Disclaimer: Nope. Still don't own them.
I've been gone from this fandom for so long! Almost seven months! Can you believe it? Hehe.
Anyway, I thought that I cannot write another 1-shot for my Kindred Arc since I was like, I wrote in all the major characters already— Ganko in Kindred, Recca in BLT, Mi-chan in Changes, Kaoru in Caught, and Domon in It's Only Words. But then, I realized that there's one more major character in FoR that I haven't written about. Only problem was I don't like her. I mean, if you read BLT, you'll know what I mean. But this is a challenge I'm posing to myself. To write about her.
Bear in mind that I don't like Yanagi or any anime character with variations of her personality. I find them flat. I always like my women strong and independent, who can take care of themselves. I like 'em loud and proud. I like Fuuko and I hate Yanagi with a passion. So be warned.
This is for…
Me-anne, for finding the strength to get over her mistake and stand again. This one's for you. Can't wait to see your twins.
G-Cleft, for writing a fantabolous story that kicked my arse into gear. After reading this, check out her fic, Memorabilia. It's great. I should know, I'm the story's beta-reader. Hah. BTW, hun, where's the next installment?
bishlov, who, until this very moment I find it hard to believe, reads my stories. And yes. I'm still here, waiting for you to update your stories.
ALL of you who tookthe time off to review my previous works. You guys rock. You are the reason authors like me continue to subsist even without monetary compensation.
And most of all, for a certain someone, who shall remain unnamed, who, I heard from a very reliable source, is about to give up on the Tofuu fandom after writing a lot of excellent fanfics, one of which had a challenge, which I answered not once but twice. Hope this fic inspires you, sweetie, to never give up on a good thing.
Yup, this is my latest installment in the Kindred Arc. But if there's a new reader out there, don't worry. This fic could stand alone. Though a little background wouldn't hurt. But basically, all you need to know is Mi-chan's a fresh grad, Fuuko's a senior college student, and they're engaged.
I realized that I made an error continuity-wise regarding the Kindred Arc. So they should be read as follow: Kindred Chap 1-9, BLT, Changes, It's Only Words, Caught, then this one, and then Kindred Chapter 10. Though I wrote It's Only Words before Caught, the order of reading should be switched. For a more detailed description, go to my blog, triple w dot xanga dot com slash khayee. This takes place a few days after Caught. So Mi-chan's a fresh grad and Fuuko's an incoming senior.
It's been said that if you're about to die, your whole life would flash before your eyes in a single second.
But as of the moment, she can't really recall even one childhood memory so she took it as a sign that she wasn't going to die just yet. Or maybe the reason why she couldn't remember any recollection of herself as a child was because her brain kept reminding her to 'breathe' and to 'hang on for dear life.'
"You alright back there, Yanagi-san?"
Yanagi Sakoshita snapped out of her reverie at the query from the front of the car.
"She's fine," the laughing driver assured the person beside her. "Me and Yanagi-chan like to feel the wind in our hair!" She declared with a toss of her long purple locks.
The man beside her ignored her and turned to the person in the backseat. "Yanagi-san?" He asked, his blue eyes filled with worry. "You look a little pale. Is Fuu-chan's driving bothering you?"
"She is not!" Fuuko protested as the car suddenly stopped for a red light. Fuuko twisted around to look at Yanagi. "Are you?"
"No, no. I'm fine," Yanagi forced a smile on her face. "I'm probably just tired."
"See, I told you." Fuuko turned her attention in front.
The three of them were driving back home, Fuuko and Tokiya Mikagami from Tokyo U, and Yanagi from visiting her aunt who lived near the university. They had been traveling for two hours now.
Yanagi knew how much perceptive Tokiya could be and she knew she wasn't fooling him with her tired act. She dreaded what he was going to say next, but all he did was stare at her for a minute longer straightening in her seat.
Men's laughter brought Yanagi's attention to the car that had stopped beside hers. The vehicle was filled with college-aged men, no doubt also going home from their colleges.
"Bye, gorgeous," with a wink, Fuuko stepped on the accelerator as the light turned green. "What?" She innocently asked her boyfriend beside her who seemed to be livid with rage.
"You had to ask?" Tokiya gritted out.
Fuuko laughed. "Harmless fun," she waved Tokiya's jealousy away. "It's you I love,"
Tokiya rolled her eyes.
