naomiyukari08 scribbles: La Corda D'oro is not mine. It is Yuki Kure's property. Unbeta-ed by my beta-reader. T.T
Chapter 18: Deal
A wind passed by his face making his long purple hair dance with the breeze. It was cold but he didn't mind. Azuma Yunoki expected this. Everything was planned by his grandmother for his future and nobody should interfere even he, who is the one involved. He was ready for this, ready to be a puppet of his grandmother but on his last year in high school everything changed. He wants a future of his own, he wants to dig his own path and he wants to feel loved. Love? What is the definition of love? He smirked as a figure of a girl started to form in his mind. Azuma was standing in the Yunoki garden, maybe the most peaceful part of the house second to his room. The garden was filled with fallen leaves, the trees painted with the shade of red, orange and bright yellow signifying that the cold season is coming. It was like the garden was having the same feelings as him. He smirked again, no, he does not need to feel like this. He should be happy…right? Or that was what people expected him to feel. Happy, excited and contented to find a woman to live with and spend the rest of his life with her at a young age. He will say the truth that he did not expect to have a very intelligent "wife" and she can be compared to a goddess too. Question is… Does he deserve her? Of course, he is very much deserving for that kind of girl. He is a Yunoki and he deserves the best. And she is the best. As his grandmother said to him, she was made for him and only him and he was made for her and only her. Their beauty stands out and their intelligence is above average that surely they can solve any conflicts that will hit their clans. But why? Why does he feel the opposite? He feels that it was unfair for him and for her. Unfair that they were not given a chance to choose. Unfair that he was not with his toy. Yes, his most valuable toy. He wants her and only her. How can an intelligent woman be teased? He won't have fun because she will be too smart to out wit him, too knowledgeable to fall to his traps. In short, Maori Kiyumi is boring… and no fun at all. As for Kahoko, she is by nature gullible and oblivious. No, he should not think of Kahoko, being with her will put her into great danger. What happened last night was a good thing. It won't be hard for him to not talk to her to not touch her. But who says he will give up on her? He smirked as another cold wind passed by.
"Azuma-san." A chilling voice said from the veranda. He contemplates if the wind is colder or the voice that he just heard. Anyone who heard that voice will surely shiver and maybe they'll have goose bumps or maybe they will wish that they are like statues. He composed himself and put his positive mask on. He then looked at his grandmother with all grace.
…ah…she found me… might as well attend to her needs… He thought.
…after all… she's getting old… He added.
"Hai, obaa-sama?" He answered.
"Fix yourself. She'll be coming and you should look presentable. Fix your kimono and tie your hair. I'm thinking that you should cut your hair before your wedding. People might think that you are the bride if your hair is that long. And I don't think it is appropriate for a man like you to have a long hair." His grandmother said in an authoritative manner.
…Hai… Hai… I know my hair is annoying you. Why not just say it straight?... He thought.
"Hai. Obaa-sama. Obaa-sama, I have a question if you will permit me." He asked respectfully.
"Proceed." She answered eyeing her grandson seriously.
"If my fiancée, Maori Kiyumi-san wants my hair to be like this will you still ask me to cut it?" He asked smiling to his grandmother.
She curled her lips.
…As I thought… He thought in advance.
"I will try to persuade her but if she likes it that way, do what she wishes. You are her fiancé and you are to please her." She said.
"Hai, Obaa-sama. Please excuse me, I'll now fix myself." He said as he bowed to his grandmother and walked towards the house.
"Kiyumi-sama, we've arrived at the Yunoki residence." The driver announced. Maori who was looking outside the window for the whole trip glanced at the rear view mirror and nodded once to the driver. The driver went down and opened the door for Maori; she was surprised to see a traditional Japanese gate in front of her.
…Oh…so that's why I am wearing a kimono… The Yunoki family is very traditional… She thought. The gate opened slowly and it revealed her mother who was wearing a cream coloured kimono.
"Oh. Maori! I was so worried about you. Good thing Len found you in who knows where!" her mother said as she greeted her daughter with a tight hug. Maori realized that Len did not inform any of their parents of where he found her. She thinks that was a good thing or else her Aunt Arika will be hearing from her father.
"Don't worry, mom. I am okay." Maori said as her mother loosened her tight hug. Aemi touched Maori's forehead feeling it.
"Good. I'll thank Misa and her family later for taking care of you. You never get a high fever that's why it really made me worried." Aemi said sighing.
"Well, it's cold…" Maori replied shrugging. Of course, she herself was shocked that she got a high fever. Like her mother said she never gets one. Plus the weather is not the reason. She is well, let say immune to this kind of temperature. Aemi looked at her daughter confusedly but dropped what she was about to say.
"Anyway, come, the tea ceremony is about to start. Remember Maori to be…" Aemi started but was cut off by Maori.
"Be respectful to the elders and adults, bow to them and always use honorifics. Be sure to use the honorific -sama with Azuma Yunoki-san's grandmother. I know mom." Maori rolled her eyes as both of them entered the front gate of the Yunokis.
"I'm just reminding you, Maori. Now give me a smile." Aemi said.
Maori looked at her mother and smiled sarcastically. As they went inside the house, she was greeted by Yunoki's mother, sisters and she assumes the eldest brother.
"Welcome to the Yunoki household, Kiyumi-san." The man said as he bowed his head to her.
"Thank you for welcoming me in your house…Yunoki…sama." Maori said as she bowed her head.
"Please accept this little gift from us, Kiyumi-sama." One of the twins said. Maori was sure that, it was not Neuro but Miyabi because well, this girl is too gentle to be Neuro. Maori stood up gracefully as she received the bouquet of flowers that Miyabi handed to her.
