Ai Yori Aoshi – Koi
Chapter 9 – Night and Day
Kaoru and Mayu raced through the streets. Mayu glanced nervously over at Kaoru. She had never seen him so angry, not even when she had burst out so many months ago at the mansion. His face was taut with rage and his eyes blazed.
"Honjo-sama." Mayu said meekly. "I'm so sorry."
"Save your apologizes." Kaoru snapped. "You owe Aoi a bigger one, especially if that Kanaye does something to her."
Mayu bowed her head in shame.
"He won't do anything." Mayu said. "He loves her. He wouldn't dream of hurting her."
Kaoru was silent and did not look at her. Mayu felt both hot and cold, and her breath was harsh in the claustrophobic atmosphere, but she didn't dare move. Kaoru only spoke to her when he needed the next direction, but soon, he seemed to know where to go. A right turn, and Kaoru felt a sick twisting in his stomach as the sight of the Hanabishi house grew larger. He was also surprised to see a familiar car sitting outside the gate. He saw Tina, Taeko, Chika and Miyabi standing outside the gate, as well as Raina Itzuki. Kaoru stopped the car outside the gate and climbed out. Tina turned and when she saw Mayu, she lunged forward like a cat and slapped the girl hard. It took Takeo, Chika and Miyabi to hold her back.
"You little bitch!" Tina hissed. "I hope you rot in hell!
The rest of her words were lost in sobbed rage. Kaoru did nothing to stop or encourage Tina, but walked over to Raina.
"What's happened?" Kaoru said. "And I want the whole truth."
Raina stared at him simply. Kaoru could sense the seriousness and understood the situation was dangerous, but felt a comforting warmth from her eyes all the same.
"Hanabishi Kanaye is your brother." Raina said. "He's the result of your father and his sister. He's unbalanced and believes that by destroying you, Aoi will be his."
Kaoru appreciated Raina's straight-forward answer, but was still shocked.
"My father…he…" Kaoru couldn't continue.
"It would take too long to explain now." Raina said impatiently. "I want you all to wait here. I've called the police and they'll be blocking the entrances and exits around the estate. Kaoru, I need you to tell them where each and every exit is."
"I'm going in after Aoi!" Kaoru said angrily. Raina held up a hand firmly.
"The hell you are." she said. "You're a civilian and you'll be trespassing on private property. "
Kaoru stormed hard at the gate and kicked the stone wall.
"That help?" Raina asked him.
"Yes!" Kaoru growled.
"That hurt?" Raina asked, sounding almost amused.
"Yes!" Kaoru hissed out and rubbed his foot. Raina turned to Miyabi and the others.
"I want the four of you to wait until the police get her, and keep as far back as you can." Raina said and pulled a gun from inside her leather jacket. Then, she turned to Mayu.
"You will come with me." Raina said. It was not a request. "You know exactly where he is. Stay 3 feet ahead of me and do exactly as I say. Do you understand, Miyuki-san?"
Mayu nodded and moved carefully past the girls. Raina shot one more look at Kaoru.
"You. Keep watch on that car." she told Kaoru and followed Mayu inside.
Aoi was pushed against the futon, her shoulders bare and felt exposed. The futon felt cold and clammy, and the sight above her was even more sickening. Kanaye's black eyes had filled with a fire that was by no means loving, but possessive and animal.
"Let me go." Aoi said. "Let me go back to Kaoru-sama."
"My dear, sweet Aoi-chan." Kanaye whispered, assuming that he sounded loving. "You were promised to the heir to the Hanabishi house. At one point, Kaoru could call you his. But he abandoned you and his responsibilities, so I stepped forward to succeed where he failed."
Kanaye bent down and kissed her bare shoulders. Aoi flinched and tried to move away, but Kanaye held her fast and tightened his grip against her struggles.
"Don't fight me." Kanaye said, still softly. "I don't want to hurt you, so don't make it necessary."
Aoi shivered and began to cry. Kanaye wrinkled his nose and grabbed her hair pulled her up by it.
"Listen to me very carefully, Aoi-chan." Kanaye said and Aoi trembled at the sound of his voice.
"You are mine. Not that son of a bitch, Kaoru's. You and I are meant to be now."
