, so there ya go. I'm glad you liked the name.
To Reis Nailo: Thank you, this is also my first real 1st person POV fic. Your review gives me confidence.
To Joselyn Greenleaf: Persistent reviewergood in my book.
Lady Jaye1: I'm not sure when they'll find out Tokio is Saitou's wife. I don't think Kenshin would just tell them. I've had a few ideas on the subject. Of course, a certain member of the Kenshin Gumi may be visiting Tokio soon, and just maybe….
To All reviewers: I had so many reviews (and I'm not complaining!) that it would take a billion pages to reply to everyone, so I just did the ones with questions, mostly. Thank you SO much for sticking with me, and here's chapter 15!
Mrs. Fujita-Yes, I took an English liberty, so don't review about how I'm out of character.
Konban wa- Good evening
Chapter 15: And Then it Rained
"Just relax, Fujita-san."
I press my head against the pillow of my futon, closing my eyes and forcing my body to relax. The woman who speaks to me is Hoshino Arisa, the midwife who has come to my home. She is the apprentice of the woman who delivered Kari, Sakamoto Naho. She is younger than I am, but I trust her abilities. Though it would have been best, I didn't call for her until a week after my incident—I didn't want to risk her seeing any bruises. Saitou is waiting outside.
I haven't had any signs of a miscarriage, but I wanted to be sure. I try to think about other things as Arisa gently checks me—anything to keep me from thinking about being touched there. I start pondering on what I should make for lunch, then for dinner, than a possibility for dessert, and then breakfast the next day. By the time I've gone through all the meals for the next three days and my next preschool lesson, Arisa has finished. She washes her hands in a basin and tells me everything looks fine, and I shouldn't worry. She says to call upon her in a few months to see how everything is going, and gives me a warm smile. I think she senses my uneasiness. I thank her, and she departs.
As I adjust my dressing, I think of Saitou. He has been so kind to me over the last week. He has only gone into work once because it was necessary. He gives me time to myself when I need it, but usually goes throughout the day at my side. Though I haven't told him, I appreciate his presence more than anything else. I don't want to be alone.
Fully dressed, I leave my room and head to the kitchen, peering out the door that leads outside. Saitou is in the corner of my view, doing something with Eiji and Kari. I return to cutting vegetable for the tempura I had started when Arisa arrived, trying to get the food ready by noon.
I sweep the pile of debris into the dustpan, taking it outside to dispose of it. It's strange… it had been so bright and sunny just a moment ago, but now I find myself in the midst of the night. I peer up, but only see the moon—there aren't any stars. I return into the preschool and gasp. Here's there… standing right there, at the front of the room…
"Oushige…?" I ask, dropping the dustpan and intensifying my grip on the broom.
He smiles at me—a sort of half-smile that matches the mischievous look in his eyes. His hands go into the pockets of his western-style pants and he starts walking towards me. "You're so beautiful…"
I turn for the door, but it's gone. Instead I find myself facing the chalkboard. I turn around. He's still coming towards me. I frantically look for an escape, but the windows have vanished. The room is closing in on me.
I try to run, but he grabs me with both hands, forcing my back against his chest. I scream, but no sound comes out of my mouth. He grabs my hair and turns me around, shoving my face to his mouth. I can't breathe. I try to push away, but I can't.
Now I'm on the floor, he's on top of me. I'm crying, but he doesn't notice; doesn't care. His hands plunge for the hem of my kimono…
"Yamete!" I scream, sitting up. My eyes fling open. I'm in the darkness of my room, sitting up on my futon. My entire body is flushed with heat and perspiration. I gasp for air and bring a hand to my forehead. I feel another hand on my shoulder.
"Tokio," Saitou's low voice whispers.
"Gomen ne." I reply, still trying to catch my breath. I pulled my knees up and rest my elbows on them. "Gomen…"
Saitou moves in a kneeling position, facing me. I can make out his outline from the moonlight coming through the window, and the side of his face. He puts a hand over mine and leans in towards me.
"Were you dreaming again?"
He sighs. "This is the fourth time, Tokio."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"You're not at fault, you don't need to apologize."
We talk just a little more, sleepiness hanging on both of our voices. We lie back down, and Saitou pulls me close to him. I press my forehead against his shoulder and attempt to flush my dream out of my mind and will myself back to sleep. Though I don't like making these outbursts in the night, part of me is thankful for them. In all four dreams since the accident, I managed to wake up before I relive the trauma.
"The flower is blue." I say, ending the sentence on the chalkboard with a period.
