A/N: Hello again! So, someone told me that Sorako seemed too Mary Sue-ish, with too many tragic events in the past. I really tried to make her not one. The only truly tragic event was Arata's death. Yes, she was sad when she left America, but it wasn't tragic. And later it will be obvious that she's quite happy away from her parents, especially since she still gets to see her siblings.
Sorry it took so long to write. And after I get back from camp, I promise to type and put up two chapters, both of which are fairly long. So please enjoy Chapter 6.
And I still do not own Beck. Unfortunately..... XP
"Really?! Oh my gosh! Sorako-chan, that's fabulous!" Sorako winced at her sister's unprofessionally loud squeal. The sister's were sitting in Ginami's office, almost an hour before school started, and Sorako had just made the mistake of telling her sister about Taira's visit. Hence the squealing.
"Itai.... Do ya have to bust my eardrums, Ginami-neechan?" Sorako asked, rubbing her ears for dramatic effect.
"Gomen.... I'm just so excited for you!"
Sorako grinned sheepishly and blushed before admitting, "Yeah, me too. But I would've preferred him NOT seeing me so sick..."
"But he brought you flowers – he practically asked you out!"
"Hey, don't get ahead of yourself, Ginami. There's always the possibility that nothing will come of it."
Ginami scoffed at her sister's version of realism. "Come on, the guy brought you daffodils! Do you know what daffodils mean in the language of flowers?! Uncertainty, respect, -"
"And unrequited love. Yes, I know. But I'm trying to be realistic, here, sis. He's on his way to stardom. And I'm just a clerk in a small store. Plus, in Japan it only means respect."
"I am being realistic. Before the other day, the two of you had met once and talked on the phone once, briefly, right? Think about it – he had no reason to buy you flowers and deliver them in person; he could've just sent a thank-you card! He likes you, Sorako. And you like him. You can allow yourself to be excited about this!"
Sorako gave a hesitant smile. "Perhaps, but you are TOO excited, onee-chan. Or have you forgotten that you are happily married?" Sorako asked, tapping the ring on her sister's finger.
"Like I could forget-" Sorako gave her sister a questioning look as she interrupted herself. "I'm guessing you're trying to change the subject?" Sorako nodded ferociously. Ginami seemed to be debating whether to give in or not. After another moment's pause, Ginami announced, "I'm pregnant," while quickly covering her ears.
It was Sorako's turn to release a deafening squeal, right as her phone rang. Sorako gave her sister a quick hug, then excused herself to answer the phone, stepping just outside the door.
"Skye! Wanna come see Ray's band play tonight?"
Sorako laughed at the eagerness in her friend's voice. "Hey Maho. What time?"
"Starts at 9."
Sorako mentally checked her work schedule for the night. She got off at eight-thirty. "Yeah, I should be able to make it. How much are the tickets?"
"I got yours – I'll have one of my friends bring it over to your work, okay?"
Sorako smiled, not that her childhood friend could see it through the phone. "Ok. Tell that brother of yours I say hi. I owe you one, Maho."
Maho started giggling. "Yeah. You do. See ya later okay?"
"Okay. Bye." Sorako hung up, puzzled by Maho's giddiness. Shaking it off, she stepped back into her sister's office, to continue her conversation with her sister.
After school ended, Sorako made her typical dash through the restrooms, feeling a bit like Superman, or rather Superwoman, as she changed from her school uniform to her work clothes. She was soon back at work, relieving the boss's tired wife from her shift. And as she was about two hours into her shift, the bell above the door rang for the first time that evening.
"Irrashaimasu." She called with a fake smile. The smile became real when she saw who walked through the door.
"Who would've thought that Maho's dear friend 'Skye' would end up being you, ne, Sorako-san?"
"Konnichiwa, Taira-kun. I'm guessing you're the one Maho asked to bring the ticket, then?"
"I wish I could say that I just decided to drop by, but Maho can be pretty persuasive. Not that I didn't want to meet you again – but I thought I was just delivering a ticket to an old friend of Maho's."
"Sometimes that girl's too smart for her own good. Or else I told her more than I thought..."
Taira laughed. "Or else she can put two and two together." At Sorako's questioning glance, he continued. "You're not the only one she talks to. She is, almost unfortunately, the younger sister of one of my good friends." He pulled an envelope out of the pocket of his jeans. "So here you go. One bonafide ticket. And..." He hesitated.
"Yeah?" Sorako asked after a pause.
"And if you... feel like staying afterwards, I can get you into our after party." He finished with a hesitant, but warm smile.
"Beck's playing?!" Sorako asked excitedly. Taira gave her an incredulous look.
"Sorako-san, do you mean to tell me that you do not know who our lead guitarist is? It's Minami Ryuusuke – called Ray by his sister and American friends."
Sorako face-palmed to hide her embarrassed blush. "Wow. DUH, Sorako." she said almost to herself. She then explained: "I knew that. I just didn't remember Ray being a nickname. I guess I always thought it was his real name, since that's all he ever went by." Taira burst out laughing at that, causing Sorako's blush to deepen. "Hey, cut me some slack. I was eight the last time I saw them!"
"Eight? I'd have thought that would be old enough to know better..." Taira commented after he regained some control of his laughter. "How do you know Ryuusuke and Maho, anyways? Maho didn't say, just that you were old friends."
