Epilogue: Five Years Later
Reiko was waiting for her class to let out. There was another round of kanji to memorize and master. Her classmates around her groaned, but she didn't. On the contrary, she found their complaining more bothersome. She thought that as second year medical students they should have gotten used to it by now.
As soon as class let up, Reiko dashed out knowing he was waiting for her. She hated to keep him waiting. She ran out the campus gate to find him waiting outside the car. He smiled at her as the came up to her. "Sorry, did you wait long?"
"Not really," he replied. They embraced for a brief moment and exchanged a kiss.
"Hiro, how was your day?" asked Reiko.
"Not bad. Except for your brother," answered Hiro.
There were some upsides and downsides to attending Tokyo University, especially for Hiro who was a business and economics major. Ryuichi had taken great pleasure when he found out that Hiro was going on to be in his discussion. Reiko laughed.
"Would you like me to ask him to ease up on you?" she offered.
Hiro answered, "No, I doubt that you would have any leverage against him. He just refuses to learn other people's names. He said he was above learning other people's names, but he was just being lazy."
Reiko smiled at him as he went to go and open the door for her. She slipped in and asked, "We're picking up, Naomi-chan?"
"Yep," answered Hiro with a backwards glance towards a child's car seat. "I hope you don't mind, but I promised her I'd come to get her today. I have no idea why."
Reiko grinned before he could close the door and informed him, "I know."
Hiro went around and slipped into the driver's seat. He put the key into the ignition before she said, "Naomi-chan wants to show off her Oniichan." Reiko giggled. "Believe me I know how she feels. On my first day of school, I took off and Tetsuya had to escort me back to class. I had such a rush because everyone saw my Oniisan."
"She's four and a half," muttered Hiro. "Why should it matter?"
"Ah, come on, she adores you," said Reiko.
Hiro started the car and pulled into the lane. He shook his head again. "I really don't want to be use as a showoff toy for her."
"You can't blame her though. You're a great big brother. After all, you took care of her a lot that first year, so that your mom could have a break from time to time."
"I had no choice. That was part of my punishment, remember?"
"Hey, at least you didn't have to attend a bunch of events you didn't even want to attend in the first place. I had to go to all these events so that my parents could get out of them. I never want to see another opera again for as long as I live."
Even though it had been close to five years, Reiko and Hiro still remembered the sever punishments they had to take because of their trip in Italian. Reiko ended up having to attend all sorts of public engagements that she hated. In the end, her parents were quite happy with that arrangement because it gave her parents much needed time off.
As for Hiro, he ended up on diaper duty along with a whole sundry of responsibilities involving his baby sister. Hatsumi had time to recover because Ryoki forced her to rest while Hiro handled the baby in between studies and an internship that started at his father's company. Hiro came to the conclusion that he was probably not going to have children for a while.
Now, Tachibana Naomi, was a bright, vibrant child. She had a smile that lit up the room like her mother and when she walked, she bounced. She looked very much like her mother, but when she became serious, she was like her father. For the most part, her favorite person in the entire world was Hiro.
Hiro was a little less enthusiastic with his affection towards Naomi, but she was lucky to have gotten a brother who was softened by Reiko first. He was more reserved and it was in quieter moments people could see that he adored Naomi as much as she did him. They pulled up to the pre-school that was attached to the elementary school that Naomi would eventually attend. All the children were required to wear uniforms, even the preschoolers.
As Hiro pulled up to the school, he saw his little sister waiting for him. She immediately sprung up from her waiting spot and bounded up to her brother's car. Hiro swiftly got out of the car. "Naomi-chan! Wait! Stop," he ordered. She froze at her brother's tone, which was strict and disapproving.
Hiro took quick stride to her and picked up effortlessly. "Onii-chan!" declared Naomi as wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Don't just run like that," he said to her as he nuzzled her a bit.
Reiko slowly got out of the car and joined them. Before she could reach them, a woman who was coming to pick up her child, said something to Hiro and Naomi, "What a young papa you are," she said. She then turned to address Reiko, "You must be her mother. My goodness. Parents are certainly getting younger and younger these days."
"I'm not her father. She's my parents' daughter. My sister," said Hiro testily. Hiro's eyes narrowed into slits as he put Naomi down whose face lit up at the sight of Reiko. "Onee-chan!"
"How was school, Naomi-chan?" asked Reiko as she picked her up. "Did you learn anything new?"
"I learned how to count to 100 and how to write all my katana today," declared Naomi.
The woman took the opportunity to escape from Hiro who was now distracted by his sister. "I thought I already taught you how to do that," he said.
"You did, so I got to play when everyone else was learning it," Naomi said smugly.
Reiko laughed as Hiro stared at Naomi. "I don't think she got that from your parents. She's learn how to talk like you."
"You mean I'm a good influence," said Hiro.
