Hello, I'm quite—rather, very—new in this place, and this has been my first attempt at an AYA-REI fanfiction. I have seen the anime, and I almost wanted to kill Rei for being so cold…but we still love him, don't we?

Still, AYA and REI for me are perfect…but not without giving a little pain for Rei!!

Ahehehe…anyways, this story is seriously from my imagination (summary gives you a hint on what this is about). People always see Aya as weak and naïve, so I tried giving an explanation for that, and I also tried to turn the tables so I make Rei here regret A WHOLE LOT!! (oops, too much information already!!)

But still, let me warn you…it has a surprise ending…quite twisted, in my opinion!! So I hope you do review and tell me what you think!!

AND PLEASE be kind for my first!! Though flames are still very much welcome!! Thanks!!!

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DEATH IN BEAUTIFUL BLACK STRANDS

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He would always wonder about her hair in silence.

Even during the first time he met her, it was the very first thing he had noticed about her. That and her aura so sweet, so innocent, he knew at first sight that she was somewhat weak.

Fragile. Breakable. Fickle.

Exactly—and supposedly—not his type. He knew he would only destroy her spirit.

But her hair that he had noticed proved otherwise, and that had stopped him from avoiding her, from ignoring her whenever they meet with her other friends. He didn't know why, but her hair had always done that to him.

And bitterly, it will always do that to him.

At first it was the color. Miyu's had been blonde, Ran blonde-orange with flecks of red. But hers was jet black, like midnight, and it easily clung to her delicate face. It reached down to her waist and it curled at the ends, which only made it look softer. He hadn't had the gall to touch it himself in his own fingertips, but he knew at first glance it would touch like silk.

But what intrigued him the most is that it would always look like it could touch the sky with it. It sparkled like no other night, like the stars had been so awed with it themselves that they clung to her hair and stayed. And it so much endeared his heart that not only was her hair beautiful, but her totality inside and out.

Like that little instance when she chased after that balloon—at the cost of her own life for she unconsciously was crossing a very busy street—and gave it to the crying girl. She was breathing hard and she looked pale and was still in shock—for a car had almost run her down—but she remained to smile and pat the girl's head, happy herself that she was able to help. And that instance when she hugged the little stuffed toy that little kid—Tatsukichi's brother—had made for her as a sign of thanks for her tutorial lessons. The little boy was awarded with a kiss on his cheeks, making him blush instantly. And that little instance when she cried for Katase; even if he had hurt her so much, she still cried for him and even gave him her own notebook when he was set off to England.

Aya Hoshino. Aya Hoshino and her kindness. Aya Hoshino and her naïveté. Aya Hoshino and her hair. She will always remain an enigma to him, no matter how much he judged her.

He remembered that whenever she flung her hair—most of the times unintentionally—and whenever the breeze swayed with it, there he was, only struck with a vehemence he couldn't quench so easily.

Like what he is doing right this very moment. He sighed and looked away…only to look back at her again.

Now he knew with a passion that her hair will also be seen by millions. And it would not take long before they'd start wondering about it, too.

He knew that would come for a fact. Someone like him—Rei Otohata, the ice prince—is quite indifferent it would take more effort to have him notice a thing, much more wonder about it. He was no ordinary man, after all.

And for someone not ordinary like him to take notice—even get hooked—with her hair already spoke volumes. It wouldn't be that hard for the more ordinary ones to follow suit.

That thought unnerved him, and he hated the fact that it did.

Especially when her hair is flaunted like this. Her hair, so smooth, the silken strands which normally would just frame her face and drop gracefully on her shoulders, were now in complete harmonic disarray with the wind.

Not that it was less graceful. Oh no, her silken mane just caught with the sunbeams that they sparkle even more. Hair fanned out like that…it was just a beseeching sight. Breathtakingly beautiful.

Like a night with stars which just caught up with the day.

The hair could not have mattered, how enchanting to be touched may it look. No, no, no. Hair really doesn't matter that much.

So it finally boiled down to what really mattered to him: the wielder.

But, by God, she has never looked so radiant before. Of course, when they meet up, she always had that blush and graceful smile on her lips—he slightly smiled at the memory—that it would take him much more self-control to look away casually—but now, even if she still looked delicate and serene, another aura seemed to glow on her.

A new-found happiness. A twinkle making her eyes bluer. Her contented, sunny, casual laughter frozen in the canvass. A serene exhilaration.