A shuffling sound outside caused Kanaye to turn and Aoi saw Mayu come inside.
"Ah, my dear Mayu." Kanaye said. "I see you found your way here. No doubt Kaoru is not far behind. You've done well."
Mayu twisted her fingers and couldn't bear to look at Aoi's stricken face. Still, she knew what she had to do.
"Kaoru's outside." Mayu said. "I told him to wait while I showed him that Aoi was alright. I've told him that she wanted to go."
"Hmm." Kanaye said. He stood up and moved toward her, leaving Aoi trembling but with no place to run. Kanaye fingered Mayu's hair gently. "Perhaps you're worth keeping around after all. If anything, to add a bit of excitement to my love life. After all, you won't have Kaoru once I kill him."
Mayu's eyes widened nearly as wide as Aoi's.
"You said Hanabishi-sama would be mine!" Mayu shouted. "You said if I helped you get what you deserved, you'd do that same for me?"
"And so I did." Kanaye said. And he gripped Mayu's throat tightly and began to squeeze. "And I will keep my promise."
Mayu's eyes were bulging as she gasped for air. Aoi screamed.
"You can come out now." Kanaye said. He looked at the doorway beyond Mayu and sneered as Raina stepped out.
"You're not who I was expecting." Kanaye said. "Where is Honjo Kaoru?"
"Let her go and we'll talk." Raina said sharply, gun pointed steadily at him. Kanaye eyed her warily, but released Mayu and shoved her to the ground. Aoi took a chance and crawled over to Mayu and held her. Mayu gasped for air and looked up into Aoi's face. Although still hurt and angry at her betrayal, Aoi still looked in concern.
"Aoi-san, I'm so sorry." Mayu said, but got no further before her eyes went wide and she collapsed, a steadily growing blood stain in her chest. Aoi screamed and, instinctively, covered the wound. Raina let out a shout of pain and collapsed, clutching at her shoulder. Behind her, a man lowered his gun.
"Thank you, Seki." Kanaye said. A dazed expression was on the man's face. Raina looked up and saw the scarred and beaten face of Seki. Clearly, there was nothing behind those eyes.
"What did you do to him?" Raina asked, conversationally, trying to stop the blood flow. The bullet hadn't hit anything vital on her or Mayu. But the blood had to be stopped.
"When my mother died, he sank into a depression." Kanaye said. "I took him to a doctor who gave him some medication which would help his mind and protect him."
"Makes him easier to control, which doesn't hurt you." Raina said. "And you're mother?"
"I have to keep her here or Seki won't do as he's told."
Raina's eyes darkened.
"You're insane." she said, as if she were talking about the weather.
"I suppose I am." Kanaye said. "But there's a fine line between madness and genius isn't there?"
"And it grows finer all the time."
Kanaye turned around and saw Kaoru standing behind him. Kaoru saw the face break into a wide smile and his stomach turned.
"Well, if it isn't my Oniisan." Kanaye said. "Yoroshiku."
Aoi stared in wonder at Kaoru. Mayu gazed up weakly and felt a new burst of shame in her stomach. Raina's reaction was different.
"You idiot!" Raina shouted. "I told you to wait outside!"
Kaoru ignored her. His eyes never left Kanaye.
"I'm so glad you came." Kanaye said with a twisted smile. "It will make it so much easier. Aoi-chan, I want you to watch closely. I'm going to kill Kaoru and then, you'll realize that he was never meant to be yours."
Aoi's eyes widened in horror, both at the approaching death of Kaoru and the calm admittance of it.
"NO!" Aoi cried. "No, you can't!"
"Kanaye, you're my brother." Kaoru said. "You have the whole of the Hanabishi Company now and all the privileges of it. Why do you want Aoi too?"
At last, Kanaye seemed to lose his calm façade and his face twisted in rage and madness.
"I have never been able to escape your shadow. All grandfather ever talked about was you, even when he was angry with you. I even had to share the same father! Even when you left, all grandfather talked about was you. I could never be you, so I had to make you nonexistent. I would take everything that was yours, including Aoi, who had been promised to the heir of Hanabishi."
"But what you don't realize is that Aoi has a mind of her own." Kaoru said. "And so do I. You can't make her love you, as long as she loves me."