"Thank you, Yunoki-san." Maori said as she smiled at her.
"Come and let us proceed in the tea room. They are waiting for us." Reiko Yunoki, Yunoki's mother said as she gestured them to start walking towards the room she said.
While they were walking at the hallway the Yunoki siblings started talking to her.
"It is so nice to meet you Kiyumi-san, I'm Akinori Yunoki. I'm sure you met my younger sister Neuro Yunoki and her twin Miyabi Yunoki." The man said as he gestured to his sisters.
Neuro gently pulled Maori to stay at the middle of her and Miyabi.
"We have other siblings, big brother Akiyoshi and big sister Sahori. They can't be here today because they are the ones who are assigned to look after the business while everyone is here for this important occasion." Neuro said. Miyabi nodded on her other side.
"I am glad that my little brother found his match. Obaa-sama said that out of all Azuma's fiancé candidates you are the one who really matches him. But, if I may say, I'm kind of jealous that my younger brother will marry a really stunningly beautiful woman at a very young age of 18." Akinori sighed as Maori blushed at the comment.
"Be quiet now, we are entering." Reiko commanded as they stopped at a sliding door.
"Are you ready to meet the whole family Kiyumi-san?" Reiko questioned as she raised her knuckles to knock.
"Yes, Yunoki-sama." Maori replied. God, help her now. She cannot think of anything, she wanted to run away again but what good will it do, this ceremony will only be delayed plus she doesn't want to be a disgrace to the Kiyumi family name. She inhaled and exhaled deeply as Reiko knocked.
They entered the room where the tea ceremony will be held, there Yunoki's father, Maori's father, Maori's grandfather—father side, who she's not close too—and Yunoki's grandmother—who was sitting at the head—were gathered at a table.
"Welcome, Kiyumi Maori-san to the Yunoki house." Akashi, Yunoki's father said. Maori bowed her head,
"It is my honour to be here." She said.
"I think you know why we are all here. Maori-san, please take your sit beside Azuma-san before I continue." Azuma's grandmother said gesturing to a seat beside Azuma. Maori glanced at Azuma whose hair is now tied in a high ponytail, the shorter strands hanging gracefully on the sides of his face. Azuma smiled at her encouraging her to sit with him while Maori just nodded. Maori settled herself down beside Azuma, he smiled at her as she tried to smile back.
"As I was saying, we are now officially welcoming The Kiyumi Clan in our family. This marriage of Maori Kiyumi and Azuma Yunoki will give prosperity to both families financially and personally. Of course, before we announce it to the public I want an assessment of your future life… for traditional purposes." Azuma's grandmother said. Maori looked confused when the door opened and revealed a lady.
"Ah. There she is. This is Mahiko-san, she is a fortune teller." Maori rolled her eyes discreetly as the fortune teller was introduced. Azuma on the other hand gave the fortune teller his charming smile. Akashi Yunoki who was sitting on the other side of Maori stood up and offered his chair to Mahiko. The fortune teller who has long dark wavy hair that reached until her shoulders, wearing a somewhat gypsy outfit—Maori describes it to be a gypsy outfit—stared at the two teenagers, nodding slightly as she settled herself down at the seat that was offered to her.
"An Aquarius and a Gemini, am I right?" Mahiko said as she started. Maori and Azuma nodded.
"From the signs… it is a perfect combination. It is a good start. Now, let us see with the cards." She said as she laid her cards.
"Pick one." Mahiko gestured to Maori.
The room was awfully silent. Azuma's grandmother stared at them seriously. From time to time she will look at Mahiko then to Azuma and her. On the other hand her grandfather who was sitting on the opposite head of the table did not give any emotion at all. He didn't even care what is happening in front of him. As for their parents and Azuma's siblings, eagerness was written all over their face.
Maori sighed as she picked the center card and gave it to Mahiko.
Mahiko received the card, look at it for awhile then said "Prosperity to both companies. There might be obstacles ahead for the girl but with her husband's help she'll be fine… even perfect."
Maori heard her parents gave a relaxed sigh. At least on the Kiyumi side, this proposal and decision was good. She also saw at the corner of her eyes, the nod of her grandfather to her dad.
"Your turn." Mahiko gestured to Azuma. Azuma smiled and did what Maori did, choosing one of the cards at the end.
Mahiko received it and she furrowed her eyebrows as she read the card.
"Love is essential in a relationship my dear boy, that is true but the other girl will give you nothing. She won't give you the happiness that you are seeking or the wealth that you need to live. Be loyal to your Aquarian wife, I am assuring you that love will blossom someday between the two of you." She said.
Azuma for a second widened his eyes. He never thought that, that girl in front of him will read this one. His parents looked worried as Azuma's grandmother shot a glance at Azuma. Azuma gave a small smile then he felt a hand touched his own.
"I trust him. He is too kind to cheat on me. I am sorry but may I ask that this fortune telling to stop? For me hearing the last statement was enough. No matter where you look at it our life path will be full of obstacles." Maori said as she held Azuma's hand. Azuma's grandmother turned her gaze to Maori; she pressed her lips then spoke.
"I guess Maori-san is right. I am sorry for making you uncomfortable Kiyumi Maori-san. Mahiko-san, you may go."
Mahiko stood up at once, bowed at the group and went out.
Azuma looked at Maori for awhile stunned by the fact that she was able to say something like that in front of his grandmother.
"Let us proceed to the next agenda. Kiyumi Hiroki-san you may precede." Azuma's grandmother said after composing herself.
