25 Minutes

After some times
I've finally made up my mind
She is the girl
And I really want to make her mine

Raiha fingered the ring in his hands. It was warm… the only warmth in the mild winter day. His only warmth… his only hope.

How long had it been? A year? Two? His memory was failing. Maybe washed out. Washed out by the pain and the loss. He closed his eyes. How sad. She did not know how much she meant to him then, so didn't he. It all began after she left. Wham. Empty closet. Note on table. Bye bye.

Raiha laughed bitterly. At the ring in his cold hand. He had wanted to propose. He really did. And after he got the ring, stepped into the house, no more Fuuko. Gone with the wind. Leaving behind a scrawled message on a yellow notepad that was the total remainder of their relationship.

And he laughed again. Softly. At his own stupidity

I'm searching everywhere
To find her again
To tell her I love her
And I'm sorry 'bout the things I've done

Raiha looked up from the warm metal ring. The day was not bright, a little overcast. It snowed mildly. A couple huddled over steaming doughnuts on the park bench. An old lady bent down and gathered her poodle into her arms. Such a homely scene. The world seemed so happy, so content.

He looked at a road sign. Reminisces Street.

Raiha sighed and put the ring into his pocket, his hands still tightly around it. His clothes were not as warm as he would have like them to be, and his face was numb from the chill. But there was always the ring, the warmth.

Perhaps it was some times later; he could not tell when. He just looked up from the snowy path and saw white marble. It was a well. Beautifully blending into the white landscape. Quite a holy sight.

There were angels carved into the marble. Baby angels of innocence. It gave a pure kind of feeling, like God was there, watching over the serene place. There was no one around, no activities to distract Raiha. Instinctively, his feet brought him to the side of the well.

The marble was freezing cold to the touch. There was a bell hanging where a bucket should have been. A rusted, silver one, but none the less, beautiful. It fitted into the picture perfectly.

Wishing well… Raiha looked in wonder. He leaned forward to take the rope of the bell in hand, wondering what it would sound like. He had too many wishes to make, too many things to say, that he did not know where to start.

So he just kept quiet, let go of the rope, stood there. And looked at the ring again.

He was sorry. He wanted to say he was sorry. He wanted to tell and sob out to Fuuko, wanted to tell her he was sorry for letting her down. He had not mean to neglect her. He had not meant to fight back at her accusation. He had not meant to hit her.

He had not meant to drive her away.

Raiha buried his face in his hands, praying silently. She had to be somewhere in this small town. He had been all over it for the past few days. Searched everywhere. She was here; she had to be here. It was only the problem that she was not here at the right time. That he missed her every time.

He bit his lips. There were so many things to say. So much bottled up feelings. All the torture of the past two years. He had to tell her. Tell her he was sorry. Tell her he wanted to be with her. Tell her he loved her.

I find her standing in front of the church
the only place in town where I didn't search
She looks so happy in her wedding dress
but she's crying while she's saying this

Four more hours. He walked on. Was he even still on the same town? It had felt so long. He raised his head. It was already noon. There was a crowd in front of him… in front of a church. He stared. How many times had he passed by this street? There was that bakery on the opposite side… little quaint rows of shophouses. That old lady was still sitting on the tiny stool, selling cookies. He could even remember what exactly the bakery had in its window. But he had not noticed the white white church before.

Something landed at his feet softly. Blinking in surprise, he looked down. Roses. A bouquet of red roses. Bending down slowly, he picked it up, smiling sadly. He tore his eyes away from the flowers and looked at the crowd in front of him. They were staring at him in shock. He stared back at them. They were familiar faces. He looked around, amazed.

Domon. Koganei. Kagerou.

His eyes flashed up the steps. Recca and Yanagi; in best man and bridesmaid costumes.

Beside them.

Raiha's mind went numb.

Fuuko.

He held the bouquet up, unable to say anything. His eyes stayed on the bouquet for a few seconds, then turned to Fuuko. Fuuko, the forever beautiful one. Fuuko who was always smiling. Fuuko in a white wedding gown.