"And besides, if anyone has the right to be jealous, it should be me," Fuuko huffed. "I'd bet that guy wasn't really ogling me. He's probably trying to catch your attention," she teased.
Tokiya started to protest at that, claiming that no one had mistaken her for a girl since he cut his hair, but all Fuuko did was laugh.
With his silver hair in short layers very much like the popular bishounens on TV, Yanagi silently agreed with Tokiya that no one would mistake him for a woman anymore. Just no one would ever again mistake Fuuko for a man. She had grown her hair long and filled out in all the right places.
Yanagi realized that despite all of Fuuko's teasing, the men were indeed flirting with the purple-haired coed, and Tokiya had every right to be jealous. Fuuko was no longer the tomboy from high school who fits right in with the boys and never catches their attention. She was beautiful now. With her purple hair and expressive eyes, the full mouth, the sinful body, the flawless skin, no doubt that it was not only Mikagami-san who broke hearts in Tokyo University.
Fuuko drove Tokiya's car expertly into the highway. There were few cars since they timed their travel during the non-rush hours.
"Look, hon, no hands!" Fuuko laughed as she playfully raised both of her hands upwards.
"Fuuko!" Tokiya shouted in exasperation as he grabbed the steering wheel.
Fuuko brought both hands back to the wheel. "Relax. It's not like we're driving in traffic." She told him. "It's straight ahead for miles and miles with barely a car in sight."
"I don't know why I let you drive my car," Tokiya muttered.
"If I crash this car, I'd be doing you a favor," Fuuko told him. "I mean, this car's ancient. And with all the money you put in maintaining this pile of bolts, you'd probably be able to afford a new one."
"This car's a classic." Tokiya glared at her. "And it's not the car I'm worried about."
Yanagi had to smile at the exchange. A real one, not a forced one like she had earlier. Despite all the changes Fuuko underwent on the outside, she was still the same free-spirit inside.
Her musings were interrupted by the ringing of a phone.
"Mine!" Fuuko cheerfully announced as she produced a phone from her pocket.
Tokiya glared at her as he snatched the phone from her hands. Muttering something about statistics and the number of vehicular accidents caused by a driver talking on the phone, he answered her caller with a gruff 'Hello.'
Fuuko merely shook her head as she turned her attention back on the road before Tokiya could have a coronary.
Yanagi felt incredible loneliness from watching the exchange. She never realized how much she missed Recca until that moment.
Years ago, during the UBS, if someone told her that Fuuko and Tokiya would end up together, she would've laugh at that person and have him committed. Different as night and day, the two didn't hang out together and were never close. Of course, Domon-kun and Raiha-san were there to seize Fuuko's attention, while Mikagami-san…
She knew that Mikagami-san had some sort of feelings for her. After all, her looks were identical to his deceased sister's. Secretly, she was flattered. After all, which girl in her right mind wouldn't? He was handsome, popular, and mysterious. She had harbored a few secret dreams of him and Recca fighting it out for her love, but aside for the deal in the fountain and in the mirror house (which was all about Mifuyu-san, anyway, and didn't count), they never did. She knew that Mikagami-san would gladly lay down his life for hers at that time. But now, all his love and devotion was geared towards the other woman in the car.
"Ran-san," Tokiya greeted the caller. "Fuu-chan's driving and she can't get to the phone right now."
"Yes, I can," Fuuko called out gleefully, loudly, no doubt with the intention of having the caller hear her. "But someone's being a stick in the mud, as usual."
"I don't see how fearing for our lives make me a stick-in-the-mud," Tokiya mumbled on the phone. "You drive bad enough, Fuu-chan,"
Fuuko made a face.
"Yes, Ran-san, the engagement party's still on two weeks from now. Yes, I'll email the directions as soon as I can. No, you don't have to make reservations in a motel, you can stay in my house." Tokiya answered the questions periodically, blandly, as if he had done so before.
The mention of the engagement party turned Yanagi's attention to Fuuko's fingers where a gold band studded with diamonds rested.
She kept forgetting that Tokiya and Fuuko were not just boyfriend and girlfriend. They were engaged.
A bolt of hot jealousy shot through Yanagi, so unexpected that she jerked in her seat. Fortunately, the two in the front seat were too busy to notice.
Tokiya hung up and slipped the phone into his own pocket. "Are you sure they'll fit in my house?"
"Have you seen your house, Mi-chan?" Fuuko asked incredulously.