"The flower is blue!" The class repeats with enthusiasm. They turn their eyes to their homework and slowly copy down the sentence I have drawn for them. I turn and watch them. Several of them race to see who can get the sentence written down the fastest. Those papers I find a bit harder to grade.
I turn back to the chalkboard and write the next sentence for them to copy. "Ki wa midori desu." The tree is green. I make my print fairly large so the figures are easy to read, especially for those sitting in the back. I turn around. "All right class, this sentence says—"
The door the preschool opens, and one of my students pops in, having run late to class. It only takes me a moment to identify her: Amaya. Oushige Amaya. I look at the five-year-old and instantly feel the color drain from my face. My heart pounds against the inside of my chest, and I put a hand over it to keep it from jumping from my body. This is the second day of preschool I've taught since the incident. Amaya hadn't shown up during the last one.
Amaya glances at me with innocence and quickly runs to her seat in the back. I shake my head and swallow hard. "Welcome to class, Amaya-chan." I realize my voice is shaky, but none of the children seem to notice. I clear my throat and quickly turn back to the board. Taking a deep breath, I say, "The tree is green."
"The tree is green!" The class shouts. I hear their pens scribble quickly onto their paper.
I quickly go to my desk and pick up a piece of paper, then walk to the back of the room and place it before Amaya. "Here you go, copy as many sentences as you can, okay?"
Amaya looks up and smiles at me. "Hai."
I bite my lip. She looks so much like her father.
I turn around and head back to the front of the classroom, rubbing my temples. A sudden headache as struck me. I stand next to the chalkboard and wait for the class to finish, but I feel uneasy. I don't really know why… I had felt just fine when class had started. This was the same anxiety I felt off and on two days ago, when I gave the lesson on foreign words. I face the chalkboard, trying to give myself a moment to collect my thoughts. My forehead is throbbing.
"Mrs. Fujita?" A voice calls from behind me. I turn to see Yoru with his hand in the air. "Are you sick?"
I try and smile. "Iie, Yoru-chan. I feel fine. Thank you." I pick up the white chalk and write the next sentence. "Shoujo wa kirei desu." The girl is pretty.
You're so beautiful…
I jump and drop the chalk in my hand, the piece breaking in two as it hit the floor. Why? Why did I think of that just now? Why does his voice keep penetrating my mind? My sleep? Oushige… Oushige has been incarcerated… so why does he continue to haunt me?
"The girl is pretty." I quickly say.
"The girl is pretty!" The class repeats.
I don't bother to pick up the chalk on the ground. I pass by my students writing down the sentence and head for the door, exiting the room and stepping into the late-July air. Looking around, I don't see anyone near. I lean against the door and take a deep breath.
Konban wa, Tokio. Why are you here so late?
Still, it's a little late for a woman to be out by herself…You're so beautiful…
I push both my palms against my forehead. "Yamete… Stop, please stop…" I whisper to myself, trying to use my own persuasion to stall the memories of that night. My emotions push against my eyes, threatening tears. No, I can't do this now. Not now, not while I have so many children waiting on me. Besides, I'm over it. I was over it days ago… wasn't I?
I pull my hands away from my face and peer up to the sky. There isn't any sun, any clouds—just blue, endless sky. I wish the sky would fall and just engulf me in its endlessness.
My hand reaches for the doorknob. I still have a few more hours of preschool left. It isn't right for me to let my own pathetic problems get in the way of these children's education. I open the door.
"Ne, Children, why don't we take a recess a bit early today?" I ask. The pens stop and they all turn around. Smiles spread on their face and a few cheer. Instantly they rise off the floor and come towards me, forming a line they way they had been taught. I step aside and let them pass. As soon as they are out the door playtime begins.
With the door open I go to the front of the room and pick up the chalk I had dropped. I get a rag and erase the writing on the board. I convince myself that I went over enough sentences with my students today.
I'm only halfway done clearing the board when my shoulder starts to throb. I drop my arm and wait for it to cease, but it doesn't. I can feel my pulse in the healing wound. It hasn't bothered me for days, so why is it hurting now? I can't help but look over at the far edge of the chalkboard…
If you'd stop struggling, you wouldn't get hurt.
"Stop… please…" I shut my eyes hard, tears pressing through my eyelashes. "Stop!" I shout, balling my hand into a fist and slamming it against the chalkboard. I hear a small gasp behind me and turn around.
Kari stands there, eyes wide with surprise. "Mommy?"
