A/N—The idea for this story came after watching a K-drama called Bad Love and reading some Yunoki/Kahoko fanfiction afterwards. I'll put this in the disclaimer also but just wanted to throw that out there. Italics represent thoughts. Thanks for reading! :]
Disclaimer—I don't own the plot/characters for La Corda D'Oro. Plot inspired by the Korean drama Bad Love.
- - -
"Hino, you're going to be late!" her mother rang out while swiftly rapping on her door three times.
Kahoko let out a histrionic sigh before shutting close her jewelry box that she'd only managed to unlock moments prior. She had only begun trying to get ready and already she was out of time. Taking a final glance at herself in her small bedroom mirror she let out a helpless sigh and gave her frizzy hair a final pat down before getting up from her vanity.
I barely had time to brush my hair, she thought pitifully while sliding open her fusuma door and stepping out into the small main area that was a combined open kitchen and dining room in their new apartment. It was surprising that her mother was up this early. She sat on a green pillow near the low-table in the center of the "dining room", a cup of coffee raised to her lips.
Kahoko gave her mother a weak smile but internally grimaced as she looked around the room. This was the first time she saw the apartment during the daytime, seeing as they moved in last night. The small window in the back, although covered in grime, brightened up the place. There wasn't much to look at, however. All she saw was a mess of shoji screens with the occasional tear, tatami mats with red streaks of questionable origins, and way out-dated kitchen cabinets. She didn't have much time to dwell on the décor if she wanted to be on time for her interview, though.
"How did you sleep?" Hino asked, already knowing the answer, while heading for the door.
"Fine," her mother replied with a small wave of her hand dismissing the matter. "A-aren't you going to have breakfast?" she questioned, her voice laced with worry.
"There's no time." Kahoko looked at her cellphone. "I need to leave early to make sure I can find this . . . " she trailed off as she picked up her old briefcase and the pamphlet that rested on top. "Sanuki Bus Terminal."
Her gaze returned to her mother as she slipped on her shoes from the doorway. "Don't worry," she said with a small smile.
"I'm leaving," she called out, giving a small wave before opening the door to the hallway.
"Good luck!" she heard her mother call out before she closed the door again. The rusty hinges made a discordant squeak that grated on her nerves. After checking the door knob twice she was thankful that the lock at least seemed to be in good condition. She looked down the dimly lit hallway at the other doors and hoped that there weren't any trouble makers staying near her mother while she was away.
And hopefully no horny teenagers seeing as the walls are paper thin.
A blush rose to her cheeks as this thought unwillingly entered her mind. "Get your mind out of the gutter," she reprimanded herself in a whisper as she tried to quickly go down the many flights of stairs leading to the exit of the apartment complex.
- - -
Finding the Sanuki Bus Terminal was easier than she expected. As soon as she neared the intersection where the map in the pamphlet indicated the terminal should be she saw a large group of men and women—all of them in business suits and more than half of them talking loudly on their cell phones.
Eww. City life, she dismally thought, warily getting closer to the glob of pinstripes and leather shoes.
Now that she was away from her mother's vigilant eyes she didn't have to guiltily hide her displeasure at her current situation. Her return trip to Tokyo was being severely marred by the fact that it was practically mandatory. Her old apartment complex and the surrounding complexes and town shops had all been sold off to the Daehan construction company. The very company she was now heading to for an interview to become the President's secretary.
Ironic. Very ironic.
She let out another sigh as she tried to commit to memory her surroundings. It was difficult, though, considering that the large, gray skyscrapers here seemed to frequent every street she had passed so far in Japan's megacity.
Shaking herself slightly, she tried to clear her mind of these depressing thoughts. It wasn't like her to dwell on the negative. She looked around again, trying to focus in on something unique that she could use to remember her bus stop. It was then that she noticed a green bench just behind the huddled mass of people that no one seemed to be using. Casting a disparaging look at the mob once more she neared the bench with hesitation.