Hiroki nodded. "This proposal was agreed upon by both families, Maori and Azuma-san you will be staying in one house for now. This is to make the media believe that this is all true. For some reasons they think that this is a façade that we are doing to hide your issues my daughter."
Maori looked dumbfounded. This is overboard! She will rather let the media bombard her with questions about her issues than let them know that she is staying with Azuma Yunoki in one house!
"Dear, this is the only way to make your life easier when it comes to the media. The media thinks that this is all a joke but we want them to see that this is for real and of course, it will be healthy for both of you." Hiroki added.
"But… that's too fast." Maori said as she lets go of Azuma's hand.
"No more buts Maori-san." She heard her grandfather speak for the first time on that meeting.
"This marriage is not only about you. There are many factors that are involved. The most important thing is both families' businesses will merge which will make both families the strongest in the business field, showing the people that you are together will make this more evident that both families are serious in this merge." Her grandfather added.
Now she gets it. Why… oh… why she is not close to her paternal grandfather because he is all about the Kiyumi business whereas her maternal grandfather was the opposite. When it comes to work he was focused, nobody should disturb him but when he comes home he was the grandfather that he should be.
"I think it will be for the best." Azuma smiled at her. Maori looked back at him, his eyes piercing her. She can sense that the tension inside Azuma's body is getting tighter by the minute.
"Uhm… can Azuma and I…be excused for a minute?" Maori said turning her gaze to Azuma's grandmother.
Everyone in the room looked confused about her request even Azuma was.
He knew that it was because of him that she requested that. He knew that Maori was intelligent and sensitive enough to sense what he was feeling right now. He needs to get out of the room before he goes berserk. Whatever both families released to them was too hard to comprehend even for him who can get anything at once. He knew that in someway it was his grandmother's idea that both Maori and him live in one house. What is she trying to do? Surely it involves Kahoko Hino…
Azuma's grandmother sighed. "Maori-san, this is rather an amusing request but I guess the reason is that?..." she waited for her to answer.
"Well…I'm feeling awfully dizzy and I need Azuma-san beside me if ever I collapse." Maori said. As if that is the reason.
"I see. This meeting seemed to be a little harsh for you. Azuma-san, take Maori-san in one of our guest rooms. Then come back when she is ready. At the mean time all the sons and daughters should leave except the board members. I want this marriage and business merging to be perfect. You may go." Azuma's grandmother commanded.
Azuma and Maori stood up, bowed their heads and went to a different room. Azuma knew what Maori's plans are so he leads her to a sound proof room where important family meetings were held. At the moment Maori heard the sliding door closed she sighed heavily.
"This is getting overboard." She said as she rubbed her temples.
"If you weren't that a controversial skater this won't happen." Azuma said as he leans at a wall behind her. He is now willing to take off his mask to her after all she will be his wife. A couple should not hide secrets from each other.
Maori smirked. "So the real Azuma shows up to me now. Good for you. And he is accusing me that this is my entire fault?" She said as she turned and glared at him.
"Well, didn't you hear your father's reason? Do you want me to repeat it for you?" He said as he raised an eyebrow.
"I clearly heard it. No need for you to repeat. But let me tell you, I know my father, he won't suggest something like that. I can see it on his eyes earlier. He was against it." Maori retorted.
"So are you saying that it was my family's fault?"
"Well, maybe. Somebody manipulated my father. If your grandmother manipulated you for 18 years, she can manipulate anyone outside of the family easier. I'm guessing your grandmother planned this all along." she said as she place her right hand on her waist and turned herself to look at the window.
"Heh… I'm not against you with that. My grandmother is a manipulator after all that is why the Yunoki Clan is still on top of the business industry. And yes, she planned everything from the start… no doubt about that."
"Why… me? I don't understand it. Your family is very traditional. Won't your grandmother choose somebody who learned the same culture as you are?"
"Ask her." He said simply.
Maori turned to see him "Why do I sense that you are perfectly fine with our situation?"
"Because I am fine with it." Azuma smiled at her.
"Spill. What do you want from me?" Maori said raising one of her eyebrows and looking at Azuma seriously.
"Hmm… You are really boring. I can't make your mind go around in circles. You want to get out of this marriage do you?"
"Yes. I do. And I know you do too."
"Hmm… maybe. What if, I tell you I can make that happen, with a condition of course" He said as he moved himself away from the wall.
Maori smirked. "I don't make deals, Azuma Yunoki. Plus, I am a Kiyumi I can get out of this mess if I really want to." She said as she turned her back from him again.
He walked and stopped inches away from her back. He leaned until his lips reached her ears. Maori can feel at the back of neck the air that Azuma is exhaling.
"Then you give me no choice. But to drop what I can give you. I'll promise to get you out of this marriage and I promise to grant the most unreachable wish you have. This will come with the price though. My condition is the price." He whispered on her ear.
Maori stiffened. She hoped that what she was thinking was not the one that Azuma was thinking.
"You are that desperate to get your own wish?" Maori asked staring straight at the window.
"Remember Maori, you said it yourself. My grandmother is a manipulator it means that I have a blood of a manipulator. I am trying to manipulate you in this. If you think this is still desperation… then maybe it is because it is about my own happiness." He whispered darkly.
"How can you give me my unreachable wish? It is unreachable, right?" Maori asked.
"Simple. I have my sources. Is it a deal now, Maori?" He said her name seductively but instead of being seduce it gave her chills in her spine.
She took a deep breath.
"What can you give me?"
"That's a good girl. You are now interested." Azuma said as he stood up straight.
"I am not interested. I just want to know what I'm getting myself into is worth it."
"Very well then. How does this sound to you? I can bring you back to your territory. The skating rink." He said easily.