"Well, I might've known better if Ray had been around more. Even at nine, he was always running around senselessly." The bell on the door rang again, cutting her off. She held a finger up towards Taira, to indicate that she'd finish in a few minutes. She greeted the customer kindly by name, then quickly stepped back into the storage area to get the book that had been ordered and placed on hold for him. After ringing his order up, she turned back to Taira as the customer walked out the door.
"Sorry about that. He's one of our regulars. Comes by something like twice a week, but never on a regular schedule. Orders some pretty obscure and hard-to-find books, too. Now where was I?" She paused for a moment. "Oh, right. Ray and Maho." She took a seat on the counter, twisted slightly to face him.
"Well, I told you I lived in America, deshou?" At his nod, she continued nostalgically. "When my family lived there, we lived in a mostly white, rich neighborhood. My school reflected that – there were a lot of rich, white snobs. Very few Asians; maybe twelve all told in the entire school, kindergarten through sixth grade. And in the school, there were only about five Japanese kids – me, my older sisters, Maho, and Ray. Maho and I met one day, and got along very well. We became good friends, despite our age difference. And, as young girls often do, we both spent a lot of time at each other's houses. So Maho knew Hioshi-niisan, Ginami-neechan, and A-Arata-neechan, about like I knew Ray. For a while, it kinda seemed like Ray was my brother, too. And I wouldn't be surprised if she said the same about my siblings."
The bell rang again and Sorako quickly jumped off the counter to go help the newest customer. When she came back, Taira was leaning against the counter, looking curious but waiting patiently.
"Nan desu ka, Taira-kun?"
"If you don't mind my asking, why did you stutter when you said your sister's name?" Sorako's smile fell, and Taira quickly said, "if it's too personal, you don't have to tell me, of course. I'm just curious."
"I don't mind. It's a bit difficult though... Arata-neechan died in a car wreck a couple years ago. Her boyfriend was driving... he wasn't completely sober, and he wasn't a good driver on his best day. He crashed into a pole. He survived with just a leg amputation, but she... she took the brunt of it. She died en route to the hospital." Her voice had turned more bitter and slightly cold as she finished.
"Oh. I'm sorry..."
"Kekko desu. I've gotten over it. Have to move on, ne?" Sorako rang up the purchases of the customer who had entered earlier, wishing them a good day as they walked out the door. She avoided Taira's eyes, blinking fast, trying to keep back tears. Sorako stepped out from behind the counter. "I'm gonna... check the books. Make sure they're still in order."
"Do you mind if I come, too?" Sorako shrugged a response, not trusting her voice or her face to not betray her.
He stepped in front of her and wrapped his arms around her in a loose hug. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you? I didn't mean to upset you..."
After initially stiffening, Sorako returned the loose embrace. "I'll be okay. Really. I, just,... I still kinda miss her. She wouldn't want me to keep crying over her, but I can't help it sometimes, y'know?" Taira just gently patted her back, ignoring the few tears that he felt fall onto his cotton shirt. After a few silent moments, Sorako pulled back from the comforting hug and flashed him a watery smile.
"Domo arigatou, Taira-kun."
"Any time." She turned to go back to her spot behind the counter but paused when she heard him speak again. "Oi, when do you get off work?"
Sorako checked her watch. "About an hour. Why?"
"Would you like to ride with me to the gig later? I mean, I have to go help get the stuff loaded into the van, but I can be back to come pick you up when you're done here, if you like..."
Sorako gave a small smile. "I'd love that." And I think I'm falling in love with you, her mind added.
He grinned like a child given an extra cookie. "Okay. I'll be back in an hour. Ja ne!" He turned and headed for the door, as she returned the phrase.
And hour later, the bell rang through the store at almost the same time as Riaki's "Konbanwa." came through the back door.
"Right on time, Riaki-chan; do you work the whole night shift tonight?"
"Yeah, just about. But the boss has hired one more person to help us, and he's supposed to be coming in about half an hour and working with me tonight. I got charged with showing him the ropes. Joy. Now go clock out – that hot blond over there seems to be waiting for you!" Riaki finished with a wink.
"Yeah, ok. See you later, Riaki-chan!" Sorako mouthed 'one minute' to Taira, then stepped back into the storage area to clock out, grabbing her purse before going back out the front.
"You ready?" Taira asked with a smile.
"Yep!" Sorako grinned as she climbed over the counter, rather than bother to go around. Taira looked a bit surprised, but recovered quickly.
"Let's go, then!"
"Have a good date! Don't bring her home too late!" Riaki called teasingly from behind the counter.
Sorako chucked a balled-up receipt that had been in her pocket at her ornery co-worker with a casual "Shut up." Taira just winked at Riaki, then held the door for Sorako with a calm smile. They walked out, talking casually about unimportant things like good friends, as opposed to two people who had met less than two weeks ago.
A/N2: Aww... isn't it sweet, Sorako's falling for Taira. The next chapter will focus more on Taira and Beck, and the chapter after that will focus on all of them! So please R&R, and encourage me to write. Of course, if you wanna flame, go ahead – all flames will convert into heat energy and be used to power some of my other stories.
Also, if you read Wait for Me before I took it down, I will be rewriting it, changing the name, and reposting at least the first 3 chapters this summer. Maybe more, if I can find time. Which will be difficult, but not impossible. So wish me luck!
Nee-chan: suffix for sister (very girlish or childlike)
Moshi-moshi: the way Japanese people answer the phone.
Nii-san: suffix for a brother (very girlish or childlike)
Kekko desu: It's (I'm, etc.) fine.