A wave of understanding coursed through her as she now took a full look at it. Although there was nothing wrong with its foundation or the seat itself, there was a very crudely drawn picture on the upright wooden part that was . . . more than a little graphic.
She figured that any self-respecting business snob would flat out refuse to sit on such a bench but since everyone seemed to be so absorbed in their own person she gladly took a seat in the center, trying to use her body to cover up the inappropriate image as best she could. This bench could now act as her reference point for her bus stop and also served as a welcome sanctuary from standing too long in high heels.
- - -
When the bus finally drew near she waited until everyone else got on before entering. Quickly paying the small toll, she tried to look on either side of the people in front of her in an attempt to spot a seat next to someone who wasn't yapping away on their cell. Luckily, the din in the bus seemed to be less than outside because some people had the decency to end their calls before getting on. Her line of sight started in the back since she figured the first couple people would quickly fill up the front row seats. It seemed she was right because she noticed for the first time a cute girl in corner of the last row sitting by herself. . . with no cellphone!
It seemed that luck was at least partially on her side in Tokyo since no one else in front of her took the seat that she had mentally picked out. With a wide grin she approached the seat next to the pretty girl and cleared her throat.
"Ah, excuse me. May I sit here?" she politely asked.
"O-of c-course," the teal-haired girl stuttered out with a small smile.
Kahoko did a mental happy dance before plopping down on the seat and casting her soft-spoken seat neighbor a grateful glance.
"My name's Kahoko. Kahoko Hino." She held out her hand in what she hoped was a professional manner.
"S-Shoko Fuyumi," the young woman replied, giving Kahoko's hand a delicate shake. They shared another pleasant smile before looking away again.
"A-a-ano . . . " Shoko spoke out after the bus started moving again.
"Your n-not from around here b-by any chance, a-a-are you?"
Hino self-consciously fingered the hem of her skirt. Her lack of having time to get ready this morning coupled with the out-dated clothes she was wearing probably made her stick out like a sore thumb here.
"Oh! I-I m-meant that in a-a good way." Fuyumi held up her hands in a defensive manner. "P-p-people who ride this bus u-usually aren't very friendly," she continued in a lowered voice.
Kahoko let out a small snort. "Why bother whispering? It's not like anyone can hear you over this racket." She gestured to all the people who still were talking on their phones.
Shoko smiled slightly and continued on. "Did you r-recently get a job in T-Tokyo?"
"Not yet but I hope to soon." She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "I have a list of interviews I'm doing today starting with some construction company."
"I-It wouldn't happen to be Daehan Co., w-would it?"
Her eyes lit up and she gave a quick nod. "You work there?"
Fuyumi smiled and she too nodded her head. "I'm one of the system administrators."
"Wow, sounds fancy," Kahoko quipped. "You must be pretty smart, Fuyumi."
"N-not at all," she replied nervously but with a bashful smile. A thoughtful expression crossed her face. "A-ano, I didn't k-know they were hiring."
"I'm not surprised you haven't heard about it," Hino replied lightly. "If hired, I'll have the very unimportant role of secretary."
A look of worry flittered across Shoko's face. "Oh, another . . . " she muttered to herself.
"Another?" Kahoko mimicked in a confused voice.
"Oh! It's j-j-just that . . . P-President Yunoki g-goes through secretaries r-rather . . . quickly."
At this Kahoko laughed out loud. "What does he do, scare them off? Or are they just too stuck-up to put up with the stupid things he asks them to do?"
Shoko tried to laugh it off as well but a hint of concern stayed on her features. "I-I'm sure you'll be f-fine," she replied.
Although a bit perturbed by Shoko's reaction, Kahoko was more optimistic about this position than before. At least if she got this job she might be able to see Fuyumi.
And besides, how tough could a secretary position really be?
- - -
They both got off the bus together that stopped near the Daehan building. Although she imagined that a company with enough power and wealth to buy off part of a small town in Japan must be a pretty big deal, Kahoko was still taken aback at the grandeur of the company's building. It didn't look like the typical endlessly tall rectangular building but instead was designed to resemble two wings spread out with hundreds of blue-tinted windows. There was a vacant limousine parked in the front which seemed to be for the president to use whenever traveling and although it was on the exterior in public domain, the floors were covered with expensive-looking granite. She peered down at her own clothing and never felt more inadequate. She tried in vain to smooth out a wrinkle on her skirt once more before quickly entering to catch up to Fuyumi.