I wipe my eyes quickly with the back of my wrist. "Hai, Kari, what's wrong?"
"Why you cry?"
"I'm… not." I lie. I must look… and sound… pitiful. I squat down to her height and brush her hair behind her ears. "Don't you want to go play outside?"
She nods, but holds out her hand. Between her thumb and forefinger is a brown and white duck feather.
"I got this for you." She says. I smile and take the feather. Without another word, she turns and scurries back outside. Standing up again, I examine the feather. The lack of color shows it's from a female duck. I run a finger over its smoothness; then lay it on my desk. I finish clearing the chalkboard.
The rest of the day went by rather quickly, which I was grateful for. I wait outside with the children until their parents show up—a routine I've done since the day Seishun Preschool opened. I was prepared to see Tohru show up for Amaya, but that didn't prevent my stomach from knotting up. Tohru's smile was the same, but her eyes revealed some sadness. She asked me if Amaya behaved herself. I told her she did, and that I was very glad to have her in my class. That was the truth, after all. Tohru thanks me and takes Amaya's hand, leading her home. I watch the two of them go down the road and realize that Tohru didn't know. She didn't know about my part, at least.
Mamo is left last again, and while I wait outside for him, Saitou comes into my view. He's in his uniform, so I assume he went to work while I was in school. I hope he's not becoming burdensome to the station. However, I believe he told me that he was off to work tomorrow, starting his full, long shifts again. I greet him with a smile. He smirks slightly, but not at me—Mamo is walking circles around me, his hand tracing along the fabric of my kimono, the other in his mouth. I admit it was a fairly amusing sight.
Makoto appears before me—She must have walked up while I was distracted with Saitou.
"Tokio-san, how are you feeling today?" She asks, grinning.
"Good. You're looking jubilant yourself." I say.
She nods and pats her stomach. "I'll have three come spring, Tokio!"
My face lights up. "Makoto! That's wonderful!"
"Yours and mine will be friends, ne?" She says as Mamo comes down the stairs and attacks her hand with his.
"Hai." I had forgotten telling Makoto about my pregnancy, but I remember now. Makoto waves and leaves with her son. I note a slight bounce in her step. I recall her mentioning she wished she had a daughter a few months ago. Perhaps this one will be lucky.
"Kari!" I call into the preschool. Kari had occupied herself drawing while I waited for the parents to arrive. "Let's go, Kari!"
Kari puts her pen down and comes running outside with a paper in her hand. She's not surprised to see Saitou there. She rushes to him and nearly leaps off the porch, Saitou grabbing her firmly to keep her from falling. She literally shoved her artwork into his face. "Look what I draw!"
Saitou looks at the paper. "That's… good Kari. What is it?"
"You!" She says with a giggle.
He raises and eyebrow and looks at me. I'm muffling my laughter with my sleeve. I had suggested to Kari to draw her father, but I won't admit it. I got a chance to see the finished work later—I must say, it had a striking resemblance.
Saitou puts Kari down, and we start walking back to the house. It's windy now, and the clouds on the horizon signal a storm is coming in. We didn't get very far down the road before Kari says, "Mommy was sad in school today."
My heart sinks and I quickly glance back at Saitou, who has both amber eyes locked on my sternly. I was hoping my fib would have persuaded Kari that I was fine. I suppose she's getting too old for that, now. "Ne ne, Kari," I open my hand to her, and she runs up and holds it. "What would you like for dinner?"
Kari starts listing off things, mostly desserts. I pretend to be fully interested in her conversation, but the feeling of Saitou's eyes on me distracts my mind from my daughter's ranting. I'm glad Kari's list goes on until we reach home. It prevented any uncomfortable silences.
I start dinner. It's a tofu dish and fried rice, probably the only two things that hadn't been on Kari's list. Oh well. Saitou comes in the middle of cooking it and asks me what Kari meant. I told him I hadn't the slightest idea. It was strange how easy it was to lie to him; I've never really been able to in the past. Why was that? Intimidation? Maybe at first, but Saitou has always been one I felt I could confide in. But this was too personal. I'm fine, anyway. It happened a while ago. Perhaps if I had been pure when Oushige… well, then I would have an excuse to still be upset over it. In my situation, I was overreacting. He hadn't taken away my innocence, my child was fine, and my bruises were healed. There wasn't anything to be upset about. As soon as I convinced Saitou of that, I would be convinced, too.
We sit down to dinner. Saitou is silent during it. I usually can't expect a lot of conversation anyway. I hope he's not still thinking about what Kari said.