Her photograph, as written and posted, was taken when she was busy chasing after her flying hat which was getting caught in the wind. The photographer claimed he was just blessed and thankful that he had the camera readied at the exact place, the exact time, with the perfect person. Especially when their intention of going to the park was only to stroll and to spend some time with each other.

Together.

The photographer was a damned lucky guy.

And he was a damn fool for even letting her let him go.

He looked at the photo hanged on the wall for the last time—like he never wanted to indulge in sin anymore lest he get tempted—before he proceeded with the next works in the exhibit.

A few minutes later, he surrendered. For no matter how many times he'd distract himself, he'd find himself going back to Aya Hoshino's picture.

And when he once again looked back at the happy face, he realized with a pang that Aya had never looked this happy with him.

All he saw in her were tears. Tears made on those times when he bluntly told her that he didn't want to be her boyfriend and when he coldly insulted her that she had no idea about music at all. That time when he coldly lashed out at her about her lack of assertion, about her weakness for she couldn't make her own decisions.

Countlessly he gave her the brush-off, the cold shoulder, the bluntly cast insults…

And that final straw—when he told her that he really did love Ran than her.

But instead of hating him, she did the last thing he could've ever expected. She actually played being matchmaker…so he could get a chance with Kotubuki Ran. So he could have a chance with the one he truly loved, a chance she now knew she could never have.

("What are you doing, Hoshino?" he silently retorted with a cold glare, while Aya only gave him that innocent look and her shy smile.

"Your Ferris Wheel ride is waiting for you, Otohata-san—" his eyes shot up at the way she used his name "—together with your partner." She was, of course, referring to Ran. Then she lithely ran her way to Ran and the others, pulling Tatsukichi with her for the ride as well.

Until now he was still wondering if that added sparkle in her eyes was caused by unshed tears.)

He hated her then. He hated her for her being so selfless, for being so giving that she would give up her own happiness for the sake of others. That she'd give him up that easily for Ran—without even a fight—thinking that he could only find happiness with the other girl, with his true love.

He hated her for she only made him love her more.

But she did not let him. For before he could make amends, before he could get her back, she had left—without notice, without a goodbye—from their lives right after graduation. Her parents would not even tell them where she was off to. Just like that, she just left without a trace.

It was only a few weeks later when her parents followed suit.

It had hurt him like hell, and it got worse when he couldn't tell it to anybody else. The sadness was engulfing, and no one could soothe the ache within him, an ache he couldn't escape. He looked out for her in times, thinking she was still there, giving him a basket of cookies and welcoming him with her smile…

But a year has already passed, and he never has seen a thing as such.

Ironic how dreams bitterly come true.

Just days ago, he just received the invitation for this exhibit by someone he knew—but was not in good terms with—and he would have just ignored it. If not for Ran and the others asking him if he had received an invitation and have gone to the exhibit, too. Their faces then were a mix of loneliness, happiness and shock, but they only hinted that he should go there, too.

He really didn't know why, but he came here, anyway. At that moment, he still thought he could never see her again.

Until now. Right here. In that wall. With her eyes. With her skin. With her face. With her smile. With her hair.

And with somebody else.

For that very moment, he finally knew what regretting truly meant, as his world came crashing down, a feeling you get when you think you have the world right in your hands only to be snatched out from you again.

"She is such a lovely sight, isn't she?" a soft voice asked, making him turn away from the photo to focus on the bearer of the voice. She was a woman in her late twenties, with soft amber hair and green eyes. Her eyes were smiling.

'Leave me alone; you do not need to ask the obvious and you do not need to tell me what an idiot I am to let her go.' He did not even bother to answer her, earning a chuckle from her.

"You do not need to answer me; actually I would be worried if you did answer, because by then I would be more worried on what you would say…I have the feeling my brother would not be very pleased if he asked me what the comments of this picture's viewers were, and I am never fit for lying." She softly laughed then, and he only looked back at her in disinterested confusion.

"You are Otohata Rei, aren't you?"

A firm nod.

"Hmm…so you are that Most Sought After Model-Prince (A/N: allow me to change his title here, okay? I seem to forget the orginal…) here in Shibuya?"

He simply stared straight ahead.

"Ahh…this really is a delectable surprise—I'm pleased to meet you. I am Hikari Michiru, sister of the owner of this exhibit—and I was just joking about my earlier remark; I really just did it to spite my brother."

He simply gave her hand a brisk shake, not really understanding. The woman finally turned her head towards the photo.

