Standard disclaimers apply.
ANGELS NEVER SAY GOODBYE
By Cassandra's Destiny
Chapter 1: According to HIM, angels never say hello.
I don't believe in angels. I think they belong in the same category as Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, water nymphs, leprechauns and of course, the Easter bunny. I shouldn't even be thinking about angels now if it weren't for Yusuke. He barged into my office unannounced, blabbering about how great his anniversary dinner was with Keiko and how she resembled an angel. Heck, he shouldn't even be here now! I hired him to work in the room four doors away from mine. I don't give him a paycheck twice every month to ramble about his perfect angelic girl friend and his perfect angelic love life.
"And you know Keiko isn't the sweetest, most demure person in the world, but I wished you were there when I told her I love her! Well, Kuwabara did tell me the way to shut a girl up was by telling her how you feel, and yea, I do love Keiko, so when she didn't stop driveling about how the night would have been more perfect had I done this and that, I just told her how I felt. And who knows? Kuwabara was right!"
I looked at the wall clock in irritation. Has it only been ten minutes? For a second there, I thought it has already been at least half an hour since Yusuke came in and started talking to me. Doesn't he realize he was wasting my time? Doesn't he realize I'm not interested in knowing how his perfect angelic Keiko reacted when he told her he loves her? Doesn't he realize I don't care?
This is a complete waste of time. His love for Keiko is none of my business. The magic of love is something foreign to me. Love in itself is not my business. I have never been and never will be enthralled by it. Ever.
"…so after eating desert, she asked me if—"
"Yusuke." I had to stop this madness.
"Huh? Kurama, what is it? Don't you want to know what Keiko said when I told her—"
"I'm not interested." Yusuke frowned, but at least he was silent. "I'm going to give you twenty seconds to exit my office. Should you disobey my orders, I shall be dismissing you for the rest of the day."
With an evident scowl on his face, he got up and headed for the door. "You know, Kurama, you used to be a better person." With that, he shut the door behind him.
I couldn't believe that guy. I used to be a better person? And what am I now? A bad one? That could never happen. I have a great job and I'm at the peak of my career. If I want a cup of coffee right now, I can get a cup of coffee! If I want to buy a new gadget for myself, I can get a new gadget for myself! Heck, if I asked one of my staff to pick up my laundry, all of them would vie for the honor to pick my clean wash. How can I be a used to be? How can I be not better?
Turning to the other side of my table, I picked up an old picture frame lying there. It was old and the frame was somewhat broken, but I've never bothered repairing it or replacing it. I smiled at the image of the woman in the picture. Who am I kidding? I hate what I've become. I've been so much into my work ever since the accident. All I could think about was work, work and work. But can you blame me? It's not like there are any more things to think of. After my beloved mother and her new husband died in a plane accident, there was nothing left to break. There still is nothing left to break.
I loved her very much. I have her to thank for everything I've ever become. She was my whole world. Making her happy was my one goal in life. I studied hard, became a model student, was president of the student council. I even developed mild manners for her to be proud of having a son who is a perfect gentleman… But life was too harsh to take her away from me. Life was too harsh to not grant my mother's happiness and my own. Life was like that. That is why I don't believe in angels. They're supposed to watch over you. They're supposed to keep you safe. Where were they when my mother was on that plane? Where were they when the pilot announced the threat of a plane crash? Where were they when my mother was crying for dear life? Where were they when the doctors were trying to save her? Nowhere. That's where.
"Kurama-sama, we'll be leaving now. Good night."
I shrugged. What's the use of answering back, of saying good night? For all I know, it wouldn't be a good night at all. It's going to be one of those nights again… nights when I remember how my mother used to lull me to sleep when I was a baby, how she used to tuck me in all safe in bed and read me a bedtime story when I was a kid, how she would give me a glass of warm milk and my favorite oatmeal cookies when I wake up from a nightmare. It was one of those nights when I remember how my mother would bring me a cup of coffee when she sees I'm working on a really long project, or studying for a really tough exam, how she would help me sort out my paperwork when it's already quite overwhelming, how she would… be there… by my side.
This is stupid. I've been thinking too much about her again. Gathering my belongings into my bag, I left the office building in a hurry. Maybe the long walk home would do me some good.
Or so I hoped.
It was not too long after that I stumbled upon a girl. Yes, a girl. She wore her blue hair in a ponytail and she a plain white halter dress, was it even halter? I shook my head. Of course, I really wouldn't know. My mother was never a fashion fanatic.
"I'm sort of lost and…" When she looked up to me, I could've sworn she had the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen. For a moment, yes, I admit, I have been mesmerized. But my pride is too high and mighty to be in trance for long and drool like an idiot. Besides, did she say she was lost? I could have told her that.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Even I was surprised with my response. I mean, said that?
She squeaked before shifting uncomfortably, perhaps she bit her lip too, just for good measure. "I… well, you see, there is this one thing…" Now she began fidgeting, focusing her gaze on anything but me. Should I be insulted?
