A/N: Sorry it's been so long folks, seems like I've made a habit of updating on a 2-year schedule. Hopefully I can break out of that and post more often, but no guarantees. Anyways, hope you like this chapter!
Disclaimer: I don't own the show, blah blah blah, who really reads this anyways?
"So, you're saying that a woman -"
"Girl. Pink hair, yellow eyes, not a woman." I interrupted, feeling aggravated at the shrink's drawling tone. This...girl is not a woman, not by any standards, no way in hell is she shapely or beautiful or in the possession of striking and mesmerizing eyes that bore into your soul that, uh, she's not a woman.
"Right, err, girl is continually... 'apparating', in front of you?" The shrink made sure to drag out the word apparating, as if his disbelief wasn't already apparent.
"Yes, apparating, and no, I'm not making this up. Listen, you're a doctor, aren't you? You went to school, got your PHD in psychiatry, and have the know-how to treat my, well, you know how to make these visions go away, right? So, give me some of those drugs you prescribe, and let's get this over with." I spoke curtly, too annoyed to put up with this man's incessant need to drag out these useless sessions. I want a good night sleep, I want these visions to stop, and I won't get either without the safety seal of a certified doc.
"I don't appreciate you trying to dictate my business, little one. Now, I'll be nice and keep this short: You don't need a prescription, and you don't need my help. Go home and get some sleep, and stop wasting my time with lust-addled visions of your high-school sweetheart." With that, the shrink closed his folder full of useless papers and placed the reading glasses he doesn't even need on his desk, suggesting a finality to the discussion.
"You're kidding me, right? I paid you fifty dollars for this bullshit? I didn't need somebody to tell me to get some fucking sleep, I need somebody to give me pills to stop these goddamn visions that are not of my high-school sweetheart, by the way. I don't know who this girl is, I don't know her name, except I do, and I can't handle this kind of stress right now alright? So you give me that prescription, or I swear I'll end this practice if it takes me my whole life, you hear me?" I stood up shouting by the end of it, feeling all of my anger and frustration boiling over and flushing my body bright red. I was ready to punch this incorrigible idiot for belittling my problems; feeling my fists clench and unclench, I knew if I didn't leave now I would level this old man and end up in jail because of it.
Realizing this, I stomped out of the room before I heard his reply, muttering a string of curses along the way. I answered the receptionist's inquisitive gaze with the middle finger and shoved open the front door, the cooling breeze of mother nature doing nothing to stave off my furious disposition.
The walk home was rather uneventful, leaving me to stew in my thoughts. That old bastard doesn't deserve to be called a doctor; how could he belittle my problems like that, what gave him the nerve? I thought he was a psychiatrist, whose job description was to help people with their problems, not aggravate them further!
I felt a shift in the air as I entered my apartment building, and I turned to see the manager's daughter looking right at me, as if I had a large bug on my face. "What?" I snapped, not in the mood for conversation.
"Oh, um, nothing, sorry. I mean, I need your payment for the month, my mother says I've gotta ask all the tenants to pay their rent because she's busy, and she says I'm cute and that helps with getting the men to pay. Not that I think she's right or anything, but um, she'll be mad at me if I don't at least ask, so-" Unable to listen to her blundering speech any more, I turned and continued up the stairs to my room, looking to finally end this torturous day. As I fumbled with the lock – damned thing never gave in the first turn – I heard the girl stumble up the stairs behind me, intent on her mission to extract the rent money from my hands.
"Dammit, why won't this lock. Just. Work." When the handle finally gave way, I ripped the door open and was on the verge of slamming it shut when I noticed an obtrusive foot barring its path.
"Please, I really need the money. Not for myself, for the rent. To give to my mother. The manager. Please?" The girl from before pleaded, fixing me with puppy eyes that would make most men melt. Unfortunately for her, I was not in a good mood, and I was not most men.
"Look, girl, I am not in the mood for this right now, okay? So if you would, please extract yourself from my doorway and bother somebody else, please?" I spit the last word with venom, hoping it would get my message across. Unfortunately, this girl was completely oblivious.
"It's three hundred, but if you don't have all of the money right now, I'll just come back later for the rest. So, um, maybe just a hundred for now? Or anything is fine, really, I just can't go back empty handed – please, mister, you're my only hope."
Man, this girl would not give up.
"Fine, fine! Come in, make yourself at home, brew some tea while you're at it. I don't care!" I left the door open and stormed into my room, plopping onto the first seat I could find; fortunately, it was my favourite piece of furniture. Sinking into the soft leather couch, I felt my muscles relax and my stiff shoulders drop, thankful for the familiar comfort of my home. I lay down on the couch, my impromptu visitor forgotten with the forced blankness of my mind. I felt a headache coming on as I slung my arm over my forehead, willing away the bright light that attacked my iris'.
"So, um, you said to make tea?" The meek female voice broke the heavy silence, startling me from my short rest.
"You're still here?" I spoke with annoyance, though tea was starting to sound like a very good idea. "Top right shelf, kettle's on the counter to the left of the sink."
I tuned out any sound after that, focusing only on the darkness that my elbow provided. I put all my effort into not thinking in an attempt to dampen my headache, but the concentration needed only made it worse. I sighed, removed my arm and sat upright, suddenly feeling a little uncomfortable. My head felt unnaturally heavy, so I pressed the palm of my hands against my forehead, as if it needed the extra support. I heard the swishing of a dress pass in front of me, and the clink of two cups set down on a table made me raise my eyes toward the sound. With a grumbled thanks, I sipped at the tea and leaned back against the couch, appreciating the warmth that spread throughout my body.
The silence was almost palpable as I slowly drank my tea, and I could feel the discomfort coming off in waves from the girl that sat across from me. When my mind finally cleared up to the point where I could hold a rational conversation, I broke the silence.
"So, you're here for the rent money, right?" At her nod of confirmation, I got up and headed towards my bedroom, where I kept my rent. Walking back out with the money in hand, I sat back down and placed the wad of cash on the table, pushing it towards her and taking up my tea once more.
I watched her curiously as she counted the money, nursing the hot drink all the while.
"Satisfied?" I smirked, amused at how she so studiously made sure of the amount a second time.
"Oh, um, yes, three hundred on the dot!" She gave me a warm smile, overjoyed that she'd finally gotten somebody to pay the rent. "You really saved me, mother would have been furious if I collected nothing the whole day. If...if you don't mind me asking your name, mister..." She trailed off, hope filling her gaze.
"Nandaba. But uh, you can call me Naota if you want, I guess." I suddenly felt shy, realizing just how cute this girl really is. She had soft brown hair that curled at her shoulders, a porcelain complexion that brought out the deep blue of her eyes, small curvy lips that lifted like a kitten's, and a dainty nose that tapered out just a bit. She was definitely of a short height, probably around 5'2", but that just enhanced her cuteness factor.
"Mine is Suzuki Haruko, but my friends calls me Haru. Nice to meet you, Nao-kun." Haruko reached out her hand, but I was too stunned to reciprocate.
You've got to be kidding me. Haruko? Is this the girl that's been haunting me? No, she doesn't look the same, not even a bit. But...maybe she's changed in the past 6 years? Wait, how did I know it's been six years?
My head started to pound as my thoughts spun out of control, and I pulled at my hair in a desperate attempt to divert the pain. I heard a faint voice laden with surprise and concern, but everything sounded erroneously far away, and I felt my consciousness slip into black.