"But you've invited too many people,"
"I did not!" Fuuko protested.
"Oh, let me see." Tokiya gave her a grin that could only be described as wicked. "All of your classmates,"
"There's only thirty of us majoring in meteorology," came the weak protest. "And not all of them are coming, anyway,"
"Your sorority sisters," Tokiya held out two fingers.
"It's not like I had a choice. If I invite one of them, I had to invite all of them.
"Your teammates in the track team."
"They're my friends."
"And my classmates."
"Well, someone had to invite them since you wouldn't." Fuuko glared at him. "I mean, I think they're more my friends than yours, you know. And it's all your fault 'cause you insist on being cold and aloof and stuff."
"They're your friends because they think you're the ticket to getting closer to me."
"Oh, thanks a lot." Fuuko said dryly. "I thought they're my friends because they genuinely like me and think that I'm nice," she pouted.
"Fuuko," Tokiya began hesitantly. "I didn't mean it like that,"
Then, Fuuko burst out laughing. "I am friends with some of the guys in the Pol Sci department, you know."
Yanagi sighed. So Fuuko was pretty, fun, and popular. She couldn't help but think back in high school.
In high school, Yanagi was the princess. She was the one who was pretty, fun, and popular. Unlike Fuuko who never made friends with anyone because of her bossy demeanor. And let's face it, people are intimidated, to the point of being terrified, of her.
But Yanagi realized the tables were turned now. Now, Fuuko was the popular one. She had the dream boyfriend, a course she loves and would no doubt take her places, tons of friends, more admirers, a Class-A university, and she was engaged. Engaged!
As for herself, she recognized the fact that in college, she had wrapped her world around Recca, and because of that, she never had the chance to makes lots of friends. Yanagi loved Recca very much, but he was not, and never would be, the kind of man that her parents dreamed of for their daughter. They wanted someone who was smart, well-bred, and wealthy. Someone like Tokiya Mikagami.
And she was not engaged. She was just…
A sob tore from her throat which caused Fuuko and Tokiya to stop their banter and to turn to her.
"Yanagi-san?" Tokiya asked. He might love another now, but this woman who looked so much like his sister would always have a special place in his heart.
"It's nothing," she immediately waved their concern away. "I'm fine. Just the hiccups."
Before Tokiya could comment, the car jerked to a stop.
"We're here," Fuuko said cheerfully, trying to draw Tokiya's attention from Yanagi. Whatever it was that was bothering the ex-healer, she obviously didn't want to share it with Tokiya. Maybe she would try her hand at a little girl-talk later.
Yanagi's eyes widened. They were back. The car was parked in front of her house. The time she dreaded was here! Her mother would take one look at her and she would know! She would know!
"Fuuko," Tokiya warned.
"We made it in once piece, right?" Fuuko asked as she unbuckled her seatbelt. "Stop being a baby."
At the word baby, Yanagi couldn't hold it in anymore. She started to cry.
Two pairs of startled eyes turned to her, helpless to ease the pain that was besotting their friend.
Moments later, Yanagi felt soft, comforting arms encircling her frail form, undemanding, not asking anything, just offering friendship and love.
And Yanagi started to pour out her story.
Fuuko gratefully accepted the drink Tokiya handed to her. "Yeah. How is she?"
"Sleeping. I put her in your room. Hope you don't mind." He sat beside her on the couch and gathered her in his arms.
At Yanagi's insistence, Tokiya drove them to Fuuko's house instead of hers. The brunette claimed that she was still not ready to face her parents.
Tokiya pressed a kiss to Fuuko's forehead and the two of them were silent for a while.
"Tell her to tell Recca," Fuuko's voice broke the quiet. "She has to tell him or I will."
"It's not our place, Fuu-chan," he said gently.
"The hell it's not." Fuuko jerked away from him suddenly. "Recca's my best friend. I can't stand for him to be in the dark. He has a right to know!"
"It's her body, Fuuko," Tokiya's voice remained calm, calculating. "It's her choice."
Fuuko drew back as if she had been hit. "It's his," suddenly, Fuuko found herself to be blinking back tears. "It's his baby, too,"
And Tokiya couldn't help but gather her back in his arms. Fuuko rarely cried. But when she does, he felt like tearing apart whatever had caused her tears with his bare hands. He heard Fuuko snuffle once or twice before getting her emotions in check. She once more pulled back, but this time not to escape his embrace but to see his face.