Reiko sighed as they went along. She put Naomi down and she walked between them, holding their hands in the middle. As much as Hiro hated to admit it, when they went out like this they did look like a young family.
So much time had passed and they were still together. Their parents had eased up on them because the match was a good one. Hiro had met Reiko's formidable paternal grandmother who approved him merely saying that that the Doumiyouji business empire hadn't acquired a technology division. That was about two years after they had met.
They had remained as they were for all that time. The press had lost interest after a while and went onto the next thing. Hiro looked at her as Naomi swung between them. She was used to Reiko being around.
However, things were changing again. Hiro was working on an unpaid internship under his father's company but for his uncle's division. He was currently in the accounting department doing very boring work. He was almost close to graduating because he had doubled up on classes. His path never diverted from what he had planned for himself.
Reiko, in contrast, originally had no plans other than to follow whatever everyone else had decided for her. However, in time she took control of her life and her own plans. Hiro was her most adamant supporter. He helped her get through some of the more difficult math based classes when she had decided to become a doctor during her second to last year of school. She hadn't exactly told her parents what she was up to, so she quietly went along on her own to test into medical school. She hadn't revealed her plans until she knew that she had been accepted.
Things between Reiko and the Nishikado twins was more or less repaired. However, things were never the same really between Reiko and Hikaru. Hikaru ended up being trained by Soujirou to be the heir of the Nishikado family. Sora and Hiro were the best of friends and because of the connection, Sora was able to get an internship at Tachibana Technologies.
Reiko worked in the Nishikado Clinic so that Hikaru could go to her uncle's house for training. Nishikado-sensei was Reiko's teacher and mentor. He encouraged her with her studies and had helped her decide where to go to school. There was a good chance as well that Reiko might take over the practice later on because his children had their own futures to consider.
Twins were guests at the Doumiyouji house often, getting to know Reiko's family better. They had also gotten to know the F4. The world seemed to get bigger all at once for everyone involved, but Reiko was ready to expand it further.
They spent the rest of the day playing at the park, then going back home. Naomi was passed off to her mother already for a nap and the couple left to go outside. They were strolled along Hiro's neighborhood. Reiko and Hiro held hands as they went along.
"Do you remember at Trevi Fountain?" she asked.
"Yes, I remember," he answered.
Reiko glanced at Hiro. She answered his unspoken question, "I'm thinking we should go back there someday soon. You know before we graduate from school."
"I'll have to see if my boss will give me time off," said Hiro jokingly.
"I've been thinking about doing more than just going to Rome. There's a program at school that they're talking about," said Reiko thoughtfully. "I was thinking of joining it before settling into a job. I mean a paid one."
"The Physicians Abroad."
"Where would you go?"
"Wherever they'd send me. I know that it would probably take another year or two. Is that all right?"
"Is it all right with you?"
"I think so. I'll still be working with my father and working my way up the company. Besides, I can't leave my little sister with just my parents. Or rather I can't leave my parents with my little sister."
"What about us?"
Hiro put his arm around her shoulders. "I know that we'll be together. I'm not worried."
They continued to walk along the sidewalk slowly as they made their way to the train station. They didn't go there that often. It was a rarity that they came there, but they did so every once in a while. It seemed only appropriate that they did visit the place where it all started.
Under the bright lights and the hustle and bustle of the crowd during the rush hour, they lingered and looked around them. Hiro paused when his eyes laid on Reiko who was watching a group of high schoolers.
In a flash he saw her five years from where they were, she was a doctor and a partner at the Nishikado Clinic attending to patients of all ages. She was dressed in a lab coat and hard at work.
"What?" asked Reiko. "Do I have something on my face?"
Hiro shook his head and looked away for a bit. She could see him in a few years, running a division of his father's company. He wasn't just a regular salaryman either, but someone who was poised and ready to lead a company. His father would give him more duties to spend more time with his mother and sister.
"Our train is here," Hiro announced as he offered her his hand.
Reiko took his hand and waited for other passengers to disembark before stepping on. They ended up on the same train as they met on before. Because it was rush hour, there was standing room only.
Hiro smirked at bit as she pressed up against him. He wrapped his arms around her. "I love you," she mumbled as she buried her head into his chest.
He pressed his chin against her head. "I know," he whispered. In even a more years, they would ride this train together. They would live in Tokyo and be married by the time they were twenty-six. Life would be a series of arguments and a battle of wills, but it would never be dull or boring. Most of the time, it would be of strong elation coupled with excitement as well as passion that would continue on its slow, yet steady burn.
To think, it all had started on that fateful day when their worlds collided, making one larger, more spectacular world.
AN: Thus concludes, Collide. The story was harder to write towards the end because of real life constraints. I have no idea what's next on the pipeline. The story was about a few chapters longer than it originally planned, but things hardly ever go as planned. Thank you to all the reviewers and readers.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hana Yori Dango or Hot Gimmick. Please use this story with my permission.