Maori looked at him abruptly. "You can't. It is too late. The block championships in Japan are nearly over."
"Who said you are competing and representing Japan? You can't represent this country first because you weren't born here second you are not a citizen here."
"How did you know that?" Maori said furrowing her eyebrows.
"Sources. Both your parents have dual citizenships both in England and in Japan but you; you are only a citizen of England. You can study here in Japan because you have a student visa. Back to the topic, in England, the regional championships are just about to begin. Another month to wait, am I right?" He said with a smile.
"Yes… But you can't do that. Plus, I can't compete with only a month's training." Maori said.
Azuma smiled at her. "Don't you want to hear my condition? Before you agree to this?"
Maori looked at him. This man is not listening to her.
"My condition… Make Kahoko mine." He said it simply. As if he was asking her to cook him his favourite food.
"Excuse me? You want me to manipulate Kahoko? No deal!" Maori said walking away from him.
"Opportunities knock ones, Maori. Once you say no to this, I won't bring up my offer again even if you will be my wife."
Maori walked back at him and pointed a finger to his face.
"How can it be an equal deal?! You are giving me MY dream! MY wish! No one is there to interfere! And as a payment I am giving you a human person who has her own mind, her own emotions and her own feelings?! Kahoko is not a toy that you can just buy in a department store! Are you out of your mind?!"
"She is a toy for me. She makes my day… colourful… eventful." He said calmly gently putting down the pointed finger of Maori to her side.
Maori grabbed her hand before Azuma can even place it on her side.
"You are insane! Of all the guys who like Kahoko, you have the worst definition of your feelings towards her!" she shouted as she walked away from him.
"Is it a yes or a no?" He asked.
"A NO OF COURSE! I cannot give you Kahoko!" She answered.
"Okay then… say goodbye to your skating dream." He said it simply again. Maori scowled.
"Okay! Okay! Wait! Can you not think of another condition?"
"Now, who is desperate? You or me? No. No Kahoko. No Skating. It is so easy to manipulate Kahoko. She's gullible. And you are a Kiyumi. You are also born to manipulate." Azuma said placing his pointer finger and thumb under his chin and shrugging.
"What about my parents? Surely they will know about me coming back." Maori said.
Azuma smiled. "Do not worry about anything. Worry about your own part of the deal. Now is it a yes or a no. I am giving you two things Maori and you are giving me only one. And that is Kahoko. Yes or no." Azuma said as he approached her and offered his hand for a handshake. Maori looked at Azuma's hand for awhile before gently reaching for it.
"If this is both for our happiness, then deal." Maori said.
"Very good girl." Azuma said as Maori rolled her eyes.
It was a mistake. She is sure of it. Why didn't she think it over? Azuma Yunoki had manipulated him in just a span of five to fifteen minutes. How can she let that happen?
A sound of an overblown flute like a sound of a shrieking voice was heard in the whole house again.
"Maori! What was that sound?" Aemi asked as she goes up the stairs going to Maori's room.
"Nothing Mom." Maori answered back.
"How can that be nothing? That is the fifth out of tune sound tonight and the way you play the piece it is not flowing. Is something bothering you?" Aemi said as she settled herself in front of Maori's door.
"Mom, it is nothing. I'm just tired." Maori sighed as she placed her flute at the music stand.
"Then rest. You're destroying your flute. Maori, make sure that you have packed all your things needed for tomorrow." Maori heard her mother said as her mother's voice faded away.
She slumped herself on her bed. She placed her right arm on her forehead.
"Why… Why did I agree?... This is wrong…" Maori whispered as she closed her eyes. Then she heard her phone ring indicating she received a text message. She stood up and went to get her cell phone which was placed on her study table. The message received read,
…I have contacted the people who are involved. The game shall begin in no time. Sweet dreams and Good Night my darling fiancé…
Message from: Azuma Yunoki
Time: 8:30 PM
She threw her phone at the middle of her bed and grabbed the nearest pillow, covered her face and screamed as loud as she can.
Monday came rather quickly than usual and Maori was thankful for that. She and Azuma were now living in one roof with two separate bedrooms and two servants provided by the Yunoki family. Azuma was suspicious about why the Yunoki family was the one who provided the servants but he dropped the issue for now. For the meantime he and Maori should be careful for whatever his grandmother prepared for them. The house was chosen by the Kiyumi family, the location was at the middle of both family houses, both a twenty minute drive to the Kiyumi residence and Yunoki residence. Azuma and Maori will stay at that house during weekdays and as a request of Hiroki Kiyumi himself, both teenagers will spend Friday evenings until Sunday mornings in their respective family houses. His reason is that Maori was his unica hija and it will be too quiet in the Kiyumi house. The house was modern not like the typical house of the Yunoki's. Maori was relieved for that as for Azuma he said that he will be "willing" to adjust. In fact he likes the house better than his grandmother's house. It is just small but it seems he could call it his home, what really affected him the most was the grand piano which was placed at the living room. His grandmother curled her lips when she saw the beautiful Fazioli grand piano which was carefully shipped from the manufacturing factory of Fazioli in Sacile, Italy to Yokohama, Japan. Hiroki said that it is a gift from the Kiyumi family to the two teenagers who has the same interest and passion for music. Maori smiled and explained to Azuma's grandmother that she has a fondness in playing the piano sometimes. Maori eyed Azuma and smiled at him too. He understood that the Kiyumi heiress did some research too. He shook his head indicating that he won't change his condition. Maori's smile turned into a frown that was unnoticed by the people around them. Azuma smirked.