"Katase-kun is quite sensitive with this picture—though he wanted to show it to the whole world that his fiancée is most beautiful, he was a whole lot scared about the viewers, too—"

Another pang, another pain, another grip on his heart. "She's his fiancée?" he whispered hoarsely, but Michiru was not able to hear him, as she continued to ramble on.

"—ironic, isn't it? Even now my otouto-chan is most vexed that a lot of male customers are asking for this photograph when it has been bluntly posted that this is not for sale. It really gave Aya-chan a lot of trouble; sometimes I couldn't really understand my brother's possessiveness. But maybe it must be the operation—"

"Operation?" he finally blurted out, curiosity piqued, his horror intensified as he awaited for the 'do not know what'. Michiru finally glanced back at him, as if realizing that she indeed was not talking to herself.

"Oh…sometimes I forgot that Katase has crashed out that part of the story, the reason why this picture means a lot to him. Aya Hoshino, my brother's fiancée, came from here, in Shibuya, too, just like you—in fact Katase also studied here for a while so I was wondering if you have met them before. She traveled to England to study as well as have her brain and heart operated—I believe her condition was very crucial that it needed a lot of tests. I even remembered that she was not even allowed to think hard—would you believe that?—or else her brain and her heart would rupture she might die."

"…s-she might die?" Horror filled his voice, but Michiru didn't notice it. A giant clawed hand gripped his heart and it was about to turn his heart to shreds.

"Hmmm…to tell you honestly, I thought she was a hopeless case, but my brother had so much faith in her—oh, I forgot to mention they were friends before—that he was by her side every day. That picture was taken a month after she was operated, the time she was finally allowed to get out then," she then leaned on his ears to whisper, "I also believe that this was the time he proposed."

He didn't want to hear anymore. He couldn't take it anymore.

"She's so happy in this picture, ne?"

"…"

No. He couldn't. He couldn't.

"Poor girl…actually the operation was hard. We have been warned, together with her parents, beforehand that the operation might lose most of her memories—it was that critical. We even had to make her write everything she could remember in her life in a journal. We even argued about it—Katase wants to leave all the bad parts of her life removed, and I have no choice but to agree. You see, having very bad memories do not go very well with a very weak system. If you'll come to meet her—don't worry, she'll arrive here shortly with my brother—you will soon know her life was basically a fairy tale. Very much protected—oh, they're here already…Katase-kun, Aya-chan!! I'll be back, Otohata-kun." And she easily left him, running towards them.

He didn't dare look. He couldn't. Even as he heard Michiru's chuckles getting farther and farther away, with the soft murmurs and the soft laugh, he didn't turn his eyes off the picture on the wall.

"…let me guess, you loved the food, right, Aya?"

The chuckle he heard—getting nearer and nearer to him—was unbearably painful.

"…uhmmm…it was better than what Ran-chan—" his eyes shot up again "—gave me days ago."

"Michiru…about what you were saying…?"

"Oh, Katase, you're no fun at all. I told you, he said nothing. He just looked at her picture…promise!!"

"…and you were telling that he is…?"

"…oh, it was a miracle to see him here all right, Aya—"

"Please, Michiru—"

"I was talking to your fiancée, idiot…then, again, Aya, let me tell you…this guy is even more gorgeous in real life—oh he's still there!! Otohata-kun!!"

He felt his heart stop. He felt time had also stopped its pace. He slowly turned his head, only to be slightly stopped by that voice.

"Otohata…kun?"

Her voice.

He couldn't stop it now. He finally faced them, expecting the inevitable.

The inevitable which only took his breath away, the inevitable composed of creamy ivory skin, blue sundress, slightly surprised—but alit with joy—eyes, sweet lips, delicate nose…

And the jet-black, soft, silken hair framing the elegant face.

It was purely the moment when all details in the canvass became touchable and real.

000 000 000

"Otohata? Otohata Rei?" her voice was still the same, though this time it was both more mature and more silken. To think that a lot could change in a year.

With the exception of Katase's stare.

"Oh…you two knew each other?" Michiru decided to break the moment of silence, though oblivious with the tension, when no one else had. Silently Katase sighed.

"I was the one who gave him the invitations, onesan. Along with the others'."

"Oh…OH!!! Are you telling me he is the last one among Aya's friends whom she hasn't seen yet?" She then turned to Rei. "The others already came here days ago, we were actually worried you would never come…this is the last day of the exhibit after all…not fair Katase, you should've told me the last one had been him!! You know I have a crush on him—!!"