"He has to know." Fuuko insisted.
"I know that." Tokiya was silent for a moment. "If it makes you feel better, she didn't go through with it. She changed her mind at the last moment."
"But I saw her in the clinic," Fuuko closed her eyes, as if to block out what was happening. "She told me she was just having a check up because she had been feeling down lately, being in her aunt's house and all. I never thought she went there to—"
"She admitted that the reason she was there was for that. She was in the doctor's office when she realized that she didn't want to go through with it." He smiled. "And she didn't know that the clinic was in the same building where the friend you were visiting was working. She never wanted anyone to know."
"Yeah." Her mouth thinned. "Not even Recca."
"Tell me, Tokiya, if it was you in Recca's place, how would you feel if you were kept in the dark?" She demanded.
Knowing she wasn't expecting him to answer, he kept silent.
"If she didn't go through with it, then how come it's—"
"She bled that same night, Fuuko. She lost it the same day she decided to keep it." Tokiya sighed. "She needs a friend right now, Fuuko. She needs you."
Fuuko sniffed. "I know. But you have to understand that Recca's my best friend before her. And you cannot blame me for becoming angry that the both of you wanted to keep something this big from him."
"I know." He placed her head on the crook of his neck. "But this is between the two of them. This doesn't concern us."
"Oh, it will concern us," Fuuko said dryly. "Once Recca finds out and learns that we knew and kept it from him, this will concern us."
Tokiya shook his head. "We'll deal with him when it gets to that."
"Why did you think she did that?"
Tokiya shrugged. "A lot of reasons. Possibly her parents. They strongly disapprove of Recca, you know?"
"And she probably got scared. She's an incoming senior. Her parents would freak out that their only daughter got pregnant on her last year of college. Think of the shame she thinks she would bring on her family."
"Why did she think that she can't tell Recca? He would've helped her everyway he can,"
"Possibly because she knew he would try to convince her to keep the baby." He replied as he distracted himself by combing his fingers through her hair. "And she feels that she can't do that, her parents would be disappointed, grieved, and shamed."
"How about now? How come we can't tell him now?"
"She probably thinks that what she's done is unforgivable, though the choice was taken out of her hands in the end. She's probably afraid to lose is love because of this."
"Mi-chan?" Fuuko asked in a small voice after a few moments of silence.
"If it was me in Yanagi's place, would you be able to forgive me?"
"Of course." There was no doubt, no hesitation in his answer. They fell silent once more.
"You want to hurt Recca so bad right now, right?"
"You have no idea," he gritted out.
"Let's make a deal." Fuuko offered. "I'd be extra nice to Yanagi-chan and pretend that all of this doesn't bother me and I won't even tell Recca, but promise me you wouldn't do anything harsh like defend her honor and stuff. I mean, you couldn't even challenge him without giving away Yanagi's little secret, right?"
"It's a deal."
They fell silent once more, and once again, Fuuko broke the silence. "I suppose I should go check on Yanagi-chan,"
"Yes. You should."
Fuuko scrambled away from her fiancé, but he held him to her for a moment. "I love you."
Fuuko smiled. "Same here."
"Give your fiancé a kiss before you go?" He asked while playing with the ring on her finger.
And Fuuko happily obliged, thankful for the first time in her life that God hadn't answered her prayers back when she was in high school to make her more like Yanagi Sakoshita.
When she was younger, she thought that Yanagi's life was perfect. Perfect looks, perfect grades, perfect family. She even had the boy Fuuko thought she wanted for herself. And even when bad things happen to her, she had tons of people to get her out of trouble. Hadn't even she offered to lay down her life for the ex-healer?
She never realized that like her, Yanagi had problems too, and that the other girl had problems like other people. She now knew that just like her, Yanagi makes mistakes and bad choices.
Fuuko was glad that she wasn't Yanagi Sakoshita.
Fuuko was happy that she was just plain, old Fuuko Kirisawa.
1. Read and review! Mwah to all of you in advance.
2. I don't know the engagement tradition thingies in Japan so let's just pretend that Fuuko's a modern woman and all that rot.
3. I also don't know if abortion is legal in Japan but for the purpose of this fic, let's pretend that it is.
4. There's a lot of things that I don't seem to know, so why don't we add one more to the list: I don't know when you'll hear from me again, so let's enjoy the moment, shall we? Thanks for the ride. =)