She looked back at him, unable to move. She took in the finely chiseled features, the purple hair topped with a little frost. And the emptiness in his eyes.

There was tension and silence for minutes. The two looked at each other. Mikagami did not interrupt. He just stood beside his bride, anticipating the results.

Raiha finally realized the change in atmosphere, and broke eye contact. He smiled, ignoring the urge to retch, ignoring the tears that threatened to fall, ignored everything but the need to smile. Yes, he needed to smile; to make it through this without ruining the auspicious occasion.

So he smiled, and slowly walked up the steps to the wedded couple. He painfully held the bouquet out, close to Fuuko, and her… husband. Her lips were trembling and her breathing quickened. She closed her eyes, trying to swallow the lump in her throat.

The tears spilled out all the same. She made no move to wipe them away. Maybe because she had not noticed. Raiha moved forward another step, and took out a hanky from his pocket to offer to her. Something made a 'clink' against the stone floor. He looked down mechanically.

It was the ring. Glinting silver in the pure white winter light. Raiha gasped softly and picked it up at once, and dropped it into his coat pocket. Fuuko took a shaky step forward, eyes never leaving the pocket. Raiha looked to the ground. Fuuko was standing there in front of him. The woman he had searched and pined so hard for. But now… what could he do? He knew. He really did. It was a matter of whether he could let himself do it… let himself kill his heart.

Fuuko put a shaking hand into his pocket and drew out the silver ring. She clasped a hand over her mouth and began to sob, gripping the ring fiercely. Raiha just stood before her helplessly, his hanky not taken. He could feel eyes behind him. Worried eyes, angry eyes, confused eyes.

Mikagami looked at him dispassionately. Raiha did not dare meet his gaze. He looked at Fuuko, waiting for her to say something. She ceased her tears after a while, and everyone just watched, leaving the future to fate. Her mouth quivered as she spoke, "What do you mean by bringing a ring to my wedding, Raiha? Is this meant for me? You come to my wedding with a ring to propose to me? You come after letting me grieve for two years… on the day when I could finally shed happy tears, you come to me. With the ring I had been waiting for, for two years. Tell me what is the meaning of this, TELL ME!!"

Raiha glanced at the ring clenched in her hands. Then at the anger and anguish on her face. His words lost themselves in his mouth. All the emotions fought to be out, but there was too much to say, too much he couldn't say. Not here, not now… nor ever.

Fuuko's anger shattered.

Boy I've missed your kisses
All the time but this is
Twenty-five minutes
Too late

She took him in her arms tightly, and cried loudly into his shoulders. "You jerk! Do you know how much it hurt? Do you know how lonely I was?"

Raiha did not respond to the hug. Fuuko sobbed on. Mikagami just looked. "And you come back NOW! When I already have Tokiya! It's too late, Raiha, it's too LATE! It's… too late…"

Yanagi made a move to reach out for Fuuko, but Recca pulled her back. Yanagi put her arms around Recca and cried softly too.

Fuuko held on to Raiha's neck for some time, until her weeping stopped. She took her head off his shoulders slowly. Raiha looked her in the eye, not daring to speak, knowing that Fuuko's newfound happiness would be gone if he did.

Though you traveled so far
Boy I'm sorry your are
Twenty-five minutes
Too late

Fuuko glared back at him, then leaned forward to give him a deep kiss. Familiar lips touch his. Warm. Feeling like home, feeling like love. He wondered if he could ever possess any of the two in his life. It was a while before he responded to the kiss. He hugged Fuuko around the waist with one hand, and wiped away her remaining tears with the other.

He closed his eyes. It would be the last time. Fuuko started murmuring against his lips. "I've been waiting… wondering when I can touch you again. I missed your smile, your laugh, your voice, your lips, your kiss. I missed you, wanted you, needed you. I know you hurt too… I know you hurt now. But it's too late… and you know that…"

Finally, Fuuko pulled away. It was all far too short. Raiha felt the warmth from the kiss retreating, leaving his heart empty, cold. He let go of Fuuko's waist, and stepped back. And gave a small smile. "Congratulation, Fuuko, Mikagami. I… never knew you guys would… get married." He paused painfully. "And… I just wish you all the best."

