The Tea Prince
Part One: Earl Gray
The move back to Tokyo had a been a difficult one for Yuuki. It had been almost eight years since she had gone away, but now here she was again. It was a large city, but it was still strange that she was back in the city that she had fled in a panic before. Surely, Tokyo was big enough for her to avoid anyone who knew her eight years ago. She was sitting with the windows rolled up. A small boy, her son, was sleeping next to her.
He had a hard time after his father had died. It was more than a week ago since the car accident happened in Kyoto. Kinomoto Akihito was a good man. He had adored his son and worshiped his wife. Yuuki still had no idea how she was going to make sense of it all. How was she supposed to explain it to her son?
The black car pulled to a stop at the shrine. Yuuki still had the urn on her lap, clasping it with both hands. Her son stirred and mumbled, "Mama?"
"We're here, Shun-kun," said Yuuki. She looked into his dark eyes, thinking about how soulful they were.
Shun rubbed his eyes. He looked out the window and said, "It's full of dead people."
"Yes, but they are people's loved ones. We can still visit your father whenever we want," explained Yuuki as the door opened. "We have to go now." He climbed out of the car first and she followed, carefully so as to not drop the urn.
A priest met them along the way as other cars began to gather. Shun clung close to Yuuki, holding onto the edge of her blazer. He wanted to hold her hand, but she was unwilling to drop one from the urn. If she could cling to it, she would do it forever. A breeze came as they proceeded forward.
The whole funeral was a blur that it was over before Yuuki knew it. Her parents along with Aki's parents came, but neither she nor Shun really said anything. As soon as the urn was taken by Yuuki's mother, he took her hand and refused to let it go. When the last guest was gone, and it was just the two of them, he still hung on to her. Yuuki thought to herself that he was never going to let her out of his sight again.
When Shun fell asleep next to her on the sofa, she lifted him up to his bed. She tucked him in bed. She watched him sleep as she had done many times again. Aki said that he was a good boy and that he was going to be a fine man. She was certain of that too, before Aki died. Shun was a handsome boy. There was no denying that he would be a very handsome man. How she wished that there was a trace of Aki in him somehow.
Yuuki left Shun after kissing him good night. She went and looked out the window at the skyline. She wasn't sure how she was going to do it this time. It seemed as if she and Shun were meant to be on their own. The rest of the night had been a long one. She wondered how she could be a widow with a small son at the age of twenty-five.
The next morning, Shun was up early and found his mother had already made breakfast. He watched from around the corner as she made a cup of tea for herself. "Mama," he greeted almost shyly from around the corner.
"What do you want to do today?" asked his mother as he walked up tot the table and climbed into booster seat.
"I want to go and visit Papa," answered Shun.
"So would I," agreed Yuuki quickly.
With that they were quickly ready to go out and visit Aki's grave. The car had been totaled in the wreck, so Yuuki and Shun took the train to the shrine to visit Aki. She wondered how many more days would it take before she felt whole again, but she had something to hold onto. Shun was always a quiet child, very much like her.
On the way off the train, she walked by the newspaper stand and saw the headlines. The business news always had something on one of the F4. Namely, it was Doumyouji Tsukasa and his wife, Tsukushi. They were the proud parents of a brand new baby boy. It was big news in Japan and the rest of the world and the little baby was already declared the crown prince of the Doumyouji Corporation. It had been very difficult for Yuuki to have no contact with her best friend for years. She simply walked by the newspaper stand.
They went to Aki's grave, laying the fresh cut flowers they had bought. Shun was steady on his feet, and all Yuuki could think about was how he was the only one who was keeping her on her feet. At that point she made a silent promise to her husband. She wasn't going to force her sorrow and grief on Shun. She put her arms around him from behind. "We have to go now, Shun. We have to enroll you in school."
"Yes, Mama," nodded Shun as they walked away.
Doumyouji Tsukushi was walking up and down the nursery with a bundle bawling against her shoulder. He hadn't stopped once. "Shh," she whispered as she tried to hum again. It was to no avail. He was not going to stop and continued. Then, her husband walked in. He wasn't wearing his coat and tie yet, preferring to put those on when he was on his way to work. "He is definitely your son," said Tsukushi ruefully.
"Give him to me,"ordered Tsukasa as he took the boy.
"Watch your shirt," warned Tsukushi. "You're supposed to be in a meeting."
"It's okay," said Tsukasa. It was a miracle because the moment the baby settled into Tsukasa's arms, he had stopped fussing and crying.
Tsukushi just took off the towel from her shoulder. "That is just not fair," she declared as she sank into the rocking chair. "I have been trying for hours and you get him for an instant and he stops."
Tsukasa laughed. "Of course, he'll stop for me. He knows I'm the boss." Tsukushi rolled her eyes at him. She smiled at him, feeling more love for him than she thought possible as he held their son. He went on, "You should let the nanny handle this. I don't know why you aren't letting her. We didn't hire her just to sit around and do nothing."
"I am so tired right now that I choose to not argue. You and him have conspired against me," said Tsukushi. "You win. I'm going to get some sleep."
"Finally, I have an ally," chuckled Tsukasa as he looked at his son. He then frowned, "How dare you fall asleep while I'm talking to you?"