Once inside they headed toward the elevators.
"The P-President does all the h-hiring, of c-course. He's on the top floor." They both got on the elevator together and Fuyumi pressed two buttons.
"I get off on the th-thirteenth floor." She gazed up at Kahoko once more. "Maybe I'll see you tomorrow?"
"A-ah well . . . " Kahoko grinned and rubbed the back of her neck. "If not, I know where to find you."
"Right." The thirteenth floor arrived with a ding and Shoko stepped outside. They gave each other a final wave goodbye as the elevator doors closed again.
- - -
As soon as the elevator doors opened Kahoko's sight was greeted to a foyer with an empty desk and a pair of large double doors to her left. Considering that the desk was void of anything except a modern-looking computer, she figured that this was where the secretary would work.
And this must be the president's office, she thought, turning towards the oak doors. But before she could reach the handle, the door suddenly swung open from the other side.
"Ehh?!" was all she managed to let out before she fell backwards, landing squarely on her butt.
"Huh?" was the reply by the door opener as he continued to try to pry open the door all the way, causing the door's side to jam uncomfortably into Hino's thigh.
"Down here," she replied stopping the door with a death grip. Thankfully the door was closed again and the man who had knocked her out peered down at her. She saw that he had brilliant green hair and light hazel eyes that focused in on her with a disconcerted expression.
"I'm sorry!" he quickly apologized in a repentant tone as soon as it clicked with him that he had knocked Kahoko over. He extended his hand in an offer to help her get up.
She eyed the offending hand with scrutiny but let her grudge go after remembering that she was wearing both a tight pencil skirt and high heels—either of which was sufficient enough in hindering her body's ability to move or pick itself up—so she reluctantly accepted its support.
"I'm so sorry Ms. . . " hazel eyes swept over her upper body as he helped pick her up. "Wah—no name tag?" He glanced at her with a horrified expression. "Don't tell me you're a visitor?"
She patted down her skirt once more and threw him an annoyed glare, noticing that he had on a name tag that was similar to the one Shoko had donned. She was also surprised at how young he appeared to be also. She'd venture to say he was four years older than her, max.
"Actually I'm applying for a job here."
With that he instantly calmed down and stopped fidgeting. In a playful manner he pretended to wipe sweat off his forehead.
"Pheewww—" he whistled. "That's a relief. For a second I thought you were some important visitor who would go and complain about me to President Yunoki. He's totally looking for any reason to fire me." He said the last part more to himself than to her.
Kahoko internally grimaced, taking slight offense to his sudden disinterest in her well-being now that he knew she was a nobody.
"But that's odd," he added, "I didn't know there was a position open." He glanced at her again with questioning eyes.
Not this again.
"Secretary," she added dryly in hopes that it would end the conversation.
"Ohh." His demeanor again changed as he glanced at the door again. "I'm sorry," he repeated placing his hand on her shoulder.
Kahoko glanced wearily at the proffered hand. "He's that bad?"
"Well," he lifted his hand off of her stiff shoulder, "just try to get on his good side, okay?"
She nodded her head. This is so ridiculous, she thought, incredulous to the reputation that followed the enigma wrapped in an enigma that was President Yunoki.
"Anyway, my name's Hihara. I'm the humble chauffeur," he added with a grin. "Good luck in there!" He said this with one last smile before heading toward the elevators.
"Okay . . . thank you? My name's Kahoko Hino . . . " she replied in a small voice to his retreating frame as he moved on without listening to her.
Or not . . .
Brushing off that odd encounter, she let out one last sigh before—this time cautiously—approaching the doors once more.
Let's get this over with.
- - -
A/N—This story will actually be related more to music later on. I swear. ( ^ ___^ ;;)