"Who the hell had this idea that I come with you going to school? Your fangirls will be crazy. By the end of this day, my ears will bleed my uniform all dirty and my hair will be everywhere. I'll be dead for sure." Maori hissed through her gritted teeth.
Azuma and Maori are now on their way to school using only one car—Yunoki's car to be exact. Maori was shocked not to see her driver waiting for her in front of the gates of the Kiyumi residence instead she found a black car with a purple haired man inside it.
Azuma smiled. Good thing he asked the driver a while ago to put up the divider of the car.
"Calm down, Maori. It is not my idea but your grandfather's and my grandmother's idea." Azuma said. After saying this Azuma heard Maori mumbled to herself which the only thing that he understood were the words "stupid" and "grandparents".
"Eh? Kaho, you are running to school today?" Kahoko's sister asked as she mixed her coffee at the kitchen counter.
"Yes, why?" Kahoko answered as she briskly made her grilled cheese breakfast.
"Well, isn't it a black car often comes here at around this time? I even see the car when you leave early. It is as if he is always waiting for you to come out." Kahoko's sister said as she sat herself on the table bringing the cup of coffee near her lips.
Kahoko stopped what she was doing at the kitchen counter and stared at the window that was located at their living room. She knows who her sister is talking about.
"Ah, well maybe he had an important thing to do today." Kahoko said as she packed her grilled cheese sandwich.
"Ah… so it is a he. I am hurt. You are not telling me that you have a rich boyfriend." Kahoko's sister said.
"EH?! Big sister it is not like that! He is my senpai who just wants to help me! Anyway, I'm going to be late." Kahoko said as she checked the time.
"Sure…We'll believe that. Kaho, as long as you are not dating a man who has your father's age I won't mind." Kahoko's mother said as she went down of the stairs. Kahoko closed the front door at once not wanting to hear another word from the people inside it.
"And I thought this will be all gone by today…" Maori said as she looked at the window. The car was running slow now, slower than usual. The gate of Seisou was full of people again… and it is not because of the students. Cameras flash from time to time taking pictures of the school, some were scribbling with their trusty notepad and some were talking with their companions. There are only two things in common with all of them first, they came from the media and second, they were expecting them—Azuma and Maori.
This time Maori sighed. "I left England to avoid this but they still sensed me here…"
"Face it. You're a media magnet." Azuma said as Maori glared at him. Azuma smirked at her.
"Driver, we will wait for a chance to get inside the school but I doubt it. For now, keep that pace." Azuma commanded.
Outside of the vehicle, half a block away from the said school a group of girls were walking and chatting.
"Kaho, you seem earlier than usual. Did you eat something?" Nao asked.
"Eh? It seems that my alarm clock worked this morning. That's all." Kahoko said. Actually, she woke up earlier than her alarm clock. This is unknown to everyone but it has been a ritual for her to wake up early if possible so that if Azuma comes to pick her up she'll be ready and won't be teased or bombarded by that ebil senpai of hers that she is a very irresponsible student.
"Hmm… seems the media won't stop until Maori says something to them. I now feel sad for her." Mio said as she looked forward. Kahoko and Nao looked at the place where Mio was staring. They saw all the media men and women flocked at the gate of Seisou Academy.
"HINO-SAN!" They heard a man's voice shout from behind them. Kahoko looked behind her and found Kaji Aoi running towards them.
"Aoi-san. Good Morning." Kahoko said giving her gentle smile.
"Hmm… Hino-san, my morning wasn't really good awhile ago but now that I saw your sunshine smile not only will today's morning will be good but the rest of my week will." Aoi said as he stopped at the group.
Nao and Mio giggled while Kahoko's cheek turned like a red apple.
"Aoi-san, please stop teasing me." Kahoko said while bowing her head.
"I'm not teasing you Hino-san, I'm telling the truth." Aoi replied.
"Hey, Kaho, we will go ahead. Scenes like this should be kept private by the two people involved." Nao said patting her friend's shoulders and grinning at her. Mio on the other hand started to giggle.
"Mu… Nao, Mio, Aoi-san is just being too kind to me nothing more." Kahoko said as her face turned redder, if that is possible.
"Whatever you say. See you in class, Aoi-san, Kaho." Nao said as she and Mio walked away from the "couple".
Aoi gave them a wave.
"Are, the media is still here?" Aoi inquired as he looked at the group of media people.
"Ah. Hai. I feel bad for Maori-san. Hopefully this will stop soon." Kahoko said as she turned her gaze at where Aoi was looking at.
"Ah. Don't worry, by tomorrow they'll be gone. I heard from Kanazawa-sensei last Friday that Director Kira asked for a restriction order over the media. This is with the help of Yunoki's and Kiyumi's family of course. It is said that the restriction order will be effective by tomorrow. But the restriction order is only effective when both or one of them are in school, outside school they can still be bombarded by them." Aoi said.
"AOI-SAN! There you are! Satoshi-sensei wants to talk to you about your involvement in the Tennis Tournament." A gen-ed male student said running towards them.
"Eh?! Aoi-san, you'll be competing?" Kahoko said turning her gaze to Aoi.
"I might. I have not decided but if I will, will you root for me?" Aoi asked.
"Of course I will!" Kahoko said.
"AOI-SAN!" the gen-ed student shouted again.