Eiji asks if Yahiko can come over tomorrow. Saitou will be at work, so I go on and say, "yes" without much thought. Eiji has Kendo in the morning, and he and Yahiko can come home by trolley. Normally I would have been excited to have a friend of Eiji's over, but my mind is stuffed to the brim with thoughts about everything else.
Once everyone is done, I start piling the plates together to wash.
"Eiji, take Kari outside for a moment." Saitou says, standing up.
Eiji blinks a few times at Saitou, whose eyes are on me, not him. "Uh, okay. Kari—"
"You don't have to go outside." I say. I continued picking up dishes.
Eiji seems confused, but takes Kari's hand and leads her out the front door. Kari asks if they're going to play tag, and Eiji quickly answers "yes." Is the tension in the room that bad?
I pick up my stack of dishes and head into the kitchen, not bothering to give Saitou the slightest recognition. He follows in after me and folds his arms.
"Tokio," he says in his low, stoic voice. Part of me is afraid of that voice, or maybe part of me is afraid of answering to it. "What did Kari—"?
"I told you, I don't know." I snap. I hear myself and am ashamed at my rudeness, but for some reason, I can't get control over it. I start pumping water into the sink.
"She's four-years-old, for heavens sake!" I say, dropping the dishes ungracefully into the sink. "Since when did you start taking her seriously?" I don't look to see his expression, but I'm sure it's not pleasant. It's quiet except for the sound of my clanking dishes as I wash them almost furiously. I feel his hand touch my arm and pull away from him without even thinking about it. I haven't let him touch me since Oushige did, why should I start now?
I'm going to start crying, I can feel it. Please, not now. Don't make me cry in front of him, again.
"Do you insist I go to a child to find out what my wife has been doing all day?" He says, his voice cold.
"Well, I'm obviously not giving you the answers you want." I say, pulling away from the sink. I dry my hands off on my kimono and try to make it to the living room, but his hand gets a firm grip on my arm and he stops me.
"Why are you acting like this?"
…Acting like this? Why am I acting like this? I was raped, that's why! I wanted to scream it out so badly. I wanted to throw a tantrum and scream like a child, but I couldn't. I couldn't because "it doesn't matter," I say. Those dreaded tears of mine come. "It doesn't matter. It's been done, so it doesn't matter, right?" I'm making no sense, I'm sure.
His grip loosens on me. "I…"
"I told you I was fine, remember?" I ask, finally looking at him with my wet eyes. "I told you yesterday, and the day before that, and last night. I told you, remember? So…" my voice chokes, "why can't you just believe me?"
I sniff and pull away from him, heading out the door in the kitchen that lead outside. I wanted to run back as soon as my foot touched the grass, run back into his arms and tell him to make me forget, make me forget what it felt like to be touched by another man, but I didn't. I feel a raindrop on my nose. I gaze up to see heavy rain clouds hovering over me.
I'm glad. I'm glad that I won't be the only one crying tonight.
It only drizzles, and before too long I put Kari to bed. Eiji stays up reading. I'm glad that he's been able to find an interest in books. When I head down the stairs I hear a clap of thunder, and then the pounding of raindrops on the roof. With some excitement I run to the front door and slide it open. The rain comes down like a monsoon, pouring into the night. I watch it, mesmerized. I step onto the porch and take my socks off. The cold sensation of the rain when it first hits me is uncomfortable, but in a moment my body adjusts, and the cold water has suddenly become soothing. Strands of my hair become weighted down and fall into my face. I hold my hands out; cupping them together and watching them fill up with water. The rain drums unevenly against my head and shoulders. Soon it pierces through my kimono, running down my chest and back. I remember rains like this… how long had it been since I had stood outside in a storm? I spin very slowly, absorbing the sensation of the beating drops. Because of the storm's noise, I don't hear footsteps until they're right behind me, and the warmth of a hand rests on my shoulder.
"It's my fault, Tokio." His voice is barely audible over the drumming, "I didn't protect you."
Protect me? I turn around and face him. His narrow eyes have a soft, almost sad look to them. Was he sad, too? I pressed a hand to his neck. "Hajime…"
We stood out there in the rain for a long time. Every minute or so the sky would rip with a flash of lightening, and thunder would crash moments afterward. I stood out there and let every memory I've ever had pass through my thoughts, at not once did I feel like crying.
When we finally went inside, I asked Saitou, and he obliged. He made me forget everything that happened that night with Oushige Yuuhi, and from then on, I vowed to only give my tears to my protector, Saitou Hajime.