"Is there any place you can stay for tonight?" I know this girl literally came out of nowhere and I don't take in stray cats and dogs, let alone wandering girls. But my mother has raised me a gentleman, and had she been here, she would not let me hear the end of me letting a poor homeless girl alone on the streets. She'd even say things like, she might get raped or she might get murdered out there. So if this girl has nowhere to stay for the night, I'll have to ask her to stay with me, drag her to my house if I have to. But surely, there is no way in hell I'm leaving her here in the park, alone, wearing a dress with a hem running above her knees, looking helpless and gorgeous… stop. I shouldn't be thinking about those things.
"So?" I fingered her chin to make her look at me. And if I had the chance to turn back time, I would not have done that.
"I really don't have anywhere to go." Her skin was practically glowing in the moonlight. Her cheeks had a slight tinge of red, and her lips were pretty lusc—no. Stop right there, Kurama. You just met this girl.
"Okay, then let's get going." I offered her my hand. When I noticed the panic in her eyes, I knew I was forgetting something.
"Oh, sorry, I forgot. My name is Kurama."
She bit her lip again and fidgeted slightly before responding. "My name is Botan."
Botan, huh? That translates to peony, the beautiful flower my mom used to breed in our garden. She talked to those plants every single day. And when I tell her they will never talk back, she'd simply smile at me and say 'at least they know you care'. And—
"Where are we going, Kurama?" It was nearly a whisper, her sweet voice stood out in the raspy ambience of the streets. No, no, no. She whispered her question. Period.
"We're going back to my place to get you dinner." I offered my hand to her again, and this time, panic was not in her eyes. She took my hand before a blush crept up her cheeks. This girl sure is innocent and naïve and really beauti— oh no, not again. I've been through this already. I get close to someone, they get hurt. I let someone in, they begin to hate me. All I'm going to do is be the perfect gentleman my mother wants me to be and offer her a place to stay for the night. Then I'll kick her out in morning.
"What do you want to eat?"
She bobbed her head to the side, curiosity evident in her face. "Eat?"
"Yea, what do you want to eat? If you've been lost and have nowhere to go, I'm sure you haven't had a bite."
This sure was getting irritating.
"A bite. Are you hungry?"
She shook her head before walking towards the kitchen counters. "Should I be?" I know it was a stupid question and anyone who dared asked that what either stupid or plain stupid. But there was this innocence in her voice that made me think, even for a little while, that she might have really meant what she said.
"No, not really. You better get yourself cleaned up and go to bed. There's a spare room upstairs, second door from the corner."
Her answer was abrupt, and annoyingly cheerful. "Okay!"
I rubbed my temples vigorously. That woman sure is something. And after grabbing a bite to eat, I really should check on her if she's comfortable in the guest room.
I don't like chocolate chip cookies. I like the oatmeal cookies my mother used to make me. She left a recipe in the kitchen but it seems like no matter how hard I try, I can't get the recipe right. Well, things would have been easier had she just written what the secret ingredient was. I mean, what kind of recipe has a missing ingredient? It just says there put in the secret ingredient. I never quite figured out what it was.
I glanced at the calendar placed neatly on the corner table on the stair landing. Is it Mother's Day today? I've been thinking about her so much since this morning, I don't know what has gotten into me. I promised myself I'd only mourn for her in the morning, when I am the one opening my curtains and not her. My mom had a funny way to wake up a sleepyhead like me. Ever since I was seven, she would tiptoe slowly into my room and abruptly open the curtains. I would be blinded by the light, of course, so I'd get up and try to close the curtains again. But as soon as my feet touch the floor, the sweet aroma of her breakfast waffles has already whiffed into my senses. With that, my mom had won; I was wide-awake and hungry.
Before I forget, I had to check on the weird bubbly girl from the park. What was her name? Bonnie? Bo…ttou? Botan? Yes, Botan, I have to check on Botan. However, by force of habit, my feet had already dragged me into my room. I guess I'll just check on Botan early in the morning tomorrow before I got to work. But right, it's a Saturday tomorrow so I won't be going to work. I'm just too tired to check on her now.
And so, stripping to my boxers, I lied down on my bed. There is definitely nothing like a good mattress – but tonight, my mattress moaned. Wait… what? I faced the foreign lump on my bed, and found a girl. What's her name again?
"What are you doing here?"
"My sentiments exactly." This is weird. I should be the one saying that. "Well, you said I should go sleep in the room whose door is second from the corner and…" She trailed off.
Oh, I never mentioned which corner.
"Don't worry. I'll just escort you to your room and we can both get some shut eyes." I was already on my feet, my mind was on alert but my muscles needed more push. Fortunately, Botan got with the program. She got up from my bed and stood opposite me. The sight before me had my eyes almost bulging out of its sockets.
"Botan, where are your clothes?"
Her lips curled into another one of her innocent smiles. "I did what you told me! I got myself cleaned up and since my clothes were really dirty from the park, I took it all off." This woman sure is something. She was bare naked in front of me, yet she still looked innocent and overly cheery.