"Hai! Hai! I'm coming. I'll go ahead Hino-san. I'll see you in class." Aoi said as he ran towards the direction of the gen-ed male. Kahoko smiled as she saw him walk away. As Aoi entered Seisou, her gaze turned towards the media people, it seems what they are waiting for has arrived. Camera flashes lighted the small area at once, microphones were held high and video cameras professional and the home video cameras started to roll. Kahoko imagined what is like to be in there at the middle. She shivered, it is sure scary. She can hear the muffled questions of everyone, high pitch voices overlapping the low pitch voices and the middle range pitch voices. How dreadful is it to be at the middle. Every time someone moves, she will see a glimpse of Maori or Azuma. Maori's face was hidden inside her slightly long curly locks. As for Azuma he stood there, high and proud. No emotions are being reflected on his face. It was not blank, as Kahoko took another glance, she inspected it. It was serene. How can he do that? She has no answer. Another one moved, this time she saw the middle part of their bodies. She just realized. Maori was a step behind Azuma, as if he was protecting her, trying to hide her from the cameras. And then her heart sank, her legs trembled but it wasn't enough to make her fall. Azuma was holding her hand, tight as if he doesn't want to let go. She tried to tell herself that it was nothing. Azuma was trying to protect her and holding her hand will be one of the ways to protect her. But something on her mind keeps on saying "he is protecting her fiancé." Yes, Maori was his fiancé… but this is all about money, power and name. She told to herself.
"Hello, miss. You seem to be very interested of what you are seeing right now. And oh of course you will be interested you are from that school." A mister said while approaching her. She looked at the person who interrupted her thoughts. The person looked presentable; he wasn't wearing a suit and tie but the usual polo and jeans. Hair neatly cut, facial hair fully shaven and in his hands a notepad and a pen.
"Ah. Don't worry, miss, I am from the press." He showed Kahoko his ID. Kahoko was relieved for a moment but then she realized what the mister was up to. She started to take a step forward but a hand stopped her from doing so.
"No, no. I can't go any closer to that group but I need some scoop you know. So let us start… What do you think about their relationship? How do you feel about it? How do they act inside the school? Do they act like lovers or do they act just like friends?" he asked as he started to position the pen and paper.
"Uh… A-Ano… I don't think—" Kahoko's answer was stopped as a man's hand interfered grabbing the notepad from the journalist.
"I won't allow you to ask nonsense questions to people who are not involve." A cold icy voice said.
"NANI?!" The man was enraged as he saw his trusted notepad fall from the puddle as the man lets go of it.
"Who are you to command—" The man stopped as he saw the man's face. Len Tsukimori eyed him coldly, raising one of his eyebrows.
"Tsukimori-kun…" Kahoko started.
"Come along. Hino." Len said as he started to walk away from the scene. Kahoko just stood there and stared at the departing Len.
"OI! I will write about this! You know! I will!"
"Can you?" Len asked as he stopped for a second.
The man pursed his lips.
"Hino-san. I said let's go." Len said as he started walking again.
"H-Hai!" Kahoko said as she ran going to Len. When she reached Len, she saw a cold faced teenager. She couldn't think of a word to describe his beautiful face. Hurt? Disgusted?
"That man… Never talk to him again." He said with his monotonous voice a few seconds later. He didn't look at Kahoko instead he stared straight.
"Why?" Kahoko asked hesitantly.
"He works for a tabloid company. He is the most disgusting journalist I know. He writes down the opposite of what you say. He creates fake rumours. He once created a rumour about my mother four years ago. Of course, the rumour wasn't true but it greatly affected the career of my mother. Aemi Riyoka, Kiyumi-san's mother helped my mother to regain her name and to sue that man. Eventually, the case was dismissed only banning him from writing anything about the Tsukimoris. If he will write something about us, he'll get fired and be jailed." Len said emotionlessly.
So that's why he hated Amou Nami. Kahoko pondered.
"Thank you, Tsukimori-kun." Kahoko said smiling. His heart skipped a beat as a blush started to shade his pale white cheeks.
He was confused why he did that though. Seeing Kahoko from afar struggling and feeling uncomfortable bothered him so he walked briskly to see what is happening. Only to see the man he hated the most. His blood bubbled at once and grabbing the notepad from him was his first instinct. What is weird is that… it was Maori who he was worried about that time. Imagining the man writing disgusting things about Maori is just unforgivable for him. He had enough of people saying something bad to his valuable friend. Last night he read the whole article about Maori in the British Magazine that he saw. It was sickening to read rumours. He knows Maori too well that he knows she won't do that or that is how he thinks about her…
"Good Morning, Hino-san, Tsukimori-san." A voice said to them. Len just realized that they have arrived at the front gate of their school. By coincidence as they were about to enter the school, Maori and Azuma just got out of the commotion and was about to enter the school too. He nodded in acknowledgement.
"Good Morning… Yunoki-senpai, Maori-chan." Kahoko said trying to give them the best smile. Maori who was now standing beside Yunoki smiled at them. Len noticed that Maori is pale… Maori is normally paler than them… but what he noticed is that her natural blush seems paler and her lips… white?
"Maori, ah… Kiyumi-san, are you okay?" Len asked raising an eyebrow at her. Azuma who was smiling at them glanced at the girl beside him.
…She seems rather quiet… He thought.
"I am a little dizzy that's all. I just need to go the nurse's office to grab some medicine for this." She said while rubbing her temple.
Well, who wouldn't be dizzy with that kind of crowd around you?
"I'll go with you then. We'll see you later, Hino-san, Tsukimori-san." Azuma said as Maori nodded and they started to head at the nurse's office. Both teenagers who were left behind stared at the departing "couple".
Both minds not knowingly were thinking the same things. There is no doubt that whoever who will see this scene or any scene with the two seniors together in it will think that they are perfect. Kahoko's heart sank as she sees Azuma asking Maori to give him her books so that he can carry it for her.