"That's why you have to die." Kanaye said. "Once you're dead, her heart will be free to love anew."
"I will die first." Aoi said and she showed the first sign of fierce anger in her life. "I will never love you."
Kanaye's eyes seemed to lose their focus and everyone in the room was struck with the true madness of Kanaye. His face twisted and eyes narrowed into slits. He gave a whine that grew into a howl and then a roar. He lunged for Seki's gun, knocking over the candles as he went. Instantly, the futon was ablaze and Aoi rolled away, dragging Mayu back, but not Mayu's hands had been burned. Kanaye aimed the gun at Kaoru and fired. Kaoru was knocked back and slammed to the floor. Aoi felt the world go dead as Kaoru went still. Something in her chest went still also and tears poured from her eyes as though a dam had burst. Mayu looked in horror.
"You killed him!" Mayu screamed, despite the pain. "You killed him!"
"It was the only way." Kanaye said. He seemed unaware that the flames were spreading. "Now, Aoi, you have your heart again. Give it to me."
Aoi, feeling empty and cold, looked up at Kanaye.
"My heart is dead." she said in an empty flat voice. "It died when my love died. I am dead."
Kanaye looked in shock and then fury. He raised the gun again and pointed it at her.
"THEN DIE, AOI!" Kanaye screamed. There was a gunshot and Aoi blinked. She felt no pain, saw no blood, heard no angels or white light at the end of a tunnel. What she did see was Kanaye's eyes, wide in surprise before his body collapsed. He was dead. Behind him, Raina was looking at Seki, who had grabbed her gun and fired. Raina stood up weakly and touched his shoulder. Seki blinked and looked at her. She took the gun from his hand gently and Seki sat down heavily beside the dead body of his wife.
"She caught on fire." Raina explained. "When she didn't move, Seki realized that she was dead. I guess it was enough of a shock to snap him back. Help me put the fire out, Kaoru."
Aoi blinked and looked over at Kaoru, who gingerly got up and limped over to put the fire out. Then, he looked over at Aoi and smiled.
"Will she be alright?"
Aoi heard, as from a distance, the sound of Kaoru's worried voice.
"She'll be just fine." said a new voice, this one unmistakably British. "Mind you, she's been through a shock. Getting kidnapped, seeing people get shot and killed, then seeing someone dead come to life. If I were her, I'd catatonic at this point."
"That's why you seldom get out of the office, Tailin." said Raina. "This girl faints at road kill."
Aoi gave a tiny sound and opened her eyes. Instantly, she closed them again.
"Bright." she said hoarsely.
"Oh, sorry, love." Tailin said. "I'll fix that."
"Aoi-chan, are you alright?" Kaoru asked softly. Aoi gave a small nod and opened her eyes again. The light was turned down softer. Raina sat to the right, a med tech treating her shoulder. Beyond her, she saw Mayu in an ambulance with another technician. Her father was also beside her, along with a sharply dressed woman. Raina saw where Aoi was looking.
"Mayu's just fine." she said. "She'll need an operation and her hands are burned badly. She doesn't want to get them treated though, I'm told. She seems to think they should stay scarred."
"Can she still play the piano?" Tina asked, a note of concern in her voice, despite the anger Aoi knew Tina still felt.
"I think it's more a question of 'will she'." Raina said. Aoi looked back over at Mayu, who had bowed her head and was staring at her hands. Aoi could only hope that Mayu could be able to forgive herself someday.
Kaoru hugged Aoi tightly to him, but still gently.
"I thought I'd lost you." Aoi said, her voice breaking into sobs. Kaoru let her cry into his chest and he allowed himself to shed a few tears as well. The adrenaline had finally seemed to wear down and the realization that Aoi might have been lost to him too because of the Hanabishi's was finally sinking in. The two sat in tearful silence for a time before Raina touched Kaoru's shoulder.
"That was pretty smart of you to get a bulletproof vest. I suppose you went into my car." Raina said. Kaoru smiled back at her.
"Thanks to you." Kaoru said. Raina laughed and everyone looked confused.
"I was afraid you wouldn't know what I meant." Raina laughed. "But I guess it's a good thing that I left it in plain sight."