"Stop it, Michiru, you're embarrassing. You're older, or have you forgotten Otohata and I are of the same age?"

But before either of them could answer, Aya went up to him, and gracefully took his hand in hers. She was smiling. "Katase has spoken so nicely of you…you are the model and the DJ from here, correct? And…also…one of my friends?"

He felt his heart constrict. He couldn't move.

Her smile was too sweet. He forced himself to nod, earning another smile from her. She released her grip on him and went back to Katase, her fiancée, her arms now circling his waist. Katase instantly reciprocated the act.

"I hope you could finally reveal your feelings to your true love…Ran, isn't it? Oh, I could only read a lot from all of you…it feels so strange knowing about your life before through reading my journal…but I have met you, as well as the others, which is quite a miracle…do you believe so, koibito?"

"Yes, Aya," Katase answered tenderly.

"I've already met the super gals days before…I just couldn't imagine I was one of them…I mean with my illness and all…but…" she gently chuckled then, as she looked up at the ceiling wistfully, "it must have been very exciting to be a super gal, isn't it? All that adventure and excitement—would you care to have dinner with us tonight? I rarely get anything about you from Ran-chan and the others…but your best friend Yuuya has been talking very fondly about you…and don't worry, about your liking for Ran-chan? It will remain a secret."

He couldn't talk. His heart constricted even more, especially when she pulled out his hand once again.

She really didn't remember him. Her love. Her pain. Her sadness. He didn't know if he'd be happy or sad.

"You wouldn't mind, would you? I mean touching you like this—I just feel so out of touch with my memories that human contact makes them more real. I was really very ecstatic when Katase told me we could finally visit Shibuya for his tour and I could finally meet you all—would you like to have dinner with us, Otohata-kun?"

He was hurting, so hurting inside, but he allowed himself to speak. "I have a meeting at eight." He was lying, of course.

The pain was getting more unbearable when he saw her disappointed look. "Oh…so I guess…I'll just see you when I can, won't I?"

"Your fiancée knew how to contact me." To say that to her was pure torture.

"Hai," was all she said, so softly. Then she smiled. Not for him, but for Katase. For Katase.

She really didn't remember him. Her love. Her pain. Her sadness. He wanted to die.

Suddenly another man was walking to their way: a prospective client, and Katase was so sharp to have noticed him so easily. "Excuse me, Otohata-san, but I'm afraid I have to leave. A new client awaits…but…you and Aya could still stay here for a while to catch up on old times—"

"I will be leaving soon as well," he bluntly cut in, and he knew there was no mistaking the shock, sadness and disappointment on her face.

"Then we'll be leaving then, Otohata-san," Katase said before he gently took Aya's hand—which she all too willingly received, Rei Otohata instantly forgotten.

"Nice to finally see you, Rei-kun," Aya said for the last time, barely brushing his arm once again. "Till we meet again."

Not even a look of recognition, as if she indeed had just seen him for the first time. She really didn't remember him. Her love. Her pain. Her sadness. He knew he had died then.

He forced himself a smile until they walked away finally, Katase giving him a final look before looking away and attending to the client, a look he knew too well.

'I'm lucky and you're a fool…and now she's mine. All mine.'

"Oh…I guess I have to go, too…hope to see you again, Rei!!" And a few seconds, Michiru left him, too.

Four minutes. Aya had long gone inside the office with Katase for their client. He still was here. Beside the photograph. Beside his reality. His reality which Aya had all too discarded and forgotten.

Looking back at it, he noticed that her hair was still as beautiful as ever, but it dulled in comparison to her contented face, her sweet smile, her silken voice, her gentle touch…

She's now living a fairy tale life.

He watched as the door of the office opened, and out went Aya with Katase, the client lagging a few feet behind, as she pulled Katase outside…ecstatic about something.

Ran and the others were waiting outside.

Her hair billowed with her actions, stars twinkling in her jet black mane, and the only thought he had was how he was willing to give up everything just to be able to touch it for the first time.

Even if only for the first—and last—time.

But now, he knew he could only touch it through the canvass of her picture. And it only tightened his resolve, the bitterness he felt, to realize that he could never touch the real thing again, as he look at her move away.

He could never touch her. He's out of her life. Fate took him away from her. Away from her.

He could never touch her.

Ever again.

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A/N: So guys, whatcha think? Do you want me to continue this story and make it multi-chaptered? Please do tell me your comments and suggestions; I would love to know all of those. Thanks!!