…There is no love involve…
This phrase keeps on repeating on her mind. How can he say that there is no love involve, seeing them like this? Maybe there is no love involve yet today… but what about tomorrow or the next day?
…Yunoki-senpai… love is unpredictable; it will come to you with no warning… The person that you should ask to show you love is the person right beside you not me… who now sees and realizes how far you are to me… You are just someone that I admire and I hope it stops there… no, it should stop there… Kahoko thought as she saw them take a right turn in one of the buildings and they are gone.
To see her with another man wasn't a problem to him. In fact, he knew that he will see her with a lot of men not only men coming from their home country but also with other nationalities. But what he didn't expect is to feel this way as to see her with his senior. Of all people to see her with, it is the person who studies at the same school in the same department and also the person that you can hear the name being called and being talked about five days a week and eight hours a day. No day can't you not hear his name to be said by a girl… whether they are only shouting his name for no reason or they are talking about another occurrence about him that will be placed on the "slam book and/or memorial book of Yunoki Azuma-Highschool years". He won't deny it… she looks perfect for him and so does he when he is beside her. If ever they will walk pass by another couple, that couple will surely be envious of the beauty that both of them are emitting. Why him of all people? Why him? Who, he knew he could not compete with? Who, he knew he won't be as good? Who, he knew no matter how good he is in playing the violin will be inferior to him because he is more than a dedicated musician he is also a dedicated Yunoki who can someday conquer the society with his two bare hands? He will never be good enough for her… Why is he even thinking this way? Why is he even comparing himself to an incomparable person?
…You are just a mere friend Maori… nothing more… nothing less…
And as he saw them turn… he thought he saw them both giving a small smile to each other which made his heart burn into ashes.
Maori was sitting down on the bed, swaying her legs from time to time. Azuma on the other hand was sitting on a chair steps away from the bed. His legs cross while his eyes were closed and his left hand fingers gently rubbing his temples. Maybe he should ask the nurse too to check up on him after Maori.
"Your blood pressure is just low. That's all." The nurse said as she loosens up the air of the manual blood pressure meter.
"You may take a rest for a while. Yunoki-sama, do you want me to check on you too?" The nurse asked as she takes out her stethoscope from her ear.
"I'm fine… But maybe." He said straightening himself and the nurse walked and stopped beside him.
"Kiyumi-sama, you won't mind me asking some private questions, right?" The nurse asked as she placed the arm band on Azuma's right arm.
"No, as long as it will be useful for my medical records." Maori said as she swayed her legs one more time.
"Of course it is. Well then, have you tried taking a pregnancy test?" The nurse asked casually as Maori and Azuma froze.
"You see, your dizziness might be caused by being pregnant. Let us not push that possibility away, you are engaged and well… you get my point. You are old enough to know these things." She said as she started to concentrate on getting Azuma's blood pressure.
Maori and Azuma were stunned. What the hell is this nurse thinking?
"Yours is just normal… Maybe it is just psychological." The nurse said to Azuma.
"So, I recommend you do it." The nurse said as she turned around to face Maori.
"Ah…nurse-sama, you see… I'm not taking away the possibility that it is also psychological. I'm claustrophobic so what happened earlier might have triggered my dizziness." Maori said as she blushed.
The nurse nodded but she seems unconvinced. Maori sighed.
"Nurse-sama—" Maori was about to re-explain again that she doesn't need a pregnancy test but Azuma stopped her.
"What, Maori-san is trying to say is, we have not do it. We both came from a very traditional family so we believe in marriage first before…" He paused for awhile as he tried to find the right words to say.
"…procreating. So it will be a miracle if it turns out positive. It will be a total waste of time and… it will be a little disappointing." Azuma said as he smiled to the nurse.
Maori shot a glance to Azuma. If death glares could kill… he might be dead by now.
"Oh. I see. Well then, good for you. You are living healthy. Anyway, both of you can still stay here until you feel better. As for me, I'll be at my desk. I'll write your excuse slips." The nurse said as she closed the door leaving Maori and Azuma inside a room in the infirmary. Maori heaved a sigh and gently lay on the bed, resting her head on the pillow underneath her.
"Penny for your thoughts, Kiyumi-san?" Azuma asked amusingly as she watched Maori from his chair.
"Why… me?" She asked Azuma again as she looked at him with a tired look. Azuma raised an eyebrow.
"I mean of all Japanese girls in the world why will your grandmother choose me? Your family is very traditional. My family… well isn't." Maori said.
Azuma closed his eyes.
"My grandmother is very fond of you. She'll do anything to make you part of our family. When she heard that Kiyumi-sama—your dad—is having his first born child and knowing that she's a girl, she's been planning to contact Kiyumi-sama and arrange the marriage between you and my eldest brother. Problem is she could not contact your dad. For 15 long years, she was looking for you. Well, there was a point when she was becoming hopeless with seeing you, so she decided to drop you out of the fiancé candidates of my brothers 6 years ago. She then worked on the marriage of both my brothers. She was disappointed but at the same time pleased to find suitable wives for them. And then one day, she saw you and your family in the news—reports saying that you are coming here in Japan. She was eager too eager to grab the opportunity, she knows that someway your family is having a hard time with the media. She didn't expect the turn of events, that the Kiyumi family will be seeking our help, she thought that she'll be the one to do the first move. She erased all my fiancé candidates and set her eyes on you. You see Maori… she'll do anything to have you in our family. Money, Power, Wealth and Name are the reasons. The Kiyumi Corporation is one of biggest company in Japan. Head to head with the Yunoki Group and with the news that by the time you'll be the vice-president of the company together with your cousins that it will expand to other businesses and be called The Kiyumi Group of Companies there is no doubt that my grandmother wants you… to create the biggest and richest company in Japan. It is all about business Maori nothing to do with you or with me." Azuma said simply.