He held out the bouquet to the couple. Laughing weakly, he said, "I don't think I'd be needing this."

Fuuko glared at him through new tears. Mikagami took the bouquet quietly.

"And… don't feel that bad, Fuuko. This ring isn't for you, dear. It's for my girlfriend."

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to drive you away.

"I got to know her after you went away."

Didn't mean to come this late.

"But then she stormed out on me too a few days ago."

I've so much to tell you. But I know I can't say them now.

"I want to propose to her, and I've been searching this town for a few days already."

I've missed you so much. I've been lonely too.

"Just… want to catch her… before it's too… late."

I want to be with you. I want you to be with me.

He took back the ring from Fuuko's hands. "I wondered why these few days… without her… have felt so… long." He closed his eyes, to stop himself from choking on the words.

I love you.

He held the ring tightly and turned. Walked away.

Down the steps.

Onto the snow.

Keep walking.

Straight.

Don't stop.

Can't stop.

Just walk.

Walk away.

Fuuko started to cry again, and Mikagami embraced her soothingly. She muffled her howls on his shoulders. And whispered to half to herself, half to Raiha, "You were always a bad liar… late comer…"

Against the wind
I'm going home again
Wishing me back to the time
When we were more than friends

The snow was getting heavier. The cold gusts smacked him in the face, giving him the slaps he should have received but never did. The constriction in his chest was getting harder and harder to ignore. Raiha slowed down his steps. Where was there to go now? He had planned to look for Fuuko, to seek forgiveness. Then, he would either beg for a chance to wait for her to change her mind, or tell her how much he had hurt in the two years.

But… he lost everything he could do. He was thankful for the goodbye kiss. While it lasted, he could still feel the heat, the warmth. He could still feel Fuuko…

She tugged on his arms urgently. Raiha turned away from the old sword he was looking at. Fuuko grinned at him and pointed at the window opposite. It was a beautiful black gown.

"Come on, let's go in and look!" she enthusiastically dragged the puzzled Raiha into the shop - Wedding Gowns and Bridal Accessories.

"Hey hey, Fuuko. What are you pulling me in for?" Raiha stood in front of the dress Fuuko had taken a fancy to.

"Wow…" she murmured, fingering the black silk.

"Erm… Fuuko?" Raiha tried again. "Come on, let's go, shall we? Before the sales assistant comes."

His girlfriend ignored him. "Say, Raiha-KUN, when we get married, can you get that dress for me? Can you? Say yes, will ya?"

"Oh, what makes you so sure you're going to be my bride?" Raiha teased.

"Heh, you should be honored." Fuuko started counting off her fingers, "How can anyone reject the beautiful, smart, charming, sweet, adorable, good-natured, witty-"

"Okay okay! You know I won't have anyone but you," Raiha surrendered, cuddling Fuuko in his arms.

"Ha! Now, how do YOU know I'll be yours?" she challenged, pecking him on the lips for the sweet embrace.

His fingers clenched around the silver ring. It was already cold.

But still I see her in front of the church
The only place in town where I didn't search
She looked so happy in her wedding dress
But she cried while she was saying this

And in the end, she never had the dress. She wore white instead. And she never had him. Or should it be the other way round? Raiha thought bitterly.

He could not have been any later in his life. Just run a little more, increase his pace, and he would have gotten to the church before she made her vow. A little more punctual, a little faster, before she said 'yes'. He could even have chosen to speak his heart. To let Fuuko know how much he loved her. Then maybe… just maybe… she would choose to go with him. His heart wrenched.