Aoi looked at Raina in surprise.
"Aoi Sakuraba, I'm very pleased to meet you." Raina said and gave a tiny bow.
"Detective Itzuki." called another English voice and Raina, giving one more smile to the group, hurried off.
"Aoi-sama, are you certain you are quite well?" Miyabi asked. Aoi smiled and nodded.
"I'm sorry if you were all worried about me." Aoi said. "Are we allowed to go home?"
"I've given my statement to the police." Kaoru said. "And, if you're well enough, we can leave."
"Yes, let's go home." Aoi said. "I'm certain you're all hungry."
Everyone chuckled warmly.
"Aoi, you have the night off." Kaoru said. "We'll order out. A huge feast. And I'll buy."
"Us too!" the girls shouted. Miyabi nodded too. With warm hugs all around, everyone climbed into their cars and hurried home. Kaoru glanced once more back at Mayu, who did not look up at their departure.
"Sayonara, Miyuki Mayu." Kaoru whispered and Mayu, as if hearing him, gave a sad smile. But, as they drove away, she raised her head high again.
6 months later….
The Sakuraba mansion was decorated and a large number of people of various dress wandered over the grounds, talking and laughing. Inside, Tina and Takeo were helping Aoi into her wedding dress. Aoi was blushing joyfully.
"Aoi-san, you look so beautiful." Takeo said, knocking over a bottle of perfume that was a gift from Takeo's grandmother.
"Thank you." Aoi said, beaming. "You look very nice too."
And Takeo did look beautiful. She had become a very successful author of romantic ghost stories, her first novel selling nearly as many copies as the first Harry Potter book. She was much more graceful now, having finally managed to gain some balance of her own body. On the other side of Aoi, Tina was brushing long blonde hair to make it shine. She was again wearing a kimono and she seemed well suited to it. She grinned merrily though.
"The big sleeves make it easy to hide sake."
Chika was bouncing around the mansion, dressed in a spring kimono with lilies and orange blossoms. It was a beautiful contrast against her tan skin. She was supposed to be helping Miyabi greeting the guests, but Miyabi found a better use for her energy to show guests around and get anything that was needed. Chika's friends were also helping. At the piano, sat Mayu Miyuki. She examined her hands carefully, feeling somewhat ashamed of the burn scars, but was glad that Aoi had asked her to get them healed so that she could play piano again. Aoi had not asked Mayu to play at the wedding, but Mayu had offered her services. She no longer played with the Grand Symphony, but spent her time teaching piano lessons and doing recordings. She refused to be in the spotlight ever again, save this one time. She glanced across the yard to where Kaoru was pacing nervously. He was dressed in a suit, Aoi having promised that neither of them would dress traditionally.
"Honjo, take it easy." Suzuki's booming voice chuckled. Suzuki and Sato were both his best men. Kaoru still could not decide whether his was a good idea or not.
"I can't take it easy." Kaoru sighed. "I'm sweating like crazy and my heart won't stop hammering."
He went back to pacing, while Sato and Suzuki rolled their eyes. Suzuki and Taeko had developed a close relationship and were dating. Suzuki's photos added a touch of mystery to Taeko's stories. Sato was still single, but seemed fine with it. Kaoru moved away gradually, walking away into the cherry blossom trees.
"Congratulations." Kaoru turned to see the grinning face of Raina Itzuki, her shoulder having healed, but bearing the faint scar of her wound. Kaoru was completely shocked at Raina. She wore a sleeveless blouse with cherry blossoms, a black leather skirt with a mid-thigh slit and high healed sandals.
"No gun?" Kaoru asked, smiling. Raina returned his smile.
"I'm off duty." she said. "I'd like you to meet someone."
She led him over to a young man. He was thin with brown hair, brown eyes and a broad smile that spoke of high energy.
"This is my partner, Peter Carlisle." Raina said. Kaoru shook Peter's hand and Peter smiled.
"Congratulations, Honjo-san." Peter said. "And thank you for inviting us."
"I was glad to." Kaoru said. He looked at Raina curiously, who held up her hand. On it was a beautiful ring with a sapphire in the middle, surrounded by 7 tiny diamonds.