"Just put him down," pleaded Tsukushi. "You need to be at the meeting and the baby and I need to sleep."
Tsukasa put the baby down after patting his back a bit more. He kissed the boy on his head. What little hair the baby had grown was already looking like it was going to curl. He and Tsukushi walked out of the nursery after shutting the door behind them.
They walked back to their room, which wasn't too far. Tsukushi had requested that part of the house just be reserved for the family, which Tsukasa agreed to. He had wanted to keep his wife all to himself and now with the baby, it was nice to go somewhere and shut out the world for a bit. The demands of the world stopped there and he was happy with his family.
Tsukushi settled into their bed. Tsukasa was sitting along the edge of the bed. He kissed her on the lips as she closed her eyes. The baby monitor was on her night stand and the baby was also fast asleep. "Have a good day at work," she whispered as he pulled away from her.
"I will. Get some rest and I hope that the baby is good. I'll tell the nanny to look after him so you can sleep for a while," said Tsukasa.
When Tsukasa left, Tsukushi had a strange dream. She had a dream of her best friend, Yuuki. Of course, it was hard to call her that. It had been so long since she had seen or heard from her. She awoke to the sound of the baby crying. She didn't have time to think about it.
She immediately got out of bed and found the nanny already there with the baby. She was an elderly lady from England. Almost grandmotherly.
"Hullo Doumyouji-dono," said the nanny. She was holding the baby who was crying again. "Don't worry too much about him. He'll outgrow it. Doumyouji-sama was asking about the same thing."
Tsukushi was grateful for the help and advice. She said, "I suppose I'll go back to sleep. I haven't slept very much since we came home."
"I'll be right here, Doumyouji-sama," promised the nanny.
Tsukushi returned to her room, but she couldn't go back to sleep. She had Yuuki on her mind. She thought back to the last time she had seen her. It was almost eight years ago. It was a day that she could never forget. Tsukushi remembered how anxious Yuuki was. She said that she was going to Kyoto to help out a family member who had fallen ill, and Tsukushi didn't think much of it. At first, she tried to contact her, but Yuuki was never available to speak with her. Over time like so many friends, they lost track of each other.
It was then that Tsukushi picked up her phone. She called her assistant, "Hello Tanaka-san."
Her assistant sounded faintly surprised, "Hello Doumyouji-dono. I wasn't expecting you to call. How is the baby?"
"Demanding like his father," replied Tsukushi. "I need you to look into something for me. I have a friend from junior high and elementary school. I need you find her for me. Her name is Matsuoka Yuuki."
"Is there any other information you need from me?" asked Tsukushi's very capable assistant.
Tsukushi gave her the information that she had. She had a feeling that she was doing something more than just looking for someone. After having a baby, Tsukushi wanted to put things in perspective for herself. She wondered what she was doing now and if she was as happy as she was. Little did she know that this as a decision that was going to change lives.
Yuuki worked out of her house most of the time. She was looking through her husband's things. They were expensive cameras that he had used for his work. He was a photographer and they had met by chance. She remembered studying design in Kyoto, hoping to be a designer, and he was photographing the models that the student designers were using to model their designs.
It was fate. Aki was easygoing and gentle. He was a good father to Shun and even though his parents didn't want him to marry Yuuki, he did so anyway. She was going to turn him down, thinking that she didn't deserve him. Aki didn't care. They were married less than a year after they had met. That was almost six years ago.
She didn't want to go through his things. She wanted to keep everything the same way it was as always. She didn't want to believe that he was gone. She smiled at the pictures that Aki took of her and Shun. She wished that she had more pictures of Aki, but he always said that was the way that photographers were. They were behind the lens, not in front of them. She had a picture for Aki's shrine set up.
Shun was playing in the other room. He was a very meticulous boy when it came to play. It was probably from watching his father work. He carefully laid out the puzzle pieces. It was one of those 3-D puzzles that he put together. This was one of the Empire State Building in New York City. He was always playing alone.
Yuuki and Aki had hoped that they would have given Shun a younger sibling, but that never happened. Shun's birth had been very difficult on Yuuki for more than one reason. It was probably the only regret that Yuuki had regarding her marriage other than her husband dying. She thought about it as she watched Shun playing.
It was difficult not to think about who Shun looked like all the time. Especially when he was bent over looking at the puzzle pieces, trying to figure out how the pieces would fit. He was really concentrating that he was able to lock out the world around him. That kind of mental disciple was almost unheard of for a child of his age. Yes, Yuuki couldn't ignore that.
It was in that moment that she felt something break in her facade. She quickly dashed to the bathroom, shutting the door. She ran the water before sinking to the floor in tears. She failed to see Shun standing up, staring after her. He had heard the water in the bathroom running frequently. He knew what she was doing. He waited until she was ready to come out.
Author's Note: Sorry for such a short beginning chapter. I was partly inspired by a Korean soap on how I wanted to do the action for the story. The story might end up linked to my previous story. I am sorry if Tsukasa appears to be out of character. I promise that the story won't be as sad as this first chapter. It takes place about eight years after end of the story. I had the perfect title in mind. Who is the Tea Prince?
Disclaimer: I do not own Hana Yori Dango, but the story and its original characters are mine. Please use it with my permission.