I violently pulled the sheets from my bed, handing them out to her. Too bad she didn't get the memo. Clothes are most definitely not optional in my house.
"What do you want me to do with the bed sheets, Kurama?" Her eyes were still vibrantly innocent.
"Go, uh, wrap them around yourself… like a dress of some sort." This night was turning out to be more frustrating than I thought.
Finally, I get to have my well-deserved rest. That Botan girl sure is a handful. What planet did she come from anyway? But I have to say, seeing her when she got up the bed in all her naked glory, well—no. Stop right there. Again. I'll kick her out in the morning. No longer will she disturb my peace of mind.
I was dreaming about how my mother would talk to me late in the afternoon and tell me monsters weren't real. Well, I was two, and she was giving me these storybooks about friendly giants and all those—
"Good morning, Kurama!"
Alas, the sun has blinded me.
"It's already 7 AM and I got you some coffee and oatmeal cookies in the kitchen so you better come down soon!"
This is really getting annoying. The curtains were wide open, the sun was blinding me, and all I want to do now is shut the curtains and… did she say oatmeal cookies?
I ran downstairs to see what Botan has been up to. And even before I entered the kitchen, I smelled it. It was really it. Mother's oatmeal cookie recipe. "You made cookies?"
She beamed at me. "Yes, you should go try them!"
Her hair was still in a ponytail just like yesterday, but now, she was wearing clothes. I gave her some of my mom's old dresses before she got to her bed last night. Taking a bite of the cookies she made, I was, I was… was rendered speechless.
"Do you like them?"
"How did— how did you make these?"
"I got this recipe in the kitchen counter this morning and I thought I would try it."
"And the secret ingredient?"
"Cinnamon? How did you know it was cinnamon? Mom never wrote it down."
She bit her lip. Again. And when realization seemed to have dawned on her, she faced me and replied, "before, I always watched someone I know make oatmeal cookies and she always puts cinnamon. So when I saw that the recipe didn't have cinnamon, I figured the secret ingredient would be, yea, cinnamon!"
This woman sure is something.
The weekend went by so fast. After she made those oatmeal cookies for me that morning, I just didn't have the heart to kick her out of the house. I asked her if she had any relatives she can stay with. But she only shook her head and told me she doesn't have a family anymore.
I figured she must have been an orphan. What other explanation is there, right? So I let her stay in my house, provided she does chores around every so often. Surprisingly, she agrees. By getting more of my mother's old clothes, she has always been out and about: She does the laundry, but I had to teach her first. She washes the dishes, but I had to teach her still. She cleans the house, that I only had to guide her with, and she waters the plants every day. Strangely enough, before I went to work that Monday morning, I found her in the garden, talking to the plants.
"What are you doing?" Again with her vibrant innocence.
"I'm talking to the plants." That, or being stupid.
"Talking to the plants?"
"Uh-huh. Do you want to try it?" Her eyes were wide and gleaming with excitement.
So I squatted beside her and faced a peony. "Hello, peony, Botan here was talking to you just now. I think she has totally lost it."
"Kurama!" She pouted and swatted my arm playfully. "You're mean."
I had to laugh at her display. Yes, I had to laugh. Her childish antics and naivety were enough get me out of being grumpy and mourning 24/7.
"Come on, Kurama. Tell the plant something nice."
Tell the plant something, oh for the love of… I sighed. "Peony, don't you think Botan is looking lovely today?" A blush crept through her cheeks, and even now that we were not in the pale moonlight, her beautiful skin still glowed in the sunlight this time.
"Botan," I had to ask. "Why talk to plants? It's not like they'll answer back." My voice had a tinge of irritation, I knew. But who can blame me? Talking to plants is stupid.
I know she noticed that I was somewhat annoyed, but she gave me a smile still. "Well, it's my way to let the plants know I care for them. You know, when I talk to them, at least they'd know I care."
I was taken aback. Actually, if I was standing on a cliff right now, I would've fallen and died. Did she just say what I think she did?
Suddenly, two kids, not older than eight years old, passed our front yard on their bikes, ringing their bells as they race each other.
"Kurama," she slowly tugged at my sleeve. "I've always wanted to learn how to ride a bike. Will you please teach me?"
Teach her how to ride a bike? Does she even know where I was about to go? I had work to do, tons and tons of work to do! There are phone calls, meetings, paper works! Heck, it's even payroll day today and I have to do last minute editions to the liquidations. And she wants me to stay here and teach her how to ride a bike?
"Sure, why not?" I felt my face get hot as she hugged me excitedly and squealed in delight. I guess this is how it feels to be enthralled with the magic of love… you feel your own arms moving on its own accord to encircle her tiny body and press her closer to you.
But no, I still don't believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy or leprechauns, and heck no with the Easter bunny. But as far as I know, angels are not as bad in my book, at least, with this one in my arms, not anymore.
Chapter two: According to HER, angels never say goodbye.