"Congratulations to you both as well." Kaoru said. Raina and Peter smiled. Raina's smiled then faded slightly.
"I'm sorry about your brother." she said. "I never got a real chance to say so before I had to take off again."
Kaoru nodded. Kanaye had been buried and the nightmare with him.
"I just hope he's at peace." Aoi said as she came around the corner. Kaoru stared in wider surprise.
"Don't you know it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding?" Raina asked. She grinned at Kaoru's expression and had to nudge her elbow into Peter's ribs, who was also wide-eyed. Aoi smiled and shook her head.
"I don't believe any bad luck can touch us." Aoi said. "We've overcome so much since we were reunited."
"We're bound by enishi." Kaoru said, squeezing Aoi to him.
The wedding went beautifully. Aoi's mother, father and even Miyabi all cried. Chika and Tina grinned, watching Taeko and Suzuki glancing at each other throughout the ceremony and, when the time came for it, Taeko caught Aoi's bouquet. The guests all offered their congratulations. Kaoru and Aoi announced that the Sakuraba mansion would remain open as student housing, with Aoi and Kaoru both as landlords. The landlords, however, would be living in the servant's quarters. Miyabi objected to this, but Aoi remained firm that she and Kaoru didn't need more space than that. Tina and Taeko would continue to live at the house as managers in addition to their jobs.
As the reception died down, Tina took over and dragged out her stereo and karaoke machine to keep the party going to the younger guests. Even Mayu found that she was welcome to stay and was even convinced to get up and sing. She had a pleasant singing voice. Kaoru and Aoi listened before they felt a tap on their shoulders. Raina was smiling, having donned her leather jacket again against the cold.
"Peter and I need to get going." Raina said. "But we have a gift for you."
The lead them around to the back of the couple's new house to see a pond with dozens of Koi fish. Aoi and Kaoru breathed at the beautiful Koi.
"There's a legend about Koi fish." Raina said. "That they are symbols of worldly aspiration and overcoming life's difficulties. We thought they suited you, but more so because "Koi" also is a word for love."
Kaoru and Aoi nodded.
"It's a beautiful gift." Kaoru said. "But they're so expensive."
"Not if you know where to go." Peter said and he exchanged a look with Raina. Kaoru and Aoi felt that it was better not to ask. Raina hugged Kaoru and kissed his cheek. She then hugged Aoi tightly.
"You take care of him." Raina said. "And you make sure he takes care of you."
The couples moved outside again and waved goodbye to Raina. The party slowly dwindled down for the older folks who, after giving one last goodbye and congratulations, went home. Soon, it was mainly the younger crowd of Aoi's cousins and friends of Kaoru's from school, but eventually, they drifted home and to the bars for more fun.
Soon, Kaoru and Aoi were left alone, sitting in the light of the setting sun. Aoi watched the blossoms fall into the Koi pond and saw a vision of children playing among the trees. She saw herself taking the children on walks through the spring blossoms, making wonderful dishes for her family to eat, going on family outings and, when she and Kaoru needed a night to themselves, seeing their many friends caring for the children.
"Beautiful." Aoi murmured. Kaoru squeezed her tightly to him and Aoi was certain that he saw the same sight she did.
"You know, it's strange?" Kaoru said thoughtfully. "Two years ago, I didn't have anybody who cared about me. And then, all of a sudden, you came into my life and opened a floodgate of friends."
"Kaoru-sama, does that bother you?" Aoi said curiously. Kaoru shook his head.
"I think you can stop calling me Kaoru-sama now, Aoi-chan. And no, not at all. I was prepared to live alone, but it would seem that God had other plans for my life." Kaoru said. He turned to her and gave her a warm smile. Then he kissed her. Aoi melted into the kiss and she wrapped her arms around her husband's neck.
As the sun sank lower, it threw the Koi fish into gentle relief and their scales glimmered and shone, as though reflecting the shimmering future and love between Kaoru and Aoi, who would finally be together, bound forever by Koi.
That's it. Hope you enjoyed this story. I know I enjoyed writing it. I don't know that I'll have much time for chapter stories anymore, but I'll try and keep writing fan fiction. Until then, all the best to you, my dear reader and, as always, stay cool because from here on in, this will be fun!