She stared at him not knowing what to reply to him. She doesn't know why but when she was younger her father told her that this might happen and she should be ready. Her mother even assured her, that it will be alright that eventually she will fall in love with the man that was chosen for her just like her parents. To be honest she is ready, a number of men starting from middle school asked her hands, she never gave them even if she has growing feelings with that certain man. Eventually that feeling will die and she'll continue to entertain the ones her father are introducing to her. But now, something is bothering her… like something or someone is trying to stop her from doing this. Definitely Kahoko is one person because she knows Yunoki likes her but there is another one… the one that she is longing for…
She suddenly sat up and felt her cheeks hot. Azuma who was calmly sitting on the chair steps away from her bed opened his eyes slowly and raised an eyebrow at her abrupt movement.
"Uh…I… I think I am feeling better now." Maori said as she moved away from the bed trying to distract herself from the sudden thoughts that just hit her head awhile ago.
"Suit yourself." Azuma said as he stood up and opened the door for her.
School was over for the day, the sun setting slowly and a man was walking at the courtyard going towards the gates of Seisou.
…out of tune… a step.
…the pitch is too high… another step.
…the tempo is too slow… he stopped and glanced at the school behind him staring at the practice room windows.
...What is wrong with these people?... He thought.
"Oya… I haven't seen you in a while Tsukimori-san." A long purple haired man said as he smiled and walked towards him.
"Is something bothering you, Tsukimori-san?" Azuma questioned when he stopped a few steps away from him.
He looked away, "Iie, nothing is bothering me."
"Ah, I'm glad that I saw you today. I want to thank you for taking care of the tabloid reporter earlier. It seems that the reporter is trying to get negative information about Maori. He had written one, but thankful it was blocked by our families. Thank you again." Azuma said smiling at him. Len looked at him.
"It is nothing. But I won't be doing that again because it is none of my business." Len said as he fixed his collar.
Azuma raised an eyebrow for a second then smiled.
"Do not worry. We are tightening our guards now. From now on, I'll be keeping an eye on her so you don't have to bother yourself from doing that again."
Len looked at him. After a moment they heard giggling girls coming out from the school, a gen-ed student and music department student.
"Oh, Azuma-san, I'm sorry I'm late, Kahoko and I had so much fun conversing that we forgot about the time." Maori said as Kahoko walked behind her.
"There is nothing to worry." Azuma said as he smiled at her. Len just stared at the two young ladies.
As Kahoko saw her beautiful senpai's face whatever conversation she and Maori had were all erased. It dawned to her again, the sadness, the pain and of course the reality that there is a barrier between her and the people in fron of her now.
"Ah… Maori-chan, I'll go ahead." Kahoko said starting to walk ahead.
"Ah… Kaho, why not join Azuma and I? We'll give you a ride. Is that bothersome, Azuma-san?" Maori asked.
"Not at all. In fact it will be a relief if you will join us. A girl like you should not walk alone in this time of day." Azuma answered with his princely smile.
Kahoko didn't know why but she knows that after hearing his words her face is starting to turn red. Redder than her hair.
…Iie, to erase these feelings for you. I should keep myself away from you… She thought.
Len noticed the change of aura of Kahoko. Maybe it will be too awkward for her to be with the two seniors. He heaved a sigh.
"I'll take her home, if that will be okay to the both of you." Len said.
The three of them stared at him. Maori looked at him with great shock. What is this feeling inside her? Why is it like something hit her hard on the chest? Like someone hit her on the chest purposely using a hardbound book choking her.
"I don't mind at all. Will you be relieved, Maori-san?" Azuma asked as he turned his gaze to his fiancé.
Maori stared then she realized that Azuma just asked her something, she smiled.
"If Kahoko will be more comfortable… then I don't mind at all. I just want somebody to accompany her home." She said.
"Ah. Thank you Maori-chan for your concern. I think, I'll just go with Tsukimori-kun. I'll be fine." Kahoko said trying to breathe again. Thank God! Tsukimori was there to save her.
"Then we will go ahead. Let's go, Hino-san." Tsukimori said as he started walking while Kahoko followed him.
The two seniors stared at the departing juniors. Azuma was the first one to react.
"Heh… Tsukimori, can be a gentleman if he wants to, Don't you think? His house is the opposite direction of Kahoko's house… so I guess that man will do anything for the one he loves." He said walking away towards their ride.
"Let's go, Maori-san. Our dinner is waiting for us." He added.
Maori walked towards the car bothered by the actions of her friend. She felt these feelings before not as strong as this one though. Maybe this is the answer of why she really wants to get out of the marriage. She is falling in love with the blue-haired violinist without noticing it and she needs to locate her breaks immediately.
naomiyukari08: I'm so sorry for the late update. I think I will never update earlier than I want to. T.T Anyway, this chapter is way better than what I have written months ago in my binder. I almost forgot about Len and Kahoko that their scenes here were just added weeks ago. T.T I was examining this chapter in my binder and I realized I have not written anything about Kahoko and Len… O.o So I thought of some scenarios where I can put Len and Kahoko in a scene… and I'm sorry if it is LAME! XD
The family members of Azuma Yunoki are all OCs except for the grandmother and his sister Miyabi. XD Actually, I am confused with this chapter… all through out the chapter it is AzumaxMaori and then at the end of this chapter it goes like this--O.o
Anyway, I'll end my ranting here because I need to go back to work. T.T Of course, reviews is well appreciated and it motivates me to write. :) See you on my next update.