But that was selfish, Raiha knew. For two years… Mikagami had been the one by her side, the one to comfort her, the one to hold her. He had no right to take her away. Mikagami was not the one who made her cry… she would have a better future in his hands. She would be loved more in his hands. Raiha did not love her so much as to snatch her away from her husband. Raiha could not care if she suffered through 730 days. Raiha hated Fuuko for leaving.

Lies.

But it was all right to lie. As long as the pain lessened. As long as the road in front did not seem so long. It was all right. It would be all right, because nothing was right anymore; there was no difference.

Boy I've missed your kisses all the time but this is
Twenty-five minutes too late
Though you traveled so far boy I'm sorry you are
Twenty-five minutes too late

Thank you, Fuuko. Thank you for the happy times. Thank you for everything. Thank you for loving me.

Out in the streets
Places where hungry hearts have nothing to eat
Inside my head
Still I can hear the words she said

His footsteps slowed. Surprised, he found himself back at the wishing well. The angels on the sides smiled at him. He walked up, steps heavy. And looked. At the coins in the half-frozen water. At the number of people who had made wishes there, at the number of wishes made there. He wondered how many of them had come true.

It was then that he realized he had not made a wish at his previous visit. He had not dared to wish; he had wanted to leave everything to fate. Apparently, fate judged him undeserving of… her.

He held the silver ring up. It had already lost the warmth. And Raiha felt cold. Empty.

What do you mean by bringing a ring to my wedding, Raiha?

You come after letting me grieve for two years… on the day when I could finally shed happy tears, you come to me.

Do you know how much it hurt? Do you know how lonely I was?

I know you hurt too… I know you hurt now.

But it's too late… and you know that…

Raiha closed his eyes and brought the metal ring to his lips. For the last time, he held it.

Then, Raiha dropped it into where the ice was thinnest. The transparent water cracked, allowing the heavy ring to sink. His hopes, his warmth. Down… towards the bottom. Along with all the other wishes. Raiha watched it with the agony loud in his heart. He took the rope of the bell and rang it softly. So… it sounded like a church bell… like a church bell…

Don't cry, Fuuko. Fuuko always smiles. The smile I love.

Boy I've missed your kisses all the time but this is
Twenty-five minutes too late
Though you traveled so far boy I'm sorry you are
Twenty-five minutes too late


The ring touched the bottom of the well. It was like a crystal among the copper coins. And it shall forever be buried.

I know you hurt too… I know you hurt now.

I can still hear her say…

But it's too late.

Raiha knelt down and cried.

After words…
This is my first one-shot fic and first romance piece that actually looked like a romance piece. Although, yes, it's angst, but you know… it's pretty good, by my standard, considering that it's done in three hours. I made use of a lot of irony, for those who had not noticed. And a lot of repeats. This song is actually a ballad, one of my favorite songs. So… I've nothing else to say, actually, just don't flame me. I know it's horrible.

Some (okay, a LOT) people mentioned that Fuuko will NEVER have the guts to kiss some strange guy on the lips on her wedding day. Ack, I agree totally. But the kiss to Raiha is sort of a goodbye kiss, nothing else, so that's why MIkagami didn't bash the purple-hair bishonen up ^^

And now the answer to the favorite question of all times *sarcasm* Why oh wHy is Mikagami the groom??!! Well... *sheepish* I'm sorry if i'm too asesthetically orientated... but I have this feeling that more than half the readers will burst out in laughter if it was Domon... >< and anyway, Domon will spoil my whole plot by bashing Raiha up, and he'll die freezing and immobile on the snow ^^;;

Credits to Yuki Majokai who provided the chance for the idea to occur to me. Credit goes to me for grabbing the story before she declares she wants a part in it. Be glad, because if she joined in, Raiha would have probably fell down the church steps and died. (MWPHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!) *gets plonked*

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25 Minutes the story is an original piece of work copyrighted to saturn de wicked™. Characters in this fanfiction are adapted from Flame of Recca without permission from creator and are copyrighted to their respective owners.

Lyrics incorporated into this fanfiction belong to Michael Learns to Rock, from the song 25 Minutes of album Paint My Love.